31 Days of Food - Day 29 - APPLE BUTTER a guest post by Willetta Fleming

Crunch, crunch! It's that time of year again, the leaves are bright with color and crunch under toe!

This time of year reminds me of apple cider from the apple orchards in Michigan.

Apples in mind I thought I would whip up a nice wee bit of apple butter.

Now I keep getting asked what is apple butter and what do you use it for?

I have used apple butter on toast, in porridge, as a marinade for pork. The possibilities are endless!

So very simple to make I made this in the crock pot / slow cooker.

1 dozen apples, peeled, cored, cubed
1/2 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon All Spice


Step 1: Peel, Core, and Chop a dozen apples. I used Gala and Pink Lady.
Step 2: Toss the apples in the sugar and spices.
Step 3: Put everything in the Crockpot, then Set It, and Forget It! I cooked it on low all day.

The smell through the house was glorious!
After about 7-8 hours I was happy with letting it cool down.
I just used a hand held blender to whizz and blend it down to a nice smooth consistancy. I don't really like lumps but to each their own.


Today's post is written by my friend Willetta Fleming who not only has a marvelously magical way with words, she is an incredible person & an amazing jazz Violinst who plays with flair & favour. You can read Willetta's blog here http://brownsugarinnireland.tumblr.com

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Biscuits and Gravy with Genesis Crafty Cheese Scones

Supporting local food businesses is a passion of mine.  There is nothing I like better than to celebrate the success of others especially when they are food producers who make excellent products - just like Genesis Crafty.

When I first ate a piece of Genesis Crafty Wheaten Bread, a decade or so ago I knew immediately, I was onto a good thang!  The bread was moist, crumbly, sweet with a chewy crust.  Toasted with butter and jam it slipped easily off the plate and into my mouth.  Since then it has been my go to brand for Wheaten Bread.

I was delighted therefore to be asked by Genesis Crafty to create a recipe for their Cheese Scones.  Given the chilly weather outside and the need for warmth, I wanted to make something warming, tasty and comforting. The cheese scones have a firm crumb with a slightly sweet tangy cheese flavour.  

My friend from America Willetta and her girls had come to stay the weekend I was working on the recipe. Wiletta is an amazing cook, and suggested I write a recipe using Genesis Cheese Scones for American Biscuits and Gravy.

In the deep southern states of the USA, they are passionate about biscuits, and I will never forget the look of surprise on my face when I ordered them, and was given a plate of scones.  

This is what I came up with - with a little help from Wiletta who was quick to take chilli flakes and garlic out of my ingredients.  The result is a dish of soul food.  The type of lunch that keeps you going to breakfast, food that tastes great, fills you up and makes you feel good.

Biscuits and Gravy made with Genesis Crafty Cheese Scones. This warming dish is perfect for mornings when its chilly outside and eggs just aren't cutting the mustard. 

Wiletta and her girls

Remove eight sausages from their skins and break into small thumbnail sized pieces.

Fry in a skillet over a high heat in a small amount of olive oil, less than 1/2 teaspoon, breaking up the sausages into little pieces

Stir constantly until the sausage starts to brown and crisp

Add 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, stirring and breaking up lumps with the wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes

Add two cups of 0% fat milk and stir until you have a smooth sticky sauce that will coat the back of a spoon, with little lumps of crispy golden brown sausage flicked through the gravy.

Add a good pinch or two of ground sea salt.

Grill the Cheesy Scones, until lightly toasted

Add a lot of freshly ground black pepper - the taste should be very peppery, think a strong pepper sauce for steak - about 4 tsp.

Pour over the cheese scones (biscuits) and grind on some more pepper - then your ready to eat.

Genesis Cheese scones bring a sweet nutty flavour to to a rich peppery, sausage gravy.  


That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Day 23 - 31 Days of Real Food - Rose Chai

We were having breakfast and discussing recipes when Laura expressed an interest to learn to make chai. Never one to let an opportunity pass me by, I immediately offered to show her.

I'd first learnt to make Chai when I was working as a home economist on a cookery programme. The tea takes about 30 minutes to infuse, so that the flavours really mingle and release. I have tried several brands of chai tea bags, but have found nothing compares to making it myself. In Indian and other parts of the Middle East making and drinking chai takes on an element of ritual.

Since I first learnt to maker the tea I have experimented with different flavours, and chatted with Indian friends about their families recipes. I have replaced full fat milk with skimmed milk as I find using full apart milk is simply too rich and the diary takes away from the gentle spiced flavour. Surprisingly even using skimmed milk brings a light creaminess to the tea which does not take away from the taste of the spices.

This sweetly spiced tea tastes warming, soothing and refreshing. There is something about it which is very morish.

When I first tasted it I ended up having several cups, which is interesting because I must be the only Irish person in the world who does not drink black tea. Although I absolutely love herb and spice infusions, with Yogi Teas being one of my favourite brands.

Pick serve this tea with dried dates or other dried fruits - it makes a welcome reprieve for afternoon tea moving a way from endless cakes.

Rose Chai (serves 4)


Two black tea bags - use a good strong tea something like Irish Breakfast (I used nambarrie tea)
Two roobios spice yogi tea bags
1 inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced, with each slice being smashed
1 cinnamon stick
15 black peppercorns
15 green cardamom pods
10 rose petals (optional)
10 yellow mustard seeds
1 clove
1 glass of skimmed milk
6 cups of water
3 tablespoons of runny honey
Pinch of salt
Sugar to taste


Place all the dry ingredients in a saucepan and place over a high heat for 10 seconds to release the flavours of the spices
Add all other ingredients bring to the boil
Boil for three minutes
Then turn the heat to a very low flame and simmer really gently for 30 minutes
Serve in tea glasses

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Mrs Z's Chilli Spaghetti- Day 22 of 31 days of real food

It took a year from hearing about Mrs Z's Spaghetti before I got to taste it.

The problem that took a year to solve was the fact Mrs Z lived in Maryland, USA and I lived thousands of miles away in Scotland.

I'd heard about Mrs Z's chilli spaghetti from her daughter one of my first friends at Uni - Rebecca.

During a winter of long grey days that stretched far to close to summer, we would reminisce about the food of home. For me I missed the comradie of my family table, Dads chips, Brians sandwiches, Mums experiments, and Naomi's chocolate cake.

Rebecca missed her Mums spaghetti.

When I visited America in the summer of 2000, I not only got to eat Mrs Z's spaghetti. I got to learn how to make it.

Oily strands of spaghetti spotted with bright red chilli flakes and covered in Parmesan cheese. It was as easy ad as comforting as a dish of pasta can be.

Today as I walked along the North Atlantic shore on an increasingly winter bound beach I thought of Mrs Z's spaghetti as knew tonight I had to make some.

It wouldn't be me if I didn't experiment a little bit - adding some garlic, and bright green sprouting broccoli and rocket leaves as well as using wholemeal spaghetti. A meal that took moments to put together and soothed my soul.

Quick and healthy comfort food!

This would be a great dish to eat before a high energy cardio session like a marathon or long distance run.

Ingredients - serves two
9 -12 pieces of Sprouting Broccoli
Chilli flakes to taste - I like about a tablespoon, as I love heat
Two cloves of garlic, one smashed one crushed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3-5 tbsp
Handful of rocket leaves
Wholewheat spaghetti to serve two
Grated Parmesan to taste

1. Cool spaghetti in salty rapidly boiling water with a smashed garlic clove until al dente, about 3 minutes before end of cooking time add broccoli
2. Heat olive oil in a separate pan until warm not hot, add garlic and chilli flakes for about 2-4 minutes to release flavours.
3. Drain spaghetti and broccoli, reserve about 1 tbsp of cooking water
4. Toss spaghetti and broccoli in oil and spices, add rocket & Parmesan, and black pepper to taste

Leftovers are great cold for lunch the next day with some more rocket leaves.


That's it for now ...


Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Day 21 - 31 Days of Real Food - butternut squash and bacon risotto plus what to do with leftovers

My sister came home on a surprise visit this week - her food request - butternut squash risotto with bacon. The first time I tasted butternut squash was in a pub somewhere in London. It was in the days when gastro pubs actually meant good food, before the term gastro became overused and flung in front of every pub/bar selling deep fried delights.

The butternut had been cubed and steamed, and was stirred into a risotto at the last moment. The sweet bright orange flesh had the slightest bit of resistance to the bite, compared with the smooth silky rice.

As usual I set to experimenting when I got home. Finding the flavours of bacon and chilli bringing some more depth to the dish. Tis is a very morish dish, and I do feel is comfort food r it's best.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 packet risotto rice
Hot Chicken stock about 2-3 pints
1 butternut squash peeled and cubed
Two packets of streaky unsmoked bacon cut into lardons
Parmesan cheese to taste
1 leek chopped
4 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
Chilli flakes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Cube the squash and steam until tender
2. Cook the lardons until tender, reserve the fat
3. Fry the leek and garlic until soft on a low heat, in the bacon fat
4. Wash the rice then add to the leek and garlic, fry over a higher heat until the grains become translucent
5. Add the stock one ladle ful at a time cooking until it is completely absorbed before adding the next ladle and stirring continuously
6. Continue like this unit lithe rice becomes al dente ( meaning it has a bite to it when tasted)
7. Take off the heat add the cheese, black pepper, cooked butternut squash
8. Serve with more cheese and a scattering of lardons on the top of each plate - sprinkle some chilli flakes

The next day any lover risotto can be shaped into small balls, about the size of a golf ball, flattened slightly, then fried in hot olive oil, adding crushed garlic to the oil just as the cooking is finishing. The risotto balls will caramelise on the outside, and go golden, this is when they ar cooked. Served with chopped apple scattered over them and Parmesan cheese.

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Day 20 - 31 Days of Real Food - Grapefruit and basil breakfast

Sharp, stringent flavours make me smile. The cleansing they bring to the palate revives my taste buds. Pink grapefruit is my staple morning tipple. But sometimes the blood ruby flesh can be too much for me.

As I cut the grapefruit into segments - peeling the skin with a knife then cutting in between the membranes to bring fine segments, a pain if ever there was one, with juice going everywhere - bright green leaves of my basil plant caught my eye.

Just maybe I thought, just maybe those flavours would work together. The next moment I was shredding basil and mixing it with the grapefruit flesh. Then I drizzled it with some running honey.

Natures bounty! Green basil, ruby red grapefruit and golden honey. Refreshing and just zingy enough to serve as a palate cleanser between courses at a dinner party, or simply for breakfast.

It's become one of my favourite dishes and it looks tantalising on a big white palate served family style for brekkie.

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable


Day 19 - 31 Days of Real Food - Nutella and raspberry Burrito

From the market I had bought some middle eastern lavash or flat bread. I love this bread toasted with jam, eaten soft with mezze, or rolled into wraps. After dinner one evening we fancied some dessert but there wasn't much in the house. Having a rummage around I found some Nutuella, frozen raspberries and the lavash bread.

Thinking back to my toasted bread and jam, lead me to thinking about the crepes we can buy at fairs which are full of melted Nutuella. Before I knew it I was spreading Nutuella thickly onto the lavash bread, scattering it with raspberries, then rolling it up like a burrito. All the ingredients tucked inside. Then using a dry griddle pan I cooked it over a high heat, until the bread began to blister - this can also be cooked on a BBQ. The crispy bread when broken open had molten Sweet Nutuella and sharp coolish raspberries.

This is a grt dessert to bring to a picnic or BBQ.

That's it for now ...


Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable