Saturday, 29 October 2011

most amazing fish and chips

One of my favourite comfort foods is fish and chips. When it is cooked well it is one of the most delicious dishes ever but cooked badly and it can be a soggy mess. This recipe has triple cooked chips and a beer and yeast battered cod and I promise it will be one of the best fish and chips you've ever had.
Ingredients: serves 6
8 large potatoes (pick a floury potato good for chips like king edwards or roosters)
6 pieces of cod (or whatever your prefered frying fish is)
300ml cold beer
2 sachets yeast
1 tsp salt
100g plain flour
75g rice flour (if not available add another 75 of plain flour)
25g corn flour
Cut your potatoes into chunky chips roughly 1/2 inch sq
Wash your chips under cold water to clean off the starch then add the chips to a pot of cold salted water.
Bring the pot to a light simmer, if you boil too much the chips will fall apart. cook until the potato starts to softer, add to a tray and cool. Once cooled put in the fridge for the chips to harden.
Once hardened fry the chips in vegetable oil at 130°c (270°f) for 10 minutes.  Again cool chips and refrigerate
until hard. You can bring the chips to this point up to a day before you cook the chips which makes them a bit easier for a dinner party.
To finish the chips fry at 190c (375f) for about 7 minutes until the chips go brown and really crispy


In a bowl mix the least and beer. Add the flours and salt and mix to form a nice batter. Allow to stand for about 30 minutes
dredge the fish in seasoned flour then dip into batter. fry at 170c (340f) for about 2 minutes then turn and fry for another 2. the batter will be initially heavy so may need to be held up in the oil until the batter puffs up and the fish floats a bit better. Serve with tartar sauce and mushy peas

Chicken satay skewers

Today I was looking for a quick and easy starter to make  for my family and thought what could be easier than chicken peanut satay. Don't  let the fact that this is easy put you off because its absolutely delicious.
Ingredients: makes roughly 12 skewers
1/2 cup of peanuts (if salted wash salt off)
1/4 cup of coconut milk
1 tbsp sweet chilli
1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, chilli powder, ground corriander, cumin, ground ginger salt and pepper
1 tbsp of garlic ginger paste
3 breasts of chicken & a handful of wooden skewers
In A mortar and pestel of blender crush the peanuts to a paste. Add all other ingredients apart from chicken and skewers and blend into a paste. Reserve some of the satay for dipping and put the rest into a bowl.
cut the chicken into strips and toss in the satay. leave for about 20 minutes to marinade. soak the skewers in water to prevent them from burning then slide the skewers through the chicken. cook on a bbq or under a grill until browned on both sides. serve with the dipping sauce you made earlier.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Moo shu pork

I absolutely love asian food, growning up in a small town in Ireland we didn't exactly have a huge selection of Chinese restaurants but over the last few years Chinese food has become very popular and with the love for sweet and sour and crispy duck growning so have the number of chinese restaurants. Moo shu pork is not something you would see on a chinese menu in Ireland and it wasn't until I spent some time in Miami that I discovered moo shu pork. I loved it so much that I had to make a go at cooking it.

Moo shu pork:

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp corn flour
Everything else:
1lb pork tenderloin
1tbsp garlic ginger paste
3 eggs
1/2 red pepper
2 cups shredded chinese cabbage
1 medium onion sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 carrot cut into match sticks
1 stalk of celery cut into match sticks
1/2 cup bamboo shoots shredded
1/2 cup bean sprouts
3 tbsp hoi sin sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 cup of ground nut oil.
shredded spring onion and cucumber
275 g plain flour plus extra for dusting
250ml boiled water
pinch of salt
2 tbsp sesame oil


  1. In a large bowl, add all of the flour and gradually mix in the hot water, constantly mixing until all of the water has been added.
  2. Tinker: If the mixture is too dry, add a little bit more water; too dry, then a tiny bit more flour.
  3. Tip the dough out onto a dusted work surface and hand knead it for almost 10 minutes. As with any dough, tinker some more if needed.
  4. Put the dough back in the bowl to rest for 30 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
  5. Back on to the work surface for another 5 minutes of kneading and tinkering.
  6. When you have a smooth, pliable dough, hand-roll into a sausage 45 cm (18") long and 2.5cm(1") thick.
  7. Chop into 18 equal pieces and mould them into balls. Take two of the balls. Dip one side of one ball into the sesame oil and put the oiled side on top of the other ball.
  8. Mass production! With a rolling pin, roll the 2 pancakes simultaneously into a 15 cm (6") disc.
  9. Put the double pancake into a pan on a very gentle heat for a few minutes, really just to dry it out a little.
  10. Turn it over and repeat for the other side.
  11. Allow to cool, but before it gets cold, peel the two pancakes apart
  12. Do this with the remaining pairs of pancakes.

Moo shu pork
1. In a bowl add the marinade ingredients
2. cut the pork into thin strips and add to the marinade for at least 10 minutes.
3. add the ground nut oil to a pan and brown the pork in the pan in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.
4. set aside the pork and whisk the eggs with a little salt and pepper and add to the hot oil in a thin stream this will make a fluffy omlette. turn over and set aside to drain. chop into small pieces
5. empty the oil from the pan keeping 1tbsp to fry the vegetables.
start with the carrots, celery and onion. after about 3 minutes add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a further minute.
6. next add the cabbage, mushroom and pepper fry for another 2 minutes or so.
7. finish the moo shu by adding the beansprouts, bamboo shoots, hoi sin, oyster sauce, pork and eggs. give a good stir to mix everything up and put into a serving bowl
8. steam or microwave the pancakes to warm them, put them on a serving platter with the moo shu pork, spring onions and cucumber
9. tell everyone to dig in and make their own pancakes.
10. Just look at the satisfied faces on your guests as they enjoy the sweet deliciousness that is moo shu pork.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

bread baking day

The last few days I have been spending my days helping a friend set up a halloween attraction on a farm. The farm is an entertainment farm which caters to tourist and educational groups. the tours are lots of fun with everything from bog swimming to baking. They make an amazing brown bread which I felt the need to bake today. It might be just because I am Irish but I think Irish brown soda bread is the most delicious bread ever. If you are ever in Ireland and want to try something different you should consider going to Causey Farm
Since I was making a mess in the kitchen anyways I thought I might as well cook my second favourite bread which is a chorizo, sundried tomato and thyme bread

Irish brown soda bread
3 cups of plain flour
2 cups of wholewheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp bread soda (bicarb)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
butter to grease tin.

Sieve both flours, salt and bread soda into a mixing bowl.
Mix the dry ingredients to combine and aerate.
Add the eggs and buttermilk and mix to a smooth consistency.
Grease a 2lb or 2 1lb loaf tins.
If using a 2lb tin add the mix to the tin and if using a 1lb tin divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins.

Bake at 180°c or 355°f for 30 minutes. with 10 minutes to go take the bread out of the oven, take out of the tin and put it back in upside down. Bake for the final 10 minutes. To check if the bread is cooked simply pierce with a scewer and if it comes out clean its cooked. Wrap the cooked bread in a tea towel to ensure you get a nice soft crust.

Chorizo, sundried tomato and thyme bread
500g bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 sachet fast action yeast
300ml water
4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
50g chopped chorizo
4 pieces of sundried tomato diced
1 tbsp veg oil  for greasing
3 tbsp milk for glazing

Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and add the yeast, mix gently to combine and aerate.
Add water to the flour and knead into a dough. knead for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a machine.
We now add the chorizo, tomato and thyme and knead for another minute or 2 until they are combined and well mixed through the bread.
On a flour dusted work surface roll the dough into a ball and flatten out into an oval roughly 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch thick.
Using a knife cut slashes in the loaf to make it look like a fern leaf, open the slashes with your hand.

Place the bread on a floured baking tray and cover with lightly greased cling film. Put the tray in a warm area to rise for roughly an hour. it should nearly double in size.
Once the dough has risen glaze it with the milk and bake at 180c or 355f  for 35 minutes. I usually put a small ovenproof container of water in the oven with the bread for the first 10 minutes to prevent the crust getting too crispy.
When the bread is cooked wrap in a teatowel to preven the crust getting too crispy.

Friday, 14 October 2011

sticky toffee pudding with creamy baileys ice cream

This amazing sticky toffee pudding was the dessert from my dinner to remember, I think it is best described in the words of my friend Gemma McCann who called it "The best dessert I've ever tasted"

for sticky toffee pudding-
225g fresh dates stoned and finely chopped
rind of half a small orange
175g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda ( also called baking soda or bread soda depending on where you are)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp strong coffee
100ml milk
75g butter plus extra for greasing
150g golden caster sugar
2 eggs beaten just to combine
175ml boiling water

for butterscotch sauce
150g butter
150g granulated sugar
75g soft brown sugar
75g  demerara sugar (if not available just use another 75g of soft brown sugar)
300ml cream
squeeze of lemon juice

for baileys ice cream
570ml milk
450 ml double cream
125ml baileys
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
225g granulated sugar
3 tsp vanilla extract

for sticky toffee toffee pudding
- preheat oven to 180c or 350f
-pour boiling water over the chopped dates and orange rind (if your dates are dried simmer in  a pan to soften) set aside to soak until the mixture is cool.
- sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. In a seperate bowl combine the vanilla extract and coffee with the milk.
- In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until its light and fluffy, slowly whisk in the eggs waiting until each addition is combined before adding more.
- fold the flour and flavoured milk into the egg mixture then stir in the date mixture including the water. 
- the consistency will be much runnier than a normal cake batter but dont worry its going to be delicious. Pour the mixture into a greased 8x10 cake tin or 6-8 individual moulds.
- Bake for roughly 35 minutes until the pudding is firm and starting to pull away from the sides. To check if its
cooked pierce the center of the cake with a wooden 
skewer, if it comes  away clean its cooked, turn the pudding out onto a wire rack.

For the butterscotch sauce:
- melt the butter and sugars in a pot over a medium heat until it reaches the caramel stage, should take about 10 minutes.
- add the cream and bring to the boil stirring well. Take off the heat and stir in a squeeze of lemon juice.

To get pudding ready for serving:
using a wooden skewer or fork pierce the pudding every inch or so then pour half the toffee sauce over the pudding allowing to soak into the pudding.

For baileys ice cream
- combine milk, cream and vanilla essence in a saucepan and over a medium heat bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes.
- In a bowl combine the eggs, yolks and sugar and beat til its pale and fluffy. Add 1 cup of the milk mixture into the egg mix and stir to combine.
- Add the egg mix into the rest of the heated milk mixture and cook over a low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. pour through a sieve back into the first bowl and  add the baileys. cover with plastic wrap and chill completly.
- Process the custard in your icecream maker or if you haven't got an ice cream maker put bowl in the freezer stirring every 15 minutes to preven ice crystals forming.
- Place ice cream in an airtight container and place in the freezer. make sure to take it out 10 minutes before serving.

To serve:
On a warmed plate place a hot slice of sticky toffee pudding, pour some of the butterscotch over the pudding and put a dollop of the ice cream on top. again i got my camera to take  pictures of everyone eating the results looked something like this.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

a dinner to remember (mains) steak and guinness pie

My friend Graham had never had steak and guinness pie before so when he came to my house for for dinner I knew I had to make it for him. I just had to decide on some nice side dishes to go with it for which i decided on mushy peas, parsnip crisps and colcannon (an Irish dish made with potato, green cabbage, bacon, onion and spring onion).
I always find when making a stew in always tastes best the next day when the flavours have infused so I always make my stew a day in advance, this also takes a lot of  pressure out of having a dinner party as you don't have to be as busy on the day.

900g stewing steak cubed
3 carrotts sliced
2 sticks of celery sliced
1/2 leek finely diced
1 medium onion sliced and about 10 shallots peeled
4 rashers of smoked bacon
1/2 a red pepper finely diced
15 mushrooms halved
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp thyme and parsley finely chopped
2 bay leafs
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp worchester sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 L beef stock
ready rolled puff pastry and 1 beaten egg.

The first thing I like to do is fry the bacon in a little oil to create a nice smokey salty oil to fry fry the beef in. when the bacon is crispy remove from your pot and set aside. Our next step is to season the flour with salt and  pepper, 1/2 the paprika, 1/2 the cumin and half the coriander. Coat the beef in the flour and fry it in the bacon fat and oil. this will have to be done in a few batches as you don't want to crowd the pan.

We now want to start on our vegetables. All vegetables have different cooking times so we want to make sure we add them in order of their cooking times. I start with the onions and shallots, cook these for 5 minutes  until they start to brown, add the bay leaves, carrotts, celery and leek add the rest of the paprika, cumin and coriander. give everything a stir around the pan then add a pinch of salt and pepper and the tomato puree. after 5 minutes add the peppers and mushrooms , again give a good stir. The next step is to add the bacon and beef back into the pot, another stir to mix everything up and then add the guinness, stock, chopped herbs and half the worchester sauce. Bring the stew to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, as long as its on a low heat it won't overcook as the meat will just become even more tender. when cooked check the  seasoning and add salt, pepper and worchester sauce depending  on your taste.

To turn your stew into a pie simply pour it into a pie container, cover with pastry, make a few slits in the pastry with a knife so it doesn't explode and brush with beaten egg. It will take about 25 minutes to cook so I put it into the oven 10 minutes before starters.

For the colcannon I steam my potatoes (roughly 2 per person) while the potato is cooking I add butter to the pan and fry 3 bacon rashers diced, 1 diced onion, roughly 2 cups of chopped green cabbage leaves and 3 spring onions adding salt pepper and roughly half a teaspoon of nutmeg. when the potatoes are cooked, remove the skins and mash with a little butter, cream and milk, when you have a creamy consistency with no lumps fold the  fried mixture into it and you now have colcannon.
For the parsnip crisps I sliced the parsnip into thin slices and added it to water seasoned with salt, pepper and a little honey. Drain the parsnips and pat dry with a paper towel then fry in a deep fat fryer til crispy.
I know mushy peas are easy to cook but I love the dried ones from the the box so I just follow them instruction and serve. I would have loved to post some pictures of my finished plate but I was just too hungry and had to eat it, I promise next time I make it i'll take more pics.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Chicken wings 4 ways

I know all the Americans consider America the only place that can make a proper chicken wing so I hope you give me a chance and try out my recipe. The four types of wings I have decided to cook are slow roasted bbq wings, honey soy and sesame wings, hoi sin wings and sweet chilli wings. All are delicious and work really well as a starter or if you just fancy making a bowl of wings for people to pick at.

I start by chopping up the wings, cut off the wing tip as there is no meat in them then cut in half at the joint to make them easier to eat.
for my bbq wings I start with a dry rub consisting of smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic salt, salt, pepper, oregano, ground cumin, ground coriander and ground cinnamon. add a tbsp of the first 2 ingredients and a tsp of the rest. it will  make more than you need but can be kept to be used again.

To make the wings add  them to a bowl and generously coat in the dry rub, place in roasting tin trying not to overcrowd the wings. cover in foil  and bake for 2 hours at 150°c or 300°f. After the 2 hours remove the foil and add your favourite bbq sauce to the tray. Toss the wings will to cover in your sauce, recover and bake for another hour. the wings should now be deliciously tender and falling off the bone.

The other 3 types of wings will be deep fried, as they are all asian influenced we can use the same seasoned flour for each type. For this seasoned flour we will need 1/2 cup of flour (doesn't matter whether plain or self raising) 1 tbsp chinese five spice, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Add all the flour ingredients to a large bag with no holes in it or you'll be covered in flour. Our next step is to add the wings to the bag, give a good shake then deep fry. When the wings are crispy and floating in the oil we know they are done. 

Take the wings out and drain on a paper towel. for the honey sesame soy wings mix a tbsp of soy sauce, tbsp honey and a teaspoon of sesame oil in a cup, add a pinch of salt and pepper, whisk to combine, if its not mixing put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to melt the honey. Take 1/3rd of the wings and place in foil, toss in the soy mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

For the other 2 types of wings I'm feeling a little lazy so I use bottled sauces, I  cover one set in hoi sin and one set  in sweet chilli, cover in foil and put the 3 parcels of wings on a baking tray and bake with the bbq wings for their last hour of cooking the result is lots of sticky tasty wings,

Happy Eating