Cooking is all about sharing.

27 Jun

How happy we would all be if the daily cooking was shared by every member of the family, including the youngest members – well those above the age of 2 years. Cookery skills would be passed down from generation to generation and the generations would be getting healthier instead of sicker. Having taught cooking and home economic skills to children for a very long time, it never ceases to amaze me and please me, how enthusiastic children are in getting involved in the meal making process. The seed is there in all children if they are exposed to and allowed to share the cooking experience.  Image


Cooking is all about sharing.

27 Jun

How happy we would all be if the daily cooking was shared by every member of the family, including the youngest members – well those above the age of 2 years. Cookery skills would be passed down from generation to generation and the generations would be getting healthier instead of sicker. Having taught cooking and home economic skills to children for a very long time, it never ceases to amaze me and please me, how enthusiastic children are in getting involved in the meal making process. The seed is there in all children if they are exposed to and allowed to share the cooking experience.  Image

When Your Son Asks for Fish – He gets Fish

23 Mar

If you’re wise you want to cook very healthy meals for your children – after all it is their health, so don’t let’ s mess it up.  Small chidren are a doddle – there really is only one rule – never give them dried food substitutes or complete meals in a bottle  – we wouldn’t eat it so why should they.  Its a different matter however when it comes to teenagers.  Wonderful parents never have this problem, only real ones and believe me I am a real parent.

In my nievity I thought if you bring your children up to enjoy good food, to help prepare it, get involved in it, see  food being grown or produced, to know what nutrients did what in your body, teenage meals would also be a doddle. Not a bit of it.  I still insist he eats a good breakfast and he always gets a meal cooked from scratch most night, we go out to eat in our local restaurants and at a push we will very ocassionaly get an Indian take away and  I use SiansPlan (is the new organic) system to plan my meals ahead. But FISH never. Not since he was about 12 years of age has he eaten FISH.  So imagine my surprise when he said on the way to school this morning – ‘I woke up in he middle of the night last night and fancied FISH for dinner tonight’, I nearly crashed into the school wall.  FISH I said to myself – is my boy growing up?  He is seventeen by the way and has just passed his theory driving test – but grown up – well!!!.  So when your son asks for fish – he gets fish.  Not those horrid frozen fishfingers or battered fish – real fresh fish from the fishmonger.

There is really no need for a recipe for FISH Goujons – good quality fresh fish – no smell, skinless, boneless and very white. My fishmonger told me that the haddock was line caught – i should have prodded him for more information but i was in a hurry to get back to cook the FISH before HE changed his mind.  And by the way  SiansPlan (is the new organic) did allow me the luxury of changing my mind as to what we ate tonight – its called a SiansPlan Amber Day.

The secret to tasty fish goujons is to marinade for no more than 1hr in a little lemon juice and a sprinkling of lemon zest.  1/2 a lemon is enough.   Cut the fish into approriate sizes, small children love bite size pieces. Coat the goujons in flour, eggwash and then in fresh breadcrumbs.

Deep fat fry the goujons until golden brown on 160c.  Drain on kitchen paper

When Your Son Asks ForFish – He Gets Fish

When Your Son Asks For  A Car – He Gets !!!!!!!!


Beta Testers – Here we Go

20 Mar

March 19th 2011 – Phase 1 Beta Testing has started.

By the time you read my latest blog, has gone out to many of our registered beta testers.   I can’t wait to share our in house recipes with you but until we are ready to test the Meal Planning function and the automatic  Shopping list creator we are asking you to add as many of your favourite recipes as you want.  Get your cameras ready as digital photography makes capturing  food moments so easy.  Sending on photos I took of Chef Anthony trying out recipes this morning and one of the finished dish he served to a group of Tasting Plate Testers.  The recipe is one of the  100’s we have in siansplan recipe library for you to try.

Cajun Blackened Salmon

You can make cajun spice yourself, however it is much easier to buy ready prepared. If you insist on making you’re own , i’ve noticed some recipes use paprika pepper and othere use cayenne pepper – be careful as cayenne is much much hotter than paprika.
Serves 4 people
Preparation Time 10 mins, Cooking Time 20 mins
Difficulty Easy
  • 1 tblsp Cajun Spice
  • 4 Salmon Cutletsor Fillets
  • 15 grms butter
  • 1 tblsp Oil
  • 1 pinch Seasoning
  • lemon Slices
  1. Dust salmon with cajun mix,
  2. Place oil and butter in a pre-heated pan to melt.
  3. When sizzling add salmon and cook on both sides for 5-10 minutes each, until cooked.
  4. Serve with a lemon slice and salad and baby potatoes or  with mash and vegetables..
To put twist on this dish, add chopped peppers and cream to pan to make a sauce.

For information on salmon fishing  link to (but don’t forget to get back to us)

Apologies to some of our registered beta testers, we have had to randamly reduce the numbers taking part because of logistics.

What’s Green White and Gold and Good Enough to Eat on St. Patrick’s Day?

12 Mar

Looking for something Irish to eat on St. Patrick’s Day?  This Welsh women has been inspired to write this recipe &  blog for two reasons – Bord Bia in their wisdom have sponsored a competition for Irish Food Bloggers – the prize, one of only two places left on the Hands On Food Photography and Writing workshop in Weimar, Germany  – From Plate to Page (link here). Irish Beef  being  the theme and if that wasn’t enough, this Welsh/Irish women wants to acknowledge and follow the footsteps of a great Welsh/Irishman.  It’s  a long time ago now that St. Patrick graced the land of both Wales and Ireland, its never the less wonderful he has never been forgotten.  I even visited his grave in Armagh some years ago and felt a strong connection.  Back to more serious Irish issues – where’s our pot of gold gone?  Not to fear I’ve filled it with good old Irish Beef – they can take our money but they can’t take our beef away from us. Irish Beef need not be expensive or a luxury as in St. Patrick’s time, chuck steak is just as delicious just cook it a little longer – about 90 minutes longer. Irish Beef and Trinity of Vegetable Crock of Gold.

St. Patrick’s Day. Entertain yo ur friends with my  everything Irish and Irish is everything   Irish Beef and Trinity of  Vegetables Crock of Gold.   On this cold bitter day with snow forecast by our neighbourly postman come famous  weatherman,  there is no choice but choice itself,  to serve a heart  warming crock of  Irish Gold.  But if you are reading  my blog,  as my nephew will in Australia or my brother will be reading in Dubai – with temperatures of 38’c do not dismay. This clever dish is served in a consomme (a light jus not a heavy stew gravy)  so is suitable for everyone Irish (and not so Irish ) around the globe.


600 grms Irish Sirloin Steak

2  carrots

2 courgette

16 baby potatoes

4 small Butternut Squash

500mls oxo cube stock

1tblsp butter

1 tblsp oil

1 sprig rosemary

And now to make the dish – step by step

Prepare butternut squash by cutting off the top and scooping out the flesh and seeds.  Leave a 1cm edge of flesh. Discard seeds, and make 12 parisienne turned pieces of squash.  Repeat 3 further times Roast  in a hot oven 180c for 20 -25 minutes

Prepare the carrots, potatoes and courgettes by cutting parisienne style. No need to peel courgettes.

Place  stock, sherry and rosemary into a saucepan, heat up and gentle add the vegetable parisiennes.  Gently cook for 10 minutes.

In the meantime – trim and cube Irish beef into bite size pieces.  melt butter and oil in a pan and when it is hot add beef.  Cook for 3 – 5 minutes depending on taste. Remove and keep warm

Deglaze pan using stock ( remove veg 1st and keep warm).  Strain stock and keep hot.

Now for the presentation and service

Place each of the hot butternut squashes on a wide shallow bowl, arrange an unequal number of carrots, courgettes and potatoes around the squash.  Place the rest of the veg  inside the squash between layers of the  beef and top with a little hot stock . Gently spoon some of the stock around the veg in the dish.

Lá Fhéile Phádraig Sona Duit

Dydd Gwyl  Padrig  Sant.

Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)

8 Mar

Today the 8th March is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day when traditionally, lent homes would use up food in the pantry such as sugar, flour, butter, milk and eggs before the start of lent.  During Lent many people fast the day after Shrove Tuesday (Ash Wednesday) by abstaining  from a luxury food for the 40 days.  Traditionally the  purpose of a fast was to find out who was in control, you or your tummy and through prayer if neccessary to win that control. The luxury food at the time was meat as vegetables were grown by everyone and fish readily cought. However Irish Catholics also chose other foods they didn’t  wish to  eat.  At one time, all animal products, including milk, butter, and eggs, were not to be consumed during Lent – hence the pancakes today..

Batter for pancakes was easily made from these ingredients and also provided some nutrients before the fasting period began on Ash Wednesday and ending 40 days later at Easter.

How times have changed, today the ingredients I’ve listed are not necessary called treat foods.  Chocolate and ice cream however should be and for this reason I have a recipe to use up these treat foods before Lent, along with the more traditional pancake ingredients.

Batter is a simple mixture of flour, and liquid.  Some recipes add eggs to help set and add nutrients, baking powder to make the pancake lighter and sugar.  I chose to make my recipe using only whole wheat flour (generally better for us) along with the traditional pancake ingredients.

Pancakes with Ice cream and Warm Chocolate Sauce

150grms whole wheat flour   + 1 tsp baking powder  or

150grms SR flour

2 eggs (beaten)

Pinch of brown sugar

200mls milk. (skimmed , low or full fat milk , soya )

Spray sunflower oil or small amount of sunflower oil or butter


1.      Whisk together all ingredients except for oil/ butter and leave to thicken for approx 10 minutes.

2.      In the meantime collect a small ladel, flat frying pan, spatula/palette knife and plate.

3.      Heat up the pan really well, spray with oil or brush oil onto pan.  Leave to heat again for a few seconds. (the temperature is critical).  Ladle the pancake mixture into the centre of the pan, lift the pan and swirl the mixture around to cover the base of the pan.

4.      Return the pan to the heat and wait until you see the batter mixture setting.  The palette knife will only be able to run under the pancake when the pancake is ready.  Be patient – the pancake will determine when its ready to flip over.  If you try to flip the pancake over too quickly you’ll break the pancake.

5.      Flip the pancake and brown for a few more minutes.

6.      Slide off the pan and onto a plate.    Keep warm and repeat the process until you use up all the batter.  You will find that because the pan has been seasoned/is hot that the pancakes will left off much quicker and easier.

7.      Whilst still warm   place a scoop of ice cream into the middle, fold over like an envelope, encasing the ice cream. Turn over onto the plate. Cut in half, arrange on the plate. Pour over the warm chocolate sauce.

Warm Chocolate Sauce  alternatively use warm nuttella.

227 grams dark chocolate (cut into small pieces)

180 ml double cream

2 tablespoons Butter (optional –makes a sheen)


1.      Boil cream in a saucepan

2.      Add chocolate and melt in the cream.  Stir well

3.      Add butter, if using and beat together. For a few minutes.

Savoury Scotch Pancakes  (Smaller and thicker pancakes usually about 10cms 4” in diameter)

This is a great recipe for using up any leftovers you have in the fridge/pantry.  It’s amazingly delicious.


Batter as above omit 1 Egg and the sugar.


1.      Into the batter add any of the following grated cheese, goats cheese (which I used) finely diced onions, finely chopped peppers, finely chopped ham or chicken or smoked salmon.  Stir gently.

2.      Heat the frying pan, spray with oil and when very hot  add a small amount of the batter mix. The mixture will form perfectly round circles. Depending on the size of the pan, you could cook 3 scotch pancakes at a time.

3.      Bubbles can be seen as the mixture sets and cooks. Flip over when the batter is set enough.

4.      Cook for a further few minutes.

5.      Serve hot with a salad of your choice.

6.      Don’t keep this recipe for Shrove Tuesday, its delicious any time.


Low calorie batter mix – use sparkling water instead of milk.


Banana & Maple Syrup

Berries Nuts and Greek Yoghurt

Lemon & Sugar

For Sweet Scotch Pancakes keep the sugar.

Bobby Kerr and Me

7 Mar

Just heard that has been shortlisted for the Emerging Business Award 2011 organised by Donegal County Enterprise Board. Two years of quietly perservering with my unique meal planning system and receiving assistance from many different sources including  Martin & LYIT, Ursula DCEB, Maebh  EI, Vincent Digital Project Manager, our inhouse chef Anthony, Michael Finance, Michael Online Marketing is coming together. With food prices going up,  obesity in chidren rising at an alarming rate and the fact that a third of our food shopping is wasted, is a very timely product.  We plan to launch our product in May after our 100 beta testers test the site.  By the way Booby Kerr was at the announcement of

Bobby Kerr & Me

the awards shortlists.  He gave a mighty address.

Board about shortlisted by DCEB