Look at these, just waiting for something nice to be cooked in them! This Le Creuset set has to be one of the coolest wedding presents that you could ever get – very appropriate for this time of the year too. I have to say, though, that there’s not going to be any cooking, romantic or otherwise, done around here this weekend as we’re off in Baltimore, staying at Rolf’s for a couple of nights while doing a two-day gardening course in the Glebe Gardens. Having visited the gardens while on honeymoon in the area in 2007, I fell in love with their potager-style layout, vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit all mixed in together. I’m hoping to get lots of inspiration from these two days!
Sometimes you start with one particular recipe and end up going off on a slightly different tangent. That’s what happened with these Chocolate Hazelnut Squares. After a comment by Sarah on my Lemon Traybake, I wandered over to Val’s Kitchen and took a look at the Hazelnut Caramel Slice that she made from a Rachel Allen recipe, dug out the book and started baking.
If you’re anywhere in the Mallow area this coming Saturday, 5 April, you can catch the first Mallow Farmers’ Market in the wee courtyard outside URRU – the culinary store, deli and café where I work – from 10.30am to 1pm. Stalls that will be there include my favourite Fermoy Natural Cheeses, smoked fish from Geraldine Bass’ Old Millbank Smokehouse and herbs from West Cork’s Gairdín Eden, which supply the fantastic salad leaves that we sell in URRU. Hopefully the weather will stay fine!
When the weather is good no one wants to spend time in the kitchen and, when the Boyfriend arrived home from the supermarket the other day with a large box of button mushrooms, I didn’t much feel like frying them or using them in an omelette strognoff or making a mushroom stroganoff or risotto or any one of the thousand and one things I use mushrooms for. I normally prefer the meatier, large flat Portobello mushrooms but, after spending the weeks in Morocco poring over Claudia Roden’s salad recipes in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, I had an idea for these styrofoam buttons.
Bread is very important to me. I love it fresh, I love it stale and ready for toasting, l love it with cheese, I love it in particular – fresh or toasted – with good salty butter. I love the way it mops up your plate after you’ve had a particularly tasty tomato pasta dish. I love the yeasty smell from the breadmaker as it cooks yet another loaf of homemade bread. I love making my own Brown Soda Bread and, most importantly, eating it. In short, I can’t fathom a life without bread. That was why it was so important, after I moved to Christchurch – before the coming of the breadmaker – to find a local source of decent bread. The only time I ever use slice pan or a sliced loaf from the supermarket is when I’m temping and need something quick and easy to make my sandwiches for lunch. But it’s not something that I’d chose as part of my normal daily life.