Our local producers have kept us in courgettes, aubergines, basil and tomatoes over the summer months and beyond and now it’s more traditional Irish varieties that are starting to come through – we’ve already had gorgeous savoy cabbage a few weeks back from the Healy’s in Wicklow and this week it’s Cavalo Nero kale (my fav kind) and beetroot harvested fresh from their farm for us. It’s been a while since we’ve seen these guys so I thought I’d start with some simple ideas. Kale as you know is a green (duh!!) and as such is just bursting with all kinds of good stuff. It does however require a little bit more cooking than say, spinach but you can pan-fry it in a few minutes. I love it with lots of garlic and some chilli. This simple dish is tasty enough to eat  piled on toast (sour dough would really rock) or try it with a poached egg. With a bowl of  cheesy mash would be the ultimate comfort dinner if you’re planning on vegging out this evening….
Garlicky Kale with chilli

 You’ll need:

 A bunch of kale

5-6 cloves garlic roughly chopped

Olive Oil

Some fresh chilli finely chopped – leave out the seeds if you don’t like things too hot

Maldon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Begin by washing the kale and trimming the tougher end of the stalks. You don’t really need to cut more than an inch or so as it’s pretty tender. Roughly chop the rest and set aside. Heat some olive oil in a pan or wok and throw in the garlic and chilli. Toss until the garlic starts to soften then throw in the kale. Keep everything moving until the kale has wilted then take off the heat. Serve immediately and feel healthier already…


This week we’ve got beetroot that comes attached to its leaves. Don’t chop them off and definitely don’t throw them away. They are actually more nutritious than the roots with lots of folate (folic acid), calcium, iron and caratenoids which function as antioxidants. Treat like them spinach – steam them then finish off with a knob of butter or stir-fry with garlic and chilli. As for the beetroot itself, it has exceptionally high levels of potassium which regulates the heartbeat and maintains normal blood pressure and nerve function, folic acid for cell division, vitamin C a great antioxidant and B6 which keeps our immune and nervous systems healthy. And if all that wasn’t enough this vegetable has long been famed for stimulating the immune system, cleansing/detoxing the blood and our digestive system and acting as a fantastic tonic if you’re under the weather.
Tastewise, beetroot works very well with things like apple, lemon and orange, parsley, potatoes, bacon, sour cream, crème fraiche and walnuts. In a salad it is sensational with walnut oil is and it also goes especially well with sherry, balsamic and white wine vinegars.
You can cook beetroot by either boiling and/or roasting it. Roasting allows the sugars to caramelize and gives a lovely dimension especially if you add a splash of balsamic towards the end. After that eat straight up with maybe a drizzle of olive oil or add to salads…
Balsamic roasted beetroot

You’ll need:

 4-5 heads of beetroot
Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Scrub your beetroot well but don’t trim them – of course detach the leaves but don’t break the skin of the heads by trying to cut back any roots as this will make the lovely colour leech out when you cook them. Now, boil the beetroot until cooked. Cooking time will vary according to size but about  30 minutes should do it. The beetroot is cooked when you can pierce the flesh with a knife. Drain and leave under running water while you rub off the skin with your fingers. If this proves tricky you can just peel them with a knife. Trim any of the tough bits then quarter each head. Put on a tray with some Olive Oil and ensure each piece is coated in the oil (hands are best for this). Place in a hot oven (200 degrees or Gas mark 6) and roast until the pieces start to crisp and caramelise. Add 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and toss with the beetroot. Return to the oven and roast for a further 5-10 minutes.
Want to go further? Some of the most popular posts on this blog are for beetroot dishes. Check these links if you’d like to give them a go..
Honey and balsamic roasted beetroot with puy lentils and feta  http://wp.me/p7YZu-eE
Roasted with parsnips and served with cous cous and baked goat’s cheese http://wp.me/p7YZu-18
A salad with beetroot, feta, walnuts and lambs lettuce http://wp.me/p7YZu-2S

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I’m on my own this week. Paul is out west fishing (so I better be writing about the amazing Wild Trout I ate all weekend next week or there’ll be trouble!). It’s been hectic, 2 small kids mean that most of the day consists of nonstop laundering, wiping, sweeping …(I could go on). There’s barely any time to eat never mind cook but somehow we’ve been doing alright.  Dan and I even made a mango and coconut cake the other day (not quite right yet so I won’t share).

Last night I fancied something a bit more grown up than the stuff I’ve been eating all week so I treated myself to a Vietnamese style rare beef salad – properly rare slices of Steak tossed in a flavour-drenched concoction of Garlic pounded with Peppercorns, Lime Juice and Nam Pla (the Vietnamese fish sauce) tossed in Greens, Scallions and Coriander. It’s a dish that’s pretty easy to put together and tastes a little different every time I make it. I like it fiery with lots of Chili but you can tone it down by taking out the seeds.If you don’t have Lime juice, lemon will do. No Fish sauce? Soy will do fine. This week’s Pak Choy could easily replace the Lettuce, just wilt it first. It’s a movable feast and a very addictive one…………

Vietnamese style Rare Chilli Beef salad (for 1)

You’ll need:

2 Cloves Garlic
5 Peppercorns
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce (nam pla) or Soy Sauce
1/2 Red Chili
1 Steak
1/2 Head of Lettuce
2-3 Scallions
A generous bunch Coriander

Begin with the sauce. Using a morter and pestle, pound the Garlic and Peppercorns until smooth(ish). Add in the Lime juice,  Fish Sauce and a pinch of Sugar. Mix and set aside.

Heat a little oil in a pan. When it’s almost smoking hot add the steak. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes adding a little Sugar to the crust on each side after the first 2 minutes. While the Steak is cooking wash and tear your lettuce. Chop the Scallions and add them to the Lettuce  along with some roughly chopped Coriander. When the Steak is cooked, remove from the pan and slice. Reheat the pan and thrown in the Chill, toss and then add the sauce and any meat juices left after slicing the steak.  Stir well to get all the juices clinging to the pan then throw in the Steak. Toss then place on  the leaves. Top with some Scallions and Coriander and eat with a cold beer. Fantastic!!

My other recipe this week is for Ana our lovely Spanish babysitter who is, sadly, returning to Madrid this week. I made this soup for her to have for lunch with the kids the first day she came and she loved. So, Ana ( te vamos a hecher de menos muchissimo!) this one’s for you (and for anyone else who has about 10 minutes to make lunch at 8.20 in the morning).

Carrot and Cumin Soup

You’ll need:

1 Medium Onion

1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds

Olive Oil

5 Medium Carrots

1 large Potato

600ml vegetable stock

Chop the Onion. Heat some Olive Oil in a pot and toss in the Onion and cook over a medium heat unless you’ve loads of time in which case slowly over a low heat will always work fine. As the Onions cook peel and chop the Carrots and Potato. When the Onions have softened and begun to darken add the Cumin seeds and toss well to make sure they all get coated in oil. Add the other vegetables and continue cooking for a few minutes then add the stock. Allow things to come to the boil over a medium heat. Then turn  back down again and simmer for about 20 minutes or until  the veg is cooked.  Blast with your handblender til smooth (always a bit of a jolt first thing in the morning!). Serve straight up or top with a little yogurt.

This week our Mediterranean selections have the first of this year’s Cherries. Hurray! So good you don’t need a recipe. That’s the point with Cherries. But as weeks go on I’m sure I’ll be thinking of ways to gild the lily so I’ll keep you posted. Next week I’d better be writing about wild Trout or there’ll be trouble!

Hope you enjoy these recipes,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

Hi everyone,

Spring has sprung! ……. or at least it’s trying, last night’s freezing temperatures did make me wonder. I made soup with this week’s Cabbage and it was perfect. This recipe has beans which makes it almost like a stew so it’s almost a meal in itself…..

green cabbage

green cabbage

Tuscan style Vegetable and Bean Soup

You’ll need:

1 head Cabbage

4 Carrots

4 Spuds 2 Cloves Garlic

2 Medium Onions

1 Dried Chilli

1 Tin of chopped Tomatoes

1 Tin White Beans (Fagioli)

Start by chopping the Onions and begin sautéing over a low-medium heat with a generous glug of Olive Oil until they start to change colour stirring occasionally to stop things burning. This should take about 15 minutes enough time for you to prepare the other veg. Wash and roughly shred the Cabbage. Scrub the carrots and cut into 1 cm half rounds. Peel the spuds and chop into bitesize pieces. Finally, chop the garlic and chilli and if the onions are done add to the pot, stir for a minute before adding the rest of the veg including the tomatoes (but not the Beans) along with a teaspoon of Maldon Salt. Stir well then cover the pot and leave for about 15 minutes over a lowish heat then add 2 litres of weak vegetable stock (as usual I’d use Marigold and halve the quantity indicated on the packet so it’s not too strong). Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and cook for another hour. After an hour add the beans, stir well and continue to cook uncovered for a further 10-15 minutes. To serve (and this is what really makes it) take a piece of stale Bread (ideally Ciabatta or sourdough), toast it then rub the toast with a halved clove of garlic. Place the garlic toast at the bottom of your serving bowl and add the soup. Top with a drizzle of your finest Olive Oil and some freshly grated Parmesan (if you like – this is optional and some would say not necessary).

Keep the faith that summer really will come this year by having a Blood Orange salad for pud. Peel a couple of oranges removing the pith as you go then finely slice them and scatter with some mint leaves. Do this ahead of time and all the flavours will mingle. A serving of vanilla or chocolate (Butlers do the best I’ve had) ice-cream would be lovely too…..

Hope you enjoy the recipes,

Have a great weekend,

Sarah