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Black Garlic Seafood Pancakes

Elaine from Foodbod wrote about how she’d used black garlic in a blog post a few months ago… BLACK garlic? What?

So it turns out the black garlic is just normal white garlic that has been aged for ages! And hey presto you have sweet balsamicky garlic.
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I contacted Balsajo Black Garlic and they sent me some to try! I received a couple of bulbs of black garlic and a tub of peeled garlic. Here’s a recipe that Dr Doolittle came up with based on an idea for Korean Seafood Pancakes…

Makes 4 pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour

1 cup water

1 egg

1 clove black garlic finely sliced

1 bunch spring onions finely sliced

1 sweet pepper finely sliced

1 red chilli finely sliced

Rapeseed oil

Seafood of your choice (I used prawns but this works great with any mix of seafood)

Dipping Sauce:

¼ cup soy sauce 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I used apple wine vinegar on this occasion) 1 spring onion, finely chopped 2  cloves black garlic, finely chopped (or minced if you prefer) ½ tsp chili pepper flakes (optional) good dash of honey. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce and give it a really good stir to combine the flavours and set aside.
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In a large bowl, mix the flour and water together, then beat in the egg. The batter should have the same consistency as pancake batter. Add the black garlic and half of the spring onions and sweet peppers.
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Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add a thin layer of rapeseed oil to the bottom. Pour a ladle of batter into the pan in a circle and cover with the seafood, chilli and remaining spring onions and sweet pepper.
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Cook for 6 minutes or until the top stops bubbling and the bottom is browned. Flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Cut all pancakes into quaters and get dipping! These are AMAZING and so quick and easy to make. The black sqidgy, sweet garlic gives them an extra edge (the the dipping sauce was great with a omlette the following morning too).
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Melissa xx

Pork and Fennel Burgers

Last week I watched Rory O’Connel’s new tv series ‘How To Cook Well’. He’s the co-founder of Ballymaloe cookery school.  I was mesmerised by his
Grilled Pork Burger with Fennel and Pistachios. They looked really unusal because of the mixture of flavours and textures he was using.

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I had to try them, so the night after the show aired, I did just that. They were amazing! I’d highly recommend making these burgers. I have a feeling they’ll be making an appearance at a barbecue this summer!

Ingredients:

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700g minced streaky or shoulder of pork
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1-2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, roasted and ground
2 tblsp chopped coriander leaves
40g pistachio nuts, shells removed
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Method:
Mix all of the above ingredients together. Fry a teaspoon of the mixture to check seasoning. Adjust as necessary.

Form the mixture into burgers, either 4 large or 8 small, and chill until ready to cook.

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Heat a heavy grill pan until quite hot and pop the burgers into it. Allow to become golden brown on one side before turning. Control the heat carefully and cook the burgers, turning occasionally until fully cooked through. This takes about 15 minutes and the burgers will feel firm to the touch.

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I served mine with sweet potato wedges.

Melissa xx

Tasty Tagine

I know that I’ve been a bit quiet of late; I’ve been preparing and writing my posts for my Advent Calendar in the 24 day run up to Christmas! I started this ‘tradition’ last year and really enjoyed it. So watch out, from Monday 1st December, I will post something Christmassy every single day!

Anyway, back to today… It’s turned really chilly in Ireland over the last few days, so what better way to warm up, then with a tasty tagine? Back in June, Dr Doolittle and I visited Marrakech. I still remember the sticky sweet, spicy taste of one particular tagine which had lamb, onion and dates in. It was delicious!

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This recipe is based on Nigella’s Lamb and Date Tagine from her book Nigella Christmas. We used diced beef instead of lamb and we used a spice mix brought back from our holiday instead of making Nigella’s. The ‘ras el hanout’ has a wonderful blend of cumin, chilli, paprika, cinnamon, tumeric and other  wonderful spices.

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Ingredients :
3-4  tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp Ras El Hanout
500g diced beef
150g soft dried pitted dates or pitted Medjool dates
150ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle
150ml water
1 sweet potato
1 red and 1 green pepper
2 teaspoons Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt, or to taste

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Heat the olive oil in the cooking pot of choice (if you don’t have a tagine, use a shallow casserole dish with a lid) add in the onions , letting them cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Add the ras el hanout and turn well in the onions. Turn up the heat and add the meat, turning it patiently in the pan so that it sears equally; this is why a wide, shallow pan is better than a narrow, deep one.

Pop in the dates, pour in the pomegranate juice and water, then add the salt and bring to a bubble. Finally, add in the chopped up sweet potato and sliced peppers. Put the lid on, turn down the heat to an absolute minimum on the oven/range; it’s important that this cooks ultra-gently for two hours.

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Nigella’s relish was gorgeous! The sweet pomegranate cut through the sharp raw onion and added a freshness to the spicy beef.

Red Onion and Pomegranate Relish:
1 red onion
60ml fresh lime juice
juice and seeds of 1 large pomegranate (or 60ml pure pomegranate juice from a bottle and 40g pomegranate seeds from a tub or packet)
salt, to taste

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Peel and cut the onion in half, then slice into very thin half moons. Put the onions into a bowl with the lime juice and pomegranate juice and let them steep for half an hour.

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Drain the steeped onion into a bowl, discarding the too-oniony juice, add the pomegranate seeds and season with salt. Sprinkle over the tagine and put the rest in a bowl. Serve the tagine with crusty bread or cous cous. And by the way, it tasted even better the following day!

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Melissa xx

Copper and Spices

I don’t normally blog on a Sunday and I certainly don’t write restaurant reviews- so what’s going on??? I woke up this morning with a full belly and a happy heart, so I decided that I had to tell you all why….

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Last night, Dr Doolittle and I went to a ‘south Asian’ restaurant called Copper and Spices in Navan, which is near The Glen House in county Meath. They have recently won the Yes Chef best Indian award.

As I hadn’t intended to write a review, I don’t have many photographs but the inside was dark, but warm with beautiful subtle lighting and a wonderful large Buddha canvas. The restaurant was small, but incredibly cosy and inviting, with the mumblings and laughter that you would find at any food gathering in India. We were sat by a window draped with a beautiful Indian fabric glittering in the soft light from the street outside. I felt at home.

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Our lovely waitress brought a delightful bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and we nibbled on crisp, crunchy broken up poppadoms served in little silver bucket. I loved this! I didn’t need to worry about breaking up the large poppadoms and have them flying across the table! A moreish fresh chilli onion salad and mango chutney accompanied them.

I’m gutted I didn’t take a photograph of what came next; a large fresh ‘fluffy’ prawn appeared as a little taster plate, with a fabulous chilli and garlic oil. It looked so pretty- but it was gone in a flash! Exquisite! Next came our starters of fish cakes and samosa. My little potato and pea pastry parcel was crammed full of cashew nuts, raisins, coriander, cumin and chick peas. Samosas have a special place in my heart and I didn’t think it was possible that anyone could make them as well as my Aunty’s do in Goa. However Chef Nitin Gautam and his team certainly surpassed my expectations. Dr Doolitte (the carnivore) couldn’t believe that there wasn’t any meat in it. He was also thrilled with is fish cakes and loved the fresh herbs that were surrounded by all the salmon and cod.

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For mains we picked Himalayan Curry which was packed full of tiger prawns, lemongrass, galangal, basil, onions, tomatoes & coconut milk and the Irish favourite Tikka Masala. Look, I had to!! The dishes were presented in beautiful copper dishes alongside balti pans with pilau rice and incredible smelling garlic and coriander naan. My chicken tikka masla was crammed full of succulent chicken pieces smothered in a sweet jaggery based sauce with tomatoes and fenugreek. It was divine! I’ve never seen so much meat (or fish) in a main course, it was very generous indeed. The prawn curry had notes of the Goan food served up by my family, the creamy coconut brought back delightful memories of my Aunty’s crab curry.

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After a relaxing little pause, we actually managed to eat dessert. I opted for the sticky toffee pudding; yes, I did seem like a bizarre choice in an Indian restaurant, but washing it down with some Masala tea seemed like a good idea. It was! The light fluffy spongy pudding had a hint of spice and banana. Dr Doolittle loved his panna cotta which was presented in a cute little kilner jar.

It was a delightful experience and I’m sure we’ll become regular customers! I should point out that I wasn’t paid to write this review, I’m just happy to shout about glorious modern Asian food.

Melissa xx

 

 

 

Rough Puff Pastry

I don’t normally post mid week, but this one is specially for Mr Fitz! Everything this man makes and posts makes me hungry. He cooks MY sort of food!

I made rough puff at the pastry course I completed recently. Once again I only have a couple of the ‘after photos’ of how this looks, thanks to my glorious failing sd card! Grrrrrrgggghhhh

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Ingredients :
200g strong flour not plain flour
a pinch of salt
150g cold diced butter proper butter
125ml ice cold water
Squeeze of lemon juice

Method:
Sieve the flour and salt together. Then mix do not rub the butter in. You want lumps to remain in the mixture.

Make a well in the centre and add some of the water to the bowl to form a fairly stiff dough using your hands. Don’t add it all at once, because you may not need it.

Turn out the pastry on to a floured table and roll into an ablong strip about 30cm x 10cm keeping the sides square. It should be about 1/2cm thick. Squeeze lemon down the middle of the pastry. Turn over and fold the top putter edge in to the middle and then do the same with the bottom edge. This should look like three layers.

Put a thumb print in the top this signifies your first turn, wrap in cling film and pop it in the fridge.

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Every half hour do it again; turn the pastry 90°, roll it out and turn the edges in, and thumb print.  You should always be rolling out in the opposite direction from the last time….. I did 5 turns altogether!

This pastry was amazing and so versatile. I made a ham and veggie pastry puff out of it. I sweated off some onion and some vegetables (I had peppers, garlic, aubergine) with salt and pepper. Then I added in a tin of chopped tomatoes and left to simmer for 15 minutes. Finally I threw in some ham and fresh basil at the end.

Once it had cooled a little, I placed a large dollop into the centre on the puff measuring a 4″ square. I folded it over and crimped the edges to give it a pasty look! I popped a few cuts/holes in the top for the steam to escape. Finally, I brushed the pasty with egg and place in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 mins.

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It’s time consuming, but well worth it. Rough puff is a great staple to have up your sleeve.

Melissa xx

Halloween Salad

Today is yet another bank holiday in Ireland, but I’m off to work so i’ll make this quick! I made this simple autumnal salad at the weekend to go with chicken and a cheese board. The sharp onion is perfectly matched by the bursts of sweetness from the pomegranate.

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My sort of cheese board

Ingredients :
1 medium onion
Handful of red cabbage
1 pomegranate

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Slice the onion and cabbage as thin as you possibly can and then as small as the pomegranate seeds. It’s no easy task, so aim for a rustic look! Cut the pomegranate in half, then take a wooden spoon and bash the top of the pomegranate over a bowl. Hey, if it works for Jamie Oliver, then it will work for you. There needs to be fairly even amounts of the three ingredients to give balance.

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Combine the three ingredients in a bowl and leave it to settle. The juice of the pomegranate seeds will seep out, softening the blow of the raw onion. Taste it. You might want to add a little salt or a splash of olive oil, or squeeze of lime. I didn’t, but you can. Then that’s it, eat away.

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Happy Monday!

Melissa xx

Simple Wild Garlic Supper

I’m back! It’s been a while since I stopped by Fiesta Friday, I just can’t keep up with partying! This week I’m bringing a quick and easy dish based on the wild garlic I found all around The Glen House.

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I took about 5 tablespoons of my wild garlic pesto and added it to some fresh pasta along with some chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper.

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You can eat it like this for a quick, tasty lunch or side dish.

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Or you can add a little peppered chicken breast, for a  scrumptious meal.

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It took me as long to cook it as it did to write this post…. I’ll show you why next week (spent all day gardening)!

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Might see you at Angie’s place for this weeks Fiesta Friday with the rest of my chicken and wild garlic pesto.

Melissa xx