Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Nettle Butter

Hello everyone! I wrote that at the scarcity banquet that I attended that we had nettle butter and it was really good. So since I failed miserably at foraging at Curraghbinny woods I had to settle with getting some nettles behind my house. I successfully managed to not get stung this time unlike when I made my nettle sorbet. So to make the butter I just took the nettle leaves off the stalk and washed them in water.

Then blitz the nettle leaves in a food processor.

Shockingly enough you then add some butter, real butter please not spread.

I just added a drop of olive oil and some maldon salt to it and that was it. It turned out really well and my parents really enjoyed it. It has a nice earthy flavour to it and my mom said nettles are good for 'cleaning you out', not sure what exactly it cleans you out of but presumably something you don't want.......

Christina, x

Friday, 21 June 2013

Stuffed Squid

If like me you love Masterchef you were probably watching when the three finalists were whisked off to Italy and got to have an amazing culinary adventure. I was most impressed by their cooking master class with Mama Agata in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast. I actually visited Ravello on my trip around Italy a couple of years ago.

I unfortunately didn't get a cooking class with Mama Agata. So I had to do with living vicariously through the three finalists. The one dish they made that really appealed to me was the stuffed squid, I really love squid and I thought this dish looked so simple but yet so elegant on the plate. We had a fair bit of squid in our freezer so yesterday I decided to try it out. I used the following ingredients:

  • 2  1/2 tubes of squid
  • Handful of green olives
  • Small  few capers
  • Parsley
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Parmesan
  • Oregano
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A little sun dried tomato paste
Start by making the stuffing. In the original recipe they use the tentacles of the squid to made the stuffing but it appears that we have deep fried all our tentacles so I just cut up half of one tube of squid. Fry this in some olive oil.

While this is frying finely chop the olives, capers and parsley.

Add these to the squid along with some parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Season the mixture with a little salt and then fill the squid tubes.

Secure the top of the squid with tooth picks to ensure the filling doesn't fall out and sear the squid in a hot pan.

Chop up some rosemary and cherry tomatoes.

Add these to the squid.

Blend up the tin of chopped tomatoes with a few teaspoons of sun dried tomato paste. Or you could also use a jar of passata.

Add this to the squid and simmer for thirty minutes. I turned the squid after fifteen minutes. Feel free to add a little water as well if the sauce appears to be getting too thick.

Slice the squid to serve, don't worry if some of the mixture spills out when you're slicing it, it's easy to pop back in.

Then spoon the sauce on top and garnish with some grated parmesan and chopped oregano. This dish was actually really nice and surprisingly easy to make just like good Italian food should be. 

Christina, x

Beautiful Boojum

So on my recent trip to Dublin I made a visit to Boojum, in fact every time I go to Dublin I bop on down to Boojum. Boojum as any self-respecting student/young person who has ever frequented Dublin knows is an amazing burrito bar. I actually had my first Boojum in Belfast which is where the original is and I keep coming back every time I get the chance. It is sort of like my Lennox's of Dublin. I really like it because the food is really good, it isn't expensive, the staff are really nice and I don't have to deal with making decisions as I always get the same thing. I always order a pulled pork burrito. I usually go with my pescatarian friend and she orders a veggie burrito which she proclaims to be amazing but I just can't pull myself away from the juicy pulled pork. Even after over indulging on meat at the scarcity banquet I still couldn't help myself and ordered the pork, maybe next time I will succeed in getting a veggie one......

 Along with pulled pork I get Mexican spicy rice, black beans, sour cream, cheese and the hottest salsa..I do like my food spicy. Boojum do a great student deal when you can get any burrito for €5.50 and I used to always get this despite not being  a student this year but last time I got caught out and it was totes embarrassing so now I pay full price like a grown up. But it's worth it for this.....

I really want Boojum now, please come to Cork?

Christina, x

Foraging Failures

After my recent scarcity banquet my desire to go foraging was reawakened. I especially wanted some wild garlic after the gorgeous wild garlic pesto we had at the banquet. So this week Mar (my mom) and I ventured to Curraghbinny Woods near my house to see what we could find.....

 and we found......nothing...Yes, it would seem that wild garlic is out of season or at least there was none to be found there. I didn't mind too much as after the full day of rain that inflicted itself upon us on Sunday the woods looked beautifully lush and green.

And sure didn't Mar and I have the craic anyway.....

......and my yellow cape got an outing so a good day all in all....

...despite failing miserably at foraging, will someone take me foraging? Please?

Christina, x

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Kimchi Hop House, Dublin

So after my scarcity banquet I was interested in trying more Korean food. My friend told me that one of the organisers of the banquet owned a Korean restaurant called Hop House and she had eaten there before and liked it. So we decided we would go during my week in Dublin. The perfect opportunity to go presented itself on a Tuesday night when we had every intention of being healthy and cooking at home but then the electricity went out on the whole of Thomas street so we couldn't use the electric cooker and all the shops closed down. But that wasn't what really pushed us out of the house, what really pushed us out of the house was the fact that because the electricity was gone the alarm starting beeping and after about an hour I thought I may smash the alarm so my friend decided that in the interest of getting her deposit back it would be best to leave the apartment. So off we went and of course the heavens opened and none of us brought an umbrella as after a week of sunshine in Ireland we fooled ourselves in to thinking we would never see a drop of rain again. So by the time we got to Hop House I was very wet and quite agitated......

My friend said a table filled with delicious food would make me happier and yes it certainly did.

But before we got all of the food, I of course had to mortify myself by pressing the server bell at least five times. I don't know what I thought it was but I just kept rubbing my thumb over it and then my friend was like 'Christina, that's the server bell!'.

So when the server came over, I of course apologised like any self-respecting Irish person would do and he was confused and said 'But you're supposed to ring the bell when you're ready so it's fine'. But I was having none of that and said 'No I really wasn't trying to be rude, I'm really really sorry'. In the end I think he accepted my apology just to shut me up.

 We just ordered a selection of starters because that was all we could afford, we looked wistfully down at the other customers who ordered their food without looking at the price and who could even afford to drink wine, one day when we get real jobs that will be day. We did notice something funny while deciding what starters to get, the starters were categorised as the following...... if 'Popular Options' and 'Healthy Options' were mutually exclusive. Anyway we ordered vegetarian spring rolls, spring onion pancakes, vegetable mandu and vegetable tempura, The food was really good, I especially liked all the dipping sauces that accompanied the food.

The spring rolls were nice and crisp, they could have been a bit more flavoursome in my opinion. I would like  an injection of a bit more spice but I do really like my spicy food. The sharp flavours of the various dipping sauces made up for this though.

The vegetable mandu were like dumplings or wontons. They did remind me of my wontons that I posted about recently. I especially liked the broth that they came in, it was especially welcome after our long walk in the rain.

The spring onion pancakes were really good, I am going to try to make more adventurous and savoury pancakes actually. I used to help make sweet potato pancakes in Cafe Paradiso so I don't know why I don't make more of an effort to make them at home especially considering how easy they are. These spring onion ones were nice and light.

The tempura was also really nice, tempura is a relatively easy dish but when done wrong can be very greasy and soggy where as this was nice and fresh. We also got a nice mix of vegetables including aubergine, carrot and onion.

The staff were also really nice especially after the bell ringing incident and they didn't rush us even though we stayed quite a long time after we finished out food as we were worried the fecking alarm might still be raging in the apartment. Overall I really enjoyed my trip to Hop House and would definitely go back. If you are trying to be frugal like me and my friend they also have a lunch menu which has a lot of the main courses at a cheaper price which I think I will hit up next time.

Christina, x