Sofie and I are celebrating five years since we got married in June 2015 in Dublin City Hall. This time of year always reminds me of that memorable day. We headed to Lisnavagh House in Carlow for our wedding reception where we had flowers from Mark Grehan who runs 'The Garden' florist in Powerscourt Townhouse.
Food was curated by our friends Jeni Glasgow and Reuven Diaz who worked their magic and created a menu filled with lots to excite and entice the taste buds - from shots of shōchū with oyster leaves, pork belly yuk sung, and platters of hanger steaks with grilled garlic scapes served with sweet and sour soy dipping sauce and miso mayo. For dessert, Jeni's dreamy sweet meringue clouds with sweetened cream, fruits and edible flowers. A beautiful summer feast that remains one of my most memorable meals.
After a wild evening of dancing to an ABBA tribute band, which went down very well with the Swedish relations, we headed off on honeymoon to the Amalfi Coast.
In those fuzzy, fun, newlywed days we found ourselves zooming around the stunning blue coastline in a little red fiat 500 blaring old Italian hits, eating our weight in fresh seafood pastas, drinking espressos and sipping on limoncello. The perfect antidote to all the fun, stress and emotions arranging a wedding brings.
We spent a couple of days in the sleepy town of Ravello, a boat trip around the beautiful island of Capri to swim in the famous blue grotto and finished up in Sorrento.
I had visions of all the beautiful scenery captured in Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr Ripley, (obviously without the identity theft and murder!), and it certainly delivered.
We're celebrating this weekend with recipes from our trip and if, like us, you are badly in need of dreamy Italian getaway, let these dishes whisk you away into a Felliniesque Italian dream world! Buon Appetito!
For the cake:
Butter, for greasing
200g ground almonds
1 heaped tsp baking powder
225g caster sugar
225g butter, softened
3 large eggs
6 tbsp limoncello
Grated zest of 3 large lemons
Icing sugar, to serve
Crème fraîche, to serve
For the syrup:
Juice of 2 lemons
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp limoncello
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C /350°F/Gas 4 and grease a 20cm diameter springform tin, then line the base and sides with baking parchment.
2. Combine the ground almonds, polenta and baking powder in a bowl.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter until the mixture is light and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Tip the bowl of dry ingredients into this mixture along with the limoncello and two-thirds of the lemon zest and fold with a spatula until just combined.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place it on the middle shelf of the oven to bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.
6. Prepare the syrup by placing all the ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium heat and bringing to a steady simmer or until the sugar is dissolved.
7. Pierce holes all over the cake with a wooden skewer while it is cooling and pour over half the syrup, a little at a time, until the cake has soaked it up.
8. Garnish with the remaining lemon zest.
9. Once cool, serve with a dusting of icing sugar, in slices and with a little crème fraîche.
1. Place a large saucepan of salted water over a high heat, bring to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.
2. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic to the pan and allow to sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened.
3. Discard any clams which are unopened before cooking then tip into the pan along with the chilli, toss and pour in the wine.
4. Quickly secure with a lid. This will allow the clams to steam in all those lovely juices.
5. Simmer for around 3-4 minutes or until the clams have opened. If any do not open in this time, discard them also.
6. Using a tongs add the pasta to the sauté pan along with some of the cooking liquid, this will help create the sauce, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and toss to coat, simmer for another minute. Stir through half the parsley.
7. To finish, serve into individual bowls or a large serving dish with a sprinkle of the remaining parsley and drizzle of olive oil.
1. Place the potatoes on a roasting tray and bake for 40 minutes at 200˚C.
2. While the potatoes cook, add the oil and garlic to a large frying pan a place over a medium-high heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle and turn golden, pour in the pasatta and bring to steady simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes. Season generously to taste with chilli flakes and sea salt.
3. Once the potatoes are cooked, allow to cool completely before splitting in half and scooping out the flesh. Discard the skins and pass the potato through a potato ricer into a mixing bowl. Add the flour, egg yolks, and a generous amount of salt and black pepper. Mix to a dough, turn out on to a floured work surface and knead until smooth.
4. Divide the dough into four and roll each piece into a long sausage the thickness of your thumb. Cut into 3cm pieces to give you 48 in total. Press on to a gnocchi board or use a fork to press down gently to create ridges on each gnocchi. Place on a floured tray and continue with the remaining dough.
5. Preheat the oven to 200˚C.
6. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the gnocchi to the pot and cook until they rise to the top. Drain the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to the tomato sauce. Gently fold in the gnocchi until coated.
7. Place in a large ovenproof dish and tear the mozzarella over the top, tucking in amongst the gnocchi. Grate over a generous amount of Parmesan and cover with tin foil. Place in the oven to cook for 10 minutes before removing the cover. Return it to the oven for another 5 minutes.
8. Rest it briefly before garnishing with basil leaves and Parmesan before serving hot.
On our wedding day we skipped the Champagne and instead opted for an Irish cider reception for our guests and it went down a storm. The cider served was Cockagee, a unique cider made using the ancient Keeving method, resulting in a sparkling 'live' cider with rich fruit flavours. We had it with Sunday dinner recently and all the memories of that lovely day came flooding back!
One of the real highlights of seasonal produce in Ireland this time of year comes in the form of garlic scapes from Drummond House in Co Louth. Its unique elephant garlic scapes are the long, green, flowering stalks that grow from the bulb and are delicious pan-fried, blitzed in pesto or used raw in salads.
You can order the garlic scapes, garlic bulbs and asparagus from its website. See Drummondhouse.ie
It's full-on in our house at the moment as we're smack bang in the middle of potty training and our youngest, Oliver, is trying out some baby-led weaning. By the looks of things we've got another good eater on our hands!