Tag Archives: chef

Finding food inspiration online and beyond

I made this the other night as a last stitch effort to break the boring chicken and veg dinners that I mostly eat during the week, that if I’m honest don’t make it onto the Instagram stories (after all who wants to see a repeat of the same shit over and over again). The dish itself is is nothing special but that’s the beauty of it – hear me out. Having decided I wanted to change things up and inject some excitement I had a quick look at what was available in the house and ended up having one of the nicest meals in a  long time. Throughout the week people have been asking me how I think of new dishes and make them look so appealing.

The answer…. frankly I don’t know because as I said there is nothing special about this dish. Look at it! It is literally a breast of chicken, a tortilla wrap and some veggies with a tablespoon of chipotle sauce from the bottle. That is why I think it is so great. Simple ingredients that are available in all stores and most likely already sitting in the fridge in your house right now. I had gotten the idea to make this from a random post on Instagram earlier that day which happened to catch my attention.

I get by with  a little help from my friends…. online

Find your tribe and do what they do. When it comes to creating new recipes I always try to take inspiration from whoever I can without completely ripping them off. Instagram a great platform for getting new ideas and is widely used by some of the best foodies out there to promote their own creations. Even better is there are plenty of “normal” people who are also great cooks that post pictures of food that actually look like it hasn’t been painted onto the screen. Further more, chances are that their ingredients and cooking methods are more applicable and easier to relate to because they cook as a side gig, on a budget, in a small kitchen with basic equipment. The added benefit of food finding food inspiration online is that you don’t always need an exact recipe to recreate it. In saying that sometimes a recipe is required especially when baking or cooking large quantities of food over long periods of time. But most of the time all you really need is a picture and Boooom there it is an idea for something different.

I’ll use the featured image as an example. So say you’re scrolling through Instagram and you come across the picture above. Straight away you can see what it involves: chicken, tortillas, peppers, red onions, tomatoes, spinach and jalapenos. Again all of which are very easy to source. Next is the caption “chipotle”chicken. Even if you have no idea what this is – Google it and in less then 5 seconds you’ll have an idea of what chipotle is, where it comes from, what its made from, where you can buy it and even how to make it if you really want to go that extra step. The point being is that not all recipes require the exact ingredients. Simply by looking at a picture is more than suffice as you can tweak it overtime to make it look or taste better.

Going beyond the shackles of the screens bright light

Unfortunately there is a downside to finding inspiration for food online because the inability to taste what you see. Yep, food that is appealing to look at will always generate an interest at first glance. However, taste is King and is far more powerful on the senses than sight. Besides being social and having fun, eating out is an amazing experience. Fortunately living in Dublin has allowed me to visit many of the restaurants, deli’s, cafes, coffee shops, smoke houses and burger joints around the city. I recommend wherever you live to try sample different places and draw inspiration from how they do things.

Roughly 5 years ago when I was still working in kitchens my life was completely taken over by food and how to improve. Back then I was on a whole different level compared to now. Eager to watch, taste, eat and understand why people where cooking the way they did was an obsession. I was eating all around me eager to know. At restaurants after having a 3 course meal I would order another dessert, not because I was hungry but merely intrigued by the menu that I had to know how it was made and how it tasted. I was a sucker for it. Luckily back then I was a lot younger and my metabolism burned like a house on fire. As the years went on, I moved on of kitchens, no longer a chef I became less active began to see the weight pilling on.

So I  cut back on the amount if food being consumed, eating more at home and to some extent everything in moderation. But still, to this day I am a sucker for seeing something on a menu and wanting to have it. That obsession still lurks in the background but I suppose I have become more aware of it and want to control it. I guess its jut the excitement of eating out that leads to eyes-bigger-than-bellyitus. When there’s something on the menu that’s a “must have” I just make sure to only order the one and not five.

On a final note, they way in which I cook is heavily influenced by many different factors ranging from budget, diet, time frames, work – life balance to name a few. Most nights I”ll eat the same food just because its economical and efficient and then when I have some free time I’ll usually try something new. It doesn’t always work out .Cooking is a skill, therefore anyone can learn how to do it. At times it can be really frustrating because of how consuming it becomes and the end result doesn’t always meet what we expected. But that’s okay because if that happens at least you know what NOT to do the next time. Just give it a little tweak and try again in a few days. Stick with it and practice the same recipes one or twice a week and overtime you will begin to notice ways of improving it. Keep a diary of any changes in the ingredients or methods and before you know it it becomes a staple of your weekly breakfast/lunch/dinner and then its time to find the next one. Remember, one dish at a time. Try it, improve it, master it and then move on.

 

Hope this post provides some insight when looking for some food inspo. The beauty of social media is that there is a surplus of supply out there. The same goes for eating out as any reputable food joint worth visiting is sure to have a  social media presence. Its just a matter of finding like minded folks and following in their footsteps.

 

Have a good weekend – happy eating

Shane

 

Nandos @ Home

A few words
Hands down the nicest dinner I’ve had in a long time. The variations are endless depends on your own taste – make it at home for half the cost and double the taste. A hectic schedule that consists of work, college (and now an internship) we usually reserve this recipe for weekends when there is more time dedicated to prep!

In saying that, should you manage to have the chicken marinated the corn and sweet potatoes cooked in advance and a bag of salad handy – there is no reason why this cannot be enjoyed on weekdays too.

The Ingredients

For the sweet potatoes…

1 large sweet potato

1 bulb of garlic

20g of melted coconut oil

Cajun seasoning ( I used gym chef for this)

For the chicken…

2 breasts/fillets

Cajun Spice (gym chef etc.)

For the sides…

Corn on the cobb

Salad

The Recipe.. but first do this

Turn on the oven. Boil the kettle. Heat a griddle pan on a low heat.

    • First cut the potatoes into large wedges then roughly chop/crush the garlic and place them in a bowl with the spices, and the oil tossing them until nicely coated. Put them onto a tray and cook on a medium heat for 45 mins (or more) depending on how you like the
    • Using roughly 1 tablespoon of the spice to coat the chicken as evenly as possible. Use as much or as little as possible. When the pan is hot enough cook the chicken without any oils on both sides for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down to low and continue to let the  chicken cook through. (15 mins in total
    • Boil the corn for 8-10 minutes then drain the water and finish on the griddle pan with the chicken to get that smokey charred flavor.
    • The salad (if your having it) is easy, just rough up some red onions peppers and cherry tomatoes finish off by mixing lemon juice, creme fraiche and spice mix up to dress the leaves.

    To add even more depth of flavor use a small knob of flavoured butter. No harm in allowing 10-20 grams melt over the chicken or corn at the very end. My personal favorite is from Aldo’s own range – jalapeño chilli and lime.

    FFCreations # 12 Heuvos Mexicanos

    Like spicey food?… Then you definitely need to have these. The ingredients are simple because I have yet to go food shopping so I literally just reached for what I could from the press.

    Traditional Mexican eggs are filled with rice, fried beans and guacamole along with a while host of veggies and meat.

    Seeing as I did not have most of the ingredients above didn’t matter, just improvise instead with what you have ensuring the main ingredients are eggs & chilli. Just make it is spicy AF 🔥

    Under the ingredients list is the name of the brand & store that I purchased them in. Once again the macros are uploaded onto Myfitnesspal, just search for the heading under feastfoodcreations.

    Ingredients

    3 medium free range eggs (Kerrigans butchers)

    1 wholemeal tortilla wrap (Tesco)

    30g light creme fraiche (Tesco light choices)

    25g grated mozzarella cheese (Ardagh, Aldi)

    50g El Paso Mild Cunky Salsa.

    2 lean smoked bacon medallions (Brannans, Aldi)

    5g coconut oil (coco loco, Aldi)

    50g red onikns, peppers & jalapenos.

     Method:

    Basically just scrambled eggs.

    1. Pace the tortillas on a griddle pan and let them slowly toast away (alternatively just put the oven or microwave until soft).
    2. Roughly chop the veggies & Bacon & fry in the cover oil in a pan for 5 minutes.
    3. Whisk the eggs in a bowl with some salt/pepper.
    4. Veggies are soft add in the eggs and turn down the heat slightly stirring until the eggs begin to scramble.
    5. Add in the cheese & mix.
    6. Lay out the tortilla flat nd start with the salsa on the bottom, then the eggs.
    7. Top it off with the creme fraiche & crushed chilli flakes.

    (Tip: soft goats cheese goes really nice and adds a creamy texture if that’s your things. If not, enjoy as is)

     

    Stronger than before #2 getting back on track

    Nearly a week since trying to back into a normal routine has had its ups and downs. I had the gym program and a fridge full of food so the focus of the week was to:

    • Prepare ALL meals in advance
    • Gym at least four times
    • Count marcos
    • Daily 2.2 litres of water 
    • Sleep 7+ each night

    The reality with work and studying for an exam in August looming things got a little shook up.

    The reality:

    • Meals prep only lasted me until Friday (5/7 days is good for the first week back)
    • Gym will only be 3 times this week ( with 1 or 2 low sessions of low intensity walking in the fresh air)
    • Went over on my macros on Friday (blame Star Trek)
    • Plenty of water
    • Lots of sleep

    All in all I’m happy with how the week went.

    I wasnt expecting to pick up exactly were I left off. Mostly because I knew:

    1. The first week back is always hard. 
    2. That too much at once will most likely result in failure and leave me feeling miserable.
    3. We are all human and therefore mistakes are made.
    4. Regimented routines and restrictions suck  (enjoy what you do, live in the moment and adjust to suit your needs)

    My main focus was a guideline of what I wanted to achieve during the week. Regardless of success or failure I would accept what happens and move on.

    I gave it my best and stuck to about 75% of my original focus. Most importantly it was an enjoyable (even post leg day) and productive week and it didn’t feel as if  there where any restrictions in terms of food. 

    Sunday will consist of going the gym, food shopping, cooking and making a plan and a new focus for the week ahead. Then head out for the rest of the day and get some fresh air by the coast. 

    By aiming to improve on what I started at the beginning of this week the result is to become stronger than before by getting back on track one step at a time and not over complicating the process.

    Shane.

    FFCreations #2 How to burger

    Continuing on from the first post is as follows, the nutritional information of the burger in the picture that I made during the week for dinner and how I made them can be found below.

    So as not to in undo all of the hard work and exercise in one sitting I have put together a few simple ingredients to make a burger that is macro friendly, and tasty too. All of the ingredients can be found on myfitnesspal. The weekly shop for vegetables etc. are from Aldi and the meats are from Kerrigans in Malahide. Alternatively if Kerrigans don’t have the mince, then any lean mince from the butchers or Aldi’s less than 5% fat will do. 

    Usually we buy Kerrigans pre made burgers that are 120g. Since both of us like them a bit bigger I mix them all up in a bowl and weigh them out again at 226g. Yes you could just save the hassle and eat two of the pre made burgers but that extra bit of meat doesn’t fit in the bun and gets a bit messy.

    Macro Breakdown for one burger:

    • Calories – 595
    • Protein – 75.6g
    • Carbs – 29.5g
    • Fat – 18.5g

    Ingredients used to make one burger.

    • 226g (1/2 pound) lean mined beef 
    • 2 lean bacon medallions 
    • 1 slice low fat cheese
    • 1 brioche bun
    • 15g lighter than light mayonnaise
    • 15g reduced sugar ketchup
    • 5g yellow mustard
    • Few slices of red onion 
    • Sliced pickle
    • Baby gem lettuce
    • Cracked black pepper
    • Rock salt

    Method:

    1. Heat up a griddle pan (no oil is needed).
    2. Mix the meat up in a bowl with the salt & pepper.
    3. In your hands roll 226g of meat into a ball.
    4. Then shape into a paty by pressing it down and shape it until nice and round.
    5. Griddle pan should be hot, so place the burger in the pan & cook away on a medium/high heat on each side for a 4-5 minutes.
    6. Add the bacon medallions and let them cool for a few minutes.
    7. Let the meats cook. In the mean time slice up some red onion, pickles and lettuce and get the buns and cheese ready.
    8. Place the cheese on the burger and let it melt.
    9. Toast the buns and then be ready to assemble (I toast them on the pan, as it gives a cool rustic look).
    10. To assemble:  bottom bun, mayo, lettuce, beef, onions, pickle, ketchup & mustard, top bun.

    It seems like a lot of work but after making these once or twice then the pattern becomes more familiar and much easier in the future. Practice makes perfect eh?..

    Over time you will take out and add ingredients to make it the way you like. Which is great because burgers are so versatile you can do whatever you want. I will be sure in the future to make a few variations using turkey mince. 

    Most of all, enjoy what you eat.

    Thanks,

    Shane.

         

        FFCreations #1 Next in line to the throne 👑

        Hands down a good steak (with or without all the trimmings) wins the title as the king of food. However, next in succession is its younger sibling “the burger”. 

        Made properly, these mouth wathering creations are packed with lots of flavour and are much more forgiving if overcooked.

        In addition, good quality minced meat is not going to break the bank (or your calories) either compared to a decent sized ribeye or fillet. Of course steaks are great IF you can afford them every night of the week and give it the attention it’s deserves when cooking.

        Efficient food shopping should be about getting good value for your money and feeding on more for less using fresh and healthy ingredients.

        On average, one 8oz fillet will cost €9 and will feed one, whereas you can buy double the amount of mince and still pay less without sacrificing great taste. [when you factor in the cost of buns, cheese etc the cost is more, but these should be part of the weekly shop anyway]

        On average:

        – Steak 8oz =225g = 0.5lb = €9 

        – Mince 16oz = 453g = 1lb = €4

        The same applies when eating out. Burgers are always going to be cheaper on the menu and they taste just as good as a prime hunk of meat.

        I always go for a burger when eating out. I really do enjoy them when they arrive with cheese, bacon, mustard, pickles and serviced in a soft but crispy bun and accompanied with some fries and garlic mayo. It’s an awesome combo!!

        Although a juicy steak remains the crown jewel of food heaven for some, there is no denying that with the increasing amount of burger chains operating successfully around the city the Burger has become a close contender for the crown, falling just short sitting next in line to the throne but definitely a force to be reckoned with.

        Happy eating,

        Shane.

        Recipe & nutritional information will be shared in the next post. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.