Seasonal recipes: Winter

McKennas Guides: Ireland’s Best Restaurants 2017

Restaurants all over Ireland are celebrating right now as McKenna’s Guides has published its annual list of Ireland’s 100 Best Restaurants, with plenty on offer, ranging from fine dining to food shacks and food trucks. It may come as a surprise to some to see some of Ireland’s favourites being dropped off the list, including some of the Michelin star restaurants. But that being said, right from the publication of their first volume back in 1992, the McKennas’ Guides have always concentrated on the character and not on star-ratings. The guide offers a great list for anyone who wants to look for inspiration for their own cooking, or for those who just want to treat themselves and not cook for a night!

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Cauliflower soup with turmeric and soy cream

One of my favourite vegetables to eat during the Winter has to be cauliflower. It’s available all year round of course, but I personally think of it more as something you have during the colder months, but that’s mostly because of the recipes I cook with it are better suited for Autumn or Winter. This will probably also be my last Winter soup recipe as well, any soups I make in the following months will be lighter and possible even chilled soup, so I hope you’ll enjoy this Cauliflower soup as much as I did!

I kept this recipe quite easy, no oven grilling this time like I did with my roasted tomato and butternut squash soups. I also only used really basic ingredients, so I decided to add a bit of a twist to it by using turmeric to spice things up and soy cream to make it suitable for vegans and people with dairy-intolerance or allergies. If you’ve never tried soy cream before I highly recommend you give it a go, you won’t be able to taste it at all!

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Irish scallops with black pudding and cauliflower cream

Although the weather hasn’t been spectacular the last few weeks, we do have some pretty good weekends! And by good I mean: no rain. Whenever it’s not too cold and rainy I like to get out and do a bit of Sunday walking, just to get some fresh air and to discover new places. Last weekend we headed down to Mount Hillary near Mallow, but this weekend we decided to venture out to Kinsale beach, just outside of the town. We had never been there before but I have always really liked Kinsale, as it’s the gourmet capital of Ireland and there’s plenty to see and do! My absolute favourite spot is Charles Fort, which is not only very well maintained but it also gives you a stunning view of both Kinsale town and the sea.

After our walk along the beach and up through the green hills surrounding it, we went for a stroll through the town where we were met by the glorious scents of delicious foods in every street we walked into. Apart from getting hungry, it also gave me an idea for a new appetizer, with nothing but Irish seasonal ingredients. I got myself some Irish scallops, which are in fished mostly in Winter and Spring, although some species can be landed all year round and others are only to be caught from September until February.

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Cork Burger Festival: Electric

As you probably have read by now, Cork Burger Festival is currently running here in Cork, Ireland. Although the festival is only in it’s first year now, it’s looking to be a great start. One of the goals of the festival was to help put Cork on the map a bit more, and to provide some good food entertainment in an otherwise quite boring time of the year. I must say Cork is one of the most active counties I’ve lived in and the amount of festivals is quite vast and big, like the film festival for example or ‘Taste Cork‘, a countywide celebration of the outstanding food & drink Cork has to offer but it does get more quiet around Winter. Festival Cork doesn’t only organise things themselves but they also want to help anyone who has a great idea but needs a bit of guiding or help to get it turned into reality. Ernest from Festival Cork: “We couldn’t be happier with the turnout for our very first Burger festival, with even butchers taking part and restaurants all over the county including Kinsale have turned this into a county-wide festival, instead of just a Cork City event’.”

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Cork Burger Festival: Yellow Sub

With the Cork Burger Festival now in full swing, it was about time I went down to the city to try some burgers! On Wednesday I got invited to my first Irish blogger meet-up, hosted by Festival Cork and to get a sneak peek at what Yellow Sub is serving for the festival. Yellow Sub only started serving sliders a couple of days ago but you wouldn’t be able to tell from the quality, it was spot on!

The atmosphere was great right off the bat, there was loads of talking and laughs all over the place while the first sliders were being served. We started off our night with Fried chicken with lettuce, tomato and sub sauce. Sounds basic? Well turns out the key to success was in the sauce for this one! It had just the right amount of spice, which turned this burger into something a little bit more fiery than chicken burgers usually are.

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Book tip February 2017: This is gluten-free by Victoria Hall

Let me start off by saying something very important: do not cut gluten out of your life because you think it’s cool, because you think you’ll lose weight or because you think it’s healthy. Cutting out gluten is a major life chance and you shouldn’t do it without at least consulting a dietician, to make sure you’re balancing your new way of eating and are not losing out on necessary vitamins and so on. I don’t suffer from gluten intolerance myself but I do have an intolerance to wheat and a long list of other foods. Ever since I found out I’ve been trying my hardest to make the transition into cutting out wheat (luckily not durum wheat) and all the other foods, but it’s not easy.

My biggest issue so far is the lack of available alternatives in supermarkets. Since i’m also heavily intolerant to cow’s milk I’ve had to go look for food that was both wheat and milk free, not that easy! When it comes to wheat I am lucky enough to still be able to eat things like spelt bread, but for other things like cookies I very often have to by gluten-free cookies as there aren’t any wheat-free options in my supermarket. I can’t even imagine how much harder it would be for someone who has to cut out gluten, as it’s in so many things you wouldn’t even expect!

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Spiced up homemade roasted tomato soup with red onion and garlic

For someone who has rarely ever made homemade soup, I’m really starting to get into the habit of it! You may remember I most recently made my first butternut squash – carrot soup, but I’ve also made beetroot soup, white asparagus soup and parsnip soup before. Today it’s time for another basic but good one: tomato soup! Just as with the butternut squash soup, I decided to roast the tomatoes first, as it makes them much sweeter, especially when you combine it with red onion.

Now one thing to keep in mind though is that regular tomatoes are not in season right now, which is why I’m using plum tomatoes as they are available all-year round and are a great substitute. You can substitute it with tinned tomatoes too but I personally think you’re better of making it all from scratch. You’ll know exactly what’s going into your soup and you’ll feel so proud when it’s ready!

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Cork Burger Festival: January 30th – February 5th 2017

Following the success of Cork Whiskey Festival and Taste Cork Week, Festival Cork have teamed up with Ballymaloe Relish to launch Cork Burger Festival! It’s only a couple of days away, so if you have no plans yet for next week: come on over to Cork for the most delicious festival you’ll ever experience! I’ve always been a sucker for burgers, and I very often experiment with different things, like making my own buns or trying different kinds of fish and meat. Some of my own favourite ingredients include bacon and pineapple or halloumi. I love a good chip on the side as well but I am hoping that some places will serve something more creative, or even just sweet potato chips! I must say the Irish beef and other meat in general are way nicer and tastier so I can’t wait to find out what the festival has in store!

Venues across the city and county are encouraged to create and showcase Corks best burger over the week, host pop up nights, tasting events or run daily burger specials. The public will be able to vote for their favourite burger through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Chicken pad thai with lime wedges and crispy onions

A little while ago my sister was studying for her exams and she asked me if I could come cook for her so that she had more time to focus on her studying. I let her pick a recipe and she went for her favorite take-out meal ‘Chicken pad thai’, which was something I had only eaten once before so all I could do was keep my fingers crossed and hope it would turn out exactly as she was looking for. Luckily for me, she really enjoyed it! Since it was the first time I made it, I chose to use ready made pad thai sauce, but I made it a few more times after that and came up with the right flavor combination to make the sauce myself.

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Atlantic – The race for the resources of the North Atlantic

Today i’m going to do something I rarely ever do: get political. Why? Because it’s for a very important cause, one that we should all hold in high regard: our natural resources. It must be one of my longest posts ever, and you’ll probably be more entertained by watching the Documentary, but I felt I had the responsibility as a food blogger to share what I have learned and help spread the message, in any way I can.

In the beginning of December I saw a documentary that absolutely made my blood boil, something I never had given much thought before: ‘Atlantic – the race for the resources of the North Atlantic‘. ‘Atlantic’ follows the fortunes of three small fishing communities – in Ireland, Norway and Newfoundland – shedding light on three very intimate stories from the global resource debate. Each in a different corner of the Atlantic, these three fishing communities ­share social, economic and environmental problems stemming from human interactions with the ocean’s ecosystems. But while the Canadian and Norwegian governments work to safeguard their oil, gas, and fish, Ireland opts to sell its ocean resources to foreign interests, to the detriment of its working class. Featuring voiceover by renowned Emmy-award winning actor Brendan Gleeson, Risteard Ó Domhnaill’s Atlantic tackles harsh realities with uncommon grace and perspective.

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