Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Soup

Delicious Roasted Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Soup
Delicious Roasted Butternut Squash and Coconut Milk Soup
The Perfect Comforting Lunch
The Perfect Comforting Lunch
Flavoursome Spiced Soup
Flavoursome Spiced Soup

I don’t mean to brag, but this butternut squash soup is probably the best soup I’ve ever made! I decided to make it as squashes are popping up in the supermarkets a lot now as Autumn creeps up on us, and in this cold, wet weather a comforting bowl of hot soup is just the ticket. This soup is creamy and silky thanks to the coconut milk and roasted squash base and doesn’t use any stock, instead relying on chilli, garlic, ginger, cumin and a slight dash of vinegar to make it zing with mouth watering flavour.

I made a nice big batch of this at the weekend and brought some to work in a thermos for lunch, and froze individual portions to defrost over the following weeks for a quick and easy light supper. I also roasted a little extra squash and kept it aside to throw into pastas, risottos and omelettes during the week for really quick and easy after-work dinners.

This is really easy to make and I highly recommend adding this delicious, creamy butternut squash soup to your list. Not only does it tick all the boxes, but the beautiful flavours are a welcome change from the usual vegetable soup.

Delicious Hearty Soup
Delicious Hearty Soup

Ingredients:

2 medium sized Butternut Squashes peeled and chopped into equal sized pieces (seeds removed and discarded)

1 yellow onion diced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 red chilli deseeded and chopped

1 thumb-length piece of ginger peeled and finely chopped

1 heaped tablespoon ground cumin

1 can coconut milk

2 cups water

1 tbsp vingear

1 tsp salt

Olive oil

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C and lay your chopped squash into a baking tray. Coat with oil and a sprinkle of salt and pop in the oven, turning occasionally until cooked through (about 30 minutes).
  2. In a large pot heat a little oil and tip in the garlic, onion, chilli, ginger and cumin. Stir for about 5 minutes until soft, be careful not to let them brown.
  3. Add in the coconut milk, water, vinegar and squash and turn up the heat to a medium-high heat and let cook away for about 15 minutes.
  4. Take the pot off the flame and with a hand blender blend for about 5 minutes on high until totally smooth. Be careful to avoid any splashes of hot soup that may spit out.
  5. Taste the soup and if needed season with a little more salt, cumin or vinegar.
  6. Serve with a little garnish of cracked black pepper, ground cumin or reserved coconut milk.
Beautiful Roasted Butternut Squash
Beautiful Roasted Butternut Squash
The Flavour Punch Of The Soup
The Flavour Punch Of The Soup
After 15 Minutes Cooking It's Ready To Be Liquidised
After 15 Minutes Cooking It’s Ready To Be Liquidised
Delicious Squash and Coconut Soup
Delicious Squash and Coconut Soup

Irish Brown Dillisk Scones

Delicious Brown Dillisk Soda Scones
Delicious Brown Dillisk Soda Scones
Beautiful Brown Dillisk Soda Scones
Beautiful Brown Dillisk Soda Scones
The Perfect Lunch
The Perfect Lunch

This recipe came about as a result of a craving for brown soda scones and a bag of dried dillisk (dried Irish seasweed) in my press waiting to be used up! I had totally forgot about it until I recently read that John and Sally McKenna had released a book about cooking with seaweed (or sea vegetables as the more posh folk would say), and it reminded me that I had a bag to us up, so in it went to my last batch of brown soda scones. Seaweed of all different varieties adorn the Irish shores, and yet Irish people don’t eat it nearly as much as you would think despite it being such a nutritous food. However, seaweeds are becoming very fashionable again and I’m starting to sea a whole number of varieties on menus again. Seaweed has been used as a beauty treatment in Ireland for centuries, and many Irish cosmetic companies use it as their superstar ingredient, Voya being by far the best Irish luxury cosmetic company, harnessing seaweeds hydrating properties. So here’s to using what we have in plenty and finding fun and unusual ways of cooking and eating it.

I also have to mention Macroom Oats and Flours as I used them in this recipe, and I use their grains all the time. The Macroom mill is based in Cork and is run by a man called Donal Creedon. I haven’t met him, but he’s known in Cork as being a true artisan who has managed to make oats and flour a luxury artisan product. His oats are stoneground and lightly toasted and make the most delicious, luxurious porridge in the world. His wholemeal flour is ground in the same way and gives the most lovely slightly nutty texture to breads. I recommend seeking the products out, they’re available in most good independent delis and health shops around the country, but often times if they’re not you can just enquire at your local speciality store and they’re usually quite open to ordering unavailable products in.

These scones are savoury using the dillisk which has a lovely very slightly salty taste and beautiful texture, and a little parmasan cheese to give the scones a subtle kick. When they are fresh out of the oven the taste of the dilisk is stronger (the heat and moisture rehydrates the dried dillisk), however when cooled the taste is extremely subtle. However, these would be perfectly delicious without the dillisk or cheese, and the recipe can be used in exactly the same way and would be gorgeous topped with a little jam and cream.

Delicious Irish Ingredients
Delicious Irish Ingredients
Dried Dillisk
Dried Dillisk

Ingredients (makes 6-8):

225g self raising flour

180g coarse wholemeal flour

20g oats (if you don’t have any oats you can just use 20g wholemeal flour)

1 tsp bread soda

1 pinch salt

75g butter room temperature

2 tbsp grated Parmasen cheese (or any other cheese)

2 handfuls of dillisk (or other dried seaweed) chopped

300ml buttermilk

2 eggs

2 tbsp mixed seeds to scatter on top (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C and mix the flours, bread soda, salt, cheese and dillisk into a bowl.
  2. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until combined in.
  3. Mix together one of the eggs and the buttermilk and milk into the flour with your hand until the mixture is combined.
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface. This is a loose, wet mix, so spoon some mixture out trying to keep height of about 2-3cm height. (If you prefer a more structured scone that is less loose, then use 100ml less buttermilk, then you should be able to turn out your dough and use a scone cutter). There is a beautiful moist softness to the recipe above though, so I recommend doing it my way.
  5. Pop the scones into a tin on top of a greased piece of baking paper, you can use a little of the second beaten egg to wash the top of the scones and sprinkle the seeds on top.
  6. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, they are done when they are golden on top.
  7. Let cool completely on a wire wrack before serving.
Macroom Stoneground Wholemeal Flour
Macroom Stoneground Wholemeal Flour
Portion Out Dough
Portion Out Dough
Ready For The Oven
Ready For The Oven
Brown Scones Hot From The Oven
Brown Scones Hot From The Oven
Delicious Buttered Brown Soda Scones
Delicious Buttered Brown Soda Scones

Creme Brûlée

Delicious Creme Brûlée
Delicious Creme Brûlée
Vanilla and Nutmeg Creme Brûlée
Vanilla and Nutmeg Creme Brûlée
Cracking The Creme Brûlée
Cracking The Creme Brûlée
Delicious Silky Creme Brûlée
Delicious Silky Creme Brûlée

My recent trip to France was, I’m not going to lie to you, a big food-fest. Every day was filled with pastries, fruits, salads, breads, cheeses, eclairs, seafood, veal, rabbit, and of course… creme brûlée. My holiday was also spent visiting a lot of little towns around France, and one not so little town, Monaco. Well how does one describe Monaco? Hmmm…. the old town, where the royal palace is located, is really cute and filled with beautiful old buildings, it’s quite touristy but really nice to visit all the same. The new town however is a different kettle of fish. Filled with super yachts, cars more expensive than most people’s mortgages, designer shops and groomed men and women dressed in the finest French couture. It leaves you going away feeling a little poor, a little scruffy and a little unglamorous and also leaves you pondering the question… Why can’t I have one of those?!

Alas, after returning back to reality from a day in crazy Monaco, I decided to get the closest I could to something smooth and rich… A creme brûlée. Okay it may not be a Ferrari, but I’m more than happy to settle for one of these! Creme brûlée is one of my favourite desserts. I absolutely love ordering it when I’m out for dinner, I had it twice when I was on holidays and came back craving a little more.

I decided to give it a go last weekend, having never made it before. Had I known creme brûlée was so easy to make, I wouldn’t have waiting so long to try it! This is really easy to make, you essentially make an easy custard, cook it in the oven then sprinkle sugar on top and grill it. I add some freshly grated nutmeg to mine, which I think is a delicious addition. This would be the perfect dessert to make for guests as you can make the custard the night before and leave it in the fridge, and just cook it up the next day.

The Closest I'll Ever Get To A Super Yacht
The Closest I’ll Ever Get To A Super Yacht
The Sights Of Monaco
The Sights Of Monaco
One Day...
One Day…
Where I Want To Spend My Imaginary Money
Where I Want To Spend My Imaginary Money
Monte Carlo Casino
Monte Carlo Casino

Ingredients:

400ml cream

4 egg yolks

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

4 tsp soft brown sugar (for topping)

  1. Bring cream to the boil with the vanilla and nutmeg. Set aside for a few minutes.
  2. Stir the white sugar into the egg yolks and slowly stir in the cream to form a nice custard. Pour into four little ramekins.
  3. Pop the ramekins in the fridge overnight if using the next day. Otherwise fill a roasting dish halfway with hot water and place the ramekins in the dish, pop into an over pre-heated to 180C and cook for 40 minutes.
  4. Take out of the oven let them cool for about an hour (you can pop them in the fridge). Then sprinkle each ramekin with a tsp of brown sugar and pop under the grill until caramelised (keep a close eye on these as they can burn quickly). Serve immediately.
Chilled And Set Custard
Chilled And Set Custard
Sprinkle With Brown Sugar
Sprinkle With Brown Sugar
Hot From The Grill
Hot From The Grill
Delicious Creme Brûlée
Delicious Creme Brûlée
My Silky Vanilla and Nutmeg Creme Brûlée
My Silky Vanilla and Nutmeg Creme Brûlée

Black Pudding, Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Savoury Crepe

Black Pudding, Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Crepe
Black Pudding, Goats Cheese and Caramelised Onion Crepe
Delicious Savoury Crepe
Delicious Savoury Crepe
Hot From The Pan
Hot From The Pan

When on holidays in France recently we fell in love with a charming old village called Eze. Eze is a stunning medieval village that is perched right up the top of a mountain that looks down over the Cote d’Azur. After spending a morning swimming on the beach at the foot of the mountain, we decided to pay the medieval village a visit  ended up spending a few hours here exploring the old streets and climbed up to the Jardin Exotique Panorama at the very top.

While exploring Eze I came across a crepe stand that got me really excited, all kinds of delicious crepes on offer. Unfortunately as no-one else was getting one, I decided to get a homemade lemonade instead and went on my merry way. However, for the rest of the holiday I felt quite cheated that I went to France and didn’t even get a crepe! On returning to Ireland I decided to make a savoury crepe for my lunch one day, but decided to used very Irish ingredients in the filling instead of the classic French ones that were on offer in France. So black pudding, goats cheese, caramelised onions and apple relish feature in my crepe. While very un-French, they are very delicious!

Tiny Little Crepe Stall in Eze, France
Tiny Little Crepe Stall in Eze, France
Traditional Crepe Hot Plates
Traditional Crepe Hot Plates
Leaving With No More Than A Lemonade
Leaving With No More Than A Lemonade
Exploring The Streets of Eze
Exploring The Streets of Eze
Hanging Out With The Goddesses of Eze
Hanging Out With The Goddesses of Eze
The Goddess Margot Looking Out Over the Cote d'Azur
The Goddess Margot Looking Out Over the Cote d’Azur
Finishing Off The Day With A Swim At Eze Beach
Finishing Off The Day With A Swim At Eze Beach

Ingredients:

1 ring of Clonakilty Blackpudding

100g soft goats cheese (Ardsallagh is my favourite)

Apple relish (you can use tomato relish, or leave this out altogether as the caramelised onions are sweet enough)

For Buckwheat Crepes:

100g buckwheat flour

250ml-300ml water

1 pinch salt

Caramelised Onions:

2 red onions

1 heaped tablespoon brown sugar

1 large glug of balsamic vinegar (I used Llewellyn’s Apple Balsamic Vinegar)

1.  Stir the water into the flour and salt until mixed through and put in the fridge for an hour or two, or overnight.

2. For the caramelised onions finely slice the onions into rings and cook in a frying pan with some olive oil until soft. Then add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and stir until reduced. Set aside.

3. Slice your black pudding and frying in a little oil for a minute on each side, then set aside. I broke up the black pudding a little with the back of a wooden spoon so that I would have lots of little bites of pudding rather than full discs.

4. Pour a ladle of your crepe batter on to a lightly buttered fying panover a medium high heat. Fry for a minute each side, when done set down on to your plate. Spread a small teaspoon of apple relish over the crepe, then a heaped tablespoon of caramelised onions, then break a few pieces of goats cheese and blackpudding over the top. Fold in a quarter, or just half if there’s too much filling! Eat straight away.

Black Pudding, Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion Savoury Crepe
Black Pudding, Goats Cheese & Caramelised Onion Savoury Crepe
Delicious Black Pudding Crepe
Delicious Black Pudding Crepe

Visiting Nice, France and La Cours Saleya Market

A Variety Of French Sausages
A Variety Of French Sausages
Countless Varieties Of Juicy Bright Tomatoes
Countless Varieties Of Juicy Bright Tomatoes
This Cheese Stall was Heavenly
This Cheese Stall was Heavenly

I am just back from a holiday in the South of France after indulging in all the best french foods such pain au chocolat, brioche, creme brulee, eclairs, chocolate mousse, baguettes, brie and camembert cheeses, rabbit terrine, veal roasted with figs, truffle butter risottos, salmon tartare… Need I go on?! I spent the week travelling along the Cote d’Azur visiting Villefranche, Cap Ferrat, Eze, Monaco and Nice. The weather was balmy, the sea was crystal clear, the food delicious and the people were gorgeous! One of the highlight’s of the week for me was visitng the famous Cours Saleya food market in Nice. The market gathers every morning in the old town of Nice until after lunch selling all kinds of wonderful foods. Big juicy fruits of all varieties and seasonal vegetables line many of the stalls, along side stalls bursting with big baskets of beautiful flowers, fish stalls sell the day’s catch fresh from the waters of the Cote d’Azur, cheese stalls sell amazing stinky cheeses, bread stalls sell all manor of baked delights, herb and spice stalls sell spice mixes specific to classic and contemporary dishes, cured meat stalls get you salivating… This would be a tourist’s heaven if you were staying in an apartment in Nice as I can just imagine gathering all kinds of goodies from the market for a feast! As we were leaving the next day we decided to pick up a few bits and pieces we could bring home with us like a delicious fig chutney and violet sugar. One thing I regret not getting was a bag of the dried out peppers they were selling as I’m sure they’d all flavour to all sorts of meals. The is also a lovely cafe on the corner of the Cours Saleya called Le Coin Quotidien which does a great breakfast before you set off into the stalls. If you are going to Nice, even just for one day make sure to stop by this amazing food and flower market and soak up the atmosphere and be sure to take a few jarred treats home with you!

Nice is a great city to visit with a lot to offer, the city is on the coast with a long beach thronging with people on a hot summer’s days, and alive with activity in the water… Jet skiing, paragliding, you name it! The nicest part of Nice is “Vieux Nice”, or “Old Nice” which is a stunning labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets lined with the coolest shops, restaurants and bars in Nice. Wandering these streets is a great way to spend an afternoon. The place has a really vibrant restaurant scene too. I’ve captured a wide range of shots from my trip so I’ve put up all the ones of La Cours Saleya market first, followed by some shots of Vieux Nice. I hope you enjoy the pictures and it inspires you to take a trip there sometime!

Your Are Entering La Cours Saleya
Your Are Entering La Cours Saleya
Browsing The Flower Stalls
Browsing The Flower Stalls
Beautiful Hydrangeas
Beautiful Hydrangeas
Beautiful Root Vegetables
Beautiful Root Vegetables
Many Varieties Of Beautifully Coloured Beans
Many Varieties Of Beautifully Coloured Beans
The Dried Tomatoes and Peppers I Regret Not Buying
The Dried Tomatoes and Peppers I Regret Not Buying
Fresh Juicy Figs
Fresh Juicy Figs
Amazing Salt Blends
Amazing Salt Blends
Who Could Say No To A Few Olives?
Who Could Say No To A Few Olives?
The French Take Their Sausages Seriously!
The French Take Their Sausages Seriously!
A Bustling Flower Stall
A Bustling Flower Stall
Finish Your Trip To The Market With A Breakfast in Le Coin Quotidien
Finish Your Trip To The Market With A Breakfast in Le Coin Quotidien
Freshly Baked Delights in Le Coin Quotidien
Freshly Baked Delights in Le Coin Quotidien
The Streets of Nice are Lined With Beautiful Old Buildings
The Streets of Nice are Lined With Beautiful Old Buildings
Old Artisan Bakeries are Everywhere Here
Old Artisan Bakeries are Everywhere Here
The Best Restaurant in Nice Surely Must Be Bistrot d'Antoine
The Best Restaurant in Nice Surely Must Be Bistrot d’Antoine
Wander Through The Narrow Streets of Vieux Nice
Wander Through The Narrow Streets of Vieux Nice
Nice Is Home To All Kinds Of Unusual Shops
Nice Is Home To All Kinds Of Unusual Shops
French Locals Have Many Stunning Butchers To Choose From
French Locals Have Many Stunning Butchers To Choose From
Local Boucherie
Local Boucherie
I Love These Charming Old Buildings
I Love These Charming Old Buildings
Finish Your Day With A Walk Along The Water
Finish Your Afternoon With A Walk Along The Water
Getting Ready For A Night Out In Nice
Getting Ready For A Night Out In Nice
Explore The Bustling Streets of Restaurants in Nice in The Evening
Explore The Bustling Streets of Restaurants in Nice in The Evening