SURPRISING PEARINGS Barbecued pears go fantastically well with lamb chops.
Not many walks of life advise you to keep making mistakes! Yet in culinary practice this is to be firmly advocated. It is by trial and error that you learn. Like in fishing, the fish landed without trouble or strife can easily be forgotten while the ‘one that got away’ always stays in the mind as inspiration and motivation to improve the next time.
I don’t believe in a perfect world, and take no shame from my culinary mishaps. A lettuce soup, over-roasted meats, too much garlic, a flavour mismatch of raisins with turmeric – all recent duds for me. But hey, I’m lucky and thankful to have such and any foods to hand, so we are grateful. When mistakes happen, you simply give thanks and move on, and occasionally you get it right, and you can share your successes with others.
Sometimes, along the way, you’ll discover a cracking taste and texture combination that will become a new favourite.
Lamb and barbecued pear
While at a recent big roundy birthday party for my schoolfriend Timmy I was interested to see among the barbecued sausages and chops a plate of halved pears that had been grilled over the coals.
I checked were they for dessert, but I was assured they were part of the savoury offering. I tried them. With their blackened lines from the barbecue, they were soft, sweet and slightly smoky, and what’s more they complemented the lamb chops stacked on a plate besides the. How weird and how successful. Take a bow Timmy!
Courgette, peppers and mint
As the spring days lengthen, we’ll soon find ourselves wanting to do more outdoor cooking. Why not amp up the veg intake? Top and tail some washed courgettes, slice them lengthways with skin on to give long strips you can grill, using a brush to oil lightly either side. You could add crushed garlic to the oil if you like. Do the same with length-ways halved peppers, and pop them and the courgettes on the barbecue.
Combine remaining the some more olive oil with lemon juice, shredded mint and black pepper in a small bowl; add lemon zest to taste and whisk together. Drizzle over your veg before serving.
Butter beans and honey dressing
This delicious combo is great as a healthy protein lunch. Simply drain and wash a tin of butter beans, and wash and slice finely two chives, using both the white and green parts. In a cup, mix five tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of salt, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons of honey. Mix well and pour over the beans and chives.
Pork with mussels with cider
Nothing wrong with a bit of surf and turf. Chop up three pork shoulder chops with their fat and place into a roasting tray. Add three whole cloves garlic with their skin on, two teaspoons of cayenne pepper and dried sage. Pour in a half can of cider.
Cook in the oven, uncovered, at 190°C for 30 minutes, then turn down to 180°C, cover with tin foil and cook for another 15 minutes. Add your washed and cleaned mussels and cook for another 15 minutes, until all the shells have opened.
Serve in bowl-plates with spoons and crusty bread or rice.
Boiled carrots and fennel
Bring the unique anise or licorice flavour of fennel to your carrots. In salted water, boil four washed or peeled carrots that have been cut lengthways to two-inch quarters. Boil them for just three minutes to leave a crunch, then drain, add a good sized knob of butter and one tablespoon of fennel seeds. Stir over a medium heat for about three minutes. The butter melts and the fennel seeds give out their flavour as they heat up. Serve in a warm bowl. These carrots go great with fish and mash.
Enjoy making your culinary mistakes and enjoy the occasional hit!
The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.