Cooking for John Torode, Andrew Rudd & Ross Golden-Bannon in Competition Final

Making My Fishy Dishy
Making My Fishy Dishy
Ross Golden -Bannon, Andrew Rudd, Hugh Sweeney, Emma Kenneally and John Torode
Ross Golden -Bannon, Andrew Rudd, Hugh Sweeney, Emma Kenneally and John Torode
Creamy Lemon and Caper Mixed Fish Salad
Creamy Lemon and Caper Mixed Fish Salad

Sometimes I find myself in weird and wonderful situations and wonder how I ever got there. Such was how I felt recently when I arrived at chef Andrew Rudd’s private dining venue, Medley, to serve a dish for him, John Torode (UK Masterchef judge) and Ross Golden-Bannon (editor Food&WINE Magazine) in the final of 3’s search for Ireland’s best fish dish.

3 Mobile All You Can Eat Fish Competition
3 Mobile All You Can Eat Fish Competition

I stumbled across the competition on-line and the prospect of winning a trip to the Cliff House and also getting to meet all the esteemed judges caught my attention straight away! I had made a little fishy dishy already that month that had proved quite popular and so entered that into the competition on a whim, and then immediately forgot about it. Until I got a call from 3. It went something like this:

Friendly girl from 3: “You’re in the final of our All You Can Eat Fish competition in 2 days which is going to be judged by John Torode, Andrew Rudd and Ross Golden-Bannon. Congratulations!”

Me (out loud): “”Oh great”

Me (in my head): “I am going to puke!”

Had I really thought I had a chance, I probably would have given my dish more thought and entered something a little more sophisticated. Not that I don’t love my Creamy Lemon and Caper Mixed Fish Salad, because I do. I just wasn’t sure John Torode would love it as much as I do! With my cooking I always try to make delicious dishes that are really simple to make, and don’t take much time. And I don’t fit the slaving-away-under-time-pressure, plating-up-in-a-fit-of-sweats stereotype. But alas, I was thrilled to be a finalist and excited to take part, so decided not to worry, and just do my thing.

Anyway upon entering Medley, I met my other fellow finalist, Hugh. After chatting to him for a while, I felt pretty relaxed about the whole situation. Andrew Rudd and his team were there also to help us set up, and they were so genuinely lovely that I was quite looking forward to the whole thing kicking off and starting to cook!

The only thing I was really nervous about, was that as my dish was so quick and easy to make, that it really only takes about 20 minutes to make. We had an hour head to head to cook…. It was a challenge, but I was determined to cook/make everything as slowly as humanely possible in order to try and make myself look busy. Have you ever spent 10 minutes slicing bread before? I have. And I can tell you, it’s  not easy to cut bread that slowly.

Getting Ready To Plate Up
Getting Ready To Plate Up

What helped me pass the hour however, was chats with the lovely Ketty from French Foodie in Dublin, who came along to support. Also helping was a glass or two or white wine, however this did also cement a reputation of me being a lush (which was entirely untrue) as of course I had my glass in hand every time the judges were around. It was probably the glass or two of wine in my hand that made me decide to make a few friendly jokes with John Torode when he came over to my work station. The jokes about me hoping to avoid the looks of disgust he sometimes gives on Masterchef when tasting an unpleasant dish were not however found as hilarious as I might have thought, and alas, John Torode is not my new BFF.

Here I Am Looking Pretty Scared Of John Torode
Here I Am Looking Pretty Scared Of John Torode

While I didn’t win, it was a great experience and lots and lots of fun. Hugh, the winner, has a seafood stall in the Dalkey farmer’s market where he sells fresh fish and also pre-prepared fish dishes, and I would recommend trying his stuff if you are out that direction. He also sells delicious fresh crab meat which is hard to find readily available in Dublin City.

On a side note. If you have been reading and enjoying my blog posts over the last year since I began my blog, the Irish Blog Awards are now open for nominations, and if you would consider nominating me, I would greatly appreciate it.

*All photos taken by the talented Richie Stokes on behalf of 3 Ireland.

Making My Fish Dish
Making My Fish Dish

Mint Pea and Ham Ravioli

Beautiful Mint Pea and Ham Ravioli
Beautiful Mint Pea and Ham Ravioli
Beautiful Buttery Silky Ravioli
Beautiful Buttery Silky Ravioli
Minty Pea and Ham Ravioli
Minty Pea and Ham Ravioli

I’m not going to lie, I love birthdays. Lunch out with my family, a nice gooey cake with a candle squished in and of course… presents! In my family we go to Fishy Fishy in Kinsale for every family occasion. Graduations, birthdays, promotions… each and every one of them have all been spent in Fishy Fishy. This year I couldn’t wait for my usual order, warm chilli seafood salad and hot sticky toffee pudding. Given our heatwave this month we went for a lovely walk down to the beach in Kinsale also. As my brother lives in Australia, he unfortunately misses out on these occasions and we always miss him on the day. But alas, when I came home that night I was greeted to a package from him and his wife in the hallway. I opened it up and was presented with a beautiful pasta making machine! I wanted one for ages, especially after travelling over to Italy for his wedding and indulging in lots and lots of pasta!

It was the perfect present and since getting it I have been making pasta until the cows come home! It’s surprisingly easy to make and lots of fun rolling it out in the machine. I have to say, I can’t remember being as excited about a present since getting a Pocahontas barbie for Christmas when I was 8. Sometimes no matter how far away your family are they do little things that remind you that they know you well, thanks Dave and Janne for the pasta machine 🙂

Birthday Fun in the Sun in Kinsale
Birthday Fun in the Sun in Kinsale

First up in my pasta experiments was Ravioli. I decided to use some nice traditional Irish ingredients like pea and ham and see how they turned out in the ravioli. These were delicious, especially served with a mint butter on top. You can buy little ravioli cutters to make perfectly shaped ravioli, or you can make “rustic” looking ravioli using a knife like me! Either way, this was delicious and would definitely impress guests… Plus I guarantee you will have fun making this.

Dinner is Served
Dinner is Served

Ingredients (serves 1-2):

Homemade Pasta:

1 egg

100g Italian type 00 flour

Pinch Salt

Filling:

2 cups of peas (frozen or fresh)

1-2 sprigs of mint

1 cup of cooked ham torn into pieces

Sea salt

Pepper

Mint Butter

2 sprigs mint

Zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp butter

1. To make pasta, put flour and pinch of salt on a work surface and crack an egg in the middle, work together with a fork until a rough dough is formed. Then knead for a few minutes. Cover in cling film (to prevent drying out) and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. Fill a large pot with boiling water and place over a medium flame. Take out the pasta and dust with a little flour and pat out into a disc. Then pop into the pasta machine and start rolling out. Start at the widest setting and work your way down to the thinnest. If you don’t work your way down and go straight through the thinnest roller first, you pasta will likely have holes in it. You may want to portion your ball of dough out before rolling.

2. Pop your peas in the water for about 5 minutes until cooked and warmed through. Drain and blitz with a sprig of mint (remove the stalk) and a generous pinch of salt. Taste and if necessary add a little more salt.

3. Cut squares out of the pasta sheets and place a small teaspoon of the pea puree and a little torn ham on top (reserve some ham for serving). Then wet around the edges with a little water and press another square of pasta on top. Make sure you don’t get any trapped bubbles of air or the ravioli might burst. I used a fork to press down around the edges both to ensure it’s sealed an to make it look pretty.

4. Finely chop two sprigs of mint (remove the stalks) and mix into a little dish of about 3 tablespoons of butter with the zest of a lemon.

5. Pop all the prepared ravioli in a large pot of boiling water on a medium heat and cook for a bout two minutes. Serve on a plate and stir the mint butter through, garnish with a little ham, mint leaves and some seasoning if necessary.

Mix Your Dough
Mix Your Dough
Pasta Dough
Pasta Dough
Set Up Your Assembly Line
Set Up Your Assembly Line
Fill Ravioli With Pea Puree and Ham
Fill Ravioli With Pea Puree and Ham
Prepared Ravioli
Prepared Ravioli
Ta Da... Beautiful Mint Pea and Ham Ravioli
Ta Da… Beautiful Mint Pea and Ham Ravioli

Blackberry and Basil Homemade Bagels

My Delicious Blackberry and Basil Homemade Bagels
My Delicious Blackberry and Basil Homemade Bagels
The Perfect Bagel Brunch
The Perfect Bagel Brunch
My Blackberry and Basil Bagel
My Blackberry and Basil Bagel
My Brunch of Homemade Poppyseed Bagels
My Brunch of Homemade Poppyseed Bagels

Every now and then I get a notion to make something I’ve never made before. I think I must have had bagels on my mind after my trip to New York last month, bagels with creamy cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes and capers for breakfast was a particular treat on my last morning in NYC. However, back in Ireland, you just can’t get really good bagels in many places, which is probably why I was never too bothered by them before. The only ones available in most supermarkets are a bready excuse for a bagel that would make most New Yorkers shudder. However my recent trip to New York wooed me and since then I have had them on the brain.

With the weather being so amazing at the moment (to non-Irish readers, this means actually being able to sunbath and swim in July… a rare occurrence) I decided to make an outdoors brunch for my parents the last time I was home. There is nothing nicer than taking the time to have a nice breakfast, especially when it can be enjoyed outside in the sun. Coffee and Tea, fresh bagels, fruit and the Sunday newspaper al fresco… It’s hard not to relax in such a situation.

I make bread a lot at home, so I figured that bagels couldn’t be much harder to make. They actually were pretty easy to make, and a lot of fun too, the process of boiling them into a spongy ring before baking them was pretty cool. My only advice would be to double the quantities below as they make seven, and they will all be eaten straight away if your family is like mine. It’s worth making a second batch, slicing and freezing them for a quick morning breakfast as if you go to the effort of making these, you should really get more than one morning out of them. These were my favourite bake in months, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. I thought blackberry and basil with thick cream cheese would be an unusual but delicious topping, and it really worked out great. If you have any other unusual bagel toppings though, I would love to hear them as I plan on making them again soon!

Bagels Hot From The Oven
Bagels Hot From The Oven

Ingredients (The standard bagel recipe used is a Rachel Allen recipe):

450g/ 1lb strong white bread flour (used a French T65 flour)

250ml warm water

1 x 7g fast acting yeast sachet

2 level tsp salt

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 tbsp treacle or molasses (I didn’t have either so used honey… worked perfectly)

1 beaten egg

1/2 cup poppy seeds

1 tub full-fat cream cheese

2 punnets of blackberries

1 bunch of basil leaves

  1. Sift together the flour, salt and mix in the yeast in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir the honey and oil into the warm water. Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mixture and mix together with your hands. When it has come together, pop it out onto a clean floured surface and knead for 10 to 15 minutes. (This dough is tough and stiff, so if you’re used to make your own breads you may worry that the dough is quite tense/tough… but this is totally normal.)
  3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, toss it around in it to coat lightly in oil, cover with cling film and let to prove for 1 to 3 hours. I only had an hour as I was under time pressure, but it tasted fantastic. However the usual rule is the longer you prove the better it tastes. Also be careful not to oil the bowl and bread too much as it will be very difficult to shape afterwards.
  4. After proving knock back the bread and portion into 7 equally sized piece. Shape into a ball, stick you finger through the centre creating a ring. Set aside to prove for 20 more minutes.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the 3 tbsp treacle or honey and then let it come down to a simmer. Pop in two or three bagels at a time (depending on size) for 2 minutes and then flip them onto their other sides and boil for two more minutes. Then take them out and let them drain on a wire rack. Continue this step for all your bagels.
  6. Coat the top of the bagel in egg wash and sprinkle generously with poppy seeds. Place all the bagels onto a well oiled tin, spaced far apart (I used two trays for my 7 bagels). Put into an oven at 220C for 15 minutes, then take them out and flip them over to cook the bases, I egg washed and sprinkled my bases with poppy seeds again, and then pop back into the oven for 10 more minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving.
  7. Slice in half and smear the bagel with cream cheese, press in some black berries and basil leaves and serve immediately while still warm.
Bagels Boiling Away Nicely
Bagels Boiling Away Nicely
Boiled Bagel
Boiled Bagel
Seeded and Ready For The Oven
Seeded and Ready For The Oven
Homemade Poppyseed Bagel Hot From Oven
Homemade Poppyseed Bagel Hot From Oven
My Homemade Bagels
My Homemade Bagels
Delicious Flavour Combination of Blackberry and Basil
Delicious Flavour Combination of Blackberry and Basil
Brunch is Served
Brunch is Served

Apricot Madeleines

My Freshly Baked Apricot Madeleines
My Freshly Baked Apricot Madeleines
Delicious Apricot Madeleines
Delicious Apricot Madeleines
Apricot Madeleines
Apricot Madeleines
Perfect Tea Time Treat
Perfect Tea Time Treat

I just booked my summer holidays last week and I literally cannot wait to go. I’m heading to the Cote d’Azur for a week and am already beyond excited about all the places I will visit, the sun I will soak, the beaches I will swim from and of course I’m drooling at the thought of all the patisseries  I plan on visiting when I’m there. Unfortunately I’m not heading away until the very last week of August so in the spirit of all things French and wonderful, I decided to make  a batch Madeleines last weekend. If I’m honest I’ve never even had a Madeleine before, but I appreciate the way the French can take a buttery sponge cake and make it sound so much prettier and look so much more delicate than we do at home!

With a glut of apricots bursting from all the supermarket shelves at the moment, I decided to make a nice fruity, summery Apricot Madeleine. I have had Rachel Khoo’s cookbook for a while (I want her cool Parisian life), and all the recipes are great so I decided to loosely follow her Madeleine recipe although instead of the milk and honey she uses, I used fresh orange juice and cream which worked out surprisingly well.

With the house to myself, a new copy of Vogue, a pot of tea and a freshly baked batch of Apricot Madeleines at my disposal, the long wait until my holidays in France was made all the more bearable for a morning!

Delicious Juicy Apricots
Delicious Juicy Apricots

Ingredients (makes about 24-30):

3 eggs

130g sugar

200g plain/cream flour

10g baking powder

Zest of 1 orange

75ml freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tbsp cream (you can use milk)

200g butter melted and cooled

5-6 apricots finely sliced

1. Beat the eggs with the sugar until pale and frothy (around doubled in size).

2. In a seperate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and orange zest.

3. Mix the orange juice, milk and melted cooled butter in another bowl and add to the frothy eggs in two batches.

4. Then fold in the flour gently and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight (I left mine overnight, it was easier for me to prepare them the night before and pop them in the oven the next morning).

5. Preheat the oven to 190C. If you’re Madeleine tray isn’t non stick then butter and flour it before use. Put a teaspoon of batter into each Madeleine shell (be careful not to overload the moulds as otherwise the batter will rise outside of it in the oven, and you won’t achieve that delicate Madeleine shape… I learnt this the hard way after my first batch.) Press one or two slices of apricot into the batter of each Madeleine.

6. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn off the oven for a minute then bake for 5 more minutes at 160C. (I don’t really know if this makes any difference compared to just baking them at 190C for 10 minutes.. but Rachel’s recipe said to do this so I blindly followed and it worked out really well, but as I haven’t made them before, I’m not sure if there is any benefit to turning the oven off for a minute).

7. Pop the Madeleine out of the tray onto a wire rack to cool, then dust with icing sugar to serve. If you like me just have one tray, give it a wipe down and repeat the process until all your batter is used up.

Finely Slice Your Apricots
Finely Slice Your Apricots
Be Careful Not To Overfill The Madeleine Tray
Be Careful Not To Overfill The Madeleine Tray
Leave Madeleines Cool On Wire Rack
Leave Madeleines Cool On Wire Rack
My Freshly Baked Madeleines
My Freshly Baked Madeleines
Deciding to Make Tea Time Special
Deciding to Make Tea Time Special

Hot Stuff Fish Tacos

Delicious Fish Tacos
Delicious Fish Tacos
Always Happy When I Have Food In My Hands
Always Happy When I Have Food In My Hands
Fish Taco Time
Fish Taco Time

The first time I ever had fish tacos was a few years back in Dillingers in Ranelagh, and I have been obsessed ever since. If you haven’t had them before and are a bit reluctant to accept the idea of fish and tacos being a pleasing combination, then hear me out! These are the nicest tacos in the world, there is nothing better than a spicy roasted tomato salsa, zesty guacamole, sour cream and delicious meaty white fish. Of course if you hate fish, you can replace the fish with any meat, the sauces will still work perfectly. I took the recipe for the salsas from the new Gwyneth Palthrow cookbook, It’s All Good. I was reluctant at first with this cook book as healthy eating cookbooks are usually packed with pretty boring, tasteless recipes. However, so far I have been pleasantly surprised, everything I have cooked from it has been bursting with flavour, and her Mexican recipes are amazing and really authentic.

I’m not going to lie though, this is a time consuming meal to make. You would want to be making it on a Saturday and set aside an hour and a half to get all the elements done. And really a good taco is brimming with tonnes of salsa, guacamole, beans and all the trimmings so it’s worth taking the time. I used dried beans and soaked them the night before, but if you want to cut down on some time, just buy tinned beans. Also these sauces are mild so if you love a lot of heat add in an extra chilli or too, or serve with a jar of pickled jalapeños.

While dabbling with my new found love for Mexican food, I decided I wanted to make corn tortillas from scratch. Let’s face it, while Ol Del Paso wheat tortillas are readily available in all supermarkets, they taste of nothing. These are crazy easy to make, as the flour contains no gluten, you don’t have to wait for the dough to prove and you don’t have to worry about over working it. The hardest thing about making these is finding the Masa Harina flour to make the corn tortillas, you can’t substitute maize or corn flour (as I learnt to my detriment earlier in the week when I essentially made polenta pancakes). I got a 500g bag in Fallon and Byrne for €6 which was expensive, but the on-line shop My Mexico Shop sells 2kg bags for €10 and it’s so worth it. Once you start making them you won’t stop! Any good speciality shops or delis in your locality might have it too. The good news is not only are these delicious and flavoursome, they are really healthy so you don’t have to feel one bit bad about it! Super easy and quick to make, try making these and you won’t look back.

This is a great meal to make some weekend when you have a bunch of flavour. Bursting with flavour and colour, there is no way your guests won’t be impressed!

Serves 6:

Corn Torillas:

Corn Tortilla
Corn Tortilla
Create Your Masa Dough
Create Your Masa Dough
Roll Out Your Corn Tortillas
Roll Out Your Corn Tortillas

450g Masa Harina Flour

600ml water

1. It’s important to note that the quantity of water to flour can vary depending on the flour, so best to follow your packet instructions.

2. Mix the water and flour together until combined and you have a dough that has come together nicely, but isn’t sticky or dry. You can add more water or flour until you get to this point. Let it sit aside for 10 minutes.

3. Portion the dough into 12 equally sized balls  and between two baking sheets roll it out until you get your tortilla. You want it nice and thin, but be careful if it gets too thin it can break apart.

4. Fry on a dry pan on a medium- high heat for about a minute on each side. You can put it in a warm covered dish to keep warm while cooking the other elements. Serve straight away.

Salsa:

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Blitz This Up To Make Your Salsa
Blitz This Up To Make Your Salsa

Ingredients:

1 punnet cherry vine tomatoes (or 5-6 large tomatoes)

1 large onion finely chopped

2 roasted red peppers (optional)

1 jalapeño chilli

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1 large handful  coriander

Juice of 1 lime

Salt

1. Roast the onions and tomatoes under a grill for about 10 minutes, until soft.

2. Blitz all ingredients together to form salsa.

Guacamole:

Zingy Guacamole
Zingy Guacamole

Ingredients:

2 large avocados

2 limes juiced

1 handful coriander roughly chopped

1. Peel avocados, mash up and stir in the lime juice and coriander.

Beans:

Mexican Beans
Mexican Beans

500g dried Pinto Beans/ Black Beans

2 cloves garlic

1 handful coriander

1 pinch salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

1. You need to soak these beans the night before. The day of cooking, drain the soaking water, add fresh water and bring to the boil with the garlic, coriander and salt, then simmer for about 1 to 1 1/2 hour… until soft.

2. If using tinned beans, just rinse, add water and other ingredients and simmer until soft and warmed through.

3. Drain and to serve stir in a tsp smoked paprika and 1 tbsp olive oil.

Sauce For Fish:

The Sauce To Add To Your Fish
The Sauce To Add To Your Fish
Blitz This To Make Your Fish Taco Sauce
Blitz This To Make Your Fish Taco Sauce

Ingredients:

3-4 Roasted Peppers

1/2 brown onion chopped

1-2 Jalapeño peppers

2 garlic cloves

Juice of 1 lime

1 handful coriander

1. Blend all ingredients together until you get a nice purée.

2. Add to cooked fish (see below)

Fish:

Fish Taco Filling
Fish Taco Filling

Ingredients:

6 fillets of hake or other robust, mild white fish.

Olive Oil

Salt

1. Skin the hake and cut into cubes. (Your fishmonger can do this for you).

2. Lightly salt the fish and fry in a pan of all until cooked through and flaky.

3. Stir in the fish salsa to the pan and serve straight away.