Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rhubarb in a Savory Recipe

Chicken Tagine.

I had been looking in vain for rhubarb last week. I began to think that the season had passed here in North Carolina.  But yesterday I was at Harris Teeter, and they had rhubarb so I bought all they had---about 10 lbs-- I guess.  What I don't use right away I will freeze.  I  made a rhubarb-strawberry crisp for dinner last night,  I remembered I had seen a chicken recipe in the NY Times that called for rhubarb so I googled and found it.  I made it for dinner tonight.  Chicken Tagine with Rhubarb a recipe from Martha Shulman

      1  whole chicken, 4 to 4 1/2 pounds, cut into 10 pieces
       Salt and pepper           
       2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
       1 small onion, finely chopped
       1 medium carrot, diced
       2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
       2 garlic cloves, minced
       ½ teaspoon turmeric
       1 teaspoon sweet paprika
       2 ½ cups chicken broth or water
       1 3-inch cinnamon stick
       ½ teaspoon sugar
       12 to 16 pitted green olives (optional) ( omitted these) 
       1 to 2 tablespoons rhubarb syrup (see Poached Rhubarb recipe)
       ¼ cup chopped parsley
       Poached rhubarb (see recipe)


Poaching the rhubarb.
       Rice or couscous for serving      

  1. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When oil is hot, brown chicken pieces, in batches, on both sides until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove to a sheet pan.
  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from the Dutch oven and add onion. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze, until onion begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add carrot and leeks. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about a minute. Season with salt; add turmeric and paprika and stir.
  3. Return chicken to Dutch oven and add chicken broth, cinnamon stick, sugar and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 35 minutes.
  4. Add olives, if using; cover and simmer another 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is fork tender. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons rhubarb syrup. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    Rhubarb syrup (note the black seeds from a vanilla pod).
6.  Before serving, stir in parsley and poached rhubarb and heat through over low heat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with rice or couscous.
Ready to eat. 

I served it with couscous to Joe and Bob (after their long day at the lab) and Dan and myself.  It was quite tasty.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Day Trip in Northern Ireland

The ruins of Dunluce Castle. 
The day after we arrived in Northern Ireland, Thomas took a group of us on a lovely trip up to the northern coast of Northern Ireland. 
The route we took from Dungannon north to the Giant's Causeway

Our first stop was in Portstewart on the northern coast. 

Thomas was our tour guide for the day.
Robin enjoying the view out over the North Atlantic.

At some point, I believe when Thomas was in University, he lived here.  This is where we found the Donut Tree, their version of our Krispy Kreme. 
At some point Thomas lived in the apartment above the blue building.  He sure had a nice view.

James about to order a donut at the Donut Tree.  (James is a delight, and he was a great help to Joan and me on this trip.)
The ruins of Dunluce Castle along the northern coast of Northern Ireland.

Then we made our way along the coast we stopped by the ruins of the medieval Dunluce Castle.  Lovely!!!! ! Dunluce Castle is located close to a headland that plunges straight into the sea.  It was abandoned shortly after part of the castle fell into the sea on a stormy night in 1639. 

Dunluce Castle is regarded as the possible inspiration for Cair Paravel in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia.

We finally arrived at our final destination, the Giant's Causeway.  We walked all the way down to the bottom where we saw the columns of basalt laid down by an ancient volcano.  (But most of us took the bus back up.  Some of the younger walked or possibly ran all the way back. )

Stepping stones of basalt laid down by nature.
Thomas points out a feature to Joan.

Here I am standing at the base of the basalt columns perfectly formed as a result of a volcano some 50 million years ago.
We saw much of the beauty of Northern Ireland on this day trip.  Enough to make me want to go back and explore more though.  Thank you Thomas.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Spice Cottages in Dungannon, Northern Ireland

Spice Cottages in Dungannon
On my recent trip to Northern Ireland for Rebecca and Thomas' wedding we stayed in a wonderful self-catering cottage, Clove Cottage one of the Spice Cottages in Dungannon.  Joan and I stayed in Clove and the rest of Rebecca's family stayed in Nutmeg Cottage next door to ours. 
Clove Cottage in what once was a stable.

This was a perfect place to stay.  The Cottage was renovated from 150 year old stables on the property.  You would never know this had once been a stable!!!!  It was outfitted with everything one would need and the hosts, Olive and Perry, had left a "welcome" package for us: milk in the fridge, bread for toast, butter, jam and tea.  We added a few things from a local grocer---fruit, orange juice and scones.  We had breakfast there every morning, but ate the remaining meals out---often at Thomas' house. 

The resident cat, Marmalade, was friendly and often sat on the ledge outside our window.
Marmalade outside our window.
Joan in the living room of Clove Cottage.

In the back, Olive had a wonderful garden with lettuce, peas, strawberries (not yet ripe).  And two Shetland ponies had a small fenced pasture out back. 
Lettuce and beets.
Shetland ponies.
Lupine in the garden.

The main house where Olive and Perry live has a thatch roof.  That was very interesting to see. 
Main house in background with thatched roof. (Photo from the Web.)

If you should be traveling to this part of Northern Ireland, I heartily recommend that you consider staying at Spice Cottages.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Food in Northern Ireland

Pavlova, a favorite dessert in Northern Ireland.
Why are you not surprised that one of my first blogs about my recent trip to Northern Ireland would be about "food"?  After all I am a "foodie" (I seek new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger.)  Okay I do sometimes eat out of hunger or convenience. 

The Ryandale , a restaurant in the small village of Moy, was where I had my first meal (and several more) in Northern Ireland.  I opted for the traditional meal of bangers and mash.  The sausage was prepared by the local butcher and was made of pork and leeks---very tasty.  All of the meals we had there were very good and quite reasonably priced.
Bangers (sausages) and mash (mashed potatoes) with gravy.
The best meals were those we had at Brookvale, the home of Thomas and prepared by Thomas' mother Ann.  A typical dinner was roast beef  (or chicken) served with gravy, a green vegetable such as broccoli, carrots and parsnips, and always Irish potatoes mashed or baked (or both). 

One of Ann's marvelous dinners.  Roast chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, broccoli, carrots and parsnips.
Thomas' dad, David, mashing the potatoes. 
At the wedding dinner after the ceremony at the Parkanaur, a Caprese salad was followed by a traditional dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potato and peas. A bowl of mashed potatoes was passed around as well. 
A traditional Irish dinner of roast beef, gravy, baked potato, green peas and Yorkshire pudding.
Sweets are very popular in Northern Ireland.  On one of our day excursions we happened upon the Donut Tree (their version of our Krispy Kreme) where fresh donuts were available.  Most of our group had a donut (I later regretted that I didn't).  Elizabeth had an apple filled one that looked mighty good. 

Elizabeth at the Donut Tree. 
Elizabeth's apple cinnamon donut. 
One evening at the Ryandale, I ordered Honey Comb Ice Cream for dessert.  I am always up for a new flavor of ice cream, and boy this one is good.  I want to share this with our local ice cream vendor with the hope that he can duplicate it. 
Honey Comb Ice Cream, a favorite in Ireland
I have always thought of Pavlova as the national dessert of New Zealand and Australia, but it sure is popular in Ireland as well.  At every turn there seemed to be Pavlova available.  It was the first dessert at the wedding dinner, and it was as scrumptious as it looked. There always seems to be two desserts at every meal.  After the wedding cake* was cut, slices of both the top lemon layer and the bottom chocolate layer were served. 
Pavlova at the wedding dinner at the Parkanour. 

The wedding cake at Thomas and Rebecca's wedding. 
The absolute best dessert I had during my week in Northern Ireland was the rhubarb pie made by Ann.  Rhubarb is a favorite of mine, and this one was to die for---and the best pie crust I have ever eaten.  I must get the recipe from her.  I was so busy devouring the pie I didn't get a photo of it : (. 

*The wedding cake was made by Ann's nephew in England and brought over to Ireland by boat.  The marzipan "bride and groom" atop the cake are so appropriate.  Thomas is a photographer who often takes pictures of Rebecca, the fashion blogger, for her blog.