Monday, May 30, 2011

Vantastival Camper Van Cook Off

Van-tastic Fun

Vantastival is a camper and family friendly festival now in it's second year. It takes place on the gorgeous Dunanny Estate in lush county Louth, a gust away from the Irish Sea. The cook off sees 6 campervans competing to win the 2011 prize. This year's sponsors were Cully & Sully. Cully himself was down to do the judging, bringing along with him their chef Ivan, and also the Cheffactor 2010 winner Christine. Read about here experiences at Ballymaloe here.
Some of the finished dishes

The ingredients for the 45 minute cook off included Minced beef, green pepper, chick peas, onion, chili, chopped tomatoes, wild garlic, rice, black pudding, brie, cream & a banana. All teams could use a few store cupboard ingredients from their van cupboards. The brief was to produce two dishes, but all vans turned out three in the allotted time. 

Ivan gets comfy
Disco Dinner
Christine finds one of the entries hilarious
Well done to all the great chefs who could well under the baking hot sun and in front of the huge crowd that grew around them hungrily licking their lips. 
Did someone say dinner?

The judges get down to some hard work

The winners
The festival was such a success that it's back on the calendar for 2012, so if you're looking for a great family festival that has great music come on down to Dunanny. Or better still beg/borrow/steal a campervan and see if you can be crowned champion for 2012!

Like I said family friendly!
That'll be me
And a big thanks to Delo for the amazing photos! 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chana Masala

Guest Chef No 10 - Ferdia McLoughlin

Let me present the glorious Ferdia McLoughlin who catered for up to 80 people using only beer kegs, an open fire and his manly prowess.  Well I lie, there was a gas hob as well as an open fire.

Ferdia catered for the staff and crew of Vantastival, which is a great family and campervan friendly festival located on Dunanny Estate in Co Louth. The sun was splitting the rocks all weekend, and a great time was had by all. There was music, dancing, bouncy castles, a campervan cook-off (post on this to follow) a scrap heap challenge and hidden midnight surprises in the woods.

Ferdia kept the crew well fed all weekend. I popped my head in to say hi and chop the occasional onion. His cooking gear was manufactured by the creative crew from old beer kegs - sure why not! Even including the big stirring spoon.

One outstandingly tasty dish that made it's way out of this multicoloured tent was Chana Masala. Ferdia spent a year in travelling/cycling in India. He makes some amazing Indian dishes with a great understanding of all the spices and ethnic nuances.

This recipe was written for 80 portions - Ferdia kindly scaled it down to serve 6

2 onions - diced
1 clove of garlic
3 teaspoons of corriander seeds
2 teaspoons of cumin
1/2 tsp of paprika
1 teaspoon of turmeric
200g of tinned tomatoes
800g of tinned chickpeas - drained
1 teaspoon of tamarind paste disolved in cup of water
3 teaspoons of amchoor powder
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1.2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
3 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 chili
1 teaspoon ginger
100 ml of cream

1) Fry onions.
2) Add in corriander, cumin, paprika & turmeric.
3) Add in tomatoes, cook for a few miutes before adding in the chickpeas, tamarind including the water.
4) Add in the rest of the spices, bring to simmer cover and cook for 10 mins.
5) Uncover and cook for a further 30 mins
6) Remove from the heat and stir in the cream before serving over boiled rice.
7) Enjoy in the County Louth sun
For a lighter option use low fat yogurt instead of cream
What a guy!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lamb Madras

No speel just one hugely yummy recipe. I learnt this recipe on the Cooks Academy Certificate course - it's really good, especially the next day. Worth considering if you're cooking for a dinner party reduce the stress on the day in question.
 Serves 6
Sunflower Oil for frying
1kg of diced lamb - trim off excess fat
2 big onions 0 diced
4 large cloves of garlic crushed
1-2 tablespoons of fresh root ginger grated
1 handful of coriander roots - chopped
400g / 1 tin of tomatoes
1 pint good chicken stock
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon of curry powder (depending on strength and taste)
1/2 tablespoon of ground coriander
2 tsp of cardamon pods - seeds removed and ground in a pestle and mortar (or a spice grinder if you have one - please santa - hint hint!)
a big bunch of fresh coriander roughly chopped

1) Brown of the lamb in the sunflower oil. Do in batches and set aside.
2) Sweat the onion off for a few minutes after you have finished the lamb.
3) When the onion has gone clear, add in the garlic, ginger, spices and coriander stalks. Cook out the ground spices for a few minutes stirring constantly.
4) Then add in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Cook for 10 minutes.
5) Liquidise the mixture with a stick blender.
6) Return the lamb to the pan and bring to a gently simmer. Cover and cook for 1.5 hours - 2 hours depending on the size and quality of your lamb.
7) Serve with rice or naan and some nice homemade chutney - or Sharwoods mango chutney. That stuff is like crack cocaine for me honestly can't get enough of the stuff.

I made my own naans for this recipe - but the recipe is not quite perfect so I'll wait till it is before I post one. If anyone has any good naan recipes they'd like to share that would be great. I also served it with a spiced vegetable and lentil dish and rice.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thyme & Tallegio Potatoes with Ham

A Side Tasty Enough for a Main

You know those dishes that are meant to be a side but are so good you could just eat a large plate full by itself. Macaroni Cheese is often listed as a side in American diners, where as I could happily eat it all on it's own.

Tallegio is a wonderful rich, moist, oozy Italian cheese. It's a washed rind cow's cheese. I still don't like to use much of the rind - some of it, but not all. Totally up to you though. It goes beautifully with cooked ham and melts over the hot pan fried potatoes, to create a gooey decadent potato dish, to die for. I exaggerate not.
Serves 2 as a large side
5 large new potatoes
4 sprigs of thyme stalk removed
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 onion sliced finely
Tallegio (as much as you'll allow yourself to eat in one sitting)
Leftover cooked ham (leftover chicken would also be nice) 

1) In a large saucepan fry up your onion over a medium heat with some olive oil and a small knob of butter, until approaching translucent but not quite there. 
2) Add in your potatoes, thyme, seasoning and garlic. Cover the pan and cook over a medium to low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 of those mins pop in the ham to warm through.
3)Now the secret to getting some of the lovely deep flavour into this dish involves getting some nice brown areas on your potatoes and onions. If your mixture at this point appears slightly anemic, whack up the heat and allow to stick a little to the pan before mixing around. 
4) Break your amazing cheese into bite size lumps. Sit on top of the dish - allow to stand for a few minutes and then the cheese should have melted all round the gorgeous browned potatoes and you're  done.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm very sad that I no longer have the ingredients for this in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Celeriac & Potato Rosti

Another Brunch Recipe
It appears that of late I'm writing a lot of brunch recipes. Maybe that seems more romantic than calling them light dinners for one - which is what they are!

So celeriac is a pretty ugly vegetable, maybe that's why I have never cooked with it much. Generally it's treated in a similar manner to a potato. That's where the idea came for combining the two in a lovely rosti.

I won't lie this fell apart slightly when I flipped it over - still tastes great and works really nicely with the poached egg and baby rocket from my balcony.

Ingredients - Serves 1
1/4 of a head of celeriac - outer skin removed and grated
2 small potatoes - grated
Pinch of thyme finely chopped
1 egg yolk

To Serve
baby spinach or rocket
1 poached egg

Pop the grated potato and celeriac into a clean tea towel. Push it all into the centre and then cover with the teatowel. Give it a really good squeeze to push out the excess moisture. Put into a large bowl add the thyme, egg yolk and seasoning. Mix thoroughly.

Heat a small amount of olive oil over a medium heat in a non stick pan. Spoon the mixture onto the pan into whatever size you want. I think mine were however too large, making it harder to flip over. You want to keep them pretty thin so that they'll cook right through. Press down firmly with a spatula. Give them about 3-4 mins on each side until a rich golden brown.

Serve with a poached egg sitting on top of some fresh baby rocket or spinach. My secret to perfect poached eggs (well I'd say good not perfect) First really fresh eggs. Secondly when your water reaches a good strong boil, twirl the water in the pan to create a mini vortex. Pull the pan off the heat. Then gently slide the egg into the spinning water from a cup. The movement of the water will keep the egg white together in a natural shape and will stop it from spreading out and getting thin. Always drain the egg well on kitchen towel to avoid soggy bread/rosti.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Rhubarb & Ginger Compote, with Honey Pecan Granola & Strawberry Yogurt Pots

Dashing Dessert Breakfast
Looking for a breakfast that tastes as good as a dessert. That packs a nutritional punch, with some great healthy fats and a good whack of protein and calcium. Then look not further. If all that nutritional waffle has put you off - do not be deterred! These are super yummy, pretty snacks that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.

Granola is an old favorite of mine - perfect start to the day with fruit and yogurt. I have three recipes here, here and here. To this one I added a good handful of crushed pecan nuts, desiccated coconut, a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a tablespoon of honey

Returning shame faced after a run in the park I tucked into one of these. Some lovely army men were doing maneuvers in the park. They promptly all sprinted passed me, they were however in full gear and carrying huge backpacks. Ah well - what can you do. I was carrying a set of keys!

Ingredients - Makes 6 portions
Rhubarb Compote
4 stems of rhubarb - cut into 3cm chunks
3cm of fresh ginger grated finely
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

750 ml of yogurt - I used Glenisk
1 punnet of strawberries
1 jar of granola (links for recipe above)

Pre-heat oven to 150c

To make the compote mix together the rhubarb, ginger and sugar in a small oven proof dish. Cover and pop in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft. Allow to cool.

Get glass ramekins, wineglasses or any small containers you have that are made of glass. Cut strawberries length ways in 1/4 cm slices. Push them up against the side of the glass to show the cut side out. Then layer in alternate layers of yogurt, compote and granola. Finish with a layer of granola.

Serve and enjoy. There are lots of alternative fruits you cold use such as blackberries, apple, mango or raspberries. Feel free to use other flavored yogurt, or make your own by stirring the compote through a whole pot of yogurt.