Wednesday, 27 February 2013

squid with lemon & chilli

Grilled squid with lemon & chilli

This is a recipe I picked up when I was living in Spain and ticks all the boxes: It's fresh, it's cheap, it's healthy, and above all, it's tasty! And it smells fantastic when you're cooking it! Squid is low in calories and is high in nutrients such as Vitamin A, potassium and calcium. And at around only €8/kilo, it makes for an incredibly economical ingredient. So don't be scared by fresh squid, and give this a go. It's a much nicer alternative to deep fried, battered (rubbery) squid rings!

  • 4 fresh squid, cleaned & prepared*
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 red chillis, de-seeded & sliced very thinly
  • 500g new potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Large handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • Large handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 4 knobs of butter
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

*To prepare my squid, I usually put slices though it, but be careful not to go all the way across. To do this safely, just lay a large knife inside the squid, and slice across with a second knife, then repeat on the other side. The knife inside the squid will act as a barrier to stop you cutting all the way through and ending up with squid rings! This technique is great for getting all the other flavours into the squid, and looks professional too!

  1. Place the potatoes in boiling salted water & cook for around 8 minutes, until starting to get soft. Drain and leave to dry in their own steam in the colander.
  2. When the potatoes have cooled slightly, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 knobs of butter over a medium high heat in a large heavy frying pan, and add the potatoes, crushing down slightly with a wooden spoon or a masher.
  3. When the potatoes are starting to colour nicely, make space in the pan and add a drop more olive oil, along with the red onion.
  4. Cook until soft, then remove the potato & onion mixture and keep to one side in a warm dish.
  5. Add a little glug of olive oil to the pan. Season the squid lightly on both sides and fry for around 2 minutes on each side; you should see the squid starting to lose it's opaque look.
  6. Add another couple of knobs of butter to the pan along with another glug of olive oil and add the chilli, garlic and parsley. Toss around so all the flavours get into the squid. Pour over half the lemon juice, a little more seasoning to taste, and toss again to make sure everything gets a good coating.
  7. Put the potatoes & onion back in the pan and again, toss around to make sure everything picks up the flavours of everything else.
  8. To serve, place the potatoes on a large platter and lay the squid on top.
  9. Finally, squeeze over the rest of the lemon juice and sprinkle with the fresh mint.
Serves 4.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

dine in dublin 2013

It's that time of the year again when everyone can be a foody! Yep, Dine In Dublin is back, and this year it's bigger than ever!

Dine In Dublin happens twice a year and is designed to promote the fantastic range of food from some of the best restaurants in Dublin city centre. The event lasts a week (25 Feb - 3 Mar) and everyone can take advantage of sampling some of the lovely food on offer at a fraction of the price. The average price of a 3 course menu works out at around €25, which represents at least 20% off standard a la carte prices.
There are also a load of other special events during the Dine In Dublin week, including wine tasting, live music and great activities aimed at families.
So what are you waiting for?! Head over to the Dine In Dublin website for full details and plan your foody indulgences now! And don't forget to check out the Dine In Dublin Facebook page for regular free meal prize draws!
Now I'm hungry...
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Dine In Dublin 2013
25 February 2013 - 3 March 2013

trip to bratislava!

Last Friday my lovely lady & I jetted off  for a nice weekend break in Eastern Europe. Well, ish - it was Ryanair we booked with & we sat in the plane for over an hour before moving an inch. Which was fun, as you can imagine. Thankfully we managed to nab a couple of emergency exit seats so at least my long legs could actually stretch out whilst we waited...

Anyway, as I was saying, we travelled to Eastern Europe for a couple of nights, just to get out of the city & take advantage of some cheap flights. The destination was Slovakia, and to be more precise Bratislava, its tiny capital.

If you've never been to Bratislava, I'd highly recommend it. It's a small city as I said, so a couple of nights is plenty of time to decide whether you like the place or not, as it's easily possible to get around to most places without any hassle, and everywhere is within walking distance too!

We were staying right in the heart of Bratislava old town (Staré Mesto), which is just so pretty and full of big old buildings. Bars, cafe, bistros & restaurants are dotted all over the place, along with the obligatory souvenir shops, and the welcome we received in each one we visited was the same - warm, friendly and accommodating. A really great advert for Bratislava and its people.

But enough of my waffle; this is a food blog, so let's get on to the food & drink!
Sladovňa beer (0.5l)
Sladovňa beer
Actually the drink side of things is pretty simple to cover off: it's beer. Lots of beer, from dark, to light, to blonde, and from alcohol-free, to strong, to stronger. Beer is often matched with food on the menus in a lot of restaurants, which is a great concept; wine with some of these big meals just wouldn't cut it somehow...

Slovak food is hearty fare, and with the colder climate, food like this is much needed to provide some essential internal heating! The food reminded me (unsurprisingly) of the kind of meals I've had in the Czech Republic, as well as around Bavaria, and consists of staples such as duck, goose, lots of pork, cabbage, and some lovely sauces. Hungry you may be when you enter a Slovak restaurant, but hungry you certainly won't be when you leave; the portions are huge!

Take a look at some of the things we munched, slurped and struggled through during our 2 days in the Slovakian capital:
Slovakian sharing platter
Liptauer cheese, pork dripping with bacon & red onion,
pickled veg, handmade brawn & homemade bread

Bryndzove Halusky (gnocchi with Bryndza cheese & bacon)
Bryndzove Halusky (gnocchi with Bryndza cheese & bacon)

Grilled Slovak sausage with mustard & horseradish
Grilled Slovak sausage with mustard & horseradish

Breakfast in Bratislava
Breakfast! French toast, scrambled egg, bacon,
sausage & grilled vegetables

Beef tongue with horseradish & cranberry
Beef tongue with horseradish & cranberry

Moravský Vrabec
Moravský Vrabec (stewed pork cubes served with
braised cabbage and steamed dumplings)

Deer Goulash
Grilované Pikantné kuracie krídelká - Deer goulash with
red wine & cranberry sauce and bread dumplings

We visited a fair few places to have a drink and a bite to eat (still full!), but our favourite place of all? Well it has to be Sladovňa, a very cool bar & restaurant set in a restored malthouse. A small selection of local & European beers are joined by some fantastic traditional Slovak cuisine, all cooked perfectly, which you can enjoy sat at oak tables whilst being waited on by the attentive, friendly staff. A definite recommendation for any trip to Bratislava!

Bratislava is easily accessible these days, with Ryanair flying out from many destinations every day (including Dublin - with the exception of Saturdays), and flight times are under 3 hours. So what are you waiting for? Bratislava comes highly recommended to those of you who want to sample a beautiful small capital city in a couple of days, accompanied by great food, great drinks and faultless customer service.

A quick final note to my fellow blogger French Foodie In Dublin: Moods was only 20m from our hotel, but was closed! We might be heading there again in the summer, so hopefully that will give us a better result!
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Useful Links:

Thursday, 21 February 2013

toad in the hole

Toad in the hole

Toad in the hole is that British classic that everyone seems to like, and thankfully it's really quick (& really simple) to make, and with very few ingredients. Personally I can eat toad in the hole any time of the night or day to be honest; whether it's brunch, lunch, dinner or supper (and on occasion, breakfast, but that's a whole other story). This is comfort food at its best...

  • 8 pork sausages (ideally Lincolnshire)
  • 125g / 4½ oz plain flour
  • 150ml / 5fl oz milk mixed with 150ml / 5fl oz water
  • 2 fresh free-range eggs
  • 1-2 tbps wholegrain mustard
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp oil (or ideally lard)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220C (fan 200C) / 425F / gas mark 7
  2. Put the oil (or lard) into a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat up.
  3. For the batter, whisk together the flour, milk & water, eggs, mustard, salt & pepper until smooth and aerated, with no lumps. Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes
  4. When the fat is smoking, carefully pour in the batter mixture (stand back, it may spit), then arrange the sausages in the batter with an even space around each one.
  5. Place the tin back in the oven  and cook for 25 - 30 minutes, or until the Yorkshire pudding has risen well and the sausages look cooked through (NOTE: Don't keep opening the oven door to check the progress as this will cause the oven to cool down and your pudding won't rise).
  6. Serve with around half a ton of mash & 2 or 3 gallons of onion gravy :o)
Serves 4.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

lamb with mediterranean vegetables

Lamb with Mediterranean Vegetables

Spring has finally sprung, or is at least starting to have a bit more of a boing about it, and what better food to get stuck into than lovely lamb?

The temperature out there still isn't up to our normal tropical Irish summer levels just yet though, so this dish offers a great combination of in-season meat with some warming, and ever-hopeful summer type vegetables from the Med, all cooked together in the oven to warm the belly and keep the comfort food cravings well in check.

If you don't have all of the vegetables listed, no problem! Just use whatever you have in. In the past I've done this using asparagus, green beans, carrots, red onions, butternut squash...

  • 4 lamb chops or cutlets
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
  • 1 aubergine, sliced into 1cm thick slices
  • 2 courgettes, sliced into 1cm thick slices
  • 1 red pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 1 red onion, peeled & cut into large pieces
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50g feta cheese
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C (fan 160C) / 350F / gas mark 4
  2. Place the rosemary, mint & garlic into a pestle & mortar and pound until they're all mixed up to a fairly smooth consistency (not too smooth though - we like chunks!). Add the olive oil and mix together. Smear the mixture over the main 'eye' of the lamb chops & set to one side.
  3. Lightly oil a large baking dish and add in the aubergine, courgette, peppers and red onion.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the vegetables, season with salt & pepper, and mix everything together to coat. Lay the lamb on top of the vegetables and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Crumble the feta cheese and dot that around the lamb, scatter the cherry tomatoes around the dish and place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes (the cheese should start to brown very slightly).
  6. Serve with fresh sliced ciabatta and a mixed leaf salad.
  7. Finish off with a glass of your favourite wine too! Being lamb, this dish will go with most red, rose or dry white wines. Easy!
Serves 4.

and now for something completely different: niall thomas - 'spillin' diamonds'

Not food-related, but very tasty nonetheless!

A good friend of mine, Niall Thomas, is a Dublin singer/songwriter who's just about to launch his debut album, entitled 'Breathe Easy' (release date early April 2013). I've had the pleasure of listening to the album and it contains some of the nicest tunes I've heard in a long time!

Here's a little promo video he recorded down in Wicklow last week for the forthcoming first single, 'Spillin' Diamonds':

Lovely stuff eh?! Feel free to spread the word: Share, Like, Tweet, all that malarkey!

You can also like Niall's official Facebook page if you have it in you :o)

chefilepsy is back!

Well, it's been a loooong few months of hibernation, but the good news is that the sun's finally returned (ish) to Dublin and I'm back in the saddle (well, the kitchen to be more precise), with a whole host of cooking under my belt and some lovely new recipes to share with y'all!

I'll be throwing up a steady stream of food photos with their recipes over the coming days/weeks so keep a keen eye out and get ready to get cooking!

I also have a trip over to lovely Bratislava in Slovakia this coming weekend so I look forward to sharing any foodie delights with you from the chills of Eastern Europe soon too!

Ciao ciao for now...