Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

To fry or not to fry?

I bought a deep fat fryer a few years ago because I wanted to cook Deep Fried Brie – it’s a favourite of the Chief Taster 😉  After about two uses it took up residence somewhere deep in my shed. Anything that needs to be deep fried is now baked. Well except for the brie – experiments have proven that it ‘explodes’ in the oven and it is now a dish to be enjoyed only when we’re out 🙂 

Last night we had a ‘Taste of Asia’ class with dishes from China, India and Thailand.  All the dishes were very well received including the baked spring rolls with hoisin sauce.

taste of Asia 002

Here’s all you need to do to make  a healthier version of take away spring rolls:

Spring Rolls

  What you need:

  • Selection of vegetables such as:
    • 1 carrot, finely julienned
    • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
    • Tin of Chinese mushrooms
    • 1/2 packet Beansprouts
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 10 Spring Roll Wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Dipping Sauce:
    • 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
    • 1 tbsp. Nam Pla (fish sauce)
    • 1 tbsp. cold water
    • 1 chilli, finely chopped

What you do:

  • Heat a tbsp of sunflower oil in a wok.
  • Add the vegetables and stir fry  for 2-3 mins
  • Add the soy and oyster sauces, cook for another minute then set aside to cool.
  • Place spring roll wrapper on chopping board. Place a small pile of vegetables, in lower corner of wrapper – Fold bottom over, then bring in the two sides and roll over to enclose the filling – like an envelope (It gets easier!)
  • Seal the end of the pastry by brushing with the beaten egg.
  • Then brush each roll with egg and bake in hot oven (200 C Fan) for 10 mins until crispy
  • To make dipping sauce – mix hoisin sauce, fish sauce, water and chillies in a bowl.

spring rolls

You could also add shredded duck or pork if you’d like. I was pleasantly surprised that the Chief Taster polished off the veggie ones 🙂

Happy Cooking !

If you’d like to attend one of my cookery classes in Tullamore please let me know. Next week is a ‘Taste of the Americas’

Baking, Catering, Cookery Classes, Food

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate……….

My father used to talk about Meitheals in the West of Ireland where he grew up – everyone coming together to help their neighbour to complete a task which would have taken forever otherwise.

I saw the Meitheal concept in operation last week when very good friends gathered round to help me photograph my food offerings. The wonderful Derick, one half of Kenmare Foodies, ventured up from the Kingdom and spent the day cooking up a storm. The lovely Fiona from Hunters Lodge arrived supposedly to potwash but was quickly put to work as a food stylist (and ironer). The fabulous Paula Ryan was photographer for the day and the results are stunning. Paul from the Shoebox arrived in the afternoon and we even got him to do some work in the kitchen! Then Jacqui & Geoff appeared that evening to make us cocktails and sample the food.

Here’s a flavour of the day…

Crab Tartlets
Crab Tartlets
Curry Pots
Curry Pots
Fish & Chips
Fish & Chips
Thai Beef Salad Cups
Thai Beef Salad Cups

And then there was the poser…..

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And I love this one  – very Downtonesque

Dining Room

Food photography is hungry work so I had to provide everyone with a treat to keep them sweet – with chocolate cake of course 🙂

This gorgeous cake is from a Nigella recipe and then topped with lovely orange and almond chocolate which turns it into a rather large jaffa cake…..

Chocolate & Orange Cake

Oven:    180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4

What you need: 

  • 5 clementines
  • 6 eggs
  • 225g /8oz caster sugar
  • 250g/9 oz ground almonds
  • 1 tsp (heaped) baking powder
  • 2 bars Butlers Orange and Almond Chocolate

What you do:

  • Simmer the clementines in saucepan of water for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure you don’t run out of water! Drain and allow to cool
  • Cut each clementine in half, remove any  pips and then whizz oranges in a food processor.
  • Line the base of 20 cm springform tin with baking parchment and  butter the sides
  • Beat the eggs
  • Mix the dry ingredients – sugar, almonds and baking powder together.
  • Add in to the beaten eggs and mix well.
  • Finally stir in the puréed oranges.
  • Pour mix into the lined tin and bake in preheated oven for 50 mins to an hour or until skewer comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in tin for about 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack
  • To finish, melt the chocolate bars and spread quickly over the top and sides of the cake.

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Happy Cooking !

Thanks again to Derick, Fiona and Paula for all their hard work – you were brilliant guys x.

Oh and the lover bit – well to quote Meatloaf two out of three ain’t bad – the CT was on business in the UK and missed all the fun.

Catering, Cocktails, Cookery Classes, desserts, Food, Recipes

Love (and Chocolate) is in the Air….

Chocolate has always been associated with sensual and romantic properties and when we indulge in it’s silky lusciousness, endorphins are released in our brains which make us feel happy and loved.

In the last year I’ve been very lucky to work with Butler’s Chocolates, giving  chocolate cookery classes in their demo kitchen in Clonshaugh. I try to theme each class around an event so naturally the February class was all about Cupid, Valentines and Love! I do 7-8 recipes per class and I’m always amazed at how quickly the tasters disappear!

I’m also doing a ‘Cupid’s Dining’ class in my own kitchen on Tuesday 4th February – a three course romantic meal guaranteed to impress that special someone in your life 😉

Hey Pesto Valentine's Day

There will be scallops , venison and lots of chocolate among other things on the menu …and of course some pink bubbles . If you’d like more details on this or any of my classes please let me know.

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One of the big hits from yesterday’s class was the salted caramel dessert and here’s the recipe of you want to surprise your loved one on Valentine’s Day

Cupid’s Salted Caramel Delight

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 3-4 tbsp dulce de leche – I use Ballyshiel 
  • ½ tsp sea salt plus extra to serve
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 75 ml cream
  • Good ‘glug’ Kahlua

Salted Caramel Pots

What you  do:

  • Stir in the sea salt into the dulce de leche and divide mix between two glasses
  • Melt the two chocolates together then stir in the cream until smooth.
  • Add in the liqueur and carefully pour over the caramel
  • Allow to chill for at least 2 hours then serve sprinkled with sea salt crystals.

Happy Cooking !

PS  a message for the Chief Taster – it’s your turn to cook for me this year 😉