Category Archives: Food & Drink

All That Happened The Day We Opened A Deli By Mistake

On May 12th, 2017, Ass Monkey and I accidentally opened up a delicatessen.

I mean, we had planned to do it, we’d talked and dreamed about it for years. But were we really prepared to open a deli for the first time?

Were we fuck.

At 7am on that Friday morning, we opened the doors and had NO IDEA what was to come.

People queued up and down Rush Main Street for breakfasts, lunches, coffees and cake and we hadn’t entirely anticipated their arrival.

By 8am we had to ask Hulda, the Head Barista from Two Spots Coffee to jump in and give us a hand – she ended up staying for three whole hours. (Thanks Hulda, we love you)

Then we ran out of bread. I mean, our main service is to make effing sandwiches and we ran out of bread!

By lunchtime, we ran out of cake. CAKE! FFS!

Our little deli had been so sorely needed in our hometown for years that almost everyone who lives there came down for a look and to support – we were happy to see them, of course, but we had serious trouble feeding them fast enough!

That first month was crazy and we learned a lot on the fly – how to properly run a food and coffee house, how to develop the brand and menu, listening to our customers’ s requests and adjusting accordingly, figuring out our staff and stock levels..

..it has been one HELL of a journey so far.

I would say that opening a new business isn’t unlike having a newborn – you are like a deer caught in the headlights for the first couple of months, trying to incorporate this new energy into your life and settling on a rhythm and routine that works for you and the rest of your family.

There may also have been a few sleepless nights of worry – the usual!

There are some great Opening Weekend pics coming through! ✨ Keep on sending them through to us x

A post shared by Skinny Batch (@skinnybatchdeli) on

We can now breathe a bit, knowing that we’ve survived the tough part – from here on out it’s just making sure that our little place continues to serve the community of Rush and beyond to the best of our abilities.

And to churn out cake. Lots and lots of cake ;o)

(Check out our website here and come say Hi some day! x)

 

 

The Vegetarian’s Wife: How I Accidentally Gave Up Meat (ish)

One morning late last August, I came downstairs to find my husband standing in the kitchen who uttered the words no woman wants to hear:

“I am becoming a Vegetarian”.

To say I was shocked is a bit of an understatement. Ass Monkey is a Meat Man.

Tales of his BBQs are whispered in snugs around North County Dublin; his pulled pork sandwich creations have been known to end long-standing family feuds and his Xmas glazed ham.. well, let’s just say it’s 84% the reason I married him.

But as a lover of documentaries, Ass Monkey had watched one on Netflix the previous evening which outlined all of the reasons why meat consumption is not only a huge strain on our global resources, but also endlessly cruel to – as he put it himself – “the poor animals”.

I sort of thought it might be a phase. He was shocked by what he’d seen but would forget about it and would slip back to his glorious Lamp Chops served with honey mustard glaze ways, wouldn’t he?

Our wedding was coming up and I despaired, “What are you going to EAT, though?!” and his reply was calm and assured, “They better have amazing vegetarian food or there’ll be trouble”.

And Ballymagarvey Village DID have amazing vegetarian food and there was no trouble.. aside from when I started drinking shots at the bar..

Let’s move on.

On honeymoon in Edinburgh, we mostly ate at great Vegetarian restaurants. I figured it would be easier for both of us to eat well at a dedicated vegetarian restaurant than have one of us eat badly at a regular restaurant. And to be fair, it was all very nice. Actually, I mostly drank through those few days so it was all VERRRY nice!

He cooked the Xmas turkey and ham.. but says 2016 is the very last time he’ll ever do it. This could be grounds for an annulment.

Because I don’t cook – no, really, not a single thing, I’m just so shit at it – most of what I have consumed at home has been strictly vegetarian.

There was a spell there where my dad would take a trip to his farmhouse in Roscommon and arrive home with sirloin steak that he would slip into my hand when Alan wasn’t looking. He’d make a great prison guard, my ole lad, and they were the most delicious contraband I have ever tasted.

But as I have eaten less and less meat, I find that my desire to eat it has also lessened. I haven’t seen the documentary that Ass Monkey watched but I see in my husband that there is something very important here in what he is doing.

He wants to reduce our carbon footprint in the world, he wants to save the animals who are reared for the butchers shop from a life of cruelty, and he wants to live a healthier lifestyle too.

At this moment in time, there isn’t a scrap of meat in our fridge or freezer. We have quorn this and that and are horsing eggs into us like our (protein) lives depended on it.

Sorry, I said ‘horsing’. My bad.

Do I miss it? I do. Did I have a sneaky McChicken sandwich on Saturday afternoon when I had a bit of a hangover? I did.

Am I proud of myself? Not really. Just don’t tell Ass Monkey, ‘k?

Why ‘Damp January’ Is The Only Way To Start The Year

At the end of 2016 I found out I was allergic to Prosecco.

I’ll just say that again for emphasis – I AM ALLERGIC TO PROSECCO.

I mean, of all the delicious, versatile, refreshing, goes-with-everything, everyone-offers-it-to-you-at-every-event-or-celebration-there-is, I had to go and be allergic to this one.

Part of trying to get a handle on why my skin was flaring up so much with psoriasis and hives led  me to a wonderful homeopath in Clontarf called Joy Lennon.

She allergy tested me for lots of different foods that I might be allergic to – some I already knew about, some foods that I had been avoiding I was surprised to hear wasn’t allergic to at all! But the major blow to my then almost-bride-to-be buzz was that I needed to stay away from Prosecco.

Joy obviously recognised a crest-fallen, prosecco-soaked woman when she saw one.

‘But you can drink vodka?’ she suggested. ‘Or gin?’

Gin and I had a relationship fraught with gay clubs oil dawn and day-after depression when I worked in New York and I haven’t touched a drop since. Vodka, though? Vodka, I could get down with.

I bought myself a nice bottle of Absolut on the way home from Tenerife recently and in all the talk of ‘Dry January’ that Ass Monkey (and the rest of the planet) has been going on with, I felt it only true and just that I come clear about my own commitment to the cause: I haven’t had a Dry January at all, but more of a Damp one.

I felt that bottle of Absolut deserved my attention.

I felt as though my Prosecco detox (going on 2 months now) deserves a (alcoholic) softening to the blow.

I feel as though January is a bell-end and what with all the grown-up stuff that I have committed to doing this year (I’m looking at YOU, attic floor of paperwork), I just think I am responsible enough for now, thank you.

So I’ve had a little ‘Reward Vodka’ every weekend in January – after we have the kids in bed on a Friday night, I pour myself a l’il tipple and I sip away, ignoring Ass ‘Smug As A Dry January Convert Can Be’ Monkey’s sideways glances.

Anyway, January is over now and with that will come The Piss Up Of The Century this weekend as hundreds of thousands of good Dry January-ers fill their Lidl trollies with bucket-loads of delicious cheap wine, and vow to never, ever give up drinking again.

And to that, I say Cheers.

Hic.

**DRINK RESPONSIBLY. That is all**

 

 

 

Xmas Grub – The Tastiest Xmas Cake Recipe Of All Time

We are way behind on Xmas. Like, waaaaay behind. We got back from honeymoon at the end of the week last week and I popped on Facebook to see a friend posting a pic of her kid with the caption ’10 More Sleeps!’

To what? I thought and then it hit me – WE FORGOT ABOUT CHRISTMAS.

Between catching up on WTF is going on with the school plays, WTF the kids really want from Santa, WhoTF is coming for dinner on Xmas Day, HTF the laundry is so out of control (I think it was riding and multiplying while we were away) and WhyTF didn’t we just leg it with the kids to the nearest Canary Island.. we are chasing our tails ALMOST as much as we were before the damn wedding.

And even though there are no presents wrapped (even though there are plenty of no presents BOUGHT tbh)- I still had to prioritise and get the Xmas Cake into the oven.

I have an old Odlums recipe book belonging to my mum that gets whipped out every year for a really old school, but delicious, and easy-to-make recipe.

Here’s how:

Mix 16oz mixed fruit (you can get a ready-mixed bag of raisins, currants and sultanas in your local supermarket) with 1/4 glass whiskey overnight
Cream 8oz (half a block) of butter with 8oz brown sugar until light in colour
Add six eggs, one at a time until they are well beaten into the mixture
Sieve 12oz cream flour and fold in
Add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice and a pinch of nutmeg – mix well
Grate the rind of one lemon and extract the juice
Add lemon rind, juice and 1/4 teaspoon almond essence to the mix
(All of the above can be done with an electric mixer, and then I would switch to hand mixing for the next few steps!)
Add whiskey-soaked fruit, 3oz mixed peel and 3oz chopped cherries (also can be bought in your local supermarket)
Chuck in another 1/4 glass of whiskey for good measure!

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How to line the cake tin:

Set a 9-inch round tin on a sheet of baking paper and trace the shape of the tin on the paper with a pen.
Cut two circles from the baking paper to match the size of the tin; and a further small hole in the middle of one sheet (this is for the top of the cake)
Grease the inside of the tin with butter or oil and place one circular sheet at the bottom
Cut two rectangular pieces of baking paper and run them around the sides of the tin. They may need a little tape in the middle to keep them together, alternatively you can use string to hold it all in place.

Waiting is THE WORST

Waiting is THE WORST

Pour the cake mixture inside, spreading out the top evenly with the back of a spoon
Chopped almonds can be sprinkled on top if you wish
Place the second circular sheet of baking paper on top – the idea of the small hole in the centre is that your cake is being kept moist in baking without burning the top
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150C for approximately two hours, or until a skewer put in the middle comes out clean
When baked, cool on a wire rack until cold.
Keep wrapped in baking sheets and tin foil and it will keep for up to two weeks. Make sure to pop a few holes in the top and ‘feed’ it with the odd capful of whiskey from time to time!

[This article first appeared on fab parenting website HerFamily.ie]

We’d love you to share your Xmas cake decorating pics with us so why not post them to our Facebook page and see what happens!

**Stuck for last-minute Xmas gift ideas? We are still sending out Xmas vouchers for Mum’s Box until the end of the week. Just €55 signs your intended gift recipient for a 3-month subscription in 2017..wouldn’t that be nice?! Just click on the pic below for more info!**

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An Idiot’s Guide To Growing Your Own Pumpkins At Home

“What the fuck am I supposed to do with those?” says I as my dad dropped three flower pots at my front door with what appeared to be a living thing growing inside.

“Pumpkins” says he. “They’ll be ready for Hallowe’en”.

We had literally just moved back into our house after building the extension and I was surrounded by a garden full of rubble, unpainted walls and layers of dust so thick we could all (and did) write our names in it.

In hindsight, the three little green pumpkin stalks sticking their heads above the flower pots were a welcome bit of greenery in an otherwise dull grey building site.

We let the stalks grow a little stronger for a few weeks before transplanting them into a veggie patch that Ass Monkey hastily threw together as I wailed, “The pumpkin babies! They’ll die if we don’t put them into the feckin’ ground!!”

And then we waited and observed…

Lo and behold, it’s Hallowe’en week and we just harvested FOUR mighty pumpkins from those brave little stalks.

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Here’s what I’ve learned about being an unwitting pumpkin farmer:

  1. The growth rate is unreal. One day you have a small stalk, the next, they are trying to climb into your wheelie bins. I was calling the patch ‘The Little Shop Of Horrors’ at one point.
  2. The kids LOVE watching them grow. It was literally our go-to ‘job’ every morning and when anyone came to visit, bringing them to see The Pumpkin Patch was all they wanted to do. The pride!
  3. I know nothing about growing pumpkins: I watched a YouTube video for an hour about how to REALLY grow pumpkins – hay and mulch and greenhouses and all sorts of crazy stuff were required. Me? I chucked them in the ground on a wing and a prayer (and on my dad’s orders) – they seemed to do alright.
  4. Not every bulb turns into a pumpkin. At one point we thought we were going to have about 20 pumpkins because there were so many bulbs growing on the vines. What I’ve learned is that they often end up feeding the main pumpkins and so disappear after a while.
  5. They’re ready when they’re ready. I was worried there for a bit that I was leaving them in the ground for too long and wouldn’t cut them at the right time. As it happens, we cut them today and the biggest one had actually already removed itself from the vine so it was ready to rock and roll.
  6. There are so many pumpkin recipes to try out! From pies to soups and now butter! Great recipe over at Fraulein.Umlaut that you must check out.

Happy Hallowe’en!

Like talking food and stuff? Try this;

Recipe: chorizo, chicken & chickpea casserole

Recipe: chorizo, chicken & chickpea casserole

Sometimes, I have to make the dinner in our house although mostly, I am The Baker & Ass Monkey is The Chef. He’s SO good at it, that whenever he delivers one of his amazing lunches or Xmas hams, my family take turns threatening me that they will in fact disown me if I ever break up with him. And I believe them – the man has a flair.

I, however, do not. I do not have the same connection to cooking savory foods that I have to making and baking things that are laden with chocolate and sugar. In fact, I’ve actually been known to burn soup. BUT! I have been trying a lot more in recent months to make some positive changes – partly because I’m mortified at my shortcomings, and mostly because I have a growing family to feed. The days of calling a Chipstix ‘n’ cheese bread bread roll and a bottle of wine ‘dinner’ are over. OH-VAH.

So here’s a nice easy and quick recipe, that even a dinner-making-challenged wotsit like me can handle. Enjoy! x

IMG_31731. Brown 3/4 x medium-sized chicken breasts in the frying pan with a bit of cooking oil chucked in. When they are done, pop them in a dish into a warm oven until you need them again.

2. In the same frying pan, cook 1 x chopped onion, 1 x garlic clove & 2 x chopped carrots for 5 mins.

3. Add 1 x tin of chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 mins, then add 200ml chicken stock and bring to the boil again.IMG_3174

4. Separately, fry some copped chorizo in oil until it is crispy (about half a packet – I love it but too much gives me the dreaded heartburn!)

5. Now add the cooked chicken, chorizo and 1 x tin of rinsed chickpeas to the veggie and stock mix.  Simmer for 20-25 mins.

IMG_31766. Eat!! It’s really nice with some toasted bread & butter.

RECIPE: Homemade Pizza

I hate buying frozen pizzas. I don’t even like ordering pizza in. I don’t know what it is, perhaps something to do with my being Italian in a former life. Well, I do gesticulate wildly when I speak, do I not?

As you know, I have zero time for the likes of waiting for dough to rise, so I love that yeast-free dough is A) better for your bum and B) requires no rising time. Recipe below!

Dough:

  225g self-raising flour | 1/2 teaspoon salt | 60g butter | 150ml milk


  1. IMG_2202Preheat the oven to 190 C / Gas 5.
  2. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour the milk into the bowl and mix to a soft dough.
  3. Knead the dough and roll out into a large circle about 1cm thick. Place on oiled/buttered baking tray.

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Toppings:

Well, you can obviously add whatever toppings you like! I went for passata tomato sauce for the base, followed by as much mozzarella cheese as I could squeeze on; chopped ham, tomatoes, mushrooms and lashed some dried oregano on top.

Bung in the oven for about 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and shove in mouth – enjoy!!

 

Recipe: Easiest Ever Flapjacks

Here’s a really simple and delicious flapjack recipe that I turn to regularly. I often add different flavours to the mix for a bit of variety – lemon or orange zest, a teaspoon of cinnamon or dried fruit all work brilliantly.

flapjacks265g porridge oats

150g soft brown sugar

165g unsalted butter

1 tbsp golden syrup

Line an 8 x 10” baking tray with greaseproof paper and pre-heat the oven to fan 180C. Tip the porridge oats into a bowl. Melt the sugar, butter and golden syrup over a low heat until combined, then tip into the oats and mix well. Press the mixture into the tin and bake for 15 minutes until golden on top. The flapjacks will be very soft at first but don’t worry – they firm up as they cool down.

Recipe: Easy Lemon & Vanilla Shortbread

I like doing a little bakey-bakey with Jacob. Especially if we’ve been up since 7am, have gone through having breakfast & putting everything away and he’s gotten so bored with his Thomas The Tank Engine track that he’s started to deliberately shove Thomas off the railway bridges and saying ‘Oh no…’ in a really unconvincing way.

Last week, we made shortbread for the first time. It would have been the usual cupcakes scenario that I know Jacob has the adequate attention span for, but we hadn’t one single solitary egg in the house. We delved into our recipe books and Jacob pointed out ‘That one!’ to the shortbread page. Thankfully, no eggs, and as I usually like, shag-all effort needed! BOOM!

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Mix 4oz plain flour, a pinch of salt and 2oz castor sugar in a bowl. Takes all of 10 seconds.

Split 1 x vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the vanilla seeds. This usually wrecks my head – I find if you squeeze it on both sides between your fingers, it makes it a little ‘fatter’ and easier to split open with a sharp knife. Chuck in the seeds along with the grated rind of 1 x lemon.

Chop 4oz butter into small pieces into the bowl and get your hands in there until the mixture resembles a soft dough. (I usually give Jacob a tiny bit in a separate small bowl so that he can ‘help’. It’s REALLY HELPFUL when it ends up in his or Pearl’s hair… but it is fun for him, so no matter!).IMG_2176

Press the dough into the tin of your choice – I used the back of a dessert spoon to flatten it down. Press a fork around all the edges to give it a little fancy design (much like our grannies used to do on the edges of apple tarts!)

With a sharp knife, mark the dough out into the pieces/shapes that you would like to have in the end, and prick it all over with the tip of a fork. Lightly is best, so probably don’t let your two year old get involved on this one ;o)

Bake in a preheated oven on 150 degrees celsius for 45-50 mins. Cool it in the tin for a few mins, sprinkle with a little more castor sugar. After another couple of mins, cut out the portions and leave it on a wire rack to cool completely.

The smell of sugar and lemon in the kitchen was deeeelicious, and Jacob and I really enjoyed scoffing them after lunch! Furthermore, Thomas lived to see another day….