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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

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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
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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.

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All the contents pulled out and organised.

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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.

Waste Not, Want Not: Feeding5000

4 Dec

 

One of the enormous vats of vegetable curry

One of the enormous vats of vegetable curry



Just over a week ago, I found myself in Dublin, huddled in a soviet style tent for a free lunch.  In a bid to raise awareness on food waste, a British group called Feeding5k served up 5000 portions of vegetable curry made completely from food that would have otherwise been thrown out, washed down with freshly pressed juice made from apples that were left to rot on the trees of UCD.

Queues for a free lunch

Queues for a free lunch

All the apples "gleaned" from trees in UCD

All the apples “gleaned” from trees in UCD

The apples shredded before being squeezed

The apples shredded before being squeezed

One of the volunteers explaining how the apple press worked

One of the volunteers explaining how the apple press worked

Our free vegetable curry with poppadoms and apple juice

Our free vegetable curry with poppadoms and apple juice

All the vegetables used were gleaned from local farms, gleaning, as I learned that day, was once a tradition where the local people would harvest the surplus crop of commercial farmers. In today’s context, organisations like the Gleaning Network UK link farmers that are unable to harvest their vegetables because “they fail to meet the retail’s strict cosmetic standards or because of overproduction” and redistribute them to homeless shelters.

On their website, they quote from Tristram Stuart’s Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal that the “world’s nearly one billion hungry people could be lifted out of malnourishment on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe” alone. That for me is a mind boggling figure, especially when we see, due to rising food prices, that food poverty  is now on our own doorsteps.

While 25% of our household food is thrown out there is currently over 10% of the Irish population living in food poverty. With ever rising food costs, it seems insane that we, as a nation, are throwing away a quarter of our food. That is like me taking a quarter of my shopping budget for the week, changing it into 1 cent coins and throwing it at annoying people on the street. Great laugh in the short run, shameful (and most likely incriminating) in hindsight. (I don’t think that metaphor really works but main thing here is it’s all pretty stupid.)

So, thanks to Feeding5k, I have now decided, over the next few weeks, to try and reduce my food waste in hopes to:

a)      Ease my (now guilty) conscience

and

b)      Keep those much needed pennies in my pocket

Who knows, maybe it’ll work.

Watch this space.