Monday, 25 July 2011


For those of you who wanted the flatbread's so easy and gives great results.

It's from River Cottage and goes like this:

250g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil
150ml warm water

Mix the oil in the water and add slowly to the four and salt. If you pour with one hand and mix with the other, this works well. When it's mixed, turn it out onto the table and knead for 5 mins or until it's smooth and plump. Leave to rest for at least 15 mins.

Divide into 8 pieces and roll out to about 2-3mm thick.

To cook, heat a dry frying pan until it's quite hot. Lay the flatbread in the pan and cook until it's getting brown on one side, then turn over and cook for about a minute on the other side.

Best served immediately or they can be crisped up again to make dipping chips, but they won't keep their soft texture.

....and Relax....

So I'm finally getting my breath back after what was a brilliant weekend of food. I'd just like to say a huge thanks to all my guests who made last Saturday's dinner such a huge success and also an enormous thanks to my very dapper butler for the evening, Ed. I guess all good things come to those who wait!

I thought I'd throw a few of the recipes your way and also give you the run down of where I sourced the produce and what went into the whole evening.

Going back in time, this was Thursday...

Picked up the meat for Saturday's dinner today from Ennis's butchers up in Rialto. A really good local butchers, and surprisingly good value. Great to get the bones thrown in as well, which are currently bubbling away in the kitchen to make the stock for the tagine, which I'm going to make tomorrow, time enough to give it a good stew overnight to get the most out of all those lovely spices. The meat is currently in the fridge soaking up the spices that will give the dish it's delicious flavour, lots of cumin, paprika, cayenne and tumeric - it smells great!

Then Friday....

I'm very excited and can't wait to start cooking. I've tried as much as possible to keep out of the supermarkets for this one and get my ingredients from independent retailers and markets. Here's a run down of what I've been able to find. It's amazing what's out there when you put in a little leg work! (although with all this rain, those legs do tend to get a little wet).

I'm very lucky to be surrounded by a great Asian community and the local shops are stuffed with all the spices, pulses, grains, and treats a girl could want, so a short trip round the corner was all I needed to stock the press with the required spices for my menu. Is it wrong to get excited about buying spices?

For the record, you get twice the amount for half the cost of the supermarket
variety and I'd put money on them having a better flavour. I was also able to pick up the Rosewater for my dessert. ( got my inspiration here, but the Rachel Allen recipe worked really well with the Rosewater, about 2 teaspoons, also tried a river cottage recipe but the yoghurt made it a bit too tart for the rose water!) Amazingly they had three different options to choose from. It's great to see the choice of produce in Dublin increasing with the influx of different nationalities. When I first moved home from London I pined for the Turkish shop we used live over, with it's fresh veg, broad bean crisps (if you can find these, you'll never stop eating them...on second thoughts, maybe don't go looking!) and delicious kalamata olives and vine leaves, all cheap enough to buy for everyday use. There were few shops like it here but what there was were badly stocked. But, happily, the last year has seen a huge change and I for one am loving it.

Finally to Saturday, which was one of those beautiful Dublin mornings, where everything looks ten times brighter and lovelier than on an average day. Got out to the market good and early just as the city was waking. Down to Pearse Street to see what they had to offer. It's a lovely market, quite small, but with some great sellers and welcoming atmosphere. I got my veg from Ballinroan farm and a few leaves and spinach from Bogach farm. It wasn't cheap but it was all organic and for the salad leaves it was definitely worth it for the taste. Being the cheese fiend that I am I couldn't leave without taking a little bit of cheese from Mossfield farm for my lunch, which was really delicious. Then, a quick trip in to Temple Bar Market, which, while beautiful and interesting is a little prohibitive price-wise for regular shopping. However, I braved the tourists to pick up some olives and vine leaves. Last stop was on Aungier Street for the Baklava. Picked it up in a little ethnic supermarket. Great value and delicious. I really do love these shops. in fact I think I'm a little obsessed.

All that was left was a quick trip to the mammy's garden to get flowers for the table and a few treats for the salad and the job was done.

So, the results? I really enjoyed making all the food and shopping for it. Nearly all the plates came back clean, seconds were had and smiling faces were many. I choose to take that as a good sign.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Important Update

Seeing as my lovely butler Ed will be helping out for the evening, he will be offering his excellent, I can't stress that enough folks, cocktail services for some pre-dinner aperitifs. On the menu, Strawberry Daiquiri (made from homegrown strawberrys) and an Ambassador. A little girly perhaps but very summery and if the men need something stronger, he's very accommodating.

Cocktail hour kicks off at 7.30.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

First Supper Club Menu

So the first supper club is going to be on Saturday the 23rd of July and I'm having a middle eastern themed menu. This is pretty much my favourite kind of food - fresh ingredients, simple cooking, strong flavours. Also it's the kind of food that's great at bringing people together. Big meze platters, tagines, salads, flatbreads, dips. What more could you want? The Moro cookbook will be getting a thorough read for the occasion - I can highly recommend this as an inspirational bible. I love it and have never been let down by a recipe. Also if you're ever in London, their restaurant is in Exmouth Market (great shopping and eating) and it's delicious. Go.

So, here's the menu. Let me know if you've any comments or suggestions.


dips and flatbread

beetroot dip


spinach and feta fatayer

vine leaves

lamb tagine

green salad

rosewater panna cotta



Monday, 11 July 2011

Who knew beetroot could taste so good?

Lovely goodies donated by Mammy Enright

I was just so excited about the fact that I cooked beetroot today and it didn't taste like muck, I had to shout about it.

After a lovely trip down the country I left the farm laden with produce from the allotment. (That's a sentence I never thought I'd hear myself say, but there it is.) Beetroot, potatoes, onions, lettuce and more strawberries than I've ever seen in one place. With my only real experience of beetroot being pickled, I didn't think I cared much for it but after today's experiments I have to say I'm a convert.

I couldn't let the chance go by to cook with ingredients that were in the ground yesterday and in my pot today. City girl that I am, this is still somewhat of a novelty for me and something I find really exciting. Judging by today's results, it really does make a difference.

First was a delicious River Cottage beetroot soup with a spiced yoghurt dressing. No muckiness here, just a delicious sweet soup with the tangyness of the yoghurt really complementing the sweetness of the beetroot. The home grown onions probably added something to the end result as well.

Also from River Cottage was a recipe for beetroot and feta salad which, as I have a bit of a salad fetish, I had to try. And again, an absolute triumph. I roasted the beets in the oven, with garlic, thyme, seasoning and olive oil for about an hour and a half. Then into a simple salad of leaves from the farm, red onion, feta and a simple oil and lemon dressing. Perfection. And probably the healthiest dinner I've had in ages.

Only a small bit of beetroot left, which will be going into beetroot humous from'll never guess.....River Cottage. God, I wish I lived there.
That's to follow. Need to borrow a food processor first!

The strawberries have taken up residence in my freezer until I can get some people round to help with the eating.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Et Voila!

Pretty happy with the result....but the proof is in the eating. Looking forward to that later.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Cake update!

OK, so I just made the chocolate custard. Can anyone answer me? Why is it that we follow instructions so blindly when every fiber of our body tells us it won't work out? I learned about cornflour today....and it wasn't that much fun.

I've been warned about hummingbird recipes being somewhat unreliable before and today I experienced first hand the frustration. The cornflour to water ratio in this recipe is a disaster. After gasping at the amount of cornflour I was putting in the mix, followed by much tutting and shaking of the head when I added the water and discovered the mess I was left with (resembling a paint pot that had been left with the lid off for some days) I went ahead and threw the lot on top of my lovely chocolaty, sugary pot of deliciousness. Why was I so surprised when it didn't work out, I clearly followed the recipe? I was left with chocolaty deliciousness dotted with copious amounts of white cornflour blobs which, after much stirring, whipping, beating and food processing, would not go away. I gave up...and started again.

Now had this not been for such a special occasion I would have left it as it was, it was fine, but as I said, it's a special cake for a special birthday so I decided to go for round two. So, this time I used my common sense. I used slightly less cornflour and a lot more water, about 125g:200ml. The mix was fairly runny and had NO LUMPS! The result was good, although not entirely lump free.

The jury's out on whether it was worth the effort/anyone would have noticed the difference, but I suppose I'll know! For the record they both tasted pretty good, but I was just too badly burned by the struggle of my first effort for it ever to have worked out between us. Me and number two are getting along much better thanks.

Cakes next!

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

So, when a birthday comes round the only thing for it is cake. And when a special birthday comes round the only thing for it is a very special cake. So, to endeavor to make a special impact on a special birthday I'm pulling out all the stops and reaching for the Humingbird Bakery recipe book. Introduced to me by a good friend of mine, the book is a bible for all cake lovers out there. If you don't know it, get to know it. Your dentist will thank you.
So, I've chosen the Brooklyn Blackout Cake. The recipe looks a little intimidating, it's a three layer chocolate cake with a chocolate custard filling, covered in chocolate cake crumbs. YUM! I hear you cry. Well, we'll see. First problem is I only have two round cake tins, so am going to have to improvise. Second problem I foresee will be creating a beautiful look with such a fiddly finish and even if I manage that, transporting it to the birthday party venue intact will be a feat of some magnitude.

Let the baking begin!

from humble beginnings!

100g unsalted butter
260g caster sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
175g plain flour
160ml of whole milk

oven gas mark 3; line 3 8in round tins (alternatively, use 2 tins, gas mark 5 and divide each cake in 2 when done giving you three layers and one for crumbs)

- cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
- add eggs one at a time, mix well between each addition
- gradual beat in vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb of soda and salt, beating slowly
- add half the flour and milk, beat well, finish with the rest of the flour
- cook for 25-30 mins until golden and sponge bounces back when pressed

chocolate custard:
500g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
600 ml cold water
200g cornflour
85g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

- put sugar, golden syrup, cocoa and water in a pan. Bring to the boil, whisking occasionally
- mix cornflour with 120ml of water and whisk into coal mixture
- bring back to the boil, simmer for ten minutes, whisking constantly until it's quite thick
- remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla until bitter has melted
- chill in a bowl, should be very firm when chilled

- when the cakes are cool, slice a thin layer off one and blitz in a food processor
- assemble the three layers with using 1/4 of the custard between each layer
- using 1/4 of the custard ice the top of the cake and the last 1/4 to ice around the sides
- cover the top and sides in the cake crumbs
- chill for at least two hours before serving

Try to keep cake intact long enough to get to said birthday party!

Here we go!

So, this being my first foray into the world of blogging I am understandably, I think, I little apprehensive. Not least of all because of my disastrous grammar and spelling, so lets get that out of the way right now. I am no English graduate so please excuse any mistakes you may find here. I'll try and keep them to a minimum.

I've always had a huge interest in food. Starting out in my aunt's kitchen when I was about as high as the counter, I then got a new nerdy recipe maker on our old word processor - it was the height of sophistication you know, one font, one layout, it was basically a typewriter but it essentially created my first cookbook. I found the recipes the other day - very nostalgic. And then there was my granny's warm kitchen with her delicious apple pies and brown bread, made the good old fashioned way, on the table, no bowl needed - I'm never brave enough to try it that way now - milky, floury disaster. Good old fashioned stuff basically and I loved it. Then life took over for a few years and I got distracted by other things. Living with my sister, and my inherent laziness, I found it all too easy to let her take over the cooking while I waited patiently in the pub with a pint for the phone call to tell me my dinner was on the table. It was all very 1950's homemaker. (With me playing the part of the lazy husband? - not sure about that analogy!)

Anyway, living on my own again and it's up to me to look after myself. I sometimes miss the company and I always miss the good food. There's nothing like setting a table, cooking a meal, and sitting down with the food and the chats. So the only option is to step up, get on with it and rediscover the kitchen, and I'm loving it. The only problem is, living on my own, I have to constantly come up with reasons to lure people into my kitchen, or alternatively develop a serious weight problem. Having done a couple of part time cooking classes this year, and with the food revolution hitting the nation and my generation in particular, my appetite is truly whet.

So I'm putting together this blog to organise myself. To try and figure out the good (read cheap and quality) places to buy produce, the movers and shakers in the Irish food world (having lived in London for most of my adult life, I'm much more familiar with going's on over the water) and generally to find an outlet for my foodie urges.

My first endeavour is to put together a supper club at the end of the month so I imagine the next few weeks will be consumed with that. Now, what to cook? And where to sit everyone???