Caramelised Cauliflower And Coconut Soup

caramelised cauliflower and coconut soup http://www.cocklesandmussels.com/

Creamy, rich, thick, and aromatic. Made with this roasted cauliflower, coconut milk, cilantro and inspired by the flavours of south-east asia. This soup is a bowl full of comfort on a cold winters day.

For a long time it was kale. Than for a good while it was beetroot. But now its cauliflower. If there were charts for the most popular vegetables than cauliflower would definitely be number one and top of the pile. If cauliflower was an actor than he’d be big box office, if a singer than there would be millions of downloads from iTunes.

Yes indeed, plain old cauliflower is enjoying a surge of popularity at the moment and over the past couple of months I’ve noticed a ton of very interesting and innovative recipes for this humble vegetable. No longer is it served as an after thought with your sunday roast. Instead its taking centre stage and innovative cooks are turning it into souffles, croquettes, cakes, and pizza crust. Read More

Warm Pear, Ginger, And Walnut Tart

warm pear, ginger, and walnut tart

Warm pears and candied walnuts covered with a light ginger infused sponge.

Christmas is coming as if you needed reminding. But just incase you do than cook this tart. When I opened the oven to check how it was coming along a warm scent of gently baking spices wafted through the kitchen. Roasting nuts, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. A combination of warm christmas smells that immediately reminded that the festive season is fast approaching.

This tart might remind you of a tarte tatin or a pineapple upside down cake. You make a caramel and sit the pears in it just like you were going to make tarte tatin. Then pour the spice infused ginger sponge over the top of the caramelised fruit before you bake it. So the bottom is actually the top like the classic pineapple upside down cake.

That’s about as complicated as this recipe gets. The rest is simple. Mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet ones…then mix them both together. You don’t even need to get your mixer out. No heavy beating required and you can do it all by hand.

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Monkfish Au Vin

monkfish au vin | cocklesandmussels.com

Sweet meaty monkfish poached in a red wine infused with garlic and herbs.

If you’d never eaten monkfish before and you asked somebody to describe its taste they’d probably say something like hummm….well…….its a bit like chicken. A good description because it hits the nail on the head. If there’s one fish that has a meaty quality to it than i’d have to agree its monkfish. Its got a mild, sweet, and succulent flavour with a texture and colour very similar to that of a chicken fillet.

Its little wonder then that a lot of the flavours that work really well with chicken marry well with monkfish too. I’ve done this before with my sticky lemon and thyme monkfish recipe, and here I go again but this time I’m recreating the French classic coq au vin, but using monkfish in place of chicken..

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Warm Mackerel salad with cucumber and hoisin

warm mackerel salad

Grilled marinated mackerel with crunchy cucumbers, spring onions, and water chestnuts served with a spicy hoisin dressing.

I gave up ordering food from Chinese take aways a good few years back. Thier use of msg as a flavour enhancer eventually turned me off them, it just makes everything taste the same. I reckon that if you did a blind taste test, closed your eyes, and tasted the sauces they make you wouldn’t be able to tell a black bean from a satay sauce

Like everything there are exceptions and i still pick up the phone to have the classic crispy duck with pancakes and plum sauce sent up to the house. I think its the textures that I like most about the dish. Crispy duck and vegetables smothered with the piquant plum sauce all wrapped up in soft pancakes.

Its not often that I could say that the local chinese takeout served as an inspiration for a dish but Its definitely the case with this salad. The cucumbers and spring onions that you wrap the pancakes around work really well with fish, but for some extra crunch I’ve added some bean sprouts, water chestnuts, and sesame seeds.

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How To Make Brown Soda Bread

brown soda bread

Any time I’m eating smoked salmon I need a couple of  slices of brown soda bread to go along with it. Its moist earthy flavour complements the smoky tang of the salmon, just add a squeeze of lemon and you have an Irish classic that’s served in pubs and restaurants up and down the country.

Here in Ireland we don’t have a massive food culture. No long history of food with lots of classic dishes like the French or Italians. They’ve got coq au vin, pot au feu, risotto and osso bucco. We’ve got bacon and cabbage, some of the best ingredients in the world….and our brown bread.

Brown soda bread is associated with Ireland because of the extreme poverty here in the late 19th century. While other parts of the British isles moved on to bread made with hard wheat flour and yeast we stuck with soda bread simply because these other ingredients weren’t available in rural Ireland. Plus all you needed  to make it was a pot and a fire.

Go out to any restaurant anywhere in the country and you’ll find it in the bread basket they bring to your table. For me it tastes as good as the finest brioche or the best focaccia plus its a lot better for you and  far easier to make.

Every chef in every restaurant has their own recipe. Some like to add butter and eggs for an extra bit of richness. Or treacle and honey for sweetness. Any type of oats or wheat bran can add to its earthy flavour. While all sorts of seed – pumpkin, sesame, poppy or sunflower can give it a different texture.

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Dublin Bay Prawns In Garlic And White Wine

dublin bay prawns with garlic and white wine-3

The aroma that wafts through the kitchen as you cook this is gonna make your mouth water. Roasted shellfish and garlic, deglazed with a glass of your favourite white wine. A dead simple recipe, cooked in minutes.

The French call them langoustines. In Norway there known as Norwegian lobster. Here and in Britain there called Dublin Bay prawns and I’ve often wondered where that name comes from? I’ve been around Dublin bay many a time and it’s not like its teeming with them.

A popular recipe to use these sweet little crustaceans in is scampi. To me though this is sacrilege. Rolling them in breadcrumbs and sticking them in the deep fryer just doesn’t do them justice. Try this recipe instead it’s far quicker and 10 times tastier.

We’re so lucky here in this corner of the world to have succulent sea creature right on our doorstep. Its only habitat is the north-eastern Atlantic, as far south as Portugal, and up to the north in Iceland.

What makes Dublin bay prawns so great? why are they better than their cousins the tiger or king prawn from south-east Asia that you see on supermarket shelves everywhere? Well for me its all about the texture. There much softer, sweeter tasting, and more succulent.

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