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Salads & Suppers

Salads & Suppers, Sides, x For Freezer x

A pot of Really Good Daal

During these biting wintry weekends, daal can be a life-enriching experience. It’s a form of spellbinding magic. My nostrils do an all-consuming samba as I inhale a whole load of happiness that only food chemists could explain. This is daal – noun, verb, adjective, it’s much more than a bowl of hot legumes.

Food is always my first medicinal port of call. I prepare daal to soothe indolent moods and sore hearts. It’s got to have lots of sizzling garlic and blood-thumping ginger. Like a hug, these are to help us feel grounded yet simultaneously lifted, something Indian cooking almost always achieves. The injection of chilli is life’s defibrillator – the bigger the burn, the quicker we wake and shake.

 

 

 

Yellow Daal

Serves 3-5

This daal’s got more kick than a bunny in heat. Yellow split peas will give the daal a chunkier consistency, boiled until softly crushed then stirred into slow cooked onions and spiked with spices.

Namaste, from my little Indian love nest.

 

250g yellow split peas, rinsed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons coconut oil, butter or ghee
1 white onion, finely diced
4 fat cloves of garlic
1 red chilli, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Chunk of ginger, lightly peeled and grated
Squeeze of lime
Generous handful of plum tomatoes, halved
Natural yoghurt, to serve
Fresh coriander, to serve

 

Cook the split peas and ground turmeric in a small deep pan, covering with unsalted water. Let them putt-putter for 30-45 minutes until you can crush the peas between your thumb and forefinger. You’re looking for a soupy consistency.

While the peas gurgle away, gently colour the onions in your preferred form of fat (butter, coconut oil or ghee) over a low flame for 12 minutes. Turn up the flame, add the crushed garlic, chilli, cumin and grated ginger, stirring for a few minutes to prevent charring.

Now you can add the lime, fresh tomatoes and turn the heat right down to let the flavours socialise under a lid. After 10 minutes of cooking, stir through the cooked split peas. Serve in large bowls alongside some natural yoghurt and freshly torn coriander leaves. A plump poached egg also serves us well.

 

 

 

 

 

Salads & Suppers

Coriander and Pomegranate Ceviche, from my cookbook

Freshly torn from its plant, cilantro transforms a sad excuse of a salad into a party on a plate. And you’re invited.

Unless you have a hotline to Dan Barber’s brain, growing coriander can be a trifle tricky. Best tip? Don’t bother with the supermarket plants. They are merely dejected relatives of the real thing and never live longer than their first haircut.

Instead, follow these cinchy steps: (1) Sow salad seeds in a 25cm deep, well-drained pot. (2) Feed with at least 8 hours sunlight on a windowsill. (3) Keep well watered. (4) Brag to everyone in the office that you GYO and let them rub your halo.

This will feed 4, but we double the quantities for supper parties. Very little work involved.

 

 

For the floppy fennel:

 

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1–2 red onions, finely sliced into semi-circles

1 fennel, topped and tailed, and finely sliced

 

For the ceviche:

 

400g super-fresh fish like mackerel or wild salmon

Juice of 1 blood orange

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sea salt flakes (much less, if you have regular sea salt)

Bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves only

A few tablespoons pomegranate seeds

 

 

To make the floppy fennel, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, sesame oil and maple syrup with a fork. Depending on the size of your limes, you may need to adjust the tartness by adding a smidgeon more sesame oil. Taste. Hover. Leap. Prostrate.

Pour over the thinly sliced red onions and fennel. In a few minutes, the vegetables will turn floppy and sweet, as if inebriated by the dressing. Leave them be and get going on the ceviche.

Ask your fishmonger to skin and bone the fish. If he’s really nice, he’ll cut them into bite-sized pieces for you too. Otherwise, you’ll have to see to all three steps yourself before making the ceviche. Tumble the fish with the citrus juice, olive oil and flakes of salt. Allow to infuse for 1 hour or more in the fridge, but anything past 4 hours will turn the fish rubbery.

Stir through mountains of torn cilantro and pomegranate seeds. Serve on a very large plate and have everyone help themselves alongside the bowls of floppy fennel. Plain quinoa is a great side too with a couple tablespoons of desiccated coconut.

 

 

Some crazy-ass news?

The US edition of my cookbook, Tasty.Naughty.Healthy.Nice, reached number 1 on Amazon for New Releases. #WTAF

As a result, Amazon have dropped the price in celebration. Here’s the link, should you fancy sending an American pal some Irish sunshine through the post this week! 

Namaste my friends.

 

 

 

Salads & Suppers, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Mushroom & Merlot Stew

 

I am lovebombing mushrooms before they are swallowed up by Spring. Mushrooms have to be one of the most sophisticated and understated veggies we’re not eating. They are the Woody Allen of the grocers  – hardly overburdened by good looks, but scrumptious and uniquely nourishing all the same.

Mushrooms bring great depth to dishes as well as inimitable flavour profiles. Often ‘shrooms can make a stealthy replacement for meat, like in this recipe. Apart from their meaty, lip-dancing taste, mushrooms of all sorts like to fangirl our immune system. Especially shiitake.

For hundreds of years, Chinese doctors have prescribed shiitake mushrooms to boost white blood cell activity. A unique polysaccharide found in shiitake – the beta glucan – has shown to tickle the immune system by activating cytokines and killer T-cells. Oooh argh. Kind of like a fascinating immune system defibrillator. More clinical trials are under way to understand the medicinal effect polysaccharides can offer our bodies.

 

 

This mushroom and merlot stew uses bone broth to help it sing. But this ain’t no singsong. Think opera. We serve it with mash, and a dot of horse radish yoghurt. My BAE. (Okay, so this teenspeak is normally a reference point for Justin Bieber’s abs, or bare-chested members of One Direction. Grand so. Except when you get to my age, food will excite you more).

 

Mushroom and merlot stew

Serves 12, freezes well

 

6 tablespoons ghee, butter or olive oil

2 large onions, peeled and diced

4 fat cloves of garlic

4 beetroots, peeled and chopped

3 bay leaves

5 sprigs of thyme

3 cups (750ml) merlot or other dry red wine

8 cups (2 litres) really good vegetable stock or bone broth

1 tin of anchovies, chopped (leave out for vegetarians)

8 big handfuls of wild mushrooms

4 tablespoon grated ginger (optional)

2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot

 

For the horseradish yoghurt:

4-6 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

1 large tub natural or Greek yoghurt

Handful of fresh parsley

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of your preferred fat in your largest, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until glassy.

Tumble in the chopped beets, bay leaves, thyme and let them socialise for 5 minutes on a low flame while you get going on the shrooms (method below). Then pour the merlot, stock and anchovies into the pot. Let the pot gurgle for 60 minutes until the beets are tender. Leave the lid off and let the alcohol escape. This might sound counter-intuituve if you’re Irish, but trust me. You don’t want alcohol in this.

To prep the shrooms, slice into bite-sized chunks or leave whole if small. Heat the rest of your chosen fat in a large frying pan, lower the heat and cook the mushrooms until tender and caramelised. I do this in batches while the stew bubbles. Season the mushrooms, and parachute them into the pot. Simmer until tender.

Dissolve the kuzu or arrowroot with 2 tablespoons of cold water and add to the pot 10 minutes towards the end of cooking to thicken the broth. At this point, you can also grate some ginger into the pot and let it gently simmer until the beets are tender.

Serve with fabulously spicy horseradish yoghurt, creamed potatoes, or chickpea mash.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Elle Magazine in Canada for originally publishing this recipe over Yuletide. Yez are The Snazz, Elle Canada!