Category Archives: Recipes

Carrot Cake

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Salamanca has been experiencing some really odd weather today. This morning it was dull and cloudy, followed by bright sunshine and clear skies, followed by rain and dull skies, followed by bright sunshine and clear skies…you get the idea. Lately I’ve been on this fridge invaders mindset, where when I see something I can make into something else, I start baking/cooking immediately. I feel so proud that I haven’t thrown away or wasted anything in a pretty long time. Whatever it is, I’m finding a use for it.

As the weather is so changeable, I decided fairly promptly that I wasn’t going to set foot outside the apartment today. I took a look in the fridge and found three very lonely carrots, the only vegetable remaining after the great chop/sautée/roasting/sandwich attack. Not only were these carrots lonely, but chances are, they’re insulted. I don’t like carrots very much and I voice my distaste for them (the devil’s vegetable) quite openly in the kitchen. Yes, I am mean.

But I need to eat more vegetables, that aren’t always in the form of a salad. Even if that means the devil’s vegetable. They say to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. What is it about carrots? Babies eat carrots, children eat carrots…tiny rabbits eat carrots, for God’s sake. All these are more than enough reasons for me to join the club…and I’m convinced I’m losing my sight. I squint a lot these days. I hear carrots help with those kinds of ailments.

So these days, carrots find their way into my diet in three ways – in juice, like this with dinner, or in the form of a cake. Carrot cake. A timeless classic, in my opinion.

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For the cake:

2 eggs

100ml olive or vegetable oil

3 medium carrots, peeled and grated

150g brown sugar

175g plain flour

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

If you want to add chopped walnuts, add 75g to the cake, or if for decoration, 50g. I like it plain.

For the cream cheese icing (double the amounts below if you are using a larger tin/dish):

100g cream cheese

50g icing sugar

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Preheat your oven to 150C, and line a loaf tin with baking parchment, or use butter to grease.

Start with peeling and grating your carrots. I peeled mine, chopped them and put them in a small food processor. It takes a while to grate carrots. If you have the time and patience, go ahead. If you don’t, follow my lead.

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Whisk two eggs in a large mixing bowl.

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Add the sugar, grated carrot and oil and whisk together.

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Add the flower, baking powder and ground cinnamon and whisk until everything has binded.

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It will look totally unappetising – thick brown goo with orange flecks is what you’re going for. It will be appetising, really.

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Pour into your loaf tin using a spatula. Mine looks pretty messy, I was never too good with parchment paper! Leaving long bits of paper at the side makes it easier to remove after cooking. Bake for 1 hour, using a knife at this time to ensure it comes out dry when you insert into the cake. Let the cake cool for a further 5-10 minutes in the tray before removing.

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It should look a little something like this. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, so it’s ready for the icing.

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For the icing, use a fork to mix the cream cheese and icing sugar together. It won’t take more than 30 seconds stirring until you have a smooth consistency. Use a spatula to spread evenly along the top of the cooled carrot cake…and you’re done! I have adapted this recipe from trial and error and various different methods over the years. I hope you like it.

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♥ ♥ ♥

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Bacon and Egg Pie

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Do you need to harmlessly manipulate your Father/brother/boyfriend/male friend? Perhaps you need a favour? Or maybe you just want to treat the men in your life to something nice. Whatever the reason, it’s easy as pie.

How sexist! some may think. Women love pie and bacon AND eggs too! This is true, I do love this pie. It’s fast, comforting and perfect at any time of the day…yet I have no problem waiting for it to cook and then take it’s time cooling off. Each and every time I make this pie in the presence of a male, they hang about the kitchen excitedly, normally consume several slices and think I’m extra great…which usually lasts the rest of the day! The effect this pie has on a male is far greater.

Between preparation and cooking time, the whole thing takes 25-30 minutes. I will admit, I’ve become a little lazy over the years and now buy pastry instead of making my own..but it really is far, far quicker. This will leave you with more favour asking/praise time.
Depending on the size of the pie, you will need either a quiche dish or loaf tin. I only have a loaf tin at the minute, so that’s why I had to adjust sizes, but if you use a quiche dish, it will obviously serve far more.
The great thing about this pie is that it actually tastes just as good, if not better the next day. So leftovers are no problem.

Ingredients

Puff Pastry (1 pack for loaf tin, two packs for quiche dish)

1 packet of smoked bacon

Eggs (3 for loaf tin, 6 for quiche dish!)

Butter for greasing

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Preheat oven to 180C and grease your tin/dish. Carefully unroll the pastry. If you’re using the loaf tin, you can cut the pastry in half, which will be the base and top of the pie. If you’re using a larger dish, use one packet for the top, one for the bottom. Cover the bottom and the sides of the dish/tin with the pastry.

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Crack each egg right into the dish/tin on top of the pastry, being careful not to break the yolks. When you have cracked enough eggs to cover the base of your dish, it’s time for the bacon.

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Gently cover the eggs with slices of bacon. I used American bacon, but you can use lean maple cured rashers/bacon and cut the fat off if you like. Since the bacon is salty, there’s no need to add salt, but you can add pepper if you like.

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Cover the bacon and egg with the other half of the pastry, pressing the sides with a fork to seal the pie. Place on the  middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry looks golden brown and flaky. To ensure the egg and bacon are cooked, stick a knife into the middle of the pie and if it comes out dry then its ready to go. Let it cool for 5 minutes and serve. The below picture might look a little gross, but it tastes great! Serve with a big mug of coffee or tea. Some like it with a cold beer.

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A is for American…Pancakes.

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Pancakes are the ultimate breakfast food. Soft, fluffy, filling, versatile. I’ve been known to judge hotel buffets and diners based on their supply (or lack thereof) of the little cakes from a pan.

The most common recipes used throughout Ireland are reserved for Pancake Tuesday. We don’t tend to associate this recipe with breakfast time either, sadly. This aforementioned recipe commonly result in big, thick and soggy crêpes, which was something I could never get accustomed to, so for me, American pancakes win every time.

I blame Colorado for this doting affair. Living in Denver as a child, I remember long leisurely drives up the winding roads of the Rocky Mountains, stopping at a diner in the very quaint town of Silver Plume, a former mining camp. I would order pancakes with maple syrup every single time we stopped by, to the point where the guy at the diner didn’t need to ask anymore. That was dedication.

In order to chase those mountain memories, I tried a few recipes over the years. To my despair, they either flopped or they just plain didn’t taste right. Where’s the need for baking powder? Is buttermilk really a necessity? I longed for the holy grail of pancake recipes. One that I could memorise and feel smug about, one I could whisper into someones ear on my deathbed, as if it was the only pancake recipe worth making.
It wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Those Americans don’t realise how good they have it, I thought.

Sad times they were indeed.

Until last Tuesday!

I tried out the BBC’s take on an American Pancake Recipe, for Pancake Tuesday, naturally.  And it does not disappoint. It’s not just a winner in taste and simplicity, but it takes me right back to all my memories of Denver, sixteen years on.


I’m sure many of you have a great pancake recipe under your belt but if you want to try this easy recipe below, the pancakes will turn out perfectly in terms of texture, size and taste. Perfect for the weekend.

Your regular go-to pancake recipe won’t mind the affair….they’ll understand.

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Makes 6 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar (Please ignore my stolen sugar sachets. I knew they’d come in handy one of these days!)
  • 130ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter (cooled slightly) or olive oil, plus extra for cooking

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Sieve flour, baking powder and sugar into a large bowl

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Whisk the milk and egg  together until smooth (or there’s no yolk floating on the top!) Melt the tablespoons of butter for  about 30 seconds in the microwave, allow to cool slightly and whisk it in with the egg and milk mixture.

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Dump the whisked mixture right on top of your dry ingredients and whisk with a fork for about 60-90 seconds until the batter is smooth with no lumps.

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Put a pan on medium heat and use butter/oil. If you use butter, it will stay in the middle but smokes and you’ll have to wash the pan between pancakes. If you use oil, although it has a tendency to swim around the pan, it’s easier to work with. Use half a ladle of mixture each time. It won’t seem like much, but once you blob it on the pan (which can be tricky enough as it’s such a thick, sticky mixture) it’s easy to spread out with a spatula to the desired size and shape.

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When the pancake starts to bubble, flip it over and cook the other side. They take no time at all, so keep watch, or they’ll end up a little too brown. Serve with bacon, maple syrup, honey, yoghurt, fruit, Nutella, peanut butter..whatever you feel like! Don’t forget the coffee. Or mimosas.

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