Baba Ganoush, Baba Ganoush Can You Do The Fandango?

What a start to the school holidays! Rain, rain and more rain. 

 I love aubergine and my favourite way to prep it is just brush with olive oil and put it under the grill. No salting it, no shallow frying it in batches, and no need to turn on the oven especially to roast it.IMG_6851

I chopped one big aubergine in 3 lengthways pieces and stuck it on. It took about 10 minutes on each side with the grill on a medium heat. At this point I had no idea if I was making some sort of pasta with aubergine and tomato sauce for dinner or what. But it was bucketing rain so I decided to bring the warmth, middle-eastern style. We enjoyed Baba Ganoush with Fennel, Carrot and Apple Coleslaw served with Quinoa. Catchy name eh?

Aubergine cooked, it was time to settle down with my boys while it bucketed rain outside and have a Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back viewing. That’s two hours of PEW-PEW PEW-PEW PEW-PEW, a few very mild double entendres, and a shocking paternity reveal. Y’know; in case you haven’t seen it.

I looked at about three baba ganoush recipes and decided they were all different enough for me to just chance my arm with the basic ingredients. Also, some of them involved draining the aubergine of water for ages and sure I’d no time for that with the movie-watching and creme-egg-eating.

I lashed all the below into the blender and crossed my fingers.

  • Flesh of 1 grilled aubergine
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup of Glenisk Natural Yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon tahini (you can leave this out, but I love the taste)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of dried mint (I have fresh mint in the garden most of the year, but I’m reliant on the jars right now)

Baba Ganoush is just the fancy name for a smokey aubergine dip. I lacked the smoke (barbeque or naked flame) but it came out great; nicely smooth and flavoursome. Pomegranate seeds on top would really set it off visually and give a sweet crunch. (That would only happen if I managed to meal plan though.)

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Finished his dinner, then finished the Baba Ganoush.

I cooked us up some quinoa (1 cup uncooked fed four) in Marigold stock and set about making a carrot, fennel and apple coleslaw for the side. This is a super healthy coleslaw – it’s a simplified version of a Winter Veg one that Jamie Oliver does – the dressing uses yogurt rather than any mayonnaise. My mum always made lovely fresh coleslaw when I was growing up, but somehow horrible claggy deli counter versions seem to have become the standard offering.

When I’m in charge it’s not dinner unless there’s a load of toasted seeds or nuts involved so in went the toasted sunflower seeds in with grated apple and carrot and chopped fennel.

The dressing is just these four, all mixed quickly with a fork.

  • A good glug of olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup of Glenisk Natural Yogurt

I gave the boys the apple and veg with some plain yogurt as the dijon is quite hot.

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You too can conjure up Arabian nights on a rainy spring evening in Dublin with a little help from Glenisk! But maybe add some gauzy veils rather than Penney’s pyjamas to really get the effect right.

The Wind Is Howling. Eat Up.

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Horizontal sleet means two things in my book. Light the fire and have comfort food. Lilly Higgins has a great ‘Give Me Five’ series in the Irish Times – recipes with just five ingredients – and because I love her attitude to food I always look it up.

It’s usually not veggie but last weeks was, and coincidentally, I had put it on the meal planner for today.  I mean, I’d only filled in Monday and Wednesday so that’s not really much of a plan, but look, it’s a start.

Continue reading

The Happy Pear Cookbook: Us Four Give It A Go.

I’m a big fan of The Happy Pear, the grocers and cafe run by a pair of handsome man-twins seen being optimistic and cheery and wearing unseasonal shorts all over the media late last year. That was shortly before my birthday and the reason they were so ubiquitous was that they released a book, so I sat on my hands to avoid purchasing it and waited. With not a hint dropped my BFF turned up with the goods and I don’t quite recall but I probably snatched it from her in a my preciousssss style.

The book hasn’t let me down. Though their food is my style – vegetarian, hearty, unpretentious – I will preface this by saying I’m not entirely on board with all their methods. I’ve pretty much halved or cut out the salt in the recipes I’ve made from it, and have been more liberal with my oil use: olive, rapeseed, sesame and coconut are my fats of choice. The guys are not fans of oil use at all as they explain in the book. However I heartily agree with the main thrust of their philosophy, which is:

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Sure you can’t argue with that. Continue reading

2 strikes and we’re out

Oh dear!  A streak of bad luck has befallen our cooking!

First up, yesterday for dinner I made Vegan Yum Yum’s Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu.  This a great site, full of imaginative vegan grub, and lots of beautiful food photography.  I had a bit of an urge on me for good old fashioned radioactive coloured sweet and sour sauce, like the very first Chinese take out I had age 12 in my cousin Carmel’s house.  I thought it was so exotic.  It was, compared to our standard fare.

So in this recipe, the tofu method was spot on.  I didn’t have any egg replacer, being not of the vegan variety, but the tofu went lovely and crispy using the cornflour alone.  But, it was thrown across the table by his nibs, who clearly prefers my other tofu dish.  As for the sauce, hmm, I think I’ll keep looking.  It was a great consistency, but I think it was the ketchup I didn’t like in it.  Pineapple might not be authentically Chinese (or is it?  is ketchup?) but I think this might be what this dish was lacking for me.  Hungry Dom does not tolerate new foods for long if he doesn’t like the first bite, so it was forkfuls of plain white rice for the rest of his dinner.   Actually, the rice was perfectly cooked, using this method – Rinse basmati really well in a sieve, cover with water – 1.5cms approx above the rice (I start with boiling water).  12 mins covered on a low simmer. Voilà.

nooooo!

Today, it was husbag’s turn.  He turned a blind eye to the whole supermarket shop I did yesterday after his head was turned by The Good Cook on BBC.   Off we went to Fallon & Byrne for some gorgeous overpriced veg, and a trip to the offie for Vermouth.  He likes an aul cheffy dish (read: using every saucepan and utensil going) and made this Braised Fennel with Butter & Parmesan for a light dinner this evening.  Fennel cooked like this is so good for baby led weaning – perfect fingers of sliced fennel to hold, soft enough to chew easily.  To our adult taste buds, this was divine.  The vermouth is not a strong taste and the alcohol is clearly gone.  I know fennel is divisive, but one quick chew and it was spat out by our cantankerous toddler.  Talk about barely giving it a chance!

Honestly though, this is the kind of dish I’d serve as part of my meal if I were on Come Dine With Me.  Child doesn’t know what he’s missing.  He had a yogurt and 2 kiwi’s for his dinner instead.

To make up for such rejection, I decided I’d make a sure fire winner, with none for baby!  Step up the fabulous Babaduck, whose baked goods are becoming legendary via their pale imitations round here.  Husbag asked in a urgent worried tone if any of these were going into work with me as I took them out of the oven. Take that baby boy… we’re eating all of these now you’re gone to bed…

Jill

food under one is just for fun

It’s hard this BLW lark sometimes.  It’s hard not falling in with the most common approach to things even if your way seems like it should be easier.  So when I read forums full of “what does your 6/7 month old eat?” style threads I curse myself.  Because there’s days when I wish I could say he has:

  • 7oz bottle
  • porridge
  • 3 cubes of veg & protein
  • 8oz bottle
  • etc etc

Because I really don’t know if he gets the right amount – if I “let” him BF too often, or if his diet is varied enough.  I mean, I know there’s no such thing as breastfeeding too much, but when he’s teething or just generally antsy it’s the easiest option for comfort for him.  And  because I’m not spoonfeeding him, if he doesn’t want food, I really can’t just shove it in there.  I don’t want to though, don’t get me wrong.  Somedays you just don’t feel like tucking in (hmm, I don’t have those days actually), but I suppose when your face hurts quite often you would be put off.   If I could grow the teeth for him I would.  One of his front top teeth has broken through and its partner is on its way.  Am looking forward to cute toothypeg photos very soon!

Pear, aubergine (grilled with some olive oil) and a go of a stir fry have been new tastes this past week.  The stir fry included fennel, tofu & buckwheat noodles.  Sure lots of 30 year olds haven’t eaten that.  And he’s developing quite a taste for porridge too (hah – his dad, defied!).  I thought i’d completely messed it up the other day – it was stodgy and the berries were half defrosted.  Mean mama that I am, I presented it to him anyway, and he wolfed it down!  Love of natural yogurt continues apace – with mashed banana mixed in, or on its own.  I’m particularly proud of this, because I can happily finish his food – I don’t think i’d be quite so pleased polishing off half eaten Petit Filous – though doubtless I would.   Another breakfast favourite I’ve scored 2 for 2 on is american style pancakes.  Thats strictly a weekend option though.

I guess the best thing to do is just not compare to 3-meals-a-day spoonfed babas.  We have a healthy diet in general, so he must too.  (I say that just after I’ve eaten 1000 mini Daims this past week – curses on you ikea!)  He was eyeing me up drinking a bottle of Diet Coke on our walk earlier though.  One disadvantage of BLW is that they do seem to notice exactly what you’re consuming as they often have the same off your plate.  Thank the gods for Organix, their little rice cakes divert his attention nicely.

Now, I’m off to repeat my mantra, the cry of the baby led weaner: food under one is just for fun

-jill