Happy Valentine’s Day! Be you romantic or not, there’s just no way of avoiding it. But you can make it easier on yourself. After hearing too many tales of horrendous evenings in restaurants from my waitress sister, I’ve always avoided restaurants on Valentine’s Night in favour of preparing something at home. I’m working all day today so there’s not going to be time to prepare any three course meals when I come home tonight – but I’ve got something even better.
Tagged: new zealand
Sunday was family dinner day. One of the advantages of living in the countryside in North Cork is getting to spend more time with my family – and getting to try out lots of new recipes on them! This time round I decided to go with something very simple – Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lemon. “That doesn’t sound like you at all,” the Little Sister said suspiciously when I was talking to her on the phone that morning. “What’s the catch?” The last time she was around we were talking about serving her rabbit from the back garden so her reserve wasn’t entirely unwarranted, although unnecessary on this occasion. A good chicken needs no disguising. I just pushed some lemon thyme under the skin on the breast, tucked a few cloves of garlic and half a lemon inside the cavity and landed it in the oven, serving it with roasted carrots and peppers (livened up with a few chillies) and potatoes. There was supposed to be a side dish of Buttered Leeks as well – our leeks, grown from a bundle of seedlings that a friendly neighbour left on the doorstep last summer, flourished in the garden all winter – but, between breakfast in bed and flat tyres we forgot to pull them.
A quote from one of satisfied customer’s at Denis Cotter’s Guerrilla Gourmet evening, when he cooked a vegetarian meal for adamant beef-eaters at Bandon Mart. Watch the whole programme and access recipes online at the RTÉ Guerrilla Gourmet website – note: the programmes are only available for 21 days after broadcast.Read a short review of Denis Cotter’s beautifully realised Wild Garlic, Gooseberries…and Me here, as well as an older cookbook and Café Paradiso review.
If you’re in New Zealand at the moment, you’re probably celebrating Waitangi Day on the beach or with a picnic. You could do something similar in Ireland but you wouldn’t last long on a wind- and rain-swept beach and picnics really need to be at home in front of the fire! This wintery weather lends itself very much to warming soups so, after chancing on some lovely sweet potatoes in Fermoy’s last remaining veg shop, I decided that it was time to make Meg’s Spicy Lentil and Kumara Soup – kumara is a Maori sweet potato that we eat a lot of when we are in New Zealand but can’t get in Ireland. The sweet potatoes that I picked up weren’t a bad substitute, though, I’ll definitely be back to get some more to make more kumara recipes. Now, time to make some Anzac Biscuits for a real Kiwi treat – although I guess I should really be making a Pavalova!
Congratulations to all those who are on the longlist for the Best Food and Wine Blog 2008 – it’s great to see so many old favourites there, including Val’s Kitchen, Italian Foodies, Ice Cream Ireland, Martin Dwyer, The Humble Housewife and Eat Drink Live. There are also plenty of new blogs, reminding me that it’s definitely time to do some work on my blog roll!
Don’t forget Pancake Tuesday tomorrow! I’m looking forward to trying out a new product from Sowan’s Organics – two organic pancake mixes, one with unbleached white flour and a spelt variation, which I’m particularly interested in. Both come fortified with organic vanilla, a great addition to savoury dishes – when I’m making Nic‘s Buttermilk Pancakes, I flavour them with some vanilla extract before adding the crispy bacon and maple syrup. If you have to buy a mix, best stick with something organic but, if you’re interested in making your own pancakes, you’ll find my standard recipe here with a useful dish for Pancake Tuesday – Ricotta and Spinach Pancake Bake. For more ideas check out Greatfood.ie‘s pancake special.
I was recently asked whether baking – particularly bread making – in Ireland is undergoing a recent resurgence or is it on the way out? Are people too busy/too tired to cook, never mind bake, for themselves? Judging by the amount of people that bake and blog about it, it doesn’t look like it! What do you think?