Posted in Events & Adventures in Food, Recipes

Christmas Past – A collection of Gimme the Recipe Christmas Recipes & generally Christmassy stuff


Anyone else thinking hmmm what’ll we have for starters this year?  Or do we stick with Turkey how about a goose.? There are lots of fun decisions to be made and shopping to be done.  While you make up your mind here’s a round-up of some Gimme The Recipe Christmas Favourites over the years: {just click on the links to see the recipes associated with the pictures}….

Christmas Breakfast:

Walnut Bread & Very Berry Granola

Inchydoney Walnut Bread

Very Berry Granola in glass

Christmas Granola

Christmas Granola in Jar from top

Christmas Day Starters:

Olive & Feta Party Bites

Olive & Feta Bites

Cranberry, Pate & Pickled Cucumber Christmas Canapes

Chicken Liver Pate, Pickled Cucumber & Spiced Cranberries

Warm cranberry & walnut dressed roast veg, apple & blue cheese winter salad

Warm winter salad II

Mini Crab Cakes

Crab Cakes

Grape & Melon with Mint

Darina Allen's Grape and Melon with Mint

Goats Cheese Crostini

Goats Cheese Crostini

Mary Berry’s Canapes

Party Food Mary Berry Canapes

Party Food – Galia & Parma Bites

Peppered Galia and Parma

Chicken, Thyme & Mushroom Vol au Vent

Chicken, Thyme & Mushroom Vol au Vent closer opt

Onion Relish

Onion Relish

Date and Apricot Chutney

Chutney & Gubbeen

Florentine Christmas Box

Mulled wine by an open fire

Mulled Wine

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Cake & Icing on The Cake

Starry Iced Christmas Cake

Black Forest Roulade – Christmas Log

Black Forest Roulade

Dressing your table: {note some of the stores referenced in this blog post are unfortunately no longer trading}

Treetop & Napkin Rings

I hope you’re getting excited now in the build up to Christmas!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

Escape to Italy

Escape to Italy

4 nights in Sorrento followed by 2 nights in Rome made for the perfect Autumn break. Temperatures hovered around 22 degrees and the rain stayed away.

Walk on water Amalfi

Day 1

Arriving into Rome from Dublin around 11am on 15th October, we picked up our hire car and were on the road towards Napoli by 12.30.

About an hour down the road peckishness saw us pulling into a roadside service station and sitting down to some deliciously fresh-baked bread, cheese, tomatoes and parma ham. Not a chip in site!

Onwards we weaved through precarious traffic, by-passing Napoli and easing though long tunnels until we arrived at Grand Hotel Capodimonte in Sorrento.

A sprawling 4 star hotel we stayed here comfortably in a superior double room for 4 nights.

Mount Vesuvius

Sorrento building

Darkness falls early in the Autumn and we strolled 5 minutes from the hotel into historic heart of Sorrento to dine around 6.30pm in darkness. Eating here turned out to be a mistake and a very disappointing start to our dining in Italy but the gelato from one of the many close-by gelaterias made up for it somewhat.

On return to the hotel we sojourned to the comfortable lounge, for nightcaps and the reveries of the piano player – self-service snacks – crisps, nuts and olives saw us greedily scoffing before bedtime.

view from hotel capodimonte

Day 2:

A lazy day spent exploring beautiful Sorrento, indulgent cappuccinos and pastries. A splash in the hotel pools followed by an exquisite dining experience at Restaurant Aurora Light on Piazza Tasso – highly recommended.


Aurora Light Tempura

Aurora Light Veg Lasagne

Aurora Light fresh baked bread

Caprese salad, vegetable tempura, freshly baked bread, vegetarian lasagna and amazing wine.  Followed naturally by a chocolate ice-cream at a close-by gelateria.

Day 3:

We rose early and hit the road after a robust breakfast. Indentations of my fingernails are probably still in the armrests of the Mercedes car rental.  We rounded bend after bend ignoring rockfall warnings to wend our way to Amalfi. How splendid! This beautiful little village pivots around a magnificent focal square, steps lead up to the Duomo and we quite by chance ate our pastries of the day at the renowned Pansa. Superb. As we munched, a jazzy quartet performed L’Americano and flogged their CDs – such a perfect experience I felt like I was in the middle of a movie.

water amalfi

Pansa Menu amalfi

Rum baba at Pansa

Blue skies Amalfi

Heading back along the peninsula we stopped off at picturesque Positano getting briefly lost en route we eventually risked driving right down into the heart of Positano for parking and were successful. I couldn’t imagine attempting this at high season as it is busy enough off-peak.


Positano from the beach

Refreshments Positano

White-washed walls it is almost too picture perfect to be real with lane after meandering laneway filled with boutiques, jewelers, cafes and restaurants. Emerging out onto the stoney beach where a bride and groom were being photographed there’s a mystical feel to Positano.

Indulging in a delicious pizza down by the beach and basking in sunshine I once more quaffed prosecco followed by some delicious local Fiano.

Back in Sorrento we treated ourselves at Raki Gelato which promises high quality ingredients, 30% less sugar and delivers on taste.

Day 4:

As Ireland were to play Argentina in the world cup quarter rugby finals at 2pm on our 4th day, our trip to the isle of Capri had to be early and brief. We ferried over in 30 minutes and started to walk upwards towards Anacapri – after 15 minutes of swift walking I gazed upwards, balked and demanded to finish the rest by taxi – an open top ride overlooking a spectacular drop we rose higher until our destination was reached. You could go higher on foot or by chairlift – my husband chose the latter and I being as vertiginous as you’ll get chose to rise no further and happily explored Anacapri.

Once more a pizza was ordered this time at the square in Capri followed by a  wander around the designer-heavy laneways – window shopping only!  I would have loved to have swam in the sea but time was against us and we returned to Sorrento to sit in the sunshine outside an Irish bar and watch Ireland’s dream fade and give way to the Argentinians.

pizza on the square at Capri

Hotel Relais La Palma Capri

That evening our Michelin Star dining experience at Grand Hotel Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento was exquisite. Treated like royalty I had courses that featured duck, rabbit and lamb while my better half went for numerous fish courses that featured on a five course taster menu. I shared his dessert and he regretted dividing the lemon pie. Finishing off with the petits fours, what a treat.

Michelin star dessert Sorrento

Petit fours at Excelsior Vittoria

Day 5:

Breakfast at Grand Hotel Capodimonte was included in our fare and my husband who travels a lot proclaimed it the best breakfast experience he has had. A chef mans the omelette section where you can request eggs whichever way you choose, accompaniments are bacon, tomato and cubed fried potatoes. There’s a coffee station, a juice station even a prosecco area! Continental breakfast choices of various cheeses, meats and breads abound. Naturally there’s a condiment section housing a vast selection of confitures and even a churn of nutella – my children would have been in heaven, and lets not forget the pastries.

Departing around 11am we headed back to Rome, refuelling the car on the outskirts and depositing it back to the airport where we joined a busy taxi queue to central Rome – White City registered taxis charge a flat fee of 48 euro to the centre. We queued for around 30 minutes and another 25 minutes or so saw us deposited at the door of the Hotel Forum. This time my husband left the imprints of his nails in the armrests of the taxi! Every drive in Italy is a game of chicken.

Up the Via del Corso we rambled veering off to inspect the maintenance works underway at the Trevi Fountain and then onwards to the similarly cordoned off Spanish steps – pizza once more followed by chocolate ice-cream.  Every corner you turn in Rome conjures up monuments and magnificent architecture and a history lesson if you choose to take it.

Drinks at our rooftop bar later were monumentally expensive and one was enough for our wallet.

The rooms at Hotel Forum are tight on space but perfectly adequate, scrupulously clean and meet all requirements. Being situated centrally is invaluable in Rome and I wouldn’t contemplate staying on the outskirts.




Day 6.

Up early and across the road to be fleeced by a bill of 50 euro for breakfast! I only had juice, a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino – he had the works of a fry up a juice and a coffee – it turns out the orange juice was a majestic 8 euro a freshly-squeezed glass!!!



Fortified we trekked Rome for hours – The Colosseum, followed by the Forum (the place that most catches my breath in Rome), the Mouth of Truth – Bocca della Verita – then a wonderfully quiet stroll along the upper banks of the gushing Tiber – briefly onto the Island – Isola Tiberina – and then redoubling our steps to find ourselves joining the security check queues to visit St Peter’s Basilica. Knowing what I know now I would recommend purchasing of ‘Priority’ tickets at 25 euro for the Sistine Chapel at the Basilica before you leave. The Sistine is housed somewhere through the maze of the Vatican museum – we queued for 30 minutes to pay 18 euros on entry – I think the priority would have seen us getting in in 10 though I could be wrong. My head was wrecked by continuous touting in the queues, reared to be paranoid I don’t do touts and ignored their warnings that we would be queuing for an hour and a half – a lie as it turned out. Once in the door of the Vatican museum we followed arrow after arrow pointing towards the Sistine. You entered a room lined with magnificent tapestries and artwork, then another, then another, looking up ceilings were adorned – are we there? I queried continuously as we slowly shuffled along in a heap of people, turning to my husband I declared ‘this is just another really fancy queue’ as the twists and turns eventually led us to the Sistine – instead of being spectacular instead it was a relief, a box ticked, yes, we got there, we saw it, it’s done.  There is only so long that you can stand and look up. Next!

opus at pantheon

Next was better. Next was the picture museum that houses more works of Da Vinci, Bellini et al but for me the highlight of my trip to the Vatican was Carravagio’s ‘The Deposition’ – the depth, the darkness, the light – Wow!

Heavy legs walked away from the Vatican to locate the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, that opening to the heavens is my third Wow of Rome. Crane your neck, stand and gaze upwards in wonder and awe – how did something like this get designed so very long ago and how is it still standing?

The pantheon

With a most useful guidebook under my arm borrowed from my friend Abina, ‘Top 10 Rome’ an Eyewitness Travel Guide, we selected to dine and wine at close-by winebar ‘Cul de Sac.’ Delicious white wine from Sardinia came recommended for me along with a fruit-laden red for him. I dined on delicious duck ravioli and he had the Sicilian pasta. To finish, the tiramisu was shared.

wine at cul de sac

Sicilian Pasta at cul de sac

Duck ravioli at cul de sac

tiramisu cul de sac

Day 7.

There must always be a last day and this last day left me in the knowledge that Rome will never be ‘done’. We must return, and return, and still I know it will never be done. Keats-Shelley House was paid a visit, a leisurely hour was spent in Babington tea shop and then a search in vain to visit more Caravaggio’s as the church Santa Maria del Popolo was not re-opening until 4pm a time at which we were taking our leave.

Babington tea rooms

Departing Leonardo Da Vinci airport at Fiumicino 18km outside Rome was a bizarre experience. We went through security towards Gate G as indicated on the boards, stopped to shop and then went to find the gate number which turned out to be a bus trip to area G with more shops and then another bus ride to the plane. I’m a bit of a time freak where airplane trips are concerned and always leave ample time for contingencies which in the case of our departure from Rome was just sufficient.

This is my second trip to Rome, I’ve also visited Tuscany, Milan, Portofino and Sicily. Italy is a magnificent country. Beautiful. The food and wine generally are incredible. Next on my list is a trip to Puglia, I really, really want to visit there but I also want to revisit Rome. It will probably be quite some time before I return but I cannot wait. Everyone should have the opportunity to sample La Dolce Vita.

Italy is waiting for you – just Go!

‘Til next time, Sheila.

Warning re driving in Italy & Car Rental:

  1. Italian drivers are crazy, cars were swerving lanes on the motorway and phone usage while driving is rife. Streets can be very narrow and a large number of cars have broken wing mirrors and scrapes and dents as testimony to tight spaces.
  2. On pick-up of the car we opted not to take the additional insurance offered. In hind-sight we might have done for peace of mind given the driving conditions even though we didn’t need to use it.
  3. On return of the car the attendant walked around the car to inspect it – we knew it was fine. He then lay on the ground, examined underneath the front of the car and started asking if we had taken out their insurance!!! He then pointed out some damage underneath the car and I then pointed out that when his colleague had inspected the car on original pick up he did not look underneath the car and neither did we!! Sufficient eye-rolling put paid to his ridiculous efforts to exhort additional funds. Be wary.
Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

It’s my birthday {vote for me and I’ll tell you my age}

Yesterday, the 7th of September, was my birthday and I am now 47!

It was also the day that the Irish Blog Awards opened up to Public Voting and I would love it if you would vote for Gimme The Recipe to reach the finals of this year’s awards.
Sheila birthday

Apparently a true lady never reveals her age but that’s okay as I shall forever quite happily remain a girl.

Sheila 47‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

Gimme The Recipe 2 – The Photoshoot

It’s been a busy week chez Kiely with the photoshoot for Gimme the Recipe 2 taking place from Sunday through Wednesday. 4 intense, whirlwind days have just whizzed by. It’s been an amazing experience to work with a professional food stylist (Jette Virdi), photographer (Marta Miklinkska) and graphic designer (Sarah O’Flaherty) while I did the cooking. My team in the kitchen were my twin daughters Daire & Eimear and my eldest daughter Ellie was on-hand for the food stylist and photographer.  There is no way that I would have survived the 4 intense days without their help as non-stop cooking meant it was essential to have counters constantly cleared, wash-up on the go and ingredients sought out with ultra efficiency.  Organisation was everything and each evening I typed out the list of the next day’s recipes with notes and instructions on the food styling. Ingredients were weighed and measured in advance and as much advance preparation as was possible to do was done. In the course of the four days 58 recipes from the book were shot – some as groups but mostly individually. I didn’t believe it was possible to do so much so quickly but I guess this is what professional chefs do all the time.
I’ve worked in professional kitchens as a student.  I worked in the MaryRose cafe in Cork city making sandwiches and clearing tables, I worked in Hotel Alfa at Place de la Gare in Luxembourg under two French Chefs doing food prep. and I worked in Obadiah’s kitchen in Nantucket as dishwasher and food prep. and in The Starlight Theatre & Cafe in Nantucket as restaurant hostess. Some chefs handle stress better than others and in one of the establishments the chefs would be throwing frying pans and barking at the waiters until service was over then they’d disappear out the back and eventually come floating back in for clean-up magically mellowed…. hmmmm. It is very stressful and hats off to the chefs who can handle the stress and still be civil to those around them.
All this cooking means that my freezer is now full and I can’t see myself doing any real cooking for at least a week. Phew.
Here’s a few pictures from behind the scenes and I can’t wait to share the finished article – Gimme The Recipe 2 {to be published with Mercier Press} – with you all in Spring 2016.
Board Setup
Eimear & Daire eating setup in background
Eimear helping
Ellie & Pavlova
kylie on shoulder
Kylie's had enough
Sheila & Johnnie
Sheila Kiely
Sheila stuffing chicken
‘Til next time, Sheila.
& p.s. the blog has made the Longlist for The Blog Awards Ireland 2015.

Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

Best Scone in Ireland 2014

They came from all over the country and they’d been up since cock-crow, some even before.  Busily baking scones they had been, and adding final touches, carefully selecting baskets perhaps & some deftly dusting with icing sugar.  One baker in fact I believe had made four batches before deciding which scones to send. Some sent a selection of flavours and there were interesting variations.  Scones varied and participants varied but they all had passion in common and the air of nervous anticipation mixed with giddy excitement was palpable around the exquisitely laid tables for Afternoon Tea at The Merrion Hotel as they awaited the announcement.
I was honoured to be part of the judging panel and to spend the morning tasting all ten entries.  They were lifted, turned, torn, buttered, smelled and savoured and while it was fun to play food critic we took these scones seriously.

Well done to all the other finalists in Goodall’s Best Scone 2014

  • The Tea Rooms, Quin, Co. Clare
  • Coffee Pod, Cork
  • Janey Macs, Kinsale
  • Café Fergus, Newmarket on Fergus
  • Mitchells Café, Kylemore Abbey
  • Centra, Gorey for Brigid’s Scones
  • The Pantry, Kilkee
  • The Tea Rooms at Ducketts Grove, Carlow
  • Daisy Cottage Farm, Co. Wicklow

But as always there can only be one who gets to wear the crown.  It’s been decided and the 2014 badge of honour for ‘Goodall’s Best Scone’ has been bestowed upon Graham Herterich – The Cupcake Bloke.  Congratulations Graham!
Goodalls. Picture by Shane O'Neill / Copyright Fennell Photography 2014.

In business since December 2012, Graham {The Cupcake Bloke} sells his beautiful baked goods from Coppinger Row Market on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The winning scone from The Cupcake Bloke was a Black Pudding and Apple savoury scone, that’s made from Irish produce, including black pudding from Graham’s cousin’s butchers, Herterich’s Butchers in Longford.
Alongside his partner, Daithi Kelleher, Graham has grown the business over the last 18 months, and now, in addition to its market stall in Coppinger Row, The Cupcake Bloke also offers bespoke baking for events and weddings.
Best wishes to Graham & happy baking!
‘Til next time, Sheila.