Sunday 27 September 2015

A step back in time

Yet again another great weekend spent with our friends!
This weekend we met up with our group of "ski buddy" friends.  So funny, although only half of the group ski - the rest of us snowboard we always call ourselves the "ski" group or talk about "ski" holidays.  I am going to start calling it "snow holiday" from now on I think! Justice for the snowboarders :-)
Here are some photos from the weekend.  The beach photos are from Saturday evening when we got a walk on the beach in before dinner.  The outdoor pics are from this morning.  It was a lovely weekend in Dublin which was a nice surprise!
And the pic from the top left is of us playing giant Jenga.
Our hosts live in the most amazing house and place.  Not only do they have a beach on their back door.  They also live in the coolest little community of 1960/70 style houses.  I went for a walk this morning and took some pictures of the great houses.  Can you feel the vibe?
Not only is the house cool from the outside, inside our friends have kept up the mid century modern vibe in the d├ęcor.  
How cool is it all?  We listened to some vinyl records on the record player last night which was really nice. So funny that someone had to get up and flip over the record every seven songs or so :-) 
Finally! How funky is this bathroom suite?! 

Sunday 20 September 2015

Slow cooker recipe - General Tso's Chicken

I think we all know that the Chinese food we eat here in the West is very different from genuine Chinese food eaten in China.  But did you know that Chinese food you order as "take away" in Ireland tastes very different from "take out" you order in America?
For the record I tell you now I prefer the American Chinese food!  Here in Ireland I actually much prefer Indian or Thai food over Chinese food. But when I am in America it is Chinese all the way!!
When I came across a recipe for a crockpot chicken which promises to taste like real Chinese (American) food I got excited.  Today I set out to test that promise.
The recipe I used is available here and I also detail the ingredients and method below:
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1” pieces)
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • ⅓ cup vinegar (white distilled or apple cider)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ginger
  • Green onions, chopped, to top
  • Rice and broccoli, to serve
  1. Combine ¾ cups cornstarch, the salt, and the pepper in a shallow dish. Dip the chicken pieces in the cornstarch mixture to coat, shake off excess, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces. It should take less than 2 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  3. In the slow cooker, combine the sugar, soy sauce, pineapple juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne. Stir to mix well.
  4. Add the chicken to the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours. Check 20 minutes before serving and make sure your sauce is thick enough. If not, take the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and mix it with 2 tablespoons cold water until a slurry forms. Then, gently mix a bit into the chicken and sauce, being careful not to scrape the cornstarch coating off of the chicken. If it's very thin, you'll need more, if it's not too thin, use is sparingly. It thickens significantly as it cooks, so you may not need the whole ¼ cup. Cook for another 20 minutes, and then serve over broccoli and rice. Top with chopped green onion.
If you cannot use pineapple juice in the sauce, orange juice will work fine for a slightly different (but still delicious) flavor!

Here's a pic of all my ingredients.  I think you will find you have a lot of them in your kitchen press already.
Next time I will brown the chicken more
The chicken and the sauce ready to be slow cooked!
Halfway through the cooking process.  It is tasting divine even at this point!!!! 

Saturday 19 September 2015

A lovely, lovely Saturday

 First up I met with Enid and Alice for our regular catch up.
We went to the 12th Lock in Castleknock and it was as nice as always.  Enid and I had pancakes and rashers, Alice got the scrambled eggs and salmon.  Enid and I also treated ourselves to a vodka orange juice cocktail.  Heck it was brunch, and it's 5 o'clock somewhere!
My selfie stick got a little outing for a nice pic outside the 12th Lock
Enid and I then went into town where we caught the Liffey Swim
By complete chance we met our friend Aoife who was there supporting her husband who was doing the swim. Selfie stick pic again - check out the swimmers behind us, getting disinfected and showered by Dublin fire brigade
I went and bought these babies in a vintage store near my office.
I had seen them on Friday, didn't buy them then, and had regretted it yesterday evening.  I was going to get them during my lunch break on Monday but I was really glad I got them today. 
They are vintage mid-century modern i.e. from the period 1950-1968.
SO HAPPY with them!

Wednesday 16 September 2015

A great little read! An oldie but a goodie

 Just outside the door of my local library they have this cool little bookcrossing shelf where you can take and leave books (and register them for bookcrossing if you choose).
Last week I picked up a copy of a book that I read years and years ago and remembered really enjoying it.
How "80's" does the book cover look! It was published in 1985.
I started reading it on the train into work this morning and then finished it at lunchtime. I am a quick reader and it also was so enjoyable.  The epitome of a page turner - I actually was dying for my lunchtime to come so that I could read it!
In the tradition of bookcrossing I shall now send this book on it's merry way - I hope someone out there enjoys it as much as I did.

Saturday 12 September 2015

Its called the Firecracker for a reason!

Today I got up and went to the Blanch towncentre - just to do something to get myself out of the house, plus I needed to pick up a pair of tights for a wedding I am going to tomorrow.
I was feeling a bit out of sorts and I had an awful headache so after taking some paracetamol I decided to treat myself to lunch,
I went to Wagamama where I chose the Firecracker.  I may have focussed on the sweet and sour aspect too much and not enough on the chili aspect.  Boy was it hot!  Luckily I like very hot food but be warned if you are ever thinking of ever ordering the Firecracker - it was really really hot.   
Overall I had a nice lunch - freshly cooked (hot!) food and the staff were very good (friendly & attentive).

Sunday 6 September 2015

How to cook scallops.... and drink wine and cocktails

I had a lovely evening yesterday over at afriends of minne for dinner.  The deal is I bring the steaks and cocktail ingredients and they look after everything else.

I made ciaproskas for everyone and some craft beer/pale ale was also served. I had a taste of the craft beer and surprisingly I liked it.  It was much lighter then I thought it would  be and it had an unusual grapefruit after flavour which was very nice.  As I said that surprised me!

If you would like to try a Ciaproska, here is my recipe/instructions for making them.

My wonderful host is an incredible chef and for starter made scallops on a cauliflower puree with celery oil and pancetta all served on a brown bread crumb.

With the main we had a lovely bottle of Chateauneuf  du-Pape which is a really great wine, the hosts truly spoiled us.

Main was steak and fondant potato with a  red wine sauce. 
Dessert was pecan pie.

As always I had a great night with my friends.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Caffeine Fix

 Hello my name is Amy and I am an espresso addict!
Lately I have been drinking a lot of espresso.  I take it Cuban style (cortadito) - a teeny tiny espresso topped with milk or cream.
The picture above is from Friday when I was having a pretty pressured day. On my lunch-break I went to the Starbucks on O'Connell street and enjoyed my espresso while people watching the busy street.
Next year I am going to Key West with my family and I am looking forward to introducing them all to the pleasures of a Cortadito (or five) a day!  No surprises there are some great Cuban coffee places in Key West - along with some great Cuban bakeries and sandwich shops.