In Cook’s Corner Donal Skehan shares two recipes, both of which have proven to be a huge hits on his Youtube channel, that offer quick and simple meal ideas using store cupboard staples.

Vodka Penne

(Serves 4)

This recipe is inspired by the fantastic Lorraine Fanneran who runs the equally fantastic and award-winning La Cucina in Limerick with her Italian husband Bruno. She is an expert at delicious little pasta dishes and this one definitely proves that. Parents, don’t worry: the alcohol burns off in the cooking, and anyway, the kids will be mightily impressed that you’re giving them vodka. Lorraine suggests 4 tablespoons of vodka (plus a few in a glass for yourself depending on how bad your day has been!).



  • 350g dried penne
  • 25g butter
  • 125g pancetta or bacon bits or 2 slices cooked ham, chopped
  • 4 tablespoon vodka
  • 200ml double cream
  • 3 tablespoon tomato purée
  • A small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


Cook the pasta in a large saucepan according to the instructions on the packet.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry for 3–5 minutes until golden. Add the vodka and allow to simmer for a minute before adding the cream, tomato purée and parsley. Simmer gently for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the sauce and mix through. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.


Pad Thai

(Serves 4

Rice noodles are a fantastic storecupboard ingredient and I regularly stock up at Asian markets where you can also buy jumbo sized bottles of Asian staples like fish sauce, soy sauce, and so much more. This dish is possibly one of the most famous Thai dishes and appears on menus throughout the world. Rightfully so, its a speedy dish full of deep layers of sweet and aromatic flavors.

  • 250g of flat rice noodles
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
A good handful of coriander, leaves and roots or stalks
1 red chilli, deseeded, roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, juice and zest
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 20 fresh tiger prawns, de-shelled, heads and black vein removed
  • 100g bean sprouts
  • 6 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soft light brown sugar
  • 2 large free range egg, beaten
  • A good handful of roughly chopped salted peanuts

Soak the noodles in warm water until soft, drain and set aside. In a pestle and mortar make a paste from the garlic, coriander roots, red chilli and lime zest.
Heat the oil in a wok or a large non stick frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is just at smoking point add in the paste and fry for about 1 minute until it becomes aromatic. Add in the prawns and half the spring onions and bean sprouts and cook for 2 minutes. Stir frying to coat.

Add in the drained noodles and mix through. Add in the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the beaten egg and mix through the noodles until just cooked.
Tumble the noodles out onto serving plates and serve garnished with coriander leaves, lime wedges, chopped salted peanuts, and the remaining spring onions and bean sprouts.