Archive for the ‘Book Shelf’ Category

Last week we spent a lovely few days down in sunny Kinsale & enjoyed the fine delighted of their local produce. We stayed in the Carlton Hotel, which overlooks Kinsale harbour, it also provides a shuttle bus into the town. On the first night we decided to go to Jim Edwards Bar to get a pint & some food, we had fried mushrooms to start & I had warm goats cheese salad & my other half had steak baguette. The food was really good & very reasonable.

On our second day we went to the renowned Fishy Fishy Restaurant for lunch, luckily enough we went around half past one and there wasn’t any que! We sat outside in the patio on what has to be one of the hottest days so far this year, the atmosphere was great, Martin Shanahan sat outside the restaurant chatting to customers.

I choose the Warm salad of chilli seafood – sautéed monkfish, salmon and shellfish in a sweet chilli sauce served on a bed of mixed leaves. The picture above doesn’t do it justice, it was so tasty & the texture of the crunchy salad against the perfectly cooked monkfish was delicious. The sweet chilli sauce added the perfect punch to the delicate flavours of the salmon and prawns. It was served it potato wedges & parsnip crisps.

The other half choose the Cod & Chips, which was a very generous serving, it was in a very light batter & I believe it was very tasty aswell.

I would highly recommend a visit to Fishy Fishy if you are in the region of Kinsale in the near future. While we got the main meal portions, they also offer smaller “taste” portions which is a great option for a light lunch. The other seafood dishes include Oysters, mussels and all fresh fish caught off the coast of Cork that very morning.

I’ll definitely be purchasing the Fishy Fishy Cookbook soon to try a few fish dishes myself.


Vick x

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From an early age I helped my Nana  make yeast rolls & bread in her wonderful almond coloured Aga in East Cork, we would arrive on a Saturday morning & begin making bread process, the perfect environment for proving process with the warmth of the Aga, then in the afternoon we would enjoy a freshly baked hot yeast roll with butter… and of course we were always told that eating hot bread would hurt our tummies, but we didn’t care, it was heavenly! If we were really lucky she would make doughnuts with us, it was such a treat. While my other Gran made fantastic White Soda Bread & Brown Bread.

Last week after watching River Cottage Everyday on Channel 4 where he mastered Bread. I felt completely inspired to skip off to relive my child memories of wonderful smells of fresh bread & the excitement that some flour, yeast & water could make a wonderful end result of bread. I love Hugh Frearnley-Whittingstall enthusiasm & passion for food, whether it be using up old crusts of bread & making pesto, to utilising free food that surrounds us in making Dandelion Marmalade. Last weeks episode was absolute inspiration and to anyone who missed it I would highly recommend it. He went to visit & tutor a group of ladies who started a bread club, which is a super idea. He mastered the techniques of Yeast, Sourdough, Pizza, Focaccia & Soda Bread. My highlight was the pizza oven they built… I want myself one of them!

So I’ve decided that my project over the next few weeks will be to discover & master some of the techniques of bread making from irish soda bread, to yeast & sourdough. I started with White Yeast Bread which while it is time-consuming it is so rewarding to have fresh wholesome bread to enjoy.

White Yeast Bread

Yeast is an organism that will grow in the right conditions given warmth, food (flour) & moisture (water), it then releases carbon dioxide & produces bubbles making bread rise. It is these bubbles that you have to knock out of the dough once risen & then leave to prove again before cooking the yeast bread. The first proving process will take about 2 hours for the yeast to grown in a warm environment, either a warm air-ing cupboard, kitchen or even leaving bowl standing in warm water! Yeast can be purchased in 3 forms, fresh (Superquinn often sell- this can be kept in the freezer & then taken out & used as soon as it is defrosted), dried & fast acting yeast which are much more accessible. The above is my result of white yeast bread, while i’m very happy with the texture there aren’t many air holes, however I think the crust was slightly over-cooked. Can’t wait to try my next Breads…

A few books which have fantastic recipes & hints on bread making are the wonderful Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course, which is an encyclopedia of information of raising agents, flour guides & variety of recipes from Scones to Corn Bread & Moroccan Bread. And of course also Tim Allen’s The Ballymaloe Bread Book. While Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall River Cottage Everyday is also a wonderful guide to bread, from Sour-dough, Flatbreads to Focaccia.

Happy Bread Making , Vick x

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When I met Nigella…

So finally I got to meet the domestic goddess – Nigella Lawson. She was in Dublin over the weekend  to launch her new book Kitchen, which I previously reviewed. With appearances on Late Late Show Friday night & book signing in Dubray Books on Grafton St. Saturday.

I was super excited Sat morning heading into town early to meet Nigella, after queuing for what felt like an eternity Nigella finally arrived into Dubray from a side door. However she was very low-key not talking to all the adoring fans waiting in line, she posed with all of her books then sat down to start signing. I was under-whelmed after meeting Nigella.

I’ve been a big fan of hers for a long time with practically all of her books & love her tv show, even though some think she can be a bit promiscuous with food. Nigella didn’t pose for photos with anyone, (except the odd few babies). This was the best photo I got with her unfortunately. But did get my book signed by the oriniginal Domestic Goddess

Vick xx

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Last nights Cook Book Club inspired me to come home from work this evening & use up my butternut squash which has been sitting in my fridge a week (what a sin!) and cook Italian inspired Butternut Squash risotto. Catherine Fulvio was the guest chef / author of last nights 2nd CookBook Club, Catherine is of course famed for her tv show on RTE, Catherine’s Italian Kitchen & Catherine’s Roman holiday and of course Ballyknocken House & Cookery School. Catherine trained in Ballymaloe and is also inspired by her husband Claudio’s heritage & culture from his Sicilian home place.

Catherine’s humour, smile & enthusiasm was definitely inspiring & her love of Italy & Sicily was great to see how easy it is to cook up an italian dish & how quick a simple dish like Penne ala Vodka with some store cupboard basics! Every house should have a bottle of vodka just for the pasta of course!

Catherine’s Menu:

Antipasta Platter: Caponata, Arancine, Aubergine Parmigiana, Peperonata, Marninated Olives, Bruschetta


Chianti Braised Beef with Soft Polenta

Roasted Monkfish with Pesto Trapanese & Roast Mediterranean Vegetables

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage and Lemon Butter, Herb Salad with Lemon & Honey Dressing


Raspberry Tiramisu with Biscotti

Chocolate  & Almond Torte with Stem Ginger Ice-cream

Hazlenut & Orange Tart with Creme Fraiche

I have to say the Antipasta Platter was definitely my favourite part of the evening the flavours were just amazing, I’m definitely going to try to make the Arancine (rice balls) & aubergine parmigiana – they were amazing. I also had the Chianti Beef which was really tender & the Polenta, it was my first time having this, i think I’m a mash potatoes fan over the Polenta, but will try anything once, other cous cous would be great with the beef. The Monkfish also looked fantastic with the mediteranean veg & got great reviews. I had the Chocolate & Almond Torte for dessert it was fantastic & the ginger ice-cream was a great accompaniment.

And finally a picture of Catherine & me, she was so charming & lovely, really inspiring to meet her, & got a signed copy of the Catherine’s Italian Kitchen.

Happy Cooking,

Vick xx

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Nigella’s new tv series to support her new cookbook “Kitchen” is due to air on BBC2 starting Thursday 30th September at 8pm! whooo

I’m so excited to see that Nigella is coming to Dublin, she’s signing copies of her new book in Dubray Book Store on Grafton St on 23rd October at 12 noon. I have purchased the book Kitchen already, was browsing when I came back from hols, spotted it & of course had to buy it even tho the credit card is maxed out!! opps.. I have already been flicking through & went straight into M&S to buy ingredients for the Spring Chicken for a cold, wet autumn evening, it was wonderfully sweet with leek, petit pois, chicken tighs & a can of cider!

At the start of her new book, Nigella talks throgh essential equipment for any household kitchen & also those gadgets that everyone at some point is roped into buying – even Nigella (can’t believe she actually bought a bread maker!) Her honesty & opionions on certain types of pots, pans & casseroles are definitely worth taking into account. The fact that she actually still has her mum’s enamelled cast iron ware from her wedding in 1956 says a lot about an  investment in good equipment, it will definitely last a life time!

The book is broken into meal occassions “Hurry up, I’m hungry” what a great name for a chapter!, “At the table” and “the bone collection” which sounds like a thriller!

It is quiet a bulky book, with plenty of recipes for any family, it is different to her other books, she still has a lot of emphasis on sweets & puddings however there is also a influence of Nigella Express & Feast in this book it seems to hav a bit of everything in it, which isn’t a bad thing but maybe a little difficult from reader’s point of view as to where to look for sweet or savoury dishes!

Available at any good bookstore for approx €20-24…

Happy Cooking

Vick xx

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I would like to wish Elaine Walsh a big Congratulations on the inaugural CookBook Club last night with celebrity chef Paul Flynn, of the Tannery Restaurant Dungarvan. It was a wonderful evening, everyone was welcomed personally by Elaine to Town Bar and Grill, the food was fantastic and the atmosphere was buzzing. Elaine had a quick question & answers session with Paul, then we all enjoyed our 3 course meal & complimentary glass of wine.

Paul has won numerous awards including Chef of the Year, Best Restaurant & Cookery school of the year. Paul has also written two cookbooks, The Tannery, An adventure with food his first book which has been reprinted, and Second Helpings. The recipes which Paul choose to cook for the CookBook Club were from his first book and a fantastic choice for the stormy, wet evening, with wonderful hearty food.

There was a fantastic choice on the menu :

Starters:  Cream of Turnip, saffron & almond soup, Crab Creme Brulee and Terrine of ham hock with prunes, sage & onion.

Mains: Bouillabaisse of hake, mussels and chorizo, Braised lamb shank with cumin, chickpeas & dates,and Grape & parmesan Risotto

 Desserts: Rum & raisin pannocotta with figs, Coffee & cardamon creme brulee, and Croustade of crozier blue with poached pears

Crab Creme Brulee – beautifully creamy texture with wonderful light crab flavour

Braised Lamb Shank with cumin, chickpeas & dates, this was wonderfully cooked & melt in the mouth, it feel completely off the bone, the flavour of the cumin was fantastic, definitely one I will be cooking to impress guests at my next dinner party!!

Poached Pear with croustade of crozier, wonderful combination the sweet & savoury -yummy..

It was a wonderful evening and definitely an event that no foodie should miss! Next month is Catherine Fulvio, Ballyknocken House.

For details of upcoming events contact The CookBook Club on Facebook or http://thecookbookclub.ie/

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What better way to use up those lovely small courgette, than simply enjoy the flavours of the courgette enhanced with bacon & parmesan in a Courgette Carbonara. This is a lovely light summer dish, creamy yet not too much sauce. The recipe I used was one of Jamie Olivers from Jamie at Home cookbook, this is a great book, broken up into seasons, with insights in growing veg, varieties, growing tips &  recipes. I really like this book, as it has great reciepes, from smashed peas & broadbeans on toast to butternut squash muffins, its defo one of my favourite Jamie books, it is a toss up between Jamie at Home & Jamie’s Dinners!! The winner hasn’t passed the post yet…


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