Saturday, April 30, 2011

Serena's Medium Rare: Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Serena's Medium Rare: Moroccan Lamb Tagine: "If I want to impress my guests I usually whip this recipe out of the bag, this is dish is particularly delicious if made the day before. Ing..."

Serena's Medium Rare: Balsamic Blueberries & Ice-cream

Serena's Medium Rare: Balsamic Blueberries & Ice-cream: "This is not a blog for those with a sweet tooth......Desserts and sweets are not my strongest.....I leave that to my fiancé, however, I do ..."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Speedy Chicken & Cashew Nut Stir Fry

After roasting a large chicken last night, I wanted to cook something quick and simple this evening with the leftovers. The cupboards are bare in the run up to yet another bank holiday weekend, so store cupboard staples were called on to make this quick stir fry. It was literally on the table in under 10 minutes, making this a winning recipe for those on the run during the week.

Serves 2


  • Left over roast chicken or 2-3 skin less chicken thighs
  • Finely diced clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp groundnut oil
  • 1 grated thumb size ginger piece
  • A pinch of chili flakes
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1 carrot sliced on diagonal
  • 8-10 mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp unsalted cashew nuts
  • half green pepper sliced
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 4-5 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp 
  • handful chopped coriander and mint
  • Egg Noodles to serve

  1. Fill a saucepan with boiling water and put onto a simmer
  2. Heat a wok to high with groundnut oil
  3. Quickly stir-fry the garlic, chili flakes, ginger and five spice
  4. Add the noodles to the boiling water and simmer for 3-4 minutes
  5. To the wok, add the carrots, pepper, mushrooms and stir fry for 2 minutes
  6. Add the shredded left-over chicken and stir fry for another minute
  7. Add soy sauce, cashew nuts and sesame oil stirring continuously
  8. Drain the noodles
  9. Add the chopped herbs to the wok and serve with the noodles.
This recipe is soooo interchangeable, depending on whats in the cupboards and what you fancy, i.e. turkey meat for lower fat, rice instead of noodles, add more or less chili.............its up to you. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Filling in the blanks of a Galway Weekend

Well, as promised here’s the low down on the Galway weekend, what is remembered any who.

Started off in good stead with some Seafood chowder  and vino blanco in Fat Freddies, not the first place that would spring to mind if one was on lookout for really good chowder; but we were feeling nostalgic, and it was a start of a good weekend down memory lane!

Our dinner in the Salthill Hotel was included in our rate. Now usually I give Menu d’hôtel’s a wide birth, having worked in a hotel myself for a summer, but with the Sathill Hotel, it wasn't so bad at all. Both ordering Panko Crumbed prawns, and sirloin steaks. My came as asked…..medium rare, though Alan’s was slightly overcooked for medium. The Desserts unfortunately didn’t match up to expectations and we left both the Black Forrest Gateaux and the Strawberry cheesecake half attempted. They just weren’t worth the calories.

With our bellies full, we sampled all our usually haunts in Quay street, including Supermacs on the corner at 2am, and may I say, my chicken tenders were ‘AMAZING’. Although at that stage of the proceedings of the night, I’m betting that the strawberry cheesecake in the hotel would also be ‘amazing’ also

With delicate heads the following day, we took the day at our leisure and stumbled into town for more chowder and wine, to fill us till tea time. For Dinner, KC Blakes Brassiere was the haunt of choice, having never being there before, I was excited to check it out, and may I say, Wowzers! It did not disappoint! The only disappointment I had was that I never went there when I actually lived in Galway. The starters of seafood platter and tapas of calamari and goats cheese stuffed bell peppers were sublime. Our mains of lemon soles and fries and hake with lobster cream, were outstanding. If I had once criticism it’s that the main course was served too quickly after the starter and I had a major Food Baby as a result, and didn’t leave much room for Vodka Limes, though try, I did!!!

To finish off our culinary visit down memory lane, we met friends for lunch in Da Roberta in Salthill for excellent pizzas, mine with rosemary and feta (surprise)cheese. The place was packed and has the same buzz about it as it did 4 years ago!

So with all that rich fare and supping in places like Neachtans and Sonnys, needless to say up until yesterday it felt like I had just completed a week of Rag Week (heavy drinking week in Uni for those of you not from Ireland). And as nice a time as I had I’m just relieved to be back into my comfortable routine again of low fat cuisine.

Photographing some recipes now, be gentle I'm a virgin!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Serena's Medium Rare: Middle eastern Inspired Leg of Lamb

Serena's Medium Rare: Middle eastern Inspired Leg of Lamb: "This leg of lamb recipe is simply amazing. When you can use a fork to carve instead on a knife you know its good. The secret is in the long ..."

Toffee Ice-cream Sundae

Toffee sauce may have all evil ingredients, but a little goes a long way and the toffee sauce keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

  • Sliced banana
  • good quality vanilla ice-cream
  • roasted peanuts
  • toffee sauce
Toffee sauce
  • 250g brown sugar 
  • 100g unsalted butter 
  • 220 ml double cream 
  • 250g golden syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Firstly to make the toffee sauce, melt the butter and sugar together.
  2.  Add the golden syrup and cream and bring to the boil. Leave simmer for a few minutes. 
  3. In two ice cream sundae bowls, put some slices of banana at the bottom, then the ice-cream, then add the remaining banana slices drizzle over some of the toffee sauce. 
  4. Sprinkle with crushed peanuts and dig in.

Middle eastern Inspired Leg of Lamb

This leg of lamb recipe is simply amazing. When you can use a fork to carve instead on a knife you know its good. The secret is in the long slow cooking, making the meat meltingly good. For best results marinate the meat in the fridge over night

Serves 4-5


  • 1 large leg of lamb
  • 3 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp of coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil


  1. Dry fry the seeds and peppercorns over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, careful not to burn them
  2. Put the toasted seeds, salt, olive, and peeled garlic cloves in a pestle and mortar and pound to a rough paste
  3. Smear the lamb with the oil mixture and put in the fridge, preferably overnight.
  4. When it comes to cooking the lamb, get a large frying pan on a medium heat and brown the leg on all sides.
  5. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees
  6. Put the leg in a roasting tin, cover with foil, and roast for 5 hours, taking the foil off for the final 45 mins.
  7. Allow to rest for 10-15 mins, covered, before serving.
  8. The meat should fall away from itself with the ease of a fork.
This is recipe is great with my cous cous recipe, honey roasted carrots, and harissa yogurt and of course some pitta breads. Great pick n mix casual dining.

Dieters Chips

For years I felt deprived of my guilty pleasure, chips, because I've always been on a some sort of diet. However I have come up with a low fat version of chips that will leave you coming up with excuses to make them again and again.

Serves 1, very generously


  • 2 good quality potatoes, I like roosters cause the skin gets nice and crispy
  • Some low fat olive oil spray (or 1 tbsp olive oil)
  • Sea Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dried oregano or dired italian mixed herbs
  • Malt vinegar and ketchup to serve.

  1. Cut the potatoes into medium cut chips
  2. Place in a pan of cold water, bring up to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Drain the chips and pat dry with kitchen paper
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine the chips, oil, herbs, and seasoning.
  5. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and spray with oil to prevent the chips from sticking
  6. Place the chips on the tray in a single layer and place in over for 25 mins, turning often to ensure an even crispy coating.
  7. Serve with more salt, ketchup and vinegar.
Because you are using mininium oil, the fat content of the chips is kept low. Making chips as a special treat can become a thing of the past and you can have them regularly mid week without the guilt.

Easy Peasy Garlic Bread

This recipe is a fantastic standby, and because we use par-baked bread, the result is garlic bread with a bread baking smell!!!


  • One par baked ciabatta loaf ( or any par baked bread of your choosing)
  • Good Quality Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Grated clove of garlic
  • Finely chopped flat leave parsley

  1. Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Split the bread in half down the middle
  3. In a bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together
  4. Brush the oil mixture onto the bread slices or just use you hands (a cooks best tools) [corny, yes]
  5. Lightly flick some water onto the bread and place in the oven for 9 mins
  6. Finally, dig in!!!
Most par baked breads kept excellently in the freezer, just defrost a couple of hours before use

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oven Baked Thai Trout

I picked this recipe up from a little cookery course I did in Ko Samui in Thailand a few years ago. I oven bake it as in Ireland we are prone to terrible weather, so a BBQ only comes out a handful of times a year. But if you are blessed with sunny skies, then this is AMAZING on a BBQ.Seriously........Try it!

Serves 4


  • 2 Whole Sea Trout, gutted with head and tail intact
  • 5 tbsp of fish sauce
  • Chopped coriander
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 finely chopped red chili
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • Minced garlic clove
  • Chopped mint

  1. Place the trout on oiled tin foil in a baking tray
  2. Douse liberally with fish sauce, the smell at this stage is rank
  3. Allow the trout to soak up the 'rank' fish sauce for 30 minutes or so
  4. Place the lemon slices in the cavity of the fish
  5. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  6. Put the fish in the oven for 15-20 mins, depending on the size of the fish
  7. In the meantime to make the sauce, in a jug add the fish sauce, juice of a lime, chopped herbs, chili, honey, garlic. Add a little water to dilute if the taste is too strong.
  8. Remove the fish from the oven and serve straight to the table as it it and pour over the sauce, and sprinkle with a little extra coriander for effect.
  9. Serve with  sticky basmalti rice
This recipe is tweaked because there are lots of ingredients from thai cuisine that aren't readily available to us here in Ireland. eg palm sugar, I use honey instead. 
Either way this is num nums!

Thai Fragrant Turkey Balls

Since travelling South East Asia, I have developed a love for the sweet, salty, spicy, sour combination of flavours. I came up with this recipe when cooking a Thai green chicken curry that I had learned on a cookery course in Ko Samui , and was trying to think of a light starter, for a friend who doesn't eat red meat.

Serves 4


  • 450g of minced turkey meat (you can easily use pork or beef mince instead)
  • 1 egg roughly whisked
  • 1 finely diced onion
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 red chili, finely diced
  • 1 stick of fresh lemongrass, outer stick removed, then bruised and finely diced
  • zest of a lime
  • finely chopped mint and coriander
  • 2 slices of bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp of fish sauce
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Cos lettuce, leaves separated to serve

  1. Add all the ingredients, except for the lettuce, into a bowl and combine well. I find using you hands here is the best method.
  2. Wash you hands, and using damp hands roll into little balls, place them on baking parchment as you go. An ice-cream scoop works well here too.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  4. Allow the balls to firm up a little in the fridge before cooking. These are handy when having guests as they can be prepared a few hours before hand
  5. Put in the oven for 15 mins, turning half way. Of course these would be amazing fried, but I'm trying to keep it healthy.
  6. To serve, I like to put the washed lettuce leaves on a serving platter, and put a ball in each lettuce leave and squint a tiny bit of Thai chili sauce on each ball. The result is full on exploding flavours in one mouth full. 

These are a great canapé for a drinks party also.

Honeycomb dinner gift

I've gotten in the habit of making mothers day presents, as I think the thoughtfulness has double the impact.
I got this recipe idea from Nigella Lawson's Express TV series. Once mastered on timing, the results are well worth it. It did take 5 batches, and a whole bottle of golden syrup to get this right, but in the end it was worth the effort, as I had two happy mammies on Mothers Day as a result.


  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1.5 tsp of bicarbonate soda
  • 1 250g chocolate bar

  1. Prepare baking paper near to the cooker , to pour the mixture onto when the time comes.
  2. Add the caster sugar to a saucepan
  3. Mix in the golden syrup
  4. Stir well to combine, as once the mixture is on the heat stirring is FORBIDDEN
  5. Put the saucepan on the heat and allow to come up to a boil, 3-4 mins. Swirling is premitted.
  6. This is where it got tricky for me......... When the mixture starts to smell toffee like and turns a deep golden colour, quickly add the bicarbonate soda and stir like crazy!!
  7. It should foam up and double in size and turn a lighter yellow shade
  8. Immediately pout out onto baking paper
  9. Allow to cool, it should harden fully within 5 to 10 mins.
  10. Then get a knife or a teeny little hammer and careful bash to form irregular shards of honeycomb
  11. Roughly break up the chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pan of water, careful not to let the bowl and water meet
  12. once the chocolate is melted, drop in the shards of honeycomb and mix until covered in chocolate.
  13. Allow to set on a cooling rack.
  14. I did half and half......half with chocolate and half without
Another useful use for the honeycomb is scatter it over good vanilla ice cream, yummy!!!!!

Good luck with this, even though I had read the recipe countless times, as I said it did take 5 attempts to get it right.

Now I have 11 months to figure out what to make for the next Mothers Day

In season Griddled Asparagus

This recipe is so simple, its like something from those 4 ingredients ladies because so little is needed. When asparagus is in season, then we should let them speak for themselves.

Serves 2


  • Asparagus (maybe 6 spears per person)
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • 50g feta cheese, or if preferred goats cheese, or simply just some shavings of Parmesan
  1. Heat a griddle pan to high
  2. when smoking, add the asparagus in a single layer, tossing to get the charred effect. Do not put any oil on the aspargus, it will make it soggy.
  3. To serve, divide the aspargus between two plates, in a showy fashion if so desired!!
  4. Sprinkle with a few drops of balsamic vinegar 
  5. Crumble over the feta cheese
Now thats a low cal starter!

Zingy Pan-fried Whiting fillets

I'm a big fish fan, 1. because its so low in fat, and 2. because its just so versatile. As kids we grew up on Donegal Catch and fish fingers, and if we were to be given fresh fish, it was most likely whiting.
This recipe goes with all while fish, not just whiting, pollack, and haddock and sea bass also take the flavours well.

Serves 2


  • 4 whiting fillets, skin on
  •  Flat leave Parsley
  • A few basil leaves
  • Grated lemon zest
  • salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Chili
  • Oil
  • Salad
  • Baby potatoes to serve

  1. Put a few sprigs of parsley, basil and coriander in a mini blender, add zest of lemon, salt, pepper, half a diced chili and 1 clove of garlic crushed.
  2. Blitz to form a paste
  3. Make 3 diagonal slashes in each whiting fillet
  4. Rub in the zingy herb paste
  5. Heat a frying pan with a little oil, medium heat
  6. Add to whiting fillets skin side down
  7. Pan fry 3 mins a side, depending on the thickeness
  8. Squeeze over some lemon juice and season with pepper
  9. Serve with baby potatoes and a salad for a well balanced low fat dinner

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

If I want to impress my guests I usually whip this recipe out of the bag, this is dish is particularly delicious if made the day before.


Serves 4
  • 2 lbs diced lamb
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp of maldon sea salt
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • one diced onion
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 carrots thickly sliced on diagonal
  • 4 tbsp of apricots
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 100g cous cous
  • 1 tbsp Kerrygold butter
  • Generous handful chopped Corriander
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 250g tub Greek yogurt (to serve)
  • 4 mini pitta breads (to serve)
  • lemon wedges (to serve)


1. Combine all the spices, garlic and onion and rub into the meat
2. Leave to marinate, preferably overnight, although an hour should be sufficient.
2. In a lidded oven proof casserole dish, add the butter and olive oil on a medium heat.
3. Brown the meat, in batches if necessary.
4. Add all the meat back into the casserole dish, adding the carrots, tinned tomatoes, sugar, and tomato paste, salt and pepper.
5. Bring up to the boil and put lid on the dish and put in a preheated oven for 1.5 hours at 180 degrees.
6. Meanwhile, put cous cous in a bowl, add butter, rind of lemon, season with salt and pepper and pour over 150 mls of boiling water and cover for ten mins.
7. Fluff with a fork, adding half the chopped coriander.
8. Put apricots in a jug of boiling water and leave for 5-10 mins for them to rehydrate a little and get nice and juicy, then cut in half.
9. Put the flaked almonds on a baking tray and toast in the oven, keeping an eye on them as they can burn in matter of seconds.
10. Remove the casserole dish from the oven and add the apricots and almonds and runny honey.
11. Return the dish (uncovered) to the oven for a final 20 mins to brown.
12. Put the pittas in the oven to warm through.
13. Remove the dish from the oven and present to the table in the dish adding the chopped coriander.
14. Put the cous cous, yogurt and pittas in bowls on the table and let your guests help themselves, Moroccan style! Enjoy.
(This recipe tastes even better reheated the following day)

Sesame Crusted Fried Halloumi Salad

Halloumi is difficult to get sometimes, but when you do see it in the supermarket, you should definately pick some up. Halloumi is a non melting salty cheese from Cyprus, usually made from a combination of goat, sheep and cows milk. Its really tasty.

Serves 4


  • 1 250g packet of halloumi cheese, sliced 8 even slices
  • 6 tbsp of sesame seeds
  • Rocket
  • 4 quartered tomatoes
  • 1 chopped spring onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice


  1. Place the sesame seeds in a plate and put the halloumi slices on the plate. 
  2. Press down for them to pick up the seeds, ensuring they are coated well on all sides
  3. Put a frying pan of medium heat with just a little olie oil
  4. Fry the halloumi 2 mins per side, the cheese should soften slighty but remain intact
  5. For the rocket salad, divide the rocket into 4 bowls, add the tomatoes.
  6. In a cup, mix a tbsp of olive oil, a tsp of balsamic vinegar and some lemon juice, salt and pepper and mix
  7. Dress the rocket and tomato salad, and top with the sliced fried slices of halloumi

Herby Pastry Twist Sticks

A great canapé or as side to a soup dish, these twists are extremely addictive!!!!


  • 1 Packet of frozen puff pastry
  • melted butter
  • thyme leaves & chives
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, whisked roughly

  1. Roll out the pastry on a floured paper lined baking tray
  2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  3. Combine the melted butter and herbs
  4. Brush the pastry with the mixture
  5. Slice the pastry length ways into 2 centimeter slices
  6. Twist each slice twice in the same direction
  7. Brush with the egg mixture, season with sea salt and bake for 10 mins
You can experiment with the flavours, such as smoked paprika and garlic, or rosemary perhaps....

Roast Butternut Squash soup

I really thought I was going to O.D. on this soup this past winter. It's super easy and delish, and lasts at least 3 days in fridge. This is my low fat version, but it can be bigged up, for a dinner party easily by adding coconut milk and serving with my goats cheese crostini or cheesy garlic bread croutons!


  • 1 butternut squash, diced
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt/pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Diced onion
  • 2 sticks celery finely chopped
  • Chopped Coriander


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
  2. Put the squash and carrots in a roasting tin, with oil and pepper and cumin
  3. Roast for 25 mins
  4. Saute the onions, and celery and minced garlic
  5. Add the roasted vegetables
  6. Add 1 litre of chicken stock (or vegetable if vegetarian)
  7. Simmer for 10 minutes
  8. Add half the coriander and whizz up with an electric hand blender, or blend in batches
  9. Season to taste and add remaining coriander
To really impress, see my post of how to make puff pastry stick, a work of moments but really impressive and serve instead of bread. Not an everyday treat, but gives that extra something something when serving soup as a starter to dinner guests. I actually made the soup with coconut milk and these herby puff sticks as a starter for our last family Christmas Dinner

Pesto Salmon and Tagliatelli

This recipe can be served to the table in 15 mins, making it a winner in my books when you have that unexpected dinner guest.

Serves 2


  • 2 salmon fillets
  • Olive Oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Fresh egg tagliatelli
  • 3 tbsp pesto (I like salsca)
  • Garlic Bread to serve/ or green salad


  1. Put a frying pan on medium heat
  2. Add the butter and oil
  3. Season the salmon well with salt and pepper
  4. Put a large saucepan of boiling water on high heat
  5. Add the salmon to the frying pan, skin side down, leaving for 5 mins
  6. Add the pasta to the boiling water and bring back to boil for 4 mins
  7. Turn the salmon and cook for further 6 mins
  8. Drain the pasta, and toss in the pesto sauce
  9. Divide out the pasta and serve with the salmon fittet on top, et Voilé! Tasty meal in mins!

My Cous Cous Salad

My mom just rang me to ask for my cous cous recipe, as she had replicated it but said it wasn't quiet right, so whilst it's still fresh in my head I said I'd get it out there. I make cous cous every single week. Its great on its own as a salad, or also as accompaniment to roast meats, chicken and lamb in particular. This is the basic recipe, I usually add whatever is in the cupboards, always substituting if necessary


  • 150g cous cous
  • 210mls of chicken stock or boiling water
  • grated rind of lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper
  • thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp of ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp dried apricots
  • 2-3 tbsp of sultanas
  • 50 g of flaked almonds
  • Chopped coriander
  1. In a large bowl place the cous cous, a drop of oil, rind of lemon, salt and pepper, cumin and thyme.
  2. Pour over the stock or boiling water, give it a good stir and cover for 10 minutes to absorb
  3. Meanwhile toast the almonds on a baking tray in a single layer in the oven, careful that they don't burn. Sometime I run out of almonds and I use pine nuts.
  4. Put the dried fruit in a jug of recently boiled water and leave for 5 minutes to rehydrate
  5. After the 10 minutes is up with the cous cous, use a fork to fluff it up, add the drained fruit, chopped if too big, toasted nuts and coriander. Add the juice of half the lemon and do a final fluffing!
  6. This keeps for up to 3 days in the fridge, often tasting better on day two.
If I want this to be the main event, I'll add feta (surprise), grated carrot, chopped cucumber, rocket and tomato wedges.
This would be good with my roast red pepper hummous and a pitta bread. Such a healthy lunchbox idea!

Asian Baked Salmon, Stir fry and Noodles

As Today is Good Friday, and being Irish, a good ole faithful salmon recipe is called for. After all, I recently heard that salmon, haddock and cod are the most consumed fish on our shores. We are being recommended to eat 3 portions of fish each week, so why not give a different take on the humble salmon fillet.

Serves 2


2 salmon fillets
5-6 tbsp of teriyaki marinade
1 lemon
Grated thumb size of ginger
Grated clove of garlic
Diced red chili
Soy Sauce
Mangtout, and green beans, sliced
red onion, sliced
Red pepper, sliced
Noodles to serve
Chopped coriander


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Place the salmon fillets in a bowl and marinate with the teriyaki sauce and half the ginger and half the garlic
  3. Season with pepper and leave for 10-15 mins to infuse.
  4. Place in the oven for 20-25 mins until wonderfully moist and soft 
  5. Meanwhile, add the oil to a wok on a high heat and add the ginger, garlic and chili
  6. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and add the vegetables, and stir fry for 5 more mins. You want the vegetables to maintain their crunch, add soy sauce and chopped coriander.
  7. Add noodles to a saucepan of boiling water and simmer according to packet instructions
  8. To serve, place the noodles in the centre of a plate
  9. Place the stir fry vegetables on top and top it all off with the fillet of salmon
  10. Serve with a slice of lemon and more soy sauce to taste.
  11. If noodles aren'y your thing, then rice or baby potatoes go equally as well.
Tip: If you on a diet, try eating with chopsticks, this prolongs the eating ritual, meaning that you'll feel fuller before the end of the meal, rather than eating faster with a knife and fork... Well it works for me and its fun to do!

Roast Butternut Squash, lentil and Feta Salad

I have recently become obsessed with feta cheese, and I am constantly looking at ways to incorporate it into my dishes. This salad, is one such way. Very low in fat and very high in flavour, I usually make twice the amount so I can bring it to work for lunch the following day.

Serves 1 twice :)


  • 1 butternut Squash
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 100g of lentils
  • Salt & pepper
  • Chili flakes (optional)
  • Chopped coriander

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • Juice of half a lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c
  2. Chop the butternut squash into wedges. I leave the skin on, but if you prefer it without, peel the squash first.
  3. Place the squash in a mixing dish with the cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, chili flakes and olive oil. Mix to coat evenly and place in a single layer. Roast in the oven for 30 mins, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.
  4. Meanwhile cook the lentils according to the packet instructions, used rinsed tinned lentils if you can find them and warm through in a saucepan.
  5. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jug and whisk to combine, taste to see if any more of each ingredient is needed.
  6. Pour half of the dressing into the lentils and stir together
  7. To serve, place half the lentils on a plate, place half the squash on top and sprinkle with the feta cheese, and add more dressing if required.
  8. You'll need more feta for the next helping :)

Scallops, Black pudding & Toasted Hazelnut Salsa

Want to impress at a dinner party??? This dish ticks all the boxes and is actually really fast to prepare, whilst maintaining that 'wow' factor.

Serves 4


  • 12 medium scallops, removed from shell and washed, coral removed
  • 1 packet of Clonakilty black pudding (or the best black pudding available to you)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp of good olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 3-4 finely diced shallots
  • 50g of chopped hazelnuts
  • chopped fresh flat leave parsley


  1. Prepare the scallops by washing and patting dry with kitchen towel
  2. Put them in the fridge whilst you prepare the rest of the dish
  3. To make the salsa, add the finely diced shallots, garlic, oil and vinegar into a bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and add to the mix.
  5. Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper
  6. Dry fry the hazelnuts for a few minutes then add to the salsa mix. 
  7. This works well made an hour ahead for the flavours to mingle
  8. Chop the pudding into 12 even portions and fry in a little oil, leaving a minute a side
  9. Put on clean plate and keep warm
  10. To sear the scallops, put a clean frying pan on high
  11. Season the scallops and oil them individually before placing them in the red hot frying pan
  12. Lay them in a clockwise fashion, as they can overcook in seconds and this way lets you know which scallop went down first
  13. Turn the scallops after 90 seconds and leave to 90 seconds on the other side.
  14. Remove from the heat immediately to prevent further cooking
  15. To plate up, place 3 pieces of pudding on the centre of each plate, place one scallop on each piece of pudding, and then drizzle with the toasted hazelnut salsa.
  16. Sprinkle with the remainder chopped parsley, and await the gasps of appreciation from your guests!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Feedback and tips

We'll guys, I'm off on my culinary adventure to the wonderful city of Galway, which I used to live in for 18 months. I'll report back on places of yumminess. I have a few places on the list I really want to revisit, such as Cava tapas bar, and Da Robertas Italian. But I wouldn't mind trying out new places too. I'll keep ye posted. No doubt there'll also be the 3am visits to the Charcoal Grill for chips for serious soakage!!

Now as for the blog, as I had previously stated, I'm completely new to the blog world, so any feedback, words of wisdom or tips of how to make this blog a success would be most grateful.

I can't wait to get home next week so I can start photographing all my recipes thus far. 

Chat soon x

My Famous Roast Chicken

Everyone has a dish that people recognise you for, and for me its my roast chicken. Simple as it may seem, by cooking your chicken according to this recipe, I guarantee a moist flavorsome chicken every time.
Once you master the art of cooking a moist chicken, then you can experiment with other flavours, such as sticky Thai, or smoky paprika, or bacon and brandy......the list goes on!


  • 1 good quality chicken, corn fed or organic is best. The supermarket ones tend to be tasteless and full of water.
  • 1 lemon
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • good bunch of thyme
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Place the chicken in a roasting tin, making sure it has plenty of room
  3. Grate the rind of the lemon over the chicken and grate 2 cloves of garlic over also
  4. Place the lemon into the cavity of the chicken along with half of the thyme
  5. With the rest of the thyme, sprinkle the leaves over the skin of the chicken
  6. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper and pour over the olive oil.
  7. Massage all the flavours into the meat and leave to infuse for 30 mins
  8. Put 2 cloves of garlic into the cavity of the chicken.
  9. Place the chicken into the oven and cook for 45 mins
  10. After 45 mins, turn the chicken upside down and cook for another 30 mins
  11. Take the chicken out of oven again, and place it right side up and return to the oven for another 20-25 mins.
  12. To test that the chicken is fully cooked, the legs should easily twist free from the rest of the chicken, or alternatively you can put a skewer through the meatiest part of the chicken and see if the juices run clear.
  13. I'd leave the chicken rest under tin foil for 10 mins, after taking it out of the oven before carving.
  14. Beware though this recipe is seriously addictive, and I have started to cook one every Sunday evening and  having enough for salads, sandwiches and Monday night dinners then.......making this seriously economical!

This can be a great low fat dinner with a big salad provided you can resist the urge to splurge on the crispy skin, every time I swear I'll leave the skin alone, and fail miserably 9 times out of 10. Its super yummy!

Honeyed Goats Cheese Crostinis

These crostini's were the product of an accident. Whilst making them for a drinks party at home I enlisted the help of my sister, and  whilst pouring in the honey to the cheese mixture, I asked my sister to tell me when to stop (she is crostini queen), she kept saying 'loads, loads', which I interpreted as 'loads more'; not realizing what she meant was, 'thats loads, stop'!!!! It was too late to start again so we made do and the result was a creamy, sweet and salty mixture....delish!!!


  • 1 large french baguette, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 packet of goats cheese with herbs
  • 50g of chopped walnuts
  • 'loads' of runny honey (judge by taste)
  • Chopped chives/parsley to decorate


  1. Place the sliced bread on a baking sheet and put into a preheated oven of 200 degrees
  2. Turn the bread after 5 mins and toast for another 5 mins
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the cheese, nuts and honey stirring for a smooth consistency.
  4. Dollop small amounts evenly on the slices of bread and return to the oven for 5-8 mins.
  5. Place the crostinis on a serving platter and scatter with some chopped chives or parsley.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easy Quick Pitta Crisps

These pitta crisps are a great standby when friends are over for drinks, they are delish with my red pepper hummous, but go equally well with store bought salsa dips.


  • 4 pittas breads
  • Good tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Cut the pittas into fingers size pieces
  3. Combine the cumin, sea salt, and olive in a bowl and add the pitta pieces.
  4. Mix to evenly coat the pittas
  5. Scatter out on baking dish in single layer and bake for 10 minutes, keeping a eye on them don't them burn.
  6. These are easily kept fresh for 2-3 days in air tight container in fridge.

Balsamic Blueberries & Ice-cream

This is not a blog for those with a sweet tooth......Desserts and sweets are not my strongest.....I leave that to my fiancé, however, I do have a few dessert recipes that are fool proof, and this is one of them.

Serves 2


  • Punnet of Blueberries
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 4 scoops good quality vanilla ice-cream
  • 2 digestive biscuits, crushed
  1. Place berries in saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add the vinegar and the sugar.
  3. Stir to combine and allow to heat, careful not to allow to come to boil, the berries shouldn't burst.
  4. Divide the ice-cream between two bowls
  5. Pour over the berries and syrup
  6. Sprinkle over the digestive crumbs

Ultimate Steak Marinade

I can't call my blog Medium Rare without a recipe of my favourite way to cook steak. Fillet, sirloin or Rib eye are my favourite cuts, but the marinade works with all cuts.

Serves 3


  • 1 good quality beef steak of choice
  • 1 tsp of chopped fresh rosemary/thyme
  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crushed garlic clove

  • Marinate steak for 1 hour in the chopped herbs, lemon rind, salt, pepper, glug of oil and the garlic
  • Heat a griddle pan on high
  • Put the steak on the griddle pan and cook to your liking, I like 4 minutes a side
  • Leave to rest on plate covered with tin foil for min. 5  mins.
  • The accompaniments are endless, spuds, chips, salad, pasta.....rice.

Reflection from first day of Blog

I can really get into this. Currently I'm just trying to build my recipe library from memory of my favourite dishes, and from the most commented dishes by my dinner guests. I would hope in time to add photos of my dishes as I add them, and next time I make any of the below recipes I'll be sure to add the photos of them.

Low Fat Crispy Calamari & Spicy Harissa Mayo

The slow baking of the calamari makes the squid really tender, avoiding the normally rubbery texture of over cooked calamari when deep fried. It's simply a bonus that this method of cooking calamari is way lighter on calories. Meaning more to gobble up!

There is a 'messy finger' situation when prepping them, but totally worth the 'Worzel Gummidge' finger tips.

Serves 2


  • 2 Squid pockets (frozen is fine and defrost overnight in the fridge)
  • Panko Japanese Breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup of flour
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 egg
Harissa Mayo
  • low fat good quality mayo
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • salt/pepper
  • a tsp of harrisa paste (you could use ketchup if you don't like spicy flavours, as harissa is big on heat)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper, sprayed with low fat cooking spray 
  2. Cut the squid pocket into rings
  3. Combine the cumin powder, salt and pepper to the flour and put in shallow bowl
  4. break up the egg and put in another shallow bowl
  5. Put the panko breadcrumbs in yet a another bowl
  6. Dip the squid rings one at a time into the flour mixture, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs and place them in single layer on baking tray.
  7. Baked for 18-20 minutes
  8. For the mayo, combine the mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper and harrisa paste. Transfer to a clean bowl for serving.
  9. Place the rings in a bowl along side the spicy mayo and dig in. I guarantee you will be left wanting more!

Roast Red Pepper Hummous

This recipes keeps well for a few days in an air tight container and is a great accompaniment to the likes of roast chicken and lamb leftovers, as well a tasty snack to eat with crudites on the go.


  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 grated garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon low fat natural yogurt
  • juice one lemon
  • half a jar of roasted red peppers
  • 2 tbsp oil (from the jar)
  • 1 cup of fresh corriander/or basil
  • Salt and Pepper

  1. Drain the chickpeas and put in food blender.
  2. add the remaining ingredients and whizz to a smooth consistency. Simples!
The uses for this are endless:
  • Sliced batons of cucumber, carrot and celery
  • Strips of toasted pitta breads
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Garlic Bread
  • Moroccan flavoured Calarmari (recipe coming soon)

Serena's Medium Rare: Roast Mediterranean Pasta Bake

Serena's Medium Rare: Roast Mediterranean Pasta Bake: "I came up with this recipe to feed my week night pasta craving, whilst trying to minimise the carbs !! The result was a yummy, low fat pasta..."

Roast Mediterranean Pasta Bake

I came up with this recipe to feed my week night pasta craving, whilst trying to minimise the carbs !! The result was a yummy, low fat pasta bake that has breadcrumbs, cheese and pasta, all the evils of the dieting world. I also tweaked the recipe when cooking for my parents last night for more full on flavour, for those not so wasitline concious.

Serves 2


  • 100g of dried penne pasta
  • 1 aubergine, sliced roughly
  • 1 red pepper, sliced roughly
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced roughly
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 1 courgette, slice roughly
  • 50g feta cheese crumbled
  • 1 slice of wholegrain bread, blitzed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
Tomato Sauce (basic sauce recipe, can be tweaked for a plutter of dishes)

  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 diced onion
  • dried oregano
  • shredded fresh basil leaves
  • pinch sugar
  • salt & pepper
  • Chilli flakes (optional)
  • Splash of Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Place the chopped vegetables in a roasting tin and add the fresh thyme, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper and mix together until all evenly coated.
  3. Roast in the oven for 20 mins turning occassionally for vegetables to be cooked evenly.
  4. Meanwhile put the pasta in a large saucepan of generously salted boiling water and cook according to packet instructions.
  5. To make the sauce, add the chopped onion and garlic to a  saucepan along with the dried oregano and chilli flakes. Mix on low heat stirring occassionally.
  6. Add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, salt pepper, and balsamic and white wine vinegars, bring to the boil and reduce heat to simnmer for 20 mins.
  7. Add the fresh basil and roasted vegetables, stirring well to coat all vegetables with the tomato sauce.
  8. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the tomato and vegetables.
  9. Add the crumbled feta and mix well, careful to not break up the feta too much
  10. Transfer to a baking dish and top with the bread crumbs
  11. Bake in the oven for 15 mins, until a crispy coating develops on the top.
  12. Enjoy with some sneaky garlic bread and/or a crisp green salad.
Replace the feta for some mozerella for those not so anal on the calorie-count and increase the pasta amount. Also mix the breadcrumbs with some grated Parmesan cheese

Introducing Serena

As an introduction to myself, its best to let you know I'm a virgin to blogging, both reading and writing. I've just completed another piece of academic studies, swearing it would be my last and that from now on I would do something that I actually enjoy.......And my favourite things to do are always food related. If I'm watching TV its always Good Food Channel or Food Network; if I'm reading, its food magazines and cookery books; and if I'm with friends, I'm most likely cooking for them. I've been told that you know you have a food problem when you bring cookery books to bed or find yourself spending hours on food apps on phone in bed!!
It was my fiancé that suggested to me that when I finish my thesis,  I write about food. So that is exactly what I'm attempting to pull off here. I hope you find it interesting!!

I'm a professional yo-yo dieter, and have a wedding fast approaching, so you would think I'd be on a staple diet of lettuce leaves and lean meal cuisine. That might be the old Serena, but the new Serena could think of nothing more torturous! So my philosophy is to make healthy low fat meals (big on flavor, low on calories) Mondays through to Fridays and say to hell with calories Saturdays and Sundays!

I do follow the weight watchers programme, although I'm not endorsing it here, I'm always mindful of the 'evil' points in everything. This blog however I will try to minimize my WW points referrals!

Its rather embarrassing that I start writing a food blog, and won't have many recipes to post just yet as I'm off kitchen duty on holidays for next few days. That won't stop me though writing about where I'll be dining. I'm off to Galway City in the beautiful West of Ireland, where the restaurants never/rarely disappoint. So I'll be reviewing the scrummy dishes we eat along the way.
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