Karol and Gina Daly of The Daly Dish on no notions grub, culinary inspirations, and food’s ability to bring us together
Foodies, content creators, and best-selling cookbook authors Gina and Karol Daly give us an inside scoop on everything from their favourite comfort foods, to their thoughts on the Irish food industry.
A permanent and well-loved fixture of many Irish homes, The Daly Dish cookbooks provide endless inspiration and all the essential top tips any foodie might possibly need.
Created by food fanatics Karol and Gina Daly, their debut cookbook became a number one best-seller in Ireland, breaking all the presale records in Irish history. Now with three cookbooks under their wing, and a Daly Dish Diary to help you keep track of your eating habits, these are two food lovers that really know their stuff.
So naturally, we had to pick their brains on absolutely everything foodie related. From finding inspiration while on their travels and translating them into exciting new recipes to a shout out to the foodies of the future, read it all below…
What are your earliest memories of food?
Gina: I remember my mam giving me a bottle of porridge with the top of the nipple cut off so it would come out, that’s probably my earliest ever memory of food and possibly the reason I didn’t eat porridge again until I was in my 30’s lol
How would you describe your relationship with food?
Karol: Deadly, I love it. For us, food can be a very social thing, sitting down at the end of the day for a family meal and having the chats, it brings us all together. We’re always experimenting with new recipes so it’s a fun journey too.
What was the first meal you learned to cook?
Gina: The first thing I ever cooked ‘by myself’ was an omelette when I was about 9 or 10. My mam gave me a quick ‘how to’ and I became obsessed with them. I don’t even think it was because I liked them that much, but the feeling of independence as a child being allowed to use the cooker and pans made me feel so grown up.
How did food become a part of your career/business/personal brand?
Karol: We had both been cooking up a storm on our Instagram accounts of dishes that we loved and we’re having a blast doing it, then we were asked to write a cookbook, which to be honest we still can’t believe we’ve done…. And here we are 3 years later with three No.1 bestselling cookbooks, it’s amazing.
What’s your go-to breakfast?
Gina: Coffee first, that goes without saying! And two of our favourite breakfasts for the whole family is homemade sausage and egg muffins, these are great because you can batch cook them and freeze them individually and they are the perfect on the go breakfast, then at the weekends we love a breakfast burrito with a side of air fried crispy potatoes… massive.
If you’re impressing friends and family at a dinner party, what are you serving up?
Karol: We absolutely love to do big spreads, big pizza boards cause everyone loves a good pizza right? Or a big Mexican sharing feast, tacos, nachos etc. Although I think the one that never fails to impress is a big pot or our chicken curry, it’s a recipe from our first book and one that’s made in this house on the regular.
Who is your culinary inspiration?
Gina: For us it’s not a who, it’s a what. So many of our recipes have been inspired by our travels and food we have sampled along the way which we would then recreate at home in our kitchen with our own spin on it. Our favourite places to travel to are Italy and America, two very different foodie adventures but so inspiring. We always come home so buzzed up about what new things we are going to create.
What would your last meal on earth be?
Karol: I get asked this a lot and the answer is always changing depending on what mood I’m in. Right now I’m thinking a double double burger, fries and a chocolate shake from In-N-Out burger in California and a side of tacos from Los Tacos in New York, sure it’s my last meal so I won’t be calorie counting. Oh, and a six pack of Guinness.
What’s your go-to comfort food?
Gina: 100% chicken, leek and chorizo pie. When I was pregnant with our youngest Gene last year I had the biggest craving for leeks and we were putting them in everything, was only short of throwing them in my cornflakes at one point. We would make the chicken, leek and chorizo pie at least twice a week or a similar variation of it with pasta and it was like a hug in a bowl.
What’s the go-to quick meal you cook when you’re tired and hungry?
Karol: When I’m tired and hungry I’m usually hopeful that Gina will cook lol. For me it’s all about flavour and how quick I can get it on my fork. I would usually cook one of the following, spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino, pasta with lemon, garlic and chilli or a carbonara with some nduja sausage. All very quick to make and all absolutely delicious. I’m making myself hungry now.
What is one food or flavour you cannot stand?
Gina: Anything with tentacles! I went to a Japanese restaurant recently and ordered tempura white fish, they mixed up my order and a plate of battered tentacles and suckers came out and I nearly lost my life.
Karol: Hair or the dog, another pint of Guinness! I think for me the perfect hangover food is a big dirty grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup. Can’t go wrong.
Sweet or savoury?
Gina: I’m not the biggest sweet fan, so it would be savoury all the way for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I can easily inhale a Krispy Kreme donut but I would always order starter and a main and skip dessert for a coffee or a pint
Fine dining or pub grub?
Karol: Personally I think you can’t beat good no notions pub grub, nice cosy warm surroundings and a big plate of something delicious. Pie and chips and a pint and I’m happy.
Favourite restaurant in Ireland?
Gina: We love so so many places but the one place that we always go back to is Platform Pizza in Bray. Ever since the kids were small we have been celebrating birthdays and special occasions here so it’s a combination of good pizza, great company and special memories.
Best coffee in Ireland?
Karol: The one we make lol! During lockdown the one thing we really missed was popping out for coffee, so we invested in a decent coffee machine for the gaff and after a little trial and error we perfected the art of making a decent flat white. Although special mention to The Front Room in Longwood, Mickey Burke makes a mean mocha.
Go-to beverage accompaniment?
Gina: I’d love to say a big sexy charcuterie board with some fancy cheese and beautiful cold meats (which don’t get me wrong, I do love it) but you really can’t beat a bag of Tayto cheese and onion crisps can you !!
What are your thoughts on the Irish foodie scene?
Karol: It’s great to see so many new places opening up. As a couple who loves trying new things it’s exciting to go and find somewhere new or different to give a go. Be it a food truck, a restaurant, chippers or café we’re always up for something new and it’s great to have that choice out there.
What’s your favourite thing about cooking?
Gina: As a family of five my favourite thing is being able to make everybody happy with food they love and look forward to eating. The smells when they come in the door from school and the happiness in their little faces when they have a full belly, that’s everything to me.
What does food — sitting down to a meal with friends, mindfully preparing a meal, nourishment, etc — mean to you?
Karol: Like I mentioned before, I love that food can bring people together, a big family meal at the end of the day where we all sit and chat, or a dinner party where we cook for friends and all catch up over some delicious food. Or even going out for a meal with family and friends,
Food for thought — Is there room for improvement within the Irish food/restaurant/hospitality scene?
Gina: The food scene in Ireland has come on leaps and bounds in recent years which is amazing to see. I think there’s always room for improvement and evolution and it’s great to see it happening out there, it keeps it exciting and fun.
Chef’s kiss — Tell us about one standout foodie experience you’ve had recently.
Karol: One that was very memorable was a BBQ with my cousin and his wife who we hadn’t seen in a while. He did a Brazilian BBQ which was absolutely delicious, accompanied with some great sides, great wine and even better company. For me that’s a perfect foodie experience. Eating good food, and making memories.
Compliments to the chef — Now’s your chance to sing the praises of a talented chef, beloved restaurant or particularly talented foodie family member.
Gina: I’d have to give a mention to our daughter Holly, who is 13, and over the last couple of years she’s developed so much kitchen confidence and loves nothing more than making a delicious and simple dish from scratch in the kitchen.
Secret ingredient — What, in your estimation, makes the perfect dining experience?
Karol: Great food and great company. With those two you cannot go wrong. And if you’re struggling in the kitchen on the food side I can recommend a great cook book that will get you sorted – Bold Food Made Good, written by a couple of legends. Enjoy!