11 Jul

Savoury Strawberry Salad – Ad

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) 

Ingredients 

  • 250g fresh strawberries, chopped 
  • 150g rocket 
  • 50g flaked almonds, toasted 

Dressing 

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • Fresh cracked black pepper 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 teaspoon honey 

Method 

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.  

10 Jul

Strawberry Pizza Pancakes – Ad

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) 

Ingredients 

  • 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. 

Method 

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! 

02 Jul

Sugar Free Strawberry Ice Pops – Ad

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

Method

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!

29 Mar

Ale Marinated Steak Recipe

By covering the beef in an ale marinade you make your steak incredibly tender with a wonderful sweet malt flavour. Read More

20 Sep

Roasted Tomato Pasta Recipe

It feels weird, to be writing recipes with a big race looming over me. I am obsessing about food in the days of the lead up to the race. I’ve found that easing off meat protein does help my stomach a little bit so I’ve started moving towards a more plant-based diet and move away from meat. Without my gallbladder I struggle to digest fatty proteins and certain sauces so it’s important for me to be careful with my meals so that I don’t end up in a bad way on a race day. This is one of my easy dinners because it’s so simple to make with minimal mess. Pasta and rice are my favourite carbohydrates the day before a race anyway so it fits the bill!

Saturday will mark my second half marathon this year and I’m hoping that I can at least better my first-ever time of 3:15:48. Even if I shave 48 seconds off that time I’ll come in under the cut-off time for the Dublin City Marathon. I’ve been training very hard the past couple of weeks, despite being laid low with a bad ear infection so I’m praying it all pays off on the day.

I’ll keep you posted!

Roasted Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes makes a delicious sauce and as an extra bonus, there’s no chopping in this simple vegan dish.

Ingredients

  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300g spaghetti

Method

Preheat your fan oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Take a heavy roasting dish and fill with the whole cherry tomatoes, cloves of garlic, and olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper, then stir. Roast in the oven for 20 mins, then turn the heat off but leave the dish in the oven while you cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the roasting dish with the tomatoes and garlic. Stir well so that the pasta is coated in the oil and roasted tomatoes. Serve immediately with fresh thyme or basil.

If you prefer a meat based protein with this dish you could top with fresh mozzarella or grilled chicken. For a vegan option roast the chickpeas with the tomatoes (this is my personal favourite).

10 Jul

Cod Parcel Recipe

Turning a classic style restaurant dish of fish in a parcel (or en papillote to give it the technical term) into a meal that all the family can enjoy either from the oven or the BBQ isn’t complicated.

The beauty of this meal is that you can serve the cod and vegetables inside of the parcel they are cooked in and this reduces the cleaning up. I was only discussing this at a cookery demonstration last weekend; how adapting recipes to suit your family means that all the generations can get involved in preparing dinner. I’m the first to admit I am a control-freak in the kitchen and part of that comes from my desire to nurture my gang. However, this completely sabotages my need to take it easy on myself. Meals that don’t have much preparation, cooking time, or clean up afterwards are my Holy Grail when it comes to spending time at the stove.

To show you that I’ve put my money where my mouth is… here’s a video I made of myself preparing the recipe so that you can see just how simple it is.

Read More

08 Jun

Honey Roasted Pork Recipe

It’s barbecue weather in our house at the moment. Well I say it is but actually the rest of the family are off playing in sunny gardens and eating barbecue food with my Parents-In-Law. I, however, am in the home office working away. I’ve reached that point in the day where I can’t think straight for too long and I’m flitting from task to task to try to keep on going.

The problem with Bank Holidays when you’re self-employed is that they aren’t technically a day off. I’ve had to cram as much work as I could into four days this week and hence I’m working late. That could be why I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed this week. It could also be down to the fact that I signed up for a half marathon next weekend; that impending Birthday, an exciting TV project, another food festival, or it could just be that I don’t have enough hours in the day.

Which is why easy and simple recipes are my go-to at the moment. I really don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen. There are restorative cuddles to be had with the boys, I want to catch up with himself, and if I’m stuck at the hob cooking away then I’m missing out. This is one of my recipes that I fall back on no matter what the weather. It’s perfect with comforting baked beans in the cold weather but goes just as well with a light salad and wraps in the Summer. Read More

31 Mar

Classic Roast Turkey

Roast dinners aren’t difficult, in fact they are probably the easiest meals that I cook. However, turkeys don’t come in small sizes, so making a classic roast turkey dinner requires you to set aside a decent amount of time to be in the house to keep an eye on your dinner. Which is, I suppose, why roast turkey is reserved for big family occasions such as Christmas and Easter in our house.

There’s much more meat on a turkey than on a chicken. You can feed far more people at dinner time, and of course that means that the leftovers are particularly bountiful the following day. As always, once your roast cools to room temperature, strip the meat away and freeze it for another meal, then get the carcass into the slow cooker to make a flavourful stock. Read More

15 Jan

Spanish Fried Rice with Turkey Recipe

Let’s talk about leftover cooked rice. I’ve found it’s impossible to cook a pot of rice and not have some leftovers. Particularly when I’m cooking for a gang, it’s difficult to calculate who will eat what quantities. Monday may be the day that the 6-year-old will eat it all and ask for leftovers, but it could also be the day he decides to refuse the dinner point-blank.

Did you know that cooked rice when left at room temperature can cause food poisoning? This is something I’m very aware of when I cook too much rice or cook it in advance of making a dish like this fried rice dinner.

The trick when using leftover rice is to cool it down immediately once you’ve cooked it through. In this house it means rinsing the rice in ice-cold water for a few minutes until it’s cold. Then I pack it into a sandwich bag and put the rice into the fridge straight away. When reheating, the rice has to be cooked to a high temperature, which is why something like fried rice made in a wok or large pan fits the bill perfectly. Read More

25 Sep

Mac & Cheese

Have you ever reached into the fridge and pulled out a carton of milk that is perhaps a day past it’s ‘best before’ date, and even though it smells okay you thought you should just pour it down the sink and be done with it? Providing your milk has been stored inside the fridge, and not on the door of the fridge (which is prone to temperature fluctuations), you are probably okay to cook with it.

The only way that I can combat the temptation to eat convenience food during the week is to plan ahead. There are weeks where I hate the planning and organisation; I really rail against the need to be methodical about what we’re going to eat. Then there are weeks where I have it licked.

Do I have it down to a fine art at this stage? Nope!

What I have learned to do is to cook more than 1 meal at a time. In other words I cook double quantities. A meal for now; a meal for another day. The pay off for cooking a family meal is that at another point in the future, I get a reprieve from cooking, with very little effort. Read More

19 Sep

Jam Buns Recipe

I’ve got a bit a lot of a strawberry jam glut here. Imagine that! I ran out of jam jars and space to store them in, leaving me with the jam in the bottom of the pan. It’s my moral obligation to make sure that the jam doesn’t go to waste so it might as well go to waist.

Daft puns aside.

If you’re going to eat something with sugar in it, eat a bun, not a cupcake. Based on my own expert (cough) visual inspections, a bun is about half the size of a cupcake. Meaning they are easier to portion and just eat the one. Cupcakes are lovely but flipping huge and a bun is just the right size. Read More

15 Jul

Potato Corn Soup Recipe – Ad

Potatoes are a staple part of our family diet, and so when Potato.ie aka “Potatoes More Than A Bit On The Side” got in touch to see would I be interested in designing a new recipe for all the family to enjoy it wasn’t a hard decision to take.

The past two weekends, while I’ve been doing cookery demonstrations with Lidl Ireland on the road, I continuously say that if you have a bag of spuds (potatoes) and a tray of eggs you’ll never go hungry. I say this because I’m trying to explain what it’s like to live as a family on a tight food budget and yet try to pack as many nutrients as you can into your daily diet.

That’s how essential potatoes are to planning my family’s meals for the week. At the moment there’s a bag of Pat Moore’s beautiful new potatoes in the kitchen which I used for this recipe. There’s also plenty of spuds at the allotment to be dug but there is no greater storage spot than nature’s larder (the ground) at the moment so they’ll stay there for a while longer.

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