Holidays!!!

August 1, 2012

Hi there,

We are lucky to heading off for a couple of weeks to my friend Katy’s place in Mallorca for some much needed down time. While I’m away one of our Home Organics’ foodies is going to be at the helm recipewise and you are in for a real treat. Ada Olpu is a Catalan who’s been here in Dublin for many years and she’s agreed to do some traditional Catalan recipes for us. We’ll be kicking off this week with Coca de ceba, a kind of flat bread covered in juicy carmelized onions you might have wondered about in bakeries in Barcelona. It’s a perfect pick me up for that late afternoon slump. Ada is something of a baking whiz so she’s the perfect person to fill you in on how to get it just right.  Next week there’ll be a masterclass in romesco that amazing sauce you only find in Catalunya (as far as I know!) and the week after Ada talks us through the great Catalan classic Escalivada. Enjoy!! x

Sarah

It’s all about the milk

February 11, 2012

Baby Lee

Many, many thanks for all the good wishes following Lee’s birth last Tuesday.  He’s a dream…….just as long as the milk supply is near. Brothers Dan and August have adjusted to the new order pretty well although Auggie (3 1/2 and total mammy’s boy) has wondered if Lee (or “it” as he calls him) will be “popping” back into my tummy anytime soon. Hmmm…….. Well, at least there’s been no violence and anyway Lee’s such a bruiser (10lbs 2 oz!!!!) he could probably defend himself pretty well. So I really should put that story about a baby being thrown out a window by his older brother out of head right?

You know all those recipes I say are a cinch, superfast to put together, will only take ten minutes? Well, at the moment they’re out. You’d think given I already have two, I’d remember – when you have a newborn you have no time for ANYTHING else and that includes cooking and sometimes even eating. Yes, there are the occasional ten minutes (like now) but it’s really only enough for a trip to loo or to throw on a load of laundry. Then Lee realises it’s been oh, 8 minutes since his last feed and starts mooching around. Paul might be able to keep him cool for a minute or two but just as I open the fridge door the cry goes up and that’s when I know I have about 1 minute to stuff my face and get back.

Needless to say, good stocks have been the key to my staving off starvation (ok, a bit dramatic but that’s how it feels) – a big log of goat’s cheese bought a couple of weeks back has been a life saver. It’s avocado season and I get through at least one of those a day, sometimes just spread on corn or oatcakes with a pinch of salt and a little balsamic.Then it’s stuff like sundried tomatoes, jalapenos, speck, prosciutto and spicey salami. They all get piled up on bread or crackers and wolfed. A chaser of a piece of dark chocolate and I’m back on the sofa.

Paul’s been doing all the other meals and we’ve had a lot of help. Everyone seems to know that with 2 young kids and a newborn all bets are off for at least a few months (or is that the next ten years?) so we’ve had any amount of lasagnes and casseroles delivered. When you’re feeding you are permenantly starving but I found that after a few days all the bacon sambos, lasagnes, pastries scored by Paul on the way home from the school run (plus we’ve been working our way through a stash of almond croissants he got me from the bakery on Moore street (the best in town) were just too heavy so I needed to get back to some kind of food normality.  For a proper injection of fresh stuff the guys have made juice a few times giving us a much-needed counterpoint to all the weightiness at dinnertime plus a big batch of quinoa I made a few days ago has made all the difference.

In the last few weeks I’d been working on recipes that I thought we could send you while I took a break. Then Lee arrived 2 weeks early (on time but as the others came so overdue I’d assumed I had all the time in the world). Some recipes have been worked out, even photographed while others are still in note form and still need revisions. Paul is back to work next week so there will be cooking and I can see myself sending out recipes at least sporadically for the upcoming months.We’ll just have to see how things pan out. I can hear other mothers saying yeah she’s just on a high after the birth, she’ll crash and burn over the next few weeks… there’s no way she’s going to do recipes. Well, maybe. I reckon if I do great and if I don’t it’s not the end of the world either.There are any amount of simple ideas on the blog and if anyone’s in doubt about what to do with their veg nine times out of ten most things taste deadly roasted in the oven……

Gotta go x

Cabbage with toasted coconut and lime

Thank goodness it’s (nearly) Friday. The daily routine of up and down to work and school has proved exhausting this week. I’m wrecked! Being 5 and half months pregnant is NOT helping, I’m just so tired these days and I still have at least another 4 months to go! Sorry about the rant but the reason I bring it up is because this week’s recipe takes about 10 minutes to prepare which is about the limit timewise of what I can spend in front of the cooker most of the time most evenings. Peppers diced up quite finely and fried up with finely shredded green cabbage in coconut oil then tossed with toasted coconut. Tasty, satisfying yet nice and light. It’s not really a full meal although with a bowl of brown rice you’re nearly there and it makes a great snack at any time of the day. It would make a great add on to any Indian meal and Paul suggested serving it with some chicken or tofu satay which I can totally see working. Now if I can just get him on the case…

A quick dish of cabbage with toasted coconut                                      Cabbage

You’ll need:

Coconut (or vegetable) oil

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 green ramiro style pepper or 1/2 bell pepper finely diced

1 red ramiro pepper or 1/2 bell pepper finely diced

1/2 long red chili very finely diced

1 medium onion finely diced

1/2 head green cabbage  finely shredded

4 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut

Salt and pepper

To serve: A few wedges of lime

Heat a tablespoon coconut oil in a wok. Throw in the cumin seeds and toss quickly then add the peppers, onions and chili.

Peppers in the wok

Toss until the vegetables are nicely softened. Add the cabbage

Peppers with cabbage in the wok

Keep tossing until it has wilted and reduced in volume by about a third. Toast the coconut on a dry pan until it turns golden.This will happen quickly (about 20 seconds should do it) so keep a close eye on things. Stir about 3/4 of the coconut through the cabbage and sprinkle the rest on top.

Marc Michel Organic Life

On the face of it the timing of our walk on Marc Michel’s farm last Saturday wasn’t great. Paul and I had been out the night before and as usual hadn’t had nearly enough sleep. It turns out it was the perfect antidote. The weather man had warned of storms but the day turned out to be pretty good for the most part although we did have to make a run for it towards the end of the walk. Many thanks to all those who came along – it was great to meet you all. Here are some snaps from the day….

We met up in Marc’s recently reopened farm shop where you can also buy some of his lovely food.

Menu at Marc Michel's organic life shop

Marc gave us some tea and we had some blueberry, almond and orange cake that I had made with the kids beforehand..

Blueberry, almond and orange cake

We headed off and saw the gorgeous flowers Marc’s been growing….

Flowers

Marc Michel in a field of flowers

Then we saw some veg! Cucumbers, courgettes and of course those amazing tomatoes……..

Cucumber   Vine tomatoesCourgettes

There was lots of chatting and Marc answered everyone’s questions..

Chatting on the farm

Tasting…..

Tasting a tomatoAnd the kids had a ball. Auggie and Guilia played in the dirt ………….

       ………….while Dan grabbed a tractor!

All in all, a brilliant way to spend the afternoon. Many,many thanks to everyone on the farm for making the walk so enjoyable.

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!

 

Pineapple sundae

Our mediterranean selections all have a bag of dried pineapple this week which makes a great snack when you’re on the move. They’re plenty sweet with just a a nice bit of bite. Bitter dark chocolate  really brings them to life. There are various way to do this. Standing up in your kitchen with a bar of good chocolate in one hand and a bag of dried pineapple in the other. Not the most elegant way to go admittedly, but always works for me. Or, you can melt some chocolate and dip your dried pineapple pieces in it. Let the chocolate harden and you’ve got a very superior partner for your afterdinner coffee. I decided to go a bit further yesterday and made a sundae with vanilla ice-cream and toasted coconut. Super easy to put together and  sooooo good.  You can serve  it in some pretty bowls or glasses (I used my old cava ones from the flea market in Barcelona) and you’ve got a great end to any dinner party.  

Pineapple and Coconut sundae with dark chocolate sauce (for 2)

You’ll need:

5 dried pineapple rings cut into smallish pieces

2 tablespoons toasted coconut slivers (I get these in the Hopsack but if you can’t track any down desiccated will do fine, just toast it gently on a dry pan first)

Vanilla ice cream

For the chocolate sauce:

60gr dark (70%) chocolate

60ml single cream.

Make the sauce first by slowly melting the chocolate into the cream over a low heat. Stir well and take off the heat once things have mixed together and you have the consistency of double cream. Dish out the ice-cream, sprinkle the pineapple slices on top then pour over the chocolate sauce. Finish with the toasted coconut. There…. told you it was easy!

Last month’s vegantastic cooking contest organised by Fiona Hannon was a great success and raised a whopping €945 for Simon. The idea was simple. Anyone could enter and as many as 40+ did. On the night the “judges” (i.e. public)  paid a few euro to get in, taste everything then nominate a favourite sweet and savoury dish. Needless to say it was hectic on the night. For me there was the initial panic about whether I was well enough prepared or organised (I wasn’t but it was grand) then the whole thing got going and  I started serving up mini portions of my entry to all the judges.There was a lot of milling around, chatting about ingredients and having the craic. Chuck, Mary and Margaret came down to support me which was great as I was a bit nervous. I’ve obviously done a lot of cooking in my time but nothing like this. I had brought my camera but the whole evening just seemed to fly by and there wasn’t any time to take any shots. I only caught my breath when all the food was gone. So, the photos you see of the night were taken by Iain Nash.

The winner, when it was finally announced, was a shock. It was me! Wow – I really hadn’t expected that. I made off  with a fantastic bag of goodies from one of my favourite shops, The Hopsack in Rathmines. Organic coconut oil, raw chocolate (am now addicted), dried shitake mushrooms, a bag of Natasha’s granola and lots more……… Brilliant.  Mary Doyle won the sweet section with her amazing Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Mini Cupcakes with ‘Cream Cheese’ frosting.

 

So, what did I make? Well, a brown rice salad. I know – doesn’t sound very exciting. It doesn’t even look like much.It’sthe dressing that really makes it -a moreish combo of  toasted sesame oil, lime juice and ginger. You can’t really fail with this mix can you? The other ingredients are a nutritionist’s dream – ripe avocado (lots of good oils) aduki beans (these guys cleanse the liver ) and sprouts.  When I say sprouts I don’t mean the brussels kind. These ones are basically seeds that have sprouted so they are still alive which means they’re packed with antioxidants which fight the signs of aging (always good!) as well as all kinds of phytoestrogens which help prevent cancer, heart disease,osteoporosis and menopausal symptoms. I used purple cress for the colour really but any kind will do. Alfalfa are probably the easiest to get hold of but you can of course make your own.

This salad is a doddle to put together especially if you’ve already cooked the rice.  As I’ve mentioned before, I usually cook rice  in bulk, about a kilo at a time, then use it to make all kinds of quick meals during the (usually insanely hectic) week. I like the shortgrained kind but feel free to use long grain or Basmati. Everyone always moans that brown rice takes all day to cook and yes, it does take longer than white but if you soak it first for about an hour (even 20 minutes will do if you’re short of time) the cooking time is halved and it makes it easier for your body to digest.

 

Brown rice and bean salad with avocado and sprouts with a toasted sesame, lime juice and ginger dressing (for one)

 You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice

1/2 cup of beans or lentils (I generally use adzuki beans but it’s really up to you)

1/2 red onion (white is fine I just like the colour of the red) chopped,

1 ripe avocado chopped,

1/2 tray sprouts

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds.

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon walnut or olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce or Tamari

1 level teaspoon of grated ginger

The juice of half lime (lemon is also great)

Begin by making the dressing. To do this simple combine all the ingredients, taste then add more lime juice if you think it needs it. To make the salad simply combine the rice, beans, onion and avocado. Toast the sesame seeds on a dry pan and mix them through. Dress and serve. If you want to make this in advance (it’s great for lunches) just leave out the sprouts and add them just before you serve.

 Enjoy and have a great week.

Thank you

February 17, 2011

 

 How beautiful is this cupcake??? Glauce Ferrari is a Brazilian journalist living here in Dublin and she bakes the most amazing vegan cupcakes. Her blog has so many gorgeous photos of her handiwork that it was a very tough call choosing the one you see here. They are all so cute! It’s no surprise she’s just won a style award. She blogs about her baking but there’s lots more on vegan cooking and eating in general. She has recently become a Home Organics customer and has been writing  about what she does with all her weekly delivery of  fruit and veggies. There are lots of great ideas plus a particularly fab spinach and broccoli risotto. Be sure and check them out. She bakes cakes to order and can be contacted through her All about…..(vegan) food! blog.

Aoife from I can has cook  is also a customer and to say she’s been cooking up a storm with our veggies is to put it (very) mildly ……… this girl is unstoppable!!! She also writes a foodie column for the Independent on Saturday and has a radio show on RTE 2 XM called Right Click Radio. Her most recent post is on this week’s Jerusalem artichokes and looks absolutely divine…

Another Aoife who deserves a big shout out is Aoife Barry from Adventures in veg  another fantastic vegan blog. She too writes on food for the Indo and has a show called Sweet Oblivion on RTE 2 XM. Aoife has been a customer of ours for ages and has been fantastic at spreading the word. 

Thanks to all three of you gals for putting our veggies to such great use. Keep those ideas coming!!

 

I was going to do a root vegetable soup recipe this week but when I saw our red cabbage coming in from the Healy’s farm in Wicklow I decided to change tack. They’re enormous!! Don’t worry though, they keep very well in the fridge even after you’ve cut into them.

Like all cabbage, the red kind is packed with iron, calcium, potassium and fibre and is also high in vitamins C, B1, B2. B3 and D.  I’ve always tended to use it in salads where it works really well with things like carrots, apple, pears, all kinds of nuts, avocado, goat’s cheese, feta , onion, Asian flavours like soy and mirin ….. Recently though, I’ve start cooking with it and find it works really well in soups and stirfries. As the weather’s turned so nippy my first recipe this week is for a kind of lentil soup/stew that is perfect for this kind of weather. It’s really simple to make and it’s a great way to get kids (big and small!) to eat loads of vegetables. As lentils are so nutritious (they also lower cholesterol I found out recently) this dish is a meal in itself, especially if you eat it with some brown rice. This recipe will give you enough for about 4 or 5 servings. Leftovers will freeze well or make a very quick lunch the next day.

I should say that the list of ingredients is not at all prescriptive but a guide – feel free to add any root veg you have lying around as well as celery, peppers and tomatoes. If you have spuds don’t add them until after the first half hour of cooking as they will fall apart and go to mush. Courgettes don’t really work as they just disintegrate and aubergines need too much precooking which just slows things down too much.

Chopped red cabbage

Puy Lentil Vegetable Soup

You’ll need:

Olive Oil

3 medium onions

3 medium carrots

200gr mushroom

1/2 head garlic

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried (don’t worry too much if you don’t have this)

A couple of bay leaves

1/2 large red cabbage or 1 small  one

1 tin chopped tomatoes

250gr Puy lentils (or any other kind you have)

2L vegetable stock (as usual I use Marigold)

As time is almost always of the essence for me, rather than preparing all the veg before I start, I chop and add the ingredients to the pot as I go.

So, begin by chopping your onions then saute over a low to medium heat in a generous amount of olive oil (ie enough to stop you having to stir things constantly). As the onions get going, dice your carrots and throw them in followed by the mushrooms (roughly chopped). Add some salt, the thyme and bay leaves and turn up the heat slightly to allow the veg to fry rather than sweat for a few minutes. Roughly chop your garlic and throw it in turning down the heat slightly. Shred the cabbage and add that too. Cook for a few more minutes then add the tomatoes. Rinse the lentils and throw them in along with the stock.

Allow things to come to the boil then turn down the heat and cover. Cook for about 50 minutes stirring occasionally.

To serve drizzle a little Sherry vinegar or sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

Another recent discovery for red cabbage has been stirfried with rice which goes well with fish, tofu or dahl. Either way, the red cabbage makes any dish look  gorgeous. I tend to cook some brown rice at the beginning of the week so I’ve always got something to take the panic out of cooking midweek. I prefer the shortgrain brown type which apart from being really, really good for you, has a delicious nutty flavour.  You’ll find it in your local healthfood shop (The Hopsack in Rathmines is my fav).

Red Cabbage & Rice

Stir-fried Red Cabbage with Ginger and toasted Pumpkin seeds(for 2)

You’ll need:

Enough brown rice for 2 people

2 medium onions                                                                            

1/2 red cabbage

4-5 cloves garlic roughly chopped

A piece of ginger about the size of your thumb peeled and minced

Fresh or dried chilli (optional)

A handful of pumpkin seeds

Begin by chopping the onions and shredding your cabbage. Heat some vegetable oil on the pan and throw on the onions and toss them over a medium to high heat for a few minutes. Add the Cabbage and continue to toss everything. Turn down the heat a bit and add the garlic and ginger along with a little chilli of you fancy some heat. Continue cooking until the cabbage has wilted and the garlic has softened.

Add the rice and continue cooking until it has warmed through then turn off the heat. Toast the pumpkin seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat until they have started to pop and change colour. Mix them through the rice along with a dash of soy sauce or tamari and serve.