Due to a car battery failure, our Valentine’s treat got put on hold until Saturday night but the fondue was definitely worth waiting for. I didn’t make the traditional Gruyere/Emmental fondue but I did put together a variation of Myrtle Allen’s Ballymaloe Cheese Fondue, using local Hegarty’s Farmhouse Cheddar, a few splashes of Fern Bay Sauvignon Blanc, some garlic and parsley. We dipped cubes of sourdough bread, which had been crisped up in a hot oven, pieces of rosemary flatbread from work, dried apricots, some thinly sliced Gubbeen chorizo and salami, cutting the richness with a few cherry tomatoes, gherkins (my latest foodie love!) and a green salad from West Cork. So simple and so good – I’m a fondue convert. The following day we were around at my Clonmel Cousin’s for brunch (yummy muffins!), waxing lyrical about our new fondue set and making her pull an almost forgotten old Christmas present from the back of the cupboard. Don’t forget to use it, Ruth!
I have a confession to make: I’ve just bought myself a shiny, glossy red KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer! The workhorse of many an American kitchen and beloved by cooks like Nigel and Nigella, I’ve been lusting after one of these babies for quite a while. I first fell in love with one I saw in the Cork branch of Meadows and Byrne a few years ago but, after peeking at the price tag, never thought there was going to be a chance that it would ever be sitting in my kitchen. Then we got married. And one of the lovely things about having a celebration of your relationship is that people give you gifts. So, several of those gifts, in the handbag of a rather giddy girl, made their way to Brown Thomas a couple of weeks ago. Although my hopes were initially dashed as they had sold out of red mixers – and, having set my heart on a red one, who would want an almond-coloured one instead? – the helpful staff ordered one in and gave me a call when it arrived. The poor Husband got the job of carrying the heavy box, all rapidly-getting-heavier 22lbs of it, home, having been promised future riches of cakes, cookies and breads, and it sat, in its box, in the hall of our Dublin flat – no space for mixers – until this weekend when I finally got to take it down to the cottage.
It’s moving week so there’s not much cooking and baking going on, apart from me making loaves of brown bread to try and use up some of the six – yes, count them, SIX! (and that’s not mentioning the few that are down at the cottage, ahem…) – bags of flour that I have sitting on my shelves. The flat that we are moving into in Dublin is much smaller and doesn’t have a freezer so for a while there was a mad race to finish up all the frozen foodstuffs at our current place. Then we made a quick trip to DID Electrical so we now have a new under-counter freezer and the pressure is off. It still leaves me scratching my head at some of the things that I have in there though. Who knows why I froze a brioche loaf or what kinds of curry are in all those little plastic containers that I use for lunches? Certainly not the person who should have been labelling them!
This is the most useful recipe to have in your repertoire. I use it – sometimes with the addition of broccoli, chorizo, bacon or chilli – with gnocchi, pasta, cannelloni and polenta, as a topping for pizza and even when baking pancakes. If you can track down some decent Italian plum tomatoes, it’s all the better for that; if you can’t, just keep tasting and adjusting the flavour with sugar if it’s too bitter, red wine or balsamic vinegar if it’s too sweet, tomato purée if it needs more body, water if it’s too thick. If you have fresh basil, add it at the end to lift the flavour of sauce. I often use thyme – fresh if I have it but sometimes dried – if I want the sauce to have a herby tinge.
Well, after years of searching plus 2½ never-ending months of frustrating to-ing and fro-ing with mortgage providers, solicitors and auctioneers we have finally managed to take possession of a little country cottage, our Irish bach, in North County Cork. It is a typically small Irish cottage with a pair of small bedrooms upstairs. It could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as roomy although the current lack of furniture does make it feel slightly more spacious!
One of the (very) many events organised by fellow food bloggers is a series of regular parcel exchanges. Last year in New Zealand I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Blog By Mail 2 and now I’ve gotten involved in Euro Blogging By Post #5, this round of which is being run by Jeanne over at the London-based Cooksister blog. Jeanne picked “The Taste of Summer” as her theme so I’ve assembled a parcel along those lines with a (slight) emphasis on Irish products.
Ingredient experiments – Pomegranate molasses: Bulgur and Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
When out shopping – especially in ethnic food shops – I’m a demon for picking up new and unusual ingredients that I’ve no idea how to use. I just see something in Dublin’s Asian Market, say, or – very especially – Middle Eastern shop Spiceland that looks interesting and, before I know it, it’s in my basket and I’m thinking: “didn’t I see a recipe for that somewhere recently?” Hence my food cupboards are filled with lots of things that keep getting pushed to the back and never used.