Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is here! I was busy making candy apples last week for my daughter's Halloween school party that happened on Friday. In my book, nothing says Halloween like a candy apple. The recipe I use to make them is taken and adapted from The Joy Of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker. If you don't already have this in your cookbook collection, I couldn't recommend it more. It's one of my favourite books to work from and covers everything in the world of baking and cooking. I love this book. This recipe does take a little work, but the results are impressive and will put a delighted smile on every child's (and adult's!) face :)

Even one of our own carved pumpkins loves candy apples ;)


So here's what to do:

Ingredients:
10 - 15 wooden skewers
10 - 15 small sized, washed braeburn or jazz apples
2 cups caster sugar
1 cup water
2/3 of a cup light corn syrup (Note: you need to use corn syrup not golden syrup. You can find it in Fallon & Byrne and other reputable gourmet food emporiums around the country and of course, online too.)
1 three to four inch cinnamon stick
A few drops of red food colouring

See my Cups For Cooking page for measurement conversions.

Candy Apples!


Method:
- Line a baking tray with a flat silicone sheet.

- Remove the stems of the apples and insert a wooden skewer into the stem end of each apple.

- In the top of a double boiler (a pot that fits over another pot that will have boiling water in it), combine the sugar, water, corn syrup,  and cinnamon stick - stirring until dissolved.

- Bring the syrup mixture to the boil on the hob (not on the double boiler, over boiling water), until it reaches the small crack stage on a candy thermometer (138 degrees C)

- Remove the cinnamon stick from the syrup and add 3-4 drops of red food colouring, stir-in using a wooden spoon.

- Now set the pot on the double boiler over boiling water.

- Working quickly, dip the apples in, one at a time and coat evenly with the syrup.

- Twirl the apple at the end so the extra syrup drips off. Don't coat them too thickly because once the apples set, it will be too difficult to eat them due to the thick layer of candy on them.

- Set each apple on the silicone liner and leave to set.

- They are best consumed within 24 hours. 

Happy Halloween!




Friday, 14 October 2011

Dingle Rocks!

Now that all the hoopla has died down about The Dingle Food Festival http://www.dinglefood.com/, I finally get a chance to sit and blog about it properly. I was tempted to wing up a load of photos and endless praise, but decided to give myself some some time before I did exactly that, perhaps with a little more thought behind what I am going to say. 



The idea of going to The Dingle Food Festival was back at the beginning of September when I was actually in Dingle at the time. I passed a large poster advertising the food festival declaring something along the lines of, 'A food festival, in Dingle, need I say more?' I thought that would be nice to go to, but really didn't think about it seriously until the IFBA http://www.irishfoodbloggers.com/ put up a mention on their site. Aoife from 'I Can Has Cook' http://icanhascook.wordpress.com/ had put out a call to food bloggers to head down to the food festival for the weekend and the rest as they say, is history.




What a weekend it was. Before I begin my ramblings of how great a time I had, I have to give a shout-out to Aoife at I Can Has Cook, to thank her for helping to arrange and organise a brilliant weekend for myself and fellow food bloggers. It was lovely to meet her and the other food bloggers. See Aoife's excellent blog about her experience in Dingle for the food festival here: http://icanhascook.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/dingle-invasion/



We (myself, my husband and daughter), arrived Friday mid-afternoon with our appetites in tow. Once settled into our B&B, we headed straight back out again to The Dingle Brewing Company where there was a showcase of local foods that were going to be available throughout the weekend at the various markets and along the taste trail. What a way to begin a festival. Surprisingly, there were plenty of gluten free options available. Between taking pictures, meeting new people and looking after my daughter I managed to fill-up on enough food to keep me satisfied until dinner.







Ahhh dinner... speaking of which, we headed to An Canteen https://www.facebook.com/pages/An-Canteen/255213173232 very early in the evening for what turned out to be an incredible feast. Hats off to the chef, Niall O'Conchuir. He cooks incredible food. I mean it's the type of cooking you wish you could produce from your kitchen everyday and he makes it look easy. The food is seasonal and local and because it is good food, it lends itself to being naturally gluten free. I walked in without calling in advance and I was able to fill-up on a most excellent gluten free feast. So delicious and I look forward to going back when I visit Dingle again.

We were up bright and early on Saturday morning.  My family and I had the great priviledge to be part of an ice cream masterclass with Kieran Murphy of Murphys Ice Cream http://www.murphysicecream.ie/ He made for us his Olive Oil Brownies, recipe for which can be found on his blog here: http://icecreamireland.com/2011/10/01/olive-oil-brownies/ (gluten free, yay!), amazing Extreme Hot Chocolate, which uses Carragheen seaweed to thicken the milk and of course he made ice cream. I was really interested to learn that he cooks using weight rather than volume, simply because I do the reverse. I prefer to cook and bake using volume. He finds that there is more of a 'consistency' in measurements when he is making ice cream using weights. I think I'll definitely take this on board when I get around at attempting my own homemade ice cream one day. It was an amazing masterclass and I was really happy to be part of it. My daughter was especially delighted, being 5 years old, her world revolves around ice cream (and she got to lick the spoon when he finished making the Olive Oil Brownies)!




Afterwards we headed off to the food markets and picked up loads of amazing food. I was especially delighted to see Foods of Athenry http://www.foodsofathenry.ie/ with their incredible range of gluten free foods for sale, The Cake Stand had their mouth watering macarons available http://www.thecakestand.ie/macarons.php and there were many other gluten free foods on display. Quite frankly, I was surprised and delighted to see so much variety of food available that was gluten free.






The rest of the day and all of Sunday was then spent on the food trail. You purchase a book of tokens which you then exchange for food in any shops/cafés/restaurants/hotels that were taking part throughout the town. Honestly, a food trail that includes barbecued kangaroo on a skewer, spit roast pig with fresh apple sauce, dessert wines and matching desserts, champagne sorbet with strawberries covered in dark chocolate, buckwheat crepes with caramel sauce or apple compote and so much more, is the perfect way to spend a weekend. I ate and ate and ate and ate and ate some more. What a festival.





















Of course The Dingle Food Festival was host to the Blas na hÉireann Food Awards http://www.irishfoodawards.com/. I was particularly delighted to see that Gookies https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gookies/110103285717377 won a bronze award for their Gluten Free Cranberry & White chocolate chip cookie dough, Pure Foods http://www.purefood.ie/ picked up a silver for their flourless brownies and The Cake Stand won a silver for their vanilla macarons. You can find the full listing of who won the awards here: http://www.irishfoodawards.com/about.asp?id=226






It was an incredible weekend. Really well put together and this festival will definitely warrant a return next year. I can't wait, I'm already getting withdrawal symptoms. It  all comes down to three words - I Love Dingle