Monday, September 30, 2013

Sticky Lemony Gingerbread Cake

I don't usually talk about the day job but last week was great fun.  I've been working on a cake project for work for the past few months - doing it professionally is a lot more difficult than nipping into my kitchen and whipping up a cake - and a box of new samples arrived on my desk.  Being the caring sharing person that I am, I broke them out and got the highly qualified taste testers to give me their expert opinions. The cakes were universally well received (phew!) and then a little voice piped up "that would be even better if we could merge the two of them together".  Well JP, thanks for the suggestion!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Vanish : The Ultimate Stain Slayer

As you know, I cook and bake a lot of dishes at home so I can create delicious recipes for you here.  All of this experimentation isn't without risks as I am the queen of dropping spoons, creating splatter and generally covering myself in stains that can be pretty tricky to remove.  You name it, I've been coated in it : tomato sauce, chocolate, curry, oil, salad dressing, mustard.  And usually when I've forgotten to don an apron.  Clever...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review : Ouzos, Dalkey, Co. Dublin

It's part and parcel of modern life that your friends and family members emigrate in search of a better or different life.  Luckily, not too many of our gang have left these shores but one wanderer returned from his new life in Australia for a visit home recently.  Being mature and mainly married, the lads decided that a sit down dinner instead of a night boozing was the appropriate manner to welcome Dave The Rave back home and a large table was booked at Ouzos in Dalkey.  Ouzos is part of a very small group of two small but perfectly formed restaurants, with the other being in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.  Owner Padraic Hanley is very proud of using the best local meat and fish to give customers great food at accessible prices. The Dalkey restaurant is a two storey long l-shaped room with windows to the front both upstairs and downstairs. The night we dined there was very warm so we were delighted to be sitting upstairs facing the three open windows and enjoying the breeze.

Image courtesy of Ouzos

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Raspberry and Coconut Sponge Cake

One of my favourite Irish brands, Brodericks, make the most delicious raspberry and coconut slice.  It's so good that I have to stay away from the local shop in work otherwise I'd be eating one every day, and although that would be great for their profits, it wouldn't be so great for me!  As it's coming to the end of the soft fruit season, I decided to bake a cake as an homage to Barry and Bernie bringing together juicy fresh raspberries and a mixture of dessicated and toasted coconut to create a truly amazing cake.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Childerbeasts Bake A Birthday Cake for ME

Good things happen in threes.  It's my birthday today (yes, I do look at least a decade younger than my real age, you're SO kind) and I thought it would be rather a low-key affair, being as it's not a major one ending in a zero.  This just goes to prove that even I am wrong sometimes, as the past few days have been very much a cakey love filled celebration.

There's nothing quite like teamwork...

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Normandy Pork Casserole with Cider and Cream

One of my favourite things to do when I'm out food shopping is to have a good rummage through the Reduced to Clear areas of a supermarket.  It's all the rage now but I've been doing it for years - nothing gladdens my heart more than a yellow sticker on something really useful.  The advice of "shop after 5pm" for the best bargains isn't necessarily true - I've found some of my best buys at lunchtime or on a Saturday night.  So why am I waffling on about frugality?  Well, this casserole started with a packet of Stir Fry Pork Strips reduced from €4.50 to €2.  It languished in my freezer for a few weeks but was liberated from the icy depths for a Sunday evening dinner - the posh ones amongst you might call it supper...  I didn't have anything remotely stirfry-able in the fridge so I created a lovely casserole.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Review : Le Puits d'Enfer, Chateau d'Olonne, France

When we go to France on holidays, we usually rent an apartment or stay in a mobile home campsite.  We love the freedom on being able to cook or go out to try the local food.  Usually, the accommodation isn't very central and somebody (that would be me...) has to drive to find anywhere to eat.  Not this year.  We were absolutely blessed with our accommodation in Chateau d'Olonne because not only did it overlook the sea, but it was 200m from the nearest restaurant which happens to be Le Puits d'Enfer.

It was the start of the summer season and we decided to eat out on Saturday night, so we locked up the apartment and set off for the long 200m stroll to Le Puits d'Enfer for dinner.  Because the resort was quiet, we assumed that we'd have no problem in grabbing a table.  Wrong.  The restaurant was absolutely packed to capacity.  Dreams of my "cooked for me by somebody else" dinner were fading fast until I had a brilliant idea.  We could eat outside on the deserted terrace.  The waitress clearly though we were totally bonkers until I explained that we were Irish and to us, the temperature outside was positively tropical.  She relented and led us to a table overlooking the sea so we were entertained by waves crashing against the rocks below.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Beef and Stout Hotpot

Better than Betty's Hotpot, this is a wintery dish, but have you seen the weather recently?  Our poor BBQ is swaddled in a soggy protective coat and my sun lounger is folded up in the corner of the patio waiting for a sunny day.  My freckles are fading!  I made these pies with delicious tender Irish beef, lots of rainbow carrots and really thinly sliced potatoes over the top.  Make a big one for a family dinner or individual ones for a cosy supper a deux or a dinner with friends.  My recipe serves four people so you can scale up the ingredients to serve 6, 8 or even 12 people.  Because it spends a lot of time in the oven, you can get on with reading the papers, painting your nails or whatever you like to do to relax...

Beef and Stout Hotpot