Sunday, December 30, 2012

WINNER : £50 Amazon Voucher from Palmers Department Stores

** CONGRATULATIONS MELLYSOCKS **

Christmas is over and it's almost time to hop back onto the bandwagon of virtuousness and start making a whole list of worthy resolutions which you'll break within 10 days.  No, just me then?  Yikes.  


As it's still technically the season of goodwill, the lovely people at 
Palmers Department Stores want to give one of you lucky readers a whopping £50 worth of Amazon vouchers. I said yes because a) we all need a treat after Christmas and b) I’m always up for a giveaway.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What We're Eating This Christmas

This post started off oh so very innocuously.  This morning, I did a phone interview with Fiona Dillon who has a morning show on Radio Kilkenny talking about what we (i.e. me and The Hubs) were eating for Christmas.  I had to tone it down a bit otherwise people would think I was a right lush...

Image courtesy of The Paperless Post

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Godspeed

Today, something appalling and unbelievable happened.  A young man entered an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and made a decision to murder twenty little children and eight adults with a rifle and handguns.  These children were babies.  Chances are that they had all written their letters to Santa and it's very likely that most of them were yet to give their first baby tooth to the tooth fairy.  But a young man, barely out of his teens, made a decision that would have catastrophic effects on their families, their friends and the community, even the world at large.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Review : Daylesford Gentleman's Hamper from Harrods

The Hubs' granny, god rest her, was a lady with very high standards.  She insisted on the finest of everything from her furbelows to her fripperies and everything was bought to last.  She also loved the good things in life and I know she would have been most impressed by the Christmas hamper which Harrods sent me to review. It arrived in a huge cardboard box with the famous Harrods logo and weighed an absolute tonne as I tottered to my car hoping that some kind gentlemen would stop and help me.  They didn't and I now have biceps of steel.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ginger and Lime Christmas Cake

I'll tell you a little secret.  I can't stand fruit cake, or marzipan too for that matter. The only part of a traditional Christmas Cake I ever liked was the rock hard royal icing which lacerated your palate and was oh so sweet.  Fondant icing is something you see more and more as a finishing touch to fruit cakes and it's something I really like to work with because it is easy to roll out (even easier if you use ready rolled icing sheets) and it makes everything look really Christmassy like my Snowflake Cake or the incredibly easy Spiced Snowflake Cookies

This cake is a delicate Madeira sponge spiked with lime zest and ground ginger masquerading as a traditional iced cake.  It's nice to have something slightly different as a teatime treat and you would definitely enjoy this with a cup of coffee on Christmas night when you want something sweet but not too heavy. The cake in the photos vanished very rapidly in work after photography was completed... which is the highest form of praise.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

WINNER : Cheeseboard from Slated

It's competition time once again for you lucky people.  The very lovely Tara Hammond from Slated is celebrating her birthday and has given me a beautiful cheeseboard from her handcrafted slate collection to give to one very lucky reader (Ireland and UK only).  Let me tell you a bit about Slated...

Slated create beautiful, refined stone tableware. A modern and contemporary utilization of the incredibly durable and naturally beautiful slate stone, each piece is meticulously handcrafted by the Hammond family, master Slaters for many generations. All of the Slated pieces are hand cut with traditional artisan techniques to enhance the originality and natural elegance of the collection. Slated is an Irish family owned and run business, based in South Co. Dublin and a member of the Craft Council of Ireland.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ten Minute Tips : Freezing Herbs

There is nothing worse than deciding to make something delicious and realising halfway through that the herbs you bought the week before are in a festering puddle at the bottom of the fridge, or those carefully tended pots on your windowsill are drier than the Sahara desert.  Christmas is a time when you need herbs for absolutely everything : stuffing, turkey, sauces and gravies, the list is endless...  Fear not, I have a quick and incredibly easy way to make sure you have enough herbs to see you over the holidays and for months afterwards.  You can freeze them.  Trust me, I've been doing this for years.
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Review : Eat Like An Italian by Catherine Fulvio

Open it and it gently whispers Italian elegance from the beautiful graphics to the charming fonts.  This isn't a brashy, loud "look at me and my wonderful life" cookery book.  Eat Like An Italian is another of Catherine Fulvio's journeys through her adopted homeland.  Married to the panama hat wearing Claudio, with two adorable children, Catherine has warmly embraced her Italian famiglia and is genuinely passionate about food, life and family in Italy.  This book tells a story about how Italian people eat.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Dinner Pies

It's that time of year again, when I can say the word "Christmas" without being shouted at for trying to drag out the festive season.  It's a lovely time of year when people seem to smile more, be a little more patient and take the opportunity to eat as much as they can in a demented fashion.  To look at people's shopping trollies in the run up to Christmas Day, you would swear that we were going to run out of food and the shops were never going to reopen.  Let's be honest, would we usually eat 20 tubes of crisps over a three-day period at any other time of year?  Supermarkets actually only close on December 25th and 26th and most other shops just close for Christmas Day.  With The Hubs working in retail, Christmas Day is his only day off over the festive season, a fact which fills me with rage every single year, despite it having been the same annually since I met him 15 years ago.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Alicia's Rainbow Birthday Cake

It's become quite the tradition in our family that I make a birthday cake for each of the Childerbeasts.  Ethan had his Big Blue Cake, Lulu had a red cake with purple icing and now it was the turn of Miss Alicia who reaches the ripe old age of eight tomorrow.  She's pretty demanding if truth be told, and a bit of a demon baker herself, so I knew a big task was in store for me.  She decided that she wanted a rainbow cake and I was the person to make it for her.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spiced Pear Cookies

I tend to pick up new and interesting food items when I'm on my travels.  I store them away in the SuperShed and after a while, they pop back into my mind and I am consumed with the need to use them in a recipe.  And so this cookie idea was born...  The dried pears came from a trip to Sainsburys where I also bought dried apples (but that's another recipe) and I was very lucky to find rock sugar when we were on holidays in France.  The poor Hubs thought I had hurt myself pushing the trolley, such was the squeal I made when I spied it in the baking aisle.  Yes, you are right, I am easily pleased!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beef Bonds - The Perfect Christmas Gift

Last week I was chatting to Pat Whelan, who is one of Ireland's most renowned butchers with stores in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary and Avoca Foodhall in Monkstown, Co. Dublin.  He's always looking for new and innovative ideas to promote meat and he's come up with an absolute beauty for Christmas (here comes the science bit...).

Pat Whelan launching his Beef Bonds today

Pat has launched what he claims are the world’s first ‘Beef Bonds’, giving investors an alternative to financial markets.  The Beef Bond is a boxed certificate giving a share in one of Whelan’s Angus, Hereford or Wagyu/Kobe cattle. Each bond displays the ID number, breed and expected maturity of the animal it is linked to.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Citrus Greek Yoghurt Cake

Sundays can be so long and miserable in wintertime.  The weekend is almost over and you're either tired and emotional from the night before or have a fit of the Sunday blues fretting about the week ahead.  For me, Sunday is my baking day. Chances are that The Hubs is working so I have the house to myself and can clatter around knee deep in tins, scales and flour to my heart's content.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Petrifying Puff Pastries

It's not just about apples and nuts - Halloween, that is.  Actually, if you dared to give any child who calls to your door either of those for their swag bag, they would give you a pitying look and move onto your neighbour pretty sharpish.  For kids these days, it's all about the sweets or even money if they're lucky.  Rather than pander to their every whim, you can create a really simple dessert with just a few ingredients and make it look really special.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

The first notes filled the air and everybody took a deep breath.  This wasn't a scene from The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy sings to Toto about a better place far far away.  We were in a crowded church saying goodbye to my cousin Ciara who died on Tuesday 3rd October.  I said my own personal goodbye to her a week earlier in hospital and told her I loved her millions and billions, amongst other things.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Parmesan and Thyme Crusted Pork

Picture this.  It's damp and miserable outside and you've spent an hour in rush-hour traffic after a busy day in work and you're starving.  The easy thing would be to reach for the phone and call a takeaway, right?  Wrong.  So wrong.  You can make this fantastic dinner in 15 minutes flat and be sitting down in front of the tellybox watching Corrie long before a takeaway arrives.  You'll probably have most of the ingredients already - breadcrumbs can be kept in the freezer so you always have them on hand.  The herbs come from a pot on my windowsill, cheese and eggs are usually in the fridge and the pork chops were lurking guiltily in the freezer looking for a good home.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

WINNERS Competition : WIN Martin & Paul's Surf 'n Turf

Listen up food lovers.  Hopefully by now you've recovered from the shock of seeing Martin & Paul's "Dip in the Nip" at the end of their TV series on RTE.  I'm still in counselling to be honest, but The Mammy enjoyed it tremendously...

With that in mind, Quadrille have given me not just one, but TWO copies of Martin & Paul's Surf 'n Turf.  I got my hands on a copy a few months ago and you can read what I thought about it here.   You might want to read it carefully, because the answer to the competition question is there.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review : Have You Eaten?

Masterchef is the one show on television that will make me down tools, stick the phone on silent and basically hide away on the sofa for an hour.  I especially love the versions from Down Under because they totally revolutionised the tired old format and made the show even more exciting.  This is where Billy Law comes in. You see, Billy was one of the contestants on Season 3 of Masterchef Australia where he may not have won but he has written the most exquisite cookbook entitled "Have You Eaten?".  This is a very Irish saying which Mammies all over the country utter as soon as they hear your key in the lock, but Billy is Malaysian and apparently Malaysian Mammies are very like Irish Mammies and like to feed you.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Oops, We Did It Again

Eight years ago today, we got married.  It was truly the happiest day of my life standing in a teeny tiny church in the middle of Wicklow, completely surrounded by family and friends telling The Hubs that I loved him forever and a day.  We got married after seven years together and it seemed fitting that we mark our seventh wedding anniversary with something equally memorable.  I had been stashing money away on the sly for a couple of years for a special occasion and now was the time to break open the piggybank and spend it on a holiday to remember.  The destination had to be the US - it's where we spent our honeymoon and we have incredibly happy memories of walking around Central Park with Bob, the oldest tour guide in the world, sitting on the beach in Cape Cod covered in SPF 50 while the locals huddled up in jackets and scarves, and getting soaked on the Duck Tour in Boston.  We didn't want to replicate this trip - we wanted to make some new memories.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Roast Herby Lemony Chicken with Sticky Gnocchi

When I first met the man who became The Hubs over a decade and a half ago, he had a nickname bestowed on him by his charming friends.  He was known as Bobby.  Why?  Because his favourite food was chicken and King of The Hill was a huge hit at the time.  Fifteen years on and some things never change.  The Hubs still loves chicken nearly as much as he loves me and I know that if I say I'm roasting a chicken for Sunday dinner, then his eyes light up and he looks forward to coming home.  Hang on, he should always look forward to coming home!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Salted Caramel & Apple Cake

I have just returned from France where I stockpile my precious jars of local Fleur du Sel Caramel, or Salted Caramel as it's known here (6 jars, this time...).  It's become a cult ingredient of late, beloved of celeb chefs like Nigella who was photographed dripping in the stuff - I'd hate to try to wash that out of my hair... or turned into decadent martinis in one of my favourite restaurants, The Tannery. Me, I just love the stuff.  It has a grown up edge compared to standard sugary caramel and I've made it into all sorts of dishes from homemade icecream to very grown up desserts.  Listen, just give me a spoon and I'm in my happy place.  As the weather is changing, it's time to make an autumnal cake.  This traybake is warmed up with a healthy hit of cinnamon which melds beautifully with the sweet apple and salted caramel to make a sticky decadent cake.  You can fancy it up by turning it into a sponge (use 2 x 8 inch cake tins and sandwich together with a cloud of Calvados whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel) or bake it in a loaf tin for afternoon tea.  I made my cake in a 9-inch square tin, lined with baking parchment for easy removal.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review : A Month In Marrakesh

Let's call this an early birthday present... I was sent a copy of a gorgeous new book to review and tell you about.  A Month in Marrakesh is written by Andy Harris and it's a celebration of the wonderful tastes and cultural diversity of the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review : Eden Bar & Grill

I've been to the original Eden in Temple Bar a few times and while the food is lovely, the service has been haphazard at times.  So I was hoping that things would be better at the newest branch, Eden Bar & Grill on South William Street in Dublin 2.  I was having lunch with three friends, the Bon Viveur, the Country Girl and the City Chick and it was their first lunch service so we expected great things. It turned out to be a bit of a curate's egg experience - good in parts, but a bit of a letdown in others.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Review : Bella Napoli, Clonakilty

A few weeks ago, myself and The Hubs had a wonderful break in West Cork at Inchydoney which is located just outside Clonakilty.  We decided to venture into the town on Friday night for dinner and drinks, and as we were new to the area, we asked our very friendly taxi driver Richard where he would recommend.  He gave us a short list of options and mentioned that his favourite restaurant Bella Napoli was sadly still closed due to the floods which devasted the town a few weeks previously.  Not so, we were delighted to find that Bella Napoli had just reopened that very evening, albeit with a limited menu.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tropical Coconut Banana Muffins

I was going through a waste not, want not day at home - there was a small bunch of browning bananas in the fruit basket that needed to be used or binned, together with half a bag of dessicated coconut from a batch of Cherry and Coconut Muffins and I needed cupboard space.  It was only right to bring the two of them together to make a fantastic muffin recipe which also converts to a loaf cake if that's what you prefer.  I covered the top of these muffins with some vanilla buttercream liberally sprinkled with more coconut.  Delicious!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ferry Bad Food on the Oscar Wilde

We love going on holidays.  It's the anticipation of packing the car with our clothes and my cooking utensils so I can make some home cooked dinners in our apartment or mobile home in France.  We are confirmed Francophiles (ignoring the fact that The Hubs can only say "large beer please" in French...) and we have had many wonderful holidays there over the past 15 years.  We usually get the ferry as we can fill the car to capacity with fantastic wine on the way home and I do appreciate a night at sea to prepare ourselves for the holiday that lies ahead.  The only negative is the food.  And boy, it's bad.

We've only ever had one ferry crossing to France where we could honestly say "that was delicious".  That accolade belongs to Brittany Ferries who sail from Cork to Roscoff every Saturday.  Their catering is superb - fresh fish, meat, bread... you name it, they have it and it is worth every penny.  I commend their food policy and wish others would take example.  Sadly, we sailed (yet again) with Irish Ferries on their flagship Oscar Wilde ship from Rosslare to Roscoff where every year we board the ship saying "the food will have improved, won't it?".

All fur coat...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review : Fenns Quay, Cork

Fenns Quay is a hidden gem of a restaurant in the shadow of Cork's Courthouse and is naturally packed full of legal eagles at lunchtime, eager to sustain themselves before another hard afternoon of prosecuting and defending the citizens of Munster.  Don't let that put you off... Fenns Quay, headed by the very talented Kate Lawlor, produces beautifully cooked and reasonably priced food in a relaxed setting.  The service is quick, unobtrusive and incredibly cheerful thanks to the buoyant charm of Pennapa on front of house.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Competition : Win Chocolates by Genevie *WINNER*

Don't say I never give you stuff.  This is the first of a series of competitions (I always go a bit mad around my birthday and give gifts as well as receive them...) to spoil you lovely readers. Recently, I was sent a box of chocolates from UK based Chocolate by Genevie who sell delicious Belgian chocolates beautifully presented in luxury boxes, hand decorated with silk and butterfly emblems and they taste wonderful.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Review : Martin & Paul's Surf 'n Turf

This is not just a cookery book, this is a highly entertaining television series on RTE One and if you haven't seen it, make it your business to do so.  Myself and The Hubs are big fans and every week he sits there bemoaning "poor Paul Flynn is always getting picked on by yer man with the fish".  I've no doubt that the newly crowned Munster Chef of the Year is well able to hold his own, based on his tweets but it's nice to be  perceived as the underdog every now and then...


Monday, August 20, 2012

Review : Plank Cooking with The Butlers Pantry

When Maria from The Butlers Pantry asked me if I wanted to try out their new BBQ plank cooking plank, I took one look at the grey, rain-sodden skies outside and thought why not...  Their Executive Chef Niall Hill has developed a new method of summertime cooking on the BBQ using a wooden plank.  The method is simple - soak one of the Butlers Pantry untreated Himalayan Cedar or Oak planks for at least 8 hours, put it on your BBQ, add the food, shut the lid and... out comes a fantastic meal.


I collected my pack on a Saturday, got home and unpacked the contents.  There was enough to feed a very hungry army including artisan French bread, pate, beetroot ketchup, salads, marinated chicken, vac packed salmon fillets and the plank itself.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Waterford Harvest Festival


Waterford City is getting ready to host the country’s biggest food festival Harvest from Monday September 10th to Sunday September 16th which will feature a variety of Ireland and the UK’s top Celebrity Chefs at locations across the historic city centre.  Neven Maguire, Kevin Dundon, Darina Allen and Richard Corrigan will all be out en force to showcase their culinary skills in addition to BBC’s Martin Dorey, the presenter of the hit TV series "One Man and his Campervan" and author of the Camper Van Cookbook.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Today I have been mostly... baking cake

Apologies for the radio silence over the past while - I've been a little bit distracted with Mum being in hospital (major op went well and she's well on the road to recovery, while raving about the food in St. Vincent's Private Hospital) and I haven't been feeling too fabulous myself in recent weeks but that should be sorted out pretty soon.

Anyway, back to business.  Today I was baking birthday cakes for twin boys who are 10 tomorrow.  Believe it or not, one of my Twitter friends had seen Ethan's Blue Birthday Cake and contacted me to see if I would make something similar for her boys.  James wanted a cake just like Ethan's with chocolate sponge, blue icing and lots of Maltesers.  Patrick had different ideas and wanted a red sponge, green icing and lashings and lashings of Minstrels.

Patrick's Green Birthday Cake

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Our Weekend of Luxury at Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa

A few weekends ago, I was invited to spend the weekend at Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa, just outside Clonakilty in West Cork, and I got to bring a guest with me.  The Hubs staked his claim before I even got a chance to ask him if he wanted to go, much to the displeasure of Little Sis, my Mum and the Mammy in Law, all of who believed it should have been theirs.  Ah well, better luck next time.

Yes, it was sunny in Inchydoney! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dogsnots and Fur - Adventures in SandieSitting

For the past month, we've been looking after a little doggiewog.  Her name is Sandie and she belongs to my sister and my godniece Lulu.  They fecked off on holidays to Spain for a couple of weeks (where Little Sis managed to get herself engaged - hurrah!) and we agreed to mind their fluffy mutt Sandie.  You may have seen the odd picture of her on Instagram where I refer to her as Sandie the WonderDog.  Now we had Sandie, live and unleashed in our house for a whole month.

Look at me, I'm CUTE!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Richie's not Bluffin' with his Scuffin

A few weeks ago, the people at Goodalls decided to run a competition to see who made the best scone in Ireland.  Now they didn't mean me (although mine are exeedingly good) or your granny, they were talking about coffee shops and restaurants.

Nominations started pouring in thick and fast and despite loving the work of places like The Brown Hound Bakery and their sublime Parmesan Scone, there was only one cafe that I could nominate - Caffe Formenti on Dublin Street in Carlow.  You see, I worked in Carlow for 7 months and Formenti was my local cafe. It's run by husband and wife team Richie Fenner and Christina Caratti, ably assisted by Maya and Milena on front of house.  It's a local institution, even though it's barely 5 years in existence and in a town where businesses are closing every day, it's a shining light.  Richie's scones are called Scuffins and they're a giant scone baked in a muffin tin, so they're deep and crunchy and delicious.  His bestsellers are the mixed fruit but I have a special love for the plain or peach ones which are special order and wreck Richie's head, having to hold back some batter for "that awkward one from up the road".  He loves me really...


Richie's not Bluffin' with his Scuffin...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Review : Fern House Café at Avoca

The Fern House Café is the grown up dining arm of Avoca Kilmacanogue, just off the N11.  It opens for dinner from Thursday to Saturday and has a great value set menu on Thursday nights for those who are watching their budget.  The entrance to the Fern House is to the right of the main Avoca entrance and leads to a large and airy Victorian-style room with ceiling height windows, rustic tables and an assortment of mismatched chairs.  It gives an eclectic, relaxed atmosphere in elegant surroundings.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Food at Camile Thai Kitchen

Even though the nearest branch is many miles away, I've always hungered for a takeaway from Camile Thai Kitchen, which offers authentic Thai food for take home and delivery.  They've now teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Kevin Thornton to offer a new dish for a limited time only: Mae Chan Chicken.



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cottage Pie Pie

I was reading The Sunday Times as is my wont of a weekend and was flicking through the Food section (my favourite) when I spied a pie.  A Mona and Ron Wise pie to be exact,  Mona and Ron are a couple from Galway who have just published their first book called "The Chef and I" and now write for The Sunday Times, filling the pages full of family-friendly recipes which works with their very busy lifestyle and feeling four hungry kids to boot.

Anyway, back to the pie.  Mona calls it a Picnic Pie but I've always known it as a Cottage Pie (without the pastry case).  Cottage Pie is one of my favourite comfort foods with minced beef, plenty of onions and delicious gravy, topped with potato.  It turns into the most perfect store cupboard pie because chances are you have all the ingredients apart from the pastry and the minced beef and both of those can be bought without too much trouble.  By the way, feel free to add mushrooms and peas to the filling  - I usually would, but I actually forgot!  And another point, if you don't have cooked new potatoes, just chop a large potato into small cubes and cook it along with the onion and carrot.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Buttermilk Soda Bread

Making your own bread may seem very scary but this is the easiest and most rewarding bread you'll ever make.  You don't need yeast, a breadmaker or even a food mixer - just a big bowl and your own hands.  The buttermilk gives the bread a beautiful yellow colour and it rises beautifully thanks to the bicarbonate of soda. You'll never buy shop-bought soda bread again...

You can add extra ingredients to the bread to customise it : currants, chocolate chips, cheese, herbs from your garden - whatever takes your fancy.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chocolate Butterscotch Squares

If you absolutely adore chocolate, then these bars will make you very happy. They're very very rich and sweet, so a small square goes a long way but they are decadently delicious.  Just so you're prepared, this is a three part recipe so you need to make sure you've plenty of time on your hands - it's not something you can throw together in twenty minutes flat.



Friday, June 29, 2012

The Perfect Gift : A Butchery Demo with Pat Whelan

It's summer time (allegedly) and I know the weather is going to improve dramatically - hey, it couldn't get much worse...  So what do we like to do when the sun is shining?  Well men love to fire up the grill and have a big BBQ.  But they tend to stick to the same cuts - chops, burgers, steaks... all the stuff they're used to.  But there's so much more variety available, and it tastes amazing.

Pat and Alistair demonstrating pork butchery

So how do you find out about all of these secret cuts of meat?  Well I have the perfect solution for you.  On Tuesday 10th July, renowned craft butcher Pat Whelan is holding an evening butchery demonstration class in Avoca Monkstown, where he'll show you how to use knives safely, butcher pork and beef and give you a new found confidence and understanding of the most beautiful cuts of meat.  You'll even get to try some of my fantastic Slow Roasted Shoulder of Pork.


Booking a place at the demonstration evening  is simple - just click HERE and follow the instructions.  The evening starts at 18.45 and you or somebody you love is in for a treat, I can assure you. The last demonstration evening sold out, so book ASAP!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Babaduck on the Radio

I have a lovely friend called Fiona (who I've mentioned before) who has a fantastic home business in Carlow called Hunters Lodge Living where she teaches townies the art of sustainability and GIY.  She has happy hens, delightful ducks and now even buzzy bees and also has found the time to do a Certificate in PR & Media Communications.  Frankly, she juggles so many things, she should be the ringmaster in a circus!.  As part of her certificate, Fiona had to write and produce her own radio documentary on The Arts which brought her to one of her loves, and something she's pretty good at herself, food blogging.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cherry and Coconut Muffins

Sweet and juicy cherries are in season right now and I absolutely love them. They do create a bit of a bloodbath when you try to stone them so I tend to don a pair of disposable rubber gloves to avoid the old purple finger look which isn't very flattering.  I decided to bake a batch of muffins using these purple juicebombs and some sweet dessicated coconut - they're ultra simple to make and take just 20 minutes to bake.  This recipe makes 18 muffins or you can turn it into a 2lb loaf for a teatime treat.


In fact, Aldi are selling them for 79c a punnet so run like the clappers and grab some now! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Join the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail


Spanish wine brand Campo Viejo, the flagship of Rioja wines, has joined forces with four of Dublin’s top restaurants for the return of the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail which runs from 27th June to 19th August.  A celebration of the best of Spanish cuisine, participants will have the opportunity to join the trail through Dublin city centre and discover the art and elegance of ‘tapeo’; the art of eating tapas. You will sample an array of small epicurean delights bursting with Spanish flavour that will tickle the taste buds and tantalise the senses.  Lucky you...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chicken Breasts in a Tarragon, Cream & White Wine Sauce*


Sometimes you cook food for pure enjoyment, and other times you just want a quick meal – but still want it to be flavoursome & nutritious, just a lot simpler. This is the perfect recipe for an evening in as it combines silky, luxurious, flavours but all in a recipe that’s on your plate within 30 minutes.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Cooking a perfect Côte de Boeuf

I'll never apologise for my love of all things meat.  I absolutely adore steak and one of the most decadent cuts of all is the Côte de Boeuf.  Some butchers call it the Cowboy Cut but I know it as something which will cost you a small fortune in a restaurant but is stunningly easy to cook at home for a fraction of the cost.

This cut of beef is basically a ribeye with the bone still attached, or a slice of a beautiful rib roast - it's enough for one very hungry person (The Hubs) or one with more self-restraint who wanted leftovers for some delicious sandwiches the following day (me).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Father's Day to remember at Inchydoney


It may have escaped your notice but it's Father's Day this Sunday 17th June.  If you're feeling very generous this year, here's a fabulous idea for a gift.... Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa in Co. Cork has taken a new approach this year and is offering a Father’s Day "Fish For Your Dinner!" package.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Kanchi Dine in the Dark at Taste of Dublin


Taste of Dublin begins in the Iveagh Gardens this Thursday 14th June and runs until Sunday 17th where a unique feature for this year's Taste is "Kanchi Dine in the Dark".  This experiential dining event will see festival goers served an exclusive tasting plate by legally blind waiting staff whilst immersed in complete darkness.  Festival goers will be guided to their tables, where they will be served a taster plate created by Ireland’s most acclaimed culinary experts. Without their sight to guide them, guests will experience the complex tastes, flavours and textures in a completely new and innovative way. In the blacked out dining room, everyone will be immersed in complete darkness, whether they are visually impaired or not. Each sitting will last approximately 30 minutes, after which guests have the opportunity to meet with the award winning chef who prepared their food, and to discuss cooking techniques and the local produce they have sampled.


There will be several sittings each day for the duration of the festival for both lunch and dinner with 25 festival goers served per sitting on a first come first served basis. The cost of entry to the ‘Kanchi Dine in the Dark’ pop-up restaurant is 8 Florins which will include the tasting plate and a glass of wine/non-alcoholic alternative per person.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Pancetta and Parmesan Scones

Between the torrential rain and the gale force winds, I'm getting rightly browned off with this so-called summer. We're meant to be going for nice walks in the sunshine, sitting in the garden reading and having long leisurely BBQ's with cold drinks and lots of salad.  Scrap that - I'm so chilled to the bone that I'm half considering putting the electric blanket back onto the bed so I wanted some warming comforting food to lift my spirits.  Sometimes cake just doesn't cut it, so it was time for savoury - scones to be precise.  Full of tangy buttermilk and spiked with smoked pancetta, salty parmesan and a handful of chives for an oniony bite, these are perfect brunch fare.  They take minutes to make, minutes to bake and will keep you all warm and cosy inside.

They remind me of the fabulous Parmesan Scones made by possibly the best bakery in the world, Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda which I absolutely adore, so this is my homage to Jeni & Reuven!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summery Nectarine and Lime Cake

While I was shopping yesterday, I saw my favourite summer stone fruit - the Nectarine.  I love it's smooth skin - much nicer than that of it's hairy cousin the Peach, and I could quite happily sit down with a whole punnet and devour them all in the sunshine.  But it's raining outside so I decided to turn my lovely nectarines into a comforting cake with lime zest added for some brightness and acidity.  I know that my Mammy in Law will appreciate a generous slice of this for her after dinner treat, as will we.


As this cake bakes, the fruit sinks into the soft batter so when it comes out of the oven, the fruit is nowhere to be seen, which is a bit of a disappointment.  Fear not, just turn it upside down and there are the nectarines, all warm and snug and surrounded by sticky, luscious cake.