Category Archives: Food

Recipes from the road – Mexican chili chocolate chewy cookies

mexican chocolate chewie cookies

Mexican Chocolate Chewies – delicious and gluten free too!

 

The “Callaghan Across America” tour continues to make its way West across the country. Since my last blog we have been to Clarkston MI, Frankfort IL, Chicago IL, Louisville KY, Nashville TN, Columbia MO, Lawrence KS, Manhattan KS, Bentonville AR, Eureka Springs AR, Dallas TX, Austin TX, Houston TX, – then a seriously long drive across 3 states to get to Tucson AZ, and last night in Las Vegas NV!

You can see lots of fun photos from the road over on my Callaghan Across America album on Facebook.

The shows have been going great and we’ve been seeing many weird and wonderful things on the road.

One of the great things about touring this way, i’ve discovered, is the food! Usually at regular shows we end up eating a lot of fried and quite unhealthy food, but the house shows are full of delicious home cooked food. I thought id share a couple of my favourites from the tour so far. Because I have such a sweet tooth, naturally I had to start with a dessert!


Mexican Chocolate Chewies 

This recipe was given to me by the host of the concert in Austin TX. They are made with deliciously dark cocoa powder and no flour so they are surprisingly light, gluten free, and completely irresistible!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups pecans, roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (King Arthur’s Black Cocoa powder works really well to give a deep chocolatey flavour)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp chipotle chile powder (we used 1/2 tsp and it tasted very good!)

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 large egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

king arthur black cocoa

King Arthur Black Cocoa


Steps:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

While the oven is heating, arrange the chopped pecans in a skillet (frying pan) or on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes or until they’ve turned darker brown (but not black) and smell fragrant.

Mix roasted pecans with the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chipotle chile powder and salt.

Stir the egg whites (no need to whisk them first) into the dry mixture until the batter is well mixed. Stir in the vanilla extract and chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoons of the batter on the baking sheet an inch apart, as the cookies will spread while baking. Bake for 15 minutes or until you see cracks on the surface.

Remove sheet from oven, lift parchment paper with the cookies still on it, off the baking sheet and cool on a rack. Allow cookies to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the paper as they’re very delicate.

They will keep for a few days in an airtight container.

Original recipe taken from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

homesick texan cookbook

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Callaghan Across America” House Concert Tour (Part 1)

Callaghan Across America - Philadelphia PA

Callaghan Across America – Philadelphia PA

I’m just over a week into my “Callaghan Across America” tour and so far have travelled about 4,000 miles.

I have sampled some of New England’s finest fish and chips in Boston, enjoyed a sea air-filled run along the harbour, ridden the Mount Washington incline in Pittsburgh, enjoyed some Cinco De Mayo cocktails, taken a very chilly boat ride on the Chicago river, run up the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia and tasted a very interesting popcorn flavoured cream dessert in Cleveland.

Callaghan Across America - Enjoying some Boston Fish n Chips!

Callaghan Across America – Enjoying some Boston Fish n Chips!

Callaghan Across America - An early morning run in the NE sunshine

Callaghan Across America – An early morning run in the NE sunshine

So far I have pledged my support for a range of sports teams including the Redsox, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Ohio state, Michigan, The Cubs, and Perdue! I’m sure there are no rivals in amongst those…right?!

Callaghan Across America - with the Terrible Towel in Pittsburgh!

Callaghan Across America – with the Terrible Towel in Pittsburgh!

And all along the way I have performed house concerts in people’s homes. I have done 9 of the 26 on the tour so far and have absolutely loved each one. Although each host does things a little differently the common theme running through all is a room full of music loving people eager to hear some original songs and sing along to a few familiar covers. I’m finding that not only have a lot of people never been to a house concert before, but have never really heard about them either.

It’s true that before I moved to the US I hadn’t come across the house concert format, and since moving here I’d only done the odd one slotted in amongst regular public shows. So this tour, doing exclusively house concerts coast to coast, is also a first for me. I keep wondering why I’d never thought to do it before, and whether, in this age where unsigned independent artists are finding it ever harder to use traditional routes of promotion like TV and radio, house concerts will become the number one way of spreading the word about new music.

Callaghan Across America - A typical house concert

Callaghan Across America – A typical house concert

To me house concerts are the oldest form of social networking. Nothing means more than a friend telling another friend about a new artist they have discovered. It goes even further than lending someone a CD, by saying “come to my house this weekend and hear the artist perform up close for yourself”!

Strong connections are made between the audience and the performer at the shows, and they become the best individual marketing and PR ambassadors that you could wish for!

4,000 miles in, the next stops will take me out West to some places I’ve never visited before and some I’m really excited to see again including Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Vegas!

If you’d like to see more photos and updates from the Callaghan Across America Tour, head over to www.facebook.com/callaghanmusic

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thank Crunchie It’s Friday! – A Royal Easter Egg, Hot Cross Buns and a dose of nostalgia

crunchie

The other day I walked into my local supermarket and was immediately drawn to the chocolate section – no great change there – but this time I was hit by a wave of nostalgia as I spied the neatly stacked boxes of Cadbuy’s Crunchie Easter Eggs.

It’s not that I haven’t seen chocolate Easter Eggs over here in the US, although they certainly don’t seem to go in for them on the same scale as back home. Some years when Christmas was still a recent memory, whole supermarket aisles would be taken over, floor to ceiling, with as many varieties of Easter Egg as you could imagine. Some would fit into a teacup, and others could weigh as much as a small child. The standard package though was usually a hand-sized milk chocolate hollow egg, surrounded by two chocolate bars. And Crunchie was always my favourite.

As a child I couldn’t understand people who saved their Easter Eggs, making them last long into the summer months. My view was that if I didn’t eat the chocolate, someone else might, so by the evening of Easter Sunday I was always looking a little green and feeling sorry for myself.

These days, I have to rely on my sister sending me ‘Easter Egg care packages’ from the UK to satisfy my cravings, or just go without, which I know is the more sensible option. But, where’s the fun in that?

easter eggs

Talking of fun, I read an article recently about the Royal Easter Egg which is made by Nick Crean, the Royal Warrant Holder for fine chocolates, in his London factory. Made of dark chocolate, it weighs 4lbs and is filled with lots of goodies.

Photo: Andrew Crowley

Photo: Andrew Crowley

You can read the whole article on how they create the Royal Egg here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9946679/An-Easter-egg-for-the-Queen.html

Finally, if after all that chocolate, you need some carbs to soak it all up…here is one of my favourite recipes for Hot Cross Buns. They’re really easy to make, and taste SO delicious!

I found the crosses a bit too much bother to make out of dough though, so I just use icing which works great.

http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/hot-cross-buns/

hot cross buns

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kitchens of the future…cool or just plain crazy?

Futuristic kitchens

I have a funny feeling that I might be growing up.

I’m actually considering buying a house.

While the prospect of taking on this level of responsibility is somewhat daunting, I am distracting myself with the thought that for the first time in my life, I can make the place I live exactly how I want it.

I’m sure that, given the modest budget I’ll be working with, my interior design skills will only be stretched to painting a few walls and hanging some pictures. But if I won the lottery tomorrow and decided to go a bit crazy, there is no shortage of options out there for creating something out of this world. And obviously I would start with the most important room in the house in my opinion – the kitchen!

Here are some ultra modern, futuristic kitchens I saw that look immensely cool but what I still can’t figure out is where do people keep all the food and appliances?

Imagine coming in here after a night out – I feel dizzy!

Source: Uploaded by user via Callaghan on Pinterest

60’s Futuristic Kitchen – I love that the vision of futuristic in the 60s was a disco ball in the kitchen!

Source: Uploaded by user via Callaghan on Pinterest

Very cool, but possibly a bit too similar to CSI?

Source: indulgy.com via Callaghan on Pinterest

Why have one color when you can have them all?

Source: luxury-interior.org via Callaghan on Pinterest

Wow, this one is seriously weird!

Source: Uploaded by user via Callaghan on Pinterest

Love the hanging herb gardens. Slightly reminds me of the Teletubbies set though

Source: idesignarch.com via Callaghan on Pinterest

For people who reeeally love chipboard…

Source: designakitchen.com via Callaghan on Pinterest

No idea what this would be useful for, but it looks COOL!

Source: indulgy.com via Callaghan on Pinterest

Ok, by far my favorite. I would actually consider buying enough Lego to make this myself. SOLD!

Source: dwell.com via Callaghan on Pinterest

What do you think of them – cool or crazy?

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Let’s ‘Ave a Proper Brew!

My favourite tea..."Let's Have a Proper Brew!"

Yorkshire Tea – my favourite to make the perfect cuppa’



For the past few weeks I’ve been back in England. And despite the cold and wintery weather I have been enjoying a few home favorites.

Through all the glorious pints of Guinness, Fish and Chips and much missed chocolate bars I’ve been re-acquainting myself with, I wonder how I managed to live here all those years without putting on 20 pounds a week! Although there’s nothing like not knowing when you’re going to get to eat a particular food again to make you go a bit crazy – I think it might be time to get back on the juice diet when I return to Nashville!

It’s usually at this point in my trip that I’m considering buying extra suitcases to fill with tins of Heinz Baked Beans, tubs of Birds Custard powder and boxes of Yorkshire Tea, but I have so far managed to resist.

Here are some pictures from my travels which remind me of some of the reasons I love coming home…

There's nothing like traditional fish n' chips!

There’s nothing like traditional fish ‘n’ chips!

The slightly odd combination of tea and giant strawberry meringue!

The slightly odd combination of tea and giant strawberry meringue!

 

Giant meringue

It tasted good though…!


It's surprising the things you miss from home! Some of my favorite flavours of crisps

It’s surprising the things you miss from home! Some of my favorite flavours of crisps

Bacon

You can’t go wrong with a bacon sandwich, covered in Heinz Ketchup!

No birthday party is complete without...Jelly and icecream!

No birthday party is complete without…Jelly and icecream!

If you were living in another country, what would be the one food you’d miss the most??


Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

An American-British Feast – Pumpkin Cheesecake and Eton Mess

pumpkin cheesecake

I’ve been living in the US for 2 1/2 years and have had the pleasure of being invited to three Thanksgiving celebrations.

I have really enjoyed trying the traditional dishes of turkey with gravy, various types of dressings, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and a particular favourite of mine – pumpkin pie.

But this year the pressure was on as I was invited to prepare the dessert – the only dessert! And as an extra twist it had to be gluten free.

The world of gluten free cooking is not one I’ve ever explored, but I was determined to find a recipe that would taste fantastic to everyone and not put anyone in the Emergency Room by the end of the night – definitely the very least you want from a dinner party!

I hedged my bets and went for two different desserts. A variation of my favourite pumpkin pie – Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake, and an old tried and tested recipe from home called Eton Mess.

The only thing I needed to do to make things celiac-safe was to use gluten free ginger snaps for the base of the cheesecake. All other parts of the cheesecake, as well as everything in the Eton Mess recipe is already gluten free.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

This is from Nigella Lawson’s book – Feast. In my opinion Nigella is one of the queens of homemade puddings (the other being Delia Smith) and this recipe definitely did not disappoint. The only tip I have when making this is to try and use the food processor to mix the ingredients. If you use a kitchen aid or do it by hand you risk getting too much air in the mixture or not mixing enough and ending up with a grainy texture to your cheesecake.

FOR THE CHEESECAKE BASE

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or gluten free ginger snaps)

1 stick butter, soft

FOR THE FILLING

1 15oz can unseasoned pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2lbs cream cheese

Place the graham cracker crumbs in a food processor and then add the butter, cut in pieces. Process until the crumb mixture starts to clump together like damp sand.

Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a 9in springform pan to create an ven layer. Put the pan in the fridge while you make the filling. Preheat the oven to 325F.

Put the pumpkin puree and cream cheese into the processor and run the motor until the cheese blends into the pumpkin. Add the sugar and with the motor running, break the eggs one at a time down the tube of the processor. Scrape down and process again, adding the lemon juice and blitzing to make a smooth mixture.

Wrap the outside of the crumb-lined springform pan with plastic wrap. Give a good few layers to make sure everything is completely waterproof. Now sit this on a large piece of double-layered heavy-duty aluminium foil and bring it up around the edges of the pan to make a nest. Sit the foil-covered springform pan in a roasting pan.

Scrape the cheesecake filling into the springform pan, and then pur recently boiled water in the roasting pan to a level approximately halfway up the cake pan.

Bake for about 1 3/4 hours, or until the filling has set with only a small amount of wobble left at its centre; it is worth remembering that it will continue to cook as it cool down. Take the pan out of the water bath and sit on a cooling rack, removing the foil as you do so. When it is cool enough, put the cheesecake in the refrigerator overnight, before removing the sides of the pan to slice.

For my version of Eton Mess, see my previous blog: “If Heaven Was Made of Meringue, This is What it Would Taste Like!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Anti-Atkins Diet – The Joy of Homemade Bread

There aren’t many things more pleasing to the senses than the smell of freshly baking bread coming from the kitchen.

There is something magical, I think, about starting with such an uninspiring lineup of ingredients – flour, salt, yeast, water – and finishing with one of the most satisfying and more-ish foods on earth.

I have been into baking bread for quite a few years. When I lived in London and worked  from my apartment, I would make small loafs in my miniscule kitchen – kneading the dough on the dining room table. I have dipped my toe into the world of bread machines, and they do make some delicious bread, but they by no means deliver the satisfaction created by making it from scratch.

After reading lots of recipes and trying out different chefs’ recommendations, the recipe that worked best for me is from British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Bread Handbook. The book takes baking bread back to its simplest form and is incredibly easy to follow.

Once you master the basic white loaf, then things get really fun with recipes like Chelsea Buns, Hot Cross Buns, Ciabatta, Pizza and Bagels (it still amazes me that one day someone decided dropping raw dough into boiling water before baking it might be interesting!).

Bagels hot from the oven

Chelsea Buns

If you’ve never tried baking a loaf of bread from scratch, I encourage you to give it a go. As long as you measure out the ingredients properly there is very little that can go wrong, and it is such a satisfying thing to create.

Here is the recipe I use for white bread. You can get the full book from amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/River-Cottage-Bread-Handbook/dp/158008186X

(Note: This recipe doesn’t use any sugar, but it still rises just fine. I have tried it with sugar and without, it’s up to you.)

Prep time
1½-2 hours (+ 45 minutes to prove)

Cook Time
40 minutes

Servings
makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  1. 1kg strong white bread flour (or 7 cups)
  2. 10g fast-action yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  3. 15g fine salt (or 1 tablespoon)
  4. 1-2 tbsp sunflower, rapeseed or olive oil (optional), plus extra to oil the dough
  5. 600ml warm water

1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil, if using (not essential, but it makes for a slightly softer, more supple crumb), then add the water. Stir to create a rough, sticky dough. The dough really should be quite sticky at this stage – if it isn’t, add a splash more water.

2. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, rhythmically stretching the dough away from you, then folding it back on itself. The idea is to stretch and develop the gluten within the dough, not to beat the living daylights out of it. Avoid adding more flour if you can: the dough will become less sticky and easier to handle as you knead, and a wetter dough is generally a better dough.

3. When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, coat it very lightly with oil and place in a clean bowl. Cover with cling film or put inside a clean bin-liner and leave in a warm place until doubled in size – in the region of 1½ hours.

4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingertips. Reshape the dough into neat rounds and put on a lightly floured board to prove for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C/gas mark 10, or its highest setting. Put a baking tray in to heat up.

5. When the loaves have almost doubled in size again, take the hot baking tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Carefully transfer the risen loaves to the tray. Slash the tops with a sharp, serrated knife and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C/gas mark 5 and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until the crust is well-coloured, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it sharply with your fingers. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

When searching for a perfect dessert, it’s hard to beat the good British Pud

While some people are addicted to reading the latest fashion magazine or finding out the gossip on the Hollywood grapevine, there is nothing I find more relaxing than sitting down with a good cookery book and reading it cover to cover.

Although I enjoy looking at lots of food related books, it’s really the desserts that get me going. For me, combining a few simple ingredients to create the most heavenly treats is one of life’s purest pleasures.

While I don’t usually need an excuse to start flicking through the brightly illustrated pages, this time there is a definite reason. The friend who owns the house I’m currently staying in is having a dinner party and I volunteered to make dessert. And this particular friend also happens to have been a food writer in years gone by so is not easy to impress!

For our last little gathering I made a variation on the British recipe for Eton Mess, adding some caramelised peaches and spun sugar pieces, and it went down a storm. So the pressure for a repeat success is on!

When I last visited the UK I brought back a cookbook that looked like it would stand me in good stead for some culinary reminders of home – Jamie’s Great Britain. It has some fantastically British sounding recipes in it like “Bubble and Squeak”, “Wee Scotch Eggs”, “Queen Victoria Sponge”, and “Humble Pea & Ham Soup with Fluffy Dumplings”.

That last dish is so British in fact that when the Capital was at its smoggiest, Londoners used to refer to a low visibility day as a “real Pea Souper”.

And of course the book wouldn’t be complete without a recipe for the dish loved by children and adults alike, and the very first thing I ever learnt to cook myself – Jam Tarts.

But I think this dinner party might call for something slightly more sophisticated than a plate of Jam Tarts, so the search continues.

The good thing about a task of this nature is the almost mandatory sampling of many kinds of puddings. Incidentally, one of the many interesting “lost in translation” moments since moving to America was finding out that “pudding” in the US refers to a smooth custardy dish, not simply as another name for any dessert as it does in the UK.

I found a trip to the Nashville Famers‘ Market was the inspiration that I needed, and with all the fresh and tasty looking apples that were in season, I decided to go with one of my favourite British recipes, Apple Crumble.

I usually serve apple crumble with hot custard or cream, but an even more perfect accompaniment I found was a recently discovered ice-cream by Talenti, called Sea Salt Caramel. I think this particular ice-cream goes perfectly with just a spoon, but on apple crumble it’s also fantastic. It’s a pretty decadent treat.

If you like the sound of Apple Crumble, there are loads of great recipes for it online. You can’t go far wrong with Delia Smith’s though, which you can find here, and she even has a handy conversion table on her site for measuring in cups: http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/galleries/delia-waitrose-recipes/best-ever-apple-crumble.html

NB: The photo I used is not actually a picture of my apple crumble, due to it being so delicious that it all got eaten before I remembered to take a photo! So this one is borrowed from http://pincurlmag.com/tag/apple-crumble

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz – A perfect end to a perfect break

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, London

London Baby! I’ve been enjoying a couple of weeks rest and relaxation visiting friends and family in my old home town. It’s great being back in a city which never ceases to amaze me in its scale and diversity. It’s been a great time to be back – the feel good factor surrounding the games is still going strong!

London is a city of contrasts in all manner of things. One example would be the weather – you never know what you’re going to get. Last Thursday night I met with friends in a rooftop garden on the Southbank of the Thames – after 10 minutes braving the cold wind we had to go inside, and all agreed that Autumn had come. One week later we were enjoying drinks outside again in hot sunny weather – sometimes it only takes an hour to go from summer to winter, and you have to carry a range of layers to prepare for all eventualities.

I have had two contrasting experiences in the last couple of days doing two old school British things. On Wednesday night I went with friends to a night at the Bingo! A top prize of £20,000 was promised and I was amazed at how quickly experienced players could survey multiple cards, while I was struggling to check all the numbers on my single card. I didn’t get close to winning the big prize, but I enjoyed a good meal of ham, egg and chips! (that’s fries across the pond!)

On Thursday I enjoyed doing something which I think will seem quintessentially British, but which I had never done before – I went for afternoon tea at The Ritz. It was quite an experience.

We were first served champagne (my kind of afternoon tea!) followed by a fantastic range of delicate sandwiches varying from cheese with onion chutney, chicken and horseradish mayonnaise, smoked salmon, and of course the afternoon tea classic – cucumber.

There was a huge selection of different teas to choose from, as well as coffee and hot chocolate.

Then more food…freshly made warm raisin scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream, as well as a variety of amazing cakes. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly eat one more crumb, a dessert trolley was wheeled by with two more cakes to choose from – a lemon drizzle cake and a strawberry pistachio cake.

All in all it was just as fantastically indulgent as I had imagined and I’m so glad I finally got the chance to go.

So I didn’t win £20,000 on Wednesday, but I might have gained 20 pounds on Thursday. Even though I may have to spend a few days working up a sweat in the gym once I’m back home, every bite was definitely worth it!

Callaghan with the Commissionaire at The Ritz London

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Fish and Chips, Pints of Beer, S’Mores and Grits – A Transatlantic Feast

 

Traveling, seeing new places and having adventures is great fun, but sometimes there’s nothing that feels better than home. Familiar surroundings, friendly faces and the ease and comfort of many things that you know.

It has been 9 months since I’ve been back to the UK and so the next 3 weeks are a long awaited treat. I won’t be doing any gigs while I’m back, just catching up with friends and family and seeing how my hometown of London has changed after the recent Olympic celebrations. I can’t wait!

One thing I miss while living abroad is certain foods that I never even realised I liked that much when I was in the UK, but suddenly when they’re not available, strange cravings appear.

For those of you in the USA interested in sampling some British favourites, most Publix and Kroger supermarkets have some in their “Ethnic Food” Aisle (an amusement in itself!). You can pick up things like Jammie Dodgers, Heinz Baked Beans, Marmite, and even tins of Spotted Dick which, although sounds like an unfortunate condition, is a type of boiled fruit cake, and actually very tasty with icecream or custard.

   

The foods I’m most looking forward to when I go back are fish and chips drenched in salt and vinegar, a pint of beer in a British pub, and the biggest bar of Cadbury’s chocolate I can find.

And I thought it was about time I introduced the UK to some great American classics, so I’m taking back in my luggage some grits, graham crackers and marshmallows to make S’Mores, and I need more suggestions!

What is your favourite American food that you think I should take back to introduce to my British friends and family? It can be anything, as long as it travels well.

Leave your suggestions below and I’ll let you know how they go down across the pond!

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: