There is not a lot of good to say about the COVID-19 lockdowns, but during that time, one thing that changed for me was getting a new perspective on work-life balance. I enjoyed being with the family and realised that the children are growing up very quickly. I have since changed my schedule and am very glad to have made that decision.

This also made me think in a new way about our staff. We are 35 years in business this year and have 60 people working here; many with young families. For a lot of restaurants, the ‘summer’ holidays are in January. This year we decided to shut for a week in the summer, also. Our staff are delighted to be able to take a family holiday when most other people do, and they deserve it.

Some 35 years ago, I am sure my mother had never heard of hummus. I am not sure when I first became aware of it. The basic taste can be bland, but the roasted sesame seeds in the tahini give taste. Add in some roasted peppers, or chilli and some spices, and you will have a beautiful colour. Hummus is a great dip – ideal for wraps or for a picnic.

For the hummus bruschetta recipe, instead of the tuna, you could use smoked salmon or trout. This snack recipe also uses chickpeas, and Simply Better do nice organic ones. The lemon adds flavour. A tahini sauce is worth keeping in your cupboard and trying it now and again. It is a good addition to a vinaigrette or salad dressing.

This hummus will keep in the fridge for a week. It shows just how much Irish tastes have changed in the 35 years.

Happy cooking,


Red Pepper and Chilli Hummus with Crispy Tortilla Chips

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

1 large red pepper

Olive oil, for cooking

1 mild red chilli

1 x 400g (14oz) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Juice of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Good pinch of ground cumin

100ml light tahini

5 tbsp water

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Pinch of sweet paprika

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, to garnish

For the crispy tortilla chips:

4–6 soft multiseed flour tortillas


1 Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). To make the hummus, place the red pepper in a small baking tin and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, then add the chilli and drizzle over a little more olive oil. Continue to cook for another 20–25 minutes, until both vegetables are completely tender and nicely charred.

2 Transfer to a polythene bag and leave to cool completely (this will help to steam the skins off). When cool enough to handle, peel both, then cut in half and remove the cores and seeds. Roughly chop the remaining flesh.

3 Place the red pepper and chilli flesh in a food processor with the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, tahini and water. Whizz to a creamy purée and season to taste. Transfer to a bowl and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle over a little sweet paprika and freshly ground black pepper.

4 To prepare the tortilla chips, place two baking sheets in the oven for about five minutes, until they are well heated. Meanwhile, lightly brush both sides of the soft flour tortillas with olive oil, then cut in half. Cut each half into four triangles and arrange on the heated baking sheets.

5 Place in the oven for 3–4 minutes, until crisped up and light gold in colour.

6 To serve, arrange the crispy tortilla chips on a platter with the bowl of red pepper and chilli hummus. Garnish with lemon wedges.

Tuna and Hummus Bruschetta

Ingredients: Serves 4

8 slices of sourdough bread

Olive oil, for drizzling

1 garlic clove, cut in half

2 vine-ripened tomatoes,

Sliced handful of baby spinach leaves

2 x 120g cans of tuna in spring water, drained

2 tbsp rinsed capers

Fresh flat-leaf parsley and basil leaves, to garnish

For the hummus:

1 x 400g can of chickpeas,

drained and rinsed

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp light tahini

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

5 tbsp water

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 To make the hummus, place the chickpeas in a food processor with the garlic, tahini, cumin and smoked paprika. Blend to a paste. Add the water, lemon juice and olive oil through the feeder tube. Then season to taste and blend for a few minutes.

2 Remove from the food processor and place in a suitable container with a lid or cover with cling film. This can be made a few days ahead and stored in the fridge.

3 Toast the sourdough bread in a toaster or grill under a medium heat until golden.

4 Drizzle each slice with a little olive oil and rub with the cut garlic clove.

5 Spread the bruschetta thickly with the hummus, then arrange the tomato slices on top, followed by the spinach, chunks of tuna and a sprinkling of capers.

6 Divide the bruschetta among plates or use one large platter, then season with pepper and scatter over the parsley and basil to serve.

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