August 1, 2013
This week’s aubergines make great pastas. The trick is to cook them slowly so they sweeten up nicely and any bitterness dissipates. They end up achingly mellow and tender. Tomatoes are an obvious cohort and really you can’t go wrong with this combination. The sauce below takes a little time but it couldn’t be easier and you will be generously rewarded with a super moreish result especially if you track some basil leaves down and scatter over the finish dish for a final heady perfume. Yum yum yum!!!!!!!!!!!
I should also say, by the way, that this is stellar with any simple pan-fried fish or meat.
Aubergine and Basil Pasta
2 medium small onions
1/2 head garlic
300gr aubergines (about what you have in this week’s bag)
1-2 tins tomatoes (this is a moveable feast. 1 will make enough for 2-3 people and 2 will feed up to 6)
A handful of basil leaves
Roughly chop your onions and saute over a low heat in plenty of olive oil. Dice the aubergines add to the pan. Toss everything well adding more Olive Oil to stop things sticking. Keep things moving and when the aubergines start to soften and turn a golden brown you can throw in the garlic and a little more Oil if you think it needs it. Allow the garlic to completely soften then add the tomatoes, a generous pinch of sugar (takes away any bitterness that you might get from the tomatoes) and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat a little and cook for another 20 minutes (30 if you’re using 2 tins of tomatoes). Serve with the pasta of your choice and some Parmesan or Pecorino and some torn Basil leaves.
The gorgeous Red Russian Kale in your bags this week was grown for us by Mick Gordan and it’s absolutely packed full of nutrients. Have it steamed, stir-fried (with lots of garlic) or boiled. If you want to try something special, chorizo and kale are a match made in heaven and Nigella Lawson’s kale with chorizo topped with a poached egg is the perfect example. It’s lunch, dinner or tea in 10 minutes and it couldn’t be any moreish, a complete treat. The chorizo secretes its lovely spicy oil when gently fried and this is your sauce.You simply wash and shred your Kale, then slowly fry small slices of Chorizo in a teeny drop of oil for about 5 minutes releasing the oil. Poach an egg, toss the Kale with the chorizo in the pan then serve on a plate topped with the egg (runny yolk of course because adds lovely richness to the dish. Serve it straight up or with crusty bread.
In between the showers, this week’s peaches will be perfect on the barbecue – split them in half, barbecue then serve with some mascarpone whipped with cream and spiked with a little vanilla.
Have a brilliant long weekend,
July 5, 2013
This is the kind of thing you might be served in the south of France in the summer and everything points to a south of France style weekend (woohoo!!!). It’s a cinch to throw together and all the ingredients are to hand and most of all it’s really tasty. Enjoy.
New Potatoes and french beans with pesto (for 2 as a main)
1k New potatoes
150gr French beans
For the pesto:
A large handful basil with the tougher stalks removed
3-4 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons pinenuts
A generous pinch Maldon salt
3-4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan (vegans can skip this as I did recently and it tasted just as good)
A generous slug of your best olive oil
First of all wash your potatoes and drop them into boiling water. If there’s a variety of sizes start with the bigger ones then add the smaller ones after a few minutes so they’re ready at the same time. Top and tail the beans then steam for about 3-4 minutes. Be sure and keep them al dente. When they’re done rinse in cold water and set aside.
To make the pesto put blend the basil, oil, garlic and pinenuts with a handblender. Don’t make it too smooth, a bit of texture is nice. Finally stir in the cheese and salt. Taste and add more oil or salt as needed.
When the potatoes are ready, let them cool down a bit then roughly chop the larger ones and mix with the beans. Top with a dollop of pesto and lots of black pepper.
Have a brilliant weekend,
June 28, 2013
With the years I find that rather than simply offering me produce more and more suppliers ask me what I want them to grow. What joy! The list is long and, and given our inclement climate, a little aspirational. Every year we try different things with varying degrees of success and slowly but surely the range of Irish organic varieties expands.
Kale is generally not a problem (although for some reason there was a national shortage this spring) but the coarse curly stuff has always left me non-plussed. It’s healthy. Sure. Actually it’s fantastically healthy – more antioxidants than you can shake a stick at. But it needs work to compensate for all that chewiness. I prefer its altogether more sophisticated (and just as healthy) cousin the Black Tuscan variety and our suppliers have been trying it out. Up first this year is Oliver Kelly’s.
It doesn’t disappoint. If you want to keep things simple toss it on the pan with some garlic and you’ve got a tasty side. Or, start with a couple of hunks of chorizo and top with a poached egg for the ultimate moreish yet pretty healthy supper. It can also be juiced but be warned – this is not for the faint hearted (although you can practically feel yourself getting younger as you drink it!).
This week’s recipe offers no such challenge -super- tasty and comforting it’s also easy peasy. Sautéed new potatoes tossed with a fiery mix of chorizo and sun-ripened tomatoes (it being summer and all) and wilted kale. It’s a dish that wouldn’t turn it’s nose up at a sprinkling of feta or a dollop of creme fraiche. You gotta balance out the juicing, right?
A dish of Oliver Kelly’s Black Tuscan Kale with new potatoes, vine tomatoes and chorizo
500gr new potatoes
A little chilli (as much as you like)
100gr chorizo, cut into half moons
4 fat cloves garlic
200gr black tuscan kale roughly shredded
Scrub the potatoes and cut them into large bite-size pieces. Bring to the boil then simmer til tender then drain. Heat some olive oil in a pan. Add the potatoes and saute over a medium heat til golden.
While the the potatoes are frying, heat a little olive oil in another pan. Add the garlic, toss for a minute then throw in the chorizo. After another couple of minute add the tomatoes and a pinch of Maldon. Toss everything over a brisk heat until the tomatoes have collapsed. Turn down the heat a little and let everything simmer for 2-3 minutes then turn the heat back up and throw in the kale. Allow the kale to wilt then turn off the heat.
At this stage the spuds should be done. Let these rest on some kitchen paper for a moment before mixing them with the tomatoes and kale. As I said a sprinkle of feta or a drizzle of creme fraiche or sour cream would be nice before you serve. Enjoy!!!
June 25, 2013
I know I’ve been rubbish with recipes of late and I’m sorry. It’s just been a bit hectic. This week (at the eleventh hour as usual!!) I’m going to share 2 quickies that are perfect for summer snacks and lunches. Both are with beetroot that superfood that we all should eat so much of.
First up, a moreish beetroot hummus with toasted spices. It’s a recipe I found in that new Cook mag the Guardian on Saturday does. The colour is quite unbelievable (and definitely one of the best things about it – think Barbie on steroids). I’ll stick a photo on the blog later.
Beetroot Hummus with toasted spices and seeds
250gr cooked beetroot, peeled
1 tin of chick peas -rinsed and drained with the skins removed
3 fat cloves garlic chopped
3 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon ground coriander
A glug of olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Lightly toast the sesame and cumin seeds on the pan then set aside. Put everything else in a blend then blast til you get the consistency you like. Drizzle with a little oil and top with the seeds.
Next up, a simple salad thrown together the other night with some chives and toasted sunflower seeds that proved a hit when we had it with quinoa and Asparagus, Moro kebabs, salted yogurt, baked feta, and mixed leaves and then again when I ate the remain with brown rice.
Beetroot salad with toasted sunflower seeds and chives with a honey balsamic dressing
300gr beetroot (what you have in this week’s bag)
A handful of sunflower seeds
A small handful of chives
For the dressing
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 scant teaspoon whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Cover the beetroot in water in a pot, bring to the boil then simmer til tender (this will take at least 30 minutes depending on the size). When they’re cooked drain and allow to cool down then peel.
Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together with a pinch of Maldon salt then set aside.
Toast the sunflower seeds on a pan til starting to change colour then leave to cool down. Dice the beetroot and toss with dressing. Add the sunflower seeds and finally chop the chives and throw those in.
Enjoy and have a brilliant week,
We are well into asparagus season so I thought I’d share our favorite recipe this year as so many of you got asparagus this week. Like most of finer things in life simplicity is the way forward (I know I say this a lot but it is!!!).
A simple steaming, followed by a drizzle of olive oil or some butter, crushed Maldon…………… yum! Chop up your spears and toss them with pasta and Parmesan and a squirt of lemon for the ultimate in Italian refinement. Have them for breakfast week with eggs…….all they need is a creamy foil to really come alive.
I have a taste for the charred which I got years ago from a chef I worked with in Barcelona and I often cook my asparagus this way.
Use a griddle pan getting it nice and hot. Add the asparagus turning them when they char. This takes a minute or two depending how hot the pan is. When you have your snazzy stripes, add a little oil and some crushed Maldon salt and shake the pan vigorously. Turn down the heat a bit and cover for a minute and allow the asparagus to steam a little and cook a bit more which should get them nicely al dente.
After this, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil and a spritz of lemon juice on them then some shavings of a nice hard cheese. Parmesan or Pecorino are obvious choices but a nicely matured Manchego also works really well. You don’t need loads just a little bit to add interest. As is it’s a picky starter to have while dinner is coming. This week’s recipe is what you do when you’ve got more people around and/or you want a proper starter. Serve the asparagus on a bed of Marc Michel’s amazing mixed leaves and add chopped walnuts and honey to the dressing. Simple but really gorgeous and well worth doing to showcase one of summer’s most popular varieties………….
A salad of char-grilled asparagus with aged Manchego on a bed of Wicklow leaves with a Walnut lemon dressing
A bunch of asparagus
100gr mixed leaves – washed, dried and ready to go.
40gr aged Manchego (or Parmesan) shavings
For the dressing:
4 tablespoons olive oil
The juice of ½ lemon
A handful walnuts
A teaspoon of runny honey
Chop half the walnuts quite finely and the other half into small pieces and set aside for later.
Trim the tough ends of the asparagus – usually about an inch is more than enough. Heat a griddle pan. Add the asparagus and griddle until stripes appear then turn over and griddle on the other side. When both sides are done, add a little olive oil and a crushed Maldon to the pan and toss over the heat for a minute before turning down the heat and covering. Allow the asparagus to cook for another 2 minutes before removing them from the heat.
Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with the lemon juice, honey and the more finely chopped nuts and a pinch of crushed Maldon. Lay the asparagus on the salad leaves and scatter the shaving of cheese on top.
Drizzle the dressing over this then add the remaining more coarsely chopped nuts. Serve with some crusty bread and sunshine 😉
Have a brilliant weekend,
This week we have more of Mick Gordon’s brilliant spring onions. In our house they’ve been working their way into pretty much everything we eat for the past few weeks – buckwheat noodles with tofu, coriander and peanuts for lunch yesterday. Another noodle salad with prawns, tons of (Mick’s) spinach, coriander and a ponzu. rice wine vinegar and honey dressing a few nights earlier (no soy as we’d run out which I thought would be disaster but it turned out to be a blessing as it made everything fantastically fresh and summery). Then today’s lunch of avocado with Marc Michel’s lovely lettuce, some leftover fish and yet another impromptu ponzu, honey dressing.
All I can say is, play around, don’t waste anything. Every bit can be used. Chop the green bits into any salad or use as a garnish (remember the darker the colour the better it is for you) and the whites can be thrown into salads or minced into dressings. It goes without saying that a quiche or tart with these guys would be amazing. If you can’t bear the thought of dealing with pastry (or maybe I’m projecting) a fritatta is a good compromise as I suggested last week. Gruyere, goat’s cheese or a good cheddar are all good partners here……..
There are other ways to go……… our recent arctic temperatures had me looking for ways to get the oven on so I decided to roast up the onions and serve them with a sun-dried tomato and roasted hazelnut pesto. Yummmmmmmmmm! The pesto is beyond moreish and a cinch to make. Make a double quantity and keep in the fridge for sambos and dips. We brought a tub to Africa day yesterday and it kept everyone big and small happy.
After about 30 minutes in a hot oven the onions wilt to a soft, sweet luscious mess which is offset beautifully by the slightly spikey pesto. Serve with bread or wedges of polenta. Add some goat’s cheese and a green salad and you’ve got lunch or a light supper for two sorted.
Roasted Spring Onions with Sun-dried Tomato and toasted hazelnut pesto
1 bunch spring onions
For the pesto
A handful toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small handful parsley
1 clove garlic
A pinch of Maldon salt
Give the onions a clean then put on a baking tray, cover, drizzle with olive oil and place in a hot oven to roast for half an hour.
To make the pesto, roughly chop the garlic then blast with the other ingredients to a rough paste
When the onions are ready, serve alongside the pesto with plenty of napkins for all the drips!
Have a brilliant week,
May 17, 2013
Hey, How’s it going? We’re pretty busy with our new Summer Healthy Eating Programme detox and the longer days are definitely coming in handy but you couldn’t call it summer. This afternoon’s been lovely though…..
Vegwise, we’re still in the middle of what’s called the “hungry gap” here in Ireland. It’s the time just before all the summer varieties really kick in. The winter varieties are well and truly finished and there’s a slow trickle of new varieties starting to come through. We’ve already those gorgeous salad greens from Marc Michel and Denis Healy, amazing coriander from Mick Gordon last week and this week Mick brought us his fab spring onions.
Now the only question is what to do with them – champ? pad thai? fresh in salads? Slow roasted? Maybe dipped in romanesco (The Natural Sauce Company based here in Dublin do a great one) . Last night I made a lovely fritatta with the bulbs which I gently sautéed in butter. 20 minutes will get them gorgeously melting then some of your favourite cheese (I used a Pecorino but it’s up to you). With the bunch in this week’s bag you could use 6 eggs for the fritatta and feed up to 5 people. Add some spuds and you’d feed 8. Depends on how many come to dinner…. Also fritatta keeps well (but outside the fridge as cold does something strange to it) and makes fab sambos so you can never make enough in my book.
I used the rest of the onions i.e. the green stems to make a salad along with this week’s beautiful spinach and flat beans. Tempted as I was to toss those beans with chorizo after a light steaming they were so spanking fresh that it seemed a shame to waste their lovely nutiness so I used them raw for this salad and was very glad I did.
I’ve been playing around with nut dressings of late – roughly grinding them, then adding them to dressings so you end up with a paste more than a dressing. It’s great, really adds lots of crunch and flavour, aswell as all the amazing goodness that nuts and seeds have to offer. For this dressing I toasted sunflower seeds then stirred them into olive oil and lemon juice. To counteract any bite from the onions I added a little honey. Yum Yum. The whole thing works so well with the fritatta but try it with any veggie main, we’re addicted – Walnuts in a dressing for asparagus in particular is a match made in heaven.
The Salad Recipe (if you can call it that)
A couple of handfuls of spinach or any greens you like
A handful of flat beans topped and tailed then cut at an angle
A couple of spring onions (green part only)
For the dressing:
A handful sunflower seeds
Your best olive oil
Prepare the dressing by toasting the sunflower seeds on a dry pan til just starting to change colour. Allow to cool slightly then grind in your blender to a coarse texture – a few bits don’t matter at all and you definitely don’t want anything powdery.
Combine about 5 tablespoons olive oil with the juice of a lemon adding a pinch of Maldon salt and a scant teaspoon of honey. Stir in the sunflower seeds and mix to a paste. If things seem too thick add a little more oil. You want the consistency of a good pesto.
To put the salad together, toss the spinach with the beans and onions. Spoon the dressing on top along with a scattering of seeds. Serve with ……..anything!
Have a brilliant weekend,