Category Archives: Food

Gur Cake comes to Monaghan

Standard

I’m looking forward to displaying my hand made glass at this weekend’s Taste of Monaghan festival.  It’s a chance to combine my two great passions… my glass work, and of course, food!

I don’t know about you, but I know my own childhood memories are peppered with food associations.  Any other Dubs out there (that is, people from Dublin, Ireland), at least those of a certain vintage, will remember Gur Cake.  The name supposedly comes from the slang word ‘gurrier’ – a young Dublin rascal!  In fact, Gur Cake is the same as Chester Cake or Fruit Slice.

It was created long ago, and is cheap and easy to make.  I suspect it was developed to make something sweet and satisfying out of leftovers… with our current economic status, maybe this is the perfect time to bring it back, although it may never have gone away!

It’s hard to be specific with a recipe, as every bakery, and family, had their own take on Gur Cake.  At its simplest, it is a mixture of bread and fruit, baked in a roasting dish, between two layers of pastry.  When cool, it is cut into generous slabs, and is filling and satisfying!  Here’s how to go about it… experiment and find a recipe to suit yourselves!

Break up a small white loaf (or cake or brioche), stale is fine, in a bowl.  Add enough liquid to bind.  I used about a quarter pint of milk… but think of tea, espresso, perhaps a dollop of brandy, or Irish whisky! Add a beaten egg, 500g dried fruit, a cup of caster sugar, the grated rind and juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of mixed spice, a spoonful of treacle to give it its traditional dark colour, and mix it all up.

Roll out enough shortcrust pastry to cover the base of a deep, square baking dish, or roasting tray.  Spoon the gur filling on top, and cover with another layer of shortcrust pastry.  Prick the top with a fork, brush with beaten egg, and bake in a moderate oven (about 180C) for about 40 minutes.

When cool, dust with icing sugar if you’d like, cut into squares… and enjoy!  Serve it up to a Dub near you, and listen to them reminisce!

Image

A Little Bowl of Sunshine on a Wintery Day

Standard

Any of you who really know me will know that I’m a BIG fan of the Irish lifestyle store, Avoca.  I love everything about Avoca, specially their Kilmacanogue store, and most especially the FOOD!

So here’s one of Avoca’s great recipes from their first cookbook: Tomato, Lentil & Orange Soup.  My only complaint about it, is that it doesn’t make enough soup to satisfy a family, so I usually triple the ingredients!

This soup is gorgeous, and simple to make.  It’s good enough for lunch, for dinner, for a special starter… it’s even good enough to cheer anyone up on this miserable, wet, wintery day!  Make it, and enjoy!

1 onion, peeled and chopped
50g butter
1 orange
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed
400g can chopped tomatoes
50g red lentils
300ml vegetable stock

Gently cook the onion in the butter for 10 minutes without browning.  (Meanwhile, grate the zest from the orange, then peel it, and chop the flesh.)
Add the garlic to the pot, stir, then add the orange zest and orange pieces, along with the tomatoes, lentils and stock.  Stir the pot, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.  Stir from time to time, so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Puree in a blender, then reheat gently and season to taste.  You may need to add a little boiling water, as it gets pretty thick!

Dress with chopped fresh mint, if you have it, and serve, for instant warmth!

Tomato, Lentil & Orange Soup

A little bowl of sunshine for a winter’s day!

 

Lunch in Galway

Standard
McCambridges of Shop St., Galway

Lucky lunchtime feasters!

Just the quickest note. Delighted to share my new foodie find…the wonderful McCambridge’s on Shop St in Galway.  Thoughtful food served in a great atmosphere by efficient and helpful staff! I had a delish salad with tuna, pine nuts, leaves including basil, and asparagus – more for a feeling of luxury than anything else – with a tahini dressing.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a very tempting island laden down with lovely-looking bakes, but I resisted!
That’s the good news. But the reason for my pitstop trip to Galway is to collect some glass pieces from the amazing ‘TANK Granny Likes It‘ pop-up shop on Upper Abbeygate St. The shop is the brainchild of businesswoman Rona O’Reilly, and no doubt her TANK emporium of Irish craft will be popping up again soon!
Watch this space!

A Rainbow of Food in a Typical Irish Summer!

Standard

With one fabulously sunny day in an Irish summer likely to be remembered as something of a washout, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation in my mind…it was time for a barbecue.
I should explain here for those who don’t already know me…I’m a foodie. A ‘gastronaut’. A gourmande. A connoseur of fine food – and drink. Or so I like to think anyway!  In short, I love food!
Like most of us, I think, many of my childhood memories include food, and all celebrations involve feasting.
Well, the rare appearance of the sun is as good an excuse for a celebration as any other, and a barbecue at our house is always a feast fit for a king!
I could talk about the meat, and yes there was meat aplenty. Chicken, burgers, sausages, and our very own lovely lamb chops. But my favourite part of a BBQ is the salad assortment, and that’s what I’m going to share with you today.
I always make a mountain of potato salad, using Avoca’s recipe. It’s the family’s favourite BBQ accompaniment, without a doubt. I took the first new potatoes of the season, scrubbed but not peeled, I boiled them, and while still hot, dressed with a little French dressing. Then you just add mayonnaise, maybe some fresh mint if you have it, and a dollop of natural yogurt to keep it fresh-flavoured.

image

Next, my favourite…taboullet. Call it what you like, but it’s gorgeous and easy peasy to make. If you’ve never considered Bulgar Wheat, then it’s time you did. It’s like a crunchier version of cous cous. Just boil the kettle, pour over the grain and leave it for 15 minutes. It’ll have plumped  up and be ready to eat. I added loads of chopped up fresh coriander and mint, little cucumber cubes, lemon juice and a bit of dressing. Plenty of black pepper of course. Yum yum!

image

Time for a bit of colour.  Just throw whatever tinned beans you’ve got into a bowl. I used kidney beans, but you can use chick peas, black eyed beans, haricot beans or even a tin of baked beans – rinsed – if you’re stuck. Rinse your beans in a colander first, then throw them in a bowl with a chopped up red pepper, a stick or two of celery chopped fine, a crushed clove of garlic, a rinsed tin of sweetcorn, and a splash of French dressing.  Mix it up, and admire the rainbow colours just waiting to be gobbled up!

image

Next for a little experiment.  I recently enjoyed a delicious dinner at Concra Wood Golf Club, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, of pork ribs served with a side of celeriac coleslaw.  It was delicious, and I resolved to try it at home.  So I peeled and grated a celeriac.  A what?  It’s the fat, ugly cousin of celery.  Looks a bit like a turnip with acne, poor thing, but tastes great!  Anyway, I grated a carrot or two, and mixed the two together with lashings of mayonnaise, and a bit of lemon juice.  Next time, I’ll grate even finer, but the taste was good!

image

With a mixed green salad, and a few cherry tomatoes, I was happy without even the meat! A big glass of shandy – or Panache as our gourmet French friends call it – rounds it off as a serious summer feast. Who needs the Sun?!

image