Saturday, 24 December 2011

Choux Paste

This is the mix you use when you want to make profiteroles, a nice finish to a Sunday roast.

Choux Paste

568ml Water
227g Unsalted Butter
Pinch of Sugar
258g Strong Flour
7/8 Eggs

Method:

  1. Place water and butter in a saucepan; bring to the boil until butter has melted.
  2. Sieve flour and sugar together, add to the boiling liquid, mixing until fully absorbed and mixture.
  3. Cleans itself from the sides of the pan.
  4. Allow to rest for five minutes, beat 7 eggs in a bowl, add half the amount to the paste mixture and Combine.
  5. Add the remainder of the eggs, beating in until a dropping consistency is achieved.
  6. Cover the mixture and allow to rest for five minutes, use as required
  7. Pipe onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper at 205 degrees/gas mark 6 for 30-35 minutes

Friday, 23 December 2011

Macaroons

These are great, you can do them in whatever colour you like, mix it up. You could serve these after a dinner as a petit-four or as something you produce to show off a bit. Either way you should give it ago they are great! once they are done you can leave them in the fridge even put them in the freezer, just allow them to thaw out a little before serving.

This recipe makes 15 portions.

100g Icing Sugar
56g Ground Almonds (*Blitz to a powder for smooth finished texture)
26g Cocoa Powder*
2 Egg Whites
5 Tsp Castor Sugar

Method:


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150/gas mark 3
  2. Sieve the icing sugar, ground almonds and cocoa powder into a bowl.
  3. Whisk the castor sugar and egg whites to stiff peaks. it is to this you add the colouring.
  4. Using a piping bag and a small nozzle, pipe out circles about 1 inch in diameter. 
  5. Pipe onto a tray lined with grease-proof paper.
  6. Leave to rest on the tray for 25 minutes or until a skin develops.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes until firm. They should also have risen in the oven.
  8. To check they are cooked leave to cool for a few minutes then break in half the inside should be chewy and the outside crunchy.


*Optional

Filling:

125ml Double Cream/ Single Cream
120g Chocolate
15g Butter

Method:


  1. Melt the butter and the chocolate together.
  2. Allow to cool.
  3. Whip the cream til its stiff but not over-whipped! if you do over-whip your cream you can add some un-whipped  cream to it and fold it in.
  4. Fold the chocolate mix into the cream and using a piping bag pipe some onto one side of the macaroon and sandwich with another macaroon - like Oreos. Kind of!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Christmas

I haven't written in a while, getting the college assignments finished right now, I said I would be putting up some Christmas recipes - this is a great one to use instead of Brussels sprouts at the Christmas dinner, it has a different flavour, the inside is filled with peas and bacon and shredded cabbage its then cooked in chicken stock perfect if you don't have time to be standing around and watching the stove.

More Christmas(sy) Recipes To Come..... Ho Ho Ho!!

Braised Cabbage With Smoked Bacon and Peas

This is a perfect side dish for Bacon and Cabbage or or with Duck a  L'orange - which is what i have served it with. The filling in the cabbage is so rich with flavours and then the cooking process itself gives a totally different flavour, it is perfect if you don't really like cabbage as its mixed with other ingredients. This should serve 4



2 Streaky Rashers
2 Cloves Of Garlic
1 Cabbage
Rosemary
Cracked Black Pepper
Salt

Method:

  1. Remove the outer leaves and set aside for the parcels,
  2. Roughly chopped the inner cabbage leaves
  3. Sauté off lardons bacon add rosemary and garlic. 
  4. Add the peas
  5. Add the outside leaves of cabbage then tie neatly. 
  6. Add stock and steam for 1 minute.


*Be Careful, you don't overcook the cabbage as it can become soggy, and the inner ingredients can turn to mush.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Time

I  knows it has been a while since I had written but with Christmas, College and a new addition to the house .. a brand new puppy we call Millie (or as I call Millie the monster) who loves to distract me by attempting to eat the laptop or to join in with the typing. But coming up to Christmas I will try to put up some festive recipes and when I finish up fro college and the pup finally settles I hope to be back to the one a day recipe I had before.

Poached Pears with Raspberry Coulis and some Fresh Strawberries

This dish is really simple and you can have most if it ready before hand, the raspberry coulis will last up to up 5-7 days in the fridge and of course this time of the year raspberries can be expensive you can substitute with strawberries of you want and then serve with some fresh raspberries. Allow 1 pear per person.

Stock syrup is made up of : (This makes 1 litre)
400g Castor Sugar
900ml Water
100ml White Wine
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Vanilla Pods (Optional)


Method:

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to the boil, this would make a great stock syrup you could have for making sorbet. 
  2. For poached pears peel the pears and place in the stock syrup and the longer they are left in the better, allow to come to the boil. 
  3. Remove from the heat and leave the pears in the stock syrup.
Raspberry coulis/Strawberry coulis when I make this I usually use frozen as they are available all year round and can be quite inexpensive and then I would serve with fresh fruit of either. 

200g Berries
50g Castor Sugar
50ml Water
Juice of 1/2 Lime

Method:

  1. Put a small saucepan on the heat
  2. Add the water and sugar and allow to cook down to an almost light caramel colour 
  3. Then add the berries and stir well 
  4. Add the juice of the lime and allow to reduce
  5. Strain (Optional) and set aside

Now in the image I have a sugar basket this can be technical to make;
  1. You need to get a small saucepan and add 200g of castor sugar and just enough water to soak up the sugar and put on a high heat
  2. It should turn a light caramel after about 3 minutes and then without stirring gentle spin the saucepan to mix all together 
  3. There will be a slight burnt scent when you dip the base of the pan in cold water to cool down the caramel
  4. Then well oil the underside of a ladle and using a fork dip in the caramel and quickly flick over and back over the ladle (careful the caramel is about 200 degrees if you get in on your skin trust me it is very sore!)
  5. It cools very fast and then just carefully twist off the ladle
  6. If the caramel becomes to hard to use just put back on the heat and repeat the process

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Chocolate Fondant

This is a great recipe for a dinner party as most of the effort and time goes into the prep then all you have to do is  put it in the oven what could be easier? The finished product looks great and to finish off the dish you could serve it with some really good quality ice -cream or home-made ice-cream (I say good quality because, I have found that the cheaper ice-creams have a really sweet flavour and the moderately expensive ice-creams have a rich creamy taste.)

500g Unsalted Butter
2 Tsp Cocoa Powder (For Dusting)
50g Good Quality Chocolate (70% Cocoa)
1 Egg
1 egg Yolk
60g Castor Sugar
50g Plain Flour

Method:


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160/ gas mark 2-3
  2. butter to ramekins, dust liberally with cocoa powder
  3. Slowly melt the chocolate and butter over a ban marie
  4. Take off the heat and stir until smooth and combined, leave to cool for 10 Minutes
  5. Whisk the egg, the egg yolk and sugar until pale and thick
  6. Add the egg to the chocolate mixture and then fold in the flour
  7. Divide into two ramekins and bake for 12 Minutes.
*In the photo the chocolate fondant is served with; chocolate sauce, pistachio sauce, pistachio ice-cream and some lightly roasted pistachio nuts

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

What's for dinner? - Chicken and Roasted Baby Potatoes




This is a great dish with little washing up which is always a bonus. What you do is seal the chicken on a pan and put it on a roasting tray and add the sauce you made earlier and put the chicken in the oven. Most of the washing up will be done before the food goes in the oven leaving you with two roasting trays.
This recipe serves 4.


4 chicken fillets
10 mushrooms
5g castor sugar
Salt and pepper

Sauce;

Chopped tomatoes (2 tins)
Handful of fresh basil
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper 
1 tsp dried chillies

Method;

  1. Put a saucepan in a high heat
  2. Add the salt, pepper, sugar and basil to a saucepan
  3. After 3 minutes add the tomatoes 
  4. After 2 minutes add the chilies
  5. There is no need to add tomato puree to this sauce as it will reduce in the oven.
  6. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/ 190 degrees 
  7. Place the chicken on a roasting tray
  8. Add the sauce
  9. Cook for 20 minutes 

For the potatoes:

  1. Par boil some baby potatoes 
  2. Cut in half and colour on a grill pan with no oil at first
  3. When the pan is quite hot and the potatoes begin to colour add some oil
  4. Then place on a roasting tray and cover the base of the potatoes in chicken stock (optional) 
  5. Cook for 30 minutes at gas mark 5/ 190 degrees 

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Basics - Puff Pastry

Puff pastry is great for tarts, making gateaux mile feuille, or if you wanted to make tart tatin this is the recipe for you. It can be quite difficult to make and to be honest most restaurants will buy it in as home-made puff pastry can be unpredictable and most restaurants don't settle for anything less than perfect.

250g Plain Flour
250g Strong Flour
Pinch of Salt
300g Unsalted Butter
360ml Cold Water
1 Tsp Lemon Juice



Method:


  1. Place the two flours and salt in a bowl make a well and add the butter in cubes 
  2. Add cold water and lemon juice
  3. Mix to a dough keeping the margarine in cubes *(Mix til the dough has just come together no more!)
  4. Rest for 20 minutes in the fridge
  5. Flour the table and roll out into a ling rectangle, fold in three and rest in the fridge for 30 minuets
  6. Repeat 3 times ALTOGETHER resting each time
  7. For the final fold, fold the mixture like a book and roll together, now it is ready to use

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Pan Fried Haloumi Cheese With Crispy Salad Leaves And Aubergine Relish

I don't have many vegetarian dishes because i'm not a vegetarian and i don't really know any. But what few i have i will put up. This recipe would serve 2 or 3 (if you are going to have it as a main course i would say 2 as a starter 3)

250g Haloumi Cheese
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Cucumber
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Mixed Salad Leaves
1 Red Onion, Finely Sliced
Mint Leaves
4 Ripe Tomatoes, Chopped

Aubergine Relish:


Cumin
Lemon Juice
Chili Sauce
Curry Powder
1 Aubergine
Garlic
Brown Sugar

Method:

  1. Place the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, mint, parsley, and olives.
  4. Toss until the salad is evenly coated with the dressing.
  5. Place a large frying pan over a medium to high heat and add the olive oil.
  6. Cook the Haloumi slices for 1 minute on each side, or until golden.
  7. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.
  8. Divide the salad among four serving plates and top with the Haloumi slices.
  9. Relish: To make the relish, heat the oil in a large frying pan.
  10. Add the garlic and onion and cook gently for two to three minutes.
  11. Then add the curry powder, cumin and seasoning and cook for a further two minutes, before adding the Aubergine and cooking for a further five minutes, stirring often. Finally, add the lemon juice, chili sauce and brown sugar, cover and simmer over a gentle heat for 15 minutes.
  12. It is important to keep an eye on the relish as it should not be allowed to overcook and break up.
  13. When cooked, remove from the heat, cool, and store in the fridge until ready to use.



Saturday, 12 November 2011

Vegetable Soup

Woke up this morning to frost everywhere and even some ice in places, really cold winter weather which mean - soup. It was decided - take out the slow cooker and make some chicken and vegetable soup, let it slow cook for four hours and done, no fuss. This makes about 2 litres of soup.

1 Leek
2 Chicken Fillets
1 Carrot
Parsley
Salt and Pepper
1 Celery
1/2 Turnip
1 Litre of Chicken Stock (Homemade)

Method:
  1. Heat the slow cooker on high for 30 minutes.
  2. Add 10 g of butter and 15ml of boiling water to the cooker.
  3. Wait for 3 minutes and add the chopped vegetables.
  4. After 10 minutes add the chicken fillets. 
  5. Add 100g chicken stock.
  6. Cook for 40 minutes.
  7. Add the rest of the chicken stock.
  8. Cook for a further 90 minutes.
  9. Blitz with a hand blender.
  10. Correct the consistency and the seasoning.
  11. Serve with brown bread. 

Friday, 11 November 2011

What's for dinner? - Southern Fried Chicken with Roasted Red pepper and Chili cous cous

This dish was quite quick to prepare as for those of you who have cooked cous cous before will know it tajes no length at all.

200g cous cous
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1 Red Pepper
1 Red chili
Fresh herbs - basil, mint, coriander
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lime

Method:

  1. I began by pre-heating my oven for the chicken gas mark 6/ 200 degrees and I'm using a southern fried chicken breast from my local butcher but a frozen one from the supermarket will be fine.
  2. I have a gas cooker I don't know about you but the quickest was I find to roasting peppers is on the hob just turn on a ring and let the gas cook the pepper directly it doesn't soften as it would in the oven and you could put it in with the chicken but I want the smokey taste but I want the pepper to have a bite - it's up to you.
  3. Cook the cous cous I find the best way is add the dried cous cous to a large bowl then just covering it with boiling water and covering with cling film.
  4. When it's cooked just uncover and gently fork in a small amount of butter to loosen the cous cous
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and mix when the pepper is ready add this and the mixture to the cous cous and mix well 
  6. When the chicken is almost cooked 
  7. Put the cous cous on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and just cook gently in the oven just to heat it through
  8. Chop the chicken and assemble the dish
  9. Garnish with fresh herbs and enjoy!

Vegetable Tart


This isn't a typical vegetable tart, I wanted to make a chicken pie for the dinner so I took pastry from the freezer and when I got home, 8 hours later I realised I took out 2 pieces if puff pastry rather than 1 piece of puff pastry and 1 piece of shortcrust pastry. So I had to change my plans. I rolled out the pastry into a flan ring then I lined the centre with parchment paper and I attempted to keep the centre hollow by filling the ring with rice, it worked - surprisingly! So now I had what looked like a giant vol au vant without a top. Filled it with a cream sauce and vegetables and the vegetable tart was born.

This could do as a meal for a light lunch or a small dinner I served it as a vegetable side dish to chicken and potatoes and carrots. I'm only saying this as it would change your serving amount depending on what your using it for but as a vegetable accompaniment I'm going to say it serves 8.

600ml Milk
30g Butter
30g Flour
Salt and Pepper
80g Mature White Cheddar Grated
20ml of Cream (Optional)

Vegetables;

1/2 Red Pepper
1/4 of Broccoli (cut into small florets)
12 Mushrooms (Quartered)

Method;

  1. Prepare the vegetables
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour (if you didn't already know this is called a roux)
  3. Add the milk to the roux and whisk til smooth 
  4. This should thicken nicely then add the vegetables and simmer gently season and take off the heat
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees or gas mark 6
  6. The pastry roll it out and line a flan ring then line the centre with parchment paper and fill with rice (don't worry this will not have an effect on the rice you can use it as normal after) and cook for 15 minutes remove the rice dock the bottom of the pastry with a fork and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Add the vegetable mix to the tart case and top with some grated cheese if you want it will crisp up a bit when you put it back in the oven to cook 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Chicken Mousse

This dish is one of those you can make if you have the ingredients in your fridge; some cured ham; Chorizo or Parma ham, some chicken fillets, some fresh herbs and some salad leaves. This recipe would serve one.


2 Chicken Fillets
Fresh Basil/Oregano/Parsley
Dried Chili Flakes (Optional)
Salt and Pepper
Slices of Chorizo/Parma Ham
25ml Cream

Method:


  1. Heat a pan of water, bring to the boil.
  2. Start by pureeing a chicken fillet with the cream in a food processor and the herbs and the seasoning and the chili flakes, blitz to a smooth paste.
  3. Butterfly the other chicken fillet (make an incision on the thickest side of the fillet and slice 3/4 of the way through, it should resemble a butterfly)
  4. Flatten out by covering in cling film and using a meat hammer
  5. To assemble: place fresh cling film on a surface, layer with the chorizo/parma ham, place the chicken fillet on the meat and add the mousse filling. Turn up one side and pull the other side over and wrap tightly making sure both ends are secure. 
  6. Add the chicken to the water and cook for 25 minutes, check the internal temperature using a thermometer it should read 70 degrees instantly or 72 after 1 minute.
  7. To crisp up the outside, remove the cling film and place the chicken on a hot pan and add a little oil and just lightly brown the outside.
  8. Cut into three and serve with a simple side salad.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Brown Bread

This brown bread recipe can be altered if you want to add seeds you may just need to add a little extra buttermilk. This recipe makes 1 large loaf.


550g Coarse Whole Meal Flour       
100g Plain Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt  
2 Teaspoons Sugar
750ml Buttermilk               
25g Melted Butter
1 Teaspoon Bread Soda   

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees /Gas Mark 7.
  2. Heat a 2 litre loaf tin.
  3. Mix the flours, soda, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl; add the buttermilk and mix thoroughly to make a very wet mixture.
  4. Mix in the melted butter and turn into the hot tin, then bake in the hot oven for an hour, removing the tin for the last 10 minutes to allow to brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and turn the loaf onto a rack; wrap in a damp tea towel and leave to cool.
  6. If you can resist eating it immediately, allowing freshly baked bread to “settle” for an hour or two will make it easier to slice. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Winter!

Winter is my favourite season, people might say it was odd but its a season with rich hearty food, Christmas dinner, Christmas FM (which starts the end of November), winter weather that leads to hot chocolate and nice hot cups of tea. This year I am prepared, I bought snow boots as last year it was ridiculously cold. But what  I really love about winter, well Christmas is - Starbucks, I am addicted to coffee anyway but winter is the one time of the year I become a Starbucks addict - The Christmas Blend! The Christmas Blend has been a part of my Winter Survival kit ever since Starbucks came to Ireland, it wound't be winter or Christmas without it. Who doesn't love it with cinnamon and nutmeg undertones with that hint of vanilla - it is so rich and and yet is only available for a month of the year. So while it is there and the red cups are out, go on treat yourself to a taste of Christmas, they won't be around for long!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Seasoning

Seasoning is the key to getting a dish right. That is why you season the flour before browning the meat on a pan, it is why you put salt in the water for potatoes. Seasoning adds flavour, makes the food less bland. However, when you season your food before you eat it - it is kind of rude, unless you have made the food yourself and you already know how it tastes. You also risk over seasoning your food and then you are stuck. I know when I add seasoning it is always pepper, I love pepper but salt I would never add extra as if you add to much you are left with that bitter salt taste to the food. There is a fine line between perfect and ruined, so next time you go to add a little extra salt and pepper to your meal taste it first!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

Who doesn't love rhubarb and apple crumble? it so nice during the summer when the rhubarb is in season, the mix of sweet and sharp flavours is really nice. This should make 4 individual portions of crumble great with this wis some ice-cream or some whipped cream.


Rhubarb and Apple Crumble

Bunch Of Rhubarb
5 Large Cooking Apples
2 Granny Smith Apples

Method:

  1. Peel, core and quarter the apples and place them in a deep saucepan with castor sugar and allow to them to sauté and soften.
  2. Do the same with the rhubarb in a separate saucepan.
  3. As there is syrup as the sugar has caramelise there is no need grease the ramekins.
  4. Place a ladle full of the apple in the base and then a ladle of the rhubarb to cover.


For The Biscuit Top:

8 Digestive Biscuits
Handful Of Oat Flakes
Small Amount Of Butter Melted In The Microwave
Tablespoon Of Muscavado / Demerara Sugar

Method:

Place the biscuits in a sandwich bag and smash using a meat hammer or a saucepan (must faster), then place in a bowl with the oat flakes, the sugar and the butter mix well and place on top of the fruit mix just before heating – to heat just place in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute per crumble. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

What's For Dinner? - Jamie's Chicken

I hope you had a nice Halloween, I thought I would give you something filling and something easy as I am sure you need something like this after coming down from the sugar buzz.


This dish is known as Jamie's Chicken in my house as it originally came from a Jamie Oliver recipe I then altered to make it my own., there is noting wrong with Jamie's original recipe but I like to change things up and make them my own.

This is quite a cheap enough recipe to make as its uses chicken thighs which are quite a cheap cut of meat. In Superquinn for example you can buy a 12 piece pack of chicken thighs they call it family value for €4.99 now that is a deal! I would generally go 2-3 chicken thighs per person as there is not a lot of meat on them but there is a lot of flavour. This recipe would serve 4.

12 Chicken Thighs
12 Cherry Tomatoes
6 Fresh Basil Leaves
Salt and Pepper
500ml Boiling Water
1 Chicken Stock Pot

Method:


  1. I would first prep the chicken, remove the excess fat as it just stays as fat it doesn't crisp up
  2. Boil the kettle and measure a pint(568 ml) or 500ml of boiling water to a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot
  3. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200 degrees
  4. Put a griddle pan on a high heat and when it is hot about 2-3 minutes place the chicken skin side down just to get a nice colour, you don't need to add any oil as the fat of the skin of the chicken will melt. When there is a light brown colour on the skin side turn it over and just seal on the other side.
  5. Place the chicken on a roasting tray add the tomatoes and shred the basil leaves with your hands don't bother to chop it add the seasoning and for an optional extra some dried chili flakes give a slight kick to the dish.
  6. Add the boiling chicken stock and place in the oven for 1 hour - 90 mins.
  7. This is the difference between my recipe and Jamie's he doesn't brown the chicken he roasts it for 40 minutes I brown mine and then slow cook it for 90 minutes making the chicken succulent and so tender it falls off the bone. 
  8. I would serve this with potato either mash or fondant that way it is a simple dinner you don't have to watch over meaning you have time to do something else. 


Friday, 28 October 2011

Panna Cotta

This is an easy dessert to make and looks great this recipe should make 6, it will last up to 4 days in the fridge depending on the freshness of the cream and milk used of course.

1 Vanilla Pod
400ml Light Cream
(or you could use 300ml light cream, 100ml whole milk)
100g Castor Sugar
2 Gelatine Leaves

Method:


  1. Line 6 moulds with cling film
  2. Soak the gelatine leaves in COLD water (until soft)
  3. Pour the cream into a pot with the vanilla pod and the castor sugar
  4. Bring to the boil
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the vanilla pod
  6. Squeeze off the excess water from the gelatine
  7. Add the gelatine to the cream mix
  8. Strain and put into the cling moulds 
  9. Leave to set in the fridge for 2-4 hours
  10. You could serve with some fresh berries and some lemon shortbread, even some coulis alongside 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

What's For Dinner? - Chili Con Carne

I love making this dish, it is great if you have no time at all, it can be made the night before and to be honest it has more intense flavours if it is made in advance. You can edit the spices in it to make it hotter or milder, you can serve this with just boiled or steamed rice or with some cous-cous. As it is a night before dish it means you could bring this for your lunch, if you didn't have lunch facilities or if you want something more substantial. Serves 6


Chili Con Carne

1 Green Pepper
1 Red Pepper
3 Chillies
1 Red Onion
4lb Lean Steak Mince
1 Tin Of Red Kidney Beans
1 Tin Of Tomato Puree
1 Tin Of Chopped Tomatoes
Cumin (Ground)
Chilli Powder
Cayenne Powder
Basil
Oregano
Crushed Jalapenos (Optional)
Crushed Chillies (Optional)
Seasoning

Method:

  1. Dice the peppers and the onions and fry off in a large deep pan, when they are softened add the mince and cook throughout.
  2. Add the chillies (diced, de-seeded, cut carefully!!!) add the palm-ful of cumin, chilli powder, a pinch of cayenne, palmful of basil and oregano.
  3. Add the tin of tomatoes and the tomato puree, the kidney beans and allow to cook for 40 minutes at a medium temperature.
  4. Allow to marinade over-night, and serve with warm tortillas and a fresh leafy salad.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

What's For Dinner? - Spiced Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

This dish is is great, it really hearty food, full of flavour, and they way the meat is cooked means it just is so tender and comes so easily off the bone. This recipe would serve 4. With this i would serve mashed potato or the spinach and mustard mash.


Spiced Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

4 Lamb Shanks
1 Tsp Coriander Seeds
1 Small Dried Red Chilli / 2 Tsps Fresh Chilli
 1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary
1 Tsp Marjoram / Oregano
1 Tbsp Flour
1 Clove Of Garlic, Finely Chopped
1 Large Carrot, Quartered And Finely Sliced
6 Sticks Of Celery, Quartered And Finely Sliced
2 Medium-Large Onions, Quartered And Finely Chopped
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
170ml Dry White Wine
6 Anchovy Fillets
800g Tins Of Plum Tomatoes
1 Handful Of Fresh Basil, Marjoram, Flat Leaf Parsley Roughly Chopped

Method:

  1. Season the lamb with the sea salt and the black pepper.
  2. Smash the coriander seeds and dried chilli and mix with the chopped rosemary and dried marjoram.
  3. Roll the lamb in this mixture, pressing it in well.
  4. Dust the lamb with flour.
  5. Heat a casserole pan, add the oil, brown the meat on all sides then remove from the pan.
  6. Add the garlic, carrot, celery, onions and a pinch of salt and sweat them until softened.
  7. Add the balsamic vinegar and allow it to reduce to a syrup.
  8. Pour in the white wine and allow to simmer for 2 mins.
  9. Add the anchovies and then the tinned tomatoes, kept whole Shake the pan and return the lamb to it.
  10. Bring to the boil, put on the lid and simmer in the oven at 180 degrees / gas mark 5 for 1 ½ hours, then remove the lid and cook for a further half hour.
  11. Skim off any fat and taste for seasoning.
  12. Finally, stir in a handful or roughly chopped basil, marjoram and chopped flat leaf parsley.

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Basics - Chicken For Saute

Cutting up a chicken for saute is handy to know- its sometimes cheaper to buy a whole chicken for 6/7 even 8 euro and then cut it up, when you do you get: (13 pieces)
2 breasts
2 fillets
2 thighs
2 wing
2 drumstick
2 pieces of the crown
1 carcass

By getting a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself means you get a variety of means brown and white on the bone and off as well as the carcass and wing-lets you could use for making the chicken stock. In most shops/butchers 6 chicken fillets or 4 breasts of chicken will cost 6 euro if you buy a whole chicken you can reduce how much you spend on meat!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v7oH0QsSRE This video is from the Culinary Arts course in DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Knives

I'm just going to say this now and I wont say it again, although i know in this economic climate it isn't a time to just go out and buy new things. But your knives its makes prepping; even at home, chopping some vegetables much more difficult and time consuming if you don't have sharp knives. I have a selection of knives from ones that are well known brand from Global to Wushtoff to a generic brand that was on offer in a Supermarket. Yes the knives are made of different materials but if they aren't sharp they are pretty much useless!

To sharpen your knives I would tell you to buy a tone if you are in dire need other than that a steel should do just fine. I would sharpen my knives at least once a week depending on the usage, it also helps to give your knives a longer shelf life - if your cutting with a blunt knife you can risk chipping it and if its chipped badly you may not be able to get it back. If you injure yourself with a blunt knife it can be much more serious than with a  sharp knife, so to be safe - sharpen them!

If  I really need them sharpened I will head to my local butchers and leave them in to be sharpened, and as they told me "if it doesn't cost us anything, it won't cost you anything". But I don't know if everywhere offers the free service. That's it I said and I won't say it again.

Friday, 21 October 2011

What's For Dinner? - Meatballs



For todays dinner we have Meatballs in a chili and tomato sauce with wholewheat pasta. This sauce recipe isgreat you can make a large batch of this and freeze it, so you wouldn't have to make it the next time. It can be a bit spicy with the chili but don't worry you can change it to a plain tomatoe sauce if you want. This serves 4
Meatballs:
500g Good Quality Minced Beef
60g Mozarella Cheese
Salt and Papper
1/4 Of a Green Pepper Finely Chopped
1 Egg
Sauce:
1 Tin of Tomatoes
1 Tin of Tomatoes and Chili
Handful of Basil Leaves
Pinch of Sugar
Salt and Pepper
Optional:
Carrot
Onion
Peppers
Courgette
Method:
  1. Make the sauce first and let the flavours come together, heat a small saucepan and add the salt pepper and sugar and the basil leaves when they start to sizzle add the tin of tomatoes and allow to reduce, check the seasoning and leave to one side.
  2. For the meat balls make bite size pieces and roll in flour this hepls to keep them together on the pan.
  3. I like to cook mine in the oven at gas mark 6/200 degrees for about 40 minutes which means you don't have to watch them on the pan, when they are almost cooked about 30 minutes I add the sauce and I allow it to reduce for the final 10 minutes. When you have added your sauce you could cook your pasta that way everything s ready at the same time.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Cauliflower Soup

This soup is great during the winter when your hungry but not starving, it is a filling dish with great flavours. Serves 6-8


Cauliflower Soup:

3 large heads of cauliflower
1 small-medium white onion
Knob of butter
500ml-1 litre of chicken stock
Optional:
Curry powder

Method:

  1. Floret the cauliflower heads and place in a large saucepan with a knob of butter, the white onion and place on a tight fitting lid and allow to steam until the cauliflower is completely cooked – even overcooked. 
  2. When the cauliflower is cooked puree with a little chicken stock and pass through a fine strainer to eliminate the grainy texture and make it a much smoother soup.
  3. At this stage you can add the remainder of the chicken stock and return the soup to the heat.
  4. This soup it quite filling, the way the cauliflower is cooked retaining all of its nutrient and giving it a creamy consistency without adding the extra fat you can jazz it up a bit by adding an extra flavour to the mix you can add a tiny pinch of mild curry powder just to the individual serving and mix through creating a nice mix of flavours.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

What's for Dinner - Fillet Steak with Spinach and Mustard Mash, Green beans and Glazed Carrots

Yes before I start I admit it is fancy, but you deserve a treat every once in a while. This dish compliments itself really well and it quite quick to do - well depending on how well organised you are, how hungry you are (it makes a difference) and how you like your steak cooked.

With fillet beef treat it well, it's the best quality of beef you can get and if you have it nurture it don't attack it with a meat hammer!

1 Fillet of Beef
3 Turned Carrots
8 Green Beans
400g Mashed Potato
100g Spinach
15g Wholegrain Mustard
Salt and Pepper

Sauce;
80ml Red Wine
10g Butter
Salt and Pepper
Pinch Sugar

Method:


  1. Get the prep work out of the way, turn you carrots, top and tail the green beans. 
  2. Make the glaze by putting a pinch of sugar a small amount of water and some butter in the base of the pan and steam the vegetables, bear in mind the sugar will caramelise just don't let it burn. It is difficult to do glazed vegetables in a small quantity but I love a challenge! To cook the beans just cook in boiling salted water then place in ice water they can be heated with the carrots later.
  3. Mash combine the spinach, potatoes, seasoning and mustard and heat up before serving.
  4. Have a heavy based pan on high heat preferably a grill pan (that gives the nice grill lines to the steak)
  5. Season the steak and put it on.
  6. In another pan add the wine and allow to reduce, add the seasoning and the sugar, before serving add the butter to give extra richness, the wine should reduce well to a sticky jus (well reduced intense flavored sauce) 
  7. Finish cooking your steak, turn it over and finish in the oven please do not burn the bottom of the pan making a well done steak put the oven at gas mark 6/200 degrees and finish it in the oven for 10mins.

Plate up and enjoy!

I know what you are now thinking she doesn't have any carrots in her picture I know I got home and all the carrots were gone so i decided to quickly cook them on a grill pan with no oil just to soften them a bit, I chose; red pepper, green beans, mangetout and mushrooms.

Monday, 17 October 2011

What's For Dinner? - Lamb Burgers

I love burgers; they are a quick dinner, and tends to suit everyone. This could also be a good alternative to a Friday night take-away. In this recipe you can make your own substitutions; add lettuce, cheese, tomatoes to your burger (I like mine pretty plain, but with a side salad). In this recipe I have lamb burgers I bought from a quality butchers but sometimes I have the lamb mince in the freezer. This recipe serves 4.

4 Lamb Burgers
4 Baps (Plain or Wholewheat)
2 White Onions
2 Red Peppers
1/2 Cucumber
1 Carrot
8 Green Beans
1 Beetroot (Optional)
1 Green Pepper
Salad Leaves (I tend to use rocket and spinach leaves)
8 Maris Pipers Potatoes

Method:


  1. We are gonna start with the vegetables, reserve one of the red peppers to go with the sauteed onions for the burger.
  2. Chop the vegetables to the sizes you desire and add to a bowl with a small bit of fresh lemon juice, this keeps them fresh and adds some flavour when you add to the salad leaves later.
  3. Next prep the potatoes for the chips pre-heat the fryer to 150 degrees when the chips are cooked blanch them until they can be broken in half, they won't really turn brown as Maris pipers are specifically for chips. You can turn the fryer up to 180 later to finish cooking the chips.
  4. Now I have a George Foreman Grill, I don't know what you use, but I would start cooking the burgers now.
  5. While the grill is heat up slice the remaining red pepper and the onion, heat a pan at a high heat without oil at first and begin cooking the vegetables, season and add a little drizzle of oil and finish cooking. 
  6. Cook your burgers and finish cooking your chips while all of this is going on, heat some plates in the oven and get your salad ready, toast the baps and then begin assembling your plate. 
*The key to making a quick dinner is being organised, if you are any meal can become a quick meal but if you are dis-organised it not drags out the cooking time but can turn people off cooking altogether. 

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Basics - Beef Stock

Beef Stock:

1.5kg Beef Bones
200g Sliced Carrots
100g Chopped Onion
250ml White Wine
1 Celery Stalk Thinly Sliced
6 Tomatoes Peeled, De-seeded and Chopped
150g Button Mushrooms Thinly Sliced
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Bouquet Garni

Method:

  1. Brown the bones in the oven, add the carrots and the onion and cook for 5 mins in the oven. Remove and place in a large pot, remove fat from the roasting tray and de-glaze with white wine. Reduce by half and then add 3 litres of cold water and bring to the boil.
  2. Skim, simmer for 10 mins and then add the rest of the ingredients, simmer for 8 hours skimming regularly.
  3. Strain and reduce the stock by one third OR reduce by half for a glaze (which can then be added to sauces to enhance the flavour)

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Basics - Chicken Stock

My freezer is full of this, i use it all the time! for homemade; sauces soups even cooking rice or cous cous to get the added flavour. You don't have to use a chicken carcass you could always go and buy the cheap cuts such as the wing-lets and make a chicken stock from them. There is a difference in flavour between the homemade stock and the store bought. The latter tends to have more salt which isnt great for some dishes as when you add other ingredients it can become too salty.

Chicken Stock

1 Chicken Carcass
200g Carrots Sliced
2 White Leeks Sliced
1 Celery Stick
1 Onion
150g Button Mushrooms, Thinly Sliced (Optional)
Bouquet Garni

Method:
Put the chicken in a pot and add 2.5 litres of water, simmer for 5 mins and then skim, add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 4 hours, then allow to cool and strain

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Souffle

Soufflés have a reputation for being difficult this recipe is actually easy, it’s a cold soufflé which means the method is the rising part not the cooking in the oven and unlike the hot soufflé it won’t collapse! 

Cold Sweet Soufflé – Soufflé Milanaise

225g caster sugar
5 eggs – Separated
2 large lemons juiced and grated zest
28g leaf gelatin
280ml semi whipped cream

Method:

  1. Surround an 8 inch soufflé bowl with a high collar of double greaseproof paper, secure with string and set aside, soak the gelatin in cold water. place egg yolks, 113g sugar and lemon juice in a large steel bowl, whisk over a bath of hot water to reach ribbon stage, add the softened gelatin and whisk for a further 5 minutes taking care not to overheat as the eggs may scramble – the mixture should be double in volume.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool, whisking occasionally.
  3. Place the remaining sugar on a tray heat in a hot oven for 5 minutes, whisk egg whites and add hot sugar, continue whisking until a firm meringue is achieved and the mix is cold.
  4. Add half the meringue mix to the cream carefully avoiding splitting, fold the mix into the sabayon mix and finally add the remainder of the whites making sure that it is fully incorporated throughout.
  5. Fill lined moulds 1½ inches above the rim, chill and set.
  6. To serve remove paper collar, decorate accordingly, serve with an appropriately flavored sauce NB Variations of this recipe are possible and may include the use of alcohol in place of or with certain fruit types