Spicy Chickpea Casserole

So I’m back to work. Two days. And it’s going fine. So far. The routine I planned out seems to be working, the kids are cooperating and the energy levels are high enough to keep it up. So far. Two days.

One of the major challenges of being back to work is finding time to cook some decent food for ourselves. Providing for the two girls alone sometimes feels like a full time catering job. This morning we started with freshly squeezed orange juice. I blended a fresh melon and pear with porridge for Ava. Mia had cornflakes. After that I had to express milk and get Ava’s bottles ready. Mia is a big girl now and she eats what they serve in the creche, but for Ava I prefer to bring in homemade food. I made brown rice with sweet potato, tomato, carrots and lentils. At lunchtime I drive back home to express milk again (working on getting a room in the office, but we’ll have to wait and see how that is going to work out). Coming home at half five and depending on what Mia had for dinner and snack improvise something for her. Mostly yoghurt with some fruit and slice of toast. Another dinner for Ava too. White rice with peppers, broccoli and sweet potato this evening. And a milk feed.

I really love cooking for the girls and trying different things, even though I must admit that the toddler is getting a bit fussier and probably prefers the not so healthy creche food over the food we try to give her at home. But it does mean sometimes that by the time I have a chance to think about making dinner for myself and Denis I’m too tired or without inspiration. So I started a weekly meal planner. And I’m trying to put as many one pot dishes on it as possible. I’m constantly looking for new recipes that are easy to throw together (all ingredients in one pot) and that can stew or cook away while we’re doing baths and bedtime with the girls. And although I was never a fan of what I would have considered “hippy food” i.e. brown rice, beans, lentils and chickpeas, I have lately rediscovered them and love trying out new ways to prepare them. Found a lovely recipe for spicy chickpea casserole the other day, served it with brown rice and chicken and it was very tasty. I’ll definitely be making it again.

Ingredients for six people

1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 aubergine, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 chicken fillets, cut in bite size pieces
1 can of peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
200 gr of green beans
600ml vegetable stock
Fresh coriander (but I used basil as that was all I had left)

Start by dry-frying the cumin and coriander seeds in a frying pan. Add the oregano, remove from the heat and crush in a pestle and mortar. Heat olive oil in a large casserole pan. Cook the onions, red pepper and aubergine for 10 minutes or until softened. Add the crushed spice mixture, together with the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

In a separate pan, fry the chicken pieces in olive oil (I seasoned the chicken first with pepper, salt and paprika powder) until brown and tender.

Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, green beans and stock to the casserole pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Add the chicken pieces just before serving. Garnish with the chopped coriander (or basil). Serve with rice or brown bread.


Broad Beans with bacon

This blog started out as a foodie inspired blog back in September. I intended to put together a collection of easy dairy free recipes. But as time has flown by over the last few months I realize that I have uploaded barely any recipes lately. I have done plenty of cooking though. Nearly every day, I’d like to add proudly. Even with two small children. But I just don’t seem to get around posting the recipes.

I made broad beans yesterday. Was a first for me. Took a few pictures, so here goes.


Broad beans (I bought just under a kilo of broad beans at the Mahon farmers market, still in their pods)
Half a red onion, finely chopped
Garlic, crushed
200gr of smoked bacon (I used Gubbeen)
200ml of vegetable stock

Start with removing the broad beans from their pods. Discard the pods and put the beans in salted boiling water for up to 5 minutes. Drain and let cool down. Once cooled down, remove the outer skin of the beans.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the chopped onions and crushed garlic. Add the bacon. Once the bacon is nice and crispy, poor the mixture in a large bowl on a bit of kitchen foil to drain excess fat. Poor half of the vegetable stock in the pan and give a good stir. Add the broad beans and bring down the temperature to simmer. Add the bacon and bean mixture and the rest of the vegetable stock and leave simmer for another fifteen minutes or until the beans are soft.

Can be served with pasta (that is how Mia, our pastafarian had hers) or as a side salad. We had ours on a slice of brown bread, to go with a courgette and red lentil soup.

Green Saffron Monkfish Curry

Thursday is Market Day. Mahon Point Market Day aka Yummy Mummy Market Day. If there is one place in Cork where you need to be, to show off your little one, including his/her fancy pram and gadgets it’s the Farmers Market in Mahon Point.

And Market Day means Fish Day. That’s just the way it has always been in my family. When I was very young, Tuesday was (much dreaded) fish day and when we later moved to a neighboring town, Wednesdays were the days we would be picking fish bones out of our dinner.

In Cork, Thursdays are fish day. I have changed my opinion about fish and look forward to fish days now. I suppose it’s part of growing up. I have what they call “acquired” a taste for fish. Just as I have acquired a taste for mushrooms. And coffee. And wine….or any alcohol comes to think of it.

So I do love eating fish. But I tend to run out of inspiration sometimes. Very often it’s just place or haddock or cod fried in a little flour in the pan, accompanied by potatoes, cherry tomatoes and broccoli. Tasty and definitely healthy. But a little boring too. So last Thursday I decided to try something new. A fish curry.

At home we’re not really used to making curry’s. But there is a lovely stall from Green Saffron at the Mahon Market that does great spices. When you buy a packet of spices, you get a recipe with it for free. So I asked them for a suggestion for fish curry and ended up buying the Vadagam Spice Mix. It’s a very mild curry mix (didn’t want to take the risk of Ava’s tummy getting upset by using hot spices), but very tasty. The original recipe can be found here, but for ease I have summarized below. The recipe contains coconut milk. It’s the first time I used it in cooking. Himself can’t have any dairy, so being able to use coconut milk instead was bit of an eye opener. We both loved the dish and I’m definitely planning on trying out a few more of the Green Saffron recipes.











Ingredients for four people

2 onions, peeled, chopped
3 tblsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fat inches ginger,
1 packet of GREEN SAFFRON Vadagam Spice Blend
1 tin coconut milk
1 tin chopped tomatoes
Half a kilo of monkfish (or as I asked the fishmonger, monkfish for a tenner), cut into bite-sized pieces
Coriander, fresh, roughly chopped
Juice and zest of ½ lime
Salt, a little to taste (optional)
Sweat the onions in vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pan until soft.
Turn the heat up to medium, add the garlic and ginger. Stir for a couple of minutes.
Next, add your whole pack of GREEN SAFFRON Vadagam Spice Blend and stir for another minute.

Turn up the heat a little, add the tomatoes and coconut milk, stir and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.

 Add the  monkfish and cook on a gentle heat until everything’s cooked, approx 15 to 20 minutes.
Take off the heat, grate the lime zest into the pan, squeeze in the lime juice, sprinkle with the fresh coriander. Serve with Basmati Rice.

Meatballs with tomato-pea sauce.


Found this recipe on the internet. Meatballs from Maria Elia out of her book Full of Flavour. First time I made meatballs, because I always assumed you needed eggs in the meat mixture. But this recipe is without eggs or any dairy and works brilliantly. The choice of spices is a bit unusual but works very well. Oh, never thought off taking a picture until I was halfway through my plate. Picture doesn’t look very appetizing but it’s honestly a really taste dish. Maria Elia suggests to serve it with mashed potatoes, but we went with spaghetti instead.

Ingredients for the meatballs

500gr lamb mince
2 garlic cloves, crushed
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
flour, for dusting
4 tbsp olive oil

To make the meatballs, simply mix the ingredients except the flour and oil together and form into balls. Dust the balls in flour. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cook until the meatballs are medium-rare in the centre (about 3 minutes, depending on the size).

Ingredients for the pea and tomato sauce

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 can plum tomatoes, crushed
pinch of sugar
1 chicken stock cube
100 gr frozen peas
1 tbsp dried dill
sea salt

For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the tomato puree and cinnamon and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar and crumble in the stock cube. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and dill along with 200ml water and cook for 15 minutes over al low heat. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes, adding a little boiling water if the sauce is a little thick. Season with sea salt and serve with spaghetti.

Fish Stew

Jamie Oliver’s tomato based Fish Stew. I just added a few carrots and a sweet potato as it happened to lie on the countertop and needed to be used up. And I used only 3 cloves of garlic instead of 5. Thought that was sufficient.

Ingredients for four people

2 onions, chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped
3 beef tomatoes, chopped
500gr potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-4cm chunks
3 fresh bay leaves
1 litre of vegetable stock
salt and pepper for seasoning
olive oil
700gr fresh fish (I used a seafood mix cut up in a big chunks by fish monger)
juice of 1 lemon
flat parsley
fresh dill

Put celery and onions in big pan/casserole dish in olive oil on medium heat. Cook for five minutes, before adding the garlic. Cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, potatoes and bay leaves and pour in the stock. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add the fish, bring back to the boil and let simmer for another 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and fish flakes apart. Stir in the lemon juice and herbs, season and serve with chunks of rustic bread.

Freezer-project – part 2

Jamie’s Chili con carne and a good old fashioned ratatouille. All in all about an hour and half of intense cooking. Result. About five more containers to fill for the freezer.

Followed Jamie’s recipe nearly to the letter. Only used lamb mince instead of beef. And instead of adding straight to the sauce, I fried it in a separate pan until brown. This way you can poor off a bit of the excess fat. Makes the dish just a little less heavy.

The ratatouille is a mix of white and red onions, peppers, courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms and both fresh and tinned tomatoes. Put in an ovenproof dish for about 45 minutes. Will be great with chicken fillets, lamb chops, with pasta or even with a piece of fish.