Donal Skehan

My Highlights of 2013…


Phew is that it? This has been one of my most busy years to date and one I am so thankful for- I've had absolutely massive support this year so a big big thank you for all the tweets, facebook messages, instagram, blog and youtube comments and of course to everyone who has supported the book, tv show and magazines.  I quite literally could not do it without you so a big thanks!  It's been a fairly full on year but one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to make time to enjoy the great moments with friends and family.  It can be easy to forget to do just this and it's incredibly important.  I've been busy making my 2014 plans over the last few weeks and there's lots of exciting things lined up but until then, I'm going to take a look back at some of my most favourite moments of 2013!

Wild Flour Kate_24

{ January }

– I kicked off the New Year with a swim in the cold Irish sea with my school friends!  A great way to kick off the year.
– As part of my New Years resolution my aim was to collaborate with lots more inspiring people and myself and Kate Packwood from the Wild Flour Bakery came together to produce this drool worthy post.
– All through Christmas 2012 I had been shooting the recipes for HomeCooked and by the middle of January I had finally finished all the recipe images for the book.
– The Swedish princess cake I had shot for Food & Wine Magazine made the cover for the January/February issue.
– We had dinner at the now deservedly Michelin starred Mount Juliet Lady Helen restaurant in Kilkenny.  Well worth a visit!


Jerusalem Artichoke Soup_15

{ February }

– The last of our Jerusalem artichokes were taken out of the ground and made into a silky smooth soup.  I also finally finished the kitchen dresser I'd been working on through 2012.  Recipe and blog post here.
– I flew to Manchester with my fellow Junior MasterChef judge John Torode for the BBC worldwide showcase lunch, where Junior MasterChef was sold to TV networks across the globe. Exciting!
– Made this chocolate cake and it went like… well, gold dust!
– After a very long Winter there were signs the seasons were changing so I ordered my seeds from Brown Envelope Seeds and had some time to clear our vegetable garden.
– I was in Bristol for 2 days to film a series of videos for the BBC Food Website.


FEAST FireHouse Bakery_40

{ March }

– I gave the blog a bit of a refresh with a new look and perfected my homemade pizza making skills! Blog post here.
– Spent 5 very cold days in NYC at pitching meetings.
– Highlight meal at Korean restaurant Hanjan, where Pork fat sticky rice cakes slathered in a sweet and spicy chilli sauce were devoured.
– Got to visit some cool restaurants and shops in NYC: Salvation Taco, Sur La Table, Dean and Deluca, Fishs Eddy, Buvette, Katz Deli, West Elm, Buttermilk Channel.
– Took a chance on a wild idea and started work on my first food magazine, FEAST: A Dinner Journal.  Headed to west Cork to shoot at the Firehouse Bakery.
– The German edition of Kitchen Hero: Great Food For Less was released!

March 2013

Continue reading >>

An Irish Christmas…

Food&Wine Xmas Shoot 2013_11

This is a blog post I wrote for American website The Kitchn, who are running a wonderful series called Christmas around the world in which bloggers from different nations describe their Christmas:

I grew up in Dublin, Ireland and come from a big family, and although it was only myself and my brother, there are five siblings on my dad's side and six on my mom's, which meant the house was always filled with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents around Christmas time.

For an Irish family Christmas, the traditional dinner is key and getting it right is a real art. Roast turkey and stuffing, clove-studded baked ham, crispy goose fat potatoes, steamed Brussels sprouts, buttery sweet carrots, crispy parsnips, cranberry sauce, bread sauce, gravy, phew, there's a lot to think of!


One of the greatest pieces of advice I learnt from my mother around this time of year, was to delegate! That was something she did and still does with great ease and is why I have such lovely memories of a bustling kitchen on Christmas Eve, where teams of our relations would be peeling spuds and Brussels sprouts and chopping onions for stuffing, with the windows all steamed up and Christmas music blaring from the radio.

Continue reading >>

God Jul From Sweden…


We are celebrating our Christmas in Sweden this year as we do every second year.  It's quite different from an Irish Christmas in that they celebrate on the 24th so while everyone back home is still frantically rushing around on Christmas eve, in Sweden we will be settling down to the Christmas dinner and opening gifts.

Continue reading >>

Swedish Christmas Porridge

Food&Wine Xmas Shoot 2013_13The secret to this delicious porridge is to steep the porridge oats in the milk in the fridge, as leaving them overnight makes them lovely and soft so that they cook much quicker. They can also be made the night before and reheated gently in a pan on the hob.

Serves 6-8
150g porridge oats
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
675ml milk, plus a little extra if necessary
2 ripe apples, such Egremont Russets
6-8 tablespoons clear honey
6-8 tablespoons Irish whiskey
225ml cream

Continue reading >>

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Ham

Food&Wine Xmas Shoot 2013_1This is my version of the classic oeufs en cocotte with an Irish twist. If you’ve baked your ham on Christmas eve this would make an excellent start to Christmas morning or it would be lovely as a simple supper.

Serves 4

Continue reading >>

Christmas Chocolate, Orange and Cranberry Granola

Food&Wine Xmas Shoot 2013_4
One of my favourite ways to start the day is with a bowl of homemade granola but this recipe has some extra special ingredients to get everyone into the festive spirit. It can be made well in advance and would also make a lovely gift if you are lucky enough to be going to stay at someone’s house for Christmas.

Serves 6-8
250g jumbo oats
100g chopped hazelnuts or almonds
50g pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
finely grated rind of 1 orange
150g dried cranberries
100g plain chocolate drops
organic vanilla yoghurt and orange-blossom honey, to serve

Continue reading >>

Mince Pie Tart

Food & Wine Xmas Shoot 2012_23

This is a total cheat’s Christmas tart.ย  It uses storecupboard ingredients and shop bought mince meat.ย  Serve it warm from the oven with a good dollop of whipped cream and your guests will be mightily impressed.ย  If you wanted to bulk out the filling you can add a finely sliced cooking apple for a bit more bite.

Serves 4-6
For the pastry:
170g flour
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
100g cold butter, cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
2 tablespoons of water

For the filling:
420g jar of good quality mince meat
A sprinkle of cinnamon
1 large free range egg, beaten

Place the flour and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.ย Add the butter and rub in using your finger tips until you have a rough breadcrumb like mixture.ย Add the sugar and mix through with a spoon.ย Add the water slowly until a dough comes together.ย Form a ball with your hands, cover in cling film and place in the fridge to chill for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200หšC/Gas Mark 6.ย Roll the pastry dough out to about half a centimetre in thickness and line a 23cm fluted tart tin with it. Make sure to cut out little stars from the pastry to decorate with later!ย Prick the base with a fork and fill with tin foil, shiny side down and ceramic baking beans. Place in the oven and blind bake for 10 minutes, remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes.ย Fill the pastry base with the mincemeat mixture and top with the pastry stars.ย  Brush with egg and sprinkle over a little cinnamon.ย Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown.ย Serve cut into slices with a drizzle of cream!

Continue reading >>

Chocolate Ginger Truffles

Food & Wine Xmas Shoot 2012_12
These may look like ordinary chocolate truffles but I've add some finely chopped stem ginger which adds an incredible extra dimension and wonderful sweet heat.  This is my basic truffle mixture so you could easily add other flavors like Frangelico, or some chopped roasted hazelnuts.  The wonderful thing about making these truffles is that they are incredibly simple to prepare and are highly impressive!

Makes about 12 truffles
100g of biona organic stem ginger, finely chopped
200g of good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
150ml of single cream
Cocoa powder for dusting
Place the chocolate in a bowl and set aside.
Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan and then pour over the chocolate. Using a whisk, mix the cream through the chocolate until it is completely melted.
Add in stem ginger.
Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for about an hour until it is firm enough to scoop.
Scoop out tablespoon amount onto a lined baking tray.  Place back in the fridge for 15 mins and then take them out again and roll into little balls.
Dust a clean work surface with cocoa powder and then roll the truffles to coat.
Place back in the fridge for an hour or so until firm.

Continue reading >>

Rich Dark Hot Chocolate

Food & Wine Xmas Shoot 2012_16
This hot chocolate recipe not only produces a wonderfully thick and frothy drink but I add orange zest to add something a little Christmassy to it.  You can also make this with milk chocolate if you have a sweet tooth.  Serve it with some chocolate truffles and it will get you instantly in the Christmas spirit.  
Serves 2
150g dark chocolate
450ml of milk
200ml of cream
Zest of one orange
1 tablespoon of caster sugar
Add the milk, cream and orange zest to a saucepan and place over a medium heat.
Bring to just before the boil and then take off the heat.
Add the chocolate and sugar and mix through until the sugar has dissolved.
Strain through a sieve to catch the zest and then pour into glasses and enjoy!

Continue reading >>

Cranberry & White Chocolate Cookies

Food & Wine Xmas Shoot 2012_5
These make wonderfully chewy and crumbly cookies which are easily adaptable, just use whatever ingredients you might have in the storecupboard. Feel free to swap out the chocolate and raisins with other dried fruit, nuts or seeds.

Makes 24 cookies
225g of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
160g of caster sugar
120g of light brown sugar
2 large free range eggs
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
190g of plain flour
240g of rolled oats
80g of dried cranberries
100g of good quality white chocolate chips

Continue reading >>

One Tray Artisan Full Irish

Food&Wine Xmas Shoot 2013_11Nowadays everyone is so much more conscious of eating well to kick start the day. However there are occasions when a full Irish is required and nothing else will do.

Serves 6-8
8 large butcher style sausages
8 organic flat chestnut mushrooms, stems trimmed
4 organic ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half
rapeseed oil, to drizzle
8 slices black pudding
8 organic eggs
8 rindless bacon rashers
1 large Batch loaf, cut into slices
farmhouse butter, for spreading
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Continue reading >>

Buttermilk Hotcakes with Highbank Orchard glazed Bacon

Food&Wine Xmas Shoot 2013_8If you havenโ€™t come across Highback Orchard syrup make the effort to find it. Just like pancake batter, this hotcake batter can be happily stored for up to 24 hours, covered with clingfilm in the fridge.

Makes 14-16 Hotcakes
20 rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers
about 2 tablespoons Highbank Orchard syrup
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
250g ricotta cheese
175ml buttermilk
2 tablespoon Highbank Orchard syrup
4 eggs, separated
150g plain flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g butter

Put the bacon under a grill until crisp and sizzling. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside to cool completely. Chop half of the bacon into small strips and leave the other half for later.

To make the hotcakes, Beat the ricotta, buttermilk and egg yolks in a large bowl. Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a separate bowl and then add to the ricotta mixture and beat until smooth. Place the egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Using a large metal spoon, fold half into the ricotta mixture to loosen the mix and then fold in the cooled bacon strips until just combined.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan. Lightly grease with a small portion of the butter and drop two tablespoons per hotcake into the pan โ€“ donโ€™t try to cook more than three in one batch. Cook over a low to medium heat for 2 minutes or until golden, then turn over and cook for another minute or so until puffed up and golden. Loosely wrap in a clean tea towel while you finish cooking the remainder.

Meanwhile, brush the remaining bacon with the Highbank orchard syrup and flash back under the grill to glaze. Arrange the buttermilk hotcakes on warmed plates and put the glazed bacon rashers on top to serve.

Continue reading >>