Saint Patrick’s Day

Patrick`s Day Window

Lá Fhéile Pádraigh Dhaoibh go léir! Happy St Patrick`s Day to you all!

And I celebrated…
…with a run, of course!

St. Patrick’s Day means a day off work for many of us here in Ireland. It may be true that some people still spend that day in the pub. Others are certainly out and about at parades. Then there’s the traditional sort who spent Patrick’s Day just as we did growing up: Mass in the morning, shamrock pinned to our good coats, dinner at 1 pm and a gaelic match of some description in the afternoon.

Of course, being the contrary sort, I did none of these things today. Instead I decided the time had come to take on Killer Hill.

Killer Hill is 5km of winding, rising, undulating hell. I haven’t run it this year at all. I depend on decent daylight for that and, even though the weekend would surely afford me that, I prefer to spend those runs on grass. So, it was time to woman up and take it on.

I took the camera along too. Just so I might snap a little shamrock for you all. But Mother Nature was not so benevolent in her shamrock dispersals this side of the country. In fact, I only encountered two bunches. And both of them were being worn my an elderly couple.

Mind you, they made an interesting sight. They harked back to another era. She, with her neatly pressed dark red wool jacket, skirt and tan tights while he was in a lightly pin stripped suit: their Sunday best. They could’ve come straight out of the Ireland of the Seventies.

There were lots of people about too, of course, and plenty of traffic too. The weather seemed to suit everyone, with little wind, some sunshine and temperatures hovering happily around the 12 degree mark.

And it all helped to take the pain out of my uphill struggle.

Downhill was a breeze of course. Luckily I realised that I’ve rather a bad habit of switching the brakes on when heading downwards. This time I just gave into the hill and enjoyed the sensation of actual running as opposed to my normal shuffly jog mode.

Oh, and I’ve been running this past week. Don’t mistake my Dalkey blogpost or my beetle-like meanderings as a sign of me slacking off. I am happily out of the illness and injury mode and I’ve run four times in the past week.

But I am definitely running inside my comfort zone a lot of the time. No change of pace, no intervals, no hills just comfortable four mile jogs. And that’s something that will have to change.

Anyway, 6.3 miles done today and Killer Hill conquered. Hopefully, this marks an improvement in my training habits.

St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally a time for sowing the spuds, or giving the lawn its first cut after the winter months. Maybe it will prove the time for me to implement improved training patterns.

Back at the Chook House, the Teens had no interest in attending the local parades. So we celebrated with food instead. No, not bacon and cabbage or corned beef.

But Spiced Root Vegetables with Lime and Mint. It’s from the wonderful Domini Kemp,you’ll find the recipe here and it’s both easy and delicious.

Spiced Root Vegetables with Lime and Mint

Spiced Root Vegetables with Lime and Mint

And can’t you see the Irish flag lurking in there? We had it with boiled potatoes, of course, and steak (yes, Irish beef steak)

Happy St Pats

And for dessert, we bagged this perfect little St. Patrick’s Day cake from our local bakery.

I’m off all sweet stuff for Lent, but it’s a Patrick’s Day tradition that we can break Lent for that one day.

Some traditions are worth holding on to. And sometimes, it’s worth starting new ones.

Roast Chicken Bake

Overwhelmed with all the Advent shenanigans? Dreading Christmas already? Here`s the perfect recipe for a warming, nutritious and super quick dinner to see you through this most hectic time of the year. I can`t honestly say one could make it with one`s eyes closed-though that would be a fun experiment. What I can promise you is a whole lot more time for all that Christmas shopping afterwards, if that`s your thing.

Need I say it comes from Domini Kemp? If you want to read more of her wonderful recipes check out her regular column in Saturday`s Irish Times. Or go here.

Roast Chicken Bake

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 50 mins

•1 punnet cherry tomatoes
•2 red onions, peeled and quartered
•1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and roughly chopped (1-2-inch pieces)
•8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
•4 cloves garlic, crushed
•Few springs thyme or oregano or rosemary
•1 tsp smoked paprika
•2 tbsp olive oil
•2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
•100ml white wine
•Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 180 degrees/gas 4.

Put all the ingredients in a bowl, toss them together and season well. Put into a roasting tin and bake for 45-50 minutes. Simples.

In another version of this recipe, Domini suggest using chicken breast and I have to say, I personally preferred that to chicken thigh, though, of course, I`d scoff either version.

Also, the addition in the latter recipe, of rocket, and parmesan shavings would make the whole dish look prettier, along with giving it an added nutritional boost.

Prawn and Leek Fricasée

prawn fricasee

This is one of the nicest dishes I have ever eaten. But, I`ll declare a bias: I love, love, love prawns, I adore leeks, and I`d never cooked fennel before.

Three good reasons then, to cook Domini Kemp`s Prawn and Leek Fricasée.

I also had a fourth good reason. Home after the parkrun on Saturday, I was ravenous. I hadn`t eaten breakfast, so the I was in imminent danger of chomping down the Chook House if I didn`t load up on carbs. And fast. This would prove to be the perfect recovery food

.Mind you, my miserable three mile run didn`t merit eating the whole lot. It`s meant to feed four to six people after all, but I`ll confess to going for seconds and to restraining myself from going for round three. It`s highly addictive. Oh, and the fennel adds a nice crunchy texture to it all.

Another bonus? Domini`s recipe is quick, easy and oh so interesting. She bills it as perfect for the reluctant cook. She`s right. And she packs a lot of great flavours in there. It`s definitely a top favourite of mine among all of Kemp`s recipes. And you`ve probably realised by now, that I am a bit of a Kemp nut.(When on earth are they going to give that woman a TV series?)

Anyway, here it is …

Prawn and Leek Fricasée

  • 60ml olive oil
  • 3 leeks, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 fennel bulbs, sliced
  • 1 large glass of wine
  • Good pinch saffron
  • Good pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 100ml cream
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 x 340g pack of frozen prawns
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes (approx 300g)
  • Bunch parsley, chopped


This serves four to six. You can use cooked or raw frozen prawns, just adjust the cooking time. Heat the olive oil in a decent- sized saucepan and sweat the leeks until wilted down and soft. Season well. Add the garlic and fennel. Then add the wine, saffron and chilli. Cover with a lid and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the Dijon mustard, cream, lemon zest and juice, along with the prawns and tomatoes. Gently simmer this for about 10 minutes, until it has got rather watery and then starts to reduce and thicken up.

Taste and season. When you are happy with the flavour and consistency, spoon into bowls and serve with parsley and cooked rice or mash.



Roast Cauliflower

Roast Cauliflower

The print had barely dried on Domini Kemp`s recipe in last Saturday`s Irish Times, before I`d a fine head of cauliflower in my hot little claw. She wanted me to roast it and I could barely wait to try it.

Caulis are a much neglected veg in the Chook House. There is hope for Teen girl, but alas, it will take the urgings of a better woman to convert her brothers. No problem. That meant, when I`d get to try this recipe, there`d be all the more for me. Greed is good . At least when it comes to scoffing cauliflower.

Confession: I replaced the basil with parsley, as that was all I had to hand. No whole wheat spag in the Chook House either. I made do with ordinary
Boast: I actually had a splash of wine left, after last Friday`s and Saturday`s adventures with a dubious white.

So here it is then. I give you…

Roast Cauliflower Spaghetti


  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Scrape of nutmeg or pinch of chilli flakes
  • A couple of knobs of butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Splash white wine
  • Basil leaves
  • 250-300g whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 50g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
  • Hard goat’s cheese or Pecorino to garnish (optional)

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees/gas 6. Cut the cauliflower into florets, give them a little rinse and shake off excess water (you don’t want them steaming). Put them into a roasting tin, sprinkle with half the olive oil and season with salt, pepper, nutmeg or chilli. Roast for 20-30 minutes. You want a little char and crunch. Don’t fret about turning your oven up full blast and tweaking cooking times. You can toast your hazelnuts while your oven is preheating – but keep an eye on them. They won’t take kindly to a temperature of 200 degrees, so catch the oven on the way up.
Meanwhile, heat up the butter, add the garlic and then the white wine and roughly chopped basil. Season and set aside. Cook your spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water, drain, then add the two tablespoons of olive oil and mix with a pasta spoon or tongs so the oil coats the spaghetti. Season with some salt and pepper. Put it back in the big saucepan and add the butter sauce and roasted cauliflower and toss. Spoon into bowls, and top with the hazelnuts and some grated cheese.

More Chook Notes:

I roasted the hazelnuts in a frying pan because I`ve a predilection for burning things so I could keep a better eye on them that way.And  I checked and tossed the cauliflower, as Domini suggested, just to make sure they were roasting nicely.

I really enjoyed the combination of flavours in this dish and am looking forward to seeing how it copes with reheating for lunch at work today. The garlic should keep my colleagues at bay too.

Five Chook Stars then, for this very useful recipe.