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Ethiopian Food

5 Sep

Last night for the first time I visited an Ethiopian Restaurant with two friends.
This colourfully decorated restaurant is at the end of a pretty non-descript row of shops in Hamilton Hill.
We ordered Sambusa (similar to Indian samosas) while perusing the menu and quickly ordered a second portion as they were so tasty and arrived with a lovely sour cream dip!
Not entirely sure what to order we asked for help and the chef came out of the kitchen and suggested she order for us. Although not on the menu she suggested we try Mesob Dining for three people (the options are 2 people or 4 people on the menu)
A large wicker basket similar in shape to a tagine was placed on our table, when the lid was lift there was a metal tray with crumpet like pancakes. One pancake was placed flat on the tray and onto this our lovely waitress spooned out the four hot dishes so that each of us had an over lapping portion of everything in front of us. We were then shown how to use the pancake to scoop the food up or spoon fillings into and use like a tortilla wrap. Eating without cutlery may seem like an adult version of baby led weaning but it was very social and relaxing to all be sitting around sharing from the same plate. We were offered additional pancakes which we accepted, I found these to be light and not as filling as bread or tortilla wraps. There was a lentil daal-like dish, a vegetable dish which included large pieces of potato (always a winner with the Irish girl!) and two meat dishes one beef and one lamb. All were lightly spiced and full of flavour.
After dinner we had coffee served in espresso size cups which was so rich and fragrant I spent more time enjoying the amazing aroma than actually drinking it! I didn’t ask what was in it but the strong aroma of cloves brought back lovely memories for me of hot whiskeys and my Granny’s ever full jar of clove rock. Food memories – you can’t beat them!
Service was prompt and friendly.
Great atmosphere, fun environment and good food.
BYO
A good start to my 35th year 

Ethiopian Restaurant http://ethioca.com/index.html

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Party Foods Ideas

23 Aug
It must be party season as I’ve had two lovely readers of my blog ask me for some ideas for party food/nibbles in the last 24 hours. I am no expert but I was flattered to be asked so here are some ideas, hope you like them.
I always endeavour to have party food as relaxed as possible .. so lots of helping yourself and different tastes keeps everyone interested and can be good to break the ice without interrupting the flow of conversation!
 – Hummus is always a winner, the recipe on my blog is my favourite and lately I’ve been adding extra smoked paprika and cayenne pepper for a new dimension! Serve with crackers, toasted sourdough or veggies (sticks of carrots, celery, red capsicums/peppers are very appealing on the eye and great to munch on!)
 – Roasted chickpeas are so tasty and crunchy, a great nibble to have with drinks and chats – soak more chickpeas than you need for the hummus, dry them off and pop on a tray in the oven with some oil (I use coconut but olive is good) and spices. Here’s what Martha Stewart says but don’t be afraid to play around with the spices, you can’t go wrong.
 – Creamy Salmon Dip – this is a recipe my lovely Aunty Sally makes for parties & its gorgeous! 1 tin red salmon, 1 foil packet full fat philidelphia – whizz together then add juice of a lemon and 5/6 drops tabasco. Whizz again and serve with crackers!
 – Smoked salmon on brown bread – Always a winner and a stable of the Hurley homestead! Finger size slices of good brown bread (or your favourite type), real butter, smoked salmon with wedges of lemon on the side and sprinkle over some capers if you like those little fellas! Very easy to assemble.
 – Guacamole / Pico de Gallo – The key with avocados is plenty of salt, fresh coriander and lime juice! My Aussie cousin adds cherry tomato halves to her guac and its really good for picnics and parties. There is no definite recipe for this but as a guide try mixing together 2 avocados (mashed), 1 chilli sliced, handful coriander chopped, clove garlic squished, juice of 2 limes, 2 pinches of salt and 5 cherry tomatoes halved! For me, the more rustic the better but its totally up to you. Tip: If making in advance leave the stone from the avocado in the bowl, it will prevent it going brown/discolouring.
 – Cheese board – I use a wooden chopping board, 3 cheeses (don’t stress about the types but a cheddar, a brie and a blue work well. There are no rules!), sliced pear/apple, some grapes/strawberries and some nuts will look fab and there’ll be something for everyone. Place a few knives on the board, some crackers nearby and let everyone help themselves. Its real DIY nibbly food and people will go back time and time again.
Salted Caramel Haloumi and Apple – this recipe is on my blog and is so simple to make its always a shock how tasty it is! Cut the haloumi and apple smaller than usual and serve with toothpicks on the side to everyone can spear a bit of each and get the full yummy effect!
Caprese on a stick! – I love these as they look pretty. On a toothpick put one small mozzerella ball , one cherry tomato and a leaf of basil in between. A mouthful of beautiful fresh caprese salad.

Lots of colour to attract the eyes and simple flavours to satisfy the tastebuds!

What are your favourite party foods?

Enjoy x

Working 9 to 5 …..

20 Aug

I GOT A JOB!

So here I am, a veritable Dolly Parton, after 18 months of enforced retirement I am back in the rat race … and it feels good!
Of course it also means I don’t have as much time on my hands …but I barely even notice to be honest, that saying about asking a busy person to do stuff is so true!
I’ve been making lots of nice salads and tasty meals lately that double up as good lunchbox fillers for the following day but I am so hungry after a hard days work (ahem) that I haven’t been taking photos .. that shall ALL change from here on in!

In the meantime here is one of our favourite side dishes of the moment .. sounds unusual when you read it first but really tasty ..go on, try it!

Warm Tomato Salad (from Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals)

You Need:

500g tomatoes (I have used both cherry toms and the large ones, all taste good choice is yours)

1 lemon

1 tsp chilli powder (don’t be scared)

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 cloves of garlic

You Do:

Halve the cherry toms or chop the large toms.

Finely slice half the lemon (skin and all)

In a pan over heat: 1 tablespoon of oil (I used coconut but whatever you have is good), chilli powder, mustard seeds and sliced lemon

Squash in the garlic cloves & squeeze over the remaining juice from the lemon. Add the tomatoes and toss around for 30 seconds.

Season to taste and serve.

Delicious as a side dish with meat.

Enjoy x

Cauliflower Two Ways, kind of!

1 Jul

I love cauliflower, always have!

I’ve great food memories of eating it smothered in cheese sauce with mashed potatoes, roast lamb and gravy .. so tasty, a real Sunday dinner!

Recently I’ve been experimenting with roasting cauli in a little coconut oil with cumin seeds and some chilli, it works really well as long as you don’t over do it in which case it becomes really dry.

This recipe from My New Roots solves the over cooking problem as the tandoori yoghurt paste encases the whole cauliflower and it stays really moist and delicious inside. It also looks really cool!

If you don’t have all the spices (nor the inclination) to make the tandoori mix up yourself a pre-made spice mix or paste will work just as well. Pataks are readily available in both Ireland and Australia and are decent quality (Jamie Oliver recommends them doncha know?). Green Saffron is an Irish spice company whose mixes I used all the time when at home, available in Avoca, online and I believe now in some of the large supermarket chains.  I’m not an expert of any sort on Indian spices but I’d imagine this would work with any type of curry paste, I’d give it a go if I was in a hurry anyway.

tandoori cauli

I made this last friday and there was at least two thirds left over so I chopped it up the next day, made a quick cheesy sauce (sour cream, grated cheese, dijon mustard and drop of milk) poured it over and into the oven for about 10 minutes .. it was wonderful! The cheese worked really well with the spices and the result was comfort food at its best.

I often feel cauli is one of those vegetables that people either love or hate, perhaps childhood/school memories of it being over cooked into tasteless mush contribute to this? But its a veg I would reccommend you give another go, it works really well with indian and middle eastern flavours. Its packed full of vitamins, anti oxidants and other healthy stuff .. its cheap, it can be easily grown and its pretty like a flower … have I convinced you yet?

Do you have any other ideas for cauliflower? What’s your favourite way to eat it?

SJ x

 

*Photo from My New Roots site

Mint and Lime Quinoa Salad

26 Apr

I’ve been making this salad lately its quick, tasty, contains a superfood and is a fab accompaniment to BBQ meats especially lamb.

If you follow me on twitter you’ll be aware that I made a holy show of myself recently attempting to cook quinoa. I added 1 cup grain, 2 cups water and brought to the boil for 7 min but the grain wasn’t performing as usual, that is to puff up and become somewhat translucent .. so I continued to boil it … and boil it and boil it! I was SWEATING as my guests were arriving in no time. It was only after a number of very panicked tweets asking had anyone else EVER had UNCOOKABLE quinoa did the dreadful truth dawn on me…. Wait for it …. I had picked up the wrong bag and was boiling .. SESAME SEEDS. I did not know whether to laugh or cry … I seriously considered deleting my twitter account such was public shame! But there were more pressing matters … my guests were still going to arrive so I had to burst off to the supermarket to acquire some actual quinoa (of course there was only frightfully expensive organic sort in kilo bags for sale…of course!!!!) ..everything worked out fine, the salad was gorgeous and I had a great story to tell over dinner. I did however look like I’d been dragged through a ditch backwards as I’d spent my allotted “getting ready time” rally driving back from the supermarket!

The lessons learned are as follows: 1. No matter how much you cooked sesame seeds they will not become quinoa 2. If buying your grains/seeds in bulk and inclined to be an eejet, label the bags!

Mint and Lime Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 2 limes
A handful of fresh mint leaves chopped
A handful of fresh corinader or italian parsley chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
A handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons diced red onion- or use 2 chopped spring onions
1 garlic clove, minced
Instructions:
Boil the quinoa in 2 cups fresh water with a pinch of salt for seven minutes
Drain, retaining as much water as possible, topping up with boiling water from the kettle. (There needs to be sufficient water to steam and not dry out, but not so much that the sieve is sitting in the water)
Steam the quinoa for a further 7 min in the sieve over the boiling water, cover with a double layer of kitchen paper and place saucepan lid on top. This will result in lovely fluffy and light quinoa.
Scoop the cooked quinoa into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss lightly with a fork until combined.
Taste test and adjust seasonings.
Cover and chill.
This salad can be eaten warm (as it was in the story above) but is also really good cold and lasts a few days in the fridge
Adapted from this recipe 
Enjoy
SJ x

Salted Caramel Halloumi & Apple

24 Apr

Halloumi is a food that I have known about for years, eaten once or twice in restaurants but never prepared at home until I moved here.

Never heard of it or don’t know what it is … here’s the spiel:

Halloumi or Hallumi is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goats’ and sheep milk, and sometimes also cows’ milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. Halloumi is set with rennet and is unusual in that no acid or acid-producing bacterium is used in its preparation.

 

If you’ve never tried it then do, its different to other cheeses in texture and makes a great meaty addition to salads. The only way I have ever eaten it is sliced and fried or grilled …and my friend tells me its great done on the BBQ so I must try that soon!  Trust me its delish!

This recipe is from Sarah Wilson and is a really handy and quick snack when you’re hungry but trying not to reach for sweet or unhealthy food.

SALTED CARAMEL HALOUMI & APPLE

1 apple sliced into 5mm wedges
6 slices haloumi cheese (cut 5mm thick)
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional but reccomended by me)
salt

Place the haloumi and apple slices in a hot non-stick pan.

Shake the pan a little so the haloumi juice spreads and coats the apple.

Cook both sides (until both apple and haloumi are a lovely caramel colour).

Toss cinnamon and salt over the lot and serve.

Beware you are going to want to lick the plate!

 

My thoughts on emigration

17 Apr

I was asked this week to write an opinion piece on emigration and returning to Ireland. So I did!

http://www.worldirish.com/story/32338-irish-woman-and-perth-resident-sarah-jane-hurley-reflects-on-emigration-and-moving-back-to-ireland

SJ x