Wednesday, July 6, 2016

My Bombay Potatoes - Simple ingredients, Awesome Flavours



The humble spud is getting yet another make over here. Where would I be without my potatoes! I simply adore them and quiet frankly could inhale them; mashed, chips, boil, cubed, any which way I love them. Being Irish, this comes as no surprise, but there are many other countries who champion the potato also.


Take Spain for example, Patatas Bravas or papa bravas are my one most beloved foods EVER! Then of course you have your french fries and your roasties from the likes of Europe and America, and Italy are doing their own thing with potatoes in the form of Gnocchi, as per my most recent Gnocchi recipe.



But surprisingly potatoes feature heavily in Indian cooking. A large proportion of Indians are vegetarians and potatoes are quiet often used in curries. This is a recipe for a 'dry' Indian Potato dish, a side dish I always order in Indian restaurants,the delectable Bombay Potatoes. A spicy potato dish using some great fragrant spices and tomatoes. It packs a real punch in the flavour department and is super healthy. There are so many different versions, but here is mine:



Ingredients


  • 2 large rooster potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 onion, half diced, half sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (I use mild)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 4 tbsp of oil (I use Irish Rapeseed oil)
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander




Method


  • Put a large pan of salted water on the boil and par-boil the potato cubes.
  • Meanwhile, blend roughly the diced onion, the ginger, the garlic, the cumin, the coriander, the mustard seeds, turmeric, chili powder and garam masala.
  • When the potatoes are cooked, after approx 6 minutes, drain and allow to steam for a couple of minutes.
  • Get a large deep frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil. Then cook out the blended spice mixture for a few minutes. 
  • Then add the potato cubes and the tomato wedges, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the dish looks like it's too dry and 'catching'
  • Before serving, scatter with coriander leaves.


This is the perfect side dish to any roasts, or in Indian it is simply enjoyed with some naan bread and pilau rice.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Chocolate Caramel Bites - Speedy Sweet Canapes


This post isn't even a recipe, I couldn't call it that, as these bites are just a simple assembly job. In saying that they taste amazing, too good not to share! I love to have something nice and sweet greeting all my guests arriving to the Bed and Breakfast. Sometimes I have time for cupcakes or brownies,  but there are some busy days when I don't have enough time for anything other that pimping up melted chocolate!

For these little bites from heaven, I use all butter shortcrust pastry case from Marks and Spencers. I have made these from scratch before using shortcrust pastry, but these shop bought ones are great, especially if you are on a time budget

A staple in everyone's pantry should be Nestle's Carnations Caramel Sauce, it's awesome! So good in so many treats.

The final ingredients were some dark chocolate and some candy sprinkles. Here's the assembly recipe!



Ingredients

  • 1 can of Carnation Caramel
  • 1 100g bar of good dark chocolate 
  • Sprinkles
  • Ready made mini  all butter shortcrust pastry cases



Method


  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts
  2. Place 1/2 tsp of carnation caramel in each pastry case
  3. Pour 1/2 tsp of melted chocolate over the caramel and place your sprinkle of choice on the melted chocolate.
  4. Put in the fridge for 20 minutes and they are ready to eat.


Perfect for a tea party, last minute guests, or a canape for a drinks party. I myself put them on a table in the hallway of my Bed and Breakfast, so chocolate is the first thing that my guests see when they walk through the door.



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Gnocchi



I love Gnocchi, those gorgeous pillowy potato dumplings Italy made famous! They are so versatile and a fantastic change from regular pasta every once in a while. You would be surprised how simple it is to make your own. Plus making your own has the added benefit of no preservative or additives. Just a few simply ingredients and you are done!



Ever the health conscious, well I like to do a little balancing act of 20% bold awesome treats, and 80% sinless tasty meals; I've decided to make gnocchi even healthier. Normally made with white potatoes and white flour, I'm mixing things up a bit using whole wheat flour, and sweet potatoes instead. I love how by making little grooves in the gnocchi, your sauce sticks to them, making for a very tasty vegetarian meal. I like to go meat free on a Monday after maybe over eating at the weekends. This is the perfect antidote to a weekend of over indulging, but still packed with goodness and flavour!



Ingredients


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 tbsp of olive oil, extra virgin
  • Salt & pepper
  • The sauce of your choice,  My Parsley Pesto, is a particular favorite



Method


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and bake the sweet potatoes for 50 minutes. If you are short on time, prick each sweet potato many times, wrap in kitchen paper and microwave for 6-7 minutes.
  2. Once baked, slice the potatoes in half and scoop out the soft potato, discard the skins. Allow to cool. 
  3. Add salt, pepper and the oil, and mash the potatoes well.
  4. Add the flour to the mashed potato and knead to a well formed dough, add more oil if too dry or more flour if too wet.
  5. Dust your work surface with flour and turn out the dough, giving it a brief knead. 
  6. Roll the dough out to a sausage rope.
  7. Cut the rope into 1 inch intervals.
  8. Using a wet fork, stamp each gnocchi, to give a slight indent.
  9. Place a pan of water on to boil with a generous pinch of salt.
  10. Drop the gnocchi into the water and cool for a couple of minutes. When they float, they are cooked.
  11. Stir through your sauce/pesto of choice and enjoy.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Red Quinoa & Smoked Salmon Sushi - A Low GI Alternative to Sushi Rolls



Nori Maki is my favorite sushi!! I adore the taste of the nori seaweed paper and the sweet and tangy rice vinegar soaked sticky sushi rice! I've been hooked ever since my Sushi for Beginners class in Ballymaloe (see previous blog post here). I've been obsessed lately with trying to eat foods with a low GI, and trying to pair the correct foods together. I was shocked to see sushi rice so high on the glycemic index (89). Not one to say good bye to my beloved nori maki rolls, I set about trying to find an alternative for the high GI rice. After all, every other part of the rolls are extremely healthy.



That's when I discovered that the awesome quinoa could do the same job as the rice. I have developed quite an obsession for red quinoa, I love the crunchier texture over white quinoa, but they both still have the same nutrient make up more or less. I'll admit that white quinoa is fluffier and probably be easier to work with from a 'sticky' perspective, but I think that the red quinoa just has more flavor, dammit!! :)



There is something so satisfying about rolling nori maki rolls. I can't put my finger on it, it's reminds me of make and do as a child and has a fun playful aspect to it. It's actually childsplay to make and you'll find that you become more confident and accomplished as you progress from rolling your first roll to the final one.



I have an endless supply of gorgeous fresh smoked salmon in my kitchen from the Bed and Breakfast so I robbed some for my dinner to make these rolls. We get our salmon delivered to the door from a local supplier and it's definately worth buying your smoked salmon locally. There is no comparison with the cheaper supermarket alternatives. If you don't like/have smoked salmon you can use pretty much anything, prawns, crab, or go completely veggie, and have a rainbow of peppers and cucumbers. There are no rules!! Afterall, I'm not even using rice!



I will say you can't have sushi without wasabi, pickled ginger or soy! Now that's a deal breaker! I love the hot hit you get from wasabi, so I spread it on my salmon in the roll, but if you're not that hard core, just plant a blob of it on the side of your plate and dip in the roll after. The 'hot hit' though is an addictive feeling.

Here's the recipe to my favorite, but use this as a guide and substitute in the ingredients you like



Makes 4 Rolls

Ingredients


  • 1 cup of red quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 tbsp japanese rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 4 nori sheets, try to source a sushi rolling bamboo mat also. They are usually sold along side the nori sheets. It makes rolling so much easier.
  • 50g of smoked salmon, sliced thinly
  • Thinly sliced variety of peppers, carrots, and cucumber
  • 1 tube of wasabi
  • soy sauce
  • pickled ginger



Method


  1. Firstly you must cook you quinoa. Add 2 cups of water to a saucepan, bring to a boil, add the the quinoa and cook on a simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain well.
  3. Spread the quinoa out in a dish and mix in the vinegar, salt and sugar and make sure everything gets well coated.
  4. Allow the quinoa to cool.
  5. Get your bamboo rolling mat and place in front of you.
  6. Wave a sheet of nori over the hob, careful not to burn, but just to heat slightly to make the sheet more pliable.
  7. Place the nori sheet on the bamboo mat, shiny side down.
  8. Spread a thin layer of quinoa over the the whole sheet, out to the edges, leaving a small space at the top side of the sheet to seal it. 
  9. Lay the smoked salmon and the vegetables (whichever combination you prefer) on the side nearest you. Careful not to over fill as the roll will burst if over filled. I know this from vast greedy experience.
  10. Dab the empty edge of the nori sheet with rice vinegar using your finger. This is your glue.
  11. Carefully , as tight as you can, start rolling the the roll, away from you.
  12. I like to cut the ends of the sushi rolls normally for a cleaner finish, and these ends are cooks treat.
  13. Cut the roll in half, and then cut those halves in half, and finally , cut those pieces in half. You should have eight pieces, for small bites. you can make them bigger, but the sushi etiquette is to be able to eat your roll in one mouth full, and I don't know about you, but my mouth isn't big enough for anything bigger than 1/8 of a roll at a time.


To serve, put a 'blob' of wasabi on the side of the plate, soy sauce in a dish and pickled ginger on the side. Dip and enjoy.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bake it Easy - The Fastest Cookies I've Ever Made




I don't normally 'review' products, and in fact I'm such a keen baker that I wouldn't normally buy a 'mix'. But this cookie mix is something completely different, and left my highly impressed!So much so I felt I had to share. So this isn't really a review, but more of a recommendation!

 With the Bed & Breakfast in full swing, and with two kids under three years old, I'm constantly living on borrowed time. But that doesn't mean I want to comprise neglecting my baking time with my daughter Aoife. She is only three, but already a baking enthusiast! This mixture was great, as I knew exactly what in the mix and exactly what we were consuming, unlike some 'cookie dough' you can buy in the fridge section of the supermarkets.

I bought the Oatly Dotely mixture, which is a strawberry and oat cookie mix. It's divine. It reminds me a little of Hagen Daz Strawberry Cheesecake Ice-cream. I'm actually thinking that if you make your own ice-cream (sometimes I do when time permits), add these cookies crumbled into the final icecream to make a healthier Strawberry Cheesecake icecream.

The mixture in the jar is a layered combination of dried strawberries, oats, coconut, sugar and flour and vanilla. You simply just pour the contents of the jar into a bowl, and mix well. Then add cooled melted butter, honey and an egg (all mixed together), to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. The recipe at the back of the jar is a doddle to follow and it correctly states it makes 15 cookies, using a teaspoon to measure them out onto a baking tray. I drizzled melted white chocolate over the cookies, as a little weekend treat, and I place them at the Bed & Breakfast entrance as a nice little welcome treat for all my guests.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Kale & Cashew Pesto



I'm a huge pesto fan! I find it to be such a diverse ingredient in the kitchen, pairing it with pasta, potatoes, dressings, salads, stews, roasts and bakes; I always have one type or another lurking a kilner jar in the fridge. This is not the first pesto recipe I've blogged! Check out the following link for my previous pestos:

Basil & Almond Pesto
Parsley, Chilli, & Garlic Pesto
Rocket Pesto



You may notice in each of those pesto recipes I have left out the Parmesan cheese component, and this recipe is no different. This makes the pestos vegan friendly.I adore Parmesan cheese, but my husband is not a fan, so I've learnt to exclude it.



I've upped the super powers though for this particular pesto, Kale & Cashew nut. You can't get healthier than Kale, and it's currently enjoying a moment as THEE go to super  food. This is a super clean guilt free pesto that is packed full of nutrients. The cashews also really help bring a creaminess to the final pesto!

My fussy little three year old would live on pesto pasta given the chance, so this was the perfect way to sneak some kale into her diet. While she didn't take kindly  to the change in taste in the first bite or two of her 'usual' pasta. By the end of the meal she had a happy belly and a happy mommy!! If it passed the Aoife Test, then it will please the very fussiest of little eaters!

Ingredients

  • 50g of raw cashew nuts
  • 1 large handful of chopped kale leaves (no stalks)
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 chopped garlic clove
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 3 tbsp of flat leaf parsley


Method


  1. Simply place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until the desired constituency. I like to stop just before it gets 100% smooth, for a little bit of texture. 
  2. Store in a kilner jar, or similar, with a layer of oil on the top to preserve the pesto.


I also spread this on some salmon fillets, then baked as normal in the oven, it was really tasty.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spicy Harrisa Chickpea Cakes with Chunky Raita



Here's a super quick, super healthy vegetarian dish perfect if you are stuck in a lunch time rut, like myself! The harrisa paste gives the chickpea cakes a real hot and smoky kick, with the raita being the perfect cooling accompaniment. This can easily be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave and added to the raita salad, if you are office based. But equally this dish is a perfect starter for a dinner party or also throw the cakes in a pitta or flatbread for a wonderful alternative to a sandwich. Whatever the occasion, there is no excuse not to give these babies a go!!



Ingredients

  • 1 tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tbsp of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp of harrisa paste
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices of bread, blitz to breadcrumbs



Raita

  • 50ml of natural yogurt
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and diced
  • 1/4 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 5ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp diced red onion


Method

  1. Add all the chickpea cake ingredients to a food processor and blitz to a batter style consistency.
  2. Wet your hands and shape into small patties (cakes). I got 10 from this recipe, but you can make them smaller for canapes or bigger for burgers.
  3. Heat a non stick pan to medium and add a small amount of olive oil.
  4. Fry the chickpea cakes for 4 minutes on each side.
  5. To make the chunky raita, simply combine all the ingredients and stir well. If you have mint or coriander, this would also work.
  6. Enjoy. These can be stored cooled for 2 days in the refrigerator and reheated gently on a pan for for 1 minute in the microwave.




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