Saturday, April 30, 2011

Iles Flottante with Roasted Rhubarb

Just because it's Easter, it doesn't mean that all the eggs you eat have to be painted or made of chocolate...  Iles Flottante is a classic French dessert made up of poached meringues, a creme anglaise (thin custard) sauce and a drizzle of caramel over the top.  It's very light, sweet and delicious and it's a dessert I'll always order if I see it on a menu.  The process sounds really scary, but if you can poach an egg, you can make this.

Seeing as the first rhubarb is in the shops now, I decided to cut the sweetness of the meringue with some rhubarb roasted in the oven with some orange juice & vanilla.  This is a chop, pour & bake dish, so absolutely no technical skill required beyond turning on an oven.

I had some cartons of Creme Anglaise in the SuperShed from my last visit to France, so I opened one & used this rather than make it from scratch - very lazy I know, but I've already defrosted the freezer, made 36 Chocolate Banana Cupcakes, Marinara Sauce & Pizza Dough for tonight, so I think I can take a few shortcuts!!!

Speedy Tortizzas

When you're pushed for time, it seems easier to pick up the phone & call for a takeaway.  But it's not.  You know it will take a smidge under 30 minutes to arrive and the pizza will be soggy when you lift the lid.  This recipe gives you a thin & delicious snack in 10 minutes flat. The trick is to use tortilla wraps as a base for a very thin pizza.  I invariably open a packet of 6, use 3 or 4 and the last few linger in the cupboard, or if I'm particularly organised, get put into the freezer.  This means they dry out & are utterly useless for soft sandwich wraps, but they are perfect for Tortizzas.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heineken Cup Hog Roast

So, Brian is missing Catherine & William's wedding on Friday because Leinster are playing Toulouse in the Semi-Finals of the Heineken Cup in Dublin but Amy's going alone to mingle with royalty - the lucky girl!  A little birdie tells me that Amy will be wearing a Louise Kennedy creation in Westminster Abbey...

If you're going to the match to shout your support for Leinster (oh I'm jealous) or are in the Ballsbridge area on Saturday, Roast Restaurant (above Crowes Pub) plans to feed the fans by holding a traditional Hog Roast to celebrate the match in the Aviva.  They're also doing a fantastic pocket-friendly deal with a choice of main course & a soft drink for just €10... that should keep even the hungriest of rugby fans satisfied.

Roast is at 10 Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 (above Crowe's Pub) & you can have a look at their many menus at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Asian Marinaded Pork Fillet

We've had such lovely weather over the past week, that most people have dragged out the barbeques from the shed to fire them up for outdoor dinners.  Luckily I had the sense to clean our barbeque last autumn before we put it away in the SuperShed for the winter, so I didn't face a grotty, greasy, cobwebbed horror unlike half of my friends.  I'm a bit hyper about keeping it clean so I line the base of my gas barbeque with tinfoil before I use it (I do the same to my grillpan & roasting tray) so it can be cleaned really easily.

Anyway, enough of my obsessional cleaning quirks - I wanted to grill some pork fillet on the BBQ and thought I'd make a sweet and sticky Asian Marinade to keep it moist during cooking.  Most people would only ever stuff and bake pork fillet because it's perceived as being very dry due to the lack of fat.  Well I can guarantee that this pork was really juicy and tender - myself & The Hubs were really surprised with the result and therefore there were no leftovers for today's lunch... whoops!

I keep old screwtop pasta sauce jars to make marinades - it's very easy to throw all the ingredients into the jar, shake it up & then pour over your meat.  I trimmed the pork fillet & then sliced it into 2cm thick slices - any thinner and the meat will dry out.  Marinade the meat for at least 2 hours before cooking as you want those flavours to really penetrate and make a difference.

Possibly... The Best Carrot Cake Ever

This is not my opinion, but that of a work colleague.  He loves his carrot cake & was very vocal in his praise of my most recent baking offering.  That's praise indeed as far as I'm concerned!  This cake works really well as either a classic two layer 9-inch round cake or a large traybake and is very moist - no crumbly dry cake here.  I don't like dried fruit in Carrot Cake, so I didn't use any.  If you are partial to some plump sultanas, feel free to throw some into the mix.  I made a very thin lemon cream cheese icing for the top because I wanted the cake to be the star of the show, but I know this would be fantastic with a really thick buttercream or cream cheese frosting piped onto the top.

This is also an all-in-one method, so you've only one bowl to wash up afterwards - always a bonus!

Friday, April 22, 2011

I'm Crackers About CrackBird

A few months ago, Joe Macken of Jo'Burger fame decided to open a pop-up restaurant in Temple Bar.  Armed with €15,000 from a credit card, he leased a premises, fitted it out on a (chicken) wing & a prayer and decided to sell chicken, nothing but chicken.  And in a stroke of marketing genius, he offered free meals in the restaurant to some very lucky Twitter followers - known as TweetSeats.

People, I was one of the chosen ones.  And this is my story...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cooking Doesn't Get Tougher Than This...

MasterChef has come a long way from it's original UK roots, with the US, Australia & New Zealand (my personal favourite) giving the show a local edge.  John & Gregg have transformed into Gordon Ramsay, Ross Burden & Matt Preston amongst others.  There's been Celebrity, Junior, Professional and Large spinoffs too - most of which I've watched.

Now MasterChef has made the biggest leap of all - across the Irish Sea.  The Irish version will be hosted by Nick Munier of Pichet fame (and already a reality TV star) and Dylan McGrath formerly of Mint & now Rustic Stone (also a reality TV star...).  These two hardcore culinary chaps will be slurping, sniffing & perhaps even spitting out the best and the worst offerings by the contestants through the show.

The search is now on to find Ireland's first ever MasterChef champion.  Are you up to the task?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Vodka Penne - Inspired by La Cucina & the Kitchen Hero

On Monday, I was invited to a lovely afternoon tea in the Westbury Hotel by fellow food blogger & now TV celebrity and author of not one but two cookbooks, Mr. Donal Skehan.  Donal's newest book, Kitchen Hero has just been launched - and there's a TV series to accompany the book, coming to our screens very soon.  The Westbury have just launched the Kitchen Hero's Tasty Tea, featuring some of the delicious food from Donal's latest book which was served to us on the daintiest cake stands by some of the friendliest staff I've ever encountered.  It's €40 per person but it does include your very own copy of Kitchen Hero - a fantastic offer.

The Kitchen Hero Tasty Tea

One of the recipes in Kitchen Hero actually came from the lovely Lorraine (@italianfoodie) - the beauty behind La Cucina in Limerick. Aided & abetted by the handsome Bruno (@mritalianfoodie), they produce stunning Italian dishes at their award-winning restaurant in Castletroy.  It's fast, simple and utterly divine - perfect for a speedy supper during the week and I guarantee that you'll make this again and again.  Halfway through his plate of pasta, The Hubs turned to me & said that he'd quite happily eat double portions.  Praise indeed! My quantities feed two hungry people, so simply double, triple or quadruple to feed a crowd.  By the  way, I changed the ingredients slightly to suit our palate - more pancetta, some shallots, sundried tomato puree & I didn't add any salt.  To be honest, I don't think it needs any additional salt because of the pancetta & parmesan.  Taste it when you make it & decide for yourself.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chocalong : Gianduja Brownies

I knew that I wouldn't get away with just the Chocolate Infused Vodka for the Irish Foodies Chocalong, so I decided to gild a classic decadent brownie with a really easy, but delicious Gianduja topping.  Gianduja sounds very posh, but it's just a mixture of chocolate & hazelnut - in this case, Nutella, chopped roasted hazelnuts & some lovely dark 70% chocolate.

This recipe easily makes 24 brownies, so if you don't have a giant brownie pan, use two loose-bottomed deep cake tins.  Although this mixture doesn't contain any raising agents like baking powder or bicarbonate of soda, it definitely rises in the oven, so don't take a shortcut & use a shallow tin - you'll only spend the next few hours cleaning brownie mix out of the oven & swearing loudly...

By the way, if you don't like hazelnuts, don't stress.  The unadorned brownie is stunningly moist, squidgy & delicious when it's naked.  I'm just pimping my brownie...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocalong : Chocolate Infused Vodka

It's the first Friday of the month & that means Cookalong for us Irish Foodies.  Technically my first dish doesn't involve cooking, but it does use a grater & weighing scales, so as far as I'm concerned, this recipe counts.  Anyway, it's full of chocolate and some lovely alcohol, so will make a very delicious cocktail when it has infused to within an inch of it's life.

This recipe requires the hard stuff - 100% cocoa & for this, I snagged a chunk of Willie's Supreme Cacao Indonesian Black Cacao.  If you're looking to buy it, I know it's available in the Foodhall in Harvey Nichols, Dundrum, and also in Avoca.

This isn't eating chocolate by any means, although it smells sweet and fragrant like lovely 70%, it's drier and tarter than sucking on a lemon.  Actually, I'd bet that my brother would give a chunk of this to my niece & nephew just to see the look on their faces - he's charming that way...

Take Two Ingredients...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Pint of the Black Stuff (but it's not what you think...)

The phrase "a pint of the black stuff" usually conjures up an image of a cold, creamy pint of stout.  Not this time... it's all about black pudding - and no ordinary black pudding.  

Sean Kelly of Kellys Butchers in Newport, Co. Mayo has created the ultimate fusion food... a black pudding in the shape of a pint!  This creation was awarded a gold medal by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goute-Boudin (The Black Pudding Fraternity of Lovers of Good Food) and that's praise indeed!

If you're wondering what Kelly's regular puddings look like, this should help you to identify them...

Mothers Day Macarons

Firstly, Happy Mothers Day to my lovely mum who gave me a love of food - she endured the many burnt offerings I produced in my Home Economics classes in school and didn't murder me when I broke one of her precious Pyrex dishes.  Mum, you're a legend & I salute you!!! Unfortunately Mum has Type 2 diabetes, so rarely gets to sample my sweet treats although she does have a weakness for Pear Gingerbread on the sly...

Last autumn, when we were on holidays in France, I bought a gorgeous Macaron kit which came with a recipe book, a piping bag & nozzles.  I soon discovered that the bag was less than useless, but the macaron recipe was superb - I was initially put off by the 15 steps required, but after a dreadful experience with a supposedly foolproof recipe, I gave it a go.  The results were outstandingly gorgeous and very delicious too.  I used food colouring pastes to get the lurid orange & green colours (it was my first time using them and I can confirm that less is more!!!).  I also used some of my Boyajian citrus oils for the orange macarons & the oil did alter the consistency so I'd recommend using an extract instead.  I also use Two Chicks Egg Whites for macarons & meringues as you need so much egg white and unless you've a recipe lined up to use the yolks, they tend to get thrown away, which is a criminal waste... the egg white carton is far more economical.  This makes about 60 macaron shells

Mint Chocolate, Chocolate Orange & Vanilla Macarons