Cooking deelitefully

Welcome to  the deelitefull blog.  I am a cooking and nutrition coach based in Dublin, Ireland.   Food should both taste great and make you feel great. My experience of some healthy eating guides & books is that they can be a little worthy, bland and humourless. Eating should always be a pleasure both to the senses and to the soul. There is nothing worse than eating a meal and feeling like you need a crane to hoist you out of your chair but on the other hand there is nothing more dreary than a meal that is assessed purely on the reduced calories and fat grams it contains. So on this blog you can follow my search for delicious healthy recipes with soul.  

Monday, June 28, 2010

Courgette invasion

Courgette fritters
I am pretty new to the gardening world and somehow managed to grow some courgette plants from seed. Yeah! 
However I don’t think I really needed 10 plants ,seeing as one plant should feed a family of four for the whole summer.  In anticipation of my courgette glut I am trying out some of my courgette recipes. There will be plenty more to follow I would imagine :-) 
This is also a good way of getting kids to try some veggies.  Funnily enough if you call them Zucchini pancakes they prefer them even more and technically you are correct.

2 courgettes (mine were quite big)
75g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
A handful of mint leaves,  shredded
Thyme leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
The zest of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli -  deseeded and  finely chopped
2 spring onions sliced finely
Feta or other goats cheese - crumbled
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1. Grate the courgettes coarsely.  Then take a clean tea towel and place the grated courgette pulp in the middle and scrunch up into a ball. Wring the tea towel out over the sink. A lot of water will come out!
2 Place the flour in a bowl and add the beaten eggs, herbs, lemon zest, garlic, spring onions, chilli, courgettes, salt and pepper and mix well.  Gently stir in the cheese.
3. Heat a large frying-pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, take a heaped tablespoon of the courgette mixture and drop it into the pan, flattening it out slightly with the back of the spoon. Leave for a few minutes until the bottom is brown,  if you try and flip over to early the fritter will fall apart.
Turn over and cook for another couple of minutes.  ( If you want to be cheffy and get a perfectly round circle,  place the mix inside a stainless steel chef ring - to be honest I think free form look much better -  see pics below)
4. I served with some rocket leaves and tomatoes and some sweet pepper relish I had lurking in the back of the fridge.  These can be served for lunch, brunch or as an accompaniment to some pan fried fish. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sunshine food

After a day spent gardening (not namby pampy planting some  seeds gardening, it was heavy duty digging up old shrubs and brambles gardening) some simple-to-prepare summertime food was called for . 
I had some pizza dough in the freezer which I had remembered to take out and defrost a few hours before..  I like my pizza with super thin,  “size zero” crust,  really the only place size zero is ever appropriate ;-)     I hate doughy, thick pizza crust and have found the only real solution to getting pizza the way I like it,  it to make it myself.  I tend to make a big batch and then freeze it in small ball portions suitable for individual pizzas as and when needed.  
My favourite recipe is the Jamie Oliver one,  using Italian 00 flour which you can get in good delis nowadays.  Its super fine and makes lovely pizzas,  if you can’t get hold of it strong white flour will do.  Plain flour doesn’t really cut it as it doesn’t  have the necessary gluten content.  Here is a link to Jamies recipe -  I tend to mix it in a huge bowl rather than on the counter top after a few incidents where the liquid  escaped from its floury walls and dripped all down my counter top- the ones they sell in DIY stores for washing up dishes are a perfect size.
Sometimes if I have a homemade tomato sauce around I use that,  some advise plain passata ( jars of sieved tomatos) but I find it a little bitter and lacking somewhat in the flavour dimension department.  Luckily my friend Maria who is involved in the gardening project had brought some lovely sun-dried tomato pesto so that was recruited in.   We went with my old favourite topping Fiorentina: spinach, garlic, mozzarella, pine nuts and an egg.  I didn’t have as much spinach as I would have liked but I was serving with loads of salads so you see pizza night can be reasonably healthy with the right accompaniments.
I had a lovely mix of tomatoes which I turned into a simple tomato salad with a warm garlic oil dressing and feta with lemon zest and fresh oregano on the side.  I made another simple salad of some asparagus spears drenched with a simple mustard vinaigrette.  With the dough already made,  this was the ultimate fast food dinner -  on the table in less than 15 minutes,  much quicker than ringing the Dominos and in my humble opinion, a whole stratosphere of difference in the taste department.
Tomato salad with warm garlic oil and feta with lemon zest and fresh oregano.
A selection of different tomatoes - colours and sizes if you can get them
1/4 of a packet of feta cheese
1 clove of garlic sliced finely
1 dessertspoon of olive oil
A small splash of balsamic vinegar
Some fresh oregano leaves ( These grow really easily,  invest in a pot)
Salt and pepper

1. Chop up the tomatoes and drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper
2. Crumble the feta into a small bowl or ramekin, gently mix through the lemon zest and oregano
3. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a low heat and very gently fry the garlic
4. Just before serving the salad,  pour the warm flavoured oil and garlic over the tomatoes.
Asparagus with mustardy vinaigrette

Large bundle of asparagus spears ( try and get Irish or British if you can -  much more flavour as they haven’t got to travel so far)

Mustard vinaigrette
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
3-4 teaspoons of olive oil ( add 3 and adjust if necessary)
salt and pepper

1. Steam asparagus for 3-7 minutes depending on how thick they are
2. Place all the dressing ingredients in a clean jar with a lid and shake well until emulsified
3. Pour over the asparagus,  any extra dressing can be kept in the jar in the fridge.

Devour all at a leisurely pace, preferably eaten outside ;-)