Tag Archives: Tried and Tested

Bacon Pancakes

Saturday morning is my favourite time of the week; the whole weekend stretching far out in front of me, full of opportunities and possibilities for eating. It is a magical time, a time when I come up with some of my most genius of ideas.

The follow recipe, I feel, I will never be able to top. This will be the pinnacle of my life achievements and I’m fine with that. If there was some way to eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner without getting morbidly obese, I would do it.

It’s possible I’ll do it anyway – I could just Skype into work…

Ingredients (Serves 2 hungry people or 3 normal people – makes 8 thick handsized pancakes)

6 slices bacon/300g bacon lardons
300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
500ml buttermilk
50g butter
Maple syrup

Steps to deliciousness

1) Turn on oven to a low temperature – 50 degrees.

2) Fry bacon in a little oil until half cooked, and remove from the pan. Shred – It is easier than shredding them raw. Put back into pan until fully cooked. (Or fry lardons instead.)

3) Wipe pan, or use a new pan and put the butter in to melt.

4) Sieve flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt.

5) Crack eggs into a measuring jug. Beat with a fork for a minute.

6) Add buttermilk to the eggs, and beat.

7) Pour most of the liquid into the dry ingredients while whisking. You will end up with a thick, sloppy batter and probably won’t use all the buttermilk/egg.

8) Tip in the fried bacon, and most of the butter, and mix well.

9) Put two/three tablespoons of batter into each pancake.

10) The bacon will prevent the telltale bubbles from rising to the surface, so keep a close eye on the bottom, and when golden brown, flip the pancake
If you are me, the uncooked batter on top will go everywhere.

11) When cooked, place on a plate and into your warm oven. Add a little more butter to the pan, and start on the next batch.

12) Serve with maple syrup, and a steaming cup of hot coffee – and enjoy your Saturday morning.

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Koh, the way to my heart

Writing about perfection is difficult. Impossible almost, but that’s my burden to bear.

I’d like to let you in on a secret, share with you one of the best places to eat in Dublin, my steady favourite, my go-to joint; Koh.

What is it about this restaurant that places it so highly in my heart and makes me recommend it to every single person, whether they want to hear about it or not?

Is it the cocktails? The perfect end to a meal Toblerone, the award winning Citrus Flower or the delicious Chilli Mango Caipiroska?
Or the decor? A dark, well designed lounge, backed by rows of illuminated bottles gleaming like jewels behind the cocktail masters at the bar, which leads into a comfortable restaurant where individual booths with curtains can be booked, making everyone feel like Very Important Persons.
Perhaps it’s the food? The extensive list of starters and mains, touching all bases including Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese, as well a melt in the mouth steak?

No – What makes Koh outstanding is all of these things, and more; The absolutely unparalleled service by friendly, highly trained staff, the welcoming atmosphere, the low level hum of happiness that can only be created by fantastic food and drink, small touches like incense in the bathroom, and freezing cold jugs of water packed with ice on the table.
I cannot find fault, and I will not find fault.

Two omnivores, a vegetarian, a dairy intolerant coeliac and a vegan walk into Koh.

You think one of them would’ve seen it.


(Attributed to Karamell)

I didn’t need to open the menu, the chicken cashew nut being far and away the superior dish, but the motley crew hummed and hawed for what seemed like hours before coming to a consensus.

One chicken cashew nut, one sweet and sour duck, and three Phad Thais.

But these were not just any Phad Thais – These were special Phad Thais. One tofu, no egg, no fish sauce, one tofu with egg, no fish sauce, and one prawn with egg, coeliac, no soy, no dairy.
However, as soy sauce is an integral part of Phad Thai, the waiter assured us the chef could tailor a dish specifically to suit.

And tailor he did. It was absolute lovely, and lived up to every standard I set for Koh. As did the the vegan and vegetarian versions. The chicken and cashew nut was, as always, stunning; the quality of ingredients shines through, and I find it difficult not to lick my plate to clear every last drop of the salty garlic, ginger, soy based sauce that soaks into the sticky rice, making it completely irresistible.

The mango mojitos were on special offer, and were so good, I had to snatch a sip while an owner was away from the table, as I was reticent to ask any of the three to share, their exclamations of enjoyment were so exuberant.

I must also mention cheesecake at this juncture, the white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake, that no matter how full I am, I will order.
I will order, and devour, and spend an hour holding my splitting stomach in pain if I have to.
It is unbelievably creamy, and the exact mix of tart cream cheese, swirls of raspberry and sweet white chocolate to make this blogger dizzy with delight.

Too long, didn’t read?

Go. To. Koh.

1 starter, 5 mains, 1 dessert – €95
Drinks – Oh, hundreds. (Or, more likely, I don’t have the receipt, and don’t remember how much the cocktails were)
Koh Millennium Walkway, Dublin

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Vegan (Or not so much) Maple Pecan Caramel Squares

I must admit, I love a challenge. The sense of achievement after a hard fought success is particularly nice, especially for the chronically competitive such as myself. So, when a vegan friend bemoaned and lamented the lack of dairy, egg and honey free desserts, I immediately thought

and my mind began ticking over. It did take a while, but when it struck me, I knew it was simply the only way to go; how to combine the two most complimentary dessert flavours into a sufficiently interesting vegan dish?

Maple Pecan Caramel Squares (capitalisation deserved)

As the work crowd demolished the dairy filled version of these in mere hours recently, I will also supply you with the substitutes that should be made, in case you would like to attempt them instead.

Ingredients
Base:
200g plain white flour
150g vegetable shortening/Butter
75g castor sugar

Condensed soy milk:
1 litre soy milk (unsweetened)
150g soft brown sugar
Half teaspoon vanilla
Or replace these three with one tin condensed milk

Caramel:
2 tablespoons golden syrup
100g soft brown sugar
100g vegetable shortening/Butter
1/2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Pecans
Chopped mixed nuts

10inch x 7inch deep baking tray.

Steps to Deliciousness

1) Pour soy milk and sugar into pot.

2) Take book in one hand, wooden spoon in the other, and reduce to one third over a moderate/high heat while stirring. Do not let it stick to the bottom of the pan.
This took one hour, despite my staring at it accusingly, knowing it could condense more quickly, it just didn’t want to.

Jean’s tip of the day: Pour one third of the soy milk into the pan first. Then mark the height on something – a straw, a knife, the wooden spoon. Now you have a measure of height so you can identify when it has reduced enough.

3) When the mixture has reduced , it will be slightly thicker. Add the vanilla essence.

4) Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
5) Line the baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Cut a rectangular piece of the paper, and slit the corners. It will slip nicely into the tray.

6) Beat the vegetable shortening/butter into the castor sugar. If you’re using butter, it should go a little white.

7) Rub in the flour with your fingertips. Do this quickly, and do not over work it. You want the consistency of breadcrumbs. If it goes greasy or grey, start again.

8) Press this evenly into the baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until it’s golden brown. It will be soft to the touch.
(Warning: Do not actually touch – From experience, as it is just out of the oven, it is very hot).

9) Put a small plate in the fridge, and move onto the caramel creation.

10) Add the condensed soy milk/milk, vegetable shortening/butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and maple syrup to a pan.

11) Keep this at a gentle boil and stir like your life depended on it. Make sure you are covering the whole base of the pan. Unfortunately, in order for the sugar to dissolve, the temperature needs to be high enough that it will burn if it’s not stirred.

12) The vegan caramel thickens in about 20 minutes, but the butter version can take almost an hour. When it turns rich golden brown and seems thick, drop teaspoons of the mixture onto the cold plate to see if it sets solid and holds its shape.
It is essential to eat these testers to ensure that you are, in fact, making delicious maple caramel.

13) Pour onto the base, and smooth out. Top with toasted mixed nuts and pecans, and leave overnight before attempting to cut it.

14) Success. Sit back and reap the rewards of being victorious, and possible diabetes.

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The one, and only, Brown Bread

Passed down from generation to generation and finally, with the tweaks and additions that make it perfect, passed onto to me at the tender age of 25. Of the innumerable things my mother has given to me, allowing me to post this recipe on the internet ranks right up there with Snape’s sacrifice.

Or, for the less nerd-inclined of you, an extremely selfless act, and please go read Harry Potter.

This brown bread, fresh from the oven, is an enduring memory of my childhood. Eight in the morning, shoving spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth, watching with sleepy eyes as my parents spread it with marmalade to accompany the cup of tea that wakes and greets the day. Then, as my own taste palate expanded, dipping the bread with cheddar cheese into fresh vegetable soup straight from the pot, or making sausage and ketchup sandwiches, or simply smothering it with real butter as I could never, and still cannot, resist nabbing a slice while it’s cooling on the wire rack.

Dragging myself out of bed before noon on a Saturday morning, and with moderate adult supervision, I set about making my version of this family classic, in the hope that I wouldn’t royally screw it up and ruin lunch.

The pressure was on.

Ingredients (Creates one 9 inch circular brown bread, 4 inches deep)

Vegetable oil
300g wholemeal flour

30g sunflower seeds
30g sesame seeds
30g pinhead oatmeal
30g oatbran
30g porridge oats
(Or any combination of the above to make 150g)

A handful of sunflower seeds and sesame seeds
225g self raising flour
1.5 teaspoons bread soda
Half teaspoon sugar
Half teaspoon salt
1 egg
750ml buttermilk

You will need a some sort of a pot with a lid, rather than cake tins, as it needs to be cooked covered.

Steps to deliciousness

1) Oil the pan, and put in the oven as it is preheating to 200 degrees C.

2) Put a big mixing bowl on the scales, and add the wholemeal flour, the 150g seeds, salt and sugar.

3) Sift the self raising flour and baking powder into the bowl.

4) Beat the egg with two dessert spoons of oil, and add to the mix.

5) Add most of the buttermilk.

The baking powder and self raising flour will activate when you add the wet ingredients so you need to move quickly from here on in.

6) Mix well, and add more buttermilk until you have a sloppy concoction that just about holds a shape. If you add too much, even it out with a little wholemeal flour – this recipe is very forgiving, lucky for me.

7) Sprinkle sesame seeds and sunflower seeds into the oiled, preheated pan.

8) Add the dough, spread evenly to the edges with a fork.

9) Top with more seeds.

10) Pop on the lid and put in the oven.

11) Leave for 50 minutes/1 hour until the top is dark brown, and the bread sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

12) Add butter, and enjoy!

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Not-Vegetarian Vegetarian Chilli

Today I would like to talk to you about my chilli.

It does hurt me a little to send this recipe out by itself into the big scary unknown, but I need to stop being so selfish. You deserve to eat good food, and I am here to assist you in that.

I don’t like mince – I can’t remember the last time I willingly ate it outside burger form – so this is a (mostly) vegetarian chilli.

I find it particularly good piled high with cheese, sour cream and served with taco shells, or with cous cous.

Somehow, I inevitably manage to make even the healthiest of recipes into a cheese and carb fest through my serving suggestions – ignore me at your peril however; certain foods are simpy worth the calories!

For example, Aldi’s specially selected vintage cheddar is just beautiful – tangy, crumbly, creamy and tart, all for a ridiculously low price (€2.79 the last time I checked). It never lasts long in my fridge, and it is absolutely worth the lifetime of long, fat burning walks and short, heart clearing jogs that await me.

And, on to the chilli! Due to the size of the tins, it’s difficult to halve this recipe. But it freezes fantastically well, and microwaves in a few minutes.

Ingredients (for 6)

2 peppers
1 onion
5 garlic cloves
2.5 teaspoons of squeezy chilli. This is equal to about 2 chillis – stick in more if you like it hot, as this is a mild.
3 dessert spoons of vegetable oil

1 tin kidney beans
2 small tins of corn (400g in total)
1 tin black eyed beans
1 tin butter beans
2 tins of chopped tomato
1 small tin tomato puree

2 beef stock cubes dissolved in a half tin of hot water – Use vegetable stock cubes for vegan chilli.
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
3 teaspoons of cocoa
2 teaspoons of black pepper
3 second “glug” of soy sauce

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the onions, peppers, and garlic,

2) Saute the onions in vegetable oil until softened. Then add the peppers, onion, garlic, and chilli.

3) Let this simmer away for a few minutes until the peppers start to look really bright in colour.
4) At this point add.. well, everything else!

If you’ve bought the tinned beans with the pull lids, washing them is so simple – Half open the tin and let it drain. Fill it with water and let it drain. Repeat, then dump in pan!



5) Leave simmering (bubbles lazily and slowly coming to the surface) for as long as you want. I generally cook for about 45 minutes before eating. It will reduce a little, and darken slightly in colour in this time.

6) I recommend eating half of it from the pot, as I normally do.

I do not have a nice picture of how I usually serve this, as “I don’t care, all over my face, as long as some of it gets in my mouth” is apparently not an acceptably classy serving method.

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Chicken à la King

Or, as someone who tried this recipe recently put it, “Chicken à la fookin’ delish”.

This is my ultimate comfort food – quick to make, tastes great with fresh bread, and absolutely packed with butter – A ‘recipe’ for success, if I ever heard one.

It’s the very first dish I learned to cook from the wonderful Mammy, as I loved it so much, and I make it every Christmas day for my family. It is gorgeously creamy, and can easily be made vegetarian by substituting the chicken for extra vegetables, and the stock for vegetable stock.

Ingredients (for 4)

3 Chicken breasts
1 or 2 peppers
1 or 2 onions
(These quantities can be changed, depending on your taste – I used 3 chicken breasts, 1.5 peppers and 1 onion, for 4 people)

Vegetable oil
50g Butter
Three/four dessert spoons white, plain flour
Three quarters of a pint Chicken stock (1 stock cube)
Half pint Milk
Three dessert spoons of mayonnaise
Pepper

Rice/Cous cous/bread/quinoa – whatever you want to serve it with. I love a little rice, and some crispy bread.

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the onions and peppers.
2) Sweat the onions in 25g butter on a low heat until the smell in your kitchen makes your mouth water (and the onions are transparent – this is clearly less important)

(Make sure to peek..)

And finally, they will look like this

3) Add peppers.
4) Chop the chicken, and fry in small batches in vegetable oil, as you are cooking the vegetables. You could bake these also, if you wanted to reduce the calories (PAH!)

5) Add another 25g butter to the peppers and onions, once the peppers are cooked (this is not exact – it depends on how much sauce you want – you could increase this, increase the flour, and increase the stock/milk mix to give more sauce. However, this will lead to you being incredibly impolite, and lifting your bowl to pour the remaining sauce into your mouth. It’s ok – I won’t judge)

6) Add flour until the butter is soaked up – generally, for my quantities, this is 3/3.5 spoons. The picture below will give you a good idea of what this looks like. Depending on the freshness of the onion/pepper, this changes a little bit from time to time. Do not stress about this – this can be fixed later!

7) Dissolve a chicken stock cube in three quarters of a pint of hot water. Add the half pint of milk.
8) Throw this into the pan with the vegetables, and stir with the joy that comes from knowing dinner is almost ready.

9) Bring to the boil, then back down to simmer to thicken. Add the chicken.

(My favourite moment of this recipe is when it turns from the picture above into the picture below)

10) If you didn’t add enough flour at 6), you can add a little more now (if the sauce isn’t starting to thicken up after a couple of minutes). You’ll need to be careful to avoid lumps, so use a sieve (Fishing around with a fork to break them up delays dinner which no one, least of all me, appreciates), and then bring back to the boil again to get rid of the floury flavour, and then straight back down to simmer.

11) Season with a good amount of pepper – there’s plenty of salt in the stock.
12) Finally, turn off the heat, and add your mayonnaise just before you serve. Depending on your taste, add more or less mayo – I use a good three or four heaped dessert spoons. Try adding two, and tasting to see how you feel about it.

Last year for Christmas, my plate looked so nice, I took a picture – This is the finished product, in all its tasty glory.

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