Northern Ireland has many unique dishes like potato bread, soda farls, fifteens etc. The place has world class scenery and is luscious and green, but that’s mainly because it rains pretty much every day. We have numerous types of rain that range from soft pillowy drizzle, to sideways stingy rain that feels like someone is pinging your face with rubber bands.
Because of our unique weather system, we love carb heavy comfort food. The king of comfort foods is champ. Champ is basically mashed potatoes with milk made smooth and velvety by milk infused with with scallions (spring onions). Traditionally it’s served in a big mound with a well in the middle where you melt a knob of butter. I’ve heard of a few tweaks, like beating a raw egg into the potatoes and most families will make it how their Mum taught them. This is how my Mum made it. I love this just on its own, but champ and sausage is a really popular family dinner. There is basically nothing this doesn’t go with. In a lot of recipes fancy chefs tell people not to use the green part of the scallion. Champ is peasant food, so nothing is wasted. The green part of the onion is what gives the champ the distinctive green flecks.
1Kg Potatoes (pick a floury variety rather than waxy potatoes)
1 Bunch of scallions (spring onions)
250 ml milk
Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut into equal sized chunks
Put in a large pot of cold water and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are soft
Trim the tops and ends of the scallions, cut into 1cm slices and add to a pot along with the milk. Heat on a low heat for 5- 10 minutes (do not allow to boil)
Mash the cooked potatoes. Gradually stir in the milk and scallions until you get a consistency you’re happy with
Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if it needs it. Spoon a mound of the champ onto a plate and make well in the centre and add a knob of butter which will then melt into a gorgeous pool of golden deliciousness
I was doing another scan around my kitchen cupboards for something to make, and decided on samosas.
I love a samosa, those delicious little Indian flavour bombs are usually deep fried, but these are baked to make them a little healthier. This recipe is vegan, but you can use spiced lamb as a filling. I’ve used potatoes and peas, but you swap out the peas for green beans or spinach.
The first couple of samosas will probably look a bit wonky until you get into the way of making them. Don’t panic these will still taste great, and if you don’t want to serve them then they will be the cook’s perk!
For the pastry
225 Grams Plain Flour
2 Tbsp Oil or ghee
1 Tsp Onion (Nigella) seeds (optional)
For the filling
3 Large potatoes (peeled and cut into small cubes)
1 Large onion (finely chopped)
2 Cloves of Garlic (finely chopped)
Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
2 Chillies, (finely chopped, you can add more or less depending on how much heat you like)
4 Tbsp Oil
100 Grams Peas (I use frozen, and let them thaw)
2 Tbsp Coriander (finely chopped)
1 Tsp Salt
Add the oil, onion seeds, and flour to a bowl and gradually add luke warm water until you have a dough. Knead for 5 minutes, and then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large frying pan, and add the shopped onion. Fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, and then add the garlic, ginger, and chillies
Lower the heat and add the cubed potatoes, and a little water and simmer until potatoes are soft (you might need to add a little water as it cooks, but it should be a runny mix)
Add the peas, salt and coriander and check the seasoning before allowing to cool
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment
Once the pastry has rested, divide it into 8 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the ball into a thin circle. Cut the circle in half.
Pick up the half moon shape and wet the edges with a little water. Make a cone by pressing the edges together and fill the cone with potato mixture. Press the remaining edges together to seal the samosa, ending up with a triangle shape
Continue rolling out the pastry and filling the samosas until you are finished, placing the samosas on the baking sheet. Brush them with the remaining oil and bake for 20 minutes until golden and crispy
I first had this as a teenager when a school friend’s Mum made this one night when I was at their house. It was a taste revelation to me. Up until then I had only had corned beef (chipped beef in the US) in sandwiches.
I had the idea to make this when looking in a cupboard I found the strange shaped tin with the stupid little key and strange opening mechanism. Honestly, after all these years, why does corned beef have to be stored in these weird shaped tins. And don’t even start me about the stupid key thing you need to open it, that you cut yourself on every single time. I mean it, if anyone knows why this still happens please tell me.
Anyway, rant over. You can make this with ready made pasty if you want this to be super quick. I have included details for anyone who prefers to make their own pastry. It’s a good way to use up left over potatoes, and makes an easy inexpensive meal.
For the pastry
225 Grams Plain flour
100 Grams Butter (cut into cubes)
For the filling
300 Grams Potatoes (cooked)
1 Onion (finely sliced)
340 Gram Tin of corned beef
Salt and pepper
My hand are always really warm, so I’m not best suited to make pastry, this is part of the reason I add the flour and butter to a food processor and pulse until I get a mix that looks like bread crumbs (you can also use the traditional rubbing in method, but generally I’m too lazy for this).
When your mix looks like breadcrumbs, start by adding a little cold water at a time until the mix comes together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins. If you’re stuck for time or just can’t be bothered, it’s totally fine to use shop bought pastry
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Grease a 9 inch loose base cake/pie tin and set to one side, ready for your pastry
Remove your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it isn’t too stiff to roll out. While you wait on this, chop your onion finely, and cube your cooked potatoes (which should be cold), after you have wrestled your corned beef out of the tin and tried really hard not to scream f*ck at it, you should cube this as well
Mix the potatoes, corned beef, and onion together and season with salt and pepper
Put the pastry on a floured surface and cut approx 1/3 off and set to one side (this will be the lid for your pie)
Roll the remaining pastry out as thinly as possible, and make sure it’s big enough to fit your pie tin. Line the tin with the pastry, making sure that you have pushed into the edges
Put your corned beef mix into the lined pie dish, and then roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid. brush the edges of the pastry lining the tin with beaten egg and then place the lid on top. I press down the edged with a fork to make sure it’s sealed
Brush the pie with some more beaten egg (it will help it look pretty when it’s cooked) and add a couple holes to allow steam to escape. Place the completed pie on top of the baking sheet that has been heating in the oven (this help ensure the base if cooked).
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown
This recipe comes from one of my co-workers Ruth. She knows I love a good recipe and was kind enough to share this. It’s one of the things I like about food. Everyone needs to eat, and everyone has a favourite food. Many of my recipes come from people who just wanted to share something they really enjoyed.
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, and was probably developed to use up left over vegetables. I wasn’t that organised so I made this from scratch, but if you plan ahead and have left over veggies then this can be really quick to make. The name supposedly comes from the fact that cabbage and turnip can make some people a bit “windy”. Rumbledethump refers to the noises they may make. Thankfully this wasn’t my experience.
Rumbledethumps are traditionally fried, I oven baked these to make them a little healthier.
These make a great side dish or are delicious served with a fried egg.
500 Grams Potatoes (peeled and cubed)
200 Grams Turnip (peeled and cubed) – in England this is known as swede, but in NI we call it turnip)
1/2 Onion (finely sliced)
125 Grams Cabbage (finely sliced)
1 Egg yolk
50 Grams Cheddar cheese (grated)
2 Tbsps Oil
Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes and turnip until soft, drain and mash roughly before allowing to cool
Add 1 Tbsp of oil to a pan and gently fry until soft, allow to cool
Combine all the ingredients (except the remaining oil), in a bowl. Check the seasoning, I found this recipe needed quite a lot.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Get your hands into the mixture, and make 8 equal sized patties.
Set the patties onto a greased baking sheet. Brush with the remaining oil and bake for 25-30mins