Pink Gin Jam

Love Gin? Love Raspberries? Love Jam? This is the recipe for you!! It’s so ridiculously tasty it’s hard not to eat it off the spoon… or if you do make sure you wait for it too cool first, just some advice! And this is slightly cheating as I use frozen berries as I can never manage to get my act together to go berry picking! And well, they are cheaper, I’m not a millionaire (YET!) so can’t afford fresh berries every time I want to make jam.

This makes two 2 x 350g JarsScreenshot_20171025-130800

Ingredients

500g Frozen Raspberries

50ml Water

335g Caster Sugar

120ml Gordon’s Pink Gin

 

Method 

Place the raspberries and water into a pan, on a medium heat and leave to slowly soften up. This should take about 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil steadily for about 10-15 minutes, or until at setting point, 105C/220F. Though if you don’t have a jam or digital thermometer, spoon a little onto a cold plate, leave for a minute and then push the jam with your finger. If the jam crinkles and separates without flooding back, setting point has been reached!

Add the gin, watch out, those fumes are the alcohol burning off, and stir until well mixed in!

Pour into your sterilised jars 🙂 This will last up to 6 months unopened. Once opened keep refrigerated and consume within 4 weeks.

 

 

Advertisements

Howth – A Not so Hidden Gem

I finally managed to go to Howth at the weekend. And I have to say I can see why people recommend it.

Screenshot_20171016-175254

It wasn’t the sunniest of days when we went but it was still a gorgeous seaside town. Situated just outside of Dublin city centre, about 9 miles, it’s super easy to get to! The best way is to get the DART from Connolly Station. You can use your leap card or buy a return for around €6.50. You get off in the very heart of the town, right next to the harbour! It’s perfect to get out the city for a few hours/half a day, see the sea and relax! You can easily spend a lot more time there!

The best time to go is during the week. It can get incredibly busy at the weekends with tourists and locals going for a day out. Also avoid bank holiday weekends, and super sunny days. Though the latter is harder to do as, let’s be honest, everyone wants to go to the sea when it’s sunny.

screenshot_20171016-175622.jpg

We were incredibly lucky when we got there, as there was a very cute fat seal in the water next to all the boats. These aren’t as common as you think! My friend who goes regularly, and says that Howth is her favourite place, has yet to see them. So if you don’t, don’t be disappointed, it’s just another reason to go back! Try not to feed them though, as this can cause them to become dependent on tourists food rather than hunting themselves. You can see them in the harbour and on the walk down to Howth Harbour Lighthouse.

Walking down to the lighthouse, even on a windy day, is lovely to do. It’s been switched off for some years now but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. I am a sucker for lighthouses though so I might be bias on this. From here you can see Ireland’s Eye, a small Ireland just off the North coast.

Screenshot_20171016-175906

And for all those history folk, Howth has a dramatic history, the Howth Gun Running. In July 1914, rifles were openly imported to arm the Irish Volunteers. There were civilian deaths and many wounded when police arrived due to large crowds surrounding the yacht that had bought them in.

Screenshot_20171016-175641

Getting lunch here is obviously a must! You have the classics, Leo Burdocks and Wrights Findlater but I would recommend The House. I had one of the best Seafood Chowders I’ve ever had. Filled with mussels, clams and haddock, plus some chorizo and a poached egg. Are you drooling too? It was fantastic, and so fresh. Plus a cheeky glass of white wine doesn’t go a miss. When you’re done head to The Grind for a Tea or Coffee to take away before carrying on your wondering.

20171015_133631.jpg

There is also an incredible walk to do, though I we didn’t do it as we lacked in time you can read all about it here. The loop is about 6km long and gives some of the best views of Howth.

Have you been to Howth? Did you get to see seals? What was your highlight?

Oxmantown – best sandwiches in Dublin

Sandwiches are probably the boys favourite food! I’m pretty sure he would have them for every meal if he could. So we are always on the look out for a new one to try.

As you walk down through Stoneybatter, you can just feel the history. You walk past the beautiful fruit and veg market. Even though there are so many places to choose from Oxmantown is a must go to. In fact, it’s probably the best sandwich town in Dublin! Plus it’s just down the road from the Luas stop. It’s only open Monday to Friday, which is heartbreaking if you work 9-5pm. But if you find yourself this side of the river, and hungry this is the place for you.

Firstly, the interior is adorable! I want that triangular shelve with those gorgeous succulents. And I love the idea of writing the menu on the tiles! Also see if you can spot Lego Homer!

Screenshot_20171016-195247

Breakfast is served 8-11am. They have the most amazing Black Pudding Sandwich, served with pickles, relish and rocket. This sandwich is soft, filling and so flavourful. The black pudding is amazing, if it wasn’t so bad for me I would try to go pre work everyday for this. They also have a BLT – crispy bacon and aioli, need I say more! Plus the BLTs are made using sourdough bread. All of this for only €5.50!

Screenshot_20171016-195438

The coffee is by Cloud Picker! Dublin’s first micro coffee roastery, established in 2013. Smooth, light and creamy, the perfect match to your morning sandwich.

Screenshot_20171016-195900

To top it off, their cakes are delicious AND reasonably priced, which is so rare to see around Dublin. We got these for takeaway as we didn’t really need them for breakfast. We went for the brownie, Pastéis de Nata, and a blueberry Madeleine. I was surprised but my absolute favourite was the Madeleine, so light and fluffy but still packed with flavour!

Screenshot_20171016-200016

Have you been? Or do you have another favourite sandwich place?

 

Life is SHIT, now let’s talk about it!

Disclaimer – if you don’t like swearing, I advise you don’t read any further… if you hadn’t worked that out from the title!

Last Sunday, my mum, my sister, and myself were putting the world to right over a glass (*bottles*) of wine. We discussed everything from Black Lives Matter, Women Belong in the Boardroom, the 8th Amendment and how SHIT life can be.

No one has it easy, but the problem is we don’t talk about how SHIT it is! We discussed putting our problems out there, how we really felt, in the hope that one person who feels the same knows that they aren’t alone.

I obviously have my blog, and this is a little ME part, to write and share my shit. I hope that others will too, this doesn’t have to be online for people to see, it can just be a scrap of paper that when you’re done you shred, a diary only for you, or a letter to a friend. But write and it will make you feel a world of difference. And remember, how little you think your shit is, if it is shit to you, it’s important! To give context to this, my Nanna visited her friend with breast cancer, and complained to her about her headache she had for days, then laughed saying I guess that’s nothing really; her friend turned to her and said, my breast cancer isn’t making your headache any less shit.

So my shit, my shit is that my father-in-law has cancer. The big C, that thing that now affects 1 in 2 people! That thing that, even knowing that statistic, would never affect someone I love. How could it, everyone I know is kind, loving, caring, why would it take someone like that. But guess what, it doesn’t care who you are, what you do, or what you are like. IT IS SHIT!

What makes this harder is it’s not my dad. Sounds crazy and backwards right!? But what I mean by this, isn’t that I wish it was my dad, but that I could ball my eyes out, I could refuse to do nothing, I could wallow (yes we all know it doesn’t help but sometimes you just need to!) because it’s my dad. This isn’t my dad, and I love him like family, but technically he’s not. And what I feel is only a fraction of what his children feel, what my stupidly strong boyfriend feels. And how can I compare to that. I feel like I have no right to be mad, to be upset, to cry. If they aren’t, why should I. Us Youngs are emotional folk, the Isards so much less so. We are chalk and cheese. But I dwell, I wonder how they all are, day in day out.

To top it off, my friends and family definitely don’t tell me their shit any more. Too worried to not over load me I think is their logic. But instead, this is even more isolating. You feel out the loop of more people that you care about. Then you feel like you shouldn’t share the less shit, (work, BF is annoying, you miss your family) because that then feels even more small and less important!

So I know I am not the only one in this boat, but it’s lonely, it’s isolating, it’s shit! But to all those other people in this boat with me, I’m here, whether we talk and share or sit quietly, we are in this together. I would like to say it gets better, but right now, I can’t say that, because I honestly don’t know.

Oh and one last thing – FUCK YOU CANCER! Donate to Stand Up To Cancer NOW! 🙂

Custard Tart, a family fav!

The tart originated in England (or France) but let’s stick with England today, as to me, they are such an English treat. A crumbly shortcrust pastry filled with a creamy egg custard. Back in the day, if they were made for the rich they would have the addition of spices. Now days you can’t imagine it without them. They even (apparently) inspired the famous Portuguese version, the Pastéis de Nata. Though for me this week it was the other way round, inspired by the Portuguese tarts on GBBO I wanted to make the English version.
Also my stepdad absolutely loves custard tarts! For years when we would go to the bakery that’s what he would get. So this is dedicated to him (even if he only got a small slither that had to travel on a plane to him).

So this is my version, and let’s hope it lives up to my stepdads expectations.

Ingredients

Shortcrust Pastry
225g Plain Flour
150g Butter, cubed and chilled
1 Large Free Range Egg

Custard Filling 20171006_141804
270ml Whole Milk
30g Plain Flour
1 Lime Leaf
1 Cinnamon Stick, broken in half
130ml Water
265g Caster Sugar
5 Large Egg Yolks

Whole nutmeg

Method
For pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and add the cubed, chilled butter. Rub together using your finger tips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Whisk the egg and add, mix to form a soft dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, till it is about 3mm thick! Line a rectangular 30cm fluted tin, press the pastry lightly to the corners and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Now for the custard, in a small pan add the sugar and water and heat gently. Bring to the boil, so it creates a syrup, approx 106-112C.
In a large saucepan, add the milk and flour and whisk. Add the lime leaf and cinnamon stick, and bring to a simmer, keep whisking! Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat.

20171006_141708Gradually whisk the sugar syrup into the milk mixture.
In a large bowl whisk up the egg yolks. Slowly pour over the milk mixture while continuing to whisk. Do this super slowly otherwise you can curdle the eggs and end up with a sweet , milky scrambled eggs! Place a sheet of cling film over the surface of the mixture to stop a skin forming. Leave to cool.
Pre heat the I’ve to 180C. Blind bake your pastry. Do this by lining the pastry case with baking parchment and fill with ceramic beans (or in cooked rice or lentils!) And bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove the parchment and bake for a further 7-10 minutes. Pour over the custard and bake for another 15-18 minutes. You want it slightly golden on the top while still slightly soft.
Leave to cool and remove from the tin. To serve, chill and grate over a little nutmeg!

 

 

 

My European Bucket List

It’s good to have travel goals, right?! I love to plan, and read about all those places to go and its hard to pick a top list but this is it… today, it might change next week…

Lake Bled, Slovenia

I actually heard about this place from a girl I work with who loves Eastern Europe. And the second she showed me pictures I knew I wanted to go. I mean just look at it, it’s stunning. A medieval castle in the middle of a lake, surrounded by mountains. There is also so much to do around here, cannoning, hiking and swimming to name a few.

Image result for Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled

Berlin, Germany

I love history, so naturally I have a draw to Berlin. I want to see Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall and the Reichstag. On top of all of this, I have Germany heritage. I don’t know much about it, which is terrible and as I write this, it’s gone onto the list of things I need to change. I know Germany isn’t that far away, and considering everywhere else I’ve been it is bad I have yet to go.

Image result for berlin reichstag
Reichstag

Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge and the Old Square look gorgeous. The Bridge was built in 1357, think how much it has seen! You can take boat trips along the Vltava River and view the city from a different perspective (one of the things I loved doing in Amsterdam)! There is also a beer festival in May!

Image result for charles bridge prague
Charles Bridge

Budapest, Hungary*

To start, Thermal Springs! Who doesn’t want to hang out in hot springs for a few hours surrounded by amazing architecture? Gothic, Turkish, Roman and Renaissance plus everything in between, so much to fall in love with.

*Just booked flights for March. I can’t wait!!

Image result for budapest parliament building
 Parliament of Budapest

 

 

Rome, Italy

Food, the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel. Just listing those things has made me look up flights for April! It’s all very cliché, and I don’t care. I want to see all those things. I know it’s not Rome, but I also would love to go to the Vatican City. It would be rude to go all the way over and not really!

Image result for rome
Collosseum

Copenhagen, Denmark

Though being in two minds about going to Denmark at all I do still have a draw to Copenhagen. Perfect place for city break. Obviously I would have to see the Little Mermaid but I want to have wonder up and down Nyhavn! See where Hans lived and wrote (somewhat odd) fairy tales. And the Christmas market looks incredible.

Image result for Nyhavn
Nyhavn

Where are the places in Europe that you want to go?! Or where else would you recommend?