Broad Bean Pilaf

Broad Bean Pilaf

This pilaf turns up in both Turkish and Persian cooking. Pilaf or pilav is present in one form or another from Turkey to India to Kazakhstan, where they call it plov. I got this recipe from Sam Clark’s Moro cookbook.  It tastes great, is good for you and is simple to make. The only slight drawback is that it requires a little advance planning to soak the rice and broad beans, if using dried ones. The rest is child’s play only takes about 20 minutes. You can eat on its own, in which case this recipe should be enough for four good portions. As a side dish you can reckon with six to eight portions.


Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 15mins + 3 hours soaking
Cooking: 25mins


Md bunch
Sm. bunch
Basmati rice
Podded broad beans (or 150g dried broad beans)
Butter (plus splash of oil)
Shallot or small onion
Flat leaved parsley

25cm frying and lid


First wash the rice several times in cold water until it runs clear. Then cover in lukewarm water and add a tablespoon of sea salt. Don’t worry if it seems a lot, it will be washed off later. The salt helps stop the rice from splitting during cooking. Soaking the rice for this long (3 hours) helps match the cooking time to that of the broad beans. If you are using dried broad beans you can soak these at this time too, in fact an hour earlier is even better. For fresh beans, unless you’ve got early specimens, you’ll probably need to remove the outer skin, which can be a bit indigestible. The easiest way to do this is blanch the beans for a minute or two to loosen the skin and then peel them.

When it’s time to cook, slice the shallot finely and chop the scallions using all the green. Chop the dill and parsley coarsely. Put the pan over a medium heat and add the butter with a small spash of oil. When foaming add the shallot, scallions and allspice. Fry until soft and the shallot is starting to colour (about 10 minutes). Meanwhile drain the rice and rinse off the excess salt. Drain the beans.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat with butter. Add the beans and two-thirds of the dill and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and mix everything gently together. Add enough water (or stock) to cover by about 5mm. Cover with damp greaseproof paper and turn up the heat. When it starts to boil, put a lid on the pan, and leave to cook for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and leave for another 5 minutes. At this stage, the water should be fully absorbed and the rice quite fluffy.

Spoon the pilaf on to a warmed platter and sprinke with the remaining dill and parsley. Serve with a little [[link entry=”13″ text=”yoghurt”]].

Dressed Puy Lentils

Dressed Puy Lentils

Lentils are tasty and high in protein. They form an important part of a vegetarian diet, and indeed the largely vegetarian Indian diet has resulted in many delicious recipes, such as tarka dal,  for all sorts of lentils. In France the bluey-greeny Puy Lentils are a common accompaniment to lamb and other dishes. Puy lentils cook quite quickly without the need for presoaking. This is a considerable advantage. A very simple dish is to chop a shallot very finely and fry gently in butter or oil for a few minutes in a saucepan until soft. Then add 1 cup of puy lentils, which you have picked over to catch any pebbles etc. Stir the lentils carefully to coat with the oil. Then add 3 cups of water. Don’t add any salt at this stage as it can make the skins tough. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, partially covered, until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Add a dressing of 1 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar to 3 tablespoons of good olive oil. Do this while the lentils are still warm. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature. There is easily enough for six side portions. Any leftovers can be kept for several days in the fridge.

The Saga of the Christmas Turkey

Christmas Dinner

This year Anna’s farmer brother, John, very kindly offered us one of his hand-reared turkies for the Christmas dinner. Being forewarned that they were on the large side got us thinking about what to do with the bird. We picked up one of the smaller ones, as seen in the picture, but it still weighed in at around 10kg, and came with all the giblets.

We decided there and then to remove the crown and save the legs and wings for future dinners. After dissection, the crown still looked pretty big, so we weighed it and found it to be 4kg: obviously too big for the two of us, so we split it in two. I made about 3.5 litres of very nice turkey stock out of the carcass, of which I froze about 2 litres for future use in soups and the like.

So, read on to see what we did with this magnificent specimen!

Christmas Dinner

Since we were only cooking the crown, we were naturally worried about it drying out. We decided to give it a two-stage preparation, suggested by Domini Kemp in the Irish Times. On the evening before, we poached it in a cider, water and orange juice liquor, suitably enhanced with salt, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. After simmering for about a half an hour, we turned off the heat and left whole thing to cool with the lid on until the dinner time the next day. We then smothered it with butter and roasted it on a bed of coarsely chopped root vegetables, along with a lemon and a splash of white wine, for about 45 minutes. The turkey stayed lovely and moist. We accompanied it with potatoes roasted in goose fat, peppered sprouts and buttered carrots, as well as a nice gravy made with some of the stock. Very tasty. Pacing ourselves, we made sure we left some room for a bit of cheese and Christmas pudding!


One of the fun bits about the Christmas Turkey is finding ways of using up the rest of the bird. This is what we did this year.

Turkey Soup

We actually had our first left-over on Christmas Eve. Using meat pulled off the carcass and the neck after making the stock, along with some slices from the heart and gizzard and carrots from the stock, we put together a delicious soup.

Turkey Pizza

Covered a base with a little tomata pizza sauce, then sprinkled on some turkey, brie cheese and cranberry sauce. Cooked for 10 minutes in a very hot oven. Really good. Have to confess to buying a prepared base, but there are good bases for sale: ours was from Pizza del Piero in Rathmines, Dublin.

Turkey Quesadilla

Basically the same as the pizza without the tomato sauce, but the filling is sandwiched between two flour tortillas and fried on both sides with a good knob of butter.

Turkey Pie

Cut chunks off the crown. Unbelievably not quite gone yet. Made a nice velouté, enriched with some cream, mustard and a little grated gruyere. Added the turkey and some baby onions, which had previously been peeled and fried until golden. Topped with a puff pastry lid and cooked in a very hot oven until the pastry was golden. Delicious


On New Years Day, we cut the last few chunks from the crown and used in place of chicken/pork in a delicious paella dish, which I’ll post soon. Due to the limited supplies in the shops I had to replace the spinach with pak choi from the local Asian shop. Tasted a bit different but still very good.