Friday, March 16, 2012


Since it's St Patrick's Day tomorrow, I thought I'd share one of my favourite Irish recipes. It's a very simple recipe and it centres, of course, around the simple potato.

Colcannon (or caulcannon) is essentially mashed potato with stuff added into it. What "stuff" you wish to use is up to you - the most traditional addition was cabbage, but over time people started using kale, silverbeet and even spinach. I say use whatever you like or have in the kitchen.

Serves 4

5-6 medium sized Ruby Lou potatoes, peeled and diced
100g butter
2 tbsp milk (use cream if you have any)
Salt and pepper
2 large handfuls of greens, finely shredded or chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 spring onions, finely sliced

Boil the potatoes in a large pot of water for 15 minutes, or until they are cooked and tender. Drain well - you don't want soggy potato! Add in the butter, milk, a decent amount of salt and a small pinch of pepper. Mash well.

Add the greens, parsley and spring onion. Stir well then serve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

According to the powers that be (ie: Wikipedia), spaghetti alla puttanesca is literally called "whore's spaghetti". Charming. I don't know why it's called whore's spaghetti, possibly because it's a little tangy and salty.

This pasta dish is pantry cooking at its finest. I always tend to have pasta and a tin of tomatoes in the pantry, a three-quarters-used jar of olives in the fridge and a lemon that's looking a bit worse for wear in the fruit bowl. This meal is very quick and easy to cook which makes it the perfect mid-week dinner.

But please note, you don't have to be an Italian whore to enjoy this!

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca
(Serves 4-6)

350g dried spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers
1 red chilli, finely chopped (take out the seeds if you don't like much heat)
1/4 cup olives, sliced (green, black, stuffed, pitted, whatever you have you can use!)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of dried oregano
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
2 130g tins of "no drain" tuna (optional)
A small handful of fresh parsley or basil, roughly chopped (optional)
Lemon juice

Put the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions.

In a large pan (I use a heavy-based frying pan), heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the garlic, capers and chilli. Fry for a minute to release all those aromas and flavours.

Then add the olives, cinnamon, oregano, tomatoes and (if using) the tuna. Cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened a little and then season it generously with salt and pepper.

When it's cooked, drain the spaghetti and add it to the sauce. Stir well, add the fresh parsley or basil and squeeze over a bit of lemon juice, then serve with a green salad, some fresh crusty bread and a glass of chilled white wine.