In season: Autumn recipes

Chinese steamed homemade dumplings with pork & spring onions and a crispy pak choi & peanut salad

Happy Chinese New Year to all my friends from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines! As today marks the start of a new year for a lot of Chinese countries, I thought I might join in on the fun and cook some traditional chinese festive foods. There were a lot of possibilities, but I ended up choosing dumplings! I’ve only eaten them once and never made them before so it was quite a risk but luckily, I got some great tips from my friend Shao-Chi and his mom!

  
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Salty rye crackers with sesame, chia & sunflower seeds

Lately I’ve been getting really into trying these new things that I usually just buy in the store, and one of those things is rye crackers to snack on during work (and have my entire desk covered in crumbs.. oops)! Now I had never used rye flower before so I didn’t want to make it too crazy, just basic crackers with loads of healthy seeds on it. Unfortunately, the first batch failed miserably! I think I actually chipped a tooth trying to bite them.. Absolutely horrible! But I wanted to try it again right away and went right back to my kitchen table which at that point was completely covered in flour because I was having a clumsy day and kept tripping and tipping everything over that was in my surroundings. Anyway, the second batch turned out perfect! I’ve been snacking on these for weeks now and they still taste great, so you can keep this for quite a while.

But why rye? Well it has quite a lot of health benefits for being a grain product. Rye flour actually usually retains a large quantity of nutrients, in contrast to refined wheat flour. The world’s healthiest foods: “Rye is a good source of fiber, which is especially important in the United States, since most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diets. Rye fiber is richly endowed with noncellulose polysaccharides, which have exceptionally high water-binding capacity and quickly give a feeling a fullness and satiety, making rye bread a real help for anyone trying to lose weight.

  
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Ballymaloe Irish Beetroot

Discovering new products, ingredients and flavours is pretty much my day-to-day life ever since I started this blog. Not a day goes by that i’m not either thinking of new flavour combinations or trying out something new in my own kitchen, down at the market or in a restaurant. So I’m very excited to share with you all a new product by Ballmaloe Foods: Pickled Beetroot.

Pickled Beetroot holds a place in many an Irish person’s heart. A jar of this dark purple vegetable bathed in sweet vinegar evokes feelings of nostalgia and images of hard boiled eggs, butter head lettuce and chunky homemade chips. No tea table is complete without some! Now there is finally an Irish grown, cooked and packed pickled beetroot available; Ballymaloe Irish Beetroot.

  
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Layered ratatouille

I’m sure most people will think of the Pixar movie when someone mentions ‘Ratatouille’, and I must say that it’s the movie as well that inspired me to make this recipe today as I never used to eat ratatouille at all. Now what is ratatouille exactly? It’s a traditional French provencal stewed vegetable dish originating in Nice. It’s only made of vegetables so it’s suitable for both vegans and vegetarians but I assure you that as a meat-eater myself I did not miss meat in this at all! It’s an extremely popular meal to eat around the Mediterranean coast as it’s such an easy dish to make.

There are a few main ways of cooking this recipe: you can either stew them all in a big pot, some prefer to stew only the aubergine and courgette and layer them in the oven afterwards. I’ve gone for a third approach however: we only make the layer of sauce in a pot and then slice up all the other veggies and layer them in a casserole to be cooked in the oven.

  
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Book tip of the month September: Nourish Bowls

As a food blogger I have an insane amount of plates in my home, really insane! Yet I still feel like I am missing a lot of great pieces, and one type that I really don’t have enough from is bowls. It’s undeniable that food in bowls has become a massive trend as it’s not only nice to look at, it can help you get the perfect amount of food and not over-eat by, for example, using big plates. There is something so beautiful about food in bowls as well, if you can find a great recipe of course and that is exactly what Nourish bowls is all about. Nourish Bowls is the ultimate guide to creating your own bowl, which is quick and easy to prepare on top of giving you an idea of how to present it if you want to impress people. The book provides 60 original hearty and photogenic recipes with all the elements you need for a delicious meal. Follow these or mix and match the key components to your own taste – the combination possibilities are endless!

Nourish Bowls is more than a recipe book, it’s a guide to creating your own unique and beautiful bowls. The key components for building the perfect nourish bowl are explained, with recipes split into ‘Breakfast Bowls’, ‘Light Bowls’ and ‘Full Bowls’, so you can enjoy this wholesome new way of eating at any time of day.

  
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Where poppies grow

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”.. Well in my case it’s flowers, I love having a beautiful vase in the hallway so it’s the first thing I see and smell when I go home. I don’t have a particular favourite flower though, but there is one flower I always associate with my home in Flanders: poppies! No matter where you go in Flanders, in Spring you will always find beautiful poppies along the roads. As beautiful as they are, these poppies often remind people of the First World War, with the most famous reference being this poem by Major John McCrae.

But poppies have a lot of other, often less known symbolism as well. “Poppies have been grown as ornamental plants since 5000 BC in Mesopotamia. They were found in Egyptian tombs. In Greek mythology, the poppy was associated with Demeter, goddess of fertility and agriculture. The origin of the cultural symbol was probably Minoan Crete, because a figurine known as the “poppy goddess” was found at a Minoan sanctuary in Crete. People believed they would get a bountiful crop if poppies grew in their fields, hence the name ‘corn poppy’.”

Leaving all symbolism aside though, poppies make a lovely addition to any home and can bring something special to your interior if you add just a few elements with them in your home.

Not sure where to start? Here are 4 of my favourite finds in Irish stores: a retro recipe tin, a beautiful painting to hang in your dining room, organic bowls to serve your food in and adorable poppy eggcups!

  
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