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