Brown Bread

Brown bread – is there anything more comforting?  Homemade brown bread, fresh out of the oven (but allowed to cool – very important!!) spread with lashings of butter – the crunchy crust, the soft textured inside oh me nerves! We had a conversation yesterday around the dinner table (of course the conversation rarely is about anything else but food) about our death row meals, as in the last meal you would have before you died.  We all came to the conclusion that my Mams brown bread would feature perhaps in the starter, like homemade soup with Mams bread and butter, or smoked salmon on mams brown bread with lemon and pepper, or simply a fresh poached egg on Mam’s brown bread toasted, you get the drift… her bread really is legendary though, friends always remark about it and if you’re really lucky she will sometimes send you away with a loaf.  I love nothing better than coming into the house and being hit by the smell of freshly baked brown bread mmm I’m actually starting to drool as I type – not a good thing, don’t want to break my keyboard.

Sorry that last paragraph as I read it is actually a giant tease because after all my harping on about Mams bread I’m actually not going to share the recipe here!! Sorry but it is top secret I can’t go sharing Mam’s recipe with the world she’d kill me.  Nor will I ever try to live up to her legend and make her bread; because I know the result would be nice but not as good as Mam’s and my ego can’t handle that!  What I have done is make another version of it, well actually a distant cousin but with Guinness.  See the boyfriend and I got tickets to the Guinness storehouse at the weekend where we went and experienced how Guinness was made. The tour and building is actually pretty impressive the building is a mix of the old and new with all the structural details on the outside.  At the end of the tour you get to go to the sky lounge and enjoy a pint of the black stuff, I’m not a Guinness drinker but it was truly delicious. Ken a seasoned Guinness drinker, some would call him a pro – agreed that it was top notch and that really is something!!  There is a section of the tour where you see all the combos of Guinness and food, Guinness mussels, Guinness chocolate truffles etc. and I took a hand out for Guinness bread so here is the recipe.  I have modified it slightly as I’m not a fan of very sweet bread and this recipe advises 200 ml of treacle and 2 and a half tablespoons of brown sugar also it takes much longer than 40mins to cook.

I want to say a quick word about my food pics – I know they are quite amateur and I am still learning, I actually don’t even have a camera all my pics are taken on my iPhone and jazzed up with an app, so please bear with me on the photos!


Guinness Bread

Makes one large loaf

600g wholemeal flour
150g self-raising flour
75g oats
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bread soda
1tpsp brown sugar
2 tbsp. treacle
40g butter
480ml milk
½ pint draught Guinness

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
Rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it becomes the consistency of breadcrumbs
Add the milk, treacle and Guinness and mix until it becomes a wet dough, add to a pre greased loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at 170 degrees (150 fan oven).
Allow to cool, cut and spread generously with butter, place into mouth, enjoy

Cheap Thrills

My name is Emma and I’m a citydeal-aholic, its true, I. Just. Love. Them. Seriously.  I mean who doesn’t need a series or facial injections? Or a cheap memory foam pillow? Or perhaps a beginners kickboxing course? At a ridiculously reduced price! I will be the first to admit some of my city deal purchases have been complete failures, like the Christmas before last when I bought both the brothers a half hour off road buggy experience or some crap like that.  They never used it, I would have been better off getting my money and flushing it down the toilet.  But there have also been amazing deals on the site which have enhanced life, like the time I got a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course for 150 when it should have been 550! I am now a qualified TEFL teacher (apparently) thanks City Deal! There have also been weekends away and many many meals.  I am a citydeal marketer’s dream and Friday proved this.  I felt like it was time for a change with my hair, I’ve had long hair for over 3 years now and impulsively decided it was time for the chop, lo and behold into my inbox that day, haircut, treatment and blow-dry for 29 quid!  Great I can get my hair done for the dinner I was going to that night, Teppanyaki for two for 22 euro oh and it’s in Greystones so we’ll stay over, bingo! 59 for 2 overnight in the Ramada hotel, yes I am obsessed but seriously the value people the value!!

Oooh, fire

Sea bass and Scallops 

The hair turned out great, I was chuffed when the hairdresser remarked how brave I was to go for the chop, felt a bit reckless like yeah this is how I live my life boldly making serious decisions on a whim (yeah right).  Then we packed up and headed to Wicklow for the night, me, the boyfriend and my hair.  Despite being a massive foodie, I had never actually made it a Teppanyaki restaurant before.  Teppanyaki is that cool Japanese style of cooking where you sit around a special table in front of a chef and a hot plate and the chef cooks your food to order.  There is also the aspect of entertainment as it is like a type of theatre featuring the chef in the main role.  Our restaurant was Scent Garden in Greystones,  I chose the seafood special and Ken chose the chef special which was basically the same but subbed the scallops for beef.  We had a 9 o’clock sitting and shared our table with another couple (definitely another city deal!) and a group of 4.  The starter consisted of a pretty basic green salad which was jazzed up slightly with an Asian dressing which tasted like a combination of fish and soy sauce and something sweet. But it was just a green salad with iceberg and a bit of tomato not that remarkable.  Then the mains and the show began, the chef reappeared in a glitzy chef outfit compete with a hollow hat in which he would throw things like eggs and a bowls.  He started cooking the raw prawns and mixing them with soy sauce and butter (which seems to be the flavour base for most of the dishes- I’m not complaining – soy and butter? Yum)  the people who had ordered the prawns got them and there was also chicken.  Then the chef did some really delicious beef which I was well jealous that I didn't order – until my scallops were served up, they were tender juicy and slightly sweet the perfect scallop lightly drenched in the soy and butter combination.  The chef then did some fancy egg work spinning eggs and making a giant omelette which he then added to rice and we were all served bowls.  Finally the fillets of sea bass were flash fried and served they were also extremely good.  The process of the cooking before your eyes was good in two ways – it never leaves you stuck for conversation you’re too busy watching the performance while you eat and also you can see exactly how your food is cooked and what goes into it.  All in all a great night was had which was made even better when the bill arrived – we only had to pay for the wine and beer which left plenty of money for a few drinks in Greystones after…just pity I didn’t have a city deal for that too.

Oh ps Im not doing a Valentines Day post I'm allergic to that stuff, so this is my anti-Valentines post!

Who Wouldn't Like That!

I've been meaning to write this post about Ina for ages but damn life keeps getting in the way.  With the local GAA dinner dance on Friday, far too much wine and then our family’s annual ‘Flanagan party’ also known as the piss up of the year on Saturday, I've been feeling a little under the weather shall we say.  The party was, as usual a fantastic success, my family for all accounts are affectionately known as a bunch of sneers, you wouldn't want to have a sensitive personality around this lot.  Consequently the highlight of the party was the initiation of the newest family members; girlfriends of my brother and cousins.  These poor girls were thrown like lambs to the slaughter into the pack of sneering wolves, Lots of banter and slagging ensued but thankfully the girls all survived their baptism of fire.  The food at the party was as usual faultless, my mother puts on a large buffet and it is all hand on deck on Saturday morning preparing the vast range of salads which seem to get bigger in number every year.  Then there are the desserts, ah the desserts; there is no point trying to dance around the fact, we are epic gluttons.  The desserts were a chocolate cake made by my fella, pear and almond tart, pavlova and trifle made by mother, the brother brought a key lime pie, the other brothers girlfriend brought a cake stand full of cupcakes and finally a lemon tart and a baileys cheesecake made by my lovely aunt Anne, I was not exaggerating when I said gluttons!!

I decorated the pavlova - didn't turn out exactly as planned!

Poached Salmon stuffed with citrus cous cous

Which in turn brings me to the charming Ina Garten, no I’m not calling her a glutton BUT her food is eh let’s just say not for the faint of heart or for that matter anyone with heart trouble.  For those of you who don’t know, and there are probably many of you who have better things to do than watch the Food Network obsessively; Ina Garten is also known as ‘The Barefoot Contessa’, she got this name because she bought a shop with the name already on it, not from walking around with no shoes on which would be a tad dangerous in the kitchen.  Ina’s cooking programme centres around entertaining for friends or her beloved husband Jeffery.  Jeffery features in the programme a lot and Ina has a tendency to maul him in front of the camera, maybe it’s because we are Irish we find that weird.  I was chatting to my auntie June about her at the weekend and June remarked that there was something creepy about Ina and her husband (see June there’s your mention!!) but I think it is the repressed Irish, we don’t like to see people showing affection to each other because we all have warped post-Catholic ideas about what’s right and proper and PDA’s make us wince with embarrassment, that’s my theory anyway!

 I think that Ina has another fetish anyway, a fetish all the more shameful and shocking…she just loves butter!! Seriously, she is renowned for it, every recipe begins with a stick of butter.  To make a nice healthy salad, you will need 1 stick of butter, 1 head of lettuce.. .you get the drift.  This is probably (no, definitely ) also the reason why all her food looks and tastes so good, I can vouch for this as I have 2 of her books and anything that I have made out of them are great especially the crostini’s which I have included a recipe for, they are delicious crispy little feckers!  When Jeffery is away, which is a lot of the time, Ina spends her time entertaining for her gay friends and drinking cocktails and playing cards – she has the life!   Check out the link from 30 Rock that I have attached where Liz Lemon wants to model her relationship on Ina and Jeffery’s.  Ina’s house in the Hamptons where the show is filmed is also amazing; ok I think I just want her life – who wouldn’t like that? (Another in-joke for you few Ina fans, she always ends everything with the words “who wouldn’t like that?” she even has a book with that title….God I’m sad…)
Chocolate cake and cupcake tier

Crispy Little Fockers Recipie - Crostini with peppers and gorgonzola

Liz Lemon will never be like Ina - youtube clip

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