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

Method

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
Method
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.

Calories 466
58 calories per portion
Makes 8 portions:
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

Method
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

Method
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.



Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Balsamic Chicken and Chorizo

Balsamic Chicken and Chorizo
I made this dish again as a quick and no fuss meal. It’s quite healthy served with steamed broccoli or couscous. Alternatively you can have it with pan fried potatoes or sweet potato wedges.

Calories 816
204 per portion
Serves 4
4 medium chicken fillets
A finger length piece of chorizo sausage
1 red, 1 green and one yellow pepper
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
100ml chicken stock
1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
Sea salt & black pepper


Method

Preheat oven at 180°c. Drizzle some olive oil in a roasting tray, cut the chicken fillets in half lengthways and season them and place in tray. Slice the chorizo and add to the tray also.
Peel and slice the onion, de-seed the peppers and cut into thin strips. Bang the garlic with the back of knife, this releases the flavour more.
In a pan put a splash of oil and add your sliced onion and stir fry for a few mins until softened. Add in the peppers and garlic, fry for another minute then tip the mixtures over the chicken in the roasting tray.
Pour over the stock and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle over the herbs and roast in oven for 30 mins. Halfway through the cooking time, give it all a good stir around and spoon the juices over the top.

Check that the chicken is cooked through before serving.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Peppered Beef and Green Vegetable Stir-fry

Peppered Beef and Green Vegetable Stir-fry
Putting a simple stir-fry like this together is not only simple and speedy but also very healthy. We got lean steak, fresh vibrant green vegetables and rice noodles which contain no fat. They are 95% rice flower which contain no gluten, fat, salt or sugar. Rice noodles can be found in most supermarkets, but if you are having trouble finding them, they will be found in any Asian supermarket.

Calories 1118
559 per portion
Serves 2:
200g of rice noodles
1 medium sirloin steak
Black pepper
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 large green pepper
2 medium courgettes
Half a head of broccoli
Rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of honey

Method
Cook the rice noodles according to the packets instructions.
Trim all excess fat from the steak and slice into thin strips, season with a generous amount of freshly crushed black pepper and set aside. Peel and slice the onion and garlic, deseed and slice the green pepper thinly, slice the courgettes and cut the broccoli head into small florets.
In a very hot wok add some rapeseed oil and allow it to heat, carefully stir-fry the beef until sealed all over then remove and set aside. Add another splash of oil to the wok and add in the onion and garlic and stir-fry for about 2 mins until slightly softened. To this add in the green pepper, courgette and broccoli and stir-fry for another 3-4 mins until cooked but not softened too much. Add in the soy sauce, oyster sauce and honey, give it all a good toss and add the beef and cooked noodles.

Cook for a further 2 mins on a high heat, tossing and stirring the wok to reheat the beef and noodles. Serve into 2 large bowls immediately.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage

Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage
This is my take on quite a regular weekly dinner for some. This version really ups the flavour stakes and will definitely leave you wanting more.



Serves 4:
1kg of floury potatoes, diced with skins left on
4 thick pork chops on the bone
1 bulb of garlic
200g packet of bacon lardons
24 fresh sage leaves
2oz of softened butter
4 dried apricots finely diced
Rapeseed oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Method
Preheat the oven to 220°c. Put the potatoes into a saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for 4-5 mins; you only want to par-boil them. Drain them in a colander and let them dry off in the steam.
Lay the pork chops flat on a chopping board and insert a small paring knife in horizontally into the chop and make a hidden pocket making sure the tip of the knife does not come out either side.
On a clean board place the butter, dried apricots, a finely chopped clove of garlic, 8 chopped sage leaves and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Now mash all together with a fork making it into a flavoured butter. Push this butter equally into the pockets of the pork chops.
Take 8 leaves of sage and dress them in rapeseed oil and then dip one side down in some plain flour and push one flour side down onto each side of the chops. Set aside.
In a large oven dish pour in the potatoes along with the bacon lardons and the rest of the cloves of garlic, season and drizzle with oil. Place into the preheated oven. After 10 mins place a frying pan onto a hot hob and add a drizzle of oil, when the pan is really hot put in the chops and fry for 10 mins turning occasionally to get them nice and golden.

Remove the dish from the oven and add the chops on top in a layer, pop back into the oven for 10-15 mins depending on the thickness of the chops.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Hot Buffalo Wing’s with Blue Cheese Dip

Hot Buffalo Wing’s with Blue Cheese Dip
There are a few restaurants that are famed for their buffalo wings, and of course they are ‘secret recipes’. Well I have been determined to work out that recipe as I absolutely love this dish. After a lot of trials and errors, this is the recipe… and if not well it’s pretty damn close and I love it. It wouldn't be classed as low fat but can be a treat once in a while… and what a treat it is!


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 to serve

For the Blue Cheese Dip:
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

Method

Combine all the ingredients for the dip and place in the fridge for an hour before needed.
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.
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).
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.
In a large bowl place the cooked wings and pour over the sauce and toss to give a good even coat.
Serve with the cooling Blue Cheese Dip and a few sticks of celery.


Roast Butternut Squash with Chilli, Rosemary and Garlic.

Roast Butternut Squash with Chilli, Rosemary and Garlic.
Butternut squash was something I never tasted until I grew my own. It’s a very versatile vegetable. It can beef up any meal plus it stores really well. It works beautifully in a curry as a substitute for neat. This dish goes well with chicken, pork or fish and is a great substitute for potatoes.

Calories 410
103 per portion
Serves4:
1 large or 2 small butternut squash (1kg)
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
Few sprigs of rosemary
Olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Method

Slice the squash length ways in half then in half again. Cut out the seeds section with a knife or scoop out with a spoon. Peel of the skin as it can be a little tough and cut the squash into wedges or chunks and place it a small roasting tray.
Put the cloves of garlic onto a chopping board and bash with the flat of a knife. Add them into dish along with a finely chopped chilli and the rosemary. Run some oil over, season with some salt and black pepper and toss it all about together. Roast in a preheated oven at 190°c for about 45 mins.
When finished roasting squeeze the juice of a half a lemon over the top and serve.



Friday, 23 January 2015

Oats-So-Peachy Breakfast Bake with Mexican-inspired Yogurt Moose

Oats-So-Peachy Breakfast Bake with Mexican-inspired Yogurt Moose

I will be baking this recipe today on Late Lunch Live on TV3.

This is a great weekend breakfast or brunch recipe, there is a lot of slow released energy in it so it is worth the effort.


Serves 4:
120g porridge oats
55g brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 egg whites
125ml skimmed milk
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tin of peaches-drained
A small handful of dried cranberries
A small handful of raisins
2 teaspoons of chopped walnuts

For the yogurt moose
300ml Greek Yogurt
A squirt of honey
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°c.
In a medium bowl mix the oats, sugar, salt and baking powder.
In another medium bowl gently whisk the egg whites, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour this into the dry ingredients in the first bowl and give it all a stir. Allow this to sit for about 5-7 mins until the oats have absorbed all the liquid.
Chop the peach segments roughly and stir them into the mix along with the cranberries and raisins.
Lightly oil a medium sized oven dish or 4 portion-sized oven-proof dishes and divide the mixture between them. Top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and bake for 30-35 mins. Allow to stand for 5 mins when it is finished cooking.

To make the moose put the yogurt into a blender along with the honey, chilli powder and cinnamon and blend until light and airy. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
Simple, warming, healthy and flavoursome… Bingo!
Sweet potatoes are a superfood, packed with antioxidants that boost the immune system to fight against viral infections and even cancer. They are energy boosting too along with tasting fantastic!

Calories 583
291 per portion
Serves 2:
4 medium sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Cayenne pepper
Sea salt and black pepper
Method
Lightly scrub the sweet potatoes and cut them into chunky full length wedges. Preheat the oven at 200°c.
In a large saucepan of salted water, parboil the wedges for 3-4 mins then drain in a colander and allow to steam dry for a few mins.
Place on a lightly oiled tray and drizzle with a little olive oil then sprinkle with cayenne pepper, sea salt and black pepper. 

Roast in the oven for 20 mins.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad
I just love the versatility of a Butternut squash, I use at least one per week, it is beautiful simply roasted like in this recipe, it can also be a great substitute for meat in a curry and it makes a beautiful soup.

This recipe has a great natural protein base coming from the squash, broccoli and lentils and minimal carbs from the brown rice so is ideal meal for after a training session… it also fills a lunchbox very well for the next day’s smash and grab lunch. It is a great recipe for kids as it is full of wonderful nutrients for growth


Calories 1047
262 per portion
Serves 4:
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced (reserve seeds)
1 tsp olive oil
60g brown rice
60g Puy lentils
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
50g dried cranberries
juice 1 lemon

Heat oven to 200c. Clean off the stringy membrane from the seeds, wash them in a sieve and dry using kitchen paper, lightly oil a flat baking sheet and spread the seeds on it. Spread the squash over a large baking tray, drizzle over the oil and bake for 35 mins or until tender. Bake the seeds for about 10 mins until they start to pop.

Meanwhile, cook the rice and lentils in boiling salted water for 20 mins, adding the broccoli for the final 4 mins of cooking. Drain well, then stir in the cranberries and add some seasoning. Add the squash seeds and squeeze over the lemon juice and serve.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup

Chinese Chicken and Sweetcorn Soup
I love this soup, authentic Chinese food is what I aim to cook, and you can be guaranteed that the Chinese people do not eat the kinda food we get in Ireland in their takeaways. China does not suffer high obesity rates like other countries do.

There is a little bit more work to put into this soup than in most others, but it is worth it.


Serves 6:
1 large chicken fillet
1 litre of chicken stock
A dash of sesame oil
An inch sized piece of ginger
1 tin of sweetcorn
2 tablespoons of corn flour
2 egg whites
Spring onion to garnish

Method
Poach the chicken fillet by covering it with water in a medium saucepan, place it on a high heat until it starts to bubble then reduce to an easy simmer for 20 mins until cooked and tender. Remove it from the water and allow cooling on a plate, reserving the cooking water for later. When the fillet is cool shred it by pulling it into long thin strips.
In a large saucepan pour in a litre of stock and a dash of sesame oil, grate in the ginger and add the sweetcorn from the tin. Place on a high heat and bring to the boil. In the meantime using some of the poaching water in a cup; make a thin paste with the corn flour. Also beat the 2 egg white lightly with another dash of the poaching water in a separate cup.
When the large saucepan has reached boiling point, add the shredded chicken, return to the boil and stir in the corn flour paste. Now from a height of about 15cm gently drizzle in the egg white mix while stirring (this will ensure it doesn’t clump together and that it will cook fully).

Check for seasoning and add a pinch of salt if needed. Serve with a garnish of spring onion cut on the diagonal.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Pan Fried Fillet of Sea Bream

Pan Fried Fillet of Sea Bream
For me sea bream is just as, if not tastier than sea bass and its more sustainable so mother earth will love you for it!! Feel free to use any white fish for this. You can buy a whole fish and fillet it yourself or get your fish monger to do it for you. I have mine with a simple baby leafed salad and goats cheese.

Calories 299
Serves 1:
1 whole sea bream or 2 fillets
Sea salt and black pepper
1 clove of garlic
A knob of butter
1 sprig of thyme
Olive oil
1 lemon

Method

Sprinkle each fillet with ground black pepper and a little sea salt on the flesh side
In a pestle and mortar pour in a little sea salt and add a peeled garlic clove and ground together into a paste. Add in the knob of butter and mix it through. Pick the thyme leaves of the sprig and coat in a little olive oil so they don’t burn too quickly.
Place a large frying pan on a high heat and add the butter-paste and the thyme leaves. When the pan is hot add the fish fillets skin side down and cook for a minute or 2 until the flesh has turned white half way up. Add a squeeze of lemon on them and carefully flip them over and cook for a further 2 mins. Don’t overcook them but do insure all the flesh in the thickest part is white.

Serve with a nice fresh salad or some new baby potatoes

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Guilt Free Pannacotta

 Guilt Free Pannacotta
Pannacotta is normally made using double cream. The double cream does give it a deep richness; however when made this way it is lighter but still as tasty minus the double creams-double calories.


Serves 4
600ml semi skimmed milk
1 vanilla pod (or dash of vanilla essence with vanilla beans)
125g caster sugar
4 sheets of leaf gelatine
200ml natural low-fat yogurt

Sauce
200g frozen blueberries
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method
Pour the milk into a medium sized saucepan, split the vanilla pod down the middle and scrape the seeds into the milk. Heat the milk gently and add the sugar, stirring until it dissolves. In the meantime place the gelatine leaves into some cold water for a few mins to soften them.
Once the milk starts to bubble, remove it from the heat. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine leaves, add them to the milk and stir until they dissolve and allow the mixture to cool before passing through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl.
Once the mixture has cooled completely add the yogurt and stir to infuse. Pour the mixture into the pudding moulds and chill them in the fridge for a few hours or ideally overnight.
To make the sauce, thaw the blueberries and add them along with the sugar and lemon juice to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few mins until the berries are heated through. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
To unmould the pannacotta’s dip each mould into a bowl of warm water for a few seconds then carefully turn over onto each serving plate, give a little shake and they should slide out. Serve with a dressing of blueberries in their sauce.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Grilled Homemade Beef Burgers

Grilled Homemade Beef Burgers
I’m not really a fan of beef burgers, even if I did take a notion to eat in a fast food joint, a burger would be the last thing I’d go for. I normally just find them bland and as for the salad they put on top…  “Hold the raw onions, hold the thick slice of tomato and hold the full lettuce… thanks”.

These burgers however, I love! They are seasoned, flavoured with spice and have great texture, plus you know exactly what is going into them. I won’t tell you how to dress your burger as everyone has their own likes and dislikes.

Calories 1900
238 per burger (burger only)

Makes about 8 burgers:
1 large bag of O' Donnell cheese and onion crisps
1 large red onion
1kg of good quality steak mince
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds
1 teaspoon of celery salt
1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of crushed black pepper

Method
In a clean tea towel bash up the cream crackers with a rolling pin until fine (this feels good!)
Peel and finely chop the red onion. Then slowly cook it in a frying pan for a few minutes with some oil, this will give the burgers the sweetness.
Add the bashed crackers, red onion and mince to a large mixing bowl. Crack an egg in and add the portions of spices and seasoning, now with clean hands, get stuck in and combine everything together scrunching it through your fingers until everything is well incorporated. (This also feels good-in a weird kinda way).
Make about 8 similar sized burgers by rolling a portion of the mix in your hands firmly then flatten into burger shape. Place them on a clean plate and allow to rest in the fridge for about an hour to firm up, this stops them falling apart when cooking. (The burgers can be frozen at this point to use for another day).
Line a grill tray with tinfoil and place the rack back on top then preheat the grill on medium high for a few minutes. Cooking time will all depend in the thickness of your burgers but 4-5 mins either side works for me, then like any meat, rest them for a few mins before serving on toasted buns.


Friday, 16 January 2015

3 Ingredient Banana Ice-cream

3 Ingredient Banana Ice-cream
If you want to make the handiest, healthiest and most kid-friendly ice-cream ever, this is for you!
This is also a great way to use up bananas that are going off. Just peel them, pop them into a freezer bag and bung into the freezer until needed.

Calories: 444
222 calories per portion or see below fro breakdown

Serves 2
3 frozen bananas -330 calories (165 pp)
1 tablespoon of honey - 20 calories (10 pp)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter - 94 calories (47 pp)

Method
Roughly chop the frozen bananas and place in a blender or food processor; they will blend up smooth after about a minute so stick with it. Once it looks like it’s starting to get smooth, add in the honey( and peanut butter if using.
Serve with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and divide out into 2 glasses/bowls/cones etc.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Red Wine Poached Pears

I'll be cooking this dish today on Late Lunch Live on TV3!!!

Red Wine Poached Pears

These are a little time consuming but very much worth the effort. Not only do they look elegant but they taste superb served with ice-cream.



Serves 4
400ml red wine
5 Tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
4 pears

Method
Combine all the ingredients except for the pears into a suitable sized saucepan that 4 pears will fit into and place on a hot hob. Stir over the heat until the honey dissolves then bring to the boil and reduce to a steady simmer.
In the meantime core the pears from the bottom and scoop out the core and seeds without disturbing the top and stem, now carefully peel the pears with a speedy peeler.
Add the pears to the simmering wine syrup and allow them to simmer untouched for 12-14 mins, then turn them over and simmer for a further 8-10 mins until tender when pierced with a fork. Carefully remove them from the saucepan and allow to cool.

Turn up the heat and reduce the wine syrup by half and use this to pour over the pears when serving.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Baked Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas

Baked Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas
Sweet potatoes are the dawg!! Healthier than the humble spud and in my opinion tastier, they take a shorter time to cook. I just love this one dish wonder, the flavour that comes from the dark chicken meat seeps into the rest of the dish giving you a warm welcoming pat on the back… ‘Well done my son’.
Calories 2366
591 per portion
Serves 4:
2 red onions
600g sweet potatoes
12 cherry tomatoes 2 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
8 chicken thigh fillets or 4 chicken thighs-skinned
1 tin of chickpeas (rinsed)
A bunch of parsley
Method
Preheat your oven to 200°c.
Peel the red onions and cut into thick wedges, peel and chop the sweet potatoes into large bite sized pieces. Add all these to a large roasting dish along with the cherry tomatoes and sliced garlic. Drizzle over a tablespoon of the oil and toss around. Roast for 20 mins.
In the meantime season the chicken thigh fillets. Heat a large frying pan on a high heat with a tablespoon of the oil and when hot brown off the chicken thigh fillets in a few batches (so they brown rather than braise). Add these to the oven dish and bake for another 15 mins.
Remove the oven dish, add the rinsed chickpeas along with the parsley and toss around for a minute until heated.

Serve with a simple side salad.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Pollock and Tomato Chowder

Pollock and Tomato Chowder
Without boring you with the details, Pollock is a more sustainable fish compared to Cod or Haddock. It basically means it hasn’t been as widely fished as the previously mentioned, it is very similar to Cod and to be perfectly honest you would be fine pushed to taste the difference, so much so that it has emerged in recent years that Pollock has been sold in various places throughout Ireland and the UK as ‘Cod’.


Calories 1459
365 per portion
Serves 4
Rapeseed oil
2 medium onions
2-3 sticks of celery
2 medium carrots
2 large potatoes
1 green pepper
A sprig of thyme and a bay leaf tied
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
900ml fish or veg stock
Sea salt and black pepper
A few dashes of tabasco sauce
600g of Pollock fillets
A bunch of parsley

Method
Peel and chop the onions, carrots and potato, chop the celery and deseed and slice the green pepper.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, when hot add the onion and celery and cook until softened, add the carrots, potatoes, pepper and tied herbs. Cook for a further 6-7 mins then add in the chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a steady simmer for 8 mins. Add some black pepper and a few dashes of tabasco sauce.
Season the Pollock fillets with sea salt and black pepper and lay them on top of the veg in the saucepan, cover with a lid and continue to simmer for 3-4 mins until the fish is cooked through. Using a wooden spoon, gently break up the fish into chunks into the broth.
Divide the chowder into separate bowls and garnish with some freshly chopped parsley.


Monday, 12 January 2015

Pork, Beetroot and Orange Salad

Pork, Beetroot and Orange Salad
What a combination we have here, the earthiness of the beets combining with the freshness of the orange just compliment the pork so well. Beets are so easy to grow, even in patio tubs and are full of antioxidants and a rich source of magnesium and potassium which benefit a healthy heart. Pork fillet is lean and rich in protein and of course orange is a great source of vitamin C.

Calories 835
417 per portion
Serves 2:
350g pork fillet trimmed
Sea salt and black pepper
A teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons of cider vinegar
4 baby beetroot-precooked
1 large orange
Seasonal leaves

Method
Preheat the oven to 200°c.
Season the pork fillet all over with the salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Heat the oil in a medium frying pan until hot and add the pork fillet searing it, giving it a nice brown colour all the way around. Place it in an oven dish and place in the oven for about 20 mins.
While the pork is roasting, segment the orange and place them in a bowl, squeeze one or 2 segments into the bowl for juice. Finely chop or crush the garlic clove, quarter the beets, set aside.
When the pork is cooked through, remove from the oven and allow to rest and cool. Reheat the pan; add another splash of oil if needed and gently fry of the garlic for a minute. Add the cider vinegar, beetroot and season to taste. Add the orange segments and juice and cook for a minute or 2 until heated through and the liquid reduced slightly. Carve the pork into medallions.
Serve over some washed seasonal leaves and drizzle the pan juice over the top.




Sunday, 11 January 2015

The Perfect Roast Chicken

The perfect roast chicken

I’m not going to preach about chickens and how you should only buy free range ones etc. I keep a few hens myself and they are free range but when it comes to buying them in a supermarket I buy whichever one I can afford at the time. Sometimes the ideal world has to wait!

TIPS: Removing the wishbone before cooking makes it much easier to carve. There is no real technique to it just carefully run a knife in around the 2 sides of the bone and in behind it and it should pull free.
If during carving you notice the legs haven’t cooked fully through, don’t panic but don’t serve them. Carve them off and put them back into the oven for 10 mins. Better late than never!


Serves 4:
1x 1.6kg (affordable) chicken
1 medium onion
1 carrot
2 sticks of celery
1 bulb of garlic
1 lemon
Bunch of thyme
Olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper

Method
Remove the bird from the fridge a half an hour before you start. Preheat oven up at max. Wash and chop the veg roughly, no need to peel them. Break the garlic bulb into cloves and give them all a bit of a smack with the flat of the knife.
Throw all the veg into a suitable sized roasting tray minus 3 cloves of garlic. Cut the string that ties the chicken so it ‘relaxes’; push a sharp knife down the inside of the leg beside the breast, as this is the last place to cook fully. Prick the lemon all over with a knife and stuff it into the cavity along with the thyme and 3 cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with salt and pepper.
Pop the bird on top of the vegetables and place in the hot oven. Keep it up max for 15 mins then turn it down to 190°c for 1 hour 10 mins, baste it a few times during that time. Add a little water to the veg if it’s looking dry but there should be enough juices coming from the bird.
After the cooking time is up skewer the meatiest part of the leg insuring the juices run clear. If not, put back in oven for 10 mins.
Set the cooked chicken on a clean chopping board and cover with foil and a clean tea towel. Allow to rest for at least 15 mins.

Carving: Pull off the wings (these can be used as flavouring in your gravy) cut down between the leg and the breast, cut through the joint and pull the leg off. This can be cut again between the thigh and the drumstick to give you 4 leg pieces. Angle your knife along the breastbone (this is easier done with wishbone removed) and carve the whole side off, you can them proceed to slice this. Repeat on other side them get stuck in pulling the remainder of meat off with your fingers, especially on underside. Serve all on a platter in the centre of the table.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Homemade Curry Sauce: Chinese Style

Homemade Curry Sauce: Chinese Style

I have noticed now for a while that most of the curry recipes in cook books are normally Indian style curries, but I honestly prefer Chinese curry so that why I taught myself to cook this one. This is a vegetable curry because let’s face it we don't need meat in all our dishes and when while may not be pushed on particular veg this is a great way of getting them because the curry flavours stick out more than the veg. Choose whatever veg you like, I normally go for cauliflower, butternut squash, mushrooms, courgettes etc. and trust me, you won’t even miss the meat!


Serves 4:
6 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 onions, finely chopped
Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 mild fleshy red chillies, seeds removed and chopped
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon chilli powder
2 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
125 ml water
2 1/2 tablespoon plain flour
400 - 500 ml vegetable stock
1 teaspoon onion seeds

Method
For the sauce: Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan or wok over a high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry for 3 mins, or until starting to soften but not brown. Add the ginger, garlic and chillies and continue stir-frying for 30 seconds, then reduced the heat to very low and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened but nothing colours. 

Stir in the spices, so the turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilli powder and curry powder and continue cooking very gently for a further 5 minutes. Don’t burn the spices, sprinkle on a few drops of water if you’re worried. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool a little. 

Put the water in a food processor or blender and add the contents of the pan. Blend until everything is smooth, then add the flour and blend again. Put the puréed mix back into the pan and simmer for 20–30 minutes (the longer the better in fact) over a very low heat, stirring occasionally. Add a little hot water if it starts to catch, but the idea is to gently ‘fry’ the sauce so that it darkens in colour to an orangey brown.
Once you have a thick paste, gradually stir in the stock and simmer, add in which ever vegetables you wish and allow them to cook while the sauce reduces and thickens, for 30 mins or so. Add in the onion seeds… for the image.

Serve immediately with some brown rice.


Friday, 9 January 2015

Heart Healthy Cherry Tomato and Herb Omelette

Heart Healthy Cherry Tomato and Herb Omelette
 This is mainly an egg white omelette, now of course you can make a regular one including the egg yolks but once you give this a try you will see that it is just as good without the yolks and much better for your heart, I add in one yolk just for colour. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes really comes through to meet the sharp herbs. I normally use herbs like chives, flat leaf parsley or mint… or a mix of all.

Tip. 1 large egg contains
74 calories... 14 of that is for 
the white.. 60 is for the yolk
Calories 314
Serves 1:
4 large eggs (1 whole and 3 white’s)
8-10 cherry tomatoes
A handful of mixed herbs- chopped
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper

Method

Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes, pour some olive oil into a non-stick grill proof pan and tip the cut tomatoes in. Season them well and fry them off for 1-2 minutes until just soft.
In the meantime put a grill onto high heat and lightly beat the egg whites in a bowl. Scatter the chopped herbs over the tomatoes and pour the beaten eggs over.
Quickly stir the eggs with a silicon spatula to even them out and make sure they cook evenly. Take off the heat as they start to set, grate a little cheese over the top (if using) and place under the grill for about 2-3 minutes.

Slide onto a warm plate and serve immediately.



Thursday, 8 January 2015

Buckwheat Salad

Buckwheat Salad
Buckwheat is a fantastic substitute for carbs such as rice or potatoes etc. It is rich in protein, magnesium and iron and contains Rutin, a substance that protects the heart. Buckwheat is gluten free and can be found in most supermarkets and in health food stores.


Calories 662
331 per portion
Serves 2
120g buckwheat
A pinch of salt
1 red pepper
Half a cucumber
A small tin of pineapple chunks
Feta cheese
Black pepper

Method
Rinse the buckwheat in cold water in a fine sieve and place in a medium saucepan, pour in 400ml cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer until all the water is absorbed, this takes about 20 mins.
In the meantime deseed and dice the pepper, dice the cucumber and drain the tin of pineapple chunks. When the buck wheat is cooked, fluff it through with a fork, add it to a mixing bowl and add the diced pepper, cucumber and the pineapple chunks. Mix gently but thoroughly.

Divide out among 2 serving plate, crumble some feta cheese over and season with a good pinch of black pepper before serving. 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Spicy Beef Wrap

This is my 3rd hay of healthier recipe ideas for all you good folk wanting to shift your Christmas pud's... God knows I need to shift my own! I want these recipes to show that cleaner eating doesn't have to be boring, the recipes are full of flavour and very easy to put together. We don't need fad diets that leave you energy-less, just good ingredients that balance our your diet as it should be which is roughly:

50% Carbohydrates
30% Fats
20% Protein


At the end of the day what we eat and drink determines our state of being, food and nutrition are crucial to health not only for the body, but for the mind and the emotions which I think we can all relate to. Modern ailments, sickness and diseases are caused by an imbalanced diet… junk food, takeaways, preservatives, additives, too much salt, sugar and animal fat… that mixed along with too much alcohol, and of course tobacco-which I know doesn’t come into food consumption, however it does surpass hunger and does come in the way of a healthy balanced diet. Now I’m not preaching or bullshitting off the top of my head, all of the above with the exception of tobacco used to be a part of my life… I literally am speaking from experience.

I have changed my eating habits and it has been the best change I have ever made, no downside, no repercussions, no negatives. It has led to a healthier body, weight loss (in a healthy way), a healthier mind and a much happier Paul. The way I see it is this… If you have a car, and most of us do… well, that car won’t function right if you don’t put the right stuff into it. How far would your car go without the right fuel (carbs), the right oil (protein), the right brake/clutch fluid and power steering oil (fats) and the right coolant (water)… now I’m certainly no mechanic but I do know that without the correct type and the correct amounts of all of these you will not have a full functioning car? The only difference is that a car will need serviced once or twice a year, our bodies need serviced on a daily basis-a few times a day in fact.

For me, having a healthy diet and watching what you eat is, or should be common sense. Yes you can get the percentages right-carbs v’s protein v’s fats– and you can be eating very fresh produce too but if you don't watch portion sizes and  don't get up of your backside and do some exercise then you will find that a healthy balanced diet may not make you look and feel as good as it should. There is no point in me going into depth on portion sizes as everyone’s size, metabolism rate and daily exercise routine is different… a bit like BMI (body mass index) it wouldn't be very accurate. As I say common sense goes a long way but if you are really stuck then a dietician would be happy to create a plan for portion sizes taking everything into account.

5 keys to a healthier diet:
 Cut down on convenience food and takeaways
 Try replacing meat with oily fish more often
 Reduce your intake of sugar, salt, coffee, fizzy drinks and alcohol
 Make your diet as varied as possible
 Use fresh ingredients as often as possible


Spicy Beef Wrap
This is a great simple lunch that will blow your socks off. It packs a super flavour punch. Alternatively it can be made with chicken or pork, even chicken dippers for a really easy option.

Serves 2:
2 medium sirloin steaks-fat trimmed
Olive oil
Paprika
Dried oregano
Cumin seeds
1 small red pepper
2 scallions
4 tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
2 low-fat tortillas wrap
Sweet chilli sauce
Fresh rocket

Method

Take the steaks out of the fridge 15 minutes before cooking, massage in a drop of olive oil and season both sides with the paprika, oregano and cumin seeds.
De-seed and finely slice the red pepper and the scallions, set aside. In a small bowl combine the sour cream and horseradish sauce and use as a dip.
On a screaming hot griddle pan place the steaks, 2 mins either side should suffice for medium steak, then remove and wrap in foil to rest for a few minutes (ideally 10-15 minutes) but as long as u wish.
Heat up the tortilla wraps as instructed by the packaging. Carve the steak into thin slices and arrange on the wrap how you wish, I spread on some sweet chilli sauce, top with peppers, scallions and fresh rocket. Serve with some low fat crisps and most of all.... Enjoy!




Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Sea Bass Fillets with Zingy Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onion

I love this recipe, sea bass is a wonderfully flavoursome fish, you could also try sea bream, plaice or red mullet here too. This can be used a s a light lunch or have it with some brown rice to make a dinner out of it.

Sea Bass Fillets with Zingy Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onion
This simple dish combines wonderful Thai style flavours to really compliment the beautifully delicate flesh of the sea bass with crispy skin.
Calories 916
229 per portion
Serves 4:
4 x sea bass fillets, about 140g each, skin on and scaled
1 tbsp sunflower oil
A large knob of ginger, peeled and shredded into matchsticks
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 fat, fresh red chillies deseeded and thinly shredded
A bunch spring onion, shredded long-ways
1 tbsp soy sauce

Season the fish with salt and pepper, then slash the skin 3 times. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and add 1/2 tbsp oil. Once hot, fry the fish, skin-side down, for 5 mins or until the skin is very crisp and golden. The fish will be almost cooked through. Turn over, cook for another 30 secs-1 min, then transfer to a serving plate and keep warm. You’ll need to fry the fish in 2 batches.
Heat the remaining oil, then fry the ginger, garlic and chillies for about 2 mins until golden, add a dash of soy sauce. Take off the heat and toss in the spring onions. Spoon the contents of the pan over the fillets.


Monday, 5 January 2015

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

I made this just on Saturday past and had forgotten just how good it tastes with minimal fuss.
I just roasted a chicken for it instead of using chicken fillets as it was more convenient for me. Again if you wanted you could always use turkey here instead of the chicken... either way will have you wanting more.

This would be a great lunch box filler for lunches during the week, I know I will be having it for lunch this coming week at work!

Vietnamese Chicken Salad
I love looking up recipes from around the world, there is a want in me to travel and taste all the glorious recipes from the different continents.  This salad came about using some basic ingredients from home with flair from Vietnam.
Calories 483
242 per portion
Serves 2:
3 shallots
Half a red chilli deseeded
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
3-4 black peppercorns
100ml rice vinegar
3 tablespoons of oyster sauce/fish sauce
1 large chicken fillet
Sea salt and black pepper
Quarter head of white cabbage
1 large carrot
A few sprigs of mint
A small bunch of coriander
A small handful of salted peanuts

Method
Peel and coarsely chop the shallots, add them to a large mortar and pestle along with chopped chilli and the sugar and black pepper. Grind it until soft and liquid is dispersed. Transfer this mix to a large bowl and stir in the rice vinegar and fish sauce. Set to one side.
Brush the chicken fillet with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill it under a medium/high heat for about 6-8 mins either side making sure it is cooked through. Allow to cool then shred with your fingers finding the natural grain.
Finely shred the cabbage and chop the carrot into fine matchsticks, take your time.  Add these to the vinegar mix, toss thoroughly then add the chicken, mint leaves, coriander leaves, toss like you would a normal salad until combined and top with a scatter of roughly chopped peanuts.



  

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Healthy recipes

Starting on Monday January 5th and running until Feb 1st I will be putting a healthy recipe up via the blog or via my social media... Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.
That is a full 4 weeks... 28 days of some old but more new recipes. My idea of healthy is based on a natural healthy balanced diet. getting the right mix of carbs, protein and good fats into your system.
This is an incentive to cut the takeaways, the processed food and the junk food and get into the kitchen to whip up your own nutritious food for you and your loved ones.

Healthy home cooking doesn't have to be a chore and it won't be with my easy to follow recipes. This new year you owe it to yourself and to your family to make the best fresh start... and your body will love you for it!!!
And remember.... "sharing is caring".... share the recipes on your own social media... spread the health glow!


Thursday, 1 January 2015

New years dinner

Happy and peaceful New Year to everyone!!!

It is going to be a very busy year ahead but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for lots of great new  healthy recipes. I, like many, will be going on a health surge in January and hope to continue it through the other 11 months of 2015. And of course there will be some very indulgent recipes thrown in there too, we can't be good all the time!!!

This is what I'm cooking up today for myself and Amy, and we will be joined by my eldest sister Michele, my other sister Louise and her husband and 2 kids... and of course Benny and Lexi will be on the hunt for leftovers!


Roast Leg of Lamb Stab-stuffed with Garlic Rosemary and Anchovy
Lamb is my meat of choice right now. The flavours that come of a leg roasted like this is second to none! Rosemary and garlic are classic flavours with lamb but the addition of the anchovy just brings an extra sweetness and salty spike.

Serves 4:
1x2.5kg leg of lamb
2 large onions
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
50g tin of drained anchovies
7-8 cloves of garlic
Few sprigs of rosemary
Olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
               

Method
 Remove the leg of lamb from the fridge a half hour before you start. Preheat oven to 180°c. Peel and cut the onion into thick wedges and roughly chop the carrots and celery, set aside.
Pat dry an anchovy fillet and wrap it around a halved garlic clove and a cut piece of rosemary then stab the lamb and push it into the hole. Do this all over about 15 times.
Drizzle over a little olive oil and season well, place in roasting tray with the selected vegetables and bung into the oven for 1 hour- 1 hour 15 minutes basting once or twice, until meat is tender.

Let it rest out of the oven for 15-20 minutes before carving, there is no real technique to carving. I stand it up holding the bone and cut off in thin slices.





My Holy Trinity Gravy
Now just in case anyone thinks that The Father, Son and Holy Spirit came up with this… they didn't, they only wish they did! But no, what I mean by ‘Holy Trinity’ is the 3 sauces I add to my gravy to make it ‘blow your socks off’. This technique works for any roast dinner so give it a try next Sunday. Any roast dish you make, always throw some vegetables in under and around the roast, these are not to eat but rather to help keep the roast moist and of course for flavour, then when the roast is done they are used for the gravy. Give this method a go… it is consistently amazing!

Tip: if you have no wine to use then use your imagination… cider, port, sherry, apple juice, orange juice etc. anything like this will do and if worse comes to worst just use the stock and add a squeeze of lemon.

Serves 4-6:
1 tablespoon of flour
A glass of wine (your choice)
1 litre of vegetable, chicken or beef stock
Black pepper
The Holy Trinity:
1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
Knob of butter
Method
Once you take your roast out and leave it to rest, spoon off the fat from the roasting dish then sprinkle the flour over the vegetables in the tray and mash them all together with a potato masher and stir well.
Pour in the wine of your choice and bung back into the hot oven (or if your tray is hob proof place it on a hot hob). Let the wine reduce then add your hot stock and allow to bubble for a little while.
Now carefully sieve the contents of the tray into a saucepan and place onto a hot hob, bring to the boil and add in ‘The Holy Trinity’. Reduce to a steady simmer until it thickens, season with black pepper, the soy should be salty enough.
When ready to serve up, take it off the heat and add a knob of butter and stir to dissolve, this will make it nice and shiny and silky smooth. Serve it up in a nice big gravy boat; you won’t have a drop left!


Roast Carrots with Orange and Cumin
This is one of my favourite dishes that come fresh from my garden. I use young summer carrots, if they are from your own garden, don’t peel them just give them a good scrub. Any slightly thicker ones just slice down the center. I mean you can use any kind of carrot but try and cut them to roughly the same size so they will cook at the same time. This works well with any roast dinner.

Serves 4
Olive oil
A knob of butter
600g of carrots
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
Sea salt & black pepper
Grated zest of 1 orange plus some juice

Method
Pour some olive oil and knob of butter into an oven dish and place into an oven preheated to 190°c. Prepare the carrots as said above.
Remove the tray insuring that the butter has melted and place the carrots in, sprinkle over the cumin seeds and season well. Place into the oven for around 30 mins covered with foil.
Remove from oven and remove the foil. Add in the grated orange zest and a good squeeze of juice. Stir all around and place back into oven for 20 mins.
Remove and serve right away.



Roast butternut squash with chilli, rosemary and garlic.
Butternut squash was something I never tasted until I grew my own. It’s a very versatile vegetable. It can beef up any meal plus it stores really well. This dish goes well with chicken, pork or fish and is a great substitute for potatoes.

Serves4:
1 large or 2 small butternut squash (1kg)
6-8 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
Few sprigs of rosemary
Olive oil
Sea salt & black pepper
Juice of half a lemon

Method

Slice the squash length ways in half then in half again. Cut out the seeds section with a knife or scoop out with a spoon. Peel of the skin as it can be a little tough and cut the squash into wedges or chunks and place it a small roasting tray.
Put the cloves of garlic onto a chopping board and bash with the flat of a knife. Add them into dish along with a finely chopped chilli and the rosemary. Run some oil over, season with some salt and black pepper and toss it all about together. Roast in a preheated oven at 190°c for about 45 mins.
When finished roasting squeeze the juice of a half a lemon over the top and serve.




Potato, Garlic and Chive Mash
Roasted garlic is sweet and full of flavour; this is the perfect mash to accompany any roast dinner.

Serves 4
1 medium whole bulb of garlic
Olive oil
800g floury potatoes
150ml whole milk
A knob of butter
Sea salt
Black pepper
Small snippet of chives

Method
On a sheet of tinfoil, drizzle the garlic bulb with olive oil then wrap it up in the foil and roast in the oven at 180c for 1 hour.
Peel and cut the potatoes into large similar sized chunks. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with cold water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the saucepan to the boil on a hot hob and cook for a further 15 mins until the potatoes can be pierced with a fork. Drain them into a colander in the sink and place back into the saucepan, cover the top of the saucepan with a clean tea towel and firm the lid back on. Allow to steam dry for 5-10 mins so the fluff up.
Gently heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan. Mash the potatoes in the saucepan with some seasoning the pour in the warmed milk. Mash this thoroughly until lump free. Cut the garlic bulb in half and squeeze out the lovely fragrant soft garlic flesh into the potatoes. Rapidly stir this into the potatoes and transfer to a serving dish, top with some fresh chopped chives.




And of course there will be roast potatoes but I just can't place my recipe... it will follow shortly




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