The good gourmet: Planning your Mother's day meal
If you are planning to cook a really nice meal for Mother's Day, I suggest starting at Dunnes of Donnybrook, an excellent butchers. Not only do they have delicious four-week hung, dried-aged, melt-in-your-mouth beef, but they have various pre-prepared meat dishes.
Sometimes when you go into a shop with your recipe, they might not have exactly what you need for the meal you're planning. For the average cook this is not usually a problem, as you can always substitute and improvise with ingredients, but for the novice, it could spell disaster. This is where the pre-pared dishes come in handy.
Dunnes have a dressed rack of lamb (€15), spatchcock chicken marinated in olive oil and tarragon (€14.50), and corn-fed chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella cheese, basil pesto and bacon. There are also some Toulouse sausages -- which the Frenchman and I thought were top class -- which can simply be cooked in the oven and served with some steamed potatoes, green salad and a little Dijon mustard on the side.
I picked up a delicious pork fillet stuffed with a fresh breadcrumb and herb-butter mix with fresh apricots, rolled in bacon (€10). All the pre-prepared meat dishes come with instructions, but the guys in the shop will be happy to advise. They are really friendly and helpful, and full of suggestions. They even have some recipe ideas that you can bring home, so if you fancy being a little more adventurous they can supply the meat and hints.
Once you have your meat and the dinner plan is set, Roy Fox is a great place for vegetables and picking up little titbits for starters. You can smell the olives as you approach the shop.
Inside, it stocks a wide variety of olives and various items to make up a nice antipasti platter, such as cured meats and, my favourite, marinated artichoke hearts (250g, €5.04).
Roy Fox, also on Donnybrook Road, always has an excellent selection of fresh produce and, most importantly, fresh herbs. Even if the fruit you require is out of season, Roy Fox will more than likely have it. Okay, it might be a bit pricey, but it will always be great quality.
I bought two small boxes of juicy, delicious blueberries (€5) and a handful of fresh walnuts that I had fun cracking open with the kids. Added to some blue cheese, the nuts made for an excellent salad.
The shop also has a well-stocked dried-food section selling all kinds of flours, pulses, fruit and nuts. I found some delicious Californian Medjool dates (€15.99 per kg), which are sweet and delicious, and make for a healthy present.
However, if you fancy spending the day cooking with mum, treat the whole family to a day with Just Cooking and the menu will be devised according to what the family likes.
Some popular items to date include crostini and fresh tomato and basil soup, or you can learn how to make a whole dinner; maybe a rack of lamb with all the trimmings.
A custom-made family cooking day will cost €100 per person.
Just Cooking, Killahane, Firies, Killarney, Co Kerry. Tel: 066 979 3660; www.justcooking.ie;