Donal Skehan

Simple Antipasto Salad

This is a great base for any salad so feel free to throw in some lovely extras if you so wish. Things like toasted pine nuts, garlic croutons, and sun dried tomatoes would all work great in this. If you buy olives unpitted, simply crush them with the back of a knife and remove the stone with your fingers.

Serves 4
3 large handfuls of rocket leaves. (Arugula)
Half of a 100g jar of green olives (pitted)
1 packet of parma ham slices
1 Large handful of wafer thin parmesan cheese slices
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
A small pinch of ground black pepper

The method for this one is so easy-  Simply mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently. Tumble the salad onto a large serving dish and serve.

Make sure to provide lots of crusty bread to eat alongside and enjoy!

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Chunky Garlic Bread

You can use any bread for this really, but try and pick a loaf with a chunky crust. The bread on the inside will stay nice and soft and you will be left with a crunchy crust. I love garlic and have used four cloves here, but reduce the amount if don’t want to be warding off vampires for the next week!

Serves 4
1 loaf of wholemeal bread
5 tablespoons of butter at room temperature
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A large handful of freshly chopped parsley
A pinch of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 200oC/390oF/Gas 6.

Slice the bread into slices being careful not to cut the whole way through and set aside.  The slices should all still be joined at the bottom.  Mash the butter, salt, garlic and parsley together on a chopping board with the back of a fork.  When the ingredients are combined scoop up the garlic butter and slather the slices on the inside.  Don’t be afraid to get messy here, if there’s butter on the crust all the better!

Wrap the loaf in tinfoil leaving the tops of the slices exposed.  You can also sprinkle the tops of the slices with a little grated Parmesan cheese at this point. Place the wrapped loaf in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden and crisp on top.

Serve piping hot!  If you can’t get through a whole loaf in one go, freeze the slices individually and pop them in the toaster when you want to reheat them!

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Perfect Parmesan Parsnips

Try to select interesting shaped parsnips, they look great when they’re roasted. I try and cut the parsnips as thin as possible because when they start to roast in the oven you should end up with tasty crispy ends and thick fleshy pieces.

Serves 4
1kg of parsnips.
3 tablespoons of wholemeal flour.
1 tablespoon of ground black pepper.
1 tablespoon of sea salt.
1 generous handful of Parmesan cheese.
2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 200oC/390oF/Gas 6.

Peel the parsnips and chop in half and then slice into four. You may need to slice the chunks in half again depending on what size you want them. Place the parsnips in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes.

Rinse with a little cold water and drain the chunks in a colander. Combine the flour, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Tumble the parsnips into the bowl and toss to coat. Place in a large roasting tray, sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

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Mini Steak and Mushroom Pie

These look great served in individual little pie dishes, but if you don’t have any to hand, simply use one large pie dish. You can cook the pie mix ahead of time, freeze and defrost when you want to use it.

Makes 6 mini pies
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 lb of stew steak or diced beef
250g of mushrooms
500ml of beef stock
250g of puff pastry
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A generous pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper
2 egg yolks

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan, and brown the meat on all sides. You may need to fry the meat in batches in order to get a nice colour. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the garlic and onions until soft. Add the beef stock, meat pieces, salt and pepper and combine. Lower the heat, cover and cook over gentle heat for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Make sure to give the mix a stir every now and then to prevent it sticking at the bottom. The aim is to get the meat as tender as possible, so you may need to add a longer cooking time depending on the meat you buy.

10 minutes before the mix is finished add the finely sliced mushrooms and stir through to combine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/ 430˚F/ Gas 7.

Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out the pastry to about a centimetre in thickness. Empty the steak and mushroom filling into your chosen pie dish or dishes and drape over the pastry. Leave about 1cm of pastry over the side of the dish and then push the pastry in to the dish so you end up with a nice crust the whole way round. Using a pastry brush, coat the pastry with the egg yolk, this will produce a delicious golden coloured crust. Place in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the pastry puffs up and turns a nice golden brown.

Serve straight away with a tasty salad and enjoy!

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Chilli Jam


The original quantities are doubled here, as I prefer to make a larger batch. In this case you really need to sterilise the jars you use in order for the jam to last longer.To sterilise the jars and lids really the simplest way is to put them through a dishwasher cycle and make sure not to touch the inside of the jar and lid. This recipe makes approximately 1 litre of jam; I distributed this amongst a variety of jars. You can check what fits by filling them before hand with 1 litre of water from a measuring jug.

Makes 1 litre of jam
3 medium red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
1kg of tomatoes (I used approximately 16 tomatoes)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla)
450g of Demerara sugar
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
100ml of red wine vinegar

Place half the tomatoes into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium pot. Place the rest of the tomatoes, red chillies, garlic, ginger and Thai fish sauce into the food processor and blitz until it becomes a smooth paste.

Transfer to the pot and place over a medium heat. Stir through the sugar, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. Bring to the boil stirring regularly, then reduce the heat and keep at a steady simmer for 35 minutes or until the jam has reduced by half its volume. Stir every 5 minutes. When the jam has cooked allow to cool and then transfer to sterilised jars.

Cover and place in the fridge.

Enjoy with sandwiches, alongside meat or fish dishes, or as a delicious dipping sauce.

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Fortune Cookies

The trick to making the cookies is timing, so prepare everything you need before you stick them in the oven. You have to mould the hot little discs as soon as they come out of the oven, so I would suggest you use a pair of gloves or some kitchen paper. I don’t have asbestos hands so when I first made these I was hopping around the place from the heat of moulding them with my bare hands. NOT FUN! The technique of molding is fairly simple, you fold the disc in half, and then fold it in half again over the rim of a glass. Sound easy? It is!

Makes about 20 cookies
4 large egg whites.
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
6 tablespoons of sunflower oil.
175g of all purpose white flour.
375g of granulated sugar.
1 teaspoon of cornflour
teaspoon of salt.
6 teaspoons of water.

Preheat the oven to 150˚C/Gas 2/300˚F and grease a wide baking sheet.

Write and cut out your own customised fortunes on little strips of paper about 10cm by 1cm and set aside.

Using a whisk, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with the oil, and vanilla extract. Beat them until they become thick, but not stiff. Sieve in the flour and cornflour. Add the sugar, salt and water and mix through the egg whites. Combine thoroughly until you have no lumps and bumps!

Place 4 level tablespoon of the mix evenly spaced on the baking sheet. I find working with four discs at a time to be the easiest. Distribute the mix evenly by tilting the tray until you get a nice wide disc around 10cm in diameter.

Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cookies go a light golden brown colour around the edges. Working quickly- remove one disc from the baking sheet, place the fortune in the center and gently fold in half. Bend the two ends of the disc over the rim of a glass and hold in position for 20 seconds until it cools.

Repeat the process until you get through all the cookie mix.

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Nacha’s Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

My parents are in the fruit and vegetable business, this meant we always had two massive pumkins every Halloween, when my brother and I were growing up. Carving pumpkins became an annual tradition and everyone had a role. My brother and I would draw the faces, my mom would gut the pumpkins, and my dad would carve them. There was always huge arguements over choosing the right pumpkin and even more competition when it came to drawing the best and most scary face!

I picked this recipe up from our first au-pair from France, Nacha, who taught us never to throw away any of the precious seeds. They are so tasty toasted with butter and sea salt. Here’s the simple recipe.

Makes enough for 4 greedy trick or treaters!
The seeds of 2 large pumpkins.
4 tablespoons of melted butter.
A generous pinch of coarse sea salt
A generous pinch of ground black pepper.

Cut off the top of the pumpkins.  Using your hands, separate the seeds from the gooey insides and transfer to a colander.

Rinse the slippy seeds under cold water and pick out any remaining stringy orange flesh.  Transfer to a few sheets of kitchen paper or a dry tea towel and pat dry.

Tip the seeds into a large roasting dish and spoon over the melted butter.  Toss the seeds so they are all coated in the butter and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Toast in the oven at 200oC/390oF/Gas 6, for 20 minutes or until nice and golden.

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Carving Pumpkins and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds…

Carving Pumpkins Old Blog PostWho knew writing a book would actually take a bit of work!  I've been meaning to post something over the last few weeks, but every spare minute has been focused on the writing and taking pictures for Good Mood Food.  But more importantly I'm here and I have a recipe!

Carving Pumpkins Old Blog Post_3

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TURKEY TRAVEL LOG: Datca, Bozuk Buku, Kumlu Buku…


The Turkey travel log is still coming, my focus was way more on food the second week, so keep on hanging on in there!


After a somewhat misguided trip to Symi, we had a long and bumpy sail up to the small Turkish town of Datca. It was our first visit of the trip to a Turkish town, so there was a lot on offer to do and see.We arrived into a buzzing little harbour with lots of small restaurants and shops all vying for our attention. On first inspection the waterfront looked very touristy but after we ventured further up the town, there was a lot more to Datca.

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TURKEY TRAVEL LOG: Orhaniye, Dirsek, Monastery of Panormitis…

IMG_5340Hello Hello! We got back from Turkey last night and we’re already feeling the cold!  I'm going to be posting a little bit about each place we sailed through over the next two weeks and I have over 2000 photo's to sift through and edit so I'll be sticking them up too.

I also have some very exciting news about the book- tomorrow is the first official photoshoot complete with food stylist and photographer!  We have spent most of the day preparing for tomorrow and all I can say is it's a stark contrast, going from tanning in 30 degree heat to prowling through boxes of peppers for the most photogenic, within hours of stepping off a plane!  We have been cooking all day and the first shots will be taken tomorrow morning, so I'm hoping to feature a few behind the scenes pics later this week.

For now here is my travel log day 1 to 3!  The pictures are more foodie related as the days progress so stay tuned and Enjoy!

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Avocado and Lime Salsa

This little recipe is so basic anyone can do it. It requires absolutely no cooking and is essentially all preparation. I wasn’t always a big fan of avocados and have only recently started eating them. But boy have I been missing out! These tasty little fruits are like a whole meal on their own and, packed with nutrients, they are a really powerful antioxidant food. This salsa is a brilliant way to serve avocados and even more perfect to munch with tortilla chips. Adjust the quantity of ingredients to your own taste. I like things hot, so use less Tabasco sauce if you want a milder mix.

Serves 4 as a snack
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1 lime
1⁄2 red onion
1 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the avocado lengthways and remove the stone.

Scoop out the green flesh and chop finely, but don’t worry too much as it all turns a bit mushy when you add the rest of the ingredients.

Add a squeeze of lime juice to stop it discolouring and add to a medium sized bowl.

Chop the red onion finely and add to the avocado.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients with the onion and avocado to your desired consistency and that’s it. Enjoy!

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