Monday
May162016

Sláinte Coconut, lime, Pineapple & Rum Cooler

Summer needs long cool drinks - especially when the weather is hot and sticky, and the journey home from work is humid and yucky - the scent of BBQ and an iced drink in hand, suddenly makes the world feel like a big better place.

This Lime and Coconut Rum from Marks and Spencer is a brilliant base for a long cool drink that couldn't be quicker or easier.

Squeeze four limes into the bottom of a large jug, pack full of ice - pour over 2 cups of this rum to 3 cups of pineapple juice, stir and serve.

Now what could possibly be nicer after work than sitting in the garden chatting with a drink like this as the BBQ smokes.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle  = Life Remarkable

Sunday
May152016

BBQ season begins 2016 with Marks and Spencer - Spirit of Summer

 Summer has finally come to Ireland.  Temperatures have started to rise, rain has been banished and BBQ's have been dusted off and lit.  Hazey skies are filled with sweet smoke and scents of grilling meat.  There is nothing like it.  I would BBQ 365 days a year, it is without doubt my favourite way to cook.  Social, enjoying - outside and relaxing.  If you are new to BBQs or want to brush up on your skills check out my Top Ten BBQ tips - refined and developed in nearly 30 years at the grill.

Marks and Spencer Spirit of Summer range is full of the delicious flavours of the American Southern States - BBQ capitals  - and the South Americas.  The product developers have travelled widely and created a range that is delicious.  Our favourites include the Jamaican spatchcocked chicken which had a pimento chilli and Rum rich spice rub/marinade.  The meat was succulent and well flavoured.

We always serve slices of grilled pineapple at a BBQ.  Not only is it delicious there are health benefits too - the pineapples enezymes breakdown the fatty tissues of meat making it easier to digest. 

 

 The Louisian BBQ Spatchies came with a tangly BBQ sauce that when grilled caramelised and enriched the flavour of the tender chicken.

Marks and Spencer understand BBQ and the need for things to be spatchcocked for easy grilling.

 Always keep an orderly grill - don't just whack everything on in a haphazard method - check out my top ten BBQ tips for more BBQ essentials

 Boys love BBQing - men and fire, it goes the whole way back to ancient prehistoric times ...

 

 

 Eating outside is simply glorious and relaxed.  We aim for chillaxed atmosphere's which creates its own genuine form of perfection.  There is no striving to get everything right.  Marks and Spencer have taken all the hard work out of the cooking - and while I love preparing meat etc for the BBQ from scratch my increasingly busy lifestyle means I have a choice to make.  Be chained to the stove cooking from scratch or enjoy my downtime with the fabulous Spirit of Summer BBQ Range from Marks and Spencer, that allows me to actually chillax, rather than simply create the atmosphere for everyone else.

 Jumping off walls is the perfect way to wait for food to cook.

 Chicken skewers with lemon and bay have a fresh zesty filled sweet taste.

 Smokehouse Pork Links - are a German style sausage, they have a firm texture and a rich flavour.

We cook down several finely sliced onions in a smoke encrusted BBQ frying pan, to create sticky fried onions that are a superb match for the Marks and Spencer Vension Burgers.

 

 Condiments are an essential part of BBQ and this year as always, Marks and Spencer have it covered.  We particularly loved their Amarillo Ranch Chilli - perfect for dipping sausages into.

 

 Waiting for the BBQ to be ready and the food to be cooked is hard work - it calls for a refreshing long cool drink  - try this pineapple and coconut Rum Punch - or Strawberry Margaritas.

I serve big bowls of crisps - like these Marks and Spencer Tennessee Smoked Rib Chips and these Cajun Spiced Plantain Chips, with some Pineapple and Mint salsa, which is also excellent with BBQ'd lamb.

 

 Set up a build your own burger bar - 

Sliced  Baps

Slices of cheese

Little Gem Lettuce Leaves

Sauces

Gerkins

Then add the cooked patties of meat and let folk build their own burgers - Marks and Spencer have a superb range from Salmon to Vension - SteakCheese to Chorizo - there are lots of burgers to chose from.

Pulled pork Burger with salted cured cucumber.

 

 

 Apple Glazed pork rib rack - delicious served with or without its sauce.

 You haven't lived until you have had BBQ'd Halloumi - the chillioumi skewers from Marks and Spencer are a sure fire winner.

Butternut squash sausages - with sweet smoked onions - does it get any better for Veggies at a BBQ - I think not.  Marks and Spencer have it covered. 

After all that meat there is nothing better than a BBQ'D Smoree.  We made ours using Marks and Spencer chilli chocolate cookies and Peanut Cookies, with bbq'd marshmallows skished inside.

 

 

Skewer marshmallows then slowly cook them on the edge of the BBQ on a sheet of tin foil brushed with oil.  

 

 

After all that food in Ireland we always need a cup of tea and a wee bun - these sweet treats from Marks and Spencer, including Lime toffee popcorn are absolutely delicious and a simple elegant way to end the meat feast that is a BBQ.

BBQ is the spirit of summer - I hope you catch the zeitgeist.

Happy BBQing folks - hope you have a summer filled with long lazy hot days, grilled meat and hanging out with family and friends.

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Sunday
May152016

Sláinte Strawberry Margarita

Margaritas are my drink of choice - to serve and to sip.


Last year I discovered a fresh pure brand of tequila called Cazcabel and recently got my hands on a bottle of their honey tequlia.

Smokey and sweet with a dry earthy heart, this tequila is delicious neat over lots of ice, with a quick squeeze of lime.

Honey and strawberries are a beautiful mix. The spikey fresh strawberries with their crisp flavour are mellowed with hints of honey.  Using Cazcabel Honey Tequila as the base for these strawberry margaritas meant that I didn't need to add sugar syrup (which all too often kills a margarita in its tracks, I really dislike overly sweet sugary fruit concoctions masquerading as cocktails).

Two cups of new season Irish strawberries in stalks removed mascerated in two cups of Cazcabel honey tequlia for two hours, to really infuse the flavours together.

Where then blended them with ice, 1/2 cup of grand marnier and 1/8 cup of orange juice and the juice of two limes.

Served with a wedge of lime these are great drinks for a summer's afternoon, drinks on the dock, or twilight.

Strawberry Margarita Recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups  Cazcabel Honey Tequila 
  • 2 Cups hulled strawberries
  • 1 Cup Triple Sec
  • 3 Cups Ice
  • 1/4 Cup freshly squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup freshly squeeezed orange Juice
  • 4-6 lime wedges one for each glass

Method 

  1. Mix strawberries and honey tequlia - leave to infuse in a covered bowl for up to 24 hours - you can skip this step altogether and get straight to making margaritas if you wish

Regular

  1. Combine tequila, triple sec, lime and ice in a large jug stir until blended
  2. Serve margarita glasses with a wedge of lime

Frozen

  1. To make frozen margarita's combine tequila, triple sec, lime and ice with 1/4 teaspoon of salt in a blender, mix on high until smoothie consistency is achieved, serve ice cold alternatively this can be frozen in the freezer in a sealed container, to serve simply blitz in the blender
  2. Enjoy with friends

 

How do you like your Strawberry Margarita?

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Saturday
May072016

Puddings waiting for a Party


Saturday
Apr232016

Challah Bread 


 

Shabbat Shalom my friends.  As Passover has just started I wanted to share with you my recipe for Challah Bread which is a traditional Jewish sweet white bread.  

Challah Bread 

Ingredients

2 large free range eggs

2 large free range egg yolks, white saved to brush over the bread prior to cooking

1/4 cup rapeseed oil I used Broighter Gold

2 instant yeast

1 cup lukewarm water

4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons salt

 

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the yeast
  2. While it is dissolving mix the dry ingredients, add the yeast and lukewarm water 
  3. Mix to form a rough dough that is shaggy and hard to mix
  4. Knead for up to 9 minutes - 12 by hand - until smooth and it holds a ball shape
  5. Place in an oiled bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, divide into three balls
  6. Roll each ball into a sausage sized rope about 12’’ long
  7. Braid the dough, start by gathering the ropes and squeeze at the top, then plait
  8. Brush with egg yolks, leave to raise again about 30 minutes,  then brush with the reserved egg white mixed with a dash of honey and water, brush the entire loaf, then bake at 200’c
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes turning your baking sheet 1/2 way through the cooking. The Challah is done when it is a rich glossy brown colour.
  10. Slice when barely warm and serve with soup
  11. The next day make French Toast with the bread or  eat as toast with jam or honey.

 

That's it for now ...

 

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Friday
Apr222016

unite

The shadows were lengthening.  Light in pale indigo and the truest violet stripped the sky with rose and pink.  Dust was moving toward twilight and she was heading towards home.  Everywhere she looked the sky was filled with colour.  Without realising it she was turning herself around and around, arms open wide to the horizons on all sides. Head thrown back, her face to the sky, she felt the relief of her breath.

Peace rose up inside her spiralling through her core.  She smiled, sat on a rock somewhat dizzy from the spinning and ran her hairs through her curls.  The air was warming and the coming night scented with gorse blossoms.  Tiny buds pushed out of bare branches.  Everywhere life was breathing.

The deadness of winter had passed.

Taking the now rumpled letter out of her pocket she brought it to her nose and sniffed.  It bore no smell.  Just ink on pale blue flimsy airmail paper.   United States paper lined with words that had travelled oceans to be smudged with her tears.

Smiling and sighing both at once, she realised darkness had fallen and only in the far distance was there a glimmer of burnt orange hanging lower and lower in the sky, over the rolling river.

 

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On days like today when the world loses another soul who will never sing again, I come to share for five minutes some words, united with others who also write from their corners of the planet,  I hope you will join us.

That’s it for now ...

 

Nics

Salt and Sparkle = Life Remarkable

Monday
Apr182016

Great Tequlia - Cazcabel

Monday's done now.

Well done folks, you made it through.

even if you did think a lot about the weekend being too short and work ticking along too slowly.

Tomorrow is Tuesday, you can power through that to do list.

And maybe just maybe you'll make margaritas.

Cazcabel is a tequlia the Salt and Sparkle team are loving right now - go get some, because a margarita always brightens up an otherwise regular Tuesday.

 

That's it for now ...

Nics

Salt & Sparkle = Life Remarkable