Archive for June, 2009

yummy falafel

Monday, June 29th, 2009

falafelIt’s the season for light lunches that are healthy and satisfying and can use up all those greens in your garden. I’m selling falafel platters and wraps at the markets these days.  I layer all the ingredients in a wrap which makes a bigger falafel than using pita pockets.  Wrap it or use the wrap as a base for a salad, it tastes great either way. Here’s how: Place a wrap in a fry pan.  Heat on both sides until it begins to brown.  Layer fresh greens, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers and falafel balls on the wrap and drizzle with creamy sesame sauce.

Falafel Balls- gluten free

I used to make falafel balls from scratch but then I found that the mixes are just as good and much easier, with a few additions.  So, buy a box of falafel mix at the Health Shop ( a good source for gluten free balls)  or they are even in some supermarkets.  Tesco has a good one! Follow the instructions on the box,  usually just adding water. Chop 2 tbl. curly parsley and add to mix. In a food processor chop 1/2 cup cooked chick peas (garbanzo beans).  Add to mix. Beat 1 egg and add. Mix all together and add a little more water if needed.  Form into small balls and fry on both sides.

Sesame Sauce – gluten free

This is my recipe from Coming Home To Cook, with a slight change, I’ve eliminated the sour cream and added more yoghurt, it keeps it lower in fat.  At the markets I’m offering  it by the bottle and it’s a best seller!

1 1/2 cups plain no-fat or low fat yoghurt, 1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise, 1/4 cup tahini (sesame butter), 1 tbl. chopped parsley or coriander (cilantro), 2Tbl. chopped garlic, 1 1/2 tsp. tamari, 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Makes 1 pint.

Doolin Market Crafts

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

siobainstephanThe Doolin Saturday Crafts Fair and Farmers Market is home to a diverse group of artists and food vendors from all over the world. Siobain O’Brien comes from England and is now on staff  at the Boghill Centre, Siobain is  a talented potter and at the Centre she digs her clay directly from the bog. She creates beautiful little pots, vases and musical sheep and cows, some even drinking a pint of guinness!  She works on her craft at the market to the delight of  our visitors.

Stephan is from France and is a multi talented musician, basket maker and chef  who came to West Clare 7 years ago. The story goes that while living in India, he decided to take flute classes. While practicing in his flat, the door opened and Robin Sheen (a Burren farmer and beekeeper and someone I’ve mentioned in my blog a few times) burst in and said “hey, man, that’s an Irish tune, you should go to Doolin.”  So, about 6 months later Stephan came to Doolin, walked into O’Connors Pub for their Sunday session, and there was Robin. The next day he found a job and the day after found a flat. He’s been here ever since, playing in sessions, making baskets and cooking in various restaurants. This past saturday he set up in the lobby of the Russell Community Center and worked on creating more beautiful baskets and chairs. stephans-baskets

Gorgeous Gooseberries

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

gooseberries-001It’s probably absurd to some that I would consider gooseberries one of the more “gorgeous” of the berry family. They certainly don’t compare in color and sweetness to blackberries, raspberries, blueberries or our wonderful Wexford strawberries. But, gooseberries have an appeal all of their own and can be made into a variety of jams, chutney and fools.  They are normally acidic and tart but this batch was unusually mild and a little sweet. I bought them while visiting my good friends Emma and Pete and their new baby, 6 month old adorable Rosie in East Clare. We went to the Killaloe Farmers Market on Sunday, in a great venue tucked between the river and the canal. There’s lots of organic Co. Clare veg,  fish, cheese and chocolate, good strong fairtrade coffee, baked goods and loads more. It was a hot and sunny day (dare I say it, we’re having a good summer!) and we happily sipped coffee while watching the new ducklings in the canal. Here’s a recipe I came up with that is a jam/chutney blend as it is both sweet with a taste of sugar, spicey from the cloves and fresh ginger  and chunky with bits of apple.

Gooseberry Spread – gluten and dairy free

Wash and trim 3 lbs. gooseberries. In a heavy bottomed pot put the gooseberries, 4 oz grated fresh ginger root, a few whole cloves, 1 lb. white sugar and the juice of  2 lemons. Stir completely and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer until thick, about 1 hour. Add 4 peeled, diced tart apples and cook until soft. Remove the cloves and let cool before putting into jars. This is lovely served as a garnish with cheese, roasted vegetables or as a spread on toasted sandwiches.

The versatile courgette

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

june-18kilrush-008Courgettes, or Zucchini come in all sizes and I think they are one of the most versatile vegetables. Eat them raw in salads, or as crudite with a spicey dip.  Cut them into rounds and top with a nice soft goat cheese and a sprig of mint. Juice them with carrots, ginger and apple or any variety of fruit and veg. for a healthy snack.  Dice them and add to stews and soups.   I bought this healthy one from Bridget at the Kilrush Farmers Market. It felt more like March with the wind and rain battering the marquee.  But the veg is coming in and Michael had gorgeous carrots, shallots and cabbage. I bought some Irish mushrooms from the Tipperary Mushroom farm and made a wonderful stir fry.   Other options for courgettes are shredded and pureed to use in a variety of baked goods, like breads, muffins, cookies and cakes. Here’s my favorite recipe for zucchini bread, which is actually more like teacake.  To cut down on the fat content I suggest substituting prune or apple butter for vegetable oil. Enjoywith a cup of tea or make into small loaves and give as a seasonal gift to someone special.

Zucchini Nut Bread – gluten an dairy free

Beat 3 eggs, 3/4 cup apple or prune butter (or 1-1/4 cups vegetable oil), 3/4 cup honey and vanilla extract. Fold in 2 cups of grated raw, unpeeled zucchini. Sift together 1 cups plain white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp, baking powder and 1 tsp. salt.  If using gluten free flour use the same portion of a gf bread flour from the health shop. Mix until well blended. Add 1 tsp. ground ginger and 1 tsp. nutmeg. Fold in 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans. Pour batter into 1 large loaf pan or 2 small ones. bake at 180 or 350 for 1 hour 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

lovely gluten & dairy free cake!

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

orange-cakeSometimes gluten free and dairy free pastries and breads are thought of as dry and uninteresting,  just products for those who have a wheat or lactose intolerance. But, using the freshest ingredients, whether it be free range eggs, organic produce, fresh herbs and high quality oils and flours make all the difference. Here’s a recipe for a lovely Orange Cake that is both gf/df , with a few ingredients and so simple to make.  I would not hesitate to serve to the most discriminating palate.

Orange Cake – gluten and dairy free

Slice  2 large oranges into quarters. Place them in a saucepot, cover with water and boil until skins are tender – about 45 minutes. Take out of water and let cool. When cool, remove seeds and puree skins and flesh in a food processor. Beat in 3 eggs and  9 oz. of white sugar.  Add 1tsp. baking powder and 10 oz. of ground almonds. Grease a 10″ springform pan and line with parchment paper.  Bake in a 350 (180) degree oven for 45 minutes.Cool on a rack, remove from pan and glaze.

Glaze

In a food processor put 2 cup icing (powdered) sugar. Add 1/2 Tbl. soy margarine, 1 Tbl. fresh squeezed lemon juice, 2 -3 Tbl. soy milk and blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust  liquids for desired consistency. When cake has cooled glaze. Grate fresh orange, lemon or lime peel over the top.  Decorate with edible flowers, the blue flower in picture is a borage flower.  Sona ag cocaireacht!  Happy Cooking!

Hens and horses

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

henarkOnce a year, the Kilrush Farmers Market shares the town square with the annual Horse Fair. Last week, it was hot and sunny and everyone was in great spirits.  Is this the start of a sunny Irish summer? We hope so!!  Colette from Finnys Cottage in Derrybrick is an artist with chickens. That is, her husband Des (who’s Grandmother was a Sheehan(!) makes Hen Arks and Colette sells them and the chickens. She also sells bird houses, plants, her framed nature photographs and note cards, painted rocks and hand made pendants. Des and Colette also own and run a small boarding kennel.  The Hen Arks are of two varieties – one with a run and one without but with a loft for laying eggs.  They have taken orders for dozens since they came to the market a few months ago.  Colette and the chickens are a great addition to the market.

The streets were packed with  horses, foals, ponies and donkeys. Young travelers were circling the town square, riding their pony traps to show off their  beautiful ponies that were for sale. There’s always something happening in Kilrush – a busy market town. horsefaircolette

Tropical summer fare

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

black-tofuThe sun has continued to shine on Ireland all week.  It’s hot and sunny and everyone is heading for the beach.  The markets are coming into bloom with fresh crisp greens, herbs, veg of all kinds and edible flowers. I was inspired to create a new vegetarian burger (paddys)and fruit salsa using local herbs, spring onions, shallots, carrots and courgettes.  It’s a little different than my tofu patty recipe in Coming Home To Cook but just as good!  This recipe made 15 small paddys, so go ahead and make a full batch, they freeze well.  I bought a loaf of gluten and dairy free flax bread, toasted it and made breadcrumbs so it is a gf/df paddy. If that is not your dietary concern, use wheat breadcrumbs and add a little grated cheese.  Enoy!

Black Bean Tofu Paddy’s – gluten and dairy free

Drain and crumble 2 pound tofu and set aside. Saute in 1 Tbl.olive oil 2 small chopped shallots, 2 cloves garlic, 14 cup chopped red pepper and 1 medium (1 cup)courgette, chopped fine.  To the tofu add the cooled cooked veg., 1 cup of cooked black beans (chopped a few turns in a food processor or break up with your hands) 1 cup bread crumbs, 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup shredded carrot, 2 Tbl. greens of green onions, a sprinkling of chopped parsley, coriander (cilantro), 2 tsp. of ground cumin and salt and pepper to taste.   Pour enough olive oil into a fry pan to cover the bottom, and heat. Form paddys into desired shape. When oil is hot pan fry on both sides until crispy and brown.  If you don’t want to fry these you can lightly oil a baking sheet and bake in a 180 (350) oven, turning over after 20 minutes to cook on both sides.  This will take about 40 minutes.

Fruit Salsa

1 fresh pineapple, diced into small cubes, 6 cherry tomatoes, diced fine, 1/2 english cucumber, seeded and diced fine, 1/4 cup chopped red and green pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves, 2 finely diced green onions, bulb and greens, a sprinkling of cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper and the juice of 1 fresh lime. Mix all together and let sit for the flavors to blend.  Serve over tofu paddy.market-010

Pinch me – I live here!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

kilrush-and-kerry-171You know the feeling you get when you’re on holiday and you think – I would love to live here. I was walking on the rocks on the edge of the sea kilrush-and-kerry-130in Ballyreen, 10 minutes from my flat when it really sunk in – this very special place is right in my neighborhood! I can come here anytime!   May and June are  the best months to visit the Burren to see the gorgeous variety of wildflowers. kilrush-and-kerry-147 Although it has it’s own unique beauty in any season, I love this one when  the colors of  Herb Robert, Bloody crane’s bill, field scabious, marsh marigolds,trefoil, a wide array of orchids and many more cover the limestone rock plateaus and peek up through the crevices. Enjoy my photographs.kilrush-and-kerry-150