Smoked Trout Paté with Carrot Salad & Pitta Chips

smoked-trout-pate-7

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks called The Diet for Food Lovers by Jennifer Irvine – it is a beautiful book of healthy, delicious recipes (and the pictures are beautiful too!). This particular recipe looks like there is a lot to it but it is actually very simple and easy – perfect with a glass of wine or as a starter if you were having anyone for dinner. The paté takes just 5 mins to make, the carrot salad,  10 mins and the pitta ‘chips’ take 5 mins to prepare and about 15 mins to bake in the oven.  Instead of making the pitta chips you could have some toasted wholemeal or rye bread or even some melba toast with the paté. The pitta chips are worth trying though as they are surprisingly tasty (and a healthy alternative to tortilla chips) and take only minutes to make – my daughter loves them and took them in her lunchbox when I made them recently. And who would ever have thought of a carrot salad? It looks beautiful and the dressing really turns it into something special. Continue reading

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Fresh Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset 1

Time was at a premium last weekend so I was looking for a tasty quick dessert to have for dinner on Sunday. This Lemon Posset fitted the bill perfectly, quick and easy to make with a light creamy delicious fresh lemon flavour.  This recipe is adapted slightly from one that was part of a wonderful 3-day course I did in The Tannery Cookery School in Dungarvan last Summer.

Serves 6

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Chilling Time: 4-6 hours in fridge

Ingredients

500ml cream

140g caster sugar

¼ vanilla pod

Zest and juice of 2 lemons (preferably unwaxed*)

Method

  • Put the cream, sugar and vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring to a simmer
  • Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk well.
  • Bring the mixture back to a simmer for 20 seconds while stirring constantly.
  • BEWARE : DO NOT LET  THE MIXTURE BOIL OR IT WON”T SET !
  • Take off the heat and pour into glasses or little cups.
  • Cool and put into a fridge for 4-6 hours to set.

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*It is relatively easy to remove the wax coating from a citrus fruit. Put the fruit in a colander and pour over water from a recently boiled kettle or rinse the fruit under a hot running tap. Scrub the fruit all over with a stiff brush, such as a vegetable brush, under a cool running tap but try not to use a brush or scrubbing sponge that you use for dishes as this could cause some soap residue to get on to the fruit. Rinse the fruit thoroughly with cold water and leave to dry, or dry with paper towels.

Feta Stuffed Butternut Squash


Feta & Butternut Squash

It’s all about green, white and gold today given the day that is in it, it feels like the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show support for our ‘boys in green’ as they play France in the Euros. This dish is another one to put on your list for your meat-free dinner day. It is easy to make as well as healthy, wholesome and really tasty as it contains a great combination of flavours. Many of the ingredients are ones that you can have in your store cupboard. Butternut Squash for example has a great shelf life – this particular one was in my vegetable drawer for at least a month! Feta cheese is also something you can have in your fridge as it has a long shelf life once unopened. To use the rest of a packet of feta you could make this Green Pea & Feta Cheese Omelette the next day. The other ingredients i.e. onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil would always be staples in my kitchen with the only ingredient that I might need to buy being the fresh mint.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40/50 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
½ – 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
80g / 3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
100g / 4oz feta cheese, lightly crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400° F / Gas 6

  • Prepare the butternut squash by cutting it in half lengthways and scooping out the seeds with a spoon
  • Place the squash on a non-stick baking tray (or a tray lined with baking paper)
  • Roast in the oven for approx 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft, cooked through and has a slightly coloured surface (a larger squash will take longer to cook)
  • While the squash is in the oven heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.
  • Sweat over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta, mint, cooked onions and garlic together.
  • Remove the butternut squash from the oven when cooked and scoop out some of the flesh to make space for the filing. (Keep the flesh for another dish). Fill the squash with the stuffing mixture, then return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with some green veg.

PS – this reheats very well so you can enjoy it the next day as well !

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Dutch Apple Cake

Dutch Apple Cake 3

I think it’s fair to say that any apple dessert, cake or tart goes down well in my house and while I adore an apple tart I am pretty hopeless when it comes to making pastry so I only make them occasionally. (Promise I will share my most reliable tried and tested recipe for apple tart in a future blog post!).  This Dutch Apple Cake is an absolute winner – delicious, beautifully light, moist and fluffy and can be served warm with some cream, custard or ice cream for dessert or with a cup of tea or coffee.

The recipe is from the same book as last week’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake recipe (Darina Allen’s Easy Entertaining) – gosh did I enjoy that cake last week. At the end of a busy day I would wait until I was on my own, put the kettle on, make a mug of tea, cut a very small sliver of the cake and savour every mouthful. So, so good. Continue reading

Walnut & Treacle Bread

Walnut & treacle bread 2

I just adore this bread which is low in saturated fat and oh so simple and uncomplicated to make. Rich, dark, soft with little bits of walnut throughout to add delicious texture and taste. There is nothing nicer than a slice of this, buttered(not too much!) with a mug of tea, guaranteed to provide instant comfort and brighten up any damp, cold, dreary day. God knows we have had a lot of those recently. If I am honest it is really a cross between a bread and a cake. My daughter adores it too and every time I turn around she is scoffing a slice! An added bonus is that it is so so easy to make – mix the dry ingredients together, mix the wet ingredients together, combine the two and that’s it, could not be easier!

PS – It also freezes very well.

Makes 2 x 1lb loaves or 1 x 2lb loaf

Ingredients
225g / 8oz plain flour
225g / 8oz coarse wholemeal flour
50g porridge oats
1tsp salt
50 g sugar (reduce this to your taste if you wish)
3 tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bread soda
1 egg
500 ml milk
2 handfuls walnuts
100ml black treacle

  • Preheat oven to 160°C fan, (325°F / gas mark 3)
  • Grease tin(s) lightly (or use a ready-made loaf tin liner).
  • Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt, sugar, baking powder, bread soda and walnuts) together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Combine milk and treacle (heating the mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds will make this much easier)
  • Whisk the egg into the milk and treacle mixture
  • Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well (the mixture looks most unpromising at this stage i.e. wet and sloppy, not to mention the colour, but keep the faith and bear with it!)
  • Place the mixture into the tin(s) making sure to leave at least 1cm at the top to give the bread room to rise. Be warned – DO NOT FILL THE TIN TO THE TOP or the mixture will overflow and apart from making a mess, it will be impossible to get the bread out of the tin! (I speak from experience!)
  • Bake in the oven for approx 50 minutes – you know it is cooked when you tap the underneath of the loaf and it sounds hollow.
  • Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Put the kettle on and enjoy!

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Divine chocolate mousse cake

chocolate mousse cake 3

A slightly later than usual blog post this week which almost didn’t happen as I have just gone back to work after a wonderful year off.  This has upset my routine (just a little!) and trying to get this dish made and photographed after a day’s work has given me a few headaches. (Think it’s a bit too soon to ask for time off during the day to take my food pics!) However, I just had to share this absolutely divine chocolate recipe with you  – just the delicious chocolatey smells coming out of your oven when it is cooking will have you and anyone else in your house drooling and waiting impatiently to dig in when it comes out. Dark, moist, delicate, pure chocolate heaven. It is unbelievably light as there is no flour in it so gluten-free as well. I normally wouldn’t recommend sharing this under any circumstances but given the weekend that is in it share it with someone very special if you must but only if you absolutely have to! So go on and indulge yourself – a glass of something bubbly with it and life won’t get much better.

The recipe is really really simple –  equal quantities i.e. 150g of dark chocolate, butter and sugar and 3 eggs. That’s it!

Serves 6 (or one big serving!)

Ingredients

  • 150g dark chocolate (60/70% cocoa solids)
  • 150g softened unsalted butter (plus extra for greasing)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs separated
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Pre-heat the oven to 160° C / 325°F or Gas 3.

  • Grease a 20cm / 8in springform cake tin (an ordinary cake tin will work as well once it is well greased) and line the base with greaseproof paper.
  • Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Leave to cool.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then fold in the melted chocolate.
  • In another bowl whisk the egg whites until they stand in soft peaks.
  • Stir 2 large spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture to loosen it slightly and then gently fold in the remainder.
  • Put the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour or until a crust has formed on top and there is no ‘wobble’ in the middle.
  • The cake will rise up dramatically during the cooking but will sink once you take it out of the oven. It will also crack and this is perfectly normal.
  • Leave to cool on a wife rack, and remove from the tin.
  • Serve the cake dusted lightly with icing sugar and cream, ice-cream, raspberries and / or chocolate sauce.

 

Avocado Chocolate Mousse


Avocado choc mousse

Avocado and chocolate in the same sentence??? Kind of hard to get your head around isn’t it? Can you think of any nicer way to eat something healthy and good for you than in a chocolate mousse??? Bring it on, I hear you say! Any time I mention the words avocado and chocolate in the same sentence, people turn their noses up BUT they are people who have never tried it. It is also possibly the quickest, simplest and healthiest chocolate mousse there is. Continue reading