Creamed French Beans

Creamed French beans
From 100 great recipes – Farmers Market
By Jacqueline Bellefontaine

Ingredients
250g green beans (French or runner)
100ml double or soured cream
1-2 cloves garlic – crushed
½ tsp fresh thyme – chopped
Salt/pepper

1.    Top the beans and tail if required. Cook in lightly salt6ed boiling water for about 10 mins until just tender.
2.    Place the cream, garlic and thyme in a small saucepan and heat. Simmer gently for 5 mins.
3.    Drain the beans and place in a warm serving dish.
4.    Pour over the garlic cream and season. Toss to combine and serve.

Tomato salsa

Tomato salsa

1 chilli
450g tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil

Chop the chilli very finely and place in a bowl. Add the seeded and chopped tomatoes, chopped spring onions, parsley and coriander, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well. Refrigerate and serve cold. Use within 3 days.

Tomato & Roasted Pepper soup

Tomato & roasted pepper soup
From ‘Avoca Soups’

1 onion – peeled & chopped
4 tbsps olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
750ml veg or chicken stock
400g tomatoes
Sprig thyme
1 tsp tomato puree
Pinch ground cinnamon
2 red peppers, roasted and roughly chopped
1tsp lime (or lemon) juice

The secret of this recipe is in the roasted peppers. This brings out their natural sweetness which gives this soup its extra depth of flavour.

Saute the onion in the olive oil for about 10 mins, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min. Then add the stock, tomatoes, thyme, tomato puree, cinnamon and simmer for 20 mins.
Stir in the roasted peppers and then puree the soup in a blender. Reheat gently, add the juice to taste and check seasoning.

Creamed kale with soy sauce, onion and garlic

Kale is known for it’s health properties and is considered a ‘superfood’

Creamed kale with soy sauce, onion and garlic

Ingredients:

250g kale – thinly chopped, thick stalk removed

1 onion – chopped

2 cloves garlic – chopped

Mushrooms – sliced

Chopped fresh/dried chilli

Butter & olive oil

Cream

  1. Heat the butter and oil together in a deep pan.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté over a medium heat for about 5-6 mins, until softened. Add chilli if using and fry up for 1-2 mins.
  3. Add the chopped kale, soy sauce and just cover with stock. Stir, season with black pepper, and simmer over medium heat for 10-12mins, or until kale has softened and liquid has reduced down.
  4. Add some cream and cook with lid off until the cream has reduced.

Real parsley sauce

Recipe idea

Real Parsley Sauce
From Hugh Fearnsley Whittingstall – ‘River Cottage Cookbook’

He says – ‘Good parsley sauce is hard to find but easy to make. The secret is to flavour the mild for the béchamel sauce with bay leaf and veg.’

1 carrot
½ onion
1 celery stick
1 bay leaf
500ml full cream milk
50g butter
50g plain flour
A good bunch of parsley (100g approx when stripped) chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Grate the veg and place them in a saucepan with the bay leaf and milk. Bring to the boil, then take the pan off the heat and leave to infuse for about an hour. Strain out the veg and bay leaf.
Melt the butter in another pan and stir in the flour. Cook the roux gently for a couple of mins, then whisk in the milk, a third at a time, to get a nice smooth sauce. Let it simmer very gently for 5 mins. If it is too thick, thin it with a little more hot milk. Finish just before serving, by stirring in the chopped parsley and seasoning to taste with salt & pepper.

Dill tzatsiki

Dill Tzatsiki

A cool & fresh dip for pittas, baked potato or to serve with appetisers

Ingredients:

* 1 container (16 ounces) plain creamy yogurt
* 1/2 cucumber, not peeled, finely chopped plus a few thin slices
* 1/1-2 teaspoons salt
* 1 to 2 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill plus additional sprigs
* 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
* 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation:
In colander set over bowl, toss chopped cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt. Let drain at least 1 hour at room temperature. In batches, wrap chopped cucumber in kitchen towel and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Pat dry with paper towels, then add to bowl with yogurt.

With flat side of chef’s knife, mash garlic to a paste with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add garlic, chopped dill, oil, wine vinegar, and pepper to yogurt and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate. Serve tzatziki sauce chilled or at room temperature, topped with cucumber slices and dill sprigs.

Two little piggies…

Well, the best fun we’ve had in ages was the trip to Dundrum, Co Tipperary last weekend to collect two young pigs to complete our livestock (for now) for the smallholding. John Paul Crowe introduced us to his young pigs – who all look very happy and healthy on their farm outside Tipp town. His farm is in conversion and will have organic certification later this year. The breed is pietron – and the pigs are very cute – pale pink with black spots and stand up ears.

We decided to go for pigs for a few reasons – firstly because we need lots of manure for the garden and it is hard to get in any quantity (by the way, if you have any you would like to get rid of please get in touch!). Pig manure is one of the best sources of fertility of all the animal manures when it is well rotted on straw bedding. Also we do eat pork, ham, bacon etc… so we would be happier to know that the meat we are eating came from an animal that had a happy and comfy life. Lastly, we all really like pigs… is that too simple a reason??? John quite likes the idea that you can have a pet that can be eaten (I think that’s based on having to put up with two badly behaved dogs for a number of years)…

ryan_and_pigSo, the highlight of the trip to collect the two new additions was when one of them climbed out of the boot of the van and sat on the seat beside Ryan (one of our toddlers)… all the way home!

They are so very sociable and friendly – and really nice to have around. I know I don’t sound like someone who plans on eating them – will have to see how we all feel when the time comes…

Allotments in Murroe, Co Limerick

If you are interested in growing for your family but don’t have the space at home it is well worth thinking about getting an allotment. There is great potential to grow, learn and also to benefit from meeting other people trying to do the same – and share some ideas and tips along the way.

As promoted by Richard Corrigan on his series, City Farm everyone in Ireland is legally entitled to an allotment. Apparently lobbying your Co Council is the way to go about it – they are obliged to supply the space…

In the Limerick area Greenacre allotments are offering allotments in Murroe, Co Limerick. John Hassett is the contact name – look them up on www.allotments.ie for more info.

Carrot cake with lemon cream icing

Recipe idea

From Grandmas’ Best recipes
This cake is very easy to make – my favourite kind where you throw all the ingredients in together, with no fuss!

Ingredients:
125g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g soft brown sugar
2 eggs
100ml sunflower oil
125g carrot, peeled and finely grated
25g desiccated coconut
25g walnuts (we used ground almonds because we don’t like walnuts)
Walnut pieces to decorate (or whole almonds if substituting)
25g sultanas

Icing:
50g butter, softened
50g soft cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
22g icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Lightly grease a 20cm square cake tin (or 2lb loaf tin) and line base with greaseproof paper.
2. Sift the flour, salt and ground cinnamon into a large bowl and stir in the brown sugar. Add the eggs and oil to the dry ingredients and mix well.
3. Stir in the grated carrot, coconut, nuts and sultanas.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 mins, or until just firm to the touch. Leave to cool in tin.
5. Meanwhile, make the icing. In a bowl beat together the butter, soft cheese, icing sugar and lemon juice until the mixture is fluffy and creamy.
6. Spread over top of the cooled cake and decorate with nuts.

Sowing herbs

If your time and space are limited you can still add great flavour to your meals and great colour to your garden with a simple variety of herbs. These can even be grown in pots or window boxes – you don’t have to have a dedicated outdoor area. The following herbs all like to be started in the same way – coriander, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, chervil, basil… the best way to sow these is:
1. Fill a plug tray (tray with several small sections) with good quality compost (organic available from Jim Cronin, Bridgetown). Use another tray to compress the compost a little.
2. Water the tray well – avoid heavy waterfall – try to make it like rain – turn the rose so that the holes point upwards.
3. Sow a pinch of seed into each plug (approx 6 seeds – could be more for tiny seeds like oregano).
4. Sieve (sprinkle if you don’t have a compost sieve) compost over the seeds so that the final level of compost is level with the top of the tray.
5. Keep in a warm, light area – ideally a polytunnel/glasshouse or bright sunroom, until seeds germinate.
6. Grow on in the plug tray until the white roots are peeping out of the hole at the bottom of the tray. If you are going to plant outside, harden off the young plants (outside by day, covered or in at night for 5-6 days). NOTE: some plants eg basil are tender and will have to be kept indoors.
7. When hardened off you can move the plants into their final growing spot (eg. bed in garden, window box, large pot).
These herbs can all be used as cut and come again crops – so you can cut as you need and let it grow on.
Another note: Although kitchen window sills are warm – they are often too warm with not enough light – which leads to the problems many people have with whitefly or leggy weak plants. If you are keeping plants inside try to find somewhere as light as possible but not too warm.