Posts Tagged ‘food


Dinner at The Mill, Dunfanaghy

I mentioned before we went on our break that Ian and I were being treated to a dinner at The Mill, Dunfanaghy, which has always been one of our very favourite places to eat. We haven’t managed to have dinner there for about five years now, what with the kids, so this was a massive treat!

The Mill is a fabulous Georgian building stunningly set at the edge of the New Lake just outside Dunfanaghy. The restaurant is magnificent, and if you’re really lucky, you can stay there too. I never have, but I hear that the rooms are amongst the best in Ireland.

Upon arrival, you are greeted by their lovely staff and invited to sit either in the conservatory or by a roaring open fire whilst you look at the menu. They bring you your drinks and a couple of delicious complimentary tasters to eat whilst you make your decision- we had rosemary bread served with mackerel pate, and melba toast served with crabmeat, both of which were gorgeous.

The menus strongly feature seafood and local organically reared beef and lamb. The lamb in particular comes from just a mile or so down the road on Horn Head, and I’ve been told people come again and again just to taste it! Seafood is also sourced from Donegal. The region is spoilt for choice in this area, as it has a very extensive sealine and a strong fishing community.

Once our order had been taken, we moved into the restaurant itself, and were delighted to be given a wonderful table right beside the window overlooking the lake. What a gorgeous view! It was a beautiful evening, and you could feel the tension drain away as you looked out.


I had really struggled with my choice of starter, as I was in the mood for seafood, and the mussels and clam starters sounded delicious. However I eventually went for a mixed seafood starter, which featured crab claw, plaice fillet and scallop, served with guacamole. This was gorgeous, beautifully presented and a perfect size for a starter. Ian chose duck confit, served with redcurrant, and it was melt in the mouth delicious. I pinched some of his and really enjoyed it- but there was no way he was getting any of mine!!

For my main course, I decided on an open seafood lasagne, which featured (amongst others) crab claws, clams, salmon, and plaice. When it arrived, I thought it looked a little bland, but the flavours were wonderful- very delicate and perfectly seasoned. The clams in particular were perfection. Ian had a lovely steak, which was deliciously tender and well cooked. The accompaniment of champ was gorgeous, I used some to mop up the last of the creamy sauce from my lasagne!

We both decided to go for the chocolate delight with marmalade ice cream for dessert. The chocolate delight was a light sponge around a melting chocolate middle- very rich and delicious. The ice cream had quite a lot of marmalade in it (well, duh!) and wasn’t quite as sweet or mild as I’d been expecting, but was lovely.

Coffee is then served in the conservatory overlooking the lake as the sun sets, and they bring you home made fudge and petit fours to eat whilst you drink your coffee (as if you needed anything else to eat after all of that!!).

This is not an inexpensive place to eat. The set three course menu is currently at 42.95 euro per person, but believe me, this is truly excellent value. The food is of the highest possible standard and you can really taste the care and dedication that has gone into not only the preparation of the food, but also the choosing of the ingredients.

Wonderful food, lovely service from friendly locals, and a truly beautiful restaurant. I can’t wait to return, in fact, if I had loads of money, I’d probably just move in! 😀



Pork and Apple Burgers

I forgot to take a picture of these. My kids have already eaten them, so I imagine they must have tasted pretty nice… 😀

I would think you could successfully make these with turkey mince too. They really hold their shape during cooking, and they are very low in fat if you choose your mince carefully. Great for all the family, especially if like me you’re trying to reduce the amount of beef you eat.

Makes 4 decent sized burgers-

400g/scanty 2 cups lean pork mince

1 free range egg (mine was so free range it came from a friend’s farm!)

1 well flavoured dessert apple, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage

  • Preheat grill to a hot setting
  • Combine all the ingredients except the breadcrumbs in a large bowl
  • Add enough breadcrumbs to make the mixture come together
  • Scoop up a hand-sized amount and roll into a ball between your palms
  • Flatten into a burger between your palms
  • Grill for around 13-15 minutes, turning occasionally. Serve with salad if you’re good and freshly prepared chips if you’re not. 😀

As I was feeding this to my kids, I did not season with salt and pepper, but you could do so if you wished.


Tarragon Chicken

Here’s my recipe for tarragon chicken. I like it served with steamed baby potatoes, or a nice variety like Anya, as in my picture. The picture is even worse than usual- sometimes I think my photography is getting worse with every passing day!

This is a really delicious supper dish which tastes quite luxurious. It would be lovely over rice as well.

Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry/greedy you are!!

500g/2 cups chicken breasts (about 3 large/4 small), cut into 1 inch cubes

25g butter

1 dsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped (dried will not do)

100g mushrooms, sliced

1 glass dry white wine

100ml cream

100ml chicken stock

salt and pepper to season


          Melt butter in a non stick pan with the oil. Add the chicken and onion, and cook over a medium heat for around 5-6 minutes, until the chicken is cooked on all sides, stirring from time to time.

          Add garlic and mushrooms  and cook for one minute

          Add the wine and stock. Season with pepper. Simmer for around 10-15 minutes until fairly well reduced.

          Turn off the heat. Add the cream and tarragon, and stir well to combine. Season if required with salt, though I didn’t find I needed to, because of the stock. Serve immediately.




Pearl Barley & Mushroom Risotto

As you know, I am trying to learn more about cooking with grains and pulses as part of my new anti cancer regime, and I had the idea this morning when looking through my cupboards to try making a risotto with pearl barley instead of arborio rice. I have to say, it’s been a huge success! The results are very similar, and nutritionally it kicks the ass of any rice made risotto- about one third of the calories and carb content, lower in fat and higher in fibre. This is a great recipe for the vegetarian who is keeping an eye on what they eat, or for anyone who wants to up their veggie intake. I’m serving it with pork chops tonight, but I think it would stand up perfectly well on its own, maybe with some nice garlic bread on the side, or an interesting salad.

I did add chilli which gave it a kick, but this is obviously optional. You could throw in any number of ingredients depending on what you have in your cupboards.

Serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side dish or starter.

1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped (other herbs like coriander, thyme or marjoram in season would be lovely too)
1 25g/1oz pack dried mixed mushrooms
100g peas
150g dry weight pearl barley
25g mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 dsp half fat creme fraiche
1 tbsp olive oil
100ml white wine
1 vegetable stock cube

1. Heat the oil in a large pan, and saute the onion over a medium heat for five minutes, until translucent.
2. Boil a full kettle- put dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover in boiling water. Leave to stand.
3. Add garlic and chilli to the pan, and cook for a further minute.
4. Add pearl barley to the pan and stir well. Pour in white wine and cook until absorbed.
5. Strain off the liquid from the mushrooms into the pan. Add the stock cube, stir well and simmer until absorbed.
6. Add boiling water to the pan, a ladelful at a time, until barley is fairly tender but still with a bite to it. This will take around 20 minutes.
7. Add the mushrooms and peas, stir well and cook for a minute or so to heat through.
8. Add cheese, creme fraiche and parsley. Stir well and serve immediately.

Sorry for the crap, dark picture! 😀



Low fat mackerel pate

So, this has possibly got to be the only tasty recipe involving cottage cheese that I have ever tried. Seriously, you won’t regret it. And this is coming from someone who resolutely loathes anything with cottage cheese in it. 😛

The mackerel is great for Omega 3- fatty acids that your body needs for immunity for things like cancer. 🙂 This recipe makes a LOT, but don’t worry, it keeps well in the fridge for several days and tastes so good you’ll be scoffing it down. It’s a health food, honest guvnor!

Mackerel Pate- serves 4-6

2-3 medium smoked mackerel, bones and skin removed ( I used 280g from Sainsbury’s!)

1 lemon, skin and pips removed

1 small carton cottage cheese with chives (or whatever you fancy)

few squirts lime juice or half a fresh lime

black pepper

1. Put everything into a blender and blend for around a minute, until well combined and of desired consistency.

2. Serve with oat cakes or crackers (ryvita would work well), or in the hull of an avocado for luxury! 🙂

Total calories per person- 200 assuming you get 4 portions from the above! Enjoy!


Cheesy Chicken & Sweetcorn Pattys

Robbie is going through an “I love anything with sweetcorn in it” phase, so, finding a can in the cupboard earlier and seeing what else I had around the house, I made these, and they were great! The kids devoured them, and there’s LOADS for me and Ian later, in fact the recipe would probably serve up to 8 depending on how hungry you are! You could halve the amounts very easily. It’s a very quick, easy meal. You can leave the chicken out if you’re a veggie, and you can change the ingredients about depending on what you have in your cupboard- I would think bell peppers, mushrooms, bacon, broccoli, or even a well drained can of tuna instead of chicken would all work very well with this recipe. 🙂

Feeds the Five Thousand-

8oz self raising flour
1 small can sweetcorn, drained well
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
1 small bunch scallions (spring onions), sliced lengthways and then chopped
1 fat clove garlic, very finely chopped
5 oz cooked chicken breast, finely chopped
1/4 tsp celery salt (you could season more, but it’s mainly a kids recipe, so adjust if you’re making for grown ups! Pepper would be good)
2 eggs
10 fl oz milk
good sized knob butter
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Mix all ingredients very well in a bowl (as I say, this recipe is REALLY hard)
2. Leave in the fridge for an hour or two as this will thicken up the batter- not essential but will help the pattys hold together.
3. Melt butter and oil in a non stick pan. Drop spoonfuls of mixture onto surface and flatten slightly.
4. Cook over a medium heat for 3 minutes or so on each side, until golden and cooked through.

I served these with homemade macaroni cheese, and it went down a storm, but I’d think it would be great with mashed potato or champ too.



Spaghetti & Meatballs

I made this for the kids dinner tonight. It’s pretty quick and easy, and not too bad nutritionally, especially as the meatballs are grilled. The recipe should serve 6.

For the Meatballs-

700g lean beef mince
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 eggs
1 tbsp tomato puree (ketchup would do)
about 50g mature cheddar cheese, grated (monteray jack, or mexicana would be good alternatives)
1-2 tsp mixed herbs
1 red chilli, finely chopped, if liked

For the Sauce-

700g jar passata
1tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, depending on taste
1-2 tsp mixed herbs- fresh herbs would be delicious if you have a herb garden!
A splash of red wine
1 tbsp tomato puree
salt and black pepper to taste

1. To make the meatballs, throw all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well- you could use a spoon but I find clean hands the best option for this job!
2. Take a dessertspoon sized amount of the mix in your hands, kneading briefly before rolling between your palms to make a ball approx. 2 inches in diameter.
3. Place the meatballs on a hot preheated grill. Cook for approx 8-10 minutes, turning when the top becomes browned. If you need to, reserve the first ones off the grill on a plate whilst the rest cook!
4. To make the sauce, gently saute the onion and garlic in a large heavy based pan with the olive oil for around 5 mins, until softened and translucent.
5. Add all the other ingredients, and simmer gently for around 10 minutes. Because the passata is already thickened, you shouldn’t need to cook it for any longer than this.
6. Carefully add the meatballs to the sauce and gently stir in. You can simmer if you like for a few minutes.
7. Serve over spaghetti or other pasta of your choice. You can serve with freshly grated cheese, garlic bread, a nice salad and, most importantly, a big glass of red wine. 🙂

The meatball mixture will also make pretty nice burgers, if you prefer. Enjoy!


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