If you’ve never heard of them, jerusalem artichokes are those funny knobbly things that look like a cross between root ginger and sweet potatoes in the bottom of your bag this week that you’ve probably been wondering about. Rather confusingly, they have nothing to do with either Jerusalem or artichokes. These tubers are a variety of sunflower. Tastewise, they’re quite similar to globe artichokes but are much sweeter with a nutty, smokey flavour which goes beautifully with cream, garlic, bacon, mushrooms, hazelnuts, lemon, parsley and Parmesan. Like all root veg, jerusalem artichokes can be roasted, fried, boiled and mashed. They make fantastic soups and gratins and can even be eaten raw. Given recent temperatures, raw might be a step too far so I’m going to suggest a warm salad with this week’s lamb’s lettuce and some smoked cheese. Paul and I have just wolfed this for lunch and it rocks. Or, try making soup – jerusalem artichokes make the silkiest kind and you can garnish it by pan-frying some of this week’s chestnut mushrooms which are just perfect for bringing up the nutty, earthy flavour of the soup….

When preparing your artichokes, it isn’t necessary, as many recipes insist, to peel them but they do need a good scrub. If they’re very mucky, a soak in some water before you scrub will make things easier. If you do peel them, be sure and put them in acidulated water (ie water with some Lemon Juice) to stop them going brown. The first recipe this week is a very simple one and it works really well with any kind of roast and it’s also the basis of the salad recipe I just mentioned….

Pan-fried Jerusalem Artichokes with White Wine Vinegar

You’ll need:
600gr jerusalem artichokes (about what you have in this week’s bag)

Olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic

White Wine Vinegar

Scrub your artichokes well but don’t bother to peel them. Slice each one into rounds about 1/2 cm thick dropping them into a bowl of water with lemon juice as you go. When they’re all ready drain them and dry with some kichen paper or a tea towel. Heat some olive oil on the pan and add the artichokes. Pan-fry over a slow to medium heat until golden. This should take about 10 minutes and at this stage the artichokes will have started to soften. To finish cooking them turn down the heat and cover them for about 10 minutes tossing every few minutes to ensure they don’t blacken. While the artichokes are cooking, finely chop your garlic. When the artichokes are soft to the point of nearly starting to fall apart turn up the heat a little, add a little more olive oil and throw in the Garlic and toss with the artichokes until soft. To finish off the dish add a dash of white wine vinegar, toss everything together then turn down the heat, cover and leave to cook for a minute then turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper and serve.

A warm salad with Pan-fried Artichokes, Lamb’s Lettuce, Pinenuts and smoked Cheese (for 2)

You’ll need:

A portion of pan-fried Artichokes prepared as described above.

70-80gr Lamb’s Lettuce (about what you have in your bag this week) or Rocket is also great in this salad

100gr smoked Cheese – Apart from the Basque raw sheeps cheese Idiazabal I’m not normally wild about smoked Cheeses but it’s amazing in this salad. I used Oakwood which is pretty readily available (Idiazabal, unfortuneately, isn’t – even in the rest of Spain it’s hard to track down).

A handful Pinenuts
Olive Oil
Vinegar or Lemon Juice – I used that Irish Cider Balsamic stuff which is really nice but traditional Red wine or Lemon Juice also works well. I wouldn’t go for regular Balsamic for a salad like this as I think it overpowers the earthy flavours but it’s really up to you.

While the Artichokes are cooking wash and dry the Lamb’s Lettuce. Chop the cheese into little chunks (about the size of hazelnuts) or strips about 2 cm long . Toast the Pinenuts on a dry pan until golden then roughly chop and mix through the Rocket. Add in the Cheese and when the Artichokes are ready dress everything with Olive Oil and Vinegar then top with the Artichokes and serve.

And finally…………………

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup topped with saute chestnut mushrooms (for 2 hungry people or 4 as a small starter)

You’ll need:

A generous knob Butter

1 Onion

1 Stick of Celery

2 Cloves Garlic

600gr Jerusalem Artichokes (about what you have in this week’s bag)

800ml Stock (Chicken or veg)

60ml Double Cream

4-5 small Chestnut ones to garnish

Roughly chop your onion and begin to sweat in the butter while you finely chop the celery. Throw in the chopped celery and after about 5 minutes add the 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped. Continue to saute over a lowish heat until everything has softened but not changed colour (this should take about 10 minutes) while you get on with preparing the jerusalem artichokes. Peel and slice the jerusalem artichokes, dropping them into water with a squirt of lemon as you go. When the onion, celery and garlic have fully softened throw in the artichokes along with the stock. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil then simmer for about 25 minutes until the jerusalem artichokes are completely tender. While the soup is cooking wipe and thinly slice your mushroom(s), heat some olive oil on a pan and fry until golden brown and almost crispy then set aside. When the soup is cooked, turn off the heat and blend until completely smooth. Add in the cream, check the seasoning adding a little more salt if necessary and serve topped with the mushrooms

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Hi everyone,
 
This week all our selections have Chillies which can be used to add interest to almost any dish. They’ll keep in your fridge for at least a week or you can hang them up and let them dry out then keep them in a jar for future use. Drop one into a bottle of Olive Oil and you have (after a few weeks that is) a Chilli Oil that can be used to spice up anything and even makes the simplest of Pasta meals (Sauté a couple of cloves of Garlic and toss with Pasta, Chilli Oil, a little chopped Parsley if you have it and freshly grated Parmesan and voila – dinner in under ten minutes).
When preparing Chillies be very careful never to touch your face (especially your eyes) or any sensitive areas as they really do burn. Either wash your hands carefully afterwards or wear rubber gloves when preparing. In terms of heat, it’s the seeds you have to watch as they have up to 80% of the heat so if you can’t stand it simply cut them out and use the less fiery red flesh. If  you really aren’t sure, try a tiny bit on your tongue to get an idea and if adding them to a sauce or stew throw in a little, leave to infuse for a few minutes then add more if you want – it’s like Salt you can always add more but it’s very hard to counteract too much. Chillies usually get hotter as time goes by so you’ll probably want to use less if you still have some left in a week or so or are using dried ones.
If you’re worried about Chillies causing indigestion, don’t be because it’s a myth and the opposite, is in fact, true. Chillies are beneficial to digestion and soothing for the stomach. Furthermore, since ancient times they have been used to treat all kinds of ailments from arthritis to the common cold and can even bring pain relief due to the release of endorphins in the brain they produce. Another thing to note is that just one contains a full day’s supply of beta carotene and nearly twice the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and that because they produce heat they speed up the metabolism meaning that you digest food better and (possibly!) burn calories faster.
As those of you who read my recipes regularly have probably noticed, I use Chillies a lot, adding them to nearly all pasta dishes (except maybe the creamy ones). stirfries, roast vegetables, salsas and even deserts sometimes -they have a natural affinity with Chocolate and since discovering this I always add a square or two of the dark stuff to my Black Bean Chilli.
The recipes this week are easy to prepare and are great served as part of a selection of stuff like Olives, Hummous, Spanish Potato Omelette, Salad and Cheeses if you’re having people over for an relaxed sitting-around kind of evening over the next few weeks……….
 
Chilli Potatoes (for 4)

You’ll need :

1k Potatoes

1 Chilli

Olive Oil

Sour Cream (optional)

Peel and chop the Potatoes into large bit-size pieces 1 Potatoes. Bring to the boil in a pot of salted water and cook until just underdone (i.e. with a bit of bite left). Drain and set aside. Finely slice the Chilli. Heat about 4 to 5 tablespoons of Olive Oil in a pan, add the Chilli then the Potatoes and toss over a medium heat until the Potatoes are a lovely golden brown. Season with Salt and Pepper and serve immediately on a warm dish with a dollop of sour cream on top.
 
Baked Feta with Chilli and Oregano

A slab of Feta (about 200gr)

Oregano

1/2 Chilli
Drizzle the Feta with Olive Oil and sprinkle with a generous pinch of Oregano. Deseed and finely slice the Chilli and place in a line along the centre of the cheese. Wrap in tinfoil leaving the overlapping parts on the top so you can unwrap it later on and leave the cheese sitting on the foil when serving. Bake in a medium oven for about 8 to 10 minutes then serve immediately with crusty bread and some roasted tomatoes or salsa.

Stir-fried Cabbage with Garlic and Chilli

You’ll need:

1 head of Cabbage

1/2 Head Garlic

1 Chilli

Olive Oil

Sesame Seeds

Finely shred the Cabbage then set aside. Mince the Garlic and Chilli and begin to toss over a medium heat in a generous dash of Olive Oil. After a minute or two add the Cabbage and continue tossing until the Cabbage has wilted and softened. Toast the Sesame seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat until they start popping but be careful not to burn them. Top the Cabbage with the seeds and serve. A drizzle of Toasted Sesame Seed Oil on this is always lovely if you have it…

In case you were wondering………..

The salad leaves in your bag this week are Lambs Lettuce which are gorgeous with this week’s Avocado.
 
Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great weekend,
Sarah