I hope everyone has had a great Christmas. I wanted to write this blog post before the end of 2014 to say thank you to everyone. It has been a brilliant and unbelievable year. There are so many highlights. I was fortunate to be named Best Chef in Ireland and I realised a long held dream to open a Cookery School in Blacklion. I also released my 11th cookbook and it won Cookbook of the Year and was also the best selling cookbook this Christmas. On top of all that there was another series of Home Chef aired and another filmed that will hit your screens in January. I really have to pinch myself with all that happened in 2014 and when you consider that I am fortunate to do a job that I absolutely love with all my heart that is the real icing on the cake.
I am so lucky to have such brilliant support from the public. It is really humbling and I never lose sight of the fact that I am so fortunate to have your support and I never ever take it for granted.
I also have to say thanks to all the people who work with me. I have a great team here at the restaurant headed by Glen in the kitchen and I work with great people throughout my business and that makes things a little easier.
But we do work hard. We work hard to try and make sure that in everything we do we give customer satisfaction. I keep going back to this but you the public are the most important people in all of this and it is your support that I so appreciate.
The most important thing in life is family and I plan to spend as much time as I can with Amelda and the twins and really enjoy life. We had a great Christmas and we are looking forward to 2015.
Some of the team here put together this video looking back at the year and don’t forget to check to the bottom of this blog for a couple of healthy recipes.
Below are two recipes that might help you get 2015 off to a healthy start! We all like to over indulge at Christmas and there is nothing wrong with that but these dishes will help you kick start the new year. The first is a Stir Fry Chilli Steak with Tortilla chips and the second is Spaghetti with Prawns and Mussels. Hope you enjoy
Stir fry chilli steak with tortilla chips
This stir fry is wonderful combination of flavours and textures that is incredibly simple to prepare. I like to serve it as part of a feast so everyone can help themselves with home made guacamole (see recipe page 00), plain boiled rice, soured cream and tortilla chips.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) rump steak, cut into thin strips
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
400 g (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes
400 g (14 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon sesame oil
300 ml (1/2 pint) soured cream
175 g (6 oz) tortilla chips
plain boiled rice and guacamole, to serve.
Heat the wok until very hot. Add the oil, swirling it up the sides. Tip in the steak and stir fry for 3 minutes until sealed and just starting to brown. Add the onion and red pepper, then sprinkle over the red chilli, cumin seeds, if using and cayenne pepper. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the cannellini beans and chilli sauce and then simmer for 5 minutes until piping hot. Season to taste and stir in the parsley.
To serve, spoon a mound of rice on to each warmed plate and make a dent in the middle. Add the stir fry chilli steak and pass around bowls of the soured cream, tortilla chips and guacamole.
Spaghetti with prawns and mussels
Experiment by using clams instead of the mussels or a mixture also works well.
If your pasta starts to stick once it’s cooked, toss with a splash of olive oil. For a healthier version, omit the cream and instead use 150 ml (1/4 pint) of fish stock or dry white wine.
350 g (12 oz) spaghetti
150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
300 ml (1/2 pint) cream
900 g (2 lb) fresh mussels, cleaned
450 g (1 lb) cooked peeled tiger prawns
1 tablespoon shredded fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
a little extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges, to garnish
crusty bread, to serve
Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes, or as per packet instructions, until ‘al dente’ (tender but still firm to the bite).
Meanwhile, combine the pour the wine into a separate large pan and add the garlic, chili and cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the mussels to the pan, cover tightly and cook for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through. All the mussels should have now opened – discard any that do not.
Drain the pasta and tip into the pan with the mussel mixture and then add the tiger prawns, basil and parsley. Stir gently until well combined and season to taste.
To serve, divide the spaghetti with the prawns and mussels among warmed bowls and drizzle a little olive oil over each one. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with a separate bowl of crusty bread.