Mam makes the best dinners. When we would come home from school Mam always had a home-cooked dinner on the table. She would have fresh spuds, vegetables and the dinners were always so filling and warming. Mam’s beef stew is something that I can just never recreate. She makes the best stew around and memories of me and all my sisters sitting down after school and drowning our dinners in vinegar still make me smile.
I love vegetables, fish and lean meats. I find that the healthier the food, the happier I feel. I love the feeling I get when I am on track and I am eating so many wonderful colours, flavours and types of food. The less processed it is, the better I feel.
When I was really young, Nana would boil chicken with whole onions, carrots and potatoes and we would have dinner with a mug of Hotcup soup. I love that memory because it is the main one I have of Nana. I can still picture myself sitting at her kitchen table, which was by the window, and we would be chatting and laughing. I always felt like I was with my friend and that I was safe. So whenever I smell Hotcup soup or see it in the shop it brings me right back to being three or four years old.
Anything to do with pasta reminds me of the time we went to Rome in 2019. It was Mam’s first time ever leaving Ireland and after rearing nine girls she picked her perfect destination for her two loves: pasta and prayers. My sister Juliette was leaving for Melbourne the following week and we haven’t seen her since and my niece Eva was just back from a year of working in Berlin so it was such a special holiday. Whenever I see or hear of carbonara I am right back in Rome, sitting outside a restaurant making memories of the best holiday we ever went on. We spent our days roaming the streets of Rome, stopping for hazelnut gelato every so often, and it really holds a special, happy place in my heart.
Oh this one is a game I have played many times and one I hope that never happens!
To start, I would have a spicy chicken wings with celery and blue cheese dip (extra crispy). For the main course, a sirloin steak with tender stem broccoli, mushrooms, onions, chips, garlic butter and pepper sauce with lots of vinegar (we all love it). My dessert would be vanilla creme brulee with vanilla ice cream, cream, strawberries and shortbread. And a nice Americano to finish the meal.
I think it has to be potatoes. They are so yummy and they are so versatile. You can have so many different variations from one product!
Trisha’s 21-Day Reset by Trisha Lewis is published by Gill Books, priced €19.99
Mediterranean-style roasted red pepper soup
For years in the restaurant, this was one of my favourite soups and I would always garnish it with pesto – a little bit of feta crumbled on top is a nice optional extra
3 red peppers, chopped
2 red onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds or ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
2 celery sticks
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
300ml boiling water
fresh basil leaves, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Put the peppers, onions, garlic and coriander on a large baking tray and season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the veg are soft and caramelised.
Meanwhile, heat a large pot and add a splash of olive oil. Add the celery and gently sauté until softened, then add your chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes to draw out their sweetness.
Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water, then pour into the tomato mixture, stirring to combine. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add your roasted vegetables to the pot, then using a hand-held blender, blitz until creamy and smooth. Ladle into warmed bowls and garnish with a few fresh basil leaves and cracked black pepper. Serve with a slice of vegan brown soda bread. This will last for three days in your fridge once chilled.
Baked aubergine moussaka
Moussaka is a Greek recipe that’s bursting with flavour – I love to have this with a simple dressed salad with fresh cherry tomatoes and crisp raw fennel
1kg aubergines, thinly sliced into rounds with the skin on
60ml olive oil, plus extra for cooking
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 vegetable stock cube
400g light Mozzarella cheese, grated
100g light Cheddar cheese, grated
fresh basil leaves, to garnish
Draw the excess water from the aubergines by salting them. This time, you need to layer the slices in a shallow dish and sprinkle all over with salt. Pop some kitchen paper on top of the aubergines, then put a heavy-based pot on top to help get the excess water out. This should take about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the marinara sauce, heat a large saucepan and add some olive oil. Add your red onion and garlic and gently sauté until softened.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, water, sugar, cayenne, chilli flakes and the vegetable stock cube. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 190°C.
Heat a large frying pan. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the aubergine slices with the 60ml of olive oil. Working in batches, gently fry for about 30 seconds on each side to take the edge off the raw texture. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.
In a regular baking dish (a lasagne-type dish is too deep for this recipe), start assembling the moussaka by placing a layer of aubergine slices in the bottom of the dish, then spreading over a layer of sauce and sprinkling on a layer of mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers until all the ingredients have been used up, then finish with a layer of Cheddar cheese on top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling on top. Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves and cut into squares to serve.
Orange oat flapjacks
These are so easy to make and can be popped into the kids’ lunchboxes as a nice treat for them, but you still know they’re getting a good source of fibre
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a 20cm square tin with a little butter.
Melt the butter, brown sugar and honey in a large saucepan, then stir in your oats and orange zest. Pour out onto the greased tray, making sure it’s even and flat. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 minutes.
Allow to cool on a wire rack, then cut into 15 slices and keep in an airtight container. I always keep mine in the fridge because it makes them nice and chewy, but that’s just my personal preference.