Om nom nom nom

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So this might be inappropriate for all those hardy souls giving up chocolate for Lent,* but for the rest of us who aren’t, what could be more appropriate on hump-day than a recipe for giant sea-salt dark chocolate cookies. Though giving up chocolate is not something I’ve chosen to do, I do think that there is something to be said for limiting consumption to really good stuff. I am as bad as the next girl for a sneaky KitKat (or three) or eating spoonfuls of Nutella from the jar, but there are so many advantages to eating more intentionally – not just in the sense that it is healthier, but really just because the more you are a aware of what you are eating, the more you enjoy it. Making your own cookies (especially these ones!) exemplifies this philosophy – so much more satisfying then ripping open a pack of Oreos and scoffing 4 in one go, these may be quick to make, but involve the complete sensory experience. The salt flakes accentuate the sweetness of the cookie, and moreover the depth of the chocolate. In line with above, don’t skimp on the ingredients – rather make a half batch with real butter and real chocolate than 2 with margarine and pretend dark-chocolate-that-contains-only-25%-cocoa-solids lame stuff. For realz.


Makes 14-18 cookies

100g caster sugar

120 g dark muscovado sugar

115 g butter, cubed

1 large egg

1/2 tsp baking powder

175 g plain white flour

1 tsp sea salt (I used Achill Sea salt)

100 g good quality dark chocolate, grated.

100 g good quality dark chocolate, cut into chunks.


1. Preheat the oven to 150C. Locate 2-3 large baking sheets (I only had two, so I cooked in batches – you will literally only get about 5 per sheet, they spread out enormously).

2. Cream the butter and sugars together until relatively light and fluffy. Mix in the egg.

3. Stir together the flour and baking powder, then mix them into the batter. Add the grated chocolate (which will sort of blend into the batter), and the bigger chocolate chunks (which will stay whole throughout the cooking process). Mix until all the ingredients are smoothly combined, and the chocolate is pretty evenly distributed.

4. Scoop about 11/2 tbsp of mixture into a rough ball shape. Flatten out very slightly, and sprinkle with a good shower of sea-salt flakes. Make sure you leave enough space – honestly, 4 per sheet may be loads, and it is quite disheartening after all your effort to have a giant cookie lake-slab instead of nice round cookies.

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5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown but not really dark – it is nicer to have them chewy then totally biscuity. Full disclosure, in the pictures above, mine are mostly too done (some might say slightly burnt…). They will still taste nice, but not as nice, so do watch them.

6. No matter how much you want to pull them off the tray immediately, RESIST. In cookie-making, there are a few fundamental rules (see using real ingredients, and leaving enough space above), but one of the most important tips is do NOT try to move the cookies before they have been out of the oven for at least 10-15 minutes. Not only will they continue to cook on the tray, but they will firm up, magically unstick themselves from the bottom of the tray, and generally become something that you could hold in your hand, rather than a mass of buttery dough that crumbles at one touch. You have been warned (I speak from the sad experience of ruining too many batches by greedily chivying them off the tray too early).

*You could substitute the chocolate for dried cranberries and your pick of chopped nuts (I’d go with walnuts or hazelnuts), adding about 1tsp of vanilla extract to the batter with the egg – still delicious. For more cookie fun, see and and also here I am totally running out of cookie-related idioms – will have to call the next post ‘Cookie recipe’. Enjoy xo

Brunch at the Winding Stair

I’ve always loved the Winding Stair restaurant on the quays – the first time I went, I was about 10, and up in Dublin for the weekend with my mother on my own (nirvana in the life of a child with 3 sisters). I had potted crab (how fancy) sealed with a thick layer of butter, and I sniggered every time the beautiful Spanish waiter called me madam. Anyway, I’ve been back a few times since, and it has never disappointed. This weekend, we decided to try the brunch menu – a fairly new addition I think (i.e. in the last 3 years or so), and steadily popular since its inception.

As always, one of the big draws of the restaurant is the dining room – it is pretty small, but not so that you’d ever feel really cramped, and there is a most magnificent view over the Liffey. This is one of the reasons it is a staple for me when I am recommending places for tourists/friends to eat when visiting Dublin – it has a real Dublin feel to it, without being at all pretentious or tacky.

And so to the food – the menu is pretty varied, and we all agreed that we would happily come back and try multiple things on the menu. It is hearty fare, and probably not what you’d have for breakfast-brunch, more lunch-brunch if you catch my drift. Prices range from around 10 euro for a main right up to 20 euro for the steak and eggs. A very elegant lady in her 70s-80s informed me and my sister as we passed her on the staircase, that this steak was the best she’d ever eaten. We’ll have to take her word for it, as none of us indulged this time!

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Mum and I both chose the potato waffle with Irish smoked salmon and pickles, Sarah chose the slow-cooked pork ribs, Dad the huevos rancheros, and Ruth the seafood chowder. Everything was huge – particularly the ribs, which could have fed two. The main thing that I took away from it all was that the ingredients used were really really good quality – the chowder had oodles of gubeen chorizo in it, and my salmon was just gorgeous. Nothing was terribly terribly exciting, but you don’t really need tons of innovation at brunch. For example, my dish was a little dry, with nothing to tie the waffle and the salmon together, but it was exactly what I wanted.

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We looked at the dessert menu, and decided that the 5 of us would share a lemon posset (cue the inevitable jokes about how posset means ‘little vomit’ – I swear, look it up) and everyone got coffees. The coffee was delicious, and really hot, something that is so rare now. I understand that really good coffee is supposed to be served warm not boiling, as it spoils the flavour or something, but it is so annoying to have to gulp down your drink in 2 mouthfuls for fear that it will go cold while you chat. For someone like me who would like to live in a coffee shop, it is far from ideal, being harder to justify your 2 hour stay when your coffee is gone after 2 minutes. Anyway, the dessert was really nice, served in a ginormous tall glass, with berry compote, and paired with two beautifully buttery homemade shortbread biscuits. Definitely a successful dessert, and would lead me to believe that either the brownie or the pear and ginger cake would be a good bet.

All in all, everyone was extremely full and very satisfied after brunch. Big selling points included the menu, the location/view, and the fact that you could book – more and more a rarity for busy brunch sittings on the weekends. The downsides could be that it is a little pricier than you might expect, and not ideal for breakfast (a startling absence of pancakes/french toast/granola/any sweet main option). Then again, this is their target market, and what they do, they do extremely well. We’ll definitely be back!

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Chocolate Spiral Cake.

I made this cake over Christmas as an alternative to pudding – it is based on a recipe from a great book called “From Lynda’s Table”. Lynda is the proprietor of Dublin Cookery School, and published this book last year, chronicling her foodie travels around the world. Here, I am using ground almonds instead of hazelnuts, a drop of chocolate liquor for depth of flavour and adding white chocolate ganache to top. It worked really well, so easy to make, and looked quite elegant on the table. Also, a little goes a long way as it is very rich. Bonus: it is gluten-free, so family/friends who are coeliac can indulge too.



170g butter

170g sugar

6 eggs

170g ground almonds

170g dark chocolate (I like Lindt 70 percent for this, but the Monsieur Roth brand available in Aldi/Lidl is perfect, and significantly cheaper.)

1 tsp chocolate liquor, or kaluha (brandy at a push).

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease and line a 9” circular tin.

2. Separate the eggs, leaving the whites to one side. Cream the butter and the sugar until smooth, and gradually add the yolks one by one, beating well with each addition.

3. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, or over some boiling water in a heatproof bowl. Allow the chocolate to cool slightly, then mix with the butter/sugar/eggyolky mixture.

4. Beat the egg-whites until stiff (i.e. when you can tip the bowl over, and they don’t collapse onto the floor – i.e. don’t check this until you’re sure kiddo.)

5. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture scoop by scoop, alternating with a couple of a spoons of grounds almonds, until all the ingredients are combined. Add the liquor.

6. Bake the cake for around 40 minutes in the preheated oven – test it with a skewer to see if it is done after about 38 minutes. Be aware that the cake will deflate as it cools, and may even sink inwards a little in the centre.


170g dark chocolate, chopped quite finely.

175ml single cream.

1. Heat the cream in a saucepan. Just as the cream is coming to the boil, add the chocolate, remove from the heat and stir gently until melted.

2. Allow to cool until it is about the consistency of thick yoghurt – pop it into the fridge if you like, but if you leave it too long, it will set quite hard. If this happens, you can heat it up in the microwave, but again you’ll have to wait for it to cool again, so it can be easier just to let it cool naturally the first time!

3. If you are having this for a special occasion, you can also make a 1/2 batch of white ganache (exactly the same as above) for decorating.

4. Generally, when the ganache is at the consistency you want it at, just dump it over the top of the cake, and allow it to cover the sides evenly. It might seem like you will lose a good bit down the sides, but pop the cake on some greaseproof paper, and you can scrape it off and reuse. This is so much easier than trying to smooth it out yourself.

5. Allow the dark chocolate to cool before you attempt a spiral with the white – I generally use a make-shift piping bag made out of a plastic sandwich bag, and just cut the top off. Bear in mind that the white chocolate will spread, so don’t try anything too intricate!

To serve – keep it in the fridge until about 20 mins pre-serving, and then remove, so the sponge isn’t freezing. It is great for a couple of days, it keeps very well, and for up to a week in a tin, without the icing. It is rich, so cut in small slices.

Bulgur Wheat Salad with Grilled Paprika Chicken

IMG_0219This is something that I just came up with my tossing leftovers bits and bobs from my fridge together, and I was pleasantly surprised with how yum it was. I made enough to bring into college the next day for lunch, and it was just as good cold as it had been hot the day before.

Bulgur wheat is that grain you find in taboulleh, I like to think of it as the more outspoken cousin of couscous. It has more bite to it, it wholegrain, healthy and ridiculously easy to use. In case you didn’t guess from the title though, it is not wheat or gluten free. You can get fast cook bulgur wheat, but I just got your average bag from Tesco, and it takes about 20 minutes simmering on the hob.

Like I say, this salad was the product of serendipity, just containing stuff I had lurking at the back of the fridge, so feel free to mix it up. Go wild, like.


-30 g Bulgur wheat per person

-1/2 low-salt stock cube, dissolved in 120 ml water.

-Extra-virgin olive oil

-1-2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted.

-Handful parsley, coriander, basil (whatever you might have)

-1/2 red/orange pepper

-Feta cheese

-1/2 lime


For the Chicken

– Portion of chicken breast/thigh fillets, flattened out with the back of a big knife

– 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

-1/2 tsp olive oil

-1 clove minced garlic

-Handful of herbs (coriander, basil, parsley), chopped.

-Salt and pepper.

-1/2 lime


1. Put the bulgur wheat on – 30g to 120ml water/stock. Bring to the boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes.

2. Put the chicken in a bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper, the juice of 1/2 lime, the chopped garlic and herbs, and the smoked paprika. Mix it all about so everything is evenly(ish) distributed around the chicken.

3. Chop up the pepper quite finely, and put to one side. Mix a couple of tbsp of the good olive oil with the lime juice, some salt and pepper.

4. Heat up a griddle pan/heavy frying pan until it is almost smoking. Fry the chicken quickly until cooked through – this should take literally 2 minutes each side if you’ve flattened it out properly. This is a key tip, because allowing it to cook more quickly means you won’t be stuck with tough dry chicken, but yummy, spicy, flavourful chicken.

5. At this stage the bulgur wheat should be fairly tender, and most of the water/stock should be absorbed. Give it a stir, and add in the peppers, and the dressing. Toss in a few more torn up basil/coriander leaves, and mix well. Crumble over the feta cheese (as much or as little as you like, bearing in mind that it is salty, as are a good few elements of this dish). Finish with another squeeze of lime, and top with the chicken.

Ta da.




Prawn and Pak Choi Quick Coconut Curry

This one seems so luxurious, but is relatively easy, healthy and cheap to make. Before you roll your eyes, my tip is to check out the freezers in any of the Asian Supermarkets around town (Drury Street and Jervis are my favourites) where you’ll find bags of good quality shellfish that only cost a couple of euro. To be fair, it is cheaper to buy whole prawns and do the icky deshelling bit yourselves, but I understand that not everyone shares my idea of a fun evening, so feel free to buy pre-shelled prawns too. (so posh…)

Similarly, if you are making the trip to the Asian supermarket, pick up a huge bag of pak choi (a leafy green vegetable that tastes way way better than cabbage), and cheap tins of coconut milk. To be honest, you’d be mad to buy anything like soy sauce, rice, coconut milk or spice mixes anywhere else either – they really are much cheaper in the Asian supermarkets. For this, I use a red thai curry paste (often the Blue Dragon brand, or Pataks), so shop around and see which one you like – check the ingredient list and make sure the paste is made of pretty much real ingredients, and not chock-full of salt.

Just a note – if you are making this for a couple of days, make up the batch of sauce, but only add the amount of prawns and pak choi you are going to eat. You’ll see from the recipe that they only take minutes to cook, so add them fresh when you heat up the leftover sauce, as it is much nicer, and avoids scary reheating/bacteria issues.



5-6 raw, shelled prawns per person.

A couple of handfuls of pak choi.

1 small tin of coconut milk.

300ml water/chicken stock.

3 tbsp red thai curry paste.

2 cloves of garlic, crushed.

1 small onion/shallot, finely diced.

1 small red chilli, chopped.

Large handful of coriander, chopped.

1 tsp soy sauce.

Squeeze of lime.

1. Add a small amount of oil to a pan, and gently fry the onions and garlic. Do this on a low heat – you want them to soften, but not to crisp up. Add the chopped chilli, omitting the seeds if you don’t want too much heat. If ever you burn the garlic, toss it and start again – honestly, the taste of burnt garlic will permeate the entirety of your dish, and according to the Italians, is extremely bad for your digestive system.Just saying.

2. When the onions have softened, add the spice paste and cook for a few minutes. Again, take care not to have the heat too high, as you will burn the spices. However, in general, cooking out the spice paste is one of the key tips in making a nice curry – it really changes and mellows the flavour, allowing all the spices to release their natural oils. If you are worried about burning things, I was told to keep a glass of water handy, and throw some on the pan if it gets too hot.

3. Add the coconut milk, and as much water/stock as you like (300ml is a very rough guide). Some people prefer a more brothy-type curry, some a creamier consistency, so it is up to you. Add the soy sauce and the squeeze of lime, and taste – if you think it needs more of something, chuck it in.

4. Pop in the raw prawns, and cook for about 3 minutes. They will change from a grey colour to a bright pink, and firm up. Toss in the pak choi, and stir for one last minute until just wilted. Stir in the chopped coriander, and finish with a final squirt of lime.



Is there anything the Nordics don’t do better than the rest of us – healthcare, affordable furnishings, hit political dramas, beautiful children, and festive baking.. the list goes on. These buns are a sort-of take on St. Lucia buns, except I didn’t have any saffron, and I love love love the taste of wintery spices like cardamon. I used almost the exact recipe from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, swapping out the saffron for cardamon.



2 packages active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup heavy cream (I didn’t have any, and used 1/2 cup greek yoghurt – it seemed perfect)

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 tsp cardamon seeds (split the pod, and empty out the little black things)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Grated rind of 1/2 a clementine.

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, room temperature

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Egg wash glaze

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1. Pop the yeast in the bowl of a mixer with the warm water, and stir gently. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and stir again. Let the mixture stand until the yeast goes all foamy – this will take about 5 minutes.

2. Add the remaining sugar, the melted butter, the cream and milk, the spices, salt and finally the eggs. Beat the mixture well until combined.

3. Remove paddle attachment (normal cake-mixer cake) from mixer and fit with the dough hook. Add flour 1 cup at a time mixing well with each addition to keep the dough smooth and satiny. You may not need to use all of the flour.


4. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 190C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 26 even pieces. Roll each square into a long rope, and curl each end of a rope in opposite directions, creating an “S” swirly shape (for immaculately shaped St. Lucia buns, see sprinkle bakes)


7. For the glaze, beat the egg with the milk, and brush liberally on each bun.

7. Place sheets in a warm place for the second prove (rise) until doubled in size – this will take about 30-45 minutes.

8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy, cool on a wire rack. They freeze well, and only stay fresh for about 24 hours – after that, pop them in the oven/microwave to heat. They are even more delish with lemon curd.




Run run fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man…

Lol. Didn’t your mother never tell you not to play with your food?


These are totally posh gingerbread men – can they even be called that when they have no ginger in them? We are divided on that in the apartment – I think yes, because ‘biscuits-shaped-like-gingerbread-men’ doesn’t really sound that nice. But anyway, these are lime, chilli and dark chocolate ‘gingerbread’ men, and they are really delicious, and actually very simple to make. I got the idea when I was over visiting Ali, and her highly skilled Brazilian flatmates were making lime cookies that they kindly let me taste (seeing me almost drool). The chilli does the same as ginger, it is spicy but not too in your face. And then the chocolate is just the obvious addition. You could package them up and give them as presents – super cheap chic.



250g butter, softened

140g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tsp mild chilli powder

Zest of 1-2 limes (depends on how limey you like it)

300g plain flour

1. Mix 250g softened butter and 140g caster sugar in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.

2. Add 1 egg yolk and 1 tsp chilli powder and briefly beat to combine. Mix in the lime zest.

3. Sift in the 300g plain flour and stir (not beat) until the mixture is well combined – you might need to get your hands in at the end to give everything a really good mix and press the dough together. I actually did this all in a food processor, and it works a treat.

4. Flour your work surface and your rolling pin – roll out the dough until it is about 1cm thick. Cut out into whatever shape you like (we used 2 lids to make makeshift snowmen, pressing the two discs together before baking.) Pop them on lined flat baking trays, giving a reasonable amount of space for spread-age.

5. Bake in a preheated oven (190C) for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

6. Melt chocolate and then follow your heart’s desire – #yolo.






Rachel Allen’s Bakewell cake

This is a very easy but seriously yummy cake from Rachel Allen’s CAKE. I love cakes that come in loaf tins also – the are easy to throw into a lunch box, and they look like they might be healthy (we even call banana bread bread, when it is clearly cake). Most people love bakewell tart, but few have the patience to faff around with pastry, jam AND cake in one baking sesh. Even I’d be bored. So this is a good compromise – the general gist of a bakewell tart in one, quick and dirty batter. Enjoy.


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the sides of a 20cm cake tin/2lb loaf tin and line the base with baking paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and the almond extract together in a jug for a few seconds (literally just to break up the eggs) then gradually add the eggs to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time. Don’t add the eggs all at once – it will go weird and grainy.

3. Next beat in the milk. Add the flour and ground almonds, carefully folding these in just until they are mixed – don’t beat after you add the flour or you will activate the gluten and your cake will be tough, and you’ll be attacked by ninjas and end up on the street etc. Add the raspberries and fold in gently so as not to break them up too much.

4. Plop the batter into the prepared tin, then scatter over the flaked almonds. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 mins then remove the cake from the tin, scoring around the edges with a knife if it needs a little coaxing. Leave on a wire rack to cool down completely before trying to move it. Serve with cream, or greek yoghurt and some soft berries.


Friday Five Things: Links I love…

This week has been wild – with essay deadlines looming and a host of other commitments taking over, I’ve allowed radio silence to take over on this front 😛 But nonetheless, I am sharing 5 food links that made me smile, snigger or salivate this week. Happy weekend!

1. Sprinkle Bakes is the place to go when you want inspiration for something sweet – you can be content in the knowledge that no human has ever created cakes as beautiful and creative as she has, but reach for the stars, right? I loved the look of this Cranberry and Orange Chiffon cake and to be fair, this one looks more attainable than usual 🙂

2. Another one of my regular reads – Ketty Elisabeth (aka French Foodie in Dublin) lets us in on her favourite places for hot chocolate in Dublin. I pretty much agree with her on all fronts, though I’ve never tried the hot choc in Murphy’s ice-cream parlour. Next week?

3. Christmas on the Square:


4. I came across a picture of these on pinterest, and clicked through to find a mecca of gingerbread/biscuit ideas. I am not sure I’ve the skill or patience to ever make these, but how great do they look?

5. Nothing makes a bad day better like Nutella – I leave you to dream:


Friday Five things: Recipe Books

Like I say on the home page, I’ve always adored cookbooks. I can remember every page of my first ever book, giant sized and full of funny-face ‘pizzas’ made on bread rolls, and gingerbread men. The thing with food blogs, and Pinterest, and social media in general, is that the best recipe books have had to adapt to a changing market place – these books are not sellable for their content alone, anyone can google and get 5000 recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Now, it has to be about more than the recipe – books curate sounds, smells and tastes onto the printed page, tell a story about the writer and what food means in her life. And for someone like me, who thinks about food the majority of the time, this is ideal – to get to know another cook, another food culture or place. All cook books were not created equal, but similarly, different books obviously cater (lol) to different needs. Dare I mention that coming up to Christmas, this may serve as a handy guide for the foodie (reluctant or otherwise) in your life. Let me know in the comments which books you treasure, or those you’ve put in your letter to Santi. Have a lovely weekend…

1. The Desert Island Book

If I never had another cookery book or recipe in my life, I would persist contentedly with the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book. This sizeable tome contains just about everything you’d ever think to make, and in classic Ballymaloe style is both clear and fairly foolproof. Mine is covered in random globs of potato gratin, and coffee cake batter, which I suppose is a good sign!



2. For the young hip thing

I wrote before about how much I loved Wahaca, which I visited for the first time this summer. However, I already knew that Thomisina Miers (the proprietress) was on to something good, as I bought her book for my sisters birthday (classic self-gifting). We’ve cooked lots from this book, firm favourites being the Chicken sweetcorn soup, the Mexican wedding cookies, and the Lime and Ricotta cake, as well as the divine pork pibil recipe.



3. For the cook who has all the usual suspects

I was given a gift of this book by wonderful friends, and already it is a firm favourite. This is my favourite type of cook book is that you could read as a novel – the photography is beautiful, the written extremely evocative, and the subject matter terribly interesting. For anyone even mildly interested in world affairs, Jerusalem has always been an enigma of a city, with layer upon layer of religious, historical and cultural importance. Here, we discover how this has impacted on the cuisine and food culture of the city. A definite recommendation.

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4. For the baker

The Hummingbird books are the ones I always turn to when I am feel like making something sweet – they contain all the usual suspects, but also have some really interesting ideas such as lavender cupcakes, or guinness and chocolate pound cake. Also, I would sell limbs for their rocky road – containing over a kilo of chocolate, you’d better believe it is addictive. You’ve been warned 😛



5. The Newcomer

I was given a copy of this book at a most wonderful event for Irish food bloggers in Dublin Cookery School, and already I’ve tried out a few of the recipes to great success. Written by Lynda Booth who runs DCS, and inspired by her travels and experiences in kitchens around the world, this book runs the gamut from simple sponge cakes to traditional naan bread, to fresh pasta. Interspersed with lovely photographs and engaging stories about meeting different masters of cuisine, it could definitely be a good choice for your favourite foodie.