Autumn Warmer Carrot, Cumin & Lentil Soup

Hi everyone, this week I would like to share one of my favourite soup recipes for these Autumn evenings when it’s getting chilly. After a busy day in the Cookery School, there is nothing nicer than a hot steaming bowl of soup and some fresh baked bread from the oven.

I hope you all have a lovely Halloween and it won’t be long before we all start planning for Christmas and this week we are all so excited here in Ballyknocken as we launched our brand new website, we would really love to hear how you are finding it, we  hope that is is easy to navigate and you can book everything online now including those all important Christmas Gift Vouchers with ease and comfort.

If you have any problems at all please do call the lovely Sharon Kelly or Debbie Gartland in the office and they will be delighted to help you out. 0404 44627

Take care and hopefully see you at one of our cookery classes soon, the full Winter calendar is on the website


soup pic

Carrot, Cumin and Lentil Soup

Serves 4 -5


2 tbsp butter

5 medium carrots, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

3 potatoes, chopped

1tsp ground cumin or to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper and sugar (good pinch)

1.2l chicken stock

4 tbsp red lentils

50ml milk

Cream for garnishing

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the chopped vegetables, cumin, salt, pepper and sugar. Cover with parchment paper to retain the steam and cover with saucepan lid.
  2. Leave to simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Remove lid, add the stock and simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Add the lentils and simmer for a further 6 minutes.
  3. Place the vegetables and liquid in a food processor and puree / blend until smooth. Check for seasoning and stir in the milk.
  4. Garnish with a swirl of cream and serve immediately.




Halloween is fast approaching… Creepy Spider Cupcakes

Hi all, I hope you are all well and enjoying all the beautiful colours of autumn. Here at Ballyknocken Cookery School we are getting very excited about our Head Chef Junior Chef Halloween special class. It is always a hit every year with grown ups and kids alike.  All the classes I teach here at the school are great, but the Head Chef  Junior Chef is always extra special to us.

To celebrate fast approaching Halloween this week in my recipe blog, I would like to share a firm favourite of mine that I worked on as Brand Ambassador for Whirlpool Ireland. This is a recipe that is great fun to make with the kids at this time of year. I hope you all enjoy the class and remember we still have some availability in the house for anyone who would like to take a well deserved break that weekend.

In other news, I am delighted to see the videos I worked on with my friends in Mummy Pages, go live this week on their amazing site. Be sure to keep an eye out on my Facebook and Twitter for all the links to recipes such as, Slow Roasted Pork, or a healthy alternative to Fish & Chips, Coconut Fish Goujons & Lime Wedges with Mushy Peas.

Finally, I really do hope you are all enjoying The Taste of Success, Tuesday nights on RTE1 at 8.30, I know I am loving every minute and excited for the winner announcement and just to end on a high note I was absolutely thrilled to find out that Lords and Ladles, the series I worked on this year with Paul Clarke and Derry Quinn has been nominated for an IFTA award. I may get red carpet ready and soon.

So have a fantastic weekend and I will speak to you all very soon.


Spider Cupcakes

The children will love to make these and it will keep them busy for a good while, measuring, mixing and decorating. 

Creepy Spider Cupcakes

Makes 12 small cupcakes


For the cupcakes:

100g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter, softened

3 eggs, lightly beaten

100g self raising flour

3 tbsp cocoa powder

4 tbsp milk


For the vanilla butter cream:

90g butter, softened

180g icing sugar

4 tbsp cocoa, sifted

2 tbsp milk

12 cupcake cases

Black licorice strings or wheels

24 “smarties” for eyes

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4. Line a muffin tray with cupcake cases.

To make the cupcakes, cream the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the beaten eggs.

Fold in the flour, add the cocoa powder and carefully stir in the milk.

Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or when a skewer is inserted into the centre it should come out clean. Allow to cool completely before decorating.

To make the butter cream, cream the butter, icing sugar and cocoa together until smooth.

When the cupcakes are cool, spread the cupcakes or pipe the chocolate butter cream over the top.

To decorate, cut the licorice into 8 x 4cm equal lengths and place 4 on each side and place 2smarties for “eyes”.


Tip: Add 2 tbsp chopped walnuts and 1 tbsp of white chocolate drops into the cupcake mixture. 


Pfizer Healthy Towns & Recipes

Hi everyone,

Well this was a busy and exciting week for us all here at Ballyknocken Cookery School and I for one am looking forward to our Southern Italian class taking place tomorrow the 19th of September. We will have the lovely winner of our latest competition joining us which will be great. Well done Emer McCudden !!

Another highlight of this week was the fantastic Pfizer Healthy Towns cookery demonstration I did in Athlone’s Sheraton Hotel which I was really delighted to be a part of .

This was the second week of the Irish Times and Pfizer Healthy Town programme ‘Eat Well, Live Well’ that launched on Monday 14 September. On Tuesday, 15th September, I along with the Irish Heart Foundation, hosted a free public nutrition event in Athlone. I was delighted to do a cookery demonstration with Janis Morrissey, dietitian with the Irish Heart Foundation who gave a talk on nutrition and how you can make positive changes to your diet. We hoped we shared plenty of tips and techniques for cooking healthy and nutritious food.

Recipes I prepared on the night include chargrilled summer courgettes and aubergines on a bed of Leaves with orange and radish salad, drizzled with a Lemon Thyme Dressing, Chicken and Spinach Lasagne made with healthier choices than traditional lasagne, fish parcels with oven baked sesame sweet potato chips, a healthier option than the traditional fish and chips and berry parfaits to demonstrate how easy it is to make a healthy dessert.

If you’re unsure where to start with healthy eating, the following 5 simple tips will put you on the right track[1]:

  • Shake the salt habit. Eighty per cent of the salt we eat is hidden in processed foods. Taste your food first before you add salt. Choose fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables over processed foods whenever possible.
  • The food pyramid. To eat a balanced diet you need to combine several different types of foods – from each of the main food groups – in the right amounts so your body gets all the nutrients it needs while maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Portion sizes. Eating an extra 100 calories a day can lead to weight gain of 4.5kg (10lb) a year. Keep portion sizes healthy by eating from a smaller plate or filling a third of your dinner plate with vegetables or salad.
  • Drink water. Get into the habit of always serving water, whether it’s with meals or as a daily thirst quencher. Carry a bottle of water with you to work. Remember that fizzy drinks contain a lot of sugar and can be very harmful to teeth so try not to drink them too often.
  • Eat together. Eating together as a family is both social and a great way to have some quality time as a family. There is also a strong and relationship between eating in front of the screen and an unhealthy diet and weight so try to eat at the table.

 A dedicated microsite and all the recipes I prepared for Healthy Town can be viewed at The site will be regularly updated with details of local events and activities taking place in Athlone Town. To register for any of the free public talks please email: or phone 01 669 0165

Chargrilled Summer Courgettes and Aubergines on a bed of Leaves, Orange and Radish salad drizzled with a Lemon Thyme Dressing


Back to School Healthy Lunches

Hi everyone,

It’s been a busy day for me, firstly I was delighted to go on Newstalk this morning to chat to the lovely Pat Kenny about healthy school lunches. For those of you that missed it, I had a number of suggestions that I believe work very well and with my own two children I have tried and tested many methods to get them to include some goodness into those lunchboxes.

Here are my top tips.

  • Watch portion size with children, the smaller the child the smaller the portion
  • Include finger friendly food and try to pre-peel the fruit etc and chop it up into bite size pieces
  • Substitute sugar for dried fruit snacks that are tasty and healthy
  • Have a designated shelf in the fridge for school lunches making it easy to prepare in a hurry
  • Always have shredded chicken, ham or cooked meat for sandwiches available as it’s s lot easier to manage
  • Get the children involved in the decision making process by including them in preparation
  • Use brightly coloured food with nice texture that looks appealing
  • Most schools are strict on treats anyway but ensure they are getting their nutrition balance correct
  • Watch for the sugar content in processed foods and avoid this by making homemade soups or sauce for pasta to use in a thermo lunchbox

So with that mind I will leave you with the link to the recipes I covered today with Pat that can be found on Newstalk along with the video that I appeared in that aired to many millions of Chinese earlier this week that was put together to highlight Ireland and all it’s fantastic tourist attractions and beauty spots, food and culture. I was proud and happy to showcase Irish food and chat to the fabulous film crew that visited us here at Ballyknocken Cookery School.

So have a lovely weekend and I will leave you with a photo of myself and the lovely Pat Kenny, thanks for having me on the show Pat.

Catherine & pat kenny

Beef Carpaccio Recipe for the Weekend

Hi guys, hope you are all enjoying our delayed summer, here at the cookery school it is non stop with public and private classes, group bookings and hen and corporate parties, the fun never stops. !

This week I would like to share a gorgeous recipe from my Italian Kitchen Cookbook…hope you all enjoy 

Of all the delicious things to come out of Harry’s Bar in Venice, including the Bellini cocktail, Carpaccio tops the list for me. Generally, Carpaccio refers to very thinly sliced raw beef, but nowadays the term is widely used, from swordfish Carpaccio to pineapple. It is so simple to make, healthy and tastes delicious. Enjoy the weekend sunshine and perhaps at long last we will get to take out the BBQ with this gorgeous starter option that can be prepared away from the coals as a tasty starter alternative 

Beef Carpaccio

Beef Carpaccio

Carpaccio di manzo

Serves six

300g fillet steak, cut into wafer-thin slices

extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper

rocket, to garnish

Parmesan shavings

  1. Spread the slices of steak on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Garnish with rocket, sprinkle over the Parmesan shavings and serve.

It’s possible to buy beef carpaccio precut and prepacked, but I always buy it fresh and ask my butcher to slice the beef. That way, I’m assured of freshness and provenance.

  1. Spread the slices of steak on a serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Garnish with rocket, sprinkle over the Parmesan shavings and serve.

It’s possible to buy beef carpaccio precut and prepacked, but I always buy it fresh and ask my butcher to slice the beef. That way, I’m assured of reshness and provenance.

Spicy Chicken Tacos for those FRIDAY FOODIE’S

Well hi everyone and I hope you all had a fantastic week, I came back to earth with a bang after a wonderful trip to Sicily, Italy where I certainly did EAT like an Italian. I am really  really enjoying the comments and conversations about all my foodie pics on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Social media certainly keeps us all busy but it is such a fantastic way to share gorgeous photos to encourage some fun cyber conversation, I know I’m a bit late to the Instagram party but I now have joined so please do follow me and I will upload as many photos and tips as I can to say thank you .:-)

The funniest social media post this week was my pizza with chips topping photo, I came across this popular pizza in Sicily and just had to see what the reaction to it would be back home. Somehow I don’t think I will be putting it on the cookery class plan anytime soon but it certainly got you all talking.

I have also started my latest competition for  free place on my 30 mins mains class this month so go to my Facebook page to find out how you can win that fab prize …….

So on a healthier and wiser note, this week I would like to share a delicious Friday foodie recipe with you for this evening. It really has been four seasons in one day here at Ballyknocken and after a busy day in my cookery school I really do plan to get cozy soon and start preparing this gorgeous classic that is so full of goodness and flavour. I really feel like  a bit of chilli this evening and these spicy tacos have just that perfect kick that is not too overpowering and all can enjoy…even the kids !!!!! Here they are and don’t they look so tasty……………………..




Spicy Chicken Tacos with Lime and Avocado Salsa

Guests can assemble these.

The chicken, bean and onion mix can be made ahead of time. Wrap them in funky napkins, as they do tend to be messy, and serve in a basket –less tidying up for you to do!

Makes 4 large or 8 small tacos

2 tbsp sunflower oil

3 chicken breasts, trimmed and sliced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

300g tinned kidney beans, drained

4 large or 8 small corn tacos, warmed

1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

2 tbsp cream cheese, to serve

for the lime and avocado salsa:

2 tomatoes, deseeded and diced

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 mild chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

zest and juice of 1 lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 To make the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together.

2 Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.

3 Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the chicken slices with the cumin for 3 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the pan. Add the onion to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the chilli and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the kidney beans and return the chicken to the pan and cook for 4–5 minutes, until fully heated through.

4 Place the tacos on a baking tray and heat in the oven for 2 minutes, until warm. Spoon the chicken filling into the tacos and return to the oven for about 2 minutes.

5 Sprinkle with parsley, spoon over a little cream cheese and serve with the lime and avocado salsa.

Healthy Summer Recipe with Whirlpool Ireland

Hi everyone and I hope you all had a fantastic week, as you know I enjoy my role as brand ambassador working alongside some excellent Irish companies. I really believe in the products I endorse and working with Whirlpool Ireland is just a wonderful experience for me. I would have no hesitation in recommending any of the  Whirlpool appliances  I have had the fortune to work with both in my cookery school and off site at one of my cookery demonstrations around the country.

I love how good food brings family and friends together and I believe the long evenings should be enjoyed. My Whirlpool’s 6th Sense Induction cooking appliances help me save time and energy allowing more time to enjoy deliciously cooked food and the fine summer weather…. to me it’s the intelligent way of cooking”

Courgettes are a perfect summer veg and are coming along in the garden and in abundance in the local fruit and veg shop  Please enjoy this delicious and healthy summer recipe for one of those lazy family  summer evenings. A mouth watering Courgette, Feta and Chive Tart.

Whirlpool Recipe Courgette Tart (2)

Courgette, Feta and Chive Tart

At this time of the year Courgettes are coming along in the veg garden here at Ballyknocken and what better way to use them than with this delicious tart for a light lunch or starter.

For the roasted vegetables

2 medium red onions, sliced

2 medium courgettes, sliced diagonally

1 red pepper, sliced

2 tbsp rape seed oil

½ tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp chives, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

375g pack ready rolled puff pastry

4 tbsp basil pesto

180g ricotta

Egg wash, 1 egg and 2 tbsp water

60g feta, crumbled

Chive lengths, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/fan 4. Place the onions, courgettes and red pepper slices into a roasted pan and drizzle with oil, sprinkle over the paprika as well as the chives. Roast for about 15 minutes until just tender. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and set aside.

Increase the temperature of the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/fan 3. Place the pastry on a piece of baking parchment onto a baking tray.  Measure a 1½cm edge around the pastry, using a sharp knife cut out the edge, carefully not to slice all the way through.  Using a fork, prick the inner rectangle of pastry and brush with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes until golden.

Remove from the oven and press the inner pastry rectangle down slightly.

Combine the basil pesto and ricotta and spread over the pastry leave the edge.

Arrange the roasted vegetables on top and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over a little rapeseed oil.

Sprinkle over the feta and bake for about 7 to 8 minutes until the feta is slightly golden.

Arrange the chive lengths on top and serve immediately.

Tip: out of courgette season, any vegetables can be used like roasted sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes and artichokes and sprinkle over chopped rosemary.