Monday, 30 September 2013

pan-seared pigeon breast with roast apples, black pudding & cider reduction

Pan-seared pigeon breast with roast apples, black pudding & cider reduction

Game season is under way again in Ireland and butchers are now starting to stock all of those richer meats we see in the Autumn & Winter months. Venison is back in town, as is pheasant, wild boar, partridge, quail... This dish uses pigeon; a lovely dark rich meat with virtually no fat, and cheap too; the 4 breasts I used here only set me back around €8!

This is a great starter, packed with flavour and leaving you wanting more every time!


  • 4 pigeon breasts
  • 100g black pudding, diced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored, peeled & cut into 8
  • 200ml dry cider
  • 2 tbsp duck fat
  • 20g butter
  • Salt & pepper

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c / 160c (fan) / gas mark 4.
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat and add 1tbsp duck fat and the butter.
  3. Season the apple pieces with salt & pepper & fry for 1 minute on each side until just starting to colour slightly.
  4. Transfer the apple to a non-stick baking tray and place in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add the other half of the duck fat into the frying pan and fry the black pudding for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper then place on a second baking tray and place in the oven for 7-8 minutes.
  6. Season the pigeon breasts on both sides & fry for 1 minute, skin side down. Turn over, add the cider and cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Remove the breasts from the pan and set aside to rest.
  8. Turn the heat up in the pan and reduce the cider by around half.
  9. To serve, place the apple pieces in a bowl or on a plate of your choice. Slice the pigeon breasts into 5 or 6 pieces each and place on top of the apple. Sprinkle the black pudding over and spoon over the sauce.
  10. I also finished mine off with some posh micro herbs; in this case it was red stem radish, but pea shoots would be lovely too.
  11. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

pan-fried squid & chorizo with heritage tomato & feta salad

Pan-fried squid & chorizo with heritage tomato & feta salad

Here's a healthy Mediterranean type option for those of you who, like me, still wish they were on holiday having long lazy lunches somewhere hot and sunny without too much of a care in the world...

This light dish started off life as a 'let's-see-what-we've-got-left-in-the-fridge' plate of food, when I fancied a starter to pre-empt the chicken dish I was cooking as my main course. The resulting meal was VERY tasty, so of course I had to share! As you can see from the photo, it looks great too; really vibrant with loads of colour, and of course the flavours are just beautiful together.

Quick to prepare, and even quicker to cook and plate up, leaving you plenty of time to slow down and enjoy with a large slurp or two of cold dry white wine...


For the squid
  • 2 x squid (tubes/bodies only), cleaned, halved along each side and cut into thin strips widthways
  • 1 x chorizo sausage, diced (I used Gubbeen chorizo from Cork, keeping it local!)
  • Olive oil
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

For the tomato salad
  • 2oog (approx - I used 2 - 3 good handfuls) Heritage (a.k.a. Heirloom) tomatoes, sliced
  • 80g feta cheese, diced
  • Good handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper

  1. First make the salad. Throw everything into a bowl and season to taste with the lemon juice, salt & pepper. Leave to one side for the flavours to combine a little.
  2. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the chorizo. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes until the sausage starts to colour and release some of its oils.Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
  3. In the same pan, add a small splash of olive oil and throw in the squid pieces.
  4. Stir regularly and again, season to taste with the lemon  juice, salt & pepper.
  5. When the squid is cooked (but still nice & tender) add the chorizo back into the pan for 30 seconds to warm through.
  6. To serve, divide the squid & chorizo into two portions, placing in the centre of each plate.
  7. Place the tomatoes randomly around the outside of the plate and drizzle over the dressing.
  8. Eat as slowly as you can to maximise the enjoyment. It might also be worth trying to convince your dining partner that they don't like it that much so you can steal theirs as well. Good luck with that...

I ate this last night for the first time and even just typing up the menu I'm drooling! That must say something about how nice it is, right?! I have to say, absolutely delicious...

Serves 2

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

pan-fried sea bass with beurre blanc & roasted mediterranean vegetables

Pan-fried sea bass with beurre blanc & roasted Mediterranean vegetables

Hi everyone!

I know, I know; it's been soooo looooong since I last posted, and for this I apologise. No excuses, aside from to say I've kind of been out of commission for the last couple of months doing lots of cheffy, cooky things. Can't divulge too much about that just yet, but suffice to say it's VERY exciting stuff, and of course I'll be giving more details in due course!!

Vague enough? Yep thought so. On with the food...

Once again, I've tried to put a dish together with swanky-but-inexpensive in mind, with taste and flavour still sitting pretty in first position, as always. This is a lovely dish, very simple, full of flavour, healthy (well, ish - ignore the mountain of butter in the sauce), and won't break the bank. You can substitute the bass for most other fish too, such as pollock, hake or cod, and it also works extremely well with salmon or sea trout.

This recipe makes for a nice starter or a light lunch/supper, but if you want to ramp it up as a main, you could just sit the fish on some sautéed potatoes and increase the amount of vegetables you plonk on the plate. Easy!

Finally, one more shout out for my good buddies at Kish Fish in Smithfield for selling me the beautifully fresh sea bass.


For the bass
  • 2 fillets of sea bass
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the Mediterranean vegetables
  • ¼ courgette, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ aubergine, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ red pepper, de-seeded & cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

For the beurre blanc
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 60ml white wine
  • 60ml white wine vinegar
  • 125g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c / 160c (fan) / gas mark 4.
  2. Place the vegetables in a small roasting tray and toss with the olive oil, salt & pepper, to coat.
  3. Place in the oven and roast for around 30mins, until soft (but not mushy!).
  4. For the beurre blanc, place the shallots, vinegar & wine in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat until only around a quarter of the liquid remains.
  5. Lower the heat to its lowest setting and whisk in the butter, one cube at a time until each one has been incorporated into the liquid. Keep warm.
  6. For the bass, heat a non-stick saucepan until hot. Season the fillets lightly on both sides - do this the last minute before adding to the pan so you don't draw all of the moisture out of the fish.
  7. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Hold down for a few seconds to prevent the fillets curling up (or - chef's tip - place a saucer on top of the fish for a minute or so to weight it down).
  8. Once the skin is coloured and nice & crispy (approx. 3 minutes), turn of the heat & turn the fish onto the flesh side. Cook for a further minute (maximum) and remove to rest for around a minute.
  9. To serve, place the fish in the middle of a plate, skin side up. Spoon the sauce all around and place the vegetable pieces around.
  10. Take a photo, post it everywhere, wait for the ooh's and ahh's... Oh yep, and enjoy!

If you have some nice dry white wine, pour yourself a glass to have with this dish. If not - buy some!

Serves 2