Saturday, 27 December 2014

Nigella's Cappuccino Layered Pavlova

So it's nearing new year's and the over indulgence in luscious edibles is in full swing. A whole tub of freshly whipped cream, chocolate and Bailey's smothered invitingly over layered meringues sounds perfectly acceptable; even relatively light one might say! My version of cappuccino pavlova inspired by Nigella Lawson went down a treat after Christmas dinner this year. It is simple to prepare and importantly at this time of year, is best prepared in advance, plus the aesthetic value makes this a bit of a stunner. It is definitely one I have now firmly added to my repertoire of desserts for entertaining and I think it would be a lovely option for the sweet element of a new year's eve or day feast.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Orange & Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes

Orange and cinnamon is a scent and flavour combination that sings the jolly season and these pancakes will do the very trick into getting you into the Christmassy spirit! Whether you want to enjoy a lazy brunch over the Christmas period or would like a festive breakie to set you up before a day of trawling the shops to find those last-minute presents, these simple and tasty pancakes should hit the spot. I would advise you for this recipe, go and get yourself a set of cup measurements if you don't already have one. They can be purchased very cheaply and they make the quantities so simple for this recipe.
This recipes yields 6 pancakes and, to me, (and I am a pancake-fiend), 2 is more than enough.

Orange & Cinnamon Pancakes

Friday, 5 December 2014

#BPBR no. 4 - The Happy Pear

'The Happy Pear' by David & Stephen Flynn, published in 2014

I had heard quite a lot about these guys over the past year or so. They are very on the ball in the social media realm and I had read some great reviews of the excellent, wholesome and healthy food they serve in their renowned Greystones restaurant. I was sent a complimentary copy of this book from their publishers, Penguin Ireland. From my first leaf through this literally "tablet-sized" cookbook, I was eager to get cooking!

1. The photos in this cookbook are fun, attractive and appealing. Uber healthy food (which the book contains in bucket loads) is displayed as appetising and interesting. There isn't even the faintest whiff of boring "diet" style foods and so I found my list of to-try recipes began growing longer and longer as I leafed through the book. Hardly a complaint! It's no secret either that the Flynn twins are very easy on the eye and there are quite a few photos of the two guys throughout the book too. I always find that a cookbook with some people photos featuring among the vast array of food photos, is a good thing. And it's no different in the Happy Pear, where family, friendships and health are put to the forefront. One more lovely thing - you must check out the fabulous sunset photos on page 161 - a lovely interest that formed from the time of the birth of Dave's daughter...and grew legs from social media. Very pretty indeed!
Look at those dips and tasty treats!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Busy days!

It's busy times here at F.F. these days. We are in the process of moving into our new home and becoming first time homeowners! The excitement levels are high but it's also a very busy time. Although there are a few tasty, foodie posts almost ready to go, nothing is just as I'd like it so there will be no posting for a little whileen. This is partly due to trying to set up our internet connection in the new abode, plus all that aforementioned "busy-ness" of course.

I do of course mean my physical house! F.F. is staying right here in the interweb world ;-)
~ Image sourced from internet ~

Thursday, 16 October 2014

#BPBR no. 3 - Apron Strings

'Apron Strings', by Nessa Robins, published in 2013

My first Irish cookbook and one of my favourites. Nessa is a fellow blogger, who is one of the first people really that made me feel like I could actually give this food blogging lark a go! A few years back I first saw Nessa at a food demo at Totally Tipp and she has a lovely way about her and an ease with which she lovingly prepares her food. She is passionate about fresh, seasonal and Irish ingredients and sources much of her own herbs, fruit and vegetables at home in her own garden. This was a cookbook I was dying to snatch up as soon as it hit the shelves and I am a big fan, as I am of her great family food focused blog - Nessa's Family Kitchen.
'Apron Strings' by Nessa Robins

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sweet and Salty Peanut and Chocolate Cake

What is it with the combination of sweet and salty flavours in the last few months? It's so on trend, in the foodie sense, to combine these opposing taste sensations. Sometimes these trends can be a bit faddy but I am ALL FOR sweet and salty combined and after this inventive cake trial, there ain't nobody gonna tell me you can't put salted peanuts on a cake!

Sweet and Salty Peanut and Chocolate Cake

Friday, 26 September 2014

My Easy Peasy Pavlova Recipe

Last Sunday I baked and served one of my retro favs for a trip to the in-laws - a pavlova laden with lashings of fresh Irish cream and a pretty odd but lovely array of fresh fruit! There was a decent amount of liking and commenting over on Facebook and Instagram so to all my appreciated likers, here is my very simple, straightforward recipe for this delicious sweet treat, which is naturally gluten-free too!
This pavlova will serve about 6 to 8 portions (*ahem* but we shared it among four adults *cough*)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Baked Camembert with Pasta

Cheese, cheese, cheese. I could talk about cheese until the cows come home...and provide us with more milk, to make more cheese! Yay! I have been a cheese fanatic for as long as I can recall and I haven't found a cheese yet that I dislike. Cheese, being high in fat, I like to see as a treat. I also regard it as an important food to boost my intake of dietary calcium, along with yogurt, as I'm not a big fan of milk. I currently have a lovely vintage Cheddar and Parmesan (for an impending risotto) in my fridge and up until recently, there was a Camembert round too. Half of this Camembert round for 2 people (or the whole thing for 4) will provide you with this luscious and very simple pasta lunch dish. It is also a lovely date type of lunch as it requires sharing, which we are all more than happy to do with our partner, right?! I hope you enjoy.

Baked Camembert and spinach fusilli pasta are served

Friday, 12 September 2014

#BPBR no. 2 - The Hairy Dieters' Eat For Life

'The Hairy Dieters' Eat For Life', by Si King and Dave Myers, published in 2013

This was a work book club thingy find and it was a steal, I think I bought it for about €8. I am sucker for cookbooks in a general sense, but when a deal like this appears, there's no stopping me! I have seen a few episodes here and there of the Hairy Bikers, as they are more commonly known, and I felt this book would definitely be worth a try as I couldn't imagine these two guys ever wanting to scrimp on the flavour side of things. Their approach to healthier eating is pretty simple really - healthier choices and lower calories in what they cook and eat but happily their mantra will appeal to all foodies: "first and foremost our diet recipes are great food". So here's to great food!

The Hairy Dieters' Cookbook above, and below; some photos from the book - healthy chicken fajitas and biryani.

Friday, 5 September 2014

#BPBR no. 1 - Nigella Express

'Nigella Express', by Nigella Lawson, published in 2007.

This cookbook came into my possession at Christmas time in 2007 as a gift from my youngest sister Muireann. She knows me well. The book is well worn at this stage, which to me, is one of the best signs of a cookbook. This isn't my only cookbook by Nigella but it is the one I return to most often and is among my favourite cookbooks of my entire (sizable) collection. I hope you enjoy reading this review of 'Nigella Express', my first #BPBR!

The cookbook - 'Nigella Express' - did you guess this would be first up?!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

#BPBR - An Introduction

So I have come up with a new idea for the blog, which I am on planning on writing about over the coming months, until Christmas all going well. So what is #BPBR? Well, it means Bullet Point Book Review. Not long ago I was doing a bit of rejigging on the blog, looking over my about section and so on and I noticed I haven't done anything in the line of a cookbook review yet. I have a mighty stack of the things and just added four new books this past summer. So it's time to remedy that. My first #BPBR will be up on the blog tomorrow.

See can you guess which one of these books will be the subject of tomorrow's first #BPBR?!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Bell & Pot Café Kitchen, Dublin

This cute and quirky breakfast, brunch and lunch café is a real find! Nestled in a pretty hidden spot right behind the Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, beside the Travelodge hotel, I never even knew of its existence until Rory from the Eat Drink Run Fun blog and Niamh of Gourmet Grazing recommended it as a weekday breakfast spot in the heart of the city centre.

The Bell & Pot is open every day from 7 am to 9 pm and its breakfasts are top notch. I was catching up with my sister, after she arrived into Dublin airport on the red eye flight and before we were due to hop on the one of the yellow ducks and do the touristy thing around Dublin. The café had a lovely chilled vibe and there was a nice amount of people tucking into some tasty food, which gave the place a relaxed and welcoming buzz.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Hummingbird Hazelnut & Chocolate Cupcakes

These are the perfect kind of sweet treat when a sister, such as my own, is coming home for a little holiday. Or, if you're feeling down in the dumps and in need of a decent chocolate hit, they would be an advisable remedy. As this is back to school week for me and many, many teachers (and we cannot forget the students!) across Ireland and beyond, one of these would go a long way in easing that bit of back to routine blues ;-)

After my very memorable visit last year to the Hummingbird Bakery in London, I was quite sure that these cupcakes would rival any others I'd tried and I was not disappointed. My only adaptation to the original recipe is a change in quantities for the icing, as I had quite a lot left over on my first bake. These cupcakes are quick to bake and surprisingly simple to decorate.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cupcakes

Friday, 22 August 2014

The First Big Grill Festival, August 2014

I had been looking forward to this food festival for some time. It's been a long time since I was at a food festival, Bloom in Phoenix Park last year springs to any case, I was all set for a day of good food and entertainment. The entry fee into the Big Grill Festival in the lovely setting of Herbert Park in Ballsbridge was €15. There were early bird prices and I did get my ticket for a little less than this price. However, I was disappointed that literally everything had a cost involved once inside the venue. The cost was in the form of "smokin' tokens" and one token equated to one Euro.

Scenes from around the park at the Big Grill Festival

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Duomo - Two Michelin Star Dining in Sicily

I have eaten in a couple of restaurants I would class as very high standard; Neven Maguire's MacNean Restaurant in Cavan stands out, as does the beautiful gourmet getaway, The Old Convent in Tipperary. L'Écrivain, with its one Michelin star in Dublin didn't fully wow me as I thought it would. So, I was certainly excited but also had some mixed feelings about what to expect in Duomo, a two Michelin star restaurant in the spectacular UNESCO baroque town of Ragusa Ibla in Sicily.

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Chiappas' Cinnamon Sponge Cake with Apples

'Simply Italian' by the Chiappa Sisters is a very recent addition to my cookbook collection and I am delighted with it. I love the combination of cinnamon and apple and when I read through this recipe I straight away knew it was a sweet treat I really wanted to try out. I had one of my sisters calling over for dinner and baking fever is high these days anyway with The Great British Bake Off on our screens every Wednesday evening. Plus, I recently discovered that apparently it's afternoon tea week until 17th August and just how authentic an afternoon tea treat is a slice of sponge cake with a cup of hot tea?!

So there, I had three excuses to bake. I have slightly adapted the recipe from the original. You will get about eight generous portions from the cake. Here goes...

Monday, 11 August 2014

Gluten-Free Cookery Classes with the Coeliac Society of Ireland

A few weeks ago, I was kindly invited by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, as a guest to one of their cookery classes in the Miele Gallery, in Citywest, Dublin. I am not a coeliac myself, but I do feature quite a few gluten-free recipes on my blog - you can check out my gluten-free label on my homepage - and I am aware that gluten-free diets, due most often to medical reasons or sometimes personal lifestyle choices, are becoming far more common in Ireland.

Gluten-free menu: Top - Profiterole with goat's cheese, left bottom - Tagliatelle carbonara, right bottom - Pancakes

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Hairy Dieters' Chicken Tikka Masala

I said I would blog the most popular recipe chosen from my first blog birthday post and true to my word, here it is, and I do not think you'll be disappointed. I will give one piece of advice - marinade in advance, as in the night before you plan to serve it. I have to say this really impacts upon the flavour and makes this a truly winning and satisfying version of one the most popular takeaway treats. And, added bonus, it's healthy!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Hugo's Restaurant, Dublin

Hugo's Restaurant on Dublin's Merrion Row, was somewhere that I was blissfully unaware of for quite some time. On the particular evening we ate there, we were in search of a pre-theatre meal, close to the Gaiety Theatre, in a restaurant that could accommodate us at 5 pm at the latest. Hugo's opens at 5 o'clock, so we were in business. I love the outside of Hugo's - the turquoise/aquamariney colour is striking and appealing and an unusual but pretty choice for a restaurant facade I think.

Hugo's front
~ Image sourced from website ~

Friday, 1 August 2014

Best Potato Gratin

We Irish love our potatoes, and for many reasons, feel a very strong bond to the humble spud. It features on many the Irish dinner plate. But we have to hand it to the French, potato gratin or 'pommes de terre dauphinoise' is a pretty mean recipe to spruce up a potato. It is one of my very favourite ways to serve potato and it's a real treat. This recipe is always a winner for me and I hope you like it too.

Best potato gratin, served!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Beeftro, Dundrum

This restaurant has been on my list for quite some time. Tough life working through that list...! Many foodie friends have both spoken about it and written about it on their blogs. Instagram pictures have tempted me. Foodie tweets have allured me. Then there's beef in the title and when Irish steak is good, it is a meal that is really hard to beat. Eventually off I went to pay a visit and see for myself. That long awaited visit materialised on a Wednesday evening as a time out on a little summer shopping trip with my sister.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

1st Birthday - Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake & Some Reader Interaction

I think it's true to say that it's an exciting time for any enthusiastic blogger when you come to a milestone such as this. Happy first birthday Fascination Food - I like the ring of it! Of course, there were at least three years prior to that, of tweeting and talking, baking and cooking, and sampling new cuisines in different restaurants...but when I finally bit the bullet, I was delighted to call myself a food blogger, and still am, one year on.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Sicily: Its Fabulous Food & Wine

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you'll be aware that I spent a week in the stunning south Italian island of Sicily around the beginning of July. Excuse the probably excessive bragging. I couldn't help myself. Well, without a doubt, an amazing week was had. In no particular order here are my top ten recommendations for delicious food and wine in Sicily...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Gluten-Free Polenta Chicken Kievs

Yes, I have been somewhat on a gluten-free buzz on and off for the last while - for the sweet tooths among you, check out my pear and almond tart recipe. But for now, back to dinner. Polenta is  a new friend to me it! It is a relatively recent discovery but a very pleasant one at that. This recipe is super easy and very tasty. It also leaves you with none of that bloated, sluggish feeling that a heavily bread-crumbed kiev might. So anyway, I'm just going to get on with it. This serves two hungry garlic-ophiles and is very quick to prepare!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

An Port Mór Restaurant, Westport, Co. Mayo

Westport has long been one of my favourite places to get away to in Ireland. It has a happy, relaxed and welcoming buzz at any stage of the year. My last visit to Mayo in June was for a good friend's wedding taking place close by. As I knew we would have one free night to venture out into Westport and due to various good reports and bits and pieces I had read through Good Food Ireland and other sources, I was quite intent upon An Port Mór being our dinner spot. There were absolutely no regrets after what was a fabulous meal in a pretty, serene and unpretentious setting.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Fudge

For the day that's in it - Fourth of July, Independence Day, I felt it only right to go with an American theme for today's blog post. I picked up a jar of the delicious, gooey decadence that is 'Marshmallow Fluff' in Aldi lately and was thinking of ways I could incorporate it into an authentic American style dessert. Peanut butter always comes to mind for me in the context of a real honest to goodness American treat. And so, to combine the two...Fudge! Now, as you may know, or have guessed, chocolate is one of my first loves, so I couldn't neglect it either. Here goes, I hope you enjoy. And please be advised, don't even think about calorie counting. This is plain and simply, sweet and indulgent comfort food!
*Watch out for the tip (soft ball test).

The ingredients

Monday, 30 June 2014

Freshly Spiced Indian Lamb & Dublin Cookery School

Two summers ago I attended a week long course called 'Cooking for Friends' at Lynda Booth's Dublin Cookery School. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, worthwhile and fun learning experience. Their tutors and equipment are second to none and it is a fabulous foodie alternative to a typical holiday, or a means to keep out of trouble if you're as lucky as I am to have a long summer of two months off work!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Foodie Meetup in Dublin - House and Opium

I have wanted to go on a foodie meetup for some time now. When myself, Kate (of Kate's Kabin) and Carol (of Gin & Griddle) started discussing it a month or so ago, I was delighted to be getting things in motion. It is a wonderful thing to meet up with like minded people, and let's be honest, for a few foodie snaps to be celebrated rather than receiving the rolling eyes! Unfortunately Carol couldn't make it but hopefully she will for the next one. We had a small but great all female bunch of food bloggers, reviewers and nutrition students and graduates - all proud and happy to go along with the foodie label.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Kids' Simple Chocolate Top Hats

Hello, welcome to June and welcome to summertime! It's hard to believe that in summer 2013 I started this blog and it won't be long at all until baby blog turns one! How times flies when you're having fun. But for now, on to celebrations recently passed.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Gluten-Free Pear and Almond Tart

I'm on a bit of a gluten-free roll these days! Having discovered that gluten-free pastry isn't as tricky to make is one thing, but, more importantly, it tastes very good and still has a lovely crisp and crumbly texture. If you want to make this delicious tart with plain flour, by all means do. The pastry will work out just as well. I have always been a lover of pear and almond or frangipane tart. Believe me, with a dollop of freshly whipped vanilla cream, this is a real treat. The pastry, pears and frangipane mixture can also be prepared in advance, which is always a bonus for time saving, especially if it's something you would like to serve for dessert while entertaining. This recipe is inspired by Angela Hartnett's recipe, which I found on the Delicious Magazine website. The tart serves 8 generous portions and you will need a 24 - 26 cm diameter tart tin.
Gluten-free Pear and Almond Tart

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Easter in Prague

Prague is a European city that I have wanted to visit for quite some time. I can now say, with absolute certainty, I am so glad I have finally taken a trip to "The Golden City".

What would you tend to think of when you think of Prague? Beer, quite possibly. The Czechs are the second highest consumers of beer in the world! Pork knuckle, ham hock, Prague ham and various variations. The stunning beauty of the well preserved buildings, the 650 year old Charles Bridge, The Old Town Square with its majestic astronomical tower, the oldest medieval castle in the world?! Prague has so much to offer and as a foodie destination, it is a definite winner.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Happy Easter!

Hi all. I am off enjoying the sights (and food!) in Prague this Easter weekend. As Easter is synonymous with chocolate, which is one of my very favourite things, I must share with you one of the most glorious chocolate desserts - Nigella's instant chocolate mousse. Mmm! You can check out and try the recipe for yourself here. It would make a perfect Easter Sunday dessert. It is luscious and indulgent but the big home baker bonus is how easy it is to make. I wish one and all a very happy, relaxing and sweet Easter!

Na zdraví! - cheers, sláinte and bon app, from Praha. X

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake

Sometimes, less is more and simplicity is the way forward. When it comes to cakes, as much as I adore triple chocolate lusciousness from time to time, or the stunning aesthetic of a rainbow cake, I very often return, with much joy, to the good old sponge! This recipe for Victoria sponge is taken from Lorraine Pascale's 'Baking Made Easy'. To me, it is perfectly simple and the result is a cake that rises beautifully and is springlike and light to eat. Now that strawberries are beginning to come into season, combining them with this cake as its filling, makes for a perfect match. Serve your friends or family a slice of this with a hot cup of tea from your best China teacup and you will surely be a truly impeccable afternoon tea host or hostess!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Black Pudding and Blue Cheese Quiche

This quiche is a real homage to some of the very best of Irish produce we have on offer to us and it includes two of my firm favourites - Black Pudding (sourced from the renowned and award-winning Kelly's Butchers of Newport, Co. Mayo) and Cashel Blue Cheese (now in its thirtieth year, this is arguably Ireland's greatest cheese export). So, a little bit of French traditional cooking (la quiche) combined with some delicious Irish flavour combinations, et violà, we have a delicious meal! This quiche is best served cold and is a fantastic, quick and easy breakfast option. It is also a perfect picnic treat and fingers crossed, there may be more occasions for picnicing as the spring rolls into the summer. You will need a 26 cm pie dish for this quiche. I made this quiche with gluten-free flour and although most Irish puddings contain gluten, both Clonakilty and Hogins now provide gluten-free versions. I had a little gander at the Coeliac Society of Ireland's forum, and the consensus is that the Clonakilty gluten-free is the best one to go for. Of course, this recipe can also be made with regular plain flour and regular pudding, such as the Kelly's one I used. Bon appétit!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Eton Mess with a French Twist

Since purchasing my Kenwood Chef, (yes, I know I've been mentioning it a lot, but it's my newest and most treasured possession!) I have wanted to try out meringues, specifically to make Eton Mess. I decided to add one of my favourite liqueurs, to give it that extra 'je ne sais quoi' and Creme de Cassis does just that. Married with the fact that it adds to an intense berry flavour through the dessert, the cute pink shade of the cream is just lovely. This would make a great dinner party dessert. It's light, yet really sweet and tasty and once you've your meringues made, it's a doddle to prepare! I adapted my meringue recipe from one of the culinary goddesses, Delia's recipe, on her website, which can be found here. Using all of the meringues, this would easily serve 8 people, but my recipe is to serve 4 people, so you can hold onto and store your leftover meringues for future sweet occasions.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Mother's Day

I found this anonymous quotation online recently. It is so filled with truth, for all sons and daughters I believe...
'Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.'

I have always believed there is such a strong link between nourishment and love. In many ways, what greater love than the love of the one who brings you into this world! So, on Mother's Day, let's celebrate.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Old Convent, Co. Tipperary

It has taken me quite some time to write this blog post about a place I have many times referred to as "my favourite restaurant". There's no "in Ireland" or "for a special occasion" attached to that, although it is certainly very special. It is just a wonderful place, with heavenly food, spectacular hospitality and it is a true hidden gem.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Hairy Dieters' Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is a dish that has long been enjoyed in our family and was always a staple at family events, as it's a great slow cooker dish and always goes down a treat for buffet style gatherings. This fail safe version will always be a winner but I really like this recipe too, even though it breaks the mould in many ways. For one, it is a much lighter version with a far lesser calorie count per serving. It is also a quick to prepare stroganoff and works best when served immediately, so it falls very nicely into the weekday meal category. It also uses a more expensive cut of beef - sirloin - so costs a bit more than the regular version, which works best made with stewing beef. However, a little sirloin goes a long way, so don't be turned off if budget shopping is part of your agenda. Many of my foodie friends on Twitter have talked with great enthusiasm about Si King and Dave Myers' new diet cookbooks. So when their most recent one "Eat for Life" arrived in the book club at work, I just couldn't resist another purchase to add to my already towering selection of cook books! I have to say, I am well impressed with the layout of the book, the simplicity of the recipes and this, their version of stroganoff, which I have slightly adapted, comes with a big thumbs up from me!
This recipe serves 3 - 4 people.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

I love homemade soup and always have. It reminds me of relaxing Saturdays and late lunches as a child. It is the perfect lunch after you've just had a great big play outside in the garden! Or else, for the grown-ups, it's one of the best antidotes to a rainy day, a bad day or even a sore head, perhaps?!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Vintage Kitchen

This quaint, quirky and highly regarded dining spot, nestled right beside the renowned Mulligan's pub on Poolbeg Street in Dublin, has long been on my "to visit" foodie list. I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to head for dinner one blustery Friday evening in January. January is a long and miserable month, let's be honest. So, I decided as a cheer me up, I'd email the Vintage Kitchen, who were then on a yearly break, and request a table for two. I received a prompt response and was duly given my table at my chosen time. No probs. Job done. I subsequently found out, through Twitter, that it is often very difficult to get a table at all. Lucky me!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Afternoon Tea and a Wonderful Wedding

As it's Valentine's Day, I wanted to share with you a nice experience combining love and food. What's not to like?! The story goes back many months, to about summertime 2013 when a very close cousin and friend (Catherine) asked my sister and I if we would like to prepare an afternoon tea type selection of sweet goodies to be served at the drinks reception on her wedding day on 30th December 2013. At first, the thought was a little daunting (by daunting, I mean scary!) but we gladly agreed and we felt really privileged to be included in their special day in such a lovely way. Thus ensued, some planning, preparatory baking, and research, involving trying various sweet treats out for quality and taste purposes of course - what fun! Christmas rolled around and by the 28th we were both ready to go. Baking begun in earnest in our respective apartments on the evening of the 28th and the morning of the 29th. When we arrived on the wild west coast of Ireland on 29th December, icing was made, chocolate was melted and decorating begun. The following morning, we set up our "trestle table" as my sister, an ex-wedding planner called it. We covered our goodies from any straying paws, dolled ourselves up and headed off to see the lovely Catherine marry the equally lovely Kevin. The reaction to the mini sweet treats was great and most especially and importantly, Mr. and Mrs. Cryan were really pleased!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread

As Valentine's Day is just around the corner, these shortbread biscuits are aptly heart-shaped, but you can go with any other non-romantic, regular or even unusual shape, as you see fit. In any case; sweet, buttery shortbread, combined with chocolate is always a winner. They are also so quick and simple to make and would make a really fun baking activity with children. Let them go crazy with the sprinkles, hundreds and thousands, writing icing etc. and create their own little edible masterpieces! My sister made these not long ago at a family wedding and every time I visit the lovely Ariel House, they serve up delicious chocolate-dipped heart shortbreads too. So, I felt it my duty to try them out for myself and share them with you!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Tiramisu and a little bit of Love

So, first it was Tiramisu Roulade, now it's Tiramisu. Yes, I am a fan of creamy, chocolately desserts. This recipe is adapted from Rachel Allen's "Entertaining At Home" cookbook, which I turn to quite a bit for dinner party ideas. What I love about this recipe is the ease at which the dessert can be whipped up, on the morning of your special meal, or even better, the night before. The extra plus is its simplicity, there is no cooking required. So, now that January has passed and our well intended vows of calorie control may be waning slightly, this sweet recipe can make an appearance! Plus, Valentine's day is approaching and this would make a pretty perfect end to a special home cooked meal for a loved one. Whatever the occasion and whomever you are feeding, I do hope this dessert goes down a treat.
This recipe serves 4/5 generous individual portions.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Homemade Pasta Bake with Posh Sausages!

I have always loved pasta bake. It really comforts you on a cold winter's night, doesn't it? I suppose the most renowned and universally loved is the good old lasagne. You can take a look at my family recipe here.

For whatever reason, I always used to make up pasta bakes as more a side dish, rather than the main event, and I never really knew where meat could/would figure in the dish. Recently, randomly, my predicament was resolved; I found a purpose for the "posh sausage"!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Beef-tastic Burgers

Friday night - burgers and chips. You can't beat it really, can you? I generally love to add a few little thoughts and anecdotes in my blog posts (you could call it rambling on..!), but sometimes, you just have to get down to business. I feel this is one of those times. This recipe serves 4 burgers (perhaps less people, that's really down to hunger levels).

Friday, 10 January 2014

Chilli con Carne (A.K.A. Healthy Dins Part Deux)

So, I hope you're still ploughing through January. How many days left? Are we still not even half way though?! January, to me, always seems like the longest month. December has a total of 31 days too and it flies, every year - no questions asked, but January is another story altogether...

Monday, 6 January 2014

Asian Chicken & Veg Parcels

We have just rung in the new year 2014; the chocolates, biscuits, crisps, cakes etc. etc. are gradually being depleted and our want for a fresh, healthier start is setting in. So here comes a healthy dinner idea, which is nonetheless really flavoursome and satisfying. I have adapted this recipe from Neven Maguire's "Country Living Volume 2" cookbook, which he very kindly gave my husband and I during out stay in MacNean House last summer (ahh - the memories!) It is quick and simple to prepare and would make a perfect weeknight meal. The surprise element to opening up your tasty parcel is also a fun and unique twist!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Looking Back, Going Forward

First off - welcome one and all to 2014 and a happy new year to you! Every good wish and happiness in this new year.

Now to cast a little look back on the year that was 2013. For me, it was a busy one, an exciting one, a celebratory one, and a very special one. I happily spent year one with my husband, celebrating our anniversary on the shortest day of the year 2013, just a couple of weeks ago. I bid farewell to my twenties (in style!)...and I set up this food blog - a wish that I had long held.