My Mum’s Beef Stew

STEW This is the beef stew I cooked for Ireland’s Best Home Cook competition. Lots of you have been asking for this recipe so here you go, as promised 😉

I was actually planning on having lots of salads this week, but then met eireann went and issued a weather warning, hey ho, back to the winter dinners!


1 lb diced beef

1 onion

5 carrots

3 sticks celery

10 button mushrooms

1 tbsp port

25g tomato puree

25g  plain flour

1/2 beef stock cube (I use Kallo organic)

1/2 mushroom stock cube (as above)

1 pint of water

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp tomato ketchup (yes, tomato ketchup!)




Fry the onion in a large saucepan until soft. Add the beef and fry until browned on all sides. Add the chopped veggies and and turn the heat right down. I usually move mine over to the stove top at this stage…

Add the puree and stir through. Add the flour and stir, making sure it is cooked out – otherwise you will have a lumpy stew 😛

The port goes in at this stage, stir and gradually add the stock.


Simmer for about 3 hours. The meat should be really tender and the stew will have thickened.


I usually serve this with some really buttery, creamy mashed potato.

This stew like any tastes better the next day. You could pop a pastry case on top and bake it in the oven for a variation on the day before… 

STEW Enjoy 😉


Tomato and Basil Soup

IMAG1044 This tomato and basil soup recipe originally comes from The Ballymaloe Cookery School Cookbook. I may not have it word for word as I seem to adapt every recipe I cook!

 I think they may use fresh tomatoes for their recipe though and as it is only March, we don’t have any growing in our cold little climate yet. But I will soon be planting my tomato seeds and crossing my fingers and toes for a good summer 🙂 When you say a good summer in Ireland, it does not refer to a good time; we are talking about the weather!!

Today I feel like tasting some sunshine while still keeping warm and cosy 🙂


1 onion finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 quantity béchemal sauce

300 ml chicken stock

2 400 g tins tomatoes

1 large handful fresh basil leaves


1 tsp sugar

black pepper

Béchemal Sauce:

25 g butter

25 g flour

200 ml milk

1 sprig fresh thyme

salt black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted add the flour and mix over a low heat until the flour has cooked out.  Add the milk a little at a time whisking constantly. You may feel that you need a little extra milk at this stage if the sauce is too thick – that is ok! Add the thyme, salt and black pepper. Allow to sit on a low heat.

This sauce works great with fish too!


Fry the onion until soft in a saucepan. Add the tinned tomatoes and sugar and stir.

At this stage I just add everything into the saucepan and stir, it couldn’t be more simple.  

Leave the pot to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. If you have a stove, this is ideal, otherwise on a really low hob.

Do not allow to boil as the tomatoes only like a gentle heat… and this is best eaten hot, not boiling to taste the flavour! 

Blend and enjoy with some crusty bread 🙂