tomatillos

Now this is something you don’t expect when we talk about local seasonal eating in Ireland. Tomatillos. Usually found in (good) Mexican food, these guys are also called tomates verdes (green tomatoes) and they make rather brilliant salsa. There’s very little chopping involved it’s just all the tomatillos in this week’s delivery (250gr) peeled of their papery husks cut in two and tossed into the blender with a couple of cloves of garlic and 1/2 chilli (the whole one if you like things really hot), a pinch of salt. Blast til you have a coarse puree then add half an onion finely chopped, a handful chopped coriander  and the juice of half a lime. Taste and add more lime or salt if you think it needs it and you’re good to go.

Tomatillo salsa

A step up and the way I really like to go, especially if you decide to make the burritos, is to char-grill all the ingredients before you blast and it goes something like this…..

Char-grilled tomatillo salsa

You’ll need:

250gr tomatillos (husked)

1 red chilli – of course if you have any fancier Mexican ones this is the time to bring them forth

2 fat cloves of garlic with the skin left on

1/2 onion finely chopped

A handful coriander chopped

1 lime

Salt

Heat your grill as hot as it will go and place the tomatillos, garlic and chilli on a baking dish under it. Grill until the skins start to blacken turning to ensure everything cooks evenly. Let things cool down then remove the top of the chilli (it’ll add bitterness) and take the skin off the garlic cloves then blast everything with a pinch of salt to a coarse . Add purée the onion and the juice of half the lime. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary then top with the coriander and serve.

Good nachos and beers mean you’ve Friday  evening snacks sorted  but  if you’re looking for dinner you’ve also made a good start. The sour note you get from fresh tomatillos works really well with fatty things like pulled pork and indeed meat in general and I found that the char-grilled version really complemented the honeyed starchiness of this week’s sweet potatoes.  I roasted them for maximum flavour then mashed them up and used this as a base which I spread on each burrito  followed by some grated Knockdrinna Sheep’s cheese, a generous amount of salsa, a few dollops of sour cream and generous handful of lettuce. Yummmmmmmmmmmm! It was a big hit and I reckon would be brilliant for big groups.

Roast Sweet Potato burritos with chargrilled tomatillo salsa and  Knockdrinna cheese( for 2)

You’ll need:

500gr sweet potatoes

olive oil

1 quantity char-grilled tomatillo salsa (see above)

1 tub sour cream

1 head lettuce

150gr Knockdrinna Sheeps cheese grated (goats would also work well)

4 burritos warmed

Heat the oven to gas mark 6 (200 degrees) .Cut the sweet potatoes lengthways, drizzle with olive oil and place cut side down on a roast tin and place in the oven and roast until tender (about 50-60 minutes). While the sweet potatoes are roasting get all the other stuff ready so you’ll be ready when they are. When the potatoes come out of the oven let them cool slightly before scooping them out of their skins and roughly mashing them. Everything else on the table? Beers out of the fridge? Dinner is served!

Have a brilliant week,

Sarah

Fried cauliflower

As you know, we don’t do a whole lot with cauliflower in this country with the Indian aloo gobi being as adventurous as most of us get usually. A few years ago I discovered the joys of roasting it with lemon, garlic and chili and that was a real game changer. I had no idea it could go in the oven (turns out you can roast broccoli too but we’ll leave that for another day).

Moro East

I was flicking through Moro East, one of our favourite cookbooks which got an outing on Monday night when we made lamb kofte (pg 234 and yum!) and found this week’s fried spiced cauliflower recipe. You may be familiar with the other Moro books, they’re all pretty Spanish/Muslim Mediterranean based.  This one is about the produce they grew in a London allotment they had which was built over for the Olympics so is no more. The recipes, while Mediterranean, are more Turkish, Cypriot and Kurdish in flavour. There are tons of interesting ideas for veg and very often they’re quite simple. As always with the Moro books, the photography is gorgeous. It’s often found off the shelf and lying around in our kitchen as it’s a great one for ideas.

Spices

Moro style fried spiced cauliflower

You’ll need:                                                                                        

1 medium head cauliflower – stalk removed, broken into florets

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 fennel seeds

8 peppercorns

Sunflower or olive oil for frying

Maldon salt

Lemon wedges

Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle then set aside.

Grinding spices

Pour 1cm depth oil into a large pan or sauce pan and heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and fry on all sides until tender and slightly golden. This will take about 10 minutes. The Moro recipe warns that the oil will spit but I didn’t find this was a problem. When the cauliflower is ready drain on kitchen paper and season with Maldon salt.

Mix the spices with a little salt and scatter half the mixture over the cauliflower. Serve with lemon wedges on the side and the remaining spices in a little dish for dunking as required. Highly addictive!!!

Have a brilliant weekend,

Sarah

Chorizo and rocket sandwich

If you’re going out over the next week or so and I’m guessing you are, this week’s recipe sorts the what to eat the morning after the night before perfectly. Pan-fried chorizo with garlic mayo and rocket on ciabatta – heaven in a sandwich. It has not failed me yet. I used to get this from Ochos our local Spanish joint which sadly closed up a couple of months back. And while yes, after a hard night out it is always good to be served breakfast this one really is a cinch to put together yourself with the bonus that dressing is optional which is definitely a fair trade in my mind…..

Pan-fried chorizo with garlic mayo and rocket on lightly toasted ciabatta

You’ll need:

1 chorizo sausage weighing about 100gr – try to get a softish one

2 tablespoon of mayonnaise

1 fat clove garlic

A spritz of lemon juice

A large handful rocket washed and dried

A little onion very finely sliced (optional)

Ciabatta or any other soft crusty bread you prefer

Heat a little oil on the pan, slice the chorizo down the middle and fry over a very gentle heat until it softens and begins to darken on the outside. While the sausage is frying crush the garlic and mix it through the mayo along with a spritz of lemon juice. Taste and adjust as you like. To put the sandwich together, lightly toast the bread then spread with mayo, cover with rocket and a little onion if you’re using it then top with the chorizo and serve.

This week’s bags all have a massive head of kale in from Denis Healy’s farm.  Shredded and pan-fried with slices of chorizo then topped with a poached egg a la Nigella Lawson makes a great quick supper. Otherwise, gently fry it up in butter with lots of garlic then stir through creamy mash for a delicious colcannon.

This week’s fennel makes brilliant gratins or there’s a lovely soup with orange you might like to try while my beetroot will be slow-roasted then served up with a drizzle of walnut oil and balsamic – Yum!!

Don’t forget to let us know about any of the extras you might be needing for Christmas by next Friday and be sure to give us a call if you’re not sure about anything.

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

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!

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!!

Finally it’s Friday and I am so ready for the weekend. We’ve had visitors over from Barcelona and have been flat out eating, drinking and going to bed late then getting up to Dan to school, Auggie to the creche then ourselves to work. Bleary-eyed doesn’t come close to how I’ve been feeling these last few days. I’m ready for a beer, a movie and not much else this evening. This week’s recipe is for having with that Friday night beer – mini sweet potato cakes.

There’s nothing like fried food with beer but these aren’t heavy or greasy. I use those Japanese breadcrumbs to coat the cakes so they’re lovely and crispy (once your oil is fresh you’ll get a good result with any breadcrumbs though). Lightly perfumed with cumin and coriander seeds with a little Feta for tang, these guys are perfect for munching on while you relax and figure the weekend out. We’re getting some proper kitchen cupboards in next Tuesday so there’s all kinds of stuff to be done to get ready for that including yet another trip to Ikea, deciding on paints (it’s Mannix Flynn green on one wall then the others will be an off-white and boy is that proving tricky- does the world really need that many off whites?) plus Paul’s playing tunes in town tomorrow night ……..phew!!! I don’t think there are enough hours for all this but I’ll figure out how it’s all going to happen tomorrow.

These cakes are easy. Steam or boil the spud, fry up an onion with the spices and chilli then mix the two together with a little yogurt (takes some of the sugary intensity out of the sweet potato) and Feta. Then you make them into little cakes. Something a little shy of macaroon size is perfect for beers but you can make them a little bigger if you like aswell.

This week’s gorgeous baby salad leaves from the Healys in Wicklow picked at the crack of dawn for us (thanks a million guys!!) are a perfect complement. Serve the cakes on a bed of leaves which you can drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses (I’m so loving this stuff) or lemon juice. The final touch is some pomegranate seeds. Like sweet potatoes, pomegranate is big in the Middle East and fits right in with these flavours plus it looks so pretty and I’m such a sucker for good colours. Our mediterranean selections all have one this week (it’s the leathery thing you might be wondering about).

To extract the fruit the trick is to roll them on a flat surface before you cut into them. Apply some pressure while you do this but not too much or you’ll bruise the seeds. This loosens up the seeds inside. Quarter the fruit, then simply loosen the ruby seeds from the creamy pith and you’re set. They are fab in any fruit salad and make a great addition to any cous cous dish – on Wednesday night we had one with lots of parsley, Feta and some toasted pumpkin seeds – gorgeous.

Crispy sweet potatoes cakes

You’ll need:

600gr sweet potatoes

2 small onion (or 1 medium) finely chopped

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 green chilli finely chopped

Olive oil

2 tablespoons natural yogurt

1/2 lemon

60gr Feta cheese

Plain flour

1 egg

Breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying

To serve:

Pomegranate molasses or lemon wedges

Begin by peeling the sweet potatoes. Chop them into large chunks then boil or steam for about 12 minutes until nice and tender. While they’re cooking get the onions on a pan over a medium heat with olive oil. Put the spices in a morter and roughly crush them. You don’t need to do much, just enough to release the lovely perfume of the coriander really. When the onions start to soften, add the spices and green chilli. Continue cooking until the onions have properly softened and started to change colour. At this stage your sweet potato will be done. Take it off the heat and let it cool down a bit before you mash it adding salt and pepper as you go. Stir in the onions, yougurt and a good spritz of lemon juice. Mix well then crumble in the Feta. Taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs it. At this stage you can get going on the frying or cover the mix and keep it for later in the fridge. If you’re ready to go form little medallions then dip first in flour then beaten egg and finally breadcrumbs. Heat about 3cm oil in the pan and when it’s ready slip the patties in and fry until golden on each side. This will take about 2 minutes. When they’re done sit them on kitchen paper to get rid of excess oil then open those beers and sit back.

As I said, a salad of green leaves and pomogranate seeds is a gorgeous foil for these cakes. Wash and dry the leaves and pile onto a plate. Top with the seeds and a drizzle of pomogranate molasses or lemon juice. Yum yum!!!

Funny looking carrots

The carrots in your bag this week are unwashed (boo!) but don’t neglect them. Peel them and you’ll see that underneath they are a dark crimson, almost beetroot, colour on the outside then orangey yellow underneath. They have way more beta-carotene than the normal ones so are definitely worth eating sooner rather than later. Not much different tastewise, maybe a little sweeter. Just thought it might be nice to check them out. They come from Philip Dreaper’s farm in Birr Co. Offaly.

Have a great weekend,

Sarah