Take a banana malt milkshake with a side of cookies, then convert that into a cake. Read More
Did you know that a strawberry isn’t a true berry? You should store that little nugget of knowledge up for the next table quiz you’re at. True berries have their seeds held inside the fruit; a strawberry’s seeds are dotted along the outside with their characteristic little dot. This post has been sponsored by Bord Bia and if you’d like to get more information on how to celebrate strawberry season visit www.bordbia.ie/strawberries
My father in law sat down after dinner the other evening as he’d selected the best looking strawberry from the chip for dinner. With a little knife he gently lifted the seeds from outside the strawberry onto a piece of kitchen towel to dry. Every single seed will become a new strawberry plant with each delicate white flower on that plant resulting in a delicious strawberry. The life cycle continues.
Normally associated with sweet dishes I like to eat strawberries in my salads. I hesitate to add too many ingredients into a salad with strawberries as they can sometimes be overpowered. The strawberries are a seasonal treat and I really want their natural flavour to sing!
Savoury Strawberry Salad (serves 4)
- 250g fresh strawberries, chopped
- 150g rocket
- 50g flaked almonds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
Put the strawberries, rocket, and flaked almonds into a large bowl.
Put the dressing ingredients into a clean jam jar, put the lid on top to seal and shake the jar well.
Once all the dressing has been well combined, pour over the salad and serve immediately.
This salad goes perfectly with a fresh goats cheese or poached salmon with lemon.
It’s a battle sometimes to get the kids to eat enough portions of fruit and vegetables in a day. I find myself having to resort to using every single Mam-trick in the book to convince them to add an extra portion into the day.
They do however love strawberries and the beauty of this recipe is that the pancakes ‘look’ like a pizza but don’t have a savoury flavour at all.
This post has been sponsored by Bord Bia and if you’d like to get more information on how to celebrate strawberry season visit www.bordbia.ie/strawberries
My bigger problem though is making sure that the strawberries make it home from the shop without the kids snaffling them and munching them all on the way home. I’ve found this year that local strawberries need an extra day on the counter at room temperature to develop the perfect sweetness. I never keep my strawberries in the fridge because they are delicious when they aren’t chilled; the temperature they are when freshly picked is warm and that is the way they are meant to be eaten!
Strawberry Pizza Pancakes (serves 5)
- 250g (1 cup) plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bread soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 2 small-medium eggs (1 large egg should be fine either)
- 150ml buttermilk
- Optional 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying/greasing the pan.
Put the flour and bread soda into a large bowl and stir so that they’re combined. Make a well in the centre and crack in the 2 eggs, pour in the buttermilk (add the vanilla extract if using). Whisk until you have a batter. Don’t worry too much if you have small lumps, as these should disappear after the next stage.
Put the oil in a heavy, shallow non-stick frying pan (see notes on frying pan below). Before you put the pan on the heat, spread the oil over the surface. I like to use a little bit of kitchen paper for this. Next, put it on a medium heat and allow it to come to temperature. This takes about 5 minutes or so. Once the pan is hot, give the batter a second vigorous whisk and you should see those lumps disappear (or at worst get smaller, they’ll be gone completely in the cooking process don’t worry).
Using a ladle as a measure, pour 1 portion onto the frying pan. Once the bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancake, and the batter has changed colour from pale to slightly darker, flip the pancake using a non-stick spatula. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until the pancake turns golden on both sides. Lift and serve.
If you want to wait for all the pancakes to be cooked before serving, pop them onto a heat-proof plate and cover with a bit of baking parchment/tin foil, then a heavy tea towel to stop them from getting cold. Lift the “insulation” everytime you cook another batch to add to the pile.
Serve the pancakes with a generous spread of fresh yoghurt (whatever flavour you fancy), sliced strawberries, and some beautiful fresh mint which compliments the strawberries perfectly. There’s no need to sweeten this recipe; nature’s treats are sweet enough!
As soon as the new strawberries start to appear in the supermarket it’s a sure sign that Summer has arrived. Even if the weather doesn’t quite agree, there’s nothing like the sweet scent of strawberries wafting around the kitchen. This post has been sponsored by Bord Bia and if you’d like to get more information on how to celebrate strawberry season visit www.bordbia.ie/strawberries
I just can’t resist buying strawberries every week for the duration of the season. I know I’m luckier than many with one of the best local fruit farms in the country only 5 minutes down the road to get my produce from. Regardless of whether you buy your strawberries from the farm or supermarket, when you buy this fruit in season you can be guaranteed it’s local, hasn’t clocked up food miles, and they’ve not been long picked either.
Gone are the days where we can go to the local farm and pick our own, but there’s nothing stopping me getting the delicious strawberries as fresh as I possibly can. Picked early in the morning, before the sun gets too high, the punnets are ripe for collection by 10am.
This is a great sugar free recipe for strawberry ice pops that is very handy for introducing new foods and flavours to picky eaters. It’s also handy to use up a glut of the most flavourful fruit.
Ingredients (makes 6 ice pops)
- 200g fresh strawberries, chopped
- ½ mango, peeled and chopped
- 100ml fresh orange juice
Blitz the ingredients in a food processor/blender until you have a fine pulp. Carefully pour into ice pop molds.
Freeze for 3 hours at the top of your freezer before eating, although ideally overnight.
To get the ice pops out of their molds, dip each into a mug of warm water for 20 seconds before turning upside down (handle facing to the ground) and pulling the mold off upwards. This prevents any breakages/leaving the ice pop behind in the mold!
Recipe notes: As there is no sugar or sweetener added to this recipe it’s suitable for all ages from weaning (after 6 months). I have a good few of these ice pops on standby in the freezer because they’re far cheaper and better value than buying from the ice cream van. They can also count as 1 of your 7 a day portions of fruit and vegetables!
I admit, not everybody will have eaten lamb today; lamb is relatively expensive to bu!. I’d bet though that if you did buy lamb for your Easter Sunday roast, you really don’t want to throw away any of that precious meat. This leftover lamb pasta recipe is especially designed for the itty bitty pieces that don’t come away easily when carving. They are perfect shredded into the sauce, browned until caramelised and cling to the pasta in nutty morsels.
By covering the beef in an ale marinade you make your steak incredibly tender with a wonderful sweet malt flavour. Read More
I really love the fresh flavours in this salsa and I think that salsa is a great budget dish to offer guests to your home for celebrations. It promises fresh Summery flavours and I know (at the moment) the weather isn’t all that Summery at the moment. We can hope right? Read More
Week 1: Recipe 2
Make Once Eat Twice
Yesterday I made a braised beef with seasonal veg dish and using the leftovers I’ve now made a cottage pie.
I’ll keep it simple, because my recipes have to take little time in the kitchen. The only additional ingredients you will need are about 200g of frozen peas and sweetcorn, plus a small amount of grated cheese.
Shred the remaining beef from the previous meal and stir it into the leftover gravy.
Preheat your fan oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
Spoon the gravy and beef mixture into a large baking dish. Top with the frozen vegetables.
Spoon the leftover mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables and gravy mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, until all the food is warmed through and serve immediately.
If you want to, this meal is also perfect for freezing so once assembled, cover well and put straight into the freezer where it will keep for up to 1 month. Ensure it is completely defrosted before cooking in the oven.
Week 1: Recipe 1
Make Once Eat Twice
For the first in the recipe series I’ve gone back to a family favourite. Mam used to make this braised beef dish in a heavy casserole dish with a lid. The homely flavours come thanks to the veg that all comes from a local farm. It doesn’t get more Irish than this.
3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1kg housekeepers cut of beef (note remove any string or elastic before cooking)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1/2 small turnip (or swede) peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock (use hot water and 1 vegetable stock cube)
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
Mashed potatoes (make enough for 2 meals)
For the braised flavour you will need to sear the onions and the beef. So first grab your casserole dish, put it on a high heat and fry the onions in a teaspoon of vegetable oil until they turn brown/charred. Remove the onions from the dish and put them on a plate.
With the dish still on high, sear all sides of the beef so that it’s dark brown. Add the onions back to the dish, the rest of the vegetables, and then the stock. Cover the casserole dish and reduce the heat so that the stock is on a slow simmer. Cook for 3-4 hours. Note the stock should reach a maximum of halfway up the piece of beef, it should not be covered in the stock.
Adapted for the slow cooker: Fry the onions and then the beef in a frying pan before putting them into your slow cooker. Add the chopped vegetables, stock, put the lid on top and cook on high for 5-6 hours.
Before serving, remove the beef from the dish/slow cooker. Remember you have to keep half for your second dish tomorrow so it may be easier to cut it in half and cover now before serving dinner.
In a small cup mix 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour with a splash of cold water until you get a loose paste. With the vegetables and the stock still on the heat, quickly stir this paste into the mixture. It should thicken the mixture to a gravy instantly. Once again, half of this mixture is to be reserved for your second meal.
Serve the beef with the vegetables in gravy with mash on the side. I’ve served ours with buttered cabbage as I got some fresh from the farm yesterday and I love the vibrant colours.
One of the main reasons why I love this recipe so much is because all of the vegetables used here are Irish and in season. It makes it very budget friendly for what is a very frugal time of the year.
Cover the leftover food and chill the food when it reaches room temperature. I’ll have the second recipe for you tomorrow!
Take a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with a firm lid. Pour in the stock, soup mix and chopped vegetables and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, scallions and melted butter. Then slowly pour in the cold water in quarters. Stir the mixture with a fork and stop adding water when you have a stiff dough. Once the vegetables in the pot are cooked and tender, stir in the shredded ham. Shape the dough into small ping-pong sized balls. Sit them on top of the soup. Put the lid back on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a large spoon, gently turn the dough over and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Serve in large soup bowls and eat with a spoon.
Ham Soup With Dumplings
Take a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with a firm lid. Pour in the stock, soup mix and chopped vegetables and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, scallions and melted butter. Then slowly pour in the cold water in quarters. Stir the mixture with a fork and stop adding water when you have a stiff dough.
Once the vegetables in the pot are cooked and tender, stir in the shredded ham. Shape the dough into small ping-pong sized balls. Sit them on top of the soup. Put the lid back on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a large spoon, gently turn the dough over and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Serve in large soup bowls and eat with a spoon.
These malted milk treats have a beautiful fudgy flavour thanks to the malted milk powder that I use in the baking process. There are a couple of brand names if you’re looking to pick it up for yourself. The ones that are easiest to find in the supermarket are Ovaltine & Horlicks.
Allegedly, the malted milk that I like is used in a large Irish diner-style chain of restaurants for their malted milkshake. Ever wanted to make one yourself at home? Simply add a couple of tablespoons to some quality partially melted vanilla ice cream.
The first thing you could do with the malted milk is to include them in some food-themed gifts for Christmas.
That includes some fudge cookies in a jar inspired by The Pink Whisk:
Also some malted hot chocolate inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe from an old show of his. Both gifts will go down splendidly well.
What will be a huge hit though have been my malted milk malteaser cookies. As per usual with my cookies, the dough can be chilled in advance and baked within 3 days or frozen for up to a month before baking. This recipe makes approximately 20 large cookies which are chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside.
Ingredients Method Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof baking paper. Cream the milk extract, caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in the 2 eggs until fully combined then add the flour and baking powder and mix again. Finally crush the malteasers in your hands before stirring them into the cookie dough. Using a dessert spoon, spoon the mixture directly onto the tray, leaving a lot of space between each cookie. I normally bake only 4 on each tray so you will need to rotate your trays, however it’s rare you’d bake the whole batch all at once. That is, unless your step-daughter decides to stick her fingers in each of the cookies on one tray as soon as they come out of the oven. Ahem. Bake in the oven for between 9-12 minutes. As soon as they start to turn golden brown, remove the trays and leave the cookies on the baking paper for 10 minutes before gently moving with a spatula to a cooling rack. The cookies will keep for up to 7 days in a sealed container kept in a cool, dry location but honestly I’d refrigerate or freeze your dough and bake these cookies fresh.
make ahead cookies
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof baking paper.
Cream the milk extract, caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in the 2 eggs until fully combined then add the flour and baking powder and mix again. Finally crush the malteasers in your hands before stirring them into the cookie dough.
Using a dessert spoon, spoon the mixture directly onto the tray, leaving a lot of space between each cookie. I normally bake only 4 on each tray so you will need to rotate your trays, however it’s rare you’d bake the whole batch all at once. That is, unless your step-daughter decides to stick her fingers in each of the cookies on one tray as soon as they come out of the oven. Ahem.
Bake in the oven for between 9-12 minutes. As soon as they start to turn golden brown, remove the trays and leave the cookies on the baking paper for 10 minutes before gently moving with a spatula to a cooling rack. The cookies will keep for up to 7 days in a sealed container kept in a cool, dry location but honestly I’d refrigerate or freeze your dough and bake these cookies fresh.
It’s the season to love your brassicas. No it’s not a dirty word, it’s a family of vegetables. Included in these are the brussels sprout and this is what I did with some this week.