The elbowroom escape, located in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, has an exciting announcement to make! Foodie and owner of The elbowroom escape, Lisa Wilkinson, and head chef Caitríona Nic Philibín have launched a sustainable, seasonal gourmet cooking school. Following their successful running of a vegetarian and vegan café in Dublin, this new venture uses only local, seasonal produce, much of which is grown in their kitchen gardens.
This article – explaining the ins and outs of chilli and chilli culture – was brought to you by our resident gardening expert, Hans Wieland in our Spring 2018 issue. He also provided us with a delicious chilli sauce recipe. Here, we share the article in its entirety. Read it and learn how to bring a touch of inspiration into your kitchen!
The Cult of Chillies: Growing vegetables that make a difference
By Hans Wieland
Chilli Peppers, Bell Peppers, Hot Peppers, Sweet Peppers, Cayenne Peppers, Spanish Peppers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, what have they all in common? Confused?
Ok, the last “variety” the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a funk-rock band from Los Angeles is only around since 1983, and all the others have nothing in common with black pepper (Piper nigrum), but are in fact all species of the genus Capsicum. Commonly we distinguish between the sweet and mild peppers and the hot and more pungent chillies, the topic of our article. Most of our common chillies come from one species, Capsicum annum, which was first cultivated in Mexico at least 5000 years ago.
The cult story of chillies begins with Columbus, who thought he found the (black) pepper and continues with the colonial trading power of the Portuguese bringing the chilli everywhere, leading to India becoming the biggest producer. The Aztec word of the native Nahuatl was chilli, which means red. Botanically speaking all peppers are fruits; however, they are correctly considered vegetables in a culinary context. The success story of the chilli is remarkable as the world production and consumption is now 20 times that of black pepper, the other major pungent spice (On Food and Cooking, p 418).
Hungary has its Paprika, Spain its Pimenton, Italy its Peperoni and in China chilli is a major spice in Sichuan and Hunan, but Mexico remains the most advanced country when it comes to chilli culture, it being a major ingredient in Salsas. At Neantog Kitchen Garden School we grow it mainly to produce our own sauces (see recipe below). The beauty of growing it yourself is in the choice of varieties, from mild to super-hot.
What makes Chillies so special?
It is Capsaicin, the active chemical ingredient, contained in the placenta, the tissue that bears the seeds. The variety and the growing conditions – high temperatures and the length of the season – contribute to the amount of capsaicin produced. The heat of a chilli is measured on the Scoville Scale in Scoville heat units (SHU), or capsaicin concentration, named after its creator, US pharmacist Wilbur Scoville. SHU values range from 0 in a sweet bell pepper to 2,000,000-2,200,000 in a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion or Carolina Reaper. Naturally, there is the burning sensation in our mouth which for some is pure pleasure.
How to grow chillies
As Chillies love heat and light, it makes them an ideal crop for growing in polytunnels in Ireland. Some varieties are also suitable for pots in a conservatory. Two or three plants yield more than enough for a family for a year. Chilli peppers require a long growing season and are best sown from early February until mid-March at the latest. I sow them in modules on a heat propagator at 20 degrees Celsius. Once they have germinated I transfer them to 7cm wide pots using potting compost. Three or four weeks later they can be potted on to 1litre pots. In early May in mild areas or in mid- to late-May in cooler areas I plant them into the polytunnel spaced 50cm apart and staked, to prevent them from falling over when the branches get heavy with fruits. Apart from regular watering, there is little else you need to do.
Chillies can be harvested throughout the summer whenever required. All chillies start off green and then turn into their final colour. Green chillies are a little less hot. Towards the end of the growing season in October I usually harvest all the remaining chillies and dry them in the kitchen. They will last for well over a year.
Here are my favourite varieties:
Jalapeno, (C. annuum), a classic from Mexico, with bullet shaped fruits, green to red and medium hot (2500 – 8000 SHU)
Ring of Fire, Cayenne type, (C. annuum), long, thin, pointed pods, (30 000 – 50 000 SHU)
Tabasco, (C. frutescens), named after the Mexican state Tabasco and also the name of the Louisiana produced hot sauce, (30 000 – 50 000 SHU). The chilli for the fermenters to make their own variety of the famous sauce.
Habanero, (C. chinense), from Cuba, small bell shaped, yellow, orange or red, (100 000 – 350 000 SHU)
Numex Twilight (C. annuum), the best windowsill chilli I’ve grown; tiny, upright fruit that start purple and ripen to bright red, perfect for those without a garden, ( 30 000 – 50 000 SHU)
Neantog Chilli Sauce:
For 250ml you need:
6 small red chillies (we love Jalapeno, Cayenne and Ring of Fire)
5 cloves of garlic
40 grams ginger
1 stem of lemongrass
Juice of 1 lime/lemon
175 grams of brown sugar
3tsp sea salt
175ml of cider vinegar
175 ml of water
½ tsp of arrow root dissolved in 2 tbsp of water
Chop the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass very finely (use gloves!), mix with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and let simmer for around 15 mins, then add the arrow root powder dissolved in water and bring to the boil to thicken. Fill in hot into sterile glass bottles, close and let cool.
Hans Wieland has worked and taught at The Organic Centre for over 20 years. In May he is “retiring” to Neantog Kitchen Garden School in Cliffoney, again joining his wife Gaby Wieland, herbalist and Naturopath. The couple offer a range of courses and workshops in food growing, fermenting, foraging, cheese making, healthy cooking and baking. www.neantog.com
Looking for the perfect meal to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of spring? Tony Keogh of Cornucopia has got you covered. Below, we share his delicious recipe for leek and courgette barley cake, which features in our Spring 2018 issue.
By Tony Keogh
It’s time to shake off the winter coat – Spring has finally sprung. As the days get longer so too does the list of fresh ingredients on offer. The marriage of the passing winter and the awakening spring is celebrated in this dish. The coupling of beetroot with raspberry, just like the union of courgette and barley, bridge the merging of the seasons.
This dish is surprisingly easy to make. Please do not be put off by the list of ingredients. A bottle of raspberry vinegar or a pot of tahini are two ingredients that you will return to again and again. Metal rings can be purchased in any kitchen store or large supermarket.
The punchy salsa is very versatile and will find a comfortable home in many settings, from a sandwich filler to a salad dressing.
Leek and courgette barley cake in a beetroot tahini cream with pumpkin seed and pea salsa
For the cakes
375 grams barley
1350 ml stock
200 ml white wine
½ head (5 cloves) garlic finely minced
10 grams fresh thyme finely chopped
30 grams corn flour dissolved in 50 ml water
150 grams firm tofu
2 bay leaves
Little lemon juice
For the cream sauce
1 large onion finely diced
1 packet of vacuum packed beetroot
Pinch of chili flake
10 ml raspberry vinegar
500 ml stock
5 grams chopped fresh dill
50 ml apple juice
20 ml tahini
For the salsa
100 grams of pumpkin seeds, toasted Juice of one lemon
100 grams frozen peas, thawed 4 scallions finely chopped
5 grams of freshly chopped mint 15 ml white wine or cider vinegar
Seasoning 10 ml apple juice
Start with the cakes; rinse the barley and add it to a medium heavy based pot, along with the wine, the stock, the bay leaves and the thyme. Bring this to a boil for about 10 minutes and then lower the heat and leave it to simmer for a further 40 minutes.
Quarter the leek lengthways and slice it thinly. Sauté it in a small sauce pan in a little oil until it becomes translucent and soft. Quarter the courgette lengthways and slice it into little quarter moons. Fry these off in a little oil in a medium frying pan and set them aside with the leek.
In a blender, puree the tofu, cornflour mixture and mustard. When the barley is tender, fold the tofu mixture through it. Season it to taste with salt, lemon and black pepper. Remove the bay leaves.
Line an oven tray with parchment paper. Using a metal ring or a large scone cutter, shape mounds of the barley mixture onto the parchment into around 8 large discs – they will hold their shape.
Bake these in pre-heated oven at 200 degrees for around 20 minutes.
To make the sauce; sauté the diced onion in a little oil until soft. Add it to a blender along with the beetroot, chili flakes, raspberry vinegar, stock, dill, apple and tahini. Blend the sauce until it is velvety smooth. If the sauce is grainy it can be passed through a sieve, if it is too thick add a little water to thin it out.
To make the salsa; roughly pulse all the ingredients together in a food processor. Do not over blend – you want to maintain a rough texture.
Flood a serving plate with a little sauce, top with a cake and top the cake with a dollop of salsa.
Cornucopia head chef Tony Keogh has once again provided us with a wonderful recipe to see us through the season ahead. This time, he has invoked the comforting energies of autumn with a crisp, savoury baklava, topped by a generous dollop of butternut squash ice cream. Below is a sneak peek of this delicious recipe. To read it in full, pick up our Autumn 2017 issue from one of our many stockists today.
By Tony Keogh
“Autumn … the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant
The warm summer nights are drawing in and there is an undeniable crispness in the air. As a kid I loved this time of year: the colourful tapestry of leaves, the smell of bonfires, and the changeable September skies. As a grown man, and a chef, I still love it. There is so much wonderful produce available, which always stokes my creativity.
For this season’s recipe I have a savoury take on a sweet classic. This is an elegant dinner piece which is sure to impress. It is also vegan and very simple to make. Making full use of the seasonal bounty available, I am substituting the dried fruit of the usual baklava for a subtly spiced mixture of caramelised onions, celeriac and sun dried tomatoes. This is topped with a smooth and creamy butternut squash ice cream with a hint of rose and lime.
The structure to this recipe is pretty solid, so please feel free to add, substitute or omit any of the vegetables, spices or nuts in the baklava. If you do not like rose or lime in the ice cream, these can be removed also.
This is a sneak peek of Tony Keogh’s recipe from our Autumn 2017 issue. To read the full recipe, pick up a free copy of the magazine at one of our stockists across Ireland now.
By Karen Ward
As a busy mum of two, I know that as we approach winter, prevention is key when it comes to health. So whether you have baby, young children, or teenagers, it’s never too late to give your kids’ immune system a boost. For me healthy food has to be quick or at least easy to prepare, as well as packing a punch in the nutrient-density stakes. But even slow-cooking can be time-friendly.
A reasonably priced slow cooker will be your new best friend. Pop in an organic chicken, carrot, stick of celery, onion and a few cloves of garlic, top up with water and leave it to do its thing! Even if you have to pop out on the school run, you’ll arrive home to the best chicken you have ever tasted and copious amounts of immune-supporting chicken stock for soups, stews and sauces for the week ahead. Chicken stock can inhibit infection caused by cold and flu viruses; great news, as a little goes a long way.
If you want something quick and handy for snacks, take a free hour in the week to spend a bit of time filling and freeze individual zip-lock bags with a mix of berries, ripe bananas and some leafy greens, ready for blending into smoothies as needed in the week ahead.
Feeding their healthy gut bacteria is an important part of winter immunity too but there are lots of simple ways to bring it into foods you’re already eating. Increase your little ones’ intake of Prebiotic rich foods by using oats in pancakes instead of flour and adding leafy vegetables like kale to smoothies. Leeks, garlic and onions all contain the antioxidant quercetin which is both antibiotic and anti-viral and thankfully, not destroyed by cooking. Making a leek and potato soup, or throwing a red onion and garlic into their pasta sauce and blending works a treat and ensures their healthy gut bacteria can survive.
Also make sure to bring in the healthy fats! The health benefits of avocado and coconut oil are immense. Blend half an avocado with three eggs for a delicious green omelette/scrambled egg in the morning or after school, or add half a ripe banana to the mix for delicious pancakes. Cook in them in coconut oil for an extra super-boost, numerous studies show coconut oil possesses potent anti-microbial properties due to its levels of medium chain fats.
Finally don’t forget the importance of making sure the kids get enough sleep. I give mine a bedtime snack rich in Tryptophan such as ½ a ripe banana, two gluten free oatcakes, a small glass of milk or coconut milk, slice of turkey or handful of toasted tamari almonds. Tryptophan is crucial for the production of Melatonin, the sleep neurotransmitter which helps repair and regenerate the immune system while we sleep. It gets secreted in the dark so be sure to turn off the TV nice and early and only use low level lighting in the run up to bedtime.
Some Magic Ingredients
- Cauliflower Power: Often ignored in favour of its famous cousin, broccoli, if you cunningly disguise it as ‘Cauliflower Rice’ or mash with potatoes they will never know! Cauliflower contains glucosinolates, B vitamins and fibre, for a healthy gut and super immune function.
- Go Blueberries: Recent studies show how freezing blueberries increases the anthocyanin concentration, a group of antioxidants that provide the immune system with mega protection by positively influencing gut bacteria. Stock up at your local farmers market now, before they run out.
- Raw Local Honey: Nature’s immune-boosting nectar possesses super microbial properties. Add a teaspoon to homemade pancakes or porridge. For an extra boost if your little ones are brewing a sore throat give them a teaspoon of Manuka Honey. Mine love it spread on pancakes or direct from from the spoon but be sure not to give honey to children under 12 months of age due to the potential for allergy.
- Camu Camu Powder: 100% natural fruit powder boasting impressive vitamin C levels 50 times that of the humble orange. Just half a teaspoon in kids’ daily smoothie/fresh juices works a treat, and it tastes great.
- Replace Sugar: It’s not just about keeping their teeth protected, sugar competes with vitamin C and isn’t the best news for your or your kids’s immune systems. Natural sugars such as lacuma superfood powder confers lovely sweet flavour to all baked foods, nut and seed bars, and is also a great source of vitamin B3 for energy.
Karen Ward is a Nutritional Therapy graduate from the College of Naturopathic Medicine. CNM trains students for careers in a range of natural therapies, including Naturopathic Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Acupuncture and Naturopathy. There are CNM colleges across Ireland, the UK, South Africa and in the US.
Cornucopia Warmed Raw/Living Broccoli and Dillisk soup in Shitake and Tamari Broth
This raw living soup was inspired by Chef Veronica O’Reilly of Healthy Habits Raw Foods café in Wicklow Town who I had the pleasure of working with a few years ago. We introduced this particular soup to Cornucopia Restaurant’s ever growing raw/vegan menu last year as the chilly weather started to catch up on us. This is a raw, albeit slightly warmed soup.
- 400mls Cashew Cream
- 60ml cold pressed Sesame Oil
- 100mls Tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shitake Mushroom Powder
- 14g of dried dillisk seaweed, cut into small pieces using a scissors
- 1 medium carrot, topped, tailed, peeled and grated finely
- 1 scallion, sliced thinly
- 1 small head of broccoli (120g when chopped) finely chopped and marinated overnight in 30mls lemon juice)
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
To Prepare the Cashew Cream, Broccoli and Mushroom Powder:
Make the cashew cream by soaking 100g of cashew nuts in enough water to cover the nuts. Leave in a cool place overnight/8 hours. Drain the cashews, discarding the water. Place the nuts in a high speed blender or hand-held stick blender. Add 250mls fresh water and process until it becomes cashew cream.
Prepare the marinated broccoli by chopping it into very small pieces, and placing in a bowl with the lemon juice and salt. Gently massage the lemon and salt into the broccoli and leave to marinade for at least eight hours also.
To make the mushroom powder, grind a couple of dried shitake mushrooms to a powder. You can use a high speed blender, an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
To assemble the soup:
Place the cashew cream, sesame oil, tamari and shitake powder in a medium sized bowl. Using a whisk, gently stir the ingredients to combine. Add the chopped dillisk, grated carrot, sliced scallion, and then the marinated broccoli into the broth, and stir to combine. Place into a fridge to chill until ready to serve. This will make a very thick broth which will be later mixed with warmed water to serve.
To finish and serve the soup:
Place the broth into four soup bowls, filling the bowls halfway. Boil water in a kettle, letting it cool to about 80*c, then add to the soup to warm.
Baked Winter Crown Prince Pumpkin, Roast Cauliflower Puree with Parsley Tahini Sauce and Dukkah Seasoning
Crown Prince pumpkins are not the most commonly available in Ireland but grow very well in our northerly climate. Also known as ‘winter pumpkin’, they are available in many specialist greengrocers or farmers markets. If you can’t source them, a similar sized butternut squash will work just as well. Dukkah is an Egyptian seasoning that adds a pleasant crunch and excellent flavour . This recipe calls for cold pressed rapeseed oil but a similar virgin olive oil will also work. I like to use smooth dark tahini paste as it has a higher calcium and nutrient content, but again regular tahini will also work as an alternative.
Makes 4 medium servings.
- 1 medium sized Pumpkin/Butternut squash (About 1kg in weight before preparing)
- 15ml virgin rapeseed oil
- 1 medium sized cauliflower (About 1kg in weight)
- 95ml virgin rapeseed oil
- 120ml soymilk
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
Parsley tahini sauce:
- 60g tahini
- 120ml water
- 30ml lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic
- 10g flat parsley
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the dukkah seasoning:
- 90g whole hazelnuts
- 25g brown sesame seeds
- 6g whole corriander seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat your oven to 180*c/350*f
Cut the pumpkin in half lengthways, then slice into eight pieces. Remove the seeds using a spoon and peel each wedge lightly using a vegetable peeler. Place the pumpkin pieces onto a baking tray, brush lightly with the 15mls of rapeseed oil and set aside.
Prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves and stalk. Roughly chop the cauliflower and add 15mls of the rapeseed oil – then place on a baking tray. Set the pumpkin and cauliflower into the oven. The pumpkin will need 35 minutes to cook and the cauliflower will take about 25 minutes.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the tahini sauce by pureeing all the ingredients with a stick blender and set aside. Add the Dukkah ingredients to a dry, roasting pan, and place in the oven to toast for 15 minutes. Gently heat the soymilk in a saucepan. Once the cauliflower has softened and slightly browned, add it to the warmed soymilk and puree. Add the sea salt and then slowly drizzle in the remaining 80ml of rapeseed oil until it has emulsified. Once the dukkah has been toasted, remove from the oven, very coarsely chop and set aside. Remove the pumpkin from the oven for serving.
Divide the cauliflower puree between 4 plates and lightly sprinkle with the dukkah seasoning. Place 2 pieces of baked pumpkin onto each plate and sprinkle with more dukkah seasoning. Finish each plate by pouring the parsley and tahini sauces over the cauliflower puree and baked pumpkin.