Month: December 2012

A Postcard from a St Stephen’s Day Walk by the Atlantic in Waterford, Ireland

After the insanity of Christmas Day and cooking for so many people, the day after, St Stephen’s Day in Ireland, is an oasis of calm, with a morning dedicated to sleep. I grew up on the Atlantic on the south coast of Ireland with lovely beaches of all types, mountains, waterfalls within, woods nearby and a magic road. Other stuff too but you get my meaning, there is quite a bit going on here. Yesterday, we took a walk out on the old train track to the beach and beyond. Fresh cold air stinging the cheeks as the sun was setting, the moon rising slowly and then switching its light on. We walked back in the pitch darkness guided by moonlight. Which was lovely. I felt human again. Photos from my phone but worth sharing, I think. 

Twas the night before Christmas…

Every year I come home to Ireland. This year was to be the exception, but my prodigal brother decided to come back from Australia. So, I am here too. Conscripted as the cook, I got the ferry back from Wales so that I could bring back everything that was requested. My siblings are obsessed with Brindisa chorizo, so I bought 4kg of that to keep them going, a 5kg turkey (long story below), wine and other random bits and bobs to keep us going. The other food was ordered locally from a few trusted sources, a local-ish butcher that I have come to know well, Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers supplied the Spiced Beef and the Shoulder of Pork (to be roasted overnight as per my Comfort & Spice recipe) and other bits and pieces too. A quick trip to Midleton Farmer’s Market for a side of Frank Hederman’s smoked salmon, one of my favourite things in the world (also smoked mussels and smoked haddock for the days after), and our starter is sorted. …

The Ice Hotel: Eating Lapland & Exploring It

Arriving in snowy Kiruna I was so excited. There was a buzz on the flight., Most people were traveling for important birthdays and other such events, and I was so surprised to be on a flight where everyone wanted to chat. My first stop was a dash to see if the astronaut pig was still there but woe, he was gone. Maybe he is in space now? The crunch of snow underfoot followed by whispery snow was thrilling. I bounced out to the waiting bus and immediately joined a tour of the ICEHOTEL. I was dying to see it. And then I thought, it is cold isn’t it? Of course it is cold, but until you are standing there, standing on the ice, surrounded by ice, sitting on ice, does it actually hit home. I was hungry so I made my next stop dinner. Right after I collected my all in one snow suit, huge snow boots, leather mittens that made me look like a seal or the joker, and a balaclava. I was set. …

Bacon Masterclasses for Spring & Gift Vouchers for Xmas

I have had a number of requests for bacon masterclasses and gift vouchers for them for Christmas so I have scheduled two for Spring. I am partnering with Food at 52, a beautiful cooking school in Clerkenwell, in London for two evening classes on Thursday 21st February and Thursday 21st March from 7 – 10pm. The classes will cost £75 for 3 hours, all inclusive, as always. They will feature some new recipes and some old favourites with lots to take home after. We will be making: Chipotle Bacon Jam Candied Bacon Bacon Jam Fudge Bourbon Bacon Brownies Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles To secure your place, pay via paypal. Let me know if it is a gift voucher and I will send on a customised voucher (as above). If you want a generic gift voucher so that they can book any date throughout the year, please choose this. I release dates 2 – 3 months in advance and also run Bread, Butter & Cheese Class and a Confectionery Class with more to come throughout the …

ice-hotel

The ICEHOTEL in Sweden: Sparkling, Gorgeous and So Very Surreal

The ICEHOTEL. Childhood obsession with the Snow Queen and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and all things snowy and polar lie dormant in my head. I have always wanted to (properly) see the northern lights (we saw them in Ireland when I was a child once) and the southern lights too. I love all things sparse and white. I like the idea of the space, the silence and the starkness of it all. So much so, that in my brief time as a physiologist in university, I contemplated signing up for the British Antarctic Survey. I went to one of their recruitment meetings, so very keen, but realised quickly that I was not the kind of person that could survive three years there. So I thought that I would visit there. I bought the Lonely Planet guide, studied penguins, made little penguins, bought memoirs and any book with any related stories. But it was too expensive. So I looked at working on a ship. I really wanted to go. But I never did. …

Pre Christmas Treat: Win Signed Copies of Comfort & Spice, Grenada Spice Pack and a Kindle WiFi

As a thank you for all your kind comments and support throughout this year, I thought it only right that I offer a little pre Christmas treat from me. From my personal stash, I am offering up two signed copies of my little tome Comfort & Spice for readers for Christmas. I myself am using it Christmas Day, well the recipes from the book at least, which are printed on my brain. We are having my Overnight Roast Pork Shoulder with Spiced Apple Relish. It is the perfect Christmas dish for me, takes little effort, pretty much cooks itself and is really delicious. We will follow it with Chocolate Mousse and Honeycomb, with lots of my hot spiced drinks on the side. I also have a 6″ Kindle WiFi. Directline Holidays offered me one and as much as I would LOVE to keep it, I thought that it would be a nice treat for you. I am a voracious reader and love an actual book, but the practicality of these, especially for keen travellers and commuters, …

Recipe: Chipotle and Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter

It is an indulgent time of year, and this recipe is at the pinnacle of indulgence. Despite the bacon, it is a sweet, and is wonderful on pancakes or simply on brioche toast as I have done here. I also fancy some with some eggy bread. A nod to Bill Granger first. The first time I had honeycomb butter was with his ricotta hotcakes at one of his cafés in Sydney about 6 years ago. I was captured by it. Searches for honeycomb recipes at the time failed, and I was not happy with the alternative of chopping a crunchie and putting it in my butter. I researched further and figured out it was a simple combination of sugar, brought to temperature and bicarb to make it aerate. I played around with sugar and golden syrup combinations until I got the perfect chewy crisp honeycomb. Too little golden syrup and it is dull and too fragile, too much and you will lose your fillings. I also add a little cider vinegar to boost the bicarb …

Preview: Food Fight Club from Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty Tomorrow (I am on it :)

There are so may things that I do that are a lot of fun. I know I am lucky. Earlier this year, I did some filming for Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty’s new series, Food Fight Club. Exciting, eh? There were 8 of us bloggers gathered around a table. We knew we were eating offal,and most of us were comfortable with that. The offal we consumed though, at one point, took almost all of us by surprise. Jamie & Jimmy’s Food Fight Club begins on Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday 6th December, and we are in the first episode. Tune in to see it. You can watch the preview now too below. How to eat well on camera? I have yet to crack it. ADVANCE NOTICE: it was a very hot day and was filmed in a hot kitchen. My Irish constitution and pale face resulted in a big red face for most of it. At least I matched my lipstick to it, eh?!

Recipe: Chicken Liver Pate for the Soul

As the nights close in and the days get colder, I increasingly reach for comfort. I want something rich and delicious and I want it fast. Some treats in the fridge, whether delicious cheeses or spreads that welcome toast, are perfect winter fodder. Over the last few years I have become a little obsessed with duck and chicken liver parfaits and pates. Duck liver parfait is one of my favourite things in the world. Regular doses of it spread liberally on some bread or just from a spoon at times that required it, powered me through the intensity that was writing my book. I am going to share a recipe for that too, but for now I want to start with Chicken Liver Paté. Easy, cheap, rich and delicious. That spells recession Christmas to me. People are afraid of chicken livers. Why? Liver in general gets a bad press because it is often served over cooked and rubbery. It is associated with times of deprivation, when those little chicken livers are so luxurious when cooked …