Vegetarian

Horseradish & Parsley Mashed Potato

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This is a perfect accompaniment to any beef or lamb dish. It’s not just the usual mashed potatoes… Yawn. Even saying those two words bore me. This is much more exciting and adds a great pairing with your chosen main dish.

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes

Price:  €5

Music I listened to: 

“No One”, Alicia Keys

“Smile Like You Mean It”, The Killers

“Going Under”, Evanescence

Wine I drank: Chianti

Serves:

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  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 1-2 tbsp horseradish (amount depends on your horseradish desire!)
  • Handful of chopped parsley
  • 125ml/4fl oz single cream
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Dash of milk
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Place the potatoes into a steamer and cook until very soft, about 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, place the potatoes in a bowl or large saucepan.

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Add the butter, chopped parsley, cream, garlic, milk and the amount of horseradish you yearn for!

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Mash the potatoes until creamy with little or no lumps in.

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Add salt and pepper to taste and stir. Done and easy!

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Categories: Side Dishes, Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Avocado & Cucumber Mousse with Cherry Tomato & White Truffle Oil Salsa

I never really understood why some people dislike avocados. Yes, yes I know; each to their own. But to me, they are just so damn delicious. They are creamy and nutty in flavour, so versatile and scrum-diddly-umptious in sandwiches, dips, salads etc, etc.

I’m not going to bore you with the nutritional facts of avocados because there are just so many positives and reasons to prove how unbelievably good they are for you. Yes, I can hear some people say ‘but they are so high in fat’?! Alright, they may contain 25% fat but this, my calorie conscious friends, is indeed the right fat. Ever heard of monounsaturated fat? Did you know this fat is good for you? Yep, it is! It basically reduces the bad (LDL) cholesterol and boosts the good (HDL) cholesterol. This fat is just so ‘fat-astic’!!!

(Ok, I’m sorry. I’m even face-palming myself right now for subjecting you to that pun. I’m sorry. Please forgive me).

So, here we have a recipe for Avocado & Cucumber Mousse with Cherry Tomato and White Truffle Oil Salsa. This is loosely based on a Mary Berry dish. Her example was more of a guideline really. I have changed the quantities, added different ingredients and of course, decided to add the divine white truffle oil to the salsa.

This starter is lovely, pretty and also a classy dish that is perfect for dinner parties! It’s made ahead so you don’t have to worry about preparing anything later but the salsa. It’s subtle in flavour but the truffle oil really accentuates the creamy, nutty taste of the avocado, the freshness of the cucumber and the sweetness of the cherry tomato salsa. Yummy!

So don’t delay! Get your ingredients ready and guac ‘n’ roll!!!

(Jeez, I’m really sorry again. I have a pun problem. I’m receiving treatment for it).

Difficulty: Easy – Medium

Prep and cooking time:

Mousse: Once cucumber has been drained with salt, prep/cooking is about 30 minutes then leave to set for at least 6 hours.

Salsa: 5 minutes

Price:  €10

Music I listened to: 

‘Supermassive Black Hole’, Muse

‘All My Days’, Alexi Murdoch

‘Brand New Day’, Joshua Radin

‘Mr. Brightside’, The Killers

‘Let Go’, Frou Frou

Wine I drank: Chenin Blanc

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

The Mousse

  • ½ cucumber
  • Packet of gelatin
  • 1 ripe avocado, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped (remove any dark bits)
  • 100g/3.5 oz low-fat cream cheese
  • 100g/3.5oz low-fat fromage frais or sour cream
  • 3 tbsp of good light mayonnaise
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 75ml warm chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill
  • Salt

The Salsa

  • 1 ripe avocado, stoned, peeled and roughly chopped (remove any dark bits)
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp white truffle oil
  • 280g/10oz organic cherry tomatoes, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped dill

Method

Grease the sides of 4 ramekins with a little oil. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthways. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon and chop up into very small dice. Put the cucumber in a sieve over a boil and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. The salt will dehydrate the cucumber to remove some of the liquid. Leave for about an 1 hour.

Follow the instructions on the box for your packet of gelatine. It should be about 11g-15g per packet and you only need 1. If for some reason you don’t have any instructions, the normal way of preparing the gelatine is to put it into a bowl and sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of cold water on it. Leave to sponge for about 10 minutes. Once sponged, stand the bowl in a pan containing a little boiling water to dissolve the gelatine.

Now, put the avocado, cream cheese, fromage frais, mayonnaise and lemon into a bowl and blend with a handheld blender or put into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the gelatine into the warm stock and mix together. Pour into the bowl and blend again until mixed thoroughly. Stir in the diced cucumber with the dill and then season with some salt as desired.

Pour the mixture into the ramekins, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight until firm.

So, it’s about an 1 hour before you want to serve your smart, little starter. Make your salsa! Mix all the salsa ingredients into a bowl and lightly season (if necessary). Cover and ignore this colourful goodness for an hour in order to let the flavours infuse.

Hour is up and it’s starter time! Run a thin knife around the ramekins, then tip the mousse onto a plate and shake to release from the ramekins.

Serve with the salsa.

Classy!

Categories: Starter Dishes, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Potato Rösti

Ah potato, you really are the most versatile vegetable. You can be boiled, roasted, baked, mashed or fried. Your guises are endless; one day you are a chip, the next day you are a mash, the next a crisp… You’re all over the place!! I try to serve my main meals with different ways of preparing you because when you are allowed to let lose, you really know how to shake up a boring dish. I love you in every form but one of my most favourite of your masquerades would be when you are a Rösti. (I want to emphasise the word ‘one’ as I can’t turn my back on a good roast potato or a dauphinoise. I just simply can’t)!

So having said that;

“Potato Rösti, please take one of the potato seats at the winner’s podium”!

Rösti is a Swiss dish consisting mainly of grated parboiled or raw potatoes (surprise, surprise) and was generally a breakfast dish for Swiss farmers but it has now been adopted by the Western World. It is served mainly as a side dish and can be glammed up in any way that suits those that devourer it. Spinach, eggs, ham, cheese, herbs and even apple can be added. A well seasoned and cooked Rösti really boosts a dish not only by just adding another texture and flavour but it also looks very smart for something that’s so simple to prepare.

This Potato Rösti recipe is my version of it. I like to add raw onion and garlic to the grated, parboiled potatoes as this adds more flavour to what can sometimes be a bland potato. (Sorry potato).

I generally serve this with another veg and some red meat or game. So good!

Difficulty: Easy.

Prep and cooking time: 30 mins approx

Price:  €3

Music I listened to: 

‘I love N.Y.E’, Badly Drawn Boy

‘Dare You to Move’, Switchfoot

‘Samson’, Regina Spektor

‘High and Dry’, Radiohead

Wine I drank: Chenin Blanc

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes, like Rooster or Kerr Pinks
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

 

Method

Peel the potatoes and cut them into large, equal sized chunks. Put them in a pan with water and some salt. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan. You do not want to cook the potatoes. You are only parboiling them to take the edge off. This will make them easier and quicker to fry. Set aside to cool.

 

Once cool, grate the potatoes into a large bowl. Be sure to grate these with the course side of the grater. This is the side that will provide the thickest grated potato. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper than carefully mix these ingredients. Pick up a large handful of the grated potato and make into a round, flat potato cake shape. If serving later, wrap each potato Rösti in cling film. Place on a plate and set aside.

So are you ready to cook the Rösti?! Well, pour a generous amount of the sunflower oil into a large frying pan, enough to cover the bottom. Heat frying pan to a medium heat and carefully place the Rösti in the pan. Keep an eye on its shape and gently manipulate it back into a round form should it fall apart when cooking.

 

 

It’s difficult to say how long it takes to brown each side as it all depends on your cooker, the potato and how parboiled they are so it’s best that you judge by sight. Once the potato is a lovely golden brown colour and firm enough to turn over without falling apart, gently flip the Rösti and cook the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

This should be about 6-10 minutes each side. 

Once cooked, place on kitchen towels and drain the excess oil. Serve on a warm plate and with your chosen meat or meal.

Simple!

Categories: Side Dishes, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Garlic Mushrooms with Spinach and Brie

Love mushrooms? What about the large ones? Do you love them too? Do you love stuffing them with whatever is leftover in the fridge and then throwing them into the oven? Yeah, me too.

Try this latest creation and it will use up that sad and lonely leftover spinach which just wants to call a new dish their home. It is an easy starter course if you decide to entertain your amigos with an evening of gastronomy and it’s also perfect if you are on a tight budget.

I like to serve this before a rich main and when I know I will be providing a comfortable 20 minute break between the 2 courses. Why? Well it is fresh and juicy and deceptively filling (only temporarily though) as the mushroom omits an impressive amount of water when baked and the tomato slices like to join in on the watery fun by releasing their own liquids. So when you take a bite, these flavourful juices release and add more bulk to your mouthful. This then gives you a momentarily satisfied fullness that lasts through the nice break until your main arrives.

Because it fills you for a brief period, I don’t bother serving it with anything on the side. It doesn’t require it. “But I want this as my main meal” you say! Well then serve it with a salad, flavoured rice, couscous or whatever your wee taste buds fancy.

Oh and just don’t do what I did when I made this the first time; I saw the tomatoes, the spinach, the mushrooms and the brie sitting in their respective positions in my fridge. My mind started to race; “What can I do? Hmmm, do I have garlic? Yep! Excellent, I know what I’ll do”. So I dashed to get my mushroom meal started and in my hasty preparation, I completely forgot to wash the spinach when I was rinsing the mushrooms. So what was meant to be a yummy, simple and smooth starter turned out to be a less succulent, uncomfortable, gritty mayhem. It looked pretty though. So I had another try and washed the spinach this time and yes! Success!! No grainy chaos to ruin the enjoyment of this dish and it was yummy. So this long story has a small tip… WASH THE SPINACH FIRST!

Difficulty: Easy

Prep and cooking time: 20 minutes

Price:  €5

Music I listened to: 

‘Perfect’, Pink

‘Never Think’, Robert Pattinson

‘5 Years Time (Sun, Sun, Sun)’, Noah and the Whale

Wine I drank: Chardonnay

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

  • 75g/3oz butter
  • 3 Portobello mushrooms or large field mushrooms
  • 125g/4-5oz spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves, finally chopped
  • 1 large beef tomato
  • 75g/3oz brie
  • paprika

Method:

Wash your mushrooms, spinach and tomato and pat dry with kitchen towel. Melt half the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the mushrooms on both sides until they start to soften but not burn. This should be about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking tray.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melt the remaining butter in the pan over a low-medium heat and add the spinach. Once the spinach has wilted (about 3 minutes), add the chopped garlic and season.

A little word of advice; be sure to season this well and to your liking as this is added to the centre of the mushrooms and acts as the main flavour so be sure it has just that and taste-test!! Once seasoned correctly, spoon the spinach on top of the mushrooms.

Ok so the mushrooms and spinach are prepared. Move on to the tomato; Cut 3 thick rounds from the beef tomato and fry in the pan on both sides for about 30 seconds and place it on top of the spinach.

So, to the brie; cut relatively thin slices of the brie, about 3 or 4 slices per mushroom.If serving this immediately, place on to the mushroom, sprinkle with a little paprika and put under a preheated, medium grill for 5 minutes.

If on the other hand, you are like me and want to serve this later, leave the mushrooms on the baking tray and put the brie slices aside. About 15 minutes before you want to put the mushrooms in the oven, place the brie slices on a plate and into the freezer. Slightly freezing the brie delays it from cooking quicker than the mushroom and prevents it from burning while the mushroom is cooking. You want the brie and the mushroom to cross the cooked finishing line together! After the 15 minutes, take the brie slices out of their cold hiding place and put 3-4 slices on each mushroom. Sprinkle with paprika.

Now, put it into a preheated oven at 220°c/220°c fan for about 8-10 minutes until hot and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven. Place on a warm plate sprinkled with more paprika.

And you’re done. Easy, easy, easy!

Categories: Starter Dishes, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

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