Category Archives: Dinner

Recipe: Quick Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

Warming, hearty and with mountains of flavour, this basic recipe for a quick and easy noodle soup is a must if you’re in a rush.

Strictly speaking, if I had a good amount of time on my hands I would definitely make the beef stock from scratch using beef bones but I’ve no problem using stock cubes.

(Serves 2 – 4, depending on how big your bowls are!)


  • 250g sirloin beef, cut into strips
  • 3 spring onions, chopped including green stem
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 150g egg noodles
  • 950mls beef stock
  • 120g tenderstem broccoli
  • 4 baby corn cobs
  • 1 small leek, shredded
  • Optional: chili powder


Place your stripped beef into a bowl along with the chopped spring onions, garlic, soy and sesame and turn the meat in the mix to coat. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (I usually pop it in for an hour if I’ve the time).

Pop your egg noodles and a pinch of salt into a saucepan of boiling water until cooked. Drain, then set aside.

Place your beef stock in a pan and bring to a boil. Add the marinade and the beef into the pot of stock, along with the broccoli, baby corn and shredded leek.

Drop down to a simmer and leave to cook for about 8 minutes until the vegetables are tender (keep an eye on your beef to make sure it doesn’t overcook!). You can add the chili powder at this point for heat.

Finally, add in your noodles to the broth to reheat and serve.


Note: You can of course vary the vegetables with this recipe – I love throwing in green beans when they’re in season.

(Lead image via Mo Riza on Flickr)

Recipe: Fragrant Buttered Chicken Masala

When I hear the word “spicy”, I instantly know that it’s something I’m going to avoid, but when it comes to using more fragrant and flavoursome spices, it’s a big thumbs up from me.

This buttery chicken masala is one of those recipes where I get to throw in a dash of this and sprinkling of that, and it never seems to go wrong (famous last words!).

It’s a quick meal to rustle up and when you rattle off what went into it, instead of tossing in a pre-made packet, I’m sure guests will be impressed.

I know the long list of ingredients might look a bit terrifying but believe me when I say this recipe is remarkably straightforward.

Serves 4 (or more depending on the size of your chicken breasts)


  • 50g butter
  • 2 medium white onions (chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tsp of grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp of curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (deseeded and diced)
  • 250mls milk
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts (cut into bitesize chunks)
  • 4 tbsp of natural plain yoghurt
  • Fresh coriander leaves

Optional: 1 tsp or more of chili powder if you’re in the mood for something more spicy!


Prepare your ingredients. Heat and melt the butter in a large pan, and then add in your onions to cook until golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes on a medium-to-high heat.

When the onions have coloured, add in the garlic, ginger, ground coriander, curry powder, turmeric and a teaspoon of salt (with the optional chili powder). Sauté the spices in with the onion or a minute until the aroma becomes fragrant.

Add your tomato purée into the mixture along with the diced tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened.

Now to add in your milk! To make sure it doesn’t curdle, I always scoop some of the hot mixture in with the milk and stir it around to heat it slightly. Then I pour it into the pan along with the chicken breast pieces.

Cook your chicken on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft but cooked through. While the chicken is cooking, you can put on your rice so that it’ll be ready on time.

Don’t worry, you’re almost done – it’s finally time to stir in the yoghurt! Make sure it’s well incorporated into the chicken masala and then quickly chop up a handful of coriander and stir through.

Serve on hot plates on top of your rice with another sprinkling of coriander on top and ENJOY!

Recipe: crusty and cheesy, broccoli, pasta and bacon bake

Whenever I’m on the hunt for a quick bite to eat, I look for a meal that can be easily prepared and served up onto the plate under an hour.

Presenting: the broccoli pasta and bacon bake that’s a whizz to put together and tastes pretty good too!

It’s definitely one of those dishes that you can keep on adapting again and again by changing up the bread toppings and cheeses, to different styles of pasta.

Take out the bacon and switch to a vegetable stock cube if you want to make it vegetarian – or instead of broccoli you could use cauliflower or a mix of both. You can be as creative or as simple as you like. Recipe is adapted from BBC GoodFood.

Serves 4


  • 400g dried pasta
  • 150g bacon lardons
  • 1 red onion
  • Head of broccoli (stalks chopped off  into chunksand florets set aside)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 200g pot Irish crème fraîche
  • 125g grated red cheddar
  • Handful of Irish parsley
  • Breadcrumbs (a slice put processed)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rapeseed oil


Note: You need a big pot for this and you will also be using a frying pan and grill.

  1. Prepare your pasta, onion and broccoli stalks by popping them into a large pan and covering in salted boiling water. Cook according to packet and until pasta is soft.
  2. While that’s on the go, in a small frying pan with a tiny bit of oil, cook your bacon lardons on a high heat until crispy.
  3. When the pasta is close to being ready, add in the broccoli florets and keep cooking for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta and vegetables and set aside but remember to reserve about 450mls of the cooking water.
  5. Mix the bacon in with your drained pasta and vegetables.
  6. Add the reserved water back into the pot and stir in your stock cube until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Add in the mustard and crème fraîche and then whisk into the liquid.
  8. Bring it to the boil and then add in your pasta, vegetables and bacon. At this point you also add in half of the cheese mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat up your grill.
  9.  Chop up your parsley and it in – the sauce surrounding the pasta and other ingredients should be like white sauce and thick.
  10. Pour your mix into an ovenproof dish. Mix the the breadcrumbs with the dried thyme and oregano and sprinkle on top of the dish with the remaining cheese on top.
  11. It’s grill time! Pop the dish underneath and give the bake less than 5 minutes under heat. You’re waiting for the top to brown but not burn. The bread should be nice and toasty too with a bit of colour.


(Image and recipe copyright of Úna-Minh Kavanagh)

Recipe: Gnocchi, bacon and tomato bake

Gnocchi is such a wonderful little alternative to the traditional spud and combining it with a bit of butter and garlic can be a simple treat.

Over the past while I’ve been experimenting with gnocchi recipes and have come up with a bake that doesn’t take a a lot of time and uses ingredients you can find in all supermarkets.

I haven’t gotten around to making my own homemade gnocchi as of yet but I’ve heard that it’s easy enough to do so I’m looking forward to learning.

Here’s my recipe for a gnocchi bake – with the option of making it vegetarian by not adding the bacon lardons!

Serves 4

Time: About 30 minutes


  • 500g gnocchi (store bought is fine!)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion (chopped finely)
  • 1 red pepper (deseeded and chopped up finely)
  • 150g of mozzarella
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed)
  • Oil for frying
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • 100g bacon lardons
  • Salt and white pepper


  1. Heat your oil in a large frying pan on high, and tip in your onion, bacon lardons, red pepper and cook until soft (5 minutes)
  2. Add in your garlic and fry for a further minute then add in the chopped tomatoes and gnocchi.
  3. Bring to simmer and let the mix bubble away for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on it because your don’t want your gnocchi to be overly soft but you want your sauce to thicken (I sometimes add some extra tomato purée for good measure)
  4. In the meantime, turn on your grill to high and take out an oven proof dish.
  5. After the gnocchi is cooked, season, stir through the basil and then transfer to the ovenproof dish.


6. Chop up your mozzarella into strips and lay across the top of the dish.  Grill for 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and has a golden look to it.


Serve with a fresh salad or on its own.


(Images and recipe copyright of Úna-Minh Kavanagh)

Recipe: Homemade Vietnamese spring rolls

There are many types of spring rolls in Vietnam, but the ones I’ve always adored are “Nem Ran”, which are the most popular rolls in the north.

Though they can take some time to put together, the end result is a really crispy roll that’s jam-packed full of goodies.

If you’re not sure where to head to buy supplies, you can find the ingredients in most Asian food stores – I know that recently Tesco have been stocking wood ear mushrooms and they have white crab meat too.

Here’s my recipe for homemade spring rolls and their traditional dipping sauce Nuoc Cham – good luck!

Makes about 14/15 depending on the size of your rice papers (I tend to use medium/small wrappers)

Spring roll ingredients:

  • 200g white crab meat
  • 250g pork mince
  • 2 fresh spring onions
  • 150g vermicelli noodles (soaked until soft in hot water)
  • Handful wood ear mushrooms (soaked for 15 minutes until re-hydrated)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • A packet of circular rice papers
  • Oil (for frying)
  • Salt
  • White pepper


Dipping sauce ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 ½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Optional: chilies


  1. Combine the pork, crab meat, wood ear mushrooms and spring onions in a bowl.
  2. Drain your noodles well and then chop them finely.
  3. Add your noodles into the bowl with the meat mix and season with fish sauce, salt, white pepper and stir.


  1. For the next part I usually use 2 large plates, (one with the lukewarm water and one for placing the finished rolls on) and a chopping board, with paper towel on the side to soak up excess water.
  2. Soften your rice papers in the water for about 30 seconds and place on the chopping board (if you leave them in any longer they tend to tear apart and it’s hard to seal them).
  3. Place a small spoonful of the mixture in the middle of the wrapper and wrap the rounded edge on the bottom, up over the mix.
  4. Then fold the both sides inwards over the mix edges and roll up into a cylinder. Place the roll onto a plate and continue stacking them on top of each other.


  1. In a large frying pan heat enough oil so that it’s about 1cm in height on a medium heat (wait until it starts to sizzle).
  2. Fry the spring rolls for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, but place them apart so they don’t stick (be careful with the oil, I usually place a splash gauze over the pan).
  3. Drain the rolls on a paper towel and serve with dipping sauce.


Dipping sauce method:

  1. Place the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and water in a small dish and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add garlic and lime juice, and stir to combine (add chilies if you so wish).
  3. Enjoy with your crispy rolls!

(Images and recipes copyright of Úna-Minh Kavanagh)

Recipe: Simple but tasty fried chicken

I had an excess of buttermilk left over from when I was making cakes so had to come up with a way not the waste the rest!

This recipe for fried chicken legs is basically a consolation of not having perfect barbecue weather all the time. It’s really easy to put together and the end result is crispy chicken with a simple but tasty layer of herbs and spices surrounding it.

Note: You need to soak the chicken for at least 10 hours before cooking. I don’t own a deep fat fryer so I heated up the oil in a pan but you can use a fryer if you wish.

Serves 5 – you can really make as many as you want – I’m just presuming that you’d love at least 3 legs per person.

Time: 1 hour (this is just cook and prep time for on the day.


  • 10 Irish chicken drumsticks (source from your local butchers)
  • 500ml Irish buttermilk (enough to cover the chicken pieces)
  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g cornflour

Herbs and spices:

  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground dried sage
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp onion salt
  • 4 tsp table salt
  • Vegetable or rapeseed oil, for shallow frying in a pan


  1. Place all of your the chicken pieces in a large container and cover the legs with the buttermilk and refrigerate for about 12 hours (I put mine in the milk in the early morning and they were ready for the evening).
  2. Prepare the mix for coating the chicken:  put your flours in a bowl and then add in the dried spices and herbs.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium-low heat and add your oil – you basically want to make sure that your chicken will be covered in the oil.
  4. Take out your container with the chicken, and with each leg shake off as much of the buttermilk as you can.
  5. Cover the pieces in the dry mix until coated and then set aside on a plate.
  6. Fry 2-3 pieces of chicken at a time but make sure not to crowd the pan. Sizzle the chicken until they’re cooked through and golden brown this can take about 15 minutes (I had two pans on the go at one stage).
  7. Serve with salads or whatever tickles your fancy!

(Image and recipe copyright of Una Minh Kavanagh)

Recipe: glazed loin of bacon with pea and potato mash

Looking to feed a family or just want to try out a new recipe? Easy peasy with this rather simple meal that caters for about five people.

This recipe for a glazed loin of bacon and pea and potato mash only takes about an hour to put together and once you follow the steps it’s pretty straightforward (I’m a big fan of the mash!)

Serves 5

Time: 1 hour


  • 750g loin of bacon
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. mustard
  • 2 tbp. honey
  • 650g new potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 150g frozen peas
  • Handful of mint, chopped (I used Vietnamese mint but normal mint will do)
  • 50g butter
  • 100ml milk
  • Salt and white pepper


  1.  In a big pot place your bacon and fill with cold water.
  2. Cover the pot and bring to the boil – reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes (about 20 minutes per 450g).
  3. While your bacon is cooking, preheat the oven to Gas mark 4, 180°C (350°F)
  4. Transfer the bacon to a roasting tin and score the bacon fat in a diamond shape.
  5. Time for the glaze! Mix together the sugar, mustard, honey and oil in a small bowl and then spread it over the fat evenly.
  6. Roast the meat for 20 minutes until the top is nicely glazed.
  7. Get ready to multi-task, as soon as the oven is in the oven it’s time to get the pea/potato mash ready.
  8. Steam your potatoes for about 20 minutes or until cooked.
  9. Cook your frozen peas in a separate pot for about 4 minutes.
  10. Drain the peas and return to your pan, season and then add in your butter, mint and milk.
  11. Blitz until smooth and puréed.
  12. Now for your potatoes, mash them until smooth (or use a blender) and then fold in your pea purée.
  13. By now your bacon should be nice and ready. Carve the loin into slices and serve on warmed plates along with the pea mash.

(Image and recipe copyright of Una Minh Kavanagh)