You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2007.
There’s obviously something weird going on with me and technology at the moment. First off, I managed to mist up my camera lens when trying to take a picture of some soup (which was completely tasteless by the way and somehow makes the misted lens situation worse – cos it would have been worth it if the soup tasted great?).
Now my computer has gone kaput.
The extremely helpful people at PC World think it’s just the power port but it could be the motherboard… So my laptop has to go off for a proper check-up. Which could take a couple of weeks.
Eurgh. No internet. No email. No blog? Noooooooooooo! The room is starting to spin…
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as Mr. B has said I can use his laptop for the duration. What a lovely guy 🙂 Just hope I don’t unwittingly damage this computer with my techno-jinx…
This means I should be able to get round to reading/leaving comments on everyone’s blogs as per usual but if I haven’t done so recently then you know why!
Just the sheer number of cinnamon-spiked dishes I’ve posted on this blog probably speaks volumes about how much I love this spice. I will happily make any recipe in which it is the main star or I will sneak in a little extra if it’s only meant to have a supporting role. In short, I am a cinnamon fiend.
Now, I’ve got to admit, this was a leetle bit of a selfish choice on my part – Mr. B likes cinnamon, he thinks it’s, you know, ok and all that. But it’s not his favourite. So back I went to Kieran’s recipe list to search for something that would preserve marital peace and harmony. And there it was – hot fudge sauce. Mr. B likes to consider himself something of an afficianado when it comes to icecream extras – he has his own special recipe for chocolate sauce, along with the sweetest tooth of anyone I know, so Kieran’s recipe would be judged against stringent standards.
The icecream turned out like a dream, as the warm spice of the cinnamon partnered well with the creamy custard base – a real taste of Christmas (you know, when you’re still far enough away from Christmas that it still seems exciting). And I have confirmation of that from people who aren’t as enamoured of cinnamon as I am – we polished the whole lot off for dessert one evening when we had friends round for dinner, along with this scrumptious apple tart from Smitten Kitchen. Unfortunately, there is no picture of this happy event as I’m still a bit shy about taking food pictures when other people are around. I’ve got to get over that.
But did the hot fudge sauce meet Mr B’s exacting expectations?
And how. He was seriously considering drinking the lot straight from the jug at one point. I think I mentioned that he has a seriously sweet tooth 🙂 In the end, he showed admirable restraint by simply drowning his icecream in the molten, fudgy gorgeousness.
I’d love to tell you that I’ve deliberately shot a soft-focus pic here but the truth is I think I screwed up my camera the other day when I leaned in to closely to snap some soup and a bit of steam got into the lens. Now everything looks like I’m applying for a job with the M&S advertising team. For mouthwatering pics of icecream, hot fudge sauce and many other wonderful things (along with the recipes, of course) I’d recommend a trip to Icecream Ireland.
Good luck with the book, Kieran. It’s certainly been fun testing the recipes!
Well, I fell off the NaBlaPoMo wagon in spectacular style. Apart from a general tendency towards laziness on my part, I think part of the problem was that posting articles every day on the internet was a lot like my old job… which was posting articles every day on the internet. So, unsuprisingly, blogging became much less fun than usual.
And then I scarpered off to Edinburgh for a long weekend to catch up with all the people I haven’t seen since I moved to Ireland in June. Hurray! It was good to see all the familiar faces, catch up on all the gossip and visit old haunts – but I’m glad to be back home as, pathetically, I missed Mr B soooooooooooo much.
All this means that I’m feeling rejuvenated and ready to get back in the kitchen. Normal food-related blogging will resume shortly!
PS That’s a picture of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh on a grey and cloudy day (roll on winter). All very moody and atmospheric. Love it.
I can tell what you’re thinking… ‘Come on Jen, I know you’re trying to find something to blog about every day for NaBloPoMo and all that, but cheese on toast? That smacks of sheer desperation.’
But wait, in my defense, this is lip-smackingly wonderful cheese on toast. Perhaps the best ever. Ever. And when you find out that the recipe comes from the queen of all good eating, Alice Waters, then there really can be no argument.
There’s no curiously plastic day-glow orange cheese or slice of cardboard-like bread involved here. Instead, there’s tangy, soft goat cheese, blended with garlic and thyme to create… well, something that had me salivating from the minute I read the recipe, let alone when it was under the grill. The smell coming from the cooking mixture had me jumping round the kitchen like a small child, checking every few seconds to see if it was done yet.
Yes, when I finally removed the slices from the grill, I managed to burn my tongue. Greedy guts.
Goat cheese croutons/toasts from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison (who cites Alice Waters as the recipe source)
170g soft white goat cheese
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped thyme leaves, plus extra for garnish
Salt and freshly milled pepper
6 large or 12 small baguette slices
1. Smooth the goat cheese with the milk or cream, then stir in the garlic, thyme and a little pepper.
2. Toast the bread slices under the grill until the tops are lightly coloured. Then spread the cheese mixture thickly over the untoasted side and put under the grill again until the cheese goes golden-brown and bubbly on top.
3. Serve with salads, stews, soups…
This lasted two days for me because I used bigger pieces of bread and I made it the main course of my meal, instead of the appetiser/starter that the recipe would suggest.
As you’d expect, the garlicky taste was stronger after the flavours had a chance to mingle overnight in the fridge. Delicious.
Another couple of images from the archive. Normal food blogging will resume tomorrow once I get that camera back from Mr. B!
To set the scene: I was wandering through Merrion Square one fine summer’s day…
Once I’d stopped being so aggressive, I took a closer look at the inscription…
I don’t know how much the name means to anyone outside Ireland or the UK but Dermot Morgan was an Irish comedian and actor who played the eponymous lead character of the Father Ted series on TV, making a generation of students laugh so hard that beer/alcoholic beverages of choice would spray out of their noses. Check out the Friends of Ted for some seriously devoted fans and Tedfest ’07. Other (more sane?) people must have liked it too as it won several BAFTAs along the way.
Dermot was also a founding member of Scrap Saturday – a political satire on RTÉ radio during the late 80s and 90s. I would never have known about this wonderful program except for Mr. B, who was a big fan and snapped up the ‘best of’ CD that came out a couple of years ago. It’s side-splittingly funny and has been on repeat in our house ever since.
And that was my first introduction to some of the key players in Irish politics. Unfortunately, because the series was so darn funny, it’s difficult to take any of them seriously in real life. Although, come to think of it, who does?
What particularly makes me smile is that this beady-eyed memorial is only a stone’s throw away from the Irish government buildings and all the characters Dermot used to mercilessly satirise. Clearly, someone else has a sense of humour too…
In the meantime, this has given me the perfect excuse to go trawling through my photo archive, weed out the rubbish (of which there is a lot) and see if there’s anything interesting and food-related to post here.
Icecream on a sunny May day at the Edinburgh farmers market seems to fit the bill. More specifically, low-fat, no-sugar, vegan strawberry icecream,* which was absolutely delicious. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so – the stall selling it ran out by mid-morning.
This was a treat that sparkled with flavour on the tongue. It performed that wonderful trick of tasting more like strawberries than the real thing. Sunshine somehow captured in a cone. A real pleasure to be lingered over on a warm day, while taking in the view of the Castle – I don’t know of too many other farmers markets with such an amazing backdrop. (Although I’d love to put that to the test by visiting all the markets in the world, just to make a fair comparison, of course…)As for the icecream makers, they were local farmers who had come up with an ingenious solution to their strawberry glut (rather than just going the usual jam-making route), so it could have been just a one-off thing for them to pitch up on that particular Saturday. I don’t know if they ever came back as I moved to Ireland not long after taking these photos. But I truly hope so.
*Being an inquisitive/nosy person by nature, I asked what went into the icecream. I was expecting to hear that there was at least some soya milk or cream, because the resulting flavour and texture was so creamy. The answer turned out to be just water and incredibly ripe strawberries (hence the need to make something with then before they turned bad). Who’d have thunk it?
There’s something quite mesmerizing about watching little plates of sushi and sashimi move at a stately pace around a conveyer belt. All those different shapes, colours and combinations drifting gently by, waiting for you to snap out of it and decide which one to pick first.
It took me a while to choose because I’ve never tried sushi before (how can that be?) and was quite content to enjoy the visual feast for a while. But once I’d grabbed a plate of spicy noodles, I picked up pace a bit, trying some salmon, nori rolls, a bit of tuna and then wontons stuffed with more salmon. Yum.
Many other tempting dishes paraded by as well – mackerel, prawns, mussels, squid and a couple of things I couldn’t identify, but I was feeling a little unadventurous since it was my first sushi trip (oh the foodie shame).
Except for the little mystery bundles in the slightly blurry picture above.* They’d made a couple of sexy, twinkling rounds on the conveyer belt and Mr B. had noticed me eyeballing them.
‘Do you want to try them? I’ll go halves with you.’
‘Alright then. They’re such a gorgeous colour but I’ve no idea what they are.’
We asked the waitress and she told us it was fantail roe. None the wiser, we shrugged our shoulders and tried a piece each. Kind of peppery, kind of crunchy. Pretty nice. I’d eat it again.
Then I got home and googled fantail. DON’T CLICK ON THIS LINK if you’d rather not know what it is. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
However, it hasn’t put me off in any way, shape or form. In fact, the whole thing was a little bit addictive – it’s nearly dinnertime and I’d like some more, please. I want to know what all those mystery dishes are, work my way through the menu, try everything at least once, maybe twice for good measure. So I’ll be going back as soon as possible 🙂 Although that’s all I need – a new food addiction…
*I’m not keen on taking photos in restaurants as I feel it’s a bit annoying for other customers – they didn’t ask to have a flash bulb popped in their eyes when they’re there to enjoy the food. But that green was so cool, I just had to show it to you. So I managed to turn the flash off and get a couple of sneaky snaps.
Butternut squash isn’t something I ate as a kid but after trying it a few years ago I came to love it, love it, love it. I’ll throw this versatile veg into soups, salads, stews, risotto, eat it roasted as a side dish… However, I’ve never used it to make anything sweet rather than savoury. High time, then, to remedy the situation.
But Jamie’s rarely set me on the wrong path before so I gritted my teeth, trusted the recipe and got on with the grating.
After some skinned knuckles and a bit of swearing, I realised that everything would turn out ok. I hadn’t really thought about the fact that the skin on a butternut squash is pretty thin. So it would just melt into the batter as the muffins cooked – exactly the same as carrot cake. Hurray!
Of course, this means you’re sneaking in an extra bit of fibre too. But sssssssssssh – don’t tell anyone 😉
Butternut squash muffins from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver
Makes 12 muffins
300g, plain flour, unsifted
350g light brown soft sugar
2 heaped teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
175ml extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
400g butternut squash, skin on, deseeded and grated
a handful of walnuts, chopped
For the frosted cream topping, which I clearly didn’t use:
zest of 1 clementine
zest of 1 lemon and juice of half a lemon
140ml soured cream
2 heaped tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
optional: lavender flowers or rose petals
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line your muffin tin with paper cases.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil and eggs.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mix and stir until just combined. Then add the grated squash and chopped walnuts. Stir to combine but being careful not to overmix.
4. Fill the paper cases with the muffin mixture and bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to rest for five minutes and then take the muffins out of the tin and leave to coo on a wire rack.
5. Icing: Place most of the clementine zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds, and mix well. Taste and adjust the balance of sweet/sour by adding a little more icing sugar or lemon juice as necessary. Spoon the icing over the muffins once they’re completely cold.
As you can see from the photo above, I didn’t bother icing the muffins. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit lazy.
Next time I’ll add some raisins or sultanas too, making it even more like carrot cake.
If I’d read the blurb at the beginning of the recipe properly then I would have seen the sentence, ‘The skin of the butternut squash goes deliciously soft and chewy when cooked, so there’s no need to peel it off.’ And then I wouldn’t have worried in the first place. Guess I was in too much of a hurry to make those muffins!
*I renewed the book from the library – there are a few more things I’d like to try 🙂