Vietnamese rolls with a tamari and ginger dip

These are easy peasy and completely delicious! This is not so much a recipe but an assembly of sorts, perfect for the sorry state I’m in. I am writing this with trembling fingers and the dull ache of muscles that have been abruptly awoken from their hibernation. To be fair I may have led them to believe that they had been given an early retirement. The shock was mighty.

I fully intended to get back to exercise as soon as I had a baby. I intended lots of things actually. Well the “baby” recently celebrated his 2nd birthday, he has a full set of teeth and can work the DVD player. The latter filling me with equal parts pride and embarrassment. My exercise on the other hand has not progressed as impressively, or at all If I’m being honest. I could list my excuses but at the end of the day it all comes back to Time, that four letter word that torments me daily. Well I came up with a genius solution. I would fit in my routine while Colm played with his cousins in the garden. Fresh air and no baby sitter required. Instead of sitting around drinking coffee and demonstrating my complete inability to hula hoop I would complete a 30 minute hiit session! Well let me tell you how that transpired.

My nieces are 9 and 7. I told them of my plan. They were very excited. My own enthusiasm on the other hand was a bit harder to sustain. I cannot adequately express this, I am so unbelievably unfit!!!! I know plenty of active and inspiring geriatrics so I won’t insult them with a comparison. I’ll just say think, the walking dead………in quicksand………in gale force winds. It wasn’t pretty. I huffed and puffed and I fell to the ground. All the while around me the others cartwheeled and somersaulted and contorted into shapes that I don’t even know the names of. Every so often they came over and encouraged me by following my routine with an energy that no amount of caffeine could ever bestow upon me. They helpfully showed me what a burpee is supposed to look like, if the person doing it is not half dead that is. When I finished I lay on the grass. Colm came over and sat on my head. He had done a poo it turns out. From start to finish it was an uphill struggle but some how with my little army of motivators I got it done, and again the next day. It’s a start!

Enjoy!x

Makes approx 15 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • A bunch of coriander and chives
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 tbsp of sesame seeds
  • 1 packet of rice paper

For the dipping sauce:

  • 75mls of tamari or soya sauce
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp of ginger grated or chopped very finely.

Method:

  • To make the dipping sauce combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Put to one side.
  • Deseed the peppers and the cucumber. Peel the carrots and cut the chives into strips 2-3 inches in length.
  • Slice the peppers, carrots, cucumber and ginger. I cut them all in very thin long strips. Chop the ginger quite fine.
  • Toast the sesame seeds on a small pan over a medium heat for a few minutes until brown. Turn frequently.
  • Pour some warm water in a bowl large enough to fit the rice paper.
  • Soak the  rice paper according to the packets instructions.
  • Place on a damp tea towel and working quickly sprinkle a few coriander leaves, pieces of ginger and sesame seeds. Gather a few pieces of carrot, pepper, chives and cucumber.  Place them slightly left of centre and fold over the top and bottom of the rice paper. Tuck the left side under the vegetables and gently roll up the rest of the paper. You might need to add more warm water to the bowl as you go along.

Cucumber rolls

Table for one please! My partner has a very strict barometer for food. If the “healthy factor” exceeds a certain point on his scale he is genuinely offended. My son on the other hand would eat anything and everything until recently when he almost on cue just, ya know, changed his mind! The ominous terrible twos are upon us. I fear he is now entirely comprised of bread, rice cakes and fruit. Needless to say I had no illusions of impressing anyone but myself with this one. I thought they were to die for. No praise like self praise don’t they say! These are light and fresh and the contrasting textures work really well together. When I make them again I’ll add a few roughly chopped walnuts in with the avocado and egg mix for an extra little crunch. 

Makes approx 6-8 rolls

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ripe avocado 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup of sesame seeds
  • A handful of coriander, finely chopped. 
  • 1 large cucumber
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tabasco sauce, I used the chipotle version and added a tsp. 
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime

Method: 

  • Place the eggs in a small pot of water and bring to the boil. Boil for approx 5 minutes and remove from the heat. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for another 5 minutes. Allow to cool. 
  • Evenly spread the sesame seeds out in a frying pan on a medium heat. There’s no oil required. Turn the seeds frequently, keep a close eye on them. Remove from heat when they are lightly toasted. 
  • Remove both ends of the cucumber. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the cucumber in long strips. 
  • Mash the avocado and boiled eggs in a bowl. Add the coriander, lime juice, salt and pepper and the Tabasco and mix well. 
  • Spread the sesame seeds out in a large plate. Take a strip of cucumber and lay it flat over the seeds. Press gently to make sure they stick. 
  • Place the cucumber strip on a board and add another layer of cucumber if it’s quite thin. Then spread  the egg and avocado mix evenly over the cucumber. 
  • Carefully roll the cucumber,from the sides so as not to knock off the sesame seeds. Secure with a tooth pick. 
  • Repeat until all the rolls are made. This recipe should make approx 6-8 rolls. 

Enjoy!x

Tomato and chilli jam

Here is a photo of my food in the rain! We had great hopes for a garden party this weekend but settled for the kitchen with the back door open instead. I heard someone say recently that in Ireland, summer is a state of mind, not a season. I really couldn’t put it any better myself. I served these with falafel burgers but it would go great with cheese, toasted sandwiches etc. It’s easy peasy to throw together and tastes even better the next day. 

Ingredients:

  • 500g of tomatoes 
  • 140g of brown sugar
  • 1 chilli
  • 250g red onions 
  • 75mls of red wine vinegar

Method:

  • Finely chop the onions. 
  • Roughly chop and deseed the tomatoes. Dressed the chilli pepper and finely chop. 
  • Place the onions, tomatoes, chilli, red wine vinegar and sugar in a pan. 
  • Simmer for about 40 minutes. 

Enjoy!x

Falafel burger

I’ve made this dish twice this weekend. The first batch I forgot to put in the flour. Ever the professional! They turned out really well despite this. Light and fluffy,if a little brittle. The second batch I included the flour, they definitely retained a more solid burger like shape when cooked. So which one was better? I cooked both batches for the same group of 8 people. Opinion was split down the middle. If I was making them for guests I’d probably include the flour so that I could rest assured that I’m definitely delivering “burgers” but I think I preferred the lighter texture in the flourless batch. You can decide yourself. I served these with mini pitta breads and with a chilli tomato chutney and raita. 

Makes approx 8 burgers

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tins I of 400g chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 handfuls of flat leaf parsley
  • 2 heaped tsps of cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 2 small red onions chopped
  • 4 tbsps of plain flour
  • 4 tbsps of oil

Method:

  • Drain and rinse chickpeas. Pat dry. 
  • Add the chickpeas, parsley, onion, garlic, flour, cumin, cayenne pepper to a bowl. 
  • Season with salt and pepper and mix well. 
  • In batches blend the mixture. 
  • Form into approximately 8 patties. Place on a plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
  • Heat the oil in a pan. When hot add the burgers and fry on each side for approx 3-4 minutes on each side. 
  • Place on absorbent paper when cooked to remove excess oil before serving. 

Enjoy!x

Almond crusted tofu

There are certain things that just can’t cut it on their own. Liam Gallagher, Geri Halliwell, on their own it’s a pretty bleak experience for all involved! But, given the right circumstances they magically transform into the star of the show. Tofu finds itself firmly entrenched in this category. It’s all in what you add that makes it great. The trick with tofu is it needs to be pressed or dried out a bit before cooking it. A lot of recipes don’t specify this and as a result you can find yourself with a slimy, crumbly mess. I served this with noodles and a mango salsa and blanched green beans. Perfect summer dinner! 
Enjoy!x

Ingredients:

  • 500g block of firm tofu
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 3/4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp oil

Method:

  • Cut the tofu block into squares approx 1.5cm thick. Cut squares into triangles. 
  • Place on a paper towel and cover with another towel. After about 5 minutes change sheets. Repeat 4-5 times. 
  • In a bowl beat an egg. 
  • Place almond flour on a large plate and mix with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. 
  • Dip the tofu in the egg and then coat with the almond flour mix. 
  • Heat the oil in a large pan. 
  • Place the cutlets in the pan and heat for approx 3-4 minutes each side. Keep a close eye that they don’t burn. 

Egg muffins

Some days the best cure to being an adult is to point blank refuse to be one! Today we had a dinosaur picnic and after careful research decided that the best food to serve our reptilian guests would be egg muffins. Apparently they were the courgetti of the Jurassic period! These are simple to throw together   and taste great eaten hot or cold. Ingredients wise they are quite flexible, they taste great also with chopped spinach, ham and chicken. If your reheating them they only need about 20-30 seconds in the microwave. 
Ingredients: 

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 red pepper finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of grated cheese
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Oil

Method: 

  • Preheat oven to 180
  • Lightly grease a muffin tray
  • Finely chop the peppers. 
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the peppers and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Spoon mixture into moulds, don’t overfill as they will rise when cooking. 
  • Cook for approximately 20-25 mins. You can check if they’re done by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clear they’re ready. 

Enjoy!x

Quinoa and pineapple salad

📺”I’m not a bitch! Everyone wants to be me!” (Overboard- 1987)
Basically I want to be Goldie Hawn when I grow up! Goldie waltzed into my childhood circa 1989 when someone in my family taped Overboard on a VHS. These were the pre sky + days and I could not count the amount of times I watched this movie. The last ten minutes were taped over with The Lost Boys though so sadly I never did find out if she forgave Kurt Russell for abducting her, feeding her false information and effectively treating her like a slave, but I’m confident love prevailed in the end. Anyway, quinoa salad, concentrate!! The long winded point I’m trying to get to is that even as a kid Goldie was all that I imagined a healthy person would look like. Bright eyes, energetic and with an incredible shoe collection! This dish is my “What I’d serve Goldie Hawn if she popped around for lunch” lunch. To be fair I’ve no idea if Goldie likes Quinoa but like her there’s something about this dish that taps into all that I imagine a healthy meal would look like. It’s light, refreshing and even has words that are difficult to pronounce, extra hipster points for that surely! Every weekend I solemnly swear I’m going “to get organised.” Making lunches for the week is part of this and this dish is always what I intend to make. I’ve yet to reach that level of organisation but who knows, one of these days I might surprise myself.

Enjoy!x

P.S. I just had the fear in me that Goldie might be a vegetarian. I just googled it and she’s not, phew! Lunch is back on!

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/4 cup of frozen peas
  • Red pepper, chopped finely
  • 3/4 cup of pineapple chopped
  • Vegetable stock (I use Kallo, low salt)
  • Nandos sauce-approx 3 tbsps
  • 1 lime
  • Fresh herbs-I used dill and mint. Approx 1 tbsp of each chopped.
  • Chickpeas- 1/2 tin drained
  • Quinoa 1 cup

Method:

  • Marinate the chicken in the nandos sauce for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Longer if possible.
  • Cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the packet. Add the vegetable stock cube to the water. This isn’t necessary but i find it adds a bit of flavour to the quinoa.
  • Chop up the pineapple, pepper and herbs. Drain chickpeas and set aside. Soak peas in water for a few minutes to quickly defrost them.
  • When quinoa is cooked, allow to cool.
  • Add a small bit of oil to a pan and when heated add the chicken and sauce to the pan. On a medium heat cook the chicken for approx 5 minutes until cooked.
  • Add salad ingredients to the quinoa and serve alongside the chicken. Squeeze half a lime over each portion.