The Fit Foodie: Soda bread and chorizo and cheddar mini muffins.

Derval O’Rourke dishes up bread with a gorgeous honey, blue cheese and walnut soda recipe plus some chorizo and cheddar mini muffins. 
The Fit Foodie: Soda bread and chorizo and cheddar mini muffins.

THIS week I’m focusing on bread with a gorgeous honey, blue cheese and walnut soda recipe plus some chorizo and cheddar mini muffins. These recipes are from a cookery class I recently attended on Heir Island, West Cork. I’m also sharing some of my favourite foodie days out.

I love an organized day out that centres around food and know that many of you will share this passion. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of my tried and tested foodie adventures. I hope they give you some inspiration to try a different day out this weekend.

The Firehouse Bread School

I recently did their one-day bread making course and really enjoyed it. Spending the day learning about baking on Heir Island in West Cork was a beautiful experience. It was interesting to hear Patrick Ryan speak about the ingredients and why good quality bread is totally worth the effort for your health. They packed so much into the day and afterwards we headed back on the ferry with a goodie bag of our own delicious bread. The courses are popular and sell out fast so I advise booking early. I attended with my husband and mother in law who both loved this day out.

Ballymaloe Cookery School

This one needs little introduction as their 12-week certificate has been the starting point for many well-known chefs, food producers and writers. The school places a strong emphasis on real food, sustainability and growing things at home, which I love. There is a wide range of courses on offer including my one day workshop, the next one is on in October. The day consists of a cooking demo with lots of easy, healthy recipes plus a fitness session you can replicate at home. Their Instagram account @ballymaloecookeryschool is great and offers insights into the everyday life of the school; it’s definitely worth following to pick up cookery tips and get inspiration. Even if you are not taking part in one of the courses, I’d highly recommend a visit. A walk through the school’s organic farm and gardens plus some food from the café afterwards is a pleasure all in itself.

Cooks Academy Dublin

Located in the heart of Dublin City centre and run by Vanessa Green, the Cooks Academy is a real gem. Vanessa is passionate about getting people cooking no matter what their ability. The school offers a broad range of culinary programmes and short courses so there is something for everyone. Be sure to check out their website for some great recipe inspiration. It’s also a great spot for an evening team building if you are looking for an activity for you and your work colleagues.

Dublin Cookery School

I loved the time I spent here, I learned so much about food and even ran my fastest time in 7 years a few months after doing their certificate course. The school is run by Lynda Booth and was named “Best Cookery School in Ireland” in 2013 and 2015, which isn’t surprising as it’s a very impressive premises and Lynda’s enthusiasm is evident from the start. There is plenty of options to suit all abilities and your most difficult task will be choosing from the many courses on offer.

Fitspiration: @firehousebread

This week’s recipes are by Patrick Ryan of the Firehouse Bread School. They run courses on Heir Island in West Cork and also have a beautiful café and bakery in Delgany, Wicklow. Their social media accounts will make you want to eat your body weight in bread!

Honey, blue cheese and walnut soda bread

I’m a big fan of soda bread as it’s quick and easy to make. I like it fresh out of the oven with some real butter and a bowl of homemade soup.

The addition of the salty blue cheese, sweet honey and crunchy walnuts in this recipe make for a delicious twist on the traditional soda bread.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30-40 minutes

Serves: 8-10


500g coarse wholemeal flour

1tsp salt

2tsp bicarbonate soda

150g blue cheese, crumbled

50g honey

400ml milk

1tbsp yoghurt

100g walnuts


Preheat the oven to 200C Combine the flour, salt and bread soda in a bowl.

Add the blue cheese and mix through the flour. Avoid over mixing as you want to keep your blue cheese chunks large.

Make a well in the centre and add the honey, milk and yoghurt.

Fold in the flour with the walnuts, taking care not to over mix.

Grease and flour a cake/loaf tin, add the bread mix and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes

Bake the bread for

30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.

Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool.

Recipe: Firehouse Bakery

Chorizo and cheddar muffins

These easy to make savoury muffins can be served warm from the oven or, if made in advance, frozen, defrosted and reheated.

They taste great served with eggs for brunch and are a great addition to any lunchbox.

The strong flavours work well here, but feel free to use this recipe as a blueprint to create your own flavour combinations.

These are a great lunch box filler for all you parents out there facing into the lunchbox challenge.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 16-18 minutes

Serves: 8


500g plain flour

10g bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

400g milk

100g chorizo, diced and pan fried until crisp

200g cheddar cheese, grated

25g red wine vinegar


Preheat the oven to 180C Sieve the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large clean bowl.

Mix through 2/3 of the grated cheese.

Make a well in the centre and add the milk and vinegar.

Add the chorizo and combine gently to form a loose dough.

Spoon the mixture into a greased and lined muffin tray, filling to just below the rim.

Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.

Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes then bake in the oven for 16-18 minutes.

Allow to cool and enjoy.

Recipe: Firehouse Bakery

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