Monthly Archives: October 2012

Aubergine and Tomato Pilaf

We’re back on the aubergines again but this time they’re Irish aubergines which are a more precious commodity. Tonight’s dinner was made with one big purple aubergine from Galway and one long Chinese aubergine from our tunnel in Timoleague. Our aubergine harvest was a bit of a disaster . They obviously didn’t enjoy our summer. I grew several varieties which I planted in the tunnel and funnily enough the Chinese aubergines did the best.

Anyways, I made a pilaf with the aubergines and a jar of ‘flood affected ‘ passata. We still have several bottles of passata which lost their labels when they sat in our flooded shop this summer. The only thing that’s wrong with them is the lack of label so we are slowly munching our way through them. They worked perfectly in the pilaf. I cooked some onions and cinnamon in a little butter then added ground allspice and some passata before adding the rice and fried aubergines.

We ate it with some yoghurt and mint sauce on the side

Here’s the recipe

2 aubergines

2 onions – peeled and chopped

25g butter

3 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp ground allspice

350mls tomato passata

300g basmati rice

400 ml vegetable stock

olive oil to fry the aubergines

a handful of chopped coriander or parsley

DIce the aubergines into 2cm cubes and sprinkle with some salt. Leave them aside to sweat.

Measure the rice and put into a bowl and cover with warm water,

Melt the butter in a big sauce pan and add the chopped onions and cinnamon stick. Cook on a high heat until they are sizzling then turn the heat to medium and cook gently until the onions melt down.This will take about ten minutes

Add the chopped garlic and chilli flakes, cook for another couple of minutes then stir in the passata and ground allspice. Bring everything to the boil then turn the heat to low and simmer for  fifteen minutes.

Drain the rice and rinse under a cold tap. Shake off any excess water and add to the pot together with the vegetable stock. Season with a little salt, bring everything to the boil then cover with a lid and turn to the lowest simmer. Cook for twelve minutes then take off the heat and leave aside to relax. (leave the lid on – no peeping)

Put a frying pan on the heat and squeeze the aubergines, handful by handful, to get rid of the excess moisture. add a little olive oil to the frying pan and fry the aubergines until they are golden. This will probably have to be done in batches, don’t overcrowd the pan. When all the aubergines are cooked tip them into the pilaf , add a handful of chopped coriander or parsley and gently mix through.

To make the yoghurt/mint accompaniment finely chop a clove of garlic, add it to about 200mls Greek yoghurt and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in a handful of chopped mint and serve the sauce  on the side of the pilaf.

Stir Fried Veg – It’s all in the prep

This is a recipe that we ate when we visited Thailand and like a lot of good recipes it was forgotten along the way. I have to organise my Thai cooking class for this coming weekend and trawling through my recipes I came upon this little gem.

This is a very easy wacked on the heat dish of veggies, oyster sauce, soya sauce and cashews. The cashews are fried in a little oil, then tossed in chilli flakes which gives a nice little kick, and then stirred into the dish at the end. The list of vegetables in the recipe is of course variable

Tonights ensemble was a red pepper, a red onion (there weren’t any spring onions) some broccoli, mushrooms and the the last little green cabbage from the garden.

It’s totally delicious, nutritious and once everything is chopped and ready to go, pretty much an instant dinner. Here’s the original recipe

Stir Fried Vegetables with Cashew Nuts

75g cashew nuts

3-4tbs peanut/vegetable/sunflower oil

Half tsp dried chilli flakes(optional)

75mls vegetable or chicken stock

1 tsp cornflour

150g mushroom, thinly sliced

4-5 spring onions, white part thinly slice and green chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 small head broccoli, stem sliced thinly and rest broken into small florets

1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced thinly

Large handful  chinese cabbage or green cabbage, sliced into 1cm ribbons

Handful mange tout peas

2tbs oyster sauce

2 tbs soya sauce

Heat  2tbs oil in a wok or frying pan, over a moderate heat. Add the cashews and stir until they begin to brown. Remove, toss in the chilli flakes if you’re using them and put aside.

Mix the cornflour with enough vegetable/chicken stock to make smooth paste and put aside

Add 1tbs oil to the `wok/frying pan and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring over a high heat, until they begin to brown then season with a little salt and put aside.

Heat the remaining  oil and add the broccoli, peppers,mange tout, the whites of the spring onions, the garlic and then the cabbage in that order. Keep the heat high, you should be able to hear everything sizzling away. Add the vegetable/chicken stock and cook for a minute or two then stir in the oyster sauce, soya sauce and cornflour paste

and cook until the sauce coats the vegetables.

Finally stir in the mushrooms and onion greens and toss everything together with the roasted cashews.

Purple Spuds

I bought some purple spuds last Friday at the Farmers Market in Clonakilty. Even though we still have spuds from our own garden at home I couldn’t walk past them. Curiosity got the better of me.

They had been relaxing in our vegetable basket until I arrived home from work this evening, hungry and reluctant to cook, I peeled them and chucked them into a frying pan with some onions, peppers and garlic.

Potatoes, peppers, onions and garlic fried in olive oil with a bay leaf is one of those blissful combinations. They’re known as ‘Patates al Pobre ‘in Spain which translates to’Poor mans Potatoes’ It’s great dish to cook as once the veg are chopped and in the pan they require very little effort.I hung around the kitchen chatting on skype to our daughter,  giving the pan an occasional stir

The potatoes were an intense bright purple when I peeled them and stunning when they hit the pan but they cooked up a rather sludgy browny purple. This is not as bad as it sounds, just a little disappointing on the colour front. They are quite dense, kind of waxy and floury at the same time and have a good flavour.

The new hens have just begun to lay these very cute little eggs

so I fried up a couple of eggs and ate them on top.  I cracked the soft yolks and let them run down over the spuds.


Here’s the recipe, and if you see any purple spuds around I recommend you give them a whirl!

Patates a lo Pobre – enough for 4 people

3 onions

2-3 peppers

2 bay leaves

3—4 cloves garlic

1kg waxy potatoes

About 150mls olive oil

Salt and pepper

A splash of good quality red wine or balsamic vinegar

Peel the onions, cut into half and slice thinly. Heat the frying pan or skillet, add half of the olive oil and the sliced onions, Season with a little salt and when the onions are sizzling away turn the heat to medium and cook gently without browning. Wash the peppers, remove the seeds and cut into 1 cm strips then stir into the onions together with the bay leave. Peel the potatoes then chop them into small chunks or slices, adding to the pan as you go. Add the remaining olive oil Peel the garlic and cut into quarters and stir in. Season everything with salt and pepper.

Cook for about thirty minutes, or until the potatoes are tender, giving regular stirs so that they don’t stick to the pan.

Serve with a splash of good red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.

Beetroot Tart tatin

We are tidying up the garden for the winter right now, clearing and digging the beds so that we can manure them in preparation for next year. The beetroot bed was cleared the other day and we have been eating our way through a bucket of assorted beetroots. There were a lot of small beets, red, golden and pink and these I put in a tart tatin. Slow cooking beetroots brings out their sweetness which overlaid with their underlying earthy taste makes delicious eating. It takes a little time to cook the beets but it’s not complicated. I used homemade puff pastry but shop bought would do the trick. If you can find butter puff pastry all the better.

Beetroot Tart Tatin

About 20 small beetroots

2tbs white balsamic vinegar

2tbs white sugar

1 tsp muscovado sugar

50g butter, diced.

250g puff pastry

Pre heat the oven 180c

Wash the beetroots and put into a baking tray.

Cover with foil and bake for about one and a half hours or until tender

Allow to cool, then peel away the skins.

Heat an oven proof pan, about 20-24cms across,.

It needs to be something that you can put in the oven

Add the vinegar and sugars to the pan and cook until lightly caramelised.

Add the diced butter and swirl the pan to emulsify the butter and caramel.

Season the beetroots with a little salt.

Cut the beetroots in half across the middle and put flat side down into the pan. Put as many beetroots as you can, packed tightly in one layer.

Cool completely.

Roll out the pastry into a circle  and tuck over the beetroots.

Chill for thirty minutes then bake for approx 30minutes, until the pastry is golden and the beets are bubbling around the edge.

Leave the tart to relax and cool slightly before turning out otherwise the caramalised juices will just run out.

Unexpected Gifts – Borlotti Beans and Risotto


Just when we thought we had enjoyed the last of this years borlotti beans our dinner guests bought us a gift of beans from their tunnel.

They were super fresh and in prime condition in their pink pods. We ate them last night in a risotto .

This is a very tasty and simple dish to make and although it may sound odd, beans and rice make a great combo. The velvety beans stirred into the creamy just cooked rice are delicious.

I cooked the beans first with a little garlic, onion and thyme. The usual herb to cook borlotti beans with seems to be sage but i went out in the dark and pouring rain to pick the herbs and came back with a handful of thyme. I saved the stock from cooking the beans and used that to make the risotto.

Here’s the recipe – it feeds four people

About 300g podded borlotti beans

1 small onion

1-2 cloves garlic

1 stick celery

1 tbs olive oil

a small bunch of thyme

Put everything in a small saucepan, cover with water and simmer for about forty five minutes.


For the risotto

2 onions – peeled and chopped

1 stem celery- diced

25g butter

25mls olive oil

300g arborio rice

1 glass white wine

about 900mls hot stock- use the bean stock and top up with vegetable or chicken stock

125g parmesan cheese – grated

salt and pepper

a small bunch of parsley – chopped

Melt the butter in a small pan and add the olive oil and chopped onions and celery.

When everything begins to sizzle turn the heat to medium and cook for about ten minutes, until the onions have sweated down, Don’t let them brown.

Add the arborio rice and give it a few good stirs then add the white wine. Allow this to bubble up and reduce then start adding the stock little by little. The rice should absorb each addition of stock before you add the next. It shouldn’t be like rice in a swimming pool nor should it stick to the bottom of the pot. What you need is to maintain a gently bubbling pot. Gradually keep adding the stock. After about fifteen minutes it should be getting there – taste a little to check. The rice should still have a little bite to it. If it’s cooked to your taste take it off the heat and beat in the grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and black pepper. It’s important that the rice isn’t too dry – it should be creamy – so adjust the consistency with a little extra stock before adding the Parmesan if necessary. Finally stir in the reserved borlotti beans and scatter chopped parsley on top.