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A Long Hiatus……

Hi Folks! I know there is no point in apologising for the horrendously long break in service but I am going to anyway! I’m so sorry! This past 6 months have been a total madhouse! I have started a new job, moved country back to Ireland and given up my lovely little house in Whitstable! We are living back home with the parents so cooking has been reduced service lately! On top of all this, our wedding day is now only 10 weeks away! Where has the time gone!!

As I haven’t been cooking a lot, I thought it might be a nice idea to give you an update of some of the lovely eateries I’ve been to lately in Cork (and a couple of other places too!)

My other half couldn't keep his hands off long enough for me to take a picture!

My other half couldn’t keep his hands off long enough for me to take a picture!

First up is a tiny little shop on Douglas street in Cork. Iberian Way sits alongside Fionbarras pub and looks pretty unassuming from the outside. The shop was opened by a Spanish couple to give expats living here in Cork a taste of home.

For me though, the magic is in the tapas they serve in the evenings. To book you call up a mobile phone number and the opening times can be changeable but it is totally worth the hassle. The food is authentic and delicious. We tried a great number of dishes when we visited and couldn’t fault a single one. Croquetas were oozing with cheese and ham, oxtail stew served with a creamy mash was delicious on a cold night and my favourite had to be the calamari! It’s so hard to get great calamari in Ireland but this had a light crisp batter and wasn’t at all chewy! Cant forget to mention the chocolate croquetas for dessert! Seriously worth a visit and all the wine is imported from Spain too.

Dinner platter: Brisket, corn on the cob and some proper baked beans.

Dinner platter: Brisket, corn on the cob and some proper baked beans.

Next up is a spot on McCurtain St called White Rabbit BBQ. This great little bar next to the Brú hostel serves a whole host of craft beers and is one of the best value dinners around at the moment with fantastic music and atmosphere to boot. The food, as you might guess, is bbq style slow roast meats with all the usual fixin’s as the say in the States. The delicious meat specials that change regularly can be served in either a massive sandwich with salads or on a platter with two sides. The platter was an unbelievable €10! Really delicious and to top it all, they make their own bbq sauce using Mi Daza Stout from Rising Sons Brewery.

Huge pieces of perfectly cooked fish

Huge pieces of perfectly cooked fish

Further out into the sticks, Bunnyconellan in Myrtleville is one of my favourite spots for dinner with a view. Long a favourite in Cork for a special meal, I really can’t fault this place. I ordered the special fish of the evening and it was thick fillets of pan-fried brill with creamed leeks in a white wine sauce. Devine was the only word and it was accompanied by a beautiful Chablis. I could sit staring out to sea from the wonderful bar all evening! I mean look at that sky, stunning even on a stormy day!

Angry looking sky!

Angry looking sky!

If you want to venture a little further afield, I think you could visit far worse places than Kenmare, Co Kerry. It’s a place very dear to my heart having spent many happy days there as children. Its foodie strongholds are too numerous to mention in this post (although I may dedicate a post all about Kenmare soon!). I wanted to drop in one wonderful spot though and that is The Boathouse Bistro at Dromquinna. This restaurant sits alongside the stunning Kenmare bay and serves the freshest fish the bay has to offer alongside stunning views and a myriad fine gins and wines. Where better to spend a sunny summer evening?

The Boathouse bistro from the pier at Dromquinna

The Boathouse bistro from the pier at Dromquinna

The food is fantastic and the boathouse has a distinctly nautical feel, which always appeals to me! We decided to try a wide variety of the food and ordered too much as usual! Fishcakes, crab claws and more delicious calamari alongside a charcuterie platter all made with wonderful fresh ingredients.

IMG_0902

Yummy, fresh and colourful

Accompanied by stunning views, beautiful sunshine and some wonderful company, this is really one of my favourite spots. I could eat at the boathouse every day and not get bored with the menu, highly recommended!

Stunning sunsets at Dromquinna

Stunning sunsets at Dromquinna

Healthy Banana Muffins

For some reason, there always seems to be a sad looking banana or two in our fruit bowl. I hate wasting food and while I often freeze bananas to use in smoothies, sometimes its nice to have an alternative.These muffins are a great, healthy snack for when you are on the go. If you dont have any unsweetened apple sauce or stewed apple, you can replace it with a tablespoon of vegetable oil, but this will increase the calories.

Healthy Banana Muffins:

Serves 12, 3pp each, 100kcal

Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins

  • 2 medium bananas, mashedd
  • 1 tablespoon of apple sauce, stewed apple or oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 egg
  • 30ml buttermilk or milk
  • 80g plain flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. You will need a muffin pan lined with greaseproof paper or grease proof muffin cases (They stick to normal cases.) I have silicone ones. If you are stuck, just spray the muffin pan with a little spray oil and they should come out.
  2. In a jug or bowl, mix mashed banana, apple sauce, egg, vanilla and buttermilk.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugars, flours, bicarb and baking powder.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together. It doesnt need to be too smooth, just mixed together. Dont beat or muffins will be too dense.
  5. Pop into muffin cases. I got 12 muffins out of the mix but it depends how much you fill the case!
  6. Bake for 20 mins until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. These freeze really well too, handy for when you need to grab something quick for breakfast.

Profiteroles

Choux pastry is one of those things that strikes fear into most people! It can be tricky, I’ll admit but once you get the hang of it, its straightforward enough. This choux recipe works as well for eclairs but today you are getting profiteroles with a yummy chocolate and coffee sauce. These are slightly lightened up by reducing the amount of butter you use. Still not exactly healthy eating but you can’t be good all the time.

Profiteroles Serves 4-6

The vultures got to them before I could!

The vultures got to them before I could!

Ingredients: For the pastry

  • 125ml water
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 30g butter
  • 70g plain flour, sieved
  • 2 eggs

For the chocolate and coffee sauce:

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 6 tbsn strong coffee
  • 1 tbsn honey

For the filling I simply whipped some fresh cream and piped it into the centre, you could make a Creme Patissiere if you want.

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. It is really important for pastry to have the right oven temp. Line two oven trays with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, place the water, sugar, salt and butter. Put on the hob and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat really low and add all the flour in one go.
  3. Beat the mixture well with a wooden spoon for one minute, until the mix comes away from the sides of the pan and starts to form a ball.
  4. Take the pan off the heat, allow to cool for a minute and then add the first egg. Whisk the mixture really well to incorporate the egg. It will look like a big mess for a while but it will come together, just keep beating.
  5. Once the first egg is incorporated, add the second and beat again really well until you have a smooth, uniform paste. It can take a lot of beating but dont give up!
  6. Once your mixture is the right consistency, pop it into a piping bag with a medium straight nozzle. Pipe little balls of mixture onto the lined baking trays. You want to pipe little blobs about half the size of a golf ball and well spaced apart. You should have at lease 16 balls.
  7. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye that they don’t get too brown. Meanwhile, make the chocolate sauce.
  8. Put the dark chocolate into a bowl and sit the bowl above a pan of boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. When the chocolate has melted, add the coffee and honey and stir until you have a nice smooth consistency. Put this into a jug that it can be warmed again when its needed.
  9. When the pastry is golden brown, remove the profiteroles from the baking tray and put onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. Once they are completely cool, you can fill with whipped cream or if you want, to use a creme patissiere. (I got lazy and used whipped cream!)
  11. They can be stored for a few hours until needed but wont last long once filled as they go a bit soggy!
  12. When you are ready to serve them, pile them high and cover with chocolate sauce. This can be warmed by popping the jug into a pan of hot water for a few minutes.

Fast Brocolli Pasta

Sometimes you just need to rustle up dinner really quickly and with very little fuss. This is a dish for one of those times. Its tasty, fast and healthy. It can also be easily multiplied! Always a good thing in my book.

Brocolli Pasta:

Serves 2, 10pp per person

 

Yummy Broccoli Pasta

Yummy Broccoli Pasta

  • 160g fresh egg pasta or 120g dried pasta
  • 1/2 a head of broccoli (I love broccoli, you could use less)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 or 3 anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • Sprinkling of dried chilli flakes (to taste)
  • 20g Freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 2 Tbsn half fat creme fraiche

 

  1. Cut broccoli into small florets. You do want the broccoli to be soft so it will cook faster if its small. Put into a saucepan with boiling water and boil for about 8 mins until soft.
  2. Meanwhile get your pasta on to boil. Fresh pasta will only take two or three minutes but dried will take longer. When your pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.
  3. About 2 mins before the pasta and brocolli are ready, heat a frying pan. Add your tablespoon of of oil. Add the chopped garlic and anchovies and brown but do not burn. Add the chilli flakes. 
  4. When your pasta and brocolli are ready, toss everything into the pan and stir to coat in the olive oil.
  5. Turn off the pan and add your cheese, pasta water and some creme fraiche. Stir really well to coat the pasta. The broccoli will start to break up and coat the spaghetti too.
  6. Taste and season well, nothing worse than bland pasta! Serve.

I love breakfast. I know it can be a chore to have the energy to make a decent breakfast I really do think it is worth it, and necessary! Weekends are when breakfasts come into their own. While I love a poached egg on toast during the week, I know most people dont have the energy at 6:30 or 7:00 am to do anything more than butter toast! So save this one for a long lazy Sunday with guilty pleasure tv or a decent newspaper! This is very easy! If you can scramble eggs and cook bacon, you are pretty much set for this one!

Scrambled eggs with Serrano ham:

Serves 1, 7pp per serving:

Salty yummy serrano and buttery eggs!

Salty yummy serrano and buttery eggs!

  • 2 eggs
  • splash milk
  • 5g butter
  • 2 slices of serrano ham (10g each)
  • 1 slice of bread or 2 slices of reduced calorie bread
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat a small saucepan and add the butter. Meanwhile break the eggs into a cup or jug and beat well with a fork. Add a splash of milk and season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a frying pan and add the dry slices of serrano ham. Cook for one minute a side and then put to one side. Get your toast on!
  3. Once your pan is warm, pour your egg mixture into the butter. Don’t overheat the pan as the eggs will be rubbery. Cook the mixture slowly until you have a nice creamy mixture
  4. Now it’s just a case of assembling the components. The salty ham works so well with the creamy eggs. If you are a bit crazy like me, you can even top it all with some maple syrup!

I know that I might be out on a limb here, but I love January! Dont get me wrong, I am always sad when Christmas is over, its definitely my favourite time of year. But there is something so refreshing and renewing about January. I always feel full of energy and excitement for what is to come as well as a renewed focus on health and fitness. I will have a couple of projects on the go this year when it comes to healthy eating. The first I am calling project lunchbox. I am going to try and bring healthy and exciting lunches with me to work every day that will prevent me from getting bored with my food. The other focus this new year is that I am trying to eat out less, which means I will be making more new recipes! Here is one of the first.

I was given the Ottolenghi cookbook as a Christmas gift and I have to say I was enraptured from the minute I opened the cover. The focus is on using simple and healthy ingredients and mixing them to create great flavours. These meatballs are fab and Ive basically reduced the levels of oil used to make them slightly healthier. I hope you enjoy them as much as me!

Turkey and Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce:

Adapted from Ottolenghi Cookbook

Fast becoming my favourite dinner

Fast becoming my favourite dinner

Serves 4, 7pp per serving

Ingredients:

For the meatballs

  • 100g sweetcorn kernels
  • 3 slices of low calorie bread such as weight watchers
  • 500g turkey breast mince (Its important that its breast as leg mince is fattier)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbspn freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tspn cumin
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn pepper

For the sauce

  • 4 red peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 25g fresh coriander
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 small chilli
  • 1 tbsn sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tbsn cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
  1. Start the sauce first. Spray the peppers with low calorie cooking spray on both sides then spread on a baking tray. Bake in a 200 degree Celsius oven for 35-40 mins, until the skins have charred. Cover them with cling film and allow them to cool.
  2. While all that’s going on, get onto the meatballs. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and pop in the corn kernels. Cook for a couple of minutes until slightly blackened. Removed from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Blitz bread using a processor or shred into breadcrumbs with a grater. Add these to a large bowl and the rest of the meatball ingredients, including the sweetcorn (make sure its cool.)
  4. Get your hands in and mix everything really well. Now its time to get meatballing. I made meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball and I ended up with 24 meatballs, 6 per person. It makes it easier to roll them with wet hands as the meat doesn’t stick so much.
  5. Spray an oven tray with cooking spray and pop the meatballs onto it, evenly spaced. put this into your preheated (200 degrees c) oven for 15 – 20 mins. The meat should be firm but bounce back when you push on it.
  6. While they are baking, finish the sauce by placing the peppers and all the other sauce ingredients into a blender. I am usually cautious with the chili, adding a little bit first and then tasting. Blitz this all together then adjust the seasoning. Heat this sauce on the hob for 5 mins, until warmed through.
  7. Finally, serve it all up together. I love this with some yummy brown rice and some green vegetables.

When the weather turns colder and it is time to batten down the hatches, there is nothing I find more comforting than a proper bowl of homemade soup. Soup is such an easy and comforting thing to have bubbling away on the hob, and I struggle to justify tinned soup in anyway. All those additives and artificial flavourings are totally unnecessary when you can make a pot chock full of healthy vegetables taste so good, so easily. So I have this super easy and quick soup recipe for you, to prove how seriously simple, not to mind healthy,  it can be to make at home.

Courgette and Parmesan Soup:

Pot of warming goodness

Pot of warming goodness

Serves 4, 2pp per person

  • 1 tbsn olive oil
  • 1 kg of courgettes, diced into chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 500ml good chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp fat free fromage frais or 0%fat greek yoghurt
  • 50g fresh Parmesan, grated
  1. Heat a large, heavy based saucepan and add the olive oil to the pan.
  2. Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and courgette to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the courgette has started to soften.
  3. Add the chicken stock to the pot, bring to the boil and cook for approx 10 minutes, until the courgette is cooked.
  4. Take the pan off the heat, season with salt and pepper and the blitz the coup with a hand blender.
  5. Stir in the yoghurt and then blitz again. Stir in the Parmesan and stir until it has melted into the soup. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper.
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