On Friday night two friends were arriving in from Cambridge in time for a late supper. They didn’t arrive until after 9pm, fortunately, as the previous night at Mackerel and an after-work engagement party ensured that I didn’t get home until around half seven. Walking home from town I nipped into Spiceland to pick up some pita breads and a tin of dolmades (rice stuffed vine leaves) and together with a few house basics – potatoes, carrots, chorizo, eggs – decided on a simple tapas-style meal with a Mediterranean flavour.
My friend the Film Critic had a birthday last week and so I took it into my head, late on Tuesday night, to make him a birthday cake. Wanting something simple – and that I already had the ingredients for in the house – I decided on a straightforward Gâteau au Yaourt, which seems to be a French national dish. I first came across this cake on Clotilde’s Chocolate & Zucchini blog and, subsequently, it also cropped up in Christelle Le Ru’s Simply Irresistible French Desserts and also as a Frenchwoman’s contribution to the Moneystown school’s charity cookbook. It was evidentially time to try it out.
In the summertime I love to cook quiches and tarts – although I do have to admit that I often cheat and use ready-made frozen pastry. When I’ve time to actually make the pastry as well as the quiche (all too often it becomes a trade-off), I use Susan Loomis‘ short, sumptuous and food processor-friendly recipe but, last Friday, with our Scottish ex-NZ Housemates coming round for dinner, there simply wasn’t time. I ditched the idea of making the pastry but, while talking to our guests from the kitchen and getting some salad together, I did manage to give the onions enough cooking time so that they were meltingly sweet and a really good base for the rest of the flavours – pungent smoked bacon and sharp mature cheddar cheese.
Walnuts in New Zealand are fantastic. Not only can you buy the boutique, high-quality nuts that are widely grown in this country – there’s even a Christchurch-based grower and processor that glories in the name A Cracker of a Nut – but even the imports are of a far better quality than we normally see in Ireland.