The TV presenter and cook playfully calls the 1970s in Ireland – when his grandma, Elizabeth Ryan, was cooking – the “worst time for food”.

“But my grandmother, in her great wisdom back in the day, was very forward and confident with her cooking,” he says.

With an unusual home life, his grandmother provided the food to match – whipping up what Skehan calls “these fabulous meals”.

Skehan, 37, calls her recipe books an “insight into another world”, which he treasures since her passing in 2015.

He continues: “My mum has memories of her making croissants in the 1970s in Ireland – unheard of! I’m not sure you could have got them at the local bakery, that’s for sure.”

Skehan says his time in America encouraged him to be even more adventurous.

“I tried a lot more food than I possibly would have. It certainly influenced me in terms of the cuisines we were trying – like Ethiopian food and Korean food and Sichuan cuisine.

“So from that perspective, it definitely changed my tastebuds and definitely changed my lust for wanting to try new things, more so than I ever thought before.”

Skehan and his family are now back in Howth, and he brings elements of LA food into his cooking. This is particularly seen in his latest cookbook, Home Kitchen, where a recipe for Vietnamese turmeric fish cake bánh mì sits alongside mushroom al pastor tacos and poke bowls.

Autumn pasta with blue cheese and nuts

Credits: PA; Author: PA;


(Serves 4)

1 pumpkin or autumn squash (about 1kg), peeled, deseeded and sliced

3-4 sprigs of thyme

1tbsp olive oil

1tbsp salted butter

2 onions, thinly sliced

350g pasta shapes, such as conchiglie or rigatoni

100g blue cheese

75g walnuts, toasted and roughly crushed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Best-quality extra virgin olive oil, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.

2. Place the pumpkin on a large baking sheet with the thyme sprigs and toss in the olive oil until all the pieces are coated. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until tender and caramelised at the edges. Once cooked, keep warm.

3. While the pumpkin cooks, place a large heavy-based frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat and add the butter. Add the onions and season generously, tossing to coat completely in the melted butter. Reduce the heat and cook gently until the onions are sweet and caramelised, about 10-15 minutes.

4. Towards the end of the pumpkin cooking time, bring a large pan of water to the boil and generously season with salt. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve a cup of the starchy cooking water for use in the sauce.

5. Increase the heat back up under the pan with the onions, then add the reserved pasta water and bring to a steady simmer. Meanwhile, mash half the cooked pumpkin and add this to the onions. Crumble in almost all of the blue cheese (keep a little back to serve) and stir until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Working quickly, add the pasta to the pan and stir through until completely coated.

6. Serve the pasta hot in warmed plates topped with the remaining pumpkin slices and blue cheese. Sprinkle with toasted crushed walnuts and top with a generous drizzle of the best-quality extra virgin olive oil you have to hand and a last seasoning of sea salt and black pepper.

One-pot Moroccan-style meatballs

Credits: PA; Author: PA;


(Serves 4)

450g minced lamb

½ red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 medium free-range egg

2tsp ras el hanout

30g fresh white breadcrumbs

1tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

1tbsp olive oil

½ red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 heaped tbsp harissa paste

Grated zest of 1 lemon

400g tin chopped tomatoes

100ml chicken stock

400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

To serve:

Handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Couscous, steamed

Greek yoghurt

Flatbreads, charred and torn


1. In a large bowl, mix the lamb with the red onion, garlic, egg, ras el hanout, breadcrumbs and parsley. Season well and with wet hands, shape into 20 walnut-sized balls.

2. Heat the two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan or using the sauté function on the slow cooker and brown the meatballs all over. Transfer to a plate.

3. Now for the sauce. Add the one tablespoon of oil to the pan or slow cooker and gently fry the onion for five minutes, then add the garlic, harissa and lemon zest, and cook for one minute more.

4. Transfer to the slow cooker (if you’re not already using it), then add the meatballs. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and stock.

5. Season well and cook on high for four hours, then add the chickpeas and cook for a further 30 minutes. If the sauce is too juicy at the end, remove the meatballs and reduce to your liking in a pan or using the sauté function on your slow cooker.

6. Serve the meatballs and sauce scattered with parsley, with steamed couscous, a dollop of yoghurt and flatbreads.

Irish coffee, hazelnut and chocolate tiramisu

Credits: PA; Author: PA;


(Serves 6)

400ml double cream

250g mascarpone

4tbsp caster sugar

75ml Baileys

300ml strong coffee

75ml whiskey

200g Savoiardi sponge fingers

100g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly crushed in a pestle and mortar

75g dark chocolate, grated


1. Put the cream, mascarpone and sugar into a bowl and whisk by hand with a balloon whisk until it is thick and luscious. Whisk in the Baileys and set aside.

2. Mix the coffee and whiskey together in a shallow dish. Dip the sponge fingers into this mixture and put a layer of them into a glass serving dish. Spread over a third of the mascarpone mixture and scatter with a third of the nuts and chocolate.

3. Repeat to make two more layers, finishing with a layer of cream scattered with nuts and chocolate. Chill for at least two hours before serving. This will keep well covered in the fridge for two to three days.

Credits: PA; Author: PA;

Home Kitchen: Everyday Cooking Made Simple And Delicious by Donal Skehan is published by Yellow Kite