Friday, March 25, 2011

Nasai Noms

Sorry my beauties, for my lack of dedication to blogging over the past while; life has become hectic and some of my favourite things have gone by the wayside: reading, exercise, and blogging. I did, however, manage to cook some seriously tasty grub. I am a huge fan of nasai goreng, but always assumed that since it is so delicious it must be really difficult to make. Also I suspect my subconscious mind must have been ticking away telling me that I shouldn't learn to make it or else I will never be able to justify getting it as a take away or eating out again. And how true that is, because now I know what a cinch it is I couldn't possibly justify eating it any way other than home made. It's total comfort food treat-y-ness and one to crack out when you need to give yourself a little foodhug.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fishy Friday

I bought some saffron recently, I was...amused by the price. Though, on Google-aided inspection, it may actually be worth more than its weight in gold. Some of these lofty claims flying around the internet are so ridiculous that they pretty much could lead you to believe that it is in fact a wonderdrug, if one were sufficiently gullible: fends off cancer and depression, enhances memory, combats insomnia - you get the picture, a true superhero. In the absence, however, of any actual scientific proof that it delivers such uber-duber-amazingness, I'll settle for the flavour. On this occasion, it loaned its tasty colourful beauty to a posh-sounding salmon and asparagus lasagne. See, there's a new Sophie in my life, courtesy of those cursed bargain bookshops that reel me in during moments of weakness. This is Sophie Grigson, and the book is The Vegetable Bible, an exhaustive compendium of veggies, just what the doctor ordered for my not-infrequent bouts of veggie-angst (lately, somehow, replaced by red meat-angst. Seriously, sometimes it is really hard being me). It breaks them down according to family - roots, fruits, etc - and then each veggie gets a wonderful biography, followed by some recipes. As soon as I spotted the salmon and asparagus lasagne I knew it had to get itself made and into my stomach sooner rather than later.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Porridge Topping Du Semaine

The wearing of the green was a bit of a week-long thing for me, as I got a lil bit festive with my brekkie and, not content with eating my morning oats from a green bowl, I got in another of the 40 shades with a good glug of apple juice. I've been reading about soaking oats in juice here and there, and the only reason I've avoided doing it up until now is that I have an aversion to fruit juices; stick to the real thing, I feel, as it is sugary enough as it is and shouldn't really comprise the greater part of your five-a-day - unless you're after the face-full-of-brown-teeth look. Things like juice tend to spend a bit of time hanging out in my fridge, hogging space while more popular ingredients come and go as they jostle for space and get used up very quickly. I was looking for something to complement some lovely fat sultanas, though, and this was just the job. A little calcium-anxiety kicked in, when I realised that milk would not feature in the basic equation, and so a blob of very indulgent yogurt on top made a more balanced start to the day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Begosh, Begorrah And A Big Beef Stew

Our national holiday was put in perspective in a whole new way for me by my big bro in NY, who mailed me with a bit of a rant about the horrors of being an Irish person in the US on March 17th. The drunk Irish jokes and fake accents put on by news anchors have worn rather thin for him at this stage, to the point where he finds it all offensive and racist. I was in NY for St Patrick's day a couple of years ago, and the drinking that was being done in the name of Irishness was, indeed, cringeworthy. In fact, the drunkenness that I witnessed in the city at 11am was above and beyond any homegrown disgracefulness that I've witnessed over the years. As someone who prefers to celebrate through the medium of food, I was thrilled skinny when Fi told me that the thing her two Japanese visitors were looking forward to on their visit to Ireland was...Irish stew! Now, while I object to countrywide Shaun Of The Dead-esque drunken displays, I do have to say that we produce alcohol that is worthy of celebration, which is why I thought that a beef and Guinness stew was the perfect way to show a little national pride. Since I'm up to my eyes at the moment, it was also rather convenient that it's a really low-maintenance dish, taken from the ultra-useable Café Leon cookbook, the source of some of my favourite hotpot-style dishes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It Sounds Like Catfood But It Tastes Like Amazing

Clearly I'm being a bit of a lapse-daisical Catholic with my Fishy Friday post on a Monday, but allow me to very quickly distract you: TUNA MEATBALLS. Ok - what's your reaction? It sounds like a variety of Whiskas, doesn't it? But here's the thing: they are delicious, refreshing, comforting, easy to make...what more could one want from a dinner, eh? I am inclined to think that they might be a good way to get some omegas into fish-haters, being, as they are, deceptively chunky and tomatoey and herby. Small children, in particular, could be duped into munching up their EFAs by leaving out the word 'tuna' that goes in there before the word 'meatballs', if a parent were so inclined - not that I'm saying you should lie to your children in order to get them to eat healthy things, mind. Anyhow, if you have to disclose to your butcher what you are using the tuna for when you buy it, prepare to be laughed at - that's what happened to me, anyhow. I just love me some fresh tuna, lightly seared on the pan with a dose of sesame seeds is absolutely delish, but it's worth spending a little bit more time with your tuna to make these meatballs. It also makes your tuna go a little further, a bonus for the budget-conscious among us. Eating it all chunked up in meatballs gives a whole new perspective on the fish, in terms of both flavour and texture. This one is courtesy of Jamie's Italy, a loving celebration of the simplicity of Italian cooking - as ever, JO's enthusiasm really fires up the book, he clearly very genuinely fell for the country and its people. Though it's hard not to, it's one of my favourite places to visit, and the simplest food can taste just incredible there. The sunshine, of course, could be a factor there. Er, yeah, ok, there's usually a glass/bottle of something involved as well.

Friday, March 11, 2011


It's Friday, I have tons to do, I'll be slaving away for the weekend and, in fact, weeks to come. This means that my spending will be curtailed. I was a very good girl and went to the pool and spinning class this afternoon, ignoring all of the excuses that sprang up left, right and centre in the hours preceding my sportiness. Can you see what I'm doing here? Yes, you smarties! I am justifying something! Today it is the spending of money, some of which involved cake.

Porridge Topping Du Semaine

Passion fruit are probably up there with figs on the whole bad pun potential end of things. But I have more respect for you and, indeed, myself than to yak on about putting a bit of passion into your brekkie. I'll just give you a succinct rundown on the concoction that I put on my porridge this week. I was dubious as to the nutritional qualities of the fruit - look at them, sure what are they really other than a gathering of seeds in some brightly-coloured gloopy gunk? In fact, there is quite a lot of virtue packed within the walls of that smooth brown rind. Apparently, according to the tinternet anyhow, passion fruit are full of vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. So judge ye not. They're not the cheapest - I bought four for €3 in Superquinn - but I guess it all depends on the serving size that you go for. It goes without saying that cracked into a serving of all four at once, but guessing that I'm in an extremely greedy minority I would suggest that half of that is sufficient to top an average-sized bowl of porridge.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

All Rise

Bread: it gets a bad rap. Like - everyone loves it. But it's the very first thing you'll be told to cut out  if you want to skinny up. Lets not even get started on that Dr Atkins and his hideous diet. And yeast is a bit of dirty word in the world of flat stomachs. Plus, it's hard not to load it up with lumps of butter and sweet, sugary jam. So, on a scale of Nigella Lawson to Gillian McKeith, it's not exactly mung bean soup. There was no white bread in my house when I was growing up, our parents would only buy brown, so I was extremely envious of all the kids with their white bread sandwiches, it always looked so springy and pillowy soft. Then I went to boarding school, and bread was one of the few edible offerings on the menu there. When I was in college I don't remember it being a prominent part of my diet to any great extent, maybe because it was just around when wraps were becoming popular. I do, however, remember a particular phase of not eating a whole lot at all and being dangerously obsessed with getting by on as little as possible. Thankfully I somehow eased out of that behaviour, and really and truly fell in love with food. Bread was never high up on my agenda until recently, when I got really stuck into exercise and my body started craving sugar more than it had before. I had to get out of my bold biccie-eating behaviour and plugged the gap with carbs instead. No better time to get making my own bread. And where was my first port of call for a recipe? Why the lady I love to rant about right before I use a load of recipes of course, Sophie Dahl!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Smile, Though Your Taco Is Breaking

You know the way some people have religious food apparitions, like they see Jesuses in their toast? Well, I see smiles in my tacos. Except it's not an apparition - they are totally there!!! Would you look at it, grinning away in all its cholesterol-raising enticingness, ready to shatter the second your teeth touch it. And that smell? That, my friends, is eau de Sunday night; it's a melty, cheesy, spicy scent, with top notes of squidgyness, middle notes of inelegant messiness and base notes of one-last-bold-meal-before-the-weekend-is-over. Tacos are really a way of making nachos into a legitimate meal. Nowt wrong with that, I say. It is, in fact, to be embraced. I do love a good tex-mex mash-up; it's all very DIY, dive right in, leave your table manners at the door-type food. I do, however, realise that Mexican cuisine has been hijacked by people like the folks at Old El Paso, and that my understanding of it is incredibly limited, which is why Thomasina Miers' Mexican Food Made Simple is on my increasingly lengthy cookbook wishlist. At least I have the decency to avoid packets of suspicious powdered substances that claim to spice things up authentically - the ingredients lists on those things give me the heebie jeebies. In fairness, since I was having Mr and Mrs Newlywed over for a Sunday night nosh-up, I could hardly go opening packets and sprinkling things with numbers in them on their food, now could I? Only the freshest would do.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fishy Friday

The thing I don't get about the way that people, in general, don't eat enough fish, is that recipes for fish dishes are generally incredibly simple. Obviously there are many lovely easy peasy things to create in the kitchen, but I personally think that fish is one foodstuff in particular where minimal input on the ingredients and effort front yields disproportionately high levels of tastiness. For the most part I tend to pop a little something on top, bung it in the oven for about ten minutes and then tuck in. A creature of many well-entrenched habits, most of them fattening, I tend to revert, with coma-inducing frequency, to my old reliable tomatoes and olives swirled around in a bit of pesto topping. But this blog would end quite abruptly if I were to trundle along in my boring old ways without giving something new a go every now and then. On the trawl for something speedy and fishy that I could bung very quickly in the oven on a hungry Friday evening after catching a movie at the Dublin Film Festival, I reached for my Tom Doorley book, Grow And Cook, and instantly happened on the perfect fish and side-veggie recipes for my needs - and, to add to the virtue of it all, perfectly within season in the February chapter. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Beyond The Sea

On a constant quest for high levels of nutritiousness in my food (if only so I can justify stuffing my face with treats), I'll try anything once. I notice that lately I have been sharing my more unhealthy exploits, like choccie ice-cream pie (you may as well just tape it to your ass and be done with it), maple syrup-laced banana mush for porridge (a sort of fake tan for teeth, in that if you eat enough of it they'll turn a highly unnatural shade of brown), a greens-free zone of refined carbohydrates and animal protein (no, the two sticks of celery do not count, particularly since they turn orange on contact with the chorizo), and additive-laden mince-based comfort food (mama nature does not create foodstuffs in that shade of red). I feel as though I'm leading you all down a path of blocked arteries and bloated body parts, so I reckon an act of responsible blogging is in order - and who better to make virtue taste attractive and enticing than the veggie bods at Cornucopia. Flicking through the salads section of the Cornucopia cookbook, I was looking for something I hadn't tried before, and when I saw the word seaweed I pounced. Well, it was 'sea vegetable', but I was translating the words into buzzy super-healthy lingo in my head - so, 'Japanese-style rice' turned into 'tasty without fattyness', and 'marinated tofu' jumped out at me as 'lean yet substantial'. So, basically a flavoursome, filling and highly nutritious work of wonder, then.