Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Mama, I am Vegetarian"

I logged on tonight in dread of seeing the date of my last post - Saturday!! Where did the week go?  You are all such a presence in my life that I feel so bad for not posting, but I can seriously say that someone stole at least 48 hours without me even noticing! I have heard it happens regularly to people, so beware.

Anyway I am not really complaining as busy people are happy people I hope and I certainly have been busy working and enjoying the crisp cold January weather in the afternoons with the children. 
I think the highlight for me of this past week was to catch the final day of the Michael Warren exhibition entitled Unbroken Line in Visual, Carlow. 

My four year announced recently that he was now vegetarian.  He seems quite passionate after having watched five minutes (when he was supposed to be sleeping) of Gordon Ramsey investigating illegal shark deaths in the production of shark-fin soup. 
I did point out to him that at the minute the only vegetables he will eat without bribery is potaotes and that as a result of only eating potatoes, he will probably not grow up as he expects, never mind the boring prospect of eating potaotes every day.  He then retorted that he would take vitamins so I was not to worry!

So this week I have been on a mission and have been cooking and eating vegetables of all shapes and sizes, like they are going out of fashion - slow cooked fennel with Parmesan, Jerusalem artichoke, turnip and potato gratin, carrot and red pepper soup ... it has been a week of cleansing, exercise and trying to get children to eat vegetables.  When I have this one mastered I will let you know, but for now potaotes are definately on the kiddies menu!

Stove-top fennel with Parmesan

Place about 50g of butter into a saucepan and melt. Add fennel quarters and brown both sides of the quarters. Add enough water to come up half way on the fennel pieces and place a lid on,. Cook very slowly for about 20 minutes until they are just nearly tender to the tip of a knife. Turn up the heat and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Let the liquid boil rapidly until the liquid is greatly reduced and sprinkle over a generous handful of Parmesan. Serve almost immediately as the Parmesan is just starting to melt.

Jerusalem artichoke, turnip and potato gratin
Peel and slice finely two potatoes, five Jerusalem artichokes, one small white turnip and three garlic cloves.
Place one layer of potato into an oven proof dish and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic slices and dot with butter.  Add a layer of turnip and repeat the seasoning and butter and then a layer of Jerusalem artichoke, followed by seasoning and butter.  Repeat until the ingredients are used up.  Somewhere add in some thyme leaves if you have some.  Pour in about 50ml double cream and 50ml milk.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes at 180 degrees, covering with tinfoil if the top layer browns too much.

Roast Red Pepper, Carrot and Cinnamon Soup
These quantities are very approximate and you if you wanted to make the real mccoy, the first Avoca recipe book has the recipe apparently.  I ate this at a friends house several weeks ago and I have made it twice myself since.  It is delicious, warming and will put a smile on anyone who is hungry.

Roast approximately 2 red peppers and 6 carrots, chopped roughly tossed in olive oil and placed in the oven at 200 degrees until the edges of the pepper start to go black, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile sautee 1 onion, chopped, in butter in a large deep pan for 15-20 minutes until it is translucent and sweet.  Add the roasted vegetables and stir in 2 tblsps of ground cinnamon.  Stir together and add about 400ml chicken stock and 1 lime, skin and pith removed.  Taste and add more cinnamon if you like.  Cook on a simmer until all the vegetables are tender.  Blend to a fine smooth soup, adding more stock (if required) until you reach the desired consistency.  Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche stirred through.

My New Years Resolution is to increase my seasonal vegetable intake and increase the seasonal vegetable intake of my children. 
On that note I will leave you with my son's painting of what looks like it could possibly be an abbatoir!

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