Recipe: Beetroot & Feta Salad with pink Pickled Onions

In our opinion there are few better ways to eat beetroot than roasted whole in their skins with a bit of oil and salt. If the beetroots aren’t too old and if you make sure to roast them in a dish with a tight fitting lid the skins should slip off easily. Then chop them into chunks and they are the perfect addition to wintry salads (though to be honest we eat them all year round). If you can’t be bothered to roast your own beets, then pre-cooked beetroot can be used here, though I do think roasted beets have a better flavour.

This salad has a nod to Mexico with toasted pumpkin seeds, pink onions and queso fresco (we’ve used feta here). It’s great alongside spicy bean dishes, slow roasted meats or as a side to a chilli, which was how we served in at our Oktoberfest Supper Club in September.

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Recipe: Chilled Beetroot Soup

Inspired by Polish chlodnik, I made this chilled beetroot soup for one of our Twilight Gardening dinners this summer. It was surprisingly popular, I often think chilled soups can be a bit divisive – but that might be because Jo is always a bit suspicious when I suggest a chilled soup. The colour is so gorgeously pink and the earthy beets are balanced out with the tangy buttermilk and little sweetness from the date syrup. If you don’t have date syrup in the cupboard you can use a little honey instead.

The garnishes are everything here – boiled egg wedges, sliced radish, cubed cucumber and plenty of herbs – a little slick of sour cream or yoghurt dolloped on top before serving wouldn’t go amiss either

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Recipe: Mushroom Larb-style Salad with Toasted Rice, Lime & Chilli

Larb (or laap) is a Laotian dish traditionally made with minced meat (either raw or cooked) mixed with lots of chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, herbs, ground toasted rice and other aromatics. It is often very, very spicy and was one of our favourite dishes to eat with a side of sticky rice when we were travelling in Northern Thailand and Laos. Somehow I find eating really spicy food in tropical climes makes you feel cooler, especially if you have a cold beer to sip alongside.

This is our vegetarian version of the dish, using mushrooms instead of meat and replacing the fish sauce with soy. We developed this recipe for our Return to Asia Supper Club and served it as a side alongside Laotian Festival BBQed Chicken, Hue-Style Aubergine, Spicy Carrot Som Tam-style Salad and Sticky Rice. But it would definitely make a great veggie main course served with rice.

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Recipe: Ricotta, Tomato & Lentil Moussaka

This recipe was a big hit at our Summer Solstice Supper Club in June 2021. It’s a vegetarian adaption of a recipe in the gloriously summery and brilliant cookbook, Taverna by Georgina Haydon.

So many supper club guests requested the recipe over the solstice weekend, we thought we should put it online for everyone to recreate at home. This recipe does take a wee bit of time so we recommend making extra and putting a moussaka or two in the freezer (before the final bake) for future, super-simple delicious dinners.

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Preserving for the Apocalypse: How to Make Chuntey, Ketchup, Sauerkraut & Jam

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!

You can watch the video I made for the talk, where I show you how to make all the recipes, on You Tube here.

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Recipe: How to Make Ketchup

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

Recipe: Toffee Apple Meringue Pie

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