Tuesday, August 23, 2011

eclectic shabby chic @ Yesterdays

I have a cool auntie who's travelled the world, lived in France, Italy, Nepal and Hungary and loves surrounding herself with beautiful things. Her charming house is like a box of treasures, I love spending time at her place (I secretly hope that since I'm her favourite niece, I will inherit all her lovely bits one day). Walking into Yesterdays is a little bit like a visit to my auntie's. 

This beautiful shop has a feel of someone's living room. Someone's with a great taste and love for all things unique and beautiful. Yesterday is full of all kinds of everything: if you like shabby-chic, this is where you will love. There is a lot of elegant pieces too. Tiffany style lamps and lampshades, beautiful mirrors in all shapes and sizes, decorative knobs & hooks, and interior design books which will help transform your house into a home. Pretty Cake Stands, Egg Cups, candles and accessories. Their Cookbooks will make your mouth water just from looking at them. If I am ever stuck for a nice, unique gift, that's where I go.
And as if all the interior design and decoration cornucopia wasn't enough, they also have a rather tasty range of chocolates and truffles in store!

Yesterdays have another branch in Cork, as well as an online shop, but to soak up is great atmosphere and to get truly inspired you should really visit this beautiful place in the heart of Kilkenny.

Monday, August 1, 2011

tea time!

herbal tea, that is... self picked during my walk...
smells divine, tastes great and is sooo good for you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

counting the days... #KAF11

The circling has been done, the tickets bought and I can't wait for the kick-off of this year's Kilkenny Arts Festival. The programme is a fantastic mix of "something for everyone"- Dance, Theatre, Music, Literature, Visual Arts, Craft and Street Performance, Kids workshops- 9 days Full of Culture with a capital C. Living right in the centre we get the best of  the atmosphere and buzz around the city during these 10 days of August. With all its pop-up galleries, exhibitions and street art performances Kilkenny turns into one big cultural sweet shop. I am so excited, I don't even think about the "more-than-our-flat-can-handle" number of friends we've invited to come to visit us during that time.

Next to the various gallery openings and visual arts treats available throughout the festival following are my personal MUST sees:
  • The artist Angela O'Kelly will curate Modified Expression Exhibition at the NCG. And it's all about books, paper, written word! - check!
  • Eric Sweeney& 3epkano -The Cabinet of Dr Caligari- a brand new live score to the silent cinema masterpiece- all in an amazing and a bit scary atmosphere
  • Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - the name says it all, but have a look here also...
  • TC Boyle - the sarcastic and vibrant author in talk about his latest book (*shall read before the talk...)
  • Kaleidoscope- an informal concert of classical and contemporary music in the beautiful grounds of Kilkenny Design Centre 
  • Body Duet - a thrilling way of ending my Arts festival. 

See you in Kilkenny!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

lemon drizzzzzzzzle

Love, love love lemon drizzle cake! I made it few days ago and gave a slice of it to my friend. She liked it so much next morning she was at my door asking for MORE.. The yoghurt makes this cake extra moist and the syrup makes sure it's lemony and tangy. For all you lemon lovers, it's the "want it all" kind of cake...

Super Moist Lemon Drizzle Cake

4 ounces butter at room temperature
1 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
zest of 3 lemons
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Greek style yoghurt  or creme fraiche

Lemon Syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon Glaze
1 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (350 F) Grease an 8 inch tin (the bread loaf one..)

Using electric mixes cream the butter & sugar until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the lemon zest.
Add yoghurt, vanilla extract and lemon juice.
In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking powder and slowly add to the batter, mix for another minute or so until ingredients combine fully. Pour the batter into the baking tin, smooth the top, and bake for approx 35 minutes,  until a toothpick comes out clean.
Take the cake out of the oven, let chill in the tin for 10 mins. - Make your lemon syrup
combine the sugar and lemon juice in a pan over low heat until sugar dissolves completely. Take your cake out of the tin, prick it with a toothpick and drizzle the lemon syrup over it. Let chill for another 15mins. To make the lemon glaze, mix lemon juice with  icing sugar and lemon zest, glaze the cake with it. Enjoy!!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

perfect addition to the picnic basket...

I love Fridays. Especially Cookalong Fridays! This time "party and picnic food" is the theme and my addition to the picnic basket are these delicious savoury cornmeal muffins. They are always a big hit at parties and gatherings, anything that doesn't require cutlery is the perfect picnic food. 
The recipe can be made vegan using soy milk and use of rice flour makes sure the muffins are gluten free. It takes no longer than 10 mins to prepare the batter. So simple and soooo tasty!

Savoury Cornmeal Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1 &1/2 cup cornmeal flour (use the finer variety..)
1/2 cup rice flour (or normal flour)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
good pinch of salt
1 cup milk or soy milk
your choice of spices/fillings (anything can do, some pesto, chopped herbs, a cup of sweetcorn, chopped chilli, greated cheese, seeds and nuts, etc...I have used chopped roasted peppers and sunflower seeds this time)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390F) and grease your or line your muffin tray. Put all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with a spatula (no need to use mixers), if your batter is too dry, add more milk or water. Distribute your batter into the muffin forms and bake for 15-18 mins until golden brown. You might want to experiment with the proportions of ingredients and also amount of milk you're using, I sometimes use more rice flour than cornflour and twice the amount of milk and they turn out much smoother, perfect breakfast muffins..)

 Enjoy warm or cold, with a bit of Sour Cream or chilli  relish... or just as they are! mmmmm....ah, and let me know how you liked them!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

the recipe marathon...

I'm working on a few exciting projects at the moment, one of them involves our local Farmers Market so watch this space. But I've also been busy cooking... (I mean I do cook almost every day... ) Most of the times I was lucky enough to get as far as photographing whatever I cooked, there just wasn't enough time to write down and post the recipes... and since I have never followed a recipe fully, it makes it even harder to remember what I put into the dishes... 
I did cook a yummy Thai-inspired noodle stir fry. With sweet potatoes, butternut squash, celery and courgette, yellow curry paste, coconut milk, lime juice and a dash of soy sauce. Here the result: It was very yummy and was cooked in no time.

I also got inspired by this recipe and made my own garlicky pull-apart pizza bread. However, I went for a slightly healthier option and only used 1/3 of the butter the recipe called for...

Last but not least would be the Chicken with Dijon Cream Sauce:

I know, picutre isnt' great (It was a quick snap just before I devoured the portion) So it might not look like million dollars but it tasted great! The recipe can be found here. I used Tarragon instead of Rosemary for this one... Highly recommend this one too. Go try it. And let me know how you liked it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

alive and kicking...

It's been a while... I know. It's been ages. But now I'm back from my little holiday, I 've missed the Catlaughs, the Happy Valley Festival, the Sheep Shearing and whatever else has been going on around Kilkenny...But I got a sun-tan! I'm full of vitamin D and mid-year resolutions, plans and projects ahead. This week is all about catching up, with friends here in Kilkenny, friends abroad (proud 3 letters and little parcels plus 4 rather substantial emails-that's probably all they'll hear from me for another 6 months...) and catching up with google reader, blogs, and recipe posts...

A week full of delights too, like the opening of "21st Century Icons" exhibition @ the NCG. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the pieces selected for this show and cant wait to see them curated at the  Gallery. The 21st Century Icons open on 10th June from 5pm, do call in for a bit of culture (and free vino) if you're around! 


For a little bit of entertainment, Set Theatre with this gig will be my place of choice this weekend: 

Last but not least I'm looking forward to the 20 Mile Cookalong where Irish Food Bloggers will face the challenge of creating a meal using ingredients found within 20 miles. What to cook? What to cook? Was thinking about Goresbridge Trout, luckily they're just within our 20 miles limit! Can't wait!

Right, back to my catching-up then...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

quick, before it's over! Irish Craft Portfolio @ NCG

Last Friday I revisited the National Craft Gallery for another little stroll around this year's Irish Craft Portfolio exhibition. This is the fifth edition of the programme showcasing the best in Irish craftsmanship putting Ireland yet again on the map for International Contemporary Craft.

This year, as ever, the quality of the work and skill involved is truly captivating, the connection to nature and landscape ever so visible. Various media from wood and porcelain through glass, black diamonds and precious metals to discarded plastic bags reflect great consideration for the material and appreciation of the making process. The pieces live each their own life and tell their own story, and at the same time converse with each other in a quiet language of passion, skill and patience. Every time I visit the NCG I find myself enchanted by the beauty of their timeless form, it makes me want to touch them and feel their warmth. I can smell the sea, feel the breeze on my face, run my fingers through the grass and hug the trees. The mood created by these objects and their energy are for me the ultimate proof that the border between arts and crafts has long disappeared. Craft can be equally challenging and exhilarating. 

It would be impossible to chose my personal favourite, but I am very inspired by Jack Doherty's soda fired porcelain pieces. Using his One clay, one colouring, one firing process, Jack chooses  to present the material which we associate with lightness and delicacy in such strong, robust form whilst still managing to capture its simplicity and elegance. The contrast within his own work is wonderful, and his work gains another dimension once put into perspective with other pieces, like f.e. Frances Lambe's Sea-Life forms or Nuala O'Donovans work.
My personal favourite of the Portfolio 2011 Jack Doherty

The participants of the Irish Craft Portfolio are selected annually by an international jury of gallerists, curators and experts and their work is promoted nationally and internationally through exhibitions and publications. The exhibition is accompanied by the elegant issue of Irish Crafts Portfolio Catalogue.

Complex porcelain piece by Nuala O'Donovan
You can visit this exhibition at the NCG until 11th May and I cannot recommend highly enoug htheir monthly Late Date (an informal tour of the exhibitions-every last Friday of the month). On Friday 29th April @ 6pm you will have the pleasure of a tour with Rhythm and Roots Festival Director John Cleere with musical assistance from Hans Chew. Do check it out!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chocolate Overdose Cake for my Irish Foodies Cookalong

If you have recently decided to live healthy and avoid chocolate, sweets and work on your cholesterol level you should probably stop reading now....

This month's  Irish Foodies Cookalong theme was "chocolate", there could not be a better theme for my very first cookalong. I decided to go the traditional route and to make a Chocolate Cake. A decadent (1lb of chocolate...), moist, melt-in-your-mouth-succulent cake, which wont take hours of slaving in the kitchen... I think this 3 ingredients (no flour :)) Chocolate Overdose Cake will please even the biggest Chocaholic, and it's so simple to make.

  • 450g Chocolate (broken into pieces - I used half dark/half milk- It's down to your own preference
  • 225g Butter (cut into pieces)
  • 8 large eggs (cold)

Grease an 8inch round cake tin and preheat your oven to 160degrees.

Whisk the eggs until they're very, very fluffy, about 5mins. Melt the butter and chocolate together .
Slowly fold in the melted butter-chocolate mix into the whisked eggs, trying to keep as much air in as possible
(If you feel that your batter is too runny at this stage you can add a bit of cocoa or flour, but I didn't need to).
Scrape the mixture into the  prepared form, fill a roasting tin with water and place your cake tin in the water bad. Bake for approx 25-27mins, the cake should have a crust like a brownie, but still look quite wobbly in the middle. Leave it in the tin to cool, once cool cover it and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. 
Take the cake out of the fridge 30mins before serving. Sprinkle with icing sugar. 

This cake is so decadent, I dare you to ask for another piece... Enjoy!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

lazy sunday breakfast...

I know there might be people who call it blasphemy calling something that contains flour "an omelette" but I could not come up with a better description for my little recipe. It might seem like a pancake but since it doesn't contain milk or butter milk it's technically not a pancake either... Whatever you want to call it, here's a little recipe for a quick (flour) omelette with rhubarb-raspberry compote drizzled with Highbank Orchard Syrup

Makes 2 omelettes (approx 10inch pan)
For the compote
2-3 rhubarb stalks- chopped
1 cup raspberries
4 tbs sugar
Combine all in a pan and simmer until soft. The rhubarb will release enough juices so no extra liquid necessary. You might feel it needs an extra bit of sugar...go for it if you feel so...set aside.

For the omelette
4 eggs (whites and yolks separated)
4 tbs plain raising flour (or any other flour)
2 tbs sugar
1 pinch salt
Whisk the egg whites with sugar and salt until stiff. Gently fold in the yolks and flour. Heat a bit of oil in a frying pan and bake the omelettes (moderate heat-be careful, my first one was a disaster...) for approx 2 mins each side, until golden brown.

Serve drizzled with orchard syrup and compote. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

ooohh charity shops, how I love thee...

I just found this lovely vintage jewellery box in Enable Ireland Charity Shop EUR 2.35!!!! It's beautiful velvet in navy colour, the pictures don't do it justice... LOVIN IT!

What was your best charity shop find?

Friday, April 1, 2011

out and about on Trail Kilkenny with KETTOW

I spent yesterday out and about with the KETTOW group of Ladies exploring the food and craft businesses around Trail Kilkenny. Trail Kilkenny is an organisation which develops, maintains and promotes a range of leisure trails around the beautiful County Kilkenny. From cycling and walking trails, through food to craft, there is something for everyone; tourists and residents alike.

We started our "road trip" with a visit to the Jerpoint Glass This family run studio has been producing beautiful glass pieces of excellent quality for over 30 years. You may also have a chance to watch the glass blowers in action as the workshop itself is open to visitors. Adjacent to the studio is the Jerpoint shop and gallery where you can see their whole collection of skillfully crafted glass as well as paintings and pottery work by other artists. The visit to this picturesque place is truly a unique experience.

Next stop was Thomastown and Blackberry cafe - an award winning eatery owned by Jackie Hoyne located in a beautifully restored 18th century building. Jackie is very passionate about local food produce and traditional recipes, which can easily be seen in Blackberry's menu- we loved the freshly baked scones and tarts she welcomed us with and will definitely be back for more!

Just across the road from Blackberry Cafe is the Design Studio and Gallery of Karen Morgan an amazing ceramist renowned for her distinctive hand thrown porcelain work. I have been admiring Karen's work for several years and it was great to finally meet her in person.
I was also so absorbed talking to Karen that I forgot to take a picy of the new Gallery, so here at least an image of her work (taken from here)

It wouldn't have been a perfect trip without chocolate and cheese, therefore we made a little stop at Truffle Fairy to taste their fine truffles and fudge (tequila, salt and lemon praline. Yum!) before we headed off to Knockdrinna Cheese - producers of award winning farmhouse cheeses from cow's, goat's and ewe's milk. We got a mini-tour of the farm by the owner Helen Finnegan and made new friends

The latest addition to the farm is the Farm Cafe serving great food prepared using mainly the own farm produce- see the Knockdrinna Goat's Cheese and sundried tomato tart below. You should taste it yourself at Knockdrinna Farm in Stoneyford!

Followed the lavish food and truffles we had no choice but to join Eoin Hogan from Trail Kilkenny for a brisk walk along one of many Kilkenny trails.
The day was truly inspiring and another showcase of how lucky we are living in this beautiful county full of scenic walks, amazing crafts and great food. For all those who think that "the grass is always greener" and travel the world in search of beautiful things, I highly recommend a walk alongside River Nore followed by a cup of coffee at the Blackberry Cafe....mmmmm....

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sugar free nutty oatmeal cookies with cranberries

I thought I'd share with you this simple recipe for my favourite sweet evening snack -(almost) sugar free cookies. They are packed with nuts and cranberries instead and I'm just finishing my 5th one this evening :)  
(please pardon the bad picture quality, I need some better light in my kitchen for sure...)

  • 1 cup Ready Brek (or oatmeal as fine as you can get it)
  • 1 cup flour (rice flour or plain flour...whichever)
  • 1 cup mixed nuts (I use almond flakes, chopped hazelnuts, walnuts etc- it's really up to you )
  • 1/2 cup melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups milk or soya milk
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp honey (or more if you wish)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup jumbo oatflakes

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients (bar the jumbo oatflakes) in a mixing bowl, once smooth add the oatflakes.

Your dough should be quite dry really, slightly falling off the spoon and look more or less like this:

You can now leave it for about 5 mins, before you form walnut-sized cookies onto a baking tray.

Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 mins depending on the size, they should be golden brown on top and bottom and look more or less like this:

The recipe should make you 15-20 cookies, depending on the size.
Once ready and cooled down (if you can wait that long...) sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy! And there is only one cup and one bowl for washing up :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

a letter to the future....

I have been away for few days, completely snowed under with different projects and also enjoying the great sunshine and company of my friends over the weekend. Today I have come across this interesting website http://www.futureme.org/ which enables you to send yourself an email "into the future". So I shall receive in exactly one year a message from myself, it will be interesting to see what has changed in my views, priorities and how many of the objectives I have set myself I managed to achieve.

pic via imightbewrong

 If you were to send yourself a letter, what would you write?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

washi tape! yeeey!

My friend Claire sent me a whole box of Washi Tape! It's a Japanese type of masking tape that looks like ribbon and makes people happy and I am using it for ANYTHING really. These designs are quite different from what I have got or seen online so far - double bonus! I have tons of ideas, plenty of them available here too. Thank you Claire! x

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

spring! spring! spring!

 We've been enjoying a great few days here with sunshine all the way. As every year, I am getting my hopes up for a wonderful warm summer... I know it's still a long way to go, but yesterday was 1st day of spring and it was as "springy" and wonderful as it can get. Such weather is truly inspiring so of course I have come up with my list of "spring resolutions" and these would be
* be more crafty
* do more baking (my bookmark folder with recipes is bursting at the seams, courtesy of Foodgawker and all the bloggers contributing to it )
* revisit my reading bench in the park more often (the books are piling up- currently reading The Hare with Amber Eyes - it's a wonderful family memoir )
* plan a nice, proper holiday (first  time in 2 years!!!)
* write more letters (as in real letters...)
and...and... and...

the bumblebee I met yesterday....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

everyone has one...and so do I

I had been hesitating for long enough and finally decided to start my own blog. So here we are with my first post on a Sunday afternoon, I hope the journey will be long and interesting. It's a lovely day here in Kilkenny, I might head to the park for a stroll in the sun....