Grow your taste buds
Growing your own produce may be a step back in time, but Darina Allen's tasty recipes give you modern ways to use your garden harvest
Kale, Leek, Mushroom & ricotta strata
A strata is a savoury bread and butter pudding. We make many delicious combinations but this one was inspired by Claire Ptak's version at Violet Bakery in London. A brilliant vegetarian main course.
900g stale white sourdough bread
Butter, for spreading
Green salad, to serve
For the filling: 3 large leeks, sliced 2cm thick (white part only)
25g butter, plus extra for greasing
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped marjoram or rosemary
500g kale, such as Cavolo Nero, curly or Red Russian kale
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (pul biber)
250g flat mushrooms, thinly sliced
110g Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
25g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
100g buffalo ricotta
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the savoury custard: 8 organic eggs
5 tablespoons double cream
370ml full-fat milk
Grated fresh nutmeg
First, prepare the leeks - trim the green tops, wash and add to the stockpot. Wash and slice the blanched white ends. Heat the butter and two tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauté pan, and when it foams add the sliced leeks. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to coat. Add the freshly chopped herbs, cover and sweat for 8-10 minutes until soft and not coloured.
Strip the kale off the stalks and roughly chop the leaves. Cook the kale in boiling salted water (3 teaspoons of salt to 3.4 litres of water) for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Cook in batches if necessary. Drain very well. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and the Aleppo pepper. Add to the leeks.
Sauté the sliced mushrooms in the remaining olive oil in a hot pan, in batches if necessary, seasoning each batch as you cook. Add to the leek and kale mixture.
Next, whisk the ingredients together for the savoury custard. Add ƒ teaspoon of salt, lots of freshly ground pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg.
Butter a 20cm x 30cm roasting tin or lasagne dish. Slice the bread thinly; butter lightly and remove the crusts. Arrange a layer of bread on the base of the buttered roasting tin. Taste the kale mixture and correct the seasoning if necessary.
Spread half of the kale mixture evenly over the bread followed by half the Gruyère, Parmesan and ricotta. Top with another layer of bread, the remaining kale mixture, and the remaining cheese and ricotta, saving a little Parmesan to sprinkle over the top. Top with a layer of bread, buttered side up.
Pour the custard evenly over the strata. Cover and chill for at least an hour for the bread to absorb the custard or overnight, if possible.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Bake for 50 minutes-1 hour or until the top is golden and the custard has just set. Leave to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into portions. Serve warm with a good green salad.
Fish Tacos with Salsa Verde & Radishes
These are pretty addictive and best when both the tortillas and fish are still warm and the radishes are fresh and crunchy.
Tuck in the peppery leaves to add a little more zing to the tacos.
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Extra virgin olive oil
110g radishes, sliced
4 small spring onions, sliced at an angle
½-1 chilli, deseeded and chopped
700g John Dory or sea bass, skinned and cut into chunks
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, roasted and ground
12 corn tortillas, about 15cm in diameter
½ cucumber, halved, deseeded and cut in long slivers at an angle
Lime wedges, to serve
For the salsa verde:
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 9.
First make the salsa. Whizz the coriander, 2 tablespoons of water, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill.
Mix the lime juice, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the sliced radishes, spring onions and chilli together. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Brush a baking sheet with a little oil. Lay the fish fillets on the tray in a single layer. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of ground coriander. Roast for 3-4 minutes.
Meanwhile, hold the corn tortillas, one at a time, over a gas flame with a tongs for about 30 seconds to warm.
Fill each tortilla with a couple of chunks of fish, the radish, spring onion and chilli salad, and a couple of pieces of cucumber. Drizzle with salsa, fold over and repeat with the others.
Serve three tacos per person with a wedge of lime.
Burmese Pork & Potato Curry
We found a version of this dish in virtually every local restaurant in Myanmar, and the pork was always fat and succulent. I learned this version at a cooking class at the Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort. The chef used water and included a teaspoon of 'chicken seasoning' but I have substituted some homemade chicken stock instead. I have also reduced the chilli powder, but you can use the maximum quantity if you like it super hot. The sauce is packed with flavour, it reheats brilliantly and even a little will electrify a bowl of rice.
450g fat streaky heritage pork with rind
350g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
110g onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large ripe tomato or 6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½-1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
½ teaspoon Indian masala (see below)
1.4 litres homemade chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sticky or basmati rice, to serve
For the Indian masala (makes 1 dsp):
2 bay leaves
2.5cm piece of cinnamon stick
1 whole star anise
3 cloves, crushed
For the pork marinade:
½-1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
½ teaspoon Indian masala
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
For the potato marinade: ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon fish sauce (nam pla)
To make the Indian masala, whizz the ingredients in a spice grinder or crush in a pestle and mortar and mix together.
Cut the pork into 2cm strips. Mix the pork marinade ingredients together and rub all over the pork with your fingers. Leave to marinate for 45 minutes-1 hour.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a bowl and add the ingredients for the potato marinade. Toss to mix. The turmeric stops the potato from blackening.
Heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, add the crushed garlic, grated ginger, chopped tomatoes, turmeric, chilli powder, fish sauce and Indian masala. Stir well and add 125ml of the chicken stock. Cook for 2-3 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated.
Add the pork pieces and enough of the remaining chicken stock to almost cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1ƒ hours until the pork is almost tender.
Remove the lid, add the cubed potatoes and cook, uncovered, for a further 20-30 minutes until the pork and potatoes are tender. Season to taste. Serve with sticky or basmati rice.