Tag Archives: coffee

Tiramisu- My “secret” recipe

Who doesn’t love Tiramisu? Even people who don’t like coffee like tiramisu.  Regular readers will have seen my tiramisu cake, which is VERY popular and velvety smooth to have as a dessert at the end of a meal. And although it takes a little while to make, it’s very simple.


The essential ingredients- good coffee and cocoa powder

My Tiramisu Recipe 
For the sponge
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
30g cocoa powder
For the filling
1 tablespoon instant coffee (Fine granules)
150ml boiling water
50ml tia maria
3 x 250g mascarpone cheese
300ml cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
65g grated dark chocolate
For the decoration
100g finely chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Preheat the oven to 180oC. Grease a Swiss roll tin and line with baking paper, or line two round 7” tins.
For the sponge, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk together for about five minutes, or until the mixture is very pale and thick. Sift over the flour and cocoa and fold in gently using a metal spoon or spatula.


Mixing the flour and cocoa in….

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin (tins) and tilt the tin to level the surface.
Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked. Cool in the tin for five minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
For the filling, dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and add the tia maria. Set aside to cool. Brush the tops of each cake with the alcohol/ coffee mixture. Wrap sponges in clingfilm until ready to ice.
Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the cream and icing sugar. Decide on your serving dish, what you make the dessert in, is what you will put on the table so choose carefully.  Add broken bits of the cake to the dish, then spread 1/2 of the mascarpone icing over the soaked sponge.

Scatter over 1/2 of the grated chocolate.
Place the second sponge on top in pieces if you have to to make it fit (you won’t see this as it chills), spoon over the rest of the coffee mixture then spread more of the icing over the soaked sponge. Spread the rest of the icing in a thicker layer over the top layer. Chill for at least two hours in the fridge before final decoration- of- you guessed it- more grated chocolate! Divine!

Coffee & Raspberry Muffins- a teatime recipe

Muffins have got such bad press in recent years, and the lethargic excuses for muffins seem at all petrol stations these days have relegated theses sweet treats to little above a slice of badly produced white bread.

But it doesn’t have to be like this!  In general they are easier to produce than cupcakes as they normally come icing free, and often are not as sweet.  There is always a special ingredient that defines the muffin- in this case two special ingredients- the raspberries and the coffee.

Raspberry Coffee Muffins

Raspberries ready to go

Not to be confused with English muffins, (Think a cross between a scone and a pancake), I am fond of making them as an afternoon treat. In  America, three states have adopted a muffin as their “state” muffin!

Coffee & Raspberry Muffins

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee/ or 1 tablespoon of Irel. 100g butter 1 tablespoon milk 400g self raising flour 175g cater sugar 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 2 large eggs 1 carton of sour cream 225g raspberries Method: Stir 2 tablespoons of boiling water into the coffee (1 if using Irel).  Leave to cool for 5 minutes.  Preheat oven to 180oC.  Cut out 12 x 10cm squares of baking parchment.  Melt the butter, use a little to brush the insides of a deep 12-hole muffin tin, and leave the rest to cool slightly. Line the tin with the paper squares, so they stick up a bit. (Or use paper cases.)  Mix the coffee with the milk. Mix the flour, sugar and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl.  In another bowl, beat the eggs, then mix in the sourcream, cooled butter and coffee. Stir this into the flour mixture until almost combined – it will need only a few stirs and the mix will feel light and airy. Tip in the raspberries, give a few more stirs to finish the mixing, but don’t overbeat or the mix will toughen, and the raspberries will disintegrate.  Spoon the mix into the muffin tins – they will be very full.   Raspberry Coffee Muffins
Bake for about 25 mins until risen and golden. Let them cool in the tin a few minutes, then move to a cooling rack.  Excellent on the day they are made, but equally good the next day.  They are much lighter than the commercial type and are robust enough to survive a lunchbox or a picnic trip.


Raspberry Coffee Muffins

Waitressing- the whimsy of reflection

I “waitressed” myself through college.  It wasn’t an option.  I am old enough to have gone to college when fees meant fees.  Full bodied four figure sums handed over for an “education”.  Financially my parents weren’t in a position to pay fees for me, but helped out whenever they could with other expenses.  So through a fortuitous meeting with a friend while sweeping floors in Peter Marks for £30 a week, I landed myself an interview for a breakfast waitress in the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.

Waitressing is not glamorous, certainly not in this country.  My Dad, in his wisdom, bought me a pair of uber solid doc martin shoes to get me started.  It was a wise purchase.  You are on your feet from morning to evening.  I started on the breakfast shift, which will totally surprise anyone who knows me.  Mornings are not for me, ever.  Derry was the manager at the time, and showed me, and my other cohorts the ropes.  He came was an old school waiter, and showed us how to properly carry plates, clear tables, and keep the customers happy.  The menu wasn’t exactly complicated and I really enjoyed those first couple of months.

Friday 21 August 2015 025

Boiled Egg Anyone?

Then there was a shortage of staff for the “lunch”, and I was called up for a trial to the upstairs restaurant.  It was called Truffles at the time.  Noel Harmon was the manager, and Cathal the sommelier.  And there I stayed.  For years and years.  The odd time I was drafted to banqueting for service.  But Truffles was my home.

I learnt how to set a table, and more importantly clear a table. How to serve wine- how to taste wine!  My favourite skill to use was the table side cooking- we use to cook steak Diane, Crêpes suzette, Cherry Jubilee- and the big tip bringer- Flambéed Irish Coffee.  Our manager never refused a customer.  I think he probably gave me very good lessons in customer service.  So even if the kitchen was long closed, we’d still be able to serve food- garlic crab claws, steak and maybe the Irish Coffee for dessert.  We worked long hours, very long, and often I’d catch about 4 hours sleep before being up for the breakfast shift.  But that was what waitressing was all about.  Silver service is a skill that will stay with me forever.  

I cringe often when someone clears my table in a restaurant.  I am very close to getting up and showing them how- if only to make their life easier!!!

One of the funniest experiences I had was with one of the private functions I was in charge of.  The de Beers were having a private dinner.  The ladies all arrived DRIPPING in diamonds, and this small man shuffled in beside me in a cardigan and jeans, he offered to help me serve, and I chatted away to him for ages.  It was only at the end of the meal, when everyone got up to thank him, that I realised he WAS de Beer!  Didn’t tip me in diamonds unfortunately…

Things I learnt:

  • People have funny eating habits
  • Very few people put their knife and fork together
  • Someone will always complain after completely clearing their plate
  • Waitressing involves multi-tasking
  • Being a people person is a must
  • Being on your feet all day is VERY tiring
  • Meeting people in a restaurant social situation is very rewarding.

I very much value that time and education I got while receiving my “education”.  All those habits have stood to me, especially the customer service.  And I will always be grateful.



11 Essential elements …

On our farm tour the first day, Darina spoke at length about how good soil contained 11 essential elements and minerals.

Below are the 11 “essential” things I’ve learned in my first six weeks.

1.  I am not getting enough coffee.  Or tea for that matter, and front loading at the weekend doesn’t really help.

Breakfast coffee

Breakfast coffee

2. The early bird gets organised.  The sooner you get into the kitchen and get started, the easier your morning will be.  Generally. But there have been exceptions.  This morning I went in early and made some really delicious spotted dog.

Spotted Dog

Spotted Dog

3. Lunch is always good, even when you think it might not be your favourite.  Try everything.  I guarantee you’ll be surprised.

My Bantry Irish Stew from today

My Bantry Irish Stew from today

4.  Everyone is there to help you.  Every teacher I’ve had, every person I’ve stopped to speak to, is there to help you.  And get to know them, their names, who they are.  Your life will be better for it.

5. Some days cooking are easier than others.  Sometimes I wonder how I manage to cater on an often large scale at home, when I can sometimes struggle to get two dishes out in 3 hours!

My Lough Ness Monster Choux pastries took all morning!

My Lough Ness Monster Choux pastries took all morning!

6.  The surroundings of the cookery school really are amazing.  The flowers that are just starting to appear, the piglets born last week.  It really is a cocoon of nature.

Snowdrops in the dining room

Snowdrops in the dining room

7.  I really appreciate the family back home, and all the sacrifices they are making so I can fulfill my dream.

Nigel feeding the "babies"

Nigel feeding the “babies”

8. I am more in love with cooking than ever, each weekend I go home and can’t wait to cook recipes we’ve made the previous week.

Chilli's being prep#d for the colorado sauce for the chilli con carne

Chilli’s being prep#d for the colorado sauce for the chilli con carne

9. I REALLY want to write more about food, every day I find a new ingredient, or snippet of information and want to explore it more.

10. I can’t wait to go in each day to talk to my fellow students about food.  Being with so many food loving people is fantastic, nobody even looks twice when you try every dessert on offer.  There are so many nationalities, backgrounds and skill levels it is such an opportunity to learn from each other aswell.

11. Did I mention I’m not getting enough caffeine??  Seriously, my number 11 is just to do it.  Follow your dreams.  And dream big, make them count. Life’s too short not to.

Spring flowers on the farm.

Spring flowers on the farm.