Smoked Paprika, Chilli, and Garlic Cheddar Scones

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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

Glaze

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.

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Friday Five Things: Final year blues (I miss Paris)

This is a new style of post that is basically going to contain five random carefully selected foodie thoughts/events/books/cafés etc. that catch my eye but don’t really make for enough to post about – these are the type of blog posts I like to read, i.e. no need to slog through a long-winded article, but cut straight to the good stuff. Sometimes there will be a theme, sometimes it will be all chocolate bars (what an awesome idea?).

Final year has been heating up, and I am getting a little blue about the work that is piling up and the impending winter that looks like seeing me traipse between lectures and the libo and my bed. All in all, I am feeling more  than nostalgic for all things Gallic, and my long-lost erasmus. Therefore, the basic theme of this edition of five things can be summed up as “final year sucks and I miss Paris”. Sure we’ll see how it goes…

1. Saturday at Merrion Square: French Foodie Fair!

 We really enjoyed our petit séjour to the Royal Antiquaries Society on Merrion Square last Saturday. Ketty Elisabeth of French Foodie in Dublin fame (http://frenchfoodieindublin.blogspot.ie/) had orchestrated (along with the help of Irish Village Markets among others) a mini-market showcasing much of the best of French food in Ireland. I loved that not only were the stall-holders all really friendly and ready to chat about their product, but that they encouraged taking more than one sample (key).

We tried lovely macaron cake from Armelle’s Kitchen in Kilcullen, pastries from The Corner Bakery, delicious bread from Tartine (closest thing I’ve seen to french bread in Ireland), and pralines from l’Art du Chocolat. I was disappointed that I would not be able to make the chocolate talks and tastings scheduled for later on in the day, but we did get to a talk about all things cheese given by Sheridans (see below). All in all, a morning well spent?

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2. Lindt Sea-salt Dark Chocolate

This was my secret treat from Sittis (a funny little shop close to where I lived in Paris that stayed open till all hours, and had a way above average selection of chocolate). Lindt chocolate is generally lovely, but this is perfect in that (for real) one or two pieces will satisfy an intense chocolate craving. It is basically the posh version of putting minstrels in your popcorn – enough said.

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3.  Chef

 I am a sucker for foodie movies, and Chef is one of my new-found favourites. It is a cute and funny underdog story about a guy, some cuban food and a food truck. Also, star performance of a really cute child actor, and Gloria from Modern Family. What more can one ask for?

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4. Sheridan’s Cheesemongers

After enjoying the talk and tasting given by Frank from Sheridan’s during the French Food Fair last Saturday, I had cheese on the brain. I paid a visit to their South-Anne St. shop on Monday and got a generous wodge of Compté and some smoked Gubeen for my sins, and proceeded to make the ultimate toastie on tuesday night after a long day. Dee-vine.

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5. The Temple Bar market on Saturdays

Every Saturday morning, delicious bread and pastries on offer (Check out Le Levain), plus a bonus Crepes in the City Stall – nothing soothes the soul like a nutella crepe..

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Many thanks to D for the photos from the Food Fair – camera warmly ensconced at home :)

Staple Foods

I actually love Temple Bar. All through first and second year, I pretty much avoided it – I associated it with tourists, vomit and nightclubs (not necessarily in that order). However, since coming back, I’ve explored it quite a bit – there are fantastic shops and even better in the line of cafés and restaurants. When we were headed to the Dublin Theatre Festival to pick up tickets for A Girl is a Half-formed thing (absolutely fantastic), I spotted Staple Foods and took a quick snap of the menu to remind me to go back for a visit whenever the opportunity next arose. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long – the following weekend, the younger sister and I decided to treat ourselves to lunch after a difficult and stressful morning perusing the food stalls and vintage shops around the area (I know, you don’t know how we do it, right?).

The menu in Staple Foods is based on the principles of Paleo eating (basically caveman style, protein good, refined carbs = poison), and there are several vegetarian and vegan options. There is even green juice for those of you whose body is a temple. It is six euro though (Almost 2 whole nutella crepes worth. Just sayin.). The place is actually a bar, operating as a cafe during the day. Though slightly more grungy than some of the other cafés around, most of the touches are pinterest-friendly in a familiar way i.e. mason jars on the window sills, mismatched chairs and tables, and waitstaff with large-framed round glasses. You know the type.

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Both Sarah and I chose the meaty vegan-unfriendly options. I had a chinese sticky pork salad with crunchy celeriac and chinese cabbage, while she chose the mexican chicken salad with chickpeas and tabouleh. Both were lovely, but we decided that the pork worked better than the chicken given that the salad really needed the crunch of the vegetables in what is otherwise quite a rich and one-textured dish. The flavours were good, particularly of the meat. All in all, they were healthy, filling lunches that were a little different to what you are usually served up.

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DSC01516The dishes were simply enormous – if it was me, I would cut the portions by half and bring the prices down (I am sure some people would then complain – you can’t please everyone!). It was 10 euro each, which I feel is steep for a salad, but then we did have at least enough between us to fill a pot to bring home for lunch the following day.

I’d go back – the atmosphere was very chilled, and the menu was interesting enough to make me want to try other dishes. There is also the fact that it is just a stone’s throw from my new favourite browsing spot (Folkster) – who could resist? Cue slightly demented gif of me digging in.. output_QdpoLX

https://www.facebook.com/staplefoodsdublin

http://www.folkster.com/clothes/vintage

Two tarts walk into a bar…

First off, an admission. I did not make the pastry – I sauntered into M&S and bought me some ready-made tartlets. I mean, there are times when I would make my own pastry, but for the most part, a good quality bought version will do the trick. These are terribly easy, and endlessly adaptable. Basically, I try and think of my favourite foods that go together and match 2 or 3 of them together in a tart-case, shove them in the oven and voila.

The first tart is basically a Caprese in a cup – soft mozzarella di bufala, juicy cherry tomatoes and a thick spread of basil pesto. I like to roast the tomatoes first and then just barely grill the tarts when assembled, because I like the cheese to be barely melting.    IMG_0073Caprese tartlets

1. Cut the tomatoes in half, place in a roasting tin with 3-4 whole cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with sea salt and black pepper.

2. Place in a hot oven for 20 minutes until soft, but still keeping their shape.

3. Spread pesto on the base of the tart, tear up the mozzarella and tumble in the tomatoes and cheese. Drizzle with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil

4. Place in a hot oven, or under a grill for 5-7 minutes.

Goat’s Cheese, Walnut and Cranberry Tarts. 

The second tart is one I devised for Christmas, hence the cranberries. Molten goat’s cheese is always a winner, and the flavours of this tart work really well together. I like to think it is quite a sophisticated dish, either as a lunch or starter, even though it involves little effort really.

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1. Use about 150g of cranberries for this recipe. Place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a splash of red wine, 1-2 tbsp of orange juice (i.e. squeeze in an orange) and 1tbsp of sugar. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp of fresh thyme. Put it on a low-heat and stew until the fruit is soft and forming a compote – season with black pepper and remove from the heat.

2. Roughly chop a handful of walnuts. Toast for 1-2 minutes in a dry frying pan on a high heat.

3. Cut the log of goat’s cheese (St. Tola or similar) into 1cm rounds. Spoon the fruit into the base of the tartlets and lay the cheese on top. Sprinkle over the walnuts. Drizzle with a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil.

4. Place in a hot oven, or under a grill for 5-7 minutes.

The Fumbally

Again, SJ probably has to take credit for this – she has been a fan of the Fumbally for longer than I knew it existed. It is annoyingly out of the way for me – a bit too far for a lunchtime trip from Trinners, and not that easily accessible from home. However, one not-so-fine afternoon we intrepidly braved the elements and made it.

The outside is pretty nondescript, but the style is unique – it is like a cross between a barn and Central Perk in Friends – there are artfully slouching sacs of flour on the bare board floors, and mismatched tables and chairs. And the clientele? There were converse-wearing techies, hipster-parents with their hipster-progeny (now I’ve totally ruined my credentials by saying the H word like 4 times in this paragraph) and people staring into space/doing creative things in notebooks or on MacAirs. The tables are communal, and I imagine this place gets busy enough that you would actually have to squeeze in beside one of these penseurs.

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We unfortunately made it there too late to try any of the delicious-sounding specials which all had sold out from the lunchtime rush. However, I settled on their signature pulled-pork blaa, SJ on carrot and cauliflower soup, and N and D on the falafal wrap. The service was fairly prompt, and no sooner had I tucked in, was my face, my hands and various other body parts covered in sandwich – this is not a dish for a first date! Messy though it was, it was utterly delicious, unctuous meat cut through with a sharp beetroot pickle spilling out of a floury, chewy blaa. The comments from the others were equally favourable (though I still maintain the sandwich is the best thing on offer). The falafal was yummy, if also poorly constructed (i.e. falafal on face), and the soup was very tasty. The prices are very good for the city – the sandwich was 6 euro, with several of the dishes on offer coming in under a fiver

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SJ got a gluten-free chocolate cake for dessert – I loved the fact that it was served on a patterned china plate with oodles of real whipped cream in a mound, not a pretty little dish/squiggle thing. It looked like something your Grannie made, and tasted of real ingredients. To be honest, it wasn’t chocolatey enough for my liking – more of a sugar-kick but pleasant nonetheless. I had a flat white, as I was keen to check out the coffee sitch for future loner visits. It was lovely – 3FE beans made by someone who knows how to use them.

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All in all, the Fumbally was well worth the visit – I almost wish it was not so out of the way, but then that would kind of miss the point. I wouldn’t swap either the vibe or the prices for a more flash city centre location. It just means lunch is more of an adventure…

Have you been? What did you think?

http://thefumbally.ie/

Homemade Granola

I know people just sing its praises, but I’ve found I just can’t get on the porridge bandwagon – the only way I’ll stomach even a spoonful is if it is laced with golden syrup or some such badness, and therefore defeating the purpose entirely I think. So apart from all the breakfasty delights like pancakes and waffles (and rashers), half of which would qualify as dessert, you are left with few options for a healthy breakfast that don’t leave you reaching for the vending machine (never..) at 11.00am. I think granola is a great compromise between muesli and the like of cornflakes in that it doesn’t taste like twigs, yet doesn’t contain a chocolate bar’s worth of sugar. When you make your own, you save on moolah, calories and also all that time you spend picking out the dried cranberries (just me then?).

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This, again, is not so much a recipe as some guidelines – toss in dried fruit or more nuts if that floats your boat. The proportions vary – this is not something for which you’ll need to pull out the weighing scales. Oats are your base, coconut oil is your fat, honey or agave is your sugar and the rest is up to you…

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200g oats

3 tbsp coconut oil

2 tbsp agave/honey

Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, linseed…

Flaked almonds, chopped hazelnuts/macadamia/brazil nuts

Use a flatish tray, and spread the dry ingredients out on it. Drizzle over the coconut oil and the agave. Mix everything together allowing some of the mix to form in clumps. Bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes – watch it like a hawk, it will burn in an instant.

As a treat I layered my granola with natural yoghurt and raspberry compote in a pretty glass – feels luxurious but fairly okay to have on a Wednesday morning.Enjoy..

 

Chinese duck spring rolls

IMG_0017Since I moved to Spencer Dock, I’ve often popped into the Oriental Emporium on Jervis Street before getting the Luas back home. In general, I find it a really fun place to look around, but also it has turned out to be a cheap place to do shopping for college dinners. There is even a 10% discount when you show a student card which I think is a lovely idea :). In particular, look out for large bags of raw shelled prawns for almost nothing, big packets of chinese cabbage or pak choi for a couple of euro and of course the sacks of rice at the front of the shop. I haven’t been brave enough to try any of the produce from the fresh butchery counter, but the selection of spice pastes and dry goods is unbeatable.

http://www.orientalemporium.ie/english/bref.php

I made these spring rolls with leftover stirfry veg and spring roll wrappers, to which I added the shredded roast duck, but the beauty of this is that you can use a huge variety of things – leftover noodles, fried rice, roast chicken or pork.. Cheaper, healthier and generally more satisfying (if only for the domestic goddess vibes) than a takeaway.

1 packet filo pastry/spring roll wrappers

1 duck leg

1/2 onion, chopped finely

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Vegetable mix: shredded cabbage, beansprouts, pak choi

Finely sliced red pepper (as thin as possible)

Handful Coriander/Thai sweet basil

Handful sesame seeds, toasted.

Chinese 5 spice powder, 1 tsp

Soy sauce, 1 tbsp

Sesame oil, 1 tsp

Nam pla (fish sauce) 1/2 tsp

1. Defrost the filo pastry sheets/spring roll wrappers. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Stirfry the onion and garlic in a wok with a teaspoon of peanut/sunflower oil. Add the other vegetables, cook for a couple of minutes until softened but still crisp, add the herbs and a tsp of soy sauce. Add the sesame seeds, turn off the heat and leave to one side.

3. Mix the spice, soy sauce, sesame oil and nam pla together and rub into the duck leg. Place on a rack in a roasting tray and pop in the oven.

4. Cook the duck leg for at least 1.5 hours. The skin should be crispy and golden, and the flesh should fall away from the bone. Leave to cool. You can keep the fat that will have collected in the bottom of the pan- this can be used to great effect roasting sweet potato wedges, as it will have the chinesey sort of flavours, and then the general goodness of duck fat.

5. When cool, finely shred the duck. Place the vegetable mix in a bowl and combine with the shredded duck.

6. Lay the spring roll wrappers/filo pastry out, place a small amount of filling and wrap like a burrito, tucking the top and bottom edges in first and rolling tightly. Brush some water on the edge to seal.

7. Place all rolls on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes. To get a lovely golden brown colour, finish by frying in 2inches of vegetable oil until crispy. Serve with plenty of soy sauce for dipping.

Coffee days

People are always always asking for recommendations of coffee shops and restaurants in Dublin – and I am like, I am an arts student, you think all I do is sit around and drink coffee?? Unreasonable. But to be honest, I have spent a considerable amount of time trying out the different places around, and I understand the pain of having to resort to a generic Starbucks or Costa just because you can’t haul yourself elsewhere (#firstworldproblems).

Anyway, here are my picks for coffee in close proximity to Trinity, and the city centre (the centre of the universe depending on who you ask…) – this is not my definitive list of great coffee shops in Dublin (this would most certainly include Brother Hubbards and 3FE) but where you can collapse between lectures, or grab a caffeine hit mid-shopping trip.

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For awesome coffee…

-Kaph

This is a relatively new find for me – I read a review online in the last few weeks and then when wandering around with Ali the other day, we serendipitously passed by. I had a delicious flat white, and Alison had a matcha latte. She assured me that it was delicious, but matcha is something I just don’t understand the appeal of. The place is really cool – there is an upstairs for sitting, but we stayed downstairs and perched in the deep window sill. They also have a good selection of paleo treats including raspberry financiers which I’ll most definitely be back to try.

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-Coffee Angel

I discovered Coffee Angel when I moved into our apartment in the Docklands because Coffee Angel has a stall every weekday by the Sean O Casey bridge from early morning till lunchtime. There is almost always a stream of people popping out from the giant offices in the IFSC to get their fix. The shop/cafe on Anne’s Street is small but nice, and the coffee is, as always, delish.

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For working hard/hardly working…

-Cup

Cup is ideally located in the it is a stone’s throw from Trinners, but I’ve found it is usually not crammed. The coffee is lovely, there are sandwiches and cakes also on offer, and it is quiet enough that you’d be left alone. I’ve had breakfast there a few times, and the deal with pastries, coffee and orange juice is quite reasonable, and a big treat.

-Lemon

This is an obvious choice – the crepes are lovely if horrendously over-priced compared to France, and the coffee is well above your standard Insomnia/Starbucks fare. There is also outdoor seating which is a huge novelty in Dublin, and the seating inside is all communal benches, so this is one place you wouldn’t mind sitting on your ownio for ages, as you aren’t taking up a whole table.DSC01451

Opening late…

-Accents

Accents is a brilliant business idea in that it opens until 11pm monday-saturday – I can’t think why there are not more places like this, as we often want to meet up for a coffee after college/work. I had walked past this place for ages, and never investigated as the outside doesn’t really do itself justice, but my sister advised me to give it a try, so I popped in and had a lovely skinny latte on the comfy coaches downstairs.

-Fixx Coffee House

Another fixture (lol) on Dawson Street, I discovered Fixx early in first year when we were searching for somewhere that our whole class (all 15) could go for coffee together. Fixx is big enough to join a few tables together and not annoy every single person in the café. Again the coffee is good, there is a large selection of cakes and pastries, and I’ve heard great things about the pancakes.DSC01435DSC01445

More cake please…

-Avoca 

This is a funny sort of addition on this list because I really really don’t like the coffee in Avoca. However, the cake is pretty great, and the cafe upstairs is just lovely. The portions are ginormous, and there is very little nicer in life than whiling away an hour with a huge piece of lemon cake or a scone and jam, with a pot of tea.

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-Lolly and Cooks 

This place is too cute – in the middle of the funky George’s Street Arcade (home to Om Diva and Yogism among others), it is a stall with some stools rather than a café, but with a fantastic selection of cupcakes and brownies (including lots of gluten-free options). The mall is always bustling, making it an interesting people-watching spot. A friend has highly recommended the sausage rolls – one to try if you can resist the temptation to lunch on cake!

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Piece of cake

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If you read the blog even somewhat regularly, you’ll know that I am a cake fan, but to be fair, who isn’t? Cake is something that is, as a general idea, uncontroversially good according to most sane people. Of course, don’t get me started on the different types – I personally loathe fruit cakes of all shapes and sizes, and I know lots of people who wouldn’t touch coffee cakes or marzipan or whatever.

But my point is that generally cake makes the world a much better place. And homemade cakes are so chic – not only has baking become a ‘cool’ activity again, but in general people who don’t bake are amazed at the magic mastery of people who do. Who wouldn’t want an adoring public? Bake a cake = have cake + people think you are the bomb = win-win.

When you’ve delicious fruit to make the most of before it disappears for the winter – the cake is unbeatable. This was a team effort between me and the grown up sister (hey Ruth) who is a much better baker than me (it was she who imposed the pattern for the fruit – I was in the just-scatter-it-randomly camp). It is fairly classic, but the vanilla, berries and just a hint of orange blossom in the sponge elevates this just slightly from your average Victoria Sponge. Simples.

Ingredients

175 g (6oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing 175 g (6oz) caster sugar

3 eggs

175 g (6oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2 tsp Orange Blossom Water

1 tsp baking powder

1 tblsp milk

icing or caster sugar, for sprinkling two 18cm (7in) diameter sandwich tins

200 ml cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Lots of raspberries and strawberries

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1.Preheat the oven to 180°C, butter the sides of each tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment.

2. Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds until just mixed, then gradually (SLOWLY) add them to the butter mixture, beating all the time. Add the orange blossom water. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the milk and fold in gently to incorporate.

4. Divide the mixture between the two tins. Make a slight hollow in the centre of each cake so that when it rises it doesn’t peak too much in the centre, making it difficult to sandwich together with the other half.

5. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 18–25 minutes or until golden on top and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then loosen around the edges of each cake using a small, sharp knife and carefully remove from the tins before leaving on a wire rack to cool down completely.

6. Whip the cream until reasonably stiff, fold in the vanilla extract. Slice up the strawbs, spread one of the cakes with the cream and then layer on the fruit. You could do it in a pattern if yo’ fancy. Eat immediately, or at least within a day or two. Enjoy (and remember)..

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Greek-inspired lamb koftas with yoghurt and seeded flatbreads

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As the summer sadly draws to a close, I was flicking through some holiday snaps from our family jaunt to Corfu in June, and got all nostalgic. Of course this made me hungry, so what could I do but turn out some greek-style comfort food? I love love love everything about Corfu – a most misunderstood place, mainly because people associate it with trashy bars, package holidays and crowded beaches. To be fair, this would not be an inaccurate way to describe certain parts of the south of the island, but most of Corfu is just beautiful, unspoilt, surprisingly green with the famously azure seas to rival any other island. The food is also great – if you know where to look. This recipe here is a particularly loose interpretation of greek cuisine, but I feel it does what Corfiot cooking does best, bringing different styles and tastes, Mediterranean with Middle-eastern and of course, abundant portions and lots of fresh vegetables.

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Ingredients

400g lamb mince

4 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

3 tbsp oat bran

1 egg, beaten

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Handful coriander, finely chopped

Spices

-1/2 tsp sumac

-1/2 tsp smoked paprika

-1/2 tsp mustard seeds

-1/2 tsp carraway seeds

-1/4 tsp allspice

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put all the spices into a dry frying pan and toast for 1-2 minutes. Pop in a pestle and mortar and crush.

2. Sweat the onion and garlic in 1/2 tsp olive oil until translucent.

3. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Leave for 30 minutes, then shape into small patties (about the size of a table tennis ball) and flatten slightly. Place on a baking tray.

4. Cook in the hot oven for about 15 minutes.

Seeded flatbreads

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-200g plain white flour

-1 tsp salt

-1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

-150 ml warm water

-5-6 tbsp mixed seeds

1. Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oil and warm water.

2. Make the mixture into a soft dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 5-7 minutes then return to the bowl.

3. Leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. Shape into a large oblong, and cut into 8 pieces. Roll each piece out as thinly as you can – use your hands to stretch it if needs be.

4. Heat a large frying pan (no oil), and cook the flatbreads one at a time, turning after about 1 minute. Dark spots on the bread will show you when to flip.

Yoghurt Dressing

-2 tbsp thick greek yoghurt

-1 tsp za’atar (or sumac)

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