Monday, November 18, 2013

What a beautiful BASH

BASH Magazine Volume One (from Image Publications) was launched recently and I was delighted to have been asked to contributed to the food pages. I took my inspiration for my feature from the cute song "I'm sticking with you, 'cos I'm made out glue" (by Velvet Underground) - Don't you just love that tune?!

Photographer Cliona O'Flaherty has been shortlisted for this years photographer of the year for her features in the mag, including this, so I'm super thrilled for her! The magazine is simply stunning and had me wishing I was getting married all over again.

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Style in Image Magazine

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

Eeekkk! Check me out in the 'My Style' feature of the current issue of Image Magazine....basically all boils down to me coming clean and face to face with my addiction to shopping, hoarding and colour after all these years. Thank you so much to Suzie Cohen at Image mag for making me sound amazing and fab photographer Cliona for making me look..well, like the Holy Mary! Caption suggestion from my dad for under the 'Shrine to Wine' photo... "If they only knew".

All that aside, I was delighted to be able to promote Cup Cake Camp at this years upcoming Bloom in the Park. I will be hosting 40 (!) kids demos over the five days all in aid of Crumlin Children's Hospital. Avoca are our sponsors so you can be sure everything is going to look (and taste!) amazing. Please bring the kids along and support the great cause. See you there!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Feisty Salads

Some feisty salads I styled for Catherine Fulvio in this months issue of Irish Country Magazine. This days challenge brought a location with no cooking facilities and so everything had to be cooked early in the morning before leaving home (with a lot of praying along the way that it would all stay looking good for the day). That's where lashing of oil and a small paintbrush comes in as a food stylist's 'tool of mass creation' in making everything look lush last minute. Helped along by gorgeous props from Pearl and Godiva.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My inner Masterchef

Bringing out my inner Masterchef...thank goodness for many hours spent working with great chefs like Gary Rhodes and Neven Maguire - I'm hoping they would be proud of my dots, quenelles, soil and swipes!

As seen in a Masterchef Ireland supplement magazine in the RTE guide recently.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Back to School Lunch-boxes

My back to school lunch box ideas are packed with ideas for interesting packaging and fun flavor combinations for nutritionally balanced kiddie feasts! Check them out in this months issue of AIB bank magazine. Thanks to cutie model Oscar for holding the pasty-saurus rex so perfectly!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Irish Country Magazine, July Issue

If you haven't already picked up the current issue of Irish Country Mag, then grab one quick as it is flying off the shelves. The magazine is a great new publication packed with all things home, garden, fashion, family and of course food. My kinda magazine!

Of course I had my finger in the pie and prop and food styled a couple of features. Catherine Fulvio's BBQ recipes were delicious and if I could cook and style them in the rain then you can too! The God's were against us that day but it didn't dampen our Summer spirit as you can see from the summery shot above.

The second feature was with fabulous Irish Cheese producers which was a very tasty job indeed. We won't mention the calories piled on from excessive cheese eating on the day. I couldn't name a favourite between Wicklow blue, Triskel, Knockdrinna and Durrus and the people behind them were equally as charming. Actually, it was lovely to read a bit more about their interesting stories recently when i nabbed a rare five minutes peace.

Try the mag yourself, a very enjoyable and relaxing read altogether!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Italian Food Memories

Well it's not often that work turns into a bit of a jolly but it appears to have done just that for me recently. I was lucky enough to be whisked away to the Piemonte region of Italy for a few days as a guest of Sacla and they have seriously layed down the gauntlet for foodies on tour.

From the fabulous Claire Blampied, MD of Sacla, Sue of Panache PR through to the Sacla family in Italy, I, along with a group of other Irish Foodies, was treated like one of the family. We broke bread, broke our sides laughing, wined, dined and harvested fresh basil. Get that for an Italian mix up. Here's my Italian family album with some snippets of my food memories. (Check out my other blog for some speedy mom pitta pizzas and more Italian chit-chat).

We were welcomed by the Sacla family to their home in Asti in Northern Italy. Yes, Asti as in Spumante *glass thrust in hand* ...we're loving it here already. The Ercole family have been in business for 70 years spanning three generations and I can honestly say they were as warm and genuine as an Irish family. 

They treated us to a memorable Italian meal made by local chefs Sandra Strocco and Massimiliano Musso, a mother and son duo, from Michelin-starred Ristorante Ca'Vittoria. One of my favorite courses was oricchiette pasta dressed with Sacla's chilli pesto blended with a gorgeously creamy ricotta with a little extra on top. You have to try it! Since coming home, I've dipped everything from crackers and breadsticks, to my fingers, into the jar of pesto to bring me back there.

One Italian villa in a vineyard, a wine tasting and a dinner al fresco later and we were off to Amateis farm in Alessandria. This farm have been supplying Sacla with basil since the early 80's. Sacla buy about 90% of their basil from this family run farm. They provide enough basil for about 580,000 jars of pesto per year. Thats a lot of pesto, so you can only imagine the amount of basil. We got to wander through acres of abundant basil drills which was quite therapeutic. (Which reminds me, I must throw out my sad attempt  of a basil plant which hangs limply in my kitchen window). There was great excitement when the harvester turned up to delicately pick some basil. In seconds there were piles of the fresh and flouncy leaves and the fragrance was intoxicating. Then, all was topped off by the most amazing lunch on the farm with the family...gorgeous cheeses and parma ham with sweet and juicy peaches and melon...and a whole lot of nodding and smiling at each other as means of communication through the language barrier.

Now, I will try and let the snaps speak for themselves (and therefore not go on too much about the fabulous time that was had). So, sticking with the food memories, I will never forget the most amazing little goody parcel of egg in a thick and creamy, cheesy sauce with fresh asparagus, baked in a clear plastic pouch. In the photo, it may not look like the prettiest thing, but its' out-of-this-worldness will remain with me forever. Ok, so will the most magnificent bellini's ever served to man. By the way, I'm so wrapping my breadsticks in a piece of linen cloth from now on. How shi-shi. On a final note, Clare introduced me to the most delicious, refreshing and cleansing (and yes, cleansing was needed at this point) little drink...balsamic vinegar topped with chilled, sparkling water. I know, sounds weird, but believe me, it is now high on my drinks list of interesting little numbers. Thankfully Claire will be bringing some tasty little balsamic vinegars to our shores via Sacla later this year. So to Sacla and all the fond foodie memories you created for me, Grazie Mille!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Styling BFree Bread

I styled 6 recipes using wheat and gluten free bread for BFree Breads. Gluten free breads have come a long way since the day of their bath sponge texture. These breads in particular are so delicious you wouldn't really notice the difference between them and normal bread. So, even if you're not wheat or gluten intolerant they are a great alternative.

Food styling wise, I'm all about attention to detail. A little gloss of oil in all the right places, like on the olives and the roasted red peppers. Then interesting shapes like the cherry tomatoes, the cut of the red onion, the thinly sliced apple rounds and not forgetting my special basil plant that nobody is allowed to touch (or kill!) on me as it has the most perfect little pointy, curvy leaves. Oh what a weird and wonderful life I lead. Final attention to detail goes to getting those tasty looking flaky edges on the cheese slice, picking out turkey slices with nice golden edging and arranging asparagus tips so the look like they just happened to fall into that relaxed position. The irony (several goes and a few swear words later).

On the prop styling side of things, we went for a simple, fresh and healthy look. The wood gives a natural feel besides being a nice texture with an interesting grain. The torn paper is white parchment in some cases and also that lovely paper cheese sometimes comes wrapped in (of which I have a freakish stack of). It helps ground the food, adds another interesting layer and texture and keeps the look fresh and modern. The use of one or the other or both throughout the shots, marry's them together into a nice little collection. You agree?

Check out more of my work and the delicious, healthy recipes here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Some snaps from overhead...

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

These are some photos from an Udo's Oil shoot that I worked on as mentioned in a previous post. 

As you can see, the photo's were taken from over head which really shows off the food. However, when shooting food in this way you really have no where to hide so it's important to pay extra attention to the placement of each piece of food,  the shapes created and the props that you use. What looks great side on may not translate as beautifully from above and vice versa. 

Shooting everything in a collection in this way might be a bit of a headache to look at, so these shots were mixed with others shot in a more normal way.

Anyhow, pretty pretty..

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paddy's Day Pie

(c) Harry Weir

I made and styled these pie's for Superquinn's cookbook A Passion for Food. Beef and stout are a classic Irish combination so they would make the perfect lunch or dinner for St. Patrick's Day! Enjoy!

Beef, Mushroom and Stout Pie

Serves 6

4 tbsp sunflower oil
1kg (2 1/4 lb) round steak, well trimmed
2 onions, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely sliced
4 celery sticks, finely chopped
600ml (1 pint) stout
1 litre (1 3/4 pints) beef or chicken stock
250g (9oz) flat breakfast mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
600g (1lb 6oz) self raising flour, plus extra for dusting
300g ( 11oz) shredded vegetable suet
Sea salt and ground pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pan with a lid and sauté half of the beef until it is well coloured. Transfer to a plate and repeat until all the beef is cooked.

Add the rest of the oil to the pan and sauté the onions, carrots and celery for 10 minutes without colouring.

Pour in the stout and simmer gently until reduced by half, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any sediment. Return the beef to the pan with the stout, stock and mushrooms. Season and cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 1-1.5 hours until the beef is just tender but still holding its shape.

Strain through a colander set over a bowl, reserving the liquid and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220 C ( Gas mark 7/ 425 F).

To make the pastry crust, sieve the flour into a bowl, stir in the suet and add just enough cold water to make a firm dough - 400 ml (14 fl oz) is about right.
Rest for 5 minutes, then cut into six pieces and roll out each one on a lightly floured board to a circle that is about 1cm (1/2 in) thick.

Divide the meat among individual pie dishes that hold about 450 ml (3/4 pint) and pour over enough of the gravy to come almost to the top. Do not overfill. Cut any superfluous strip off each pastry circle, dampen the rim of each dish and press the pastry strip firmly into place around the rim. Dampen the pastry strip in turn and lay the pastry lids on top. Press down to fit the lid and then press all around with a fork and then transfer to baking sheets.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

Serve set on plates and straight to the table.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Banana Breakfast Booster!

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

A delicious recipe from a recent recipe booklet shoot for Naturalife's Udos Oil.


This is a great energy booster in the morning. It is really tasty,very easy to make and will keep you going until lunch.

1 thick slice of wholemeal bread
1 large banana
sesame seeds
15ml of Udo's Choice Oil

Mash up the banana and spread it over the bread Scatter the sesame seeds on top and place under a warm grill for a few minutes or until it has toasted a light golden brown. Remove the toast from the grill and let it cool slightly before drizzling the oil evenly over the top.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Peasant Chic Picnic

Images show some behind the scenes action on an Irish Country Magazine feature on Irish Food Bloggers, featuring Imen McDonnell, Lorna Sixsmith, Pat Whelan and Ella McSweeney.

The theme was a 'peasant chic' picnic. Luckily we shot on location at the lovely Village at Lyons which housed us in a cosy conservatory to shield us from the elements.

Check out the contributors food and interviews in the first fabulous issue of the mag out on March 29th 2012.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Irish Country Magazine Feature

These are some behind the scenes snaps from a food feature for Catherine Fuvio in Irish Country Magazine. Photographers Carol Dunne and Jack Caffrey were as creative as ever. Check out the recipes and finished feature when the mag hits the shelves on March 29th.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fruity Fashion

Here are some finished snaps from a shoot (way back) where food met fashion on a fun jewellery shoot. They scream summer....just wish we had the weather now!

Photographer: Cliona O'Flaherty
Jewellery Designer: Alice Moyon from
Model: Caoimhe
Fashion Stylist: Jemma Connolly
Food Stylist: Me!
Make-up: Rachel Matthews

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Pearl and I have been our usual socialite selves, this time rubbing shoulders with fab foodies at L'ecrivan. The lovely people behind Sacla Sauces & Delicious Magazine were over from the UK and very kindly invited us to lunch as part of a group of food bloggers. What a really nice, feel good afternoon filled with fabulous food and friendly chitter chatter.

Seamus from Delicious told us all about his new magazine Healthy Food Guide and also about his Irish roots. He is indeed 'one of us'! Clare from Sacla filled us in on the amazing Italian family who have been producing the well known Italian sauces for 70 years now. Clare is our 'pesto pioneer' having first introduced it to the UK in 1991. Great claim to fame!

The party then moved onto the Taste of Dublin launch which was sadly rained on by our typical Irish weather. Just when our UK friends were over to visit too! Didn't dampen our spirits though. Here's the only snap I got on the day (having my hands slightly full with baba!)...

Some fab food blogger friends...Aoife, Clare, Moi, Imen & Sheila

Click these links to follow our new BFF over on Twitter! Sacla, Delicious Mag & Healthy Food Guide

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A picnic with House & Home Mag

I am thrilled to announce I am now the new food feature writer & stylist for House & Home Magazine. My three page feature gives me a chance to combine my love of food, props & homely top tips. My first feature is all about picnics and is currently out in the May / June issue. Watch out for BBQ's up next in July.

Fab photographer Elisha Clarke took the gorgeous food snaps, Paul Sherwood took my mug shot & Hilary O'Hagan was a great help with the food (particularly as I was a week off my due date & could only waddle about out of breath!). Typically we were challenged by the elements and were actually sliding around in mud & with brollies but that's what picnics are mostly like anyhow don't you think?!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Kitchen Hero

You're my hero...swoon...Pearl x

Pearly & I have been keeping up appearances and hanging out in the Westbury Hotel with super heros! We were delighted to be invited to afternoon tea by Donal Skehan, to help celebrate the launch of his fab new cookbook, Kitchen Hero.

Now, Pearly almost didn't get an invite, for fear of her upstaging himself. It was her first official appearance in the company of the coveted food bloggers & so, no doubt Donal feared the cameras & comments may not be directed exclusively at him *tongue firmly in cheek*. But, little does he know, Pearl secretly adores him & has posters of him plastered all over her nursery!

Donal tempts us with his tasty treats.

Anyhow, enough about my little hero & onto the main super hero here. Donal is a total inspiration in catapulting to foodie stardom with infectious enthusiasm. You can see for yourself tomorrow night at 8.30pm on RTE1, when his 13 part series kicks off. We can't wait. In the meantime, we have his book to enjoy cooking from & a resulting big jar of his 'fat boy peanut butter snicker squares' to tuck into. mega yum.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This Kit is Closed

Gosh, I've been a bad bad blogger! Luckily for me, it's not because I haven't had any work goings on to tell you about, but quite the opposite. More to the point, due to bumpy (see piccie in previous post) I was getting quite out of breath by the end of every day. I even found it hard to get the remainder of my 20,000 daily allowance of words out. Things must have been bad!

Anyhow, I'm here to tell you I'm now safely 'on the other side'. I'm now a nappy changing, milk machine Mummy to a little girl, Pearl. I'm now a yummy mummy who hangs out in coffee shops having leisurily catch-ups with friends, after long lazy lie-ins with smallie & copious amounts of daily cute kitten cuddles. So much easier than work I must admit (don't speak too soon, touch wood and all that). There's just one small thing to juggle (well, and all her flamin paraphenalia!) rather than several hundred at once. Obviously that's not for long though as I will have to juggle everything together once back from maternity leave.

But for now, yes, maternity leave. (I might just get a chance to reminisce and tell you about what I've been up to over the past months to cause my blogging absence). Will be back soon!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cover Girl

So I've finally made it. It's every girls dream to be a cover girl and my dream came through this week. Now, admittedly it's not Vogue Magazine as expected but much thanks to Country Living Magazine for featuring me in their current issue and popping me on the cover too. It's a fab mag, read and loved by thousands around the country so I'm more than happy with that!

The lovely Imen McDonnell from I Married an Irish Farmer did a great interview and feature with me. It's mainly about what I do with work and my love of all things food. In fact, the husband kept winding me up about my "everything about food makes me happy" quote. I simply asked him to think what his life would be like if my quote was "everything about food makes me unhappy". Hum. Shut him up.

Also, I have to thank fab photographer Jack Caffrey who took amazing shots as always. I work with Jack on Neven Maguire's food feature shots for the same mag so it made a bit of a change for Jack to get my mush in instead of the food I cook. Anyhow guys, thanks for making a great feature of can't have been easy!

Oh, and it's not a case of who ate all the pies...I'm proudly showing my baby pie off here at about the six month mark.

Check out the recipe for those spiced banana muffins over on my Friendly Cottage blog.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baking Made Easy

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully you enjoyed fun & food filled festivities (but are not being too hard on yourself calorie counting now!).

Lorraine Pascale's new cookery show, 'Baking Made Easy' won't be any help to you if you are. The six part series kicked off tonight at 8.30pm on BBC2. It was fantastically filled with lots of deliciously tempting goodies including a savoury fig, mint and pistachio tart, soda bread, parmesan lollipops, blueberry mille feuille and an amazing 'I can't believe you made that cake'. Now, I can save you the calories if you like and tell you that having eaten everything, everything is definitely worth eating!!

I skipped off to London in early last summer for a few weeks to work on the show and ended up staying for five. And boy, was it a long hot summer. We had four ovens on the go with 30 degrees of heat blazing from the sun and of course couldn't open any doors or windows because of noise. Mega Melt. Mega melting chocolate. Mega melting pastry. Mega melting everyone and everything. Thankfully, that didn't show in Lorraine's cool performance!

Here are some behind the scenes snaps...

my very glamorous head quarters in the studio. I could come back from the kitchen to find my desk anywhere, including the garden at one point. on the only rainy day!

some continuity snaps of Lorraine's soda bread bites and the mille feuille pastries.

I can't believe you made that cake!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Have a 'Merry' Christmas

Here's my donation to your consumpton of a tipple or two this Christmas....My Jewelled Mulled Wine Jellies....why stop at drinking the stuff when you can eat it too?!

Find the recipe here as it appeared in The Time's Magazine last weekend.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Snowy Supper

So it's a snow work day! Sounds great in principle and brings back amazing memories of being sent home from school because of burst pipes, but in reality missing work because of it now means for me the diary being thrown into all sorts of disarray. I'm furiously trying to get work done for upcoming jobs so that I can free future days up to give back to the postponed jobs.

Anyhow, at least it's all happening in the comfort of my PJ's and bed hair (something I never normally do when working from home, promise!). It also means I can sneek some time to catch up on some blogging (once and for all) and most importantly cook lots of comforting snowy suppers. Here's a favourite recipe from the new Superquinn cookbook (which is now reduced instore to about E15 I think and so makes an excellent christmas pressie!) as promised. This is delicious just on it's own even!

Irish stoved potatoes with vintage Cheddar

This is a variation on the traditional way of cooking potatoes in a cast-iron frying pan over an open fire. They’re delicious on their own with just a salad or try serving simply with grilled fish or a steak.

(c) Harry Weir

Serves 4

675g (1 1/2lb) potatoes
knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
100g (4oz) vintage Cheddar cheese, grated
maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes and slice thinly on a mandolin or with a very sharp knife.

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based frying pan that is about 20cm (8in) in diameter and about 5cm (2in) deep. Remove from the heat and cover the base with a layer of the potatoes.

Add a layer of onions over the potatoes and another of grated cheese, seasoning generously as you go. Continue these layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes and a sprinkling of cheese.

Cover tightly with tin foil and cook over a very low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour until potatoes on top are just cooked through with pierced with a sharp knife.

Preheat the grill. Uncover the stoved potatoes and place straight under the grill for 2-3 minutes to brown. Serve straight from the pan.

Chef’s top tip –Choose firm-fleshed potatoes for this recipe such as Roosters or Maris Piper as they will keep their shape during cooking and don’t break up. Of course this recipe could also be baked in the oven if you’d prefer.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Superquinn Cookbook

Firstly, big sorry for the lack of posts. I've truely been missing in action, so plenty to catch up with. I have tales from London, New York & well, Cavan. It's all glamour-glamour round here isn't it? Well actually, I don't think so. Here are some behind the scenes snaps showing as usual the far from glamorous affair that is my foodie world.

This time, I was delighted to come home from a trip to see the new Superquinn cookbook on their shelves. I told you about it here. Congrats to everyone involved, particularly my good friend Orla Brodrick who wrote the book & basically kept the whole thing afloat. She deserved the fab review in last Sunday's Times Mag, so well done.

Anyhow, I'll keep it short (& will be back with some finished shots & recipes soon). Here are some snaps of the food's adventure in making it onto those pages...

see? it looks all fancy-schmancy on the pages but not so glam in reality!

desperately trying to cool some bread down very quickly waving it about outside while a yoga class moved into the studio at the end of the day!
photographer Harry checking out the shots on screen.

Harry loved those shots from a dizzy height! a sweet little dessert in not such a pretty setting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Just Splendid

Have you seen the new Splenda commercial on tv lately? I worked on the ad a couple of months ago with the talented team Reelgood and Bonfire. It's always amusing to work with a hand model and check out how perfect their hands are and how well they look after their money makers. I most certainly wouldn't get the job, what with all that washing up I do. My dear hands did get to do all the very controlled Splenda sprinkles from out of shot though. I'm good at Splenda sprinkling me. Well, after rather a lot of takes.

Commercial story board

Director Aidan keeping tabs on the strawberries with body doubles lined up in the background ready to be sprinkled on.

Hand model doing her thing


Monday, June 21, 2010

The Food of The Tudors

I see The Tudors is back on our screens. Here are some snaps from my food file archives from working on Series 1.

Also, here's a blog post from Delicious magazine about food in film. Two well known and respected film food stylists in the UK, Debbie Brodie and Katherine Tidy are quoted in it. I had great pleasure in assisting them when I was 'growing up'. I worked with them on movies like Cleopatra, Tenth Kingdom, The Golden Bowl, Man & Boy, Family Tree, The Visitors and The Golden Bowl. Sadly all in the day when I wasn't a nutty 'photographing everything that moves' blogger and tweeter so I have no photographic evidence. They would have been so amazing too with stunning sets, costumes and of course food.

I have my memories though, with the most memorible food for film moment being at Shepperton Studios in London at 6.30am in the morning, with a stinking cold and having been up since about 4am to get there on time. Then, wait for it, being handed a box with a wild boars head in it, which had just been freshly 'done' (yes, as in, beheaded) the day before, so yes, warts, fur and all. I had to rinse every last drop of blood 'through it' (from cut throat & through nostrils) to get it ready to present on a platter. Nice. See? It's not all glamour glamour around these parts!

Anyhow, speaking of glamour, Katherine didn't take me with her to the set of 'Sex & The City' in Morocco I see! Lucky Lady eh?! Must try and get some behind the scenes gossip from her...

Anyhow, in the meantime, enjoy Season 4 of The Tudors!

UPDATE: Yes, hot and flushed tweeters I can confirm that JRM is a total up close but sadly not personal. I did chat to him briefly, but I imagine the smell of Tudor food from me most likely put him off!