Food, Life, Laughter and a little Cooking

My Seafood Chowder Recipe

I don’t often order Seafood Chowder when I am out.  Primarily because I am allergic to Haddock, and even though there may not be pieces of haddock in the chowder itself, it may have been used to make stock. So if I have it, it’ll be homemade.

Chowder is a type of soup or stew often prepared with milk or cream and thickened with broken crackers, crushed ship biscuit, or a roux. Variations of chowder can be seafood or vegetable. The word chowder comes from the French chaudière (“cauldron”), and chowder may have originated among Breton fishermen who brought the custom to Newfoundland, then it spread to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England. The standard New England-style chowder now contains fish or shellfish, salt pork, onions, potatoes, and milk. Manhattan-style chowder replaces the milk with tomatoes. This is actually disputed as being a true chowder because of the absence of milk or cream. Eighteenth-century chowders were more varied; meat or poultry chowders were made, and wine, spices, herbs, cider, and other flavourings were often added.

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Bananas about Banana Bread

As usual we had too many bananas.  Reason? The eldest, the main banana consumer in the family, had gone orienteering in Sweden.  Now, I know the lowly banana has split many camps in regard to ethical/ organic / food miles.  but in reality, I think bananas are probably here to stay. So however uncomfortable I am about them, they are the essence of food used by orienteerers. Easily digestible and prepared food.  But now, with the *monkey* absent, a few bananas were going brown in the fruit basket. I took down a reasonable “posh” cookbook off my recipesto-try shelf.

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Lead Your Passion

Passion for anything is good, music, art, the perfect tooth brush, the perfect cup of coffee.

And depending on what I’m doing my passions change.  If that makes sense.  But of course it doesn’t.  That’s not to say I am flighty.  Anything but. My feet are often too firmly set on the ground.  My better half is the one with the eye to the future.  I tend to be passionate about the here and now.

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Is it a biscuit or a cookie?

I for one, never really know.  I would like to think a biscuit is flatter, and crisp, to me a digestive “biscuit” is the typical biscuit for me.

Whereas a cookie can be slightly more cracked, un-uniform and soft.  A chocolate chip cookie in this case is my example.

The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie

The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie

Often when I get the urge to make either a cookie or a biscuit I cannot make up my mind, so end up making more than one.

Sometimes when the mood REALLY takes me I might go one step further and make some “millionaire” shortbread.  I had been doing my shopping after my run recently (NEVER is this a good idea BTW), and spied my guilty pleasure in the aisle while waiting to pay. My virtuous daughter said not to give into my Twix temptation.  But I just couldn’t get the caramel/ chocolate/ Shortbread combination out of my head. So the biscuit on that occasion was, of course the millionaire.

Of course once you pair chocolate with either one, it instantly becomes a treat.


My husbands family come from a rather well known biscuit brand.  Jacob’s biscuits. As it happened the origin of the brand was Waterford,  founded in 1851 in Bridge Street, by William Beale Jacob and his brother Robert. It later moved to the better known location of Bishop Street in Dublin, with a factory in Peter’s Row. The factory in Liverpool was opened in 1914.

Mind you, when you think of Jacob’s biscuits you often imagine the iconic orange wrapping of the famous cream cracker, that, to me, isn’t really a biscuit at all! And no, I’m afraid I CANNOT tell you how they put the figs into the figrolls…..

So, as you can see I’ve quite the obsession with the whole cookie, biscuit, cracker thing.  And thankfully always have lots of volunteers helping me in my quest to find a favourite.  So, what’s yours?

My Easy Vegetable Korma Recipe- Try it!

Cooking a vegetarian meal for a party can be a little bit more challenging if certain staples are off the menu. I have a real dislike for chickpeas in anything other than hummus. I think, to be honest, its the texture. I’m not a fan of baked beans- and they are texturally speaking in the same family.

Korma is a dish originally made in India, and consisted of meat, fish or vegetables braised with yogurt/ cream/ coconut milk and spices.  In this case I made a Korma with vegetables.  But the method works the same for a meat version, with maybe extra cooking time depending on what meat/ fish you are using in the korma. Continue reading

Special Request Jamie Oliver’s Italian Sausage Pasta

When we have a birthday in this house I always offer to make them ANYTHING they want.  So when the eldest wanted a pasta dish he picked one out of “Jamie’s Italy“- Linguine alla carbonara di salsiccia (sausage carbonara) Doesn’t it sound better in Italian!!!! Sausage pasta sounds just NAFF


My daughter likes, no LOVES me to make a dish that uses “spicy sausage” aka chorizo, but this recipe calls for uncooked sausage meat. I used best quality black pepper sausages in this recipe.  Sometimes if you are lucky you can get some Italian spiced sausages, that would be just PERFECT in this dish. Jamie says it’s like a breakfast pasta, but I for one wouldn’t be a fan of pasta for breakfast!

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Strawberry Heaven in a tart

Who doesn’t associate strawberries with Summer? I know you can now get strawberries all year round, but honestly, there is NOTHING better than in season, local strawberries.  And as my love of pastry is always lurking somewhere beneath the surface, strawberries+ pastry= strawberry heaven.

As much as I always love my favourite recipes and make them often, it’s nice to try new things.  I picked up “The Boy Who Bakes”- Edd Kimber while in the UK on a trip.  Although I follow him on #Instagram, I had never seen him on TV on the GBBO, or tried one of his recipes.  Until now.

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And relax…. At the Cliff House Hotel

My hubby and I had a voucher for the Cliff House Hotel which we redeemed for my birthday.  It is without a doubt one of my favourite places on the planet. And I know, kind readers, that I haven’t actually BEEN all over the planet.  But I tell you, anywhere that has a place as peaceful and beautiful as Ardmore is doing well.

Part of the attraction is, of course, that it’s less than an hour away.  Anyone with family/ animals/ own business / anyone at all- knows that if you are going away for an overnight break, it’s nice not to have to travel that far.  I went first and arrived in time to have a top to toe treatment (birthday treat).  And it was just FAB.  Might have been helped by the gorgeous Bellini I had while perusing the lunch menu.

The thing that for me, makes the hotel special is the staff.  All of them, from the receptionists to the masseuse in the spa.

I had the most gorgeous massage.  There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to describe how relaxed I felt. For me, to take that time to have a treatment is the hardest thing to do. And it was worth every second. I always regret not booking more than one treatment… next time.

Of course by the time you have a swim, and wander back to your room it’s time for dinner.  We have been lucky enough to dine in the Cliff House Hotel restaurant a number of times over the years.  It’s a true culinary journey, and isn’t to be rushed or started on anything except an empty stomach.

I’m not going to post pictures of all our courses, just two, or my absolute highlights- apologies in advance for the dark photos, but I don’t like disturbing the ambience of the restaurant by having the camera flash on.

The cutest carrot EVER

The cutest carrot EVER

Honestly, the time that it must take with every single morsel that goes on the plate! Then of course there’s the pièce de résistance…. Of course my love affair of food is also with wine, and their Head Sommelier, Thierry Sauvanot and I are besties 😉

Cliff House Hotel

In short you need to visit. For the view alone it’s worth the trip. Tell them I say Hi.



NB I wrote this post after our stay, I never review by request, as I never review, simply visit and enjoy.  The odd time I do blog about a hotel or restaurant it is because we have visited there, either by chance or design.  I write purely for pleasure and don’t get reimbursement. In short this blog about the Cliff House Hotel is because I believe in giving credit when credit is due. So thanks Adriaan and the team, again, sincerely, for a wonderful 24 hours.

Rocket Gnudi- Yep I’d never heard of them either

My Mum and Dad are great at spying recipes for me to try, and when they proudly presented me with this particular Gnudi one, there was a definite hint of -I’ve-stumped-you-now in my father’s eye.  But never one to resist a challenge, I went about making some. This recipe is  from the book – Too Good To Waste by Victoria Glass.

Technically dumplings, these billowy puffs of cheese are from Tuscany originally, where ricotta replaced potato in the more common Gnocchi. Gnudi is an English-adopted Tuscan word for the Italian term “nudi” (naked), the idea being that these balls of ricotta (and sometimes spinach) are “nude ravioli”, consisting of just the tasty filling without the pasta shell. Fine with me. I’m not adverse to a bowl of nude pasta if push comes to shove.

Rocket Gnudi


150g Rocket/ or you could probably use baby spinach

250g ricotta

50g freshly grated Parmesan

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

250g semolina

Sage butter or tomato passata sauce to serve.


Place the rocket in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of boiling water and heat until the leaves are just wilted. Drain well, cool and chop finely.  Mix this chopped rocket together with the ricotta, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt and some black pepper in a bowl.


Pour the semolina into a separate shallow bowl.


Wet your hands (to prevent sticking) and roll a walnut sized piece of ricotta mixture into balls in between your palms. Then coat this in semolina, leaving it to one side in the semolina dish when you move onto the next ball.

Continue like this until all the balls are used up.  Then roll all the balls again through the semolina to make sure that they are well coated.


At this stage they need to go uncovered into the fridge for at least 48 hours. Here the gnudi will develop a skin to make them easier to cook.  They can be frozen in a container at this stage.

When you are ready to cook the gnudi, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.  Adding a few gnudi at a time to this water, you will know when they are cooked as they will start to float.  Using a slotted spoon remove the cooked gnudi to a frying pan with sizzling melted butter to finish them off.

Rocket Gnudi

Rocket Gnudi

I love them just like this, with extra parmesan, but you could throw them into a bowl of bubbling passata if you were feeling indulgent.  Whatever way you chose they are divine.








Why Sorry seems to be the hardest word

We all have problems admitting when we are wrong.  So sometimes Sorry is the hardest word. Often, it seems, the answer lies in how the person apologises. But what makes one apology acceptable and another one not? What makes it possible for some people to say they’re sorry and impossible for others? And what makes one person forgive and another hold a grudge forever? Bit Deep for a Tuesday? Sorry…

I’m a *bit* hot headed at times, but quickly calm down, a little deep breathing, a cup of tea, or some exercise does the trick- and am always willing to apologise. What gets me is when others DON’T feel the need to say sorry. But as my very wise mother in law use to say- not my monkey, not my circus.


So when this song came on recently, when I was having the ever present conversation with myself in my head about how someone was, to be honest, really upsetting me because they, I feel, had completely wronged me, I paused. Because Sorry is the hardest word.  And maybe they aren’t ready to apologise, or maybe they don’t feel they have to. So I need to move on. And listen to more music.

And while we are are on the Elton John theme…. one of my favourite albums of “his”, is

Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin. It’s is a tribute album consisting of interpretations of sixteen songs written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.  And some of them are complete magic. My favourite? “Tonight” sung by George Michael, interestingly on the same album “Blue Moves” as the song in the blog title. It’s movingly hauntingly beautifully written and sung. And brings me to goosebumps every time I hear it. Maybe I should put “learn to play tonight on the piano” on my bucket list…