Clafoutis was the first cake I ever made. It was 2009. Starting this blog in March of that year meant I had been growing slowly but surely in kitchen confidence and about ready to tackle something that involved frightening things like flour and baking powder and measurements.
Sometime around the day she demystified quiche for me, my great friend Jocelyn introduced me to the idea of a clafoutis. She had grown up with it as her mother’s staple dessert (much like the pavlova in my own home) and explained that there wasn’t really much to it. It involved hardly any measuring at all, in fact.
Three and a half years on and, although measuring stuff still makes me nervous (it’s the Maths, you see) I do feel I’ve come a long way from making my first Clafoutis.
In saying that, isn’t it great to revisit old favourites with a new sense of confidence? When my Mum and Niall’s Mum, Niall’s Nanny and Niall’s sister came over to ours for afternoon tea yesterday, I whipped up this classic cherry clafoutis without hardly breaking a sweat.
I’m going to come clean with you. To call this recipe a “bread” is really a bit of a stretch. In truth, it’s a full-on sugar-loaded decadently-brilliant-with-tea cake.
I found this recipe a month or two back and followed it right down to the pecan crumble. Since then, I have experimented with it using an all walnut crumble, a hazelnut crumble, and a mixture of both. I’ve also replaced the banana in the cake with grated carrot, and it worked an absolute treat. I shared the walnut crumble recipe in this weekend’s Naughty or Nice column in The Irish Independent, as my naughty nutty recipe to match Aoife Barry’s Cinnamon Roasted Cashews.
In the interest of full disclosure, it’s a bit fussy to make. But only due to the fact that you need, like, five different dishes for the mixing and whisking and mashing that it entails. Not at all difficult, but I would recommend you read the recipe carefully before getting stuck in, so you’re prepared for the different stages and have all of your tools ready. The result is a light and fluffy cake, easily enjoyed at practically any time of the day. Homnomnom.
I’ve taken to testing my cakes and treats on my Roller Derby teammates, giving them little slices of cakes after our gruelling two hour practices. In truth, they’re probably not the most reliable of testers seeing as we’re all so flippin’ knackered after practice an old boot would taste amazing. But they are terribly complimentary which does my baking confidence no end of good.
I tested these White Chocolate and Cranberry Crispy Treats on them a few weeks back and they were given a resounding thumbs up. So I shared it in my Naughty or Nice column in the Irish Independent’s Weekend magazine this weekend. In case you missed it, keep reading for the recipe.
I know the international readers of this blog must roll their eyes every time I mention the weather, but here in Ireland we have good reason to talk about it a lot/constantly. Because it continues to smote us. The weather pretends to be our friend and then quite literally rains on our parade when we really wanted the parade to be sun-soaked.
I have a lovely recipe waiting to share with you, a chipotle-spiced pork kebab wonder that I whipped up on our summer of 2012. Which happened for a few days around the 25th of May. I don’t usually let it get to me, but for some reason, that tease of a summer has hit me hard this year. We had a wonderful dinner outside in our garden, the smell of the grilled pork driving our puppy Daffodil (who has just started her own blog, natch) demented while we were enamoured by the smell of our Factor 50 protecting our pale and freckly skin, closing our eyes and relishing the heat. It even hit 20 degrees celsius at one point. 20 degrees!
Anyway, the weather has taken a (surprise!) turn for the worse over the last week. So I’m saving my grilled pork recipe for sunnier times and instead I’m going to share this great crossover recipe that I consoled myself with this weekend. I used lovely Moroccan spices to add a bit of kick to our roast chicken and it worked a treat in adding a little heat to our drizzly Irish day.
I write Movie Bites for The Ticket in Friday’s Irish Times, sharing recipes inspired by classic films. Oisin Davis writes Booking The Cooks, where he interviews bands and artists about their favourite foods. Le Galaxie are electro-bop future-space party-enablers.
We love food, we’re very fond of a great movie, and we all adore Keanu Reeves.
We will be screening the bodatious 1991 surf-thriller Point Break on the top deck of The Big Blue Bus while the Olly the pizza chef freshly prepares our special Meatball Sub Point Break Pizza downstairs. You can indulge in a pizza and a beer for €10, or €12 for a pizza and a Keanu-inspired cocktail.
We’ll be screening the movie at 8pm sharp and seats are absolutely free. Space is extremely limited and we will be giving away tickets for the 25 seats on the bus from 7pm sharp. So get down early. But hey, even if you miss the flick, there’ll be plenty of pizzas to go around. Plus, you can check out the good folk at Forward/Slash who will be holding fort in the front bar. So hopefully there’ll be no Sad Keanus on the night.
I’ve remarked before that one of the wonderfully unexpected side effects of having this food blog has been a growing sense of nationalistic food pride. I’ve had the good fortune of being able to travel around the country in search of some of the tastiest morsels being produced by passionate producers the country over.
The weekend before last, I found myself back in Inishowen for the second annual Inishfood Festival. The festival was founded last year in the most delightfully organic way, fed by newly found Twitter connections and encouraged by food enthusiasm, led by Donal Doherty from Harry’s Bar & Restaurant in Bridgend. No doubt we’ll find ourselves back at next year’s Inishfood to find it having grown again, as more and more foodies from the Inishowen peninsula and beyond get on board to share their knowledge and love of Irish food. Continue reading…→
Dukkah has been found at the beginning of quite a few food gatherings at my house so far this year. It’s an Egyptian-inspired spice mix which I first got a whiff of at the wonderful Ard Bia in Galway. It works brilliantly as a pre-dinner all-hands-on-deck nibbley treat because you can make it way in advance and it can sit happily on your table until your buddies arrive to tuck in.
It’s an aromatic combination of hazelnuts, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and quite a few more spice cupboard favourites. It’s served alongside fluffly bread and oil, so that you can dip your bread in your oil and then into the Dukkah mix, gathering up as many delicious spices you can before popping the lot in your gob. This works deliciously alongside a batch of homemade hummus, another great make-in-advance dish for a food gathering.
This may not be a quest that Harry or Hermione might find of great import but in our house The Quest For The Perfect Pancake is a grave one indeed. Myself and Niall have climbed great metaphorical batter mountains in search of the perfect and most fluffiest of pancakes. What a journey it has been, full of displays of great stomach strength and the loosening of jean belts, aided by the pancake tales to be found on the food blogosphere.
We are truly not even halfway through this delicious crusade and have yet to tinker with all types of pancakes. We did however stumble upon Deb’s Pancake 101 post quite recently and took inspiration from her in creating our fluffiest pancakes yet. It’s a more laboured recipe than usual, but this is a quest after all, and a bit of egg white whisking was not going to keep us down. The results were certainly the best we’ve attained so far, being light and lush, but lacking in lift. And so we’re still on the look out for that perfect pancake.
We’re thinking this Bank Holiday weekend could be a good opportunity for another go. Got any tips for us?
That’s right. You heard me. Deep-fried mutha-fuppin’ cauliflower.
This is an outrageously bold use of our floreted friend, and uses the gram flour mix I’ve been using for onion bhajis to its tastiest effect yet. It takes only a few minutes to prepare and works really well as a shared starter for friends as it actually tastes better when they’ve cooled down slightly.
I had mine with some sweet chilli sauce but they’d be great with a yoghurt-based dip. Next time I’ll probably whip up a bit of yoghurt, chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice as an extra dipping sauce. Nom.
Have you ever noticed that it is it virtually impossible to find Irish grown asparagus in the shops? Every once in a while you might see British asparagus in M&S and it’ll cost you a pretty penny. It’s more common to see Spanish, French or Thai asparagus (asparagi?) alongside the ubiquitous and much maligned Peruvian variety.
I had been eating these imported spears happily enough for years until a meal last year (one of the most memorable meals of the year it turned out) in The Tannery in Dungarvan, Waterford. We were served asparagus that had been plucked from their kitchen garden across the road, cooked delicately by Paul Flynn in the kitchen. The result was truly like nothing I had ever before tasted. It was a woody, sweet delight that lead to a lightbulb moment for my tastebuds. “Aha!” they rejoiced. “So that’s what asparagus is supposed to taste like.”
Well, as you can imagine, every spear of this spring vegetable that has passed my lips since has paled in comparison. I got a very lovely bunch of Spanish asparagus in my Home Organics bag a week ago and it got me thinking about Irish asparagus. Is it grown here? Can you buy it anywhere? Is it better than the imported varieties or did I just have a magic moment in The Tannery? Questions on a postcard or in the comment box at the bottom of the post, please and thanks.
*may be a slight dramatization of real life events