Tag Archives: vegetarian

Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

As much as I revere convenience in all its forms, I don’t understand shop bought tomato pasta sauces. I will admit to having lived off these for years, but when I started creating my own, the jars became such an unbearable let down. Expensive, dull and packed full of salt.

The sheer simplicity of tomato sauce creation is not beyond anyone – it is practically impossible to get wrong.

(Apart from that time I fancied myself quite the Michelin chef and, in a seasoning fervour, over-oreganoed to the point of inedible – the beans on toast that night were particularly sour in my mouth.)

I serve this with garlic bread, homemade, with real butter – the pasty, soggy rolls from the supermarket don’t even come close.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 tin chopped tomatoes with basil
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 or 2 red chilli
2 dessert spoons tomato purée
2 or 3 dessert spoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons pepper
Salt to taste

Garlic bread
3 cloves garlic
100g butter
Bread rolls

Fresh pasta (much better than dried)
Cheese

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the red onion finely and fry gently in real butter until soft. (Or, if making vegan, use olive oil)

2) Add all the other ingredients. See, I told you this was simple.

3) Bring to boil, and turn down heat to low. Let this cook away until the sauce has reduced by a third.

4) While it’s simmering, mash about 100g butter with the 3 other cloves of garlic, chopped really finely, and spread this generously onto the bread rolls. (Again, if cooking vegan, use olive oil)

5) Wrap in little packets of tin foil, and put into the oven at 200 degrees. They’ll take about 20 minutes. Open the packet and let the edges crisp up for a few minutes.

6) This is when my favourite part happens – taste your sauce. Think about the flavours, now that they’ve intensified, and how you can improve them. Generally, I add a little more balsamic and pepper. There’s no point in following a recipe word for word when everyone’s palate is different. I love black pepper – it makes up about a quarter of every dish I make – and I drink balsamic vinegar from the bottle at any given opportunity. You may love chilli or salt – I don’t know, I am not you – but be flexible and adapt the recipe to your needs.

7) Dump the cooked pasta into the pan, mix, and serve with cheese.

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A Tale Of Two Burgers

A good burger is something beautiful to behold. A symphony of texture and flavour, a million combinations of buns, meats and toppings to choose from.

My favourite places allow me to pick and mix these to suit my moods. The Counter is particularly good at this – I love the ticky-box ordering system – It satisfies some primal accounting need. The fact that it’s allergen and vegan friendly is an added bonus – Their website has a complete breakdown of everything on the menu.

On this occasion, I selected burger in a bowl – It comes with a huge serving of lettuce instead of a bun, and I always feel much better about myself. Chicken, pickle, corn salsa, grilled onions, grilled peppers, aged cheddar, and bacon – a carefully chosen composite of some of the best parts of the Counter. This is one of the only places I will trust for chicken, so in fear I am of receiving that grey, chewy sponge some restaurants try and pass off as poultry. My accomplice opted for beef, red cheddar and onion strings. The handful of chips that come in a single serving is depressing, so always go for the large version between two.

As is typical when you’re ravenous, our burgers took an an awfully long time, with everyone around us getting their food before our plates arrived. Eager, mild starvation setting in, I dug into my bowl as soon as it was placed in front of me. As per usual, the grilled chicken was beautifully cooked, succulent and packed full of flavour, all the vegetables vividly fresh, the onions and peppers melt in the mouth good and the crispy bacon just to die for. Just looking at the picture below makes my mouth water. And, oh, the cheese… The cheese was… absent.

I looked up, dismayed, and met the shocked face of my companion; her beef burger was made of chicken. This was disastrous.

Though, not really, as we had new, correct dishes in front of us in minutes, and an upfront offer of a discount – Achievement unlocked, impress the food blogger.

Wanting to extend the evening and the amusing banter, I suggested dessert and ordered an adult smoothie – less ‘xxx’ and more ‘mmm’ – strawberry and banana spiked with alcohol, topped with that hideous can cream. Nice, but not worth the €8 price tag. Twisting her rubber arm, she ordered the oversized chocolate chip cookie with ice cream. The cookie was huge, gooey, sweet and sticky, rich vanilla ice cream melting into the warm dough. Decadent, delicious, and a dessert big enough for two.

Not that she had much of a choice in that matter.

2 burgers, 1 fries, 1 coke, 1 adult smoothie €37 (cookie unknown, as taken off the bill)
The Counter, Suffolk St, D2

This brings me on to the next burger bar in the ongoing battle for my affections. Bobo’s, another joint priding itself on locally sourced ingredients, has always caught my eye. A young gentleman, soon flying to far lands, offered to take me and I jumped at the chance. The first thing I noticed were the creepy, realistic cows painted on the wall. I sat directly underneath one, so its big soft eyes couldn’t watch as I devoured its friend.

The place had a canteen feel, not helped by the white tin plates I could see being dropped to other tables, but the menu was intriguing. Lamb, beef, chicken, fish, pork and two different kinds of vegetarian burgers – I almost chose beef until..

I couldn’t – I went for the Miss Piggy instead; pork and chorizo with goat cheese, rocket and garlic mayonnaise, accompanied by a half and half of onion rings and chips. My travelling friend chose The Grafton, minus the cheese and bun, with a side salad.

Quickly, our food arrived. My burger towered in front of me, menacing but inviting. I glanced over. The bun had been replaced by two lettuce leaves holding the burger, giving an oddly sad look to the plate – Worst presentation of a dinner, ever.

I was more interested in the imposing structure in front of me, and tentatively begin to devour.

The food was, in many parts, excellent. Pork mince has a tendency to dry out, but I didn’t find this at all with my burger, juicy with chunks of quality goat cheese disintegrating in the heat, their flavour being brought out by the contrast of peppery rocket – a classic combination for a reason. The chorizo was bland, a rather pointless addition as it faded into the background – a spicier version should be used. Home made onion rings always tempt me, and I need to stop giving into it – I am always let down by how greasy and tasteless they are, and Bobo’s were no exception. The chips, however, were crunchy and good, and my counterpart’s salad was great, with a lip smacking vinegar kick.

2 burgers, 2 sides, 1 coke €33
Bobo’s, Dame St, D2

In this round, yet again, The Counter has come out on top – will there ever be a true contender?

Well, I don’t know – it was a hypothetical question.

As I write this, I am procrastinating from packing for another trip – this time to London and Paris. I leave in 12 hours, and my suitcase is miserably agape on my bed. As I shall be marching up the Eiffel Tower, drinking coffee and eating cheese all weekend, there will be no post.
Again, fear not, for a Consumation does Paris will follow!

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Cheese and pepper scones

I have already mentioned in my mother’s brown bread recipe post that I cannot resist freshly baked brown bread. This weakness extends to almost all baked goods. It’s dangerous for my waistline for me to have access to an oven, flour and butter but it’s a risk I must take on a daily basis.

One of my favourite things to make, because they’re quick and simple and can be changed to any taste are scones. Also, because when I get a craving at ten at night for hot baked goods, these can be on a plate in front of me, smothered in butter, by ten thirty.

Ingredients (makes 4/6 depending on size preference)

225g self raising flour
40g butter
25g mature cheddar
150ml milk
3 teaspooons cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons black pepper
Pinch of salt

Steps to deliciousness

1) Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
2) Sieve the flour into a bowl, and add the pepper and salt.

3) Chop the butter into cubes, and add.

4) Rub the butter into the flour – As before, do not overwork it, and if it goes grey/greasy, you need to start again.

5) Grate and add the cheese.

6) Add most of the milk (You probably won’t need the whole 150ml) and quickly mix with your fingers until it turns into a kneadable dough. Add a little more flour/milk as needed.

7) Divide into vaguely scone shaped circles and pop onto an oiled baking tray. (As one does not have a rolling pin, one has had to make do with this technique)

8) Bake for 10/12 minutes, until the scones are browned, and sound hollow when you tap the bottom. As usual, serve with vast quantities of butter.

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Koh, the way to my heart

Writing about perfection is difficult. Impossible almost, but that’s my burden to bear.

I’d like to let you in on a secret, share with you one of the best places to eat in Dublin, my steady favourite, my go-to joint; Koh.

What is it about this restaurant that places it so highly in my heart and makes me recommend it to every single person, whether they want to hear about it or not?

Is it the cocktails? The perfect end to a meal Toblerone, the award winning Citrus Flower or the delicious Chilli Mango Caipiroska?
Or the decor? A dark, well designed lounge, backed by rows of illuminated bottles gleaming like jewels behind the cocktail masters at the bar, which leads into a comfortable restaurant where individual booths with curtains can be booked, making everyone feel like Very Important Persons.
Perhaps it’s the food? The extensive list of starters and mains, touching all bases including Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese, as well a melt in the mouth steak?

No – What makes Koh outstanding is all of these things, and more; The absolutely unparalleled service by friendly, highly trained staff, the welcoming atmosphere, the low level hum of happiness that can only be created by fantastic food and drink, small touches like incense in the bathroom, and freezing cold jugs of water packed with ice on the table.
I cannot find fault, and I will not find fault.

Two omnivores, a vegetarian, a dairy intolerant coeliac and a vegan walk into Koh.

You think one of them would’ve seen it.


(Attributed to Karamell)

I didn’t need to open the menu, the chicken cashew nut being far and away the superior dish, but the motley crew hummed and hawed for what seemed like hours before coming to a consensus.

One chicken cashew nut, one sweet and sour duck, and three Phad Thais.

But these were not just any Phad Thais – These were special Phad Thais. One tofu, no egg, no fish sauce, one tofu with egg, no fish sauce, and one prawn with egg, coeliac, no soy, no dairy.
However, as soy sauce is an integral part of Phad Thai, the waiter assured us the chef could tailor a dish specifically to suit.

And tailor he did. It was absolute lovely, and lived up to every standard I set for Koh. As did the the vegan and vegetarian versions. The chicken and cashew nut was, as always, stunning; the quality of ingredients shines through, and I find it difficult not to lick my plate to clear every last drop of the salty garlic, ginger, soy based sauce that soaks into the sticky rice, making it completely irresistible.

The mango mojitos were on special offer, and were so good, I had to snatch a sip while an owner was away from the table, as I was reticent to ask any of the three to share, their exclamations of enjoyment were so exuberant.

I must also mention cheesecake at this juncture, the white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, that no matter how full I am, I will order.
I will order, and devour, and spend an hour holding my splitting stomach in pain if I have to.
It is unbelievably creamy, and the exact mix of tart cream cheese, swirls of raspberry and sweet white chocolate to make this blogger dizzy with delight.

Too long, didn’t read?

Go. To. Koh.

1 starter, 5 mains, 1 dessert – €95
Drinks – Oh, hundreds. (Or, more likely, I don’t have the receipt, and don’t remember how much the cocktails were)
Koh Millennium Walkway, Dublin

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My Hot Mess

Dubbed so because it’s an absolute mess of some of my favourite ingredients, and made in honour of the sunny June bank holiday when beers in the garden take precedence over hours in the kitchen. The creaminess of the goat cheese offset by the tang of sundried tomatoes and rocket. Garlic combining with the oil to seep into the bread, leaving it crispy on the outside and gooey centred, and the sweet cherry tomatoes exploding on the plate as you press them against forkfuls of the bread.

However, this dish simply could not be possible without the thick, acid-sweet syrup that is balsamico crème. If you do not have this in your press, rush out immediately to buy it, and try to refrain from squeezing half of it down your neck. This is gorgeous on so many things – topping tomato sauce on pasta, spreading on oven baked peppers, dipping garlic bread into.

Do yourself a favour and introduce your tastebuds to the joy that is this sauce.

Ingredients
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Pepper
Salt
Olive oil

10 sundried tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1.5/2 inches of a roll of goat cheese
Half teaspoon cayenne pepper
Half teaspoon black pepper
Sprinkle of chilli
Balsamico crème
Bagel
Rocket
(Optional) Few roasted hazelnuts

Steps to Deliciousness

1) Put cherry tomatoes into a bowl, and toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

2) Place onto baking tray, and bake at 180 degrees celsius until the tomatoes begin to split open (About 15/20 minutes)

3) Combine the chopped sundried tomatoes, garlic and goat cheese with the pepper, chilli and a dessert spoon of the oil from the sundried tomato jar.

4) Top the bagel with the mix and drizzle with balsamico crème.

5) Bake until the goat cheese begins to melt.

6) Serve with rocket, cherry tomatoes and if you like an extra crunch, some crushed roasted hazelnuts.

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Boojum, I have been changed for the better

I tend not to do quick food. I will go out of my way to have a full, sit down meal, despite the state of my finances. As a child, I thought a lot about how wonderfully grown up it would feel to utter the words, “Just put it on my card,” and the reality has not disappointed.

If fast food is absolutely necessary due to time constraints, I fall back on Subway, or a slice of Di Fontaine’s perfect pizza.

It took a new companion recently returned from Holland to push me, and for this I thank her. Because if she hadn’t, I would not have tried Boojum and my life would be ever so slightly emptier.

Waiting outside this tiny joint, the scent emanating from the doorway was mouthwatering. The music was good, and the patrons, with their sour cream and salsa smeared faces, looked overjoyed.

I opted for three mini soft flour tortillas, with shredded pork, and the world-travelled vegetarian was happy to have a choice of two bean chillis for her burrito. The, obviously new, staff member carefully placed the fillings onto our steamed tortillas.
She reconsidered. Added a little more pork, and looked again.
I could see her debating, worried, in her head, and almost wanted to reach over and give her a hug.
Finally she made her decision, and slid the food along the counter to the topping section.

Everything looked so fresh and tasty, I had difficulty choosing, but eventually went with the corn salsa, grilled peppers and onions, sour cream and cheese. The bean burrito came with guacamole, and cilantro-lime rice as standard, which was topped up with peppers and onions, hot salsa, sour cream and cheese.

A small sign on the beer fridge caught my partner’s eye. It read, “Sol, Desperado and Corona – €2.95. All other beers, €3.95!”
I could not list all the beers in the fridge, even if I tried, but it included Goose Island, Anchor Steam, Sierra Nevada, Blue Moon, and Samuel Adams, at a price barely above an off license.

The brisk level of customer turnover meant the very small amount of tables didn’t hinder anyone getting a seat.

Armed with piles of tissues, we tucked in.

It was absolutely delicious – I can still taste the spices in my mouth as I type this. The shredded pork was succulent and tender, the peppers and onions still had bite, and the salsa was fantastic. Do try the hot sauces on the table, which taste of chilli, rather than burning. As someone who doesn’t cope well with very hot food, these sauces were a surprising delight.

The high point of the dish was the cheese. It was indescribably tasty. To the point that, when my companion had to give up on her head-sized burrito (for lack of space, rather than lack of want), she dug out the cheese with a fork, as it was physically impossible to waste it.

Speaking of the burrito, which I was assured could keep the human race in food for the duration of a nuclear winter; it was the perfect vegetarian meal. Not soggy, or bland, but as full of flavour as my meat filled version. The pinto bean chilli was highly recommended, as was the homemade guacamole, and hot salsa, from what I could gather from the various ecstatic noises and compliments of my dinner partner.

You are asked to split your recyclables at the bins, so we left happy, with a sense of good-doing, and filled right to the very brim, with barely a carbohydrate in sight.

Too long, didn’t read?

Fresh, tasty, cheap, mountains of food with reasonably priced beer. Fantastic staff, and a great atmosphere. Everything is homemade at the HQ in the outskirts of Dublin, including grating the cheese, with daily deliveries to the restaurant – trust me, it shows in the quality and flavour of the dishes.

Boojum has changed my outlook on fast food completely. And I will not be the only one, mainly because I will be dragging all and sundry here at the first opportunity I get.

2 mains, 2 beers – €20
Boojum Millennium Walkway, Dublin
Di Fontaine’s 21 Parliament Street, Dublin
Subway Oh, bloody everywhere

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Not-Vegetarian Vegetarian Chilli

Today I would like to talk to you about my chilli.

It does hurt me a little to send this recipe out by itself into the big scary unknown, but I need to stop being so selfish. You deserve to eat good food, and I am here to assist you in that.

I don’t like mince – I can’t remember the last time I willingly ate it outside burger form – so this is a (mostly) vegetarian chilli.

I find it particularly good piled high with cheese, sour cream and served with taco shells, or with cous cous.

Somehow, I inevitably manage to make even the healthiest of recipes into a cheese and carb fest through my serving suggestions – ignore me at your peril however; certain foods are simpy worth the calories!

For example, Aldi’s specially selected vintage cheddar is just beautiful – tangy, crumbly, creamy and tart, all for a ridiculously low price (€2.79 the last time I checked). It never lasts long in my fridge, and it is absolutely worth the lifetime of long, fat burning walks and short, heart clearing jogs that await me.

And, on to the chilli! Due to the size of the tins, it’s difficult to halve this recipe. But it freezes fantastically well, and microwaves in a few minutes.

Ingredients (for 6)

2 peppers
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
2.5 teaspoons of squeezy chilli. This is equal to about 2 chillis – stick in more if you like it hot, as this is a mild.
3 dessert spoons of vegetable oil

1 tin kidney beans
2 small tins of corn (400g in total)
1 tin black eyed beans
1 tin butter beans
2 tins of chopped tomato
1 small tin tomato puree

2 beef stock cubes dissolved in a half tin of hot water – Use vegetable stock cubes for vegan chilli.
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
3 teaspoons of cocoa
2 teaspoons of black pepper
3 second “glug” of soy sauce

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the onions, peppers, and garlic,

2) Saute the onions in vegetable oil until softened. Then add the peppers, onion, garlic, and chilli.

3) Let this simmer away for a few minutes until the peppers start to look really bright in colour.
4) At this point add.. well, everything else!

If you’ve bought the tinned beans with the pull lids, washing them is so simple – Half open the tin and let it drain. Fill it with water and let it drain. Repeat, then dump in pan!



5) Leave simmering (bubbles lazily and slowly coming to the surface) for as long as you want. I generally cook for about 45 minutes before eating. It will reduce a little, and darken slightly in colour in this time.

6) I recommend eating half of it from the pot, as I normally do.

I do not have a nice picture of how I usually serve this, as “I don’t care, all over my face, as long as some of it gets in my mouth” is apparently not an acceptably classy serving method.

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