Mussel months

When I was a kid my Mam always said you should only eat mussels during months with an ‘R’ in them. And as everyone knows, Mothers know everything. So when my Mam came to visit me recently in Sydney, I decided we should have some March mussels, just because.

I love love love all types of seafood, but mussels are by far my favourite. Every year when my brother and I were little we were be brought to Dunany beach in the wee country of Louth to pick them. We used to pick bucketfuls; and I have a clear image of bringing them home and filling up the bath with them. But presumably this couldn’t be right, how could we have got that many home in the first place? Beats me. But once a year we did pick them and would have a fresh mussel feast. We always enjoyed the whole day hugely!

Since I met The Fella I eat a lot less fish; he’s a little bit severely allergic, which does pose a slight problem. So now when I do eat anything from the sea, it’s always a total treat.

My Man and I didn’t pick these mussels, unless you count driving to Sydney Fish Markets and back. But I did follow her tried and tested recipe from way back when, and they were so very delicious. Enjoy them quickly, before May rolls around.

Mam’s Mussels

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Rosemary and pine nut semolina cookies

Are you a Barry’s or a Lyons drinker yourself?

This is a question that can polarise Irish people. Friendships can be made or broken on the answer; in fact, it’s a question you should ask any potential partner straight up. It’s pretty much a deal breaker.

I am of course, talking about tea. Irish people can take tea very seriously indeed.

I am a Barry’s woman myself. I grew up in a Barry’s drinking household and I’ll stay a Barry’s woman until the day I die. Lucky for me, The Fella doesn’t drink tea at all, so we didn’t have to have the Barry’s versus Lyons debate. Instead we’ll have to discuss more trivial things, like what country to bring our kids up in and stuff.

Anyway, I love tea, but I love tea dunkers even more. I got the idea for these particular dunkers from the beautiful 101 Cookbooks website, but I have to admit, I didn’t follow Heidi ’s recipe. Instead, I adapted the semolina shortcake cookies I had made for Australia Day (because they were delish!), by adding some rosemary (from my garden) and toasted pine nuts. The result: très dunkable yumness for a classy afternoon tea. Someone stick the kettle on quick….

Rosemary and pine nut semolina cookies

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Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

This week the Irish Times asked readers to tweet their definition of Irishness, #beingirishmeans, the results were, to be fair, hilarious. My personal favourite of the published ones was: #beingirishmeans emigrating and suddenly developing an overblown grá for Guinness, hurling, the Irish language, U2 and Catholicism. While I can most definitely leave the Guinness and Catholicism behind, I do think this is probably true for many emigrates living away from the ‘oul sod.

There’s been a lot of stuff about “Irishness” in the media this week, which isn’t surprising given the week that’s in it. Most of it I find feckin’ hilarious. Like the amount of recipes for “traditional” corned beef and cabbage that have been coming up on my RSS feed.

Seriously folks, corned beef and cabbage?!! Where did people ever get this idea we eat corned beef? First off, it’s bacon and cabbage. Second off, who even has dinner on Paddy’s day?

When you’re a child, Paddy’s day is all about standing in the cold watching tractors drive by in the parade. As you get older, the pubs have more call than the tractors, and as the call of the pubs gets louder, the likelihood of dinner gets smaller. Endless shared packets of Tayto washed down by pints have all the nutrition you need, right? Of course they do.

I’m sure as you get older again you have to bring your own children to watch tractors in the cold, thus completing the circle of life. And I hope once I get to that stage in life, I’ll have sense enough to make a proper sustaining meal. But until then; Tayto it is……..

For me #beingirishmeans having Tayto for dins on Paddy’s Day.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh.

Tava tender lovin’ lamb

How do you cook-melt-in-your-mouth, falling-off-the-bone meat??

Beats the hell outta me!

After years and years and YEARS of fighting with my oven and overcooking every cut of meat ever invented, I was about to give up. I really was. I felt all those TV chefs, who I have spent most of the Saturday mornings of my adult life watching, were lying to me. Cheaper cuts my arse, they worked no better than the expensive ones. I just didn’t get it.

Sometimes I blamed my lack of roasting prowess on the fact I was (am) normally quite hungover for my Saturday Kitchen Live marathons, and hence found (find) it difficult to absorb many, or in fact, any details beyond thinking stuff looks yummo.  Then, for a while I went through a phase of blaming my oven, stupid oven.

Now I realise patience is the key. Lots and lots and lots of patience. And not being hungry when you start, that’s also important. If you begin to feel peckish, resist the urge to turn up the oven; instead pour a glass of wine and go stalk someone on Facebook, or whatever it is you usually do to distract yourself. Temperature knob twiddling will not yield melt in your mouth meat, no sir.

This recipe is from Tessa Kiros’ wonderful book Falling Cloudberries. I heart her style of cooking so much; it’s simple, totally unpretentious, and unbelievably delicious.

Tava – Cypriot baked lamb and potatoes with cumin and tomatoes

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