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Cold Soup Anyone?

Cold Soup anyone? It’s time for something healthy and refreshing for these warm summer days. I’ve just purchased a Vitamix and I wanted to try out something that would test how smooth I could get a soup. If you haven’t heard of a Vitamix, then for those of you with young kids, it’s a bit like the Nutri-Bullet that you have all seen on the Shopping Channel or on TV3 at 6.30am. But this does so much more and with much more power. It blitzes the living be-jaysus out of anything and will even cook a soup for you in 5 mins.

This version of gazpacho is very easy and is based on a version by Felicity Cloake in The Guardian. Soak the bread in cold water for 20 minutes, and then chop all of the ingredients and throw them all into a blender. Blitz it until it is smooth. Adjust the taste by adding extra sherry vinegar or salt as required. Chill until ready to serve. To serve, top with a drizzle of olive oil and some diced cucumber, hard-boiled egg, parsley or mint.

For a more extravagant twist or if you are having a dinner party, why not add a shot or two of vodka to the mixture until you can just taste it.

 

Ingredients

1kg ripe tomatoes – the riper the better

2 ripe peppers (red, yellow or green)

1 cucumber

2 cloves garlic

150ml extra virgin olive oil

2tbsp good quality sherry vinegar

100g stale crusty bread

Salt

The Veggie Garden

Summer is well and truly here and it is now that I really appreciate the move to the country. We have a garden again after 4 years for the kids to run around in, and to grow some vegetables. It’s not too hard if you pick the right veg and prepare the ground well, although there was a lot of trial and error. I started off with a 2m x 1m area, and dug the soil to remove most of the large stones. I then put some timber in to create a raised bed and topped with compost and some organic fertiliser. Some of the veg I grew from seed, starting them off indoors in the bathroom and some I bought as seedlings. Kale (Cavolo Nero variety), peas, beetroot, chard and sprouting broccoli all worked well in the bed. The lettuce got savaged by slugs, although putting down beer traps worked, and the mizuno ran to seed pretty quickly as we could not eat it quickly enough. Read more →

Eggs-tra, Eggs-tra, read all about it!

I’m gonna say a word that most of you most likely don’t want to hear after the Easter holidays…’Eggs..’ (Not the chocolate variety mind, so step away from the kids leftover Easter eggs now)… but really folks you won’t beat these for simplicity, versatility, taste and all round bang for your buck -  both in terms of nutrition and money.

OK, so advance apologies for the eggy puns. But these are egg-ceptionally easy dishes and perfect for brunch, lunch or a light dinner. I have to admit that these were my wife’s idea. We had a bit of an egg-stravaganza in our house recently.  This week, we ended up with 6 packs of eggs in the fridge. The weekly shop combined with generous neighbours who have their own hens called for a few egg inspired dinners. Read more →

Warm Runner Bean Salad with Poached Egg

Warm Runner Bean Salad with Poached Egg
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Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • 1 pack fresh runner beans
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 Eggs
  • Lemon (1 tbsp Juice and Zest)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions
  1. In a pan of boiling water, cook the runner beans. This should only take 2 mins as you want them to be on the raw side of crunchy.
  2. In a separate pan of boiling salted water, poach the eggs. I normally swirl the water with a spoon and then drop in one egg at a time. This will take about 3-4 mins as you want the egg yolk to remain runny.
  3. Mix the lemon juice, oil, zest, salt and pepper to make a dressing.
  4. Toss the runner beans in the dressing while still warm.
  5. To serve, place the runner beans on a plate, top with grated parmesan, then 2 poached eggs, and sprinkle with cracked black pepper and salt.

 

Seared Tuna with Rocket and Cucumber Salad, and a Soy and Ginger Dressing

Seared Tuna with Rocket and Cucumber Salad, and a Soy and Ginger Dressing
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Serves: 2
 

Ingredients
  • 400g fresh tuna
  • 200g rocket
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 radishes
  • Olive Oil
  • Black sesame seeds, lightly toasted
Dressing
  • 1 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
  • 1cm ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1½ tbsp mirin (rice vinegar)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • ½ tbsp water
  • Black Pepper

Instructions
  1. To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients together well.
  2. Peel the cucumber and radishes into strips using a peeler. Add to the rocket and set aside.
  3. In a hot pan, add some oil and quickly sear the tuna on all sides and set aside.
  4. Dress the salad lightly with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and place in the centre of a plate.
  5. Slice the tuna and place on top of the salad. Top with the soy dressing and the toasted sesame seeds.

 

Smoked Salmon Hash with Poached Egg

Smoked Salmon Hash with Poached Egg
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Serves: 2
 

A simple recipe that packs flavour and is perfect for lunch, brunch or a light dinner
Ingredients
  • 300g cooked baby potatoes
  • 100g smoked salmon, chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Instructions
  1. To make the dressing, mix the crème fraiche, olive oil, Dijon mustard and juice of 1 lemon together. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Gently crush the potatoes and mix with the capers, dill, spring onions and zest of 1 lemon
  3. Fry the potatoes in a pan with sunflower oil on a medium-high heat, and cook until the potatoes begin to go crispy.
  4. In the meantime, you can poach the eggs
  5. Add the smoked salmon to the potatoes, stir, and remove from the heat.
  6. To serve, place some potato mix on a plate, top with dressing, poached egg and some fresh dill.

 

Irish Food…it’s not all Bacon and Cabbage

It’s St. Patricks weekend, the temperature is 15 degrees centigrade in March, and Ireland have just won the Six Nations rugby championship.

What better way to celebrate in the sunshine than to make some pizza’s, Irish style, perfect after a skinful of Guinness, as we like to say! I’m using the best of Irish ingredients for toppings. Clonakilty Black Pudding (we live on the stuff down here!), Cashel Blue cheese, and some onions and rocket from the garden. I’ve relied on my buddy Jamie for the pizza base recipe.

You can find the recipe here

Happy St. Patricks Day.

Paddy’s Day Pizza (Black Pudding and Blue Cheese Pizza with Caramelised Onions)

Paddy’s Day Pizza (Black Pudding and Blue Cheese Pizza with Caramelised Onions)
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Serves: 6
 

Makes 3 large pizzas
Ingredients
Pizza Dough
  • 400 g Italian ‘00’ flour (strong white bread flour)
  • 100 g fine ground semolina flour (or Italian ’00′ flour as above)
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • 1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
  • ½ tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 330 ml lukewarm water
Toppings (per pizza)
  • 3 tbsp tomato sauce (4 large ripe tomatoes – skinned and chopped, olive oil, 1 clove garlic, basil leaves, butter)
  • 50g black pudding (if you can get Clonakilty, we live on the stuff down here)
  • 50g blue cheese (I used Cashel Blue)
  • 3 tbsp caramelized red onions (cook off 2 sliced red onions with 1 tbsp sugar and 1tbsp butter)
  • Handful Rocket

Instructions
  1. Place the flour and salt in a pile and make a well in the centre. You could also use a mixer with a dough-hook which makes it even easier.
  2. Put the sugar and yeast into a jug with 330ml lukewarm water to activate the yeast. Mix, and after a few minutes, place it in the well in the centre of the flour and salt.
  3. Slowly knock the edges of the flour into the water mix with a fork and start mixing it together. You will eventually have to use your hands. Flour your hands first and then begin to roll the dough into a ball.
  4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is soft and springy.
  5. Set aside in a lightly greased bowl covered with a kitchen towel for about 1 hour until it doubles in size. You can now split it into 3 balls and wrap it in clingfilm and place in the fridge until you need the dough later.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to the 250C. The oven needs to be very hot.
  7. Roll the pizza dough out as thin as possible and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  8. You can then put on your toppings. Crumble the black pudding and blue cheese, and add some caramelized onions.
  9. Place in the oven on a baking tray or a pizza stone if you have one for about 8-10 min until it is becoming crispy around the edges.

 

Not so hot on tongue, but I like a bit of cheek..

It’s great to see that people are looking at the cheaper cuts of meat again. This is definitely one that most people would avoid probably because of the part of the animal it comes from (for me its Ox Tongue, I know there are plenty of you out there that will disagree). Ox Cheeks are one of one of the easiest cuts to cook with, although you have to cook it for some time. Get your butcher to remove most of the fat and then it’s as simple as making a regular stew. Remember compromising on price does not always mean compromising on taste, if you are buying your meat from your local butcher.

I made this with polenta after seeing something similar on Sunday Brunch. I hadn’t cooked Polenta before; it’s something I had avoided given that some of the offerings I had tasted in the past were akin to wallpaper paste in texture and in taste. The addition of butter, parmesan and cream in this recipe marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship between me and the afore much maligned Polenta..

You can find the recipe here

http://terrylyons.ie/recipes/slow-cooked-ox-cheeks-with-creamy-polenta/

Slow cooked Ox-Cheeks with creamy polenta

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