Hot Irish Whiskey – the cure for all ills….

27 Nov

I’ve caught “man flu”. There. I’ve said it.

And in actually vocalising it means that:

a. it does exist

b. it’s contagious

My dear husband began to feel ill on Sunday and suspecting this may be a case of man flu, I made the appropriate soothing sounds to ease his pain and make him feel better. Here in the U.K., man flu is quite a common phenomenon. Man flu is a pejoratively used phrase that refers to the idea that men, when they have a cold, exaggerate and claim they have the flu. Whilst a commonly used phrase in the UK, it is referred to in other cultures[1] and there is a continuing discourse over the scientific basis for the phrase.[2] As such, when my beloved complained of feeling congested and unwell, I was generous with my outpouring of sympathy while also suspecting that it wasn’t serious enough to call  999.

Roll on Monday and poor Mrs. Cherry has been the next unwitting victim of said lurgy. High temperature, aching joints and generally feeling “hurty” and quite sorry for oneself. As such, Chez Cherry is not exactly a barrel of laughs at present although at least we’ve had the added bonus of having a couple of days together to wallow in our own delerium. And on this basis I decided to make Hot Irish Whiskey. As an Irish woman,  my suggesting a hot whiskey at half past ten in the morning may just look like a thinly veiled attempt to go on the razzle dazzle but I can vouch for A FACT that imbibing the magical and restoring elixir that is a hot whiskey actually works. I personally am on a detox for November so I didn’t partake but Mr. Cherry himself did agree that said drink may be the cure to all his ills (including man flu) and consequently agreed to me making him on last night before bed.

Here’s my method:

Warm a glass with just boiled water. Empty out and then add a generous helping of whiskey and 1-2 spoons of brown sugar. Top up the glass with just boiled water (2.5 water: 1 whiskey), stir to allow the sugar disolve. Then get a slice of lemon and stick in 3-4 cloves into said lemon and pop into your hot whiskey. Allow to settle, then drink and allow the magic effects of said beverage to wash over you like a warm, fluffy blanket.

Holy moly, it’s guacamole!

25 Nov

I’ve heard it told, that in Mexico the recipe for a guacamole is as personal to the cook as a fingerprint is to each individual. No two gorgeous guacamole creations are ever the same and that’s just what a guacamole is….a creation, a work of art and a one-off that can never be replicated. Avocados are thankfully wonderfully abundant and even better than that is the fact that you can easily buy ready-to eat avocados too. If I don’t buy these I never manage to get my timings quite right, they are invariably either as hard as bullets or a sorry, gloopy expired mess. I’ve tried everything, putting unripened ones beside the apples, talking to them, putting them in sunlight and generally hoping for the best but thankfully these steps are no longer necessary – me and the ready-to-eat ones get on just fine!

After travelling along Route 66 this summer and experiencing some amazing Mexican food along the way, we’ve been having occassional Mexican evenings in the Cherry house. An extra big shout goes out to the delicious food in the well-known but dubiously named Pancho McGillicuddy’s in Williams, Arizona http://www.vivapanchos.com/. The name in itself conjures up images of a Darby O’Gill like waiter in a sombrero but thankfully all the staff were friendly, didn’t ask for gold coins and were all too happy to discuss the food with us and make their own recommendations. Then we come to THE best quesadilla I’ve ever experienced, the FigTree’s Cafe on Venice Beach in California http://figtreescafe.com/. I’m not sure if it was the ambience, the excitement of having just arrived in LA or if the food really was that amazing but I count it as one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was fresh, tasty and ever so delicious and has prompted many a Mexican evening subsequently.

I digress! I’m sharing my own guacemole recipe because I know it works and is so utterly moreish! All the required ingredients can be seen in the picture although the amount of chilli is entirely up to you, I like it hot enough to make me gurn so you will need to alter this to suit your own taste buds. All you need is the following:

  • 2 avocados
  • The juice of one lime
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • A bunch of fresh coriander – I always have a plant on the go in my kitchen to ensure it’s as fresh as possible. Always, ALWAYS use the stalks of the plant as well as the leaves as most of the flavour comes from the stalk and is an essential part of a lot of nice Thai dishes
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • A generous helping of coarse sea salt
  • Fresh chilli – start off with one small and vary according to taste

This should really be done in a mortar and pestle and results in a slightly chunkier texture but made it in my blender last night as we were eating late. Et voila – delilcious guacamole, an essential accompaniment to any Mexican evening!

Pizza Friday

23 Nov

If I have ever have the misfortune to find myself on Death Row (undoubtedly for some heinous crime committed whilst in the depths of extreme hunger, maybe conducting an armed robbery at a bakery or an artisan cheese shop) then I would have no hesitation in asking for my last meal to be a pizza. The pizza has a bad reputation due to it’s calorific content and is seen as the doyen of the junk food pyramid but I beg to differ. Yes, eating pizza every single day (although desirable) would most probably ultimately result in having to be airlifted by crane/helicopter out of one’s own home but a little of what you fancy is always a good idea. Consequently, in the Cherry household Friday is traditionally Pizza Friday. Yay!

I think the best pizza(s) I have ever had the sheer unadulterated joy to eat has been in Italy. I can’t actually recall the name of the litte restaurant as I’m sure my mind was on other things (probably food) but the eatery itself was up a little laneway in the sleepy village of San Marco di Castellabate which a beautiful little gem on the Cilento coast of Italy. An unassuming little place, we didn’t have any massive expectations as there was no sign to speak of and we went there purely based on the recommendation of a local man whose eyes glazed over at his retelling of the type of food that would await us. Later that evening we arrived and the little place was absolutely packed with local Italians (always a good sign). It was here the committed foodie had an internal battle of wills. Should I go for a beautiful plate of freshly-caught seafood in garlic and drizzled with the nectar-like olive oil (undoubtedly pressed by the chubby little mani of curly haired, doe-eyed cherubs) or would I go for a pizza? Decisions decisions…..it took me all of ten seconds to decide when the waiter passed by our table with a pizza the size of the moon and smelling of perfection…..

I had the Quattro Formaggi (Four Cheese) Pizza and I consider it now to have been a spiritual experience. It had a thick and crusty base which was good enough to eat on it’s own and then cheese. So much delicious, gooey, oozey, sticky, rich, oily, scrumptious and velvety cheese. I was so overcome I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, it was what I can only describe as perfection. Cilento is the beating heart of mozzarella di bufala country and it was a sheer joy to have those beautiful snow-white blobs of creaminess melt into the thick crust. As was the crumbly and delicious Parmigiano-Reggiano, the tasty addition of glorious gorgonzola and of course delicous pecorino. I lived in Italy as a student and I know a good pizza but neither before or since have I ever encountered one so wonderful (except the next day when I dragged my poor unsuspecting now-husband along so I could have it again)!

Closer to home, I feel that Paulie’s Pizza in Dublin 2 is worthy of a mention http://www.juniors.ie/paulies-pizza.php Although the establishment is bijou, its flavours and quality of food make up for its compactness and anyone who appreciates a good pizza should promptly put this on their to visit list. The chef there deserves a knighthood for services pizza. I was there a couple of weeks ago and had the Super Picante (pictured) which is spicy salami, fresh chilli, red peppers, rocket, tomato & smoked mozzarella…..heaven!

So there we are, pizza Friday it is. And just as well I’m writing this on a Friday or I fear I would have had to make an exception – all this talk of pizza makes me want one as soon as possible.

Don’t give a fig? You should!

22 Nov

I was in the greengrocer‘s yesterday and spotted the most deliciously ripe and juicy fresh figs. Figs are normally in season around Autumn time so I was lucky to find such delights at this time of year, they were literally ready to burst open with goodness. Many believe it was figs that were actually the fruit in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and not apples. They are also seen as one of the most sexy fruits there are (aside from the cherry obviously), the fig is often likended to a woman’s most intimate parts and considered one of the ultimate aphrodisiacs. They are also considered to be one of nature’s best laxatives however so I’m not sure how well the two would marry!

In any event, I took the little darlings home in my shopping bag and prepared them as a starter last night, which you can see a picture of above. I had some jolly little mozzarella balls to hand in the fridge so I cut each of the figs in half, popped a couple of the little mozzarella balls in the figs, and then wrapped the little figs up in their tasty parma ham coats. They looked like they’d just been aided by a paramedic for hypothermia with their little red blankets of ham lovingly wrapped around them. I then simply popped them in the oven on 180C for 10 minutes. I then drizzled with a simple balsamic dressing which I made with olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. I used an aged Spanish balsamic which was good enough to drink by itself so if doing this I’d use a really good quality one as it brought all the components together so well. So simple and so very very delicious.

Kitchen Delights!

22 Nov

I love nothing more than working my way around kitchen accessories and equipment shops. Some people get aroused when it comes to stationary and the titillating whiff of a magic marker, others get their jollies from shoes and the phallic undertones of a high heel (not that I’m in any way adverse to beautiful shoes you understand) but for me, kitchen shops make me a little hot under the collar. The STOCK shop on South King Street in Dublin 2 is a case in point. Regardless of your level of culinary expertise, Stock has something for everyone and has such a beautiful array of shiny and can’t-live-without stuff that you simply didn’t know you needed!

Another veritable little treasure trove is the wonderful Market 57 on Bridge Street in Westport, Co. Mayo – also known by it’s online moniker of www.kitchencookware.ie my darling husband bought me these adorable little egg pails there (pictured) a number of months ago which I love (these can also be found in Stock). Having moved to beautiful but rural West Wales I have missed the thrill of perusing such lip-licking emporiums and have undoubtedly kept the kitchen and homewares section of Amazon UK single-handedly afloat (especially after a glass of vino – tipsy shopping can be dangerous….I wish the wine bottle came with a warning that it can be bad for physical AND financial well-being). While this has been wonderful, nothing quite beats the joyful experience of touching and being able to marvel at the sheer brilliance of what amazing new inventions and fascinating curios there are to marvel at. Consequently, it was to my absolute delight this afternoon that I discovered the Bay Tree in a local market town within Carmarthenshire yesterday.

I’d passed the Bay Tree on a number of occassions and had made the ill-founded assumption that it was yet another Welsh souvenir shop. While a Welsh bonnet-clad doll may be a must-have for some people, it wouldn’t necessarily be featuring on my Christmas wish list. In any event I’m pleased to say that my preconcieved ideas were ill-founded. On having a  hurried glance in the window while passing by, I was literally stopped in my tracks by a display of what can only be described as an eye-catching and seductive display of goodies. I spent an hour in there. There were teeny, tiny, cheek-pinchingly cute and adorably lilliputian stoneware dishes with their own miniscule lids. I could picture hungry little elves crowded around a big pot of warm hearty reindeer stew or serving a delightful little single-serving of a warming fish pie.

There was every pot, pan, knife, whisk, ladel, dish and spoon known to and revered by any confirmed foodie and when I began to feel mildly faint and shaky the friendly proprieter told me to have a look upstairs….this was where all the baking accoutrements were waiting to be admired and an entirely new wave of desire struck. Adorable cupcake cases and numerous nozzles just begging to be used.  I came away with cupcake cases, a cake decorating kit, a plethora of nozzles, measuring cups, dainty and delicate little flower decorations and a big smile on my face. I hadn’t intended to start baking cakes but I think I’m going to have to now really, aren’t I?

Soup Glorious Soup!

17 Nov

What can I say? Where has this been on all my life? I recently went to visit my darling younger brother and his lovely new wife, Sarah. My sister-in-law is hugely enthusiastic about food (as am I) so we happily whiled away a few hours discussing all the amazing foods we have recently experienced. This brought us around to the subject of soup……, put it this way, smelling salts almost had to be administered post haste such was her shock to discover that I have never in my life made a pot of soup from scratch. I myself am not entirely sure where this gargantuan oversight has come from but I do know that since that fateful conversation, I am a voracious and eager maker of soup and have made up for lost time. I’m finding myself daydreaming about all the wonderful possible combinations of ingredients that could go into a delightful one pot wonder of magic. I’ve made her inspired carrot, ginger and chorizo soup served with my homemade Irish brown soda bread with butter. Today I’ve made spinach and potato soup with smoked bacon crutons…..who knows what delights tomorrow may bring!

Just 38 days until Christmas! \o/

16 Nov

A little taste of Christmas – probably my favourite time of the year! One of the main reasons for this is because of all the wonderfully festive treats available to feast on! I saw these delightful little cakes online today so I intend to make them for Christmas this year!

Hello world!

16 Nov

Welcome to my stream of consciousness!

As an aspiring writer, it occured to me recently (in an 140-watt lighbulb moment) that in order to be a respected and published writer, I really should start actually writing…… ‘Hold the phone!’, I hear you exclaim at this groundbreaking realisation! This revelation in itself may seem terribly elementary but actually starting is often the hardest part of any project don’t you agree? I also think a healthy pinch of sloth along with two teaspoons of procrastination on a low temperature over an extended period have been somewhat responsible.

I’m also the mistress of distraction and while I’ve been promising myself for months now that I would write, I’ve kept myself very busy with cooking many many wonderful meals, reading quite a lot of books, baking countless loaves of bread, travelling along Route 66 for a honeymoon roadtrip of a lifetime, taking up boat fishing, fostering a healthy addiction to online shopping, enjoying a lot of very romantic evenings in, moving country and last – but by no means least, getting married to a really rather splendid man, the love of my life – namely Mr. Cherry!

As such, as the newly appointed Mrs. Cherry I have made the conscious decision to blog. My aim is to bring you little bytes from all the weird and wonderful things that I encounter in person and online. In doing so I am hoping to nurture and develop my love of writing and in turn perhaps find a topic that interests me enough to explore further. I think sitting down at one’s laptop and starting a book is in itself a Herculean task but I am hoping that Cherrybytes will help get me started!

Thanks for reading xx