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Cooking can be pure child’s play

Kevin Dundon, The Dunbrody House’s star chef, shares his favourite recipes

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Almond Shortbread Biscuit

Almond Shortbread Biscuit

Savoury Sauteed Minced Beef.

Savoury Sauteed Minced Beef.

Chessy potatoes.

Chessy potatoes.

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Almond Shortbread Biscuit

EVERY week, we need a baked treat. If you follow me on social media, you know that I enjoy baking a cake at least once a week, whether it be a simple or more tricky recipe. This week I am sharing a couple of my childhood favourites. Everyone has recipes they remember from when they were young that they like to reproduce at home — a stew, a cake or a specific ingredient added to a roast that makes it special to your family. This first recipe is one of the easiest sweet bakes that anyone can make, even non-bakers: a simple, traditional shortbread biscuit with a modern twist. I remember when I was young, my mother used to prepare these shortbreads once a month and keep them in a metallic tin. My sister and I would argue over who should get the last bit and who would get the crumbs from the tin. Shortbread is a simple staple made of butter, sugar and flour with a hint of vanilla. With my recipe, you add a little touch of ground almonds and a sprinkle of flaked almonds over the cake before baking. This helps keep the shortbread softer for longer, and the flaked almonds give a delicious crunch. When baking this shortbread, ensure the dough is flattened to about 2cm thick to keep the crumbly yet soft texture. Why not tweak the recipe by using brown sugar or wholemeal flour instead of the original, or adding some cinnamon or pumpkin spice for a taste of the upcoming Halloween holiday? For those on a gluten-free diet, plain gluten-free flour will work perfectly too, although I would make sure to add some cinnamon or lemon zest to cut through the texture and flavour of some gluten-free flours. Another way to use shortbread leftovers is to sprinkle crumbs over a cupcake batter or some crumble. It will add extra crispiness and crunch and give your cupcake or pud a delicious topping. Next up is a delicious savoury mince — again, a cherished childhood memory. Everyone will have their own recipe, which would, at a minimum, include minced beef and some vegetables. I like to use good-quality, lean minced beef for this recipe to keep the dish extra tasty. Happy cooking, Kevin

ALMOND SHORTBREAD BISCUIT

Ingredients (Serves 8):
■ 100g butter, softened
■ 50g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
■ 150g plain flour
■ 50g ground almonds
■ 25g flaked almonds

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a 20cm cake or sandwich tin with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the vanilla extract (if using), flour and ground almonds. Combine to a smooth crumb.
3. Transfer the dough to the tin and gently smooth down until levelled.
4. Brush with egg wash if desired and sprinkle with the flaked almonds and a little caster sugar.
5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until pale golden-brown.
6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container and enjoy within a week.

SAVOURY SAUTÉED MINCED BEEF

Ingredients (Serves 4):
■ 1 tbsp oil
■ 550g minced beef
■ 1 onion, chopped
■ 2 garlic cloves, chopped
■ 1 carrot, thinly diced
■ ½ celery stick, chopped
■ 1 courgette, diced
■ 1 tbsp flour or cornflour
■ 400ml beef stock
■ 2 tbsp tomato purée
■ Salt and pepper
■ Cheesy mashed potatoes, to serve (see Top Tip)
■ Salad leaves, to serve

Method:
1. Over a high heat, in a large sauté pan, drizzle some oil and add the minced beef. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes until coloured, breaking the large pieces with a spoon.
2. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and courgette, and continue to sauté for a further 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute more. Pour in the beef stock and stir in the tomato purée.
4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for a further 4-5 minutes, until the sauce coats the back of the spoon.
5. Check the seasoning and serve while hot with some of your favourite sides.

TOP TIP: Transform your spare spuds into chessy wonder the whole family will love 

Turn your leftover spuds into a tasty side sure to be devoured at dinnertime.

All you need is cooled boiled potatoes some parmesan and oil or butter.

Preheat your oven to 220C the hight temperature will help colour and brown the potatoes and cheese for extra flavour, crush the potato with a potato masher or a fork and place on a baking tray.

Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little of oil or melted butter. Sprinkle enough grated parmesan or mature cheddar for the potato to be just covered in most part.

Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is coloured and the potatoes are piping hot! Perfect!

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