Holiday-substitute chicken pilaf

Finances feeling a bit tight? Recession starting to bite? If you’re living in Ireland or the States, I imagine you might be able to relate.

Not the Australians, I’m pretty sure the Australians don’t even know how to spell the word recession.

Chicken with coriander and spinach rice

There might be no recession in Australia, but finances are a still a wee bit tight here in Chez Yumbolicious. A large tax bill, coupled with saving for two possible trips home next year, car insurance, wedding presents, vet bills and other BORING stuff mean we’re not going on any exotic holidays this year. Oh well.

So if you’re not going to make it on that dream-trip to South America this year, fear not mes amigos, make this and bring South America to you instead.

Cumin-spiced yoghurt

It a recipe adapted from one of my very favourite books: falling cloudberries by Tessa Kiros; and I am deadly serious, it genuinely tastes like something you’d eat on your holidays in Peru or someplace fierce exotic like that. Coriander, chilli and cumin-spiced yoghurt blend together for a fiesta in your mouth. Sounds pretty good, right?!

Perfect with a cerveza in the back garden.

¡Buen viaje!

Chicken with coriander and spinach rice

Chicken with coriander and spinach rice with cumin-spiced yoghurt

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Wonky heirloom Caprese salad

heirloom & cherry tomatoes

There’s a building right at the edge of North Sydney with a giant digital time and temperature display that I’m kind of obsessed with.

Every morning, as I drive past, I mentally take note of the temperature. Without fail. It’s kind of a morning ritual for me, like coffee and newspapers. I think it might be an Irish thing; as a nationality, we do tend to be unreasonably fascinated by temperature.

Take your annual summer holiday for instance; sure you couldn’t be expected to have a good foreign holiday until the mercury reaches at least 30 °C. You see, you just wouldn’t be getting your money’s worth. Sure what would be the point of leaving the country if you didn’t get pure roasted alive?!

caprese salad with heirloom & cherry tomatoes

Likewise, hot days at home are monitored with fascination – jaysus, the winky weatherman said it’s going to be 23 °C tomorrow! Oh holy god! I may dig out the shorts, let’s bring the kids to the beach, and ring the neighbors, we’re going to have a barbeque, god it’ll be great to get a bit of tan! – would be the typical thought process of many an Irish person on the annual day of summer.

Neither would a Skype conversation with anyone from home be complete without an enquiry about the temperature. It’s one hot topic!

So, true to my race, I check the temperature on my drive to work every morning, and think about what a mental country Australia is. Last Friday it was 19 °C at 7.03 am. I kid you not.

caprese salad with heirloom & cherry tomatoes

Let me just put that into context for you: at seven in the morning, in the spring, it was as warm as it sometimes ever gets in the middle of the day in Ireland in summer.

I think that means summer is officially on it’s way. Australian summer, obviously.   

To celebrate, I made a wonky heirloom Caprese salad, because nothing tastes more like sunshine than tomatoes and basil. I used some juicy heirloom tomatoes and chopped everything up so roughly, you’d swear I don’t even own a knife. Then, I sat in the back garden, soaked up some rays and enjoyed it.

Wonky heirloom Caprese salad

caprese salad with heirloom & cherry tomatoes

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Bow ties ‘n’ bolly

Did someone say bolly?

Oh yes please! I’ll just have a wee little drop; oh how I love those bubbles! And what better to pair with bubbles than some beautiful spring strawberries. They’re a match made in heaven.

Fresh spring strawberries

Last weekend we went to a rather wonderful wedding; a very very special wedding – one where there were two dapper and dashing grooms, and not a bridezilla in sight.

One of the handsome grooms happens to be my Fella’s very good friend. So you can only imagine how proud I was to see The Fella stand up beside his mate on the big day, offering moral support, remembering the rings and delivering a suitably embarrassing speech.

Strawberries in white chocolate shirts

I made these strawberries for the Fella to bring over to the boys house that morning while everyone was getting ready. I thought them rather fitting, given the bow ties; and I knew the guys would enjoy them with a pre-ceremony glass of champers.

I got the idea from the fabulous The Vanilla Bean Diaries. Esté’s versions are much tidier (I think she’s going to make it as a master confectioner well before me); and she has the in-process shots down pat, something I’ve never managed.

Strawberries in milk chocolate jackets

However in this case, it probably had a lot to do with the fact I spent most of my time trying to scoff the melted chocolate and not concentrating on the whole photo-taking-bit, ops!

Try these today with a glass of bubbles, I’m sure if you think long enough you can come up with a reason. They really are a match made in heaven, much like our wonderful friends Scott and Mike.

You gotta love the love.

Strawberry bow ties

Chocolate dipped strawberries

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Gone visitin’ with a new look!

This week I’ve gone off galavanting, which is always fun! I’m guest blogging and eating cheesecake at my friend Mary’s wonderful blog Where’s the Zoom.

Mary is an American friend, who I met when she (very excitedly) packed up her entire life and moved to Ireland, and all for a buachaill – swoot soooooo!!

After three years in Dublin she married the self same boy – everybody say ahhhhh. Now, she lives in sunny North Carolina with her handsome Irish hubbie and two beautiful babies, who feature regularly on her fabulous blog.  Check it out, it is beyond cute and the photos are to die for. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Hope you enjoy the new look.

I’ll be back next week for some more yumbolicious-ness!

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Kumquat, vanilla and vodka scented marmalade

What fun and yummy little fruits kumquats are.

For those of you unfamiliar with these petite citrusy bites, they’re all kinds of entertaining. For instance, you can pick them up and pretend to be a really big scary giant, just hanging out with an orange.  See? Fun!

Or if prancing around the kitchen shouting fee-fi-foo-fum at the cat isn’t really your idea of a good time, you could always offer them to unsuspecting boyfriends, telling him of course they can be eaten skins and all; and try to supress your giggles while his face puckers up and turns inside out. Ha!

But if winding up your loved ones ain’t your thang, I guess you could just make marmalade. It’s not quite as fun, but it’s sure as hell deeeeelicious.

I love marmalade and will always have a jar of it in the fridge for weekend toast-fests. I’ve made it plenty of times before, but never with kumquats, so I hit the interwebs for a little inspiration. I found quite a few recipes recommending adding vanilla extract, which seemed straight forward enough; but I also found several recommending using rice wine (or a mixture of rice wine and water) as the cooking liquid. Alcohol in a recipe is always guaranteed to grab my attention, I was intrigued.

For my own marmalade, I decided to use vodka. I figured the citrus flavour could handle a bit of a kick, and hell, even if it didn’t work, it would certainly make the weekend toast-fests a little more entertaining.  I got lucky, it worked; and boy does it taste good.

Kumquat, vanilla and vodka scented marmalade

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Baba-ga-what-now?

One of the things I love about Sydney is the sheer amount and variety of restaurants there are. It’s astounding! In this town, you could eat out every night of the year and never get bored. In my small corner of the city alone there are several Thai, Indian, tapas, Mexican, Italian, Vietnamese, modern Australian, Japanese, vegetarian and Turkish places. There is also a French restaurant, a Polish place, a Brazilian barbeque joint, a Himalayan and a Chinese restaurant. And this is all just in my immediate neighbourhood!

If you start heading over to other suburbs the list just keeps getting longer and longer and loooonger. And, no doubt the pounds will begin to pile.

I guess this multicultural mish-mash is thanks to years of immigration. It’s strange that all these interesting and exotic people never thought to move to the sunny emerald isle and share their tasty treats with us, isn’t it?! In fairness we could have done with a bit of variation over the years, potatoes are yum, but even they can get a bit boring after a bit.

Or maybe it would have all be a bit too unusual for us? If they had thought to move to Ireland, perhaps all these new tastes would have just blown our little mind-holes. Like, I’m pretty sure if I mentioned baba ganoush to some folks I know back home, they would look at me with vacant faces and say baba-ga-what-now?

It’s aubergine (or eggplant) barbequed and all smushed up into pure deliciousness. Just in case you didn’t already know.

I saw this beautiful recipe in a recent issue of SBS Feast magazine and I am so excited to share it. Not only is it absolutely stunning and pure exotic, it’s also quick, easy and super delicious. Perfect for impressing people or for exploring a new cuisine; only if there are no spuds left in the fridge of course.

Haloumi with baba ganoush and pomegranate

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Creamy, sundried surprise

So it’s time for another pasta surprise; because everyone loves pasta and surprises, hoo-raa!

Pasta surprise is all kinds of super and as yumbolicious regulars will know, it’s one of my favourite things to make.

It’s great because you get to clear out the contents of your fridge; while avoiding the supermarket (always good on a midweek evening) and all in under the guise of experimentation. And the big plus? Well it’s pretty hard to go wrong, but if you ever do, you can nearly always do an emergency rescue job with some cheese and a good grill!

This pasta surprise is veering dangerously towards poshness, but I swear it was a fridge clearing exercise that went exceptionally well. So well in fact, that I committed it to memory and made it again and again and again. And you should too.

Creamy, sundried tomato and chicken rigatoni

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Wintertime pear and almond cake

It’s currently wintertime in Sydney.

Now I know that for some of you, the above statement makes absolutely no sense. In fact, you’re sitting there thinking that it’s a pure contradiction in terms. Well I’m here to drop some knowledge people: yes, they do get winter in Australia.

Three whole weeks of it in fact! Burrrr.

I’ve  expressed my opinion previously on the Sydney winter, and therefore am not going to keep talking about it, lest I start to get into rant territory. Instead, I’d just like to share some small thoughts with the dear people of Sydney. For example, did you know that wintertime can be a whole lot less traumatic if you a) get central heating in your house and b) dress appropriately? True story. Another true story: winter happens all over the world. Honestly. Everyone gets it at some point, so you’re not special, sorry. And lastly, don’t you know that winter is the perfect time to stuff your face full of all kinds of calorific yumness? It’s like, why it was invented.

So you see, you’re missing the point! It’s a time for tea and roasts and spuds and pudding with sticky sauce and melting cheese on stuff and many MANY hot ports. Fact.

Today I did some seasonal celebrating of my own by making this delicious pear and almond cake; and I would strongly encourage you all to do the same as it was totally divine. Pears are one of my favourite winter fruits and pairing them with almonds seems to work really well. This cake is dense, sticky and crumbly sweet. It’s the perfect warming reward after a chilly Sunday afternoon jaunt. It’s also a great reward for getting to the end of your chapter, or for keeping the couch warm all day, or for intending to go out, or for….

Pear and almond cake

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Rabbit food anyone?

What do you think of when you hear the word: lentil?

Let’s be honest here, lentils don’t have a very good reputation do they?  One that’s not actually very fair.

If you hear the word and immediately think of greeny environmental types with dreadlocks and hemp clothes; who only eat grass, soy and hard-as-old-boots rye bread, then you seriously need to think again. And pronto, rabbit food they ain’t. In fact, these miniature pulses are so super yum it almost beggers belief.

When I was little, my Mam did cook lentils a lot. I remember eating them smothered in butter and lemon juice and really enjoying them. But for some reason as I got older, they fell off my radar, only recently to reappear. And to be honest, I can’t believe I’ve wasted so many lentil-free years. They would have been an absolute god send in my student years:  cheap AND nutritious AND filling AND tasty, how come nobody reminded me about them?

As it has been slightly chillier than normal here in Sydney these past few weeks, I’ve been eating them with lots of yummie winter veggies, making some frugal but filling and oh-so-tasty mid-week suppers.  I put this dish together myself, basically because I thought the flavours would go well together: the sweetness of the roast squash and red onion is perfectly balanced with the saltiness of the feta, the rocket gives a peppery twist and the lentils are nutty, rich and wintery.

If you’re out to change your opinion of these nutty little guys, give this dish a try. It’s best enjoyed on a cold, dark evening with a nice glass of red. Hemp scarves and hats are optional.

Puy lentils with roast squash, caramelised red onion, rocket and feta

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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

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Tonight I’ll mostly be eating purple food

I’m from outside a large town in the north east of Ireland, a town with a pretty distinctive accent.

Even when I meet Irish people here in Australia, and tell them where I’m from, their usual response is: ‘well ya don’t sound like you’re from Drogheda!’. I think it may have been voted the worst accent in Ireland at some stage. But I love it, especially some specific words, you see, people in Drogheda don’t say the word purple, the say ‘puawpul’.

Anything this colour has to be good for you, right?

Last week I was sick, all week. It was horrible, at one stage I was pretty sure I was going to die. I think it may have been the man-flu, it really wasn’t fun. I finally started to feel better on Sunday and decided I needed some warm, vitamin-filled, wholesome food. So I made a big batch of puawpul borscht, yummo!

Even just prepping the veg for this soup cheered me up, the colours were fantastic. Just for giggles I made sure everything that went into it was a shade of purple: the beetroot (obviously), the onions, the cabbage, the potatoes (well the skin at least), even the carrots! What can I say, when you haven’t left the house for four consecutive days, you start to find the colour of vegetables amusing. As the vegetables cooked, the colour changed into the most wonderful deep red, it just looked fantastic, but probably not food to eat on a first date or while wearing your Sunday best. And the colour is pervasive; eat enough of this soup and your wee may just turn a jaunty shade of pink!

Colourful urine aside, this soup is delicious. It’s hearty and filling; sweet, peppery and rich. It goes really well with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of sourdough. And it just has to be packed full of vitamins and good for you things, which is always excellent.

The two photos of Drogheda were taken my by very talented Papa, check out more of his work here and here.

Puawpul borscht

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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

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Hey Pesto!

There are currently four things growing in my back garden: an abundance of nondescript weeds, a deranged passion-fruit vine, a pretty hardy rosemary bush and more oregano than a small Mediterranean nation could eat in a year.

I am an atrocious gardener, but this is not for lack of trying. I frequently plant all kinds of interesting and edible things, only to watch them wilt and die before my very eyes. I have absolutely no idea why these four plants manage to thrive where all else fails.

So what do you do when you’ve a garden full of oregano and you don’t fancy eating roast lamb non-stop for the next year? You make pesto, yummo!

I love love LOVE pesto, although this love is not shared my all members of my family. I think it can be used to dress up absolutely anything from pasta to sandwiches to veggies to dressings; it’s pretty much an all-round genius sauce, and oregano pesto is no exception.

Pesto purists beware; for this recipe I totally parted with tradition and just used what I had to hand: oregano from the garden (obviously), Pecorino I found on special in Harris Farm Markets and macadamia nuts (to make it a bit more ‘Stralian!). And I was more than happy with the delicious results.

Oregano, Pecorino and macadamia nut pesto

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Birthday banana and buttermilk pancakes with raspberries and honey

Question: should pancakes be fat or thin?

In my world, pancakes are large, round and oh-so-very thin. The best ones are eaten with a just sprinkling of caster sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice; or maybe a bucketful of Nutella; depending on your mood. My basic rule is that you shouldn’t need a knife and fork to eat them, just roll and go.

The Fella however has different views. Being Australian (and despite being the product of two Irish emigrants), he thinks pancakes should be small and thick. This means we have had a few, rather heated, pancake-related debates in our house.

I guess there are just Old World pancakes (thin) and New World pancakes (fat); which is the best compromise The Fella and I can come to. It was his birthday this weekend, so just to be nice (yes, I can be nice), I surprised him with a big batch of banana and buttermilk pancakes for breakfast. And I have to admit, they may have been fat and I did need a knife and fork to eat them, but they weren’t half bad at all.

Maybe living in the New World is starting to get to me…

Birthday banana and buttermilk pancakes with raspberries and honey

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Soda bread cures all ills, it’s a fact

I’m a scientist, and am therefore totally and officially qualified to make broad, sweeping statements such as above.

This week two major things happened here in Chez Yumbolicious. Firstly, I was awarded Australian permanent residency; and secondly, I got the worst dose of homesickness since I landed here nearly two years ago.

OK, so I know it’s not Kerrygold, but I’ve got to admit, those Kiwis seem to know their stuff!

Funny how things work out isn’t it? I’m finally allowed to officially call Australia my home FOREVER and all I want to do is go back to the not-so-tropical island of Ireland. I must need a brain transplant. There just must be something about constant doom, gloom and recession that gets to me. Perhaps, unbeknownst to myself, I’m actually some sort of economic masochist? I must Google that, try and find a support group or something.

So what to do when you’re 16,000 km from home and wishing you were on Bettystown beach instead of Bondi? Answer: make soda bread, it solves everything. Fact.

For all non-Irish readers, soda bread is a traditional bread, made with soda and buttermilk instead of yeast. It’s absolutely delicious and is immensely popular. Not only will you find it in supermarkets and corner shops across Ireland; almost every family has a recipe for it too. In fact, I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it.

I know this sounds utterly stupid, but until I moved to Sydney, I never realised exactly how traditional and parochial soda bread really is. I did half expect to find it here. Not so my friends; in Sydney sourdough is king. After a few months of searching I found a great bloke called Paddy the Baker who makes (and delivers!) soda bread, along with some other delish Irish treats. But for the past few months now I’ve actually been making my own and it couldn’t be easier.

Yesterday I decided I needed an extra special soda-bread treat so I got me some smoked salmon, capers and lemon. And my-oh-my did it hit the spot!

Beginner’s brown soda bread

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Dippage dips

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

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Auntie V’s beef stroganoff (well, almost)

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)

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Happy Birthday Blog!

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

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Hot cross buns

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

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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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