Author Archives: tara


Vietnamese Prawn Salad & Spring Rolls on Weekend AM

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Watch the clip here


These are fantastic, healthy and tasty little rolls. They are quick to prepare and are perfect for

a mid week meal as well as if you have a craving for a Chinese on a Friday evening. It’s a

main, these are not like spring rolls that you get from the traditional take away. If you don’t

want to bother putting these into rice paper, which can be a little fiddly, you can just eat the

filling as a nutritious salad instead. It can also be a bit of fun if you serve all the ingredients

on a platter and allow diners to make up their own rolls. If doing so, serve a dipping sauce in

small bowls. You can make these a little ahead of time and keep in the fridge covered with a

piece of damp kitchen roll or tea towel.

Serves 4


20 prawns (I recommend buying Dublin Bay prawn tails)

1 large piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

1 fresh red chilli, sliced

6 spring onions

500ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 portion rice noodles

½ cucumber

1 large carrot

A few sprigs of fresh coriander and mint

A few handfuls of beansprouts

1 packet of Vietnamese rice-paper wrappers

For the Asian dressing:

1–2 limes, juiced

2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated


Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and set aside. The sugar has to be

completely dissolved before this is ready to use.

For the prawns, squeeze them to break the shell and pull the shell off at the tail end,

taking the entrails with it.

Place the shelled prawns, slices of ginger, nam pla, chilli and 2 spring onions,

roughly sliced, in a pot and cover with the stock. Bring to the boil.

Remove the  from the pot as soon as it is boils:  this should take

about 1 min. Put in a colander to cool. Chop each in half. Discard the stock and the flavourings.

Cook the noodles as per the instructions on the pack and rinse with cold water.

Finely slice the cucumber, the remaining spring onions and the carrot (use a mandolin if

possible) into matchstick size and roughly chop the herbs. Wash the beansprouts and trim

if desired.

Fill a large bowl with lukewarm water and place the discs of rice paper into the bowl two at a

time. Submerge for about 2 minutes or until softened, then remove. I recommend keeping

the rice papers in a clean, damp tea towel whilst you are waiting to fill them as they dry

out very quickly.

Add the prawns, noodles, vegetables and herbs to a large bowl, add the dressing and toss.

Place a spoonful of the filling along the middle of each rice-paper roll. Tuck in the ends of the

rice-paper and roll up.



Thai Style Pumpkin Curry

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Watch the clip here

Thai style Pumpkin Curry

(Serves 4)

A gorgeous warming vegetarian curry!

Homemade curry paste is far superior to shop bought varities as it has a much more fresh and fragrant flavour. It can be kept in the fridge in an airtight jar for a month and can even be used as a base for stir fries. You can adjust the level of heat by adding more or fewer chillies.

First, make the curry paste as below if desired.

To make the curry:

75g curry paste

1 tin of coconut milk

½  Pumpkin, diced

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons groundnut oil

2 limes, 1 juiced

2 tablespoons nam pla

1 small courgette

1 small tin of chickpeas

a few baby corns

bunch of fresh coriander

1 red chilli (as much as you like!)


Heat a large saucepan or wok and add the pumpkin  to soften. Add the oils and the curry paste. Stir the curry paste until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, thick part first, then stir in the rest.

Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 mins.

Add the courgette, baby corn and chickpeas and continue to simmer for about 3 mins and add lime juice, nam pla, coriander and red chilli

Check the vegetables are cooked

Taste the sauce and adjust lime juice and nam pla if necessary

Serve with sticky basmati rice, lime wedges and a sprinkle of coriander leaves.

Sticky Basmati rice

This sticky rice is perfect for soaking up all the lovely sauce from the curry

250g basmati rice

375 ml water (or cover with half an inch over)

Place the rice in the pot with the water, add a pinch of salt. Boil for 10 mins or until the water has evaporated. Place a tight fitting lid on and leave for at least 10 mins or up to 40 mins. Fluff up with a fork before serving. 

Homemade Thai Curry Paste

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 fresh red chillies, chopped coarsely

1 green chilli, chopped coarsely

2 large cloves of garlic

2 onions, chopped roughly

2 sticks of fresh lemongrass

3 kaffir lime leaves

zest of half a lime

1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger

half a cup of fresh coriander, stalks and leaves

1 teaspoon of shrimp paste

1 tablespoon of peanut oil

pinch of chilli flakes

2 tablespoons Soy sauce

1 tablespoon Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)

Heat coriander and cumin seeds in a pan until fragrant

Place in pestle and mortar with salt to get some traction

Grind to a fine powder

Place all the ingredients except the oil and sauces in a food processor and blitz until it forms a smooth paste, scraping the sides down as you blitz

Add the oil, soy sauce and nam pla and combine



Chicken Fajitas recipe & TV3 clip

Chicken Fajitas

This is an all-time favourite at our cookery camp amongst the kids and I get kids who have done them before with me still asking to do them again. You can buy fajita packs if you don’t have time to make the spice mix, salsa and tortilla wraps but it’s much nicer if you make them yourself and kids usually love making the dough!

Watch the clip on TV3 here

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Serves 4


2 chicken breast fillets

½ red pepper, slice lengthways

½ onion, sliced

Groundnut or rapeseed oil

Some cheddar cheese, grated

Sour cream

For the homemade tortilla wraps

250g plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

175ml water

For the spice mix:

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon chilli powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon paprika


To make the tortilla wraps, put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix. Make a little well in the middle, add the oil and water, mix it all together and knead the resulting dough for about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least half an hour (or even overnight if you want).

Prepare the spice mix by combining all the ingredients, then set aside.

Make the tomato salsa by combining all the ingredients (see page XX), then set aside.

When you are ready to cook the tortillas, put the dough out on a floured worktop. Cut the dough into golfball-sized pieces and roll these out into circles, as thin as possible.

Heat a dry frying pan and place your tortilla wrap into it. When it starts to blister and bubble, carefully turn it over and cook the other side.

When all the tortillas are cooked, prepare the filling. Slice the chicken breast into about 6 pieces each. Place the chicken, pepper and onion in a large bowl and add 3 tablespoons of the spice mix. Mix it through with a spoon.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the chicken and vegetables. Stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through. You can check this by taking a piece out of the pan and cutting it in half. If it is completely white on the inside, it is cooked.

Place a spoonful of the chicken, peppers and onions in the middle of a tortilla wrap and add a little cheese, salsa and a dollop of sour cream. Roll one side of the wrap over to the middle, then tuck in the end and roll the other side of the wrap over.



Seafood Rocks Recipes


It was an absolute pleasure to do a couple of cookery demonstrations at the wonderful Seafood Rocks  Festivalin Clogher Head again this year. The festival was all about seafood, music, family and sustainability in the nautical world.

A massive thanks to Patricia who works with me at the cookery school, assisting a demo with surprise recipes thrown in is no easy task!! Also thanks to Damien & David of Seafood Rocks for having me, Kenny Maguire for his professionalism and great kitchen and Zack Gallagher for keeping everything organised-it was a pleasure to work with you!

I centred my demos around seafood recipes of course and got some surprise seafood treats thrown into my demo at the last minute which was a challenge in terms of what I would cook but that’s exactly the type of challenge I love! It was like being given a mystery box of ingredients on stage! I have put the recipes I knew I was going to cook here but in terms of my last minute recipes, I cooked razor clams in the oven at 180C for 5 minutes, then added some chopped rosemary, chilli and garlic to them (as these were some ingredients I had to hand) when they started opening with a little olive oil. I cooked them for another 3/4 mins and squeezed a little lemon juice over. They were delicious if I say so myself but to be fair, I was very lucky with the beautiful product. I was also given a few full langoustines or Dublin Bay Prawns in their shell which I cut lengthways from the back of the head to the end of the tail, tossed on a griddle pan (great on a BBQ too) and finished with some butter, garlic, parsley and dried chilli flakes.

I was also very lucky to show case our local producers Ballymakenny Farm’s Long Stem Broccoli Drummond House Garlic Scapes & Elephant Garlic Oriel Sea Salt.

Finally, the fantastic makers of Bluebell Falls goat’s cheese had a stand in the food tent so I rustled up a roast garlic & rosemary crostini topped with their original soft goats cheese and a little drizzle of a beautiful aged balsamic vinegar that was also in the food tent.

Here are some videos:




Day 1 Demos:

Crab Tostadas

(Makes 10-12)


200g of crab meat

½ a  shallot, finely chopped

Some zest and juice of a lime

3 or 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered

3 tblsp of mayonnaise

Salt, to taste

To serve:

Some small salad leaves such as Endive or Little Gem, washed

Avocado, sliced

Lime wedges

Fresh Coriander leaves

Wheat wraps, cut into triangles and deep fried or baked until crisp.


Mix all of the ingredients for the crab apart from the lettuce in a bowl and taste for seasoning

When you are ready to serve, place the lettuce on the tostadas and top with the crab, then avocado and finally, the coriander. Serve with the lime wedges.

Pan fried Plaice with Drummond House Garlic Scapes, Samphire, Cannellini Beans & Lemon Thyme


2 fillets of Plaice (or other white fish such as turbot)

1 tblsp flour

Knob of butter

About 4 tblsp Olive Oil

Large handful of Garlic Scales

400g tin of Cannellini beans, drained & rinsed

3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly

A pinch of dried chilli flakes

1 lemon, zest & juice

A handful of fresh Lemon Thyme, leaves removed (use ordinary thyme if not available)

A handful of fresh Parsley, chopped

1-2 tblsp Soy sauce

About 10 good quality kalamata olives (buy with stone in & remove)


  1. Heat most of the oil in a pan over a very gentle heat
  2. Add the garlic, lemon thyme, lemon zest and chilli
  3. After about 2 minutes & keeping the pan on a very low heat, add the samphire, olives & cannellini beans
  4. In the meantime,  dry the fillets of Plaice with some kitchen towel and sprinkle lightly with the flour and some salt & pepper, shake gently to remove excess flour
  5. Heat a separate non stick frying pan until very hot. Add some oil and butter and quickly add the fillets of Turbot flesh side down when the butter is foaming
  6. Cook until the flesh has turned a nice golden brown and turn over. The fish will rise up in the middle quite quickly and you will know it is ready. It is important not to overcook the fish at this point.
  7. Remove to a warm plate to rest
  8. Add the Soy sauce, a squeeze of lemon juice & chopped parsley to the cannellini beans & garlic scales. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed
  9. Serve the fish over the cannellini beans & garlic scales

Crab Claws in a Garlic Cream Sauce

(Makes enough sauce about 12 claws)

My Dad made this starter in his restaurant for years.  This is pretty much the exact recipe from the late 1980s …… why mess with a classic.



Crab Claws, cooked

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

Some parsley, finely chopped

A spritz of lemon juice

A glug of olive oil

100 ml whipping cream


Place a little oil into a frying pan and heat to medium. Place the chopped garlic in the pan with a little salt. Cook for a moment and then add the crab claws. Toss in the garlic and add the cream. Allow to bubble up for a few minutes until it is thickened. Avoid stirring. Place in small bowls or ramekins and add to platter. Serve immediately.


Individual Tiramisus

These are a bit of a cheat recipe as there are no egg whites involved as in an authentic Tiramisu.  The upside of this is that they are very quick to make and they make an ideal dessert for entertaining as they are made ahead of time and are ready to serve other than a flourish of grated chocolate and a little grated orange zest to be added at the last minute. You can leave out the liqueur altogether but this is what gives the dessert it’s “pick me up” element; the meaning of tiramisu in Italian. My personal favourite liqueur to use is Amaretto which came as a happy accident once!    

(Serves 4 – 6 )


20 boudoir fingers

300ml good strong coffee, freshly brewed

4 tablespoons caster sugar

400g mascarpone

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoons of  Tia Maria, Brandy or Amaretto

Zest and juice of 1 orange

100g best-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)


Depending on the size you want, use four to six pretty cups, bowls or medium wine glasses and arrange your sponge fingers snugly in layers on top of each other (break them up to fit about 3 into each wine glass)

  1. Sweeten the coffee with 2 tablespoons of the caster sugar.
  2. Pour enough coffee over the sponge fingers to make sure they are all soaked.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the mascarpone, vanilla, liqueur and orange juice until you a loose, shiny consistency.
  4. Dollop the mascarpone mixture over the coffee-soaked biscuits and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Grate over the chocolate and sprinkle lightly with a little finely grated orange zest and serve.


Day 2 Demos:

Chermoula Baked Hake with Lime Yoghurt Dressing and Ballymakenny Farm Long stem Broccoli

(Serves 4)


4 fillets of hake (or any other white fish)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp paprika

1 tblsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin


Olive oil

A handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


For the yogurt dressing:

2 tblsp Greek Yogurt

Juice of ½ a lime

1 clove of garlic, minced



To make the chermoula, mix together the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, ½ tsp salt and a good glug of olive oil.


To make the yogurt dressing, place the yogurt in a bowl with the garlic, lime juice and mix. Season to taste.


  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C
  2. Place the fish in a baking dish and pour over the chermoula
  3. Cover in tin foil and bake for 20-30 mins, depending on the thickness of your fish.
  4. To check it is cooked, gently open a piece of the fish with a knife and check the flesh is opaque
  5. Serve the fish in it’s sauce and drizzle the yogurt dressing over.
  6. Garnish with the parsley



Serves 6


200 grms bulghur, cooked according to pack but using chicken stock in place of water

A handful of broccoli, glanced until al dente

½ a red onion, finely chopped

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Bunch of mint, roughly chopped

Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped Salt & Pepper




  1. Fluff up bulghur with a fork and add herbs, broccoli & red onion.
  2. Sprinkle some lime juice over, season and mix
  3. Serve


Strawberry Orange Drizzle Cake

(Serves 10)


175g butter at room temperature

150g golden caster sugar

2 eggs

2tsp vanilla extract

250g self-raising flour

175g strawberries, de-stemmed and roughly chopped (can use frozen in the cake but fresh are best to garnish, don’t worry if you can’t get fresh)

80g granulated sugar

2 tbsp orange juice

To Serve

Whipped Cream and Strawberries halved


Preheat the oven to 180˚C/ 160˚C fan/gas mark 4.  Grease a standard 900g loaf tin and line with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and golden caster sugar in a mixing bowl for three minutes until the texture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract until creamy.

Stir in the flour with a spatula until the mixture is just combined.

Spread one third of the batter into the tin, then scatter over one-third of the strawberries.

Carefully dot and spread half of the remaining batter on top, and scatter with half of the remaining strawberries.

Dot the rest of the batter over and spread with the back of a spoon.  Bake for one hour until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Poke the cake all over with a skewer.

Combine the remaining strawberries with the granulated sugar in a bowl.  Microwave for 30 seconds, then mash roughly with the back of a fork. Stir in the orange juice.

Spoon the mixture over the cake and leave to set and cool in the tin.Remove from the tin and top with whipped cream and fresh strawberries to serve.