I was asked by Adam at Seedhead Arts if I wanted to do a talk for this year’s Out To Lunch festival (part of Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival). He suggested ‘Preserving for the Apocalypse’ might be an amusing and timely title. With over-buying during the early (and some of the later) stages of lockdown and Brexit bumps (or almighty earthquakes) causing custom hold ups it definitely feels like an appropriate time to rediscover some of the forgotten skills of food preservation. I can’t promise you will be able to live off jam and chutney should the apocalypse actually come – but a really good jar of chutney might make those bugs we’ll be eating a bit more palatable!
Chutney is really easy to make. You don’t need to worry about setting points or pectin or anything tricky. You basically just chop up the veg you have and boil it up with some sugar, vinegar and spices until is starts to break down and reduces by about half of the original volume. Continue reading
Making ketchup is not a dissimilar process to making chutney – you are basically simmering ingredients up with vinegar and sugar. But I think it something most people don’t think to do as it seems like a product made in a factory, rather than something you can easily make at home. I first make ketchup at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and ever since then I’ve been hooked. I discovered that a staple (often ultra processed) product that we eat all the time was actually super easy to make, lasts absolutely ages and was way more delicious when homemade! Continue reading
Sauerkraut and other fermented foods are different to most of the pickles that you buy – or indeed make – as instead of using vinegar to preserve the vegetables you are creating an environment where certain bacteria thrive and it is those bacteria that will both create flavour and preserve your vegetables. Continue reading
This is my autumnal take on a classic lemon meringue pie. I’ve been inspired by my friend, Clare McQuillan, who is a talented forager and cook. Clare made a number of delicious meringue pies over the last year or so using wild ingredients, a couple of which I have been lucky enough to taste. Making a curd (which is basically the filling in a meringue pie) is a great way to use wild and trickier to process ingredients as you can just boil them up whole (without a lot of peeling, chopping, deseeding) and then strain them through a muslin to get the juice for the curd. This year the little crab apple tree in my Mum’s garden was laden down with glossy, bright red crab apples, so after making as much crab apple jelly as any one family can reasonably eat I was inclined to do something a bit more decadent and hence this Toffee Apple Meringue pie!
The combination of sharp apple curd and salted caramel gives this pie a Halloween/Bonfire season feel – hence the Toffee Apple name. Admittedly, this is not a quick or easy recipe, there are lots of elements and quite a few processes too, so it is a bit of a labour of love! Totally worth it of course! Continue reading
As we move into early summer the green salads we grow here at The Edible Flower have more lettuce and less of the rocket and mustard leaves – which grow better from late summer onward. This year we are growing two delicious cos-style lettuce leaves; a bright green variety called ‘Maureen’ and an absolutely gorgeous very dark purple (almost black) variety called ‘Deronda’. Cos-style lettuce is perfect for a Caesar salad as it’s robust enough to hold up to the thick, silky dressing without collapsing at the bottom of the bowl. Continue reading
This is such a gorgeous dish and healthy too. It’s a great way to showcase our beautiful salad leaves and with all the herbs and the lime juice it just tastes so fresh and zingy.
I’ve given an option for steak or prawns here, which is how we most often serve it at supperclubs and other events. If you are looking for a veggie/vegan option then chargrilling or roasting some aubergine and dousing it in the dressing while it is still warm if totally delicious. You can replace the fish sauce with two tablespoon soy sauce and one tablespoon water (I find it is saltier than fish sauce). Continue reading
This salad is very much inspired by a delicious salad I had at 26 Grains of Stoney Street in March, just before the Covid 19 lockdown. It was really delicious, but maybe it has stayed with me because it was almost the last thing I ate out before all the restaurants closed and we were all confined to eating at home until goodness knows when. I hadn’t thought of using dried figs in a salad before but if you have some/can buy some (I got mine in the Asian supermarket in Belfast) then I encourage you to try, they are really very yummy. Continue reading
This dish is somewhere between a soup and a stew, satisfyingly hearty and lush with creamy beans and lots of olive oil. It’s definitely a main course soup rather than a starter soup. It’s also a really great store cupboard/slightly sad vegetables at the bottom of the fridge/the heel end of the bread dinner, hence posting it at the moment when none of us are able to go out and get fresh ingredients quite as much as we usually would. Continue reading