I have moved!

10 Feb

I can’t believe I forgot to do this!

So as you my have noticed seeing that my last post was over a year ago I’m not using this site any more however I have been writing my NEW BLOG called the Garden Glutton (hurrraaay for alliteration!!) So follow the link for more of my ridiculous attempts at growing foraging and cooking my own food!

 

http://thegardenglutton.wordpress.com/

Recipe; Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

15 Mar
Jerusalem artichoke gratin, runner beans with lemon and mayo

Jerusalem artichoke gratin, runner beans with lemon and rosemary mayo

This week we were cleaning out the vegetable garden and I came across  the last vegetables, unloved, discarded and ready to be thrown into the compost bin. Over my dead body, thought I.

Among the  carrots, parnsips and onions were some knobbly tubers that I have never cooked or eaten before.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Before I give you the recipes I have a few words of warning on them. First is this unassuming vegetable goes by another name, Fartichokes as due to some gas being released during the break down it make you..y’know… fart. Secondly if you put your fears of flatulence aside you will come up against another problem HOW IN GODS NAME DO YOU PEEL THEM?? Jerusalem artichokes look alot like root ginger and are about as small so peeling them would be a disaster. Luckily, I have found a solution to this through some in-depth research ( I typed HOW DO YOU PEEL A JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE??! into google) and it turns out boiling them for 8-10 minutes and letting them cool will allow you easily peel off the skin.

The resulting taste was great, like a light mash with a sweet nutty taste that went really nicely with a crunchy breadcrumb topping and a hair raising-ly zingy lemon and rosemary mayonnaise.  Though, I must admit, they were not kidding about the gaseous tendencies. Note for future, do not consume around your significant other or they will not be around for long.

So if you’re all by yourself some day (there is a reason this recipe is for one) then make this for a good hearty lunch.

And remember I did warn you.

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Serves 1

Steam or boil 4 large handfuls of washed artichokes for 8-10mins until tender (same as potatoes)

Drain and when cool peel the skin off with your hands

Mash and add a small knob of butter and a dash of cream, season with salt and pepper

Put into a ovenproof bowl or small casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs and whack it under the grill for 5 mins or until the breadcrumbs are toasted

Served with runner beans and lemon and rosemary mayo ( add a teaspoon of lemon juice, some lemon zest and some chopped rosemary to a tablespoon of mayo)

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes straight from the garden

Lemon and Rosemary Mayonnaise

Lemon and Rosemary Mayonnaise

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Jerusalem Artichoke Gratin

Drinking Wine at the Kelly’s Resort Hotel

11 Mar
Reception at the Kelly's Resort

Reception at the Kelly’s Resort

Ok, so, this may seem like a smug brag barely veiled as a review but.. no, that is exactly what this is. I was spoiled rotten for a full 24 hours in a lavish hotel and I am unashamedly shouting it from the cyber rooftops of my site.

Last week I was  invited to taste some wines of the Loire valley in the famous Kelly’s Resort Hotel, and really, as a struggling blogger/allotment field hand, who was I to refuse?

Situated in the small port town of Rosslare in Wexford, Kelly’s Resort has that old school charm of a prestigious hotel brought into the 21st century.  I had already heard awed stories from friends and family about their lavish bedrooms, beautiful restaurants, top quality food, afternoon teas, and cheeses served from little trolleys but what blew me away was the way in which we were treated… a strange mixture between best friend and royalty.

Now yes, I am aware that we were treated as such because we were reviewing the place, but as I looked around during our lunch in the Beaches restaurant (which by the way was great, though it was traditional, it was exactly right for the place; classic food done perfectly) I realised everyone was receiving the same treatment. During each course our waitress would return to make sure everything was ok, and a few minutes later we would have various managers making their rounds, asking if everything was alright, how our stay was going and generally making happy small talk. Though initially I found this amount of hospitality over bearing (at one point, asking a waitress where the rest room was, she guided me right to the door and for a moment I thought she was going to join me) I oh-too-soon became accustomed to it.

Three Way Smoked Trout Crostini

Spicy Chicken Wings With Prawn Crackers

Three Way Smoked Trout Crostini

Three Way Smoked Trout Crostini

Pan Fried Lemon Sole with Grilled Courgettes

Pan Fried Lemon Sole with Grilled Courgettes

Stuffed Lamb Shoulder

Stuffed Lamb Shoulder

Warm Chocolate Brownie with Raspberry Sorbet

Warm Chocolate Brownie with Raspberry Sorbet

Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis, Crushed Macaroons and Apple Foam

Panna Cotta with Raspberry Coulis, Crushed Macaroons and Apple Foam

After we had settled into our room and had our afternoon tea on the balcony looking over the sea (*insert smug tone) I received a call from reception to advise us that there was a change of plan and instead of taking part in a wine tasting with Arnaud Bourgeois and other guests (It only ran during the week) we would be having a private tasting with Mr. Kelly himself.

Bill (we’re best buddies now, I can call him Bill) was a never-ending fountain of knowledge and brought us through each wine with such passion and enthusiasm and without feeling like we were being lectured. Telling us in depth about the areas where the wine was produced, the style used in that region, how the grapes variety/year/soil all affect the taste and smell of the wine and the characters of the people who make it really brought the wines to life.

We tasted 6 wines in total ranging from a light crisp Sauvignon from Touraine to a jammy sweet bio-dynamically produced red Bourgueil and finishing with a 2010 Clos Des Pape, a very special bottle from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, one of the most renowned regions in France. This bottle came from Bill’s brother in law’s vineyard and was one of the most enjoyable and complex wines I have ever tasted. Though I usually find the language used by wine tasters to be flowery nonsense, I could smell the tobacco, liquorice and blackberry jam that was described.

After the tasting we were told, much to my idiotic delight, we could take two of our favourite wines from the tasting for dinner and I have never been happier my companion preferred to drink white wine, leaving lil’ old me to drink the Clos Des Pape (the bottle of which has now has a place of honour on my kitchen table)

Chateau de la Saule

Chateau de la Saule

Voigner

Voigner

Domaine Baron

Domaine Baron

Clos Des Pape, from the owners brothers vineyard

Clos Des Pape, from the owners brothers vineyard

After our tasting Bill brought us to the Marina Bistro, which is attached to the bar, it was a more relaxed atmosphere then the Beaches restaurant where we had our lunch and our waitress was lovely, chatty and had a great knowledge of both the wines and the food menu. The food again was traditional with a nice twist, I had mussels with garlic and my companion ordered a slightly odd combination of Texas style baby ribs with pak choi , stir fried noodles and French aioli, but it actually worked really well. My mussels were perfectly cooked; large, sweet and plump, served neatly in a circle ( though I do prefer to have a messy bowl of shells I can pick my way through).

The star of the meal for me was my confit of duck, on a bed of lentils with champ and a grilled slice of aubergine. Though I thought the aubergine unnecessary, the duck was spot on. Breaking my fork through its amazing crackling-like skin into soft strips of tender meat that fell off the bone, mopped up with the lentils and mash which tasted fantastic with my wine.

After squeezing dessert in (a light chocolate mousse and a really amazing lemon meringue pie) we went to the bar and decided to get a whiskey while we listened to the flamboyant, two-piece band perform an interesting remdition of Shirley Bassey’s “Big Spender”. We wanted something different and the bar man suggested Bushmill’s Limited Millennium Edition, which was great but cost 13.50 each, something we couldn’t really complain about seeing that was the only thing we had payed for.

Grilled Mussels in Garlic Butter

Grilled Mussels in Garlic Butter

Barbarque Ribs with Stir-fried Noodles, Pak Choi and Aioli

Barbarque Ribs with Stir-fried Noodles, Pak Choi and Aioli

Rib Eye Steak with Dauphinoise Potatoes

Rib Eye Steak with Dauphinoise Potatoes

Confit of Duck with Sweet and Sour Lentils, Champ and Grilled Aubergine

Confit of Duck with Sweet and Sour Lentils, Champ and Grilled Aubergine

Lemon Meringue with Raspberry Sorbet

Lemon Meringue with Raspberry Sorbet

White and Dark Chocolate Mousse

White and Dark Chocolate Mousse

The next morning we woke up and went to reception where I was told had an hour massage booked for 11. Delighted, we made our way to breakfast where we chose freshly squeezed orange juice, fruit salad and then a full Irish fry up. Good comfort food served by very bubbly, friendly staff.

Fresh Fruit Salad

Fresh Fruit Salad

Full Irish Breakfast

Full Irish Breakfast

I made my way down to the spa, which is beautiful and modern, and I was pampered with a body massage with oils of my choosing and my boyfriend was left to use the rest of the spa facilities which included three thermals suits, a mist shower room with heated pebbles and fresh sea water plunge pool.

As we went to check out to get our train back to the city, the manager sent for a car and gave us a box filled with sandwiches, salads, fruit and water “for the journey”.

And with that, two very happy, pampered and full bellied paupers returned to reality knowing that some day (when we become significantly wealthier) we will return.

Kelly’s resorts are currently doing 5 day Spring offers from 475 euro full board per person

Further information can be found on their website

And the Lord said, “Let There be Pancakes”

11 Feb

I’m not the religious type.

One could go as far to say I’m not religious at all, I would probably be struck with a bolt of lightening if I entered a church. However, kudos to any religion that encourages you to gobble up all your fatty foods in one day.

Though, yes, the whole point of Pancake Tuesday is to get ready for the following 40 days of misery that is Lent, I omitted the last bit and decided to be a glut for the day. So, while others are grappling with what goodies to give up for the Lord, I was battling over what type of pancakes to make; the French crepe or the American style pancake.

Le Crepe vs the Stack Pancake

Le Crepe vs the Stack Pancake

Deciding between the two is a bit troubling for me as both recipes come from two of my closest  friends. While my childhood was filled with countless days making light, delicate doily-like crepes with the childhood partner-in-crime, Nicola, adulthood (and the hangovers it created) brought an appreciation for the mountain of fluffy fat pancakes through my Icelandic friend, Sola.

So, unable to choose between either recipe, the same way I could never choose between either lovely ladies, I made both and sorely wished they were here to eat them with me.

You decide which recipe you want to use, the important thing is to just make them yourself. Pancakes truly are the training bra of baking and nothing is more depressing then a rubbery shop bought pancake.

Seriously.

That sort of thing makes baby Jesus cry.

Sola’s Stack Pancakes 

Sola's Stack Pancakes

Sola’s Stack Pancakes

(You can see the original recipe here )

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

2 eggs

butter for the pan

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, milk and eggs together until the batter is smooth. Leave to sit for at least half an hour.Use a small ladle to pour some batter on a medium hot frying pan. (Use some butter to make sure the pancakes don’t stick to the pan). Bake the pancakes for a couple of minutes on each side until they become golden and fluffy.

Nicola’s Fancy Crepes

Nicola's Crepe

Nicola’s Crepe

2 cup flour

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2-3 cups of milk

Stir flour and sugar together in a bowl. Make a well and crack eggs in the middle, add milk and vanilla to centre, slowly mix until all flour is incorporated. Leave to sit for at least half an hour. Put a rounded edge shallow non stick frying pan on a medium high heat, brush with some butter add a small ladle of batter and swirl pan to spread the mixture thinly. Flip after a minute or so, when the underside is golden. Flip with a spatula and cook the other side for another minute.

Recipe: Maple Syrup, Banana and Walnut Porridge

3 Feb
Maple Syrup, Banana, and Walnut Porridge

Maple Syrup, Banana, and Walnut Porridge

It’s weird the things you learn to love.

When I was a little demon child I used to hate porridge. My granddad would come to visit and would, without fail, make his “famous porridge” which my sibling loved and I belligerently refused (I never knew if they actually loved it or ate it to be nice, but he did seem to sneak them more sugar sandwiches then me…). I hated it, there was something about the glue-like consistency and the fact he would mix it with salt and water and only a drop of milk, I was a kid, I needed my sugar fix.

But nowadays, with my granddad sadly long gone, I have found a love for the stuff, creamy, gooey, comforting and a basis for any flavour; cinnamon, raisins, blueberries, any berries, vanilla, chocolate and, my favourite, banana and walnut.

This recipe, like most my recipes, came from what I had kicking about in the kitchen; bananas that were looking past their best, a handful of walnuts left from a disastrous attempt at baking and the ever present maple syrup. Use whatever you want.

So, if you’re trying to be healthy then make porridge, it’s great, but if you don’t give a damn about the waste line then make THIS porridge, it’s better.

Maple Syrup, Banana and Walnut Porridge

(Just enough for lil’ old you)

Throw 1/2 cup of quick oats in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of milk and 1 cup of water, bring slowly to the boil stirring frequently

Reduce to a simmer, keep stirring until the oatmeal is soft and the porridge has thickened (about 5 mins)

Add a small knob of butter and small pinch of salt and sugar (or however much you want, I’m not going to start a porridge debate)

Turn off the heat and cover

In separate pan toast a small handful of walnuts on a medium heat, remove and chop.

Add a knob of butter to the pan and, when the butter foams, add slices of banana

Cook until caramelised and flip over and caramelise the other side. (about a minute?)

Serve the porridge in a bowl, top with the walnut and banana and pour some of that maple syrup on top.

Enjoy!

Waste Not, Want Not: Bottom-of-The-Fridge Stew

19 Jan
Spicy Chirizo and Lentil Stew

Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Stew

I know it doesn’t have the sexiest of titles but this is actually really tasty. I make this stew (or a variation of it, depending on what I have lying around the kitchen) once every week or two and it always turns out well. And it’s cheap!! I tried working out how much it costs per person but, since ALL the ingredients came from ransacking the remains in my fridge, I have no idea. Also, I want to tell you about my new frugal best friend: Smoked Bacon Off-Cuts. You can get a huge value pack of it in Aldi for under 2 squid and you can cut it up for omelettes/soups/stews/anything really( bacon fudge?) and it lasts for frickin’ ages.

I realised another way I’m saving money and reducing my food waste is generally buying and eating less meat. Though in no way am I a vegetarian (I devoured a rack of lamb only last week and I was still gnawing on the bones as the waitress pulled my plate away), my weekly meat purchases tend to be things like tinned anchovies (fantastic for sauces), the aforementioned bacon and, if I’m feeling posh, some chorizo.

So anyway, this is my Bottom-of-The-Fridge (or Spicy Lentil and Chorizo if you want to sound fancy) Stew, you can change it around with whatever vegetables you have in your fridge or freezer, the main important things are chorizo, tomatoes and as much garlic as social decorum will allow (I take that back, balls to social decorum, throw in as much garlic as you can. Garlic for all!)

Enjoy!

Spicy Lentil and Chorizo Stew

(Serves 4)

Put a large heavy  bottomed pot on a medium heat and add tablespoon of olive oil.

Add a handful of roughly chopped smoked bacon and chorizo, fry until crispy.

Add one onion, one leek, 5 cloves of garlic (yaay, garlic), 1 large carrot, 1 handful of cabbage and 2 handfuls of baby potatoes, all roughly chopped.

Add a tablespoon of dried chilli flakes (less if you don’t want it too spicy, obviously).

Stir and sauté for 3-4 mins.

Add a tin of lentils, a tin of chopped tomatoes (both 400g tins) and a teaspoon of sugar. Fill one of the empty tins with boiling water and a chicken stock cube and throw in as well.

Reduce to a simmer, add a bouquet garni (if you have all the herbs).

Cover and let it cook on the lowest heat for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Stir in 2 big handfuls of rocket or baby spinach.

Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Waste Not, Want Not: What’s in Your Fridge?

10 Jan
IMG_1267

The unpromising looking fridge.

This morning I woke up to headlines reporting up to 50% of all food produced is wasted and an average of 580 euros is thrown out per household each year. Crazy stuff, thought I.

We’re all guilty of it, we all look into the fridge and see carrots semi-frozen to fridge floor, half empty cartons of now soured cream and leftovers from a week ago that have turned into their own little ecosystem. So, being skint as I am, I decided to check what was actually in our kitchen and see how many meals I could make out of it.

I braced myself for a bit of dreaded organisation (puke) and ransacked the kitchen in the middle of the week, the usual time when we start complaining there is nothing to eat. I was shocked and almost embarrassed with how much food there was.

IMG_1294

All the contents pulled out and organised.

IMG_1307

Voilà! An ever-so-slightly more organised fridge.

After making a list of all the food we had (sad, I know) I used some online recipe generators, (BBC Good Food is my favourite)  and was able to make enough meals for a week, with only a few extra groceries needed to be purchased.

I was also delighted to find out I had everything I needed to make FALAFELS!! Falafels are little spiced chickpea burgers, usually served, in a wrap, to drunken vegetarian art students from Turkish takeaways, but don’t let that put you off! They are great, tasty, healthy (if you bake them), and cheap as chickpeas ( Ha, see what I did there? Cheap as… never mind, my fantastic jokes are wasted on you lot)

Dinner became a bit of a Indian themed veggie feast, with roasted spiced broccoli and cauliflower, yellow rice (I used turmeric instead of saffron) and carrot salad, all made from things we had lying in the fridge.

So if you fancy saving yourself some pennies then check your fridge, try a recipe finder and get cooking!

Falafel, curried veg, carrot salad, yellow rice and cucumber and mint yogurt dip

Cumin Falafels, Spiced Cauliflower and Broccoli, with Yellow Rice and Carrot Salad.


Cumin Spiced Falafels:

(I followed the Slimming World recipe, as I have folks who are trying to diet here, cough *lame* cough, but it was surprisingly tasty even though they don’t look like much)

( Oh and also, if, like me, you don’t have a food processor an immersion blender will work, but attempting to use a jug blender and a wooden spoon will result in a half processed mixture with chunks of wooden spoon and you driven insane. Don’t do it.)

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 2x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp very finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 small egg
  • Salt
  • Low calorie cooking spray (If your not on a diet just use bland tasting oil, like sunflower/vegetable/peanut oil)
  1. Place the onion, carrot, chickpeas, garlic, ginger, cumin, chilli powder and the ground and fresh coriander in a food processor. Pulse and process for 1-2 minutes until blended but still fairly chunky in texture.
  2. Transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl. Lightly beat the egg and add to the mixture. Season with salt and, using your fingers, mix thoroughly to combine. Cover and chill in the fridge for 6-8 hours to firm up and allow the flavours to develop.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and spray lightly with low calorie cooking spray. Shape the chickpea mixture into 24 bite-sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Spray lightly with low calorie cooking spray and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and crispy.