Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's here.....

Lots of happy dancing here today ....

Look what arrived by courier this morning ...

Cannot wait to use it!
So why am I on the net then....... ??? Cos I had to tell the world about my new arrival! Insert proud new kitchen appliance Momma moment here!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dining out in November

November saw a nice bit of dining out for me, first off myself and 4 of the lovely ladies I work with took ourselves off to The Old Convent in Clogheen for a night of fine dining, chat and craic.

Here's "the Girls" Kate, Mary, Phil & Sheila.

Dermot's food as usual was superlative and I was so glad that the girls enjoyed it as it was their first visit to The Old Convent. I adored the the course that started our meal - Ummera Smoked Duck Breast with Parmesan toast, and High Bank Orchard Apple Syrup. (So much so that I tracked down said syrup once I got home, managed to get it at the local farmer's market here in Tralee. Superb stuff!) The ladies and I are planning our return visit for 2012!

 Dermot's second dessert - chocolate heaven!

Then Billy and I went to the Tom Doorley event at The Brehon in Killarney, a lovely night where we were regaled with some fun and informative wine related anecdotes by Tom, while sampling the lovely food offered by Danú restaurant at The Brehon. The main was lovely lamb wellington, with roasted shallot, potato fondant, broad beans and a wine jus.
The night was unbelievable value at €45 per person and that included an amuse bouche, a starter, a veloute, the mains, a goats cheese panacotta and then a deliciously chocolately dessert and petit fours and tea/coffee and 3 very generous glasses of wine and a glass of port.Amazing value!

The following night we were off to Killarney again, this time to Treyvaud's restaurant for their annual game night, we were looking forward to this and trying a few new tastes. The Santa-esque gent here in Mr Treyvaud Senior who comes out of retirement for this event every year. The buffet table was laden down with all types of terrines, pates, sausages, salamis, salads etc, and it was from this we helped ourselves to the starter.
Then we had a Wild game consomme.
From the menu for mains Billy chose Roast Breast of Pigeon and I went with the Pheasant, loved my pheasant, Billy's pigeon I could live without but he ate it happily.
The meal ended with Xmas pud with a divine Brandy sauce.
The cost of this was a very reasonable €50 per person.
I saw somewhere that they also do a seafood night, will be checking that out in 2012!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Parmesan Tartlets with Red Onion Marmalade

These little tartlets are lovely as a starter or a light lunch and the accompanying red onion marmalade is gorgeous and keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge. It would make a great addition to a hamper of homemade goodies for Christmas.

The original recipe is by Jenny Bristow and appeared in the Irish Independent supplement Weekend one Saturday and was promptly torn out and has been used many times

Here's what you'll need: This makes 6 tartlets.

For the pastry
225g flour, sieved
125g butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 dessert spoons cold water

For the filling
25g butter
½ small onion, finely sliced
Small bunch watercress, lightly steamed - Now I do find it difficult to get watercress but I get mixed salad bags that have watercress, baby spinach and rocket in them and I use that mix.
3 eggs, lightly beaten
275ml double cream
110g Parmesan
½ tsp paprika

Red onion marmalade
25g butter
2 red onions, finely sliced
3-4 dessertspoons water
4 dessertspoons red-wine vinegar
50g soft brown sugar
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Here's what you'll need to do:
Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan/190 degrees regular oven.

Place the ingredients for the tartlets in a food processor and whiz until they bind together to form a soft dough or you can do it by hand - rub the butter into the pastry till it resembles breadcrumbs, add in the egg and a little of the water so that a dough forms.. Roll out the pastry, then, using a pastry cutter, cut it into six rounds of approximately 5in in diameter. This of course depends on your tartlet tins size, so you're as well to put your tin down and cut around giving it about an inch extra all round.

Line individual, lightly greased moulds or tins with the pastry and lightly prick each base with a fork. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and cover with a layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of ceramic baking beans to prevent the pastry cases rising in the centre. Bake in the oven at 190°C/Gas Mark 5 for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the baking beans and the paper and set to one side to cool.

Tip: If you haven't got baking beans you can always use some rice, lentils or dried beans in their stead. When you're done pop them into a clean jar and keep them for further use in blind baking.

For the filling, melt the butter in a small pan. Add the onion and cook lightly for one minute. Add the watercress and remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool.

Beat together the eggs and cream, then mix in the Parmesan, paprika, onion and watercress. Pour the mixture into the pastry shells and bake in the oven at 160° fan/180° regular for approximately 25 minutes until the tarts are golden and firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, make the red onion marmalade.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions, water, vinegar and sugar. Cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced and the onions have softened. Season to taste and set to one side to cool slightly.
Remove the tartlets from the moulds.
Serve warm or cold, with a little red onion marmalade.

In other news I am anxiously waiting on the delivery of my new baby - this fabby kitchenaid - should have it this week and I can't wait! It's colour is Boysenberry and ain't it so CUTE!!!

AND.... I won,( hip hip! Jump up and down excitedly!!!) a lovely slate cheeseboard and knife from Slated Ireland courtesy of the lovely Mona Wise's blog giveaway. Mona's blog is great, I've laughed and cried in equal measure while reading it, always a sign of a good story that it will invoke emotions like these.Mona is in the process of writing a book which will be out next year, there will be stories from Mona, recipes from her chef husband and I'm sure a few pics of their delightful children. Mona has the right philosophy - "she writes, he cooks and they all eat it"!
Many thanks to Mona & Slated!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chocolate Truffles

These babies are seriously divine, they're easy to make, you don't need to scour the shops for any special ingredients or equipment (which is the absolute bane of my cooking life!!!), they look impressive to serve up to your friends and family after a meal or to give as a gift wrapped in some simple cellophane and tied with a pretty ribbon or a nice little box lined with tissue paper or a pretty paper napkin.

Ok there has to be bad news, per truffle we're talking serious calories and for anyone doing Weightwatchers (like moi) they work out at 3 whole propoints each - eek!!! Nonetheless .....they are worth it!! Hehe!!!

A tip : The ones coated in cocoa powder wold be very slightly less calorific than the vermicelli coated truffles!

The following recipe makes about 21 truffles, yes, yes I am painfully aware there are 18 on the plate in the picture above - I gave himself ONE and shur I had to make sure they tasted okay myself! If one didn't taste the mixture as it was cooling etc one might have got 24 truffles

Here's what you'll need:

120mls cream
30g icing sugar
100g Dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids broken into small pieces
50g Milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
25g butter
30 mls Baileys Irish Cream or other liqueur of your choice (Tia Maria, Creme de Menthe, Cherry Brandy, Malibu, whatever floats your boat!)
Chocolate vermicelli and cocoa powder for rolling the finished truffles in.

Re the chocolate - I do a mix of dark and milk chocolate, but if you prefer use all dark, 'tis up to you!

Here's what you'll need to do:

Put the cream and icing sugar in a saucepan and gently heat, do not let it come to a boil!
Take off the heat.
Put the chocolates in a bowl, pour the hot cream/icing sugar mix over it.
Stir well until the chocolate is melted.
Add the Baileys or liqueur of choice, stir well.

Cover and put in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours until set.

Use a teaspoon scoop out amounts of the mixture similar in size to a Ferrero Rocher, roll into balls with your hands.

A tip: Try to have your hands cold for this part and the kitchen ideally wouldn't be meltingly warm either!

Have a couple of plates ready with chocolate vermicelli and cocoa powder and roll the truffles in these as desired.

If liked you could dip them in some melted and cooled chocolate instead.

These will keep in a container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Next time I'm going to try some White Chocolate and Limoncello Truffles so watch this space!