I have become a cast iron convert. A Thursday night dash into a post-Christmas sale at Kitchen Compliments on Chatham Street in Dublin led to me becoming the proud owner of an oval “Racing Green” enamelled cast iron Chasseur casserole dish (the Chasseur range is like Le Creuset but a little cheaper). Well, I started off being proud until I realised how heavy it was and that I had to drag it – with the Boyfriend’s help – to an opening at an art gallery, all the way round the (very large) exhibition, to the after-opening drinks in a local pub, and into a bad Mexican take-away on its way home to my kitchen. It survived its eventful night out in Dublin and, since then, has been put to use on many occasions, some of which have, again, involved trips across town.
Category: Food for Friends
There are seven members of the Bibliofemme bookclub and, every month, one of us hosts a meeting where we discuss the book distributed at the previous meeting. As I had picked the last book – Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider – all the Femmes were coming round to mine on Saturday and, in a change from our normal night-time get-together, we were meeting at 12pm. Normally we just have nibbles and wine – having taken a vow when the club started not to have anyone slaving over a hot stove – but I couldn’t resist the chance to try out some brunch recipes. Although, having carelessly tossed off an invitation to brunch to six people (normally seven but the Artist couldn’t make it back from London), those recipes seemed to be rather difficult to come by.
Last week we were going to one of the semi-regular dinner parties hosted by our friend the Tax Advisor. The Tax Advisor loves to host – but he doesn’t cook. For years now he has been hosting these dinner parties in his city centre apartment while the other guests come bearing food and dishes and, on several occasions, spare chairs!For the first dinner in his new flat, there were eight guests. This time there was no point in bringing spare chairs as the Tax Advisor doesn’t have a table. Or many plates. Or any serving spoons. Or a sharp knife. So, faced with such a lack of utensils, I decided to cook the dish that I was going to bring for dinner at home the night before. As a couple of the guests are vegetarian, it gave me an opportunity to work on one of my favourite meatless recipes from last year – Chickpea and Tomato Curry.
Seeing as both Darina and Rachel have recently been assuring the readers of their cookery books that it’s become very fashionable to entertain at home instead of going out – that, and the fact that the Boyfriend and I finally have somewhere to call home – we had some friends round last week after work for hot chocolates. It was a bitterly cold evening as I made my way home from work so I decided to supplement the hot chocolates with some soup.
Last weekend – the macaroon-making one – I was down home cooking dinner for my mother’s birthday. As we farm beef cattle, roasts are a regular part of life at home so, as the kitchen was in my hands on Saturday, I decided that it was a good opportunity to make something completely different. On Friday night I dug out the cookbooks that haven’t yet made it to Dublin – they’re the ones that got co-opted by my little sister – and started leafing through them, looking for inspiration. One of the Avoca books had an interesting-sounding Beef and Guinness Stew so I bookmarked the recipe for consultation the following day.
The best thing about being back in Ireland is Christmas in winter. Somehow – although my readers from the other side of the world may not agree! – cold long nights and short wet days make me feel Christmasy. It’s that whole feeling of getting indoors and battening down the hatches for the miserable weather. Perfect for Christmas preparations! And driving home for Christmas surely isn’t the same unless you arrive late, on the evening before Christmas Eve, to see the house lit up with all the lights on and there’s lots of tasty smells coming out of the kitchen.
I’ve been having more than a few Mexican moments lately with my chocolate and chilli experiments and I’ve also cooked several Mexican meals. The first was for a pot-luck dinner for eight in our house when some of the Boyfriend’s college friends and their wives were about. This was only arranged that morning and when the Boyfriend asked what we should cook, I figured that it was the perfect time to try Nigella’s recipe for Cornbread-Topped Chilli.
I’ve been getting plenty of use out of the Ral Al Hanout that I made fairly recently and it is particularly good with lamb. Of course, being in New Zealand, there’s no shortage of the baa-ing beast although, as the Boyfriend told a former vegetarian friend after one such dinner, we only eat the ugly ones!