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Archive for April, 2010

Edible Garden

Alas The Delicious Miss Dahl has departed our screens, however as the lady herself would say we cannot be melancholic forever! So I have stumbled across what may be my next best friend on tv, the edible garden on bbc 2. Presented by Alys Fowler who has converted her garden into a treasure chest of edible delights. Tonight was the first night I caught it on tv where Alys gave advise on growing & preserving fruit throughout the year. She had some great ideas on drying sliced apples & then store them in airtight container – as a snack anytime of the year, she set up a free apple press in her local market to make apple juice (presser  made with an electric drill & two car jacks to press out the juice! Must get boyfriend to try that!!) I also loved the idea of making printed fabric from using colourful leaves pressed into natural fabric – it would be beautiful with some coloured leaves & flowers.

I can’t wait to rummage through the garden at the weekend for some of the first fruits of the season, rhubarb is coming along slowly & should be ripe soon.

Will update on my baking activities after the weekend.

Happy Baking

Vick x

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Friday night was great catch up of old friends, I met up with six of the girls I worked with until I moved jobs 2 years ago, while we meet up quiet often we normally take turns to cook, so Friday was a refreshing treat for us all to go out for dinner – we headed to Dillingers in Ranelagh. It was quiet difficult to get a booking as it was so busy however we were squeezed in at 6.15, being the first people in the restaurant, the mirrors made the room seem so spacious, until later when it was full & looked quiet packed!

The decor was really cool, chalkboard walks with the specials written up on the walls, wooden school hall chairs, the house -wines labelled 1 to 5, 1 cheap, 2.ok, 3. good it was quirky, defo something to do at a home version of “come dine with me”, we can all pre-tend to be the next Tom Doorley!

 The food was really good, I had the hoisin duck pancakes with scallions to start, while my friend had Calamari with spicy tomato salsa which she said was fab. The table next to us got a plate of Nachos which looked Massive & tasty! For mains I had the Chicken Kiev with garlic butter, creamed corn which was so creamy & absolutely amazing flavour – must learn how to make this!, served with green beans & new potatoes. While some of the girls had burgers & sea bream. I was absolutely stuffed by the time it came to desserts but shared a bowl of sorbet, it had three scoops of different flavour sorbets, mango, raspberry & apple & lemon – it was lovely & refreshing.

Overall it was lovely place to eat, atmosphere was really nice, staff were pleasant and the bill was really reasonable working out less than €40 each considering we had two bottles of wine, 3 courses & teas and coffees. I would definitely go there again ( and defo hav the creamed corn!) But if you are going book ahead as it does get busy with two sittings a night.

Vick x

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Sunday was another glorious day at the Waterford Festival of Food, full of sunshine & food! Although I didn’t make the Food Trail on the Saturday evening I believe it was a great success, tasting dishes in each Restaurant – Lawlors served sushi & steak cooked on hot stone, while the  Tannery served  watermelon gazapho, prawn risotto & Nude Food – flatbread and humus & tender lamb tagine (apologies if I missed any of the courses – second-hand info). Also available was a surf and turf trail which was in The Moorings Bar, Crews Restaurant & Sea Palace. Sounds wonderful & am defo booking in for that next year.

The Sunday saw the farmers market in Grattan Square, where people thronged to experience the atmosphere and taste all the wonderful delights. There was a great selection of stalls with wonderful smells wafting as you walked toward the town centre, the centre of attention each year is the Hog Roast which is tremendous site, with the pig roasted on a spit from very early hours of the morning until it is tender & succulent.

The selection of stalls included beautifully vibrant cupcakes & cookies from Tara’s handmade foods, cakes and breads selection by Oonagh Poynton of Rhincrew Cookery School, Youghal. Rosies Bagels (Broadway Bagels) also served roasted vegetables on their bagels & there was also a Gluten Free Breads and cakes aswell. If you have a sweet tooth there was also Gallwey’s Chocolates made in Waterford which were yummy!

There was a great choice for lunch from Nude Food with lamb burgers  to O’ Flynns Sausages with sausage sandwiches & foot longs, O’Briens Chop House with roast lamb served in a blaa (traditional soft bread roll, from Waterford) Richmond House had a selection of goats cheese or roasted vegetable tartlets or steak sandwiches. Dawn Meats in connection with the seanachai restaurant had wonderful cooked meats aswell.

Then to wash down a yummy lunch there was tasty apple juice from Killowen or Crinnaghtaun Orchards, and with a que about a mile long was Badger & Dodo boutique coffee roasters, which must have been amazing – however I’m not a coffee drinker!

There was also some great artisan local producers including Knocklara Cheese, Baranawee Foods selection of chutney,Preserves and ready meals, Bridewater foods selection of preserves. , Co. Cork. Flavahans were also a big sponsor supporting local food businesses.

The 3rd annual year was a great success & I cannot wait till next years festival.

xx

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What a fantastic day on Saturday to head off  foraging for wild edible delights in Colligan Woods,Co. Waterford. Paul Green was our guide, who is involved in Biodiversity of Waterford Flora  http://www.biodiversityireland.ie , while we walked the trail through the woods Paul pointed out over 22 edible plants all easily accessible & at our fingertips.

Billberries (also know as herth) were one of the first plants we came across these were only coming into flower now with tiny red buds, however the berries are ripe in June/July and are known for their powers in helping prevent Prostate Cancer. St. John Wort is also edible and known for its tiny yellow flowers, commonly used in treating depression. Dandelions leaves and flowers can be used in salads,otherwise the root can be roasted & then ground up to use for Dandelion Coffee. Wood Sorrel is a relative to sorrel , it is shamrock / clover shape leaf with small white flower, this is good remedy for sore throat. We also found some wild strawberries on the forest floor, these have the same leaves as common strawberry however the fruit is very small probably not much bigger than a blackcurrant, but with a suburb taste (ripe in mid summer). Common Valarium was another remedy to help you sleep however I wouldn’t recommend taking too much! We also came across Sweet Wood Ruff which if you dry it out & hang it in your airing cupboard gives a sweet & fresh smell.  Wood cress which is a cousin to the watercress was also scattered however if you plant it in your garden it can spread! We also came across some Cherry, Hazel & Crab Apple Trees – so i’ll definitely look at the wood land walk with different eyes the next time i’m feeling hungry out walking! While we didn’t come across any wild garlic on our travels, it’s just in season now so i’ll have the wellies on & be out foraging soon to make some wonderful dishes with it. Of course another great edible flower at the moment is primroses which are really pretty to add the flowers to a salad or crystalize them for the top of cakes. Nettles are just starting to produce young shouts now and are tender to use in soups, mixed with spinach and also rissotto ( check out Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall’s The River Cottage Year for some good recipes on seasonal fruit and vegetables).

Unfortunately when I got around to booking tickets for the Baking with Barons Bakery it was booked out , they had great interest in the afternoon class, so I decided to head down to St. Johns Castle to check out Agri Aware Mobile Farm, which had plenty of little chics , bunnies and a few lambs, they were also handing out lettuce & spinach seeds to make people more aware of Grow it Yourself.

The Picnic in Walton Park in Abbeyside was also a great success with hundreds of people turning out to enjoy the sunshine & music saturday evening.

 

….keep tuned to see pictures of Sundays Farmers Market!

Vickx

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I’m very very excited about the new additions to my kitchen, my friend at work just came back from Kuwait with loads of pressies for me, Saffron, Cardomon pods, Cumin,Chilli, Bay leaves & Cinnamon bark – the smells are amazing a million times more fragrant than anything you buy in a jar over here.  Cannot wait to make a lovely curry at the weekend -yummy!

I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver, absolutely love his way of cooking & his personality is amazing – one of my favourite Jamie books is Jamie’s Dinners which is a good few years old but has everyday meals for all age groups. Last week I got a sudden urge for Cannelloni, I had bought some dry Cannelloni tubes a few months ago, however didn’t get around to making them. So off I went on a shopping spree to buy some lovely fresh spinach, ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella etc. It was a really tasty dinner & after getting the hang of how to fill the tubes it was very simple. Instead of a a traditional bechamel sauce jamie uses a quick simple white sauce made from creme fraiche , anchovies & grated parmesan…yummy -however i love cheese but i felt that the quantity of cheese sauce slightly took over from the tomato base.

I now completely understand why Cannelloni is always served in individual dishes in restaurants – it is not the most elequant dish to serve, trying to keep the tubes in tact while spooning them onto a serving plate with a fish slice is a difficult feat – oh well another excuse to go shopping for pretty new dishes!! This is lovely served with a salad or toasted garlic bread. I’ve attached the link to Jamie’s recipe from his website.

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/awesome-spinach-and-ricotta-cannelloni

Happy cooking

Vick xx

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We recentely celebrated my mothers birthday on a glorious spring evening in sunny West Waterford, the venue O’Briens Chop House in Lismore. O’ Briens is an old Victorian pub, which still has old-fashioned exterior & pleasant un-touched interior with shelves of bottled Guinness & local apple juice. The term “Chop House” stems from London where you could sample a variety of chops, cutlets & steaks on the bone. The skulls on the walls & Challis’s of wild or eccentric flowers added to the pleasant interior of the chop house. The ethos is clearly good  local, seasonal, flavoursome food. Fish served whole & on the bone and meat cooked simply with the best flavours locked in with marrow & bone adding to the dish.

I was tempted to have the Blackberry Bellini to start however decided to hold off and enjoy bottle of white wine. The menu had a great selection of dishes, starters including Soup of the day which happened to be Wild Garlic & Potato, Wild Irish Mussels with Coconut milk & lemongrass, Ham Hock terrine served with apple & raisin chutney. I opted for the Ballyvolane Purple Sprouting Brocolli & Hollandise Sauce, loving fresh, tenderstem brocolli especially purple sprouting which seems to draw me toward it, it was a lovely light dish . My sister had the ham hock terrrine with apple & raisin chutney, while mum went for the local McGraths Lamb Kidneys on toast,which was a massive portion & was served with a beautifully gravy. Another customer ordered the mussels which smelt amazingly mouth watering!We also enjoyed the fresh brown bread & soda bread.

The mains were fish of the day which was Brill & Sea Bass, local Steaks, Roast chicken with wild garlic, Irish Lamb Stew, Pork chops with garlic mash & spring vegetables. I decided to have the lamb stew which was simple & tasty, mum went for the fish of the day Sea Bass with wild garlic mash & spring vegetables, the fish was beautifully cooked & falling off the bone which complimented the creamy garlic mash. While my sister had the gnocchi with brocolli & wild garlic. It has to be said none of us would normally leave a morsel of food on our plates however we did struggle to finish the dishes as the portions were quiet large, never a bad compliant!

We decided to share dessert as we were stuffed, however there is always room for a spoon or two of   dessert, we had a delicious lemon tart served with brown bread ice cream. The meal was very reasonable and I would definitely call back again for dinner or lunch. The atmosphere was bustling with people also enjoying the summer garden to have a drink however it was not over crowded. 

 Happy Dining  xx

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1st Birthday Cake

I made this first birthday cake on Valentines Day however only getting around to post up pics now, I thought i’d post up the christening cake aswell which I made last year for same little princess.

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