Moroccan parsnip soupThis week brings the first of this season’s parsnips which for me always mean autumn. A member of the carrot family, they are sweet with a gorgeous earthiness so they work really well with things like butter, garlic, parsley, potatoes, honey, curry, cinnamon and nutmeg. They can be boiled, pureed, mashed and deep-fried but I think roasting really brings up their lovely flavour and it really couldn’t be an easier way to go. Simply peel and cut them into even-sized chunks then heat some olive oil in a roasting tin. Toss in the parsnips and roast for about 45 minutes. As you’d expect, these are brilliant with an roast dinner but you can also use them with veggie meals like say, a spiced (try cumin, chilli and garlic)  cous cous. My recipe this week is for a warming Moroccan style soup with cumin seeds, Harissa and lots of garlic (great for fighting oncoming colds as the weather starts to turn wintery). Harissa, if you haven’t had it before, is a thick spicy Moroccan chilli paste you get in Middle Eastern shops and good delis. This soup has heat but won’t blow your head off. We all had it for dinner last night and the kids ate it quite happily. If it’s more fire you’re after just add more Harissa.

Moroccan style soup with parsnips, chickpeas and Harissa served with garlic scented toasted breadcrumbs

You’ll need:

1 medium onion

Olive oil

2 medium carrots (roughly 200gr)

2 medium parsnips (roughly 250-300gr)

2 bay leaves 5 cloves garlic roughly chopped

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2L vegetable stock (Marigold as always unless you make your own)

1 tin chickpeas Harrissa To garnish;

A handful breadcrumbs

1 clove garlic

Olive oil

Begin by chopping the onion then throw it into a pot with a generous dash of olive oil. Sauté over a lowish heat and get on with dicing the carrots and parsnips. Throw these into the pot along with the bay leaves. Add a little more olive oil if you think things might burn,  then cook everything for about 5 minutes.  Add the  garlic and cumin seeds. Keep things cooking for another 5 minutes stirring well to make sure nothing burns. Add the stock, chickpeas (rinsed and drained), 2 teaspoons of Harissa paste and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to the boil then cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes.
Just before you serve prepare the garlic breadcrumbs – fry a clove of garlic in some olive oil over a low heat for a couple of minutes, remove the garlic and add a handful of breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown over a low heat. Sprinkle on top of the soup and serve.
Variations: Most veg works in this kind of soup,  you could throw in some diced red pepper and fresh or tinned Tomatoes would be great as well. Some fresh parsley or coriander is lovely on top too.
Have a great weekend,

Chicken and Quince Tagine

December 11, 2008

Hi everyone,

There was lot of interest in the Quinces so here’s a recipe we’ve been making with them that’s really easy and was a big hit all round a couple of weeks back when I made it for about 12 people (including 4 kids who absolutely wolfed it).

Chicken and Quince Tagine (for 6)

You’ll need:

1 Chicken jointed or 1.5k Chicken Thighs

Olive Oil

1 large Onion peeled and chopped

2 teaspoon of fresh grated Ginger

2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon

4 teaspoon Cumin Seed

2 teaspoon Paprika

Freshly ground Pepper

500gr Quince peeled and chopped

800gr Tinned Chopped Tomatoes

2 Tablespoons Tomato Puree

2 Tablespoon Honey

400gr Cooked Chickpeas (a jar)

Fresh Coriander

Begin by heating your oven to 150 degrees or Gas Mark 4 and preparing your Quinces. Peel and quarter them and chop into blueberry-size pieces. 2 large Quinces should give you the 500gr uncooked Quince flesh you need but if it’s a little more or less don’t worry. Throw them into a pot with 1/2 cup water and simmer until soft (about 15 minutes) while you get on with everything else.

Heat some Olive Oil and brown the Chicken pieces in a casserole. Remove the chicken and set aside then saute the onion over a medium heat for a couple of minutes before adding the grated Ginger, Cinnamon, Cumin Seed, Paprika and some freshly ground Black Pepper. Continue cooking for a minute then add the Quince, Tomatoes and Honey. Season with Salt, mix well, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the Chicken and Chickpeas then cover with hot water. Cover tightly and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Before serving scatter with fresh Coriander leaves (Parsley will also do just fine). Eat with flat bread and/or Cous Cous. Enjoy!

Beetroot and Parsnips

November 28, 2008

Hi everyone,

Like all root vegetables, this week’s Beetroot and Parsnips are beautful roasted. I often serve them together topped with a scattering of parsley.  It’s a great side dish especially with a roast.

More usual though is the vegetarian route – add a simple warm cous cous salad with maybe toasted pumpkin seeds and some baked Goat’s Cheese and you’ve got dinner.It’s a combination that’s easy to prepare and always goes down a storm.

I think the best way to go is to  boil the vegetables first (separately or everything will go pink and it is nice to have the 2 colours) so the roasting doesn’t take too long. This way, once the veg is in the oven you’ll have enough time to do the Cous Cous, slice the Goat’s Cheese and of course have at least one glass of wine.

Balsamic Roasted Beetroot and Parsnips (for 2)

You’ll need:

600gr Parsnips (about what you have in this week’s bag)

600gr Beetroot (about what you have in this week’s bag)

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar


Start with your beetroot as they’ll take the longest. Wash but don’t peel them or all their lovely colour will leech out. Cover in water and bring to the boil then simmer til done (ie until you can stick a knife through them). This will take anything from 40 minutes to an hour for really big bulbs. When they’re ready take them off the heat, drain and allow to cool slightly. Peel and cut each Beetroot into quarters or eighths depending on the size.

While the beetroot are cooking, you can get on with the parsnips. Wash, peel and cut into chunks or lengths. Boil in salted water until tender (this should take about 15 minutes).

When the vegetables are ready, heat your oven to Gas mark 6 or 200 degrees and warm some olive oil on a non stick baking tray. When the oil is hot add your vegetables and a drizzle of honey.  Toss well then put in the oven. After about 20 minutes toss everything  to make sure the veg cooks evenly. Return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes, toss again then add a dash of balsamic vinegar and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until everything has carmelized nicely. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

The Cous  Cous and baked Goat’s Cheese

You’ll need:

Cous Cous

Pumpkin Seeds

Lemon Juice

Olive Oil

2 rounds Chevre Goat’s Cheese about 1 inch thick

Prepare enough Cous Cous for 2 and dress with some nice olive oil and lemon juice. Toast some pumpkin seeds on a dry pan and throw in.

The baked goat’s cheese is simple. Just  bake the rounds on a tray for about 10 minutes so when you think the veg is starting to caramelize is a good time to throw them in the oven. If you want to make things really special marinate them in oil with some rosemary and thyme a la Alice Waters. This can be done the day before and is fab.

In case you were wondering……..

The leaves in your bag with white stalks are pak Choy and they should be steamed or stirfried with garlic and ginger. The other leaves are  baby(ish) Wicklow spinach

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great weekend,