Avonmore Mini filo Christmas tartlets

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 14.50.39


  • 4 sheets of frozen filo pastry, thawed
  • Butter, for greasing
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the Christmas Cookies

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To serve:

  • 500ml Avonmore Whipped Cream
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 410g tin of pear halves in natural juice, drained and roughly chopped
  • 160g mixed berries
  • 12 Christmas cookies
  • icing sugar


  1. Preheat an oven to 170°C/150˚C fan/gas mark 3. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. Lay 1 filo sheet on a piece of waxed paper or tin foil. Brush thoroughly with some of the melted butter. Top with the remaining three sheets, brushing each one with butter.
  3. Cut the stack of sheets into 12 squares and tuck each layered square into a prepared muffin cup, pressing it in gently with your fingertips.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until the cups are crisp and golden, then remove from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle. Remove from the muffin tin and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
  5. For the cookies, preheat the oven to 190˚C/170˚C/gas mark 5 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  6. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale, light and fluffy.
  7. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract, a little at a time, until well combined.
  8. Stir in the flour until the mixture comes together. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to around 1cm thick.
  9. Using a star-shaped pastry cutter, cut cookies out of the dough and place onto the baking tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to harden for five minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
  10. In a bowl, mix the Whipped Cream with the cinnamon.
  11. Just before serving, place each cup on a dessert plate. Fill each cup with cream and top with a few pear slices and some berries. Dust with icing sugar and garnish each cup with a Christmas cookie. Serve immediately.

Per Serving 399kcals, 25.5g fat (15.7g saturated), 39.1g carbs, 13.3g sugars, 4.7g protein, 2.4g fibre, 0.14g sodium


Rachel’s tomato and basil bread & butter pudding

Garlic and Lemon Roasted Potatoes


 Serves 4


  • 750g new potatoes, (small to medium in size), scrubbed not peeled
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 large bulb of garlic – split into separate whole cloves – don’t peel!
  • 4 sun dried tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 black olives, sliced
  • 4–5 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Worchester sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Soya sauce
  • 4 tbsp. vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • A bunch of parsley, chopped

(If you do not have any vegetable stock make up a vegetable stock cube instead)

To Cook

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Cut the potatoes into halves lengthways. If you can buy really small new potatoes use them whole.

Put the oil into the bottom of a large bowl. Add all the ingredients except the stock and parsley. Toss with a large spoon until all the contents are coated in the oil.

Empty the contents into a shallow roasting tin. Put into the preheated oven and roast for approx. 30 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time add the stock, stir and replace for the remaining time. When the potatoes are tender and the contents are slightly charred remove from the oven.

Serving Suggestions

Serve in a colourful dish with the parsley sprinkled on top.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving

Protein: 5.35g 

Carbohydrates: 34.4g 

Fat: 13.47g 

Fibre: 3.3g 

Energy: 272.8kcal 


Odlums Blueberry Cake

odl blueberry cake


225g/8oz Odlums Self Raising Flour

175g/6oz Shamrock Golden Caster Sugar

175g/6oz Butter (room temperature)

3 Large Eggs

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence

206ml Carton Soured Cream

3 x 125g punnets Blueberries


225g Tub Philadelphia Cream Cheese

125g/4oz Icing Sugar (sieved)


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/ Gas 4. Grease and base line a 22cms/9” round cake tin.
  2. Put the flour, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla essence into a bowl and beat until light in colour and well mixed. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the soured cream, finally, stir in half the blueberries with a large spoon.
  3. Transfer to prepared tin and bake in central position of oven for about 50 minutes until risen, feels firm to the touch and springs back when lightly pressed.
  4. Cool in tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire tray, remove the base paper and allow to cool.
  5. Meanwhile, make the icing; beat the cheese, remaining soured cream and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth and creamy.
  6. When cake is cold, spread icing on top and scatter on the remaining blueberries.

Note: Cake will keep in fridge for a few days but bring back to room temperature for about an hour before serving. Cake can also be frozen un-iced!


Rachel’s Party Doughnuts

Makes 24

You will need:

  • 450g (1lb) strong white flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 40g (1½oz) chilled butter, cubed
  • 225ml (8fl oz) milk
  • 75g (3oz) caster sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons dried yeast or 
15g (½oz) fresh yeast or 
1 x 7g (¼oz) sachet fast-acting yeast
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar, to serve

Sift the strong white flour and the salt into a large bowl. Add the chilled cubed butter and, using your fingertips, rub it in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is warm, then stir in the caster sugar and the dried yeast, fresh yeast or fast-acting yeast, whichever you’re using. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it 
to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast goes frothy. If you’re using fast-acting yeast, there is no need to let the mixture stand. Using a whisk, mix in the egg yolks.

Pour most of this liquid into the 
flour-and-butter mixture and mix to a 
soft but not a wet dough – you may not need all of the liquid. Knead the dough, either by hand or in an electric food mixer using the dough hook, for approximately 5 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and slightly springy.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and coat the dough with oil by rolling it around the bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film or a clean tea towel and leave 
it in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Knock back the risen dough and knead it for 2-3 minutes. Roll it out on a floured work surface to 1cm (½in) thick, then, using a 5cm (2in) plain cutter, cut out about 24 rounds.

Into the centre of each round, insert your forefinger until it goes all the 
way down through the dough. With your forefinger, lift up the doughnut and swing it around in the air! This 
will make the hole wider.

Place the doughnuts on an oiled baking tray and tidy each one up into a round. Cover again with oiled cling 
film or a tea towel and leave in a warm place for approximately 30-45 minutes until the doughnuts have nearly doubled in size.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer to a temperature of 180-190°C (350-375°F). I normally use a wide saucepan filled with about 5-6cm/2-2 ½in of vegetable oil. You can check the temperature with a sugar thermometer or using a 1cm (½in) 
cube of bread, which should sizzle and turn nicely golden brown in about 
30-40 seconds.

Carefully place the doughnuts in the oil with a slotted spoon and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the oil with the slotted spoon and toss immediately in the caster sugar to serve.

See Rachel’s Churros con Chocolate Recipe

Ten Simple Steps to Lose Weight

fla power up

Ignore all the pre-Christmas extreme dieting noise! Here are 10 simple, realistic and healthy ways to lose weight from nutritionist Nuala Collins.

Nuala’s first step is to set realistic goals for yourself, remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. By setting achievable weight loss goals, you will feel more confident about your progress and more likely to sustain your weight loss.
  1. Eat a healthy breakfast! It kicks starts your metabolism and you are less likely to snack mid morning and less likely to eat past the point of fullness at lunch.  Eating porridge every morning has other health benefits . It boosts energy, helps to lower cholesterol (as part of a low fat diet), may help prevent heart disease and some cancers, helps control blood sugars and aids digestion.
  2. Eat cereal for breakfast (hot or cold).  Breakfast cereals such as wholegrain cereals (oat or wheat based cereals) are lower in calories and higher in vitamins and minerals than other breakfast foods. A typical breakfast demi-baguette contains 1,335 calories and 66 g of fat – EIGHT times the calories and 33 times the fat value of a breakfast of porridge oats and a serving of orange juice*.
  3. Choose porridge and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice instead of a latte and a croissant and save 140 kcal and 14g fat.  Or if you insist on having morning coffee, swap your cappucino or latte for an americano and save 100kcal.  As porridge is 100% wholegrain, one bowl provides two of the three servings of wholegrains recommended for health. Diets rich in wholegrain can help prevent heart disease.
  4. Drink plenty of water; people often mistake thirst for hunger. The recommended daily amount is two litres and more when exercising.
  5. Choose an apple instead of a muffin and save 265 kcal and 14g fat.  Or go for a pear instead of a ring doughnut and be 200kcal better off.
  6. Eat more low energy dense foods like fruit and vegetables – leave the fruit bowl on the kitchen table and finish every meal with a piece of fruit.
  7. Half fill your plate with steamed or salad vegetables at your main meal.  These foods are filling but have very few calories.
  8. Avoid distractions at mealtimes.  Eating while reading the newspaper or watching the television can blunt satiety cues and results in higher calorie intakes.
  9. Don’t snack while watching the television (or at the cinema) as this leads to passive over consumption of calories.  Look but don’t eat.
  10. Watch the size of your portions! Food portion sizes grow year by year, even though people actually need less energy due to the shift towards sedentary lifestyles. The Americans have dubbed it ‘portion distortion’.

Mary Flahavan’s Tomato and Oat Soup

fla tomato soup

Chunky Tomato and Oat Soup
A meal in a bowl!
Serves 4
1 stick celery
1 small onion, peeled
1 carrot
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
750g/1 ½lb vine tomatoes, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
400g can tomatoes
300ml/ ½pt veg stock
50g/2oz Flahavan’s Organic Oats
I tsp sugar or balsamic vinegar
Olive oil to drizzle
6 basil leaves, torn, to decorate
Dice the celery, onion and carrot finely. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the vegetables gently for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds then add the vine tomatoes and red pepper. Cook for a further 5 minutes until softened. Add the canned tomatoes with 200ml water and the stock then bring to the boil.  Add the oats, stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season to taste and sweeten with a little sugar or balsamic vinegar if necessary. Decorate with basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil before serving.

Rachel’s Rhubarb Bread and Butter pudding

Odlums Christmas Cookies

odl christmas cookies


Asparagus and new potato salad with a poached egg


First, place a saucepan of water on a high heat and add a good pinch of salt. Bring up to the boil then pop in the new potatoes, cover and boil for about 20-30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. While the potatoes are cooking, make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, the lemon juice, the chopped marjoram or tarragon, whichever you’re using, and some salt and pepper to season. When the potatoes are cooked, cut them into quarters while hot, place in a bowl and drizzle with some of the lemon and olive oil dressing and season with salt and pepper. Set aside but do not chill.

Place more water, with another pinch of salt, in the saucepan and bring to the boil on a high heat for cooking the asparagus. Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends at the base of the stalks, discard the snapped end. Next, using a peeler, peel away the slightly tough outer peel from about 2-3cm at the base of the stalks. When the water comes to the boil, drop in the asparagus and boil, uncovered, for about 4-6 minutes until tender. Remove the asparagus from the water but keep the water in the pot (for cooking the eggs) and place the asparagus stalks on a plate and immediately drizzle with some of the dressing.

Bring the water back to a boil again and crack in the eggs, turn the heat to medium to let the water simmer and poach the eggs for a few minutes until the whites are set and the yolks still soft. While the eggs are cooking, place the lettuce leaves in a bowl and drizzle with nearly all of the remaining dressing – enough to just make the leaves glisten. Divide the leaves between the plates and arrange the asparagus over or around or slightly peeping out from under the lettuce, then arrange the potatoes over or around and then place a perfectly poached egg sitting on top of each salad. To finish, peel a few shavings of the Coolea or Parmesan cheese, whichever you are using, for each plate and arrange over the top, drizzle with the last of the dressing, and serve.