What’s For Dinner Mum?


Two terrific cookbooks written by two crazily busy Mums came my way this week. Both were published in Cork.  My Goodness by Liz Nolan from On Stream Publications and the other by Shiela Kiely with the catchy title of ‘Gimme the Recipe’ was pub by Mercier Press.

Blonde, beautiful mother of six Sheila Kiely’s intro will resonate with many multi-tasking modern mums who are trying to constantly keep a myriad of balls in the air – “If you are like me, then most days you are running around like a mad thing playing catch up with everything. Shower, dress and eat. Wash on, wash out, wash up. Kids up, kids fed, kids out. Work, sleep and repeat. Somewhere in between you have to manage the school run, housework and grocery shopping, and what were you thinking when you invited people over for dinner at the weekend?” On and on it goes, every sentence will resonate and we recognise the pressure, six shiny energetic faces asking expectantly yet again – ‘what’s for dinner mum?’

Well, over the years Sheila has built up a repertoire of recipes that nourish and delight her energetic household and friends, I particularly loved the chapter on planning family gatherings and parties at home.

Sheila stresses that she’s a long way from being a professional chef but that makes the book all the more accessible.

Liz Nolan developed her passion for healthy and nutritious food at the Wholemeal Cafe in London.  Her book ‘My Goodness’ concentrates on the most important food groups, vegetables and grains. Her recent work as a nutritional therapist at Health and Herbs in Galway has helped many people to improve their health by making simple changes in their diet and lifestyle.

Once again, mother of five children shares her must-have recipes enjoyed by all the family, friends and cookery students. The timing of this book is perfect. Researchers from Harvard School of Medicine recently found that simply cutting the amount of red and processed meat in peoples’ diets to the equivalent of one large steak a week could prevent almost one in ten early deaths in men and one in thirteen  in women. The study found that replacing it with poultry, fish or vegetables, whole grains and other healthy foods cuts the risk of dying prematurely by up to one fifth. A few days of tasty vegetarian food could go a long way.


Sheila Kiely’s Completely Cheating Pitta Pizzas


Round pitta breads – 1 per person

Sun-dried tomato paste or red pesto

Cheddar cheese

1 tsp oregano

Toppings: chorizo, salami, red onion, cooked ham, cooked chicken

Preheat the grill.

Sprinkle the pitta with water and heat in the toaster for a couple of minutes so it puffs up. Slice each pitta bread open into two halves. Spread each half with a thin layer of the sun-dried tomato paste or red pesto. Top with whatever you fancy and grated cheddar cheese, sprinkle with oregano and grill until the cheese has melted. Serve with a scattering of chopped fresh herbs if you have them or black pepper.

Liz Nolan’s Spiced Roast Cauliflower


This is a great way to maintain the attractive shape and flavour of cauliflower. You can get black sesame seeds in Indian grocery shops.


1 tsp ground turmeric

1 heaped tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp sesame seeds, black or brown

½ heaped tsp salt

1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets

2/3 tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil

Sprinkle crushed chillies


Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.

Mix all the spices, seeds and salt in a small bowl. Put the cauliflower into a large bowl, add the oil and toss together. Add the spices to the cauliflower mix a little at a time and toss to coat. Lay on a large flat baking tray and cook for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower starts to blacken very slightly.


Nutritional information

Cauliflower is part of the brassica family and, like broccoli, contains cancer fighting compounds.


Liz Nolan’s Chickpea and Red Lentil Curry with Aubergine and Spinach 


This is a delicious curry – aromatic rather than spicy


Serves 6


200g red lentils

1 medium green chilli

2–3 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium aubergine

2 carrots, sliced

2 ½ cm piece ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

1 x 400g tin chickpeas in unsalted water

2 tbsp tamari

1/2 tsp Himalayan or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ bag washed baby spinach


To clean the red lentils put them into a bowl and pour cold water on them. Set aside.


Prick the chilli all over with a fork. In a large pan, heat the oil to a medium heat and add the chilli, onion and the cumin seeds. Let them heat up and sizzle for a couple of minutes to release their oils. Reduce the heat. Slice the aubergine into 3 lengthways and chop into small cubes. Add the aubergine and carrots to the pan and cook for a few minutes. Peel, grate and finely chop the ginger and add to the pan with the garlic, ground cumin, coriander and turmeric. Stir well, cover and cook for a few minutes on a low heat to cook the spices a little, making sure the mixture doesn’t burn.  The aubergine will act like a sponge and soak up the oil but gently press down on it with the spatula to release the oil. You shouldn’t need to add any more. Drain the red lentils in a sieve over the sink, discarding the water. Add to the pan with the chickpeas including the water from the tin. Top up with about a pint and a half of water. Stir well to combine and then cover. Cook slowly on a low heat until the red lentils become mushy and lighter in colour and the vegetables are softened. Add the tamari and the salt and pepper. Check the seasoning. Stir in the spinach and leave for a minute or two until just wilting.

Serve with brown rice or quinoa

Nutritional information

Red lentils provide protein and the mineral silica for strong bones, nails and hair. They are also high in antioxidants which protect our cells from damage. Chickpeas contain protein, especially tryptophan for balancing the mood and soluble fibre for healthy bowels. Spinach is a wonderful source of minerals iron, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C and A, folic acid for healthy blood cell formation, along with antioxidants for healthy cells.


Sheila Keily’s Moroccan Meatballs

serves 6

1 large red onion

3cm thumb-width piece of ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 red chilli

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

800g minced lamb

1 tbsp olive oil

2 x 400g cans of plum tomatoes

250ml chicken stock

Handful of fresh coriander to garnish


Peel and roughly chop the red onion, ginger and garlic, and blitz together with the deseeded chopped chilli, cumin and cinnamon in a mini chopper or food processor to create a spicy paste. Use a fork or your hands to mix the lamb with half of the spicy paste in a bowl and then shape them into meatballs the size of golfballs. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat and brown the meatballs.

Push the meatballs to the sides of the pan and cook the rest of the spicy paste in the centre of the pan for 1 minute. Add the plum tomatoes to the centre of the pan and roughly chop them with a knife. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine with the tomatoes, paste and meatballs. Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 25–30 minutes. (Test the centre of a meatball to check that it is cooked through.)

Serve with a sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander and Moroccan couscous or rice.


Shiela Keily’s Sticky Pear and Apple Crumble


2kgs fruit – roughly 4 to 5 medium-sized cooking apples and 4 to 5 small ripe pears

50g caster sugar (for cooking the fruit)

100g plain flour

50g wholemeal flour

50g porridge oats

100g unsalted butter

200g light golden brown sugar

Butter to grease dish



Preheat the oven to 170ËšC/Gas Mark 5.

Peel and chop the fruit into smallish pieces and cook in a saucepan with a splash of water and the caster sugar over a medium heat until softening (still with a bit of bite and not a pulp). This takes about 5 minutes. Put the plain and wholemeal flours and the oats into a mixing bowl and chop in the butter. Use your fingertips to crumble the flour, oats and butter together until it starts to resemble breadcrumbs. Add the brown sugar and mix well with a fork.

Place the cooked fruit in a large greased baking dish and scatter the crumble mixture on top – press it down lightly but do not over-compact it.

Bake for 35–40 minutes.

Delicious on its own, even better with custard or vanilla ice-cream.

 Hot Tips

The Parents Association from Kilbarron National School in Terryglass, Nenagh have produced a delighful recipe book called ‘Our Favourite Recipes!’ each of the sixty one students of the school cooked their favourite recipe and was photographed for the book. Peter Ward wrote the forward and launched the book at his Country Choice Shop in Nenagh – contact Kathy Slattery 0863475921.

Twenty one food service businesses in West Cork joined forces to create the Bandon Food Trail which maps places to eat, shop and stay from Ballineen to Enniskeane, Timoleague to Courtmacsherry, Ballinspittle to Ballinadee, Kinsale to Bandon – don’t make a trip to West Cork without it – you can download a copy on Facebook.com/ bandon-food-trail or contact Ruth Healy at Urru in Bandon 0214613366.

Last year John and Sylvia McCormack from Aghada East Cork did some experimental baking of ‘Cake Pops’ a popular American idea and now bake over 300 a day and supply the Granary Food Store in Mildeton, Roasted and Idaho Cafes in Cork City, Café du Journal in Monkstown Dublin, Café Libro in Naas and Swords and at Mahon Point Farmers every Thursday – 0872415513 John McCormack – Facebook.com/treatpetite

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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