Hot Smoked Salmon & Avocado Salad

Dinner, Fish, Lunch, Salad

This salad doesn’t get much easier, it’ll be ready in three easy steps and demolished in minutes!! Salmon and avocado are packed full of healthy fatty acids so perfect for all diets and great for bone, muscle and heart health.

Serves 2.

  • 1 head baby gem lettuce
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 cooked beetroot
  • 2 radish
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 portion hot smoked salmon (substitute regular smoked/tinned salmon either)
  • 2 tbsp Frenchie dressing
  1. Roughly chop the lettuce. Thinly slice the celery and radish. Cube the cucumber, beetroot and avocado.
  2. Gently flake the smoked salmon fillet into chunks.
  3. Divide the vegetables amongst the 2 plates, sprinkle over the salmon and drizzle with the dressing.

Berry Oat Recharger

Breakfast, Juice, Snack

Recovery after tough exercise is vital for our muscles to repair and develop. A simple mix of both protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes is backed by evidence to provide the necessary nutrients to our bodies. This smoothie is light and easy to digest whilst being super quick to prepare. If I’m traveling some distance to training, I will blend up the fruit and oats with a little water at home and simply buy some milk after training to mix through so that the milk doesn’t sour in my gear bag. I’ve used blackcurrants here but any berry combination would be perfect!

  • 3 tbsp oats
  • 2 tbsp blackcurrants
  • 1/2 medium apple
  • 300ml milk
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or tall jar if using a handheld blender.
  2. Blend until smooth, add some more milk or water if you find the consistency too thick.

 

Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016

Uncategorized

Great bit of news for the blog that I found out yesterday that I’ve been shortlisted for this years Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards Blog Awards in the Food & Drink category. A public vote has just opened today until Tuesday 23rd August 2016, this amounts for 20% of the total vote so I would appreciate as much support as possible. You can vote for me here http://bit.ly/2befwEO.

Thanks again to everyone for all the support!!

Littlewoods-Blog-Awards-2016-Website-MPU_Shortlist

Galgorm Resort & Spa Review

Reviews

The Galgorm?? I hear you say, where is that? What is it? Well I thought the same until a couple of months ago when I received an invite from Scarlett PR to complete a review of the resort and restaurant, after a quick Google, I very gladly accepted the invitation! The Galgorm is in fact the 2016 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards Hotel of the Year. It was my Mam’s birthday a couple of days before the planned trip so what better way to celebrate than accompanying me on this getaway.Little did I think, we would not only get to taste some incredible food from the triple AA rosette awarded restaurant, The River Room, but also get to be pampered whilst enjoying the spa and Ireland’s only outdoor thermal village which only opened earlier this year. The resort has undergone some major redevelopment in the last few months with a new accommodation wing and the aforementioned addition of the outdoor thermal village alongside an extension to the existing spa. These additions exude luxury in a very sympathetic way to the beautiful natural surroundings that the Galgorm is nestled in.

The Galgorm is situated just outside Ballymena in Galgorm village, which is 30 minutes from Belfast and just over 2 hours from Dublin. Once you pass through the gates of the resort you are suddenly cocooned in a tree lined avenue before the hotel comes into view in front of carefully manicured lawns with the River Maine cascading to one side. You are immediately captivated by the natural beauty whilst being whisked far away from your daily life and I felt myself already begin to switch off before I had even checked in. For a hotel a lot of people haven’t heard of, we were greeted by a queue to check-in at reception!! Thankfully, head doorman David welcomes every guest on arrival, he found out we were booked into a deluxe bedroom and we got whisked away to a separate reception to complete our check-in. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend the deluxe rooms, they are beautifully furnished, spacious and provide a great view over the river and thermal village.Once we had settled into the room, it was straight into our robes and direct to the spa to let the pampering begin. They provide you with a map of the thermal village and you really do need it….outdoor and indoor saunas, steam rooms, outdoor jacuzzis and pools, mutliple relaxation areas, two indoor pools and an ice cave (-10°C…..yes it’s very cold) are just some of the things to try. Last but not least are the outdoor wood-fired hot-tubs nestled along the River Maine, one was booked for us to try and they really are a treat, the bottle of champagne and chocolate truffles added just a little to the experience!

All that pampering is tough work so it was no length before hunger had struck and it was dinner time at The River Room for a fabulous four course meal. Chef Jonnie Boyd has lovingly created a small but creative menu offering extensive use of local artisan and seasonal ingredients. To start, we were treated to some snacks of perfectly cooked arancini balls and crab meat on crisped chicken skin alongside some beautifully baked sourdough bread with Abernethy butter.
For my starter, I had local pickled eel, radish and blackened cucumber – a simple dish packed with light and fresh flavours.
Next up were the mains, where I had to go for the beef fillet, brisket, purple sprouting broccoli puree and curly kale – the beef was cooked to perfection and very well presented with some gorgeous onion puree. As a side, I ordered the seasonal greens which for me were just perfection, al dente green beans and mangetout served on a bed of pea purée – I literally could of eaten an entire plate of just them alone!! Then came the dessert, a buttemilk pannacotta with raspberry sorbet, elderflower jelly and honeycomb was my selection whilst my Mam went for a dark chocolate pavé with passionfruit purée and sorbet – both dishes were expertly crafted and displayed, with plenty of subtle flavours that didn’t overpower each other whilst leaving you wanting more.
And more was what we got in the form of handmade chocolate orange truffles and cherry marshmallows. After all that eating, you’d imagine you might be stuffed to the gills but no it was a very well balanced meal that left you feeling content and satisfied.

After a great nights sleep, it was time for breakfast! This is one of my favourite things about staying in a hotel, both the cold buffet and cooked breakfast provided plenty of selection that you couldn’t be disappointed. We went for salmon gravalax and a Mediterranean chorizo and vegetable tagine which normally is served with baked eggs but I substituted them with some goats cheese. These lovely little fruit and yoghurt pots were the perfect finish.The resort grounds really are naturally beautiful and perfect for a leisurely walk or jog along the river banks. There are also plenty of sightseeing to be done with the Causeway coastline only 30 minutes away with Portush, the Giants Causeway, Bushmills, Ballycastle, Cushendall and Rathlin Island all within reach. If you do venture to Portrush, I came across a lovely little beachside café called Babushka which is well worth a visit.Since, we had made the journey from Tipperary, we decided to add on another’s night stay. This really meant we got to get full value from the spa and the hotel, as it has three dining options including Gillies Bar & Grill and Fratelli Ristorante & Pizzeria, so there is something for all taste-buds and budgets. The resort also has two bars including the Gillies Bar which has nightly music with the Conservatory boasting a gin bar with a selection of over 300 international varieties to choose from, one of the mixologists mentioned that they have to get the shelving extended to showcase the full collection. I’m sure the most keen of G&T drinkers would be spoilt for choice.7baa95ce-22a3-47ad-8c9b-912ccb4a6ed2

In my opinon, I would return to the Galgorm in the morning as it combines the perfect combination of quality food, great service, gorgeous surroundings and needless to say a very relaxing spa and thermal village. It would be a great place to celebrate a special occasion, birthday or simply for anyone in need of a well deserved break. The Galgorm may only be two hours from Dublin but I felt a lot further away from my busy normal routine!

I was invited along to experience the Galgorm Resort & Spa by Scarlettt PR, although all thoughts and opinions shared in this post are entirely my own.

 

Cheesey Bruschetta Pesto Toasts

Lunch, Snack

I’m not the biggest eater of bread but when I am going to eat some, my general rules are homemade or else locally produced sourdough. Sourdough is possibly the purest bread of all with only three ingredients (water, flour & time). If you fancy making your own, I would recommend trying Riot Rye‘s foolproof method, time & patience is required but you will be well rewarded for your efforts I promise! Bruschetta is a great option when in a hurry or simply have very little in the fridge. The pesto should last for 1-2 weeks in a jar in the fridge. Simply add your favourite toppings & enjoy!

 Coriander Pesto:

  • 50g cashews
  • 50g walnuts
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 50g coriander include the stalks
  • 25g parmesan
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Bruschetta:

  • 2 slices fresh sourdough bread
  • 4 tbsp cottage cheese
  • toppings of your choice: sliced cherry tomatoes, olives, sauteed mushrooms with butter & garlic, parma ham, smoked salmon
  1. For the pesto: simply add all the ingredients with half the oil into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the remaining oil little by little until you get a suitable texture, taste as you go. 
  2. For the bruschetta: heat the grill, spread 1 tbsp of pesto on each slice of bread and place under the grill until lightly toasted. Top with the cottage cheese & the toppings of choice. Return to the grill for 2-3 minutes.

 

Beetroot, Feta & Kale Salad

Lunch, Salad

I have a serious obsession with beetroot simple can’t get enough of it. About three years ago, I wouldn’t of touched one with a barge pole but at the moment it seems to end up on most of my plates or lunchboxes. Beetroot and a strong flavour like goat’s cheese or Feta are a great tasting combination. If you are bringing this for lunch to work, I’d recommend you bring the dressing separate in a little jar and mix through just before eating.

Serves 2 as a starter or side-salad.

  • 2 handfuls kale
  • 1 handful rocket leaves
  • 1/5 of cucumber
  • 1 medium freshly cooked or vacuum packed cooked beetroot
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin & sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp crumbled Feta cheese

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  1. Roughly tear the kale into bite size pieces.
  2. Cut the cucumber in half length-ways, spoon out the soft center and thinly slice into half moons.
  3. Finely grate or Julienne the pear.
  4. Place the pear and vegetables in a bowl.
  5. Mix together all the dressing ingredients and stir through the salad ingredients.
  6. Transfer to a serving plate and spoon over the seeds and cheese.

Charred Baby Gem with Tahini & Dukkah

Dinner, Salad, Snack

Food waste is a major sin in my mind so this recipe is great to use up lettuce or type of cabbage before it goes off. I used a grill pan but these would work well on the BBQ too just make sure to oil the lettuce first and stand over the BBQ to make sure they don’t blacken on you!! If you don’t have tahini or Dukkah (find it in your local health food shop or large supermarket; I make my own using Ottolenghi’s recipe), sprinkle some balsamic vinegar or a spoon full of your favourite herb/spice/chopped nuts on top.

Serves 2.

  • 2 baby gem lettuce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp Dukkah
  1. Remove the stalk of the lettuce and cut lengthways in half. 
  2. Bring a dry grill pan to smoking point, reduce the heat a little, roll the lettuce in olive oil and place onto the grill with a sizzle.
  3. Flip over once nicely charred on one side.
  4. Remove from the pan and sprinkle the tahini and Dukkah on top.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Treats

My favourite desserts include raspberries so since it was my birthday this week they had to feature! The mousse recipe comes courtesy of Eunice Power with a pecan, coconut & cacao base topped with a dark chocolate ganache. The mousse simply on its own would be perfect served in ramekins or jars with a drizzle of the ganache and some fresh berries. So go on, try the recipe and treat yourself & someone special.

  • 100ml water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 400g fresh/frozen raspberries 
  • Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 leaves gelatine
  • 125g pecan nuts
  • 3 tbsp dessicated coconut 
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 70g coconut oil, melted 
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150ml cream
  • 150g creme fraiche
  • 2 egg whites
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Line a 20cm springform tin with cling film, grease the tin first with a little oil to ensure the it sticks.
  2. Place the caster sugar & water in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  3. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and zest and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and blitz in a food processor or blender. 
  5. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. 
  6. Cover the gelatine in cold water and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  7. Blitz the nuts in a food processor, blender or place in a resealable bag and bash with a rolling pin until you get a fine crumble.
  8. Combine the dessicated coconut, cacao, vanilla essence and melted coconut oil with the nuts. Create an even layer in the bottom of the tin. Place in the fridge to set.
  9. Place the raspberry purée in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Squeeze any water from the gelatine and stir through the purée until fully combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  10. Whip the cream and creme fraiche together into soft peaks.
  11. Whisk the egg whites together until they begin to form stiff peaks, at this stage gradually add 1 tbsp of icing sugar at a time as you continue to whisk.
  12. Fold the egg whites into the cream and gradually add the raspberry purée, ensure no pockets of the cream mixture is left.
  13. Pour the mousse into the lines tin. Gently tap the bottom of the tin off the countertop to remove any air bubbles.
  14. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight. 
  15. Once set, melted the dark chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering pan. Remove from the heat once melted and stir through the coconut oil.
  16. Gently remove the cake from the tin and peel off the cling film. Pour over the dark chocolate topping and top with some fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
  17. Store in the fridge.

Veggie Prawns in a Garlic, Tomato & Cashew Sauce

Dinner, Fish

Love when I’m rustling around the bottom of the fridge & these kind of magical accidents happen! Kale, spinach or any leafy green can be used instead of the cabbage or bulk it up a bit more with sweet potato instead of carrot. The sauce would work great through pasta or simply as a dip.

Serves 2.

  • 3 tbsp raw cashews
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 100ml water
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 courgette
  • 30g sugar snap green beans
  • 1/2 head Savoy cabbage
  • 100g frozen pre-cooked prawns
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  1. In a bowl, cover the cashews with water & allow to soak for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat an oven to 180C and melt 1 tsp coconut oil in a roasting tray. Add the whole cherry tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves. Roast for 20-30 mins until the tomato skins have blistered.
  3. Defrost the prawns by placing in a bowl of water.
  4. Chop the carrot, courgette and sugar snaps into bite size pieces. Steam gently until the carrots are cooked through.
  5. Melt the remaining coconut oil in a large frying pan. Finely slice the cabbage and sauté in the pan for about 5 mins, add the strained and rinsed defrosted prawns and continue to cook until warm through.
  6. For the sauce: strain and rinse the cashews, add the roasted garlic and tomatoes with 100ml of water to the nuts and blitz with a hand blender until a thick sauce consistency is formed.
  7. Add the steamed veg and sauce to the frying pan and stir together until well coated over a low heat.

Mexican Bean Salsa

Dinner, Lunch, Salad

This salsa simply sings with all the best things about food: colour, texture, flavour and goodness. Fresh corn on the cob works best but tinned corn will be fine too. Serve alongside some Citrus Chicken and smoky paprika sweet potato wedges, add to a crunchy lettuce cup as a quick snack or simply eat directly off the spoon.

Serves 4.

  • 2 vacuum packed fresh corn on the cob or 1 x 400g tin corn
  • 1 x 400g tin kidney beans
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 fistful fresh coriander
  • 1/2 fresh lime
  1. Cook the corn on the cob as per packet or rinse tinned corn. Once cooked, heat a grill pan until smoking and lightly charr the corn on all sides.
  2. Allow to cool and cut the corn off the cob.
  3. Drain and rinse the kidney beans, dice the tomatoes, finely slice the spring onions and finely chop the coriander.
  4. Place all the vegetables in a large bowl, squeeze in the lime juice and mix well.