Jan 28, 2011

Orange Milk Chocolate Truffles

Oh my goodness these are so insanely good. Prepare yourself and make double quantities, you'll probably eat half of them as you make them!

Makes 25-30 depending on how big you make them


100ml double cream
200g milk chocolate, broken into small pieces (get as high a cocoa content as you can: 34-38%)
1tsp orange essence
icing sugar, for rolling

  1. Bring the cream just to the boil in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it's fully melted, then add the orange essence.
  2. Cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours.
  3. Scoop out small teaspoons of the mixture and roll into small walnut-sized balls with your hands, then roll in the icing sugar.
  4. Keep chilled until serving (or you can freeze them at this point, they will keep this way for 2-3 weeks, if you can stop yourself from eating them!)

    Jan 11, 2011

    La Bigoudenne Restaurant, Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland

    We went out to this restaurant to celebrate my Mother's birthday whilst she was visiting from Spain. The starters we had were a dish of crab, smoked chicken and ham (amazing!) and an apple and parsnip tartin which was magnificent. Our main courses were a striploin steak, duck breast and pheasant. The pheasant and duck were superb but the steak was overcooked and very fatty and full of gristle.

    When the waitress approached the table and asked how our food was she was informed by the person eating the steak that it wasn't up to the expected standard but that he would eat it nevertheless. About 5 to 6 minutes later the chef burst out of the kitchen carrying a vacuum-packed tray of meat which he slammed down on our table and started to shout at the gentleman having the steak that this was the piece that his steak had come from and that he knew 'nothing' about his food. He then stormed back into the kitchen without allowing anyone to argue their point with him at all. At this stage everyone in the (very small) restaurant was staring at our table. Might I add that the gentleman who was eating the steak had trained and worked in a butchers for 7 years so would be quite knowledgeable when it comes to his steaks!

    Needless to say we ate the rest of our meals in shock, changed our dessert order to something that could be consumed faster and left as soon as we could (being charged full price in spite of everything might I add!). My Mother's birthday was pretty much ruined at this stage.

    The food in La Bigoudenne is top-notch for the most part, we obviously just got a dodgy steak but it would have taken nothing for the chef to either A: stay in his kitchen and say nothing or B: come out and apologise but his temper tantrum left an awful lot to be desired. We will be telling everyone we know about this experience...

    Jan 4, 2011

    Roast bread

    Now, this is something that is a Krismas morning tradition in my family (and my other half thinks is the most disgusting thing he's ever heard) but I learned the other day that it's possible to do with any roast meat. I will be much fatter by the end of this year so...


    Brown soda bread
    Leftover meat jelly


    1. Have a lovely roast dinner.
    2. Having collected the leftover roasting juices of your dinner leave them in a bowl in the fridge overnight.
    3. Next morning you will see that they have separated into a fatty top layer and jelly bottom layer. Scrape off the fat layer and bin it (or keep it for making roast potatoes!).
    4. Slice up your soda bread, not too thick, not too thin.
    5. Put a frying pan over a med-high heat.
    6. Put a large tbsp (or 2!) of your meat jelly onto a slice of soda bread and place in the frying pan. Rub the bread around in the liquid the jelly turns into, flip it over a few times, and generally allow it to soak up all those yummy meat juices and get crispy on the outside.
    7. Eat. You will be astonished at how good it is. No, it's not healthy but hey, we all need treats and pick-me-up's sometimes! :-)

    Butter-roasted saffron chicken

    This is from Annie Bell's 'The Country Cook' which has loads more delicious recipes in it. You can find it by clicking the link on the left - it's definitely worth investing in!

    I doubled the quantities as I needed to feed 5 hungry adults and the supermarket had no big chickens, but I'm giving you Ms. Bell's original recipe. Gorgeous moist chicken meat, just lovely!

    Serves 6 (according to the book, 4 according to me!)


    A good pinch of ground saffron
    1 tbsp thyme leaves
    Sea salt
    75g unsalted butter, softened
    1x2kg chicken
    Juice of 1 lemon
    Cayenne pepper


    1. Preheat your oven to 220C/420F/Gas Mark 7.
    2. Blend the ground saffron, thyme and a little salt with 50g of the butter. Starting at the neck end of the chicken, slip your fingers beneath the skin to loosen it either side of the breastbone. Spread the butter mix over the breast meat and pat the skin back into place.
    3. Place the chicken in a roasting dish and spread with the remaining butter, pour over the lemon juice, season with salt and dust with the cayenne pepper.
    4. Roast for about an hour, without basting, then transfer it to a plate, tipping any juices inside the chicken back into the roasting tray.
    5. Pour the roasting juices into a bowl or jug and leave the chicken rest for 20 minutes.
    6. Serve hot or cold, with the buttery juices spooned over for those who like them (I didn't do this, go here to see why!)

    Boozy Leeks

    Great vegetable accompaniment to most dinners, my first time making leeks as a side dish in their own right and they went down a storm with everyone!

    Serves: 4-6 as a side dish


    2 leeks, washed and trimmed
    Sprig of thyme
    Half pint of chicken or vegetable stock
    Knob of butter


    1. Chop leeks into half inch pieces through the white and light green sections, chop finely in the dark green part of the leaves.
    2. Put chopped leeks, stock, dash of sherry and thyme into saucepan and bring to the boil.
    3. Boil until leeks are tender.
    4. Drain, then stir through knob of butter until melted.
    5. Serve! Simples!

    Jan 1, 2011

    Quick-roast chicken for two

    So I was flicking through a food magazine today and I saw a recipe that sounded lovely for dinner tonight, but then I read the ingredients and the list became "he doesn't eat that, he doesn't eat that, or that. Hmm, it's not really very winter seasony either. Hmm."
    So I popped to the supermarket for the chicken breasts (though mine are part-boned, skin on thankyouverymuch!) and mooched around the kitchen until I'd thrown this together. I've called it a quick-roast as it's done in about an hour (less if you use skinless, boneless chicken breasts) compared to an entire roast chicken! The quantities are so easily bumped up to feed more than two, having made this once I'll now be making it again, and again, and it'll be on some of our dinner party menus for sure!
    On a side note, I've used marjoram as it's a lovely light herb that goes delightfully well with chicken. I know it's not a common herb these days (not trendy enough I guess) but it's so suitable here, and sets off the vegetables perfectly too. As a member of the mint family it has a lovely sweet, delicate flavour, and works so well with roasts. If you can't find it feel free to use sage or rosemary, though they'll be much more robust so go easy with them.

    Serves 2 but easily changed to feed more


    2 carrots, quartered lengthways and cut into large chunks
    2 parsnips, quartered lengthways and cut into large chunks
    1 white onion, roughly chopped
    4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
    Large pinch of thyme
    Large pinch of marjoram
    Rapeseed oil
    2 chicken breasts, part-boned, skin on
    About half a cup of chicken stock and a dash of white wine or sherry


    1. Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6
    2. Peel and chop your potatoes, carrots, parsnips and onion.
    3. Oil a suitably sized roasting dish and add your vegetables. Give them a good roll around in the oil and then sprinkle over your chosen herbs.
    4. Pop the vegetables in the middle of your oven for 30-35 minutes.
    5. When your veggies are about 20 mins in put a frying pan over a high heat and add a little oil. Fry your chicken breasts until golden brown and starting to crisp on the outside.
    6. Add the seared chicken breasts to the vegetables in the roasting dish (skin side up so it stays crispy) and place back in the oven.
    7. Again, after about 20 minutes take the roasting dish out of the oven and drizzle the half cup of stock and sherry over everything. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
    8. Remove from the oven and dish up!
    Now, you'll have to excuse the quality of the photo, I was dying to get eating so just grabbed a quick shot on my iPhone, but you get the idea!