Tag Archives: Vegetables

Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake- Just Mix it

My Father in law was going away recently and gave me some items from his fridge to use up. There were three cooked and peeled bulbs of beetroot in a bowl. Hmm I said. Salad? nah. Cake? Yes! And I’m not a fan of the hiding vegetables-in-cake brigade, as

a) My family EAT vegetables

b) I’m hesitant about the nutritional value of the said vegetable post bake

Anyway, in this case the beetroot needed using, so chocolate cake ensued. Beetroot is almost always organically grown as it is resistant to most pests. Good News.  But grows best in cooler climes, so with the onset of climate change definitely starting to affect us here… Bad News.

9/365 Beetroot

Chocolate and Beetroot Loaf Cake


150g of cooked beetroot (simply boil in it’s scrubbed skin until soft, then peel)

140g plain white flour

1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder

60g good quality cocoa powder

150g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

140g sunflower oil

50g dark chocolate, chopped


Heat your oven to 170oC.  Grease a good quality loaf tin, and line with baking paper, bringing it well up the sides. Unusually I am using my Kenwood food processor, that I normally wouldn’t DREAM of making cakes in.  (and yes, since you’re asking I dream about making cakes ALL the time)
Beetroot Cake

Anyway, I digress.  “Blend” the beetroot until like little grated chunks. Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, vanilla, eggs and cocoa.  Blend again slowly then add the oil down through the chute until you get a nice sloppy cake consistency.  You may need to scoot around the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is nicely blended.

Pour/ scoop into the prepared tin and sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.

Beetroot Cake

Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 40 minutes or until the skewer comes out almost clean.  Leave in the tin to cool down completely.

This is a rich, dense cake that lends itself to be eaten with some softly whipped cream. And no, you don’t taste the beetroot.
Beetroot Cake


All singing and dancing Vegetables!

Honestly the veggies don’t have to be “The norm”.  But there’s nothing wrong with just having some carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts.

The much maligned Brussels sprout is a member of one the cabbage families grown for its edible buds. This leafy Green vegetable is typically 2.5–4cm in diameter and look like miniature cabbages.  The Brussels sprout has long been popular in Brussels, Belgium and may have originated and gained its name there.   According to the English food writer Jane Grigson, they are first mentioned in the city of Brussels’s market regulations in 1213.

Here’s two alternatives to simply chopping and boiling for your green veggies. Both can actually made up until the final plating the day before.  And although you’ll be busy Christmas Eve, Christmas day will be a bit easier.

Lemony Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Breadcrumbs


450g Brussels sprouts, trimmed

150g diced pancetta (Italian bacon),

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

200g coarse fresh breadcrumbs

1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

Remove outer leaves from Brussels sprouts; set aside. Halve the sprouts; set aside.

Cook the pancetta, stirring often, until browned around the edges about 4 minutes.  Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer this breadcrumb mixture to paper towels and let cool slightly. Toss in a medium bowl with the diced chilli, thyme, and lemon zest.

Increase heat to medium-high and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in same frying pan.  Add reserved halved Brussels sprouts; season with salt.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until deeply browned all over, 5–8 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover, add reserved leaves and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and toss to combine. Cover pan again and cook, tossing occasionally, until leaves are bright green and just wilted, 4–5 minutes. Uncover; add the remaining lemon juice.

Transfer Brussels sprouts to a platter, drizzle with more oil, and top with reserved breadcrumb mixture (reheat breadcrumb mixture if needed in a small pan)

Do Ahead: Breadcrumb mixture can be made 3 hours ahead; store uncovered at room temperature. Brussels sprouts (without leaves) can be cooked 2 hours ahead; store covered at room temperature. Reheat before adding leaves.


Kale Gratin
Curly Kale, Purple Kale & Cavolo Nero-2015-01-12 16.45.56

A couple of slices of country ham or prosciutto

200g coarse fresh breadcrumbs

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

200g finely grated Parmesan

2 bunches kale (about 450g) and stems removed

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

450ml whole milk

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Preheat oven to 180°C.  Place ham on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until crisp, 20–25 minutes; let cool and break into pieces.

Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan; toast over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat and add thyme and ¼ cup Parmesan; season with salt and pepper. Mix in ham and set aside.  You can put this in a container at this stage and store in the fridge for a couple of days.

Cook the kale in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender and bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl of ice water, and let cool. Drain and squeeze dry with paper towels. Coarsely chop greens and place in a large bowl.

Heat remaining olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until softened and golden, 15–20 minutes. Transfer to bowl with greens; set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 200°C.  Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth and very pale brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, ½-cupful at a time; add the grated nutmeg.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, whisking often, until thickened, 5–8 minutes. Whisk in remaining ¾ cup Parmesan. Add béchamel to green kale and mix to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Transfer this mixture to a pie dish and top with breadcrumb mixture; place pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet (to preserve your oven!). Bake until gratin is bubbling, 15–20 minutes.  Let cool slightly before serving. Divine.

Kale gratin

A French Supermarket marathon

I love to shop in a French Supermarket.  The bigger the better. The one we visited in Strasbourg was just mahoosive. We were of course on a mission. To purchase as much as we could, for as reasonable a price as we could, for the team in Switzerland for the next two weeks.  So this meant LOTS of pasta etc.  With enough fresh produce to see himself and myself over the weekend until everyone arrives.

E. Leclerc is one of the main supermarkets in France, along with Carrefour (another firm favourite.  And my kids were probably counting their luck stars that they weren’t being dragged along.  As it was I’d say I looked a little like a Chinese tourist in Trinity College- click, click, click.

Of Course the first thing you see in a french supermarket is all the wine.

French Supermarkets


And all the cheese

French Supermarket Shopping

Every type of cheese including my all tine favourite Tete a moine

And all the fish

French Supermarkets


And all the veg and salads.

French Supermarkets

I have a serious tomato fetish. Seriously.

Basically it’s like an Irish Supermarket on steroids.  And not only does the french supermarket stock only in season vegetables, it also stocks cheese that’s in season.  Oh yeah baby.  I was in HEAVEN.

French Supermarkets

A little more choice than just “superquinn” sausages here!

The patisserie caught my eye (OBVS) and after drooling carelessly over just about everything I persuaded himself to sit down for a coffee to *try* a little something out.  You know, cause we were on holidays??  It’s very convenient to have a cafe in the middle of the Supermarket. As we were actually starting to wane at that stage!

French Supermarkets

“Come to Mama”


I could have taken a thousand pictures, and will take more when we are back in France in two weeks time.  It’ll be interesting to compare it to the Swiss Supermarket.  We will see if the rumours about price are true.  I really hope not, as we’ve a lot of mouths to feed!