Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010


So I guess shit happens. This weeks cookery lesson got bumped off the timetable. Can’t say I’m not disappointed! But such is life….here’s hoping for next week ….

So instead of being creative in the kitchen I got creative with a sewing machine. I went into Topshop the other week to have a look around for a full length black skirt. I found one but I was a bit dismayed at the price. This is the problem when you’re able to make stuff; you pick something up in a shop gawp at the price and instantly state with defiance ‘for gods sake I could make that myself.’ Your caught in a bind. In the first instance one goes without things due to reluctance to pay stupid money for something ‘I could make myself’. In the second instance one is too lazy to make things that one could make for oneselves. And so in an effort to end this cycle I trawled through the eh… three good fabric shops that are open in Dublin on a Saturday. Murphy Sheehys was stop number one, Blarney Woolen Mills stop two and as always Hickey’s came up trumps for stop number three. Third time lucky etc.

So the sewing machine is in my mother’s house. So I had to drive out to Swords to complete my mission. I don’t want to hear from anyone calculations of time wasted looking for fabric x petrol money to Swords x time spent making the item = skirt was cheaper in Topshop. Where is the rewarding activity in that?!

So moving on. The skirt was very easy to make. I vaguely measured by hips and chopped the fabric into two pieces: width of hips x length. Sewed up the two sides and attached a piece of elastic to the top. Really could not have been simpler. I didn’t even have to put a hem on it.

It has yet to make its debut in the world. Tried to wear it the other night but the rain scuppered my plans pretty quickly. Anybody who wants to try it for themselves and wants more techy details of my method just ask. Here’s a not very good picture for your perusal.

Friday, March 26, 2010

a good idea?

So what is about the combination of good food + good wine equalling great ideas? I wonder how many creations, inventions, ideas for great novels came in the flush of in vino veritas? Well over dinner and a subsequent coffee my brother and I thrashed out, in my opinion, a pretty great idea: The Saturday Project. The project is: one day a week (surprisingly enough it’s Saturday) we get together to make simple, beautiful, delicious food. Brian will teach me how to make all the delicious dinners of my dreams! We’re going to use fresh seasonal produce that’s readily available. I’ll even put up the pictures at the end of the session so that you can see for yourself how hard we will be working!

For those of you who don’t know Brian is my big brother. Chef extraordinaire, he has worked in some hardcore kitchens including Bruno’s and Chapter One in Dublin and The Bistro in The Plaza Hotel New York. You will currently find him doing his thing in the fantastic Juniors on Bath Avenue. If you haven’t gone I can’t recommend it highly enough. If one of their lunch time sandwiches doesn’t fill you there’s definitely something wrong with you. Although I have heard that some of the Irish Rugby team have been known to have two. I can’t even get through one!

So if your doing nothing else this Saturday afternoon/evening check out my blog for some mouth watering pictures and tips!

Monday, March 22, 2010

the problem with being single ...

…. it would seem, lies with other people not me. I have absolutely no problem with being single. Other people however feel the need to offer their condolences. No strike me, their condescension. ‘Oh it happens when you expect it least’, ‘Oh you’d never know who you’d meet’, ‘Oh it will hit you sideways’.

Really is that so.

I am starting to say ‘I’m not interested,‘ ‘Really I don’t care’, so much that I’m starting to come across as the lady doth protest too much. But I will say it again, that right now at this moment in time- I. Don’t. Care.

Look, I’m not against love. When it’s good it really is amazing and when it turns sour …. well we all know I don’t have to spell it out. Been there, have the t-shirt and its lying in the bottom of my wardrobe somewhere.

I can’t understand why people feel the need to reassure me. Reassure me of what? Even me mother is at it! But I suppose mothers will be mothers.

I never swaned around as a kid with a pillow case aka veil on my head. I was strutting around my sitting room being an important high flying executive who travelled the world and was really important-did I say important already?

Ok so I got the travelling around the world thing but I’m still working on the important thing.

God forbid that you would actually enjoy hanging out by yourself; enjoying a book in sweet uninterrupted peace and quiet. Or go shopping without a person straggling 5 feet behind you. Or even go to the cinema and enjoy the whole tub of pop corn to yourself-no sharing that’s right you never have to share when your single. Ahh I said it, it’s out there and its good. No sharing the bed, no sharing the food, no sharing the wine, no sharing desert, no sharing the bills, no sharing the cleaning, no constant sharing of personal space …… ahh sweet selfishness. I am selfish and I am proud and I plan on enjoying every sweet minute of it. Because who knows things might just change and I might get swept off my feet sideways, of course, and it will be when I least expect it, of course.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the mammy day!

So my spring inspired food buzz continues. And it was well appointed for Mother’s Day. Mam’s, well they’re pretty great. Mine certainly is. I suppose it’s only now as I get older that I appreciate her more and more. The headaches, the sacrifice, the craziness, one year blending into the next in a sea of music lessons, ballet, clubs, day trips ……..

As a small token of gratitude for the mammy and on the special mammy day of the year (not that I limit my displays of gratitude to one day of the year you understand) but I suppose it’s a good excuse to go all out. And in my family the reasoning for most things is ’any excuse for a party’…..

I designed a little ‘heralding of spring and sun shine’ menu. I thought I would serve the meal with a new world Chardonnay. I thought a nice tropical fruit, medium body offering would complement the meal quite nicely. Then Dad and his wine ways knocked me out of the park with his ‘06 Grand Vin de Bourgogne Macon-Uchizy. It went it well enough …. I suppose!!! My Chilian offering followed quite meekly behind it.

Here was the menu

Starter: Gaspacho served with a cucumber and mint brioche sandwich

Main: Hake with coriander and prosciutto served with an orange, feta and toasted pine nut salad.

Desert: Beetroot and chocolate cake.

What? Yes you read that right. Beetroot and chocolate cake. I was just as surprised as you are. My first sampling was in Geneva. Made by the fair hand of Nicole; the sister of lovely Lara. It was of course presented and a guessing game of name the ingredients ensued. Of course I couldn’t name the elusive ingredient and I won’t lie, I nearly fell off the chair when it was revealed. I had to try making it myself.

Nicole served hers with a very yummy lemon cream cheese frosting which cut through the richness of the cake nicely. I however miscalculated my cream cheese and used it all up in the brioche sandwiches and so I served my cake topped with flowers!

Here’s my recipe. (You will note the very low fat content, so feel free to eat twice as much!)

Chocolate and Beetroot fudge cake.

250g dark chocolate

3 eggs

250g light muscovado sugar

½ teaspoon Vanilla Essence (I used the one with seeds in it)

4 tablespoons honey

80g self raising flour, sifted if your feeling extravagant!

pinch of salt

50g ground almonds

250g cooked beetroot, grated (NOT IN VINEGAR! very NB)

splash of strong coffee

some melted butter (to taste, but can probably be left out altogether. I put in about ½ an ounce)

1. preheat fan oven to 140 and grease a tin (I used the only one I have, a bread loaf tin!)

2. melt the chocolate and allow to cool.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, essence and honey with an electric whisk until they’re lightened in colour and are a bit fluffy. About 2-3 minutes.

4. Gently fold in the flour, ground almonds and salt until fully incorporated.

5. Dap the grated (or whizzed up with a food processor) beetroot with kitchen paper to remove some of the excess liquid. Fold in the beetroot, cooled chocolate, coffee and butter (if adding) until fully incorporated.

6. Pour the mixture in your tin. Put in the oven for an hour. After that cover it with tinfoil and put it back in the oven for another 40-50 minutes. Keep an eye on it at this point. If you feel like it needs longer than keep it in there! Though it’s a fudge cake and will be moist anyway. I allowed it to cool a bit and served it straight from the tin. While I insisted everyone play the guess the ingredients game.

Friday, March 12, 2010

cheese and the aftermath!

Me and the lovely Lara took ourselves off on another little travel adventure. This time it was a long weekend in Geneva. We stayed with her sister, husband and kids. Let’s face it all families are crazy and when the family isn’t ours it seems even more crazy! It is the only crazy place we can be our own crazy selves. A place that we defend defiantly to the bitter end and then of course moan about.

The next generation has not yet begun in my family. I am always surrounded by adults completely removed from the world of children. They are in some ways an abstract idea of something that may or may not happen to be in the hopefully distant future. When one finds oneself in the middle of bed times and getting up times and fights and playing and crying and stories and screaming; it is a stressful little place to be in. But of course everyone says its different when its your own. I’m reserving judgment for another decade.

Geneva / Annemasse offered us skiing, a hammam, a bad Red Cross Museum experience and a lot, I mean a lot of cheese and bread. Between Fondue and Raclette and Fromage et Jambon sambos I don’t think I can eat cheese again for a long time.

After I caught up on some sleep I headed out to the supermarket and stock piled fresh fruit and veg. I made one of my new favourite dishes and felt very virtuous. I shall share it with you so you can also feel virtuous. I would also like to add that its very yummy!!!

Marinated Cauliflower (adapted from a Mollie Katzen recipe)

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 head of cauliflower, into bit sized trees

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped/minced

salt and pepper to taste

2 spring onions, chopped finely

your favourite dried or fresh chopped herbs to taste (I used basil and parsley)

1-2 carrotts grated or chopped finely

1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1 heaped teaspoon sesame seeds

1- combine oil, water, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and cauliflower in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until cauliflower is al dente.

2- Allow to cool to room temperature. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Mix in well and serve! Feel free to balance the virtuous-ness of the vegetable by dipping crusty bread into the yummy marinate/dressing for some quality soakage.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the tyranny of the telly

‘…. if you’re just starting out as a writer, you could do worse than strip your television’s electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it back into the wall. See what blows, and how far. Just an idea.’ Stephen King ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’.

Seriously I don’t know how I had time to do anything before I kind of gave up watching television.

I have so much time now. Sometimes I don’t even know what to do with all. There is life after work: a whole 4 hours of it-or even more!

This last while I’ve spent most of my evenings partaking in the following activities (not all at once though): exercising, cooking, writing, listening to good music, watching good DVDs, cleaning, doing laundry, reading, doing crosswords, listening to the arts show on RTE Radio One….. wooah there nelly-that’s definitely getting dangerously close to a land where parents exist …. moving quickly on ….

I say kind of because I haven’t given it up completely. There are, of course, a few exceptions to even the most stringent of rules. Sometimes you want nothing better than to plonk your ass down and goggle. Bubble gum for the mind and all that. I even found myself watching Winning Streak one Saturday night not so long ago. That was not so much on the rule breaking side of things and more on the sheer desperation side. Even when the only stations that you have are RTE1 and RTE2 you say to yourself ‘I am going to watch television now and, damn it, I’m going to watch whatever is on.’ But is one ever able to deal with the associated guilt: ‘I really should be doing ….’, ‘I still have to do the….’ or ‘I said I’d do the. …’. Curses to stupid television sucking you in at any opportunity it has. Fight back people-fight back against the tyranny! If we stand united we can actually get things done!

One of my mission statements items was to bend that stupid long finger of mine. I have a horrible habit of putting things on there-nay, putting things hanging off the tip of the nail. Particularly writing. God forbid I would actually spend time doing what I enjoy.

Why is it that the things that are best for us are the hardest things to do?

(Winning streak clip for those of you who don’t know what it is-you need to see it to appreciate the level of desperation!!! )
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