Monday, May 31, 2010

Lazy Eton Mess

Yesterday morning, I was accosted by a pair of 5 year old maniacs, one of whom demanded I paint her nails in a Skittles Manicure style, but with just pink and coral polish.  The other one just wanted to put pink princess stickers all over me... so what had I done to deserve this treatment after just 4 hours sleep?  We had been at Gift Grub on Saturday night in the Grand Canal Theatre & stayed the night in my parents house where my two nieces Lulu and Sheesha, together with S's brother Handsome Man were also having a sleepover.  Little Sis is on hols in Sunny Spain (the cow) so Lulu is on a week's holidays with Nanny & Grandad and loving every minute of it.  I had promised her that she could tickle Uncle Hubs until "he screams like a girl" so they were all highly excited at the thought of a grown up getting tickles!  Himself eventually rose from the dead at about 10.30 and was pounced upon.  Sheesha & Handsome Man knew the drill by heart and began the "all around the garden, looking for lots of TICKLES" routine while Lulu watched in awe.  The Hubs tried to ignore it, but it was no use... they had him bang to rights.   We even did part of Lulu's turn as Gaeilge - it's a bit mad when only one of the nieces & nephews goes to a Gaelscoil as I'm so used to switching between Irish & English when I'm talking to her, that I do it automatically with the other two as well!

We eventually managed to leave the house intact (with the two girls screaming bye bye's out of the sitting room window) and I was in dire need of a disco nap when we got home.  The Hubs only woke me because he was hungry and wanted dinner.  Luckily we had done a quick pitstop in Superquinn earlier so had a feast of Greek-marinated chicken skewers, some leftover tomato & feta salad and some aubergine parmagiana. 

I had bought some strawberries there too so decided to make a lazy version of  Eton Mess for dessert as a tribute to the Pink Princesses.  This is a perfect last-minute dessert which takes seconds to make but looks very impressive.  I always keep M&S meringue nests in the cupboard for emergencies, so combined with the strawberries and low-fat cream, it was ready in the turn of a page from the Sunday Times!

Lazy Eton Mess to serve 4

4 small meringue nests, broken into pieces
1 punnet of strawberries, cleaned & sliced
1/2 carton cream
1 tsp vanilla sugar

Whip the cream and sugar until stiff (if you're using low-fat cream, this takes three times as long to beat as regular cream, so prepare for the wait...)

Mix with the meringue and strawberries and serve in pretty bowls - if you can find them!

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Linguine with Smoked Trout and Peas

As we were leaving the Bord Bia Irish Food Bloggers Event last Thursday, there was a scrum at the back of the room when the big table of foodie freebies was spotted.  We got the chance to sample some of the finest Irish produce and included in my haul was some Goatsbridge Smoked Trout.  I toyed with the idea of giving it to Little Sis and then decided to be very selfish and keep it all for us.

I've made this recipe many times before but always using barbequed salmon, so I knew the trout would work perfectly with the other ingredients.  The original recipe uses dill as the herb, but I never have any so I used a mix of flat parsley and chives.  The beauty of this meal is that it's a one-pot dish, so very little washing up for The Hubs to do! 

To make it a bit more healthy, I've used low fat creme fraiche - I don't find any taste difference.  I also use petit pois rather than peas - they're more tender and sweet and I prefer the taste.  You can completely ignore me and use whatever you like (of course!).  All my recipes are for 2 servings, so increase quantities as necessary to suit your needs...

Linguine with Smoked Trout and Peas

150g dried Linguine
1 packet Goresbridge Smoked Trout (approx. 200g)
3 tbsp Creme Fraiche
2 large handfuls frozen Petit Pois
1 tbsp Flat Parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Chives, snipped
Black Pepper to season

Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted water for 11 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid clumping together.

Flake the trout into bite sized pieces and set aside until needed

Test the pasta after 9 minutes - if there's still a bit of a bite, add the peas and cook for 2-3 minutes until the pasta is ready.  Reserve 3-4 tbsp of the pasta water at this stage

When the pasta and peas are cooked, drain and return to the pot and reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Add the smoked trout, creme fraiche and herbs and stir well.

If the sauce is too thick, use some of the reserved cooking water to thin out to your preferred consistency.

Season with some freshly ground pepper and serve in warm bowls - this does cool very quickly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I only went in for an oilcloth...

I love Ikea and keen eyed readers of my blog have already spotted my very pretty garden table and accessories which I bought there a few years ago - this green oilcloth really brightens up the cheapest and nastiest plastic table underneath, and I have a collection of these pretty cream lanterns - the best friend has a matching collection in stainless steel!

Today I had "occasion" to pass Ikea and I really only needed a new oilcloth for the garden table - last year's abject neglect has faded the green one and a replacement was in order.  I ended up coming home with a huge bag of goodies for the house...  First stop was the oilcloth - sadly the variety of colours available were really poor - black & white or yellow and white.  The yellow was particularly bile-inducing so I opted for the black which you can see below.  According to the website, it's also available in navy, green and light blue, but these were sadly nowhere to be seen (I would LOVE the navy!). I picked up a packet of lemon salt which is actually bright yellow and a set of 365+ spice jars which you can see full of nice things (L-R Lemon Salt, Sea Salt, Cimbru and Greek Seasoning Mix). 

I have the biggest collection of Ikea candles and napkins known to man, so of course I bought more... lots of apple-scented Tindra tealights in both sizes, some more Ronas tealight holders,  a new napkin holder - the last one fell off the top of the fridge & didn't survive..., packs of yet more very funky Dribbla napkins, a laptop support which was badly needed and in use as I type, some new drinking glasses (we started off 9 years ago with 12 and there's less than half that number now, thanks to The Hubs and his knack of banging them off the kitchen tap)  and a new griddle pan which shall be used for the indoor searing of lovely steak!

And how much did this little spree set me back?  Just over €70 - a lot of stuff for not a lot of euros.  I also had lunch in the restaurant and it was gorgeous - stuffed salmon fillet with vegetable cakes (these are divine) and carrots.  The quality of the food is superb and I'd love the recipe for the vegetable cakes...

 I do love value for money!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Maxximum Bargains

I'm lucky enough to have a branch of TK Maxx in the local shopping centre. While it's not the largest, it is perfectly formed and I much prefer the Homewares section to anything else. We've a holiday to France planned at the start of September and our experience of self-catering there is a bit hit and miss, so I tend to bring the essentials with me, like a decent knife, a non-stick frying pan, a teatowel & chopping board.

I also like to bring unbreakable glasses as (a) the ones we normally find in the apartment are teeny - think egg-cup for wine and (b) cost a fortune to replace if you drop them. Over the past few weeks I've been picking up a few bits for the holiday/use in the garden and here's a selection for your viewing delight...

I've bought a whole range of plastic glasses from chunky tumblers to champagne flutes to large beer glasses, there's also a pair of bowls which will suit everything from soup to salads, a huge insulated picnic bag with additional insulated wine carriers (oh yes, that was tailor-made for me!) and two Jamie Oliver cooking utensils for the house - a set of magnetic measuring spoons and a y-shaped peeler.

By the way, that little lot there in the picture came to less than €35... now that's a Maxximum Bargain!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Summer Salads : Tomato, Mozzarella & Fine Bean

As part of my fantastic goody bag from the Irish Food Bloggers event, I was the lucky recipient of a herb plant from Living Flavour.  These guys have the freshest herbs I've ever seen.  I could only choose one from the selection of basil, mint, curled parsley, sage, coriander (eewwwww....) rosemary and thyme, so I went for one that would work with a dinner I had planned for tonight.  I bought a pair of Ribeye Steaks in Aldi on Wednesday, hoping that the rumoured good weather would appear so we could have a barbeque.  At a special price of just €9.99, they are a bargain - and they're part of the Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme so you know exactly what you're getting.

As I'm trying (in vain) to stick to the Weight Watchers plan, I decided to make a herb butter using my Living Flavour thyme and some Connaught Gold low fat butter (half the WW points of the real thing and no difference in taste).  I added some crushed garlic, ground mixed peppercorns and chopped flat parsley, blended it thoroughly and put it in the fridge to chill and allow the flavours to develop.

Salad is a perfect companion to steak and I decided to make a tomato salad with a twist - using a packet of Aldi fine beans to add colour and texture.

Tomato, Mozzarella and Fine Bean Salad

1 packet M&S Santini tomatoes
2 Beef Tomatoes
200g Fine Green Beans
1 ball of Mozzarella 
2 tbsp M&S Sicilian Lemon salad dressing
Small handful basil leaves, shredded

Halve the Santini tomatoes, core and roughly chop the beef tomatoes and place in a large bowl.

Chop the mozzarella into small chunks & add to the tomatoes.

Trim the fine beans, chop into 3cm pieces and briefly cook in salted boiling water in tender.  Rinse in cold water to stop cooking and add to the tomatoes & mozzarella.

Add the salad dressing and basil just before serving.

This was our absolutely gorgeous first dinner of the summer - the Ribeye steak, seared on the barbeque, with the herb butter,  the tomato salad and some new potatoes.

A Simple Stir Fry

I was a very lucky girl last Thursday - I managed to snag a coveted place at the Irish Food Bloggers event organised by Maeve and Klara of Bord Bia and the lovely Donal Skehan.  It was a wonderful day - a gang of enthusiastic food bloggers gathered for a day of great company, fantastic food and invaluable demonstrations on pork, cookery techniques and food styling/photography.  Three of my fellow attendees were also's so it was great to put a name to a (very well groomed) face as well!  Not only did we have an utterly delicious lunch featuring the best Irish pork ever, but we even came away with goodie bags stuffed with incredible produce from some of the best Irish artisan food companies. 

Given that the event was happening in Dublin 2, I left my car in Blackrock and got the bus into town.  It worked like a dream on the way in, but on the way back to collect the car it was very hot and humid and the bus that is meant to arrive every 10 minutes took 40 minutes to show.  I was a sticky mess by the time I got back to the airconditioned comfort of my car - and it was in the middle of rush hour.  Bah.  Consequently I was like a bag of cross cats when I eventually got home and then realised that I had to cook dinner.  I wasn't in the humour for anything elaborate and I had a package of reduced to clear steak pieces from Aldi in my fridge which cost me the princely sum of €1.  That's right... one single euro.  There was only one thing for it... stir fry.  To be honest, I hate peppers with a passion, so if you like them - add them.  In fact, use any vegetable that you like/have.  I was working with what was lying around the fridge & the veggie basket.  This marinade works equally well with pork or chicken so feel free to use your initiative to customise your meal!

Ginger, Garlic & Soy Beef Stirfry

1 tsp Garlic, crushed
1 tsp Ginger, grated
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
350g beef, cut into thin strips
150g Mushrooms, quartered
2 Red Onions, thinly sliced
200g Tenderstem Broccoli, lightly steamed
2 Celery sticks, sliced thinly at an angle
350g beef, cut into thin strips

Mix the first 4 ingredients together and add the beef.  Marinade for at least 20 minutes.

Heat a wok until smoking and add the marinated beef.  Stirfry for 4 minutes.
Add the onions, celery and mushrooms & continue stirfrying for 2 minutes
Add the broccoli and fry for 1 minute.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My love of Chocolate and Zucchini

Chocolate and Zucchini are actually two of my favourite things to eat, therefore I absolutely adore Clotilde's beautifully written blog of that name.  Her photographs of food are so pretty and her writing style is an absolute pleasure to read.

And now, she's even giving her readers the chance to download a gorgeous calendar wallpaper featuring some of her favourite things to eat.  If you do nothing else today, add her to your blogroll and brighten up your laptop with this beautiful image (copyright Clotilde Dusoulier).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Passion for Pork - The Final Countdown

It was a very sad day in our house... we were on the last piece of delicious divine pork courtesy of Bord Bia. As I had been to Romania, France and China on my culinary travels this week, I decided that a fun in the sun destination would be the theme for the last supper and I went with a Greek influence.

I had some brand new Fennel seeds, an unwaxed lemon and plenty of garlic in my kitchen, so I created...

Fennel, Lemon and Garlic Roast Pork

400g Pork Loin
2 tsp Fennel seeds
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp ground pepper
Rind of a lemon
Olive Oil

Using a mortar & pestle (or your Jamie Oliver Flavour Shaker - thanks Mum!), pulverise the fennel, salt and pepper. Add the lemon rind, garlic and just enough olive oil to make a thick paste.

Dry your pork and score the rind. Rub the meat with the fennel mix, pushing well into the rind and marinade for at least an hour.

Roast in a preheated oven at 200c for about an hour and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

I served this with some aubergine, tomato, basil & mozzarella stacks which I baked in the oven, together with small cubes of potato, roasted for about 35 minutes. Again, a "clean plate" dinner!

The pulverised fennel, salt and pepper

The fennel mix with the garlic and lemon zest, waiting for some olive oil

The pork having a little bath in the marinade

The end result... utterly gorgeous and very aromatic

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Passion for Pork - Oriental Style

We had lunch with my MIL and her Canadian rellies today, who are over visiting from Quebec and I was telling them about the lovely pork from Bord Bia and my recipes so far. Because we had a fairly big lunch, I wanted to cook something light for dinner. Pork is perfect for Chinese or Thai dishes and I had some Pak Choi in the fridge that needed to be used, so I though I'd do a Hoisin Pork.

Lovely idea in principle, but when I checked my store cupboard, the Hoisin sauce was nowhere to be seen... so it was time for a substitution.

Sticky Stirfried Pork with Pak Choi

3 tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce (I used M&S Sweet Chili & Mango sauce as I rather like it)

Other Ingredients
350g lean pork
1 onion, thinly sliced
150g mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 heads of Pak Choi, sliced on the diagonal into 2cm pieces
2 Spring Onions, shredded
Lime wedges

Slice the pork into thin strips and soak in the marinade for at least 20 minutes (overnight is great if you can plan ahead).
Prepare all of your veggies and have them ready to go.
Heat a wok until smoking hot, add a drop of oil/spray oil and add the pork. Cook until almost white.
Add the onions & mushrooms and stirfry for 2 minutes
Add the Pak Choi and cook until wilted.
Sprinkle the Spring Onions over the stirfry and serve with noodles or rice and the wedge of lime.
It is very light and fragrant, and relatively healthy... if you're in WW, I'd give this about 9 points max!

The Pork getting ready for its marinade bath

My very organised Mise en Place!

The finished dish

Friday, May 14, 2010

Passion for Pork - Part Deux

Tonight I used some more delicious pork from Bord Bia to create a French/Flemish themed dish. It's very loosely interpreted from the Ballymaloe Cookery Course book and I made a few changes to suit a 2-person dish.

Carbonnade of Pork with Vegetables

400g pork fillet (or trimmed pork loin), sliced into 7mm slices
2 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
2 onions, chopped
250g mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 glass white wine
1 Knorr Stockpot Chicken pot
150ml boiling water
100ml cream (I used light cream)
Large handful chopped flat parsley
Good squeeze of lemon juice
Seasoning (if necessary)

I used 2 cooking utensils for this - my Le Creuset casserole and my Tefal 32cm frying pan.
Heat the casserole, add 1 tbsp of the olive oil and brown the pork slices - in batches if necessary. When cooked, remove & keep to one side.

Fry the onions gently in the casserole until golden & soft (they will take on the colour that the pork left behind... it only adds to the flavour!). This takes about 15 mins. Then add the carrots & continue cooking for 5 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, heat the remaining oil & butter in the frying pan and tip in the mushrooms. Cook until browned and then add the pork. Turn off the heat.

Add the wine to the onion and carrot mix & deglaze the casserole. Bring to the boil and reduce until syrupy. Add the stockpot and water and return to the boil. Reduce the sauce again until thick. Return the pork & mushrooms to the casserole.

Add the cream, bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the sauce has rethickened. Taste for seasoning - I find that none is needed if you use the Stockpots.

Add the parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice - taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with steamed green veggies and some plain mash to soak up all of that beautiful sauce.

This was a fantastic dish - very simple to make once you did all your prep work and it tasted incredible. The pork was beautifully tender and the verdict from The Hubs was "bloody gorgeous".

The 4 main ingredients waiting for their turn in the pot!

The browned pork and mushrooms waiting to return to the pot

The onion & carrot mix with the stock reducing down to make a thick sauce

The finished creation - the lemon juice & parsley were added at this point

Passion for Pork - Part 1

Dear Bord Bia, I love you longtime. Why? Because the lovely Klara & Maeve sent me a fantastic pork loin to cook...

When I opened the coolbag, it looked like this - all prettily packaged in paper and string

Unwrapping it revealed a vacumn-packed loin of fabulous pork which I promptly divided into 4, to make 4 fantastic meals for myself and The Hubs

Recipe 1
Roast Loin of Pork with a Savory, Garlic and Olive Oil Marinade
My sister's boyfriend Jules gave me a pack of what we all thought was dried Romanian Thyme called Cimbru. Further googling revealed that it was actually dried Savory and was the perfect companion for pork. So, a tablespoon of this was mixed with 2 crushed cloves of garlic, some sea salt, ground mixed peppercorns from my precious French stash and some olive oil. The pork went in for a little soak (about 90 minutes, getting turned every half hour) to ensure it absorbed all of the flavours. I then roasted it for about 60 minutes at 200c.

A few weeks ago, I picked up the new Jamie Oliver cookbook and was flicking through it yesterday for ideas. I came across a recipe for Courgette Gratin in the French section... something I've actually never eaten. There was a glut of courgettes in the fridge due to my haphazard shopping/eating patterns so this was perfect.

I adapted the recipe to feed 2 as a complete side dish and here's how it goes - note that I was missing some of Jamie's ingredients, so some impromptu substitutions were made... *

2 onions, very finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 courgettes, finely sliced
100g long grain rice* (should have been basmati)
1 Knorr Chicken Stockpot container
250 ml boiling water
1/2 tub Philadelphia Extra Light* (should have been cheddar or gruyere)
Large handful freshly grated Parmesan* (should have been cheddar or gruyere)

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onions. Cook for about 20 mins until very soft & starting to get sticky.
Add the rice & courgettes and give them a good stir, then add the stock and rice - let it simmer away until it's oozy.
Stir the cheese into the mixture until well combined and then put into a gratin dish.
Pour the mixure into the gratin dish, making sure the courgettes are on top. Sprinkle the parmesan over the courgettes and bake for 40 minutes. This is the pre-oven version!

I roasted the pork for about an hour, using a meat thermometer to check that it was cooked. Then it had a good snooze for 15 minutes to let it rest properly.

It carved like a dream. The Hubs was seriously impressed both by the marinade and the quality of the pork... and is looking forward to a Porktastic weekend!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm Rich

Sadly, not me. This was the excited squeal of my almost 5-year old niece Lulu in Dundrum yesterday after I emptied the change from my bag into her little hand. It's her 5th birthday next Wednesday and after consultation with her Mum (aka Little Sis), it was decided that she needed new shoes as her present. So I arranged a Girls Nadventure Day just for the two of us and called to the house to collect her.

The door was opened by a curly haired child still in her pyjamas who told me that she wasn't going anywhere. The face on her would have soured milk from 100 yards and my heart sank. I could have stayed in my own jammies at home with The Hubs who had taken a day off. So stroppy knickers proceeded to have an epic meltdown and her Mum threatened her with the cancellation of her birthday party if she didn't cop on and get dressed. After some very tense negotiations and rather a few high-pitched screams (from both sides), a smiling child appeared into the kitchen, dressed for a day of shopping. I had also promised her that I would let her have the pick of my nail polish for a manicure, so I brought the box in from the car, opened it and she nearly fell off the chair with delight. Amazingly, she didn't opt for the bright pinks and purples - her choice was a sparkly purple/navy called OPI Ink, so I promised we'd do that when we got back.

We arrived at Dundrum and Lulu showed me the 10c coin she had in her pocket for shopping, so I rummaged through my bag and gave her all my change - she ended up with about €3.50 and kept shouting "I'm Rich" I nearly fell over laughing at her! We started our day in Boots because they had just started a Diet Coke/Nails Inc promo which I heard about thanks to the totes wonderful blog It wasn't on the floor, but a quick enquiry produced two bottles - Paris and New York, which also happen to be my two favourite cities. Lulu gave them her seal of approval - ooh they're GORGEOUS. Ahem, they're mine and not yours, little fluffy head. Step away from the bag. She told me that she was the strongest girl ever and carried the bag back to the car for me - it also contained 4 bottles of Diet Coke, so this was no mean feat!

Next stop was M&S to buy Squishy Piggies (Percy Pig jellies) which I had promised her earlier on. We did a food shop to ensure that Uncle Hubs wouldn't starve and she was very impressed by his love for broccoli and baby oranges. Eventually we found the squishy pigs and a bag of Colin Caterpillars also managed to fall into the trolley... how bizarre! We looked at the kids shoes but they were all denounced as being yucky, so we dropped the shopping back to the car, liberated the bag of Squishy Pigs and went in search of new shoes.

We went to Next and there was a whole wall of pink shoes awaiting us. After some horsetrading, and some "pinchy" shoes that were too small, Lulu chose a pair of pink shoes with a rabbit on the front - utterly gorgeous, but they were even nicer in blue. Unfortunately, pink was the victor in battle of the shoes. At this stage, it was time for lunch, so we headed over to The Counter for burgers. Lulu is not a fan of burgers so she chose the toasted cheese sandwich. We did some advanced colouring in with the crayons, making sure that our colours all clashed. I was told that salt is naughty but pepper on chips is lovely and hot (it was!) She refused to try my turkey burger and only ate her sandwich when she saw a toddler of the same name devour a baby burger, fries and a milkshake - she refused to be beaten by a baby!

We decided that a birthday girl needs a birthday cake, so we wandered into Tesco to pick one out. She opted for a white one with coloured stars - and when she discovered there was jam in the middle, she squealed with delight and told the nice lady at the checkout that she absolutely loved jam. Finally, we went to Penneys where I wanted to pick up a new sunhat for myself. She told me I looked ridiculous in all of them and then chose a big floppy gold number for me, pronouncing it beautiful. No point in arguing with her really. For her, we bought some green nail polish - one normal, one with glitter, a new pair of runners with coloured stars all over them and a very funky blue t-shirt. She was absolutely delighted with all her birthday gifts and to be honest they were all very reasonable, so I didn't spoil her too much (anyway I'm her Godmother, so I'm entitled to!!)

We got home to show Mum everything and then the nails were done. She sat still through base coat, two coats of colour and a Seche Vite topcoat and was thrilled with her new nails. God knows what her Dad will say when he sees the state of her...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lemon Parmesan Chicken

I've been utterly traumatised over the past 24 hours or so. Yesterday morning, I decided to make a batch of Banana Muffins and they went completely wrong in the oven. I thought it was because I tried to use low fat butter instead of the regular stuff, so just fired them in the bin and cursed a lot. Last night, I put a piece of bacon into the oven to roast for dinner. 40 minutes later, I went to throw in the Cauliflower Cheese and the damn meat was still snorting. PANIC!!! I had to switch to emergency Pasta and Meatballs thawed out in the microwave instead and try to find a repairman. We certainly don't have the spare dosh for a new oven, especially after the washing machine dying on us a few weeks ago, so I left a begging message on his answering machine.

Luckily, he called this afternoon, diagnosed the Zanussi as suffering from a severe case of element failure and replaced it. I celebrated by cooking that piece of bacon for tomorrow night's dinner in the oven and making yummy Lemon Parmesan Chicken on the hob.

Lemon Parmesan Chicken
I start with two chicken breasts which I trim and beat the crap out of with a rolling pin. Wrap them in baking parchment first to avoid meat splatter around your kitchen - they need to be about 3/4 of a centimetre thick.

Then put 2 cups of fresh breadcrumbs into a bowl, add the grated zest of a lemon, a small handful of grated Parmesan, some salt and pepper, and some flatleaf parsley - mix it all together. Beat a small egg and pour onto a shallow plate - dip the chicken in the egg and then coat with the breadcrumb mix. Heat a large frying pan with about a 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry the chicken for about 5 minutes on either side until golden brown and crunchy.

Drain briefly on some kitchen paper & squeeze some of the de-zested lemon over it. Serve with whatever floats your boat. Tonight it was McCains Rustic Oven Chips (a fave of The Hubs) and some green beans tossed in anchovy garlic butter.

Apologies for the lack of pictures, but it was basically inhaled!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Baked Halibut with Potato, Courgette & Tomato

The other night I was stumped for a dinner idea - I was in too much pain to go to the supermarket so I went on a trawl of the chest freezer in the shed for inspiration. I found a package of frozen Halibut which I picked up for €1.50 in the reduced to clear bin in Aldi and made a snap decision... it was going to be a fishy dishy tonight.

I laid out some baking parchment on my trusty baking tray, found my mandolin in the cupboard and ran some new potatoes through it. I seasoned the paper with salt & pepper and then layered the potatoes on top in the manner of fish scales

Then, I found a deformed courgette in the fridge which I thinly sliced and laid on top of the potatoes, re-seasoned and placed the halibut on top.

Then I went looking for some white wine to add to the mix, realised there was none open and changed the plan to include some Cool Tomato Salsa from Tesco - I love this stuff... there's no chili & very little coriander in it, so it's just tomatoey and yummy. Anyway, a few tablespoons got fired on top, the package was sealed, wrapped in foil and baked for 25 minutes at 200c

While the fish was baking away, I steamed some green beans and made some herby couscous to soak up all the juices. This is the finished dish. It didn't stay that way for long...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Little Steps

Well, I managed to get home from hospital on Wednesday night, a lot earlier than the good doctors & nurses would have like, but I couldn't face another night of shared bathrooms and uncomfortable beds. The Hubs drove very slowly over the millions of speed ramps which litter the area in which we live (ouch) and helped me up the stairs to bed, where I stayed until the next morning.

Then I had the bright idea of getting up, going to WW, collecting my government riches in the Post Office and getting some painkillers, as the hospital had basically given me a prescription for Junior Aspirin. Given what they had done to me the day before, that wouldn't even touch the sides... so a quick call to my GP resulted in a new supply of high-quality drugs for moi. Off I went : up 2lbs in WW which was hardly surprising seeing as I was full of gas from the op. Collected my riches and didn't purchase a winning lotto ticket. Went to the chemist for my fix where the nice Spanish pharmacist gave out to me for being out of bed - she knew what happened during the op... and finally a wander around the supermarket as the cupboards were bare. Made it home by lunchtime absolutely knackered & retired to bed for the afternoon.

Friday was a stay in bed day - I had all the supplies necessary for this mission : remote controls x 3 (tv, Sky+ and media hard drive). Phones x 2 (landline and mobile). Books & magazines. Laptop. Water and painkillers. Then I got numb bum - no matter what way I sat up or lay down, I wasn't comfy. I reckon that during the op, they threw me around the table like a rag doll in advanced yoga positions and my poor legs & hips were only just realising how traumatised they were! I managed to cook dinner which took an awful lot longer than usual thanks to my state of blissed-out painkiller stupor.

Yesterday I was like a bag of hoors. I was hurting, I was grumpy and you couldn't even look sideways at me without me wanting to beat the crap out of you with a shovel. The Hubs cleaned the house from top to bottom while I went for a snooze on the couch- mainly to avoid watching Leinster getting a hiding from Toulouse. To compensate for my extreme narkiness, I made dinner and a few drinks took care of the sleeplessness issue! I just was on the phone to Little Sis describing my litany of pain and she reckons they bent me in half backwards to achieve what they did in theatre... eewwww. I haz lots of hurt today.