Friday, December 28, 2012

A toolbox and other delights from Brussels

As it's still technically Christmas indulgence time I'm taking a break this week from the Lunchbox Of The Week.

For 'taking a break' read eating so much cheese if you spot a talking Camembert in London next week that's me. We're staying with La Maman de Mr. Moustache in Brussels and as a result copious amounts of my favourite foods are being consumed:

Cheese, with a side portion of cheese, sprinkled with a little cheese, topped off with a slice of, oh OK then, cheese.

The Queen of the Cheeses - Truffle Pecorino
So this week Mr. Moustache had to do a DIY lunchbox. Or rather his toolbox.

Chocolate DIY. Courtesty of his cousins, a sweet gift from Die Schokoladenwerkstatt in Germany. Beautiful chocolate tools that you almost don't want to eat. Almost - that hammer has hammered its last cocoa nail.
Of course it's not just chocolate tools and cheese being consumed in Brussels. There's also been a little bit of this:
And some of these. Sure it would be rude not to have at least a few croissants. One or two pain au chocolats. With mirabelle jam. Wouldn't it?

Finished with...


Wait for it.


Yes. Oh yes. Oh yes.


  
Whatever you're indulging in I hope you're enjoying it. And remember, cheese is not just for Christmas - it's for life.


Bon appetit Xx.
______________________________________________________

If you'd like to see more delights from Brussels have a little read here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Christmas Lunchbox Of The Week

You won't fit a full turkey into a Lunchbox. Trust me on this one. But for this week's Lunchbox Of The Week it had to be a Santa hat tip to Christmas.

For those of you who like sprouts (shudder), you'll notice the absence of the little green monsters. For monsters are what they are and that's my final word on the subject.


The Christmas Lunchbox

Baked Brie pops (recipe here)
Turkey, ham, cranberry and sour dough sandwich
Mini roasties

Mr. Moustache's verdict? 'Ou est les sprouts?'

AHEM.

I''m at home for Christmas and that's one of the best feelings. Merry Christmas from Ireland Xx.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crispy cheesy crackers

I think you should take a little break. It's the week before Christmas and you're probably running around like a headless turkey.

Sit down there now and have some cheese and crackers with me. Sshh we won't tell a soul. 

Let me see how can I make that even better for you? How about if the cracker was made from cheese too? Like a cheesy cracker, mixed with some leeks. 

I give you the cheesy leeky cracker. 


Christmas can wait for a few minutes. But these little crackers won't. Mainly because I'll have eaten them all.

Enjoy, have a cracker, have a break.




Ingredients

(Makes approximately 32 crackers)

  
3 leeks
1 tsp olive oil
130g plain flour (and extra for flouring)
1/2 tsp sea salt
55g butter
160g cheddar (or hard cheese of your choice)
2 - 3 tbsp water
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling (optional) 

How to

Finely slice and dice the leeks. 


Pan fry the leeks in the olive oil over a medium heat until soft (approximately 4 minutes). Set aside and leave to cool. 

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, butter, cheddar and cooled leeks until they form a dough. It's easiest to use a food processor. I'm a bit of a hero and didn't. If the mixture doesn't combine to form a dough add 2 - 3 tbsp water to mix it together. 

Form the dough into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/355F.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Lightly flour a worktop and roll out the dough to 5mm. Using a cookie cutter or knife cut into desired shapes. 







Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown (12 minutes).


_____________________________________________________________

Looking for other canape or snack ideas? Why not try:


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Back to school...

I thought I was finished with school...I also thought I would never be so excited about going back to school.

Cookery school. 

In a couple of weeks I'm starting a full time diploma in the Leiths School of Food and Wine

Excuse me while I jump up and down and scream here.

SQUEAL.

OK, all done. That's the toned down version of how I'm feeling.

I'm nine parts ecstatic whisked in with one part oh-my-god-am-I-really-doing-this, sprinkled with a little hell-yes-I'm-doing-this.

So the knives have been ordered, chef's jacket, safety trainers and an interesting set of equipment including a trussing needle and a few other things I'm going to have to Google. Plus lots of those blue plasters. Lots. I can be a little very clumsy.

Mr. Moustache had one vital question: 'Do I get to eat the food?'. 

He does. He's happy. 

His gourmet guinea pig role begins on 2 January 2013. I can't wait...now where did I put that trussing needle?

______________________________________________________________________

Mr. Moustache if you're reading this (and you'd better be!) thank you for believing in me and helping me to live my dream Xxx.


A couple of months ago I wrote about how I ended up on this crazy journey:

"So a deep breath and time to finally say it out. My name's Laoise and I used to be a HR Manager. I've always had a dream I've been too scared to follow. Last year my dad became critically ill and after the most terrifying rollercoaster survived. The cliché that life's too short suddenly rang sharply true. I could have stayed where I was, keep being sucessful at it and ignore that niggling voice telling me this isn't what it's meant to be about. That little voice started shouting. Now I'm here in my own scary-exciting adventure not knowing where it's going to end up.

Following your dream is a beautiful thing. But it can also be like slowly peeling off a plaster as you wince with the pain of rejection. It makes you want to curl up into a little ball. Cover your face. Hide. Then slap yourself back into reality and tell yourself forget it. But then sometimes something happens that makes you go on."


Time to begin the next chapter. Let's go!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Asparagus in duvets

I spent a minute wondering if that title should read asparaguses. OK, it was a few minutes. It just sounds wrong doesn't it? But 'asparaguses' do exist. Apparently. According to the 'dictionary'. Hmmm.

Either way I really think you should also make these asparagus (asparaguses?!) in duvets. Let's call them little green vegetables in duvets shall we? With parma ham and parmesan. 


Serving them with The Very Hungry Caterpillar napkins is not obligatory.

Yes it is. I didn't know these napkins were missing from my life until I got them.

I'm loving these duvets/canapéfor a Christmas party....or New Year's eve....or Easter....Halloween...or World Knitting Day or...

Recipe

Ingredients (makes approximately 18 - 20 canapés)


6 asparagus spears
5 slices parma ham 
40g parmesan, grated 
2 sheets filo pastry
30g butter, melted 

How to

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until just tender ( 2 - 3 minutes). If you prefer a crunchier asparagus just leave this step out. Drain and set aside.

Brush 1 sheet of filo pastry with the melted butter. Place half the parma ham in the middle and sprinkle half the parmesan along it. 


Place 3 asparagus (aaah!) end to end on top of the parma ham and cheese. 


Roll tightly into a long sausage shape and brush lightly with melted butter. Nearly there...


(At this stage you can leave in the fridge until you're ready to cook them, or continue on). 

Cut diagonally into approximately 10 slices. 


Repeat with the other sheet of filo pastry. 

Bake for approximately 10 minutes on a baking tray. Until golden and crisp and all asparagusey-like.

You could also try with goat's cheese. Or remove the parma ham for a veggie version (Clever Cuisine Genie). There's no need for a sauce. BUT if you wanted to, and I certainly won't stop you, what about a little hollandaise on the side?

_________________________________________________
Looking for other canapé party ideas? You might also like:



Friday, December 07, 2012

Poptastic Lunchbox Of The Week

Ah there you are Friday, you've been a long time coming. Hang around for a while now please. Friday that is and you too dear reader.

This week's Lunchbox Of The Week is a little similar to last week's Lunchbox. I'm still all about milkshakes and this time it's an Oreo one, in Mr. Moustache's fancy new cup. There's about a gallon of it in there. And some sides of course.

Poptastic Lunchbox

Crispy popcorn chicken
Crispier onion rings
Crispiest toffee popcorn and Oreo cookies
That was the last crispy thing. Promise.
Oreo milkshake (not crispy)


Mr. Moustache's verdict? 'Crispy'.

If you liked this Lunchbox you may also enjoy the others here. Go on and take a little peek. 

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The (very) serious business of French toast. Part two.

Do you have a favourite food that you think there is no possible way it could get any better? You know that food you'd trample on your loved one for. Outta my way.

Like the perfect roast chicken. Or door-stop BLT sandwich. Or flaky beef wellington. Or crunchy fries. Or sticky toffee pudding. Or butterscotch sauce...or...

One of mine is a proper French toast. Like this sweet brioche one with carmelised banana and flaked almonds.  

Now I've a sweet tooth.....and also a lot of savoury ones...so I started thinking about how I could possibly make this favourite even better. This hard task has been carried out for your benefit also dear reader. I'm just that type of self-less person. 

So let's take some not-so-innocent French toast and add...oh, let's see, what about some creamy avocado and crispy smoked bacon?


Yes please. 

I'm not advocating eating this every day of the week...but on a wintery Wednesday no one's going to judge you for indulging now are they? 


Golden French toast combines with the crispy bacon and rich avocado and has a little party in your mouth. You'll want to keep eating it...and eating it....and eating it. Stop! Enjoy in moderation. Ahem.


Recipe 



Ingredients (serves 2) 

4 slices streaky bacon
1 ripe avocado
Salt and pepper, to season
2 medium free range eggs
60ml whole milk
4 slices bread
15g butter

How to...

It's best to use bread that is at least 1 day old. What a perfect excuse for using up those last few slices. 

Cook the bacon under a high grill until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, mash the avocado in a bowl with a fork and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while you make the French toast.

Whisk the eggs and milk in a medium sized bowl. Place the bread in the egg mixture and leave to soak for 1 minute, then turn the bread over. Don't let the bread get too soggy.

Melt the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. When the butter is sizzling add the bread and cook until both sides are golden brown. 

Top the toast with the avocado and bacon. 
____________________________________________________


Sunday, December 02, 2012

The (very) serious business of French Toast. Part One.

French toast is a serious business in our house. As serious as finding the perfect toasted cheese (a lengthy and in-depth research study). And making deconstructed Irish breakfasts. Sampling hot chocolate flavours (of which there are many). And most serious of all, making pop-shaped brie bites.

But back to the current serious business at hand. When I was younger I used to call French toast eggy bread (clever child). But a bread by any other name would taste just as sweet. Dipped in egg and milk and fried in butter. What could be simpler and the perfect weekend breakfast treat? Let's add some caramelised banana and flaked almonds. If it's good enough for a banana split it's good enough for my breakfast.

Sweet brioche French toast with caramelised banana and toasted almonds. 
That'll do nicely. 

Recipe 


Ingredients (serves 2) 

1 tbsp flaked almonds
2 free range eggs, medium
60ml whole milk
4 slices of brioche bread (or bread of your choice)
30g butter
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp hot water
1 banana, sliced

How to...

It's best to use bread that is at least 1 day old. What a perfect excuse for using up those last few slices. 

Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan on a high heat until golden brown (approximately 2 - 3 minutes). They can burn easily so be sure to keep a beady eye on them.

Whisk the eggs and milk in a medium sized bowl. Place the bread in the egg mixture and leave to soak for 1 minute, then turn the bread over. Don't let the bread get too soggy.

Melt half the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat. When the butter is sizzling add the bread and cook  until both sides are golden brown. Place on a warm plate and keep warm while you look after the caramelised banana.

Heat the caster sugar and water in a saucepan on a high heat until the sugar starts to caramelise. Add the butter and stir well. Add the banana and cook until golden brown.

Top with the banana and flaked almonds. Sweet. Like life on a lazy Sunday...not very serious after all.


______________________________________________________
Prefer your French toast savoury instead? Check out: