ArchiveMay 5, 2024

Anna Jones Cookbook ‘Easy Wins’

Today was a joyous day! We’ve just dug the first new potatoes of the season, they were planted in the greenhouse on January 2nd, 2024 (Solist, a blight-free variety) and are now ready to enjoy.

Digging potatoes, fresh from the soil, is for me one of life’s great pleasures, a magic moment. Where we planted just one potato back then, there are now anything from eight to twelve potatoes under each green leafy stalk. Once again, Mother Nature’s gift to all of us.
The hungry gap is almost over. The first of our beets are ready as is asparagus.
We spied the first tomato flower yesterday in the greenhouse, another exciting moment… a harbinger of deliciousness to come. We’ve planted twenty-three varieties this year, they’ll be available in small quantities in the Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop and our stall at the Midleton Farmers Market from about mid-July onwards with other new seasons organic vegetables and herbs as they become ready for harvesting. We only sell what we grow on the farm.
Look out for new seasons produce at your local farmers markets and indi shops and the growing number of farm stalls around the country.
Meanwhile, guess what’s just landed on my desk, Anna Jones new book, ‘Easy Wins’. This is Anna’s fifth book, she also wrote ‘One Pot, Pan, Planet’, ‘A Modern Way to Eat’, ‘A Modern Way to Cook’ and the ‘Modern Cooks Year’. Her books are sold in ten countries, have been translated into five languages and have won many awards, including James Beard, Fortnum and Mason and André Simon. Definitely a shining light on the culinary writer’s firmament – she’s the voice of modern vegetarian cooking. Anna believes  that vegetables should be put at the centre of every table.
I’m hoping that you’ll have access to beautiful fresh local produce by now, even better if some comes from your own garden, then you really ‘get’ the magic of fresh vegetables, You’ll want everyone to know you grew them and you won’t want to waste a scrap.
Anna’s new book is genius, she gives her golden rules for easy wins in the kitchen, super simple recipes, bursting with flavour and kind to both the planet and mindful of our crazy busy schedules. What’s not to like?
There’s practical advice on how to season your dishes, plus plenty of invaluable ideas for vegetarian swaps, as well as how to reduce waste and use less energy when cooking.
Her 12 ‘hero’ pantry ingredients all last a long time, are relatively affordable and easily available.
 As in all Anna’s books, the recipes are choreographed and carefully thought out so that they take the least time possible. Also dotted through the book are recipes from some of her friends and favourite cooks – I love that.
It was very difficult to pick just three recipes, but here are a few to tempt you to dash into the kitchen.

Tortilla Español with Herbs and Shallots

Recipe from ‘Easy Wins’ by Anna Jones published by 4th Estate.

Tortilla is one of my favourite things in the world to eat. A Spanish friend, Carolina, used to make it for us. She’d make a huge panful and we’d eat it for dinner warm and then cold the next day with vinegary tomato salad or in bocadillos. To me a tortilla is the perfect olive oil recipe, as frying the potatoes and onions in a generous amount of oil is key. The oil can be strained and kept for your next tortilla or any other savoury dish. A special mention here to my friend Kitty, who lent me her tortilla knowledge.

2 large onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

400ml extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp

6 medium waxy potatoes (650g), peeled and cut into 3mm­ thick slices

8 medium organic eggs

1 small shallot, peeled and finely diced

1 tbsp red wine vinegar 1 stick of celery, finely sliced

a small bunch of parsley (25g), leaves picked

Serves 4

Cook the onions.

Peel, halve and thinly slice 2 large onions. You want the slices to be equally thin, so they all cook at the same time. In a small, non-stick round pan (about 24cm) heat 400ml of your best extra virgin olive oil on a medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring every so often, for 5 minutes until they are soft and slightly golden. Remove the onions from the oil with a slotted spoon to a mixing bowl and set aside.

Cook the potatoes.

Cut 6 medium waxy peeled potatoes into thin 3mm-thick slices, again making sure they are the same size, so they cook evenly. Add them to the same hot oil and cook for 8-10 minutes, until they are soft, and a knife goes through with no resistance.

Drain the potatoes, keeping the oil in a heatproof bowl or jug for later. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the onions. No need to wash the pan as you will use it later.

Whisk and add the eggs.

Lightly whisk 8 medium organic eggs in a small bowl, then pour them over the warm potatoes and onions and stir gently to bring everything together. Season well with a good pinch of flaky sea salt, then cover with a plate that snugly fits over the bowl to rest for 10-15 minutes. This is a really important stage, as it makes everything thicken up, meld together and cook evenly.

Cook the tortilla.

Once the mixture is rested, heat the same pan on a medium heat with 2 tablespoons of the oil you used earlier. Pour the egg mix into the pan and turn the heat down to the lowest setting for 1-2 minutes. Run a spatula around the edges a few times to make sure it’s not sticking, then leave to cook for around 4-6 minutes until you can see that the bottom and edges are setting.

Flip the tortilla.

Give the pan a shake to make sure the bottom hasn’t stuck, then place a plate that’s larger than the pan over the tortilla, cover your hand with a tea towel and carefully but confidently and quickly flip the tortilla on to the plate.

Slide the tortilla back into the pan, tucking in its edges with a spatula to get the characteristic rounded shape. Continue to cook over a low heat for a further 4-6 minutes until just set around the edges but still a little soft in the middle. Slide the tortilla out on to a plate, then leave to cool while you make the salad.

Make the parsley salad

Put 1 small finely diced shallot in a bowl with 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil

and mix until the shallot is coated. Add 1 finely sliced stick of celery and the leaves from 25g parsley, toss together once more and pile on the tortilla.

Roast Spring Vegetables with Mustard Cheese Sauce

Recipe from ‘Easy Wins’ by Anna Jones published by 4th Estate.

This is a plate of everything that I find comforting. Roast broccoli with its crispy roasted flowery ends, and roasted spring peas and asparagus with a cheesy mustard sauce that brings it all together. The mustard lifts the flavour and puts a bit of punch into the plate of comfort. Some roast herbs add texture and fresh dimension.

Serves 4

a bunch of purple sprouting or Tenderstem broccoli (200g)

1 bunch of asparagus

150g fresh, unpodded peas 4 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp fennel seeds a few sprigs of thyme (5g), leaves picked

300g creme fraiche or oat creme fraiche

50ml whole milk or oat milk

175g mature Cheddar or vegan Cheddar-style cheese, grated

2 tbsp Dijon mustard 10g unsalted butter or vegan block

½ a bunch of parsley (15g), leaves picked

½ a bunch of sage (15g), leaves picked

½ a bunch of tarragon (15g), leaves picked

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Prepare the vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 240°C (220°C fan).

Cut 200g purple sprouting or Tenderstem broccoli into florets, then trim any tough bits from the stalk and slice the stalk into 1-2cm thick pieces. Trim the tough ends from 1 bunch of asparagus.

Roast the vegetables.

Put the broccoli, asparagus and 150g of unpodded peas into a large roasting tray with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds and the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then toss together so the vegetables are all evenly coated. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Make the sauce.

Meanwhile, put 300g creme fraiche and 50ml milk in a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer over a medium heat. Turn off the heat, add 175g grated Cheddar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 10g unsalted butter and stir until the cheese is melted and you have a cheesy, mustardy sauce.

Roast the herbs.

Remove the broccoli and asparagus from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. On a low-sided/flat baking tray, mix the leaves from ½ a bunch each of parsley, sage and tarragon with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then spread them out on the tray so they are all in one even layer, with no leaves overlapping. Bake in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the herbs have crisped up but are still green. Keep a close eye on them as they can overcook and turn brown very quickly.

Bring everything together.

Spoon the cheese sauce on to the base of a large serving platter or on 4 plates, top with the roast vegetables, the crispy herbs and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve with bread for mopping up the sauce.

Miso Maple Beetroot with Goat’s Curd

Recipe from ‘Easy Wins’ by Anna Jones published by 4th Estate.

We so often think of miso for Japanese dishes, bur miso is such a versatile flavour that I have found it works incredibly well in lots of other countries’ cuisines, from satay sauces to salad dressings. Here, miso pairs with some classically British ingredients. Roasting beetroot in this maple, miso, lime and mustard dressing creates a crispy, crunchy, caramelised umami-sweet coating to the beetroot which counters the earthy character inside. Paired with a crunchy celery and apple salad and served with crumbled goat’s curd or cheese, this plate has got all the textures and flavours in one place.

Serves 4

2 tbsp maple syrup or runny honey

3 tbsp white miso paste

3 tsp wholegrain mustard

2 unwaxed limes

4 raw beetroot, peeled and quartered

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 sharp, crunchy apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced

3 sticks of celery, finely sliced, and some leaves if possible

200-300g goat’s cheese or curd sourdough bread, to serve


Make the miso maple dressing.

In a small bowl, mix together:

2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey, 3 tablespoons white miso paste, 3 teaspoons wholegrain mustard and the zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lime.

Roast the beetroot.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Quarter 4 peeled raw beetroot and put them into a shallow baking tray. Pour over 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss in the miso maple dressing, making sure all the beetroot pieces are evenly coated. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes.

Make the celery and apple salad.

Halve, core and thinly slice 1 sharp, crunchy apple. Put in a bowl with

3 finely sliced sticks of celery, the zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lime,

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of flaky sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Add the celery leaves too if you have some.

To serve

Serve the beetroot with 200-300g soft goat’s curd, a pile of the celery and apple salad and, if you like, some toasted sourdough for scooping things up.


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