Sunday, July 19, 2015

Parmesan Roasted New Potatoes

It's new potato season and my default setting is steamed with heaps of butter and a bit of salt.  But there's so many other ways to eat these tender tasty beauties. One of my favourites is Hasselback Potatoes which look so impressive but are incredibly simple.  I can't believe I wrote that recipe 5 years ago so it's time to do something a little different.

I was in town (what we call Dublin's city centre) recently and spied some Italian new potatoes in Fallon and Byrne so they had to go into my basket.  Italian potatoes deserved a suitably appropriate recipe so I took advantage of a huge chunk of Parmesan, generously bequeathed to me by Little Sis and created a delicious side dish for Saturday night's dinner.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lemony Limey Loaf

It's been a while since I've baked a cake - work has been a bit hectic, then we were in France on holidays, cleaning up after the renovations (more, so much more to come on that) and then my beloved laptop packed up.  Thankfully the laptop is fixed and I've got my Sunday Baking mojo back once again.  It's been ages since I've made anything citrusy and I had a longing for a loaf cake but with something a bit extra.

This cake is light and luscious because it's full of creme fraiche which makes it really moist - no dry as a desert sponge here - and adding lime to the usual lemon really intensifies the citrus hit.  I've a couple of ideas to use this cake.  Naturally, a large slice with a cup of coffee is the first one, but it could form the base of a grown up Italian style trifle, spiking the sponge with a shot or two of Limoncello liqueur or as a lovely stacked dessert with fresh raspberries and softly whipped vanilla cream.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dinner at Molly's Yard, Belfast

Sometimes, a restaurant is worth a second visit.  Even though it's in a city with loads of brand new, look at me our food is amazing, restaurants that appear on every list of recommendations.  Molly's Yard is that restaurant.  It's nowhere near the usual suspects, tucked away in a corner beside Queen's University in the heart of studentland, but it's somewhere you should plan to visit.  Why?  They've inventive, delicious food and a love of all things gin.  Sometimes they combine the two for sold-out gin tasting menu events which are much sought after.  Lucky people of Belfast.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Calvados Apple Cake with Salted Caramel Mascarpone

Something we're a little bit fond of in the day job is cake.  We pretty much drop everything if there's the rattle of forks and the chance of something sweet to bring a bit of sunshine into our lives.  Doing the Bake Off in work is a great way for everybody to show off their baking talents (or blatantly cheat in some cases - you know who you are) and I have a great time being Queen Judge and very fairly evaluating everybody's entries.  You'd think that would absolve me from having to bake myself, wouldn't you?.

Not a chance.  Especially with my colleague Karen sitting across from me. If she hears the C word, there's an immediate yelp of "cake, cake, CAKE???" and she gets very excited.  When she heard I had bought some apples, I was instructed to go home and make a cake.  With the apples and maybe some salted caramel because she's fond of that too.  How could I resist such an order?  To turn it into a very grown up cake, I marinated the apples in some Calvados and made a mascarpone cream with the last of my salted caramel.  As I'm feeding a crowd, I made a large traybake cake and topped it with the salted caramel mascarpone,but if it was for a smaller crowd, I'd make two 8 inch cakes and sandwich them together with half of the mascarpone and use the rest to decorate the top, with a few swirls of salted caramel for added prettiness.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Taste of Dublin 2015

2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the Taste of Dublin food festival which kicks off in the Iveagh Gardens today.  Sadly, I'll be missing it due to #babaduckenvacances but if you're planning a trip into town, here's my top tips for a great afternoon or evening out.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Week of Food and Drink

Summer is coming and there's loads of food and drink events coming up.  In fact, if you put your mind to it, you could be out gallivanting almost every night...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Just Say Yes

Picture by Karen Kearney

A few weeks ago I was in the car with Lulu to buy her birthday present (more of that later) when we passed the official Yes bus. She looked at me and asked me how I was going to vote in the upcoming Marriage Referendum on Friday. I was a bit taken aback that she even knew there was a vote and turned the tables, asking her how she thought I should vote. Straight away, she said “you have to vote Yes, why on earth would you vote No?”. If a 9 year old girl can grasp the importance of marriage equality, then it’s pretty simple.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Apple Salted Caramel Blondies

Yes, it's another one of my freezer finds.  Last summer, my parents gave me a huge bucket of apples from the trees in their back garden, some of which went into my Hit The Floor cake and I decided to make puree from the remainder which I put into ziplock bags and into the freezer to be used at a later stage.  It's actually getting rather ridiculous because there's apple puree, pear puree, frozen cherries and raspberries, all waiting to make a star appearance in a cake.  We haven't been to France for almost two years so I'm at almost at the very end of my stash of fleur du sel caramel.  I sacrificed some of it for this decadent dessert and it was worth it.  A blondie is a chocolate-less brownie where the gooeyness comes from melted butter and dark brown sugar for lovely toffee flavours.

Monday, April 27, 2015

While The Cat's Away

Myself and the little fluffy dog have been abandoned while The Hubs heads off on his annual Jolly Boys trip.  But we're not sitting on the sofa pining away for him, oh no...  Firstly, I decided to get stuck into a bit of spring cleaning and dust off the power washer to scrub the patio and the drive.  It was exactly like the TV ad as our green and grotty granite slabs were transformed into a pale gleaming vision of beauty.  The same went for the driveway which wasn't looking too pretty after an unexpected application of gunge from a leaky radiator being loaded into the plumber's van.  Once the toil was completed, it was time to think about dinner. Myself and the dog have similar taste in food. We're not vegetarians and we are exceedingly fond of a bit of steak so I decided to create a little French-inspired feast for us to share.  As we're on countdown to our holidays, I'm really getting into the mood!  Apologies in advance for the photos - it was late, we were hungry so hunger won over food styling...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Speculoos Brownies

I have a friend, let's call her Dawn, who absolutely loves those little speculoos biscuits you get with your posh coffee.  When we got samples of speculoos spread in work, she was in seventh heaven and every so often you'd hear a plaintive cry of "get these things away from me".  She didn't really mean it though... A while ago I saw a jar of the spread and bought it with her in mind but then she was in wedding preparation mode and nothing but dust and carrot sticks passed her lips, so the jar stayed in my cupboard.  Until now.  You see, she's now a very happily married pregnant lady and the new cry is "baby wants cake" so I had to oblige! These are very indulgent brownies, made with some exceedingly high quality chocolate, crushed speculoos biscuits and giant dollops of the speculoos
spread on top for added decadence.