Each month I receive Easy Food- A brilliant Irish food magazine that's packed with a vast variety of lovely recipes. I keep my back dated issues together on a shelf and I regularly refer to them.
To buy from a newsagent this magazine is fantastic value at 3 euros, however I get the magazine renewed through my Tesco vouchers and it only costs 1 euro per issue- Simply unbelievable value as it is also delivered to my door for this price.
This month I am testing a recipe for the Easy Food Magazine and these Steak Tacos is that recipe. I enjoy this sort of dining as one can have bowls of salad, grated cheese, guacamole etc all ready for serving in the fridge, then when guests arrive the meat can quickly be fried. I would advice to have the tortillas hot and possibly sprinkle each with a little cheese before taking off the pan. The steak that I use for these would be the end pieces of fillet steak, as my butcher charges the same price for these as sirloin steak and it is so deliciously tender the fillet is perfect for quick frying. The meat also needs to be sizzling hot when serving because once you add the salads etc the wrap cools down considerably. The taco can be served with chips, some boiled rice or a little salad.

Steak Taco

2lbs steak (any type you like) in strips
1/2 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper
1 large candful coriander, chopped
1 1/2tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
8 tortilla wraps
small head of lettuce, shredded
roast tomato salsa
100g grated cheese
To serve
sour cream

1 Place the steak in a ziplock bag with the onion, garlic, lime,
pepper, coriander and olive oil.
2. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least two hours.
3. Once marinated, place under the grill or on a griddle pan and cook for 5-10 minutes each side, depending on how you like you steak done.
4. Heat the tortillas in a large dry pan. Sprinkle with cheese if desired
and allow it to melt.
5. Serve the tortillas with the steak and other fillings, and allow your guests to assemble their own.

This toastie can be pan-fried, cooked in a sandwich toaster or in a George Foreman grill. It is delicious whichever way it is cooked. To make it a little bit healthier add some sliced banana with the chocolate and marshmallow.

Chocolate & Marshmallow S'more Toastie

2 slices of brioche
Butter for spreading
Marshmallows, cut in four or use mini ones.
2 squares of chocolate, grated or thinly sliced
To serve
Vanilla ice cream
Icing sugar

1. Spread some butter on one side of the bread.
2. Sprinkle some marshmallows and chocolate on one of the unbuttered sides of bread.
3. Sandwich together with butter side facing up.
4. Place on a hot pan and carefully turn after a minute or when the bread has turned a golden colour.
5. Carefully put on a plate and cut into four.
6. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and dust with icing sugar.

Fionn doesn't exactly have a nervous disposition, however he has a tendency to express concern over random television programmes such as shows on Nick Jr featuring children singing. He runs frantically out of the room until the t.v is switched off. No reassurances from us will get him watching these programmes but then suddenly one day he'll see whichever show that had been bothering him and he'll decide to watch it again. Fionn's main concern, at the moment, is the weather or the lack of good weather. He has become obsessed with 'storm clouds', constantly peeping out the window to see what colour the clouds are and if they are travelling our way!! Dad has lived with us for the past 18mths and a lot of his conversations also revolves around the weather, especially if Evelyn Cusack has given the weather as he's convinced that she only predicts rain! So it's no mystery really that one of the boys has picked up on these extended weather reports.

Today at 8.56am Fionn turned 3 and for the past few weeks whenever anyone asked him how he was going to spend his birthday, with a worried face he would reply that he wasn't planning a party because storm clouds were on the way. Unfortunately for Fionn his prediction came true and today it is raining. It so happens that many of his friends are on holidays so it suits to postpone his party for a couple of weeks, at least until the sun makes a return. A real love of Fionn's (funnily enough!) is cooking, so today he gets to choose what he would like to cook. One recipe which I will post tomorrow is a Marshmallow and Chocolate Toastie. If too much of this is consumed it is sickeningly sweet but half of one of these with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is rather tasty and kids love them.

Yesterday I was in Lidl and I was delighted to see beautiful, healthy basil plants for 99c. I love basil, it's a really versatile herb. It is great in soups, as a main ingredient in pesto, scattered over a homemade pizza and in many pasta dishes, basically anywhere you use a tomato, basil can be introduced, as tomato and basil are a real winning combination. We are now starting to see an abundance of tomatoes in the green house, however this soup is perfect made with tinned tomatoes, just make sure to add the sugar to allow for the high acidity in the tinned variety. My boys love this soup and if there is any leftover they request it over some hot pasta with a little freshly grated Parmesan.

Tomato and Basil Soup

knob of butter
drizzle of olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 14 oz (400 g) tins of tomatoes
400 mls vegetable stock/ chicken stock
handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp sugar
4 fl ozs (120 ml) cream

1. Sweat the onion and the garlic in the butter and a drizzle of olive oil on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured.
2. Add the chopped tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock.
3. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes. Add the basil and simmer for a further couple of mins.
4. Liquidize. Bring back to a simmer, correct seasoning and add the cream.
5. Serve with a little drizzle of cream and if you really like basil put a little spoonful of basil pesto on top of the bowl of hot soup.
Head Gardener!!!

Sean, my nephew who has fantastic patience with the kids, is helping the boys to plant some peas.

Potatoes ready for digging.

Men at work!!

We are lucky to have a great variety of fruit in the garden. The vibrant colours from the fresh fruit always amazes me and really compliments any dessert.

This has to be one of my favourite topping for buns and one that many have asked me for the recipe. I always find that decorated buns keep best when iced soon after they cool. This topping would keep well, in the fridge, for 4-5 days. Recently I have started to omit the food colouring from the mixture due to the recent information and health precautions about Tartrazine (E102) which is an added ingredient in yellow food colouring.

Creamy Lemon Bun Topping

30g softened butter
80g plain cream cheese (Philadelphia)
250g icing sugar, sieved
2-3 drops lemon essence
½ teaspoon yellow food colouring
Hundreds & Thousands to sprinkle

1. Place the softened butter and cream cheese into a large bowl and blend well.
2. Slowly add the icing sugar and continue to blend. Add the lemon essence and blend again.
3. Add a drop at a time of the food colouring. Put in the fridge for about half an hour.
4. Put large spoonful of icing on top of each bun and spread evenly.
5. Sprinkle with Hundreds & Thousands to decorate.
This is a recipe from Nigella Lawson's Forever Summer Series- As with many of Nigella's recipes this one is just assembly and perfect for entertaining. Get your butcher to chop the whole chicken into 10 pieces. A fantastic way to cook chicken as there is very little waste, delicious hot or cold and perfect served with roasties and veg or salads and bread.

The lemons and roasted garlic almost caramelise while cooking, which add a delicious flavour to the cooked chicken. I am always in search of "easy entertaining" recipes and this couldn't be simpler- just pop in the oven a couple of hours before your guests arrive and I love the fact that it is ready for the table straight from the oven.

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken

1 x 2-2.25kg Chicken cut into 10 pieces
2 heads Garlic separated into unpeeled cloves
2 unwaxed Lemons cut into chunky eighths
Bunch of fresh Thyme
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
150 ml white wine
Black pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC/325°F/gas mark 3.
2. Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and add garlic cloves, lemon chunks and the thyme; just roughly pull the leaves off the stalks, leaving some intact for strewing over later.
3.Add the oil and using your hands mix everything together, then spread the mixture out, m aking sure all the chicken pieces are skin side up.
4. Sprinkle over the white wine and grind on some pepper, then cover tightly with foil and put in the oven to cook, at flavour-intensifying low heat, for 2 hours.
5. Remove the foil from the roasting tin, and turn up the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.
Cook the uncovered chicken for another 30-45 minutes, by which time the skin on the meat will have turned golden brown and the lemons will have begun to scorch and caramelise at the edges.

Serve this as it is, straight from the roasting tin: so just strew with your remaining thyme and dole out.
I have approximately 70 strawberry plants in the garden and I'm amazed at what a large crop we had this year. Hence I am constantly in search of recipes which include strawberries. Normally for most deserts strawberries are served cold, but in this recipe, they are cooked with a few extra strawberries served on the side. This is a recipe from the lovely Catherine Fulvio, (Ballyknocken House) which she demonstrated at Taste of Dublin in June. Ballyknocken House is located in Co. Wicklow and offers a large range of cookery classes from Italian cuisine to budget meals. We are especially lucky in Ireland as there so many wonderful cookery classes on offer in so many beautiful locations.

Some of the strawberry pickers at work!

Catherine Fulvio, at Taste Of Dublin, with Jack and my niece Caoimhe.  

Strawberry Brownies

100g butter
3 eggs
150g caster sugar
150g chocolate, broken
100g self-raising flour, sieved
25g walnuts, coarsely chopped
8 strawberries, washed, hulled and roughly chopped
30g white chocolate for decorating
12 strawberries for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C(fan)/390f/gas mark 6.
2. Grease the base of a 20cm shallow, square cake tin and line with baking parchment.
3. Beat the eggs and sugar with a hand whisk.
4. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water (bain-marie) until smooth. Stir chocolate into the egg mixture.
5. Fold in the flour, nuts and strawberries. Pour into the square cake tin, spreading evenly and bake for 30 - 35 minutes until just set.
6. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack. Take off the parchment paper and cut into 12 squares.
Homemade potato wedges taste so good and they are similar to chipper chips without the guilt of all those extra calories! I regularly make these to accompany any meal and the boys love them. It's important to dry the wedges well before drizzling with olive oil, as the starch in the potato will make the wedges stick to the baking tray ( this is a job I always give to the boys to do). For spicy wedges sprinkle with a little cajun mix or paprika before baking. For a more 'rustic' wedge scrub the potato well and leave the skin on.

450g potatoes (an old variety works best)
2tbsp olive oil
sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 200° C/fan 180° C/gas mark 6.
2. Peel and cut the potatoes into similar size wedges.
3. Dry the wedges well with kitchen paper.
4. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil- enough to lightly coat each wedge.
5. Sprinkle over some salt.
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 25-30 mins or until golden and cooked through.
Serve to accompany any meal or simply with a big dollop of ketchup as a really tasty snack!!

This recipe is from Neven Maguire's - Neven Cooks 2 (2003). It is well worth having a variety of spices to hand in your larder. It makes a recipe like this easy to rustle up quickly. Chillies can also be bought chopped and ready for use in the refrigerated area in the supermarket. I love such a recipe that appears to be a lot of effort, but as with many recipes, if you have a well-stocked larder press producing a delicious meal is easy. I normally use coconut milk in place of the fresh cream in this recipe; add it straight after the chicken and allow the dish to simmer for 20 minutes. It's important that the coconut milk does not boil as it will result in the sauce 'splitting'. The cream/coconut milk can be omitted for a healthier yet still flavoursome option. This curry benefits from sitting in the fridge overnight to let all the delicious flavours infuse.

Chicken Korma

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp finely grated root ginger
1 green or red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp garam marsala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp tomato purée
4 chicken breasts, diced
150ml coconut milk or fresh cream

To Serve
2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped 
cooked basmati rice
warmed naan bread
Greek yoghurt

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic for about 10 mins, on a low heat, until golden brown. Stir in the ginger and chilli and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the garam masala to the pan with turmeric, chilli powder, a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and 150ml of water, stir well to combine. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 mins, stirring regularly. The sauce will be so well reduced that it is almost sticking to the bottom of the pan and the oil will have separated out on the surface.
  4. Add the chicken to the pan with a few tablespoons of water to the reduced sauce.
  5. Slowly bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. If using the coconut milk, add it now and simmer gently for about 20 mins or until the chicken is completely cooked.
  6. After this time if using the cream, in place of the coconut milk, add and simmer gently for a couple of minutes more. Season to taste.
Serve with a scattering of fresh coriander, boiled basmati rice and warmed naan bread. If it is a little spicy a spoonful of yoghurt will cool it down nicely.