Just in case you were wondering, I do write sometimes, look here is some proof!
Just in case you were wondering, I do write sometimes, look here is some proof!
Happy St Patrick’s Day! or ‘Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!’
So a traditional Irish recipe is in order I think. This soda bread is gluten free (of course) and flavoured with spring onions, or scallions as I keep being corrected. I didn’t have any buttermilk for this recipe so I’ve made my own version combining yoghurt and milk which works just as well and may even be a bit thriftier.
If you are looking for other Irish food inspiration then you could try these delicious gluten free potato farls here, otherwise…
Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees (fan) and oil a baking tray.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and rub in the butter. Add the spring onions and mix. Whisk up the egg, yoghurt and milk mixture then stir into the dry ingredients. Turn out the dough onto a well floured board, the mix will be quite sticky so be generous with your dusting. Knead the mix for a couple of minutes then form in to a large ball and plop onto the oiled tray. Cut a deep (over half way) cross through the centre, brush with milk and dust with flour.
Bake in the oven for about 30/40 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when you knock its bottom.
Serve with butter, cheese and chutney for tea or toasted the next day for breakfast.
‘Tabhair dom an rud céanna mar atá ag an fhear ar an t-úrlar!’ – translations sourced here.
In a continued attempt to be more frugal I’ve been delving deeper into my store cupboard lately and this week I found the ubiquitous mackerel. I remember that for some reason mackerel fillets tinned in tomato sauce are actually cheaper than their brine or oil contained counterparts so it makes sense to add a bit of tomato to you life.
Mackerel is one of those amazinge eye sight strenghtening super food type things which packs an excellent omega 3 punch and in tins has to be the most penny-pinching way to enjoy a bit of this tasty, oily fish. Another benefit of using the tomato clad mackerel is the wicked (did I just say wicked?) pink the fish cakes go inside and the fuzzy feeling you get when you realised you’ve smuggled another of your 5 a day into your dinner. If you don’t have this wonderous ingredient in your cupboard but do have a tin of tuna then you could try this instead, if not then, onwards, my friends, the recipe is closer than you think…
Makes about 6 fish cakes which serves 2 with salad or 3 for people with small bellies
Boil and mash the potatoes, leave to cool. Break up the mackerel into the potatoes, toss in the tomato sauce, add the spring onions season and mix. Form into burger shapes and chill in the fridge for a while until set.
Lay out your other ingredients on plates or shallow dishes, whip the egg slightly to combine. Dip and roll the cakes first into flour, then egg, and then into the breadcrumbs.
Heat a large frying pan. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil (more if you can stand it). Once the oil is hot, fry the fish cakes until golden on each side then serve with salad, or whack in bun for a full on fishy carb fest.
I’m typing in pain, during the making of this delicious dish I was a complete eejit and managed to burn myself with boiling hot duck fat. Lets just say when draining hot fat out of a pan do not attempt to hold the dish you are pouring into in your hand, particularly if it is glass, as said glass dish could break in your hands sending boiling hot fat everywhere. Lesson learnt. Hand burnt.
I bought duck breasts because I saw them reduced in the local supermarket and thought I might be able to knock up something oriental inspired to make up for the lack of Chinese takeaway deliveries to this flat lately. My finger is still burning and typing seems to be aggravating this so I keep it short.
Prepare all your veg and set to one side. Score the duck skin in a criss cross pattern, and salt. Heat a frying pan. Place duck breasts skin side down in hot, dry pan. Fry for about 5 min on skin side and 3 on other side, depending on size, this should ensure a crispy skin and a pink middle.
Take the breasts out of the pan and rest on a board. Drain off fat bar about a teaspoonful (you can use this for frying potatoes in at another time). See cautionary tale above for tips on how to be a complete butter fingers and burn yourself. Add ginger and garlic to the pan, stir fry for a minute. Add the carrots, spring onions, soy, orange juice and zest. Stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add syrup or sugar and stir letting it bubble up into a sticky coating. Pile a heap of carrots onto each plate, slice duck diagonally and place on top. Serve.
I made this curry after a visit to Chennai Dosa on the London Road in Croydon. It’s an ace South Indian restaurant that has canteen style decor and friendly and receptive staff. It does Dosa by the dozen in any form you could think of and is delicious and very reasonable, they even do a 5 foot family dosa – now that’s something I might have to come back for! When we went we tried the Gobi (cauliflower) Dry Curry to start and then had Masala Dosa and Masala Dosa Paneer for mains. I love dosas but unfortunately haven’t tried making them as yet, I think it involves fermenting ground rice and that is perhaps a step to far in our a little flat. But it was the gobi that got me thinking, cauliflower is an excellent vegetable for taking on spice in a curry and after buying myself a nice head of it at my local green grocers I felt I ought to have a go. I went for a dry style curry like they served in the restaurant ( I think this is a bit more of a north Indian dish, tell me if I’m wrong). It is really easy to make and instead of the dosas I had dreamed of, I whipped up a kind of flat bread/pancake style gram flour mix to eat the curry with.
For the flat breads:
Par boil your cauliflower florets for 5 min, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Soften the sliced onion until translucent then fry for a couple of minutes with the garlic and ginger and the spices. Add the cauliflower and spring onions and mix together in the pan making sure the cauliflower absorbs all the flavours whilst still frying and heating through. Season and add a splash of water if it begins to stick.
For the breads:
Mix the flour, spices and salt with water until you get a pancake like batter the consistency of double cream. Heat a large frying pan and add enough oil to coat the base of the pan. Once hot add a ladle of the batter and tip the pan like your making pancakes so the batter spreads into the shape of the pan (basically treat this as a pancake batter). Once air bubbles appear on the surface, flip and cook until golden brown. If you are making more than 2 keep them warm in the oven whilst you finish off your curry.
Serve the curry and the breads together with some raita and get stuck in! I reckon this would work well as hot wraps as or as an additional dish to whole banquet of other curries.
I suspended the weekly supermarket shop this week for a couple of reasons; 1. I’m skint, 2. I’m sick of the Saturday morning trudge round the aisles, and 3. I want to do more with vegetables this week and if all that fails I’m going to try and use up some of the contents of the freezer (which contains meat!). So instead of the monotony of the Saturday morning supermarket run, I relaxed on my morning off and spent the afternoon taking a little stroll down to my favourite greengrocer in Addiscombe. They’ve recently had a fire so they’ve moved a little down the road to what was a small deli and set up shop there. It’s still great though and they have oodles of gorgeous, fresh produce with lots of variety to get that recipe brain ticking. I bought lots of things, in fact I was one of those annoying mums who load the pushchair with too many bags, but it was worth it. I bought some gorgeous veggies and I hope to post another recipe of my awesome cauliflower curry later. So to whet your appetite here is a little taster in the form of these lovely, light burgers. I say burgers, I didn’t put them in a bun, but I’m not sure what else to call these little beauties. They would be smashing in a bun or with a nice salad, a few chips or wedges or unadulterated in a large portion with a trickle of sweet chilli sauce.
Serves 1 on their own, or 2 with additions, makes about 4 burgers
Blitz your bread, mint and spring onions in a food processor until crumbed. Mix crumbs with grated courgette, feta and egg then form into patties. It makes quite a wet mixture, to compensate you can squeeze some of the juice from the courgette before you add it to the mix and once you have made the mix and formed into patties refrigerate for a while to set the mixture.
Fry the patties in a little olive oil until browned on both sides. Be gentle when turning, but have faith the egg will set it together! Serve on their own for a full on veggie burger feast for one or share in buns, with a salad and maybe a few cheeky chips!
p.s. If you don’t like feta (I’m talking to you E ;), try halloumi, grated – this was what I had intended to do but my local shop didn’t stock any so I used up the feta in my fridge instead.
I’m a bit obsessed with crispy things. Some of my old uni mates have a video of me raging round their kitchen ranting about crispy bacon as the antidote to all excesses, I think my words were ‘crispy, crispy bacon’ repeated over and over in a slightly dramatic but slurred fashion.
Crispy duck, crispy chips, crispy skin, crispy, crunchy, FRIED! It makes you hungry doesn’t it?
This is a dish I’ve wanted to do for some time but I can’t deal with deep frying in my flat, it’s too smelly and too risky with a toddler running around. Incidentally, I’m very good at persuading others to invest in a good old deep fat fryer though. On my last trip to see my parents, after years of my dad wanting one and my mum saying no way, Daddio and I went on a little shopping trip and what popped into his basket? But of course, a fryer, whoot whoot! Twice fried chips and onion rings a plenty when I visit. My plan worked!
Anyway, I’ve found an alternative to the traditional deep fry and corn flour batter option. It’s so fantastic I had it twice this week. You can find fine cornmeal in the supermarket usually in the Caribbean section, look for Island Sun.
2 chicken thigh fillets, boned
1 carrot, cut into fine strips
4 spring onions, shredded
A thumb sized piece of ginger, cut into fine strips
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 a long red chilli, finely chopped
A heaped dessertspoon of fine cornmeal
A level teaspoon of five spice powder
3/4 tablespoons of vegetable or sunflower oil
For the sauce:
2/3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon of ketchup
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 cup of water
1 teaspoon of corn flour or arrowroot
A splash of soy sauce
Prepare all the vegetables and set to one side.
Slice the chicken into fine shreds, about half a cm wide.
Mix the cornmeal with five spice and a pinch of salt.
Toss the chicken shreds in the cornmeal mix until lightly coated.
Heat wok or frying pan and add oil.
Fry the chicken on high until golden brown and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and set to one side.
Fry the garlic and ginger for a minute then add the rest of the vegetables and chilli with a splash of soy sauce and stir fry for a minute or two.
Put the veg to one side and add the vinegar, water, ketchup, soy and sugar to the pan.
Bubble up the sweet and sour sauce and mix the corn flour or arrowroot with a little more water and add to sauce. Let it thicken and taste, adjust the vinegar/sugar ratio if necessary.
Return the veg and chicken to the pan with the sauce and heat through.
Serve with boiled rice and a few prawn crackers, and rip up that take away menu! (or at least hide it until Friday)
So for dinner tonight (ok I know it’s early but we were hungry!) we had the above and the below.
For the potato salad:
Boil some new potatoes
Mix some mayo and creme fraiche (I used half fat) with plenty of salt and pepper. Add in the cooled potatoes, some finely chopped spring onions and some shredded spinach. Stir. Done.
For the sausages:
Mix up some BBQ sauce, basically combine ketchup, hoisin sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce and some agave syrup together. Then roll your sausages in it then cook in the oven for about 15/20 min depending on sausage size. You can go back to them and re glaze half way through cooking.
I think this may be a bit of cheats pickle, I kinda browsed the t’internet for ideas and then went out on a limb, I’m not too knowledgeable about pickling so I think this kinda thing will only last about a week in a jar, but it’s lush, and suddenly you’ll be pulling out bits of cheese and cold meats just so you can have a yummy snacking partner for this piquant treat.
I basically had a go at microwave sterilising the jar first (an old jam jar) but I figured I couldn’t do the top (it’s metal) so just washed that in extremely hot water and decided we’d eat it fast and not worry too much.
Then I half filled the jar with half red wine vinegar and half cider vinegar and a couple of spoonfuls of caster sugar. I stirred this well and tasted to check, I like a sweet pickle you might want to adjust. Then I sliced a smallish onion and packed it into the jar and poked it down so it was covered by the pickling liquor. I left it for a little while then couldn’t resist and snacked on some with some cheese, then later we had it with this dinner and went extremely well and I’m sure there may be more pickle action later but you’ll just have to watch this space. I think ideally this needs to stand for about 4 hours but do as you will…
I’ve had these rice paper wrappers in my cupboard for ages, when I first realised I was gluten intolerent I thought these might make up for the lack of bread but they’ve been gathering dust for months now and I thought I really must do something with them.
These little spring rolls make a healthier alternative to the deep fried ones, as delicious as they are, and are pretty straightforward to make. I went for a veggie option but I’m sure some shredded pork, duck or chicken would go very well in these.
Makes about 8
8 rice paper wrappers
6 spring onions, shredded
1 carrot, grated
A couple of handfuls of spinach
A teaspoon or two of curry powder
Some soy sauce, I used Tamari
A clove of garlic
About an inch of ginger
A handful of dried vermicelli rice noodles ( the really fine ones)
Some sweet chilli sauce for dipping
Some spray oil
Grate the ginger and garlic into a hot pan, add the carrot and spring onions, fry for a min or so, add curry powder and soy, fry for a min. Then add your spinach, cook quickly until starting to wilt then set aside in a bowl. Soak your vermicelli rice noodles and add to the veg mix.
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees.
Soak your rice paper wrappers one at a time in some warm water for about 10 seconds, I think its easier to do this as you go so they don’t dry out or stick together. Lay out your wrapper and dollop a little of the veg and noodle mix along the centre, roll and wrap, tucking the ends in as you go and lay on a greased baking tray.
Once they are all rolled and on the baking tray, spray genourously with oil, I guess you could brush some oil on if you don’t have any spray oil.
Put into a hot oven for about 20/25 min until crisp. They don’t need to brown, mine did slightly but as long as they are crisp they are done so have a little check after 20 min and then decide.
Serve with some sweet chilli sauce.
I made this for lunch today. It’s my first attempt at home made mayonnaise and I’m rather proud of the results and it wasn’t half as hard as I thought it might be (ok ok i did have a semi disaster as had hoped to make a lemony mayo but my first attempt was rather sour so I binned it and started again with a very nice sherry vinegar and it worked out!).
As usual I’m not going to be precise, it depends how many you are making for so just add appropriate amounts and give it a go.
For the fishcakes…
Spring onions, chopped
Tinned tuna, drained (dolphin friendly please!!)
Salt and pepper
Mix the ingredients together, form in to patties and fry off in a little hot oil. Pop the oven on and put in there to ensure heated through.
For the Basil Mayo…
1 egg yolk
a tablespoon or two of sherry vinegar
salt and pepper
About a tablespoon of shredded fresh basil
Whisk the egg yolk, vinegar and seasoning. Slowly trickle in the oil whisking quickly, my dad always said figure of eight, but just keep whisking and slowly adding oil until thick and glossy.
Add basil, stir, serve with your fish cakes. We ate ours with a little tomato and basil salad dressed with some more of that delicious sherry vinegar.