There's no better time to settle into some creative cooking than in the run up to the party season. It's no secret that I adore this time of year and one of my favourite culinary hobbies is dreaming up little morsels of heaven to delight guests with. By now I have a few signature recipes which many of my family and friends look forward to when they come for drinks. Canapés don’t have to be difficult but they do give you an opportunity to showcase your culinary talents and impress your friends. Best of all, tasty bites are a great way to set any occasion off on a fabulous note!
Try these 3 signature canapés that are true crowd pleasers. Remember, preparation is the key, but there is still lots of scope for creativity. You can store canape bases and fillings in an airtight container until ready to use. Always buy plenty of extra fresh herbs for freshness. Contrast and colourful garnishes make finger food look so appetising. Once you...
When the weather gets a bit chillier, I pull out my folder of comforting midweek meals and this Fish curry is always popular with the family. Fish can be very expensive, but if you keep an eye on the blackboard at any good fish counter, you can pick up some fantastic deals on white fish. For instance, you may notice Cod might be priced very high, while the Hake or Haddock offers a more economical alternative, with no compromise on the tastiness of a meal. This fish curry can be made with any white fish, and even prawns.
The creaminess of this curry comes from Cashew nuts rather than cream or coconut milk!
Cooking Time: 30 mins
1.2kg haddock, skinless, pinboned, cut into large chunks
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
10 cardamom pods, crushed, seeds only
Old recipes are always the best recipes. This whiskey cake recipe was given to me by a lady from Lurgan, Northern Ireland. Intensely dark and moist, it is very easy to make. This is a traditional boiled fruit cake, so called because part of the fruit mixture is boiled before adding it into the cake batter.
The old housewife trick of liberally lacing a little extra whiskey over the top of the cake once it is freshly baked increases the shelf life and in creating this intensely flavoured cake, which remains wonderfully moist even for up to a week, if stored tightly wrapped in an airtight container. The boiling method also means there is no creaming of butter and sugar involved, so the stove actually does the work for you. The mixed dried fruits are soaked in whiskey and spices before being boiled with butter and sugar. Though you’ll be tempted to eat the plump, liquor-soaked fruit straight from the pot, the sacrifice of leaving it be, will be worth it.
The world would be...
Guinness Stew may well be the mother of all stews since anything simmered for hours is going to be wonderfully tasty. Arguably the most deeply flavourful sauce of all stews, with a rich dark brown flavour, this is an Irish classic. The not-so-secret ingredient that goes into Stew that gives the sauce the deep flavour and colour is Guinness Stout (or 'The Black Stuff' as we often say in Ireland), which is known to be much richer than most beers (the thick foam that gathers on the top of a pint). Irish Stout is widely exported nowadays and other equally good Irish Stouts such as Murphys Irish Stout or Beamish) can be substituted in this recipe . All Irish Stout is so dark it is almost black and it’s why the gravy of the stew is such a beautiful deep brown colour. Don't get confused between a Beef and Guinness Stew and Irish Stew (which is more famous and authentic, made with lamb and more like a soup when served, with NO guinness). In an Irish Stew, the potatoes are...
It was “Sally O’Brien and the way she might look at you” that used to attract the tourists. Nowadays tourists are flocking to experience wild coasts, ancient ruins and Irish food. Though subtle culinary differences do exist between us and our close neighbours in Britain. Rather than high tea, Irish scones conjure images of a farmhouse kitchen, a wooden table and a ginormous pot of tea.
When I worked the morning shift in a kitchen, the scones were in the oven within 10 minutes of my arrival. All I had to do was crack some eggs, then pour them, along with milk, into the dry scone mixture (which I had prepared the day before). Every B&B in the country might make a fresh batch each morning if they knew how easy scones are to make.
Truly Irish scones are made in the fashion of white soda bread; combining plain flour, bread soda, salt and buttermilk. While delicious and fluffy when...
Its not uncommon for you to be offered soda bread when staying in a B&B anywhere in Ireland.
Long ago, the Irish mostly made flat griddle bread because Irish flour didn’t have enough gluten to rise with yeast. Baking soda was developed in the US in 1846 and was quickly adopted by Irish cooks, as it enabled bread with Irish flour to rise. In the late 1800s, white Canadian flour with a higher gluten content came over on returning emigration ships, and bakeries started making white bread raised with yeast, known as “shop bread”, and distributing it by horse and cart.
Irish Soda Bread is delicious and like all recipes, you can make your own changes to please your taste. I discovered one tip from a recipe that I looked up years ago - use raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and mix them in thoroughly. The chemical interaction of the soda and the raw sunflower seeds causes the seeds to turn a beautiful, emerald green that looks fantastic when...
The sausage roll is one of the most beloved snack pastries available here on the Emerald Isle. What could be better than a delicious sausage wrapped in puff pasty? Well, nothing! Of course you won't know that until you try it! :)
Think of pigs in a blanket: a traditional US classic for parties and events, made with hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls. But what if they were homemade from a real Irish recipe with fresh pork sausage? These delicious morsels are so popular you can find them behind the deli at any convenience store in Ireland, and they're one of the highest selling pastries available in Ireland as well as the UK. They form a big part of many Irish people's day to day cuisine, and to say they're addictive would be an understatement. Once you try them, you'll want to make them again and again! Here's the recipe!
For the Filling -
This traditional hearty soup has been a feature in Irish life for as long as village communities have subsisted on the fisherman's catch landed along the wild shores of the Atlantic Coast. The memorable mix of fresh haddock, salmon, and shrimp (or prawns as we call them in Ireland) is nicely balanced out with seasonal veggies such as leeks, carrots, and potatoes. The sauce of fish stock and cream brings a flavourful and comforting warmth that refreshes the soul. Unlike the American versions of chowder, this more authentic recipe has less cream, allowing for the other true flavours to show through. Ireland is known for it's seafood, and this delicious chowder is a prime example of Irish cooking using fresh ingredients from nature to create a wholesome meal enjoyed by many all across the island. This is why you can find it at local pubs all around Ireland
Because we are an island, it is only...
A delicious warm Apple Pie (we also say Apple Tart in Ireland) reminds us all of home. Here's an Irish recipe to celebrate St Patrick's Day. Served with freshly whipped cream it is a wonderful dessert.
Is there anything more homely than apple pie? It must be one of the most nurturing desserts, loved by adults and children alike. The aroma of a freshly baked apple pie takes me right back to my childhood.
I would be sent out into my grandfather’s garden and farm in Delgany, grumbling all the way, to collect the windfall apples. Windfalls don’t store well. The bruise which forms where they hit the ground quickly starts to go bad. They had to be used immediately, and my grandma’s deep dish apple pie was the perfect way to do it. I love everything about it: the wonderful smell, the rich golden buttery crust and the slightly tart apple filling.
I have a favourite Pyrex glass pie dish which I’ve been...
COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED 2nd February 2022. The competition winner is Sharon Cooling.
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