Cornucopia’s Couscous Filled Aubergine. Yum!

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cornucopia-book1

I’ll be your friend, aubergine!

Hurrah!  New cookbook in the house!  I’d been eyeing this one for awhile and took the plunge the other day and got myself a copy of The Cornucopia At Home Cookbook.

I really love the vegetarian restaurant on Wicklow Street in Dublin, and anytime I need a meal that makes me feel healthy throughout I head there for a big plate of whatever’s going.  My only quibble with it is that, because it’s such a popular place, it can be a bit crowded and stressful.  Thus I am very much looking forward to the completion of their renovations, which aim to expand the space of the restaurant and double the seats.

Along the same line of thought, how deadly would it be to cook the yummy Cornucopia food in the comfort of your own home?  The cookbook, written by Eleanor Heffernan, is packed full of useful tips on everything vegetarian/vegan/generally healthy, as well as loads of really well-written easy to follow recipes and baking tips and quiche tips and gorgeous pics and a genuinely touching introduction from the owner and founder Deirdre McCafferty.

I was really looking forward to getting stuck in and I was leafing through the book before bedtime last night – I find it strangely relaxing to read cookbooks in bed in my jammies – I spotted this stuffed aubergine with tomato sauce recipe.

I’m going to post this recipe on the condition that at least ONE of you reading this buys The Cornucopia Cookbook.  Buy it here on-line or head down to your local book shop and see if they have it.  Honestly, it is wonderful.  And I’ve only just started with it!  Once I get a new oven in the flat, I’ll be attempting my first quiche following the recipe in the book.

Don’t get freaked out by the long list of ingredients. It’s mainly just spices and although the recipe takes about an hour and 40 minutes altogether, with the chopping and baking and roasting and all that, it was fun to make and not a bit stressful or fiddly.

spices-one

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Friday Food Video #2: Silly rabbit

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Have you ever had Trix cereal?  It’s sugary and in hindsight, I can see why my mum wouldn’t let us eat it as kids.  We were hyper enough as it was.

Here’s an ad for Trix yoghurt which looks about as nutritious as a piece of old trodden-on goat bum fluff.

What’s wrong with the rabbit anyway?  It’s fairly pathetic that after about fifty years of trying to get ‘his hands’ on the Trix, he still hasn’t managed it.  Seeing as he’s up against children and all.  Bah!

Here’s the Trix rabbit Family Guy styleee….

Good Friday, y’all!!  Whoop whoop!!  Oh no…wait…no whoops at all, there’s no BOOZE!!!

*runs screaming hysterically from laptop looking for nearest bottle of perfume to breathe in the alcohol level and normalise IPAT (Irish personal alcohol temperature)*

Do you like fish sticks?

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fish-stuffed

Ouch!  That looks painful. Poor fish.  You’ll feel better when you’re in me belly…

If I was ever to go on a proper diet again (the last attempt being an ill-advised broccoli broth diet myself and my sister tried a few years back which lasted three days before we cracked and had a super major binge on eight slices of nutella smothered toast each) I would follow the GI Diet.

I have a copy of the GI Diet book by Antony Worrall Thompson, who strikes me as quite a smug little man, but by gum, his recipes are rather lovely.  The book is full of delicious recipes which are interesting enough to enable you to maintain a healthy diet.  Buy it here.

I’d spotted a recipe for grilled mackerel with chilli and horseradish so I went down to Moore Street in Dublin today to find me some fresh mackerel.  There’s a little outdoor stall towards the Parnell Street side of Moore Street with two proper Moore Street ladies manning the station, filleting fish and serving folk with a bit of old school Dublin spirit, all howyahs and jaaaysuses.  I got two pieces of fresh mackerel, filleted and wrapped in The Herald for €2.50.  Bit of a steal in fairness.

When I got home I found there was still quite a lot of teeny little bones in the fish, which I tried my best to pull out before cooking the fish, but we did end up eating our dinner a bit gingerly to make sure we didn’t, well, choke.  Other than that though, the fish was perfectly fine.  I’m going to head back to the Moore Street stall and see what else I can try out.  And maybe I’ll politely ask if there’s a good way of getting all the bones out of the fish!

What you need for Antony Worrall Thompson’s Grilled Mackerel with Chilli and Horseradish for two

2 fresh whole mackerel, heads removed, gutted and cleaned

1 de-seeded and finely chopped red chilli

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 teaspoons of grated horseradish (I only had creamed horseradish of which I used 1 teaspoon and it worked out just fine)

1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes

1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary leaves

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper

(The original recipe was for four so I just halved everything.  I can has division tables?)

I served the mackerel with roasted baby potatoes with Rosemary and sliced garlic.  Yum yum.  I scrubbed up the potatoes and popped them in a baking tray with two cloves of sliced garlic and a generous sprinkling of rosemary leaves.  I put these in the oven at around 180 degrees C for about 40 minutes, until they looked kind of like this:

potatoes

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Tabouleh – kinda.

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parsley-and-mint-smallbulgar-wheat-small

Oh haiii parsley, mint and bulgar wheat!!

That’s it.  The good times are over.  Well, temporarily anyway.  We’ve decided to go on a bit of a loose detox for the next two weeks.  I noticed that the last few posts on the blog have been thoroughly unhealthy and indulgent.  I’m planning on having a Guilty Pleasures Party in two weeks, an idea I got from this blog over here.  Expect more details of that to come!

I thought it would be a good idea to get a bit of a health fix for a couple of weeks leading up to the Guilty Pleasures.  My own mini Lent, if you will.  So we’re going to stay off the booze and do our best to get six, if not five a day, and be generally zen-like and healthy and clear-headed.  Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up beyond three days.

I decided to make a kind of tabouleh.  Tabouleh is a delicious salad which is believed to have originated in Lebanon.  My parents are both teachers and I spent most of my childhood in Jeddah, Saudia Arabia, where we enjoyed a lot of Lebanese-influenced types of food.  My love of hummus started at a very early age, indeed.

The following recipe is finally one that I don’t have to link to BBC Good Food for!  This isn’t exactly tabouleh but is based loosely on a recipe my Mum uses.  Feel free to tweak this as you see fit.

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Brunch in The Mermaid Cafe

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My two favourite eateries in Dublin are The Mermaid Cafe and Gruel, which are next door to each other on Dame Street in Dublin and are owned by the same people.  Obviously, I hit Gruel a lot more frequently as dinner at The Mermaid Cafe can put a sizeable dent in your pocket.  Although the service at Gruel is dismissive at best and downright belligerent at worst, not unlike the boy at school you fancy more because he ignores you, I love it so very much.  You get very good, consistent food for a fairly decent price.

Myself and Niall were delighted to discover quite recently that The Mermaid Cafe does Brunch as well, between 12pm and 3:30pm on Sundays.  We trotted off there this afternoon for our second visit and I really wanted to share it with you all, just in case any of you were unaware of this really very good Brunch option of a Sunday.

I won’t go into too much detail, as no doubt many people have spoken at length about the virtues of this Dublin restaurant in much more eloquent ways that I would be able to here.  All you need to know is that the food is very, very good and although the experience of eating there is definitely a special treat type of affair it is thoroughly enjoyable and, for brunch anyway, it will not break the bank.

The brunch menu offers around twenty dishes all under €15, the majority being around the €10 mark.  Half of the menu is made up of breakfast dishes like Eggs Benedict, the Mermaid Full Breakfast or pancakes, and the other half of the menu is lunchy stuff like Roast Beetroot Goat’s Cheese Salad, Steak or Mussels and Fries, that kind of stuff as well as lots of other imaginative options.

On our first visit I had the Eggs Benedict which were excellent and Niall had the mussels with the really good fries on the side.  I also had the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had, in Dublin or abroad – much to the chagrin of Niall who detests Bloody Marys to the point where he feels a bit ill when I have them.  I somewhat cruelly disregard his comfort and insist on ordering them whenever I have the opportunity to do so.  Brat!  We had a lovely pecan pie to share for dessert with very good Illy coffee, and with a bottle of sparkling water it all come to under €60.

If I’m to be perfectly honest, it was The Bloody Mary as well as the food the brought me back there this afternoon.  This time a different waiter prepared it for me and it wasn’t quite as good but it was still excellent.  It had a fierce fiery kick to it so I was glad of the cooling celery which I munched heartily on when the peppery horseradishy juice got a bit too much for me.  I’ve never been quite sure if one is supposed to eat the celery or not.  Hope I haven’t upset anyone by the evidence of the eaten celery in this pic.  To eat I had the poached haddock and poached egg on toast with mustard cream for €10.  It was deeeelicious.

mermaid-brunch-haddock1

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My favourite store-cupboard recipe

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pasta-tomato-sauce

It was two days til payday and things were a little financially tight at icanhascook/nialler9 HQ.  Niall had been to SXSW and I’d been to the Arnott’s kitchen department, of which neither of us had any regrets about at all, but it had indeed left us a little short by the end of the month.

This recipe is cheaper than chips and delicious.  Just because you’re a bit skint doesn’t mean you have to eat shite, am I right?  This recipe is from over at BBC Good Food.  (Hope you guys don’t mind that I keep referring to BBC Good Food.)  I would definitely always have the ingredients, bar the sausies, in my cupboard at any given time, so it’s great when you’re a bit strapped.  Obviously you could leave out the sausages for a veggie and even cheaper version!

What you need for BBC Good Food’s Cheap as Chips Pasta with Sausages for 4 people (or 2 with leftovers)

6 pork sausages (whatever your budget allows for!)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 or 2 garlic gloves (depending on whether you’re going out later in the evening and want to get lucky)

1 tin chopped tomatoes (I had a tin of cherry tomatoes leftover so that was pretty swish)

1 tsp of chilli powder

300g pasta – I used rigatoni which I think works beautifully.

Parmesan for sprinkling

Fry up the onion and garlic together til they’re starting to go a bit soft, about 4 minutes.  Throw in your tin of tomatoes and the chilli powder and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes so it thickens up nice and good like.

chilli-teaspoon

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I want to go to there

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rainbow-cupcake

Gggeruuuhghghgghhhhul *slobber*

In the name of all that is good and noble – have you ever seen such beautiful cupcakes?

This comes from a lady food blogger in Texas called Lick The Bowl Good.  Lick the bowl is right.  And she doesn’t just do amazing looking cakes, she has loads of other mouth-wateringly fabuolous looking food on her blog so check her out.

Thanks to my buddy Ilex for the heads-up.

A nice fresh pasta dish vs pints in the Pav

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asparagus-ingredients

Coorrrrr….you’re gorgeous, you are.

Yes, it was a difficult decision.  I joined twitter today – which is…still a bit confusing to me but no doubt I’ll get there – and there was a lot of summer related tweets going around the place.  At about half 2 I sent out the thought of beers in the Pav.  For international readers, 1) it was really sunny today in Dublin and 2) The Pav is The Pavillion, the cricket pitch in Trinity College, Dublin.  Or more specifically, the pub on the cricket pitch of Trinity College.  On the three days a year that we have sun here in Dublin, the Pav is a great spot for a few beers, as they sell a reasonable pint at a reasonable price and the grass is lovely and green and it gets busy with revellers who are soaking up the sun.  So today had that kind of Pav feeling.  Reckless late afternoon boozing in the sun.  *Sigh*

Anyway, I think my call to arms for the Pav today was slightly premature.  Let’s hope that this lovely sunny day isn’t the last for the rest of the year and there will be other opportunities for the Pav or indeed a nice beer garden in 2009.

Instead, I went for the infinitely more sensible dinner at home with Niall and our friend Rodrigo.  I was watching my new friend Hugh Fethering-Willingstock’s TV programme last Sunday – I love it so – and he was banging on about asparagus.  Also, English Mum made a yum looking asparagus and chiken risotto a while back.  So I went for this recipe this evening.

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