Quesadillas

I’m a huge fan of all things Mexican and I think a big part of that comes from the simplicity. Beans, chillies, avocado, tomatoes, coriander, sour cream and cheese are the basic building blocks. You can use as many or as few as you like. For main meals I often use them all (and some more)  but for snacks I pare things down for bites that are easy to put together but more importantly, fast. During the week speed is all. We get home after work, school and creche between 2 or  3 and everyone is STARVING. I always keep a stash of corn tortillas for superfast lunches (yes, yes, I know you can make these so easily but believe me nobody is in the mood for anything that takes more than 5 minutes.

More often than not, I make quesadillas. First of all you throw a tortilla on the pan (no oil) with a handful of grated cheese (cheddar works for me but really any hard cheese will do). Toast over a lowish heat and let the cheese melt. Spread guacamole and/or a tomato salsa over the cheese then top with another tortilla.

Corn tortilla on the pan

Flip over so the top tortilla gets toasted. Take off the pan, quarter then eat with a little sour cream on the side.

That’s a very basic version. After that the combinations are pretty much endless. Here are just a few….

  • roughly chopped jalapeno peppers
  • scallions if they’re around (onions are a bit too hardcore so I don’t bother with them)
  • A generous sprinkling roughly chopped coriander
  • Griddled courgettes
  • Strips of red peppers – fresh or roasted
  • Refried beans (from a tin)
  • Rice from the fridge
  • Sweetcorn or, ideally sweetcorn salad with roasted peppers and lime
  • Salad leaves – anything bar rocket (the flavour doesn’t really go). If I’m using salad I either serve it on the side with a spritz of lime or, instead of using 2 tortillas I use just the one taking it off the pan when the cheese melts, then I add the salad and whatever else I’m having and serve it  folded.
  • Greens like this week’s rainbow chard finely chopped or spinach
  • scrambled egg
  • Any leftover cooked chicken or fish

There are probably lots of other things I just can’t think of at the moment but you can see that it’s a flexible kind of thing. The 2 “recipes” (and I really use that term loosely) I can give you for all this are for tomato salsa and guacamole. Both can be as rustic or as refined as you like. My versions tend to be pretty rustic -after all there’s only so much chopping you can do in the minute it takes the tortilla to toast…

Tomato salsa

You’ll need:

A couple of perfectly ripe tomatoes roughly chopped  Tomato salsa ingredients

1/2 small onion finely chopped

1/4 fresh red chilli minced (take out some of the seeds if you don’t want things too fiery)

1 lime

A handful coriander roughly chopped

Salt

Combine the tomatoes, onions, coriander and chilli. Add a pinch of salt and lime juice to taste.

Guacamole (my version that is)

Guacamole

You’ll need:

1 ripe avocado

1/2 small onion very finely chopped

1 tomato chopped

Some finely chopped green or red pepper if you have it – not essential and some would say a little controversial but nice

Salt

Lime juice

A handful coriander chopped

Mash the avocado then mix in the tomato, onion, coriander and pepper if using. Add salt and lime juice to taste. If you’re making this ahead of time a trick is to add the avocado stone back into the guacamole to stop things discoloring.

That’s about it really. Obviously this kind of thing isn’t just for snacks and lunches, they make brilliant “I’m too exhausted to cook” dinners – you just eat more!

In case you were wondering…….

The funny looking fruit in the Mediterranean bags is a persimmon aka kaki or sharon fruit. Known as the fruit of the gods in ancient Greece they have a lovely apricot flavour with a mango texture (yum!). They are perfectly ripe so have them for dessert this evening if you can.

Enjoy,

Sarah

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Red grapefruit and avocado salad

I know. What was I thinking? It’s blowing a gale out there and I’m making salad???? Well, it’s a filling one, perfect for lunch on its own or as part of a bigger mezze style meal. This is  a  salad that will bring some very welcome sunshine to your plate. Close your eyes and you might just be somewhere else (you may have to put on music to shut out the pelting rain)……

Pink grapefruit and avocado are in season at the moment and this doesn’t actually happen when the weather’s hot unless you live in the Middle East. For us both of these are winter varieties. For the colour alone I had to put these two together and salad seemed like the obvious way to go. I also had some spinach and that seemed like a good bet but when I put the three  altogether with some olive oil, balsamic and a little honey to offset the tart of the grapefuit the result just didn’t seem quite right. Maybe on a blistering hot day in July but right here, right now……… no. First of all, despite the honey, there was still just too much bite from the grapefruit plus a bit more texture was required. What about cous cous? I love cous cous salads especially with avocado so I got to work toasting some up on the pan. Toasting the grains, if you’ve never done it, adds a lovely smokiness  to things. You just stick the cous cous on a dry pan until it starts to turn a lovely golden brown. Then turn the heat way down and add hot water (double the amount of the cous cous is the usual ratio). Stir like mad until all the water has absorbed. At this stage the grains should have plumped up nicely. If they still seem hard, stir in a little more hot water.

Cous Cous

When the cous cous is done stir in some olive oil to stop the grains sticking together. Let it cool down then add some perfectly ripe avocado, sliced grapefruit, finely shredded spinach and then a handful of toasted pinenuts. Has to be good right?

pomegranate molasses

But what about the dressing? I really was beginning to wonder and then a bottle of pomegranate molasses caught my eye. I’d bought it just before Christmas but still hadn’t managed to get round to trying the stuff . Margaret always raves about it and  it’s a staple for Yotan Ottolenghi. So, what is it? Well it’s a pomegranate syrup basically and flavourwise it’s both sweet and sour so very interesting indeed….. especially for salads. One taste and I knew I’d found what was needed. I think this might be the start of something. Apparently you can even make cookies with this stuff. You can get yourself a bottle in any Middle Eastern shop for a couple of yo yos and a lot of delis have it too.

 

 

Toasted cous cous salad with spinach, avocado and pink grapefruit with a pomegranate molasses dressing

You’ll need:

1 cup wholemeal cous cous

2 cups hot water and maybe a little more

Maldon salt

Olive oil

1 perfectly ripe avocado

120gr spinach – well washed and finely shredded

1/2 pink grapefruit

2 tablespoons pinenuts

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses plus some more for drizzling on top at the end

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Begin by toasting the cous cous as I described above. When it starts to change colour turn down the heat and add the 2 cups of water. Stir until the water has absorbed adding a little more if the grains haven’t cooked fully. When the cous cous is ready, put it in a bowl and stir in some olive oil. The idea is to coat all the grains so it doesn’t all clump together as it cools down. You can add a pinch of salt at this stage aswell. Set aside and get on with the other ingredients.

Chopped grapefruit

Toast the pinenuts in a dry pan over a medium heat until they start to change colour then remove and set aside. Peel the grapefruit removing the white pith aswell. I find a sharp knife works best for this. Cut the fruit down the middle, set aside one half then cut the other into segments which you then slice. Peel the avocado and chop into smallish pieces. Along with the spinach mix all these ingredients through the cous cous. Be gentle so the avocado doesn’t go mushy.

Make the dressing by putting the ingredients into a jar then giving it a good shake (with the lid on!!!!). Pour over the cous cous and mix the salad again. Taste and add a little more salt if you think it needs it then drizzle with some more mollases and serve. As I said this makes a good standalone lunch especially if you add a bowl of or make a big mezze selection – a nice Spanish omelette, some green salad, olives,  good bread, hummus, roasted  peppers, a block of salty Feta,….. you get the idea. Either way, enjoy!!

This week I’ve included a variety never seen before in our bags – Broccoli sprouts which, like all sprouts, are 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.
Tastewise they have a light peppery flavour and of course they have that lovely crunch too. Add them to almost any salad, sandwich or wrap (we always throw them into burritos). They seem to work especially well with avocado and this week’s recipe combines the two in a salad that has to be one of my alltime favourites. It’s got a completely moreish dressing not unlike last week’s dipping sauce, with ginger and soy sauce along with another favourite flavour of mine – toasted sesame which adds a gorgeous nuttiness to things. The main ingredient is brown rice which, as you know, is amazing for your body. As I’ve mentioned before, I usually make this stuff 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.
This salad can be made in advance and is perfect for a pack lunch but add the sprouts just before you eat or they’ll go soggy…
Brown Rice and Bean Salad with Alfalfa and Avocado with an Oriental style 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 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 lemon (lime is also great)
 
Begin by making the dressing. To do this simple combine all the ingredients, taste then add more lemon 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 – Yummy!!! ……………and healthy to boot.
 
In season now – Moro and Sevile Oranges
It’s orange season and the extra special blood variety are just hitting their stride. They’re in all our bags this week and will be for as long as they’re around (about 2 months). If you juice in the morning we’ve got 6.5k boxes that we can deliver along with your veg for 15E.
For marmalede makers we’ve got Seville oranges at 4E per kilo. If you’d like to mix it up we’ve got grapefruits too. Just let us know.
 
Hope you enjoy this recipe,
Have a fantastic weekend,
Sarah

Swedes and Avocados

December 2, 2009

This week it’s Swedes (well, it is winter) and while I know they are not top of most people’s veg list  they are great in all kind of stews and other winter fare. A simple way to prepare them is roasted in the oven. To do this chop them into the size of large chunky chips, parboil them then toss them in a roasting pan with either coconut or vegetable oil. Roast at Gas mark 6 for about 30-40 minutes then sprinkle with a little Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper and serve. Two more substantial ways to serve swede can be found on this blog – firstly my favourite refried with caramelized onions and bacon and then the always popular gratin with goat’s cheese. Here’s a link that will bring you straight to those recipes  https://homeorganics.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/swedes-and-baby-spinach/ or you can just use the search button.
Avocados are back in season. The one in your bag this week is of the Hass variety which I think are definitely superior. Team it with this week’s Wicklow lettuce for a simple but really delicious salad. Dress with some of that Olive Oil I gave you the week before last and a dash of  Balsamic Vinegar. The response to our Olive Oil was fantastic and lots of you placed orders. We should have it in next week.
Have a fab weekend,
Sarah

The big thing about our service is that you don’t really know what you’re getting week to week so quite often we end up cooking out of our comfort zone. This week we have gorgeous pink and white speckled Borlotti Beans for the first time ever. My reason for avoiding them until now was that I didn’t really know what to do with them but this week I thought I’d give them a go and the result was fab.

Borlotti beans

Borlotti beans

Like the Broad Beans we’ve had over the summer months they need shelling but only once – you don’t need to get them out of their skin once cooked.  The other big difference is that they take a lot longer to cook than other beans. Giorgio Locattelli reckons that they’re done when the skin as well as the actual bean is soft and this takes about 40 minutes so be careful to check that they really are cooked before you take them off.

Once cooked, they are great in soups, stews and salads (try them with this week’s Rocket and Tomatoes dressed in Olive Oil and Balsamic). Giorgio has a beautiful recipe with prawns which definitely looks like it’s worth a try if you have his book. The other way they are often served in Italy is with a tomato sauce along with herbs like Sage or Rosemary. This is the route I took and it was one of the nicest things I’ve eaten in a while. We ate them with a trout, this week’s New Potatoes and a warm salad of Courgettes and new Onions. It was all lovely but the Beans were definitely crying out for lamb and I’m looking forward to this for tonight!!

Borlotti Beans with Garlic, Tomatoes and Rosemary

You’ll need:

380gr Borlotti Beans

1 Head Garlic

1 Tablespoon  dried Rosemary minced

4 Tomatoes

Olive Oil

Put the shelled beans in a pot and cover them with about an inch of cold water. Bring them to the boil then reduce the heat slightly and continue cooking til done. Once the beans are cooking get on with everything else. Plunge the Tomatoes into boiling water, leave for a minute or 2 then peel and chop them. Peel the Garlic and slice each clove finely. Heat a generous amount of Olive Oil (1/2 cup)  and then throw in the Garlic. Saute gently for a minute or 2 before adding in the Rosemary (or Sage if you prefer). When the Garlic has softened (but not changed colour) add the Tomatoes and a pinch of Salt. Stir over a medium heat for about 10 minutes before adding the Beans. Cook for another few minutes the serve hot, warm or cold (it makes a lovely salad). Enjoy!!

This week’s New Potatoes are the Sharpes Express variety (apparently very difficult to grow but well worth it as so many of you have been commenting on them) and they are best steamed. Start with the biggest ones then add in the smaller guys over time so they’re done at the same time. Try them in a salad with this week’s Rocket(Arugula)  and Avocado and some smoked Cheese  with a Sherry Vinegar dressing if you have it. On the subject of vinegars -I recently got a Pomegranate one which we’ve been enjoying a lot recently. The Courgettes and Onions we had with the fish the other night were cooked on the pan in Olive Oil and then I added a splash just before taking them off the pan which cooked down and sweetened and the end result was lovely.

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

Spring is truly here. Everything is in flower and growing. The fruit trees are flowering and lovely to see walking through Rathmines. The magnolias are in full bloom. The streets are carpeted in pink blossom.

magnolia blossom

magnolia blossom

And under the trees is lots and lots of wild garlic… Lovely white star shaped flowers. I will be making pesto with it today. I hope Sarah is having Springtime on her hols….

In the garden the broad beans are flowering. This is a transition time. Winter veg like spinach are about to finish in the next few weeks; it is a little early yet for the new veg of spring. Scallions (spring onions are up) having overwintered. Parsnip is still in season from winter. The new season wet garlic is in. This week we span two seasons, that ending and that starting with parsnip, celery and scallions….

I took some time off in my thirties and travelled. I loved New Zealand.. the spectacular scenery.. The mountains.. the fields of lupins . I loved, loved the seasonal food and the wines. In every small town was a bakery and in that bakery every day were baked fresh seasonal muffins, pear, pumpkin and feta, roasted veg. Before this I knew muffins from travelling on business in the US – horrible sweet factory made junk. I was converted.. I bought this little book by the New Zealand doyenne of muffins Alison Holst called Marvellous Muffins(http://www.holst.co.nz) and have adapted a few recipes below for you.

Let me share with you some recipes for savoury muffins to have with soup and some sweet muffins to have with friends. If you have kids bake them with them. If not share them with friends who will be so delighted to get something home baked as so few people bake now.

Avocado, cheese and sundried tomato(or bacon) muffins
250 g of plain flour sifted
4 tsp of baking powder
pinch salt
grated black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
pinch cayenne or 2 of paprika
110g grated mature cheddar
4 scallions chopped
3 rashers bacon chopped (or use about 75g sun dried tomatoes)

75g butter
1 egg
1 cup full fat milk
1 avocado
juice of half a lemon
pumpkin seed (optional)

Sieve dry ingredients into a bowl. Add cayenne, grated cheese and chopped spring onion and stir well. Cook bacon in pan with no fat or grill and then chop finely.
Melt butter add eggs and milk and beat. Halve avocado, skin and cut into cubes, Sprinkle with lemon juice. Add to liquid mixture with bacon or sun dried tomatoes. Fold two mixtures together.

Put into either muffin papers in a muffin tray or into a silicon tray (optionally adding sprinkle of pumpkin seed)and bake in a preheated oven at 200 C for ten minutes or until the muffins spring back when pressed with a finger.

This recipe can be varied… chunks of roasted parsnip with rosemary and feta and a parsnip, rosemary, olive and feta soup. crunchy chunks of celery mixed with ham and blue cheese, Roasted squash, feta and pumpkin seed… Roasted red pepper, roasted tomatoes… Go for it !

It is nice to put in a little wholegrain or spelt flour but beware. These flours go off fast so buy in small quantities and use fast.

If the weather keeps up serve this soup chilled with the hot muffins.. Really great. The soup is very low cal so makes up for the cheese and butter in the muffins.

Tomato, apple and celery soup.

ingredients
25g butter
140 g onions peeled and roughly
1/2 head celery about 200 g trimmed and with the strings removed. Reserve the green fronds at the top for garnish (dont worry if yellow that is from blanching the celery while growing)
200g apples
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
1 400 g can tomatoes
150 ml apple juice or cider
225 ml veg stock
pinch sugar
salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in large heavy bottomed pan. Add onions and celery and cook for ten minutes stirring until onion soften.

Add apple and crushed garlic and cook for 5 minutes then stir in chopped tomatoes, apple juice and veg stock. Bring to boil and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes
Cook soup slightly then puree til smooth (if you are very fussy then sieve but if you destringed the celery you are fine)
Then if serving hot bring soup back to the boil add sugar and season.
If being fancy put on top a dollop of yoghurt or creme fraiche and some of the chopped reserved fronds and finely chopped spring onion greens.

This recipe is adapted from a great book called Eat Well Stay Well by Good Housekeeping (http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/). I highly recommend this as a cookery book and also as a great resource for cooking for special diets. This soup is suitable for low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie and diabetic diets (and gluten free if careful re stock).

For those of you on vegan diets put a handful or red lentils in when adding the tomatoes to increase the protein.

If you want to make this a more substantial meal have some salad after: something green and some
potato salad with chopped scallions, mayonnaise (I mostly use bought), a tbsp of whole grain mustard and a squeeze of lemon and maybe stuffed devilled eggs (with or without anchovies). Hardboil eggs remove yolk mash with mayonnaise and paprika, Add chopped scallions and maybe some anchovies.
If you have courgettes in your bag this week this is a good opportunity to roll out the marinated grilled courgette recipe I gave you last week.
Another lovely option is celery sticks and carrot batons with hummous (can of chickpeas pureed with lemon juice olive oil and garlic and tahini with lots of chopped garlic on top) or with a blue cheese dip. Hope you have some left to juice !!

Carrot/Parsnip and Walnut muffins
Cane sugar has always been imported to Ireland. In the days when it was more expensive and scarce people made use of the natural sugars in root vegetables to bake cakes. We continue this by using carrot, parsnip and beetroot in our baking. It is also a great way to get children to eat veg. Try this its nicer than you think

Ingredients

100 g flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice (or use 1/4 ground cloves and 1/2 ground ginger)
160g brown sugar
50g chopped walnuts
handful sultanas (optional)
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
100g grated carrot (about 1 medium carrot)
100g grated parsnip (about one medium parsnip)

Icing (optional as you may find they get eaten before cold enough to ice)
50g cream cheese
25 g icing sugar
juice half lemon

Method
Sieve the first 5 ingredients into a bowl. Add sugar, walnuts and sultanas and mix.
Beat the oil and eggs together and add carrot and parsnip

Mix two mixtures gently.

Bake in muffin tins at 190 degrees C for about 15 minutes

When cooled beat all icing ingredients together and ice

Savoury muffins are great for a lunch box and will keep for a few days in a tin.

Sarah will be back next week but in case you miss her here is a link to a posting on scallions she did for a veg box recipe site in the UK. http://blog.vegbox-recipes.co.uk/2009/03/09/marchs-third-veggie-in-the-spotlight-over-wintered-spring-onions/ for Panfried Spring Onions with Goat’s Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts.