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So far all the things a would-be bride would do with her girlfriends, I’ve pretty much done by myself. Though my good friend Sinead accompanied me to buy my wedding dress (which, incidentally, has turned into a complete disaster – more on this in my next blog post), everything else bridal-related has been a solo expedition.

The thing is my sister and maid of honour Anne lives in Los Angeles, along with most of my girlfriends, and my best friend and bridesmaid Stacy lives in San Francisco. So the shopping trips for shoes, earrings, wedding underwear (I swear then 4here is such a thing!), courthouse wedding dress and honeymoon attire – just moi.

To be honest, I’m quite an impatient shopper and I typically prefer to shop alone. Everyone has a different shopping style, and mine involves walking into a store, giving everything a quick scan and then zeroing in on the things I like. Other people may spend an hour tugging through one ill-hung sale item after another, treating it as a treasure hunt of sorts, and when they do find that Marc Jacobs mini in their size at 75% – well, it was all worth it. Me, not so much. I find the hunt  extremely tedious and I just want to find what I want quickly and get out of there.

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However there are other wedding-related chores that I wish my sister and besties could be here for. Whether it’s something specific like helping me choose between hair pin A and hair pin B or just general wedding chat over some nibbles and wine, it would be really nice to have them here during this special and often trying time. Thankfully there’s SKYPE, and recently I’ve been using it more and more to chat face-to-face with my sister and friends.

But it was still the surprise of the century when I came home the other night and found a massive box in the sitting room with a note that said, “DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOU SKYPE YOUR SISTER.” I got on Skype with Anne and she gave me the go-ahead to open the box. “Welcome to your virtual bridal shower!” she said, from her sitting room in Los Angeles. Inside the large box were many smaller boxes – presents from all my close friends and family back home.

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While my sister looked on, I opened the cards and boxes. Many of my friends attached a photo of herself on her gift, so that I would feel that she was here with me. The cards all bore incredibly touching and thoughtful messages and the gifts were lovely. Lingerie, candles, cashmere, perfume, a Coach wallet, a really hilarious book called “Porn for Women” featuring hot guys doing chores – I felt like I’d hit the girly jackpot! And for good measure my sis threw in some copies of American food magazines I love – the icing on the cake, really.

I have to hand it to Anne, she organised the whole thing and spent the previous month emailing and calling my friends to get all the gifts together. She had each of them post or drop off the gifts to her house, and then packed everything in one box and shipped it here to Ireland. Thank you so much Anne, Mom, Stacy, Monica, Kayo, Mika, Giselle, Janet, Jennifer, Dana and Tawny for such a wonderfully pleasant surprise. What a treat to come home to on a Friday night after a long week of work!

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Beet Greens Tart

My sister is a food blogger as well, and I am often inspired by her recipes. I saw her take on this Turnip Greens tart a while ago and have been thinking about it ever since. Yesterday at the Honest 2 Goodness market in Glasnevin I bought some beetroot with the tops still on them (why people throw the tops out is beyond me!) so I decided to do my own version of the tart. For the crust, I used my Spelt Herb Crust recipe.

Spelt Crust – unbakedbeet tart 3_edited-1

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 white onion, chopped

2 huge handfuls of beet tops, chopped into medium dice – mine came from 4 medium-sized beets

2 eggs

100 ml low-fat or skim milk

100 grams of grated white cheddar cheese

1 small corgette or yellow squash, sliced thinly

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Salt & Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180C.

Roll out the spelt crust and place into a10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (or a glass pie dish will work if you don’t have one). Pierce with a fork and set aside – do not blind bake.

In a large sauté pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the chopped onion and beet greens and sweat them for about 5 minutes. Place the mixture into a food processor and pulse a few times, you just want to break down the greens a bit more but you don’t want it to be baby food texture. Now add in the eggs, milk and cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper and whiz for 15 seconds or so. Pour the mixture into the spelt crust shell – it will be quite liquidy but don’t worry, it will set.

Slide into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and top with the thinly sliced corgette or squash and place back into the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove again, and add the parmesan and place back into the oven. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from the oven.

Serve with a simple salad for a lovely vegetarian lunch or dinner!