I have to give a shout out to my friend Nuala for turning me into this, and I love it.
If you haven’t used Sichuan pepper before you can by it ready ground in most big supermarkets. You can also buy packets of the whole peppercorns, and are reddish black in colour. While there is some heat, they are also really aromatic and work nicely in lots of other recipes.
This makes a great mid week dinner and is ideal for anyone following a low carb diet. If you’re not then enjoy this with rice or noodles. I used frozen greens to save time.
250 Grams Minced pork
500 Grams Green beans blanched on boiling water
Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Red chilli pepper (finely chopped)
2 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Sesame oil
1 Tsp Ground Sichuan pepper
Blanch the green beans in boiling water and drain
Fry the minced pork in a large frying pan or wok until no longer pink
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for a further 5 minutes. If the mix starts to catch in the pan you can add a little water to stop this
This takes a bit longer than my normal recipes, but since we’re all stuck at home, time is the one thing we all have plenty of.
In my bid to use up what’s been hanging around my cupboards I found some pearl barley. I was craving carbs and since selfish wingnuts have cleared the super market shelves of rice and pasta this made a nice change. It takes a bit longer to cook, but is worth the time.
I used chicken thighs with the bones left in, and removed the skin to make “chicken crackling” . I know this is probably not especially healthy but sometimes a little indulgence does no harm, it’s not like you’re going to eat it everyday. If you want to give it s miss, this still makes a really delicious and satisfying meal.
150 Grams Pearl barley
4 Large chicken thighs
10 Grams Dried mushrooms
100 Grams Fresh mushrooms
250 Grams Spring greens (you can use broccoli, spinach or any other green vegetables you like)
250 ml White wine
250 ml Chicken stock
Large sprig of rosemary (finely chopped)
2 Cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp Oil
Large knob of butter
Salt and pepper
Soak the dried mushrooms in a small amount of warm water
Heat the oil and butter in a pan
Roughly chop the onions and mushrooms. Add to the pan and fry until soft. Remove from the pan and set to one side
Remove the skin from the chicken, and set to one side
Add the chicken thighs to the pan and seal on both sides
Add the barley, dried mushrooms and the water they soaked in, wine and stock to the pan. Cover with a lid, bring to boil and simmer over s low heat for 30-40 minutes (check the cooking instructions on the packet of barley, and cook for the recommended time
Trim the chicken skin and flatten on a baking sheet before sprinkle with salt. Place another baking tin on top of the chicken skin to keep it flat and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees for 20-30minutes, or until golden brown
if using Spring greens, remove the stalks and roll up the leaves, cut these into 2cm strips
After 30 minutes of cooking, check on the barley, adding more water if necessary
Add the garlic, rosemary, and spring greens to the pan, cover again and cook for a further 10 minutes until the barley is tender and has a creamy consistency, and check the seasoning (a bit like a risotto)
Serve chicken and barley with shards of the chicken crackling, you can also crumble it across the dish
I love shortbread, but I had horrendous flashbacks of trying make it in Home Economics class in school. It was a nightmare to roll out, stuck to the counter top, and was impossible to cut out and transfer to the tin neatly.
All this changed, when I discovered this recipe from the amazing women who run the The Edible Flower, in Ballyinahinch. This recipe is incredibly easy, doesn’t need to be rolled out, and is easy to cut into neat fingers for serving. These also make lovely little gifts if you fancy them up in a nice bag, or tin.
315 Grams Butter
350 Grams Self raising flour
120 Grams Caster sugar (plus a little extra to dust the finished shortbread with)
120 Grams Corn flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsps Cinnamon (optional)
Preheat your oven to 140 degrees
Melt the butter in a pam over a low heat, or in a microwave in short bursts
Weigh out all your other ingredients in a bowl and add the melted butter
Mix until it is a soft dough, making sure there are no floury bits
Press the dough into a 20cm x 30cm Swiss roll tin. You can smooth the top with a palette knife if you want it completely smooth, but don’t worry if you don’t
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes. Once cooked, cut into fingers, while still warm. Sprinkle lightly with a little caster sugar
Makes 28 large or 56 small fingers of shortbread. This shortbread freezes really well, and also makes really nice gifts for people
Sorry this event is now sold out. We still have places available at our 21st March Supper Club, and we’d love to see you
Ever wondered what to buy some of the people in your life. Is it better to have experiences in life rather than clutter. Why not buy someone a cracking night out.
Well December will be busy and stressful, January will be crap due to the whole shi**y weather and being broke thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to start February with a slap up meal and the chance to share dinner with a few new people who might be a bit of craic?
February’s supper club will be on the 1st of the month. We’re going Greek!
It may be baltic outside, but the food inside will hopefully transport you to sunnier climes. Greek food has great fresh flavours, and is tasty while still being fairly heathly.
We’ll have the fire lit and a drink to welcome you when you arrive. (We’re BYO)
Everyone eats the same 3 course meal (plus a couple of treats) at a communal table. So you have the chance to meet your fellow diners, and have a bit of craic. We also welcome for vegetarian/vegans, just let us know in advance so we can be sure we have something delicious for you. This menu is also mainly gluten free (and we can adapt things if you have problems with gluten, just let us know before hand).
Greek meze – Small sharing plates, think Greek tapas
Beef stifado (vegetarian option, moussaka)
Spanakorizo (herbed rice)
Flourless orange and almond cake, poached oranges, Greek yoghurt
I did the thing I normally do when I go to a farmer’s market. I bought way too much random stuff because I thought it looked good. I got it home and then had to think what I was going to do with it.
This is a scrummy mix of colours and textures. Delicious Autumn vegetables in a creamy sauce, with a little bit of heat from smoked paprika, topped with crunchy, cheesy garlic bread.
Who doesn’t like garlic bread (weirdos, that’s who). You can use any combination of vegetables you like, pumpkin, butternut squash, or green beans also work well.
I tried this recipe on one of my oldest friends. I was nervous because she owns a steak restaurant and is a confirmed carnivore and got two enthusiastic thumbs up (still sorry I forgot to send you home with a doggy bag Mags, but here is the recipe as promised). Go get your comfort food on.
1 Tbsp Olive oil
250 Grams Brussels sprouts
150 Grams Cavelo Nero (or Kale)
175 Grams Mushrooms
400 Grams Cream cheese
250ml Vegetable stock
1/2 Tsp Smoked paprika
Handful of parsley
25 Grams Butter
2 Cloves of garlic
50 Grams Cheddar Cheese
Cut the bottoms of the Brussels sprouts and halve. Remove the stalks from the cavelo nero and slice. Cook the sprouts and cavelo nero in the vegetable stock for 5 minutes, until just tender
Slice the courgettes, onions, mushrooms and pepper, and fry in the olive oil in a large frying pan for about 5 minutes until soft
Add the sprouts, cavelo nero and vegetable stock to the frying pan. Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the vegetables, and add finely chopped parsley and cream cheese
Mix until thoroughly combined
Crush or mince the garlic and combine with butter
Slice the baguette into 2cm slices, and spread with the garlic butter
Put the vegetable mix into an oven proof dish and top with the slices of buttered baguette
Top with grated cheese and bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees, for 30 minutes until golden brown
A friend recently suggested that I start a supper club in Belfast.
I’ve been to a couple over the years and honestly a great time at each. It was cheaper than eating in a restaurant. I met really interesting people from different walks of life and got to eat some great food.
Let me know if you think it’s a good idea. Have you been to other supper clubs, and what you thought of them. What worked, what didn’t? What you liked and what I should avoid. Maybe you run your own supper club, and if so I’d welcome any insights you might have.
I’m hoping you’ll be my focus group. So let me know what you think, and what you might like to see if I take the plunge.
A bit more “rustic” than I planned, but I put it down to me trying to make pastry with nuts in it. Save yourself the time and energy and use shop bought short crust pastry. It’s what I plan to do next time. This recipe might be best saved for the weekend, as it’s a bit more labour intensive, but it’s well worth the trouble, (I had to stop myself eating half of it).
If you’re a vegetarian cooking for meat eaters, they’ll love this. The rich and unctuous filling feels really meaty, and unlike a lot of tarts isn’t too eggy. This is delicious hot or cold.
1 Sheet of ready made short crust pastry
2 Onions (thinly sliced)
1 Tbsp Chopped rosemary
3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Olive oil
25 Grams Dried porcini mushrooms, (soaked in 50 ml of hot water)
200 Grams Button mushrooms (sliced)
50 Grams Gorgonzola (sliced)
50 Grams Hazelnuts (chopped)
150 Ml Double Cream
Salt and pepper
Grease a 23 cm loose based flan tin, roll you pastry until thin and line the tin, (chill in the fridge for 30 minutes)
Put the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 50ml of warm water and allow to soak
Take your flan tin out of the fridge and over the base with grease proof paper and add baking beans on top, (I use old lentils that had been hanging about). Bake blind in an oven heated to 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, and bake for a further 5 minutes, before removing from the oven
While the pastry is baking add the olive oil and onions to a large heated frying pan. Turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes
Add the button mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they were soaking in to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated, and leave to cool
Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat (the temperature should be 180 degrees again)
When the mushroom mix is completely cool, spread it evenly across the pastry base
Distribute the gorgonzola on top of the mushroom mix
Beat 2 Eggs, and add to the cream, season with salt and pepper, pour into the tart case and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts across the top
Put the filled tart tin on to the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the centre is set
Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting
I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where you are never far from the sea. Despite this as a nation we don’t eat enough sea food. We definitely don’t take advantage of the absolute heaps of sea vegetables and edible coastal plants we have access to
On a mild but rainy day, the immensely knowledgeable David (former National Trust Ranger, with a passion for coastal flora and fauna), was kind enough to share a small portion of his encyclopedic knowledge with me and a small bunch of other food nerds.
To make things even better David’s partner Celia, an extremely talented and well known chef in her own right, treated us to a fabulous meal centered around foraged food.
Who knew that trendy foods like sea purslane can be collected for free!, and scurvy grass was used as far back as the Romans to give sailors a massive hit of vitamin C on long voyages, (it also tastes like wasabi).
Other top discoveries were pepper dulse, which tastes somewhere between an oyster and black truffle, OMG it tastes so good.
All sorts of terrestrial plants such as sea spinach, sea radish, wild peas and orach all make amazing salad vegetables, and sea vegetables like channel wrack, and sea spaghetti are super tasty when lightly steamed and are bursting full of iodine, and other trace elements that are really good for you.
Who would have thought of baking fish in sea weed. Celia treated us to hake wrapped in sugar kelp and it was properly delicious. She also made us a feast of breads seasoned with seaweeds, dulse butter, wild garlic pesto, and great salads.
Get out and get foraging, make sure you check what you are picking, and don’t be a d’ck and over pick plants that are scarce. Other than that, go forage!
I live in Belfast, which is home to St George’s market (one of the best indoor market in the UK and Ireland). Chances are there is somewhere close to you that offers all sorts of food inspiration or tasty street food , so get out there and explore.