Christmas stollen

Christmas Stollen Loaf

I am writing this while basking in the (relative) cool of the evening, which is quite a strange feeling on Christmas Eve. Where I’m from, we tend to bask in the warm glow of turf fires on the 24th, instead I’m battling with the cats for who gets to sit closest to the fan. The cats are winning; they use their cuteness against me, clever things.

It’s still 24 °C at 10 pm, which is not generally a temperature that makes me think of mulled wine and mince pies. Or stollen for that matter, but I’ve got to make some concessions to this festive season, right?

Dried fruit, glace cherries and Cointreau
Nothing screams Christmas better than dried fruit, glace cherries and booze!

I have to admit (and I’m sure it’s already clear), this year I’m finding the summer-time Christmas a little difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no problem sitting in the sun sipping many cool drinks (like this one), but let’s call a spade a spade here, it’s just not Christmas when it’s over 30 °C out. Today I’ve been pining for Grafton St and Grogans and going out with my girlies.

But who can’t resist marzipan fruit bread? Not me I tell you, doesn’t matter what the temperature is! So I rolled up my sleeves, whacked on my oven and set to work, and the results were worth it, oh so worth it…..

Nollaig shona daoibh!

Christmas stollen

Stollen with cherries and marzipan

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Chorizo, mixed bean and rocket salad

crispy and golden chorizo

Question: when is a salad not a salad?

Answer: when it’s got chorizo in it!! YUMO!

One thing I’ve learnt recently is that chorizo is apparently not a diet food. Who would have thunk it? Certainly not me. I’m one of these people who think once you stick the word ‘salad’ onto anything, it’s automatically super healthy and not at all bad for you. Oh why can’t that just be true?

So when I made this salad recently and brought it to a dinner at the house of two dieting friends I wasn’t met with lip smacking or smiles. Oh no, instead I was educated about kilojoules, fat and carb ratios and other exciting stuff like that; because that’s just what I need, another thing to worry over and feel guilty about.

Chorizo and mixed bean salad

“But it’s a salad…” I pleaded.

“No” I was told, “it’s got chorizo in it, so it doesn’t count”.

In fairness, our friends are doing great and look absolutely fab. Maybe taking some of their advice wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Mixed beans

This recipe is from the Avoca Salads cookbook. Any Irish readers will be familiar with the Avoca shops and cafes and will already be drooling and deciding they need to eat this immediately. For all you lovely foreigners, Avoca is a chain of uber-yummie-mummie shops in Dublin and Wicklow. You have to be a yummie mummie to a) have the time to hang out at the cafes with other yummie-friends and b) afford many of the country-chic-organic-handmade foods stuffs, clothes and nick nacks.

Maybe one day I will have the accompanying children and salary to justify my Avoca obsession, although it’s not going to be one day soon. In the mean-time I’ll just continue to buy their cookbooks and delude myself about the health benefits of certain salads.

Chorizo, mixed bean and rocket salad

Chorizo & mixed bean salad

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