Salade d’Anniversaire!

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Recession Bites is a year old today. A whole year. Of ups and downs. Of good foods, and great foods and sometimes of just food. Of lost jobs and new jobs. Of quite times and manic times. Of new love and great friends. I’m forever grateful to Caroline for kicking me into starting this blog and to Guy for setting it up. And to Colin and John-Antony for all the tech support.  I never thought it would be for me but I’ve enjoyed it greatly. I’ve had a laugh with the Irish Times thing. But most importantly, I’ve loved sharing my recipes with you. Those that you liked and those that you didn’t (that’s ok too cause I liked them!). I’m also very grateful to those of you who put pen to paper and guest posted (the one and only MichaeI C, Auntie D, Kath, Elaine and more). I get particularly chuffed when someone says they’ve made something from the blog it makes it all worthwhile. I also love that Siobhan never misses a post even though she doesn’t eat meat. And that Aerny reads them all faithfully even though he wouldn’t touch any of it!

And finally, I’m grateful to John who eats everything I put in front of him even though and let’s me plan his next meal as he’s not even finished his plate yet.

So yeah, to celebrate I made this salad. You should do too. Again thank you!

Ingredients: 

1 cucumber; a small portion of smoked fish (I’d left over trout), 1 ripe grapefruit, 1 heaped teaspoon of sesame seeds, a bit of feta, 1 shallot, olive oil, pepper.

Method: 

Peel your cucumber into ribbons. You could slice or dice it but this is really pretty and you’re worth it. Dice the shallot finely and toss it in. Peel and segment the grapefruit (I went for the pink ones because they’re sweeter). Add your fish. feta and sesame seeds. Gring a bit of black pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Voila!

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Aligot

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This is utterly indulgent and perfect for all the left over cheese you might have after Christmas and new years. It’s a fondue in a mash. So basically it’s perfect. Perfect, I say.

Ingredients:

1,5 kg of rooster potatoes; 750 g of cheese (this ideally will be cantal cheese or some tomme but you can use any cheese you have really); 1 pot of creme fraiche, freshly cracked black pepper and 3 cloves of garlic.

Method: 

Peel your potatoes and place them in a large pot of cold water. Bring the water to the boil and cook until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain and mash (of you have a potato ricer then you’re laughing!) Grate your cheese (if you’re using soft cheese just make sure you take any rind of it). In a small pot, slowly warm up the creme fraiche and grate the garlic into it. Add your cheese to the potatoes and work it through until it’s all melted. Add your cream at the end and mix it all in. This is mash is incredibly thick and shiny for all the cream and butter in the world. Add your black pepper. Best serve with a nice chunky pork chop. Some braised cabbage would be grand too!

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Excuse the steam!

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Peppery Chicory

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There are two smells that remind me of my paternal granny. The smell of steaming artichokes and that of boiling chicory.

Chicory is particularly tasty with ham and as I knew I’d have left overs I figured I would get some in for over the Christmas.

I’d a bitta ham left tonight and so I made this dinner.

Ingredients:

2 chicories, 1 table spoon of crushed pepper, one handful of grated cheese, left over ham for the side.

Method:

Cut the core and remove the brown looking outter leaves. Halve the chicories and plunge them in boiling water for 10 min.

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Rinse and drain.

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Put in a pan on medium with a tiny bit of oil and sprinkle extremely generously with the pepper.

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Leave it for a good 5 to 7 min and add your handful of grated cheese (I’ve got bit hands).

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Let it melt down for another 2 minutes and serve with your ham. Delicious!

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Charlotte Au Chocolat

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This is truly an old classic. This was my mum go to cake. Charlotte au chocolat with creme anglaise. And she was right. It’s a winner winner chicken dinner.

Very few ingredients and with no butter and no sugar you really could do worse than this dessert when it comes to counting the calories!

Please not that this recipe is adaptable to what mould you’re using so the ratio of mousse to lady fingers is for you to decide! You don’t have to cook or bake anything but you do have to prepare it a good 5 hours before you want to eat it!

Ingredients:

4 eggs; 300 g of chocolate; 20 lady fingers; bitta rum; bitta cold water.

Method:

Line your bowl with cling film. Dip your lady fingers in the mixture of half cold water and half rum. No more than 2 seconds. Place them on the bottom of your mould. This will be the top of your cake so make sure to put the sugared bit of the biscuits facing out as it’ll be much prettier. Once the bottom is done do the sides.

Separate the eggs and mount the whites with  a tiny bit of salt until they’re nice and firm and you can turn the bowl upside down and they stay put. Magic. Tada!

Melt your chocolate carefully and mix it with the egg yolks. Let it cool down for 2 min and then add it to the egg white. Usual job, please be delicate as the whole point of the egg whites is the air that’s been beaten into them and which will ensure your mousse stays light and your dessert morish.

Once you’ve all that done, add the chocolate mousse on top of your biscuits and then cover with mor biscuits. This time, as this is the bottom of the cake you want the sugar bits to face into the mousse as it means your cake will have a nice straight and even bottom to sit on when it’s out of the mould!

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Leave it in the fridge for a good 4 hours. What with the cling film along the bowl, you’ll have no problem getting it out! Just cut the bits of biscuits over the bottom of the cake with a spoon. Grand job!

If you want to make creme anglaise, go there:  http://recessionbites.ie/2014/12/26/creme-anglaise/

I can’t recommend this cake enough. I made it for Christmas and it was fair devoured!

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Crème Anglaise

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I made a chocolate Charlotte for Christmas this year and you can’t have Charlotte without crème anglaise. Not that you should need an excuse for it. It’s delicious and works wonders with most desserts. It’s close enough to a thin custard and is best eaten cold.

Ingredients:

4 eggs, 60 g of sugar, 500ml of milk, 1 vanilla pod, a bit of cracked black pepper.

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Method: 

Mix the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Place the vanilla pod and seeds in a pan with the milk and pepper and bring to a boil. Remove the pod (you can rinse and dry it and use for vanilla sugar, there are always randoms bits of vanilla and cinnamon knocking around my sugar bowl). Then pour a little of the hot milk onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, then pour the mix into a clean pan, set over a gentle heat and whisk constantly. Do not let the custard simmer at any point or it will split and you’ll have to start from scratch. After about five minutes it will begin to thicken slightly and become the consistency of single cream (it will thicken more when it cools down). Transfer to a bowl and chill in the fridge for at least four hours. This will keep up to 5 days in an air tight jar in the fridge.

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Estonian Bites

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These are good as a nice lunch or as an accompaniment to a few drinks. Tis the season after all. A shot of ice cold vodka and one of these babies and you’ll thank me.

Ingredients: 

Black bread (dark rye bread) or brown bread; sour cream; 1 portion of salmon; 1 large shallot; juice of 1 lemon; dill; salt; pepper

Method:

Slice your shallot finely and cover it with the juice of the lemon. Let it marinate for at least 15 min. This will cook it somewhat yet will leave its bite alone.

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Pan fry your salmon for 2 min on each side and season with salt and pepper.

Toast your bread and add a generous spoonful of sour cream. Sprinkle with black pepper.

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Add pieces of the salmon. slivers of shallots and some dill on top. Tuck in!

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My Roasted Sprouts

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To me they are “the” seasonal veg. And here is how I like them best.

Take a bag of sprouts. It’ll serve 2. Cut the bottom and peel the black leaves. While you’re cleaning them pre-heat your oven to 180 C / gas mark 4. Place in a roasting tray. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Shake some thyme or mixed herbs if you wish. Add a few garlic cloves with their skin on.

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Leave in the oven for 30 min or until crispy and golden on the outside.

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Shave a bit of parmesan or equivalent on your sprouts. That’s it. It’s this easy. Once you’ve had them roasted you’ll never look back!

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Blueberry Cake

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Easy like a Sunday morning, or in my case Sunday afternoon. Bit of Edith Piaf in the background and a few more boxes unpacked now that I’ve moved. Cats are happy out playing in the garden and I want cake. I also need to start using what’s in my freezer. So two punnets of blueberries have come out to play. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients: 

4 heaped tablespoons of flour (of you want to make this cake gluten free just use 2 tablespoons of ground almonds and 2 tablespoons of corn flour); 4 heaped tablespoons of sugar, 1 packet of dry yeast, bit of salt, 3 large eggs, a mug of milk (not up to the very top (about 3/4 of a normal mug); 1 tablespoon of rhum, 2 punnets of blueberries.

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Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C (gas mark 4). In a large bowl mix all your flour, sugar, yeast, salt and eggs. Once you have mix them well add the milk and rhum. The batter is quite liquid.

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Pour the batter in your oiled mould and add the 2 punnets of blueberries.

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Place in the oven and leave it for 40 min. It will be set but still have a tiny bit of a wobble. If you think it’s not cooked enough, turn off the oven and leave the cake in the closed oven for another 10 min.

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Greens That’ll Make You Go WOW!

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I’m moving houses this week and I don’t really have the time to cook. I also know that if I don’t eat decent food I can’t function. I get grumpy and I can’t really afford to be grumpy in my new job. Not yet anyway! I’m also fighting the sniffles.

All this combined meant that tonight, all I wanted was a big bowl of greens. My friend Viv suggested this recipe and I can’t thank her enough. It packs a punch, let me tell you!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, salad leaves, one large clove of garlic, juice of one lime, olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan ( I used Lidl’s Grand Padano – gorgeous).

Method:

I bought some lovely black kale in the Temple Bar market this weekend. €1.00 for a nice big bunch. I also had some mustard salad leaves.

I shredded the kale finely and mixed it with the grated garlic, salt and the lime juice. Toss it once or twice and after 20 min the juice has done its magic. It’s cooked through the tough bits of the kale but has left it a bit of crunchiness.

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Wash the lettuce leaves and place them in the bowl.

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Drizzle with oil, grate the cheese and add some black pepper. Toss it all together and enjoy. It’s a real treat!

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Cheesy Bites

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You’ll have noticed, I’m all about the bites. So tired and lazy just now I can’t even be bothered to cut my food once it’s been cooked. For shame. Or for genius!

Here’s another super easy to stick on your list if you have guests. Perfect for party or pre dinner nibbles.

Ingredients:

1 sheet of puff pastry, a few spoonfuls of pesto, some grated cheese.

Method:

Roll out the pastry sheet and cut it in squares. I managed to do 20 this time but would probably have less but bigger ones next time as they’re easier to manipulate when they are larger.

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Spoon a bit of pesto on each square. By the way, did you know pesto freezes just fine?

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Add a bit of grated cheese on top of the pesto.

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Close them up whichever way you can. Mine aren’t exactly pretty but practice makes perfect.

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Cover them with baking paper and a weighed down baking tray. I used some dry beans. This is to ensure they don’t puff up too much. Stick them in the oven for 20 min. Remove the tray and place them back for 10 min. Voila!

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