Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chocolate Pots

Or 'I'm moving house and only have use of a microwave' pots!

These are the most wonderful little desserts that are deceptively made in your microwave in 25-30 seconds. Sadly the only photo Ihave was when I attempted to make a kind of baked Alaska version, This didn't work and the ice-cream just melted and escaped over the top.

I've been moving recently and Delo shared this recipe which he invented in a previous career as a bar-tender! They can be knocked up with a few store cupboard ingredients and some milk and cream. Maybe one to keep in store for this festive season.

Ingredients - for one
2 oreos
1 heaped teaspoon of horlicks
1 shot glass of half and half (1/2 milk 1/2 cream)

Blend together the oreos and the horlicks. You can use a blender - or the end of a rolling pin in a cup (which I did). Then combine with the half and half. Put into a small microwaveable dish  - like a ramekin or I used espresso cups. 

Microwave at full power for 34 seconds - if you're using a 750watt microwave. There will be a little experimenting here to see what suits your machine best. Then serve right away with a dollop of cold vanilla ice-cream.

The colour is so dark - it makes me wonder what the hell is in oreos. Don't let this picture fool you - they can look very pretty if you're more careful than me and don;t throw ice-cream in the microwave. I'm not one to use ready made ingredients like this often, but when needs must. This really is a super little 'cheats' desert.

In other exciting news I'm heading to the Cooks Academy in the new year to get some proper tuition in how to be a massive food mastermind. I can't wait, if anyone has some spare chef tunics lying around all donations will be gladly accepted.

Happy Christmas
Lu x

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Salon Des Saveurs

Perks of the job....

Salon Des Saveurs is Conrad Gallagher's latest venture, a gorgeous restaurant on Aungier st. offering tasting menus with matching wine accompaniments. I have wanted to try a tasting menu for a very long time, the combination of loads of different little dishes sounded perfect for someone like me whos has perpetual food envy when eating out. I never seem to pick the right thing, so a tasting menu takes away the dilemma of choosing. So, when out of the blue and into our inbox came a very generous invitation to sample the delights of Salon Des Saveurs, I made sure that I didn't have any lunch in preparation for an epic feed. Sometimes being a food blogger has rewards other than an ever expanding waist line! Unfortunately Lu couldn't make it so I brought along Pam, Lu and I's mutual best friend, who took the snaps below on her iphone. The dining room was warm and stylish, but unfortunately the moody lighting and lack of camera flash made for some not very good pics. You will just have to use your imaginations for the details, and trust me when I say the presentation was gorgeous. Made me feel like Greg Wallace on masterchef!

The starter was Parsnip and Vanilla Soup with Langoustine, or Dublin Bay Prawn, as the chef Matthew also described it. The soup was amazingly silky and perfumed with a hint of vanilla. This is a trick I will definitely be trying in future. My experiments with parsnip and pear soup are documented elsewhere on this blog but this version was much more stylish, I could have eaten a massive bowl but it came beautifully presented in a tiny eggcup-like pice of crockery. Just as well really as it meant we saved room for the delights that followed.

Second course was Oxtail & Foie Gras with Apricot, Grape, Fried Baby Spinach, Hazelnut Aioli. The foie gras looked like a cross section of bone with the oxtail as the marrow and it was utterly delicious. It was served with a very sweet wine, Gewurztraminer Grand Cru from Alsace, which was almost like a desert wine. I am not usually a big fan of foie gras but this one was an exception, and went really nicely with all the little nutty accompaniments

Third up was a Risotto of Asparagus served with Confit of Duck and Arbafura Broth. This dish was heaven! My two all time favourites, asparagus risotto and confit duck together at last! The duck was salty, juicy, and a perfect contrast to the creamy risotto. I will definitely be trying this one out for myself at home.

As if we weren't full enough after that, the next course was Daube of Beef with Celeriac Mousseline, Salsfy Chips, Pearl Onions, Butternut, Parsley Hollandaise. This beef was so slowly cooked it just melted and fell apart to the touch of a fork. Beautiful. I love braised meat but you would really need patience to cook something like this, I am thinking about investing in a slow cooker to have warming winter dishes like this ready and waiting for me when I get home from work. This dish was perfectly paired with a gutsy red Vin de Pays de la Loire.

Finally, we had a Tasting of Desserts - Chocolate Brulee, Lemon Ice-Cream, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble, Ice Lemon Soufflé, Spiced Lemon Cake. The lemon ice-cream was amazingly sharp and not to everyones taste but I loved it. It was really refreshing with the richness of the other desserts but I couldn't figure out how they made it without the ice-cream curdling with all that lemon juice. Again, many tiny dishes and a real treat, like eating dessert at a doll's tea party!

We left full and very happy, so thanks to Rebecca and all at Salon Des Saveurs for an amazing experience!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chicken Rice

Inspired by a meal I never ate in Singapore

On my travels in Thailand there were some anti government demonstrations that closed down all the airports. I had to travel overland through Thailand and Malaysia to get to Singapore to make a flight. The trip down was great fun and met some great people along the way, who were all in a similar position to me. So really felt like a bonus as I got to visit Kuala Lumpur and see parts of Malaysia. Also I got to visit my friend Alan who was living in Singapore at the time. This is the most incredible city for food - every corner is overflowing with amazing places to eat, every kind of food imaginable - super extra bonus food!

Alan's friends insisted on taking us to eat 'Chicken Rice' that she'd always had growing up. After some driving we arrived at the place only to discover it was closed, we found something else equally delicious to eat in an old golf club. The idea of the dish however never left me. This recipe is based on what I think chicken rice would have been like!

1 chicken
2 onions - peeled and halved
3 carrots - peeled and halved
2 sticks of celery - halved
1 thumbs length of ginger finely sliced
6 cloves of garlic gently crushed
1 red chili finely sliced
2 cups of rice (I used basmati) but any fragrant rice would be good
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 scallions finely sliced

1) Put the chicken, onions, carrots, celery, ginger, garlic and chili in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer gently covered for about 2 hours.

2) Remove chicken and veg from the pot. Discard pieces of ginger, celery and most of the garlic.

3) Add the rice into the stock then bring to the boil. Simmer until the rice is cooked. 

4) Meanwhile shred the chicken, and chop up the carrots.

5) When the rice is nearly cooked add back in 4/5s chicken, carrots and add in the soy sauce. Serve scattered with some scallions and the remaining shredded chicken.

Perfect for a grey wintry day - oh yes! This dish is only a little Asian but very delicious

Sunday, November 14, 2010

French Onion Soup

Oniony Goodness

Onions and garlic both have great medicinal properties. What better way to enjoy them coming into colds and flu season, than in a rich and dark french onion soup and topped with melty guyere - in case you were feeling too virtuous!  

A big thanks again to Des Moriarty for the lovely photos

Serves 4
About 8 medium size onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp sugar
½ pint white wine
1 pint beef stock
1 tsp worcester sauce
1 small baguette 
Grated Guyere cheese or cheddar or conte

Peel the onions and chop them in half from root to stem. Then slice them thinly into semi-circles. Finely chop the garlic. Melt some butter and olive oil in a large pot and fry the onions and garlic with the sugar until everything has started to caramelise and turn a nice brown colour about 15 minutes.

Add the wine and stock and simmer for about 40 mins on a low heat. Add Worcester sauce, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. When done, cut the baguette into slices, 2 or 3 per person and flash them quickly under the grill to toast on both sides. Grate the cheese. Ladle the hot soup into flameproof bowls and float the toast on top of the soup. Top the toast with the grated cheese and place under the hot grill until the cheese is melter and a bit bubbly. Serve with plenty of black pepper.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Clam Linguine

Warm and clammy

I can't believe how long I have left it to blog this recipe! This was the main course at the dinner party we had back in August and its now November, shame on me! Lucy has been holding the fort on the blog front recently as I seem to be going through a cooking drought, and have, embarrassingly, cooked a number of things recently that were NOT Delicious!

this recipe definitely is not one of those. This was perhaps one of the most delicious things I have cooked with pasta and I think blogging it now might help me get my food-mojo back! Onwards and upwards!

Recent Clam related activity: I was in California in September and when in San Francisco sampled their famous clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. The bowl was not really my thing, but the chowder was spectacular. Then in Monterey I ate 'steamers', a bowl of steamed clams, which made me want to cook with clams again and reminded me that I still had not blogged this recipe. I also like saying the word 'clams' in an American accent... 'Claaaaaaaayms'... oh the hilarity!

Clam linguine (Serves 10!)

1kg fresh clams ( i got ours at Kish fish near Smithfield)
10 shallots, finely chopped
white wine
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
500ml cream
100 grams butter
glug olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
enough linguine (i used a packet and a half!!)
Parmesan cheese
freshly chopped parsley

Melt the butter along with the olive oil in a large pot. Add the shallots and garlic to the butter, cover and saute for about 10 mins or until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, start cooking your linguine. add the (washed) clams to the shallots and pour in 2 wine glasses of white wine. Simmer for 5 -8 minutes or until all of the clams have opened. If there are any that have not opened, throw them away as they could make you and your guests sick (I was a bit paranoid about this happening!). Add the lemon juice at this point. When the linguine is cooked, drain it but reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the cooked linguine into the pot with the clams and mix it well. If it looks a bit to dry or starts to stick together add a little of the cooking water from the linguine. Garnish with chopped parsley and some lemon wedges but serve the Parmesan on the side as there is a school of thought that says Parmesan should not be served with seafood pasta dishes, weird huh?

This was absolutely delicious and went down a storm with our 10 guests. Its also nice for the 'stick a pot on the table and let everyone dig in' style of dinner parties.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tomato Chutney

This ain't no Ballymaloe Relish - they've got that secret recipe in a secret vault, inside a pelican, inside a safe, inside an iceberg in the North Pole! 

But this is a lovely relish - If you can resist the temptation of testing some, in the one month it has to be left to mature on the shelves. I made this after I worked an incredible week of 16/18 hour days - and thought my brain was inside out. Producing a large quantity of lovely things in jars was very soothing to my mind.

1kg ripe tomatoes chopped
450g white onions finely chopped
6 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 red chillies
3 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 tsp black mustard seeds
4 cloves
4cm piece fresh ginger, grated
300g sultanas
200g dark brown sugar
600ml malt vinegar
couple of sprigs of rosemary
10 cloves
Olive Oil
8 jars & lids - sterilised - I boiled them in a big pan of water, to clean and sterilise them. Then I baked them in a hot oven for 15/20 minutes just before they were ready to be filled. 
Grease proof paper
Rubber bands
Pretty lids
A big huge pot
Throw everything except the vinegar into your huge pot. Then add half the vinegar. Season. Bring this slowly to simmer - giving a good stir every now and then, to help dissolve sugar evenly. 

 Simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in the rest of the vinegar. Cook for another 30 minutes, stirring often until thick. 

Remove jars from hot oven and spoon chutney into them. Allow to cool.

Place a disc of waxed paper on top of the chutney and seal with airtight lids or Cellophane and rubber bands. Store for a month to allow time to mature. It should keep for up 6 months. Keep in the fridge after opening and use within 1-2 months.

This is great with cheese, I won't lie and say that I've eaten it with anything else but cheese at this stage. It would be wonderful with cold meat. macaroni cheese, pies or cold plate. Also great little things to give away as gifts. I might knock up a special Christmas batch soon - you have been warned friends and family! 

AND once again a big thanks to the lovely Des Moriarty for the pictures! 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lemon Yogurt Drizzle Cake

The Sasa Special
I found this wonderful recipe for Lemon Cake on Sasasunakku blog. It's a lovely witty blog - with some great recipes, this is the first one I've tried and it was amazing. Thanks for letting me use your recipe on the blog Sasa. There is a large amount of yogurt in the cake - making it wonderfully moist, and relatively good for you! Hurray. I made it in some little ramekins - and they popped out small and cute. I followed her quantities and it made 5 large portions (I'm greedy!) I used Glenisk Greek yogurt, I doubt you can use low-fat yogurt, but don't take my word for it.

Thanks to the lovely Des Moriarty for the great pictures! Aren't they amazing?? We had a fun day of food photography over in my kitchen. Think we got some beautiful and delicious shots. Check out his other work here.

I'm putting my neck out here - but I think I prefer lemon cake to chocolate cake ..... what d'ya reckon?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Moroccan Lamb with Prunes, in a harissa spiced squash with pomegrante bulgur and mint yogurt

Cheffactor Entry
Here it is! In all it's glory, what I have strangely decided to call my signature dish, though I've never cooked it before. I'm delighted with how it's turned out, I just hope that enough people vote me though so I can get to cook it for the judges in the final...... Fingers crossed! If you're not familiar with Cheffactor, Cully and Sully are offering the winner a 12 week cookery course at Ballymaloe Cookery School - so if you haven't voted yet click here and give me your seal of approval. Thanks - I really appreciate it.

A big thanks to the lovely and talented Des Moriarty for taking these pictures. Head on over here to see some more of his work.

So I have no idea where I came up with this recipe from - possibly an amalgamation of many things - Tagine, Halloween, squashes and the season that's in it.

Serves 6-8
For the meat
1.5 lbs of fresh minced Irish lamb - I use FX Buckley's on Moore Street
6 shallots - finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic - minced
thumb sized piece of ginger grated
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of coriander seed
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
2 teaspoon of cinnamon
3 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
small bunch coriander - chopped
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tablespoons of of tomato puree
2 handfuls of prunes - roughly chopped

For the squash
2 butternut squashes - halved - seeds removed
Harissa paste - 1/2 teaspoon for each half

For the bulgur wheat
2 cup of bulgur
4 cups chicken stock
1 red onion - finely chopped
7/8 stamens of saffron
A big pinch of sumac
2 big pinches of turmeric
2 teaspoons of mustard seeds (I used black)
1 pomegranate - seeds removed

For the dressing
6 tablespoons of plain yogurt (I used Glenisk - cause it's gorgeous and Irish!)
1 big handful of fresh mint leaves

First half and de-seed the squashes. Retain the seeds if you want to make a tasty snack by roasting them in the over - recipe to follow. Rub a little olive oil over them and pop into a pre-heated oven at Gas mark 7.

Put the saffron seeds into a bowl with a teaspoon of bowling water -  crush gentle to release the flavour and colour. Bring 2 cups of stock to the boil. Add the bulghur wheat to the saffron and combine. Next pour over the stock. Cover with cling film and allow to sit for 30 minutes to cook.

Then dry fry the cumin and coriander in a hot pan until you start to release their flavours - you'll smell it! Then remove to a pestle and mortar and give them good bash. Then fry the shallots in a little olive oil, after a few minutes add in the garlic, after another few minutes add in the minced ginger and cook until soft. Stir in the cumin and coriander. Then add in the meat. Cook this until it's browned. Stir in the paprika, cinnamon, tomato puree and tin of tomatoes. Give a good stir, then add in the prunes and pine nuts. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook covered for 25 minutes.

Remove squashes from the oven when the meat is ready. Remove a scoop or two of the flesh to make the hole bigger. Smear over the cut side - the harissa paste. Stir the coriander into the meat and then pop into the squash. Put this in the oven and bake at gas mark 5 for approx 20 minutes. Until the top of the squash is becoming a rich deep brown.

While this is in the oven prepare the bulgur wheat. Fry the onion in a little oil until soft. Stir in the turmeric, mustard seeds, and sumac. Then stir in the cook bulgur wheat, and gently heat it through.

Remove squashes form the oven. Just before you serve - remove from bulgur from the heat and stir in the pomegranate seeds, they'll loose their nice jewel colour with heat. I used a small coffee cup to make this into pretty mounds, and served alongside the cooked squash and drizzled yogurt sauce. Serve some more of the dressing in a side dish should anyone want more.

Thanks for reading and for voting, I really appreciate everyone's help on this. I lost my job last week so this would just be an amazing opportunity to become and amazingly accomplished chef (that last bit is called the sob-factor!)

Lucy xx

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Connemara Adventures

The Wild West

False Bay
The world of Lola-lu’s Kitchen has been quiet online of late, but having been busy this summer with work (both of us) we’ve been taking our holidays late. Lola was off on a Las Vegas California adventure - while I headed to the Wild West (of Ireland!)

Here’a few food highlights from my travels in the van with Delo from around Connemara and Mayo. We’d the most amazing time, staying in some beautiful remote spots with the most incredible views. Travelling in September found some of the more popular spots quite deserted.

We caught and cooked some fish (not the tastiest fish, but we caught it, so by god we ate it!) We gained some fishing advice from an old fisherman on the pier, which gave us the boost we needed after fishing fruitlessly for several hours.
The Old Fishing Hole
Getting accustomed to cooking in the dark!
The Connemara Smokehouse  - sitting on the farthest reaches of Ballyconnelly. Populated with a healthy population of seagulls. They run tasting tours with advance notice. The place has a puzzling small chimney for a 'smoke' house! We just called in on Monday morning and bought some fresh organic smoked salmon, which we had for breakfast on brown bread with coffee. It was divine – a lovely subtle smoked salmon that melts in the mouth. They also have a special smoked tuna – maybe not ideal for breakfast but I’ll pick some up next time I’m there.
Breakfast is served
Smokehouse View and the Sea
After a long cycle the following day we bumped into the old fisherman unloading a small currach on the pier, having spent several hours at sea that morning.  I asked him if he’s had a good day and his response was “ah everyday is a good day for me now’ which was just such a wonderful sentiment – expressed so genuinely. After a little chat he asked would we like some crab claws. Of course we said yes and he produced a large crate of crabs and gave us a huge pot full of claws for our dinner, and looked for nothing in return. So happily we set off from the pier and off to False Bay – a spot where my mum used to take us to play in the waves, with huge basket of tuna and egg sandwiches!
False Bay - Ballyconnelly

We parked up for the night in beautiful sunny solitude. After  a swim in the waves we settled down for the night. We had ‘Chilli con Sausage’ for dinner. Like chilli con carne – but with sausages instead of mince.
Van Cooking
Van Cooking

Van Drinking

Long Distance Cooking
Chilli Con Sausage
After a nice long evening with a fire and a clear sky. We set a pot of crab claws boiling on the fire. After boiling for about 15 minutes, we set about the them. Words will fail me when I try to describe how amazing these were. Wonderful and tender and buttery, melt in your mouth. We added not a thing to these, and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t be improved on in any way. Thank you lovely fisherman, I’m pretty sure this is a food experience I’ll never forget.
Clab Claws by Day
Clab Claws by Night

We stayed with Delo's relations on their farm in Moycullen in  Galway. They have tons of chickens and we ate some of the most delicious eggs, bright orange yokes, and tasted incredible. Renewed my ambition to own my own chickens asap - they'll love my little balcony honestly!
Freshest Scrambled Eggs
Omie Island - Access via sandbank. Minutes later up to our axels in sand with the tide rising! Not funny, got towed out by some friendly druids, not a happy 20 minutes of my life
After nearly loosing Mister (the van) in the sea – we wished him a happy 40th birthday with  a lovely apple cake from Walsh’s Bakery in Cliften, Galway. This is an incredible shop with a huge variety of breads and cakes. We sampled some great bread rolls, a baileys éclair (amazing!) this cake and a good hearty farmhouse loaf. I would highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area, a really top class bakery. 


Front View - Spiddal
Killary Harbour View Mayo - nice spot!
View from Diamond Hill - Connemara National Park
Then as part of Cliften Arts week there was a performance, with glass seahorses suspended from a crane, and about a hundred kids all dressed in costumes of lights. There was dancing, fire juggling, fire hula-hooping, a fire breathing horse, and then a parade of multi-coloured castle towers! An amazing night for a birthday. 
Cliften Arts Week
Detail of Glowing Castle Tower
Master of Ceremonies