Friday, July 29, 2011

Harris is 6 Months

Wednesday Harris reached 6 months. He weighs a little over 17 pounds now. The big accomplishment this month is sitting. He's all about sitting. Now that he has this new perspective on the world, he prefers it to any other. When he's not sitting he's inch-worming on the ground, trying to get his knees under him, creeping along an inch at a time toward his favorite toy or Mackenzie. Mackenzie enthralls him. Every time she darts by and give him a quick kiss, he looks straight at me and squeals.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sunny Day

Ireland does get sunshine. See? I have proof. Mackenzie Grace, Harris and I enjoyed a lovely afternoon in Palmerston Gardens Wednesday. It was a warm 70 degrees. Makes me think I'm not going to be able to handle the 100+ temps in Texas. I will miss my Irish summers.

Look how hot Mackenzie thinks it is. Goodness is she in for a shock in October. I'm guessing it will still be in the 80s in Austin.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Bastille Day

To continue all my baking this week, and in honor of Bastille Day, I decided to make a French Apple Tart. I used a recipe from found here. It turned out very pretty just as I hoped and tasted equally delicious. So Happy Bastille Day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Double-Stuffed Sugar Overload

So, I was feeling pretty awesome about sticking to my diet for a whole three days so I decided to make these ridiculous overindulgent cookie bars. I found the recipe here because of my favorite iPad app Zite, which is contantly throwing new cooking and food blogs my way. I've had the recipe saved for awhile and was secretly hoping I'd never get to it. I mean who really needs a double-stuffed Oreo inside a brownie, on top of a chocolate chip cookie. No one. No one needs that. But guess what arrived in Ireland?

That's right. Ireland has had the Oreo since sometime in the 90s. But until rather recently (I only discovered them today), they haven't had the double-stuffed variety. So to celebrate the arrival of the double-stuffed Oreo and, of course, sticking to my diet for just short of half a week, below is the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie n’ Oreo Fudge Brownie Bar. The only adjustment I made was to substitute my chocolate chip cookie recipe. Other than that I followed it exactly.

And the verdict is: yummy, but I think I'd rather just have the cookie, Oreo and brown all separate. And maybe not worth the diet busting. And don't worry, I only ate one and sent the rest to Richard's coworkers. Hopefully that will be my chocolate fix for the rest of July.

Irish Pies

"How American", an Irish friend told Siobhan, when she told her of our Saturday pie making plans. And American it is, but this one had an Irish twist - rhubarb! It seems counter intuitive to put the sour vegetable in a pie. But here's the secret: loads and loads of sugar. We scoured the internet, and by this I mean we chose the first entry in google when you search "rhubarb pie recipe". This one here. It was incredibly straight forward. We learned a lot about rhubarb. For instance, did you know the leaves are toxic? We carefully washed our hands after trimming them. We also learned there is field-grown rhubarb which will be pink and light green stalks, and then there was the hot house rhubarb which will be bright pink/red all the way through. We had the field-grown kind. This is why our rhubarb pie was not the lovely red color we had expected. But it tasted nice all the same.

Even though it was pretty delicious, we were disappointed in the color of our pie. So on Sunday we decided to use the rest of our rhubarb to make rhubarb and strawberry pie. Again we used Google entry number 1 found here. And wouldn't you know it, adding strawberries made it downright fantastic as well as a lovely red color. So we ended up with slightly too much pie, but it was a lot of fun making our Irish pies.


Rhubarb Pie from


  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 1/3 cups white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
  2. Combine sugar and flour. Sprinkle 1/4 of it over pastry in pie plate. Heap rhubarb over this mixture. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour. Dot with small pieces of butter. Cover with top crust.
  3. Place pie on lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie from


  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar. Add strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Toss with sugar and flour and let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour filling into pie crust. Dot top with butter, and cover with top crust. Seal edges of top and bottom crust with water.
  4. Apply yolk to top of pie, using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with sugar. Cut small holes in top to let steam escape.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C), for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly and brown. Cool on rack.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America!

Food, Food, Food, France

I've been saying I'd write this post forever. But honestly, there was just so much great food on our France trip that I've been dreading writing about all of it. The food was so good that I basically went on a minor hunger strike on our return. I know how this sounds. Go ahead, roll your eyes. But nothing tasted worth eating when we got back to Ireland. I really enjoyed the French food. This isn't news, everyone loves French food. But you forget, especially living in a place like Ireland. Don't get me wrong, Ireland has it's foodie highlights. But there is no comparison. When you travel in France, there is some fantastic dish to be discovered around every corner. From the markets to Michelin-starred amazingness, below are some of our highlights.

I've posted about our French markets visits. In fact, if you visit regularly you probably have noticed we check out a ton of markets everywhere we go. While, the Borough Market in London is still my favorite and the ones in Rome were hard to beat, there wasn't a single subpar market we visited in France, even in the tiny town of Villefranche-Sur-Mer. We got to cook from the market a couple of times. It was the first time I cooked white asparagus and I thought it turned out well. But beyond the food, what I really enjoyed is the experience. The culture of daily market shopping is so wonderful for many reasons. You get to know your vendors who very often grow or produce their product themselves. You get the freshest available food. And for a great bonus you are usually cutting down on your carbon footprint by cutting out all the transportation and packaging. This bit of European culture is definitely something I wish would catch on in the States. It is slowly taking hold in many urban areas.  Farmers markets are plentiful now in the States, but I think many Americans would balk at the idea of heading to a market every day for the dinner's produce, much less standing in line every evening your for dinner baguette. Such a shame!

Ahh, bread. I'm not someone who needs bread with every meal, and I really could live without it all together...unless I lived in France. My dad would make sure he had a baguette (an entire one most days!) to snack on throughout the day. Even though I wasn't that bad, I think I consumed more bread in France than I typically do in a year. I don't know what it is about it, but I'm a bread fiend when in France.

There are things that I love and will eat even poor quality version of - anything chocolate. And there are things that I love and will only eat the best of - pastries. I love pastries. But the calories just aren't worth it to me if it's not pretty fantastic. It's a good thing Paris is a divine walking city because I ate pastries and patisserie every darn day. Almond croissants, chocolate croissants, pain au chocolate, vanilla, coffee and chocolate eclairs, choux, fruit tarts and plenty more that I can not name. I usually had more than one pastry each morning for breakfast and a small tart or other delight in the afternoon. I feel the need to mention though that I did lose over 5 pounds on the trip - so at least it proves all that walking was doing something! You can read about my favorite pastry here.

And not to leave chocolate out, Paris had some amazing chocolate. We had Angelina's hot chocolate which I thought was the best. Their pastries seemed just okay to me. Genin's had to-die-for chocolate. I mean that. It would be worth considerable risk to your life to eat there. In fact, the patisserie was delicious there as well. I had an amazing triple min-eclair on top of a delicate cake that was perfection. I tried a few other places, but ran out of time getting to all the chocolate places. Oh, my stomach is growling and I just remembered the macaroons at Ladurée. This is not some great secret, but they were amazing and definitely my favorite of all the macaroons we sampled. Vanilla was by far my favorite. The simplicity of flavor and the perfect texture couldn't be beat.

Whew. That is a lot already and I haven't even gotten to the restaurants. Having the little guy with us now presented challenges in dining out, of course. Luckily my parents joined us for the trip so we were able to get a couple of date nights in. And we went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for lunch and took Harris with us. My favorite was definitely Robuchon. The dishes were inventive and fun, tasted fantastic and gorgeous to look at. I loved my main of quail stuffed with foie gras - no words. And the rest was equally delish. I also really enjoyed Les Bouquinistes by Guy Savoy. We chose this restaurant over a few others on our list largely because it had pomme anna which I have made at home, but never had at a restaurant. Needless to say my rustic version was put to shame by the dish at Guy Savoy. The only thing that tried to spoil our evening was that the restaurant was nearly full of Americans - it didn't feel quite like a Paris date night surrounded by English speakers! But we remedied that by heading to a great cafe recommended to us by one of Richard's coworkers in the Paris office, Le Palette. It was a perfect end to the evening exploring St Germain. One of the better meals we had was at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Beaune, Le Bénaton. Again, we took Harris, so we reserved a table for as soon as the doors opened, 7pm I believe. It was a typical slow French meal and Harris made it nearly through dessert. We had excellent service and a great meal. The rest of our restaurant dining was definitely more pedestrian. My favorites were L'Aparté in Villefranche-Sur-Mer even with our dinner being cut short due to an rainstorm. The highlight there was the three-vegetable mousse. It is now on my list of something to attempt to replicate. Auberge Provencale in Cannes was a repeat for us. We went the first time in 2007 completely by chance. It claims to be the oldest restaurant in Cannes and I would not argue with anyone who said it was the best. It really might be my favorite restaurant overall in all our European travels. Other honorable mentions are Au Rocher de Cancale in Paris and Le Petit Paradis and Bistro Bourguignon, both in Beaune. The last had this wonderful seared scallops and grilled prawns dish. Ohh la la! Overall the best food was probably in Beaune.

Ooh, speaking of Beaune. Beaune is the Burgundy region of France and among other things (wine) it's known for mustard as well. I fell in love with tarragon mustard. It is so yummy and I can think of so many sandwiches that it would go well on! Can you believe I forgot to buy some to bring home?! Ah, oh well. I must search for it in an import store soon.

So there it is. Our food in France. I know I'm leaving out some amazing finds. And I wish I had been better about taking pictures of all the food. I guess we were too busy eating it most of the time!