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.



Edible Christmas Gifts & Stress Tips

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Hi everyone and I hope you are all set now on the home stretch before the festive holidays. We have had a such a fantastic last week here at Ballyknocken House & Cookery School .  Our 12 days of Christmas recipes are still going out every day in the lead up to the main event and are packed full of great recipes gadget ideas and top tips such as edible gift ideas, turkey roasting tips and how to spice up those sprouts.

The phone has been buzzing with all our lovely customers picking up Ballyknocken Christmas Vouchers thank you so much for choosing Ballyknocken for the special gift for your loved ones. You can  still pick up a last minute voucher here or call the office on 0404 44627 and Sharon will take care of you.

This week I would like to share this idea for edible gifts that really shows thought and they are loved by all. They can be put in a lovely jar and look really fab under the tree.

Amaretti Biscuits

Amaretti gift Jar

Tip : Edible gifts show you’ve taken the time and effort to make them for the lucky recipient! It can be a great way of spending time with the kids at this busy time of year. We know they’re popular because our edible gift class always sells out!

Amaretti Biscuits

Makes 40

350g ground almonds

350g caster sugar

4 egg whites

1 ½ tbsp amaretto

Butter, for greasing

Preheat the oven to 180C / Gas 4.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently mix in the sugar, amaretto and almonds.Place some baking parchment on a baking tray and butter lightly. Using a teaspoon place small dollops (about 2cm) onto the sheet. Bake for 12–15 minutes until a pale golden brown. Leave to set on the baking tray, as they are quite soft at this stage. The will harden as they cool. Tip: Add 2 tbsp of dried cranberries to the mixture.

Here are my six stress busters for Christmas that I would like to share with you all

  1. Take a walk on the wild side – get fresh air and down time, five mins meditation can go a long way
  2. It’s not a competition – it’s about family time
  3. Plan – write lists, call it old-school but I am a great believer in writing lists
  4. Delegate – usually people want to help so share the load
  5. Prepare what you can ahead of time
  6. Less is more – alternate your alcoholic drinks so you’re not over-doing it.

Finally my  Christmas dinner gadget of the week I love is this gorgeous flour sifter from Brown Thomas   Flour Sifter

Have a wonderful time with family and friends this Christmas and I will be back in the New Year with more recipes, tips and news


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

Whirlpool Recipe, Pasta treat….

Hi everyone,

Hope you are well today and enjoying this lovely September weather. It has been another busy but great week here at Ballyknocken Cookery School. I was in Cork on the RTE Today Show, Gorey for a Whirlpool Demo in Dominic Smith, we had our RTE photo shoot for the RTE Guide ……wow I am so glad I have my lovely Volkswagen Passat to get me to all these places in comfort and on time !!!

The recipe I would like to share with you this week is for a gorgeous simple pasta dish, one I demonstrated in Dominic Smith in Gorey this week. We had such a wonderful turn out and I enjoyed myself so much, I really love my role as brand ambassador for Whirlpool Ireland, so much so that my whole cookery school is kitted out with their amazing state of the art ovens.

Here I am here in full demo mode modelling my lovely ovens 🙂

Whirlpool CF

Here is one of the lovely recipes I did this week in Gorey for Whirlpool. Just to get the last bit of summer sunshine food into us 🙂

Summer Spaghetti with Prosciutto, Peppers, Lemon and Olives

Serves 4

This is a really tasty yet light pasta dish, ideal for the summer but I enjoy it all year round!

It’s very quick to prepare especially when you use the Whirlpool Induction hob  that is so fast to heat, and stops when you remove the saucepan, so also saving you on energy”

1 tbsp olive oil

4 sliced prosciutto, torn

1 red onion, very thinly sliced

1 red pepper, thinly sliced

1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 tsp chopped oregano

150ml double cream

½ lemon, zest and juice

50ml vegetable stock

A handful of baby spinach, washed and trimmed

6 black olives, sliced in half (optional)

300g spaghetti

Oregano sprigs, to garnish

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. Add the torn prosciutto and sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes until crispy.  Remove from the pan and set aside on a clean plate. Add the onion and sauté for 4 minutes before adding the red and yellow pepper strips and sauté until softened.  Add the garlic cloves and oregano and cook for 2 minutes.

Return most of the prosciutto and stir in the cream, lemon juice, zest and stock. Simmer for 2 minutes. Retain a little prosciutto to use as garnish.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the package and drain.

Stir in the spinach and wilt, add the olives and check the seasoning, you may only need to add a little freshly ground black pepper.

Using a pair of tongs, lift the cooked spaghetti into the sauce and toss.

To serve, twist the spaghetti around a large fork and slide onto a serving plate, spoon some of the sauce into the centre of the nest and lightly over the top.

Place a piece of prosciutto on top and sprinkle a few sprigs of oregano and a drizzle the olive oil.

Tip: During the winter months, add some finely shredded kale – it’s good for you!

 Whirlpool pasta dish for Gorey