Irish Stew

Food good for the soul, any day of the week!

Ingredients

2 medium onions, sliced
50 g butter
2 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
2 kg best end of lamb neck, cut into large pieces
7 carrots, chopped lengthways into 2-inch pieces
6 baby onions, peeled and halved
2 tbsp pearl barley
5 cups Chicken Stock
1 bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, and bay leaf)
12 medium potatoes
1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
Olive oil, for frying
Sea salt Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Place a large heavy based saucepan over a medium to high heat
  • Add a dash of oil and the butter and allow the butter to foam
  • Add the onions and fry until translucent, then add the thyme, bay leave and then remove from the pan
  • Add another dahs of oil and brown the lamb on a high heat
  • Once all the lamb is browned, add back the onions, the add the carrots, baby onion halves and pearl barley
  • Pour in the Chicken Stock so that it almost covers the meat and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, and add the Bouquet garni
  • Cover and cook on a low heat for 2 hours, being careful not to boil
  • Place the potatoes on top of the stew, cover and cook for 30 minutes until the meat is falling beautifully off the bones and the potatoes are fork tender.

 

Potato Gratin

Comfort food at its best! Happiness it is! 

Ingredients

1 kg                 potatoes, peeled & sliced on a mandolin (leaving them in water)
200ml             milk
200ml             cream
1                      bay leaf
1                      garlic clove, peeled & smashed
200g                Parmesan cheese
Sea salt & fresh black pepper
Olive oil

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to 200’C
  • Place a sauce pan on a medium heat
  • Add the milk, cream, bay & garlic in the pan
  • Heat until simmering
  • Set aside to cool
  • Lightly grease a deep gratin dish
  • Scatter 1/3 of the cheese over the bottom of the baking dish
  • Place the sliced potatoes over the cheese to form a layer
  • Season with sea salt & pepper
  • Continue layering
  • Strain the milk & cream infusion
  • Pour over the potatoes
  • The mixture should come up two thirds up the side of the baking dish
  • Gently press the potatoes down
  • Sprinkle with the remaining cheese
  • Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown
  • A sharp knife should slide through with ease
  • Leave to cool slightly before serving

 

Swiss Cheese Fondu

My ultimate cheese haven for indulgence!

Ingredients
1                       garlic clove
3 tbsp              corn-starch
3 tbsp              Kirsch
300 ml            dry white wine
300 g               Gruyere cheese, grated
300 g               Vacherin cheese, grated

To serve

Silver onions
Gherkins
Chilli powder
Paprika.

A crusty bread loaf, cut into chunks – plain white or brown

 

Method

  • Take a clove of garlic, peel it, halve it and rub the cut faces around the inside of the pot you are going to use

NB: The actual name (French) for this pot is a Caquelon – Cack-er-lon

  • Your choice as to whether or not to leave the remnant garlic halves in the pot (I do!).
  • Create a slurry of corn-starch (Maizena) and Kirsch (or a brandy or eau de vie or grappa made from cherries) in a mixing bowl
  • Pour in the wine, and heat up the Caquelon or the pot you are using.
  • When the wine is almost bubbling, then lower the temperature and stir in the slurry (this helps keep the cheeses from separating).
  • Add in all of the Gruyere cheese
  • Stir continually until melted

NB: Some add in some lemon juice here, to help cut through the fat

  • Then add in Vacherin cheese, and stir continuously, while it melts in
  • On the table, have a tea light/ gas burner/ petro jelly burner under a stand, and transfer the Caquelon/ pot to stand over it – the fondue should really not be bubbling furiously, just the odd gentle burp or two
  • Have on the table bowls of bread chunks silver onions, gherkins, chilli powder and paprika

NB: The chunks are best if they have a bit of crust on them

  • Use long-handled forks to spear a bread chunk (the crust helps them stay on the fork) and then (gently) swirl around in the fondue.
  • Lift out, dip (if you want) in the paprika or chilli powder and eat
  • Let drips of cheese drop onto the pickles on your plate

NB: When the fondue gets down to the bottom of the Caquelon/ pot, you can then break an egg into it, stir vigorously and have a lovely cheesy scrambled egg with the remnants

NB: You can also have a bowl of Kirsch on the table and dip the bread into that before dipping your bread into the Caquelon/ pot

Hearty Beef Pie

A recipe of just a few ingredients but packing flavour!

Ingredients

Puff pastry
250g flour
125ml water
25g butter, melted
200g unsalted butter

Pie filling

700g beef rump, cut into 2cm pieces
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp olive oil
250 g mushrooms, quartered
1 onion, sliced
6 stalks celery, cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
400 ml Beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
Olive oil
1 egg, beaten for egg wash

Method

Puff pastry

  • Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bow and make a well in the centre
  • Add the water and melted butter and mix until you have a rough dough
  • Turn out onto your work surface and knead the dough until smooth
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the fridege for a minimum of 20 minutes
  • Place the butter between two sheets of greaseproof paper
  • Using a rolling pin, make a square sheet about 2cm thick
  • Place the dough ball in front of you and using the palm of you hand push the dough north, south, east and west, forming a cross
  • Place the butter in the centre
  • Fold up the dough ends to encase the butter
  • Roll the dough into a rectangle
  • Turn the dough clockwise 90°
  • Fold into thirds, this is called a book fold
  • Repeat the process once more
  • Wrap the pastry in cling wrap and chill for 20 minutes
  • Make sure you place the pastry back in the same direction
  • Repeat the above again of rolling and folding, twice

Pie Filling

  • Place the beef in a large bowl and sprinkle with flour
  • Season with salt and black pepper, toss to coat
  • Add a dash of oil to a large sauce pan over medium heat
  • Add half the beef and brown all over, stirring occasionally
  • Take out the beef and set aside, repeat the process with the beef
  • Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, carrots, garlic and rosemary to the pan, and fry for 5 minutes or until the onion softens
  • Add the beef back to the saucepan along with the beef stock and tomato paste
  • Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally
  • Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan and cook for an hour
  • Remove the lid, and cook for a further 30 minutes uncovered occasionally, stirring for a further 30 minutes or until the beef is tender
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper
  • Transfer to a bowl and cool completely
  • Preheat your oven to 200°C
  • Place the beef in a casserole or oven proof dish
  • Roll out the puff pastry to the desired thickness, 5 mm
  • Brush the edge of the casserole and place the pastry on top
  • Crimp the edges slightly and trim the excess pastry
  • Brush the pie with the remaining egg
  • Cut a small cross in the centre
  • Place the pie on the baking tray and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden

Courgette Fritters

Fresh ingredients brought together quickly, YUM!

Ingredients

700 g              baby courgettes, grated
1 tsp               fine salt
100 g              flour
50 g                Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves          garlic, minced
3                     eggs, beaten
4 tbsp             mint, chopped
6 tbsp             flat leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp             olive oil

 

Method

  • Place the grated courgette in a colander over the sink
  • Add salt and gently toss to combine
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes
  • Using a clean dish towel, squeeze out the excess moisture in the courgette completely
  • In a large bowl, combine courgette, flour, Parmesan, garlic, egg and the herbs
  • Season with salt and pepper and combine thoroughly
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat
  • Scoop tablespoons of batter for each fritter, flattening with a spatula, and cook until the underside is nicely golden brown
  • Flip over and cook on the other side for about a minute of two
  • Serve immediately

Peach and Parma Ham Tartine

A cheerful sandwich packed with flavour, YUM! 

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 peaches, de-stoned, cut into eighths
4 thin slices sour dough bread
6 slices Parma ham
2 handfuls wild rocket
Extra virgin olive oil

Method

  • Place a griddle pan onto a high heat and allow the pan to smoke
  • Lightly oil the peaches and place on the griddle pan
  • Char the peaches slices on each side and then set aside
  • Toast or griddle the sour dough bread
  • Remove and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil on all the slices of toast
  • Place a small handful of wild rocket onto each slice
  • Tear and place folds of Parma ham on top, pulling through a little of the rocket
  • Place the grilled peach slices on top
  • Drizzle with more olive oil and season before serving

 

 

Home-made Pork Pie

The old fashion favourite that needs a boost! Makes 12

Ingredients

For the filling

200 g              pork loin, finely chopped
200 g              pork belly, finely chopped
100g               back bacon, finely chopped
5                      pitted prunes, finely chopped
1                      onion, peeled and finely diced
2 tbsp             thyme, finely chopped
2 tbsp             parsley leaves, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Hot water crust pastry

325 g              plain flour
55 g                unsalted butter, cubed
65 g                lard
1 tsp               salt
140 ml            boiling water
1                      egg, lightly beaten for glazing
2                      small sheets of leaf gelatine
1                      chicken stock pot or small cube
350ml            boiling water

Method

Preheat your oven to 190°C

To make the pork filling:

  • Place all the pork, bacon, prunes, onion, thyme and parsley into a mixing bowl Season generously with salt and pepper and mix well
  • Cover and set aside

To make the pastry:

  • Place the flour in a mixing bowl and add the butter
  • Rub in with your fingertips and then make a well in the centre
  • Heat the lard in a pan until melted
  • Add the salt to the boiling water and dissolve
  • Add the water to the melted lard
  • Pour the liquid into the flour
  • Mix with a spoon then, as soon as it is cool enough, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work together into a ball
  • Once the dough ball has formed, leave it to cool slightly
  • Divide the dough in two thirds and a third piece
  • Working as quickly as you can, roll out the larger piece of dough to about 3mm thickness
  • Using an 11-12cm cutter, cut out 12 rounds to line a muffin mould tray
  • Place the discs into the moulds and line the base and sides
  • The pastry should come slightly above the rim of each mould
  • Roll out the other piece of dough and use a 6-7cm cutter to cut out 12 lids
  • Use the trimmings and re-roll if you need more pastry
  • Use a skewer or the back of a teaspoon to make a good-sized hole, about 5mm in diameter, in the middle of each pie lid.
  • Place a heaped tablespoonful of the filling into each pastry case
  • Brush the pastry case rims with beaten egg and place the lids on top
  • Crimp the edges together well to seal
  • Brush the pastry lids with beaten eggs
  • Bake the pies for 50 minutes until golden brown
  • While the pies are in the oven, soften the gelatine in cold water to cover for 10 minutes
  • In a jug, dissolve the chicken stock pot or cube in the boiling water
  • Drain the gelatine and squeeze to remove the excess liquid, then add to the stock and stir until completely dissolved
  • When the pies come out of the oven, enlarge the holes in the top if necessary, then carefully pour in a little of the gelatine mixture
  • Leave the pies to cool and settle overnight before serving

 

Lamb Ragu

This is guaranteed to warm you up this winter!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1kg           lamb leg, cubed
1               onion, finely diced
2 cloves  garlic, sliced
4 slices   pancetta or streaky bacon, finely sliced
2              carrots, peeled, cut into 1cm pieces
2              celery stalks, cut into 1cm pieces
3 sprigs  thyme
2              bay leaves
2              springs rosemary
½ cup    red wine
2 tbsp    tomato paste
2 x 410g whole tomatoes
600 ml   chicken stock concentrate
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

  • Place a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat
  • Add a dash of olive oil, then add the lamb
  • Brown the meat all over, 2 to 3 minutes on each side
  • Transfer to a plate
  • Add the onion, garlic, pancetta, carrot, celery and herbs to pan
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until onion has softened
  • Add wine and reduce by half
  • Add the tomato paste, tomatoes and the stock
  • Stir to combine and bring to the boil
  • Add the lamb back to the pot and cover
  • Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally for 2 hours or until the meat is tender
  • Serve with Cauli rice

 

 

Blue Cheese and Caramel Walnut Salad

Great flavours that work incredibly well together! 

Serves 2

Ingredients for the dressing

50 g                 blue cheese
2 tbsp              sour cream
2 tbsp              olive oil
1 tbsp               white wine vinegar
1 pinch            black pepper

Ingredients for the salad

50 g                sugar
50 ml              water
100 g              walnuts
1                      apple
1 small           baguette, sliced and toasted
1 tbsp             wild rocket
100 g              blue cheese

Method to make the dressing

  • Pass the blue cheese through a sieve using the back of a spoon
  • Add the sour cream and combine until smooth
  • Whisk in the olive oil and white wine vinegar slowly
  • Season with black pepper and taste, adding more if necessary

Method to assemble the salad

  • Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat
  • Dissolve the sugar and then turn up the heat and allow the syrup to become a caramel
  • Add the nuts, toss carefully and pour out onto a silicon mat
  • Allow to cool and the caramel to set
  • Slice the apple ‘cheeks’ off and thinly slice
  • Start layering the plate with the toasted baguette slices, blue cheese, apple slices and caramel walnuts
  • Pour the dressing over just before you serve

Pumpkin Tart

An Autumnal favourite with heart warming spices!

Make 1 x 22cm tart

Ingredients

Short crust

200 g              flour
1 pinch           salt
100 g              butter, diced
1                      egg

Pumpkin filling

500g             roasted pumpkin
1 tbsp            honey
1 tbsp            golden syrup
4 tbsp           brown sugar
1 tsp              ground cinnamon
½ tsp            ground nutmeg
½ tsp            ground ginger
½ tsp            allspice
400ml          cream
2                    eggs,
1                     egg yolk

Method

Making the pastry

  • Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your finger tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  • Lightly beat the egg in a separate small bowl
  • Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg
  • Work the mixture together using a pastry scraper or you hands, adding a teaspoon of water at a time until it comes together
  • Bring the dough together and knead for 1 minute, shape into a patty shape
  • Cover with cling wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes

Rolling out the pastry

  • Place a sheet of cling film flat on the work surface
  • Then place your chilled dough in the centre
  • Place another piece of cling film over the dough

NB       This technique saves you on using flour to roll out the dough

  • Roll out the dough to a 3mm thickness or until the required surface area that is needed to cover the ring, plus excess (approx 25cm)
  • Remove the top layer of cling film
  • Wrap the pastry around the rolling pin
  • Carefully place it over your tart ring
  • Line the inside of the tart dish, cling film side up
  • Using your thumb, very gently press the pastry into the corner of the ring
  • Cut off the overlapping dough at the top
  • Then prick the bottom all over with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes
  • This allows the pastry to relax and helps to prevent shrinkage
  • Pre heat your oven to 180°C
  • Place the pastry in the oven to bake
  • After 5 minutes, check for any shrinkage

NB: At this stage only can you still pull up the sides of pastry to maintain a good depth

  • Leave for another 5 minutes or until golden brown
  • Remove carefully from the oven and brush with egg white
  • Place back in the oven for 1 minute

NB: This seals the base of the tart and prevents it from going soggy to quickly

  • Leave to cool

Pumpkin filling

  • Place the roasted pumpkin into a food processor and whiz until smooth
  • Place the golden syrup, sugar, spices and cream in a saucepan over a medium heat and bring to just below boiling point
  • Remove off the heat
  • Beat the eggs and extra yolk together in a separate bowl, then add to the cream mixture, whisking gently to just combine
  • Whisk in the pumpkin puree
  • Pour into the tart case and bake for 30 minutes or until set but with a slight wobble
  • Leave to cool, then serve