Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Roast Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

Forgive me Father for I have sinned... It has been a month since my last blog post...

And what a month it has been, I've been up the walls with wedding and birthday cakes, cookery demos and a TV appearance on the new evening show on TV3, The Seven o Clock Show. So I think I'll get away with just a few Hail Mary's for my penance.

I'm gonna cram a lot into this post, show some of my recent cakes, the video of my TV appearance and finish you off with a new recipe I've been working on... as usual it is simple but effective!

So here are a few of the wedding cakes I have made in the past 4 weeks..

And then some birthday celebration cakes I made too...

Clare hurling themed cake

Game of Thrones dragon Mother cake

Disney's Frozen castle themed cake

A cake for Hayley on the red carpet with Harry Styles from One Direction

A confirmation cake for my niece Eve..

Eve's Confirmation cake

And finally a cake that I designed for a class I'll be teaching in sugarcraft for teenagers...

Up, up and away cake

Then I had a brilliant night in Bruree, Co Limerick doing a fund raising cookery demonstration to a fantastic packed house at their local community center.

Last Friday night I had my debut on The Seven o Clock Show on TV3, Anton Savage and Mairead Farrell took over the presenting duties on the night form Lucy and Martin whom I'd been used to on Late Lunch Live where I used to cook on. The guest on the night was Keith Duffy from Boyzone fame and later Coronation Street fame... Here is the clip where I made them my famous After Eight Cheesecake

So lastly here is the recipe I promised, it is a very handy one.

Roast Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Salad

Such a simple recipe but a great lunch/lunchbox filler or a side to a meat or fish dinner. serve with the squash warm or cold... either way works beautifully!

Serves 2:
1 small butternut squash
Rapeseed oil
A large handful of fresh rocket
A small handful of coarsely chopped walnuts
A small handful of dried cranberries
90g goats cheese
Balsamic vinegar dressing


Preheat the oven to 180c.
Carefully cut the squash lengthways down the middle as scoop out the seeds and membrane with a spoon. Chop the halves into bite sized pieces. Place on a roasting tray and lightly drizzle with oil and give a light seasoning with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 40 mins until softened. 

In the meantime wash and spin dry the rocket leaves, chop the walnuts if not previously done and if you like you can re-hydrate the cranberries in some boiled water for a few mins and cool them again.

In a large bowl add the rocket, squash, walnuts and cranberries. Give a light drizzle of oil, using a knife break off knobs of goats cheese. give a mix around and divide onto 2 plates, dress generously with the balsamic vinegar dressing and serve.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Lush Vegetable Yellow Curry with Garlic Griddled Bread

Lush Vegetable Yellow Curry with Garlic Griddled Bread

This is such a simple recipe to make up, you can go to the bother of making your own curry paste if you like but I find that the shop bought jar works just as well here. 

Serves 4:         
2 tablespoons of yellow curry paste
2 onions roughly diced
1 medium butternut squash
500ml vegetable stock
200ml light coconut milk
75g red split lentils
2 yellow peppers deseeded and roughly chopped
140g frozen peas
100g bag of baby spinach
4 bread slices of your choosing
2 fat cloves of garlic

·         Prepare the butternut squash, you can peel the skin using a good peeler or carefully slice it off with a sharp knife. Cut down lengthways through the centre and using a dessert spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy membrane, discard. Chop the squash into bite sized cubes and set aside.

·         In a large saucepan heat the curry paste on a medium/high heat, add a little water to stop it catching.
·         Add in the onions after a few mins and cook until softened. Add the butternut squash and cook for a further 5 mins (add a splash of water from time to time if needed).

·         To this add in the stock, coconut milk and lentils and bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 mins until the lentils are tender. Add the peppers and cook for a further 8 mins.
·         Stir in the peas and add the spinach to the top, cover with a lid and allow the spinach to wilt for about 2 mins, remove the lid and gently stir the wilted spinach leaves into the curry. Take the curry off the heat and allow to stand for a few mins with the lid back on.

·         In the meantime heat a dry griddled pan up to full heat. Drizzle the bread with a little olive oil on the cut side and place them face down on the hot pan, allow them to toast for 2 mins and remove them when toasted and marked with the lines of the pan. Cut a fat clove of garlic in half and run the cut side on the toasted side of the bread.

·         Once all breads are toasted and flavoured, serve with the curry.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Mini Coffee and Walnut Cakes

Ok, so we have been good and having our healthier options for January... using good ingredients and eating a clean varied diet. Well now here is an indulgent recipe to treat ourselves, inspired from the Queen of bakes Mary Berry.

Mini Coffee and Walnut Cakes
I am making these into small cake tins (3 inch diameter- it makes around 8 of them) alternately they can be made into 8 inch sandwich tins.

150g unsalted butter softened
150g light brown sugar
3 medium eggs & 1 egg white
150g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon coffee extract
60g chopped walnuts

For the buttercream:
150g unsalted butter softened
450g sifted icing sugar
1 tablespoon coffee extract
2 tablespoons milk

200g chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180c. Line each tin with baking paper and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
In a large mixing bowl add in the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee extract and beat using an electric mixer until you have a smooth batter. Fold in the walnuts.
Pipe the batter into the cake tins, just over halfway full. Bake in the oven for about 18 mins until they have risen and the top springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.

Leave the mini tins for a few mins until cool enough to handle, turn out each cake, remove the baking paper and place them onto a wire cooling rack. Once cooled, trim off the top neatly and slice each cake in half.
Make the buttercream by beating the butter until nice and fluffy then sift in the icing sugar, beat until you have a smooth consistency (scraping around the bowl a few times) and blend in the coffee extract until well combined.

To decorate, once the cakes have cooled fully, sandwich the halves together using the buttercream (about a quarter of it). Spread a thin coat around the sides and roll each cake in the chopped walnuts to give an even coat.
Spoon the remaining buttercream into a piping bag with a medium nozzle and pipe on swirls of you choosing on top to finish off the cakes

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Sticky Bacon Ribs

Sticky Bacon Ribs
These ribs are a wonderful snack or a starter for a meal. They can also be started off on the oven and finished off on a Barbecue for that lovely smoky flavour.  Marinade for at least an hour but preferably overnight in the fridge to let all the wonderful flavours combine and infuse in the meat.

Serves 3-4:
1kg of bacon ribs

For the marinade:
4 tablespoons of Olive oil
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of fish/oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of Chinese 5 spice
1 teaspoon of chopped sage
1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper
A few cloves of garlic whole
A big pinch of black pepper


If the ribs are still in a rack, carefully cut down between the bones to separate.
Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a mixing bowl, place the ribs in an even layer in a large roasting tray and pour in the marinade and toss the ribs about so they all get coated. Cover with cling-film and place in the fridge.

When you’re ready for cooking, place the roasting tray into a preheated oven at 200°c for 35 minutes, take them out half way through cooking and give them a toss around. You can then finish off on a BBQ or under the grill to caramelise the sticky marinade.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Easy Thin Pizza Base

Easy Thin Pizza Base
Ok, I’m sure like most people, I have bought many different pizzas from frozen to fresh, thin base to stuffed crust. But this to me is by far the nicest and has proved a hit over and over. It works out so economical. I can safely say I’ll never buy a pizza again!!

Makes up to 6 pizzas:
300ml skimmed milk
1 sachet of baker’s yeast
500g strong flour
Pinch of salt
Heat milk gently in a saucepan or heatproof bowl in the microwave, add the yeast and stir until dissolved.
Sift flour and salt into mixing bowl. Make a well in middle and add the milk with dissolved yeast.
Mix together using a spoon, it should be quite sticky. Empty out onto a lightly floured work surface, kneed it for 10 mins. Add a little oil into a large clean bowl and smear around, into bowl and cover with Clingfilm for 40-50 mins to proof (rise).
Punch out the air, it can be used right away or wrap in Clingfilm and keep in fridge.
When using pull off a ball smaller than a tennis ball and roll it out on a lightly floured surface, don’t worry about perfect circles.
Pop it onto an oiled pizza tray and lightly spoon on some pasta sauce, grate over some cheese of your choice (I just use low fat cheddar), and add the toppings of your choice.
10-15 mins in a HOT oven will make a lovely crispy pizza.

Leftover dough will keep in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Quick Fix Hummus

Quick Fix Hummus
Hummus is a great snack or light lunch serves with some breadsticks, cracker bread or pita bread… even vegetable sticks for an ultimate health kick.

1 can of chickpeas
1 lemon
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
A pinch of salt
5 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of paprika

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and set a few to one side to be used for serving on top.
In a food processor add the remaining chickpeas, mince in the garlic and add the juice of half the lemon along with the cumin seeds, salt, water, oil and paprika. Whizz up until you get a smooth consistency.

Taste and add more seasoning if required (salt and lemon juice). Serve in a bowl with a sprinkling of the whole chickpeas and a little more paprika.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Toast with Honey, mascarpone, nutella and strawberries

Toast with Honey, mascarpone, nutella and strawberries

This recipe is so simple and freaking delicious.

6 slices of whole wheat bread
6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
1 heaping tablespoon of honey
Fresh strawberries, sliced
Nutella; slightly melted in microwave (helps to drizzle on easier)
Sliced almonds

Lightly toast the bread under the grill.
Mix the mascarpone and honey in a small bowl. Spread on your slice of toasted bread, then arrange the strawberries on top, drizzle on the Nutella and sprinkle on the nuts.

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