This Easter Sunday we’ll all gather as a family; my siblings, our partners, our children, and my parents, and we’ll enjoy this classic roast lamb feast. When I say a classic roast lamb feast that’s not strictly true in the Irish sense of the term. The flavours and the food that we will eat together are a reflection of us as a family. The meal speaks to us of a time spent in the Middle East when Dad was serving with UNIFIL and the youngest of us was still in nappies.
It’s a meal that we will all contribute to. I’ve already been told I’m responsible for the vegetables, which is really my favourite part anyway. The biggest battle in my house will be to get all the vegetables chopped without the kids depleting the serving platter. The beauty of serving a roast lamb feast in this way is that everybody gets to pick what they like. Some family members don’t like cucumbers, some love peppers; everybody will fill their pitta bread and plates before we sit down together and celebrate Easter as a family. Read More →
Yesterday I made a braised beef with seasonal veg dish and using the leftovers I’ve now made a cottage pie.
I’ll keep it simple, because my recipes have to take little time in the kitchen. The only additional ingredients you will need are about 200g of frozen peas and sweetcorn, plus a small amount of grated cheese.
Shred the remaining beef from the previous meal and stir it into the leftover gravy.
Preheat your fan oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
Spoon the gravy and beef mixture into a large baking dish. Top with the frozen vegetables.
Spoon the leftover mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables and gravy mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, until all the food is warmed through and serve immediately.
If you want to, this meal is also perfect for freezing so once assembled, cover well and put straight into the freezer where it will keep for up to 1 month. Ensure it is completely defrosted before cooking in the oven.
For the first in the recipe series I’ve gone back to a family favourite. Mam used to make this braised beef dish in a heavy casserole dish with a lid. The homely flavours come thanks to the veg that all comes from a local farm. It doesn’t get more Irish than this.
Ingredients 3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped 1kg housekeepers cut of beef (note remove any string or elastic before cooking) 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks 1/2 small turnip (or swede) peeled and chopped 1 litre of vegetable stock (use hot water and 1 vegetable stock cube) 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
For Serving Mashed potatoes (make enough for 2 meals)
Method For the braised flavour you will need to sear the onions and the beef. So first grab your casserole dish, put it on a high heat and fry the onions in a teaspoon of vegetable oil until they turn brown/charred. Remove the onions from the dish and put them on a plate.
With the dish still on high, sear all sides of the beef so that it’s dark brown. Add the onions back to the dish, the rest of the vegetables, and then the stock. Cover the casserole dish and reduce the heat so that the stock is on a slow simmer. Cook for 3-4 hours. Note the stock should reach a maximum of halfway up the piece of beef, it should not be covered in the stock.
Adapted for the slow cooker: Fry the onions and then the beef in a frying pan before putting them into your slow cooker. Add the chopped vegetables, stock, put the lid on top and cook on high for 5-6 hours.
Before serving, remove the beef from the dish/slow cooker. Remember you have to keep half for your second dish tomorrow so it may be easier to cut it in half and cover now before serving dinner.
In a small cup mix 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour with a splash of cold water until you get a loose paste. With the vegetables and the stock still on the heat, quickly stir this paste into the mixture. It should thicken the mixture to a gravy instantly. Once again, half of this mixture is to be reserved for your second meal.
Serve the beef with the vegetables in gravy with mash on the side. I’ve served ours with buttered cabbage as I got some fresh from the farm yesterday and I love the vibrant colours.
One of the main reasons why I love this recipe so much is because all of the vegetables used here are Irish and in season. It makes it very budget friendly for what is a very frugal time of the year.
Cover the leftover food and chill the food when it reaches room temperature. I’ll have the second recipe for you tomorrow!
When Knorr Ireland approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in devising a simple recipe to use their stockpots I was delighted to take on the challenge because I do use stockpots and stockcubes on a regular basis. Even though I do make my own homemade stock in the slow cooker, I don’t always have stock to hand when the freezer is full of other things. It is simply a very handy option to add flavour to a meal.
Let’s talk about fibre for a minute though. I’ve become obsessed with healthy fibre in our diets. Without fibre things become a little bit backed up. One source of fibre I can always persuade the boys to eat is chickpeas. Whatever I make if there’s chickpeas in it then I know I’m onto a winner for a family meal. The boys demolish this chickpea stew anytime I make it. So does the fussy teenager because she loves the ‘curry flavour’. This is a winner on so many levels. It’s the perfect plant-based meal for a Meat Free Monday or a side dish to go with meat if you wish.
Shortly after this picture was taken the cheeky monkey lost that wiggley tooth at the front by the way.
You will notice that I’ve not put any added salt into this recipe. There is plenty of flavour from the garam masala powder and the stockpot so there’s no need for additional salt. Something I’m very happy about as I do try to be careful about the salt in our diets.
Place a large saucepan on a medium heat. Pour in the sunflower oil, onion, and pepper. Stir well for about 3 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the garam masala powder and stir once again so that the spices coat the vegetables and warm through in the heat.
Pour the chopped carrot and full tin of chickpeas (including the water) into the saucepan. Stir until the liquid begins to gently bubble.
Stir in the vegetable stockpot until it dissolves in the sauce.
Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low for 30 minutes before serving with crusty bread or a bowl of brown rice.
This is difficult for me to write so I hope you will treat me gently! When SafeFood approached me to ask would I take part in their Make A Start campaign I knew it was a chance for me to change the way our eating habits had become.
Like most busy parents, I struggle to get the food on the table, keep everybody happy, and make sure that everyone eats a full meal. The past couple of months have been extremely hectic. The kids went back to school and almost instantly my work hours increased. Then the issues with the tracker scandal started taking up a lot of my time, plus my grandmother became ill. I started to follow the path of least resistance and give the boys what they wanted. I reduced the amount of time we spent outdoors and exercising because I simply couldn’t see how it would slot into my week’s work (plus everything else going on). Read More →
Once again I found myself with a surplus of rapidly blackening bananas and a need to bake. Actually that’s not quite true. I’ve gotten into the habit of peeling bananas and then popping them into a box in the freezer as soon as they are past their best. Which is working very well in terms of the ripe bananas in the kitchen. However, the box has to be managed so that it doesn’t take over the freezer.
I need space for other items like berries. Gooseberries top and tail marvellously directly from the freezer so there is a wonderful bounty waiting for me to have the time on the right day. There’s also a couple of kilos of raspberries yet to be preserved. As you can guess, there are plenty of berry recipes to appear on the blog in the near future! Read More →
I get asked questions quite a bit about the slow cooker so I figured I’d pop my tips/answers below, with a slow cooker lamb tagine recipe at the end. As an added bonus, this recipe actually has a video to match. If this is the kind of thing you like to see please do let me know and I’ll do my best to film some more.
Maybe I should have called this post “why I flipping love my slow cooker”! Read More →
It’s National Potato Day in Ireland today and when I was asked to develop a new recipe especially for the celebration I found it hard to say no. If you ask me, everyday is a potato day! There’s a reason why I don’t grow potatoes at the allotment. I certainly could if I wanted to, it’s just that we have so many fantastic local potato producers close to home that I prefer to support them instead. In fact, the local potato growers are so supportive of what we do at the allotments, there is a particular farmer who supplies us with potatoes for the pigs! Every couple of weeks a meitheal of syndicate members gets together and we shift a tonne of potatoes from a trailer into storage boxes for the pigs. They’re then boiled daily for the pigs’ main meal. Read More →
Okay, okay, it’s not a pilaf in the classic sense of the term. This rice dish isn’t baked in the oven, but it is cooked in the amount of time it takes to simmer some rice, and cook off the vegetables. The carrot and courgette pilaf is a great way to use up a glut of vegetables, then sneak them into your family’s diet with mild curry spices. Each one of the three kids would sit down to a massive comforting bowl of this pilaf with a poached egg on top. I love cooking this kind of food that’s easy on the stomach, wallet, and senses.
The carrot and courgette pilaf came about because, go figure, I had a glut of carrots and courgettes. Read More →
During the school year I try to get the kids to have their dinner by 5.30pm at the latest. It stops too much snacking when they get home from school and it means that they get hot food on cold days (not that we’ve had many of those recently). All three of the kids have conspired against me these past few weeks and each finished at a different time. That will change very soon thank goodness! These flatbreads are the perfect meal to prepare in advance. I can mix up the dough in the morning, cover and forget about it. I can also make the filling well before I need to serve it up.
The kids would happily set up camp beside me in the kitchen and eat the bits that I make as they come straight out of the cooker/pan. Yesterday I baked a loaf of bread, and once sliced, they each made sandwiches out of it. When a dear friend arrived and I gave the end of the loaf to her to try as I value her opinion, they all gave out yards that I give away their food. Honestly, they don’t know how flipping lucky they are!
All I can say is ‘roll on next week’ when I can have unlimited opportunities to sort socks in peace* Read More →
Make double quantities of this lamb hot pot meal if you can. It freezes so well and the kids love it. If you have a slow cooker then make the most of the appliance and leave it simmering away until late in the day before serving. Serve with mash, rice or pasta but best of all, stir in some couscous before serving for a 1-pot-wonder. Read More →