Guilty Pleasures at The Eatyard


Is there any better food, particularly on a fragile Sunday, than Guilty Pleasures food?

The Beatyard & Toejam presents The Eatyard at The Bernard Shaw, which will be a four day food gathering at the Portobello pub from this Thursday the 27th right through til Sunday the 30th, coinciding with the wider weekender of The Beatyard.

Each day of The Eatyard has a delectable theme, with Thursday seeing the wonderful people behind the permanent cafe at The Bernard Shaw serving up their famous Arrosticini Lamb Skewers in a BBQ setting from 6 to 9pm. Friday night sees extreme foodie Oisin Davis hosting a Chilli Cookout, while Saturday The Bernard Shaw will be home to The Big Blue Banquet where the Big Blue Bus folk will serve out an autumnal feast.

On Sunday, I have the honour of closing up the four day foodie festivities by hosting a Guilty Pleasures day. Myself and The Bernard Shaw folk have rounded up some of our favourite guilty pleasures and on the day you’ll be able to recover from a weekend’s indulgences and, it being a Sunday night of a Bank Holiday, you’ll have the guilty pleasure of staying out late on a school night. We’ll be hosting the event from 2pm til 7pm, with myself and my boy Nialler9 spinning some Guilty Pleasure cheese-tastic tunes throughout the day.

Foodwise, there’ll be the Big Blue Bus Full Irish Calzone special (breakfast in a pizza? ZNOMZ) and the Any-way-U-Like BBBBQ Guilt Burger Grill (think Cute Baby Lamb Burgers). We’ll have Don Gustavo’s Mexico lunch brunch (a bit of spice to clear your senses) and Natasha’s Living Food’s sweet stall (her raw chocolate is the most indulgent in town). There’ll also be Phoebe’s Hot B Bar with Bloody Marys, Hot Toddies, Black Velvet, Hot Whiskey, and a full bar for all your hair of the dog needs.

It’s going to be awesomesauce.

For all further details, check out The Eatyard facebook page.

Thursday 27 – Sunday 20 October 2011
The Bernard Shaw, 11 – 12 South Richmond Street, Dublin 2

See for full lineup and details for the Beatyard Festival.

Mushroom Foraging at Kinnitty Castle Hotel


For a city girl, getting out into the countryside is something I just don’t do enough. It’s true, I own a pair of wellies. But their outings are often limited to the annual trip to The Electric Picnic.

So when I was invited down to Kinnitty Castle Hotel for a spot of mushroom foraging led by Bill O’Dea from Mushroom Stuff this weekend, my wellies’ hearts leapt with delight at the thought of stomping through forest grounds in search of fungi. And I was pretty psyched, too.

And so it was that an assorted group of bloggers and journalists and mushroom enthusiasts arrived at the stunning Kinnitty Castle Hotel in Kinnitty, Co Offaly on a drizzly October Saturday.

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Lovely Lopsided Carrot Cupcakes


They say you’re either a baker or a cook. Thus far, I would always have classed myself in the cook category. I am not very mathematical, which I feel goes a long way to hinder the sponginess of my sponges and the crumbliness of my pies.

However, I’m starting to come around to the idea that you can do anything in the kitchen. Anything at all. As long as you’re not that fussy about the results, that is.

Baking in my kitchen has in the past been very stressful scene, all piles of flour and wretched-looking spatulas splattered across the floor. The last few times I’ve baked, however, a realisation, nay, a revelation, has slowly dawned on me.

I am not a Masterchef contestant.

If my cake doesn’t turn out, I will not get eliminated.

Yes, it will be frustrating if my cake flops, but really the only person I’ll be letting down is myself. My friends and family will be understanding and no one misses a cake or a loaf that they’ve never tasted. Am I right?

As this has sunk in, my calmness approaching baking has risen. So what if the cakes I make look a bit worse for wear and my cupcakes are dangerously lopsided? If they taste good, it’s a job well done in my book.

It was with this in mind that I approached these Carrot and Cream Cheese Cupcakes. Let me tell you, they were a delight to make and they came out a dream. Lovely and moist, sweet and sumptious, and very lopsided indeed.

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A Minestrone Super Soup


Sometimes there’s nothing like a bit of soup to take the bite out of the autumn air. Minestrone soup is one of my favourite winter-warmers, because you can squeeze in loads of yummy veggies and you get to eat pasta at the same time.

I love using tortellini in minestrone, as it makes a really hefty meal of it. You can follow the recipe I’ve used below, but instead of using small pasta shapes, you can just add the tortellini for the last 4 minutes of cooking. It’s lush.

Making use of the wonderful Little Italy shop being on my doorstep, this time I’ve used some Barilla’s Ditalini Rigati in my soup. Possibly the most perfect pasta for minestrone I’ve yet to taste, these tiny little tubes soak up the taste of the tomato-based soup fabulously.

Another great thing about this soup is it’s a great way to use up a surplus of vegetables. You can pretty much throw any Mediterranean-style vegetable in the pot and you’re on to a winner.

For the full recipe, have a look after the jump!

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Spiced Soup: Jamaican Style


A bit of peppery heat goes a long way at this time of year…

My Twitter and Instagram buddies may be aware that I’ve recently taken up a new hobby on Saturday mornings. To my absolute bubbling-over joy, I’ve started taking horse-riding lessons at Ashtown Stables near the Phoenix Park.

Last Saturday, I thought I was going to pass out with happiness as I trotted with 15 or so other adults of varying horse-riding ability through the Phoenix Park. Among the deer and the squirrels (and possibly a badger or two), I breathed in the fresh air and thought how truly marvellous it is to be alive. It should be noted that when I’m horse-riding my inner voice is that of a posh 50 year old horse trainer lady called Henrietta Battington-Swanley. Naturally.

Horse-riding sure works up an appetite. When I arrived home, I set upon making a sweet-corn based soup as I had some corn in the cob that needed using. After a little look on the interwebs, I came across this Jamaican Spiced Corn Soup recipe from Delicious Magazine that looked right up my street.

This post is especially for Joelle and Matthew, who were part of my class last Saturday morning. Between trots, I found out they are Kitchen Aid-owning foodies who have met (my moral compass and style icon) Angela Lansbury in the flesh. I was suitably impressed and look forward to sharing more equestrian mornings with them in the near future.

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All Day Breakfast


I’ve proclaimed my love for meals that work as breakfast, lunch and dinner on this blog before. When I was a kid, we always had cornflakes at night for supper. I think this might be an Irish thing. None of the other kids on the compound I grew up on in Saudi Arabia had cereal for supper. So maybe that’s where I got my appreciation for all day breakfasts.

I recently had a lip-smackingly yum Red Flannel Hash at Momma’s Place and I really wanted to recreate it at home. I thought I’d add a bit of spice to the mix and mess about with the idea a little. The end product was a glorious brunch/brinner which you could easily make for a weekend brunch or a mid-week meal.

I’ll definitely be making it again, but next time I think I’ll substitute the harissa yoghurt for some flaked smoked mackerel. Now that would be a killer brinner.

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Spinach and St Gall Pasta Bake


Recently over on the seriously droolsome Edible Ireland, Kristin featured an Irish Farmhouse Mac and Cheese which had me craving this classic.

After a bit of a heavy weekend at the Hard Working Class Heroes festival in Dublin, however, I wasn’t sure if I should really  indulge myself in a three-cheese wonder of gooey delight. But I still wanted to eat something yummy and comforting, and, well, just a bit gooey.

I went for a root around one of my favourite blogs 101 Cookbooks, written by veggie and natural food lover Heidi Swanson. I often have a gander at her recipes for inspiration when I’m feeling in need of a little vitamin boost, but don’t want to sacrifice flavour in favour of culinary virtuousness.

I found this recipe for a spinach and almond pasta bake and it reminded me of a spinach and pine-nut side dish that I made last year. I thought I’d give it a bash and throw it into a casserole dish with some beautiful St Gall cheese topped with breadcrumbs and see if it hit the spot.

By golly, I wasn’t disappointed.

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Donal’s Lemon Drizzle Cake


Lemon Drizzle Cake served up on my Me Auld China cake stand

Regular readers of this blog will know that baking scares the bejaysus out of me. I’m determined to rid myself of this cursed baking fear, and my dream is to be able to approach sponge and fairy cake batters without trepidation.

I’m slowly building up my confidence by picking one baking recipe and practicing it until I can make it without falling to a heap on the kitchen floor, denouncing flour and all its fickleness.

Lynda Booth of Dublin Cookery School’s Double Ginger Cake was the first cake I mastered. And by mastered I mean I’ve made it numerous times now and only once was it inedible.

Nessa Robin’s basic scone recipe has held my hand through many a trial (and error) scone batch.

In the last month, I’ve made Donal Skehan’s Lemon Drizzle cake four times, and each time it has worked a dream. It’s a great little recipe perfect for those with Bakeaphobia like myself, and I’ve published it after the jump with Donal’s full blessing.

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BFFs: Kale and Anchovy


Yup. Still on the anchovy buzz.

This is a recipe I found a few months back and have made it the couple of times in between that I’ve found myself with an abundance of kale.

Kale is one of my favourite brassicas (ya brasser!) but I’m not sure if they’re to everybody’s taste. They can be a little bitter, but I like to think that’s because they’re so jam-packed with millions of vitamins and yummy good stuff.

This pasta takes less than 15 minutes to put together. As the kale-based sauce is not as heavy as most, it works well as a light-ish lunch or supper.

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Dingle Invasion


Sunday fog lifting from Dingle harbour

Dingle is a very special place. Magical, some might even say. I’d take any excuse to visit, and last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity of being a judge at the Blas na hEireann food awards at the Dingle Food Festival.

The Dingle Food Festival is easily the best food festival I’ve been to in Ireland, from the perspective of a punter going down to graze on local foods. It’s not just the locality’s natural beauty that helps, but it’s also the community present in the town that boosts the atmosphere at this festival. It’s as if you’re only allowed to live in Dingle if you’re a really lovely and inspiring person. Who also makes amazing cheese.

Myself and Niall stayed in the beautifully elegant Emlagh House. We ate our way around Dingle, taking in Out Of The Blue and An Canteen. We visited the Dingle Brewing Company and supped the delicious Tom Crean’s lager. We nibbled our way through the town by way of the often mouth-watering (and consistently excellent value) Taste Trail. We had a masterclass with Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s Ice-Cream and tried his outrageous Extreme Cocoa drink.

We met Sharon from Foodie Fancies and ate too many of her ah-mazing cupcakes. We went on a fishing trip out on the sea in the Sunday morning fog, caught heaps of mackerel and pollock, and then had it cooked for us two hours later in The Marina Inn. Niall finally got to meet his black pudding hero Jack McCarthy at the For Food’s Sake talks, which also featured the truly inspiring Gianna Ferguson among others.

Perhaps not so much a Dingle Invasion as a happy visit, a few bloggers made the trip all the more enjoyable. Thanks to Bill, Sharon, Lily and family, Ollie, Keith and family, Kelly and Geoff (and Liv, of course) for the wonderful company throughout the weekend.

And a huge thank you to the organisers who looked after our group of bloggers so very well.

Have a look over here for a full list of the Blas na hEireann winners and keep reading for a few pics from the weekend.

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