One of my Saturday pleasures is perusing through The Irish Times. No, not the online edition, the old-fashioned paper version. A pot of strong coffee, something to nibble on and the IT are my idea of heaven.

I`ll wade swiftly through the national and world news sections. On then to soak up the best of the Weekend Review section-I particularly like Michael Viney`s column there. I`ll leave the Sports section to the Teen boys and then, saving the best pleasures til last, I`ll leaf through the magazine section.

My favourite section there-and in all of the newspaper-is Domini Kemp`s food column.

I just love her recipes. They`re generally fusion of tastes, but with strong middle eastern and mediterranean influences. She often plays with vegetarian options too.

She did all of those things last week with her recipe for Falafel.

I`d eaten this dish before in a middle-eastern restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed it. But I`d no idea the main ingredient was chickpeas. Or that it was so easy to make.What`s nice about this Domini Kemp`s recipe is that she has offered gluten free flour in it so that coeliacs can enjoy this falafel too. I made mine with ordinary plain flour though,


  •  500g dried chickpeas
  • 100g flat leaf parsley
  • 100g coriander
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • Few glugs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few tbsp spelt or gluten-free flour
  • Sunflower oil


Soak the chickpeas overnight in salted water. Drain, rinse and then blend in a food processor until they resemble fine ground sawdust. Put them in a bowl and then process the herbs with the olive oil and garlic (which you need to crush first). When it resembles green sludge, mix with the chickpeas. The chickpeas should take on a nice green colour. Season well and add enough spelt flour so that when you make a ball between your fingers, it will just stay together, not as well as small meatballs will, but they should be strong enough to be shaped and then put on a plate, carefully.

Heat up the sunflower oil and cook off a batch of balls at a time, carefully turning them over when they are crisp and golden brown on one side. They don’t take too long to cook. Basically, once they are golden brown on all sides, they are done. Drain on kitchen paper, season with more salt and keep them warm in a low oven while you finish the others off. They are lovely cold, and can be re-heated, but taste best when they are eaten soon after frying.

Since the Teens refuse point blank to eat anything that`s both ball shaped and vegetarian, I ended up having this delicious treat all for myself. It`s perfect running recovery food, with all those protein-dense chickpeas. I also ate them cold, and enjoyed them. Then I froze the remainder and ate some more during the week.

I really should do a DNA test and see if I`ve any Middle Eastern leanings as I seriously love that kind of food.

At the very least though, I should have gone the whole hog and made tzatziki. After all it`s just a blend of yoghurt, mint, cucumber,garlic and seasoning. But I dunked in Gardini`s Caesar Salad Dressing instead. Tzatziki will wait till next time. And there will definitely be a next time, as this is perfect running recovery food.

Week seven of Hal Higdon`s Marathon plan done! I did pretty well this week too. Actually began to feel like a runner again on Wednesday`s seven mile run. This weekend is a tad running heavy with a seven mile run today and a gasp! fourteen mile run tomorrow.

So with  seven miles to run and a whole newspaper to read, and tzatziki to make, I`d  better get moving!




Chickpea, Feta and Herb Salad

The Chook House has cupboards full of canned chickpeas. Obviously I must`ve been on a hummus kick some time ago. Well, I got over it, apparently, and still have enough chickpeas to keep me and the chooks going right through Armageddon and beyond. So what` s a red hen to do with such a bountiful store?

Domini Kemp has the answer in last Saturday`s Irish Times.


Chickpea. Feta and Herb Salad

Chickpea. Feta and Herb Salad

Meet Chickpea, Feta and Herb Salad.

Okay, I know I scratch about in the dirt most of the time, and will eat almost anything, but seriously folks, you MUST run out and buy yourself one can of chickpeas, feta and herbs and throw this dish together. I promise you, you will get up in the middle of the night to eat it.

Oh, I can see it all now…You`re staggering in the door from the nightclub, you`ll be begging to slip into something more comfortable and relax with….

Chickpea Salad! Yay!

Domini has the proper recipe here. But I am only a little red hen and I really am birdbrained when it comes to measuring everything out accurately, so here`s the quick fix version of the recipe

Sweat three red onions in a pan, with six cloves of garlic and 220 mls olive oil. Remove from the hob and bung in one finely chopped red chilli and the zest of two lemons. Let it cool, then add the juice of two lemons.

Drain and rinse two cans of chickpeas. Leave in a bowl. Throw the cooled onion mix in with the chickpeas and let it marinate. Toss in three spring onions, and a big bunch of chopped parsley and coriander and crumble 220g of feta over the lot. You can also add chopped cherry tomatoes, which I did, since I`m a tomato addict. Oh, and the usual S & P seasoning.

I ate it yesterday. And it was even yummier today for lunch. Kinda wanted to cube up some beetroot and throw it into it too but I`d left it at home, damn. And now I still have a whole beetroot mountain to work through.

Hopefully Domini will come up with some solution there, if she`s reading this blog. And I`m sure she probably is….

Do go read her recipe though. You can compare her food photography to mine. But please, no comments on my attempts. I`m an L-plater, see? I`m just happy I have a photograph of my own and haven`t succumbed to grand photography theft on google image.

Meanwhile, all I can do is drool when I study other food photographs. Like Rachel Allen`s Bake book. It`s great: you can`t actually hear her annoying D4 oxcent but you know she can seriously hire somebody who really knows how to take the best arty farty food photographs in the whole planet.

By the way, anyone know when Rachel`s gonna knock off playing the Nigella on screen? It`s seriously grating. And the smiling thing when she`s cooking? I`ve become seriously aware of my facial expression when I`m pouring cake mix into a tin and I swear I am NEVER smiling. Concentrating, maybe. Grimacing, probably. Looking seriously old and haggard,definitely. But never ever smugly smiling with every blond wisp in place, perfect arty gleaming kitchen in the background and ne`er a hungry child in sight.

Anyway, all the hungry chooks came out when I tossed that salad. And all declared it possibly edible. Yes! Success!

They also ate an entire Rachel Allen/Red Hen Orange Madeira Cake in one sitting. But I`ll save that recipe for another day.

Ok, back to scratching in the dirt….

Chicken Again

Saffron Spicy Chicken and, Carrot Salad

Saffron Spicy Chicken and, Carrot Salad


My kids will eat any meat. As long as it`s chicken. And they groan loudly when they see chicken, again. Seems I can`t win.

So, the second I read Domini Kemp`s recipe for Grilled Saffron and Chilli Chicken in last Saturday`s Irish Times, I knew it would tick a zillion boxes. Heck, even I`d probably eat it.

The other big plus was that I`d finally get to use the saffron threads I`d been clinging to for the past five years.

Saffron`s made from the little threads inside the crocus flower. I have no idea what the flavour is like, but I love the orange colour punch. And I think it`s cool that someone somewhere in a fit of boredom or desperation thought Why, I must pinch out those little nectar scented strands and toss them into my rice this evening and see what happens. Then, zing! that moment of inspiration became a world wide obssession and saffron mania was born.

Ok, I exagggerate just a teeny bit. But don`t you just love that dinky little jar that holds my saffron?

Got it from a pal as a gift after her travels in Spain. I just so loved the jar that initially, didn`t even want to uncork it. It was all just too cute to even open. I got over that after a few years when I realised I was depriving myself of much needed crocus nutrition.


Mind you, if I didn`t have the saffron, I`d have tried making Domini`s recipe without. The chicken recipe already calls for lots and lots of mint. Plus cardamon, honey, garlic and chilli. All of it marinating for at least an hour, so the chicken`s totally stuffed with flavours before it hits the pan.

Yes, chargrilling is called for, but I don`t have a chargrill pan, so I just fried it in an ordinary one.

One thing I do have though, is a mini chopper. I just am nuts about this little guy. So nuts, in fact, that if you`re a close pal, you`re in danger of getting one at Christmas. Yep, that`s how far I take my faith in mini choppers; I`d even risk losing your friendship over one.

A Kitchen Essential

A Kitchen Essential

I used this to whizz up all the flavourings for the marinade. Mint leaves, cardamon, chilli, garlic and water soaked saffron strands, all blitzed in seconds. Tossed the chicken around in the marinade and left it for an hour.

Used the mini chopper again to make the dressing for the Ginger and Carrot Salad. That`s another easy peasy Kemp dish. Two carrots and one very finely chopped onion are dressed with a lemon and olive oil dressing flavoured with ginger, mustard, cardamon and a squeeze of honey.

As I`d expected, the dish turned out just great. In fact I loved it so much I made it again for yesterday`s dinner.  Every little morsel was devoured by me and the teens. Not a complaint from any of us.  In a world full of junk food, it`s great to find really nutritious really fast food for those mad weekday evenings when time to cook is always hard to find.

And I think I`ve finally silenced the cry..

What, chicken? Again?