Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review : Clodagh's Kitchen Blackrock

Clodagh's Kitchen Blackrock is a new development for Clodagh McKenna, who has created a cosy niche in Arnotts on Henry Street in Dublin 1.  Located on the upper floor in the Blackrock Shopping Centre (on the same level as Superquinn) the restaurant is quite Avoca-esque in its decor, with comfortable banquettes and booths, marble topped tables and pretty cottage style flowers in water glasses.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cooking on Holiday : My Experience

As you might have gathered, myself and The Hubs swanned off to France for our annual holidays at the start of June.  Most people go on holiday with the purpose of doing absolutely nothing in the cooking department apart from opening a packet of peanuts or a bottle of wine.  Not me.  I'm one of those odd people who actually likes to cook when we are away.  There's two reasons for this : I'm a big fan of wandering around the supermarkets and markets, picking up things, planning lunches and dinners and generally enjoying the experience.  The Hubs is usually enjoying his third snooze of the morning at this point, he's not a fan of shopping, just of eating.

The second reason is that we bring the car.  That means absolutely no space restrictions so I can pack whatever I like without some hatchet faced witch scowling at me over my big fat obese luggage.  I have a kitchen crate which fits everything I want to bring with me.  Despite promising to streamline it every year, the crate gets fuller and fuller.  This year it contained my newly sharpened kitchen knife (a blunt knife is a dangerous knife and I don't trust the ones in rented accom!), chopping board, frying pan, tongs, teatowel, condiments, ice bags, my trusty corkscrew, cleaning wipes, kitchen roll, a measuring jug and whatever else is to hand while I'm packing.  I know this sounds a bit excessive but I've been doing self catering in France for 10 years now and I've worked with some pretty dodgy kitchen equipment and appliances in the past.  So, I come prepared!

Our lovely apartment in Residence l'Estran

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Fritters

Last week, I was being very clever and not just using my oven for cooking one single thing.  I had a lemony garlicky chicken roasting for weekday lunches and I spied a Butternut Squash in the vegetable rack that had survived the pre-holiday cull.  It looked perfectly serviceable so I decided to roast it and do something with it later.  I just split it, scooped out the seeds, gave it a brush of olive oil and sprinkled it with a Romanian herb and spice mix called Mititei - a gift from Little Sis's other half and roasted it at 200c/Gas Mark 6 for an hour.  Mititei is traditionally used to make meatballs but I love it sprinkled over roasted vegetables so out it came.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Buttery Balsamic BBQ Asparagus

Home, home from the holidays and my word, I'm depressed.  The visa bill has already landed, leading to many "holy crap, what did I buy there" moments and to top it all, I'm absolutely and utterly crippled with sciatica.  Damn you, substandard apartment mattress.  Oh well, nothing that a cocktail of drugs and an MRI scan won't cure (hopefully).  Tonight I was feeling a little more mobile than in recent days so I decided to break out the BBQ and cook up some dinner.  Ribeye steak was the dish du jour, together with some delicious new potatoes.  But the part I was looking forward to most was a giant pile of green asparagus, anointed with butter and balsamic vinegar, cooking away alongside the steak.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Review : Les Trois Mâts, Les Sables d'Olonnes, France

We were hungry and the restaurant was busy, so we took it as a good sign that it was going to be a good evening.  Seeing a set menu for €14 per person sealed the deal - we were going to have dinner at Les Trois Mâts.  On the quay overlooking the river in Les Sables d'Olonne, this restaurant has a large sunny verandah which was crowded at 8pm on a quiet Tuesday evening.  We were shown to the last table on the verandah where we could watch the little ferryboat cross between the two harbour walls.

The set menu for €14 contained a host of what we would consider expensive luxury dishes : prawns, oysters, mussels, steak and fish and I was looking forward to a treat at a really reasonable price.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

French Strawberry Pudding

I'm sitting on the patio outside our apartment in the very sunny Vendee in France. I've managed not just one but two visits to the supermarket even though we only got here 48 hours ago and I've had so much fun wandering the aisles with a trolley marvelling at the array of fresh fruit and vegetables.  It's strawberry season at home and I've still to buy my first punnet of ruby red Wexford strawberries but it's also the start of the season here and I discovered beautiful long and pointed Claudette strawberries, grown locally.  Their perfume stopped me in my tracks and I had to buy some.