Summer Tea Time


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.

So we had:

Burren Smokehouse (ah-mazing) Organic Smoked Salmon

Beetroots with Lemon and Thyme Cottage Cheese

Potato Salad with a Honey and Mustard Creme Fraiche Dressing

Home-made Brown Bread

We had it with some sparkling Elderflower and some Muscavado Heaven for dessert.

I’m pretty sure Niamh loved it. Have a look after the jump for how it all came together.

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Day Tripper: Louth


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.

But that was before I’d tasted Glebe Brethan cheese or Carlingford Oysters, or, indeed, had a chat with Catherine from The Runcible Spoon. Or walked through the doors of The Eastern Seaboard Bar and Grill in Drogheda.

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.

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Pimp Your Carrots


Honey and cumin roasted carrots with toasted couscous and a drizzle of harissa yoghurt. Carrot love! 

I’m an equal opportunities eater. By that, I mean that I like to treat all food as equally delicious morsels to chomp on.

As much as I try not to discriminate, I do, however, have my favourites.

And, I’m afraid to say, there are those vegetables which often find themselves at the back of my store-cupboard, neglected and rather sad.

Carrots are a vegetable which has fallen out of my favour in the past, thanks to a hard-to-shake memory of over-boiled anaemic carrots that I was sloppily served up at boarding school.

I’ve found ways to chomp on these carotene-mines that doesn’t make my Inner Vegetable Bigot go bleurgh.

The obvious way is to use carrots as an implement in which to eat to hummus. That works well.

But you can’t be dipping carrots into hummus all the time. Besides, they’re really rather versatile vegetables once you get to know them.

I recently put together this quick and very satisfying carrot salad, which made the orange spears an absolute treat to eat.

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Cheddar, Chive and Marmite Scones


That’s right, y’all. Marmite scones.

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.

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The Best of Both Stews


Year-round comfort Fish Stew

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.

Like this tasty fish stew, inspired by this Fragrant Fish Tagine and this Summer Fish Stew.

So don’t worry if the weather changes halfway through the cooking process – this type of dish tastes great whatever the weather.

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Mini Pork Pies with Bacon Jam


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!

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Sausage and Borlotti Bean Stew


Borlotti beans and their lovely pink pods

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.

I made a tasty, very quick and simple stew inspired by this recipe and by the lovely Italian Foodie.

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Summer Comfort Food: Chicken Noodle Broth


I think I’ve cracked it, guys.  I just may have tweaked my chicken noodle broth so much that I’ve brought it very close to comfort food perfection.

Chicken noodle broth is something myself and Niall often put together for an early-in-the-week dinner, when we’re in need of culinary-shaped hugs.  Over the years, we’ve made some pretty good batches of it.  But there have been some bland ones too.  The method I used last night, however, was definitely the best effort so far.

I was inspired by this recipe and used the Home Organics’ asian-style dressing as a marinade for the chicken, which added a truckload of luscious flavour to the broth.

Gosh, I feel like I’m boasting.  I don’t mean to gloat.  For a novice cook, it’s such a treat when an improvised recipe turns out well!

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What Am I Doing Wrong?


It’s funny how things so easy for some are so tricky for others.  I thought I had conquered my potato cake issues (thanks to Her Spudness) but I fear that my last successful attempt was but a fluke.

I made some courgette, mint and feta potato cakes yesterday.  Not to blow my own foghorn, but they tasted very lovely indeed.  The problem was their consistency – they were melting gooey balls of super soft mashed potatoes.  Which, in truth, doesn’t sound too bad.  But I was looking for a nice solid potato cake consistency.

Here’s what I did to make these melting cakes:

I mixed 2 coarsely grated medium-sized courgettes (which I had given a squeeze to get rid of excess water) into mashed potatoes made up of four medium sized potatoes.  The potatoes are from Home Organics and they’re lovely.  To this mix, I crumbled in about 50g of feta cheese, then added a handful of chopped mint and one chopped red chilli.  Finally, I mixed in a tablespoon of flour.

I shaped the potato mixture into little cake patties, then heated some oil on my pan.  I fried each side for about ten minutes on a medium to low heat.

As I said, they tasted great but they were super soft.  It was a triumph that I managed to get a photo of them before they dissolved.

So was it the moisture from the courgettes?  Was it the feta cheese?  Did I use the wrong potatoes?  Or was it me?  Oh gawd, IS IT ME???

Any tips/condolences would be hugely appreciated and gratefully received.

The Queens Go Wildside at Body & Soul

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The Queens of Neon prepare for their Wild Forest feast this Saturday

That most delicious of duos, The Queens of Neon, will be taking over a patch of the forest this weekend at the Body & Soul festival in Ballinlough Castle in County Westmeath.

For €55, you’ll enjoy a five coures meal, with some yummy drinks to sip included in the price.  These fabulous hosts will be catering for 200 people over four seatings underneath the canopy of trees and stars, with an aim of celebrating the wild Irish woods and the culinary possibilities they provide.

Sadly, I won’t be able to make it down to Body & Soul for this delightful feast myself, but if any of you are going, here’s a sneak peak of the menu.  How thrilling!

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