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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

J'ai return and an old favorite, orange and almond cake

Well hello the readers of my blog and I mean all six of you . It has been a while since the kooky cook has cooked and graced the hallowed pages of the blog with the results .

Miss Kooky Cook has returned to University Life ( University of Nottingham ) and is training to be a  secondary level science teacher and as a result she has not had time to bless her self .
 I have never knew I could work this hard in my life , I should rename the blog the sad desk as it is where I spend about a  two thirds of time with the other third being spent in school .

I am home for the Easter holidays ad have a little more time on my hands so I thought I would return to cooking with my absolute favorite cake Flour-less orange cake 
This a cake kicks all the boxes , it is delicious , very easy to make , it keeps for ages , it is gluten and dairy free, it has cross over between tea time treat and diner party dessert . It also fills a very trendy foodie niche  is inspired by middle eastern cooking ,in short it is  a hard working , adaptable ,simply marvelous cake

Orange and almond cake 

Inspired by  Claudia Roden's  Middle astern cooking 



1 Orange 
1 Lemon 
2 green cardamon pods (optional ) 
6 medium eggs 
150 g of caster sugar 
200 g of ground almond 
splash or orange blossom water ( optional) 

citrus glaze 

juice and zest of an orange 
juice of a lemon
three tablespoons of caster sugar 

Place your citrus fruit in a sauce pa of cold water along with a couple of bashed cardamom ( if using ) bring  to a simmer and cook for about an hour until fruit can be pierced easily with the edge of a spoon  
Chop fruit roughly removing pips and pulse i a food processor to a rough  puree . You ca see from the picture above that we used the small chopper , as the fruit is so soft after cooking 

Give your eggs a quick whisk 

Using electric beater to combine ground almond , fruit pulp , sugar , orange flower water 

Pour in to a oiled cake tin 
bake in a preheated  at 170 fan for about 45 minutes and go and have a picnic in the garden 

after 45 minutes cake is done when slightly domed , this cake will not rise as much as a flour based cake 
You can see from the pictures that my garden picnic distracted me and I left the cake in  a little too log as it browned around the edges , but this cake is forgiving as we shall glaze him and he will be beautiful 

Citrus glaze 

place all the ingredients in a sauce pan and cook until it is syrupy, you know your on the right track when it's start to smell a little like marmalade

pour over the inverted cake ad leave to cool 

this cake will keep for about a week  once it is covered , serve with creme fresh , cream or as seen in picture above with thick set Greek yogurt 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hibernia -German Realations , Rabbit stew to the rescue

its official the kooky cook has moved home to the big smoke ( well the suburbs  living in her family home with her parents ) But now that I am back home , I am readjusting to Dublin life there are pros and cons to being back  ,
 pros public transport on your doorstep , the local shop stocks  "exotic" things like coconut milk and limoncello , there is no smell of slurry or slatted sheds wafting around .
 Cons there is not the supply of wild rabbit that there is in Wexford . 
One of the last meals I cooked in Wexford was rabbit stew
 , in this instance it was two rabbits , which have been languishing in my freezer for the last couple of months .
 So thus inspired I invited our local friendly German over for a rabbit cook off .

Since the German was around we got a bit distracted discussing important fiscal matters and drinking  wine and and forgot to take photos.

The stew given here can be seen in the back round of the photo

But the recipe is clear in my  head , so here it goes

Rabbit is the poor mans chicken , it was very common meat to be eaten up until the last century , when chicken took over . Many people are scared of the the little bones in rabbit , but in my opinion they are no worse then chicken . It is a slightly bland , gamey meat and need to be cooked either super hot on the BBQ , or low and slow in the oven . It also does very well with a marinade .

Angela Merkel Rabbit  Stew

One jointed rabbit
500ml of butter milk
bay leaf
mustard seeds
black peppercorns

two onions sliced into half moons
three carrots sliced in batons
2 tablespoons of flour
white pepper
garlic salt
glass of white /or beer
800 ml chicken stock
handful of frozen peas
three tablespoons of cream

  • This is the first rabbit I have received in one piece , so I had to joint him . I used this Jamie Oliver video as a guide .
  • place jointed rabbit into a bowl pour over butter milk . The butter milk is inspired by the Germans grandmother who by all account is a dab hand at cooking rabbit Add , bay leaves , mustard seeds , pepper ( no salt) . leave to marinated in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

  • wipe marinade from rabbit piece and set aside .

  • Place 4-5 tablespoons of flour into a large zip lock bag and add seasoning

  • Shake the bunny around in the bag to get a good coating of flour and seasoning

  • Place a thick bottom pan over a medium heat and add a good slosh of olive oil and a equal quantities  of butter .Fry off the rabbit pieces until they are golden and have a slight crust on them . This  took me about ten minutes or so .

  • Remove the meat to a plate and allow to rest

  • add your sliced onions , carrot batons and Bacon lardons , and cook until the onions have become translucent and the bacon fat has rendered

  • throw in a big squeeze of tomato puree and stir around to coat the veg

  • add a slosh of white or beer ( in this instance  some wine ) to make a paste , then add in your chicken stock

  • return the rabbit pieces to the stew pot and let it blip away over a low heat for about an hour

  • about ten minute before you serve throw in a handful of frozen peas , this adds sweetness and colour

  • stir in cream just before you serve  up to give a finish to the sauce

  • Serve with mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage .

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Lady Scientists who lunch on profiteroles - Choux pastry

I have  job as a struggling research student . I work in agricultural research and you would think  that this would be a male dominated environment  , full of burly farmer and Ag researchers , but not so . The proportion to female to male student is about 4 to 1 .
As  a result the social activities  can veer off to those more traditionally associated with women.
One of these is the Wentworth Miller Baking Society( WMB soc)  , as a founding member we like to think of ourselves  as a guerrilla like splinter group modeled on the Irish country Woman Association , or the Woman's Institute. We are   an umbrella society with remits that cover  , baking , gossiping , wine drinking , politics , metaphysics , world economic reform  etc etc etc . 
When the WMB Soc meet they require sustenance for all this discussion , scheming and gossiping therefore it was decided by committee that choux pastry in the form of profiteroles would be the order of day .

Choux pastry is a bit of a marvel , it only requires four  ingredients flour , eggs, butter and water  and a lot of muscle to beat it into submission . Fortunately one of the member of the WMB soc is a weight lifter , so she has adequate strength  for this job . You can spoon the mixture out or if a more elegant bun is required  pipe them . The recipe used here was based on Mary Berry's from Her Baking Bible

Choux pastry


  • 100g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75g stork margarine
  • 3 eggs at room temperature, beaten

  • Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius and grease and line to baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  • Weight out the flour on to a sheet of grease proof paper
  • Melt the butter , pinch of salt and a tablespoon of water (15 ml )in  a saucepan over a medium heat until the butter is melted
  • Immediately tip in flour and stir like crazy to incorporated the flour  . It should be a smooth and  heavy dough , this can take about five minutes.
  • Leave the flour , water  and butter paste to cool slightly and then add a tablespoon of beaten egg at a time  . This is where the tough love come in you must beat like a maniac in order to mix the egg into the mixture , hence the weight lifter  , if you do not have one handy , use the electric  hand mixer . keep beating until the mixture become shiny and start to leave the sides of the sauce pan .

  •  Spoon your mixture onto the trays , I used a teaspoon and dolloped them on , or pipe them for a neater finish

  • Bake in the oven  for 15 minutes at 200 c and then open the oven door for 5 seconds and reduce the temperature to 180 for a further 10-15 . I have a  hot spot in my oven so I turned the trays at the ten minute point.
  • Take the buns out of the oven and pierce them with a skewer or a knife to leave the steam out , let them cool compete on  on wire rack before filling.

on the left are the spooned buns and the right are the piped buns . it all depends on how dainty are your guests . I am of the attitude the bigger the bun the better!


punnet of raspberries 
300 ml of cream 
icing sugar to taste  

  • Whip the cream to form soft peaks , I had a bottle of rose open so I added a drop to give the cream a little lift .
  • Whizz your punnet of raspberries to a puree  with the stick blender ( if you do not have stick blender you can push the soft fruit through a sieve ) . 
  • If you are fussy you can eliminated the seeds by passing this  through a sieve , in this instance I didn't bother
  • Add the icing sugar to the puree to your taste , I threw in roughly four tablespoon of sugar.
  • Fold your fruit puree into the cream and bobs your uncle  you have just made raspberry Chantilly cream .

  • Spoon the cream into a piping bag and pipe the cream inside the buns , be careful not over fill the buns , you want to leave something to the imagination , so cream bursting out the seams is not the look your looking for . ( if you do not have a piping bag you can open the buns out like a pitta and spoon the cream in )

  • Pile your filled buns up on a plate or cake stand ,alternating with some raspberries .

  • A bit of a  show off drizzle of melted chocolate and icing sugar

  • And serve , feeds six hungry lady scientists

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review - Bear - South William street , Dublin 2

 So a very quick post to give you my thoughts on Bear , the new Joe Macken venture . It is very simple concept , steak , sides sauce  and booze . 

So a simple  food review to match

Once upon a time there was a sharing  steak called bavette

she was joined by some of veggie friends, Mr. Million dollar chips, Mr. Horseradish slaw and Mr. fried kale and garlic

And then the wicked kooky cook ate them all up and she declared them delicious
She washed it down with a couple of glasses  of the Bulgarian cab sav

Her dinning companions Hansel and Gretel agreed with the kooky cook  , that the food was delicious , however Hansel pointed out that the cactus on the table was very " pointy and sharp " and he kept pricking his hand on it when reaching for cutlery
So take note Joe Macken .

The Kooky Cook , Hansel and Gretel lived happily every after and went round the corner for a post dinner pint .

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Everybody loves a sausage – the evolution of the spaghetti bolognese

This is not my first foray into “food writing”, I once was the food columnist for the University College Dublin Tribune for all of a week
During my tenure at the Tribune , I wrote two articles one a review of the eateries available on campus , the highlight of that article being the neon pink chicken tikka sandwiches available in the student shop  and the other a  “how to guide” for the  student kitchen . In this, my advice to male students that when cooking a romantic meal for  a girlfriend, spaghetti Bolognese would  not cut it ,   as it was boring and girls do not  feel romantic trying to slurp up tomatoey pasta . What a snob I was. Thankfully my attitude to spag bol has changed.

Spaghetti bolognese is a classic to Irish cuisine, a bastardised version of the rich ragu bolonges. Its shady heritage withstanding, it is comfort food to the Nth degree, meat in a rich tomatoes sauce with silky pasta and Parmesan (or cheddar if you’re a student) seasoning the top. But this is no a post on spag bol. This is post on the dish which has replaced spag bog in my household; it still is mince meat in a rich sauce with pasta. It is Jamie Oliver’s Jools Pregnant Pasta dish.

Sausages , carrot , clearly ,spring onion blitzed up in the food process , seasoned with fennel seeds , chili and oregano., fried off  , add a tin of tomatoes  simmer for ten minutes and Jamie’s your uncle , a delicious , filling , comforting cheap meal in fifteen minutes . It is the  aniseed from the fennel and heat from the chili which really lift this dish and make it addictive .

sausage pasta

500 g of penne pasta
2 sticks of celery
1 carrot peeled and chopped into three
4 spring onions
I red chili with out the seeds
400 grams of sausages
Teaspoon of fennel seeds
Teaspoon of dried oregano
4 cloves of garlic crushed
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 can of chopped tomatoes
Fresh basil
Grated Parmesan 
Extra virgin olive oil
  • Put your pasta on to cook . I am on diet at the moment so I use wholewheat penne . but it's up to you what shape you like .

  • Add the carrot , celery , chili and spring onion to the food processor , pulse until finally chopped . Next add the sausages , fennel seeds , and oregano , pulse in short burst until the sausage is chopped . What you want here is a rough sausage paste . not sausage slurry 

  • warm a glug  of oil  in pan big enough  to toss the pasta in later over a medium heat . Plonk your sauges meat mixture in the pan . at this stage it looks kinda of disgusting like a big pink pork blacmange like mass  , but don't panic it will be all right on the night .

  • fry the meat  over a medium heat , breaking it up with a wooden spoon , as you  would  beef mince until it is golden brown and crumbly . 

  • next add your cloves of crushed garlic , tablespoon of balsamic . this will hiss  a bit . stir it around to scrap up all the crsuty bits  from the pan and then add your toms , season with salt and perper , stir and leave it blip away on low heat for about ten minutes 

  • When your pasta is cooked , reserve a mugful of the cooking water . This water is to losen up your meat saunce with in case the sauce is too thick . Some time I need some time I don't . Don't worry if you find you have dumped the water down the sink , you can allway use a splash of water from the kettle .

  • Losen out the sauce if it needed  and then tip the warm pasta into the sauce . Again we are diviating from the Irish custom of putting the meat sauce atop the pasta . It all ways taste better if you mix the pasta into the pan with the sauce as it means an even coating of sauce to pasta.

  • Garnish with fresh basil  , parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin oil  .

  • Bring to the table and serve , yummy . 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

marmalade factory

Cooking like fashion , acting and sports is about showing off . Why else would there be six different ways to make meringue when one would suffice , or why would there be meringue at all when egg white and sugar are perfectly formed in their own right .

I readily admit that I get a kick out of putting  a steaming  pot of stew or chili  down on the table  in front of my guests and all the ooh and ahhing ensues , I get to feel very smug and satisfied with myself . and believe me when I say that nothing give you the that smug cooking pay off like  gifting  pots of home made marmalade.

Marmalade like meringue is more than the sum  of its parts bitter orange , water and sugar combine  in an alchemical process to form a wondrous amber jam . It is delicious  and homemade marmalade is much better than shop bought as it has a depth of flavour that is achieved by slow cooking in small batches . No wonder it was Paddington Bear favourite food .

Making marmalade is an easy but laborious task , it took my father and I  about four and half hours to prepare and cook  3.6 kilos of fruit and the result is thirty pots of jam.

It is essentially a  three step process ,

  1.  preparing  the fruit  and separating it into the juice, the the pulp and the rind 
  2. cooking the juice and rind in order to soften the rind
  3. adding the sugar and setting the jam


This recipe will make about 6 pots of jam ( as not every body is a marmalade maniac like me )

900 grams of Seville orange
2 lemons
2.25 litres of water
1.8 kg of sugar
pop sock ( clean of course )

  •  Wash the oranges  and cut them in half . Get a wide  set bowl  , squeeze the juice of the orange in to the  bowl . Scoop the pulpand the pips out the orange into the same bowl that contains the juice .  You want to remove all the pulp to leave a clean rind behind . To do this I use a soup spoon .

  • The next part is the most laborious part of the marmalade , shredding the peel . It is up to you  how thick or thin you want your peel . I normally roll half an orange peel up and slice it by hand with a knife.
  • Put the shredded peel into a sauce pan big enough to cook the jam in . I find that a five litre saucepan is sufficient. 
  • Place a sieve over the sauce pan and tip the bowl containing the pulp and juice in to it.  Add the water to the pan by washing the pulp and any remaining juice through the sieve.
  •  Next add the lemon juice to the sauce pan and scoop put out the lemon pulp adding it to the orange pulp in the sieve.
  • The pulp and pips contain the pectin which is needed  to set the jam  Place all the fruit pulp and pips into a clean pop sock and tie in a knot at the top to secure . You might think the use of a pop sock is tad unusual for jam making  but I never really have  clean piece of muslin or cheese cloth lying around the house , so I improvised . In case you are not the type of person who has either , a pop sock or muslin cloth , you can use a clean j cloth instead  . Add the pulp to the water and peel , securing it by tying  to the sauce pan handle .

  • Simmer the mixture on a medium heat until the peel is soft  enough to be squished between your fingers .  roughly about two hours 

  •  Once the peel is soft enough , remove the pop sock and squeeze it to remove any of the pection . It is a cloudy viscous liquid .  The best way to do this is to place the sock in a jug and bowl and use a wooden spoon .  Then pour the squeezed pectin back into the pot .
  •   Add the sugar and bring the jam to the boil . It will expand and change from opaque to a clear orange colour .

  • Boil the jam for about ten minutes to achieve setting point. You can test this by placing a small drop of jam on a cold saucer ,  wait for two minutes and push the jam with you finger . If there are wrinkles the jam is set , if not it needs another two minutes of cooking .
  • When you have reached setting point , bottle the jam . I use a jug to do this .

  • eh voila , your own homemade Seville marmalade 

Monday, November 28, 2011

culinary ear worm

It is amazing how any idea can take hold and fester away in your brain forcing you to either put up or shut up . In this case I am speaking of a culinary ear worm , that little foodie daydream or idea that can be sparked by a smell , or an reminiscence, hangover or TV show . I can not  hear the theme music to Home and Away with out getting pangs for student noodle soup ,that bowl of carbs and chilli  eaten from my knees in front of the TV which marked a study break from my undergraduate days .

During the flurry of e-mails and text sent backwards and forwards by my friends and I on a Friday afternoon  " with plans for the weekend " questions   one mentioned she was cooking beef bourguignun that Friday for her bloke  . From that moment onwards my weekend was dominated by  beef stew ear worm . He was brought to fruition on Sunday night as I prepared this stew for my parents and I . The  recipe I used is based on Delia Smiths one from Delia online .
2 tablespoons of oil
650 grams of stewing steak
2 white onions peeled and thinly sliced into half moon shapes
3 carrots sliced into batons
1 tablespoon of plain flour
600ml of red wine
bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic crushed
 a squeeze of a tomato puree
salt and pepper
  • Heat the oil in a heavy based  oven proof casserole or saucepan .

  • Season the beef with a good twist of salt and pepper and fry in batches in order to ensure the meat is sealed and has nice brown crispy bits , as seen in  the picture below
  • scoop the beef out and leave to rest  on a  plate

  • add your onions and carrots to the same pan , Cook until they have soften and have some colour

  •  add the beef back into the pan with the carrots  and onions . Sprinkle in a tablespoon of plain flour .

  • It is now time to add the red wine . I normally add the wine in three batches  as you want to have a fairly even spread of the flour in the liquid .add  more seasoning   a crushed clove of garlic , a squeeze of tomato puree as well . pop the lid on and place in low oven at 150 degree for about an hour

  • after about an hour in the oven , you need to add the mushrooms and bacon . I use the  pre chopped lardons form Aldi . Fry of the bacon and mushrooms until the fat has run from the bacon and the mushrooms have a bit of colour , then pop them into the stew pot . Put the stew back in oven for another 45 minutes  to an hour

  •  Take stew out , sprinkle with some fresh parsley and enjoy