Category Archives: Food

Rhubarb Whiskey Cocktails


I’ve recently become a little obsessed with rhubarb. How is it that such an unattractive-looking plant can yield, with the addition of sugar and spices, a flavour so surprisingly sublime?

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(Some years ago, German friends of ours came to visit and were very taken with Actimel rhubarb yogurt. There is no such thing in Germany as rhubarb yogurt. I’m not sure if this says anything significant about the German nation.)

Back to the here and now. This year’s rhubarb season is over, but thanks to the recipe for Rhubarb Tea Cake on the Wise Words blog, I had some rhubarb cordial in the fridge, crying out to be used. The cordial is a by-product of the rhubarb roasting process, flavoured after roasting with crushed cardamom and vanilla pods, reduced to a syrup on the hob, and left to infuse overnight with the roasted rhubarb.

And what better way to use up rhubarb cordial than in a rhubarb whiskey cocktail? (The recipe I used is the one contained in the tea cake recipe above.)

So I took advantage of a surprise evening nap on the part of my obliging seven-month-old and got to work.

The first task, as with all cocktails, is assembling the ingredients. I love this part. It makes me feel like I have practically made the cocktail already:

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Ingredients for a rhubarb whiskey cocktail. The glasses are Riedel ‘O’ wine tumblers and the board is a Melbourne Breadboard Company camphor laurel cutting board.

Almost instantly, I made a mistake. In my enthusiasm to put my under-used ice crusher to work, I crushed the ice first. I then had to race through the rest of the process so the ice would not melt too much. So, crush the ice last, folks.

The Other Half wanted a cocktail, too, as Other Halves will. So I doubled all the quantities in Mona Wise‘s recipe. (Come to think of it, isn’t it strange that most cocktail recipes – the ones in my Mixology book, anyway – are for one drink only? Even if you’re on your own, you have two, right?)

I took the rhubarb cordial from the fridge with a graceful little skip of delight. (In my head, anyway.) It is almost viscous after the reduction process, flecked with dots of vanilla, cloudy with cardamom, and most deliciously of all, it is a seductive, flaming pink colour:

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I got on with the work of juicing the oranges and lemons. Now for the mixing. In went the crushed ice (not too watery, luckily), citrus juices, rhubarb cordial (you get to drain the glass, woop!), whiskey, bitters, and sprigs of mint. Then a good mix. (I used the blade of the kitchen knife, slattern-fashion.)

I was out of ice at this point, so I couldn’t top up the glasses with crushed ice. The garnished results looked good, nonetheless:

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And they tasted MMM.

PS. Picking up on the German theme from earlier, our Teutonic friends at Lidl are stocking rhubarb, with cheerful disregard for the season. If you can’t wait til next year, you have my blessing to go and get rhubarb from Lidl now. If anyone objects, tell them the internet said so.

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Peanut butter and white chocolate blondies: a treatment for chicken pox


After almost six years of blogging, I’ve decided to add a new topic: food. I seem to spend quite a bit of time cooking these days (four children definitely has something to do with it), and I certainly spend lots of time eating, so I have lots to share. Here goes…

Peanut butter and white chocolate: a treatment for chicken pox

No, not to rub onto the sores… To eat, in the form of peanut butter and white chocolate blondies.

Poor Daughter 2 was home with chicken pox all last week. Since baking is a known treatment for all minor childhood illnesses, I thought I’d try to take her mind off things with this incredibly more-ish recipe from Rachel Allen:

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Having peeled Daughter 2 away from her zillionth episode of Peppa Pig (hey, it’s summer in Ireland, which means it was too wet and cold to go outside), we got started by creaming the softened butter and peanut butter:

Creaming the peanut butter and butter

Creaming the peanut butter and butter

If you forget to take the butter out of the fridge in advance to soften, cut it roughly into cubes, put it in the microwave on the Defrost setting for 30 seconds at a time and check after each interval until it has softened.

We used fancy organic peanut butter. I’m not the most confident baker so I tend to overcompensate by using good ingredients and hoping they will balance out any deficiencies in the cooking. Also, I live near Ardkeen Quality Food Store, which besides being an Irish small business success story, gives me all too easy access to high quality foods that can be hard to find elsewhere. (No, they didn’t pay me to write that!)

Back to peanut butter… I’ve used cheap-n-cheerful brands of peanut butter before and the results are also delicious.

Adding the beaten egg and brown sugar

Adding the beaten egg and brown sugar

At last! I’ve been itching to finish the old bottle of vanilla essence for ages, so I can open this one – organic Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract:

Adding the vanilla

Adding the vanilla

The sick child doesn’t get to just watch – she got to work at this point (yes, the pox-y arms in the photo are hers):

Adding the flour and baking powder

Adding the flour and baking powder

It would be quicker to use a food processor for the mixing, but the good old-fashioned wooden spoon is better when cooking with children. It means they can get involved in mixing the ingredients and feel more ownership of the finished product. (Nice bit of corporate-speak there!)

The next bit of magic is the white chocolate:

The chopped white chocolate

The chopped white chocolate

wtity201306187We used Swiss patisserie chocolate (told you we were being fancy). White chocolate buttons or drops would do fine as well, though you do get more substantial gooey splodges of melted chocolate in the finished blondies if you chop up a slab of white chocolate into pieces like this.

Rachel instructs us to butter and line the baking tin. She has three children so she should know better. Any volunteers for cutting out the correctly sized pieces of paper, then buttering and lining the tin while a be-poxed four-year-old fidgets, fusses and possibly even wails with impatience? Didn’t think so. Instead, get the child to tear off a good-sized piece of baking parchment and lay it on top of the tin like this:

wtity201306184Then just scrape in the blondie mixture:

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And smooth out the top:

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And into the oven it goes.

Lastly, persuade the child that waiting thirty minutes to eat something yummy is a GOOD thing (I leave this part up to you).

Enjoy!

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