Food has always been the way to the heart in our family and, with Father's Day upon us, I have three great dad-friendly recipes to help you celebrate the day.
Most of our family celebrations start with breakfast in bed, and my hole-in-the-bread eggs are always a winner. Egg in a hole, eggs in a basket - whatever you call it, this simple method of adding an egg to a piece of fried bread in the pan is a sure-fire hit with kids and a real favourite in our house. It was my dad's speciality on a lazy Sunday morning to distract my brother and I while mum got a lie-in. The best part is dipping the crisp, fried bread into the runny yoke, one of life's simple pleasures.
Since arriving back in Ireland, I am just blown away by the quality of produce and most of our meals these days rely on simple ingredients assembled on a plate rather than anything particularly fussy in terms of cooking methods. It doesn't take too much time or effort to create something delicious. And so I have included an easy-yet-impressive steak supper. Really good meat from the butcher, paired with a fiery Thai-style sauce and a simple vegetable slaw that you can make while the meat rests.
To finish it off, go big with a special treat of a tart and one that is a bit of a show-stopper. One of the highlights of a visit to New Orleans was a trip to Brennan's restaurant. Established in 1946, it is one of New Orleans most loved restaurants and is said to be where the classic dessert bananas foster originated.
After dinner at Brennan's, you are treated to a table-side show as bananas are dramatically flambéed with rum before being served with ice cream. Sticky, sweet, boozy bananas baked in tart form make an ideal dessert for dad's special day.
A fiery, fresh, light steak supper that's ideal for outdoor eating, particularly if you've fired up the barbecue. Choose nice, thick steaks with a good marbling of fat.
2 rib eye steaks
2 tsp sesame oil
Sea salt and black pepper
50g peanuts, roasted, roughly ground
For the sauce:
100ml fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp sugar
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 birds eye chillies, finely sliced
For the salad:
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1 head baby gem lettuce leaves, washed and torn
2 large green peppers, thinly sliced
6 spring onions, finely julienned
A large bunch of coriander, ends trimmed
1tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce in a shallow, high-sided bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
2. For the salad, whisk together the fish sauce, sesame oil and honey in a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients and toss.
3. Brush the steaks with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper before frying on a griddle pan over a high heat for 2-3 minutes either side, or until medium rare.
4. Remove steaks from the pan and place in the sauce dish. Cover and leave to sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving, coated in the sauce with the salad.
The dish bananas foster is said to have been made famous by Brennan's restaurant in New Orleans and to this day it remains the restaurant's most requested dish - 35,000 bananas are flambéd each year to create this delicious dessert. This is my take on the classic, taking all those wonderful flavours and combining them in this rich tart.
For the pastry:
110g cold butter, cut in cubes
175g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
A pinch of salt
1 large free range egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
A little cold water, if required
For the filling:
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
75g plain flour
2 tbsp white rum
2 bananas, peeled, sliced
To serve: whipped cream, dulce de leche, banana slices
1. For the pastry, press the butter into the flour, using a pastry cutter or a fork, until you have rough crumbs. Mix through the sugar and salt. Bring the dough together by mixing through the egg and vanilla extract. Add a little cold water if you find your dough is too dry. Wrap in cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. For the filling, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Melt butter in a small pot over a medium heat. Cook the butter, stirring regularly until it turns a light brown. Make sure not to burn the butter as this will result in a bitter taste.
3. Whisk the melted butter into the egg yolk mixture little by little. Whisk in the flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract and rum. Allow to cool.
4. Press the dough into a 9inch round pie tin. Chill for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350°F/Gas Mark 5. Next, line crust with foil and fill with baking beans. Bake until crust is golden, for about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. Layer the base with the sliced bananas and pour over the mixture to cover. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.
7. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely and then top with whipped cream, dulce de leche and freshly sliced bananas.
Don't knock these until you have tried them. Despite extremely ambitious kitchen creations, my dad's cooking isn't exactly widely celebrated, but I'll give him this - when I was a kid, he always knew how to pull out the stops to impress me in the kitchen. I remember making these with him early one Sunday morning for my mom and thinking to myself that he was the coolest dad in the world!
2 slices of bread
A good knob of butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large free-range eggs
A little sweet chilli, pesto or hot sauce, to serve
1. Cut two circles out of the centre of the bread using a pint glass. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat.
2. Put the bread in the pan and fry until golden. Turn the bread over and crack the eggs into the holes and continue to fry until the eggs turn from translucent to white. You can speed this up by covering the pan. Serve straight away with a little sweet chilli, pesto or hot sauce.
Like many, I'm trying to get back on the exercise game after a tumultuous couple of months. There are no HIIT sessions or bootcamps on my horizon just yet, but my main goal at the moment is to get my 10,000 steps in daily, and with the milder weather, it's perfect for stomping around. Our dog Max is now trying to avoid me when I tell him it's time to go!
I'm forever trying to recreate my best hotel stays at home. We recently ordered a whole set of new bed linen from Irish company White & Green, who have simplified the whole process of making your bed with organic and fairtrade cotton. You can buy online via a slick and easy-to-use website. A great gift idea this Father's Day.
Our summer breakfast routine is simple: yoghurt, granola and some stewed berries or fruit. The granola is simple to make. Combine 300g rolled oats, 100g of nuts and seeds, 3 tbsp honey, 1 tsp cinnamon, pinch of salt, and a drizzle of neutral oil.
Bake in the oven at 180˚ for 20 minutes, or until the oats are toasted, and you're good to go. Store in an airtight container.