I'm one of those people who adore Brussel Sprouts. Mr Flavour refers to them as The Devil's Vegetable, a non-compliment he bestows upon Cauliflower - also a favourite vegetable of mine. It's a wonder how it is we have managed to be together for 20 years to be honest!
My love of a good bowl of soup is well known by now I should think. I have written a lot about it being the ultimate "bowl food" experience, and because of the myriad flavour combinations, textures and ability to adapt to the changing seasons it is a meal that knows no end to variation.
It's pretty hard to get primal about your precious din-dins when you live a comfortable suburban existence. But grabbing sticky, fiery drumsticks and ripping asunder; licking tacky fingers, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand and going back for more is about as close to being a caveman as you can get.
OK, so it's not technically "squash season" anymore, but thanks to the fact that squash can keep well for a long time once harvested if stored correctly, mean that really they are still good to go now as a seasonal veg.
Welcome back to the world's shortest series on posh sarnies!
I’m one of those people who adore Brussel Sprouts. Mr Flavour refers to them as The Devil’s Vegetable, a non-compliment he bestows upon Cauliflower – also a favourite vegetable of mine. It’s a wonder how it is we have managed to be together for 20 years to be honest!
Frankly, it’s all in the cooking of them, and this recipe which will hopefully inspire you to gather up the last of this season’s wonder veg, is inspired by my food hero, Nigel Slater who penned a recipe for Brussels and Stilton Soup. My version could also be eaten with a spoon, from a bowl, wrapped in your Jim Jams against the last of the winter storms in front of a roaring fire with a decent box set for company. All’s fair in love and Brussel Sprouts…
Because this recipe requires the sprouts to be thinly sliced, there is no need for steaming or boiling to death. Instead this is like a gentle braise, enhancing their flavour while retaining form and texture.
Ingredients: (serves 2 people generously)
1tbsp Olive oil
Some Brussel Sprouts (however many you’d like, I’m not here to judge you), peeled and thinly sliced;
Roast Chicken pieces (don’t be roasting a chicken especially for this dish, but it is great for using up any left over chicken);
1 medium white onion, finely diced;
Generous splash of a decent white wine – whatever you have to hand, but not a sweet wine;
Creamy blue cheese – I used Macroom Buffalo Blue here because it is a stunning cheese to use wherever possible;
Handful of chopped parsley;
Knob of butter, sea salt and black pepper
Preheat a deep saute pan, add the oil and the onion over a low heat until the onions turn translucent but not coloured.
Add in the sliced Brussel Sprouts, and stir about to cover.
Lash over the wine, 150ml should do it – a small glass.
Cover and allow to cook gently for about 5 minutes.
Uncover, allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then add in the roast chicken. Stir to combine.
Add in the blue cheese, reserving some. Mix it through with the reduced liquid to create a creamy sauce that lightly coats.
Add in the fresh chopped parsley and season to taste.
Sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.
Pile up onto a plate, and finish with a few little nubs of blue cheese.
Serve with thick, crusty bread, and a glass of that lovely white wine!
My love of a good bowl of soup is well known by now I should think. I have written a lot about it being the ultimate “bowl food” experience, and because of the myriad flavour combinations, textures and ability to adapt to the changing seasons it is a meal that knows no end to variation.
I came up with this recipe for Celery & Blue Cheese soup during a spell of weather in early May that was all blue sky and sunshine. So, loosely I am calling this a summer soup as for me it was inspired by the prospect of BBQ’s and dipping hot smoky chicken wings into a cooling blue cheese dip with sticks of crunchy, crisp celery on the side. So yes, I feel I am at liberty to call this a summer soup, although of course it would be just as comforting eaten beside a roaring fire, post walk on a rainy November day so, you know, whatever floats your boat!
It’s pretty hard to get primal about your precious din-dins when you live a comfortable suburban existence. But grabbing sticky, fiery drumsticks and ripping asunder; licking tacky fingers, wiping your mouth with the back of your hand and going back for more is about as close to being a caveman as you can get.
But then those cavemen didn’t have sweet chilli jam and Cashel blue cheese; napkins and hand wash…so on the whole I’ll plug for being a Suburban Caveman person just so I can eat these beauties in the comfortable surroundings of my home.
Roaring open fire is optional. Heavenly enjoyment is compulsory.
OK, so it’s not technically “squash season” anymore, but thanks to the fact that squash can keep well for a long time once harvested if stored correctly, mean that really they are still good to go now as a seasonal veg.
Of course, butternut squash are available all year round now too and thankfully this recipe works well with any kind of squash. Blue cheese, sage and squash is a classic flavour combination, and serving this up with Orzo pasta (fast becoming my favourite pasta because of its versatility) means that this can either be viewed as a comfort food dish or a light summery dish depending on how your mood takes you!
Make this dish extra seasonal by adding a simple in-season green leaf salad with raw Russian Kale (if yours is still growing as vigorously as mine is at the moment) or if you want something with an extra bit of pep, early season rocket or oriental mustard leaves are all in season right now.
Welcome back to the world’s shortest series on posh sarnies!
If Part 1 was an assemblage requiring very little effort, then Part 2 sits firmly at the other end of the spectrum. This heavenly mouthful takes all the classic components of the Waldorf Salad and turns it into a lovely open sandwich which would not look out of place in the sandwich selection of a sophisticated Afternoon Tea as it tastes lovely but also looks really pretty too! Yes it requires effort but you will be rewarded with a lovely homemade loaf of walnut bread and a white grape jelly that will last you several sandwiches and beyond. Where possible, I have used great local / Irish produce as the stars of the show – Ummera Smoked Chicken and Cashel Blue Cheese. Persevere with this one and I guarantee you will enjoy the rewards of your efforts!
Step 1: Making the White Grape Jelly Ideally cook the grapes the night before and leave the juices to drain overnight. Alternatively you can speed this along by straining through the muslin by hand.
Ingredients: 1kg of white seedless grapes 450g jam sugar (rather than normal sugar as you need the added pectin for this to set) Juice of 1 lemon Method: Put the grapes into a pan, cover and leave to cook for 5 minutes or so until the juices start to run, being careful that the grapes do not take on any colour. Use a potato masher to crush the grapes. Cook for about 10 mins more crushing the grapes every now and again to extract as much juice as possible. Take a clean tea towel or a piece of musin and place inside a fine sieve and hang the sieve over a bowl. Pour the grape and juice mixture into the cotton lined sieve and leave to drain overnight. You may need to work the grapes around to encourage the juice to seep through. After draining, you should have apx 600ml of clear grape juice. Place the juice into a pan and add the sugar and the lemon juice. The lemon juice will help to clarify the liquid. Skim off any scum that rises as the juice begins to boil. Boil the grape juice until it reaches a temperature of 105 degs celsius – this will be the jellys setting temperature. Pour the hot jelly into sterlised jars and set aside to cool slightly before placing in the fridge for final cooling and setting. You’ll find that the jelly will be “just set” as opposed to the kind of robust set sweet jelly you would buy in the shops.
Step 2: Making the Walnut Bread This recipe comes from Rick Stein’s Padstow restaurant where they have their own onsite bakery. Apart from waiting for the yeast to ferment and the proving process which only takes time, this bread is actually super easy to make and tastes great.
Ingredients (makes 1 large or 2 small loaves depending on the size of loaf tin you have to hand): 1 tblsp of dried yeast / 1 x 7g packet of easy yeast. 1 tblsp of dark brown muscovado sugar 450ml of luke warm water 600g of wholemeal flour 2 tsp of free running table salt 20g butter, melted 40g of walnut pieces, chopped coarsly 2 tsp of sesame seeds Method: Take 150ml of the luke warm water and 1tsp of the brown sugar and whisk into it the packet of yeast. Leave in a warm place until there is apx 2cm of froth on top of the water (apx 15 mins). Put the flour, remaining sugar and salt in a large bowl. Pour in the yeast ferment only (not the water), the remaining 300ml of clean luke warm water and the melted butter and mix together to form a soft, sloppy dough. Knead the dough manually for 3 miniutes stretching the dough lightly. Add the walnuts to the bread after the kneading has finished. If making two loaves, at this point cut in half and place each half in a buttered loaf tin; or pop the lot into one tin if it’s big enough. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to prove and rise to the top of the tin. Pre heat the oven to 230 degs celsius. Sprinkle the loaves with the sesame seeds and place in the oven to bake for 25 – 30 mins. Take out of the oven, turn out of the tin and place the loaf back in the oven for 5 more minutes to crisp up on the outside. Turn out on a wire rack to cool. Step 3: Assembling “The Waldorf” Ingredients: Slices of homemade Walnut Bread Little Gem Lettuce Ummera Smoked Chicken crown (http://www.ummera.com) 1 sweet Irish apple Cashel Blue Cheese or a local blue cheese that has a good whack of blue – go bold not mild in your selection! Homemade White Grape Jelly Method: Cut the bread 1/2″ thick. Spread with a little butter. Place a few leaves of little gem lettuce on the bread. Cut some slices of Ummera Smoked Chicken and lay across the lettuce. Cut the apple into quarters and thinly slice one of the quarters. Lay the apple on top of the chicken. Crumble a few small pieces of the blue cheese on top of the apple. Finally, dot some of the white grape jelly across the whole thing, and finish off with a couple of twists of black pepper. And there it is. A lot of effort for a little thing, but worth it for sure!