Tag Archives: Quick

A Seven Minute Lunch for a day on the go.

When you are working the antisocial hours of an average kitchen you really have to jump on any free days you have. There isn’t an awful lot of time for going to the bank or getting your laundry done or even having a quiet pint and a read in the local cruiser, so your days off tend to be a mad flurry of chores, errands and quick catchups with people you really should spend more time with. I had one such day earlier this week.
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During my early morning shop I came across this new pasta I had never seen before called Tripoline. It’s somewhere between linguine and pappardelle with one edge crinkled up. Very exciting looking. I had an idea for just a quick plate of pasta before heading back out for the afternoon. Cooking with pasta is something that I really enjoy but don’t get to do often enough. There’s something pretty challenging in putting on the pasta and knowing that in seven minutes you have to have a sauce or something ready to go with it.
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250g Tripoline Pasta
2 Slices of Stale Bread
1 Tsp Dried Herbs
100ml Olive Oil
3 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
3 Rashers of Smoked Bacon
1 Lemon
1 Small Bunch of Parsley

-Get a large pot of water boiling and a large frying pan onto a high heat.
-First we are going to make pangritata, a crispy breadcrumb topping that really rocks with this pasta. Tear up the two slices of bread into chunks and blitz in a food processor with a little olive oil and some dried herbs. Whatever ones you fancy. I used oregano here.
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-When your water is boiling, pop in the pasta and put on the lid. Seven minutes on the clock.
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-Pour the breadcrumbs from the processor into the hot pan and toast until golden. This should take two minutes. Five minutes left.
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-Set aside onto a piece of kitchen paper or tea towel.
-Into the empty pan you want to add the 100ml of olive oil.
-Peel and finely slice up the garlic.
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-Add this to the hot oil, it will start to bubble and colour.
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-Add in the chilli flakes after about thirty seconds.
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-While the chillies cook, slice up the bacon and add it in to the pan.
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-Cook these up for about two minutes.
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-At this stage your pasta should be perfectly al dente. Soft and tender but still with a little bite.
-Lift it out of the boiling water and straight into the pan. The pasta is going to hit that oil that has been infused with garlic and chilli and smoky bacon and it will mingle its own cooking liquor to make a mind blowingly good sauce.
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-Mix up the pasta with the oil really well and juice in the lemon.
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-Chop up the parsley and add it to the pan.
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-Serve immediately with lashings of the pangritata on top. From start to finish in well under fifteen minutes. Can’t go wrong.
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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.
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-Take one long piece of wide tin foil and double it over so you parcel is good and thick.
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-Place a few of the sliced leeks and lemon slices in the middle of your foil along with a little coriander and thyme.
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-Now place the Mackerel on top.
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-Stuff the Mackerel with more of the leeks, lemon and the herbs.
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-Cover the fish with any remaining stuffing and season well with salt, pepper and a little olive oil.
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-Now wrap the fish by folding one of the long sides of the tin foil over the other and sealing it tightly.
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-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.
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-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.
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-Wrap up that end tightly so you are left with a completely sealed, tin foil parcel of goodness.
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-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.
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-When it comes out of the oven pierce the foil and savour the smell and the steam. This is a glorious thing to eat.
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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.

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.

Icing

-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

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.

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.