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
This might look like a lot of ingredients, but getting yourself a good spice cupboard opens up a world of food possibilities. Find a good Asian supermarket and you can do this much more cheaply than buying them from a big supermarkets.
My love for cheese that you can fry has been well documented on this blog. Add it to a fragrant and well spiced masala sauce and it’s a little slice of vegetarian heaven.
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Cardamon pods
2 Cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 Tsp Fennel seeds
3-4 cm Piece of ginger (grated)
1 Tsp Tumeric
1 Tsp Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Ground coriander
1 Tbsp Tomato puree
2 Tbsp Chopped coriander
Knob of butter
250 Grams Paneer ( cut into 2cm cubes)
2 Tbsp oil
In a large frying pan add the butter and fry the onion, then add the cinnamon, cardamon pods, cloves and fennel seeds
Cook for 5 minutes before adding the ginger and garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the turmeric, tomato puree and chilli and fry for another minute, and 250ml hot water
Bring the sauce to just before the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes
In a non stick frying pan, heat the oil and fry the paneer until browned on all sides
Add the paneer to the sauce and cook for another 10 minutes, allowing it to absorb the flavour.
Top with chopped coriander. Serve with rice or flat breads. This keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days
I first had this as a teenager when a school friend’s Mum made this one night when I was at their house. It was a taste revelation to me. Up until then I had only had corned beef (chipped beef in the US) in sandwiches.
I had the idea to make this when looking in a cupboard I found the strange shaped tin with the stupid little key and strange opening mechanism. Honestly, after all these years, why does corned beef have to be stored in these weird shaped tins. And don’t even start me about the stupid key thing you need to open it, that you cut yourself on every single time. I mean it, if anyone knows why this still happens please tell me.
Anyway, rant over. You can make this with ready made pasty if you want this to be super quick. I have included details for anyone who prefers to make their own pastry. It’s a good way to use up left over potatoes, and makes an easy inexpensive meal.
For the pastry
225 Grams Plain flour
100 Grams Butter (cut into cubes)
For the filling
300 Grams Potatoes (cooked)
1 Onion (finely sliced)
340 Gram Tin of corned beef
Salt and pepper
My hand are always really warm, so I’m not best suited to make pastry, this is part of the reason I add the flour and butter to a food processor and pulse until I get a mix that looks like bread crumbs (you can also use the traditional rubbing in method, but generally I’m too lazy for this).
When your mix looks like breadcrumbs, start by adding a little cold water at a time until the mix comes together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins. If you’re stuck for time or just can’t be bothered, it’s totally fine to use shop bought pastry
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Grease a 9 inch loose base cake/pie tin and set to one side, ready for your pastry
Remove your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it isn’t too stiff to roll out. While you wait on this, chop your onion finely, and cube your cooked potatoes (which should be cold), after you have wrestled your corned beef out of the tin and tried really hard not to scream f*ck at it, you should cube this as well
Mix the potatoes, corned beef, and onion together and season with salt and pepper
Put the pastry on a floured surface and cut approx 1/3 off and set to one side (this will be the lid for your pie)
Roll the remaining pastry out as thinly as possible, and make sure it’s big enough to fit your pie tin. Line the tin with the pastry, making sure that you have pushed into the edges
Put your corned beef mix into the lined pie dish, and then roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid. brush the edges of the pastry lining the tin with beaten egg and then place the lid on top. I press down the edged with a fork to make sure it’s sealed
Brush the pie with some more beaten egg (it will help it look pretty when it’s cooked) and add a couple holes to allow steam to escape. Place the completed pie on top of the baking sheet that has been heating in the oven (this help ensure the base if cooked).
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown
I love pork belly. If I go to a restaurant (remember those). I’m really predictable, if pork belly is on the menu that’s what I’m ordering.
If you haven’t tried it before, it’s pretty rich and can be fatty, but it’s also really tasty. I enjoy it, cooked long and slow, and then crisped up in the pan.
Pork belly lends itself particularly to Asian flavours. I like to marinade the pork, usually over night but at least for an hour.
This is really versatile, and freezes well. It’s great served with salad (if you’re following a keto or low carb diet), or sliced in sandwiches with coleslaw. Its also really good sliced and served with noodles. You can crisp it up on a barbecue instead of the pan for a delicious smokey flavour.
500 Grams Pork belly strips
2 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame oil
2 Tsp Chinese five spice powder
1 Tsp White wine vinegar (or what ever vinegar you have, just not something really strong like malt vinegar)
1 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)
Cut the pork belly into 2-3cm thick strips
Add the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and five spice powder, to an oven proof dish and mix.
Coat the pork strips with the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight (or for an hour at least)
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees, put the covered dish in to cook for 90 minutes,
Remove from the oven. Heat a frying, and add the pork to pan.
Crisp for a few minutes on each side, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds
This is the perfect salad for people who think they don’t like salads.
What makes it so good is the ranch dressing. I’m warning everyone in advance, this isn’t a salad for the diet conscious. Ranch dressing is rich and creamy and makes just about anything taste fantastic. It’s doubles as a dip, and is also fantastic in sandwiches with tortilla chips, chicken wings, or if you’re one of those people who like to dip their pizza, (FYI the Italians are horrified by this and have threatened to take pizza back if the rest of the world doesn’t behave itself. I won’t tell them if you don’t).
The salad hits all the bases, soft chicken, crispy salty bacon, sweet cherry tomatoes, and a rich creamy dressing. You can always use the shop bought ranch dressing if you don’t have time or the ingredients, but do yourself a favour and give it a try. This is great for anyone following low carb or gluten free diet.
For the salad
2 Cooked chicken breasts or chicken thighs (shredded or cut into cubes)
4 Rashers of streaky bacon (cooked until crispy and cut or crumbled into 2cm strips)
2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
Handful of cherry tomatoes (halved)
2 Handfuls of salad leaves
For the dressing
2 Tbsp Mayonaise (I use shop bought)
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
1/2 Tsp dried dill
1 Tsp Chopped parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried parsley)
1/2 Garlic powder
1 Tbsp Lemon juice/ or 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Milk to loosen the dressing to the consistency you like (for people following a keto diet they can use cream)
In a jar with a lid, add all the dressing ingredients except the milk/cream. Check the flavour and add salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
When you are happy with the seasoning add a little milk/cream to loosen the mixture and shake the jar. Check the consistency, and add more milk/cream if you want a runnier dressing
Combine all your salad ingredients and drizzle with the dressing before serving
The dressing will keep quite happily in a sealed jar in your fridge for 4-5 days
I never thought I would say it, but after weeks stuck at home. I was finally fed up with carbs.
The antidote was a quick and easy salad. I used tinned crab meat because it was what I had, but fresh or frozen would also work.
Like most salads, use what you have or what you like, I added nectarine because it’s what I had, but mango but would be great too. Lemon and tahini are great in dressings. I usually add garlic to this dressing mix, but left it out this time so that it wouldn’t overwhelm the delicate crab flavour. Fresh herbs like parsley or corriander would be great in this salad too.
1 Carrot (grated)
50 Grams Endame beans (frozen)
6 Radishes (sliced)
1/2 Avocado (cubed)
1 Nectarine (cubed)
145 Gran Tin of crab meat
2 Handfuls of rocket or other salad leaves.
For the dressing
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp Rapeseed oil
Salt and pepper
Add the tahini, oil, and lemon juice to a bowl. Mix well and season with sat and pepper, loosen with a little water if it’s too thick
Combine all the salad ingredients in large bowl, add the dressing and serve with crusty bread
Most people from Northern Ireland will remember grandparents trying to force dulse on them as a child. If you were lucky enough to escape this and don’t know what dulse is, it’s deep purple seaweed gathered around the coast of Northern Ireland (and other places too). As a child I found it too salty, and the long strands too chewy (I wasn’t a fan).
The reason most grandparents tried to make kids eat it is because it’s amazingly good for you. It’s jam packed full of iodine, calcium, potassium, and all sorts of vitamins and anti oxidants.
I know apart from the health benefits, I’m not really selling dulse as something you can cook with. However, like the big food nerd that I am, I went on a coastal foraging day last year which was amazing, and ended with a fantastic meal cooked by Celia Sponcer (brilliant local chef). She used different seaweeds as seasoning for breads like focaccia and they were delicious, so she inspired me to try this. Dulse provides a saltiness to dishes, but also a deeper flavour that reminds you of the ozone smell you get when you’re at the coast.
In Northern Ireland dulse is sold in most greengrocers, but if you aren’t able to get hold of it you can buy it online from a lot of health food retailers or online (because it’s so good for you).
This recipe calls for buttermilk, which i never have, so if you don’t have it use ordinary milk and the juice of half a lemon (the acidity from the buttermilk/lemon juice is needed to cause the chemical reaction that makes the bread rise).
If you can’t find dulse, or aren’t brave enough to try it, this still makes really delicious and healthy bread. If you’re not using dulse replace it with 1 teaspoon of salt. It’s great served with soups, but my favourite way to enjoy this is sliced with cheese.
375 Grams Wholemeal flour
75 Grams Plain flour
1 Level Tsp Bicarbonate Soda
2 Tbsp Dulse (finely chopped)
325-350 ml Buttermilk (or use ordinary milk with the juice of half a lemon added to it)
Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, dulse and baking powder to bowl
Stir in the butter milk/milk and lemon juice mixture until it’s s soft dough
Handle as little as possible, but make the dough into a ball
Turn onto a sheet of baking parchment
With a sharp knife, cut a cross (about one third of the depth of the dough) across the centre of the bread
Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 degrees for 45 minutes or until the base sounds hollow when you tap it
Like everyone else I’m trying to go out as little as possible at the moment. I took a craving for fajitas and didn’t have the chicken I would normally use, or tortillas.
What I did find in the fridge was halloumi, which worked brilliantly. The saltiness of the cheese is yummy with the sweet peppers and onions, with little kick of chilli heat. I didn’t have tortillas, but I substituted these with Carribbean flat breads, I made using a recipe provided by the fantastic Debbie at D Rum Pot. Fusion cooking by accident rather than design.
The fajitas take 5 minutes to prepare, before popping in the oven. You have a delicious meal in less than 30 minutes.
200 Grams Halloumi (cut into 1,1/2 cm strips)
1 Onion (sliced)
1 Red pepper (sliced)
1 Yellow pepper (sliced)
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Smoked paprika (I used the hot version, but if you are using sweet paprika then use a 1/2 teaspoon, and add a 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
Add the spices and oil in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
Add the chopped vegetables and halloumi, to the oil and spices and mix until coated
Transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes (or until the halloumi is golden brown)
I’ll start by apologising in advance to the Balinese people (undoubtedly the loveliest nation in existence). When I visited Bali previously I loved the national dish of Nasi Goreng. This is a dish of fried rice, vegetables and sometimes chicken or fish, topped with a fried egg. I’ve made the vegetarian version. I know what I’ve made isn’t 100% authentic but was the best I could do with the ingredients I had. So apologies again to the Balinese nation, but it still tasted really good.
I had dreamt of visiting Bali this year, but since Covid 19 s*it all over that plan, this is my way of recalling happier times.
This is often eaten as a breakfast dish, but can be eaten at any time of the day. The real version would have galangal. I didn’t have this, but used ginger I had in the freezer which worked well.
What makes this really tasty is the Kecap Manis, this is a thick sweet type of soy sauce used widely used in Indonesian cooking.
I’ve shown what I used for one serving, but you can increase the quantities if you’re making this for more people.
1 Cup of cold cooked white rice
1/2 Onion (finely sliced)
1 Carrot (grated)
Handful of finely sliced cabbage
1 Clove of garlic (finely sliced)
2 cm Piece of ginger (grated)
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Kecap manis
Heat the oil in a pan, and add the vegetables, cook until softened slightly
Add the garlic, ginger and rice, and continue to fry until thoroughly heated
Stir in the kecap manis, and plate up, and top with a fried egg
I’ve loved moussaka ever since I first tasted it. But it can be very rich, so this version even though it’s still packed with protein is a little lighter.
This is based around a Jamie Oliver recipe and it’s proper comfort food. I added some roast red peppers, as I think it brings a little bit more freshness to it. There’s still enough cheese to make it still taste decadent.
The only draw back is that this is a time consuming recipe. I usually wait to make this at the weekend when I have more time, but it’s worth the time and effort, and tastes so much better than some gloopy supermarket version. This is also a great dish if you have a group of people to cook for.
4 Roasted red peppers (I used a jar of red peppers to save time)
500 Grams Potatoes
2 Tins Chopped tomatoes
2 Tins Chick peas
1 Sprig Rosemary
1 Small bunch of sage
100 Grams Green lentils, boiled until soft (or 1 can of lentils)
2 Onions, sliced
400 Grams Feta cheese
50 Grams Butter
50 Grams Plain flour
25 Grams Parmesan (or other strong, hard cheese)
Salt and Pepper
Heat your oven to 200 degrees, peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm slices. Rub the potatoes with a little olive oil, place on baking trays and bake until tender and golden brown
Peel strips into the aubergines, and then cut into 2 cm rounds before sprinkling with salt and leaving to drain a colander for an hour
Wipe off any excess moisture and the salt, and sprinkle the aubergines with a little olive oil and place on baking trays and bake in the oven until tender, just as you did with the potatoes
Add 1 Tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and add the onions and herbs to pan. Cook gently until the onions have softened (I keep the herbs on the stem so that they are easier to fish out of the sauce later.
Add the cooked/tinned lentils and chick peas to the pan along with the tinned tomatoes. Simmer over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened, check the season and add salt and pepper if necessary
When the vegetables have finished roasting and the sauce is ready, it’s time to start assembling the dish
Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a large oven proof dish, then top this with a layer of the cooked potatoes and crumble over some of the feta cheese. Top this with another layer of sauce and then add a layer of roasted peppers sprinkle with some of the feta cheese. Top again with the sauce and add the cooked aubergines and any left over feta
To top this you will need to make a white sauce, in a medium sized saucepan, melt your butter over a medium heat, then stir in the flour to make a smooth paste. Continue to stir as you add the milk (if you find that you are getting lumps there is no shame in breaking out a whisk to beat the living daylights of the sauce to get rid of rid of them).
The sauce will start thicken as it heats, so continue stirring and reduce the heat and allow to cook for another 5 minutes or until the sauce no longer tastes “floury”. Add the grated hard cheese and mix well
Top the layers of vegetables and with the white sauce and bake at 200 degrees for 30-40 minutes of until all bubbly, brown and delicious
I couldn’t decide between menus for the next supper club, so I put it to a vote on Facebook. For a week or two the French menu had a strong lead, but got pipped at the post by the Italian menu. So thanks to everyone who voted.
February’s supper club sold out weeks in advance so remember to book early.
The menu for the 21st March will be
Starter – Gnocchi with Hazelnut Pesto
Main – Chicken Marsala, (Vegetarian Option-Aubergine Parmesan), Italian Salad, Homemade Italian Bread
Dessert – Tiramisu
The ethos behind the Supper Club is simple. Everyone eats the same menu at a communal table, with the chance to meet new people, chat and enjoy a bit of craic.
We greet everyone with a welcome drink in front of an open fire and you’ll enjoy 3 courses for only £25 (with a little treat or two). We’re also BYO.
I’ve always steered away from cooking fish. The honest reason is that I was never really sure how to. Growing up, my dear sainted mother was an awful cook (sorry Mo, but you are). She would cook fish until it had no flavour and was like a piece of cardboard.
I’m lucky enough to live on an island with amazing sea food, which it turns out we mostly export. I’m convinced the reason for this is that most of us don’t know how easy it is to cook, so we avoid it.
As a birthday present, I was given a voucher for Belfast Cookery School. They have a fantastic range of classes, but I decided to up my fish skills.
The class cost £60 for 3-4 hours, and is in central Belfast with about 10-12 people in each class. Staff are friendly and welcoming and the class includes a welcome drink and tea/coffee throughout the class.
Once settled in, Ian our chef expertly demonstrated how to fillet and skin both flat fish (brill), and round fish (salmon). He also gave members of the class a chance to try this as well.
I love squid/calimari in restaurants, but they always looked a bit like aliens in the fish market, (I’ll admit I was intimidated). We were shown how to prepare squid, and make one of my all time favourite seafood dishes, salt and chilli squid. Which once you know how to deal with squid, is surprisingly straight forward.
We all got to sample some of the demonstrated dishes, the brill cooked in a beurre noisette (browned butter), and salmon with caponatta (slow roasted red pepper, onion, tomato and garlic).
After trying all these we were shown the the dishes we would be cooking by ourselves. First was mussels cooked with fennel, cream and white wine. Again, super delicious and pretty straight forward once you know what to do.
The second dish was cod topped with herbed breadcrumbs, served on top of a shellfish ragu (fancy name for a stew), topped with a Dublin Bay prawn. It turns out they aren’t prawns at all, but micro lobster, 90% of which are shipped abroad.
The whole class was excellent, and I have now faced my fear of fish. I may even break out my newly gained fish skills at a future supper club. Everything we ate and cooked was beyond delicious and I left unable to eat another bite and in serious danger of slipping into a food coma. I’ll definately go back to the school, but they are currently so popular they’re booked up months in advance. It’s definitely worth the wait, so check them out.
Christmas is over, January is the longest month ever, and it seems like a long time until anything good is going to happen again. The Supper Club costs £25 per person, for 3 delicious courses, as well as a welcome drink and some extra treats, (drinks are BYO). Details of how to book are shown below, and all payments are protected by PayPal.
February Supper Club
Welcome drink, and 3 courses meal (plus a couple of treats)
Why not come along to the Sunnyside Supper Club, and try something new
This month’s theme will be Greek food. Our ethos of the supper club is simple, good food, great craic and the chance to meet new people. Mainly because we were sick of the sight of all the people we already knew.
Previous supper club guests have been a mix of couples, solo diners, and friends who wanted to try something different. We get an eclectic mix of people from the very young at heart 60s, through to foodies in their 20s
Everyone eats at a communal table, and shares the menu shown below. We’ll meet you in front of a roaring fire with a welcome drink, and we’re BYO. Details of how to book via PayPal are shown below.
February Supper Club
Book now to secure your place at February's Supper Club
1st February 2020, Supper Club Menu
Starter – Greek meze (small sharing plates of dips, salads and flat breads).
Main Course – Beef stifado, (vegetarian option moussaka), herbed rice, and roast vegetables
Dessert – Flourless orange and almond cake, poached oranges, Greek yoghurt or ice cream.
Let us know in advance if you are gluten intolerant, or vegan and we can be sure to have something delicious for you.
Christmas eve is a strange day, and kids especially are over excited and bored. A bit of Christmas baking keeps them occupied. Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a nice way to get into the Christmas spirit, and your house will smell fabulous.
Many years ago I lived in Germany, where I was introduced to the crack cocaine of all Christmas baking, the snickerdoodle.
These are soft, chewy, buttery little cookies that are rolled in sugar and cinnamon before going to the oven. While in the oven the sugar and cinnamon melts and crisp up around the already delicious cookie.
I sincerely apologise in advance for any weight gained as a result of these cookies. I know there is a lot of butter and sugar, but it is Christmas after all ( these are delicious at any time of year though, and work really well as a base for a scoop of vanilla ice cream too)
Please do try them though, they smell absolutely heavenly, and you can always off load the extras (as if), on friends and family. These live very happily in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
For the cookies
370 Grams Plain flour
2 Tsp Baking powder
230 Grams Butter
1/2 Tsp Salt
300 Grams Caster Sugar
For the coating
50 Grams Caster sugar
1 Tbsp Ground cinnamon
Add the flour, salt and baking powder to a bowl
In a separate bowl beat the softened butter, and sugar for 2 minutes or until light and sluff
Add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla, then add the flour mix gradually.
When all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined, chill in the fridge for an hour to allow the dough to firm up
After an hour take mix out of the fridge, and mix the sugar and cinnamon for the coating together in a small bowl
Make small balls of cookie dough about the size of a walnut. Roll in the sugar mix
Place the balls if cookie dough on baking parchment on a cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200 degrees. Make sure to give them plenty of room to spread od else they stick together
Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for another 10 minutes
I love shortbread, but I had horrendous flashbacks of trying make it in Home Economics class in school. It was a nightmare to roll out, stuck to the counter top, and was impossible to cut out and transfer to the tin neatly.
All this changed, when I discovered this recipe from the amazing women who run the The Edible Flower, in Ballyinahinch. This recipe is incredibly easy, doesn’t need to be rolled out, and is easy to cut into neat fingers for serving. These also make lovely little gifts if you fancy them up in a nice bag, or tin.
315 Grams Butter
350 Grams Self raising flour
120 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to dust the finished shortbread with)
120 Grams Corn flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsps Cinnamon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
Press the dough into a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin. You can smooth the top with a palette knife if you want it completely smooth, but don’t worry if you don’t
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people
Our February supper club featuring Greek cuisine has sold out.
Now we’re wondering what you would like to see at the 21st March supper club.
We can’t decide if we should go for a French or Italian theme for our menu, so we’re asking you to help us decide.
Starter – French onion soup, with French bread and Gruyere crouton
Main – Coq au vin (Veg option, Mediterranean vegetable gallete), potatoes dauphinois, green beans
Dessert –Tarte au chocolat
Starter –Gnocchi with hazelnut pesto
Main – Chicken Marsala, (Veg option aubergine parmesan), Italian bread, mixed salad
Dessert – Tiramisu
You can vote for your favourite menu by leaving a comment or taking part in our Facebook poll. If there are other food themes you’d like us to maybe try out on future supper clubs let us know.
Supper clubs are a great way to enjoy good food, meet some new people and have a bit of craic. Cost is £25 per person for 3 courses and some little extras, including a welcome drink, drinks are BYO.
Try something new in the new year!
Each night consists of a 3 course meal (plus a couple of little treats), all served at a communal table, with the chance to meet and chat to new and interesting people. All guests are met with a welcome drink, and then it’s BYO, and costs £25 per person
Istanbul wasn’t super high on my list of places to visit. But, I was lucky enough to meet and have dinner a few months ago, with the super lovely Angie Ibarra, an experienced travel blogger, https://travelmoments.net During a great night with maybe too much wine I asked her, up to that point where was the favourite place she had visited. Her immediate answer was Istanbul. Since then, loads of people have told me the same thing, you have to go.
I’m a total history nerd, (I’m not even sorry) and Istanbul has oodles of it. Dating back nearly 3000 years, the city has been seat to the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Istanbul is unique in that it is split between two continents (half the city sits in Asia, the other in Europe, and the two halves are separated by the river Bosphorus). Being in such a sweet spot, Istanbul has been a meeting point of countless cultures. The city has trading links with Egypt and China going back two millennia and is still a major trading hub. Sites such as the Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque are within walking distance of each other. The first two could easily take a day each, if you wanted to take your time.
This prime location has also meant it has changed hands various times. The Roman emperor Constantine when he converted to Christianity set up the city as his “new Rome”, and you can still see examples of Roman architecture and engineering throughout the city. Istanbul then became centre of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and seat of the new Byzantine empire.
The 15th century saw the rise of the Ottoman empire. Ahead of it’s time in relation to architecture, medicine and the arts, Istanbul continued to be a thriving multicultural metropolis.
I was really impressed by the modern Istanbul, but given political tensions in the area there was a heavy security presence in popular areas. When out shopping in one of the modern shopping areas near Taksim Square (think Oxford Street in London), I was a bit alarmed when I saw police unloading riot shields (being from Belfast, this usually doesn’t bode well). However I was pleasantly surprised, when the demonstration that started was a large, pretty energetic and good natured Feminist rally. Turkey is a secular state, but the country is still mainly Muslim and quite traditional.
Depending on how much time you have, try to visit different neighbourhoods like Galata, or take the ferry across the Bosphorus to Kadikoy. Each has a different personality and great places to shop and eat.
Istanbul is still a cultural melting pot and draws in people from outside. I met people from Azerbaijan, Morocco and Armenia who for various reasons have decided to live there. By my second day I kept seeing guys with hairbands and surgical dressings taped to the back of their heads. Totally perplexed as to the reason, the penny finally dropped. Apparently Istanbul is the place to go for guys wanting hair transplants at a fraction of the price they’d pay in Europe.
The city has a good cheap public transport network, and it’s worth investing in the IstanbulKart (a multi use card that can be topped up in various location). You’ll see astonishing places, and meet great people. In the interests of good travel karma if you have credit left, and aren’t planning on returning very soon, be nice and pass it on to a local or fellow traveller, same goes for your museum card. Give Istanbul a try, you’ll love it.
Sorry this event is now sold out. We still have places available at our 21st March Supper Club, and we’d love to see you
Ever wondered what to buy some of the people in your life. Is it better to have experiences in life rather than clutter. Why not buy someone a cracking night out.
Well December will be busy and stressful, January will be crap due to the whole shi**y weather and being broke thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to start February with a slap up meal and the chance to share dinner with a few new people who might be a bit of craic?
February’s supper club will be on the 1st of the month. We’re going Greek!
It may be baltic outside, but the food inside will hopefully transport you to sunnier climes. Greek food has great fresh flavours, and is tasty while still being fairly heathly.
We’ll have the fire lit and a drink to welcome you when you arrive. (We’re BYO)
Everyone eats the same 3 course meal (plus a couple of treats) at a communal table. So you have the chance to meet your fellow diners, and have a bit of craic. We also welcome for vegetarian/vegans, just let us know in advance so we can be sure we have something delicious for you. This menu is also mainly gluten free (and we can adapt things if you have problems with gluten, just let us know before hand).
Greek meze – Small sharing plates, think Greek tapas
Beef stifado (vegetarian option, moussaka)
Spanakorizo (herbed rice)
Flourless orange and almond cake, poached oranges, Greek yoghurt
Throwback from last year’s visit. This time of year makes me wish I was back there.
When a friend heard I was going to Hong Kong, she said “you’ll love it, it’s like New York on crack”. She wasn’t wrong. We arrived after a 12 hour flight in sweltering heat and humidity, to be told that our hotel room wouldn’t be ready for another 7 hours! Exhausted and unable to cope with the heat we trawled around Kowloon for a couple of hours before we decided go back and embarrass the hotel clerk into giving us a room by hanging about a tiny lobby sweating profusely and looking like a pair of extras from night of the living dead. Hey Presto, we got a room within 10 minutes, (sometimes looking like a sweaty mess just pays off).
After a much needed power nap and shower we left to explore Hong Kong properly. If you’ve ever watched Blade Runner this is what night time Hong Kong will remind you of. Lots of neon and hustle and bustle.
Luxury shopping is a big thing and its seems there is Patek Phillipe or Rolex shop on every street. Hong Kong is what’s referred to as an Alpha+ city, due to it’s financial influence and has more ultra high net worth individuals living there than any city in the world. Unfortunately I’m not among these ranks, but the city has something for every budget. The Temple Street night market and ladies market are good choices, but be prepared to haggle.
Hong Kong has some of the most expensive real estate in the world, and outstrips even Manhattan. The average family apartment is smaller than a domestic garage. For this reason a lot of residents choose to eat out in the mind boggling array of cheap restaurants and street food outlets. I’m pretty adventurous in my eating but there were a few thing I said no to. Tripe (the spongy lining of a cow’s stomach) is a big thing that I had to pass on. However among the best food I ate was at a dicey looking whole in the wall near my hotel. After a long day sight seeing I just wanted something quick and sitting on little stools that look they came from a kindergarten I got huge bowl of soup with wantons for about £2. The woman who brought it gestured at me to try the condiments with it (chilli sauce and another sauce that smelt awful but worked when it was in the soup), my napkin was a roll of toilet paper! it was fabulous.
Hong Kong is diverse and densely populated, to get everyone one where they need to go, the city has one of the best public transport systems I’ve ever seen. As soon as you arrive, invest in an Octopus Card. These can be used to pay for everything from ferries, some taxis, trains, buses, and paying for purchases in convenience stores at metro stations, and you can top them up at any metro station. I know it sounds like I’m geeking out, but the public transport was amazing, cheap, fast and clean.
Exciting as the city is fantastic, but sometimes the heat and the crowds can be exhausting. When you need to recharge you batteries seek out a little oasis of calm like the Nan Lian Garden and Chi Lin Nunnery.
The gardens are in the Diamond Hill district and covers 3.5 hectares, in a city with so many people this place provided some much needed chill out space away from the frenetic energy of the rest of central Hong Kong. The gardens are landscaped in line specif rules and methods, and no tree, rock, or plant is there by accident.
The Chi Lin Nunnery located within the gardens, is a series of elegant wooden structures made up of temples, and prayer halls lining courtyards with expertly pruned bonsai gardens and calming pools. Despite being slap bang in one of the world’s hubs of cut throat capitalism, it has a really gentle vibe, and is beyond beautiful.
If you can spare the time I’d recommend spending a day vising the garden and nunnery. If you do there are a couple of different options if want to eat or drink. The tea house is beautiful but is expensive even by Hong Kong standards. The staff are lovely and will take time to explain the different teas, and show you how to brew it correctly. We spent much more than expected here, but in fairness it was our mistake for not reading the tea menu correctly (be careful). A much better option is to go for the set lunch at the garden’s restaurant. Like with the Po Lin monastery, it’s a set vegan lunch made up of several dishes. One of which was monkey head fungus, I know what your thinking (doesn’t sound too appetizing), but it turned out to be delicious. The best food I had in Hong Kong was at these temple restaurants. Go visit these places and try the food, or just enjoy a little bit of chill before going back out into the world.
I’m guilty of falling into food ruts, making the same thing or using the same ingredients. The great thing about Summer is that so many gorgeous vegetables like broad beans come into season.
Yes it is a bit more fiddley to shell the beans, but it’s a good job to do while chatting in the phone or even better if you have kids, little fingers are made for jobs like this.
As a kid I wasn’t a fan of broad beans. I’d only ever had them with the tough whitish green slightly bitter layer left on and boiled to within an inch of their life. Fast forward and while visiting a friend her Mum made this dish. With the outer layer removed the beans are sweet and tender. Add a mint dressing and you have a really light Summery salad. This is also great in wraps and sandwiches.
1Kg Grams Broad beans in pods
2 Tbsp Oil (I used rapeseed oil, but any neutral tasting oil will do)
1 Tbsp White wine or cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Fresh mint (finely chopped) or 1 Tbsp dried mint
Remove the broad beans from their pods, and then peel off the whitish outer coating. This will show the tender green bean inside, gently pull the two halves apart
Once you have shelled all the beans, blanche in boiling water for 1 minute and then transfer quickly to a bowl of cold water (this will help keep them bright green
Add your oil, vinegar and mint to a large bowl and stir, add the beans and make sure they are well coated
Season with salt and pepper if you feel it needs it
Do you hate washing dishes? me too. What I do love are simple one pot recipes that you can throw in the oven and forget about.
If you haven’t come across orzo before, its a type of pasta that looks like big fat grain of rice. I discovered it by accident ages ago when I wasn’t concentrating in the supermarket and thought it was rice. It’s fantastic in soups and stews because it’s smaller than other pastas, but you can treat it like normal pasta.
You can tweak this dish to suit what you have in the fridge. I used thyme and dill because I had some in my window box, but use what herbs you like. The thyme, dill and lemon gives it a really nice flavour that reminds me of Greek dishes.
1 large, or 2 small chicken thighs per person (I use ones with skins on and on the bone but boneless ones are fine too)
2 Stalks of celery
350 Grams Orzo (dry weight)
800 ml Chicken or vegetable stock
2 Lemons (juice of one lemon, and the other sliced)
2 Tbsp Herbs (I used dill and thyme)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and heat an oven proof dish on your stove top before adding the chicken thighs
Seal the chicken on each side, and then remove the thighs and set to one side.
Add the vegetables (chopped into 2cm chunks) to the pan (if using skinless thighs, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan) and fry gently for 5 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed
Add the orzo, lemon juice and stock to the pan and stir well to make sure any delicious chicken brown bits from the bottom of the pan are stirred into the stock
Place the chicken back into the dish and top with the slices of lemon and herbs.
Cover the dish and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes
Everyone loves Mexican food, and while I make no claims that someone from Mexico would say this is just like their Mum would make, I think it tastes amazing. If you like pulled pork but never thought of trying it at home, you should give this a go. It really is simplicity itself, all you need is time, so perfect for the weekend when you kick back or get on with other things while the oven does all the work for you.
I love this in tacos but you can add it to burritos or sandwiches. While this does take some time, it’s a simple recipe and is ideal to feed a group of people cheaply. I used pork shoulder which is inexpensive and really benefits from being marinated and cooked long and slow.
1 Kg Pork shoulder
100 ml Orange juice (I used the juice of 2 oranges)
1 Tbsp Tomato puree
1 Tsp Oregano
1 Tsp Chilli powder
2 Tsp Smoked paprika
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Ground Coriander
1 Tsp Minced Garlic
Cut your pork into 4 chunks
In a sealable freezer bag add all the other ingredients and squish together to make sure they are well mixed
Add the pork to the bag and seal, rub the bag to make sure the marinade covers the pork and then put in the fridge. If you can marinade this for 24 hours this is ideal. If you don’t have that sort of time try to marinade for least an hour
Pre-heat your oven to 160 degrees (Celsius). Put your pork and the marinade in an oven proof dish with a lid and place in the oven for 3.5 hours.
Remove from the oven and shred the meat with two forks and mix in with the cooking juices for super tasty pulled pork
Like everyone else I have been binge watching TV series during lockdown and had got back into Dexter, and an episode put Key Lime Pie back in my head.
The pie is usually made with a digestive biscuit (graham cracker) crumb base, but I’ve made mine with an Oreo crumb base mainly because I just like the contrast in colour (please don’t be tempted to add green food colouring the lime layer) . I’ve also added a whipped cream topping which you can leave out if you don’t like creamy desserts. A traditional pie apparently never had cream because it was difficult get and keep cream fresh in the Florida Keys where the pie originally came from. I also used supermarket own of Oreos which worked out to be much cheaper. Some places sell ready made Oreo pie cases, so if you’re short on time you could also use one of these.
Feel free to revert to the original pie, but I’ve only ever had thumbs up for this version. It’s really good as a dessert that you can make a head and take out of the fridge when you are ready to serve, or treat yourself and enjoy a slice with your afternoon coffee.
For the Crust
400 Grams Oreos
70 Grams Butter (melted)
For the Filling
1 x 397 Can of Condensed milk
3 x Egg yolks
4 x Limes (juice and zest)
300 ml Fresh Cream (whipped)
1 Tbsp Icing sugar
Extra Lime zest to decorate
Add the Oreos to a food processor and whizz until you have fine crumbs. I had to do this in 2 batches but it will depend on the size of your processor. Transfer the crumbs to large bowl and stir in the melted butter. Pre heat your oven 180 degrees (Celsius)
Line the base of a 21-22 cm spring form cake tin with baking parchment and grease the sides of the tin with butter.
Pour the Oreo mix into the tin and with a glass or the back of a spoon press the crumbs up the sides of the tin, until there is a crust of around 4-5cm. Make sure the base is well covered too. Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool
Add 3 egg yolks to a bowl or mixer and whisk until the yolks lighten in colour and increase in volume
Add the condensed milk, and lime juice and zest and whisk for 2-3 minutes
Pour the filling into the cooled pie base and bake at 160 degrees (Celsius) for 15 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool
When the pie is completely cool, whisk the cream and icing sugar together until it forms soft peaks. Spread over the top of the baked pie and add some finely grated lime zest for a finishing touch
Do you ever get a bit over zealous when shopping and have stuff hanging about the fridge that you forget about. I do this more often than I should. I recently found a tub of cherry tomatoes that I had forgotten about and were starting to go a bit soft. I decided to cook these long and slow and they tasted fantastic.
I used these as a side dish, but they would be fantastic stirred into some freshly cooked pasta, or served cold in salads or on some crusty bread with some soft cheese. These are every bit as tasty as sun-dried tomatoes. I made quite a small batch of these (because it was a small tub of tomatoes), but I’m definitely going to make bigger batches next time. These can live in your fridge for 3- 4 days in an air tight jar.
250 Grams Cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 Tsp salt
2 Cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
3-4 Sprigs of thyme or 1/2 Tsp dried thyme
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
Place all the ingredients on a baking sheet and mix well to ensure the tomatoes are coated in the oil. Bake for 20 minutes
Reduce the heat to 140 degrees and cook for a further 30-40 minutes, until the tomatoes start to look wizened up and starting to char
I love super simple recipes, that don’t require dozens of ingredients or loads of time.
This is really simple and delicious and is perfect as a lunch to share or as a sharing starter. You can cut the feta into smaller pieces if you prefer to make these single serving.
The hazelnuts should be kept fairly chunky (I crushed these in a mug with the base of a rolling pin to stop them rolling all over a cutting board). I also like a light drizzle of honey at the end, as I think its a nice contrast against the saltiness of the feta, serve it with salad and some crusty bread.
200 Gram Feta/Greek salad cheese
40 Grams Hazlenuts
4-5 Sprigs Thyme/1/2 Tsp Dried thyme
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Honey (Optional)
Take the cheese out of the fridge about 30 minutes before your plan to bake it (if you forget to do this its no biggy), pat dry with kitchen paper and rub with the oil. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius)
Coat both sides of the cheese with the crushed hazelnuts and thyme, move to an oven proof dish and bake for 20 minutes or until the hazelnuts and toasted and brown
Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey (if honey isn’t your thing don’t worry it will still be delicious)
It’s barbeque season and although I do love meat, the side dishes can take your barbeque to a whole other level.
I first had this years ago in a restaurant with barbecued pork and I fell in love. It’s one of those Summery side dishes that goes with pretty much every thing. I use it in wraps, in salad and rice bowls and could eat a bowl of it on its own.
I use fresh pineapple in this recipe, but if you can’t find it, canned pineapple will also work. This takes 5 minutes to make, but I like to leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the acid in the pineapple to help soften the raw onion flavour which works well. You can leave the out or increase the chilli depending on your taste.
500 Grams Pineapple (cut into 2cm chunks)
1/2 Red pepper (cut into 2 cm chunks)
1 Red chilli pepper (seeds removed and finely sliced)
1/4 Red onion, or 2-3 scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)
2 Tbsp Coriander (mint also works well)
Juice of 1/2 Lime
In a bowl combine all the ingredients and stir well. Chill for 30 mins before serving.
This will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 3-4 days