recipes for healthy living

Month: December, 2011

Paul Flynn Crab Brulee

Happy New Year everyone and I hope 2012 brings all you wish for!.
I spent yesterday and today preparing the starter course for a New Years Eve Celebration we are going to tonight as well as all the food for a family gathering we are having in our house on New Years Day.  It has been a busy day preparing 22 portions of The Tannery’s Crab Crème Brûlée with Pickled Cucumber as well as, for New Years Day my favourite beef stew, a potato and butternut squash vindaloo for my veggie sister and I will also be serving the boned and stuffed turkey legs I froze just before Christmas. I’m really looking forward to New Years Eve tonight and seeing all my family including all the nieces and nephews so all the cooking will be worth it to be together and enjoy each others company as it has been a number of months since the last gathering. I’m off the hook for dessert as one of the family is bringing one so I can have an extra half hour in the bed New Years Day!….That said I did have a chocolate hazlenut cake in the freezer so I cut and covered in chocolate ganache just to have a choice… it looks delicious and just the right portion size for such a rich cake.

If you don’t already know the Brulee then I think you are in for a delight. It has pickled ginger in it which adds a lovely taste as well as cutting through the cream and this continues with the cucumber salad. The melba toast is a lovely retro touch which really reminds me of my mum’s dinner parties when I was growing up when I used to love helping her. I was lucky enough to spend 2 days down at The Tannery with Paul Flynn and this is his recipe. It looks great and tastes really yummy, it is also quite easy to prepare since everything can be done in advance. It is served at room temperature so you can be in with your guests instead of slaving over a hot stove shouting at them from the kitchen. While Paul states that this serves 4 as a starter I used the smaller ramekins as it is quite rich and served 8 from this.  I loved my 2 day cookery workshop with Paul and was delighted to also get his book as part of my Christmas present – An Irish adventure with food.

Crab Crème Brûlée

400 ml (1 3/4 cups) cream
1 egg & 2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped (or grate it directly into the custard mixture with a Microplane grater)
2 tablespoons pickled ginger, drained and finely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 g (1 cup) picked white crab meat, finely chopped
50 g (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
pickled cucumber, to serve (see below)

Place the cream in a bowl with the eggs, garlic, pickled ginger and some salt and pepper and mix well. Add in the crab meat, ensuring there is no shell, and mix well again. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to allow the flavours to infuse for at least 30 minutes, but ideally up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F).

Ladle or pour the mixture into the ramekins, making sure you get an even amount of crab in every ramekin, as the crab tends to fall to the bottom. Place the ramekins in a roasting tray. Fill the tray with warm water until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place this bain marie in the oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes (check after 40 minutes). They will be done in less time if you get 8 portions out of the mixture.

When cooked through, the mixture should be set but still have a slightly wobbly consistency. Remove the ramekins from the bain marie and allow to cool — the crab crème brûlée should be served at room temperature.

When ready to serve, sprinkle a very thin layer of Parmesan on top of each ramekin and brown under the grill. Serve with pickled cucumber and really thin Melba

Pickled Cucumber
1 cucumber
pinch of salt
50 g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
50 ml (1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce

Slice the cucumber as thinly as you can (a mandolin or food processor’s slicing attachment is perfect for this job). Place the sliced cucumber in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt. Set aside.
Bring the sugar, vinegar and chilli sauce to the boil and reduce for 30 seconds. Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Once it’s cool, pour the liquid over the cucumbers and stir gently to coat them all. This will keep in the fridge for 2 or 3 days — any more and the cucumber loses its colour.

Souffled omelette and other brunch recipes

Souffled omelette

Pancakes poached eggs

There is a little less work on these in between days and more time for lovely family breakfasts together so we have been taking the opportunity to really fuel up well for the day and take our time over breakfast. The last few days I have been making eggs lots of different ways, pancakes for my daughter who is hooked on them and also some more granola though with a slightly different recipe to the one I posted in October. Fueling up so well  thanks to the protein and good fats provided  – One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids. Eggs are also one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D.  For the pancakes I always use gluten free flour since it does not impact the recipe and I also use a cutting ring on the pan just to make nice circles… very girlie I am told.

Souffléd Omelette with Rocket & Tomato salad
Serves 3-4
I love this recipe because it is lovely and light and airy. Fluffier than scrambled eggs, this soufflé is just as easy to prepare and is perfect served alongside a rocket salad and some cherry tomatoes.

6 large eggs separated
3 tbsp chopped chives or flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Heat oven to 400° F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, chives, salt, and pepper.
In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat and tilt to coat the sides.
Add the soufflé mixture and bake until the eggs are puffed and golden. Flip the omelette in half over in itself and continue cooking about 10 minutes in total until it is fully cooked.
Cut into wedges. Divide the soufflé, rocket, and tomatoes among plates. Drizzle the greens with the extra virgin oil, serve and enjoy.
This is also good with some crumbled goats cheese added to the mixture after you add the egg mixture to the pan.

Pancakes with Crispy Parma Ham, Poached Eggs and Hollandaise
Serves 4-5

225g gluten free plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg
300ml milk or butter milk if you wish

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and make well in the centre and egg and enough of the milk to make a dropping consistency. It usually takes the full recipe amount.
Leave the batter for about 15 minutes or so if you can.
To cook drop a large tablespoonful into the cutting ring on a  medium hot non stick pan . Cook for about 2 minutes – Bubbles will start to appear and the pancake is ready to turn when the bubbles in the pancake burst. Turn over gently and cook until gently on the other side. Keep warm while you prepare the eggs and hollandaise.

Poached Eggs

Bring a tall pot of with water to the boil. Add tsp of salt and dash of white wine vinegar. Break your egg into a small ramekin, swirl the water with a spoon and gently pour the egg into the swirling water. Cook for 2 minutes to 3 minutes depending on size of the egg.

Crispy Parma Ham
Preheat oven to 180 and place 1 or 2 slices per person on a non stick tray and bake until crispy approximately 5 minutes

Hollandaise Sauce
If you have time and can be bothered make the hollandaise, otherwise there are plenty of good jars of ready made.
6 oz unsalted butter melted, not hot though
3 tbsp water
3 egg yolks
Salt lemon juice and cayenne if you like it, just a pinch

Whisk egg yolks and water over a Bain Marie of gently simmering water until they have doubled in volume and become thicker.
Ensure the egg mixture does not become too hot – you should be able to put you finger into it.
Remove from the heat the drizzle in the melted butter whisking all the time.
This will only keep for about 30 minutes so dont make too far ahead of time.

Thai Turkey Curry with Jasmine Rice & Crispy shallots

Turkey curry can conjure up horrible images of a meal designed more to get rid of the turkey than to satisfy anyone’s taste buds. This one is different for a number of reasons. I often make my curry paste from scratch but this evening was able to whiz up a curry really quickly thanks to the use of a curry paste recommended to me recently by a very good Thai chef. When you haven’t been to the shops and the cupboard is bare, this is a paste to keep as it is really delicious and best of all is full of all natural ingredients. The paste is Thai red curry paste and it is by Mae Ploy. Buy this the next time you are in your local Thai market (Asia Market, Drury street if you are in Dublin City Centre) and you will have a great supply of paste for whenever you don’t feel like taking out the pestle and mortar.
Just one warning – it is really hot, as I was making the curry this evening I could hear my other half coughing in the other room!… the mark of a good curry though is despite the heat it is compulsive eating and you cant stop even though you are really feeling it hot… delicious!

Serves 4 – Use a wok preferably but if not a wide frying pan.

Red Curry
1 small onion sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped and mashed
2 red peppers sliced
1 head of broccoli in bite size stems
About 10oz cooked turkey
2 Tbsp red curry paste from Mae Ploy
600mls coconut milk – I used 1 tin of coconut milk and half a block of coconut which I dissolved in 200mls hot water
4 tbsp oil
Fish oil, Light soy sauce and Palm sugar – All three to taste

Stir fry the peppers in 2 tbsl oil until almost cooked
Blanch the broccoli stems for 4 minutes until al dente- plunge in cold water to stop cooking and set the colour. Set aside with the red peppers
Fry the garlic and onion in 2 tbsp oil over a medium heat until golden and almost cooked.
Push up onto the side of your wok to reduce the cooking of them.
Add the curry paste into the wok and cook out stirring constantly for about 4 minutes.
Add about 100mls of the coconut milk into the wok and stir to combine into the curry paste. Cook for another few minute before adding the rest of the coconut milk. (It’s ok to bring the onions & garlic down into the milk).
You really want the milk and paste to cook out before you start adding anything else so continue to cook at a medium heat until the lovely oil from the paste starts separating.
Add in the cooked turkey and cook at medium until it is brought up to temp.
Now ready to add the veggies – since they are already virtually cooked, they don’t need long. Just give them a min or 2 to get hot.
Your curry is now ready for seasoning. This is a vital step and really depends on your own palate and how you like your curry. Right now without palm sugar, fish sauce or soy it won’t be at its best. Start with about 1 tsp of palm sugar, stir in and taste, Add in about 1 dessert spoon of Fish sauce ands some light soy sauce and then taste to see what it needs. I was happy when I had added about 2 dessert spoons of fish and soy sauce and almost 2 tsp of palm sugar.
Finally I stirred in some chopped coriander before serving,
I felt compelled to have this with some left over bubbles – not compulsory but a great accompaniment in my opinion!…

Jasmine Rice and crispy shallots
2 shallots
Oil for frying
1 ½ cups jasmine rice

Soak the jasmine rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
Gently rinse off until the water runs clear
Place in a pot – taller narrower is better for small amounts and cover with cold water about 1 ½ inches above the level of the rice.
Add ½ tsp salt and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to very low simmer until rice cooked and has absorbed the water
For crispy shallots peel and slice 2 shallots and shallow fry in oil until crispy.
Drain on kitchen paper.
Portion your rice into a ramekin, tip onto your plate and top with the crispy shallots.

Ham & Cannellini beans…very tasty left overs


This is a really tasty dish and perfect for leftover ham. It is a great dish to come home to after a walk as it is warm and filling. You can use tinned beans as a quick alternative tho using the beans you soak does add more dept of flavour since they need to be cooked for much longer . However sometimes life is too short to remember to overnight soak beans…We had this on Christmas eve after mass and it fed 4 hungry adults after some unexpected callers turned up. It really is worth trying with the beans that need longer cooking if you are ever around the house for the day with no great plans as the taste is that bit better and the beans hold their structure better for this dish.

2 tins of Cannellini beans or 1 1/2 cups beans soaked overnight in cold water
1 carrot finely diced
1 onion finely diced
2 cloves garlic peeled sliced and crushed
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tin chopped tomatoes with as much of liquid removed as possible
6 oz ham – I used boiled ham hock left over from preparing ham terrines
500 ml stock – I used chicken and topped up with about 100 ml water during cooking
3 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp breadcrumbs (optional)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

Sweat onion, carrot and garlic in 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat until they soften
Add thyme, tomatoes, ham and beans, Cover with the stock and bring to boil and turn down to very gentle simmer. If using tinned beans, cook for about 15 mins. if using soak ones then simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours. Add more liquid if needed during the cooking.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Take out the thyme springs and tip into a casserole dish. Stir in half the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle over the Parmesan & breadcrumbs if using with the rest of the parsley.
Bake in the oven for 10 mins (or 40 if you used the dried beans), until a lovely crusty top from the Parmesan forms.

Enjoy and let me know what you thought of this delicious use of leftovers..

Stuffed Turkey Legs


An hours work this morning and the turkey legs are boned stuffed and rolled. Wrapped boudin style in cling and they will be poached and finished it the oven another day over Christmas…. Delish, and that way I won’t be looking at a turkey for days in a row trying to figure out how to eat if before it is past its best.

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