Tag Archives: Vinegar

Recipe: Red Onion Relish

Fresh Caramelised Red Onion Relish ready to be stored
Fresh Caramelised Red Onion Relish ready to be stored

Ingredients;

4 large red onions
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons of light muscovado (or brown) sugar
6 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Olive oil

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Start by cutting your onions. I like to do a mix of rings, half moons, chunks and diced to give some variety to the texture. Also finely dice the garlic.

Get a large pan onto a medium heat, If you have a sauté pan with a lid this is your best option. Once the pan is up to temperature add a good lug of olive oil and get all the onion and garlic in, fry this gently for 4-5 minutes until the onions start to soften, then reduce to a low heat and cover them.

Continue to cook like this for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally so they don’t stick. Then add the red wine vinegar (I use a red wine vinegar with raspberry juice, for extra colour) and 2 tablespoons of muscovado sugar. Mix this together and cover again.

Let this simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the liquid has disappeared, again stirring occasionally so nothing sticks.

Mix in the final tablespoon of muscovado sugar and cover for a further 10 minutes, at which point all the liquid should have disappeared – if not give it another few minutes.

When all the liquid has gone this can be served immediately with any hot meats (particularly wonderful with a plain rare steak) or allow it to cool and transfer it to a sealed container and store in your fridge to use cold on sandwiches, with cheese or pretty much any way you would normally use a relish.

Kitchen Essentials: Herbs, Spices and other things in the press

One thing that I’ve found makes cooking regularly a lot easier is having a “stock” selection of certain items close to hand in the kitchen at all times. I’m going to list the ones I always have some of below.

I’m going to start off with dry herbs and spices. If you have these to hand in the kitchen you can almost always make something from the odds and ends in the fridge, what to do with them has come with experience for me but I hope I can prevent some people from having the kitchen disasters I’ve had with my experiments over the years, Citrus stir-fry anyone? that’s how I learnt that tasting as you’re cooking is essential.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, first up the essential dried herbs and spices in no particular order…

  • Table Salt
  • Rock Salt
  • Pepper
  • Black peppercorns
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Cumin Seeds
  • Ground Cumin
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Ground Coriander
  • Chilli flakes
  • Ground Ginger
  • Sesame seeds
  • Paprika
  • 5 spice
  • 7 spice

I keep others as well but these are the ones I use the most.

Next, the bottles…

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (usually a generic brand, I gave up on buying separate Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil a long time ago, as Olive Oil seems to be only available in the supermarkets from the premier brands so why pay €10+ for 1L Olive Oil when I’m paying a quarter for the Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • Sesame oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Dark Soy Sauce

When it comes to Vinegars I just can’t get enough, I’ve listed the essentials above but we have a broad selection of Balsamic vinegars, thick ones, thin ones, mature ones, regional ones I’m estimating about 10 different Balsamics in the press, cause I’m too afraid/embarrassed to count them all :)

So what about fresh stuff, I’ve listed the ones I try to always have below, it’s not always possible but these are rarely off the sopping list.

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Chilli
  • Chives
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Parsnip
  • Potatoes

And yes feel free to point and laugh because I buy fresh herbs instead of growing them in a pot but truth be told I’ve never managed to keep them alive for terribly long, any gardeners out there fancy sharing some hints and tips I’m all ears.

Other Items I like to keep handy are…

  • “Ready for the oven bread rolls” (Fresh bread + selection of oils, vinegars, cheeses and dried meats = ultra quick meal)
  • Fresh Pesto
  • Italian Tomato Sauce
  • A Jar of Pickles or Cornichons
  • Eggs
  • A few different Cheeses
  • Dried meats (Salami, Chorizo, Pancetta, Parma Ham)

Now I know this is a long list but if you are cooking regularly, it won’t be long before you find that you have most of these already, so rather than rush off to the shops and buy them all in one go, build them up as you use them, but once they’re in the collection don’t let them run out :)

Recipe: Italian Tomato Sauce

Italian Tomato Sauce
Italian Tomato Sauce

Ingredients;

1 anchovy fillet
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 large handful of basil, stalks and leaves separated and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
4 x 400g of tinned plum tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

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Chop the garlic as finely as possibly, remove the leaves from the basil and roughly tear them up, take the green part of the Basil stalks and chop them up reasonably fine. Open the tins of plum tomatoes.

Heat a large saucepan and pour in roughly 2 tablespoons of oil, once this has heated add the anchovy and garlic, you want to stir fry these gently till the garlic starts to colour slightly and the anchovy starts to break up.

Next add the plum tomatoes, oregano, about half the basil leaves, all the chopped basil stalks and stir gently being careful not to break the tomatoes if at all possible. Put a lid on the saucepan and bring to a gentle boil and simmer for at least an hour stirring occasionally. I have let this sauce simmer gently for anything up to 3 hours depending on how much time I have on my hands, this makes the sauce a bit thicker and the flavours stronger.

At this point you can start to break up the tomatoes with a spoon or alternatively use a hand blender to blend it into a nice thick sauce.

Next add the remaining basil and taste the sauce. Then season with salt and pepper to taste, add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and stir them in well.

I’ve found from experience that the better the plum tomatoes the thicker the sauce, however if you find that your sauce is not as thick as you like it, simply simmer it for longer the next time you try.