Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tapas with the folks :-)

One of my absolute favourite things about living back in Ireland is being able to see my parents whenever!! After 14 months back it's still a novelty being able to phone them and say "Call over for lunch"!! I love cooking for my parents, they love food as much as I do and I love getting their positive feedback on my dishes (something you don't get so much from kids eh?).

Yesterday I decided to do Tapas. I really love all these delicious little dishes and decided to try to recreate (without any recipes) some of my favourites.

Here's what I made...

Garlic and spinach prawns and scallops with black pudding in a garlic butter sauce.

"Patatas Bravas" and chorizo with char-grilled peppers in a spicy onion and tomato sauce.

Mushrooms and onions in a garlic and flour coating and a little dish of mixed olives and peppers (the stuffed peppers were from Aldi).

Serrano ham and lovely cheese and onion bread (from Supervalu)

Everything looked so lovely and colourful laid out on the table and I was really happy with how everything tasted.

I served all the tapas up in these cute dishes I got at TK Maxx.

It's a real treat to do a bit of cooking like this while the boys are at school, it gives me a chance to have a few hours to sit and really chat with my parents before I collect the boys who love coming home to find their Nana and Grandad there :-)

I'm hoping to try and make churros for dessert next time, this time there were cream cakes :-)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

More Le Creuset!! Again!!

I'm long overdue a Le Creuset update! I haven't been lucky enough to find any in the charity shops here at all (some hope!!) but Ireland's proximity to France has meant I have been able to pick up some bargain pieces from the French eBay site and have them shipped to me at very reasonable rates :-) So firstly here are my latest vintage additions...

I was super-excited to add this fabulous turquoise oval Enzo Mari designed "Mama" cocotte to my collection!! There are a few little chips on the handles but the interior is pristine!

Another Enzo Mari designed "Mama" this one is a brownish orange colour.

I have built up quite a collection of various sized "au gratin" dishes in oranges, browns and yellows so I was delighted to add these fab turquoise dishes to my collection :-)

Finally!!! I have been holding out for this fondue set FOREVER! The fondue pots themselves in orange and brown crop up on eBay occasionally but I really wanted this turquoise set and wanted it complete! I still can't believe I got this set for a buy it now price of EUR 30!! Complete with the forks and box and all!

This gorgeous deep blue 26cm oval casserole is in such pristine condition I am wondering if it may be one of the re-released range of "Heritage" dutch ovens, they retail at Williams and Sonoma for hundreds of dollars, I got this for 20 euro!

I got this from the same French seller as the turquoise Enzo Mari piece. 

And now for my brand new additions...

This gorgeous green bell pepper has been on my wishlist for ages too, it's not a vintage piece but has been discontinued making it quite hard to find. My patience finally paid off and I can't wait to use it!

I may have squealed aloud when Le Creuset finally released their gorgeous "Chiffon Pink" range here in Ireland! I knew straight away the lovely 27cm oval casserole and 26cm shallow buffet needed to be in my kitchen pronto!!

This 16cm casserole is from the new "Cool Mint" colour range, it's just gorgeous and a really cute size!

And finally, a gorgeous teal blue Bouillabaisse pot!

I have also added various bits and pieces of the Le Creuset stoneware range to my collection, but will save those for another post. Any other Le Creuset addicts out there? I would love to hear from you :-)

Monday, September 7, 2015

No Food Stylist

As you can see I am no food photographer/stylist. The instant I am served or have cooked a meal I just want to eat it. If something looks particularly nice I may occasionally (twice I think, one being the chowder in my previous post) take a snap with my phone but other than that when I have food in front of me I get stuck straight in!

The same can be said for my presentation skills, when my meals are ready I just like to heap them onto a plate and get going, case in point - this risotto...

I made this last week and if I do say so myself it was DELICIOUS! Really earthy and intense and mushroomy, exactly what I wanted. I had eaten the most amazing risotto ever one evening on our trip to Paris and had been having cravings ever since. I looked up lots of tips on how to get it just right and using dried porcini mushrooms in hot water, homemade stock from a soup I had made the day before, heaps of fresh mushrooms fried in truffle oil and some good Arborio rice, I got it just right!

So it may not be beautiful but it tasted pretty damn good and I just thought I'd share :-)

Don't worry I won't be sharing too many of my repulsive looking food photographs here in the future, I'll just continue to swoon over other people's work on all the foodie sites I love :-)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Goodbye Summer

My boys went back to school last week after an 8 week summer holiday. I'm always sad when the holidays end, they're such carefree times, no routine, freedom to do whatever we like, lazy mornings and fun outings. We did a lot this Summer, as well as our holiday in France, we spent 10 great days at my parents' house near the beach, took day trips to other counties such as Co. Down and Galway (still can't believe Galway is now only a 2 hour drive from Dublin on the motorway!), had fun at parks, playgrounds and beaches when the weather was good, did indoor stuff like museums, cinemas, bowling, play centres etc when it was raining, saw lots of our family, ate out, played, and generally had a lot of fun.

It all sounds so idyllic doesn't it? Well, keeping it real, there were mental days too of course, with the boys bickering and wrestling (I grew up with 2 sisters, boys are crazy!) and I must admit to enjoying a little bit of quiet in the house (even though I missed them) once they were settled back at school. It's amazing how quickly 8 weeks can pass when the days are full of the mischief and energy of 3 little boys.

I won't bore you with a million photos, I don't have the energy to go through them all even but here are a few little snaps from my phone...

S inspecting the displays at the Natural History Museum.

We love Malahide Castle, a great spot for a day out with kids, beautiful grounds, great playground and delicious food at the Avoca Café.

Buying ice-cream from the van at Bettystown Beach is one of my favourite childhood memories, now my boys do the same :-)

Making the most of the sunshine, the boys spent hours in the sea that day.

Really delicious seafood chowder at Nan's Café in Laytown.

Totally random photos, but then Summer holidays are totally random aren't they? That's what I love about them most :-)