Barmbrack is a traditional Irish fruit cake, which I used to get in my school lunchbox around Halloween every year. Traditionally, a ring is baked into the cake, and there would be great excitement every year as to who would get the slice with the ring in it. I always like to think it was Barmbrack that inspired the writers of Father Ted to come up with the episode where Mrs. Doyle bakes a jumper into a cake! This recipe makes a really beautiful, moist loaf, packed with flavour from the mixed spice and dried fruit, which has sat overnight in cold tea and whiskey to soak up all the goodness.
One of my favourite quick-fix suppers, this is full of fresh flavours and has a nice hum of heat from the chilli flakes. Gnocchi is easy to make yourself, but you can now pick up packets of the fresh variety in most supermarkets. If you happen to have fresh peas growing in your garden, feel free to use them instead of frozen.
On a recent visit to New York City, I tried the meatloaf in Kitchenette, a cool retro diner, and have been craving it ever since, which was why this recipe was born. It's true, unashamed comfort food and should be celebrated for being just that. You can make one big meatloaf and serve it in slices or I sometimes like to make mini ones and serve each sitting proudly on top of the spicy bean stew.