Posted in Uncategorized, What's for Dinner Mom?

Simple Chicken

Chicken again tonight I hear you cry!!! And what is wrong with that? Nothing at all I tell you, nothing at all.  As a working mother I know how we can get stuck in a dinner rut due to time constraints and a lot of the time just plain tiredness.  Days are busy and you’re rushing around maybe buzzed up on caffeine but come 5 or 6 in the evening you’re ready to collapse and the thought of cooking a dinner can be overwhelming.  I know of a lady who when left to her own devices is quite happy for dinner to be a fresh baguette, some very good brie and some nicely chilled white wine.  Bread, cheese and wine would be heaven but plonk that on the table in front of a clatter of kids and they’ll be banging the knives and forks in a more than mutinous fashion.  Tempting as it may be to abandon ship a weekday dinner is usually dutifully and not joyfully provided.
Paprika and garlic roast chicken
So back to the chicken.  It may sound boring however it has the makings of providing some very simple and tasty dinners and that’s what we’re often after.
Sitting at my kitchen counter perusing cookbooks as I usually do over lunch at home I poured through Clodagh McKenna’s ‘Homemade’ cookbook.  It was a book that I bought for myself because I loved how lovely it looked, the beautiful layout, the sense of handcrafted design, it’s just a really good-looking book.
A roast chicken is one of the most simple meals there is to cook, simply bung it in the oven for an hour then thrown in some potatoes in their skins to bake for and additional 45 mins or so depending on size and that’s it.   Supplemented with some easy cook veg like broccoli or if you want to minimise prep. work, frozen peas will be perfectly adequate to provide a nutritious tasty and simple meal that has required zero preparation.
Roast chicken and salads
Next time you’re doing a roast chicken I recommend that you take an additional 5 minutes (max.) to try out  Clodagh McKenna’s ‘Paprika, garlic and lemon spiced chicken’ which renders a beautifully bronzed, succulent and moist chicken.
Paprika, garlic and lemon spiced chicken
You will need:
1 chicken
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon (I used the zest as well)
80ml of olive oil (I used Irish rapeseed)
1 tbsp paprika
Pre-heat the fan oven to 180C
Crush the garlic and combine with the other ingredients –  a small jug would be ideal.
Use your hands or the back of a spoon to ease up the skin on the breast of the chicken, you’re just loosening it so that you’ll be able to pour a marinade in between the skin and the breast meat.
Tilt the chicken upright in a roasting tin so you can pour half of the marinade in-between the skin and the breast and use your hands over the skin to disperse it beneath.
Place the chicken flat and pour over the remainder of the marinade and then rub all over the bird.
Roast in the pre-heated oven, time will depend on size, I generally roast a medium/large chicken for 90 mins to 2hrs.

Potato Lemon & Rocket salad
Two other recipes I tried from Clodagh’s ‘Homemade’ book were a couscous and chickpea salad and a delicious lemon and rocket new potato salad.  I’m looking forward to trying out some of her other ways with roast chicken – moroccan-spiced, indian-spiced, tarragon, white wine and garlic butter & thai-style roast chicken.  Who said chicken was boring?!
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Lemon Pepper Roast Chicken

I have a spice rack/shelf that sits conveniently over my cooker so whatever I’m making for dinner is usually subject to a lash of whatever comes to hand.  Recently Goodall’s of Ireland sent me a selection of their new range of spice rubs and I’ve been grabbing these to vamp up many a meal.
‘Thai red curry’ obviously enough went into a curry.
‘Moroccan Tagine’ was lashed in with beef and tomatoes for a fragrant stew.
‘Argentine Meat Rub’ was sprinkled onto triangles of pita bread with some oil and baked to make delicious dipping chips that I served with sweet chilli sauce.
The spice rubs are salt free and coeliac friendly.
Here I’ve used the Lemon Pepper sprinkled generously onto the skin of the chicken with some oil and I also used it in the thyme and parsley stuffing mix.
Chickens roast
Lemon PepperThere really is no need for a recipe here, just drizzle your chicken with oil, lash on the lemon pepper and roast away as usual for a zestily lemony fragranced roast.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Nigellissima Roast Chicken with rustic potatoes & larder envy

There’s a lot to love about Nigella Lawson’s latest TV programme – Nigellissima (BBC2) and there’s a little to despise which makes it compulsory viewing if you’re about to partake in a foodie gathering anytime soon.  Even if you’re not bothered on forming an opinion you’ll watch it to admire, scoff, loath, eye-roll and covet.  Yes covet, you will covet firstly perhaps her flawless skin, next of all her amazing kitchen and don’t even dream of stepping outside into the garden as you’ll trip up with exotic plant envy.
Lemons Rosemary and Olives
Then there’s the larder.  No wonkily hinged cupboard doors here I can tell you and no fear of being knocked out by an unbalanced sugar bag teetering dangerously close to the edge of the top shelf.  This is no ordinary pull-out larder this is a Nigella Lawson walk-in larder (whispered coquettishly in M&S ad dulcet voice).  There are pasta sections, copious assortments of grains and even a trunk of compartmentalised liquorice – cue eye rolling. The recipes sway from the accessible e.g. Italian Roast Chicken to the less so e.g. Saffron Orzotto and inspired as they are by her love of Italy they have come in for heavy criticism from the purists.
Chicken ready for oven
Chicken with rustic potatoes
My peeve with the programme is not in the food but in the over-scripting.  Words are beautiful things and Nigella has a poetic craft of them on paper which in my opinion does not translate to the spoken word.  No matter how posh or well-educated I can’t imagine that anyone anywhere has ever had cause to use a phrase such as  ‘venerable volumes’ in what’s supposed to be a casual welcoming chat with you the viewer through the camera.  If you’ve watched the show I’d love to know what you think.
I tweeted this link recently which if you’ve seen the programme may amaze you as it shows how the set for Nigellisima is a studio built replica of Nigella’s own kitchen and plants were kept alive without natural light.
Here’s Nigella’s Italian Roast Chicken recipe accompanied by my own Rustic Potatoes and Gravy.
Nigellissima Roast Chicken

Nigella served her chicken with the juices in the pan but I found that there wasn’t enough and gravy was called for, I also found that the olives charred and this may have been because my tin wasn’t large enough to ensure they were coated in oil and cooking juices.
Serves 4-6.
Italian Roast Chicken:
You will need:
1 large chicken
1 lemon
4 springs rosemary
3 leeks
2 red peppers1 yellow pepper (Nigella uses an orange one as well – I thought 3 plenty and couldn’t find orange one!)
100g olives (pitted) (Nigella specifies black, I used a mixture)
4 tbsp olive oil (I used rapeseed oil)
salt & pepper
Preheat the fan oven to 180C/Gas Mark 6.
Remove any trussing string from the chicken so the legs are loose and you can stuff the cavity with the lemon cut into two halves and two of the rosemary sprigs.
Place chicken in the centre of a large roasting tin.
Wash and chop the leeks into three chunks and slice lengthways.  Deseed the peppers and slice into strips.
Place the leeks and peppers in the roasting tin around the chicken.  Scatter in the olives and drizzle the 4 tbsp olive oil over everything, tossing in the remaining rosemary sprigs and then seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cook the chicken according to it’s weight, a 1.5kg will take approximately 1 and a half hours.
If you are cooking the rustic potatoes (below) put them in the oven a half an hour before the end of the chicken’s cooking time.
When cooked place the chicken to rest on a carving board and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Now would be a good time to make the gravy (below) if desired.
Once rested break the chicken up into portion sizes and serve on a large platter with the roasted vegetables.
Rustic Potatoes
You will need:
8 medium sized potatoes
2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
sprig of rosemary or half teaspoon dried
Chop the washed potatoes with skin left on into small cubes.
Scatter onto a large  baking tray and drizzle over with the oil and picked or dried rosemary leaves.
Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes.
2 tbsp flour
400ml chicken or vegetable stock
With the chicken and vegetables removed from the roasting tin place it on a medium heat on the hob.  Add in the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix it with the juices in the pan scraping up any flavoursome pieces from the bottom.  Stir to cook the flour for 2 minutes.
Gradually add in the stock, whisking steadily and briskly as you do to avoid lumps.  Raise the heat to high, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Events & Adventures in Food

Sunday Lunch at The Mill Restaurant Blarney

A lot has changed at The Mill Restaurant Blarney over the last 12 months.  They’ve overseen a major redesign to create a bright and airy space that beams a huge welcome to all visitors.  What was once and still is a resting spot for many a foreign tourist in search of an Aran jumper is now also a magnet to the weary worn native in search of a break from the norm.  If you’ve been to Killarney you’ll know the holiday buzz feeling that a stroll down their streets gives off on a warm summer’s evening, well that is what The Mill Restaurant has bottled here too and it exudes a wonderfully relaxed vibe.
A large projector screen plays nostalgic black and white footage of Cork while upbeat but un-intrusive jazzy and modern music plays subtly in the background, the double height ceilings and some exposed brick walls working wonders for the acoustics.
I recently launched my book ‘Gimme the Recipe’ at The Mill Restaurant and it was a great success due in most part to the management and staff whose attention to detail and professionalism I could not speak more highly of.
Gimme the Recipe book launch at The Mills Restaurant Blarney
It was while making arrangements for the launch that I saw the sign for the Sunday Family Meal and I made a mental note to return and give it the Kiely Family road test.
Sunday Roast Sign on Blackboard at The Mills Restaurant Blarney
As you can imagine a large family like ours (8) rarely dines out and the primary reason is of course financial however another reason is the pressure that you can sometimes feel when you take children out to dine.  6 kids equals 12 elbows for jostling and 12 hands for spillages and then there’s the ‘when will our food be ready?’ questions followed by the squabbling if impatience gets half  a chance to set in.
One of the strong pluses for family dining at The Mill Restaurant Blarney is that it is carvery style self-service where you queue up and food is served to you immediately and you gather your own cutlery and ice-water on the way back to your seat.  Sometimes you will be given a number for your order if not immediately available and food will then be brought to your table so there is never a back-log in the queue.
Roast Stuffed Chicken & Veg
Making the assumption that the roast would feed the average family of 4 we ordered two.  8 warm plates were supplied (this got much approval from The Gravy Man) and along came two plump, juicy and stuffed roast chickens on two platters with roast potatoes.  With carving knife and fork provided we set about dishing up to the hungry who were helping themselves to the other vegetables : pea puree, carrot & coriander mash, buttered cabbage and mashed potato (and of course there was also gravy.)
DIY Carving
Dishing Out
Close Up Roast Chicken Veg & Gravy
Sunday Lunch at The Mills Restaurant Blarney on plate
Eight of us were more than adequately fed for an incredible 56 euro with many of us having second helpings and the leftovers making their way home in a doggy bag.  I honestly have not experienced a venue quite like this that provides superb value, relaxed family dining that melds with other couples and diverse groups of travellers.
To the hob-bound and child-tethered I say a visit here for Sunday Lunch will leave you feeling human again. Go try it if you can and I’d love to hear what  you think.
Snapshot of table Til next time, Sheila.
NB: Please note that I was not asked to write this piece and it is honest, unsolicited opinion.