Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

From all of us to all of you.  Thanks so much for reading, commenting, cooking and enjoying.  I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.  Have a wonderful 2015!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Dinner Potato Cakes

If your house is anything like mine, you've a fridge full of leftovers from Christmas Dinner and they gaze balefully at you every time you open the fridge door.  And you don't know what to do with them apart from make sandwiches or curry.  I have a suggestion : Christmas Dinner Potato Cakes.  I know it sounds a little bit strange but nearly all of your leftovers can be used here to create a delicious meal.  Just add a crisp green salad or reheated red cabbage and you've created something simple but incredibly tasty with a crisp buttery crust.  Don't forget a healthy dollop of cranberry sauce on the side...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

On Christmas Eve

It's almost time for Santa and presents and good food.  Today I've spent most of the day cooking, washing up and cleaning while The Hubs was working. Sometimes I'd love to swap roles with him and let him plan what we're going to eat for our big Christmas dinner tomorrow.  But then I sit down for a minute with a cup of coffee and glance over at our tree, filled with memories, and realise that there's nowhere else I'd rather be on Christmas Eve.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Gifts : Lovely Things

I'm one of those horribly organised people you all love to hate.  I start thinking about gifts in September, once my birthday is over, and I start squirrelling away stuff as I see.  I know that not everybody is as ridiculously disciplined about buying presents and for most people, half of the fun is going shopping, whether it's in the shops or online from the comfort of your desk at lunchtime or on the sofa in the evening.  I've compiled (if I was a hipster sort, I'd say "curated") a list of lovely things that you or somebody you love might really really like...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Gifts : Books for Cooks

With two weeks to go until the big day, there's still time to get presents for your loved ones.  If they're like me and fond of a cookbook or two, might I make some recommendations?  Here's five of my favourites and I think they're perfect books for cooks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Sponsored Video : Magic & Sparkle at your M&S

As the song goes, it's the most wonderful time of the year.  It's time for spending time with loved ones, giving and receiving gifts and eating a substantial quantity of food with lots of bubbles to wash it down with.  And where can you find practically everything that you'll need for a Christmas with lots of Magic & Sparkle?  That's right, at your local M&S.  Founded in 1884 by Howard Marks and Thomas Spencer, the first store opened in Leeds as Marks' Penny Bazaar.  95 years later, the first non-UK branch of M&S opened on Mary Street in Dublin 1 in 1979 and you can now find branches in 54 countries across the world, including Lebanon, China and India.  It's a long way from Leeds.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Review : Dinner by Domini Kemp

Domini Kemp is a bit of a powerhouse, not only is she the co-owner of the itsa chain, Hatch & Sons, Alchemy Juices & Joe's Coffee Shop with her sister Peaches, she trained as a chef in Leiths in London, has already written two cookery books, broadcasts on food on RTE Radio 1 and has a weekly cookery column in the Irish Times.  Column is a bit of an understatement actually, it's a double page full colour spread.  If you want something done, ask a busy lady (obviously).

Dinner is a collection of Domini's most popular dinner recipes since she began writing the column in 2008 and it is a powerhouse of a book.  When I opened it in the office, it was snatched out of my hands by the ladies in design.  They love a beautifully bound and well illustrated book and Dinner ticked all of the boxes for them.  It's another Graham Thew masterpiece and so simply laid out but being very beautiful at the same time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Raspberry Coconut Layer Cake

After our dinner at MacNean Restaurant in Cavan, we decided to take the long way home via Enniskillen. The lure of Lakeland always proves too much for me and I am powerless to resist.  It's a bit like Sephora, but full of cookware instead of cosmetics.  Poor Hubs just sighs and plots revenge, usually involving a record store.  This time around I discovered some new flavourings and purchased a bottle each of raspberry and coconut, two flavours which are relatively hard to find.  And they were on special, so I saved money.  Practically free in my convoluted way of justifying purchases...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review : Dinner at MacNean House

I've heard many good things about MacNean House in Blacklion, Co. Cavan. Owned and operated by well known Irish chef Neven Maguire, it's tucked away in the farthest corners of Co. Cavan and quite a drive from Dublin for dinner. Despite the remote location, it's permanently busy with weekend reservations snapped up many months in advance.  At this stage, I must confess that I'm not a fan of MacNean's reservation policy.  It's all by phone, no modern email or online reservation system here.  The phone lines opened for business on a Monday in March and if you couldn't get through, then you didn't get a table.  Some may consider this throwback to an old system charming, I found it to be incredibly customer unfriendly.  For starters, I was in a meeting all day Monday with clients. I could hardly tell them that it was more important to sit with my phone permanently on redial in the hope I'd get through.  So, I finally got to make a call at 5pm, only to end up on hold for 45 minutes before eventually speaking to one of the lovely ladies who have the unenviable task of manning the phones and listening to a a lot of frustrated people.  Surely this antiquated system can be updated?

Frustrations over, our table was booked for the 6pm sitting on a Saturday evening which was to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (I was 16 when we married, you do believe me, don't you?) and we arrived on the dot of 6pm, after a delayed flight, a mad dash from the airport and the fastest change ever in the B&B next door from crumpled mess to classy ensemble.  We were escorted into an elegant long dining room with cream wallpaper on top of grey painted panelling filled with spacious linen draped tables and tweed upholstered chairs.

The dinner menu is €72 per person, with a prestige menu available for the entire table at €87 (€132 including wine) if you really want to treat yourself. Dinner began with canapés, to accompany a glass of rose prosecco (€11). A dark wooden tray held a yuzu salmon meringue. mascarpone shortbread, curried popcorn and spiced nuts. The bright flavour of the yuzu was zingy against the silky smoked salmon and the shortbread melted away.  I need a constant supply of the popcorn and nuts as it is the most perfect tv snack ever invented.  

Breads next : tomato twist, cranberry soda, onion focaccia and a pizza bread with truffled butter. The tiny pieces of each that I sampled were all excellent.  I was, you see, pacing myself for the rest of the evening.  It began with an amuse bouche of sweet potato and pumpkin mousse with a chicken lollipop was silky and light with deep flavours from the chicken to balance the sweetness of the mousse.

My starter of quail was pretty with foie rhubarb gel, lemon powder and egg. The barbequed quail was the winner here, with echoes of subtle smoke but I found the Parma ham slightly too tangy for the terrine.  His Ryefield Goats Cheese came as part of a light salad with leaves, walnut puree, beetroot gel and pickled vegetables.

Lobster next, in two parts. The tortellini with Thai sauce was fragrant and the fusion of flavours worked very well.  Not so much with the smoked lobster which reminded me of a chlorine filled swimming pool from my childhood but the mango element was lovely. The spring roll was slightly overwhelmed by all the wrapper.  His ravioli of Fermanagh chicken was a very pretty sight with edible flowers, micro greens and a light sauce.

The sorbet was a much needed palate cleanser : macerated pineapple, mango & passion fruit with yoghurt flakes. Sweet, tangy and refreshing, it was time for the main event.

My halibut with mushroom consommé sat on some perfectly turned baby vegetables and a red wine fregola with gnocchi which were potatoey and pillowy. Apparently this was a brand new dish and I hope it stays.  I had an inch thick tranche of very fresh fish which was crisp outside and succulent within.  The consomme brought intense earthy mushroom as a grounding point. Fish purists would call it overdone but it was on the right side of cooked for me.  His dry aged beef striploin arrived in two symmetrical pieces, with braised beef cheek, creamed spinach and rosti.  This was a dish for meat lovers and he was delighted, begrudgingly sharing slivers of the striploin and the cheek with me.  I loved the braised baby onions on the side, knowing what a faff they are to prepare and loving them all the more because of it.  Side dishes of sautéed potato, tenderstem broccoli, runner beans, carrot & courgette were well seasoned but pretty much redundant as we were full without them.

At this point, I must mention that the floor staff were beautifully trained.  The service was smooth and skilled but also friendly - a difficult task but very accomplished here. The pace of service filled the three hour window seamlessly, at no stage did we feel hurried or rushed despite another sitting at 9.30pm.  The sommelier had trained as a chef in MacNean before changing career and her knowledge of the menu and the wines was unparallelled.

Soon, our pre dessert of ginger creme brûlée and mixed berry tiramisu served on Irish slate from my friend Tara Hammond.. I would have been happy to have the creme brûlée as my main dessert as it was warm with gingery heat, packed full of vanilla seeds and had the most perfect crisp top to shatter with a little spoon. He preferred the tiramisu, not being a lover of ginger. His loss.

Finally, time for dessert.  Mine was the Peanut Sensation: peanut parfait, caramel mousse and milk ice cream. With a jug of molten chocolate to pour over and dissolve the shell.  It was exquisite.  As was his assiette of Clarke's strawberries.  I stole his cannelloni and he promptly retaliated by liberating the rest of my dessert.

Did I mention the extra post-dessert dessert?  A beautiful miniature cake on a long white plate to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  I'm assured that it was an excellent treat.  I had admitted defeat by that stage, being utterly replete with food and a very good half bottle of Portuguese Provia Regia Arinto (€17.50). MacNean thought otherwise and an assortment of petit fours arrived as a final temptation.  

Our bill for three hours of sublime food, superb service and a great celebratory experience was €186.50 excluding service.  Yes, it is on the high side, but it was a very special occasion and we felt that it was exceptional value for money. 

Blacklion, Co.Cavan
Tel :+353 71 985 3022

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Baby Beetroot and Hot Smoked Salmon Salad

A few months ago, a very well known company who sell pickled vegetables came to me and asked me to create a recipe using their beetroot.  When I mentioned this to The Hubs, he pulled a face and muttered "who eats that stuff".  Well, me for a start.  When I was a kid, a salad wasn't complete without some crinkle cut beetroot, pickled cauliflower and onions and perhaps the odd gherkin if I was really lucky.  I loved how the beetroot vinegar would stain the salad cream and the vegetable salad bright pink.  Mum wasn't as impressed if I managed to get it all over my clothes though...

Monday, October 27, 2014

October Roundup

This month, I decided that sharing was definitely caring.  To be honest, after two weeks of holiday where I ate, drank and was very merry, I needed to share out the tasting duties.  My lovely work colleagues rose to the challenge admirably and munched their way through many delicious things, so I wouldn't have to bring them home.  They're so kind.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween Treats : Scary Pumpkinhead Carrot Cake

"I hate carrots but I love carrot cake".  Another gem from the Little Brother who was the happy recipient of this special scary Halloween cake.  I was browsing around TK Maxx last week, purely to help The Hubs buy a new wallet.  It's never that simple - I walked out with a set of Essie nail polish and a new pumpkin head cake tin.  I know, I'm a sucker...  Then, what cake to make?  With the changing weather from lovely to "holy moly, stick the electric blanket on", I reckoned a more substantial warming sponge would work best.  Add some spooky gel icing and you're all set for a Scary Pumpkinhead Carrot Cake.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Triple B Muffins

Muffins.  They didn't exist when I was a kid - the most glamorous thing we ever made was butterfly buns.  And I can assure you that buttercream was most definitely made with margarine then.  I'm still shuddering at the memory of margarinecream gritty with granulated sugar because icing sugar wasn't a staple ingredient, the way it is now.  If you're curious, a butterfly bun was a standard fairy cake (called a bun in the country to this very day) with the top lopped off to create a flat surface.  A splodge of gritty margarine buttercream and a dab of jam, usually strawberry, were spread onto the flat surface.  Then the leftover cake top was cut in half and placed back at angles on top of the jam and cream to create a sort of butterfly effect.  And there were no fancy paper cases either.  Just like Henry Ford, cake cases came in one colour only - white.  Take it or leave it.  Kids nowadays have no idea of the trauma we went through!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review : Dinner at Eastern Seaboard

People of Co. Louth, you don't know how lucky you are to have a restaurant like this in your neighbourhood.  Eastern Seaboard is a big corner unit in a new building which embraces the space with a long banquette set into the curved end wall.  Long narrow chalkboards holding specials clad the central column and blades of grass in little glass bottles echo the height of the room. The floor staff are young and cheery in long navy striped aprons.  The corner bar is dark wood with attractive wine filled shelving and vintage lanterns suspended over the counter.  A large stars & stripes flag flutters gently at the entrance to the kitchen. Jeni Glasgow, the co-owner together with chef Reuven Diaz, glides from table to table greeting guests and ensuring that everything runs calmly and smoothly.  The presence of a former colleague of mine, Michael C behind the bar, adds to the air of happy calm.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Review : Lunch at Pichet, Dublin 2

I have a pair of friends, let's call them Jess and Packie, who have worked very hard (well, Packie has, Jess is a bit of a layabout) and love going out to eat.  I live vicariously through their many photos of lovely lunches, delectable dinners and many, many cocktails.  One such dining extravaganza involved lunch at Pichet on Trinity Street in Dublin 2 when I was starving at my desk.  I rang The Hubs and told him that we were going there for my birthday lunch.  Not being one to argue, he agreed on the spot.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Mocha Shortbread

Oh I love shortbread.  It's buttery, crumbly and very hard to refuse another piece. The Hubs and his Mammy are both big lovers so I decided I'd make a variation on the traditional recipe by adding coffee and chocolate.  When I was in France last year, I bought a box of espresso sticks - powdered instant espresso which you can drink or use as an ingredient.  Two little sticks gave enough oomph to turbo charge the shortbread from something nice into a special treat loaded with coffee and chocolate.  Sure, what else could you possibly want?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review : Bake Like an Italian

Although she's a Wicklow girl like me, Catherine Fulvio loves all things Italian and marrying a Sicilian, the very dapper Claudio, was the start of her amore Italiano. She's written four books already, all with a very distinctive Italian influence and this fifth offering, Bake Like an Italian, explores baking.  Anathema to carb haters, it's subtitled "more recipes for the good life" and is definitely written with la vita è bella in mind.

There's a very vintage feel to the book cover with three very home made cakes and beautiful panelling in the background.  Inside, more delights await with Graham Thew in charge of design, Harry Weir on photography and new author Kristen Jensen as editor.  Together, they've helped to create a beautifully illustrated and cleanly edited book which is a pleasure to peruse.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hit The Floor Cake

This is a story of great triumph over adversity.  In work, we get a delivery of fruit every week to keep us all healthy and at the end of the week, there's usually a few apples or nectarines lying in the box.  I hate waste, so I brought home some nectarines and plums to turn them into a cake for work.  I made a stupendous cake and there were some very excited colleagues looking forward to Monday morning so they could have cake for breakfast (yes, I'm looking at you Cora & Karen...).  I was walking up the stairs from the carpark to the office laden with a handbag, laptop bag and a cake carrier.  Yes, you guessed it, the cake carrier went tumbling to the ground after being hit with a door.  The cake hit the floor with a tremendous bang and scattered all over the stairwell,  CAKETASTROPHE!

The cake was unsalvageable - it had hit the four corners of the lobby and was inedible.  With a very heavy heart, I scraped the remains back onto the plate, into the cake carrier and into the boot of the car.  I was heartbroken. Not as much as my colleagues, who told me that they would have eaten the cake off the floor- and they were serious.  Dirty beasts.  So that's how my gorgeous cake came to be known as the Hit The Floor cake.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review : The Nation's Favourite Food FAST! by Neven Maguire

Pressure.  We're all under it and the one thing we consistently lack is time.  That means that we need to clever about how we eat well without resorting to ready meals or fast food.  This is where Neven Maguire comes in.  Subtitled "100 best-loved recipes for busy lives", this is his tenth (I think, I'm rubbish at maths though...) cookery book.  Neven is familiar to many of us from his TV show Home Cook on RTE and is also the chef/owner of MacNean House in Blacklion, Co. Cavan.  With a family of his own to feed, he's had to revise his way of eating and The Nation's Favourite Food FAST! is a great solution.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Asian Minced Pork

Last weekend, Lulu and the fluffy dog were down on their holidays.  After much moaning from Lady Muck (Lulu) in the back to her chauffeur (me) about how long we were taking to get there, the small talk turned to thoughts of food.  I had already planned Friday night's dinner which was burgers and Italian Potato Nuggets (fried gnocchi to you and I, but if I mention the "G" word to Lady Muck, her perfect little nose would be turned up).  Saturday evening's dinner was still to be finalised so when I mentioned Chinese, she was very excited.  When I told her it was the nice stuff that her mum gets in the restaurant with all the lettuce to make a wrap, she smiled.  But then insisted that she would only eat noodles and not rice.  No way.  Oh, and a box of milk lolly icepops would be just the thing for a pre-dinner snack.  Pester power ruled the roost, let me tell you.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CLOSED : Win Knorr Flavour Pot Hamper

I often write about the short cuts I take when creating recipes and cooking meals because I believe that anything you do to make your life easier and stops you reaching for a takeaway menu is great.  I've been using Knorr Stock Pots and their Touch of Taste liquid stock for years and I absolutely love them.  Now Knorr have expanded my options with their new range of Flavour Pots.  These are such a handy way to liven up everyday meals and I've been playing with a set of them over the past few weeks.  Now it's your turn because I'm giving away FIVE Knorr Flavour Pot hampers.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review : Aegean Flavours

Next month, myself and The Hubs are off on a holiday to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  A whole decade - I know, I can't quite believe it myself. We're actually going on a cruise and made sure that it went to places that neither of us had ever been before.  So we're off to Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia. Actually, The Hubs has been to Turkey before : with the lads some 16 years ago but that was spent on Bar Street eating dodgy food and drinking even dodgier food, so this is going to be a whole new world for him!.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Whipped Feta

Whipped wha?  Feta. I had it as part of a salad in Kilkenny a few weeks ago and it's been on my mind every since.  You know how sometimes you taste something unexpected and it's like an earworm running through your head and it won't go away?  Usually it's Ed Sheerin's Sing or the last song I've heard in the car before I go into work (Steps was the one that lasted longest) but this time it was real cheese.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Home on the Range

Decluttering.  A word that strikes fear into the hearts of most of us because despite our best intentions, we invariably build up a collection of stuff that we didn't even realise that we had.  Take the Mammy in law, for instance.  She's lived in her home since she got married 50 years ago and has steadily accumulated a collection of crockery and collectibles.  We always knew the living room was crammed full of pretty things but it all came to a head last week.  You see, older houses need rewiring and the electrician was coming to move sockets.  Work means moving stuff so she had to clear out the beautiful display cabinets and cupboards so that they could be moved.  Let me tell you now that Buckingham Palace probably have less in their collection than what made an appearance.  Sets and sets of dinner services which were passed down from her mother, a collection of glassware, some of which has been generously passed onto me, and some old pots from when she had a range cooker in the kitchen.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Goat Biscuits

Goat, I hear you say.  Has she finally lost the run of herself?  Actually no, I'm still quite as sane as I was last week but I've been playing around with a few biscuit recipes lately.  One I've always loved is my Oat and Vanilla Shortbread biscuits : they're exceedingly easy to make and every time I make them, they vanish in the blink of an eye.  We have quite a few new people in the day job and I forget that they've never tried a lot of my baking so now I have to go and do it all again, just for them.  Demanding beasts, the pair of them.  Anyway, back to the Goat.  It's now a Ginger and Oat biscuit - geddit? I've played with my original recipe to add some spicy ginger to the mix.  I used some ginger extract which I bought a while back but you can use ground ginger instead if you can't find any.  Some melted chocolate drizzle over the top completely transforms the original into a moreish, can't just eat one, treat.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review : Lunch at RIBA Stillorgan, Co. Dublin

Café Restaurant RIBA is opposite a taxi rank and the shopping centre on the always busy Kilmacud Road in Stillorgan. It's all dark wood and calming greys inside with two long banquettes opposite each other seating about 20 people in the main room.   A long counter with zinc barstools faces the street with an array of pastries and cookies on white cake stands framed by a pair of steel vintage style lamps. Grace Jones is on the stereo and two pretty chandeliers made from milk bottles add to the charm together with a herringbone wooden floor.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review : The Arch Bistro, Churchtown, Dublin 14

A suburban tree lined road is not the place you expect to find a restaurant serving stellar food.  Less than five minutes drive from the megamall that is Dundrum, The Arch Bistro is on the first floor of the Glenside Pub, its doorway festooned with impressive hanging baskets.  Upstairs in the quiet calm of the bistro, Stephen McArdle is cooking up a storm.  With a CV that started at Paul Rankin's Roscoff to One Pico via Alexis, he brings all his previous skill to the new summer menu at his restaurant.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Win A Trip to Chile with Cono Sur

Cono Sur, Ireland’s premium Chilean wine brand, is launching a search to find the ultimate dish to match their Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir.   The entrant with the most votes in Ireland will travel with a friend, compliments of Cono Sur, to compete in the Grand Finale held in Paris in November.   Here they will compete with finalists from Finland, Sweden & UK to win the overall prize of a trip for two to Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery in the heart of stunning Chile.

It could be you!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Is Food Shopping in France a Bargain? Mais Non!

At the weekend I was intrigued to read an article in the Irish Sunday Independent by Louise McBride claiming that French shoppers fill their trollies for half of what we pay here.  As a very regular visitor to France, I think I know my way around every supermarket chain and I must confess to even having a loyalty card for Auchan.  Don't judge me - it saves me a fortune sometimes!  The claims in the article were pretty misleading though and I think it's a case of "the grass is always greener" syndrome.  For parity, I'm going to compare a selection of products from both an Irish and French supermarket who offer online shopping : Tesco and Auchan.  Pull up a chair, this is rather interesting...

French Strawberries.  Delicieux!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review : Zuni Restaurant & Boutique Hotel, Kilkenny

It was time for a break. A staycation, if you like.  We had three days off together and didn't know where to go.  A few weeks ago, I was a guest of Trail Kilkenny at a wonderful long table dinner in Smock Alley which really showcased the best of what the county has to offer, from both a food and craft perspective.  The decision was made - we were off to Kilkenny.  I've eaten at Zuni many times before and love Maria Raftery's style of cooking so decided to take advantage of Zuni's great midweek offer : 2 nights accommodation in their boutique hotel with breakfast and one dinner in the restaurant for €250.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Review : Taste of Dublin 2014

After a well-deserved break in the new food capital of Ireland, Kilkenny, we thought we'd round off our holiday by visiting Taste of Dublin.  We missed it last year and I was wondering if it would be the same old layout with the same old exhibitors as had been the case year on year.  I was very pleasantly surprised with the 2014 event.  A samba group was playing at the entrance to bring a smile to the face of everybody queuing, and once inside, there were plenty of Florin vendors so no lengthy lines to buy the official currency.

The layout has changed dramatically with the exhibition theatre on your left and the main music stage on the right which works so much better, allowing the crowds to sit on the grass or the many Elephant beanbags with a drink in the sun, enjoying the acts.  We really liked Frankie Says who had lots of people up on the dancefloor.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Review : Le Barbier Lillois, Lille, France

While wandering around Lille on our weekend away, we discovered Le Barbier Lillois.  Cobbled paths lead to a corner building on Rue de la Monnaie in the old town. A glass door opens into a long narrow room with a butchers counter against the wall & cosy tables beside the long glass window.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Review : Bread on the Table

There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread.  Once I get the scent, I automatically reach for the butter (Irish salted butter in case you were wondering) to create the perfect partnership.  Supermarkets cottoned onto this years ago and waft the aroma through the store to encourage people to grab a loaf or two.  They also have "artisan" ranges of bread, looking almost like something that your Granny used to make.  A lot of these loaves aren't as they seem though - they're brought into the store frozen and part baked, needing just a quick blast in the oven to give them the finishing touch.  It's actually pretty easy to bake your own bread and Bread on the Table by Valerie O'Connor is the book that will encourage you to roll up your sleeves and turn on the oven.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Baked Vegetable Rice

Rice.  The staple of life for many people across the world.  It's usually steamed or boiled in its purest form, possibly fried in a wok with some beaten egg or made unctuous by lots of stock, plenty of stirring and grated cheese in my Risotto - all made on a hob or hotplate.  Rice cooks brilliantly in the oven too.  I know, that's mad.  But I promise it's true.  Admittedly, you do start the cooking process on the hob but that's a relatively quick process before it goes into the oven to bake and soak up lots of stock.  Baked rice is one of the best dishes to use up the last few vegetables in the basket or fridge, making it a lot healthier and better for you than any of those packet reconstituted rice mixes that haunt the supermarket aisles.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Kitchen Sink Brownie Cake

Brownies.  Squares of chocolately squidgy heaven.  I haven't made them in ages seeing as I was a tad preoccupied with the day job and only got my baking mojo back last week.  There's a birthday in work tomorrow and I decided that the birthday girl was going to get a giant brownie.  But why stop at a brownie, why not make a cake out of it, and throw everything into it as well...

I started off with some really nice 74% dark chocolate in my standard brownie recipe, added a grownup touch by channelling my inner Ina Garten and adding a shot of really strong espresso.  And a bag of chocolate chips.  And half a bag of marshmallows.  Oh, and I liberally adorned the top of it with salted caramel. Chocolate, sugar, more chocolate and salted caramel... Happy Birthday Adrienne!

Monday, May 19, 2014

*CLOSED* Win a bloomin’ great prize thanks to Ocean Spray

This summer, Ocean Spray has teamed up with Gardens Now to create the ‘Wellbeing Wetlands, inspired by Ocean Spray from Gardens Now’ which will be showcased at Bord Bia’s Bloom. Taking place from Thursday 29th May until Monday 2nd June, in Phoenix Park, Dublin, Bloom will be home to over 20 show gardens and the ‘Wellbeing Wetlands, inspired by Ocean Spray from Gardens Now’ is set to be one of the most uplifting and vibrant gardens on display.