Donal Skehan

Guest Blog Post: The Veggies and Me Menu!

Megan is a professional photographer who lives in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband James.ย  You can check out her beautifully illustrated blog Veggies and Me for lots of delicious vegetarian ideas…ย  Megan has a fresh and delicious little vegetarian menu which she has kindly shared here! :)

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Quinoa and Green Salad with Mango Dressing

Quinoa is such a nutritious and versatile pantry item. It makes great salads and who could say no to a fresh summery dressing made with beautiful mangos.

Serves 2
cup quinoa
2 large handfuls of green beans
3 cups mixed salad leaves

Mango Dressing

2 ripe mangos
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 cup fresh basil leaves
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cook the quinoa as per the packet instructions. Set the cooked quinoa aside and allow to cool. Blanch the green beans and refresh them in cold water to keep the bright green colour.

Add the flesh from the mangos, balsamic vinegar, basil leaves and olive oil to a large jug and blend with a hand blender briefly.

Add the cold quinoa, beans and salad leaves to a large bowl. Pour a generous amount of the mango dressing onto the salad and toss.

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Grilled Peaches with Lemon Butter

One of my favorite things about summer is stone fruit. I think warm peaches with smooth, zesty lemon butter is a great way of topping off a summery feat with friends.

Seves 2
4 fresh ripe peaches

Lemon Butter:
4 free-range organic eggs
ยพ cup rapadura whole cane sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
cup lemon juice
ยผ cup water
125g handmade country butter

Lemon Butter:

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir continuously.ย Stir until the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Poor into a hot sterilized jar and seal when cold. This lemon butter keeps for 4 weeks in the fridge.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay the peach halves on an oven tray and grill for 10 minutes.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of the lemon butter into the center of the peach halves and return to the grill for another 2 minutes.ย Serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice-cream.

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Quick and Zingy Supper and Storecupboard Stockup!

This week we were in dire need of a serious food shop, to stock up the fridge, freezer and kitchen presses. It’s probably one of the most important things a home cook can do because with a little bit of imagination and some simple ingredients on hand, wonders can be created! For me it’s the little star ingredients that will sit happily waiting for until you’re inspired. Things like halloumi, feta and goats cheese, different cuts of pasta, tinned beans, tomatoes, chickpeas and store cupboard stars like anchovies, olives, and capers, can really make a dish sing.

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Zesty Brocolli and Goats Cheese Orecchiette

This makes the perfect midweek supper, which can be easily thrown together with a few simple ingredients.

Serves 4
300g of orecchiette or other small pasta pieces
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
150g of goats cheese
A good glug of extra virgin olive oil to serve
Sea salt and ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and drop the broccoli florets in. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until just tender, then remove from the pot and refresh in a bowl filled with ice cold water.

Bring the pot of water back to the boil, add in the orecchiette and cook according to the instructions on the pack or for about 12-15 minutes, until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, add a good drop of olive oil to a frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the chilli flakes and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Drain the broccoli and then add it the pan, tossing to combine.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and place it back in the pot. Toss through the broccoli, chilli and garlic and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Then add the lemon zest and crumble in the goats cheese.

Gently fold the goats cheese in so that it doesn’t break up and melt completely.

Serve the pasta straight away with a final generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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I Like Big Buns and I Cannot Lie!

No otha’ bruthas’ can deny… and so on… What is about sweet things like big dirty chocolate cakes, drippy sticky toffee pudding, and oozing eclairs that always seem to grab people’s attention?ย  I could write fresh and healthy recipes everyday for the rest of my life, and they would still never get the same reaction as the oooohing and aaaahing that a great big, filthy slice of gooey, dark chocolate brownie manages to draw. Some of the first recipes I ever cooke, were baking ones, and to this day it’s one of my favourite forms of cooking in the kitchen.ย  I have cooked Swedish cinnamon buns to their death at this stage, but they have to be one of the best baking discoveries I’ve come across in the last 5 years.

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Dark Chocolate Swirl Buns

This recipe is based on my Swedish cinnamon buns from my first book Goodย  Mood Food and shows just how adaptable the base recipe actually is. Theย  dough is a fantastic sweet bread dough, which can take many differentย  flavour variations in the filling. Try adding summer berries, choppedย  walnuts or lemon curd to the butter filling to mix it up!

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Summer Berry Sweet Pizza and a change of seasons…

At the moment life is sitting quite happily in limbo, as we fall between the seasons of late Summer and early Autumn.ย  There is still warmth in the air, yet I’m beginning to be drawn back to the more heavy and slow cooked dishes.ย  While it can easily be argued that Ireland got a fairly awful Summer this year, I haven’t been left short on Summer produce.ย  My tomatoes, while slightly late are starting to turn a rich red and my proud pumpkin patch which has long been developing a personality of its own, now sits watching our living room overlooking slightly ominously, ready to engulf the house with ever expanding tendrils, the moment we turn our backs.ย  While everything is in full bloom and plants are still growing, said pumpkin patch is a great reminder that, it won’t be more that a month or two, before I will be cutting the stalks of what I hope will be heavy orange fruits, reminding me further of the fact that the days are getting shorter and colder.

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Summer Berry Sweet Pizza

I love this surprisingly delicious dessert. Sweet pizzas are definitely the way forward, and you can use fresh or frozen berries here.

Makes 2
255g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
tsp salt
1 x 7.5g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
175ml/6fl oz tepid water
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling
6 tbsps nutella
300g mixed berries
100g white chocolate grated
A few mint sprigs, to serve

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Whisk together the yeast, water and honey and allow to stand for a few minutes until frothy, then stir through the olive oil.ย Make a well in the flour and pour in the wet mix. Using your fingertips, slowly bring the flour in from the sides and continue to mix until a rough dough forms.

Turn out the dough on to a floured work surface and knead for about five minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little extra flour until it becomes smooth.

Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm and set aside in a warm spot for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface, then knead again for a minute and place back in the bowl to rise for a further 10 minutes.

Pre-heat a pizza stone on a hot barbecue for about 30 minutes or in the oven at 200oC.ย Divide the dough into three pieces and roll out into rounds as thinly as possible.

Pop one of the bases on the pizza stone and spread the base with the nutella. Add the mixed berries and sprinkle with the grated white chocolate.ย Cover with a lid and bake the pizza on the barbecue for about eight minutes or until the crust becomes crisp.

Repeat with the remaining dough. Decorate with the mint sprigs.

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If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

During our forest strolls in Sweden, (yes we take forest strolls now!) we often encountered groups of people carrying baskets full of beautiful Chanterelle mushrooms. A glance of acknowledgement followed by a secretive scurry back in to the woods would be as far as communication would go. Swedes take mushroom hunting extremely seriously and around this time of year, with each new summer rain mushrooms plump up and fill the forest. A good picking spot, once found is hardly ever shared, because the mushrooms will continue to to spring up in the same area.

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Wild Mushroom Risotto

This is my basic risotto recipe, which is essentially a blank canvas forย  any ingredients you want to add. Try mixing through roasted squash andย  crispy pancetta, or an Arrabiata sauce for a delicious alternative toย  mushrooms.

Serves 4
200g of Chanterelle mushrooms
1 litre Chicken stock
150g butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
300g risotto rice
75ml white wine
150g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Extra virgin olive oil to serve

Fry the mushrooms in half the butter until slightly coloured. Allow any water from the mushrooms to fry off. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and simmer gently.ย Melt the remaining butter and the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and gently fry for about 10 minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir until it is coated.

Pour in the white wine and let it bubble until nearly evaporated, then start adding the warm stock, about two ladlefuls at a time, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more. Continue to add the stock until the rice is tender and has a creamy coating. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

Add the remaining butter, mushrooms and grated Parmesan cheese and gently stir though. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

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