Cracked Black Pepper Strawberry Pancakes and an Orange Ginger Cream

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Cracked Black Pepper Strawberry Pancakes and an Orange  Ginger Cream

Serves 4 

Strawberries and black pepper may seem a strange combination but that’s the amazing think about strawberries … they take flavour so well.  Another example is balsamic vinegar and strawberries – it’s delicious. This recipe is a wholesome dessert or brunch dish.  My son especially loves it, so it is his treat at weekends. 

250g strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 tsp crushed black pepper

2 tbsp caster sugar

2 tbsp cointreau 

For the cream

120ml cream, lightly whipped

3 tbsp icing sugar

1 tbsp crystalised ginger, finely chopped

Zest of ½ orange 

For the pancakes

225g  plain flour

½ tsp ground ginger

1 level tsp baking powder

½  level tsp bread soda (baking soda)

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1 egg

300 ml milk 

  1. To prepare the strawberries, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and allow to macerate in the fridge for about half an hour.
  2. In the meanwhile, combine the cream, icing sugar, orange zest and crystalised ginger in a bowl and allow to infuse for half an hour
  3. To make the pancakes, sieve the plain flour, ground ginger, baking powder, and bread soda into a bowl. 
  4. Combine the sugar and salt and add to the flour.  Make a well in the centre.  Whisk the egg with enough milk to make a stiff batter.  Allow the batter to stand for approximately 15 minutes. 
  5. Brush a heavy frying pan with a little oil and heat.  Using a ladle, spoon the batter making circular shapes around the pan.  Cook until bubbles appear on the top which should take approximately 2 – 3 minutes. 
  6. Turn the pancakes and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes until they are lightly golden in colour.
  7. Layer the pancakes and black pepper strawberries, spoon over the orange ginger cream, drizzle over the strawberry juices and serve immediately.

Broccoli and Chicken Stir Fry

Broccoli and Chicken Stir Fry
Serves 4

For a fresh start to the year, this is a quick and healthy dish that is full of goodness. This is my vegetarian main course but it is also delicious as a side dish.  I usually serve it with coriander rice, which simply is steamed rice with freshly chopped coriander stirred through it.

1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast, sliced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
½ red chilli, thinly sliced
10 small broccoli florets (blanch or part steam in advance if large)
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 handful of coriander
2 tbsp cashew nuts

1. Heat the oil in a wok, add the onion and stirfry for about 2 minutes.
2. Add the chicken, soy sauce, rice vinegar, nam pla and orange juice and stir fry until slightly golden.
3. Add the chilli, broccoli and peppers, fry for a further 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Stir in the coriander and cashew nuts.
5. Serve immediately with coriander rice.

Tip: The prepared vegetable will stay fresh in cold water in the fridge for a day or so.

 

Spicy Parsnip and Carrot Soup

Spicy Parsnip and Carrot Soup
Serves 4

We all need a little spiciness to warm us up, especially after going for those wonderful inspirational autumnal forest walks – I often create new recipes while walking!. This soup freezes very well in batches as well.   

2 onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
5 parsnips, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 – 3 tsp medium curry paste (depending how spicy your want the soup!)
1.2litres chicken stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 tbsp cream

Olive oil or butter

Sprigs of coriander for garnishing
Cream  

1. Melt a little butter or heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook over a medium heat stirring occasionally for about 6 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the garlic and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the ground cumin and coriander and gently cook for another 1 – 2 minutes.
2. Add the parsnips and carrots, stir until thoroughly coated with butter, then stir in the curry paste followed by the stock.
3. Cover the pan and lower the heat. Allow to simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes or until the parsnips and carrots are tender.
4. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly.
5. Pour the soup into a blender and mix until smooth (or use the hand blender).  Return the soup to the rinsed saucepan.  Season to taste, stir in the cream and gently reheat.
6. Serve in warm bowls topped with swirls of cream and garnish with sprigs of coriander.

Tip:  Use 2 celeriac instead of the parsnips and carrots and sprinkle 1 tbsp crispy bacon over the top of each bowl. 

 

Carrots

Carrots
I love carrots, raw or cooked! For years, I was under the impression raw carrots must surely be of greater nutritional value, than steamed or boiled carrots – even if you boil them in a minimum amount of water, for a minimum amount of time.  I was WRONG, it seems!
‘An experiment carried out at the Institute of Food Research in 2009 showed that the body can absorb about 5% of the beta carotene from a single carrot, whereas when it is boiled, the carrot released 60% and blended and then boiled a whopping 90%!’ according to the Carrot Museum. For any of you who like carrots, you might be interested in discovering more about them. Their history, cultivation, nutrition and general trivia is all up for scrutiny with the click of a mouse – www.carrotmuseum.com has countless pages on the power of the carrot!
For instance, it looks at how adding a little fat can enhance the goodness of carrots in salad. It seems that an olive oil based dressing is not just good for flavour, but good for health too. Research from Ohio State University found that beta-carotene was absorbed when a fresh salad (consisting of carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach and cherry tomatoes) was eaten with full-fat salad dressing compared with fat-free salad dressing – beta carotene is soluble in fat (oil), not in water!
Although The Carrot Museum site states that it does not recommend self-diagnosis or self-medication and that ‘the information contained in this web site has not been verified for correctness’, it’s nevertheless an interesting read.
I think we can certainly stand over some nutritional facts about carrots as summarised in my paragraph below, while others may be a little more than enthusiastic in attributing nutrition and health related virtues to the carrot.
Seven reasons to like carrots
Carrots, like most fruit and vegetables, are relatively low in calories.  An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains approximately 24 calories, making them a good addition to your dinner plate, if you’re watching your weight.
Carrots are naturally low in fat and more importantly they are low in saturated fat (the kind that’s not so healthy for our hearts). An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains approx 0.3g of total fat (of that 0.1g is saturated fat).
Carrots count towards your five-a-day. Like most veg,  80g is an average serving . You can enjoy them fresh or  frozen- even the canned carrot counts nutritionally (but for me they are sadly lacking in texture and flavour that I’d prefer to choose another fresh veg rather than resort to tinned carrots). Serve them as a side dish, cooked in a soup or stew, raw in a salad or made into a juice.
Carrots are naturally low in salt too. To stay healthy and reduce your risk of getting high blood pressure, the best approach to salt is to avoid adding it at the table or when cooking. The target is to encourage people to consume no more than 6g of salt a day – which is pretty difficult as there is a lot of hidden and added salt when food is processed.  An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains just 0.1g salt, providing you haven’t added salt to the cooking water.
Carrots contain fibre, which helps keep the digestive system healthy and helps balance blood sugar levels. Fibre also helps you to feel fuller for longer so you find it easier to maintain your weight. An 80g serving of cooked carrots contains approx 2g fibre – about a tenth of the recommended daily amount for adults.
Carrots are packed with a nutrient called beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A by the body. In fact an 80g serving of cooked carrots contains more than twice the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin A equivalent needed by adults. Vitamin A plays a part in many important bodily functions, such as:
• Vision
• Immune function
• Embryonic development and reproduction
• Bone health
• Skin health

Carrots help to keep your immune system strong. Vitamin A helps keep the skin and cells that line the airways, digestive tract and urinary tract healthy, so they act as barriers and form the body’s first line of defence against infection.

Potatoes – The Healthy Carbohydrate

Despite what you may have heard, potatoes represent good nutritional value for your money and merit some space on your plate! Like the avocado and banana, the potato is often maligned AND it doesn’t deserve to be.
Rich in starchy carbohydrate, potatoes are a fantastic fuel for our bodies. Unadulterated and unprocessed, they are probably the best source of starchy energy in our diets. In a world where many carbohydrates are so processed that they are devoid of essential nutrients, the potato stands head and shoulders above the rest.
In fact, potatoes and porridge oats are two of the best carbohydrates that I recommend people to eat. And for those of you who are trying to lose weight, enjoy smaller serving sizes, without smothering your spuds in sauces or spreads.
Nutrition matters
While the humble potato may seem a tad old-fashioned in comparison to exotic entrants in the market, it remains one of the most inexpensive and nutritious foods for sale in our supermarkets.
• Potatoes are an excellent source of fibre. Fibre plays a role in digestive health and weight management. Fibre also provides a source of energy for the friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria living in the digestive system, helping to boost whole body immunity. We know from national dietary surveys that 4 out of 5 adults don’t get enough fibre. One medium baked potato in its skin contributes 27% of the guideline daily amount (GDA).
• Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C. One small potato provides 31% of the GDA, that’s more vitamin C than you would find in a tomato. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant, stabilizing free radicals and helping to prevent cell damage. It’s important for normal collagen production; increases iron absorption in the body; and helps keep your immune system working at it best.
• Potatoes are a good source of potassium…more potassium than a banana! One medium potato with its skin provides 37% of the GDA. Potassium is a mineral, essential for transmitting nerve impulses and helping our muscles contract. It also helps maintain normal blood pressure. We know from the National Adult Nutrition Survey that potassium intakes in Irish adults fall below the recommended daily amount (RDA)1. Low dietary potassium may contribute to increased risk of high blood pressure.
• Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is a water soluble vitamin that plays important roles in carbohydrate and protein metabolism, and so is a key player in athletic performance and endurance. It is also required for the immune system and nervous system to function properly and is required for the formation of new red blood cells.
• Potatoes are a good source of folate, providing 26% of the RDA. Folate (also known as vitamin B9) is necessary to make new cells, including new red blood cells. It is also very important during pregnancy, as it can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in your unborn child.
• A serving of potato contributes only 12% of the calories you need in day. They are naturally low in fat, cholesterol and salt, making them perfect for health conscious consumers and parents.
Table 1: Nutrient Comparison of Potatoes with other Common Carbohydrates
Some people have concerns in relation to consuming potatoes when it comes to weight management. They often incorrectly identify potatoes as having a higher fat content compared with pasta and rice, when in fact potatoes have the lowest fat content.

Cooked Weight Calories (kcals) Fat (g) Fibre (g) Potassium (mg) Vitamin C (mg) Vitamin B6 (mg)
Medium Baked Potato (180g) 245 0.4 6.5 1134 25 0.97
Medium portion of white rice (180g) 248 2.3 0.2 97 Nil 0.13
Medium portion of brown rice (180g) 254 2.0 1.9 178 Nil Trace
Medium portion of spaghetti (220g) 229 1.5 3.5 53 Nil 0.04
Medium portion of wholewheat spaghetti (220g) 249 2.0 7.7 308 Nil 0.18

Potato facts!
• Carbohydrate is the main fuel for your body and brain. Potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates, making them perfect for athletes and recreational exercisers alike.
• 1 medium potato (180g) contains approximately 50g of carbohydrate and makes a great pre- or post-exercise snack or meal option.

Table 2: Potatoes v’s other common carbohydrate-rich foods
Potatoes help fill us up, not out as long as you eat them in moderation like everything else. They are naturally low in fat and salt too.

Food Item Calories (kcals) Carbohydrate (g)
1 baked potato (180g) 245 53
1 Danish pastry (110g) 376 53
1 croissant roll (60g) 224 24
1 jumbo sausage roll (80g) 283 23
1 fresh eclair 349 31
1 slice carrot cake with topping (85g) 305 29
1 Pot Noodle (320g made-up weight) 423 62
1 average serving takeaway egg fried rice (270g) 502 84

Did you know?
• A baked potato in its skin contains more fibre than two slices of wholemeal bread! If you want all the nutritional benefits, be sure to eat the potato’s flavourful skin as well as its creamy centre.
Value for Money
• Because potatoes are produced in Ireland they provide very good value to the Irish consumers.
• As well as supporting local industry you can rest assured that potatoes are, on average, 3 times cheaper than pasta and 5 times cheaper than rice or noodles on a per kilo basis.

My Personal Opinion?
Potato is not a fattening, starchy carbohydrate with empty calories. Unadulterated and unprocessed, potatoes are one of the best source of starchy energy and deserve a place on our plates. They are a gluten-free coeliac’s dream and a better source of vitamin C, potassium and vitamin B6 than either rice or pasta. Excellent nutritional value for money!

References:
1M. Giltinan, J. Walton, B. McNulty, A. Nugent, M. Gibney, A. Flynn (2012) Potassium Intakes in Irish Adults. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 71 (OCE2), E107. doi:10.1017/S0029665112001644

Ah, the humble spud”….

 

Ah, the humble spud”…. I often wonder who put the “humble” in potatoes. Maybe “modest” is more appropriate. After all, it’s an exciting, flavoursome, nutritious and easy to use vegetable.  When you see how it’s prepared in the various countries around the world, from a delicious Aluo Dum curry in Northern India to Lefsa in Norway, you quickly realize how the spud has been embraced and brought to new heights of deliciousness by our international friends.

 

Just like apples, there is a great variety of potatoes, and some work better than others with different cooking methods.  We all know Roosters, which are a great general potatoes for steaming, baking and boiling.  But try some Pinks for crispy chips and baked potatoes or Queens for roasted potatoes and many more varieties. And as for Maris Pipers… “Best Chips Ever, Mam!” was a clear compliment from my two kids last night, when I made oven chips with Maris Pipers.  They were so sweet and crispy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside, yum!

 

We all grew up on the potato, meat and two veg.  And whilst that’s tasty, we do need to inject some fresh flavours and interest into our potato dishes.  Here are some tips:

 

“Spice up the Spud” – Saute a ¼ teaspoon of garam marsala with 2 sliced onions and fold into mashed potatoes.  A pinch of saffron makes your mash look and taste gorgeous.

Toss a little harrisa paste into your roasted potatoes. Brush chilli oil lightly over your potatoes before baking them.

 

“Add a little Mediterranean”  Mashed potato with pancetta and gorgonzola cheese is so delicious or add marinaded chopped artichokes, sliced olives and lemon zest. Another really tasty one is to stir in 2 tablespoons of roasted red pepper pesto through your mashed potatoes.  

 

“Add a bit of sweet” – yes you can! Add maple caramelised diced apples to mashed potatoes for a pie or add finely diced pears into potato cakes and serve with a cherry marsala sauce. 

 

A few ideas to speed things up. Try dicing the potatoes fairly small and steaming them – they cook much faster. Warm the milk in the microwave with the butter before adding to the mashed potatoes. For speedy baked potatoes, insert a metal skewer as this speeds them up by 15 minutes. Mash your potatoes with the skins still on – it saves time and gives you extra fibre!

 

 

Potato, Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup

Serves 4

 

This is a great hearty flavoursome soup which is very easy to make.  Potatoes and kale are high in Vitamin C so not only will it will comforting on a chilly evening but so very good for you as well. 

 

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
60g chorizo, diced
3 medium Rooster potatoes, peeled and diced into 1cm pieces

1 tsp chopped thyme

100ml white wine

1.5 litres vegetable stock

60g curly kale, washed and roughly shredded

100g cooked cannellini beans

 

Olive or rapeseed oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1 tbsp chopped parsley, for garnishing

Pastry twists or crostini, to serve

 

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft and just starting to colour. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the diced chorizo and cook until it starts to release oil.
  3. Add the diced potatoes, thyme and white wine and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring from time to time.  
  4. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer. Check the seasoning. Simmer for about 18 to 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in the kale and beans and simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes until the kale is just tender..
  6. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve with pastry twists or crostini. 

 

Tip: For a lovely healthy casserole, add 2 diced carrots and 100g diced pancetta and plenty of chopped chives.

 

Parmesan Potato Cakes and Chive and Lemon Drizzle

Makes 12 small cakes as a starter

 

These potato cakes make an ideal starter and you can use the left over mash from the previous evening. Using a potato ricer will make your life so much easier and quicker – I think that every home should have one.  

 

50g  plain flour

400g Queen potatoes, steamed and pressed through a ricer or masher

1 egg, beaten

3 scallions, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tbsp milk, if the mixure is too dry

 

4 tbsp grated parmesan

60g breadcrumbs

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

 

Butter and oil, for frying

 

For drizzling:

2 tbsp chopped chives

½ lemon, juice & zest

4 tbsp olive oil

 

Watercress or salad leaves, to garnish

Borage flowers, to garnish (optional)

Lemon wedges, to serve

 

  1. Place the potato, flour, egg, scallions, salt and pepper into a mixing bowl, mix well until all the ingredients come together and add a little milk, if necessary.
  2. Using damp hands, divide the mixture in 12 portions and shape into small potato cakes.
  3. Mix the parmesan, breadcrumbs and parsley together and toss onto a plate.
  4. Roll in the parmesan breadcrumb mix. Place on a plate lined with parchment and set aside in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  5. Heat the oil or butter in a large fryingpan over a medium heat and carefully fry the potato cakes for about 2 minutes until lightly golden brown on each side.
  6. To make the drizzle, whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. To serve place 3 potato cakes on a serving plate, spoon over the drizzle and serve with watercress or salad leaves and borage flowers and lemon wedges.

 

Tip: Saute a finely chopped red chilli and add to the potato mix for that little extra heat and serve with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and some lime wedges for another glam starter. Queens have that lovely floury texture and are great to use for steaming and boiling. They are available late June to September.     

 

 

Patatas Bravas with Roast Cod

Serves 4

 

This will bring back the sunny holiday memories and teamed up with roast cod makes a really delicious main course for a dinner party. The sauce can be made ahead of time so all the wonderful flavours can develop. Use Pinks as a prefered potato as they are great for chips and give a good crispness when roasted for this dish.    

 

For the sauce

3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped
400g tinned chopped tomatoes

2tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp sweet paprika

¼ tsp chilli powder

Pinch of brown sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

For the potatoes

1kg Kerrs Pink potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces

4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

Sea salt

 

For the roasted cod

4 x 100g cod fillets, 3cm thick

1 lemon, juice

1 tbsp chopped dill

Olive or rapeseed oil

 

Flat leaf parsley, to garnish

1 lemon, sliced thinly in half, to garnish

 

  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pan, add the onion and saute for about 6 minutes until softened but not brown.
  2. Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree, paprika, chilli powder, sugar and salt and freshly ground black pepper and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Check the seasoning.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5.  Pour the oil into a roasting pan and heat in the oven for about 2 minutes.  Do take care when taking out of the oven. Spread the diced potatoes into a roasting tin.  
  4. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing the potatoes from time to time until they are crisp, golden and cooked.
  5. To roast the cod, drizzle a little olive oil into a roasting pan, heat the pan in the oven for 2 minutes, carefully place the cod fillets into the pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and dill and roast for 12 to 15 minutes until the fish is cooked. Test this by carefully inserting a knive into the fish and flaking it away.  
  6. Tip the potatoes into a serving plate, spoon over the tomato sauce.
  7. Place the roasted cod fillets on top of the potato and sauce. Place lemon slices over the cod fillets. Garnish with flat leaf parsley. Serve immediately.

 

Tip: Add finely chopped chives or lemon zest over the diced potatoes for a great side to the Sunday roast dinner or even serve a tapenade over and then the cod fillet.   

 

Potato, Caramelised Onion and Thyme Tart

Serves 4 to 6

 

This tart will really wow your friends.  It takes a little time to arrange the potatoes but the rest is quick and so worthwhile. You can make tartlets to take on picnics or even for a casual lunch with a colourful leafy salad.

 

2 medium red onions, thinly sliced

4 tbsp caster sugar

375g puff pastry

20 to 24 new baby Maris Piper potatoes, skins on and steamed

4 tbsp good quality tomato sauce

1 tsp chopped thyme

 

Olive or rapeseed oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

10 small sprigs of thyme

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.  Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the sliced onions and sugar.  Gently saute for 10 to 12 minutes until softened and caramelised
  3. Roll the puff pastry out onto a floured clean surface. Use a dinner plate as a template to cut a circle that will fit your baking tray and place on the parchment.
  4.  Slice the steamed new baby potatoes thinly. Spread the tomato sauce over the pastry.
  5. Working from the outside towards the inside, arrange the potato slices all the way around in 4 rows, leaving a gap in the centre to place the caramelized onion after the tart is baked.  Sprinkle over the chopped thyme. Drizzle with a little olive oil  and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. 
  6. The pastry should be cooked and the potatoes crispy. Spoon the caramelized onions into the centre of the potato tart.  To serve, sprinkle over the sprigs of thyme and drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

 

Tip: Add diced pancetta to the caramelised onions for a very delicious change.

 

Twice Baked Broccoli and and Potato Cheese

Serves 4

 

You can add almost anything to these – grated mature cheddar, peas, spinach or even grated courgettes. Bake your potatoes when you are cooking a casserole in the oven or even a cake so that you can make full use of all the oven space and energy.

 

100g broccoli, chopped into medium size florets

4 Rooster or Kerrs Pinks baked potoes, sliced in half

4 tbsp basil pesto

3 eggs, separated

3 tbsp cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp chopped parsley

1 tbsp chopped chives

2 tbsp grated parmesan

 

Chive lengths and flowers, to garnish

Parmesan shavings, to garnish

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4.
  2. Place the brocolli in a steamer and cook for about 7 minutes or until cooked until tender. While still hot, mash with a fork.
  3. Scoop the potato flesh out of the potatoes and place the skins on a parchment lined baking tray.
  4. Beat the egg yolks a little and separately whisk the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
  5. Add the pesto, beaten eggs yolks, cream and mashed brocolli to the scooped out potato. Check the seasoning.  Add the chopped parsley and the parmesan. Carefully fold the egg whites into the potato mix.
  6. Spoon the mixture back into the potato skins, piling it up and place into the preheated oven to cook for 15 to 18 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Once cooked, garnish with chives, parmesan shavings and serve immediatley.

 

Tip: Baking our potatoes is one of the healthest ways to cook them along side steaming. There is nothing nicer than a well baked potato, hot and steamy on a cold night with a light drizzle of herb oil on top – it couldn’t be simpler. Potatoes are a great source of potassium which is good for blood pressure and a good amount of fibre available as well for a healthy life style.  

  

 

 

Spanish Widowed Potatoes or Patatas Viudas

Serves 4

 

This is a rustic style potato casserole with great flavours and great for the budget as well. The anchovies will melt into the casserole andmy tip is to keep the vegetables chunky – less to chop! When the potatoes cook they thicken the sauce of the casserole as well.  

 

1 onion, sliced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 anchovy fillets

600g Golden Wonder potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm pieces

1 green pepper, deseeded and diced into 2cm pieces

1 red pepper, deseeded and diced into 2cm pieces

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

100ml red wine

½ tsp chopped oregano

½ tsp paprika

500 to 600ml vegetable stock

1 bayleaf

150g mixed varities of cherry tomatoes

2 tbsp black olives

 

3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Oregano leaves, to garnish

Garlic toasts, to serve

 

  1. Heat a large size casserole with olive oil, add the sliced onion and saute for 4 minutes, add the garlic olives and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the diced potatoes and green and red peppers and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Pour over the red wine vinegar and red wine, oregano, paprika and cook for 4 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. 
  3. Add the cherry tomatoes and simmer gently for about  6 minutes. Add the olives and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the bayleaf. Check the seasoning.
  4. To serve, sprinkle over oregano leaves and serve with garlic toasts.

 

Tip: We take our potatoes for granted – take good care of them, they can bruise and store them in cool dark hessian type bags in a dark place to keep them as fresh as possible. Try new varities for a change as well.    

 

Individual Cider Chicken & Ham Potato Pies

Serves 4

 

This is a great recipe to use up leftover chicken and ham from a Sunday dinner. Use queens in this recipes as they are floury and will give you a fab mash potato for the topping. You can change the topping flavours to add caramelised leeks or grate mature cheddar or even olive oil and chopped olives.

 

For the topping

5 large Queens potatoes, peeled and roughly diced

30g butter

50ml warm milk

1 tbsp chopped dill

 

For sauce:

30g butter

30g flour

120ml chicken stock

100 ml cider

120ml double cream

Squeeze of lemon juice (to taste)

Sprig of fresh dill

 

150g cooked ham, 2cm dice pieces

150g cooked chicken, 2cm dice pieces

 

1.         Place the diced potatoes into a steamer and cook for 12 minutes or

until cooked.  When still hot, press the potatoes through a potato ricer

into a bowl. Add the butter and warm milk, chopped dill and salt and freshly

ground black pepper.

2.         Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. 

3.         For the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium

heat, add the flour and cook slowly over a low heat until the mixture is

lightly golden and cooked.  Pour in the chicken stock and cider, turn up the

heat and stir constantly until simmering. Add the cream and reduce until the

sauce has thickened. Add the lemon juice and dill.

4.         Stir the chicken and ham into the sauce.

5.         Divide the mix into 4 ramekins. Spoon the mash potato into a piping

bag and pipe the potato topping, as much or as little as you prefer over the

ramekins or spoon over the mash potatoes, spread evenly and transfer onto a

baking tray and into the preheated oven.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until

the topping is golden.

6.         Serve immediately with a fresh green salad.

 

Tip: Instead of mashed potatoes, slice new potatoes very thinly, arrange

over the top of the filling  and brush with melted butter and bake until

crispy.    

 

 

Potato and Leek Bake

Serves 4 to 6

 

Use a mandolin to get thinly sliced potatoes. To speed up potato bakes, cook the potatoes in stock or cream first until just tender.  Drain very well and keep the liquid to make a sauce. 

 

700ml vegetable stock

1kg Queens potatoes, thinly sliced

2 large leeks, thinly sliced

200ml double cream

3 eggs, beaten

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tbsp grated parmesan

 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1 tbsp chopped chives

100 cooked crispy diced pancetta

 

 

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Place the stock in a large pan, bring to the boil, then add the potatoes. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes, then drain very well, reserving the stock in a jug.
  2. In the meantime, heat a large frying pan & saute the leeks until just golden & soft.
  3. Meanwhile, brush a 25cm gratin dish. Layer up the potatoes and leek, seasoning as you go, then scatter the pancetta over the top. Pour over 60ml of the reserved stock.
  4. Mix the cream, eggs, dijon mustard, parmesan and salt and pepper in a jug and carefully pour over the potatoes and leeks. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until set.
  5. Sprinkle over the chives and crispy pancetta before serving.

 

Tip: Layer thin slices of courgette in between the potatoes and leek. A rustic style bake can be prepared with steamed new baby maris piper potatoes, sliced lengthways and layed with cream, parmesan and leeks.

 

Coriander Potato Salad with a Yoghurt Dressing

Serves 4

 

Serve this at a summer fish BBQ with salad leafy until the salad. You can, of course, use steamed diced rooster potato with this dressing as well.  

 

1.2 kg new season Maris Piper potatoes, washed, skins left on
5 spring onions, sliced
2 stalk celery, trimmed and thinly sliced

 

for the dressing

150g plain fat free Greek yogurt
4 tbsp good quality mayonnaise
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
Salt and pepper, to taste

A generous bunch of fresh coriander, for garnish

 

  1. Place the potatoes into a steamer and cook until fork-tender.
  2. Allow the potatoes to cool slightly and then cut them into half or even quarter if a little larger.
  3. Add the spring onions and celery to the potatoes.
  4. Mix together the yogurt, mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar and mustard. Stir in the chopped coriander, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Spoon the dressing over the potatoes, spring onions and celery and gently toss and chill in fridge.
  6. Serve with coriander on top.

Tip: Stir a good handful of rocket into the salad and chunks of tuna for a healthy easy lunch.

Bbq New Potato, Red Pepper and Rosemary Skewers

Makes 8

 

You can prepare these in a large chargrill pan as well so that you can serve skewers with diced potatoes not only during the summer. 

 

24 small new season Maris Piper or Queens baby potatoes, steamed

2 red peppers, deseeded and diced into 2cm pieces

8 small shallots, peeled and sliced in half

 

2 tsp oregano, chopped

1 tsp paprika

1 lemon, juice only

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

 

 

Chive green oil

2 tbsp chopped chives

1 tbsp chopped dill

60ml rapeseed oil

2 tbsp toasted pinenuts

 

8 medium rosemary sprigs

8 wooden skewers

 

Lemon slices, chargrilled, to serve

Salt and black pepper

 

  1. Soak the wooden skewers in cold water for at least one hour.
  2. Combine the oregano, paprika, lemon juice and oil together in a bowl.  While the new baby potatoes are still hot, pour half the marinade over to marinade for ½ an hour.
  3. Preheat the BBQ.
  4. Thread the skewers with baby potatoes, red pepper and shallots. Brush with more oregano marinade. 
  5. Chargrill the skewers for about 3 to 4 minutes until cooked.
  6. To make the chive oil, place the chives, dill, olive and pinenuts into a food processor and blender until roughly smooth.
  7. To serve, place the skewers on a serving platter or board and spoon over the chive oil and serve immediately with chargrilled lemon slices.

 

Tip:  Try threading a few thin strip of chicken in between the potatoes and red peppers on the skewers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catherine’s New Season Potatoes

Warm New Potato and Roasted Beetroot Salad Platter

Serves 6
1kg new potatoes, washed or scrubbed
4 medium beetroot,

For the dressing

2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp walnut oil
2 tsp honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

4 bacon rashers, grilled until crispy and roughly chopped
2 spring onions, very finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped chives

 

Strands of chive, for garnishing

50g rocket or seasonal salad, washed and trimmed

 

Preheat the oven to 180C

Slice the beetroot into wedges and roast with a drizzle of honey and olive oil

Meanwhile cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for about 15-20 minutes until just tender.

To make the dressing, place the vinegar, mustard, oils, honey and salt and pepper in a screw-top jar and shake well until creamy or place in a jug and whisk.  Check for seasoning and add more salt & pepper as desired.

Drain the potatoes well and, when just cool enough to handle, cut into halves. And toss in some of the salad dressing.

Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl with the flaked almonds, bacon, spring onions, chives and toss in as much or as little of the dressing as you want.

Place the rocket leaves or seasonal salad on a platter, arrange the roasted beetroot around the edge and drizzle over a little salad dressing. Spoon the warm potato salad into the centre.  Drizzle over more salad dressing.

Arrange the chives strands on top and serve warm.

 

Summer treat

Fresh strawberries are one of my favourite summer treats – you know it’s really getting into the summer season when strawberries begin to appear in the shops.

 Strawberries are a great cheat! They taste sweet but still have great nutritional benefits.

Strawberries are a nutrient packed fruit filled with antioxidants, naturally high in fibre, vitamin C and potassium. They can help maintain a healthy heart and also help your memory function. A little known fact about strawberries is that one serving (between 8 -10 depending on their size) has as much if not more vitamin C than a large orange!

Even though they taste sweet, are an ideal healthy treat, low in calories and provide the perfect way to get one of the five a day. One serving has only 27 calories. They have a low glycaemic index which means that they are broken down slowly meaning they keep you feeling fuller for longer so you are less inclined to snack – which works great for me!

Here is a very simple smoothie recipe from Catherine Fulvio I use in the mornings, it’s a good start to the day and has a nice kick to it:

 Strawberry, Ginger and Lime Smoothie

Makes 2 

15 large strawberries, washed and hulled

250ml natural yoghurt

5 ice cubes

2 – 3 pieces crystalised ginger, roughly chopped

Zest of ½ lime 

  1. Blend the strawberries, natural yoghurt, ice, lime zest and ginger until smooth.
  2. Pour the smoothie into the glass.

 

It’s as simple as that!

Strawberries for health

An average serving of strawberries (about 8 strawberries) has only 27 calories. Strawberries are virtually fat-free and almost 90% of a strawberry is made up of water. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, and they are also a source of folate, flavonoids, and the phytochemical, ellagic acid.

Several studies have highlighted the significant levels of antioxidants in strawberries, which are thought to prevent the cell damage that leads to certain types of cancer.

Ellagic acid is one of these powerful antioxidants which may help to prevent DNA damage. Strawberry extracts have been shown to help control inflammation (1), and ellagic acid has recently been shown to have an antioxidant role in heart health and in the prevention of the build of cholesterol on the inside of arteries (2).

The vibrant red colour of strawberries is due to the anthocyanin known as pelargonidin. Anthocyanins are powerful flavonoids. A fresh food diet rich in flavonoids found in fruits such as strawberries, vegetables, green tea and wine, has strong antioxidant properties and is thought to be an important protective component of the Mediterranean diet. A diet rich in berries has also been linked to boosting levels of good cholesterol and improving blood pressure.

References

Chang WC et al. Br J Nutr. 2008 Apr ;99(4) : 709-14
Hannum SM. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(1):1-17
Tsuda T. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):642-6
Erlund I et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):323-31.

Christmas Red Cabbage and Cranberries

Serves 4

This can be prepared a day ahead. Serve with roasted onions and buttered chestnuts or even a spicy pear compote or relish. It is delicious served just warm with apricot glazed ham on St Stephens Day. 

½ tsp ground cumin
A pinch ground cloves
½ tsp mixed spice
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ orange, zest and juice
1 cinnamon stick
1 red cabbage, core removed and thinly sliced
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp Marsala (optional)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
100g fresh cranberries, washed
2 tbsp butter
Salt & pepper to season

1. Add the spices to a dry saucepan and heat gently for 30 seconds until aromatic.
2. Add the butter to the saucepan, toss in the onion and sauté over a low heat until softened but not coloured.
3. Stir in the cinnamon stick, orange zest and juice, cabbage, sugar, Marsala and red wine vinegar.
4. Cover and allow to simmer very gently for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.  Add the cranberries during the last 15 minutes of cooking time with a little extra orange juice and / or sugar to taste. Season with salt and pepper as required.
Tip: Add 2 diced red apples during the last 10 minutes of the cooking time instead of the cranberries for a non Christmas version