Friday, December 31, 2010

NYE 2010

Enjoy your New Years Eve wherever you are and whatever you're doing!

I leave you with this tune from The Nolans, classic NYE track. So pull up your american apparel spandex pants and shake it!

I'm glad to have interacted with some great bloggers this year (you know who you are!) as a result of this blog, lets hope 2011 brings a lot more of that and some happiness my way (and yours dear reader!)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I made these again this year as they went down a treat. I followed a couple of recipes, but the simplest I've found is Jamie Oliver's:

Jamie's amazing diy chocolate truffles
Makes about 40-50 teaspoon-sized truffles, depending on how big/small you want them

• 300ml double cream
• a knob of unsalted butter
• finely grated zest from 1 clementine (I had none so used a lemon instead)
• 300g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
• a pinch sea salt
• a splash of brandy
• a handful of mixed nuts (Brazil nuts, toasted almonds and hazelnuts)

Put the cream in a pan over a medium heat and let it heat up. You don’t want it boiling, just hot. As soon as tiny bubbles start to appear add the knob of butter and the clementine zest.

Once the butter has melted pour this hot mixture over the chocolate pieces whisking as you go so the chocolate melts nice and slowly. If the mixture splits slightly, don’t worry, you can bring it right by adding a splash of boiling water. (Be very wary of adding hot water though!)

Add a pinch of salt to the mixture; it may sound bonkers, but the smallest pinch of salt actually makes chocolate taste even chocolatier! Stir in a splash of brandy.

Once completely melted and smooth, pour your melted chocolate mixture into a nice little serving dish or bowl. Pop this in the fridge for about 2 hours to set. Christmas is a busy time so you can always do this a few days before you need it if you want. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to make your truffles pull the bowl out of the fridge and let the chocolate warm up to room temperature.

Put your mixed nuts into a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to bash them up quite finely. Get some little saucers or bowls and put the nuts in one and your cocoa powder in the other. Put a teacup filled with boiled water on the tray and pop a few teaspoons in there for scooping the chocolate. Get everyone around the table to spoon their own truffles out of the serving dish and roll them in cocoa powder, crushed nuts or anything else you fancy. Or, you can let them smear their truffles over a biscotti like some posh Nutella! Serve with a few glasses of your chilled Vin Santo.

Of course, I'm on student budget so I haven't bottles of Vin Santo laying around, but this is a perfect treat for serving to relatives and friends that call over the festive season.

Oh and I actually ended up not using the cocoa powder in the end. These keep well in the fridge for a week, the nut coating loses its crunch after 2-3 days however.

This comes a bit late for Christmas day, but you've got New Years ahead of you and everyone loves finger food this time of year, so try it and let me know how you get on!

I'm even going to go far as to say that these are better than Ferrero Rocher because you made them yourself!

(crap photobooth picture because they were all eaten before I took a picture of them all prettied up! d'oh!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boozy birthday cake

It was my birthday, on the 27th, which ended ten minutes ago. So I'm twenty two now, it doesn't sit quite right with me yet.

Now that I'm home for the Christmas all I seem to think and post about is food!

I made my birthday cake, using Nigella's infamous Chocolate Guinness Cake

Nigella's Chocolate Guinness Cake
Makes about 12 slices

250ml Guinness
250g unsalted butter
75g cocoa
400g caster sugar
1 x 142ml pot sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
275g plain flour
2 1/2teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

300g Philadelphia cream cheese (I used mascarpone instead)
150g icing sugar
125ml double or whipping cream (I probably used only a third of this amount)

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line a 23cm springform tin.

(Melted butter and guinness mixture)

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter - in spoons or slices - and heat until the butter's melted, at which time you should whisk in the cocoa and sugar. Beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into the brown, buttery, beery pan and finally whisk in the flour and bicarb.

(Before adding the flour. Don't worry that the mixture seems watery, it'll all come together beautifully in the oven)

Pour the cake batter into the greased and lined tin and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

(Typically there wasn't a decent sized cake tin in my house so I put the remainder into fairy cake cases)

Leave to cool completely in the tin on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

When the cake's cold, sit it on a flat platter or cake stand and get on with the icing. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sieve over the icing sugar and then beat them both together. Or do this in a processor, putting the unsieved icing sugar in first and blitz to remove lumps before adding the cheese.

Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the top of the black cake so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

And if you're stuck with Guinness leftovers and you don't drink the white stuff yourself, theres always willing participants!

The finished product:

I got a bit snap happy! It was delicious, despite the small tin, I'm not one for icing usually, but this was smooth and with a kick. There was no Baileys in the house so I improvised and added a splash of:

Gin and tonic (almost) icing of course!

It got the Dad stamp of approval and his opinion of most things is "It's grand". Maybe he was being nice because it was my birthday.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 25th

Not much to tell.

What I ate:

Baked butternut squash with all the trimmings.

What I wore:

The velvet skirt is from H&M and I love it because it reminds me of Joan's office Xmas party dress in season four of Mad Men.

I received a gorgeous forest green blazer and sensible dress from Zara that I had picked myself, an Italian made natural bristle hairbrush and plenty of socks (at my own request!) and a massive tote bag of Soap and Glory shower products which will keeping me ticking by quite nicely.

And my wee Xmas present to you dear readers is the recipe for this tasty, seasonal baked butternut squash dish, from Lorraine Fitzmaurice of Blazing Salads.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It was Christmas Eve babe -

Nollaig shona dhuit, Buone Feste Natalizie, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Froehliche Weihnachten, Kala Christouyenna, Feliz Navidad, Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo, Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok, Zalig Kerstfeast, Ruumsaid juulup|hi, Cristmas mobarak, Hyvaa joulua, Shub Naya Baras, God Jul or Gledelig Jul, Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie, Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun... Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tasteful or what?! No seriously, seasons greetings to you all! My Christmas tradition involves traipsing to mass this evening, no matter how i hope I'll wangle a way out of it, I end up going along all the same, then a feast tomorrow (I'm making baked butternut squash this year). Our pipes have frozen again this year, so I guess thats becoming a tradition too.

And I'm going to be a big cliché and point out this classic:

Be merry and be warm! I bought some Cork dry gin yesterday in preparation, it took me almost forty hours to get home so I'm going to make the most of it!

PS. Somehow I ended up nominated for Ireland's Top Fashion Blogger. Of course I'm not expecting anything but a few votes would flatter my ego. I'm number 50 on the list. Thank you!

& Sarah at The Licentiate has a great Christmas giveaway! Ends midnight tonight.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Creatures of the night

I've been on a total Rocky Horror Picture Show high all this week so I started using polyvore to aid my procrastination and created sets for my favourite characters. Modern day horrors.


Magenta (my favourite! rawr!)

And inspired by The Transylvanians

It's my first time using polyvore, its almost like shopping! Glorified window shopping where money is no object!

Let me know what you crazy kids think. Time to inject more glitter/metallics into my own look perhaps.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can't slip, won't slip

What've I been doing? Finishing assignments, graduating, lazing around, buying ingredients for baking, etc.

Been wearing my Docs (the only remnants of my 'black phase') lots to survive this weather, snow has thawed but the ice has stuck around. So I've been wearing mainly layers, jumpers and trousers.

I have just given up on make-up, can't be bothered anymore. I look so tired!

Ten hole Docs, Uniqlo cords, Junk de Luxe jumper, Laura Ashley blouse and Dunnes Blazer

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas wishlist

If I had someone to buy for me. Or if I were a rich girl, la la la -

Kieslowski on Kieslowski

Zara coat

Dark red weekly diary moleskine

Smoke Fairies Through Low Light and Trees

Harry Clarke, Strangest Genius

Biba embossed shoulder bag

Decadent underwear

(via circus box)
Russell & Bromley loafers

Welcome to the Dollhouse poster

Vivien Leigh print.

Phew! All pictures are links.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stir Up Saturday / Traditional Christmas Cake

Hurrah! My essays and presentations for this semester have all been handed in, bar one that's due in January. I can rest easy for a while.

Two weekends ago I took a break from the library and three of us dedicated the day to baking our Christmas cakes, it's tradition apparently. We brought the day forward and had a 'stir up saturday', which is the traditional day for preparing your Christmas pudding/cake it seems. We listened to classic Christmas tunes, for that day only, to get us in the mood and after a few hours our house smelt deliciously like Christmas.

Originally my housemate and I were going to use the Xmas cake recipe posted on The Archers website, but when she checked the night before, the page had disappeared, it seems that the website has has a revamp. So instead she found this alternative. All the meticulous planning and subsequent smooth running of this operation are all to her credit. I'm glad to be living with an enthusiastic baker!

Hannah mixing cake number three.

This cake called for so much fruit that we weren't sure if it would all fit in the tin, but blessedly it did!

First cake from the oven (after four and a half hours)

I prepared the parchment for the tins. The layer of newspaper is to insulate the cake tin so it doesn't cook too quickly. I think it looks quite sweet and nostalgic all tied up with string.

Sitting proudly, admiring my handiwork.

My cake, unwrapped and doused with brandy.

William and Kate keeping my cake free from dust overnight.

My housemate and I are impatient for the chance to start eating this, but theres four weeks to go yet.

Most of the pictures were taken on Hannah's Panasonic DMC-L10, so much sharper quality and colours!

That evening with cake number three safely deposited in the oven, we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and I was not disappointed.