Votes have been counted and the Italian menu has pipped the French menu to the post once again.
If you haven’t been to the Sunnyside Supper Club before, it’s a bit like the Little Paris Kitchen (only in Belfast, and I don’t look anything like the fabulous Rachel Khoo).
Everyone shares a communal table and eats the same menu. The aim is to enjoy some great food and enjoy a meal with new people. Guests are usually a mix of friends on mates dates, people who are new to Belfast and want to meet locals and couples who want to do something a bit different.
We only ever have a max 8-9 guests so book early to avoid disappointment.
We’ll great you with a welcome drink, and then it’s BYO (no corkage)
Starter – Gnocchi with Hazelnut Pesto
Main – Chicken Marsala, chicken thighs cooked in a creamy mushroom and Marsala sauce, (vegetarian option-Aubergine Parmesan), Italian Salad, Homemade Italian Bread
Apologies, but I have to change the date of the next Sunnyside Supper Club to 10th September.
My little Kitchen Elf and general dogs body (her term, not mine), has been surprised with a romantic weekend away on the original date planned, meaning we have to push things back by a week. Never let it be said that I got in the way of true romance!
In the mean time don’t forget to vote for your favourite menu.
Well the pandemic wasn’t a big pile of craic was it?
Now that things have hopefully calmed down a bit, the supper club is back.
If you haven’t been to one before, we have a max of 8-9 diners and past guests have been a mix of couples, friends catching up on “mate dates” and solo diners who love food but who’s friends just aren’t into eating out. It’s all very laid back and a chance to have dinner people from different walks of life while enjoying some great food (After lock down aren’t you fed up looking at the same people) .
You’ll be greeted with a welcome drink (people are welcome to bring their own beer or wine, with no corkage), and then everyone eats the same 3 courses (we’re happy to cater for vegans/vegetarians, just let us know in advance).
The theme of the supper club scheduled just as lock down hit was decided by a vote. So, I’m putting it to the vote again (in case our taste buds have changed over lockdown). I’m sticking with French Vs Italian.
So check out the menus and vote for your favourite, and we’ll maybe see you at the next supper club.
“Mauritius was made first, and then heaven: heaven being copied after Mauritius”, Mark Twain
As much as I loved relaxing at a resort, old habits die hard and I wanted to explore a bit more of the island.
You can rent a car relatively cheaply, and as Mauritius is a former British colony they drive on the left hand side of the road, and road signs are in English (speed signs are in kilometers). However, rather than having all the stress of getting lost and driving unfamiliar roads we hired a local driver for a day. Rajesh was super helpful and knowledgeable and brought us to the North of the island. Not slowing down at intersections and tail gating seem to be common practice, so I was glad we had a local to help out.
Our first stop was the capital, Port Louis. This was a bit of a culture shock after the laid back vibe of a resort. Full of hustle and bustle the city is loud and frenetic with epic traffic jams during rush hour. Once there you’ll find busy markets selling everything imaginable, with traders barking out their bargains in French/Creole.
You can shop for souvenirs (haggling is expected) or head to the exotic food markets to stock up on spices. I would recommend asking for prices before buying spices (I think ended up paying some unofficial tourist tax due to not checking first).
Mauritius was an important stopping off point in the spice route and local food is fragrant and highly spiced.
If you are frazzled after Port Louis and want to get in touch with your inner history nerd, then visit the Sugar Museum (L’Aventure de Sucre). A short drive from the city, the museum is fascinating. It was a former sugar refinery and shows how sugar cane growth and production totally shaped the history of the island. Less then 300 years ago there were just 200 people living on the island, the population is now over 1.2 million. Sugar cane production, completely changed the eco system of the island, with new species of plants and animals being introduced. Mauritius is probably best remembered as being the home of the now extinct dodo.
Like most museums you’ll exit through the gift shop, but this is worth doing for the rum tasting that’s included in the entrance fee.
Private companies like the East India Company and then colonial powers from the Portuguese, French and British exploited the island and its inhabitants to make obscene amounts of money. Slaves were transported from Bengal and Africa, as well as indentured servants from India and traders from China all led to the multicultural nation Mauritius is today. The museum is honest about the legacy of the slave trade and the immense wealth created by sugar plantations. While the country is seen now as a tropical paradise, it has a much darker history.
As you drive along you’ll see vibrantly coloured, Hindu temples, Buddhist shrines, Mosques and Christian churches scattered through out the countryside. By all accounts Mauritians live in relative harmony and differences are respected and celebrated.
The botanical gardens are really impressive. Because of its climate and fertile soil probably anything could grow here. You can explore on your own or pay for a guide. Unless you’re seriously into horticulture I’d recommend just pottering about on your own. You can also see brightly coloured wildfowl, giant tortoises and deer.
Before heading back to our resort, our driver, Rajesh brought us to Cap Malheureux (Unhappy Cape), so called because of ships who ran aground in the past. The views were breathing taking and the area is most commonly known for the little red roof church that sits on the bay.
Just as the evening was drawing in we headed back to Bel Ombre across the mountain route. The Pitons are a range of jagged volcanic mountains that wouldn’t look out of place in Jurassic Park (the light was dropping so sorry no photos).
Due to an unusual piece of luck I was fortunate enough to stay in the Outrigger Resort in Bel Ombre, in the south western coast of Mauritius.
I’m usually a city break type of person, but if all resorts could be as heavenly as this place then I’m a convert.
The resort has large airy bedrooms, with luxurious bathrooms and dressing area (we had the largest bathtub I’ve ever seen). A well stocked mini bar and complementary snacks and fancy coffee machine make sure you want for nothing while in your room.
Accommodation either has views of the lush tropical gardens with banyan, and frangipani trees, as well as coconut and date palms throughout, or ocean views of the pristine lagoon with a coral reef about 100 yards from the beautiful sandy beach dotted with black volcanic rock. You can wander along the beach and watch the sea change from bright turquoise to dark lapiz blues as the sun moves throughout the day. (Top tip: aqua shoes are a good choice as the beach has lots of coral and can be uncomfortable to walk on in parts). The resort also has two large pools as well as a reflection pool for those who love an Instagram post. Although there isn’t a single view in the place that isn’t fabulous.
I went in early July which is the Mauritian winter, but it was still in the mid 20s (Celsius) everyday and was very pleasant. If you prefer it really hot then from August onwards is the time to go.
Other visitors were made up of a fairly cosmopolitan mix of European, Indian and Middle Eastern and this is reflected in the food offered.
There are several eating areas. The Mercado serves breakfast and dinner and served international buffet style food. Breakfast in the morning ranges from curries, a large selection of topical fruits and juices, omelette stations, cereals, cooked items and french breads and patisserie. For dinner there is a theme of a different country’s cuisine each evening (Mauritian night was my favourite, but all the food was excellent). There are always plenty of options for children, vegans and halal diners.
If you prefer a la carte dining the Edge Water restaurant is right on the beach, and Le Bleu is a beach front bar serving freshly made pizzas and panninis and is a good call for lunch. There are also plenty of sun loungers and comfortable seating areas along the beach and pools.
We had one afternoon with rain, and the ever helpful staff (thank you Sephora) arranged for me to be taught some Mauritian dishes with the very lovely Chef Matthieu. He is a great teacher, and showed me how to make apple chutney, yam fritters, Mauritian chicken curry and roti (flat bread). His enthusiasm and passion for his local cuisine really shone through, and to paraphrase Julia Childs, “people who love food are always the best people”
The Plantation Club provides a fine dining option offering old world luxury. You can opt to visit for afternoon tea or to dine a la carte. However, my suggestion would be to try one of their tasting menu evenings. We opted for lobster night, and having met Chef Matthieu the day before we knew we would be in for a treat. He is passionate about fusion cooking, and because Mauritius is such a melting pot who’s population is a mix of Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, African and French heritage, the range of flavours in Mauritian food is something else.
Everything on the menu was delicious but my two stand out dishes were the makki roll and lobster with arbarica sauce (coffee sauce with lobster might sound really strange but it was so well balanced, it was like nothing I’ve ever tasted).
You could spend your entire day just chilling and listening to the roar of the sea against the coral reef and the rustling of the palms (I can highly recommend spending at least one afternoon doing this to find your happy place). If you prefer to be a bit more active there are gorgeous beach walks and the resort offers free activities like snorkeling, tours of the lagoon in a glass bottom boat (we had a sea turtle come and swim along side us), and on set days there are activities such as aquafit, volleyball, and yoga.
The concierges at the resort are an excellent source of information if you’d like to get out and about and see more of the island. They can help arrange visits to see capital Port Louis if you like to shop and see the local markets, historic areas on the island or activities like swimming with dolphins or sea turtles, visiting the impressive botanical gardens or sailing out to neighbouring islands on a catamaran.
If you want something to do in the evenings the resort has live music every night which was always really good. My favourite was the Mauritian night which had local artists play traditional Sega music and display local dances, which are based on the African music played by slaves in the sugar cane plantations and made the colonial owners the equivalent of modern billionaires.
Staff at the resort are multi lingual (French is the most widely spoken language on the island), and were incredibly warm and helpful. Mauritius is developing quickly, but tourism is still the largest employer on the island, and it was hit badly due to Covid and also the global rise in the cost of living. You will always receive excellent service from the well trained staff at the resort, but the average monthly salary in Mauritius is around £600 per month. So if you do get a chance to visit this little slice of paradise, try to tip as well as you can afford to (and like most places cash is always preferable).
If you always end up with left over bread this is a really tasty way to use it up.
This dish apparently started with poor shepherds in Spain and Portugal. I like recipes that allow you to use up what’s available and this is perfect for using up scraps of streaky bacon, ham or other smokey meats or cold cuts
This dish does use a lot of oil, which is why I’ve included it amongst the poor filth recipes. It’s quick, easy to make and tastes great. I like for breakfast/brunch with fried eggs. It also makes a fantastic hangover cure.
500 Grams Stale bread (broken into chunks of various size, but not as small as breadcrumbs)
1 Onion (cut into fine slices)
2-3 Cloves of garlic
50 Grams Chorizo (peeled and sliced)
1 Red pepper (cut into 1cm strips)
50 Grams Streaky bacon or other left over meat or cold cuts (cut into 2cm slices)
1 Tsp Smoked paprika
2-3 Tbsp Olive oil
Heat a large high sided pan and add the chorizo, and streaky bacon until it starts to crisp up. Remove from the pan and set to one side
Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and paprika to the pan and cook in the juices released from the chorizo and bacon until the onion becomes translucent
Add some oil to the pan and then add the stale bread chunks. Fry until the bread starts to brown, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn
This is one of the quintessential French desserts and it’s actually quite easy to make. It’s basically a baked custard/batter with fruit.
Cherries are a traditional, but you can use other fruit like blueberries or apricots.
I use frozen cherries that I allowed to thaw. This is mainly because fresh cherries here in Ireland are really expensive, and because the frozen type usually have the stones removed. Purists argue that the cherry stones add an almond flavour, but I think this is nonsense.
If you have a blender you can make the batter in this or just use a bowl and whisk if you don’t. This should normally be cooked in a round pie dish and served in wedges. I didn’t have one, so my clafoutis is was probably a little deeper than the regular type. It also looks prettier cooked in a round dish but ho hum, you use what you have.
It’s usually served just warm or at room temperature. It’s traditionally served with whipped cream, but ice cream is also delicious.
For the fruit
450 Grams Cherries (fresh or frozen)
3 Tbsp Caster sugar
For the batter
100 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to coat the baking dish)
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
200 Mil Milk
150 Grams Plain flour
30 Grams Butter (melted and allowed to cool slightly, plus extra for greasing the dish)
Cover the cherries with 3 Tbsp of sugar and allow to macerate for an hour
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
Add the milk, salt, vanilla extract, and eggs to a blender and give a quick blitz
Add the flour to the blender and whizz for 1 minute, before adding the cooled melted butter. Whiz for another 30 seconds
Rub a knob of butter along the inside of your baking dish, and a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the dish and shake this around the dish so that it sticks to the butter. Discard any sugar that hasn’t stuck to the butter
Spread your fruit across the base of the dish, and then gently pour over the custard
Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. To check if the clafoutis is cooked, stick a knife in the centre of the dish and if it comes out clean the clafoutis is cooked. If it doesn’t give it another 5 minutes and check again
Sometimes random things pop up on your social media feed and this was the “Friends” salad, apparently the female cast members all ate the same thing every day for lunch for 10 years.
I followed the recipe provided by icecreamandneondreams.com and I have to say it’s very tasty (maybe not eating it every day for 10 years), but definitely worth including in your salad or lunch dish rotation.
Needless to say its very healthy with plenty of fibre and protein and full of lovely flavours that compliment each other. Like any salad you can play with the ratio of ingredients depending on your taste
The original salad doesn’t have any dressing, but you can also add some olive oil and lemon juice if you think it needs it.
250 Grams Bulgar Wheat (dry weight cook according the instructions on the packet)
1 Large or 2 small Cucumbers
400 Gram Tin of Chick Peas
1 Small red onion (finely sliced)
200 Grams Feta Cheese (crumbled)
50 Grams Shelled Pistachios
2 Tbsp. Fresh mint (chopped), or 2 tsp dried mint
2 Tbsp. Parsley (chopped)
Cook the bulgar wheat according to the instructions on the packet and allow to cool
Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out and discard the watery seeds on the middle. Cut each half in half again and slice into 1 cm slices (you can make them chunkier if you prefer)
Drain the chick peas and add to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients and mix well. Have a taste and add some salt and pepper if you the salad needs it
I love a hearty breakfast, and this is quick enough for a weekday breakfast but you might prefer to save it for the weekend as it makes a great brunch/lunch dish.
I have shown quantities per person, so just up the amounts based on how many people you’re cooking for. I know we don’t usually use herbs at breakfast time, but the coriander and mint really make this delicious (I love picking this from my window box). This meal has plenty of fibre and protein and will fuel you for a good part of the day. If you are gluten free, you can swap the wholemeal tortilla for corn tortilla (just make sure to check the label, to ensure they are GF)
Ingredients (per person)
1 Wholemeal torilla
1/2 Avocado (diced)
6 Cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 Spring onion/scallion (finely sliced)
1 Tbsp Mint (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Coriander (finely chopped)
100 Grams Canned black beans
Chilli powder – according to taste
1 Tsp Oil
Heat oil in a small pan, crack both eggs into the pan (I like to add a little water and cover with a lid so they steam fry, but feel free to cook the eggs your preferred way)
While your eggs are cooking, slice the vegetables and herbs. Place the tortilla on a plate
Place your eggs on top of the tortilla, and use the same pan to warm through the black beans
Scatter the vegetables, herbs and heated black beans, across the tortilla and eggs and sprinkle with chilli powder (or sliced fresh chillies if you prefer) according to how spicy you like your food.
This dish is from the south of France, and is like a cross between a tart and a pizza.
Just warning you from the outset, this is what I would call a weekend recipe. Some elements can take a while. None of it is difficult but things like caramelising the onions, or proving the dough can take a while. So I usually make this at weekends when I’m pottering around and can do things like laundry while the dough proves.
If you see anchovies and immediately say no way, I would recommend giving this a chance. The sweetness of the onions, definitely tempers the fishiness of the anchovies and the combination works nicely.
If you really are anchovy phobic you can swap it for roasted red pepper, this also allows vegans and vegetarians to enjoy it (just remember to swap out the butter for olive oil if cooking for vegans or people who are dairy free).
This can also be eaten hot of cold, I love it with a cold beer or glass of wine.
For the dough
2 Tsp Dried yeast
250 Grams Plain flour
3 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 Tsp Salt
For the topping
40 Grams Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1.5 Kg Onions (Finely Sliced)
1 Tbsp Dried thyme
24 Black olives
16 Anchovy Fillets (or slices of roast pepper if you don’t like anchovies
To make the dough, mix the dried yeast with 120 ml of warm water (not too hot or you’ll kill the yeast), leave in a warm place for 10 minutes until a froth appears on top of the mixture.
Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt, olive oil and yeast mixture. Mix until the dough forms a ball. Turn out onto to a floured surface, and knead for 10 minutes (or use a mixer with a dough hook, but personally I like to do it by hand its very therapeutic if you’ve had a stressful week)
Rub a bowl with olive oil, put your kneaded bowl of dough in the bowl and cover lightly with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel (or I always use the little disposable shower caps you get into hotels), leave in a warm space for 1-2 hours
Remove the dough from the bowl and knock the air out of the dough with a light punch (like OI said this can be very therapeutic). Knead for a couple of minutes and then cover again and leave in a warm place until the dough doubles in size
For the topping, melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and half the thyme and cook over a gentle for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are dark and caramelised
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius), and grease a 34 cm x 26 cm baking tray. Roll your dough out thinly to fit the baking tray and transfer the dough to the baking tray and brush lightly with oil
Spread the cooled onion mixture evenly across the dough
Lay the anchovies on top of the onion mixture in a rough lattice pattern, and the olives should go in between the diamonds created in the lattice. It’s a rustic dish, so don’t panic if doesn’t look entirely uniform
I love dishes made with ingredients I usually have in my kitchen. No part of this recipe is difficult, just break it into 3 steps, bread, feta and grapes.
This is a pretty fancy starter but all the elements can be made well in advance and assembled at the last minute. If you want to make delicious canapes this also works brilliantly on wafer thin slivers of sour dough bread or those tiny little croustad cups you can buy in some delicatessens It’s also great for a lunch dish.
I love whipped feta, and it can be used in salads, wraps, sandwiches or as a dip. It’s also really good with roasted vegetables or sun dried tomatoes.
The roast grapes are something you might not have tried before, but their sweetness works really well with the saltiness of the feta.
For the bread
1 Ciabatta loaf (you can use other breads like sour dough or French baguette if you prefer), cut into 1-2cm thick slices
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Remove the grapes from the stem and add to an oven proof dish along with the other ingredients. Swirl the grapes around to make sure they are coated with the oil, thyme and garlic. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the skins start to blister, remove from the oven and allow to cool
Place the sliced bread on a baking tray and drizzle with oil on each side. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, remove and rub each slice with a clove of garlic
In a large bowl, crumble the feta, and add the other ingredients and whip with an electric whisk for 5 minutes or until creamy.
When the bread is cool, spread with a layer of whipped feta, and top with the roasted grapes
Life in lockdown meant most of us had pretty sucky birthdays this year. I had a big birthday in the middle of lockdown, which was c*ap. However, I’m lucky enough to have a great friend (Bronagh), who treated me to a fantastic night at Galgorm Spa and the 5 course tasting menu in their restaurant.
Galgorm is about 30 minutes from Belfast (although we took the scenic route because we got lost). Set amongst 163 acres of mature parkland with the river Maine flowing through the resort, the main hotel reception is a large characterful old house with beautiful open turf fires. The hotel has more modern additions for accommodation, self catering lodges and annexes that cater to weddings and conferences.
I have really been missed travel since Covid hit and visiting here really made me feel like I had proper holiday. The spa facilities are international standard offering a range of treatments and I had one of the best massages I have ever had. The resort has what it calls a spa village which was amazing.
When we arrived we dropped our bags which were taken to our room and all we had to do was change into our swimsuits, and then relax in the robes and flip flops that were provided. Everyone wears these at the spa (it was a but like being in a cult), but with facilities this good I’d be happy to join.
There are a range of indoor and outdoor pools, hydro jets, saunas, steam rooms and a salt cave. It was perfect to sit in the beautiful gardens enjoying a mojito and watch the waterfalls that run beside the hotel.
That evening, totally chilled out we had the fabulous tasting menu in the hotel’s River Room restaurant. The restaurant prides itself in sourcing local artisanal ingredients and grows a lot of what they use in the hotel’s own gardens.
The resort is really luxurious, and the staff who are obviously trained to within an inch of their life are warm and engaging and go out of their way to make your stay feel special. The resort is a destination in itself, but is also close to the gorgeous North Antrim coast if you want to explore . All I can say is thank you Bronagh for an amazing gift.
Some ingredients are so good that you need to do very little with them. Crab claws are one of these ingredients.
Butter and garlic can make most things taste better but match them up with sweet meaty crab claws and within 5 minutes you have one of the most delicious things you’ll ever eat. It might seem like a lot of garlic and butter and you can scale it back if you prefer, but this isn’t an everyday dish, so I think it’s worth the splurge.
If you don’t cook fish at home because you think it can be a bit like hard work, this is really quick and easy. Crab claws usually come ready cooked so there is no preparation, All you’re really doing is heating them.
250 Grams Crab Claws
50 Grams Butter
3 Cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp Parsley (finely chopped, optional)
In a large pan heat the butter, when it starts to melt, add the garlic and the crab claws
Cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the crab claws are heated through. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with a salad or crusty bread, yum!
The National Trust has some amazing properties around Northern Ireland. Rowallane is just outside Saintfield village (about 20 mins outside Belfast).
Rowallane consists of a beautiful old house (I forgot to take photos), stable block, walled garden, toilets and café, established gardens and woodlands.
Spring is an amazing time to visit, as everything is in full bloom, including the amazing blue Himalayan poppies. The gardens and woodlands are pretty fabulous at anytime, and with the easing of Covid restrictions a full calendar of events will hopefully be back on soon.
The gardens are popular with dog walkers and families, and are generally accessible for anyone with mobility issues. Kids will love the woodlands with plenty of trees to climb and a meadow to run crazy in.
I love a good curry, and this is a really tasty and satisfying curry that can be enjoyed by vegans and meat lovers alike.
Coconut milk adds a lovely creaminess to this and I serve with rice or flat bread, to make it even better sweet potatoes and spinach are full of flavour and vitamins. I top this with some toasted cashew nuts for some extra crunch and protein, but it will still be delicious without them.
It’s also quick enough to be a great midweek meal and is packed full of lovely spices without being hot (unless you love chillies, in which case add as many as you like).
500 Grams Orange sweet potatoes (cut into 3-4 cm chucks, I leave the skins but peel if you prefer)
250 Grams Spinach (you can use frozen spinach if this is what you have)
2 Onions (roughly chopped)
1 Red chilli (cut in half, and seeds removed, add more if you like a hot curry)
3 Cloves of garlic (peeled)
Thumb sized piece of ginger (peeled and roughly chopped)
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Ground Tumeric
1 Tsp Ground Coriander
1 Tsp Salt
Juice of 1 lime, or half a lemon
400 ml Tin of coconut milk
400 ml water
2 Tbsp Fresh coriander (chopped, optional)
2-3 Tbsp Cashew nuts (toasted, optional)
In a food processor, add your onions, chilli, garlic and ginger, and blitz until it makes a smooth(ish) paste
Heat the oil in a large pan and add the paste you just blitzed in the food processor, and cook for 5-10 minutes
Add the spices to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the sweet potatoes, coconut milk and water. Cook for another 10 minutes (or until the chunks of sweet potato are soft)
Add the lime juice, and spinach and cover until the spinach has wilted. When the spinach has wilted check the seasoning, adding salt if needed, and sprinkle with copped coriander, cook uncovered for another 5-10 minutes if you prefer a thicker curry
If you’re adding cashew nuts, toast them in a dry pan for 2 minutes (it will make them even more delicious)
I’ve loved this cake ever since I tasted it in the States years ago. Not only does it have a cool name but your house will smell unbelievable.
This is also a good way to use up over ripe bananas if you can’t face banana bread (this is much nicer). Cinnamon can be swapped for ground ginger if you’re not a fan.
For the cake
130 Gram Tin of pineapple in natural juice (chop the pineapple finely, and keep the juice)
2 Ripe bananas (mashed)
280 Grams Caster sugar
210 Grams Self raising flour
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
60 ml Pineapple juice (from the tin of pineapple)
170 ml Oil
For the frosting
60 Grams Butter
120 Grams Cream Cheese
180 Grams Icing sugar
75 Grams Pecan nuts (Chopped)
Grated zest of one lemon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Lightly grease a 20 cm (8 inch) cake tin and line with baking paper
Add the banana, chopped pineapple and sugar to a large bowl and mix until combined. Add the flour and cinnamon and mix well
Whisk the oil, eggs and pineapple juice together before adding to the banana mixture. Stir until properly combined
Transfer the cake mix to the baking tin and bake for 1 hour or until you can insert a skewer in the centre and it comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before topping with icing
To make the icing, whisk the butter and cream cheese together (I use an electric whisk). Gradually add the icing sugar and orange zest.
Spread the icing evenly over the top of the cooled cake and sprinkle with pecans
Autumn sometimes sees a glut of great vegetables as growing season comes to end.
I love to roast these vegetables up to bring out their sweetness. Then it’s time to decide if I’m making a soup with them or a side dish like this.
If like me you like roast big batches of vegetables this can be even quicker to make as you’ll have these made already. This is really versatile, you can swap out different vegetables as they come in season.
If you’re vegan, you can enjoy this along with roasted chickpeas. I like it with griddled halloumi, or roast chicken and Greek yoghurt. It can be served hot or cold, and it’s ideal for lunch boxes.
200 Grams Couscous
1 Large courgette (Sliced)
100 Grams Cherry tomatoes
1 Red pepper (Sliced)
2 Tbsps Olive oil
3-4 Cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Dried mint, or 2 Tsps fresh mint (chopped)
50 Grams Pomegranate seeds
Salt and pepper
Add the oil, sliced courgette and pepper to an oven proof dish, mix to make sure they are coated and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees. Include the garlic gloves (left whole with their skins on)
After 20 mins remove from the oven. Stir and add the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle over the vinegar. Bake for another 15 mins (or until the edges of the peppers starts catch)
In a heat proof bowl add the couscous cumin and mint. I recommend checking the instructions on the packet about how much liquid to add. (Then add the corresponding amount of vegetable stock)
Once you have removed the vegetables from the oven, take the roasted garlic and squeeze out the soft centre and stir into the couscous
The Summer has pretty much been a wash out, (when I made this I was watching torrential rain battering my window). So comfort food was the order of the day. Chorizo makes anything taste good, add some gnocchi and cream and you have a little bowl of heaven.
500 Grams Gnocchi (I use shop bought)
75 Grams Chorizo (finely sliced)
1 Onion (thinly sliced)
1 Large red pepper (cut into 2cm cubes)
50 Grams Sun dried tomatoes (finely chopped)
2 Tbsp Olive oil (I sometimes like to use the oil that the sun dried tomatoes comes in, as it has loads of flavour)
1 Tbsp Tomato puree
125 ml Double cream
Salt and pepper
Heat 1 table spoon of oil in a large pan, and fry the chorizo, red pepper and onion until soft, remove from the pan and set to one side
Add the rest of the oil to the pan to heat, add then and the gnocchi, and brown gently all over.
Stir in the tomato puree and cook for another 1-2 minutes, add the sun dried tomatoes and the chorizo and peppers and onion you removed from the pan earlier
Add the cream and stir well ensuring everything is well coated, check if you think it needs salt or pepper. Cook for another 2-3 minutes to reduce the cream if necessary
I know this recipe might divide opinion and I’ll admit sauerkraut isn’t something I normally buy. I ended up with a monster sized pack of it from my vegetable box delivery as a substitution.
I asked round family and friends if there was anyone who was a sauerkraut lover, and couldn’t find a taker. One of them come back to me to explain that I should try to do something with it, as sauerkraut along with other fermented foods like kimchi are amazingly good for your gut health and we should all be eating more of these.
The only recipe I could think of was one I tasted about a million years when I lived in Germany. Kathy, the love lady I worked for made this dish for me once. It might sound a bit strange, and I know sauerkraut and pineapple aren’t two ingredients you would naturally think of together, but give it a chance. When they’re teamed up with pork chops, it works kind of like sweet and sour pork. The sauerkraut also helps make the pork really tender. This makes a great uncomplicated mid week dinner.
4 Pork chops
500 Grams Sauerkraut (drained)
350 Grams Can of pineapple rings
Place pork chops in an oven proof baking dish
Cover with the drained sauerkraut, and top with the pineapple rings
Cover with foil and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 20 minutes
Before tiramisu purists start, I know this is not strictly speaking a tiramisu. I’m a card carrying coffee fiend, but I’m not a fan of coffee flavour in sweet things.
What I do love is lemon flavoured desserts. This recipe gives you the creamy unctuous texture of a tiramisu, with the refreshing tang of lemon that stops this being sickly sweet.
The coffee flavour is replaced with lemon and ginger tea, and a shot limoncello gives an extra zing of flavour. This is a good recipe if you’re entertaining, you can make it the day before and it’s easy to plate up.
(N. B. This recipe contains raw eggs and is probably best not served to potentially vulnerable groups like pregnant women, the elderly and very young children)
500 Grams Marscapone cheese
250 Grams Sponge fingers (lady fingers)
125 Grams Caster sugar
1 Lemon and ginger teabag (you can use other fruit teas if you prefer, but I think this works well)
1 Lemon (juice and zest)
1 Shot of limoncello liquor (optional)
250ml Boiling water
200 Grams Lemon curd
Soak the teabag in the boiling water for 5-10 minutes before removing the teabag. Allow the tea to cool and add the limoncello to the tea
Separate the eggs. Add the caster sugar, lemon juice and zest to the egg yolks and whisk with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the marscapone and whisk again until the ingredients are combined
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they reach firm peaks. Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture with a metal spoon, making sure its thoroughly combined
Briefly dip half the sponge fingers in the lemon tea mixture and line a layer in a 9 x 12 inch dish. When you have a layer of dipped sponge fingers, spread this layer with one third of the lemon curd
Top this layer with half of the marscapone mix
Dip the remaining sponge fingers in the lemon tea mixture and lay on top. Spread this layer again with one third of the lemon curd
Top with the remaining marscapone mix, dot the top with the remaining lemon curd and then drag a knife through it to create a marbled effect
Cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours, or ideally overnight
I love Indonesian food and how brilliantly spiced, fresh and fragrant everything is. Rendang can be found across Indonesia, Malaysia and as far as Singapore. According to a CNN poll it was voted one of the most delicious foods of all time, and you’ll probably agree once you try it.
If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know about my love of Asian supermarkets. You can create a really good store cupboard at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a standard supermarket. So when you look at the list of ingredients and think when am I ever going to use things like tamarind paste, be brave and it will open up a whole realm of possibilities.
A good store cupboard means you can experiment with new flavours and will be able to whip new and interesting dishes without any drama.
Anyway, lecture over. This takes about 10 minutes effort at the start, and after that you leave it to cook long and slow for a couple of hours while you get on with something else (ideal weekend cooking). Because of the long slow cooking, this dish can transform cheap cuts of beef into something delicious. I had this made with duck when I was in Bali and it was delicious, but I definitely think beef works better. This is quite a dry curry so don’t worry if most of the liquid evaporates. If you think it’s getting to dry for you, just add a little water.
500 Grams Chuck Steak (chopped into bite sized chunks)
400 ml Coconut milk
1 Tbsp Tamarind paste
1 Tsp Salt
5-6 Kaffir lime leaves
2 Tbsps Vegetable or coconut oil
1 Tsp Brown sugar (palm sugar is used traditionally, but I didn’t have this)
1 Tsp Ground Coriander
1 Tsp Cinnamon
For the curry paste base
3 Onions (peeled and quartered)
3 Chillies (roughly chopped, and seeds removed if you prefer less heat)
6 Cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 Stalks of lemon grass (outer woody stalk removed and roughly chopped)
Thumb sized piece of ginger (peeled and rough chopped)
Thumb sized piece of galangal (peeled and roughly chopped). If you can’t find this you can substitute this with extra ginger
Load the ingredients for the curry paste base into a food processor and blitz until you have a reasonably smooth paste (it will smell great but your eyes might water due to the onions and chillies)
In a large pan with a lid heat the oil and add your paste. Cook for 5-10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally
Add the meat to the paste (you don’t need to brown it), and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly combined
Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook for two and a half hours, stirring occasionally. About 2 hours in, you may want to uncover the pan to help the liquid evaporate to help thicken and intensify the sauce
This is traditionally served with rice but it’s also great with flat breads. Like most curries I think this actually tastes better the next day.
I have vegetarian friends who scream at the thought of this, because it’s often the only vegetarian option available in restaurants.
I do sympathise, but done well there is a reason why some things are classics I understand that goats cheese is like kryptonite for some people, so I went with a really creamy soft cheese (that wasn’t too “goaty”), but this also works well cheeses like Gorgonzola.
Do you think you’re not keen on beetroot, I was an adult before I actually discovered that I liked it. I was put off by being made to try disgusting pickled beetroot as a child, and having horrible purple vinegar run into the other food on my plate. I’m probably over sharing my personal childhood trauma, but I know a lot of people have been put off for the same reason. When roasted, beetroot is sweet and earthy and goes really well with the soft cheese. I was lucky enough to get little beetroots in my farm box ranging in colour from gold, pink to deep purple, the range of colour is nice but they all taste the same, so give them a go.
150 Grams Soft goats cheese
200 Grams Roasted beetroot
200 Grams Salad leaves (I used rainbow chard, but use what you like)
25 Grams Walnut (Optional, I actually for forgot to add these, but they add some extra crunch to your salad)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp White wine vinegar
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees, wrap your beetroot in tin foil and place on a baking try. Bake until you can stick with a knife into the beetroot and an its soft. Set to one side and allow to cool, remove the skin with a knife, and cut into bite size pieces
Spread your washed salad leaves across a platter, top with the beetroot
Scoop teaspoon sized dollops of the cheese across the platter and sprinkle with walnuts if you are using them
Mix the oil and vinegar together and drizzle over the salad and serve immediately
This is inspired by a recipe I saw from Katie’s Cucina, and I knew I had to try. I’ve tweaked the proportions of her recipe but it’s pretty straight forward. The hardest thing about it will be not going back and forth to the freezer to “check it’s OK”.
It has only 3 ingredients, and doesn’t need all the faff most ice creams recipes involve, like needing stir it constantly or having to have an ice cream maker.
This tastes spectacular as it is, but teams really with anything chocolate related. Really the taste of toasted marshmallows is something else. This is definately a pure filth recipe. But there is always room for a little filth in your life.
200 Grams Mini marshmallows
250 ml Condensed milk
125 ml Double cream
Line an oven proof tray with tin foil and rub this with a thin film of oil
Turn on your grill to high, spread the marshmallows evenly across the tray
Put the tray under the grill and watch closely. You’re looking for toasted but not burnt, and this can happen in a matter of seconds if you don’t watch out
In a bowl with the cream and condensed milk together with an electric whisk until it thickens. You can use a stand mixer if you have one
Add the toasted marshmallows gradually (they’ll want clog up the whisk otherwise) and whisk at a medium speed until thoroughly mixed. You’ll see little flecks of brown from the toasted parts of the marshmallow but this where the flavour is.
Freeze for 8 hours (and do your best not to eat it all yourself)
I first had these a couple of years ago in Madrid. The Spanish have an incredibly civilised social life. When going out for the evening you can order plates of tapas to snack on while enjoying a cold beer or glass of wine. Most bars will give you a little snack or tapas if you order a drink, and each bar has their own specialty.
So with a little bar hopping you can taste some great food if you don’t fancy a big sit down dinner. The tapas also helps you slow down to enjoy your drink and is also meant to help line your stomach to help prevent you getting drunk (I honestly didn’t see a single drunk person on my nights out, so maybe they’re on to something)
These croquetas are made with ham, but this can also be substituted with a cheese like manchego, that has a good flavour. While these are a little bit fiddly, you’ll be rewarded with highly addictive tapas that you’ll love.
30 Grams Butter
2 Tbsps Olive Oil
1 Small onion (finely chopped)
70 Grams Serrano ham (finely chopped)
60 Grams Plain flour
Extra flour for coating
Breadcrumbs for coating
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a pan, and fry the onion over a gentle heat (so it doesn’t colour) until until translucent
When the onion is cooked add the butter
When the butter is melted, stir in the flour. Add the milk and stir continuously to make sure there are no lumps
The sauce will start to thicken, keep stirring and simmer until the sauce no longer tastes “floury”
Stir in the ham, and remove from the heat. Check the seasoning, I like to add a little black pepper, but because the ham is salty you shouldn’t need to add any. Place a layer of cling film on top of the sauce (it will stop a skin forming), and allow to cool
Separate out the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in different bowls
I usually take a good table spoon of the the cooled sauced mixture (which should now be firm), and roll in to a small oblong shape (wetting your hands is a good way to stock them getting sticky)
Once you have rolled all the cooled sauce mixture into little sausages, heat vegetable oil (I usually wait the oi is hot enough for a cube of bread to fry quickly, i know this is low tech but I don’t own a deep fat fryer)
While the oil is heating, roll the little sausage you made first in flour, then egg, and finally roll in the breadcrumbs
Once coated with breadcrumbs add the croquetta to the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes ensuring the brown on all sides (don’t add too many to the oil all at once)
OK, the name of this dish is maybe a bit flouncy, but this is a really tasty and colourful dish, so I decided to go a bit whimsical.
One of the few upsides of the whole pandemic is that hopefully people’s behaviour is changing. More and more people are trying to support small local businesses, to help sustain them and avoid the lines in supermarkets.
I’ve starting going back to my local butcher, and found that they offer great value meat parcels. Part of the meat parcel I bought contained sausages, and I had to think about what I could do with them that was a bit more exciting than a sausage sandwich.
While I love food I don’t think you have spend hours slaving away to eat well. This recipe needs about 5-10 minute prep time at the start, and then the oven does most of the work while you get on with your life.
500 Grams Sausages (whatever flavour you like)
500 Grams Butternut Squash (cut into 2 cm cubes)
2 Red peppers (cut into 2 cm chunks)
1 Large or 2 small courgettes (cut into 1 cm think slices)
2 Large red onions (each cut into 8)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
Add the oil to an oven proof dish, and then add the butternut squash and time to the dish and bake for 20 minutes
After 20 minutes remove the dish form the oven and add the other vegetables. Mix the vegetables to makes sure they are coated with the oil
Lay the sausages on top of the vegetables and bake for 20 minutes, give the vegetables and sausage another mix and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the sausage are browned. I like this served with crusty bread, but it also tastes good with mashed potatoes or rice.
If you’re wondering what remoulade is, the best way to describe it is a fresher, less gloopy, fancier version of coleslaw.
I’m trying to support local businesses and keep my food miles down (so I don’t feel guilty about my travel miles). So I ordered a vegetable box from a local farm. The vegetables were great, but in the middle of the box was celeriac. I had eaten it before but had never cooked with it.
I decided to make remoulade, because it’s a fantastic Summer dish. This is perfect with barbecued meats, but also goes really well with fish. For vegetarians it’s a great addition to salad bowls to add some tang and texture, I also like to use it sandwiches as alternative to coleslaw. This is quick and easy to make, and will in the fridge for 3-4 days.
200 Grams Celeriac (roughly grated)
1 Large apple (roughly grated with skin left on)
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp Grain mustard
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
Remove the course outer skin of the celariac, and grate along with apple before adding to a bowl
Cover the celeriac and apple with the lemon juice.
Stir in the mustard and mayonnaise until thoroughly combined, refrigerate if not eating immediately
Hi Folks, I think this week has seen everyone reach peak cabin fever and I’ve had loads of people in the last couple of weeks asking if I have plans to run any more supper clubs.
The answer is absolutely yes! I was really disappointing at having to cancel supper clubs I had scheduled during the lock down, but thankfully everyone working together has meant COVID 19 is in retreat.
If you’ve ever been to the supper club, you’ll know it’s cosy. Part of the ethos behind supper clubs is that everyone sits at a communal table, and this way you get to eat and chat with people you normally wouldn’t do this with. Usually supper clubs welcome mixes of couples, solo diners, and friends who enjoy good food and the chance to meet new people.
With this in mind, I have to wait until Public Health Agency guidance around social distancing says that its safe to run events like this. The last thing any of us wants to do is risk the health of others.
So, please be patient. Hopefully it won’t be long before we can enjoy getting out “out” again, speak to people we don’t know, and enjoying meals we haven’t had to shop, cook, and clean up after.
As soon as restrictions are lifted I’ll advertise details of the next date. If you have been to one of the pre lock down supper clubs I hope to see you again soon. If you haven’t been to one yet I promise some cracking nights ahead.
I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid, my Mum wasn’t a great cook (I love you Mo, but we both know the truth). Dessert in my house was usually shop bought, and when I was really young one of favourites was tinned creamed rice with a big spoonful of jam.
Fast forward God knows how many years, and I taught myself how to cook. I was also lucky enough to go out into the world and try some amazing flavours. So I decided to try and experiment with some of my favourites. Coconut, ginger and lemon grass gives a new twist on this traditional dessert.
I like this chilled and served with mango or pineapple, but it’s also really good warm, and you can enjoy it with whatever fruit you prefer.
I used milk in this recipe, but you can substitute some of this with cream if want to make a really indulgent dessert. If you want to make a vegan version, swap cow’s milk for almond milk. I’ve tried both versions and they’re both delicious.
400 ml Can Coconut milk
250 Grams Pudding rice
40 Grams Sugar
500 ml Milk
1 Large stalk of lemon grass (kept whole but bruised)
1 Thumb sized piece of ginger
Cut your piece of ginger in half length ways, then smack your lemon grass with the back of a knife (or pot if you want get some frustration out). Bruising the lemongrass helps release the flavour. The ginger and lemon grass are kept big to make it easier to fish out when the rice pudding is cooked
Put all the ingredients in a pot with a lid and heat until just before the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over a low heat stirring regularly. Each type of rice is different, so cook until the rice is soft. (mine took about 30 minutes). Different rices will absorb different amounts of liquid so if you think the mix is looking too dry add a little milk/water
When the rice is cooked you can scoop out the ginger and lemon grass. The rice pudding can be served hot or cold. I like it served with fruit
Any type of chocolate dessert is normally a winner. This pie is similar to a Kentucky Derby pie, I have left out the bourbon, and reduced the sugar because I found the original version overly sweet. The finished result is still rich and delicious and feels really indulgent.
This is divine served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If you’re short on time you can use shop bought pastry or even a pre-made pastry case.
(For the pastry case)
125 Grams Butter
200 Grams Plain flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
Pinch of salt
For the filling
125 Grams Butter (melted, and allowed to cool)
125 ml Golden syrup
200 Grams Brown sugar
50 Grams Plain flour
150 Grams Walnuts (roughly chopped)
125 Grams Dark chocolate (roughly chopped) or chocolate chips
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
For the pastry, add the butter, sugar and salt and flour to a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs, (you can use the old fashioned rubbing in method if you don’t have a food processor). Gradually add cold water until the mix comes together as a dough. Form into a ball and wrap in cling film and then chill in the fridge for 30 mins
Grease a 12 inch pie dish/tin, ideally one with removable base. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured surface or between two pieces of parchment paper until 1/2 cm thick (you can check the size by placing your tin the centre of the pastry and checking there is enough room to cover the depth of your tin)
Carefully transfer the pastry to the pie dish and gently ease the pastry into the edges, place in the fridge and chill for another 30 mins. Trim any excess pastry that hangs over the edge of your pastry case
Preheat your oven to 180 degree (Celsius), place a sheet of baking parchment in the prepared party case and add baking beans (I use old uncooked rice, rather than buying the fancy clay baking beans), Blind bake for 20 minutes and then remove the baking parchment and baking beans
For the filling mix, whisk the melted butter (make sure its cool), eggs and add the sugar, vanilla extract and golden syrup and whisk until it lightens in colour and increases in volume (the sugar should have dissolved)
Whisk in the flour, ensuring there are no lumps, and then fold in the chocolate and walnuts with a spatula
Pour the filling mix into the pastry case and bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes, until the centre of the pie is just starting to set (it will continue to cook as it cools)
Cool for a couple of hours before serving with whipped cream or ice cream
Traditional lasagne is pretty epic, but it does no harm try new versions of things and this is pretty amazing. This was a giant lasagna, but you can reduce the recipe if you need to make a smaller one.
1Kg Chicken Breast (cut into 2-3cm chunks)
500 Grams Mushrooms (roughly chopped)
50 Grams Dried Mushrooms
200 Grams Spinach
750 Mil Milk
75 Grams Butter
75 Grams Plain flour
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Oil
250 Grams Cheese (grated, I used a mix of mozzarella and Cheddar)
1 Tbsp Rosemary (chopped)
4-5 Cloves of garlic (crushed or finely chopped)
12 – 14 Lasagna dried sheets (the type that don’t need pre-cooked)
Before doing anything else, place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover with 350 mil of warm water
Add 1 table spoon of oil to a large high sided pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the chopped chicken and colour on all sides before removing from the heat and setting to one side
Add a second table spoon of oil to the pan and add the roughly chopped mushrooms, cook for around 10 minutes (don’t stir too often or they will start to release water)
Drain the dried mushrooms (keep the water they were soaked into one side as it will go into your sauce later)
Stir in the dried mushrooms and spinach to the pan with mushrooms (it will look like it won’t fit, but it quickly wilts down
To make the sauce, melt the butter, and add the crushed garlic to let it infuse and flavour the butter. Add the flour and stir well to make a loose paste
Over a medium heat, gradually whisk in the milk and a water the dried mushrooms were soaked in as this will be packed with flavour.
As the sauce starts to thicken, stir in the rosemary and salt and pepper (you can adjust the seasoning to your own taste). Cook the sauce out for a further 10 minutes, stir regularly until the sauce no longer tastes floury. The sauce should not be especially thick, so add more milk if you think it needs it.
Pre-heat you over to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a lasagna dish, ladle in enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish add about a third of the chicken and mushroom mix before topping with lasgna sheets. Repeat this on two more layers, making sure you ladle in liberal amounts of the sauce over the lasagna sheets
Top with grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes until deep golden brown Enjoy with salad and garlic bread
These are not mojitos in the true sense (I’m not really a fan of rum). But they are incrediblely refreshing, and a great Summer drink.
I make individual ones in a cocktail shaker (a great addition to your Amazon wish list if you don’t already have one). You can also increase the ingredients and make a big jug of these if you have friends round.
I have included the recipe for a simple syrup, but if you’re short on time you can buy this pre made. Make sure to have plenty of ice.
250 Grams Sugar
250 ml water
For the cocktail
1 Shot Simple syrup
1 Shot Gin
Soda or tonic water
To make the simple syrup, add the sugar and water to a pot and heat until the sugar was dissolved, set to one side and allow to cool
With a potato peeler shave ribbons of cucumber and add to a tall glass and top up with crushed ice.
Roughly chop a tablespoon of cucumber and add to a cocktail shaker along with 5 mint leaves and a wedge of lime. Muddle these in the shaker (this a fancy term for giving them a bit of a bash to release their flavour, I do this with butt of a wooden spoon, but use what you have)
Add a shot of gin and a shot of simple syrup to the shaker, along with a couple of ice cubes and shake for all you’re worth. If you are making a jug of these, then make sure to stir thoroughly
Pour into your prepared glass and top off with some tonic or soda water and a sprig of mint and wedge of lime if you’re feeling especially fancy