Monday, 23 February 2015

Café Hans, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

Café Hans is a little pink treasure of foodie delights. It is nestled on a quaint street in the outskirts of the pretty town of Cashel, just a stones throw from the impressive Rock of Cashel.

We have visited for lunch on three occasions and been very satisfied each time. Our last trip was on Valentine's day.  The café is opened from 12 to 5, takes no bookings and unsurprisingly gets very busy during rush hour lunch time. We arrived about 20 minutes before 1pm and were lucky to get a great spot by the window. Here I had a great view of the "Rock's" round tower.

Café Hans in all its pink perfection!

The menu features a selection of soups, sandwiches, salads etc and there is also a very reasonably priced two or three course lunch option. This time we opted for a sandwich. Mine being the coronation chicken and S went for the lamb burger. But first, we were served some fresh as could be brown seeded bread with a gorgeous nutty flavour. This succeeded in whetting our appetites, it was very moreish!

The menu at Café Hans

When our sandwiches arrived, both came served with a little dish of crispy fries. The chicken sandwich was hearty, tender and the mellow curried flavourings were delicious. The open sandwich was served on a thickly cut slice of bread, smothered with a very tasty raisiny chutney. This complemented the coronation chicken perfectly. The leaves and salad atop the meat were also fresh and tasty. S chose well with the lamb burger on a lovely fresh brioche bun. The lamb had that heavenly Moroccan taste with hints of carefully selected spices and mint. Our sides also went down a treat and left us nicely full for the afternoon.

Coronation Chicken Open Sandwich

Lamb Burger on Brioche

If you're doing the tourist thing in Cashel, which I would recommend, or simply on the motorway between Dublin and Cork and hankering for a good lunch spot, Café Hans is the place to go. It is the sister establishment to the beautiful Chez Hans Restarant, which is a real treat for dinner and which I am excitedly awaiting a return to next month!

Café Hans is truly a little gem, not to be missed.

Lunch at Café Hans in 2014

Café Hans, Rockside, Cashel, Co. Tipperary. Phone: 062 63660.

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Friday, 13 February 2015

Perfect Pancake Day Crepes

So I have been gone AWOL for quite some time now. I'm making no excuses this time, just a case of c'est la vie! However, I couldn't possibly let Pancake Tuesday (17th February 2015 FYI) pass without a post to mark one of my favourite foodstuffs. I am a breakfast fiend and though I have tried and made a few savoury pancakes, the sweet always wins over as a tasty morning breakfast treat for me. I have come to be a fan of thicker and smaller buttermilk pancakes in recent times, which I've blogged about before, but I will always stay true to my deep fondness for the crepe. This recipe is quick and easy. It can be prepared in advance. So, if you're all guns blazing to be an uber prepared breakfast queen/king, you can have this prepared and in the fridge on Monday evening! However, even fifteen minutes or so of resting time in the fridge provides really great crepes. This recipe should make about 6/7 crepes.

Crepes - left: served with maple syrup and berries, right: the traditional lemon juice and sugar

Ingredients:

  • A good tbsp butter
  • 150 g plain flour (sifted)
  • 300 ml milk (heated but not boiled*)
  • 1 large egg

Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C/300 F/gas mark 2, just to be able to keep the crepes nice and warm during cooking. Also get a few slices of parchment paper ready for layering.
  2. Heat and melt the butter in your frying pan.
  3. Blitz the flour and egg together in a food processor.
  4. Add the heated milk, slowly but surely, while the processor is blitzing. (*I simply heat my milk in a bowl in the microwave - just play it by ear, quick zaps and you should be done in a minute or so).
  5. Your mixture will be quite runny and liquid. It's now time to add in and stir through the butter and then let it rest in the fridge.
  6. Heat up your pan with a little more butter added.
  7. Add in a good blob of mixture to the centre, swirl it out to the sides to thin it out nicely to your liking. The first side should take about a minute to cook, and the second less, maybe 30 to 40 seconds.
  8. Once each crepe is done, set it aside on a plate ready to go into the oven, and layer with parchment paper as you go.
  9. Smother your creations with your favourite toppings, pour yourself a cup of your beverage of choice and tuck into your treat breakie!
  10. Bon appétit mes amis....x.

Mental Health Ireland are running a great initiative called #SmileyPancake which I have mentioned on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I will put up some pics of my smiling pancakes with the above hashtag. This is to highlight awareness of mental health issues and to promote positive mental health. You can check out more on their website - do get involved and share your #SmileyPancake photos on social media. Happy, smiley Pancake Day everyone!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Nigella's Cappuccino Layered Pavlova

So it's nearing new year's and the over indulgence in luscious edibles is in full swing. A whole tub of freshly whipped cream, chocolate and Bailey's smothered invitingly over layered meringues sounds perfectly acceptable; even relatively light one might say! My version of cappuccino pavlova inspired by Nigella Lawson went down a treat after Christmas dinner this year. It is simple to prepare and importantly at this time of year, is best prepared in advance, plus the aesthetic value makes this a bit of a stunner. It is definitely one I have now firmly added to my repertoire of desserts for entertaining and I think it would be a lovely option for the sweet element of a new year's eve or day feast.

Ingredients:

  • 375 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Irel/Camp coffee essence or 2 tbsp. strong coffee (cooled)
  • 6 egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. cornflour
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 400 - 500 ml freshly whipped cream
  • 3 tbsp. Bailey's Irish cream
  • 4 bars of Cadbury's Flake
  • Cocoa powder (gluten-free, if applicable)

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/gas 4/350 F and line one large or two small baking trays with parchment paper. Using the rim of a bowl about 10 - 20 cm or 7 - 8 inches in diameter, draw out two matching circles, which will be the outline for each meringue layer.
  2. Beat the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl for a few minutes.
  3. Add the salt and then tip in the sugar bit by bit while continuing to whip until you reach the consistency of stiff peaks that hold their shape and do not fall.
  4. Spoon in the coffee, cornflour and vinegar and fold these through carefully until quite well combined.
  5. Tip out half of the meringue mixture onto each circle on the baking trays and smoothen/level out the mixture.
  6. Pop the meringue discs into the oven and straight away lower the temperature to 150 degrees C/gas 3/300 F.
  7. Bake the meringues for 50 minutes to 1 hour and then leave them in the oven, turned off, to cool for at least a few hours, ideally overnight.
  8. When ready to assemble, lay the first meringue upside down on a serving dish.
  9. Add crumbled Flake and some Bailey's to the whipped cream and generously smother the bottom meringue with half of this.
  10. Place the second meringue right side up on top of the cream layer. Add the remaining cream, as before, and then drizzle liberally with sieved cocoa powder to create that fabulous cappuccino appearance.
  11. Tuck in!
Cappuccino Layered Pavlova

Friday, 12 December 2014

Orange & Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes

Orange and cinnamon is a scent and flavour combination that sings the jolly season and these pancakes will do the very trick into getting you into the Christmassy spirit! Whether you want to enjoy a lazy brunch over the Christmas period or would like a festive breakie to set you up before a day of trawling the shops to find those last-minute presents, these simple and tasty pancakes should hit the spot. I would advise you for this recipe, go and get yourself a set of cup measurements if you don't already have one. They can be purchased very cheaply and they make the quantities so simple for this recipe.
This recipes yields 6 pancakes and, to me, (and I am a pancake-fiend), 2 is more than enough.

Orange & Cinnamon Pancakes

Friday, 5 December 2014

#BPBR no. 4 - The Happy Pear

'The Happy Pear' by David & Stephen Flynn, published in 2014

I had heard quite a lot about these guys over the past year or so. They are very on the ball in the social media realm and I had read some great reviews of the excellent, wholesome and healthy food they serve in their renowned Greystones restaurant. I was sent a complimentary copy of this book from their publishers, Penguin Ireland. From my first leaf through this literally "tablet-sized" cookbook, I was eager to get cooking!

1. The photos in this cookbook are fun, attractive and appealing. Uber healthy food (which the book contains in bucket loads) is displayed as appetising and interesting. There isn't even the faintest whiff of boring "diet" style foods and so I found my list of to-try recipes began growing longer and longer as I leafed through the book. Hardly a complaint! It's no secret either that the Flynn twins are very easy on the eye and there are quite a few photos of the two guys throughout the book too. I always find that a cookbook with some people photos featuring among the vast array of food photos, is a good thing. And it's no different in the Happy Pear, where family, friendships and health are put to the forefront. One more lovely thing - you must check out the fabulous sunset photos on page 161 - a lovely interest that formed from the time of the birth of Dave's daughter...and grew legs from social media. Very pretty indeed!
SCORE = 4
Look at those dips and tasty treats!

2. The writing is interesting and covers a lot more than just your normal spiel and recipes. There is a great section about community, giving you a great insight into the guys' mentality about their community consciousness. The morning porridge story is just lovely. Recipe ingredients and methods are plain and simply written. There is another introductory section describing their arrival at this decision to change their lives and become more health conscious - their 'Two-Man Food Revolution'. Whether you go along with it or not, I feel it makes a lot of sense for them to give a good background on themselves and their motivations. There is a lot of feel good about this book!
SCORE = 4

3. There is a lot to like about 'The Happy Pear' and I am going to stick firmly to the food here. I tried two of their soups and each, in their own way, were tasty, healthy and super satisfying. I'd go with the Carrot, Cashew and Coriander for an occasion or dinner party. Unusually, I felt it was at its very best the day it was cooked. The Sweet Potato and Chestnut Mushroom Soup really improved with time and it was a welcome warmer in my lunchbox for a couple of days. These soups are really high on the filling power and the extra protein in the cashew soup is a really bonus for veggies/vegans. Then there was the Green Bean Curry, a speciality of Dave's mother-in-law, and this was delcious! Full on real curry flavour and the (pre-frozen) green beans really kept their bite and I must mention that you can't deny the budget friendly appeal of this dish. I am dying to serve it as a vegetarian curry alternative and as a tasty side at a dinner party.
Delicious, super filling soup

Green Bean curry in the making!

4. On to the dislikes, well hands up, I do miss meat but that's what you're getting with this cookbook. It does what it says on the tin and it does it very very well indeed. I am also interested in giving many of the desserts a go, but some of the ingredients would definitely require a trip to a specialist shop or health food store and that's not always possible. I would say that this book will at the very least do one thing, and one very important thing for you...make you think! About the importance of fresh, whole, honest to goodness foods. Your health will thank you for it and your taste buds will surely be pleasantly surprised.
SCORE for 3 & 4 = 8

5. 'The Happy Pear' is definitely worth a look. It will appeal to anyone who is health conscious, but moreover, it makes healthy eating habits very appealing, by means of thought-out, tasty and satisfying dishes. Continued success to Dave and Stephen and I look forward to some warming soup in Greystones some day, sooner rather than later!
Overall score = 16/20 or 80%

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Busy days!

It's busy times here at F.F. these days. We are in the process of moving into our new home and becoming first time homeowners! The excitement levels are high but it's also a very busy time. Although there are a few tasty, foodie posts almost ready to go, nothing is just as I'd like it so there will be no posting for a little whileen. This is partly due to trying to set up our internet connection in the new abode, plus all that aforementioned "busy-ness" of course.

Apologies.
I do of course mean my physical house! F.F. is staying right here in the interweb world ;-)
~ Image sourced from internet ~

Thursday, 16 October 2014

#BPBR no. 3 - Apron Strings

'Apron Strings', by Nessa Robins, published in 2013

My first Irish cookbook and one of my favourites. Nessa is a fellow blogger, who is one of the first people really that made me feel like I could actually give this food blogging lark a go! A few years back I first saw Nessa at a food demo at Totally Tipp and she has a lovely way about her and an ease with which she lovingly prepares her food. She is passionate about fresh, seasonal and Irish ingredients and sources much of her own herbs, fruit and vegetables at home in her own garden. This was a cookbook I was dying to snatch up as soon as it hit the shelves and I am a big fan, as I am of her great family food focused blog - Nessa's Family Kitchen.
'Apron Strings' by Nessa Robins

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Sweet and Salty Peanut and Chocolate Cake

What is it with the combination of sweet and salty flavours in the last few months? It's so on trend, in the foodie sense, to combine these opposing taste sensations. Sometimes these trends can be a bit faddy but I am ALL FOR sweet and salty combined and after this inventive cake trial, there ain't nobody gonna tell me you can't put salted peanuts on a cake!

Sweet and Salty Peanut and Chocolate Cake

Friday, 26 September 2014

My Easy Peasy Pavlova Recipe

Last Sunday I baked and served one of my retro favs for a trip to the in-laws - a pavlova laden with lashings of fresh Irish cream and a pretty odd but lovely array of fresh fruit! There was a decent amount of liking and commenting over on Facebook and Instagram so to all my appreciated likers, here is my very simple, straightforward recipe for this delicious sweet treat, which is naturally gluten-free too!
This pavlova will serve about 6 to 8 portions (*ahem* but we shared it among four adults *cough*)

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Baked Camembert with Pasta

Cheese, cheese, cheese. I could talk about cheese until the cows come home...and provide us with more milk, to make more cheese! Yay! I have been a cheese fanatic for as long as I can recall and I haven't found a cheese yet that I dislike. Cheese, being high in fat, I like to see as a treat. I also regard it as an important food to boost my intake of dietary calcium, along with yogurt, as I'm not a big fan of milk. I currently have a lovely vintage Cheddar and Parmesan (for an impending risotto) in my fridge and up until recently, there was a Camembert round too. Half of this Camembert round for 2 people (or the whole thing for 4) will provide you with this luscious and very simple pasta lunch dish. It is also a lovely date type of lunch as it requires sharing, which we are all more than happy to do with our partner, right?! I hope you enjoy.

Baked Camembert and spinach fusilli pasta are served