Gluten FreeRoasted Tomato & Goats Cheese Tart

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Sometimes I get to write for other sites and this article appeared last year on, given the sudden emergence of the sun I thought this would be a good recipe to share.

As soon as there is a bit of heat in the sun and the days start to stretch in to long relaxed evenings my mind turns to summer flavours. Tomato’s, basil, olives, crisp green salads, fresh goats cheese and mozzarella all served on platters with bread or crackers and chilled rose.


The combination of tomato’s, tapenade and goat’s chefs smeared on a crust of bread, eaten while sitting in the sun is one of life’s easily achieved pleasures but I wanted to pull those flavours together in to something more structured, something good for a picnic lunch or a light supper. My first thought was a sandwich but as gluten free bread can be hit or miss I decided on a tart with a lovely crumbly butter crust, a layer of tapenade covered in with a creamy goats cheese mousse all topped with roasted cherry tomato’s.

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If you are nervous about making gluten free pastry it is good to know that the flours that are available now make it much less of a panic inducing chore than it used to be. This all butter pastry made with a whole egg comes together easily and bakes beautifully. You could make your own tapenade but to make life easy I picked up a fresh tub in the market while getting the tomato’s and parsley,  as long as you use one that is good quality the tart will be fine. If you are not a fan of olives you can substitute pesto.


9 inch gluten free pastry shell


6 ounces of Doves Farm gluten free plain flour

3 ounces of cold salted butter

1 large egg

Butter a 9 inch loose bottomed tart tin


  • put the flour in a clean chilled bowl
  • grate or slice in the cold butter and using your finger tips rub the butter in to the flour until you get the consistency of fine bread crumbs
  • beat the egg with a fork in a small bowl and add to the flour, mixing with a knife, use enough of the egg to bring the dough together
  • wrap the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge to chill for at least an hour
  • preheat the oven to 180, Gas 4, 350f
  • remove the dough from the fridge and taking it from the cling film press it in to the buttered tin using your fingers
  • trim around the edges but leave enough of the pastry above the edge of the tin to allow for the fact that the pastry will shrink while baking
  • line the pastry shell with foil or baking parchment and fill with baking beans
  • bake on the top shelf of the oven for 15 minutes and then remove the shell from the oven. Lift the foil and beans out of the par baked she’ll and brush the pastry with egg wash.
  • return the pastry shell to the oven, on the middle shelf for a further 15 minutes until nicely browned
  • leave the baked pastry shell to cool in the tin


Roasted tomatos

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  • slice the cherry tomato’s and toss them in a spoon of olive oil
  • place the tomatoes, cut side up on an oiled tray and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • place the tomato’s on the top shelf of the pre heated oven for 15 minutes. To be super efficient you can roast the tomato’s on the top shelf while the pastry is baking for its final fifteen minutes on the middle shelf.
  • after fifteen minutes remove the tomato’s from the oven and leave to cool on the tray


While the pastry shell and tomatoes are cooling make the goats cheese mousse


Goats Cheese Mousse


8 ounces of goats cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup of crewm

1 ounce of grated parmesan

a good handful of parsley finely grated

salt and pepper to taste


  • place the goats cheese in a bowl with the parsley and parmesan.
  • pour in half of the cream and using a mixer beat together, adding more cream to make a smooth mousse. You don’t want the mousse to be too soft or it won’t hold its shape when you slice the tart
  • add slat and peeper to taste and place in the fridge to chill


To construct the tart

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  • Take the cooled tart shell and smear the base with tapenade
  • Remve the mousses from the fridge and beat with a wooden spoon to soften, spoon the mousse in to the tart and spread gently over the tapenade with a flat knife
  • carefully place the cooled roasted tomato’s in a circle on top of the mousse

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When you are ready to serve remove the tart form the loose bottomed tin and transfer to your serving plate. Serve at room temperature with a crisp green salad simply dressed and a chilled glass of wine.




Gluten Free Mincepies




One last repost from last year as the pastry in these mincepies is the best and works so well gluten free that I don’t think I will ever risk trying any other kind. The combination of lard and butter makes for a crisp yet sturdy crust that holds upwell against the bubbling juices of the mincemeat and the addition of orange juice gives it an extra bit of luxury. Coming up soon will be the best gluten free sponge for trifle and some other festive treats.

It is now getting perilously close to Christmas, this week for me is going to be full of the madness of finding and decorating a tree, starting my gift shopping, going to a couple of Christmas parties and trying to wrap up work for the year, in other words this is going to be a stressful week. As an antidote to this I am planning on spending as many evenings as possible wrapped in a blanket on the couch watching Christmas movies and eating nice things, I started this balm for the soul over the weekend with red wine, cheese and Fred Clause followed by a rousing dose of Die Hard and I am planning on moving on to mince pies, more red wine and possibly Elf this evening.
A good mince pie should be full of flavour, ideally a bit sticky from syrupy juices that have bubbled up over the crust during baking, it should be golden brown, crisp and very moreish.
I have had a few dodgy experiences with bought Gluten Free mince pies in the past, one exploded in a cloud of sweet dust as soon as I bit in to it and I spent the next ten minutes choking on icing sugar and crumbled pastry, this was not pleasant. I am sure things have improved but to be honest I like my own so much that I am not going to spend ridiculous money on GF mice pies just to see if they are any good.
The pies I make use a pastry that is a version of the pastry I make for quiche and savoury tarts as I find it stands up well to a rich fruit filling. This basic recipe is embellished with sugar, orange zest and juice and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar to give it a seasonal flavour.

12 ounces Doves Farm Gluten Free plain flour
1 &1/2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
3 ounces of butter, chilled
3 ounces of lard, chilled
Zest and juice of one large orange

1 egg beaten for egg wash
1 tablespoon caster sugar mixed with a ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon for sprinkling

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  • • In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar, xanthan gum, salt and orange zest
    • Grate or cut in the chilled butter and lard.
    • Rub in the fats with your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb consistency
    • Make a well in the centre and add enough of the orange juice to make a nice firm dough, if you don’t get enough juice from your orange you can add a bit of water.
    • Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for at least a half hour.
    • While the dough is chilling pre heat the oven to Gas 6, 200, 400f
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    • Butter your baking sheet, I use a bun tray as I like a deep filled mince pie but use whatever mould you like.
    • Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a floured surface, roll it out to a thickness of about ¼- ½ cm.
    • Using a pastry cutter or a giant wine glass, cut the pastry to fit your baking tray.
    • To top the pie you could use another circle of pastry to make a completely closed in pie, you could use a star cutter or any other shape you like or you could cut your pastry in to strips and create a lattice work effect on the pie.
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    • Fill each pie with about a teaspoon and a half of mincemeat and brush the edges and the top of the pie with the egg-wash.
    • Sprinkle the surface of the pie with the cinnamon sugar mix and pop the trays in the oven. This amount of pastry made 2 trays of 12 pies and I swapped shelves halfway through the baking to ensure even cooking.
    • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, keep an eye on them towards the end of the baking time as they can go from pale gold to charred in a matter of minutes.
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These pies freeze really well, just defrost and heat in a warm oven and they should crisp up nicely. Enjoy on their own, with a good dollop of whipped cream, or brandy butter but definitely enjoy them with good company and as much festive cheer as you can muster.


Donal and Me (Part 3 of Julie and Julia)

As described in my post: Working-Mom Problem No.1: Feeding the Hoard this winter I have decided to work through my hoard of cookbooks in an attempt to find new family recipes that I can cook quickly in the evenings that are both delicious and nutritious.

One thing is very clear – the Donal Skehan of 2011’s Kitchen Hero and the Cathy Clarke of 2015 live very different lives. Donal’s book which hopes to bring the cooking back home is not for a family feeder like me, it’s for the people who are hoping to bring the party back home. He has many hip little recipes for nibbles, quaint twists on lunch bites, but I had to combine at least 3 of his suggestions to make an actual meal that would fill an adult from dinner to breakfast the next day – there will be no midnight feasts on my watch.

vodka penne

The first one I took a swing at was the Vodka Penne, and it was delicious. On the negative side there was the unpleasant moment where the vodka was being burnt off and my kitchen smelt like a junior disco, and I had to add chicken because there was no meat, but on the positive side the toddler could feed himself and the adults were very curious as to what the heck I was serving them for dinner, which prompted them to wander into the kitchen which allowed me to assign them tasks, so even that alone gets an extra bonus point. It was a good meal that tasted very nice the next day for lunch and will definitely go into my family favourites list.

I’d give this a score of 8/10.

fish cake

But that was the only ‘meal’ I could find, so I started to combine others. I tried the Zingy Thai Fishcakes with Sofies’s Squashed Potatoes, and my own recipe for Mediterranean vegetables. The potatoes were fine, nothing to write home about, but grand. I added pine nuts to give them a bit of texture. The fish cakes were a whole different ball game – these were a disaster. I could not get them to stick together – I think I should have used two eggs maybe? So I ended up with fish lumps on day 1, and then what looked like minced fish on day 2. A disaster.

lemon spuds


Christmas Crafts Day!



Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas it is easy to lose the sense of fun that should always be around this season. Shopping, food prep, making lists and checking them twice … it can all get a bit overwhelming so sometimes it is nice to take a few hours and sit around doing something relaxing, fun and crafty to get you back in the mood. There is nothing like sitting around with a glue stick, ribbon and glitter to fling you right back to your childhood.


This is also a great way to get make some personalised decorations and cards if you want to add a homemade touch to your Christmas gifting.


Card, various colours
Decorative trim
Gold thread
Glue stick
Double sided sticky tape
Washed jam jars with their lids
Fake snow, the stuff in the can and bags of snow like sparkles
Cheap ornaments (snowmen and wee Christmas trees and the like)


A couple of buddies, preferable one with two beautiful children to help with getting glitter everywhere
Christmas music


If you are going to work with glue and glitter please put down some old newspapers or some plastic sheeting on your table as despite your best efforts the glitter will end up sticking everywhere, this morning I was still brushing it out of my hair post shower.
There are no real instructions here. Get some supplies, all of ours came from a fabric shop, an art & hobby shop and most importantly from a Euro store. Don’t spend too much money on your supplies unless you are a seasoned professional otherwise the fear will get you and you will be so worried about making a mistake that you will stifle all your creative impulses.


This should be fun, browse the internet for suggestions, there are approximately one billion Christmas decorations ideas out there. Be inspired and give things your own twist.


One of our group proved to be a genius at making beautiful cards, the simplest and most effective card she made was as follows:


  1. Cut a sheet of A4 card in half to give you two A5 sheets, fold these to a card shape.
  2. Measure out various coloured ribbons and cut them in graduated sizes so they make a Christmas tree shape when arranged on the card.
  3. When you are happy with the look of your design use the glue stick to secure the ribbons in place.
  4. Add a star or heart or some glitter to the top of your tree and leave to dry. Simple dimple and very pretty.

To make felt ornaments simply cut a cardboard shape and cut your felt to match, glue to the card and then stitch around with gold thread to secure and for a lovely decorative edging. This is meant to look handmade so don’t go mad striving for perfection. Stitch or glue on a loop of gold thread so you can hang your ornament.



For a gorgeous nightlight holder take a clean jam jar, and cut a length of card to fit around the jar. Draw a Christmas scene, gingerbread house, snow and, tree on the inside of the piece of card and then cut around the design , stick the card around the outside of the glass and lightly spray the jar with fake snow or glue and glitter for a sparkly effect. Allow to dry and then pop in your nightlight, The candle light will glow around the silhouette of your design and will be lovely against a dark window.

Another jam jar ornament was made by gluing a Euro store snowman to the inside of the lid of a jar, spraying the inside of the jar with fake snow and filling it with snow like sparkles, twist the lid on to the jar and turn it upside down so it rests on its lid, Decorate the lid with  ribbon and there you have a lovely water free snow globe.
Don’t be precious or worried that your efforts will look stupid, have fun with this. You can’t go far wrong with glue and glitter. The main point of this exercise is to take some time, hang out with friends, family or your kids and have some fun.

Win a Stove worth €799!

What a competition

A Home Made By Committee



Guest Blog: Mark from Heritage Stoves (with a competition!)

As autumn leaves start to fall and the chill of winter looms, it’s time to think about heating our homes. More and more people are turning to multi fuel stoves as a cost-effective heating solution, as they burn inexpensive fuels like smokeless coal, seasoned peat briquettes and eco-friendly dried wood.

Mark Dineen from Heritage Stoves, Irelands leading supplier of Multi Fuel Stoves, has kindly put together some useful tips that ought to be considered when purchasing a stove, and some advice on the best type of stove to suit your needs.

AAAANNND … (drum roll please) …. he brings with him an awesome competition to win a Belleek 11.5kw room heater stove worth €799! How exciting. More details on how you can enter below. But first ….


A Guide to Multi Fuel Stoves


Before you rush…

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