Blame it on Barney

Well here we are then. It was my sis-in-law who suggested I start a blog when she saw that I’d had a recipe printed in the readers’ recipes section of a weekend paper. I instantly dismissed it with a “Who me? Nah.” After all, having a recipe published is a bit like having a letter published, except without the wit and/or bile. What in my life is interesting enough to write about, I asked myself, and who, in any case, would want to read it?

But when I was stuck in one day while Storm Barney did its thing (why are we naming storms now? Hurricanes, yes; a bit of wind, really?) and really bored and staring at the tangle of socks that needed sorting in the washing basket, I thought, what the hell, why not? I used to write for a living (albeit about pensions and mortgages) and loved it, but haven’t put pen to paper, as it were, since I gave up my job when my eldest son was 18 months old (he’s now 13). I also spend a bordering-on-odd amount of time either thinking about food or cooking (but mainly the thinking part) so putting some of these thoughts down would maybe not be such a bad idea. It doesn’t really matter if no one reads it, it will provide the perfect distraction from the humdrum of house-based chores, while at the same time provide me with an illusion that I am actually doing something constructive with my time.

I have to warn you that I am seriously technically-challenged and struggle to take a decent photo (especially at tea time when its dark), so this blog will probably look a bit shit for a while, at least until I find my way around, but hey ho, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Kale and roasted roots salad

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I’ll start with that recipe I managed to get into print. Unlike a lot of the recipes I plan to post, this is definitely not one for the kids, or in my case, not one for the husband either, both of whom would run for the hills if I ever tried to give them kale. It is very yummy though, and despite my initial cynicism about coconut oil, it definitely brings a warmth to this winter salad. By all means, rub the stuff in your hair or on your cuticles, but you will smell like a bounty bar. You have been warned.

Serves 2 with leftover roasted veg

I haven’t given rigid quantities as you can add more or less of each element according to taste. I roast the beetroot separately so it’s colour doesn’t leech into the other veg, although this is not strictly necessary.

For the roasted beetroot
Beetroot 2 large peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
Cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon
Coconut oil 1 tablespoon

For the rest of the roasted veg
Fennel bulbs 2 sliced from root to tip in 1/2 cm slices
Parsnips 3 medium peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
Sweet potatoes 2 washed and chopped into bite sized pieces
Coconut oil 1 tablespoon
Fennel seeds 1 teaspoon
A pinch of chilli flakes (I use the milder Turkish ones) or a teaspoon of ras el hanout works well too

Kale 4 handfuls
Coconut oil
A scattering of dried cranberries and unsalted pistachio kernels
A squeeze of orange juice to taste
Chopped fennel herbs or dill 1 tablespoon
Salt and pepper

1. Place 2 trays in an oven preheated to 200 degrees C (fan) with a tablespoon of coconut oil on each to melt. Remove from oven when the oil has melted, then in one toss the beetroot, cumin seeds and salt and pepper and in the other the remaining root veg, spices and seasoning. Roast veg until tender and beginning to caramelise around the edges – about 45 minutes turning the veg over in the oil once or twice during cooking.
When the veg has cooked drain on kitchen paper to remove excess oil.
2. Sauté 2 handfuls of kale per person in a little more coconut oil on a medium heat for about 3 minutes – you want it to retain some bite and if it browns a bit round the edges this is a good thing.
3. Toss the kale and a couple of handfuls of each of the roasted roots in a bowl with a scattering of pistachio kernels and dried cranberries. Squeeze over about a tablespoon of orange juice (lemon would work too) and stir in the chopped herbs.
Check the seasoning then serve as it is, warm or cold, with a smug smile or with a crumbling of feta or goats cheese.

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