Jun 17 2014

Recipe for success at Kai Café in Galway

 Couples who cook

By Móna Wise

*Originally published in the Connacht Tribune on  Thursday June 5th 2014, where I am undertaking my work placement (newsroom) experience for the MA in Journalism at NUIG.

Jess and David at Kai

These days, with the rates of divorce skyrocketing even in Ireland, it seems that the act of getting married is easy and staying married is posing to be a sometimes impossible challenge.

Why then, do some couples seem to make life even harder by foraying into the same line of work as their spouse? When looking up and down the coast of Galway and Mayo, it is easy to find several couples who have decided that wedded bliss is just not enough for them and they feel the need to flex their masochistic muscles by entering into a business contract with their bedfellows.

David Murphy and his wife Jess Margurte-Murphy are a perfect example of this. A little over 14 years ago, David, a Carlow native, headed down under to backpack his way around Australia for three or four months. He just wanted to have a bit of fun.

“Those plans all came to a crashing halt because I met Jess almost straight away” he laughed.

A clear cut case of love at first sight, he and his new love, Jess Margurte-Murphy a chef by trade from New Zealand, knew they were soul mates and moved in together within a few weeks of their first kiss.

An engineer by trade, David took a break from his career and showed interest in a job he saw advertised in a restaurant on an island off the west coast of Perth. “They were looking for couples to come out and work on the island for the summer months so Jess and I, along with an Irish couple from Mullingar, spent the summer working alongside each other in the kitchen, Jess as a chef and me as a kitchen porter.”


As with all summer jobs, the fun was short lived and David returned to his career as soon as summer break came to an end.
Although it was love at first sight for the duo now sharing a home together, David was still focused on his career in engineering and pursued that route having no problem finding employment but it did put a strain on their schedules. So how did this work out for the lovebirds?

“It was different I suppose. We were working entirely different schedules and only occasionally saw each other on a Sunday” said David. “All was not lost though, because you see I had time to focus on my love for Rugby and I invested in a paid subscription to Sky Sports.”

Jess chimed in with a loud laugh adding “Yes, it was like Sky saved our marriage really. We were like two ships passing in the night I mean, we still chatted a lot in the early days about me having a little café, but it was all pie in the sky kind of ideas at that stage. I wanted one of those tiny 40 seat cafés, where I could serve up gorgeous cakes, lovely fresh-from-the-farm salads, and in my mind it would be like having a load of friends around for supper every day.”


But this never happened in Australia or in even in Jess’s native New Zealand.

“The timing was not right for either of us. The idea of owning and operating our own business was too scary at the time and I suppose we just were not ready. I felt like I had a lot more to learn and David was focused on working as an engineer. In 2003 we decided to up sticks and move to Ireland. I had always wanted to get work experience in a Michelin Star restaurant. Back then (and still now) Kevin Thornton was doing amazing things with food in his kitchen and so we found ourselves one day dumped onto St. Stephens Green in Dublin, me with my knife kit and David with his toolbox.”

Although David carried on with his career in engineering, while Jess worked her one-year stint with Kevin Thornton in Dublin, the West was calling.

“It was an easy decision to move West really,” said David. “Although Jess had never been, I had spent several summer holidays in the west as a young boy and I knew it would be a great place to call home. The Bord Fáilte ads on the telly had us plagued. ‘Come to the West’ they’d scream at us each night on the telly, with images of the white sandy Connemara beaches beckoning. It was like being brainwashed really. I think even if it had been pictures of lashing rain and people drinking pints by the fire, we would have ended up in Galway.”

Jess took a job immediately in the Ard Bia kitchen and David with an engineering firm in Abbeyknockmoy.

Although the idea of still opening her own place was in the back of her mind, Jess knew she had to learn to walk before she ran and she kept her nose to the grindstone learning as much as she could while working for Ard Bia, then on to Sheridans Cheesemongers and eventually on to Bar 8 on the docks.

It might have been then, when working at Bar 8, when they both felt the tides turning so to speak. Jess was finding it more and more frustrating to not having control over the day-to-day operations and one day just packed it in knowing they were about to make another big change again.

Still, and before making the massive financial commitment a raging entrepreneurial spirit requires, with a bit of wanderlust lingering they toyed with the notion of moving to Denmark for a few years, but that notion dissolved pretty quickly when she heard that The Budding Cafe (Heenahans florist) was relocating and they were looking for a new tenant for that space on Sea Road, now known as Kai Café.


Citing the invaluable experience she had received working for Sheridan’s Cheesemongers alongside Galway’s first Michelin star chef Enda McEvoy (now getting ready to open his own restaurant called LOAM), Jess knew she was ready.

But was David? Would he not miss the world of engineering and a steady pay check?
“No. I love coming to work every day. I never thought I’d enjoy it so much to be honest. Jess had been rambling on about having her own place for so long that it just felt right for both of us. She was ready to go back to her roots and cook in the same style her grandmother taught her, pickling and preserving. Her time working alongside Enda McEvoy at Sheridans Cheesemongers gave her something I never thought she needed – confidence.”

“I’ve always been bossy I suppose; I’ve always been the boss” said Jess smirking, “I knew the time was right to move forward and do my own thing. Something was unleashed in me and it was time to put it to work. I always thought Dave and I would end up investing our own money in Bar 8 and when that did not happen, I just knew it was time for us to join forces and do our own thing. I could not believe I had first dibs on that little cafe. The good vibes from the whole deal made it a no-brainer for us.”



So, how does a couple go from leading polar opposite career paths to beautiful business bliss overnight?

“I stay out of the kitchen” chuckles Dave. “No, what I meant to say is I know the best times to go in to the kitchen. It’s a very small space and you need to have a purpose to be in there as there is just no room for standing around – it’s too easy to get in the way. I have my job and Jess has hers. We can manage to work a twelve or fourteen hour shift together but rarely speak to each other because I’m out front and she’s in the back doing her thing.”

“And we still chat about our day after service. Sometimes reviewing how dinner service ran or who was in for lunch that day” Jess chimes in. “and sometimes we work on different days just so we have a bit of ‘alone time’ at home by ourselves. Every couple needs breathing space, don’t they?”


But what happens when things go belly up and harsh words are spoken? How can you keep this from affecting the attitude and mood at your workplace?

“We keep it out of the kitchen” said Dave. “We know each others strengths and weaknesses all to well at this point and we just steer clear of each other. Neither of us hold grudges (Jess injects her infectious guffaw of laughter here) and we have mastered the art of keeping our dirty laundry out of the public eye.”

“We are fortunate to work with a few excellent people at Kai Café and they know our moods and understand it is normal. They keep out of our way and we just get on with the business at hand. Now that we have been open for three years it is easier. Home life is bliss, and we have all the right team players in place at Kai so it leaves little room for ructions these days. Now we are at the point where we set aside a little more time to pursue other dreams.”

Perhaps a second place maybe a bit of a gastro pub with restaurant style grub and lots more fermentation and loads of local beers on tap?

“Perhaps, perhaps,” said David. It is all possible isn’t it? Right now we are just going to continue to take care of our customers and employees and enjoy doing what we do. Taking care of people is a great honour and privilege and now we have found a way to build and maintain a solid footing in Galway, we are really just starting to enjoy the ride.




Thanks for reading …. I have a lot more pieces that will be popping up in this local newspaper over the course of the summer.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today.


Feb 3 2013

Honey … Sweet, Syrupy & Sticky

And always … sublime

I remember my first taste of honey; sticky, sweet and sensational. We had parents that fled the city and bought a small plot of land on the outskirts of Galway, wanting to give their children freedom to play in a field, get lost in a wooded lot or be at one with the sense of calm that can only be found when footing turf at the bog. A word forbidden from our line of daily chat was ‘bored’. Summer holidays were spent careening down the country byroads on our bikes, never knowing where we were going, and yet never feeling lost.

Late one summers evening, one of my brothers and I pushed our bikes past an old cottage down a dead end lane. We knew it led to nowhere but still rambled onwards, wondering if the landowner might chase us out of there if discovered trespassing on his land. As we looped back around, disappointed that we had made no discovery, we came face to face with not one, but two farmers, wondering why we had taken liberties on their stretch of road. In their hands they held a bucket loaded with honeycombs of crackling gold. They encouraged us to eat a chunk of it, right there and then, stating it was ‘the finest’ and we would never be able to buy anything as gorgeous as this Irish gold they held so dear. We rambled far from our homes and took ‘sweets’ from old men that accosted us in their driveway; a shame the world has changed so much that even now, living in the countryside of Galway, we cannot allow our children the same freedom.

That taste of honey is still with me and I must have been only eight or nine years of age. The crunch of the honeycomb exterior, the way the honey clung to my lips and fingertips as I rode my bike home and the crystal clear clarity of the honey as it sat puddling on a plate on the kitchen countertop later that evening; beautiful Irish gold.

Honey is one of the handiest sweeteners to use in the kitchen. We have a rule around here that when a dish does not taste ‘finished’ right before we serve dinner, it usually needs a squeeze of lemon, a knob of butter or a spoonful of honey. When the kids are coughing the winter away we send them to bed with a glass of honeyed water and cinnamon to soothe their chesty colds, and then make sure to double the dose the next morning before they go to school. When it comes to sharing recipes for honey, we did not have to look far at all.

The first recipe is for a breakfast smoothie. This time of year, it is hard to get excited about eating our greens. The garden is still dormant and the salad greens have not started to sprout just yet. We like to blitz up a yoghurt shake for breakfast and a spoonful of honey lends the perfect sweetness to the glass giving a much needed protein boost for the start of the day.

The second recipe is just gorgeous. Cheese and honey are great partners and there is no shortage of recipes out there for you to choose from. Halloumi is an excellent firm piece of cheese to cook with. Honey drizzled upon it makes for a sweet and salty match made in heaven for your plate and palate.

Honey-mustard is something we have easy access to in Ireland. There are several different varieties available to consumers, but making your own is as easy as adding a spoonful of honey to your favourite mustard. Fish and mustard might seem like an odd combination; but it always works. Our third recipe, for a beautiful piece of Salmon is sure to be a massive hit at your next dinner party. When it cooks, the exterior will crunch up caramel-like when using honey and I am certain your guests will be asking for the recipe. Enjoy.

Honey, sweet and steeped in historic fact, should be the natural sweetener we reach for on a daily basis. Up until recently, and maybe a final fallaway from the remnants of the celtic tiger days, manuka honey was all the rage in home and restaurant kitchens. While there is not anything wrong with this honey, (well, the price can be exorbitant), health benefits are mostly obtained when you introduce and keep local honey in your daily diet. Recently, friends of ours in Tipperary  (Oldfarm pigs, pork and more), purchased a few hives and they are getting ready to set up their dormant bees for a season of sweet success.

We started to look into how local honey needs to be in order for us to reap the benefits of adding honey to our diet, and that of the children’s, and it turns out that ‘local’ means the radius in which the bee flies. An average hard working bee can fly three to four miles away from the hive covering 30,000 + acres. This is best honey for you to choose; from your neighborhood. It might seem a little strange, but bee keeping is growing in popularity, and now, even the rooftop gardens in large metropolitan cities like New York have hives dotted along the skyline.

Honey breakfast shake 4 copy

Honeyed breakfast shake  – 2 pp

This time of year we are itching for the days to get longer and the dreary dark mornings to show a glimpse of dawn before 8:00am. The desire to let our bodies to wake with morning light instead of the alarm clock consumes us and we count the days for the clocks to change so we can spring forward into a newer and lighter season. This breakfast shake will help you shake off the remnants of the winter blues and help get you ready for your day at work or school. It will also help the kids get their day off to a nutritious and delicious start.

What you will need

1 ripe avocado (peeled and stone removed)

2 medium apples (cored and diced)

480 ml yoghurt (Glenisk Greek plain)

80 ml of honey (more if you like it sweeter)

How to prepare it

Cut the avocado into chunks then place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. You can substitute bananas or mangos for avocado if so desired, and a handful of spinach works well in this one too. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with a slice of kiwi fruit or pour over granola for breakfast. This is an excellent way to get your ‘five a day’ of fruits and vegetables and the kids will never know what is in it.


Halloumi 3 blue copy

Honeyed Halloumi – 2 pp

Pronounced: Ha-loo-me … one of those bland looking cheeses at the grocery store, and I am sure you have seen it because it is widely available in Ireland. Cut up and eaten ‘raw’ it can taste a bit rubbery (best to grate it) but sliced and sautéed this beautiful salty cheese turns into a right meal maker when placed atop a bed of greens. We find a drizzle of pomegranate molasses or local honey helps this cheese become the showstopper at lunch time.

What you will need

240 g mixed salad greens

1/2 lemon, juice only

2 tsp olive oil

6 slices of Halloumi cheese (1/2” thick)

1 Tbsp honey

1/2 tsp Aniseed, toasted

How to prepare it

Place salad greens in a bowl and toss with lemon juice and olive oil. Arrange the greens on a plate and set aside. Using a non-stick pan, sauté the cheese 3 – 4 minutes on each side in a medium hot pan. Place cooked cheese on top of salad greens. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle toasted aniseed on top. Best enjoyed immediately while cheese is still hot.


Salmon Honey mustard 4 copy

Honey-mustard glazed Salmon – serves 2


Mustard and honey …. it would be difficult to go wrong with any recipe that calls for those two ingredients. A few months ago, we received a jar of honey-mustard from a local chef here in Galway (Jess Murphy – Kai Café). At first, this mustard (Moutarde de Montjoie) seemed a little too sweet and syrupy for us to use liberally, so we negotiated it with caution. At first, we drizzled a little over breakfast sausages as they sizzled and were delighted with the succulent results. Since then, we have dabbled and drizzled this sweet sticky stuff on many products and have to say this one of our favourite ways to use it.

What you will need

400 g fresh salmon (200 g per person)

30 g butter, melted to brush on salmon

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 lemon, (1/2 for juice only, other half sliced into circles for garnish)

60 ml honey

60 ml whole grain mustard

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 red onion (peeled and sliced)

How to prepare it

Brush the (uncooked) salmon with melted butter and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Sauté in a medium hot pan for 4 – 5 minutes on each side, starting with skin side up. Finish in the oven at 200ºF for 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Do not overcook. Sauté the sliced onion in the olive oil and arrange it on your dinner plate. Remove fish from oven and deglaze the pan (with the salmon in it) with the lemon juice. Add the honey and mustard and lemon slices. If the sauce is too thick then add a spoon or two of water to thin it down. Serve immediately, atop the sautéed onions with the pan sauce spooned over the top of it. A side serving of brown basmati rice would be a delicious accompaniment to this dish.


Do you use honey more than sugar? Do you keep bees?

Thanks for popping in for a visit and I hope you enjoy the recipes.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


These recipes were published in The Sunday Times. (February 3rd, 2013)

Dec 30 2012

Miele Sunday Times Dessert Competition

We love judging competitions, so when we were invited to join Miele at their Über cool test kitchen in CityWest, Dublin, a few weeks ago, to judge their dessert-off competition, we were only too delighted to head east for a day of tasting and judging fun. Along the way we stopped in to Avoca in Rathcoole and enjoyed a quick bite of lunch in their cafe. The christmas carols were streaming throughout the shopping arena and we certainly felt like the christmas and shopping season was going full tilt.  It would have been very easy to get lost in that shopping complex for a couple of hours, but duty called. We headed over to Miele shortly after lunch and the four finalists were already working up a few treats in the kitchen.

Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla   - Banana Amaretto Mousse and Hazelnut brittle cake.

Banana Amaretto Mousse and Hazelnut brittle cake by Juan Carlos Cordovez-Mantilla

Judging a competition like this can be a bit nerve wrecking. First, you have to review all the submissions, then, before you whittle it down to the finalists you need to test the recipes to see if they pan out the way the recipe creator intended.

You could tell from the way the contestants glided around the Miele showroom that they were seasoned bakers, all quite capable of making and baking their favourite dessert, and certainly all eligible to win the amazing prize; €10,000 euros worth of Miele kitchen appliances. Wouldn’t we all like a few new pieces of kitchen kit?

We observed with interest and listened intently to each contestant as they told us the story behind their creations. One of the desserts, and possibly the most complicated recipe of the bunch, was a gorgeous banana and amaretto cake. Another, a rich, dark chocolate cake decorated to the nines followed by a third cake, layers of pastry and jam smothered in an exquisite chocolate ganache.


Chocolate Ganache 1

Celebration chocolate cake by Catherine Gibney


We had a scoring system drafted and myself and Ron along with Margaret Crerar (from Miele) sampled each dessert one by one, stopping only for a sip of water to prepare us for the next bite. We sampled, we scored, and then we sampled a bit more. We then left the room to chat a little bit about the scoring system we were using and what we liked or disliked about each dessert. You can be sure we factored in how stressful it can be for any baker, novice or amateur, to come in to someone else’s kitchen and make or bake their favourite dessert. All four of the contestants were incredibly calm, cool and collected and the proof was certainly in the puddings.

Finalists Miele

All contestants with the judges

Interestingly enough, all three of us with judging hats on had picked the (same) winner and it was from the first bite of a cake called ‘Grandmas gift’. A meringue and sponge layered cake, unlike anything we, or most others who were in attendance, had ever tasted. Now, many of you will have sponge cake in your repertoire and I am sure plenty of you make meringues or pavlovas to beat the band. It was the marrying of the two of these gorgeous desserts that sealed the deal.

Gerbaud Cake

Gerbeaud Cake by Erika Hoffmann (photo by Móna Wise)

The other three contestants worked as hard and as diligently as Geraldine, and did leave with a goody bag from Miele to take home with them. We were delighted that they came to spend the day with us in Dublin and hope to see them enter the competition again next year for another shot at wining a few new pieces of Miele appliances. If you would like copies of the other recipes please email me and I will send them on to you at MonaZWise@GMail.com

Judges Miele

We tasted and we tried

Geraldine Holohan, a grandmother now herself, presented her interesting and truly exceptional cake on a stunning silver platter that she had received from Macy’s department store (New York City) years prior, and it is on this very platter that she always serves her favourite cake. A good omen we would call it, but we assure you this cake would taste fabulous even if served on a paper plate.

Winner Miele 2

Best shot of the day . . .total surprise for a deserving win!

Judging food competitions, be they savoury or sweet is a lot of fun, but of course, in most cases, there can only be one winner. Complexity of a recipe, choice of ingredients, texture, taste and over all presentation of the dessert were all taken into consideration when we three agreed that this was the winner alright.


Winner  and Margaret from Miele

Miele Sunday Times Dessert Competition
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Irish Food

Winner of the Miele Sunday Times competition: Geraldine Holohan Meringue Cake Many years ago, just before I got married, my grandmother gave me this recipe. She said “Try this recipe for your first dinner party and your guests will be anxiously awaiting your next invitation”. How right she was. Over the years I have baked it many many times and each time it was very much enjoyed. The meringue cake is unusual in that a thin layer of cake mixture is baked with a covering of meringue. You might well imagine that this would not work. But it does and the result is a great eating quality as well as looking most attractive. I vary the fruit used for the filling depending what I have. Raspberries, strawberries and cherries work well as does a blackberry and apple puree. The preparation time is 20 minutes and the baking takes approximately 45 minutes.
  • What you will need
  • The cake mixture
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz flour
  • A little vanilla essence
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons creamy milk
  • The meringue
  • 4 egg whites
  • 8 oz sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • The filling
  • Fruit of choice
  • 1 cup cream
  • Sugar as necessary

  1. Instructions
  2. How to prepare it
  3. Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake tins with circles of greased paper.
  4. Now prepare the cake mixture: cream the margarine and sugar together and when light, beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Then add the flour and other ingredients alternately with the milk. Divide the mixture between the two tins and spread evenly.
  5. Now make up the meringue: add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and whisk until stiff. Gradually beat in the sugar. Divide between the two cake tins and swirl attractively. Sprinkle one cake with the flaked almonds. Bake in a moderate oven for approx. 45 minutes at 150ºC.
  6. When the cake is cold sandwich generously together with a mixture of whipped cream and fruit. The cake sprinkled with the flaked almonds should be uppermost.

We took a little creative license with Geraldine’s recipe and cooked the sponge cake part separately to the meringue and then layered the cake with fruit and cream to make this one of the most delicious pieces we have ever tried in our kitchen. Also, Geraldine did use some stewed cranberry compote in her winning cake presentation and I have to say that shows again how versatile this dessert really is. A winner for all seasons. Congratulations again Geraldine. A well deserved win.

Winning cake recipe

Winning cake recipe – make this. (Photo by Móna Wise)


Special thanks to Clodagh Kilcoyne Photography for all the gorgeous shots from that day. You can find her on Facebook right here!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,



Nov 21 2012

The Sunday Times. October 14th 2012. Blackberry Cumberland, Cajun Pasta and Scallop stars.

Hello fellow food lovers,

It is wet and dreary and cold. I am trying to get all caught up on sharing a back long of The Sunday Times weekly recipes and I am loving all the light bright photos I  have been flitting in and out of all weekend. The evenings have grown so short here in Galway since the time change and now, it is almost completely dark before 5pm each evening. I feel like hibernating, don’t you? Wake me up when the crocuses and snowdrops start to bloom.

I feel it would be unfitting if we did not mention how proud we are that Galway now has a Michelin star restaurant (Aniar), the first, and hopefully not the last, for the city of the tribes. When we moved back to Galway four years ago there was a slow and steady throb of excitement in the food and restaurant sector but it almost seemed like people were afraid to step out of their comfort zone and push the proverbial envelope when it came to dining out. JP McMahon (owner of Cava and EAT restaurants too) and his creative crew (Enda McEvoy – executive chef) have exceeded the expectations of all Galwegians, and then some. We are delighted to see them putting Galway on the Michelin map and hope many of you will come to sample their fabulous menu.

The notion of a restaurant serving up foraged food on a plate is very hip these days and finding the balance between something that looks and tastes like weeds to something that looks like but certainly tastes nothing like a weed takes skill. A few weeks ago shared a recipe for blackberry buttermilk buns and since then have discovered that the leaves of the blackberry bushes, when steeped in boiling water with a spoonful of honey, can help reduce the inflammation caused by a sore throat. Imagine, all these years we have been picking the fruit from the bramble bushes without ever knowing that the leaves had a value. This is what foraging teaches us.

The first recipe we are sharing this week is another for blackberries. Cumberland sauce, as we know or remember it, pours a bit thin, like a syrup. We have included a recipe for Blackberry cumberland sauce that is more of a chutney or jam than a syrup. It is also delicious and we are sure you will love it on a piece of roasted meat for Sunday supper or just by itself on a slice of cheddar cheese.

The second recipe we are sharing is for a pasta dish. Pasta is the fastest option to turn to in our house when everyone is in a hurry and starving. Although we do make a lot of our own pasta from scratch, there are several excellent fresh pasta options out there and tagliatelle is our favourite. The recipe is really for the sauce. Roasting bell peppers (and peeling the blackened skin off) enhances the overall flavour of the pepper, making it an excellent addition to any sauce or stew. It also decreases the chances of there being any digestive issues as most of the bitterness comes from the skin. Although we made ours a seafood pasta, you could throw a piece of chicken or pork into the sauce just as easily or keep it light and just add more veg at the end.

Our third recipe is our little way to nudge you into the entertaining spirit. Now that everyone has settled back into school, it is time start thinking about entertaining for the holiday season. This Scallop star appetiser does require a bit of finagling with the pastry but is worth every minute of your time. It is not often you see mustard sauce served with seafood but in this case the marriage of flavours works incredibly well. You can make your own puff pastry from scratch (email us for a recipe if you want one) but the pre-made pastry works just fine too.

This batch of recipes should put you in the mood for entertaining. The blackberry cumberland is delicious. That sweet mustard shallot tang will stand up well to a sizzling piece of duck or a slab of cold cheddar. We served it with a piece of duck. Our own back yard duck. You can only imagine how good this tasted.

Blackberry Cumberland Sauce – makes 500 ml of sauce
Recipe type: Sauce

Introduction We like to freeze things around here. Even if it is just a small amount of something we have grown or foraged. There is nothing quite like having a good old rummage in the freezer and finding a small tub of sauce or soup that you stashed away in the prime of summer, for a rainy day. This recipe is one of those items that will end up in the freezer. It is called sauce, but really sets up like a fabulous thick jam and can be called upon to dress up any Sunday roast or even a day-after-Christmas turkey sandwich. Best to forage the last few berries off the bushes this week and start planning your freezer finds for a cool night in January. Enjoy.
  • What you will need
  • 400 g [2 cups] blackberries
  • 240 ml [1 cup] dessert wine or port
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp Orange/citrus zest

  1. How to prepare
  2. Sauté the shallots in the butter with the black pepper and salt. Add in the blackberries and mash them up a bit to release the juices. Pour in the wine (or port) and bring to a slow simmer. Add in the brown sugar, mustard and zest. Taste (careful not to burn your tongue) and adjust seasoning as necessary. Sometimes a squeeze of an orange will bring it to perfection but a lot has to do with your own personal taste. We like to serve this a little thicker than a traditional cumberland which is typically served runny like a syrup. The children love this on a piece of brown bread with a thick slice of Mossfield organic cheese for their school lunches.

A recipe for cajun pasta that will knock your socks off – because it is so very very simple

Cajun Cray fish  pasta – serves 4 as an appetizer

A few weeks ago we received a small bag of crayfish from a friend of ours. The tiniest and most flavour packed present we have ever seen. Their is not a lot of meat on their little bodies but the shells are chock full of flavour so after you cook them for a few minutes in boiling water, remove the fish from the shells saving it for your dinner and make a small pot of fish stock from the shells. This is handy to have on hand when making a chowder for lunch on a Saturday. Waste not want not.


What you will need

For the sauce

1 small onion, large dice

40 g [1/3 cup] celery, large dice

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

A pinch of salt and black pepper

1 Tbsp butter

A small pinch of dried oregano, basil and cayenne.

A small sprig of fresh thyme

1 red bell pepper, roasted and skin removed

120 ml 1/2 cup stock (fish or chicken)

240 ml [1 cup] cream

125 g cray fish, pre-cooked


What you will need

For the pasta

250 g of fresh Tagliatelle pasta


How to prepare – the sauce 

Sauté the onion, celery and garlic in a bit of butter with salt and pepper until tender (about 8 minutes on medium heat).

Add remaining herbs and spices and the red bell pepper.

Deglaze with the 1/2 cup of stock and add 1 cup of cream.

Simmer for ten minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until the sauce is smooth.

Add in the pre-cooked cray fish. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.


How to prepare – the pasta

Cook the pasta in 2 liters of boiling salted water for 6 minutes. Make sure not to overcook it, you want it al dente. Drain once cooked and then add to your cajun cray fish sauce. Serve immediately.

and finally we have  a recipe to get you thinking about those Christmas parties you are throwing ….

Scallop stars.

Scallop Stars

When using with puff pastry you need to work fast with very cold pastry. Roll it out and cut it as fast as you can and do not over work it as it might end up very chewy and dense; It should be light and flaky. Once you have the scallops seared and ready to put into the pastry stars, practice first on a few pieces of paper, just to be sure you get it right before you put it in the oven. If entertaining you can bake these ahead and eat them at room temperature if desired.


What you will need

320 g puff pastry (1 box store bought is fine or email us for a recipe)

4 large scallops

1 egg, for egg wash


What you will need – for the sauce

1 small onion/shallot, fine dice

2 tsp butter

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

3 Tbsp cream

Salt & black pepper to taste

Optionalto make this more of a main meal than an appetiser

1 kilo prawns, shelled


How to prepare – the sauce

Sauté the onion in some butter and oil. Add in the scallops, sprinkled with a bit of salt and pepper and cook for two minutes on each side. Do not burn the onions; if you have to, take them out of the pan while the scallops cook. (if using prawns to make a bigger meal out of this then add them in here).

Deglaze the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice and worcestershire sauce and add in the wholegrain mustard. Reduce heat and add the cream and mix well with wooden spoon. Finish with a knob of butter and fresh parsley. Remove scallops and add them to the pastry (below) and reserve the sauce for later.


How to prepare – the pastry

Cut the sheet of pastry into four perfect squares; only use very cold puff pastry.

Place each square on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

At each corner, cut a diagonal slice almost to the middle but not quite (1/2”).

Egg wash the edges. Place a cooked scallop in the center of each pastry square.

Take the left side of each corner and fold it over to meet itself and continue to do so in a pinwheel fashion. Practice first with paper. Once you have sealed the scallop in the star/pinwheel shaped pastry puff, egg wash the outside of the pastry.

Bake in a 220ºC oven for 10 – 15 minutes (depending on your oven).

Serve on a bed of salad greens with the sauce poured on top.


Enjoy the read and recipes … and thanks for all the emails and support guys and dolls. I cannot tell you how hard it has been adjusting back to the life of a student …I honest-to-god cannot wait to get back to the world of ‘work’ and away from the madness that is the world of academia. Almost finished with this semester so only 12 more weeks of ‘college/structured class’ after Christmas then we can take our life off ‘hold’ and get back to ‘normal’ whatever that is.

Your support on Facebook/Twitter/here on the blog , the emails and the steady flow of book sales works wonders for a gal.

Thank you xxx




Nov 15 2012

The Sunday Times. October 7th 2012. Recipes for Venison hotpot, Mushroom & Quinoa Goetta and warm potato and sausage salad.





Venison hot pot noodle bowl

Hello fellow food lovers,

I am hoping to get a back log of recipes (published weekly in our column for The Sunday Times) uploaded to the blog over the next few days.

I am back in final year of college and we just received our exam timetable yesterday. I am finished Semester 1 on December 14th … and have a few days of running around after that getting ready or Christmas before the kids get off school.

Come January I will be headed into my final semester of this four year undergrad and I am excited about just getting finished so we can take our life off hold and I can get back to ‘working’.


Mushroom Goetta for breakfast


I hope you enjoy the recipes. We are particularly fond of the Mushroom Goetta one as it reminds us of our former life back in Cinainnati where Goetta is a very popular breakfast dish. If you have not tried it, now is your chance! Ours is a veggie recipe so it is perfect for those of you that want a delicious savoury and nutritious alternative to the traditional Irish breakfast.

Click above for story and recipes

If you have any special recipe requests for Christmas, then send me a quick email (MonaAndRon@Sunday-Times.ie) and we will get cracking on it.

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


Oct 6 2012

It’s ‘The Sunday Times’ …


Today I feel compelled to write an explanatory post about our gig with The Sunday Times. I never grow weary of hearing congratulatory remarks from friends, comrades at school, family members and even the milkman, bless his heart. But I feel like a little clarification is in order.

Incase you are planning on skipping over this blog post, because you do not care about the newspaper, I can tell you right now that you need to slow-the-heck-down and have a read. By the time you get to the end you will have 10,000 great rasons to buy The Sunday Times.

 Here are a sample or two of the congratulatory messages we have been hearing :

‘Ah, great work in The Sunday Independent. I love that paper on a Sunday now’ …

‘Hey, I saw the column with you and Ron in The Irish Times last week, great job!’ …

‘I can never find ye in the Sunday papers’ …

So, it appears that there is a bit of confusion about not only which paper we have a weekly column in, but also as to the location of our WiseWords.

I shall explain it in photos ….

But first – as only a good student might do – a quick Wiki explanation on the newspaper scene so you know which one we are writing for.

We have a weekly column in The Sunday Times, Irish Edition. We are fortunate to have this opportunity and love writing for such a prestigious newspaper.

Wiki explains …

The Sunday Times is a national Sunday broadsheet newspaper in the United KingdomThe Sunday Times is published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News International, which is in turn owned byNews Corporation. Times Newspapers also owns The Times, but the two papers were founded independently and came under common ownership only in 1966. Rupert Murdoch‘s News International acquired the papers in 1981.

Irish edition

During the 1990s the paper developed a separate version for the Republic of Ireland. A Dublin office was opened in 1993, run by Alan Ruddock and John Burns. Originally the Irish edition extended to little more than a small number of news stories, some columnists such as Eoghan Harris, and the inclusion of Irish cinema listings and schedules for RTÉ One and RTÉ Two in the Culture section of the paper; but by 2005, a separate printing plant, journalistic offices, and many Irish journalists, including Liam FayRichard OakleyMark Tighe and Colin Coyle who write solely for the Irish edition have led to most of the main news section as well as all other sections being editionalised for Ireland.

The Irish edition of The Sunday Times is not linked to The Irish Times newspaper, which is published Monday to Saturday in Dublin.

The Irish issue sells about 140,000 copies per week across the paper’s entire circulation area, which includes a separate edition for Northern Ireland. The current Irish editor is Frank Fitzgibbon, a founder of the Sunday Business Post.

In March of this year they launched a new section called ‘Sunday’ and that is the section we have been slotted in. This section has a wide range of topics covered – all stories from Ireland about food, wine, travel, … and people. It is one of the ‘keep’ sections….we have been contributing since May 13th 2012.


The Sunday section can be found in the main bulk of the newspaper (not in the plastic wrapped inserts) near the business section




but before you get to the Sports section.



But no where near all the glossy style and culture magazines.



It is important that you know this. Really important.

Because, starting this week – first blurb is in tomorrow’s paper – YOU will be in with the chance to win €10,000 (say it slowly ten thouuuuuuuusaaaaaaannnnd euros) worth of brand spanking new kitchen appliances from Miele. They are particularly proud of their new moisture plus oven technology and can’t wait to deck out some lucky persons kitchen.

Imagine … sigh …

All you have to do is submit a recipe for The Sunday Times Great Irish Dessert off. The entrants will be narrowed down from thousands of entries (says she hopefully) down to a die-hard crew of ten.

To get a jump start on what you need to do, start by clicking on the http://www.sundayclub.ie website and registering (for free) your name and email address. Once you have decided which recipe to enter then you can upload it to that website. The competition starts on Sunday October 14th.


The ten finalists will have to make their way to Dublin (November sometime) and cook, make or bake their fabulous dessert (against the clock master chef style) and compete against each other to win the prize.



The chef and I, alas, are not eligible to enter this wonderful competition.

Because ……..

WE ARE THE JUDGES. (insert small shriek of squealing here please)

What now? A little interested are you?

Yep. I thought you would be.

So lets review the homework.

What is the name of the newspaper you will be buying tomorrow? (and every week for the next five issues at least till the competition ends and shur by then you will be lost without us on a Sunday!)

The Sunday Times.

In which section will you find the competition details and, of course, our fabulous recipe section too?

In the ‘Sunday‘ section, tucked into the middle of the main section of the newspaper.


Imagine ….  all those lovely Miele appliances in your kitchen. Ten thousand euros worth.


You have a heads up because you are here reading our WiseWords blog …. Get those thinking caps on and start planning your recipe.

We CAN’T WAIT to try it!

OH – and we will feature the winning recipe on our page too once the dust has settled, of course.

May the best dessert win!

Those are all the WiseWords I have for today,


PS – the hashtag is #MieleSTDessert

Sep 27 2012

Red hot Oysters, Sweet potato gratin and Prawns in pernod sauce


Sweet Potato gratin


Hello fellow food lovers,

Ah … the oysters are back in season and we are enjoying every one of them. If you are coming to Galway for the Oyster festival then find me on Twitter and we can meet up in town to sample the best Galway has to offer this time of year.

The recipes at from our column in The Sunday Times (September 23rd 2012).

Enjoy the read and recipes,




Sep 18 2012

Swordfish Involtini, Salmorigilio sauce and Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Well. This batch of recipes takes the cake. Featured last Sunday in our weekly column for The Sunday Times. (September 16th 2012).

The Swordfish and sauce combined will have you licking your lips for days after you’ve eaten your supper and the Pecan Pie Cheesecake pictured below … well, we should let the photo do the talking on this one, no? Have a bite.



Thanks for reading WiseWords. I hope you enjoy the recipes!


Click here

Sep 14 2012

Turkey Burger, Spinach Pesto and Blackberry Buttermilk buns

Hello fellow food lovers …

This week in The Sunday Times we share a small twist on a family favourite supper with our spicy Turkey burger recipe and if you have a huge amount of perpetual spinach overtaking your garden, like we do, then why not make a quick batch of spinach pesto and freeze it for the cooler months.

Now, if you have not been out picking Blackberries yet, ’tis time to get your bucket and pick some. Maybe its the rain (??) but this year the Blackberries are as sweet as can be and plentiful too!

Thanks for reading.



Click for recipes

Sep 12 2012

Vegetarian lasagna, Fantastic Focaccia and a meatball sandwich

How can you go wrong with this weeks recipes from The Sunday Times?

Catering to the vegetarians in your life and also the meat lovers, all these recipes are plate lickers.



Almost all caught up now on the back log of our weekly contributions to The Sunday Times. This is from September 2nd, 2012.

Thanks for reading along and emailing me looking for the recipes! It was the kick in the butt I needed to get the posts finished and uploaded.


Click for recipes
About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
  • Contact Mona
Ron Wise About the Chef
You can't find the Chef here.
You might as well just come visit.
He prefers face to face communication.

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