Two Irish Girls Make Food

In a great big kitchen in North East London (with insufficient storage for the amount of spices they have accumulated), Arlene and Medb cook and eat like it's their last day on Earth. Joined by a merry band of fellow eaters, they document their munchings on this blog. We hope you enjoy it.

If you have any comments or ideas or mad ingredients you'd like us to try, let us know! We're on Twitter! @twoirishgirls
Valentines Burger Love

Roses are red 
Violets are Blue
I like burgers
I hope you do too

It was Valentines day and I should have been at the cinema watching Dallas Buyers Club (very romantic). However due to unforeseen production related happenings, I was on my way home…in the rain (surprise!) The bus had already pulled the ‘The destination of this bus has changed’ trick…TWICE. I hate that dirty trick. 
So there I was at Sainsburys and needed to rustle up a valentines treat.  Everyone loves a homemade burger so that seemed like a good bet. I’ve been using a Jamie Oliver recipe for years which includes Jacobs cream crackers adding an extra bit of bite! 
Put your mince, crackers (squish them up really small or they will burn), parsley, djion mustard and egg into a bowl and mix it really well. Season it and then divide into balls which you then need to shape into burger type formations. Don’t make them too thick or they’ll take you ages to cook and give you all sorts of bother. Once they look like lovely burgers, stick them in the fridge for a while. This helps them stay together when they go on the pan. When you’re ready cook them to your liking and put in a bun with whatever you want. I went traditional with some lettuce, tomato, onion and Jarlsberg. 

There are lots of trendy burger joints which I really enjoy but sometimes a homemade one is just as good! 

Arlene x

Valentines Burger Love

Roses are red
Violets are Blue
I like burgers
I hope you do too

It was Valentines day and I should have been at the cinema watching Dallas Buyers Club (very romantic). However due to unforeseen production related happenings, I was on my way home…in the rain (surprise!) The bus had already pulled the ‘The destination of this bus has changed’ trick…TWICE. I hate that dirty trick.
So there I was at Sainsburys and needed to rustle up a valentines treat. Everyone loves a homemade burger so that seemed like a good bet. I’ve been using a Jamie Oliver recipe for years which includes Jacobs cream crackers adding an extra bit of bite!
Put your mince, crackers (squish them up really small or they will burn), parsley, djion mustard and egg into a bowl and mix it really well. Season it and then divide into balls which you then need to shape into burger type formations. Don’t make them too thick or they’ll take you ages to cook and give you all sorts of bother. Once they look like lovely burgers, stick them in the fridge for a while. This helps them stay together when they go on the pan. When you’re ready cook them to your liking and put in a bun with whatever you want. I went traditional with some lettuce, tomato, onion and Jarlsberg.

There are lots of trendy burger joints which I really enjoy but sometimes a homemade one is just as good!

Arlene x

January

I’m lucky enough to work in a job that sends me to Chile for 2 weeks in the middle of January. The only first world problem with this, is that getting into any sort of summer clothing, especially swim wear, after the annual gluttony festival that is Christmas, is near impossible. So, with that spurring me on, I’m back on the 5:2. 

There is so much literature about 5:2 out there, and this time of year, almost all publications have some interesting recipe offering up solutions to the 500 calorie days. It sounds a lot harder than it is. For example, this dish was a mere 178! It was sent to me from my good friend Larissa who scanned in many pages of this week’s special in The Times (knowing I was a bit sick of boiled eggs and asparagus). 

This is so simple (and cheap, for frugal January!). For two portions, sauté half an onion in 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil. Then add one clove of garlic and a diced medium red pepper. When softened, after about 5 minutes, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of tomato puree, half a teaspoon of cumin, chilli powder, cayenne pepper and paprika. Mix together, then crack two eggs on top. Cover and cook for 10 mins or until the white is hard and the yolk still soft. 

The whole dinner took me about 20 mins and I felt I’d had a hearty, delicious feed - for 178 calories! OK January, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
Medb x

January

I’m lucky enough to work in a job that sends me to Chile for 2 weeks in the middle of January. The only first world problem with this, is that getting into any sort of summer clothing, especially swim wear, after the annual gluttony festival that is Christmas, is near impossible. So, with that spurring me on, I’m back on the 5:2.

There is so much literature about 5:2 out there, and this time of year, almost all publications have some interesting recipe offering up solutions to the 500 calorie days. It sounds a lot harder than it is. For example, this dish was a mere 178! It was sent to me from my good friend Larissa who scanned in many pages of this week’s special in The Times (knowing I was a bit sick of boiled eggs and asparagus).

This is so simple (and cheap, for frugal January!). For two portions, sauté half an onion in 1.5 teaspoons of olive oil. Then add one clove of garlic and a diced medium red pepper. When softened, after about 5 minutes, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a teaspoon of tomato puree, half a teaspoon of cumin, chilli powder, cayenne pepper and paprika. Mix together, then crack two eggs on top. Cover and cook for 10 mins or until the white is hard and the yolk still soft.

The whole dinner took me about 20 mins and I felt I’d had a hearty, delicious feed - for 178 calories! OK January, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
Medb x

Return of the frittata…Sweet potatoes, kale and caramelised onion 

Oh hi! So I’m just going to carry on like I haven’t been neglecting this blog for months and months as I think that’s better for everyone. I’ll save the excuses about how busy I have been - working so hard, moving house (eating out, drinking wine, going on holiday etc). 

Anyway it was Tuesday night and my dinner date cancelled at the last minute (#production). So there I was in the supermarket wandering up and down the veggie aisle throwing all the old reliables into my basket and figuring I would come up with something. Inspiration struck in the eggs department…FRITTATA! Hugh FW has trained me well.

Frittata is so easy and I like to tell myself healthy (there were 10 eggs in this one :-s) so it’s a winning mid week dinner. Fry a few cloves of crushed garlic in oil for a few minutes until the house really smells like garlic. Then put in the sweet potatoes and onions until the potatoes are soft and the onions caramelised. Add the Kale and let it wilt. Add the egg mixture (8-10 eggs, salt and pepper), the tomatoes  and cook until the eggs begin to set. Throw some cheese on top and stick it in the oven for about 15 minutes on a nice low heat.

Ash came to eat this and guess what? He didn’t know what a frittata was!!! He had done his research though (google obvs) and concluded it was safe to eat. We had some salad leaves and wholegrain dressing on the side, simple times.

As Anna Rhodes exclaimed upon seeing the said dish on the counter top “Oh I do love a frittata”

Arlene x

Return of the frittata…Sweet potatoes, kale and caramelised onion

Oh hi! So I’m just going to carry on like I haven’t been neglecting this blog for months and months as I think that’s better for everyone. I’ll save the excuses about how busy I have been - working so hard, moving house (eating out, drinking wine, going on holiday etc).

Anyway it was Tuesday night and my dinner date cancelled at the last minute (#production). So there I was in the supermarket wandering up and down the veggie aisle throwing all the old reliables into my basket and figuring I would come up with something. Inspiration struck in the eggs department…FRITTATA! Hugh FW has trained me well.

Frittata is so easy and I like to tell myself healthy (there were 10 eggs in this one :-s) so it’s a winning mid week dinner. Fry a few cloves of crushed garlic in oil for a few minutes until the house really smells like garlic. Then put in the sweet potatoes and onions until the potatoes are soft and the onions caramelised. Add the Kale and let it wilt. Add the egg mixture (8-10 eggs, salt and pepper), the tomatoes and cook until the eggs begin to set. Throw some cheese on top and stick it in the oven for about 15 minutes on a nice low heat.

Ash came to eat this and guess what? He didn’t know what a frittata was!!! He had done his research though (google obvs) and concluded it was safe to eat. We had some salad leaves and wholegrain dressing on the side, simple times.

As Anna Rhodes exclaimed upon seeing the said dish on the counter top “Oh I do love a frittata”

Arlene x

Turkish French Toast

I got this recipe from my friends Ali & Nick, who recently told me about an amazing brunch they had in the new restaurant in Haggerston, Trip City Project. I didn’t manage to get to eat brunch there, but dinner was delicious (middle eastern small plates - halloumi fest). I did make them tell me in IN DETAIL what they ate. And so I recreated it, Saturday morning, post swim (smug face smothered in fat). 

French toast your bread (slice of bread drowned, both sides, in a beaten egg, then fried in a pan). On top, spread a layer of tahini. On top of this, fried bacon. On top of this, chopped banana. On top of this, Ali & Nick said they had crushed pistachios, but I went one better (sorry guys) - hazelnut dukkah. This was left over from a fantastic Movember dinner that took place in our house recently. The recipe is by the insanely talented Ant Power, and can be found in the cook book - COOK LIKE A MAN - buy it now, and help the cause - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cook-Like-Man-ultimate-gentleman/dp/0752265539
Anyway, dukkah sprinkled on top, followed by a drizzle of honey (in place of Acacia honey, which i’m sure was a lot nicer!). 

Delicious, easy, bit different. Breakfast noms. 
Medb

Turkish French Toast

I got this recipe from my friends Ali & Nick, who recently told me about an amazing brunch they had in the new restaurant in Haggerston, Trip City Project. I didn’t manage to get to eat brunch there, but dinner was delicious (middle eastern small plates - halloumi fest). I did make them tell me in IN DETAIL what they ate. And so I recreated it, Saturday morning, post swim (smug face smothered in fat).

French toast your bread (slice of bread drowned, both sides, in a beaten egg, then fried in a pan). On top, spread a layer of tahini. On top of this, fried bacon. On top of this, chopped banana. On top of this, Ali & Nick said they had crushed pistachios, but I went one better (sorry guys) - hazelnut dukkah. This was left over from a fantastic Movember dinner that took place in our house recently. The recipe is by the insanely talented Ant Power, and can be found in the cook book - COOK LIKE A MAN - buy it now, and help the cause - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cook-Like-Man-ultimate-gentleman/dp/0752265539
Anyway, dukkah sprinkled on top, followed by a drizzle of honey (in place of Acacia honey, which i’m sure was a lot nicer!).

Delicious, easy, bit different. Breakfast noms.
Medb

Fish Pie Family Meal

Arlene and I have recently separated. It was a sad affair for all, but we have remained true to the blog. And by true, I mean sporadic posting when the moment takes! And yes, we’ve not posted in a while, but we’re slowly getting back on track. Slowly….

In the new house, I now live with 6 people. Part of the moving in process is to for the current housemates to take advantage of the new housemate’s enthusiasm (or the other way round). Saturday, I bribed the current housemates to take part in a reorganisation of the kitchen presses in order to facilitate the inclusion of my excessive spice rack and baking goods. I bribed them all with a promise of a hearty meal.

This fish pie was a cheap, tasty and easy solution to feeding such numbers. A Jamie Oliver recipe, it involves very little preparation, a variety of healthy and hearty ingredients and a small bit of cooking time. What makes this so easy, compared to other fish pies, is that it does not involve cooking the fish beforehand, making a roux or any other complicated activities. In summary, grate 1 carrot, 2 sticks of celery and 150g of cheddar in the food processor. Tip this into a bowl. Add half a finely sliced chilli, 1 leek, thinly sliced, handful of finely chopped parsley, zest and juice of one lemon, a glug of olive oil and 750 g of whatever combination of fish you like (I went for prawns, cod and salmon). Jamie also suggests a good handful of spinach - but this time I went for spring greens, which included some cabbage and kale. I also added 1 dessert spoon of creme fraiche for a slight creaminess. I tipped this all into a deep baking dish and spread.

At the same time, I boiled 1k of chopped potatoes for 12mins, until soft, drained, then added a dash of milk and some butter (not so healthy), and seasoned. I mashed the potatoes, then spread across the fish mixture, ensuring I covered all areas, into the corners. I grated a small bit more cheese (ah sure go on, so) and sprinkled evenly on top. Into the oven at 180-200 for about 40mins, until golden.

The dish has so many vegetables inside, it required very little on the side, but you cant have a pie without peas. And whenever you make peas, there is a general conversation about the joys of this little juicy veg. I cooked the frozen gems for only a couple of minutes, added mint, butter and a small squeeze of lemon and served immediately.

To keep people occupied, and away from my veg, while prepping, I put some radishes, butter and salt onto a plate - for dipping! This is a really simple, quick and easy snack. I usually leave stalks and tips on as it looks nicer, and encourage people to leave them on the side of the plate.

So a fish pie worth writing about. And a delicious family meal after a job well done.
Medb x

BBQ Beets

This weekend I had a lovely dream… 

It was a bank holiday weekend. The sun was shining. BBQ season was back AND a new series of Arrested Development had just been released. Except it wasn’t a dream, it was REAL LIFE #dreamlife

In honour of Medb, who is currently holidaying in French France, I brought along some halloumi for the BBQ. I also made a garlic beetroot salad in honour of myself. I love beetroot. Just chop up cooked beetroot and add crushed garlic, olive oil, a spoonful of red wine vinegar and yoghurt / sour cream - all to taste.  

As usual we were spoiled with everybody’s lovely additions - coleslaw, chicken, lamb skewers, chorizo, cucumbers. And when we couldn’t eat any more, we retired to the fire pit for some Bluth family adventures.


Arlene x

BBQ Beets

This weekend I had a lovely dream…

It was a bank holiday weekend. The sun was shining. BBQ season was back AND a new series of Arrested Development had just been released. Except it wasn’t a dream, it was REAL LIFE #dreamlife

In honour of Medb, who is currently holidaying in French France, I brought along some halloumi for the BBQ. I also made a garlic beetroot salad in honour of myself. I love beetroot. Just chop up cooked beetroot and add crushed garlic, olive oil, a spoonful of red wine vinegar and yoghurt / sour cream - all to taste.

As usual we were spoiled with everybody’s lovely additions - coleslaw, chicken, lamb skewers, chorizo, cucumbers. And when we couldn’t eat any more, we retired to the fire pit for some Bluth family adventures.


Arlene x

Rose Petal Shortbread

This is part of the ‘Where in the world’ series except I have no idea which part. I also have no idea where. No, I’m only joking. This recipe (and ingredients) come from Scotland where I’ve been spending a lot of time of late. But I didn’t pick up this recipe recently. It’s makings come from last summer when I did the West Highland way with a group of friends and followed it up with a trip to the Isle of Skye (go there immediately, it is beautiful). 

Anyway as a little souvenir, I picked up a baking pack for rose petal shortbread. They make a mean shortbread in Scotland and sure Medb and I love anything with a petal in it. Basically they give you the sugar mixed with rose petals in a fancy little jar and the right amount of flour to make the dough (flour also in jar). So the idea is that all you need to make your shortbread is the jar and some butter. Now obviously you can just go out and buy the sugar and butter separately. Fancy jar is not a requirement :-)

This really is simple times. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the flour and it should come together into a dough. Now it does come together but just about. Mine was quite delicate, not sure if this was mean to be the case! Anyway my jar also came with a heart shaped pastry cutter (cute times) so when the dough was rolled out, I cut my shapes and stuck them in the oven for approx 20mins. I then sprinkled them with sugar when they came out…in for a penny as they say.

I think in future I would make these a bit thicker than I did, they were a bit on the crispy side for shortbread. They were still tasty enough though and much better than my other souvenir of the West Highland Way, achilles tendinosis which had me in physio for two weeks! 

Arlene x

Rose Petal Shortbread

This is part of the ‘Where in the world’ series except I have no idea which part. I also have no idea where. No, I’m only joking. This recipe (and ingredients) come from Scotland where I’ve been spending a lot of time of late. But I didn’t pick up this recipe recently. It’s makings come from last summer when I did the West Highland way with a group of friends and followed it up with a trip to the Isle of Skye (go there immediately, it is beautiful).

Anyway as a little souvenir, I picked up a baking pack for rose petal shortbread. They make a mean shortbread in Scotland and sure Medb and I love anything with a petal in it. Basically they give you the sugar mixed with rose petals in a fancy little jar and the right amount of flour to make the dough (flour also in jar). So the idea is that all you need to make your shortbread is the jar and some butter. Now obviously you can just go out and buy the sugar and butter separately. Fancy jar is not a requirement :-)

This really is simple times. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the flour and it should come together into a dough. Now it does come together but just about. Mine was quite delicate, not sure if this was mean to be the case! Anyway my jar also came with a heart shaped pastry cutter (cute times) so when the dough was rolled out, I cut my shapes and stuck them in the oven for approx 20mins. I then sprinkled them with sugar when they came out…in for a penny as they say.

I think in future I would make these a bit thicker than I did, they were a bit on the crispy side for shortbread. They were still tasty enough though and much better than my other souvenir of the West Highland Way, achilles tendinosis which had me in physio for two weeks!

Arlene x

Lemon Chicken Salad

Here are some “about to turn” veg thrown into a light healthy salad. 

Massage a chicken fillet with olive oil, one clove of garlic, juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper. Put under the gril until golden on one side, then flip over. 

In the mean time, slice up some cherry tomatoes, and place on the same tray as the chicken, skin side down. Boil some water in a pot and steam asparagus, and frozen peas. I added half an avocado and a yellow pepper for more textures. 

Over the top was a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of the other half of the lemon, and some salt n pepper. No need for full dressing as your tomatoes, which will be done when the chicken is, are so juicy, as are all your veg. Why disguise such lovely flavours. 

Boom. Colourful, light dinner.
Medb x

Lemon Chicken Salad

Here are some “about to turn” veg thrown into a light healthy salad.

Massage a chicken fillet with olive oil, one clove of garlic, juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper. Put under the gril until golden on one side, then flip over.

In the mean time, slice up some cherry tomatoes, and place on the same tray as the chicken, skin side down. Boil some water in a pot and steam asparagus, and frozen peas. I added half an avocado and a yellow pepper for more textures.

Over the top was a drizzle of olive oil and the juice of the other half of the lemon, and some salt n pepper. No need for full dressing as your tomatoes, which will be done when the chicken is, are so juicy, as are all your veg. Why disguise such lovely flavours.

Boom. Colourful, light dinner.
Medb x

Almond & Cumin Crusted Salmon with Peas

One of my favourite cookbooks (if you can call it that) is the Flavour Thesaurus. What I love about it is that rather than a “cookbook” (although it does have some recipes), it is a directory of flavour combinations.Some of the combinations in the book you will know, like pea & mint, but there are other more unusual combinations… like coconut and parmesan…

Having a nice salmon fillet at my disposal, I opted for two flavours mentioned as being complimentary to oily fish - almond and cumin. This made for a natural crust!

Firstly, I cooked the salmon on the pan, skin side down, to give it a nice crispy bottom ;) . In the mean time, I lightly toasted the almonds, then chopped and crushed them in a pestal and mortar with cumin. I put it into a bowl, seasoned and added a bit of olive oil to help bind.
I put the salmon into the oven for 10mins, then flashed under the grill to crisp up a bit more. On the side, I steamed some frozen peas, then added dill, mint, cucumber and a tad bit of yoghurt.

It was light, and delicious and the joy of not relying on a cook book only made it taste all the better. I seriously can’t be arsed sometimes with weighing a tea spoon of nonsense.
Medb x

Steak & Cake!

We hosted Dearbhail’s 30th bday dinner a couple of weeks ago which was a nice excuse to get people over and eat lots. Medb was in charge of cocktails and starter so I did mains and desserts. I went to Meat 16 in Stokey and got some serious steak. Dearbh loves a good steak. She also loves red velvet cupcakes so I knocked up a batch of those. See how to make them here: http://twoirishgirlsmakefood.tumblr.com/post/15823004391/here-are-my-red-velvet-cupcakes-the-recipe-is

For sides I made some garlicky, herby potatoes and some creamy, nutmeggy spinach. (If Medb’s mam is reading this she’s going to murder me for the grammar). 

I also made Bearnaise sauce, scary times! I used a recipe from my ‘Forgotten skills of cooking’ book. I really love this book and I have great trust in the recipes. So you boil vinegar, wine, shallots and a pinch of pepper in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan until completely reduced and the pan is almost dry but not browned. Then immediately add a tablespoon of cold water and take it off the heat. Then you need to whisk in 2 egg yolks and gradually add the butter, literally piece by piece. Now this is not the time to take your eye off the ball. Keep whisking the sauce and make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Darina didn’t tell me to but I kept adding small bits of cold water for fear that I would end up with scrambled eggs. I didn’t - I ended up with yummy bearnaise sauce! When it has reached the right consistency, add fresh tarragon and season to taste.

With the steaks, I marinated them in garlic, salt and pepper for a couple of hours and then Shirley put them on the pan to everyone’s liking. 

I think Dearbh had a nice time given she declared it was ‘like being in a top notch restaurant’. TOP NOTCH!  Then we all had one glass of wine, finished our dinner in a civilised way then went home to bed at 9pm. No of course we didn’t. More friends came to join us, we stayed up very late and may have played Rihanna ‘Diamonds’. 

Happy Bday Dearbhail!

Arlene x

Steak & Cake!

We hosted Dearbhail’s 30th bday dinner a couple of weeks ago which was a nice excuse to get people over and eat lots. Medb was in charge of cocktails and starter so I did mains and desserts. I went to Meat 16 in Stokey and got some serious steak. Dearbh loves a good steak. She also loves red velvet cupcakes so I knocked up a batch of those. See how to make them here: http://twoirishgirlsmakefood.tumblr.com/post/15823004391/here-are-my-red-velvet-cupcakes-the-recipe-is

For sides I made some garlicky, herby potatoes and some creamy, nutmeggy spinach. (If Medb’s mam is reading this she’s going to murder me for the grammar).

I also made Bearnaise sauce, scary times! I used a recipe from my ‘Forgotten skills of cooking’ book. I really love this book and I have great trust in the recipes. So you boil vinegar, wine, shallots and a pinch of pepper in a heavy-bottomed stainless steel saucepan until completely reduced and the pan is almost dry but not browned. Then immediately add a tablespoon of cold water and take it off the heat. Then you need to whisk in 2 egg yolks and gradually add the butter, literally piece by piece. Now this is not the time to take your eye off the ball. Keep whisking the sauce and make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Darina didn’t tell me to but I kept adding small bits of cold water for fear that I would end up with scrambled eggs. I didn’t - I ended up with yummy bearnaise sauce! When it has reached the right consistency, add fresh tarragon and season to taste.

With the steaks, I marinated them in garlic, salt and pepper for a couple of hours and then Shirley put them on the pan to everyone’s liking.

I think Dearbh had a nice time given she declared it was ‘like being in a top notch restaurant’. TOP NOTCH! Then we all had one glass of wine, finished our dinner in a civilised way then went home to bed at 9pm. No of course we didn’t. More friends came to join us, we stayed up very late and may have played Rihanna ‘Diamonds’.

Happy Bday Dearbhail!

Arlene x