Posts Tagged ‘gluten free’

the fresh flavors of spring

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

saladFinally it’s here. The hedgerow is blooming at last. Nettles, wild garlic, hawthorne, primrose and violets ready to eat!  I have the pleasure of giving a Hedgerow Cooking Class at Boghill for a journalist from the UK, who is doing an article on the Burren Food Trail and Boghill’s own Culinary week May 13-16. It was a challenge, given the late arrival of Spring  this year in Ireland. But, we managed to pick enough wild edibles and fresh young greens and herbs from the gardens for a great learning experience and a delicious meal. I wanted to include a variety of recipes that are not only made from the food around Boghill but that are an example of the menus we create for clients with diverse diets such as gluten and dairy free and vegan. So, the menu included a salad made entirely from garden veg, herbs and wild flowers. Green Goddess dressing was blessed with mint, fennel, chives and parsley. The Nettle soup was light and delicious, including lovage, wild garlic and spring leeks.  Penne  pasta was dressed with a tangy wild garlic pesto. A spicey corn bread recipe from Coming Home to Cook used chives, parsley and Boghill’s chicken eggs. A blancmange was light and sweet garnished with primrose and violets. Crispy vegan ginger snaps and a fresh herb tea of lemon balm and mint rounded out this exceptional lunch. So, get walking on the paths and lanes and start foraging to make your own!

NETTLE SOUP – serves 6

Pick 1 litre of young nettles, preferably tops. Be careful, the leaves sting so pick from the stem. Wash and separate leaves from stem. In a soup pot, drizzle a few tablespoons of Irish rapeseed oil/ Add to it 4 washed and chopped leeks, 1 1/2 cups lovage, 1/4 cup wild garlic leaves.  Let cook until greens are wilted. Add 3 cups chopped white potatoes. Cook for a few minutes then add 1 litre of fresh vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer, cook until potatoes are tender. Add nettles and cook for 5 minutes. Puree soup. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

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Between the seasons

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

sliced-loafSpring has not come to Ireland yet.  The fields are still brown, not at all like the Emerald Isle!  But, we had a good drenching of rain in the past 24 hours and already everything is looking fresher.

It feels like we are in between seasons. It’s  still cold and looks grey but the daffodils, primroses and spring gentians are up and gradually, a few things in the garden are sprouting. So, to alleviate the “winter is too long blues” I decided to invite some friends for dinner.

I don’t know if there’s anywhere else I’ll ever live where  guests come  bearing their own cheese made from their own goats and  fresh lambs lettuce salad from their early spring (or is late winter?) garden.  And, hiking up from the edge of the Atlantic on the Cliff path, more guests arrive with backpacks full of French wine and chocolates. Add to that, French baguettes and pastries from Fabiolas Patisserie,  a warm fire, a stunning sunset and the night is indeed, a success!

For another memorable dinner party last winter in NJ, a friend made a Lentil Loaf from an English Vegetarian Cookbook . I thought it was perfect for this occassion but I tweeked it, leaving out the cheese and changing the spices according to what has wintered over in my little herb garden. Pair it with roasted potatoes, ginger honey carrots and soy gravy from my cookbook and you have a hearty, impressive meal. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Loaf

serves 6, cook at 350 or gasmark 4 for 1 1/2 hours.

12 oz. cooked red lentils, 1 1/2 cups hard cider, 1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 1 large stalk celery, 2 cloves garlic, 4 large button mushrooms,1 1/2 tsp. thyme and rosemary, 4 oz. hazelnuts, 1 Tbl. chopped parsley, 2 eggs, sea salt and pepper.

Cook lentils in cider until all liquid is absorbed. Finely chop onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Saute all in olive oil until cooked. Beat eggs. Roast hazelnuts in oven until brown, about 10 minutes. Grind in a food processor. Mix all ingredients together, it will be mushy.  Spoon into an oiled bread pan (tin) or line with parchment paper. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until brown and skewer comes out clean. Let sit for about 15 minutes to set. Remove from pan and slice.

Happy Spring from Ireland!

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Local, Fresh, Foraged and Homegrown!

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

072056055205210531The  Burren Ecotourism Food Fayre was a great success! Part of the Burren Winterage Festival last weekend in North Clare, the Food Fayre was an intimate gathering of local food enthusiasts promoting all that is unique and special about producing something very special in the Burren.  Local businesses such as Fabiola’s Pattisserie, The Burren Smokehouse, St. Tola’s Cheese, Burren Free Range Pork, and  Burren Food and Wine gave tastings. Local vendors who sell at the area’s numerous Farmers Markets, like Adva The Bread Lady with her sourdoughs and fabulous truffles,  Cate Conway with her gluten free baking and Roshan Groves with her unique products  sold their wares and some entered the masterchef competition. I was honored to be one of the judges, along with Sila Nic Chonaonaigh of TG4’s Garrai Glas and Sally McKenna of Bridgestone Guides. We were presented with 25 dishes to sample. After tasting the first few we realized we had some outstanding cooks and would create a few different categories of winners. Special commendation went to Cate Conway for her butternut Squash and Pumpkin Quiche made with a rice flour pastry. Roshan Groves won for her Red Epicure Broad Bean and Tomato Casserole. Roshan and her partner, Peter, grew all the ingredients in Fanore, including the chili peppers and lemons!  Gemma Dowling’s Quince Jelly and a Blackberry Mousse with Hazelnut Macaroons and an Apple Brack  also won. What made these dishes so special? Local, fresh, foraged and home grown products. It can all be done right here in the Burren, under the most challenging of weather conditions! The Burren Masterchef  award went to Richard Morrison of Maurices Mills.  A boned out Rack of Goat with Blackberry and Sloe Gin Jus and Braised Red Cabbage cooked to perfection.   All of the ingredients were either reared, grown or foraged by Richard and his family or produced in Ireland. Ok, this is Vegetarian Ireland so I won’t get into the details of the goat and black pudding, but fair play to Richard for really understanding what local, homegrown, fresh and supporting your fellow producers is all about.

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

Monday, July 30th, 2012

blossomsMid July and it’s finally summer in Ireland. Everyone was afraid that week of perfect weather in May was it for the season. So, as the sun shines down on us, the gardens are finally coming into bloom. I picked zucchini, blossoms and  parsley, kale and fennel that were as green as you would expect on the Emerald Isle.  Zucchini blossoms are traditionally dredged in flour, milk and egg and batter fried or stuffed with meat and cheese. All these options are great but as a vegetarian, I’m trying to eat low fat and for the moment, I’m staying away from cheese. So, I created this scrumptious,  healthy dinner that was received with rave reviews from my dinner guests. As one satisfied friend exclaimed, “the flavors are really developed!” Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Stuffed Zucchini blossoms over butternut squash-coconut pureeroasted-garlicSteam 1 medium butternut squash, let cool and save liquid for soup stock.

Boil 2 cups of water, add 1 cup of quinoa and cook until done. This will produce about 3 cups cooked.

While squash and quinoa are cooking, toast in the oven 2 Tbl, sunflower seeds and 2 Tbl. chopped almonds. Separate 4 garlic cloves , put a little olive oil in a baking dish and roast until they become whilted and start to brown (as above).

In a little olive oil saute 1 cup  finely chopped kale, with 2 large button mushrooms and 1 medium oniuon.

Steam 1 medium zucchini (courgette) in Ireland! let cool and puree. Squeeze water out.

Chop 1 Tbl. fresh parsley and 2 Tbl. fresh fennel.

Mix together parsley, fennel, nuts, sauteed veg. and quinoa. Pick of end of garlic clove and squeeze garlic into mixture. Add Zucchini puree and mix all together, add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Pick the stems off the zucchini blossom and wash lightly. Dry and stuff with filling. You can do this by tearing a side and rolling or just filling it up.

Butternut Squash Puree

Puree the squash with 2 heaping Tbl. creamed coconut, 2 Tbl. minced ginger, 2 Tbl. chopped fennel, a whole lime juiced, sea salt , black pepper and a very small dash of cayenne pepper. The consistency will be smooth and creamy. Place 1/2 the puree in a baking dish, lay the blossoms over and cook for 20 minutes at 350, gas point 4.

Have fun garnishing with baby zucchini, herbs, lime wedges. Enjoy this delicious, healthy vegan meal!

Shopping List: quinoa, zucchini, blossoms, fennel, parsley, sunflower seeds, almonds, kale, mushrooms, onion, garlic, creamed coconut, butternut squash, fresh ginger root, lime, cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper.

What’s in a name?

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Why do we have such silly names for food?   Snickerdoodles, hermits, flapjacks (in America they’re pancakes, in Ireland granola bars). Cookies are biscuits in Ireland, biscuits in America are well, biscuits! Serve ’em up with gravy, all buttery and warm. My cousin in Dingle has an old label on his pub wall from Pegs Leg, a favorite candy from the past. I’m always looking for new variations on old treats so I created one of my own – the Burren Stack. As I’m living and cooking in the Burren, I get a lot of inspiration from the organic gardens, the berries and herbs that  grace the hedgerow, the goat farmers making their cheese.   The Burren is a unique, diverse landscape in North Clare that is full of  erratic rock formations left over from the Ice Age. choco-bar1

Well, I know it’s a stretch to go from the Ice Age to a variation on a Hermit, but why not! Here’s the recipe I use at Boghill for a nice sweet dessert which is gluten and dairy free. It will appear in Coming Home to Cook Part Two, or maybe I’ll come up with a crazy name for that too!

THE BURREN STACK

Preheat oven to 180c or 350f. Butter and flour a 10″ baking pan.

Cream 1 cup soy butter with 1 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs.  Add 2 tsp. gf baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg. Mix in 1/3 cup soy milk. Sift in 2 2/3 cups gf brown rice flour. Beat until well mixed. Add 2/3 cup raisins, 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, 2/3 cup chopped dairy free chocolate bits or chocolate chips.

Bake for 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack, remove from pan and eat immediately! Or, if you have willpower, it will keep well wrapped for a week.