Hi there folks! Apologies for my absence last week but I was in beautiful Barcelona for a weeks holidays. Barcelona is a great city, colourful and vibrant and the food matches the vibes! This is a bit of a guide to the best restaurants we found on our trip, the must eats, if you will! Continue reading
For any Irish folk living in or around London, there is a fantastic event running in Selfridges food hall at the moment. In association with Bord Bia, Selfridges are showcasing some of the many fantastic artisan producers of Ireland. There will also be demos, food tastings and much more besides. There are many exciting products on sale. The usual Irish food abroad such as Barrys Tea and Taytos crisps are present but much more exciting is some of the lovely local produce. On The Pigs Back, a Cork institution, has some of their fab chicken liver pates featured, while Glenilen Farm have butter and lovely yoghurts in the fridge. Im pretty excited about The Scullery which is an Irish based creator of chutneys and sauces. Im also very excited to see Frank Hederman smoked salmon which is argueable one of the best smoke houses in Ireland if not Europe! If you like good foor, Irish or not, its definately worth a look.
There will be some exciting demos coming up including Darina Allen, Clodagh McKenna, Paul Flynn and many more! The fullline up can be found at the link below and the food will be available until the end of April.
I finally got to spend some time in Cork last week after 6 months of being estranged! I had such a lovely time, mostly focused on friends, family and food! The hardest thing I find about going home is that there is never enough time to do all the things I want to and to spend time with all those dear to me! I can usually just about manage a dinner or lunch with different groups over the course of a week. The best thing about that is I can usually choose to eat somewhere I love whilst catching up with everyone!
This time, I did feel like I had more time to enjoy my time at home. I didnt put myself under too much pressure. I managed to squeeze in many of my favourite food spots. Liberty Grill on Washington street got its usualy visit for some scrummy eggs benedict, which always lives up to my expectations. I always love the staff there and the recommended some great breakfast places in London which are on the To-Do list! I picked up plenty of O’Connails chocolate to make myself some perfect hot chocolate at home and of course I couldnt leave without a visit to Mahon Point Farmers market. I purchased myself lots and lots of wonderful Green Saffron spices, including trying their Tikka Masala for the first time. It was amazing and may have surpassed Rogan Josh as my favourite! I also stocked up on their devine mango chutney which Ive been devouring with cheese and crackers since!
I think I may have visited every cafe/food store in Cork! I was surprised at how quiet the city centre was but the suburbs were buzzing with ladies who lunch in the fabby food stores and yummy mummies dropping in for scrummy dinners! I particularly loved the huge On the Pigs Back cafe and food store in Douglas and the cosy GoGos on the Well Road. Jam at the Kinsale Road roundabout was also buzzing and we could barely get a seat at 3pm on a Wednesday! I also paid several visits to Cinnamon Cottage in Rochestown and was actually surprised about how quiet it was. They have stopped making ready to go dinners and I have heard people saying they are disappointed by that. I think its a shame as it was alway top of my list for great food, desserts and dinners.
Best of all, I was lucky enough to visit the wonderful Ballymaloe Cookery School. A friend of mine is currently doing the Twelve week course and invited me to come visit and watch a cookery demo. It was incredible, the most inspiring afternoon of my life! I have always wanted to do the course, it truly has been a lifelong dream. But after spending time with those doing the course and witnessing how dedicated the school is to contributing to the development of the Irish food industry, educating people about ingredients, techniques and just the incredible passion involved, I am convinced that it is excatly what I want to do.
Unfortunately for me it is still a dream, but I will spend every minute of my life working towards achieving it and in the long term, establishing my own food business. For anyone who is interested in food and developing a food business, I genuinly think you can not find a more incredible school than Ballymaloe.
I was so inspired by my day at Ballymaloe that I went home and tried out some recipes straight away. My favourite (and my mums!) was Lemon Souffle! So light and fluffy and still so tangy! Yum!
So that was that, im back in London now. I think my main focus is to enjoy how lucky I am to live in such a wonderful and diverse city. I am going to eat as many different types of cuisines as possible, visit food stores and markets and just learn as much as I can about food while Im here. How many of us get the chance to live in a city like this! I always miss home but it will always be there! Who knows how Long I can eat Japanese food for lunch and Brazillian food for dinner!
In theme with my latest intrigue into French Cooking, I attempted to make macaroons recently. These little beauties are notourious for being difficult to make. In truth, they are really not that hard. It is important to be thorough when following the recipe for macaroons, but mostly its all about patience. There is nothing overly complicated about it!
I decided to do raspberry macaroons as they are cute and pink. I also love raspberry jam so that was a definite deciding factor!
The below recipe comes from the lovely Harry Eastwood and is really yummy! For anyone who is interested, these work out at 3pp each but they are totally worth it! They are lower in fat than usual macaroons as they have no buttercream filling!
- 200g Icing Sugar
- 100g Ground Almonds
- 3 egg whites
- Pink food colouring
- 200g raspberry jam
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment
- Blitz almonds and icing sugar in food processor until they appear like the consistancy of flour
- Whisk the egg whites and salt until you have stiff peaks. Slowly whisk in caster sugar and food colouring until evenly distributed.
- Gently fold in almond mixture until mixed. ensure you are being light handed and try to use a metal spoon.
- Spoon mixture into piping bag. Pipe little pools of the mixture onto baking sheets (approx 40 blobs!) Ensure you leave a little space between for rising.
- This one is important. Bang the baking sheets one at a time onto the kitchen counter, this will help the mixture to settle and will discourage splitting. Let the shells sit for 30 minutes.
- Cook shells for 30 minutes. Allow to cool. Sandwich shells together with raspberry jam.
I love food, we all know that. There is something really special about french food though. On my recent holiday in France, I really struggled between wanting to taste all the wonderful buttery creations, and remembering that they are just not that healthy. It is a myth that the french eat buttery, fatty foods all day every day. They have a great attitude, everyone deserves treats but in small doses! They generally eat a healthy combination of lean meat, fish, exciting salads and green vegetables, all flavoured with spices and herbs (ok and SOME fat!). The problem is finding that moderation and altering recipes to be slightly healthier! Thats what I discovered in my new cookbook.
Harry Eastwood grew up in France but struggled with keeping her weight under control when surrounded with such wonderful choice of flavoursome food! In her new book, The Skinny French Kitchen, she endeavours to create stylish, classic french dishes but she has modified them to be healthier versions of the traditional. She has achieved this with great success. The main reason I love this book is that not only is it healthier, it does not compromise on flavour.
I have a list as long as my arm of the recipes I want try from this book and I will be posting my success or failure as I proceed. Yesterday for lunch I made French Onion soup and boy was it yummy. Rich but without all the usual unecessary fat that is usually present.
My other forays into french cooking from this book have also been pretty successful. Harry gives clear and easy instructions which takes the mystery out of foods that formerly seemed complicated, such as eclairs. I made mini eclairs to take into work and they went down a treat. The nicest thing is that nobody had a clue these were lower in fat. Again the key with these is smaller amounts of butter! I really cannot express how much you cannot notice the difference!
The favourite recipe I have made so far from the book is the classic profiteroles! These always light up eyes when they appear. These ones were light, fluffy and still decedant! Filled with creme patisserie and topped with hot chocolate sauce, they cant exactly be called low fat but they are certainly less rich than other versions. Simply yum!
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone, I have had so much fun cooking from it so far! My next challenge is the ultimate french sweet treat….Macaroons! Watch this space guys!
Ok so I know Im on a bit of a Cork theme, but Im trying to catch up with all the amazing foodie experiences I had last time I was home. This time however, it comes from my London kitchen!
Green Saffron is a small family run business that opened in the well known foodie town of Midleton about 5 years ago. The brought with them a wonderful range of pre-mixed spice blends that made indian cooking incredibly accessible to those of us who just didnt know where to begin. Its a fun and easy way to make an authentic, healthy and delicious indian meal, without having to invest in time and money into spice kits and blending from scratch. The best part is that you can now order online! Get on it people!
When I moved over I brought with me several packets of various mixes and always manage to pick up a few more when I go back. I certainly have my favorites….Rogan Josh, Korma and Jalfrezi are all great. They also do lovely seasonal mixes. In the summer, fresh fruity cordials appear while at Christmas, warm gingerbread and other traditional fare is on offer.
I regularly make a HUGE pot of one of these blends which makes 4 sizeable dinners for two of us. You can also vary the choice of meat. For the recipe below, I chose chicken but I usually make a lamb version. The best thing about this korma is there is no cream so it is far healthier than most versions! I really hope you guys try it!
Green Saffron Chicken Korma
Serves 6-8, Approx 4 PP per serving
- 500g onions, finely chopped
- 15g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1kg chicken breast
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 2 inches ginger
- 1 tin tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sweetener
- 1 tin low fat coconut milk
- 300ml low fat natural yoghurt
- 1 Packet Green Saffron Korma spices
- Melt the butter in a large casserole and add the oil. When melted, add the onions and sweat.
- Blitz the ginger and garlic in a food processer to make a paste then add them to the pan.
- Stir in the Green Saffron spices and stir well.
- Turn up the heat slightly and stir in tomatoes and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes to reduce.
- Stir in the coconut milk and reduce by half to thicken the sauce.
- Once the sauce has thickened, stir in the meat and yoghurt.
- Cook over a medium heat for approximately 30 minutes.
- Serve with fluffy white rice and naan breads, its also lovely with a little raita poured on top!
In Cork, there really is only one place for Hot Chocolate. O’Conaills chocolate started as a small company producing high quality chocolate products from their factory in Carraigaline, Co Cork. From there, they have expanded into a well know producer of the highest quality chocolate items including chocolate bars, truffles, fudge, baked good and for me, best of all, hot chocolates. For the past number of years they have had a hot chocolate shop on French Church Street in the city and last christmas they expanded this store and opened a new bakery and takeaway on Princes Street. It really is yummy and a mecca in Cork for hot choc!
When my other half went home a few months ago for a flying visit, it was one of the first places he visited. He sent me a picture that made me utterly jealous! Little did I know the reason for his visit was to bring me one of their homemade hot chocolate kit! When he brought it home, I was a very happy girl!
When a friend of ours was coming to visit, it was one of the top things on the shopping list I sent him! He kindly obliged with two lovely big bags of chocolate chips! Be warned the rest of you, there may be requests in the future!
Thats all for now, have a great week guys!
I’ve been meaning to write this review for a while. About a year ago I ate at Korean restaurant for the first time on a trip to Paris. It was delicious and very healthy. When I discovered I was moving to London, I scoured the web to discover the best Korean in London. One restaurant kept appearing.
Bibimbap is a fab little spot on Greek street in Soho. It does exactly what it says on the tin, serves different styles of bibimbap. These ate large stone bowls which are heated in an oven and then filled with raw veg, rice and meat. It all cooks at the table by stirring it and adding sauces. As you can probably imagine, I love to get hands on with food so this is just my kind of place!
There is a nice selection on the menu, mixed seafood, pork chicken, steak and veg varieties. They also do lots of little side dished including Kimchee, a type of korean pickled cabbage and several types of dumplings.
It’s also good value, its possible to eat a huge portion for £7 or less. Would really recommend it for a cheap, fast and tummy dinner if your anywhere near soho!
There is a link to their website here so you can learn more about them and Korean food in general.
As you may have noticed, I have written a lot about Cork lately. I took a trip home in May and literally ate my way through my holiday! It was fantastic although I felt I needed a serious detox after all the food!
Breakfast has recently become my priority mealtime! When I was younger, I used to leave for school at 7am and so could not face eating at that hour of the morning. As I’ve gotten older and work has taken over, I have really noticed the affect a good hearty breakfast can have. I put a big effort in every morning, whether it be porridge, smoothies, poached eggs or even just a fruit salad, I always spend time on what I will have.
Weekend brekkie is special however! Brunch must be the best thing ever invented. Huge plates of yummy breakfast food that can still be eaten when one has only managed to get up at lunchtime! In Cork, every Saturday morning, this meant the Liberty Grill.
This fab american style restaurant opened a good five years ago now and brought its pancake piled plates to the people of Cork. Not a fry-up in sight, they have a varied brunch menu to suit any taste with a distinctly American theme.
When you are first seated, there is a pastry buffet table with all sorts of freshly baked croissants and scones, homemade jams and all of the local morning papers. This is a nice touch as you can help yourself to a scone and a paper while you wait for the main event. For me, this always means Eggs Benedict. It is truly one of their specialities.
On the plate in front of you, you get two slices of homemade sourdough toast topped with nice and crispy bacon and two perfectly poached eggs. I mean perfect, they have this lovely hard cooked white with a perfectly runny centre. All this is then smothered in the tastiest hollandaise sauce I have ever had! Heaven on a plate. They have a selection of other egg dishes including boiled and scrambled eggs on toast.
They also have a great selection of freshly squeezed juices, yoghurt, granola and fruit if any of these take your fancy!
It really is worth a trip there if you are anywhere near Cork, you will not be disappointed. My only problem is I have yet to find anywhere in London that even compares! Miss you Liberty Grill!!