“Another year over and a new one just begun”. John Lennon was right about a lot of things and especially about Christmas. Time absolutely flies by when you have 3 young kids. They’re exciting little lives move at light speed compared to ours and this is what keeps us feeling young or wrecked, one feeling is merging into the other it’s beginning to feel normal these days. The anticipation in our house at the moment waiting for Santa Claus’ arrival is incredible. This is definitely going to be the most memorable one yet. The kids can’t wait and neither can we. We almost had snow this weekend in Co. Louth but it just didn’t make it this far. The Midlands got a nice little downfall but all we got was frostbite. I bought a sleigh for the kids (really me) back in 2010 and it has yet to see snow. I love the snow, I have nothing but fond memories of growing up in Dundrum Co. Dublin and heading up to Stackstown Golf Course during the annual snow fall only to be chased off the fairways by a Grinch, good times. Now I’m a little older and would probably be locked up if I tried it today. You never know though, you can’t beat a good chase to get the blood flowing.
I was going through our recipe for Eccles cakes yesterday and decided to put together a post of festive food. Below you will find links to some of our most popular ones. Enjoy.
Mince Pie Irish Coffee
Candy Cane meringue pie
Remy & Linguini’s Soup
On a side note, it seems every other person is an artisan of food these days and although that is good in showing the creativity out there it takes away from the genuineness of what it is to shop local. I recently paid €16 for a coffee, kids hot chocolate and two hand made buns in Co. Louth. This was a bit much of a bill to pay if it wasn’t for the awesome company of one of my kids we may have walked. We might be out of a recession with these prices but we are a little wiser with our spending and know what is quality over quantity.
Have a Merry Christmas and thank you so much for following and supporting us over the last couple of years. As you know our blog is a collection of some of our favourite recipes that we want to archive and share with you. We don’t do restaurant reviews or product test items. We just enjoy everything there is to do with food. Although our posts have slowed down of late our passion certainly hasn’t.
Stay tuned to us in 2018 for a food journey worth taking.
A cheese and tomato toastie is a classic go-to for that quick lunch. A handful of simple ingredients is all it takes, cheese, tomatoes and bread. Recently I learned a little tip for the perfect toasted sandwich. Most often the bread is buttered on the outside for a golden crust. Try mayonnaise or salad cream instead next time. It creates an extra flavour on the crust, taking away the greasiness of butter. I prefer the vinegary zing of salad cream myself as it goes incredibly well with the tomato.
The tomatoes are in full growth at the moment in our poly tunnel. We have to make the most of these fresh jewels. So this year I have been pickling them to help them last longer. It is a very simple process. Well worth a try.
A bunch of vine tomatoes
Vintage cheddar cheese
For the pickle
100ml malt vinegar
100ml red wine vinegar
100ml Shaoxing rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp brown sugar
Pinch of Maldon sea salt
Add the vinegars, sugar and salt to a bowl. Chop up the tomatoes into bitesize pieces. Add these to the pickling juice. Stir to make sure every tomato is coated in the pickle. Cover and set aside for an hour. Overnight is better. Spread salad cream on the bread. Don’t soak the bread in it or it won’t crust well. Heat up a dry non-stick frying pan. Place the slice of bread salad cream side down in the hot pan. Spoon some drained pickled tomatoes on top of the bread. Top with some grated cheese. As the bread toasts put the pan under the grill for a moment to melt the cheese. Once melted place the other slice of bread on top, salad cream side up, and flip it. Use a spatula to see when it’s golden brown. Accompanying the sandwich with a bag of cheese and onion King crisps is optional.
Note: The left over pickled juice can be used to make your own ketchup. Add it to a handful of roasted tomatoes and blitz it in a blender. Pour into a pot and reduce the sauce until it thickens. Adjust the flavour to your liking with sugar and tomato puree.
When God gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, unless God gives you sugar and water then that lemonade is gonna taste like shit.
We’re at peak summer holidays now. If you’re running short on what to do with the kids then this is quick and easy way to pass the time. As I’ve said here before, with three little kids of different ages, it’s not long before you are clutching at straws picking what to do next. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Netflix but if I have to watch another episode of Paw Patrol or Mako Mermaids when the weather turns, I think I’ll crack up.
400g caster sugar
1.3 litres of water
Fresh rosemary and thyme (couple of sprigs)
Lemon slices for garnish
Juice the lemons. Add the lemon juice, caster sugar and fresh herbs to a pot and gently heat. Allow this to cool. Strain the juice and add it to the water and chill in the fridge over night. If the kids can’t wait then serve it over ice and enjoy.
Al fresco doesn’t get much better this. We’ve been conditioned to eat a burger and bun while dining outside. You should try this fish taco to see what you’ve being missing. The flavours are refreshing and exciting, just the ticket for a dish amongst the trees.
400g boned salmon
3 bird eye chillies
3 shavings of lemon skin
1 spring onion
1 piece of fresh ginger
5 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp honey
Baby spinach leaves
Ice berg lettuce
Louisiana hot sauce
Tomato tortilla wraps
Lemon and lime wedges for garnish
Chop salmon into 1 inch pieces. Finely chop chillies and spring onion. Roughly chop ginger. Add salmon, chillies, spring onion, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey to a bowl. Mix to ensure fish is coated. Cover and set aside to marinate. The longer the better. Prepare wraps with a squirt of salad cream and a sprinkle of hot sauce. Layer up lettuce, spinach and coriander. Place sliced avocado on top. Now put marinated salmon on to skewers and BBQ or grill until done. Cut open a piece to ensure it’s cooked through. Place cooked salmon on top of avocado. Squeeze some lemon and lime over and wrap.
I like pie. Whats not to like? Easy to make and very satisfying. We are only a couple of days in to the summer holidays and the kids are already getting harder to keep stimulated. Enter the Ice Cream Pie. The kids had a lot of fun making this pie as it involves mixing a lot of ingredients into a sticky mess. I even fought to lick the spoon. I lost.
1 tub of vanilla ice cream
1 Cadburys Crunchie
1 Cadburys Caramel
1 pack Reeces peanut cupcakes
1 pack McVities Hob Nobs
1 cup brown sugar
50g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
140ml double cream
50g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 pinch of sea salt ( optional )
Let ice cream soften up out of the fridge. Chop up chocolate into small pieces. We used a rolling pin and bashed them in to uneven pieces. Blitz up Hob Nobs in a food processor. Pulse in 1 cup of brown sugar and 50g of melted butter. Allow crumbs to come together into a dough. In a shallow pan press out the dough to make a base for your pie. We used a disposable foil tray. Place biscuit base into a 160C pre-heated oven for 5 min. Take out and allow to cool. Pour melted ice cream into a large bowl and mix in the chocolate pieces. Pour this mix into the biscuit base and place into the freezer to allow to set. For the caramel sauce, pour the caster sugar into a saucepan. Add in 2 tablespoons of water. On a high heat melt the sugar down until the colour changes to a light brown. Once the colour is right take it off the heat and carefully stir in the butter, cream and vanilla essence. Set aside and allow to cool. Do not let the kids make this. Hot sugar is incredible dangerous. Gently warm up the caramel sauce before serving.
Rainbow trout is a delicious fish to eat. It has a delicate pink meat with a smooth texture, very pleasant to eat. It has a sweet flavour to it making it very easy to pair with other ingredients. This fish can be complimented by any means of cooking from a honey roasted fish or a peat smoked fish. In this case we have steamed it in a foil parcel. This method is our go to way of cooking fish because it is impossible to mess up. Some people feel intimidated by cooking fish. There is no need to using this technique. In your foil parcel you can put butter and some aromatics like lemon, lime, chillies or bay leaf. You can also add fresh herbs like dill and coriander. Accompanied by a fresh garden salad of spinach, kale, rocket and tomato all of which have picked from our garden and you have a happy little meal.
Warning! These little spicy veggie bites will not last long once served. Hot from the oil with the aroma of fresh lemon and coriander, add a sprinkle of sea salt and you have a beautiful little delight. Don’t worry, I ate mine as a side with a lemon butter basted chicken. We haven’t gone full veggie here, there will always be room for meat.
1 head of Cauliflower
2 cups flour
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cayenne
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Oil for frying
Fresh coriander and parsley for garnish
Lemon wedges to squeeze over top
Chop cauliflower into bite size pieces. Boil cauliflower in water. Don’t let cauliflower get soggy, try and keep a firm bite to it. Once ready drain off water and place cauliflower immediately into a bowl of ice cold water to stop it cooking. Drain off water again and allow cauliflower to completely dry. In a large bowl add the flour, turmeric, cayenne, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Stir together. In a separate bowl whisk up one egg. Get a pot, large enough for deep frying, and add oil, about 2 inches deep. In batches, take a piece of cauliflower and first dip it into the seasoned flour then the egg and then the flour again. Repeat this process for all the cauliflower. Deep fry the battered cauliflower until golden. Serve with freshly chopped coriander and parsley. Squeeze over lemon juice before eating.
1 fillet of monkfish
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp Pernod
Spinach, Rocket and Kale leaves
Maldon sea salt
Ground black pepper
Wedge of lime
Pre heat oven to 160C. Take a large sheet of tinfoil and place two slices of butter in the centre. Place the monkfish fillet on top of the butter with a sprig of dill and a wedge of lime. Fold up the foil around the fish to make a parcel. Place foil parcel in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Melt 50g butter in a pot. Mix in the flour to make a roux. Stir constantly on a low heat. Add the Pernod gently making sure not to split the sauce. Stir. Add milk and stir until the sauce is as thick as custard. Stir in some chopped dill and a pinch of salt. Steam the green leaves in a pot with some butter and a splash of milk. Season with salt and pepper. Once soft, squeeze off the liquid and serve with slices of monkfish and dill sauce.
We are all about seafood at the moment. We generally eat pretty well in our house but we always seem to lack on eating enough seafood. Which is unusual because it is the first thing we order when we eat out at a restaurant. Part of the reason I feel, is the lack of trust I feel when I see fish for sale in a supermarket. Is the fish fresh? Where and how was it caught? And why does it seem so expensive for what you get?. We live very close to the Irish Sea and to one of the eastern seaboards finest ports ‘Clogherhead’. Seamus Dunne is a wholesale fishmonger who supplies most of the restaurants of Drogheda. His fish is sourced fresh and prepared at his premises right on the pier at Clogherhead. Seamus works with his son ‘Kenneth’ descaling and cutting up a wide variety of fish. This family run business is everything we believe in here at our house. These guys are hardworking men who strive to get the best out of their products. I was put in touch with Seamus by his other son ‘James’ who has become a beer making buddy of mine. We often compare notes on our recent brewing samples. Last week I made the short trip out to the pier to pick up some fresh fish. I brought the family so they could see exactly where the fish is prepared. The variety of fish alone was impressive. It beats the 3 varieties normally offered in supermarkets. Watch this space for more fish recipes this week. We are armed with the finest.
20 Prawns (peeled and butterflied)
1 pink onion
3 large spring onions
8 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
Juice of 1 lime
100g unsalted butter
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp honey
Fresh coriander to serve
Finely chop onions and tomatoes. Soften onions in a deep frying pan with butter and paprika. Add in chopped tomatoes and tomato purée and simmer gently. Now pour in lime juice and sugar. Simmer. Add in prawns. When prawns are almost cooked pour in Tequila. Flambé the tequila carefully.
Once the prawns are cooked serve up dish with steamed rice and fresh coriander.
Recently we were asked by the fabulous Two Spots Coffee to make a special treat to compliment one of their latest varieties of coffee, a medium roast called “Bang Bang”. Two Spots are an Irish roasters who supply some of the freshest coffee as it’s roasted each week on site in Dublin. All of their coffee is named after famous Dublin characters. Bang Bang was a much loved Dublin character, a fan of cowboy films. He travelled the buses and trams of the city staging mock shoot-outs using a large church key.
We had the chance to meet up again with the guys at the opening of my ‘bother-in -law Alan’s’ class little delicatessen Skinny Batch where Two Spots coffee is being served fresh daily.
We have worked with Two Spots before on our Venison with garlic and black coffee sauce. This recipe is still one of our most frequently visited recipes. This time around it was time to make a sweet dish and here it is, a delicious version of a millionaire square. Be sure to drop in to Skinny Batch or order the coffee on-line at Two Spots Coffee to get the best out of this treat.
180g unsalted butter
8 tbsp golden syrup
2 large tbsp Bang Bang finely ground coffee
300g digestive biscuits
300g carnation caramel
1 tsp bang bang coffee granules
1 tbsp icing sugar
Put the unsalted butter, golden syrup, bang bang coffee granules, 30g chocolate into a saucepan and melt at a medium heat. Blitz the digestive biscuits in food processor. Add the biscuits to the melted mixture and mix well. Spread out into a lined grease proof tray. Flatten out with the back of a spoon or tap tray to allow the mix to sit evenly. Now put it into the fridge to set for approx 10-15 mins. Melt 370g chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Remove the biscuit base tray from the fridge. Layer over the caramel on biscuit base, then layer over the melted chocolate and leave to set in the fridge for 2 hours. Sift together a tsp of bang bang coffee and a tbsp of icing sugar. Remove the bang bang coffee caramel tray from the fridge. Cut into slices and dust with coffee and icing sugar mixture.