Saturday, December 3, 2011

Trip to 2 & 4 Cafe

How exciting! My first post from London!
Everything is going really fantastically here in the land of Love Actually (which I've been watching since it's officially THAT TIME OF YEAR) and I've been enjoying finding lovely places in this sprawling city to start to make my regular haunts.
I definitely found one earlier in the beautiful surroundings of the cafe 2 & 4 just across from Shoreditch Park in Hackney which I've been spying for the past couple of weeks on the way to work aloft the 141 bus. It's part cafe, part design studio where the owner has on display his refurbished furniture (such as couches and tables) and it's his wife that makes the cakes!

I've never had a cake so fresh or 'homemade' tasting in a cafe before- it was fabulous. I went for the Orange & Rosemary cake and it was just so full of flavour. I got an English Breakfast Tea to go with it and sat there on a wooden block and typed on Netty (my netbook) with a cosy heater at my back.
The girl at the cake counter is just so lovely, very helpful and she gave me a huge slice of cake just cos she felt like it. Gem.
So yes, I very much plan on skipping in there some days after work, needless to say.

Then on the way to buy the makings of carbonara for dinner, I popped into the charity shop at the end of our road and found this cool old 'Singer Sewing Book' from 1954 for £3. Pretty interesting and the previous owner left notes in it! Then also picked up Ian McEwan's 'Saturday' and Alice Sebold's 'Lucky', both £1 each.

Hopefully this carbonara tonight will turn out decent and I can post that too!:)
Big love,
L x

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Crocheted Apple Cosy!

I'm home in Cavan this weekend (well, until Tuesday since it'll be Mom's birthday) as a trip before we abscond to London. I landed into the kitchen and saw this cute crocheted owl type looking thing on the counter and asked Siobhan what it is.
"It's my apple cosy. I asked Mom to make me one for school."
So I popped an apple into it and took a snap.
Name is Joe.

I has an apple inside of me.
It is the CUTEST thing! I kind of want one for London!
...I think Mom should start a blog of her own at this stage!:)

L x

Monday, September 12, 2011

Brooklyn Blackout Cake for Conor!

That cream was not for the cake. Rather, Conor's face...

Now that Conor's birthday has been and gone, I can post this!
Especially since it was a surprise and he actually, properly, had no idea at all. He even suggested to a friend (who was also in on it) to go for a drink in the pub we were setting up with balloons and cake. So he was even more surprised!
So yes, THE CAKE.

What a beast of a thing.

I made Conor the Hummingbird Bakery's Brooklyn Blackout cake. It is possibly the richest cake I have ever made and it's mostly due to the 'custard' like chocolate sauce. The cake made from this is the best chocolate one I have made yet, it was perfect.

Here is a quick breakdown of the recipe:

Ingredients for the cake:
100g butter
260g caster sugar
170g plain flour
160ml whole milk
2 eggs
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
45g cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

Ingredients for the chocolate custard: 
500g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
125g cocoa powder
200g cornflour
85g butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

*Preheat the oven to 170C/ 325F/ Gas 3
*Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
*Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Scrape the sides of the bowl with your spatula so no mixture is lost.
*Slowly beat in the cocoa powder , vanilla, baking powder and salt until well mixed.
*Add half the flour, then all the milk and then the rest of the flour. Mix well until it is all combined.
*Pour into two round 20cm tins greased and lined with greaseproof paper.
*Pop in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Leave the cakes to cool completely before turning them out onto a wire rack (WAIT til they're cool or they'll break!)

*While they're cooling, get making the sauce...
*Put the sugar, syrup, cocoa powder and 600ml of water into a large pot (this makes a huge amount of sauce, so make sure it's big!) and bring to the boil over a medium heat, whisking occasionally.
*Mix the cornflour with 120-200ml of water and gradually add to the mix, whisking briskly! (Do this correctly cos I didn't and I ended up needing to blend the sauce to get rid of lumps! No one wants a mouth of cornflour!)
*The consistency should be that of thick glue. I mean, it gets quite thick, but don't worry about it ripping the cake. When the cakes are cool, pop them onto plates and into the fridge. This helps stop it.
*Cook the custard until it is thick and yummy looking. Stick your spoon in for a taste.
*Remove from the heat, add the butter and vanilla and stir in. Put into a (rather large) bowl, cover with cling film and chill until quite firm.

*Grab your cakes and using a long knife (it makes it much easier), slice a very thin layer off one.
*Using a food processor, or just a knife like me, chop into fine crumbs.
*Spread some custard onto that cake, then slice the other into two, making it three tiered. Layer up the cake with the custard, leaving enough to frost the top and sides of the cake.
*Cover with the crumbs and chill for 2 hours.

Since Conor is becoming quite the wizard lately, I popped some cards into the cake along with heaps of candles for a little magic effect.

Get your strong arm out to carry this one! It took a lot of effort carrying it to the dart! The cookbook says it makes 10-12 slices... I am very generous with my cake slices and I LOVE cake, but I honestly could not finish a small slice. However, there is enough sugar in this to make it last a while, especially if kept in the fridge.
I must ask Conor how much of it is left...

Enjoy over a long chat.
Or a surprise birthday party.


Hope it's a great year, bro!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fair London

I am currently perched on a clean corner of my bed, in the midst of the fifty-seventh clean out of my room in about two months. The Velvet Underground have provided the soundtrack.

Since London is RAPIDLY approaching, I am getting rid of EVERYTHING that I physically cannot take with me. I have two bags of clothes to hopefully get some money for with Siopaella in Temple Bar, a bag for a charity shop and a bag of work clothes that Luke's sister will be availing of. Scarves, jumpers, bags, shoes, dresses and accessories are all bundled up, ready to be given to new homes and I am left with those which I believe will give me street cred in one of the most stylish cities in the world.

If you haven't been to London, you are missing out. Everyone is SO interesting looking. Whether they are the happy, smiley cash clerks in Whole Foods Market (where Luke and I got delicious watermelon) or the person sitting beside you on the Tube, everyone is so different that I cannot but help slightly staring at them. One thing that I have been told by countless people who have learnt that I am moving to London is that it is a "very unfriendly place". I mean I can count nearly ten people who have told me this. But I have now set myself the task of making note of every lovely thing I have born witness to in London.

 During our 4 day trip there last week, Luke and I met nothing but genuinely friendly people like the lovely ladies who asked us did we need directions after serving us in Harrods. I've never had that before; someone getting that, by the look of me, I was a tourist and only for Luke, I probably would have asked her for some directions! Then in the Metro on the Tube I found an article where people are compiling the compassionate things that they have witnessed on the Tube and making them into an art project "celebrating the 'value' of kindness". Some include strangers comforting a heartbroken woman and telling her that "every storm passes". Another is of a man's mobile phone being saved by a stranger who noticed he had left it behind him and so met him at the next station stop. You can see the collection here .

Another story from our trip was a man carrying a woman's suitcase up a flight of stairs in Gatwick airport when he noticed her struggling. At the top, he then ran off to get a train and she shouted after him "I owe you a pint!". So, unfriendly it most certainly is not. I cannot wait to discover this city and make my little mark on it along with the millions of others who live there. Having once been an empire, it is so beautiful in parts, the buildings dating back centuries. One of the most amazing monuments I have ever seen is the Albert Memorial directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall. It is awe inspiring.                       Albert

I simply LOVE Portobello Road for all of the stalls and quirky shops that line it and those that run them. I feel like I Angela Lansbury is beside me, hunting down the missing back of a magic book. I also get to pop into the Hummingbird Bakery for a brownie and tea.

I took some better pictures this time and on our way home, marvelled at the cameras in duty free. I plan on treating myself to a deadly camera once I get enough saved. And finally find a place to live. If anyone knows anyone else seeking housemates, I will forward you the ad Luke and I have on three sites. Le sigh.
 Stressful, but I'm certain it will be worth it for the land of Love Actually, Harry Potter and soon, Luke and Laura.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A few firsts

Hello kids, how are ya. More statement than question for some reason. Maybe because I'm on that delicate border of being sleepy and heading swiftly towards over-tiredness.
But anyway. The past two weeks or so have been quite wonderful for a few reasons.

I entered a photo or two into the Virginia Show and got a first place in the Candid Photo category, huzzah! Last year I got a 5th place, so I've jumped four respective ribbon colors. Fab. The photo was of my dears Denise, Laura and David in New York when we were down near the World Trade Centre. To be honest, I love this photo of them and am delirah that someone else thought it was deadly too.

And then to add to my excitement, I won the monthly Bake-Off at Milk & Cookies last Tuesday night with the most haphazard vanilla cupcakes I have ever made. I didn't even take a photo of them they were so dreadful looking, but obviously they tasted pretty good cos they beat off stiff competition (I imagine) from a lemon poppyseed cake, chocolate things etc. And now I have a certificate to add to my photography ribbon. Plus a box of chocolates.


I love that I've been seeing a lot of friends quite a bit these days before I'm amongst those who have fled this country. Another night of it tomorrow at Griffin and Ceri's which will be great! Oh the mixed feelings about leaving.
Then, finally, came my first anniversary with Luke which is amazing. Being taken out to dinner and getting a bouquet of white roses will always be wonderful.

Big love to you all:) x

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A few recent happenings and findings

I've been perched on my bed for absolute hours and am cursing the fact that I don't have all these deadly Sky channels that I can see have tons of cool movies and stuff on and not Tori Spelling discussing her baby weight.
I've been getting a few deadly things lately in these fab sales that are on, or in my frequent charity shop trips. I'm off tomorrow, so very well could be down in Bray going through them whilst continuing the cycle and giving them some of my stuff I want to get rid of.
These gorgeous shoes? €30 in a|wear with student discount. That's because IADT never put an expiry date on my card, so I plan to use it whenever possible...

Best bit- they didn't need to be broken in, so they were dolled straight away when Luke took me to Le Bon Crubeen! I'm a bit anxious about them getting dirty, but they're holding well!

Then Griffin and I went to Urban Outfitters and I got a wonderful purse for €11 to go with my new bag from Philadelphia.
Have you seen it yet?

Bam. What a duo.

Recently Luke and I paid yet another trip to Queen of Tarts, they of delectable cakes and crockery. I opted for the baked raspberry cheesecake and Luke, a nibble.
As always, it was a lovely trip had.

I found a deadly wine holder in the Virginia charity shop that I gave Ceri and Griffin as a little house warming gift with a bottle of red and a rose. Sadly, I forgot to take a pic of it, but I'll get one off Griff and add it in here.
Cos it's seriously cool.

What I'm mostly excited about these days is planning things to write for, picking photos to enter into the Virginia Show again and looking up things for my adventure in Spetember with Luke. Gumtree is visited every evening.
Plenty to keep the mind going.
But now it's time for some tunes to lull me to sleep before a seaside trip tomorrow. Better clear up the camera's memory card!

Sweetest of dreams to you.
L x

Friday, July 15, 2011

One Mean Risotto!

This meal is my soup to Sarah Maria Griffin. It is ridiculously yum and easy and I've made it two days in a row.
Again, I nipped to Tesco around 5 o'clock and got super cheap veg. You can pretty much throw anything into this dish, which is what Luke and I did.
So here it goes, it serves 3 hearty portions.
Prepare to be wowed.

2 chicken breasts
4 rashers
punnet of mushrooms
1 onion
1 carrot
1/2 tin of kidney beans
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small bag of peas
2 cups/ 470ml veg stock
250g arborio risotto rice
handful of baby spinach
sprigs of basil
salt & pepper

*Heat olive oil in a frying pan and grate in the carrot and garlic.
*Chop the onion and add it in. Fry these slowly and chop up the chicken and bacon.
*Add these to the pan and fry until just cooked.
*Add in the peas, beans and mushrooms and fry up gently again. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
*Throw in the rice and stir until it begins to absorb the oil in the pan. Once it starts to take a translucent shade, add the veg stock.
*Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly to stop the rice sticking. Add a dash of hot water if needed.

*When the rice is cooked, take the pan off the heat. Tear up the basil and spinach and stir in.
*Serve up with a sprinkle of Parmesan and tuck in!

Luke and I absolutely loved this, so let me know what you think! The second time I made it, we didn't add any of the meat and it was still as delicious, so it can be a vegetarian dish too.

On a foodie note, my first recipe has been posted on's website , check it out!:)
I'm going to be a food contributor, writing easy and healthy recipes for students! Woo! I'm so excited as it's come about from this blog and Louise Tierney knowing how much I'd love to do it.
So there is a batch of baked goodies on the way to her xx

L x

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Improvised Lasagne!

Mmm. You really can't go wrong with a yummy lasagne.
So, here's the meaty version! I like adding loads of veg to dishes, it helps bulk it up and it doesn't make the dish as heavy to eat if it calls for a lot of meat. I don't know about you, but I find a lot of beef hard to eat, anyway.
So, I made this with things that were already in the house. I had some ingredients left over from the vegetarian lasagne like the pasta sheets and asparagus, so that was handy!

300g fresh lasagne sheets
1 carrot
5 garlic cloves
1 onion
200g asparagus
1/2 tin of kidney beans
1/2 bag of peas
2 red chillies
tomato puree
tin of tomatoes
block of white cheddar cheese
parmesan cheese
fresh basil
small pack of mince beef

*Heat the oven to 200C.
*Slice up the asparagus, onions and chillies and add to the hot oiled pan. Grate in the carrot.
*Fry up for 2-3 minutes.

*Add in the mince and brown.
*Add in the kidney beans and peas and simmer for a couple of minutes.
*Toss in the tin of tomatoes and about 2 tablespoons of the puree.

*Tear in the basil leaves and take off the heat.
*Cover the bottom of the lasagne dish with the pasta sheets and scoop in some of the mix. Sprinkle on some parmesan and grate a good helping of the cheddar on top, then cover with lasagne sheets.
*Keep repeating this until you run out, leaving the top layer as the meat mix with cheddar cheese covering it.

*Hop in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and looks delicious.

You can have this with whatever you fancy. A lot of people like coleslaw with lasagne, so maybe have some of that, or some oven chips, or a nice salad!
Again, this did 4 portions. And tasted nicer for lunch the next day with Luke with salad his Dad is growing.

Enjoy, lovelies!:)
L xx

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Le Bon Crubeen visit

Last week Luke brought me out for dinner, and on recommendation of one Louise Tierney, we went to Le Bon Crubeen on Talbot Street.
To say we enjoyed ourselves is a gross understatement. When we arrived in, dripping wet with our jackets and umbrella, we were greeted by a very lovely waiter who offered to take our things to the cloakroom. This has never happened to me before (maybe this is indicative of how often we go out) so I happily handed over our stuff and we were shown our seat.
Maybe it's because I'm waitressing at the moment, but I can be super judgemental of how I'm served when I go to other places.
But these people were golden.
Absolutely. We had main courses with a glass of wine each, then tea & coffee at the end, with me deciding I had to go with dessert too...
Luke had the Confit Duck Leg with Lyonnaise Potatoes, Pesto Green Beans and Syrah Jus and I had the 8oz Irish Sirloin Steak (medium rare) with Green Peppercorn Jus, Fries and Rocket Salad. (I don't have amazing memory, I copy and pasted from their menu )
We were both silent for a couple of minutes while we tucked in and relished the parties in our mouths. Luke's duck fell off the bone it was that tender. My steak was beautifully juicy and the salad and chips topped it off wonderfully; nothing too fancy, but presentation was good.

Our waiters were delightful to say the absolute least. I adored them for leaving us until I finished my meal. Due to a lot of talking and just being a slow eater, it took me way longer than Luke, and they didn't touch our table until I was completely finished. They asked did we want to see the dessert menu... I said yes.
The bread and butter pudding was amaaaaazing. Holy smokes. Now, the waiter we had for dessert was fabulous. Even though Luke didn't want dessert, he brought us two spoons, incase Luke changed his mind. He did.

Overall, we had a great time there and were floored by the food and service. The cost is phenomenal considering the meals. We each had a main course, glass of wine, a pint, then tea, coffee & one dessert which all came to under €60.

You really can't go wrong there. Top marks.
Le Bon Crubeen's website

My Mom is amazing.

Yes, she is.
Cos I went home to Cavan last week with Luke and she gave me THESE...

She crocheted me a bag and a cover for my netbook!!
Aren't they fab?!
The netbook cover fits perfectly and my bag is having its first day out when we go visit Griffin & Ceri tomorrow.

My Mom's great.

L x