May 27, 2013

Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread

You know when you want something but you can't have it? I mean this in all aspects of life. 

You can't apply for the job you'd be incredible at because you only have 1 year's experience instead of 3. You go out for lunch and really want to order a sandwich but the café doesn't have gluten free bread and you're coeliac. The cute guy you like already has a girlfriend. He's not good for you anyway, especially when he gives you the impression he's single when he's not. You'd like to rock a fringe but you've got a cows lick. You'd love to eat a honking piece of cake but you're on a diet. You wish you could chill with your friends but you've got work/an exam/an assignment tomorrow. You want to buy those super cute sandals but you've no money. You want to make banana bread but there are no bananas in the house. 

Real life situations. 

Any idea what aspect I'm going to hone in on? Yep, that's right, bananas. Looks like I'm really going to be writing a post about bananas, huh. 

Bananas are coveted in my house. They do not last. At least to 20 are bought every week and they'll be gone before the weekend. Notice my dilemma? A lack of bananas=a lack of banana bread in my life. To get this banana bread made I had to take four bananas, place them in a bowl and label them with a DO NOT EAT sticker.

Again, real life situations.

May 24, 2013

Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Hi there. There is something you should know about me...I love a good burger. Like, to the extent that if I go out for dinner and end up ordering a burger, I'm having cheese on it, bacon too and I'll pay extra for avocado! I have zero shame in this. Yeah my burger may end up being pretty pricey but it is so worth it. Spoil yo'self.

Burgers are not something we eat very often but when we do they go straight onto the BBQ. A barbecued burger is delicious, for me it has got to be one of the most satisfying things to eat. I love the charcoal grill marks that get branded onto the burgers as they cook and then the cheese goes on to melt, the buns get is just a great time! 

Dad was searching around Amazon for a burger press the other day. He found one for €3, went to the checkout and it ended up costing €20...€17 for delivery. You have got to be kidding me! We can live without a burger press! Anyway, all the talk of burgers got me in the mood to make some.  We usually buy burgers from our butcher, keep them in the freezer and pull them out on a day that looks like it is going to be good for BBQ. 

May 20, 2013

Crunch Bars {chocolate dipped homemade honeycomb}

It's the end of an era. Today I had my final college exam. Phew, I don't know how I feel! Relieved?  Sad? Scared? Happy? Overjoyed? I think I am feeling all of these emotions! I will miss college immensely. I'll miss seeing my friends daily, I'll miss being educated by my favourite lecturers, I'll miss college life. But, I won't miss the stress around assignments and exams. I cannot wait to get up in the mornings and not feel the looming fear of having to study for an exam or complete an assignment. I'm ready for the world of work. 

Holy crap, I'm finished college!

I had a few days off inbetween my second last and last exam, so I stayed the night with my sister to chill a little. I made dinner (no surprise there!) and she made her apartment comfortable for a lazy, Gossip Girl filled evening. We were chatting in bed and at 1:00 A.M. these crunch pops were imagined. To say that there was no temptation to head to the supermarket right away for ingredients would be a lie! 

May 13, 2013

Antipasto Plate {Picky Tea}

When I was younger, most Fridays, after a long week in school, my family used to have a dinner that we called a 'Picky Tea'. It involved no cooking at all. After Mam and Dad came home from work, we would head to the supermarket and get everything needed for a Picky Tea. First, let me tell you what a Picky Tea is. It is a supper where you buy a variety of your favourite cold meats, cheeses, crisps, fruit, peanuts, bread, and crackers, put them all in bowls or on platters, place them in the centre of the kitchen table and everyone helps themselves. 

Our Picky Tea usually consisted of salami, deli ham and turkey, Cracker Barrel cheese,  Philadelphia with herbs, grapes, sliced apples, peanuts, crisps, french stick and Carr's Table Water biscuits. One of the best things about a Picky Tea was having left overs for a sandwich on Saturday! One of my favourite things to eat was  a piece of french stick spread with herby Philadelphia and dipped, Philadelphia side down, into salted peanuts. I crave that every once in a while! 

I suppose, our Picky Tea was a very Irish version of the Italian Antipasto plate. Except it was our supper and not the first course of an extended Italian meal. I love food like this, dishes where the ingredients get all the attention-full flavoured, fresh food displayed attractively on a plate- requiring only a little knife action. It really is up to you what you put onto your antipasto plate. It's rustic, it's all about personal taste and it's all about enjoying good food with even better people. When it comes to presenting the food, I like to either use large white platters, wooden boards or even wooden chopping boards. I think the food looks best on these. White makes the food pop and the wood makes it look characteristically rustic and authentic. Also, I try to group ingredients together-meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables. Chutney look great in small bowls, nuts in small bowls and bread and crackers in a basket. Just make your antipasto plate you and everyone will love it!

May 06, 2013

Roasted Rhubarb + Lavender Sablé Biscuits

There was a rhubarb plant in the back garden that needed to be cut. I let two weekends go by before tending to it. With its long vibrant scarlet pink stems, I found it quite difficult to figure out what I wanted to cook with our home grown rhubarb. I wanted to cook the perfect thing, as if the rhubarb sitting in Mam's vegetable patch was the only rhubarb in the world. 

Something so fresh and delicious, in my opinion, only needs a tiny bit of love to make it sing. In this case, rhubarb needs sugar because it makes your mouth pucker it's so sour! I could have made a crumble or a pie, but I've blogged one before. For the sake of a new blog post, I decided to make something different! I wanted to cook the rhubarb so it could be used in a few different dishes. By roasting it and making the rhubarb beautifully tender and sweet you can do many thing with it. 

I made some lovely lavender sablé biscuits to go along with it. Sablé is a French biscuit that has a lovely crumbly, sandy texture. I served it along with a dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of honey as a brunch. Brunch just got elegant!

May 02, 2013

Iced Coffee {cold brewed coffee}

Summer's here. You can tell, but only by the don't feel the heat yet. And I use 'yet' very optimistically. I mean, in Ireland we'll never feel real heat for an extended period of time. It's the hard truth that every Irish person has to deal with. I think we've actually had our summer already-one or two nice sporadic days last week. 

With the change in weather, bright mornings and long evenings, I felt myself wanting to switch from lattes and cappuccinos to iced coffees and frappuccinos. I could drink iced coffees all day, all day. I absolutely love them. They wake you up nicely, leaving you refreshed and chilled. They are an absolute god send when you are hungover. For real, get on these for the morning after you've had one to many vodka tonics the night before! Your body and head will love you.

First time I had an iced coffee was when I was in NYC where I was waitressing for the summer. I  loved getting up in the morning-leaving my apartment complete with a freshly ironed white shirt and  stopping en route to the subway for an iced-coffee. It became my morning ritual when going to work. 

It seemed that at 8 am the entire neighbourhood was stopping off for iced coffee. Iced coffee with milk, iced coffee with cream, iced coffee with half and half, iced coffee with soy milk, decaf iced coffee.  I take mine with a dash of cream...sugar if I'm feeling fancy.