‘cheffactor.ie’ competition – votes needed!

A few things came together today which led me to enter a competition for a cookery course in Ballymaloe that I would dearly love to win… I have the ingredients – I would love to train to make the most of them…

SO – having entered a photo of me, Fionn and a dish I prepared, I now need as many people as possible to vote for me, by logging on to www.cheffactor.ie and voting. If you notice that the photo is a little offside it’s because it was taken by Ryan (Fionn’s 4 year old twin brother)… we had to get a high angle and he was up for the challenge! I think he did a great job…

Everything in the photo was grown & homemade here – the bread, the ingredients for the tart (garlic, leek, spinach, eggs), the tomato chutney, the rocket, the vinegarette, the flowers – even the chopping board was made by John… So – please give your support and vote for Elaine’s leek, spinach and feta tart on www.cheffactor.ie.

I will make cake for you when I get trained up! THANK YOU!!!

Ordering produce – note

We will not be open for orders for Friday 19th or 26th August.

Our produce is now available by preorder via email, text or phone, if possible by Thursday for orders to be collected on Friday. Please see the updated list of ‘this week’s produce’ for current produce available for order.

Herbs, flowers and plants for your garden

We are sowing a large supply of salads, leaves, herbs and flowers at the moment.

The list of young transplants ready for your garden and plants that we will have ready in the next month is:
Pot herbs – 1l pot:
Coriander End April
Basil End May
Clary sage
Bronze fennel
Veg plants:
Mixed garden pack:

Ready to plant out tailor made pack for garden –
Lettuce, leeks, scallions, cabbage, courette, pumpkin, broccoli, kale, beetroot, spinach Mid May
Courgette plants Mid May
Pumpkin plants Mid May

We are also making up a range of herb and flower window boxes and bowls – these can be made to order from early May.

Please contact Elaine for further info. – 087 6187908

‘soup box’ winter offer for 10 euro

We are introducing a new veg box for winter produce, with the aim of keeping cost down, whilst still providing wholesome core winter veg to supply a family.

Celery or celeriac

This will be worth a total of 11.50 – costing 10.00 per box.
It is available for collection only every Friday 12 – 5pm

Carrot, tomato & Orange soup

This soup was in this week’s Sunday Independent, under the title ‘Hello Sunshine’. I made it today – all in the house loved it. Definitely a sunny and warming comfort soup.


40g butter
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, chopped
500g carrots, peeled & chopped
200g potatoes, peeled & chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
900ml chicken stock
400g chopped tomatoes (tinned are fine at this time of year)
Juice of 2 oranges (3 if you prefer)
3 tbsps chopped chives
200ml creme fraiche – or use cream to finish

1. Put butter & oil into a heavy pan. Add chopped onion and saute without browning. Add chopped carrots, potatoes and celery.
2. Season with salt & pepper. Add sugar and cook very gently with lid on to sweat the veg for about 5 mins. Stir occasionally.
3. Stir in the cumin, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, lower heat and cover the pan with a lid.
Cook until the veg are tender, about 20-30 mins.
4. Blitz the soup in a blender and return to the pan.
5. Add the orange juice and reheat.
6. Taste and adjust seasoning as required. Stir in 2 tbsps of the chives and some of the creme fraiche.
7. To serve, sprinkle with a little chives and creme fraiche or cream.

Sowing for Spring 2011

2011 growing season was officially launched today with our first bed of tunnel potatoes sown – first earlies, Orla. It’s always a great feeling to have the first potato bed in the ground. And so off we go again for the year…

Together with the autumn sown seed we now have a few crops underway – garlic, beetroot, onions and broad beans are also coming on well from October sowing. It’s a help to feel at least a part of our Spring work is underway.

Plenty still ahead of course… the first of the spring salads and spinach will be sown in the morning and put onto the heated cables to germinate for March planting.

Parsnip & Pancetta Tagliatelle with Parmesan & Butter

Parsnip & Pancetta Tagliatelle with Parmesan & Butter

Thanks to Kathy for this recipe – it is a great combination of sweet parsnip with salty parmesan and bacon, and is a very child friendly supper.

12 slices of pancetta of dry cured streaky bacon (smoked optional)
1 handful fresh rosemary
4 good knobs of butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 parsnips, peeled, halved and finely sliced lengthways
450g/1lb dried tagliatelle
3 good handfuls of grated parmesan
Sea salt & grated pepper

In a large, non-stick frying pan fry the pancetta/bacon and herbs in half of
the butter for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and parsnips. Cook for a
further 3 minutes on medium heat, until pancetta is slightly golden and the
parsnips have softened nicely.

Cool pasta, drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Mix the pasta
with the parsnips and pancetta and stir in the rest of your butter and the
Parmesan. Adding a little of the cooking water to loosen the mixture and
make it creamy and shiny Season to taste.

Recipe index – season by season

At this time of year it can seem that the range of Irish produce is limited by comparison with the endless possibilities of mid summer, but there are loads of varied and really tasty recipes using winter produce. It just requires a bit of thought to break out the habits that we can fall into when we think of a particular ingredient and how it can be used.

With this in mind I am working on an index of recipes that I have come across in various books and from customers and friends that use ingredients in season in Ireland during that season. I will break it into each of the four seasons and hope to add to the index as I find new ideas over the year. You can see the index under it’s own heading on the website subject list.

Please send on any ideas that you would like included. Some of the recipes are already detailed on the website – if you see a recipe that you would like, but I haven’t yet added the detailed instructions please feel free to contact me – it will prompt me to type up the full recipe!

Ithaca pie

Ithaca Pie

This recipe was given to me by one of our customers – thank you Kathy! I have made a smaller version of this, using ready made puff pastry and making it into a roll. It worked out very well and was delicious. Ideal to serve sliced for parties, with a side salad.

1 cup = 8 oz

Adapted from In Season by Sarah Raven

Serves 12-15 (as a main course)

This recipe is for 12-15 people. You can halve it and make the pie in a standard 9″ x 13″ pan. If you do this, check the pie at 30-45 minutes.)
For the crust:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 eggs, beaten
Ice-cold water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
For the filling:
2 pounds spinach, chard, kale (one, or a mixture of all, of these greens)
Large bunch of dill, finely chopped
4 tablespoons chopped mint
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup olive oil
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
1/2 cup long-grain rice (or brown rice or bulgur)
6 ounces feta (optional)
Salt and pepper
1. Sift the flour with the salt and rub in the butter or pulse in a food processor until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add enough beaten eggs and ice water to bring the dough together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (can be done a day in advance).
2. Remove the tough stalks from the spinach, chard, and kale. Coarsely chop the leaves and mix with the finely chopped herbs. Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil in a large pan until tender. And add all the greens, including the scallions and leeks. Mix well with most of the remaining oil. Incorporate the uncooked rice (or bulgur) and take off the heat. Season well with salt and pepper.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough in two (one piece slightly larger than the other) and allow it to warm up for a minute or so. Roll out the dough–on a floured surface–as thinly as you possibly can.
4. Roll the larger piece around a rolling pin and transfer it to the base of your baking pan. Make sure that there is some pastry hanging over the side of the pan.
5. Add the filling and crumble the feta over it (if using). Cover with the other layer of dough. Crimp the two layers together by brushing with a little water and pinching around the edge.
6. Brush a little oil over the top and scatter with sesame seeds (if using). Prick the surface with a knife. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for just over an hour, until the top crust is golden brown.
This is delicious once it has cooled a little and is perhaps even better eaten cold the next day. It’s also excellent for feeding lots of people at a picnic.
A note on cutting chard. When cooking chard, you want to be able to enjoy both the leaves and stem, however, the problem can be that they cook at different rates. Instead of winding up with perfectly cooked leaves and undercooked stems, or well-cooked stems and over-cooked leaves, try separating them so they can both be cooked properly.
First, remove the leaves from the stem:

Then, stack all the leaves on top of each other and roll them up:

Next, cut through the roll so that you wind up with thinly shredded pieces
Lastly, dice up your stems as you would celery:

When you go to cook the chard, cook the stems first. Once they are almost done, add the leaves and cook until tender. This way, both parts will be cooked perfectly.
After sauteing the filling, you roll out the dough, assemble the pie, and bake.
The result is a deliciously flaky crust, chock full of chard (or whatever other greens you may decide to use), accented by pungent dill and salty feta.

Roasted radishes

from ‘The great big veg challenge – how to get your children eating vegetables happily’ by Charlotte Hume

This is a great book, geared towards using every veg from a-z in a child friendly way. Really nice recipes that give regular veg a twist.

A different look at radishes – roasting them softens their heat and brings out a gentler and sweeter flavour. Serves as a side dish:

750g radishes, halved
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2-3 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 190c.
Place the radish halves in a deep baking tray.
Add the whole cloves of garlic, then cover in the sesame oil, chilli powder and smoked paprika. Add a pinch of salt.
Stir well to make sure they are coated in the oil and seasonings.
Roast in the oven for 30mins.
Halfway through, stir them round to make sure they are evenly cooked. Serve hot.