Category Archives: Quick

Baked Mackerel Parcel

Summertime food for me will always be mackerel. For some it’s strawberries and cream, for others its caprese salad. For me it’s mackerel, straight out of the Atlantic, fishing with my Dad, collecting a bucket-full of the little torpedo shaped blighters, still contorted with rigor and ready to be devoured as soon as possible.

This is one of the easiest and most fool proof way of cooking fish. You will see it crop up time and time again on restaurant menus and in cookbooks. It can be made in advance if you are having a dinner party or whipped together in minutes on a lazy Wednesday night.

It is also seriously adaptable. I used the ingredients here but you can use it with any herbs and light vegetables and pretty much any small fish. Experiment and you never know what combinations you will find.
The Ingredients
1 Whole gutted Mackerel
1 Small Leek
1 Lemon
1 Small Bunch of Coriander
1 Small bunch of Thyme
50ml Cider/fish stock/chicken stock/veg stock/white wine/water

-Rinse and finely slice up the leek, (remove a lot of the thick green tips as they are a bit tough to eat) and slice the lemon.
IMG_7236 (Large)
-Take one long piece of wide tin foil and double it over so you parcel is good and thick.
IMG_7238 (Large)
-Place a few of the sliced leeks and lemon slices in the middle of your foil along with a little coriander and thyme.
IMG_7239 (Large)
-Now place the Mackerel on top.
IMG_7240 (Large)
-Stuff the Mackerel with more of the leeks, lemon and the herbs.
IMG_7241 (Large)
-Cover the fish with any remaining stuffing and season well with salt, pepper and a little olive oil.
IMG_7242 (Large)
-Now wrap the fish by folding one of the long sides of the tin foil over the other and sealing it tightly.
IMG_7243 (Large)

IMG_7245 (Large)
-Roll up one end of the long tin foil tube you now have until you reach the body of the fish. This should leave one end open.
IMG_7246 (Large)

IMG_7252 (Large)
-Into this end, pour the liquid. I had a bit of cider in the fridge so I used that but any stock or wine would work well. You want some kind of flavourful liquid that is going to steam the fish in the oven.
IMG_7253 (Large)
-Wrap up that end tightly so you are left with a completely sealed, tin foil parcel of goodness.
IMG_7254 (Large)
-Place this parcel on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for about fifteen to seventeen minutes depending on the size of your fish.
IMG_7256 (Large)
-When it comes out of the oven pierce the foil and savour the smell and the steam. This is a glorious thing to eat.
IMG_7266 (Large)
The foil parcel makes a ready-made bowl. The leeks and herbs have cooked down to create an incredible salad. The oil and juice from the mackerel have combined with the cider to create an incredible sauce and the fish is light and flaky and fragrant. I can’t imagine a more perfectly well contained meal.

Advertisements

Mexican Pork Tacos

I recently moved from the city centre into slightly more compact digs on the Southside. This led me to the inevitable trip to Ikea on Wednesday last. Originally planning a morning trip it was close to six thirty by the time I got home (typical day off right?). So I needed to get myself fed and back into action fast. The answer? Tacos. Tacos is always the answer.

These tacos are the best. I had four and I would have had more if my Sister was not equally as endeared to them as I was. Seriously give these a go. Really speedy to put together and even fast to chow down and get to building that Austmarka Brimnes set.

The portions here are perfect for two people so just double it up as necessary for yourself. I got the shells from Tesco around the Old El Paso stuff and they are pretty handy to have around the kitchen for just such a taco related emergency.

The Ingredients

500g Pork Belly Slices (skin removed)
1tsp Cumin Seeds
1tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Lime (zested)
8 Small soft flour tacos
Any assorted extras you fancy

-Dice up the pork belly into 1cm cubes and mix with the cumin, paprika and the lime zest.
Diced Pork
-Fry these on a medium/low heat for about ten to fifteen minutes with just a touch of oil. the fat from the belly will render out once it starts cooking.
Pork in the pan
-Now is the time to set up all of the bits and pieces you are going to use to pimp up your tacos. I went with lime wedges, avocado, coriander and sliced spring onion but you could use rice, beans, sliced peppers, iceberg lettuce or anything you have in your fridge really
Salad
-Once they have coloured a little bit crank up the heat and squeeze in the juice from the lime you zested earlier.
Pork after adding the lime juice
-Keep these moving around in the pan as it sizzles away but be very careful as the juice can burn easily. Remove from the heat and set aside.
-Gently heat the tortillas under a medium grill for about 2 minutes while you plate everything else up.
-Serve everything on a great big platter and get everyone to tuck in.

The finished product

This is a hands on job and everyone is going to get a little messy. They will love it though, I promise.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Carbonara


This is a classic. One of those dishes that once I learned it was the mainstay of my college diet. So simple and quick that you can put on the pasta, have a cuppa tea, then make the sauce as the pasta is finishing off. Simple. It’s also pretty handy as there is usually the makings of the dish knocking about in your fridge.

          It is also fairly adaptable. If you have a little leftover chicken? Add a little chicken. Don’t have bacon? Don’t add bacon. This is probably the simplest version I like to make. Is it healthy? Probably not. Is it delicious? Damn straight it is.

Spaghetti

3 slices smoked streaky bacon

1 tsp fresh thyme

2 cloves of garlic

1 egg

200ml cream

-Put two portions of spaghetti into rolling boiling water that has been well salted.

-While this is cooking, get a large pan on a high heat with a little olive oil.

-Chop up the bacon and get it into the pan. You want this nice and crispy.

-When the bacon is almost there, dice your garlic as finely as possible and add it, along with the thyme, into the pan.

-When the garlic is cooked and the bacon beautifully crispy, take them out of the pan and lay on a piece of kitchen paper.

-Pour your cream into the pan with all of the oil which has been perfumed with the garlic and herbs.

-Turn you heat down low and allow the cream to come to a light simmer.

-Take the pan off the heat.

-When it’s cooked, drain the pasta, keeping a little of the starchy cooking water by putting a mug under your colander.

-Toss the pasta into the pan with the cream. Mix in a little of the pasta water.

-Beat the egg in a cup and add it to the pasta.

-Give this all a good toss and mix everything in together well. This is where you want to add a little more of your starchy water if it is getting a bit thick and stodgy. You want the sauce and pasta to be loose and silky.

-Serve it up on a large plate and top with your crispy bacon and grated parmesan.

-I also served it with a bottle of Carlsberg but that’s really more of a personal preference.

 

Stir Fried Pork with Fried Rice

Stir Fried Pork with Fried-Rice

 

          Making a good stir-fried rice is one of those essential skills every student should have. Who knows, if I learned to make this a lot earlier I might have lasted long than my (frankly, pitiful) year and a half before dropping out. Incredibly handy for a quick lunch or dinner. It uses up the odds and ends in your fridge. It is cheap as anything to make. Best of all, it looks pretty fancy to make and serve up. Impressed mates = Social Win.

          The key to really great fried rice is having your rice cold before you start. This will allow you to control the texture and heat and consistency. All too often it becomes too soggy or too dry. Burnt. Stodgy. Flavourless. But once you master a few simple steps you will be laughing. You can also pimp it in whatever way you want. Use any bits of vegetables you have leftover. I had a red pepper and some green beans but go nuts with the few bits that are clogging up the bottom of the fridge.

400g cooked rice

1 red pepper

Handful of french beans

1 egg

Soy sauce

1 pork fillet

1tbs chinese five spice

2 cloves of garlic

Thumb sized piece of ginger

1 medium sized chilli

1 lime

1 small bunch of thyme

2 red apples

-Get a medium sized frying pan on a high heat with a good glug of olive oil in it.

-Finely dice up the garlic, chilli and ginger and add to the pan along with the thyme. (leave it on the stalk if you like)

-While these are frying in your hot pan, you can prep the pork.

-Slice the fillet into 2cm rounds.

-Season well with salt, pepper and the five spice.

-Place them into your pan. By now your oil should be beautifully scented with all of those other flavours.

-Give them a little attention. Flipping them ever two minutes or so until they are fully cooked. This should take about fifteen minutes or so.

-Roughly chop up the apples and put them in with the pork.

-About a minute before the end, juice the lime over the meat. Allow to reduce and give you a gorgeously tangy, sweet crust to the hero of the dish.

-Season with a little soy sauce.

-The three main stages to really great fried rice are these; fry your veg, add the rice then add the egg.

-So, chop up your pepper and beans.

-In a large wok, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.

-Quickly fry the vegetables on a high heat, you want to cook them, while still maintaining crunch.

-Once they are cooked, add in your rice. This is where a really good tossing action with the pan will come in handy.

-Keep the rice moving until you are satisfied it has been heated through.

-Make a small well in the centre of your wok by pressing the rice up the sides.

-Into this well, crack your egg directly onto the exposed pan.

-Quickly whisk this up in the centre of the pan as it cooks. You are essentially making a teeny omelette in your wok.

-Once the egg is fully cooked, break it up and mix it into the rice. This will give you that typical fried rice look and taste.

-Season well with soy sauce and a touch of sesame oil (only if you have it, it just kicks the dish up a gear, not essential).

-Serve your pork on a bed of the fried rice and rest easy in the knowledge that you will never have to eat dodgy take away rice again.

Simple Pork Stir Fry

Simple Pork Stir-Fry

            Making a decent stir fry is one of the most essential life skills there is. If you know the basics of stir frys then you can turn any amount of crappy bits of vegetables and barely-ok-to-eat tesco brand meat into a really quite delicious and presentable meal.

           Here I have made a slightly spicy one with some pork chops I had. But the beauty of this dish is, it works no matter what you have. Don’t have onions? Don’t use onions. Don’t have peppers? Don’t use pepper. Have celery? Use celery. Have rice but no noodles? You guessed it, use rice. Simples.

2 pork chops

Half of a red pepper and half of a green pepper

1 red onion

6 mushrooms

1 red chilli

1 lime

3 cloves of garlic

Small bunch of coriander (stalks and leaves chopped separately)

Thumb of ginger

1 tbs sesame oil

1 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs sweet chilli sauce

2 packs of egg noodles

-Ok to start you want to slice up the pork chops and get them into a bowl.

-Next into the same bowl zest the lime and  finely dice in the chilli, garlic, ginger and coriander stalks.

-Give this a cook mix up and then set in the fridge for about half an hour.

-While the pork is chilling out, slice up the peppers, red onion and the mushrooms.

-Boil the kettle and get your noodles cooking.

-Into a wok on a high heat, heat up the sesame oil.

-Then goes in all the pork.

-Keep this moving on the high heat for a few minutes until the meat is starting to colour nicely.

-Then go in with the onion and peppers.

-When these are getting cooked nicely add in the mushrooms remembering to keep the whole thing moving constantly. This is key to stir frys. High heat, constant motion.

-Now you can add the soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.

-Keep tossing and reduce the sauces slightly.

-Serve up your noodles and right before you serve the stir-fry, toss through the coriander leaves.

-You now have in front of you an awesome dinner for two, ready in less than fifteen minutes. Beat that.

Thai Green Curry

Thai Green Curry

 

This was one of the first recipes I learned to make a few years back when I first got into food in a big way. It was early summer and there was a gaping Leaving Cert shaped hole in my free time which I was all too happy about. While I spent most evenings in the cinema or drinking in a field (I was still underage at the time, don’t tell the Feds) It was coming up on my lil’ sisters birthday and I wanted to cook something special for her.

 

She is a massive fan of thai food and was at the time a regular customer of Siam Thai in Dundrum. As part of my unofficial training I was watching all the first seasons of Jamie Olivers Naked Chef back to back. The day before the big meal, with little or no inspiration in my head this recipe came on the show. Fate, some would call it. Fucking good luck to me.

 

You can add any veg you like really or just have it as meat and the curry broth. I always like to serve it with fluffy basmati rice but noodles would work just as well. The paste I used is the one that I had on the site before, you can find it here or if you don’t have time you can just get a good one from the supermarket and it will do the same job. This is enough to serve two.

 

4 tbs Thai Green Curry Paste

2 Chicken Breasts

1 mug basmati rice

1 tin of coconut milk

1 bulb of fennel (finely sliced)

1 handful of green beans

1 handful of asparagus

Sesame seed oil

 

-Slice up the chicken breast into 1 inch square pieces

-Mix into the paste and leave to sit for at least half an hour or overnight if you can.

-Once these are marinated and ready to go, get a medium pot onto a med/high heat.

-Add in the mug of rice followed by two mugs of boiling water. As the rice cooks it will absorb the water and leave you with perfect rice every time.

-Next, add a tbs of sesame oil to a wok and get this onto a high heat.

-Add to this the marinated chicken and fry quickly until coloured. Make sure to keep the chicken moving constantly so not to burn it.

-Once the chicken is cooked, add in the  veg and continue to stir fry for another 5 to 7 minutes.

-Next you want to go in with the coconut milk. Once this is boiling your dish is ready. Usually, in perfect time for your rice aswel.

-Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and a few fresh coriander leaves and you are sorted for a quick and seriously good weekday dinner. Enjoy.

 

Quick Chicken Goujons

Quick Chicken Coujons

 

            One of the things I see most often is how much demand there is for easy chicken recipes. It’s everywhere, every restaurant has loads of chicken dishes, every cookbook, every blog, every YouTube account. There’s nothing wrong with it. Chicken is accessible, it’s affordable, it’s adaptable, it’s variable. There’s hundreds of ways to prep it with hundreds of other ways to flavour it.

                 This is a classic chicken recipe that when you have tried once, you will never go back to the Mcdonald’s crap. It’s also a great thing to be able to do, is breadcrumb something properly. It’s traditionally called a Panée. I think it is a French method. I could be wrong. But as I said it’s a great thing to be able to do, as when you know it and can apply that method to any meat or veg.

                  I made a quick dipping sauce for these with 1 tsp of fresh pesto and 2 tbs of natural yoghurt. But you can have it with whatever you like. Serve them as a snack on their own or with a bit of a side salad or a few chips and you’re laughing. Give it a go and let me know what you think.

2 chicken breasts

1 small bowl of flour

2 eggs

1 small bowl of breadcrumbs

-Crack both eggs into a small bowl and whisk them up quickly with a fork.

-Firstly you want to set up your panée station like this;

Pané

with your flour first, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Always work left to right so you a know what is going where and everything stays neat and tidy and clean. This is important when dealing with raw chicken.

-Take your chicken breasts and cut them up in whichever way you fancy. I like to cut mine into three long strips which are great for dipping in sauces.

-When you have them in the shape you want, it’s time to panée.

-First coat them in flour, then transfere them to the egg. Coat them in that. Then it’s on to the breadcrumbs.

-I personally love a massive big thick layer of crunchy breadcrumbs on mine so make sure you have them well coated in breadcrumbs.

-Get a large frying pan on to a medium high heat and add a large lug of sunflower oil, salt and pepper.

-When the pan comes to temperature, carefully place your goujons in the pan making sure not to splash yourself by the oil.

-They should take about 4-5 minutes on each side, make sure to get the edges aswel.

-Whip up the sauce if you are making one, serve up the goujons while still hot and enjoy.