Friday, April 11, 2014

Review : Lunch at Pizza e Porchetta

Many years ago, I worked on Grand Canal Quay in a temp job - parking was at a premium and it was a regular occurrence to play chicken with the traffic wardens, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.  There was also nowhere to eat in the area - our sole source of food was a guy who delivered sandwiches at 11am, miss him and you'd go hungry for the afternoon.  Thankfully, the area has a lot more going for it now with the arrival of Ronan Ryan's Pizza e Porchetta at The Malting Tower.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ethan's Minecraft Cake

It's that time of year again - the Handsome Nephew Ethan's birthday and this year, he reached the ripe old age of eleven.  Where has that time gone?  Anyway, with age comes changing tastes in birthday cake requests and this was was an absolute beauty.  Along with his sister and cousin, he's pretty much obsessed with Minecraft and wanted a suitably appropriate cake.  But he didn't tell me this, instead his cousin Lulu mentioned it in passing and then produced a photo of what he had selected.  So, I had to get on with it and create a masterpiece.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review : Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast

A few weeks ago, myself and The Hubs decided to have a mini-mini break and head up to Belfast for a night.  Dinner was duly booked in Howard Street and accommodation was next to cross off the list of things to be arranged.  The lovely people at the Fitzwilliam Hotel were more than happy to help and invited us to spend the night with them.  Despite our bi-annual visits, we had never stayed at the Fitzwilliam before so this was a great opportunity.

Image supplied by The Fitzwilliam Hotel

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Roast Pork with Garlic & Rosemary

There is nothing nicer than the smell of a roast wafting from the oven (sorry vegetarians!).  Something I absolutely adore is a roasted loin of pork, done in the French style with lots of garlic and rosemary.  Actually, I probably should have called this Rôti de Porc à l'ail et au romarin but you know what I'm talking about.  This is a really simple roast dinner that anybody can do, except possibly The Hubs, who has no desire to learn to cook.  Make the most of the oven space by putting the pork on a rack inside the roasting tin and scattering chunks of potato underneath to catch all the garlicky herby juices and become utterly delicious.  A kilo of pork loin will feed 4 hungry people and you might even have a few scraps leftover for sandwiches if you keep the slices thin!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review : Japanese Soul Cooking

Soul Cooking isn't usually a term you associate with Japanese cookery.  In fact if you ask most people what Japanese food is all about, they usually respond with one of two words : fish or sushi.  I was very interested in reading Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Oro & Harris Salat when it landed on my desk and learning more about what defines food from Japan's kitchens and streets.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Review : Howard Street, Belfast

Howard Street is a new kid on the block which already hosts Deanes, just around the corner from the Fitzwilliam Hotel and the Opera House.  Very unassuming from the outside, inside it's big, cavernous and very noisy indeed.  Most definitely not the place for a romantic dinner or to pop the question unless your intended can read lips.   Howard Street is industrial in appearance with exposed pipe work and a long bottle green wall that reminds me a bit of school uniforms.  Tables are simple and wooden, as are the chairs unless you're sitting at one of the green leather banquettes along the wall facing into the room.  The long bar is busy with staff pouring drinks, making coffees and issuing bills.  Peroni is on tap (£4.50) and the house Prosecco is deliciously moreish at £5 per glass.



Thursday, March 13, 2014

Smelling the Coffee

One of my favourite smells is coffee.  Whether walking by a café, sitting in a restaurant or even at my desk while the machine hisses gently in the kitchen, the aroma catches my breath every time.  Despite loving the smell of it, I don't drink a huge amount of coffee and have just one cup of really good coffee in the morning in work.  My love of good coffee doesn't mean that I'm not a fan of convenience and I love coffee capsules as they're no mess, no fuss and give great results every time and they work perfectly in the Nespresso* machines both at home & in work. As soon as I opened the Carte Noire box in work, I was practically mugged (coffee, mug - geddit?) to share the coffee with my colleagues.  The reaction was overwhelmingly positive and my own favourite is No. 7 Aromatique.



Monday, March 10, 2014

Francesca's Lasagne alla Pesto

Lasagne, as we traditionally know it, is a rich and comforting Italian dish with layers of lasagne sheets, bechamel sauce, meat ragu and cheese, baked until it's all bubbling and meaty and fragrant. This recipe came to me via the VBF who works in a big multinational company with colleagues from all over the globe. Her workmate Francesca brought some of this lasagne into work and the poor girl barely got a bite as the rest of them scoffed most of it.  Greedy gannets.



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review : Rosehips on a Kitchen Table

The world has always been full of foragers, whether it's just collecting blackberries in the autumn (from as high up as you can to avoid little doggie spray surprises...) or picking wild garlic in the spring.  Right now, it's the buzzword du jour and terribly fashionable indeed.  It's actually a lot of common sense if you know what you're doing, so leave the mushrooms to the experts and concentrate on finding food that you can eat safely.  Anyway, enough of my sound advice. Rosehips on a Kitchen Table landed on my kitchen table last week and it's all about foraging and growing your own.  It's a very cute book, compact enough to keep on your kitchen counter, but packed with recipes to appeal to all levels of knowledge.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Campari and Grapefruit Cake

One of the first drinks I had in France at the tender age of 16 was Campari.  I loved the ruby red colour but thought it tasted unbelievably bitter (to be fair, it was served with tonic, so what do you expect).  Over the years as my tastebuds have changed, I've come to appreciate the sharpness and sourness and I love it with grapefruit.  Speaking of grapefruit, I bought a few last week and was going to squeeze them for an after-work cocktail but a reminder from Lulu that I've been a bit slow on the cake front changed all that.  I'm making a cake with Campari and Grapefruit.  The tang of the grapefruit zest pairs wonderfully with the astringency of the Campari and the sticky grapefruit syrup poured on top gives the whole cake a lovely sweetness.