I can has excitement?!?


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?


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)

I know, I know…


I know this blog is called I Can Has Cook and not I Can Has Arrange Things From M&S Nicely On A Plate but I enjoyed preparing and anticipating my lunch so much I took a picture of it. I wanted to send it to Niall who is in Austin, Texas at the moment for the SXSW music festival.  There are around 2,000 bands playing over the next week.  I’m so jealous!

Anyway, I thought the picture turned out ok, and even though I posted an almost identical snack a few days ago, I thought you’d appreciate my new plate of which I purchased two for 2 euro in a Capel Street charity shop.  And I think the picture does my Paris Place Mat Map justice too.  I made the Jamie Oliver oil, red wine vinegar, grated garlic and chopped chili dressing again, twas lush.  That bread is the green and black olive ciabatta from M&S.  It kicks ass.

At any rate, it’s a good excuse to talk about Animal Collective.  I’ve been listening to the Baltimore collective’s ninth album Merriweather Post Pavillion on repeat for most of 2009.  It’s amaaaazing.  (By the way, I don’t have a great ammunition of adjectives when it comes to music I’m afraid.  It’s either amazing or absolutely brilliant.  Or rubbish, of course.  Hope that’s ok.)

The best song on this album (in my opinion anyway) is My Girls, which was written by one of the lads about his wife and his young daughter.  Some choice lyrics are:

I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status / I just want four walls and adobe slabs for my girls.

Adobe slabs are those nice terracotta roof plates you get in Spain and Portugal, I think.  How sweet is that?  I love it.

If I wrote my own version of that line it’d be:

I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things like a social status / I just want four walls and a giant big kitchen that gets masses of sunlight all day long with an Aga like my granny’s and a HOIGE kitchen table full of hungry friends and an island for chopping herbs and a full set of Le Creuset pots for me and my boy.

You should go buy the album, which boasts a psychedelic magic eye cover which turns into a pyramid type object if you cross your eyes when you look at it.  They’re playing a sold out show in Dublin’s Tripod at the end of March, can’t wait.

As regards Paddy’s Day, I’ve been having a lovely time spring-cleaning, which should be an oxymoron but it’s been nice.  I went down to Henry Street at around 2pm earlier – it was mad.  Mad.  I scuttled home as soon as I had the mozzarella and Parma ham for my salad.  What a wimp!  I did have a glass of beer with my lunch though, so…pfff.

Enjoy Animal Collective.


Animal Collective – My Girls (Merriweather Post Pavillion)

Chicken Cacciatore


Are you eating?  No?  Okay, good.

Now.  I’ll be the first to admit that the above sauce looks alarmingly like something the streets of Dublin may well be covered with by this time tomorrow night.  It looks like vomit.

No, no, it’s okay, you don’t have to say otherwise.  It does look like vomit.  But, you know what – the above dish actually tasted a bit beautiful.

I guess I’m feeling a bit insecure about my ability to cook and to take photos of food after having a look around the irish food blogs.  I mean, check this guy out!  And look at the picture of the brioche and fougasse from this girl The bagelsThe cakes!  Can I get a WOO WOO for this yumminess?


Food blogging is so fun.

So, I know the chicken cacciatore above doesn’t look that nice, but it is such a simple dish to make when you’re having mates over.  Because I’m still getting used to cooking again after my three years of not being arsed, it still slightly stresses me out when people come over.  Now, this has not stopped me from having at least two dinner dates a week, because I love having people over and feeding them.  But I’m just saying that I still have to pace myself and keep it simple, until I get a hang of things again.  If you know what I mean.

This version of chicken cacciatore is from the incredible BBC Good Food website.  Since I started the food blog, it’s been all Jamie this, Jamie that, bish bash bosh.  But in fact, I have been a zealous BBC Good Food fanatic since just before last Christmas.  I’ve made approximately twenty dishes from the website since then, and only one of them didn’t go to plan but it still tasted pretty good.  A lot of this food blog will most definitely be in reference to the BBC site.  Get on it if you haven’t used it yet.

I made the above version last week – it was the third time I had made this dish and it was for my lovely sister and one of my lovely brothers.  Said brother is heading to Florida for two years today to train to be a pilot.  Thank goodness I’ll finally have a rich relative to cadge off.  Just kidding.  I’m really excited for him as he’s wanted to be a pilot since before he could speak, although I’m going to miss him a lot when he’s gone.  Good news is he’s a twin so I still get to keep the other one, who is equally fabulous.  So basically, I wanted to cook something really simple but yummy for my siblings, so I could chill out with them between cooking times.

What you need for the BBC Good Food Chicken Cacciatore:

Serves six – if you’re only having four people make the same amount of sauce and just put less chicken in.  (I can has maths! Whoop whoop!)

1 onion finely chopped

2 clove of garlic, crushed

olive oil

2 tins of tomatos (it says tinned cherry tomatos but the normal ones do the job)

4 tbsp of ‘mazin mascarpone

bit of basil

6 chicken breasts, skin on (you can throw in a few chicken legs and whatever bits you like I’m sure)

This is soooooo simple and stress free to make.  In our apartment we have one of those open plan kitchen/living room spaces, which I love because you can chat away while you’re cooking and stuff.  But that’s why I need to keep it simple with the dinner party recipes because I don’t want my guests to feel completely stressed because I’m trying to make a ban maray or whatever it’s called out of a bit of tin foil and a fork, while burning my fingers on various utensils and pans, screeching ‘WHERE THE FOK IS THE TRUFFLE OIL?!?!?’.  It’s not cool to freak out in front of your guests.  Am I right?

So anyway, this is great because you just fry the onion and garlic together in a nice deep saucepan until they’re a wee bit cooked.  Like three minutes.  Then  you pop in the two tins of tomatoes, give it a bit of a stir, and literally leave it there for about 15 or 20 minutes to thicken up while you sit down and take on the role of the most together hostess ever.  Martini anyone?  Awesome.

Depending on your oven, you can pre-heat it for around 170 – 190 C.  I always say depending on your oven because mine is an evil f*cker.  Seriously.  Not only is it a bit old and has the inevitable irremovable crust of the previous tenants on the hobs, but it keeps randomly turning off and it’s driving me mad.  Because we’re renting, it’s not like we can demand a new oven on the premise that I’ve just started a new food blog and I want to bake some bread.  *sigh*

Back to the cacciatore.  So, you preheat the oven and meanwhile brown the chicken a bit.  When I read that on the BBC site, I was like…brown the chicken, you say?  Like…how brown?  What does this mean?  The first time I made the cacciatore, I browned the chicken to the point of it being cooked, and then after the following roasting required, it was like yucky school canteen chicken that tasted like a rubber shoe.  The last time I made it, I just whitened the chicken.  Literally two minutes on each side of the breast.

As it’s whitening/browning, you can take the nice thickened tomato sauce off the heat, and mix in the 4 tbsp of mascarpone which makes it go the lovely creamy colour.  Throw in a few torn basil leaves as well for that extra yumminess.

Then you can put the whitened/browned chicken into a roasting dish and pour the tomato sauce over the top so everything is nice and covered.  I threw in a few cherry tomatoes as well as some left over asparagus spears.  Then you put it in the oven for about twenty or twenty-five minutes depending on how you like your chicken.


I served this with the very yummy orzo pasta which takes less then ten minutes to boil.  Incidentally, I bought some rather neat place mats last weekend in Avoca.  A complete impulse buy but 100% worth it.  There are 50 place mats in one packet and basically you have a choice of four – you can either eat in Manhattan, Tokyo, London or Paris.  Because the place mats are maps of those cities.  I’m such a sucker for shit like that!  I love them.


My sister has quite shocking taste in music and maintains an incredible talent for mixing up band names.  She once asked me if the song playing on the radio was that band ‘the Arcade Monkeys’ – she either meant Arcade Fire or The Arctic Monkeys, I’m still not sure which.  She always calls Super Extra Bonus Party Super Furry Bloc Party.  Which is a good name.  I’m not doubting her talents.

I’m going to post this mp3 for my little brother Peter who will be a trained pilot in a few years.  He’s also a really talented bass player and I hope he won’t give that up entirely.  I remember one time, nearly ten years ago, when I was at the family home in Saudi Arabia (long story) for the summer.  I was in University in London at the time and was around 18 and had just discovered loads of old amazing music.  I was playing The Specials when Peter came home from rollerblading or something and he was like ‘Whhhaaa???  Who’s that??’  I always felt really pleased that I had turned him on to such a great band.

So Peter, this song is for you.  I couldn’t find an mp3 of this track and I lost my Best Of The Specials album about four moves ago so this ‘video’ will have to do.  Sorry it ends so abruptly.  Such a great song.  I’m going to Road this week to buy some Specials on vinyl.  It seems like the right thing to do.

Satu’s Butternut Squash Salad


Look at that.  Green, white and gold.  My Paddy’s Day plans are as follows: on Monday night I’m going to see the hilariously offensive piss-take Limerick hip-hoppers Rubber Bandits in Eamon Doran’s of Dublin.  After that, I’m getting the hell out of dodge.  I don’t like Paddy’s Day that much.  Although I’ve had loads of fun ones involving drinking early in the day at friends’ houses, I dunno…I think I’m kind of over it.  I don’t like walking around town in the afternoon and feeling like I’m in Shawn of The Dead.

I hate to sound hypocritical because I’ve definitely been a zombified drunk more than twice in my 27 years.  One Paddy’s Day, for reasons I can’t remember now, I had a net bag of grapefruits with me at the start of the day.  By 8pm, when I was blethered and singing some patchily vaguely oirishy song while hanging on to my bar stool for dear life, I realised that I only had one grapefruit left in the bag.  I often wondered after that – could I have retraced my steps or found my way home after a day of Paddy’s Debauchery by following a trail of sad, squashed grapefruits?  What had become of the grapefruits?  Years later, it remains a mystery.

This year, I’d like to avoid putting grapefruits into the realm of harm and I’m just going to chill at home.  Our flat is in the city centre so I might be able to hear the distant mumbling of the parade which would suit me fine.

Anyway – this salad is a combination of my friend Satu’s butternut squash recipe put together with some kind of salad that I must have had at Cornucopia or some such yummy eatery.  I made it for the first time about two years ago so I can’t remember the exact origins.

Butternut squash is a delight.  A few years ago, I discovered the sweet potato and really thought it was ‘the shit’.  But, fickle as I am, once I had been introduced to the butternut squash, my love of the sweet potato faded in an instant while I became acquainted with my new friend.  Poor sweet potato!

You need:

1 small butternut squash, deseeded and chopped into nice chunks

1 clove garlic

cumin seeds

balsamic vinegar

splendid spinach leaves

1 red  and 1 yellow pepper

1 red onion

like, a handful of puy lentils

pumpkin seeds

My friend Satu – a vegetarian who has a better diet than most carnivores I know -gave me this lovely tip for roasting butternut squash.  You chop up the butternut squash into manageable chunks, leaving the skin on.  This goes so yummy and crunchy through roasting.  Slice the garlic and scatter it around the roasting tin with the butternut squash.  Sprinkle a generous amount of cumin seeds over the squash and add a dollop of balsamic vinegar, around a tablespoon amount.  Mix that all so everything is nice and coated.


Pop that in your oven at the usual veg roasting temperature.  The squash needs at least 40 minutes to cook through, so what you can do as that starts to sizzle is chop up the peppers and red onion.  I’d add them to the butternut squash after about 20 minutes.

Once you’ve got the veg in, you can start boiling the puy lentils.

Oh…lentils…how I love thee.  I love all pulses in fact, but lentils are so brilliant because they don’t take, like, eight days to cook like the contrary (but thoroughly delicious) chickpea.  Puy lentils just need about twenty minutes boiling time and they’re good to go.

So, the veg should be all nice and cooked now.  It’s up to yourself how crispy or crunchy or soft you like them.  Mix in the cooked lentils with the veg.  It would be delicious if you spent a few minutes toasting the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over a low heat, in anticipation of sprinkling them over the top of your beautiful salad.  I actually forgot to do that this time around and the pumpkin seeds were still very nice untoasted.

You can now arrange a few spinach leaves on your plate and spoon on a big heap of your butternut squash, pepper, red onion, lentil and pumpkin seed mixture over the top.  It’s really nice with a bit of bread too.  Yum scrum.



I made this salad last week when our friend Co came over to get Niall to fix his laptop.  Niall gets that a lot.  Here’s an mp3 from Co’s band Super Extra Bonus Party, taken from their remix album Appetite for Reconstruction which was released as a free download last year as a follow up to their deadly debut album Super Extra Bonus Party, which won, like, some prize or something.  Their new album is scheduled for release in May of this year so keep an ear out.

Mushie Shake is my favourite track from the debut and this is a remixed version of that track by one of my other favourite Irish artists The Vinny Club, also known as the bass player of the mighty Adebisi Shank.  Yes!  I mentioned three of my favourite Irish bands in one sentence.  By Jove, I was born to be a DJ.

Super Extra Bonus Party – Mushie Shake via The Vinny Club (Appetite for Reconstruction)

A genuinely little snack…

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…courtesy of M&S

My old flatmate Ben, whom I mentioned in an earlier post, is a severe foodie. It makes sense seeing that his mother is Italian-American and his dad is full on Greek. When we shared a flat together, he always amazed me by creating the most fantastic dishes on a shoestring budget. Not one to look at recipe books much, he’s a wonderfully instinctive cook. Everytime I see an artichoke, I think of him.  To most people  that would seem bizarre, insulting even, but I know Ben will be quite pleased with that.

Anyway, something Ben said to me a few years ago really stuck with me. As an American living in Dublin, he thought it was so wonderful that you could go to any random crappy chain corner shop and you could come out with beautiful Irish cheese. Irish food in general has such a bad reputation – but we do have some lovely stuff. Cashel Blue, gorgeous cheddar, and our salmon which truly is spectacular.

I saw Clodagh McKenna’s TV programme Fresh From the Farmers Market for the first time this morning when I was recovering from a birthday induced hangover – how lovely is she?? She’s all like ‘oh goodness, the smells, that’s wonderful, there’s nothing better than caramelised apples’. I love cooks like that who are just excited by the smells of food, and excited about using local produce to get the best out of what is very readily available to us. I’ll be tuning in again for sure.

So, last week, M&S had a sale on some really delicious Irish smoked salmon. For five euro, I got enough to stuff a party of twenty full of canapes.  Not that I had a party of twenty – I shared it with my sister and brothers and niall.

I put a slice of it on soda bread, scrunched a bit of lemon over it, lolloped some creme fraiche on the top, and added a few capers which were both delicious and decorative. Nothing new but it was yum.


The link from my salmon to my track for this post is slightly tenuous. I can’t remember what I was listening to when I got this little snack together was but I could very well have been listening to Dan Deacon’s new album Bromst which is amaaazing. Dan Deacon is my top top all time favourite favourite live act. You can check out my reaction to this first time I saw him play here. The connection between Dan Deacon and this post is that the first time I saw him play he started his set off with Under The Sea from Little Mermaid. See what I did there??? Sea? Salmon? Yeah?

Anyway, Dan Deacon is playing in Dublin again in the wonderful Andrew’s Lane Theatre on the 3rd of June. Only three months to go!!

Dan Deacon – Wham City (Spiderman of the Rings)

Just a little snack…


It’s quite a big snack actually…

I would like to lose a little bit of weight.  Just a little bit.  Myself and niall go out to gigs all the time and we drink beer at these gigs.  Over the last two years, an average two to three gigs a week has led me to develop a little pouch of booze that is permanently attached to where my once slim belly used to be.  That’s a pretty gross description.  Sorry.

Anyway – my problem is…I like to eat.  And I like to eat cheese and bread and yummy savoury things.  I like chocolate and stuff but not as much as I like a big slice of white doughy bread smothered in melted cheese with wholegrain mustard on top. *sslllobbberr…*

What do I care anyway if at least four people last year said ‘Congratulations!  When are you due??’

Actually, I do care a lot about that.  That hurt my feelings.  Especially the taxi driver.  That conversation went like this:

Aoife: (Puff, puff, carrying bags and things) Sorry , I’m not going very far, just to Rathmines please.

Taxi driver: Ah sure…we couldn’t have a woman in your condition walking.

*a pause.  A pregnant pause you might say.*

Aoife: *confused*

Taxi driver: So when’s the baby due?

*definitely a pregnant pause this time*

Aoife: I’m not pregnant.

*thus followed THE most uncomfortable taxi journey home.  It was only about 8 minutes but it felt like HOURS.  Poor man.  Poor me!*

So my point is – there must be a way to still have delicious late night snacks like what I made for nialler and myself after our lunch with Anna and Ben and not increase the belly to the level of faux-pregnancy.  I think the key is exercise.  It must be.  I have to go back to the pool.  I have to.

Anyway – I dished this up in about ten minutes.  It helped that the tomatoes were left over from the night before.  They’re from a fingersmackingly good Jamie recipe which is as follows:

From Jamie At Home – I didn’t follow this exactly.  Coz I’m a maverick.

Jamie Oliver’s Mothership Tomato Salad

Serves 4

1kg mixed tomatoes

salt and pepper

a pinch of oregano (I forgot all about this but the toms were still yum)

Red wine or balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped.

Jamie suggests getting loads of different types of tomatoes, as many different ones as are available to you.  I used the santini red and yellow tomatoes which are pretty tasty.

You chop up all the tomatoes, bish bash bosh, and put a good big pinch of salt on them.  This releases the flavour of the tomatoes.  You give them a few good tosses and then you let them sit in a colander over a bowl for about fifteen minutes.  You’ll see the liquid has started to ooze out of the tomatoes – get rid of that.  Give the tomatoes a bit of a shake to lose any extra moisture.

The dressing for this is delish, really simple, and I’ll definitely be using it on other tomato related salads.  You mix together one part vinegar (I used red wine vinegar) to three parts olive oil.  Then you put it all together with the grated garlic and the chopped chilli.  Feckin’ lovely it is too.

At this point, you’re to put the tomatoes in a big bowl and sprinkle over the pinch of oregano and pour over the dressing, as much or as little as you like.  I served this with some really nice buffalo mozarella along with the strawberry salad (which was really sufficient on its own.)


So this snack used the leftover tomatoes, Parma ham and buffalo mozarella from the night before, and I put a few torn basil leaves on the tomatoes. The hummus on the plate is from Tesco.  We always have a tub of this in our fridge – it’s the caramelised onion hummus.  If you haven’t tasted this yet – go.  Go now.  Get to your nearest Tesco and buy this stuff.  It’s incredible.  I made my own hummus last weekend and really – I shouldn’t have bothered.  It’s never going to be as good as the caramelised onion hummus!!

A bit of toasted ciabatta drizzled in oil – a really quick late night snack.  Quick providing that you had already made the tomato salad.  But it only takes about twenty minutes anyway so it’s still quick.


While I was getting the snack together, I was listening to one of my favourite albums from last year – Stainless Style by Neon Neon.  The band are producer Boom Bip working with Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals.  It’s a brilliant concept album based on the life of John DeLorean who made the Back to the Future car.  Seriously!  It’s brilliant.  Buy it.

Neon Neon - Trick for Treat (Stainless Style)

A lovely lunch with lovely friends

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My old flatmates Anna and Ben are probably the most beautiful couple I know. They will make lovely babies if they get round to it. At the moment they’re house sitting in the above house, which is as lovely on the inside as it is on the outside. Anna and Ben (or Benanna as they’re known to me) are leaving Dublin next month to go live in the really big smoke, London. Perhaps they will become massive stars through the power of their band Herons!. They deserve to be massive through the power of their myspace Biog alone.

So we had a lovely lunch with them in their Dalkey church on a really sunny March day.


We had a delicious leek and potato bake. Ben sliced up the potatoes super thin – you could even say wafer thin – and Anna arranged them with the leeks, blobs of cashel blue and butter about the place.  Then she poured over slightly heated cream, and knocked it in the oven for about 45 minutes I think. Maybe Anna will let us know in the comments below. Go on, ya big leek! Leave a comment!


Look how lovely it looks!


As a goodbye present, I gave Ben his favourite album EVER on vinyl.  The mp3 for this post is the title track from that album. Go buy the whole album.  It’s really good.

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (In The Aeroplane Over The Sea)

The most ridiculous breakfast ever…

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Asparagus for breakfast?? Jamie, you are a mentalist.

But it totally worked. This was the easiest thing to make. In fact, it was almost easier coordinating the boiled eggs with the asparagus than it is with toast. Especially if you’re cooking for two people – someone is always going to get cold toy soldiers. Who’s it gonna be? You? Or your partner? How can you decide? Avoid this Sophie’s Choice by substituting with this (admittedly much more expensive) option.

This breakfast seemed a bit bold seeing that a lot of people around us are talking about the recession. I have rather exceptionally bad maths skills (always a great CV spinner in times of economic crisis), but between the asparagus, parma ham and free range eggs, the breakfast for two still cost a good bit less than ten euro.

This is a special breakfast. It’s a breakfast to cook the day after you’ve totally fucked up your relationship. This is a power breakfast. A breakfast to forget all woes. A Breakfast to forgive all things. Seriously.

It’s ridiculously easy as well.

Wrap your asparagus spears in pancetta (“bacon will do, no worries” said Jamie in the book. I concur.) Add a bit of salt and pepper, then put them in the oven until the pancetta’s nice and crispy – could take between ten and tweny minutes depending on your oven. When the asparagus are starting to sizzle, I’d say that’s a good time to put on the eggs. The perfect boiled egg really does take five minutes.

So, all that’s left to do – once you’ve arranged your plates suitably – is dip your pancetta wrapped asparagus spear into your lovely free range boiled egg and reflect on the current Economic Crisis while reading the Sunday Business Post. Perfect.

I definitely did not listen to this when I was making breakfast but it seems appropriate considering my last sentence. Even though the Floyd were always seemingly giving out about righteous things, I bet they have totally had their fair share of asparagus based breakfasts. And sure why not?
Pink Floyd – Money (The Dark Side of The Moon)


A fairly kick-ass strawberry and halloumi salad a la Jamie et Aoife.

One of the most fun things about cooking from a Jamie Oliver recipe book is that you get to do impressions of the Essex boy while you’re cooking. When I was putting together the halloumi and strawberry salad, I was hopping around our little kitchen, saying ‘bish bash bosh, that’s exactly the kind of food I love’ in my best Jamie voice.

Niall’s mum bought me Jamie At Home for my birthday and I made the following salad the very same day she gave me the book. I know that early March is not exactly the best time for eating strawberries, but if you are going to eat strawberries out of season, I really would suggest this recipe. I had a munch of a strawberry before I had started preparing the salad and was met with the predictably watery taste of not very yummy strawberries. Egad! Was my first Jamie At Home recipe attempt doomed to be an ill-fated one??

The whole thing about a strawberry salad is that you’re pairing up something sweet with something savoury. This has been going on for years, but to me it’s like a revelation.

(I suppose I should explain now in my first proper food post that this blog is about my own personal journey back into the kitchen. In my early twenties, I worked in a beautiful and wonderfully family run bistro called The Walpole in West London. The owners Wendy and Louis really helped me to start appreciating food. Before I worked there, I was scared of boiling an egg. So I learned to cook with them and was making great promise in the kitchen. A few years ago I stopped cooking properly. I moved into a new flat with my fella at the start of 2009 and since then it’s been all about the kitchen. Rock on.)

So, for this recipe, you have to let the strawberries sit in a bit of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar and SALT and PEPPER. My granny lives on the border of Northern Ireland and is an immense cook. She’d have a fit if I put salt and pepper on the fabulous strawberries that grow wild in her hedge. But seriously – what happens after 15 minutes is quite spectacular. As Jamie had promised, the salt and the acidic lemon juice and vinegar brought out a more strawberry flavour in the previously rather lifeless strawberries.

Halloumi cheese is an old friend of mine. Be sure, if you haven’t tasted it, to grill it/fry it before eating it. It won’t hurt you if you eat it raw, but it will taste like an old shoelace and might perhaps put you off eating in, thus denying your tastebuds of an incredible cheese! Halloumi completely rocks when you get it nice and crispy on the outside – thrown into a bowl of good pasta, toasted pine nuts and pesto. It’s a deceptively versatile cheese and it totally proved itself in this recipe.

Paired with the strawberries, the halloumi is in an element of its own. I’m the kind of eater who likes to put a little bit of everything on my fork so I get the full combination of flavours in one mouthful. This was a fun salad to eat. I had strawberry, halloumi, nice shop bought salad and Parma Ham to really finish it off. Because the strawberries had been brought back to life by the power of Jamie’s lemon and balsamic vinegar combo, there was little need for dressing except for a bit of good olive oil over the salad leaves.

The recipe in Jamie At Home does say to use Speck. I’m not quite sure what Speck is or how it’s different to Parma ham. I couldn’t find Speck in the shop so I went for the Parma ham – I’m pretty sure it was in the same ballpark of appropriate flavours.

Now. This is my first post as a food blogger and I’m wondering do the same rules apply to food blogs as they do to music blogs? I’m not sure if I’m allowed to write out the ingredients of the strawberry salad with speck and halloumi as it’s published in the Jamie At Home cook book…I’m going to leave that up to my fellow foodie and music blogger Darragh to decide. What are the ethics here, Darragh? Is it ok to post mp3s AND recipes from published books and sites??

School of Seven Bells – Connjur
For now, I’m going to stick with what I know and post an mp3 of a song that I listened to while I was making this salad. It’s from a band called School of Seven Bells who are made up of twin sisters and one of their fellas. They’re from New York, and even though they lacked a bit of stage presence in their recent gig in Whelan’s of Dublin, they are most positively my favourite band of the moment. I have no qualms with sharing their song Conjurr with you. It’s amazing.



There’s me in my 50s style kitchen waiting for my husband to come home from his job in the city.  Not really though.

Hello, you. My name is Aoife and i thunk i can has cook. I hope to keep this blog up as a record of the recipes that worked for me, and the ones that didn’t.

I’d been toying with the idea of a food blog since I gave up my last blog. The idea was brought on when I found myself wanting to get back into the kitchen after moving into a new flat with my mister. Now, let me point out that nialler (as he shall so forth be known) is a handy cook who makes me delicious stir-fries and yummy curries when I work late and am tired. But, much as I hate to pander to social cliches, I have been doing most of the cooking since we moved in together. This is largely because the minute I understood that the oven was sort of kinda mine (after years living in flat-shares and the like) I turned into my mother/army battalion general. It’s the weirdest thing.

It was last weekend, when my tastebuds were treated to such an array of finger-smackingly good food under such delightful circumstances, that I was prompted to start this blog.

The eating adventure began on a Thursday when we made this dinner for this deadly dude and his lovely lady. On the Friday we had a very good meal indeed with some very lovely people indeed. It then continued with a present of a cookbook (mentioned below) right through to Sunday lunch with good friends. The good food continued until Tuesday and, I hope, will keep doing so until the forseeable future. I also bought a strawberry plant over the weekend, in the hopes of starting some kind of growth on my fourth floor city centre balcony. It’s possible! The first few blog posts up here on I Can Has Cook will be the last five days of pleasurable eating.

I also listen to a lot of music when I cook, so I’ll be putting up an mp3 with each post. If you feel that this is morally wrong and against the charitable, kind nature of the music business, then I will think you are a bit silly, but if you ask me nicely, of course, I will remove the offending mp3s.

Now – I have two, possibly three, sources at the moment from whence I collect my recipes. It will be from these sources that I will be sharing with you. I hope that doesn’t break some kind of food blogging code that I’ve failed to pick up on because I’ve been hanging out with the music bloggers on the other side of the web.

There’s BBC Good Food which is…..amazing. My life has changed since logging on. I no longer spend hours surfing the net looking at bitchy comments on forum threads, but instead I spend whole evening perusing the archives of this incredible website. It’s mental!

For my birthday recently, nialler’s really lovely mum gave me present of Jamie at Home, which of course, I just love. I like watching the TV programme because I like the same kind of food that Jamie likes – lovely mozarella and tangy tomatoes and beautiful basil. His passion for food is postively infectious – I love that he grows stuff at home and concentrates on feeding friends rather than being fancy and pretentious.

The third source is a few other recipe books lying around as well as variations of things that I’ve eaten in cafes and restaurants around Dublin.

And so…I hope you enjoy this new blog.

For our first mp3, how about this little ditty from Harry Nilsson? I imagine most people remember Kermit’s version as opposed to Harry’s. Probably one of my favourite food related songs.
Harry Nilsson – Coconut


Lolcats. Lol.