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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!

 

 

 

 

Bread, Breakfast, Salads & Suppers, Sides, Vegan &/or Raw

Cauli Toasts

“Does the smell of bacon make you want it?”

“Don’t plants feel too?”

“Wasn’t Hitler a vegan?”

… just some of the delightfully irritating questions vegans shake off on a daily basis. “What can you eat?” carnivores ask, pupils morphing into one of those tiny kaleidoscopic wheels on a Mac before it crashes.

Food, dudes. Real food. Hundreds of plant-powered ingredients are at a herbivore’s fingertips everyday; they are Mother Nature’s heavyweight champions of fibre. I envy a vegan’s commitment. Their bowel movements must be like Christmas presents.

Given I am happily institutionalised into marital bliss with all its obligations and sacred rituals, I like to flirt with everything that crosses our front door. This week, it was vegan. The guest. Not the husband.

I wanted to thrill my guest, in the only way available to me (through my pantry). I quickly learned that with just a bit of mental parkour, you can turn any vegetable into a thundering drama queen and steal the show.

So here’s the recipe.

 

 

 

Cauli & Caper  Toast

Cauliflower toasts are scorching their hipster mark across NYC restaurants. With the right flavours, cauli toast is pretty fantastical. This dish has quickly become the litmus test of trendiness across cafes. Who knew a bleedin’ cauliflower could cause such a stir?

 

1 large head of cauliflower
Splash of olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

 

Fire up your oven to 210 Celsius, gas mark 7.

Cut 2 or 3 large slices from your head of cauli. Aim for about 2cm thick so it won’t collapse on you. I slice down the centre, using the core to hold it all together. Rub all over with olive oil and cumin. Then roast flat for 20-30 minutes or until slightly charred and golden. Throw the capers on top, halfway through cooking.

To plate up, crown with a poached duck egg like in the picture, or and some hummus for a vegan supper. The capers will give fabulous pops of ‘salty lemon’ to the finished dish. Fried chorizo is achingly good too. Hakuna matata.

 

 

 

Here’s an interview of me, and my potty mouth talking to a journalist in NYC, on the release of the US edition of The Virtuous Tart cookbook………..

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X SJ