Afternoon Tea in Ariel House on Like Mam Used to Bake

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Image courtesy of Ariel House/Paula Ryan Photography

I think that afternoon tea in Ariel House is fast becoming one of Dublin’s worst kept secrets. I have been recommending it to everyone in real life, and on Twitter, as have many others. So I decided that it was about time that I shared the secret with you lovely blog readers too. Nestled beside Lansdowne Road, or the Aviva Stadium as it is now known, Ariel House is a charming hotel within a beautiful Victorian house. Actually the hotel comprises of two houses which have been seamlessly joined together. As you ascend the steps to the house you can’t help but feel a little ‘Lady/Lord of the Manor’, or maybe that’s just me. Once inside the welcome begins, with smiles from everyone you meet, and on a cold day from the open fire in the beautifully appointed drawing-room. Time to sit back and enjoy the luxury of the properties original Victorian features, and carefully chosen antique furniture and accessories.

Afternoon tea is served in the dining room, overlooking the hotel’s garden. Tables are set with the most beautiful vintage style china in delicate floral designs, crisp white linens, and the day’s menu is handwritten on ‘fancy’ paper. Were you a fancy paper nut collector as a child too? I digress. Tea flows from the moment you sit down, and your cup will regularly be topped up. On a recent visit the sun was particularly warm so we thoroughly enjoyed a thirst quenching homemade lemonade too.

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Image courtesy of Ariel House/Paula Ryan Photography

The savoury and sweet offerings in Ariel House are traditional, but with a modern twist. The menu changes regularly so that each time I have visited I have enjoyed a varied selection. A favourite from my last visit was the cucumber sandwich, served on a tomato bread and with just a hint of chilli. The selection of cakes are so abundant that my favourite seems to be whichever one I happen to be eating at any given moment. I have never left feeling anything but fit to burst. Just as you think you are done and couldn’t possibly eat another morsel yet more temptation appears before you. And sure it would be rude not to at least have a little taste. You can view a sample menu here.

I have sampled many, MANY, afternoon teas in my time and I can honestly say that right now Ariel House is hard to beat. The service is much more attentive than any other hotels I have visited in the last year. The quality and selection of both savoury and sweet goods can’t be faulted, with everything baked fresh before your arrival. Quantities were enough to fill Mr. LMUTB, now that’s saying something, so much so that he even booked a return visit with his family. Relative to service and quality the price is unbelievable value. Deirdre and the team in Ariel House have made it a real destination for afternoon tea fans, and those who simply like to relax and luxuriate over a cup of tea and some cake.

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Image courtesy of Ariel House/Paula Ryan Photography

Afternoon tea in Ariel House is available to book on select Saturdays and Sundays.

Booking is essential. {email: reservations@ariel-house.net / phone: 01 6685512}

Further details http://www.ariel-house.net/afternoon-tea-in-dublin

Ariel House, 50-54 Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

I have been a guest of Ariel House for afternoon tea. I have also returned as a paying customer. All opinions are my own. I was not obliged to or asked to write about afternoon tea in Ariel House. 

Rhubarb Syrup on Like Mam Used to Bake

Rhubarb Syrup on Like Mam Used to Bake 011

I love rhubarb. I love its tart flavour. Even the mouthfuls that cause me to suck my cheeks in. When it’s in season I pick up a bunch whenever I find it in the shops, as that tart flavour is the perfect balance in sweet summer treats. One of my favourite things is the syrup it produces as it stews are cooks in the oven. I always reserve this to use in homemade lemonade. The only problem is there is never enough, and I miss it as soon as I pour that last drop.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to receive a delivery of home-grown goodies from some neighbours. When I saw the rhubarb I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it, a nice big batch of syrup. I have been enjoying it added to homemade lemonade, it would also be perfect added to summer cocktails, ice pops or drizzled over ice cream. Reserve the stewed rhubarb to enjoy with custard, yoghurt for a nice breakfast treat, or mix up an Eton mess for a quick and easy dessert.

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Rhubarb Syrup

{Yields approx. 750ml}

250g caster sugar

500ml water

500g rhubarb

Place the caster sugar in a large pot and pour over the water. Set the pot over a high heat and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

While you wait for the sugar mixture to boil chop the rhubarb into 1 inch size pieces. Once the sugar mixture has boiled and the sugar is dissolved turn the heat down to a simmer, add the rhubarb and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Use a spoon to skim off any foam that forms on the surface.

Remove the pot the heat and strain the liquid into a large jug or bowl. Very carefully pour the rhubarb syrup into a clean bottle that has been sterilised in a 100C oven for 15 minutes, and seal. It’s important that the liquid going into the hot bottle is hot to avoid shattering the glass. Set aside to cool before storing in the fridge.

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Iced Milk Tea on Like Mam Used to Bake

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Grey clouds may have rolled in again, but temperatures remain on the pleasant side of warm. My appetite has adjusted accordingly to the recent hot spell we have been enjoying. Day time eating is a series of small snacks washed down with copious amounts of water. Dinners have been a variety of light and fresh salads, with a side of something ‘substantial’ for Mr. LMUTB who seems convinced I’m trying to starve him. He never leaves the table hungry though, so I wish he’d trust me on this one.

In addition I find that my usual mid afternoon cup of tea no longer appeals. I’m not one to consume vast quantities of tea throughout the day but I do relish my ‘first thing’ cup and my ’3 o’clock slump’ cup. Mid afternoon temperatures have had me craving something chilled in its place though, and so I decided to try an iced tea. The perfect cooler downer whether you are trapped in a hot stuffy office, or enjoying the sunshine in the garden. Oh, and if you manage to find some pretty paper straws they make it taste even more delicious, swear. Enjoy!

Notes:

I have not provided exact quantities below, merely a guide, as you can adjust to suit your taste and also the size of glass that you serve it in.

I cold brew the tea overnight to avoid any bitterness. If you don’t have time to do this simply brew the tea as you would if using boiled water for a regular cup of tea. If making with boiled water I would say steep the bag for no longer than five minutes before removing and allowing the tea to cool completely.

Pour the remaining condensed milk from the tin into a clean jar. It will keep in the sealed jar in the fridge for a month or more and you can add it to tea or coffee as you wish.

You can easily double etc the quantities if making for a group.

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Iced Milk Tea

{serves 2}

1 tea bag

Water

Ice

Vanilla extract

Condensed milk

Place the tea bag into a mug/jug/jar with a capacity to hold approximately 350ml of water. Fill the mug with cold water, as you would if making a cup of tea. Place the mug into the fridge and leave to brew overnight. The next morning remove the tea bag from the water, if not using immediately return the cold tea to the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Fill two tall glasses with ice. Add 1tsp of vanilla extract to each glass. Pour the cold brewed tea into each glass until almost full, leave a little over 10mm free at the top of each glass. Add 2tbsp of condensed milk to each glass and stir to combine. If you prefer a sweeter drink feel free to add more condensed milk.

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Nutella Balls on Like Mam Used to Bake

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Earlier this year I decided to start swimming again. I have a love/hate relationship with exercise, in that I’d love the results of it but I hate the effort of it. I’ve tried many things over the years and the only thing that I stuck at was walking, but for me personally and being a tad impatient, the results never seemed to come fast enough. Following another failed period of attempting to turn myself into a jogger, and after one injury too many, I decided I had had it with that too. A weekend away and a splash in the hotel’s pool reminded me how much I had enjoyed swimming in my youth. All of those years ago. *sigh*

Decision made, I would accompany Mr. LMUTB to the gym once a week, throw myself into the pool and attempt to not drown. And guess what? I love it! I even go more than the agreed once a week. Voluntarily. And I boast about it. I know, the hack off me like. As a result of my new Olympic style athleticism though I find that I am constantly ravenous. Proper eat the hand off of ye starving like, and so I’ve had to adjust my eating habits a little. Snacks that fill me up and keep me fuller longer now occupy a space in the fridge/freezer as I have a tendency to become a little hangry late afternoon. A snack and I’m a regular little ray of sunshine again until dinner.

These Nutella balls (not the best name but I’m not feeling very creative today) came about as a result of a poorly stocked store cupboard. I had intended to make a recipe from Susan Jane White’s The Extra Virgin Kitchen but found I didn’t have the ingredients and so I decided just to throw what I did have into a bowl. And I know, I know, Nutella is probably not the healthiest choice but it’s only a small amount in each one and I reckon the rest of the ingredients negate that. Made with milled chia seed and milled flaxseed they provide a nice slow energy release and dietary fibre, for…well you know yourself. We’ve been sprinkling flaxseed on porridge and cereal for years, but that was about as exciting as it got. I recently attended a Linwoods demo and was pleasantly surprised by the different ways that you can incorporate milled seeds into your diet. These Nutella balls got a big thumbs up here, and could be a good way to sneak some extra goodness into reluctant little people. Enjoy!

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Nutella Balls

{makes 10}

4tbsp Nutella

3tbsp milled chia seed

3tbsp milled flaxseed

2tbsp desiccated coconut, plus extra to coat

2tbsp maple syrup

Place all of the ingredients, except the extra desiccated coconut,  into a bowl and mix together until evenly combined.

With wet hands roll the mixture into 10 balls a bit bigger than a chocolate truffle. Roll each ball in the additional desiccated coconut to coat if you wish.

Place in the fridge or freezer to set, and eat straight from the fridge or the freezer to avoid a mushy mess.

***I was a guest of Linwood’s for their demo and they kindly sent me some samples of their products. The views expressed here are my own and I was not paid to give them,  I was not under any obligation to mention the product on the blog.

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Grief & Lemon Milk Cake on Like Mam Used to Bake

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That’s a nice cheery title, wah?! For a long time I have toyed with writing this post. It plays on my mind. I turn it over and over in my head and then for whatever reason I don’t get around to sitting at the laptop to type up the words. It has followed me around though, the words churning in my head and I suppose they want to come out. I typed up a few words, but then nervously saved the post as a draft. And now here I am again, typing. I know that like me so many of you have lost someone who you loved, and continue to love, dearly. And, like me, you probably think that you are going or have gone about this grieving business all the wrong way.

There are no instructions you see. It’s a bit like learning how to swim the hard way, being fucked in at the deep end and left to figure out how to float before you sink. And for some reason we don’t talk about it. If asked how we are we draw an answer from the list of stock phrases, “ah I’m grand, thanks”, “getting there”, “you know yourself”, “sure don’t we just have to get on with it”. So when it happens to you you naturally assume that you must be grand and you must get on with it. Wrong. We’re like pretty little snowflakes, each of us different and each of us delicate, so we must deal with things in an equally unique way.

The first thing to say is that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. You don’t have to do things exactly the same way as your best friend/cousin/colleague. Maybe you need to cry a lot. Maybe you need to surround yourself with people. Maybe you need to take a break. Maybe you need to talk at length. Maybe the tears just won’t come. Maybe you need to take some time out alone. Under the duvet. With an extra-large bar of chocolate. Maybe you need to throw yourself into activities to keep you both physically and mentally occupied. Maybe you need to process exactly how you feel before you can utter a word to anyone. Maybe you need to do all of the above to find what works for you.

You don’t have to cry. And if you don’t it doesn’t mean that you are a heartless beast. Initially you might feel quite numb. You are facing a rather alien situation and emotions are confused. If the tears don’t flow don’t beat yourself up. They will come when they are ready. And you should have the tissues on standby, because once they start to flow they might not stop for a while.

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There is no set time frame. You don’t have to race the clock in an attempt to get your grieving over and done with. It takes time. Quite a long time. Your emotions and approach to it will morph over time. Don’t rush it. Allow yourself to go through the motions, however long they take. And just when you think you’re done, something will crop up to tell you otherwise. That old adage of ‘time is a great healer’ is a load of bollocks. I’m sorry to break it to you so bluntly, but it is. But what time will do is allow you to adjust your life, and learn to live without that person present. So if it still hurts in 5 years, 10 years or many more, that’s OK. You’re not doing things wrong.

You don’t have to pull yourself together. There will be that one person who thinks they are doing good by you by harassing you into being active, getting out there, socialising, generally pulling yourself together and getting on with things. Going through the motions of your day-to-day life is important, and the routine will help. But if at the weekend or evenings you don’t fancy going clubbing/taking that foreign language class/mountain hiking then simply say thank you, but no. You know what’s best for you, don’t let others make you believe that they do.

I wish someone had told me these things a long time ago, just to set my mind at ease that doing things my way was exactly the right thing to do. That is the most important thing to remember, do things your way. And now I think we could all do with some cake after that. A nice lemon cake to be precise. It’s the perfect cup of tea (or coffee) cake. It’s a well-known fact that tea makes everything better, and lemon cake can brighten up any day. So turn on the kettle, and cut yourself a nice slice. Or two.

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Lemon Milk Cake

This recipe is based on the recipe for the chocolate milk cake in my book

3 large eggs

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk

100g unsalted butter, melted

Zest of 1 lemon

100g ground almonds

100g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/4tsp. salt

100g caster sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Icing sugar to dust, optional

Lemon zest to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease the base and sides of a 23cm/9in round springform tin, and line the base with parchment paper. Place the baking tin onto a lipped baking sheet, the batter is very runny so this catches any that might escape at the start of baking.

In a large bowl beat the eggs using an electric hand whisk/standalone mixer for approximately 2 minutes, until they are pale and fluffy.

Add the condensed milk, melted butter and lemon zest and beat just until they are mixed through.

Sift in the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt and gently fold through until evenly incorporated.
Pour into the prepared baking tin, it will be very runny so don’t panic, and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, the cake is done when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and pierce all over with a skewer. Mix together the caster sugar and lemon juice and mix to make a syrup. Spoon the syrup over the cake. Allow to cool completely in the tin. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with some thin strips of lemon zest if you wish.

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Religieuse on Like Mam Used to Bake

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I made these last week with the intention of using them for a Mother’s Day post. I thought they would make a nice afternoon tea treat for all of the lovely mammies out there. But then when it came to it I just couldn’t bring myself to type it up. I didn’t quite feel like celebrating mammies when I don’t have my own here with me. Selfish I know. My heart grew increasingly heavy with each passing day last week, and it wasn’t until Thursday arrived that I realised why. Mother’s Day doesn’t normally affect me in the same way that birthdays and anniversaries do, but this year it seemed to taunt me. Shops, TV ads and social media were in Mother’s Day overdrive, and the reality of the day for me was to my mind being rubbed in my face.

This week, with the day behind me, I have cast aside my selfish behaviour and felt able to sit down and blog. Religieuse are little morsels of Choux pastry nunny deliciousness. A Choux bun, filled with cream, dipped in chocolate and topped with a smaller Choux bun. Just in case the one is not enough like. I recently received some Áine Hand Made Chocolate and decided to try their Dark Zesty Lime bar for the topping. I had a sneaky little taste of it before I melted it down and love how the silky smoothness of the chocolate is punctuated with nuggets of crystallised lime zest. To further accentuate the lime flavour I added some lime zest to the Chantilly cream filling. I used the Choux pastry recipe from my book for these but increased the quantities slightly. These were a big hit here, so much so that the police have opened a file on the case of the missing nun *glances sideways at Mr. LMUTB*. Enjoy!

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Religieuse

Makes 6

For the pastry:

75g Unsalted Butter

175ml Water

100g Plain Flour

3 Large Eggs, beaten

For the filling:

250ml cream

2tbsp icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime, optional

For the chocolate topping:

100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

25g unsalted butter

2tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper on the reverse of which you have drawn 6 circles 5cm in diameter, and 6 that are 3.5cm in diameter.

Melt the butter with the water in a saucepan set over a medium heat.

Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and then beat in the flour.

Return the saucepan to a low heat and continue to beat the mixture until it leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the eggs a little at a time beating continuously until well combined.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. Pipe into each of the circles on the parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, reduce the heat or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and poke a small hole in the top of the larger buns, turn the smaller buns over and poke a small hole in the bottom of each, leave them upside down on the baking sheet. This will allow steam to escape from inside the buns so that they can crisp up. Return to the oven for 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the Chantilly cream add all of the ingredients to a bowl and whip just until it holds peaks. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain or star-shaped nozzle. Once the buns have cooled fill with the cream through the hole that you made in each one earlier. Reserve some of the cream to pipe the ‘collar’ onto the assembled religieuse.

To make the chocolate topping melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not make contact with the water. Once melted remove the bowl from the pot and mix in the icing sugar. Spoon 1 teaspoon of the chocolate on top of each bun. Then sit one small bun on top of each large bun, pressing down gently to secure. Once the chocolate has set pipe a ‘collar’ around each nun.

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Irish Café Bombón on Like Mam Used to Bake

Irish Café Bombón on Like Mam Used to Bake 017

I’m not a big coffee drinker, not at home. On a recent trip to Madrid though I consumed more coffee in two days than I would normally in two months. One of the things I look forward to most when visiting there is café con leche, and if I’m feeling extra naughty café bombón.

Yesterday I drank A LOT of coffee. Far more than I imagine is medically safe to do so. And whiskey. All in the name of blogging. You see producing a food blog post might seem like a cinch. You cook/bake something, throw it onto a plate, take a quick picture and then cobble a few sentences together. Et voila. Not quite how it works in reality though.

You cook/bake something, and if you’re anything like me create a monster mess in the kitchen. You then have to clean said monster mess because your kitchen is so small that if you don’t you won’t have room to take a photo. Then you set up the photo roughly and take a quick snap to see if you’re happy with things. Then, if you’re an Irish food blogger, you probably say a prayer to holy God in heaven that the light will hold for the next half an hour and that a big bold grey cloud won’t come and reduce you to tears because you then have to readjust your camera settings. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when you just pretend you know what you’re doing with the camera having to adjust it every two minutes because the cloud is here, then it’s gone, back again, gone…well that’s enough to test the patience of a saint.

Time to take the picture, sure you’re on the pig’s back now, right? Well now, that all depends on what you’re taking a picture of. A plate of cookies? Grand job. They’ll happily sit there and won’t move a muscle until you’re done. You can move them this way, and that way. No bother. You can take all of the time in the world. A hot drink involving layers of condensed milk, hot coffee and lovely pillows of whipped cream? Yeah, good luck with that one. Attempting to take the picture before the cream starts to mingle with the hot coffee, and then the coffee starts to bleed down into the condensed milk is almost impossible. And that my dear friends is why I drank my own body weight in deliciously sweet boozy coffee yesterday afternoon.

As you can see from the pictures I gave up in the end and just went with the best that I could capture. And we’re all going to ignore the fact that this morning I thought to myself “why did you not just use cold coffee?”, right? Anyhoo, below is a guide more so than a recipe, I suggest you adjust the quantities to suit your own tastes. I like equal quantities of coffee and condensed milk but you might like more of one over the other. For the photographs I used equal quantities of each layer as that gave the best visual result but I suggest using less cream when making them yourself. Enjoy!

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Irish Café Bombón

Whiskey

Freshly brewed coffee

Condensed milk

Whipped cream

Cocoa powder

Note: If you have condensed milk leftover pop it into a clean jar, it will keep in the fridge for a number of weeks.

For each coffee that you are making add 30ml of whiskey to the bottom of the glass.

Pour over some freshly brewed coffee so that the glass is a little over 1/3 full.

Now add some condensed milk and watch as it magically sinks to the bottom, don’t fill the glass completely as you want to leave a little room for some whipped cream.

Top with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. Serve with the distinct layers still visible before stirring to drink.

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