A Sumptuous Summer Salad

Summer has arrived! Apparently but I’m not getting over cocky, this is Ireland after all, the past week might have well been our summer but let’s not get negative.  Irish people are great with the good weather, once the sun shows his face its BBQ’s, beach, little to no clothes almost instantly! Who knows how long this is going to last, it might rain in an hour, carpe diem QUICK!!! You gotta use it or lose it!  So this Saturday, I did exactly that, the decision was made that morning.  I was originally going to the shops to get ingredients for homemade pizza but the glorious sun quickly changed our plans to barbecue, the troops were rounded and lo and behold a splendid barbecue manifested a few hours later.  There was steak, marinated chicken, prawns on sticks, homemade coleslaw and cous cous salad and what I want to talk about today, a new salad that I was debuting.

I got the idea from something I had seen on Food Network about grilling apricots and I decided to incorporate this into a salad for the summer season.  I’m a big fan of fruit in salads and grilling the apricots not only slightly caramelises them but it also intensifies their sweetness, they actually taste like tomatoes!  Added to the salad is crispy pancetta pieces, toasted hazelnuts and goats cheese, it’s a substantial salad that you could well have as a main course but being greedy we had it as a side to accompany all the other grilled goodness.  Quick post today as I’m back out to enjoy the sunshine, QUICKKKK!!

Apricots on the grill

Grilled Apricot Salad with Rocket
Serves 10 as a side
1 Punnet ripe apricots
1 Bag of Rocket and 1 bag of leafy herby salad leaves
50g toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
150g semi hard goat’s cheese, cubed
150g Pancetta pieces
Vinaigrette
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. White wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper
1 Tsp. Agave syrup


Halve the Apricots, remove the stone and brush them with olive oil.
Heat a griddle pan to a high heat and place the apricots halved side down on the pan, cook for 3-4 minutes, brush the rounded sides with olive oil then turn and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, allow to cool slightly
Meanwhile cook the pancetta pieces in another pan until brown and crispy
To assemble the salad, slice the apricots, whisk all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together, add the hazelnuts, pancetta and cheese, toss the salad and enjoy

A Chinatown Delight

New York, I could write a book on my love for this city.  I have just returned from my I think 6th trip to this magical place, or as I call it my spiritual home!  Even though I’m a country girl something in me is just drawn to the big city.  My first experience in New York was when I came over on my own for a summer during college; I worked in a ridiculous Martian-themed restaurant and spent my spare time exploring the city and being delighted with myself.  Even the smallest thing like navigating the subway or grabbing a hotdog from a street cart ignited pure joy to my core.  Being back this time was no different.  Anyone who has been to New York can testament to the diversity and sheer amount of food on offer.  I am not joking when I say that almost every second premises on most streets are food places.  There is such a variety and for the most part it is inexpensive, pizza slices, dumpling houses and that not to mention the glorious street food!  We knew from the beginning it was going to be an eating and drinking tour of the city, partly because I has an obsessively researched 2 page ‘document’ with me at all time of the places I needed to eat at and partly becase the four of us are ever hungry foodies!

I’m not going to bore you with every meal we had in NY because lets face it we would be here for a while, there was so much I had on my ‘document’ that we ended up inventing meal times. So we already know brunch, but about about linner? That long time between lunch and dinner when a little ‘snack’ could go down a treat, it was pure gluttony but it was only for a week and I’m back on the wagon now!  Funny thing is most New Yorkers are skinner than their American counterparts from other states, its all vegan food, gluten free and cycling, well at least that was the case in the neighbourhood we were staying in in Williamsburg, its an enigma!

Chinatown
So anyway what I want to write bout is this one little gem we found on our second last day.  Orla my friend has been talking about Chinatown and her ‘super Chanel’ since time began or at least since the last time we were there and she procured an amazing Chanel bag in Chinatown which she lost.  Needleless to say she was keen to replace it and we hit Chinatown with gusto early on Thursday morning.  Early enough that by 11.30 we were drained and weary and needing sustenance, we also hadn’t had breakfast (shock horror!) so it was wholly justified.  We decided to walk deeper in Chinatown and stumbled upon this place call Motzar Kitchen.  It was still empty as it was only 11.30 am but we already knew we were staying, it was friendly, welcoming and you could see the chefs working as you pass through the corridor into the dining room.  The first thing I noticed when I opened the menu was dim sum and Peking duck; I love both and decided immediately, I just needed to get someone to share the duck with me, luckily Ken was a willing cohort so we decided to order the whole Peking duck to share. 

Shrimp Dumplings
Crab Wonton Soup



















Then the magic began to happen, one by one our dishes started arriving at the table and we started to realise that we had made something of a mistake; every dish was brought out individually and looked like it was for sharing.  We started with delicious steamed prawn dumplings, followed by crab won ton soup which I had ordered.  When it came out as a regular wonton I was confused and the waiter explained to me that the soup was in the wonton – talk about the excitement of a child putting it into a bowl, piercing it with my chop stick and seeing the golden liquid flow out, it was rich with crab and very tasty.  At this stage we had another revelation; perhaps,  just possibly we had ordered too much… As spring rolls, hot and sour soup and cuttlefish with cashew nuts came one by one.  The cuttlefish was a joy, lightly wrapped in a crispy tempura batter, the cashew nuts were hot and toasted and the portion was huge!
Cuttlefish and Cashew Nuts
Finally the duck came out, our waiter brought it to another table with a giant cleaver and took off the meat and put it in these steamed buns, they were not the thin pancakes that we would be used to, rather a doughy moist bun.  Garnished with strips of scallion and hoi sin sauce they were indulgent mouthfuls of pleasure.  Then the waiter  brought the carcass away and just as Orla was commenting “actually you don’t get that much on them..” out he brought a plate piled high with the WHOLE duck, cut into portions, ribs, neck, spine, the lot! Ken was in heaven but I had quite enough by this stage.  THEN the other guy’s mains came out, sweet and sour chicken and general Tsao’s chicken, both wonderful but by then we were fit to roll out of the place.  I would highly recommend this place if you are in Chinatown, it is authentic; by the time we were leaving the place was packed with Chinese people having lunch and we realised it was 1.30…we had been there eating for literally 2 hours.  A word of warning, don’t order like its your normal Saturday night Chinese, everything is made for sharing and you will have more than enough!  Even when we tried to go to dinner that night at 9 we couldn’t do The Meatball Shop in Bedford justice, we were still epically full from our Chinese brunch.

Peking Duck


General Tsao's Chicken
Name and Address if anyone fancies a visit

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