Don’t Cha

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Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 11:52 pm  Comments (1)  
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C is for Cookie

cookie-monster-20080603-133713

My lil’ brother is currently making these. If an eleven year old can do it, so can you. From the Avoca cookbook.

Y’all gonna need

225g butter, unsalted/salted, don’t matter

225g caster sugar

1 egg yolk

They want you to put 1-2 drops vanilla extract, I wouldn’t bother cos vanilla is propa sick.

250g plain flour

1/2 level tsp bread soda

125g milk choc chips

125g dark choc chips

Then…

  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. Sieve in flour and breadsoda, mix in chips.
  2. Shape into a long thick shape…like a tube of pringles. Wrap this in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour or so.
  3. Oven to 170°c. Cut tube into slices and place on a lined baking tray. Cook for 20-25 mins.
  4. Stuff yo face.

cookies-main_Full

Mummy’s sweet white scones

Today was a very lovely day. Went to Le Palais des Thés on Wicklow St and smelled all their delicious teas. They give wee free samples of a different tea everyday, today’s was a green chai with a tinge of ginger. Then, sticking with the French theme, to Léon for coffee and pastries.

lepalaisdesthes

Came home and had a strange urge to make scones. This is Darina Allen’s method, and it’s the ultimate mammy’s scone recipe. Once you’ve had one of these babies you’ll never be able to eat a bought scone again.

This will make c.20 scones. “What would I do with 20 scones?!” You’ll think of something…

Yummy for my tummy

900g plain flour

50g caster sugar

3 heaped tsp baking power

175g butter

110 plump juicy sultanas

3 eggs

450ml milk

extra egg for glazing if ya want shiny scones

  1. Heat oven to 230/250 for non fan.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour and baking power. Stir in sugar and sultanas. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Whisk milk and eggs together. Pour slowly into well. Mix together to form a dough.
  4. Knead lightly. Roll out to an inch thick, cut into scone shapes, pop onto baking tray. No need to grease tray, just rub a bitta flour on it.
  5. Bake in oven for about ten-ish minutes/ til golden brown.
  6. Stuff yo face.

scones

Published in: on May 19, 2009 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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No experiments at the Guinea Pig, but still delivers results

Guinea Pig, Dalkey

4.5/5

The Guinea Pig is the sort of restaurant I imagine characters in Agatha Christie novels would eat in. I can see them scraping their silverware across the plates and speaking in hushed voices about that dreadful business down at the Old Rectory. In reality, the clientele are a mixed bunch. To my left, I overheard a stately old woman remark to her sombre husband that the place hadn’t changed the seventies. He agreed, punctuating his nods with mutterings of “delicious, delicious”. On the table to the right, a group in their mid twenties discussed who wanted in on the weed tomorrow, and who could roll. Everyone looked completely at home.

The rooms manage to capture the comfortable familiarity of an old friend’s house. Seats are squishy, table decoration is unfussy and the staff are friendly without being obtrusive. We had the Early Bird menu, which at €24.50 (excluding dessert) is a bit pricey for the average student pocket. For a birthday or a special occasion however, it might be worth splashing out.

Though it is primarily a fish restaurant, there is a wide selection on the Early Bird menu, with eight starters and twelve mains to choose from. Our table ordered half the starters and the fish mixed grill, braised lamb shank, sirloin steak, stuffed chicken and honey roast half duck for mains. There was an extra change of five euro for the duck and the steak.

The menu choice may seem familiar, but it is the execution of the dishes which sets this restaurant apart. Deep fried mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise can be bought in chippers and dodgy cafes across the country, but these were a different species entirely. Crisp, hot and juicy, these mushrooms were as close to perfect as they could possibly be. Their sweetness was perfectly offset by the garlicky zing of the homemade mayonnaise. The spring rolls were a little on the small side, but delicate and decidedly moreish. P thought that the chowder was only “fine”, and C had the melon, which mercifully had not been turned into a fan, but was served chopped with small pieces of kiwi and mandarin.

Then came the main event. Portions are generous, as they should be. Pretentious morsels of pretentious food are on the out. It’s dark days. We want comfort food and warm full tummies. Honey-roast duck with apricot sauce is always in danger of turning into a syrupy sweet disaster, but this was not to be. The duck was tender and delicious. Apricots can be bitter, but their tartness was expertly balanced by the sweetness of the honey. All elements taken together, it was the best duck I’ve ever had.

D had steak, which was cooked as specified and tender. Braised lamb shank was not much to look at, but I was assured of its deliciousness. M was less than impressed with the size of the fish on her fish grill, but found them well cooked. F had no comment to make on the chicken. I think may have found the whiskey sauce a little rich, but as he is only eleven this is perhaps to be expected.

Main courses are served with a communal bowl of vegetables and a bowl of chips. The other options are salad or potatoes, but to choose salad over vegetables would be to miss one of the greatest parts of the whole meal. I will admit to having a bit of a “thing” for veg, and it breaks my heart to be served bendy lukewarm carrot sticks and grey broccoli over and over again, ruining otherwise perfectly pleasant meals with their desecrated limbs. The Buttery is a repeat offender. The Guinea Pigs’ crunchy carrots, mangetout, beansprouts and courgette are to the Buttery’s pallid offerings what a lambourgini is to a pair of broken rollerskates. I can’t get enough.

The dessert tray is then brought out. This is rather crafty. As dessert is extra and one is already uncomfortably full, the average customer might think to forgo dessert and head straight for coffee. But wafting a tray of mouthwatering cakes and strudels and so on under one’s nose brings out the Bruce Bogtrotter in one, so we all had dessert. It was great. Presentation isn’t the best, but who cares when every mouthful feels like it was baked by granny with love. The homemade ice-cream tastes like wandering around Rome at night, strawberry is especially good. We all had tea, which was served in a nice big pot, none of your stingy one cup one bag rubbish. The label swinging from the side was Barry’s Gold Blend. Keeping it real.

map to guinea pig

Guinea Pig — The Fish Restaurant

17 Railway Road,
Dalkey,
Co. Dublin,
Ireland

+353 (0)1 285-9055

http://www.guineapig.dalkey.info/

Thing a Day for the summer starts with a bang. Not a whimper. Definitely not a whimper.

On the recommendation of Dave, I’ve decided to treat y’all to a daily blog. Bear with me while I figure out pleasing layout styles/learn how to be witty, erudite and entertaining.

As it currently stands, the present plan is: 1/ Do something everyday, and 2/ write it down, à la thing-a-day.com, diylife.com etc.

This may prove too much though, time will tell.

Today’s exciting task

As this brainwave only hit me late in the day, I decided to start with something not too arduous. Don’t wanna burn bright and burn out on the very first one. Baby steps.

Fairycakes seemed like the perfect option as they are infinitely easy. They are not, however, infinitely edible. I can attest to this as I have now eaten about six, and also approx half a stick of butter in the form of buttercream icing. Feeling rather odd.

Fairytale fairycake.

For those who simply cannot wait to make their own, here’s what needs to be done.

First, get your filthy paws on

  • 125g sugar, flour, softish butter (unsalted for choice, but whatever’s clever)
  • 2 eggs (protein!)
  • 2-3 tbsp milk (calcium!)
  • You can also add 1-2 drops vanilla essence if you want to ruin your cakes with it.
  • an oven, set to 200°c
  • electric whisk, bun tray, bowl, spoon, wire tray
  • deadly bun cases, sprinkles, icing sugar and other frivolities

Assemble troops on workboard. Then:

1/ Get a bowl. Put the first four things in it. Blitz the shit out of it with electric whisk.

2/Add milk. Blitz again.

3/ Spoon mix into bun cases on bun tray. Put in oven for 15ish minutes. Take out, put on wire tray.

4/ Decorate in suitably childish manner.

I made buttercream, or butter icing, and experimented with a homemade piping bag for mine. For those who don’t know, butter icing is basically half soft butter and half normal icing sugar mashed together. So when you see those cutsie cupcakes in magazines, the three inch swirl on top is nothing but nothing but sugar and fat. Yummers.

I won’t bother explaining the piping bag as I constructed it using only grease-proof paper and the power of my imagination. Needless to say, it quickly exploded.

Anyways, I soon grew tired of that careful decorating lark, as illustrated below.

More abstract versions.

More abstract versions.

Who knows what wonders tomorrow will bring?

Published in: on May 10, 2009 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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