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Monday, 27 June 2016


Colourpoint Books 2015

I love cooking. I'm not so hot at baking but I love the whole process and just being in the kitchen. I learned to love home cooked food by watching and assisting my mother. We didn't have a lot of money but there was always delicious food on the table, mostly cooked from scratch. Chicken and beef dinners, a brilliant stew that I have tried to replicate but can't, apple tarts, 'curn' squares and all sorts of other creations.

I have listened to Paula McIntyre's many appearances on BBC Radio Ulster's John Toal Show and over time we have exchanged the odd tweet. I got to meet Paula in BBC Belfast a few weeks ago when I was a guest on the show. She cooked up a fantastic chowder.

Meeting Paula reminded me that last year she launched her Down To Earth Cookbook and I acquired a copy. As a blogger of all sorts of things including book reviews, I thought there's not much point in having a cookbook if you're not going to use said book to cook something. So, I had a go at what is challenging to me and that is baking bread - soda bread, with onions, cheese and scallions.

Preparation is all, so off to the shop I toddled to get the ingredients. The puzzle was buttermilk. I assume that in Ireland, shop shelves are awash with buttermilk but could I find it in the English Midlands? I looked at the ever-widening display of milk options. Nope. I asked an assistant. She was as perplexed as me and said: "We probably don't stock it." And then by pure chance, I was passing the cream display and, bingo, there it was - buttermilk. It's a bit of a head scratcher but, hey ho.

I followed the very easy recipe, 7 ingredients:

Everything in and ready to shape.
Then shaped!

35 minutes later, a rather raggedy, er rustic, work of art.

And so to taste.

Absolutely wonderful, buttered and all the savoury flavours work beautifully. A great recipe, no major fuss involved and what an end product.

Over the next few weeks, I will be blogging some more of my efforts from this excellent, simple-to-follow book of good, wholesome, down-to-earth recipes by the brilliant Paula McIntyre.

The book's recipe categories are vegetables, fruit, meat and poultry, fish, bread, sweets and treats and preservation. Each recipe is introduced by Paula, with many deserved nods to local Northern Irish food suppliers and each list of ingredients and cooking methods are straightforward, easy to follow and unfussy.

I recommend it highly and I will return to the kitchen soon. Yum!

P.s. As recommended by Paula, the day after baking, we had toasted slices of the bread, complementing macaroni cheese.

And then I moved on to smoked salmon fishcakes with horseradish and smoked black pepper dressing. I couldn't find smoked black pepper, so a few wish of ordinary black pepper will have to do.

Here's the first picture after everything was mixed and the fishcakes formed using a pastry cutter.

Into the fridge to chill for an hour or so. Not me, the fishcakes.

Mayo, horseradish, lemon, pepper dressing - sensational.

Go on boys, you can do it.

Well, yum, yum. Brilliant recipe. Thanks Paula.

Then I moved on to My (Paula's) Aunt Doreen's Chinese chews, a fab blend of brown sugar, eggs, dates, nuts, ginger and cinnamon mixed together and baked for 30 minutes. Cooled and sliced into Mr Kipling size slices, quite sensational.

The fourth recipe I tried was also successful, simple to do and delicious. Chicken and broccoli bake and here it is:

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