Category Archives: Recipes

Rocket fuel

It was a busy weekend trying to keep up with what to make with all the nice things growing in the garden. I finally got around to making the radish tops soup. This was actually amazing. It tasted so nice. The slow sautéing of the onion really added a sweet flavour. The children loved it too surprisingly. I made fresh rolls with ham, cheese, lettuce, radish and mustard to go along with the soup. It all just tasted like more once gobbled up.

After that bit of sustenance, it was back out to the garden to figure out what to do with all the rocket, which was about to flower.  I decided to give it the chop, with the help of Seren. Any opportunity to use her scissors :)

Helping me snip the rocket.

I decided to make the old faithful pesto. Can’t go much wrong with that. Rocket is peppery so I wanted to add something that would counteract that. I toasted walnuts as they are sweet, plus I like the smell.

I made two different types:

Garlic and Rocket Pesto

  • clove of garlic
  • two handfuls of rocket
  • handful of walnuts
  • couple of glugs of oil
  • spoon of honey
  • squeeze of lemon
  • pinch of sea salt

Throw it all in a blender/mixer and give it a blast. I added some parmesan but this could be added before eating.

Rocket and sun-dried Tomato Pesto

  • three to four sun-dried tomato halves, soaked in oil
  • two handfuls of rocket
  • handful of walnuts
  • couple of glugs of oil
  • spoon of honey
  • squeeze of lemon
  • pinch of sea salt

Repeat the same process as above. Make sure to pour the pesto into sterilized jars. Use them whatever pleases you!

 By the way, does anyone know of a more appetising name for the soup. Radish top soup is not very appealing!

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The jewel in the garden.

I planted nasturtiums in the garden a while back and they are really taking off now. There is one especially that sits next to the raspberry bushes and it is flourishing in that particular spot. I had no idea that it could creep along the ground until one day I spotted a cheeky runner making its way to the wall! I am fond of this plant though (perhaps a bit unhealthily, as if it were my child). It is the first and best of the lot of nasturtiums and I watch it proudly growing each day. Every evening I go out to inspect its progress. Tonight I discovered that it was harbouring its own microcosm! Lo and behold there was the first flower bud holding its head up with great pride, as it should. Look at how aerodynamic it is. It reminds me of the shape of a raptor’s head (but much more beautiful of course :))

The flower is not alone however. On every leaf there is a different occupant. Here is a little yellow spider who has delicately spun his web using the leaf’s edges as his frame.

He’s not the tidiest little fella though, not having cleaned up after his dinner. Yuck!

Across the way, little white fly eggs have been laid with military precision. Peter sorrowfully informed me that these are not the friendliest things to ooh and aah over as they will devour the neighbouring carrots. 

Buh-bye eggies. Thank goodness for parasitic wasps to take care of these little things. They lay their eggs in the white fly eggs. It’s a cruel world. Not the prettiest thing to look at (turn away now if bugs make you want to vomit!).

Although the meandering lines across the leaves look nice, these are as a result of leaf miners. I enjoy squashing them between my finger tips, a bit sadistic, I know, but effective.

I guess that’s why the nasturtium is so suited to being a companion plant in the garden. It attracts all sorts of trouble by luring  nasty bugs toward it with its giant saucers for leaves and exotic jewels for flowers.

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I love radishes!

From little seeds great things grow!

The radishes have come up trump in the garden! At first, I was a bit reluctant for Peter to plant them. I mean, one is a bit limited when it comes to what to do with a radish, right? Thoughts came to mind of radish rose garnishes but besides that my mind went blank. Well, considering the amount of seeds Peter sowed, I had better come up with some ideas.  In his excitement at the prospect of future growth, Peter sowed all the seeds. We had reminded ourselves after our last glut of cabbages (which we fed half the neighbourhood with) to be strict advocates of successional planting. As you can see from the above picture, this was not followed through with. So now we have radishes coming out of our yahoos!

Luckily, I am now a reborn radish addict! I underrated the radish for far too long. Pulling up the first radish filled me with glee.

I spy with my little eye.

The moment of truth.

Et voila.

 This weekend I hope to make radish top soup. This name does nothing for it and my kids will probably think I am trying to poison them, ha. But I hear these leaves are high in antioxidants and all sorts of other goodness, so why not. It’s the same as with any vegetable soup. Sautee chopped onion and garlic. Add some leek or celery. Then throw in the washed radish tops. Wilt down. Then add a litre or so of chicken stock, with an added chopped potato or two. Simmer until cooked then blend. Serve with a dollop of cream. I would also like to try roasting the radishes. They will probably lose their crispiness but I bet they go good with a splash of balsamic.

I am so glad we have these growing in the garden now. It’s definitely been a learning experience for me anyway. But my children will probably have an aversion to radishes for life!

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Velvety sin.

I made this for dessert for our Easter Sunday feast. Yes, it has taken me a month and a half to post it, but better late than never! It was to die for. The chocolate was so rich.  I used O’Connaill’s organic chocolate, which is made in Co. Cork. The smell of the chocolate alone was enough to send me into a cocoa coma.

The chocolate really acted as a launch pad for the floral-citrus flavours of the cardamom. This spice changed the mousse into a luxury, which was sinfully delicious. I loved crushing the cardamom pods in the mortar, releasing the smell throughout the kitchen. The kids loved sticking their noses in to experience this new smell.

I poured the mousse into little Moroccan tea glasses. It was great because I could prepare it and put them in the fridge the day before. This saved on time the next day amidst the frenzy of cooking three other courses.

Chocolate & cardamom mousse, amaretti and coffee

Chocolate & Cardamom Mousse

2oog good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

100ml single cream

4 eggs, separated

1 teaspoon caster sugar

half teaspoon cardamom seeds

(this serves 4 people)

Method

Break the chocolate into a glass bowel suspended over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir often to make sure that no lumps form.

Ready for action!

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, egg yolks, sugar and cardamom seeds.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the whisked eggs into the chocolate mixture.

Fold in gently to allow air into the mixture

Pour the chocolate mixture into individual glasses and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.

Pour into cups or glasses, even espresso cups will do

This recipe is taken from Homemade: Irresistible recipes for every occasion by Clodagh McKenna, 2010

Of course this would not have achieved without the help of my two trusty tasters helpers.

Olwyn's gobstopper

Seren's chocolate beard

Then it was seriously a case of death by chocolate…

I don't need instructions on how to eat this!

See! I am an expert at it.

I think Babi and Olwyn approve.

And the award for the biggest chocaholic goes to...

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Food for thought…

Flavour thesaurus

 

The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, Bloomsbury, London, 2010

I got this book for Christmas as a gift and I think I have a crush on it. I secretly get butterflies in my tummy when it is time for bed because I get so excited at the prospect of reading about mad flavour combinations. The only problem is I usually get hungry at the thought of all this good food and end up having dreams about asparagus or something.

This book is great for the amateur who is afraid to break free from recipe books and trust their own instincts. However, it is also brilliant for those who have an appreciation for food, like me. In my opinion, this is just a good read let alone a wealth of knowledge about the food world.

The author, Niki Segnit, has a good sense of humour and is not afraid to say if something sounds disgusting if she finds something so. Although in her introduction Segnit does state that everyone’s taste buds differ and that your cultural background also determines to an extent how you sense and describe flavour. I thought this to be very perceptive of her as a writer catering to a wide audience. This is reflected in the selection of recipes and foods in Segnit’s book. They vary from American to Chinese, to Japanese, to French etc. Segnit makes the book accessible for those who may not be master chefs and familiar with the lingo of the kitchen. She also gives recipes of her own. But she does not shy away from recipes of renowned chefs, such as Nigel Slater, Ken Hom, Antonio Carluccio and Nigella Lawson, either.

The book is informative and gives the history of certain foods e.g. how the bulking out of chocolate with ground hazelnuts eventually led to the invention of Nutella. Each food is given an introduction which gives a general description of its appearance or taste, titbits of history and how to prepare it. Included in the rear of the book, as well as a general index, is a pairings index, which I have found most helpful to glance through, when I am looking for some quick inspiration.

What have I learnt from this book? Trust your instincts (and taste buds) and don’t be afraid to experiment with flavours.

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Bun in the oven!

I felt like making something different for brunch. I came across this recipe on a great blog – http://mygrandparentskitchen.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/bacon-and-eggs-in-a-roll/

It is very simple to make. All you need is:

  • as many bread buns as you need
  • eggs
  • bacon
  • herbs; parsley, oregano etc.

Cut the buns in half and scoop out the inside of the bottom half. Keep the top half for later.

Make sure that you make a decent enough hole in the bun. Otherwise the egg will spill over the edges.

If you have children, let them help with scooping out the bread and picking off the leaves from the fresh herbs. In Seren’s case, she will probably eat everything. I caught her quite contentedly shoving chives into her mouth, “making them disappear” as she said.

Next, place short strips of bacon into the holes. Then crack an egg on top of the bacon.

Seren loved helping to make this and enjoyed even more the act of eating it!

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rampaging ramsons!

Here are some ideas of what to make with ramsons, which are also known as wild garlic or bear’s garlic. It is more akin to chives than to the garlic bought in the shops. Not only is it free to pick in woodland areas from March to end of April but it is also quite diverse.

So here are some thoughts:
First off, you can make the easy classic wild garlic soup. This was originally a war-time soup. It is made with potato and ramsons and a dash of cream.

Shove a few handfuls of ramson leaves into a chicken, together with a lemon. This gives the chicken a sweet garlicy taste. Roast the chicken breast side down for the first hour. Then turn over for the last 30 minutes.  I made this on Sunday and it was to die for!

Jamie Oliver makes a ramson carbonara. He blends the ramsom leaves in with the carbonara sauce before adding the cooked spaghetti to it. I reckon this is a good way to introduce ramsons to children. Here’s hoping they are not discouraged by the green colour!

The first recipe that pops into people’s minds is of course the ever-popular  pesto. I like to make mine with a twist – using walnuts instead of pine nuts. For a milder pesto try sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves and ramson leaves with the obligatory pine nuts, olive oil and pecorino.

Ramsons go well with eggs. So scramble your eggs and sprinkle freshly torn ramson leaves over it when cooked. Alternatively, you could make a light omelette.

Another way is to make a goats-cheese and ramson quiche.

Throw in a handful of torn leaves into some mashed potato, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Lastly, mix the chopped leaves with butter and lemon zest. Form it into a roll and freeze. Then when you have a fillet of salmon/steak cut off a piece as a sauce.

And there you have it! Now get picking…

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