Sunday Morning Breakfasts; Aubergine sabich

aubergine sabich

aubergine sabich

My Sunday mornings are usually the same. I try in vain to get the boyfriend to wake up, then, with a resigned sigh at the resolutely unconscious lump beside me I wander down stairs to pop the kettle on.

Truth be told, I actually love it. I greedily pour over cook books and recipes and spend more time then is strictly necessary making breakfast. I usually choose something with a bit of a kick. You can’t go wrong with chillies and eggs  (except, perhaps a chilli custard..)

This morning’s breakfast came from the Honey and Co cookbook which is packed full of dishes from the Middle East. I’ve changed some things around to suit what I had in the kitchen.

This dish, Aubergine sabich, is delicious and fairly quick to make if you shallow fry the aubergine instead of baking them. The combination of aubergines, eggs, fresh salsa and creamy tahini yogurt may not be your standard Sunday fry but it so god damn tasty that you need to give it a go.

Aubergine Sabich

(Enough for one greedy me, or possibly two normal people)

Ingredients

Half an aubergine

2 eggs

2 slices of bread

2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or crushed)

2 heaped teaspoons of natural yogurt

2 tsp of tahini

juice of half a lemon

1/2 tsp chilli flakes (or 1/2 a fresh chilli finely chopped)

small bunch of coriander or parsley chopped

1 tsp honey

salt and pepper

olive oil

Method

Right so, mix the chilli, half the garlic, honey, half the lemon juice, a tablespoon of olive oil, the chopped herbs and pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut the aubergine into slices about the thickness of your thumb. Put the aubergines in a large frying pan on a medium to low heat and drizzle with olive oil until you think you’ve put too much in but realise you can’t possibly have because there is no such thing as too much olive oil (about 2-3 tablespoons if you really must know). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and fry until they turn soft and golden (make sure to keep flipping them to stop them burning)

While the aubergines are frying, make you tahini yogurt by mixing the tahini, yogurt and remaining garlic and lemon juice in a bowl, season with a small pinch of salt.

Take the aubergines out of the pan and fry your eggs, toast some bread and serve up in whatever way you fancy.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Meatless march, vegetable pad thai and why I fail at being a vegetarian

Vegetable Pad Thai

Vegetable Pad Thai

 

The problem I have is that I know why I should probably be a vegetarian. I work with animals every day and see their cute little faces and know the way the majority of animals are reared in a disgusting and horrible conditions. I know the devastating effect meat production is having on our environment, I know that it takes 10 kilos of grain to raise 1 kilo of beef. But I also know how delicious a tender wobbling slice of pork belly is, I know how great it is when you bite into crisp shell of fried chicken. I know how good that bloody fennel pork sausage is going to be on top on my pizza. I know too god damn much.

A friend of mine rocked up to my house a few weeks ago and declared he had gone vegan for lent (pretty annoying, as we were making pork and chive dumplings for Chinese New Year but no matter). I gave him a loan of my much loved Plenty More, Yotam Ottolenghi’s book on all that is vegetables, and began to think about idea of going vegetarian.

To be honest, a lot of my diet is vegetarian because a) vegetables are great and b) I’m too stingy to buy meat, but I thought, could I give meat up all together? I decided to set myself the challenge: a meatless March. There has been some, quite a few, a whole lot of slip ups (the aforementioned pork and fennel sausage on my Franco Manca pizza and a drunken encounter with some tasty, tasty chicken wings) but all in all it has been good. I don’t think I will ever have the self restraint to be a vegetarian but it has definitely made me think twice about instantly grabbing the bacon.

On that note, here is a recipe for my vegetable pad thai! Add some firm tofu if you want to bulk it out but I promise you won’t miss the meat.

Vegetable Pad Thai

Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 250g flat rice noodles
  • 1 big bag of stir fry veg mix (I use Sainsbury’s Basic which is a quid for SO MUCH VEG and it saves on all that chopping) or whatever crunchy veggies you have kicking about, carrot, cabbage, onion, bean sprouts, peppers, kale etc chopped up very fine
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower or ground nut oil
  • 2 red chillies finely chopped (or 2 pinches of chilli flakes)
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons light soy
  • 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 small tin coconut milk
  • 1 large egg
  • small bunch of coriander finely chopped (garnish)
  • 4 spring onions finely chopped
  • big handful of toasted peanuts roughly chopped (garnish)

Put your noodles in a large mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover with cling film and soak for 10 mins until noodles are nice and springy. Drain and set aside

Put a wok on medium heat and add in your oil

Add in your garlic and chilli, fry until fragrant (1 min). Before the garlic browns add in your vegetables and stir fry for 2-3 mins

Toss in your noodles and add in the lime juice, soy, wine, oyster sauce and toss in

Add the coconut milk and toss in

Make a well in the noodles and mix in your egg. Toss until all the noodles are covered the egg (you want it to kind of look like silky sauce, like a carbonara)

Take off the heat, serve in bowls and top with coriander, spring onions , peanuts, and a wedge of lime!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash

Ugh, gnocchi! It is the ultimate comfort food, a mixture of mash potatoes and pasta that creates little pillows of joy in your gob. What’s not to love?

I was always too daunted to make my own from scratch but as it turns out it very easy and fun (but takes time, a good weekend activity). Once you make them you can cook them with whatever you want: tomato and garlic, pesto, walnut sauce, pork sausage ragu. I had a huge squash that needed using up so I went with an augmented version of Gennaro Contaldo’s recipe from Jamie Olivers Food Tube channel (You can watch it here). Give it a try!

Gnocchi with Roasted Butternut Squash

Gnocchi with butternut squash, sage and parmesan

Gnocchi with butternut squash, sage and parmesan

Serves 4 very generously

1 kilo of large fluffy starchy potatoes

125g 00 flour (if you don’t have this just use plain)

2 eggs

Roasted Squash

Roasted Squash

1/2  tsp salt

1 butternut squash sliced lengthways into quarters, skin on

1 clove of garlic roughly chopped

1 red chilli roughly chopped

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Olive oil

Knob of Butter

Sages leaves

Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.

Put the squash (skin side down) and potatoes in a baking tray. Sprinkle salt, pepper, rosemary, chilli and garlic over the squash and drizzle with about 2 tbsps of olive oil. Roast in the oven uncovered for 40 minutes to an hour,

Put the flour and salt on a clean worktop.

Once potatoes and squash is ready, remove from oven and allow to cool. Grab the potatoes with a tea towel to stop your hands from burning and peel (It’s important to make the gnocchi dough while the potatoes are still warm to make them light and fluffy)

Adding the eggs

Adding the eggs

Mash the potatoes and add on top of the flour(I used a potato ricer, it makes the potatoes that bit more light). Make a well in the middle and crack in two eggs. With your hands mix everything until it just comes together. Make sure not to over work it, again to keep it nice and light.

Make a rough square 1 and a half cm thick. Cut into lengths 1 and a half cm wide. Roll all strips into cylinders (dust with flour to stop it sticking). Line the cylinders up and cut into disks about 1 cm thick

Gnocchi rolled with a fork

Gnocchi rolled with a fork

Once they’re all done, you can roll the along the back of a fork to make indentations. This allows more sauce to stick to gnocchi but isn’t essential. Put all the gnocchi on a lightly floured tray. Boil a large pan of salted water and put a saucepan on a medium heat.

Add a knob of butter  and some sage leaves to the saucepan. Let them crisp up

Scoop out the squash flesh and add it into the pan and stir in some of the boiling water to thin it into a sauce. Reduce to a low heat. Add your gnocchi in batches into the pot of boiling water. Once the gnocchi floats to the top they are done.

Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the  squash sauce. Toss to coat and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Grab a fork and get stuck in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s-Too-Cold-To-Detox Sausage and Lentil Stew

Happy New Year!

Hope you have all recovered from the season of over indulgence. I myself am only now, begrudgingly, starting to accept that pate on crackers with a glass of prosecco is no longer an acceptable breakfast. How sad.

So you, like me,  are no doubt currently crying in a corner, slightly jaundice, clutching onto the spare tire around your middle that just appeared over December and contemplating a detox. RESIST BY ALL COST! After recently reading this article in the Guardian that rips the idea of detox apart I breathed a sigh of relief. Why would we want to spend January, one of the coldest, shittiest months of the year chomping on a cold lettuce leaf? WE WOULDN’T LAURA,  is what you would be shouting right now if loud noises weren’t still an ordeal for you.

However, that is not to say I want to go back to eating Quality Streets and crisps for lunch. I definitely am craving vegetables, something healthy but also tasty, and that is where this recipe comes in. After rocking back to London yesterday with a pack of Irish sausages (far superior to British, there I said it) I scrambled through my meagre food supply and found I had the ingredients to make a slightly altered version of Hugh Fearnley Whitingstall’s Sausage and Lentil Stew

Give it a try and I promise you will feel better.

Sausage and Lentil Stew

Sausage and Lentil Stew

Sausage and Lentil Stew

Enough for 4

Ingredients 

3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 celery sticks, washed and chopped

8 sausages

400g tin of brown lentils, drained

1 tin of boiled potatoes, drained (yep, sounds gross but actually great for stews and curries and it’s a cheap and handy thing to have in the cupboard)

2 bay leaves

Few sprigs of thyme or 1 tsp of dried thyme

1 litre of hot chicken stock (a stock cube is grand)

Method

Put a large heavy based pan on a medium to high heat.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the sausages until brown all over.

Remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce down to a medium heat and chuck in the onions.

Add a pinch of salt, stir once and cover with lid to let the onions sweat for 10-15 mins.

Add the carrots and celery along with the bay leaves and thyme. Stir then cover with lid to sweat for another 10 minutes.

Add lentils and potatoes

Pour in about a litre of chicken stock (a cube will do) bring to the boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for at least an hour (as with all stews the longer you leave it the better it will taste)

Serve in bowls with some crusty bread and butter on the side and forget all about the detox.

15 minute Stir Fried Fish and Green Beans

So Christmas is under two week away! Hurray! I am quite looking forward to getting back to Ireland to;

1, Drink gin with my sisters

2, Do a terrific rendition of “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. In my pyjamas. With my sisters. Drunk on gin.

3, Getting overly competitive over Monopoly and having a long and arduous argument about the rules which will never EVER end in us actually reading the rules because that is dumb.

4, Eating lots

So just like everyone else I’m trying to spend as little as humanly possible, which means trying to make dinner with tatty remains of my fridge/freezer/cupboard.

And this is what I came up with, my early Christmas present to you fellow scrimpers. I didn’t have to go to the shop. It took the same amount of time as the rice to cook (15 minutes in our new fancy rice cooker which is now my favourite thing in the kitchen).

It’s also pretty cheap if you do have to go buy some ingredients. Frozen fillets of fish and bags of green beans are really cheap to buy and you can keep them in the freezer for when the next instant, overwhelming hunger arrives and you can’t be fucked to go to the shop. Possibly because of a gin induced hangover.

You are welcome.

Happy Christmas!

Stir fried Green Beans and Fish (Sorry the photo is shite, I promise it is tasty)

Stir Fried Green Beans and Fish

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 frozen white fillets (I used Sainsbury’s Basic White fish fillets but anything will do.)

4 handfuls of frozen green beans ( you could substitute broccoli florets or oriental greens, use what you have!)

5 fat cloves of garlic, grated

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated (I have just learned that ginger freezes well, just take it out, grate the amount you need and pop the leftover back into the freezer)

bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped

2 tsp dried chilli flakes (or one red fresh chilli chopped)

4 tsp dark soy sauce

2 tsp sesame seed oil

2 tsp rice wine

2 tsp hoisin sauce

1 tsp lemon juice 

Boil enough rice for 4 people

Defrost 4 fillets of white fish in a bowl under some running water.

Throw 4 handfuls of green beans into a microwavable container pour about half a cup of water in, cover withth cling film and microwave for 5-6 mins. when cooked drain and set aside

Put 2 tbsp of oil in a wok on a high heat

Add the garlic, ginger and chilli, cook for a minute until fragrant and add the spring onion.

Add in the green beans, stir fry for 3 minutes and add in all the sauces.

Stir fry for another 3-4 minutes

Drain the fish, pat dry and chop into bite sized pieces.

Add them into the wok with some water if it is looking dry and gently toss with the beans

Cover with a lid and let steam for 2 minutes (the fish will cook very quickly)

Serve with rice.

 

Living on the Cheap: Jack Monroe’s Carrot and Coriander Falafel

Hello internet!! Long time no chat!

So, quick update if you missed me and don’t follow me on Instagram, which has become my main form of communication, followed closely by incoherent mumbles through mouthfuls of food (sexy). I now live in London and am slowly eating ALL OF IT. I have the best job in the world working in the fantastic Vauxhall City Farm and after years of doing gardening stuff I HAVE A REAL LIFE GARDEN OF MY VERY OWN!!

One of the many ridiculously cute animals I work with

 

My first cucumber plant growing in my own garden!!

My first cucumber plant growing in my own garden!!

 

Life right now is fairly fabulous and there has been far too much food being grown/cooked and eaten for me to be only writing now. So I have a recipe for you that I meant to put up ages ago. At the time I made this recipe because I was pure ass broke (pure ass broke? Is that a thing? It is now) but to be honest after quite possibly an overload of chicken, thanks to a mainly carnivorous boyfriend and new bbq, I am slowly going off eating meat. Cue Jack Munroe’s recipe for Carrot and Coriander Falafel.

If you have never heard of Jack Monroe then shame on you. A single mother, she started her blog, writing about the horror, fear and frustration of having to get enough food for her and her son on 10 pounds a week. She is a great political figure, challenging the stigma of single mothers and anyone on social welfare and her recipes are fantastic. Practical, cheap, nutritious and god-damn tasty, I find myself checking her recipes during the week for inspiration. Today, after looking through my meagre store cupboard after a week of not shopping I realised I had just about everything I needed to make her carrot and coriander falafel without even having to go to the shops.

I tweaked her recipe a little, but you can find the original here!

Anyway! I will be posting up more recipes so, I promise.

Chat soon!

 

Carrot and Coriander Falafel:

Carrot and Coriander Falafel Pitta

 

(Makes 4)

Ingredients

1 carrot

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

1 potato

1 tin of mixed beans (Or kidney beans or chick peas or whatever beans you have)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp tumeric

Big bunch of Coriander

Oil for frying

Tablespoon of  flour for dusting

 

Grate the carrot, onion, potato and garlic

Rinse the beans in a colander with cold water

Put the beans in a pot with water and simmer for 3-4 mins until soft

Drain well and mash

Sauté the onions and garlic in a pan on a medium heattil translucent then add the spices and stir until the onion mixture is fully coated

Stir in the carrot and potato and cook until the mixture is tender

Add to the mashed beans and season with salt and pepper and add your chopped coriander

Flour your hands and your work surface

Take a golf ball sized amount of the mixture then flatten it into a burger shape, repeat til the mixture is all used up.

Chill in the fridge for an hour (if you have the time, it will help the mixture from falling apart

Wipe the pan you used to sauté the onion mixture and put back on a medium/high heat, adding a glug of oil

Fry the falafel for 2-3 mins on either side, until crisp and golden

Serve in a toasted pitta with hummus and salad. You can make it in batches and freeze them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Time, Cute Baby Animals and How to Grow Peas

Ah, blogging.

I have come to the conclusion I am no good at it. People who are good bloggers are those people who always remember your birthday and usually send you a cute handmade card, with a well written, well considered message that makes you love them  and also hate them because you know you will never be as considerate and lovely as them. I love having a blog, don’t get me wrong, but trying to consistently write a post daily/weekly/ fortnightly is not my strongest point.

But here I am!! Back after a long hiatus to tell you: IT’S FECKING SPRING!

Spring is great. It makes everyone happy. Summer is grand and all, but Spring is where it is at. Filled with painfully cute small animals with their little cute small animal faces and flowers and sunshine and the ability to finally tear off your jacket that has spent all winter slowly felting itself to your skin. Attempting to have your first “al fresco” can in the park even though your arse is getting soaked on the grass and you most likely end up with a cold the next day. It is also, quite cheese-ily, a time for new beginnings and, holy-moly-me-oh-my, that has happened to me. After a very chaotic two months. I am now moving to Laaaaaandaaaan and get to work on an amazing city farm, getting to play with aforementioned cute small animals with their cute small faces and teach kids and generally get paid to be on a farm. I am very happy.

My new I-want-to-squeeze-your-face-off-you-are-just-too-cute work colleagues

It does mean I have to finish up in Tallaght, where I have spent the last few months working with some crazy, hilariously great people, both big and small, and leave the community garden just as it starts to come into it’s own. I’ve been trying to get as much done as I can before I leave, sowing seeds, teaching kids, making worm bins, shovelling poop, but one crucially important thing I have done is made sure I sowed peas.

I have said in the past, the first thing for a novice gardener to grow is salads and herbs but the second thing to do is grow peas. They are so simple to grow that a bunch of rowdy 3 years old can do it (trust me on that). So if you grow nothing else this summer grow peas. They are easy and quick( well, ish) and believe me, they are too delicious to do anything with besides eat them straight from the pod.

 

How to Grow Your Own Peas

You’ll need:

  • Packet of peas
  • Multi purpose compost
  • Small pots/old milk cartons/ toilet inserts
  • A very large pot or somewhere in your garden you can grow it in, if you have the space
  • Bamboo sticks and string
  • Patience (or just grab the bag of peas from the freezer if you have none)

 

What to do:

  • Grab any small pot or a toilet insert with the bottom flattened, or old milk carton with holes punched in the bottom from drainage, or anything that is kinda pot like.
  • Fill it up to the top with compost (break up any lumps with your fingers first) and level it off
  • Get your pea and push it into the centre with your finger to about double its depth
  • Cover the seed with soil and make some more (it’s better to sow little and often, ie sow maybe 2-3 pots every 2 weeks to have a continual supply of peas
  • Put on a sunny windowsill and water well
  • When the seedlings gets to about 10cm high, move them out to its’ final growing spot, if you’re lucky enough to have a garden then put it in a bed with lots of compost, in a sunny spot with not too much wind. If you are not so lucky then put it in a very large pot filled with compost

    Photo: Planted our first peas in the polytunnel today for an early crop. Will put a blog post up later on how to grow peas at home :) #giy #growyourown

    Peas transplanted into the polytunnel with bamboo supports 

  • Build a support structure with the bamboo and some string, a teepee shape is good, making sure the bamboo is pushed firmly into the ground.
  • Water well and wait for the pods to fully form (if it’s in a pot or their hasn’t been alot of rain then keep it watered daily, if not then you can leave watering it till the flowers emerge)
  • Once the pods are fully formed harvest them (better done in the morning). The more you harvest the more the plant with produce!

And that’s it! It’s really simple and the peas you will get will be the sweetest you have ever tasted.