Spotted Dog

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Spotted dog is a cross between a bread and a cake. It isn't too sweet and can be sliced and spread with butter or eaten plain. I believe it is a traditional Irish fruit bread which goes by many other names including curnie cake and railway cake depending on the area.

I made this recipe as something that isn't too high in fat and sugar. The 2lb loaf (I made two 1lb loaves) contains no butter and only 3tbsp of sugar. The recipe was very easy to follow and didn't really take much time at all. I used whatever dried fruit I had lying around (a berry mix and some sultanas to bring it up to the required weight) and the verdict was pretty good.

I must say I didn't taste this myself (I posted a loaf each to my dad and a friend of mine) my dad said he really liked it and was saving the last piece to have before he went to bed. I'm very tempted to make this again and think it would be delicious with a cup of tea and a chat with friends.

300g/10oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
3tbsp caster sugar
100g/4oz mixed dried fruit
1 egg, beaten
200ml/7fl oz buttermilk*

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Butter a 2lb loaf tin (or two 1lb tins.
Sift the flour, salt and bicarb together into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre and add the fruit, egg and buttermilk. Mix lightly and quickly into a soft dough.
With floured hands, remove the dough from the bowl and knead very briefly. Press into the prepared tin.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden and the loaf feels firm to the touch.
Turn out and leave to cool.

*A note about buttermilk -
I didn't and don't have buttermilk in my kitchen. I used a simple recipe of 1tbsp lemon juice (or white vinegar) to 200ml of milk. Mix together and leave to stand for 5 minutes and use as called for in the recipe.

This recipe is from the BBC Good Food magazine book 101 Cakes and Bakes.


Pork Burgers

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

They're a little anaemic looking but they tasted amazing. I also made the chips (cut up potatoes, spray with cooking spray and season with herbs, black pepper and worcester sauce and chuck in a hot oven until cooked). This was actually a very substantial dinner and quite healthy. Extra lean pork mince was used and a nice fresh salad to accompany. Yummy.

The pork burgers were seasoned with mustard powder, actual mustard, jalapeno sauce, dried mixed herbs, German curry ketchup (this stuff is ace!) and worcester sauce. They're so anaemic looking because we cooked them in the oven along with the chips. If you grill them or fry them they'll get some more colour on them. We're not that fussy though! The texture was very substantial and firm which went well with the fresh salad. These would also go well in a bun with some cheese and ketchup if that's your style. You can also play around with the flavourings and seasoning and use whatever you like. As the pork mince is very mild tasting it's a good canvas for a range of delicious additions.


Irish Cream Bars - St. Patrick's Day

I've never really celebrated St. Patrick's Day. I'm not Irish and it was never something that was celebrated by my friends either. A lot of people seem to just spend the day in the pub (stereotypical much?) but I've never really done that either.

As a reader of many, many food blogs I've seen Irish themed recipes popping up left, right and centre. I felt that I should probably do something to commemorate the day and make me feel like a good blogger. Just because I don't celebrate, doesn't mean you lovely readers don't!

So I made Irish Cream Bars which I found on the Betty Crocker website. The only ingredient I didn't have in and had to go out and buy was the sour cream. I have Baileys left over from Christmas and this was a perfect opportunity to use some up.

I followed the recipe exactly but my tin was a little smaller than called for and I lined it with foil so it was easy to remove the bars when cooled. The reviews of the recipe on the site mostly say that the topping wasn't thick enough. I didn't have this problem. In fact, the topping is very rich and has a strong Baileys flavour. It's yummy but it's decadent. You wont be eating more than one of these at a time (unless you're a hardcore sugar fan). The slightly bitter chocolate base is light a shortbread type but is quite soft. It too is delicious and complements the sweetness of the topping.

I left out the whipped cream and sprinkles as I didn't think they really needed it. They're simple to make and easy to eat. These would make an excellent, naughty dessert but can also be eaten as a snack. They're really good. I dread to think how many calories they have though!


Roasted tomato and pepper soup

Friday, 13 March 2009

It's soup again. I know, I'm getting slightly boring but I needed to try something new with soup. I usually stick to root veg and decided that as the weather is marginally warmer (I went out with no coat on today) a nice red soup with a bit of cayenne heat would cheer me up. It did. I put the bowl down moments ago and felt I had to tell you about it.

This soup is so simple and basically I made it up as I went along. I'm quite good at doing that!

12 tomatoes
2 bell peppers (I used one orange and one red as that's what I had in the house)
3-5 cloves of garlic (depends how big they are)
Dried mixed herbs
Cayenne pepper
1tsp sweetner
1 pint vegetable stock
Worcester Sauce

Deseed and quarter the peppers and halve the tomatoes, and place in a baking dish with the garlic cloves (leave the skin on). Sprinkle the herbs, cayenne and sweetner over the top and pray with Frylite or pour a little olive oil over. Roast the veg in the oven at about 170C for around 45 minutes or until you think they're done.
Place the roasted veg into a saucepan and squeeze the soft roasted garlic out of its skin and into the pan. Pour over the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
Using a stick blender, blend the soup (off the heat) and season to taste adding some worcester sauce to taste.
This soup is absolutely delicious. Serve with crusty bread or wholemeal krisprolls.


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