My cousin Aoife got in touch last week asking me for my rice crispie cake recipe. You can’t have an kid’s birthday party in Ireland without rice crispie cakes. We call these Elvis cakes in our house because they remind me of the diabolical sandwiches that Elvis was purported to eat. Not flavour-wise, calorie-wise. They are delicious although not terrifically sweet which I think is down to the fact that butter in Ireland is salted. If you find they are not sweet enough for your liking use unsalted butter but we never have any complaints or crispie cakes left. The original recipe is from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook, Book 2 but mine goes something like this:
one packet of the funsize faux mars bars from Lidl
150g Rice Crispies or puffed rice equivalent
165g milk chocolate
Melt butter and mars bars together in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. The mars bars never fully melt – I find the nougat stays lumpy-ish.
Take the bowl off the heat and mix in the Rice Cripsies.
Now at this point you can either put the mixture in a lined square tin, pressing down firmly or serve in traditional rice crispie bun style. Either way stick them in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden (like your arteries after eating them.)
If you are making the bar version, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water and then spread evenly over your chilled bars. Return to the fridge until set, then turn out and cut into squares or bars.
As mentioned previously we are not long back from a 2 week break in Casteldeffels near Barcelona. I was in Barcelona for the first time last Sepetember and was absolutely entranced by this fabulous city that really has something for everyone. I arrived on my own last September and met friends there, the first of whom introduced me to Pimientos del Padron which are delicious, wee green peppers, roasted and sprinkled liberally with salt. The perfect accompaniment to a few glasses of beer. If anyone has a line on where I can buy weenchy green peppers in Dublin please share.
The same friend was recently on a trip that included two nights with us in Dublin. Ever the perfect guest, KS presented me with a lovely book entitled Real Tapas by Fiona Dunlop which while it includes some traditional enough recipes is self-confessedly beholden to the nueva cocina movement. So with guests arriving for lunch we decided to try out this recipe with its intriguing use of that Irish breakfast staple, black pudding.
Himself rustled this up so hopefully he might add any comments below about changes he made. It was delicious but definitely not an everyday dish!
Half a large onion, thinly slice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
25g sultanas, soaked in hot water for 15 mins, drained.
10g pine nuts
150g black pudding, fried and coarsely chopped
1 x 400g cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Put sultanas in a heatproof bowl and cover in hot water and soak for 15 minutes. Slice black pudding, fry til cooked and crumble.
Heat olive oil in a solid frying pan over a low heat. Sauté onion until it is tender then add garlic, parsley, sultanas and pine nuts.
Finally add cooked and crumbled black pudding and chickpeas to heat through, stirring all the time.
By the end of the month the majority of the family will have spent some time on a farm. If we were in an episode of the late lamented House the team would have great fun trying to work out which one of us had been exposed to badger.
The elder Nippers are both going to farms on their turasanna scoile. Nipper 2.0 has spent the day today on Glenroe Farm and his verdict is “Awesome!” His favourite part was “touching the guinea pig and the rabbit”. What more could a boy ask for?
Nipper 1.0 will be heading to Greenan Maze. We actually visited this farm last August and I only hope Nipper 1.0 has better luck with the weather this time.
And I spent an extremely pleasant morning last Saturday on Ballindrum Farm in Athy, Co. Kildare thanks to the good folks (Amanda and Gina) in Avonmore. Why you might ask? I wondered that myself. Could it be I am now considered a tweeter of some influence? It certainly not due to my blogging efforts. I suspect it might be because I’m a mum that converses with other mums online much to The Meyler’s chagrin.
Why question these things? Never look a gift cow in the mouth I say and off I took myself with a lovely gang of pop culture and food bloggers (Okay I probably fall right in the middle of those two groups. Lovely to meet and make the reacquaintance of @backpedalling@thisispopbaby@ModernFarmette
It was a fascinating and filling morning. We were fed like kings and queens by Mary Gorman, entertained by the golden voiced Joseph Gorman (Mark my words- that kid will be a star!) and then Vincent Gorman showed us around the farm. Despite the inclement weather it was beautiful. How lucky we are in Ireland to have such luscious gorgeousness never more than an hour away. That very lusciousness (read rain), we were told, is a major contributing factor in the production of Ireland’s delicious milk. But even Vincent said you can have too much of a good thing (read rain). I have been on dairy farms before but it was really fascinating to see how technological and traceable the farming is. The farming practiced by the Gorman’s is good for the cows, good for the land and ultimately good for the consumer of their dairy products. The farm was spotless and everything was in its place.
Well nearly everything… Vincent did admit that for all their watchful care of their cows that a few months previously there had been some shenanigans among the youngsters of the herd and well, nature took its course. This meant we got to see some super cute calves though so no complaints from us!
We rounded off the day with some Make and Do – always a big hit with me and I think our friends in Avonmore were surprised by how seriously we all took this part of the day! I took it embarrassingly seriously. Basically Avonmore are running an online competition to celebrate the fact that one million glasses of milk are drunk in Ireland a day. (Yes! One MILLION! A DAY!) In order to encourage me to write about this they sent me (along with my invitation to the farm) a litre of milk, a glass and a kit to make my very own Bó.
Now I have to say I was a little dubious about this but after seeing the way those bloggers got stuck in I’m thinking those Avonmore ladies have their heads screwed on! It’s perfect timing with the summer holidays rolling in and the appalling weather with it. You can get your own kit and find out how to enter the competition over on the PeakFresh website. You will even see my little entry over there (I did mention I took it a little seriously) If it keeps your kids half as quiet as those bloggers then you are onto a winner.
So yes this post may be proudly sponsored by Avonmore and based on what I heard and saw on Saturday I have no qualms recommending Avonmore products to you. Will I be purchasing Avonmore products myself from now on? Well with a 50c difference in price between this and the Irish produced own brand in our local supermarket, four 2 litres of milk, adjusting for holidays, means a €100.00 saving per year. Economics trumps warm fuzzy feelings every time. Sorry Avonmore.
Do you see what I’m doing there with my pop cultural reference being juxtaposed with my son’s 4th birthday party? It shows I’m still with it even though I’m a mom.
G is sick again so we’ve had to postpone his birthday for a fortnight. This is the third time in as many months that he has had a tummy bug so I’m getting a little worried.
And before you say it I do wonder if it’s something to do with the lurid pink icing. Or the fact that this cake was birthday cake no. 2 although he didn’t eat much of either.
My cousin R was over earlier and we were talking about all sorts of things before she had to go off to work. Among these many things the issue of weight came up and she commented as have a number of people lately that I have lost weight which is true and I am very glad that I am (just!!) under the 9 stone mark again at last. I do not write this to boast or to undermine anybody else. Those of you who know me in the flesh know I am only a small woman as G said yesterday at 5 foot exactly so I should be between 8 1/2 and 9 so I’m happy. The reason I write about this is because although I don’t think discussing weight is an appropriate topic of conversation because I think women are tyrannised by unrealistic “role” models (pity they aren’t rolly models!) and the last thing we should do to each other is add to it. However it is apparent from the frequency that comedians do the “and don’t ever get involved in the does-my-bum-look-big-in-this conversation” comedy routine that men find this obsession baffling. Tommy Tiernan did one recently at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal (not the clip I was looking for but funnier than the one of which I was thinking). So men may be baffled by our obsession but there is little in the world more baffling than going from a size 16 to a size 8 twice in 4 years and I am not including the time while pregnant. There is nothing more baffling than trying to be supermum when you feel like you are dressed with as much style as a Siberian on a Saturday night in the 80s.
And speaking of women, the Irish Times didn’t print my letter about Bias against Working Mothers. It was a bit all over the place to be fair and I’m not 100% whether I’ll publish it myself. But obviously I have been thinking about the issue lately and while listening to an interview on Seán Moncrieff’s show on Newstalk yesterday about Industrial Relations and various news reports about the Dublin Bus and Aer Lingus strikes etc. it suddenly occurred to me how mothers can prove for once and for all that they are an essential part of the workforce, be they working outside the home or not: a nationwide strike. Now while I currently have no gripe with my working conditions (I don’t have any) I would certainly down tools for a day to support my sisters. National No Working Women’s Day. The Pink Flu. Strike while the Iron’s Hot. Wans Strike and they’re out. I wonder what would happen…? I wonder could I organise it…? I must contact all the mothers that I know… I wonder would any of the trade unions go for it?
I’ve just finished baking 2 of these: one for Garman’s birthday in the creche tomorrow and one for his birthday tea at home. Hope he likes it. If it tastes half as good cooked as it did raw, we’ll be doing well. This recipe comes from The Austalian Woman’s Weekly Cakes and Slices Cookbook which I love because it has loads of different and some really unusual recipes (Chocolate Zucchini cake anyone? And don’t laugh the chocolate potato cake in this book is one of my favourites. Potato and Chocolate hmmmm) However I substituted chopped dried apricots for the glacé cherries because can you believe I had no glacé cherries. Believe it – they are a culinary abomination. Think of a fresh cherry, think of a glacé cherry. How can they both be called cherries?
Enough! Here’s the recipe. I chose it because half an hour before our party started last Saturday I exclaimed to Himself “Ohmigod! I’ve no dips.” and sent him off to buy ingredients which I had no time to whip into hummous etc. so I was left with a ton of sour cream.
125g butter 2 teaspoons greated lemon rinf 1 cup castor suger 3 eggs 1/2 cup sliced glacé cherries (see above) 1/2 cup sultanas 1 and 1/2 cups self-raising flour 3/4 cup of plain flour 3/4 cup sour cream 1/4 lemon juice (the juice of a lemon)
Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease a 14cm * 21 cm loaf pan. (they say line base with paper, grease paper. I say life is too short.) Cream butter, ring and suger in small bowl with electric mixer ntil light and fluffy; bet in eggs one at a time, beat until combined. They say transfer mixture to large bowl. I say start off in a large bowl, save on washing up. Stir in fruit, then half the (sifted – you decide) flours with half the combined sour cream and lemon juice, the stir in remaining flours and lemon mixture. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 1 1/4 hours (Mine took 1hr 10 min at 175 in a fan assisted oven.) Stand for 5 mins before turning on to a wire rack to cool. G and I will be decorating ours anon – photos to follow.