Sides

Fermented Ginger Slaw

Ever massaged a cabbage leaf into a deliciously dopey torpor? You’d be forgiven if it wasn’t on your to-do list this afternoon. I’m here to tell you that it should be.

Pickling and fermenting have caused witchy hysteria from Berlin to Bantry: kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, vinegar, kombucha and sourdough. All these funky ferments send your flavour radar into another stratosphere. But that’s not the best part. Fermenting your own fresh produce means less food waste during Lock Down, less shopping while we’re trying to avoid public places, and more trips to the loo. Yup. Let’s get to that last point swiftly.

Your gut is a jungle of microbiota who love a good party. These disco dudes feed on fructooligosaccharides (FOS), fibre and lacto-fermented foods like this ginger slaw. The trick to keeping your digestive health all tickety-poo (sorry) is to crowd out the nasty challengers and the gate-crashing pathogens.

The good news? It’s much easier than it sounds. Try making this purple party slaw. There’s also this video I made to show you just how easy kimchi is to make at home.

.

1 red cabbage, rinsed and cored

1 tablespoon fine Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt

1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated

.

Shred the cabbage in whatever way you fancy. I use a nifty blade on my food processor, which probably bruises the edges a little but I’m no kitchen angel. If you download a good podcast, shredding finely with a sharp knife won’t feel so laborious. The finer the shredding, the better the result.

In your largest ceramic bowl, tumble the shredded cabbage with the salt and ginger. Leave for 2 hours (not an imperative step, but great advice for lazy people. The cabbage becomes softer and juicier to work with! Red cabbage takes longer to submit than, say, Napa cabbage which has a much higher water content and demands less massaging. Feel free to do a combination of cabbages).

When you return, massage the salt into the cabbage for 10 minutes before decanting into a very large glass jar (or several jars).

Press the cabbage down firmly inside your jar, encouraging the natural fresh salty juices to come to the top of the cabbage. Now place a weight on top of the cabbage to keep it submerged in its juices. I use a clean stone, which works theatrically well. My kids love this and anoint it with a spell.

Seal the jar loosely and keep at room temperature for three days, where it will fizz, gurgle and burp. Two days is loads during hot summer spells. You might like to place the jar(s) on a plate to avoid renegade juices.

Taste and decide whether it hits the spot. If yes, transfer to the fridge, where it will happily keep for months submerged in its lovejuice. If not, keep it on the kitchen counter for another 12 hours.

x For Freezer x

Aubergine Rendang

I have completely bastardised lamb rendang, and man, did it work. I use 75% less red meat than the traditional recipe and lob in lots of aubergine and gojis. Goji berries look like teensy chillies in the rendang and will scare the bejaysus out of your housemates. Small pleasures in tough times.

These teensy gnarled berries hide most of their beauty. Gram for gram, one serving of goji berries can deliver more vitamin C than those egotistical oranges. Gojis are a good plant source of iron and protein too. As a tonic, they’ve been central to Tibetan and Chinese medicine for over a thousand years. This berry’s immune-boosting reputation might stem from its specific polysaccharide permutation, just like mushrooms. Polysaccharides apparently work by influencing our immune response by stimulating certain ‘fighter’ cells. Fancy shmancy. But science is rarely that simple. Perhaps its impressive stash of antioxidants is responsible for all the hype? Nutritional yah-yah aside, I love their flavour in this dish. That’s good enough reason for me!

Zenning my face off. Photos by Joanne Murphy for Clever Batch cookbook

.

Serves 8 with rice

2 brown onions, chopped

5 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil or ghee

600g lamb chunks, preferably shoulder

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 fresh chilli, deseeded and chopped

2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped

2 fingers of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons black or yellow mustard seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 teaspoons ground turmeric (or grated fresh root)

A good few turns of the salt and pepper mill

1 x 400ml tin full-fat coconut milk

Generous handful of dried goji berries

4 large aubergines

Fresh coriander, to garnish

.

Start by sweating the onions on a gentle heat with 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil or ghee until glassy (5–10 minutes). Add the lamb, garlic, chilli, lemongrass, ginger, spices and a few twists from the salt and pepper mill. No need to brown the lamb first. Whack up the heat for a few minutes to briefly sizzle and colour everything, then pour in the coconut milk and turn down to a putt-putter. I use the lowest setting on my cooker. It needs 2–3 hours over a low-medium heat on the hob with a lid securely fastened. Any higher and the lamb will toughen. Taste after 2 hours and see if the lamb has collapsed enough or needs longer in the pot. It should be juicy and flavoursome, not tough. Give it more time if required.

Remove the lid for the final 20–30 minutes of cooking and parachute the goji berries into the mix. This will add sweetness and nutrition while concentrating the flavours. Rendang is best when it’s strong and punchy rather than soupy or saucy.

About the same time as you are adding the gojis, fire up your oven to 220C and slice the aubergines into thick discs, then into quarters. Divide between two roasting trays. Service each tray with the remaining coconut oil or ghee and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until soft and caramelised.

Once the aubergines are roasted, stir them through the rendang, tickle with fresh coriander leaves. Sticky black rice is a fabulous accompaniment if you want the rendang to stretch to eight mouths. We also love chickpea poppadoms and pickled red onion on the side.

x For Freezer x

Awesome Freezer Dressings

I’m freezing all my dressings now in an easy ice cube tray (see image below), making cabin fever practically enjoyable. Instead of lolloping to the shops with disproportionate urgency and an over-zealous face mask (I own a balaclava), now I just grab a frozen dressing and leave it to defrost within minutes.

These little flavour grenades are perfect on top of plain soups, rice, fish, toast, waffles, eggs, roasted veg or despondent-looking salads. No mess. No washing up. Just yumdingers in an ice cube, and less reason to go outside and shop.

All 4 recipes come from the Freezer Dressings chapter in Clever Batch cookbook, which I’m not supposed to be sharing with you for copyright reasons. But my publisher (hi Gill!) will understand I’m sure, given the current state of chasis we find ourselves in, and the drive to stay at home and out of the neighbourhood stores.

No freezer? No problem. They’ll store beautifully for up to two weeks in a fridge. Some light relief for the cabin fever.

Nori Paste

Ocean vegetables are the biggest thing since Ron Burgundy’s sideburns. Calling them ocean veg is, of course, Oprah-fied. Here in Ireland we call them seaweed (but I’m with Oprah on this one – ocean veg sounds like a sultry Billie Eilish song rather than a slimy sea weed).

Nori, and its brothers and sisters in the world of ocean veg, can deliver a cargo of calcium for strong bones. Go nori! Not worried about your bones? You should be, especially if you’re female. One in four Irish women will suffer an osteoporotic fracture in their lifetime. That number jumps to one in every two women over fifty. Jeesh.

10 sheets of nori (an ocean veg, and a sort of sushi paper)

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

1–2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar (or a squirt of lemon in a pinch)

1 tablespoon soya sauce

Up to 150ml water

Using a scissors, roughly chomp the nori sheets into bite-sized pieces. Migrate to a saucepan and add maple syrup, some brown rice vinegar and the soya sauce. If you are coeliac, you can find wheat-free soya sauce, called tamari. Leave everything to chillax for 20 minutes.

Add the water and cook on a gentle heat. Remove from the heat after 10 minutes or when the nori collapses into a paste.

Store in an airtight jar once cooled and keep for up to seven days in the fridge. Indecently tasty stuff.

Chimichurri

In truth, a forgotten dishcloth would taste good in chimichurri. Serve with fried eggs, falafel, meat, fish, hummus, roasted veg. Anything, actually.

1 red onion, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 fresh green chilli, deseeded and diced (optional)

2 bunches of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

125ml extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon, juiced

4 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh oregano or thyme

.

I prefer stirring all the ingredients together. You can, of course, use a food processor to break it all up and marry the flavours, but the end result looks different – greener and thicker than if you were to stir the listed ingredients separately.

Mizzle over plain veg or excite an unsuspecting bowl of rice.

Harissa Butter

One blast of this butter will have you trotting like a fiery showhorse. There is electrifying happiness to be found inside cayenne pepper. It’s not simply the heat hot-wiring your dimples. It is, in fact, the active compounds within the pepper that tickle our feel-good endorphins (essential fodder for cabin fever, noh?)

Special Agent Capsaicin is responsible for this biochemical effect. Surprisingly, capsaicin’s real prowess does not lie within its antioxidant taekwondo moves. Capsaicin is a brilliant agitator. As we freak out to cope with the blaze of a hot chilli, for example, our body releases an armada of natural painkillers in direct response to the capsaicin content. These endorphins canter through our bloodstream like nectar in our veins. Is it any wonder why a Friday night Thai curry is so damn popular?

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1 garlic clove, peeled

6 tablespoons butter or ghee, softened

1 tablespoon ground paprika

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Squeeze of lemon

Pinch of fine sea salt

Pinch of chipotle chilli or cayenne pepper or chilli powder

.

Fire up a frying pan and dry-toast the coriander, cumin and caraway seeds until your nostrils start to party. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon to avoid scorching.

Transfer to a pestle and mortar or a coffee grinder and pulverise to a powder. Now beat in the remaining ingredients.

Spoon into a silicone ice cube tray, freeze until firm and pop into a marked freezer bag. It’s a thing of beauty.

When the mood beckons, pop a frozen cube of harissa butter on top of toast with eggs or you can snazzjazzle a boring soup.

Photographed by Joanne Murphy at home, for Clever Batch: wholefood recipes to save you time, money and patience

White Miso and Garlic Butter

Hot melted butter, smashed garlic and a few teaspoons of sweet white miso paste will transform any tired vegetable into a sultan of seduction. Hell, even a tired flip-flop would taste damn good with this!

3 tablespoons ghee or butter

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 garlic clove, crushed

Gently warm your ghee or butter until it’s runny. Whisk in your miso paste and crushed garlic. Mizzle over veg or crisp Cos leaves.