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.
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!