Friday, November 29, 2013

Chicken and Rice Vermicelli Salad (FODMAP friendly)

A low FODMAP diet can be complex and boring if you are not sure about the right foods to eat. This salad is worlds away from bland and boring - vibrant, colourful and zesty, it combines Eastern flavours like ginger, soy and sesame with tangy and sweet mandarin pieces. Rice vermicelli noodles absorb flavours well and add to the eastern feel of the dish, not to mention that they will satisfy any appetite! The contrast between the greens of the spring onions and salad leaves and oranges of the mandarins and carrots really brings this dish alive.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Great Outdoors - Being Active Over Winter

Being active over the winter season can be quite challenging. If you can’t stand the thought of going to the gym (me) but would prefer a gentle form of exercise that you can fit into your day or at the weekend (me again) - Walking is the perfect answer and, wherever you live, you can get started straight away. Winter walks are the perfect way to get to know your local area, exploring the countryside and taking in the scenery. Avoid the worst of the weather, and you could enjoy the amazing scenes of the changing seasons, from the shafts of sunlight breaking through the bare trees to the crunch of frost on the grassy fields. Hopefully not too much frost though. Not a fan of the old ice myself...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review : Lunch at Jamie's Italian, Dundrum

Jamie’s Italian opened just over a year ago in Dundrum Town Centre and has been a mecca for diners wanting a taste of the Jamie Oliver experience.  Set out over two levels, one at bar level with cosy booths, the other at street level with varying sizes of tables, it’s a cavernous space which works against the odds.   Tables are simply set with white Jamie-branded tea towels, cutlery and water glasses.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Apple and Pear Brownies

I promise this is the final mention of that giant basket of pears I was gifted by my parents.  Listen, there were so many of them, you're lucky that I only have four recipes...  Pears and chocolate have a natural affinity and I love to match them up together whenever I can.  This time, I used two different types of fruit - a healthy helping of my Pear Puree and a bag of fantastic Apple and Pear pieces from Urban Fruit.  I'm a big fan of their products because they work perfectly when I'm baking.  The trick to using dried fruit like this is to separate it gently by hand and if it's a bit sticky, dust the pieces in some of the flour from your recipe.  This stops it clumping together and it will disperse evenly through your cake. 

Anyway, back to the brownie.  Lots and LOTS of chocolate makes for a squidgy, luscious brownie and this recipe literally feeds the five thousand.  You'll need a very big deep pan for baking.  If you don't have one, use a roasting tin that you've washed scrupulously and lined with baking parchment.  See, you can make these bad boys.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chocolate, Pear and Mascarpone Cake

A coupe of week ago, I put a bucket of pears from my parents' garden to very good use.  I made a huge batch of Pear Puree which I froze in batches, knowing I'd find something very delicious to make with it all. The first recipe was a Pear Frangipane Tart and that was very well received indeed.  Because I've been away a good bit, I had temporarily lost my baking mojo but I soon rediscovered it last weekend.

The recipe to get me back in the groove brought together a delicious soft chocolatey sponge cake, a batch of the pear puree and some creamy mascarpone cheese (with a slug of pear liqueur for the grown ups).  You can make this in the afternoon and have a very impressive cake with not very much effort at all by teatime.  What's not to love???

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Top Books for Christmas Cooks

Books about food have definitely replaced socks and gloves as to go-to Christmas gift.  Not sure to buy for your office Kris Kindle?  Sure, a cookery book will do the job nicely.  A quick last minute gift for a friend who can't burn water?  There's a book for that too.  I read an awful lot of cookery books during the year and here's my list of Top Books for Christmas Cooks that I think will suit somebody you know, or even better, as a little treat for yourself...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Italian Sausage Stew

I'm cold.  I need warming food. And I need it now (or within an hour...).  I've made variations on sausage casserole loads of times before but finding a bundle of Cavolo Nero in the supermarket led me down the Italian route.  Cavolo Nero is a black Italian cabbage, some would call it kale, call it what you want but it's a great addition to any stew or casserole as it's really robust and tasty.  This quantity serves 4 hungry people easily, even more if you stretch it out with creamy mashed potatoes and some extra vegetables or pulses.  If I had it to hand, I would have added a can of cannellini beans too.  Yum.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

No Angry Birds on Ryanair

Love them or loathe them, you can't deny that Ryanair have given the travel industry a kick up the rear end over the past 20-odd years.  Prices have come down, foreign travel is more accessible than every and most of us have adapted to their like it or lump it approach.  I know that in recent weeks, they've started to become a little more customer-focused and this can only be good.  Speaking of good, did you know that Ryanair have published a Cabin Crew Charity Calendar which has raised over €600,000 since it started in 2008?

Last week, Ryanair unveiled the 2014 Ryanair Cabin Crew Charity Calendar, which it’s hoped will raise over €100,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust.  Shot on location in Chania, Crete, the 2014 Ryanair Cabin Crew Charity Calendar features 13 fabulous cabin crew.  Charities applied for the partnership in record numbers, with over 400 applications received, and in the end Ryanair’s cabin crew selected UK charity Teenage Cancer Trust to receive the entire proceeds of the 2014 calendar.