#cupcakehour baking tips

2016-06-29 22.22.01

never melt butter in the microwave it destroys it

to check butter at room temperature it will bend without cracking

unwrapping room temperature butter leaves a residue on the wrapper

if the mixing bowl is warm put it into the freezer for 5 minutes

for flakier pastry put your utensil’s in the fridge before use

you fingers melt butter use a knife to cut it

for pastry grate your butter before mixing

when creaming butter do it at a low speed to avoid heating up

cold butter wont aerate properly








Kimchi is one of those things that seems so exotic but is so ridiculously easy to make at home — and fresh, homemade kimchi is infinitely better tasting than anything you can buy.
If you’ve never had this fermented side dish, think of it like a spicy Korean version of sauerkraut
2 pounds red cabbage, chopped
1/4 cup  salt
1/2 pound RADISH, julienned
1/2 pound carrot, julienned
6 spring onions, sliced into 1-inch segments
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 small  pear (or apple), peeled, cored and chopped
1 small  onion, chopped
1 cup  water
1/2 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)or chilli paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
chop the cabbage in to small bite size pieces
In a very large bowl, massage the salt into the cabbage until the leaves start to release liquid.
Cover with water and let the cabbage sit at room temperature for at least two hours while the salt draws out moisture. Periodically toss the cabbage and work your hands through the leaves to expel more moisture

After about two hours, the cabbage should be soft and limp, and the volume reduced in half. (If yours is still firm and full, come back to it after another hour or two.)

Strain the cabbage and rinse under running water to remove excess salt

add the carrot spring onion, mix well


in a blender add the

In a blender, combine the  pear (or apple, if using),  onion, water, gochugaru,(chilli paste )and fish sauce,ginger and give everything a whirl until smooth. Pour the sauce over the vegetables
give the kimchi a good rubdown, making sure the veggies are well combined and coated with sauce

Pack the kimchi into jars, leaving 1 to 2 inches of headspace. The veggies will expand and release more liquid as they ferment, so you don’t want to overfill the jars.

Tamp down the veggies with the back of a spoon to fully submerge them. I find that there’s always enough liquid in the jars to keep them submerged, and since the liquid is more of a paste, the veggies don’t float to the top as in other ferments


Wipe the rims clean, then loosely seal with lids and let the jars ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for at least three days. (It wouldn’t be a bad idea to place the jars in a shallow baking dish to catch any overflow of liquid.)

Every day, press down on the veggies with a spoon to expel more liquid and make sure everything is shipshape. A proper ferment should have no mold and no off smell.

After three days, you can start tasting the kimchi; refrigerate when the flavor has fermented to your liking. It should take on a spicy, sour taste. Some people like less sour and some like more sour, but you should definitely wait for your kimchi to take on a noticeably tangy taste if you want all the beneficial Lactobacilli in your ferment. place in a fridge and enjoy

Guest chef

It felt great when Noel asked me to write something for his blog. I love food with a passion especially dishes cooked using local ingredients where is possible but dishes I love to cook are Indian and Asian for different combinations to create great flavours.  I think this stems a bit from my dad who opened on the sixties the first Chinese restaurant in Ellesmere Port although we have no Chinese heritage. Unfortunately he had a great foresight to see that Asian restaurants were becoming extremely popular but not the foresight to see that his business  partner was not a good choice and he was forced to sell the restaurant. This was my first experience of restaurants and kitchens and as youngster I got to taste what customers wanted in front of house and the traditional food cooked by the chefs for themselves. One of the first lessons I learnt was preparation was essential as with Chinese food the cooking can be very fast and the second lesson was that the Chinese cook pork belly very well.

My introduction to Indian food came while I was working in the Sudan and our house manager was from Goa. He showed me some great dishes and a great insight into spices and how to achieve great flavours to which I was grateful. Again the lesson of preparation was essential to help achieve great food . So I have included two dishes that show that preparing ingredients can produce fabulous flavours on a plate. The first being a traditional chicken korma and I assure you if you try this dish you will never buy a sauce from a supermarket again.





1.5 kg of chicken thighs deboned and skin removed

For the coconut paste

125 grams of fresh coconut flesh or frozen grated

50 grams of blanched almonds roughly chopped

4 tsp of white poppy seeds

For the masala

1 medium onion roughly chopped

2 tbs of vegetable oil

6 cloves

6 green cardamon pods bashed

3.5 cm cinnamon stick

1 tsp salt

1/4 to 1/2 tsp chilli powder

200ml of water

125ml of thick yogurt mixed with 125ml of water

3 black cardamon pods seeds only crushed



Blend all the ingredients for the coconut paste in a mini processor add a touch of water to help it bind. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based wok or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cloves, green cardamon pods and cinnamon stick and fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the onion and salt and fry for 10 minutes till the onion just about browns, add the chilli powder. Then add the chicken pieces and fry to brown the chicken, add the water and the coconut paste bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Take the pan of the heat and stir in the yoghurt and water mix then return to a gentle heat and cook for 30 minutes uncovered. Make sure the mixture does not stick to pan add water if needed. After 30 minutes stir in the black cardamon seeds and serve with Basmati rice.

My next dish really needs preparation because the cooking of the prawns is so important you can’t start looking for ingredients or the prawns will over cook and spoil the dish. The dish has origins from Cambodia I have just put my twist on it but my friends have cooked my recipe for their friends and have had excellent feedback. It’s a great dish once prepared is so quick to cook so you don’t keep your dinner guests waiting.



Serves 4


1 firm mango but not over ripe

1 Tsp corn flour

1 medium sized pineapple

2tbs of vegetable oil

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

100 gram of shallot finely chopped

1 red birds eye chilli (more if you want more heat)

500 grams of fresh king prawns peeled

Juice of one lime

1tbs of fish sauce

1tbs of light soy

Hand full of fresh coriander chopped

White pepper to season



Peel and cut the mango into 10cm squares and do the same with the pineapple. Mix the corn flour with a touch of water and set to one side. Heat the oil in a wok to a medium heat add the garlic and allow 1 minute to sizzle till it just changes colour but does not burn. Then add the shallots and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, add the chilli and prawns turning the heat to high and cook till the prawns just turn pink about two minutes. Add 2tbs of water, lime juice, fish sauce, light soy and the corn flour, stir fry for a few seconds just to thicken the sauce. Then add the pineapple and mango and cook just too warm through. Stir in the coriander and season with the white pepper. Serve with Basmati rice.

I hope you try these two dishes but hope that you take on board “It’s all in the preparation” and again I thank Noel for letting me write for his blog a great chef who is inspirational to many.

many thanks to David for a brilliant piece . you can follow david on twitter @Diddy186Davis for much more


#cubcakehour baking tips


Work with half of the cookie dough at a time when rolling and cutting cookies. Too much handling of the dough makes cookies tough. Keep the other half refrigerated. Chilled dough is easier to handle

Bake cookies on shiny, heavy aluminum baking sheets

if not too dark. Insulated baking sheets require a slightly longer baking time

Grease baking sheets with cooking spray or solid shortening instead of butter or margarine. Avoid using tub butter

Use parchment paper to eliminate the need for greasing baking sheets. It also promotes even browning

if you need to bake more than one at a time, rotate the sheets from the top rack to the bottom rack halfway through baking to encourage even browning

Check cookies for doneness at the minimum baking time

Cool baking sheets between batches before reusing; wipe the surface of each with a paper towel

Place a sheet of wax paper on the counter and sprinkle it with sugar. Cookies will cool without getting soggy

Cool cookies completely before storing them in airtight containers

wood sorrel


Habitat: Wood sorrel prefers moist soil, and partial shade. Patches of wood sorrel are prevalent on forest floors, and are often found near wild violets, cleavers, and wild onions

Leaves – raw or cooked. A delicious lemony flavour, the leaves make a refreshing, thirst-quenching munch and are also added to salads, soups, sauces etc

It’s deliciously sour, but in a pleasant, non-bitter way. It reminds me of lemons

As a seasoning, it provides a lemony/vinegary taste to whatever it’s added to

Once you’ve tasted a sorrel, you’ll never be able to forget the flavor and therefore will have a VERY VERY hard time misidentifying it in the future

Wood Sorrel only feels at home in moist, semi-shady areas

A walk in the woods, especially in spring in shady areas, can bring a welcome glimpse of vivid, fresh green – Wood Sorrel

Common sorrel has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves may be puréed In soup and sauces or added t0 salads; they have a flavour that is similar to kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries The plant’s sharp taste is due to oxidic acid, which is mildly toxic

it grows in almost every country in the world and is widely used in cooking and medicine

Sorrel has been known as “cuckoo’s meate”, and it is thought that it got this name because people believed that the cuckoo used it to make its voice clear. It is also known as spinach dock. It grows wild as well as in gardens, and its leaves may turn to crimson, or the veins may become a purplish colour. It looks a lot like spinach and can be used in much the same way, although it complements eggs, chicken and other poultry as well as lamb, veal and goat’s cheese

Writing in 1720, John Evelyn says that sorrel “sharpens the appetite, assuages heat, cools the liver and strengthens the heart.”

If you visit Shiraz in Iran, sorrel soup, kardeh in Farsi, is sold by street vendors in winter, to ward off colds and flu. It is widely used in Russian cuisine and there it is believed that sorrel lowers blood pressure. In France it is also widely used in omelettes, soups and green sauce to accompany fish. The young leaves can be used in salads just as spinach and dandelion leaves can. These can be substituted for sorrel and vice versa. In Ireland they use sorrel in a dish that requires fish to be poached in milk





foraging and growing my own

As a child I remember picking berries throughout the summer in a forest near my grandmothers house, and on into autumn when blackberries were in fruit. I also remember some of them being really sharp and others being really juicy and learning the difference between both so you always got the nice sweet juicy berries.

All of that really stopped for me as I grew up and became more active in sports and work, so forest visits became less and less frequent, until it became just another childhood memory. I still pick an occasional blackberry but not as much as I used to do. I suppose life and work got in the way. #cheflife

Then my Mom began growing her own a few years back and I began to pick berries again and eat away as I pleased, furthermore Mom also developed an interest in making jam, chutneys and relishes from her produce in the greenhouse with the addition of a small few ingredients from the supermarket. For which she became know for and I found myself going home to try the latest creation, cucumber relish still is the most unexpected surprise. (Taste was odd but really nice)

I now am growing my own strawberries but the birds are enjoying them more than I am at the moment,( natures bounty I suppose wild animals take preference over us humans). Instead of growing vegetables I am foraging for food and enjoying it immensely I hasten to add, whether it be in a forest, looking for herbs, a country road looking for berries  or the seashore looking for samphire or whatever takes my fancy. I now find myself picking up a few bits every time I go anywhere.

As my career develops I figure it will be handy to know and be able to show other people as time goes on. I am now just short of looking through fields for plants that I can eat, not quite comfortable with the idea just yet.


I feel that there are untapped ingredients to be played with by chefs in the forests and shores of this country, and they taste great to be honest about it. About a fortnight ago I discovered wood sorrel, and chervil growing rampant in a forest near home, adding to that the wild garlic just outside Tralee and wild leeks outside Listowel, that is on top of where I know certain berries are and keeping my eye on them like a woman looking for a bargain.

My next step is looking to preserve these ingredients long term. There are a few ways I know of but will they work for these new foraged ingredients as well as they did for my Mom.

 Only time will tell.

Follow my adventures on Instagram @chefpaulc and Twitter @chefpaulc



There are super foods and hyper super foods and then there is borage little used in cooking or anything else a traditional plant that grows wild or by gardeners for its flowers but there is so much more to it .

In the garden it aids plants it is interplanted with esp. Tomatos & strawberries. Strenghts them against rot

In cooking it can be used in salads,sauces, jellies, chutneys , soups desserts , tea , consumme , cocktails

The flower is great in salads can be candid for pastry

The blue dye is edible from the plant but goes pink in acid (vinegar)

It grows in wood lands and pastures




Salt and baking


All about salt Salt slows down the chemical reaction in the dough

2 calming fermentation activity to a steady level

l 3 salt makes the dough a little stronger

4 salt is hydrscopic which means it absorbs water

5 salt makes pastry tighter

6 salt effects the dough from the moment it is added

7 salt of course adds flavour

8 salt potentiates the flavour of other ingredients

9 in baking the type of salt is irrelevant