Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Turkey Mince Bolognaise with Tagliatelle

Sometimes, when you have a sweet tooth like mine, finding healthy dishes to get excited about can be a bit of a challenge. But I have said it before and will say it again, healthy doesn’t need to mean boring and tasteless. Finding healthier versions of old favourites can be a fun and interesting way of developing recipes that you can really come to love. From time to time, a health kick is needed in life and having a dinner menu filled with healthy options that sound delicious is a must in order to keep you interested.

Today’s recipe is an alternative twist on a classic. As you may well know I am quite the fan of turkey mince and make Turkey Burgers all the time. Turkey mince is exceptionally lean meat, packed with protein and low in saturated fats but more importantly it is really tasty and flavoursome. It can put a fresh spin on a classic dish by simply substituting this healthy alternative instead of a mince or pork. This evening, that’s exactly what I decided to do and the result was surprisingly tasty.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Freddo Caramel Bar Birthday Cake

After a fun filled weekend of culture, chocolate and waffles in Brussels, it was time to settle down into the grips of reality again this morning, at least temporarily. A short week is always a welcome thought, and the idea of Friday fun being a little closer than usual is a welcome distraction. A European break is a great way to get inspired about food and drink, and provoke ideas and thinking that can be brought back to my petite Dublin kitchen. This week I have lots of ideas and musings from the weekend that I am looking forward to exploring, but the age old problem of so much to make so little time is tying me down. Tonight, however I thought I would share with you, a colourful creation that I put together on Wednesday night before I set off on my Belgian adventures. This cake was a very specific request from non other than a hard-core Caramel Freddo fan. I really enjoyed making this cake, and think it's bright, fun and funky. Who doesn't love a friendly Freddo face, right? This cake is just as exciting inside as out and is made up of two Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra Cakes, sandwiched together with a deliciously smooth Chocolate and Orange buttercream frosting. Feeling hungry?

For the Cake:
I needed to make two Crouching Tiger Hidden Zebra Cakes for this creation to give it enough height. The Zebra cake itself is quite a flat cake, so when levelled and sandwiched together the two cakes came to just over 3 inches in height.

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. 

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