Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Courgette & Walnut Bread

I love baking bread, but with little time on my hands I usually go for quick prepping bread, nothing usually that requires, yeast, proving and rising. Hence the bread I mostly make is soda bread, carrot bread, banana bread, and now more often Courgette Bread; zucchini, for our friends across the pond. 

I have been testing this recipe for some time now, trying to find the best way of baking the bread. I have tried a super fast food processor version and also a version by hand. I must say the version by hand is probably nicer than the food processor method, as the walnuts and and the shreds of courgette still give a bite. 

I was very fortunate last night that my brother Keith dropped by an amazing whopper of a yellow courgette; big enough for two loaves of bread. Keith was the one in the family blessed with green fingers. He grows potatoes out of old boots, chili plants, anything he touches in the garden grows. I on the other hand have a great knack of killing even store bought basil plants. So I was very grateful to receive this home grown treat. 

So here is my tried and tested recipe for Courgette & Walnut Bread.

  • 500g of grated courgette (zucchini)
  • 1 lb of plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 350g of caster sugar
  • 2/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 130g chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 4 eggs

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line 2 1lb loaf tins
  2. Get 2 mixing bowls. In the first bowl add the grated courgette, eggs and oil.
  3. Add all the remaining dry ingredients to the second bowl, and mix well.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Divide the bread mixture between the two loaf tins.
  6. Bake in the oven for 65 minutes. Turn out of a wire rack and cool.
  7. This bread taste even better the following day and keeps very well for up to 4 days as the grated courgette keeps the bread superbly moist.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Smoked Salmon Paté & Melba Toasts

I've been totally absent of late with the blog, for a number of reasons to be honest. For one, this is busy season and every year my posts dwindle from June to September; not intentionally, but with running the Bed and Breakfast  and looking after the cutest one year old ever :) , time runs away from me every day.

With my sister getting married also there was the bridesmaid diet to consider and my brief fling with the Paleo Diet. Hard core paleo is just not for me. I love my food way too much!!! I'm more reading from the paleo diet a la carte style. I  do try to follow it Monday to Friday, so dinners have been boring; hence the lack of imaginative dinners on the blog.

I did a dinner party for some French guest recently and as a starter I made this Smoked Salmon Pate. Its super simple and can be made in advance and lasts for a week or so in the fridge. I paired it with homemade melba toasts and a super quick cucumber pickle. I have to say this is one of the easiest starters I have ever made, yet also the tastiest. It's super humid at the moment and one of my guests commented that the starter was very refreshing after being stuck in a bus touring all day. I had some leftover so it served as lunch for us for a day or so after, which is a nice change from soup, salads, sandwiches.


Salmon Paté

  • 200g of smoked salmon (Organic Irish if possible)
  • 50g of full fat cream cheese
  • 50g of creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp of chopped dill
  • Pepper
  • Zest and juice of a lemon

Quick Cucumber Pickle

  • 1 cucumber, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 1 tbsp of caster sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar

Melba Toast

  • 2 slices of thick toast bread
  1. Pulse the smoked salmon in a food processor, add the creme fraiche and the cream cheese and pulse. Add the pepper, dill, zest and juice of a lemon and pulse again. It's done, its that simple. Store in a Kilner Jar, until ready to use. For a fancy finish for a starter, I served my paté in shot glasses, garnished with a little dill. 
  2. To make the pickle, simply mix all the ingredients together and allow to mingle for 30 minutes. Again this keeps really well in a clip top jar and goes well in sandwiches or an accompaniment to salmon darnes for dinner.
  3. Use thick sliced bread to make the melba toasts. Toast the bread in a toaster and then with a serrated bread knife cut off the crusts. Then carefully cut the bread through the middle to give you 2 slices. Now cut each slice in half diagonally to give you two triangles per half. Grill soft side up and the bread with toast on this side and curl up. The toasts can be stored in an airtight container for a few hours until required. These are great also for hummus and salsa.

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