Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spicy Curly Veggie Fries with Mint & Chive Dip

I discovered a nice new blog yesterday from fellow Dubliner, David - Kitchen 72, there are some nice recipes with a healthy bent. I read his recipe for carrot and feta salad with mint and harissa and decided that I would make this for my dinner. One hugely failed shopping trip later and I had half the ingredients - so I made this instead - it has carrots, harrisa and mint in too - same same but roasted!

Serves 2
2 Yams
1 Sweet potato
2 Large carrots (all cut into thin batons
1 Tablespoon of harissa
5 Cloves of garlic
Salt & pepper
A good dash of olive oil

For the dip (serves one)
2 Tablespoons of yogurt
A handful of chives (finely chopped)
A handful of mint (finely chopped)
A sprinkle of smoked paprika

Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 6. Toss all the fries ingredients well in a big baking tray - the thinner you can spread them apart from each other the crispier they’ll be. Bake on a high shelf for 45-50 minutes turning once or twice to ensure even crisping.

To make the sauce simply mix together the yogurt and herbs and sprinkle with a bit of paprika.  The spicy harissa is balanced out with the mint ad yogurt beautifully.

This dish would be great with baba-ganoush as a dip  - or roast breast of chicken on the bone  - or some grilled halloumi.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

Guest Chef no.5 - Jane Fitzgerald

Jane Fitzgerald is a mutual friend of both Lola and mine - we met her on the first day of college also, though not over a cigarette. She's a great cook, and prepared a fabulous dinner for us and a few other friends last Saturday. The entire meal was wonderful but the piece-de-resistance was an enormous Lemon Meringue Pie, it's size was matched only by how delicious it was.

She kindly agreed to share the recipe with us below, enjoy ......

Lemon meringue pie - a 50's housewife's piece de resistance. Don't be scared off by the long recipe, it'll be well worth the effort, and isn't too laborious if you have a food blender.

For the pastry:
4 oz (110 g) plain flour
pinch salt
2 oz (50 g) butter, at room temperature and cut up into dice - sized cubes
1 -2 tablespoons of water

For the filling:
grated zest (see my tip below!) and juice of 2 large lemons
3 level tablespoons cornflour
2 oz (50 g) golden caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
1½ oz (40 g) butter

For the meringue:
3 large egg whites
6 oz (175 g) golden caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Serves 6.

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C).

You will also need a 1 inch deep pie tin with sloping sides, measuring 7½ inch at the base and 9½ inch at the top. It helps if it's a nice dish as you'll be serving the pie in it.

Start by making the pastry. Sieve the flour and a pinch of salt into a large bowl. Then add the butter, cut into smallish lumps, and, using only your fingertips, lightly rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in some cold water – about 1 tablespoon. Knead the pastry, adding a few more drops of water until you have a smooth dough that will leave the bowl clean. Or if you're lucky enough to have a food processor, mix the butter, salt and flour together until it does the same thing, then add the water. If you have enough time, leave it wrapped up the fridge for half an hour as this makes it easier to roll out. This also gives you time to put your curlers in and do your nails for when your husband comes in from a hard day at the office.

Next, roll the pastry out to a circle about ½ inch larger all round than the rim of the tin and lay it out in the tin. Make sure not to leave any air under it, and press a fork around the entire rim so that the pastry doesn't come away from the tin as it cooks. Then prick the base all over with a fork. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the pastry case from the oven and immediately lower the heat to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C) for the meringue.

Now, for the filling, otherwise known as lemon curd (you can have anything left over for your toast in the morning!). Measure 10 fl oz (275 ml) cold water into a jug, and spoon the cornflour and sugar into a bowl. Add enough of the water to the cornflour to make a smooth paste, then pour the rest of the water, along with the grated lemon zest, into a small saucepan. A little tip here. If you have a hand held blender and hate zesting lemons, do this instead. Using a peeler, peel the lemons, taking care not to peel off too much pith, then put this in a hand held blender and whizz around. Hey presto - hassle free zest.

Bring the mixture in the saucepan to the boil, then pour it gradually on to the cornflour, mixing all the time until it is smooth. Now return the mixture to the saucepan and bring back to the boil, still mixing. Next, simmer very gently for about 1 minute, stirring all the time to prevent any lumps forming. Then remove the pan from the heat and beat in the egg yolks, lemon juice and, finally, the butter. Pour the lemon mixture into the pastry shell and spread it out evenly.

Finally, for the meringue, use a large, roomy bowl (or a blender) and whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Now whisk in a quarter of the sugar at a time, then spread the meringue to the very edge of the pastry rim with a spatula, so that it seals the edge completely. Use a spatula to smooth out the meringue, or add a few swirls. Cook in the oven on the centre shelf for 35 - 40 minutes, or until the meringue turns a golden beige, and is squishy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

I prefer to serve this luke warm, and all on its own.

It's a good thing that I'm salivating as I type!

This recipe is taken (mostly) from Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery
Course and Delia Smith’s Complete Illustrated Cookery Course.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Alex, a regular reader of this blog, asked me to post a recipe for Guacamole a long time ago. I made this ages ago and have only jut gotten around to blogging it...
Hope i can remember the recipe now!

Alex was also asking me where you can buy ripe avocados as she finds they are always too hard when she buys them. In my experience, this is just something you have to live with! Your best bet is to buy them 3 or 4 days before you need them, and then you can store ripe avocadies in the the fridge which will slow down their mushening process. Otherwise you can put the unripe avocados in a paper bag overnight with some ripe bananas and that should speed up the process.

2 very ripe avocados
1 clove garlic
1 red chilli
2 tbsps sour cream
1 lemon

Cut the avocados in half around the pip and pull the two sides apart. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon, making sure to scrape all the green goo near the skin off, this will make your guacamole a nice bright green colour rather than, say, the colour of an avocado bathroom set!

Mash the avocados in a bowl with the juice of the lemon until it is the consistency you like, not too lumpy Crush the garlic and add to the mixture, chop the chili finely an stir in (depending on how hot you like it, thinly use half and de seed it first!). Finally stir in the sour cream and serve!

I ate my guacamole in a tortilla wrap with some strips of steak that I marinated in lime juice and garlic before flash frying them. Also in there was some rocket leaves and some cherry tomatoes. Super yum!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Huevos Rancheros

Viva Mexico!

Apparently Mexico are doing pretty well in the World Cup right now... I have managed to not watch a single match so far... oops!

I figure most Irish people are behind Mexico, what with the green strips and beating France 2-0 an all... Also on this blog we seem to have developed a serious liking for Mexican food. So I decided to whip up some Huevos Rancheros this sunny Saturday morning. Perfect for brunch! They went down a treat and made us love Mexico even more, I'm now even contemplating a visit!

Serves 1 hungry person, or two not so hungry people. All quantities can be doubled or tripled depending on how many eggs you want for brekkie!

2 eggs
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 a red chili
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
2 flour tortillas

Start by making the tomato sauce. Chop the onions, garlic and chili (take out the seeds if you don't want it too hot!) and saute in some olive oil in a frying pan until the onions are soft and translucent. Then add the tin of tomatoes and stir everything together. Simmer for about 10 mins or until the sauce 'comes together'.

Push the sauce to one side of the pan and add a bit of olive oil to the exposed pan. break the eggs into this oil and fry them. Meanwhile, in another frying pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and heat up the tortillas, one at a time for 30 seconds on each side. When they are done and browned transfer them to a plate. by this time your eggs should be nearly done. Leave them sunny side up, even if, like me, you usually don't eat them like that. Place them on top of the tortillas and then top the eggs, covering the yolks with the hot sauce. This will cook the tops of the eggs.

Serve topped with some grated cheese if you like, or some pinto beans, or, like I did, a bit of avocado.

Muchos Yummios (sorry!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tahini honey oat cakes

Ta honey

These are lovely little biccies to have with your cup of tea, and they are pretty much guilt free as they contain no sugar, wheat, dairy, egg or butter! Also they only take 10 mins to bake and are super easy to prepare, being from the 'throw everything into a bowl and stir' family of recipes.

I love to have something sweet after my dinner and am trying a wheat free diet right now so these are pretty much a godsend and I know I will make them again and again.

6tbsps Tahini paste
1/2 cup runny honey
1/2 a cup toasted flaked almonds
1/2 a cup raisins
6 dates, chopped

Blend the tahini and honey in a bowl, then add all of the other ingredients and mix well.

Using a spoon, divide the mixture into cookie shaped heaps on a greased baking tray. This should make about 12. Bake at 180c for 10 mins. Let them cool a bit and them transfer them to a cooling rack so that they don't go soggy underneath. Be careful when transferring them as they are crumbly when they are still hot, but get more solid as they cool.

You could use different variations depending on what you have lying around your kitchen, I will definitely be trying these with some of the following:
-toasted sunflower seeds
-hazelnuts (or any other nuts for that matter)
-lemon zest & a bit of juice
-candied peel
-Maple syrup
-peanut butter + some vegetable oil in place of the tahini (with chocolate chips which would make it not healthy but pretty delicious)

Tahini on Foodista

Rainbow trout with herby salad

Wow, the weather today is fantastic AND I have a day off work! That never happens! So I went to the Phoenix Park and cycled around the park for 2 hours on my old lady raleigh bike, a massive sunny smile on my face listening to summery music on my ipod. Bliss!

After all that exertion I definitely needed something healthy but satisfying so I stopped in to Fresh and bought a nice fillet of rainbow trout.

The garden has gone into overdrive so I used a handful of mixed herbs to dress the accompanying salad. Fresh, zingy, healthy and delish!

For the fish:
2 sprigs dill
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fennell seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 glug olive oil

Mash the seeds with a pestle and mortar. Place the fish on a large piece of tin foil. Chop the garlic VERY thinly and sprinkle half it over the fish. Add the sprigs of dill and the ground seeds. Drizzle over the olive oil. Bake at 170c for 10 - 15 mins.

Meanwhile make the salad.
Get a large handful of whatever herbs you have to hand (I used dill, rocket, rosemary and sage but you could include parsley, chives, basil, coriander, whatever you have, really)

Chop the herbs very finely and place them in a bowl. To this add about 4 tbsps good oil and a squeeze of lemon, to taste ( roughly half a lemon), salt and pepper. This is a delicious fresh dressing which can be used on loads of different salads.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Deep Fill Leek, potato & Bacon Omlette

Lest I forget (completely) 
My photo archives show me some very tasty dishes I have cooked over the last year - but due to circumstances they never reached the pages of this blog in sufficient time - and I've forgotten how exactly how I made them, I have a good idea though. So no longer will these photos lie on my hard-drive unloved and unseen - the will be released onto the pages of our blog - and if anybody wants further details - just ask - and I'll do my best to remember!

Not a recipe
I guess I mandolin-ed  a few spuds – chopped some leek – cooked the leek in some butter with thyme and garlic – then added the spuds and cooked until they were soft. Then when this was all soft and golden and delicious – I whisked up some eggs with a little milk and seasoning  - then I chucked these over the leek and suds allowed to cook on the heat for a while. I probably then grated some cheese on top – then banged it under a hot grill which made it go all puffy and crisped the top,

Then I dressed some rocket leaves with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and shaved some parmesan and tomatoes. There appears to be some bacon in there too – that would have been fried up just before adding in the leeks I guess.There may well have been some chives in there  - or parsely

The one thing I remember for sure was – that is was delicious. Oh yes! It would have been a shame to let this recipe slide past just cause I’m forgetful

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thick Minestrone Soup

Mammy Minestrone

Yup so this is a minestrone I made with my mum while home over the bank holiday. I decided to make it when I saw how much lovely homegrown spinach that they had in their cupboard. Then I forgot to add it in - whoops- well it was still a great soup and a nice filling lunch that got me the whole way back to Dublin in the car without any belly rumbles.

 1 white onion finely diced
2 cloves of garlic finely sliced
6 fresh tomatoes (chopped, skinned if you like)
3 carrots diced
3 sticks of celery finely sliced
big bunch of green beans cut into whatever size pieces you like
1 tin of mixed beans
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
3 handfuls of dry pasta (whatever shapes you like)
1 sprig of thyme
1 bunch of parsley
1 pint of vegetable stock
A couple of handfuls of basil leaves

To Garnish 
freshly grated Parmesan
basil leaves
Fry your onion over a medium heat for two minutes before adding in the garlic. Cook until the onion begins to soften, then add in the diced carrots and celery. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Then add in the sprig of thyme, the bay leaf, tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften. Then stir in all the other ingredients, except the basil, mix well and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 12-14 minutes until the pasta shapes are cooked. Stir in the fresh basil just before serving and garnish with a few leaves and a generous grating of Parmesan. Enjoy with some nice brie and a glass of good red wine.

I only used about 1/2 litre of stock in this and it turned out very thick, so I recommended more stock in the recipe to make for a more liquid soup. I love cooking with my mum, she ways things like 'what'll I chop next?' and 'I'll get that from the garden' the perfect cooking partner

Thanks Mum!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pork and Chorizo Hash

Triple Pork Breakfast

Well it's not a fry - which is the traditional way of eating three types of pork first thing in the morning, I guess we could bill this as slightly healthier alternative, just! 
Serves 6

1 large white onion - Roughly diced
4 streaky rashers - thinly sliced
Fresh thyme
3 inches of chorizo - cubed finely
Left over pork - diced
1 red pepper - cubed
1 green pepper - cubed
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
4 large potatoes - cubes and cooked
3 cloves of garlic - finely sliced
left over corn
eggs for frying should you so desire!

In a hot pan - fry up your rashers some olive for a few minutes, then add in chorizo, cook until your rashers and chorizo are both a little crispy. Drain and put aside. Fry onion in a little of the oil left in the pan - which should have a nice red colour from chorizo. After two minutes add in the garlic, then fry until the onion is starting to turn transparent. Then add in your peppers and thyme, cook for another few minutes until they start to go tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients - and allow to re-heat. Gently turn the mixture every so often to ensure it all gets heated through properly. I like to allow it to stick to the pan a little producing nice little caramelised parts (others may call this burnt - I call it yummy!)

We served this with a fried egg on top - and some freshly chopped chives, and a nice apple chutney on the side. This is a great brunch/lunch/supper dish, really filling and satisfying. You could use any kind of left over pork, ham or chicken or corned beef, as well as combining with any left over cooked veg that you have.

This used up the leftover pork that the lovely Bord Bia sent us, Lola made it into the delicious Roast French Rack of Pork with Apple and Prune Stuffing  My mum used to make bubble and squeak - any recipes for that would be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Oven Baked Lamb Burgers in Mediterranean Sauce

Maybe more of stew than a sauce

This recipe was started off by catching a wiff of barbecued burgers in town whilst having a drink. So it was decided - some juicy tasty burgers for dinner - oh yes! We picked up all we needed on Mary Street, from the Asian food company - one of my favourite shops in town.
IngredientsFor the burgers
3/4 pound of minced lamb
1 white onion - finely diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
 a good grate of fresh nutmeg
2 tablespoons of ketchup
1 slice of bread - crumbed
For the sauce
3 mini aubergines (cause they're cute) finely sliced
1 white onion diced
3 cloves of garlic sliced finely
1 large green chili - seeds removed
1/2 red pepper - diced
1/2 yellow pepper - diced
1/2 courgette - diced
8 large tomatoes roughly chopped
1/2 litre vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Start by making the burgers. Basically mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl - you’ll have to use your hands for sure. Then form into 6 burger shapes, and place in an oven proof dish and refrigerate while you make the sauce.

For the sauce fry the aubergine in a  little olive oil until it starts to colour a little - add in the onion and some more oil if needed and cook for another few minutes before adding the garlic and chilli. After another few minutes add in the peppers and courgette. Cook these until the soften ever so slightly - then add in all your chopped tomatoes. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover until the tomatoes begin to beak apart. Then add in about 1/2 little of vegetable stock. Allow to simmer for a few minutes, then remove from the heat and pour over your burgers in an oven proof dish - the sauce should cover the burgers - remember it will cook down in the oven.

Bake at gas mark 6 for about an hour. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and some oven baked chips (ours turned out tasting of lemons, so Delo ran to the chipper - weekend boldness!) 

The burgers came out wonderfully moist and the vegetable mixture cooked down to produce a rich, sweet and dense sauce. I don’t want my burgers any other way! They would be equally as tasty with beef mince, I’d have added some harissa to the mixture if I’d had some to hand for sure. Endless variations possible here - with different vegetables and meats.  Tonight I’ll eat the leftovers in a fresh floury bap - looking forward to it already.