Friday, 12 September 2014

#BPBR no. 2 - The Hairy Dieters' Eat For Life

'The Hairy Dieters' Eat For Life', by Si King and Dave Myers, published in 2013

This was a work book club thingy find and it was a steal, I think I bought it for about €8. I am sucker for cookbooks in a general sense, but when a deal like this appears, there's no stopping me! I have seen a few episodes here and there of the Hairy Bikers, as they are more commonly known, and I felt this book would definitely be worth a try as I couldn't imagine these two guys ever wanting to scrimp on the flavour side of things. Their approach to healthier eating is pretty simple really - healthier choices and lower calories in what they cook and eat but happily their mantra will appeal to all foodies: "first and foremost our diet recipes are great food". So here's to great food!


The Hairy Dieters' Cookbook above, and below; some photos from the book - healthy chicken fajitas and biryani.

1. The photos in this book are pretty ravishing and look quite far removed from the kind of food you'd think of as being low fat and tasteless. For example, the enticingly titled More Fab Fakeaways section displays some seriously good photos of healthier takeaway options, such as Doner Kebabs, Chicken Chow Mein, and Chicken Tikka Masala. The sides section at the back disappointingly has no photos. Other than that it works quite simply throughout the book, that each double page has the recipe and then its matching photo.
SCORE = 4

2. The writing is quite to the point generally in this book. A little bit of chat is indulged in about the recipe at the top of each page but they pretty much go right in with the ingredients and method, all very clearly laid out. Their first chapter is the part that may interest you if you want to find a bit more about their reasons behind this book, which is their second Hairy Dieters' book. They are honest and open about their struggles with weight and healthy living so you thankfully don't get that preachy tone. Their approach is a really common sense one, with a simple list of tips on page 11, for example.
SCORE = 4

3. What I really liked about this book are firstly that the recipes I've tried work and taste truly delicious and in no way do you feel you're eating a boring, restrictive kind of diet. The ingredients are also easy to source, which is always a plus. There is a great range of chapters suiting various mealtimes and also for times when you're looking for more of a treat - such as the great Fab Fakeaways chapter and also Food from Afar.

4. What I didn't like as much about this cookbook was the fact that the breakfasts chapter was a bit sparse and dull (diet alarm!!). The Something Sweet chapter didn't really draw me in either, but then again I am the kind of person who'd far rather cut back elsewhere and go all out on the full-on sweetness when I'm looking for a dessert. Then again I can see the merit to having healthier sweet options available too.
SCORE for 3 & 4 = 8.

5. To sum up, if you're looking for a healthy eating/diet style cookbook, you will not go wrong by adding this to your collection. And, as I've happily discovered on two occasions, their main course dishes go down very well at dinner parties!
Overall score  = 16/20 or 80%
The Hairy Dieters' Low-Cal Chicken Tikka Masala. Yummy!

I previously blogged their Beef Stroganoff recipe if you'd like to give it a go and also their Chicken Tikka Masala, which is a favourite of mine too.

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Friday, 5 September 2014

#BPBR no. 1 - Nigella Express

'Nigella Express', by Nigella Lawson, published in 2007.

This cookbook came into my possession at Christmas time in 2007 as a gift from my youngest sister Muireann. She knows me well. The book is well worn at this stage, which to me, is one of the best signs of a cookbook. This isn't my only cookbook by Nigella but it is the one I return to most often and is among my favourite cookbooks of my entire (sizable) collection. I hope you enjoy reading this review of 'Nigella Express', my first #BPBR!

The cookbook - 'Nigella Express' - did you guess this would be first up?!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

#BPBR - An Introduction

So I have come up with a new idea for the blog, which I am on planning on writing about over the coming months, until Christmas all going well. So what is #BPBR? Well, it means Bullet Point Book Review. Not long ago I was doing a bit of rejigging on the blog, looking over my about section and so on and I noticed I haven't done anything in the line of a cookbook review yet. I have a mighty stack of the things and just added four new books this past summer. So it's time to remedy that. My first #BPBR will be up on the blog tomorrow.

See can you guess which one of these books will be the subject of tomorrow's first #BPBR?!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Bell & Pot Café Kitchen, Dublin

This cute and quirky breakfast, brunch and lunch café is a real find! Nestled in a pretty hidden spot right behind the Stephen's Green Shopping Centre, beside the Travelodge hotel, I never even knew of its existence until Rory from the Eat Drink Run Fun blog and Niamh of Gourmet Grazing recommended it as a weekday breakfast spot in the heart of the city centre.

The Bell & Pot is open every day from 7 am to 9 pm and its breakfasts are top notch. I was catching up with my sister, after she arrived into Dublin airport on the red eye flight and before we were due to hop on the one of the yellow ducks and do the touristy thing around Dublin. The café had a lovely chilled vibe and there was a nice amount of people tucking into some tasty food, which gave the place a relaxed and welcoming buzz.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Hummingbird Hazelnut & Chocolate Cupcakes

These are the perfect kind of sweet treat when a sister, such as my own, is coming home for a little holiday. Or, if you're feeling down in the dumps and in need of a decent chocolate hit, they would be an advisable remedy. As this is back to school week for me and many, many teachers (and we cannot forget the students!) across Ireland and beyond, one of these would go a long way in easing that bit of back to routine blues ;-)

After my very memorable visit last year to the Hummingbird Bakery in London, I was quite sure that these cupcakes would rival any others I'd tried and I was not disappointed. My only adaptation to the original recipe is a change in quantities for the icing, as I had quite a lot left over on my first bake. These cupcakes are quick to bake and surprisingly simple to decorate.

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cupcakes


Friday, 22 August 2014

The First Big Grill Festival, August 2014

I had been looking forward to this food festival for some time. It's been a long time since I was at a food festival, Bloom in Phoenix Park last year springs to mind...in any case, I was all set for a day of good food and entertainment. The entry fee into the Big Grill Festival in the lovely setting of Herbert Park in Ballsbridge was €15. There were early bird prices and I did get my ticket for a little less than this price. However, I was disappointed that literally everything had a cost involved once inside the venue. The cost was in the form of "smokin' tokens" and one token equated to one Euro.

Scenes from around the park at the Big Grill Festival

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Duomo - Two Michelin Star Dining in Sicily

I have eaten in a couple of restaurants I would class as very high standard; Neven Maguire's MacNean Restaurant in Cavan stands out, as does the beautiful gourmet getaway, The Old Convent in Tipperary. L'Écrivain, with its one Michelin star in Dublin didn't fully wow me as I thought it would. So, I was certainly excited but also had some mixed feelings about what to expect in Duomo, a two Michelin star restaurant in the spectacular UNESCO baroque town of Ragusa Ibla in Sicily.

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Chiappas' Cinnamon Sponge Cake with Apples

'Simply Italian' by the Chiappa Sisters is a very recent addition to my cookbook collection and I am delighted with it. I love the combination of cinnamon and apple and when I read through this recipe I straight away knew it was a sweet treat I really wanted to try out. I had one of my sisters calling over for dinner and baking fever is high these days anyway with The Great British Bake Off on our screens every Wednesday evening. Plus, I recently discovered that apparently it's afternoon tea week until 17th August and just how authentic an afternoon tea treat is a slice of sponge cake with a cup of hot tea?!

So there, I had three excuses to bake. I have slightly adapted the recipe from the original. You will get about eight generous portions from the cake. Here goes...

Monday, 11 August 2014

Gluten-Free Cookery Classes with the Coeliac Society of Ireland

A few weeks ago, I was kindly invited by the Coeliac Society of Ireland, as a guest to one of their cookery classes in the Miele Gallery, in Citywest, Dublin. I am not a coeliac myself, but I do feature quite a few gluten-free recipes on my blog - you can check out my gluten-free label on my homepage - and I am aware that gluten-free diets, due most often to medical reasons or sometimes personal lifestyle choices, are becoming far more common in Ireland.

Gluten-free menu: Top - Profiterole with goat's cheese, left bottom - Tagliatelle carbonara, right bottom - Pancakes

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Hairy Dieters' Chicken Tikka Masala

I said I would blog the most popular recipe chosen from my first blog birthday post and true to my word, here it is, and I do not think you'll be disappointed. I will give one piece of advice - marinade in advance, as in the night before you plan to serve it. I have to say this really impacts upon the flavour and makes this a truly winning and satisfying version of one the most popular takeaway treats. And, added bonus, it's healthy!

The Hairy Dieters' Chicken Tikka Masala served with White and Wild Rice