I was very sensible this year and rented a cottage about 8 miles away from the festival site. Coming home to a warm cottage with duvets and tea and slippers and an actual shower and a fridge was a joy each night.
What’s worrying is that, even with all those creature comforts, I still managed to arrive home in a bit of a heap yesterday afternoon. Nothing a bit of sleep and a Pasta Tuesday couldn’t sort out however.
It was Kristin from Dinner du Jour who first brought my attention to the fact that Spaghetti alla Puttanesca roughly translates as Whore’s Style Spaghetti. Charming.
It seems the dish wasn’t given its name because it was an instant favourite of ladies of the night when it first appeared in the south of Italy in the 1960s. Instead, the name seems to be more of a statement on the kind of lazy-arse person who would whip up such a simple yet delicious dish without even having to go the market for ingredients.
Baking will most probably be forever shrouded in a mystical cloak of reverence for me. As I’ve gotten more confident with cooking, however, I find myself less amazed when something actually works for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still thoroughly and completely pleased with my achievements. But the same wide-eyed wonderment that I haven’t had a kitchen disaster has, thankfully, been cooked out of me.
In saying that, what still really fills me with glee is when I find a recipe that is so stupendously simple to put together, yet returns so much when put upon the plate. This recipe for Spiced Indian Potato Wraps was one of those recipes. I tweaked it a bit, and added Niall’s famous Harissa and Mint Yoghurt Sauce, and ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, I had a flipping gorgeous Wednesday night dinner. And it was totally vegetarian.
Like pretty much everybody else, the start of the week is always a little hectic in our house. On Mondays, we tend to eat light suppers after (more often than not) over-indulging on the weekend.
When Tuesdays come around, we can sometimes still feel a little wiped. In need of comfort food, but craving something healthy.
And so it was that a while back we came up with Pasta Tuesdays. Making a 15 minute dinner suits our energy levels and schedules, while the tasty things we pack into them usually push us gently back on to the road of feeling good again.
Here’s a recipe I threw together one Tuesday which uses Rainbow Chard, possibly the prettiest vegetable of them all. A taste-cousin of spinach, this variety of chard get its name from the beautiful colours splashed about its stalks.
It’s available at the moment from Denis Healy’s stalls at The Temple Bar market and I’d imagine you’d get it in most farmers’ markets or good vegetable shops. If not, you could substitute it easily with using kale or some lovely big grown-up spinach. As opposed to the baby kind.
There’s something about the combination of chili, garlic, lemon and chard here that makes this taste surprisingly good – hmmm, perhaps it’s the bacon? – so do try get your hands on the rainbow or the plain variety. Minimal effort and maximum results. My kind of mid-week supper.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I grew up with my mum, dad, sister and two brothers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Every summer, we travelled home to County Monaghan and spent the summer with our grannies and extended family.
One thing we always longed for was our Nanny B’s home-grown potatoes. And her home-grown rhubarb, which she made into tarts. And her gravy that she made slowly over her aga in the front room. Basically, we really looked forward to eating at Nanny B’s. (FYI, Nanny McElwain was less about tarts and more about what a bad ass independent lady she was, driving around everywhere in her little Ford Fiesta until a golden old age.)
My sister and I especially loved Tea Time at Nanny’s. This was an informal supper served in the evening, and consisted of a platter of cold meats, an array salads and some home-made brown bread.
My sister Niamh lives in San Francisco now but was home recently for a visit. I thought I’d treat her to an old fashioned summer Irish Tea to welcome her home.
The Butcher’s Board in The Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda. Ah. Maze. Ing.
Ever thought starting a food blog would turn out to be a great way to see a country? Nah. Me, neither. Turns out having a food blog, or even just an interest in food, can lead one on travels near and far, in search of the next delicious discovery for your taste buds.
I spent last Saturday in County Louth. You might be forgiven for thinking that Louth isn’t exactly the hub of deliciousness and food production in Ireland. I’m pretty sure I was of that opinion myself at one point.
Okay, so it’s still not the hub of food production in the country but it’s a sign of the wonderful things to be found – and consumed – in seemingly unlikely spots around Ireland. I know I’m having a ball finding these pockets of wondrous food scattered around, guided by the knowledge of my fellow Irish foodies and bloggers. I will never be a size 10 again. It’s a worthy sacrifice to make.
Those of you new to this blog may not know that I am a member of a secret society called The Marmarati.
We are an underground group, dispersed throughout the globe. We continuously strive to uphold the majesty of Marmite while seeking out new converts to our beloved elixir.
The following recipe is just another way that my fellow Marmaratis can sneak a taste of the tarry gold into the gobs of supposed Haters. Sneak a tablespoon or two into your baking and marvel at how your guests realise there’s something… different about your scones.
Is it just me or does the sun feel “hotter” in Ireland than in genuinely hotter countries?
Today was a *blistering* 21 degrees celsius in Dublin city. Ahem. If you went on holiday to, say, Barcelona, you’d be raging if it was 21 degrees. You’d need a light scarf, for heaven’s sake! Yet here, 21 degrees makes one want to set up a paddling pool on one’s balcony and get the beers in asap. I think it’s because we’re so…grateful to feel the sun on our mugs.
As I write, however, our familiar friend Rain has reappeared. That’s ok. I’m fine with that. I’ve lived here enough to accept the weather. I’m (almost) immune to its fickleness.
I think it helps that I’ve also armed myself with a couple of delicious summery and light comfort dishes, which bridge the gap between summer and autumn. Just like our Irish weather does.
I love it how we get so optimistically hopeful about our summer’s weather here in Ireland. At around April, there’s a communal crossing of fingers as we dream of picnics in daisy-filled meadows where we’ll lay on Avoca rugs and giggle with giddy joy when our ice-creams melt in the hot sun, dripping onto our flip-flopped feet.
Only halfway through, this summer has already given us a handful of delicious days in which a variation of that dream picnic – and all the recipes that come with it – became a reality.
But what about all the other days when the sun isn’t quite able to break through the clouds? Well, there’s no point in letting the weather stop you from having your summer fun. If worse comes to worst, clear your living room floor, lay out a picnic rug, open a window and eat your favourite picnic food from plastic picnic plates indoors. Win!
I’m all about the sausage and bean stews. I love them in the winter and I love them in the summer. I love them best with a kick of chilli and hunk of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
I got some lovely borlotti beans in my Home Organics bag this week so I boiled them up – they only take half an hour – and added them to my tomato sauce. Otherwise, I use tinned beans, usually cannellini. In a tomato-based stew you can use pretty much whatever bean takes your fancy – tinned borlotti beans, cannellini beans or even chickpeas. It’s all good.
Well, except maybe kidney beans. They’re perhaps best left in chilli con carne. No disrespect intended.