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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Great Irish Bake Off Week 3 - Treacle Tart

Following on from last week's Great Irish Bake off (which I won, hehe) this week's challenge was to bake either a Treacle Tart or Apple Tart Tatin.

I chose to do a treacle tart, which I had never tasted before. It ended up being quite easy to make and was quite yummy.

Judge for yourself on how well I did and as always you can follow the Great Irish Bake Off on twitter by using the hashtag #GIrishBO or on Caítríona's blog Wholesome Ireland.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Great Irish Bake Off Entry

If you're following me on twitter you will have noticed myself and a few fellow foodies posting numerous pictures of bread this week.

Caítríona over on Wholesome Ireland came up with the great idea of doing a twitter/blogging competition modelled on the technical challenge in Great British Bake Off.

Last week it was Rum Babas and Karen O'Connell from Follow the Food Link won.
This week it is the intricate 8 strand plaited loaf and Dr Oetker Baking have kindly given prizes for this competition so you have more to gain than just yummy bread.

Anyone can enter and for more information on how to enter this week here is Caítríona's post.

Here is my entry for this week.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fenn's Quay, Cork

A few weeks ago, we finally got down to Fenn's Quay in Cork for a bite to eat. I had been following Kate Lawlor, head chef, on Twitter for quite a while and worked alongside her for Chef du Jour but hadn't gotten around to enjoying her cooking. This long awaited visit was not a disappointment.

So to start we ordered Warm Chicken Salad with crispy potato skins & a sweet chilli dressing and Kate's current version of 'Surf n Turf' which was Rump Steak with Langoustines and Sea Samphire. Hubs had the chicken salad which he loved and he especially enjoyed the crispy potato skins. I had the rump steak and langoustines which were gorgeous. The steak was medium rare and really tender which complimented the juicy langoustines perfectly. Two empty plates were returned to the kitchen.


In between our starters and mains we decided to try Kate's fudge which features on her new Punt Saver menu. We got 8 delicious pieces of black pepper fudge and beetroot fudge for €2 or £1. Which was fantastic value and a nice little break between courses. I also sipped away on the days special cocktail which was a Passionfruit bellini, which was gorgeously refreshing and a perfect palate cleanser.


After that little break our mains arrived, which were the Rib-eye steak with Chunky Chips and Baked Monkfish with Sea Vegetables and Basil Oil. Hubs had the steak with lovely crunchy, crispy chips. And my little pet hate of rib-eye being cooked unevenly wasn't an issue as it was perfectly medium rare throughout with a nice char on the outside. Now, after I stole a few bites of his, I did devour mine. We normally don't eat a lot of fish as himself isn't keen, so when we are out I always try to 'splash out'. This was perfect to satisfy my cravings. The monkfish was beautifully juicy and fresh and blended perfectly with the sea vegetable risotto, followed by a tasty kick of basil oil.

Thankfully we just about squeezed in desert, or else I would have missed the glorious Brown Bread & Baileys parfait. I normally steer clear of deserts that claim to have alcohol in them as the alcohol rarely contributes anything. However this desert, had the wow factor. The little bits of brown bread crumbled throughout gave a lovely contrast to the powerful, smooth Bailey's creaminess. Of course, hubs also devoured his Chocolate Pudding with the gorgeous Baldwin's Caramel Fudge Ice cream.


We had a fantastic meal and I cannot but recommend Kate and Fenn's Quay to everyone. The reason? I may have featured the dearer dishes here, but there is something for everyone in Fenn's Quay. Whether you want to pop in for brunch, lunch, gourmet dinner or a few quickie selections from the Punt Saver menu Kate has you covered. A short walk from all the hot spots in town...what more could you ask for??

Will we eat there again? Hell, yeah.
Cost? €90.85 for 2 Starters, 2 Mains, 2deserts, fudge, cocktail, glass of wine and 2 cokes.

You can follow Kate and Fenn's Quay on twitter @FQchefess @FennsQuay and also on their Facebook page

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Cupcake Bakery, Galway

The Cupcake Bakery, based in Galway, has now opened a baking kitchen and store in Liosbán Industrial Estate on the Tuam Road in Galway city.

As well as the opening the new shop,  Jennie Browne, owner of The Cupcake Bakery has launched a new range  to cater to the dietary needs of Diabetics, Vegans and Coeliacs. Importantly, The Cupcake Bakery boasts a ‘Gluten Free Room’  where all cupcakes for coeliac sufferers are produced in this isolated area.
And for those minding their figures,  The Cupcake Bakery will also be offering a low calorie cupcake! This new diet-friendly cupcake can be included in daily dietary programmes regardless of what plan you are following.
The cupcakes are available in over 30 flavours, including the classic Red Velvet, Galaxy Carmel and Banoffee Pie and are made using only locally-sourced, organic ingredients. As well as the standard cupcakes Jennie also offers a wide range of custom designed cakes, whether it’s for a girly night in, a birthday party, a wedding, graduation, christening or a communion.
The Cupcake Bakery is open from 11am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. 
For more information check out or search ‘The Cupcake Bakery’ on Facebook.
If you would like to place an order email

, call 091 396329 or pop into their new shop located at Unit 8 in Liosbán Business Park (across from the car wash) on the Tuam Road and give your palette a taste-swirling experience with every bite.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lobster Lovin' in Bite Dublin

"It must be love, love, love"

So we have all seen and heard the excitement that's been on twitter about Bite's Head Chef Malcolm Starmer's new creation the 'lobster burger'. So with trepidation I made a reservation, could this masterpiece live up to the hype?
As I'm sure you have guessed by the lyrics above, it more than lived up to the hype and surpassed every expectation I had. I literally started singing along to Madness 'It must be love' in my head once I took a bite.
It is fresh, buttery, luscious and light somehow in one mouthful. Everything from the fresh lobster, crispy pancetta and raclette cheese(yes, cheese and lobster works!) down to the truffle aioli and crispy onions came together in one perfect bite. It was served with cheesy truffle skinny fries which were, like the burger, to die for. 
Lobster Burger with Truffle Aioli and Parmesan Cheese Fries

And it's not all about just the burger in Bite, every other dish we had was pure perfection. We were brought to our table and given some chilli popcorn which kept us nibbling away happily while reading the menu.
For starter hubs had the baby squid which was cooked flawlessly, while I had the best prawn pil pil I have ever tasted. 
We also ventured and tried the deserts which brought the meal to a sweet close. We were too eager to taste, hence the lack of photos. Hubs had the chocolate brownie, which was lovely but he felt it seemed more of a cake than a brownie. I had the raspberry and lemon pot which was pure heaven, a fantastic light finish to the meal.
The 2 cocktails which we tried were the Stephens Green and Raspberry Collins, both tasted very nice and refreshing but a little tame on the alcohol side.

Baby Squid
Chilli Popcorn
Stephens Green

Overall, I fell in love with Bite, not just the burger. Along with the amazing food we had we were served by fantastic, friendly and unobtrusive staff and for a change to eating out in Dublin we had a pleasant surprise when the bill came.


Will we eat there again? Already planning my next visit.
Cost? Just under €90 for 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 deserts, 2 cocktails, a beer and tip. Amazing value.

You can follow Bite on Twitter @BITEdublin or on their Facebook page

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Romanesco with Gruyère Cheese

I came up with this after a battle of wills with himself. He detests cauliflower and one of my guilty pleasures is cauliflower cheese. So I tried force feeding him with it to no avail...he still hated cauliflower. And there's no point making cauliflower cheese for one.
I tried all the frozen versions and I may as well have been just eating watery cheese. So my love of cauliflower cheese was put on the back burner. Then Romanesco came to my rescue. I found this luminous green spiky veg in Avoca Monkstown and had to try it. So I came up with this recipe and low and behold it solved our problems, he loved it and so did I. So why not give it a go!

1 head of Romanesco
250ml of cream    
200g of Grated Gruyère                       


  • Chop the romanesco as you would a cauliflower or broccoli and add to a pot of boiling water.
  • Allow to boil for 2-3 minutes until the romanesco is nearly tender but still has some bite.
  • Strain the romanesco and place in an oven proof dish.
  • Cover with 3/4 of the cheese and then add the cream. Sprinkle the last 1/4 on the top.

  • Place in preheated oven (180C) for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Competition Time!!

So as most of ye know (mainly because I won't shut up about it) myself and Jeni Pim (@JeniPim) are competing in a cook off in Fenn's Quay for Chef Du Jour on Sunday the 29th of April.

On the night both myself and Jeni will cook two separate 4 course menu's along with the help of Kate Lawlor (@FQchefess) and her team. At the end of the night the judges Margaret Smith (@UmNumNumm), Evin O'Keeffe (@FreckledPast) and Billy Lyons (@CorkBilly) will give us our stars out of 5 and a winner will be chosen!

So to mark this and also my blog reaching 1000 views (nearly) I'm doing a little competition.

If you would like to win a seat at this fantastic foodie event just comment with Fenn's Quay's phone number below to be in with chance. (Added as some people are having problems, if you follow the blog, top right hand corner, you will also be entered!)

Winner will be chosen on the 11th of April.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mint Pea Soup with Gubbeen Smoked Bacon Lardons

I've been dying sick with the flu all week so decided to make this soup. Nothing makes me feel better than a warming bowl of soup, and of course you can never go wrong with bacon.

A lot of people don't make pea soup at home as they find it quite tasteless compared to the versions they get in restaurants, my little secret is to add both onions and shallots. I find using both you get a rounder fuller flavour. Also allow the onions/shallots to colour in the butter as this adds richness to the soup.

I have cheated a little with this recipe and used Tesco Mint Peas. I personally think frozen peas have as much if not more flavour than non frozen as they are frozen once picked and are a little bit harder to over cook. Also with the peas already having mint it allows you to skip a step.

And my final tip is if at all possible use Gubbeen Smoked Bacon Lardons. They add so much flavour compared to normal bacon lardons. Of course if you can't find them use normal bacon lardons, but search high and low because it will be worth it.

5 banana shallots
1 large onion
3 potatoes (roughly 400g)
1 pack of Gubbeen Smoked Bacon Lardons
5 garlic cloves
60g of butter
1.5kg Tesco Mint Peas
1.5L vegetable stock
300ml double cream
150ml white wine

Mise en Place
  • Roughly chop the shallots.
  • Roughly chop the onions .
  • Peel and dice potatoes, chopping them quite small for faster cooking.
  • Crush the garlic cloves.
  • Have all the other ingredients next to you and ready to go. 

  • Place a large cast iron pot on a high heat. Once the pot starts to smoke add the lardons. There is no need to add any oils as the lardons will produce their own fat once cooking.
  • Allow the lardons to brown and go crispy. Once browned take them out of the pot and place to the side. You will notice a nice brown crust after developing at the bottom, that's just what you want as it's full of bacon goodness.
  • Reduce to a medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted add both the onions and shallots.
  • Allow the onions and shallots to caramelize.
  • Once they are a nice golden colour turn back to a high heat and add the wine.
  • Allow to come to the boil and burn of the alcohol, use your spatula/wooden spoon to loosen the crust at the bottom and mix with the wine to ensure all the flavour is released.
  • Once the alcohol has burned off reduce to a medium heat and add the potatoes, cream, stock and garlic to the pot. Allow to simmer until the potatoes are tender.
  • Now add the peas to the pot. As they are frozen they will lower the temperature quite rapidly so turn back up to a high heat. Allow to cook for 5 minutes or until peas are just cooked.
  • Finally blend and add the bacon back into the soup

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sunday Lunch In Blairs Inn, Cork

Hubs will tell you I am normally completely anti Sunday Lunch. I cannot stand the stodgy carvery style food you get in most places on a Sunday. So when I saw Duncan's Sunday Lunch Menu online I was pleasantly surprised. It's bursting full of an amazing variety of dishes from your classic roast to creative venison casserole with chocolate espresso.

We drove down and arrived a around 12.45 and there was already a couple of cars in the car park. At the door you are greeted with the glorious site of the many awards that Blairs Inn have been given. The inside itself is warm and inviting with a roaring fire.

There is an immense choice of what to drink as both Richard and Duncan are self-confessed 'craft beer junkies'.  Hubs ordered the Shandon Cider and I had the Chocolate Block red wine. I normally hate red wine with a vengeance but after reading the description of the Chocolate Block I was curious. I was certainly not disappointed and have to confess it was the first red wine I actually enjoyed.

For the food itself I had the Mussels poached in a white wine and garlic sauce, which were easily the best mussels I have had. They were so plump and juicy and the sauce was one of those where you'd skip your main just so you could get another few slices of brown bread to mop it all up. While I'm on the subject of bread, we had the moistest Beamish soda bread which Duncan bakes himself, served warm. To die for. Hubs had the Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-Vent which was lovely and creamy with incredibly tender chicken.

For main I ordered the Braised Wild Wicklow Pheasant with a Wild Mushroom and Red Wine Sauce. The flavour was superb and the pheasant very juicy. Hubs had the Beef Casserole in a Blackrock Stout Sauce. Hands down he won on this course the beef was as tender with a sumptuous rich sauce.

And finally we managed to squeeze in desert which was a Warm Chocolate, Walnut and Brandy Brownie and Banoffee Pie. Both of which ended the meal with a gorgeous rich finish.

I cannot recommend Blairs Inn highly enough. Everything is perfect. You can tell this place is Duncan and Richard's baby. All the effort that goes in to source the ingredients and beverages pays off. It is a must for all. And I am now officially converted to Sunday Blairs Inn.

Will We Eat There Again? Hell yes!!
Price? €80 for 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 deserts, 2 glasses of wine and a cider.

You can follow Duncan on his twitter @Duncanblr and Richard on his @Richielala

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Liebster Blog Awards

Today I was introduced to the fantastic concept of the Liebster Blog Awards. I have the lovely Colette from Cakes, Bakes and other Bits to thank for this introduction. You can also follow Colette on her Twitter profile @katzwizkaz Colette chose me as one of her 5 choices for the Liebster Blog Awards, thank you Colette, delighted to be chosen.

So I had a further look into the awards and found out that 'liebster' is German for 'favourite'. It's a way of promoting those little gems of blogs that we all have, where we love and know should have more followers. A fantastic way to share the love :)

So how does it work?
  • You thank the person who gave you the award
  • Then link back to that person's blog
  • Copy and paste the Liebster award to your own profile
  • Pick 5 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed (they have to have under 200 followers)
  • Then finally blog it and leave a comment to let your 5 choices know they have been chosen.
My 5 choices in no particular order are;

Bia Ó Mo Chroí - Caroline's blog is a foodie feast with everything from recipes to restaurant reviews with some food festivals thrown in. You can also follow Caroline on her Twitter @CaroCreates

NomNomFood - Wayne a fellow ex Talk Talk worker also started his food journey this year. He won the recent Chef Factor in 2011 and his blog follows his experience in Ballymaloe. He mixes this with some of his own fantastic recipes. You can also follow Wayne on his Twitter @NomNomFoodIRL

Thyme on your Hands - Helena has a fantastic fun blog which is full of lots of fun recipes and you also get a great insight into what a playful person she is. You can also follow Helena on her Twitter @helenamoloney

Gas Mark Seven - Dermot's blog is one which is nearly bursting at the seams with foodie enthusiasm. He give a fantastic day by day account of his time in Ballymaloe and also has a fantastic weekly feature called 'Dermie's Weekly Shopping Bag' where he reviews cooking products. You can also follow Dermot on his Twitter @gas_mark_seven

Babaduck - Aoife has been at this blogging lark since 2008 so is nearly a professional at this stage. Her blog has an abundance of delicious recipes and I can guarantee you won't be bored reading them. You can also follow Aoife on her Twitter @babaduck71

So guys and gals, start sharing the love and pass it onto your top 5.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Day in Avoca Monkstown

So we took off to spend a day in Avoca Monkstown. The plan was to grab some lunch in Salt Cafe and pick up a few foodie treats in the food store after. 

We arrived at 12pm and immediately realised parking was going to be tricky. As this little gem has become so well known, we weren't the only ones looking. We found a space around the corner and skipped off to see the store.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by a bustling queue for Salt. Best word of advice is to book if you can. We were seated relatively quickly by the extremely friendly staff but there was an air of begrudgery from those around us who had reservations.

The restaurant itself is stunning. It carries a luxurious worn look which is carried out throughout the store, tables and even down to the menus.

Lunch Menu
So to get down to the really interesting bit. I ordered the duck liver parfait with pear & shallot chutney and toasted sourdough for starters and the venision, porcini & spinach cannelloni with a rocket, parmesan & fennel salad for main. While hubby ordered the white onion soup with aged parmesan & truffle oil for starters and free-range rotisserie half chicken with Caesar salad for main. No deserts this time :( 

Both my dishes tasted absolutely fabulous. The parfait was velvety smooth, however I did find with the cannelloni there was quite a shortage of venison. Hubby's dishes were exquisite. No complaints there whatsoever, in fact we probably had more than enough chicken to do both of us. Consistency with portions seems to be the only problem.
Duck Parfait
Chicken for Caesar Salad
Caesar Salad
We ordered the sparkling home-made lemonade which was gorgeous and fresh however I did  find the price a little steep at €6.95. The presentation of both the lemonade and water somewhat distracts you from this.

Sparkling Lemonade
We asked for the bill and were kindly offered to take our leftovers home and finished with a nice bill of just under €60 overall not bad value.

Next was the food store. The store is full to the brim of foodie nuggets that will excite you when you see them. Such as the Romanesco which we purchased. We noticed part of the store had been filled with tables for the cafe, we were told by shop assistant this was a new feature. Honestly, it doesn't work. The last thing you want to do is squeeze in behind someone as they are eating to grab something of the shelf behind them. Not a pleasant experience for the eater either. But hopefully they will change this back with time.

We ventured into James Whelan's Butchers and were greeted by the gorgeous vision of the meat being hung. The shop is decked out beautifully with all the produce displayed perfectly and as always, the staff were extremely pleasant and helpful. We picked up these delicious 56 day aged Sirloin Steaks. 

Overall we enjoyed our day in Avoca Monkstown. However if we were to go again we would allow more time and certainly book ahead.

Will we eat there again? Probably.
Price? €60 for 2 starter, 2 main and lemonade