Ribollita is an Italian soup that was traditionally seen as peasant food. The great thing about this soup is that it makes an ideal base for any additional ingredients that you might want to add. Think of it as an opportunity to give a last moment of glory to any miserable veggies left at the bottom of your fridge! I keep leftover Parmesan rinds in my freezer, which I add to sauces and soups like this to give a unique rich flavour. Add a couple while the soup is simmering and simply fish them out before serving.
At one of my recent cookery demonstrations I got a great tip to make an all-in-one white sauce, which simplifies the process here. There are two things that are key to this method: the milk must be cold when you start, and remember to keep whisking vigorously until the sauce thickens. If you want to take this simple recipe one step further, add some fried smoked streaky bacon bits. This is a great dish for a leftovers lunchbox the next day.
My granddad Do used to keep me and my cousins entertained all summer long on his boat with fishing, crab races and stories about pirates, deep-sea treasure and the biggest fish he ever caught! He liked his food, but never cooked – on our summer adventures with him, we were always under strict orders to bring sandwiches! One day, I caught him sitting below deck slurping peaches in syrup from the tin, one of his favourite after-lunch treats, so this recipe is dedicated to him!
Crispy crackling and tender pork belly meat paired with Chinese five-spice powder – a match made in heaven. For just the tiniest amount of work in the kitchen, using an inexpensive piece of meat, you get the most amazing results, which will feed a crowd. There are many different things you can do with pork belly as it’s quite versatile, but I like the simplicity of this method; it’s a nod to Asia, where this is an incredibly popular cut of meat.
If I was to name one recipe that is ideal food therapy, it's this. There is something extremely relaxing about rolling the meat into little balls and plopping them into a boiling, rich, tomato sauce. I rely solely on the heat of the sauce to cook and infuse the balls with flavour and I love to serve the dish on a big platter with serving spoons, so that people can dig in at the table.
Angie looked after my dad when he was growing up, and when I first started going to school she used to walk me home and give me lunch, which was regularly Irish stew. Her Irish stew is legendary in the Skehan family, with my dad’s five siblings and my eleven cousins all having been brought up on it. Angie always knew how to feed an army of hungry mouths, so I hope this version of the recipe does hers justice!