This week I’m writing my column with a different hat on. I’m writing about a recent experience I had in the food world.

I’m talking about home cooking and giving you two stunning recipes by great home cooks.

I work with the National Dairy Council and this year they asked me to be a judge in their Cheese Up Your Life recipe competition. 

The other two judges were Cork chef Clodagh McKenna and Cooks Academy owner Vanessa Greenwood. Both ladies are real inspirations to me in the food world.

Clodagh is an amazing chef and has forged a career across three countries but most impressively she is incredibly humble and kind when it comes to helping others, she has helped me on many occasions. 

Vanessa set up and runs the cookery school Cooks Academy. Her school is in the heart of Dublin and is a thriving food business.

Both work incredibly hard and really make a difference to the food scene in Ireland. 

It was a real pleasure to spend time with them. The category that we judged together was the home-cooks recipe category.

It’s a category that I felt strongly about because I consider myself a healthy home cook. I use my experience as a former professional athlete and my time in cookery school to create my recipes.

The entrants in the competition used their experiences to create their recipes and I absolutely loved them. After I judged the competition I came home and made the recipes in my kitchen. 

Any recipe that inspires me is pretty impressive because I spend so much time working on my own. I made the recipes because they ticked the boxes that I care about when it comes to cooking.

Firstly they tasted great. The combination of the ingredients worked really well together. Secondly, the recipes were very accessible for home cooks which is something that I feel passionately about. 

Finally, the recipes were good value for money, I hate recipes with excessively expensive ingredients that are not accessible for people. 

I really hope you like these recipes as much as I did and that you will give them a go.

Fitspiration

This week I would like you to give a follow to Clodagh McKenna. You will marvel at the stunning pictures of her travelling between Cork, Dublin, London and New York cooking up a storm. 

Her Instagram handle is @ClodaghMcKenna

Cheesy Fish Smokies

This recipe was created by Gráinne Moggan from Dublin. I loved this recipe idea straight away because it uses fish, and as we all know fish is full of great protein and omega 3 so it’s a winning ingredient in my house.

The Fit Foodie: Cheesy Fish Smokies and Cheesy Bean Lasagne

I’ve often been asked to create this type of recipe so the fact that Gráinne did it for me makes it even better! This is Gráinne’s recipe in her own words:

“Röstis of potato, fish, carrot, celery and Comté served with roasted vine tomatoes and dill crème fraiche.”

It’s a good way to disguise lots of nutritious veg into something really tasty so it would be good for kids too.

Prep Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 60 mins

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 500g fish pie mix (salmon, white fish and smoked fish)
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 150g Comté cheese
  • 150g crème fraiche
  • punnet of vine tomatoes (vine still attached)
  • handful of fresh dill
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4.

Grate the potatoes, carrots and celery.

Place the mixture between two clean tea towels and roll to squeeze out the moisture. Then transfer mix to a bowl.

Grate the cheese and roughly chop all of the fish, add both to the vegetable mix.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Add four tablespoons of olive oil and shape the mix into flat patties, about 6 inches in diameter. You should have approx 12 patties in total.

Place patties on lined baking trays and pop into oven for 45 minutes or until golden and crispy around the edges.

Add the vine tomatoes to the tray for the last 15 minutes.

Stack 2 röstis on a plate with a side of tomatoes and top with crème fraiche and a sprinkle of fresh dill.

Cheesy Bean Lasagne

The second dish is created by Róisín Gallagher from Dublin. It appealed to me because all of the ingredients are easy to find in your kitchen and this is super inexpensive to make. 

The Fit Foodie: Cheesy Fish Smokies and Cheesy Bean Lasagne

I recently recreated this for friends for dinner and they were all really impressed. In her own words this is how Róisín describes her recipe:

“This dish is extremely tasty, easy to make, nutritious and filling. It is a great midweek meal and any leftovers can be eaten for lunch the following day and almost taste better as the flavours really develop.”

Prep Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 60 mins

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

For the tomato sauce

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 red chilli, finely chopped (including seeds)
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander including stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 250ml water
  • freshly ground pepper

For the filling

  • 1 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 400g haricot beans, drained
  • 2 x 250g tins sweetcorn kernels, drained
  • 200g mature Irish cheddar cheese, grated
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 and a half soft tortilla wraps, cut into quarters

For tomato salsa

  • small punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of half lime
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander
  • salt and pepper

Heat the oven to 200C / gas mark 6.

To make the tomato sauce, heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic cloves, red onion, pepper and chilli.

Cook gently for 15 minutes until soft; then add the chopped coriander stalks and season with black pepper.

Add the tinned tomatoes and baby spinach allow to simmer gently until the sauce thickens, if the sauce becomes too dry loosen it out with some water.

To make the filling, mix the drained beans and sweetcorn in a bowl. Add most of the grated cheese, reserving some to sprinkle on the top at the end, and mix together.

Start to assemble the lasagne by spreading about a third of the tomato sauce at the bottom your ovenproof dish, then layer on six tortilla quarters so that they cover the sauce and overlap slightly.

Add a third of the beans and cheese mixture. Repeat this step 3 times.

To finish, add the last layer of beans and cheese, nearly all of the remaining tomato sauce and cover with the last six tortilla quarters. Spread the very last bit of salsa over the tortillas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

While, the lasagne is cooking, prepare your tomato salsa and guacamole by combining all of your ingredients.

To serve, sprinkle over the crumbled feta cheese, sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and lots of fresh coriander.

Optional serving suggestions: tomato salsa, guacamole, natural yoghurt, corn on the cob, limes and toasted sunflower seeds.


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