Month: May 2011

Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Now I loved that bacon jam. And it opened my eyes to using coffee in a marinade. Why not? It worked so well there it was bound to be a winner. Then a friend told me about red eye gravy, a coffee gravy served over ham in the American deep South. Coffee and pork are two of my favourite things in this world. The die was cast. Pork ribs are a much under valued and underused cut of meat. So cheap, so full of flavour, I expect it must be because people don’t know what to do with them. (fyi – in response to a comment below – I am of course referring to the UK & Ireland here. I know they eat lots of them elsewhere). Marinaded ribs are wonderful on the BBQ but also great cooked low and slow in the oven until the meat teases slowly from the bone. Then, and only then, are they are ready to eat. The secret to all marinaded meat recipes is time, so make sure you …

Modern Vintage: Classic Voices in Food From Quadrille

I come from a large bustling Irish family and, as a result, spent my childhood creating random outfits with clothes handed down from my older cousins, which I think has contributed to my eclectic sense of dress today. Equally, I had cookbooks from my aunt and old ones from the library, and this has inspired a fondness and near obsession with gathering vintage cookbooks for my groaning cookshelf. One of my most prized possessions is my Grandmothers old cookbook. The problem is that, generally, they are difficult to come by today. Our modern attitude that only current or new is valuable is really depressing so I was delighted to discover that Quadrille have started a new series of books – Classic Voices in Food – where they are publishing sometime forgotten but highly respected books. The first two are Modern Cooking for Private Families by Eliza Acton first published in 1845 and Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book first published in 1938. The books arrived bright and early with the postman at a startling 7.30am and …

Recipe: Ricotta Frittata with Tomatoes & Fiddleheads

Life is busy. Life is crazy busy. I’ve left my job and written a book (I am so excited to even type that!). It all happened in 6 months. In the middle of this my Dad has been seriously ill and I have been going home a lot. I have also been travelling elsewhere more than before. I have moved flat too. I’ve chosen this life, and I love it, I wouldn’t change a thing. Working doing what you love means that work never stops, and being so busy does take a toll. I have been ill more than is normal and I am growing pretty tired of it. I hate being ill at all. So today as I sat here coughing and wheezing with a scratchy throat, I felt depressed. I needed to eat something that would make me feel good and really wouldn’t take any time to cook or much effort to source the ingredients. I dragged my carcass to the local Waitrose and my face lit up when I spied there on …

Video: Making Fiddlehead Soup & Pickling Fiddleheads (Canning) in New Brunswick, Canada

So, we picked the fiddleheads and washed them (as per the video in my last post). We then brought them back to O’Donnells Cottages and made a delicious fiddlehead soup for lunch. We preserved some of the rest and took a jar back home with us. I am saving mine for dirty fiddlehead martinis. Yes you did read right,and yes, isn’t that genius? I got the idea from a lovely lady in New Brunswick. Apologies for the camera flash in the middle of the pickling video, I didn’t spot it until I rendered it and am struck down with a chest infection so can’t face doing it again. Hope you like!

fiddlehead-video

Video: Fiddlehead Foraging in New Brunswick, Canada

A fun little video for you from our fiddlehead forage in New Brunswick last weekend! Recipes and more soon. fid·dle·head [fid-l-hed] –noun 1. Nautical . a billethead having a form similar to the volute carved at the upper end of a violin. 2. the young, coiled frond of various species of ferns, eaten as a vegetable. for·age [fawr-ij, for-] 1. the act of searching for provisions of any kind. 2. to collect forage from; strip of supplies; plunder: to forage the countryside. 3. to supply with forage. 4. to obtain by foraging.

Farewell New Brunswick!

I am on my way back to London now and very sad to leave Canada behind. It was a wonderful trip, a perfect combination of catching up with old friends and doing fun things with them in Nova Scotia, to a terrific food trip around New Brunswick centred on the humble twisting fiddlehead. I need to adapt and already as I sit in the airport reality is starting to nip, deadlines are shouting at me, I am wondering about how I can do x, y & z. It’s just like Sunday night before school when you don’t want to do your homework. Hey-ho. I will miss a few things after my 2 week trip here. The people, well they are as nice as everyone says, they’re funny too! It has been lots of fun. The seafood is sensational, the lobster, mussels and scallops particularly so. I’ll miss those darn fiddleheads! I’ve taken to it here and have even started sticking an odd “eh” at the end of my sentences. I must really stop doing that …

A Postcard from New Brunswick

Greetings once again from Canada! This time from New Brunswick where I have been on a food trip. We started the weekend foraging for those fiddleheads that I love. We sped along the river to a little island where the ostrich ferns had just peeped their heads up. We snapped the heads off and bagged them for soup, dinner and jarring later. Violent, me? Only with fiddleheads. Other highlights are listed below with, as always, more details soon.

Comfort & Spice: Now in the Catalogue & Coming Soon!

Oh, now this is exciting! Quadrille have published their latest catalogue, and my book – Comfort & Spice – is in there. Here’s the blurb. New Voices in Food: Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields £ 14.99, paperback Full-flavoured, generous and easy to reproduce recipes have won Niamh Shields a huge following for her blog, Eat Like A Girl, as well as critical acclaim (The Times included the blog in its top ten food blogs from around the world). Now, for the first time, her adventurous though frugal food and warm, bright writing style is collected in a book. Niamh’s gastronomic curiosity has gathered together the cookery of her native Ireland, in such dishes as the Cork speciality Spiced Christmas Beef, as well as exotically greedy but delicious Asian Chicken Skin Skewers, and an elegant Raspberry and Rose Tart, in dishes that embrace both the passing of the seasons, the foods of the world, and the special occasions of a modern life. Comfort and Spice is a book both to read in bed and to …

Antidote to Bacon Jam: Greek Yogurt with Berries, Toasted Oats & Pecans

By now, I expect that many of you will have spent a few days shovelling bacon jam down your gullets and are now anxiously clutching your hearts wondering, what if I have gone too far? I need more! What do I do? You little bacon addicts. Here’s what you do. Make yourself a nice healthy breakfast. (Then more bacon jam) This is simple and feels righteous. It tastes good too. Per person, spoon 2 tablespoons of greek yogurt into a bowl and add a tablespoon each of raspberries and blueberries. Toast a tablespoon of oats and pecans in a dry frying pan with a teaspoon of brown sugar, stirring as you do so they don’t burn, for a few minutes until the oats start to crisp. Serve on top of the fruit and yogurt. Feel better? I know I do.

A Postcard from Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is suffering an unusual bout of grey weather and rain for this time of year so not many pictures of the landscape for you, but a small selection of some things that I liked as I made my way around. I think they capture the spirit. It’s still a superb place to visit. Like Ireland, they are used to the bad weather and so have a vibrant indoors culture. A bubbling local brewing culture and lots of vineyards pair beautifully with great local seafood. Live traditional music and jazz sits comfortably beside. Looking forward to getting back here in the summer sometime too. I would love to head up to Cape Breton and also over to Newfoundland. It has to be done, right?

Choo Choo! All Aboard the Bacon Jam Train! (Recipe)

Bacon Jam. Stop, take a moment, and say it out loud. Bacon. Jam. BACON JAM! Yes, that is what I am talking about! Feeling excited? So, bacon jam first came into my life some years about when I heard that they sold it in the US. I promptly spent a fortune and ordered some, paying the same in postage as for the jam itself. I fell in love. I had to have more so I came up with a recipe. It was earmarked for the book but I decided not to put it in (although I do think that was stupidity now) so I never blogged it. It’s my recipe so, as you can imagine, there is lots of spice and big flavours.It’s delicious, and almost as good as my chorizo jam, both recipes will find their way to you eventually! I am in Nova Scotia now, and when I got to the airport my eye was drawn to a visitors booklet called Taste of Nova Scotia. It has lists of places to try and …

Some Ghosts, Some Oysters, Some Shrimp: All in a Good Lunch

Requirements for a good lunch: fresh local produce cooked well good local wine, preferably sparkling a wine cellar in an old lift that used to be used to transport bodies a toilet haunted by the ghost of an angry man and a little girl All jokes aside, this describes where I lunched today in Halifax. The Five Fishermen is a popular restaurant in Halifax spread out over two floors. Originally a school that offered education to children from poor families in Halifax (it was the first free public school in Canada), it then became the Halifax Victorian School of Art before being bought by the Snow family and becoming the John Snow & Co. Funeral Home which sadly would be associated with two major disasters not long after. When the Titanic sank in 1912, the wealthier victims were brought here so that arrangements could be made. A few years later the Halifax explosion (the largest explosion in the world before Hiroshima) claimed over two thousand lives, and many of the bodies ended up here. Naturally, …

Decadent Snacking: Crayfish with Lime Mayonnaise

You will have cottoned on to the fact that I am in lovely Nova Scotia. A great friend of mine lives here and we are catching up, exploring, cooking, eating, and imbibing plenty of wine. She is a bit of a wine buff so I had to bring her a bottle of Nyetimber English sparkling wine (the award winning 2005 vintage) to try. Happily she loved it. I love wine, but food is where I am happiest. So what to eat with that? Seafood is plentiful, super fresh and reasonably priced here so I am in my element. I have eaten it every day and will continue to. The local fishmonger had lots of shell on crayfish which looked too great to leave behind, so we bought a bunch of them, and then I whipped up some decadent lime mayo to dip them in when we got home. Home made mayonnaise is beyond easy, luxurious, cheap to make and very quick (with a mixer). It is really tricky by hand with the drop by drop …

A Wave from Nova Scotia with Fiddleheads, Scallops & Wine

Greetings from Halifax, Nova Scotia folks! Swap some of the wooden houses for the occasional pink or yellow concrete house mixed among some grey, and some dilapidated thatched cottages, and truly you could be in Ireland. I can see why everyone has been saying that they are similar places to me now. I love it. I flew in yesterday and was mighty sleepy post flight, but that didn’t stop me going out and buying some fiddlehead ferns and local scallops to cook up for a quick lovely supper. Food is actually quite expensive in the shops here (surprisingly), yet scallops are very reasonable as they are plentiful in local waters (ours were from Digby), as are the local fiddleheads as they sprout up everywhere at this time of year. What’s a fiddlehead? It’s the gorgeous curled frond of a fern as it grows. Think green bean meets asparagus. As you cook it, it gently uncurls. It’s a perfect partner for scallops, we added some spiced sausage too which was like the tenor for the singing …

And into the FIFTH Year for Eat Like a Girl! Help Me Celebrate…

For the third year running I completely forgot about my blog birthday. The 4th birthday has passed and I am now in YEAR FIVE! Crazy, isn’t it? I should have baked a cake. For now we will have to settle for my crappy improvised graphic above. What a rollercoaster ride it has been! This last year especially. I took the jump and left my job, having left once before to do the market, and returning to the workplace for 3 days per week following that while I worked out my book proposal and all that jazz. So, I am now working full time as a food writer. Did I just write that? I have written my first book, a cookbook called Comfort & Spice for Quadrille. Quadrille are one of my favourite publishers, how thrilling! It has gone to print and will be in the shops in September. I do hope you all like it as much as I do. Very excitingly, I was shortlisted for the Observer Food Monthly Blog Award last October. Sadly, …

Barcelona: Lunch at Cal Pep

You have to go to Cal Pep! You may not get in though, big queues! Book in advance. It is excellent. So echoed everyone that gave me advice for my trip to Barcelona. Cal Pep is loved by locals and tourists alike. A gorgeous little tapas bar tucked away in a corner of Plaça de les Olles near Barceloneta, it reminds me of a sushi bar in style. Lots of happy diners scoffed at the bar, and a queue snaked the length of it. I was happy that I had taken the advice proffered and booked a little table at the back. Happily I was dining with yet another food blogger, lovely Luisa (The Wednesday Chef) and Nico, a wine importer and wine blogger based in Barcelona, so we were all open to enjoying a decadent lunch and Nico was appointed our wine expert. I asked for a menu, there is none. But, but, but, I saw one on the wall outside, didn’t I? No, there’s no menu, what would you like? A selection of …

Barcelona Food Markets

When in Barcelona and looking for a market, everyone goes to the Boqueria. And so they should. It’s a wonderful market, buzzing, lively and full of energy. Often ignored by the traveller though is the everyday food market, San Antonio Market near the Universitat. The customers are mainly locals shopping for their daily produce. I didn’t see another tourist there the morning that I visited. The San Antonio market has all that the Boqueria has, in an ordered controlled way. It has little tapas bars as the Boqueria does, granted not as many. It is not rammed (the Boqueria is always packed) and has everything you could possibly want. It has less of an international focus – the Boqueria stocks everything you could imagine – and if you’re in Spain, it is surely Spanish food you are after. So, I would ensure that you do both. If you don’t like crowds the Boqueria will drive you crazy, but it is worth an explore and a stop off for tapas. Go to the San Antonio Market …

Dinner By the Sea at Agua in Barcelona

I grew up near the sea and I really miss it. That fresh salt air that sweeps through your lungs, slaps your face and wakes you right up. It makes you feel alive. Barcelona is happily on the sea and there are several restaurants on the beach. A leisurely evening beach walk perked our appetites and we started with drinks and some tapas outside, before moving inside for more tapas then dinner. We ate at Agua, a stiff contrast to the traditional tapas bars it is a bright modern restaurant, spacious and airy. I feared style over substance but happily it delivered very well on both. Traditional rice dishes were gorgeous, and the tapas as good as anywhere in central Barcelona. You pay a little more, but it is worth it. The bonus is you are next to that lovely light roaring sea and beautiful light. Large windows allow you to revel in the glory of the sunset. You will have to forgive my lack of notes on the dishes, I was busy eating and …

Postcard from Barcelona, Day 2

I woke up reasonably grumpy today, mainly very tired, and plan free. I don’t like to plan too heavily when I travel, as I like a little free range explore and the freedom to be lazy, frankly. As I left my hotel this morning that’s exactly what I did. Wander, slowly and slightly lazily, watching as I went. I followed the sound of some church bells, peeling in the distance, they were joyful and I knew there would surely be activity nearby. Choir song burst out of a basement. I happened upon a gorgeous large church, and just as I arrived the doors jolted open and people erupted out. Children had footballs that they were already bouncing and adults joined in. It evolved from a quiet moody square to one that was  jostling, playful and quite busy. Girls in communion dresses wandered around, clearly proud of their elegance. In the corner there was a lovely little tapas bar (Fragments Cafe). I thought coffee. Despite the menu being in English as well as Spanish it was …