Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies (and back to school!)

Brownies...the ideal form of chocolate courage as summer draws to a close and the school year approaches! This recipe comes from my tried and tested food guru, Nigella Lawson. It is taken from her cookbook, "Nigella Express", and the recipe is entitled flourless chocolate brownies. For me, brownies are not fool proof and quite a few recipes I've tried, just didn't deliver, whether it be on appearance, texture or flavour. This recipe works - producing rich, dark, chocolaty brownies with just the right amount of gooeyness! They are also gluten free and so they are suitable for coeliacs or anyone suffering with an intolerance to gluten or wheat. Ground almonds are the secret ingredient and they really help to create that lovely dense and luscious consistency. Give them a go, I'm quite sure you won't be disappointed!
On the left from top: pre-oven, cooked, cut into squares. Main photo: the taste test!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Curried Couscous Salad

This is a quick Monday blog post for a handy, tasty and slightly different take on a salad. It goes well with many main courses; such as chilli con carne, BBQ ribs, Asian style marinated fish or meat, even with the lasagne on the blog. And yes, I know that it may seem odd (or even wrong!) to mix these two distinct flavours, but then cooking and eating is very personal, so why not is what I say!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Baked Vanilla and Berry Cheesecake

Since I discovered the wonder that is the baked cheesecake a few years back, thanks to one of my sisters, I have been meaning to try bake one for myself. I went with a typical New York vanilla style but decided to add a little a little touch of summer by incorporating some fresh summer berries. My favourite berries are raspberries, but you could certainly go with blueberries or blackberries instead, even halved strawberries would work nicely. This recipe is incredibly easy. The texture is great, more dense than a fridge-chilled cheesecake, but nonetheless, delicious and it also looks pretty, so it's a bit of a knock out dessert for a dinner party! Plus, cheesecake is best prepared the day before, giving you plenty of time to focus on more pressing issues while hosting a dinner party - such as popping open and enjoying a glass of sparkling wine - just as an example!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Neven Maguire’s MacNean House and Restaurant

Some images from the stunning MacNean House and on top, with Neven!

If you are a true lover of quality Irish food, excellently prepared and executed, served in an elegant setting by the friendliest, most welcoming staff, you will want to be putting MacNean House and Restaurant in Blacklion, County Cavan, on your foodie bucket list.

The man behind the Cavan phenomenon is Neven Maguire – an inspired chef, a friendly and engaging person, a true gentleman.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Quick and Easy Condiments

This Friday blog post will, hopefully, impart some quick and easy condiment ideas to you, which may well come in handy over the weekend, to add that little extra “Je ne sais quoi!” to your cooking and mealtimes!
Firstly, I LOVE steak dinner! Mmm-mmm-mmmmm! In the recent years, my husband and I (that is to say my husband) have discovered how to cook steaks just to our liking. What a revelation! When it comes to a sauce, sometimes laziness sets in and I just use a pre-made  sauce, often adding in some sautéed onions, mushrooms and garlic. So a little while back I decided to make my own herb and garlic butter to top the steak. It is so simple and so tasty!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Baked Mushroom Risotto

Perhaps to go against one or other "culinary rule", I generally don't like my risotto too liquid. Now, stodgy, I don't go for either, but I mean if I was looking for soup, I'd ask for soup! Anyone with me?!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Mammy's Healthy Lasagne

We all love our own mother’s comfort meals and by far and away my favourite was her lasagne. When I was thirteen, the eldest of three busy little ladies, our mammy died after battling cancer for almost two years. It was a very sad and difficult time for all of us. Any of you who have lost someone close and special will appreciate and understand that. One of the ways of helping with life and moving forward is by chatting about the person and reminiscing on those endless good memories and happy times you shared. One way I can relive a very happy and comforting feeling is in some of the foods she showed me to make and shared with me. Food really is love in so many ways, just like Nigella’s quote in my “About” post! This is a meal I believe you should take your time over and put a lot of love into. Don't be turned off by the method that may seem a little long or complicated,  just take it at your own pace, and I am quite positive you'll want to make it again and again!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fishy Fishy, Kinsale

I find it a bit bizarre but I think it’s true to say that, for many Irish people, fish is still something to be wary of, or something almost foreign. I am a midlands girl and have always liked fish. When I’m by the sea, I’m actually at my happiest, and always eager to see and taste the fishy pleasures that are available. Whether you adore fish and seafood or are inquisitive and eager to try some, Fishy Fishy in Kinsale, County Cork, is a very safe bet.

The restaurant/café is bright, buzzing, airy and chilled. You can wear a dress, jeans, a shirt, a t-shirt, even “golfing chic”! To me, it seems that anything goes and this is certainly part of its appeal. It puts you right at ease, from first entering the restaurant. The menu focuses a lot on daily specials, implying to me that what is freshly caught is what they work around on a daily basis.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

August - Gourmet Month!

It’s the first of August people and supposedly the first day of Autumn in our neck of the woods! For those who call it Fall, I’m not so sure if it’s Fall yet, but regardless, I wish you all a joyous welcome to Autumn!

Anyway, I should probably be clear from the outset that this post is going to be a tad self-indulgent and boastful. If you’re still there and want to continue reading, that’s super!

So this month holds two amazing gastronomic delights for me and I have been looking forward to it for quite some time.