For the last year or so, I have been looking at ways of reducing our meat intake. The main reason behind this decision is the fact that most of the available meats in the markets are full of hormones and antibiotics. You can of course buy free range and organic produce but not all supermarkets have them and unfortunately I don’t always have the time or the opportunity to go to specific shops for specific products so if I can’t buy free range/organic produce, I don’t buy it.
Gather around my little friends while I tell you a lovely story…
Good few years ago (I’ve never been good with dates) some friends of ours opened a cafe in Dublin’s Capel Street – Brother Hubbard. They had always been passionate about food and after giving up their office jobs, going travelling and experiencing different tastes, flavours, looks and ambiances, they came back to Dublin to open their dream cafe. Their food is fresh, exciting and beyond delicious and I am so jealous of everyone in Dublin for having them there.
The cafe started doing so well that Garrett and James extended their hours into the evening and even gave Brother Hubbard a sister – Sister Sadie on the other side of the river.
Although we try to visit our friends and their amazing cafes whenever we are in Dublin, I have spent years drooling over their menus on-line. I would see photographs of their food in their website or their Facebook page and I would get the urge to drive to the other side of the island just to grab a bite of that amazing food.
As the owners are friends of mine, I would send them messages asking them to share recipes with me so I could satisfy my taste-buds with an attempt to copy their mouth watering food but no! They would not share! I always got the same reply : You have to wait for the cookbook to come out.
So I did. I waited.
And it is finally here!!!!
THE BROTHER HUBBARD COOKBOOK
I can not describe how happy I am.
I am bursting with pride that my friends have not one but two amazing restaurants in Dublin. I am proud of their reviews. Proud of how much they have achieved especially because I know how hard they have worked, how much they have put into it and how much they have sacrificed.
I am also delighted for me! Because finally I am going to be able to attempt to replicate their food in my kitchen, whenever I want.
So I am off to buy my copy.
If you need me next week, I will be in my kitchen, cooking and eating.
I might share. I might not. I am not making any promises.
And when you get yourself a copy, who knows? You might find something else in there….
Check it out!
Summer is truly over and we have been thrown back into the school routine as if we had never left it.
As seasons change so do the recipes in my house. We start eating more stews, more root vegetables and more hot dishes and salads get relegated to the side of the plate. I’d love to live in a country where we could eat salads as a main course all year-round but I live in Ireland, and it just ain’t happening. (as my kids say “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”)
One of our favorite salads is Caesar Salad. We are not very strict on what is in the salad. Anything goes really: leaves of any sort, croutons, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, chicken, bacon… anything. As long as it is smothered in that delicious dressing, is a go. I don’t know if it’s the saltines from the cheese and anchovies, or the tanginess of the lemon, but it is just delicious, isn’t it?
But let’s be honest, Caesar Salad dressing is quite fattening and so full of calories. So in order to keep having it, even in winter, but without still adding to the calorie count, I decided to make a healthier option.
- 3/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- 1 1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard.
- 1 large garlic clove
Blend all the ingredients well and put them in a nice dressing bottle. It should last in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.
As Chaotic Monkey is allergic to mustard (among 20 thousand other things…), I did not include mustard in my dressing. What I did was add a bit more lemon, some more anchovies and more cheese until I was happy with the flavor.
I can now smother those leaves with a totally clear conscience!! 😉 And it is not just for salads, it’s also amazing in wraps and sandwiches! At least according to my kids.
I am not a cake person.
I will always be far more tempted by some cheese as dessert than with a sweet treat. Mr B is like me so we are that couple that always forgets the dessert when we have people over. We are all about the starters and main courses.
Since we’ve had kids, we have realised that IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE to celebrate certain events without cake. Kids seem to have an extra chromosome that determines that a celebration is not a celebration without a cake. The cake chromosome affects people differently depending on their genetic background and some people even lose it when the reach maturity but, in others, it only gets stronger.
As yesterday we celebrated Mr B’s birthday and Sunday is Big Monkey’s birthday too, I have been and will be making cakes. OK, let’s call spade spade. I am ASSEMBLING cakes.
My “regular” cakes are those that involve some melting at most and some assembly. But that doesn’t mean that they are boring or look terrible. Oh no! they are cool! and it’s not me saying that. All the under 10 kids are saying. Cool, I’ll tell you.
2/3 chocolate Swiss-rolls
1 kg of vanilla ice-cream
2-3 bags of Maltesers
Medium size see-through bowl
Get the ice-cream out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before you are ready to assemble the cake. We need the ice-cream to be smooth and manageable.
Cover the inside of the bowl with cling-film. This will help to get it out of the bowl later on without any drama.
Cut the Swiss-rolls into 1 cm slices and start covering the inside of the bowl with it. Starting from the middle and working your way out in rows. Squeeze the Swiss-roll slices into the gaps, , make sure not to leave big gaps between the slices.
Once the inside of the bowl has been covered, fill half of the semi-circle with the vanilla ice-cream, add a layer of Maltesers and finish it off with another layer of ice-cream.Cover the bowl and put in the freezer.
Take it 10 minutes before you are ready to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and flip it onto a plate. The cling film should help you peel it off the bowl with ease. Watch the little faces light with delight as they find the Maltesers hidden in the ice-cream.
You wanted cake? That’s a cake with an impact and a surprise!
Minimum effort, maximum satisfaction cake. A go-to-in-case-of-emergency-cake.
Don’t you hate when you open a package of feta, use a little bit, put the rest on a container and next time you take it out is to put it in the bin because it has gone off? It used to happen a bit too often in my house to the point when I stopped buying feta cheese. But feta cheese is amazing in so many things that we missed it terribly so I had to come up with a different solution.
Marinating the feta will not only make the cheese last longer, but it will also infuse with amazing flavors that will in time improve your salads, frittatas… anything where the cheese goes.
No more waste – just delicious food
200 grs feta cheese
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leave
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
Carefully cut the cheese into cubes.
Put feta in a jar with a top and add the rest of the ingredients to the jar.
Pour enough olive oil to cover cubes of cheese.
Let marinate in refrigerator for 2 weeks for an amazing taste but if you can’t wait, overnight will do.
You could also use sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, thyme or capers for the marinade. Chop and change. It will never be boring.
Serve it topping your favorite salads or simply on fresh bread. Simple and delicious, what real food should be.
Have you got a favorite recipe for your feta?
Don’t be shy. Share!
The weather is glorious in Ireland at the moment. I mean, really and truly glorious. Hot – and I am not talking Irish hot (ie. 17 degrees C), oh no! I am talking proper walk-your-kids-to-school-in-sandals-and-tshirt (and trousers of course) hot! no cardigan! Glorious!!!!
Sunshine makes you feel better, more alive, full of energy. We do more when the sun is shining (my garden has been transformed in a week!). Food also tends to be different when the weather is good. I am always looking for something lighter, fresher, less complicated. Anything that would helps me get the food ready quickly and back outside to soak up as much Vitamin D as we can.
I guess that, as a good Spaniard, I love tapas, pintxos… a large variety of small quantities of food to share. Mix and match. It is my favorite way to eat. In the Basque Country we do pintxos rather than tapas. Pintxos are a small, individual snacks eating at the bar while hanging out with friends. They usually come on a slice of bread and spiked with a tooth pick. Bars tend to have on display an enormous variety of pintxos and Mr B and I spend our summers tasting every single one of them… for research purposes obviously… 😉
This DIY pintxo is easy to put together, full of flavor and perfect for sharing. Perfect for when you have people coming over to the house for drinks. It requires minimum effort and it provides maximum satisfaction. And if you team this with the Rosemary Roasted Almonds your friends will love you forever and ever and ever.
You will need:
- A jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil
- Serrano Ham
- Manchego cheese
- Crusty bread
Blend the whole jar of sun-dried tomatoes in their oil to make a lovely paste perfect for spreading on the bread. This paste is amazing with anything: pasta, sandwiches, soups, salad dressings…. just yum!
Open the packet the Serrano Ham and cut the Manchego cheese and the bread into thin slices.
Make it look pretty on a board – very important!
Now, let’s get eating. This is self-asemble, DIY, so there are no rules. It’s a mix and match.
I particularly like spreading the sun-dried tomato paste on the bread and topping it up with cheese or ham.
Today I want to share with you a little tip that will help you keep sandwiches closed on the go, will make them easier to eat and there will be less mess! Am I promising too much? Not at all!
We all make sandwiches at some point in our life. Whether is office or school lunch, a weekend picnic, to eat in the train…. sandwiches, pita bread pockets, wraps, baguettes… food sandwiched between an edible top and bottom, is usually our go-to-food to eat “on the go”.
I tend to get a bit creative when I am making sandwiches. I mean, just because I am eating a sandwich it doesn’t mean that it has to be plain and boring, right? The problem is that the more ingredients you put in, the harder will be to keep it closed.
The boys used to come home from school frustrated because their sandwiches were very messy by lunch time. From all the rattling inside the lunch box, the sandwich was pretty much deconstructed by the time they went to eat it making it difficult to pick them up or do anything with it.
In order to keep all your ingredients inside the sandwich and avoid mess is to wrap it in cling film or tin foil. That will certainly keep your sandwich neat. But, if you are like me and you are not a great fan of cling film, and/or you have run out of it, and/or if you like reusing your containers, there is a very simple solution for you.
NO MORE MESSY SANDWICHES – HOW TO
- Make your sandwich. Put all the ingredients you want in it. Yes, as many as you want
- Cut your sandwich in half if required.
- Get a sheet of kitchen paper and cut 2 strips from it. The width of the strip will depend on how big your sandwich is. The bigger the sandwich, the thicker the kitchen roll strip should be.
- Fold the strips lengthwise to make them more resistant.
- Wrap the folded kitchen paper strip around your sandwich.
- Secure with some tape.
- Ta dah!
- Repeat procedure for other sandwiches.
This tip works perfectly well with baguettes, wraps, burritos, pita bread… anything that needs to be contained, some kitchen roll and tape will contain it! So no more messy sandwiches, lunch boxes or picnics, just wrap it and enjoy it!
Will you try it?
Happy Friday lovely people!
Have an amazing weekend
Trying to come up with healthy and varied school lunches is a bit of pain, don’t you find? We are nearly half way through the school year and I am already bored with our usual ones (like this one and this one),and I am not even the one eating them!!
I don’t mind making the school lunches. It is trying to make them interesting while keeping them balanced and healthy that I find challenging. The brain has to work and, most of the time, the brain does not like that!!!
I have recently introduced this new lunch into our school lunch menu and it is working out a treat.
I have to say that I have never been a big fan of sausage rolls, mainly because usually the sausages were very poor quality and the pastry was too heavy and fatty. However, I recently found small sausage rolls made with 80% meat sausages (when it comes to sausages, always try to buy the ones with the highest percentage of meat in them for minimum fat and maximum flavor) so I gave them a go – lovely!
You could also try to make your own sausage rolls. I have made them before using this recipe and they are surprisingly easy to make and so much juicier! You can make a big batch, freeze and take them out as needed.
HEALTHY SCHOOL LUNCHES : Sausage Rolls & Salad on a Stick
I tend to vary the ingredients on the salad.
Some of our favorite ingredients are : tomatoes, avocado, peppers, cucumber, olives, carrots, spinach leaves, cheese
I sometimes include a tiny little container with some tomato ketchup or relish to dip the sausage rolls into. They love it!
Do you find school lunches challenging? What is your favorite school lunch?
Share with us!
PS – If you like this post, please feel share it with your friends. Thanks!