Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza
Now you may be thinking, ‘what is healthy about a pizza for breakfast?’, let me explain… Pizza dough is bread, the same mix will make a loaf of plain white bread, it is just rolled out and baked different. For most people it is normal to have grilled or baked sausage, bacon, pudding, mushrooms with eggs for breakfast, along with bread, a tomato based sauce and a little cheese… well here it is combined in all its glory. I see this as a treat breakfast or a brunch, I normally make it when I have visitors, just so they have something they are not used to seeing and by God it never fails.
I have used a boiled egg, sliced, but there is nothing stopping you from frying a regular egg then cutting it up and putting over as a topping or crack a few quails eggs over the top.

Makes up to 6 pizzas:
500g strong flour
300ml skimmed milk
1 sachet of baker’s yeast
Pinch of salt

Per pizza:
 2-3 sausages
2-3 rashers
1-2 boiled eggs
4-5 mushrooms
4-5 slices of black pudding
Pasta sauce
Cheddar cheese


Heat milk gently in a saucepan, 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 and bop back into bowl and cover with Clingfilm for 20 mins+.
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 as thinly as possible, don’t worry about perfect circles.
Part-grill the sausages, rashers and black pudding and cut up into bite sized pieces, slice the                               mushrooms.
Pop the base onto an oiled pizza tray and lightly spoon on some pasta sauce, grate a small amount of cheese of your choice over the top (I just use low fat cheddar), add the toppings.

15-20 mins in a HOT oven will make a lovely crispy breakfast pizza.

Tuile Baskets

Tuile Baskets

These little baskets not only look great but taste so good! They dont have to be made into baskets if you dont want the hassle they can be kept as wee biscuits instead.

Makes 20 biscuits or ten baskets:
125g of flaked almonds
125g of caster sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
25g melted butter
2 egg whites
20g of plain flour


  1. In a mixing bowl combine the almonds, sugar, vanilla extract and egg whites.
  2. Pour in the melted butter and stir well. Cover with cling-film and place in the fridge overnight.
  3. The next day sift in the flour and stir until well incorporated. 
  4. On a non-stick baking tray spoon out small amounts and flatten out to a thin layer with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bung into a preheated oven at 150 degrees for about 18-20 mins, they should be golden all over.
  6. At this point they can be left as biscuits, however if you want baskets shape them in little bowls or ramekins while they are still warm.
  7. When cooled fill with freshly whipped cream and top with berries of your choice. 

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

Homemade battered fish n’ chips

Homemade fish n’ chips can sound and feel daunting until you actually try it out. I can promise that after you see how easy and tasty it is you’ll be hooked (excuse the pun). Delicious served with mushy minted peas.

Serves 4:

4 medium fillets of white fish (cod, haddock, whiting etc)
Sea salt & black pepper
1 litre of good vegetable oil

1kg scrubbed potatoes skins left on

8oZ of plain flour and some for coating
3 heaped tablespoons of baking soda
284ml of a good beer/ larger


1.      Making sure the fillets are free of bones cut them into 2-inch wide strips. Season well and set aside. Preheat oven to 150ºc.

2.      Thinly chip the potatoes, skins and all.

3.      To make the batter, in a mixing bowl sift in the flour, add a pinch of salt and baking soda. Pour in the beer/larger and whisk together looking for a double cream consistency. Let it foam up or rise.

  1. Half fill a wok with good quality vegetable oil and put it on a medium-high heat (it shouldn’t get too hot too quick).

  1. Pop a chip into the oil, if it rises to the oil is ready. Remove the chip. Dip a piece of fish into a shallow bowl of flour, coating it right round then straight into the batter, again coating it fully. Carefully lower it into the hot oil. You could maybe have 2 or 3 pieces in at the one time. Give them a few mins ant turn them over in the oil using kitchen tongs. Once golden on both sides remove carefully (again) onto a baking tray and pop into the oven. (This will both finish the cooking off and dry off some of the oil making it dry and fluffy not oily and soggy).

  1. Repeat for remainder of fish. Once fish are all into the oven carefully put chips into the fish oil. When golden remove using a large slotted spoon.

  1. Serve with wedges of lemon, salt and plenty of vinegar.

Red Cabbage

Braised red cabbage and bramley apple in cider vinegar

This is a gorgeous accompaniment to any pork dish. It is sweet but has a sharpness that really works. Even my dogs love it!!

TIP: Wear gloves while shredding the cabbage, as the dye can be hard so scrub off your fingers.
Serves 4:                                                                             

1 small red cabbage
1bramley apple
150g butter
150g light brown sugar
150ml cider vinegar
Pinch of ground white cloves
1 cinnamon stick
Sea salt & black pepper                                                       


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºc

  1. Cut cabbage into quarters, core and finely shred. Peel and core the bramley apple and finely slice it. Set aside.

  1. In an ovenproof saucepan add the butter, vinegar and sugar and dissolve the sugar over a medium heat. Add in the cinnamon and cloves and season with salt and pepper.

  1. Toss in the cabbage and apple coating it all. Place lid on saucepan or wet crumpled greaseproof paper and bung into oven.

  1. Bake for about an hour stirring occasionally until tender and the apple has all but dissolved. Lift off the lid or paper and bake for a further 10-15 mins so the remaining liquid has reduced to a syrup.

3 fine chicks!

Mother hen has been very busy showing the chicks the ropes, how to look for food and scratch around the earth for a good spot for a dust bath. it has been very enjoyable viewing.

She really is a good mother and very protective of them.
Out of 13 eggs we only got 3 chicks which was a poor return but in saying that, maybe for the first batch it is enough to break us in gently.

They really are so cute and after about 4 or 5 weeks apparently we will be able to determine the sex off them.
Maybe a male about the place will keep the others in line as some of the hens we have are so brazen and pick on mother hen here!! 

Buffalo wings!

Hot Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dip

Since the closure of Luigi Malones in Limerick I have severely missed their legendary Buffalo wings so I decided to try making my own. I have searched the web looking for the ingredients of the wonderful sauce that is over them but with no success apart from a few guesses and most people recommending 'Franks' sauce. I tried Franks sauce but it just didn't hit the spot the way Luigi's did or The Elephant & Castle restaurant in Temple Bar in Dublin. So my mission was to piece together some of the guesses and add my own trials and errors. I came up with this and for me and those who have sampled, this is pretty damn close, if not bang on the money. For those who haven't tried these you should really try these... they weren't kept secret for no reason!!!

Serves 2 (as part of a main course)
serves 4 (as starter):

1 tray of chicken wings (normally contains 16)
A light sprinkle of cayenne pepper (optional)

50g butter
6 tablespoons of cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of tobasco sauce (4 if you like it hotter)
3tablespoons of tomato puree
Half a lemon

A few sticks of celery

For the Blue Cheese Dip:(you can buy this dip made up but this version is so good)
3 tablespoons of Mayonnaise 
3 tablespoons of sour cream
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
Finely chopped parsley
Small clove of garlic minced
3 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
Sea salt and black pepper


  1. Combine all the ingredients for the dip and place in the fridge for an hour before needed.
  2. The chicken wings need to be cut at the 2 joints (into 3 pieces but discard the wing tip) with a heavy sharp knife. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper if using it.

  1. Deep fry in batches for about 10 mins per batch until cooked through and nice and crispy, they can be kept in a warm oven until all batches are deep fried (i usually do them in 3 batches).
  2. In the meantime in a saucepan gently melt down the butter then add the cider vinegar, tobasco sauce and the tomato puree and whisk it together until combined. Squeeze in the half a lemon at the end.
  3. In a large bowl place the cooked wings and pour over the sauce and toss to give a good even coat. 
  4. Serve with the cooling Blue Cheese Dip and a few sticks of celery.

Monday, 28 November 2011

White Chocolate Cheesecake

White Chocolate Cheesecake

In a recent competition my white chocolate cheesecake got hailed as a 'revelation' by one judge Elke O'Mahony Which really got me smiling. 
This cheesecake is just as simple to make as my Malteaser one and After Eight one and equally as delicious. The great thing about these cheesecakes is the can be made in advance, even the day before which will take the pressure off if you have a few for dinner. In this recipe i'm using Oaty biscuits for the base but you can use whatever ones you like. The Oaty ones give a great bite and don't gel too tightly together.

Serves 6-8:
1 pint of double cream
300g soft cheese
3 oz sugar
15 oatmeal biscuits
2 oz butter
200g white chocolate


Put the oatmeal biscuits into a large strong sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin or put through a blender to crush up. Melt down the butter over a medium heat and pour over the crushed biscuits in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Put the mix into ring moulds on a baking sheet or a spring release cake tin and firm down to form a compact even layer. Place in a fridge for a half hour.

In a heat proof bowl melt 190g of the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Keep 10g aside to shave over the top at the end.

Place the soft cheese and sugar into a bowl and pour in the double cream. Whisk this mix until it starts to firm. Add in the melted chocolate and fold into the mixture. Spoon the mixture over the top of biscuit base and shave some white choc over the top. Refrigerate until needed.

And there we have it, a very simple recipe for white chocolate cheesecake

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Chef du Jour

Head Chef Experience

On Tuesday 22nd of November I had the chance of having a head chef experience in No.5 Fenns Quay in Cork City. I had entered a Chef du Jour competition I had spotted through Facebook that Head Chef Kate Lawlor had very cleverly put together where entrants emailed her with a 4 course menu of their choosing which had to be under 22.50euro per person. So I thought i'd give it a go.

My menu as follows:

Amuse Bouche- Cherry tomato stuffed with basil pesto and goats cheese on a salted cracker 

Starter- Mussels in cider, bacon and garlic

Mains- Slow roasted pork belly in sage and garlic, potato and horseradish puree, braised red cabbage and bramley apple with a mulled wine Jus

Dessert- A trio of desserts- White chocolate cheesecake, mixed berry and rum crumble, meringue tower with vanilla cream and strawberries.

So a few weeks later I got an email to tell me that my menu had been chosen along with a menu by Jeni Pimm from Co. Waterford, I had been given the first night and Jeni the second. I emailed off my Recipes in full to Head Chef Kate and let the excitement kick in by broadcasting my news all over Facebook and Twitter, all that was left to do was practice my dishes and wait.
Prep work

On Tuesday morning I headed down to Cork City with the help of Tiffany (my rather posh Sat Nav) and had a quick lunch with Kate in the restaurant and then took a walk around the city and into the English market, which I could have spent all day in to be honest- I will be back! Then back to the restaurant to get started on prep work for the evenings service.
Before 'Kick-off'

Hard at work with Head Chef Kate

The kitchen staff were more than friendly and I felt like I had just slotted into their team, nothing was any trouble for them to help me with, Especially when I messed up my first attempt of making my meringues through nerves. But they calmly talked me through it and second batch turned out perfect.
Plating up

Amuse Bouche

There was a few ingredients missing from my recipes which, for me, made a few elements of the mains not turn out how I had wanted and how I knew would have been superb. No cider vinegar or cloves for the Braised cabbage which I really knew that snap was missing when tasting it and had to improvised on the mulled wine Jus which was a world away from how mine usually is, a rich, deep red glossy and nearly syrupy Jus which sets the taste buds dancing. Unfortunately what we came up with was weak and looked split, nice flavour but not my creation. And lastly the potatoes were really not up to how I would have liked them, I had wanted a smooth creamy puree but ended up with mash with lumps... And I know I was there as acting Head Chef and should have protested more on these subjects but with nerves and the whole new experience of it all I let it go.
 Mussels with bacon and garlic

Plating up the mains

The good folk that turned out to taste my meal were such a lovely bunch of people. some were chefs and others restauranters  and the comments i got of them at the end really blew me away. One chef had said that my standard was up there with fine dining restaurant standards and another lady said she'd be happy to serve my food in any of her establishments. I came away from the night with a great sense of achievement and a score of 3.5.
Taking a break and taking in the great comments

Awarded my stars with Kate

Jeni was up next night and from the pictures I seen on twitter cooked up a storm of beautiful looking dishes along with an extra treat of Petits Fours for the judges. Jeni scored a whopping 4.5 and I really do wish her all the best for the future and really hope she enjoyed her night as much as I did, Hats off to you Jeni and congrats!!!

There have been a few reviews of the nights from some of the judges Elke O'Mahony and with Billy Lyons just simply click on their names to have a read.

I think what Kate has done here is such a fantastic and creative opportunity for the 'average Joe' like myself, I wish to thank her for the experience and wish her all the best with her wonderful establishment.
This has really given me a boost of confidence with my cooking and will only drive me onwards and upwards, I am still unsure if I would like to pursue a career in a kitchen as cooking for me is all about relaxing and enjoying taking the time to produce the food you want to produce but all in all it really was a fantastic night I will never forget and a wonderful head chef experience

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...