After recently getting a very high cholesterol blood result (of the bad type), I decided to relook at my lifestyle.
Oats are great to help reduce cholesterol, however, I'm not at my best in the morning, I don't like the smell of porridge cooking!!! What was I to do?
Overnight oats - why not give it a try? Well, I am well and truly hooked. It is also ideal for the amazing sunny days we are having/.
One pot sausage casserole
I do love a one pot meal or one tray version. Everything together and cooking in the background.
My formulas have become very simple over the years. Chop, toss, flavour, cover in stock and into the oven. Just change the ingredients as you have them.
This one is a good Gluten Free version that works well for all.
LIVER & ONIONS
It is welcome to see lambs’ liver for sale at The Urban Co-op every week now and a good value meal it is in more ways than one. We have endless conversations here about the value of this food as a nutrient dense masterpiece of nature and we discuss the many ways of hiding it in foods to make it more acceptable and palatable. The issue though is accepting it as is. Aren’t we all about that these days! Being true to ourselves then, so I am consciously trying to make it a thing in our house lately. A weekly staple if you like. So, if you come to visit on Tuesdays, it’s the following on the menu…
First off I place the liver into a bowl of raw milk for a few hours. This is a traditional method to help change the texture and quite frankly it works! Drain off the milk which usually feeds our very happy cat. Toss the liver in a flour mixture of ( GF) arrowroot, salt, pepper and paprika. Flour of course works well too.
Fry chopped onion in copious amounts of butter until browned. Add chopped garlic for a minute or two. Toss mixture into oven proof dish. Add more butter to the pan and fry the liver for a few minutes just to crisp the edges and add to the dish. Add bay leaf. Cover with beef stock and then pop into the oven for about 20 -30 mins at 180°C
Sometimes I add Caroline Rigneys streaky rashers to this pot to add another layer of flavour.
Serve with creamiest mashed potato.
When shopping – particularly if I’m hungry, savouring the idea of preparing delicious dishes, I often buy too much fresh produce. Then I find myself stuck with an excess of wonderful ingredients and a lack of desire to cook. I have many reasons to cook or create a recipe; hunger, obviously, is the principle one, or simply “emptiness”, as my father would claim; the second is the glorious sight and smell of fresh vegetables, fruit and cheese; other reasons include the temptation of a good recipe (or food photograph), or the memory of a dish or a flavour, and the desire to recreate it: but the one that most frequently motivates me to action is the determination to use up food stuff before it goes off, (oh, the the horror of wasting food which costs so much labour to produce!).
This January has been particularly challenging in our house as I’ve been off food since Christmas due to a long-lasting dose of the flu. So all the wonderful food I had bought in the week before Christmas was sitting ignored. The sight of bananas turning browner in a bowl finally drove me to rouse myself and make banana muffins – I just could not throw them out. As an added bonus I was able to use stale natural yogurt – (sour smelling but no mould).
This is an easy recipe and these muffins are a great snack, delicious for breakfast or for putting in lunch boxes and have the added bonus of being quite light on sugar. They also keep well for 3 or 4 days and, if anything, taste better a day or two after baking.
POACHED PLUMS IN ORANGE & CINNAMON SYRUP
If you are stuck for dessert or pudding ideas this winter and want to prepare something quick and easy that is memorably delicious – this is sure fire dish. The rich red of the soft plums sitting in a rose-coloured fragrant liquid will delight you and your guests. All you need is a lovely serving bowl - preferably in glass, plenty of whipped cream, cream fraiche or Greek yogurt (or a mix of all three!), toasted flaked almonds and voila!
These plums can be served warm or cold – and if you decide to serve them cold I suggest you carefully spoon the cream mixture on top and scatter the toasted flaked almonds all over and leave to settle for an hour in a cool place.
Serve as suggested above and keep any left-over juice to add to porridge, granola or yogurt in the morning.
If you like you could use red wine in your poaching liquid and replace the cinnamon with 2-3 pieces of star anise (but remember to remove it as soon as the fruit is cooked).
This dish is great to eat in the run up to Christmas as it’s quick, easy, tasty and contains little heavy protein (after all, Advent, like Lent is associated with dietary restraint). But, it is also delightful contrast after Christmas when you are jaded from eating heavy meals and need to divert your palate after feasting on the intense flavours, spices and winter herbs of the festive season.
I’ve had a heavy cold in the last few weeks and have approached cooking with deep reluctance. Low on a lot of kitchen staples, I’ve been driven to invention, combining ingredients to make something to please my peaky palate and soothe my senses! With a yen to eat something light, flavourful and quick to prepare I searched in the fridge and found a carton of cream, a fennel bulb, some courgettes, and then spotted a bowl of lemons on the table. (As I wrote in my April recipe -Mushrooms, wild garlic and cream on toast - cream is a most useful ingredient to have in your fridge as it makes a great base for a quick pasta sauce). When I discovered I was out of parmesan cheese, I added an egg and a generous sprinkle of smoked Achill Sea salt to finish the dish.
Serves 3-4 as lunch or a light supper– depending on levels of hunger of course!
Additions or variations
Apple and Fennel Salad with Caramelised Walnuts / Fried Cabbage, Apple and Cumin
Of course, there is nothing more delicious than an Irish apple in autumn, but those from my tree will not last much beyond Christmas. I imagine I am not the only person in this predicament, and so I offer you two recipes using apples that I have prepared as side dishes in the last few weeks: one is a salad, the other a warm vegetable dish.
Apple and Fennel Salad with Caramelised Walnuts
This is a simple refreshing salad, great with sausages and pork, with cold meats or in place of a coleslaw. This salad has the advantage of keeping fresh for up to 48 hours in the fridge, and just needs to be brought to room temperature before serving. But make sure to use firm young fennel bulbs if you can get them, and a mix of red and green apples.
This takes only 5 to 7 minutes to prepare but you must always remain attentive as the sugar can burn very quickly and ruin the nuts.
Heat a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat and add 40gms of caster sugar, 25gms of butter and watch as the sugar and butter melt. When this begins adding the walnuts and swish the nuts around to mix well with the caramel. Continue to watch the nuts ensuring that all the nuts get covered in caramel and have access to the base of the pan to toast. The smell is delicious as the nuts warm up and the sweetness of the caramel catches your nostrils. But beware, don’t let it burn! As soon as you think it is barely cooked turn off the heat and pour the pan’s contents onto some grease proof paper and spread it out. Within about 5 minutes the nuts will have cooled and hardened. Now, you can put them onto a chopping board and break up or chop as you like. Resist the temptation to eat them all at once!
Fried Cabbage, Apple and Cumin
This is a quick and easy dish and a good way of preparing cabbage differently. It works particularly well with pork chops, bacon or as an accompaniment to a dish of dahl.
Heat the oil in a large, wide-bottomed pan on a medium heat and once hot, add the cumin seeds. Then add the sliced onion and, if using the red pepper – cook briskly for about 4 minutes, then add cabbage and apples and raise the heat a little. Keep stirring the pan now making sure that the cabbage is getting access to the heat of the pan. This cooks quickly and you’ll see the cabbage beginning to wilt and apples starting to colour and soften after about 5 – 7 minutes. Now add the cider vinegar to the pan to listen and smell as it bubbles up and the steam cooks the cabbage. Allow the cider vinegar to cook off almost completely, taste, season and serve.
ingredients, including celery. When researching this dish, I was surprised to learn that celery is an ancient Mediterranean herb and vegetable; originally using just the leaves or seeds for flavour – and more recently using the whole plant. In fact, in northern Italy, you’ll notice people buying a stalk or two of celery for flavouring and rarely see it used as a vegetable in a dish.
The flavour of Caponata is derived from the addition of olives and capers and a little vinegar and sugar at the end of the cooking period – this gives it its distinctive ‘agrodolce’ taste i.e., sour, and sweet. You may not have associated Italian food with sweet and sour dishes, but this is a typical and very old tradition in Sicily where fruit, vegetables, olives, and capers were preserved in brine, oil, vinegar and/or dried to last the winter.
Note: I have given precise quantities for the recipe – but you can use these as a guideline and add or subtract amounts according to availability and taste
Note: you’ll need 2 large deep pans or pots for this – that way you make it more quickly!
Recipes from Katie Verling & Jacques