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Recreate James Kavanagh’s Recipes off The Restaurant on Virgin Media

Television presenter, entrepreneur and social media star James Kavanagh is taking on the Head Chef challenge in this episode of The Restaurant.

James is familiar to TV viewers as the presenter of Virgin Media Television’s Ireland’s Got Mór Talent. He is the author, with partner William Murray, of The Currabinny Cookbook, and together they are taking on the culinary world.

James came up with a menu anchored around a seaweed theme, having spent some time with partner William in Japan. To start a choice of Blow-Torched Mackerel with Dillisk Mustard. The second starter, a first for The Restaurant, Chilled Cucumber and Tarragon Soup.

On Mains, James served; Salt Cured Sirlon with Salsa Verde which proved to be a roaring success. The second option was a playful clue, the guest Head Chef for the day, James Kavanagh hails from Dublin; Molly Malone Cockles and Smoked Seaweed Risotto.

James didn’t shy away from seaweed in his dessert selection, baking a Ginger & Molasses Cake with Smoked Dillisk. The second dessert choice was Carrageen Moss Pudding with Kombu Seaweed.

James Kavanagh's Recipes

The Guest Critic who joined Resident Critics, Marco Pierre White and Rachel Allen to rate James’ menu out of 5 stars was Kevin Dundon.

Will James’s seaweed infused menu float the critics’ boats, or is his food heading for the rocks in The Restaurant?


James Kavanagh's Recipes

Blow Torched Mackerel Smorgasbord, Dillisk Mustard

Serves 4-6


2 tbsp rock salt
2 tbsp demerara sugar
50g Kombu flakes
4 mackerel fillets
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh thyme
pinch of peppercorns
juice of 1 lemon
6 tbsp olive oil

For the dulse mustard:
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp dulse flakes
1 tsp honey
4 slices Dillisk bread (see separate recipe)
baby salad leaves, to serve


1 Combine the salt, sugar and seaweed so they are evenly mixed.

2 Pour the mixture onto the bottom of a tray and lay the mackerel on top, flesh-side down

3 Cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for 2 hours, turning a couple of times.

4 Take the fish out of the fridge and drain the juices. Pat them dry with some kitchen paper. Lay a large, clean piece of cling film on a work surface and lay out the mackerel, skin side down. Squeeze over the lemon juice, scatter over the bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns and pour the olive oil over them. Lay them in pairs, flesh on flesh so they look like two whole fish. Wrap the clingfilm over them and tie the ends. Leave in a cool place for 6 hours.

5 Remove the fish from the cool place and put a pan of water on the hob to boil. Plunge the wrapped mackerel into the water for 1 minute to blanch, remove then immediately plunge into ice-cold water. Keep in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

6 Cut the dillisk bread into slices and spread over the dulse mustard, then scatter the leaves on top. Arrange on plates and finish with the blow torched mackerel to serve.

Dillisk Bread

Makes 1 loaf

340g wholemeal flour
2 tsp bread soda
60g sunflower seeds
60g pumpkin seeds
30g finely chopped dried dillisk
300ml buttermilk
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
pinch of salt
2 eggs


1 Preheat the oven to 230C. Mix the flour, seeds, chopped dillisk, bread soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

2 In a large jug, whisk the buttermilk, egg and oil and pour into the dry ingredients. Make your hand into a claw and stir the mixture in circular motion until it is well combined.

3 Pour into a buttered 20cm circular baking tin and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Remove from the tin and pat the bottom, it should sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into slices and use as required.


James Kavanagh's Recipes

Chilled Cucumber & Tarragon Soup With Granny Smith Apple & Organic Yoghurt

Serves 4


1 large cucumber
small bunch of fresh tarragon, leave picked
2 tsp Kombu flakes
6 ice cubes
100ml cold water
small pinch of sea salt
4 tbsp of natural yoghurt


1 Chop the cucumber into four (seeds and all) and put in a food processor with the tarragon, Kombu, ice cubes and water. Blitz for a few seconds until you have a smooth, even liquid.

2 Pour into a bowl and check the seasoning. If necessary, add a pinch of sea salt.

3 Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt.


James Kavanagh's Recipes

Hannan’s Salt Cured Sirloin, New Potatoes & Salsa Verde

Serves 4


675g sirloin of beef (preferably Hannan’s Salt Cured)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 tbsp seaweed essence (see separate recipe)
1 tbsp dulse flakes
450g baby new potatoes
For the salsa verde:
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp rinsed capers
1 tbsp chopped gherkins
2 large bunches flat-leaf parsley
small handful of fresh basil
small bunch of mint leaves
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dulse flakes
6 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus a little extra if necessary
freshly ground black pepper


1 Trim the beef and cut into four even-sized pieces, then leave to come back to room temperature. Heat a cast-iron griddle pan until searing hot. Smear the beef all over with the oil and add to the pan, then cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan on to a tray and drizzle over the seaweed essence and scatter with the dulse flakes. Leave at room temperature to allow the flavours to combine, turning the steaks at lease once.

2 Meanwhile, steam the new potatoes until tender.

3 To make the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add more oil if it needs to be more liquid. Season with pepper.

4 Carve the steaks into slices and arrange on plates with the new potatoes and the salsa verde to serve.

Seaweed Essence

Makes 200ml

4 tbsp dulse flakes
500ml warm water, to cover
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp agar agar powder
1/2 tsp tomato puree


1 Put dulse in a pan and cover with warm water. Bring to an almost boil until bubbles start rising to the surface, then take off the heat and leave with the lid over it for 20 minutes.

2 When cool, sieve and pour into a jar, then add allspice, sugar, vinegar and agar agar and tomato puree. This keeps for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge – use as required.


James Kavanagh's Recipes

Molly Malone Cockles & Smoked Seaweed Risotto


150g granary or sourdough bread
light olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 litre vegetable or fish stock (preferably organic)
50g unsalted butter
1 large onion
1 fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves
240g carnaroli risotto rice
50ml white wine vinegar
100ml dry white wine
2 tbsp smoked seaweed flakes, plus an extra 1 tsp to garnish
100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 spring onions
handful of fresh tarragon leaves
handful of fresh dill sprigs
1 kg live cockles, well cleaned
1 lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Preheat your oven to 200°C. Remove the crusts from the bread, tear into pieces and put on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden and crispy.

2 Meanwhile, bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan over a low heat and keep it at a steady simmer. While the stock heats up, peel and finely chop the onion. Remove the tough outer layer of fennel and finely chop. Peel the garlic, remove and discard the germ from the middle, then finely chop the rest of the clove.

3 Place another large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and add 50ml of olive oil and the butter. When the butter starts to bubble, add the onion, fennel and garlic and cook for 3 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

4 Tip the crisp bread pieces onto a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain; set aside. Trim and thinly slice the spring onions, then finely grate the Parmesan. Pick and finely chop the tarragon and dill leaves, discarding the stalks.

5 Pour the wine vinegar and wine into the rice pan and cook, stirring, until reduced right down to almost nothing, about 3 minutes. Add the 2 tablespoons of dried seaweed. Now add the stock, a ladleful at a time and cook, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon, for 12 minutes. Allow each ladleful of stock to be fully absorbed before you add the next.

6 Next add the cockles along with another ladleful of stock and cook for 2 minutes, or until the cockles start to open. Immediately add the grated Parmesan, spring onions and chopped herbs and turn off the heat.

7 Give the risotto a careful stir and share between 4 warmed plates. Scatter over the crisp bread pieces and finely grate over the lime zest, and finish with a sprinkling of seaweed. Serve immediately.


James Kavanagh's Recipes

Carrageen Moss Pudding with Kombu Lemon Cardamom Salt Chocolate Discs

Serves 6


8g cleaned, well dried carrageen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)
900ml milk
1 vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg (preferably free-range)
1 tbsp caster sugar
18 kombu lemon cardamom salt chocolate discs, to serve (see separate recipe)


1 Soak the carrageen in tepid water for 10 minutes.

2 Strain off the water and put the carrageen into a saucepan with the milk and vanilla pod, if using.

3 Bring to the boil and simmer very gently with the lid on for 20 minutes. At that point, and not before, separate the egg and put the yolk into a bowl.

4 Add the sugar and vanilla extract (if you are using it) and whisk together for a few seconds.

5 Pour the milk and carrageen through a strainer on to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time. The carrageen will now be swollen and exuding jelly. Rub all this jelly through the strainer and beat it into the liquid. Test for a set in a cold saucer: put it in the fridge and it should set in a couple of minutes. Rub a little more through the strainer if necessary.

6 Whisk the egg white until stiff peaks form and fold it in gently; it will rise to make a fluffy top. Leave to cool.

7 Divide the pudding among dessert glasses and chill until set. Arrange on suitable plates and decorate each one with three kombu lemon cardamom salt chocolate discs.

Kombu Lemon Cardamom Salt Chocolate Discs

Makes 20


100g good-quality dark chocolate (maybe a Dublin chocolate maker?)
1 tsp Kombu, fennel & lemon salt

To make the salt:
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Kombu flakes
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
zest of 1/2 lemon
4 cardamom seeds
2 tsp shelled pistachio nuts, roughly crushed (in pestle & mortar)


1 Put a glass bowl in a pan half-filled with water on a medium-hot ring. Bring water to the boil, making sure the water is not touching the bowl.

1 Break up a bar of dark chocolate and place in the bowl. Melt the chocolate. When glossy and liquid, remove from the heart

3 With a teaspoon, take a scoop and drop a round disk, almost like a painting, on a piece of baking paper. Do as many round blobs as you have chocolate. Scatter a pinch of salt over the middle. Do the same with the crushed nuts.

4 Put 3 disks on top of each pudding.


James Kavanagh's Recipes

Black Ginger and Smoked Dulse Molasses Cake

Serves 6-8


175g butter
100g molasses
3/4 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 thumb size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
½ a jar stem ginger in syrup, chopped (reserve syrup)
1 tbsp dulse flakes
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
200g self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
160ml milk
crème fraiche or vanilla ice cream, to serve


1 Preheat oven to 180C. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and add molasses, ground ginger, freshly grated ginger, chopped stem ginger and all of its syrup, dulse, cinnamon, baking powder and flour in that order.

2 Stir in the beaten eggs into the mix before finally adding the milk. Line a 900g loaf tin with greaseproof paper and pour in your mix. Bake for 45 minutes, serve hot with creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.


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