Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Afghan aubergines with yogurt...

I'm very hesitant when it comes to buying aubergines, mainly because I still have to be really, really convinced by someone or some brilliant dish, that it can be really good. But, recently I gave in, mainly because it was on  a huge sale in a local supermarket. I was going through my recipes and I've notice that I cooked it two years ago, time to give it another try.

So, after having a quick look through my many cookbooks, I decided to trust, again, The Hairy Bikers. The dish might have a rather long list of ingredients, but it all comes together beautifully. I was really surprised how good it turned out! Oh, one word of advice -> that minty jogurt on the bottom of the plate, makes all the difference! Tried it without it, and it wasn't that good anymore, it definitely missed something, some kind of a "kick", "lift me up" thing ;)

afghan aubergines by hairy bikers recipe

The whole dish gave me a little bit of faith into aubergines and I'll be trying to cook with them again soon. How do you cook yours? Any tips, ideas? :)

The below recipe comes from a great cookbook "Great Curries" by The Hairy Bikers.

How to make it...

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Beetroot and chocolate cupcakes...

Chocolate cupcakes, I know I might not be very inventive, but... how about chocolate cupcakes with an addition of beetroot? I promise you won't even know it's there! And how about sneaking that one of "five a day" to your children? Or maybe even yourself? ;)
If I haven't baked those myself, I wouldn't have a faintest idea that there's anything unusual about them, that in fact, there's a beetroot in my cake! The result is fantastic - moist, but not stodgy, slightly sweet, not over chocolaty cupcake, with a nice crumb to it.

beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

I hear you - "I don't want to cook and peel beetroots, it's a messy, messy job!". Yes, it is, but I'm not asking you to do all that. How about buying those funny looking packs of pre-cooked, already peeled, vacuum packed beetroots? I don't know if that's a case in other countries (I presume it is), but in Ireland those are one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy! Half a kilo of beetroots already prepped for you! All you have to do is grate them, or even better - blitz, if you have means of doing that.

halloween beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

Those chocolate cupcakes are perfect not only for Halloween, but seeing as beetroot is that bloody red in colour ;) and it's an Autumn veg, I believe it's a perfect match for that spooky holiday! Some cheap cupcake cases and ghost cake decorations from Euroshop/Dollar store and you have yourself a brilliant idea for a Halloween party! But... it's so easy to make any other decoration on top, or simply sprinkle it with some icing sugar and it's perfect afternoon treat for any day of the year :)

How to make it...

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Homemade pumpkin pie spice... and ways to use it...

Autumn IS my favourite time of the year. The sun isn't so "sharp" anymore, its light is more mellow and heat more pleasant. The leaves turn to all the different colours - from golden brown to orange, rusty, yellow and even some ruby red. I love walking down the pathways covered with dry leaves, the sound of them "crunching" under my boots, the smell of Autumn in the air... And I won't pass by a laying chestnut either, I just have to pick it up! :)

pumpkin pie spice

Nature is very generous for us too this time of the year - with all the blackberries, elderberries, mushrooms and other things to gather before winter comes. And when it comes to home grown crops - pumpkins of course!


Nothing says Fall better than a big, round, orange pumpkin (not necessary with a scary face on it ;) ). I love all things pumpkin - pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin latte, pumpkin cookies and also pumpkin pie spice, which you can add to almost anything and everything! Unfortunately it's quite difficult to buy ready made pumpkin pie spice here in Ireland, but it's so easy to make your own!

Below a very simple mix of spices (which you may all have already sitting in your cupboard). When using the pumpkin pie spice I usually add some freshly grated zest of orange to all my baked goods, it gives them that extra zing, lifts it up.


Because pumpkin pie spice is so versatile you can use it in many ways:
* Add it to your coffee - mix it with your coffee grounds and brew your coffee as usual, or sprinkle it on top of your latte or cappuccino
* Mix it into whipped cream - perfect accompaniment to pies and other desserts
* Stir it into a pancake mix
* Sprinkle it on a tray with roast vegetables - make a tray of your usual roast vegetable mix, season with salt, pepper and olive and add a bit of pumpkin spice. This time of the year use seasonal vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots.
* Add it to your oatmeal or granola mix
* Add a bit of it to your cookie dough or cakes
* Add it to your pasta dishes
* Season your popcorn with it!


If you have any more ideas/uses for pumpkin pie spice please share them with us in the comment section! :)

How to make it...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lemon and saffron pot roast chicken...

Not your usual Sunday roast chicken, but if you like spices (and I don't mean spicy food but flavoursome!) and if you like to try something different this dish is definitely for you!
You really don't have to be a huge fan of Indian cuisine, as this chicken is quite a mellow spiced bird, and I think that if you're not familiar with Indian food that much, it can be a perfect introduction to it.
Beside beautifully roast chicken you're also getting a creamy sauce, which we couldn't get enough of - even my two lil girls! We ate it with rice and Polish "mizeria" (sliced cucumber with cream, green onions and some salt), but if you have some Naan bread or roast/boiled potatoes it will be a great accompaniment too.

lemon and saffron chicken

It's been ages since I've roasted the chicken whole, meaning in its normal round shape. I always cut it along the spine and flatten it. Not really sure if it cooks quicker or not, but it definitely fits better in my dish and it's easier to cut/portion afterwards.

lemon and saffron chicken

The recipe comes from new Amandip Uppal's book "Indian made easy" - which is slowly becoming my favourite cookbook about Indian cuisine.

How to make it...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My own banana bread...

My own banana bread, and what I mean by that is, that it's my own tried and tested recipe. I'm on a look out for a good banana recipes since I can remember. It's way to often that we're left with very ripe, brown bananas that are in need of some love and attention. Banana bread/cake is usually the quickest and easiest way of using those over ripe bananas, but I'm also looking for other ways, even how to use them in some savory dishes, any ideas?

banana bread

This recipe is a result of good few banana bread baked, and it's finished with caramelized banana on top - something that wasn't planned, but was a result of me wanting to use that one last banana somehow. It worked, and it worked brilliantly!
You can easily omit that step, and not put anything on the top, it will be equally good, but I think it makes it that little bit more special, ideal for when you have some guests visiting. It's what takes that humble banana bread a step further :)
I'm also using butter and coconut oil in equal amounts, just to give it a slightly different taste and uniqueness. You can easily substitute the coconut oil for butter, if you don't like the coconut, or the other way round - swap butter for coconut oil, if that's the fat of your choice and use only that.

banana bread

Hope you'll try to make my banana bread - and do let me know about the result!

How to make it...

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf...

I'm here and I'm alive! It's the middle of the summer season here in Ireland (yes, even though it definitely doesn't feel like summer, with all that wind and rain...). Summer season means holidays, which means lots of visitors to this Green Isle, and Kerry is one of the most visited destinations - really no surprise here, with that stunning wild Atlantic coastline, mountains with Carrantouhill and many, many more (not to mention Irish pubs and Guinness!). All that means that hotels, and restaurants within them are busy, crazy busy on times, and that's exactly where I work :) but after coming home, usually all I want to do is just collapse on my couch, which luckily I sometimes get to do. Unfortunately all that means that when I cook/bake (which I'm still doing!) I just simply don't have that much time to take photos, write up posts etc. But I'm trying hard to change that - it's all about that time management! I know I can conquer it! ;)

Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf

This lemon loaf is simply delicious, and while I'm not the biggest fan of lemony bakes (they usually taste artificial to me) I really, really like this one! Don't be scared or intimidated by the fact that it is yeast dough, it's really simple and surprisingly quick to make! It reminds me slightly of the cinnamon buns - soft, rich dough, which separates on its own when pulled apart (the chunks are quite big though! ;) ).

Sweet Dough Lemon Loaf

This recipe comes from one of my favourite "go to baking books" The Humming Bird Bakery "Home sweet home".

How to make it...

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Soy roast chicken with butternut squash and peppers...

I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote anything here.... And it's not like I'm not cooking, as that's what I mainly do at the moment, being a chef an all! ;) Working in the kitchen has completely changed my life - for better, for so much better! :D Unfortunately that means a little bit less of cooking and baking at home, as I come back so exhousted that I usually just collapse on the couch  - but that's what happens when you get up at 4.40 am to be at work at 6 am.... Still, wouldn't change it for anything in the world! But back to today's post, as I'll write you all about my new, DREAM job very soon (yes, I made that promise and commitment to myself and all of you reading my little blog, that I'll make time for more cooking, photographing and mostly - writing! So I promise NOT to abandon you like that anymore, never again :) )

Those who visit my little kitchen here, know that chicken is one of my favorite meats out there, cheap, so versatile and most of time quick to prepare and cook. As we took advantage of some good prices we bought 3 whole birds and cut it into portions - legs, breasts, wings (which I'm collecting in a little bag, to later marinade and grill!), carcasses (which ended up making a beautiful stock, which is in the freezer waiting for its turn).

soy roast chicken

I came across this recipe by coincidence. I received a book for review and was simply flipping through the pages, getting a "feel" of the book itself, the recipes and general style. This popped out, don't know why, but it did. I loved the colours of the dish, the fact that it's "all in one pot" kind of dish and quite simply to make. Simply - ticked all the right boxes for me, at that time ;)
The recipe comes from "Healthy speedy suppers" by Katriona Macgregor, I've changed the recipe ever so slightly. Kationa wrote a great little cookbook, which I'll be telling you all about very soon :)

How to make it...
Ingredients:

Friday, April 15, 2016

Shortbread cookies....

Wow.... who knew that when you're a chef you actually do very little cooking and baking at your own house! I know, I probably shouldn't be surprised by that, but I still am... It's not that I don't want to cook and bake at home, or that I'm fed up with it (noooo, it's still the biggest love and passion of my life) it's just... I simply don't have that much time anymore... Yes, working as a chef involves crazy hours! Recently I'm on breakfast shifts, which basically means getting up at ungodly hours (around 5am...) and as a result passing out at around 8 pm! And evenings are where my "me time" - for baking, cooking, writing, reading books cookbooks, watching movies etc. But.... saying all that - I wouldn't change a thing! I'm living my dream at the moment and it finally feels like I've found "my place" where I fit just right! :)


Those of you who briefly followed my journey of becoming a chef, know that I didn't really cut, nor burn, myself during the training. Well, a lot has changed since then! I'm in a professional kitchen for about 6 weeks now, which resulted in slicing off half of my fingernail (including some of the meaty bits underneath...),lots of many cuts, not even worth mention, as they happen almost on a daily basis ;) and.... a nasty burn, after which I'm 1000% sure I'll have a scar.... NOW I know why all the chefs have tattoos all over their hands - to cover all the marks and scars! :P


But, going back to the recipe. It's something I did with my two little sous chefs - quick, and simple that even 4 and 6 year old can master :) This recipe for very delicious, not too sweet, very short cookies isn't mine, unfortunately, it's from Paul Hollywood's "How to bake". This one is definitely a keeper! As always, Paul didn't disappoint ;)

How to make it...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fast Days & Feast Days" by Elly Curshen... (book review)


"Elly Pear's Fast Days & Feast Days"
by Elly Curshen

Hardback (272 pages)

Chapters: Introduction, Why I started the 5:2, Storecupboard essentials, Essential equipment, Essential techniques, How and where I shop, FAQs, Breakfast and brunches, Weekday lunches and salads, Sopus, Weeknight dinners, Weekend cooking and entertaining, Nibbles, Sauces pickles and dressings, Puddings and cakes, Sample menus, Calorie index, Index, Acknowledgements & thanks


First of all I have a confession to make - I didn't know anything, nothing at all, about the 5:2 diet before I received this book. Yes, I saw the headlines on the Internet, but had virtually no knowledge about the diet itself, not even its basic principles. I got the book and thought immediately "I won't be able to cook from it so, if it's all dieting recipes" - I couldn't be more wrong! Diet or no diet, this is an inspiring cookbook.

The recipes are clearly marked for those for Fast Days - the days you need to strictly control your calorie intake, and Feast Days - days on which you eat normally and without any restrictions (yes, no restrictions at all! How great it sounds!). I quickly found out, that both recipe categories have a lot of dishes that I wanted to cook/bake immediately. The recipes from the Fast Days have also tips how to "bump them up" to dishes, that might be more satisfying and wholesome for those, who aren't watching their waists ;)


The book is written really well, the language is clear, personal and on many occasions very funny! It's really a joy to skip through the pages and look at the bright photos of the dishes and their colorful titles. 

What scared me at the beginning, and made me think that I won't use the book that often - turned out to be its biggest advantage! This is by no means a diet book! It has great recipes, that can be made any time and it gives practical and useful information on how to eat cleanly and healthy, with superb ingredients and without going hungry. Each of the recipes I've tried so far have tasted great and have been very easy to follow.



The things I've already try to make are "Seeded rosemary and thyme soda bread" - something I thought I won't like, because of all the herbs present, but was surprised how tasty it was and what a great accompaniment to ham and cheese, or even honey!"Banana and oat bars" - I'm usually very skeptical about baking with bananas, it ends in disaster on too many occasions, but... Those bars were to die for! They're also vegan, which is very useful considering that my little one has egg intolerance.
I can also definitely recommend Chickpea curry, Beetroot and dill hummus, Sage and pumpkin soup and Lemon, polenta and rose shortbread.

Who knows - I might give the 5:2 diet a go after all! If you're thinking of going on that particular diet, I believe that Elly's book couldn't be a better start as an introduction to it, and a resource of inspiring recipes.

About the author:
Founding owner of the Pear Café in Bristol, a must-visit destination for fresh, delicious, handmade soups, frittatas, and sandwiches (including the hugely popular Ham, Emmenthal and Chicken Crackling Sandwich, named one of Buzzfeed’s “17 Sandwiches You Must Eat Before You Die”). Elly has followed the 5:2 philosophy of eating since 2013 and is a food and cookery columnist for InStyle UK.

I received a free copy of this book to review from Harper Collins. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine. 
All photos -> Amazon.com

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Chocolate truffles...

Yes, it's quite easy and quick to make your very own chocolate truffles. What's more - it will cost you a fraction of the price you would have to pay for the hand made chocolates in any of the shops, especially the ones from artisan food producers. Don't understand me wrong, I'm all for supporting independent, small, usually family own and run, local food producers, but sometimes nothing gives you more pleasure and satisfaction than making things yourself, especially when it comes to playing with chocolate!


Yes, making chocolate truffles is rather messy business, and it really pays off when you're "cold handed" like myself - but you know what they say "cold hands, warm heart" :) One advice when making chocolate truffles - do invest in good quality chocolate, it will really be worth it. As the chocolate IS the ingredient here, you really want the good stuff.


These little, indulgent treats are great as a little treat after a meal, or simply enjoyed with a cup of coffee, or tea.

How to make it...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 11... Final week...

So the journey has finished... The best part has just begun! I'm out in the world, equipped in the skills, and a bit of confidence and belief in myself too, ready to work as a chef, to fully become one. All that thanks to an amazing teacher, mentor and a true gent - Chef Mark Doe.
If you were to ask me, 4 months ago, will I ever be a chef, someone that works in a professional kitchen, I would probably laugh in your face, sorry but I would...

Textures of chicken - chicken roulade with goat's cheese on a caramelized onion, spicy chicken goujons with lemon mayo, mini chicken pie and roasted vegetable flower

I can't believe in what has happened last 3 months, but what I can't believe most is... That I got THAT job! I got THAT job, job of my dreams... Few weeks ago I have set up a foot inside the kitchen, not as a visitor, not as a waitress but... as a chef. Chef's whites on, black clogs on, knives in my hand, ready to give my best, give all I've got! And... I got it!

Salmon tartare

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 10...

I honestly can't believe that it's the second last week. I can't believe that I'm becoming a chef, slowly but surely.... but I guess that's what happens when you're living your dream - you simply can't believe what's happening all around you, and that it IS happening!

Fillet steak with horseradish crust, celeriac fondant, salt baked celeriac, roasted root vegetables, pepper sauce 

Roast venison, pommes Anna, chicken and black pudding boudin, braised red cabbage, crispy wild mushrooms, creamed mushrooms and spinach, jus

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 9...

I honestly can't believe that my journey, more like an adventure actually, has almost finished. The chef's training finishes exactly on the 10th of March, and I WILL miss it, miss it a lot... We cook, we laugh and we eat, a lot (please don't ask me how much weight I've gained as I wasn't brave enough yet to actually stand on those scales....).

Smoked salmon on a celeriac rosti with lemon creme freaiche

Week 9 saw us making something completely new and using cooking methods, and equipment, new to us. JustCooking school is know for its BBQ classes so we used the break in the weather and went outside! The only thing missing was a beer, or two, but we couldn't possibly drink at school ;) not that we won't catch up on that once the course will finish....


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 8...

Week 8 finished... I can't even noticed, but we've cooked/made soooo much it's almost unbelievable! I was editing the photos and there were so many of them! So many new skills learned, new things tasted for the very first time :) I'm really enjoying my time at the JustCooking that I don't want it to end, but... the end is near...

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

So the Beef Wellington. Yes, we made it and let me tell you - BEAUTIFUL! There's a bit of work involved - making mushroom duxelle, pancakes, first searing the beef properly, whole assembly (and we used crepenet to keep it all in place), then rolling it all into pastry. We've all decorated it on the top with leaves etc. but my "sparing partner" (my school partner Seamous), well seeing as he has an artistic background I've asked him to get creative - so he did ;) Toro it was! The Beef Wellington itself - amazing! I could live on it, literally. First time making it, I even think first time eating the "real deal", so have good few years to do of catching up with this dish!

Potato, horseradish and sage gnocchi

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Brioche....

Soft, yet a little crumbly, not too sweet - just a hint of sweetness - rich, buttery, but still amazingly light bread. That's exactly how I would describe a brioche. It's perfect with a spoon of jam or as an accompaniment to a pork terrine. There's not a lot of bread type bakes that will be so versatile. You can toast it, you can make French toasts with it, bread & butter pudding, you can soak it in milk, or you can spread some pate on it. Whatever you'll decide to do with your brioche, just make sure that you'll try to bake your own. I know it's a tricky dough, as it's quite lose and sticky, but it's really miles apart from the store bought version.

I wouldn't really recommend making it, if you don't own the mixer to do all the kneading (basically all the hard work) for you. You still can do it without that handy kitchen gadget, but you'll curse quite vividly during the process... ;)

brioche

This is Gordon Ramsay's recipe. I know, that people either love him or hate him but... whatever you'll say/think about the guy, you can't take away from him the fact, that he IS a brilliant Chef. So, don't be put off by the fact that it's his recipe and do make it!


How to make it...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 7...

The time flies when you're enjoying what you're doing, and I do enjoy chef's training program at the JustCooking, so much so that... I will actually miss it once it will finish in few weeks time. We really do get along well, all six students and our brilliant tutor/mentor chef Mark Doe. Besides cooking some stunning and delicious dishes, we also have a great time together. All different ages, all with different backgrounds, at different stages in our lives, but... all with one common passion - food!

Sea bass with barley risotto, beetroot dressing and crispy cauliflower

Week 7 was mainly concentrated on vegetarian cooking, and proving that there's more to vegetarian dishes than mushrooms ;) I do like meat free meals and more often than not - I enjoy making and eating them. But, saying all that, I could never be a vegetarian. Don't understand me wrong now, I'm all for proper treating of all animals - big and small - I'm strongly against mass produced meat, farms where animals are stuck in cages and can't even turn around. I'm also against over fishing our seas and rivers, and many other issues that are really wrong in our times, when it comes to food and its production. But, I do think that if we keep everything in balance (farming, keeping animals, fishing - food production in general), we still can enjoy eating meat and fish, but I don't believe it should be on a daily basis, for our own health if nothing else!

Sweet potato and brie strudel.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 6...

Week 6 of chef's training at JustCooking started with some theory in the morning (allergens, manu planning and menu costing, preventing food waste in the kitchen...) and then we all headed to IT Tralee Coulinary Department.


The visit started with a lunch in HCT Training Kitchen - where all the meals are planned and prepared by the students (this time it was the 1st year students that cooked). The menu wasn't complicated, two choices for starters and desserts and three for main (one meat, one fish dish and a vegetarian option as well).


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 5...

The time is literally running away, for me anyway.... Soooo quickly that I haven't even noticed that it's the end of week 5, halfway through my chef's training at JustCooking. This week we've finished the "pastry week" which was week 4, as there was so much to do in that topic that we haven't been able to fit it all in one week. This week saw us also producing some restaurant quality dishes and.. there was first bloody event in the kitchen...

Chocolate fondant (aka lava cake in the USA), yes I am a chocoholic, and even that I've never made that sweet treat myself. Well, that's about to change! I'm already thiking how to "spice it up" and use orange chocolate, salted caramel chocolate, coconut one and many more... Mmmm....

Chocolate fondant

Chocolate fondant aka Lava cake

Ok, so we haven't made our own puff pastry, but honestly now, which professional kitchen will make their own puff pastry from scratch - unless it's high end fine dining, 5* establishment or a patisserie... huh? So yes, we did have shop bought puff, but there's nothing wrong with that! Pastry cream was made from scratch (which I already made on few occasions, for example when making Polish kremowka). So... thin puff pastry sheets, with pastry cream and fresh raspberries. Delicious!

Millefeuille of raspberries and pastry cream

Friday, January 29, 2016

Crème brûlée...

The chef's training at the JustCooking is in full swing. Can't really describe how much I'm enjoying it all and what;'s more - how much I'm learning! I have to admit that even though I love crème brûlée, I've never made it myself, from scratch. Those few times I ate it was always in France, in either a bistro or some restaurant - loved it every time!
I was so happy that crème brûlée will be one of the desserts that we'll get to make during week 4, which was concentrated on pastry. As it turned out it's not so difficult as one might think! There are few crucial moments you have to be careful with, so you will end up with beautiful, creamy custard rather than sweet version of scrambled eggs ;)
If you like custard, even more - if you like crème brûlée, do try to make it yourself. You'll be surprised how straight forward the process is and how delicious the result is! As to the satisfaction which gives, first the tapping of that caramelized sugar, then cracking it and getting into the velvety inside... Well, you'll have to find out for yourself :)

creme brulee

"Crème brûlée also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served at room temperature. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but can have a variety of other flavorings." - by wikipedia.org

creme brulee

How to make it...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 4...

The time is flying, already end of week 4 and almost half way through my chef's training. Things are getting serious now ;) We've finished with kind of general cooking, knife skills, making stocks and sauce bases, we're now into restaurant dishes and how to make them during busy service.

Parmesan sable biscuits with crushed chickpeas

Chef Mark showing us how it's done :)

The week started with canapes and general finger food, party food. Some were more refined - appropriate for a wedding reception, banquet; and some were perfect for a birthday party or more informal occasion. Who knew there might be so much flavour and different textures in one, single bite!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grapefruit & coconut scones with oats...

Inspired by the Week 3 of my chef's training, which was very much so concentrated on breakfast, I decided to make some scones, but not any normal one, with a twist! I love grapefruit, but I will rarely eat it, don't ask me why?! Just a thought of slicing it in half and eating with a spoon, sometimes with a small sprinkle of sugar, don't know why that doesn't appeal to me at all... but put it in a fruit salad, fruit jelly or... scones??? Yes!

grapefruit and coconut scones

So why coconut you may ask... Well, when making scones you use milk or buttermilk or yogurt, and as I'm on a dairy free diet I had only coconut soya yogurt in my fridge. Grapefruits, coconuts, and there was me thinking tropics! So I decided to play with that mix of flavours even more and add a bit of coconut into the dough and on the top. Result - fantastic! Crumbly, slightly moist scones with zingy grapefruit and that calming, cooling coconut. Simply delicious :)

grapefruit and coconut scones

TIP How To Segment the Grapefruit: 
Slice off the bottom and top of the grapefruit and use a sharp knife to cut away the peel and white pith. Follow the line between the pith and the fruit "flesh" to have nice and clean cut, follow the natural curve of the fruit. Slice in between the white skin segments to release the wedges. There you have it - grapefruit fillets :)

How to make it...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 3...

Get ready for even more photos than from Week 2... I really thought that we can't possibly do any more, than what we've done during the previous week, but it turned out that we can, and we did! It was a week of "all day breakfast", stocks and some seriously good food!

A selection of Gourmet open sandwiches

Week 3 was all about breakfast, differences between cooked breakfast, continental one and traditional Irish. I have to admit that out of the whole range that we've prepared, it would be really hard to pick my favourite one. Yes, I'm know to be partial to cooked, usually sweet (me an my sugar addiction...) breakfast, but having two little ones means that I very rarely can enjoy a cooked, still warm(!) treat in the mornings, so it was to my absolute delight and joy, to be able to sample breakfasts all day long, 3 days in a row - cooked, cold, sweet and savory! Lucky me :D

Mise en place - all set and ready for sandwich assembly


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Becoming a chef - week 2...

Christmas break has finished, it's New Year and it was back to school for me. I felt like I'm a teenager again, going back to a class room, after that long Christmas break ;)
I might have felt like a teenager, but this time round I was really looking forward to going back to school and learning, learning how to become a chef! JustCooking here I come (and 5 other brave souls, who have a real passion for food).

Bruschetta of tomatoes, black olives, basil and rocket

Week 2 was all about Bistro & Gastro Pub food. Something not too complicated, definitely a comfort kind of food. Nice, big flavours - honest cooking - but still a lot to it!
If you think that your next door pub grub is plain and simple and everyone can get it right - think again. How many times did you have that "not so nice" lunch or dinner in a pub, or even in a small bistro cafe? I know it happened to me on too many occasions. Usually everything looks so good and delicious on the menu, unfortunately it's not always the case when you get that plate of food.

Gourmet beef burger with buttermilk onion rings, bacon, twice fried chips and salad

Friday, January 08, 2016

Light chocolate cake...

We had a little celebration recently - my little girl turned 4 :) and when your little girl asks you for a chocolate sparkly cake with sprinkles - you deliver!
Sparkly sprinkles were the easiest part, as I always have a lot of different sprinkles at home, and seeing as it was just after Christmas I had little, silver balls in my cupboard, which were perfect for the occasion! Now, the chocolate cake part... I've made chocolate cake good few times and I have few checked and trusted recipes, but... but I wanted to try something different and I wanted a light chocolate cake, which would still have that deep chocolaty flavour, but with less dense texture...


After some look through the Internet, BBC website in particular, I've found what I was looking for - chocolate cake by Mary Berry. Who else will I trust with that all important birthday cake, if not HER!? I've adapted her recipe slightly to my own, personal needs - I baked it as one whole cake, instead of baking it as two small round cakes, which you sandwich and then decorate with a frosting. But I still had to make it look special...


Baby E loves chocolate, and I mean she really LOVES it! So why not make it look better by decorating it with melted white chocolate instead of milk or dark one? White chocolate created a perfect background for my silver sprinkles, and made a pretty pattern on the cake, which was shaped that way by one of my bound cake tins. "Proof is in the pudding" as they say - and it turned out to be a hit with the birthday girl. Cake disappeared within 2 days! And I had literally only 3 small slices of it... ;)

How to make it...