Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Cranberry Croque Monsieur – Recipe 9 of 12 from Enjoy!

Cranberry Croque Monsieur
Look at this for a beautiful image, I can’t believe that it was photographed in my home.  It really shows how something very simple can be spectacular.  There is a misconception that because I am a food blogger with 2 published recipe books that the food in my house is always amazing. It’s not!  There are days when I am so busy with work that I don’t have time to shop or cook and there is always a frozen pizza or two in my freezer.  I am not a purist food saint.  Food made from fresh ingredients will always taste better than frozen food though and on one of the busy days I would definitely opt for this glorious croque monsieur over a pizza.   This will be an excellent use of any left-over baked ham and cranberry sauce after Christmas and that cheese, there will definitely be left-over cheese.

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling by Jette Virdi

Cranberry Croque Monsieur
Serves 1
You will need:
2 slices of granary or multi-seed whole-wheat bread
Butter
Cranberry sauce
Cooked ham slices
Cheddar cheese slices
Rocket leaves
Red onion, thinly sliced
Method:
Heat the sandwich toaster. Butter both sides of the bread, then smear one side with a generous layer of cranberry sauce. Cover with slices of ham and cheese and a scattering of rocket leaves and sliced onion. Close the sandwich, toast until golden brown and enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Vegetarian Lasagne

Vegetarian Lasagne – Recipe 7 of 12 from Enjoy!

Melt in the mouth.  That’s the description my daughter Éimear gave as she tucked in heartily to a mammoth portion of this vegetarian lasagne yesterday.  When I cook I often ask myself what can I do to make something  easier and for this recipe it was the white sauce.  For a classic white sauce there would be infusing of flavours into milk, the making of a roux and at least 15 to 20 minutes cooking  to the end result.  Mine takes probably 3 minutes at most.
Stash this recipe for one of those “i need something other than turkey” days of the holidays because it’s now only 5 more weeks (recipes) until Christmas!! The lights went on in Cork City this evening so let the shopping begin.
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne
Vegetarian Lasagne:
You will need:
250g green speckled or puy lentils (see the note below)
4 garlic cloves
2 medium onions
3 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus a little extra
300g mushrooms
2 tsp oregano
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
3 tbsp water
250g ricotta cheese
75g grated Parmesan, plus a little extra
150ml crème fraîche (approx. 6 tbsps
2 tbsp basil pesto
Fresh lasagne pasta sheets
Method:
Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a peeled clove of garlic and bring to the boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for a further 15–20 minutes, then drain, removing and discarding the garlic clove.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons of the rapeseed oil in a large pan over a low heat, then add the onions and let them soften for 5 minutes. Peel and crush the three remaining garlic cloves. Add to the softened onion, stir through and cook for 1 minute.
Chop the mushrooms into bite-size pieces. Turn the heat up add them to the pan of onions along with the oregano and another tablespoon of oil. Stir through and cook for a couple of minutes, until the mushrooms start to colour.
Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the cooked, drained lentils. Stir well, then add the tomato purée and water. Reduce to a simmer for a couple of minutes while you prepare the cheesy sauce.
Preheat a fan oven to 180°C.
Mix the ricotta, grated Parmesan, crème fraîche and basil pesto together in a bowl to a thick sauce consistency. If you need to loosen it up a little, add some oil.
Layer up the lasagne in a large ovenproof baking dish – spread half of the lentil mix on the base of the dish and top with a layer of lasagne sheets, then the remaining lentil mix, half of the cheese sauce, a layer of lasagne sheets, then the remaining cheese sauce. Top with a little grated Parmesan and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cheese is turning golden brown.
Note: Follow the directions on your packet of lentils for cooking – the ones I buy don’t require pre-soaking, but some do. Feel free to substitute a drained tin of pre-cooked lentils if you prefer.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

baked potato close up

Eight Ways with Baked Potatoes – Recipe 6 of 12 from Enjoy!

The humble spud.  A divine medium to be elevated, cajoled, flourished, transformed in whatever direction you chose.  Mash, Champ, Deep-fry, Roast, Gratin, Dauphinoise, Hasselback, Gnocchi, Rosti, Hash, Boxty or as is here kept simple and straightforward baked in its skin until a crispy edible shell beholds a smooth creamy innard that deserves to be adorned.  Here I crown it with Irish Wicklow Blue Brie, Cranberry Sauce and a garnish of chives which will be a simple way come Christmas time to use up that extravagant cheese-board selection and those extra  jars of ‘just in case’ cranberry sauce.
irish wicklow blue brie
cranberry sauce
baked potatoes
In my cookbook Enjoy! I offer 8 alternative ways to serve baked potatoes and it makes a fabulously easy Saturday supper.

Eight Ways with Baked Potatoes
You will need / Method:
Large baking potatoes (I normally use Roosters)
Pre-heat oven to 200oC
Bake scrubbed potatoes (skin on) for 45 minutes to an hour  (depending on size) (push a knife into the centre and it should glide easily when done)
Then indulge with lashings of melted butter, salt and pepper
Or serve in any of the 8 following ways:

  1. Heated kidney beans with chopped red chilli, sprinkled with chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and finished with a dollop of Greek yoghurt

or

  1. Spiced ratatouille – soften some chopped onions, garlic, peppers and celery in oil with a dash of smoked paprika

or

  1. Herby lentils – simply soften a chopped onion in a little oil with some herbes de Provence, then add a tin of drained lentils and heat it through

or

  1. Brie, cranberry sauce and rocket leaves

 

  1. Crispy fried pancetta, grated Parmesan and rocket leaves

or

  1. Basil pesto and diced cooked chicken breast with halved cherry tomatoes

or

  1. Garlic butter and peppered sweetcorn kernels – heat a tin of sweetcorn, add a knob of garlic butter and season generously with freshly ground salt and black pepper

or

  1. Halved black olives, feta cubes, sliced beef tomato, sliced red onion and a drizzle of rapeseed oil

    No.4 being the simplest is my favourite embellished with a scattering of chives!
    baked potato close up
    Enjoy!
    ‘Til next time, Sheila

red massaman chicken

Red Massaman Chicken – Recipe 4 of 12 from Enjoy!

Crushed peanuts are a great garnish for a massaman

Red Massaman Chicken
red massaman chicken
I made this for dinner the other night and it went down a bomb. Now you might think that something going ‘down a bomb’ was a bad thing but no, here in Ireland it’s the opposite. There are so many expressions that we use that, to be properly understood, require an insight into the Irish psyche. We do sarcasm and ridicule very, very well. For example if I was to say to you ‘I will yeah’ and you are an American you will probably think that I am in agreement about something but if you were to listen intently you will notice the lengthy stressing of the ‘yeaaaah’ and you will understand that in fact what is meant is that ‘I absolutely will not.’ Likewise if I were to say ‘I will in my hole’, that does not mean that I am retreating to some hidden cave to do something but in fact means ‘I have no intention whatsoever…’ We’re also great at the slagging (teasing) which can be harmless but if something is prefaced with ‘no offence but….’ you’re just about to be insulted. We don’t do compliments well, either in the giving or the taking and insults are hoarded like gold coins to be churned out ad infinitum and never forgotten.

Feeding people though, we’re good at that. On a visit to Canada in the summer as a young student I was well looked after by friends of my parents and friends of their friends in turn. Barbeques by a lakeshore with incredible steaks, foil baked roast potatoes and sweetcorn. Wherever you go Irish people will feed you. I’ll always remember when we called unannounced to a particular family who were just about to have dinner when the matriarch swiftly produced extra plates and effortlessly dished out plenty for everyone. ‘My mother always told me to put on extra potatoes,’ she said, ‘just in case.’ Which brings me to this massaman curry, the link being the potatoes and I can guarantee that you if you decide to throw on a few extra potatoes they won’t go astray but will soak up the delicious sauce and can be savoured reheated for lunch the next day.
As this is recipe No. 4 of 12 from Enjoy! before Christmas I’d like to suggest that this would be an excellent way of using up chunks of left-over turkey meat come the holiday season just substitute in your cooked turkey for the chicken and you’re set for some spicy comfort.
massaman chicken

Note on equipment: As this makes a large quantity, you need to have:

  • 1 large, wide frying pan to cook the chicken with the massaman paste
  • 1 large frying pan or griddle pan to cook the vegetables separately
  • 1 large saucepan to combine the chicken and vegetables
  • Mini-chopper and/or food processor  for the massaman paste  ( You could use with a fine julienne attachment or a julienne peeler for the carrots or simply make your own by cutting to matchstick size with knife)

Serves 8
You will need:
350g baby potatoes (approx. 8–10 baby potatoes)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
4 chicken breasts
Half a red pepper (second half will be used in paste below– no waste!)
4 spring onions
150g fine green beans
150g mangetout
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
250g cherry tomatoes
750ml vegetable stock
1 x 400ml tin of full-fat coconut milk
Handful of salted peanuts, roughly crushed, to serve
For the massaman paste: (You will Need:)
5 cardamom pods
Half a red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Thumb-size chunk of fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp lemongrass paste (or 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp hot chill powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
Method:
Microwave the baby potatoes, skin on, with a splash of water for about 4 minutes, until firm but just turning tender. Cut in half and set aside.

Finely chop the onion. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, wide frying pan over a low heat. Add the chopped onion and leave to soften for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces, then add to the onion and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the massaman paste, bash the cardamom pods – a pestle and mortar is good for this job – to release the seeds and discard the husks. Use a mini-chopper or food processor to blitz all the massaman ingredients, including the cardamom seeds, into a paste. Add the massaman paste to the chicken, turn the heat up to high and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cut the red pepper into thin slices, slice the spring onions and halve the green beans. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a second frying pan over a high heat and toss in the sliced red pepper, spring onions, green beans, rinsed mangetout, julienned carrots and whole cherry tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Put the semi-cooked chicken into a large saucepan and add the vegetable stock and coconut milk, mixing well. Turn the heat up to high, then add the cooked vegetables and the cooked halved baby potatoes. If necessary, add some additional vegetable stock to cover all the chicken and vegetables.
Once the massaman begins to just about bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave it to finish cooking with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with fluffy boiled rice with a scattering of crushed salted peanuts over the top.
Enjoy!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Enjoy Spiced Chicken

Spiced Chicken Burger – Recipe 3 of 12 from Enjoy!

A week ago today as evening time approached and an away rugby match was scheduled I pondered food.  Friday is when I usually eat leftovers out of the fridge or have pizza or takeaway and collapse in a heap on the couch for the evening.  If I do cook on a Friday it’s usually something in the takeaway genre such as a chicken curry.  Time was short so instead I opted for a spiced chicken burger.  One of the cooking tips that I have picked up over the years is the pounding of a chicken fillet with a rolling-pin to flatten it for faster cooking.  Once pounded and doused in spices it will cook in about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, so fast food it is.  My toasted panini was stuffed with the chicken, some rocket, tomato and coleslaw and I was well satisfied in advance of the rugby game.  Onwards to Kinsale we drove in wind and rain to be greeted by a pitch full of fog and a game abandoned!

Spiced Chicken Burger

Food photography Marta Miklinska, Food Styling Jette Virdi

Weather has been a key talking point in Ireland this week with hurricane Ophelia leaving a devastating mark here on Monday and Storm ‘Brian’ looms over the coming hours.  This morning I saw a tweet of a beautiful picture of first snowfall in Sierra Nevada, Spain that fell yesterday.  It’s only October but this wintry weather has us staying indoors and looking to all things cosy and yes, getting that odd tingle of excitement for Christmas.  9 weeks to go!!!

Enjoy Spiced Chicken

My version – Last Friday!

You will need:
Chicken fillets (1 per person)
Ground cumin
Curry powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Plain flour
Coconut or rapeseed oil, for frying
Multi-seed ciabattas or burger buns, panini etc.,
Coleslaw, rocket leaves and thinly sliced red onion, to serve
Note: use whatever spices you like, paprika, coriander, chilli powder would all be good too!
Method:
Use a rolling pin to bash and flatten the chicken fillets for quicker cooking.
Assemble a spice plate by mixing together some ground cumin, curry powder, freshly ground black pepper and a little flour, then dip the flattened chicken fillets in this, making sure it’s coated on both sides.
Heat some oil in a large frying pan or griddle pan.
Cook the coated chicken fillets on each side for a few minutes, until nicely coloured and cooked through.
Cut the fillets to size to fill your ciabatta or burger bun and load it up with some coleslaw, rocket leaves and sliced red onion.
…or whatever you fancy!
Enjoy!,
‘Til next time, Sheila