Currabinny Cooks: Rediscovering old favourites more than ever

Currabinny Cooks: Rediscovering old favourites more than ever

There are some recipes which prove so useful, so reliable, that they become part of your weekly routine. Other recipes offer you a way to utilise ingredients which are closing in on their use by date.

By now we certainly feel a huge change in our mentality around food, some of it out of pure necessity but more than that, it has opened our eyes to the basic elements of how we feed ourselves in the domestic setting and what that means both in the current environment of lockdown and moving hopefully forward, back to normality.

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We find ourselves rediscovering old favourites more than ever, recipes from both of our childhoods.

The ones which were made in large batches at the start of the week and appeared in various guises throughout the week.

These are dishes which are made with such humble, everyday ingredients, you might be fooled into thinking that they won’t make for very exciting eating, or will lack flavour.

We have been going way back to basics in recent weeks in an attempt to be more economical with our shopping and to limit the amount we need to go out and how far we go to get the ingredients we need.

We are lucky in a way to be in a city where there are still quite a wide range of options in terms of supermarkets, grocers, Middle Eastern, Asian and Polish food stores, butchers and bakers.

Even with these options, we feel it is good practice to have a couple of recipes in your back pocket whereby the most common ingredients are sufficient to create great meals.

Stewed apples

Usually, when stewing apples, you make a sort of baby food like mush, which although absolutely delicious, is a little basic unless it’s being used for a crumble or pie filling.

Currabinny Cooks: Rediscovering old favourites more than ever

We like to stew our apples whole, skin on, core in, stalk and all. This makes for far more elegant eating, where you cut into the skin, barely holding the shape of the apple together to reveal its unctuous, molten flesh.

With fresh pouring cream and some of the syrup from the poaching, this is simple and utterly delicious.

Perfect when you are craving dessert but are low on more traditional dessert-making ingredients.

Ingredients:

½ litre of water

250g caster sugar

4-6 good firm apples, Irish eating apples are fine or even golden delicious, don’t use cooking apples for this.

1 vanilla pod, split

Pouring cream to serve

You can trim the bottom and the stem of the apples if you wish but we generally just leave them totally whole. Give them a quick wash to remove any dirt, chemicals or wax that might be on the skin.

Method:

Mix together the sugar and water in a large saucepan and put on a medium high heat.

Bring to the boil and pop the apples in so they are just covered. Add the split vanilla pod and simmer gently, turning them over from time to time.

Usually when stewing apples, you make a sort of baby food like mush, which although absolutely delicious, is a little basic unless it’s being used for a crumble or pie filling.

Pipèrade

We are by now, most of us, aware of shakshuka as the incredibly popular Turkish/Mediterranean brunch dish consisting of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce usually with cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper.

There are, of course, many variations of this dish, like the Italian ‘uova in purgatorio’ or eggs in purgatory.

Pipèrade is a similar dish from the French Basque region, involving mostly pretty humble everyday ingredients like onions, peppers, garlic and of course tinned tomatoes. It is less spiced and maybe, therefore, more exotic than shakshuka, but it is equally as delicious.

Currabinny Cooks: Rediscovering old favourites more than ever

Use fresh herbs like basil and parsley to give this dish some lovely summertime freshness. You could also make your own tomato sauce using some lovely ripe tomatoes if you have them. In the traditional recipe for this, the eggs would be beaten first and then scrambled in the tomato sauce, but we prefer them poached.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

2 red peppers, core and seeds removed, cut into thin strips

2 small onions or shallots, sliced very thinly

2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 225g tin of chopped tomatoes

4 organic eggs

Sea salt and black pepper

Fresh basil and parsley to garnish

Good bread, toasted to serve

Method:

In a medium-large frying pan or sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high and add the peppers, onions and garlic, cooking until tender for around five to seven minutes, be very careful not to let the garlic burn.

Tip in the tomatoes and season generously with salt and pepper. Simmer the mixture until it starts to thicken.

Crack the eggs into the bubbling mixture, evenly spaced apart and continue to cook until the whites have cooked and the yolks are warm and runny.

Season the eggs and sprinkle over a good handful of the chopped herbs.

Serve with freshly toasted sourdough.

Savoury Mince

What could be more useful, reassuring, reliable and comforting than a good savoury mince? We have started to make this every Monday and it usually becomes the makings of several dinners and lunches over the following days.

Currabinny Cooks: Rediscovering old favourites more than ever

Similar to a ragu, it is perfect with some tagliatelle or pappardelle. We have been having it with lovely new potatoes, smothered in garlicky butter and lightly crushed. A little bowl on its own also soothes the soul as a midday snack.

You could even make a quick lasagne with it.

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, finely diced

2 medium carrots, peeled and diced

1 stick of celery, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, finely diced

500g good beef mince

1 tsp of dried parsley

1 tsp of dried oregano or marjoram

1 tbsp of tomato purée

1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

200ml of beef stock

1 tbsp of Worcester sauce

Sea salt and black pepper

Rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil

Method:

In a large casserole (Dutch oven) heat the oil over medium high heat and add the onions, garlic and celery, seasoning lightly with sea salt. Move around the pan, until the onion starts to soften a little and become translucent. Add the carrot and continue cooking for another 10 minutes or so, turning the heat down to medium if you need.

Add the mince, and a good pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Move the mince around the casserole, breaking it up with the wooden spoon and letting it brown for around five to six minutes before adding the tomato purée and mixed herbs. Cook for a further five minutes and add the tinned tomatoes, Worcester sauce and beef stock.

Season lightly and turn the heat down low, letting it simmer gently, uncovered for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring from time to time. The final consistency should be a nice thick sauce, not too liquid and rich in colour and flavour.

What could be more useful, reassuring, reliable and comforting than a good savoury mince? We have started to make this every Monday and it usually becomes the makings of several dinners and lunches over the following days.

There are some recipes which prove so useful, so reliable, that they become part of your weekly routine. Other recipes offer you a way to utilise ingredients which are closing in on their use by date.

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