Porridge gets a bad rep. Despite being one of our most traditional and much loved Irish breakfasts, many people perceive it as boring. I guess most breakfasts that don’t come with a side of pulled pork are considered boring these days. Porridge is one of my favourite things to eat (I couldn’t imagine a world without oats in it, seriously) and if I’m having an incredibly lazy day, I’ll sometimes even make a bowl for dinner.
Porridge is great because not only is it really nutritious, cheap and quick to make, it also is open to endless flavour varieties. You can add in pretty much any fruit, nut, seed, spice, milk or sweetener. While I usually have mine with some berries I decided to go a bit decadent today with a version that tastes like your favourite banana bread with lots of gooey banana and caramel flavours. Read on to see where you have been going wrong all these years…
Ingredients (serves 1)
1/2 cup oats
1 cup water
1/2 tsp Cinnamon (or a full tsp if you are a cinnamon monster like me)
Mix your oats, water and cinnamon in a pot- you can add a pinch of salt but I never find it makes a difference. If you can soak your oats overnight, all the better. It just makes the porridge more creamy. This is definitely advisable if you use jumbo oats.
Put the pot under a medium- high heat and stir vigourously. Non stop until it cooks. Many people walk away from the pot and let their oats boil in water which ends up in truly manky porridge- please don’t do that.
While the oats are cooking slice your banana into a frying pan on a medium heat with a tsp butter and a tsp brown sugar. Cook for a few minutes, flipping over halfway through until the bananas are golden.
When your oats are almost done (it should take between 5-8 minutes) and in a splash of milk and stir again until combined. Pour your porridge into your bowl.
Sprinkle your porridge with brown sugar (this is the traditional Irish way) and let the sugar melt into a nice caramel on top. Do this before you add anything else so it can melt, if you add the milk first it won’t melt. Then place your bananas on top, then add another splash of milk (or cream if you have it), a sprinkle of almonds and maybe even a drizzle of honey if you’re feeling decadent and in need of a sugar hit.
Enjoy in the knowledge that you have cooked and are eating porridge like a boss.
Every now and then you just need a little weekend indulgence. Porridge or poached eggs on toast sometimes just doesn’t cut the mustard and you need a little “yippee I made it to through the week” food.
In the spirit of all things OTT and way too decadent for breakfast, I decided to make this Chocolate and Coconut Stuffed French Toast. This is really simple to make and if you have someone over for brunch, they’ll think you’re a real whizz in the kitchen! You don’t even have to make the chocolate sauce, you can use Nutella… Simple!
Ingredients (Serves 1):
2 slices good quality white bread (I used cranberry white spelt)
Chocolate (I used dark but you could just use nutella instead of making the sauce if you have some handy)
Break 2 squares of chocolate and place in a heavy bottomed pan with 2 tbsp of coconut milk. Let it melt over a really low heat, taking it off the heat every now and then so it doesn’t curdle. Mix together until totally melted into a sauce.
Whisk together your egg, 2 tbsp coconut milk and some cinnamon in a bowl. When mixed through place on a big plate.
Slather both slices of bread with coconut yoghurt, then drizzle the chocolate sauce over the coconut yoghurt. Squish the two slices of bread together and place it on the eggy plate.
Let the stuffed sandwich sit on the plate for a minute absorbing all the egg and then turn on to the other side to do the same.
Place a little coconut oil onto a hot frying pan and when melted place the eggy bread on top. Cook for about two minutes on each side, make sure the pan isn’t too hot.
When cooked slice in half and serve while marvelling how beautifully the coconut and chocolate oozes out the sides.
Shepard’s Pie is one of my all-time favourite recipes. We used to have it all the time for dinner when I was younger, and there was nothing better than coming in the door from school and into a warm kitchen to a piping hot casserole dish of Shepard’s Pie. You don’t see people make it as much anymore as people are moving away from traditional food in favour of exotic foreign dishes, but I think that’s their loss. This is one of the best, comforting and wholesome dishes in existence.
The beans may sounds really weird if you haven’t already tried them. But trust me, adding baked beans to a Shepard’s Pie will be the best decision you ever make and you will never look back. My mum used always add a tin of beans to her Shepard’s Pie when we were small kids, but as we got older we wouldn’t let her make it without the layer of beans. As well as tasting delicious, they add more protein and fibre to your meal too.
7-8 large potatoes (local)
2 tbsp butter
1 tin canelli beans
1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp honey
1lb mince lamb
2 sticks celery
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp tomato paste
Boil the potatoes for about 15 to 20 minute, until cooked through and soft. Peel and mash with the butter and a little salt and pepper until all is soft and well combined. Don’t over mash or it will lose it’s fluffiness!
For the beans… Crush the garlic and fry for a minute in some oil in a saucepan, add the tomatoes, beans and honey and let simmer away for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
For the meat.. Grate the carrots and celery. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Fry them all together in some olive oil for about 10-15 minutes until totally soft. Add the lamb mince and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it’s browned all over. Pop your stock cube into a mug of boiling water, when dissolved stir into your meat mix. Add in the tomato paste too. Season with salt and pepper.
Get your casserole dish out, line with a smear of butter. Layer in the cooked lamb mix, then layer in the beans then top with the mashed potato. Make a wave pattern with a fork on the potato, top with a little more butter. Cook in an oven preheated to 180C for about 40 minutes.
Serve with buttery peas and eat straight away!
This freezes perfectly, I often make a big dish of it and then portion up the pieces so I can have individual meals quickly during the week. You could add in herbs too, in fact I had parsley but forgot to add it in! Not necessary though.
When it comes to the simple pleasures in life, there are few things I love more than buttered bread hot from the oven, cake and chocolate. Thankfully this recipe is an amalgamation of all of those things! I’m a total bread fiend (hence working for free in a bakery last year) and have already waxed lyrical about my love of Spotted Dog when I made it earlier this year here. These Spotted Puppies are mini versions, like little scones, of the popular and traditional Irish Spotted Dog.
The Spotted Dog is basically a slightly sweet and fruity soda bread. I decided to pimp these puppies out with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Sorry to be boastful, but they were incredible. Make sure to eat them hot from the oven slathered in salted butter… Delicious!
450g plain/cream flour
1 tsp bread soda (bicarb of soda)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
100g dark choc chips (I just chopped a bar into little chunks)
75g chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 220C. Sieve the flour into a bowl (I actually never sieve it because I am lazy, but it helps get more air into the mix), stir in the salt, sugar, walnuts, chocolate and cranberries. Make a well in the centre of the mix.
Your wet mix (buttermilk and egg) should make 400ml, to be safe pop your egg into the measuring jug and then add the buttermilk until you hit the 400ml mark. Give it a quick whisk.
Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and start bringing it together by using your hand (stiff like a claw) to bring the dry mix into the centre. Keep doing this until just combined. The most important thing with this, or any soda bread, is not to overmix it or it will become tough.
When just combined divide the mix into six portions and pop it onto an oiled tray. Put into the oven immediately, again if you leave it out before putting it in the oven it will loose it’s lightness.
After the first 5 minutes you can turn the heat down to 200C, then let them bake for another 15 minutes.
When cooked slice open and butter with generous helpings of salted butter immediately! No need for jam. it will just mask the flavours of your beautiful fillings.
This pasta looks the business doesn’t it? Well it tastes amazing too. In actual fact, it’s super quick and easy to make, and cheap as chips too. All you have to do really is cook the pasta and stir in everything else.
As this is a simple dish you’re relying on the lemon, basil, parmesan and black pepper to give it a bold kick of flavour, so be generous with each of them. Purple basil tastes the exact same as normal basil, so don’t despair if you can’t get your hands on it, this will turn out the exact same with the regular stuff. Whip this up for a fancy looking but super simple supper after work during the week to put a pep in your step!
Ingredients (serves 2):
2tbsp Grated Parmesan
Zest of 2 Lemons
Basil (purple if you can find it!)
Salt & Pepper
Boil the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. I take mine off a minute or two early so that it’s al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water.
Roughly chop your basil and set aside. I use a good bit, about a handful.
Stir in the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Have a taste and adjust with more salt, pepper or cheese if needed. You may need to loosen it out with a little of the cooking water or even some olive oil for a silky finish.
Top with more grated parmesan and black pepper and an artistic sprig of basil! Enjoy.
This is a really, really easy salad. It’s just a ‘throw-everything-together’ kind of a recipe. Just a bit of chopping and massaging… Yes massaging. To be honest though, most nights during the week I tend to eat really easy dishes like this as it’s hard to find time to cook something complicated from scratch after a long day at work.
I bought most of the ingredients at the Temple Bar Farmer’s Market last weekend. The beautiful black kale and fresh beetroot are from McNally’s organic farm, the delicious apple balsamic vinegar is from Llewellyns Orchard, the Irish buffalo mozzarella is from Toonsbridge Dairy (if you follow this blog you’ll see I use it ALL the time, that’s because it is the ambrosia of the Gods). I also got some macadamia nut oil from my local health food shop, The Hopsack (which is a real gem by the way), to massage the kale. Kale has a gorgeous texture and there’s no need to cook it if you massage it with a little oil. This softens it a little and you’ll visibly notice the colour become more vivid , I think it vastly improves the texture and flavour. You can use whatever oil you like but macadamia is packed with healthy fats and had a beautiful, subtle, nutty taste that’s perfect for salad dressings.
All in all this is a very easy, healthy and delicious salad, so get to it and whip it up!
1 bunch kale
1 large raw beetroot (okay I suppose you can use the cooked prepackaged ones if you must)
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
Macadamia oil (or other mild tasting oil like rapeseed)
Rinse the kale. Remove the stalks/ribs of the kale (you can’t eat these, or at least without difficulty) and slice the kale into fine ribbons. In a bowl massage a tablespoon of oil into the kale leaves for about a minute.
Wash the beetroot well and remove the roots. Slice finely on a mandolin and mix into your bowl of kale.
Tear up your mozzarella and scatter on top. Drizzle with balsamic oil.
Roughly chop your pistachios and scatter on top of the salad.
I’ve had quite the month of indulgent food, and I really need to step away from the bread and the chocolate and eat healthily for a while to restore a bit of balance. But the problem is I just love good food, I can’t resist something comforting and delicious, and a miserable cucumber salad ain’t my kind of jam.
I had a total craving for quiche last weekend, I just wanted something rich and comforting with a crumbly, biscuity crust. I decided to put my mind to it and make the most health freaky quiche that still tastes incredible… Sounds too good to be true, I know.
This quiche is filling and rich, yet surprisingly light (I know that makes no sense). Packed with green goodness but with enough sharp feta it packs a nice punch. The crust was the experiment and thankfully worked out great, you could definitely use it for sweet tarts too. This is the perfect summer dish if you’re trying to be healthy, but like me are a bit of a glutton at heart.
1/2 mug oats
1/2 mug ground almond
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 head broccoli (or a packet of tender stem broccoli)
1 bunch spring onions
1/2 courgette (optional, I just had some leftover in the fridge so chucked it in)
1 packet feta cheese
Salt & Pepper
Blend the oats with a hand blender into a powder. Then throw in a mixing bowl with the ground almond, melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt, mix together with a spoon until it comes together. It will still be totally crumbly so don’t worry. Add in a few tablespoons of water and mix together more, this should help it come together so it’s combined.
This pastry is not like a normal pastry so don’t worry that it will keep falling apart. Roll out between two sheets of cling film and then squish it into a quiche tin. I say squish because it will for sure fall apart, but you just need to squish the bits in and patch it up. Throw it into the fridge for 30 mins and it will harden up nicely (at this point you will feel much more confident that it won’t be a total disaster)
Chop the head of broccoli into little florets and slice the courgette and spring onions finely. Throw them all into a large pot with a little coconut oil, salt, pepper and a splash of water with the lid on, stir occasionally. You basically just want to soften these for 10 minutes, the steam from the water should keep them moist and turn them a vibrant green, they shouldn’t catch on the base of the pan. When just slightly soft take out of the pan and drain any excess water if there is any.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle half your cheese on the base of the chilled quiche, then scatter your veggies and top up with the egg, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Throw into an oven preheated to 180C for 40 minutes.
You can eat it hot from the oven with salad, or cold the next day for your lunch. Enjoy!