Not being very clued in with dates, the first notice I received of the annual pancake flipping day was a display of bottles of squeezy lemon and pancake batter mixes at Morton’s in Ranelagh. Pancakes really are one of the easiest things to make so don’t bother with the mix – it’s normally nothing but flour anyway – buy a real lemon and whip up your own pancakes in minutes with some of the recipes on Greatfood.ie – try sweet pancakes, crêpes, savoury French Galettes or even some fluffy American Buttermilk Pancakes from Bakingsheet.
…unfortunately Bibliocook didn’t manage to make it through to the shortlisted stage of the 2007 Irish Blog Awards. However, some of my favourites did so best of luck to Beaut.ie, Sinéad Gleeson, One Breast Less, Conor O’Neill, The Waiting Game and Ice Cream Ireland on 11 March at the Alexander Hotel. You can see the full list here and a particularly big thank you to all who voted for Bibliocook!
…or perfect for any other time, should the mood take you!First, get your hands on a small round soft cheese called Vacherin Mont d’Or. It is a seasonal French or Swiss cheese, which means that you can only have this kind of meal between mid-September and March – like asparagus, it makes it all the nicer as a result. Preheat your oven to 200°C and take the cheese out of its little wooden box. Remove any waxed paper and sit it snugly back into the box. Tear off a sheet of tinfoil and scrunch the tinfoil around the box to make a nice nest so that nothing can flow out in the oven. Prick the top rind of the cheese with a fork and then, using a spoon, scoop enough of the rind sideways enough so that you can push a small bunch of thyme and a couple of cloves of garlic into the heart of the cheese.
Since returning from New Zealand we’ve been spending most weekends down at the cottage, the Boyfriend inventing new and more ingenious ways to catch the rabbits (score so far – Boyfriend: nil, rabbits: merrily increasing by the day) and me pottering around in the kitchen, baking cakes and slices to fill the tins. It’s a great opportunity to try out recipes that I’ve been hoarding away from other blogs and websites (does everyone else have a word document on their desktop which they update regularly with recipes that take their eye?) as well as working my way through the piles of cookbooks currently on my desk, including Bill Granger‘s latest, Cook with Jamie, the Rose Bakery cookbook, Sophie Conran‘s Pies and Cook by Thomasina Miers. Bakingsheet is a rich source of recipes and Nic’s Mexican Chocolate Loaf Cake, albeit without the orange rind and made in a round tin, was a successful gift for our hosts in Cobh last weekend even though I felt that my cinnamon was past its freshest date. A Maya Gold-flavoured variation of Thomasina Miers’s chocolate cake, baked in a Bundt cake tin from my NZ kitchen which I manage to cram into our luggage this time, was a success with one sister – who liked its fudgyness – and a failure with the other, for being too rich! Sometimes you just can’t win.
Thanks to Marco and Marcello, my hosts at the Italian School of Cooking, where I attended a class on pasta making last night. As well as learning how easy it is to make pasta without a machine – I was dead proud of my attempts at orecchiette! – I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, eating and drinking, meeting people and being serenaded over dinner by a very enthusiastic Marco. The school, which is centrally located in Rathmines, is definitely worth checking out. Time to pick up a bag of durum flour from the Italian shop in Ranelagh for some pasta-making experiments down at the cottage!
Although we may be back in Ireland, today we are celebrating Waitangi Day, a national holiday in New Zealand, with that ubiquitous Kiwi desert – the pavlova. After bemoaning the lack of pavlovas in Irish supermarkets, the Boyfriend went off to work this morning laden with boxes of meringue nests, tubs of cream, my hand whisk and one of the my pink bowls to assemble a selection of impromptu pavs for his workmates. Bron has an entertaining defence of the NZ claim to the pavlova here, along with many delectable pictures of her own fabulous Waitangi Day creation.
Boiled, Baked & Basted, the brilliant RTÉ Radio 1 programme that I mentioned in October, featuringchefs and cooks talking about their favourite cookbooks, sadly came to an end on 30 December. A simple but effective format – just the voice of the interviewee, interspersed by actors reading from cookbooks that they mentioned – made this essential listening for the cosy Saturday nights that we spent in the cottage. You can listen back to the whole 13-programme series on the all-new redesigned RTÉ.ie website here.