Friday Five Things: Links I love…

This week has been wild – with essay deadlines looming and a host of other commitments taking over, I’ve allowed radio silence to take over on this front :P But nonetheless, I am sharing 5 food links that made me smile, snigger or salivate this week. Happy weekend!

1. Sprinkle Bakes is the place to go when you want inspiration for something sweet – you can be content in the knowledge that no human has ever created cakes as beautiful and creative as she has, but reach for the stars, right? I loved the look of this Cranberry and Orange Chiffon cake and to be fair, this one looks more attainable than usual :)

2. Another one of my regular reads – Ketty Elisabeth (aka French Foodie in Dublin) lets us in on her favourite places for hot chocolate in Dublin. I pretty much agree with her on all fronts, though I’ve never tried the hot choc in Murphy’s ice-cream parlour. Next week?

3. Christmas on the Square:


4. I came across a picture of these on pinterest, and clicked through to find a mecca of gingerbread/biscuit ideas. I am not sure I’ve the skill or patience to ever make these, but how great do they look?

5. Nothing makes a bad day better like Nutella – I leave you to dream:


Friday Five things: Recipe Books

Like I say on the home page, I’ve always adored cookbooks. I can remember every page of my first ever book, giant sized and full of funny-face ‘pizzas’ made on bread rolls, and gingerbread men. The thing with food blogs, and Pinterest, and social media in general, is that the best recipe books have had to adapt to a changing market place – these books are not sellable for their content alone, anyone can google and get 5000 recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Now, it has to be about more than the recipe – books curate sounds, smells and tastes onto the printed page, tell a story about the writer and what food means in her life. And for someone like me, who thinks about food the majority of the time, this is ideal – to get to know another cook, another food culture or place. All cook books were not created equal, but similarly, different books obviously cater (lol) to different needs. Dare I mention that coming up to Christmas, this may serve as a handy guide for the foodie (reluctant or otherwise) in your life. Let me know in the comments which books you treasure, or those you’ve put in your letter to Santi. Have a lovely weekend…

1. The Desert Island Book

If I never had another cookery book or recipe in my life, I would persist contentedly with the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book. This sizeable tome contains just about everything you’d ever think to make, and in classic Ballymaloe style is both clear and fairly foolproof. Mine is covered in random globs of potato gratin, and coffee cake batter, which I suppose is a good sign!



2. For the young hip thing

I wrote before about how much I loved Wahaca, which I visited for the first time this summer. However, I already knew that Thomisina Miers (the proprietress) was on to something good, as I bought her book for my sisters birthday (classic self-gifting). We’ve cooked lots from this book, firm favourites being the Chicken sweetcorn soup, the Mexican wedding cookies, and the Lime and Ricotta cake, as well as the divine pork pibil recipe.



3. For the cook who has all the usual suspects

I was given a gift of this book by wonderful friends, and already it is a firm favourite. This is my favourite type of cook book is that you could read as a novel – the photography is beautiful, the written extremely evocative, and the subject matter terribly interesting. For anyone even mildly interested in world affairs, Jerusalem has always been an enigma of a city, with layer upon layer of religious, historical and cultural importance. Here, we discover how this has impacted on the cuisine and food culture of the city. A definite recommendation.

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4. For the baker

The Hummingbird books are the ones I always turn to when I am feel like making something sweet – they contain all the usual suspects, but also have some really interesting ideas such as lavender cupcakes, or guinness and chocolate pound cake. Also, I would sell limbs for their rocky road – containing over a kilo of chocolate, you’d better believe it is addictive. You’ve been warned :P



5. The Newcomer

I was given a copy of this book at a most wonderful event for Irish food bloggers in Dublin Cookery School, and already I’ve tried out a few of the recipes to great success. Written by Lynda Booth who runs DCS, and inspired by her travels and experiences in kitchens around the world, this book runs the gamut from simple sponge cakes to traditional naan bread, to fresh pasta. Interspersed with lovely photographs and engaging stories about meeting different masters of cuisine, it could definitely be a good choice for your favourite foodie.


The best thing since sliced pan…

Is actually, the best thing before sliced pan, i.e. real bread, no funny ingredients, straight out of your oven (or the fire at the back of your cave, I hear you say). I’ve talked about this before, but people generally feel that brown/soda bread is much more accessible than white – probably due to the fact that yeast required time and TLC to work its magic.

Honestly, there is nothing quite like your own bread – it will make you feel like the love child of Bear Grylls and Darina Allen. There is a primal, salt-of-the-earth quality to making your own bread – would I go as far as to say that there are only two types of people in the world…? But really, it is an experience that I think all cooks should have, the original and totally smug satisfaction that comes from raising something so wonderful and nourishing from the simplest of ingredients.

For all things yeasty, I refer to the masters – bread is not the type of thing you can successfully wing it with, unless you have years of practice and/or are French. This is the Ballymaloe recipe for plain white bread. With this basic dough, the possibilities are endless – add herbs, garlic, cheese, chocolate, nuts – what ever you like. Equally with the shape, there are endless varieties – from the show-offy twists to the abstract blob, to just lobbing it in whatever tin you’ve handy.


425 ml (15fl oz) warm water

10 g (1/3oz) caster sugar

700 g (1lb 9oz) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting (optional)

2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

1. In a measuring jug, mix the warm water with the sugar and yeast and leave to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until the mixture is a little bit frothy.

2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with a dough hook. Pour the olive oil  into the yeast mixture.

3. Pour the yeast mixture into the well and mix to a loose dough, adding extra water if needed.

4. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes (5 minutes in the food mixer with a hook attachment)until dough is smooth and springy to the touch.

5. Grease the bowl with olive oil and put the dough back into it, then cover the top tightly with cling film and place somewhere warm to rise for up to 2 hours until doubled in size.

6. When the dough has more than doubled in size, knock back (push the air out of it) and knead again for 2–3 minutes. Leave to relax for 10 minutes before you begin to shape the bread.

7. Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves, then transfer to a baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel. Allow to prove in a warm place for 20–30 minutes or until the dough has again doubled in size. When fully risen, it should leave a dent when you gently press the dough with your finger.

8. While the bread is proving, preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F), Gas mark 7.

9. Gently brush each loaf with the beaten egg, then bake in the oven for 40–45 minutes. Turn the heat down to 200°C after 15 minutes for the remaining cooking time. When cooked, the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base.

10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool – it is best to leave it at least 15 minutes, it will slice much better.

Note: this is the exact same recipe as I would use for making homemade pizza – the dough is the same, but there is no need to let it prove the second time, just roll out thinly, scatter chosen toppings, and bake quickly in a furiously hot oven (preferably on a pizza stone). Check it, Milanos.

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Cinnamon Apple Crumble with salted caramel sauce

As I’ve said before, crumble is the ultimate in autumn-winter food. These days, when our daylight has been reduced to about 3 hours, there is nothing more comforting than snuggling up with a great book (or an old episode of the West Wing realistically) and tucking into a huge bowl of this unadulterated goodness. You can also smugly note that (even now in November) you can use fantastic Irish apples that are totally in season.

This isn’t much of an upgrade on your average apple crumble, but adding a good amount of cinnamon, along with this glorious caramel sauce elevates it to another level of chicness. It is also a terribly easy recipe, so no excuses – the rewards, for a very small amount of work, are enormous.

For the caramel sauce

I use the recipe from the hilariously irreverent Hope and Greenwood book,  which is used to make chocolate caramels (also divine).

55ml (2fl oz) double cream

½ level tbsp dark muscovado sugar

15g (½ oz) caster sugar

Sea-salt flakes

1. To make the salted caramel, put the cream and dark muscavado sugar into a jar and rest it in a heatproof bowl of boiling water to warm gently, ensuring no water gets into the sugar and cream.

2. Pour the caster sugar into a small heavy-based pan and lodge on low to medium heat to ‘melt’ the sugar- keep watching it – this is the important part. It will eventually dissolve, and then very quickly become dark and golden, so do stay focussed!

3. When it has reached this stage, take the pan off the heat and add in the warmed cream and muscovado – the pan will bubble up furiously. Stir, stir and stir with a wooden spoon to make a lovely caramel. Cool a bit, then stir in the salt. Serve slightly warmed, for best results.

Note: if you leave this in the fridge, it will set somewhat, but just gently warm it through in the micro/on the hob, and it will return to its original saucy self.

For the crumble

4 large cooking apples

6oz cream white flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

4oz dark brown sugar (muscavado)

6oz butter, melted

Handful porridge oats

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix so that all are evenly distributed.

2. Incorporate the melted butter using a fork so that little clumps form in the very rough crumble mixture.

3. Peel, core and chop the apples into chunks. Place in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add about 3 tbsp of water and place on a medium heat.

4. Allow the fruit to stew until just tender (I like my crumble still to have a nice amount of bite to it.), then remove from the heat.

5. Place the apples in a deep ceramic dish, drizzle with a bit of golden syrup, and cover with the crumble rubble. Bake in a preheated oven (180C) for 20-25 minutes until the crumble is golden, and the apples are bubbling up the side of the dish.

6. Serve with greek yoghurt and caramel sauce.


Friday Five Things: More foodies finds in Paris…

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to take a petit pause from the mildly stressful pace of college to hop across to Paris for a couple of days. I was travelling with my Italy companion Orla, so of course, plenty of food was on the agenda. We had planned out in advance all the places we just needed to see, and apart from a minor crisis when I realised my old favourite local boulangerie had gone out of business (no more papillons au chocolat – the horror), everything went swimmingly. So here I am sharing 5 great places that we visited over the weekend (Credit for most of the photos goes to Orla and her Iphone :) )  Enjoy…

1. Angelina
As clichéd as it may be, I insist on bringing all those who come to Paris with me to queue outside Angelina on Rue de Rivoli. And each time, I have to convince them that yes, the hot chocolate is worth it, and no, you won’t mind that you paid the same amount for it as you paid for lunch. I know all the tricks – when there is a huge queue or you are in desperate need of a chocolate hit, go into the patiserrie and get one to go – cheaper and immensely quicker, but with less ceremony (it doesn’t taste quite the same out of a paper cup). There are branches elsewhere around the city, and we frequented the Luxembourg one – it was the best treat after braving scary French exams (or just a tough day of lectures).

Haters gonna hate, Angelina has to be done.


2. Relais d’Entrecote
Another clichéd, quasi-touristy entry. Yes, there will be as many Americans as French in the queue, and yes the prices (26 euro a head for a salad and steak-frites) are most definitely not the best value in Paris, but honestly, a trip to Relais d’entrecote (either Montparnasse or Rue Marbeuf) is worth having.

There is only one item on the menu, and as you are seated, the waiter will likely bark ‘la cuisson?’ at you. Many a ‘I got an A in the LC’ french-speaker has been flummoxed by this – she is just asking how you like your steak cooked. For those who eat it medium-well in Ireland, respond ‘Bien-cuit’, for those who like medium-rare, ‘à point’, and for those who like it rare to mooing, ‘saignant’ or even ‘bleu’ (Literally bloody (rare) and blue – you’ve been warned). You will get a nice walnut and frisée salad to start, and plenty of bread – don’t eat it all now, you will want it to mop up the deliciousness that is the mystery sauce that comes with the steak. Also, don’t be alarmed when the waitress comes over and shovels more food onto your plate – the portion comes in 2 halves. I’ve never tried the desserts, as I’ve always been full to the brim with steak-frites, but I can say with certainty that the choux pastry thingy with ice-cream and chocolate sauce looks absolutely divine. Maybe next time?


3. Popelini
A great find stumbled upon by accident when Jane came to visit last February, Popelini sells mini choux buns filled with creme-patissiere of all varieties, and sold individually or in beautifully packaged boxes for your most chic of Parisien hostess gifts. Having discovered the branch on Rue des Martyrs in Montmartre, I then scoped out the more convenient one in the Upper Marais. I’ve tasted almost all they have on offer, my all time favourites being the Chocolat au lait avec confit de passion (Milk chocolate with passionfruit), Praliné (tastes like posh nutella), Citron (lemon, of course) and the Fruit de la Passion (unadulterated passionfruit goodness). I love these so much, I brought a box of twelve home, via 2 taxis, a plane ride, a bus journey and in the car down to Clonmel. They did look a little worse for wear, but tasted amazing. So worth it.

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4. Les Cocottes
A little more upmarket than we expected, Les Cocottes turned out to be a cool, buzzing winebar style of restaurant, surprisingly close to the tourist trap of the Tour Eiffel and Les Invalides, an area notoriously difficult to find quality food at earth-prices. Given that the walls of the bar were home to laden shelves bearing hundreds of copies of the proprietors cookbook, we cleverly deduced that said proprietor must be a celebrity chef. In French, a ‘cocotte’ is a little earthenware dish, used to bake gratins/cassoulets in the oven. So naturally, we both went for cocottes – mine a langoustine ravioli with an unbelievably rich aubergine foam thing, and Orla for the more sensible vegetable gratin. Both were delicious, and judging from the constant stream of customers jostling for seats, they must be doing something right. One I’d go back to.


5. Dose, Dealer de café
This last one is a bit random, because it is totally un-French. It is styled like a typical posh Australian/American/Irish coffee shop – similar to Café Grey or Fixx on Dawson Street. However, it is a rare gem in Paris. I don’t know where I came up with the idea that the French were good at coffee, but it is a fallacy – they rejoice in bad coffee – and God forbid that you were someone who prefers their coffee with milk? This is one of the few places near me that would serve a latte or a cappuccino that resembled something close to what the Italians intended. The prices are Starbucks-style, but so much better than resorting to the dreaded MNC when trying to be all sophis and urban. It is on the charmingly tacky Rue Mouffetard, which incidentally is one of the best places to head to on a Sunday morning – enjoy banter with the stall-holders on lower Rue Mouffetard before popping over to Marché Monge to pick up some goodies


Ruth’s Raspberry Flapjacks

DSC01620As a said before, I am actually not much of a baker – in fact, if it was up to me, I’d stick to cooking and leave the precise art of baking to those more skilled than I. This is a recipe used almost monthly in our house – we love flapjacks, especially the raspberry variety. Chocolate is good too, but we have found that because it melts almost immediately when you stir it in, it can be a bit of a waste. (Why not just have chocolate with your raspberry flapjack? Problem solved.)

I don’t know where the recipe came from originally, but I think it comes close enough to the Rachel Allen version in the pink book with lemons on the inner cover. Wherever it is from, it is almost completely foolproof – no flour, no eggs, no baking powder, and very little chance of serving it raw or burning down the kitchen, it is ideal for the not so experienced baker. They’ll keep for at least 3 days in a tin if you (by some miracle) don’t gobble them out of the baking tin.

Makes 25 to 30 flapjacks

350g butter, cubed

3 tbsp golden syrup

175g soft light brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

375g oats

100g raspberries

1.Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius

2.Place the butter, golden syrup, sugar and vanilla extract in a large saucepan.  Bring up to a simmer and stir allowing the butter to melt.


3.When the mixture is smooth, take off the heat and add the raspberries and oats.  Stir to mix and spread into a swiss roll tin measuring 25 x 35 cm.


4.Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until golden. Move to a wire rack to cool.


Passionfruit Meringue Cupcakes (GF)

I don’t normally love cupcakes, as I find the icing a bit sickly, but having said that, they can look fantastic piled up together, and are definitely a crowd pleaser for a celebration. These I made for a great friend’s 21st dinner, and they went down a treat. I tried out the Italian meringue icing in a pinch when I realised we didn’t have any icing sugar, so buttercream or royal icing was out of the question. I was really pleased with the results, but note that these don’t keep – the icing will only last a couple of hours before it gets weird and grainy. Passionfruit is always a good idea in my book, and added the perfect finishing touch.


120g gluten-free flour mix (we use Doves Farm)

140g caster sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

a pinch of salt

40g butter, at room temperature

120ml milk

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until reasonably light and fluffy.

3. In a separate bowl/jug, beat the egg and milk together. Gradually add to the butter mix, beat well with each addition. (do this slowly or risk curdling).

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in to the batter, and fold in gently (don’t beat overenthusiastically at this stage).

5. Stir in the vanilla essence, divide between 12-14 bun cases, and pop in the preheated oven for about 20 mins.A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.

Italian Meringue icing

I used the BBC Food recipe, slightly adapted for quantities (I used 3 egg whites and 6oz of sugar with 4 1/2 tbsp water)


1. Using an electric hand mixer, begin by beating four egg whites until they form soft peaks.(just before stiff peak stage).

2.Next make a sugar syrup by mixing 225g/8oz of sugar with six tablespoons of water. Stir the sugar and water together over a medium heat. When all of the sugar is dissolved, STOP STIRRING, and bring it to a fast boil until it reaches 120C/250F. I don’t have a sugar thermometer, but this is roughly around soft ball stage and takes nearly 10 minutes depending on how hot your hob gets. To test, get a glass of ice-cold water, and drop a teaspoon of boiling sugar syrup in – if it forms a ball that you can squish in your palm, it is perfect.

3. As soon as the syrup reaches the correct temperature/stage, pour it onto the egg whites in a thin, steady stream as you whisk. When all the syrup has been mixed, continue to whisk the meringue until it has cooled. It should be shiny and stiff. Allow to cool completely before using.

I used a sandwich bag cut at the end as a sort of makeshift icing bag, and topped with a drizzle of passionfruit, but you could definitely do a nice job with a palette knife and some hot water. Consume as soon as possible.



As I mentioned in my last post, I am lucky enough to live close to a great sushi restaurant. I’ve been three or four times, and each has been wonderful – the fish is fresh, there is enough variety to keep things interesting, but it is also accessible for the sushi-newb in that there are ample dim-sum type options, as well as cooked sushi rolls such as tempura prawn and crab.



The decor is Ikea mixed with your local Chinese restaurant, but the plating of the food is lovely – really clean presentation and interesting crockery. Another nice touch is that they give you green tea upon arrival. There is also a smaller Musashi on Capel Street which is hugely popular – this one is great in that there is plenty of room -the place would be regularly  3/4 full even on a week day night.

We usually get 1-2 dishes each and share – my favourites are crab and avocado rolls, and spicy tuna (though it does have a major kick). I also have a soft spot for the pork or prawn gyoza – it is just delish, and really pretty! This is definitely a place to try, especially if you are unsure about how much you like raw fish.

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Friday Five Things: Foodie finds

So. much. alliteration. Have a great weekend xo

1. Moloughneys, Clontarf

A couple of weekends ago we enjoyed a beautiful brunch in Clontarf at Moloughneys – we really and truly felt like we had fled the city, even though we were hardly 10 minutes in the car. Clontarf has a wonderful village feel to it, and reminds me of my all-time favourite town Dungarvan, mostly because of its stunning coastline, and the fact that almost everyone who is not lazily brunching is running, cycling or rollerblading along beside the sea. The menu was lovely, predictable in the absolute right way – I mean brunch is not the time for experimentation! Two of us had the delicious pancakes and maple syrup with crispy bacon, but the rest of the fam enjoyed granola parfait, an italian omelette and copious amounts of coffee and tea. A definite recommendation..

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2. Clement and Pekoe

I must have been here upwards of 10 times, but I’ve never taken my camera, and as I am one of the few remaining souls under 60 sans smartphone, I haven’t the photographic evidence :P Anyway, it is a fab addition to my normal coffee shop route – the tea is excellent (my fave being the Lemon Caprihana Green tea), they graciously provide refills, and there is a good selection of paleo treats on offer, allowing for my favourite type of virtuous sinning.

3. ALDI cookware and baking items currently on sale!

I was thrilled when I was wandering around the supermarket on Sunday to come across lovely little kugelhopf cake tins – the perfect size for a cake I think, and no need to faff around with icing when they look this pretty. They also had a good selection of loaf and sandwich tins, and best of all, it only cost me three yo-yos.

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4. Mak @ D6

I made my way over to the Southside to meet Jane on sunday evening for a long-awaited catch up, and she suggested we have dim sum in Mak in Ranelagh. I have loved dim sum since my first glorious experience of dim sum in a very trendy but authentic restaurant in DC a couple of years ago, so needless to say I jumped at the chance to see what this place had to offer. We ordered about 6 different types of dumplings to share, and we delighted by the spoils – I particularly liked the prawn and pork gyoza (though not quite as delicious as my stand-out local Musashi)

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5. Wild Irish Foods Chillax Tea from the Temple Bar Food Market

When last at the Saturday market in Temple Bar, I picked up a bag of the ‘chillax tea’ from Wild Irish Foods – all the herbs are organic, Irish and contain amazing properties which could potentially cure world peace or something. All I know is that it tastes great, and is a nice change from the drip of peppermint or green tea I seem to be attached to. As I’ve yet to acquire a tea strainer (though I’ve my eye on the ones in tiger that are shaped like a house), this is the perfect excuse to bring out the tea pot.





Smoked Paprika, Chilli, and Garlic Cheddar Scones


One of my first posts was my recipe for sweet white scones, only very slightly adapted from the Ballymaloe version (who I would trust with all things scone!). However,  I find more and more that since France, I’ve lost some of my raging sweet tooth and now am more likely to crave something savoury, carby and preferably cheeeesy. This, like most of my better creations is a hodge-podge amalgamation of my favourite ingredients, and turned out very nicely. I feel the combinations here could be endless – smoked bacon, chorizo, different cheeses, herbs etc. Enjoy..

900g plain white flour

170g butter

3 eggs

a good pinch of salt

100g cheddar cheese, grated

3 good teaspoons baking powder

450ml (ish) milk

1 small birds eye chilli, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 tsp smoked paprika


egg wash (1 egg and a drop of milk)

First preheat the oven to 250C (you need it hot!)

1. Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter. You can also do this is a food processor. Add the chilli, garlic, spice and salt and pepper. Add the grated cheese and mix to combine.

2. Whisk the eggs with the milk, and then add it to the dry ingredients slowly. Only add as much as you need to bring it to a soft dough.

3. Turn out the blob of dough onto a floured surface. Knead the mixture lightly, just enough to shape into a round. Roll out to about 1 inch thick and cut out scones using a cup or a cutter. Pop them on a floured baking sheet – no need to grease.

4. Brush the tops with egg wash and bake in the hot oven for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and smelling dee-vine.