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.
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.
We’re very happy in our new flat for a number of reasons, but one major pro is its proximity to the Chinese and Asian markets that are scattered around Capel Street and Parnell Street in Dublin’s city centre. I love going in to have a look at the unusual veg that I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with and picking up dirt cheap spices and beans and things like that.
After a few nice bevvies with an old college friend of Niall’s last night, we were making our way home and had a hankering for a snack. Really what we needed was a late dinner as we’d neglected to feed ourselves properly earlier in the evening. We were dangerously close to Zaytoons on Parliament Street and – not that I don’t love Zaytoons because I do – I just didn’t want a kebab and chips. It was around 1am so I suggested we take our chances and walk down Parnell Street and see if any of the restaurants were open.
Suffice to say, all the restaurants were closed. Niall was starting to turn into a grumpy hungry slightly squiffy bear and I was worried we’d have to bail out and go to some wretched chipper on Bolton Street. But then, there it was in the distance, the bright lights of the Golden Beach 24 hour supermarket on Parnell Street. If you haven’t been in, check it out. It’s rather awesome.
We loaded up with cheap Ice Tea and the most enormous pots of dried noodles (I know, I know, about as healthy as going on a bender with Shane McGowan, but still…they could be yum) and I got a sticky pudding sesame seed cake thing to eat on the way home. Not sure if I liked it or not. Kind of gloopy.
What do you do when you get home at 8 in the morning after a very fun night out and you wake up at half three on a Saturday afternoon feeling somewhere between the glee of still-a-bit-squiffy and the inevitable looming bout of The Fear which is due to hit at aroud half 5? You make a hangover-curing fear-busting brunch, that’s what you do.
Inspired by this lady I decided to make a kick ass eggy toasted and ham and cheese sambo. Bring it on.
What you need for two hungover heads
4 slices of bread – I used regular white sliced pan for Niall’s and tried my favourite Polish bread for my own sambo. The regular sliced pan was better as the Polish bread didn’t go nice and crispy when toasted. Get your hands on some lovely Polish white bread asap, it makes the best toast. Not the best French toast though, it seems.
4 free range organic eggs, two for whisking and two for frying
1 red chilli, finely chopped
4 slices of good ham
Cheddar Cheese – as much as you like
A drop of red wine vinegar
Whisk two eggs in a bowl with the chilli. Dip your bread into the eggs until nice and soaked. Fry up your bread on one side. Flip over the bread and place the ham and cheese on the cooked side. Put the other slice of fried bread cooked side down on top. Let the bottom side of the bread cook nice and good, flip the bread over until the other side is cooked too. The cheese will go all melty and yum.
Fry the other two eggs to put on top of the sambo. Start frying them in the middle of making the sambos so it’ll be all nice and ready at the same time. I always put a little splash of red wine vinegar on my fried eggs, for two reasons: 1) it makes the eggs stay together really well and it adds a lovely flavour to them and 2) my friend Jocelyn always used to do that when we lived together so…I do it too!
So now you have your french toasted ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top. Serve it up with some yummy mustard and HP brown sauce, and try to piece together the night before by retracing your steps…*contented sigh*…
This is especially for the lovely Julia. At about two in the morning last night (if you know what I mean) we were in a chipper on Wexford Street before going to Camden Palace for ‘a game of pool’ (translation=late pints). After scoffing falafels and garlic chips, we had a great dance down the aisle to this song. Nobody seemed to mind. Probably because we are amazing dancers.
I followed a few links and ended up on this lovely London based food blog today. I’ll definitely be back. She had a link to the above video which she found on Serious Eats and I just had to share it with y’all. Something tells me Manuel’s going to be especially fond of this.
No mp3 necessary with this post as the music in the Soy Sauce ad is the best thing I’ve heard all day.
Corrr look at that smoked garlic, it ain’t half gorgeous!
Catherine over at backpedalbrakes gave me an internet heads up on this yummy stew, originally taken from The Bible. I’ve made variations of this type of stew before but I was happy to finally use tinned cherry tomatoes. The Chicken Cacciatore (the one that looked like barf) specified tins of cherry tomatoes but I wasn’t able to find them at the time. Should have gone to Fallon & Byrne. They have some there and they are very yummy indeed.
2 tinnies of cherry tomatoes (pomorodini they say on the tin)
1 tin of chickpeas (give them a good rinse)
100g pitted black olives, sliced
100g baby potatoes, boiled and sliced into quarters or slices, however you’re feeling yourself
A few sun dried tomatoes, 3 or 4, finely chopped
1 big garlic clove, chopped (I got some lovely smoked garlic from Fallon & Byrne, bleedin’ lovely stuff)
I had a few leftover chipolata sausages so I threw them in as well. Coz I’m a maverick.
Boil your baby potatoes until cooked and leave aside to cool.
Chop up the chorizo into nice chunks and fry them off in a bit of oil on a medium heat in a deep saucepan/pot. You don’t need to use a lot of oil here because the chorizo should release its own red oil once it gets going. This oil will make all of the other stuff that you put in the pot taste scrumptious.
I’m not very good at cleaning. There was absolutely no reason for me to think that Niall would want a tidy house when he came home but I’d got it into my head that it would be a good idea to scrub up the place nice and proper for when he came home from SXSW in Texas.
In the end, I developed a bit of a ‘flu’. In truth, it was a scarily long lasting hangover from Saturday night’s exploits, which was unaided by Monday night pints with previously featured lovely friends who are heading off to London for EVER next week. Egad, it’s so far away, I may never see them again, so YES let’s have pints. Heh heh.
So I got home from work yesterday feeling far away from good, and I found myself nestling a berocca (they have new ones with guarana in them, amazing stuff) and then somehow wound up in bed with a few creme eggs and America’s next top model. Well, when nialler got home at around 9 this morning, needless to say the flat was still in a bit of a mess.
It seems there was a risotto-state-of-mind around last weekend. English Mum made what looked like a yummy version for Ma’s Day and the Observer Food Monthly had a recipe in the Sunday magazine which was pretty close to the one I made following my good friend the BBC Good Food site.
I had those lovely leeks to use and wanted to have another go at cooking a risotto. My lovely sister Niamh got me some great pressies at Christmas time, all food related, in anticipation of myself and Niall moving into the new flat. I got a HOIGE pepper mill and a really brilliant risotto set – a great pan, spoon with a hole, some arborio rice and some dried porcini ‘shrooms. I made a mushroom risotto the first time my siblings visited us in the flat and it out worked pretty well. I had tried to make it a few years before to disastrous results so it was kind of like conquering a food fear.
Risotto’s fun to make. It seems a bit intimidating at first because you have to watch it a good bit, but once it sinks in that all you have to do is keep stirring and adding stock and then add 8,000g of butter and 9,845 g of parmesan cheese into it, you realise there’s not too much to it.
2 leeks, finely chopped, in a very ladylike manner
4 spring onions, like the leeks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
750 ml veg stock
25g Parmesan cheese
25g of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
Bring on the coronary – wwwhhoooooooo!
It’s not for the diet friendly folk among us, but fuck it, it tastes soooo good. And as my dinner guest Jocelyn said, butter is a good fat. It’s our friend. I’m inclined to believe her.
I doubled this recipe – in a way. I was feeding Jocelyn and my little brother Lorcan, and I had four leeks in the fridge. I only had four spring onions though. So I chopped up that amount together, doubled the rice, the garlic, the butter and parmesan (but don’t tell anyone coz that’s really bold) and used around 900ml or maybe more of the veg stock. But I used the same amount of oil and wine. I figured it was better to double the stock rather than the wine.
You melt the oil and half the butter in the pan and add the leeks and spring onions and garlic to it. There’s something so yummy about cooking with butter. I genuinely think vegetables really like it. They look really happy anyway when they’re soaked in butter and just starting to sizzle.
When they’re at that happy stage, pop in your rice and give it a good stir so it’s all coated in oil and butter and leeks and spring onion. Add to the delirium of the veg and throw in the glass of wine. Keep it stirring til the wine is bubbling, and eventually evaporates. Then you just stand over the pan adding about a ladelful of stock until the liquid evaporates, all the while stirring, and keep adding the stock and stirring the rice until it looks and tastes ready. It’ll be about 30 minutes but you’ll definitely know. The description on BBC Good Food was ‘oozy’ and I think that’s a fairly good food landmark to aim for.
When it’s looking nice and oozy, add the parmesan and the other half of the butter. Let’s face it, even if you’ve overcooked the leeks, it doesn’t matter if you put that much butter and cheese into anything – you’re saved. Ommmmmmnomomomnom…
The main difference to the Good Food risotto I made and the Observer Food Monthly* was that the Observer one added a few slices of pancetta to the mix. That would have worked very nicely indeed. Fry the pancetta up in a separate pan and serve them chopped up stirred in to the cooked risotto or just sitting over the top of the risotto like they did in the Observer. I would have most definitely added it if I’d seen the recipe the day before as I was worried the risotto would be slightly bland with just leeks and spring onions. I shouldn’t have worried, it was yum, but the pancetta would have been extra decadent.
Myself, Jocelyn and Lorcan listened to a number of things while I cooked and we ate. After the meal and two very yummy bottles of Proseco, we were heading out and I decided to drop some Ponytail on them. Ponytail are a band from Baltimore (yup, same place as Dan Deacon and Animal Collective. I want to go to there.) who specialise in mad, mad art rock. I’ve seen them twice in the last year, both times in Whelan’s of Wexford Street. The singer is this crazy little chick who doesn’t really sing so much as yelp and smile. Check out this video on Niall’s site of them playing live in a laundromat.
If you happen to see that they’re playing a venue near you, please go see them. You’ll be astounded by the crazy face on the lead singer but also by her sheer energy and love of playing as well as the kick ass drummer who plays with no shoes (ouch), the screaming guitar player and the bespeckled other guitar player who sings the only coherent lyrics throughout the whole gig – ‘Oh no! I’m Late for School!!’ This is that track, taken from the aptly named Ice Cream Spiritual, which the band released last year. Go buy.
* A note on the Observer Food Monthly. I love it very much. (Although Sunday’s wasn’t as good as usual because it was the awards edition and I didn’t know a lot of the British awardees – no doubt there’s lots of great stuff there though. And holy pyjama bottoms, there was a recipe for some amazing looking choccie biccies in there.) I also love the Observer Music Monthly.
I despise the Observer Women’s Monthly and Observer Sport Monthly. Niall is ok with the Food Monthly but he really likes the Music Monthly too. We’ve been buying the Observer on Sunday for about a year or so now but not regularly enough that we know which magazine it will be when we go to the shop. So it’s either like ‘YES! Music Monthly!!!’ or ‘Whoop! Whoop! Food Monthly!’ and off we hop with our breakfast goods or it’s ‘Ah sheeee-it it’s the bleedin’ Women’s Monthly. Handbags and token interviews with female artists – fook off!’ or ‘Sport!!! I haaaate sport!’ etc etc.
How lovely. I love spring. If I ever live in a house with a big enough garden, it would be lovely to have one of these fellas in it.
This is the cherry blossom tree on Father Matthew’s Square near our flat off Capel Street. Sure, it’s only gorgeous. I took that on the way to buy some ingredients for the risotto I cooked last Saturday night. Details of that to come!