Waking up to November snow.
It is so beautiful outside today. The sky is crystal clear and the walkers have the roads to themselves. The gentle wind is blowing the branches of the trees and sending a light sprinkling of crisp white snow to the ground.
It is a day for a roaring fire and a big bowl of hearty, warming soup. I do not plan to leave the fireside all afternoon.
HONEY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
You can add a little more stock if you like a smooth runny soup or remove some from the recipe if you like it thick and gloopy.
1 large onion, roughly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
2 tbs of honey
a generous splash of olive oil
400mls of stock
cracked black pepper
a handful of sage roughly chopped
150ml cream or crème fraiche
Toss your onion, garlic and squash in the olive oil and honey and place it on a roasting tin. Roast in the oven at 180 until the squash has softened and is golden and sticky, it should take about 30 minutes.
Pour the contents of the roasting tray into a sauce pan. Pour your stock into the roasting tray and slosh it about to get all the tasty juice from the tray. Pour this into the saucepan. Add your sage, black pepper and let it come to a simmer for about five minutes. Turn it down and add your cream. Blitz with a soup gun and season to taste.
We had decided to create our very own Dublin version of the Willow Pattern plate and story, using The Cake Cafe symbols designed by Niall and Nigel from PONY and based on a story by Mark O'Halloran (of Adam and Paul, fame). Like the original it is about two star crossed lovers trying to battle their way in modern day Dublin.
They will retail at 18.50 (with a clip for hanging) or 16.00 without.
Here is how the story goes.........
Bin-Bin and Yo-Yo
Leanne Grimes was a wooden dog. According to her Chinese horoscope that is. Or at least that’s what Bin-Bin told her and he should know, being Chinese and all. Only he wasn’t Chinese, he was Korean. Not that anyone in Rialto knew that or could have cared less. Except for Leanne that is. Leanne was 16 and she loved Bin-Bin.
They were unlikely lovers it had to be admitted but there were things about him that she found irresistible. His skin for instance, so hairless smooth, felt like silk to her and his eyes held a sadness like he was thinking of the sea and he smelt like no other fella she’d ever gone with before and she wanted to hold on to him forever. And around his neck he had a gold pendent of a seahorse. ‘It brings me luck’, he said. It had brought him to Leanne.
He had come here to study but he never got the chance what with working in his uncle’s restaurant, The Willow Tree, night and day, selling chow mien and chicken balls to the drunken patrons from the flats and it was here that he met Leanne. She was a waitress part-time and he’d made her laugh because he couldn’t pronounce her name properly and had taken to calling her Yo-Yo instead on account of her bouncing up and down so much and in secret they fell in love.
And there was good reason for their secrecy. Everyone in Rialto knew Leanne’s Dad was a bastard and when he found out about their affair he did a job on Bin-Bin. ‘I don’t want no chinky chops near my daughter’ he said. ‘You touch her again I’ll fucking kill you’ and he left Bin-Bin lying there battered. Leanne wept when she saw Bin-Bin’s face all fucked and his beautiful mouth torn and he wept too to see her so upset and they knew then and there that they needed escape. So they ran.
But the streets of the city can be an unforgiving place and they knew they could not remain undetected forever. Leanne shook
with fear at every shadow and Bin-Bin held her close. ‘We can be anything you and me’ he said. ‘Together. We can be like seahorses and leaves this city’. And that’s what they did. They stood by the shore under the winking towers of the power station and walked, waded, swam. Happy to be themselves, different and together. Beautiful seahorses for eternity. Bin-Bin & Yo-Yo.
THE CAKE CAFÉ
Oh the pies, the pies. Our pumpkin pies worked a treat and there were many happy Thanks givers.
450g of pumpkin that has been peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
275 ml of cream
80g of brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp of cake spice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs and 1 extra yolk
1 blind baked pastry case - we use 11 inch
pre heat your oven to 180
Put the pumpkin pieces into a colander and place over a pot of boling water to leave them steam.
Once steamed until they are soft push them through the colander to make a puree.
Mix your cream, sugar and all the spices in a saucepan, place it on a medium heat until it simmers - do not boil it. Stir to make sure the sugar is dissolved.
Lightly beat your eggs and yolk in a bowl.
Pour the cream mixture into the eggs and whisk continuously.
Add your pumpkin puree and whisk it all together.
Pour the mixture into your pre baked case and pop it in the oven for about 30 minutes. It should be firm but not completely set.
This wonderful recipe was sent to me by a generous reader of The Weekend Magazine which comes with The Irish Examiner every Saturday. It is so good I though it worth sharing and I want to extend my thanks to Gemma for sending it to me. Not only does it make a delicious bread but it is full of healthy ingredients. I make two loaves like Gemma advised, one for now and an extra one for the freezer.
If only I had made it for the brown bread making compition at our Street Party I might have won!
Gemma's Brown Bread
you will need: a 2lb loaf tin lightly oiled, a measuring cup, a tea spoon, a mixing bowl and an oven
2 cups of porridge oats
2 cups of plain flour
2 cups of wholemeal flour
½ a cup of bran
½ a cup of wheatgerm
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of bread soda
570mls or 1 pint of buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.
Put all your dry ingredient into a bowl and mix them thoroughly. Add most of your butter milk until you have a soft consistency. You may need a little more or less, experiment with it until you get a soft dough that can be easily poured into the tin but not too sticky.
Bake your loaf for about 50 minutes at 200 degrees. After 50 minutes I usually take it out turn it upside down and tap the bottom to hear the hollow sound. If it needs a bit more time you can put it back in for about another 5 minutes.
It was our good friend Miss Panti Bliss's birthday and we baked her up a cake.
THE CAKE CAFÉ