Wednesday, December 8, 2010


My favourite newspaper of the week is The Irish Times on a Saturday.  I immediately turn to Roisin Ingle's article which is usually amusing and always thought provoking.  Second comes Domini Kemp's "Taste" - excellent recipes with an always interesting introduction, then the book reviews and finally the actual news section!

I read about The Cookbook Club in the Irish Times and filed it away for a time when I was available to go to Dublin on a first Monday of the month - the idea is that you go to a restaurant where the meal has been cooked from a particular cookbook (choices of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts) and the author will circulate for a chat - fantastic idea (and as it turned out a fantastic evening).

After a couple of months when I would have loved to have attended but couldn't I was able to go this month - Yahoo!!  All the planets were in configuration for this visit (!) as a couple of days after I had booked for the club a review copy of the featured cookbook arrived from the publishers - Yahoo x 100!!

Domini Kemp's (yeah!) Itsa Cookbook, is a well written (very relaxed) book, with fantastic photos by Joanne Murphy (I wish I had 1/80th of her talent!!), the recipes are easy to follow (although tin sizes are left out of some of the baked recipes, which could make timings a bit difficult) and tasty, plenty of everyday ideas with some special occasion ones too.

Now if I were a totally together blogger (person even) I would have taken beautiful photos of the dishes served at the cookbook club - and actually in my imagination I did so, but in reality I forgot to turn the flash on (in a basement restaurant!!!) so the photos leave alot to be desired, and it was such a good idea!  But I can tell you that the food was excellent, the company was fantastic too.  I met an old (obviously not in age Ruth!) school pal, whom I haven't seen in about ten years!, and some new friends too (fellow bloggers from Texas, now living in Dublin), along with the wonderful Amo who came with me, which all added up to one of the best evenings of the year.

I have (of course) also cooked a number of dishes from the book, and they all turned out well, the flourless chocolate cake being a particular favourite.

The crab cakes were delicious and light, they are made with Carr's Water Biscuits (crackers) and tasted light and intensely crabby (if that's a word!).

The Granola Goodness Bars went down well, Brownieville Boy #1, has been taking them to college with him (excellent breakfast on the run!)

Grandmother McGrath's Soda Bread - I was afraid that this bread would be too sweet (there is both honey and brown sugar in the recipe) but it turned out very well - another for the repertoire!

The Rich Flourless Chocolate Cake - need I say more!!

Actually this one deserves a post on it's own, will put it up very soon.

Pea, Mint and Roast Garlic Soup - sent my poor son outside to get this photo!!  But it really was what was needed on that cold, snowy day.  (I left out the cream from this soup, and I think it was excellent without - the roast garlic adds alot to the flavour)

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Lemon and Hazelnuts - I used tenderstem broccoli for this recipe and it is already a firm favourite.

Irish Rarebit -I haven't had Welsh Rarebit but I think the difference (other than using Irish cheddar) is the brown soda toast!!

Tastes good though.

Coriander Chicken - I marinaded four chicken breasts, then cooked two and put the other two (still in their marinade) in the freezer.  The frozen ones were even better than the fresh when I used them!!


The Crabcakes with lemon and caper salsa were delicious.

The kind gentleman sitting opposite took a photo of his  soup for me, and what's more gave me a taste - excellent.

Even with my low standards the photo of Amo's Buffalo mozzarella, black olive and grape salad isn't worth showing - but it tasted wonderful.

  Sharon who writes Gunternation kindly took a photo of her Blackened  Salmon - she said it was excellent.

My Duck Dal Supper served with moong dal, was probably the dish of the evening - looking forward to trying this soon.

The Pasta Salad with Sage, Sweet Potato and Hulloumi was much appreciated by my veggie friend.

At long last I realized my mistake!!  This is the Ginger and Blackberry Pudding - what an excellent combination.  When I make this (looking forward to blackberry season already!) I will use less sugar and more blackberries

Sharon was again called upon to photograph her meal!!!!

She enjoyed the Fig Tart with Apricot Jam.

These Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes (served with a caramel ice-cream) were very popular.

This Broad Bean Hummus is an excellent standby to have in the fridge at this (or any) time of year - it is good and healthy, with a good flavour kick and a hint of summer!!

I made a half quantity, as follows:

Broad Bean Hummus

250g    Broad Beans (I used frozen)
5          garlic cloves
100ml  water
good dash olive oil
1 tbsp  lemon juice
1 tbsp  chopped mint
salt and pepper

Simmer the garlic in the water for a few minutes, add the frozen beans and simmer until warmed through.
Discard half of the water.
Add the lemon juice, mint and olive oil.
Blend with a stick blender, adding a small amount of water if necessary.
Season and chill.
Delicious served with sourdough toast.

This will last for a few days in the fridge.


Domini's book is available here at a reduced price!


Biren said...

So cool to get a cookbook to review. tried out so many dishes and they all look super. I have seen so many flourless chocolate cakes but have yet to try my hands at one. I really should as I do have some gluten challenges to deal with.

Never thought of using broad beans for hummus but it sounds like a good idea. The color is lovely.

Lucie said...

All wonderful BVG!!

Zoe said...

I can see that you have been doing lots of delicious cooking lately. I laughed about your remark of your "crabby" cakes :P This cookbook seems to try to find it online :D

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Thank goodness I just had dinner or I'd be starving! Like the hummus recipe - thanks! Have a good one!

Unknown said...

excellent photography there BVG... I'm loving the broadbean humus... very summery to see something like this on the run up to Chrimbo when everyone else is doing the pies and stews etc... delicious!

Sommer said...

I freaking LOOOOOVE your cookbook reviews!! You always do an excellent job! And the dishes at the Cookbook Club looks amazing! I wish I had such an opportunity!

Chele said...

Such a fab idea - I need to remember this club for the next time I'm heading over to Dublin too. Great review ;0)

Unknown said...

Sounds like it was such an enjoyable night! You must post the molten cake recipe like you promised ;) my husband makes one but I think it's time to try a new recipe!

That hummus looks great too, love the mint in it!

Chef Bee said...

Great evening. The dish looks wonderful. I look forward to more of your reviews.

Plan B

Hanaâ said...

Congrats on doing the cookbook review. You sure cooked up a storm and everything looks delicious. At first sight, I thought the Hummus was Guacamole :o) I love that this Hummus recipe doesn't include Tahini (which I'm allergic to).

Unknown said...

It all looks great but I must say the flourless chocolate cake look unbelievably good. I'm going to have to look this book up. X

Anonymous said...

What a great post!!! And what a fun idea.

Annie said...

what fun! and isn't crabby such a versatile word?

freerangegirl said...

What a feast! I love broad bean hummus it's got so much more flavour than chickpea hummus - and great photos too - love the Christmas plates!

Sharon said...

What a lot of cooking you've done! And it's great that you got to go to the cookbook club. I went to the November evening and really enjoyed it. Elaine is lovely, isn't she?
I hope you're enjoying lots of mulled wine these days and looking forward to cooking up a storm for Christmas!