Monday, August 10, 2009

Greek Salad

Why can't you get a nice Greek salad in a restaurant in Ireland? It's easy to make. what's the problem? A good Greek salad is the essence of summer and it's so easy to prepare. Here's my recipe for a great Greek salad!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is important to use a good full- fat feta cheese, good quality Kalamata olives and tomatoes.
Greek Salad

serves 4

6 or 7 plum tomatoes or equivalent cherry tomatoes chopped roughly (de-seeded if you prefer)

1 medium cucumber or 1 half large cucumber, seeded and peeled then sliced thinly in little crescent moon shapes.

1 medium red onion finely diced

150-200 grams Kalamata olives stoned

150-200 grams feta cheese


1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 clove of garlic finely chopped

half cup of extra virgin olive oil

one handful flat leaf parsley chopped

small handful fresh oregano finely chopped

a few sprigs of fresh thyme finely chopped

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Prepare the dressing first so it can macerate while you prepare the salad. To make any basic dressing you want the ratio to be, 1 part lemon or vinegar to 3 parts oil. Mix oil and lemon juice, garlic, herbs and pepper. In a separate bowl mix together chopped tomatoes, olives, sliced cucumbers, and finely chopped onion. Add dressing to coat salad and mix. Crumble feta over salad and stir through. Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Piri Piri

I took this recipe from, At Home in Provence by Patricia Wells. This is an amazing book. I borrowed it from a friend about two years ago. I guess I've stolen it.Piri piri is a spicy oil, popular in France and posh pizzeria's the world over. Last year I made bottles of piri piri oil to give away as Christmas gifts. Seeing as I'd all these herbs lying around, I thought I'd make a bottle for myself. The oil can be as expensive or as frugal as you like, a simple garlic and chilli oil is terrific drizzled over pizza or added to tomato sauce.
Patricia's Recipe

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes or to taste or 12 dried bird peppers

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

4 sprigs of thyme

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

4 fresh bay leaves

250 ml olive oil or sunflower oil

In a sterilized bottle layer herbs and peppers. Cover with oil. Set aside to mature for one week atleast. If you are worried about the slight chance of botchulism leave the oil in youre fridge and let mature for one month. You can add the same mixture to red wine vinegar for piquant dressings.

You can add whatever you like, be creative, the recipe is just a jumping off point.

Lettuce Give Thanks

This spring I planted a variety of vegetables and herbs in my garden. I wasn't sure how to go about planting a garden. House plants under my care had never lived longer than six months, understandably, I was nervous. The first day we started digging the soil was incredibly rocky and a foot below the rocky soil, lay concrete. It was unfortunate, I had already surmised the inevitability of stony soil, all one has to do is look at the landscape of Connemara to know that big rocks and little rocks will play a starring role in, The Things That Annoy You About Gardening in Galway. The concrete was a bummer, I had hoped to grow kohlrabi, carrots and onions. My root veggie dreams were smashed between rocks and concrete. I soldiered on with lettuce, garlic and gooseberries.

I only found out last week, pretty much any idiot can throw down some seeds and they'll grow. All the gardening books I had read made me wonder how anything grew in the wild without the helping hand of man, between that and the plant hypochondria ... One gardening book in particular showed pictures of plants with various viruses, diseases, bugs and fungus. I was convinced my raspberries had some sort of virus. It was almost nice to of set actual hypochondria with this new plant one.
Last week I ate the first head of lettuce it was amazing, all that garden to fork crap is true. It felt great to make a bouquet garni from my herbs. If I were to buy the herbs at the shop it would have cost almost ten Euro to assemble. It was probably about twelve Euro to buy my herbs, pots and compost. I almost made my money back from one measly bouquet garni. I have enjoyed gardening, It wasn't nearly as time consuming or as hard as I had envisioned. I haven't mastered it by any means. But hey, any idiot can throw down some seeds and see what grows. It's brilliant!