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Chef Shane Rigney shares a chicken noodle salad and coconut cream layer cake

Shane Rigney, owner of Riggers D8 in Inchicore, Dublin, says it’s been a slog working through the shutdown, but he’s grateful they’re still going.

Shane Rigney

I CAN ONLY speak about my own experiences but I believe that as a business owner and entrepreneur it follows that I’m probably not alone in describing myself as a control freak, a stress head or ambitious. While this charming mix can be effective, it can also push you to a point of extreme stress and sleepless nights.

The very traits that ‘get you there’ just might be the ones to derail your five-year plan if you don’t learn to channel them successfully and calmly. Add a global pandemic to the pot and your once solid recipe for the success of your fledgeling empire just became a recipe, ahem, for disaster. 

Takeaway coffee, the saviour

We have been open for seven weeks post-Paddy’s Day shutdown and though most restaurants and cafes had unavoidably closed due to Covid-19, I had quickly made the decision to stay open for takeaway.

I was so fearful of the failure of my – practically, to the day – one-year-old cafe, Riggers D8 in Inchicore, Dublin, that I felt we had to immediately spring into action and adapt. To my surprise, it went so well and we were slammed.

This was a fantastically unexpected turn of events as I presumed we would close a week later after ‘giving it a bash’. There was a demand for some normality, especially from the work-from-home crowd.

Schools being off too and a lack of options meant that business boomed and I can never thank our incredible customers in Kilmainham and Inchicore enough for their unwavering support. I’m also hoping that maybe the boom in business also had something to do with the quality of our offering.

The continuing reality however of trying to operate under these uncertain circumstances, with a minimum number staff – my collectively isolating family members – and with other establishments reopening en masse doing the same thing, my ever-present need to control, to push, to do more, be better, go harder would just not stop stoking that guttural quivering of doubt.  

Burnout in May

The week ending 10 May wasn’t so much my ‘winter is coming’ but rather my ‘winter has arrived’ moment. We were worn out that week after so long treading water and worrying. It’s probably the case now that everyone wants a lovely, shiny spin on a Covid-19 success story but the truth is the reality of running a business through this has been, to put it mildly, tough going.

That’s not to say for a second that I’m not grateful, because I am hugely grateful to be afloat and doing well when so many have gone through so much worse.

I feel however that it’s better to share an honest account of the challenges this can bring when you feel your livelihood is under threat when you’ve gone through difficult times to acquire it. Someone said that the antidote to doubt is faith and the good news is after a few days of serious rest and relaxation, some clarity and some expectation management, I couldn’t agree more.

Being enough

I have a renewed belief in what we do and that is working as hard as we can to deliver the best product we can in these circumstances. Really as a chef and entrepreneur, it’s all I can ask of myself or the business and that’s enough for me.

As a society during this crisis, a country, when so many of us are struggling to keep on top of our mental health, really all we can say to ourselves is just that, that we are enough. 

We are continuing to adapt and our takeaway offering is extending to an online ‘Click & Collect’ service next week with a new Summer Menu. We have welcomed back a couple of our staff, which is great, and we now have some more help in the kitchen to ease the pressure there.

We sell out of our cakes and sausage rolls every day and are starting on a range of packaged products for customers to take home, so the cafe will now also provide a shop of sorts. Adapt to survive!

It feels almost dystopian running a just-over-a-year-old cafe and facing this difficulty so quickly, but that’s nothing compared to what so many people are dealing with every day. After a few deep breaths and a moment of pause, we are so relieved to be able to still run a business and to serve and see our lovely customers every week. We’d like to think we add to keeping the community spirit alive, and in time, we may even get a few tables outside to serve people and help them reconnect.

In the meantime, here’s a couple of recipes for you to try while you’re staying at home as much as possible. Enjoy!

Shane’s recipes

Source: Shutterstock/Ratov Maxim

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

This is a really, speedy, easy healthy nourishing lunch salad with a kick that I often make in work for myself to get in some veg, slow-release carbs and protein. This happens during the good weeks when I have five minutes:

What’s in the pot: For 1. Approx 500 KCALS PP

Dressing

-1 tbsp of rapeseed oil
-1 tbsp of soy sauce
-1 dash of sesame oil
-a squeeze of lime juice
-a pinch of dried chilli, garlic and ginger
Salad
-A handful of mixed leaves
-Half a nest of rice noodles
-1 breast of chicken
-A few florets of purple broccoli
-A few green beans
-2 radishes finely sliced
-A sprinkle of peanuts
-A few toasted sesame seeds
-1 spring onion finely sliced

Method

Whisk together the dressing vigorously and set aside.

Pan-fry or bake the chicken as usual.

Blanch the noodles, broccoli and beans together in boiling water for a minute and drain.

Whilst warm toss the veggies in some of the dressing.

Plate the dressed veg on top of a bed of leaves.

Top with the noodles and chicken and sprinkle the radish, spring onion, peanuts and sesame seeds over that.

Top with more dressing.

Enjoy!!

shutterstock_1192996087 Source: Shutterstock/Dream79

Coconut Cream Layer Cake

Ingredients

Sponge

2 and 1/2 cups (275g) sifted flour (spoon & levelled)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 and 2/3 cups (330g) granulated sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup (240ml) canned coconut milk, at room temperature
1 cup (80g) sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut Cream Cheese Buttercream

230g unsalted butter softened to room temperature
230g full-fat cream cheese softened to room temperature
5 cups (600g) caster sugar
2 Tablespoons (30ml) canned coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups (160g) sweetened shredded coconut

Method

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about two minutes.

Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

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Beat in the egg whites until combined, then add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and coconut extract. Beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and coconut milk. Beat on low speed until combined, then add the shredded coconut. Whisk it all by hand to make sure there are no butter lumps at the bottom of the bowl. The batter will be slightly thick.

Pour batter evenly into cake tins. Bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for readiness, insert a toothpick into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed until creamy and smooth.

Add sugar, coconut milk, vanilla extract, coconut extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for three minutes.

Using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with about 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting.

Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with about 1 and 1/2 cups of frosting.

Top with the third cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 20 minutes before slicing. Tuck in and enjoy!

Shane Rigney is a chef and owner of Riggers D8 in Inchicore. Find out more on Riggers online, Instagram and Facebook.

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