Reliable recipes: David Gillick, Tom Dunne, Mary Kennedy and more on easy go-to meals

Some well-known names share their kitchen favourites

David Gillick’s lemon and rosemary beef casserole

David Gillick’s lemon and rosemary beef casserole


Does the smell of home cooking transport you right back to childhood? Turns out that the same holds true for a number of Irish celebrities. We asked a number of them for their go-to recipes, many just like Mammy and Daddy used to make . . .

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. You will find food-related content in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at
November is Food Month in The Irish Times.
You will find food-relatedarticles in all of our sections, plus reader events, competitions and lots of exclusive content at

David Gillick, former Olympic athlete and author
One of my favourite dishes growing up was my mum’s casserole – it was a hearty comforting bowl of food that put a smile on my face. The beef was slow cooked, which not only tasted great but filled the house with a warming aroma. My mum had great intentions when putting the big dish in the middle of the table that the four of us would all sit around the table politely spooning out our serving, the reality was a smash-and-grab job and straight into sitting room to watch neighbours. 

Lemon and rosemary beef casserole 

Serves 4 

1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed 4 carrots, peeled and sliced 
150g button mushrooms 
500g small Jersey Royal or Charlotte potatoes 800 g stewing steak, 5cm pieces 
2 tbsp tomato purée 4 strips of lemon peel 1 bay leaf 1 tbsp dulse (seaweed) flakes or 1 piece of carrageen, chopped 
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary 
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 3 tbsp cold water 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 bulb of roasted garlic, cloves squeezed out 300 ml boiling water mixed with 1 Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot 

The lemon and rosemary add zest and depth to this warming casserole for a winter’s evening.

Set the slow cooker to low and put in the onion, squash, carrots, whole mushrooms, whole potatoes and then add the beef on top.

Add tomato purée, lemon peel, bay leaf, rosemary and seaweed to the stock. Stir in the cornflour paste with the olive oil and roasted garlic.

Pour the stock over the beef, and cook for 7–10 hours. The stew can be frozen in portions at this stage then defrosted and reheated. Remove the lemon peel, bay leaf then serve with wilted greens.

James Kavanagh, broadcaster co-owner of Currabinny Food 
My mum, Gags, used to call into my old workplace once a week with a big dish of her potato gratin, still hot from the oven. The whole office would go wild for it, and there would be a dash to the kitchen to get plates and a spatula to divide and conquer. It’s rich and irresistible, and a guaranteed way to people’s hearts.

James Kavanagh with his Mum Gags and her legendary potato gratin
James Kavanagh with his Mum Gags and her legendary potato gratin

Potato Gratin 

Serves 4–6 

Butter for greasing
110g strong Cheddar cheese
55g Parmesan cheese
55g cold butter
2 cloves of garlic
4 large or 7 medium potatoes
500ml fresh cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 


Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC fan/gas 6 and lightly butter a gratin dish.

Grate the two cheeses together, chop the cold butter into small pieces, and peel and finely chop the garlic.

Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Put a layer of potatoes in the prepared dish and sprinkle on some cheese and pieces of butter, continuing to layer in this way until all the potato is used. Reserve some cheese for the topping.

Mix the cream, garlic and some salt and pepper in a jug and pour over the potatoes in the dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, cover with tinfoil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Remove the tinfoil and bake for about 15 minutes until bubbling and nicely browned. Leave to set in the dish for about 15 minutes before serving.

William Murray, chef and co-owner of Curabinny Food 
Come hail, rain or shine, this cake will always be sitting on the kitchen table of my mother Breda, in Currabinny. It is perpetually being baked, eaten and replaced. This cake just says “home”. It is always moist, and the flavour is even more orangey the next day. I like to add Campari for a deeper orange flavour, but the original recipe leaves it out.

Soaked Orange Cake
Makes 8–10 slices 

Butter, for greasing
50g breadcrumbs (made from slightly stale bread)
200g caster sugar
110g ground almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
4 medium organic eggs
200ml rapeseed oil
Candied orange peel (optional), to decorate 

For the syrup:
Juice of 1 large orange
Juice of 1 lemon
50ml Campari or Aperol
70g caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick 


Butter and line a 20cm springform cake tin. In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, caster sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and orange and lemon zests.

In a jug, whisk the eggs with the oil and pour into the bowl of dry ingredients, then stir well to combine.

Pour into your prepared tin and place in a cold oven. Turn the oven to 170 C fan/gas 5 and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. You want the cake to be firm, golden brown and definitely not soggy in the middle. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover it with some tinfoil or even turn the oven down a little. You’ll know the cake is done when a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make the syrup. Heat the ingredients in a pan over a medium heat until gently simmering, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

When the cake is ready, leave in the tin, pierce all over with a fork and pour the syrup over the cake until it has been soaked up, reserving the cinnamon stick.

When the cake has cooled completely, release it from the tin and decorate with the cinnamon stick or some candied orange peel. 

The Currabinny Cookbook is published by Penguin Ireland, priced €23

Mary Kennedy, RTÉ broadcaster 
My sister Deirdre has made Mam’s cheese soufflé with great success, and the first forkful transports me right back to winter nights in the kitchen at St Brigid’s Road in Clondalkin. Daddy and us four children sitting around the table and Mammy taking the soufflé from the oven and spooning it onto our plates immediately, before the crispy fluffy dome could collapse.

Mary Kennedy’s cheese soufflé, as made by her mum
Mary Kennedy’s cheese soufflé, as made by her mum

Mammy’s Cheese Soufflé 
Serves 4 

25g butter
25g flour
275 ml milk
Pinch of salt/pepper
1 teaspoon mustard
3 eggs, 75 grated cheese 


Melt the butter, mix in the flour. All the milk gradually, stirring all the time.

When all the milk has been added, bring the sauce to the boil. Take off the heat and add the pepper, salt and mustard. Then sepaate the eggs.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and heat well in.

Sit in the grated cheese. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold them gently into the mixture.

Pour the mxture into a well-greased dish no more than two-thirds full. It’s important to leave space at the top for the soufflé to soufflé. Bakes for about 30 minutes at 170 C. 

Tom Dunne

Tom Dunne, musician/broadcaster
This recipe has been passed down from the internet, but has been lovingly developed and refined over many years. For a fantastic trick, replace the oregano with mild chili powder (assuming little people will be eating) et voila! This time you have a chilli!

Tom’s Spag Bol

Serves 4 

1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
Tablespoon oregano
450g minced beef
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt & pepper  


Sweat the onions. Add the oregano, the garlic (crushed) and the meat.

Brown the meat on high heat, then add tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

 Serve with spaghetti, lots of parmesan and garlic bread. Or, if you are making chilli, serve with basmati rice, grated cheddar and natural yoghurt, and garnish with tortilla chips. Win Dad of the Year. Simple.

Yvonne Connolly, model/broadcaster 
It’s not a traditional as some recipes I cook, it’s def most popular. Doesn’t matter who comes into the house, they love it, kids beg to eat it all the time. For this recipe I got some inspiration from Wagamama. If I eat something that I love in any restaurant, I tend to try and recreate at home. 

Chicken Katsu Curry 

Serves 4 

3-4 chicken breast fillets, pounded or butterflied
100g plain flour
2 beaten eggs
120g fine breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
200ml vegetable oil for frying 

For the curry sauce 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 sliced onions
2 sliced carrots
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons curry power
800ml chicken stock
2 tsp honey
4 tsp soy sauce
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Garam Masala


For the curry sauce:

Heat oil in a medium non-stick saucepan, add onion and garlic and cook until softened.

Stir in carrots and cook over a low heat for 10-12 minutes. Add flour and curry powder; cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in stock until combined; add honey, soy sauce and bay leaf. Slowly bring to the boil.

Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce thickens but is still of pouring consistency. Stir in Garam Masala, blend in a liquidiser or use a hand blender.

For the chicken

Season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

Place flour, egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls and arrange in a row. Coat the chicken breasts in flour, then dip them into the egg, then coat in breadcrumbs, making sure you cover both sides.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Place chicken in hot oil and cook until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes on each side).

One cooked, place on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.

Slice and lay over basmati rice. Pour curry sauce over chicken, serve and enjoy. 

Celine Byrne, opera singer 
Because I travel so much, I often miss my Irish traditional meals (which I think they are). Irish stew and bacon and cabbage were my favourites growing up and still are. 

With the stew, along with the tradition onions, carrots and potatoes in the stew I add leeks and sometimes mince as we are a family of seven. 

The bacon and cabbage and potatoes is my favourite dinner.

What I love about these two meals is that they are even nicer on the second day so you can always make extra. Stew is always nicer the next day and with the cabbage I fry any leftovers the next day or add it to potatoes to make colcannon.  

Celine’s Irish stew 

Serves 8

1500ml beef stock 
5 carrots, diced
2 leeks, diced
50g mushrooms (optional), sliced
2 medium onions, diced
30g plain flour (to roll the beef in before cooking)
1kg fresh Irish stewing beef 
7 potatoes 


In a large saucepan heat a little oil. Add the stewing beef and fry quickly until coloured or sealed all over. Add the vegetables with the sealed beef and mix them well around and cook for 3-4 minutes until all the vegetables are coloured and glazed as well as the beef.

Next sprinkle the 30g flour. Stir to coat and colour the flour.

Meanwhile, make half boil potatoes

Pour in the stock and allow to come to the boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 hours, covered until the meat and vegetables are tender and the sauce is a nice consistency.

About 30 minutes before the stew is ready, drop in the potatoes. Leave them to cook in the stew for about 25-30 minutes.

Tell us about your favourite 

What is your stand-by six-ingredient supper, and how do you make it? Send us your recipe for an easy mid-week meal you make and tell us why it’s your go-to simple supper. Please include a photograph and no more than 400 words by email to with “Six-Ingredient Supper” in the subject line. The best will be published online during Food Month.

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