Prannie Rhatigan is a doctor from Sligo who has long championed the benefits of cooking with seaweed — and her latest book gives it a delicious Christmas twist.
As a medical doctor, Prannie Rhatigan’s trademark has always been mixing the good with the good for you, and her new book, Irish Seaweed Christmas Kitchen, sparkles with lots of dishes and drinks laced with seaweed – plus some gentle hints for making the most of those good resolutions where health and eating are concerned.
Mild turkey curry
Not everyone cooks a turkey these days, but for those who do, there always comes that day in the Christmas holidays when what remains of the turkey needs a makeover. Look no further. Fresh herbs, coconut milk and a dried seaweed blend combine with the mild curry to produce a warming and delicious dish. Many years ago, a college friend with Indian roots recommended Patak’s Mild Curry Spice Paste as a worthy substitute for his mother’s recipe. We have been using it ever since, though as far as I know, his mother still thinks he makes his curry paste from scratch.
Seaweed used: Dried seaweed blend.
2 tbsp vegetable oil or clarified butter
2 medium onions, chopped
½ tsp ginger, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp sugar
150g (5oz) Patak’s Mild Curry Spice Paste
250ml (8½fl oz) water
20g (¾oz) dried seaweed blend (see below for more on Super Seaweed Blends)
400g (14oz) tinned tomatoes, chopped
100ml (4fl oz) coconut milk
2 tbsp mango chutney (optional)
400g (14oz) turkey meat, cooked and diced
100g (3½oz) fresh coriander (optional)
Serve with: 300g (10½oz) basmati rice
1. In a 2-3 litre thick-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion; cook till clear and soft. A lid helps this process.
2. Remove saucepan from the heat, add the ginger, garlic and sugar.
3. Stir in the curry paste, return to the heat and add the water and seaweed mix, then bring to a slow simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning on the bottom of the pot.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and mango chutney. Simmer for about 5 minutes uncovered.
5. Add the diced turkey, then cover and slow-cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you have an AGA, now is the time to place the curry in the cool oven for 2 hours or so, to really let the flavours develop.
6. Serve your curry piping hot, accompanied by cooked basmati rice, to which has been added the remaining coconut milk and the chopped coriander.
It is important not to lose focus on a steady veg intake over Christmas. A salad of sliced red peppers and raw carrots served with this curry adds some additional crunch and colour.
Quinoa nori pancakes with beetroot
Beetroot gives these pancakes a lovely pink hue, making them an attractive breakfast choice for children, and as they are naturally sweetened with banana, what’s not to like? This recipe involves grinding washed quinoa grains into a fine flour. It’s a good idea to grind several batches at once and store in a ceramic or glass airtight container. Keeps for a week to 10 days. I have been making the flour this way for years but now you can buy quinoa flour ready-milled to save time. If you buy the quinoa flour ready-made, skip straight to step 4.
Seaweed used: Nori, fresh or dried.
100g (3½oz) quinoa (or quinoa flour – see note, above)
15g (½oz) fresh nori, washed and squeezed dry, or 1 tsp dried nori
200ml (7fl oz) goat’s milk or milk of choice
1 tsp vanilla
1 small banana, mashed
2 tbsp fresh, grated beetroot
1. Wash the quinoa well in a fine sieve, rubbing between fingers to remove the bitter coating.
2. Spread onto a dry pan over low heat to drive out the moisture.
3. When completely dry, use a coffee grinder and blitz to a fine flour in small batches.
4. Place all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until it becomes a smooth pancake batter.
5. Heat the pan and use a little oil or butter to coat it very lightly.
6. Drop tablespoons of batter onto the medium-hot pan. When bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, the bottom is cooked. Flip once.
7. Keep a savoury theme going with your favourite hummus or serve with a dollop of cream cheese, a fruit compote and a sprinkling of pomegranate.
Christmas hot chocolate carraigín nog
A special treat at Christmas that warms from fingertip to toe…
Seaweed used: Carraigín. Serves 2
A couple of sprigs of carraigín
2 mugs of milk of your choice
2 tbsp cold milk
2 tsp raw cacao powder or hot chocolate mix
2 medium eggs
Honey, to taste
A small whisk
1. Rinse the carraigín in cold water. Place in a saucepan with the 2 mugs of milk and soak for a few minutes until softened. Put on the heat and simmer until the milk has thickened slightly – 20 minutes or so.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the 2 mugs with cacao by mixing 1 tbsp cold milk and 1 tsp cacao powder to a paste in each mug.
3. Beat 2 eggs well in a bowl.
4. Remove the milk from the heat and tip over the beaten eggs, whisking briskly so that they don’t curdle. Strain back into the saucepan, pushing down on the sieve to get the most through.
5. Discard the contents of the sieve to the compost and return the saucepan of milk to the heat. Whisk again for a few seconds while the milk heats up. Taste and sweeten with honey.
6. Strain equal amounts into each mug. Stir well and use a frother if you have one to put a nice froth on top. Serve at once.
Traditionally, an egg nog contains brandy so if you’re making this for adults, you might like to add a dash.
Super Seaweed Blends
Seaweed blends can be purchased from shops or from the many excellent suppliers harvesting along Irish coastal waters, and you can make up your own blend from a mix of dried, harvested seaweeds. The Seaweed Blend from the Irish Seaweed Kitchen (irishseaweedkitchen.ie) is a finely milled mix of Prannie’s favourite brown, red and green seaweed that took her years to perfect. The combination has an optimal distribution of her favourite health-givers, and the consistency and flavour of the blend lend it the kind of versatility that puts it to the top of every Christmas kitchen list. It can be blended into smoothies and soups and sprinkled over rice, pasta, salad dressings, fish and eggs. Mix a teaspoon of the blend with a touch of crushed garlic and enough olive oil to make a paste, and serve on a plain rice cracker for a thoroughly delicious snack.
* Extracted from Prannie Rhatigan’s Irish Seaweed Christmas Kitchen by Dr Prannie Rhatigan with photography by Jill Oestreich, €18.50 + P&P from irishseaweedkitchen.ie
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