Make the most of having an oven at lunchtime
Working from home is, it turns out, all about discipline. When your workspace is also your living space, it’s all too easy to let the divide between the two blur.
With so much pressure to be productive and use our time in lockdown wisely, we can sometimes feel like we need to “prove” we’re working and making the most of our days, whether that’s by working longer hours or making ourselves ultra-available on email, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp. We’re also, it seems, sacrificing our lunch breaks.
While you struggle to take a full hour lunch at the best time, suddenly the idea of taking a break when you're at home sounds like a prehistoric concept. But while we might feel the pressure to be busy more than ever, eating 'al desko' or skipping lunch altogether is costing you more than you think (you can read all about the consequences of that, here).
Yet taking our lunch breaks and clocking off at the end of the working day, is a lot easier said than done – especially when you want to save your trip outside the house for some evening exercise.
So what can we do to make sure we’re taking our lunch breaks? We’ve put together some quick easy to make recipes to make sure your lunch is the relaxing break you deserve.
THE ULTIMATE HAM AND CHEESE TOASTIE
- 300g/10oz Gruyère cheese
- 300g/10oz rocket
- 1 large loaf sourdough bread, sliced
For the ham hocks:
- 3 x ham hocks
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 1 stick celery
- 1⁄2 bulb garlic
- A few springs of thyme
- Place ham hocks in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Rinse any scum off the ham with cold water and clean the pot.
- Put the ham hocks back in a pot with the rest of the ingredients for the ham hock and cover with cold water. Bring just to a boil and reduce immediately to a simmer. Skim any scum that rises to the surface. Leave on a simmer for three hours or until the meat falls off the bone.
- To make the béchamel, put the milk, carrot, onion, cloves and thyme into a pot and bring to just before boiling point, remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight. (This step allows the flavours to develop to a level beyond most.) In Oxmanstown, we use our Parmesan and Gruyère rinds to impart even more flavour. Strain milk into a pot and reheat.
- In a separate, wide-bottomed pot on a gentle heat, melt the butter. Gradually whisk in the sifted flour. Stir on low heat until gently bubbling. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking and stirring until smooth before each addition. Season and add a sprinkling of nutmeg.
- For the tomatoes, preheat oven to 80°C. Quarter the tomatoes. Lay face up on a baking tray. Dust with icing sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Roast on a low heat for about an hour or until withered, beautiful and intensified.
- For the pickles, put vinegar, sugar, salt, turmeric, mustard seeds, water and cloves in pot. Bring to the boil and reduce by a quarter. Squeeze excess water from the cucumbers and onion and add to the pot. Remove immediately from the heat. Stir and allow to cool.
- To assemble, spread the béchamel on two slices of bread, then add the shredded ham hock, some more béchamel and Gruyère cheese and place under grill until deliciously melty and golden brown around the edges. Top with tomatoes, pickles and rocket, put lid on and grill on both sides. Serve.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Oxmantown Café, click here.
Calcutta Kathi Rolls
- 60ml vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon ginger, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon green chilli, chopped
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 300g paneer, cut into strips
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon coriander leaves,chopped
- 4 large chapatis
- 100g roasted red pepper, cut into strips
- Tomato chutney
- Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the cumin seeds and fry until they begin to crackle. Next, add the sliced ginger, green chilli and red onion. Continue to fry gently until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Toss in the chilli powder, turmeric, coriander and salt and cook for another two to three minutes.
- Add the paneer and toss to mix with the spiced vegetables. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves.
- To assemble, lay the breads on a clean surface, spoon the filling into the centre and add some roasted red pepper. Roll up to enclose the filling. The wraps can be served warm or cold with a side of tomato chutney.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Sunil Ghai, click here.
Chargrilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- 4 chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 100g egg yolks, about 5
- 50ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 anchovies
- 500ml vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped chervil
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 12 slices pancetta
- 1 small loaf sourdough bread
- Olive oil
- 6 heads baby gem, washed
- Season chicken and grill skin-side down for five minutes until charred and golden brown. Turn chicken and place in an oven at 170ºC/gas mark 3 for 15-20 minutes.
- Place egg yolks into a food processor with the balsamic, garlic, anchovies and blend.
- Add oil slowly and continue to mix until it forms a thick mayonnaise. Add chopped herbs and shallots. Season to taste.
- Place pancetta on parchment paper and bake in the oven at 170ºC/gas mark 3 for eight minutes or until crisp.
- Tear the sourdough into chunks, dress with olive oil and season, place into the oven to crisp up.
- Dress the washed baby gem leaves with dressing, arrange in a bowl and begin layering up the ingredients including the warm chicken, crispy bacon and toasted bread. Top with Parmesan shavings.
To read the full recipe courtesy of The Pigeon House, click here.
Colcannon cakes with poached eggs
- 450g/ 15.8oz potatoes, peeled
- 40g/1.4oz butter
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- A little salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 50g/1.7oz Savoy cabbage, shredded
- A little plain flour, for dusting
- Olive oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 4 large eggs
For the Hollandaise Sauce
- 2 teaspoon white wine or tarragon vinegar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 100g/3.5oz unsalted butter
- Cook the potatoes in a covered pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender.
- Meanwhile, heat a knob of the butter and one tablespoon of water in a heavy-based pan with a lid, over a high heat.
- When the butter has melted and formed an emulsion, add the scallions and cabbage with a pinch of salt. Cover, shake vigorously and cook over a high heat for 1 minute. Shake the pan again and cook for another minute, then season with pepper.
- Drain the potatoes and mash until smooth, then beat in the remaining butter. Fold in the cabbage mixture. Shape the mixture into four balls, dust with flour and press into neat patties.
- Heat a thin film of olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and add the patties, then cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- To make the poached eggs, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the vinegar and season with salt and keep at a very gentle simmer. Break the eggs into the water and simmer for 3-4 minutes until just cooked but still soft on the inside. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper, trimming away any ragged edges.
- To make the hollandaise sauce, place the vinegar and egg yolks in a food processor with a pinch of salt. Blend until just combined.
- Gently heat the butter in a heavy-based pan until melted and just beginning to foam. Turn on the food processor and with the motor running at medium speed; pour in the melted butter in a thin, steady stream through the feeder tube. Continue to blitz for another 5 seconds and pour back into the pan but do not return to the heat. Allow the heat from the pan to finish thickening the sauce as you stir it gently for another minute before serving. Season to taste with salt.
- To serve, place a colcannon cake on each warmed plate and place a poached egg on top of each one. Spoon over the hollandaise sauce and add a grinding of black pepper.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Bord Bia, click here.
- 75g penne pasta
- Knob of butter
- 2 cloves of garlic, grated
- 75g fresh salmon, diced
- 75g smoked salmon, diced
- 100ml white wine
- 150ml fresh cream
- Small bunch parsley, finely chopped
- 15g Parmesan cheese, grated
- 15g mixed baby leaves
- Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a non-stick pan, then add the fresh salmon and garlic. Cook gently.
- Add the wine and turn the heat up to high. Cook until the wine is reduced by a quarter.
- Add the cream and smoked salmon and cook until sauce is reduced to a thick consistency, then stir in the parsley.
- Refresh pasta in boiling water stir into the sauce.
- To serve, top with mixed baby leaves and grated Parmesan cheese
To read the full recipe courtesy of Richie Duff, click here.
Spiced lentil and carrot soup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 400g carrots, diced
- 140g red lentils
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 1.2l hot vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
- Heat a teaspoon of coconut oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the garlic, celery and onion to the pan, reduce the heat and allow the vegetables to sauté.
- Once the onions and celery become translucent, add the carrots and allow to sauté for about 5 minutes.
- Mix the spices and lentils through and heat gently for about 3 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring the pan to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid for about 20 minutes until the lentils have absorbed the stock and plumped up.
- Remove from the heat and blend the soup with a handheld blender or food processor to your preferred texture.
- To serve, top with a spoon of natural yoghurt.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Glenisk, click here.
Halloumi and courgette corn pasta salad
- 3 medium courgettes, grated
- 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 100g frozen shelled edamame beans
- 50g fresh basil leaves, coarsely shredded
- 15g fresh parsley leaves
- 75ml olive oil
- Himalayan fine rock salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 250g corn pasta
- 200g halloumi cheese, thickly sliced
- 200g rocket
- 1 lemon, grated zest only
- 1½ tablespoons small capers
- Tip the grated courgette into a bowl, pour over the vinegar and stir. Set aside.
- Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add the edamame beans and blanch for three minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then set aside to dry.
- Combine half the basil, all the parsley and the olive oil in a small food processor along with a bit of salt and pepper. Blitz to a smooth sauce and set aside.
- Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente or according to the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta, rinse under cold running water and leave to dry, then return it to the pan in which it was cooked.
- Fry the slices of halloumi cheese on a hot, dry frying pan for three minutes on each side, until golden. Cut into cubes and set aside. Pour the courgettes and their vinegary juices over the pasta. Add the edamame beans, basil sauce, rocket, lemon zest, capers and halloumi. Gently stir together, then taste and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Stir in the remaining basil just before serving.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Oliver McCabe, click here.
Real Beans On Toast
- 150g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
- 400g tinned tomatoes
- 200g haricot beans, soaked overnight
- 200g cannellini beans, soaked overnight
- 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
- Sea salt and black pepper, to season
- Dash of Tabasco sauce
- Sourdough bread
- Fry the bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Add in the rapeseed oil, and gently sweat the shallot and celery for about 15 minutes or until softened and completely cooked.
- Stir in the tomatoes, beans and sugar and bring to the boil. Season with sea salt and black pepper and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add in Tabasco sauce.
- Toast slices of sourdough and spread each with butter, spooning the tomato bean mixture on top
To read the full recipe courtesy of Hugo Arnold, click here.
Spinach, Feta And Egg Bake
- 100g spinach
- 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 100g feta cheese, cubed
- 10 pitted black olives, sliced (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Lots of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 eggs
- Toasted sourdough bread, to serve
- Garlic-infused olive oil, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Place the spinach in a colander set in the sink and pour a kettle of boiling water over it. Squeeze the excess water out of the wilted leaves, then divide it between four small individual ovenproof dishes.
- Put the tomatoes, feta, olives (if using), garlic, chilli flakes, oregano and seasoning in a bowl and mix it all up, then add to the dishes with the spinach. Make a well in the centre of each and crack in an egg.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or more, until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve with sourdough toast brushed with garlic-infused olive oil.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Paula Mee, click here.
Crispy Chorizo, Rocket and Mozzarella Salad
- 180g/6.3oz chorizo
- Olive oil
- 3 balls of Toonsbridge mozzarella, approximately 450g/15.8oz
- 180g/6.3oz rocket
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley
- 150g/5.2oz roast almonds with paprika, see recipe
- Maldon sea salt and pepper
- For roast almonds with paprika
- 150g/5.2oz whole blanched almonds
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
- For the almonds, preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. Combine all the ingredients together and roast for 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Start off by slicing the chorizo into chunks, then heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the chorizo.
- Cook over a medium heat until the chorizo begins to release its wonderful flavour and oils. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Tear each mozzarella ball into six pieces
- In a large bowl, add the chorizo, rocket, half the almonds, mozzarella and parsley and mix lightly. The chorizo oil will dress the salad. Transfer to a large platter, scatter over the remaining nuts and place mozzarella on top and serve immediately.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Eunice Power click here.
Spicy mango coconut tofu bowl
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 50g fresh mango, chopped
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch Himalayan fine rock salt
- 2 tablespoons creamed coconut or natural coconut yoghurt
- 50g toasted coconut flakes
- 300ml water or vegetable stock
- 500g fresh tofu block, cubed
- 100g mangetout
- 100g broccoli florets
- Cooked short-grain brown rice, to serve
- Heat the coconut oil in a wok set over a low to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic to the wok and sauté for few minutes.
- Blend the chopped mango, spices, salt, creamed coconut and toasted coconut flakes with vegetable stock or water to make the sauce. Add to the wok. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about eight minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Add the tofu, mangetout and broccoli. Cover the wok and cook for an additional five minutes. Serve with short-grain brown rice and enjoy.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Oliver McCabe, click here.
Black Pudding Sandwich
- 800g Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, sliced
- 6 soft sourdough rolls
- 160g Cashel Blue cheese
- 300g leaves
- 2 apples
- 120g sugar
- 80g butter, diced cold
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon Dijon
1 good splash of white wine vinegar
750ml rapeseed oil/ sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
1 heaped tablespoon wholegrain mustard, optional
- Core and cut the apple into eighths. Place 100g sugar in a pan over a high heat until it achieves a rich caramel colour. Add half of the butter, then add apples and toss very carefully until completely coated. Continue to cook, moving constantly for a minute or two. Add the rest of the sugar, toss and add the rest of the butter. Toss and cook until almost tender. Empty into a container to cool.
- For the aioli, place the yolks, Dijon and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk until well incorporated and foamy. Slowly in a thin stream, add the oil while constantly whisking, being careful not to go too fast as it could split. If it gets too thick, add a little water at the same temperature. Season to taste. To make it wholegrain mustard aioli, stir in a heaped tablespoon or to taste.
- Griddle the black pudding lightly, as it’s already cooked.
- To assemble, spread aioli on both sides of bread, add leaves, the sliced Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, apple and some Cashel Blue. Place in an oven on 180ºC/gas mark 4 until the cheese has nicely melted and is a little crisp. Put the lid on and devour.
To read the full recipe courtesy of Food and Wine, click here.
Main image by Alexandra Golovac