Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spicy Roast Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup/Dal

Soup? Dal? whatever, its delicious

You know sometimes you just get it right? I wanted to make butternut squash soup and for some reason decided to use lentils to pad it out instead of potatoes or whatever. I go through phases of having cravings for rice and dal, and making industrial quantities of both, so it made sense to me to make this soup in the way that I would make dal: cooking the onions and spices separately and adding everything together at the end. I seriously hit on a winner. It looks beautiful as all the ingredients are yellow and the turmeric just increases the intense colour. Also, this was the tastiest soup ever (not counting my Nana's chicken soup, which I will blog come winter). Fenugreek and Asa foetida are new spices for me, I added them on Lu's recommendation, you could leave them out but I think they really gave it an extra kick and an authentically indian flavour. I don't think I will ever make butternut squash soup any other way again.

1 butternut squash
200 grams red or yellow lentils (I used a mix of both)
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3/4 pint vegetable stock
4 tablespoons Ghee (or 3 tblsp veg oil, 2 tbsps butter, but flavour will not be as good)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 3cm thick slice of ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder
1/4 teaspoon asa foetida powder

Begin by cutting the squash in half, removing the seeds, and placing an unpeeled clove of garlic into each of the cavities. Sprinkle with oil and season, and roast in a very hot oven for about 3/4 of an hour or until soft enough to scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Meanwhile,
wash the lentils well, place in a pot, cover and simmer them in about 3 times as much water along with the turmeric and ginger.

When the lentils are totally soft, discard the ginger. Remove the cooked squash from the oven, scoop out all the flesh and add it to the pot with the lentils and their remaining cooking water. Peel the roasted garlic cloves and add them in too. pour in the hot vegetable stock (you might not need the full amount of stock, depending on how much of the cooking water evaporated when you were cooking the lentils. It also depends on how thick you like your soup. I prefer mine a little on the thin side) Using a hand held stick blender, whizz up the lentil and squash mixture until it is smooth

Finely chop your onion and the two remaining garlic cloves. Heat the ghee in a small pan until really hot. Add the seeds first, and remove from the heat. They will darken and fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma. Then add the rest of the spices, followed by the onion and garlic. Cover the pot and gently saute the mixture until the onions are totally soft.

Bring the soup mixture to simmering point, and add the hot onions and spices infused oil. Stir until everything is incorporated, and serve.

Barbequed Salmon Parcels with Fresh Peas, Tarragon & Cream

Postman Pat would be proud!

Oooooh fresh peas in a pod - I just love these, reminds me of visiting my granny as a kid in the peak district in England. We go to a 'Pick Your Own' where we would pick our own raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries and peas. Mum used to joke that they should weigh us on the way out, and charge us for all we'd eaten while there....

I digress, because I'm in France not England

Here's a recipe

2 pieces of salmon
2 sprigs of tarragon

A good dash of cream

Salt & Pepper

Peas in a pod - 20 pods or so

Make a square of tinfoil, make it pretty large.
Place on your salmon, tarragon - and season. Sprinkle over your peas - fresh from the pod, add a dash of cream. Fold up the tinfoil to allow some air to circulate in and around the top of the fish. Barbeque for 10 mins. Carefully open the parcels.

This would also work wonderfully in a nice hot oven.
Eat with spuds, or bread and preferably sun, and some nice white wine or Brittany speciality - cider, think less Bulmers and more sparkling apple wine

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Barbequed Potatoes

A La Delahunty

Get a square of tinfoil, pop a little spud in there. Drizzle with olive oil, a grind of black pepper, and a dash of salt. Don't forget to prick the potatoes first. Wrap in tinfoil, and pop on the barbeque for 15-20 mins, till soft and delicious, serve with a little nob of butter.... so very, very good!

Ingredients Potatoes Salt Pepper Olive Oil Tinfoil

see the clever colour connection between the two pictures there.....?

Andouille Catastrophe (Tripe Sausage Bad)


We bought tripe sausage from the most well concealed shop in the Loire Valley.

It's very hard to find anywhere open to buy food on Sundays in France, I'd venture to say nearly impossible, so it was getting late on the Saturday and we were getting very worried that we may starve the following day. When we spotted a shop in a small town, given away only by a small crate of melons outside the door, and alone cat mewing.......
I tried to make a kind of stew I did not work out well The End Enjoy the pictures!

Hopeful Doubtful Yuck-ful

Mustard & Brandy Scallops

Get Scallops - throw in some brandy and some Dijon mustard onto the square of tinfoil, as well as some salt and pepper. Seal up your parcel and barbeque for ten mins on an medium heat. Dust in a little flour towards the end and mix around to make a super delicious gravy to dip your bread in. I have no idea how to cook scallops but this tasted pretty damn good These photos are terrible but I'll throw in one of sunflowers from the trip too to make up for it!

Artichokes al Fresco

We bought and artichoke and looked at it in confusion for several days, being in a field with no internet - how would we ever know what to do with it.

So I went for an easy option of wrapping it in
tinfoil, throwing in some butter and garlic and throwing it on the barbeque. After cutting away the stalk and the tops of the leaves, we cooked it for about 15-20 minutes. Then peeled ff the outside leaves, and nibbled the ends covered in butter, then took away the flowery parts in the centre to reveal a nicely cooked heart

Good guess work, now to find out how you're really supposed to cook them....

Lemon & Tarragon Barbecued Whiting

Fish in a Box

This is a quick and delicious way to prepare fish, the tarragon lightly infuses the meat as it cooks gently over a medium heat barbecue. The slices of lemon lend a subtle flavour, whilst preventing the fish from sticking to your grill or 'fish box'.
Gut your whiting, fill the cavity with some fresh tarragon and some slices of lemon - salt and pepper gently. Then place some other slices of lemon on either side and place into your 'fish box' This makes it so much easier to turn the fish and prevents fall apart.

Cooks in 10 -12 minutes.

Breakfast in France

Le Petit Dejeuner Galette

I didn't make this so maybe I shouldn't blog it, but it was a wonderful start to the day, delivered to me on a plate - I love holidays, thanks Delo.We ate a number of crepes and galettes while we were away, crepes are sweet, while galettes are savory and made with buckwheat flour. We bought these pre-made ones from the supermarket to play with back at the van. Often a galette comes with an egg on, the white quickly finds it way through the holes in the pancake and cooks while the yoke stay all gooey. Inside hidden away from sight are some nice little lardons (batons of bacon - see detail photo!) and some melty emmental. A grind of black pepper and a coffee and you're done.Also specialities in Brittany are creme de caramel au beurre salle, which is creme caramel made with salted butter, served on crepes with cooked apples or bananas and chantilly. There's always the classic lemon and sugar.

The best galletes we ate were in Roscoff and were just too delicious to photograph! Bacon with leeks fondue, the other had scallops with gratin vegetables, both were bursting with flavour and showed what a wide range of tastes and ingredients these little galletes can handle.... now I regret not taking a photo ah well, sometimes the moment is just too good to spoil

Friday, July 24, 2009

Aloo Gobi

This turned out very exotic - with left over cauliflower & garlic from France and potatoes from my Dads garden in Limerick. Well maybe exotic isn't quite the word for it...

Anyway - curry and potatoes are a match made in heaven and I was keen to use some of the fenugreek and asa foetida I had bought recently and not had a chance to experiment with yet.

1/2 head of cauliflower - cut into florets
4 potatoes medium cubed
4 cloves of garlic sliced thinly
Fresh chilli finely sliced to taste
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 table spoon of ghee (or use oil)
1 teaspoon of fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon of asa Foetida
1 teaspoon of medium masala curry powder
3 onions

Heat your ghee in a pan along with the mustard seeds when they start to pop add in your ground spices and stir for a minute, before adding in the onion and garlic and chilli. Cook until they are soft and translucent. Then add in your potato cubes and florets of cauliflower, add a dash of water to the pan, and then cover. Cook for 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick, until the potatoes are cooked and the cauliflower is cooked with still some bite left.

Serve with your favourite naan, spiced rice or dahl. Like this yummy tomato dahl. Sprig of rosemary was for photo purposes only!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sarah’s Stew

A hug in a bowl

This is also slightly French due to the amount of wine we added! Make lots of this as it tastes even better the next day.

Enough stewing beef for 4 people
2 tbsps flour
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 parsnips
6 carrots
about 20 small new potatoes with skins left on
1 bottle red plonk
1 pint beef stock
1 desert spoon worcester sauce
salt and pepper
1 desert spoon balsamic vinager
dried herbs
1 bay leaf

Toss the beef pieces in the flour and brown off in a large, deep pan, stiring vigourously to prevent the flour from sticking. Remove the browned meat from the pan, and add the onions and garlic. Cover and allow to sweat for 5 mins. While this is happening, chop the vegetables into similar sized pieces. Add all the veg and the meat back into the pan with the onions and garlic. Pour in the botte of red wine and the stock. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add some water. The liquid should almost cover all the other ingredients. Add a few grinds of pepper, the worcester sauce, vinegar and a few pinched of whatever dried herbs you have handy. Or you could add a bouquet garni of fresh herbs, left on the sprigs and tied together with string. This can then be removed once the stew is cooked. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Then cover and place in a hot oven for about 3 hours, or a cooler oven for 4 hours. More than enough time to go out for a nice walk/pint.

When you come back the house will smell amazing.

Tomato and Courgette Gratin

Vegetable gratin: do you see a theme developing here?

I know, more French food! Actually I didn't realise until just now that most of what I have been cooking has had a distinctly Gallic theme, ever since Lucy went to France. I must be subconsciously living vicariously through her through the medium of cookery. We definitely have some kind of psychic thing going on... how strange...

anyway, I went through a phase of making this recipe loads, and had kind of forgotten about it. Why, I don't know as its amazing and very easy. This particular combination is inspired by one of Delia Smith's recipes, but modified somewhat by me. Vege

table gratins take much less time to cook than potato gratins, and you can leave out the cream if you want to be good and replace it with a little olive oil. You can also use any combinations of vegetables you have lying around, I have used mushrooms, parsnips, peppers, broccoli, carrots, all with great success. Courgette and aubergines only work if you fry them first, as I have done below. Otherwise they go a bit slimy.

Serves 4

2 courgettes

6 tomatoes

1 clove garlic

dried basil or oregano

100 ml cream or 2 tbsps olive oil

Parmesan or white cheddar cheese to grate over

salt & pepper

Cut the garlic clove in half and rub all over the inside of a shallow oven proof dish. Grease the dish with olive oil. Slice the courgette and fry the slices in hot olive oil until browned both sides. Slice the tomatoes. Layer the cooked courgettes and raw tomatoes in overlapping rows, like roof tiles. You can also add some butter in amongst the veg slices for extra decadence but I try not to. Crush the garlic and flick it evenly over the vegetables. Pour the cream or olive oil over everything and top with a couple of hand fulls of grated cheese and salt and pepper. Bake in a medium over (about 250c) for half an hour or until golden brown and bubbly.

This is great served with a green salad and french bread, or as we did, as a side dish to a meat main course such as a casserole, stew, steak or chicken dish.

French Onion Soup

Cheesy soupy goodness

I came home early on saturday night from a rained out Oxegen (large and very wet music festival in Co.Kildare), feeling very tired, a little disgruntled, and slightly regretful that I didn’t persevere to see some of the great acts that were playing later on Saturday and on Sunday. Sarah was more hardcore and stayed until the bitter end of saturday night, and got even more soaked than I did.

Anyway, by the time Sunday came around we decided that we needed some serious comfort food. Clare Louise came round to help us eat three courses of wintery, stodgy goodness.

French Onion Soup
Serves 4
About 8 medium size onions
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp sugar
½ pint white wine
1 pint beef stock
1 tsp worcester sauce
1 small baguette
gruyere or white cheddar cheese

Peel the onions and chop them in half from root to stem. Then slice them thinly into semi-circles. Finely chop the garlic. Melt some butter and olive oil in a large pot and fry the onions and garlic with the sugar until everything has started to caramelise and turn a nice brown colour.

Add the wine and stock and simmer for about 40 mins on a low heat. Add Worcester sauce, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. When done, cut the baguette into slices, 2 or 3 per person and flash them quickly under the grill to toast on both sides. Grate the cheese. Ladel the hot soup into flameproof bowls and float the toast on top of the soup. Top the toast with the grated cheese and place under the hot grill until the cheese is melter and a bit bubbly. Serve with plenty of black pepper.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

French Toast

Breakfast of champions

Yes, I did feel like a treat this morning, and why not? Its sunday, and as an alternative to a big greasy fry, I decided that french toast with bacon was the order of the day. In my defence, I used honey instead of syrup... (like it makes a difference). This is a rare treat that is worth every single calorie.

Serves 2
4 thick slices crusty bread
2 eggs
6 sliced sreaky bacon
Honey, maple, or golden syrup

Beat the eggs in a shallow dish and season with a bit of salt & pepper. Coat the bread slices in the egg and fry in hot butter on both sides until golden brown. Meanwhile, grill the bacon until its crisp. Serve the whole thing drizzled with syrup or honey, and accompanied by milky coffee and the sunday papers. Heaven!


A lovely Pie for the 4th of July!

Its the 4th of July! I wanted to celebrate and what could be more american that Pizza!?
Ok, I know i should have gone for burgers or something, but after spending time in New York, I came to the conclusion that it was the Americans, not the Italians, who actually invented this dish.

This was my first ever attempt at making it, but I like to think Im a bit of a dab hand at baking with yeast, so I was looking forward to the challenge. Unfortunately, my photos didn't come out too well, and Lucy is off in France so I cant get her to work her designer's magic on them. Maybe we will update them when she gets back... anyway, the most important thing was that this tasted AMAZING and was a big hit with Colm, who pretty much lives on Pizza.

Thanks to Sarah's Mum, who unknowingly provided the recipe for the dough, but I halved it as there were only two of us. The quantities below will make one large pizza (or two small ones)

Pizza Dough
8 oz strong white flour ( or you could use half white, half wholemeal)
1 level teaspoon sugar
1 level teaspoon salt
1 egg
4 fl oz warm water
1 sachet easy blend yeast.

Blend all the dry ingredients in your food processor. Add the egg and warm water and mix using a dough hook. Keep the mixer on until the dough in soft and silky (alternatively knead it for about 10 mins until you get the same effect). Leave the dough in an oiled bowl, covered in cling film in a warm place until it had doubled in size.

while its rising make the sauce:

Tomato sauce:
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsps tomato puree
2 tsps oregano

Saute the garlic in some olive oil in a frying pan. Add the tomatoes, puree and oregano and simmer until the whole thing is reduced and thick.

Knock the dough down. You dont need to rise it a second time, but you could leave it in the fridge at this point for use later, which is what I did as Colm was running late!

Roll the dough out on a floured board and manipulate until it is about 1/4 and inch thick and the right size for your oven tray (I used a large rectangular one but you could use one of those round pizza tins). Make sure the tray is well greased with olive oil before you do this. If you like a thinner base you could do two and roll it out as thin as you can without making holes.

Spread the sauce over the dough and top with whatever you like best on a pizza. We did Cheddar cheese (because I couldn't get any mozzerella in the local centra) salami and black olives. Drizzle some olive oil over the whole thing and pop into a very hot oven for 10-15 mins.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shepherds Pie

Beef up the Security Pie

Right so long story short - a bad man got into our house, Delo saw him off. He didn't get anything. Then he came back again. Then Delo saw him off again.

So while the girls and Delo beefed up the security and I beefed us up a pie to calm our poor nerves. When our neighbours heard they brought us over a bottle of wine, so it all ended well.

Thanks Delo and thanks Shelia.

I added in some extras like leeks, carrots and a tin of broad beans, as pie for 2 became pie for 4 and then 5, and there was enough to go around. The beans really added an extra dimension, complemented well by the beef and the cheesy potato topping.


1 pound of beef (from Madina on Parnell St - where they minced it freshly before your eyes, nice to see it's fresh, not nice to hear the sound of it going through the mincer - eugh)
2 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic - crushed
2 tablespoons flour
2 carrots - cubed
1 leek - sliced 1 cm rings
1 tin of beans - whichever kind you think would work - I used broadbeans (red ones not green)
Stock/Stock Cube
5 large potatoes - boiled
Some milk
Some grated cheese (I used cheddar)
Salt & Pepper

Boil your carrots along with the skins until tender - remove carrots, discard skins and keep water for later.

Fry up the onion with the garlic for a few minutes until it starts to go tender. Then add in the leeks cook until the onions are translucent and the leeks are getting soft. Then add in the beef and cook until it all goes brown. Then add in the flour mix well, then sprinkle over your stock/stock cube, and add a dash of Lea & Perrins.
Combine the carrots and beans with the meat.

Use the water from the carrots to make the sauce - add a little at a time until you achieve your desired consistency. then simmer for a few minutes, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of your pan. Mash your potatoes with some milk, salt & pepper and half the cheese.

In a oven proof dish - layer the meat mixture on the bottom - top with the potato and then sprinkle with cheese. Bake at Gas Mark 7 for about 30-45 mins until it looks golden and crispy and wonderful. Serve with some green veg - to balance out the colours of your plate. Your break in worries will be a thing of the past...... ahhhh

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Baba Ganoush

Along the lines of hummous but with Baked Aubergine instead of chickpeas! The name always reminds me of a baby elephant for some reason, so healthy though it won't turn you into an elephant

2 Aubergines
1 serving spoon of tahini
Lemon juice

3 cloves garlic

Olive Oil

Score the skins of the aubergine and bake in a a hot oven for 30 mins. When cooked, cut in half, scoop out the insides and discard the skins. Pop mixture into a bowl along with the tahini, garlic, lemon juice, ad a small drop of olive oil, mix well and season.
Allow to cool before serving.

We served this with some freshly baked bread for dipping, some various cheese, meats and salad. We also served it alongside some hummous. As I said it was like hummous, not a replacement!!

And with this I bid you farewell for a few weeks, I'm off on my holidays to France in the van with the Mr Delo.
Lola will keep you updated in Ireland. I promise to write some recipes up while I'm over there, and hopefully have some beautiful sun-drenched pictures to go with them. They'll be coming from this little kitchen in this little van....

Baked Courgette Fritatta

In the hope of using up some of the leftover cheese and cream from after the fondue party I came across this recipe on seriouseats

I love it when a good plan comes together easily, and also my friend James was coming over, hurray

1 pound courgette (about 2 large) grated
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 talbespoons of cream (feel free to omit this for a healthier option - it will work perfectly fine)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7. Grate the courgette. Toss in a colander, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt on top. Let it drain for about 30 minutes. Run the courgette under the tap for a few seconds, to rinse off the salt. Dry it on a towel.

Whisk together the eggs in a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, curry powder, and the rest of the salt. Dump in the courgette. Stir well.

Pour the mixture into a 10 1/2 inch baking dish rubbed with oil. Pat the mixture down , until it is flat and smooth. Transfer to the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool for a few minutes, and then slice and serve.

The recipe suggested serving with tomato sauce, which would have been yum! We served it with salad, bread, hummous, baba ganoush, raclette cheese and some French saucisson, just cause that's what was knocking around.....

Cheese Fondue

Cheesy 80's Party

We haven’t thrown a party in a while now, so we combined it with our love of cheese and our love of the 80’s. Perfect.
Matthew's Cheese Cellar on Baggot Street is an amazing place for any cheese fan, highly recommended as the palace of cheese, with silver finishing, red carpet and the largest range of cheeses this side of the Brittany

½ block of Edam Cheese
(about 500g)
500g of Raclette Cheese
1 box of white wine

1 clove of garlic - skinned cut in half
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Grate all the cheese. Rub the cut side of the garlic all over the inside of the pan and discard - or use for salad dressing. Fill with about two glasses of wine - and heat the wine. Try not to let it boil.

When it's close to boiling, add in a handful of cheese. Stir well until it's smooth and lump free. Repeat a handful at a time, until you've Incorporated all the cheeese. Mine grew a bit thick so I added in more wine as I went, small amounts so that they combine easily. Add the lemon juice to cut through all that richness. Allow to reach a simmer and leave for two minutes.
Then serve, it's just that easy and far more decadent that I had expected. As dipping material we used small bite size pieces of ciabatta, cooked sausages, mortadella, other cooked sausages, steamed cauliflower and broccoli florets and then more French bread. I was expecting this to be wonderful as I am a huge fan of cheese, but it surpassed even my cheesiest dreams - oooooh baby! Just after we took this photo - another few people arrived and the whole pot was gone in less then 10 minutes, next time I'll make seconds I promise. We invited all our friends to bring some 80's food with them, Pam made some great little vol-o-vents, filled with creamy chicken, bacon & mushroom. Thanks Pam Also produced were in no particular order, Angel Delight, After 8's, Refreshers, Galtee Cheese, Ritz crackers, Ritz the 'perry', West Coast Cooler (mmmmm) Black Forest Gateaux, Cheese & Pineapple Hedgehogs, Tayto crisps, the richest chocolate cake ever - Thanks Guys

Then it just turned into a party-job done!