Autumn crème brûlée with spiced pineapple

frangipani and pineapple

Seasons are funny things, aren’t they? In Ireland we tend to have on average, oh, about two days of summertime a year. Three if we’re really lucky. When I was a student these days always conveniently coincided with major exams; in fact I think the gods of Irish summertime still do this. Those guys must hate students.

In Sydney, they have pretty much the exact opposite case. Here, we’ll get about three weeks of winter, tops. Summer glides into autumn, which sometimes threatens to turn into winter, but generally thinks better of it and simply glides back into spring again. We had sunshine and highs of 21 last week, but it is starting to get much cooler and wetter.

spiced pineapple brulee

A major hint that winter is on the way are the two rapidly-shedding frangipani trees outside my house. During the summer these tress keep our bedroom shady and cool, while filling it with the lovely scent of frangipani. At the moment however, they are covering my car in a deluge of dying flowers and leaves, meaning I have to practically dig my way into it every morning.

Two weekends ago, I picked what I think will be the last frangipani flowers of the year and paired them with the last of the autumn pineapples to make a totally-tropical desert. Crème brûlée with spiced pineapple is actually a great choice for this in-between season; the Chinese five spice gives a lovely autumny accent to the summery pineapple. And crème brûlée is just plain awesome no matter what time of the year.

As The Starks say – Winter is coming. Even to Sydney.

Autumn crème brûlée with spiced pineapple

five-spice pineapple creme brulee

Continue reading

A tipple for advertising gurus the world over

There’s a great website I follow called Gojee; I subscribe to their newsletter which has a weekly round-up of all that’s hot and tasty on the interwebs. One feature I especially look forward to is called WWDDD? As in: what would Don Draper drink? A question on the forefront of minds across the globe no doubt.

Image

The Fella and I are huge Mad Men fans, massive. Ever since the show started in 2007 we’ve been totally hooked. You see, The Fella is an advertising creative, and a very clever one at that; so he enjoys it for much more than just the great storylines and the super-awesome-fabulous styling. Hence when the fifth season finished up last week, we found ourselves at a bit of a loss on our usual Mad Men night. Then I’d a brain wave and made us some deliciously-retro whisky sours. They were just the ticket to get the creative juices flowing and I feel sure Don would have approved.

While I got the inspiration for this cocktail from Gojee, I actually used a recipe given to me by a friend of The Fella. She insisted that a good whisky sour absolutely HAS to have egg white in it. Initially I wasn’t convinced. But she argued and persisted and basically wore me down and I’m so glad she did. Not only does putting egg white in your cocktail make you feel like Rocky or some other super-fit-healthy dude (thus totally negating the alcohol content); it also give the cocktail a beautiful frothy head and a je ne sais quoi that is hard to describe, especially after a few.

These are delicious, and the more of them you drink the more your boyfriend will start to look like Mr Draper, which is never a bad thing, is it?!

Whisky Sours

Continue reading

Passionfruit and lemon curd

Edible gifts are the best. End of story.

The Fella took this picture in our Dublin apartment in early December 2008. I was pretty intent on making, oh about 10 bazillion litres of jam and so didn’t notice when he crept up behind me. That was the year the Irish recession was just starting to take hold, and boy did it take us all by surprise.

For most of the preceding Christmases, I ran up huge credit card bills buying unnecessary presents for both of our families. Not that the gifts were unnecessary, I like giving people gifts, but I think we’d kind of lost the true spirit of it. I know I’m at risk of sounding like cheesy American film, but bear with me here. We bought things just for the sake of giving them, without really thinking if the recipient would need, or even like the gift.  We were also buying for so many people; getting ‘something small’ for The Fella’s-cousin’s-ex-boyfriend’s-neighbour-because-they-sat-beside-us-in-the-pub-one-night suddenly became perfectly reasonable. Celtic-tiger Ireland was certainly a place to behold.

Then in 2008 I had what the Australians call a ‘dummy spit’. I had been working in a high-pressure sales job and was watching the market contract before my very eyes. But also on a personal level, I’d just had enough of the excess, the waste, and most of all, the pressure. So I went on-line and ordered two cases of jam jars; and that was my Christmas shopping done. It took all of 10 minutes.

I ended up making a trio of preserves: chili and tomato relish, rhubarb and ginger jam and lemon and orange marmalade. I packaged them all together in cute little bags and gave them as gifts to friends and family alike. I wish I had a picture of them, but this was long before I had ever even thought of blogging.

They were the most successful presents I ever gave. Small, thoughtful, delicious; but most of all: useful.

Since then, I’ve never reverted back to the mass-consumer gift giving. The Fella and I have pared back our list and our spending. Of course, we don’t make everything we give, but we do try to put in a little more thought into what we give and to whom. And this year everyone we love will be getting a jar of this delicious curd on various special occasions.

I made this a few weeks ago with the last of the autumn passion fruit, and oh my god was it delicious. It lasted all of two days in our fridge, and that was with us trying to be self-controlled! It’s like lemon curd but it gets an extra little bit of tang from the passionfruit, also the seeds give it a lovely bit of texture. It could go on absolutely anything from pie-crust to scones to ice-cream or meringue.  And best of all you can personalise your labels or jars and turn it into the perfect (and dare I say it: pretty darned impressive) gift for any occasion.

Passionfruit curd

Continue reading

Potato and egg salad with fennel and lemon

I’m all about dinner salads; love them I do. It’s great to pile loads of tasty and (sometimes) healthy food onto a plate and call it dinner. Add a dash of dressing, crusty bread for some dippage and you have a great mid-week supper.

Although, perhaps this dinner salad lark is just another way for me to delude myself into thinking I’m healthy.

This recipe is absolutely wonderful; I’ve adapted it from Epicurious and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It takes minutes to prepare and has a beautiful array of flavours and textures. Boring oul egg salad it ain’t! Let it brighten up a midweek dinner table near you, and soon.

Potato and egg salad with fennel and lemon

Continue reading

Summery tart

This week spring well and truly descended onto Sydney, and it got HOT. It has been lovely and bright in the mornings and when I leave the office each evening. We’ve started sleeping with the windows open every night.

So, I started what I feel may become a springtime ritual in Australia: I worried about how many bugs we’re going to have come summer (which was sparked by finding a baby huntsman spider in my kitchen, eek); and I fretted about by my poor très-burnable Irish skin.

But I also hit the interwebs in search of light, bright, summery, yummery food to cook. I’ve resolved to eat no more stodge until May. During my search I found this beautiful tart on one of my favourite websites: Delicious. And it was oh so colourful, simple and delicious. I served it with a crisp green salad it really hit the spot. Plus it gave The Fella ample opportunities to make super hilarious innuendos about all kinds of tarts, like, who doesn’t love a good tart on a hot day? But maybe the less said about that the better….

Tomato, chive and Brie tart

Continue reading

Messy meringue

This week I got to thinking about how recipes are invented. Now, bear with me here, I’m not being totally stupid. Obviously some stuff just tastes good together, like macaroni and cheese. And clearly the Irish national dish of spuds, bacon and cabbage evolved simply because, way back in the day, there just weren’t many other dinner options. But do you ever think some recipes were ‘invented’ by accident and just kind of caught on?

The reason I ask is, this week I made the traditional English summer desert, Eton Mess. Now, I don’t want to mislead you, I hadn’t originally intended to make it. Instead, I envisioned making a beautiful, white, fluffy, towering pavlova. But unfortunately my meringue looked like it had fallen off the back of a truck and then dragged through a hedge backwards by a pack of wild and ravaging dogs.

But it tasted good, nice and crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the inside and deliciously sweet. So really, the only option was to smush it up, cover it with cream and pretend that’s what I had really intended to do all the while. And I’d like to think that’s how the recipe was ‘invented’ in the first place!

Eton Mess

Continue reading

Epic (fail) eggs

Ahh, Sunday morning.

Lovely sunny morning, maybe we could go out for breakfast? Maybe someplace by the water, that would be nice.

On second thoughts, why should I leave my nice comfortable house on a Sunday morning? That would require hair brushing and the like. Seems like effort, pants to that. I’m a food blogger, aren’t I? I can make Eggs Florentine; it can’t be that hard, surely.

Surely?

Well, it appears Eggs Florentine are a wee tiny incy bit more effort than I had initially thought. Full epic fail instructions are as follows:

  1. Clatter about in pots and pans cupboard, making as much noise as possible. Wake boyfriend and possibly neighbours; if you’re up they can’t need much more sleep.
  2. Put toast under grill and promptly forget about it.
  3. Perfectly poach the eggs (gold star!) and feel immensely proud. So proud that electric kettle is inadvertently placed on the hot stove ring (which has obviously been left on. Obviously).
  4. Vaguely smell burning toast, ignore.
  5. Melt butter for the hollandaise sauce.
  6. Realise that toast has been charred, curse loudly and put fresh bread under the grill. Resolve to pay much more attention in future.
  7. Think the burning toast smell has a funny plastic tinge to it. Must be imagining things.
  8. Scramble the eggs making the first batch of hollandaise, damn it. Stomp about a bit in frustration.
  9. Remember to check the toast (hooray!).
  10. Suddenly realise electric kettle is melting rapidly, filling kitchen with noxious kettle fumes.
  11. Curse. A lot. Very loudly. In multiple languages.
  12. Run out into garden with melted kettle and flail about for a bit, not knowing what exactly to do with it.
  13. Open all windows and doors.
  14. Snap at emerging boyfriend enquiring about burning kitchen. He should be grateful that breakfast is being made for him.
  15. Stand back, take one large (kettle filled breath) and start again

Eggs Florentine

The second time around I faired much better. However, this dish does require good timing and quick thinking and so maybe it’s not ideal for first thing on a Sunday morning.

Continue reading