Donal Skehan
My instagram
  • Very excited to be filming at this brilliant little street food market tomorrow for lunch in Hanoi! #DonalVietnam
  • I have yet to meet a film crew who trust me behind the wheel so here I am with my buddy TT biking around Hanoi! Better him than me the traffic is nuts here! :) #DonalVietnam
  • Was up at 3.30am this morning to catch these Vietnamese ladies harvest young green rice- a delicacy in Hanoi at this time of year! Here they are using a machine to separate the rice from the stems... #DonalVietnam
  • Egg coffee for breakfast in Hanoi! Sounds very strange but a combination of egg yolks, condensed milk, sugar, butter and laughing cow cheese is whisked until fluffy and thick and served with hot coffee! Incredible rich taste- like a liquid tiramisu! #DonalVietnam
  • Filmed at one of Hanoi's oldest and most famous restaurants today, Cha Ca La Vong, where they have been serving the same one dish for over 100 years- turmeric fish which is marinated for 12 hours with galangal and fish sauce then threaded onto bamboo skewers and chargrilled over hot coals- the fish pieces are then fried in shallot oil and served to the table on a hot plate where diners mix in dill and spring onions and serve over rice vermicelli noodles with peanuts, coriander, chilli and shrimp paste. Hugely popular here and I can see why! #DonalVietnam
  • Street food at the bustling market in Sapa- this lady was selling spicy pigs ear salad... #DonalVietnam
  • Morning market shopping in Sapa! On the way to Hanoi... #DonalVietnam
  • BBQ Pork with ginger, turmeric, mint and toasted sesame seeds... #DonalVietnam
  • Just can't get over the stunning scenery here! Not bad for a Tuesday! #DonalVietnam
  • On the streets of Sapa making apple wine with apples grown by the Hmong tribe... #DonalVietnam
  • Sad to say goodbye to our fantastic Red Dao hosts for the past three days... Heading to Hanoi tomorrow to focus on street food! #DonalVietnam
  • The incredible dry store at the top of a Red Dao tribe house- here they store corn, rice and pumpkins through the winter. The kitchen is just underneath so the heat and smoke helps to dry the produce out... #DonalVietnam
  • Brilliant few days filming with the Red Dao tribe just outside Sapa! #DonalVietnam with @jonnyrocksville @lenocks...
  • Best experience of the day- a traditional herbal bath with herbs picked from the mountain and steeped in boiling water! It is used to soak the muscles after a hard day in the rice paddies! Nothing like taking a bath with a big group of strangers watching! :) #DonalVietnam
  • This little girl is eating sticky rice cooked in a bamboo shoot! The rice is stuffed into the hollow shoot and sealed with a banana leaf, then boiled until tender... Then the whole rice filled bamboo shoot is grilled over an open fire- it results in a chewy sweet rice cylinder with the most incredible texture! Really special! #DonalVietnam
  • The colourful and detailed clothing the women of the Red Dao tribe wear can take up to a year to embroider by hand... #DonalVietnam
  • Incredible day spent learning from and cooking with the Red Dao tribe in North West Vietnam- their are 5 different tribes in this area and each has their own language and distinctive traditional clothing... #DonalVietnam
  • View from my breakfast table! Stayed in Sa Pa last night high in the mountains, 1500 meters above sea level... Off to spend the day with a local Red Dao family to learn more about their traditions... #DonalVietnam
  • Have just eaten from this fairly intimating platter of mystery meat! You choose what you want from pig tongue, liver, heart and blood sausage and it gets boiled up and served with a fiery hot dipping sauce with chilli, meat broth, fish sauce and spring onions. Also interesting they eat it with potato noodles rather than rice noodles, in broth and mint... Swallow the fear, get in there and eat like the locals do! #DonalVietnam
  • Chicken for sale at Bac Ha market- incredible experience, like nothing else, have whiplash from everything I have to look at! #DonalVietnam
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Dark-Chocolate Beetroot Cupcakes

Don’t be nervous about using beetroot in these cupcakes. They help make a rich chocolate batter and there is just a faint, sweet earthiness.

Makes 9 to 12
100g dark chocolate
200g cooked beetroot, puréed with a blender
110g caster sugar
110g soft butter, softened and cut into small pieces
2 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
50ml milk

Chocolate frosting:
110g butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
325g icing sugar
4 tbsps cocoa powder
75ml double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line the bun tray with paper cases.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and then stir in the puréed beetroot.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Mix in the flour, baking powder, milk and the chocolate and beetroot mix.

Divide the batter evenly among the paper cases and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until firm. Allow the cupcakes to stand for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

To make the chocolate frosting, beat the butter and vanilla extract together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then, add the icing sugar and cocoa powder, a little at a time, to the double cream until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Using a palate knife, frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool.

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Zingy Beetroot, Feta Cheese, Cous cous Salad

You could use any roast vegetable here really, but I particularly love  the combination of the earthy beetroot and the spiky feta cheese. I use  cous cous which is incredibly easy to prepare, but you could also try  using bulghur wheat which is healthier alternative and just as easy to prepare.

Serves 4
4 large cooked beetroot, sliced in quarters
200g of feta cheese
200g of couscous
2 teaspoon of vegetable stock granules
100g of pine nuts, toasted

Dressing:
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Sea salt and ground black pepper to season

Whisk together the ingredients for dressing and set aside.

Put the cous cous in a bowl with the stock granules and cover with boiling water, cover with cling wrap and leave until all the water has been soaked up and the cous cous is nice a plump!  Using a fork fluff up the cous cous when it’s ready.

Toss in the beetroot, along with the dressing, pine nuts and feta cheese.

Serve straightaway or allow to sit for a little to allow the flavours to develop.

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Roast Beetroot, Feta and Bulgur Wheat Salad

Is it just me or does anyone else think beetroot gets a bad rap? I guess it’s had years of being pickled and prodded and denied all it’s pure beauty. The method I use in this recipe is my favourite way to cook it and you are left with a delicious tender vegetable with a real sweet and earthy flavour. Accompanied by a few complimentary friends and you have a spikey and robust Winter salad which will keep you going long into the New Year. I had a few leftover boiled baby potatoes which I popped in the oven also to crisp up, they turned out to make a great crispy addition!

Serves 4
4 fresh beetroot, tops sliced off
12 boiled baby potatoes, sliced in half
200g of feta cheese, roughly crumbled
250g of bulgur wheat

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, finely minced
A good pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper

Roast off the beetroot first.  Wrap them in tinfoil, place on an oven tray and bake for about 45mins to an hour at 190C/Gas Mark 5 or until you can insert a fork smoothly. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then peel with knife and slice into thick chunks.

If you are adding leftover potatoes, place them in a roasting tray and drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle over some sea salt and ground black pepper and place them above the beetroot in the oven.

While the beetroot is roasting, prepare the rest of the ingredients for the salad.

Place the bulgur wheat in a bowl, cover with boiling water and cover with cling film.  When all the water has been absorbed, fluff up with a fork and set aside.

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside.

Add the dressing, beetroot, and feta (and roast baby potaotes if you wish) to the bulgur wheat and gently stir through.

Serve straight away or alternatively this makes a fantastic little lunchbox filler.

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Beetroot, Goats Cheese, Pine Nut and Rocket Salad

This is a really tasty starter dish which is perfect for preparing the ingredients ahead of time and simply assembling them at the last minute to create a pretty impressive salad. If you don’t want to roast the beetroot yourself, you can by precooked vac packed ones in the supermarket.

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