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Derry mum an Instagram hit over inventive air fryer recipes

Seana ‘McAirfryer’ has a following of 13,000 on social media thanks to her meal ideals on a budget

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Seana with her favoured kitchen gadget, which she got in January 2020

Seana with her favoured kitchen gadget, which she got in January 2020

Seana with her favoured kitchen gadget, which she got in January 2020

A Derry mum-of-two, nicknamed Seana McAirfryer, has racked up 13,000 Instagram followers thanks to her inventive recipes using a popular piece of kitchen equipment.

Seana McCafferty posts daily, sharing meal options ideal for those on a budget, using an air fryer she purchased in January 2020.

“I’m totally surprised. It’s been amazing,” she says of her social media popularity. “I still find it so bizarre, you don’t expect it. I know I could do better; I’m trying to focus on doing really good videos.”

She’s working on new material for Instagram reels and TikTok, intent on reaching even more food loving fans.

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Seana's Scotch eggs

Seana's Scotch eggs

Seana's Scotch eggs

“My daughter said I’d enjoy Instagram, it’s really positive,” says Seana, who is who is mum to Aoife Lily (14) and Ella (15).

“She changed my name to McAirfryer, and I said, ‘What are you doing?’ She took the photograph; she said, ‘I dare you to go up and lie with the air fryer,’ and I said, you’re on. It’s the one everyone uses.”

Air fryers are the banana bread iconic purchase of lockdown, simulating deep frying without submerging the food in oil.

As the name suggests, air fryers cook using convection heating: they circulate hot air around food. This provides a crispy, crunchy coating without the need to deep fry.

“I think I’m a good cook now,” says Seana, who enjoys experimenting with different cuisines and says she found a love of cooking during lockdown.

“I would have footered about and made things like soups but during lockdown, something just clicked. I can work flavours.

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Seana's stuffing

Seana's stuffing

Seana's stuffing

“If it’s an Italian dish, I know oregano, sun-dried tomatoes.

“If it’s an Indian dish, I know pickles, lime, garam masala. I know it naturally without researching, so I know I’m getting a wee knack to cooking.

“Presentation I could work on, but my friends and family know the flavours in my food are great.”

She was encouraged to pick up the essential by her sister.

“I said, ‘What the hell is an air fryer?’” laughs Seana.

“I think the first thing I put in it was a (apple) turnover. Then I started putting in corn on the cobs and salmon. I even ran out of gas for three weeks, I kept forgetting to get it.

“I was putting in my T-bone steaks and everything worked out a treat.

“I’ve stewed apples or rhubarb, or apples and strawberries and put it in puff pastry and made it into a wee parcel then placed it in the air fryer. They were beautiful. I’ve also made stuffing balls with puff pastry.”

Her teenage daughters and husband Mark also love the results of her experiments.

“They starve themselves until I come in,” she jokes. “That’s why I bought an air fryer, so they can put waffles or goujons in.

“My daughters have gotten into it. Ella would put in a salmon steak and potatoes; Aoife would do goujons, waffles and Yorkshires (puddings). It is convenient and healthier for them.”

It’s reported that air frying cuts calories by between 70% and 80% and has a lot less fat.

If you’re going to use your air fryer to cook items like batter or crumb-coated fish, chicken nuggets or even oven chips, the reality is they won’t make the items any healthier than cooking them in the oven.

That said, if you were planning to deep — or shallow — fry food, you’ll save yourself a significant calorie hit.

Deep fryers can use up to 50 times more oil than an air fryer, making it the most calorie-dense way to cook.

“It is healthier and saves on electricity too,” says Seana.

“I never thought about that one until someone said to me, ‘Since I bought the air fryer, my bill went from £200 to £150 per month’.”

Seana would attempt most dishes in the air fryer, bar anything too wet or with too much sauce, and has successfully created pies, which are a favourite.

Recent recipe posts include Scotch eggs (she’s given Sunday Life the recipe, right), one-minute omelettes, panang curry and even breakfast mainstay porridge.

Her love for her culinary necessity has surely led to a rise in the number of air fryers making their way to the Maiden City.

Seana posts the latest deals including where to get discounted air fryers.

“An Amazon man was delivering an air fryer a year ago to my friend and he said to her partner, ‘I don’t know what the craic is with air fryers in Derry. I am delivering eight a day,’” says Seana. “He said, ‘Seana McCafferty, that air fryer girl, she’s promoted it.’”

In fact, her cherished equipment is difficult to source, currently unavailable from Amazon.

Seana has battled health issues, including a diagnosis of perimenopause aged 36.

“I was always a slim person, but I gained three stone,” she explains.

“I’ve started walking now and I’ve shed at least 20 pounds so I’m getting there but it wasn’t easy.

“I lost my hair desperately, but it all explains it when I was diagnosed, my hair is great now. The sweats are gone; they were horrendous.”

Thankfully feeling healthier, she’s enjoying her newfound local celebrity status.

“It keeps me focused,” she says of educating others.

“When you’re in the limelight, you’re noticed, you sort of look after yourself a bit more.” she laughs.

“You put the make-up on, hair done, nice clothes on because people are like, ‘Hey, Seana McAirfryer’, while I normally go around in my tracksuit or leggings and a top.”

The community worker is sharing the good news of air frying success with young mums and young adults before they leave for college.

Describing herself on Instagram as ‘very fussy when it comes to air fryers’ she recommends consumers opt for a five-litre gadget regardless of family size.

“You want enough size to fit a pizza/quiche/pie,” she says. “Also you want a good size to fit, for example, goujons and chips at their side.”

Although her original piece of machinery looks less than pristine, she says the idea of giving it up isn’t on the agenda.

“My air fryer is two-and-a-half years old, and the inside is getting a bit used looking.

“I promised my mammy it but she’s saying, ‘I don’t want that, the mileage is up on that’. I should be buying a new one, but I can’t part with the original air fryer.”

To follow Seana and her recipes, catch her on Instagram at:@seanamcairfryer

Seana’s Scotch eggs

What you’ll need:

  • Slimming burgers or any sausage meat
  • 4 eggs
  • Panko breadcrumbs or any crunchy ingredient you have in your cupboard, such as Ryvita/Weetabix/cornflakes/sesame seeds/nuts/oats
  • Spices, such as Cajun
  • Salt and pepper
  • Steak seasoning or anything you want

Method:

Put eggs in the air fryer for 8 minutes at 170oC.

When done run under cold water for 2-3 minutes (leave in bowl if you want to).

De-shell the eggs still running the cold water.

Wrap burger or meat around the egg (slightly wet hands make this easier).

Roll the wrapped egg in crumbs of your choice.

Place air fryer for 17 minutes or oven for 22 minutes.

Seana’s stuffing

Makes 2 loaves.

What you’ll need:

  • ½ tsp sage
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 white onion
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • Hegarty’s sausage meat
  • ¾ loaf of breadcrumbs
  • Seasoning

Method:

Put bread and herbs into a processor and blend.

Put in a large bowl.

Blend onions and add to mixed ingredients.

Mix all with clean hands and make a loaf shape. Wrap with baking paper and insert into the air fryer for 22 minutes at 175oC.

Take off baking paper and cook for a further 5 minutes until crisp.



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