Banh Mi

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Friday night in our house is take-away night.  However, living as we do on the very edge of the west coast of Ireland where the next village is Greenwich, New York, the choice of actual take-away is fairly limited so we make our own.  It’s the perfect little treat to end the working week and I tend to keep it simple but tasty – like homemade pizza with chilli and basil, yuk sung or juicy griddled chicken and pineapple with satay sauce.  The common theme is a bit of heat, lots of flavour and not too much effort.  Banh Mi fits the bill perfectly – it’s a Vietnamese sandwich consisting of crusty fresh baguette, spicy meat, crunchy pickled carrot and cabbage, creamy mayo and hot hot chilli sauce.  For the meat element I make spicy pork meatballs but you can use any meat you want, as long as there is lots of flavour.  Whilst the meat should add some spice to this the real heat comes from the chilli sauce and I use Sriracha, which is fast becoming one of my favourite things.  It’s a seriously hot inexpensive Thai sauce and leaves behind a tingle to the mouth that has to be good for you!  It’s available in Asian supermarkets and I got mine in Eurasia on the Fonthill Road in Dublin.  Just one tip on the roll – proper Banh Mi calls for crusty French baguette and some of the inside bread is scooped out to leave a shell to hold the fillings.  If you are really lucky to live near a great bakers and can get your hands on good baguettes then perfect, but the ones available around here are a certain brand that is part-baked in store and too heavy and dense for my liking so I use fresh salad rolls from the local bakers that have the requisite crisp outer crust and a really light interior so I don’t bother to scoop any bread out as they squish down perfectly to accommodate all of the filling when you take a bite.  There is enough here to serve 4 which means that in my house there is usually leftovers for a Saturday afternoon lunch for me too.  I use three meatballs per roll (in the pic above I have cut each meatball in two so there are six halves spread out on the roll). [Continue reading...]

Hot Chilli Bean & Feta Soup for a cold day.

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I make this soup quite a lot – it’s spicy and warming and perfect for this time of year.  It’s also very simple to make and quite healthy so I tend to cook this for my weekday lunch and it’s chunky texture needs no bread to mop it up.  I do tend to make this quite spicy and the addition of lovely creamy Feta is a match made in heaven for me.   One thing I tend to find myself adding more and more to different dishes these days is a little bit of vinegar of some sort or another, which really seems to enhance the flavour of curries, soups and stews and here cider vinegar really adds a nice tang and subtle sweetness to the flavour of the chilli. This is also probably the only soup that I don’t add salt or pepper to! But feel free to add if you want.  [Continue reading...]

The Year of the Irish Cookbook

I have mentioned before that I have tried to curtail my cook book purchasing this year but Christmas always presents the perfect opportunity to spoil yourself, or someone else, with a new cookbook.  I love sitting down on a quiet afternoon ear-marking recipes to try out in the coming year and as I have said […]

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Orange and Almond Syrup Cake

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Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I had placed myself on a ban for some time when it came to new cookbooks – not only for economic reasons but also because I have so many with little post-it tabs still awaiting attention from me that I really wanted to get through before adding any more […]

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Double Chocolate Brownies with Hot Chocolate Sauce

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I was never really The World’s Greatest Chocolate Lover.  I liked it but my snack of choice was usually something savoury, if out at a restaurant I would never pick a chocolate dessert over something fruity and I would never find myself making chocolate cake unless it was by request (always from my boy).  But […]

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Ballotine of Chicken

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Ballotine of Chicken is something I have been meaning to try for ages.  When I say ages I mean about ten years and after finally getting around to it last Sunday I really can’t work out what took me so long. From what I gather Ballotine is usually made using chicken thigh stuffed with forcemeat […]

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The Wedding Cake

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It’s been a while and I must admit I have missed this place.  I have checked in every once in a while and I know some of you out there have been doing the same and for that I thank you.  The time is right for me to get back in the blogging saddle. This […]

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Raspberry and White Chocolate Cheesecake

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I absolutely love cheesecake – it’s one my favourite sweet treats.  I definitely favour the chilled variety over baked and I like my topping to be creamy and luscious with the distinct flavour from cream cheese still shining through whatever other flavourings are added.  For me the perfect base is one that’s crisp and firm […]

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Poached Leek and Cheddar Tart

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As anyone who reads this blog will surely know I am a huge fan of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and one of the first recipes that I earmarked in his River Cottage Everyday book is Gill’s poached leek and Dorset Blue Vinny tart which, despite it’s use of blue cheese, sounded right up my street.  Whilst […]

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Buttermilk Scones

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There’s nothing like a fresh home baked scone – crumbly, soft and light, served with fresh cream and a good dollop of jam or still oven warm with a generous spread of butter. I’ve tried a few scone recipes in my time but our favourite is from the lovely Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Family Cookbook.  It’s […]

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