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Coconut & Spinach Chicken Curry

Hi Guys & Happy New Year!

My first post of 2023 and it’s a delicious one. My coconut and spinach chicken curry. It’s a golden turmeric creamy curry that is highly adaptable. What I mean by this is it makes an amazing vegan curry if you switch out the chicken for cauliflower or chic peas, or perhaps both.

I hope you enjoy the recipe and I look forward to sharing many recipes with you, foodie discussion and banter to come in 2023.

Cottage pie recipe

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie recipe

A classic cottage pie recipe. Minced beef and gravy with a cheesy mashed potato topping that is baked in the oven. The only difference between cottage pie and Shepards pie is the meat. Cottage pie requires minced beef whereas Shepards pie requires minced lamb. You can use whichever meat you prefer.

Gravy

Don’t be alarmed by the amount of stock required in this recipe. The reason a lot of stock is required is that this recipe is a two in one. In that it also provides a delicious gravy to be served alongside the cottage pie and who doesn’t like gravy.

Make Ahead

This recipe also can be made ahead of time and reheated later. After adding the cheesy mash topping allow to cool wrap with cling film and refrigerate. Can be stored for up to three days. Increase cooking time by 10 minutes and ensuring piping hot.

Freeze

After topping with mash allow to cool. Wrap in cling film and another layer of tin foil. Use within 2 – 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge and increase recipe cooking time by 10 – 15 minutes. Ensure piping hot within.

chicken noodle soup

Soup

Now that we are firmly in soup season, I felt it highly appropriate to share with you some of my favourite soups. Soups are versatile, in that they lend themselves well to an array of preparation methods and ingredients meaning that flavour and types of soups are also vast. Most soup keep extremely well, in fact most soups are better made ahead of time as it gives the flavours time to develop and intensify. Most soups are suitable for batch cooking and then freezing in portions making what is already a cost-effective meal even more so. Below I have shared some of my favourite Autumnal soups that will bring reassuring comfort and a general sense of hygge. Which I believe we all need a little of at this time of year when the skies are grey, the evenings are drawing in and the warmth of summer is behind us.

There is something for everyone from a fridge raid chicken noodle soup to bring quick succour in times of need, deep comfort in the form of smoky bacon soup or potato and leek. For those in a more virtuous spirit why not check out my turmeric, ginger, and butternut squash soup it brings a spiced heat and power punch of nutrients. My Thai noodle broth, as in authentic as it may be, provides a light spitfire noodle broth that will instantly add a little zing to your day.

Click image below for recipe…

daniel diver urris

Dunaff Hill

Dunaff Hill is also a headland and has impressive views of Urris. From the summit you can see across to Malin Head, Ireland’s most northernly point and across Lough Swilly you can see Fanad Head and it’s famous lighthouse.

Dunaff Hill Cairn

Location: Dunaff, Clonmany , Co. Donegal, Ireland

GPS Co-ordinates: 55.285470, -7.513630

Ringfort: 55.276370, -7.5097960

Neolithic Campsite: 55.271127, -7.5081280

Length & Difficulty: Dunaff Hill is a relatively easy hike as the hills summit is a mere 230m. Allow 2 – 3 hours.

Safety & Gear: Like any hike you should let someone know in advance you are going and your estimated return time. Fully charged mobile phone. Hiking boots, preferably waterproof the terrain is mostly heather clad and bog track. Drinking water is essential and a light lunch or snack if desired.

Ringfort: The remnants of a bronze age ringfort can be found at the South East base of the hill. All that is visible from above is a low ditch that has been intersected by the walls of the surrounding fields. It may be from this fort that the townland of Dunaff originates. The townland of Dunaff translates to fort of the oxen. Dún meaning fort and Damh oxen.

Neolithic Campsite: Ireland’s oldest Neolithic campsite is located in Dunaff Bay. It is located between the cliffs of Dunaff Head and Lenan Head. The site contained many early Irish Mesolithic artifacts, including unabraded flints comprising a few leaf-shaped flakes, blade-like flakes and a large amount of related Neolithic waste material. The location is regarded as an “industrial site” producing material associated with the so-called Early Larnian tradition. There is no evidence of a permanent settlement at the site.

Theobald Wolfe Tone: Leader of the 1798 Irish rebellion was captured by the royal navy off Dunaff head on November 1798.

urris

Dunaff Hill

The hill has a summit of 230m and some of the most breath taking views in Urris. Dunaff hill is also a headland with impressive sea cliffs on the other side. Like most hill tops in Inishowen there are an abundance of cairns and Dunaff hill is no exception. From the cairns on top of the hill you can see Malin Head, Ireland’s most northernly point. Across the Swilly you can see Fanad head and the famous lighthouse situated there.

Urris Lakes

Urris Lakes

Urris Lakes

Located high in the heather clad Urris hills in the Inishowen Peninsula are two pristine lakes that overlook the Lough Swilly. The hike has a coastal ascent with outstanding panoramic views. From the very beginning you will have impressive views of Lenan bay. In the distance to your south, you will see the craggy rocks of lenan head. To the south you will see the dilapidated remains of Lenan fort and local fishing boats anchored at Lenan pier. Weekends you may bump into a few hikers, but during the quieter weekdays it can be a very isolated hike. With no company other than sheep grazing along the trail, squawking seagulls and the sounds of the cold water of the Swilly crashing against the rocks below.

Location: Lenan, Clonmany, Co. Donegal, Ireland.

GPS co-ordinates: 55.239879, -7.517107

Parking: There is a small car park at Lenan bay which is a mere two-minute walk from the entrance of the hike. From the car park, cross the bridge and follow the road until you come to a corner with an old water pump and find the entrance gate.

Length & Difficulty: 6.5km hike. Allow 3 – 4 hours. It is a moderate to strenuous hike.

Guided Tour: Mysteries of Inishowen private day tour 2022 – Donegal (viator.com)

Safety & Gear: Like any hike you should let someone know in advance you are going and your estimated return time. Fully charged mobile phone. Hiking boots, preferably waterproof the terrain varies from rough pathways to dirt tracks. If you venture off the pathways it can be marshy and hard to spot beneath the heather and ferns. Drinking water is essential and a light lunch or snack if desired.

Trail: The trail route is comprised of rough cart tracks, bog road and dirt trails.

Urris Hills

 Lakes: When you reach the first lake you will see a narrow trail the leads over a small hill to the south west that  brings you to the second more impressive valley lake. Here I suggest you catch your breath, enjoy your lunch and soak in those impressive views. Get a few snaps, enjoy the reward that is reaching the top. To the right side of the lake after a small climb you will reach an area littered with cairns and the most impressive views of Urris.

Urris plane crash

Crash Site:

Good Friday 11th April 1941 a wellington bomber that got lost in the fog. Mistaking Lough Swilly for Lough Foyle and crashing into the Urris hills tragically killing all six members on board. The crash site is still littered with the crash debris and a memorial plaque is situated on the spot, nestled amongst rocks and the rusted remains of the Wellington bomber. As one looks out across the deep cold blue water of the Swilly from the crash site it is hard not to feel a sense of mournfulness that such a tragedy occurred cutting the lives short of 6 young men.

urris hills

Descent: The descent is not as straight forward as the ascent as for the most part the trail can be hard to follow and easy to lose. If you found the ascent very tough you might wish to return using the same trail. Otherwise press on passed the lakes keeping an eye out for the marking posts pointing you in the right direction.

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Lenan Fort

The Victorian style fort located in Lenan, Urris, in the Inishowen Pennsiula, county Donegal was built in 1895. It was part of seven British built coastal artillery defensive forts built to protect Lough Swilly. The site, no longer in use consisted of barrack accommodation, water tower, guard house, three semi-circular concrete gun emplacements with concrete sloping embankments and underground ammunitions stores.

Lenan Fort gun embankment

Lenan fort 1938

October 3rd, 1938, saw the last British garrison lower the British flag and the tricolour raised. A simple ceremony was held. Five soldiers from each side faced each other and rendered a salute to the sound of a single bugler. Sgt King lowered the British flag, and his brother-in-law Sgt McLaughlin raised the Irish flag.

lenan fort guns

Lenan Head Fort was recomended in 1891 for the defence of Lough Swilly to be armed with 1 x 9.2inch BL gun, two 9 or 10inch RML guns and 2 x 6pdr QF guns. In 1901 it was armed with 2 x 9.2-inch BL Mk I and 1 x 9.2-in BL Mk IV gun. Between 1909 and 1911 the guns were changed to 2 x Mark X. They were removed for scrap in the 1950s.

Pictured is an example of the guns that one stood in these emplacements located in Lenan forts sister fort Dunree.

The fort closed in 1946 only eight years after being handed over to the Irish state. Fort Lenan is now in a dilapidated state. Many of the buildings have fallen to ruin. Of tin barracks only a forest of chimney stacks remains to remind us of their presence. Harsh weathering has corroded the sturdy brick building removing roofs and rusting metal.

The site an area of outstanding natural beauty overlooked by the Urris hills on one side and backdropped with an expansive view of Lough Swilly and Fanad lighthouse. Lenan heads sheer cliffs are battered with ferocious waves even on the calmest of days. In summer months these cliff edges are dotted with pink lavender hued sea thrift and occupied by grazing sheep.

If visiting the site do so with caution. Uncovered manholes and holes are numerous around the site and some are hard to see through the grass and rubble. Cliff edges are sheer and have no railing making the site unsuitable for children.

Black Forest Pavlova

Black Forest Pavlova

A pavlova is without question one of my favourite desserts. I have quite the variety to choose from a simple straightforward strawberry, passionfruit curd, espresso and my newest pav is a chocolate one. My black forest pavlova consists of a crisp chocolate shell. That has a squidgy chocolate interior that is topped with a simple cherry curd, lashings of luscious softly whipped cream. Top it off with a scattering of finely chopped chocolate.

To maintain maximum crispness of the pavlova I suggest you don’t assemble more than an hour ahead. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare elements ahead of time. The base can be made a day ahead and stored in an air tight container. The curd also can be made the day ahead and stored in the fridge until required.

nduja meatballs

Nduja Meatballs

Hi there! & Happy Wednesday…

Nduja is a salami like paste from Calabria in the south of Italy. Made from
the same cuts as slicing salami pork belly and shoulder. It contains local
chillies and lots of spices making it very hot. The type I get comes in a
sausage like log that you can squeeze out into a pan or spread on grilled bread
for an almost instant crostini. When you cook with Nduja it’s a bit like
anchovies in that it starts off in quite a solid form but as heat is applied it
softens into more of a paste.

At Christmas this year I made Nduja sausage rolls and lots of them as I
discovered that although delicious hot, they were even more delicious cold. It
was a bit like a hot salami sausage roll. I haven’t stopped cooking with it
since I made those sausage rolls at Christmas. I’ve been making pasta sauces,
pizza toppings and even baking it into bread. One of my favourite uses for it
though at the moment is in meatballs it gives them near instant fiery flavour
and the sauce there cooked in to. Below is a recipe for Nduja meatballs and
they are great for feeding a crowd as this particular recipe yields 40
meatballs.