I used to hate tomato soup. I mean really loath it. I think it was a result of having the tinned stuff forced on me in a friends house when I was younger… Shudder. So sickly sweet and salty at the same time- it turned my stomach. I’ve thankfully grown to love the stuff though after trying so many beautiful homemade ones over the last few years.
I was browsing the Temple Bar market last week and couldn’t but notice the most incredible juicy tomatoes of all different shapes and colours. I’ve probably mentioned the McNally Organic Farm stall before but wow, their produce is incredible. I bought as many as I could carry and starting thinking of all kinds of tomato based foods I could. The weather was pretty rotten so I decided the first thing I would make would be tomato soup. No joke this is absolutely incredible. Roasting the tomatoes brings out their rich natural sweetness, and the garlic and basil give it a big kick of flavour. Make this immediately and it will be on your recipe rotation all Autumn and Winter!
1.5kg tomatoes (if you can’t get fancy ones like above at least get vine tomatoes from your supermarket- the flavour is much stronger)
2 celery sticks
6 garlic cloves
1 large bunch fresh basil
Salt & Pepper
Chop up your tomatoes and sprinkle with salt. Throw into an oven preheated to 180C for 30 – 40 minutes, check them every 5 minutes and stir.
About half way through you will notice that all the juice will have run out of the tomatoes. Pour this juice out into a jug for later (this will be your stock) and continue roasting your tomatoes. Once the juice is removed they can wilt down and sweeten.
Peel your garlic and finely chop it. Finely dice your onion and celery and grate your carrot.
In a big soup pot fry your garlic on medium heat in a generous glug of olive oil. After a minute add the onion, watch the heat and make sure they don’t burn. Then after a few minutes add in the carrot and celery. Stir it around and let it cook for about 5 minutes until softened.
Add in the roasted tomatoes and pour the hot tomato juice over the top. Chop up your basil and throw it in.
With a hand blender blitz the soup until totally smooth, at this point it will be really thick like passata so just add enough boiling water to reach your desired consistency. I like mine a little thick so I didn’t add too much water in. You don’t need stock cubes, if your tomatoes are nice then just use the water as the stock cubes will distract from the beautiful natural sweetness of the roast tomatoes.
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!
I have recently been on holidays in Italy (yet again), drawn back by the lure of bread, cheese, pizza, pasta and gelato. I just love holidays in Italy, being able to chill out on a beautiful beach with a book, take breaks for ice-cream (it’s holidays okay…), dip into a seaside restaurant for fresh fish for lunch with a bottle of local wine, more sunbathing, then pre-dinner drinks followed by a big plate of fresh pasta heaped with seafood, butter, herbs and prawns, and more wine, and bread… Lots of bread. Okay I’m getting a little distracted and hungry again just thinking about it.
One of my favourite things to eat there is a Caprese salad with fresh, local buffalo mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and basil mopped up with crusty bread. While I was in Puglia I had some of the most incredible olive breads and decided that I had to make one as soon as I got back. So off to the market I trotted and filled up a bag of salty, black olives. While my bread looks brown it’s actually white, all the kneading of the olives into the dough coloured it. You could always add the olives into the bread after kneading for a dramatic contrast.
This bread is made using fast-action yeast and so is very quick and easy to make. Why not make it this weekend and enjoy it with some fresh mozzarella and a good bottle of red?
500g white bread flour
1 large handful black olives chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch salt
1 sachet of fast action yeast
300ml warm water
1 heaped teaspoon of brown sugar
In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt and oil. Give it a quick stir and then stir in the yeast.
Now stir in the water and stir for a minute until all ingredients are combined. You can either add in the olives now, or after kneading so that the bread is less brown in colour.
Knead the bread on a clean, floured surface for at least 10 minutes, or if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook you could throw it in that for half the time.
Shape the dough and coat it with a little olive oil. Pop it into an oiled bowl and cover in cling film. Leave it in a warm place until it has double in size which can take between 1.5 – 2 hours.
When the dough has risen bake in an oven, preheated to 220c for 35-40 minutes. A trick here is to throw a few ice cubs or half a glass of water into the oven 5 minutes before putting the bread in, the steam will help create a nice crust on the bread. I like to slash a blade or sharp knife across the top of the bread too before putting it in the oven to allow the steam to escape.
The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Let the bread cool on a wire rack and enjoy with some butter, cheese or hummus!
Ok so I have no idea what most supermodels eat (probably a packet of cigarettes and a diet coke), but I still live in hope that eating dishes like this will bring me one step closer becoming Miranda Kerr.
Maybe not. If not I won’t be too upset though as this taste so delicious, it’s one of those salads that doesn’t really feel like a salad. I like it best as a side with some fish, meat or quiche. It’s a perfect side for a BBQ. It’s full of all the good stuff especially quinoa which is a really high protein grain.
With the weather looking mighty for the rest of the summer (I hope I didn’t jinx that), this is definitely one worth banging out.
1 mug dried quinoa grains
1/2 chicken or veg stock cube
2 peeled garlic cloves
1 large handful mangetout
1 bunch spring onions
3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
Zest of 1 lemon
Rinse the quinoa really well in a sieve under water. This is important as the coating of quinoa has a soapy residue so if you don’t rinse it well it will taste yuck. Tip the rinsed grains into a pot of boiling water with the chicken stock cube and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and let simmer away for about 15-20 minute- until cooked through. It needs a bit, not to be mushy.
Chop the scallions and fry in a little oil the set aside. Slice the mangtout and pop in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and pop into a bowl of icy water. Strain and set aside.
When the quinoa is cooked through, strain it and pop into a serving bowl. Add in the spring onions, mangetout, 2 tbsp of the almonds, most of the pomegranate seeds and most of the lemon zest.
Stir it all together and to serve sprinkle with some more of the almonds, lemon zest and pomegranate.
Serve immediately but this will keep well for a few days in the fridge.
To make up for my temporary insanity in posting a vegan recipe last week, I’m making up for it this week in the most un-vegan recipe I could muster. A triple whammy of animal products- cheese, egg and bacon!
Don’t get me wrong I have no problem eating vegan food every now and then, and those vegan chickpea burgers were yum. But try and separate me from my beloved cheese, eggs and bacon for more than a few days? We’ll have issues.
I was home last weekend in West Cork and stocked up on some of my favourite Cork produce: Gubbeen smoked streaky bacon, and Toonsbridge buffalo Mozzarella. I combined these with some local organic eggs and was pleasantly surprised at how much cheese I could stomach first thing in the morning! You could always leave out the egg and it would be equally nice but please don’t skimp on the garlic butter. This is so delicious and indulgent, it would make the perfect weekend brunch for friends.
1 handful fresh mozzarella (about 1 large ball- I used Toonsbridge)
4 tbsp soft butter
2 crushed garlic cloves
First off you may as well make your garlic butter, just mix together your butter and crushed garlic, add as little or much as you like. My breakfast guest was a wuss so just had plain butter.
Grill you bacon pieces on a medium high heat for a few minutes on each size- you want them well cooked but not crispy. If they’re very oily after cooking dab them a little with some kitchen paper- don’t dry them out though.
Fry your eggs in a little oil while the bacon is cooking, do them to your taste runny or set.
Toast your bread and smear with some garlic butter. Tear up the mozzarella and lay out on the bread and pop under the grill for a few minutes until melted and gooey. Then top with your bacon and egg and serve!
Chicken dippers have a bad rep, and for a fair reason. They usually come in a cardboard box, they’re processed, unhealthy and the actual meat content is pretty questionable. I don’t eat much chicken at all, I certainly never order it when I’m out in a restaurant, and rarely buy it for dinners during the week. It’s all a result of watching a pretty nasty documentary on chicken farming a few years ago that gave me the heebie jeebies. However, I feel like I should start eating it more and reintroduce it to my diet (if even only to help ween me off my pulled pork addiction which definitely isn’t healthy either). I always buy chicken that is free-range, and sometimes organic if I’m feeling flash, which helps me forget aforementioned documentary… Shudder.
The other thing that puts me off chicken is that it’s usually so boring and bland. So my mission for the next month is to make more chicken dishes and shake it up a little to shrug of my weird preconceptions.
This chicken dish is really yummy and so tasty. As far as chicken dippers go they’re about as good as they’re going to get, you could always use gluten free flour or breadcrumbs if you’re coeliac. The honey mustard sauce gives a nice kick as well. This is a fuss free recipe that feels a little naughty, but is still kind of nice. Give this a shot and let me know what you think!
Ingredients (serves 2)
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp natural or Greek yoghurt
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard (optional)
Assemble your dipping line in three separate bowls. In the first bowl mix in the flour and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. In the second bowl beat and egg. In the third bowl mix the breadcrumbs and lemon zest.
Slice the chicken into strips/fingers and dip them in the flour, the egg and then the breadcrumbs.
Fry on a medium high heat in about 2 tbsp of oil (I used coconut but whatever you have is fine). They will take about 5 minutes on each side, maybe a little more depending on thickness. There should be no pinkness in the middle whatsoever when they’re cooked.
Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and serve with the dippers.