Walnut Pesto Soda Bread – So Easy, A Limbless Crack Addict Could Make It

Posted on: 24 September 2010 No comments

I recently had the great fortune of attending a one day bakery course at The Cook’s Academy in Dun Laoighre. It was certainly not on their manual, but one valuable lesson I inadvertently learnt from them was – baking is a lot like beating a red headed stepchild, the more you do it, the better you get at it. And both activities are extremely satisfying.

That wasn’t the only nugget I picked up that day, I went away with a real revelation actually – soda bread is a piece of piss to make. A doddle even. It needs bugger all work, doesn’t need any time to rest and you can put practically anything into it. But pesto and soda bread go really well together.

On the day of the course, we used basil pesto. I didn’t want to say it there and then,  but basil pesto is for pussies.  It’s also completely overused. Practically impossible to avoid these days.  Walnut pesto is much better, especially when you roast the garlic. This recipe will give you enough for a few jars, some of which you can stick into some of the ridiculously easy to make soda bread.



- 250 ml of extra virgin olive oil

- 1 cup of walnuts, slightly browned for 2 minutes on a dry frying pan

- 6 cloves of roasted garlic (peel the garlic, rub in some olive oil and roast for 15 mins @ 180 degrees on a tray)

- 1 teaspoon of sea salt

- 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan

- 2 fistfuls of flat leaf parsley, without their stalks


- Lash the oil and parsley leaves into a blender. Blitz it. Then lash everything else in and blitz it up. Bring it all to whatever consistency you prefer, it should be paste like  and not too liquidy. When you put the pesto in a jar, leave enough space at the top for a little bit of oil. Helps to keep it fresh.




- 450 g plain white flour

- 1 teaspoon of sieved bread soda

- 1 teaspoon of salt

- 400 ml of butter milk

- 1.5 tablespoons of walnut pesto

- 50 g of coarsely grated parmesan or a mature white cheddar


Preheat your oven to 220 degrees. Sieve the flour, salt and bread soda into a wide bowl.

Add in the pesto and cheese. Make a well in the centre of the mix and pour in most of the butter milk. Mix it all up with your hands drawing in the flour from the sides of the bowl, add more milk if needed. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. Once it is, leave it, don’t over mix. When it’s all together, turn it onto a well floured, dry work surface.

Flour your hands. Gently roll the ball of dough for a few seconds then pat it into a round shape, about 5cm high. Place the dough on a lightly floured baking sheet. With a sharp knife cut a deep cross into it going over the side of the dough. Then you prick the four triangles with a fork.  This will give it all a shape.

Lash the dough into the oven for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to 200 degrees for about another 25 minutes or until it goes golden in colour. The bread is cooked when you hear a hollow sound after tapping the base.

If you have a phobia of baking, this is the one that will break the fear. A limbless crack addict could make this bread and still have time to mug a girl scout.

Ride A Vegetarian, Cook A Chickpea Curry

Posted on: 17 September 2010 No comments

That awkward moment when……. How many facebook groups begin with those four words? And how many are you a member of?

- That awkward moment when you ask Meatloaf to do that

- That awkward moment when someone tells you that they’re a Man Utd. fan

Of course there’s the slightly more off colour ones: - That awkward moment when you bump into Larry Murphy in the Wicklow Mountains

If any of you have the time or the inclination, can you please set one up called:

That awkward moment when you realize the person you are trying to have sex with, is a vegetarian. And you’ve just invited them round for dinner. And he/she is with you right now in a cab coz you’ve just left the pub. And you’re horny. Coz you’re drunk.

If you do happen to find yourself in one of those sticky circumstances, DO NOT whip up an omelette or run down to the deli to pick up a Goat’s cheese tart. Assuming that veggies will appreciate these dishes is like assuming that all Irish people wear green.  What you need to do, is stick your head into an Arab/Indian/Asian store (there are an abundance of them round my way) and pick up whatever you need to make:



Parathas are Indian flatbreads that you will find in the freezer of any Asian foodstore. They are always individually wrapped and you cook them by placing on a dry frying pan. There are all sorts of varieties, the wholemeal is my favourite.



1 packet of frozen parathas

2 cans of chickpeas

3 tablespoons of butter

1/2 teaspoon of fresh minced garlic

1 teaspoon of fresh ginger

2 medium onions chopped

1 teaspoon of turmeric

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 green chillies (for a fairly good heat, reduce to 1 chilli for mild)

1 tablespoon of ground coriander

2 teaspoons of garam masala

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of freshly chopped coriander


- Drain the chickpeas but reserve the water they came in, you will need it later.

- Heat the butter in pot on a medium heat. Add in the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Fry it off gently for a couple of minutes.

- Add the ground coriander and chick peas, cook for about 10 minutes.

- Lash in the reserved liquid and cook for another 10 minutes. Then you add in the lemon juice and garam masala, stir it up a little and then cook for a couple more minutes.

- While that’s cooling off a little, stir in the fresh coriander  and cook the parathas by placing them, one at a time on a dry frying pan til they’re golden brown on each side.

To serve, place a paratha on a plate and dollop on some of the curry, with maybe a little natural yoghurt on the side.

Jerry Springer’s Final Thought. Paul McCartney is quoted as saying, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Ask me Swiss.  I refuse to be lectured to by a bloke that got engaged to a one legged psycho, two weeks before she was due to get married to some other geezer. Muppet.

Electric Picnic 2010 Grub – Pieminister

Posted on: 8 September 2010 2 comments

Another Picnic is over and once again I feel simultaneously inspired, yet gang raped.  I got down on Thursday evening and left Monday afternoon, 4 days of running amok and feeding the senses, probably won’t feel the full shilling for another week now, but who gives a shiny shite.  For me, this was their best yet.  The crowd, the atmosphere, the 36 hours of amazing weather, the music, the installations, the craic – all of it came together magically.

And while they are still fresh on my mind, I would like to share some brand new EP related nuggets of advice with you lot.

- TENTS ARE FOR SCHMUCKS - Myself and one of the lads stayed in a transit van. It was bang on. But even a car is better than a tent. They always get wet, you freeze your nads off in them, they’re not secure and they often blow away. More importantly, you can never sleep in a campsite. There’s always some gang of muppets regaling each other with drug stories at 100 decibels or some madoutofit who will fall on top of you. Park the car, roll out the sleeping bag.

- BRING SOME FLIP FLOPS OR DISPOSABLE SLIPPERS FOR THE SHOWERS - I was shocked by the amount of bare feet I saw coming in and out of the showers. These punters must be covered in verrucas, blisters and sores right now. The next time you’re in a hotel rob some slippers and keep them for EP 2011. Here’s me and trusty companion sporting this year’s must have accessory, the white cloth slipper from Dublin 2’s 5 star hotel, The Merrion:


- ONE I ROBBED FROM PANTI - Her festival survival guide @ THISISPOPBABY was essential viewing for everyone down there, not just for entertainment value, but for the practical pointers she had to share. One of which was to always have a pocket bottle of bacterial hand gel at hand.

ALCG50Strange germs lurk everywhere at festivals, this will help you keep clean. But as Panti pointed out, just don’t get it mixed up with lube when you’re fumbling round your tent in the heat of passion. We’ve all been there.

- QUEUING IS FOR SCHMUCKS - Honestly lads, when you’ve paid top dollar for a weekend ticket, you DO NOT need to spend the whole time standing in line like a hapless moron. This is not communist Russia. Yet, I am always astounded at the lengths of the queues for food, especially  for Pieminister.

Now, I will be the first to say, that those lads do serve top quality festival food, but there are some punters out there who will gladly wait an hour for their offerings. This is the behaviour of a schmuck. You have only a limited amount of time, in which to have the craic. Don’t waste it standing in a queue for for fuck’s sake.

Perhaps the allure of a pie might not be so tempting if you know how to make one yourself. So in the interest of queue prevention here’s how to make a Pieminister staple.




For the pie base:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 60 g ( 2 oz) of Suet (Any butcher will give you this. It’s basically fat.
  • For the Pie Top: 375 g (12 oz) packaged puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon water

For the filling:

  • 500 g cubed stewing beef
  • 115 g carrots, diced
  • 115 g turnips, diced
  • 225 g peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 115 g onions, diced
  • 235 ml water
  • 235 ml Smithwick’s

- 1 Kallo beef stock cube

- 1 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper


  • For the filling:
  • Heat some olive oil in a pot.
  • Fry the beef. When it has browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Mix the flour onto the beef and spread it round evenly. Then throw in the veg into the pot and brown it for about a minute or so.
  • Put the beef back into the pot with everything else. Bring it to the boil and let it simmer with the lid on for 1 hour. Your filling is now made.
  • Making the pie bases:
  • Sift flour and salt into basin.
  • If your suet is already dry put into the flour and salt. If not then grate it or crumble it in and mix it all evenly.
  • Make a well in centre of dry ingredients, add water and stir until combined.
  • Turn out onto lightly floured surface, knead lightly. Roll out pastry to line eight greased pie tins(you can grease them with olive oil or butter).
  • You should get 6 – 8 standard sized pies out of this amount. Cut excess pastry around sides of pie plates using a sharp knife. Do not put filling into pies until you’ve made the pie tops.
  • Making the pie tops:
  • Put the filling into each pie, but only after it has cooled down. Roll out puff pastry on lightly floured surface, cut out rounds for top of pies, use a saucer as a guide. Wet edges of base pastry, and gently press tops into place, trim around edges with a sharp knife. Brush tops with combined egg-yolk and water.
  • Final cook off:
  • Place pie tins in a 200 degree oven for 5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 150 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes.


Don’t bother being adventurous. Lash out the chips and mushy peas.


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