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.