Archive for July, 2010

Special Egg Supper

The first egg from our new hens, even at less than 5cm long,  is a cause for celebration, and deserves to be served as the centrepiece of a dish. 

An egg this fresh just has to be poached, and given its tiny size I though some lentils might help to make a proper meal of it, so I’ve gone for some Balsamic Lentils which I would usually use to accompany sausages.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 2 eggs
  • 200g puy lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely diced
  • Olive Oil for frying
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Heat the Olive Oil, add the onion, carrot and celery and fry until soft.  Add the  lentils and cover with water.  Cook for about 15 minutes until the lentils are soft but still retain their shape, adding more water during cooking if necessary. 

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil to poach the eggs.  When the water is boiling fast, break the eggs into it and keep them at a simmer for about 3 minutes.  The trick is to try and time this so they’re ready at the same time as the lentils.

Drain the Lentils.  Add a good slug of Balsamic Vinegar and pile into a mound on the plates. Remove the eggs from the pan and place on top of the lentils.

Summer Barley Salad

Barley is one of the world’s oldest grains, which is scandalously underused in Western European Cooking.  

Its texture and mildly nutty taste make it a great accompaniment to robust winter stews, but it also makes a nutritious summer salad.

Ingredients

1 cup Pearled Barley, rinsed
3 cups water

1/4 cucumber, peeled and finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1 small onion or shallot, finely diced
A big handful of fresh herbs, e.g. Thyme, Marjoram, Rosemary, Mint, Parsley or a mixture.
Good Pinch Salt (preferably Maldon or Coarse Sea Salt)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of half a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Method

Proper Pearled Barley has had the outer husks removed, with most of the germ and bran left intact, and is brownish in appearance.  Try to avoid the really highly polished Pearl Barley you get in supermarkets, as this has been refined to the point where only white starch is left. 

Rinse the Barley and place in a saucepan with the water.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer, covered, until the barley has swelled up and softened.  Cooking times can vary, but I find it should cook in 20-30 mins.  Add more water during cooking if the mix gets too dry.

While the Barley is cooking make a dressing with the herbs, oil and lemon.  The alternating sunshine and showers during the last couple of weeks has created a perfect growing environment for lots of garden herbs and they benefit from regular trimming, so use generous amounts of whatever you have.  Chop the herbs finely, then put them in a Pestle and Mortar with the Salt and bash them up.  Mix in the oil and leave them to infuse while getting on with the rest of the dish.

Once the Barley is cooked, drain off any excess liquid and put the Barley in a Bowl.  Add the lemon juice to the herb and oil mixture, pour it over the Barley and mix well.  Stir in the Cucumber, pepper and onion, season to taste and leave to cool.

This works well as a salad, or just add some diced feta cheese for a quick lunch.

Pebbles Boot Laundry Stuff

This is the strangest name for the most delightful range of household products.  Its all derived from old household recipes and handmade in Cork by a small family company.

They only use natural vegetable ingredients like  soap flakes, baking soda and essential oils.  The beauty in this of course is that everything is biodegradable, including the simple packaging.

The range includes floor cleaner, dishwasher powder, washing powder, shower cleaner and toilet cleaner.  The most unusual product has to be the bed linen powder – you sprinkle it through your bed clothes and pillow cases to leave a relaxing scent of lavender and geranium.

Everything about it is just quirky and old fashioned.  Even the instructions on the washing powder say that it is “suitable for automatic and twin tub washing machines as well as hand washing”.  A free 1kg pack to the first person who can send me a pic of their working twin tub washing machine!

Green Saffron

We were at the Medieval Festival in Carrigtwohill Co. Cork this weekend, buying hens from a medieval damsel and a man dressed as a monk (as you do).

We bumped into Arun & Gail from Green Saffron who had a stall at the food market there.  If you haven’t come across Green Saffron products yet, you are missing a treat.  We started to sell them shortly before last Christmas and they have been going really well.  They do a great range of spice mixes from the familiar such as Korma & Rogan Josh, to more unusual ones like Bombay Aloo and Masala Gosht. What they all have in common is the freshest flavours you can imagine – a million miles away from your local curry house.

Just this week we have started to stock a few new Green Saffron products: a Jalfrezi party sauce in a bottle which is really versatile as it can be used as a curry sauce, a marinade, for barbecues & on sandwiches.  Also there are two great new chutnies (or chatnies as they call them) – Mango & Date and Tamarind, Apple & Apricot.

If you ever get the chance to attend a Green Saffron curry night, jump at it.  A fascinating demo followed by lots of curry and Indian delights to eat – fantastic.  They are joining forces with O’Brien Chop House in Lismore Co. Waterford for a Curry Night on Friday 27th August.  The new Dungarvan Brewing Company will also be there.  We’ll hopefully have a Blasta Wholefoods table on the night as a number of customers have expressed an interest.  Further details from www.obrienchophouse.ie

Rio Rosa Mosqueta Oil

Rosa Mosqueta is a 100% Natural beauty oil which;

  • Reduces the appearance of scars
  • Diminishes wrinkles & stretch marks
  • Helps to keep the skin hydrated & soft 

It is pressed from the hips of a wild rose that grows in the Chilean Andes mountains – Rosa affines rubiginosa, commonly known as Rosa Mosqueta.

Apparently South American women have used Rosa Mosqueta for hundreds of years as a beauty oil – but scientific research into its properties has led to a broad use of the oil for the treatment of scars and other damage to the skin.  It’s commonly used in natural cosmetics due to its high concentration of Essential Fatty Acids (primarily Omega 3 & 6).

We have had very good feedback from customers who have used it to reduce the appearance of scars & stretchmarks or just to soothe dry, damaged skin. Also use it as an alternative to night cream or as an after sun lotion – who’d have thought we’d ever need after sun lotions in Ireland eh?

It retails for €13.45 for 20ml and currently comes with a FREE Pocket manicure set.

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