Dark Chocolate & Walnut Afghan Cookies

Treats

Afghan cookies are a New Zealand classic treat. As I’m travelling around New Zealand at the moment, it would be rude not to eat like a local. Traditionally Afghan cookies are made with crumbled corn flakes. As I am not a major fan of corn flakes, I have substituted them for chopped walnuts. I think grated fresh or crystallized ginger would also be great additions to these cookies.

Don’t worry if the cookie mixture becomes quite dry when mixing. Simply mould the dough into a big ball and create cookie portions with your hands.

The cookies will keep fresh in a airtight container or bag for at least 4 days.

Makes 12 cookies.20170619_135409-01

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 200g dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 12 whole walnuts for decorating
  1. Preheat an oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray with a little coconut oil.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater.
  3. Add the vanilla essence, chopped walnuts and coconut.
  4. Sift in the cocoa and flour and mix well together.
  5. Place tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough on the prepared baking tray. Flatten each cookie with the back of a spoon and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  7. For the cookie icing: melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water. Once melted, stir in the coconut oil until glossy.
  8. Spoon the chocolate over each cookie and add a whole walnut to finish.

 

 

The Taste of Dublin with Stuart O’Keeffe

Reviews

With this year’s The Taste of Dublin just around the corner, I decided to catch up with fellow Tipperary native Chef Stuart O’Keeffe. Stuart is amongst a whole host of culinary creators at this year’s event who are bringing the “Flavours of the World” to Ireland. Live demonstrations include the likes of Robin Gill from The Dairy in London, Gill Meller from River Cottage and closer to home, Aoife Noonan, Enda McEvoy and Clodagh McKenna are only a few of the names from over thirty leading world class chefs.

Chef Stuart O'Keeffe, Delalicious, interview

From Tipperary to West Hollywood, how did it all begin?

Stuart credits both his mother and aunt as catalysts for his cooking career and feels that we all should start cooking from a young age. “Both my mother and aunt are and were so passionate about cooking which made me love it even more. Looking back now, I am so glad I got involved. I make better choices cooking now and know what I am talking about.”

As Stuart’s recipes focus on wholesome and simple ingredients he feels that; “It’s so important for parents to cook for their kids at a young age, even if it’s just simple things. You don’t have to be a professional to cook for your family.”

For anyone who’s not read or flicked through Stuart’s first cookbook “The Quick Six Fix”. The recipes are incredibly wholesome and I was intrigued to find out where Stuart draws his inspiration from. “I get inspiration from everywhere, magazines, restaurants and sometimes just playing around in the kitchen with what I have at hand. I guess it’s a love for what I do and thankfully recipe ideas come fast for me.”

Chef Stuart O'Keeffe, Delalicious, interview, cookbook

The variety of life!

Life as a chef can be very varied and Stuart’s most definetly has been so far. Cooking live on TV, as a private chef for celebrities, working in restaurants and publishing cookbooks are just a few of what his career has entailed so far. What I wanted to know was which is his favourite area to work in and you just have to love his answer!! “My favourite aspect of what I do is definitely doing the live TV segments. You always feel a bit on edge and you’re kinda half shitting yourself with fear of something going wrong. Thankfully it always works out in the end.”

Working and living on the west coast of America is obviously the dream for many but there must be aspects of life, food and culture in Ireland that Stuart misses. Guess what he misses most? “I miss the heartiness of food that we have back home in Ireland. I TRULY miss the breakfasts at home, you just can’t compete with a full Irish. For me, it’s my favourite meal of the day!”

For anyone with travels plans to Stuart’s adopted home in America this summer. Here are his favourite places to eat in West Hollywood. “I love to eat at Cecconi’s (which is also a good star spotting place) and I also do love Jar. Make sure to check these two out.”

What does the future hold for Chef Stuart?

As his food series “Stuart’s Kitchen” with both TV3 and American TV channels are such a success and not to mention a bestselling cookbook, I wondered what the future had in store for Chef Stuart. Would be coming home to start any new ventures in Ireland any time soon? “All those things are always on the cards. I will keep on pitching new ideas for TV shows and would love to do a combo show highlighting Ireland and America in a series. I will be home for The Taste of Dublin event in the Iveagh Gardens this month and am really looking forward to meeting up with everyone during my demo’s. I’m also really excited to reveal that I’m currently at the initial stages for cookbook number two!!”Chef Stuart O'Keeffe, Delalicious, interview So another cookbook to add to the ever expanding collection!! As his first cookbook focuses on the simplicity of cooking with accessible ingredients. I wondered if Stuart would have any tips for someone new to cooking and slightly petrified at the thought of being in the kitchen. Here are his top three tips:

  1. Purchase a cast-iron skillet pan, it will be reward your investment and become your new best friend.
  2. Do your grocery shopping the day before you want to cook. This will make it SO much easier for when you arrive home from work the following day.
  3. Remember, just do one thing at a time.

The Taste of Dublin

Finally, for everyone attending this year’s The Taste of Dublin this is what Stuart has in store for you. “I will be at the Dublin Cookery School interactive cooking stand on Friday and Saturday so please come along and cook with me. I have this wonderful one pot meal recipe for everyone to try that is perfect for midweek dinners. Over on the main stage, I’ll be doing a Californian Inspired Taco recipe.” I love Tacos so I’m very jealous of everyone getting to sample that recipe!!

If you haven’t already bought your ticket to this year’s event then keep an eye on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts this week for more details about the chance to win two Sunday tickets!!

Taste Of Dublin, Delalicious, Chef Stuart O'Keeffe

Curried Apricot & Raisin Couscous

Lunch, Salad

Couscous is a perfect option for batch cooking. Cooking in batches at the start of the week or over the weekend is the secret to maintaining a healthy diet or working towards a nutrition goal.

As it is officially summer at home in Ireland, it’s time for salads. Adding some grains to your salad is an easy way to bulk up your lunchbox at work. I have used giant or Israeli couscous here but regular couscous, bulgur wheat, rice or quinoa would be perfect replacements.

Serves 4 as a side.

Couscous, dried fruit, curry, Delalicious

  • 200g couscous grain
  • 400ml boiling hot water
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 dried apricots, diced
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  1. Mix the couscous with the water in a bowl or saucepan. Cover and allow the grain to absorb all the water or cook the grain as per packet instructions.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.Couscous, dried fruit, curry, Delalicious
  3. Taste and if you prefer a stronger curry flavour just add some more.

 

 

 

Summer Salad Jar

Lunch, Salad

Sun, sea and salad – just a few of my favourite things about summer!!

Salad is one of the easiest things to make at home, you can create a really tasty meal super fast and with very few ingredients.

Transporting salads can be notoriously difficult and can end in a sad, soggy mess. Using a jar is not only great for the environment but also the ideal way to create a simple layered salad. So next time, keep a big one aside for your next salad feast.

When using a jar or lunchbox, the key is how you layer the ingredients. I prefer to put the messy ingredients – yes I’m looking at you tomatoes or beetroot at the bottom. Add a layer of grain on top followed by your remaining ingredients. Finish with the delicate leafy greens on top. Keep dressings separate in a small jar or tub and add when you are ready to eat .

Serves 1.

Salad, Lunch, Couscous, Delalicious

  • 1/2 large tomato
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp Curried Apricot & Raisin Couscous
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • black pepper
  • 50g smoked mackerel
  • 1 large fistful baby leaf spinach
  1. Dice the tomato and mix through a pinch of sea salt.
  2. Spoon the tomato into the bottom of the jar followed by the couscous.Couscous, Summer, Salad, Delalicious
  3. Create carrot ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin.
  4. Add the vinegar and a pinch of black pepper to the carrots and mix well.
  5. Place the carrot ribbons on top of the couscous, followed by the mackerel and top it all with the spinach.
  6. Place in the fridge until ready to eat.

Dark Chocolate & Apricot Oat Balls

Snack

Oat balls are perfect for a healthy snack on the go, they are made for outdoor adventures or lunchbox treats.

These balls are a no bake version so you never have to worry about them falling apart or sticking to the baking tray, so a real winner in my eyes.

Dark chocolate gives you an antioxidant boost whilst the dried apricot adds an all important sugar kick. I have used almond butter in this recipe but your nut butter of preference would be perfect.

I love to have these as a snack on the way to training and matches or as a sweet treat in the late evenings.

The inspiration came for these from one of my favourite food bloggers Gina Matsoukas who blogs at Running To The Kitchen so be sure to check out her site.

Makes 12.IMG_7451 (1)-01.jpeg

  • 30g dried apricots
  • 20g raisins
  • 2 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • zest of 1/2 small orange
  • 2 tbsp coconut chips
  • 3 tbsp milled linseed
  • 100g jumbo oats
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 75g almond butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

  1. Roughly chop the apricots and place in a bowl with the raisins, orange juice and zest. Mix together and allow the apricots soak up the juice.
  2. Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the apricots and raisins.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond butter, honey and vanilla essence until smooth.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry either with your hands or a fork until well coated.
  5. Dampen your hands and roll 1 tablespoon at a time of the mixture into ball shapes. Place on a tray lined with parchment. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  6. Place the tray flat in a freezer for at least 20 minutes to set. Once set, you can transfer to a resealable box or bag and store in your freezer or fridge.
  7. When eating them from your freezer, allow them to defrost for 5 minutes before eating.

Fruit & Nut Yoghurt Bowl

Breakfast, Snack

I don’t know about you but I love waking up just to have breakfast. It really is my favourite meal if the day! 

Breakfast needn’t take forever to prepare and this is one of the quickest recipes to ensure you get plenty of your 5-a-day in terms of fruit in whilst the yoghurt, nuts and seeds provide protein and all important essential minerals.

Serves 1.

Fruit, Nut, Yoghurt, Breakfast, Delalicious

  • 1/2 large apple
  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower or as you like)
  • 2 tbsp chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, cashews or as you like)
  1. Chop the fruit into chunks and place in a bowl.
  2. Spoon over the yoghurt.
  3. Sprinkle the seeds and nuts on top.

Delalicious & Sportswomen.ie 

Let's Talk Food & Sport With...., Uncategorized

Delighted to announce I’m teaming up with Sportswomen.ie. to provide recipes, foodie tips and my “Let’s Talk Food & Sport With…” interview series. 

Sportswomen.ie Keep an eye out every Saturday morning for a new post. First up is my interview with Tipperary Ladies Footballer Samantha Lambert discussing all things food and sport.

Check out the interview in full here.

Food & sport interview Samantha Lambert

Let’s Talk Food & Sport with … Gráinne Dwyer

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As the Basketball Ireland Women’s Superleague comes to a close this weekend with Ambassador UCC Glanmire facing off against Courtyard Liffey Celtics, I caught up with Glanmire star Gráinne Dwyer about all things food and sport.20170329_191207-01Fellow Tipperary woman Gráinne hails from Thurles and first showed her class by lighting up the Irish school’s basketball scene whilst representing Presentation Thurles. Based in Cork, she competes in the national super league and cup with Glanmire winning four senior cup titles and two MVP awards in previous finals. Glanmire are also vying for their fourth consecutive super league title this weekend in a repeat of this years cup final against Liffey Celtics. On the international scene, Gráinne has competed with the traditional 5v5 team at both underage and senior level and in 2014 on the 3v3 team alongside her sister Niamh qualifying for the European Olympic finals.

Tell us about your first or favourite sporting memory?

Winning the 2013 cup final against UL Huskies in overtime.

What advice would you give to a young aspiring athlete in your sport?

Work hard! You are not entitled to anything, you have to earn it.20170329_191128
What advice would you give to someone who was dealing with a tough time in their life or a setback in their sport?
I find sport a way to escape from reality and  it helps that I love and enjoy it. Sport is my happy place in life.
As we all know research has shown loads of benefits from sport both physically and mentally. I think someone dealing with a tough time should find their happy place and have a good support system around them. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

What emphasis do you put on food and diet relating to your performance or do you think food and diet has any importance for your performance?

In the last few years I definitely have begun to watch what I eat a lot more. Monday to Saturday I’m usually pretty good, eating as healthily as possible but once we play on a Saturday evening I like to eat what I want. I have see an noticeable change in my energy levels since making small changes to my diet.

How do you find the time to plan and prepare meals or do you eat out every day whilst juggling a career in banking and playing with one of the top ranked basketball teams in Ireland?

Food prep is a killer for me ( I always forget to defrost my meat from the freezer!!). However, I try to bring my dinner to work everyday . When preparing meals, I usually prep for two days at a time. I’m not the best cook in the world so what I eat is very basic and would be similar to your typical Irish dinner of meat, chicken or fish, vegetables with sweet potatoes substituted for regular potatoes.
I find it can be quite difficult at times finding time to prep food as I could leave the house at 9:30am and not get home till 11:00pm. Starting is the highest part but once you do it only takes 30 minutes to get sorted and it’s so beneficial to your health and performance.20170329_191150
 Give us some insight into your typical match day food?
I like to eat light on match days, I feel there is nothing worse than feeling like lead playing a game. I eat 4-5 hours before my games and I tend to eat scrambled eggs with avocado, tomatoes and salmon. If we are on the road travelling to a game, I eat the same for my brunch and just have a snack like some fruit, a banana or orange.

What is your favourite type of food to eat or dish to cook?

I love a good burger you just can’t beat it! If I was to cook something nice for myself it would have to be fillet steak, homemade chips, fried mushrooms and onions with a pepper or mushroom sauce.

When travelling abroad to represent Ireland in competitions, is there any food you miss?

I love my food and I’m not overly picky so when we travel away I don’t really miss anything. Our meals are nearly always provided and are largely pasta based with an option of meat, fish or vegetables, so I’m usually pretty happy.20170329_191048
 What are your favourite places to eat out in Ireland?
I live in Cork so when I eat out I love to go to Quinlan’s seafood bar on Prince’s street. I was also a big fan of the tapas menu that used to be on offer in Il Padrino. I’m also a big fan of the set menu in Napoli, Monkstown – an Italian style delicatessen that’s really cool and the food is unreal. Places like Sober Lane, SoHo and Son of a Bun are great for pub grub and a pint.

#exerciseforlent – The Ups and Downs of Life

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#exerciseforlent, illness and injury

With any challenge, goal or quest in life there is always going to be conflicting times due to barriers some within our control and other times completely outside our control. One such barrier can be injury and illness. Nobody likes to be sick or injured. Initially, one or two days off work or school is nice but then the boredom sets in and if your in pain or physical discomfort there is nothing nice at all about this time.

My goal for Lent was to set myself a challenge. Instead of giving up, I was going to take up something and in my case get back strengthening my body whilst I travel the world. My aim was to complete three High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions per week in my #exerciseforlent campaign.

Like all good intentions, the first week was full of vigour and enthusiasm. The second week was a bit tougher as it clashed with a four day Lost City trek but I still managed to squeeze in the sessions before and after the trek. Week three and I was back on track, fitting in sessions daily if not every second day until week four. I had just landed in San Gil, a market town nestled in the mountainous regions of Santander state and otherwise known as Colombia’s adventure capital. I was all set to try some extreme sports and thankfully got to try rappelling and rafting until trouble struck. I got sick, no need to get into details but extreme tummy trouble should suffice. I was flat lined, no energy, no appetite and obviously a HIIT sessions was out.

#exerciseforlent, Delalicious, HIITSo after five days out from exercising, I feel like I should be pushing myself to do a session but just walking around is enough for me. I have two major treks planned in the next two weeks so they are my priority to be well enough to complete them. I’m not the kind of person to walk away from a challenge but right now I need to listen to my body for the long run. This is tough for me as I’m not used to being sick or not exercising in some way. The lack of positive effects on my mental well being from exercising daily is also beginning to kick in.

I am confident that with a few days more recuperation, I’ll be back to full steam but this is the thing about goals and setbacks. Goals never go from start to finish smoothly, they are more likely to match a roller coaster ride and the knocks, setbacks and tests along the way will make the result all the sweeter. Returning from injury and illness is just the same. No two individuals are the same and therefore their recovery can never be compared. All you can do is listen to your body and the professionals treating and guiding you.#exerciseforlent, #Delalicious It’s never too late to get moving yourself and join me on my #exerciseforlent campaign.

#exerciseforlent

TheTaste.ie March Issue

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After the great success of my two recipes that were featured in February‘s issue of TheTaste.ie. I was asked to contribute on a regular basis to the monthly food and drink magazine. Here are my two recipes that featured in this month’s issue:

Roast Butternut Squash & Carrot Spiced Soup – soup never goes out of fashion and is one of my favourite things to make. wp-image-333789580jpg.jpg

Sweet & Savoury Tapioca Crepes – inspired by my recent travels to Brazil, Tapioca crepes are naturally gluten-free and a great way to use up leftovers as fillings.Tapioca Crepe.1.jpg