Winter Warmers from Behind the Half Door – Stories of Food and Folk

This week we are delighted to feature our first guest blog from Kady O Connell, co-author of “Behind the Half Door: Stories of Food and Folk” with Biddy McLaughlin.

With a fresh approach to Irish cuisine, it’s no surprise that the book has been shortlisted for a prestigious Gourmand Award! Filled with a charming patchwork of Irish history, emotion-filled interviews and authentic recipes this book will that will nourish your soul and revive your home cooking.


Here are Kady’s favourite winter warmers from her book to give some inspiration to your weekend menu!



Winter Warmers from Behind the Half Door – Stories of Food and Folk


When I was home in Dublin a few weeks ago to promote the book, I relished in the sound of a crackling fire and a good excuse to stay in and watch Netflix because it was too wet and cold to go out!


But after a while, it’s hard not to feel those winter blues creeping in as our noses start to get snuffly, the evenings end abruptly and the sound of rain against the windows makes you pull your blanket around you a little tighter.


In my opinion, the best cure for anything has to be food. And there is no better feeling than nourishing yourself with rich, hot, wholesome comfort foods as you hear the winds bluster around you. Hot soup with some crusty fresh bread, slathered in butter… Steaming stews that tease you with their juicy and delightful smells… total bliss!


So I have picked my top five winter warmers from my new cookbook, Behind the Half Door – Stories of Food and Folk, co-authored by Biddy McLaughlin. Paired with a big glass of red wine and devoured by the fire with a great book, this is what a cosy Winter is all about. Enjoy!




This breakfast is a firm weekend favourite in my house. Think warm fluffy pancakes, puffed up by light and creamy ricotta, then topped with fresh raw honey and rosemary. It tastes like Christmas Day.




This is my absolute favourite seafood recipe in the book. It was inspired by Biddy’s mother and was a staple of her childhood.  The doughy balls, partly submerged in the salty simmering fish stew, expand as they are steamed (the secret is a light touch and ice-cold water). I’m afraid there is no season for comfort food! Fish stew is a classic dish but the addition of these dumplings takes it to a different level – try it for yourself!




Whenever Biddy cooks this unusual dish for supper in the cottage, everyone goes crazy for it. The sharp acidity of fresh lemon juice with sugar makes it sing. Biddy and I experiment all the time with our dishes and the addition of turmeric to this one was purely accidental! When I was photographing this spaghetti one miserable morning in Dalkey, the dish looked particularly bland. Being an artist, I love colour, so I nipped into the kitchen, added turmeric, reheated the sauce and this golden delight was born.



Biddy decided to visit me for a Bondi summer earlier this year, so we could work together and finish this book (any excuse for a holiday). We had the best time writing and researching (read: stuffing ourselves with Sydney’s finest foods!). On the very last night, we treated ourselves to a meal at chef Peter Gilmore’s restaurant, Bennelong, at The Sydney Opera House. The menu was incredible – I had an amazing polenta and corn dish. There was already a creamed corn recipe in this book, but we decided to update it and add polenta, to preserve the memory of that special night. This creation needs to be eaten right after it’s made to catch the polenta at its smoothest, so be ready to serve immediately.



Smokey Joe

This traditional dish is robust and earthy, with an amazing combination of flavours (think flaky cooked smoked salmon, floury potatoes, soft buttery onions, dill and capers). We made it for Bobby Kerr when we went into Newstalk last month for a radio interview and he absolutely adored it!


Nell’s Apple Tart

Last but not least, I have to include a cheeky sweet recipe. This beautiful apple tart recipe comes from our dear friend Nell of Jugg’s Well in Glasthule. What could be better on a cold winter’s day than flaky pastry and warm apple, straight out of the oven?




I truly hope you enjoy these recipes and the book, and you feel as warm & comforted eating them as Biddy and I did!

Kady O Connell is an art director, food photographer and cookbook author. Her extensive experience in graphic design and photography has taken her all over the world, and she’s now based in Sydney, Australia. Her design studio, Kady Creative, specialises in branding for the wellness industry and she’s become the go-to girl for local food and lifestyle entrepreneurs, translating their dreams into tangible, successful brands. She recently styled, shot, designed and co-wrote her first cookbook, Behind the Half Door – Stories of Food and Folk, with fellow foodie and former Sunday Independent journalist Biddy McLaughlin. A truly remarkable patchwork of Irish history, emotion-filled interviews and authentic recipes. Click here to learn more!

* For all the details you can pick up Kady & Biddy’s book from our Dun Laoghaire store or Shop Online Today!

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