Category Archives: gluten-free

What’s With The Cabbage?

Before Xmas I received an email asking me if I had thought about what we were going to do for Veganuary in the shop (eating vegan food in January) it was from someone called Shane whom I presumed to be Shane Red Strand Coffee. I shot back an answer saying thanks for the idea, that it could be good fun and the next thing we got a box of samples in the post from a different Shane altogether of pretty vegan products!

The Veganuary idea does seem like a good idea  – to detox after Xmas, cut down on emissions by not eating meat and generally save our selves and the planet. And we have a lot of vegetables still growing in our garden.

The warm wet weather has the cabbages shining brightly, the leeks are standing to attention and the green stuff – parsley, spinach and kales are quite happy so there’s plenty for eating.

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Just the thing for a January detox – I have to say although I don’t take detoxes too seriously, I do think it’s good to make a little effort especially after all the feasting.

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My son Darragh came up with this recipe. He was home for Xmas and knocked this up for lunch one day. I had just come in from a walk and was ravenous. I thought this was delicious. The lightly pickled cabbage, grated beetroot, toasted seeds and something else that had a very interesting texture and flavour but wasn’t a vegetable. It was double toasted, shredded tortilla wrap. Highly recommended especially served with tahini sauce.

The recipe will make a large bowlful. Scale the recipe down proportionately if you want less.

Not yet named salad

2tbs olive oil + 50mls for dressing

1 fatty clove garlic

½ small red cabbage

½ sweetheart or york cabbage

1 tsp salt

1 large beetroot

1 bunch parsley – chopped

150g pumpkin seeds

tamari

2 large tortilla wraps

50mls lemon juice

 

Peel the garlic then finely chop – crush in a mortar if you have one – together with a little salt. Mix with 2 tbs olive oil . Leave aside.

Wash and tidy up the cabbage then slice thinly.

Begin slicing from the top of the cabbage, then half way down cut the cabbage in half and remove the stem. Finely slice the remaining cabbage

Put into a large bowl and toss with a teaspoon of salt. Leave the cabbage aside.

Peel and grate the beetroot.

Heat a small frying pan, turn the heat to medium and add the pumpkin seeds. Gently toss or stir until they begin to colour and smell a little toasty. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle over soya sauce or tamari. Tip into a bowl and put aside to cool.

Heat a large frying pan then reduce the heat to medium and fry the tortillas, on at a time, cooking each side until it becomes a little toasty (not burnt). Brush the tortillas with the garlic oil and cook briefly once again. Stack the tortillas then roll them into a loose cigar. Cut on the diagonal to make wedge shaped pieces.

Put a clean t-towel on the counter. Put the cabbage handfuls at a time over half of the towl – don’t tip the bowl because all the excess liquid will follow. Fold the t-towel over the cabbage and pat dry then gently roll the towel and pat again . Tip the cabbage into a clean dry bowl.

Add the grated beetroot and chopped parsley.

Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice then toss to mix.

Add half of the pumpkin seed and the shredded tortillas then toss again

Tip into a clean bowl and sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top.

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Tahini Sauce

 

Juice 1 lemon

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 big tbs light tahini

a pinch of salt

a little water to thin the sauce

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl except for the water and whisk until amalgamated. Thin with water to achieve a thick pouring consistency.

This salad is best eaten soon after making. Don’t forget to drizzle tahini sauce on top

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Fatty Chickpeas

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I have had a packet of dried chickpeas in my pantry for months. A packet that i carried all the way home from Spain but never got around to cooking. Mostly because I forgot to soak them. They are big chickpeas – bigger than the ones we can buy in Ireland by far –  I’d say double in size and delicious when cooked. It may sound mad to get excited about chickpeas but soaked overnight and cooked for 30 minutes they are ready to go, unctuous and creamy, which is quite something. The one’s we buy locally  take three or four times as long  to cook and are like little bullets.

It’s still the holiday season here and we have been valiantly making our way through our veg box which together with the pre-cooked chickpeas offered numerous possibilities for dinner. The winning dish was also a lazy dish. It didn’t take very much effort, more the availability to give the odd stir.

Take time sautéing the veg, they will become sweet and more flavoursome.

 

Chickpea Supper Pot with Almond and Basil Picada

1 onion – peeled and chopped

100mls olive oil

1 carrot – peeled and diced

1 small bulb fennel- sliced into skinny wedges

2 stems celery – diced

3 cloves garlic- peeled and chopped

2 ripe fat tomatoes or 1 can tomatoes – chopped

1 glass white wine (optional)

200mls chickpea liquor or water

2 bay leaves

a handful of parsley

salt and pepper

 

Heat a frying pan or skillet. Add the olive oil and the chopped onions, give them a stir and when they are sizzling  season with a little salt. Stir in the fennel, celery, bay leaf and carrots, give a stir and when the veg are all sizzling season with a little salt then turn the heat to medium/low. Cook, stirring now and then, gently sizzling for ten minutes. Add the chopped garlic then continue cooking for five minutes.

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Add the chopped tomatoes and white wine, bring to the boil then turn to a simmer for ten minutes

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Stir in the chickpeas and cook for a further ten minutes. Add a little chickpea cooking liquor or water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley

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We ate this with a little picada/pesto to drizzle over and crusty bread

Picada

1 small slice bread, crusts removed and cubed

olive oil

15-20 blanched almonds

1 clove garlic

small handful soft green herbs – I used basil but parsley or coriander would work too

salt

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Heat a small pan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom and the bread cubes, fry until they begin to go golden then add the almonds. Cook for another couple of minutes.

Putvthe bread/almond mix in a processor together with a clove of garlic then buzz to a crumb.

Add the herbs then drizzle in enough olive oil to make the cicada move. Season with a pinch of salt

 

 

 

 

 


Bring on the Beans

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The shorter, cooler days of November give me the opportunity to indulge my bean and lentil obsession. Beans and lentils grow where the climate is warm and sunny yet I’m inclined to eat them more often when it’s cold. A bowl of thick, creamy lentils or beans is an inexpensive source of protein which will slowly release energy to fuel your body and comfort your soul.

 

Dal Markhani is a recipe from the north of India, which uses both lentils and beans served in a sauce of fragrant spices. Markhani is a sauce of butter, tomato and cream but in order to slot this recipe into my ‘live to be one hundred’ recipes file I have used coconut milk and vegetable ghee/oil instead of the dairy but feel free to swop it back.

 

The original recipe also uses black urad dal, a type of black mung bean, which takes an overnight soaking and then three or for hours to cook. Healthy as urad dal might be it’s not really in synch with our fast paced lives so they have been dumped in my recipe in favour of black beluga lentils, which are one of the gems of the lentil family. Black, round and robust they cook in 20-25 minutes and keep their shape whilst doing so. No mealy mass even if you forget them and decide to walk the dog whilst cooking.

 

There’s a fast version and a slow version for this dish, both have their merits but I’m going for the fast version and opening a can of beans. The lentils I cook from scratch.

 

Dal Makhani

 

1 large onion

50g vegetable ghee or oil

25g fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic

2 cardamom pods

3 cloves

2tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp turmeric

1 can tomatoes

½ tsp salt

1 can kidney beans

200g beluga lentils

150mls coconut milk

chopped fresh coriander to serve

 

Put the lentils into a saucepan with three times the volume of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Put aside.

Peel the onion then chop finely.

Heat a medium saucepan then add the vegetable ghee or oil and the onions. Cook on a medium heat without browning until they soften.

Peel and chop the ginger and garlic then stir into the onions. Bash the cardamom pods with the back of a wooden spoon so they crack open then add to the pot together with the cloves. Cook gently for a couple of minutes then add the ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric. Stir and gently cook for a few minutes more then stir in the tomatoes and salt. Allow the sauce to come to the boil then simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Drain and rinse the kidney beans.

Add the beans, the beluga lentils and residual cooking liquid to the tomato sauce. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and most of the coconut milk then taste . It’ll probably need a little more salt. If it’s too thick thin with a little water

Serve with chopped coriander and a swirl of coconut milk to garnish.

Eat with rice or mop up with naan bread.


Aliens in the Vegetable Patch

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Autumn is my favourite time for eating from the garden, there is such an abundance to choose from. The tomatoes in particular seem to have reached peak sweetness, perhaps it’s the long slow ripening on the vine. It is the reason we keep gardening as it’s impossible to buy this flavour.

We have harvested all our apples and potatoes and the beetroots are ready for eating. The beans and courgettes keep making a last ditch effort, everytime that the sun comes out they decide to have another go, so although we’re no longer picking bucketsful there’s plenty for dinner.

We have the best crop of pumpkins – almost ready- after the glorious summer. Pumpkins don’t like to grow below 18c and the prolonged heat this year really boosted them along. We’re delighted as this precious crop will store right through the winter.

The stars of the moment are the cauliflowers, which have appeared like aliens in the brassica patch. All at once! Which means there’s quite some cauliflower eating to be done so it goes without saying that this months recipe is with cauliflower.

I’ve combined the cauliflowers with pumpkin so it could also be a Halloween recipe.

The measurement for the pumpkin and cauliflower are guidelines as obviously cauliflowers don’t grow in half kilo units. They do not have to be exactly 500g, just roughly equal amounts of each. The amount of eggs also depends on the size so use two large eggs or three smaller ones.

I used salted ricotta for these fritters. Pecorino and Parmesan would also be good substitutes and who knows, maybe cheddar would work too but I have not tried this variation.

 

Cauliflower and Pumpkin fritters

 

500g pumpkin

500g cauliflower

2-3 eggs – lightly beaten

200g salted ricotta – grated

a large handful of parsley finely chopped

salt and pepper

oil for frying

 

Put a large pot of salted water to boil.

Peel the pumpkin and remove any seeds then chop into equal sized pieces of roughly 2cm each.

Wash the cauliflower well then cut into florets.

When the water is boiling add the pumpkin, as soon as the water returns to the boil turn the heat to medium /low because if the pumpkin is belting around in the pot the pumpkin will become fluffy. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until a knife will enter without resistance. Lift the pumpkin from the water then leave to drain in a colander.

Return the pot to the heat and add the cauliflower, cook for 4-5 minutes, just enough to take the edge off the rawness.  Drain into a colander and give it a good shake to remove excess water.

Gently mash the pumpkin and season with salt and pepper.

Put the cauliflower florets onto a chopping board and chop to small pieces paying particular attention to the stalks.

Put the pumpkin and cauliflower into a large bowl together with the beaten eggs and grated cheese and mix together with your hands.

Give the mix a good squish and it will hold together. Form the mix into golf ball sized pieces.

Heat a large frying pan and add enough oil to cover the bottom. Gently flatten the fritters and fry on a medium heat, flipping half way, until  golden on both sides.

 

These are best served with some kind of sauce/salsa. We ate ours with chopped tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic but when the tomatoes are gone we’ll move onto avocado salsa, yoghurt sauce or mayo.

 

 


If Apples be the Food of Love….

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If apples be the food of love we have an orgy on our hands. The apple trees in our garden are laden with fruit that has an age old reputation of desire and temptation..

Some of the apple trees are ancient, espaliered around the walls of the garden, others, that we have planted whilst living here, are more manageable, free standing dwarf varieties. There’s a huge variety of different shaped and sized apples. Crisp and juicy, gnarled and perfumed, sweet and floury and tart green cooking apples.

To be quite honest after our initial tart tatin frenzy it’s not raising so much desire as a ‘what the heck are we going to do with them all’ question. Our kitchen looks like an apple sorting station with rows of buckets waiting for attention.

Apart from the obvious just eating gazillions of apples, we are getting creative with the glut.

There’s apple cooked in cider, apple chutney, apples in the salad, with beans, apple tart tatin, crumbles, muffins, cakes…..

Here is a new recipe that we’re making for the shop

A spicy apple cake, which is easy to make, delicious and just happens to be vegan and gluten free. If you don’t want to faff around with several flours just replace the rice, oat and buckwheat flours with 120g regular white or wholemeal flour,

To make the apple puree simply peel, core and dice the apples evenly and quite small, and put into a saucepan with a tablespoon of water. Put the pan over a low heat and cover with a lid. Stir every few minutes until the apple breaks down. If it looks like it might stick add a little more water. It’s ready when you can fluff the apple into a smoothish puree. I beat mine with a wooden spoon.

Spicy Apple Cake

35g oat flour

50g rice flour

35g buckwheat flour

25g cornflour

1 level tsp baking soda

1/4tsp salt

1 level tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

75mls olive oil

120g sugar

350g apple puree

1 tsp vanilla

2-3 eating apples for the top

maple syrup to drizzle

 

oven 180c

Line a 20cm x 20cm  cake tin/brownie tray with parchment paper.

Whisk the sugar and olive together until smooth

Stir in the apple puree

Mix all the dry ingredients together then fold into the wet ingredients

Pour into a lined cake tin/brownie tray

Wash and quarter the eating apples then cut into quarters and remove the core. Slice into thin wedges

Arrange the apple slices on top of the cake in 3 lines

Bake for 25 mins, until a knife comes out clean then drizzle maple syrup over the apples. If you have a pastry brush gently brush the syrup over the apples – if you don’t, it’ll look after itself. Put the cake back into the oven for 5 more minutes.

Allow to cool before eating.

www.lettercollum.ie

 


Pasta Peas

On a recent holiday,  myself and my cycle buddy, travelled from South Tyrol, the land of Apfel Strudel and ice blue rivers, down to the sea.

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At the beginning, even though we were in Italy the language spoken was German, the trees and houses were alpine and the vegetables growing were small. As we travelled down toward the sea the language was Italian, the beautiful old cities oozed history and the vegetables increased in size enormously.

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Cycling is a great way to peep over fences and the vegetable gardens were a pretty picture. There were pristine rows of courgettes, peas, beans, salads and not a weed in sight – unlike our large unruly garden.

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I ate this month’s dish at a trattoria in Soave. It was on the lunch menu as ‘lasagnetti di piselli’ which I thought was going to be a little lasagne with peas. I got the pea bit right but the lasagnetti was in fact freshly made ribbon pasta. Totally simple but delicious.

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Now is the time to rush from the garden to the kitchen with freshly grown peas if you can find some. If you don’t have fresh peas, frozen ones are a brilliant substitute, they actually taste better than old pod   peas.

As there are so few ingredients involved in making this dish the quality is very important. Buy a good brand of pasta and use a tasty extra virgin olive oil.

Peas and Tagliatelle

1 small onion

75mls extra virgin olive oil

50g butter – diced

350g podded or frozen peas

1 glass white wine or water

100g grated Parmesan or Pecorino

300g tagliatelle – or gluten free pasta

 

Peel and chop the onion. Heat a pan and add a little olive oil and the chopped onion. Cook on a medium heat until the onion softens then add the peas, salt and pepper and a glass of white wine or water. Cook for 5 minutes if you’re using frozen peas, 8 minutes if the peas are fresh. Puree half the peas using a stick blender or food processor then put back in the pan with the peas.

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan, with plenty of water and a big spoonful of salt, according to the instructions on the packet. Be careful not to overcook. Put a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water onto the peas then drain the pasta. I always drain my pasta over the serving bowl to heat it up, this way the past doesn’t cool too quickly, Reheat the peas, add the butter cubes and give it a swirl. Put the pasta and peas in the serving dish and toss together.

Serve with olive oil to drizzle over and plenty of grated Parmesan or pecorino.

Ready to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birthday Bean Feast

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Birthday cakes are obligatory in our household. When the kids were small they would pour over the ‘Special Occasions’ cookbook and request cakes in the shape of houses, robots  and trains. The trains involved swiss rolls which made excellent wheels. There was also the ’emergency’ cake which was an upended tub of ice cream embellished with chocolate buttons, smarties and candles – a guaranteed success  which was always eaten. The ingredients didn’t get  much scrutiny unlike today where we are super aware of what we eat. I now realise why all the kids were stuck to the walls at the parties – all that sugar and fizz….

The birthday boys request this time was for a cake with lots of different layers and flavours – you can tell our kids grew up in a restaurant, they are very good at ordering food – and with all the dietary restrictions of the gathered party people the cake needed to be gluten and dairy free.

Inspired by Emma Galloways black bean torte I  made a bean and lentil cake  Beginning with a black bean and chocolate sponge  followed by butter beans and beetroot for a pink layer and red lentils, turmeric and orange for a golden yellow layer.

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It worked a treat. The layers were sandwiched with coconut cream and chilled in the fridge

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– before being enrobed in Chocolate ganache.

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The cake looked like top hat and tasted delicious – everyone enjoyed it and there were no’ ughh’ lentils or beans comments, in fact it would have been difficult to name the ingredients

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A mighty cake!