Chicken Soup Noodle For What Ails You

Chicken Soup Noodle ©2014 La Domestique

It’s that time of year. As winter draws to an end and spring threatens to break through, everyone seems to be suffering from a cough or a sniffle. I made it all winter without getting sick, and then BAM! It hit me like a freight train: a full blown head cold. Miserable. You know how it goes– the first day I felt a bit off, a bit tired, and just couldn’t seem to get warm. Day 2 began with a scratchy throat and ended with the chills. After a fitful sleep I awoke on day 3 unable to breathe, my head completely blocked up and my nose running like a faucet. It was over, I surrendered, waving a white tissue to let the enemy know I had no fight left in me. The husband kindly banished me to the couch and built a roaring fire in the hearth, declaring me officially out of commission until further notice.

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Easy Flourless Chocolate Cake for Valentine’s Day

Flourless Chocolate Cake ©2014 LaDomestique

I love chocolate– the darker the better. I might even say I need chocolate. Every day around 4:00pm I start rifling through kitchen drawers looking for my hidden dark chocolate bar. One little bite is all I need. A good quality chocolate bar is a beautiful thing, but every once and a while I like to treat myself to a decadent piece of chocolate cake. For me it’s all about the chocolate– no need for whipped cream or berries or even frosting– just a moist, fudgey cake with rich, dark chocolate flavor. I remember one of the restaurants I worked at had a popular recipe for Flourless Chocolate Cake. It was baked from scratch when an order came in, filling the dining room with the most wonderful chocolate aroma. As the name says, this classic cake is made with chocolate, eggs, butter and sugar– no flour and therefore gluten free. It’s a simple cake, but I wanted to make it even simpler.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Hazelnuts, Thyme and a Pink Lady

Brussels Sprouts Salad ©2014 La Domestique

Happy New Year! I have a good feeling about 2014. The last year was one of change and transition as my husband and I moved from America to a small town in Ireland. This year holds so much promise! I’m eager to discover everything Ireland has to offer– the artisanal food producers, the natural wonders of Irish landscapes, the culture of the Irish people. I look forward to savoring each season fully and have plans to plant a garden. The theme in my kitchen for 2014 is:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

Hippocrates

I’m not a nutritionist, but more and more I’m beginning to understand that the food I eat has a direct effect on my health. In the beginning, food was only for pleasure. Now I believe food may have the power not just to promote health, but to heal. I’ll explore this idea here on La Domestique throughout the year with delicious recipes that celebrate the seasons and nourish the body.

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Grandma Bercher’s Cinnamon Rolls

Grandma Berchers Cinnamon Rolls ©2013 La Domestique

Cinnamon rolls are a Bercher family tradition. It all started with my great grandmother, Frances Bercher. Born Frances Schuster in Germany, she immigrated to America with her family in 1908 at 13 years of age. Eventually she married my great grandfather and settled along with other German immigrants in Arkansas, where most of our family still lives today. I never knew Grandma Bercher, but she was a legend in our family and in the town. She was famous for her cinnamon rolls, but even more famous for her welcoming, generous spirit. A devoted Catholic, she baked trays and trays of cinnamon rolls for parish functions. Sugar was rationed during the Depression before Word War II, but that didn’t stop her. She and Papa Bercher tended a vegetable garden in their yard and people would bring their sugar to trade for home grown produce so she could continue baking for the community.

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Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Sauce

Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Sauce ©2013 La Domestique

Hello there! It’s been a bit quiet here on La Domestique, but right now can find me over on Contemporary Living with a festive recipe for Duck Breasts with Pomegranate Sauce and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. It’s a quick seared duck breast paired with a tangy, sweet sauce spiced with Christmasy cinnamon and clove. For the full recipe pop on over to Contemporary Living.

I wish all my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving. It’s my first Thanksgiving in Ireland, and the husband and I are planning a relaxing weekend getaway. Feels strange not to have the turkey and all the trimmings, but I know the most important thing is to be thankful for all the blessings in my life. Thank you for reading La Domestique!

Barley Risotto with Irish Red Ale, Butternut Squash and Sage

Pearl Barley Risotto with Irish Ale, Butternut Squash and Sage (c)2013 La Domestique

It’s been one of those perfect autumn days here in Cavan. We had blue skies and golden sunshine, the wind felt fresh and crisp, and there were even a couple passing sun showers. As I write this now I gaze out the window and watch the sun slowly disappearing behind the hill. Our house looks out onto grassy fields and this is the time of day the cows come round. As I cook supper I like to look out my kitchen window and watch Herefords and Charlaois navigating the bushes looking for tasty bits of grass and basking in the sun. A stream winds its way around the field, and I can see magnificent grey herons gliding towards the water and meadow pipets darting in and out of the grass. I remember that not every home I’ve lived in had a kitchen window, and the thought of cooking in a dark box with harsh florescent light makes me appreciate my view of nature even more. There are times when I wish I lived in Dublin, where it’s all happening, but this is not one of those times. Right now I’m happy to be just where I am, in the rolling hills and the land of the lakes that is Cavan.

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Autumn Mushroom Soup with Thyme and Brandy

Autumn Mushroom Soup (c)2013 La Domestique

Autumn is my favorite time of year. This is my first Irish autumn, and the change in country makes the season even more interesting. It’s not the fall that I grew up with in Arkansas, which was marked by warm golden-hued days with dramatic red, orange and yellow changes in foliage. Nor is it the Colorado harvest season with fields full of pumpkins, bugling elk and blazing yellow aspen trees. Each day I discover something new about an Irish autumn: it is moody and mysterious, soft and subtle, a slowing of pace that sends us back into our nests. A week of cool, dark, misty days is interrupted by a couple of breezy, sunny afternoons– perfect for opening all the windows to let in the cherished light and fresh air. The blackberry bushes have withered, but windfalls of apples arrive just in time. It’s not too difficult to find a friend with an apple tree who needs to offload a bumper harvest of the quickly deteriorating fruits. I’m eager to taste my first quince, slurp down briny oysters and (hopefully) forage for mushrooms.

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How -To Prepare Whole Squid

Moorish Roast Squid with Smoky Tomatoes and Saffron Couscous (c)2013 La Domestique

 

It was a cold and drizzly Irish morning at the Cavan Farmers Market. Making my usual rounds I took a mental note of everything on offer– must get a couple of éclairs from The Mason’s Apron to bring home for breakfast, don’t forget to grab some eggs, the kale is looking good today—I saw the fishmonger was showing the fresh catch to another customer and something unusual caught my eye. I had never seen a whole squid, but there they were, a pile of ink-stained bodies and tangled tentacles. I had bought squid many times in the American grocery store, Whole Foods, but they were already cleaned and portioned. I was used to seeing neat rows of wingless calamari bodies, all exactly the same size, displayed over a mountain of pristine crushed ice. It was all so sterile, those neatly organized remnants of such weird and wonderful creatures.

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The Last of the Summer Wine

View Out My Irish Window (c)2013 La Domestique

The weather has turned cooler and a bit blustery here in Cavan. We’re coming up on my favorite time of year: autumn. I can feel a change in the quality of the light, more golden and soft. My focus has shifted inward, away from long summer drives and tending to my little herb garden. Instead I’m examining my nest, stocking up on home decor magazines and tidying up around the house. The nesting urge is stronger this year than it has been in a long time. Not knowing what to expect from an Irish fall and winter, I prepare myself for the darkness that will come and the damp chill I’ve been told will settle in. It all sounds so dismal, but I love bad weather — taking shelter in my warm, cozy home with a cuppa tea and a good book.

For now I’m enjoying the last of the summer wine. I’ve been greedily grabbing as many tomatoes as I can from the vegetable lady at my local farmers market in Cavan. It’s important to be first in line at the market, because the tomatoes go fast. I try to leave a few tomatoes for the other customers, but it’s hard to resist the lumpy heirlooms and rich plum tomatoes. I carefully carry several pounds home and my kitchen is filled with the musky aroma only a sun-ripened, garden-fresh tomato gives off.

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The Taste of Cavan, Ireland

I’m feeling very lucky at the moment. When we moved to Cavan Town (population 5,600) I expected lots of rolling hills and sheep. I didn’t expect to find a passionate community of artisanal food producers and chefs in the greater County Cavan (population 52,900). Recently the people of County Cavan came together for the second annual Taste of Cavan event to showcase artisanal foods and talented chefs. Over two full days butchers sold sausages, bakers touted pies and Irish soda bread, cheesemakers brought their wheels, ice creameries scooped cones, jam makers sold preserves and a chocolatier traded her confections. Local chefs and celebrity chefs gave cooking demos. The Irish Countrywomen’s Association held a summer berry pie competition, Corleggy Cheese featured their Caven-bert, and the iconic 99 made it’s debut in adorable cupcake form. For me, the highlight of the weekend was meeting Clodagh McKenna, someone I’ve admired since I first saw her show, Clodagh’s Trails, on public television in America. Clodagh is an entrepreneur, a cookbook author, restauranteur, and Irish foods advocate. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and I love that Darina Allen dubbed her, “The woman who makes things happen.” I heartily suggest all my American friends check out her cookbooks, Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries and Homemade: Irresistible Homemade Recipes for Every Occasion.

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