Category: Food and drink

Afternoon tea – a necessary indulgence



Afternoon tea is my favourite meal.  I know that it might not be the healthiest meal but it trumps on the luxurious indulgence stakes.

I was delighted to be invited to the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown to celebrate the launch of their afternoon tea menu.  The simple thought of it had me up early in the morning and ready to travel.

Like any true afternoon tea addict it is always a complete experience, so I started with my outfit.  It had to be my Lindy Bop Tea dress.  Feeling pretty and bubbling with excitement I set off on my journey with fellow bloggers Sinead from Yummy Mummy and Dolores from Irish Health Hour.

The mood was set with lots of girly chats and laughs and we arrived in good spirits.

A Hotel with a Heart

Some people might say that a hotel is simply a hotel, but this hotel has heart.  What a beautiful warm welcome we received.  The staff were fantastic, friendly and efficient.

As we entered the room where the tea party was being held I just wanted to swirl and twirl in my party dress.  The attention to detail was second to none and my eyes kept jumping around to take in the detail, all of which built atmosphere and excitement.

Pimp my Prosecco

Before we sat down for tea we were offered a glass of prosecco, but not just any prosecco.  This cute primp my prosecco stand meant that we could add flavourings and fruit to our glass of sparkle. As delicious as it was, I wanted to watch my intake and the great staff immediately assisted by pimping sparkling water for me.

The perfect ingredients for afternoon tea for me are great company, excellent hot tea and lots of it and of course the foody goodies.  As we sat down at a perfectly decorated table with great little details like name plates and little flowers I glanced over at the fine china and knew I was in for a treat.

The cake stands were delivered and we all simply dived in.  The bottom layer of sandwiches was my first dive in.  The classic smoked salmon and brown soda, a yummy delicious chicken with apple wood smoked cheddar (so yummy that I was looking for a second one), fresh tasting egg mayonnaise and cucumber and finally a roast beef.  I was ok with missing out on the beef (as I don’t eat red meat), and was delighted to sit back and sip at my tea.

My number one tea party food is a good scone.  These scones served with jam and cream were fluffy and light inside with just the right amount of crisp. The addition of lemon drizzle cake and a fruity banana bread was just the right balance before reaching for the top tier!

The top-tier of any tea stand is pure indulgence and this was no different.  Creamy, dreamy coconut cake, delicious vanilla cheesecake, toffee Mille Feuillee and beautiful little custard tarts which are my mother’s favourite.  The big decision – to choose or simply have one of each.

There was a lot of delicious food and I enjoyed it.  It was great fun though and between lots of laughs as we experimented with Boomerang and dived into our goody bags. Time simply flew.

Just a small note at this stage on the goody bags.  They were fabulous with lots of treats for us bloggers to try.  I will be featuring many items on my Instagram (@DynamicKerry) and my blog in the weeks to come. We were gifted all sorts of goodies from a range of sponsors.  These included the Carlton Hotel, Ultra Pure Laboratories, Human + Kind, Dr Paw Paw, Ardell Lashes, Graham Anthony, Debenhams, Nude by Nature and from local retailers including Chopped, O’Breins Wines, and Westend Retail Park.

This was my kind of afternoon, and to be honest my perfect social occasion.  I will definitely be back!

We even finished off the afternoon with a gin cocktail!  Who could say no to that?

A hotel with a lot more to offer

Before the day ended we had a tour around the hotel and I added to my wish list.  Beautifully appointed rooms just invite you to sink into soft pillows and take a rest.

The fab business centre caught my eye.  Working from home I am often looking for somewhere to hold a meeting or simply work and write when I am out-of-town.  I will be working on a different blog post over on www.kerrymanning.net all about working on the go and will definitely be including the facilities at the Carlton Hotel in Blanchardstown.

The Carlton Hotel is conveniently located close to the fabulous Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and in easy reach of the airport.

Thank you for reading. Let me know if you indulge in afternoon tea at the Carlton Hotel Blanchardstown or wherever you live.  Remember tea and cake is best shared with friends.

Kerry xx

When you love cheese and are prepared to be adventurous …

I love cheese.  My partner calls me Wallace (from Wallace and Grommit) – as anything that has a bit of cheese added is tasty.

Dubliner Cheese 1

On a recent visit to my sister in Dubai I was invited to a ‘pot luck’.  This is an American concept where everyone brings a plate of food to share.  I was intrigued by this dish that looked like a dessert with a layer of jam, or jelly, over the top.  It was served with crackers and I was told it was a dip. (It is actually more like a spread)

I gingerly took a very small amount to be polite.  I came back for more and more until it was no longer polite.

I have since recreated this here in Ireland.  The first time people are hesitant.  When they visit again and see the dish on display there is no hesitation, just enjoyment.

With no further ado …

Bacon and cheese dip – with Jam!

  • Approximately 100 grams of bacon or pancetta – I use the pre-cut pack of pancetta.  Fry this really crisp so it almost crumbles.
  • Grate a small block of cheese – I used Dubliner cheddar cheese and did half and half with the vintage white cheddar and the standard red cheddar for colour and texture.
  • 4 spring onions or scallions chopped really fine
  • mayonnaise.
  • Half a jar of raspberry jam

Method:

  1. Fry off the bacon and shop until it is really small.
  2. Mix in the grated cheese and spring onion and add mayonnaise to create a stiff spread or paste.
  3. Pack down into a bowl and top with about 1cm of raspberry jam.
  4. Serve with simple crackers.

Dubliner Cheese 3I promise you this one you and everyone else has tried it – you will go back for more.

What I really love about this dip is every time I make it I think of my sister and the lovely friends I have made in Dubai.  I also love watching people enjoy it.

Dubliner 4

Thanks for reading, for cooking and for sharing!

Kerry x

p.s.  This isn’t a sponsored post but it is an entry into the #DublinerChallenge

When only tea and a biscuit will do – Bake it Easy review

 

bake it easy fabuliciousfifty

I am not quite sure how all the science behind tea works, but what I do know is that by this stage in my life I probably have more tea in my veins than blood.

I just love the stuff.  It is neither sweet nor savoury but this hot drink is what I reach for … well for almost any occasion.

I drink tea throughout the day at it simply makes me feel better.  It gives me a boost of energy (that would be the caffeine), but at the same time it relaxes me.  I think it might be the sitting down and taking 10 to 15  minutes to drink the tea that helps.

I also associate tea with friends.  Nothing quite like a sitting on the sofa with a pot of tea and a plate of biscuits and doing what woman do best – setting the world right with a cup of tea and a chat.

I love homemade biscuits but rarely get myself together to make them.  I was delighted to discover Bake it Easy on twitter one night.  (Yes, the world has changed to that degree that I find new things on twitter!)

Maria was kind enough to send me some samples to try.  The chocolate ones disappeared magically!

It is simply wonderful and every so slightly indulgent.  The jar of cookie mix can be ordered online and stashed in the grocery cupboard.  Tip out the mixture, add an egg and butter and randomly spoon out onto a baking sheet.  It is that easy.

Tea is now just a little bit more fabulous, the only problem is limiting yourself to two, or three.  They taste yummy with absolutely no artificial after taste.

bake it easy mixes blogI think I might just pop the oven on – I have a Bake it Easy smartie cookie mix in the cupboard and could quite happily down another cup of tea.

Thanks for reading!

Kerry

Infused fruit water and a post Easter cleanse

Fruit waterToday I am drinking a jug, or two of infused fruit water.

I had a lovely Easter Weekend, but I can honestly say that I ate too much.  Too much chocolate (is that such a thing?).  Too much dinner, and even for me too much to drink.

It is ok to treat yourself once in a while, but I do tend to pay the price with increased pain in my fibromyalgia spots, headaches and a general feeling of blah!  Not to mention bloating.

Today I am steadily working my way through 2 litres of infused fruit water.  My recipe uses a lemon (unwaxed), a good few slices of pineapple (great for arthritis and joint pain), a quarter cucumber (great for flushing out toxins) and a good few handfuls of mint.

There are loads of different recipes – I tend to play with how I am feeling and what I have in my fridge.  Have a look on Pinterest for some other ideas.

It is really easy simply chop and then top up the jug with filtered water if possible.   Try and let it infuse for at least an hour or even overnight.  I top up the jug and aim to drink two jugs – around 8 glasses throughout the day.

It is a good idea to do this on a day when you can stay close to home because you will be running (if you know what I mean?).

The one thing I can promise you is that you will feel better for it.  Your skin will glow a little and you might even loose a kilo!

Another reason for my regular return to fruit water is the medication I take.  Although we need medication for some things, it is a bit toxic and there is no harm in flushing your system now and again.

Fruit water was one of the first blog posts on my little blog and something I return to on a regular basis.

The day is almost done and I am already feeling better.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you take up a fruit water challenge.

Kerry x

Perfect Tomato Soup

 

Tomato SoupYummyLow CalHealthy (2)

A nice warm bowl of tomato soup is great on a cold winter night.

Tomatoes are one of my favourite foods.  I could eat tomatoes in any form every day and never get tired of them.

Thankfully they are really good for you and offer all sorts of health benefits.

This is a simple and quick recipe for a yummy creamy tomato soup with very few calories that is just perfect for a cold winter night.  I consider it a store cupboard staple as I almost always have all the ingredients in the house.

The recipe makes a good bit so you will have soup for lunches and even for the freezer.

 

Ingredients for tomato soup:

One red onion

2 sticks of celery

One large carrot

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tins of tomatoes

A little Italian seasoning (optional)

2 vegetable stock cubes

Water

 

Method:

Start by chopping up the onion, celery and carrot and soften in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Watch it carefully as you want the onion to go translucent, but not to brown.

Add a good dash of seasoning (if you prefer less spice add some oregano or marjoram).

Give it a good stir and then add 2 tins of tomatoes and 4 tins of water.  Add the vegetable stock cubes.

Turn it down low and leave it to simmer.  The longer the better as the flavours develop.  You know you are ready for the next stage when the carrots and celery and squishy.

(I have been known to whack it on high when I am in a hurry, but slower is better).

I blend my soup with a stick blender, but if you have a Vitamix or strong jug blender use that as it gets really smooth and creamy.  Let it cool for a little before blending as the last thing you want is splattered tomato soup all around the kitchen.

Reheat gently and serve.

I finished with a few drops of nutty pumpkin oil.

Thanks for reading and I hope you give the recipe a try.

 

Kerry x

 

Cream cheese mints – a little bit naughty, but very nice

 

Cream Cheese Mints

These gorgeous pink mints are easy enough to make with only  2 basic ingredients. I think they would make a lovely gift!

I chose to make them pink, because I love the colour and this batch is for my pink themed house warming party.

I think they would make a lovely after dinner mint, or even a gift if you are going visiting!

Ingredients:

Approximately 100 grams of cream cheese (I used half a pack of the soft cream cheese from Lidl)

3 Cups of sieved  icing sugar

1 teaspoon of peppermint essence

Food colouring if you choose – I used a few drops of red to make a nice soft pink colour.

Method:

Whip the cream cheese using an electric beater.  When it is soft add in the peppermint essence and food colouring.

Now start adding the sieved icing sugar a cup at a time.  You will find that the first cup is easy to mix in.  The second cup is a little harder, and the third cup is quite tough.  I landed up with a sandy texture that I thought would never mix.  It was time to get my hands in and bring it together into a soft dough.

Using a sheet of parchment dusted in icing sugar, roll the fondant into a sausage and chill in the fridge for an hour.

I have a beautiful set of vintage mini biscuit cutters which I used to cut out some cute shapes.  I also took the easy route an rolled little balls and simply pressed them with a fork.

Leave them out to dry overnight.  Turn them the following day and let them dry again.

They should keep well in an airtight container for a week  – if they last long enough.

I do try and eat well, but sometimes something a little bit naughty is nice.

Happy eating

Kerry x

Why I love Christmas

Why I love ChristmasChristmas is my favourite time of the year.  I start to get excited, sometimes even before Halloween.  Today I took a little time to reflect on why I love Christmas.

Tradition

Every Christmas my son and I build a gingerbread house.  We tend to do this on Christmas eve, and I have some really wonderful memories about houses falling down, crazy icing decorations and much laughter.  How the house comes together isn’t important, what is important is the special time I share with my son.

We also have a lovely tradition based on the french idea of 13 desserts.  Our interpretation is a plate with 13 different goodies – fruits, nuts, and sweets.  We replenish this each day both for visitors and for ourselves.  The ‘plate’ as it is called in our house is a key tradition also laced with memories, especially when the dog helped himself!

Family and friends and food

Christmas is also about taking time out.  Each family has it’s own way of celebrating this holiday.  For me it is about family and friends.  A simple Christmas dinner with family is always followed in my home with a fabulous tea party spent with friends.  There is so much delicious Christmas food to be eaten, that it simply cannot be eaten in one day.

I love Christmas food.  The sweet yummy stuff for sure ( I have secretly been eating mince pies since they came into the shops).  I also love the more savoury treats from a great roast turkey with fruity stuffing to blue cheese and crackers.

Sharing food with family and friends is just the perfect combination.

Giving Gifts

Gift giving has become synonamous with Christmas.  I love buying presents and really enjoy this part of Christmas.  I don’t spend a huge amount of money, but really enjoy seeking out special treats for special people.  Sitting on my bed on Christmas eve wrapping presents that might be silly but are thoughtful is a big part of Christmas for me.

This year I will be having an African Christmas and spending time with friends and family in South Africa.  Hope my Mom will be ok with the Christmas tea party!

Thanks for reading

Kerry x

 

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