simple is best

 simple is best

I don’t know why I haven’t made carrot salad more considering how often it comes in the veg box and that they are almost always available in your local corner shop. There is a very simple recipe in Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book and it’s lovely.

Take 1lb of carrots, grate them, add 4 tbsp’s of extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp of lemon juice, 2 tbsp’s flat leaf parsley (or chervil), mix and leave to chill for a while .
Add salt and pinch of sugar to taste (though I didn’t) and hoof it down you. Lovely.

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bean tops

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A thunderstorm passed through a few hours ago, you wouldn’t believe how dark it got in the kitchen about 6pm.

But now it’s the calm after the storm, there is a softness in the earth and bird song.

Sometimes walking in the garden I think I can see things growing, like the turnips and lettuce.
It’s all in my imagination *he said to make himself sound sane to anyone reading*  but it’s such a soft day now that you know the vegetables and herbs are soaking it all in, the rain and nutrients and whatever else makes things grow.

I pinched the tops off my broad beans, they books say to do this when they come into flower so that the energy goes into making the beans. It was as nice task because broad  beans smell lovely. A few books suggest to cook them if they aren’t over run with blackfly, which they weren’t so I made a risotto.
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It looked better than it tasted truth be told, not because of the bean tops but because I haven’t yet mastered the art of making onions soft and transparent without letting them get brown. The crunchy onions ruined it for me, though it still tasted nice. It ruined it because I was kicking myself for not getting the oni0ns right. In my defence I was distracted by counting the time between flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder, calculating that the thunderstorm must be directly above Barna now or out in Galway Bay. It was also pitch black.
If you don’t cook much you’d be amazed how often the recipes tells you not to let  onions brown. It seems like a simple thing but my oven hobs are crazy and want to char anything that touches them, even at the lowest setting.

So there you go, pay attention to softening your onions and don’t throw out your broad bean tips.

La crique

La crique

We’re still getting our vegetable box delivered each week but somewhere over the Christmas holidays someone in the house (probably me) bought a 10kg bag of potatoes that has lead to a back log of spuds that need eaten.

I am trying to redeem my relationship with potatoes which means learning to appreciate the hassle of having to wash or peel them and empty them into the compost heap and finding recipes that are a bit more exciting that boiling them or don’t involve adding buckets of butter.
Also recipes that don’t involve using an oven to bake them would be good as that adds extra carbon to the air.

So I gave this recipe for potato and garlic cake, (La Crique) a go and it was tasty in my opinion.

Basically grate 1kg of peeled potatoes.
Beat two eggs with pepper, salt and a garlic clove bashed with some salt.
Mix them all together (I took the clove out as I don’t like discovering a lump of garlic when I don’t expect it).
Heat a frying pan, add 4tbsp of olive oil, spread the mixture over and gently cook for 15mins shaking every so often to stop it sticking.
Turn over when crisp at the bottom and cook for 5
mins.

The recipe is in my favourite cook book, European Peasant Cookery by Elizabeth Luard.

free range bacon

I am typing this and eating my dinner, a bowl of leek and potato soup with some cubes of free range, woodland reared etc etc pancetta style bacon from St George’s Market.

I have rarely, if ever bought free range, organic meat before for two main reasons.

1) It is more expensive and when you’re watching the pennies those extra pounds that an organic, free range chicken would cost (and it would be pounds)are a big deterrent.
2) Sometimes there is an atmosphere middle class self righteousness when around free range, organic meat which I don’t like and puts me off.

But having said all that the reason I am typing this during my dinner is that I was amazed by the difference in the grease and fat that came from my grill when I was cooking my free range, woodland reared bacon compared to what I normally would get cooking some bacon from my local Spar, or even from my butcher.

First up, there was much less steam coming from the grill. Normally there would be clouds of steam coming from the grill, so much so that when you lift it up it could burn your hand.

There was also much less water running into the bowl. Normally there would be a layer of dirty grease water floating on top of the bacon fat. Tonight there was a much less steam from the grill and the fat which ran seemed much clearer.

I guess what I’m saying is that there was something noticeably different to the bacon I cooked tonight compared to the bacon I would cook normally.

walnut and radish leaf pesto

I’d been spending the last few weeks waiting for my radishes to mature when suddenly the thought hit me
‘Dave, you don’t actually like radishes do you?

Also I had planted them very thickly which meant that few had matured. So what was I to do?

Try making some radish pesto, that’s what.

I took about 50g of walnuts from the cupboard and toasted them,whizzed that with half a clove of garlic (I’ve gone off garlic a bit this week after a bout of sickness last week), blitzed that with about 35g of radish leaf, added some extra virgin olive oil in a stream to get a nice consistency, stirred in some Parmesan-esque Sainsbury Basics cheese, a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper for seasoning.

I had it with pasta and it didn’t taste as bad as I first feared. It was definitely better than eating the radish itself.

a simple lunch

I think I might like herring more than mackerel (though mackerel is very good as well), just grill for a few minutes with a bit of salt and pepper, grab some salad leaves from the window box and a add a bit of beetroot ‘jam’ that you mistook for pickled beetroot in the Polish shop. Add a lemon for colour (well, no need to add a whole lemon or even half a lemon as above) eat and enjoy.
Onion skirlie would have been perfect as well if you had remembered to make it.