Posted in Recipes

One Tray Fish Bake. A simple fish supper.

I have to share today’s triumph with you and YOU have to make it. I’m not commanding you, I’m simply imploring, I’m pleading because it is so simple and so tasty that I don’t want to be the only person in the world who has made this. Share this with me. Please.

You will know how many people you are cooking for so use your judgement in the amount of the following ingredients you will need. I’m giving quantities that cook for 5.

You will need:

10 baby potatoes

5 pieces of fish (I used hake)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tomato pesto

1 tbsp mixed herbs

3 large spring onion

2 handfuls baby spinach leaves

3 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes

Lemon to serve – optional


Heat a fan oven to 200C and follow the method in the following words and pictures. You will need a large baking dish and tin foil.

Note : test your fish is cooked through to the centre before serving. Smaller / thinner fish pieces will take less cooking time.

Note 2 : my previous microwave would have cooked baby potatoes in 5 mins, my current one takes 8 mins so that time will vary. (You could boil if you prefer)

Lots of pluses for this dish. Simple, tasty, healthy & minimal washing up. I do hope you get to give it a try.

Enjoy! Sheila

Posted in Recipes

Chicken Biryani, a delicious creamy one pot curry

I love food. That’s a given. This is one of the best things that I have ever cooked. What that means is that this is a really good dish. REALLY GOOD! Okay, you get it, I like this Chicken Biryani. Let me count the ways though : It is easy. It is relatively quick. It is a crowd pleaser. It will feed a crowd (yes, these are two different points). It cooks in one pot. It is delicious. I like it. 7. There are 7 reasons why this is a really good dish! And you don’t care, you just want the recipe so move along there Sheila and share…

Couple of notes, if you are finding your way with cooking and exploring new things you may yet have come to use cardamom. Don’t be put off by ingredients that may be unknown to you. You will find cardamom pods easily in the super market and you will bash the outer husks using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin to release the inner seeds. Another note I like to share is about fresh ginger. Keep it in the freezer and grate what you need straight from frozen using a microplane grater, there is no need to peel ginger.

Chicken curry

Chicken Biryani Recipe
Feeds 6 easily.
You will need :
250g frozen peas
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion chopped finely
spices :
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp Garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
8 cardomon pods seeded
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tsp cumin
Chicken breast 500g
2 tbsp tomatoes purée
2 cups quick cook rice = approx. 350g
Tin coconut milk
2 cup veg stock = approx. 250ml
Flaked almonds to toast
Fresh Coriander to serve
Place 250g frozen peas in jug of boiling hot water and set aside
Finely chop the onion, grate the ginger, crack open the cardamom pods to release the seeds
Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in large pan over medium heat
Gently fry the onion for 5 mins.
Stir in the following spices :
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp Garam masala
2 tsp turmeric
8 cardomon pods seeded
Half teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tsp cumin
Cook spices couple minutes stirring through the onion.
Add chopped chicken 500g and 2 tbsp tomatoes purée, mix to coat chicken with spice
Add the drained peas stir through
Add 2 cups rice stir through
Pour in Can of coconut milk and the 2 cups veg stock
Raise the heat until just begging to bubble, stir well reduce the heat to medium and cover with lid for 10 mins
(Check every so often with wooden spoon that nothing is sticking to bottom of pan if it is give it a stir and turn down the heat a little.)
Toast the flaked almonds in a frying pan
Chop the fresh coriander
Once the Chicken Biryani has simmered for 10 minutes remove the lid and test to see if rice cooked, if not simmer a little longer covered and add more liquid if any danger of sticking.Turn the heat up for a few minutes more until just bubbling again.
Serve with the toasted almonds and fresh coriander.}
Enjoy! Sheila.

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Feta and black pudding Cannelloni

Want to try something different with pasta? Cannelloni.
Cannelloni in dish with fish slice

Be warned though, it took me ages to get the filling into the dry pasta tubes using a teaspoon so an icing bag might be advised to speed up filling the tubes.  I spooned the filling in then used the back of the spoon to push it in and then the leg of the spoon along with fingers to push it right in.  It was tedious so next time I’ll be trying a piping bag.
crumbled black pudding, spinach and toasted pine nuts
Cannelloni being stuffed
Creme fraiche sauce before whisking
Creme fraiche sauce with whisk
Cannelloni with creme fraiche sauce before cooking
Cannelloni with cheddar cheese grated on top
cannelloni cooked in dish

The filling is delicious and simple to make.  Black pudding is having a bit of a moment as a ‘super-food’ and it’s always been a firm favourite in our house anyway.  What I love about this meal along with the taste is the speed of preparation, there is nothing to be chopped other than wilted spinach which is a cinch.  Another cheat is the creamy sauce, instead of labouring over a bechamel I combine creme fraiche, milk and mustard to pour over the cannelloni and then crumble over some cheddar, again super fast and easy, just what you want.
Cannelloni with knife and fork

Black Pudding & Feta Cannelloni.
Serves 4.
You will need:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
Black pudding – 280g approx
100g spinach leaves
100g frozen peas
50g pinenuts
Block of feta cheese – 200g approx
Box dry Cannelloni tubes (16) – 200g
Creme fraiche – 250g
Milk – 200ml
1 tsp English Mustard
Cheddar – 50g
Pre-heat a fan oven to 180C.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan.  Slice the black pudding into rounds and fry for 3 minutes on both sides then place in a large bowl.
Add the spinach to the empty pan used for the pudding and add a little splash of water, cover with a lid for 1 minute to wilt the spinach.  Remove the spinach to some kitchen paper and squeeze away excess moisture.  Chop the wilted spinach and add to the pudding.  Use a fork to crumble the pudding and combine with the spinach.
Wipe out the pan and dry-fry the pine nuts until turning golden – watch carefully as they will burn easily.
Meanwhile place the frozen peas in a jug of boiling water.
Once the pine nuts have toasted mix in with the pudding and spinach.
Crumble in the feta block and combine the mixture with a fork.
Finally drain the peas and add into the pudding mixture and mix well.
Use a whisk to combine the creme fraiche, milk and mustard in a jug/bowl and set aside.
Fill the cannelloni tubes either using a piping bag or a teaspoon, packing the mixture right in.
Place the stuffed tubes in a baking dish, pour over the creme fraiche sauce and grate over the cheddar.
Bake in the hot oven at 180 for 20 minutes and then turn down to 160 for a further 20 minutes.
Great served with a simple green leaf salad.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Super Soups

For the cold months a warming soup is just what you need.  I love to make these up and have jugfuls in the fridge so I can have a nutritious and  filling snack instead of reaching for the quick hit of biscuits.
Super soups
The recipe I give here is for a beautifully spiced parsnip soup that is guaranteed to heat you up and leave you glowing.  It’s one of the recipes from my upcoming book ‘Enjoy!’.
Super Greens Soup
In the photographs the luciously vibrant green soup is packed full of goodness – it’s got onion, broccoli, green chilli and spinach.  The recipe for Super Green Soup is in February’s Red Magazine {& online here} from a feature they have on vegan recipes by Amelia Freer and her book is called ‘Cook, Nourish, Glow’.  Truth be told I like to serve this soup topped with grated parmesan or cheddar instead of the cashew butter that she suggests.
I like to have both soups nice and thick but you can water them down by adding more vegetable stock if you prefer a thinner consistency.
As I post this on ‘Blue Monday’ I do hope that know that the winter blues are almost behind us and we can look forward to warmer and brighter days and finally the sun came out for a while today so that’s promising.

Winter Warmer Peppered Parsnip, Potato & Leek soup
Serves: 4
You will need:
50g butter
2 small or 1 large leek
2 medium parsnips (approx. 450g)
2 medium potatoes (approx. 450g)
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 litre vegetable stock – from cube is fine
Fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
Top and tail the leeks removing the outer layer of leaves if very coarse or dirty.
Rinse under cold water tap, slice in half lengthways then thinly slice.
Melt the 50g butter in a large saucepan over a low heat, add the leeks and cover with a lid to sweat for 10 minutes.
Peel and cube the potatoes and parsnips then add to the softened leek with the ground black pepper and salt mixing well.
Add the stock then bring to the boil, reduce heat to simmer with lid almost covering for 30 minutes.
Blend well with a stick blender or in a food processor.
Serve with some finely chopped fresh parsley.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Risotto with green veg., bacon & parsley

Time.  Risotto requires a little time and patience not a lot of time or skill. Extremely budget friendly I estimate that I cooked for 8 of us at well under 20 euro – I doubled the recipe given here so you could cook this for four at around 10 euro.  Budget friendly, healthy, cooked from scratch, and given time and patience it is easy too.
Risotto in bowl close up
Risotto on platter

I think we’re all ready to park Christmas and the holidays and move on into the New Year.  The holiday period was a fabulous time to catch up with family and relax but the first week back is very hard.  I know that at the end of my first week I’m feeling tired and cranky – it’s been hard to get up early and I’m still not adjusted enough to get to bed a bit earlier too.  There’s also still too many sweets and biscuits hanging around to be embarking on any kind of health kick and with our incessant rain of late the least one can have is a bit of comfort in a warm drink with a sweet treat.  We’re not about to throw them out! It’s dark, it’s dreary and even though these pictures were taken at around 2pm today natural light was very sadly lacking.  The risotto was perfect for a day like today though, warming, comforting and indulgent I do hope you get to try it out.
Risotto in bowl
Risotto close up

Risotto with Green Veg., Bacon & Parsley
Serves 4.

You will need:
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
225g Arborio risotto rice
1 courgette
1 bunch asparagus
1 bunch fine green beans
950ml hot vegetable stock
125g bacon lardons or pancetta pieces
2 tbsp grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the arborio rice , stir using a wooden spoon and cook for a couple of minutes then add the onion and garlic stir and cook for another couple of minutes.  You want them to begin to soften and not brown.
Meanwhile heat the other tbsp oil in another frying pan and cook courgette slices on both sides for a couple of minutes until golden but still firm – remove to a dish lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
While the courgette cooks add 2 ladles of stock to the risotto rice, stir well and leave until absorbed then add a further 2 ladles, stir and leave a couple of mins, continue in this manner until all stock has been added and the rice is beautifully plumped up, soft and creamy looking.
Meanwhile cook the asparagus in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and the same with the green beans – drain and remove to rest with the courgette until the risotto rice has all been cooked.
Cook the bacon lardons in the pan used to cook the courgette.
Once the risotto has had all stock added stir in the parmesan and parsley then add the cooked vegetables, bacon lardons and serve.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Spiced Pork & Vegetable Meatloaf

Spiced Pork & Vegetable Meatloaf.

Meatloaf in tin

On answering the ‘What’s for Dinner?’ question when my kids returned home starving I was surprised with their reaction when I said Meatloaf. I had expecting ‘yeuch’ or ‘that sounds disgusting’ but instead it was ‘oh meatloaf, is that the American thing?’ and I said yes, because it does seem to be a very American thing.

I don’t remember my mother ever making it and in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had it before myself. I wanted to use pork mince and I had been thinking meatballs but they take such a long time to roll into balls and are tricky to cook through to the middle without overdoing the outside and have to be tended to whereas meatloaf is a much easier option. I based this meatloaf dish on a nutroast that I had made some time back {link} and decided to really healthy it up with lots of vegetables.

Meatloaf slice

It is tasty, it is easy, it’s not a ‘wow’ dish but being simple and extremely economical it’s a perfect midweek dinner.

I’ve called it meatloaf but it’s mostly vegetables so as well as being speedy and cheap it’s a good healthy option. Ticking lots of boxes with this one.

A major plus is that with the aid of a food-processor it takes about 5 minutes to prepare and then cooks away happily unobserved in the oven for 1 hour so that you can do other things.

Accompaniments were wholegrain rice and cannellini beans cooked with garlic, onion, herbes de provence and a tin of plum tomatoes.

Note: I highly recommend the use of a food-processor with a chopping blade and a grater blade for speedy preparation of ingredients.

Spiced Pork & Vegetable Meatloaf:

Serves 6 generously.

You will need:
2 slices bread (wholegrain preferable)
2 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
4 mushrooms
1 red pepper
500g pork mince
3 medium carrots
50g pumpkin seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp herbes de provence
1 egg
A little oil
Preheat the fan oven to 170C
Use a food processor to blitz the bread into breadcrumbs and place them in a large bowl.
Next chop the onion and garlic together in the food processor and add to the breadcrumbs.
Bltz the mushrooms and add to the bowl { – don’t mulch, keep bitey!}
Bltiz the red pepper and toss in on top of the other ingredients followed by the pork mince.
Change the blade on the food processor to a grating blade and then peel and grate the carrots and add to the pork mince mixture followed by the pumpkin seeds, chilli flakes, herbes de provence and 1 beaten egg.
Use your hands to get stuck in and mix the ingredients so that all are well distributed.
Use a piece of paper-towel to grease the sides and base of a loaf-tin with a little oil and then fill it with the meatloaf mixture.
Cook in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Great with wholegrain rice and cannellini beans as described above.
‘Til next time, Sheila

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Comfort & Mash

Comfort & Mash.

Have you turned on the heating yet? I have. We’re having thermostat difficulties but I’ll get over it. Every single year without fail I have heating problems. Last year we installed a new boiler (gas) and it has proved to be a lot more efficient than the previous beast with our bills are greatly reduced – though that might have something to do with the thermostat difficulties. Sigh.

So yes, comfort and all things mash are called for. One of my favourite vegetables to mash is parsnip, I love it with carrot or with apple and here I have it with some buttery softened leeks – delicious.

Parsnip & Leek Mash

Besides the chill factor there’s also the teen factor and this week has been particularly precarious – there are 6 of them aged from 13 to 18 – and to suffice it to say that this week we have been far from the Waltons. I watched a movie recently (so dreadful I can’t remember the name) that had one scene that struck a chord, a man contemplating imminent fatherhood asked his friend what parenthood was like and he replied that it was ‘Awful, awful, awful and then something happens that is so beyond amazing that you think yes, this is what it’s all for….. and then it reverts again to awful, awful, awful.’ Ok so it’s not that bad and I do remember the angst and frustration of being a teenager myself but there have been moments where parenthood has been just awful!

So besides heating you up internally I find that a bowl of delicious mash comforts and warms you up emotionally. A bowl of delicious mash is your friend.

Parsnip & Leek Mash:
You will need:

Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the rinsed and finely chopped leeks to soften for around 5 minutes.
Meanwhile peel, chop and boil the parsnips in a saucepan of boiling water until tender enough to mash.
Drain the parsnips and mash with the buttery leeks and some more butter.
Season well with salt and pepper.
Serve on its own or as pictured with a side of pork chop, red onion gravy and a mashed potatoes.
‘Til next time, Sheila
p.s. Voting continues for another couple of days for the Irish Food Blog Awards so a gentle reminder to VOTE FOR ME please! Just click here… vote for Gimme The Recipe to reach to Irish Blog Awards 2015 Finals

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 What's for Dinner Mom?

Lamb Parmigiana

Let summer linger a little longer with this Sicilian inspired dish.  Lucky enough to taste authentic parmigiana cooked by my new brother-in-law’s grandmother in Sicily this summer, I knew it was ‘the’ one dish of the many, many amazing dishes cooked for us that I most wanted to try.  As part of the Italian way of eating it was a course that featured after anti-pasti but before meat and salad and rounded off with fresh fruit.  A meal that you can imagine called for much lingering, lively conversation and immense hospitality.
Lamb Parmigiana with crusty bread
Returned to the damp patch that is Eire and thrust into a churning schedule of work,school, sport etc. time for lingering is limited so I’ve added meat to the parmigiana so it can feature as a substantial stand alone dish, one which now gives a distinct nod towards Greek moussaka too.  As parmesan can prove to be quite expensive feel free to substitute the cheese.
Lamb Parmigiana in dish
Lamb Parmigiana
Lamb Parmigiana
Serves 6
You will need:
Olive oil or rapeseed oil (for frying and drizzling)
500g minced lamb
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp dried oregano
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 aubergines
50g parmesan (about half a regular sized wedge)
Pre-heat the fan oven to 180C / Gas Mark 6
(You will be layering the meat and aubergine in a baking dish once prepared)
Heat a tbsp of oil in a large pan over a medium heat and brown the mince.
Finely chop the onion, peel and crush the garlic.
Push the browned mince to the side of the pan and add the chopped onion to the centre and allow to soften for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute before stirring in the oregano and chopped tomatoes.  Leave to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Heat a tbsp of oil in another large frying pan/ griddle pan over a medium heat.
Cut the aubergines into 1cm thick round slices and slightly brown the slices on both sides drizzling over extra oil so that they soften a little as they cook.  Once browned remove to a plate.  You may need to do this in a couple of batches.
Layer meat then aubergine slices topped with grated parmesan into a baking dish and repeat finishing with a generous topping of grated parmesan.
Bake in the hot oven until the cheese has melted and the meat is bubbling up underneath the aubergines (15  minutes)
Enjoy with some crusty bread.
Til next time Sheila

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Honey Glazed Rashers on Lemon & Vegetable Couscous

Honeyed and stickily sweet rashers sit on a bed of lemony zipped couscous fortified with a mighty selection of healthy vegetables.
Honey Glazed Rashers on Lemony Vegetable CouscousThere’s plenty that could be said about this dish perhaps beginning with the sweet honey and sharp lemon combination.  They speak of soothing and of comfort and indeed with the succulent rashers comfort is definitely provided however the plumped up couscous grains and still bitey vegetables bring it on a pathway that routes toward the virtuous.
Honey Glazed Rashers on Lemony Vegetable Couscous Close Up
Served hot this makes a satisfying main and any leftovers are flavoursome enough to be welcomed cold in a lunchbox or as a side dish served perhaps with a juicy burger.
Honey Glazed Rashers on Lemony Vegetable Couscous from aboveHoney Glazed Rashers on Lemon & Vegetable Couscous
Serves 4
You will need:
1 medium red onion
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 aubergine
1 courgette
3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
1 tbsp butter
250g couscous
250ml vegetable stock (hot – from cube is fine)
1 lemon
Small bunch coriander
8 rashers of bacon
1 tbsp runny honey
Peel and chop the red onion into bitesize chunks.
Deseed and chop the peppers in chunks.
Slice both the aubergine and courgette into 4 lengthways and then chop each length into chunks.
Put chopped onion, peppers, aubergine and courgette in a large bowl and drizzle in 2 tbsp of oil and mix well.
Heat a large griddle pan or frying pan and when hot add in the vegetables pressing them down well to make contact with the hot pan and leave to cook for 2 minutes (you may need to do this in two batches depending on size of pan).
Mix and toss the vegetables and again press down and leave to cook for a further two minutes before turning the heat to medium and cooking for 5 minutes more.
Meanwhile prepare the couscous by first melting 1 tbsp of butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat.
Add 250g couscous to the melted butter, stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Take the couscous saucepan off the heat and pour in 250mls hot vegetable stock, stir with a fork, cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile check on the vegetables, you want to retain a bit of bite so if getting too soft take pan off the heat.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook the rashers on a high heat on one side until beginning to brown then turn over and drizzle the browned side with honey and turn the heat to low to finish cooking the other side for a couple of minutes.
Take the lid off the couscous and return the pan to the heat for 1 minute using a fork to fluff up the grains.
Zest the lemon and then juice it and add both to the couscous and stir well.
Roughly chop the coriander and stir through the couscous.
Place the cooked vegetables in a large serving bowl and stir through the lemony couscous.
Serve straight from the bowl with the honeyed rashers on top.
Til next time, Sheila.

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Beef & Onion Hotpot

Inspired by a flavour-filled french onion soup that I enjoyed at Ballymaloe last weekend (Food Writing Course with Hugo Arnold), I wanted to cook something where the onion was the hero of the piece.
Onions & Shallots
Onions are both prolific and cheap along with being tremendously under-celebrated.  Yet how many dishes start with a gently sauteed or lightly browned onion?  There are countless.  Writing this has me reminding myself to buy a jar of pickled onions soon, an oft forgotten standby that will jazz up many a dull sandwich.  A great tip to fool the masses is this – if you hear the key turning in the door or the screech of ‘What’s for Dinner Mom?’ and dinner is far from started quickly chop and begin to fry an onion and you’ll give the illusion that great things are happening in the kitchen.  In this dish the onion is firstly sweated then fried and then stewed to maximise flavour.
Beef & Onion HotpotBeef & Onion Hotpot with thyme sprig
Beef & Onion Hotpot
Serves 6
You will need:
4 medium onions
4 shallots (I used banana shallots, they come in all shapes, sizes & varieties)
50g butter
2 to 3 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
1kg stewing beef pieces
A little plain flour to sprinkle on beef
250ml vegetable stock – from stockcube is fine
500ml beef stock – from stockcube is fine
4 or 5 thyme sprigs plus extra to garnish (use 1 tsp dried thyme if can’t get sprigs)
8-10 medium sized potatoes
50-75g cheddar cheese
Preheat the fan oven to 160C / Gas Mark 4.
Peel and slice the onions and shallots, keeping them in rings.
Melt the butter in  a large saucepan over a low heat.
Add 1 tbsp of oil and the onions/shallots.  Put a lid on and leave the onions to sweat for 10 minutes while you prepare the meat.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and heat to medium/high.
Brown the meat pieces sprinkled lightly with a little flour  in batches – don’t overcrowd the pan.
You may need to add more oil in between browning batches of meat.
Once browned remove the meat pieces to a large casserole dish – you may need to use two depending on size.
By now the onions should be well softened so add them to the frying pan that the meat was cooked in and stir well to mop up any remaining meat juices.
Continue to cook the onions on a high heat until they begin to change colour and are turning golden.
Add the onion in with the beef in the casserole dish and mix well.
Deglaze any remaining juices and sticky bits in the frying pan by adding some of the stock and scraping up with a wooden spoon.
Add all the stock to the meat and onion in the casserole dish and then push in a few thyme sprigs.
Cook in the covered casserole dish in the oven for at least 1.5 hours and up to 2.5 if you have time which will result in more tender meat.
Around 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time scrub the potatoes but leave the skins on.
Thinly slice them and boil in a saucepan of water until just turning tender – around 5 to 8 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and arrange slices on top of the beef & onion stew and then grate the cheddar cheese on top.
Return to the oven turning up the temperature a little and cook (lid-off) for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown and the potatoes are cooked through.
Serve with a garnish of thyme sprig.
Til next time, Sheila

Posted in What's for Dinner Mom?

Irish Pork Chops with Chickpea Salad

Irish pork chops are lean, economical, super-tasty and above all versatile.  Take them in whatever direction you choose – warming comfort food in a mustard and honey cream sauce or in this case light and zingy in a zesty marinade served with a crunchy salad.
rish Pork Chops
At this time of year with busy schedules you can have the chops marinating overnight and all you’ll have to do is cook them and assemble the salad for a super quick and easy supper.  This recipe is from a ‘Food for Family and Friends’ brochure that Bord Bia (Irish Food Board) has out at the moment, you can also check out this and other delicious Irish Pork recipes over on the Bord Bia Website.
Feel free to make any substitutions you want to in the marinade – dried herbs if you don’t have fresh etc.  This would work equally well with Irish Lamb chops too.
Rosemary, Olive OIl, Garlic, Lemon MarinadeGarlic, Lemon, Rosemary marinade
Chickpea Salad
Serves 4
Marinade & Chops
You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic
half a lemon – zest and juice
4 Irish pork chops – boneless
Finely chop the fresh rosemary and mix with the olive oil and crushed garlic cloves along with the lemon juice and zest to make a marinade.
Pour the marinade over the chops and turn them over to cover both sides.  Leave to take on the flavours overnight in the fridge or for at least 15 minutes before using.
Heat a strong, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and cook the chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side – check that they are cooked through to the middle.
Chickpea Salad
You will need:
1 red onion
1 red pepper
225g tin chickpeas
mixed salad leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tbsp olive oil
Finely slice the red onion and red pepper and combine in a bowl with the salad leaves.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to the salad
Mix the olive oil and vinegar together and pour over the salad, mixing it through the leaves.
Irish Pork ChopChickpea Salad 2
Til next time, Sheila