Super Foods for Super People

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Happy New Year from all of us here at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School and I hope you enjoyed a fantastic Christmas and a well deserved break.  I am excited for the year ahead and all the plans we are ‘cooking up’……. pardon the pun !. The Cookery School opens its doors again on the 16th of Jan with Super Foods for Super People. I am sure that one will be a hit considering its the right time for a new year and new you.

It really is a great class as our budding chefs learn all about how to use these power packed super ingredients in everyday cooking for all the family.

We are going Italian then on Sunday the 17th with our always popular Southern Italian class, with  such Italian gems like Caponata, Fresh Pasta and Open Ravioli with wild Mushroom & Chicken Sauce, Polpette de Melanzane, Char Grilled Squid and our delicious Amaretto Truffle Torte to name but a few.

This class comes complete with tasting plate/ light lunch. If you would like a full list of all our classes you can find them here on our cookery calendar. 

CF Headshot 2015

In the spirit of Super Foods, I am including this week a recipe for a gorgeous salad that is so feel good it’s amazing !

Warm Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Cabbage Salad

Serves 4

A warm “feel good “ salad that is so simple to prepare. The butternut squash is a good source of Vitamin A as well as fibre and potassium.  By adding the orange zest to the dressing one does not need any salt.

1 small butternut squash, cut into wedges

1 red apple, sliced into wedges

1 tsp honey

½ tsp cumin

1 tbsp olive

½ red cabbage, thinly sliced and blanched

Pepper for seasoning

For the dressing

1 orange, juice and zest

1 tbsp sherry vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

A little black pepper for seasoning

2 tbsp hazelnuts, chopped and toasted

Basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 180°C / Fan 160°C / Gas 4.

  1. Sprinkle the cumin and honey over the butternut squash and roast for about 30 minutes until lightly golden and cooked. Add the apple wedges about 10 minutes before the end of the roasting time.
  2. Heat a frying pan with a little oil, sauté the red cabbage.
  3. To make the dressing, combine the orange juice, vinegar and olive oil in a small bowl.
  4. Place the roasted butternut squash, and red cabbage in a large bowl, drizzle with some of the dressing.
  5. Spoon on a serving platter, arrange the apple wedges, drizzle over a little more dressing.
  6. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts and the basil leaves.
  7. Serve immediately

Tip: Try adding crispy pancetta or even pumpkin seeds.



Healthy Butternut Squash & Beef Casserole One Pot Wonder

This is just gorgeous for those cold winter nights to enjoy with the family and its packed full of goodness too




butternut squash  beef casserole


Butternut Squash and Beef Casserole

This is from my Family Kitchen Cookbook (G&M) and although Butternut squash and beef might not be the first combination that springs to mind, but they do work very well together and are very colourful for presentation. Add more veg such as red pepper or carrots if you wish…


Serves 4

700g round steak, trimmed and diced

100g seasoned flour

Extra virgin olive oil

3 red onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 red pepper, roughly chopped

1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped

2 sprigs of thyme

650ml beef stock

3 tbsp tomato purée

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Steamed rice or garlic Mashed potatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.
  2. Toss the beef in the seasoned flour in a Ziploc bag and shake the beef until coated. Remove the beef from the bag and shake off the excess flour.
  3. Heat some oil in a casserole over a medium heat and add the beef in batches. Brown well on both sides and set aside.
  4. Add a little more oil to the casserole. Reduce the heat to low, add the onions and sauté for 8–10 minutes, until the onions are soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the diced butternut squash, peppers, thyme, stock, tomato purée and balsamic vinegar and return the beef to the casserole.
  5. Cook in the oven for 1 1⁄2 hours or until the beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as required, and serve.

Prepare this a day or two ahead. As with all casseroles, the flavours improve over time

Inspiring Good Health

Hi everyone,this week I intend to continue on with some gorgeous recipes for healthy mind, body and soul. Lately I have been spending a lot of time in the gardens here at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School.  I just get so excited when I see all the wonderful, herbs, vegetables and soft fruits begin to flourish.  Here in the picture you can see some beautiful Alpine Strawberries in bloom. I just love them. There is nothing like the feeling of plucking some gorgeous fresh berries from the ground and getting them into my kitchen to include in some tasty new recipe I am trying.

On this note for all things berry………….


If you would like to make some gorgeous Berry recipes I have written them in the RTE Guide this week and if you pick up a copy you can make them at home yourself. I included Chilled out Strawberry Lollies, and Berry Parfaits below, YUM.


For a beautiful healthy dinner to accompany these fab berry desserts I have here a recipe for a healthy power packed Butternut Squash, Leek and Spinach Bake. Yes I know I have included cream but a little bit of what we love never hurt anyone 🙂

In other news I am just loving watching the new RTE1 series I filmed this year with Derry Clarke and Paul Flynn two amazing fellow chefs and good friends. I can’t tell you how much fun it was to do this fantastic series with them and a huge thanks to all the team who made it the great show it is. I hope you are all enjoying it

Have a fab weekend and enjoy the recipes



Butternut Squash, Leek and Spinach Bakes

Bake these the day before and just heat them 20 minutes before you’re about to serve. Keep the parchment wrappers on when you serve them – the children will love them as well as grandparents! If you have any left, pack these for your lunch at the office with a refreshing rocket and pink grapefruit salad.

Makes 12

extra virgin olive oil

1 leek, finely sliced

30g baby spinach

1 small butternut squash, peeled, very thinly

sliced and cut to fit a muffin tin

3 eggs, beaten

100ml cream

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

12 small sprigs of thyme

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with square pieces of parchment paper.

2 Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the leek for 5–6 minutes, until cooked. Add the spinach to the pan and cook for 1 minute more.

3 Spoon the leek and spinach mixture into the muffin tray and layer the finely sliced butternut squash on top.

4 Whisk the eggs, cream, thyme and some salt and pepper in a jug, then carefully pour it over the butternut squash and leek layers. Sprinkle with the parsley and bake for 15–18 minutes, checking that they’re cooked and set by inserting a skewer. Do not overcook.

5 Remove from the muffin tray and serve warm with sprigs of thyme on top.