"A few years ago we were playing around in the kitchen with salt-crusted whole fish. We made all sorts of salt crusts, some with herbs, some with scraps of ham. Somewhere along the way, I came up with the idea of cooking vegetables the same way. I remembered having tried a dish in Spain years ago called papas arrugadas, or "wrinkled potatoes," and I seemed to recall that the spuds were baked in the oven on a bed of salt. This recipe for many-colored carrots and beets takes that idea and then does what I like to do – drops a bunch of flavor into the mix. The spices and herbs make these roots rock out." – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food.
"What a way to take carrots to another level! First we make them ridiculously tender in their spa-worthy salt scrub, then they get a luscious bath in pickling liquid. It’s the ultimate detox, a stress-melting treatment for today’s urban carrot. I like pickled carrots diced up in a summer salad, or mixed with some shaved raw carrots in a carrot salad. They make a perfect companion to a plate of cured meats or good cheese." – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food
"This dish is, for me, the epitome of spring. Wild vegetables just folded together with fresh herbs, spring eggs, and crème fraîche. As a child, I spent a lot of time foraging for morel mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns and wild ramps with my mother. She would scramble our harvest with our own farm eggs in a dish not so different from this one. Come spring, this is a regular feature on our lunch menu and it sells out every time." – Seamus Mullen
"Risotto of Irish oats? Well, I’m (sort of) Irish and Irish oats are (sort of) Irish. For enhanced Irishness, I like to use Irish Cheddar and good Irish butter like Kerrygold to finish the risotto. I suppose if you really wanted to be authentic, you could use Irish whiskey instead of the white wine, but that might be a bit much.
Whole oats are the whole grain, but they are simply not digestible as-is. All oats must have the hard outer hull removed; this, however, does not strip away the source of their nutrients.
Once hulled, there are three ways to render the oats more pleasant to eat: With steel-cut or Irish oats, the oat is cut into smaller pieces with steel blades. Since they are the least processed of oats, and still contain the whole grain including the bran, they are the most nutritious oats. With old-fashioned or rolled oats, the oat is steamed, rolled flat into flakes and sometimes steamed again, then dried. Usually the bran is removed.
Rolled oats are good for making granola or oatmeal porridge. They cook faster and aren’t as chewy as Irish oats. Don’t even think about using the third option, instant oats, because most of the nutrients that reside in the bran are removed in the very processing that makes them quick-cooking. What remains is cooked into oat oblivion." – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food
"Here’s what you do to make the really lovely broth that is at the heart of so many dishes in my book, Hero Food. It literally means "our daily broth" and is not unlike the Italian brodo. Caldo is an old Spanish word that refers to the vessel as well as the soup that’s made in it. This is not a precise recipe. How could it be? People have been making it for hundreds of years with whatever they have on hand.
What can make this broth special is the cured ham bone we always have at the restaurant. We go through two hams a week and we save and freeze all those bones for our caldo. If the guy behind the counter at the gourmet deli in your neighborhood is worth his salt, he’ll know that the bone in the center of the cured ham he’s selling is pure flavor. Try to talk him out of it. It’ll give your caldo a rich, incomparable quality." – Seamus Mullen
"This is a little take on the Italian bagna cauda, the classic Piedmontese dish of vegetables dipped in a warm anchovy cream sauce. But instead of serving the carrots, radishes and beets warm, I like them all cold and refreshing. The fresh snap of the carrots and the spice of the radishes are kept in check by our trusty friend, the anchovy. If you can’t find goat butter, a good-quality sweet cream butter will work, but I love the grassiness of goat butter. What a great beginning to a wonderful picnic!" – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food.
"When I was nine, my uncle had a clam bake. He drove four hours in his banana-yellow 1965 Chevy pickup truck to the Massachusetts coast and filled the back with bushel baskets of clams packed in ice and seaweed. Then he returned to his house in Vermont where he’d invited about a hundred folks and hired a local rock band to play while he baked clams and steamed huge cauldrons of corn over big fire pits. It was a hot July night and just at dusk it began to rain so hard we had to put a tent over the fire pit, which made for delicious, smoky corn. This is just another one of the great rules of the kitchen, that from mishaps you often discover wonderful things. I know that gastro-nostalgic moment influenced the way I make corn. Sweet corn with smoky pimentón always take me back to that rainy July night." – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food.
"After Switzerland, Spain is the most mountainous country in Europe, and all those fast-flowing mountain streams mean wonderful trout. No place in Spain is as famous for trout as the kingdom of Navarra, on the border of France, where beautiful icy water runs down from the Pyrenees. This could be the national dish of Navarra: crispy trout, salty ham, nothing better. Ask your fishmonger to butterfly the trout with the head and tail on, bones and gills removed." – Seamus Mullen, author of Hero Food.