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


  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


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


  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


  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:

Lemon Juice
Chili Sauce
Curry Powder
1 Aubergine
Brown Sugar


  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
Salt and Pepper
1 Celery
1/2 Turnip
1 Litre of Chicken Stock (Homemade)

  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


  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)


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


  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


  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   


  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 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 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


  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


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


  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.