Tag Archives: gluten free

Gigantes Plaki – Holiday Memories

We’ve an interesting harvest of beans in the garden this summer.
I went a bit bean crazy in the spring – so confident was I that we were going to have another heatwave.
I had a collection of seed gathered from far and wide. Yin Yang beans, Cannnelini beans, Borlotti beans, French beans, Italian beans, Runner beans and Chickpeas. The results have been quite mixed but apart from the yin yang beans which have gone awol and the Italian beans which really couldn’t handle the climate everything else is having a go.
Any bean that has grown inside has flourished but the outside ones are having a rough ride. The French beans are so cold that instead of growing straight they are growing curly and the outside borlotti and cannelini are looking weatherworn and sad. Luckily the runner beans are super acclimatised to the Irish climate and we had some of all the above growing in the tunnel.
I’m excited about the chickpeas as little pods are finally appearing and the cannelini beans and borlotti beans, which are such a treat, are all harvested and almost eaten.

IMG_4243

So you could imagine we’ve been eating a lot of bean dinners.
Beans and pasta, Bombay beans, beans and courgettes, beans and tomato, beans in salads, and Gigantes Plaki.
I was wondering what to cook next when I remembered this dish. We had eaten it when we were in Syros, Greece. It was made with giant butterbeans and came bubbling in a terracotta casserole to the table with just melted feta on top. Delicious eaten in the sunshine and mopped up with a piece of bread and equally as delicious served with baby spuds at home.

I made ours with our home grown cannelini beans but butterbeans would be more authentic – whatever you fancy and if you don’t have good ripe fresh tomatoes, use a can. Use ewes milk feta if you have a choice, it is better in consistency and flavour.

IMG_4287

Greek Beans – Gigantes Plaki

600g cooked beans – butterbean or cannelini (2 cans)
approx 75mls olive oil
1 onion
2 stems celery
4 cloves garlic
4 big fatty tomatoes or 2 cans
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper
150g feta cheese
chopped parsley

Peel the onion and chop finely. Heat a pan, add enough olive oil to generously cover the bottom and the chopped onion.
Cut the celery sticks into three or four lengthways then chop finely and stir into the onions. Season with a little salt,, and sweat on a medium-low heat for five minutes. Don’t let them brown.
Peel and chop the garlic and stir in, cook for two minutes then add the tomatoes, oregano and cinnamon. Bring to the boil then turn to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Give it the odd stir and keep the pot gently bubbling.
Pre heat the oven 190c
Drain the beans if you have cooked them yourself, or rinse and drain if you are using canned beans.
Tip the beans into a shallow oven-proof dish.
Taste the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper then pour over the beans. Give the dish a shake so that the sauce slips between the beans then bake for 40 mins. The sauce should be beginning to bubble around the edge. Take the dish out of the oven, crumble the feta into rough chunks over the top and bake for a further ten minutes.
Serve with chopped parsley scattered on top.


Sardines and Sunshine

Some things you just can’t beat.
Sardines and sunshine. I swear they would never taste the same eaten inside in Ireland. It’s some kind of magical combination of Mediterranean sun and sea. There’s no big cooking procedure, just dust the fish with oregano and chuck them on the grill.
Today we ate our lunch in Kino, a small village in Syros, at a restaurant where we could literally step from our table into the sea, another few centimetres and we would have had our feet in the water

IMG_3931

Tempting as that was we stayed seated and enjoyed our lunch.
The sardines were super fresh, grilled and served with wedges of lemon, all washed down with a glass of chilled white wine.

IMG_3934

As soon as we had finished the local cats moved in, ready to eat the skeletal remains.

IMG_3935

Not a morsel was wasted!


Syros – Herb Central

IMG_3840

Walking around Syros is like tramping through a herb garden. We have been exploring the island, driving to the north of island as far as the road goes and then heading off on foot. It’s not only beautiful but smells delicious too. We’re sure all the goats that graze are self marinating!.

IMG_3830

There are swathes of thyme, rosemary, fennel and sage and carpets of camomile with lots of bees buzzing happily about their business. There are plenty of hives dotted around the countryside and the honey is delicious.

IMG_3829

The paths lead down to hidden beaches, it can a bit of a clamber but the destination makes it worth it.Lots of hidden coves that are deserted and clean blue sea. The sea is cold. Too cold for me to enjoy swimming but I keep trying!

IMG_3842

Capers are growing on the rocks. This is all news to me – I have to admit I had never considered where capers did grow, but there you go – little bushes sprout out of craggy rocks with capers on the end of the branches and very funky flowers. Apparently June is the real caper picking and pickling season but they are beginning now. No wonder so many dishes are served with capers here.

IMG_3855

We had delicious basil and caper pesto the other day, drizzled over goats cheese.
Very simple and very delicious. It’s certainly worth a try and I’d say it’s equally delicious served with fish.
Here’s the recipe

Basil and Caper Pesto

1 cup basil
1 cup parsley
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1tsp Dijon mustard
2dsp capers
approx 150mls olive oil

Put everything except the olive oil into a food processor or blender and buzz to a paste then drizzle in the olive oil. Don’t add salt , the capers are salty enough

Eat with whatever you fancy – cheese, pasta, fish……


Feta, Feta, Everywhere!

If Ireland’s the land of green grass, butter and Guinness then Greece has to be the land of feta and ouzo.
We arrived in Athens yesterday evening and took a ferry to the island of Syros this morning. We’re kind of travelling blind – not really knowing very much about Syros – but it came highly recommended by some friends who introduced us to some people that wanted to do a house swop.This was an irresistible idea. The last time I was in Greece was more than thirty years ago and I remember delicious grilled octopus – probably my first -and having to learn how to say coffee without sugar as all the coffee was made in the traditional way with heaps of sugar. It’s the only Greek that I remember – kafé sketo!
The ferries that go between the islands are huge but they’re not crowded in May. It’s a nearly four hour trip, with lots of rough sea which which could hardly feel, as the ferries are so big. At one point it lashed rain but as the boat approached land the sun appeared and we could see the town hugging the harbour with pastel coloured houses climbing up the hill behind.

IMG_3800

Kostas, our host was waiting on the square as pre arranged and we climbed the steps through the town to where we are staying. The house is stunning. Built in 1870 and recently renovated by our new friends. It has everything that we need and a sunny terrace which is where I am sitting whilst I write this.
We dumped our bags and wandered back down the steps in search of lunch – we have been given several recommendations- a very big plus of house exchanging – and soon found ourselves sitting in a little street on a comfortable terrace. It was a little bit tricky establishing whether we had arrived at the correct taverna as everything is written in Greek – naturally enough – and we can’t read Greek but Con dragged out some morsels of knowledge from his youth and we figured we were in the right place so we sat down and looked at the blackboard menu. It was Greek!

IMG_3798

The waitress soon appeared with a bi-lingual menu.
Somehow each dish we chose had an element of feta. All completely different dishes but lots of feta. This is not a complaint, more an observation!
We started off with Greek salad. Very traditional but irresistible when in the land of sun ripened tomatoes and fresh feta. It arrived to the table, a mound of tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives with slab of feta and capers on top.

IMG_3790

The olive oil and vinegar is on the table so you dress the salad yourself. We polished the salad off then the Giant beans baked in tomato sauce arrived – with feta. These were delicious, the tomato sauce was made with fresh oregano, bay leaves and whole allspice

IMG_3793

And the final course was a stuffed calamari – stuffed with tomato, wild fennel and feta.
After the beans this was bit over the top and it didn’t get as many brownie points but maybe that was because we were already quite full.

IMG_3794

We washed everything down with a carafe of the local white wine and felt very happy sitting there in the sun!

IMG_3796


Banh Xeo – Sizzling Pancakes

IMG_2701

Banh Xeo are the most delicious Vietnamese savoury pancakes. They are fried until crispy then rolled up in salad leaves with mint and dunked in dipping sauce before popping into your mouth
Guaranteed to make you swoon. Our family thought they’d died and gone to heaven when I made them for dinner. Just silence and appreciative grunts coming from the dinner table.
The pancake is made with rice flour, or a combo of rice and wheat flour mixed together with coconut milk, spring onion, egg and turmeric. This is whisked to a smooth batter. I made them with prawns, mushrooms and beansprouts but the filling is fairly free lance. Whatever you fancy but don’t put too much in as the pancake will be unmanageable when you flip it.
The inclusion of regular flour makes them more manageable for non coeliacs but the recipe works well both ways
Here’s the recipe

200g rice flour or combo of rice and regular flour
2tbs cornflour
1 egg
half tsp turmeric
a handful of chopped spring onion greens
150mls coconut milk
about 100mls water
half tsp salt

Put the dry ingredients into a bowl, make a well in the middle then crack in the egg and add the coconut milk.
Whisk everything together and thin with water until you have medium pouring consistency – like melted chocolate. Stir in the spring onions.
Leave to stand for at least 10 minutes

IMG_3344

For the filling
20 raw prawns – 2 for each pancake
250g mushrooms
250g bean sprouts
a little butter or oil to cook the mushrooms

Salad leaves – washed and spun
a big bunch of mint leaves

Heat a frying pan. Slice the mushrooms, drop a knob of butter or a glut of oil into the frying pan and add the mushrooms. Toss them well and cook on a high heat until they are cooked the way you like them. Season with a little salt and pepper and put aside.
To make the pancakes heat a small to medium size frying pan. Add a little oil and a couple of prawns, cook them for a couple of minutes – until they are pink- then add a few mushrooms. Drag the mushrooms and prawns to one side and pour in a small ladle of batter.

IMG_2851

The pancake should be thin like a crepe. Cook on a medium high heat for a couple of minutes then add a small pile if bean sprouts to the pancake and flip in half. Increase the heat to high and cook each side until crispy. You might want to add a little more oil.

IMG_3353

To serve the pancakes make a little dipping sauce

Dipping Sauce

3tbs Lime juice
2tbs Fish sauce/Nam Pla
1tbs water
2-3 Chillies
2 cloves garlic
1 dsp Sugar

Peel and chop the garlic and chop the chillies then mix together with all the other ingredients.

IMG_3345

Put the pancakes onto plates and break or cut a piece off and wrap it in a salad leaf with a couple of pieces of mint tucked in. Dunk in the dipping sauce and pop it in your mouth.

IMG_2703
Yum!


Cinnamon Noodles

This is a very surprising recipe that I learnt in Bangkok with May Kaidee. Cinnamon with noodles didn’t sound attractive to me so I was very impressed with the result
It’s just the business for a cold day and a very warming and a fast lunch

It’s a very simple recipe and it’s also quite flexible – I’ve already changed it as I didn’t have all the original ingredients – and it still tastes just as good.
Here’s my ‘Irished’ home version. The original recipe used mushroom sauce and soya bean sauce – this keeps it vegetarian – but I didn’t have either in the house so I used a mix of sweet soya, tamari and a little bit of shrimp paste to give it some body.

This is my take on the dish but feel free to play around!

1tbs coriander seeds bashed up in the mortar and pestle
3 fatty cloves garlic
1 hot red chilli
1 stem lemongrass
all roughly chopped then added to the mortar and pestle and ground to a paste.

IMG_3315

1 tsp ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
stirred into the paste

1 carrot, sliced thinly.
a little chopped cabbage
a handful of chopped mushrooms
the centre of a head of celery – the fronds bit, chopped
a handful of chopped spring onions
700mls vegetable stock

IMG_3317

1tbs sweet soya sauce
1tbs tamari sauce
1 tsp shrimp paste

a handful of rice stick noodles soaked in tepid water for five minutes

Heat a table spoon on oil in the wok then stir in the spice mix and cook on medium heat for a few minutes.
Stir in the vegetable stock, add the carrots, mushroom and tofu and bring to the boil.
Cook for 3-4 minutes then stir sweet soya sauce, tamari and shrimp paste. Next add the cabbage followed by the noodles. Cook for a couple of minutes more, take off the heat and stir in the chopped celery and spring onions.

Ladle into bowls and serve with crushed roasted peanuts and wedges of lime on the side.

IMG_3322


Breakfast Gold

Homemade marmalade is so delicious that even though each time I make it I say ‘ never again’ , come the next year somehow I don’t resist the temptation to buy Seville oranges. Especially when they are on special offer. I was passing by Urru in Bandon where, just beside the door, was HALF PRICE Seville oranges. Before I knew what was happening I had bought the lot. Five kilos.

IMG_3265

Each year the epic chore of marmalade production seems to hit some kind of memory lapse. Maybe the hard work  entailed to achieve the result’s a bit like having a baby. The results are so magnificent the human brain conveniently bypasses the agonies involved in bringing this wonder into the world. My daughter says it’s obviously a long time since i had a baby!!

IMG_3270

 

But I have to say five kilos was bit excessive. I spent two and half hours juicing, scraping out all the pith and pips and then finely slicing the orange peel.

IMG_3274

And I only did half. Two and a half kilos of juiced , pithed and sliced seville orange peel lolling around in my kitchen in a bath of juice and water. The pith and pips have been parcelled up in a piece of muslin and are marinating overnight together withe the peel to encourage the relase of the pectin.

IMG_3278

Fingers crossed tomorrow I just have to hop up, cook the peel then boil the lot up with some sugar to make marmalade.

Meanwhile it’s relaxing on the kitchen counter.

And there are another two and half kiosk looking for attention or a good home!!