WheelerandCompany have been indoors since Monday, not straying more than about 1km to do the school run and pick up milk. It is great as I am working my way through all the store cupboard half-opened bits and bobs and the fridge is as empty as I have seen it in a long time.
The cold weather is killing germs, making everyone in a happy mood and allowing me to purge my kitchen of long forgotten gems.
So with literally no food purchases since last Friday, I cannot believe it but it's true, we have been eating whats in the fridge, the fruit bowl and the back of the cupboard.
Yesterday I had a simply delicious plum tomato, bread and cucumber salad, the tomatoes roasted in a little olive oil, their juices soaking into the two day old garlic-rubbed torn bread with thin slivers of crunchy cucumber, all decorated with the glistening green orbs of my current favourite condiment, green Tabasco sauce.
This is a kind of panzanella. which is an Italian salad which uses up old bread.
Warm the quartered plum tomatoes in the oven with a little olive oil and some sea salt at 180 for 15 minutes.
Tear up some bread and place in a serving dish. Add the warm tomatoes and all the juices which have seeped out. Toss through some cucumber pieces and drizzle with a cap-full of red wine vinegar and olive oil, some fresh small basil leaves and a little extra salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simple and tasty, although I will have to admit my green Tabasco fetish needed fed and a good few dollops of this on top are just the business.
We also made a great Le Puy green lentil, butternut squash and pepper soup served with chunks of my favourite Gubbeen fresh chorizo and the most amazing Kanturk black pudding. All the ingredients have a reasonably long shelf life, the shortest being the peppers and the squash.
For two as a hearty meal, you will need, for the soup base:
150g Puy green lentils, rinsed in a colander
1 whole onion, dry skin removed
1 whole bulb garlic, outer skin removed
1 tin chopped tomatoes, sieved and juice disgarded
150g of there abouts of butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red and 1 green pepper, quartered, white membrane and seeds removed
2 tsp sweet smoked pimento pepper powder
Place all the above ingredients into a large cast iron casserole dish and add 1litre of cold water.
Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer, skimming off any scum which appears on top of the liquid.
Simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour until the lentils are tender but have a little bite to them.
Remove the onion, garlic and pepper pieces and , removing the garlic from the skin, blend into a fine soup and return to the lentils.
Taste and add sea salt and black pepper.
In a small frying pan, add slices of Gubbeen fresh chorizo, about 150g and fry for 2-3 minutes until slightly golden. Tip these, plus any fats released from the cooking into the lentils.
Take 2 large slices of Kanturk Black Pudding and fry each slice for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Serve the soup in wide, shallow bowls and crumble or simply set the black pudding on top.
Dark, wintry, meaty and delicious!
A note on the black pudding: I bought this is in slices from Sheridans Cheesemongers on South Anne Street Dublin, but it is also available from Mc Carthy's online shop here.
La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin, or the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Pudding awarded a gold medal to this product and it is the best I have ever tasted. It needs nothing else, it stands alone as a taste that requires absolutely nothing to improve or complement it, but it really added to the lentils and chorizo and made me wishing that there was more.