Competition Time!

wedding

Calling All Brides- The Wedding Journal Show is back

And we have some tickets to give away!

A Home Made By Committee is teaming up with The Wedding Journal Show to give away five pairs of tickets to the show in the Citywest Complex on the 26th– 27th September.

For your chance to win a pair, answer the following question:

Where does The Wedding Journal Show take place in Dublin?

Send your answers to clarke_cathy@hotmail.com by September 21st to enter.

 

What’s it all about?

The Wedding Journal Show, Ireland’s biggest and best bridal event, is back with a dazzling amount of exciting, unique features. Located at the Citywest Complex in Dublin the show will run on the 26th & 27th of September and promises to be the ultimate wedding planning experience for any couple set to say ‘I DO!’.

From creative cakes to dream dresses, The Wedding Journal Show gathers together everything you need to craft your perfect wedding day provided by hundreds of the country’s leading wedding industry suppliers.

This year’s Autumn Show will feature new areas like ‘Say Yes To The Dress’, where brides-to-be can try on dresses and purchase at the show, as well as the inspirational Vintage Wedding Area. The informative Honeymoon Seminar Area will make a return as travel industry professionals tell you everything you need to know about booking the best post-wedding trip and the dreamy cake designs by the winners from the first Great Wedding Journal Cake Off will also be on display for your eyes to feast on.

One couple will walk away with an incredible ‘Wedding of the Year’ package worth a jaw-dropping €25,000 and the coveted competition can be entered by anyone who visits the show. This life-changing prize features an €8,000 wedding reception at the exclusive Bridge House Hotel as well as a luxurious honeymoon in Jamaica worth €6,000, courtesy of Travelmood. Simply visit the Wedding Journal stand to enter before the live final on the FM104 Style Stage on Sunday, September 27th.

Packed full of glamour, inspiration and excitement, The Wedding Journal Show once again will be an unmissable day out for the entire bridal party. The legendary Bridal Catwalk Show returns three times daily featuring the latest collections from international dress designers, and on the FM104 Style Stage hair and makeup professionals will be sharing their top styling tips for 2016 and there’s fashion advice for the curvy bride.

Be sure to grab a VIP ticket online before you visit to receive a fab goodybag filled with the latest beauty products, exclusive access to the VIP Lounge, a glass of bubbly and complimentary beauty treatments.

Opening times: 12 noon – 6pm Saturday 26th September and 12pm-6pm Sunday 27th September. Discounted tickets, VIP tickets and all other information can be found at WeddingJournalOnline.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

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Vote YES for Equality

 

Two very important things are going to happen on the 22nd May this year, one is a fairly big milestone birthday for me the second is that Irish people get to vote in a referendum on marriage equality. Both these events are highly important but the second will have a lasting impact on the lives of more people so I am going to admit that the vote is more important than the birthday.

 
Not so long ago I would have been considered to be living in sin, IN SIN. That seems hilarious now but I remember those words having real meaning to people’s lives in Ireland. This little country has a lovely history of ascribing stigma to things that could usher in social change. Free availability of contraception (1992), they’ll all be at it! Decriminalising homosexuality (1993), we’ll all be gay now! Divorce (1996), Jesus it’s all over now! Well the world didn’t end but society as we knew it did and that was a great thing, the society we had back then was cruel and restrictive. That was the society that allowed for Magdalene laundries, clerical and institutional child abuse, limited rights for women, no rights for children born outside of marriage, no rights for gay people. That change required people to act and if you want all people in this country to have the right to marry then you need to act, you need to make sure to vote because you can be certain that the people who are motivated by fear will go out and vote no.

 
I am not going to be tripping down the aisle anytime soon, it is not for me but I realise I am in an incredibly privileged position to be able to say that because I have a choice. I have been afforded the right to make that decision, it was mine to make, no government, no religion, no bigot was telling me that I couldn’t marry the person I have chosen to share my life with. Every person in this country should be able to make that decision themselves.

 
Not being married myself my naïve understanding of marriage is that it should be between two people for whom the act of standing before friends and family and declaring their love has a deep meaning. The ceremony has meaning, the vows have meaning, making those vows publicly, surrounded by love has meaning. Having that act of mutual devotion recognised by law has huge meaning. The fact that there are people fighting for this right tells me that marriage has meaning to them.

 
Everyone should have the right to nervously plan a proposal, to have that moment when someone says yes, to plan more than a wedding but a life together. Partner is a cold word, any woman should be able to look at the love of her life and call her wife, any man should be able to be able to introduce the man who shares his life as his husband. On a selfish note I really want to see my boyfriend one day walk his daughter down the aisle towards her future wife because I know how much that moment will mean to both of them. There is not a person alive who could come at me with an argument that could convince me that they should not have that moment. That seventeen year old girl is out campaigning for this right alongside the rest of the bright, brave, hopefully people who will usher in a better society not just for themselves but for everyone.

 
I love that this vote is happening on my birthday. I hope to cap off my natal celebrations by popping a bottle of bubbly to a Yes vote. I really want there to be a resounding Yes, a joyful Yes, a Yes that carries Ireland further away from its grey grim past in to the future. Please go out and vote and vote YES.

The Problem with being Celiac at a Wedding

I love a good wedding. My usual uniform is jeans, t-shirts and boots so I like an excuse to get properly dressed up. I love a room full of flowers, I love the shuffle as everyone stands and turns to watch the Bride walk down the aisle, I will pretty much always get a bit teary eyed at the ceremony, I like that everyone is happy and smiling and I love a bit of dancing. What I don’t look forward to are the deserts.

 

If you are celiac desert at a hotel wedding, even if that hotel usually caters beautifully for celiac, is often a massive disappointment. You watch everyone else being served something delightful and then three slices of cold hard melon and a single strawberry are plopped unceremoniously in front of you.

 

With all of the flourless deserts in the world I do not understand why I am always presented with a dodgy fruit salad. A good fruit salad, full of ripe, sweet, succulent fruit would be great, but I fear that what I usually get are the leftovers from the breakfast buffet. Occasionally I might get a meringue but it is usually served without cream for some reason. So there I am with a mouthful of sugar and egg dust and some frigid fruit.

 
Another option is ice cream and really I don’t want the same desert that is being served at the kids table when I am in my grown up finery and nursing a glass of red wine.
In the hopes that some hotel out there will do a bit of research and be brave with their deserts I am presenting a few ideas for easy Gluten Free deserts. Some of these you could easily make for the whole wedding party and just have the one option so the GF person feels warm and included.

 
• Cheese board and a pack of pre bought GF crackers. NO fuss involved, put some cheese on a plate, open the crackers and send it out. Job done.
• A really good pavlova filled with seasonal fruit.
• A flourless chocolate cake.
• Chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, any kind of mousse really.
• A chocolate roulade, there are approximately one hundred recipes online for flourless roulade
• Fruit meringue roulade, flour free, light and delicious.
• Cheesecake made using Gluten Free digestive biscuits. Again half the work is done for you.
• Fruit crumble made with Gluten Free four or ground almonds and nuts. Easy and delicious for an Autumn wedding
• A ridiculously indulgent custardy bread pudding made with GF bread, perfect for a Winter wedding
• Crème Brulee
• Crème Caramel
• Eton Mess, really what could be easier or prettier.
• Lemon Posset, this seems to be on every other menu now days.

 
Now that I have covered desert I would like to mention the need for there to be some celiac option provided for the celiac guest when the tea, sandwiches and wedding cake are being handed out late in the evening. We have had as much booze, danced as hard and been up as long as all the other guests and to expect us to sit and watch everyone else sup on the evening’s refreshment while we are offered nothing is just bad hospitality.

 
One of my fondest wedding memories ifs of an assistant manager noticing that I was sitting morose and hungry and running out to the kitchen to arrange for some cheese and toast to be brought out to me, it was basic but tasty and filled the need and I was so grateful to that woman as she most likely saved me from a massive hangover.

 

 

I plead with hotels / caterers to really think about the needs of all their guests. The bride and groom are forking out just as much for my meal as for everyone else’s and she should get her money’s worth.

 

Be brave, be inventive, do your research and please make the effort.

Hen Party Cupcake Decoration

Hen Party Cupcake Decoration
Hen Party Cupcake Decoration

Topic: cupcakes, decoration, hen, bachelorette, party

I recently volunteered to provide cupcakes for a hen party. Now, it would have been possible to show up with a few butterfly buns, as my baking ability is not internationally renowned and the expectations were not high. But it was the hen party of my future sister-in-law and I thought it would be nice to put in a little effort and see if I could make something special.

Making the cupcakes was no problem. I cracked the spine on my favourite cookbook for alcoholic cupcakes and with a few modifications created Southern Comfort & Coke, Pina Colada, Margarita and White Maria cupcakes.

It can be sometimes tricky to get 40 women to eat cupcakes, especially if they are thinking of having to squeeze into their frock for the wedding which was only a few weeks away. I have found that the more appetising and interesting the cupcakes look, the more chance that they will be eaten. To help me with this I recruited Jean from Pretty Tasty Bakes to give me a tutorial on cupcake decoration.

The first thing Jean did was put a cupcake case in front of me. {Well, that’s a lie, the first thing she did was come into the house, unpack a suitcase worth of equipment and have a cuppa before getting started. But the first thing she did right after that was to put the cupcake case before me} so that I would keep scale in mind. There is no point making something with lots of detail that people either can’t see or that won’t fit on the top of the cupcake. Scale is very important.

I had trawled through Pinterest and picked out a few designs that I liked and saved them to a board. Jean reviewed this so that we were both on the same page. We started with the simplest design: black and pink hen party regulars.

 

Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada
Cocktail Cupcake: Pina Colada

Required

  • Cutting/chopping board on which to work
  • Rolling pin
  • Circular cookie cutter
  • Craft knife
  • Gem mould if available
  • Letter stamp impressions
  • Non-toxic shimmer dust

Method

  1. To make the black base: Take a blob of black icing, tease until warm and flexible, and roll it smooth, on a cutting board to protect your table, with a rolling pin. Black icing is one of the few colours that should be bought premade, because of the amount of dye it takes to colour white icing to make it black, as opposed to grey (red is another one of these, it takes bottles to move it from being pink to being scarlet). Then take a circular cookie cutter about the size of the cupcake case you are using and cut out enough circles to place on top of each cupcake. Put these aside to dry and harden.
  2. To make the learner signs take a blob of white icing, tease and roll out. From this cut the white square for the L sign. Use a ruler or guide to ensure these are square. Place to one side to dry. Next take a blob of pink, tease and roll out. Use a craft knife to cut out the letter L (being careful of scale). Place to the side to dry.
  3. To make the rings, take a blob of white and roll between your hands to make a worm shape. Once the worm has started to take shape, put the roll on the board and using one finger only roll until a thin long snake is made. Using only one finger will help to keep the width of the snake consistent. Once the correct diameter has been reached, cut and make a circle from it. Place to one side to harden. To make the gem, Jean had a handy gem mould which we used. However, if you did not have this, using a craft knife, impress edges onto a small ball of white icing, until it has a cut diamond appearance. Dust with shimmer dust to give gleam. Place to one side to harden
  4. To make the flags, take a blob of pink icing, tease and roll. Use a craft knife to cut out the flag shape. Use letter stamps to impress message onto the icing. Use toothpick to decorate the edge of the flag with small dots. Dust with shimmer dust to give gleam.
  5. Once the cupcakes are ready to decorate, stack pieces on top of one another, holding in place with non-toxic baking glue.

Some little tips:

How to get lots of different colours without spending a fortune?

There is no need to buy lots of different coloured icing to get different colours, instead buy small bottles of food colouring and a large block of white icing. Add a very small, tiny, miniscule drop of colouring to a blob of white icing. Mix this in by pulling apart and resticking the icing together (as you would to warm up bluetack) until the colour is uniform. This will work for ever colour except dark ones such as red, black, purple, for those colours you will need to buy the pre-dyed icing.

What to do if the icing gets too sticky?

Add some icing sugar, this will dry up some of the moisture.

Leaving it to dry:

It is best to leave your decorations harden overnight, in a cool dark space if possible. I find the oven an excellent place to do this, plus it gives me the perfect excuse to order pizza!

Hen Party Cupcake Decoration
Hen Party Cupcake Decoration

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

 

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke
Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

 

Topic: Cupcake, Alcoholic, Hens, Bachelorette, Baking, Party

 

Nothing says “I have come to party, but in a controlled, safety-switch-on sort of way” like an alcoholic cupcake, but what says “I may even loosen my hair bun and unbutton my shirt collar” is chocolate alcoholic cupcakes.

One of my favourite recipes is an adaption of the Cookie Girls Jack Daniels from her Eat Me book. Jack Daniels is Cookie Girl’s hubby’s (say that three times fast!) favourite tipple, unfortunately I had an “incident” with Jack back in my college days and I now can’t stand the taste of it, so instead I use Southern Comfort. I think the Southern Comfort adds a smoothness which the dark chocolate compliments very nicely. And there is a bit of coke thrown in so people don’t realise I’m an alcoholic.

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke
Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

Ingredients

Batter

  • 200g plain flour
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml milk
  • 30g yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp Coke (full fat, this is no time for Coke Zero, we need the sugar)

Icing

  • 110g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp Coke
  • 3tbsp Southern Comfort
  • 5 tbsp of black food colouring
  • 100g dark chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170/Gas 3 & line your 12 hole baking tray with paper cases
  2. Mix flour, sugar and bicarbonate in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl mix egg, milk, yogurt and vanilla.
  4. In a large pot melt the butter. Add the cocoa and Coke.
  5. Pour the butter mix into the flour mix and mix.
  6. Add the egg mix and mix.
  7. Pour into cupcake cases so they are 2/3 full, to allow space to rise
  8. Bake for 20-25 min
  9. Once the cupcakes are baked and cool, begin making the icing
  10. Sift the icing sugar and add the Coke, Southern Comfort and food colouring.
  11. Melt the chocolate and stir into the icing
  12. Working quickly before the icing solidifies, pour over cupcakes. Then decorate.

I was asked to bring some cupcakes to a sporting event recently, so I mixed these dark boozy cupcakes (for the grown-ups) in with a milk chocolate Nutella cupcakes (for the kids). They went down a treat. Although some of the kids were a little too partial to the Southern Comfort cupcakes – ones to watch in the future!

Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke
Cocktail Cupcake: Southern Comfort and Coke

 

Cocktail Cupcake: White Maria

 

Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria
Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria

 

Topic: Cupcake, Alcoholic, Hens, Bachelorette, Baking, Party

 

Rolling into the Christmas Party season, with everyone praying for a White Christmas, I thought this little stunner might be a great addition to the festivities.

This is a variation on the White Russian, the famous cocktail which was named at the end of World War 1 after the anti-Bolshevik group,of the same name, so called because they stood against the ‘Reds’ which were the communists. The drink got its name because of its main ingredients Kahlua (for the White) and Vodka (for the Russians). However, vodka is one of those flavours that just doesn’t work well in cake, so this recipe does not call for any. Instead we have the creamy white coming from the white chocolate and sour cream, and the dark coffee flavouring of the Tia Maria, to give us the White Maria.

 

 

Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria
Cocktail Cupcakes: White Maria

 

 

Ingredients

Batter

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp Tia Maria

Icing

  • 55g white chocolate
  • 110ml sour cream
  • 3 tsp Tia Maria
  • 225g icing sugar

 

Cocktail Cupcake: White Maria
Cocktail Cupcake: White Maria

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas4 and line a baking tray with paper cases
  2. In a large mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. While still mixing add eggs one at a time.
  4. Sift in flour and baking powder slowly.
  5. Mix in Tia Maria
  6. Spoon into paper cases and bake for 20 min
  7. Leave to cool
  8. For the icing: melt the chocolate. Add the sour cream and Tia Maria
  9. Mix in icing sugar
  10. Allow to cool so that it gets tacky. Spread over cupcakes

Cookbook Review: Alcoholic Cupcakes from Cookie Girl’s Eat Me

Eat Me Cookbook

 

Topic: Cupcake, Alcoholic, Hens, Bachelorette, Baking, Party

 

Nothing says I have come to party, but in a controlled safety-switch-on sort of way, like an alcoholic cupcake. They are perfect for hens/bachelorettes, birthdays, afternoon tea; events of any sort really, where there will be plenty of alcohol on hand but possibly not much soakage. These cupcakes are a way of slipping in a little safety net for those who can’t drink like a hobo at Christmas, but like to think that they can. They work well at the start of the festivities when people are sipping the classy wine, heels and hair intact, discussing political events in a sophisticated way. They are less effective if the flip-flops are on, makeup askew and the words ‘And Another Thing’ have been uttered more than once. At that stage, just start laying tarpaulin.

 

However, alcohol in food is a delicate balancing act (excluding jelly-shots which I categorise as solidified alcohol rather than a food product). Unlike a liquid which races through your mouth and is only on your palette for seconds, food is chewed and swirled around your mouth for a few minutes. So something that is delicious as a drink can be overpowering as a food no matter how much you like the flavour. If these cupcakes are to succeed you must remember one simple rule; food is not the medium through which to consume alcohol; if you want to get drunk I suggest stop eating and start drinking. Do not be tempted to add extra shots into recipes to get everyone drunk. The result tastes so disgusting it is inedible which makes the action self-defeating,

 

My favourite recipes are some I have modified from Cookie Girl’s Eat Me cookbook. For those that don’t know Cookie Girl is a lady otherwise known as Xanthe Milton. Ms Milton got into baking professionally while taking a break from acting. She began selling baked goods to West London office workers, before setting up a stall in the Portobello Market, and then going on to supply Selfridges nationwide.

 

In her Eat Me cookbook she has 4 alcoholic recipes – Jack Daniels, Kahula White Russian, Malibu Pina Colada and Margarita. Myself and the Cookie Girl have different tastes in alcohol, so rather than going out and buying an expensive bottle of liquor only to use a few tablespoons, I instead modified her recipes in order to use alcohol I did have in my house. The results work very well so long as you substitute similar flavours. So for instance, I don’t have Jack Daniels but I do like the occasional Southern Comfort and coke, so I exchanged shots of Jack for Sunny C. I don’t have Kahula, but I do have Tia Maria, this exchange works quiet well.

 

However, sometimes exchanges are not possible. Nothing tastes like tequila. It is unique. However, it would be a shame to have to fork out about €40 for a bottle only to use 2 tablespoons, so instead bring a flask down to your local pub and buy two shots for closer to €5. The barman might give you a funny look, and the bar flies might think that you are more pissed than they are, but really, if it means the success or failure of your cupcakes do you really care about their opinions?

 

Another tip is to be careful of the decoration that you propose to use. Most of Cookie Girl’s recipes rely on the action of both the cupcake and the icing together to make the flavour, so if you plan to use rolled icing or some other decoration, make sure you have a strategy to add it on top of the flavoured icing in the recipes. I find that little cocktail umbrellas are a great way to decorate these cupcakes, because nothing says sophisticated fun like a little umbrella.

 

However, if you have all the ingredients that she calls for, these are simple recipes that are easy to follow and have great results.