Simple Summer Veg

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This is the 3rd year that I have harbored dreams of growing our own, of being able to say ‘These veg?, oh yes they came from garden, dreams sadly almost dead , dashed thanks to the army of slugs which attack my little patch every evening, multiplying themselves by factors beyond my mathematical ability and seemingly immune to the pots of beer and slug pellets I try dispel them with. I’m inundated with suggestions but I do draw the line at the person who suggested I go out each evening with a garden scissors and snip the buggers – even I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

So, instead I shop and bypass the more wintery vegetables in favour of lighter summer styles which are in abundance right now – (someone has solved the slug problem and I just need to know their secret). These recipes are full of summer flavours, light and easy to eat whether with fish or meat. Perfect outdoors eating and quick to prepare so you can get out in the garden after work. The spice butter and pomegranate molasses are staples in my house and they are great to add a little interest to salads and vegetables. And so, while I don’t have any produce from my own garden,I did at least get the chilli from my plant on the windowsill which the slugs haven’t worked out yet how to reach.

Griddled Bok Choi with Spiced Butter
Serves 2-3 people
2 Heads of Bok Choi – wash and keep root intact
2 oz butter
1 tbsp Ras El Hanout spice mix or any dried spice mix you like to use
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Trip the top leaves from the bok choi, roll up like a cigar and shred, then set aside
Cut the remaining bok choi into 1/4’s keeping root intact so it does not fall apart
Mix the butter, oil and spice until it is soft and spreadable
Season the cut sides of the bok choi then spread with the spice butter
Heat griddle pan until very hot (Open all the windows)
Place the bok choi cut side down on the pan and cook until lovely and golden, with griddle marks then flip over and continue to cook on the other side until almost tender with a little
bite. Remove from the pan to a service plate.
Add the shredded leaves with a drizzle of oil and flash for a minute on the pan then remove to the serving plate.
A final dash of seasoning and serve.

Tomato and Green Bean salad with Pomegranate dressing

4 ripe tomatoes deseeded and finely diced
1 red onion finely diced
1 red chilli deseeded (if you wish) and finely diced
2 handful of green beans, blanched for 3 minutes and chopped into small pieces

Dressing
1 tsp sumac
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
Add all the vegetables to a bowl and cover with the dressing and leave for about 15 minutes for the flavour to develop. Taste and adjust for seasoning then serve.

garden corner

chilliplant

Summer Drinks

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OO&L6112

Summer is here, temperatures are soaring and plans for eating outdoors and summer cocktails are all being made. 2 weeks ago I collected a bag full of elderflower (when there was still plenty of rain about) and now I am delighted to have this in the fridge ready for any callers. Those wanting something stronger can try the other bottle, also equally good on a summer evening. Limoncello brings memories of a lunatic driver from Naples to Amalfi careering round hair pin bends and stopping at the side of the road in blistering heat to offer us granita to cool down.

There is still elderflower about if you fancy getting up in the morning to collect it otherwise try recipe #2.

Limoncello
1l bottle vodka
5 lemons (unwaxed and washed)
700gr sugar dissolved in 700ml water

Make sure you have big enough bottles to hold nearly 2 ltrs of liquid. I used old lemonade bottles which I sterilised.
Take the zest from all the lemons making sure not to include any white as it will add bitterness.
Put the zest in a large clean jar and pour over the vodka. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and leave for a week, shaking the jar each day.
When the vodka is ready add the syrup to it, leave for a further week shaking the jar regularly.

Elderflower Syrup – Delicious with sparkling water and loads of ice.

2kg white sugar, either granulated or caster
1.5 litres water
2 unwaxed lemons
About 20 fresh elderflower heads (stalks trimmed)
85g citric acid (from chemists – used for flavouring)

Put the sugar and water into a pot and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Pare the zest from the lemons then slice the lemons into rounds. Add to the sugar and water.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup. Add the citric acid, then stir well.
Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs.
Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup – let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel.
Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run them through the dishwasher).
This ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

Spiced Halibut

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This is such a simple way to serve fish and any firm white fish will work equally well. Baking and basting the fish in melted butter adds a delicious richness to it and the heat from the Harissa is a perfect balance. I used Haddock and it stood up to the flavour very well. A simple supper dish which could be on the table in 30 minutes.

Spiced Halibut Photo4

Spiced Halibut
Serves 2
2 oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp harissa
juice of half a lemon
1 large halibut fillet, trimmed and boned and cut into 2 pieces

Oven at 180C

Melt the butter in small pan, stir in the harissa and lemon juice
Season the fish and place into an oven proof baking dish
Pour over the butter mix and place in the oven for about 20 mins depending on the thickness of your fish, basting it at intervals
Serve the fish topped with the butter juices and some green beans.
Delicious!

Nut Butter & Cranberry Cookies

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A day spent in the garden sweeping and scrubbing worked up a good appetite. Chopping the tree down and finding a wasps nest in the middle of it meant I needed something nice to get over the shock. These did the job!

They are easy to whip up and with all spelt flour, good fats, low sugar content with delicious chocolate nut butter makes a pretty good option for a still delicious tasting biscuit. I love using different flours and the spelt flour adds a lovely nuttiness and coarser texture that works perfectly with the nut butters.

My other half orders all our nut butters from iherb in the US and they are really good. If you use this code DOM130 you can avail of a discount through him.

OO&L spelt cranberry cookies

Nut Butter & Cranberry Cookies
Makes about 12 sandwich cookies
Oven at 180C

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
4 oz unsalted butter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
1 large egg
2oz cranberries
1/2 tsp each of salt & baking soda

Whisk flour, salt and baking soda.
Beat nut butter and butter together until creamy.
Beat in the sugar and the egg and beat well.
Turn mixer down low and beat in the flour.
Add the cranberries.
With damp hands, roll tablespoons of mixture and place onto parchment paper on a flat baking tray.
Flatten slightly and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Cool and sandwich together with chocolate nut butter.

Red Bean and Sweet Potato Burgers

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OO&L Bean Burgers  II

I have a collection of sauces and salsas which I got recently in a hamper from here. These delicious artisan sauces and salsas from The Scullery are made with great ingredients and really tasty. I’m always happy when I find a good Irish product and deciding how I would use it as opposed to just simply loading it onto a plate of cheese and crackers (although, pretty nice like that too) I decided to throw a few tablespoons into my mix for these veggie burgers – a great way to add some flavour.

The tomato and chilli salsa has a delicious hit of heat and even if you don’t have this one, if you root in the back of your kitchen presses you will find something similar – I bet you got it at Christmas with lots of good intentions to use it but haven’t got around to yet!.
Try these burgers with the salsa and enjoy a delicious meal, loaded with protein and vitamins.

Red Bean Burgers with Tomato Chilli and Coriander Salsa
Makes 6 large or 8 medium

2 Cans of red kidney beans rinsed and drained
1 medium sweet potato peeled and grated
3 tbsp Salsa – I chose the tomato coriander and chili
3 oz breadcrumbs gluten free if possible
Salt and pepper to season

Tip beans and sweet potato into food processor and pulse to lightly process – try not over work as it will turn to mush.
Tip out into a bowl, add the breadcrumbs, salsa and seasoning and mix well.
Damp your hands and shape into 6 or 8 patties, place onto parchment paper and into the fridge for about 30 mins if possible
Heat 2 tbsp rapeseed oil in a pan on a medium high heat.
Add the burgers and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes.
Gently flip and do the same, add more oil if needed
Serve with some more salsa, salad and enjoy!

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