Donal Skehan

Food And Wine Cover!

If you haven’t seen it yet, I am on the cover of the March issue of the Irish Food And Wine magazine, which is truly an amazing honour, and I really can’t quite believe it!  Needless to say I have been fairly excited about the whole thing, and it has obviously rubbed off on some of the folks over on twitter who have been tweeting some of their pretty funny pics of having coffee while reading the magazine, check them out below, and I think it’s best we don’t name any names when you see the shot of me in she who shall remain nameless’s bed!

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My NYC Foodie Guide

Following on from my NYC report last week, I couldn’t move on with my life without telling you about the long list of places we visited during our stay. To be honest we didn’t eat out at as much during the evenings because we were so full from all the eating we did during the day.  The main eateries I recommend here are great little lunch and breakfast stops which are ideal with the amount of walking you’re likely to be doing. If you’re a food lover and are planning a visit to the Big Apple, I hope this guide provides you with lots of great places to try.

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Mini Rhubarb Crumble Tarts

I’m sure you will be happy to know that I am well over the jetlag after our week in NYC and I am completely back in the land of the living!  For some reason it hit me hard this time and I blame not sleeping on the flight.  One of the big positives arriving home in Dublin last week was the positively balmy temperatures compared to what we had been putting up with in the big apple.

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Mini Rhubarb Crumble Tarts

There are hundreds of great recipes to enjoy the first rhubarb of the  season, but this is really one of my favourites.  Cooking the rhubarb  until it is tender with great flavours like vanilla, lemon and ginger  really make a great base for these little crumble tarts.  You can also use this mixture to make rhubarb crumble slices, simply add  the cooked rhubarb and crumble topping to a baking tin lined with a  basic sponge cake mixture.  Use wholewheat flour and nuts and seeds to make the crumble mixture a little healthier.  Experiment with the flavours, rhubarb goes really nicely with strawberries, the juice of an orange, star anise, and cinnamon.  Rather than making individual tarts this mixture can also be made into one large tart.

Makes 6 tarts
For the tarts
2 Sheets of ready to roll pastry
600g of fresh rhubarb (about 6 stalks)
120g of vanilla sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoon of cornflour
A generous pinch of ground ginger
Zest of 1 lemon

For the crumble:
75g Plain flour
75g Jumbo oat flakes
90g light brown Sugar

Preheat the oven to 200oC.

First things first, cut out 6 discs from the pastry to fit into mini tart tins with a removable base. Press the pastry into the tart tins, poke with a fork all over the base and and blind bake in the oven for 10 minutes until light brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Chop the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and place in a saucepan with the vanilla sugar, ginger, lemon zest and juice. Cook gently until the rhubarb is tender, this should take no more than 5-6 mins.

Mix the ingredients for the crumble together rubbing them together with your fingertips until you are left with chunky crumbs. Assemble the tarts by spooning 2 tablespoons of the soft rhubarb on top of the pastry cases and then top with a generous amount of the crumble mix. Place in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown on top.

Serve straight away with a good dollop of whipped cream!

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Bosch Shiny Red Hand Blender Competition!

If you haven’t got many kitchen gadgets to your name and you want to start small, a hand blender is one of the best ones to get yourself going.  It was one of the first big kitchen buys I ever made and they really do make life so much easier.  Being a more lightweight appliance I tend to use it more often than the big clunky ones that hide in my presses.  I get a lot of use of mine for smoothies, blending soups, whipping cream and the mini chopper attachment is great to whizz up ingredients for meat marinades!

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The Hungry Sumo New York Diet Washed Down By Some Blueberry Pancakes!

I think I am dealing with jetlag the same way I deal with manflu, which is essentially not very well.  As I write this I am in a catatonic state sprawled across my kitchen counter surrounded by a ridiculous amount of kitchenalia, which was accumulated on my visit to New York City last week.  A scene which is something similar to the result of a string of wild nights in but instead of empty glasses and a sticky floor I have a pile of heavy sparkly plates, an array of baking goodies which would make a clown wince, and various implements of torture and food preparation.

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New York Blueberry Oat Pancakes

Right just to try and attempt to make this American classic somewhat healthier I am using oat flour! It is so simple to make. Pile a portion of rolled oats into a food processor and whizz it until it becomes fine. The flour gives a mellow sweet taste to the food it is used in and is a great way to add extra fibre to recipes. If you don’t have any oats on hand, substitute with plain flour. This mix also works great for use on waffle irons.

Makes approximately 8–10 pancakes
100ml/4fl oz milk
120g/4oz oat flour
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon of salt
1⁄2 teaspoon of cinnamon
100g of blueberries

Add all the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl.

Measure the milk in a jug and add the egg yolks. Whisk lightly to combine.

Add to the dry ingredients and mix until blended.

In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they hold firm peaks. Fold gently into the batter until combined.

To cook simply add a heaped dessertspoonful of the mixture to a warm pan brushed with a little melted butter.

Plop in a few blueberries on the uncooked side and press them in gently, allow to cook until little bubbles start to appear and the edges become a little dry and then turn over to cook for about a minute until golden brown.

Serve with maple syrup, a dusting of icing sugar, bacon or whatever takes your fancy!

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Temple Street launches ‘The Great Irish Bake’ Campaign 2011!

One of the great things about what I do means that from time to time I get asked to become involved in different work for charities.  A few weeks ago, I got the chance to take a tour around Temple Street children’s hospital to see the amazing work they do and what exactly the money they fund raise for actually does.  What hit me the most is the sheer cost of everything, one piece of vital equipment can cost over and above 50,000 euro and they are in constant need of new pieces as technology improves and changes.  Everyone I spoke to was really dedicated to what they do and how they do it, a fantastic family atmosphere can be felt throughout the building and that in itself is really positive and very encouraging.  The campaign itself is all about baking and I am so excited about something that I know gets kids excited and involved in!

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Simple Prawn and Garlic Pasta Supper and my stand-by ingredient!

I have to be honest; I have two stand-by ingredients which I can transform into lots and lots of different dishes. The first is a roast chicken, which can be used in salads, soups and sambos. Then there’s pasta – as imaginative as I get in the kitchen, pasta still tends to be my go-to ingredient, perhaps because I can be safe in the knowledge that in less than 15 minutes I can be guzzling down something filling and tasty.

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Simple Prawn and Garlic Pasta Supper

This simple little supper hardly calls for a recipe at all. It uses lots of storecupboard ingredients to pump up the volume and make the best of the fresh prawns. You could use cooked frozen prawns here or maybe some slices of smoked salmon. The fresh flavours of white wine and lemon juice really lend themselves well to seafood.

Serves 4
400g of spaghetti
6 prawns per person, peeled
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
200ml of white wine (about a wine glassful)
Juice of 1 lemon
90g of butter (about 6 tablespoons)
A generous handful of parsley, finely chopped

First things first, get the pasta on the boil, cook it according to the instructions on the pack. Drain and toss in a little olive oil and set aside. Place a pan over a medium heat and add a little olive oil, gently fry the garlic and chilli for about one minute.

Add in the prawns and fry for three minutes, tossing until they have changed colour and are cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside. Pour the wine and the lemon juice straight into the saucepan and bring to the boil. Let it simmer away for a minute or two and then stir in the butter until it’s melted and add half the parsley.

Add the prawns and the pasta and toss until everything is evenly combined.

Serve straight away with the remaining chopped parsley and a generous seasoning of sea salt and ground black pepper.

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Chinese New Year Recipes and Inspiration!

I am completely and utterly obsessed with Asian cuisine — so much so, that I was delighted to write this piece as it gave me a very good excuse to spend more than an hour in the Asian supermarket picking up ingredients. It is fascinating to trawl through each aisle and discover new ingredients; that’s what essentially drew me to it in the first place. I always pick up something I hadn’t planned on: frozen spring-roll wrappers, a big bag of star anise or Szechuan peppercorns.

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Pineapple Tarts

The pineapple jam does take some time to prepare, but do make sure that all the liquid has evaporated and you are left with a thick sticky mixture. There is another variation on Pineapple tarts which is done by rolling the pastry around little balls of the pineapple jam, which also look quite impressive!

For the dough
200g butter, at room temperature
60g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
350g plain flour
2 tbsps cornflour
Pinch salt
1 egg yolk, to glaze

For the filling
2 x 400g tins sliced pineapple
175g sugar
1 tsp cornflour

Prepare the filling first by thoroughly draining the pineapple, then blitz it in a food processor until smooth. Place the pineapple in a saucepan with the sugar and bring to a steady simmer, stirring until it becomes thick and any liquid has evaporated.

Mix the cornflour with a teaspoon of water and pour into the pineapple mixture. Stir through and leave in the fridge to cool completely. While the pineapple filling is cooling, prepare the dough. Beat the butter and icing sugar until light and pale. Beat in two egg yolks and then sift in the flour, cornflour and salt little by little, mixing in with a wooden spoon until the dough is formed.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the dough on a floured work surface to about cm in thickness and then cut out rounds about 5cm in diameter. Place the circular discs on a non-stick baking sheet and score with a skewer in a crosshatch for decoration. Brush with a little egg yolk all over each disc.

When the pineapple filling has cooled, roll it into little balls and place in the centre of each pastry disc. Place in the oven for 15 minutes until the tarts are golden brown. Allow to cool, then serve.

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