Treats & Snacks

Home Made CHai SPice

Chai is an orgy of healthy spices that has become a sensation across certain postcodes of Cork and Dublin. Here’s why. There is ginger to warm your tonsils; cinnamon to ignite your toes; nutmeg and clove to heat your insides; and cardamom to excite your synapses.

Chai coffee is my winter battery. I just add a pinch to my French press, and let the spices perform acts that only a defibrillator could rival. A teaspoon of chai will also dazzle crumbles, cakes and bakes. We love it sprinkled on top of foamy hot chocolates with some crunchy cacao nibs and woolly socks by the fire. Or packed into dinky jars as little gifts for friends feeling under the weather during these crazy viral times.

However, packets of spices can be dastardly expensive and wasteful. Most recipes only call for small amounts, so what’s the point in buying big supermarket packets? I recommend ordering the exact quantity you need, from as little as 10g, at specialist refill stores. Check out paxwholefoodsecogoods.com for example where you can buy this recipe in its entirety, no excess, no waste, no plastic. Other nation-wide delivery options include thegoodneighbour.ie and thesourcebulkfoods.ie . (See here for a map of Ireland with refill / bulk stores nearest to you).


3 tablespoons green cardamom pods
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 whole star anise (optional)
Fresh crack of the black pepper mill
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)


Coax the cardamom seeds out of their papery pods. You can compost the pods, and then transfer the seeds into a coffee grinder or Nutribullet.

Add the remaining ingredients, and grind into a fine powder. That’s it!

Store in a screw-topped jar and use within 5 months. A pinch is all you need on top of hot chocolate, or 2 teaspoons in cakes and bakes.


Originally appeared in the Sunday Independent December 2021

Events

The Gift of Health: (tickets now live)

Join me and my vegetables for a series of 3 cookery demos scheduled over the first 3 Tuesdays in March 2022 @7pm. Click here to secure your place, or gift a ticket to a friend for Christmas.

For €41, you’ll get all 3 classes (or recordings if you can’t make the live class), a snazzy ebook of my absolute favourite vegetarian meals, an interactive Q&A, and probable guest appearances from unscheduled pets or children.

Looking forward to welcoming you into my home kitchen!

.

.

.

Salads & Suppers

Christmas for Vegetarians

The mere mention of Yuletide normally has me sweating sequins. I hate feeling like a week-old party balloon before Santa even arrives. So I prep my Christmas menu in advance, and massage my synapses with an extra large vermouth. Vegeterian favourites include dishes like Beet Bourguignon, and buckwheat blini & beluga lentils . These mushroom-based scallops are out of this world, and will rock December 25th for vegans and carnivores alike.

For my GF and vegan friends, you’ll find a recipe for irresistibly-easy Florentines here. And my wholefoodie Christmas Cake, using W.B.Yeats’ favourite tea lapsang Souchong and the genius of Amy Chaplin.

This year, we’re doing Hassleback Squash (below) covered with festive pomegranate seeds and extra pecans. It works both as a side to the turkey, or as a centerpiece for vegans /vegetarian tables.


Hassleback Squash

1 butternut squash, preferably organic

1 teaspoon of olive oil

3 sprigs of rosemary

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1 fat clove garlic, grated

Good handful of pecans or walnuts

Flaky sea salt and freshly crushed black pepper


1. Fire up your oven to 190-200C. Peel the squash using a potato peeler and long strokes. This is easier than it looks and sounds! (Organic squash skins tend to be thinner and have considerably less chemical coating).

2. Carefully cut the squash in half, lengthways. Scoop out and compost the inner nest of seeds.

3. Rub oil all over your hands and each half. Pop each half onto a large roasting tray, cut side down, and cook in your preheated oven for 20 minutes only. You don’t want the squash to be too soft to cut.

4. Remove the squash from your oven, and carefully transfer each half onto a chopping board. Place wooden spoons either side of the squash half (I’ll show you this in the cookery class). You’ll need to find wooden spoons with similar width handles, but use whatever you have! Chopsticks work beautifully too.

5. Slice the squash from top to toe, all the way to the wooden handles (this will stop the blade cutting right through the butternut and falling apart). Take a peek at the picture, which will give you a good idea.

6. Tuck in tufts of fresh rosemary, followed by butter or olive oil mixed with grated garlic. You’ll need a good few cracks of the salt and black pepper mill too. Bake until the squash begins to colour on top (15 mins). Then parachute over your nuts, and return to the oven to bake a further 5-8 minutes. If you want to sprinkle some brown sugar over the nuts, or dried cranberries, I’m not going to stop you! 

7. Serve in the baking tray/dish, resting on a chopping board to protect your table. Go ahead and pile Brussel sprouts around it, or whatever else is on your Christmas menu.


Vegetarian Scallops