A big wind, very cold and occasional snow flurries, which is a romantic way of describing West Cork’s attempt at snow which is really large drops of frozen rain. After a quick run around to feed the chickens I was back inside again.
It was the perfect day to hang out in the kitchen.
I spent the morning trying a couple of new recipes then turned my eyes to lunch.
We are still ploughing through our rapidly deteriorating frozen by mistake pumpkins. At this stage the chickens are getting as much of each pumpkin as we are but we’re getting places. We’ve been eating them in many guises, today’s collaboration was with beetroots and coconut which made a delicious and warming soup full of antioxidants to beat the bugs
Beetroot, Pumpkin and Ginger Soup
1 large red onion
75mls olive oil
2 sticks celery
1 finger of fresh ginger
700mls vegetable stock
200ml coconut milk
Peel and chop the onion. Heat a pot, add a little olive oil and the onion then cook on a medium heat. Cut the celery lengthways then dice into small pieces. Add to the pot and give a stir.
Peel the pumpkin and chop into chunks, then peel the beetroot and chop into a dice – the beetroots are going to take longer than the pumpkin to cook. Stir these both into the pot and season with a little salt. keep cooking on a medium heat, reducing the heat if they begin to brown or stick.
Peel the ginger and chop small. Add to the the vegetables, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Stir in the coconut milk then buzz everything to a smooth puree. It should be good and soupy but if it’s too thick thin with little water. Season with salt and black pepper and you’re ready to go.
Some fresh chopped herbs would be good but I wasn’t heading off outside to pick any!
It’s a sure sign of going stir crazy when you get super excited about potato cakes.
This past month has left me feeling almost rudderless, apart from our Monday shop painting stints there’s very little structure to our days except for mealtimes
It’s a tricky time of the year when the days are long and grey. The bright days are fine, I hop up and get going but on the wet ones I have to keep reminding myself that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.
Try telling that to the chickens though who are miserably huddled in their muddy run fed up with wading in muck, having eaten anything that had a semblance of green already. They are missing their daily buckets of yummy food scraps that usually come back from the shop. The time is coming when they are going to revolt and hop the fence of the chicken run as it looks so delightfully verdant on the other side.
Our new glasshouse is up and ready to go, the seeds are ordered and in a couple more weeks it’ll be time to start sowing again. I’m very excited but super cautious about beginning in the garden too early though as very cold spells can negate any head start.
One thing I have been enjoying is playing in the kitchen. Working my way through all the odd food in our pantry and trying out new recipes.
Converting left overs is a great way to be creative. We had a mound of left over mashed potatoes last week and I made these crispy potato cakes. I must say we were impressed. The perfect way to tart up mashed spuds
The ingredient list is short – left over mash, onion, garlic, some kind of melty cheese and breadcrumbs.
I used panko breadcrumbs (which had been sitting patiently in our pantry). Panko are Japanese style breadcrumbs made from crustless white bread. These breadcrumbs are flakier and drier than normal breadcrumbs and as a result absorb less oil, think of trying to mop up a spill with a dry cloth – it’s not very absorbent. Because they are so dry they cook up super crispy and they have an incredible long shelf life – I guess as there’s no moisture there’s nothing to spoil but for sure they will keep happily in a sealed bag in a dry place so they are pretty handy.
Any cheese that can be grated and melts will work in this recipe. I used smoked scamorza which is a mild semi hard mozzarella type cheese but cheddar, emmental, gruyere, gouda will all bring their own creamy addition
Crispy Potato Cakes
Serves 3-4 people
450g mashed potato
1 onion – peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic- peeled and finely chopped
150g smoked scamorza or other melty cheese – grated
150g panko bread crumbs
Oil for frying
Heat a small frying pan, add 2tbs olive oil and the chopped onions. Cook on a medium heat without browning for 5 minutes. Season with a little salt then stir in the chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
Tip the cooked onions mix onto the mashed potato then mix together and add in the grated cheese. Mix well with your hands, giving it all a good squish together. Form the potato mix into small balls then flatten slightly. I didn’t add any salt as the mash was already seasoned but taste your mix to check
Line up 3 bowls. One with flour, one with beaten egg and one with the panko breadcrumbs. Taking the potato balls one at a time turn them first in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Turn until the breadcrumbs cover the potato.
Do this to each potato cake,. At this stage you could pause and put the potato cakes in the fridge for later but it’s perfectly fine to cook them immediately
Put 2cms vegetable/cooking oil in a frying pan. The pan should not be too shallow – the oil should not come more than one third up the sides. Heat the oil then slip 4 or 5 potato cakes in at a time. Keep the heat on medium. If the potato cakes are browning very quickly reduce the heat. After a couple of minutes flip the potato cakes over and cook the other side. You’ll need to cook these in a couple of batches so have a warm plate ready to receive them
Perfect with some salad and salsa or just plain mayo for dunking.
Winter slaws are the business when you crave something to give yourself a boost, They are bright and crunchy and made with vegetables that don’t mind wintery weather.No need to use fragile jetlagged vegetables as local seasonal vegetables are perfect to shred and dress. The bright oranges, greens and purples are like sunshine in a bowl.
The key ingredients for a slaw are usually some kind of cabbage – red or green and then whatever you have or fancy in the line of fennel, beetroots, carrots, radishes, onions, endive etc. Apples, oranges, mangoes and pears also make good additions as do toasted nuts and seeds . They can be dressed with vinaigrettes or creamy mayonnaise. The options are endless so you can let your imagination go riot.
This recipe is for a simple slaw that I made today from our vegetable basket and the remaining red cabbage in the garden. Salting the cabbage briefly makes the cabbage sweat and the juices run, softening the cabbage to a delightful succulent crunch. Ditto with the fennel.
Half a small red cabbage
1 fennel bulb
1 red onion
2tbs white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
100mls olive oil
Finely shred the red cabbage – discard the core. Sprinkle it with a little salt, toss well then leave it aside for 10 – 15 minutes.
Finely slice the fennel and toss with a little salt. Leave aside for 10 – 15minutes
Peel and finely slice the red onion, sprinkle a little salt over then massage until the rings separate. Put the sugar into a bowl, whisk in the vinegar then toss the onions in the mix. Leave aside for 10-15 minutes
Peel and chop the pear.
Put the cabbage onto a clean cloth or kitchen roll then dry well to remove excess liquid and salt, tip into a bowl the repeat the process with the fennel.
Put all the vegetables except for the onions into a big bowl.
Drain the pickling liquid from the onions and use this as a base for the vinaigrette
Add the onions to the big bowl.
Whisk a teaspoon of Dijon mustard into the onion vinegar then slowly whisk in the olive oil
Pour the dressing over the vegetables then toss everything together.
The slaw is ready to eat but it’ll also sit happily in the fridge for a day or two.