Thursday, May 19, 2016

Best Burgers 2016

This time of the year we want simple easy to prepare and tasty food…  Burgers are such a versatile food and can be unbelievably tasty- economical and are great crowd pleasers.

I’ve been experimenting over the past few weeks with lamb, pork and turkey mince and some very tasty bean burgers.

Also I reduced the size of the burger to about 3 bite sizes – really initially for ease of cooking and as an added bonus you can taste a few of these tasty morsels..

Some tips

Buy good quality meat
Season with care 
Fry off a tiny piece and taste and re season if need be
Silicon Gloves are a handy tool for mixing and shaping burgers 
Heat the oven tray 

Pitta breads, Wraps, Whole meal buns, Sourdough bread

Avocado, Salsa, Pickles, Pepper Sauce, Garlic Mayo, 

Seasonings, fresh herbs, sea salts, sweet chilli, kaffir lime leaves, 

Method is same with all burgers

Combine all of the ingredients with seasoning in a large bowl 

Seasonings, fresh herbs, sea salt, cracked black pepper, Dijon mustard, cooked onions, carmelised onions,  raw eggs, seasoned breadcrumbs, 
Asiany Seasonings.. Sweet chilli, kaffir lime leaves, sriracha sauce, sesame oil..

and then shape  into your desired size – place on a baking tray and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours or if you're in a hurry the freezer for 30 min.  (this helps the burgers keep their shape and not fall apart while cooking) 

Remove from the freezer to a heated bbq or preheated pan with a little oil cook on each side for 1 minute and then transfer to the oven @200 and cook for 10 to 15 mins
Turning once – check to see they are cooked through.

Build your perfect burger

Choose the base and then build with sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cooked egg, cheeses, cheeses, 

Simple ideas...  

Lamb mince  – fresh thyme – 1 egg – salt & pepper
Lamb Mince – natural yoghurt – fresh mint – garlic – salt & pepper 
Turkey mince – sweet chilli sauce 2 tablespoons – Juice of 1 lime  - Kaffir lime leaf 
Asiany Beef – Sesame oil, Sriracha sauce, pepper
Pork Mince – Grated Apple – mixture of fresh herbs – half a small glass of apple juice

Tasty Bean Burgers w lime yoghurt & salsa 

400g can of kidney, borlotti, chick peas, butter beans
1 cup of mashed cooked veggies, carrots, sweet potato 
1 clove of garlic chopped finely
Pinch ground cumin, coriander, paprika
4 tbls of sesame seeds for coating

1 cup of fresh salsa
1 cup of natural yoghurt
Juice of 2  limes
Coriander bunch chopped

Crush the beans with a potato masher add the veggie mix and combine really well with the garlic and spices.

Divide the mixture into 6, shape into burgers, coat in sesame seeds, and chill in the fridge for 3 hours or freezer for 40 mins.  To cook place on a non stick baking tray and grill for 5 mins each side until golden and crisp. 

Can be frozen uncooked and then cooked from frozen just allow 45 mins to bake from frozen ..

Make the lime yoghurt by combining the yoghurt with the lime and chilli and a few grinds of black pepper.

Serve on wholemeal buns w avocado, salsa and lime yoghurt...

Delicious with sweet potato wedges for a complete meal!

East Coast Best Burgers….

Twist of Thai Chicken Burgers
Serves 4

500g Chicken/ Turkey Mince
1 tbls of red curry paste
Dash of Thai Fish Sauce
1 egg
2 tbls of warm water

1. Mix the curry paste with the warm water
2. Whisk up the egg 
3. Pop the mince into a bowl and combine the paste, egg & Thai Fish sauce until well mixed.
4. Shape mixture into burgers
5. Pop in the fridge for a couple of hours  or overnight 
6.  Cook on a hot bbq for 5/6 mins each side check to ensure they are cooked through.

Twist of Italian Beef Burgers
Serves 4
500g Beef Mince
1 egg
1 handful of sunblushed tomatoes chopped
1 red onion carmelized
1 handful of fresh basil leaves shredded 
Salt & Fresh Ground black pepper

1. Pop the mince into a bowl and combine all of the ingredients.
2. Shape mixture into burgers
3. Pop in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight
4.  Cook on a hot bbq for 5/6 mins each side check to ensure they are cooked through.

Greek Lamb Burgers
Serves 4

500g Lamb mince
Feta Cheese 8 small cubes
1 handful of fresh oregano
1 grilled red pepper chopped into small pieces

1. Pop the mince into a bowl and combine all of the ingredients.
2. Shape mixture into burgers
3. Pop in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight
4.  Cook on a hot bbq for 5/6 mins each side check to ensure they are cooked through.

Corn on the cob

Is another great food on the bbq,  simply brush a little of the sweet chilli marinade over the corn and pop on the bbq for 40 min. Test to see if they are tender enough.
Brush with a little olive oil and when cooked serve little butter and seasalt!


Snip the woody bits at the end, brush with olive oil, pop on the BBQ for a couple of mins each side.  
Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.... 

Roast Peppers  & Courgettes

3 mixed coloured peppers cut in half deseeded and quartered.  2 Courgettes - Slice the courgettes down the centre and again into quarters.

Drizzle with olive oil and pop on the bbq until charred and tender which takes about 15 mins turning frequently to ensure you don’t char them completely.

When cooked chop again into large chunks and combine with a little olive oil and seasalt, if you have some fresh basil the flavour also works wonderfully...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Planning a Party....

Birthday’s, Christenings, Communions, Confirmations, Parties, Weddings etc..........

Holding parties at home is a wonderful relaxed way to catch up with family and friends.  

Different parties require different budgets for example if you are having a party to catch up with friends over the summer you can have a very simple party with a few nibbles – enlist some help from your good friends and tell everyone to take a drink with them thus cutting down on the costs significantly.

You could host a picnic party in a public park and get everyone to bring a dish and a drink this way no one individual bears the cost you  just organise it...

Breakfast/Brunches are a great way to catch up with friends in an informal party kind of way.... anything goes for breakfast/brunch from eggs cooked every possibly way, smoked salmon bagels, warm croissants, big jugs of juices, warm pastries, fresh berries with French toast its all very easy and the great thing about Breakfast/brunch is it doesn’t have to last all day ....  

Drinks/ Cocktail parties are a good way to entertain a large number of people and even groups that do not know each other.  Don’t worry you do not have to provide cocktails drinks – simply a selection of whatever drinks you prefer to serve but generally people serve wine, beer and water lots of water for the drivers is always important. 

Be mindful when you invite people over for drinks that you specify the times it starts and ends or you will have a full on party on your hands, which is ok of course if thats what you intended.  However if your intention is to have people over in the early evening after work or over the weekend just for a few hours specify this for example 

 ‘Drop into our house on Sat 18th May from 4 to 6 for drinks and nibbles’ –

 or another example...

 ‘Drinks & Bites to celebrate John’s 30th Birthday from 9 till late... 

‘Coffee & Cake to celebrate the Arrival of Baby Jack from 3 to 5 @ our house....

If  you are celebrating something special, such as a christening, communions, confirmations, wedding, anniversary or birthday ....

Here’s  a few tried and tested tips that work...

  • Get a notebook for all lists, menus etc.
  • Write up the guest list in your party notebook and keep it safe as you will use it to record who is attending. 
  • Be realistic about how many people you can fit comfortably in your house and take into account how many small kids/teenagers & adults will you be inviting, small kids need room to play and put their stuff and teenagers ideally need a room where they can chill together for a while, also bear in mind where bathrooms and cloak room facilities are located. 
  • Send the invites... via text, email, post whatever suits you... but always put a RSVP on for at least 10 days previous. Text and email are great as they allow you to follow up the stragglers very quickly and with little hassle.
  • We are all on budgets so plan the party as far in advance as possible this gives you plenty of time to spot the bargain
  • Write up your budget and do not compromise when you start looking at menus etc.

  • The simplest menus are the cheapest to prepare, the more choice you have the more food and ingredients you need to purchase.
  • A cold buffet is the easiest to prepare as it can be totally prepared in advance  place on platters & bowls ready to serve without any heating at the last minute.  
  • Think about the people you are inviting to your party, do they are hearty appetites, are they fussy eaters, have they any specific dietary, medical or religious requirements.  Always have vegetarian.
  • Choose your menu...keep it simple, pick what I call crowd pleaser dishes, that suit everyone (not just what you like) 
  • When you have chosen the menu - write up tthe shopping list with ingredients.
  • Calculate the quantities you will need to purchase  be exact multiply from the recipe how much you will need for the number of people you will be catering for and remember to over cater a little.
  • Bulk up main courses with side dishes like green salad, and baskets of bread.
  • Most of all enjoy the process, keep it simple and the way you want it then you can be sure you will not get stress out!

Simple Cold Buffet menu

Potato Salad – Roast baby potatoes & Sweet potato
Quinoa Salad or Orzo Pasta
Beet Salad w toasty almonds
Red cabbage & White Coleslaw 
Tenderstem broccoli, green beans, sugar snaps & chilli oil 

Caesar Salad w grilled chicken 
Selection of continental meats & cheeses
Sweet chilli & lime salmon fillets
Baked Ham or loin of bacon 
Honey Lemon Chicken Fillets
Classic Quiches
Baskets of fresh bread 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sizzling Stir Fries

Stir Frying originated in China and is basically a cooking technique in which ingredients are fried in small amounts of very hot oil while being stirred in a wok.  

Many Asian countries include Stir frying in their cuisines ....  from Thailand to Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia 

So ..... What Equipment do you need?

A sharp knife as ingredients should be cut into uniform pieces..  
A Wok or a non stick pan 
A  spatula wooden or heat resistant 

Which Oil should I use?

Stir frying involves cooking food at high temperatures therefore its important to choose an oil that has what they call a high smoke point – its the point that the oil starts to break down..   

Oils which have a high smoke point include Peanut Oil which Chinese cooks generally use but you can also use..

Canola oil/Rape seed oil  
Grape seed oil (made from the seeds of grapes after the wines is pressed)  

You can also use Pure Olive oil – (not extra virgin) as Pure olive oil is more refined it can take the high heat for stir – frying.

How do I prepare?

Its essential to have all the ingredients prepared ahead of cooking time.  

Chop vegetables very finely no big chunks as they take too long to cook..

Chop onion, garlic, chilli very finely set aside – Grate ginger ...
Use this as your base flavour stir fried in a little peanut oil..

Then add – meat or fish  & veggies 

Broccoli, sugar snaps & carrots can be chopped finely and then steamed for 3 mins..

Slice chicken beef into uniform strips 

Prawns are a great addition to a stir fry – fresh or frozen work great the trick is not to over cook them..

Great basics to have in your cupboard for stir frying!

Soy sauce – made from fermented Soya beans its one of Asia’s most important condiments and is also a base ingredient in many foods.

Tamari Sauce – a form or soy sauce which does not Always contain wheat – some say its superior to ordinary soy and adds a more complex taste..

Oyster sauce – made from dried oysters – use like soy sauce, tasty and extremely versatile

Hoisin Sauce – used in Chinese & Vietnamese cooking  its a delicious aromatic sauce – great in stir-fries or as a dipping sauce. Typical recipes include soy beans, red chillies, garlic vinegar five spice.

Sweet chilli sauce – a delicious sweet yet slightly spicy sauce use mixed with rice wine vinegar & lime juice for a salad dressing or in stir fries with a tablespoon of water.

Siracha Sauce  is a type of hot sauce or chilli sauce has become very popular over the past 2 years .. comes from Eastern Thailand and is made from a paste of chilli peppers, garlic, sugar, distilled vinegar – if you like hot sauces this one if for you its fab in stir fries especially my favourite...

Stir fried prawns, broccoli, peas, mushrooms, fresh coriander extra garlic & lots of siracha..  very quick dinner served with noodles..  

Five spice powders – a blend of cinnamon, star anise, clove fennel & Szechwan pepper sprinkle over chicken & stir fry 

U Cant beat Fresh herbs  - Coriander, Basil, Garlic, Chillies, Ginger  - Keep herbs wrapped in the bottom drawer of the fridge – 

Garlic, Chillies, Ginger, Lemongrass last for weeks also in the bottom drawer of the fridge.

Water Chesnuts
Bamboo Shoots

QUICK  --Honey Soy Chicken Stir Fry

2 cooked chicken breasts shredded 
1 pepper finely sliced
Half head of broccoli small florets
1 clove of garlic
Half a white onion finely sliced
2 tbs of soy sauce
1 lemon juiced
1 tbs of honey

Heat oil in wok – pop in the onion and pepper – stir fry add the garlic 3 mins later – add the chicken – steam broccoli for 2 mins – pop into wok with honey, lemon and soy sauce..

Heat through transfer to a dish sprinkle with sesame seeds 

Teriyaki Chicken stir fry

1 chicken fillet per person cubed
1 pepper sliced (bite size pieces)
2 scallions sliced diagonally
1 teasp of grated ginger
1 teasp of peanut oil per person
1 teasp of honey per person
1 tbs teriyaki sauce per person
1 teasp of sesame seeds per person

 Heat the oil in a wok for about 30 secs… Pop the chicken onto the wok and  stir fry until sealed on all sides takes about 2 mins.   Now add the peppers and cook for about 3 mins. until slightly softened. 
Combine the honey & teriyaki sauce in a little bowl pour over the mixture, let it bubble up on the wok and toss with the scallions & ginger.  Just before serving heat the sesame seeds in a non stick pan, to toast them and sprinkle over the chicken when plated..   Serve with either rice or noodles.   

Stir fried Rice Noodles with Broccoli, Prawns 
& fresh Coriander 

1 bundle of noodles per person …
Measurement about 75g per person
1 clove of garlic crushed
1cm (1/2 inch) fresh ginger grated
1 red chilli sliced thinly
2 teasp peanut oil
2 handfuls of broccoli florets
4 tablespoons of stock or water
Small handful of  prawns per person (if frozen thawed and  patted dry)
1 handful of coriander chopped


1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
1 tbls soy sauce
1 lime juices & zested
1 teaspof sesame oil

Cook the noodles according to the pack instruction.  
Mix all the sauce ingredients into a small bowl or cup.
Heat the oil in a a wok  and stir fry the garlic, ginger & chilli for about 1 min… toss in the broccoli and stock and cook & cover for another minute.  
 Now pop in the drained noodles and prawns & coriander. Cook until heated through & serve in bowls topped with sprigs of coriander.  

Thai Veggie Stir Fry

This is a great dish as its so fresh and tasty, it can either be a main course in itself (serves 2) or as part of a selection of dishes.. either served with rice or noodles….

10 baby corn cut in half thru the centre
10 asparagus spears trimmed & cut in half
1 small onion sliced thinly
4 handfuls of beansprouts
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger grated
1 red chilli finely chopped
1 handfulof torn basil
2 tbls of boiling water
1 teasp of soft brown sugar
1 tbls of light soy sauce

Heat the oil a wok or non stick frying pan and stir fry the corn, onion, chilli & ginger for a couple of minutes.. then add the asparagus and continue for another minute before adding the beansprouts.  

Combine the boiling water with the sugar & soy and add to the wok, throw in the basil leaves & serve immediately.

Why not cook some noodles & drizzle with sesame oil … 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Day just around the corner…..

The Festive Season is well & truly upon us….and with Christmas day just around the corner…

At this time of the year with so much going on its really important to plan this will take the stress out Cooking this Christmas.    So sit down, make yourself a nice cuppa… 

Firstly, write down a couple of basic menus for over the festive season from the menus write your  shopping list  this should only take about 15 mins but could save you hours and a lot of money --  you should also find you could do it all nearly in one trip out to the shops rather than ten!! 

Happy Planning & hope you have lots of fun this festive season!!!!

Do log on next week as we have a fantastic Christmas Day Menu planned!!

Magical Christmas 

Some households are extremely busy on Christmas morning, families barely get time to eat never mind relax...  

So how about making breakfast/brunch the day before and then all you do is pop into the oven on Christmas morning and 25 mins later its ready..

French Toast with mixed berry sauce

Bread soaked in a simple mixture of milk, sugar,  eggs – pop into a baking dish and leave in the fridge overnight - 

Next morning..Preheat oven to 200 degrees. . Bake until French toast is set in centre about 30 mins and serve with mixed berries or sliced bananas.

Snacks & Nibbles

Crunchy Christmas Crostini
Ciabatta bread, sliced, drizzled with olive oil and baked for 10 mins until golden and toasty..  cool on a wire rack – when cool top with crumbled stilton, drizzle of cranberry sauce or a slice of quince paste..

No fuss but sophisticated starter ideas...

Melon with Parma ham and cranberries..

A Fab Prawn Cocktail

I know this sounds so traditional, its all in the presentation… so I serve the Prawn Cocktail in martini glasses which I picked up in a bargain shop...  
4 prawns pp and 1 slice of smoked salmon pp
1 Lime cut into thin slices
1 Lemon 
1 Avocado
½ Iceberg lettuce

Marie Rose Sauce
Mayo, ketchup, lime juices splash of Worcestershire sauce combine
Slice the Smoked Salmon & avocado into bite sized pieces
Shred the iceberg lettuce – juice the lemon 

To Assemble.. place some shredded lettuce into each glass… squeeze a little lemon over each one
Pop in some prawns, smoked salmon & avocado
Drizzle with a little bit more lemon
Gently spoon over a little of the Marie Rose Sauce into each glass.. place the remainder into a bowl and leave on the centre of the table.

Flick a little cayenne pepper over the top of each glass for presentation…

Place a slice of lime on the side of each glass

Mixed salad leaves with crumbled Stilton cheese, Pinenuts & Semi Sundried Toms..– 
serve it with crusty bread

Combine the olive oil with the lemon & balsamic …  Can be made 2 days in advance & left in the fridge in a closed container..

Super simple veggies

Foil Veggie Parcels are a great way of saving space in your oven, cut down on the washing up and are vv tasty too!!

Simply tear off a piece of foil large enough to hold your veggies place the in the centre of the foil drizzle with olive oil, lemon, balsamic, red wine vinegar, fresh herbs, garlic .... lots of ideas ..

Carrots, parsnips sliced with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh thyme and a drizzle of honey.

Sliced peppers, Aubergines, Courgettes with 
Garlic,  black pepper red wine vinegar splash and a drizzle of olive oil.

Brussels sprouts coarsely chopped toss in a little melted butter place them in a big heap in the middle of your foil – season with salt and pepper cook until aldente ..  circa 20 mins 

Shredded Brussels sprouts w butter & seasoning
Shredded Brussels sprouts w chorizo, pancetta or bacon ..

Roast Brussel sprouts with pecans – slice brussel sprouts, pop into a baking tray toss with olive oil and pecan nuts and roast for 20 mins or until tender..

Enjoy…. It’s simple food with a touch of class!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Donellis Make Ahead Christmas

Mulled Wine

Pop 1 bottle of red wine, 3 cups of water, 3 cups of orange juice, 2 cinnamon sticks a few cloves into a pot bring up to just below boiling & keep at that temperature for 10 minutes- strain and pop into clean bottles – keep in the fridge for 3 weeks.

Limoncella is a traditional lemon liqueur, originating from the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  It’s actually a vv simple recipe and uses few ingredients. Lemons, Vodka, Sugar & water...  great as an après dinner drink or pop into a fancy bottle and give as a gift!

Cranberry Relish – brilliant for use with meats or even cheeses it also makes great gift to give family or friends – stores for the next 4 weeks fantastically – 4 cups of  cranberries, juice of fresh orange, 3 tablespoons of port, sugar to taste  bring to the boil in a pot, cover and simmer for 5 mins.. pop into sterilised jars..

Super simple chocolate truffles  

What You Need:

1 cup of Cream Cheese room temperature, 1/3 cup of chocolate chips + more -  Optional 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. 

Combine cream cheese & melted chocolate chips, drop spoonfuls onto baking paper, pop into the fridge to chill, dust with chocolate powder ..

Fish Cakes 

Great for a festive starter or lunch..
Combine 3 cups of cooked salmon, with 2 cups of mashed potatoes, half a cup of sprint onion chopped, juice of 1 lemon + zest.  Form patties, dip in egg & breadcrumbs and freeze until ready to cook... defrost in the fridge before cooking

Fish cakes - delicious served with pickled red onion and cucumber

Finely sliced red onion & cucumber.  

Mix 1 cup of water with 1/3 cup of white wine vinegar & 1/3 of a cup of sugar stir to combine until the sugar is dissolved – pour over the onion & cucumber pop into jars – will keep for 2 weeks.  Great with any seafood and Another Great Pressie..  

Apple & Walnut Marmalade – delicious with cheeses

Wonderful Italian Chocolate Christmas Cake 
If you’re not into Traditional Christmas Cake why not try this..
-A rich chocolate cake with the festive flavours of cinnamon, orange and brandy..

Cranberry port and orange relish

450g Cranberries 
Juice and zest of 3 oranges
75g caster sugar
3tbs port
  1. Heat the cranberries, orange juice, port, ginger and sugar in a saucepan stir until sugar has dissolved.  
  2. Bring to the boil and stir again, cover and simmer for 5 mins.  
  3. Pop into a clean sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks..

Make addition batches and tie jars with festive ribbons to make great gifts..

Apple & Walnut Marmalade… 

Delicious with cheeses.. 

450g red eating apples
60g unsalted butter
juice and zest of unwaxed lemon
75g soft brown sugar
125g walnuts chopped roughly
2 tbs of brandy
  1. Cut apples into quarters.. don’t peel…  take out core and cut quarters up into little pieces… 
  2. Melt butter and add lemon, sugar and apples, Simmer for about 15 mins stirring occasionally, until apples are cooked but not falling apart.  
  3. Turn up the heat to cook off the excess liquid. 
  4.  When the mixture is cool, add the walnuts.
  5. Transfer to a sterilized jar and store in the fridge for about 1 week.

Super Simple Chocolate Truffles

What You Need:
  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese at room temperature 
  • 1/3 cup Chocolate Chips
  • + more Chocolate Chips for dipping
Place the cream cheese in a bowl.
Melt the 1/3 cup chocolate chips in another bowl. You can do this on the stove top or in the microwave. Stir to make sure there are no large pieces.
Pour the melted chocolate into the cream cheese. 

Whip the melted chocolate into the cream cheese. Using a small spoon, drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a tray that is covered in greaseproof paper. Place the tray in the fridge and let the truffles chill for a few hours until they are hardened.
Once the truffles are hardened, melt more chocolate chips and dunk the balls until they are coated or dust in chocolate powder. 

Yum, these Simple Chocolate Truffles are such a tasty treat! Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.  You could also whip in some peanut butter for chocolate peanut butter truffles!

Wonderful Italian Chocolate Christmas Cake

A rich chocolate cake with the festive flavours of cinnamon, orange & brandy

225g dark chocolate
25g unsalted butter melted and cooled
2 tablespoon v fine breadcrumbs
125g whole blanched hazelnuts
125g walnut pieces
5 drops of vanilla extract
65ml brandy
1 teasp cinnamon 
200g golden caster sugar
5 large eggs separated
1 large orange, scrubbed under warm water and the peel without pith 
remove with a potato peeler and very finely chop

8 in loose bottomed tin
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 350 or 180

  1. Begin by buttering the cake tin generously, then sprinkle the inside with breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.  
  2. Pop the hazelnut and walnut pieces in a food processor, then break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the nuts.  Pulse the machine on and off until the mixture is of a grainy consistency, but not finely ground.  
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the vanilla extract, brandy cinnamon and melted butter and sugar mixing thoroughly.  
  4. Now gradually add the egg yolks, mixing in very well and finally add the orange peel.
  5. Next whisk the egg whites to the stiff peak stage but not so thick that they become dry.  Gently fold them into the chocolate mixture with a large metal spoon a few tablespoons at a time.  
  6. When all the eggs have been folded in spoon the mixture into the tin and bake in the oven of the centre shelf for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 mins.  
  7. Cover the cake loosely with baking parchment for the last 10 mins to prevent it becoming too brown.   
  8. Remove – leave in the tin for a few mins then pop out to cool on a wire rack.
  9. You can put some chocolate icing on this cake however I think it looks just fab to decorate with a sprig of holly or some little red berries & a dusting of icing sugar.
  10. This cake freezes perfectly and keeps in the fridge wrapped in parchment & foil for about 2 weeks.. if you can resist it….


Limoncella is a traditional lemon liqueur, originating from the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  Thanks to an old Italian Friend of mine, many years ago I managed to persuade her to part with her Uncle’s Limoncella Liqueur recipe its actually a vv simple recipe and uses few ingredients. Lemons, Vodka, Sugar

Keep Limoncella in the freezer, its fab as an after dinner drink in a little shot glass. Or pop a nip in sparkling wine with a strawberry!!!

You just need a little time and patience ... the end result is worth it...

So here’s what you need...

8 unwaxed lemons
500ml of vodka
2 cups of caster sugar
2 cups of water

Soak the lemons in cold water for 1 hour, remove and dry well.
Get yourself a very sharp knife and very finely peel the lemons, ensuring no pith is attached.

Pop the peel into a large jar and cover with 350ml of vodka.  Cover and allow to stand in a cool dark place for 3 days.

3 days later.....

Pop the sugar into a pot with 2 cups of water, combine well and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 mins.  Allow to cool completely.  
Add the syrup to the vodka/peel mixture and combine really well.
Allow to stand again in a cool dark place for 2 days.

2 days later.....

Add the remaining vodka, 150ml to the jar.  Allow to stand again in a cool dark place for 2 days.

2 days later.....

Filter the mixture through muslin and use a funnel to pop the liquid into a bottle.  
I buy some of those flip top bottles and it looks great in them...
Leave to Stand in a cool dry place for 1 week before popping into the freezer.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is the single biggest holiday in America, where families from all religions and nationalities come together to celebrate.  Thanksgiving has been celebrated for a long time in America however it was not until 1941, that congress declared Thanksgiving as a national holiday, to be celebrated the 4th Thursday in November.

Turkey is the traditional dish for the Thanksgiving feast. In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations. There is no official reason or declaration for the use of turkey. They just happened to be the most plentiful meat available at the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, starting the tradition.

Side dishes are what make a Thanksgiving Dinner so why not try some of these to even go with a traditional roast dinner.. 

New York Style Wacky Sweet Potatoes 

Peel and slice 5 sweet potatoes, c & mash with a spoon of butter, 3 tablespoons of orange juice and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Pop into a gratin dish and top with mini marshmallows bake for 15 mins until marshmallows are puffed up and golden brown .....  

Roasty Sweet Potatoes

Cut 6 sweet potatoes into large cubes, pop into a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, cumin salt & black pepper.  Bake at 200 for 30 mins.

Sweet potato casserole topped with pecans

Peel and slice 5 sweet potatoes, place in a gratin dish, cover with veggie stock, top with grated parmesan cheese, bake at 200 for 40 mins remove from the oven scatter the chopped pecans over the top bake again for 10 mins.

Sweet Potato Gratin

Peel and slice 5 sweet potatoes in a gratin dish, cover with heated cream with garlic, season with salt and pepper cover with a mixture of 1 cup of  breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
Bake for 45 mins or until tender at 200 degrees.

Caramelised Brussels Sprouts with pistachios

2 cups of Brussels Sprouts sliced – steam for about 8 mins.
Melt some butter in a non stick pan – pop in half a red onion sauté and a dash of red wine vinegar cook until onions are nice and brown, tip in the Brussels with a tablespoon of brown sugar and another dash of vinegar, sautee until heated through – pop into a bowl and garnish with a handful of pistachios.


An American veggie dish... with onions, garlic peppers, courgette, corn, peas and butter beans in a tasty tomato sauce...

In a non stick pan heat the olive oil cook the onion until translucent, then add the garlic cook for 1 min.
Now pop in the peppers & courgettes, cook for about 5 mins and  then add the corn, peas, beans & pasata. 
Continue to cook for about 10 mins until the veggies are tender.  
Season with salt and cracked black pepper

Sesame Green Beans

Heat a little oil in a non stick pan, add sesame seeds stir in 2 cups of  green beans, sauté for 2 mins, pour over quarter of a cup of veggie stock cook for 10 mins until stock evaporates and beans are tender.....

Maple Roast Turkey Breast w Riesling Gravy

1 Turkey Breast 
3 tbls of butter
3 tbls of pure maple syrup
1 cup of Riesling wine
1 cup of stock

Oven @ 200  gas 6

  1. Season the turkey breast with salt, pepper and rub with 1 tbls of butter.
  2. Pop the Turkey into a baking pan and place in the oven to cook
  3. About an hour before the end of cooking gently melt the maple syrup and butter pour mixture over the turkey breast and continue to cook.
  4. Remove the turkey from the oven and place on an carving board to rest, (as it better to carve) covered completely with a clean cloth
  5. Reserve the pan juices to make the Riesling wine gravy

Riesling Wine Gravy

Drain excess fat from the juices of the pan, transfer to a small pot.  Pop the wine, salt & pepper into the pot and bring to the boil.  Leave to simmer and transfer to a sauce boat or if you wish to thicken it with a teasp of gravy granules.

Sweet Pumpkin, Nutmeg & Pecan Pie 

1kg of pumpkin or butternut squash
100ml milk
100ml cream
3 eggs
200g brown sugar
500g short crust pastry
1 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp caster sugar
200g soft brown sugar
Grating of Nutmeg
1 pinch of cinnamon
1 handful of chopped pecans

You need a 23cm pie dish for this recipe.

  • Peel & Chop the pumpkin bite sized chunks.  Pop the pumpkin into a pot with the milk, sugar, cinnamon and a grating of nutmeg, cover and cook over a gentle heat for about 45 mins to 1 hour, ensuring the pumpkin is soft.
  • Drain and leave to cool in a sieve over a bowl for a few mins.
  •  Meanwhile butter the pie dish with a little butter.  Roll out the pastry & line the pie dish with 2/3 of the shortcrust pastry .  
  • Pop the pumpkin into a bowl and mash well, combine with cream, 2 eggs and the cornflour.  
  • Pop the pumpkin mixture into the pastry case and scatter the pecan nuts over the top.  Roll out the remainder of the pastry into a circle to fit the pie dish.  
  • Use a fork to press the sides down.  Pop the remaining egg into a cup, whisk with a fork until frothy, and brush the top and sides of the pie case with the egg mixture.  
  • Use a fork to make an air hole in the centre.  Bake in a preheated oven @ 170 for about 45 mins or until golden brown.   

Serve with freshly whipped cream…….

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Spooky Feast!

Create a spooky feast for friends large and small and keep everyone entertained...

Halloween Punch
500ml of Cranberry juice
1.5 litres of lemonade -  Adults sparkling wine 
3 limes juiced 
1 large handful of gummy worms
Mix the lemonade and cranberry in a large bowl pop in a few handfuls of ice stir well and drape the gummy works over the edge of the bowl..
Serves at least 10

Witches Cauldron 
1 round crusty loaf of bread
1 egg beaten
1 cup of poppy seeds
Olive oil 
Slice top off the loaf, then scoop out the soft bread from the middle of the base.
Brush the outside of the loaf with beaten egg and roll the crust and lid of the “Cauldron” with poppy seeds – pop onto a baking tray and bake for 10 mins at 180C...
You can then fill your cauldron with dips of your choice ...
For example Guacamole 
Avocados x 2 – chilli optional – 1 lime juice  -coriander
Combine the avocados, chilli, lime juice and coriander.. Pop into the Cauldron...

Creepy Tortillas – 
8 Tortillas – Halloween cookie cutters 
Spray tortillas with cooking spray – cut out shapes – lay on a baking tray cook at 180 until slightly browned – cool on a wire tray – when cool store in an airtight container..  

Green Curry
Green curry paste 2 tablespoons -  1 can of coconut milk –
4 chicken breasts – 1 courgette – 1 cup of frozen peas – 1 handful of torn basil.
Vegetarian Green Curry 
Butternut squash cubes 2 cups, 1 courgette, frozen peas & a handful of torn basil...
Heat the curry paste on a gentle heat – combine with the coconut milk, bring up to a simmer – add the chicken & courgette bring back 
to a simmer for 15 mins – add the peas & torn basil..
Serve with steamed rice..

White Chocolate Ghosts…..
1 large bar of white chocolate 
4 medium-large, ripe bananas
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Handful dark chocolate drops
In a small bowl, gently melt the white chocolate either in the microwave – in short bursts on high or over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water). Set aside for a moment while you get the bananas ready.
Peel the bananas, cut in half, and push a lolly stick into the middle of each piece. Spread the coconut out in a shallow bowl. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment, and make sure there is room for the tray in the freezer.
Using a pastry brush, coat a banana half in chocolate, letting excess drip away. Sprinkle with plenty of the coconut until coated, then set it on the prepared sheet. Now add two chocolate drops eyes and a one for a mouth..
Freeze the lollies for at least 4 hrs.

Chocolate Dipped Apples
6 Irish eating apples
3 handfuls of  chocolate drops

Simply melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, then spike the apples with wooden skewers or lollipop sticks and twirl them around the chocolate.. then dip in the sprinkles.. Just lovely..