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!

17 Jun

Sweet Mac And Cheese

As a child I always believed that macaroni was a sweet pasta dish. I didn’t realise that the name of a past corresponds to a shape. My childhood macaroni was normally made with penne. Dad used to cook it in a double-boiler, it’s a type of bain marie. The pasta was slowly cooked in a custard sauce and it was rib-stickingly good. This kind of dish was never cooked in the Summer months, but I have great memories of many milk puddings when growing up. Rice, semolina (with a sinful spoon of jam in the middle), tapioca, and this mysterious macaroni.

Now I know that macaroni is a type of pasta, and that it’s incredibly popular with melted cheese. It’s also pretty good with bacon stirred into the cheese sauce. That elevates simple macaroni with cheese to a whole new level, particularly if you drop a little bit of sriracha into the cheese sauce.

Still it’s too flipping hot for heavy desserts in Dublin at the moment. We are in the middle of a warm “fug”; where the skies are quite grey, the air is extremely humid, and the temperature is tipping 20 degrees Celsius. For those not in the know, that my friends, is practically tropical where I live. June is known as the “strawberry month”, and as we have a lot of family birthdays to celebrate in the month of June, most cakes and treats incorporate the little red jewels in some manner or form. Read More

04 Jul

Eton Mess

There are days that I love nothing more than working in the kitchen on “oven watch”. These type of days are when I’m not stuck at my computer for hours on end, and the sun isn’t splitting the stones. Lately though, with the sunny weather and my two boys being that bit older all they want to do is to play out in the front garden with the big boys.

That’s all great, except we have an open garden system where we live and that means we don’t have gates that I can close to keep the boys safe and the road is very close to the house. So if the boys want to play outside then I have to be out with them. It kind of cramps my style when it comes to desserts and I’ve been revisiting some old no-cook favourites over the past couple of weeks.

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