It’s that time of year….

I know it may seem a bit early to talk about the “C-word”….Christmas. But if you want to make your own christmas pudding, christmas cake or mincemeat for those divine mince pies, its time to get your skates on.

Today I am sharing my recipe for the best mincemeat I have tried. Its a combination of several recipes I have tried over the years and the flavour is exactly what I like in a minced pie. You can find the recipe for my mince pie pastry here in a few weeks time, I cant make any before Christmas really kicks in now can I?!

Christmas Mincemeat:


Make 1 large kilner jar or 3-4 regular jars

  • 600g mix raisins, currants, sultanas and glace cherries (I tend to use about 50gs of these for sweetness)
  • 250g shredded suet (I use vegetarian)
  • 250g dark muscovado sugar
  • 85g mixed chopped peel
  • grating nutmeg to taste (I like a lot!)
  • 1/4 tsp mixed spice
  • grated zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 1 Bramley apple
  • 100 – 150ml whisky
  1. This is as simple as stirring everything together and allowing it to mature! Pop everything except the apple and whisky into a bowl and mix until well combined.
  2. Grate in the apple and stir through the rest of the mixture.
  3. Next add the whisky, the mixture should be just wet so that it starts to get sticky as you stir through it. You don’t want too much whisky as it would give you soggy bottom minced pies!
  4. Put the mixture into jars and allow to marinate for a few weeks. You can make this closer to Christmas but I find it really needs at least 2 weeks to be ready and 4 weeks to be great!

Bread Baking Adventures

I mentioned a little while ago that we were given the most wonderful wedding gift by two lovely friends. The gift involved a drive to a remote pier in West Cork, a tiny ferry and a ride in a rickety island land rover which all added to the charm that was our day at the Firehouse Bread School on Heir Island. The school is fully booked for the rest of 2015 so you can see how lucky we were to have such lovely friends!!

The bakery is run by Patrick Ryan and Laura Moore in a beautiful cottage with even more stunning views, that is home to Laura’s family and now the bakery too! Can you think of a more beautiful place to spend a day baking?

Views of Roaringwater Bay from the back door!

Views of Roaringwater Bay from the back door!

The day started with sourdough, a bread I have tried to make many times and failed spectacularly. Patrick made it seem easy and by the end of the day we were all enthralled with our lovely loaves!

Sourdough Army!

Sourdough Army!

There was a myriad other bakes to be undertaken, both sweet and savoury: Cinnamon buns, various soda breads (my favourite were bacon and cheese soda muffins!), delicious white yeast bread savoury pinwheels stuffed with mozzarella and roasted peppers, apple and cider sodas and by far my favourite bake of the day – potato, garlic and rosemary bread – the potato starch somehow makes the bread so soft and fluffy! Its delicious!

Spectacular Cinnamon Rolls as produced by Mr Happy Healthy!

Spectacular Cinnamon Rolls as produced by Mr Happy Healthy! Baguettes, savoury pinwheels & various soda loaves in the background were all equally yummy!

We came away laden with loaves and full tummies from the lovely lunch Laura had prepared for us! I could not recommend more attending a day either on Heir Island (If they can fit you!) or in the bakery in Delagany, Co Wicklow. Even my lovely new husband, who could hardly be called wild about baking, enjoyed every minute. Patrick helps you approach every stage of bread making calmly and explains everything you could need to know to recreate brilliant bread at home.

My little flowerpot loaves of Potato, Rosemary and Garlic bread

My little flowerpot loaves of Potato, Rosemary and Garlic bread

And after!

And after!

Patrick extolling the virtues of the fabulous wood burning oven!

Patrick extolling the virtues of the fabulous wood burning oven!

Gradually expanding table of deliciousness!

Gradually expanding table of deliciousness! Even more bakes appeared after this picture!

Home baked breads are now a regular occurrence in our house, free from all the rubbish in processed sliced pans and taste so much better too.

This Weeks Loaf

This Weeks Loaf

Boats, Bites and Bait

Cork loves an auld festival! There is rarely a weekend that goes by that there isnt some form of pop up event in or around the city and county. From the Irish Redhead Convention hosted in Crosshaven every year to the International Jazz Festival, Glow Cork Christmas Celebration and every little food festival in between.


One of the most recent arrivals was Sounds from a Safe Harbour, a festival celebrating “themes of waves, water and movement” as its inspiration, coinciding with the ever popular annual Culture Night. There was so much to choose from, events hosted by venues throughout the city and on Sunday, we ventured to a small few.


Bait was a pop-up restaurant in B8 bonded warehouse on the Port of Cork quays curated by the wonderful Rocketman Presents team. This same team hosted Our Table, a long table dinner running the length of Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork city back in June. So much innovation and excitement with food! How could we not go!

Dinners were held in Bait on Friday night with Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe presenting an evening of seafood spectacle on Friday as “Fish on Friday”. Saturday night was the turn of Caitlin Ruth of Deasy’s in Clonakilty and by all reports it was another fantastic evening.


The final day was hosted by The Rocket Man himself and boy was it tasty. Tables of 4 were served beautiful seafood and tasty freshly baked breads alongside coffee and a smoked bloody mary! As an experience it was second to none and the food highlighted just how lucky we are here in Ireland to be surrounded by wonderful produce from the sea. If the estival goes ahed again next year, book early! Its worth it!

New England Honeymoon

Anyone who knows me personally will tell you New England and me go hand in hand, which makes it so funny that I had never been there – until now.  I have always wanted to spend time in New England and have always loved everything that people associate with that part of the world: Seafood, Boats, Stripes, Seaside cottages. I have always found myself inspired by these things; our home, our wedding and our lives are surrounded by elements of New England. We are just back from our wonderful Honeymoon exploring the delights of Cape Cod and beyond and it was worth the wait! We rented a cottage on the beach for one week and then did some travelling to Nantucket and Newport, other pretty parts of New England.

The food was as good as I could have imagined. Its such an exciting place for food with so much fresh produce, wonderful artisans and of course, coastal cuisine that is a force to be reckoned with. We pretty much ate our way round the honeymoon and now have rolled home totally inspired! Here are just a few beautiful pictures to inspire you too. Another bonus for you all, we were given a fabulous camera as a wedding gift so hopefully my photography skills will be developed further and may actually resemble something decent eventually!

Chatham Lighthouse

Chatham Lighthouse


Clambake on the beach – Lobsters, clams, potatoes and corn all buried in a sandpit and baked!


And me tucking into the results of the clambake!


Yes, that is a whale feeding next to the boat we were on!


My wonderful new husband and I


Lovely quaint food stores along Route 6


Lobster Roll heaven


We visited A LOT of lighthouses


Dream Home on the beach


Artsy beach shot


Even more lobster!


Chatham Bandstand concert – So lovely and so American!


Brant Point Nantucket


Brant Point up close!


Beautiful Nantucket Sunset


Beautiful Boston Brownstone


Sunset in Newport Harbour

There are so many reasons I love being home in Cork. We all know that I extoll the virtues of Irish food ad nauseum, but a significant role is played by the stunning countryside and coastline on which my daily life plays out. I think, growing up in a place makes you almost immune, or at least complacent, to the positive attributes a place can have. It wasn’t until I left here that I began to see what so many people across the world appreciate and long for. We really are blessed with our lot here in Ireland (despite the rain!)

When the sun shines in Ireland, it can really be magnificent.

 When the sun shines in Ireland, it can really be magnificent.

While London is full of exciting and vibrant food that changes at an unbelievable pace, there is something so comforting about food in and around West Cork, Kerry and all along the Wild Atlantic Way. Food businesses here focus on using the wonderful produce from the region to create simple, wonderful dishes that showcase how lucky we are here with quality of our food.

There are businesses that have barely changed their menus in 20 years and yet people keep flocking back. I often find myself wondering about whether it is tradition that brings these visitors, amazing food, or a combination of the two? I think the stunning scenery has no small part to play in so many locations but it certainly is not the only factor.

Here are a few of my favourite places along our beautiful coastline:

Monks Lane, Timoleague:

IMG_1522This unassuming little spot in Timoleague was mentioned to me on more than one occasion as a must try if I was “down that way”. I am so glad I took that advice up. What looks like an old Irish pub from the outside is actually a fresh and vibrant restaurant with the most wonderful courtyard and food celebrating West Cork.

Its perfect for a long lazy lunch in the sunshine or a celebratory Sunday lunch. I think what I loved most about this spot was the fabulous service. I am rarely blown away by service in Ireland but the welcome, efficiency and friendliness of all the staff was really outstanding.

West Cork Platter

                           West Cork Platter

For food, I had a West Cork produce platter and it was superb. Local crab, Gubbeen chorizo and a delicious smoked salmon all stood out. My other half had fish and chips, which is something he orders whenever he sees it on a menu and reported that this dish was up there with the best of them.They have the perfect balance between keeping things simple and trying out new trends on their menus but all to great effect. Seriously worth a visit, I may even drive down west just to eat here!

Hayes Bar, Glandore:

This place is all about the views. Well that and the seafood, and maybe good pints too! Glandore is a tiny village that comes alive during the summer months with the population swelling as a result of city dwellers vacations! I spent a very happy few months teaching sailing here a good few years ago and loved every minute of it!


The view from the main village is nothing short of stunning and that is one of the big advantages here. Hayes’ sits on top of a hill which folds away into the sea and out towards Adam and Eve Islands.

Hayes’ is all about seafood for me. Open prawn sandwiches, crab sandwiches and my favourite: the seafood platter. Lots of other options include delicious croque monsieur, soups and salads.

La Jolie Brise, Baltimore:

IMG_1492This is certainly a favourite due to nostalgia. It is one of those places that I have eaten at every time I have gone to Baltimore since I was a child (Which is a lot since my parents met and got engaged in Baltimore and  we used to spend lots of childhood summers sailing Roaringwater Bay!)

La Jolie Brise sits above Baltimore harbour and is the perfect spot for watching all the goings on in the bay – People watching on a grand scale is ok by me!

It is primarily a pizza restaurant but once again seafood is a feature of the menu. For as long as I can remember, my mum has ordered a seafood pizza topped with fresh prawns and mussels. My favourite is the four cheese pizza, while my new husband has taken a liking to the pepperoni – fried egg and all! All accompanied by chips. They may not be the best pizzas or the most authentic but for me, this is my favourite pizza spot. The view aint bad here either:


Bushes Bar, Baltimore:

Last but by no means least, you cant help but find Bushes Bar in this town. This cosy little pub is the heart of the village and is the meeting place for all and sundry after a long day on the water (or even to plan your day over coffee!) On a wet night, piles of waterproof gear is shoved in the back of the bar while everyone laments the weather over pints. On a sunny day, well:


Although the food here is simple, it is perfect, West Cork fare. Soups, chowders and the ubiquitous toasted special are all tasty and straightforward. Food and pints with a view, what more could you want?

So this happened:

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 15.00.56

We had our wonderful wedding day on August 1st and it was incredible! Food was a big focus for our wedding and there will be lots more on that another day. Today is a recipe day.

We were lucky enough to receive some fabulous wedding gifts from our lovely friends and family. One of the gifts was a day’s bread baking course from two of our lovely friends, of which I will write a full post in the coming weeks- what a cool gift, especially for a baking nerd like me! In the mean time, I am spending most of this week trying to use up all the delicious breads we baked on the day.

This mornings breakfast evolved basically through my need to use up some sourdough and my craving for apples! Enjoy!

Sourdough Cinnamon French Toast with Caramelised Apples:

Serves 1


  • 2 slices of stale sourdough bread
  • 1 whole medium egg
  • Approx 50ml milk
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 10g butter
  • 20g caster sugar
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Toppings: Yoghurt, Maple Syrup, Golden Syrup…The options are endless!
  1. Beat the egg slightly in a wide bowl or plate (wide enough to fit your bread). Whisk in the milk until you have a pale creamy mixture.
  2. Soak your slices of sourdough in the egg mixture on one side.
  3. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat. Melt the butter until it froths and add the lemon juice and 10g of the caster sugar. Turn over your bread in the egg mixture so that the other side can soak up the egg mix.
  4. Lay slices of apple in the frying pan and cook over a low to medium heat (dont turn up the heat too much or the caramel will burn.) Once the apples have browned and softened slightly, turn them over and continue to cook.
  5. Remove the apples from the pan but keep the residual butter. Lay the slices of egg soaked bread in the frying pan and cook over a medium heat.
  6. Once the bottom is nicely browned and the egg mixture has set, turn the slices of bread to toast the other side. While his is browning, mix the cinnamon with the remaining sugar.
  7. Remove the toast from the pan to a plate. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and top with the caramelised apples. I also topped it with a little fresh apple.
  8. You can finish it off with yoghurt, maple syrup or anything else you fancy.

I have a confession….I am a massive fan of sauces. I love chutneys and jellies and any sort of accompaniment! However, plasticy, fake mayonnaise from a jar is just not my thing! Its grand in a coleslaw or a potato salad but I will never put it in a sandwich or have it on the side of a salad.

Probably my favourite Summer dinner

Probably my favourite Summer dinner

Summer for me means seafood and seafood in turn is made even more special with the right sauce. Last nights dinner was a massive bowl of proper prawns, new potatoes and green beans. A dinner that is all about letting the ingredients shine, fresh, local and delicious. What better to serve with it than a proper, handmade mayonnaise? Ok so it takes a little work, but its totally worth it! I mixed in some crushed garlic or you could add some smoked paprika for some spice but this is just as delicious on its own.

Homemade Mayonnaise:


  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon english mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt – you may need more to taste
  • 225ml oil – I used pure olive oil but this is a bit rich so you could use half sunflower oil, rapeseed or even groundnut oil
  • Squeeze of lemon to taste
  1. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the oil and lemon juice.
  2. Ok this is the important part – Very slowly, drizzle oil into the mix while whisking constantly. This really can curdle easily so its better to start with too little than too much.
  3. As the mixture starts to thicken, you can add slightly more oil but try and keep it at a slow and steady pace.
  4. If the mixture does curdle, you can whisk in another egg yolk and it should bring it back to life.
  5. If you are using a flavouring such as garlic, add it at the beginning and as you are whisking it will impart more flavour. For something like paprika or pesto, I would stir it in at the end.

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