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.
Tagged: nigella lawson
A baked cheesecake is one of those dishes that I’ve been meaning to make for a long, long time. So, when I saw that it was the theme of Hey Hey it’s Donna Day #10, as hosted over on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, nothing was going to stop me from participating. I had also fully intended to get involved with HHDD #10, soufflés, as well but that kind of fell by the wayside when we had to start flat hunting in Dublin again. Spending your evenings getting frustrated with trying to find somewhere to live and the calmness necessary for soufflé cooking just don’t seem to go hand in hand.
Being a big fan of cranberries, I decided to turn some of the fresh ones currently in the shops into desert for our annual Christmas bookclub dinner last week. For the last few months I’ve been experimenting with Clotilde‘s versatile Gâteau au Yaourt or Yoghurt Cake, making different flavoured versions, including an All Spice Upside Down Plum Cake for dinner with my uncle, aunt and cousins in the cottage and, when the Boyfriend was hosting his Arabic class at our flat, a Middle Eastern-inspired Pine Nut, Orange and Rose Water Cake.
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!
The Tax Advisor had decided to have another bring-a-course dinner party and, because the Boyfriend and I have plenty of space in our current Dublin flat – as well as small but useful items such as cooking utensils, crockery, chairs and a table – I volunteered us as hosts. Although there were to be eight for dinner, we decided to avoid having as many courses as last time, and limited it to just an opener, mains plus salads, and deserts. There were still the usual “who’s cooking what ” emails doing the rounds and, only being just back from our travels, I decided to make something Moroccan.
One of the big advantages of being settled back in Dublin, with book shelves once again, is having all my old cookbooks to pore over and rediscover. Although I did manage to build up a fair collection in New Zealand, it couldn’t really compare to my beloved older stacks of books by Nigel Slater, Darina Allen, Tamasin Day-Lewis, Nigella Lawson and my ancient copies of the Paula Daly-written McDonnell’s Cook Books. The first and second books in this series, bought from saving up the tokens on Stork Margarine packets, were two of the first cookbooks owned by my mother.
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.
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.