Thursday, October 30, 2008

Country Pumpkins

The current Farmer's Journal magazine / Neven Maguire food feature I food styled.
Pumpkin & Roast Chicken Risotto (c) Jack Caffery

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween

(c) Cliona O'Flaherty

This spread is part of a feature I styled for Food & Wine Magazine last Halloween and shows two fun ideas for desserts for kids. Get them to make an ice bowl by sitting one bowl inside a slightly bigger one. Fill the gap between them with water and pop some physalis in there also. Wrap the whole thing in cling film to keep the bowls in place and then freeze overnight. Sit the bowl in hot water to loosen the ice bowl from the centre. Use as a fun table centre bowl to serve ice cream in.

Another way to keep the kids occupied during the holidays is to get them involved in making a Croque en Bouche. Make (or buy!) lots of profiteroles. Fill with cream and dip in homemade caramel to coat (caramel should be left to the adults to make and handle as it gets dangerously hot). Once set, allow the kids to pile them high in a pyramid. Decorate with physalis and / or gold sugared almonds.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another day, another truck full

I seriously need a transit! The typical pot and pan paraphenalia ready to be loaded back into the car...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Foodie Fund Raiser

Last night saw another hugely successful fund raising event for The Burrow National School in Sutton. Howth golf club was packed to the gills with (mostly) women dying to get a slice of Neven Maguire and his cooking.

The school's parents committee, (including my friend Orla Broderick) did a fantastic job organising the event and made sure everyone had a tipple of wine, a taster of Neven's food to nibble on and a jam packed goody bag to take home.

Neven performed a fantastic dem, really informative and hugely entertaining. He is hilarious, and being his 'glamorous assistant', I took a bit of flack (and gave back a little too of course!).

He cooked three courses; some bruschettas first (see recipes below), then a grilled rib eye steak with smoked paprika & red pepper butter and a garlic mash, followed by pear belle helene. All the recipes are from his new book 'Neven's Food From the Sun' (which Orla also worked on), due to hit the shops soon.


Serves 4-6

12 thick slices country bread, preferably sourdough

1 garlic clove, halved

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the grill or a griddle pan and use to toast the bread on both sides. Remove from the heat and immediately rub one side with a piece of garlic. Drizzle over the olive oil and cut the slices of bread in half if they are very large. Use immediately with a selection of the delicious toppings listed below. Arrange on large serving platters or trays to serve.


Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and sauté three thinly sliced red onions until softened. Stir in 225g (8oz) of finely chopped ready-to-eat dried figs, two crushed garlic cloves, a glass of red wine and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Simmer for about 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, then stir in a teaspoon of caster sugar and a good pinch of chopped fresh thyme. Season to taste and leave to cool completely, then spread on to the bruschetta and arrange 450g (1lb) of thinly sliced goat’s cheese on top. Flash under the grill until the goat’s cheese has melted.


Place the contents of a 300g (11oz) drained jar of artichoke hearts in a food processor with a handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, 50g (2oz) of freshly grated Parmesan and a squeeze of lemon juice. Blitz to form a smooth paste and then with the motor running, slowly add three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil until well combined. Season to taste and spread thickly over the bruschetta.


To make a rough textured tapenade, simply mix 250g (9 oz) of chopped pitted black olives in a bowl with the juice of a lemon, three tablespoons of chopped capers, six chopped anchovy fillets, one crushed garlic clove and two tablespoons of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Season to taste and add enough extra-virgin olive oil to form a thickish paste. Spread 12 slices of Parma ham with some of the tapenade and then use to wrap 12 blanched asparagus spears. Spread the rest of the tapenade over the bruschetta and top with the Parma ham wrapped asparagus rolls.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Christmas just won't go away!

I really thought a couple of weeks ago saw the last of Christmas for me (for a couple of months at least) but somehow I got sucked in again. More edible gifts, this time for an RTE magazine. Here is a recipe I contributed and a snap of work in progress...

Spiced Star-Cluster Cookies

Makes about 75 biscuits

150g plain flour + extra for dusting

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp mixed spice

75g unsalted butter, diced

3 tbsp clear honey

icing sugar to decorate

Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice into a bowl and rub the butter in to resemble fine crumbs. Add the honey, mixing to form a soft dough. Alternatively, blend the ingredients in a processor. Cover and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F / Gas Mark 4). Roll the dough out on a floured surface to about 2-3mm in thickness. Using a star shaped cutter measuring about 4 ½ cm from tip to tip, stamp out the dough, re-rolling if necessary.

Arrange the stars on two non stick baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes until just golden. The stars will still be soft to the touch so leave on the tray to harden for a few minutes before transfering to a cooling rack.

Spoon some icing sugar into a fine sieve and lightly dust the star clusters before packaging up as a gift.

TIP The star clusters would make fantastic hanging decorations also. Before cooking, use a cocktail stick to make a hole in each star, big enough to thread a ribbon through.