Mother of Minestrone!


It’s amazing how snow makes everything look so pretty.  What was once just a dirty old gutter and a wall with the worst graffiti ever are transformed into glistening icicle fuelled wonderments of beauty.

Of course, snow makes the commute home less appealing, if at all possible.  We’re having at least one friend stay on our couch for the night, for they are stranded in the city centre with no where to go.  Or at least nowhere that public transport can take them.

Good thing I made a massive pot of Chunky Minestrone Soup last night.  It was enjoyed by three unexpected guests last night, as well as by myself and Niall for our supper.  It has stretched to my lunch today, and will definitely be feeding our guests this evening.   So that’s about eight bowls of soup out of this recipe.

Here is the BBC Good Food recipe that I used.  A few cook’s notes:

  • Don’t be tempted to leave out the cabbage.  It absolutely makes this soup, with its crunchy healthiness like an instant vitamin boost.
  • Instead of using spaghetti for the pasta, I used three cheese filled Tortellini and it was absolutely rocking.
  • Don’t forget to serve with lots of parmesan.  There isn’t really a need for bread, as the pasta makes the soup a meal in itself, but a slice of crusty bread wouldn’t go completely amiss.

Get this one made – it’s a good one.

I Can Has Detox?


Phew.  What a delicious holiday it was.  Mine was full  of things like:

And that was only Christmas Day itself.

I’m still pretty full.  But this week has  found me dedicated to a new diet, one that does not involve masses amounts of  butter, cream, potatoes, chocolate or indeed booze.

Instead of doing some insane Cayenne Pepper and Oxtail Soup Detox Diet madness, I’m going to up my intake of winter vegetables by cooking copius amounts of soups and putting together an array of winter salads.  Bring it on.

As we all know, the best way to start a winter’s day is with a lovely, warm bowl of porridge.  It’s all about what you add that can turn a bowl of sloppy gruel into a most magnificent bowl of warming comfort food…

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Christmas Eve Eve Dinner for two


Our Christmas Tree with Scotch Bonnet Chillis and our NY Taxi full of Santa and Shoppers

Having survived rather well at the Battle of Christmas Shopping 2009 today, myself and Niall had a Christmas Eve Eve Dinner this evening.  Recipes will follow when I’m a little less full of lovely Marks and Spencer Cava (2 bottles for €18 – *hic!*).

We had a starter of Quail Eggs, Pancetta, Lambs Lettuce and Dijon Mustard and Honey Dressing.

For the main we had Roast Pheasant with Lentils, Roast Spuds and a few rashers for goodwill.

Dessert was my favourite – Clafoutis.  This time round, I made it with strawberries, drizzled with double cream.

I hope you all have a delicious, food-filled and very Happy Holiday.  Cheers!

Christmas Shopping Freak-out


So. It’s the 22nd of December. Two days to go. And I have bought ONE Christmas present. This present is for Niall’s 6 month old niece who, amazing as she is, doesn’t even know what Christmas is.

That’s right, once again, I’ve left my entire family and boyfriend’s gifts to the very last minute. Tomorrow, I shall brave the Dante’s Inferno-style centre of town, gritting my teeth to try to keep from screeching all of my dwindling Christmas-spirit-and-goodwill-for-all-men out in the form of a primal scream in the middle of the Jervis Street Shopping Centre.

Damn, damn, damn. Why can’t my prime-Christmas-pressie-giftees just be foodies like me? Then it would be sooooo easy.

After the jump, you’ll find my Top 3 Last Minute Pressies for Foodies. If you have a foodie in your life that you’ve neglected until now, go with any of the below and you’ll be in their good books between now and at least mid-April. Trust me.

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Who Made All The Pies?


Thanks to Dave for the pics!

You must think I’m awfully competitive.  But, as I have pleaded before, I am honestly not.  Yet, I found myself involved in another competitive cook-off on Saturday night in my very own home.  Thou dost prostest too much, yee pie lover, etc.

And so it was that Lucy and Rayne from Lola-Lu’s Kitchen, Darragh from Tumbling Down The Heap and myself went head to head in the First Annual Pie-Off 2009.  There were tears, burnt pastry, Tia Maria & Milk, spilt drinks and dodgy-tasting venisonin my initial pie sauce before Darragh very uncompetitively came  to my rescue by throwing in loads of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar) all in the course of one evening when 10 of our mutual and new friends gathered in my gaffe to taste three pies and declare an overall winner.

My pie, entitled “Is That a Gamekeeper’s Pie or Are You Just Happy To See Me?” came in third place:

Darragh’s pie, entitled “Pie By Night” came in second place:

Lucy and Rayne’s pie, entitled “Grandma Speed’s On The Game Pie” came in first place:

It has to be said that they were all spectacular pies, but there was just something about Lucy and Rayne’s pie that transcended our taste-bud bliss to another piey level.  It was absolutely amazing.

Click Read More to find the recipes for these three pies.  It’s Pie Season, y’all.

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Why Can’t All Shops Be Unpackaged?


Again with the London, but the Unpackaged Shop in Clerkenwell, near Angel in Norf Landan (map, innit) is too brilliantly simple to not blog about it.

BenAnna are the most eco-aware buddies I have and they were really excited about showing me how Unpackaged at 42 Amwell Street, EC1R 1XT, works.

It’s so simple.  The shop offers lovely organic produce and instead of providing you with eco-friendly containers, they simply ask you to bring your own.  So Benanna arrived with old yoghurt and soup pots, a few used brown paper bags and they stocked up on pasta, rice, nuts and a few veggies.  It doesn’t matter what container you use, as long as the friendly staff can weigh it at their packed-full-of-delicious-homebaked-cakes-and-bread-nom counter.  And it’s not any more expensive than your regular organic produce you may find elsewhere.

Seriously.  Why can’t all shops be like this?  It’s so easy to do, like the whole plastic bag charge.  I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable request to have supermarkets cut out packaging – especially of fruit and veg – completely.

The supermarket that I think is one of the worst culprits is Marks & Spencers.  They’re no worse than Tescos in so far as packaging, but I would expect so much more from M&S.  They’re great for using organic/free range chicken and cutting out evil fats etc, so WHY do they insist on packaging their fruits in a plastic/styrofoam box which is wrapped in plastic and has a big shiny sticker on it?  They should be leading the way by example and cutting out all that unnecessary plastic etc, especially in their fruit and veg section.

Here are a few pics of Unpackaged.  More of this kind of thing, please.

Tupelo Honey, London


Tupelo Honey at 27 Parkway, Camden Town, London

Hello, again! Catching up on some blogging now that I am temporarily unemployed.  Expect a lot more frugality around these here parts, food-wise.  No bad thing really, as all the cheese, cream, risottos and pies are turning me into a fat bottomed girl, yessiree.

So remember I was in London a few weeks back for The Marmarati Induction?  I had the pleasure of meeting up with my good friends BenAnna, and we enjoyed the most beautific lunch in Tupelo Honey in Camden Town.  Check it out when you’re in town – the most friendly staff, lovely interior, stunning food and delish coffee.  All at a decent price too.  And take my word for it – get the Fig Pie.  Holy Mother of Brendan Behan, it was amaaaaaaazing.  I want to go to there.

My Lamb Bobotie with lovely fresh chips and salad…nommmmm…..

Anna’s Mousakka. Yummmm…..

Ben’s salad and (as far as I remember) his delicious Morrocan Chicken Curry.

Time for coffee with that Fig Tart…

I think we need another look at that Tart…*slobbers*

Have a look over here for a map to Tupelo Honey.  A lovely little find in Camden.

Ohh look! Look!


Hurrah for The Happy Pear – one of the loveliest cafes, nay, places in Ireland.

They’re holding a Veggie Pie and Cake and Muffin and Pastries and Crumbles and Beautiful Things Competition this Sunday the 29th of November in Greystones, Co Wicklow.

Have a look at their website here to find out how to get there as well as other rules and regulations of the Vegetable Cake-ing Competition.  How thrilling!

The Marmarati…


Behold! The Yeasty Elixir! With the Marmite Haters Soldiers fighting it off as well as my Marmite earrings to the right…

Gather round, friends, for I have something of the utmost secrecy and overwhelming importance to share with you.

Before you read on, I must ask you a solemn question.

Marmite: Do you love it or hate it?

If you answered “I love it” please click the READ MORE link which will take you further into the depths of this Marmite-induced adventure.

If you answered “I hate it” please skip to my post about Jocelyn’s cheesecake.  Sort of like a Choose Your Own Adventure Blog.

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Come Dine With Joc and John: The Grub


This post could alternatively be entitled “Why I Should Never Have Asked Jocelyn to Do Come Dine With Me.”

We most certainly had the best dessert of our little competition, and I think all of the other competitors will agree with me.  It was so good that I’ve provided three pics below for you to drool over.

We were greeted on Saturday night at the third and final heat of our Come Dine With Me with a little bowl of olives and delicious little puff pastry pies.  There was a choice of Caramelised Onion tarts or the Gorgonzola and Pear tarts.

The starter was a Seafood Linguine.

The main course was an Italian Hotpot served with Pumpkin Potatoes and roasted veg.

The dessert was the most heavenly Cheesecake I have ever tasted.  Joc is a genius.  I don’t want to say any more about any of the other courses as the marks are still secret at this point.  Once all the marks have been sent in, we’re all going out for dinner and our unbiased, uninvolved score-keeper will announce the winner over grub at The Hop House.  Hurrah!

Now, here’s that dessert.  From three different angles!

I could look at pics of that all day.  Although, obviously, I’d prefer to eat the dessert all day.

We also had a post-dessert dessert.  It was Alan’s birthday and John had made him a special cake.  We sang the song and all.  Then we watched The Yellow Submarine and myself and Alan had another dance-off.  Think there’s a video of it too…