Sunday, 13 April 2014

Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra Cake

I have had an amazing weekend, kicking it all off with a wonderful wedding on Friday and just baking, relaxing and reading all day yesterday and today. Sometimes the ultimate weekend can be having free time to get to do the things you have been dreaming about all week whilst in work. Yesterday I got a request for a very specific type of birthday cake. I had never heard of it before but always up for the challenge, scoured the internet and found the famous 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra Cake'. This recipe is originally a Lorraine Pascale recipe, and after reading and researching last night was eager to get up this morning and give it a whirl (pun very much intended). The cake itself is an orange and chocolate flavoured cake, and boasts a fantastic zebra print core which is really striking. I had fun making it, and was really surprised at how a simple method could yield such beautiful results.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Dobbins Restaurant Dublin Review

A birthday is a special day and always calls for a celebration, well in my case anyway. What better way to celebrate your birthday than surrounded by your family eating incredible food, right? Well that was exactly what I did at the weekend and boy was I more than delighted with my dining choice for the occasion. Dobbins is a very well established, much loved and talked about restaurant on the south side of Dublin city, tucked away neatly between upper and lower Mount Street on Stephen's Lane in Dublin 2. Given that I wanted to be hungry enough to happily work my way through three courses with ease, I opted to book a table for Sunday Lunch. I love a good Sunday Lunch, and Dobbins did not disappoint. 

From the moment we walked in the door we were greeted with warmth and enthusiasm by the hostess who promptly took our rain soaked coats and umbrellas. We were ushered through the attractive restaurant which comprised of a combination of elegantly arranged tables to the centre of the restaurant and cosy booths to the side. We were steered towards a booth, which was the perfect size for our party of four. White table cloths are always a nice touch, for me a white table cloth is usually a good indication that something delicious is on it's way. The table was set beautifully and the restaurant had a inviting ambience. As the room began to fill with equally hungry diners, there was a fantastic hum of happy chatter, but all the while the room felt open and spacious.

The Sunday Lunch Menu was excellently presented and priced at €26 for 3 courses (including tea or coffee).  I can honestly say I was hard pushed to choose between the wide array of mouth watering dishes on offer. From crab to goats cheese, salmon to ham hock and fois gras terrine there really was a choice for every palate, and that was just to start. 

The service was exceptional throughout our dining experience. Our drinks order was taken without hesitation, our wine and water continuously topped up throughout the meal, and our plates cleared promptly after finishing each course, without the uncomfortable feeling of the waiting staff hovering.

As I have a nut allergy, eating out can be challenging at times, however the staff were eager to assist and were prepared, highlighting which dishes were appropriate or could be amended to facilitate my needs. This is always such a bonus when out for a special occasion, I felt assured that my nut allergy was being taken seriously but at ease that it wasn't an inconvenience for the restaurant (which can often be the case). 

Friday, 4 April 2014

Microplane Review & Other Handy Gadgets

At this stage I'm pretty sure you're aware, that my kitchen is my haven, my go to place, my centre of stress relief and my hide out. It's most definitely the most important room in my home and if I had my way, where I would spend all of my time. Unfortunately however, sometimes this little thing called reality gets in my way (how inconvenient) and causes me to have to work outside of my kitchen (i.e. at my real job), clean up and face the numerous tasks that being a grown up entails (yawn). Pretty horrific I know, but this just means that when I do get a good run at being in my kitchen, that it is of the  utmost  importance that it is filled, not only with incredibly tasty ingredients and creations but also nifty and fun tools and gadgets that help me along the way. I have always been a sucker for anything that is up for grabs in a kitchen or baking shop, and I am honestly a sucker for anything I think might help me out or be useful (and being honest maybe just things that look cool?!). 

After Christmas and the wedding I have had a few new very welcome additions to my kitchen which are worth a mention. All of these tools live in an exceptional and extraordinary place that is essential in every kitchen.....that's right, the second drawer. I am not entirely sure if the second drawer phenomenon is uniquely an Irish thing? Maybe it goes on internationally, by all means feels free to let me know. Ah the second drawer, just below the all important first drawer which holds your cutlery/eating utensils and what not. It is fair to say that absolutely anything could be found in the second drawer. Ranging from sellotape, markers, corkscrew, a garlic press, or maybe even strange tools from IKEA (you can't really remember what they're for but you know you need them). The length and depth of this drawer knows no bounds, and no matter how hard you may try to keep it neat and tidy, things ALWAYS get lost in it, always.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Black & Ivory Wedding Cake Wonder

So although it's nearly 3 months since the deed was done, I'm still very much living in the bubble of marital bliss, reminiscing on our amazing day and all the amazing memories we managed to make. Sappy as it may be, your wedding day is pretty fantastic on the scale of amazing things in life and although Molly and I are well and truly back in the grips of reality, we are still in that stage where our wedding is catching up with us. Between the arrival of our photos and wedding album from the photographer, to the video capturing moments with 'rare never before seen footage' of the big day, it all still seems very fresh and new. That said when I look at pictures of this cake it seems like a lifetime ago. My Mom and I were working hard core to get this done literally hours before the wedding. 
They said it couldn't be done, they said I was mad. 'Twill be grand I said'. 
Making your own wedding cake can be rewarding but challenging at the same time. I suppose in theory and early on it seems like a pretty wonderful idea. For me the thought of being in control is always attractive given my OCD tendencies and love of organisation, but when the reality sets in that you actually have to make a five tier cake in your two final days before sailing off into the clouds of marital bliss, it can be, dare I say it.....a little stressful. Organisation, perseverance and determination definitely helped, along with a level headed, calm, cool and collected side kick in the form of my wonderful mother. The cake was baked, iced and pimped before you could say 'Teatime'. Do I regret the decision of making my own wedding cake? Absolutely not. Was I fully prepared for what it entailed? Probably not. That said, when you are a little bit of a cake making fanatic like myself, looking at your creation with pride on such an important and memorable day is a pretty uplifting and special feeling. 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

New Home Mini Cake

Today has been one of those days where I woke up tired, and continued to feel tired all day. Thanks God it's Sunday! I'd like to pretend I'm a ray of sunshine all the time but alas I am not! And days like today remind me of that. When I got home from a busy day of brunching and lunching, I was flicking through my camera of some shots I've taken recently, and seeing a picture of this mini-cake I made just last week, definitely cheered and perked me up somewhat. I got a sudden spurt of creative energy and blog post to share! If only that energy lasted long enough to get the numerous other things I need to do around the house done!

Miniature Rainbow Cake

125g softened butter
180g Self-Raising Flour
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 lemon (zest and juice)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

St.Patricks Day Mini Loaves

It's that time of year again where everyone worldwide celebrates being Irish (even if they're not all that Irish)! The whole weekend has just had a feel good feeling and from Friday afternoon everyone just seems to have a happy go lucky glow about them! Luckily enough in Ireland Paddy's weekend means an extra long weekend, a day off work and a legitimate excuse for having a few too many drinks on a Sunday evening....Happy Days! 

I'm spending the weekend away from my beloved husband (a few days apart is good for the heart!) and have headed to the country to visit my parents for the long weekend. This morning I was all inspired and excited to make something green and celebratory given the weekend that's in it, and rustled together a few mini chocolate and lime loaves in my native green teamed with a hint of chocolate. These went down well with my Dad this morning with an aul cup of tea.....It doesn't get much more Irish than that!

Lime & Chocolate Mini Loaves

125g softened butter
180g Self-Raising Flour
150g sugar
2 eggs
1 lime (zest and juice)
2 tsp cocoa powder
Green food colouring.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Baby Girl Christening Cake

I had a request during the week from a family member to make a classic Christening cake for a family friend. Given that I haven't made any kind of cake since my own wedding cake back in January, I was up for the challenge and happy to have an excuse to dust off my cake making tools. I've been really out of routine the last couple of weeks and this has been my first proper opportunity to get in my kitchen to make something creative. This cake comprises of two layers, a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and the bottom layer is a rich chocolate cake with chocolate fudge frosting. The decoration was kept simple using ivory fondant along with various shades of pink. Polka dots, bows and baby blocks helped put the finishing touches to this edible creation.

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