Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Wishes

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

A bit of fun in Food & Wine Magazine last Christmas. Have a good one!

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Slightly sore head today after partying hard at the South Studios Christmas party last night. The guys from the studio had the place looking amazing with artwork on sale around the room with proceeds going to charity, a gorgeous christmas tree decorated with the same baubles as the Shelbourne Hotel (I say!), wicked trifles to nibble on, a DJ who brought the house down (& the cops in!) and a bouncer on the door, how posh!

I don't think Santa was booked - he was a bit freaky as I don't think anyone knew him. He was very funny though with bart simpson slippers on which said d'oh d'oh on them - apparently the closest he could get to Ho Ho! oh dear here comes christmas!

Santa and his little helpers, me, photographer cliona and assistant aoife

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Restaurant Magazine

I recently picked up RTE's 'The Restaurant' Magazine which has some of my work in. Here are some piccies of the edible gifts feature shot by Cliona O'Flaherty.

These are the spiced star cluster cookies
I gave the recipe for in a past post.

Gordon Ramsay's Taste of Christmas...DONE!

I had a fantastic time in London the week before last, working on Gordon Ramsay's Taste of Christmas. It was organised by Brand Events and held in Excel in East London. I organised and managed Gordon's dems in the main theatre where we got through 14 dems over four days. I was helped by four fantastic crew - three of whom came from the cookery school Gordon is involved with, Tante Marie.

Me, Lisa, Sarge, Bianca, The Big G, Helouise
& Liam with two of Gordon's girls in the front.

Sarge (Mark Sargent) from Claridges also cooked and performed with Gordon in a hilarious Christmas themed production. Sarge was even unfortunate enough to end up dressing as a fairy and flying over the audience sprinkling fairy dust, need I say more. Each show, eight lucky people got the chance to come up on stage and be wined, gin'd (!) and dined while the chefs cooked. They had three yummy courses: roast chestnut, parsnip and apple soup (see recipe below), duck breast with braised chicory and almond sprouts and finally pear frangipane tart with ice cream.

Sarge making Christmas wishes come through!

Once we got over two very hectic rehearsals on the first day, I am very relieved to say that everything went really well. The big G didn't come after me waving any 'Kitchen Nightmare' tokens at least, phew!

Gordon Ramsay's Taste of Christmas, happy to say....DONE!
Now, pour me a Gin!


This soup is very quick and simple to make and is seriously delicious. I'm hooked on it! If you watched Cookalong on Friday night, this was the starter you would have seen Gordon cooking. It is adapted slightly from the recipe in his new book, Cooking for Friends.

Serves 4

  • 50g butter
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and grated
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Small bunch sage
  • 250g roasted chestnuts, shelled, skinned and roughly chopped (vac packed are perfect for this)
  • 800ml – 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 100ml single cream
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a wide pan and add the parsnips. Allow to cook out briefly before adding the celery followed by the apples.

2. Add the curry powder and tear in a couple of sage leaves.

3. Season with salt and pepper and allow to soften before adding the chestnuts.

4. Pour in the stock. Cover and allow to simmer for 4–5 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the cream.

6. Use a hand-held stick blender or a regular blender to liquidise the soup to a smooth and creamy purée (you may need to do this in batches if using a jug blender).

7. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Food Glorious Food

I'm just back from my trip to London and have lots to share with you about all things foodie that I absorbed (all in the name of research!) while there.

Firstly, in work I was supplied with amazing knives from Kin Knives. They were fantastic to use (even if they were so ultra sharp that I now have lots of war wounds!) ,if not a little pricey but well worth the investment. Magimix, as always, came up trumps with kitting my kitchen out with all their electrical delights - I noticed they didn't supply me with the processor with 24 carot gold plated buttons though! Their nifty and easy to use coffee machine made gorgeous coffee in seconds and almost converted me to drinking it. I'm also in love with their mini processors which come in baby pink and baby blue, cutesys!

Food wise, I was treated to 'Flour Power City Bakery's' yummy bread every day in work. On my escape home I came across the all organic grocery store 'Planet Organic' near Goodge St. station, which also sells gorgeous healthy lunches to take away. I opted for an american style cupcake around the corner in 'Peyton & Byrne' instead on this occasion though!

Coconut & raspberry cupcake from Peyton & Byrne, yum yum

On the foodie people front I bumped into my lovely friend Zarina (darn, caught buying that cupcake for lunch!) who I worked with on 'Rosemary's School for Cooks.' Zarina also works as Ainsley Harriett's agent and she told me he was off in Dubai working at the moment, nice for some! Back at work I met up with my gorgeous friend Angela Boggiano who is food editor of Delicious Magazine (who were one of the sponsors of the event I was working at). We had a good giggle of a catch up. I also finally got to meet fellow Irish man Matthew Drennan (Editor of the mag) who I had never met before, but had always wanted to - he was lovely and made me laugh when his Cork accent came out within a few minutes chatting to me, after all his years in London.

I also caught up with some friends for dinner one evening and we dined in 'The Salt Yard' on Charlotte St. It turns out they also own the amazing 'Blackfoot Butchers & Charcuterie Shop' nearby where a friend, Tom now works. Both highly recommended!
Before dinner we had drinks round the corner in 'Shochu Lounge' where I had a delicious rhubarb cocktail made with Japanese Shochu (like vodka) - must try and recreate it! My friend Jo didn't have a drink as she announced she is pregnant again, congrats Jo! Watch Jo's bump growing on ITV's Daily Cooks Challenge! Also catch Jo's recipes in her regular Grazia feature and now also in the Daily Mail at the weekend.

Claire Popplewell (she directs the Queen on the BBC you know), Lisa Harrison (watch out for her name flying along at the end of Gordon Ramsay's programmes!), Jo (as mentioned above), myself and finally Tom, from the Blackfoot Butchers.

Also, on the drinks front, I sampled a yummy spiced berry drink from 'Bottlegreen' which was served warm. Nice non-alcoholic idea for Christmas.

Finally, check out the new Jamie Magazine. Yes, as in Jamie Oliver - the mag is exclusive to WHSmith for the first three issues so not sure if it will make it to Ireland just yet but check out the mags website for a sneak preview. Jamie has certainly given Donna Hay & Martha Stewart a run for their money in his own special way!

Breakfast at the airport...Jamie's mag topped off with a
Pret a Manger Victoria Plum Yoghurt with Cinnamon Granola!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Something Fishy

It must be nearing Christmas with all these cookbooks being published recently! I worked on this seafood bible way back in January so it is great to see it at last. It is published by Georgina Campbell with BIM. Paul Sherwood was photographer and I was assisted by Karen Convery. Orla Broderick was the recipe editor. It only feels like yesterday since we all worked together on it.

The photo on the front is of the seafood chowder from The Lobster Pot in Carne. (My parents place, funnily enough!). I would just like to say I had nothing to do with the recipe even going in the book, never mind the shot ending up on the front cover!! We are all very pleased though!

Anyhow, you can buy the book in all good bookshops or
here or here