Award-winning food writer and photographer Lilly Higgins spoke to James Taylor about the importance of shopping local, new recipes and the importance of supporting Irish farmers and producers.

Lilly Higgins is a food writer, blogger, photographer and chef. Lilly lives in Cork with her partner Colm and their three children; Liam (8), Cathal (7) and Hazel (4).

With a practical and approachable style of cooking, Lilly also has a love of baking. Fresh, local produce always features in her recipes, with delicious dishes for feeding a family or for special occasions.

How are you coping with the challenges of the lockdown with three young kids?

“I work from home normally writing recipes, cooking food and doing food photography. My kids are young, so they are used to me working around, so there hasn’t been a major change.

"Before the current lockdown, there was a window for me in the morning when my youngest would go to playschool and the two boys would go to school, so that’s gone now.

"It’s gone back to the way things were before they went to school where I would do a lot of the work in the evenings when the kids are gone to bed. It’s just about getting back into the routine of it.

“On a positive note, we’ve never eaten better, we’re baking and cooking every day. We are very much into home schooling, with the kids having a snack at a set time.”

Top tips for keeping the kids entertained?

“Getting the kids involved seems to have worked out the best. The kids want to do the things that we are doing. They’re taking lots of photos of their food.

"What I’ve started to do with them is to get them to make their own snack and they are doing a lot of baking with me. They are really enjoying that because they all have their own preferences. We can create our own normal by making our own food.”

What are their favourite dishes?

“For Liam, it’s definitely duck pancakes, he absolutely loves them. He also loves any type of Chinese food. We cook up stir fry vegetables with noodles and he loves that and he’s learning how to make that now.

I’m always trying different recipes and cooking different things to see what they like and don’t like

"Cathal is our resident carnivore, he loves every type of meat. When he gets steak and two veg, he just pushes the veg aside!

"We are having loads of barbecues now that we are at home, when the weather is good, which is great. He also loves smoked goats cheese. Hazel eats everything.”

How important is shopping and cooking local?

"Shopping and cooking local is more important than ever, sourcing locally produced food you know has zero air miles.

"We are so lucky that a lot of Irish produce is grass-fed. It’s often something that is taken for granted in an Irish setting.

"Shopping locally is great from a health perspective, buying the raw ingredients to make our own dishes and recipes.

The distinct quality and taste of Irish dairy is the best in the world and I love to cook with it in all my dishes. The vegetables, the meat, the milk. It’s all about supporting farmers and small Irish food producers right now."

Recipes section

Rhubarb fool with candied almonds

Serves 6


2 tsp sugar

2 tsp hot water

1 tbsp brown sugar

60g chopped almonds

650g rhubarb

100g caster sugar

400ml cream

150ml yogurt


  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • Mix the water and sugar in a bowl till the sugar is dissolved. Add the brown sugar and almonds. Mix well to combine.
  • Spread the nuts on a tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 8 minutes till bubbling and evenly coated. Set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, roughly chop the rhubarb and place in an ovenproof dish, scatter over the caster sugar.
  • Cover with foil and place in the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb is just done. You don’t want to want it to be too soft. Set it aside to cool completely.
  • Whip the cream till thick and voluminous. Fold through the yogurt.
  • Next gently fold through the completely cooled rhubarb. You can keep aside some of the juices for pouring on top.
  • Once the cream is rippled through spoon it into cold glasses. Top with any reserved cooking juices and scatter the candied almonds over. Serve chilled right away.
  • Labneh and homemade flatbreads


    For the Labneh

    400ml yogurt

    ½ tsp salt

    1 tbsp olive oil

    1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

    For the flatbreads

    250g self-raising flour

    250g yogurt

    ½ tsp salt

  • Place a piece of muslin or cheesecloth into a large sieve set over a bowl. Stir the salt through the yogurt, then spoon the yogurt into the centre of the cloth, gather up the sides. Tie the four corners into a knot and hang over the bowl overnight. I usually tie it onto the handle of a kitchen cabinet or the tap. The liquid will slowly drip into the bowl leaving a thick creamy cheese.
  • Transfer the cheese to a serving bowl and smooth it out with a spoon. Drizzle olive oil over the top and scatter with the sesame seeds.
  • To make the flatbreads, mix the yogurt with the flour till a smooth dough forms. Leave to rest, covered with a tea towel, for half an hour.
  • Divide the dough into six and roll into balls. Use a rolling pin to flatten the breads about ½cm thick.
  • Place a dry frying pan over a high heat, no need for any oil. Lay two flatbreads at a time in the pan to cook. Each one will need about 4 minutes each side, they should puff up and blister, this all gives flavour. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Serve the labneh with the warm breads for dipping
  • .

    More recipes

    For more delicious recipes, visit This health and wellbeing page is the fifth in a five-part series brought to you by the National Dairy Council.