Tonight I’ll mostly be eating purple food

I’m from outside a large town in the north east of Ireland, a town with a pretty distinctive accent.

Even when I meet Irish people here in Australia, and tell them where I’m from, their usual response is: ‘well ya don’t sound like you’re from Drogheda!’. I think it may have been voted the worst accent in Ireland at some stage. But I love it, especially some specific words, you see, people in Drogheda don’t say the word purple, the say ‘puawpul’.

Anything this colour has to be good for you, right?

Last week I was sick, all week. It was horrible, at one stage I was pretty sure I was going to die. I think it may have been the man-flu, it really wasn’t fun. I finally started to feel better on Sunday and decided I needed some warm, vitamin-filled, wholesome food. So I made a big batch of puawpul borscht, yummo!

Even just prepping the veg for this soup cheered me up, the colours were fantastic. Just for giggles I made sure everything that went into it was a shade of purple: the beetroot (obviously), the onions, the cabbage, the potatoes (well the skin at least), even the carrots! What can I say, when you haven’t left the house for four consecutive days, you start to find the colour of vegetables amusing. As the vegetables cooked, the colour changed into the most wonderful deep red, it just looked fantastic, but probably not food to eat on a first date or while wearing your Sunday best. And the colour is pervasive; eat enough of this soup and your wee may just turn a jaunty shade of pink!

Colourful urine aside, this soup is delicious. It’s hearty and filling; sweet, peppery and rich. It goes really well with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of sourdough. And it just has to be packed full of vitamins and good for you things, which is always excellent.

The two photos of Drogheda were taken my by very talented Papa, check out more of his work here and here.

Puawpul borscht

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Tava tender lovin’ lamb

How do you cook-melt-in-your-mouth, falling-off-the-bone meat??

Beats the hell outta me!

After years and years and YEARS of fighting with my oven and overcooking every cut of meat ever invented, I was about to give up. I really was. I felt all those TV chefs, who I have spent most of the Saturday mornings of my adult life watching, were lying to me. Cheaper cuts my arse, they worked no better than the expensive ones. I just didn’t get it.

Sometimes I blamed my lack of roasting prowess on the fact I was (am) normally quite hungover for my Saturday Kitchen Live marathons, and hence found (find) it difficult to absorb many, or in fact, any details beyond thinking stuff looks yummo.  Then, for a while I went through a phase of blaming my oven, stupid oven.

Now I realise patience is the key. Lots and lots and lots of patience. And not being hungry when you start, that’s also important. If you begin to feel peckish, resist the urge to turn up the oven; instead pour a glass of wine and go stalk someone on Facebook, or whatever it is you usually do to distract yourself. Temperature knob twiddling will not yield melt in your mouth meat, no sir.

This recipe is from Tessa Kiros’ wonderful book Falling Cloudberries. I heart her style of cooking so much; it’s simple, totally unpretentious, and unbelievably delicious.

Tava – Cypriot baked lamb and potatoes with cumin and tomatoes

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Potato and egg salad with fennel and lemon

I’m all about dinner salads; love them I do. It’s great to pile loads of tasty and (sometimes) healthy food onto a plate and call it dinner. Add a dash of dressing, crusty bread for some dippage and you have a great mid-week supper.

Although, perhaps this dinner salad lark is just another way for me to delude myself into thinking I’m healthy.

This recipe is absolutely wonderful; I’ve adapted it from Epicurious and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It takes minutes to prepare and has a beautiful array of flavours and textures. Boring oul egg salad it ain’t! Let it brighten up a midweek dinner table near you, and soon.

Potato and egg salad with fennel and lemon

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Pretty potato salad

Look at how pretty spuds can be! So pretty in fact, I will have to revert to their proper title and start to call them potatoes. How fancy.

I had never intended to post this; it was simply going to be a random Thursday dinner. I had green beans that I needed to use. I had some spuds, I spotted some juicy baby roma tomatoes in the corner shop, and that was going to be it. But once it was all on a plate, it all looked so gosh darned pretty, that I just had to take a snap and share it with you all.

Just goes to show, all you need for a yummy dinner is super fresh ingredients and zilch all else.

Pretty potato salad

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Bœuf bourguignon and posh potatoes

Like all of my fellow countrymen (and women), I enjoy the odd spud. But then who doesn’t? Spuds are great. They are super cheap and filling (making them a firm favourite during my student days), but they’re also unbelievably versatile. As a famous hobbit once said, you can “boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew” not to mention bake them, gratin then, fry them, ferment them, and the list goes on! Well ladies and gentlemen, this weekend I brought the humble spud to whole new levels of fanciness: I got me a potato ricer.

I can just hear my Dad now, saying that it was far from potato ricers he was reared and sure what’s wrong with an ordinary masher and a bit of elbow grease? Well Dad, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But with a ricer I promise you, you will make the most yumbo, softest, un-lumpy, creamy mashed spuds you’ve ever had in your life.

So, then all I had to do was think of something equally fancy to serve with the spuds. I figured beef bourguignon was almost posh enough. The spuds still held their own though, fair dues to them.

Bœuf bourguignon and posh potatoes

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