Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, desserts, Recipes

Happily Ever After Tart

Now that January is over and we’ve all been good and stuck to our resolutions to eat healthier (what do you mean you haven’t??)  it’s time to start thinking about treats for Valentine’s Day.
And speaking of resolutions it’s high time I stuck to mine and updated my blog.

I’ve been doing some research on aphrodisiacs in advance of my Valentine’s cooking and I’m now a font of trivia!

Did you know that basil was used for seduction by women in Moldova? Or that Catholic priests in Spain banned avocados because they found them obscenely sexual? Continue reading “Happily Ever After Tart”

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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 😉

Baking, Cakes, desserts, Food, Recipes

Love is in the Air

My poor blog has been very neglected of late so it’s time to pay it some attention and share a recipe for Valentine’s Day.

In preparation for my ‘Cupid’s Cookery‘ class last week I did a little research on aphrodisiacs and found lots of trivia. Did you know that basil was used for seduction by women in Moldova? Or that Catholic priests in Spain banned avocados because they found them obscenely sexual?

Other reputed aphrodisiacs are honey, almonds and chocolate – so what better way to celebrate St Valentine’s Day than to present the object of your affections with a combination of all three?

This recipe is based on one I found in the course of my research….I’ve made a few alterations and  I hope you like it……

What you need:

  • Heart Shaped loose bottomed tin
  • 180g dark chocolate digestives
  • 60g butter
  • 2 tbsp. flaked almonds
  • 200ml Avonmore Fresh Cream
  • 3 tbsp. Limefield Honey
  • 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), in pieces
  • Generous splash of Cointreau! 

What you do:

  • Crush the biscuits finely and add in the melted butter. Then press into the bottom of heart shaped tin.
  • Toast the almonds in a dry pan.
  • Whisk the cream and honey together in a small saucepan over a low heat and then slowly bring the mix to just below the boil.
  • Pour the mix over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts.
  • Stir in the toasted almonds and the Cointreau.
  • Pour the mix into the lined tin and leave to chill for a few hours until set (overnight is best)
  • Decorate to your heart’s content with almonds, hearts and sparkles!
  • Serve with lots of extra Avonmore Fresh Dessert Cream

    chocolate heart -001

I also made individual ones for last week’s date night  – one with added sea salt which I preferred but The Chief Taster preferred the Cointreau version!

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Did it live up to expectations? Well, let’s just say there were no complaints ……

Happy Cooking!

 

Cooking, Food, Recipes

Dining á deux – Romance is in the air!

Romance is definitely in the air and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious dinner á deux?

This was my Valentine’s meal last year but looking at the dishes I think it deserves another outing……….. see what you think!

Starter : Seductive Scallops on a Pea & Mint Purée

According to my fishmonger, Jason, this dish cannot fail to stir the romantic juices! You can make the purée in advance and reheat just before serving. The trick is to have everything ready before you cook the scallops as they are best served immediately. Allow 3 scallops per person.

To make the puree – heat 125 g frozen petits pois, knob of butter, 50 ml chicken stock andseasoning in a small saucepan and alllow to simmer for 3-4 mins. Then whizz in food processor with a small bunch of mint (chopped) and Voilá!

To cook the scallops make sure your pan is red hot, add a little butter and oil, and sear the scallops (seasoned with little salt & freshly ground cumin) for 1 min each side. You want a nice caramelised colour.

Serve the scallops on a dollop of purée with salad leaves drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

  

Main: Romantic Roast Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

I used the frozen Barbary duck breast from Lidl for this – one at €5.99 is enough for two! (I hope they still have them!)

Again you can make the sauce in advance and reheat when needed. To make the sauce sauté 1 chopped shallot in a little olive oil for a few mins. Add 250g red plums (half a punnet), stoned and cut into wedges alond with 50g demerara sugar and stir til the sugar dissolves. Finally add 50 mlred wine and 300 ml beef stock and simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened (should take about 15 mins)

Turn your oven to 180C /Gas 4.

To cook the duck – score the skin with a sharp knife and season well. Place the duck breast(s), skin side down, on a cold pan and bring up to temmperature. (this will stop your meat seizing up ) and cook for 6 mins. Then turn the duck over and add 25g butter, 1 star anise and a sprig of thyme to the pan. Baste the breast(s) with the juices and then transfer to pre heated oven (check your pan is oven proof, if not transfer duck to roasting dish!). Roast for 5-6 mins for pink or 10 mins for well done. Baste the duck with the juices and allow to rest for 5 mins before carving.

Serve the duck breast on a bed of mash with plum sauce spooned around.

Dessert: Decandent Chocolate Cocktails

This  rich, luscious chocolatey dessert looks really well served in martini glasses.

Mix 2 tbsp of your liqueur of choice (I used Cointreau but I want to try Mint Baileys…) into 170ml ofdouble cream. Remove 3tbsp of the cream mix and reserve for later. Then heat the remaining cream in a small saucepan until just boiling.

Pour the hot cream over 50g dark chocolate pieces (70% cocoa please!) and stir to melt the chocolate. Divide the mix between 2 martini glasses and allow to cool.

Whip the remaining cream and spoon over the chocolate ( think a pint of guiness!). Then allow to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.

Timing

To make sure your meal flows smoothly make the dessert, pea purée and plum sauce in advance. You could also make the mash a little ahead of time if you want.

Set your beautiful romantic table, make yourself beautiful/handsome. Pour the champagne.  Then return to cooker and sear the duck (I advise wearing an apron for this part!). When you have transferred the duck to the oven, cook and serve the scallops.

Allow the duck to rest while you reheat the sauce and the mash – plate it up and enjoy.

All you need to do with the dessert is dust with cocoa – using a heart stencil of course.

Now the rest is up to you………………

Happy Cooking!

Baking, Cakes, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Heart’s Desire Cake

So it’s that time of the year – Valentine’s Day or should I say the ultimate Hallmark day! Time to bring out your inner romantic and make everything pink and heart shaped……..

And if my black pudding starter seems very ‘hearty’ well here is the ultimate chocolate cake to finish off your romantic meal á deux! (what you choose to have for main course is entirely up to you………….)

I came across this recipe when I was putting together a ‘Cupid’s Cooking’ class last year and it went down very well. I think it came from Delicious Magazine so I hope they don’t mind my variation on it!

It’s quick , easy and delicious so go on, give it a try………..

Heart’s Desire Cake

Preheat your oven to 180C/Fan 160C/Gas 4.  You’ll need a loose bottomed heart-shaped tin – I got mine from Kit Your Kitchen last year and I’m sure Gemma will have some  in stock this year

What you need:

  • 150g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g dark chocolate (70% cocoa) buttons
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 150g plain flour
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 50g Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate

What to do:

Put butter, vanilla, chocolate and sugars into a bowl

Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and heat  until melted.

Remove bowl from heat, add in the beaten eggs and fold in the flour

Finally stir in the chopped hazelnuts and butterscotch chocolate.
Pour the cake mix into a buttered, heart shaped tin and bake in a preheated oven for 25 mins until top is firm to touch but cake is still squidgy inside.

Allow to cool in tin for 15 mins before carefully turning out onto serving plate.

A few bits from my decorating box...

Decorate to your heart’s content ……

and serve warm with whipped cream and lots of love……..

Did I mention I had a very interested observer while all this was going on….

Happy Cooking !

PS Valentine if you’re reading this, I have the cake so  flowers or jewellery will do……….

Chef, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Irish Food Heroes & a starter for Valentine’s..

There is a great food community in Ireland and I consider myself very lucky to be part of it! Last week I went to the  Foodie Forum in Galway and spent the day catching up with people and learning lots. Thanks to Cormac & Jacinta for organising the event.

One of the things that I always find funny is how many us know each other by our twitter names rather than our ‘real’ names – in fact it was suggested that in future name badges should carry both handles!

For me the highlight of the day were the MasterClasses by Stefan Matz of Ashford Castle , Michael Viljanen of Gregans Castle Hotel  (still at time of writing!) and Wade Murphy of Doonbeg Lodge.  If I could produce food like theirs I would die happy!

I was lucky enough to get a taste of Michael’s chocolate tart with avocado & lime purée and celery sorbet  – sublime! I hope he remembers to send me the recipe………

Following these masters Bryan McCarthy of Springfort Hall introduced us to his philosophy on head -to-tail use of his home reared pork – we got to taste sausages, ribs, pate, pork belly…………..I’m now really looking forward to his 9 course tasting menu next month!

The final class of the day was from one of the grand masters of the Irish Food world – Sir Jack of McCarthy’s of Kanturk. Jack dazzled us with his array of puddings or boudins including the Midleton whiskey one that was served to the Queen on her Irish visit last year (which tasted very nice!) He has even developed a n ice crean using his chocolate, pistachio and mint pudding – it’s interestingly good!

Jack gave me a present of a beetroot and black currant boudin which I couldn’t wait to get home and try.

Jack told me that the pudding is an ancient Irish fertility symbol and I believed him!! So I decided to try it as a starter that could be served for Valentine’ s Day!

I heated slices of the boudin in the oven while I caramelised some beetroot and apple slices in some butter…

Layer the apple slices in the centre of your plate, place the slice of pudding on top, add some caramelised beetroot cubes and drizzle with some Highbank Apple Syrup – then just taste the magic!

Happy Cooking!