The New Irish Table cookbook

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Simply stunning photos and recipes that make me excited to cook again! Visiting Ireland is now high on my list too. Each section begins with a brief introduction about the region and then dives into menus from a chef or two in that region.

Fall is coming, which means it is perfect timing for soups like Potato, Prawn & Lime or Carrot, Potato & Cumin. There are plenty of warming dishes.

I can tell that things like Cucumber Pickle and Goat Cheese Mousse will become pantry staples. I knew it was easy to do a quick semi-pickle, but adding whiskey … pure genius.

I love that the desserts range from a simple poached pears with cream up to a delightful mini trifle and things with meringue.

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I’d recommend this for foodies or for anyone who loves Ireland.

Persephone Lost mocktail

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Persephone Lost

Persephone Lost is a ruby red drink featuring pomegranate and a splash of the incomparable elderflower.

Persephone was a beautiful goddess of nature, kidnapped by the admiring god of the underworld. After eating 6 pomegranate seeds, she was required to spend 6 months in the underworld every year (i.e., fall & winter), and her desolate mother causes the whole world to mourn with her.

Let’s toast to endings and the promise of spring to come!

Ingredients (makes 1 drink)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
  • 2 tsp elderflower syrup
  • 6 tsp lemon juice (a medium to large lemon)

Directions

  1. Chill the ingredients if not already chilled
  2. Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake
  3. Pour into a glass, using a strainer if you don’t like the pulp
  4. For a little tingle and lighter flavour, add a splash of soda water

You can also use ice but this will cause a bit of dilution and require faster drinking.

Cheers!

The London Cookbook (Ten Speed Press)

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Being a lover of all things British, I had high hopes for this cookbook that were most definitely answered. It starts with a background of London’s food scene before launching into the brilliant recipes.

The recipes combine elegant little snippets of context – tiny Snapchat like details about the chefs or restaurants that immediately conjure familiarity – with simple, clear instructions.

Traditional dishes like potted shrimp (loved by James Bond and his creator Ian Fleming) have been made stronger with modern touches. Other dishes are purely modern, such as flavourful morel mushrooms hiding under a “veil of lardo (pork fat)” with garlic shoots and tiny potatoes in Madeira. This is less complicated than I expected, but not as simple as some others.

What about the chorizo hotdog paired with onion marmalade and paprika aoili? Or charred leeks with chevre, browned butter and smoked almonds? Definitely yes yes yes.

Soups go from delicate to hearty, while summer pasta, pork shoulder and duck ragu all sound so delicious that I can’t wait for my next meal.

And an entire section devoted to vegetarian dishes that make you sit up and take notice. Roasted squash, spiced carrots or Indian-inspired potato chaat. The potato chaat in particular stands out, full of delicious spices and textures and flavours that are difficult to resist.

Seafood, fowl and red meat all get their own sections, with equally delicious recipes from a variety of cultural influences, such as short ribs with chickpeas, chard and middle eastern yogurt.

Now for the sweet lovers. How patiently you’ve been waiting for desserts. The London Cookbook does not disappoint. Which one to make first? What about a rich, dense cake dotted with juicy peaches? Maybe a warm walnut cherry cake or a creamy custard rich with the taste of dark sugar? Actually, I might have to take a moment to make the double-decker tart, a gooey, crunchy, sugary confection resembling a grown up candy bar.

Such a delightful book and PERFECT for British lovers, I received an ebook but I had to pre-order as soon as I saw it!

Jonboy caramels

A Whole Foods employee saw me eyeing up Jonboy caramels wistfully with my cart already full of chocolate, and he convinced me to try them out. Having seen them in farmer’s markets around town when I was off milk, I couldn’t resist (especially when they were offered as a treat!)

Inside the cute box is more nice packaging…

         

The old-fashioned wax paper unwraps to reveal a dainty log of caramel with tiny flecks of salt on the top. There’s the first delicate taste of caramel as it hits your tongue but when you bite into it, its like an explosion of creamy sugary goodness and a sharp salty counterpoint. I’ve never liked salt on sweets but these have convinced me otherwise.

At $8 a box, I consider them surprisingly worth it because you get plenty of them and just one will satisfy your sweet tooth for the day. Over the weeks I got to be an expert, sometimes putting them in salt first, other times deftly avoiding it till the end.

Oh the indignities I suffer to taste test all this for my blog…

Lille Belle Farms pistachio toffee in milk chocolate

Pistachio – my favorite nut. Milk chocolate – my favorite chocolate. Toffee – delicious. All 3 together – where have you been all my life?! I was thrilled to find this chocolate bar and couldn’t wait to dig in.

 

The bar has big pieces of pistachio, none of that faux pistachio flavoring. The chocolate is sweet and only a tad milky, and pretty good for American chocolate. I highly recommend it for a sweet and unusual treat.

 

Secret Garden tea room in Sumner

Some time ago a friend and I decided on a delicious quest – to eat our way through local tea rooms in search of the perfect High Tea. After a longish pause due to food intolerances, I’m happy to be back on this quest once again.

While the Secret Garden tea room in Sumner, WA might not be perfect, it is one of the best I’ve had and easily the best in the Northwest. One Friday afternoon I had some unexpected free time and we wandered down to Sumner. We were lucky enough to find a spot available in a few hours and after wandering local antique stores, we came back.

Located in a beautiful old mansion, the tea room was large and bustling with people. We took a peek at their gift shop, where we found charming items like a small set of mussy tussies, little fabric bags for holding a bouquet or sachet.

The menu has a good selection of options, I got the Hollyhock for ~$27 that includes a cup of soup, a small salad, unlimited scones and tea (!!), a plate of sweets, a plate of fruit and a plate of savory sandwiches.

First up was the unlimited scones and tea. It was wonderful, the tea was excellent and very hot. This is one of the most common and infuriating failings in a tea room, so high points on the tea. The cup was not heated (you can see my attempt to warm it), which would’ve been nice, but wasn’t a big deal.

I was a little dubious of the pumpkin with coconut milk, ginger and lemongrass but I was really hungry so I ordered it. What a pleasant surprise, a warming and fragrant soup served in a tea cup.

The scones came with as much Devonshire cream, lemon curd and strawberry jam we could stuff done. The scone was light and fluffy and not too heavy. The lemon curd was good but a bit sweet, more like Americans seem to love, so I piled mine high with the amazing cream and jam. Mmm!

Next up was a palate cleanser of mango sorbet, served in a pewter egg cup, which I really must do at home. The mango flavor was nice and strong.

And finally the main courses. So much food. For sweets there was pumpkin mousse, apple cake, truffles, hazelnut shortbread and chocolate-center cookies. Then fresh fruit alongside bacon bruschetta (yes bacon!), Gruyere pastry puffs and olive quiche. Lastly the sandwiches, cucumber on fresh butter, creamy chicken salad with nuts and cranberries, and a divine dill egg salad.

The bread was soft and firm, not at all mushy, and everything was incredibly fresh. It obviously was made mostly to order, and best of all we had a leisurely hour and a half to consume all these delectables over multiple courses.

Highly recommended!

Chocolate Review! Mahalo bar and peanut butter patties

Another trip down the chocolate aisle has produced two new contenders. I’ll jump right in, starting with the Mahalo bar made by Go Max Go. This is like a vegan almond joy, with smooth milk chocolate coating the sweet, dense coconut interspersed with almonds.

The Mahalo is a definite success, with the chocolate tasting milky and the whole thing not being too sweet but still giving you that candy bar high. A tasty and satisfying find for $3.

Next up are the Golden Smackers peanut butter patties, I had high hopes for these. They taste okay at first. The chocolate is not bad, the peanut flavor is fairly low but then there’s this odd bitter aftertaste. I’m not sure if I got a bad batch, sometimes sesame can taste that way. I would probably not get these again but I’d be willing to give it another try if they were sampling them.

PS: While we’re on the topic, these homemade almond joy bites from tasty-yummies look delicious if you’re in the mood to make some.