First of all, a big thank you to all of the people who came to my demos in the Bord Bia Kitchen at Sheep 2023 in Tipperary last week. It was great to showcase our beautiful Irish lamb. I am looking forward to the Ploughing already!
I have been thinking a lot recently about young people learning to cook, and today I’m sharing two more recipes that will work well with beginners. These are recipes you can simply cook, eat and enjoy. Cinnamon is great in muffins. I have put coconut sugar in this recipe as it is very good for baking. It keeps cupcakes and sponges nice and moist. The apple syrup from Highbank Orchards in Kilkenny is that little bit different from the usual honey or maple syrup. I also love it over grilled pork.
These breakfast bars are packed with seeds and nuts and lovely to eat at any time of the day. They are ideal for children who are out and about all day in the good weather and will keep for up to a week in an airtight container.
25g (1oz) plain flour
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of fine sea salt
15g (½oz) chilled butter, diced
4 tsp light brown sugar
275g (10oz) self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g (2oz) coconut sugar (or use ordinary caster sugar)
2 Irish eating apples, such as Elstar, peeled, cored and chopped
120ml (4fl oz) sunflower oil
3 tbsp apple syrup or honey
175ml (6fl oz) buttermilk
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Line a muffin tin with paper cases. To make the crumble topping, put the plain flour in a bowl with the cinnamon and salt. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs, then stir in the brown sugar.
2. To make the muffins, place the self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and coconut or caster sugar into a bowl with the apples and mix to combine.
3. Add the oil, apple syrup or honey, eggs and buttermilk to the flour mixture and mix it together, using as few stirs as possible. Using a large spoon, divide the mixture between the muffin cases.
4. Sprinkle an even layer of the crumble topping over each muffin and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the muffins are cooked through. To check, insert a skewer into the centre of a muffin – it should come out clean. Serve warm or cold.
Makes 12 bars
150g (5oz) whole almonds (skin on)
75g (3oz) cashew nuts
75g (3oz) sunflower seeds
75g (3oz) pumpkin seeds
35g (1¼oz) chia seeds
35g (1¼ oz) puffed quinoa
75g (3oz) dried cranberries
150ml (¼ pint) apple syrup or honey
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark five). Toast the almonds and cashews in a 20cm x 12.5cm (8in x 5in) baking tin for five minutes.
2. Remove from the oven and add the sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds and cook five minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool.
3. Tip the cooled toasted nuts and seeds into a large bowl and stir in the puffed quinoa and dried cranberries. Line the baking tin with non-stick baking paper.
4. Bring the syrup or honey, oil, salt and vanilla to the boil in a pan. Reduce the heat and then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s a deep golden brown. Pour over the nuts and seeds and then keep stirring so everything gets evenly coated.
5. Transfer the mixture into the lined baking tin and spread out with a spatula. Leave to cool and harden for one hour and then cut into 12 slices. These can be stored in a Kilner jar for up to three days or freeze and thawed out as needed.