Author: Niamh

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Recipe: Passatelli in Brodo (AKA Parmesan Noodles in Wonderful Chicken Broth)

My first taste of this dish in Emilia Romagna awoke a hunger in me that I didn’t know I had. A new desire was immediately satisfied. Spoonfuls of broth, some gorgeous textured parmesan noodles, and repeat. Until the bowl is empty and the world feels sad. But, then you have more, and the cycle starts again. Passatelli in brodo is rich and light, sustaining and so satisfying. I adore chicken soup but this is so much more. This is chicken broth with noodles made from parmesan, nutmeg and breadcrumbs coasting inside. Why aren’t we all obsessed with this? Why isn’t it one of those dishes that every one talks about? Deeply flavoured and rich in umami, passatelli bring this chicken soup to life and soothe unlike any other. I first learned to make this in a hands on pasta class at La Piazzetta del Gusto in Nonantola, a gorgeous local restaurant in a pretty small town near Modena. The town square is full of elderly men chatting and passing the time jovially. Just beyond it …

The morning view over  the Maiella from Agriturismo Caniloro in Abruzzo

Dispatches from Abruzzo, Italy: Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo and Where to Eat

Have you been to Abruzzo in Italy? Do you know of Abruzzo? It is surprising that given the vibrance of the region, particularly in terms of food, and that it is only a 2 hour drive from Rome, that only a few are blazing the tourist trail from outside Italy, when you compare it to other regions. Abruzzo is where Italians go on holiday and it is a gem. I visited on a whistle stop tour to shoot some video with Visit Abruzzo in the early Spring. All I could think on my return was, I wish that I had brought a bigger suitcase to bring stuff home (Abruzzo has wonderful wine, pasta, truffles and saffron, just to start), and it must not be long until I return again. Abruzzo has seaside villages, snow capped mountain top towns (with only half an hour between them), and small towns threaded by winding country roads in between. There are cities too, but they won’t overwhelm you. Pescara, where I flew into, is small, buzzing and friendly. I …

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Recipe: Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken

I have an unusual and very tasty recipe for you today, ripe from the shores of Grenada. Grenada is known for high quality cocoa and spice, and they meet here in this lively Coconut & Chocolate Chicken Curry. Do you consider chocolate a sweet or savoury ingredient? For me dark chocolate is intensely savoury, and a brilliant secret addition to many dishes, enhancing with a deep low rumble. It is perfect with chilli and spices, which of course Mexicans have known for a long time. Mole, a savoury Mexican dish rich with chocolate, is a superb example of this.  Recently in Grenada, I had the pleasure of doing a cooking session with Esther and Omega at True Blue Bay. I cooked with them last time too. They are fun, and know exactly what to do with the vibrant ingredients available in Grenada. So many spices, and the chocolate which Grenada is rich with.  This time we made a Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken. A small amount of chocolate enriches the spicy sauce, with the creamy …

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Kyoto Sake Tour: All About Sake & Visiting Matsumoto Shuzo & Gekkeikan Sake Breweries

A trip to Kyoto would be remiss without several things. While I accept that it is impossible to do everything, I have many more trips to make before I have, I will give you a starter list. You need to do a full exploration of the tea culture, including attending a tea ceremony as Kyoto is renowned for the quality of their tea and their beautiful antique pottery. You must have a kaiseki dinner and a proper Kyoto breakfast (my favourite was at Touzan at The Hyatt Regency). Finally, you cannot visit Kyoto without a visit to at least one sake brewery. 

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Wild Garlic Pesto (aka the Joy of Spring) [Recipe]

Wild garlic pesto does feel a cliché but when it is so delicious, why shouldn’t it be? Wild garlic, if you haven’t cooked with it yet, is a broad garlic flavoured leaf, slightly sour, and fantastic with anything creamy, cheesy and it is the best pal for the humble spud. It grows abundantly in the shade, white flours sprouting out in clusters on elegant stems, leaping towards the sunshine. It is wild garlic season here, but near me we mainly have three cornered leek (often confused for wild garlic), which is too grassy for pesto. I tried to source some proper wild garlic, I cried out for secret sources – I WON’T TELL ANYONE, I SWEAR! – but no joy, I failed. I am deeply impatient, and I had a visceral need for the stuff. Praise the internet for intervening and saving my brain and wild garlic free larder, a very kind twitter friend sent me some in the post, and I have been playing with it ever since. Wild garlic pesto is made in …

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Egyptian Style Falafel with Lemon Tahini Dressing [Recipe]

I love me some beans, I can’t get enough of them. It shocks people often to discover that I used to be vegetarian (WHAT?!), but you know, I was worried about industrial farming (I still am), and my degree studies were in physiology, including anatomy, which involved human dissection. Yes, HUMAN dissection. I went home one evening after an anatomy dissection, cooked some chicken and thought that it all looked too similar, the flesh and the fibres (sorry, but it is true), my stomach turned and that was that, for a long while. Then as the farmers market movement took hold properly, and people and even supermarkets started to become more concerned about meat and meat sourcing, I came back on board. These years of vegetarianism taught me a lot. I explored pulses, vegetables, herbs and spice. I learned how to add flavour without adding meat, and I resurrected my university nutrition studies to ensure that I was eating nutritionally balanced meals. I studied more, I learned about new and exciting ways that I could …

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Dispatches from Mudgee, New South Wales (Plus What to Eat, Drink & Do There)

Everyone needs a bolt hole, even people who live in a city like Sydney. About three and a half hours inland from Sydney, and over the Blue Mountains, lies a gorgeous small town and wine region called Mudgee. Wine is not new here, winemakers have been active in Mudgee for over 150 years, but it is growing quickly and it is now the third largest winemaking region in New South Wales. At that, it is emerging in terms of tourism, and it is still under the radar for international visitors like you and me.

Buckwheat and Hazelnut Banana Bread (Gluten and Dairy Free Recipe)

Buckwheat and Hazelnut Banana Bread [Gluten & Dairy Free Recipe]

It was one of those mornings. I was out of eggs – what, how could I let that happen?! – and out of coffee beans. I was staring glumly at a bag of Moomin coffee, a hasty Helsinki airport purchase, and wondering how nasty that might be and what I could have for breakfast. On my counter were some very brown bananas, barely a patch of yellow left. I had some buckwheat flour, but not a lot, and a bag of hazelnuts. I thought I might try a new take on banana bread. It is worth buying bananas and letting them go really brown to make banana bread and pancakes. This is when they are at their best for cooking, rich and syrupy sweet. I never do this intentionally. I buy bananas and let them sit on the side. I feel guilty when I see them every day. I worry about waste, and then eventually they go completely brown, and they become banana bread or pancakes. I love the flavour of buckwheat, I use it …

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Dispatches from Brunei’s Bandar Seri Begawan

Brunei, a tiny country on the island of Borneo, surrounded by Malaysia, Sabah on one side and Sarawak on the other, is one of the worlds wealthiest countries, thanks to their plentiful supply of oil. It is also one of the smallest, with a population of 415,717, approximately 10% of the population of the small country that I hail from, Ireland. With one major city, Bandar Seri Begawan, and the rainforest beyond, Brunei makes a good stopover en route to Melbourne or other destinations, like Sabah, on the Royal Brunei flight network. But what do you do when you get there?

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Competition! Win a Blender and a Triumph Lingerie Set of Your Choice

This is the second of two sponsored posts written in partnership with Triumph, as part of their #FindTheOne campaign. Most of you ladies, and perhaps some gents, will already know Triumph. A long established and trusted lingerie brand who want to help 500,000 women find the perfect bra. I spent a day with them so that I could #FindTheOne for me. Details on the competition are at the end of the post. The odds are super, so do enter, and the very best of luck! 

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Hummus with Paprika Cauliflower & Almonds [Recipe]

One for the veggies? No! One for all of us. This was one of those things that came together randomly in a helter skelter way, and I am so glad that it did.  When I was in France recently I bought some dried chickpeas from a farmer at the market. I cooked half of them last week, and they were so lovely. Great texture and taste, and even though they were dried, they were fresh, if you know what I mean? The cooked until plump and with bite. I was thrilled with them and saved the rest of my stash for this week. 

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Have you Found the One? Not THAT one, THIS one! (In Partnership with Triumph)

This post was sponsored by Triumph as part of some work that I did with them on their #FindTheOne campaign. Most of you ladies, and perhaps some gents, will already know Triumph. A long established and trusted lingerie brand who want to help 500,000 women find the perfect bra. I spent a day with them so that I could #FindTheOne for me.  Before I begin, this post is definitely one for the girls.

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Dispatches from the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Lit Fest, Ireland

[Photo: Maggie Beer, Yotam Ottolenghi, Darina Allen and Sami Tamimi – they were having so much fun I couldn’t get a photo of them that wasn’t slightly blurred!] I have many food related excuses to go home to Ireland, and I am clucky, for some people travel from Australia, the US, and many other places to go to one of my favourites, the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Lit Fest, a smart and fun gathering of some of the worlds best food writers and chefs, who convene in a corner of East Cork to share their knowledge and to discuss pertinent matters in the world of food. The weekend is full of chat, talks and debate, there are cooking demos, and ultimately everyone ends up in the fringe festival in The Big Shed for some wine and a bit of a boogie later on.