Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm...

On Friday, the peeps who got together for the TwizzaParty are assembling once again for a TwookieParty, thanks to the lovely Sarah & Kristin - loads of cookies and biscuits will be baked and I doubt there'll be a pound of butter left in the country afterwards (I must get ground rice tomorrow for one of my recipes).  I'm going to be altruistic and donate a lot of my creations as a dinner party gift on Saturday - nothing says "Thanks for having us" like a box of home-baked cookies...

And with that in mind, I nipped into Avoca Kilmacanogue this afternoon in search of nice packaging or cute things for the TwookieParty.  Avoca is without a doubt, beautifully presented and packaged and full of yummy things but they really are wiping the eye of the denizens of SoCoDu with their prices... €12 for two fishcakes, €4 for a tub of green bean salad and €10 for a tub of risotto.  My poor jaw is bruised from bouncing off the ground at the markup... I can make a VAT of risotto for about €2.50!

Image courtesy of Amazon

Another thing that made me wince and gave me a sad face was finding boxes of the ever-wonderful Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa cake and cookie mixes.  Just under €9 a box to make about 18 chocolate cookies is not playing nice.  Yes, I know it has to be imported from the US and there's loads of taxes and customs charges and whatever, but honest to God, you can make these for very little money and not a whole more effort than opening that box - and I'll prove it when I write up my cookie recipes in coming days. 

I'm not being holier than thou about bought stuff - I am the first one to take shortcuts as and when they suit me - particular favourites being Loyd Grossman Pasta Sauces and Knorr Touch of Taste or Stockpots which are regularly replenished in our house.  And I regularly squander money on frivolities (my mani & pedi in Mink Ballsbridge today being a prime example... although they are coasting on their reputation too based on my two recent visits)

But I'm wondering what you think?  Are packets and mixes worth the extra spend, or should you give it a go and make it yourself... please tell me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Crunchy Garlicky Hasselback Potatoes

It was The Hubs birthday on Friday and not only did I create a monumental cake to celebrate, I also made him a special birthday dinner of his choosing.  He asked for steak, and possibly chips.  So, I bought two gorgeous T-bones from the Butchers Block in Dundrum and Lulu helped me to select the vegetables to go with them - asparagus and tenderstem broccoli.

Now for the spuds.  I wanted to do something a little bit fancier than chips and one of the photos on Donal Skehan's blog had caught my eye - it was an image of a beautifully frazzled potato which looked like a hedgehog.  Further investigation revealed that the recipe was for Hasselback Potatoes and I remembered having these readymade from M&S before - and not liking them at all.  The reason - they used sunflower oil which left a strange aftertaste and I wasn't impressed.

This time, things were different... because I was making them!  Donal just uses butter in his recipe but to be honest I'd use garlic anywhere near potatoes because they're a match made in heaven.  Even the reheated leftovers tasted amazing the next day.  So, how do you make these beauties?  It's so easy - easier than you would think (as proven to my parents by using a metal tablespoon and breadknife yesterday!)

Crunchy Garlicky Hasselback Potatoes

350g Baby Potatoes
40g Butter
1 clove Garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper

Preheat your oven to 200c/Gas Mark 6.

Using a wooden spoon (or the plastic equivalent), place a potato into the spoon & using a very sharp knife, make cuts about 3mm apart.  Using the spoon means that you won't cut through the potato as the well will stop the knife in its tracks...

Place the potatoes in an ovenproof dish and set to one side.


Melt the butter and add the clove of crushed garlic - pour the garlic butter over the potatoes, season with the salt and pepper and roast for about 40 minutes, basting every so often. 

They will be beautifully tender in the middle and the top will separate into little fans when cooked.

When they're ready, there will be a heavenly aroma of garlic in your kitchen - season with some crunchy sea salt and serve immediately.

If by some miracle you have leftovers, they reheat perfectly in the oven! 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Berry Lovely Birthday Cake

Yesterday was a very special day in the Babaduck house.  The Hubs is now just one year off the big 40 (Christ, that means that so am I come September...) and we started the birthday celebrations early by going to see Stevie Wonder at the O2.  Fantastic concert but bloody hell, the food on offer is absolutely pitiful, especially given all the good stuff at the Point Village Market every weekend.  All they sell inside are boxed sandwiches, hotdogs and sweets/crisps/popcorn.  It's not particularly cheap and the quality ain't great either.  What a wasted opportunity...

Anyway, I decided to make The Hubs a special cake to mark the occasion, as well as a gorgeous dinner of his choosing (which will make a separate blog post later!) and thanks to the ever lovely LikeMamUsedToBake, I settled on a version of Jamie Oliver's chocolate sponge which went something like this!

Chocolate Berry Birthday Cake

200g Caster Sugar
200g Butter
3 tbsp Cocoa Powder
4 tbsp boiling Water
3 Large Eggs
200g Self-Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
200ml Whipping Cream
1 punnet each Strawberries & Raspberries
2 tbsp Raspberry Jam

All the ingredients waiting to turn into something magical
Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.  Grease & line two 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tins.
Cream the butter & sugar together until pale and fluffy using either an electric beater or food processor
Dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water, mixing until smooth.  Add this, and the rest of the ingredients to the butter and sugar mix.  Beat until combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins, level out and bake for 25 minutes.  Use a toothpick/skewer to make sure the cakes are cooked.  Leave for 10 minutes to cool in the tin and then turn out onto a wire cooling rack, peeling off the greaseproof paper - you don't want a mouthful of this!!!
Chef's treat... nothing like chocolate cake mix

While the cakes are cooling, prepare your fruit (wash, hull & chop the strawberries and rinse the raspberries) and whip your cream until thick enough to spread.
Spread the jam over the bottom cake, add half of the fruit and cream and then sandwich with the other cake.
Spread the rest of the cream over the top of the cake and decorate with the remaining fruit.
The verdict - The Hubs was blown away...  It's actually very light despite all the cream and butter, and it tasted utterly delicious.  I wonder if he'll return the favour when it's my birthday???

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Salads : Simple Potato Salad

Years ago a former boss (Freak knows EXACTLY who I'm talking about) was very fond of the acronym KISS.  It means Keep It Simple Stupid, and it's how I like my food.  I'm not a huge fan of over tweaked and over fussy food and this salad fits in with my philosophy perfectly - simple, quick and easy.

Simple Potato Salad

750g New Potatoes
3 large Spring Onions, finely sliced
1 handful Mint, finely shredded
3 tbsp Mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender - this takes about 15 minutes.
Drain in a colander & place on a wire rack until cool - cover with a teatowel to avoid any flies in the area (of which there are many at the moment!)

When the potatoes are cool, chop into mouth sized pieces and mix in a bowl with the spring onions and mayonnaise.  Season with the salt and pepper and add the mint.

Chill well for at least an hour before serving.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Easy Peasy Vegetable Gratin

A while back, I bought Jamie Oliver's "Jamie Does..." book.  It's crammed full of gorgeous recipes from all around Europe and I've cooked quite a few of them.  One which I particularly liked was Courgette Gratin, and as the local Aldi was selling twin packs of courgettes for 89c this week, decided to give it another go.
This time, however, I made a few changes, basically to use up some veggies which had to be eaten as they were lingering in the fridge and would soon be past their best.  I would also use these veggies to make Vegetable Kebabs for the BBQ, so this is a different way to enjoy them all.  This serves 4 as a side dish, so just double up if you're feeding a hungry horde!

Vegetable Gratin

1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Onion, finely sliced
2 large Courgettes, thinly sliced
1 Aubergine, thinly sliced
150g Mushrooms, sliced
100g Basmati Rice
250g hot Chicken or Vegetable Stock
2 heaped tbsp Creme Fraiche
80g Emmental or Cheddar cheese, finely grated
Salt & Pepper

Finely slice the onion, and add to a large frying pan with the olive oil.  Cook for about 15 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally until soft & sticky.

Using a large griddle or frying pan, cook the aubergine & courgettes in batches until coloured and soft - these can be done while the onion is cooking (yes I know... two pans, but it's better than crowding everything in the one pan and having it slop all over the hob!)

Add the mushrooms to the onions and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until lovely and soft.

Rinse the basmati rice in a sieve under cold running water until the water runs clear.

Transfer all your cooked veggies to a large pot, add the rinsed rice, the stock (I use one Knorr Stockpot with 250ml water), turn up the heat and cook for 5 minutes on a high simmer.  The mixture should be nice and oozy, so if it starts to dry out, add a little more stock

Remove the pot from the heat, add the creme fraiche and 2/3 of the cheese and stir well.  Season with salt & pepper and taste.  Adjust the seasoning if necessary.  (I used half-fat creme fraiche and Low-Low  Grated Mozzarella & Cheddar to keep it on the semi-healthy side!)

Pour the mixture into a gratin/lasagne dish and top with the remainder of the cheese.

Bake at 190c / 375 F / Gas 5 for about 40 minutes until the top is bubbly, the stock has absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Tonight we're having this with some griddled chicken and salad.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pizza - Round Two

I'd just like to point out that this is all Kristin's fault.  I mentioned earlier on Twitter that I could smell pizza cooking somewhere and the smell was driving me bananas... she piped up that I should make some.  I had already eaten far too much junk this afternoon than was possibly good for me, and had earlier resigned myself to a bowl of homemade carrot & courgette soup for dinner.  But the smell was too good to resist... damn you Kristin for encouraging me (and Sarah too... bold Twitter buddies!).

I found the dough making pretty tough going for our Twizzaparty a few weeks ago and I certainly learned a trick or two, so tonight's effort was trouble-free as a result.  Here's my step by step guide to making pizza - complete with lots of photos... this quantity makes about 4 x 10 inch thin pizzas.

Pizza Dough

500g Strong White Flour
1 x 7g sachet Dried Yeast
1 tsp Salt
1.5 tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Olive Oil
300ml Tepid Water

This is so you know what to look for... every little helps!

Put all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and add the olive oil.  Rub it all together until it's a bit like clumpy breadcrumbs.

Now add 250ml of the water.  Stir the mixture well with a plastic spoon, adding the rest of the water if there's still flour at the bottom of the bowl.  Mix well until the dough starts to form a ball.

At this stage you can tip it out onto a work surface and start kneading it until it turns into smooth elastic dough.  I hate mess, and based on my first experience of scraping dough off my countertop, kneaded it in the bowl with just one hand, leaving one clean paw free to run the tap, answer the phone etc.  Only when it was nice and pliable did I turn it out onto the surface.  Result... very little mess.

Starting to become pliable and mess-free

Now throw it into a clean and lightly oiled large plastic bowl, cover with a clean cloth or oiled cling film & stick somewhere nice and cosy for at least an hour - two is better if you have the time.  During this little snooze, it will puff up to at least double the original size.

All puffed up after a sojourn in the evening sun...

Stick your fist into it a few times to knock the air out of it & tip onto a floured work surface.

A great tension reliever.. beating the crap out of the dough...

Now preheat your oven and a baking sheet/pizza stone to the hottest setting possible for at least 15 minutes.

All ready for dividing

Separate into 4 portions, store the ones you don't need in a lightly oiled ziplock freezer bag & freeze/keep in fridge for a few days until needed.

Well there's one for the oven, three for the fridge...

Get your toppings ready while the oven is heating up so you can turn into a lean, mean, well-oiled assembly machine...

Using a flour-dusted rolling pin and a well floured surface, roll out your dough thinly & place on the scorching hot baking sheet (dust this with a little bit of flour too).

Ready for the toppings

Now add your toppings... do NOT put them on the dough before it goes onto the sheet.  Trust me, this will be an absolute disaster - I can speak from experience here!

This pizza was a quick effort - due to being home alone and a last minute idea, so I used

2 tbsp Jamie Oliver Red Onion & Rosemary Pasta Sauce
1 ball of Low-Fat Mozzarella
Sweetcorn (lots of it)
Cooked sliced Chicken
Thinly sliced Mushrooms
Sliced Cherry Tomatoes

Bake for at least 10 minutes until the middle is cooked through.  Eat quickly.  Share if feeling generous.

Tomato Sauce & Mozzarella in place

Now for some Chicken & Cherry Tomatoes

Time for Sweetcorn & Mushrooms

The finished masterpiece...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Taste of Dublin 2010 - The Highs and Lows

On Saturday afternoon, myself and the Hubs began our journey to Taste of Dublin... car to parents house, walk to DART, DART into town, walk some more and we arrived at the Iveagh Gardens all set for an evening of great food and wonderful drink.

So... I had already voiced my concerns at the prices being charged at Taste of Dublin for food.  I hate that "R" word with a passion, but somebody organising the event needs to catch onto themselves and bring the prices down - 7 florins is a ridiculous sum of money...yes, it's €7, no matter how you dress it up for a single table-tennis ball sized Shrimp & Smoked Haddock Croquette from Chapter One.  The Hubs took one look at it and asked if they were taking the piss!  We spent a substantial amount of our money on the demon drink and goodies to bring home, so only four dishes were sampled.

Rolys - Crispy Duck Wonton
This was a good sized potion absolutely stuffed to the brim with shreds of very succulent and moist duck.  The cucumber & spring onion salad was very fresh but the dish was very salty.

The Cellar - Lamb Kofta Skewers
A huge portion which split neatly into two thanks to some deft forkwork by me.  This was gorgeous, as was the Tzaziki which accompanied it, but again very very salty (can you see a pattern here?)

Venu - Dublin Bay Prawn Scampi with Preserved Lemon Salt
Plenty of juicy crisp scampi in this portion with a beautiful tartare sauce but ruined by far too much salt - we were gasping for something to drink after this... perhaps this was the intention!

I cannot even begin to tell you how peed off I still am about this.  We ordered the last two burgers they had and decided to find somewhere comfy to sit down and eat/drink.  Only one of the burgers actually had any meat in it.  To paraphrase Nan from Catherine Tate "what a fackin' liberty".  Erik & Michelle - where's the beef?

Oi, where's the beef?

So... what was good?

Plenty of stuff actually, despite my moans above.

Beer & potential dinner for The Hubs...

I signed up for the Ballymaloe Cookery School lesson with the lovely Rachel Allen, then raced off to ensure The Hubs was well supplied with beer before I donned my blue apron.  I had been told that they were cooking Portobello Mushrooms which suited me perfectly as I had already done the Chicken Paillard dish 2 years ago.  Whoops... it was the chicken again.  The lovely Emma & Pam very kindly gave me the recipe so I can try it out at home.  We were joined by Derry Clarke who claimed to be publicising his new Master Butcher venture with Michael Bermingham but was actually in need of a refresher course!!  The redoubtable Pamela soon put him in his place & taught him how to make Aioli.  The cheeky sod handed her his mess to clean up... typical man.

Emma & Rachel in action

We made a pitstop at the Superquinn Pavillion where we had a white wine tasting session - we both preferred the French wines, funny that!  The SQ Florentines are yum & we snagged a few boxes to bring home.

After that, I detoured to the Taste of Thailand area where I had a very intensive Thai Massage... that certainly beat away the knots in my neck and we may have had some Chang beer - thirsty work, all this walking.

We eventually wandered down to the main area where I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Catherine Fulvio from Ballyknocken again.  I did one of Catherine's Summer Entertaining courses with Freak a while back and I'm surprised she didn't kick us out with all the giggling we did.  Luckily she doesn't hold a grudge and was ultra-charming.  We also met the other C. Fulvio - her husband Claudio, who was rocking a Panama hat in a most stylish manner, and chatted to him for ages.  He made us promise to visit Sicily sooner rather than later, and we will, we promise!

We also ran into Emer from CraftButchers on the Green Farm Foods stand - our Dads are very good friends so we swapped tales for a while... before moving onto the Tropicana stand, where we feasted on mini smoothies, smoked salmon bagels and blinis.

Then we found the Cocoa Atelier stand - this was just heavenly, with the most divine chocolate creations laid out for sampling.  We came home with a 15 piece box of their chocolates which I'll write about in a separate post as they deserve special treatment!

I had a few Florins burning a hole in my pocket so I hightailed it to the Donnybrook Fair stand where I knew Sheridans Cheesemongers had a counter.  The lovely Elizabeth let me taste a variety of cheeses and we came home with a huge wedge of Milleens which has barely survived 48 hours in our house...

And all too soon, it was chucking-out time so we wandered back to the DART station for the trip home.  We may have been sidetracked into a pub on the way for a mojito and a daiquiri.  Based on my tender head the next morning, I should have kept walking!

So in conclusion... Taste of Dublin needs to sharpen up its act especially on pricing and food quality.  I'm not alone in this opinion, as Robert and Not Junk Food have already written their pieces on Taste of Dublin and we all seem to come to the same end result.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Food Programme

One of my guilty pleasures is The Archers.  Most of my family (and The Hubs) think I'm demented... why would an Irish person want to listen to an old-fashioned BBC radio soap opera?  Well I love it, and I cook Sunday evening dinner while listening to the omnibus episode on my laptop which is perched precariously on the draining rack...

BBC Radio 4 also has one of the best shows ever, The Food Programme.  I love this programme, presented by Sheila Dillon, as it covers so many topics from farmers markets to the slow food movement in Italy.

This week's episode is all about Food Photography - a topic that was covered at the Bord Bia Irish Food Bloggers Day last month by the lovely Erica Ryan and Jocasta Clarke in great detail.  Their talk and demonstration has changed how I take photos of my own dishes, although my aging digital camera doesn't do me many favours...

The BBC iPlayer only lets you listen to the show for 7 days which is very sad, so get your skates on and log onto the website right now!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summery Strawberry Cheesecake

It's National Strawberry Week and the luscious red fruits are appearing everywhere.  Personally I can't get enough of them and would happily sit down with a punnet and eat the whole lot myself.  When I was a kid, Dad used to bring home giant panniers full and, as Mum wasn't a jam maker, they'd be frozen on a baking sheet and packed into plastic bags.  I would then eat them like ice pops, sneaking one when nobody was looking!

I bought some strawberries at the weekend and really wanted some cheesecake (it's the base that gets me... every time!).  I don't have any individual loose-bottomed tins and as there's only 2 of us, making a whole cheesecake is dangerous i.e. we will eat it all, so I compromised and made them in bowls.

Summery Strawberry Cheesecake

7 Digestive Biscuits
25g Butter
1 punnet Strawberries
1/2 tub Philadelphia Extra Light
75ml Cream

Put the biscuits into a ziplock bag & beat the crap out of them with a rolling pin, until they're a smooth rubble (you can use a blender but beating things up is far more fun).

Melt the butter in a small pot, add the crushed biscuits and mix well.  Place into the base of two bowls and chill.

Mix the Philadelphia and cream using an electric beater, until well combined & thick,

Wash and hull the strawberries, reserving 4 for garnish.  Puree the remainder (I used a stick blender) and fold into the cheese.

Pour over the biscuit base and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Top with the reserved strawberries and serve.

Side view of the cheesecake

I used the last few drops of the puree on top... waste not, want not!

The finished dessert

Thursday, June 10, 2010

All Aboard The Pineapple (Ice Cream) Express

Some of us Irish Foodies on Twitter have been yearning for an ice cream maker in recent weeks - Aldi & Lidl have had them on sale for under €30 and because I have a huge shed with loads of storage space, I can stash one of these away.  I mentioned it to The Hubs and he was ever so enthusiastic... a touch of the Homer Simpsons going on with the mmmmmmm's.  So I wandered into Aldi yesterday to see if there were any left and lucky old me walked out with a box under my arm. 

Naturally when I get something new, I want to play with it immediately so I decided to use up some fresh pineapple I had bought over the weekend that was becoming a touch tired and world weary.  As this was Attempt The First, I wanted to keep things simple and decided to be very lazy and use a readymade custard as the base.  Damn.  I had used all the supplies when I made Like Mam Used To Bake's gorgeous Rhubarb Fool with Custard Crunch and not replaced it, so another trip to the shops was in order.  I grabbed two tubs of Bird's Low Fat Custard (every little helps...) and headed home to retrieve the bowl from the chest freezer where it had chilled down overnight.  The instructions recommend at least an 8 hour stay in the freezer in an upright position by the way (just to prove I did actually read the instructions!).

The new ice cream maker starting to churn

I mentioned to The Dad over the phone that I had made this concoction and he was impressed/jealous in equal measure.   Apparently Handsome Man will do his nut when he finds out, as pineapple is his favourite fruit, so I have been instructed to prepare a batch and have it ready for The Dad's return from holiday in 2 weeks time... praise indeed!

Pineapple Express Ice Cream

2 x 290g pots of readymade Custard - about 600ml in total
1 large Pineapple, peeled, cored and roughly pureed
2 tbsp Salted Caramel (optional)

Mix the ingredients together & place in the ice cream maker.
Churn according to the instructions - mine took 30 mins to reduce to slushy yumminess
Transfer to clean freezer container and freeze for at least 3 hours.


The semi-frozen icecream in the bowl

The finished icecream in handy recyclable container!

I have a funny feeling that this will be the first of many posts about me & the ice cream maker.  Fruits of the Forest is next on my list...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grub on the Gogglebox

When I was a kid, there was very little evidence of food on TV - Delia Smith was about as good as it got.  Fanny Craddock was, quite frankly, terrifying and our family was posh enough to possess a set of Robert Carrier cookery cards (complete with white plastic holder!) which were hauled out for my parent's dinner parties.  We even had a Hostess Trolley which was used for these occasions and muggins here was bribed to wash up those gargantuan glass serving dishes.  The dessert speciality was Ginger Log - nothing more fancy than a packet of Ginger Nuts, a lot of sherry, a vat of whipped cream and a couple of Flakes.  It was the height of sophistication back in the early '80's but you'd probably pass out now if presented with this stodgy goo!!!

Image copyright Daily Mail

Thankfully things have changed and we've gone from famine to feast.  I love cookery and food programmes, and The Hubs nearly cried on the day that Food Network started on Sky... he knew I'd be obsessed and he was right!  I have a huge love of Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa.  She is casual but precise and has a lovely manner when explaining how to cook dishes.  I would KILL for her house and especially her kitchen and all her equipment - it's top of my Lotto Wish List.

The much maligned Jamie Oliver is also top of my viewing list.  He's done so much to revolutionise how people think about food and his recent Food Revolution show was both frightening and inspiring.  It's crazy that some people in the US consider chips/fries as a healthy vegetable.  Holy Mother of God.  I have most of his books and I love his recipes.

I've just finished watching Masterchef New Zealand, something I originally obtained for my friend Chris who is married to a Kiwi and I reckoned they'd love it as a reminder of home for him.  Then I started to watch it - utterly addictive and the finale was so pressurised for the final two contestants.  The poor sods were put through 4 different challenges... I don't know how they did it!

Another firm favourite in our house is the homegrown The Restaurant.  Tom Doorley would have you believe that we watch it strictly because of himself & Paolo Tullio, but that's a lie!  We love the innate snobbery of all the public diners who claim to know everything about food but just make eejits out of themselves with their comments!!

So that's just a very small sample of my TV food guilty pleasures - I'd love to hear about yours...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Griddled Balsamic Chicken

A few years ago at Taste of Dublin, I was lucky enough to get a place on the Ballymaloe Cookery School class, led by the lovely Darina Allen and her inimitable assistant Pam.  There, I learned to make mayonnaise from scratch and how to butterfly a chicken breast to perfection.  This is a great method to cook a piece of chicken very quickly especially if you have a griddle pan (like my new one from Ikea!)

This time around, I decided to make a Balsamic & Garlic marinade for the chicken pre-griddle and it was a huge success.

Griddled Balsamic Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts
2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 tbsp Lemon Juice (fresh or out of a bottle if you're really stuck...)
Salt & Pepper

Trim your chicken very well, removing any sinew, fat or tendons in the fillet and mini-fillet. 
Place your chicken on a chopping board, and using a very sharp knife, slice the chicken breast along the length, cutting the fillet in two, but leaving a join.  Open it out, using the knife gently, until it is evenly split & there's no large lump of chicken at the back (when you do this, you'll realise exactly what I mean!).

Mix the rest of your ingredients, pour over the chicken and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes.

Heat your griddle pan until smoking hot, then add your butterflied chicken breasts.  Cook on each side for approx. 3-4 minutes

Serve it with a big salad and, if you used real lemon, some lemon wedges to squeeze over the chicken.  This also works really well on a barbecue and makes a chicken breast look very impressive indeed!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Taste of Dublin - the Anticipation...

Next Saturday evening, myself & The Hubs are off to Taste of Dublin (again) for our annual works night out.  Well, it's an excuse to eat lots, drink a fair bit and be very merry.  We missed the first one because we were in London for himself's birthday but we've been to every one since... in fact last year, I navigated the hills and slopes of the Iveagh Gardens on crutches - it was a week after knee surgery and the crutches were very handy for shooing people out of my way.  I also employed this technique the following night at Take That to great effect... whacked ankles for everybody!

One of my friends has an automatic response when she hears the phrase Taste of Dublin - oh that's Baba's day out, as she mentioned to me last night.  We went to see SATC2 in Dundrum and had dinner beforehand at Siam Thai.  It was lovely - although still can't compete with the superb Vine in Wexford - but there were a few hiccups.  The wine we chose was not available and the cute hoor waiter offered another (more expensive) bottle which actually wasn't as nice, so we changed to a lovely Chenin Blanc which was perfect.  I only had a few sips because I was driving, but Ms. Fishy & Monkers drained the bottle quite happily!  Another little hiccup was the presence of a long and lustrous eyelash on top of our bowl of rice.  Nice.  Thankfully a quick word ensured replacement and the rice was removed from our bill.

SATC2 was much better than I had expected, although it's a sign of age when we were lusting after the wallpaper & furniture rather than the clothes (jesus, some of them were hideous!) and the cast could benefit from some soft focus lenses and a bit of face filler.. they're fierce gaunt.  No fear of that happening to me!!!  Another thing was the lack of food in the film - I think I only saw SJP eat twice in the film, although there were plenty of references to takeouts and restaurants... what a shame!

Anyway, back to the topic of the day - Taste of Dublin.  The Hubs has gone off to work, the house is spotless and I'm listening to the Ray D'Arcy Show live from the Cat Laughs rather than watching my beloved Saturday Kitchen.  So that means I can pootle around on the laptop - i.e. read the Taste section of the Irish Times magazine and delve into the various restaurant offerings at Taste of Dublin next week.  We've found them to be a bit hit and miss in the past - some are exquisite and others aren't worth the little cup they're served in.  Also, the prices haven't shrunk at all despite the nasty "R" word - a lot of dishes are priced at 8 florins for a teeny weeny portion.  As we tend to try one of everything, some of the dishes amount to barely a mouthful each and that's not value for money.

What I am looking forward to though is...

Dylan - Braised Shoulder of Connemara Lamb with Confit Garlic Mashed Potato - 8 Florins
Ely - ely Organic Burren Beef Burger with Plum Tomato & Shallot Marmalade - 7 Florins
The Cellar - Lamb Kofta Skewers, Tomato Mint & Shallot with Tsatsiki - 7 Florins
Town Bar & Grill - Town Cannelloni with Beef, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Tomato Pesto - 7 Florins
Wilde - Crab & Prawn Cocktail with a Lime & Mascarpone Cocktail Sauce - 6 Florins
Balzac - Raspberry & Honeycomb Pannacotta - 6 Florins
Chapter One - Clotted Cream Mousse with Raspberries & Chocolate Macaroon - 7 Florins