Donal Skehan

HomeCooked Cover Shoot!

HomeCooked Cover Shoot_12 copy

Yesterday I was up very early to catch a flight to London to shoot the cover for my new cookbook.  I don't mind early mornings normally but a 4.30am start certainly has a bit of a sting in the tail.  A good nap on the flight over sorted me out and I was raring to go!  Martin and Lucy from Harper Collins design team had been planning and plotting cover concept designs over the last few weeks so it was great to see them finally come to life.  I was also very excited to be shooting with top photographer Myles New who has worked with Lorraine Pascale, Rick Stein, John Torode, Gordon Ramsey and many more. 

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Lights, camera, action on new TV series…


What a week! I've just come up for air… For the last 7 days our house has been filled with lights, camera and plenty of action.  Filming for the next series of "Kitchen Hero: HomeCooked" started last weekend at the West Waterford Food Festival in Dungarvan. Unfortunately we got completely washed out of it on the Saturday but filming went on and a good few dedicated home cook's watched on, as I cooked up, Chilli and Lemongrass Chicken and Dungarvan Beer Batter Fish with Rosti Potato Cakes and Minty Mushy Peas.  It was the first outing of Gertrude the very cool Citroen H Van (from I'll be traveling around Ireland in and despite the rain she looked great!

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Hitting the road and Smoky Fish Cakes…

Fish Cakes Minty Peas_5

What a crazy week we've had! From an incredible food photoshoot on Tuesday at a beautiful old church at, a visit from Gertrude our new vintage van and as I write this, we are on the way to visit lovely little spring lambs on the hills of Connemara.  We are starting the filming for the third series of Kitchen Hero this weekend and we will be setting up at St. John's Castle in Dungarvan on Saturday as part of the West Waterford Food Festival.  It's been a bit of a scramble to get everything together but we now have our full set organised and next week we will begin the filming of a whole section for the new show in my home kitchen focusing on lots of baking recipes. 

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Smoky Fish Cakes with Minty Peas and Tartare Sauce

Fish Cakes Minty Peas_8

Fish pie has to be one of my ultimate comfort food dishes but for lighter and brighter days this dish is the perfect solution for those still craving those wonderful flavours.  I coat my fish cakes in a little polenta, which, when fried gives a wonderful golden, crunchy crumb.  These fish cakes are best eaten fresh but if you don't get through them all, they freeze beautifully.

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Anyone For A Dirty Big Chocolate Cake?

Millionaire Chocolate Cake_5

After a long day, shooting some lovely food images for a project I'm very excited to share with you, in the next few weeks, I am sitting here transferring images while drooling at these pictures of chocolate cake.  Baking has without a doubt become ridiculously popular in the last few years and its popularity has been cemented by the success of shows like The Great British Bake Off.  It never fails to amaze me that the most popular posts I blog about always tend to have butter and sugar on the ingredient list. 

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Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Mini Pavlova Stacks

Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Pavlova_4

Meringue has to be one of my favorite baking recipes to make in the kitchen.  With beautiful stiff, sweet white peaks how could you resist! The addition of cornflour and white wine vinegar here results in a wonderfully chewy marshmallow centre a crisp exterior.

Makes 8 mini pavlovas
250g icing sugar
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons of cornflour
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
500ml of double cream, whipped
250g of raspberries
100g dark chocolate

Preheat the oven to 150˚C/Gas Mark 2.  Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Place the icing sugar and egg whites in a standing food mixer and whisk on high for 10 minutes until glossy white peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold in the cornflour and the white wine vinegar. Spoon 16 tablespoons of the meringue mixture between the two baking trays and using a mini offset spatula spread and flatten to form the mini meringue discs. Bake for 45 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the door ajar and allow to cool in the oven completely.

Assemble the mini pavlovas, by spooning a tablespoon of the double cream on to 8 of the meringue discs.  Topp with a few raspberries and top with another meringue layer, then another spoonful of cream and some berries then chocolate shavings. Repeat with the remaining discs. Serve straight away.

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Vietnamese Coffee Éclairs

Vietnamese Coffee Eclairs

Anyone who has ever visited Vietnam will have come across the mini top hat shaped coffee filters which sit above small glasses filled with a tablespoon or so of condensed milk.  It makes for a dark, creamy and sweet coffee which is enjoyed hot or poured over ice.  These eclairs are a nod to both that wonderful coffee and the French influence which is quite apparent in Vietnam.

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Buttermilk Glazed Doughnuts

Buttermilk Glazed Doughnuts_5

I can’t resist a good doughnut and these ones glazed with a tangy buttermilk icing are quite special.  You could of course forgo the glaze and pipe them with a little strawberry jam passed through a sieve for a more traditional doughnut.

Makes 10
For the doughnuts:

550g of plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 x 7g sachet of dried active yeast
50g of caster sugar
125ml of milk
100ml of water
2 large free range egg
50g of butter, melted
Sunflower oil, to fry
Sprinkles to decorate

For the buttermilk glaze
125g icing sugar
1 tsp water
4 tsp buttermilk

Place the flour, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the milk, the water, the eggs and butter to the bowl and using your hands or a wooden spoon combine until you have a dough.  The dough is a little sticky to work with but add a little extra flour if you find it hard to work with. Turn out onto a clean work surface dusted lightly with flour and knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place back in the bowl cover with cling film and a damp cloth and place in a warm dark spot to rise for 50 minutes until doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls.  Transfer to a baking tray dusted with a little flour and cover with a damp cloth to rise again for 30 minutes. Batch cook the doughnuts in a deep fat fryer or a large pot filled with sunflower oil at 180˚C for 2-3 minutes either side or until golden brown.  Drain on a paper plate lined with kitchen paper.

For the buttermilk glaze, mix all together in a bowl, add more buttermilk if mixture is too stiff, or more icing sugar if it’s too wet. Dip the doughnuts into the glaze, allowing any excess to drip off before transferring to a wire rack and decorating with sprinkles. Allow to set for 1 hour.

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Gold Dust Chocolate Cake

Millionaire Chocolate Cake_4

This a proper show stopper of a chocolate cake and perfect for special occasions.  The edible gold powder can be bought online or in select baking stores.

Serves 8-12
Butter for greasing
350g self-raising flour
5 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300g caster sugar
4 large free-range eggs, beaten
300ml sun flower oil
300ml milk
4tbsp golden syrup

For the frosting:
60g cocoa powder
220g butter, at room temperature
450g cream cheese
375g icing sugar
1 teaspoon of edible gold powder

Preheat the oven to 170°C, grease two 23 cm cake tins with removable bases and line with parchment paper. Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl of a standalone mixer. Add the sugar and mix well. Measure the wet ingredients into a measuring jug. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the contents of the jug. Beat together with the mixture until you have a smooth mixture. Spoon the cake batter into the lined tins and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool before transferring to a wire rack until completely cool.  If the cakes have to much of a rise in the centre, simply cut away the imperfections with a bread knife so you have a flat top.

To make the frosting, place the butter and cream cheese in a bowl and beat for 2 minutes until combined. Then gradually sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder, using a spatula to mix through until you have a smooth, spreadable frosting. Transfer one cake to a cakestand and spread 1/4 of the frosting on top using a long offset spatula, then place the second cake on top and spread 1/3 of the remaining mixture all over the top and sides.  Place the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes.  This is known as a crumb coat which prevents crumbs getting into your final frosting and ensures a smooth finish. Remove the cake from the fridge and spread over the remaining frosting, saving a little if you wish to pipe little peaks on the top.

Dust with a little edible gold powder to finish.

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HomeCooked Newsletter | April 2013

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Wild Garlic Profile ShotHi folks!

Well, you've probably noticed by now, that the website is looking a little different!  I'm thrilled to have it back to looking like a blog and hopefully you're finding it much easier to browse back through old blog posts and through the recipe database filled with over 250 recipes.  If there's anthing you'd like to see on the blog or any suggestions, pop me a comment below.

After a very cold start to the year, with the clocks changing, it is finally starting to feel like spring with longer evenings and wild garlic popping up in the forest. I've been busy getting my kitchen garden ready for the growing season and I've just started planting out the seedlings, which have been tucked up in the greenhouse, safe from the cold weather.  I love growing my own veggies, which was why it was an obvious choice to support the GIY and Innocent Smoothies Sow & Grow Campaign for a second year in a row- You can read all about it and check out some of the images below.

We are coming to the final stage of my next book, Kitchen Hero: HomeCooked, which will be out in October and I'm thrilled to say, it's looking fantastic.  It certainly makes the time we spent shooting the food images before Christmas, all worthwhile.  To accompany the book, I'm thrilled to say there will be a 13-part TV series which will air in May and then again in October on RTÉ One, proudly sponsored by SPAR.  We're going to be on the road this series and stopping at festivals across Ireland to demonstrate simple HomeCooked recipes.  Check out details below, to see if we'll be filming near you!

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Sensitive smoke alarms and Lemon & Mint Griddled Chicken…

Mint & Lemon Chicken_2 The big joke in our family growing up was that if the smoke alarm went off, we knew dinner was on the way.  My mom used to get a terrible slagging and ever so slightly flustered over this and would invariably throw the offending article out the back door (normally toast left under the grill for too long).  I, rather cruelly, always scoffed at this and swore that when I had my own kitchen, it would never happen, clearly she wasn't paying enough attention.

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Lemon and Mint Griddled Chicken with Spiced Chickpeas and Flatbreads

Mint & Lemon Chicken_6

Mid week meals that can be made with little hassle are always high on my agenda when it comes to recipe writing.  The flatbreads I serve with this simple chicken dish involve no rising or baking.  The dough is made up and then cooked right on a hot griddle pan.

Serves 4
4 chicken breasts fillets
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped 1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika Olive oil for drizzling and frying

For the flatbreads:
300g strong white flour
1 tablespoon of nigella seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
50ml rapeseed oil, plus extra for brushing
100ml water

Place the dry ingredients for the flatbreads in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the oil and water and using a wooden spoon, mix together to form a rough dough.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead gently for 2 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough into ping pong ball sized pieces and roll out as thin as possible.

Heat a large griddle pan over a medium high heat and brush each flat bread with a little oil to coat. Fry the flat breads until the have a good colour on both sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside on a wire wrack.

Drizzle the chicken breasts with a little oil and then sprinkle with the mint and lemon zest and place between two sheets of parchment paper and bash with a rolling pin until 1cm thin. Fry the chicken breasts on the griddle pan for 3-4 minutes either side until cooked through completely.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat and tumble in the chickpeas until heated through.  Mash with the back of a fork leaving some whole for texture and then stir through the lemon juice, cumin, paprika and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Serve the chicken with flatbreads and the mashed chickpeas and a side salad.

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