Irish Potato Cakes / Potato Farls

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day by making these delicious potato cakes which take just 10 minutes to make and are  a great way to use up leftover cooked potatoes. They are as popular in this house as pancakes – delicious on their own or as part of a traditional Irish breakfast. This is what I call real fast food and I bet you have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!  The recipe that comes from a book that my mother had when she was in secondary school back in the 1950s called ‘All in the Cooking’. The pages are faded and falling out and unlike cookery books today there isn’t a single picture in it.

Makes 8 potato cakes Time: 5 mins preparation / 5-10 mins cooking

Ingredients

225g / 8oz cooked potatoes
15g / ½ oz butter (melted)
60g / 2oz plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Clarified butter* for cooking

How to make them

  • Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl
  • Sieve the cooked potatoes into the same bowl
  • Add the melted butter
  • Mix to a smooth dough
  • Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth
  • Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of a ½ centimetre
  • Cut into triangles (cut the circle of dough in half and then each semi-circle into triangles)
  • Heat the clarified butter in a non-stick frying pan
  • Add the potato cakes (4 at a time) and fry until golden on one side. turnover and fry gently on the other side.
  • Add some more butter and repeat with the other 4 potato cakes.

*Clarified butter doesn’t burn which makes it much easier to cook with. Just melt some butter in the microwave and use the clear liquid (the whey will sink to the bottom and can be discarded)

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Ribollita

 

This is just the job to warm you up on a freezing cold day – my last post was for a delicious comforting meaty stew however my good friend Liz has asked me for a vegetarian option and I think this would give a beef stew a good run for it’s money any day! One of the nice things about this dish is it is so quick to make plus it is a wonderful way of turning what are pretty much staple ingredients into a really tasty and wholesome meal.  The name Ribollita literally means “reboiled”, in fact an authentic Ribollita takes about three days to taste its best –  it was a way for thrifty Tuscan cooks to use leftover vegetables, bread and beans from the week.

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Leek, potato & spinach soup with chorizo

This is what you and your family need right now on these cold, wintery days. Warm, nutritious and comforting and really easy to make. Adding spinach to the soup has two purposes – it adds nutrients and it also gives the soup a lovely green colour. The fried chorizo cubes lift this ordinary soup into something special –  I adore chorizo but you could also use fried bacon pieces or if you want to make it fully vegetarian or vegan just leave these out and use water or vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.

Preparation: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 30/40 minutes

Ingredients

4 large leeks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped small
50g butter
850ml chicken stock (or water for vegetarian / vegan option)
150ml milk
Couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves (washed and trimmed of any tough stalks)
Chorizo – cut into cubes (or bacon pieces if you prefer – leave out for vegetarian / vegan option)

How to make it:

  • Trim off the tops and roots of the leeks, discarding the tough outer layer
  • Prepare the leeks by splitting them in half lengthways and slice them up quite finely, then rinse and drain them
  • In a large thick-based saucepan melt the butter on a low heat then add the leeks, potatoes and onion, stirring them with a wooden spoon so they get a nice coating of butter
  • Season with salt & pepper
  • Cover and let the vegetables sweat over a very low heat for about 10/15 minutes – key a very close eye on them so they don’t burn or stick to the bottom (this has happened to me in the past I have to admit!)
  • Add the stock and bring to a simmer, put the lid back on and simmer gently for approx. 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the milk and the spinach leaves and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Liquidise the soup using a blender.

To serve:

Heat the chorizo in a dry non-stick pan for 2/3 minutes (it won’t need any oil as it will release it’s own) until it is nice and crispy to serve. Enjoy!

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Sunshine vegetable stew

 

sunshine-veg-stew

You have only to look at the colours in this dish to get a nice warm feeling and that it would fit the bill perfectly for lunch on a cold Winter’s day. I made this dish to bring to work for my lunch and I got two of these containers so 2 days’  lunches were sorted. I really like to try and bring my own food to work for at least 2/3 days a week from a healthy eating point of view and also from the cost point of view – I can easily spend €50 a week on good coffee and bad sandwiches! An added bonus is that the ingredients (apart from the fresh coriander) are either store cupboard ingredients i.e. coconut milk, tinned chickpeas or vegetables that have a good shelf life i.e. sweet potato, butternut squash, onion, garlic. These are ingredients that I would always have in the press because they are so versatile and can be used in lots of dishes.  This stew is vegetarian and vegan so can go towards one of your weekly meat-free meals.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 10/15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
½ butternut squash, skin / seeds removed and diced
400ml vegetable stock
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Place a large pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil.
  • Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and sauté gently for 6-8 minutes until tender.
  • Add the garlic, turmeric and curry powder and cook for a further 2 minutes
  • Add the sweet potato and butternut squash chunks and stir until coated in the spices
  • Pour in the vegetable stock, coconut milk and chickpeas
  • Bring back to a steady simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  • Check the seasoning, stir through the coriander *and serve ( could also be served with rice to make a larger meal of it)

*If you are making this like I was to bring to work don’t stir in the coriander until you are re-heating it.

 

Ginger, honey & lemon tea

ginger-honey-lemon-tea

Happy New Year to each of you  and I hope that you are all looking forward to some good and interesting things in 2017. Most of all I wish you all good health for yourselves and your loved ones. Our house has been riddled with all forms of colds, ‘flu, coughs and sore throats for the last 3 weeks and my poor Mum has been in and out of hospital and has had an utterly miserable Christmas and New Year. So my very first New Year’s resolution of 2017 will be to appreciate good health whenever it arrives (and I dearly hope it will be soon!) It will be no surprise then that the first recipe of the year is a cold remedy! Continue reading

Simple Granola

granola-4
I just love my breakfast, always have, it’s one meal I never ever skip. I love to vary my breakfasts too so in any week I could have poached eggs, bacon & mushrooms (usually after my morning swim), scrambled eggs (with spinach or smoked salmon), porridge with fruit. At the weekend though I look forward to something even tastier. If I happen to have a ripe avocado I will have smashed avocado on sourdough toast with a poached egg and / or chorizo or a real treat for me is this delicious granola with Greek yogurt and fruit. It is so easy to make (you don’t need any cooking skills whatsoever) – basically toss all the dry ingredients (nuts, seeds & desiccated coconut) with olive oil and honey and bake in the oven for 20/30 minutes. Continue reading

Macaroon Bars

Macaroon bars 1

One of my favourite chocolate bars when I was a kid was a Macaroon Bar – shows my age! They are still available in some retro sweet shops and I bought one recently to see if they were still as nice. I was so disappointed and couldn’t believe that I had actually liked them, it was so sickly sweet. I decided then to have a go at making my own version which was surprisingly easy and ‘finger licking good’ if I say so myself!  To make them even more attractive they rock in at just 95 calories each, using natural sugars in the form of honey (or agave syrup) so they make a pretty guilt-free treat in my book!   I made them using dark chocolate with 74% cocoa solids – you can use any chocolate however the amount of honey / agave syrup you need will depend on how dark(% of cocoa solids) the chocolate is.  Continue reading