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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019
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'This girl's best friend is her slow cooker': 5 recent favourites from a keen cook in Cork

Broadcaster and author Caroline Hennessy shares meals from a busy kitchen.

Image: @bibliocook/Instagram

WHETHER YOU’VE A seasoned knowledge of everything there is to know about cooking from ‘al dente’ to ‘zest’, or your best pal in the kitchen is the microwave, we can all benefit from some meal-time inspiration every now and then.

Each week, we ask a home cook about the dishes they’ve been whipping up of late – from simple suppers to lavish lunches.

This week, Cork-based broadcaster and author Caroline Hennessy (aka Bibliocook) took us through some of her recent plates and the one thing she can’t live without in the kitchen.

Caroline is a Ballymaloe graduate and is the current secretary of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, so it’s safe to say that she knows a thing or two about food. Follow her on Instagram @bibliocook.

1. A lunch of leftovers: Even a quick working-from-home lunch can be a bit special when you grab some Sunday lunch leftovers from the fridge (lentil salad, pineapple/coconut salsa).

Add natural yoghurt, kimchi and #putaneggonit. As I hate waste, I’m always looking for new ways to re-purpose leftovers. 

2. Slow-cooker saviour: This girl’s best friend is her slow cooker and I use it so much that it lives permanently on the cooker hob. For a recent family lunch, I slow cooked an oxtail overnight with some pinto beans and sweet pasilla chillies, taking the meat off the bones before serving with baked potatoes for the most luxurious, yet inexpensive, dinner.

The leftovers, eaten with corn tortillas and more of that red cabbage, fennel and mango ‘slaw, were even better.   

3. Snacks for smallies: Every day when I collect the smallies from school there’s one big question: ‘What’s for snack?’ Which, with their demand for novelty, often has me tearing my hair out.

I’ve been trying out old-school milk puddings on them for the last few years (slow cooker rice pudding: good. Tapioca, even enhanced with chocolate: bad) but I had forgotten about semolina until recently. I threw this together just before I headed out on the school run, took it out of the oven when we arrived in the door and hovered over them as they ate, wondering if they’d leave me any scraps.   

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Baked semolina pudding for after school snackology. Heat 500ml milk, gradually whisk in 50g semolina and a knob of butter Simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened, cool slightly then sweeten to taste and beat in an egg. Divide into a pair of buttered enamel dishes. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Put puddings into a 200C oven before you head out on the school run and hope to god that you don't meet a chatty parent at the school gate. Bake 25-30 mins until risen and brown on top. Serve to cranky smallies, perhaps with a grating of dark chocolate on top, and enjoy 10 minutes silence. #theyrenotgettingthiseveryafternoon * * * * * * #semolina #semolinapudding #autumn #autumnfood #afterschoolsnack #snack #pudding #theartofslowliving #foodblogfeed #feedfeed #f52grams #huffposttaste #thekitchn #livethelittlethings #irishfoodblogger #traditionalfood #milkpudding

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4. Girls and greens: While the girls love to help with baking (especially birthday cakes, gingerbread houses and anything involving chocolate), it’s not quite as easy to get them focused on savoury options. But then there’s salad. Just as I’m putting the final touches to dinner, Little Missy will decide that she wants to make her own and then, of course, the Small Girl can’t be left out.

They grab a small jar each, pull up stools to the worktop and start assembling their own customised salad dressing. It turns out – inspired by my big plate salads – that almost anything can go into a salad, as long as you have your own homemade dressing to douse/drown it in.

foodenvy Source: @bibliocook/Instagram

5. The book that changed everything:  A year after it was published, I – along with my two fellow basement-flat-in-Rathmines dwellers – bought a copy of Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat. We were in our early 20s, desperate to become ourselves and ravenous for the world around us.

This book was the backdrop to raucous feasts and romantic dinners, (ever-so slightly) demented dinner parties with friends and quiet evenings in, eating simple bowls of pea soup. It was when I learned how to cook, how to eat and how to live, one simple recipe and one deliciously fraught and often complicated bite at a time. It taught me the power of food, how it can nourish and help and evoke and enable you to take care of yourself and others. Thanks Nigella. 

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Twenty years ago this @nigellalawson book was published. A year later, myself and both my housemates bought copies. We were in our early twenties, not long arrived in Dublin, living in a basement flat in Rathmines (number 13, between the half-way house and the prostitute) and hungry for the world. We devoured Nigella's prose, dog-eared her book, cooked her recipes and figured out our way, one bite at a time, into life. Looking forward to seeing Nigella on stage in the @nationalconcerthall tonight, in conversation with @eatlikeagirl, but - even more special than that - eating and talking and laughing with @nevaelliott. @cristinleach, we'll raise a glass to you! #thegirlsofrichmondhill #howtoeat More #Nigella memories via link in profile. * * * #ireland #irishfoodblogger #books #instapic #irishblogger #newcookbook #cookbook #cookbooknerd #cookbookcollection #recipes #recipeoftheday #food #cooking #delicious #cookbookporn #lovecookbooks #mybooks #cookbooklove #foodblogfeed #thatsdarling #cookbooks #book #nigellalawson #onmytable

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