Now it’s time for those Jerusalem artichokes. Yes they are a complete pain in the you know what to clean but do spare a thought for the guys down on the Healy’s farm who harvested them for us. They were under a carpet of grass! Earthy, nutty with a big what the hell are these knobbly things factor, Jerusalem artichokes are made for bacon.

I fried them up with some lovely stuff from Tipperary  and made a gratin by adding a small glass of cream and a liberal sprinkle of Knockanore smoked cheese from Waterford. Under the grill til golden and that was it. With a salad you’d have lunch for 2 or 3 sorted but if it’s dinner you’re after, you’ll need more.

I bought  some pork chops, most unlike me but you can’t really eat only Irish for a week without going to the butcher or eating an insane amount of eggs and cheese. It was a bit of an adventure really – I never cook pork except for bacon (oh, and there is that chorizo addiction). I had a little sage left over from Monday and wanted to use that. I thought about a sage butter but at the last minute, fried up some apple slices in butter for a hit of sweetness and used the sage with that instead.

For greens I tossed Monday’s Pak choy (Thursday/Friday customers can use their baby spinach) in a little fresh garlic and served that on the side. Very nice. My boys couldn’t believe their luck – a real meat and 2 veg dinner – no couscous or beans!! My ratings are way up but the couscous will be back.

Pork chops with apple and sage with a Jerusalem artichoke gratin with bacon and Knockanore cheese(for 2)

You’ll need:

The meat

4 Pork chops

Rapeseed oil for frying

The Jerusalem artichoke gratin with bacon and Knockanore cheese

500gr Jerusalem Artichokes

100gr bacon

Rapeseed oil

50 ml cream

60  gr Knockanore smoked cheese or any other smoked cheese you like grated

The greens

Pak choy carefully washed and chopped or spinach

A bulb of fresh garlic

Rapeseed oil

The apples

2 apples

Butter

10-12 sage leaves if you have them

First off soak the Jerusalem artichokes in water for a few minutes to loosen the dirt then, scrub them well removing any stringy bits. Slice them quite finely then steam for about 5 minutes until tender. Remove any excess fat from the bacon then chop it up into smallish bits. Heat some oil on a pan and fry the bacon until it starts to change colour. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and fry with the bacon until golden. Turn down the heat, cover and cook for a few more minutes until really tender. Keep an eye on things to stop any burning.

While this is going on, peel the apples and cut each one into 8 segments. Heat a generous knob of butter in another pan, add the apples and pan fry until golden. When they’re nearly done, throw in the sage leaves. Fry for one more minute then turn off the heat.

Heat another pan with some rapeseed oil. Add the pork chops and cook on each side for 3 or 4 minutes. While the pork is cooking, you can finish off the gratin. Put the bacon and Jerusalem artichokes in a dish. Pour in the cream and top with the cheese. Grill until golden.

As the gratin is under the grill. Heat (yet another!!) pan or a wok. Add some rapeseed oil and then the garlic. Toss the garlic for a minute then throw in the white stalks and toss for a minutes then add the leaves. Allow the leaves to wilt then take off the pan. If you’re using spinach all you need to do is cook the garlic for a little longer then throw in the spinach which will cook is less than a minute.

To serve, top the chops with some apples and sage and grab a spoon and get stuck into the gratin and greens. Enjoy!

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Leek and potato gratin

As I’m sure most of you could have predicted, our kitchen still isn’t finished. It was supposed to take a day (!!!!)……..I know, I know, it was NEVER going to take a day. 5 days later it’s still complete chaos plus those colours I chose don’t look like I imagined. Paul says it’s the stadium style lighting we have going on at the moment and it will all look great when things are finished but I have a feeling that’s just him doing what he does to get me out the door when we’re heading out for the night. “It (could be an amazing new frock or…..a binbag) looks amazing …………….let’s go!” The boy will say whatever it takes and any hint of a repaint is just not getting a look in as far as he’s concerned. I get it.

On the cooking front, there hasn’t been a whole lot going on this week so this week’s recipes are oldies (but goodies!!!) We have leeks in all the Home Organics bags this week which, as you probably know, are a member of the onion family. Although they have a similar flavour, unlike onions, leeks are rarely, if ever, eaten raw as they tend to be just too hardcore. They are best cooked slowly – roasted, sautéed or braised as this brings out all their sweet juiciness. Use them in casseroles, soups, pies and quiches or keep it simple as I’ve done in the recipes below and pair them with just one or two other ingredients so you can fully taste their fantastic flavour. Like all onions they go very well with potatoes, butter, eggs, cheese, bacon and cream.

When preparing them, discard the tougher green leaves and use only the white and pale green parts. Dirt often lodges in between the many layers so they can be a pain to clean. To make this job easier, halve them lengthways to loosen all the layers then rinse under running water to dislodge the dirt.

My first recipe is an old favourite and very easy to prepare. Leeks are cooked in the oven in stock topped with Parmesan and when they’re done all the stock is absorbed so you are left with juicy leeks with crunchy Parmesan. Lovely served with just toast this also works really well with any roast or fish.

Leeks braised in stock with a Parmesan crust

You’ll need:

500gr leeks

100 ml. vegetable stock (as usual I use Marigold)

A generous knob of butter

Prepare your leeks as described above and cut into 2 or 3 inch lengths. Make sure the pieces are of similar thickness – very slender leeks can be cooked whole without halving while other thicker ones may need to be halved or even quartered. Closely pack the leeks in a small casserole dish. Add the stock and butter. Cover with a lid or some tinfoil and bake at Gas Mark 5 for 40 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle some freshly ground Parmesan cheese and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with grilled fish, roast lamb or chicken, a potato dish or just some crusty bread

Next up is a gratin – when the weather is so horrible (again) it’s one of my favourite things to eat. If I have any old root veg hanging about I parboil it and throw it in the oven too with a drizzle of olive oil and that pretty much takes care of dinner (and makes my kitchen toasty too!).

A leek and potato gratin with goat’s cheese

You’ll need:

500gr leeks Butter Olive Oil

1k potatoes (what you have in this week’s bag)

Salt and pepper

200ml cream

200gr goat’s cheese log cut into rounds about 1 cm thick

 Begin by preparing your leeks as the slower you cook them, the better they’ll taste. Clean them first then slice into discs of about 1/2 cm thickness. Melt a generous knob of butter with a drop of olive oil (this will stop your butter burning) and gently sauté the leeks over a low heat until soft and lightly golden – this should take at least 30 minutes. When the leeks are on, wash, peel and slice the potatoes as thinly as possible and drop into boiling salted water and cook until just tender. If the potatoes and the leeks are ready at the same time so much the better. To achieve this, the potatoes should probably go on about 20 minutes after the leeks. To finish the dish, mix the potatoes with the leeks and season with salt (be generous the cream really sweetens the dish)and lots of freshly ground pepper. Add the cream then top with the goat’s cheese rounds and bake until golden. This will take about 30-40 minutes in a medium oven. Serve immediately. This is lovely with a simple green salad – this week’s lettuce and say, a handful of walnuts is perfect.

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great week,

Sarah

Refried swedes with bacan

If vegetables were people swede would be the one that would never got any valentine cards. I’ve been running a box scheme for 8 years now and I can safely say that it’s one of the varieties most dreaded by people signing up to an organic delivery service. Some people love it of course but for most bad, bad memories of overcooked soggy orange mush served in times past (and still in urban Sunday carveries in times present) make it difficult to approach this variety with anything other than trepedation.

Well fear not, my first recipe this week this week is going to change your feelings about this humble variety forever. It has been a recent revelation and definitely puts swede on the cooking map for me. It turns out that swede goes really, really well with onions and bacon (let’s face it, doesn’t everything?) and by frying up little cubes with plenty of these until everything is crispy you have a dish that works a treat with roasts but can also stand alone with the addition of some goat’s cheese. Vegetarians can leave out the bacon and add more onions………

Refried swede with caramelized onions and bacon

You’ll need:

1 swede

2 medium onions

 Butter

Olive olive

5 streaky rashers finely chopped

Begin by peeling your swede – it’s probably best to half and even quarter it before you attempt this. Now dice it up into little cubes. Bring to the boil,  simmer until tender then drain and set aside. While the swede is cooking, chop the  onions and start to sauté in about a tablespoon of butter and a dash of olive oil (this stops the butter burning) over a gentle heat until they start to darken and caramelize (about 15 minutes). Throw in  the bacon and continue cooking for another few minutes before adding the swede. Keep cooking adding a little more butter if necessary until everything starts to change colour and crisp up. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
As I said. you can serve this dish as is but if want to use it as a main I suggest topping it with rounds of goat’s cheese and placing the lot under the grill until golden.

Another approach is of course the gratin, always welcome at this time of the year…….

Swede gratin and green salad

Swede and potato gratin with goat’s cheese.

You’ll need:

500gr potato

500gr swede

Butter

150gr  goat’s cheese – the soft kind you get in a log

1 medium onion

150ml double cream

150ml milk

Nutmeg

Peel and finely slice the potato and swede (celeriac can be substituted for either ingredient or a mix of the three works very well). Crumble the goat’s cheese and finely slice the onion. In a buttered gratin dish (about 25cm ox 25cm) layer the potato and swede, onions and goat’s cheese. Pour over the cream and milk seasoned with plenty of  salt (cream tends to sweeten things up quite a but), pepper and a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Cover and bake in a medium oven (gas mark 5) for 45 minutes then uncover and bake for a further 40 minutes or until the top is bubbling and golden brown. Eat with a simple green salad. Try this week’s rocket with a handful of walnuts.

There are also jerusalem artichokes (they’re those knobbly thingsyou’ve probably been wondering about) in all our bags this week. If you’re not sure what to do with them. Try panfried with bacon  or in a warm salad with smoked cheese and rocket or lambs lettuce  (there’s also a lovely soup recipe in that post too). Whatever you do don’t let them languish in a corner of your fridge because you’re not  familiar with them. They’re well worth checking out and all the recipes are quick.

As usual I’m a little slow off the mark with the whole new year new life  detox recipes. I’ll blame it on the snow and cold weather and with more on the way I think a nice comforting bake is the way forward for the weekend. This recipe isn’t new. It’s one of the most popular on this blog but for those of you who haven’t seen it I thought it would be a good time to repost (plus it gets me off the hook on very busy week!).
It’s basically a rich gutsy tomato stew with chickpeas and spinach dotted with some lush dollops of creme fraiche then topped with Parmesan breadcrumbs. A bowl of rice – brown shortgrain, will not only add a gorgeous nuttiness to things but is so healthy that you won’t feel too guilty about postponing the detox (again).  Next week will be all about the healthy options – I promise!!!
 
Spinach and chickpea gratin with creme fraiche topped with crispy Parmesan breadcrumbs
 
You’ll need:
 
3 medium onions roughly chopped
Olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1/2 red chilli (with some or all of the seeds removed  depending on how hot you like things) finely chopped
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 generous teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
200gr spinach
1 tin chickpeas
3 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
2 1/2  tablespoons breadcrumbs
2/3 tub Creme Fraiche
Start by making the tomato sauce. Cook the onions in a generous glug of olive oil over a lowish heat until soft and beginning to change colour. While this is going on you can also put on your brown rice as it takes between 30 – 40 minutes although soaking it first will bring this down to about 20 minutes and makes it easier to digest.  When the onions are ready add the garlic and chilli and keep cooking until everything is nice and soft (another 5-10 minutes) then add the tomatoes and sugar. Give things a good stir then season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until everything has reduced by at least half and is a gorgeous rich, dark red. While the tomato is cooking get on with the other ingredients…

Prepare your spinach by removing any thick stalks and washing it well. Wilt it in a pot or pan. There’s no need to add any water for this as there’s enough with what is left clinging to the leaves after you wash it. When it has wilted (this will take no longer than 1-2 minutes) put it in a colander so as much water as possible can drain off. Drain the chickpeas and rinse in plenty of cold water.          

To put the dish together, add the chickpeas to the  tomato sauce then pour all this into a medium sized ovenproof dish.  Squeeze any excess water from the spinach and arrange on the tomato stew in clumps the size of small dumplings.  Dot with Crème Fraiche  then top the lot with the breadcrumbs and Parmesan.

Bake in a hottish oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

We have  beetroot this week and it’s one of the best varieties for detoxing after Christmas – try juicing it with apples and carrots and your insides (and energy levels) will thank you. There are lots more ideas in the post I did at the beginning of last year. Just follow this link http://wp.me/p7YZu-1y

Sorry about the lack of posts lately but the weather is taking up all my time. This post’s from last year but I thought I’d move it up as lots of you have been asking for these recipes and it’s now less than 2 days to Christmas and I thought I’d make it a bit easier to find !!! These dishes are both killer and can be made in advance (ie tomorrow!!).

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple and Spices (This recipe will serve 4-6 as part of a roast meat meal but as it keeps well you may want to make more and freeze it)

You’ll need:

500gr red cabbage

1 large onion finely sliced

Butter

1 large apple grated

4-5 cloves,

Cinnamon stick (or generous pinch of powdered cinnamon)

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

150ml water

2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons blackcurrant jam or a dash of Ribena

Shred  the cabbage discarding the core and any tough leaves and set aside. Heat a generous knob of Butter in a pot and saute the onion over a medium heat until soft. While the onions are cooking, in a casserole dish (or any ovenproof dish with a lid) combine the cabbage, apple, Cloves, cinnamon stick or powder, allspice, nutmeg, red wine vinegar, water, dark brown sugar and blackcurrant jam or Ribena. Add the onions and a generous knob of butter then mix everything up seasoning well with salt and pepper.Cover and put into a medium oven for about an hour and a half stirring every 30 minutes or so.

And the gratin that’s possibly the best thing about Christmas (yes, really)…………

A gratin with Brussels sprouts, bacon and parmesan

You’ll need:

400gr Brussel sprouts

3 streaky rashers

4-5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

150ml double cream

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

Prepare your Sprouts by peeling back any discoloured outer leaves and making a cross at the base with a sharp knife (nobody knows why you have to do this but you do). Bring them to the boil and cook for about 5 minutes until soft with a hint of bite (i.e. not the pulp you might be familiar with). Drain and allow  to cool down a bit while you chop up the rashers and sauté in a pan. When the sprouts have cooled, halve them then pop into an ovenproof dish and toss with the bacon and 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. Season well with salt and pepper then add the cream. Mix everything allowing the cream to coat all the sprouts and then top with another 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan and a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Bake in a hottish oven (Gas mark 6) for about 24 minutes until golden brown.
Vegetarians can leave out the Bacon and it still tastes great.

If you want to eat this on Christmas day (and you will)  prepare everything up to the oven stage the day before or on  the morning and then stick it in the oven 25 minutes  before you carve.

Or keep it simple by steaming your sprouts  then tossing them on the pan with ……….
sautéed Onions and Butter
flaked Almonds
toasted Hazelnuts
Chestnuts
Sesame seeds, Sesame oil and a little Tamari or Soy sauce

Have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy new year.

Sarah

It’s officially summer but the weather says different. This week I’ve got the first of Marc Michel’s gorgeous lettuce and courgettes to cook with and I had thought a salad with the courgettes was going to be on the menu but somehow the oven got switched on…. I baked them with a rich, gutsy tomato sauce and goat’s cheese. As usual I was under pressure timewise so I kept in very simple.The sauce was nothing more than a tin of tomatoes and olive oil (along with a little salt and sugar of course) cooked down for about 25 minutes over a medium heat. I sliced the courgettes quite finely and griddled them  to add more flavour then layered up everything and baked for 25 minutes.  Marc’s  lettuce went alongside tossed with a handful of broken walnuts then dressed in olive oil and balsamic.

Baked Courgettes with Tomato and Goat’s cheese

You’ll need:

400gr Courgettes

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Sugar

Salt

100gr Goat’s Cheese crumbled

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

Begin with the sauce. Empty the tomatoes into a small pan along with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt and sugar. Cook over a medium heat for about 25 minutes while you get on with everything else.

Cut the courgettes in half so you have pieces about 7 cm long. Slice each half lengthways so you have long slices about 2 mm thick. Heat a griddle pan. Add the courgettes and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes or until you get those snazzy black lines. When they are all done set aside.   To put the dish together take a small oven dish and smear the bottom with a little of the tomato sauce. Add a layer of courgettes, a couple of dollops of the sauce and about a quarter of the cheese. Continue layering ending with goat’s cheese. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs then bake at Gas mark 5 for about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

There are of course more but this week has been hectic and things I’ve been working on with a view to posting them  just didn’t get weighed and written down so I’m going to give you a selection of my favourite fennel recipes. Here goes…

Fennel Gratin with Sour Cream and Parmesan -I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again this one rocks and always goes down a storm

You’ll need:

500gr Fennel (about what you have in your bag this week) Read the rest of this entry »