Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spelt for Health

Many people develop intolerance or allergic reactions to certain foods as adults. Cathy Whitty, the mother of my friend Yvonne, who I used to work with in my Archaeology days, discovered she was wheat intolerant a few years ago, when a very bad reaction landed her in hospital. Of course, until then, she was unaware that wheat was causing her any harm...

After that, she started baking her own bread with spelt flour at home and the local health food shop in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow, started placing orders. I was working with Yvonne and her brother David at the time and they used to share some of the homemade bread on site - the recipe was highly secret though! or so I was told.

That same year, Cathy's bread recipe won the Supervalu 'Recipe for success' competition and her business started to take off from there, getting her breads onto the shelves of some selected Supervalu stores. Eventually, she moved on to pre-packed mixes and the sachets are now available in many supermarkets, specialist and health food shops around the country. The range includes wheat-free bread mixes as well as wheat-free flapjack mixtures and other tasty sweet treats.

ON her site Cathy's Spelt for Health you can find stockists near you, as well as links to her Facebook page, where she runs competitions and shares some wheat-free recipes (including pancakes!).

And here are some videos on how easy it is to use the mixtures:

Cathy's Spelt For Health from fiona whitty on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The vegetable patch comes back to life

So the vegetable patch (and the patio veggie beds) is coming back to life again:

the winter vegetables we thought we'd be eating in the winter are thriving (we have now discovered it only meant you have to plant them in the winter), herbs are shooting up (specially the mint, thyme and parsley), the strawberry plants are spreading like mad and most part of the summer veggies have been planted or seeded.

Mr. M is looking for new plastic for his homemade green house to cover up the tomato plants and I'm just concerned about little 'pexego' (the little miracle baby peach tree) as it doesn't seem to be getting any new shoots. Mr M says it looks like it's dead but I still have some hope it will survive.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Magic teapot

here's a picture of our teapot taken yesterday during breakfast, while enjoying the first taste of summer weather in Gorey, Co. Wexford.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to make chicken croquettes

Spanish-style croquettes, or croquetas, are a handy and tasty way of using leftover meat, specially chicken and ham. A very recession-friendly recipe. In Spain, they are commonly also made with salted cod or serrano cured ham. The combination of bechamel and salty ingredients gives them a good balance in flavour.

This was one of my favourite dinners as a kid, even the frozen croquettes you can buy in any Spanish supermarket, specially the cod and serrano ones. In Ireland, I tend to make them whenever there is leftover chicken after a roast, for example.

The ingredients needed:


-olive oil


-shredded or very finely chopped leftover chicken or ham meat

-bread crumbs (you can get them in the shop or you can make your own by grating stale bread)

-1 egg

The first step is to make a very thick bechamel. Start it by heating a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil in a pan, then mix in some flour (200gr or so), add a pinch of salt and keep stirring the milk in one bit a the time until you get a lump-free thick bechamel sauce (it should be difficult to keep stirring with the wooden spoon).

Add the meat bits, stirr a bit and leave to cool. I usually leave the mixture to set in the fridge for 24 hours or so. The following day, the mixture should be very solid and this is when the fun begins.

Use two dessert spoons to create uniform-ish lumps of mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and have the bread crumbs ready on another plate. This is a three-step process: roll the ball, dip in the egg, cover in breadcrumbs. Once each croquette is covered in breadcrumbs, use your hands to compress them a bit so the crumbs stick to the mixture.

Then you are ready to fry them until they are golden all around. Use kitchen roll to soak some of the fat from frying them, and enjoy them. They go well with some mixed salad and they are a great packed lunch treat when they are cold.