Monday, 24 February 2014

Flaky Pastry

Going by the hits on YouTube, this is my most sought after recipe that I have made a video for. It was one of the first video recipes I made and certainly not the best of quality, but it has proved popular with almost 30,000 hits. As I have often said I have not had a life long passion for cooking but this is something I was making from an early age as it is my mothers recipe. I just love this pastry, its perfect for both sweet and savory dishes.
The video is down at the bottom of this post, check out the quick hand action half way through... no special effects, honest ;)

If you would like to see new videos, leave me a comment down at the bottom.

Gorgeous homemade flaky pastry

This recipe has a very strict set of instructions but if you follow them carefully you will never buy again!! Yes, it’s that good!

*The secret of this recipe is to only do the bare minimum.*

 Makes about 500g of pastry:
240g plain flour
180g margarine
30g lard
Pinch of salt
Cold water to mix


The margarine and lard should be at room temperature.

Put flour in mixing bowl, add pinch of salt. Cut off 120g of margarine and cut off into small pieces into bowl. Now get in with clean hands and lightly mix the margarine through the flour.

Add the water by degrees while mixing with a knife until it just about forms dough. Empty the mixing bowl out onto a dusted work surface, form the shape of a square and roll out into a rectangle; one roll should suffice.  

Cut off small pieces of the remaining margarine and the lard and butter in small clumps. Roll up the pastry, turn the pastry 90° and roll it out again repeating the process until the margarine and lard has been used.

*Note how the pastry is barely worked...

Fold up the last time and wrap in Clingfilm or foil and put in fridge for at least an hour before using.

The pastry can be frozen at this point.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Thai Style Turkey Burgers

I had better put this recipe up as I spoke about it on Clare FM last Thursday and have had a few people ask again for the recipe. The recipe also appears in the book under the 'Lunch' section. 
It has been busy times of late but finally getting my mojo back and getting into the kitchen experimenting, perfecting and snapping again. There are more things in the 'pipeline'.... if this pipeline gets any longer the county council will be looking me to get planning permission!!! But, it is a good complaint that people, businesses and corporations are interested in me and what I am doing. Bring it all on, the more the merrier!!

Thai-Style Turkey Burgers

Turkey is the leanest of meats, so using turkey mince can wipe some of the guilt free of having a very tasty succulent burgers for lunch.

Makes 4 large burgers:

4 spring onions
1 red chilli
A thumb-sized piece of peeled ginger
400g turkey mince
A small bunch of coriander leaves
50ml of rapeseed oil
Crusty bread baps
Fresh salad leaves
Sweet chilli sauce to serve


Thinly slice the spring onions, de-seed and slice the chilli and grate the ginger.
In a large mixing bowl add the turkey mince, spring onions, ginger, chilli, coriander and oil. Now get in there with clean hands and start scrunching everything together until really well combined.
Divide the mix into 4 and using clean hands form 4 burgers. Place them on an oiled baking tray or plate, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour to ‘firm up’. This will ensure they keep shape and don’t fall apart when grilling.

Grill the burgers on just higher than medium heat for about 6-8 mins either side ensuring they are cooked through. Serve in some fresh crusty baps with in season salad leaves and a generous dollop of sweet chilli sauce.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Ireland AM debut

It's 11.32am and I'm sitting in a hotel room in Cork listening to the rain pounding the window and seeing pictures of the flooded city come up on my news feed on Facebook. I had endured a horrific drive from Dublin to Cork last night, keeping the car on the road was a challenge, but it was worth it to see Amy after my long day and to have a gorgeous steak and enjoy a few pints of Guinness.
My day yesterday started with my alarm going off at 4.37am (I can't set my alarm on an even number... It's my "thing"), 2 snoozes later and I was up just before 5am and hopped into the shower (in reality, crawled to the shower). I got dressed and went straight to the kitchen to make a risotto, not the conventional breakfast I know but this was because I was heading to Dublin to the TV3 studios to have my debut cookery slot on Ireland AM. I was making the risotto to have the final product at hand in case I was short for time before my slot in the studios. I knew my slot was going to be about 6 mins long and obviously wouldn't have a risotto made in that time so I had to plan out to show a few steps and then show the final product from 'Here's one I made earlier'!!
I packed up the car, put the dogs out in the run (much to their disgust... as usual) and headed for the studios in Dublin. I arrived at the studios bang on time and absolutely bursting to pee (the coffee and then a litre of water drank in the car on an empty stomach wasn't my brightest moment), so I got signed in, relieved, and then started to set up in their kitchen studio. I gotta say I was made very welcome by all members within TV3.

I have the video of the links and cookery slot below, kindly put together by Brendan (Amy's dad), so there is no need for me to drone on about it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and through it I know the type of recipes do do for future cookery slots... this is still all a learning exercise for me, but I am a fast learner!!!

Here is the recipe from the book and from the show:

Bacon, leek and Pea Risotto

This is quite a healthy risotto as I use low fat spray instead of butter and low fat soft cheese instead of Mascarpone which is quite heavy on the calories. But the main change is the rice… or lack of it. Instead of using the traditional Arborio rice, I’m using Pearl barley instead. Barley is a lot less carbs and a lot more fibre, per 100g the pearl barley is 230 calories less than the Arborio rice.

The sweetness of the leeks and peas really make this mouth-watering! Risottos have an air of intimidation about them but really all they take is some attention, but that attention will lead to a wonderful meal.
Tip: keep the stock warm in a separate saucepan on a low/medium heat. It cuts cooking time and makes the risotto come together better.
Serves 4:
100g bacon lardons
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
3 medium leeks finely
Low fat spray
200g pearl barley
700ml chicken stock
A handful of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of low-fat soft cheese
Crushed black pepper


Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic, wash and finely slice the leeks.
Spray some low fat oil into a large saucepan and fry off the bacon lardons, crisping them up. Then add another spray of oil and gently fry off the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes, add the leeks and sweat for 3-4 minutes.
Pour in the barley and stir around for a minute to gently toast then add in a ladle and a half of the warm stock. Stir around frequently. When this has absorbed pour in another ladle of stock in and the peas continue adding the stock ladle by ladle, each time it’s fully absorbed, until all the stock is used up.
When all the stock is used up in the risotto remove it from the heat, add in the low-fat soft cheese and season with cracked black pepper and stir well. Serve immediately.

I am working on a host of new recipes, most will be healthy, low fat  but brimming with flavour... and of course there will be a few indulgent ones too. Stay tuned :)

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