A sausage by any other name...

...tastes different but just as good!

Wurst, Merguez, Sucuk...

Mrs Hicks in Dalkey, Co. Dublin is the best place to buy sausages from around the world as well as for traditional Irish ones. Lately we've been sampling them a good bit, I've had a lot of banking to do and my bank is across the road from her shop so... I just can't walk by!

We had Bratwurst with fried onions, roasted cherry tomatoes, on toasted french bread...

...and then tonight we had Merguez (I cannot get enough) with peppers, garlic and mustard on rustic brown rolls... Plenty of Colmans American mustard of course...

Hotdogs have never tasted better!


Go West...

Ah... I'm home from Galway, my first visit but definately not my last! It was glorious, we camped in Salthill which was stunning, the weather was mixed but it was great as we really got to try out the new van! We hadn't managed to find the type of barbeque we want in time so we cooked on a disposable one and on the stove in the van, but I didn't get to experiment as we were starving when the tent was finally pitched and all was unpacked so we just cooked up sausages, beans and tea!I'm looking forward to going camping this weekend when we'll have more time to cook up a storm (I'm going to attempt to bake bread in a dutch oven so watch this space!)

The second night was spent in a hotel where Davey and Carmel were having their wedding, it was such a lovely day and both the bride and groom had a ball, I enjoyed the luxury of room service delivering local cheeses and tea in our gorgeous hotel room and we had a great night celebrating with our family! It made me really think about our own wedding next year and what we will do!


Gone fishing...

I'm off for the weekend in our new van! I'll be back here on Monday though so y'all come back now y'hear?



Tea Loaf...?

I remember a few years ago watching a show where the cook made a loaf cake and a cup of tea was an ingredient. I never wrote the recipe down, and for the life of me I don't remember anything but the cup of tea. It may have been a madeira base, a plain sponge, any basic cake really but with tea thrown in for good measure.

So when I was bored, last week, I decided to try to make something like it, basically a tea cake... tea loaf?

My Cup of Tea Cake

You'll need

175g soft butter

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs

250g self-raising flour

3 tbsp milky tea

1 small cup tea (without milk)

4 tbsp sugar

zest of 1 lemon


Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time alternately with the flour until blended to a thick batter, add lemon zest and 3 tbsp of the milky tea.

Bake at 180c for about 40 minutes then check with a skewer every five minutes until it comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cool.

Make a syrup by heating the small cup of tea and adding the sugar until bubbling, remove from the heat when it starts to thicken and pour over loaf. Prick the top of the loaf to allow the syrup to seep through.

Wait about ten minutes before slicing.

To be honest, this wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but it was different and you could definately taste the tea, I will make it again but only because the flavour was intriguing as opposed to downright yummy! I made it as an experiment and as an experiment it was worth doing, and I'm passing the recipe on because it was worth baking and eating. However if I could only bake one cake for the rest of my life this wouldn't be even in the running... not with lemon drizzle, chocolate squares, buttermilk birthday and all the other "I'll fight you for the last slice" cakes that have become repeat offenders (calorie wise) over the years of baking.

Sorry cup of tea cake but you just don't make the cut!


Simple Crackers

I love making oat biscuits to go with cheese, they are unbelievably simple, and versatile. Babies love to chew them, they work with jam just as well but served with cheese are just perfect. You can flavour them to match a particular cheese or just go plain to suit all.

Oat crackers

200gms porridge oats
200mls hot water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp butter
Some flour.

Mix the seasonings with the oats. Melt the butter and add, mixing through. Then pour on the water and stir. You should after a bit of stirring have a damp lump. If not add a bit more porridge. Throw on a bit of flour and turn out onto a baking sheet or floured surface.

Its as easy to just roll out the dough as thin as you can on a baking sheet, scoring it into squares and baking for 10/15 minutes in a hot oven. But I like to make round ones, so I roll it out on plenty of flour and cut the shapes, transfering them to the sheet and baking in batches.

Allow cool on the tray before serving with some good cheese and a nice glass of red wine!

Try these flavoured with garlic salt instead of normal salt, with raisins and a 2 tsps of honey, a tbsp of ginger or with anything you think of yourself!

I heart...

...Dried Sour Cherries!

This week I'm loving Dried Sour Cherries, which are available in the dried fruit section in Dunnes Stores. They are so nice to nibble on, and are fantastic in recipes!

This week I've been using them to make the most luxurious scones!

Orange and Cherry Scones - As suggested by Nigella Lawson in Domestic Goddess
(Makes ten)

500g Plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarb

Pinch salt

4 and a half teaspoons cream of tartar

75g unsalted butter diced

300ml milk

100gms dried sour cherries (or raisins if you prefer)

zest of 1 orange

Caster sugar for sprinkling.

Preheat oven to 200c. Sift the flour, bicarb, cream of tartar and salt. Rub in the shortening until it resembles sand. Add the fruit and the zest. Make a well and pour in the milk, and stir together. Flour a surface and turn out the dough. Roll out with a well floured pin to about an inch thick. Cut into about 10 round scones. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar if you like a crispy top.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown (I often turn mine upside down for the last 5)

Eat with copious amounts of tea, sliced in two with cream and jam or honey.

As you can see... I couldn't decide... Jam or honey, honey or jam... so I had one of each!!


The truth about Chocolate!

This is an email I received from Ingrid this morning...

Chocolate is extracted from the beans of the cocoa plant,
Beans are a vegetable,
Sugar is extracted from sugar beat,
The Sugar beat is a vegetable,
Therefore chocolate is a vegetable.
Let´s spin the theory further:
Chocolate bars contain milk,
Therefore chocolate bars are healthy!!!
Raisins, cherries, orange peels and strawberries are in chocolate
They belong to the fruit family, so eat as much as you like



Blogging with a Purpose Award

Thanks Nicole!
I was touched to receive the "Blogging with a Purpose" award this morning from Nicole over at Art and Aioli, I've become a regular over in virtual california, where Nicole cooks up a storm in her kitchen - I'm still green eyed over that Pizza stone Nicole! Nicole interjects her colourful kitchen journal with pieces of art that inspire her, my favorite is this!

I would like to pass on this award to the following,

A truthful and evocative blog, snippets of the joy and heart that is Ciaras family life, her writing is particulary beautiful, it is a wonderful blog and the weekly 'something lovely' is a joy!

I love this blog - I'm completely inspired by the descriptions of life for this Irish woman living in Alabama.

Fantastic and hilarious at times, an interiors/design blog with snippets of diary entries that are pure gems.

Sternum Might

An amazing blog which I stumbled upon and have enjoyed reading immensely. A fellow Joanna Newsom fan, Serena is a talented writer and jewellery maker and her fantastic poetry prose posts are brilliant! I also enjoy answering her very interesting "scruple" which she updates regularly on her blog!

Ten on Ten

I love this project which was set up by Rebekah and has been such fun to participate in! Check in to see her macro work project which is really lovely.

Award-winners, here's what you should do if you would like to pass this lovely award on:

1. nominate 5 blogs which haven't had this award before

2. each of the blogs must have a purpose

3.the nominated blogs must make a link back to this page

4. the logo from the award must be put on their blog and it must link back to this blog!


I remember you!

I know I've just done a non-food post and I would prefer to pop them in only from time to time but I've meant to post for such a long time about my and Joes weekly visits to his "NeeNee" (my Nana) and "Eddie" (my Grandfather) in their house in Dun Laoghaire, so if its okay I'll do it now. Most thursdays, at about 12 or just after, we head down to Dun Laoghaire and up the lovely drive of my grandparents cottage. Its so lovely to see his little face light up with recognition when he sees them - I know you! He has a little routine, in he goes, checks the phone is in the right place, unpacks the shopping with NeeNee,
has a quick dance to Frank Ifield "I Remember You", his 'elevenses' and then goes through the ornaments in the glass cabinet. Once thats done he heads for the door, waving as he goes. My daughter Mary has enjoyed a very close relationship with my grandparents, due to being a daily fixture in their house as a toddler! I would love a similar experience for Joe and so try to make it down once or twice a week. Its certainly no chore - I would move in if they'd only let me, I love being around my Nana and have discovered a new friendship with her since I had children. Her house is so familiar and has my whole life mixed up throughout it, I try to breathe in as much of it as I can as I know there will be a day when I will stand longingly at the gate wishing for one more minute inside with them.

I enjoy these visits as much as Joe, because I adore my Nana and Granddad of course, and the fact that there is something about my grandmothers knack for all things culinary that makes the visit all that bit more enjoyable. Even a plain cheese sandwich in her house tastes better than any! And her fruit cake? Divine!
I'll be wrangling her tea brack recipe from her soon and of course will put the result up here as soon as I make it - in the few seconds it will have before its scoffed of course!!


Food for the soul...

It always happens in the same sequence, just as I'm fine again about where we live, and resigned to staying there for another while because it makes sense, I end up meeting Ciara and Carole for a walk along the sea in Greystones followed by coffee in the Happy Pear, and again I'm restless and haunted, hating my house and dreaming of moving. We will, and not too far in the future, but sometimes I feel like a child a week before christmas... How much longer, how much longer?

Well, wouldn't you be?


...And all things nice...

How I love a challenge!

Our weekend was choc full with friends calling, and of course I love to feed the masses! I was set an unusual challenge though when I got a text from Ciara who, minus Jay for the second time in less than a month, was coming for dinner on Sunday. She asked me to leave her out on the dessert course, her intolerances making it impossible for her to enjoy anything moreishly sweet.

Ciara has found that she functions better avoiding refined sugar, but can eat honey and she also suffers a high intolerance for gluten. It was a challenge to combine the two points into my little project as the commercial products for coeliacs contain refined sugar, and a lot of the diabetic products contain wheat. I was certainley not going to hand her an apple while we tucked into a chocolate cheesecake, and I was sure I could make a sugarless mousse but I wanted to really challenge myself. So I decided. I would make a Gluten free Sugar free cheesecake if I died trying (or got very tired...)
I ran around health shops, I ran around supermarkets, what would work? what could I use? Its amazing what has gluten in it, you'd be surprised. Here is just some of the exhaustive list...

Oats, wheat, rye, and barley.

Malt vinegar.
Grains are used in the processing of many ingredients, so it will be necessary to seek out hidden gluten.
The following terms found in food labels means that there is gluten in the product.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), unless made from soy or corn, Flour or Cereal products.
Vegetable Protein unless made from soy or corn, Malt or Malt Flavoring unless derived from corn. Modified Starch or Modified Food Starch unless arrowroot, corn, potato, tapioca, waxy maize, or maize is used. Vegetable Gum. Soy Sauce or Soy Sauce Solids.

Any of the following words on food labels usually means that a grain containing gluten has been used, stabilizer, starch, flavoring, emulsifier, hydrolyzed plant protein.


That was a lot to avoid, but that was the fun of the challenge. I was determined not to buy anything with chemical sweeteners either so after a lot of glasses-on-glasses-off antics, some "DOH!"S that homer simpson would be proud of, and I lot of "I cannot believe there is sugar in this" moments... I had it!
So what was I going to make for her?

Ciaras Cheesecake

Little individual cakes - recipe per cake.

Gluten free. Contains honey so not for a diabetic diet

You'll need:

for the base

  • 3/4 Gluten free crackers (I used a brand called glutano)

  • 1 tsp honey ( i favor Tesco finest lavender honey for use in recipes!)

  • 1/4 gluten free sugar free energy bar

  • 4 sweet almonds

  • 1 tbsp rice crispies

  • 1 oz melted butter

Whizz in a food processor with the melted butter, press into a mold, or clingfilm lined ramekin.

for the topping

  • 4/5 tbsp sugar free fromage frais

  • 50 gms sugar free chocolate (I used an organic one sweetened with fruit juice from a company called Dam) - Make sure there is no wheat products in the chocolate as some do have them.

  • Handful raspberries

  • Double cream for serving.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and stir in the fromage frais. Mix some of the raspberries through and spoon in on to the base. Top with extra raspberries and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. This makes a nice chocolate pot type dessert if you want to leave the base out which would make it suitable for a diabetic.


Ten on ten...

I loved taking part in the Ten on ten today! Thanks Rebekah for the opportunity! Here is my contribution!


No Worry Curry

So many people get all worked up over making proper Thai curry, all the marinating, all the simmering.... all the effort... all the time... Recently after eating the most amazing curry at a party, I was determined to come up with a similar sensation but without the usual 'twenty day cooking in a hand built oven wrapped in leaves' that you usually find accompanying the best curry recipes!

After a few trial runs I discovered that you can make THE most tasty curry FROM SCRATCH in a half an hour, with just a few ingredients! I promise you - Try it!

It is easy and good enough to serve at a dinner party (really, try it!)

Curry for 4

You'll need

Meat (I use 4/5 pork chops, chopped into bite size pieces, Veggies could use Courgette.)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 can coconut milk

Paste made from a good handful of coriander, 2 cloves garlic, 1 good size red chili, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tsp American mustard, 2 tbsp Olive oil (whizzed to a fine paste in a blender)


Oil a hot pan and add your meat and the paste.
Stir until just browned and pour on the tins of tomatoes . Add the coconut milk.

If your pan is too small wait add the tomatoes a tin at a time, waiting for them to reduce before adding the second. Allow to bubble on a medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced by half.

Serve with jasmin rice or cous cous and a leafy salad!

It really is that easy!

Love love Linguine!

I'd forgotten about it, from buying mostly fresh pasta and then my dry pasta from Lidl, I'd kind of forgotten about how much I love linguine... its just the right thickness in the teeth and coats itself in sauce wonderfully!

We went for lunch in Gastropub in Dun Laoghaire as a treat at the weekend, we had nothing in the fridge and were just about to go and spend probably 30 euro in the supermarket (never shop with hungry eyes) so instead we went and spent 41 euro on a nice meal there!

Gastropub is a gem of a family restaurant, very friendly and extremely reasonable. The food is great too! The fish and chips there is superb in our estimation and we claim to have eaten the best fish and chips in the world in Llanfair P.G. last summer so we know what we're talking about!

The pub is made up of reclaimed furniture and floors, so the tables and chairs are all family sized and comfortable, taken from sales of estates around Dublin. The bar came from a girls school laborotry and you can see where compasses scratched proclamations of thought many years ago!

Bill of course went for the Fish and Chips served with mushy peas, Mary had a smoked salmon bagel and salad, Joe had sausage and chips and I happily ordered the linguine. Mary ordered a poached pear which was so sweet and tasty I ended up finishing it off! Her young pallet was overwhelmed by the spices and wine!

My linguine was so good that I was hankering after it for days, just one more spoon would do! I needed more...

So there was only one thing for it... Make it myself.

And so...

Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Linguine

You'll need

  • 500gms (dry, 350gms fresh) Linguine
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 250gms Goats Cheese (I favour 'Couer de Lion - Chavroux' for cooking with)
  • 100mls double cream
  • Handful chives
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

I roast, but you can boil, the squash until soft and set aside. Put your pasta onto boil, use the water off the squash if you boiled it. Then in your processor whizz 3/4 of the squash until smooth, add 3/4 of the goats cheese, the cream and salt and pepper and whizz again.

When the pasta is ready pour in the sauce and stir through. Serve with some squash pieces topped with a spoon of cheese and chopped chives!

Its so tasty!