Meat Free Monday

Meat Free Monday – The whole idea continues to garner approval – there’s a million good reasons why this is a brilliantly good idea. Between 1961 and 2007 the world population increased by a factor of 2.2. In the same period total meat production quadrupled and poultry consumption increased 10-fold. Consequently the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate that livestock production is responsible for up to 18 % of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, although some estimates putting the figure as high as 50 %.

The main ‘baddies’ are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Methane is caused by ‘enteric fermentation’ – which in plain English means the burping and farting – by cows, sheep and goats. Nitrous oxide rises off slurry (manure) pits (primarily on pig farms) or is the by-product of the production of fertilisers. Carbon dioxide is produced when rainforests are cut down to make way for grazing cattle, or for growing crops to feed farmed animals. Carbon dioxide may get most of the publicity, but the other two are, if anything more serious, methane is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and remains in the atmosphere for 9 – 14 years. Nitrous oxide is 310 times more powerful that carbon dioxide and hangs around for up to 114 years. What this means is that gases that are being released today will continue to degrade the climate for eons to come.

As if that’s not enough, global meat production uses massive amounts of water, we may not have to worry about it in this country but the estimated 634 gallons of fresh water required to produce one 5.2 ounce (147g) beef burger would be enough for a 4 hour-shower. Like fossil fuels, fresh water supplies are running out in many parts of the world. The glaciers that are the source of many of the great rivers are melting due to climate change and the Ganges, the Niger and Yellow Rivers are drying up. As they disappear, so does the world’s available water.

Nutritionists and doctors remind us that there are definite health benefits to reducing our consumption of meat. According to the World Health Organisation we eat considerably more protein than is considered necessary or optimal for good health. A meat-and-dairy-heavy diet is now being linked to some of the world’s biggest killer diseases, cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Animal welfare issues involved with some intensive methods of food production continue to cause concern and then there are the fish: it has been estimated that if current fishing trends continue, there will be no fish left by 2048. Industrialised fishing vessels with their football-pitch sized nets or lines of hooks a mile long devastate coral reefs and ocean beds, kill and injure marine wildlife including dolphins, turtles and sea birds, and are pushing the oceans to the brink of environmental collapse.

In the current economic climate there are many other compelling reasons to remind ourselves that vegetables are by far the most important food group and to support The Meat Free Monday campaign – which was started by the McCartney family in St John’s Park in London in June 2009. Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney have now come together to write the foreword for Meat Free Monday Cookbook published by Kyle Books and packed with many delicious recipes where you won’t miss the meat.

 

BREAKFAST GRANOLA

Makes 12 servings.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Roughly chop 200g (7oz) mixed nuts such as almonds, pecan and hazelnuts and tip into a large bowl. Add 450g (1lb) rolled oats, 50g (2oz) sunflower seeds, 50g (2oz) pumpkin seeds, 50g (2oz) linseeds and 50g (2oz) desiccated coconut and mix well. Add 125ml (4fl oz) sunflower oil and 100ml (3½fl oz) runny honey and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour the mixture into a large roasting tin and spread into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crisp, stirring frequently so that the mixture toasts evenly. Remove from the oven and add 100g (4oz) roughly chopped dried cherries, cranberries or blueberries. Leave to cool before scooping into storage jars. Serve with fresh berries, organic milk or natural yogurt.

 

Potatoes With Hazelnuts and Rosemary

Simon Rogan

Serves 4

Take about 20g (3/4 oz) tiny rosemary needles from the bunch and set aside. Boil 450g pink fir potatoes with 25g (1oz) sprig of rosemary leaves. Meanwhile simmer 25g (1oz) hazelnuts in water for 4 minutes, drain, peel and pat dry. Gently fry the hazelnuts in a little hazelnut oil until golden brown, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cool down and crush into smaller pieces. When the potatoes are cooked, peel, slice and fry in a generous amount of hazelnut oil until they are golden brown. Remove and drain onto kitchen paper, wipe clean the pan and place into it another 2 tablespoons of hazelnut oil with 100ml (3½fl oz) crème fraîche. Reduce until the sauce is the right consistency, add the rosemary needles and return the golden potato slices. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, place into a bowl and scatter over the fried hazelnut pieces.

 

CHEESY KALE GRATIN

Serves 4–6

 

Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Remove the stalks from 250g kale and shred finely. Plunge into boiling water for 30–60 seconds, then refresh under cold water. Set aside. Melt 25g (1oz) butter in a saucepan, stir in 25g (1oz) plain flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually blend in 450ml (16fl oz) full fat organic milk, stirring well. Place back on the heat and bring gently to the boil, stirring continuously until thickened and smooth. Crumble in 125g (4 ½ oz) goat’s cheese. Add 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder and salt and freshly ground black pepper, and mix well. Place the kale in an ovenproof dish, then spoon over the sauce. Combine 75g (3oz) breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, and then spread evenly over the surface. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Onion Bhajis with Tomato and Chilli Sauce

Serves 4

Onion bhajis are very popular in Britain but shop-bought ones can be greasy and tired. These ones are anything but. They are served with a feisty sauce that transforms what is usually thought of as a snack into a satisfying meal.

25g (1oz) green chillies, deseeded and chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in 5mm dice

1/2 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 teaspoon soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

salt and freshly ground pepper

110g (4oz) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon chilli powder

2 organic eggs, beaten

150ml (5fl oz / ¼ pint) water

4 onions, thinly sliced in rings

2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

sunflower oil

 

First make the sauce. Put the chillies, pepper, tomatoes and garlic into a stainless steel saucepan with the sugars, vinegar and water. Season and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by half.

Sieve the flour, baking powder and chilli powder into a bowl. Make a well in the centre, add the eggs, gradually add in the water, mix to make a smooth batter. Stir in the thinly sliced onions and chives. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Just before serving heat the oil to 170°C /gas mark 3 1/2 approximately. Fry teaspoons of the batter in the sunflower oil for about 5 minutes on each side until crisp and golden, drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot or cold with the tomato and chilli sauce.

LENTIL, CHICKPEA, CHEDDAR AND ONION BURGERS

SERVES 4

Guilt-free fast food! Perfect in a toasted bun, these deliciously spicy burgers will become firm family favourites and are guaranteed to convert even the most committed of carnivores.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

400g can lentils, drained and rinsed

400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon tahini paste

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

1 large organic egg, beaten

100g (3 ½ oz) fresh breadcrumbs

100g (3 ½ oz) grated Gruyère

100g (3 ½ oz) feta, crumbled

plain flour, for dusting

salt and freshly ground black pepper

to serve

burger buns

shredded lettuce

sliced tomatoes

sliced red onions

sliced avocados

soured cream

tomato ketchup

mayonnaise

pickles and relishes

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and cook over a medium heat until tender but not coloured. Add the garlic, ground cumin and cayenne and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

Tip the lentils and chickpeas into the bowl of a food-processor and blend until coarsely chopped. Add the onion mixture, tahini paste and parsley, and blend again until combined and nearly smooth. Tip into a large bowl and add the beaten egg, breadcrumbs and both of the cheeses. Mix together using your hands and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Shape the mixture into patties and lightly dust in plain flour. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan, slide the burgers into the pan and cook until golden on both sides.

Serve in toasted buns with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and avocados and a dollop of soured cream, ketchup or mayonnaise and pickles of your choice.

 

CAPPUCCINO CUPCAKES

Makes 12

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with muffin cases. In a large mixing bowl, cream 75g unsalted butter and 150g (5oz) soft light brown sugar together until pale and creamy. Add 2 organic eggs 1 at a time, mixing all the time. The mixture might look split at this stage but, don’t worry, that’s normal. Sift 85g (3 ½ oz) plain flour and 85g (3 ½ oz) self-raising flour together into a bowl. Mix 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder and 90ml organic milk together in a separate bowl. Fold in one third of the flour mixture and beat well then half of the coffee mixture and beat well again. Repeat the process, beating well between each addition. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases until two thirds full. Bake for 20–25 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. For the topping, whisk 300ml (10fl oz /½ pint) whipping cream and 25g (2oz) icing sugar together to soft peaks. Spoon the cream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe swirls over the cupcakes. Decorate each cupcake with a chocolate-covered espresso bean and dust with drinking chocolate powder.

 

CHOCOLATE BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING

Serves 4–6

 

Preheat the oven to 190°C /gas mark 5. You will need an ovenproof dish 18cm long and 4cm deep. In a medium size saucepan bring 600ml organic milk and 284ml double cream to the boil over a moderate heat. Meanwhile mix together in a bowl 4 organic egg yolks and 125g (4 1/2oz) caster sugar. Pour over the organic milk and cream mixture, stir well to combine, then strain into a jug, adding a few drops of vanilla extract. Layer 1/4 sliced baguette in the bottom of the ovenproof dish, and scatter over 50g (4oz) sultanas and 50g (4oz) roughly chopped plain chocolate. Dip 1/4 sliced baguette in 50g (4oz) melted butter and lay the sliced on top of the sultanas. Pour over the custard mixture and leave to soak for 30 minutes, pushing the bread beneath the surface of the custard. Place the dish in a bain-marie (a roasting tin containing boiling hot water to reach to halfway up the sides of the ovenproof dish). Bake the pudding for 1 hour until golden brown. In a small saucepan heat together 4 tablespoons apricot jam and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Brush liberally over the bread and butter pudding and serve immediately.

Hot Tips

Ed Hick’s Bacon Jam – it’s a relish – savoury, tangy, delicious, great on toast with a fried egg on top or a burger relish or just simply spread on crusty bread with a slice of apple. It’s an easy and really yummy pasta dressing or for true addicts, just eat it by the spoon – it’s the porkiest, piquantest, sweet/sour chutney www.hicks.ie

Simplee Salt was created by Edel at her home and garden in East Cork – she grew more herbs in her garden that she knew what to do with so she started creating flavoured sea salts and which is now stocked in shops all over Ireland – look out for Simplee Salt – Fresh Herb, Chili and Whole Black Peppercorn Sea Salts in shops all over Ireland. See the website for a list of stockists… www.simplee.ie

 Planting an Orchard – Ballymaloe’s former head gardener Susan Turner has agreed to teach a half day workshop for anyone interested in creating a fruit orchard. The course is ideal for beginners and experienced gardeners alike who want to choose and establish varieties for a fruit orchard. Susan will talk through pruning of both newly planted trees and the cropping tree and also how to rejuvenate an old orchard. Susan is a gardener with an international reputation and clientele and is an inspirational teacher. The course starts at 9.00am on Monday 21st November and finishes at 2.00pm. It includes a delicious light lunch using ingredients from the farm. The cost is just €95.00. To book a place (a few still remaining) please call 021 4646785 or online at www.cookingisfun.ie

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group presents – ‘Wines for Christmas’ – Choosing wines to suit Christmas fare, the best wines to buy this year and serving and storing wine with Colm McCan award winning sommelier from Ballymaloe House and Peter Corr experienced importer and distributor in the Cork area. Crawford Art Gallery Café, Cork – Thursday 24th Nov at 7.30pm – entrance 6 euro including tea & coffee