Sweetcorn fritters

I am a big fan of  Mexican food. The holy trinity of coriander, chilli and lime that is its cornerstone make so many ingredients sing. Take sweetcorn. Yes it’s sweet and juicy on its own but if you add the fire of a chilli, the freshness of lime then the oomph of coriander it really takes off.  Last night I made fritters with this week’s corn on the cob and they went down a storm with everyone so much so that we’ve just polished off another batch this morning for brunch.

There’s very little flour in this recipe, just enough to hold things together so you don’t get the doughiness you sometimes find with fritters. As well as chilli and coriander I added some of Marc Michel’s lovely scallions for a little extra bite. Fry them on the pan with a little oil then a spritz of lime and you’ve got a picky thing to have with beers or you can make up a quick salsa with this week’s tomatoes, maybe a little guacamole then serve on a bed of Marc Michel’s baby Asian salad leaves with dollop of sour cream and you’re sorted for brunch, lunch, a snack or starter. There is never a wrong time to eat this kind of thing. This is comfort food – summerstyle.

While there are several elements to it, this is actually a very easy dish to put together.  Prepare the salsa which involves nothing more than a bit of chopping and guacamole which you make by um …..mashing first, then the fritters take no more than10 minutes to pull together and you’re ready to go.

Sweetcorn fritters with coriander and chilli, guacamole, tomato salsa and sour cream

The Salsa

You’ll need:

2 ripe tomatoes chopped

1/2 large red chilli (take the seeds out if you don’t like things too hot

1/2 small onion chopped quite finely

1 lime

A small handful of fresh coriander chopped

Salt

Mix the tomatoes, chilli coriander and onion together. Add a tiny bit of salt then lime juice to taste. Set aside to let those lovely flavours mingle while you get on with things

The Guacamole

You’ll need:

1 perfectly ripe avocado

1/2 onion finely chopped

Salt

1 lime

Mash the avocado then mix in the onion. Season with salt and lime juice to taste. A trick is to leave the avocado stone in the dish buried in the guacamole to stop the avocado discolouring.

The Fritters

You’ll need:

1 corn on the cob or a small tin of corn kernels

3 scallions chopped

1/2 red chilli finely chopped

A handful coriander chopped

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoons baking powder

60 ml milk

1 egg

Vegetable oil for frying

Corn on the cob

Begin by slicing the corn off the cob and set aside. Sift the flour and baking powder together then whisk with the egg and milk. Stir in the corn, scallions and chilli. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a little oil in the pan. Drop dessertspoonfuls of fritter mix onto the pan when the oil is hot (you’ll get between 4 and 6 fritters depending how generous your spoonfuls are). Fry on each side til golden (about 1 and half minutes each side) then take off the pan.

Serve on a bed of salad leaves with the salsa, guacamole and some sour cream. Garnish with some coriander leaves. Brunch is served!

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This week our bags have lovely baby spinach from the Healy’s farm in Wicklow. It cooks in a minute so is a great fast food. Serve it straight up with a knob of butter or a drizzle of olive oil. For a really delicious side dish sauté a few chopped cloves of garlic in butter then throw on the spinach, mix everything together well and serve. For a main course add some cream and Parmesan and you’ve got a very quick pasta sauce. This week’s recipe is a pasta dish but without the cream as I’m sure that we’d all like to hit the beach at some stage this year…………..

Pasta with baby spinach, garlic and black olives

You’ll need:

120gr baby spinach

5 cloves garlic – if you’re using the fresh stuff from last week use more

Butter

Olive oil

Handful of stoned black olives roughly chopped

Pasta – whatever you like, kids shouted for shells so I went with those

First of all stick on the kettle for the pasta (this dish is that fast) Wash your spinach then roughly shred it. Stick on the pasta.
Chop the garlic then gently sauté it in a large knob of butter and some olive oil. When the garlic has softened (don’t let it change colour as it’ll start to burn very quickly after that) add the spinach and toss it until it has wilted and is well coated in butter and garlic. Add the olives and when the pasta is cooked, drain it and mix into the pasta adding some more butter and olive Oil aswell as a couple of tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Spinach is, of course, fab in all kinds of salads and sambos. Try it with this week’s cherry vine tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and goat’s Cheese or with walnuts and feta. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve with a simple omelette or some fish.

Have a great weekend,
Sarah

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!

There’s a lot going on foodwise in Ireland this week. First up was  documentary “What’s Ireland eating” on RTE 1 by journalists Philip Boucher Hayes and Suzanne Campbell on Sunday night which made for predictably sober viewing. Irish people spend more money on treats than they do on fruit and veg, processed meats have up to 20% water, obesity rates are shooting up.Urghh.. ..

If you eat organic, chances are you already knew some of this and you’re not one of the people who needs to radically change their lifestyle. Sure, we can all do better but a mainly vegetarian, home cooked, organic (if possible) diet is where it’s at healthwise. All the experts say so and it feels better too.

The other big story is the Eat only Irish for a week campaign started by lamb producer Brendan of Castlemine farm http://www.eatonlyirish.com/. You may have heard him on Pat Kenny last Friday and if you’re on Twitter you’ll know all about it. It’s a great idea and has really focused everyone’s attention on what can be sourced here in Ireland. Lots of the stuff we assume to be Irish isn’t always. As the documentary on Sunday showed, when you eat chicken in a restaurant or cafe it is very rarely homegrown and often comes from as far away as Brazil or Thailand. Yikes!!!!

Again, if you eat locally and organic a big part of your diet is already Irish. Brilliant. No big change required. So, for me this week is really about looking at other items in my shopping basket and making some switches. Some things are easier than others. With 2 very hungry boys in the house I’ve been buying imported honey recently because we go through so much of the stuff . Buying a jar of the local stuff is an easy change, feels much better and I’ve resolved to make savings elsewhere so we can continue the habit. Substitutes for  things like sugar, salt, tea and coffee are impossible to get locally so finding alternatives have been a big challenge. Now, I’m not promising I won’t have a cup of tea all week but trying to eat only local means I’ve been using mint and thyme from the garden. Denis Healy picked lemon verbena for us, admittedly not enough to see us through the week (more like one cup!) but it’s great to get something that’s a bit different as well.

Fresh Garlic

As usual, our suppliers played a blinder this week – Denis and Duncan Healy particularly, they came up with the Jerusalem artichokes, , rhubarb, apples, pak choy, fresh garlic, sage and the aforementioned lemon verbena. Marc Michel’s amazing salad leaves are just starting so the timing on those was brilliant while Philip Dreaper provided the spuds. Now I had hoped to do an all Irish bag but they don’t call this time of year “the hungry gap” for nothing (no, those oranges are not from Wicklow). In a  month it’ll be no problem, but right now it’s not quite possible although I think we did pretty well.

My recipes this week are going to be all Irish – no salt or sugar!!!! and there’ll be at least 2 installments mainly because we got so many new orders in over the weekend that we were completely cleaned out yesterday and there were no Jerusalem artichokes left for me to cook with! We’ll be getting some more in on Thursday morning so I’ll be posting about them then.

My starting point yesterday was the fresh garlic and the baby leaves but feeding a family out of those two  just wasn’t going to happen (I like my food but with boys it’s the sheer volume that I can’t get over). I bought a chicken and decided to stuff it with most of the garlic (I kept a bulb back for another day). When it came to seasoning I had a revelation – what about some seaweed? Gotta work right? It did. While Paul added a sneaky sprinkle of salt onto his plate I managed to hold back and it was quite delicious without. I roasted some spuds alongside the bird and made a salad using our own rapeseed oil (we had this in stock until quite recently but I’m afraid it’s gone until August) and some of that amazing Llewellyn’s Irish Balsamic Cider Vinegar. Lovely.Everyone licked their plate (some literally!)

Roasted rhubarbDessert was a rhubarb fool which I felt completely relaxed about until I remembered the no sugar rule. There was panic but then I saw people tweeting about that gorgeous apple syrup from  Highbank which we actually sell (doh!!)- perfect, an all Irish sweetener. I also slow roasted some apple slices with a little butter at the bottom of the oven (no fancy fan ovens for me something I usually curse but it came in handy yesterday) which I chopped up and threw in aswell for a bit of texture as the usual ginger biscuits I serve with fools were off the menu. I roasted the rhubarb as well so the oven was nicely full  something I always aim for (I only made this cake to save the environment officer I swear!!)

Roast Chicken stuffed with dillisk and fresh garlic with Wicklow leaves

You’ll need:

1 organic chicken

1 small handful dillisk – this you’ll get in your healthfood shop and apart from the saltiness it has lots of healthy properties

4 heads fresh garlic

Butter

5 or 6 large potatoes

A few sage leaves if you have them

70gr baby salad leaves or whatever salad leaves you have

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 scant teaspoon honey

First off roughly chop the garlic including the green steams. Tear a small handful of dillisk then mix the two together in a bowl with a glug of rapeseed oil. Use this mix to stuff the cavity then rub some more oil into the bird’s skin. Cover and pop it into the oven at Gas mark 6. Peel, chop and parboil the spuds then add them to the tray along with a few sage leaves. After an hour uncover the chicken. Continue cooking for another 20 minutes then carefully take the garlic and dillisk out of the bird and spread it on the tray. This is to fully cook the garlic but, to stop it burning turn down the heat slightly. Continue roasting until the bird is fully cooked(this will vary with the size of your chicken). When your chicken is cooked, take it out of the oven and let it sit in a warm place for at least 20 minutes. Try and get the garlic and dillisk off the tray too at this stage but the spuds can stay put and go back in the oven. While the chicken is resting, wash and dry the salad. When you’re ready to eat make a dressing by whisking the oil, vinegar and honey together. Serve and devour!!

PS. Be sure and save the bones for stock. Simply cover them in water in a pot along with a bay leaf (nothing else as it’s all Irish this week), bring to the boil then simmer for about an hour. Drain and keep in your fridge or freeze.

The rhubarb fool

You’ll need:

1 bunch of rhubarb

Apple syrup

3 apples – peeled and sliced

Butter

250 ml Cream

Get the apples in the oven first as they take the longest. A low heat of say, Gas mark 4 is best but I wouldn’t put the oven on just for them so if you’ve got something in on a higher heat throw them in too on a lower shelf if you’ve got a rubbish oven like me or just keep a good eye on them. Spread on a dish or baking tray before they do in add a good chunk of butter, a drizzle of apple syrup (sugar will do if you don’t have this), cover and away they go. They’ll take about 2 hours.

Prepare the rhubarb by washing and chopping it into 1 inch chunks.It can go in at a higher temperature (Gas 5) but will do fine at a lower one – just takes longer. Cover and roast for about 20 minutes then check. It should be nearly done at this stage and you can put it back uncovered for the last few minutes. You want it nice and tender but not mush. Let it cool down completely then blitz with your blender adding more apple syrup to taste. Stick in the freezer to firm up slightly for about 30 minutes. Finely chop the apples and set aside. To finish the fool off whip your cream then fold in the rhubarb and apple. Ideally you don’t want everything mixed together so you end up with creamy rhubarb. The aim cream with rhubarb through it. Do your best it’ll taste great either way. Decant your fools into the prettiest glasses you have and stick in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.Yummmmmmy!!

A few other things……

As I said, the Healy’s harvested lemon verbena for us which you can boil up for tea. We also got a limited amount of sage which I tried to distribute across all the bags but there just wasn’t enough so a few of you are without. The sage was for having with the chicken and spuds but also I thought that the Jerusalem artichokes would be lovely fried up with it (along with some bacon!). Up to you…

Haloumi salad

For at least a portion of the day you don’t need a jacket. It’s summer. Officially!! This week’s cucumber seems perfect. I used it as part of a salad to go with some panfried  haloumi. Haloumi, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Cypriot cheese you cook. It can be grilled but I find a light dusting of seasoned flour then a minute or two on a lightly oiled pan til golden is the best way forward. It’s extremely delish but there’s a catch – you have to eat it pretty much straight away (one of the reasons you won’t find it on restaurant menus). It goes tough otherwise. It also squeaks in your mouth which is a big selling point in our house. The salad you eat with it is a moveable feast. Simple and green works well especially as we have such lovely baby leaves from the Healys. I made one with fennel, grated carrot, cucumber very salty greek olives. Very tasty but don’t hang about, it’s best straight off the pan.

A summer salad with pan-fried haloumi

You’ll need:

1 block of haloumi cheese sut into about 7 or 8 slices

1 heaped tablespoon flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper

1 bulb fennel (roughly 300gr) trimmed and finely chopped

1 large carrot grated

Half cucumber cut into chunks

1/2 bunch scallions washed, trimmed and chopped

1 good handful of black olives torn

2 large handfuls salad leaves – whatever you fancy

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

A scant teaspoon honey

First of all prepare the veg then toss everything together in a bowl and set aside. Make the dressing by mixing the oil, vinegar and honey together with a pinch of salt. Taste and add a little more vinegar if you think it needs. You want a bit of sharpness to cut through the cheese. When you’re ready to eat, dress the salad then heat a little oil in a pan. Dip the haloumi into the flour, shake off any excess then pan fry for about 2 minutes on each side until golden. Serve the cheese on top of or beside the salad and (hopefully!!) eat in the sunshine.

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

Rhubarb love

April 18, 2011

Chopped rhubarb

Of all the things that the seasons throw at us I think I love rhubarb the best. Bogstandard in this part of the world yet somehow completely exotic, there’s nothing like it. I especially love that it’s not around all the time (even if I do keep a stash in the freezer) and when I see those pink and green stems (a great colour combination always as far I’m concerned) it sets me on a path of all day mulling over what I might do with it – a crumble? well, you gotta, it’s just so superior to any other fruit, as a compote at the bottom of creme brûlée ? – unmissable especially because it’s Paul’s dessert star turn so all I have to do is show up and eat. Cordial and/or cocktails – well it would be rude not too, it’s seasonal after all plus Crackbird’s rhubarb lemonade has me addicted. Cheesecake is my most recent fixation but it’s a work in progress so stay tuned for that one. Perhaps the best place to start is stewed with Greek yoghurt. Some nice biscuits take this to the next level but are not essential. I went in search of gingery tuile style ones the other evening in Fallon and Byrne and came back with Cinnamon Sticks from Wicklow Fine Foods. Lovely. Those ginger thins they sell in Ikea also work brilliantly.

Rhubarb and Yogurt

Rhubarb is really fab with oily fish. The logic is simple, all that sourness cuts right through the oil. I love it with pan-fried with that very Irish should be staple – oatmeal coated mackerel. You can do a simple compote of stewed rhubarb with a little sugar or you can step it up a little with the addition of some cinnamon and star anise (there it is again) and you’ve got something very special and it’s dinner party time. I’ve got gorgeous baby leaves in from the Healy’s farm in Co. Wicklow and that’s all you need alongside.

Mackarel and Rhubarb

Pan-fried mackerel with oatmeal with a spiced rhubarb compote (for 2)

You’ll need:

2 large or 4 small  mackerel fillets

1 cup oatmeal

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

For the compote

200gr  chopped rhubarb

1 Cinnamon stick

5 star anise

The juice of 1 orange

4 heaped tablespoons brown sugar

Begin by making the compote. Put all the ingredients in a pot over a low heat until the rhubarb collapses and thickens to a nice heavy consistency. This will take about 15 minutes. Allow the compote to cool, fish out the cinnamon stick and anise then set aside.

Rhubarb and spices

To do the fish, season the oatmeal with salt and pepper then coat each fillet. Heat some oil on the pan, add the fillets then fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden. Serve with the compote and some salad immediately.

Wild garlic leaves

I heard about these and couldn’t resist. Because they are wild they can’t be certified organic but they come from woodland on Denis Healy’s organic farm. These garlic leaves are also known as ramsons or bear’s garlic (kids got a real kick out this one) and they grow in deciduous woods so if you like today’s lot foraging for more would be easy but make sure you don’t pick lily of the valley instead – the leaves look very similar but are poisonous!!!

Flavourwise, think delicate garlic so you can  be generous. Raw they can go into salads and omelette while pan-fried they make a great sidedish.Tossed on the pan with chorizo they really come to life…

Wild garlic pesto

They make great pesto where they take the place of both the basil and the garlic although if you like yours very punchy you can throw in a clove or two aswell. I didn’t and the result was a bit hit. Before I put the pasta on we picked at it with some crackers and bread and it proved just a bit too moreish – we nearly didn’t make it to dinner! Luckily, the recipe below makes enough for at least two dinners for four (last night’s leftovers were topped up with oil in a jar) plus lots of dips.

Pesto with wild garlic leaves

You’ll need:

90gr garlic leaves

250 ml extra virgin olive oil

50gr pinenuts

50gr Parmesan cheese

50gr Pecorino cheese – if you can’t get this don’t panic, just use more Parmesan.

Maldon salt

Remove the thicker stems from the garlic leaves then wash and dry them (salad spinner does a great job)  Roughly chop the leaves then add the pinenuts, a generous amount of Maldon and the oil. Blast with your handblender til the leaves are broken down. With a spoon mix in the cheeses. Taste and add more salt or oil if you think it needs it. That’s it – another 10 minutes for the pasta and dinners ready. Yay!!