Friday, 25 October 2013

Lemon and Cayenne marinated Halloumi

Until recently I had never been a fan of this hard but soft cheese. I mean who really likes to chew on something that squeaks every time you bite down on it? But then I tried some on a vegetarian platter that wasn't squeaky and chewy at all and decided that I could, indeed eat this. So I bought a block and seeing as it's not the most flavourful cheese decided to marinade it in some flavours that will pop and excite your taste buds.

Limes, limes, limes. These green little balls of tangy zest remind me so much of my time in Mexico as lemons just weren't available. Used for a range of different things like margaritas, marinades, salad dressings, tequilla, fish and much much more, it just seems to transport me back to temperatures that sore over 30C and the beach. And although not so great for the enamel on your teeth, limes along with other citrus fruit have fab antibacterial properties. Wondered why people always tell you to drink hot lemon and ginger when you have a sore throat?!

Lime and chillies are a match made in heaven, not only in the taste department! I've use chillies a lot {here and here} and I love this flavour combo. A sharp taste followed by a peppery hit which is soothed by the sharpness of the lime. It's perfect! If I had a pestle and mortar I would have bashed up these tiny chillies up some more to get all the punch out of them and into the marinade but no such luck for me. If you do have one, give them a good bash! And because I didn't, I used ½ tsp of cayenne pepper just to get some more spiciness into the marinade!

Now, let's talk halloumi. Not suitable for vegans, it's quite a weird type of cheese. Even if your a veggie be careful as it is made with rennet and not necessarily vegetarian rennet. This cheese is originally from Cyprus and apparantly dates back all the way to AD390…it's quite unusual in the sense that no acid or acid bacterium is used during it's making. One traditional way of storing halloumi was wrapped in mint leaves. Kind of cool huh!


1 pack of halloumi
1teaspoon of dried {and bashed} chillies
juice of 2 limes/lemons
1tbsp sunflower oil
-if you want your marinade extra spicy, add ½ tsp of cayenne pepper.

Cut halloumi into slices slightly larger than 1cm. In a jar place all the marinade ingredients and give it a good shake. Pack in the halloumi and leave for at least 24hours in the fridge.

To cook, heat a pan, pour some of the marinade in and then lay the slices down. Check to see when colour goes golden brown then turn over. Serve with fresh tomatoes and some microgreens. No need for salt as this cheese is very salty!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Perfect Saturday

It started with blue skies {a mild hangover} and the feeling that maybe staying in bed could be the best thing ever. But it just wasn't so. Bed wasn't the best thing. There were simply far better and more amazing things in store. After a slightly long winded round about journey to the north side of Dublin we landed at the Botanical Gardens where there was just so much awaiting us.

Autumn is definitely here and even though we started with blue skies they didn't last for long, there was no place I would have rather been on this particular Saturday even when the heavens opened. The colours that surrounded us as we wondered and pondered. I must say, as a girl who is not used to cold weather I find myself utterly inspired my the colours of Irish Autumn. As you enter the black and gold gates, a view of olden day glass houses awaits you at the top of the pathway and you can imagine Victorian era horse and carriages riding past you. What awaits inside is an absolute wonder.

I was excited to enter the first glass house and couldn't believe my luck when I found it full of tropical plants and flowers that I was lucky enough to have been surrounded by during my time in Mexico. I couldn't quite believe that there I was walking under banana plants, next to agave cactus, bougainvillaea and much more. It was a welcome reminder of all the wonderful times I had been lucky enough to have during my time in the Yucatan.

The rain did end up getting the better of us but having the luxury of ducking into these intricate glass houses was a god send {it also helped that we wanted to take a gazzilion pics!} There literally is something for everyone at the Botanical Gardens. Orchids and roses, trees rising to the heavens and waterfalls, rock gardens and oriental trees, sculptures and displays. It's magical.

We were even accompanied by a local! If you ever get the chance to visit, please do. The Botanical Gardens are totally free. As in, you don't have to pay an entry fee or anything else. Isn't that fantastic?! Go and support. Have a coffee, see the art exhibitions, walk around and revel in the fact that this wonderful place is available and open for us, the people of Dublin.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Smoked haddock endive cups

It's cold outside. That sentence will be appearing a lot in my future blog posts as winter comes hurtling towards us at a speed I've not been aware of. I dream of sunshine, white sand between my toes and turquoise water. Oh, how I have been spoilt for the last 5 years of my life living in Mexico.

This recipe is a little homage to sunnier climes and while the heating is on full whack gives me a little bit of a beach feeling!

Smoked haddock. There are two camps. The yellow dyed one and the natural coloured one. I'm the camp for the natural look {no surprises there!}. Not that I wouldn't eat it if served, but I just wonder what exactly that food colouring is doing to my body. Fish, as we know is full of good oils. Oils that help our joints stay limber, help our cells to keep re-building and help our brains to keep ticking over.

I find that endives get a bit of marmite reaction. You love them or you hate them. I'm a lover but it wasn't always so. Long ago as a child I remember a mouthful of salad with chopped endives, walnuts and bitter lemon. Ooof! My mouth still puckers at the memory of full on bitterness. A lesson to remember that flavours need to be mixed and complimented. There are many types of endives but in general you can count on them to provide a wide range of minerals {zinc, magnesium, iron etc}. Adding these leafy greens to your diet has been said to lower glucose levels which can only be a good thing!

1 piece of smoked haddock
½ spicy sweet pepper cut into thin strips
1 celery stick finely sliced
1 bulb of endive, washed, trimmed and laid out in individual leaves
some radish micro-greens

Place the fish in the pan, sprinkle black pepper over, squeeze some lime juice and put in the oven for 15mins at 190C or till cooked. In the meantime prep all the veggies. When the fish is cooked, with two forks gently flake the fish and fill each endive leaf with some fish, sprinkle over some slices of celery, a couple of slices of pepper and some radish micro-greens. Drizzle some olive oil and serve warm.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

It seems at this point in my life that if I turn around I have missed a day, maybe two. Life is is so busy and fun and exciting right now that it's so hard for me to take stock and say 'thank you' let alone write blog posts as regularly as I used to!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit Dingle for it's Food Festival and also to be part of the judging team at the Blas na hEireann Awards. This is the second time I've been on a judging team for food awards and I hope it continues. I love seeing all the different produce coming through, see those that make it through with a resounding 'yes' and those that get a resounding 'no' and to be able to identify why.  Not only is it such a fantastic learning experience but it's a great place to meet the most interesting foodies. From business owners to journalists to michelin star chefs and more, the buzz and the crowd that you are involved with is electric and super addictive!

However, there is a down side. The amount of food that was consumed this weekend was sinful. And my waist line can second that. Not only did each judge have to taste over 30products there was also the fabulous food trail as part of the Food Festival and who can resist? Really, could you? Especially with the sun shinning, no rain in sight it was a truly magical weekend and I can't wait to do it all again next year!

So after all that food me and my little red car trekked it all the way over to Scotland {about 8hours!} to go back for a week of being looked after my the rentals. The week is almost over and I've spent my days walking the dog, cooking up lots of food for the blog and taking it easy! It's exciting to be in the first stages of setting up shop as your own boss. I've done it before but this, food styling and home ec is something I love. I just can't explain it. I feel that I'm in my zone. So it was fab to one, get my new logo up and running {designed by the fab @BAR8E7} and rummaging through hundreds of boxes to find some fab props!

And before I sign off, I just want to say a big thank you to all of my virtual friends who read this blog, leave comments and support me on this exciting and new journey. More recipes coming soon!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Gluten Free Orange and Lemon Cake

This is one of those dishes that you make every now and again because although it's worth eating even with all the sugar in it, there is a lot of sugar in it. Don't be put off. Maybe I shouldn't have said that but I might as well warn you now. There is a lot of sugar. But, on the plus side, you can eat small slivers over an extended period because this cake is so moist and juicy that it will definitely last in a sealed tin.

Now this is not my recipe. I wish it was my recipe but I have adapted it a bit. First off the recipe came to me on a piece of paper with no author or title. It asked for flour, and I changed it to ground almonds. Secondly I put in more orange and lemon zest than the recipe asked for to give it a real tang.

Citrus fruit are renowned for being a good cleanser. Who hasn't heard that a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon is the best way to start the day? We all know that citrus fruit have good doses of Vit C but did you know that they also have the most activity when it comes to antioxidants which helps boost our immune systems and fights off bad stuff like cancer and diseases.

Cinnamon and Star Anise. My kitchen smells something like a cross between Christmas and far away lands. It was boooootiful. Star Anise can be used to help bring out a cough and all the yucky stuff that gets stuck in your chest. Mixed with some honey and water it's also been known to help with tummy cramps. The shape of these get me every time!

Cinnamon has amazing properties, first I have to talk about how great  it is for regulating blood sugar levels! Yay, another food/spice  to add to our 'helpfull' lists for those of us with Insulin Resistance. Other uses include helping with pain, inflammation and hormone balancing.


200g castor sugar
145g ground almonds
215m sunflower oil
4 large eggs
finely grated zest of 2 lemons and 2 oranges
1½ tsp baking powder.

juice of 1 lemon and orange
90g castor sugar
3 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon broken up

Oil and line a tine with baking paper. I have used different tins every time I make it (round to flat and square) It won't rise a huge amount but there is a good amount of mix. Combine all the cake ingredients together and give it a good beat. Immediately put into your tin and put it in the oven. Turn oven to 190C and set your timer for 40 mins. A cold oven is what makes this cake work also, the top will look like it's getting brown too quick. Cover with a bit of tin foil.

With about 10 mins to spare, pop all the syrup ingredients into a pan. Slowly bring it to a boil (all the sugar wants to be dissolved before it boils) and simmer it for 15 mins. Warning: Smell in your kitchen will be amazing so be careful.

Check to see if you cake is cooked (skewer into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean take it out, if there is a mixture on the skewer leave in for another 10 mins)

Once out though pour the syrup over the cake trying to cover all of the surface. This will make your cake so moist and amazing! I found that I had some syrup left over as I had covered the cake 2 with syrup and didn't want to drown it. So I've kept the syrup to make a christmassy cordial.