ArchiveDecember 1, 2018

What’s in season this time of year?

Celeriac, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, swedes….

“It’s almost Winter now – what’s in season at this time of the year?” This question came from a busy young Mum who was panicking and at a loss to know what to cook for her family now that the Summer produce is finished – she was amazed when I rattled off all the root vegetables that are at their best at present. They’ll all be even better in a few weeks time when they have a few more nights of frost to sweeten them even further.

Citrus fruit are also at their most diverse from now on – everything from kumquats to pomelo and all the tangerines, mandarins, clementines, ugli fruit, bergamot… All packed with Vitamin C….Nature’s way to boost our resistance to Winter colds and flu.

We’ve still got lots of squash and pumpkins too. They last throughout the Winter as do the beautiful fluffy Bramley apples. Then there are all the kales, Raggedy Jack, Red Russian and Ethiopian Kale, Cavalo Nero and the humble Curly Kale, not to mention crunchy Savoy cabbage, floury Golden Wonders and Kerr’s Pink potatoes and tons of game.

By now her eyes were big as saucers so I started to tantalize her with some good things to cook with all that tempting produce…

Caramelized Carrot, Beetroot and Apple Salad with toasted sesame seeds

Serve as a salad not as an accompaniment.  A couple of bocconcini make this salad into a more substantial lunch.

Serves 6

600g young carrots, with a little green top

2 teaspoons thyme leaves

Extra Virgin olive oil


Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

450g beetroot, cooked and peeled

1-2 dessert apples, unpeeled and coarsely grated or julienned

25g pumpkin or sesame seeds

Watercress, purslane and chickweed or a mixture of interesting leaves and ‘weeds’



2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 230C/mark 8

Scrub the carrots, dry, split in half lengthwise, if too big.   Put into a large bowl, add the thyme leaves, drizzle with the olive oil and honey, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss gently to coat.

Spread out in a roasting tin.   As soon as you put the trays into the oven reduce the heat to 200C/mark 6.

Roast for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally until the carrots are almost tender and caramelized at the ends and edges.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Just before serving, toast the pumpkin or sesame seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, you’ll need to keep tossing them or they’ll burn on one side and become acrid and bitter.

Cut the cooked beetroot into wedges or chunks depending on size.

Make the dressing – Whisk the lemon juice, oils and honey together, add the thyme leaves, keep half the dressing aside.

Grate the apple on the coarse side of a box grater, directly into the rest of the dressing. Toss, taste and correct seasoning.

To serve:

Arrange a few sprigs of watercress, chickweed, and purslane on each plate.  Whisk the dressing.

Sprinkle over the carrot and beets.  Taste, it should be nice and perky.  Divide them between the plates.  Spoon some grated apple here and there, sprinkle with toasted seeds and serve with crusty bread.


Charred Cabbage with Katuobushi

Charred cabbage is a revelation…..who knew that cooking cabbage in this way could taste so delicious and lift a humble inexpensive vegetable into a whole new cheffy world. Lots of sauces and dressings work well with charred cabbage but I love this combination.  Katuobushi are shaved bonita flakes. Bonita is a type of tuna. Buy some – you’ll soon be addicted and find lots of ways to use them.


Serves 6

1 medium cabbage

1 tablespoon light olive oil or a neutral oil

50-110g (2–4ozs) butter

15-30g  (½ – 1ozs) Katuobushi flakes

Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons for coarsely chopped fresh parsley


Trim the cabbage. Cut into quarters or sixths depending on the size.

Preheat the oven to 230°C /450°F/Gas Mark 4. Heat a cast iron pan, add a little oil, swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Lay the cabbage wedges cut side down on the pan, cook on a medium heat until well seared on both cut surfaces. Add butter to the pan, when the butter melts and turns golden, spoon the ‘noisette’ butter over the cabbage several times. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, cover, transfer to the oven and continue to cook, basting regularly for about 10 minutes.

Test with a cake skewer or the tip of a knife close to the stalk to make sure its tender all the way through.

Add some Katuobushi flakes to the butter, baste again. Transfer to a serving platter or individual serving plates. Sprinkle some more Katuobushi flakes and a little coarsely chopped parsley over the top and serve immediately.


Golden Wonder and Scallion Champ

Serves 4-6


Golden Wonders are delicious floury potatoes, now in season. Check out your local Farmers Market and buy a bag. They keep excellently, remember to exclude the light when storing.

Champ is one of Ireland’s best loved traditional potato dishes.  A bowl of mashed potatoes flecked with green scallions and a blob of butter melting in the centre is ‘comfort’ food at its best.


1.5kg (3lb) unpeeled ‘old’ potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders

110g (4oz) chopped scallions or spring onions (use the bulb and green stem)

chopped chives

350ml (10-12fl oz) whole milk

50-110g (2-4oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper


Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their jackets in well-salted water.


Meanwhile chop finely the scallions or spring onions or chives.  Cover with cold milk and bring slowly to the boil.  Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat and leave to infuse.

Peel and mash the freshly boiled potatoes and while still hot, mix with the boiling milk and onions.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper, beat in the butter

Serve in 1 large or 4-6 individual bowls with a knob of butter melting in the centre.  Scallion champ may be put aside and reheated later in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.  Cover with a lid or wet parchment paper while it reheats, so that it doesn’t get a skin.


Kale Crisps

Kale is still the coolest thing, it’s all over the place, on restaurant menus, in Farmers Markets, even on supermarket shelves – kale crisps are the snack of the moment. I’m not complaining I love kale and it’s super nutritious, we grow four varieties here at the school – Red Russian, Asparagus Kale, Curly Kale and Raggedy Jack.  I find curly kale best for this recipe.


Makes lots

250g (9oz) curly kale

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

salt, a little sugar


Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.


Strip the leaves off the kale, tear in large bite sized bits, approximately 5 x 5cm (2 x 2 inch) and put in a bowl.  Sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and sugar, toss and spread out in a single layer on two baking trays.


Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or so until crisp.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and crisp further.  Enjoy.



Black Bean, Pumpkin and Chick Pea Stew

One of the very best one pot dishes, what’s not to like about black beans, chick peas and pumpkin with lots of spices.

Serves 8


225g dried black beans

225g dried chick peas

225g fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

2.5cm piece of cinnamon stick

150g onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

450-700g pumpkin or butternut squash, cubed 2cm

400g fresh or tinned tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

pinch of sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 good teaspoon salt (it needs it, so don’t cut down)

freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoon freshly chopped coriander (fresh parsley may be substituted though the flavour is not at all the same)


Mint Yoghurt

300ml natural yoghurt

2 tablespoon fresh mint leaves


25cm round casserole dish


Soak the beans and chick peas separately, in plenty of cold water overnight.  Next day cover each with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes approx or until just cooked. Reserve 150mls of the cooking liquid for later in the recipe.


Cut the mushrooms into 3 mm thick slices.  Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a medium-high flame.  When hot, put in the whole cumin seeds and the cinnamon stick.  Let them sizzle for 5-6 seconds.  Now put in the onions and garlic.  Stir and fry until the onion is just beginning to colour at the edge.  Put in the mushrooms.  Stir and fry until the mushrooms wilt.  Now put in the pumpkin or squash, tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, pinch of sugar and cayenne.  Stir and cook for a minute.  Cover, and let this mixture cook on a gentle heat in its own juices for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat under the sauté pan.  Drain the beans and chick peas, reserving the cooking liquid.  Add to the mushroom base mixture, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, 2 tablespoons of the fresh coriander and 150ml of bean cooking liquid OR 150ml chick pea liquid.

Bring the beans and chick peas back to the boil again.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the beans and chick peas and pumpkin or squash are tender.  Stir occasionally.  Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.  Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander and mint.

Serve with mint yoghurt, steamed rice and a good green salad.


Scary Green Juice

I’m addicted to this ‘scary green juice’, super nutritious and insanely delicious.

Makes 450ml (15fl oz/scant 2 cups)


40g (1 1/2oz) curly kale, weigh after stalks are removed

10g (1/2oz) coriander leaves

10g (1/2oz) flat parsley

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon +1 teaspoon) honey

600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) apple juice


Whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor or Nutribullet. Serve over ice in a tall glass.


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