Archive for the ‘Sides and Starters’ Category

Sweet and Sour Fried Onions

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Hard to beat the simple dishes like sausage, mash and onions. Here is a quick and simple way to tart up some fried onions.

Two onions
Two teaspoons balsamic vinegar
One tablespoon of honey
Olive oil

Fry the onion in some olive oil until golden. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey and cook on a low heat for three or four minutes.

Porridge: Get your oats on

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I have been under the impression that I disliked porridge for a long time but about a year ago, when reading about the health benefits, I realised I never really gave porridge a proper chance. I had never tried had a full bowl rather than just a dismissive taste. With that in mind and after a couple of unsuccessful outings to produce a bowl that did not have the consistency of wallpaper paste I figured out how much of an oats to water ratio to use and made a basic, but edible, mix. About a 2:1 mix and one minute in the microwave did the trick. A desert spoon of honey added after makes all the difference. Very quick and easy and great for an energy boost. That’s your base, after that add anything. Use milk or cream instead of water or even add a shot of Bailey’s on special occasions like your Birthday or on Christmas morning.

Last week Flahavans and Kevin Dundon teamed up for an All Ireland (and beyond) porridge promotion and have launched a porridge making competition.

Competitors are invited to enter two categories; one to create the perfect porridge dish and two, to develop the most innovative recipe using Flahavan’s Irish porridge oat range. More details below but first an example from Kevin on what is possible in the porridge category, this is the recipe pictured above:

Flahavan’s Creamy Porridge with Flambéed Plum, Orange Syrup & Crème Fraiche

Creamy Porridge:
4oz/110g Flahavan’s Progress Oatlets
1 pint/600ml milk
3 ½ floz/100ml cream
Grated zest of one orange
Pinch salt

Flambéed Plums:
4 plums
2oz/50g butter
2oz/50g brown sugar
1 measure Grand Manier

Orange Reduction:
½ pint/250ml orange juice
2 tablespoons sugar
½ vanilla pod

Sprigs of mint
Crème Fraiche

Put the Flahavan’s porridge oats, salt and milk into a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes and then add in the cream and orange zest and cook for a furthur moment or two and then keep in a warm place until you are ready to serve.

Cut the plums into quarters and take out the stones. Heat the pan with the butter and ten add in the plums and toss around for a couple of minutes until they are lazed. Scatter in the sugar and cook for 3-4 minutes. Just before serving add in a splash of Grand Marnier and allow that to flame up. Be very careful not to get burned.

Place the orange juice, sugar and vanilla pod into a small saucepan and boil continuously for 5-6 minutes until it has reduced to a thick syrup.

Serve the Flahavan’s porridge in a large bowl with the flambéed plums on top. Drizzle with the orange syrup and top with a quenelle of crème fraiche and a sprig of fresh mint.

Sounds nice huh? Maybe Kevin should travel to Scotland next year for the  Golden Spurtle? Anyway, the overall winner in each category of the competition will receive a top prize of €1,500, with the runners up winning €500 each.

At the launch Kevin said, “Oats have formed part of healthy breakfast diets for generations. What some people don’t realise is that oats also make a great ingredient in countless savory or sweet dishes, adding texture and flavour.”

Open for entries from November 9th, Flahavan’s Porridge Making Challenge is an All-Ireland competition. Recipe entries along with preparation methods and photographs can be submitted via or can be sent by post to E. Flahavan & Sons Ltd. Porridge-Making Challenge, Kilnagrange Mills, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford.

Multiple entries can be submitted and there is no age limit. The closing date for entries is 31st January 2010. Terms and conditions are available on

Messy-Chef’s Lime and Chilli Chicken Wrap

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Bacon and Cabbage

Seems I have passed the last few posts rambling on about this and that, giving my opinions on things and forwarding articles of interest. All worthwhile activities in their own right but not great content builders. In lieu of this I’d better get a recipe together, maybe with some extra added waffle for background and effect.

I was home alone last week and cooked myself a roast chicken with all the trimmings for Sunday dinner. This not only annoyed Mrs Messy (“posh bast@rd”) but it provided leftovers to keep me going for the rest of the week. Now, we all know how to make a chicken sandwich but chicken sandwiches are not really blog material are they? A quick tour of the fridge and I found Geeta’s Lime and Chilli Chutney (€2.99 in my local supermarket). A little bit of this on a wrap (it’s quite spicy), add some shredded chicken, leftover stuffing if you have it, some shredded lettuce wrap it up and off you go. A Lime and Chilli Chicken Wrap in under two minutes! Something one of those mediocre sandwich shops, to which the recession has taught nothing, would charge you at least €6 for. €6.50 if you had the audacity to eat it in the premises.

Aside: Next time I need to picture how to fold the wrap properly, I failed to remember that part until it was too late. Fold in the ends first (end being the area at right angle to your filling) then fold the side (parallel to your filling) and roll. This stops your filling escaping onto your shoes.

Leftover Potato Omelette

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Potato Omlette

Ignoring last weeks indulgence of dining out and continuing with ‘waste not, want not’ theme new potatoes are in season at the moment. Rather than throw the left-overs away they are great to make a really tasty omelette with. Really quick and easy, perfect for a lunchtime snack.

One onion, halved and sliced.
Half a clove of garlic, finely sliced.
Your leftover potatoes, cubed.
Olive oil.
200g grated mature Irish cheddar.
3 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste.

Add some olive Oil to a heated pan. Add the potato and fry at a high enough heat to brown them, remove and set aside. Lower the heat, add a touch more oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft. Break the eggs into a bowl and mix. Add the potato and onions to the bowl of egg mixture (do not add the eggs to the pan) and stir. Season to taste. Oil the pan and return the mixture. As the mixture sets you can build up the sides using a spatula, see below. Cover and cook slowly for 10-15mins. When almost cooked top with the cheese (and whatever else you want) and put it under a medium grill.

Homemade Stock

Monday, May 25th, 2009
Chicken Stock

Here’s a nifty follow-on from the home made stuffing a few weeks back and keeping with value theme. A roast chicken does great between the four of us and maybe some left over for a sandwich or two. However, throwing out the carcass felt like waste to me I looked up how to make stock from the bones. It’s easy: Some roughly chopped veg; some herbs; a lot of seasoning; the remains of last night’s chicken and some water.

I have found a single chicken makes about two pints of decent stock, any more water and it would end up too diluted.

Ingredients (Makes two pints)
1 Chicken carcass, anything left over.
3 Carrots, roughly sliced.
1 Large onion, peeled and sliced.
2 Sticks of celery, sliced.
1 Bouquet Garni (or any bunch of mixed herbs, thyme, sage, oregano etc)
Handful of fresh thyme (if you have it)
Plenty of salt and pepper. I usually add about a tablespoon of salt.
2 pints of boiling water.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, add the water so that it covers everything and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer on a very, very, low heat for two hours, just enough to keep it ever so slightly moving. After 20mins or so the chicken should start to come apart, you can use a spoon to break it up so the flavours will mix better. Allow to cool, strain and decant. I measure out pints into freezer bags and freeze it for use in soups, risotto etc.

A Whole Lot of Stuffing

Monday, April 6th, 2009
Homemade Stuffing

Everybody likes stuffing, nothing better on a Sunday than a roast chicken and plenty of stuffing and in these dark days of economic depression anybody interested in saving a bit of money, in fact a lot of money relative to what it would cost you to buy, should really consider making their own. It’s dead easy, dead quick and a fraction of the cost.

This is Lemon, Thyme and Garlic stuffing but homemade stuffing can be flavored with anything, if you take the breadcrumbs, butter and onion as the base you can add whatever herbs and flavours you fancy.

Ingredients: (for 4)
Breadcrumbs from 5 slices of bread
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Handful of fresh thyme
150g butter
1 Onion finely sliced.
1 Clove of grlic finely chopped.
Salt & Pepper
Dash of olive oil

Melt the butter in Olive Oil on a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and herbs and cook gently for 2mins. Add the onion and cook for another three or four minutes. Add in the breadcrumbs and remove from the heat. Squeeze in the lemon juice and season to taste.

Yassi’s Lemon Spuds

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
Lemon Spuds

As messy-chef is proud to serve and because JD asked nicely then it’s time to post the Lemon Spuds I mentioned in the post about SuperValu doing cheap chicken (pun intended). It’s actually Yassi’s recipe, not mine, so I’ll give her the credit.

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Ingredients: (for 2)
5 or 6 potatoes cut into wedges or cubes.
Juice of two lemons
Rind of half a lemon
2 Teaspoons of Thyme
1 Teaspoon of Oregano
6 cloves of Garlic, peeled and cut in two
1 Onion sliced.
1 glass of water

Combine all the ingredients in a dish and mix well. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake in the over at 180C for 90mins or until the potatoes are cooked through. Cooking time will vary depending on how think the potatoes are cut.

Parma Ham, Goats Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Salad

Thursday, February 5th, 2009
Parma Ham, Goat's Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Salad

Feb 5th 2009: I’ve updated this to include the wine recommendation below. Apologies for the rehash of an old post but I thought Lar had a great idea to match wines with recipes from different food blogs. It’s a fun way to navigate the different food blogs out there.

Jan 14th 2009: Work has been a bit mental since the new year so I’ve been short on blog time. Aside from trying to figure out how best to cook roast beef I’ve also been pretty short on cook time. The roast beef results will follow, I finally nailed the Yorkshire puddings which is a post and a series of photos in itself, but for now here’s a salad you can fling together in a matter of seconds. It doesn’t have to be long and complicated to be good. Adiós muchachos, vaya con Dios.

Ingredients (for two)
1 Bag of Supermarket mixed leaves
10 fresh sun-dried tomato segments.
6 slices of Parma Ham
1 small pack of crumbly goats cheese. Cabridoux is widely available in Irish supermarkets, anything really, doesn’t even have to be goat’s cheese.
Extra virgin olive oil or Balsamic vinegar

Place a pile of leaves on each plate. Arrange the sun dried tomato segments around the outside. Tear up the Parma Ham and add onto the leaves. Crumble the cheese on top. Sprinkle with a little olive oil or Balsamic vinegar. Serve with crusty bread etc.

For a wine to go with this check out this post from, excellent idea Lar and thanks!

2008 Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc

That’s all

Fresh Prawns in Garlic Butter with Parmesean Breadcrumb.

Monday, November 3rd, 2008
Fresh Prawns

Fresh prawns are always a treat to have. At about €12 per Kg these days they are not cheap, usually somewhere between €6 and €10 for a dozen depending on size, but they are oh so tasty. My preference with prawns is less is more so there is not much extra added after cooking. Not even a slice of lemon. In any event there is a recession on and Messy Towers are balancing the books by removal of all unwanted rocket, Parmesan shavings, cherry tomatoes, cucumber foam and other stupid finicky nonsense that gets in the way of the real food.  We’re taking the ‘no frills’ model and applying it to food. Actually a lot of Irish Restaurants would be well advised to take their heads out of their asses and use a similar approach: Just the food please, keep your foam.

Unlike their frozen Vietnamese or North Sea cousins fresh prawns are tender and sweet, not tough and flavorless. This dish is just some garlic butter and a light crumb on the outside. The saltiness of the Parmesan works with the sweet prawns. Usual disclaimer with the photos applies viz.  I am not a food photographer.

Ingredients (for 2)
12 prawns (shells and intestines removed)
Breadcrumbs from 1 slice of bread
Small handful of grated Parmesan.
1 knob of butter, about 50g.
1 clove garlic crushed.

Add the grated Parmesan to the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Toss the prawns in the mix making sure they are fully coated (the crumbs will naturally stick to the prawns). Put the butter and garlic in a dish, place in the oven at 180c until the butter is melted. Add the prawns, lightly cover with any leftover breadcrumbs and cook for 10-12 minutes. Serve as is.

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Broccoli and Mature Cheddar Soup

Saturday, October 4th, 2008
Cheddar Cheese Soup

More soup this week, not much to report except that you can use any cheese you want. The original recipe was ‘Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup‘ which is tasty enough but a tad strong. When an entire bottle of wine is consumed during the soup course you know you have a problem. OK, that problem may not be the soup but for the sake of illustration lets pretend the wine was to overpower the overpowering blue cheese and I’ve made my point.

On topics overpowering maybe we could have used some of JD’s “African Coffee straight from Africa”. Two teaspoons of this would be enough to incapacitate a small nation with enough left over to construct a fleet of light aircraft. Initially I thought maybe the shops weren’t stocking it for ethical reasons but after being sent some by JD I know the real reason. It’s bloody horrific. Thanks anyway JD. I won’t be calling for the next while as I expect the Drug Squad will have the Hillman Hunter stationed outside your gaff for a bit.

Back to the soup. I’ve adapted the recipe to include mature cheddar. The Killowen Cheddar from Newmarket in Cork is matured for two years and really gives the soup what it needs, you can get the cheese in most Irish supermarkets but Killowen don’t appear to have a web presence, if they had it’d linkey it. Upshot of the whole story is we now have wine left for the main course. Hurrah! Enjoy your week.

Apologies for the pic, I used the cheese before I wrote the article

Cheddar Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

Ingredients for two:
1 Onion, sliced
1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
2 Large Heads of Broccoli
3-4 handfuls of grated Mature Cheddar Cheese (or any type)
1 1/2 pints of Chicken or Veg Stock
Optional: 1 Tablespoon of Mascarpone cheese to thicken.

Slowly fry the onion and garlic in a little oil for 5-6mins. Chop the broccoli, add to the pot and stir. Add in the stock, I find a good measure for the stock is enough to just cover the broccoli. Cover the pot and simmer slowly for 10mins until the veg is soft. Allow to cool slightly and blend. Return to the heat and add the cheese. If you want the soup extra creamy add a spoon of mascarpone cheese before serving.

Tip: Better to make this too thick and thin it with boiling water after. It is far easier to thin soup rather than try and thicken it.