I have finally taken the lemon drop chillies out of the bucket they were sitting so prettily in and am converting them to chilli sauce.
Half are sitting fermenting on the kitchen counter and the rest I made into chilli sauce yesterday
It was quite an epic heat ride.
I chopped the stalks from the lemon drop chillies, peeled red onion and garlic and put them into a saucepan with enough water to cover them, bought them to the boil then simmered for fifteen minutes.
After draining them I buzzed them in the food processor until they were smooth. I made the mistake of taking a good sniff of the salsa to enjoy the aroma – it blew me across the room.
The initial tasting was soooo hot that realistically not many people were going to eat it. I added a mango hoping it would stretch the heat but it didn’t seem to have much effect. I then sieved the sauce in the hope that removing the seeds would do the trick.
Wooo, still extremely hot !
I then incrementally added in
light muscovado sugar ,
white balsamic vinegar
and we finally seemed to be smoothing out the edges.
Phew I was getting worried!
It’s a chilli sauce to use with caution but perfect for chilli heads – like good habanero sauce and it’s a fab colour!
I’m not sure what to do with the fermenting chillies …. any ideas?
They were damaged by last weeks freezing weather. We don’t often get freezing weather here in West Cork and by the time we thought of the pumpkins it was too late so it’s pumpkin in everything right now.
Today’s soup was livened up by a couple of spoonfuls of Harry’s Nut Butter and a swirl of tamarind.
HNB is an Irish addiction made by the aforementioned Harry with nuts (obv) that’s slightly sweet, kind of salty and a little bit spicy and lifts the soup to a ‘where am I’ level. If you don’t have access to HNB tart up some peanut or cashew butter with a little smoked paprika, maple syrup and tamari or even miso. Actually the possibilities are endless…..
Pumpkin Soup with HNB and Tamarind
1 onion – peeled and chopped
75mls olive oil
1-2 stems celery – diced
500-600g pumpkin – peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic – peeled and finely chopped
200g diced tomatoes or half a can chopped tomatoes
2tbs red lentils ( heaped not level)
2 generous tbs HNB or PB
1 tbs tamarind
salt and pepper
Heat a medium/large saucepan, add the olive oil and chopped onions. Give them a stir then turn the heat to medium.
Cut the celery into quarters lengthwise then chop into a dice. Stir in with th onions.
Peel the pumpkin and chop into a rough dice – doesn’t need to be too small. Add to the pot and stir well. Season with a little salt. Cook for five minutes without browning then add the chopped garlic, stir for a minute or two then add in the tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes let them cook down. If you are using canned just stir them in . Add the vegetable stock and the red lentils. Taste, season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the nut butter and tamarind and mix well.
Buzz the soup until smooth and check the seasoning.
Serve with a swirl of creme fraiche and chopped herbs – I have chervil right now but parsley or coriander would be good too.
I’m not sure where the chickpeas we can usually obtain come from but generally they are old. Old and hard and take a very long time to cook so when I saw that the olive guys in our local Neighbourhood Food had imported chickpeas and pinto beans I had to try them.
I’m always on the lookout for good chickpeas – I’m possibly one of the only people that travel home from Spain with dried chickpeas in my bag. A true chickpea geek. Big fat chickpeas that only take 30-40 minutes to cook make me very happy. They obviously haven’t been sitting about in dusty depots for months on end.
I cooked some of the above prize chickpeas this morning after soaking them overnight. The weather was awful – torrential rain – it seemed pretty obvious that what we needed was warming sustenance so I made this dish. I’m never quite sure whether it’s a soup or a stew but the recipe is an old favourite. Sometimes I make it with spinach and sometimes with kale, depending on what I have and on the tomato front just use the best you have – fresh or canned. One thing is for sure – you will have a delicious bowl of bright nutrition to beat the rainy day blues.
And the new chickpeas cooked up a dream.
Chickpeas, Spinach and Coriander
250g dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight – or 2 cans
2 onions – peeled and finely chopped
100mls olive oil
2 stems celery- diced
3-4 carrots- peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic- peeled and finely chopped
1-2 chillies (Optional) – chopped finely
2 big tomatoes or 1 can – chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
800mls vegetable stock/chickpea liquor
1 bunch spinach or kale – 2 big hanfdfuls when shredded
1 bunch fresh coriander – parsley or chervil work too if that’s what you have
salt and black pepper
Put the chickpeas to cook. Drain and cover with water. Bring to the boil then cover and turn to a simmer. Cook until tender – anything between 30 mins and 3 hours , depending on the vintage of your chickpeas. Take off the heat and reserve the cooking liquor.
Heat a large saucepan then add the olive oil and chopped onions followed by the celery and carrots . I chop and add in that order, adding a little salt as I go. Cook the vegetables on a medium heat until they begin to melt down but don’t brown.
Stir in the garlic and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes then stir in the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes melt down then add about 800mls reserved chickpea liquor or vegetable stock or a mix of the two. Bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 20 minutes. It’s up to you whether you eat this a s stew or soups add more stock if needed
This is when I popped up the garden and picked some spinach and chervil. The recipe does call for coriander but our coriander is in animated suspension at the moment but we do have a healthy amount of chervil Basically use what you have!
Wash the spinach and remove any thick stems then gather it up and chop into thin ribbons. Stir this into the pot, allow everything to return to the boil then take off of the heat. Taste and add salt and ground black pepper. I use a hand held blender to give the soup a couple of buzzes – very quickly – just enough to create a little background creaminess. Chop the herbs and stir in.
Admittedly this makes a large pot but I put a picture up on the family WhatsApp and it was soon devoured!
Each evening I go to the garden to give the chickens their afternoon tea. It’s pretty slim pickings for them now that the shop is closed so their tea isn’t a gourmet selection anymore but fortunately the chickens are still tuned in to the universe and their inner egg radars have turned back on. It is amazing how quickly the incremental increase of daylight brings on the eggs so to thank them I prowl around the garden looking for green things to supplement their diet.
It’s surprising what’s out there. It’s not growing very quickly – more like suspended animation but there’s always something. Yesterday evening I came down to the house with a head of fennel, some leeks and a bunch of kale – I soaked some cannellini beans and we were set up for today’s lunch.
Soaking dried beans for this recipe is optional as canned beans also do a good job. The bonus of cooking dried beans is the cooking liquid makes a great base for the stock. A Parmesan rind is a definite bonus if you have one. I didn’t this time but I did find some pumpkin that needed a home while I was searching the fridge which was great for the colour scheme.
Winter Garden Soup
100mls olive oil
1-2 stems celery
Parmesan rind – optional
1 bulb fennel
a bunch of kale
250g diced pumpkin
200g dried cannellini beans or 1-2 cans
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 litre vegetable stock or stock plus bean water
salt and pepper
If you’re using dried beans soak them in cold water overnight. The next day drain them, put them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to the boil then simmer gently, covered with a lid for – now this is the mystery bit as it depends how old the beans were – anything between 40 mins and 2 hours. I keep checking. When they are cooked take them off the heat. Drain them and reserve the cooking liquid for the stock
Peel and chop the onion. Heat a medium/large saucepan, add the olive oil and the onion, give it a stir then turn the heat to medium.
Cut the celery in strips lengthwise then chop into a dice. Stir in with the onions.
If you have a Parmesan rind add it now.
Wash the fennel, cut it into half then slice thinly. Add to the pot. Season with a little salt and give it a stir.
You should be able to hear the vegetables sizzling. If you can’t increase the heat.
Trim the leeks – don’t cut all the green bit off, just the scraggy bits. Rinse well under running water to remove all dirt then slice into 1cm pieces. Add to the pot and stir.
Dice the pumpkin into 1cm cubes . Strip the rosemary from the woody stem and roughly chop. Add to the pot
Wash the kale then strip from the stem and chop into thin ribbons. Season with a little more salt and stir well.
Cook until the vegetables melt down. This sweetens the vegetables and enhances the flavours. Add the vegetable stock/bean water then bring to the boil. Stir in the beans then simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. If you have used a parmesan rind take it out and discard (chickens love them!).
I like to give the soup a quick mash to encourage creaminess but don’t overdo it.
The recent lockdown landed a large amount of vegetables into our kitchen – not a complaint but to be truthful too much of anything looses it’s appeal. We’ve been cooking our way through a box of red peppers and now we’re nearing the bottom they are beginning to get a little shabby so today I took the wrinkliest and made them into red pepper and tomato soup. This is super popular in our shop where we take a box of peppers, chop them up and toss them in olive oil and roast them in the oven. Ditto with ripe tomatoes.
Today’s recipe is made in a less industrial style. I didn’t even turn the oven on as roasting three peppers was definitely not going to save the planet, instead I slowly cooked them into sweet submission in a saucepan on the hob. We have eaten all of our fresh tomatoes so I used a can which always makes sense if it’s not tomato season or you don’t have any that need immediate attention.
Apart from the core flavourings – onion and celery – I added a tablespoon of red lentils, just to give the soup some body. Sometimes I use a diced potato but the choice is yours. Whatever you choose to use should remain anonymous in the soup – it’s just got a job to do not a starring role.
Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
3 red peppers
1-2 stems celery
2-3tbs olive oil
1 can tomatoes or 6 ripe tomatoes diced
1 tbs red lentils or 1 potato peeled and diced
1 tsp ground cumin
800mls vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Peel and chop the onion finely. Heat a saucepan, add the olive oil and onions then cook on a medium heat.
Chop the celery and add to the pot.
Wash and deseed the peppers then chop into small chunks. Add to the pot with a good pinch of salt and give everything a stir. Cook until the peppers begin to melt down, stirring from time to time.
Once the peppers have softened stir in the tomatoes, vegetable stock, ground cumin and lentils (or diced potato). Bring to the boil then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Take off the heat, buzz until smooth, taste and add more salt if needed.
Sunday’s aren’t the culinary highlight of our week, more of lazy day whereby whoever’s hungriest first makes the dinner. Last nights dinner involved prowling around the fridge and vegetable basket where I discovered a piece of broccoli, half a jar of anchovies and the last of our home grown cherry tomatoes. Yes, our own tomatoes in January. They weren’t exactly sun kissed but at least we knew where they came from and it would be a crime not to eat them.
It’s a fast and easy dinner to make.
First put a big pot of water to boil then prep the broccoli. Slice the stalks into discs and the head into several pieces. When the water boils add 1tsp salt and all of the broccoli. Cook for 1 minute. This takes the raw edge off of the vegetable. Lift the broccoli out of the water – save the water to cook the pasta – then cool in cold water, drain, and chop into smaller pieces
Check out the cooking time for your pasta, mine was 10-12 minutes which is perfect for bringing the dish together. Bring the water back to the boil and add another teaspoon of salt and the pasta . Give it a stir and check the clock or put a timer on
Put a large pan onto the heat, add good drizzle of olive oil and all of the broccoli. Cook stirring until the broccoli takes a little colour – around 4 minutes. Lift the broccoli from the pan then take the pan off the heat for a minute to cool a little before adding a little more olive oil, a couple of cloves of chopped garlic and a good pinch of chilli flakes.
Cooling the pan is important as you don’t want to burn the garlic. The garlic should sizzle all the same and once it’s cooked for 30 seconds the pan can go back on a medium heat. Stir in 4-5 anchovies – leave them out if you would like a vegetarian version – these will dissolve into the garlic mix then throw in the cherry tomatoes (which I halved). Turn the heat up and cook everything together for a minute or two then add the broccoli back into the pan.
As soon as the pasta is cooked drain it, saving a few spoonfuls of the cooking water to loosen everything up. Taste to check the seasoning – as the anchovies are salty it might just be perfect if not add a little salt
Toss the pasta with the vegetables and add enough water to moisten everything.
When we visited Cuba I enjoyed eating Fritura de Malanga which are fritters made from Taro root. These crispy fritters were often the one and only vegetarian choice bar rice and beans so I ate a lot of them .
Looking through my recipes I came across my notes on Fritura de malangas remembering this sunshine snack.
Taro doesn’t grow around here but we have plenty of parsnips so I exchanged them and the results were really good and it also cranked up the points for sustainable eating.. The parsnips aren’t as starchy as taro but even though the batters looked very different (I’d done some YouTube snooping) they made excellent fritters. Another bonus from the YouTube snooping was the idea to put some cheese in the middle. We still had a knob of gorganzola left from the xmas cheese board which I thought would partner well with parsnips but I’d say use whatever you have or fancy.
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp salt
About 100g cheese – something that’ll melt
Vegetable oil to fry
Peel the parsnips and grate finely – this is quite slow but it’s what you have to do!
Peel the garlic and chop finely.
Put the grated parsnips, chopped garlic and salt into a bowl then mix in the eggs.
You will have a quite dense paste/batter.
Cut the cheese into small cubes – no bigger than 1cm
Using a dessertspoon take small amounts of the parsnip mix and mould it onto the spoon then using your thumb make an indentation in the middle, pop a piece of cheese in and mould the paste back around the cheese so that it’s completely covered.
Put the fritter/croquette onto a plate and repeat the process until your mix is used up.
Put the fritter/croquette onto a plate and repeat the process until your mix is used up.
Heat 2-3cms vegetable oil in a deep sided frying pan or shallow pot, When it’s hot enough, a piece of bread should pop to the surface as soon as you drop it in, start frying the fritters. Fry them on a medium heat as they need to cook through. Cook for 3-4 minutes turning them half way. Reduce the heat if they are browning too quickly.
Serve with something to dip – mayonnaise, alioli, or as in Cuba some kind of fruity sauce. I use mango chutney thinned with a little sugar syrup or alioli.