Category Archives: Starter

Recipe: Chicken & Sweetcorn Spring Rolls

Chicken & Sweetcorn Spring Rolls
Chicken & Sweetcorn Spring Rolls

Ingredients;

4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or finely chopped
Small tin sweetcorn (260g)
2 carrots, julienned
1 leek, cut in fine rings (or substitute 1 onion)
Half a bag of beansprouts
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
Soy sauce
Toasted sesame oil
Oyster sauce
Juice of 1 lime (or 1/2 a lemon)
Vegetable Oil
Packet of spring roll pastry (or substitute filo pastry)


Makes between 8 – 18 spring rolls, dependant on the size of your pastry sheets and amount of mix placed in each one.

Prepare all ingredients as described above. Heat oven to 200C.

Heat a wok, then add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Stir fry the ginger, garlic & chilli for approx 2 mins, stirring all the time so it does not burn. Add the carrots & leek, continue stirring for 2 mins more.

Add 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy & half a teaspoon sesame oil, along with the juice of the lime, stirring in well. Add in the sweetcorn & chicken and stir until well coated, remove from heat. Stir through the beansprouts.

Place a sheet of spring roll pastry on a clean surface, with the corner towards you. Spoon on filling in the centre, then fold up corner nearest you over the filling. Fold in the two sides, then roll entire piece over to finish sealing. Place on a non-stick baking tray and repeat until filling is all used.

Baste the finished spring rolls with some vegetable oil, then bake for 20-25 mins in the oven, until crispy to the touch. Serve as a meal or a snack.

Recipe: Cheesy Garlic Bread

Garlic Bread
Garlic Bread

Ingredients;

2 foot-long bread sticks
Large handful grated cheese (strong cheddar or goats cheese)
30g butter, brought to room temperature
Teaspoon dried thyme
Teaspoon dried basil
1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste (or substitute with 10 twists of dried garlic grater).


Heat your oven to 180C.

Mix the butter, thyme, basil & garlic together. Make 1-inch thick slices into the bread, but do not go all the way through, just to the bottom crust. Spread the butter mix on both sides of each “slice” and then stuff the gaps with the grated cheese.

Cook for 10-15 mins, until any cheese on top of the bread has gone crispy.

I usually fashion a cooking tray out of foil for each bread stick, as this will catch any melted cheese that drips through and also means you can scrumple it up at the end, quickly tidying away any crumbs. To make the tray, pull off a large piece of foil and fold in half for strength. Fold about 1-inch of the long side over twice to form a “wall” and repeat on other long side. Place the bread stick on the foil and crease in the short ends to the correct size, ensuring that your sides stay upright. Don’t seal in the bread stick (unless you want soft garlic bread!).

Note: Use cheese with a strong flavour, this works a lot better than mild cheddar in this recipe. You can also adjust the amount of garlic to suit your taste.

Recipe: Allium and Root Veg Soup

A Bowl of Allium and Root Veg Soup with a drizzle of cream and some fresh chives
A Bowl of Allium and Root Veg Soup

Ingredients;

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove peeled and diced
3 large leeks, sliced
1 parsnip, diced
1 onion, diced
110ml white wine
500ml onion stock (or vegetable stock)
100ml cream
700ml vegetable stock
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Serves 4-6

Line

Place your saucepan on a medium to high heat and add a splash of olive oil. Once this is up to temperature add the potato and garlic and fry gently until the potato starts to soften. Stir this regularly to avoid the garlic burning.

Once the potatoes have started to soften add the leeks and continue to fry until they too have softened.

Next add the wine, onion stock and cream and bring this to a simmer, cover the saucepan and leave to simmer and reduce for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

At this point you should have very little liquid left in your saucepan. Add the vegetable stock and simmer for a further 15 minutes, then remove from it the heat and allow it to cool a little.

Next, pour the soup into a blender and blend until smooth. As always if the soup is thicker than you would like you can thin it with some additional stock. Give it a taste and season with salt and pepper if needed, and you’re ready to serve.

I’ve served this alongside a pizza base, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, some Gruyère and goats’ cheese (no tomato sauce), baked for about 8 minutes as you would a normal pizza. This combination brings out the flavours, even more, in both.

This soup can be frozen although it is best served fresh with a little drizzle of cream and some chopped chives sprinkled over the top.

Recipe: Carrot and Coriander Soup

Soup and the smiling face of Culch.ie
Soup and the smiling face of Culch.ie

Ingredients;

Olive oil
2 medium sized onions
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 Kg carrots, peeled and sliced
1.5 L vegetable stock
Large handful of fresh coriander (approx 30g)
3 teaspoons of coriander seeds finely ground
a thumb tip of ginger, finely sliced

Serves 8-10

Line

Take a large saucepan and place it on a medium heat, add a lug of olive oil and saute the onions till soft. Then add the potatoes, cumin and ground coriander seeds and stir for about a minute.

Next add the carrots, ginger and 1L of vegetable stock, bring this to the boil and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Allow this to cool and then blend it with the fresh coriander leaves until smooth. Once done return the soup to the saucepan and gently heat it again. Depending on the veg this soup can get to be very thick, almost like baby food, so while stirring the soup, start adding the remainder of the stock until you get the thickness that you require.

At this point its a good idea to taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Then simply re-heat and serve.

Recipe: Pizza Base

A naked uncooked Pizza base

Ingredients;

1kg of strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 x 7g packets of dried yeast
1 tablespoon of golden caster sugar
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
625ml of tepid water (tepid = 2 parts cold to one part boiling)
1 handful of cornmeal

Makes 6-8 Pizza bases

Line

Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl or onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle of it.

Mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork (or your hands) start to stir the liquid in the well while bringing in the flour until the dough starts to come together. Then work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Now place the dough on a flour-dusted surface and knead it around for a 2-3 minutes to push the air out. As you are doing this, work the dough into a giant sausage shape. Divide the dough into six or eight pieces (eight if you like a thin and crispy base) and put them to one side.

Take one of the portions and make it into a ball, then stretch that into a roundish shape about 3-4 inches across and place on a floured surface and grab your rolling pin. Rolling away from you and turning the pizza regularly, roll the pizza base out until it is thin (about an eighth of an inch or less) then flour the pizza base and place on a baking tray lined with cling film – if you don’t have a suitably-sized baking tray, you can substitute with a chopping board or any flat surface that will fit in your freezer.

Fold the cling-film back over the top of the pizza base ready for the next one to be placed on top and repeat until all the portions have been rolled out.

At this point, you can dress one of the pizza bases (simply using passata and cheese) on a baking tray or preferably a pizza stone, either way you will need to sprinkle some cornmeal on before placing the pizza on it to prevent it from sticking.

Then place in a hot oven (approx 220 degrees C) for about 8-10 minutes and enjoy.

You can wrap the cling-filmed pile of bases in tinfoil and put them flat in your freezer to be used later.  The bases, once dressed, will cook from frozen in 8-10 mins as well – perfect for a quick dinner when coming home late from work.