Tag Archives: Easy

Moving away from home and an Asian Pickle Salad

So it has been a crazy few months since I last updated this blog. I left my job in Dublin, I moved to London and I have started working in an incredible Barbecue focused place here. This experience has been something that I was not nearly as ready for as I thought I was.

Moving away from your home, your family, your friends, your pets, the streets you walk every day, the coffee shops you frequent, the bars you imbibe in, the busses and trains you ride, it is a scary thing to do. You are left, as if suspended in mid-air, with not just the rug pulled out from under you, but the floorboards torn up and the entire building seemingly razed to the ground beneath your feet.

The first couple of weeks were probably the strangest, not necessarily the hardest but definitely odd. I had rented a room for the two weeks after I arrived as a way to get to know the area and have a place to search for more long term arrangements from. I ended up staying there three weeks because, as I probably don’t need to tell you, the housing market in London is bat-shit-cray.

Several times I would be on the way to meet with an estate agent only to get a curt message saying the apartment was already let, or they didn’t accept references from “overseas.” “It’s Ireland mate, it’s like a twenty minute walk from here.” That in combination with the rent prices I was looking at was a pretty daunting thing to overcome. But in the end, I found a nice little place in the East End and moved in.

The strangest feeling was that when I was leaving the first place I stayed, my mind seemed to think I had been on holiday or something. Like now that I had been away for a few weeks and was packing up my stuff I was going back to Dublin to see my life again. But to then find myself in another new apartment and new area was really tough.

The first day I had off from work after moving in, I did the only thing I know how to do when I don’t know what to do, I made a home cooked meal.

1 Red Chilli
1 Lime
2 Spring Onions
1 Bunch of Coriander
1 Tbsp Mirin
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Soy Sauce
1 Tsp Rice Wine Vinegar (White Wine Vinegar will do or any white vinegar in a pinch)
-First off you want to make up the pickle dressing for the salad. In a bowl, mix together the Mirin, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Rice Wine Vinegar and the Juice of the lime.
-Mix it well and then taste it. It should be a little sharp from the vinegar but if it is offensively strong, tone it down by adding in a little sugar and a little more Mirin.
-Next, half and deseed your chilli.
-As finely as you can, slice up each of the halves. I like to do it length-ways (purely for aesthetic reasons) but you can do it whatever way you like. Just make sure the pieces are quite fine so the pickle easily.
-Add the chilli into the pickle dressing.
-Peel the spring onions of any nasty outer leaves and chop them into manageable pieces.
-Slice them in half, length-ways and then slice them again as finely as you can. The thinner they are the better they will pickle and the better they will look on the plate.
-Add these into the dressing aswel.
-Pick the leaves, gently so as not to bruise them, of the coriander from the stalks.
-Chop the stalks into similarly sized pieces to the spring onion and chilli and add them into the dress with everything else.
-The salad can stay like this for a few days and then as soon as you are ready to serve, add in the coriander leaves.
-Pluck the salad out of the dressing and allow it to drain for a moment on a piece of kitchen paper. Then it’s ready to be placed atop anything you fancy.


Nutty Noodle Salad

Nutty Noodle Salad

This was one of the first recipes I ever learned off by heart. It’s pretty easy to make, really versatile and my personal favourite quality, not a lettuce leaf in sight. It is seriously good for lunches, dinners, picnics, packed lunches or just to keep in the fridge for when you are feeling peckish.  The quantities here make a decent sized portion, ideal for BBQs and such.


150g beansprouts

150g mangetout

1 red pepper

2 spring onions

500g Noodles

20g sesame seeds

100g bag of mixed nuts

Bunch of fresh coriander

Parmesan Cheese


For the dressing

2tbs Sesame Oil

1tbs Soy Sauce

1tbs Sweet Chilli Sauce

Juice of two limes

100g crunchy peanut butter
-First put your noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave them to sit while you get on with the rest of your salad.
-Core and finely slice (nothing too fancy) the red pepper and chop in the spring onion and mangetout. Mix all these together with the beansprouts in a big serving bowl.
-In a pestle and mortal, bash up the mixed nuts and sesame seeds and add them to the bowl.
-In a jug or something like that whisk up all the ingredients for the dressing and add that to the bowl along with the strained noodles.
-Give the whole thing a good mix to make sure everything is covered in the dressing. Chop up the coriander leaves and sprinkle on top with some grated parmesan, then serve and enjoy.

Foolproof Cupcakes

Foolproof Cupcakes

          This along with my cookies recipe and chocolate cake are seriously great things to have stashed in your back pocket at all times. (The recipe, not the cake, that would be weird.) They are all simple, easy to remember and most importantly, easy to execute well. Making you look like a culinary hero instead of the culinary cock-ups we all really are. It’s about perception my friends.

          I have been using this recipe for a fair few months now and it never fails. Stick to these measurements and the recipe will not let you down. The only thing that might change is the cooking time. Baked goods are delicate and pretty fickle. You will just have to watch yours closely for the first batch and then use that time as a guide from then on. Once you get to know your oven a little better (it probably misses you) you will be flying.

           Once you have it down to an art the rest is up to you. Replace a little of the flour with hot chocolate powder and add a few chocolate chips for double chocolate cupcakes. Grate in a little pear or apple for a fruity twist. Berries are always a safe bet. I did these ones with Lime zest and white chocolate in that batter and a white chocolate and lime juice icing.

The Cupcakes
225g Sugar
225g Butter (must be room temperature)

4 Eggs

225g Self Raising Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

The Icing

200g Butter

450g Icing Sugar

2 Tbsp Milk

-Cream together the butter and sugar until it turns to a light white creamy consistency. All of this can be done with a hand blender or in a food processor.

-Mix in the vanilla.

-Crack the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar one at a time and mix in thoroughly.

-It will initially look like its going to split but keep going and it will come together in the end.

-When the eggs are all incorporated sift in the flour and the baking powder.

-Mix these into the wet batter slowly. Make sure not to leave any pockets of flour in the batter. That will not end well, trust me.

-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

-Line a cupcake tin with cupcake cases.

-Fill each case about 2/3 full.

-Place in the centre of the oven. About 12 minutes works a charm for me but everyone’s oven is different and will give you a different time.

-When they look nice and golden on top, stick a toothpick in the centre of one. Leave it for a second or two then pull it out. If it comes out clean you cupcakes are done. If there is still batter on the cocktail stick put them back in for abother minute or two then test again.

-When they are done, leave them to cool on a wire rack so they don’t get too moist on the bottom.


-Soften the butter a bit in the microwave before starting. This will make everything a lot easier.

-In a large bowl whisk up the butter so it is nice and airy.

-Then slowly start to add in your icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time.

-Keep whisking until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated into the butter.

-I then add a few tablespoons of milk just to let it out a little and make it easier to pipe onto the cupcakes but if you are going to spoon it on then there is no need.

-If you would like to add food dye at this stage feel free. You can see I went for red here but use whatever you have to hand.


Spaghetti 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.


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.

Sausage Rolls

Sausage Rolls


 Man, sausage rolls are good. I mean good sausage rolls. Not the shoddy, moist (and somehow dry) overcooked things you get in Spar. Real sausage rolls made with real meat and real pastry and cooked properly with a little love and attention and flavour. Give me a decent sausage roll and I can probably take over the world.*

          These little beauts are based on a Jamie Oliver recipe (as most of my “Original” creations are) that he did in his 30 minute meals book. I have used it numerous times and they always come out perfect. The best thing is they take about five minutes to prep, sit happily in the oven for twenty and then are fit to be enjoyed by the masses.

          Use the puff pastry straight from the fridge. If you have it frozen just defrost in the fridge overnight. You can use any sausage you like. I have gone for a pretty good quality Pork, Apple and Sage number that treats me well every hungover Saturday.

1 Sheet of puff pastry

6 large sausages

1 tsp of fennel or cumin seeds

Parmesan Cheese

1 egg

-Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

-Roll out your sheet of puff pastry onto a floured surface (or just leave it on the plastic it came in to avoid making a mess)

-Slice it in half lengthways.

-To the side of each piece of pastry line up your sausages.

-Grind up your fennel/cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar (or just use ground if you have it) and sprinkle a little over each sausage.

-Grate over some (or loads, whatever) of the parmesan cheese.

-Fold each of your long strips over and press the edges together firmly.

-Use the tines of a fork to crimp it together so it doesn’t open when it cooks.

-Next crack your egg into a small bowl and whisk together.

-Coat the sausage rolls in a little of the egg wash using a pastry brush.

-Cut each section in half and each of those halves in thirds. This should give you 12 little sausage roll bites.

-Sprinkle a large baking tray with flour and set your rolls evenly apart on the tray.

-Place them in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until they are golden on top. That will be your best indicator for how cooked they are.

-When they are done, pile them high in a bowl and serve with a bowl of ketchup for dipping. Perfection.

*Well maybe a continent. I’ve played Risk. World domination is hard.


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.