Farmer Browns, Sandymount

I recently headed to Farmer Browns for brunch to try and recover from the Boy’s birthday party. I’ll admit it was a tall order, but they did well!!


I had the Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon which were very tasty. I’m not usually a fan of mint, but I thought the minted hollandaise worked. The sun-dried tomatoes, again, were an unusual touch, but they married well with the salmon, eggs and sauce.

A small bit of advice would be to ask for less toast when you go – I tend to eat everything on my plate, and did on this occasion, but four doorstep slices of lovely toasted homemade bread was probably a little too much.

My (less hungover) dining companions had the full Irish and the Eggs Benedict with ham and they were all similarly impressed.

Our only criticism was the service – everyone was lovely but slightly scatty. We got the wrong tea. They didn’t have enough sugar bowls so ours got nicked. And we waited for the bill for 20 minutes before giving up and paying at the till.

Ultimately, the food is good, the portions are generous – so if you aren’t in a rush, Farmer Brown’s is worth a try!

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Bacon, Avocado & Roasted Onion Salad with a Red Pepper Creme Fraiche Dressing

This is a lovely salad, great punchy flavours and easy peasy to throw together!


Serves 4

Red pepper, halved
1 tbsp half fat creme fraiche
Juice of 1 lime

Mixed salad
2 red onions, cut in half and then into wedges
4 pieces bacon, chopped into lardons
Avocado, peeled and sliced

Roast the pepper halves and onion wedges in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes. When they’re cooked, put the peppers in a bowl and cover with cling film to loosen the skins.

Fry the bacon pieces until crisp.

After 15 minutes, remove the clingfilm, skins, seeds and stalks from the peppers. Whizz them into a paste in a food processor and then add the lime juice and creme fraiche.

Divide the salad leaves between the plates and scatter the red onion, bacon and avocado on top. Drizzle with the dressing and serve!

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Perfect Paella

You can’t beat a good paella…it instantly transports you to Spain and makes you feel like you’re on your holidays. I’ll be heading off shortly, but until then I’ll be relying on this saffron scented rice to give me that post-sun-bathing-tasty-food-with-glass-of wine-sure-why-not-I’m-on-my-holidays glow!


Paella tends to be a pretty forgiving dish, so feel free to mess with the ingredients and quantity!

Serves 8

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
650g paella rice (you can use risotto rice if you can’t find paella rice)
large glass white wine
good pinch saffron, soaked in a small cup of boiling water
3 peppers, two red, one yellow, chopped
3 red onion, cut into eights
small bowl frozen peas, defrosted
16 chicken thighs (or thereabouts)
2 handfuls prawns
net of mussels
2 handfuls of parsley, finely chopped
chicken stock

Preheat your over to 180 degrees C and pop your chicken thighs in, sprinkled with paprika if you’re trying to be fancy.

Start the paella by frying off your onions until slightly browned and then add the garlic. When the garlic starts to colour, add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated in oil. Add your veg – I had a mix of peppers and red onions, but anything Mediterranean will do.

Throw in the white wine and bubble away until it’s almost gone. Mix your saffron water in with your stock – the amount of stock needed will vary depending on the rice – check the packet, but if in doubt add about a litre and you can always top it up if the rice gets too dry.

Cover and pop the paella rice in the oven if your prefer – either way, you’re looking at 15-20 minutes until the rice is nearly cooked but still retains a good bit of bite. At this point mix in your peas and scatter your prawns (raw or cooked) and mussels over the top, replace the lid and cook until the prawns are pink (if they weren’t already) and the mussels are open.

Scatter the parsley over the top of the paella and if you have room in the dish, arrange the chicken nicely on top. I had so much food last time that it wouldn’t all fit in the same dish, so you can absolutely plate the chicken separately if you like! Serve with lemon wedges for that authentic feel!

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Not-So-Naughty Chocolate Mousse

This is my absolute new favourite dessert  – another BBC Good Food recipe. It’s gorgeous, feels rich and decadent and is a total crowd pleaser. And the best bit is that it clocks in at a (relatively) tiny170 calories, so it’s not even really bad for you!!


Serves 4
85g good quality dark chocolate , 70-80% cocoa
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Shot very strong espressp
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 egg whites
1 tbsp  caster sugar
50g good quality full-fat yoghurt (I used Glenisk)
1/2 punnet rasperries

Break up the chocolate and add the cocoa, espresso and vanilla extract and melt the whole lot gently in the microwave, stirring regularly. When it has melted add 2 tbsp of boiling water and mix well. The chocolate mixture will thin out and look all shiny.

Whisk the two egg whites to soft peaks and then whisk in the sugar. The egg whites should get thicker and look like meringe.

Mix the yoghurt into the slightly cooled chocolate mixture.

Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites and the follow with the rest. It seems hard to mix the whites in evenly without getting rid of all the air, but take your time and evertually you’ll get there.

You can serve the mousse in teacups or ramekins. Pop a rasperry or two at the bottom and then divide the mousse between the cups / ramekins. Arrange the remaining rasperries nicely on top and chill the mousses for at least two hours, or overnight.

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Sausage and Spinach Lasagne

This is a great recipe – it’s been handed around my friend and is impressing boyfriends all over the place!

The recipe is also very forgiving so feel free to chuck in whatever you have lying around. I’ve put mushrooms in the sausage ragout before to great success!

Serves 2

Three good quality flavoured sausages, casings removed
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Glug of wine if you have it
Onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Bag of baby spinach, wilted / two big handfuls of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed out
Tub of Quark fat free cheese / tub of ricotta
Lasagne sheets
Pinch nutmeg

Add the onion to a frying pan and cook until it begins to soften and take on some colour around the edges. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the sausage meat and mix in with the onions and garlic. Keep stirring it to break it up and mash any lumps with a wooden spoon etc – you’re going for a mince texture.

When the sausage is starting to turn brown you can pour off some of the grease if you like and then add wine (if using) and a tin of tomatoes. Allow this to bubble away for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix your spinach and the tub of Quark or Ricotta and add a pinch of nutmeg and some salt and pepper.

You’ll be assembling the lasagne in a loaf tin – start with a layer of the sausage ragout (about a third and taking more of the meat and leaving some of the saucy bit if possible) and then top with lasagne sheets, breaking them to make them fit if necessary. Top with half the spinach mixture and more lasagne. Repeat the sausage and spinach layers again and then top with the remaining tomato sauce (don’t worry if there is sausage in it too) and sprinkle with a good handful of grated parmesan cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until the top is bubbling and crispy. It the top is browning too quickly and seems like it might burn, cover the lasagne with foil for a while and then remove it 5 minutes before the end.

Serve with salad and garlic bread and enjoy!

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Grilled Halloumi Salad

I’ve made this little serving of summer twice now and it’s a real crowd pleaser. I’ve adapted it slightly from Domini Kemp’s version in the Irish Times.


Serves 4

Punnet cherry tomatoes, halved and tossed with a tiny bit of olive oil
Bunch of asparagus spears
2 smallish courgettes
Pack of halloumi cheese (I used Tesco reduced fat)
Bag of Rocket Salad
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Spread out the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray, cut side up and pop them in the oven for about 40 minutes at 160 degrees C. I sprinkled mine with mixed herbs, but anything you have on hand will be fine.

Cut the ends off the asparagus and toss them with a little olive oil. These (and the halloumi) can be cooked on the BBQ or in a griddle pan. Either way, get your BBQ / griddle very hot and lay the asparagus on. Turn them two or three times until they are glistening bright green and have good char marks. Remove them from the BBQ / griddle and cut each spear into three or four pieces.

Keeping the BBQ / griddle very hot, carefully sear the slices of halloumi on each side, turning when they have griddle marks. The slices have a tendency to split, but try and keep as many whole as possible.

Using a vegetable peeler, make courgette ribbons. It’s best to use the outer parts of the courgettes and discard the middle. Turning the courgette around to get a little skin on each peeling, will give your ribbons a little substance and also looks good! Put the ribbons in a bowl and sprinkle with the juice of a lemon and a little olive oil. Toss to coat.

Put a little rocket salad on each plate and top with the courgette ribbons. Sprinkle over the roasted baby tomatoes, asparagus pieces, halloumi and then drizzle with balsamic vinegar or dressing.

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Cheats Strawberry Cheesecake

This is the long suffering boyfriend’s creation – a quickie, healthy treat!

Good quality natural yoghurt (I use Glenisk)
Biscuits, smashed into crumbs

Chop the strawberries and toss with a little sugar and leave for 5 minutes to macerate. Put the biscuit crumbs in the bottom of the glass and half fill with the yoghurt. Top with the sweetened strawberries and enjoy!

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Crab Soufflé

Soufflés done well are lovely and seem quite fancy, but they also have a tendancy to collapse and look a bit disappointing. These were my first attempt and while they did sink a bit, they tasted fantastic and my guests were still impressed!!



handful finely granted parmesan cheese

25g butter
25g flour
285ml milk
2 tsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp English mustard powder
good dash Tabasco sauce
110g gruyere cheese, grated
1 tin of good quality crab (I used dressed crab, brown and white meat
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites

Melt the butter on a medium heat and mix in the flour. Cook until a little browned and then add the milk, a bit at a time until all added and keep stirring until it has cooked into a white sauce.

As the sauce thickens, add the tomato puree, mustard powder, Tabasco sauce, gruyere and some salt and pepper (if using crab in brine, don’t add any salt for the moment). Add the crab and when slightly cooled, stir in the egg yolks and mix well.

Whisk the egg whites in an extra-clean bowl until they form peaks. Start by adding a large spoon of the whipped egg whites to the white sauce / egg yolk mixture and fold in – be super careful not to get rid of all that air you worked to add…. and then fold in the rest of the whipped egg whites.

Divide the souffle mixture between six ramekins or cups and then put an inch of water in a baking tin and place the ramekins / cups in the tin and place in an oven preheated to 180 degrees C. Cook for about 20 minutes until risen and slightly brown on top. Serve as a starter on side plates with some dressed salad leaves….yum and so impressive!!!!

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Jambon en Piperade

This recipe is based on one from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Don’t let appearances fool you – it may not look special, but it’s a total star of a dish!


Loin of Bacon, boiled and sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 yellow peppers and 1 red, sliced
a large sprig of thyme
pinch of smoked paprika
glug of red or white wine if you have it

Brown the onion and add the garlic, until both have softened and taken on a little colour. Add the peppers and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring, until they are beginning to soften. Deglaze the pan with wine, if using and then add a tin of good quality chopped or plum tomatoes, the leaves from the thyme and a good pinch of smoked paprika.

Let the sauce bubble away as you brown the slices of bacon in a frying pan on both sides and place the slices, overlapping, in a baking dish. Pour the pepper sauce over the bacon and bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees C) for about 30 minutes. Serve with green vegetables and boiled new potatoes.

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Salmon en Croute

I attempted this BBC Good Food makeover of salmon en croute and while it may not look unbelievable, it was very tasty indeed!

The only changes were to substitute spinach for the watercress and to make two individual croutes as I had pieces of salmon rather than a whole side. Well worth a try!

The creme fraiche / mushroom filling would be a lovely sauce for salmon on it’s own too…


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