Gorgeous Brownies (made with Courgettes)

Go on, try these brownies.  The addition of courgettes just sounds a little odd but the reward is heavenly.  These brownies are moist and delicious, everybody will love them. Use  good quality ingredients, cocoa, vanilla essence, etc. and don’t be tempted to use olive oil – it’s too heavy for this and the flavour is not great.

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½ cup sunflower oil                             1 ½ cups caster sugar

2 tsps vanilla essence                          2 cups flour

½ cup cocoa powder                           1 ½ level tsps baking soda

1 tsp salt                                                2 cups shredded courgette

½ cup chpd walnuts (optional)

 

Icing:

6 tblsp cocoa powder                                   2oz butter

2 cups icing sugar                                            ¼ cup milk

1tsp vanilla essence

Directions

1)     Preheat oven to 175 C. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking sheet.

2)     In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Sieve together the flour, ½ cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the courgette and walnuts, if using. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

3)     Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until brownies spring back when gently touched. Do not overcook.

4)     To make the icing, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and butter; set aside to cool. Mix together the icing sugar, milk and vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

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Celeriac, Potato and Rosemary Gratin

This is delicious at any time of the year but especially on those days when the bowl of grey sky is cupped close to the ground outside and trees stand bare and stark in a deep still silence. Inside, dry wood from the barn crackles and spits in the stove, the dog lies prostrate on the kitchen floor and the hum of chatter drifts in from the living room. Hot from the oven, sit this gratin in the middle of the table and dig in.

6 slices of bacon, chopped (optional)

420ml double cream

350ml milk

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 red chili, deseeded and sliced

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 celeriac, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

500g potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced

Pinch salt / black pepper

 

1. Heat oven to 180C. Grill the bacon, if using, until cooked and lightly browned, then set aside.

2. Bring cream, milk, garlic, rosemary, chili and mustard to the boil in a medium saucepan, turn off and set aside.

3. Pour a little of the cream mixture onto the bottom of an ovenproof gratin dish. Arrange a layer of celeriac, scatter with bacon, then season. Pour over some more of the cream mixture and repeat the same process, alternating potato and celeriac, finishing with a layer of potato.

4. Cover with the remainder of cream mixture, then bake for 1-1¼ hrs, until golden and vegetables are tender when a knife is stuck in. Leave to sit for 5 minutes then serve.

 

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The Lunch Pack

A bit of lunchtime craic and chat with Paddy, Mike W, Trish, Mike G and Séamus.

lunch

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Listen Up!

 

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Several new podcasts on the way later.  Listen to ‘Amazing Travel Living’ – a new show on Sound Out Radio broadcast at 1pm Thursday 30th January 2014.  Go exploring, blend in with Juicy Drinks, or go all out and dance on the table!

Also, listen in to The Lunch Pack at noon.  Join in, tell us what’s on your mind.  

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A Loaf of Lemon

Lemons

This Lemon Loaf is moist and tasty and easy to make, bringing a delicious aroma to your kitchen. It holds well over several days and also freezes well…

125g butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs (at room temp.)
125g self-raising flour 

zest of 1 lemon 

50g caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease an 8” tin.

Sift flour and baking powder together. Cream the butter and the 125g sugar until creamy and fluffy.  Add the eggs, flour and lemon zest.

Place mixture in tin and bake for 25 minutes approx.

In the meantime, stir the 50g sugar into the lemon juice. Spoon this mixture over the loaf when it’s removed from the oven and piping hot and still in the tin. Remove from the tin after about ten minutes and leave to cool.

Delicious with a cup of tea – at any time of the day!

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All The Wealth In The World

It’s the colours I remember most: the cabbage pink of the roses on the bright yellow curtains; the musty dust-speckled light in the corners; the very light itself, a sort of faded milky haze through a narrow mid-afternoon kitchen window that illuminated and concealed in equal measures.  A soft haze that existed both inside and outside the eye and prompted an intense yet relaxed awareness.

My mother was sitting on the chair in front of the sewing machine, a chair she regularly sat on as she made dresses from patterns and repaired other items of clothing for me and my siblings, shirts, blouses, jackets.  I remember the fabric strewn across her lap like a big stain, it poured onto the tiled kitchen floor, a flood of black and white cotton gingham.  Her fingers worked as she talked attaching a line of green braid to the fabric with small knobble-headed pins.

“You’ll always be rich with that,” she said glancing across the room at me.  “If you keep that you’ll always be able to say you have a bit of money.”

I glanced at the piece of paper in my hand, a corner of a pound note that looked like a small shard of glass in my hand, an icicle or a sword of a border and just enough of the note to show a tinge of decorative green.

“Hold onto to it,” she said.  “Mark my words, it’s something to keep.”

“It’s only a corner, and not worth anything,” I said with the wisdom of a ten-year-old holding it towards the yellow curtains with the cabbage roses.

She paused holding a pin in the air.  “Its worth is that you’ll always have a bit of money,” she said.

She turned the wheel and the sewing machine went clap-clap-clap, clap-clap-clap, clap-clap-clap-clap-clap and she bent over it guiding the fabric under the needle, the green braid forevermore set on the black and white gingham around the neckline and sleeves of the new dress.  I placed the shard of money in a little wooden box made of icecream sticks in my bedroom.  I’ll always have a bit of money, I thought, always, and this thought delighted me.

Later I would open the wooden box from time to time and smile at the shard of money, turning it over, looking at it, and replacing it back in the box.  But there came a time when mostly I opened the box to put something else in, something else that was important to that day or that time, something else, treasure, to hide from my siblings or save for some other time, a bright button red like the evening sun, my fathers old watch that didn’t work anymore, a pretty little bow from one of my shoes.  Eventually, the shard of money lay at the bottom of the box, forgotten.

Returning for my mother’s funeral many years later, I emptied the wooden box onto the table.  The shard of money was stuck in a corner as if it was reluctant to be found.  I scraped it out and held it to the old light.  What had I kept this for? A bit of money?  It occurred to me that that is what I had always had, a bit of money.  What I wanted was a lot of money.  Money that was real, money that I could spend to buy real things, money that I could spend without having to deny myself or loved ones.  It seemed to me that what I needed was a brand new money charm, something to attract a large fortune.  I didn’t know what that was but I was all grown up and ready.  I lifted the lid of the bin and dropped the shard of money inside.

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Worst Xmas Present

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All gifts are special, right? Some more than others… I went out and about to hear the horror xmas gift stories.

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