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.

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Chickpea Soup

Chickpea soup

Running certainly has improved my appetite. I`ll eat anything. And, all the quicker, if the food is both easy to prepare and highly nutritious, like this chickpea soup.

In common with so many of my favourite recipes, it`s inspired by Domini Kemp. Her recipe includes hot curry prawns and chives. But, since the Chook House was all out of those ingredients, I left them out. I`m giving you the hot curry prawn option here though, so you can toss them in, if you have them to hand.

Domini Kemp’s Chickpea Soup With Curry Prawns
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

  •  4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion (Peeled and Finely Chopped)
  •  2 Garlic Cloves (Peeled and Finely Sliced)
  •  Salt and Pepper
  • 2 x 400g Tin Chickpeas Drained
  • 1 Litre Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Seeds Crushed
  •  200ml White Wine
  •  Juice of 1 Lemon
  •  Bunch Chives (Finely Chopped)

Curry Garnish:

  • Knob of Butter
  • 1 Tsp Curry Powder
  •  8-12 Prawns
  • Salt and Pepper

In a large saucepan, sweat the olive oil, onions and garlic together until soft. Season well and do not allow to brown.

Chuck in the other ingredients (except the chives) and heat through. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and then mix in a blender. Return to the saucepan and check for seasoning.

For the prawn garnish, I use cooked frozen tiger prawns, defrosted thoroughly and patted dry.

Heat the butter until foaming, add the curry powder and then chuck in the prawns and, keeping the heat up high, toss around until they are well coated and hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with curry prawns and chives (or just the chives and an extra swirl of olive oil).

Or, do as I did, and exchange chopped parsley for the prawns and chives.

Yum!

It certainly helped me fulfil my Janathon exercise quotient both today and yesterday.

  • Wednesday`s run was with Teen Girl. It was a just a mile long trot.
  • Today`s run was a slow four miles.
  • Janathon Running Total to Date: 26 1/2 miles

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

Ingredients:
•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

Method:

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

Method:

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.