Monday, February 20, 2012

Dinner party for the girls Saturday night.

Just putting this up here so's I'll know what we had for dinner.
It was blimming lovely even if I do say so myself!

Billy has been off work following a minor operation for the last couple of weeks and has been declaring that he's bored outta his skull - well I can assure you there were no such pronouncements on Saturday - mwahhahahaha!!!

Our menu was divine, and a little inspired to our visit to The Old Convent where the girls and i enjoyed a version of the starter last October (Plans afoot for our next visit real soon,,,yes!!!!)

This was the menu:

Amuse bouche
Quail Scotch Egg

Ummera Smoked Duck Cream -Candied Nuts - Highbank Orchard Apple Syrup - Parmesan Toast

Butternut Squash & Chili - Brown Seeded Soda Bread

Basil & Lime

Main Course
Roast Canon of lamb - Red WineJjus - Celeriac Puree - Potato Fondant - Balsamic Roasted Shallot - Broad beans

Pre Dessert
Lemon Posset - Sugared Blueberries

Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart - Raspberries

Petit Fours
Bailey's Chocolate Truffles

(The Bailey's truffles recipe can be found here on the blog)

Recipes will follow soon for the Ummera Duck Cream starter, the Butternut Squash Chili Soup, the Lemon Posset and the sinfully decadent Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart, and I'll link them as I get them written up.

Quail Skewers with Asian Spices

These quail skewers with Asian Spices from Jason Atherton's cookbook "Maze" are totally scrumdumbtious, and you will definitely make them again and again! I've used the "Maze" cookbook quite a lot actually and his recipes do not disappoint. he has the book presented in an interesting way, Recipes are in sets of 3 and each recipe leads to another where elements of the former dish are used in the next one. We made his apple trifle with cider granita and apple compote doughnuts one weekend, OH.MY.GOD!!! Amazing! But that's a recipe for another day and we'll motor on with the Quails now!

This makes a light meal for 4 when served with some noodles and the salad, if having it as a main course maaybe only 2 servings?! It's supremely light and tasty!

To serve 4 people you will need the following:
 You will need 8 wooden skewers which will be soaked for about 20 mins in water, to prevent them burning under the grill later.

4 quails - I got these in Lidl a couple of times, Spanish quail and then I got some fresh Irish ones at the English market in Cork - NO COMPARISON! Our own quail were far superior, plump, juicy birds. Now whenever I'm in Cork I bring home a few for the freezer.

To prepare the quail you will have to spatchcock them. To do this get a kitchen sissors and cut along both sides of the back bone of the quail to remove it. take out the giblets and any other loose "stuff".  I like to trim up the wing tips and the legs a little and if the neck is longish I cut it off.
Now rinse them and pat dry.
Open out a quail on the chopping board and press down on the breast bone with the palm of your hand.
Cut the quail in two so each piece has a breast and a leg.
Push a skewer through going in thru the leg and coming out at the top of the breast.

Marinade Ingredients
100ml sesame oil
2tablespoons Mirin (Japanese rice wine) available in Tescos.
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove peeled and finely chopped
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chili, deseeded and chopped

Mix all  together and put half of it to one side. Brush the remainder over the quails.

Rub ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon of Szechaun peppercorns
sea salt
1 teaspoon five spice powder

Lightly toast the Szechaun peppers in a dry pan till fragrant. Put in a mortar and pestle  with a pinch of salt and grind till finely crushed, mix with the five spice powder and rub over the quails.
At this stage the aromas will have you drooling but carry on and cover with some cling film and put in the fridge for a few hours.

When the time is up preheat the grill on high, Put the marinated quails on a baking tray in a single layer. Place under the grill for ten minutes, turning halfway till the skins are turned golden brown and the quails feel firm and are cooked through.

Leave to rest for a few minutes while you make the following tasty salad.

Asian salad:
About a dozen radishes or half a mooli if you can track it down - for me that was a no no!
1 mango.
Handful of coriander leaves
Handful of baby salad leaves or Jason's recipe calls for Shiso leaves (not on your Nelly in Tralee!!!)

Toss all of these with the remaining marinade.

We enjoy our quails and salad with some noodles with chopped spring onion, a splash of sesame oil and a splash of soy sauce mixed through.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Jamie Oliver's Empire Chicken

I'm not a great one for watching TV but I will watch cookery shows ad nauseum, Billy tells me the only things I'll watch are Cookery programs and things like The Biggest Loser and Operation Transformation - no shock to me that one of these leads to the other! But anyway moving swiftly along....
I was watching Jamie Oliver's Great Britain one night and I loved the look of his Empire Chicken recipe which was right up my street as I love spicing things up.This recipe which combines your traditional roast chicken, spuds and gravy with some eastern spices truly sizzles. We;'ve made it a couple of times now once just for ourselves and another time we doubled everything up as we had some people coming for Sunday lunch a few weeks ago, they loved it as much as we did.

Ideally start the chicken marinading the day before.
Slash the chicken’s legs a few times right down to the bone. Get a roasting tray slightly bigger than the chicken, then add all of the marinade ingredients and mix together well. Put on a pair of clean rubber gloves, then really massage those flavours over and inside the chicken so it’s smeared everywhere. If leaving overnight cover and put in the fridge.

For the chicken and marinade• 1.4kg free-range chicken
• 1 heaped tablespoon each finely grated garlic, fresh ginger and fresh red chilli
• 1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
• 1 heaped teaspoon each of ground coriander, turmeric, garam masala and ground cumin
• 2 heaped teaspoons natural yoghurt
• 2 lemons, one to be stabbed in a few places and placed in the chicken.
• 2 level teaspoons sea salt    

For the Bombay Style Potatoes
 800g new potatoes
• sea salt and ground pepper
• 1 lemon
• 2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
• a knob of butter
• 1 heaped teaspoon each
of black mustard seeds,( I couldn't get black mustard seeds so used regular ones), cumin seeds, garam masala and turmeric
• 1 bulb of garlic
• 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
• 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 1 small bunch of fresh coriander

For the Gravy:

 1 stick of cinnamon
• 3 small red onions, peeled
• 10 cloves
• 3 tablespoons each of white wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce
• 3 level tablespoons plain flour
• 500ml organic chicken stock
• optional: natural yoghurt,to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and organize your shelves so the roasting tray can sit right at the bottom, the chicken can sit directly above it, right on the bars of the shelf, and the potatoes can go at the top. Halve any larger potatoes, then parboil them in a large pan of salted boiling water with a whole lemon for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain the potatoes then let them steam dry. Stab the lemon a few times with a sharp knife and put it right into the chicken’s cavity. Move the chicken to a plate.

Roughly chop the onions and add to the roasting tray along with the cinnamon stick, cloves, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, then whisk in the flour. Pour in the stock or water, then place this right at the bottom of the oven. Place the chicken straight on to the bars of the middle shelf, above the roasting tray. Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Put another sturdy roasting tray over a medium heat and add the olive oil, a knob of butter, the mustard and cumin seeds, garam masala and turmeric – work quickly because if the fat gets too hot the mustard seeds will pop everywhere. Halve a bulb of garlic and add it straight to the pan, with the sliced chilli and chopped tomatoes. Add your drained potatoes to the tray, mix everything together, then season well. Finely slice and scatter in the coriander stalks, and keep the leaves in a bowl of water for later. After the chicken has been in for 40 minutes, put the potatoes in.

Once the chicken is cooked, move it to a board and carefully peel off the dark charred bits to reveal perfect chicken underneath. Pass the gravy through a coarse sieve into a pan, whisking any sticky goodness from the pan as you go. Bring to the boil and either cook and thicken or thin down with water to your preference. Put it into a serving bowl and drizzle over a little yoghurt. Get your potatoes out of the oven and put them into a serving bowl, then serve the chicken on a board next to the sizzling roasties and hot gravy. Sprinkle the reserved coriander leaves over everything.

We had it with some corn on the cob and green beans and it was absolutely scrummy!

Oysters two ways.

I'm not good at eating oysters au naturel, just can't swallow the damned things - ugh! But give me an oyster wrapped in a rasher of bacon and grilled and I'm in heaven. A light cooking really changes the texture and,  for me, enhances the sea-y-ness of them.

Sometime late last year we were watching Masterchef the Professionals and Michel Roux was doing his classics on which the contestants would later be tested. We really liked the look of the oysters and decided to have them as our Christmas day starter being as this year it was just the two of ourselves for dinner and no one else's tastes had to be taken into consideration. Whilst we had them for Christmas they would be perfect for Valentine's day either, after all oysters are aphrodisiacs.

Billy got the job of shucking the oysters, the job made all the easier with an oyster shucking knife we got down town in my fave kitchen shop - Utensils.
When you're shucking your oysters take care! An oyster knife really is an essential bit of kit for the job.

Using the oyster knife, pry open the oyster shells, then remove the oysters. Discard the top shells; scrub and dry the bottom shells. Drain the oysters, reserving the oyster liquor.

My recipes are for 6 of each of the Rockefeller and the Kilpatrick. I couldn't find Michel's recipes online but watched the show again on You tube here to get an idea of what was what!

Oysters Rockefeller
6 fresh oysters on the half shell
1 tablespoons finely shallot
1 tablespoon Pernod
Approx 150ml cream
150g Spinach
Fresh nutmeg.
1 Egg Yolk

In a large saucepan, gently heat the oysters in their juices for a minute or so. Remove the oysters. Strain the juice through a fine sieve. set aside.

To a pan add the shallot, and the Pernod. Heat for a couple of minutes so that the alcohol is burned off and the wonderful aniseed flavour of the pernod remains, add the cream. Heat and allow to reduce a little.

Wilt the spinach in some hot water, drain, squeeze out excess water and chop finely. grate in some nutmeg. Add some of the cream/pernod mix to the spinach to loosen it.

Divide the spinach between the 6 oyster shells Place the oysters on top. Michel's tip was to place the oysters back in the shell in the way they came out.

Add the egg yolk to the cream/pernod mixture and whisk in. Pour over the 6 oysters.

Grill under a hot grill till browning and bubbling.

Oysters Kilpatrick

6 Oysters shucked.
Couple of rashers of bacon, very finely chopped
6 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs.
Worcestershire sauce
Some soft butter.

Fry the bacon till crispy, add the breadcrumbs to the bacon. Put about 2/3 of this aside in a bowl.
To the remaining third add a couple of splashes each of tabasco and worcestershire sauce.
Divide this mixture between the 6 oyster shells.
Place the oysters on top.
Cover this with the reserved crumb mixture.
Add a knob of butter on top.
Place under a hot grill until browned.

To stabilise the oysters on the plate I put a very generous sprinkling of sea salt which I dampened slightly.

And enjoy!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lamb shanks with chick peas and Moroccan spices.

We're talking serious comfort food here, hearty, tasty, delicious, spicy - did I say DELICIOUS!

If you can get lamb shanks in your butcher's generally you will only pay about €2.50 each. The weekend I wanted to make this the butcher was out of them and I paid €9 for 2 in Tesco's which I was a tad cross about but I so wanted them that I paid the dosh over!

This is not an after work recipe as it takes hours to slowly cook, well maybe if you want your dinner at midnight you might cook it after work!

Here's what you'll need: (To serve 4)

  • Tin Chickpeas, approx 400g
  •  2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks (medium)
  • 2 medium onions , chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves , finely chopped
  • 2 fresh green chillies , seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 large tomatoes , peeled, seeded and chopped
  • pinch of saffron strands
  • 2cm/0.25in piece of cinnamon stick
  • 450g carrots , cut into thick slices
  • 140g ready-to-eat dried apricots
  • 1 tsp clear honey


  • 50g blanched almonds , fried in butter until browned ( I only had flaked almonds in the cupboard so that was what I used.
  • chopped fresh coriander

Here's what you'll need to do:

Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown the lamb all over. Remove and set aside. Pour off most of the fat, leaving 1 tablespoon in the dish, add the onions and fry for 8-10 minutes until soft.
Preheat the oven to fan oven 140C.
Mix together the ginger, garlic, chillies, cumin, coriander, pepper and paprika. Add half of this to the onions, tip in the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Put in the lamb, cover generously with water (about 450ml), bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cover and cook in the oven for 11⁄2-2 hours
Remove from the oven and stir in the remaining spice mixture, the tinned chick peas, saffron and cinnamon, carrots, apricots, honey and salt. Cover and return to the oven for 45 minutes-1 hour until the lamb is tender and the vegetables cooked.
 Scatter the almonds and coriander on top.

We usually eat this with some cous cous flavoured with lemon and coriander, just a little cos the main dish is so filling!

The original recipe I have is torn from an old Good Food magazine.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

December/New Year Nosh

Yes, I am paying the price for all this gorgeousness and calorificness as I pound the roads trying to claw back a pound or two but you know what - it was worth it and I enjoyed every morsel - so there!!!!!

My lovely Yule Log
covered in marzipand and dark chocolate, filled with a sweetened chocolate chestnut puree.


Our delicious and attractive Christmas day breakfast, lovely creamy scrambled eggs with eggs from my brother, strips of smoked salmon and rye toast, washed down with some prosecco with fresh orange juice.

Christmas Dinner starter, Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Kilpatrick - I will post the recipes for these divine bites later! For anyone who doesn't like the texture of raw oysters (like me!) these are a revelation.

Our Christmas dinner dessert - a Christmas pudding bombe, the Italian meringue encased a vanilla ice cream enriched with Christmas Pudding, dates and brandy. The base of the pudding was a disc of sponge and just before serving some hot chocolate sauce was inserted with a squeezy bottle under the meringue. Oh. My. God!

Stephen's day dinner was kept light, gently poached lobster, some Dublin Bay Prawns, smoked salmon and Marie Rose sauce. 

This was followed with a selection of gorgeous cheeses enhanced by serving them on the lovely slate cheeseboard I won on a fellow food blogger's site - Mona's blog is fab! Check it out here . The slate cheeseboard and knife were coutesy of

A light lunch over Christmas - Scallops with Jack McCarthy's black pudding and a drizzle of Highbank  Orchard Apple Syrup and a few slivers of fried chilli on top - nom!

And we had a wee bit of dining out, with a couple of Billy's colleagues and their other halves we went to Chapter 40 in Killarney and had a fantastic meal, really top notch nosh, flavour and presentation were faultless! These guys produce art on a plate!

My starter - Crab - potted,doughnut, cone!

My main course - Seafood - Vegetable Tempura, Crab and Grapefruit  Salad (Oh MOMMA!!!!!)

My Dessert - Doughnuts - Pistachio Ice Cream, Cappuccino Mousse  

The following night was New Year's Eve and we were at the Station House in Blennerville which is our favourite local restaurant in Tralee. We had a lovely night there, great food for superb value. An amuse bouche, starter, sorbet, mains, dessert, tea/coffee and a bottle of wine thrown in for €49 per person, AND a magician on tap between courses to keep diners amused!
I had the confit duck leg served on a bed of sublime red cabbage which I totally enjoyed - I'm a divil for going for seafood when I'm dining out so it was nice to try this for a change.

And to end 2011 we bought a new table and chairs - looking  forward to getting the new kitchen to match them in 2012 - fingers crossed!!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's here.....

Lots of happy dancing here today ....

Look what arrived by courier this morning ...

Cannot wait to use it!
So why am I on the net then....... ??? Cos I had to tell the world about my new arrival! Insert proud new kitchen appliance Momma moment here!!!