Posted in I'm Enjoying

{Gimme the Recipe} News & Mentions

So Autumn has had plenty to offer so far and there’s lots going on over the coming weeks too.

…. Raymond Blanc.
Raymond Blanc
Seeing Raymond Blanc of Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons in action at The Mill Restaurant at Blarney on 12th September was a wonderful privilege and though he may have been there to promote his range of cookware – Raymond Blanc by Anolon he was not holding back when it came to sharing his love of good food and good ingredients.  Imagine a cross between Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino, all fired up giving their most passionate and animated performance but in a genuine French accent – irresistably charming and charismatic.  Raymond cooks and makes it look effortless and simple and he embraces the ingredients as he goes along, or chastises them as needs be, for example the not very fresh egg or the forced tomato.  He doesn’t just demonstrate but teaches and shares, truly wanting to gift you with everything he knows to help you become a better cook.  If ever you have the opportunity, go see him.  He is not to be missed.

…. Gwen’s Chocolate.
Gwens Chocs
If you ever pass through Schull in West Cork stop off here at Gwen’s Chocolates for a delightfully decadent experience of french patisserie and chocolaterie.  Indulge and linger over coffee in the spacious and comfortable surrounds and if you have children and they are old enough I suggest you ditch them, perhaps dispatching them with an ice-cream so that you can take a while to escape.  Children I have discovered do not get ‘relaxing’, they do not understand that your bum on a seat with a quiet cup of coffee and maybe a newspaper is sometimes your destination.  I have learned that for them, sitting there and ‘relaxing’ is not something they will master for many years to come.  When children sit they are ‘waiting’ not ‘relaxing’ and you will be asked where are we going or what are we doing next.  These are not questions you want to even contemplate because in that precious relaxed time there is no next there is only now. So enjoy.

…..  Ould Lammas Fair
Now I wasn’t there myself this year but as my mother hails from the Northern end of the country I’ve been to this two-day market fair in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim many a time as a kid.  This August my sisters visited and they brought me back the following traditional goodies ; Yellow Man, Dulse and Honeycomb.
Yellow ManYellow Man

….  Irish Quality Food Awards
IrishQFA awards
I spent a gorgeous evening as a guest of the first Irish Quality Food Awards held on Wednesday 18th September at the Round Room, Mansion House, Dublin.  I’m sure the organisers must be very pleased with how it all went and the food on the night was delicious.  Neven Maguire was a superb host and I’m sure the winners are treasuring their awards, speaking of whom…. the Irish Quality Food Awards winners are here.
….  Galway Bake Fest
Bake Fest Galway
Bake Fest Galway is a family centred event with a strong focus on re-instilling traditions and time spent together when baking. n Bake Fest Galway takes place Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th of October 2013. Organised by Goodness Cakes, in association with charity ACT for Meningitis, Bake Fest Galway will be Ireland’s biggest baking festival and competition for both novices and professionals Top Chefs Lilly Higgins and Patrick Ryan get a helping hand from Noel Carroll of ACT for Meningitis as they get ready for Bake Fest Galway.
Bake Fest Galway 2
All funds generated at Bake Fest Galway are being given to ACT for Meningitis.
….  The Riot of Colour Afternoon Tea at Harvey Nichols
Riot of Colour Afternoon Tea Harvey Nichols
Sometimes you just want to steal away and treat yourself.  Perhaps it’s your birthday or you want to spend a nice quiet afternoon with your mom or a friend.  If I were Dublin based I’d be coming up with some excuse as to why I had to visit Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre and when there enjoy ‘The Riot of Colour Afternoon Tea’.  It is priced at €22.50 per person, €27.50 per person with a box of Riot of Colour afternoon tea to take home or €30 per person with a glass of Harvey Nichols Champagne so it definitely is something that if you indulge you will want to savour and enjoy. It is available until the end of October in the First Floor Brasserie at Harvey Nichols Dublin.  To book call 01 2910488.

Savour Kilkenny!
A favourite of the food festivals amongst food bloggers, Savour Kilkenny gets underway in Kilkenny from October 23rd – 28th. If you are a food blogger yourself you might like to take part in or attend Food Camp and you can find out all about this and the other goings on over at (
Savour Kilkenny Food Festival 2_opt

Taste your way around the Food Village on the Parade in front of magnificent Kilkenny Castle, pick up tips from top chefs and check out the next generation of upcoming foodies at the Savour Buds young producers’ market.
Savour Kilkenny Food Festival 3_opt

Check out the many other fantastic food festivals around the country at
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Baking Day

Hallowe’en Teabrack

“When times are hard people look for comfort, people look for something that is close to them.” – John McKenna on the topic of Digging Ireland out of Recession at Savour Kilkenny FoodCamp, 22nd October 2010.

And what could be more comforting than the smell of baking filling the house or more warming than a cup of tea in the ‘good’ china cup?  A lot has changed since the downturn hit our economy and while undeniably hard, there has been a shift away from the bullion worship and back to our traditions.  Why have I made a Christmas Cake for the first time in 10 years?  Why did my kids never get to wrap up the coin, the rag, the pea, the stick and the ring and make a wish as they got stirred into the hallowe’en brack until yesterday?

For me the recession has been a cliched wake-up call.  A realisation that although my local supermarket may be more expensive than the competition, it is my local supermarket.  It is a supermarket yes, but it is a supermarket that stocks Irish and local products, employs local people and is 100% Irish owned.

When I get the opportunity to shop in farmer’s markets I do that and yes there is comfort in buying that handmade bread or cheese.  To quote John again “Speciality foods convey intrinsic values..goodness, honesty, community, family.”

Along with a self-made commitment to buy Irish and local as much as possible I have also rediscovered home-baking over the past couple of years.  It is fun, it is comforting and it is traditional.  I’ve no idea where the origins of this teabrack recipe lie as it was one that I’d scribbled on the back of an envelope but it is full of plump, warm, tea bathed fruit, scented with the zest and juice  of an orange and is comfort in a mouthful.  (The fruit needs to soak overnight.)

You Will Need:

300g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, raisins, currants)
225ml hot tea
One orange
50g butter
125g light brown sugar
1 egg
225g self-raising flour
A ring, a pea, a rag, a stick &  a coin all wrapped in parchment paper.
Juice and zest the orange and make up the hot tea.
Place the dried fruit in a bowl and pour over the juice, zest and the hot tea and leave to soak overnight covered with a tea towel.
Heat oven to 180C, Gas Mark 4.
Lightly grease a loaf tin and line the base with parchment paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg and the flour.
Stir in the fruit mixture (including tea and oj) and pour into the loaf tin.
Note: Tradition in our house was to make a wish as each child got to stir the mixture and the wrapped treasures are added. 
Bake for 1 hour.  Test the mixture with a skewer and it if comes away clean the cake is cooked.
Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

Truffle Oil & Florentines

Don’t worry, I’m not losing the run of myself here and turning fancy.  These are just two of the things that came back with me from Dublin last weekend, well kind of.  The truffle oil isn’t actually pure truffle oil but a very little bottle (55ml) of what was labeled ‘White Truffle Condiment in Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ so not a hugely extravagant purchase.  I’m sure it will stay in the bottle for quite a while before I get around to using it eventually meanwhile I’m picturing risotto, white wine and mushrooms.  I bought my truffle/olive oil in Harvey Nichols Foodmarket at Dundrum shopping centre and loved the experience. There aren’t too many places where you browse, don’t buy very much and are offered a glass of wine – Chablis – while you shop.

And what was I doing in Dublin? Well along with the purchases I was also stuffing my brain with terms like epub, smashwords, inkwell, quark, stitch bound, UV Glossed, A.I. (not, after all artificial insemination), createspace, shortrun (not exercise), prosumer, typeset, high res, spot gloss, running heads, drop cap etc. Yes, I’ve been on a publishing course. It was very worthwhile and I really enjoyed the day despite having to monitor my phone for updates on the 8 year old who’d fallen and broken his arm in my absence!

I don’t know if I should admit to this or not, but I had travelled up by train on Friday and on my return journey on Saturday evening the conductor looked at my ticket and directed me to a carriage on the left. When I arrived at the carriage the inspector there asked if I was on first class and when I said no he examined my ticket and said that actually yes I was! So be careful with your mouse out there when you’re booking online and in a hurry. Although I do think now it was fate as I hardly noticed when the ‘Munster’ fans boarded the train in Limerick for a jubilant return to Cork and was able to work away quietly undisturbed. I was putting some thoughts together for the Foodcamp event that’s part of Savour Kilkenny ( on Friday of this week. I’m discussing the merits of breakfast cereals and in the name of research forced myself to revisit porridge this week, which with a good helping of stewed apples is quite delicious.

The Florentines (& some giant Avoca cookies for the kids) were a gift from my hosts and chauffeurs in Dublin. (Thanks so much Grainne & Louise). I don’t think I’d ever eaten a Florentine before and have since come across a recipe. They’re delicious and with the nuts and cherries perfect for (..dare I mention it..) Christmas.