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Archive for the ‘All things food’ Category

We spend a lot of time trying new recipes, especially in the winter months.  Some, but not all, are with a view to providing guests with new experiences, sometimes though you just need to spice up the regular ‘go to’ dinners that we have ourselves.

This beef dish has been made many times in recent weeks, partially, because we really like but also because I’ve had a damned hard time getting a decent photograph to share with you.  See the suffering we do on your behalf!  i’ve finally got a couple that are good enough to share.

It is cooked in two stages, which I find handy… I can prep it ahead and then do the final stage when outdoor jobs are done.

I promised our friend, Lily, over at Picado Mexico, that I would not refer to it as Mexican food… it isn’t.  It is more akin to what I remember as Tex Mex from a couple of visits to California.

Ingredients:

  • 450 gr minced beef
  • Vegetable or Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (or chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 400 g tin of tomatoes
  • Cheddar
  • Pickled Jalapeños

Method:

In a saucepan heat oil and cook onions gently for a few minutes, add in garlic, then beef.  Continue to cook until beef is nicely browned.

Add the various spices and seasoning.  Mix well.

Add tin of tomatoes, and continue to cook for about 20/25 minutes.

When you re ready to move onto next stage grease a casserole dish and add in your beef mixture.  Grate cheddar on top, and sprinkle over the Pickled Jalapeños (our local Aldi has jars of these at the moment or you can get them from Picado Mexico on line).

Bake in oven for c. 25 minutes, until cheese is golden.

Serve with sour cream and guacamole.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Hoisin sauce

January is generally our ‘quiet’ month, so it is the month we try to do some catch up on maintenance jobs and also take time to try out new recipes.  For whatever reason we’ve kind of got an “Asian” theme going on with lots of the recent recipes… I promise I will share them with you over time.

This hoisin sauce came about because we’d had one of our own ducks for Christmas dinner and leftovers were in the fridge.  I mentioned to Alfie that it would be fun to try to recreate the Peking Duck that you see in most Chinese restaurants here.  So, fair play, off he went on the search for recipes.  He found a recipe for Chinese pancakes so we made our own, and he also found this recipe for hoisin sauce.

We found the sauce a bit sweet for our tastes on the first making, so second time around we adjusted the sweetness.

With Chinese New Year just around the corner (5th February), you have plenty of time to give it a go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Crunchy Peanut Butter (we are using the one from Aldi that doesn’t contain palm oil)
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. black strap molasses (if you prefer sweeter, use honey)
  • 2 tsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Chilli paste
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tbsp water

Method:

Blend all ingredients (except cornflour and water) together to make a smooth(ish) paste.

Place in saucepan and heat gently.  Add in the cornflour and water stirring constantly to mix through, if the sauce starts to get too thick add a little boiling water.

Let us know if you try it, and how you like it.

 

 

 

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As we head into the madness that is the shopping before Christmas, I thought I’d share some observations.  Even if you have all your grocery shopping done for now, it might be worth considering for a ‘resolution’ for 2019.

How many of you check the ‘per kg’ weight on items?  And it is not just the ‘kilo’ weight, often I have seen where the 6 pack is more costly than buying individual bottles!

I’ve had discussions with various friends recently, and it seems some do check and others don’t.

Well let me tell you you should.  I recently was on my way to the check-out with my ‘special offer’ on dog food… when I realised I was paying close to 50% more than buying the regular stuff!

Here are two recent examples.

In one supermarket recently they had a 90 g packet of prosciutto at €2.49. Similarly they had the ‘Christmas’ party pack with 150 g….. and the cost of that was €4.99!  So in other words you could buy 180g (in 2 packs) for €4.98!!!

This is the best one though from Aldi, and it features regularly in our local store.

You can buy a 1.5 lt bottle of Malbec for €16.99…. or, wait for it ….. you can buy a 75 cl bottle for €7.99…. exactly the same vintage, producer, etc.

Argentinian Malbec 1.5 lt

 

Argentinian Malbec 75 cl

Obviously they don’t think we read the labels…. and obviously some of us don’t!

My advice …. look twice at what is on offer, and have a wonderful Christmas.

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You’d have to be living in a bubble to not know tis pumpkin season!  Our pumpkin season started quite early as I had planted a couple of Hokkaido pumpkin plants in the polytunnel this year, and they gave us lots and lots of fruit.

Just as well we like this pumpkin… and by the way, it stores really well in a cool, dark press… if it gets a chance to.

As we had a busy time through September, and even into early October, with B&B guests this recipe featured quite a bit.  It is definitely a keeper!

The original recipe from Olive Magazine features butternut squash, but let me tell you it works just as well with pumpkin.

If you are carving a pumpkin this weekend, try this out with your dinner.  It is totally yum.

Creamy Pumpkin Gratin

Ingredients:

  • Hokkaido pumpkin – peeled and thinly sliced (I use a mandolin)
  • 300 ml cream
  • 150 ml milk
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • A bunch of sage leaves – chopped

Method:

Heat oven to 180 deg. C

Prepare your pumpkin.  Grease an ovenproof dish, and arrange your pumpkin slices.

In a small saucepan heat the cream, milk, mustard, chilli, garlic and sage for a few minutes.  Stir well to incorporate the mustard.  Pour this liquid over the pumpkin.

Bake for 20 minutes or so, take your dish out of oven and press the pumpkin down into liquid (I use an egg flip for this).  Return to the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

You can leave the gratin to sit for a few minutes before serving.

 

 

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Marinated Courgettes

Who plants courgettes/zucchini, and then ends up wondering what to do with all the produce?  Is there a person in the world who has got the balance right on how many plants to grow for their family?

If you grow them, I can put money on it that someone in the house is saying ‘not courgettes again!’

When I shared the Courgette Scarpaccia a couple of years ago, lots of you tried it, and I know it has become a favourite in this house and in many others.

Well folks, I’ve another courgette recipe to share with you.

It too has become a welcome favourite in this house, and it works on so many levels.

The original recipe came from Olive Magazine, but as always it has evolved and changed here in Redwood.

Marinated Courgette/Zucchini Salad

Ingredients:

  • A medium courgette
  • Olive oil – plenty of it
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Clove of garlic – bruised

Method:

Cut the courgette into slices of 7 to 8 cm long, and half a centimetre in thickness.  Heat a griddle pan to high.  Brush one side of each courgette slice with olive oil and place oil side down on pan.  Griddle for 4 to 5 minutes.  Brush upper side with oil, and turn over for a further griddle.

Arrange your slices in a nice shallow serving dish.

Mix the rest of your ingredients together and pour over your sliced courgette.

This is all best made ahead, and left to sit for an hour before serving.

(Note:  I do tend to warn people about the lump of raw garlic in the dish… it is not something I’d like to bite into!)

Give it a try and let us know if you enjoy!

 

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We offer guests the option of joining us for dinner when they come stay.  If they decide to take up this offer I ask about food likes and dislikes.

The most usual answer to that question would be that they don’t eat ‘offal’.  Now we do, but I don’t think I would ever randomly serve it up to guests.

Then there are the people who don’t eat fish. Those who only eat ‘white’ meat …. pork seemingly comes under that classification!!! (What kind of pork are they used to???)

We’ve had some interesting challenges in the food department.  There’s been the nut, dairy and egg free challenge.  The latest was dairy, sugar, salt and red meat free diet… that was somewhat of a challenge but we managed it.

More and more people are saying that they’d like something ‘traditional’.  Now here’s a question for you…

  • If you are Irish what do you classify as a ‘traditional’ Irish dinner?
  • If you are not Irish, but travelling to Ireland, what would your expectation of a traditional Irish dinner be?

I think it is fair to say that Alfie and I really don’t do much that is ‘traditional’ Irish food. We have on occasion done ham (usually finished on the bbq!) with the potatoes and vegetables.  I’ve also done stuffed pork steak with vegetables as a ‘traditional’ option.

As Irish as it gets here

Summertime traditional?  I don’t know.  My childhood memories would be of salad plates with lettuce, ham, tomato and probably a hard-boiled egg.

Give us your answers….

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The most important meal of the day.

Certainly one I enjoy, I would rather be late for an appointment than skip breakfast!

Now that we are doing bnb, breakfast has become even more important.  The guests’ breakfast that is.  Ours on the mornings we have guests staying may never happen!

I was listening to Georgina Campbell who runs the annual Irish Breakfast Awards on radio some months back, where she was asked ‘how can you go wrong with breakfast?’.  I loved her answer!  ‘Let’s start with the orange juice’!  And how right is she?  Another guest on that radio programme who I think was a chef at a hotel, pointed out that you can give guests the best dinner in the world, but if they stay overnight and have an awful breakfast… that is going to be their abiding memory.  Again how right?

Here at Oldfarm, I am generally the breakfast cook.  Not everyone wants a ‘cooked’ breakfast, but we always offer freshly squeezed juice, homemade granola and homemade yoghurt.  Then if a guest wants there is the ‘cooked’ option

I never start cooking breakfast until the guests come down stairs.  Is there anything worse in the world than breakfasts that have been kept ‘warm’ somewhere!!!  Yuck!

This is what an Oldfarm breakfast consist of …. take all, some or none!

 

Freshly squeezed orange juice

Homemade granola with homemade yoghurt

Fruit and Yoghurt

seasonal homegrown fruit – fresh or stewed

Poached Egg

Eggs – any which way – from our own hens

Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Sausages and/or bacon (subject to availability) from our own pigs

Potato Cakes

homemade jams and marmalades, and maybe some of our own honey

Homemade Breads

Selection of homemade organic breads

Tea and/or coffee – real tea (with leaves) and real coffee (French press or Keurig)

Our guests enjoy their breakfasts…. well so they tell us!

When are you coming to stay?  We promise a damn fine breakfast!

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