Sunday, 24 May 2015

Wicklow in the sun...

Yesterday was a beautiful morning, and a warm but not so sunny afternoon. We made the effort to get out of the house quite early, and went for a drive round the Blessington Lakes and then down Wicklow Gap to Laragh. When we stopped at one of the little car parks just before Laragh, the smell from the gorse was just heavenly! The sunshine really brings it out.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Got the Blues ?

Spotted this on the way to work this morning. I loved the look of the burnt texture at the bottom of the door.

Being the end of the year, there's a student exhibition on in the National College of Art and Design, and I'm sure this is part of it. I wish the gallery opened earlier and I could go in before work - I usually just want to head straight home afterwards.

Should have a few more swan photos in a day or two when I edit them. I took this one looking down the river towards the sun, so there wasn't much editing needed.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A Surprise and a Soup

The current photo challenge over on SCS is animals, and I was expecting to find it difficult - apart from people walking their dogs. However, when I walked over to the library on Saturday to pick up a DVD I had reserved, I came across something of a surprise!

I also managed to snap a grey squirrel up in the tree tops - it seemed to be pulling all the tender tips off and dropping a lot of them on the ground - not so good for the tree.

I wanted a change from the soups that I usually make, and since I had just been tidying through my store cupboard and was aware that I had some green split peas, I tried this recipe from Anna Thomas' "Love Soup". It was really good, we both liked it and I will make it again. But next time I will allow the split peas to soak longer, or give them more cooking time. They were quite old and I probably didn't allow for that!

Carol's Finnish Pea Soup with Apples from "LOVE SOUP" by Anna Thomas
Serves 6-7

1 1/2 cups / 12 ounces dried green split peas
2 large carrots
2 medium stalks celery
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dry
1 bay leaf
1 large onion (250g)
3 tblsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste - I don't think I used this much
1 large apple (250g)
12 ounced (350g) frech or frozen green peas
1 tsp coriander seeds roasted and ground
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tblsp Dijon mustard
1 tblsp cider vinegar
2 cups/500ml light vegetable broth
Hot paprika or cayenne to taste

Wash the split peas and put in a large pot with 6 cups/1 1/2 litres water. Peel and finely dice the carrots, trim and finely dice the celery and add to the peas along with the thyme and bayleaf. Bring to the boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about half an hour.
Meanwhile chop the onion and sauté it in 1 tblsp of the oil, with a little salt, till it is soft and golden brown.
Peel and core the apple and dice finely. She didn't say whether this should be a cooking apple or an eating one - I went for a slightly tart eating one that would keep its shape better. Add to the soup, along with the sautéed onion, and cook for another fifteen minutes. Then add the fresh/frozen peas, coriander, nutmeg, mustard, vinegar, salt, pinch of paprika and the vegetable broth. Simmer for another fifteen minutes. Add more salt if required, and more cayenne/paprika if you would like it spicier. Stir in the remaining olive oil just before serving.
I partially liquidised mine with a wand blender ; she says it can be served as it is or puréed, but I like some texture in my soups so I went with a half and half option.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Tufted Duck

When I have stale bread left over, I usually bring it in to work and feed it to the gulls; better that than landfill, and there are only so many breadcrumbs I can use. Usually all it takes is throwing a couple of bits into the water and a whole flock of gulls appear, seemingly out of nowhere. But there are occasions when this doesn't happen - and this morning was one of those days. So I walked down as far as Heuston Station, and when I looked further up-river I could see some ducks. So I kept walking a bit further - and was delighted to see a tufted duck in among the mallards. Alas, his tuft wasn't really showing, but his beautiful beak was.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

A Recipe, Rain, and a Wet Bird.

I was cooking for my mother-in-law on Saturday, and when offered a choice of desserts, C opted for panacotta. I think he was hoping for the rum and raisin one I usually make. But, while tidying and purging old magazine cuttings recently, I had come across a Gordon Ramsay recipe for lime panacotta which I really wanted to try. Well - no tequila here, and I was going to be back from the shops long before licensing hours would have let me buy any. So I decided to try a coffee-flavoured one with either Tia Maria or Kahlua, of which I had plenty. 
So I took the basics of Paul Flynn's rum and raisin recipe, which was:
450ml cream
two-and-a-half leaves of gelatine, soaked until soft in cold water
55g caster sugar

Bring half the cream to the boil, take off the heat and add the sugar and the gelatine. Whisk in thoroughly. When they are dissolved, add the rest of the cream and pour into dishes. Chill overnight

I lightly crushed one ounce of coffee beans and let them infuse in the heated half of the cream, let it cool down, strained it and then reheated it and went on as usual, though I reduced the sugar a bit as I didn't want them too sweet. I made some hazelnut tuiles to serve with them. 

We have had some very wet weather this week. I tried taking a few photos of the raindrops in a kerbside puddle while I was waiting for the bus on Tuesday. It was hard to focus, even with manual focus, so only a couple of photos are worth sharing.

Today I was just preparing dinner when I saw a bird pecking at something on the grass. Curious as to what it was, I got the spotting scope and took a closer look. It's either a very wet hen greenfinch or a juvenile (probably still too early for that, though), who was making a very tasty snack from a dandelion head. I've never seen that before! The windows are dirty from the rain, which didn't make for a great photo, but here she is, anyway.

Friday, 1 May 2015

April Favourites

Favourite cards from April...most of them seem to be from the Mixed Media challenges on Splitcoast, and the sunflower was made to use up a leftover failed background from one of them.