Roasted Cauliflower with Carrot Ribbons & Salsa Verde

Dinner, Salad

I know what your thinking…cauliflower… it’s not that tasty, I hate it, ugh how could you eat it?? Well I promise you, it’s not any of the above. Blanching and slow roasting, allows it to tenderise and burst with flavour. I learnt this cooking method whilst attending a course recently with the Dublin Cookery School and it’s been a constant on my weekly menu since! The cauliflower is perfect on it’s own as a side dish or add some salsa verde, carrot ribbons and sauteed cauliflower leaves for some colour and texture as a main dish. It also works great with a big juicy steak or roast beef.

  • 1/2 whole cauliflower
  • 8 inner cauliflower leaves
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp salsa verde
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and pre-heat an oven to 180°C.
  2. Peel the leaves off the cauliflower, roughly chop the inner paler coloured leaves for later. Divide the cauliflower into florets or wedges.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the cauliflower wedges and blanch for 2 mins. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl.
  4. Add 1 tsp coconut oil to a large baking tray and melt in the oven. Add the blanched wedges onto the tray with the peeled garlic cloves and thyme. Stir to combine.
  5. Place the tray in the oven and allow the cauliflower to roast for 20-30 mins until soft through.
  6. Prepare the salsa verde. For the carrots, use a vegetable peeler to create long thin carrot ribbons, stir through the olive oil and apple cider vinegar until lightly dressed. Place both in the fridge until required.
  7. Once the cauliflower has roasted, remove from the oven and cover with tinfoil to keep warm. Place a pan on a medium heat and lightly sauté the roughly chopped cauliflower leaves.
  8. To serve: place a layer of cauliflower leaves, top with the cauliflower wedges/florets, spoon over the salsa verde and add the carrot ribbons to finish.

Just Eat Jerusalem

Reviews

As part of the upcoming Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards final, Just Eat the sponsors of the Food & Drink category challenged all the shortlisters to “Discover Something New” from their takeaway menu. €20 to spend on food seemed like a fair deal for such a tough challenge. Particularly after the week I’d had with numerous highs and lows on the football field and supporting the Tipperary hurlers, whilst also organising World Physiotherapy Day in work….it was an emotional and hectic few days and I deserved a night off from the kitchen so this competition couldn’t of been better timed.

Since it was World Physiotherapy Day, I was feeling very international and decided to delve in the wonderful world of middle eastern food and sample what Jerusalem on Camden Street had to offer. Jerusalem is a restaurant more than likely anyone who has ever been out in Dublin has walked past but I had never stepped foot inside and tasted their menu.When I think of Middle Eastern food, hummus, flatbread, chicken shawerma, pistachio baklava, tabbouleh and herb salads come to mind. The Jerusalem menu has plenty on offer and I spent a good half an hour whittling my choices down. Eventually, I ordered a falafel platter, Waraq Enab (stuffed vine leaves), Fatayer El Sabanikh (spinach and herb pastry parcels), halloumi and a mixed char-grill….it wasn’t all for me, my housemate was on the ticket too.

Once the food arrived, I assembled a mezze from all the dishes in true Middle Eastern style and we dug in. The highlights for me were without doubt the hummus – creamy, moreish and smooth; the falafel – one of my favourites when it’s done well and Jerusalem know how to make falafel; the stuffed vine leaves – bursting with flavour and finally the char-grilled lamb – smoky flavour filled goodness.All in all, it was a great feast and I would certainly order again from Jerusalem. I would probably not order the char-grilled meat as for me it needed reheating and with a take-away you shouldn’t need to do that.

  • Food quality: high excluding the salad garnishes
  • Value for money: filled two hungry people well plus plenty for lunch the next day; the total did exceed the €20 but I happily paid it
  • Temperature: the char-grilled meat was cold to be honest but still full of flavour
  • Highlight: stuffed vine leaves & hummus – could eat them all day
  • Lowlight: halloumi – would benefit from being marinated before grilling

Spicy Chicken & Beans

Dinner

I recently got a challenge from some of my friends to make a recipe using chicken and beans and this is the very tasty result. I’ve added a few more ingredients but they are things you will easily find in your cupboards at home. The tomato based sauce can be prepared ahead and frozen in batches or stored in the fridge. The sauce works great as a base for pasta dishes or mixed through some mince or shredded chicken for a quick and easy dinner. Serve the chicken with rice, mashed potatoes/vegetables or steamed green vegetables.

Serves 5.

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 paprika
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco or hot chilli sauce
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin cannellini/butter beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 3 large handfuls spinach
  • 3 rashers, chopped or 50g bacon lardons
  • 5 chicken breasts/thighs
  1. Preheat an oven to 160°C.
  2. Over a medium heat, fry off the chopped rashers in a large saucepan. Once nicely browned, remove to the side and rinse the pan.
  3. Melt the coconut oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.
  4. Add the cooked rashers, dried herbs, spices and tomatoes to the pan and continue to cook until the sauce begins to bubble. (At this stage you could place the sauce into a container, allow to cool and place in the fridge or freezer for future use.)
  5. Reduce the heat and stir through the beans and spinach before transferring to a large ovenproof dish.
  6. Rinse the saucepan and brown the chicken on all sides.
  7. Nestle the chicken breasts amongst the bean mix and cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Honey Baked Fruit with Yoghurt

Treats

In need of a little after dinner treat but trying to be good and stay away chocolate and cakes? Then this recipe is the one for you. Any stoned or cored fruit works great. Cinnamon would be a great addition for the winter months to really warm you from the inside out and keep away any colds. They take no length in the oven to bake, so pop them in whilst your cooking your dinner or just after you serve if you want them for a later treat. Pairing them with some yoghurt like the new reduced sugar Bio organic range from Glenisk is great as a light option and a simple way to reduce your sugar intake naturally.

Serves 2.

  • 1 pear
  • 1 plum
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp granola
  • 2 tbsp natural/Greek yoghurt (currently loving Glenisk Bio organic natural yoghurt)
  1. Preheat an oven to 160C.
  2. Halve and de-stone/core the pear and plum.
  3. Place skin side down in a baking tray or ovenproof dish.
  4. Drizzle the honey over the fruits and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
  5. To serve: divide the fruit amongst two plates, place a tbsp of yoghurt into the centre of the pear and sprinkle over the granola.

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.