Tuscan Crostini

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I first sampled this robust little starter on a trip to Italy last year.  Served warm and full of flavour, I wasn’t entirely sure what it consisted of but it was cheap and delicious and I ended up ordering at almost every meal.

Don’t let the dull grey appearance of the paté fool you, this is a flavour smacking creation of tastiness. Served with some home-made Melba toast and a glass of wine its perfect comfort food for cold winter nights and an excellent authentic starter to an Italian meal.

You’ll Need:

Starter for 4-6 People

*     300g of chicken livers .

Chicken Livers can be a little hard to find but a good butcher should be able to order some in if they don’t normally carry them.   I got mine from the local Butcher, Noel Kavanagh in Glasthule  for the princely price of only €3.59.

*     Large Glass of Red Wine

*     2 medium Red Onions. Most Tuscan Crostini Recipes call for white onions but I love the flavour of red.

*     Olive oil

*     1 Cup of Chicken Stock

*     Anchovies

*     Butter

*     Ground Black Pepper

Method:

Clean the chicken livers, chop into medium chucks and eliminate the fatty parts. Place the meat in a bowl and marinate in the Red Wine for at least 15 minutes.

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Lemon & Herb Chicken with Salsa & Parmesan Mash

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Serves 4

You’ll Need:

800g New Potatoes

3 Tomatoes

30g Parmesan cheese, grated.

A large bunch of Asparagus

Large Bunch of Fresh Basil

Small Bunch of Scallions

1 Medium fresh red chilli

2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar

4 Skinless Chicken Breasts

1 Lemon

4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

A Knob of Butter

Olive Oil

Salt & Black Pepper

Method:

Add peeled potatoes to a large pot of boiling water and cook for approximately 15 minutes. More

Chilli Evenings

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This is what you might call “healthy” comfort food, if there can be such a thing. The first day back in work after Christmas combined with the return of the chill outside gave me a grá for something hot and meaty, hence…

Chilli Con Carne

(Serves 4/6)

You’ll Need:

  • 2 Medium Red Onions
  • 2 Medium Carrots
  • 2 Red Peppers
  • 1 400g Tin of Chickpeas
  • 1 400g Tin of Red Kidney Beans
  • 2 400g Tins of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 500g Mince Meat
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of Chilli Powder (hot)
  • 1 Heaped Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
  • 1 Heaped Teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon of Tomato Puree
  • Bunch of Fresh Coriander (or a teaspoon of dried coriander leaves)
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Splash of Worcester Sauce
  • 100g Natural Yoghurt or Cream Cheese

Method:

Peel and finely chop onion, carrots and garlic More

When It’s 1am And You Really Need Cake

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These things will happen over the Christmas break and happily they are even more delicious the next day.

You’ll Need:

 

  • 10 oz (280 g) bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)
  • 4/5 cup (180 g) butter
  • 8 eggs
  • 1+¼ cup (275 g) sugar
  • 1+¼ cup (140 g) all-purpose flour

Method:

Preheat oven to  180 deg C.

Grease 10 large muffin tins or cups; paper muffin bake cups can also be used.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with butter over hot water.

Beat the eggs with sugar and mix with flour.

Slowly fold in the melted butter and chocolate.

Bake at 180 degrees for only 8-12 minutes; the outer part should be cooked and the inner part slighly gooey.

Serve with  whatever you can get your hands on. In this case, some Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Ice-cream which had been hiding out in the freezer.

These also work well as mini cup-cakes. Simply cook them for a shorter period of time.

Leftover Lover

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I cooked a Turkey this year for the first time and thanks to the combined efforts of Jamie and Nigella it turned out wonderfully.  It also turned out that there was a significant amount of unused meat left over on the bird and a friend recommended that I try Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Turkey and Sweet Leek pie.

The only variations I made to the pie was the addition of some left over stuffing, potatoes and vegetables lying in the fridge. I think this only made it better.

You’ll Need:

  • 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped
  • 2kg leeks, washed, trimmed; white end chopped into chunks, green end finely sliced
  • 800g cooked turkey meat, torn into big chunks
  • 1 x 500g packet puff pastry (I used the 450g pack of Jus Rol Puff Pastry which worked great)
  • 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
  • 2 pints turkey, chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 egg, preferably free-range or organic, beaten
  • 2 heaped tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ½ bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • Olive oil
  • A large knob of butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage, leaves picked More

Spicy Lamb Moussaka

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Confession time: Until last night I had no idea what Moussaka consisted of. I had a vague notion that it was a food dish but that was really as far as it went.

Turns out Moussaka is a relatively straight forward meal to prepare. Think of it as Greek lasagne.  I’m sure it could be adapted to fit what you have in the presses for a less traditional dish.

It does however require apt attention in the preparation which has a number of steps so make sure you aren’t distracted before you start.

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Serves 4.

Prep Time : 25 minutes.

Cooking time: 45 minutes More

Red Lentil, Kidney Bean, Chickpea & Chilli Soup

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Getting home close to 7pm on a week night never puts one in much of a mood for  standing over a stove for 2 hours stirring,  sifting, reducing etcetera etcetera.  The lure of the microwave dinner or worse the chipper can be just too great. Therefore I tend to go for recipes that are are not overly complicated & that are relatively quick to make.

This is never more the case than when you’re feeling a little under the weather as myself & the ninja were last week. This warm spicy soup is brilliant for just such a night. It’s super easy & the chickpeas & kidney beans give it a lovely hearty texture so it feels like a full meal.

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