Like most Irish people my age, I went to a Catholic school, and as such got loads of exposure to all the bible stories. One in particular always stood out in my mind: the story of the last supper. The reason being, that I could never understand how wine and bread could constitute a meal. As an eight year old, this was probably the detail that bothered me the most, which suggests I may have slightly missed the point.
Fast forward 17 or so years to a Friday night in one of the brilliant Italian restaurants on Millennium Walk in Dublin and I had an epiphany (most probably helped along by at least half a bottle of Chianti and this fantastic mural).Of course wine and bread could make up a dinner! How had I been so stupid all these years? All you need is to add a little balsamic vinegar, some extra virgin olive oil, maybe a few marinated olives and hey presto – you have the best dinner in the world!
And the word for this new dining sensation? Dippage. Yumo, delicious, dippage.
Ask any of my friends – they will concur that I am a dippage fanatic. I think it’s totally acceptable to serve some olives, maybe some char-grilled veggies, an array of dips, balsamic oil and vinegar with crusty bread and call it dinner.
One of my favourite dippage dips is hummus, it’s all kinds of yum and apparently it’s good for you too. Brilliant.
Roasted red-pepper hummus
Recently I’ve been thinking about family recipes and how they get passed from person to person. It was sparked by a story I heard about a girl who’s friends put together a scrap book of all their family recipes as a wedding gift, how sweet is that?! Certainly beats a set of towels in my book.
I was taught to cook by my Mam. She is (and I can’t stress this strongly enough) an absolutely cracking cook. Everything the woman makes is super delicious. But she’s not very adventurous, so after she taught me the staples (bolognese, chocolate cake, Irish stew, seafood, etc.), I went on to do a lot of discovering and recipe testing all by myself. At the same time, I’d love to pick her brains and write down all of her recipes for safekeeping. Adventurous they may not be, but they formed a very important part of my childhood. Even just the thoughts of her Christmas baked ham brings me to my happy place, mmmmmm…
My aunt is also a wonderful cook, but I fear she’s quite like me and makes up recipes as she goes along, thereby making it slightly difficult to write them down or pass them on. Her stroganoff is legendary; it’s absolutely out-of-this-world delicious! When I was a kid, I loved it so much that whenever she made it, she’d always make an extra plate for me. I have been begging her for the recipe for years now with no luck, although I’m starting to suspect she doesn’t have a clear idea of it herself!
So here is my attempt to recreate my aunt’s stroganoff, but obviously this is subject to change, depending on what we have in the fridge on a given day!
Auntie V’s beef stroganoff (well, almost)
Yes, my blog is one year old today, whoop!
And what better way to celebrate than with cupcakes, double whoop!
After a year of writing a blog what have I discovered? Well, I’ve discovered that I’m not as good a cook as I thought I was, in fact, I am only just beginning to realise how much I’ve yet to learn. I’ve also discovered that recipes are really helpful, as is actually measuring stuff out correctly! Who would have thunk it?!
I am proud of one thing though; I’m proud that I’ve actually started trying stuff out. For so many years I watched so many cooking shows, read loads of magazines and bought cookbooks like they were going out of fashion. But I never really made anything; just day-dreamed about making stuff. I’m glad to finally be getting my hands (and apron) dirty. It feels great.
I’ve got big plans for Yumbolicious in the next year and I hope to execute at least some of them. I have a few aims too, I’m going to try and cook and post much more fish. I always use the excuse that The Fella is allergic, but if I’m really honest, I’m actually quite apprehensive about cooking fish. I’m also going to learn how to decorate cakes and cupcakes. The red velvet cupcakes I made today are just the beginning, but everyone’s got to start somewhere, right?
Red velvet cupcakes
Who doesn’t just love some religious iconography on their baked goods?!
As I was making these, and diligently piping out a cross on each one, I got to thinking: how does an atheist come to this? How is it these little buns are so loved that pretty much everyone, religious or not, eats them this time of year? Weird huh?
I was curious so I hit the interwebs and found out loads of interesting things about these yummie bunnies. Apparently they could have been eaten in pagan times, the cross (symbolising the four quarters of the moon) being a nod to the goddess Eostre. Which leads me to ask, did these Christians ever have an original idea?! But they were popularised in Tudor England, where they were so trendy with Catholics that Elizabeth I had to pass a law allowing them to be only made on Christmas and Good Friday. Hence how they are now associated with Easter.
Apparently there are all kinds of superstitions around them, like if you hang one in your kitchen you’ll make good bread all year, they’re also good luck to have on a ship. Who knew hot cross buns could be so interesting? If you fancy reading more try here, or here.
Or you could just skip to the recipe and enjoy these steaming hot from the oven with lashings of melted butter and a cup of tea. Yummo. It’s still the weekend after all, there’s no need to start being healthy until tomorrow.
Hot cross buns