While in New Zealand, staying with the Husband’s parents, our nearest café is actually a winery called Fossil Ridge. We pass the small vineyard on our daily walk (sometimes several times a day as the Husband tries to balance lots of eating his mother’s fabulous food with regular competitive brother-in-law weigh-ins!) and the walk does occasionally get a little interrupted. An attractive wooden building, set amidst olive groves and overlooking a pond covered with water lilies, the cellar door is a relaxed setting to enjoy a selection of platters and light lunches to accompany its wines.
I’ve always been a fan of porridge. It’s one of those things that seems to fit in perfectly with a cold morning at the cottage: a steaming bowlful, topped with some stewed fruit and a dollop of natural yoghurt is just the thing to set myself and Little Missy up for the day. She eats the regular sort, which I grind up with my immersion blender (always useful but now indispensable) before cooking, but I’ve gotten hooked on Flahavan’s Pinhead Oatmeal this winter.
I love good olive oil and I especially love Colletta Olivieri Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which is imported direct from Italy by producer Lino Olivieri. This week he will be taking delivery of the delicious olio nuovo, new season olive oil, from his family’s farm in Puglia so if you’re looking for a Christmas present for someone who likes their food, then get your hands on this – it’s €40 for a 5 litre can or €25 for the 3 litre can and Lino will courier it anywhere in the country for a very reasonable cost.
There are lots of lovely food orientated events taking place over the next week to celebrate Slow Food’s Terre Madre Day, including meals in East and West Cork. These feasts will be taking place in the Grain Store at Ballymaloe House on Sunday 6 December and at the fantastic Blue Geranium Cafe at Hosford’s Garden Centre on Wednesday 9 December. Both events will feature local foods and producers, including – in East Cork – plum puddings from Arun Kapil (his Green Saffron mixed spice is worth travelling miles for), chocolates from Casey O’Connaill and breads from both Arbutus and Scott Walsh. More information below…
My cookery demonstration career continues this week on Wednesday 2 December in the Knockcarron, Co Limerick (map here). Knockcarron/Knocklong ICA have invited me along and I’ll be giving a demonstration called Spice Up Your Life in the Community Centre at 8pm. I’ll be making my favourite Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup, a lovely rich Beef and Prune Tagine, finishing with Banana and Cardamom Cake.This time round – although it may ruin the evening’s suspense! – I’m looking forward to using an oven that works consistently. That, and me not accidentally turning it off half ways through the demo…
When I lived in New Zealand, cooking was my way of getting to know the (then Boyfriend, now) Husband’s family and friends. Three of his sisters lived nearby in Christchurch and they, together with a boyfriend and various cousins, were regular visitors to our house. When I look back on the recipes that I gathered in those days, they rarely were for dining à deux; instead I cooked roasting tins full of Chicken with Garlic and Lemon, made overflowing pans of Beef and Chorizo Pie and baked large dishes of Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding.
This is the soup that I cooked at the Glenroe Ladies’ Club demonstration – it is something that I make regularly as it has a great flavour, doesn’t take long and is really good for freezing. The smoked paprika is fabulous with it, giving a real depth to the soup. Perfect for warming your hands while you sip it out of a large mug.
The suspense was growing. There is an element of hope in cooking an upsidedown cake at the best of time but cooking one for a demonstration in front of 35 members of the Glenroe Ladies’ Club was, perhaps, asking for trouble. Throw in anirregularly used gas oven – I live in a world of electricity, rarely cooking on gas – and a demonstrator who, while distracted, managed to turn the oven off instead of up (ahem) and you’re adding a whole new layer of problems to the mix!