Thursday, 11 June 2009


A well equipped kitchen is a must for those of us who love to cook and so we have tried to more or less replicate what we have in our kitchen at home in Daisy Cottage. One of our priorities was the large side by side fridge freezer. I know at home I NEED maximum cold space for veg, fruit, dairy products, etc. and so althought they are fairly expensive, I thought it was worth it.

Added to the space, is the function I most love about this style ~ the ice cube dispenser and the chilled & filtered water dispenser. The water in Daisy Cottage is good, clean water and perfectly good for drinking but I like the option of having chilled water on demand. And ice cubes on demand ... perfect. The large freezer side has ample room for all the frozen food one could need for a week or two's stay in Daisy Cottage and room on top of that for the ice packs we have left there for putting into the cold box for picnics.

Sharp, good quality knives are another thing the cook in me and you needs and so these are what we have put in Daisy Cottage. At home we use a couple of magnetic holders on the wall for knives rather than putting them in a drawer and so I put one in Daisy Cottage too. It has the added advantage of keeping knives away from the reach of tiny fingers.

And being slightly ocd about germs, I also bought a set of chopping boards and accompanying sign which tells you which colour board to use for raw meat, cooked meat, fish, veg, and so on. This also suits the vegetarians among us, being able to prep their food on boards never used for meat. I also bought a separate wooden board for cutting bread, toast, etc. and a separate bread knife as cutting bread with sharp knives is the fast-track way to blunting them.

Of course ample utensils, cutlery, pots & pans, baking dishes and even serving dishes are important and I think I have covered mostly all the things needed to prep a meal, whether it be a full Irish breakfast, a light lunch, or a dinner party. One of the things we use a lot at home is a veg/fish steamer and so this was important to have in Daisy Cottage too. As indeed were such things as a salad spinner, hand blender, electric mixer, wok, mixing bowls and so on and again, these too have been put in Daisy Cottage.

One of things I worried about for myself was having to cook with electricity. At home I have used gas for many years together with an fan assisted electric oven. We had no option but to use electric cooking in Daisy Cottage as we do not have piped gas in Donegal and so cooking with gas would involve changing cylinders ~ not the easiest of things for those not used to it. So a rather nice, blakc (what else?) electric hob was installed. I don't know why I worried ~ it's a breeze to cook on and in some respects, better than gas. It is so quick to heat and easy to use that I am tempted to add an electric hob here at home! I suppose I had been a bit of a cooking snob thinking that gas was the best, but I have been proven wrong. And my favourite foodie book at the moment, "A Day at elBulli" by Ferran Adrai (a genius) says that because of the rather remote location of the restaurant elBulli (Cala Montjoi, nr. Roses, in the province of Girona in northern Spain), gas was not an option for them and so worried though they were about cooking with electric are now in fact delighted with the speed of it. So Daisy Cottage is in good company! By the way, I strongly recommend that book for those of you who love food, reading about food, viewing pics of food, and just plain food obsessed. It is fabulous.

Another thing I thought was important, thought I suppose it's a fairly minor detail, was a four slice toaster. I can't imagine the patience it would take to do 2 slices at a time when trying to get a group fed! I bought the kettle to match and chose that one because it is the same as the one we have at home and boils fairly quickly. The one thing I don't like about it is that the lid is a pain to remove but I just fill it through the spout and no problem with battling off a lid then.

All in all, I think we have managed to equip the kitchen in Daisy Cottage fairly well. I had a trial run recently when we invited a group of friends from the area to dinner there. I made a 3 course meal and am happy to report that I had all I needed to prep and serve the meal. Apart from one thing ~ a potato/veg peeler. Honestly, of all the things to forget! I guess it's true, the devil's in the detail! But that is resolved now.

What did I make for dinner?

Starter: smoked salmon cheesecake served with dressed leaves & red & yellow peppers. Really quite simple to make: crushed water/cheese biscuits mixed with melted butter and pressed into serving dish. Cream, cream cheese and fresh lemon juice whipped together. Smoked salmon finely chopped and then blended and then added to the cream mix. Poured on top of biscuit base and refridgerated for a few hours to set. Simple. And delicious!).

Mains: a choice of sirloin steak and all the trimmings or chicken stroganov with rice. Sides of steamed broccoli, french beans, baby potatoes and carrots.

Dessert: Vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries and strawberry coulis. Served with freshly brewed coffee from our coffee machine in Daisy Cottage.

Glad to report everything was eaten and enjoyed (well they gave great ooos and ahhhs and cleaned their plates), and after a long relaxed meal we all dragged our full tummies and bodies into the living room to chat and laugh and have after dinner drinks in front of the blazing fire. We bade a very fond farewell to our lovely guests around 3am, tired but happy.

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