Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Indian ice-cream

Saturday's supper club is fast approaching and I'm getting down to the  hunger inducing task of trying out some of the recipes. The first experiment is Kulfi, which is a type of Indian ice-cream. As seems to be an altogether too frequent characteristic of my endeavours I'm dealing with something I have literally zero experience with here. Well, ok, not zero experience. I am human. I have eaten ice-cream. And my fair share of it too. As for Kulfi, well no, I've never had that. So this will probably turn out to be about as authentic as a shamrock shake. But shamrock shakes can be very tasty regardless, and that's what I'm going for here. Anyway. Despite the fact that I've never made ice-cream, don't own and ice-cream maker and have never tasted Kulfi, I thought it would be the perfect ending to what I'm hoping is going to be a delicious meal on Saturday.
I've really enjoyed preparing for this one and have had loads of online help from enthusiastic cooks, with far more experience in Indian cuisine than I, to guide me on my way with helpful tips and suggestions. Once again, I'm astounded by the wealth of information available on the internet and the helpfulness of those people out there blogging about their passions. I realise how incredibly naive that sounds. But it does seem like any question we have these days can be answered by a quick Google search or Twitter post. The possibilities are endless.

Now if only it contained the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything....
(Should you care to google life, the universe and everything, you'll quickly discover that it was originally written as a six part 'Doctor Who' episode, which sadly never made it. Who knew?)

Should you be interested in Indian cuisine and want to explore it more yourself, here's a few of the helpful blogs/twiterrati who've been so kind with their knowledge this week.
Edinburgh's own Indian Supper Club, Chai Lounge run by Meena. As if I need another reason to go to Edinburgh. 
Gujerati Girl has also been very helpful. She also blogs at the botanical baker.
And the main course for the evening will be coming from this beautiful blog, Journey Kitchen. (More to come on that later!)


400ml cream
400ml milk
10 cardamon pods
200g sugar
saffron (a couple of strands)

Heat the milk and cream in a pot with the cardamon pods
Bring to the boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third.
Remove the cardamon pods
Add the sugar and saffron and stir until the sugar has melted
Pour into a freezable container with a lid
Allow to cool, then place in the freezer (or ice-cream maker if you're fancy)
Every half an hour take it out of the freezer and give it a stir to break up the ice crystals that will be forming
After about three hours it should be ice-cream (It took quite a bit longer than this in my freezer but it does work in the end!)

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Indian supper club

The next Arbutus supper club is going all Eastern and I'll be serving up a range of Indian dishes to my lovely supper clubbers. Avid readers will know that I'm really keen on Indian food. I was lucky enough to visit India briefly a few years ago and one of my favourite memories from being there was the fantastic street food on offer. The first week I was there, I obediently turned away from the delicious and exotic aromas coming from the street vans, terrified of the inevitable illnesses that would surely follow if I succumbed to the temptation. I quickly realised, the fact of it is, if you're a wimpy westerner like me, chances are you'll get sick at some point while you're in India. You might as well enjoy yourself before you do. It's worth it. I don't think there's a food out there that conjures up such sensations and memories as Indian street food; the taste, the smell, the noise of the streets. It's wonderful and inspiring. And so, in what will be a vague attempt at recreating some of those delicious tastes and sensations, I'll be serving up some Indian street food for starters (a first for me) followed by some delicious curries and finished off with a refreshing Indian ice-cream. Seats for the next supper club are all booked but keep an eye out for future dates. You can email me at for enquires. 

Indian supper club menu

bombay mix
chola tikki


beetroot and beef curry
tarka dahl 
tandoori mushroom, spinach and chickpea salad

pilau rice
coriander chapati
kulfi w mango and pistachio biscuits



Donations of 20 euro payable on arrival
Please let me know of any allergies/dietary needs and I will do my best to accommodate you
We provide a complimentary drink on arrival but after that you're on you own, bring a bottle if so desired!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Easter Sunday at Kilruddery Farmer's Market

What better way to spend an Easter morning than heading out to a brand new farmer's market? Certainly not sitting in bed eating chocolate, drinking tea and watching endless episodes of 'The Big Bang Theory' (my latest televisual obsession, I know it's awful, it's still insanely addictive). Having taken a stark look at my life choices I decided to kick myself into action, difficult as it was, and hit the road to get some fresh air and Easter cheer. So off I went down to Kilruddery House in Wicklow yesterday morning to see if I couldn't buy me up some treats. They've launched a new farmer's market being held in the grounds of the house. Yesterday was the first event and future ones will take place on the first Saturday of every month. It's a bit far away for a regular shopping haunt for me but really nice for a day out. As all new markets are, it was small, but thankfully perfectly formed. There was a great atmosphere helped along by the nice weather, live music and friendly marketeers, some really nice stalls, good coffee and a lovely setting. There's also a covered over area for when the weather's not that great too, a must in our wonderfully unpredictable climate. I think it will be a real addition to the local community. Shame I'm no local.

The most exciting find in my trip to the market was meeting Phil from Carraignamuc Cottage. He grows and sells his own veg and also sells a selection of non-seasonal veg which he buys wholesale. An out-of-work stonemason, he took to growing vegetables when the recession hit. He seems really passionate and positive about what he's doing, which is a refreshing attitude these days. It was really uplifting to chat to him. Sure enough I couldn't resist buying something, so I bought a beautiful looking Romanesco Broccoli. Now, I know they're not in season right now and by doing so I was breaking all my rules about seasonality and importing food, but it was just so pretty I couldn't help myself. And it's such a boring time of year for seasonal vegetables. Anyway, I was supporting an entrepreneur, so I can live with myself. 

He also delivers veg boxes which you can order from his farm online. He has a fairly comprehensive list of stock. You just pick what you want and he'll deliver it to your door. I presumed I lived too far away for him to deliver, with him all the way down in Wicklow and me in Dublin city centre, but he kindly agreed to trek in to town giving me a deal on my first order to boot. Can't wait for the first delivery. Should I be concerned that this is getting me excited? If like me you've always wanted a veg box delivery you should check him out. He sells seedlings too if, again like me, you're getting excited about growing your own but haven't the skills or space to grow from seed.

the broccoli of wonder

Anyway the upshot of all this lovely ambling through country gardens and stately homes was that I had a new and unusual vegetable to take home with me for dinner last night. I've been intrigued by the Romanesco broccoli (or cauliflower, depending who you ask) for a long time. It quite simply is the coolest looking vegetable out there. I'd heard it's pretty nice roasted but I wanted something a bit more indulgent for my Easter dinner so I decided to make a potato and broccoli bake. It couldn't be more simple and was the perfect accompaniment to a bit of roast chicken. So if you've ever been tempted by the beguiling charms of the Romanesco broccoli but not had a clue what to do with, now you've no excuse not to give it a try.

Here's how I made it.

Potato and broccoli gratin

3 potatoes
half a head of romanesco broccoli
1/3 litre milk
2 cloves garlic, sliced
bay leaf
butter (about 10g)
flour (about a tablespoon)

Preheat oven to gas mark 5

Peel and slice the potatoes and cut the broccoli into bite size florets
Rub the sides of a small baking dish with butter and arrange the potatoes and broccoli in the dish
In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil with the garlic, bay and thyme. Simmer for a couple of minutes and leave to infuse.
Make a roux with the butter and flour and use to thicken the milk slightly
Season the milk to taste
Pour the milk over the potatoes and broccoli, grate the cheese on top (as much as you like depending on how cheesey you want it. I used some left over feta that I had in the fridge which worked really well)
Top with breadcrumbs
Cover with foil and bake in the over for 45 mins (or until the potatoes are soft). Take the foil off for the last ten to allow the breadcrumbs to brown.