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Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Miso grilled aubergines

A great healthy recipe recommended by my sister, really yummy and healthy. A perfect light lunch or healthy dinner served with steamed rice.


Serves 2 people
  • 1 large aubergine
  • Vegetable oil (enough for shallow frying)
  • 4 Spring onions
  • 4 tbsp of light (sweet) miso
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  1. Wash the aubergines and cut in half, then score the cut side of the aubergines diagonally, forming a diamond pattern in the flesh.
  2. Heat about 0.5cm/0.25in oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. When it's hot, add the aubergine halves, cut side down. Fry the halves until lightly browned, about three minutes. Turn over and lightly fry the other side for a further minute or two. The aubergines should be fairly soft. Remove and set aside on kitchen paper.
  3. Pre heat the grill to medium, then prepare the miso topping. Place the miso into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Grate the ginger into the bowl, then stir in the shoyu or soy sauce and mirin.
  4. Place the aubergines onto a baking sheet, cut-side up. Spoon the miso topping over the aubergine halves, then place them under the grill. Grill until the miso topping is just beginning to brown and bubble slightly, but don't allow it to burn.
  5. Place the aubergine on a plate and scatter with the finely chopped spring onions and serve! 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Curry popcorn!

I first tried curry popcorn in Paul Rankin's restaurant Cayenne in Belfast. You can't beat it - so simple, easy and full of flavour. Great for party good, drinks party's or just a night in on the sofa!

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp mild curry powder (or hot if you prefer)
  • 2 tbsp sun flour oil
  • 75g popping corn
  • Salt to taste

  1. In a small pan toast the cumin seeds over medium heat until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Remove and set aside.
  2. In the now empty pan melt the butter over low heat. Add the curry powder and stir-well. Bring to a simmer, also set aside.
  3. Now in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and the popping corn. Swirl to even coat the popcorn. Cover the pan with a glass lid (so you can see the corn popping). Once the popping begins, hold the lid and gently shake the pan do they do not burn. When the popping becomes slower remove the pan from the heat and let rest with the lid still on for a few seconds.
  4. Put the popcorn to a large bowl. Drizzle on the curry butter while tossing the popcorn to evenly distribute the butter. Sprinkle on the toasted cumin seeds and some salt, if desired, and toss. Serve immediately.

Champ for Saint Patrick's day!

At the moment spring onions are in season, as its St Patrick's day I thought I ought to add champ to my blog recipes! For those of you who don't know champ is basically mashed potato with spring onion. Mashed potatoes is my ultimate comfort food and you just cant beat the sweetness of the spring onions.


  • 1kg potatoes peeled
  • 250mls milk
  • 1 bunch of spring onions
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 4 people


  1. Fill a large pan with boiling water and a teaspoon of salt, add the potatoes and cook until tender (20 minutes aprox).
  2. Drain the potatoes and leave for 5 minutes to dry out (cover with a clean tea towel).
  3. Mash the potato, I find that a potato ricer works well but you can use just a normal masher (NEVER use a food processor to make mashed potatoes. They will become gooey and gluey).
  4. Melt the butter and cook the spring onions for 1 minute,  add the milk and on a low heat  warm through the mixture.
  5. Add the milk mixture to the mashed potatoes and mix. Season with salt and pepper and serve!
Perfect on its own or with cooked meat/fish.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Coffee and walnut cake

Coffee and walnut cake is an absolute classic cake. My favourite bit is the butter cream icing which I could eat most of before it even gets on the cake - but do wait as its really worth it!

  • 125g butter (not straight out of the fridge as it will be too hard!)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs (I prefer to use organic eggs)
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 heaped tbsp dried coffee mixed with 100mls of water
  • 100g walnut halves
For the icing you will need 200g of softened butter and 250g of icing sugar.


  1. Line a deep 18cm cake tin (loose-based or springform cake tin will be easier to get the cake out at the end). 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually mix in the egg, alternating with the sifted flour and add in the baking powder. 
  3. Beat in 1 tbsp of the coffee mixture and then add up to another tbsp little by little until the mixture drops easily off the spoon. Keep the rest of the coffee mixture for the icing. 
  4. Chop half of the walnuts and mix into the cake batter, keep the rest for the cake decoration.
  5. Spoon into the cake tin and cook for 40 minutes at  170C. You can check the cake to see if its cooked in the middle by putting a knife into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean then the cake is cooked.
  6. For the icing add the icing sugar, butter and remaining coffee mixture to a bowl and mix until smooth.
  7. To decorate the cake  cut the cake into 3 slices horizontally and then sandwich the layers together with some of the icing (like a thick layer of icing). Ice the top of the cake with the rest of the icing and decorate with the rest of the walnuts.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Mussels aka moules marinière

Mussels are in season ANY month as long as it has an 'R' in the name (September to March). My dad always let us try his fish dinners when we were younger, it felt like a real treat to be eating what he was and I have grown up adoring mussels. This recipe is prefect with crusty bread and a large glass of white wine, so simple and it will definitely impress friends and family!

How to prepare mussels:

  • Make sure they are fresh and eat them on the day you buy them.
  • Throw away and mussels which are broken and ones which do not close if tapped or lightly squeezed.
  • Do not soak the mussels in water as they will drown, give them a few rises instead to get rid of any dirt or grit.
  • Clean the mussels under running water - take a knife and remove any barnacles from the outside shell, also pull out the 'beard' which is the fibres which emerge from the mussels shell (you can pull this out or cut it off with a knife).
  • You can store them in a bowl under a damp cloth in the fridge until they are needed.

Serves 4 people
  • 1 bag or mussels or 1.75 kg
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 100mls white wine
  • 120mls double cream
  • Chopped parsley to serve

  1. Fry the onion and the celery in a large pan for 5-10 minutes until softened, add in the garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes .
  2. Add in the wine and the mussels, give it a stir and leave the lid on for 4-5 minutes until the mussels have opened.
  3. Add in the cream and scatter the parsley.
Serve in big bowls with chips or crusty bread to mop up the juices with!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Simple Carrot and Artichoke Soup

This recipe is great, really simple and full of flavour. Also Jerusalem  artichoke's are in season, I have to admit that I have never cooked them before so this is a nice simple way to start using them.


  • 450g carrots
  • 700g  Jerusalem artichoke's
  • 75g butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 1/2 pints of chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped parsley
  • Crème fraîche or cream to finish


  1. Peel the artichokes and soak them in salted water so they do not colour. Peel and chop the carrots and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter and cook the onion and celery for 5  minutes, then add the carrot and artichoke. Cook with the lid on for 10 mins so the juices release from the vegetables.
  3. Add the stock and put the lid back on for 20 minutes - it should be simmering and hot with the vegetables soft (you can test them with a knife).
  4. Liquidise the soup with a hand blender or in a food processor. Return back to the pan and season and warm through for serving.
Serve with a swirl of crème fraîche and chopped parsley and crust bread! Perfect.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Its British Pie Week! - My chicken, sweetcorn and tarragon pie

As its British Pie Week I thought I would share my favourite pie recipe, you just cant beat this combination. This recipe is perfect for rainy days and great with mash or just veg!

  • 4 Chicken breasts or some leftover roast chicken
  • 1 chopped onion (red or white)
  • 2 Leeks washed and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 150ml white wine (only use wine you would drink, if not just swap for extra chicken stock)
  • 150mls chicken stock
  • 142mls double cream
  • 1 sprig of chopped tarragon (or a teaspoon of dried)
  • 1 tin of sweetcorn
  • 1 sheet of ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg

  1. Sauté the onions and the leeks for 4-5 mins, the stir in the garlic. 
  2. Add the white wine and reduce by 2/3, add the stock and reduce by 1/2.
  3. Add in the cream, tarragon and sweetcorn then simmer until thickened.
  4. Season and then put it into a pie dish, cover with the puff pastry  and fold over the overhanging pastry on to the pastry lid. Brush with beaten egg and cook for 40 mins at  190ºC/375ºF/gas.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Cathy Crawford's version of Helena Lyttle's - Cheesy Potato Pie!

Word's cant really explain how good this is, so try it! Have it as a side dish with chilli, roast meat, pasta or as a vegetarian main with lots of veggies. Everyone adores the crispy top!

 This is a great dish to bring to a BBQ, or house party, Cathy always brings two to special events! It goes a long way and everyone comments on how Moorish it is. It is soooo simple. Also its even BETTER the next day heated up on its own :)

A note from Cathy Crawford: Thanks to my Auntie Helena Lyttle for my take on her legendary cheesy pie and lovely childhood memories. 


  • 10 potatoes( not floury potaoes they do ot slice as well)
  • 6oz grated  cheddar cheese and parmesan if you like
  • 1 pint milk
  • 2oz butter
  • 2 good  tbsp plain flour
  • grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • double cream (optional)
  1. Boil potatoes until cooked but still firm (10-15 mins), drain potatoes and set out on board to cool slightly before slicing. 
  2. Meanwhile prepare white sauce by melting butter, add flour and mix until it looks like buttery paste. Add the milk a little at a time (it is worth doing this slowly to ensure you get a lovely smooth sauce). Heat the  sauce stirring continuously  with a wooden spoon until sauce thickens.  If feeling naughty, add some double cream to the white sauce before adding the cheese. Add grated nutmeg then half of the of grated cheese and stir in until melted.. set sauce aside. 
  3. Put a layer of the sliced potatoes in the bottom of a lasagne dish or similar pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over and then pour on some of the cheese sauce and repeat until potatoes all used. Keep enough of the sauce to pour over the top layer of potatoes (its best with lot's of sauce!) Cover the top of the pie with grated cheese. You can also add parmesan or your favourite hard cheese.
  4. Cook in a pre heated oven until sauce is bubbling and the top is gorgeously melted and crispy (30-40 mins). 

Friday, 2 March 2012

Irish Lentil and Bacon Soup

This soup is perfect for when you have not been feeling very perky - which I have not recently! Also my boyfriend can cook it really well so I can relax and not worry that he is about to burn down the kitchen! 


  • 240g (a packet) of smoked bacon chopped
  • One chopped onion
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 250g Red split lentils
  • 2 pints of chicken stock
  • 3 peeled carrots

  1. Fry the bacon in a pan until crispy and golden brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Gently fry the onion until translucent, then try the garlic for 5 mins. Add the bacon again to the pan, lentils and the stock.
  3. Cook for 30-40 mins until thickened, 15 mins before the end grate the carrots in (I'm not a huge fan of carrots and I always end up leaving chunks of carrots so this way I can eat the whole soup!)
Serve with fresh bread, garlic bread or cheese on toast - perfect! Making me feel better already :)