Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

The trilogy is complete!

So, on Monday there was still a load of chicken broth left that I had made the day before out of the left overs of Saturdays Roast Chicken, so I used it as stock to whip up his little number. Yes, that's right, I got THREE meals out of one! Don't you know there is a recession on? No throwing away useful stuff, though I do draw the line at saving potato peelings....

I know my recipes on the blog have been a bit soup heavy of late, but the truth is, I really love soup. And there's more to come so no complaining, Ok? Soup is delicious, quick to make, and really healthy. Granted, this one is bit naughty as soups go, as it has cheese and milk in it, but its really yummy s0 what harm once in a while?! At least its not a deep fried mars bar.


1 white onion
3 cloves garlic
1 whole cauliflower
1 large potato, diced
1 Litre of chicken (or veg) stock
1/2 Litre Milk
about 100g grated white cheddar (more if y0u like!)

Chop the onion and garlic and saute them in a large pot in some olive oil. When they are soft add the cauliflower, cut up into small florets, and the diced potato. Pour in the stock and simmer until the veg is very soft (about 15-20 mins). Liquidise this until very smooth using a stick blender, and then and add the milk. Bring back up to simmering point, take off the heat and add the grated cheddar. Stir to melt it into the soup, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. A teaspoon of mustard stirred in can be good too.

Chicken Broth

The loveliness of Leftovers

This soup really is a thin broth, and can also be used like a stock to make risottos, other soups, etc. Its is a great way to use the remains of your Sunday roast and make two (or three) meals out of one bird! I make a much more substantial version using a raw chicken, which I will blog as soon as someone in the house gets a cold, so far this winter we have been spared! This version comes from my mother, who got it from her mother, who also gave us the recipe for borscht. Its real authentic Jewish chicken soup and is great for cheering you up and curing all ills.

I made this on Sunday after we had roast chicken for dinner on Saturday. I could have added noodles, rice, sweetcorn, other types of veg or matzo balls ( I will get my mum to demonstrate these soon, they are a classic accompaniment) to bulk it out a bit, but I kind of like the simpleness of this, garnish with a few chopped scallions and your away! Just make sure you have it with bread if your hungry.

1 chicken carcass with some left over meat still on it
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 white onion
6 pepper corns
Bay Leaf
about 3 Litres cold water
2 or 3 spring onions
Get the biggest pot you own and place your chicken carcass (with as much meat left on it as possible) in it. I even save the leg bones from peoples plates and put them in too. Any skin or gristle is also welcome, it will be strained out later and it all adds flavour.

Cover the carcass with cold water until it is just covered. The amount of water will depend on the size of your pot and your chicken. Peel the onion and the carrot, chop them in half and add to the pot. Half your stick of celery and throw that in too, along with the pepper corns and bay leaf.

Bring the whole thing to the boil, turn down the heat until you have a good energetic simmer, cover and leave to cook for at least an 1 1/2 hours, more if possible. The liquid will reduce, but you don't want it to reduce too much, or you will have no soup left! You should end up with about half the liquid you had originally. Remove the carcass and all the bones and veg and strain the liquid through a sieve and back into a pot. Place the carcass on a chopping board or plate and remove all of the meat that you can find. Add this back in to the soup. Taste and season.

If the chicken didn't have very much flavour to begin with, you won't have a flavourful soup. You can get around this by adding half a chicken stock cube or stock pot, don't be ashamed!
Serve and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Roast Chicken with apricot and white clonakilty pudding stuffing

Post pub roastiness

It was a Saturday afternoon. Lu and I were very much looking forward to a certain television show that will remain nameless, but for convenience I will code name 'The Y Element' (say no more, its shameful, I know), both our respective boyfriends were coming over and in a snap inspired decision we knew that a traditional roast was the order of the day.

This was the easiest ever to make, as we just stuffed it, surrounded it with vegetables, shoved the whole thing in the oven and repaired to the local for a few well deserved pre-prandial Guinnesses. We returned to a house that smelled amazing, made some gravy and were all sat down in front of the fire and the box by 8pm.

I'm going to go through it step by step, starting with the stuffing. A long post but worth it!

Stuffing ingredients:
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic
A few sprigs fresh sage
2/3 pack of breadcrumbs
3 oz butter
about 10 dried apricots
1/2 a Clonakilty white pudding

Begin by chopping the onion, garlic and sage. melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cover and sweat until they are soft and translucent. add the sage and breadcrumbs and mix well so that the butter soaks in to the crumbs. If you need more butter of crumbs, now is the time. Finely chop the apricots and mix them in. Then slice and crumble the white pudding and mix this in too. Allow to cool for about 15 mins and use to stuff your chicken.

Chicken prep:
Drizzle olive oil on the bird and sprinkle with salt. Then rub the salt well into the skin. This will make sure it is lovely and crisp. Slice 3 cloves of garlic in half lengthwise. Use the point of a knife to make 6 slits in the skin of the chicken, and push the garlic slivers in underneath the skin.

We used carrots, parsnips and new potatoes (which we didn't bother to peel).
Peel the parsnips and carrots and cut them into long pieces of roughly the same size. Get your roomiest roasting dish and drizzle it with olive oil. In the middle of the dish, build a sort of platform of parsnips and carrots, and place the chicken on top of this. Scatter the remaining veg, including the new potatoes (or peeled old potatoes, cut into smaller pieces).

Place the whole thing in the oven at 190c for 1 1/2 -2 hours, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy and the juices run clear when you poke a skewer in under the chicken's leg

At this point, take the chicken out and place it in a different dish. Ditto the veg. Put it back into a very low oven to keep it warm while you make the gravy.

Cook up whatever green veg you are using (Broccoli is my personal fave) and reserve to cooking water. Place your roasting tray which you used to cook the chicken onto a low heat on your stove. Sprinkle 2 tbsps flour into the pan juices and stir it around until its all mixed together with the juices, little burned bits, stray pieces of garlic and escaped stuffing. All of this will make your gravy more delish. add some of the water from the veg, and a good glug of white or red wine. Bring to a simmer and stir until it has thickened. I prefer my gravy to be nice an light and thin rather than gloopy and brown like Bisto. If you need to get more flavour in to the gravy, you can add half a chicken stock cube, a few drops of Worcester or soy sauce, and of course, salt and pepper.

Carve your bird and serve!

I love to use the carcass of the chicken to make a gorgeous roast chicken broth. Recipe to follow in next post!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tasty Filling Barley Stew

Come share with me your pearls of wisdom, and give us some of your soup while your at it

I have loved pearl barley ever since I was a kid and my mum would put it into Irish stew. I wanted to make a nice barley filled chunky soup, this soup however got so thick it turned into a stew!

2 onions finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
3 carrots diced
3 sticks of celery finely sliced
3 small potatoes cubed
1 cup of pearl barley
1.5 pints of stock
6 leaves of sage shopped (can use dried if you like)
Sprig of rosemary - chopped
Salt and pepper
Oil of choice

Fry up your onion for 1 minute in your oil over a medium heat, then add in your garlic, rosemary and sage- cook until soft and translucent. Stir in your barley and fill up with stock, bring to a gentle boil. You can now use this time to prepare your vegetables. After about 20 mins of simmering pop in your veg and potatoes. Leave to simmer for another 20 mins until the barley is soft with a little bite and the potatoes are cooked. Serve!

Of you want a more soupy consistency - just add more stock

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vegan Veggie Burritos

Yup you heard that right - veganNow that's true until you top it with cheddar - but burritos are a handy option if you ever have to feed a mixture of Vegan/Veggies and Carnivores all at once. Throw lots of stuff into little bowls - give people tortillas and let them build their own.

Lola braved the outside world to get the ingredients for our dinner tonight - so I had these ready when she got back (by ready I mean shouting down the stairs at her to check the rice when she came in wet and cold!) Sorry honey I love you really.

Now I bought some black turtle beans which are super good for you, they were on my list of superfoods back in May. Unfortunately they require soaking for 24 hours and then boiling for 45mins - so I put them on to soak yesterday - super organised me, so super organised I mis-read a 24 hour clock and was an hour early meeting my friends for a gig - how the bouncers laughed. The place wasn't even open!

Tortilla wraps
For the re fried beans
I cup of black turtle beans
I onion
2 cloves of garlic
Big slurp of olive oil
sprig of rosemary
1 teaspoon ground coriander
big pink of chili flakes
1 teaspoon paprika

For the 'slaw
1 big leaf of cabbage finely sliced
1 large carrot grated
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Other toppings
pickled chillies
Tomatoes with coriander
Grated cheddar (not for the vegans)
Brown rice
Avocado or guacamole
sour cream
anything that tickles you fancy

Soak your beans overnight, then cover with water and bring to the boil with the sprig of rosemary. Simmer for 40 mins. Drain and then add salt after cooking, this helps reduce the unwanted side effects of eating beans, and stops the skin on the beans from hardening - you want to be able to mush your beans up.

In a frying pan - fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil till translucent and fragrant. then add in your three spices (add some ground cumin to if you have it -but I'd run out - damn) Cook for a minute before adding in your beans. Stir it all up and then give the beans a mush with the back of your spoon - break them up as much as you like - you can even use your potato masher.

For the healthy coleslaw - combine all the ingredients in a bowl - and leave to stand for a while if you have the time - it's nice sometimes to toast the sesame seeds under the grill until they're golden and crispy.Serve all your sides in little bowls and get building your burrito

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Filo tarts

Sunday paper-thin treats

I had a yen to make Parisian apple tartlets like these, but unfortunately, once again I couldn't find any ready made puff pasty in the whole of the Dublin 7 area (ok, I tried 3 shops and gave up). You may remember that we had a similar problem back in August when we were making the Beef and Guiness pie, and I actually had to go to effort of making my own! It turned out ok, but as all my tv cooking heroes (Nigel, Nigela, and Jamie) say, its not worth making your own puff, as the bought stuff is always going to be better. Anyway, Its a Sunday afternoon, and the less palaver involved the better.

Once again to the rescue came our local middle eastern shop Alauras. It stocks frozen filo, which can be used to make baklava (I will have to try it one of these days) and Lucy's famous home made jambons, (another improvised recipe which called for puff pastry but had to settle for filo) Using frozen ready made pastry means that these tarts are so quick and easy to make, and if you actually use puff pastry then you don't have to bother with all the brushing of melted butter. Just pop the sugar and apple on top of the pastry, and bake!

On reflection, I think I would actually prefer the filo version. These tarts were crunchy, melty, delicious. Perfect with a cup of coffee and the Sunday papers!

Frozen filo pastry, defrosted
4 oz butter
1 large apple (2 small) such as coxs or braeburn
2 oz brown sugar
ground cinnamon

Start by melting half of the butter in a pan. Brush 6 individual tartlet cases with some of the butter. (If you don't have cases, you can just layer the pastry up in tart-sized squares on a buttered baking tray. This is what you would do if you were using puff pastry, too)

Layer the pastry, one sheet a a time into the cases, brushing each of the pastry sheets with the melted butter as you go. There should be 5 or 6 layers of pastry in each tart. Press the pastry in to the tins and leave the excess corners sticking out (I think they look lovely like that). Brush the top layer of pastry all over with the butter. Sprinkle some of the brown sugar into each of the buttered pastry cases.

Peel and core the apple, cut into quarters and slice very thinly. Arrange the apple slices in a fan shape in each of the pastry cases, and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon on each. Cut the remaining butter into tiny cubes and sprinkle these over the apple and sugar.

Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at about 180c. You want the apple to be cooked and tender, the sugar melted, but the pastry not over cooked or burned.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Leek and Bacon Crepes

Crêpes avec Poireaux et Lardon It was the weekend of the brunch. We started on Saturday with a place I would like to nominate for 'Best BLT' in Dublin, The News Cafe in Blackrock. They also do a great fry - with their own recipe flat sausage - nice.

Then it was onto these for Sunday brunch. I ate the best crepe ever in Roscoff while waiting for the ferry. They were divine and a very fitting end to the two week eating and cooking binge that was my summer holiday. I wrote a little about them here.This is my attempt to re-create them - hampered only by my lack of a drop of white wine for the sauce. We cheated and bought pre-made pancakes - I will blog the recipe for pancakes - pancake Tuesday special perhaps.

The photos come courtesy of Delo - you can see more of his photos
here. Be warned there are many, many , many photos of bicycles!


Serves 2

4 pancakes

3 leeks - sliced in 2cm slices
Lardons (or rashers sliced in strips)
4 slices of Provolone Cheese (or similar mild cheese)
2 tablespoons of cream


Salt and Pepper

Cook the some butter over a medium heat for about 3-4 mins then lash in the lardons and continue to cook until your bacon is nice and crispy and the leeks are bright green - with nice little orangey brown edges yum. I once said my favourite colour is the inside of a leek - LOVE it - then eat it - that's what I say, except horses - don't eat horses, bad French people, but I love your pancakes.

Ramble sorry. Then add in the cream, season and bring up to a gentle simmer to thicken. In a clean frying pan - flick in a nob of butter, until it melts. Then pop in your pancake. Place a big spoonful of your mixture into the centre. Push it out to be a little smaller than a postcard. Top this with some cheese. Fold over the edgesTo make a nice little parcel - and serve. This orange is nice - fancy fanta!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked white fish with tomato and olive sauce

Big fish, little fish (cardboard box)

Ok, I know this pic doesn't look great, I just couldn't get a good image of it and was way too hungry to faf around. I just ate this for dinner though, so trust me, it was delicious.

This is based on a recipe my mum often uses. You can do it with any white, non oily fish. In this case I used haddock, which is meaty and substantial, and delicious.

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, sliced
about 15 good quality large green olives, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 fillet of white fish per person

Begin by making the sauce. Saute the onion and garlic until they are soft, add the olives and tomatoes and cook gently for a few minutes until the sauce is reduced. you can add some white wine now if you like.

Place the fish in a baking dish and top with the sauce like this

Bake in a hot oven for about 20 mins.

Serve with brown rice and veggies for a really healthy dinner or you could have it with spuds or just a nice salad and some crusty bread. Its very easy to make, really healthy and totally yum!

Potato and Lovage soup

All my Lovage....

I have been pretty remiss with the posting lately... Lu has been doing most of the blog work. I've been on a diet ever since the total blow out of New York so have not been cooking or baking to my usual standard. Anyway I'm kinda getting back into it now, and since the weather is getting colder, I'm going to share the recipe for a lovely and quite unusual soup, along the lines of leek and potato but including the lovely, peppery taste of Lovage.

I think Lovage is a herb, My mum grew a load of it this summer in her garden and didn't quite know what to do with it at first. Actually, wikipedia tells me its not a herb but is related to the celery family. I used it like this:

Potato and Lovage Soup.

1 large bunch lovage
4 large spuds
4 sticks celery
2 white onions
4 cloves garlic
1L good veg or chicken stock.
salt & pepper

Chop up the potatoes into inch sized cubes, finely chop the lovage leaves (not the stalks), onions, celery and garlic. Chop everything, actually.

Sweat the onions and garlic in a large saucepan until they are well softened. Add the celery and cook another 4 mins. Add the potatoes and cover them with the stock (you might not need to use all the stock, it should cover the potatoes by about an inch).

Simmer the mixture for about 15 mins, until the potatoes are soft all the way through. Then add half of the lovage and simmer another 3 or 4 mins. Using a stick blender (my favorite kitchen tool!) whizz everything up until its smooth. Then add the remaining lovage and season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve. Delicious & healthy and filling enough for my dinner. No more massive New York dinners for me, oh no!