This summer, my friend Sally got married to a very nice man called Andy. Their story was all very meet-cute and if you know them, get them to tell you how it all happened. Even better, try to hear the story while drinking a bottle of limoncello made for wedding favours by Sally’s dad.
Almost exactly ten years ago, I started my Erasmus year as a student in Sciences Po Paris. Amidst a massive gang of international students and snowed under by delightful exposés, I was lucky to meet Sally, Claire and Lisa. Paris was a wonderful/terrifying/work-hard/play-hard time for us all and it had a huge part in making us who we are today. The below photo is not a reflection on that evolution:
Since then, we have tried to meet up as much as possible, with annual returns to Paris, festive catch-ups in Cork and the odd wedding or engagement party. I love these girls and I can’t believe it is ten years since we first bonded. Thanks for sticking with me, ladies, even through the lip-piercing and dubious selfie angle years.
Since Sally’s wedding, beautiful and all though it was, my skin has not been happy. I reacted badly to something in Kenmare that weekend (possibly Kerry itself) and my dermatologist prescribed a strict treatment, including 25 sessions of UVB light, steroids, antihistamines and a 15-day diet. No raw fruit or vegetables, no tomatoes, no nuts, no fish and no alcohol. It was a tough couple of weeks, but forced me to get more creative about my meals and snacks. This recipe for spicy chicken and apricot stew, with a side portion of spinach, was one of the discoveries I made.
Spicy chicken and apricot stew
(serves four portions)
2 tbsp oil
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs,cut in chunks
1 large onion, sliced
2 tsp plain flour
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
600 ml chicken stock
12 dried apricots
Heat half the oil in a large pan, add the chicken and fry for 7 minutes. When golden, remove and set aside.
Add the remaining oil and the onion, cooking for 5 minutes until browned. Return to the pan.
Mix the flour and spices together, then sprinkle onto the chicken, stirring and cooking for 1-2 minutes.
Still stirring, pour the stock in slowly, so that the sauce turns thick and rich. Allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the apricots and simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve with rice and peas or with the delicious spinach recipes that follows.
Bonus sauteed spinach recipe
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
280g fresh spinach leaves
2 tbsp grated Parmesan/10g Parmesan flakes (discovered in Carrefour)
I get iron cravings sometimes and spinach seems to satisfy them (another option is seaweed from Japanese restaurants). This recipe tastes really juicy and healthy, but the cheese adds a bit of flare
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add the spinach and cover, cooking for 5 minutes. Don’t worry if it seems to be too much, spinach wilts like nobody’s business.
Stir and season (if you are into that kind of thing) and leave for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the cheese to serve.