Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aperol in the Afternoon

Noon counts as afternoon right?
Lola brought back a bottle of this from her recent trip to Venice. It's a delicious orange liquor, which you water down with sparkling water to make a very refreshing drink. The perfect accompaniment to our preparations for the party we were throwing that night. So as Lola slaved preparing two giant quiche lorraine, I knocked her up one of these babies, they taste as good as they look believe me.

From their own website 'Aperol's unique flavour and colour is achieved through a subtle blend of bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb and an array of herbs and roots - using a secret recipe that has been unchanged since its first creation in 1919.'

After these preparations we took a little wander down the road to watch and have a little march in the pride parade.
Afterwards more refreshments were in order, so we headed to the hop house on Parnell st. for a pint in the sunny beer garden, and our friends sampled some of the lovely sushi. Even our pint got into the pride spirit!!

Sage, Bacon & Parmesan Gnocchi

When Love comes Gnocchi at your door

Oh it's a Friday after work and I'm knackered, and I'm at home cooking dinner for me and Lola. Not straight home exactly, we did manage to polish off a bottle of wine in town. For a Friday that counts as pretty much straight home.

This dish is super quick and very delicious, and a little bit naughty as befits a Friday. I've also been looking for recipes that involve sage to use some of the plant in the garden, it's gone bonkers.

1 packet of gnocchi (will make from scratch one day, but today is not that day)
3 rashers of bacon

10-12 fresh sage leaves - sliced finely

Freshly grated
Grated Cheddar

Chop up bacon and fry until approaching crispy, add in the sage and then proceed to crispy. Cook the gnocchi in plenty of salted boiling water - for two minutes or till the little gnocchi float tot the top. Drain, mix in the bacon, sage and cheese into the gnocchi,
until the cheese melts. Sprinkle over a little more Parmesan to serve and some black pepper.

Transfer to heated bowls and serve

Friday, June 26, 2009

Lemon Infused Courgette Salad with Red Quinoia

Summery Salad Confusion

Arriving at my local shop hungry and tired after a long day at work, I collected for myself a wonderful collection of random purchases, with little or no logic as to what I was making for dinner apart from salad.
From chaotic beginnings, came a very delicious result - score!!

Quinoa originates from Peru, Chile and Bolivia. It is a complete protein making it a very healthy option for vegetarians and vegans, more info on how wonderful Quinoa is here my blog ain't big enough to fill you in on all the wonders of this little grain! It's delicious and crunchy, with a nutty taste and can take the place of rice, or pasta in many dishes. I prefer the red quinoa as it looks more substantial than it's white counter part which goes quite translucent. A little white sprout comes out of them when the grains are cooked - so don't panic - that's normal.

I large courgette
Juice & Zest of half a lemon

5 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt & Pepper

A small bunch of chives -chopped finely

3 scallions - sliced finely

1 cup of red Quinoa

1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes in oil - drained & diced

crumble of stock cube

1 teaspoon tahini
1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

Freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano

Grate the courgette into thin slivers - I use my potato peeler to do this, it leaves you with an awkward centre piece that you can't grate so I just chopped this into little cubes and threw it in too. Potato peelers are also handy for cutting nice thin slices of cheese I find, and also to julienne carrots. By jullienne I mean slice thinly, cause I'm not sure of the exact meaning.

Toss your courgette strips with the juice and zest of half a lemon, tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. If you have anything to do for about half an hour, like some gardening or washing, it'd be nice to leave them infuse for a little while, if you're really hungry fear not, it'll still turn out great. Toss well and then pop under a medium grill.

While they're grilling cook some Quinoa in twice it's volume of water - I crumbled in a small amount of stock cube in, for the laugh, not sure it made any difference. Cook till it is soft and starting to brown nicely - give it a bit of a stir around every so often to cook evenly.

To make the dressing put oregano - 4 tablespoons of oil, tahini, white wine vinegar, salt & pepper, and blend well. I'm trying to wean myself of popping a clove of garlic into everything I make, starting with this salad.

Remove courgettes from the grill and allow to cool slightly, drain quinoa and run under cold tap to cool. Put sun dried tomato, scallions, chives, courgette and quinoa, then pop into bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan, and some black pepper.
If you have a food blog - garnish with some parsley to look pretty! I would have popped some finely chopped parsley if I had managed to grow more than 2 sprigs in my garden.

Enjoy outdoors if possible

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Salad, Steak and Beetroot Tops

Dinner in my Mammy's Garden

My Mammy has a lovely new veggie garden which at the moment has loads of rocket that has gone to flower, and beetroot and spring onions almost ready to eat. The beetroot tops are big and healthy, and she told me you can steam them like spinach. So thats what we did. When I go to my Mammys house, we usually end up cooking. She is an amazing cook and taught me everything I know. We ate outside in the sunshine, but I was too interested in eating to take more photos.

The lovely Mammy:

We had a lovely steak with rocket and spring onion salad from the garden, and steamed beetroot leaves, and fried new potatoes. I also made a great pepper sauce for the steak.

Pepper Steak
Fry the steak for 5 mins on each side. Take out of the pan and leave to rest while you make the sauce. add some stock to the juices in pan, bring to a simmer, and add a big nob of butter. Grind in a good 8-10 twists of the pepper grinder. Simmer on a high flame to reduce the sauce down. Pour over your steak.

The bumper rocket crop:

Feast in Venice

I went to the launch of the Venice Biennale recently, and on my first night in there was all by myself and wondering what to do for the evening, when the phone rang and I got invited to dinner. Patrick, Ruth and Rebecca were all staying in an apartment across town so I got on a vaparetto and trundled my way around the outside of the island. After being on a boat for 40 mins, you get sea legs, so when you get off, you get an horrible rocking sensation which lasts for ages. I think the only cure is prosecco, so I brought a bottle with me.

Patrick cooked lovely squid ink pasta with fennel, which I didn't photograph, but, here's what I think the recipe was...

Pasta with Fennel
Cook the pasta (Pat used black pasta which has squid ink in it)
while its cooking fry onion, garlic and chopped fennel in olive oil until soft. Mix into the cooked pasta and finish with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. serve!

We also had a selection of Italian meats and antipasti, and a caprese salad, and LOADs of wine...

What a great night! I stayed until after the vaparettos had stopped running, so, resisting invitations to sleep on the couch, I tipsily venturing out into Venice and somehow found my way back to my hotel on the other side of town. I even took a detour to find a bar where other friends, who had just arrived, were having a late drink. Yay me! I love Venice at night. Thanks guys! It was the perfect way to start the week.

Barbequed Shrimp

Throw some Shrimp on the Barbie!

After a lovely sunny walk in Howth, me
and Colm went to Dorans on the Pier and bought a big bag of shrimp for hardly any money. Then we went home and cooked them on the barbeque like this:

enough shrimp for everyone
bunch coriander
1 red chili
1 lime
Olive oil
salt & pepper

De-seed and finely chop the chili. Tear up the coriander. squeeze the lime. mix everything together and leave to marinade for a half an hour (or longer if you can). throw everything onto a hot BBQ and cook until the shrimp turns pink (about 3 mins each side)

They were so good! As you can see from the top photo, we also did some Dublin Bay prawns, but they freaked me out a bit as there were so big. I also think I overcooked them... anyway, the shrimp was great!

Lovely Lovely Howth

Banana and Pecan Bran Muffins

Breakfast of Champions

Lucy bought me these coloured silicone muffin cases for my birthday, so I decided to test them out! This is the best muffin recipe ever: really easy and you don't need to many rich ingredients. There is no butter in them so they are cheap, too. You can substitute the banana and pecan for whatever takes your fancy. I have done marzipan and cherry, apple and cinnamon, blueberry, chocolate buttons, etc etc etc. In may we did carrot cake muffins with lovely cream cheese icing, its all the same basic recipe. However, these were particularly good for breakfast.

190 g Self Raising flour
150 g Sugar
pinch salt tsp
baking powder
80ml Vegetable oil
1 egg
80 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 ripe Banana
1 handfull pecan nuts
1 double handfull of bran or wheatgerm

for icing
1 cup icing sugar
tbsp water
(I know the measurements are a bit mad, but don't worry, it doesn't need to be exact)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the banana, mushed a bit and broken into little bits. add all the wet ingredients. stir until everything is mixed in. Voila!

Seriously, thats it!

Preheat oven to gas 6, about 250 degrees. Line a muffin/bun tray with paper cases (i'm using the lovely new silicone ones here), spoon in the mixture until its about 3/4 of the way filling each case. bake for 15-20 mins or until nice and golden.

ix a tiny amount of water into the icing sugar, and when the muffins are cold, drizzle the icing over them.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Granola

Baby Food My friend Jen is having a baby in October, she put in a special request that next time I come to Limerick to see her, that I bring some granola. She's pregnant so I can't argue! I made her some granola, it as a nut heavy one with lashings of ginger and cinnamon, and a good dose of golden Syrup mmmm. I wanted this to taste a little like ginger nut biscuits, next time I'll add even more ginger. For recipe please refer to Peanut Butter Granola or Super-Granola-food

Then I went to visit my parents - so I made some more granola for my mother - I only took one photos - I'll save you the details, but I added in two teaspoons of mixed spice this time - giving it a nice Christmassy taste - I promise to be home again before Christmas too.... Apologies for all the pictures - but with all the lovely sunshine - they've just come out great

A Lovely Lunch in Stephens Green

It's Friday.....

On a Friday lunchtime in work I like to treat myself so it was off on my bike to Sushi-King on Baggot Street (close to Stephens Green end opposite Donney & Nesbits) I picked up some delicious Salmon and Avocado roll and best of all some tom yum soup.

For those of you who haven't had it yet, it's a spicy broth, with a great kick of chili, and a heady mix of lemongrass and coriander.

I'm sure it's really good for you.
Pictures don't do it justice I'm afraid (yeah cause I ate it before I took the picture). But I did happen upon some music in the band stand - two guys were all hooked up and playing bluegrass. The sun was nearly shining, my belly was full and I was a happy girl. The music is going on all summer at lunch time (not sure if it's just Fridays -but starts at 1) well worth checking out

Roast Leg of Lamb

Sunday Lunch
I was home at my parents over the weekend, when they asked me what if I wanted anything special, I said my Dads roast leg of lamb, I've since learnt, that Dad seasons it and Mum cooks it, so it's a team effort. It was possibly the best lamb I've ever had and I've been to New Zealand! I only took a few pictures, but I thought it would be worth putting up.


1 leg of lamb

8 cloves of garlic

Bunch of fresh rosemary
Salt & Pepper

My Dad made some holes in the skin with a sharp knife and then stuffed them with a big chunk of garlic and bits of rosemary, then left it overnight to let the flavors infuse through the meat.

Here's my mums explanation of how to cook it

Hi Lucy,you cook it for 30 mins at gas 8 or 230 then turn it down to gas 4 or 180 and time it for half an hour to the pound thereafter

Easy as that! Also shown on the plate (top picture) are my mums fantastic roast potatoes - recipe to follow I promise, the are the best roast potatoes in the world - I tell you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Onion and Dill bread

Swedish Bready-dilly-insecty goodness

We have a lovely Dill plant growing out back, so this was the perfect way to use some of it up and make delicious bread. There were a LOT of bugs on the dill, and I'm sure on or two of them must have gotten past me, even though I gave it a good wash. However, nobody cared because On our taste scale of 1-10 (1 being McDonalds, 10 being michelin star deliciousness) Lucy reckoned this got a 9, which is the highest yet, but secretly I would give it an 11. Yes it was bloody delicious and disappeared very quickly. Especially perfect with the left over cream cheese spread on it and some nice smoked salmon.

Thanks to Cafe Nilson for the recipe.

Ingredients: 1 sachet fast
acting dried yeast
500g strong white flour1 red onion, sauted
125 ml warm water

1 big bunch fresh dill, chopped

100g cream cheese

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

1 egg

Mix the flour, salt & yeast in a bowl and add the egg, creamcheese, cooked onions, chopped Dill and oil. Mix first using a paddle, then add the water in a slow stream, using a mixer with a dough hook to mix everything together. If there is still flour left at the bottom of the bowl add a very small amount more water, if its too sticky add more flour. Leave the dough hook on to knead the dough for 4-5 mins (or kneak it using elbow grease for 10-15mins) or until you have a smooth, elastic consistency.
Oil the bowl and put the dough in, cover with oiled clingfilm.

Leave in a warm place to rise for
1 hour. Knock the
dough back and shape into 5 or 6 equal sized balls. Oil a big round cake tin with a heavy bottom, and put the dough balls inside in a circle. leave to rise again for 45 mins until the dough has
risen to the brim of the tin.

Bake at gas 7/250 C for 40 mns or so, or until its browned and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Resist the urge to cut this until its cooled down as you will squish it! Most delicious thing ever

Lucy and the Bread

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lemon, Parmesan & Rocket Pasta

Parmesan & Rocket up a tree....

I’ve seen several recipes over the last month of so for lemon pasta, it sounded like a combination that I normally wouldn’t try out. But creamy spaghetti with a fresh bite of lemon sounds beautifully summery, don’t ya think? Especially summery when you can take such a nice light filled photo on your kitchen table. I was very happy with how it turned out – so much so that I’d make it again today…..

I think it would work great with some chicken added in, or some fish, maybe not salmon, but a nice white fish, or maybe a little smoked mackerel. Would also be great with some fresh peas - or sugar snaps, warm or cold

I lemon – zest and juice
4 oz spaghetti
Some olive oil
Some freshly grated parmesan
A big handful of rocket
Salt & Pepper
I also added in cheddar – cause hey – it’s cheese

Cook your spaghetti, in lightly salted water – al dente if you’ve got company – or squishy when I’m by myself, mmm squashy. While cooking the past I often use my bowl as a lid so it’s nicely warm when you pop the cooked pasta in it later.

Drain pasta, and return to pan – add a glug of olive oil and the lemon zest, stir over a low heat for 30 secs or so – then add in the lemon juice and cheese, stir to combine – taste and season. Remove from the heat – gently fold in the rocket.

Transfer to your bowl top with parmesan and freshly grated black pepper – yum! Why oh why did I not make enough for lunch today.

I've been growing rocket in the garden - it's going to seed at the moment, any tips on how to stop this would be greatly appreciated? - I love having rocket outside the back door, pure handy. You'd be amazed at how many bugs can live on one leaf though - the mind boggles.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Potato Salad

The Anti-Salad

Not sure whether it was worth blogging a simple potato salad – but you never know. Mostly I eat salads to get some low carb, low fat and high vegetable content into my life – this salad does not comply to the above standards – being actually the complete opposite. But it’s Sunday and I’m hungover and I miss my friend Kate so all bets are off ok.

5 small new potatoes
5 shards of chives
3 sprigs of parsley
4 little pink radishes
2 spoons of mayonnaise
Salt & Pepper
1 slice of ham
a small handful of cashew nuts
1 teaspoon grainy mustard

The lovely Sarah Lowry introduced me to radishes in potato salad and now I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cook potatoes, chop parsley and chives, slice the radishes finely, slice ham and crush nuts gently. Combine all ingredients in a bowl – mix and serve.

I like to pop the potatoes in still warm – but if you want to cool them down – just run them under the cold tap for 30 seconds or so.

It’s great as a side dish for barbecues and summer food, quiches, fish and chicken – eat outside if possible. To prepare as a side dish simply leave out the ham and nuts

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tomato Dahl

Tomato on your Roll Dahl?

Dahl is wonderfully satisfying served on top of rice as an accompaniment to curries. I've always had trouble reproducing a good one at home, they seem to vary widely in consistency. From a liquid to something thick and curry like. Because I love lentils I always tend to put too many of them in. This recipe I used only half a cup and this seemed to give a nice consistency, you could add more water if you wanted to serve it poured over the rice.

1 onion chopped
1 carrot small cubed

1-2 green chillies
4 tomatoes cubed (some recipes ask for peeled, but my life is too short to peel tomatoes)

½ cup of red lentils

2-3 garlic cloves crushed
inch ginger grated

¼ cup grated coconut (see previous post)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 bay leaves

some coriander to serve

1-2 tablespoons of toasted almonds (mmmm)

Ghee /Veg Oil

In a pan heat up the oil, when hot throw in the mustard seeds, cumin & chillies. Cook until the mustard seeds start to go ‘pop’ and then you can add in the onions, tomatoes and carrots, as well as some salt and turmeric. Saute them until the onions and tomatoes are soft.

Add in the lentils and cook gently while stirring for 3 mins. Then add in two cups of water and some bay leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 mins till the lentils are soft and falling apart. You may need to add in some more water if the lentils start to stick to the bottom – so just keep an eye on it.

After 15mins or so - add the coconut simmer for another 4-5 mins.
Sprinkle with coriander and toasted almonds. Serve with spiced rice for warm and satisfying meal, and mango chutney of course. Or as a side dish to accompany butter paneer masala and toasty hot naan breads.

Apologies for the terrible title - I just had to

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Paneer Butter Masala

I love Paneer - Govindas used to come to our college on a Thursday and serve up huge plates of delicious rice and paneer in a spicy tomato sauce with peas and little crunchy poppadoms. And as Thursday was a drinking night - it was good soakage for later on. I've tried many recipes to re-create the Govindas Paneer, which I will blog in the future - I promise - my mum loves it.

Here I decided to try a different paneer recipe. For once I didn't fry it first in an attempt to see if it would come out softer. It didn't, but this may have been due to the fact that this didn't have a huge amount of sauce, though it worked beautiful with the sweet onions and the rich creamy nut sauce. I must try it with chicken sometime.

Paneer Butter Masala

Paneer - packet, cubed

Onions - 3 big, chopped as finely as you can

Tomatoes - 2 big

Ginger 1 inch grated

Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Medium curry masala powder - 1
Red chili powder - 1 tsp

Turmeric powder - a tsp

Cashew nuts - 2 tbsp, grind to paste - and then a few for garnish

Mustard seeds – a table spoon
Ghee - two desert spoons
Cream - 1 tbsp (optional)

Fresh coriander leaves - chopped, to serve

Heat the ghee in a pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the onions and fry for 2 mins. Then add the ginger, and the cashewnut paste. Saute for another 2 mins.
Now add the pureed tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric, curry masala and salt. Stir well and leave on simmer for about 5 mins.

Next, add the paneer and let cook. If the gravy seems too thick, add little water and keep cooking for about 5-6 mins.
Remove from heat, mix in the fresh cream if using and garnish with chopped coriander leaves and a few cashews.

I served this with some spiced rice, a tomato dahl, naan and also some mango chutney. I may have to wean myself off the mango chutney - I'm a bit addicted.

Coconut Question

How do you grate a coconut?

A mystery? I have no idea you’re supposed to get inside these things without either a machete or without causing yourself serious damage. My friend Kate is back from London the weekend , so I’m having her over to stay with another friend Ciara - so curry and wine is on the menu. I went to do a shop in Madina on Parnell Street, apart from Asa Foetida and fenugreek – if not here then where?

So two of the recipes included freshly grated coconut – and I picked one up for 69c – bargain. Got it home and opened it by throwing it as high as I could onto the pavings in the garden. Sad, I lost some of the coconut water from inside but I still got a good drink out of it – reminded me of holidays.

Then I tried breaking it apart further with my hands- too hard. Then with a knife – too scary. I proceeded to scoop it out with various knifes and spoons – so any advice welcome. I’ve seen some recipes that include frozen grated coconut, so maybe this is a better option

Carrot & Corriander Salad

Not one to blog the odd lunches I cook myself sometimes, but this one turned out so well that I really wanted to write it down. So in the morning as I have my coffee and breakfast sometimes I knock together my lunch for that day. This is a good and filling lunch that you can make in ten minutes or so, Bulgar wheat is a tasty and fast way to bulk up some light dishes.

I large carrot grated -grated

A handful of fresh coriander

1 clove of garlic - crushed
¾ cup of Bulgar wheat

Olive Oil

Mustard Seeds

White Wine Vinegar

A handful of cashew nuts

Some toasted almond flakes

A small handful of raisins

Cook the Bulgar in twice it’s volume of water – cooks in about 5 mins or so.

Put a layer of chopped coriander at the bottom of your lunch container (I use an old soup pot – the cylindrical plastic ones – with the pop top lids – so no leaking in my handbag)
Then add the almonds and then the chopped carrot.

When the Bulgar is cooked stir in the olive oil, salt, pepper, mustard seeds, cashew nuts, raisins and vinegar, mix well and allow to cool for as long as you have till you leave the house.

When it was time for lunch I mixed it all together, and popped it in the microwave – it was thoroughly delicious, a little squeeze of an orange would have made it divine, I’m sure it would be equally as good cold.