Friday, 15 November 2013

This is my last post here on WoodandChocolate. It's been a crazy, fun adventure and I've learnt so much by blogging but I'm moving into the realm of grownup-slash-business and so have put together this {well I think so} beautiful website...

Please check it out and from now on, everything will be over grownup-slash-business...

I hope you enjoy, like it, leave a comment and do a little dance!

So here it is:

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Crystallise me

I'm a little nervous. It's the first week of November and having just moved into my new house {yes, very exciting!} it would be lovely to spend some time here. But, and it's a big one, I just don't have that option. From here until the end of November I am off working all over the place and then I am off on a little holiday for a month. Which means I won't get to live in my new house for the whole of December... Back to Mexico I go and I'm happy that I will be coming back with my tan!

In this week that I have in my lovely new home I have one more fantastic shoot with the gorgeously talented Yolene {@cremedacitron}. She is a seriously talented and lovely person and I feel that I've made a real friend.

In preparation for this exciting shoot {pictures to follow} I had to get my crystallisation on. Spending a couple of hours with the sun flooding through my new kitchen window was a joy. A fiddly, messy and sometimes quite frustrating joy that was fun, maybe I could start a flower crystallisation factory...hmmm

I went with some gorgeously pink tinged hydrangeas and some roses....are you excited to see how I'm going to use them???

It's such a simple process and once done they can last for quite a while if stored correctly. An air tight container with some kitchen paper in between  layers so the moisture doesn't circulate. So, what do you egg white and caster sugar. Yeah. It really is that easy!

Gently pull off individual petals, be really careful with this as they will bruise and this can show! If your flowers are really iccle then I would crystallise the whole thing {I did this for the individual hydrangea flowers}. In order for them to keep for months you must crystallise both sides. So paint with egg white, gently, and then sprinkle with caster sugar. If you dip I find that the sugar sticks in blobs rather than a beautiful shimmer of sugar.

So once you've painted and sprinkled lay, not touching, on newspaper and preferably in a warm place/in the sun so that they dry asap.

Once dry, store as mentioned above. Happy crystallising.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Kale Chips

Now, I know that these green pieces of crispiness are around everywhere and it was a massive trend about 6 months ago but it's about time to make your own. Store bought is dry and full of bad stuff {surprise surprise}

Kale chips are the easy-peasy-no-hassle to make with only one thing you should worry about. Timing. There have been many a time where I've checked them and thought 'oh, just 1 more minute. I've got time to do this' and poof! Hello big pan of burnt kale chips. Very sad indeed.

Kale is fully packed vitamin and anti-oxident brassica that you want to start eating. If you already eat it, eat more! It's a great source of Iron, Vit K and is fab for cardio vascular support.  There are plenty of types from curly to cavelo negro. Any of the varieties are good for you but the best one for crisps is the curly.

These crisps are a healthy, tangy snack. You get to chose your spice {my preference is cayenne} and it takes all of 6 minutes. Make sure your kale is clean and dry. If the pieces are still wet from washing they won't crisp up and it'll be a waste of time.

I just break off pieces of the leaves and pop onto a baking tray. You kind of want bite size pieces, easy to pop into your mouth! Simply drizzle with oil {I use coconut} and not too much then sprinkle over some chunky salt and your desired spice. Give it all a good mix and make sure the leaves are coated then pop into a pre-heated overn at 190C. Stand by your oven! Do not move, check after 5 minutes and see how crispy they are. If at all they go brown, take them out immediately. It really is a case of 'take your eye of the ball and you lose'.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Lemon and Cayenne marinated Halloumi

Until recently I had never been a fan of this hard but soft cheese. I mean who really likes to chew on something that squeaks every time you bite down on it? But then I tried some on a vegetarian platter that wasn't squeaky and chewy at all and decided that I could, indeed eat this. So I bought a block and seeing as it's not the most flavourful cheese decided to marinade it in some flavours that will pop and excite your taste buds.

Limes, limes, limes. These green little balls of tangy zest remind me so much of my time in Mexico as lemons just weren't available. Used for a range of different things like margaritas, marinades, salad dressings, tequilla, fish and much much more, it just seems to transport me back to temperatures that sore over 30C and the beach. And although not so great for the enamel on your teeth, limes along with other citrus fruit have fab antibacterial properties. Wondered why people always tell you to drink hot lemon and ginger when you have a sore throat?!

Lime and chillies are a match made in heaven, not only in the taste department! I've use chillies a lot {here and here} and I love this flavour combo. A sharp taste followed by a peppery hit which is soothed by the sharpness of the lime. It's perfect! If I had a pestle and mortar I would have bashed up these tiny chillies up some more to get all the punch out of them and into the marinade but no such luck for me. If you do have one, give them a good bash! And because I didn't, I used ½ tsp of cayenne pepper just to get some more spiciness into the marinade!

Now, let's talk halloumi. Not suitable for vegans, it's quite a weird type of cheese. Even if your a veggie be careful as it is made with rennet and not necessarily vegetarian rennet. This cheese is originally from Cyprus and apparantly dates back all the way to AD390…it's quite unusual in the sense that no acid or acid bacterium is used during it's making. One traditional way of storing halloumi was wrapped in mint leaves. Kind of cool huh!


1 pack of halloumi
1teaspoon of dried {and bashed} chillies
juice of 2 limes/lemons
1tbsp sunflower oil
-if you want your marinade extra spicy, add ½ tsp of cayenne pepper.

Cut halloumi into slices slightly larger than 1cm. In a jar place all the marinade ingredients and give it a good shake. Pack in the halloumi and leave for at least 24hours in the fridge.

To cook, heat a pan, pour some of the marinade in and then lay the slices down. Check to see when colour goes golden brown then turn over. Serve with fresh tomatoes and some microgreens. No need for salt as this cheese is very salty!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Perfect Saturday

It started with blue skies {a mild hangover} and the feeling that maybe staying in bed could be the best thing ever. But it just wasn't so. Bed wasn't the best thing. There were simply far better and more amazing things in store. After a slightly long winded round about journey to the north side of Dublin we landed at the Botanical Gardens where there was just so much awaiting us.

Autumn is definitely here and even though we started with blue skies they didn't last for long, there was no place I would have rather been on this particular Saturday even when the heavens opened. The colours that surrounded us as we wondered and pondered. I must say, as a girl who is not used to cold weather I find myself utterly inspired my the colours of Irish Autumn. As you enter the black and gold gates, a view of olden day glass houses awaits you at the top of the pathway and you can imagine Victorian era horse and carriages riding past you. What awaits inside is an absolute wonder.

I was excited to enter the first glass house and couldn't believe my luck when I found it full of tropical plants and flowers that I was lucky enough to have been surrounded by during my time in Mexico. I couldn't quite believe that there I was walking under banana plants, next to agave cactus, bougainvillaea and much more. It was a welcome reminder of all the wonderful times I had been lucky enough to have during my time in the Yucatan.

The rain did end up getting the better of us but having the luxury of ducking into these intricate glass houses was a god send {it also helped that we wanted to take a gazzilion pics!} There literally is something for everyone at the Botanical Gardens. Orchids and roses, trees rising to the heavens and waterfalls, rock gardens and oriental trees, sculptures and displays. It's magical.

We were even accompanied by a local! If you ever get the chance to visit, please do. The Botanical Gardens are totally free. As in, you don't have to pay an entry fee or anything else. Isn't that fantastic?! Go and support. Have a coffee, see the art exhibitions, walk around and revel in the fact that this wonderful place is available and open for us, the people of Dublin.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Smoked haddock endive cups

It's cold outside. That sentence will be appearing a lot in my future blog posts as winter comes hurtling towards us at a speed I've not been aware of. I dream of sunshine, white sand between my toes and turquoise water. Oh, how I have been spoilt for the last 5 years of my life living in Mexico.

This recipe is a little homage to sunnier climes and while the heating is on full whack gives me a little bit of a beach feeling!

Smoked haddock. There are two camps. The yellow dyed one and the natural coloured one. I'm the camp for the natural look {no surprises there!}. Not that I wouldn't eat it if served, but I just wonder what exactly that food colouring is doing to my body. Fish, as we know is full of good oils. Oils that help our joints stay limber, help our cells to keep re-building and help our brains to keep ticking over.

I find that endives get a bit of marmite reaction. You love them or you hate them. I'm a lover but it wasn't always so. Long ago as a child I remember a mouthful of salad with chopped endives, walnuts and bitter lemon. Ooof! My mouth still puckers at the memory of full on bitterness. A lesson to remember that flavours need to be mixed and complimented. There are many types of endives but in general you can count on them to provide a wide range of minerals {zinc, magnesium, iron etc}. Adding these leafy greens to your diet has been said to lower glucose levels which can only be a good thing!

1 piece of smoked haddock
½ spicy sweet pepper cut into thin strips
1 celery stick finely sliced
1 bulb of endive, washed, trimmed and laid out in individual leaves
some radish micro-greens

Place the fish in the pan, sprinkle black pepper over, squeeze some lime juice and put in the oven for 15mins at 190C or till cooked. In the meantime prep all the veggies. When the fish is cooked, with two forks gently flake the fish and fill each endive leaf with some fish, sprinkle over some slices of celery, a couple of slices of pepper and some radish micro-greens. Drizzle some olive oil and serve warm.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

It seems at this point in my life that if I turn around I have missed a day, maybe two. Life is is so busy and fun and exciting right now that it's so hard for me to take stock and say 'thank you' let alone write blog posts as regularly as I used to!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit Dingle for it's Food Festival and also to be part of the judging team at the Blas na hEireann Awards. This is the second time I've been on a judging team for food awards and I hope it continues. I love seeing all the different produce coming through, see those that make it through with a resounding 'yes' and those that get a resounding 'no' and to be able to identify why.  Not only is it such a fantastic learning experience but it's a great place to meet the most interesting foodies. From business owners to journalists to michelin star chefs and more, the buzz and the crowd that you are involved with is electric and super addictive!

However, there is a down side. The amount of food that was consumed this weekend was sinful. And my waist line can second that. Not only did each judge have to taste over 30products there was also the fabulous food trail as part of the Food Festival and who can resist? Really, could you? Especially with the sun shinning, no rain in sight it was a truly magical weekend and I can't wait to do it all again next year!

So after all that food me and my little red car trekked it all the way over to Scotland {about 8hours!} to go back for a week of being looked after my the rentals. The week is almost over and I've spent my days walking the dog, cooking up lots of food for the blog and taking it easy! It's exciting to be in the first stages of setting up shop as your own boss. I've done it before but this, food styling and home ec is something I love. I just can't explain it. I feel that I'm in my zone. So it was fab to one, get my new logo up and running {designed by the fab @BAR8E7} and rummaging through hundreds of boxes to find some fab props!

And before I sign off, I just want to say a big thank you to all of my virtual friends who read this blog, leave comments and support me on this exciting and new journey. More recipes coming soon!