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Gingergirl: Effortless midweek dinners just in time for back to school

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Hello and welcome to all about food. Time to get organised for – dare I say it – the return to school!

Hello and welcome to all about food. Time to get organised for – dare I say it – the return to school!

Ask gingergirl

Dear gingergirl,

Help! How do I make our midweek dinners more interesting and flavoursome without spending hours in the kitchen? I need something simple yet tasty.

Many thanks,

Joan, Roxboro.

Hello Joan,

This is a challenge for all of us and, with the best intentions, we can all fall into a rut. Now that the kids are getting ready to go back to school there’s the return of homework, after school activities and the darker evenings to deal with so there is simply no time to get overly creative in the kitchen.

I am frequently asked what dinners I cook in the evening, often it’s something I have made up in batches and taken out of the freezer from the night before – (curries, tomato-based sauces for pasta, fish cakes, soups –chicken noodle or minestrone…). If I am cooking on the hop I tend to cook frittatas, stir-fries (my favourite being beef, broccoli and orange zest) a ‘tray bake’ of meat, veg and potato or, a favourite of my husband’s, Chicken Parmesan. Not only is Chicken Parmesan very tasty, it is also quick to cook – as you pound the chicken into thin ‘escalopes’ – the cheffy tern used to describe thinned, boneless meat.

As I may have mentioned before, I keep a couple of bags of breadcrumbs in the freezer so that I can grab them as I need them – after all, they never need defrosting.

Chicken Parmesan

(Serves 4)

4 chicken breasts, skin removed

Salt and pepper

Flour for dusting

75g of breadcrumbs

50g finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 free-range eggs beaten

Olive oil for cooking

Large knob of butter

Place the chicken breasts between cling film sheets and lightly pound using a cooks mallet or rolling pin, until the chicken is about a half to one centimetre thick. Season the chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the flour, beaten eggs, and the breadcrumbs mixed with the Parmesan into three separate bowls. Thoroughly coat each escalope in flour, tapping away any excess flour. Next, dip into the beaten egg followed by the breadcrumb/Parmesan. Place the prepped escalopes on a large plate.

Heat some olive oil with the butter in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat. Once sizzling, add the crumbed breasts and cook for three to four minutes on each side until crispy and golden. I like to serve this chicken with boiled potatoes and lemon and garlic broccoli (see below).

Lemon and garlic broccoli

Boil or steam a head of broccoli florets until tender, then drain. Meanwhile, melt a large knob of butter in a pan and gently sizzle a clove of finely chopped garlic for two to three minutes. Add the juice and zest of half a lemon and season. Toss with the broccoli and serve with the chicken.

Contact gingergirl


Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.

Letters to ‘gingergirl’ c/o The Limerick Leader, 54 O’Connell St. Limerick.

You can follow gingergirl’s on Twitter – under gingergirlfood or on Facebook – under ‘gingergirl’.

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