Dim Sum vs Chips

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dim-sum-without-soya

No, I didn’t make these!

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.

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Come to me, my cheesy cure

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brunch-ingredients

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.

brunch-cooking

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*…

brunch-finished

MP3

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.

Dean Martin – That’s Amore

Who knew soy sauce could be so…creepy?

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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.

MP3

No mp3 necessary with this post as the music in the Soy Sauce ad is the best thing I’ve heard all day.

Catherine’s Chorizo and Chickpea Stew

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stew-ingredients

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.

What you need for Catherine’s Chorizo & Chickpea Stew

100g good daycent chorizo

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.

stew-stewing

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A welcome home brekkie

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breakfast

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.

But…I had planned an awesome breakfast.

crumpet

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A saturday night risotto – cmon lets ‘av ya!

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leek-and-risotto

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.

What you need for BBC Good Food’s Leek & Parmesan Risotto for two lucky, lucky people

150 g arborio rice

1 glass of white wine

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
risotto-butter1

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.

almost-risotto

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…

finsihed-risotto

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.

All we needed was a Muffin Mountain for dessert!

MP3

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.

Ponytail – Late For School – (Ice Cream Spiritual)

* 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.

Spring!

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spring2

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!

Lunch pour moi

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ingredients-spuds

Once again, Aoife Mc’s attempts at food photography fail fairly miserably.  Help Loreana!!

I was pottering around the flat this afternoon, listening to music and reading blogs, when I began to feel a bit peckish.  Might have had something to do with the fact that I was perusing this beautiful blog.  Thanks to Catherine for the heads up on that!

I had some creme fraiche in the fridge that needed using, two wee spuds, some nice dill, and some leftover smoked trout from this very nice salad I made yesterday.  So I decided to throw it all together slightly following Jamie Oliver’s Potato Salad with  Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Creme Fraiche from Jamie At Home.

What you need for Aoife Mc’s take on Jamie Oliver’s Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Creme Fraiche

A few nice new potatoes

Smoked salmon/smoked trout (enough for how many  folk you’re having over for lunch)

1-2 tablespoon horseradish sauce (depending on how spicy you like it, innit)

3 tablespoons creme fraiche

juice of half a lemon or thereabouts

olive oil

red wine vinegar

a few wee capers

some fresh dill

Obviously this can be really easily adapted for however many you’re feeding.  Just make sure you have enough potatoes, salmon/trout and make enough dressing and sauce by doubling up if you need to!

Boil up the potatoes for fifteen minutes or so. While they’re cooking, make the dressing for the potatoes by mixing the lemon juice with the same amount of red wine vinegar, plus three times the amount of olive oil, finally adding a teaspoon or two of capers.  Jamie says you should put the dressing on while the potatoes are still warm as they’ll absorb the flavours more.  And by gum, he was right.

While your potatoes are drinking up the dressing in the bowl, you can make up the cream.  Mix the creme fraiche, horseradish sauce and a few chopped up sprigs of dill.  It’s easy peasy.  Get your cooled, dressing soaked potatoes and toss them in a bowl with the dill.

Arrange your smoked salmon/smoked trout on your plate, put the potatoes in the middle and dollop some of your nice creme fraiche/horseradish sauce over the lot.  You can even throw a few more dill leaves over the place.

I had mine with some toasted ciabatta, and I thought the trout worked well.  I’ll make it with salmon the next time and follow the recipe more closely and let you know how I get on.

I totally would have had a glass of cheeky afternoon white wine too only I drank the last of it last night!

trout-spuds

MP3

I was listening to British dance punkster’s Friendly Fires self titled debut album which was released last September.  It’s v good.  I’ve posted a remix of one of the tracks from the album called Skeleton Boy.  The remix is by a Swedish duo called Air France.  I’d say that name has caused at least two annoying incidences in the band’s history.

Incidentally, this track featured on the last Nialler9 podcast, of which I am the mouthpiece.  Myself and Niall do a podcast once a month where he picks the tracks and I do the talky bits.  It’s really fun because we get to do it together and even though sometimes I’m a bit of a grumpy diva, most of the time we have a laugh doing it.  It also helps us to remember how long we’ve been together as we started it after we’d been going out for about a month.  You can download the March Nialler9 Podcast by right-clicking here.

Friendly Fires – Skeleton Boy (Air France remix)

The New Pot is Hot

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new-pot-ingredients

For the inaugral outing of the new pot it seemed only right to do a French kind of dish.  Granted, perhaps the only thing French about the Toulouse sausage and butter bean casserole I made is that it has the name of a place in France in the title.  I couldn’t find any Toulouse sausages and just got some chipolata sausies instead…so…it’s still a bit French ain’t it?  I mean, it’s a casserole, right?

What you need for BBC Good Food Toulouse Sausage & Butter Bean Casserole for four lucky people

Six or so nice spicy sausages

6 slices of streaky bacon, chopped

1 luscious  leek

2 tins of butter beans, drained and washed

1 clove of garlic sliced

1 glass of white wine (any auld plonk)

chicken stock

a small bit of parsley, roughly chopped

pinch of chilli flakes

olive oil

The organic leeks I bought were gorgeous – they’re in season at the moment – in both colour and smell.  All the recipe involved really was a bit of chopping and then putting everything together in a big pot.

First up you have to brown the sausages (seriously, I still don’t know what this means and would really like if someone could clarify it for me.  Should I put them on a high heat for a while so they go really brown, like cooked brown on the outside and then add them to casserole to cook on the inside?  Please advise!).  Once they’re ‘browned’ you set them aside and chop them up when they’ve cooled a bit.

In the meantime, you get the bacon going in the same pot, and when it’s beginning to cook you add the leeks and garlic too until they’ve softened a bit.  Now it’s time to add the chicken stock, white wine, pinch of chilli, butter beans, and pop the sausages back in.  Then you should simmer it for about fifteen minutes.

new-pot-hot

Ooooh look at the new pot go.  Bless it, it’s totally slumming it in my kitchen.

As per usual, I overcooked it, which meant the leeks lost a lot of their colour and the sausies were a bit on the rubbery side.  I’m very bad at timing things to be ready at the same time, and as I was making these yum creamy mash potatoes, I got a bit distracted and left the casserole on too long.  Which is why it eventually ended up looking like this gloopy mess:

yum-casserole

Honestly though, it tasted really good, I have to say.  I’m delighted to report that my dinner guest and I had to go back for seconds.  It was great with the mash and the M&S olive bread toasted was perfect for mopping up the lovely juice from the casserole.  I’m going to try and make it again, maybe when Niall gets home, and hopefully I’ll get the timing right and the gorgeous leeks won’t lose their lovely colour.

MP3 – Amadou & Miriam

As I was preparing this casserole, I was having a listen to Amadou & Miriam’s 2008 album Welcome to Mali.  Damn, was it hard to pick my favourite track to post up here.  I went for this one because you can’t help yourself but have a bit of a dance.  And sure why not?

Amadou & Miriam are sometimes known as The Blind Couple from Mali, as they met in Mali’s Institute for the Blind.  They seem like an awesome couple and their music is great.  Check out their back catalogue as well as getting your paws on Welcome To Mali.

Amadou & Miriam – Masiteladi (Welcome To Mali)

I can has excitement?!?

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dscf4876

You….are…..so….beautiful….to…..meeee! My first Le Creuset pot sitting next to my little butter dish (which is a fairly handy copy that I got for a fiver in All Rooms on Liffey Street.  Rock it!)

I don’t mean to gloat but I’m too excited about the above pot that I had to share it.  Of all people, I know the foodies will appreciate the pot.  Along the same lines of what English Mum said here, this is my version of the designer handbag.

I turned 27 last weekend, and lo and behold, that is still young enough to receive birthday cards from your granny and your auntie with a few quid in it.  Surely I should let them know that I have a job now and am no longer a skinny starving student living on pasta and pesto.  Perhaps I’ll leave off discouraging them until I’m at least 32.

So anyway, I got a few quid for my birthday and I decided that this year I would put it towards investing in something that I really would have forever.  True, I have the semi-clear memories of drunken birthday nights out but those memories will fade, whereas the beauty of this, my first Le Creuset pot, never will.

The thought crossed my mind that a beginner cook like me purchasing such a kick ass bit of kit was kind of like someone who has just started learning the guitar buying a Les Paul.  On reflection though, I think my passion for cooking might just outshine my passion for playing guitar, and while my two guitars stare forlornly and lonelily (it is SO a word) on, I reckon my Le Creuset is soon going to covered in the glorious stains of a very healthy cooking life.

I used the pot for the first time last night and made this recipe.  I’ll be posting up details and a few pictures in a bit.

Beautiful day, isn’t it?

MP3

This is the perfect soundtrack to a sunny day, and indeed any day.  I’m having a listen to it as I type.  Jamie Lidell is this young dude from England who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing live twice.  He started out a few years back making obscure electronic music until one day he opened his mouth and a whole lotta soul came out.  His 2008 album Jim is full of feel-good soul tunes that will definitely make your wedding party playlist.

Go buy Jim here and keep an eye when he’s back in Ireland (he played in ALT in Dublin last week!) and try to catch his live show, whether it’s his solo show in all its beatboxing looping glory or with his kick-ass six piece band.  Both promise to be memorable occasions.

Jamie Lidell – Another Day (Jim)