Friday 23 July 2010

Corn cakes with buckwheat and basil

A very filling lunch brimming with flavours

I love corn. Love love love it. These corn cakes are fat little gems fried on a hot pan and bulging with awesomeness. I have used buckwheat flour here (it makes them very filling and more like a proper meal) but you can use regular flour if you want. The best thing you can do to these lovelies is hit them with a bit of real butter once they come off the pan and let it melt in. It makes all the difference.

Ingredients: (makes about 10 cakes)

- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- Tsp baking powder
- Tsp salt
- 2 cups corn kernels (fresh/ thawed from frozen/ tinned)
- 1/4 cup chopped basil

- Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and gradually add in the eggs and milk. Whisk together well to make sure there are no lumps.
- If using tinned sweetcorn, drain it and rinse it really well to get the sugary brine off the kernels as much as possible.
- Add the corn and basil to the batter and stir well.
- Put some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until it's hot but not smoking. Use 1/4 cup of batter per cake (or just over a tablespoon) and pour batter into the hot oil. The batter will be very thick. Cook for 2 mins or so, until the edges of the corn cake are dry, and flip them over for another min or two of cooking.
- Remove from the pan and rub a little butter over the top of each cake.
- EAT! For the love of jehovah, eat these lovely things!

Monday 5 July 2010

George Pig birthday cake

Happy birthday!

Here are some shots of the cake I made this week for my nephew's 3rd birthday party. He loves the cartoon Peppa Pig, particularly George Pig who never goes anywhere without his toy dinosaur. The inside is chocolate brownie cake and it went down well with the sugar-high kids at the party. I loved making this cake, it was a lot of fun. After we cut the cake I glimpsed my nephew gnawing on one of George Pig's eyeballs and he looked delighted. Success!

Thursday 17 June 2010


Eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce

Shakshuka is a dish which originates from North Africa and is now popular all over the Middle East. It is easy to make, good for your belly, really delicious and very filling. We served with toasted pitta bread but it would also go well with rice or even pasta.

Ingredients: (serves 2 - 3)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 red chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 courgette, diced
- 2 tins tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 eggs
- Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Handful feta cheese
- Salt, pepper
- Pitta bread

- Heat a good glug of olive oil in a wide, shallow pan and cook together the onions and chilli for about 5 mins, until softened and starting to colour.
- Add in the garlic, courgette, paprika and cumin and cook for another 3 mins.
- Pour in the two tins of tomatoes and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Add two-thirds of the chopped parsley and 1/2 cup water and simmer for approx half an hour until thickened and reduced, like so:

- Break an egg into a cup and gently pour it on top of the tomato sauce. Repeat for the other eggs (spread them out over the surface of the sauce) and put a lid on the pan. Cook for approx 10 mins until the eggs are cooked through, less if you want gooey yolks.
- Top with crumbled feta and the remaining parsley, and serve with toasted pittas.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Crunchy coffee bars

A nice alternative to a biscuit. Also, they're bigger!

I wanted to get some work done on my thesis today so I convinced myself that I 'needed' some 'study treats'. I didn't take much convincing so I decided to give these a go. I had read a recipe online for toffee coffee bars and it looked pretty good; I made a few small changes and the result was pretty tasty. I was hugely confused when the original recipe instructed me to put exposed chocolate directly into the oven - wouldn't it burn? The answer is yes, yes it would. Caught it in time and covered the baking tin to stop the chocolate spoiling. I'm guessing there is some ingredient in American chocolate chips (which the original recipe called for) that makes them more resistant to the heat of an oven. I used chopped German chocolate (a mix of 70% and milk) and it did NOT like being in the oven. Anyway, I recommend cooking the base separately and then drizzling melted chocolate on top when it has cooled. That's what I would do the next time.

- 4 oz butter, softened
- 1 cup soft brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- Pinch salt
- 2 cups flour
- I cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

- Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until lighter and fluffier.
- Add the baking powder and salt and mix.
- If your coffee granules are quite coarse, put them in a pestle and mortar and grind them into a powder. Add this to the mixture.
- Add the flour and work it through (this takes some effort) until you have a crumbley 'dough' - a bit like a shortbread.
- Dump this crumbley mixture into a greased baking tray and press it down well.
- Bake at 160 (fan) or 180 (conventional) celcius for approximately 15 minutes until it has darkened slightly. Don't be nervous if it hasn't hardened - it will be really soft until it comes out and has fully cooled.
- Allow to cool in the tray for ten mins or so, then cut into squares and leave to cool on a wire rack.
- Melt the chocolate and drizzle generously over the squares. Serve to your friends and siblings as bribes.

Cauliflower soup with a hint of cheese 'n' onion

Wowzers. This is seriously good soup.

Some mornings I wake up and my body immediately tells me what I want to eat that day. Today I arose from slumber thinking 'cauliflower'. Odd perhaps, but I listened and made this soup and it was incredible. I used both a red and a white cheddar, both really mature and flavoursome, and finished it with finely chopped scallions for a bit of extra oomph. A winner.

- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 onion
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1 potato
- Chicken stock
- Milk
- Cheddar cheese
- Couple of scallions


- In a large pot, throw in a good glug of olive oil and a knob of butter. Chop the onions and garlic and add them in. Cook for a few mins until softened.
- Meanwhile, chop the cauliflower into small florets and peel and dice the potato. Add them both into the pot and season with salt and pepper.
- Add chicken stock, enough to cover the vegetables, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, put a lid on and cook for 15 - 20 mins until all the vegetables are tender and cooked through.
- Use a stick blender to whizz up the soup until smooth, then add in a good splosh of milk (you can see its important to be exact here) and 2 good handfuls of grated cheese (as much as you like really).
- Cook through until soup is hot and cheese has melted. Taste for seasoning (I needed more salt at this point) and then add in the chopped scallions. No need to serve with bread as this gorgeous soup will keep you full all on its own.

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Pistachio cake

A fragrant and unusual cake that is both incredibly moist and light.

I asked Martin what sort of cake he'd like for his birthday this year; he made the rather unusual request of a pistachio sponge. I had never heard of such a thing but figured I'd have a go. The result was an amazingly moist cake with loads of subtle, beautiful flavours. The cardamom and orange zest really bring this to life. We served with some whipped cream and big grins. All measurements here are in American cups (I would recommend investing in these, they are cheap and incredibly useful), but if you don't have a set then just use a teacup.

- 3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
- 1 cup flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (if grinding yourself then remove the green husks and pop out the little black seeds)
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 4 oz butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- Zest of 3 oranges


- Preheat the oven to 160 (fan oven) or 180 for conventional.
- Generously grease a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
- Put the shelled pistachios into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Be careful not to overprocess or they will become a paste.
- Put the ground pistachios into a bowl and mix together with the flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.
- Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod and add them to the bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until pale in colour and fluffy in texture; this will take a few minutes.
- Add the eggs one at the time, beating well after each one.
- Put the mixer on low and add a tablespoon of the pistachio mixture, then half of the milk. Add half of the remaining pistachio mix, followed by the rest of the milk, then the rest of the pistachio mix until just combined.
- Turn off the mixture and using a spatula gently fold in the orange rind.
- Pour the batter (it will be very wet and loose) into the baking tin and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean from the centre and the edges of the cake pull away from the sides of the tin.
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins before turning out to cool fully on a wire rack.
- Serve at room temperature (putting it in the fridge will dry it out a lot) with cream or ice-cream.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Carrot & parsnip fritters

A quick and easy dish that serves as either lunch or dinner.

I realised recently that I hardly ever eat meat these days. I would much rather eat a pile of vegetables than a big hunk of steak. This dish is a great example of how a meat-free dish can be so so good that you won't even realise you're having a vegetarian dinner even if you're a regular omnivore. I served with a simple ceaser salad but this would also be great with big fat homemade chips.

- 1 large carrot
- 1 parsnip
- 3 spring onions
- 1 slice bread
- 1 egg
- Good pinch salt
- Pinch sweet paprika


- Grate the carrot and parsnip into a bowl.
- Finely slice the spring onions and them them to the other veg.
- Whizz the bread up in a food processor to make crumbs - this works easiest if the bread is a day or two old. Add it to the bowl with the salt and paprika.
- Chuck in the egg and mix everything together really well.
- Heat some olive oil and a little butter in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, form the vegetable mixture into little patties in your hands and place them gently into the pan.
- Saute for 5 - 7 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Lemon vanilla shortbread

Buttery, crumbley deliciousness

Dinner was over. Tea was in hand. But something was missing; I wanted something sweet. I also wanted something quick and that didn't require a visit to the shops. Shortbread was the answer. Prep and cook time together it took less than 20 minutes to go from ingredients to in-my-face. Yum!

- 4oz butter, softened
- 2oz sugar
- 6oz plain flour
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract

- Heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan oven) or 180 (conventional).
- Beat together the soft butter and sugar until smooth.
- Add the lemon zest and vanilla and mix until incorporated.
- Stir in the flour and work it into a dough. Shape it into a thick disc and transfer to a lined baking tray.
- Press the dough gently to flatten it into a circle approx 1/2 inch thick; you can use a rolling pin for this if you want but it's easier to use your hands.
- Use the back of a fork to mark indents around the edge of the disc and prick some holes with the fork prongs - this is faffing really, so skip this if you're not fussed prettying up the shortbread.
- Bake in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes until it is starting to go golden brown around the edges.
- Cut into segments while it is still hot and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Minestrone soup

Delicious and healthy, an awesome lunchtime special

This has recently become one of my favourite lunches as it is really easy to make as well as packed full of goodness. It's also gentle on the finances and will keep you full for hours. I like to make a big batch and freeze it in double portions, that way I'm never stuck for a quick lunch option when I'm home. I use chickpeas in this recipe as I like how they stay intact and retain their shape. Cannellini beans or butter beans would also work well but don't overcook them as they turn to mush easily enough.

- 1 onion
- Couple of cloves of garlic
- 2 large carrots
- 4 sticks of celery
- Tin of chickpeas
- Small handful of spaghetti
- Tin of chopped tomatoes (or passata)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp sugar
- Chicken stock

- Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan on high heat.
- Chuck the onion, garlic, celery and carrots into a food processor and blitz until they are all chopped really finely. Add them to the oil, stir well and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 mins.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add them to the pot.
- Chuck in the tin of tomatoes and about the same amount again of chicken stock - add enough stock until the mixture is loose enough to be a soup rather than a sauce.
- Add 1 tsp of sugar, the tomato puree and another bit of salt and put a lid on. Cook for 10 mins at a simmer.
- After 10 mins, break the spaghetti up with your hands and add it to the soup. Pop the lid back on for 12 mins, stirring once or twice.
- Serve hot in big bowls with a side order of Eastenders and a crossword.

Friday 23 April 2010

Happy birthday, Dad!

A few snaps of the cake I baked for my father's birthday this week. My parents have just returned from a trip to Kerry, and this cake is inspired by their day on Inch Beach!

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Women's mini marathon 2010

Hey folks,

I'm taking part in the mini marathon again this year to raise some money for Oxfam, who do wonderful development work around the globe. I know money is tight for everyone now but I'd really appreciate it if you could spare a few bob for this great cause. You can donate by clicking the button below - either with a credit card or paypal. For more info on Oxfam, see

Thanks a million - Joey x

Wednesday 24 March 2010


The best dinner in the wide world

Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made from spiced chickpeas. It is traditionally deep fried but in this recipe I just pop them in the oven to bake. It saves on a lot of fat and stops them being greasy. We served with tortilla wraps, a yogurt sauce called tzatziki (recipe also below), shredded iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes. AMAZING.


For the falafel:
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 onion
3 large cloves garlic
1 avocado
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 heaped tsp dried coriander leaf (or fresh if you have it)
Good pinch of salt and pepper

For the tzatziki (yogurt sauce):
Couple of tablespoons of natural yogurt (low-fat works best as it's a thinner consistency)
A few inches of cucumber, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
About a tablespoon of lemon juice

- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (180 for a conventional oven).
- Into a food processor, chuck the chickpeas, onion, garlic and avocado and blitz well. Add the cumin, chilli, salt and pepper and mix well. My food processor is on the blink so I use a little mini chopper and then combine all the ingredients in a bowl; works just as well.
- The mix will be quite wet at this stage. Taste the mixture for seasoning and add more cumin or chilli as desired.
- Divide the mixture into 8 and form gently into balls.
- Transfer the balls to a greased baking tray or a muffin tin (I use the latter as it keeps the shape quite well) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the tzatziki by mixing together all the ingredients. Taste as you go and adjust the garlic/ lemon quantities to your taste. Go easy on the garlic at first as it is very hot when raw. This yogurt sauce adds moisture to the dish and cools down any unwanted heat from the chilli.
- Once the falafel is cooked, dish up with some salad and either wraps or pitta bread for a mega amazing feast.

Monday 22 March 2010

Apple & blueberry cake

A lovely moist, sweet cake for afternoon tea

I got a fantastic cookbook from the Good Housekeeping range with a beautiful array of sweet recipes to try. This is my first baking effort from the book and it turned out wonderfully; the cake was almost better the next day rather than going stale. Be warned that the dough takes quite a bit of work to pack around the fruit as it is frightfully sticky, but keep flouring your hands as you work and it gets a lot easier.


- 4 oz butter, chilled and diced
- 8 oz self-raising flour, sifted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 oz granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- A punnet of blueberries


- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan oven), then line and grease an 8 inch baking tin.
- Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, add the diced butter and rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add 4.5 oz of the sugar with the beaten eggs and stir well until it comes together into a sticky dough.
- Using well-floured hands, take half the mixture and press it into the base of the baking tin.
- Layer the sliced apples and blueberries evenly over the surface, setting aside a few blueberries for the top of the cake.
- Sprinkle the fruit layer with the remaining 1.5 oz sugar then press the remaining dough (again with well-floured hands) over the top.
- Add the remaining blueberries and push them down slightly into the cake.
- Bake for 40 minutes until the cake has risen and is firm to the touch; a skewer should come out clean.
- Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Friday 5 March 2010


Zingy, yummy, healthy and easy

Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern dish which is traditionally made with bulgar wheat. Here I have used quinoa instead but have otherwise kept it as it should be. This is really filling and a great choice for carbs.

- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- Handful fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 handfuls fresh mint, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt, pepper


- Cook the quinoa in double its volume of boiling water (lid on) for 15 minutes until it has absorbed all the water and is soft and tender. Transfer to a shallow dish to cool.
- While the quinoa is still warm, douse it with the lemon juice, olive oil and a really generous pinch of salt.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Serve at room temperature.


Crunchy, tasty and healthy; the perfect side dish


1/2 a head of white cabbage
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
1 tablespoon mayonaisse
1 tablespoon natural yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon

- Finely shred the cabbage, grate the carrot and slice the celery. Place them in a big bowl together.
- Mix together the mayo, yogurt and lemon juice and add to the vegetables. Mix well and taste; add more lemon juice if desired, or some salt if preferred.
- Serve as part of a salad platter or on the side of your dinner.

Monday 15 February 2010

Bran muffins with sunflower seeds and honey

Healthy, hearty, happy muffins

I got a set of American cup measures for Christmas and have been looking for an opportunity to use them without using a recipe choc full of butter or refined sugar. These bran muffins are very quick and easy to throw together, and are great as a snack or as part of a good breakfast.

Ingredients: (makes 12)
- 1 cup bran
- 1 cup brown flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup milled seeds (I used a mix of linseed and pumpkin seeds)
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 egg

- Heat the oven to 160 degrees if using a fan oven; 180 if not.
- Stir together the bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sunflower seeds and milled seeds
- In a bowl, mix together the egg, milk, honey and olive oil.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
- Spoon into bun cases in a muffin tray and bake for 15 minutes, when a skewer should come out clean and the muffins have risen.
- For a sweeter muffin, add a mashed banana or a cup of dried fruit.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Valentine's Day brunch

Hot guinness pancakes with mature cheddar and crispy smoked bacon

Martin has been telling me about his famous guinness pancakes for a long time now, so we decided to try them for a decadent Valentine's treat. They turned out incredibly light and fluffy, and the guinness lent them a wonderful tang. Paired with the smoked bacon and salty cheddar, it was an amazing combination and cured our hangovers almost immediately. Thumbs up!

- 1 cup self-raising flour
- 3/4 can guinness
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
- A few slices of smoked bacon
- Some mature cheddar

- Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
- In a mug, mix together the egg and some guinness and gradually add this to the flour, whisking all the time. Keep adding liquid until the guinness can is 3/4 empty. You should have a lovely smooth batter that looks like molten milk chocolate.
- Leave the batter to rest for a few minutes while you slice some cheese and put the bacon under a hot grill.
- Put a frying pan on a high heat with a glug of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add a ladleful of batter; we made quite small pancakes but make them as big as you like.
- It's time to turn them over when the tops of the pancakes become full of tiny air bubbles, a bit like this:

- Cook for another couple of minutes on the other side until lightly browned.
- Make a small stack of a couple of pancakes, top with the cheddar and pop under the grill until the cheese has melted. Add the cooked, crispy bacon and serve with a big mug of hot hot tea.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Cheesey basil hotpockets

Hot melty cheesey treats.

I had some filo pastry leftover from yesterday's chicken pie (recipe to follow) and didn't want it to go to waste. There was some feta lurking about in the fridge that wasn't going to last much longer, so I combined the two with a few other bits and pieces and came up with these goodies. Eat hot from the oven.

Ingredients (makes 8):

- 2 sheets filo pastry (you can buy this frozen in the supermarket quite cheaply)
- 1/2 block feta
- 1 packet mozzerella, cut into small pieces
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 a courgette, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Handful fresh basil


- In a frying pan, sweat together the onion, courgette and garlic in some olive oil until all soft (about 10 mins). Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a bowl, mash the feta and mix in the mozzerella. Chop the basil finely and mix it in.
- Add the contents of the frying pan and mix all ingredients together well.
- Cut each sheet of filo pastry into 4 pieces; first slice lengthwise along the sheet, then cut widthwise.
- Take one piece of the filo and place a spoonful of the cheese mixture on the left-hand side, leaving about 1/2 inch border. Brush the filo with a little olive oil and fold the pastry over the cheese, sealing the edges well. Fold the filo over twice more, sealing with olive oil, until you have a fully sealed triangle. See this brilliant recipe for better instructions with pictures.
- Repeat with the rest of the filo and cheese and bake them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, until golden brown and making your kitchen smell like heaven.
- Eat hot!

Sunday 3 January 2010

Flourless chocolate cake

Chocolatey, rich, achingly good cake

My lovely friends Frank & Mary were kind enough to host a New Year's Eve party, so I thought it would be nice to bring along a big fat chocolate cake as my contribution. This is an incredibly decadent cake, which is somewhat truffle-like in the middle and incredibly moist. It takes a little longer to make than a traditional chocolate cake but it's absolutely worth it. Thanks Jimjim for snapping a picture before it got scoffed.

- 10.5 oz good quality dark chocolate
- 5 oz margarine
- 6 eggs
- 2 oz caster sugar

- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan oven). Grease a 20cm round cake tin really well and line the bottom of it with greaseproof paper.
- Break up the chocolate and melt it with the butter.
- Beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar with an electric beater until pale in colour and bigger in volume. Mix this in to the cooled melted chocolate.
- Whisk the egg whites until they have soft peaks and add in the remaining sugar.
- Using a metal spoon or a spatula, gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until combined. Add the rest of the whites and mix gently so as not to deflate the mixture.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20 minutes, until the top of the cake is slightly firm to the touch and is starting to crack slightly. Don't bother sticking a skewer in to check if it's done as you would with a regular cake, as the inside of this badboy will still be slightly gooey and fudgy.
- Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack. The cake will sink slightly but don't worry, this is normal.
- When cooled, dust with a generous teaspoon of icing sugar and cut into big lovely fattening slices. It would be really really good served with a dollop of thick whipped cream and an Irish coffee.