Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Cake

Having seen and learned all of that it would have been imprudent to arrive at the family home on Easter Sunday with anything other that a cake with some serious wow factor. So I went all out. I started making the Orange Peel on Friday afternoon ....
It was an Orange and Almond cake with Chocolate Ganache frosting and Juicy Orange Peel.

Ballymaloe Cookery School

With a few days off work in the pre-Easter week I headed off to Ballymaloe Cookery School to get my bake on. Had it booked for a while and was feeling non-plussed in the extended run up to it. But when the day finally rolled around I was really excited. I was so excited I even had my car serviced to make sure I got down to Cork in one piece. Luckily punty got me there in spite of there being a very distinct smell of burning oil which started in the hinterland of Portlaoise and persisted until the N25 in Cork. I opened the window and sailed forth. I would like to be able to wax lyrical about driving through the rolling hills and soaking up the Irish countryside but let's be honest motor way driving in boring beyond belief and by hour three my threshold was being severly tested.

Thankfully it was worth the wait. The sun shone pretty much the whole time I was there making sure I was able to eat breakfast on the terrace every morning, not bad for Cork in April!

Darina and Pamela demonstrated on day one; simple cakes, biscuits and tarts. Note the cons!

Then it was into the kitchen to try our own hand at it. I made Raspberry jam, Anzac Biscuits and a Roast Pepper and Wild Garlic Pesto tart.

Day two we looked at more comlpex cakes and treaty things! I tried my hand at Ottolenghi Hazelnut and Cinnamon meringues, Lemon Curd, Lemon Polenta Cake and Guyere and Chive Scones.

While I was there I even treated myself to a 7 course meal in the House. 7 courses you may wonder...well wonder no more 1: Salad with wild leaves and edible floweres, Mascarpone (which had a fancy name that I now forget) with Asparagus, Monkfish with Champ and Spinach, Cheese board (Gubeen and Cashel Blue), Desert (Lemon Drizzle cake and Chocolate Rum Roulade), Coffee and Petit Fours (Truffle and Marshmallow). All in all a belt busting meal.

My view from the window of the drawing room where I enjoyed a glass of wine pre dinner. It was at this point that I rang people to gloat.

The drive home was equally boring and also not entirely comfortable due to a case of the severly shrinking jeans. Ahem.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Made this originally for the Mammy Day feast and it was yummier than expected so here it appears for lunches. If your feeling decedent it would be really good with any blue cheese of your choice crumbled over it. Again I used my slow cooker for this (it’s just so handy) but it can also be done on the hob; just bring the stock to the boil with the rice and stuff and keep an eye on it, adding more water if needed until the rice is cooked. This could be made with any combination of nuts and fruit; whatever your favourite is, or for me, whatever is in the press!

Pistachio and Apricot Pilaf with Roasted Squash

½ Squash,
1 Leek, sliced finely,
2 Handfuls roasted and salted Pistachios,
1 Handful toasted sunflower seeds,
5oz Easy-cook Brown Rice,
1 Handful Dried Apricots, chopped,
¾ Litre Vegtable Stock,
3 Cloves,
1 Bay leaf,
1 Small Cinnamon stick,
1 Tablespoon Tomato Puree.

- Get the squash into the oven first. Peel and slice, drizzle over a little olive oil and roast until cooked, about 20 minutes at 180. Once done, remove and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile saute the leeks, until soft. Stir in the rice, spices, nuts, seeds and apricots then the puree and the stock, bring to the boil and transfer to the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 2 ½ hours.
- When the rice is done add in the squash and remove the bay leaf and the cinnamon stick (feel free to try and fish out the cloves too but I never bother). Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daily Notelet

So I have this very cheesey calender in work that has little notes printed on each day and I can't decide whether todays vignette is very optimisitc or very sad :
"You only live once, but if you live right, once is enough."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


When I was making the fancy Mother's Day feast I was counting on there being plenty of left overs to see me through at least a half a week of lunches and dinners. I don't know why it surprised me that there was barely enough for two dinners! So it was back into the kitchen last night ....

Broccoli Salad

1 Head Broccoli,
1 Tin Chick Peas, drained,
2 Tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced,
2 Spring onions, sliced,
1 small packet Pancetta,
1 block Feta Cheese,
1 Bunch Coriander, roughly chopped,
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika.

- Fry off the Pancetta and Chick Peas with the Smoked Paprika until nice and brown, leave to cool.
- Meanwhile cut up the Broccoli into bite sized florets and steam for a few minutes, or just long enough to take the bit out of them, leave to cool.
- Then just combine everything-it's that straightforward! Well, I like to keep the Feta separate and curmble it over the salad as I need it-just to keep everything fresh.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Mother's Day

Here is the woman herself surveying the feast.

The low down:
48 hour marinated Achiote Pork Tenderloin with Red Apple and Salad,
Apricot and Pistachio Pilaf,
Honey Roasted Squash with Red Grapes, Walnuts and Tipperary Blue Cheese,
Sage Corn Bread,
Peach Cobbler.

The wash down:
Guigal Croze Hermitage, '08.
Whitehaven Pinot Noir, '08.
Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene.

Mini Road Trippin'!

On Saturday we took to the road on the long trek to Drawwwwwwwhadah; to any non Irish citizens read that as Drogheda. Neither Andy nor Ollie had seen the Oliver Plunkett head so we figured there was no better reason to go there. Well that and a newly opened Traders Coffee House that got a rave review in The Irish Times. And well if I'm honest it's any excuse really to drink coffee, chat and eat cake. This place is fantastic. The coffee is to die for; strong and smooth with no bitterness. And the gingerbread cake and scones get many thumbs up. All served up by a rather dishy young man. What better way to spend a morning!

Andy and Ollie in action

Oh what a beautiful morning ...

The macabre specter

It's all in the name

The Goodies

Impromptu picnic and papers
(Andy treated us to Parma Ham, Comte cheese and crackers washed down by his secret recipe iced coffee.)

And homeward bound ...

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