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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

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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

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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.

x For Freezer x

Spanish Chickpea Stew

Sending love and hope to you all. This week has been explosively confusing yet clear and cogent. My brain and heart feel overwhelmed.

During stressful times, my body always yearns to cook and nourish. There is magic in the kitchen. The familiar scents wafting through our home; the singsong of spices morphing into an opera; the alchemy of turning raw ingredients into belly-bombing deliciousness.

May you find comfort too.

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Enough for 10

450g smoked tofu or good-quality cooking chorizo such as Gubbeen

Splash of extra virgin olive oil

300g sliced leeks

2 large white onions, diced

1-2 tablespoons chopped garlic

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

6 red peppers (use jarred if cocooning from CoVid!)

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas (reserve some of the liquid from the tins)

2 x 680g jars of passata tomato sauce

60g fresh flat-leaf parsley, stalks and leaves chopped (optional)

A few twists of the salt and pepper mill

Squeeze of lemon

Natural yogurt or cultured cream, to serve


Cabin Fever.
Photography Joanne Murphy for Susan’s cookbook
Clever Batch; Recipes to Save You Time, Money and Patience

1. If you’re using fresh red peppers, start by firing up your oven to 220C.

2. Slice your cooking chorizo into bite-sized rounds (not too thin, but not too chunky either). If you’re using smoked tofu, add it alongside the chickpeas at a later stage.

3. Using the largest heavy-based pot you have, warm it over a medium heat, then add the chorizo and colour it all over (chorizo can burn very quickly, so keep a watchful eye). You’ll need to do this in two batches to stop the pan from overcrowding and stewing the meat. Depending on your pan, you may benefit from a lick of olive oil to help the process along. The natural fat melting away from the chorizo is usually enough. Once coloured, set the chorizo aside on a large plate.

4. Using the same heavy-based pot, sauté the leeks in the residual fat (no leeks? No problem. Use extra onion). Give these 10 minutes. Once the leeks are soft, tip them onto the resting plate of chorizo and leave aside.

5. Now add the onions and cumin to the heavy-based pot. You may or may not need another lick of olive oil. Sauté until soft (another 10 minutes). Stir through your garlic 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Garlic cooks swiftly compared to onions.

6. While the vegetables sweat in the pan, cut your peppers into strips. Tumble with a splash of olive oil and roast on a large baking tray (or two medium trays) in your preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. You’re looking for the peppers to be slightly charred at the sides (use jarred red peppers if avoiding shops right now – these have the benefit of already bring cooked!).

7. As soon as your onions are done, parachute in your tinned chickpeas along with a bit of the liquid from the tin, the medley of cooked chorizo/tofu and veg, your roasted (or jarred) peppers, both jars of passata and the freshly chopped parsley. If you’re using smoked tofu sausage in place of chorizo, add it now. Cook over a low to medium heat for 30 minutes so that the flavours fraternise.

8. Taste, season and lift with lemon. Allow to cool fully before storing in individual portions designated for the freezer. We love serving ours with a blob of yogurt and some crusty bread on the side. A poached egg is also ace with fried sourdough crumbs or simple boiled potatoes.

Photographed by Joanne Murphy for Clever Batch cookbook
x For Freezer x

Immune-Boosting Broth

For hundreds of years, Chinese medicine has had a serious crush on the shiitake mushroom. Shiitake compounds called lentinans and beta-glucan polysaccharides are believed to stimulate the immune system by activating certain macrophages and killer T-cells that usually declare war on foreign invaders. Nifty, eh? I like to think of shiitake as my immune system PT.

This week, I’m mainlining shiitake and bone broth #shoo #coronavirus.

In lab studies, shiitake extract has slowed the growth of tumours in certain cell cultures. But not in all cell cultures, highlighting the complexity surrounding the use of shiitake extract. Scientists are still unsure as to why this is – some conjectures include the ability of beta- glucans to trick the immune system into thinking it’s under attack. Perhaps the body reacts by releasing its finest ninja stars into the bloodstream or sending armed drones to survey the entire area. Who knows? More clinical trials are underway to understand which compounds in shiitake may be effective for which immunological disorders. But given that shiitake are so damned delicious, I’m happy to horse into them while scientists work it out. Maybe it’s time to start offering laureates to vegetables?

We use this bone broth as a base for rice, stews and soups. It’s a yumdinger all on its own with some Tabasco, woolly socks and your favourite mug. The glucosamine and chondroitin in bone broth is thought to stimulate the growth of new collagen in our body, reduce inflammation and repair damaged joints. And they say diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Pah! Give me more collagen and better dance moves any day.

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Makes 3 litres

Handful of dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms

1 organic or higher-welfare chicken carcass or 1.5kg beef bones (free from the butcher)

Chunk of ginger, roughly chopped

1 whole head of garlic, sliced in half

Any ends of vegetables such as leeks, onions, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes (I store these in my ongoing freezer bags so that I have a swag of veggies at hand for stock. Also, when veg are on discount I freeze the lot!)

Any fresh herbs loitering in your fridge or garden

Splash of apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon flaky sea salt


Pop everything into your largest stockpot. Cover with fresh filtered water. Bring to a very shy simmer and cook for 8–16 hours – the longer, the better. I usually transfer my stockpot into the oven on a really low setting. I don’t let the stock boil. Prolonged boiling can interfere with the natural supply of collagen.

Strain the stock with a large kitchen sieve. Taste and see if it needs a bit of soya sauce, chipotle smoked chilli or Tabasco for oomph (these are my go-tos for quick fixes). Once you are happy with its taste, leave to cool before storing in the fridge or freezer.

Photos all by Joanne Murphy for Clever Batch cookbook