So I don't have any photos of the last Loaves&Fishes supper as we had to cancel because of the ice and snow. Wah! I know. Totally gutted I was.After a long week of cabin fever we were able to leave the house and get supplies (butter, milk and a Christmas Tree.) So I put up holly and ivy everywhere and lit the fire. Next on the list of cheery uppy festive things is baking. I have been baking non-stop!
It's beginning to feel alot like Christmas around here! The next supper is on this coming Saturday the 4th December, eeeeek! The time flies! I've been testing out mince pie recipes since Halloween and drinking mulled apple juice as I peel chestnuts and frown at the thought of us being unable to get a Christmas Tree so early. Hopefully (or should I say hohohopefully) we will be able to get one by the weekend! Anyway after much cooking and eating we have finalised the menu.
Mulled Apple Juice
Pernod & Langoustine Soup with kalamata olive bread
I was looking for a soup recipe everywhere, I wanted to have a nice festive menu with all of the usuals like prawns, turkey, cranberries etc. making an appearance. The first time I made this soup it took me four hours. Shelling the prawns, making the stock, skinning the fish, driving to my parents house to rob leeks from their garden (springing a leak!) and so on. By the time I was blending up the broth I just had had enough of it. But as soon as I tasted it the sweet langoustines enveloped me and the liquoricey Pernod kissed me reassuringly on the forehead. I just had to put it on the menu!
Also there have been a few cancellations so do get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to come. Now Sold out. Thanks!x
Milk Tart is a traditional South African dessert that we used to always have at barbeques and get togethers in Zimbabwe when we were small. Someone always brought shortbread and there was always Milk Tart. The traditional tart is a vanilla scented set custard lightly dusted with cinnamon. It really is beautiful. But I decided to try out a chocolate version too just to see what it was like. So I just stirred some grated chocolate through some of the mix and added cocoa to the pastry. My marbling is a bit messy! But it did taste gorgeous.
I felt guilty because poor Bo always watches me baking but never gets to eat any of it! (Except for that time she horsed down three coffee cakes when I was on the phone.) Every food photo I take for the blog she is in the background tilting her head hopefully. She's after getting so big since we got her way back in February!
We used to always have spiced beef at Christmas when I was small. I always haaaated it. To me it was like a weird mix of Christmas pudding spices and Sunday roast. Why??! Such a weird combination. But this year I found myself drawn to it. I had to have spiced beef. O'Farrells Butchers in Midleton, Cork are brilliant and they always have gorgeous cuts of meat and can do anything with it for you. I was going into them last week for lamb shoulder and as I came in they were hanging up a sign saying 'All Ireland Spiced Beef Champions 2009' and it just hit me. Like in a film. I had to get spiced beef. But theirs wasn't ready yet as they were doing a big batch to send to this years Spiced Beef Championships so I had to go without.
Recently we went to an amazing wedding in Greve, a small town in Tuscany, about 20km from Florence. After the wedding, incredible meal, singsong and 5am walk home in the pitch dark through a vineyard in flipflops where at one stage I slid down a ravine of some sort we awoke to find that the main square in the town had been transformed with tables and benches and a huge barbeque area. It was the Meat Festival. Praise the lord. Huge men cut massive t-bone steaks and a real Italian mama manned the grill. It was the best breakfast ever.
The town of Greve is tiny but had an incredible shop and butchers that sold all sorts of preserved meats and wild boar products. The ceiling was covered in hams and the smell was amazing! In the cool dark basement all of the cheeses were sitting patiently as if waiting for something exciting to happen. I'm sure I gave them a good laugh when I banged my head on the stone door frame, the stairs were so damn low.
So our first Loaves & Fishes Supper event is just around the corner. Everyone is booked in and ready to go. And after lots of cooking and eating and more cooking we have our menu finalised! This Saturday night we'll be serving up the following:
Pilaf with Slow roast spiced lamb & Aubergine with Buttermilk sauce
Tunisian Orange Cake with Maya Gold Chocolate Soup
Caramelised walnuts & Marzipan dates
Tea & Coffee
For the first one I stuck to foods that I love to cook as I'll feel more confident then! There'd be no point in trying something drastically different when there's a load of hungry people waiting for dinner! I'll post photos of the food and a recipe or two after the event.
For a long time I avoided poppy seeds. I just saw them as annoying little things that get caught in your teeth. But then one day I scattered them liberally over loaves of bread ( the recipe told me too). I used them in a gorgeous Ottolenghi cucumber salad. And now I'm putting them in cake. They actually add a nutty taste and distinctive texture. There's no saint like a converted sinner; I now love poppy seeds and put them in everything!
This is just the type of cake to make at this time of year. The berry season is pretty much over but there's always plenty lemons.The weather is getting a bit colder and we're drinking alot more tea. It's time to have a cake in the tin to go with all those cups of tea and there's nothing like a citrus cake to remind you of those summer days!
So... we're starting a Supper Club! Huzzah! Loaves and Fishes will be a once a month event where you can come to a home in Dublin, sit back and relax safe in the knowledge that some gorgeous food is about to go down. I'll be sourcing most of the food in Cork's famous English Market. Everything will be made from scratch with fresh Irish produce.
So here is what you'll need to know:
If you have any allergies please let me know well in advance. Vegetarians are welcome, allergy wise I will probably be cooking with nuts alot though.
This will be in a home, Not a restaurant. But the food will be homely and gorgeous and the atmosphere more relaxed and social.
I come from a big family so the staff for the night will consist of my sisters & friends. None are waitresses. We'll do our best but keep this in mind!
We won't be selling any alcohol so you can bring your own wine, we won't charge corkage!
I will do a blog post about the menu a few days in advance.
To book your ticket to this event email email@example.com with your name and mobile number, I will also ring & confirm your place the day before. 40 euro per ticket: a welcome drink & 5 courses.
Our first supper will be on Saturday November 6th in Dublin. Hope to see you there!
I'm actually still in Italy so don't have Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls book with me to get this recipe but as I was googling Damson Cheese I came across this brilliant blog , Mudpies & Minestrone, and have just spent the past hour reading all the beautiful recipes and posts. I love that; When I come across something different and fresh. Sarah over at Mudpies and Minestrone is also a caterer, all the lucky Londoners having access to her inventive cooking!
I'm a disgrace! I know. I went to London about two weeks ago and still haven't shown you any photos. I actually didn't bring a camera. So I just took photos with my phone, excuse the poor quality! The highlights of my three day whirlwind romance with the English Capital begins with my lunch in The Hummingbird Bakery in Soho. I made a beeline from the airport to here. I sat perched on a stool eating this beautiful raspberry cheesecake brownie safe in the knowledge that I have the recipe at home in their brilliant book. Swoon. This was followed by an amazing sugar headache and a trip to Maison Bertaux for some more cake and pastries. I also went to the Selfridges Exhibition of Shoes by Vivienne Westwood, amaaaazing. Especially if you're off your face on sugar. Then I sat in a park in Soho reading for two hours and watching people play table tennis.
I was given this incredible bottle of cherries soaked in alcohol from a Polish friend. It's changed my life. Well it did change my life for a week because I ate drunken cherries with yogurt, on top of chocolate cupcakes, added to brownies and then to top off the week made this massive Black Forest gateau. I had to stop myself from adding them to my porridge on Friday morning! The back of the label simply states: Eat the cherries, Drink the alcohol, Long may it last. I'm sure you could get this stuff in your local Polish shop, I meant to check today. I'd be interested to see how much it is as the Bols Cherry Kirsch stuff that I usually buy is over 30 euro, ouch! And it doesn't taste half as nice as this, and you get incredible cherries too!
Every morning when I'm walking Bo I see loads of gorgeous sea shells along the shore. Last week I was late for work because I was combing the beach for the perfect scallop shell. Why? Because I had an idea for a craft that I wanted to do and couldn't rest till I'd done it! So finally here she is: The Seashell Salt & Pepper pinch pots. Catchy no?
Alls you need is some pretty shells,some gold paint and some rocks. I used a pair of matching mussells and a scallop shell. Collect some interesting shaped rocks with a flat base. You should be able to 'sit' your shells nicely onto the rocks. Paint the rocks gold or silver. Navy blue would be nice too. Nautical but nice.
One of my favourite restaurants in Cork is The Ivory Tower. It's where we usually go when we want to be dazzled and wooed by someones cooking. I love being able to relax safe in the knowledge that someone talented and creative is making my dinner! There's no worse feeling than sitting in an uncomfortable 'dining room' situation waiting to eat and pay for mediocre food. Most special occasions I'd rather spend the money on gorgeous ingredients and a beautiful wine to enjoy at home rather than pay top dollar for the same old dingdong in a restaurant. A few weeks ago I was telling a friend about a gorgeous meal in The Ivory Tower and how everything was perfect. She said that if I love it there then I will definitely love The Silk Purse, Open since April last year above An Cruibin. So we went there last night and sure enough I loved it.
So last year I never planted any flowers and then I couldn't believe it when no flowers grew. This year I knew better so I scattered wild flower seeds like there was no tomorrow and now: Badabing! Flowers everywhere for the past two months! Hundreds of butterflies, billions of bees. It's absolutely gorgeous.
I love having flowers in the house but don't like the air miles that most clock up so this is the perfect solution.
I've been arranging bunches all summer so here's some tips from my Housewifes Handbook (actually quite a good book.)
I seem to never be able to throw out a magazine. Probably because on Page 85 there is a small photo of curtains that I like, or a recipe, or an interview with an inspiring woman who has perfected the work/life balance and has two rosy cheeked children called Freddie and Delilah and a brilliantly behaved springer spaniel. I never throw out the magazines because I'm afraid I might forget all this 'stuff'. What if one day I wake up and can't remember if that beautiful bedroom was painted with Farrow and Ball's 'Elephant's breath' or 'Mouses back'? Well I have come up with a solution. Thank God.
You know me. Usually I stick flowers all over the cakes I make. Loads of icing. Berries. Cream. More Icing. Crystallised flowers. Stuff everywhere. But let me tell you, this beautiful cake needed nothing. No rum flavoured syrup, no peanut butter icing with banana chips. It's just a lightly spiced honey flavoured banana loaf. The texture is soft and pillowy. When I had it for breakfast I sighed. I have to make it again soon.
When we were in Bordeaux recently we went to The Museum of Decorative Arts. It's basically a load of pretty china and painted gorgeousness all stuffed into incredibly beautiful rooms. Real Boudoir style pastels and huge chandeliers, Gold chairs with velvet seats, plump feather filled day beds covered in hand embroidered fabrics. Everything is opulent and beautiful. The walls are lined with glass cases, and the cases are full of china. Cups, Saucers, Teapots and plates. I have never seen so much gorgeous stuff!