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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

You’ll need:

500gr new potatoes

300gr tomatoes

A little chilli (as much as you like)

100gr chorizo, cut into half moons

4 fat cloves garlic

200gr black tuscan kale roughly shredded

olive oil

Maldon salt

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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.

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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!!!

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Summer salad

It might be windy. It might even be rainy. But it is officially summer here in Dublin and salad is back on the menu at ours. Yay!!!! So, without further ado (it’s been a long day especially without Claire in the office and there’s a barbecue that’s just been lit calling me) here’s my suggestion for this week’s lovely broad beans, tomatoes and that gorgeous lettuce…. a salad with giant croutons. The croutons make it a bit more substantial than your average summer salad aswell as giving the whole thing a lot more chew which I really like.

Now these aren’t those croutons you buy in bags with weird powder on them these guys are homemade and all the better for it. I made mine with stale ciabatta I stashed in the freezer a few weeks ago (I love it when a plan comes together!) and I laced them with sumac. Sumac, if you’re not familiar with it, is a dark red lemony spice found in middle Eastern cooking which you’ll find in good delis or middle Eastern shops. I also threw in some feta (predictable? moi?) . The dressing was pretty simple – lemon and olive oil with a splash of balsamic for richness but I also added some crushed garlic for bite. A chive and sour cream omelette on the side and that was lunch. Yum.

The first (of many) summer salad with broad beans, vine tomatoes and  feta with sumac croutons

You’ll need:

1 Little Gem lettuce washed, dried with the larger leaves torn

300gr (a large handful) cherry vine tomatoes halved or quartered depending on the size or 2 large vine tomatoes chopped

500gr broad beans

100gr feta cheese

2 thick slices ciabatta crusts removed

olive oil for frying

For the dressing

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice half lemon

1 fat clove garlic

Balsamic vinegar

Maldon sea salt

A pinch of sugar

Make the croutons first by cutting the bread into large chunks. Heat some olive oil on the pan and when it’s hot, add the bread and fry until golden adding a little more oil if things start to dry out too much. Take off the pan and drain on kitchen paper while you get everything else ready.

Make the dressing by first smashing then finely chopping the garlic. Whisk it with oil, lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, a dash of balsamic and a pinch of crushed Maldon and set aside.

Pod the beans then steam for about 3 minutes. Rinse under cold water then pop each one out of it’s skin. Toss the lettuce, beans, tomatoes and feta together with the dressing.

To finish things off, sprinkle each crouton with a little sumac and place on top of the salad. Bring to garden, sit and hopefully don’t have all the napkins blow away like we did last night! Lee was very confused…………

Enjoy.

Have a brilliant weekend,

Sarah

Poor Claire has been very unwell with the flu and without her we’re lost. Leek mash, baked feta and rocketAll the extra making up for her absence means I don’t have a new recipe for this week so I’m going to offer some suggestions from our blog.
This week’s lovely leeks from Oliver Kelly are gorgeous cooked down slowly in butter then folded into creamy mash with a side of baked feta especially with all wintery weather we’ve been having..
Or what about braised with a Parmesan crust? You could also roast them up with this week’s carrots and make risotto.

Risotto with Leeks and Carrots plus Ramiro Peppers

For those of you with rainbow chard I find that stir-fried with lemon and garlic is hard to beat and this would go beautifully with the leek mash (I’d leave out the chickpeas if serving it with spud though)

Rainbow chard on the panFritatta is also lovely and you could serve it with some slow roasted tomatoes  Roasted tomatoesand a salad with your purslane (the green leaves you might be wondering about).

And for dessert? Well, you won’t do much better than this week’s Osteen mango. They’re amazing with a gorgeous coconutty edge. Chopped up with some good vanilla ice-cream will make it go further (you might serve 4 this way) but straight up between 2 is really the way to go. The stone is the best part and this is where it gets a bit messy. Dan and Auggie fight over it and end up passing it back and forth each watching the other like a hawk in case anyone sucks too much of the gorgeous nectar. We also attack the skins so be sure and wash before you peel. This isn’t a first date approach to things (or is it?) but it really is the way to get the best out of it.

Have a brilliant weekend,

Sarah

Sorry about the last few weeks – I was in Catalonia. First of all we went camping on the Costa Brava in a beautiful place called Cala Llevado and then we were in the thick of it in Barcelona. Years ago I lived there as a strict vegetarian – no meat or fish. This was generally considered to be…..well, completely nuts by most of the natives. They just didn’t get it.  I remember how waiters, having never heard of the concept, would offer me jamon (ham), atun (tuna) because they “aren’t really meat”. Well, I suppose compared to the hunks of lamb, roasted rabbit,  tripe (often the dish of choice for clubbers after a hard night on the tiles eaten on a busy street corner as the rest of the world went to work in the morning),  trotters and sausages they are kind of lightweight but hello????

As a veggie I ate unbelievable amounts of tortilla de patata (spanish potato omelette) which thankfully, I loved and still do and tons of  Escalivada  perhaps the most quintessential of Catalan dishes but one which is pretty much unknown outside the region. It’s a salad of roast aubergine, onion and peppers. Like most Catalan dishes it’s very, very simple . Roasted vegetables generously doused with top class olive oil and maybe a little vinegar. That’s it – no herbs, spices or sauces. It doesn’t need it – the ingredients are seasonal and local so at their very best. It’s often served with salted anchovies which I find a bit too hardcore or goats’ cheese which I prefer.

Escalivada is generally served as a starter or as part of a what’s called a “pica pica” (I don’t think I need to translate) which has to be  my favourite way to eat – small amounts of lots of things. So, you might serve it alongside a potato omelette (maybe with some courgette thrown in as we are so overrun with them at the moment), olives, a green salad, some pan-fried sardines or octopus a la romana (dipped in batter and fried), a nice local goat’s cheese (there are loads in Catalunya) or a lovely creamy Tetilla (literally translated nipple!) cheese from Galicia (available in Sheridan’s from time to time if you’re interested),  a chickpea salad and pa amb tomaquet – country-style bread rubbed with garlic, tomato then generously drizzled with olive oil. Dessert might be a perfectly ripe peach or one of this week’s plums.

 

Escalivada – Roasted Aubergines, Peppers and Onions

The quantities for this can totally vary depending on what you have. The amounts below are a guide only

You’ll need:

2 aubergines

2 sweet red peppers – yellow will also do fine

1 Onion – red or yellow

Olive oil

Red wine vinegar

Salted anchovies and/or goat’s cheese

The veg is roasted whole without oil so just put them on a baking tray and roast in a medium oven (Gas mark 6)  for 1 hour or until all the veg are tender. Let them cool down then peel and chop them. The aubergines I half and then cut into eighths, the pepper I cut into chunky strips and the onions can be halved then cut into eighths. Traditionally the veg are laid out on a plate separately but feel free to mix them together if you prefer. Generously drizzle with your best olive oil and a little vinegar (a lot of Catalans don’t bother with this so, again, it’s up to you). Serve as I said, with anchovies and a piece of goat’s cheese.

This keeps well in the fridge and can be made in advance

Pa amb tomaquet (bread with tomato)

You’ll need:

A round of country-style white bread (baguette or sliced pan will not do!!!!)

1-2 cloves of garlic peeled and cut down the middle

1-2 tomatoes cut horizontally in the middle

Olive Oil

Salt

Toast the slices of bread  then rub on one side with the garlic. The crispiness of the bread will break down the garlic and make it stick to the bread. Follow this with a rub of tomato. As a rule 1 tomato will do 2 or 3 large slices of toasts and leave you with little more than the tomato skin when you’re finished. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with a little fine salt.

Serve with cheeses, cured meats, tortilla…… anything really. Kids often have it as a snack in the afternoon when they come home from school. Mine were reluctant at first (what??!! no butter?) but are coming around. The garlic isn’t always used so you may want to try it without but given the winter is coming I reckon as much of this stuff raw as possible is what’s needed to ward off the sniffles.

Have a great weekend,

Sarah

Marzella Hazan's  tomato salad

We’re coming to the end of our summer varieties . Courgettes are now officially thin on the ground,  at least in Wicklow,  as are Aubergines.  I had such plans but we just didn’t get enough sun to feature them as often as I’d hoped. Tomatoes are also coming to an end,  so to have them along with Basil is a last blast of  summer (you know, the one we never had). Basil + Tomatoes can mean so many things – a simple salad (just add your best Olive Oil and a little Salt) or a more substantial salad if you add Mozzarella (this is the classic Caprese). One of my first posts on this blog was Marcella Hazan’s simple Tomato salad. It still beats pretty much anything.

For an easy dinner chop up your Tomatoes and briskly fry them in hot Olive Oil with some Garlic and a little of the Chilli that’s packed in the paper bag along with the Tomatoes, then toss with Pasta,  Basil Leaves and maybe some Black Olives. It’s a dish that takes all of 10 minutes to put together.

These days I  favour Pecorino over Parmesan with pasta. I bought a big block on a whim a while back and using it has reminded me of why it works so well. It’s a saltier cheese, with Tomatoes this works well as they tend to be sweet (or should be).It’s all about contrast which sounds a bit cheffy but is true. As there’s Basil in this week’s bag I’ll give a pesto recipe. I know, it’s a bit obvious but properly made it’s really really good and nothing like the stuff you buy in jars (even the fancier brands are muck).  Good pesto has plenty of Garlic, real Pine nuts and ideally, Pecorino Cheese rather than Parmesan but you can use Parmesan if you’re stuck. It might seem a waste but using decent Olive Oil pays dividends as it adds so much to the flavour. Best of all, Pesto takes  all of ,oh, 2 minutes to make, a quality I really rate in a recipe especially when it’s Culture night and the weather is good!

Pesto (for 2)
Peel and roughly chop 2 fat cloves of Garlic and put in your blender along with 8 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (a generous glug), 2 Tablespoons Pine nuts, a generous pinch of Salt, and your Basil Leaves (remove any really thick stems first). Blast until everything is blended. A little chunkiness can be nice but you may prefer a smoother Pesto so you decide when to stop blending. When you’re finished, stir in 2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Cheese. Serve with freshly cooked Pasta and more grated Pecorino (or Parmesan).
This can be made in advance and will keep in your fridge for up to a week  in a jar with a layer of olive poured over.  As Basil goes so well with all kinds of veg (especially roasted) Pesto makes a great dressing – just thin it out with some Olive Oil and a little Lemon Juice to add some zing

Enjoy!!

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

Cauliflower

April 10, 2009

Hi everyone,

This week all the selections have Cauliflower a variety which, in this country anyway, most people don’t rate, probably due to our traditional cooking technique (many long hours of boiling and the possible addition of cheese “sauce”) which renders it mushy and flavourless.
Nutritionwise, it is definitely worth including in a healthy diet as it is high in fibre, follate (helps the blood work more efficiently and is essential for tissue growth) and Vitamin C – just 3 Florets give you 67% of your daily Vitamin C requirements (but remember that the Vitamin C content is lowered by cooking so a light steaming is the recommended is the best way to retain nutrients).
The trick with Cauliflower is to cook it until just tender. A whole cauliflower should take no more than 8-10 minutes, while florets take between 6-8 minutes (but start checking with a skewer after 6) . After that, one of the simplest and nicest ways to eat it is with some Olive Oil, Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper. You can top this with some grated Parmesan and finish it off under the grill but if cooked properly, Cauliflower really doesn’t need anything else. Romanesco is just a green form of cauliflower and works well in these recipes.
If you want to complicate things (but not too much) the following recipes are pretty quick.

Fast Cauliflower Cheese
Instead of faffing around with Béchamel try a mix of Mascarpone and Cheese.

You’ll need:
1 Cauliflower
200gr Mascarpone
120gr Mature Cheddar or Gruyere
1 Teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs

Break up your cauliflower into even(ish) sized florets and cook until just tender.
Gently heat the Mascarpone in a saucepan. Grate your cheese and add it then heat gently until just melted. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground Black Pepper and add the Wholegrain Mustard.
Drain Cauliflower and put into an ovenproof dish. Pour the Cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with the Breadcrumbs. Grill until golden.

Want to try something a bit different?

Cauliflower, Tomato and Caper Gratin with a Parmesan Crust

1/2 Onion
Olive Oil
1 Tin chopped Tomatoes
1 Cauliflower
2 Tablespoons Capers
Grated Parmesan

Start with the sauce by slicing the Onion finely and sautéing in about 2 tablespoons Olive Oil. When the onion has softened (about 10 minutes) add the tin chopped Tomatoes along with a generous pinch Salt and 1 teaspoon Sugar to kill any bitterness in the Tomatoes. Cook at a medium heat until tomato has reduced to a thick paste (about 20 minutes) and then check sauce for bitterness adding more sugar if needed.
While the sauce is cooking prepare the Cauliflower – This time instead of breaking the Cauliflower into florets cut it in four and then slice it into pieces about 1/2 cm thick. As before, cook until just tender (this should take about 4-5 minutes as pieces aren’t as thick) and drain.
To finish, combine the Cauliflower, Tomato sauce and the Capers (soak these in a glass of water to remove some of the salt while cooking the sauce then drain before adding). Top with grated Parmesan and grill until golden.

Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great long weekend,
Sarah