Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Brown Hounds

Of the garbillion things that fly around my brain all the time, there were 2 prominent thoughts this morning. 1) Nick and his partner had a baby. I should bake him some cookies and 2) My trip to Brown Hound Bakery sure was beautiful and delicious. I should write about it. (Right now the loudest thought in my brain is: These BBQ Casava Chips are savage but I think the crunching might be annoying my co-workers)

Brown Hound Bakery. What a delight. If ever there was a bakery to show up all the other Irish bakeries, this is it. Brown Hound knows how to treat a lady.

It's a perfect mingling of gorgeous design and gastronomic art. The effect is something to behold. The chilled displays present precious treasures, both of the vintage and edible persuasion. They have beautiful fresh cakes finished with luscious icing, delicate toasted coconut or a fun stripey string bow. They have melt-in-your mouth cookies displayed under glass bells.

How do I know the goods are delicious? Because I tasted them. Because I was gifted a box filled with a perfect selection of yummy-happy dance inducing treats. Because when I ate that hunk of banana bread I was taken right back to my home kitchen in Montreal - it tasted like mommy used to make.

Looking at this pictures takes me right back to the time when I ate  all of these in one sitting myself. Good times.

Back to Nick and his new baby, Louis. Nick is the very Nick that owns and operates Nick's Coffee Company in Ranelagh and on Tara Street. We have come to know each other over the years through a mutual love of cake and coffee (come to think of it, that's how I make most of my friends). And so to celebrate baby Louis, I made these American-style chocolate cookies hugged by flaked almonds and tickled by dark Belgian chocolate. I am calling them Brown Hounds, dedicated to Jeni and Reuven's Drogheda bakery. These cookies are a love-fest. Some went on sale at Nick's in Ranelagh and they sold out faster than New Kids on the Block tickets in 1988

Brown Hounds

Brown Hounds Recipe (makes 16 cookies)


Bowl 1
125g butter at room temperature
125g granulated sugar
90g demerera sugar

Bowl 2
1 free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
45g whole milk

Bowl 3
200g cream flour
70g good quality cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Bowl 4
50g chocolate chips

Bowl 5
100g flaked almonds

Bowl 6
50g chocolate chips (I used 70% Callebault)

1. Preheat oven to 180
2. Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
3. Stream in the egg, milk and vanilla
4. Sieve the flour, soda and salt together. Mix in to your batter until just combined
5. Mix in chocolate chips
6. Using an ice cream scoop (I used size 18) make a ball of dough and roll it gently in the flaked almonds. Place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
7. Cool the Brown Hounds. Melt you final bit of chocolate and drizzle over your cookies.
8. Enjoy

You can read more about Brown Hound Bakery at these fine blogs:

An American in Ireland
Gracie's Bakes
The Katz Miaow

and you can read more about delicious food at these fine blogs:

The Daily Spud
I Can Has Cook

Happy Baking,


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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spiced Pumkin Apricot Cake

Co-operation makes it happen. I borrowed that line from Sesame Street. In my case this week, co-operation makes a spiced pumpkin apricot cake.

At the Honest 2 Goodness Market in Glasnevin co-operation is the general sentiment. It's a lovely spot to spend a Saturday because it is frequented by people (customers and fellow stall holders) that are great fun to shoot the breeze with. And the food.... nom nom nom... the food. I am typing one handed right now because the other hand is occupied by a slice of Anaconda bread from the H2G stall, smothered in Sicilian pesto from the Real Olive Co. stall.

My neighbour here is a wonderful organic grower, Rosie. Last week Rosie gifted me a gigantor green pumpkin. "See if you can do something with it," she said. Rosie grew the pumpkin, I cooked it down to a puree and baked it with some apricot, butter, sugar, eggs, flour and spices...we made a collaborative cake.

Did you know that pumpkins have 33% more potassium than bananas? Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. I borrowed that line from G.I. Joe.

Other interesting pumpkin facts:
  • eating pumpkins helps reduce your risk of stroke
  • eating pumpkins help maintain bone density
  • pumpkins are chock full of beta carotene and Vitamin A
  • Pumpkin Chucking is a sport where teams build various mechanical devices (i.e. catapults and cannons) designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. If you can get yourself to Delaware for the American Thanksgiving World Pumpkin Chucking Championship, I would guess you would be in for the best night of your life.
I started with this pumpkin
It was pretty pulpy, but I saved the seeds for drying out and snacking on later
I peeled and chunked up the pupmkin, layed the pieces on a single layer on a baking tray, drizzled some honey on top and baked them at 180 for an hour

Rosie tasting the fruit of our combined labour

Recipe for Spiced Pumpkin and Apricot Cake
  • 360g cream flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 100g apricots
  • 50g cooked pumpkin
  • 70g buttermilk
  • 180g butter
  • 300g granulated sugar sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the cooked pumpkin, apricots and buttermilk in the food processor and blend until the mixture is a smooth puree. 

Sieve the flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.

Beat the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and mix.

Fold in the flour mixture alternating with the pumpkin mixture.

Pour the batter into a lined 10" tin and bake at 180 for 1 hour.

Recipe for Cream Cheese frosting

100g butter
600g icing sugar, sieved
250g cream cheese


Beat the butter and icing sugar at low speed until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Add in the cream cheese. Beat at low speed until combined, then bring up the speed to high and let the machine run for 3 minutes.

When the cake is completely cooled, slice in half and frost the middle & top. I sprinkled some toasted chopped hazelnuts on top for decoration.

 A bientot,

Caryna, of Caryna's Cakes

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I created a Monster!

Here are some examples of dangerous combinations --
  • tongues and icy metal poles
  • orange juice and toothpaste
  • hungry lions and an injured gazelle
  • me alone with any amount of cheese
  • red wine and a white jacket
  • me alone with a spatula of cheesecake batter
  • delirium and sugar. This one gets me every time
I am in a business where early starts are commonplace. The problem is that my brain doesn't want to sleep at bedtime so I often end up in a situation where I'm baking after only a few hours of rest, armed with sugar, butter and flour. This is what my 5am brain thinks is a good idea: Brownie cookie monster cake. When my brain woke up later in the day I asked myself: Can you take baking too far? If someone suffers a health condition after eating this, can they sue me? Should I start thinking about waivers?

BROWNIE COOKIE MONSTER CAKE  2 layers of brownie with chocolate chip cookies baked on top, sandwiched with Nutella and garnished with mini chocolate chip cookies

Step 1: Line 2 8" round baking tins and divide brownie batter equally between them. This should fill them 1/2 way. Bake for 15 minutes

Step 2: Carefully remove the brownie cakes from the oven. Gently drop balls of cookie batter all over both cakes. the cookie dough will spread slightly. Bake for a further 15 minutes

Let your brownie cookie cakes cool completely in the tins
Although you love your layers equally, choose the uglier layer to be on the bottom.

Smother it with delicious Nutella

Place your 2nd layer on top and smear Nutella all around that puppy
While the Nutella is still fresh and sticky, adhere your mini chocolate chip cookies along the perimeter of your giant cake
And there you have it. The Brownie Cookie Monster Cake that causes people to question your sanity

Recipe for the Brownie: 

125g butter, melted 125g granulated sugar
125 demerera sugar
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
75g (1 egg plus 1 yolk) lightly beaten egg
90g cream flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 8" round baking tins with silicone paper.

- Mix the sugars, cocoa powder, vanilla and egg. Slowly add the melted butter until well mixed.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to the mixture and fold until blended.
- Pour into prepared tray and bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Recipe for the Cookies:

190g butter
250g brown sugar
60g granulated sugar
1 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
360g cream flour
2tsp cornflour
1tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g 55% chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone paper.

- Beat the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, cornflour and salt together. Add to the mixture and fold until blended.
- Add in the chocolate chips and stir until combined.

- Use an ice cream scooper to drop Tablespoon size balls of cookie dough on your prepared tray, leaving them space to spread in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Please bake responsibly,

Caryna Camerino

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Friday, August 5, 2011


Let's talk about serendipity. Let's talk about those days when it looks like nothing good will happen but you end up learning a life lesson. Today's lesson: the universe will look after you.

In moments of panic I try and tell myself that everything will be fine. Amazing even. Well today that resolve to be optimistic was challenged. I was meeting a friend for brunch (my most favourite meal of the day) and wore a really cute button down dress. I drive a Vespa scooter and everyone who knows me knows that I don't do motorcycle gear. It's not lady like. Cool breezes and icy rain doesn't deter me from wearing a dress like a lady. This particular dress was a gift from my aunt who pre-loved it in the 80s. Sitting on the scooter I was only showing some above the knee action. That's G rated. No big deal.

If I'm going to be so dang insistent on being a lady I ought to learn how to ride my Vespa side saddle because after brunch, on the way to the shop to buy ingredients, my bottom button popped off. Eek. I was now showing some mid thigh and an undetermined amount of underwear if looking at me from the right angle. I was PG 13. I thought to myself, "I'm just going to walk into that Tesco like nothing is wrong, with my head held high with confidence. Nobody will notice. And if they do, it's their fault for looking." That was until the next bottom button popped off. Gosh darn stitching from the 1980s... I was now exposed from crotch level down. Now THAT's not lady like. I was no longer willing to walk into Tesco looking confident. I was rated R and ashamed. There was no way I could scoot home without contracting at least a really bad cold.

I ran into the charity shop next door and was immediately greeted by an adorable Cynthia Rowley dress in my size, brand new with tags still on for €10. It's as if the universe's plan all along was for me to find this cute dress. Either that or as the innocent looking Golden Girl lookalike shop woman said, "You might have met your future husband that way!"

That's a lesson in taking the lemons life gives you and making lemonade. I'm going to show you how I took a banana the farmer's market sold me, and made the most delicious ice cream of life.

This is a little something i like to call "Naturally healthy banana ice cream with no cream, so it's not really ice cream. It just tastes like it"

There is no recipe. Just 1 step

I was gifted this amazing Magimix from Jeannie. We met because her pregnancy cravings were often brownies. That girl is a legend.
I peeled a banana, tore it in to rough chunks and put it in the freezer this morning.

This is a self-explanatory before and after picture of my banana

This afternoon I put it in the Magimix with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a Tablespoon of raw coconut oil. I let the food processor run for about 1 minute and ended up with my new favourite snack.

Step 1 - Process 1 frozen banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a Tablespoon of raw coconut oil because you're healthy and you're trendy

Your mixture will look bitty like this at first. Don't panic. Just keep calm and keep the processor running

Eventually your mixture will come together like this. Blissful.

Give it a go! It's low fat, it's mostly fruit, it's delicious, it's full of potassium and electrolytes, it's 1 of your 5 a day, it's refreshing and it's scientifically amazing.


Peace out,


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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cupcake kebabs, strawberry vodka and mix tapes from 1999

When you're a 70 year old housewife trapped in a 30 year old's body you don't travel like most people. You don't camp like most people. You don't drink like most people. You do it classier. 

That's me. Classy. You won't find me drinking Dutch Gold. No way Jose. I'll go for the cheapest vodka I can find but with a little inspiration from people with a lot more free time to think up these things, I undertook to make the prettiest vodka there ever was (in this case I was inspired by Strawberry Vodka. Here's how it goes: 

Step 1: Remove the stems of 2 punnets of strawberries and plonk them in a glass jar.

Step 2: Bathe those strawberries in a bottle of vodka.

Keep the jar in a shady spot and gently agitate the mixture twice a day for 3 days

After 3 days you will have pretty pink vodka that tastes like strawberries. And less pretty strawberries that have been sapped of their life force and colour, and taste like a shot of vodka. Add a dash of Coke and, in the words of one manly man who took a sip, "Well THAT is delightful. It tastes like an ice pop!"

So I had my bags all packed (busting, as per uje) the couch cushions in the car for sleeping on in the tent, the car entertainment sorted (we would be playing random cassette tapes, not knowing what embarrassing mixes would come up because when was the last time you listened to those cassettes? Or labeled them properly?) and I was already panicking about the prospect of possibly maybe feeling hungry during the drive to festival in Mayo (as per uje). I went for 2 categories of car snacks that could be eaten one handed: Healthy (carrot sticks, strawberries, apples, bla bla) and Cupcake Kebabs.

Did she just say cupcake kebabs?

Yes. Yes I did. Cupcake Kebabs. You can't peel cupcake cases while driving and you can't be constantly checking your face for frosting. The solution is to stack a variety of mini cupcakes on a skewer.

Start with mini cupcakes. I had vanilla, lemon, carrot cake and chocolate. When they're cool, remove the paper cases

Frost your mini cupcakes. This was a handy way to use up bits of frosting I already had made up for other orders. I believe I have previously mentioned how I find my life of cake quite wonderful. This is a prime example of why. I have random bits of frosting prepared in my home. All. The. Time. I used fluffy vanilla cream cheese frosting on the vanilla cupcakes with some sugar strands for crunch, lemon on the lemon (which happened to be purple) with alphabet sprinkles because...I don't know, fluffy vanilla cream cheese frosting with butterscotch chips on the carrot cake and chocolate frosting or crunchy peanut butter frosting on the chocolate cupcakes

Skewer the cupcakes in whimsical combination and voila. You are a domestic goddess in the car, which is probably the opposite of domestic. The lemon tartlets in the background were intended as another one handed road trip snack, but got sold instead. It's probably better for my pants that way.

Happiness on a stick

Until we meet again,