I can appreciate that this soup is about as unattractive as it comes, but don’t hold that against it. This soup is really delicious, bursting with flavour, really meaty and filling while still being pretty healthy. I’ve been sick with a pretty bad sore throat and head cold and so today decided to make a pot of soup with some of the leftover Christmas ham, in the hopes that it would make me feel better in time for New Year’s Eve.
This is actually really delicious, and really hit the spot. The ham and butter beans make it a really filling meal. I definitely plan on making another pot tomorrow. If you have any leftover Christmas ham, try this recipe to use it up.
200g chopped or shredded ham
1 can butter beans
2 leeks finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme (remove the leaves from the stalks)
750ml cold water
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 pinch salt
1 splash rapeseed oil
Pop the garlic, thyme leaves, leeks and carrots in a large heavy bottomed pot with the splash of oil and stir on a medium low heat until soft.
Add the water and after a few minutes blitz with a hand blender to liquidize the vegetables.
Add the drained can of butter beans, the ham, salt and pepper.
Let the pot simmer away on a medium low heat for about 15 minutes until hot and then serve.
I very rarely have arguments with my boyfriend. But alas, after a seemingly innocent question about what my next blog post would be, to which I replied, “cheese toastie” an argument ensued:
“You can’t possibly be actually putting up a blog post about a toasted cheese sandwich”
“Yes, I can”
“No, you can’t, nobody needs a recipe for a toasted sandwich. Everyone knows how to make a toasted sandwich”
“Well, it’s ridiculous”
“I don’t care, I love toasted cheese sandwiches. It’s my blog, I can put up whatever I want.”
I do see his point, it is a bit much putting up a sandwich recipe. But this blog is just a collection of my favourite things to eat, and honestly the simpler something is to make while still tasting delicious the better! This is my 100th blog post, and while I probably should be putting up something impressive, I feel if I can’t blog about something I like to eat, then what’s the point! It’s also Irish Farmhouse Cheese Month and I am obsessed with cheese…. Or maybe I just wanted another excuse to make another cheese toastie… Either way, here we are. Bread, cheese and raspberries are some of my favourite things to eat, so why not squish them together in a melty, oozy and crispy sandwich?
I love the Temple Bar farmers market and go there every weekend that I’m in Dublin, and Corleggy Cheese is one of my favourite stalls- their cheeses are incredible and I really love their raw sheep milk cheese, which you can see melting out of the pictures above. I also tried the La Boulangerie Francaise stall last weekend for the first time and their fruit and walnut bread was incredible, which I used here. And really, who can go wrong with some good bread and good cheese?
Try the below to pimp out your standard cheese toastie, and see how the raspberries and fresh basil pack a flavour punch.
Ingredients (serves 1):
2 slices good quality bread (no sliced pan please)
4 slices good quality farmhouse cheese (I used sheep cheese)
A few basil leaves chopped
1 tsp butter
Layer your cheese, raspberries and basil between your two slices of bread.
Butter the outside of the sandwich and pop directly onto a baking tin and pop into an oven pre-heated t0 220C for 5-10 minutes (keep an eye on them, my oven always requires a really high heat, yours may be less so check it doesn’t burn.)
I recently had the pleasure of taking a trip to the G Hotel in Galway which is an absolutely stunning hotel where we were pampered with all sorts of culinary delights, delicious cocktails and the most amazing spa treatments. The hotel was designed by Irish milliner Philip Treacy and the whole hotel is designed in the most unique and stunning way. If you have the chance to splash out for a night in Galway, this is the place to stay. While there I had a delicious breakfast one morning of potato cakes with creme fraiche and local smoked salmon. It was the perfect weekend breakfast and when I came back I decided to make it for dinner one evening.
I added spring onions and chives to my potato cakes to give it some lovely flavour, and really once you have made the potato cakes, there’s not much else to do but mix up some creme fraiche sauce which takes a matter of seconds and drape some delicious smoked salmon over the top. This is the kind of meal that you can happily eat at any time of day, perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The potato cakes really are quite easy to make, once the potato are boiled it is just a case of mashing them up and adding in the seasoning. I did my usual trick and made a batch of them and froze the rest which would be perfect sides for a few quick meals in the coming weeks. I hope you give these a go, they are really delicious and well worth the effort.
Ingredients (Serves 5-6)
Smoked Salmon (around 60g-80g per person)
Wedges of lemon to serve
1 kg floury Irish potatoes
1 bunch scallions (sliced) sautéed until soft
1 bunch chives chopped
Pinch salt & pepper
200g creme fraiche (Glenisk is the best)
1 heaped tbsp finely chopped chives
Pop your potatoes into a pot full of boiling water with a heaped teaspoon of salt. Bring to the boil and then bring the heat down to a medium low heat and let them boil away for about15-20 minutes depending on size. Put a skewer through the potatoes to test (don’t be tempted to skewer all your potatoes too early or they might go soggy… You want floury and light potatoes)
When cooked, peel the potatoes and pop into a large bowl with the butter and start mashing. You can use more or less of the butter depending on the texture of the mash, you want it soft. Add in the cooked scallions, chives, salt and pepper. Mash until combined, but don’t over mash as the potatoes will get starchy.
Portion the mash out into equal amounts and squish into disc shapes with you hands. Bake in an oven with a little oil on a baking tray for about 20 minutes at 200C. Alternatively you can fry on a medium heat with a little butter or oil for a few minutes either side, you only want these golden in colour. Make sure to oil the pan well as you don’t want the potato sticking to the pan. (I prefer them baked rather than fried).
Mix together all creme fraiche ingredients in a little bowl.
Dollop the creme fraiche on top of the potato cakes and drape the smoked salmon over the whole lot. Serve with a lemon wedge on the side or squeeze a little lemon juice on top of the salmon.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
Taste the soup and if needed season with a little more salt, cumin or vinegar.
Serve with a little garnish of cracked black pepper, ground cumin or reserved coconut milk.
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.
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
2 tbsp mixed seeds to scatter on top (optional)
Preheat the oven to 220C and mix the flours, bread soda, salt, cheese and dillisk into a bowl.
Rub the butter into the flour mixture until combined in.
Mix together one of the eggs and the buttermilk and milk into the flour with your hand until the mixture is combined.
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.
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.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, they are done when they are golden on top.
Let cool completely on a wire wrack before serving.
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!
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
1 pinch salt
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.
Every now and then you make a super quick dish for dinner out of the few ingredients lying around your kitchen, and it ends up being so good people think it must have taken more time and effort than it did. I love those dishes. This salad was prepared in literally less than 5 minutes, maybe it was 3 minutes. I had a ball of Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzarella in the fridge that I had picked up in the market that weekend, a few figs (you could use peaches, apricots, plums or any other soft fruit or berry that you have handy) that never got used in a dessert I was planning, and the rest of the ingredients were just stuff I would always have lying around in my fridge and cupboard.
I wasn’t even planning on blogging this, as it was a spur of the moment dish, but I put a picture of it up on instagram, and people seemed to like it so much, that I thought I would share it on my blog, so sorry for less photos than usual! I had this as a main for dinner, but it would also make a great, stress-free starter for a dinner party. Just double up the ingredients as you need. I highly encourage you to make this, I have yet to eat another meal that took this quick to make, but tasted so mouth-wateringly delicious!
Ingredients (Serves 1 as a main course):
1 ball fresh buffalo mozzarella
3 fresh figs
1 handful of mixed dark green salad leaves
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 glug of balsamic vinegar (I used Llewellyn’s Irish Apple Balsamic which had a lovely sweetness to it)
1 tsp honey
Put a dry frying pan on a high heat, add almonds and toss until golden, about 45 seconds (they burn quickly so be careful)
Toss your leaves in a glug of the balsamic vinegar until they are just coated.
Cut two of your figs into quarters and lay them out over the leaves. Quarter the third fig only half way down so they fig is still attached together, place this in the centre of your salad.
Roughly tear up your ball of mozzarella and scatter over the salad, place one chunk of mozzarella within the fig in the centre of the salad.
Sprinkle with the toasted almonds and drizzle with the tsp runny honey. It’s that easy!