Thursday, 28 January 2010

Plane food

Last night I went to see the film Up in the Air and it reminded me of all the awful things about spending a lot of your time on planes for work. One of the worst things always is the food and when you are stuck on long flight bored senseless its really the only thing you look forward to (especially if you fly with Virgin, although unlike the writer of this complaint Ive always found their food the best of a bad lot)

Im off to New York at the weekend and it looks like the airline only serves food at a cost and there is no way on earth Im paying for plane food. As a result all week Ive been trying to think of a few things to bring onboard (that wont be stopped by security), that I could make on a busy work night. After scanning through my bookmarked recipes I came across Carolines Leek and Cashel Blue Crustless quiche. With a little bit of modification (for the leftovers in my fridge) I made the following:

Ham and mushroom crustless quiche
  • 4 rashers
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 50 cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • Milk - 300mls
  • Cream - 75mls 
  • Self raising flour - 125g 
  • Salt, pepper
A 9.5 inch/24 cm frying pan or quiche tin.
Heat the oven to 190C/180 Fan

Cut the rashers into small pieces and fry up on a highish heat until crispy. Chop the mushrooms up and fry in batches on a high heat.

Whisk the eggs, cheese, milk and cream together. Add the rashers, mushrooms, self raising flour and season well (if youre not sure then fry a little bit to taste). Pour straight into the hot quiche dish/frying pan and cook for 35-40 minutes until brown, well risen and firm to the touch.

Im also bringing some homemade Fougasse and going to pop over to the lovely chicken man from Poulet Bonne Femme tomorrow to get myself a chicken to bring on board. If you hear of a lady being arrested at Dublin airport for not surrendering her chicken at the weekend, that will be me. 

Sunday, 24 January 2010

3 very fantastic things

Its all very busy around here these days but I had three fantastic things to say so before I forget:
  1. The Clarence Tea Rooms have a great offer on at the moment of €29 for 3 courses. This is not a between 6:15 and 6:17pm kind of offer, its after 7pm and from what I can tell every day. I was there on Friday for dinner with a bunch of friends and they had jazz playing. Very civilized and very tasty. In case anyone is interested I chose the scallops (next time Id take the oysters), the cod with parmesan and herb crust and because Im a complete sucker for chocolate the chocolate fondant. I mention it here only because the taxi driver on the way in was so surprised that he wanted to come as my date and because it was fantastic value
  2. Fresh yeast - you can buy it from the lovely bakers in Superquinn. It took me months to get around to asking for this but now that I have there is no shortage of great bread in my house (and yes I do think its much nicer than the dried stuff)
  3. New York Restaurant Week starts tomorrow and Im going to be there for a few days. So very excited I dont even know where to start with looking at booking a table! Recommendations?
Update (25/5/10) - Very disappointed with Superquinn who now inform me that they will only sell yeast in quantities of 1kg 500g 250g (reduced twice after some emails to their customer support) after being able to purchase it in some of their stores in much smaller quantities for months now. 

Monday, 4 January 2010

Leftover Irish breakfast pasta al forno

This is about as un-italian and non-gourmet as you get when it comes to pasta dishes but when the paths are very icy and your neighbour cant even manage to get his car out of the drive (nevermind down the road) its good to use up what you have rather than venture to the supermarket. I also find that theres something about a baked dinner that is so much more satisfying when its freezing outside. Its always worth having some pasta, a tin of tomatoes and a few rashers in the house for this!

Ingredients (should serve 2 hungry people after a long trek home through the snow):
  • 180g dried pasta such as penne or shells but tortellini will work equally well
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes (I always go with whole tomatoes and stick a knife in to chop them in the tin as the chopped ones often seem quite scrappy)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • a pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 2 dessertspoons cream (optional)
  • parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 3 rashers
  • 2 breakfast sausages
  • some chopped thyme and rosemary if you have it

Preheat your oven to 200C or 180 if you have a fan oven.

Boil up a big pot of water for your pasta and add some salt. Put the pasta on to boil.

Chop the bacon and push the sausagemeat out of the sausages into little balls. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the bacon and sausagemeat. Fry for a few minutes and then add the tin of tomatoes. Immediately add the sugar, some salt, pepper, chilli, cream and chopped herbs if you have them. Simmer away until the pasta is cooked

Drain the pasta and put in a gratin dish. Pour the sauce over and grate a thin (or heavy) covering of parmesan over before putting in the oven.

Wash your dishes and keep an eye on the oven, it shouldnt take any longer than 10-15 minutes for the cheese to be melty, crispy and the sauce to be bubbly. Take out and eat.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

2009, the year that was

A review of a year where I gave up posting in August? Why not? Maybe it will help explain the lack of white noise from these parts.

I resolve to come here more often in 2010, to remind myself to cook new things more often and to eat in some of the places Ive been dying to eat for years (el bulli is open for reservations if
anyone wants someone to come with them)

Some of my food related highlights of 2009:

  • Travel, lots of it - Barcelona (mmmm the hot chocolate), Paris (pastries!), India (amazing street food), New York (pizza), Munich and Berlin for the gluhwein at Christmas
  • Living in Granada and eating tapas on an almost daily basis in the lovely Bodega Casteneda
  • Travelling around Spain and eating fresh fish and the most amazing tapas and wishing I could learn enough Spanish to move to Cadiz
  • 3 months in Ballymaloe cookery school which sometimes feels like it was a dream until I decide to make croissants for breakfast or whip up bearnaise to go with my steak
  • Steak! I didnt even eat steak this time last year. Lamb,Pork, Chicken livers - all new!
  • Rather than reviewing mince pies as I did last year making bucketloads of mincemeat and mince pies (best pastry recipe) and then spending a whole month feeding them to neighbours,friends and family
  • Putting up shelf after shelf in my tiny kitchen for all the cookbooks that have come my way and the files from Ballymaloe
  • Getting a shiny new Kenwood and a food processor (which I never thought I would need and now cant live without)
  • Eating at The Cliff House hotel which was fabulous even if the head chef wasnt too keen on my use of words for him
  • Fishing!
  • Meeting some amazing artisan producers from around Ireland
  • Getting to know my local butchers on a first name basis
  • Convincing people I know to grow veg on their balconies and apartment rooves
  • Growing beetroot although not very successfully
  • Deciding to keep hens and half building a hen house (more to come on that this year)
  • Being inspired over and over again
  • Almost completely removing processed foods from my diet (and introducing a lot of butter)
  • Catering and working in a restaurant kitchen

2009 was a year of making things happen. I left my job and spent 6 months following my foodie interests and had the time of my life. I then came back to reality with a thud and returned to office life, but somewhere out there that may all change again in future.

Wishing you all a fantastic 2010.