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Africa, St Patrick's Missions Magazine

Let there be food…

Recipes from Amy Heffernan, a chef from Co Wicklow, Ireland. 

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Africa, December 2021, Vol 86 No. 9 - Amy Heffernan

Christmas Cake

This recipe will make a 10” square or 11” round cake.

It’s that time of year again and I would like to wish you a very happy Christmas and a safe and happy New Year, from my family to yours. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for traditions and remembering loved ones. Following a request for a fruit cake recipe, I have decided to share a recipe given to me by a dear friend to us all here in Kiltegan and to many Africa readers who enjoyed her recipes over the years, Lucy (Lucia) Niceforo Hayes. Sadly, Lucy passed away in 2017. She had two great loves in her life, her family and cooking. I hope you enjoy her recipe and remember her fondly when using it.

You will need:

Fruit cake:

700g Sultanas

500g Raisins

300g Currants

225g Mixed Peel

225g Glacé Cherries (halved)

1 Orange (Rind & Juice)

1 Lemon (Rind & Juice)

250ml Brandy (Whiskey or Rum)

400g Butter at room temperature

400g Dark Brown Sugar

8 Eggs

600g Plain Flour

120g Ground Almonds

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Nutmeg

1 Tsp Mixed Spice

 

Almond Icing:

225g Ground Almonds

225g Icing Sugar

225g Caster Sugar

1 Egg

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1 Tbsp Brandy (Whiskey or Rum)

1 Tsp Almond Essence (optional)

 

To Cover

5 Tbsp Apricot Jam

1250g Roll Out Icing (Ready to roll fondant icing)

Top Tip: If your oven tends to be hot, wrap a double layer of brown (parchment) paper around the outside of the cake tin and tie with string.

Method:

Preparation: Place the sultanas, raisins, currants, mixed peel, and cherries in a large bowl, pour in the juice and rind of the orange and lemon, also pour in the brandy and mix well. Cover and leave overnight to allow the fruit to soak.

 

Preheat your oven to 140°C for conventional oven or 120°C for fan assisted oven. Grease and line your cake tin with a double layer of greaseproof paper.

 

In a bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then gradually add the eggs as you continue to mix. Next, fold in the flour, ground almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice. Once blended stir in the soaked fruit. Spoon into the lined cake tin and level the surface.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 4 hours or until the cake feels firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. When cool, pierce the cake several times over the surface and feed with some brandy. Wrap the cake in a double layer of greaseproof paper and tin foil, store in a dry cool place until you are ready to ice.

 

To make the almond icing place all the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add the wet ingredients, combining to form a paste. Warm the apricot jam and spread thinly across the fruit cake (the almond icing will stick better to the fruit cake). On a surface dusted with icing sugar roll out the almond icing until it is 5mm thick taking care that it doesn’t stick to surface. Roll the icing large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Gently place the icing over the cake using your rolling pin, smooth the top of the icing using your hands or a cake smoothing tool, then gently ease the icing down the side of the cake, smoothing it as you do. Trim any excess icing with a small sharp knife.

 

Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment and allow to dry out for a few days before adding the roll out icing or royal icing if you prefer. To cover with the roll out icing apply the same steps as the almond icing. Decorate with a festive ribbon and enjoy. 

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Africa, Sept/Oct 2021, Vol. 86 No. 7 - Amy Heffernan

Black Pudding Sausage Rolls

This month’s recipe is a great savoury dish for cold autumn days. It’s a twist on the traditional sausage roll by using black pudding alongside pork mince. Black pudding is a great ingredient that adds a depth of flavour to this recipe. I hope you enjoy it!

You will need

2 Sheets Ready Rolled Puff Pastry (1 roll is approx 350mm x 230mm in size)

280g (10oz) Black Pudding

400g (14oz) Pork Mince

1 Small Cooking Apple

1 Onion (finely diced)

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

80g (3oz) Breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp Tomato Relish or Ketchup

1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard

1 Egg (Beaten)

Salt & Pepper

Method

Peel and core the cooking apple then thinly slice. Heat a pan over a medium heat and place the sliced apple into the pan with 1 tbsp water. Give it a little stir before covering the pan with a lid and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir gently then cover again and continue to cook gently until the apples are really soft then set aside to cool.

 

In another pan gently heat the vegetable oil, add the diced onion and sauté for a few minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

 

Lay the puff pastry sheets out on a flat surface while you prepare the mix. Finely dice the black pudding and add to a large bowl with the pork mince, cooled stewed apple, cooled sautéed onion, breadcrumbs, tomato relish, wholegrain mustard, and season well with salt and pepper.

 

Thoroughly combine the mixture and divide into two halves. (Do the following for each pastry sheet.) Place the mixture in the centre of the pastry sheet, shaping into a cylinder the same length as the sheet. Brush the long edges of the pastry with the beaten egg, roll the pastry over

 

the filling until it overlaps and gently squeeze the edges together to create a seal. Roll the whole thing over so that the join is on the bottom. Lift on to a flat baking tray and place in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C for a fan assisted oven (350ºF, Gas Mark 4), 200°C for a conventional oven.

 

Remove the rolls from the freezer and, using a sharp knife, cut each roll into eight pieces. Arrange these, with the join underneath, on a tray that has been lined with greaseproof paper. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and snip a small ‘V’ on top of each roll. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.

 

Remove from the oven and gently lift the sausage rolls from the tray on to a wire rack to cool. These taste great with tomato relish on the side.

 

Top Tip: You can always make your own puff pastry but the ready rolled store-bought pastry is great quality and makes life a lot easier!

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Africa, June 2021, Vol. 86 No. 5 - Fr Pat McCallion

Rhubarb Crumble

This month St Patrick’s Fr Pat McCallion shares one of his favourite dessert recipes with us. We hope you enjoy it.

You will need

1lb 5oz or 600g rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks

4oz or 115g sugar

Juice of one lemon

 

For the Pastry

(to use now and to freeze):

10oz or 280g of plain flour

2oz or 60g of corn flour

2 teaspoons of castor sugar

6oz or 170g butter

1 egg yolk mixed with a little water

For the Crumble

4oz or 115g plain flour

2oz or 60g butter

2 teaspoons of castor sugar

1oz or 30g finely crushed ginger biscuits

1oz or 30g grated cheddar cheese

Method

To prepare the rhubarb: Stew the rhubarb with the sugar and lemon juice over a low heat. If you have time you can also prepare the rhubarb the night before in the following way. Wash and wipe clean the rhubarb stalks and chop into chunks. Place the chunks into a stainless steel saucepan and sprinkle sugar over and then pour lemon juice over the sugar and cover the saucepan and leave overnight. When you are ready to make your rhubarb crumble bring the rhubarb to the boil and then remove the saucepan from the heat to cool down.

 

To make the pastry: (I always make extra pastry so that I can freeze it for future baking.) Sieve plain flour and corn flour together, rub in the butter. Then mix in the castor sugar, add the mixed egg yolk and water and using your hands bring the mixture together to form a dough.

 

Grease a 8 inch round loose bottomed flan tin and line the base with a layer of greased greaseproof paper. Take just over a third of the dough and roll it out and line the flan tin. (If you wish you could grate and sprinkle a small amount of orange rind on the base of the pastry). Now prepare the crumble.

 

To make the crumble: Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the castor sugar, crushed ginger biscuits and grated cheddar cheese into the mixture and gently mix the ingredients with your hands until all is well integrated. Take the pastry lined flan tin and spoon in the rhubarb holding back some of the juices for serving. Spoon the crumble evenly over the rhubarb and place the tin into a preheated oven at 180ºC for 35 minutes or until crumble is brown. Remove carefully from the oven and let it cool before taking it out of the flan tin. Serve warm with fresh cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

 

Tip: The crumble can be baked without the pastry. Using a greased pie dish spoon the stewed rhubarb onto the dish and then the crumble evenly on top and bake in the oven as directed above. Spoon into serving dishes when cool.

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Africa, May 2021, Vol. 86 No. 4 – Amy Heffernan

Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni

This month’s recipe is a great vegetarian pasta dish. It’s super easy to make and is a real comfort dish. The recipe uses a type of pasta called Cannelloni which is shaped in large tubes. We are filling these with a ricotta and spinach filling. You could also use a beef ragu instead. Serve this dish with some crusty bread and enjoy.

You will need

200g Cannelloni pasta

80g Parmesan

 

Ricotta & Spinach Filling

500g Ricotta cheese

200g Baby spinach

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Small onion (finely diced)

1 Clove garlic (finely diced)

60ml White wine

60g Parmesan (finely grated)

½ Tsp Ground nutmeg

Salt & Pepper

Tomato Sauce

1 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Cloves garlic (finely diced)

1 Tin (400g) Chopped tomatoes

1 Tsp Sugar

Salt & Pepper

 

Béchamel Sauce

25g Butter

25g Flour

1 Bay Leaf

500ml Milk (warmed)

Salt & Pepper

Method

We will start with the tomato sauce. Gently heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic. Once soft but not coloured, add the tomatoes and sugar and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in a hot pan with a little water, once wilted, remove from the pan to cool. Squeeze the spinach of excess water then chop roughly.

Gently heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion and sauté, once the onions are soft, add the white wine and allow to reduce until nearly all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat.

Mix the onions and garlic with the ricotta, spinach and Parmesan, then add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Taste to check you are happy with the flavour. Spoon the ricotta filling into a piping bag and fill the cannelloni tubes.

Place the tomato sauce in the bottom of an ovenproof dish and lay the cannelloni on top. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 while you make the béchamel sauce.

Heat the butter and flour in a pan and stir to create a roux (paste). Stir for a couple of minutes to cook out the floury taste, then whisk in the warm milk bit by bit to avoid lumps. Add the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, as the sauce thickens. Remove the bay leaf and spoon the béchamel over the cannelloni and top with grated Parmesan.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes removing the tin foil for the last 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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Africa, April 2021, Vol. 86 No. 3 – Amy Heffernan

Easter Chocolate Cake

This month’s recipe is a delicious Easter chocolate cake. It’s super-easy to make, it’s moist and perfect for any chocolate lovers in your life. Although I have decorated this cake with an Easter theme, it’s the perfect cake for any special occasion.

You will need

For the Chocolate Cake

250g (8oz) Plain flour

430g (16oz) Caster sugar

85g (3oz) Cocoa powder

2 tsp Bread soda

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp Salt

250ml (8½ fl oz) Buttermilk

125ml (4fl oz) Vegetable or sunflower oil

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla essence

250ml (8½ fl oz) Coffee (freshly brewed)

For the Chocolate Butter Icing

330g (12oz) Butter (at room temperature)

600g (21oz) Icing sugar (sifted)

60g (2oz) Cocoa powder

2 Tbsp Cream

Easter chocolates to decorate

Method

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF / Gas Mark 4) for a conventional oven or 160°C (320ºF / Gas Mark 3) for a fan assisted oven. Line two 20 cm or 8 inch round sandwich tins or cake tins with baking parchment.

In a bowl mix together the flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, bread soda, baking powder and salt.

In another bowl whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla essence together, then pour into the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Finally add the coffee and stir until all combined. Divide the mixture into the two lined tins.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes. A skewer placed in the centre of the cake should come out clean when done. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

While the cakes cool, make the chocolate butter icing. First sift together the icing sugar and cocoa. Beat the butter using an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually add the icing sugar and cocoa powder beating the mixture as you add them in. If the icing seems a little stiff add 2 tablespoons of cream and mix until you have a smooth butter icing that’s easy to work with. Spread some of the icing across one of the cooled cake layers, then top with the remaining cake layer. Next spread the remaining butter icing over the top and sides of the cake. Place some Easter chocolates decoratively on top.

Enjoy!

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Africa, January/February 2021, Vol. 86 No. 1 – Amy Heffernan

Parsnip and Apple Soup

This month’s recipe is perfect to warm you up on the cold winter days. Tasty parsnip and apple soup is a meal on its own when served with some fresh homemade bread. It’s a simple recipe using ingredients that are easy to find and is quick to prepare. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need

4 Parsnips (Peeled & Chopped)

2 Onions (Peeled & Chopped)

3 Apples (Peeled, Quartered & Chopped)

3 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Litre (34 fl oz) Vegetable or Chicken Stock

200ml (6¾ fl oz) Fresh cream

Salt & Pepper

Method

Place a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and add the olive oil. When heated add the chopped onions and cook gently for 2 minutes. Then add the chopped parsnips and apples, and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

 

Pour in the vegetable or chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the parsnips are tender, then add the cream.

 

Remove from the heat. Puree using a stick blender or liquidiser. Season to taste with salt and pepper

 

Serve with some fresh homemade bread and enjoy.

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Africa, December 2020, Vol. 85 No. 9 – Amy Heffernan

Christmas Pudding Cheesecake

It’s that time of year again and I would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas and New Year. Christmas is a wonderful time of year for traditions, I always loved making Christmas pudding and cakes every year with my granny. The smell of the pudding steaming on top of the stove was amazing, so our recipe this month will be a twist on Christmas pudding by using it to make a cheesecake. It is a simple recipe to prepare and a great way to use up leftover Christmas pudding. It’s also a great recipe for anyone who finds pudding too rich or heavy.

You will need

For the Base:

150g (5oz) Digestive Biscuits

100g (3½oz) Gingernut Biscuits

130g (4½oz) Butter (Melted)

For the Cream Cheese Layer:

650g (22oz) Cream Cheese

400ml (13½fl oz) Fresh Cream

100g (3½oz) Dark Brown Sugar

100g (3½oz) Caster Sugar

1 Vanilla pod (Split &

Seeds Scraped)

250g (8¾oz) Christmas pudding

25ml (¾ fl oz) Cointreau

1 Orange (Juice & Zest)

2 Gelatin Sheets

Method

Put the digestive and gingernut biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush to crumbs using a rolling pin. Place the crumbs in a bowl, then pour over the melted butter. Mix thoroughly, then put them into a 24 cm or 9-inch round springform tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

 

In a bowl beat together the cream cheese, cream, dark brown sugar, caster sugar and vanilla seeds until the mixture resembles the consistency of lightly whipped cream and then set aside.

 

Place the gelatin sheets in cold water and leave to soak for about five minutes.

 

In a blender place the Christmas pudding, Cointreau, and orange zest, blitz together until it resembles breadcrumbs, then fold this into the cream cheese mixture.

 

In a pan gently heat the juice of 1 orange to a simmer, squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and add to the simmering orange juice and stir until it dissolves.

 

Gently fold the orange and gelatin into the cream cheese mixture until well combined, then pour over the biscuit base spreading it evenly. Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Carefully remove the cheesecake from the tin and serve with a little cream on the side.

 

Tip: To decorate peel some oranges, slice into rounds and place on a baking tray. Sprinkle them with sugar, then blowtorch until caramelised and leave to cool. Arrange the orange slices in a spiral or however you desire on top.

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Africa, September/October 2020, Vol. 85 No. 7 – Amy Heffernan

Irish Tea Brack

This month’s recipe is for an Irish tea brack. With Halloween just around the corner it’s a lovely alternative to the traditional Barmbrack which is usually made with yeast and eaten at this time of year. The Irish tea brack requires you to soak dried fruit overnight, but it is simple and quick to make. I hope you enjoy it.

You will need

100g (3½ oz) Sultanas 

100g (3½ oz) Raisins

100g (3½ oz) Currants

80g (2¾ oz) Glace Cherries

50g (1½ oz) Mixed Peel

300ml (10 fl oz) Fresh hot tea

1 Egg

200g (7oz) Soft Dark Brown Sugar

225g (8oz) Self Raising Flour 

1 Tsp Mixed Spice

Method

Place the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel in a bowl, and pour in the hot tea. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and allow to steep overnight.

 

The next day, preheat the oven to 180ºc (350ºF) (Conventional Oven) or 160ºc (320ºF) (Fan Assisted Oven). Line a 1lb (450g) tin with parchment paper.

 

Gently whisk the egg and then add it and the brown sugar to the fruit mix. Sift the self-raising flour and mixed spice into the fruit mixture and stir until it’s all combined 

 

Pour into the lined loaf tin and bake for 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the brack comes out clean.

 

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

 

Tip: This brack will last well in an airtight container and it can also be frozen.

©Africa, St Patrick's Missions Magazine