Recipe – Braised Lamb with Red Wine, Tomatoes, Olives and Aromatic Spices

This is a robust, hearty dish that’s full of Mediterranean flavor. It goes really well served with pasta and because it’s basically a stew,  serving it on top of a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes would also be good.

The lamb is cooked until it’s falling apart and the addition of cinnamon, allspice and cloves make it really interesting.

I’ve adapted a recipe that I found combining Greek and Venetian cuisine, harking back to the days of the Venetian occupation of Corfu. I think the addition of Greek kalamata olives makes it even more Greek-ish. You can also make it with beef but lamb seems more springlike.

Braised Lamb with Tomatoes, Red Wine, Olives & Aromatic Spices

Braised Lamb with Tomatoes, Red Wine, Olives & Aromatic Spices


(Serves 6)


2 tablespoons of olive oil

1lb 6oz (600g) of lamb fillet, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) chunks

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots cut into 3/4 inch (2cm) slices

4 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

2 sticks of cinnamon

2 cloves

A pinch of ground allspice

1 bay leaf

9fl oz (250ml) of good red wine

Half a cup (120ml measure) of pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and drained

2 x 14 oz (400ml) cans of tomatoes, chopped or whole

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper

1lb (450g) of short tube pasta

Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Heat half of the oil in a heavy pan. Season the lamb with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and brown in the hot oil in small batches – set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and gently sweat the onion until soft, about 8 minutes. add the carrot, garlic, spices and bay leaf. Cook for a couple more minutes then add the lamb along with any of the meat juices, followed by the tomatoes (and their juice) and red wine.

Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for 2 hours then remove the lid and cook for another hour, until the lamb is falling apart and you have a thick sauce.

Check the seasoning, remove the whole spices, put the lid back on and allow it to rest while you cook the pasta according to instructions.

Serve the lamb on top of the  cooked pasta in warmed bowls and offer some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano to pass around.






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Recipe – Very Easy Mango Chutney

I love mango chutney and there’s a vast quantity of recipes out there. I like the idea of a chutney that is not only fast and fabulous but one where the sweet mango flavor really stands out and isn’t swamped by too many aromatic spices.

So here it is; I’ve adapted this from a family member’s already-adapted recipe. Simple as it is, you do need to start the night before.

Very Easy Mango Chutney

Very Easy Mango Chutney


(Makes about 3 medium-sized jars)


4 large ripe but not too ripe mangoes, peeled and cut into smallish slices or chunks

A teaspoon of salt

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and diced fairly small

1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

1/2 a teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 cup (236ml) of white vinegar

1 and 1/2 cups (355ml measure) of sugar (white sugar preserves the color and flavor best)


Toss the mango pieces in salt, cover and chill overnight then rinse and drain.

In a large heavy pan, combine all the remaining ingredients and bring slowly to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

Add the mango, bring to a rapid boil and continue to cook, stirring a few times until the liquid is reduced and syrupy – about 30 minutes.

Cool and store in sterilized glass jars. Keep in the fridge and consume within a couple of weeks after opening.

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Recipe – Spiced Corned Beef & Cabbage

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, although for the life of me I don’t see why this isn’t eaten year-round, because it’s absolutely delicious and would warm the heart of any ‘meat and potatoes’-type of person.

If you have a slow cooker, you can stick the brisket in there overnight and forget about it, otherwise it requires about 4 hours on the stove top.

Those vacuum packed briskets with little spice packets are ubiquitous right now and to keep things simple, I’m suggesting using one of those and tweaking it to a much higher level.

This recipe is very simple and very, very good.

Spiced Corned Beef & Cabbage


(Serves up to 8)


A 4.5lb (2 kilo) piece of brisket (with spice packet), rinsed thoroughly

1 large orange

20 whole cloves

4 teaspoons of caraway seeds

3lbs (1.4 kilos) of smallish Yukon gold potatoes, peeled

2.5lbs (1.15kilos) of big carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal at about 2 inches (5cm) in length

A large green cabbage, halved and each half sliced into 8 wedges

To serve – fresh flat-leaf parsley and an assortment of mustard


Stud the orange with the cloves and put it, the brisket, the contents of the spice packet and 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds in a large heavy pot (or slow cooker). Cover with water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the beef cook for 3 and half to 4 hours, or until it’s really tender.

(If you’re using a slow cooker, put it on high for a couple of hours then turn it to low and let it simmer overnight).

Once the meat is tender, drain it and keep 3 cups of the fragrant cooking liquid to serve. Cover the meat with foil to keep it warm.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the potatoes, carrots and remaining caraway seeds. Cook for 18-25 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes until they’re not quite cooked, then add the cabbage wedges and cook for another 8 minutes or so until the cabbage is just tender and the potatoes and carrots are cooked through.

Drain the vegetables and arrange everything on warmed plates (warm the cooking liquid if necessary). Scatter with parsley and serve the mustard and cooking liquid on the side to pour over.

‘Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!’



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Recipe – White Bean & Chestnut Soup with Prosciutto

This is a lovely comforting soup for a blustery day. I’m all for the shortcut of opening a can of beans but if you’re a purist and insist on soaking dried beans overnight, then go ahead but this soup takes less than 30 minutes to make.

You can find cooked chestnuts and chestnut purée in good supermarkets and they freeze well.

White Bean Soup with Chestnuts & Prosciutto

White Bean Soup with Chestnuts & Prosciutto



 1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

3oz (80g) of prosciutto, chopped and divided

1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes

A 15oz (400g) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

6 oz (150g) of unsweetened chestnut puree or cooked peeled chestnuts

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary, divided

2.5-3 pints (1.5-1.75 liters) of chicken broth


Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onion, garlic and half of the prosciutto until the onion is soft. Add the potato, drained beans, whole or pureed chestnuts, half of the rosemary (save the rest for decoration) and the stock. I recommend holding some back to adjust the thickness of the soup at the end and if you need more liquid, add water.

Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer for 18-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, fry the remaining prosciutto until it’s nice and crispy – set aside.

Once the soup has cooled a bit, pulse it in a blender, or use one of those hand held devices to purée it in the pan. Check the seasoning and add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. You can make it ahead to this point.

To serve, re-heat the soup over a low heat then ladle into warmed bowls, scatter with some crispy prosciutto and a few minced rosemary leaves.

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Soups | 1 Comment

Recipe – Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Tart Cherries

These tender little melt-in-the-mouth cookies are ridiculously simple to make in a food processor.

The dried tart cherries are optional. You could use dried cranberries or leave them out altogether. I happen to love the contrast between a rich, chocolatey, buttery cookie and little pieces of mouthwateringly tart dried cherry…not too much, just enough to tweak your taste buds.

You can also substitute the ground almonds for flour, making this a little more economical. Don’t worry, they’ll still be perfect.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Tart Cherries

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Tart Cherries


(Makes 20-30 cookies)


4.5oz (138g) of all-purpose flour

4.5 oz (138g) of ground almonds

1 oz (25g) of best quality cocoa powder

A pinch of salt

8 oz (250g) of unsalted butter cut into small pieces, at room temp

5oz (150g) of powdered sugar – plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup of tart dried cherries or cranberries, chopped (optional)


Put all the dry ingredients in  the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter and vanilla. Pulse until you have a stiff dough.

Scrape the dough onto a board lined with cling film and with another piece of cling film on top, roll the dough into a couple of cylinder shapes approx 12 inches (30cm)  long and 2 inches (5cm) in diameter.

Wrap these in cling film and put in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes or until they’re quite firm but not too firm to cut.

Preheat the oven to 325F (160C).

Grease a couple of cookie sheets and once the dough is firm, cut into rounds about 1/2 inch (1.5cm) thick. Arrange on the cookie sheets at least 2 inches (5cm) apart as they’ll spread.

Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Store them in an airtight container and they’ll last a week but it’s unlikely,  because you’ll have devoured them all.

Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts | 2 Comments

Recipe – Baked Celery with Stilton & Walnuts

When it comes to cooked vegetables, celery is generally overlooked which is a shame because it has a wonderful robust flavor that goes brilliantly with roast meat or fowl  – and the addition of walnuts and Stilton cheese takes it right off the charts.

Your kitchen will be filled with the most delicious aroma and my sensitive nose decided that it would be a perfect accompaniment to a traditional Sunday lunch of roast beef.

Of course it can go with anything you want and it stands alone very well as a vegetarian dish.

Adapted from a Delia Smith recipe.

Baked Celery with Stilton, Walnuts & Creme Fraiche

Baked Celery with Stilton & Walnuts


(Severs 4 -6 as a side dish)


8oz (225g) of celery stalks, washed, trimmed, stripped of all stringy bits and cut into thirds

2oz (56g) of good English Stilton, crumbled

2-3 heaped tablespoons of crème fraîche

2 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs

3/4 tablespoon of butter

1/4 cup (59ml measure) of chopped walnuts

Celery salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 395F (200C).

Start by steaming the celery for 8-10 minutes until it’s tender – drain and cool a bit.

Butter an 8-inch (20cm) gratin or baking dish, arrange the celery snugly in the dish and season with a little celery salt and freshly ground black pepper. Distribute the crumbled Stilton evenly over the celery then smear the crème fraîche as best you can over all of that.

Melt the butter and combine with the breadcrumbs, chopped walnuts and another grind of black pepper and celery salt to taste. Scatter over the top and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden in patches and the celery is complete tender.

Serve right away.



Posted in Vegetables / Vegetarian | 4 Comments

Recipe – Chicken Roasted in Milk with Aromatics

This is one of those weird and wonderful recipes that really works. Originating from Jamie Oliver, it yields a deliciously moist and fragrant chicken.

The fact that it’s ridiculously easy to make, is also a huge plus.

The lemon zest will curdle the milk but but that’s exactly what you want here as the curds make a wonderful sauce. Serve it over mashed potatoes with your favorite green vegetables on the side and with plenty of sauce spooned over. The whole garlic cloves will slip right out of their skins…a delicious mouthful!

You’ll need a deep ovenproof pan that will take the chicken quite snugly but leaving enough space so that you can baste the chicken while it’s roasting.

Chicken roasted with milk and aromatics


(Serves 4-6)


A chicken weighing 3.5lb (1.5k)

A couple of tablespoons of hi-temp oil such as avocado oil

A small stick of cinnamon

About 10 fresh sage leaves

The finely shredded zest of 2 lemons

10 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

20 fl oz (565ml) of milk

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 375F (190C).

chicken-roasted-with-milk-and-aromatics-004Season the bird all over with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan and lightly brown the chicken all over, then remove it to a plate and discard the oil but leave any brown sticky bits in the bottom of the pan.

Put the chicken back in the pan along with everything else and roast for one and a half hours, basting at 30 minute intervals.

Alternatively, cook with a lid on for the first hour – this will yield more sauce but you’ll have less of a roasted-looking chicken.

Once cooked, pull all the meat off the bones and arrange the chicken on a warmed serving plate with the sauce and garlic cloves poured over. Serve immediately with your favorite veg.

Posted in Poultry | 1 Comment