Friday, 26 February 2010

My Old Lady Dresser

Not long now until I head home to the love nest from my stint away with work. I've almost forgotten about all the lovely things we have worked hard on over the last few months at the end of our renovations. I can't wait to have tea and cake on crockery from my pretty dresser which we lovingly adopted and made are some snaps I have with me on my laptop....

I found this little old lady in a salvage yard many months ago. In fact, when I first found her she was browny beige and her back wasn't in very good shape. When I went back to visit her again and begin proceedings for adoption, I was gutted to hear someone else had bought her! They had in fact already fixed her up and painted her white. But alas, she cunningly didn't fit into their kitchen so we were lucky enough to be able to snap her up! So, with another lick of white paint and a 'team green' makeover to fit in perfectly with our other kitchen cabinets, she was ours to take home sweet home and dress to my dolls house delight...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Weekend Brunch

I'm still away with work but really looking forward to having Sunday off. Apparently a gang of us are going to hit Victoria Secrets in the morning and then head to Sag Harbour for a bloody mary before lunch there....after a week of churning out food at work I most certainly have no intention of cooking a thing! But if you do, then this recipe is a great quick, easy and delicious weekend brunch. Enjoy!


This is a quick and tasty brunch, lunch or tea time snack. It’s also a great way of using up leftover cooked chicken. I actually like to use smoked chicken breast here if it’s available but regular cooked chicken is great too. You could try using other ingredients here too like mushrooms or bacon (cooking them with the onion). You could also use wholegrain mustard instead of sundried tomato pesto and creme fraiche in place of the cream.

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 smoked chicken breast, torn into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp chopped mixed herbs (eg parsley, chives, sage, thyme, basil)
1 heaped tbsp sundried tomato pesto
½ tsp cayenne (optional)
100ml single cream
juice ½ lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
4 slices bread like foccacia or ciabatta
Salad leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pop a griddle pan on the heat for the bread. While that is heating up, heat the oil in a seperate frying pan on a medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.

Next add the chicken and herbs and saute for a further 2-3 minutes to warm through and until the chicken is just catching colour.

Meanwhile, drizzle the oil over the bread slices and place them on the griddle to cook until crisp and charred on each side.

To finish the chicken saute, reduce the heat and stir in the tomato pesto, cayenne (if using) and the cream and allow to simmer gently for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Squeeze the lemon juice over and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange two griddled toasts on each serving plate and spoon the chicken saute mixture on top. Serve at once with a handful of salad leaves.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

The life of a Science Lab Stool

Summer is a great time to hit auction houses as 'closed for the holidays' schools have a revamp, chucking out old chairs and desks and other such gorgeous delights for magpies like me to swallow up and reinvent. Last summer I bagged these cutesy stools at a snatch of €10 for the four. They were in an auction in a lot of nineteen and so I didn't bid (I'm not that much of a hardcore hoarder!). Although, when I came back to the auction to pick up some other 'one mans junk, another man's treasure', I asked out of interest who bought them, only to end up meeting the woman who did - she really didn't want them all either and so sold me four. I slung them in our loft (I dare not look up there at what else I have buried away!) until I had time to lovingly attend to them recently, only to find that two were one height and two were another!!! What a shame....they had been stacked and so in my bargain hunters delight I hadn't even noticed! Oh well, it was obviously meant to be that baby bears stayed with Mummy & Daddy! are some snaps of the original babies, graffiti and all. Now they have hot pink (spray painted) legs and white washed tops (with graffiti undersides as a reminder of their past life!). They now live happily tucked under our new kitchen counter (which has our cooker nestled in....more about that later).

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Fiery Chilli Jam

This is my Valentines offering....My Fiery Chilli Jam is sure to get hearts pounding and pulses racing! Use less chillies if you don't think you can take the heat but a smidgen of it with yummy cheeses or cold meats is to die for. Happy Valentines!


12 large fresh red chillies
450g ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
3 large garlic cloves
1” cube ginger
300g demerara sugar
100ml red wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop the chillies (remove the seeds if you like) and tomatoes and bung them in a processor. Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic and ginger and add them too. Blend for a few seconds until fairly smooth and then tip the mixture into a wide saucepan.

Add the sugar, vinegar and a little seasoning and bring slowly to the boil. Reduce to simmer for about 40 minutes until thickened and jammy (remembering that it will thicken a little more on cooling). Remove and leave to cool completely before potting.

Keep in dark, dry storage for about 3 months. Refrigerate on opening a jar.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

flown from the nest

I didn't get a chance to tell you last week that I was leaving the warm comfort blankie of home and husband and heading away with work until early March. But here I am, a million miles from the nest and living in what I have now dubbed The Hampton Cottage. (You can read my work blog here and here to find out where I am and what I'm up to). Oh, and yes, it's been snowing, isn't it pretty?!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

chocolate birthday cake

With lots of friends birthdays recently and of course the very special first birthday of our most favouritist (its a word in the kiddy dictionary, swear!) nephew Billy in Australia, what a great excuse to make a chocolate cake! I LOVE this chocolate cake (well, truth be told of course, I love ANY chocolate cake!). It's actually made without flour, with ground hazelnuts used in it's place. To prepare these, blend blanched hazelnuts in a mini blender to very fine crumbs. You could of course use ground almonds instead. This, combined with the melted chocolatey butter mixture, results in a deliciously moist and dense cake...the prefect comfort cake, particularly if indulged in when still slightly warm....mmmm


Serves 8

150g unsalted butter + extra for greasing
200g 70% cocoa chocolate
1 tbsp frangelico liqueur (or amaretto or tia maria)
175g golden caster sugar
100g ground hazelnuts
5 eggs
fresh raspberries
softly whipped cream or creme fraiche

Grease a round 8” spring form cake tin with butter and set on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F / Gas Mark 4).

Dice the butter into a large heat-proof bowl and break the chocolate in. Add the frangelico liqueur and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted and then remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.
Meanwhile, separate the eggs, placing the whites into a large clean bowl and reserving the yolks. Whisk the whites until stiff.
Next, returning to the chocolate mixture, mix the sugar and ground hazelnuts through. Stir the egg yolks in, one at a time.
Finally, stir a spoonful of the whisked egg whites into the mixture and then very gently fold the remaining whites in until well blended.
Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until risen, crisp and cracked on top but still just soft in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before carefully removing. Allow to cool completely cool or serve just warm if preferred.

This is delicious served with fresh raspberries & softly whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Some Inspiring Links

You may remember when I met the lovely Paget Scott McCarthy & Rebecca Devaney here. Well, since their first class back then, they have been whisking the Dublin crafting scene into a frenzy with their successful Textile Workshops at the Pearse Museum. They are now also hosting embroidery evenings at Nelly's deli on the South Cirucluar Rd, clever girls! Sadly I won't be around this Wednesday evening for their Valentines themed evening but that leaves a seat for you if you want it, you'd be mad not to!

On the subject of all things inspiring, there are a few other things I have wanted to tell you about...
- Check out fellow bloggerette over at Inspire my house pretty (say hi, because she has been blogging away with lots of great inspiration since last year & apparently my recent comment was her first!). 
- My friend Agnes beavers away down at LIT where they have a brand new food site and have very kindly linked us on *blush*. 
- Also, Happy, the lovely lady who changed the face of Friendly Cottage, has a brand new online shop *squeels of delight* selling vintage goodies, some of which she has made herself.....hands off the button necklaces! 
- Thanks to the guys over at Shelterrific for the inclusion of Friendly Cottage on their blog-watch list, shucks!
- Finally, big thanks to Lorna over at Garrendenny Lane Interiors for including Friendly Cottage in an upcoming feature in Munster Interiors, can't wait to see it!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


This post is for one very special person in particular - Martin's fairy-godmother! Hey Julie! So, your lovely husband of 31 years today, Steve, has just given you your anniversary gift then? You've opened the card, read your first clue and now come online to see what romantic destination it is he's whisking you off to?! 

Well, we hope this doesn't disappoint but, Surprise're checked into Friendly Cottage here in Ireland for a lovely weekend of R&R, a great catch up and maybe breakfast in bed if you behave (highly unlikely then!)....We can't wait to have you both here. xxx

...Step into a world of comfort, relaxation and cosy cottage hospitality where you will be waited on hand and foot, fed lots of cake and generally be treated like your Royal Highness....your room Ma'am....

Oh, I've come over all Cilla Black!