Sunday, 25 September 2016

Prawn, Pea and Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is my favourite dish of all time. 
I wish my body would allow me to eat this everyday of the week. 
It is pure comfort in a bowl. 
Carbohydrate heaven. 

Once you master the basic elements of the risotto they are so many combinations of flavours that you can experiment with. 

50g butter
1 teasp. olive oil 
1 onion 
1 garlic clove 
200g risotto rice (arborio) 
1 glass of dry white wine (chardonnay) 
Salt and pepper

500-600ml hot chicken stock 
Fresh prawns (10-12) 
50g frozen peas 
Asparagus stalks (8) 
50g butter 
75g parmesan cheese 

Place the chicken stock in a pot and allow to simmer gently.

Finely dice the onion and garlic. Melt the butter in a pot with a little olive oil. 
Sweat the onion on a low heat and cover with a lid. Allow the onion and garlic to soften but not colour for 5-6minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 
Watch carefully to avoid burning.  

Add in the arborio rice and allow it to coat in the onions. Cook on a medium heat for 1-2minutes. 
Pour in the glass of white wine and allow the rice to bubble and absorb the wine. Ladle in the hot chicken stock and allow to absorb while continually stirring. Continue adding stock every few minutes until the rice is almost tender (12-15minutes of cooking). 
Boil a separate pot of water and add salt. Cook the asparagus for 4-5minutes until tender. Toss in the prawns and peas and cook until the prawns change colour (1-2mins). 

Taste the rice to ensure it still has a little bite. Add in the 50g butter and allow to melt in. 
Add in half of the parmesan cheese. Check and correct seasoning. 
Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls with the asparagus stalks on top. 
Finish with some more parmesan cheese on top. 
Serve immediately. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Homemade Tagliatelle in a spicy sausage & pea sauce

Homemade Pasta - a labour of love.

Once you've tried making homemade pasta you will seriously consider making it more often, or least for a special occasion. 
Pasta machines are now available nationwide with LIDL, homestore and more, Debehams carrying a range for a fraction of their once high cost. I got my Jamie Oliver pasta machine in Debenhams for €25 and it is a kitchen essential for me. 

This wholesome dish makes plenty for four adults. It is a light spicy sauce that works well for a fancy midweek supper or is very handy for a tasty work lunchbox. 

The pasta speaks volumes in this dish. 

200g 00 flour 
1 egg 
3 egg yolks 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon olive oil 
50g semolina 

1 tbsp. Oil 
20g butter
1 onion 
2 garlic cloves 
15 cherry tomatoes 
2 sausages (remove skins)  
50g frozen peas 
1 glass of white wine 
1 tbsp. tabasco 
1/2 teasp. paprika 
1 tbsp. tomato puree 
Salt & pepper 

Parmesan cheese to garnish 

In a food processor blitz together the 00 flour, olive oil, salt, 1 egg and 3 egg yolks to form a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 10minutes. 

Finely dice the onion and garlic. 
Remove the sausage skin and leave the meat to one side. Half the cherry tomatoes. 
Heat the oil and butter in a pan and gently sweat the onion and garlic together. 
Add in the sausage meat and cook through. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika, tabasco and white wine and cook to a simmer. Add in the peas and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Season the sauce to taste. 

Bring a large pot of water to the boil with 5 pints of water and 1 teaspoon salt. 

Using the pasta machine, roll out 1/2 of the dough first on each setting (1-7) 3 times on each setting, until smooth. Continue to roll the pasta through the machine until thin and smooth. Toss a little semolina onto the flat sheet of pasta before running though the tagliatelle cutter. 
Toss the cut pasta tagliatelle into the semolina and leave to one-side to dry out a little before cooking.
Continue till all the pasta is cut. 

Once the water is boiling add the pasta and cook until al dente (2-3minutes). 

Transfer the cooked pasta into the sauce and toss to coat in the sauce. Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of pasta water to help with the sauce. 

Serve in warmed bowls with plenty of grated parmesan on top. 

Beautiful simple food at its best. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Lamb Tacos with Tomato & Pineapple salsa and Lemon yoghurt

So how lucky I am to have won a jammy Weber BBQ with TodayFm and Bord Bia for simply dishing up this - Winner winner Lamb Taco Recipe! 

Way back in August this Summer I heard of a competition on TodayFm with Anton Savage along with Bord Bia where they were looking for people to submit their favourite lamb dishes. 
Naturally I jumped at this opportunity as I have so many recipes using lamb from my time in Ballymaloe. 
I must admit previous to Ballymaloe I rarely ever ate lamb. I didn't appreciate the flavour or understand exactly how versatile a meat it can be. I also previously thought it was just a meat used at Easter and cooked for a Sunday roast. 

This recipe uses leg of lamb to make the most tender, moist, sweet and juicy tacos that will pack a serious punch. Making the tacos is optional but I really enjoyed making them from scratch. I've experimented since and introduced tomato puree and rosemary into them to add an extra kick of flavour. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe and if you try them out do let me! 

Lamb marinade:
500g boneless leg of lamb
1 lime (juiced)
1 green chilli
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt & freshly ground pepper

450g plain flour
1 dessertspoon salt
75g butter
225ml warm water (body temp)

3 ripe tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1/2 red chilli
1 avocado
1 small pineapple
2 tbsp. fresh coriander
2 limes
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste

Yoghurt dressing:
100ml plain greek yoghurt
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
salt & freshly ground pepper

Spring onions,
Lime wedges

Combine the finely chopped green chilli, garlic and coriander, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper and cumin in a large resealable bag. Add the lamb pieces and toss to coat. Marinate for at least 1hr or ideally overnight.

Sieve the flour and salt together in a bowl and rub in the butter. Add in the warm water slowly to make a sticky dough. Knead the dough on a floured board until it is smooth and no longer sticky. Keep the dough covered with a warm damp cloth.
Take approx. 25g pieces of the dough at a time and knead, folding it back on itself to trap in air. Make a ball and flatten it. Place the flattened ball on a floured board and roll it out with a floured rolling pin until very thin.
Roll into 6-7 inch rounds.
Heat a frying pan until nearly smoking hot and slap a tortilla straight onto the pan, cook for 30-45seconds on one side and turn over and cook for a further 30-45seconds. Cover with a warm tea towel and keep in a low oven (less than 60ºC) to keep them warm.

Roast the garlic clove in a dry frying pan until the skin is darkened. Remove the garlic clove and crush using sea salt to a paste. Peel the tomatoes by scoring the bottom of them with a X and then placing them in boiling water for 1minute and plunging them into ice cold water.
Peel off skin and slice them into chunky pieces for the salsa.
Mix in the garlic paste with the tomatoes, squeeze in juice of 1 lime, roughly chopped coriander and finely chopped red chilli. Peel and dice the pineapple into small cube seized pieces. Slice the avocado just before serving and add to the salsa. Season to taste and mix up.

Lemon yoghurt: finely grate one lemon and juice of 1/2 a lemon and mix into the greek yoghurt. Season to taste.

Heat a frying pan with a little olive oil. Remove the meat from the marinade and fry in batches over a high heat until cooked.
Assemble tacos by placing hot lamb onto the warm taco, cover with some fresh salsa and drizzle with the lemon yoghurt dressing.
Scatter finely chopped onions and radishes over and serve alongside some lime wedges.

The Weber BBQ - Thank you TodayFm and Bord Bia! 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Roast Butternut Squash Soup

I love soups. There are so many different options to choose from. The most beautiful soups are made quickly and with minimal ingredients.
In Ballymaloe I learnt a formula for making soups, 1, 1, 3, 5.
1 part onion, 1 part potato, 3 parts your vegetables of choice and 5 times the amount in stock.

One of the key parts to make a successful soup is the first stage of 'sweating' the potato and onion base. The technique involves softening the potato and onion with butter and oil, covered with a little greaseproof paper and over a medium heat. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook gently for 5-10minutes until they soften but do not colour.

50g butter
110g onions (peeled and diced)
140g potatoes (peeled and diced)
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
thumb size piece of ginger
1 large butternut squash
3 garlic cloves
700-800ml chicken stock
Creamy milk

Pumpkin seeds & fresh coriander to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Peel and dice the butternut squash and place on a roasting dish with the garlic cloves. Roast in the oven until tender (20-25mins).

Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan and allow to melt. Add the onions and potatoes, season well and toss in the butter. Cover with a little greaseproof paper and cook gently for 5-10minutes to allow it to soften.

Finely grate the ginger and add into the potatoes and onions. Once the butternut squash is tender add to the saucepan. Increase the heat and add in the stock. Allow to come to a gentle boil and cook until all the vegetables are tender. Puree the ingredients to achieve a smooth and silky consistency.
Return the soup to a simmer and add a little creamy milk.
Taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve in warmed bowls with some pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Indian Buttered Chicken

This rich, creamy dish was my first introduction to Indian food. 
Love at first bite. 
Hearty, warming and delicious for the evenings that are fast looming. 
Perfect for a weekend treat. 

Chicken Marinade: 
3 large chicken breasts 
2 tbsp lemon juice 
1 tbsp garam masala 
5cm piece of ginger 
2 garlic cloves 

2 tbsp olive oil 
2 large onions 
2 garlic cloves 
2 tbsp garam masala 
1 tbsp coriander seed 
1 teasp. cumin 
1 teasp. chilli powder 
1 teasp. turmeric
1 tin of chopped tomatoes 
220ml coconut milk 
1 lemon
50g butter
Salt & pepper 
Coriander & lemon rind to garnish 

Preparation: Combine all the marinade ingredients (lemon juice, garlic cloves, ginger and garam masala) together with the chicken in a zip lock bag. 
*I only let mine marinate for about 30minutes at room temp. but it is better if you have time to marinade over night. 

Peel and thinly slice the onions into half rings. 
Heat the olive oil and gently fry the onions for 5-6minutes. Do not let them brown. 
In a pestle and mortar grind down the coriander seeds to a fine powder. 
Once the onions have softened, add in the finely chopped garlic, ground coriander, garam masala, cumin, chilli powder and turmeric. Cook for 1-2minutes to allow flavours to develop. 
Add in the tomatoes and let them to come to a gentle simmer. 
Pour in the coconut milk. 
Blend the tomato sauce using a hand held blender to get a smooth sauce. 
Add in the lemon juice and season to taste. 
Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and add in the marinated chicken. 

*Make sure the sauce does not boil while you are cooking the chicken as it will cause the meat to toughen.*

Add in the butter and coriander. 
Garnish with a little lemon rind on top to add extra freshness to the dish. 
Serve with some basmati rice, poppadoms and cucumber raita for a loving comfort food dish. 

Monday, 21 March 2016

Mushroom & Thyme Leaf Soup

You can easily tell I had a lot of fun styling this soup. It's all in the little details. A few sprigs of thyme leaves, dash of olive oil and a few sauteed mushrooms in a pretty bowl and you're ready.   
This is one of the fastest tastiest soups which can really impress people and also most importantly pack a punch with bursting flavours from the roasted mushrooms. 

400g mushrooms (I used a mixture of chestnut and field) 
Thyme leaves 
2 onions 
50g butter 
1 small potato 
700ml hot chicken stock 
Salt and cracked black pepper 
Virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180℃. 
Quarter the mushrooms and scatter on a roasting tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Scatter the leaves of thyme on top. 
Finely slice the onions. Melt the butter in a pot on a low heat and add the onions. Season and cover them with a layer of parchment paper. Leave them to sweat on a gently low heat with the lid on for 5-8minutes until the onions are soft but not coloured. Peel and slice the potato into cubes. Add into the soft onions and increase the heat. Add in most of the roasted mushrooms leaving some for decoration. Make 700ml of hot chicken stock and add to the pot. Cook until potato is tender - no more than 5 minutes. Season to taste. 

Important point to note when making soup - The quicker a soup is made the better it tastes! (Darina Allen, 2015) 

Blitz the soup and return to the pot to simply reheat. 
Serve in warmed bowls and decorate with a few of the leftover roasted mushrooms, thyme leaves and a little dash of good virgin olive oil. 

So simple and tasty. 


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Half way point - I'll drink to that!

Time to raise a glass of vino to Week 7. 

I am over halfway through the Ballymaloe 12 week certificate course.

I keep putting off writing this post as I literally do not know where to begin updating this and the time is flying by so quickly. I seriously admire the bloggers that I followed before coming to Ballymaloe who were able to juggle their workload here and blog daily. Spill the Beans and French Foodie I am in awe. Also where did you get the wifi connection to blog like this? Like seriously?

Now that I am over halfway I am increasingly aware of the ever so slight anxious feeling I have about facing into 'real life' after Ballymaloe.
Life where there isn't abundant fresh herbs, salad leaves and organic fresh vegetables a plenty.
Life without freshly baked loaves of bread, wholesome soup, generous mains and exquisite puddings on a daily basis.
Life without daily homemade lemonade.
Life without freshly laid eggs from the 600 hens here.
Life without daily fresh scones with cream and homemade raspberry jam.
Life without hanging out my balcony window for a ridiculous amount of time trying to get wifi/phone reception.
Life without daily duties.
Life without filing every night!
Life where I'm not looking forward to starting my Ballymaloe adventure.
Life without Wine Wednesday!!!!!!!!

Darina is actively seeking our immediate employment by continually questioning and nugging us about who has found jobs! No pressure eh?

Anyways back to the update...

We had our School Tour Day which was a lot of fun. We travelled throughout Cork to visit the Mahon Point Food Market, Gubbeen Cheese and Chorizo factory, Ummera Smokehouse and Jameson Distillery. It was a great day and good to get out of the school for a while and visit our producers and sample some delights.
I almost forgot to mention that we all got a free bottle of Jameson Whiskey after our tour and food and whiskey tasting! Jameson were incredible hosts and an example of how the big guys know how to do things right.

We also had our Midterm Herb, Salad and Technique exam on Friday.
I spent most of last week eating herbs left, right and centre and tasting and sketching salad leaves to help me remember them. Not my usual study but such a great way to get us all to know the herbs and salad leaves. I was delighted with myself when I was able to recognise the salad leaves mibuna, mizuna, tatsoi and lollo rosso in my salad at the weekend in Dublin which I was delighted with. I honestly would never really have cared about this before and would have assumed it was a good old bag of rocket leaves! This course continually forces you to really open your eyes to our food around us and I wonder if I will ever really look or think about food the same way again.

Other BIG updates include we have our Ballymaloe Charity Dinner on Week 10 for the public, family and friends and I was ecstatic to discover that I was made Head Chef for the event. I am honoured to take on this big role and so excited to get stuck in and gain some invaluable experience for the future. More updates on this to come!

We had 'Cake Day' where we got to see the competitive side in a lot of people (probably mainly myself). It was a great laugh and the cakes really were incredible!

My Chocolate Spooky Inspired Halloween Cake 

We also had a Big Breakfast Morning where I won the best breakfast from my kitchen only I didn't take a picture as I devoured it so quickly! Typical me.
Pretty delighted to win and hey if all else fails I can make a decent Full Irish Brekkie in the future!

I included a picture of my starter dish that I made last week which was my Ardsallagh Goat's cheese croquettes with rocket leaves, roast peppers and tapenade oil. I was delighted with how it looked and tasted!

I can't even begin to explain the level of detail that is covered in the afternoon lectures.
I really cannot stress enough how you really get your bang for your buck here.

My brain not to mind my folders are continually creating sub dividers and categories for all this new information I am learning on a daily basis. From filleting fish, making fresh pasta, baking bread, curing meat and creating classic timeless desserts every day brings a whole new assortment to the collection.

Furthermore we are learning about wine! I was so ignorant before this to the world of wine. I love that I know so much more now about pairing wine with food, what courses to accompany with and the regions and grape varieties. Wine Wednesday is my favourite day of the week!

An example of a night filing 2 days of notes. Organised chaos. 

Some days I laugh at myself as I come out from my mornings cooking as I look like someone leaving the battlefield both physically and mentally.

With all this new information and learning it is important here that I recognise especially to anyone considering doing the course in the future that sometimes this course can be very overwhelming! I'm 26 (relatively young & energetic) I love food and filing and everything about this course and I can find it really challenging some days.
All that being said there are those special moments during demo in the afternoon that I almost want to pinch myself I'm so happy about being here and how much I love it.
These episodes also often occur when watching Rachel. I'm a big fan of Rachel. That's putting it lightly. She's effortless and no words can begin to explain how great and natural she is at teaching.

Rachel's beautiful profiteroles during demo one afternoon. 

Burger day with Rory - He is such a Pro! 

My homemade fresh noodle pasta. Tasted so good! 

Finally my Almond, coconut and cardamon cake. It's so pretty. I am so delighted with how it turned out.  I had a bit of help from Lughan even though it may look like a Pam inspired Cake! 

Today was one of those days where I am so happy to be here and I am loving every second of this once in a lifetime experience! 

That is as much information as my brain can process tonight. If anyone has any questions about the course or would like to ask me anything drop me a comment below. 

Thanks for reading