Jamon experience

My recent trip to Barcelona made me realise just how much food is part of the spanish culture. It’s almost as if the day resolves around meal time and each meal is as important as the next! Every second building is a cafe/restaurant. One of the most important exports of Spain and probably what they are most proud of is Jamon or ham as its known to us. 

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We were lucky enough to get private lesson and tasting on the different types of Spanish jamon (with two free glasses of bubbly thrown in 🙂 ). It was so interesting to learn the whole process and made me appreciate the price of Iberico ham as so much time and effort goes into each piece of ham, from feeding the pigs so they gain an exact weight, the long curing stages to the perfect carving of the leg once it is ready.

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Black iberian pigs are used to produce the special and most expensive Iberico ham while white pigs are used to produce the cheaper serrano ham. The iberian pigs are fed on acorns and its the oils from these acorns which gives the Iberico ham its superior taste.

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Other cured hams you may be familiar with are parma and prosciutto. These are both Italian hams. If you’ve never tried cured hams give it a go. Apparently its also much healthier and better for your heart compared to the ham we eat on a daily basis. Serrano ham is lovely and also cheap but if you wanted to splash out look for Iberico Bellota which is the best quality. My favourite is Guijuelo Bellota.

xxx

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Back to Basics

For quick lunch/dinner it’s always handy to have some chicken in the fridge! To liven up my chicken I add the following, leave it for 20 mins and it’s ready for grilling. This is a pretty basic marinade but so simple and tasty and you have the foundations for a great sandwhich, salad or pasta dish in minutes!

Butterfly or thinly slice the chicken breast. Place in a bowl with:

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4 tblsp Olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

2cloves garlic roughly chopped

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp basil

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp balsamic

Sea salt and black pepper
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I used these pieces to make a grillled chicken sandwhich with curry aioli and avacdao but as its so basic you can use it for anything.

Enjoy, xxx

Breakfast in the City…

As weird as it sounds my favorite time to eat out is breakfast time! I love the smell of brewing coffee and a full display of freshly baked pastries. Being a chef most of your days off are during the week so its great fun sitting and relaxing over a long breakfast while watching the hustle and bustle of the Monday to Friday-ers outside! Cork has so many places that do a great breakfast and in particular great coffee but here is a list of my top 5 favorite places to have breakfast in Cork (in no particular order):

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1) The Farmgate in the English market

I love everything about the English market in Cork and sometimes feel we forget how lucky we are to have such a landmark in the city. I’ve yet to find somewhere like the English market in London. The Farmgate upstairs in the market is a fab place to sit and people watch and they do a great breakfast with fast efficient service. I particularly love ordering their porridge they serve with Cappoquin honey. So warming on these cold mornings.

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2) Liberty Grill, Washington St.

This place is definitely well known as a hot breakfast spot by now as there is often Q’s out the door especially on weekends. they have an extensive menu and offer three different specials which are always interesting. The east coast breakfast is a personal favorite which is french toast with bacon and includes a pot of coffee and juice of your choice for ten euro.

3) Crawford gallery cafe

The cafe at the back of the crawford gallery is situated in a big, bright airy room. They offer a concise menu and always use great quality ingredients. The eggs benedict here are particularly great.

4) Scoozi

The people of Cork love to flock to scoozi whether it be for breakfast lunch are dinner. They offer a great value for money breakfast with generous portions and is always busy with a good atmosphere even in the early morning. Their homemade breads are really good toasted with lashings of butter and jam.

5) Italee, Oliver Plunkett st.

This is ideal for a continental breakfast. They do amazing coffee in here and you get a real feel for Italy with all Italian staff. They also offer a hot egg breakfast but I love coming here for a coffee and pastry.

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There are loads more places both in and outside the City but theses are 5 in the City centre that I enjoy for food, service and atmosphere.

Kate, xxx

Sunday Faves….

Sunday Brunch has always been my favourite meal time! Let’s just say I’m not the early bird on weekends so love a good brunch to start my Sunday!

I will post a few brunch ideas everyone and again but gonna start off with my all time fave! Pillowy French toast! I love it with bacon and lots of maple syrup and at the moment- with it being berry season- I love it with some strawberries and creme fraiche. There’s a million different ways to serve this so get creative 🙂

What you need:

Brioche bread (rolls or slices)
4eggs
2tblsp milk
1 heaped tblsp sugar
1tsp cinamon

1pinch salt

Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl. Slice the brioche rolls in half. Heat some butter in a pan. Dip the bread in the mix insuring it gets a good coating and absorbs some of the mix!

Once the butter begins to bubble place the bread in the pan. Allow to cook on each side for about 2 mins or until you have a nice golden brown. Serve and enjoy xxx.

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All you need is love…. and chocolate!

Seeing as valentines day is looming here are two simple recipes of homemade treats to make for your loved one! If you plan on treating that special someone to a home cooked dinner on valentines these will be sure to get you some brownie points. Have a great night 🙂 xxx

Heart shape short bread:

6oz Flour

4oz Butter

2oz Sugar

Variations:

Icing sugar
Fresh berries
Whipping cream
Good quality chocolate

Pre heat the oven to 180 C

In a bowl beat the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour and combine to form a dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and roll it out until it’s quite thin. This can be done on parchment paper if you are finding it tricky. Using a heart shaped cutter cut out the biscuits and place them on a parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 10 mins or until light golden brown!

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Meanwhile melt the choc and whip the cream. Once the cookies are cool dip half in the melted choc and set on a silicone sheet to harden. Serve with freshly whipped cream and berries.

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2) Chocolate truffles
300g Choc
300g double Cream
50g butter

Cocoa powder for dusting

Heat the cream and the butter until butter is melted and it reaches a close to scalding temp. Chop the chocolate into chunks and place in a bowl. Pour the cream mix over it and stir until all the choc has melted and combined with the cream. Pour into a parchment lined tray and allow to set in the fridge for a couple of hours.Cut into squares and Toss in Cocoa powder or any other flavours like chopped nuts, candied ginger, coconut or orange peel.

Have a great weekend, xx

Chilli Nights

Seeing as it’s so wet and miserable outside here’s a nice dinner idea that will warm you right up. I like to serve mine on a bed of chinese leaf which adds a bit of fresh crunch and a large helping of homemade guacamole. I also grill off some tortilla wraps which you can use to soak up all the lovely sauce. It looks like a long list of ingredients but most stuff you’ll be likely to already have in your kitchen.

What you need:

(serves 6)

2lb or 1Kg mince steak

100g diced pancetta or bacon

2 white onions diced

1 celery heart sliced

4 clove garlic crushed

1/2 fresh chilli diced depending on level of intensity

Juice of one lime

1 tsp ground cumin, coriander, oregano sweet paprika

2 bay leaves

2tblsp chilli powder (chipotle gives a nice smoky dimension)

2tblsp flour

2 tblsp tomato puree

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

450ml beef stock

250ml red wine

400g can of kidney beans

and the best part…..100g 70% chocolate!!

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What to do:

In a large saucepan heat some olive oil and begin by browning off the mince. Transfer to a sieve and strain the juice leaving some of the juices behind in the pan. Add the diced bacon pieces to the now empty pan and allow to get crispy. Now add the onion, celery and chilli and allow to cook for two mins before adding the garlic and lime juice. continue to cook over a medium heat stirring constantly.

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Once the onions have softened return the mince to the pan and stir everything together. Now add the flour and cook for a further 2 mins to cook out the flour. Add the cumin, coriander, oregano, chilli powder, paprika and bay leaves and again cook for a further two mins stirring constantly. Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, stock and red wine, stir and bring to a slight boil. Once it begins to boil reduce the heat to low. Add the chocolate and stir to melt it through. This changes the chilli to a rich earthy colour.

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Allow the chilli to cook uncovered for approx one and a half hours or until the sauce has reduced. Stir every now and again to avoid sticking. Add the canned kidney beans ten minutes before serving.

Cut some tortilla wraps into triangles and grill off or serve with rice. Enjoy xxx

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Roasted veg and farro salad

This is a real earthy and warming dish! It’s so simple to make and lovely served warm with a meaty white fish allowing you to have an impressive looking meal without the hassle. Try keep some left overs as this is lovely, nutritious and quite filling the next day on it’s own as a salad.

What you need:

2 bulb fennel

4 medium sized carrots

I bulb garlic

1 large red onion

1 tablesp honey

2 cups farro

5 cups boiling water and stock

Good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Sea salt

What to do:

Preheat the over to 180 Bring a pot of water to the boil with stock (I used water and added a white onion quartered, a roughly chopped carrot and some parsley stalks). Once boiling add the farro and boil for approx 20 mins or until it’s soft but still holds a bite.

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In the meantime prep the veg. Peel and roughly chop the carrots and place in a roasting tray with olive oil and salt. Roast these for approx 5-10 mins before adding the roughly chopped fennel, red onion and garlic bulb cut in half. At this point add a little more salt, oil and the tablesp of honey and Toss everything together before returning to the oven.

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Roast for a further 15-20 mins until the veg is soft but holds a bite and slightly caramelised in colour. Once the farro is cooked strain and season with good olive oil and sea salt. Transfer to a serving plate. Dress the roasted veg using some good quality balsamic (I’m using my favourite, saprossa). Transfer to the serving plate with the farro. Serve as a salad or with pan fried white fish…enjoy xx 

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Ribbon salad

This salad has loads to offer… Taste, colour, texture, nutrition! I normally have an adversity to fruit in my salad but mango is an exception to my rule! I love a bit of fresh (slightly) under ripe mango in my salad for a bitter sweet zing and it looks great too! This salad is eating with your eyes at it’s best! And above all it’s so simple to prep!

What u need…

1 green zucchini
1 mango
2 carrots (use heritage carrots for more colour)
Walnuts
Juice and zest of lemon
Good quality Olive oil
Sea salt
Chopped parsley

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Heat the oven to 180 degrees and toast the walnuts. Cut the zuchinni in half. Using a mandolin/peeler thinly slice the Zucchini,Carrot and Mango into long strips! In a bowl juice the lemon and grate in the zest. Add the olive oil and salt and some chopped parsley. Toss the ingredients in the dressing and carefully place on a plate insuring each portion will get a bit of everything! Sprinkle on the toasted walnuts for extra texture. Finish with another sprinkle of chopped parsley

Enjoy xxx

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Not your average food court…

When you think food court u think of a busy corner of a shopping centre walled with fast food chains. That’s at least what I thought until I stumbled across kingly court of Carnaby street. This is definitely not your average food court!

Firstly Carnaby street is probably one of the coolest streets I’ve come across if it’s even possible for a street to be cool?! :-/ it’s lined with trendy shops and restaurants and has a calming, laid back affect even though it’s always busy and nestled in between oxford and regent street right in the heart of London. Kingly court is a narrow, easy to miss lane way off Carnaby street which opens out into a three story court yard full of amazing cafés and restaurants.

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I’ve been a few times now on different nights of the week and it always has such a good buzz! There’s a huge selection of foods from seafood, ramen, wood fire pizzas and the on trend Peruvian food at señor ceviche! Friday nights are significantly busier and most of the restaurants have queues from around 8 onwards but you’ll always pick up something! There’s combined out door seating downstairs but all the restaurants have tables inside too.

Stax, one of the restaurants, offers ultimate comfort food! It’s Deep South inspired menu includes Po boy and the amazing Cajun onion blossom… Definitely worth checking out if you’re feeling really hungry!

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Always a really cool atmosphere whether your a foodie, visiting London or just hungry and want a casual, fun place to eat i’d def recommend Kingly Court.

Kate, xxx