Spring Recipes
Spring is in the air
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Spring is in the air

Spring is here! You wouldn’t be able to tell from the extreme drop in temperatures we had here in Ireland this week though as it suddenly went below 0 again. But apart from this one week things have been looking good! I already put away my winter coat but now it’s time for the winter accessories in your home to be replaced with bright coloured decorations instead! It’s not that easy to pick my 4 favourites for this spring cause Spring and Summer are my absolute favourite seasons and each store has just so much to offer.

When it comes to inviting people over for dinner I find that most people end up going for the same style all year-round, but by introducing just a few elements related to the season you can really turn your dinner table into something special.

If you add some lovely scents to that in the background you’ll really have the ideal setting for a Spring/Summer barbecue or salad party.

  
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Pork, red onion and tarragon meatballs with courgette pesto, pine nuts, limes and olives
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Pork, red onion and tarragon meatballs with courgette pesto, pine nuts, limes and olives

One of my favourite dinners to both make and eat is anything with meatballs. Over the years I’ve come up with so many different types of meatballs as well as sauces, going from plain spaghetti meatballs to a meatball wrap with arrabbiata sauce. It was the first time I made meatballs without using panko breadcrumbs, as I can’t eat wheat anymore. Instead I’ve gone for Rice Krispies. Sounds weird but the result was smashing! I had tried using wheat-free bread before and turned them into breadcrumbs, but I really liked the result of the Rice Krispies a lot more!

Other than that I kept the meatballs quite basic, just some pork mince and red onion but I did also add some tarragon to give them more flavour. The bigger surprise in this meal was the pesto however, as I’ve decided to make a courgette pesto, which I had never tried before. I also kept this pesto dairy – free (and thus vegan) so vegans can use it for their other recipes without meatballs of course.

  
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Hot Cross Buns with an Apricot glaze
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Hot Cross Buns with an Apricot glaze

With Easter only days away I knew I had to come up with a great recipe for you all to try this Easter. It’ll be the first year I’m spending Easter without my family so it wasn’t really on my mind but I made something that would’ve been perfect for my family’s Easter as it’s always celebrated as a brunch rather than an Easter dinner.

I’ve made something new the last couple of years, whether it was my own chicken curry spread, sesame bagels or bagels with salmon and cream cheese, I always try to bring some new to the table. I must say I wasn’t familiar at all with hot cross buns until my friend Helen brought them up and I started noticing them in stores as well.
As they were unknown to me I went to find out more about their history, which I learned all about thanks to Miss Foodwise: “The tradition of baking bread marked with a cross is linked to paganism as well as Christianity. The pagan Saxons would bake cross buns at the beginning of spring in honour of the goddess Eostre – most likely being the origin of the name Easter. The cross represented the rebirth of the world after winter and the four quarters of the moon, as well as the four seasons and the wheel of life. The Christians saw the Crucifixion in the cross bun and, as with many other pre-Christian traditions, replaced their pagan meaning with a Christian one – the resurrection of Christ at Easter.”

  
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Rhubarb jam with strawberries and raspberry vinegar
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Rhubarb jam with strawberries and raspberry vinegar

With the coming and going of each month we also have a change in fruits and vegetables fresh from the fields available in stores and markets. One of them is Rhubarb, which usually comes in season mid/end of March. It can be very tricky to grow Rhubarb, as it can’t be eaten if it’s damaged by severe cold, as it may be high in oxalic acid, which comes down from the leaves and can cause illness. That’s why apart from field-grown rhubarb you can also get forced rhubarb, which some consider to taste better than ‘normal’ rhubarb. Now don’t worry about the word ‘forced’, no one is doing anything unhealthy here! All they do when forcing rhubarb is putting it inside and deprive it of light, so they shoot upwards looking for light, which results in a more delicate flavour and sourness although it still needs extra sweetness. These are of course available for a longer period, compared to traditionally grown rhubarb.

It’s not a hugely popular vegetable, I’ll give you that, as many people are simply not sold on the flavour. I wasn’t used to eating it either, but I discovered how much I like it last year as I made Rhubarb Oatmeal Cookies, Rhubarb, Strawberry and Mint Limenade and my absolute favourite: Rhubarb – Plum tart. Rhubarb itself is very sour, but as I usually combine it with sweet ingredients the result is sweet instead of sour.

  
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101 Bar Bites by Ryland Peters & Small
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Book tip April 2017: 101 Bar Bites by Ryland Peters & Small

Each year at Christmas I’m hoping that my family will be in charge of making the appetizers. There’s just something about being able to make all these little bites and nibbles that makes it so much fun to do, especially cause it means you’ll be doing a lot of cooking! I used to always make these big dinners whenever I invited friends over, but lately I’ve started to be more of a fan of serving them little bites to eat instead throughout the evening! The result is just so much more fun that to have to cook one meal, as some people may or may not like every part of your big dinner, but when it comes to small bites there’s always something for everyone. At the same time it can be a big task to be in charge of cause most recipes out there will focus on the main event and it can be quite hard to find a great recipe for smaller snacks.

Thanks to Ryland, Peters & Small that problem is now well out of the way as they have collected 101 delicious bar bites in one cook book. It’s ideal for any cocktail party, gathering or cosy night in you may have planned at any time of the year. Stepping away from any classic cookbook, the book is also divided based on the portion size, since there’s of course no difference in the course.

  
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Cork's Whiskey Festival 2017
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Cork’s Whiskey Festival 2017

Never a dull moment in Cork (or in Ireland in general). I’ve only just recovered from the Cork Burger Festival: January 30th – February 5th 2017 we had back at the end of January – beginning of February and where I enjoyed not one but two fantastic nights filled with mouthwatering burgers in Yellow Sub and Electric but now it’s time for the next festival: Cork’s Whiskey Festival 2017!

Celebrating Irish Whiskeys

As home of the best selling Irish whiskey in the world, it only seemed right that Cork had it’s very own Whiskey Festival.

To celebrate whiskeys from Ireland and across the world, the festival is working with some top producers such as Hyde, West Cork Distillers, St Patricks Distillery, Teelings Whiskey, Dingle Whiskey, Jack Ryan Whiskey, Knappogue Castle, Jameson, Single Pot Still, Bulleit Bourbon, Nikka and The Irishman Whiskey to ensure you get to experience the best whiskeys available in Cork.

  
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Green asparagus with pea puree, fried egg, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto
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Green asparagus with pea puree, fried egg, sun-dried tomatoes and prosciutto

Like I’ve said before in a previous post, we are currently smack down in asparagus season. Last time I cooked some white asparagus, but this week it’s all about green asparagus. So I went down to the store and bought some of these delicious green asparagus for not one, but two brand new recipes! The first one is this little bowl of sunshine with green asparagus, pea mousse, fried egg, some greens and prosciutto. It has all the right ingredients for a perfect breakfast, brunch or lunch: healthy greens and veggies topped off with a beautifully fried egg.

  
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Mother's Day Gifts 2017
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Mother’s day Inspiration 2017

With Mother’s day around the corner for Ireland and the UK (and Nigeria), I had a look around some of my favourite shops to come up with a list of 4 gifts that you can give to your mom this year! It wasn’t an easy task though, to come up with my favourites cause every store just had so much to offer! In the end I went for a combination of a gorgeous vase (pro tip: get your mum some flowers at the same time), a warm and beautifully woven woollen throw, a Chinese teapot and a scented candle.

All of these are for sale in shops you can find all over Ireland: Debenhams, Meadows & Byrne and Dunnes Stores. Hope you all find something great for your mom and to all the mums out there: Happy Mother’s Day!

  
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Carrot cake with dates, sultanas and an orange - sugar icing
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Carrot cake with dates, sultanas and an orange – sugar glaze (Gluten-free and Dairy-free)

Being told you’re intolerant to wheat, milk (cow, goat and sheep unfortunately) is an absolute bummer to say the least, cause it right away means bye bye to all those lovely desserts cause let me tell you, it’s pretty hard to find a dessert that’s not made with milk or flour. But luckily thanks to Victoria Hall I discovered that carrot cake can be made without either of them! Thanks to her fantastic book ‘This is gluten-free‘ I learned how to substitute normal four with gluten-free one in most cakes & bakes so I was finally able to come up with my very own (and also very first) carrot cake!

Apart from the traditional ones I added loads of other ingredients, like cinnamon, orange peel as well as dates and sultanas to give it a really rich and sweet flavour. The glaze on top was inspired by Victoria as well, as she mentioned it in her book.

Now don’t be thinking that because I use gluten-free flour and no dairy at all, that this cake will taste horribly, cause I’ve put it to the test by bringing it to work (not once, not twice but three times!) and got great comments each time. If you have no issues with gluten or wheat you can of course just use normal flour, the other quantities will stay the same.

  
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Honey-Spelt Bread
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Honey-Spelt Bread

This homemade honey-spelt bread recipe is one that I’ve been wanting to make for a very long time now! Ever since I found out I can’t eat wheat anymore, I’ve had to switch from eating regular brown or soda bread to alternatives. I first started out with gluten-free bread, but since I don’t actually have any problems with gluten, I switched to trying rye and spelt bread. I wasn’t too fond of the rye bread myself, I prefer rye as crackers, but damn I love spelt bread!

After buying spelt & honey bread in the supermarket for ages, I bought a bag of wholemeal spelt flour, so I could make my own. It then took me months before I actually had the balls to try and make it myself, cause I really was worried it would turn out horribly. 

  
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