Recipe: Honey Roast Parsnip, Apple & Puy Lentils with Crispy Kale

I’ve been making this dish a lot this autumn, it’s perfectly seasonal now but is actually great right through the winter months as you should be able to get local parsnips, kale and apples until spring.  I really love parsnips and I think they tend to be a bit underrated and underused, often only appearing as a side to roast dinners. Parsnips are excellent over the winter months but you can buy locally grown (or at least British) almost the whole year. Continue reading

Recipe: Irish Shortbread

This must be the easiest shortbread recipe in the world! It makes the most deliciously decadent (take note of the amount of butter!) and crumbly shortbread and only takes about five minutes to make the dough, you don’t even need to line or butter the tin.  It does take a hour in the oven, but that’s an hour that you can spend drinking tea and watching the Bon Appetit You Tube channel (what I would like to have been doing this morning) or cleaning your kitchen and washing a million Tupperware boxes (what I actually did this morning). Continue reading

Recipe: Apple, Cabbage & Caraway Sauerkraut

Making sauerkraut is much easier than many people think, it is basically just a mixture of finely chopped or grated vegetables mixed with salt (1-2% of the total weight of chopped vegetables) and then left to ferment. The sugar is optional, it will ferment without it, but I think it makes for a nicer kraut by rounding out the flavours a bit. It’s always good to have some hard, crunchy vegetables in the mix as they keep a bit of texture as they ferment, which is why crunchy white cabbage is so good. Continue reading

Stuffed Breads with Greens & Wild Garlic

This recipe is adapted from Olia Hercules’ book Kaukasis. We made them with her in Ukraine last summer, or perhaps she did all the making and we did all the eating! They are truly delicious!

This Spring, these breads are seeing us through the hunger gap as a brilliant way to use kale, perpetual spinach & chard from the garden – some of the few crops still in plentiful supply. Adding in a bit of foraged wild garlic gives a little bit allium zing. Olia uses beetroot leaves in her recipe, which is great for the summer months. The leaves from beetroot, chard, perpetual spinach and sea beet are all pretty much interchangeable as they are all variations on the same plant Beta vulgaris. Continue reading

Recipe: Roast Butternut Squash, Mozzarella & Hazelnut Salad

Is there anything better to eat in the summer than a salad made with ripe, sweet tomatoes, handfuls of fragrant, aniseedy basil and good quality creamy mozzarella? It is perfect alongside hunks of rich olive oil focaccia as an al fresco lunch. As the days shorten and autumn rolls into winter it is impossible to get delicious tomatoes. Our homegrown tomatoes are long gone and the supermarkets have reverted to selling the watery ones that are available out of season.

If you get hold of good quality mozzarella it seems a shame to cook it (except perhaps on top of a wood-fired pizza) so I developed this mozzarella salad for the winter months; it is a celebration of the flavours of autumn – the sweet, nuttiness of roasted squash and creamy, crunchy hazelnuts paired with the soft, lactic acidity the mozzarella. Continue reading

Recipe: Mushroom, Rosemary & Pearl Barley Broth

I developed this recipe for a lovely couple who are getting married in Autumn 2018 and wanted a simple seasonal start the meal before a magnificent spread of sharing platters to be served as the main course. It reminds me of the beautiful broths we ate in Ukraine earlier in the year; there they are always finished with a dollop of smetana (a rich sour cream), so I’ve added some as a garnish to finish this dish. Sometimes a simple but delicious starter like this is the perfect complement to a dramatic and colourful main course. Continue reading

Recipe: Pad Thai

It’s a cliche, but I first ate this dish from a street vendor on the Khao San Road (the infamous backpacker district in Bangkok) when I was a student. I was travelling on a shoestring, I’d landed in Asia for the first time having been brought up in the not very adventurous food scene of Northern Ireland in the 1980s & 90s. I was totally blown away! What was this salty, spicy, sour and sweet concoction? Slippery noodles, fiery chilli, soft tofu, chicken or prawns and crunchy peanuts on top and all cooked in less than two minutes and for a cost of about 25p. Continue reading

Recipe: Wilted Greens with Garlic & Soy

This is hardly a recipe at all but is something I cook all the time, perfect when I crave the clean, slightly bitter taste of greens. It is a brilliant way of using up leftover greens that are slightly past their best and that half cabbage that is lurking at the bottom of the fridge, though it is also amazing with fresh greens straight from the garden. It can be made in a matter of minutes and is great for a hit of vegetables alongside a curry or as a main course with some steamed rice and crispy tofu.  Continue reading