Kale & Pumpkin Orecchiette

I made this recipe back in September just as the autumn was starting to make an appearance in earnest. And, despite it taking me a solid three months to get it up on the blog, thankfully all the flavours are still as relevant as we head into the end of one year and the beginning of a new one!

A couple of years ago, I started experimenting with Meadowsweet - a wild plant festooned with flowers that have a honey-like aroma that blooms in late summer and into early autumn.

"I'm not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I'm being honest."

Mr Flavour and I have been in each other's pockets for 17 years. He's repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.

I'm putting it out there...

As much as I love and adore Elderflower, I think it's time it took a break and laid the way clear for Meadowsweet instead! (stand back and awaits collective intake of breath...)

I fear I can barely contain my excitement about the fact that it is finally full-blown squash season once more!  Yes, yes I know…it's all a bit "drama, drama" but genuinely, if autumn is my favourite food season, then the Squash is sitting pretty, right at the top of my pile of food loves, wearing a crown and winking!

Kale & Pumpkin Orecchiette

I made this recipe back in September just as the autumn was starting to make an appearance in earnest. And, despite it taking me a solid three months to get it up on the blog, thankfully all the flavours are still as relevant as we head into the end of one year and the beginning of a new one!

With some dishes I come up with, I wonder where a dish transforms from being a mere assemblage of ingredients into an actual recipe, and this is very much one of those dishes. So whichever it may technical set upon, the ingredients and method, such that it is, is noted below. But aside from all of that, this is the kind of dish that is pure comfort and joy. Don’t stimp on loading the roasting tray for the squash/pumpkin with endless cloves of garlic so that the kitchen is filled with that: the best aroma of all!

Kale & Pumpkin Orecchiette

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • Enough Oriecchiette pasta for two people
  • 1/2 Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed into 1inch pieces
  • Lots of garlic – at least 5 cloves, in their skin and smashed
  • 20g of blue cheese (Shepherds Store works well)
  • 1 pack of Gubbeen streaky bacon, sliced into thin lardons
  • 2 generous handfuls of seasonal kale, destem and tear the leaves.
  • Handful of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil, sea salt and pepper

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, prepare the squash and arrange it on a baking tray. Toss in the smashed cloves of garlic, drizzle over a small amount of olive oil. Toss through and roast until the squash is tender. Turn once during cooking.
  • Bring a pan of well salted water to the boil, add in the pasta, a drizzle of olive oil and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Fry off the bacon until all the fat has rendered out and the bacon has gone crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
  • Keep the bacon fat, and once the squash is cooked through heat up the bacon fat again and quickly cook the kale leaves until they have softened.
  • Into a large sharing bowl, add the drained pasta, squash, pumpkin seeds and the crumbled blue cheese, season with sea salt and black pepper and toss together.
  • Scatter about the kale, then crumble the bacon over. Finally, using a veg peeler, peel off some Parmesan cheese over the whole dish and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Glazed Autumn Berry Pudding & Meadowsweet Cream

A couple of years ago, I started experimenting with Meadowsweet – a wild plant festooned with flowers that have a honey-like aroma that blooms in late summer and into early autumn.

My first foray was to make Meadowsweet Cordial with it, and since then it has supplanted Elderflower Cordial, superior as it is in pretty much every way!

Since then, at this time of year I seek to find ways that I can add it into other things, and I’ve always been a believer that what grows together goes together, so no surprises then that I frequently pair Meadowsweet with its seasonal berry cousin, the Blackberry.

This recipe is basically a Summer Pudding but just with a few little twists to elevate it, and really make it work for the seasonal fruits of the year.

Glazed Autumn Berry Pudding,
Meadowsweet Cream

In my recipe, I used four fruits together: fresh blackcurrants and redcurrant, and the final remnants from the freezer of last years’ autumn blackberry harvest, and the early summer Wild Bilberry harvest. Frankly, you can use any fruit for this, although I would suggest staying away from strawberries (fresh or frozen), and maybe just get out there, pick some free, wild blackberries and then see what you can find from you local farmers’ market and go from there!

Glazed Autumn Berry Pudding, Meadowsweet Cream

The addition of a glaze to the pudding make the whole things shine like a jewel, and adding Meadowsweet Cordial to the just whipped cream makes the whole thing sing of early Autumn. A splash of Kinsale Mead, an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey, cherries and blackcurrants, is another nice way to bring a local flavour to the whole dish. And anyway, what is pudding if there isn’t some booze in it somewhere!

A note on the bread used here: I would normally never advocate using white slice bread in anything, but the fact is that it does make a very good structure for this pudding, so I allow it! A half sliced pan is enough for this recipe, and if you can, leave the bread out for a few hours before using so it has dried out a little.

Ingredients:

  • Half pan sliced white loaf
  • No less than 1kg of fruits, fresh or frozen (I used blackcurrants, redcurrants, wild blackberries and bilberries)
  • 175g either golden caster sugar or coconut blossom sugar
  • Generous glug of Kinsale Mead Wild Red Mead
  • 150ml of whipped cream
  • 1tsp Meadowsweet Cordial
  • 1 chocolate covered honeycomb bar, smashed
  • Meadowsweet Flower to garnish

Method:

  • Into a large, heavy bottom pan, place your berries and sugar and bring just to a simmer for enough time for the fruits to break down a little and release their juices.
  • Place a sieve over a bowl and empty out the fruits, collecting the juices underneath. Allow to drain while you prepare your pudding bowl.
  • Butter a 1 litre pudding bowl generously. Set aside.
  • Remove the crusts from each slice of bread. Flatten each slice slightly with a rolling pin.
  • Take one slice, place the base of the pudding bowl on it and cut around the circle using a knife. Cut two slices into triangles, cut the rest into rectangles.
  • Take the collected juice and dip each slice of bread so that it has taken on colour and flavour but can still hold itself.
  • Assemble as follows: start with the circle and place that in the bottom of the bowl. Then the rectangles – overlap them slightly to create a seal. This will also create a pleasing look, kind of like a Bundt cake tin. Then add in the fruits and pack them in tightly. Finally, dip the triangles of bread and place over the opening to seal the whole thing up.
  • Cover the top with either the bowl lid, or a piece of foil, and place in the fridge to set for a minimum of 8 hours, but longer is better.
  • Decant the fruit juices into a airtight container and set aside (don’t put in the fridge).
  • When ready to release the pudding from the bowl, bring the pudding out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 mins.
  • Take off any covering and place a plate over the top. Hold firm and then quickly invert. The pudding should drop out easily. If you have used a plastic pudding bowl, give it a gentle squeeze all around until you hear the pleasing thunk of the pudding hitting the plate.
  • Add the the fruit juices back into a saucepan and add in the Mead. Reduce slowly over a low heat until the mixture is thick and syrupy enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Generously glaze the pudding all over with a thick layer of the syrupy fruit juice. It should set almost instantly.
  • While the glaze is setting, whip the cream. Just before it is fully whipped, add in the Meadowsweet Cordia, and then whip again for a few more seconds until it is fully combined.
  • To serve, garnish the pudding with a sprig of fresh Meadowsweet, and around the base of the pudding scatter the broken pieces of chocolate honeycomb. Serve with a generous dollop of the Meadowsweet Whipped Cream.
  • Best served with a glass of something crisp, cool and fizzy!

Enjoy….

No-Bake Cheesecake with Bilberry Compote

“I’m not really a fan of baked cheesecakes, if I’m being honest.”

Mr Flavour and I have been in each other’s pockets for 17 years. He’s repeated this refrain at least once a year, and yet I have never made anything other than baked cheesecakes.

He eats them because he loves me, but really all he wants is a light, fluffy cheesecake with a crispy base.

A couple of months ago I decided maybe I should have a go at making him this much-lusted for cheesecake. I secretly hoped he would hate it so I could go back to the baked variety once more, but unfortunately it’s flipping delicious.

Continue reading “No-Bake Cheesecake with Bilberry Compote”

Meadowsweet Gin Fizz

I’m putting it out there…

As much as I love and adore Elderflower, I think it’s time it took a break and laid the way clear for Meadowsweet instead! (stand back and awaits collective intake of breath…)

I walk the laneways and boreens around the village where Flavour.ie is headquartered through all kinds of weather and all the seasons, year after year. I am always on high alert – noticing things, the slight annual variations on how, and what, is doing well or not so well. 2016 was probably the year of Elderflower. I had never seen so much of it flowering everywhere and with such huge flower heads; hedgerows and ditches pungent with their heady scent. Suddenly, everyone was making elderflower cordial and tonic water, continuing its steady rise to famedom, was beginning to be infused with it.

I’m not the kind of person who buys into fads and fashions. As soon as anything starts to look like a fad, I instantly get in a huff and march off in pursuit of something new. This is what happened with the Year of the Elderflower, 2016 AD. By 2017, everyone was on the bandwagon at which point I alighted to find my new thing.

At about the same time that Elderflowers were making their comeback, I had noticed a weedier version of it growing in the hedgerows. The stronger and more prevalent the flower became, the more intense its aroma as I walked by it – like the sweetest honey. My instinct told me that this plant that I had walked past and ignored for the last few years in pursuit of Elderflower was Meadowsweet. Cross referencing my books on wild food and hedgewitchery told me my instinct was correct. It also told me that Meadowsweet got its name from the old English name “Meade Sweet” because it was used to sweeten Meade (n.b the next craft spirit to come our way – trust me!)

My friend and allay in all things wild, April Danann, informed me that this honey-sweet smelling, weedy looking plant is up there as one of the most medicinal plants because you can use every part of it: the flower, the leaves, the stem and the root. If Elderflower is the X-Factor winner, Meadowsweet is the more talented, struggling artist. And I do love an underdog.

This year, I haven’t done this miraculous plant justice, as the only thing I could think to make with it was a cordial. I make cordial once a year, and it is usually Elderflower, but in a fit of fevered rebellion (well, maybe not fevered) I decided to ditch it in favour of my new fascination with Meadowsweet. “Surely,” I thought to myself “I just make this in the exact same way?” And I did.

I use the Elderflower cordial recipe from Darina Allen’s beautiful book “Forgotten Skills of Cooking” (a masterpiece of a book). The only thing I changed was that I added 14 Meadowsweet flower heads to the 10 Elderflower heads in the recipe, purely going by the fact that the flower heads are smaller and more delicate so in order to get a sufficient flavour from them I would need more.

Once the cordial is made of course there are endless uses for it: flavouring ice creams, desserts – panna cotta in particular (my favourite dessert!), and, of course, cocktails!

I decided to pair my Meadowsweet cordial with Dingle Gin, Blueberries and Mint for a surprisingly refreshing yet luxuriously delicious simple cocktail.

If you are quick, the last few Meadowsweet flowers are still in bloom. Harvest them, and see what inspires you. Else crack open the gin – either is good!

Ingredients (for 1 cocktail, served in a Champagne flute):

  • 10ml of homemade Meadowsweet cordial
  • 35ml measure of Dingle Gin
  • Blueberries / Wild Bilberries / Hedgerow Blackberries (any of these is good!)
  • Mint sprigs
  • Top up with any of the following: Fizzy water / Plain tonic water / Prosecco (any fizzy as long as it isn’t too dry, so I’d stay away from Champagne, it’s all about the Meadowsweet so don’t mask it with a dry fizz).

Method:

  • Pour in the Meadowsweet cordial, top with the measure of gin.
  • Add in your berries.
  • Fill to the top with your chosen fizz.
  • Garnish with fresh mint sprig.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Squash and Chestnut Soup

I fear I can barely contain my excitement about the fact that it is finally full-blown squash season once more!  Yes, yes I know…it’s all a bit “drama, drama” but genuinely, if autumn is my favourite food season, then the Squash is sitting pretty, right at the top of my pile of food loves, wearing a crown and winking!

Cucurbits is the family name given to all squash and pumpkins that also include courgettes and the things that get turned in loofah’s (are they called “loofah’s” before they become so?  Is “loofah’s” the correct plural for “loofah”? Who knows?  Answers on a postcard please!)  I think that it must also include cucumbers and maybe possibly aubergines too.  Sometimes life is too short for such research, and mainly in this instance because I want you to proceed immediately to your kitchen and make this soup.  You can thank me later in the comments below!

Can I just say at the outset that, although I am all about the flavour, this soup can have the capacity to look unattractive so a little time spent on presentation at the end will work wonders as the photo of the finished product will attest to.  I also want to note to you, dear reader, that in this instance I used a magnificent Crown Prince squash which has attributed greatly to the slightly bogie-green hue to the soup.  However, any squash or pumpkin will suffice for this soup so the final colour could range from bogie-green to sunshine yellow depending on the squash chosen, grown or available.

A final note on soup.  I love soup.  I am considering writing a whole piece on the art of making good soup.  There are fewer things in this world that can satisfy you like a delicious bowl of soup can.  It’s a gift of a thing.  You’ll notice that in amongst the blog are quite a few soup recipes.  Please don’t dismiss them…soup is a wonderful thing and endlessly versatile, fulfilling and nutritious – not to mention thrifty!

Continue reading “Squash and Chestnut Soup”

web design and development by the designer of things