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How To Eat a Peach

Shaved fennel, celery and apple salad with pomegranates and hazelnuts;

Onglet with roast beets and horseradish cream;

Blood oranges and aperol jelly;

Rhubarb, marmalade and rosemary cake….

How tempting and lip-smackingly good does that sound. Well it all comes from Diana’s Henry’s latest book “How To Eat a Peach…” Diana is fast shaping up to be many peoples favourite cookery writer. Not only has she a particularly wonderful way with words but she has a natural gift for creating beautiful balanced menus that delight rather than merely ‘stuff’ the diner.

 

Diana has been intrigued by menus since she was in her mid-teens. At sixteen she bought an ‘exercise copy book’, covered it carefully with brown paper and began to transcribe menu ideas – she still has the book.

 

I loved the stories in her introduction to “How To Eat a Peach…” Her parents didn’t have dinner parties but regularly had people in for “good food and craic”, dancing to Nancy Sinatra and a shot or two of Bushmills or Vat 69.

Diana threw her first ‘dinner party’ in her late teens, she planned carefully the menu, invited her school friends who were intrigued by the candlelight in the room “Are we going to celebrate Mass” and thought she was going well over the top when she served pineapple ice.

 

Diana continued to pour over food magazines and books, cook, travel and put lots of effort into edible research, even pouring longingly over the menu displayed in the glass cases outside restaurants when she couldn’t afford to eat there.

I particularly loved the story about “Sally Clarke’s restaurant – “I used to get the tube on a Monday night to go and see what Sally had planned for the week. I’d stand there, sometimes in the rain, with a little torch, writing down her menus in a notebook. I rarely ate at Clarke’s (I was in my first job and it was expensive), but I felt as if I ate there all the time.

 

Diana and I share many influences, she too, admires and is inspired by Alice Waters and her philosophy of beautiful fresh produce simply served.

Diana’s research has taken her from Belfast to France, the Breton Coast, Bordeaux on to Manhattan, Morocco…

Her menus reflects her travels, beautiful simple food… So many things I’m tempted to cook from How to Eat a Peach, check it out but here are a few tasters to whet your appetite…

 

Diana Henry’s Elderflower Gin & Tonic

This drink is local and seasonal to me, in Britain, in early summer, so it seems a perfect way to start a meal that honours this philosophy.

 

makes 500ml (18fl oz) gin

for the elderflower gin

20 just-picked elderflower heads

500ml (18fl oz) gin

5 tablespoons caster sugar

 

to serve

tonic water, lime slices and mint sprigs

Shake the elderflowers gently to dislodge any little bugs that might be hiding in them. Pour the gin into a big preserving jar and add the flowers and the sugar. Close the jar and shake it every day for 1 week.

 

Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with some muslin or a brand new J-cloth, then bottle.

 

Put some of the elderflower gin in glasses with ice. Top up with tonic and add lime slices and mint sprigs.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

 

 

 

 

Diana Henry’s Salad of Fennel, Celery and Apple Salad with Pomegranates and Hazelnuts

This might seem very humble before a resplendent pasta dish, but that’s the point. It’s clean and plain and a real appetite opener. Don’t make it too far in advance, though, as the fennel and apples lose their freshness.

 

Serves 6

2 small fennel bulbs

2 small eating apples

juice of 1 lemon

2 celery sticks, with leaves if possible, washed and trimmed.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

seeds from ½ pomegranate

15g (½oz) halved hazelnuts, toasted

Quarter the fennel, trim the tops and the bases and remove any coarse outer leaves. If there are any little fronds, remove and reserve them.

 

Quarter and core the apples. Don’t leave any of this sitting around to discolour: prepare and assemble the salad quickly.

 

Using a mandolin – or a very sharp, thin bladed knife – slice the fennel very thinly and put it into a large bowl with the lemon juice. Slice the celery finely on an angle, reserving any leaves. Change the setting on your mandolin and slice the apples into slightly thicker pieces. Toss the celery and apples in the lemon juice, too. Add any fennel fronds and celery leaves you reserved.

 

Mix the extra virgin olive oil with the white balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper. Add this to the bowl, mixing it with the other contents. Taste the salad for seasoning. Just before serving, scatter the pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts on top.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

 

Diana Henry’s Spatchcocked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley & Almond Pangrattato

I know, this is barely a recipe, it’s just flattened roast chicken with chopped almonds and herbs thrown on top, but I really crave this kind of food: charred, juicy meat, a contrasting crunchy texture and big, strong flavours. It’s great for one of those balmy late-summer evening meals.

serves 6

for the chicken

1.8kg (4lb) chicken

3 garlic cloves, finely grated

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

8 red onions, cut into wedges

 

for the pangrattato

80ml (2¾fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

100g (3½oz) stale sourdough bread, made into breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes leaves from a small bunch of

flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

 

Set the bird on your work surface, breast-side down, legs towards you.

Using good kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut through the flesh and bone along each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and keep it for stock (freeze it until you’ve gathered other bones to cook along with it).

Open out the chicken, turn it over so it is skin side up, then, flatten it by pressing hard on the breastbone with the heel of your hand. Remove any big globules of fat and neaten any ragged bits of skin. Now you have a spatchcocked bird.

Gently lift the skin on the breast of the bird so that you can put your hand in between the skin and the flesh (try not to tear the skin). Mix the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning and carefully push this under the skin. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a couple of hours.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and take the chicken out of the fridge. Put the onions into a roasting tin and pour on the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Set the chicken on top, breast side up, season the outside and roast for 1 hour.

 

Meanwhile, make the pangrattato. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the breadcrumbs for about 4 minutes. Add the almonds, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and mix with the parsley and lemon zest, chopping everything together.

 

Cut the chicken into serving pieces and put it on to a warmed platter, on top of the red onions. Pour any extra cooking juices over the top, scatter on the pangrattato and serve.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

 

Diana Henry’s Onglet With Roast Beets & Horseradish Cream

An onglet steak – also known as hanger steak – is usually about 3cm (1¼in) thick and shaped like a small, fat snake. It is slightly chewy – but only slightly – and has a good gamey flavour. London-based chef Neil Rankin taught me how to cook steak (the instructions for all cuts are in his book, Low and Slow) and it works every time. Sautéed potatoes and watercress are good on the side.

serves 4

500g (1lb 2oz) small raw beetroots

regular olive oil

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

125ml (4fl oz) double cream

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard, or to taste, 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

a splash of white wine vinegar (optional)

a pinch of caster sugar (optional)

4 x 250g (9oz) onglet steaks (keep them in the fridge)

flavourless oil or beef dripping, to fry

 

Preheat the oven to 210°C/410°F/gas mark 6½.

Trim the beetroots and wrap in foil, moistening with a little regular olive oil and seasoning before you seal the packet. Don’t wrap it too tightly, you want there to be space around the beets. Place in a roasting tin and cook until tender; it should take 30–35 minutes, though the time can vary. Test with the point of a knife, it should pass through with no resistance. When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel, quarter and season. These can be served at room temperature.

 

Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/275°F/gas mark 1. Put in an empty roasting tin or baking sheet large enough to hold all the steaks.

Whip the cream and add the mustard and horseradish. Taste; you may want a little more mustard. Some people add a tiny splash of white wine vinegar (or, conversely, a pinch of sugar). Add whichever of those you think you would like.

 

Onglet steaks don’t have flat surfaces, so flatten each steak a bit by bashing it with the base of a saucepan, putting baking parchment over it first. Don’t overdo it, you just need to make them a bit less round. Heat 2 frying pans, preferably cast iron, 7–10 minutes ahead of when you want to cook them, setting the heat dial about three-quarters of the way round. To check whether the pan is hot enough to cook in, add a tiny bit of flavourless oil or dripping. If it smokes, the pan is ready. Heat a little oil or beef dripping in the pan, add 2 steaks to each pan and press down with tongs to get the surfaces in touch with the base of the pan. Move the steaks around all the time, seasoning and making sure each steak is getting browned all over. Listen for the sizzle: when the steak is quiet, you need to move it. If the pan gets too hot and the meat is getting too dark (you don’t want it to be black), reduce the heat; if it’s not getting dark enough, increase the heat.

 

Transfer the steaks to the hot tin or sheet in the oven and continue to cook for about 5 minutes for medium-rare (onglet is best served medium-rare).

 

Using a really sharp knife, slice each steak against the grain. Neil Rankin (see recipe introduction) doesn’t rest his steak. Serve with the roast beets and the horseradish cream. A handful of green leaves is good on the side.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

Diana Henry’s Gooseberry and Almond Cake with Lemon Thyme Syrup

This is a pale pudding – soft green and cream – which seems just right for early summer. I serve it with extra gooseberries, poached (there’s a recipe for them below) but you don’t have to.

 

Serves 6-8

 

For the cake:

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tin

125g (4½ oz) caster sugar,

plus 5 tablespoons caster sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature. Lightly beaten

75g (2¾ oz) plain flour, sifted

2 teaspoons chopped lemon thyme leaves

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

75g (2¾ oz) ground almonds (preferable freshly ground)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

350g (12 oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed

For the syrup:

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

juice of 2 large lemons

2 teaspoons lemon thyme leaves

 

 

For poached gooseberries:

75g (2¾ oz) granulated sugar

2 lemon thyme sprigs

500g (1lb 2oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed

 

 

To serve:

thyme flowers, if you can find any

icing sugar, to dust (optional)

sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream

 

 

 

Preheat the oven to 190 °C/375 °F/gas mark 5. Butter a 20cm (8in) spring-form cake tin and line with baking parchment.

 

Beat the butter and the 125g (4½ oz) of caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, add 1 tablespoon of the flour. Put the lemon thyme leaves in a mortar with the lemon zest and pound together to release the fragrance. Add to the batter and briefly mix. Fold in the rest of the flour, the almonds and the baking powder, using a large metal spoon. Scrape into the tin. Toss the gooseberries with the remaining 5 tablespoons of caster sugar and spread over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

 

To make the syrup, quickly heat the granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon thyme leaves in saucepan, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer while it is still warm and slowly pour the syrup into it. Leave cool a little, then carefully remove from the tin and put on a serving plate.

 

Meanwhile, poach the gooseberries. Heat 175ml (6fl oz) of water, the granulated sugar and lemon thyme together in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the gooseberries and cook over a medium heat for 4minutes, or until the fruit is soft but not collapsing (most of the berries should hold their shape). Leave to cool.

 

Any thyme flower you have will look lovely on top of the cake. You can leave it as is, or dust lightly with icing sugar just before serving, with sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream and the poached gooseberries on the side.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

Imagery credit: Laura Edwards

 

 

Summer favourite

What joy, the garden and greenhouses are bursting with produce, so are the Farmers’ and Country markets and hopefully, your local shops and supermarkets are offering the bounty of the season to tempt you to make beautiful salads, pasta dishes, gorgeous soups and crudtiés.

I know I’m super fortunate to have a greenhouse so we have beautiful new potatoes, weeks later than usual this year but many of you too have discovered the magic of owning a tunnel to use as a protected garden. Pair them with some of those little scallions, put them into other dishes to add extra bulk and deliciousness but best of all boil them in sea-water, eat immediately slathered with butter and Irish sea salt -you’ll feel like saying grace and thanking the Good Lord and Mother Nature for the bounty of the seasons, and of course make a wish.

 

There’s still a little asparagus about and we’re just getting the first Summer crabs from Ballycotton and soon we’ll have mackerel. Joy of joys, the gooseberry bushes are dripping with fruit. You know, they are my favourite sea fish – fresh mackerel eaten within a few hours from the sea is a revelation to many.

The wild Irish salmon season started on the 12th of May. Just a few weeks to enjoy this sublime and precious fish. So treat yourself. And then there’s broad beans, oh my goodness I just love broad beans or fava beans as they are known in the US.

We use every scrap, the top leaves and some flowers in salad (don’t pick too many flowers, remember they will be ultimately be the broad beans) When the little pods are just 3 to 4 inches long, we chargrill them. But to be as magical as I say, broad beans must be super fresh, the natural sugars turn into starch within 5 or 6 hours and after a few days travel they really lose their ‘mojo’ and become dull and mealy. So I can understand if you’re baffled by my enthusiasm. You’ll need to grow them yourself or sidle up to a friend with a glut and maybe do a barter.  We’ve also had the first of our courgettes with their frilly canary yellow blossom, another vegetable that can be dull as dishwater or blow your mind when they are young, crisp, and nutty in flavour. Try them raw and thinly sliced in a carpaccio of zucchini, drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt, alternatively sprinkle with some strips of anchovy and add a little of the oil. Decorate with the zucchini blossoms.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourite Summer recipes, so difficult because there are so many delicious ways to serves gorgeous fresh produce.

 

Spring Onion or Garlic Chive Soda Bread

On a recent trip to India I loved the flat breads with scallions. They use a yeast dough but this soda bread version is also delicious and super easy to make.

450g (1 lb) flour

1 level teaspoon bread soda

1 level teaspoon salt

2-4 tablespoons finely sliced spring onions or garlic chives

350- 425mls (12-15 fl ozs) approx. sour milk or butter milk to mix

 

First fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.

 

Sieve the dry ingredients, add the finely sliced spring onions. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inch (4cm) deep and cut a deep cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven 230C\450F\ gas mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200C\400F\ gas mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread, if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

 

Spanking Fresh Mackerel Gravlax with Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise

 

This basic Nordic pickling technique can be used for many fish – salmon, haddock, and mackerel. I’ve substituted wasabi for French mustard with delicious results. We are all addicted to this pickled mackerel gravlax, which keeps for up to a week. Fresh dill is essential.

One can use the same pickle for the gravlax.

 

Serves 12 – 16 as a starter

 

4-6 mackerel, filleted

1 heaped tablespoon sea salt

1 heaped tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

dark brown bread and butter, to serve

 

a gratin dish

 

Fillet the mackerel and remove all the bones. Mix the salt, sugar, pepper and dill together in a bowl.  Line the gratin dish with a piece of clingfilm.  Sprinkle some cure on the bottom of the gratin dish; lay the mackerel fillets skin side down on top.  Sprinkle more cure on top and another layer of mackerel and finish with a layer of cure.   Wrap tightly with clingfilm, weight it down slightly with a board and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours.

 

Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk, preferably free range

1-1 ½ tablespoons grated wasabi

1 tablespoon white sugar

150ml (5fl oz) ground nut or sunflower oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped

salt and white pepper

 

Whisk the egg yolk with the wasabi and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill.

 

To Serve

Wipe the dill mixture off the fish and slice thinly. Arrange on a plate. Serve with wasabi and dill mayonnaise and dark brown bread and butter.

Garnish with fresh dill flowers if available.

Pappardelle with double Broad Beans and Rocket Leaves

Serves 4

 

450g pappardelle

225g broad beans, shelled

8 tablespoons broad bean puree (see recipe)

A fistful of rocket leaves

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, approx.

lots of freshly ground pepper and sea salt

 

First make the broad bean puree.  Cook and shell the broad beans and keep warm.

 

Cook the pappardelle until ‘al dente’ in plenty of boiling salted water.  Drain quickly.  Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the pan, add the broad beans, pasta and rocket leaves and toss well.  Season with lots of pepper and some sea salt.  Put two tablespoons of warm broad bean puree onto each plate.  Put a portion on pasta on top and serve immediately.

Broad Bean Puree

 

We use this puree in many ways, you can imagine how good it is with ham or bacon, duck, summer plaice or John Dory.

 

150ml water

1 teaspoon salt

450g shelled broad beans

sprig of summer savory

about 25g butter

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 teaspoon summer savory, freshly chopped

2-3 tablespoon cream

 

Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the sea salt, broad beans and a sprig of savory.  Boil very fast for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked.  Drain immediately.

Melt a little butter in the saucepan, toss in the broad beans and season with freshly ground pepper.  Taste, add some more savory and a little salt if necessary.

Slip the beans out of their skins.  Add the cream and puree.  Check the seasoning and serve.

 

Roast Beetroot with Apple, Pomegranate Seeds and Mint, with Horseradish Cream

 

This combination makes an irresistible starter but can also be served family style for lunch or supper.

Serves 8

 

I kg young beetroot

3-4 Cox’s Orange Pippin apples, or 2 Red Elstar, peeled and diced in 7mm dice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½-1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 pomegranate

Rocket leaves

1 fistful mint leaves

 

15-30g Iranian pistachio nuts, halved

 

Horseradish cream

Grilled Sourdough (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8

 

Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through, 30 mins to 1 hour,* (see below) depending on the size, or until the skins will rub off.

Cut into chunks.  Add the apple dice.

Toss in extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.   Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Halve the pomegranate and pop out the seeds.

Scatter a serving plate with rocket leaves.  Spread the beetroot and apple over the leaves.  Scatter the mint leaves over the top and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and halved pistachio nuts.

Serve with a dollop of horseradish cream and some grilled sourdough.

 

Note:

*Beetroot take much longer to cook in winter, we sometimes boil them first until tender, then peel, cut into wedges. Toss in extra virgin olive oil and roast in a preheated oven at 230˚C/gas mark 8 for 15-20 minutes.

 

 

Green Goosegog Crumble with Elderflower Cream

We’ve just had the first green gooseberries, they are still hard and under ripe but fantastic for pies and tarts.

 

Serves 6-8

 

When we were little,  we always called gooseberries goosegogs.

Crumbles are the quintessential comfort food, this is a brilliant master recipe, just vary the fruit according to the season.

 

675g  green gooseberries

45-55g soft dark brown sugar

1-2 tablespoon water

 

Crumble

110g white flour, preferably unbleached

50g butter

50g castor sugar

 

Elderflower Cream

175ml cream, whipped

1 tablespoon elderflower cordial

 

1.1L capacity pie dish

 

First stew the gooseberries gently with the sugar and water in a covered casserole or stainless steel saucepan just until the fruit bursts.

Then taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn into a pie dish. Allow to cool slightly while you make the crumble.

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles really coarse bread crumbs, add the sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the gooseberries in the pie dish. Scatter the flaked almonds evenly over the top.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with elderflower cream or just softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar.

 

To make the elderflower cream, fold the cordial into the softly whipped cream, to taste.

 

 

Variation: Gooseberry and Elderflower

Stew the gooseberries with white sugar, add 2 elderflower heads tied in muslin while stewing, remove elderflowers and proceed as above.

Variations on the Crumble

30g oatflakes or sliced hazelnuts or nibbed almonds can be good added to the crumble.

 

 

Basil Ice-Cream

Makes 600ml

 

This is a wonderfully rich ice-cream.  Unexpectedly delicious, we love it with precious ripe figs from the greenhouse.

 

Serves 6

 

1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

45g fresh basil leaves, torn

175ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

62g sugar

175ml rich cream, cold

 

Ripe figs, optional

 

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the torn basil leaves. Add the bean pod and the milk.   Heat to just below the boiling point and remove from the heat.   Cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the bean pod and scrape again to release every bit of flavour.  Add the scrapings to the milk and discard the pod.

 

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.  Add warm milk gradually, stirring constantly until all the milk is added.  Return to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (170º-175º), 8-10 minutes approx.

 

Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the basil custard into the cream.  Mix well, then chill thoroughly.

 

Freeze according to the directions of your ice-cream machine.

Serve on chilled plates with ripe figs if available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquafaba

Funny how when you hear about an unfamiliar place or discover the meaning of a hitherto unfamiliar word, it seems to pop up regularly here and there within the next few weeks.

Well my new discovery is aquafaba, not only is it a new word to me but also a new, exciting, almost magical ingredient.
When I thought about it for a moment it is easy to translate, Aqua- water and faba– beans. Aquafaba is the liquid in tins of beans or the cooking liquid left over after cooking your own. Really good stuff, full of protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, so worth saving for soup, stews and stock.

But that’s not all; a clever Frenchman discovered that if you whipped the aquafaba, it fluffs up into a light meringue….
Turns out that the unique mix of starches, proteins, fibre and sugars gives aquafaba a wide range of emulsifying, foaming, binding and thickening properties making it the perfect ingredient for vegan cooking or for those who have an egg allergy.

How amazing that the bean liquid that many of us just chucked down the sink is a precious ingredient now provoking a culinary revolution.

I first tasted a meringue made from chickpea water in a Mexican restaurant in New York ???? about 4 years ago – it was the talk of the town at that stage. Light, delicious and mysterious, I had no idea how to reproduce it.

But recently the word aquafaba has started to pop up as an ingredient in food magazines and then as if by magic a book “Aquafaba” arrived on my desk, imagine, a whole book of recipes using aquafaba. Written by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power.
The properties of aquafaba were discovered not by a chemist, professional chef or molecular gastronomer but by a curios singer and vegan blogger who tested all manner of things in a desperate effort to achieve a vegan mousse to make one of his favourite dishes ‘Îles Flottantes’ or what we call floating islands.
Others were experimenting with flaxseed concoctions, pure soya protein, CO2 cartridges and a variety of imaginative ideas but still no stable foams that would remain firm in both raw and cooked dishes.

Joël Roessel who made the amazing discovery shared the breakthrough on his blog “Révolution Végétale” and the vegan culinary bloggers went into a frenzy of testing. Word spread like wildfire on social media… Goose Wohlt from the US is the person credited with christening the left over liquid from cooking beans – aquafaba – a far sexier term than the latter. The rest is history, albeit a new history because it all began in late 2014 but its fame has spread with the vegan revolution. Who knew before Joël Roessel’s discovery that the viscous liquid from a tin of chickpeas reacted just like egg whites….

So where can we find aquafaba? As yet it’s not possible to buy commercial, ready-to-use aqua faba, although I bet it’s on its way.

However there are two ways to obtain it,
1) Save the liquid from a tin or jar of cooked, (unflavoured) chickpeas. An 800g tin will yield approx. 250ml of aquafaba.
2) Soak and cook your own chickpeas at home, save the cooking liquid, better quality but not instant…

Aquafaba will keep in a fridge for 6 to 7 days in a tightly sealed glass jar or bottle. It will look cloudy and may separate, but just shake the jar to re-amalgamate. Alternatively freeze it – an ice cube tray is perfect. Store in a plastic bag or box and deforest as needed.

 

Aquafaba Royal Hummus
Do not mess with this emblematic speciality! Hummus is THE thing that everyone loves, that gives you a huge appetite even if you’re not hungry. It’s incredibly addictive. And as everyone knows: ‘Hummus one day, hummus every day!’
Serves 4 – preparation time: 15 minutes
500g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
100ml (3½fl oz) cold water
20ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
3g (½ teaspoons) unrefined fine salt
3g (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
150g (5oz) tahini
2 garlic cloves
Za’atar

Set aside 10 chickpeas to use as decoration.

Pour the cold water, lemon juice, fine salt, cumin and olive oil into the bowl of a blender. Add the chickpeas, tahini and pressed garlic cloves.

Mix at full power for 5 minutes. The mixture should be completely smooth.

If it still looks a bit lumpy, add a splash of cold water and mix again.

Transfer the hummus onto a soup plate, add a generous dash of olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.

Garnish with the chickpeas and serve.

Comments:
We use a pre-prepared Lebanese ‘za’atar’ mixture containing a mixture of herbs (wild thyme, marjoram, hyssop, sumac, sesame, salt). There are as many types of za’atar as regions in the Middle East. Therefore, there is no ‘true’ za’atar, just many different types depending on the region.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chickpea Curry
Indian cuisine is full of great ideas about how to cook legumes. It has to be said, plain chickpeas don’t make the most glamorous of dishes and many people are reluctant to eat it in its most rudimentary form. However, in a curry, chickpeas are a real delight, mixing intense flavours and melt-in-your mouth textures.

Serves 4

1 red onion
10g (1/2 oz) fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
2g (1½ teaspoons) coriander seeds
2g (1 teaspoon) cumin seeds
20ml (1 tablespoon) rapeseed oil
10 curry leaves
9g (1 tablespoon) Madras curry powder
400 ml (14fl oz) coconut milk
50 g (4 tablespoons) tomato purée
500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
½ lime
Pinch of fine salt
Fresh coriander

Finely slice the onion, ginger and garlic. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander and cumin seeds. In a large cooking pot, heat the rapeseed oil, add the crushed spices and curry leaves, and
heat for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onion/ginger/garlic.

Brown for 2 minutes then add the Madras curry powder, mix and add 50 ml of water. Reduce the heat for a few minutes before pouring in the coconut milk and adding the tomato purée. Season with salt, mix well. When the liquid starts to simmer, add the chickpeas, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the juice of half a lime, mix and serve. Scatter fresh coriander leaves over as a garnish.

Basmati rice makes a perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Comments:
Madras curry is a fairly hot spice mix with deliciously spicy notes. If you are sensitive to these types of spices, we recommend a mild curry spice so that you can still enjoy the dish.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas
Bored of the same old crisps and peanuts with your apéritif? Why not try roasted chickpeas for a change? It’s original and nutritious. Keep the great tastes, but without the saturated fats. Crunchy on the outside, melting in the middle, these tandoori roasted chickpeas are your new best friend.

Serves 4 – preparation time: 5 minutes – cooking time: 40 minutes

500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
20 ml (1tablespoon) vegetable oil
15 ml (1 tablespoon) coconut cream
2 g (1⁄3 teaspoon) unrefined fine salt
5 g (2 teaspoons) tandoori spice mix

Leave the chickpeas to dry in the open air overnight.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.

Combine the oil, coconut cream, salt and half the tandoori spice mix in a mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas and mix everything thoroughly.

Finish with the rest of the tandoori mix and combine one last time.

Spread on a baking tray covered with baking paper, making sure not to layer up the chickpeas. Bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool before serving.

Comments:
Keep in a paper bag, in a dry place and eat within 48 hours.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Almond Meringues
Meringues come in many different flavours, shapes and forms. But one of the most emblematic is the kind you find in bakery windows: a vanilla-flavoured, white meringue, sprinkled with grilled almonds. The taste will put you up on cloud nine!
Makes 7 meringues
100 ml (3½fl oz) aquafaba
3 ml (2/3 teaspoon) lemon juice
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
200 g (7oz) icing sugar
4 g (1 teaspoon) cream of tartar
Flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas ½. Move the oven shelf to the bottom of the oven. Pour the aquafaba, lemon juice and vanilla extract into the stand mixer and whisk at full power for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with the cream of tartar, and sieve to remove any lumps of sugar.
Once the aquafaba mixture has formed stiff peaks, add the icing sugar mixture gradually, whisking for a further 3 minutes. The meringue mixture is ready to use when it doesn’t fall easily from the whisk. Use the mixture to fill a pastry bag with a star-shaped nozzle. Pipe out equally sized meringues on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
Sprinkle some almond flakes on top, pressing lightly to embed them and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes without opening the oven. Leave to cool completely and store in a dry place for a half or whole day before serving.
Comments:
The meringues can be kept for a few days in a dry place and in the open air.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
There are numerous chocolate mousse recipes for vegans. However, for many the name is merely symbolic. The reason is that whisked egg whites are the key ingredient for making this dessert with its unique texture: it was foolish to think we could get the same texture using silken tofu. Luckily, aquafaba has arrived and has revolutionised everything!

Serves 2–4
Preparation time: 15 minutes – resting time: 3 hours

200 g (7oz) dark chocolate (74% cocoa maximum)
½ tonka bean
200 ml (7fl oz) aquafaba
5 ml (1 teaspoon) cider vinegar
100 g (3½ oz) icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie over a very low heat, grate the tonka bean over the top and incorporate.

Once the chocolate is partially melted, remove from the heat and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour the aquafaba and vinegar into the stand mixer.

Whisk at full power until the liquid forms soft peaks. Sprinkle in the icing sugar, continuing to whisk. The mixture should form stiff peaks. Whisk for 10 minutes.

Stop the stand mixer, remove the whisk and pour the melted chocolate over the stiff peaks. Gently fold the two mixtures together, using a spatula and taking care to stir in the same direction lifting the peaks so that they don’t disintegrate.

 

Time to sow and grow

Time to sow and time to grow. At last the soil has warmed up to12°C so there’s been a frenzy of seed sowing for the past few weeks. Those of us who love to grow some of our own food have been desperate to get going but are only too aware that seeds sown before the ground warms up, simply rot. We’re three to four weeks behind last year but I have tremendous faith in Mother Nature so I’m convinced that we’ll catch up despite all the craziness.

Those of us who have a little back garden or some land are blessed indeed but you don’t need to be a land owner to grow some of your own produce. You’d be amazed how much can be grown on a window sill or balcony –  all one needs is a container filled with soil or compost, a few seeds, sun light, water and a bit of patience to wait for the magic to happen. Once the weather warms up, seeds germinate within a couple of days; micro greens will be ready to eat in seven or eight days. Then you can snip them onto your salad and sandwiches and garnish your plates like a fancy chef. Let them grow for longer and you’ll have an instant salad of organic ‘cut and come’ leaves. It’s perfectly possible to grow year round salad leaves on your window sill, super nutritious and all the more delicious because you grew them yourself. Spring onions are also a doddle to grow, you could sow the seed in an 8cm (3inch) deep module tray but we use recycled bean cans or tomato tins to grow all sorts of things on the window ledges in The Ballymaloe Cookery School. At present we have tomato plants, lettuces, chickpea plants, basil and rose geraniums.

There’s a fine rhubarb crown in an old rusty bucket by the kitchen door and several kale plants that have gone on giving all winter and are now starting to run to seed, so we use the yellow flowers in our green salads. This is the brilliant thing about growing your own, you can use every scrap of most plants, from the root to the shoot (except perhaps rhubarb leaves which are too high in oxalic acid to tuck into).

Peas are also brilliant to sow indoors even in your office, if you don’t have an outside spot. The kids will love them too. The young green pea shoots are delicious to munch in salads, the flowers too are edible but don’t eat them all because they turn into the little pods which you can munch on whole or allow to swell into sweet peas. One packet of seeds costs much less than a bag of frozen peas or even one herb plant. Fresh herbs too grow brilliantly in recycled cans or in a window box and you’ll be proud as punch as you snip off a few thyme sprigs or chives to add to your cooking.

I could go on and on, you too will get addicted once you start – apart from saving money there’s the feel good factor one gets from the thrill of growing your own and the peace of mind that comes from knowing what’s not in the food you are about to eat and feed your family. Mums with picky eaters should know that kids who help sow seeds will eat all kinds of vegetables and plants they wouldn’t touch before, plus surprise, surprise freshly picked vegetables taste altogether different from the fresh vegetables on the shop shelf – and believe me, kids with their young palates really notice the difference.

 

We are now coming into the fast growing season, so radishes would also be a terrific way to start. They go from ‘seed to eat’ in less than three weeks. If you sow the seed this week, then you can harvest as they swell and enjoy both the crispy root and the fresh green leaves. If you don’t know where to start,  check out www.giy.ie  or watch Grow Cook Eat on RTE1 on Wednesdays at 7.30pm and catch up on the RTE Player for past episodes.

 

My latest book ‘Grow, Cook, Nourish’ also gives detailed instructions on how to get started, recipes for your precious harvest and how to use up a delicious glut…..

www.cookingisfun.ie

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https://www.instagram.com/ballymaloecookeryschool

https://www.instagram.com/timanddarina

 

 

 

 

 

Kitchen Window Sill Green Salad with Honey and Mustard Dressing

 

Honey and Mustard Dressing

150ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

50ml (2fl oz) wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons honey

2 heaped teaspoons wholegrain honey mustard

2 cloves garlic

 

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and whisk well before use.

 

A mixture of salad leaves from trays or pots on your window sill – Butterhead, Lollo Rosso, Oakleaf, Mizuna, Mibuna, Mustard Leaves, Cress, tiny Spring onions,  Rocket…….

 

Snip the leaves if necessary.  Wash and dry the lettuces and other leaves.  Put into a deep salad bowl. If not to be served immediately, cover and refrigerate.  Just before serving toss with a little of the dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten. Serve immediately.

 

Note: Green Salad must not be dressed until just before serving, otherwise it will be tired and unappetising.

 

 

Summer Green Salad with Edible Flowers

Prepare a selection of salad leaves (see above) and add some edible flowers, e.g. Marigold petals, Nasturtium flowers, Borage flowers, Chive flowers, Rocket blossoms etc. one or all of these or some other herb flowers could be added. Toss with a well flavoured dressing just before serving.

 

This salad could be served as a basis for a starter salad or as an accompanying salad to be main course. Remember to use a little restraint with the flowers!

 

 

Fish Taco with Salsa Verde and Radishes

 

These are pretty addictive, a tasty way to use your radishes and fresh herbs, best when both the tortillas and fish are still warm.

 

Serves 4

 

Salsa

 

50g bunch of fresh coriander

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Flaky salt and freshly ground pepper

 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

110g  radishes, sliced

4 small scallions or spring onions, sliced at an angle

½-1 chilli, seeded and chopped

 

½ cucumber, halved, seeded and cut in long slivers at an angle.

700g  John Dory or sea bass, skinned

½ teaspoon coriander seed

 

12 corn tortillas (15cm)

 

Preheat the oven to 250˚C/gas mark 9

 

First make the salsa.

Whizz the coriander, 2 tablespoon water, 2 tablespoon lime juice, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and salt and freshly ground pepper in a food processor until smooth.  Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill.

Mix another couple of tablespoons of lime juice, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the sliced radishes, spring onions and chilli.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Brush a baking sheet with a little oil. Lay the skinned fish fillets in a single layer.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of freshly roasted and ground coriander seed.

Roast in the pre-heated oven for 3-4 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, hold the corn tortillas over a gas jet with a tongs, to warm, about 30 seconds.

Fill each tortilla with a couple of chunks of fish, radish, scallion and chilli salad, and a couple of pieces of cucumber. Drizzle with salsa verde, fold over and repeat with the others.

Serve three per person with a wedge of lime.

 

 

Melted Green Onions with Thyme Leaves

We so look forward to cooking the new season’s onions this way.  Use every scrap of the green leaves. They are sweet, mild and melting, delicious with all sorts of things, but particularly good with a well-hung sirloin or chump steak or a duck breast.

 

Serves 6-8

 

900g young green onions

3 – 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons  thyme leaves

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Peel and trim the onions leaving root base intact. Slice the white and green part of the onions into rounds.   Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy saucepan and toss the onions in it.  Add thyme leaves, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook on a low heat until soft for approximately 15 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning and serve in a hot vegetable dish.

Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata

 

Quick while the asparagus and wild garlic are still in season.

The pan size is crucial here.  If you don’t have the exact size, increase the eggs so the frittata is 4cm deep, otherwise the frittata is likely to be thin and tough.

 

Serves 6

 

 

This is an example of how we incorporate seasonal ingredients into a frittata.

 

8 eggs, preferably free-range, organic

225g (8oz) thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

50g (2oz) Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated, or a mixture

2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped wild garlic and rocket leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Garnish

wild garlic and rocket leaves and flowers

 

non-stick frying pan – 19cm (7 1/2 inch) bottom, 23cm (9 inch) top rim

 

Bring about 2.5cm (1 inch) of water to the boil in an oval casserole.  Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears until just tender for 3 or 4 minutes.  Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 4cm at the top intact. Save for later.

 

Whisk the eggs together into a bowl.  Add the blanched asparagus except the tops, most of the Parmesan and wild garlic leaves.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

 

Heat the oil in the pan, add egg mixture and reduce the heat to the bare minimum – use a heat diffuser mat if necessary.  Continue to cook over a gentle heat until just set – about 15 minutes.  Alternatively after an initial 4 or 5 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven (and this is my preferred option), 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 until just set 10-15 minutes. Arrange the asparagus tops over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.  Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element.  It should be set and slightly golden. Turn out on a warm plate, cut into wedges and serve immediately with a salad of organic leaves, including wild garlic and rocket.

 

Garnish with wild garlic flowers

 

 

Basil Ice-Cream with Roast Peaches

 

Makes 600ml

 

This is a wonderfully rich ice-cream.  Unexpectedly delicious, we love it with precious ripe figs from the greenhouse.

 

Serves 6

 

1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

45g fresh basil leaves, torn

175ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

62g sugar

175ml rich cream, cold

 

Roast peaches with lemon verbena cream, see below, optional

 

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the torn basil leaves. Add the bean pod and the milk.   Heat to just below the boiling point and remove from the heat.   Cover and allot to steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the bean pod and scrape again to release every bit of flavour.  Add the scrapings to the milk and discard the pod.

 

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.  Add warm milk gradually, stirring constantly until all the milk is added.  Return to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (170º-175º), 8-10 minutes approx.

 

Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the basil custard into the cream.  Mix well, then chill thoroughly.

 

Freeze according to the directions of your ice-cream machine.

Serve on chilled plates with roast peaches.

 

Roast Peaches with Lemon Verbena Cream

 

Serves 8

8 peaches

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

25g butter

Preheat the oven to 250C/Gas Mark 9

Lay 6 or 8 lemon verbena leaves on the base of an ovenproof gratin dish. Halve the peaches and remove the stones.  Melt the butter, add in the honey and lemon juice. Spoon over the peaches and roast them in a very hot oven for 8-10 minutes.  They should be soft and slightly charred at the edges.

 

Cream

600ml cream

1-2 tablespoons lemon verbena, finely chopped

 

Add the verbena to the cream and whisk lightly, should be very softly whipped

 

Serve the peaches warm with softly whipped verbena cream

Kricket

Not sure how many of you know about a restaurant called Kricket in London. It’s now in Soho in central London but I first heard about it in 2015 and happily schlepped all the way to Brixton, where I’d heard about an excellent young chef called Rik Campbell who had opened his first 20 seat restaurant in a shipping container in Pop Brixton – a “village” made of shipping containers overflowing with street food start-up stalls, mini restaurants, chic cafes and independent shops. I loved the food and the super cool vibe.

Will Bowlby, head chef and co-founder, has brought an exciting new vision to the UK’s Indian food scene. He was shortlisted for Young British Foodies  “Chef of the Year” category for two years in a row and awarded national chef of the year by the Asian Curry Awards.

As far back as he can remember, Will Bowlby has been passionate about food. From his early memories of his maternal grandmother’s East African inspired curry lunches, his entrepreneurial efforts setting up a one-man catering company whilst at school to joining the team at Rowley Leigh’s flagship restaurant, Le Café Anglais, was it any wonder that at the age of just 24, Will was approached to work for one of the oldest and most respected Indian restaurants in Mumbai, Khyber. For two years Will was exposed to the Indian palate – a many layered and complicated concept influenced by religion, ethnicity and cultural preference – whilst creating authentic dishes with a modern European influence.

After that he embarked on a three month road trip around India tasting  street food everywhere he went. I too am a big fan of Indian street food,  the variety is mindboggling. Will returned to the UK with lots more exciting ideas and a plan to serve traditional regional recipes with a modern twist, delicious, affordable and contemporary Indian food made with the very best seasonal ingredients.

Following two years in Brixton, Will and Rik moved Kricket to central London, opening Kricket Soho, which was awarded a Bib Gourmand by the Michelin Guide and won best newcomer in The Asian Curry Awards. Kricket has quickly attained a cult following and support from diners and chefs alike,

And now Kricket – an Indian inspired cookbook has been published so you and I can try to reproduce many of the exciting dishes we enjoy at the restaurant.

I’ve chosen just a few to tempt you but once you get a taste of Will’s recipes you will just have to have the book, published by Hardie Grant Books.

www.cookingisfun.ie

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KRICKET TORCHED MACKEREL WITH GOOSEBERRY CHUTNEY

 This recipe is inspired by the flavours of Bengal, where fish and mustard have been used together for centuries. Here we are using mackerel, which must be super-fresh for this dish to taste its best. I prefer to cook the fish using a blow torch, so that it is remains a little raw in the middle, however a hot grill (broiler) will work just as well. If the fish is fresh, you shouldn’t smell it at all, so take care in choosing wisely.

 

SERVES 4

4 large mackerel fillets, bones removed and filleted in half

3 tablespoons mustard oil

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons Kasundi mustard or other wholegrain mustard

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely diced

a generous pinch of sea salt

50 g (2 oz) flaked (slivered) almonds

2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chilli powder (optional)

a pinch of chaat masala

a few coriander (cilantro) leaves,

to garnish

 

FOR THE PICKLED CUCUMBER

1 cucumber, seeds discarded and diced

200 ml (7 fl oz) Pickling Liquor

 

FOR THE GOOSEBERRY CHUTNEY

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon onion seeds

1 Indian fresh bay leaf

2–3 green chillies, finely chopped

200 g (7 oz) fresh or frozen gooseberries

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

100 g (3 ½ oz/scant ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

sea salt, to taste

To make the pickled cucumber, steep the diced cucumber the in the pickling liquor for 1–2 hours, at room temperature, before putting in the fridge.

 

Prep the mackerel then mix together the oils, mustard, ginger and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Put the fish on a lined baking tray, spread the marinade over the flesh and leave for 30 minutes. For the chutney, heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, over a medium heat, stir in the onion seeds, bay leaf, chillies, and gooseberries. Turn the heat down and cook for 5 minutes. Add the turmeric, sugar and a little salt, to taste. Continue to cook until half the gooseberries are broken up and the other half remain whole. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Scatter the almonds on a baking tray, sprinkle over the chilli powder, if using, and shake to coat. Roast until browned and fragrant. Remove from the oven, toss with the chaat masala and allow to cool.

 

Take the tray of marinated mackerel and char the skin with a blow torch. The heat will refract from the tray underneath, allowing the fish to cook from both sides, leaving it slightly pink in the middle. Alternatively, you can use a grill (broiler). Arrange the fish on a plate, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with the gooseberry chutney, almonds and pickled cucumber.

 

PICKLING LIQUOR

I use this to use with all kinds of vegetables but cucumber is a special favourite. It will

keep in the refrigerator for several weeks – it keeps forever! If you want to make a smaller amount, the recipe is based on equal quantities of vinegar and sugar.

 

MAKES 1 LITRE (34 F L OZ/)

 

500 ml (17 fl oz) white wine vinegar

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

2 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 fresh Indian bay leaves

 

Put all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat and stir occasionally until all the sugar dissolves.

 

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool before decanting into a sterilised jar. Store

 

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books

 

KRICKET OYSTERS IN COCONUT CREAM WITH GREEN CHILLI GRANITA

 On my most recent trip to Goa, I was introduced to a new restaurant hidden amongst  the trees, off the beaten path in the north. The menu here changes daily, according to what is on offer and fresh that day. Here I had my first experience of oysters in India, and the memory stuck with me. The local oysters were served raw with coconut and green chillies. We do the same in the restaurant, using native British oysters – Porthilly happen to be my favourites – with the addition of sweet little bits of pickled cucumber. To enhance the flavour of this dish, you can garnish the oysters with an oyster leaf, but they can be hard to come by, so if you can’t find them, don’t worry!

 

SERVES 10

20 fresh oysters of choice

200 g (7 oz) coconut cream

 

FOR THE GREEN CHILLI GRANITA

100 g (3 ½ oz) caster (superfine) sugar

a pinch of sea salt

200 ml (7 fl oz) water

4 green chillies

2 bunches of fresh coriander (cilantro)

 

FOR THE PICKLED CUCUMBER

1 cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

100 ml (3 ½ fl oz) Pickling Liquor

Begin by making the green chilli granita. Dissolve the sugar and salt in the water in a small heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the green chillies and coriander to the cooled seasoned water and place in a blender and blitz to a paste. You should

end up with a vibrant green mixture. Place in a plastic freezeproof tub and place in the freezer. After 30 minutes, break up the crystals using a fork to stop it from solidifying. Do this for a few hours until you have the desired granita consistency.

 

To make the pickles, steep the cucumber in the pickling liquor for 1–2 hours at room temperature, then keep in the refrigerator until needed.

 

Open the oysters using an oyster knife, ensuring that you loosen the flesh from the shell but retaining all the liquid. To serve, arrange the oysters on a platter and spoon a little coconut cream on top of each oyster, followed by a spoonful of the chilli granita and then a little pickled cucumber. Serve straight away.

 From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books

 

 

 

KRICKET MISTI DOI WITH POMEGRANATE & MINT

 This is a very straightforward recipe that originally hails from Calcutta. Be careful to follow the steps correctly and you can’t go wrong. The end result is a creamy, sweet set baked yoghurt with a hint of cardamom.

 

SERVES 4

250 ml (8 ½fl oz) condensed milk

250 g (9 oz) Greek yoghurt

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

50 g (2 oz) rose petals

100 ml (3 ½ oz) sugar syrup (see recipe)

4 teaspoons of roughly chopped pistachio nuts

seeds of 1 small pomegranate

a few sprigs of fresh mint leaves, to serve

 

Preheat the oven to 160oC (320oF/Gas 3).

 

Place 4 ramekins (custard cups) in a large roasting pan and fill with hot water to come two-thirds up the outer sides of the ramekins.

 

Combine the condensed milk, yoghurt and ground cardamom in a bowl and mix well.

 

Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins and bake in the bain-marie for 6 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, soak the rose petals in the sugar syrup for a few minutes. Remove and place in a small bowl.

 

Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and allow to cool before transferring them to a refrigerator to cool completely. Garnish with chopped pistachio, pomegranate seeds, sugared-rose petals and mint.

 

 

SUGAR SYRUP

 A lot of my cocktails use a simple sugar syrup which can be made in advance, and kept in the fridge. It will last for about 1 month.

 

MAKES 750 ML ( 2 5 FL OZ)

750 ml (25fl oz) filtered water

750 g (1lb 10 oz) caster (superfine) sugar

 

To make a simple sugar syrup, just put the water in a large heavy-based saucepan with the sugar. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil for 15 minutes.

 

Leave to cool, then store in a sterilised glass bottle – a screw-topped wine bottle is excellent. Keep in the refrigerator until required. This syrup lasts for a very long time if stored correctly.

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books

 

 

 

KRICKET WILD GARLIC CHUTNEY

Every spring my mother gathers huge quantities of wild garlic from the woods around our Sussex home, in the UK. Kilos of the young leaves are brought to the restaurant and blitzed into oil and frozen, which we have found is the best way to keep wild garlic. It affects neither the colour nor the taste, and from there it can easily be made into a chutney.  Towards the middle of the season, the flowers of the plant are perfect for garnishes, with their hot, intense flavour, or they can be left to ferment for use later in the year.

 

MAKES ABOUT 1 KG ( 2 LB 3 OZ)

500 g (1lb 2 oz) fresh coriander (cilantro), stems and leaves

500 g (1lb 2 oz) wild garlic leaves

4 green chillies

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root

2 garlic cloves, peeled

200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil

5 tablespoons lemon juice

caster (superfine) sugar, to taste

sea salt, to taste

 

Put the coriander, wild garlic, green chillies, ginger and garlic in a blender, then, with the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until you reach a smooth consistency. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with sugar and salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you need to keep it for longer, omit the lemon juice and add just before serving.

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books

 

 

KRICKET GOOSEBERRY CHUTNEY (ONLY USE IF SPACE)

This chutney pairs beautifully with mackerel and can be used with other fish dishes, or even some game dishes.

 

MAKES ABOUT 450 G ( 1 LB)

200 ml (7fl oz) vegetable oil

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon onion seeds

3 dried Kashmiri red chillies

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

500 g (1lb 2 oz) fresh or frozen gooseberries

sea salt, to taste

caster (superfine) sugar, to taste

 

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan, add the fennel and onion seeds and the chillies and stir, then add the ground turmeric and cook for a further 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning.

 

Add the gooseberries, reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes until you achieve a jammy consistency.

 

Season to taste with a little salt and plenty of sugar to balance out the sourness of the gooseberries.

 

Store in sterilised jars and keep in the refrigerator until required. It will last for up to 2 weeks.

From Kricket, An Indian Inspired Cookbook by Will Bowlby, photography Hugh Johnson, published by Hardie Grant Books

Exciting New Books

Exciting new books are piling up on my desk, some have been, kindly sent by publishers, others by the authors themselves and then there are several that have particularly caught my eye in bookshops. I love small independent bookshops, I can’t seem to pass one without slipping in for a root and a meander along the shelves of tempting titles. I am also acutely aware of how badly they need support at a time when so many of us are tempted to order on-line.

 

I found a copy of a charming book entitled ‘The Little Library Cook Book’ in Whyte’s Books on the Main Street in Schull. Its written by London based, Kate Young, a writer whose name was unfamiliar to me. She is originally Australian and according to the blurb on the inner flap, spent her childhood indoors, reading books where she found ‘comfort, inspiration and distraction’. It’s a beautifully produced book, elegantly written in erudite prose. Many of the tempting recipes are inspired by food in literature, gorgeous home cooking that makes you want to don your apron and dash into the kitchen, beautiful photos on beautiful paper, comforting food and comforting reading…

 

The Happy Pear brothers, who the Sunday Times dubbed “the poster boys for a healthy way of life”, have brought out a sequel to their two number one best sellers, The Happy and The World of the Happy Pear.

Lots more vegetarian and plant based recipes (the new buzz word) for economical easy dinners that can be rustled up in as little as fifteen minutes. How tempting does Chickpea Tikka Masala sound? Also some gorgeous hearty dishes like Hungarian Goulash and hearty Greek stew.

 

At the other end of the spectrum – a surprising new book entitled ‘Goat’ piqued my curiosity. I love goat meat and really wish I could get it on a regular basis.  Those who travel to India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia will have realised that the flavourful mutton curry they have enjoyed is in fact made from goat meat. On the cover of this eye catching book is an endearing photo of a billy-goat, who nowadays are considered of little commercial value so are normally euthanized at birth. This was the reason why James Whetlor was moved to write this book. James worked at River Cottage for years before founding his ethical company Cabrito, which supplies kid and goat meat to chefs and shops in the UK. Can some young entrepreneur over here please follow…This publication highlights the fact that that goat meat has long been overlooked and is packed with delicious recipe for slow cooked curries, stews, braises, roasts, even kebabs and stir fries.

 

The Happy Pear, Chickpea Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka masala has been called the UK’s national dish, originating when a chef added tomato soup to a curry to make it less spicy! Our version, based on chickpeas and aubergines, is rich, creamy, and lovely and ‘meaty’!

 

For the paste

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 cloves of garlic

a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger

½ a fresh red chilli a bunch of fresh coriander

1 heaped teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1½ teaspoons sea salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon tomato purée

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

 

For the curry

3 scallions

300g mushrooms (we love oyster, but any mushrooms will do)

1½ tablespoons oil

2 x 400g tins of chickpeas

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

juice of ½ a lime

chilli flakes (optional)

 

 

In a dry frying pan, fry the cumin and coriander seeds for 3–5 minutes on a high heat until the cumin seeds start to pop, stirring regularly. Peel the garlic and ginger.

 

To make your paste, whiz together the garlic, ginger, chilli, the stalks from the fresh coriander (setting the leaves aside for later), the garam masala, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes and the toasted cumin and coriander seeds in a blender until smooth.

 

Chop the scallions into small slices and cut the mushrooms into small bite-size pieces. Put the oil into a large frying pan over a high heat, and once the pan and oil are hot, add the mushrooms and fry for 3–4 minutes. If the mushrooms start to stick, add a few tablespoons of the paste.

 

Drain the chickpeas, rinse thoroughly and add to the pan together with the chopped scallions, the rest of the paste and the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a further 2 minutes.

 

Squeeze in the lime juice, taste, and season with more salt, pepper and maybe some chilli flakes if you think it needs it. Chop the reserved coriander leaves roughly and sprinkle over each serving as a garnish.

 

Lovely served with soya yoghurt and toasted almond flakes on top.
From  Recipes for Happiness by David and Stephen Flynn. Published by Penguin Ireland

 

 

Kid Korma

 

James writes “I’m is a  dairy addict, this and Rogan Josh are two of my favourite curries – the yoghurt (and the almonds in the korma) give such a lovely richness. Neither of these two curries is hot, but you can add a few chilli flakes to the Rogan Josh if you like.

I batch-cook a lot at home and these are perfect for that. Double the recipe and freeze what you don’t eat, then you’ll have homemade ready meals for when you can’t be bothered to cook. Serve with rice, naan and chilli and garlic chutney.”

 

Serves 4

 

100g/scant ½ cup plain yoghurt

juice of 1 lemon

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ nutmeg, freshly grated

600g/1lb 5oz diced kid

20g/1 ½ tablespoons butter

splash of vegetable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

A big pinch of saffron strands, soaked in

2 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon sugar

40g/scant ½ cup ground almonds

salt

3 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro), to serve (optional)

 

In a bowl, mix half the yoghurt and half the lemon juice with the cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon salt.

 

Add the meat and turn to coat. Set aside to marinate (the longer the better).

 

Heat the butter with the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry for 10 minutes until soft.

Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few seconds, then add the meat in its marinade, the saffron in its soaking water and half the garam masala, and fry for 5 minutes to thicken.

Add 250ml/1 cup water, the sugar, ground almonds and ½ teaspoon salt, cover and gently simmer for about 1 hour, until tender, giving it a stir every now and then.

If the sauce needs to be thicker, cook it uncovered for the last 15 minutes.

Stir in the rest of the yoghurt, a squeeze more lemon juice and the rest of the garam masala, then check the seasoning and serve straight away, topped with coriander (cilantro), if you like.

 

Kricket

Kid Goat Raan

 

Kricket started life as a pop-up in a shipping container in Brixton, and was such as success that it has grown into a modern Indian restaurant in London’s Soho. This is probably one of my favourite dishes in the book. Anything with a litre of double (heavy) cream in it is OK by me. The recipe looks … unconventional, but stick at it. It comes together beautifully in the end.

 

Serves 10

 

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon grated garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 leg of kid

3 tablespoons Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tablespoons salt

3 star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

6 whole cloves

8 black peppercorns

2 black cardamom pods

4 green cardamom pods

600ml/2 ½  cups malt vinegar

1 litre/4 cups double (heavy) cream

pinch of saffron strands, soaked in a little warm water

2 tablespoons garam masala

chopped mint leaves and pomegranate seeds, to serve

 

In a small food processor or blender, blitz the ginger and garlic together with the oil to form a smooth paste. Rub the leg all over with the paste, the chilli powder and salt, and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Place the leg in a large casserole or pot that has a lid, add the whole spices, vinegar and enough water to just cover the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for

30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3 and cook for a further 4–5 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.

 

Remove the casserole from the oven, take the leg out of the braising liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle. Transfer the braising liquid to a pan and boil over a high heat until thickened and the salt levels taste correct. Strain into a clean pan, reduce the heat and add the cream, saffron and its soaking liquid, and the garam masala. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, check the seasoning and set aside to cool.

 

Meanwhile, pull away the meat from the bone and set aside.

 

When you are ready to serve, heat a frying pan over a high heat and sear off the meat in small batches to give it a nice crispy exterior. Return it all to the frying pan, add the braising sauce and stir through the goat until it is nicely coated. Serve the raan sprinkled with  chopped mint and pomegranate.

GOAT: COKING AND EATING by James Whetlor (Quadrille Publishing) Photography: Mike Lusmore

 

 

Neil Rankin

Goat Tacos

 

I was sitting in a reclining chair in the South of France in 2013, flicking through Twitter, when I saw Neil making these tacos at Meatopia, and it changed the way I thought about our product for good: it made me believe that kid could move out of its niche and break into the mainstream. Now at Temper, Neil has transformed the way people think about cooking with live fire, and we have pulled along in his wake. Thanks, Neil.

 

Makes 10

 

1 whole shoulder of kid, about

1.5–2kg/3 ¼ –4 ½ lb

150g/1 ½ cups masa harina

1 tablespoon olive oil

50g/1 ¾ oz chipotle in adobo, blended until smooth

100g/scant ½ cup sour cream

1 avocado, diced

juice of 2 limes

2 jalapeno chillies, finely sliced

1 red onion, finely sliced

small bunch of coriander (cilantro), leaves only

salt

 

For the green sauce

25g/1oz coriander (cilantro), leaves and stalks

6 garlic cloves, chopped

grated zest of 1 lime

50ml/1 ¾ fl oz lime juice

Preheat the oven to 130°C/250°F/gas mark 1.

 

Season the shoulder with salt, place in a roasting pan, cover with foil and cook in the oven for 5 hours.

 

While the meat is roasting, make the taco dough. Mix the masa harina with a pinch of salt, then add the olive oil and about 100ml/scant ½ cup of water to achieve a smooth dough. If it’s too sticky, add more flour; too dry, more water. Roll into a ball, cover in cling film (plastic

wrap) and refrigerate until needed.

 

Mix the blended chipotle with the sour cream and set aside.

 

Meanwhile, make the green sauce. Place all the ingredients in a blender or small food processor and whiz until smooth. Once the meat is cooked and tender, remove from the oven and set aside at room temperature to cool, then pull off chunks of meat and use the fat left in the tray to keep it moist.

 

Heat a non-stick or cast-iron pan on the hob until nice and hot. Roll the taco dough into about 10 small balls, then roll each ball between 2 pieces of greaseproof paper, pressing down to make a flat circle.

Dry-fry in batches in the hot pan for 1 minute on each side, and repeat until the dough is used up, stacking up the cooked tacos on a plate as you go. Build the taco with the pulled meat and diced avocado.

Drench in freshly squeezed lime juice, top with the chipotle-sour cream, green sauce, and slices of jalapeno and red onion. Finish with the coriander (cilantro) leaves.

 

GOAT: COKING AND EATING by James Whetlor (Quadrille Publishing) Photography: Mike Lusmore

 

Kate Young’s Brown Butter Madeleines

 

She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell.

Swann’s Way, À la recherche du temps perdu, Marcel Proust

 

 

Makes around 20 madeleines

Ingredients
110g/4oz unsalted butter
2 large eggs
100g/3½oz superfine sugar
100g/3½oz  plain/all-purpose flour
1teaspoon baking powder
15g/1tablespoon  melted butter for greasing
Icing/confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Equipment
Electric mixer or whisk, if you have one
Madeleine tin (mine has large 7.5cm/3in moulds)

Melt the butter over a low heat. Once melted, tip half into a dish and set aside. Leave the other half over the heat until butter has turned brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and add this browned butter to the dish of melted butter.

Beat the eggs with the caster sugar in a bowl until very thick, which should take at least 5 minutes using an electric mixer or whisk.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the egg and sugar mixture and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the butter, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours, or overnight if that’s easier.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6 and generously brush the madeleine tin with melted butter. Dust with a little flour, then pop the tin in the freezer for 10 minutes. Fill the tray with the batter – around ⅔ full is enough, as the sponge will spread as it rises.

Bake for 7–9 minutes, until brown and risen, then tip out of the tin and leave to cool on the rack. You’ll have enough batter to do a second, and possibly third, batch. Dust all the madeleines with icing sugar and serve, warm, with a cup

 

From “The Little Library Cookbook” by Kate Young, photographs by Lean Timms. Published by Anima, an imprint of Head of Zeus

 

Kate Young’s Honey and Rosemary Cakes

 

‘That’s funny,’ he thought. ‘I know I had a jar of honey there. A full jar, full of honey right up to the top, and it had HUNNY written on it, so that I should know it was honey.’ 

Winnie-the-Pooh, A. A. Milne

 

 

Makes 10

 

Ingredients
Cakes
170g/6oz  butter
115g/4oz dark brown sugar
175g/6oz honey
200g/7oz plain flour
1 ½tsp baking powder
½tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 eggs, beaten
Icing
100g/3½oz cream cheese
300g/10½oz confectioners’ sugar
Rosemary Honey Drizzle
150g/5½oz honey
2 sprigs rosemary

 

Equipment
Deep 12-cup muffin tray
Palette knife

 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4 and grease the muffin tins with a little of the butter. Place the rest of the butter, along with the sugar, honey and 1tbsp water, into the saucepan. Heat gently, stirring only once, until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. It will look like it’s separated, but don’t stress, this is normal. Set aside to cool.

 

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together, and add the finely chopped rosemary.

 

When the honey mixture is cool, stir in the beaten eggs. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is smooth.

 

Divide the mixture between the well-greased tins, making sure they are all around two-thirds full. Bake for around 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tins, then turn out and transfer to a wire rack.

 

Whisk the cream cheese until light and airy. Sift the icing sugar and beat it into the cheese, to create a smooth and creamy icing that holds its shape.

 

When the cakes are completely cold, ice them using a palette knife to drop the icing onto the cake, then round it off at the edges.

 

To make the rosemary honey drizzle, put the honey in a saucepan with the rosemary leaves and bring to the boil. As soon as the honey starts bubbling, turn off the heat and allow the flavours to infuse for at least 20 minutes. Pour the mixture into a jar – it will keep for a good few weeks, and tastes wonderful on roasted carrots as well as cakes.

 

To serve, warm the rosemary honey in the saucepan and spoon over an iced cake. Eat immediately.

 

From “The Little Library Cookbook” by Kate Young, photographs by Lean Timms. Published by Anima, an imprint of Head of Zeus

 

www.cookingisfun.ie

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Wild and Free

Young nettles everywhere at present , wild and free and bursting with the vitamins, minerals and trace elements that we need after that long punishing winter we’ve all endured. Now that Spring is in here young growth is leaping from the ground in both urban areas and throughout the countryside. Nettles irk the gardener but it’s worth remembering that they are a powerhouse of nutrients so let’s just relish our weeds. Our grannies and granddads and ancestors all knew the value of incorporating iron rich nettles (more iron than either kale or  asparagus) into your diet. In fact they have been a part of Irish diet for over 6,000 years, ever since the first farmers cleared the forests.

There was an old saying, that one should eat “four feeds of nettles during the month of May to purify the blood and keep away the rheumatics.”

There are many references to these plants in ancient manuscripts. Monks added them to their pottages and knew their value as a blood cleanser. Alexanders ramps and nettles are some of the earliest wild foods in the season; and now that foraging has become super cool, many chefs have also rediscovered wild foods and have been incorporating these ingredients into their menus in a myriad of creative ways. We ourselves have seen the increase in demand for organic nettles at our stall at the Farmers’ Market in nearby Midleton.

Many will or of course know that the common nettle, (Urtica dioica),  so wear long sleeves and long trousers when you are picking – you’ll also need gloves to protect your hands. If you do get stung, rub the affected area with a dock leaf (Rumex obtusifolius), because the sap will relieve the pain. Mother Nature has arranged that the antidote usually grows close by.

 

What our grandparents deduced is now scientifically proven. Herbalists confirm that as well as iron, nettles contain formic acid, histamine, ammonia, silicic acid and potassium. Some of these compounds are known to alleviate rheumatism, sciatica and other pains. They lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels, increase the haemoglobin in the blood, improve circulation and purify the system – so our ancestors weren’t far wrong…..Nettles are also a well-known and highly regarded diuretic which helps to eliminate toxins from kidneys. They also aid digestion and are anecdotally used to eliminate worms.

 

We use them in a myriad of ways; out in the garden Eileen O’Donovan makes a ‘stinky’ nettle plant tea, which is splendid nitrogen-rich plant food.

In the kitchen we discover more and more ways to enjoy nettles. Needless to say we don’t eat them raw – they lose their sting as soon as they are cooked or even wilted in the pan with other greens. Stinging nettle soup is delicious as it is, simply made with an onion and potato base or in conjunction with other greens, such as watercress, sorrel or chick weed. Blanch the nettles well in boiling water and refresh then purée or add to spinach and ricotta as a filling for cappelletti or tortellini. They also work well on pizza, see Nettle and Ricotta Pizza recipe in my Saturday 24th March column, and even though they are added raw they lose their sting in the oven.

It’s also so worth making nettle beer, it’ll be ready to drink within 3 or 4 weeks and its properly delicious, surprising as it may seem Nettle pesto is also super delicious.

 

www.cookingisfun.ie

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Roger’s Nettle Beer

 

We are huge fans of Roger Philips and found this recipe in his “Wild Food” book. It made delicious beer – sweet, fizzy, perfect for summertime. Unfortunately we  bottled it before it had finished fermenting, and one night, the glass bottles exploded. Oh well, practice makes perfect!

 

Makes 12 litres

 

100 nettle stalks, with leaves

11 litres (3 gallons) water

1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar

50g (2oz) cream of tartar

10g (1⁄2 oz) live yeast

 

Boil the nettles in the water for 10 minutes. Strain, and add the sugar and the cream of tartar. Heat and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave until tepid, then add the yeast and stir well. Cover with muslin and leave for a week.

 

Remove the scum and decant without disturbing the sediment. Bottle, cork and secure the top. Leave at room temperature for about 2 weeks or until starting to bubble, then drink within a few weeks.

 

Stinging Nettle Soup

We love this coup, which includes leeks as well as onion and potato to give an extra silkiness to the texture and flavour to the soup. We use tender young nettle tops in Spring.

 

Serves 6

 

45g (1 1⁄2 oz) butter

285g (10oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped

110g (4oz) onions, chopped

110g (4oz) leeks, chopped

1 litre (1 3⁄4 pints) chicken stock

140g (5oz) young nettles tips, washed and chopped

150ml (5fl oz) full-cream milk

salt and freshly ground pepper

nettle pesto

 

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the chopped onion and potato, toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a paper lid (to trap the steam) and the saucepan lid, and

sweat over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Discard the paper lid, add the stock and boil until the vegetables are just cooked, add the nettle leaves and simmer uncovered for just a few minutes. Do

not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Add the milk and liquidise. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Serve hot.

 

Nettle Champ

Serves 4-6

 

675g (1lb 3ozs) old potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders

1 tea cup chopped nettles

300ml (10fl oz) milk

30-55g (1-2 ozs) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender. Meanwhile, chop the young nettle tops and cook in the milk for approx. 20 minutes. As soon as the potatoes are cooked, drain and peel immediately while they are still hot. Mash until soft and free of lumps. Pour in the boiling milk add the nettles and a good lump of butter, beat until soft and creamy. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot with a lump of butter melting into the centre.

 

Chickpeas with Nettle Pesto and Parmesan

Serves 8 (small plates)

 

110 g (4 oz) chickpeas

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

nettle pesto (see below)

finely grated Parmesan

 

 

The day before:  put the chickpeas in a bowl and cover with at least double volume of cold water.

The next day: drain the chickpeas, cover with fresh water or stock (could be chicken or vegetable stock) bring to the boil and simmer for  anything between 30 and 60 minutes depending on quality  until fully cooked and soft.

Meanwhile make the nettle pesto.

When the chickpeas are cooked drain, add salt, freshly ground black pepper and extra virgin olive oil to taste.

To serve: reheat if necessary, correct seasoning.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons onto a small plate, drizzle with nettle pesto.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve immediately with good bread.

 

Nettle Pesto

 

Makes 2-3 x 200ml jars

110g (4oz) nettle tops

1 clove garlic

50g (2oz) grated Parmesan

25g (1oz) peeled and toasted almonds or cashew nuts, roughly chopped

225ml  (8fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil.  Blanch the nettle tops for 1 minute and refresh in cold water.  Drain well.  Place the nettles, garlic, almonds, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, whizz for a few seconds.  Add the olive oil and whizz again.  Finally add the Parmesan and whizz for a few more seconds. Store in sterilised jars covered in a layer of olive oil.

 

 

Spring Vegetables

Oh my goodness, a whiff of Spring at last, Was that not the longest and often dreariest Winter many of us can remember? I loved tucking into many warming stews, tagines and slow cooked braises but now I’m so ready for the fresh tastes of Spring. The Jerusalem artichokes that have added excitement and so much nourishment to our Winter meals have now started to sprout are gone past their best for eating but try get your hands on some so you can plant a few tubers of this superb vegetable for next year.

We’ve been loving rhubarb for the past few weeks and now we have sea kale – Alleluia. Such joy, to lift off the cloches to discover the blanched stalks of seakale ready to harvest. It’s Latin name is Crambe Maritima and I believe it is the only truly seasonable vegetable there is. It’s in season in April, you are unlikely to find it is your local supermarket, but possibly in a brilliant small greengrocer or a Farmer’s Market.

Look out for it at Midleton Farmer’s Market for the next few weeks, by the end of the month the first of the Irish asparagus will be in season but only until the beginning of June.

Whereas seakale and asparagus may sound luxurious and exotic they are not the only nourishing and delicious foods to get excited about at present. Young nettles abound throughout the countryside, a growing band of foragers are harvesting them to deliver to cool chefs who are excited to showcase wild and foraged foods on their menus.

We’ve also been enjoying Winter cress or bittercress as it’s sometimes called. The peppery leaves are delicious in salads and deliver quite the burst of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Pennywort or navelwort is in abundance, growing out of stones walls, tree trunks and in woods. The fleshy leaves add extra deliciousness and nutrients to starters and salads and make an enchanting garnish for months on end.

When you start to keep your eyes peeled for edible treasure, all of the above are free to gather in both urban and rural areas.

Bitter little dandelion leaves too add zip to a salad and you’ll hate the taste at first but soon grow to love that bitter flavour so lacking in our diets at present. One can also blanch the leaves as the continentals do by covering the plant with a large lid or bucket to exclude the light for several weeks until the leaves lose their green dark colours and become pale yellow and temptingly sweet.

Here are just a few recipes to showcase some of Nature’s bounty, enjoy…

Top tip: Wild foraged foods. A growing number of restaurants are incorporating wild and foraged foods including seaweeds from our shore line into their menu. Check out Pilgrims in Rosscarbery, The Mews in Baltimore Ballymaloe House, The Glebe Garden Café in Skibbereen…..

Where can I taste Seakale?

Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry will be serving seakale from the walled garden on its menu throughout the month of April and into early May. The seakale plants have been growing and tended in the two acre walled garden in Ballymaloe for over 60 years. Now that’s a perennial vegetable worth making space for.

To buy seakale plants try www.fruithillfarm.com or www.johnstowngardencentre.ie

 

Seakale on Toast with Prawns and Hollandaise Sauce

The cooking time depends on the freshness of the seakale. As you can imagine, cooked mussels would be delicious here also.

 

Serves 4-6

 

600ml water

1 teaspoon salt

450g seakale

30g butter

18 prawns, cooked and peeled

6 slices of toast, buttered

Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)

 

Garnish

a small bunch of chervil

 

Wash the seakale gently and trim into manageable lengths – about 10cm.  Bring the water to a fast boil and add the salt.  Add the seakale, cover and boil until tender – about 4-6 minutes.  The cooking time depends on the freshness of the seakale, as you can imagine. Cooked mussels would be delicious here also. Just as soon as a knife will pierce the seakale easily, drain it.

 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan on a gentle heat and toss in the prawns to warm through.

 

Serve the seakale with the prawns on hot buttered toast, and drizzle generously with Hollandaise Sauce.  Pop a little bunch of chervil on top of each toast and serve immediately.

 

 

Hollandaise Sauce

 

Serves 4-6, depending on what it is to be served with

 

Hollandaise is the mother of all the warm emulsion sauces.  The version we use here is easy to make and quite delicious with fish.  Like Mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a feast.  Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 70-80C or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale, otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water.  Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need.  If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potato.

 

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic

110g butter cut into dice

1 dessertspoon cold water

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, approx.

 

Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water.  Add water and whisk thoroughly.  Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time.  As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece.  The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary.  Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made.  Finally add the lemon juice to taste.  If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low.  Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage.  If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce.

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water (do not have gas jet on).  A thermos flask is also a good option.

 

Burmese Pennywort Salad

  Serves 4

 

175g pennyworth

2-3 shallots, sliced and soaked in ice cold water

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Oil

Shallot oil

1 tablespoon crushed peanuts

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 teaspoons fermented bean paste

3 tablespoons fried shallots

Fish sauce or salt

 

Wash and dry the pennyworth leaves.

Slice the garlic paper thin and allow to dry on kitchen paper.

Heat some peanut oil in a frying pan and cook on a medium heat until crisp and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper.

Put the pennyworth onto a plate.  Sprinkle the garlic and shallot oil over the top, then the freshly squeezed lime juice, fermented bean paste, fish sauce, thinly sliced tomato and sesame seeds.

Toss and mix with your clean fingers as the Burmese do.  Add most of the fried shallots and half the peanuts.   Toss again.  Taste, correct seasoning.

Divide between 4 plates, sprinkle with the remainder of the fried shallots and peanuts.

Serve immediately, each salad is made to order.

 

Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata

 

The pan size is crucial here.  If you don’t have the exact size, increase the eggs so the frittata is 4cm deep, otherwise the frittata is likely to be thin and tough.

 

Serves 6

 

This is an example of how we incorporate seasonal ingredients into a frittata.

 

8 eggs, preferably free-range, organic

225g thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

50g Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated, or a mixture

2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped wild garlic and rocket leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Garnish

wild garlic and rocket leaves and flowers

 

non-stick frying pan – 19cm bottom, 23cm top rim

 

Bring about 2.5cm of water to the boil in an oval casserole.  Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears until just tender for 3 or 4 minutes.  Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 4cm at the top intact. Save for later.

 

Whisk the eggs together into a bowl.  Add the blanched asparagus except the tops, most of the Parmesan and wild garlic leaves.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

 

Heat the oil in the pan, add egg mixture and reduce the heat to the bare minimum – use a heat diffuser mat if necessary.  Continue to cook over a gentle heat until just set – about 15 minutes.  Alternatively after an initial 4 or 5 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven (and this is my preferred option), 170°C/Gas Mark 3 until just set 10-15 minutes. Arrange the asparagus tops over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.  Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element.  It should be set and slightly golden. Turn out on a warm plate, cut into wedges and serve immediately with a salad of organic leaves, including wild garlic and rocket.

Garnish with wild garlic flowers

 

Seakale Tempura with Chervil Mayonnaise

Serves 6-8 as a starter

 450g seakale

Batter:

110g flour

2 tablesp cornflour

250ml iced water

 

 

225g chervil mayonnaise

 

Mix the cornflour into the water.  Put the flour into a bowl.  Add the water gradually, stirring with chopsticks, it will be a bit lumpy at first but a will eventually be a light creamy texture.  You may need to adjust the consistency by adding a drop more water or flour to get a thin even coating batter.

Heat the oil in a deep fry to 180C.

Trim the seakale and cut into pieces 10-11.5cm.   Dip one piece into the batter and fry for a couple of minutes or until crisp but not brown.  Taste for seasoning and adjust the batter if necessary.  Continue to cook the rest, drain on kitchen paper.

Thin the mayonnaise with a little water to a dip-like consistency.  Add lots of finely chopped chervil and a nice sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve the crisp tempura immediately with a little bowl of chervil mayonnaise.

 

 

 

Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely Compote

Rhubarb and sweet cicely are a wonderful combination as are rhubarb and strawberries now that strawberries have a longer season we can enjoy them together.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) red rhubarb, e.g. Timperely early

450ml (16fl ozs.) Stock Syrup (see below)

4 to 6 leaves of sweet cicely

Cut the rhubarb into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Put the cold syrup into a stainless steel saucepan, add the rhubarb and sweet cicely, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for just 1 minute, (no longer or it will dissolve into a mush). Turn off the heat and leave the rhubarb in the covered saucepan until just cold.

 

 

Stock Syrup

 

Stock syrup is the basis of homemade lemonade, fruit salad and all our compotes. We sometimes flavour it with sweet geranium, elderflower, mint or verbena leaves.

 

275g (10oz) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

 

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water* and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed.

*Add the flavourings at this point if using.

Compote of Rhubarb with Sweet Geranium

Add 4-6 large sweet geranium leaves to the sugar and water before it comes to the boil, then continue as above – omit the strawberries from the recipe.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

225-450g (8oz – 1lb) fresh strawberries, eg. Cambridge favourite, Elsanta or Rapella

 

Make the rhubarb compote as above

 

Hull the strawberries, slice lengthways and add to the cool rhubarb compote.  Chill and serve with a little pouring cream and a light biscuit.

 

 

Rhubarb Compote with Rosewater Cream

Poach the rhubarb in the usual way, allow to cool.  Serve with rosewater cream.

 

 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Smoothie

 

An energizer.

 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote (see above)

yoghurt

 

Drain off the syrup and save for Rhubarb Lemonade. Whizz the compote to a smooth puree with yoghurt. Taste add a little of the rhubarb and strawberry syrup if necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

Laois

Recently I was invited back to my home county, Laois to an event to raise awareness of the burgeoning food scene. The day-long conference was entitled Connect 2 Laois Food Futures. The idea – to nurture start-ups and further support established food businesses in the county. For the past year local food and drink producers have been   availing of specialist training, mentoring and encouragement. A variety of speakers including James Bourke, Domini Kemp, Colin Jepson, and Paddy O’Connell shared their expertise brilliantly but what really blew me away was the variety and quality of producers and artisan foods now produced within the county, much of it organic or chemical free. Kevin Scully of The Merry Mill told me that he is Ireland’s first producer of organic gluten free oats, all grown, harvested and milled on his farm in Vicarstown.

I found absolutely, beautiful salad greens on Rachel Hardiman’s Seven Acres stall, all grown on from organic seed without any harmful chemicals and in ways that actively promotes soil fertility and respect the environment. This entrepreneurial family also do vegetables boxes, sauces and condiments and sell seedlings ready to transplant.

Hazel Refal and Heather Vaughan have spent months developing numerous vegetarian products for their company Run On Pulses. They make a Lentil pie, a Chickpea spinach stew and three type of burgers all made from a variety of pulses. I’m very wary of this type of product having tasted some less then appetising examples but each of these were deliciously spiced and really good.

 

Jimmy Mulhall of Coolanaule farm, well known and hugely respected on the organic food scene tells me that he is the only certified organic producer selling organic meat in the Dublin Farmers Markets. His ever growing numbers of customers are so grateful to be able to get organic beef, lamb and pork and poultry.

 

Michael Onalimi inspired sauces from The Jungle Food Co also impressed me greatly as did the Invis – a Veg, who have created a mixture of grated  vegetables to entice children to try and enjoy a greater variety of vegetables.

 

Castlewood Organic Farm and Shop was another pioneer on the Laois food scene as was Helen Gee who established Gee’s jams in 1998 in Abbeyleix and is now supported by her son Clive. Several chocolatiers tempted me with their handmade chocolates, Apoena, Coco Couture…

Home bakers, Agaboe Farm Foods and Kelly Loves Cakes had many temptations.

 

There was Rossmore ice-cream made from milk from their own herd of  Friesian cows.

Pigs On The Green had free-range pork from outdoor pigs reared on their own farm. They too do a range of sausages and dry cure rashers, so no excuse not to have a brilliant real Irish breakfast in any hotel café or B&B in County Laois.

Free range eggs from Grantstown Family Farm in Ballacolla. Irish Pietmontese beef also has quite a following for their Bord Bia approved beef.

 

Paddy O’Connell’s range of Paddy O’s granolas and breakfast cereals made with Irish grown oats are now sold country wide as is their flax seed, the only certified organic flax seed company in Ireland.

Lots of drinks too, a variety of milks from The Village Dairy. Artisan beers from 12 Acres Brewing Company, in Ballykilcavan and Cream liqueur  and gin from Sean Teach Ltd.

 

I loved the Elderflower Cordials and Elderberry from Richmont Cordial Company

 

The Skinny Chef from Portlaoise was justifiably proud of his range of pesto sauces and chutney. Can you imagine all of that and more products in development all proudly displayed in the ballroom at the Heritage Killenard Hotel near  Portarlington, Co Laois.

Now a few recipes inspired by the gastronomic revolution in County Laois, Cork watch out…..

 

Spring Green Salad with Ballymaloe French Dressing

A salad of Organic Leaves from Seven Acres Farm

For this salad, use a selection of lettuces and salad leaves, e.g. Butterhead, Iceberg, Raddichio, Endive, Chicory, Watercress, Buckler leaf, Sorrel, Rocket leaves and Purslane.  Tips of purple sprouting broccoli are also delicious and if you feel like something more robust, use some finely-shredded Savoy cabbage and maybe a few shreds of red cabbage also.

French Dressing

2fl ozs (50ml) red wine vinegar

6fl ozs (150ml) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other oils. eg. sunflower and arachide

1 level teaspoon mustard (Dijon or English)

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons honey

1 scallion or small spring onion

sprig of parsley

sprig of watercress

1 level teaspoon salt

few grinds of pepper

 

First, make the dressing.

 

Put all the ingredients into a blender and run at medium speed for 1 minute approximately or mix oil and vinegar in a bowl, add mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and mashed garlic and honey. Chop the parsley, spring onion and watercress finely and add in. Whisk before serving.

 

Wash and dry the lettuces and other leaves very carefully in a large sink of cold water.  If large tear into bite sized pieces and put into a deep salad bowl.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate if not to be served immediately.  Just before serving toss with a little dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten.  Serve immediately.

 

Note:  Green Salad must not be dressed until just before serving, otherwise it will be tired and unappetising.

Spatchcock Chicken

 

A brilliant way to serve chicken – faster to cook and basis for a myriad of different flavours – fresh spices, chilies ….

 

Serves 6-8

 

1 free-range organic chicken

salt and freshly ground pepper

chopped rosemary or thyme leaves

extra virgin olive oil or butter

a few cloves of garlic

 

Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as possible.

 

Open the bird out as much as possible.  Slash each chicken leg two or three times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast on the barbeque or in a preheated oven 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately.

 

Note: Cook the chicken on a wire rack over a roasting tin of roast potatoes or vegetables.

 

Carve and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves and a herb mayonnaise.

 

Good things to serve with spatchcock chicken:

Vedura mista and homemade mayonnaise and basil pesto

Roasted Fennell, Potatoes, Pickled Lemon, Saffron and Yoghurt

Rosemary Oil

 

 

Garbanzada (Chickpea Stew)

A fantastic one-pot chickpea dish for a party …..

 

Serves 10-12 as a tapa

 

1lb (450g) dried chickpeas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

1 green pepper, diced into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

6 cloves of garlic, cut in half

8 whole black peppercorns

225ml (8fl ozs) medium dry sherry

175g (6ozs) streaky pork in the piece, rind on

175g (6ozs) streaky bacon in the piece, rind on

175g (6ozs) cooking chorizo

175g (6ozs) morcilla or black pudding

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon homemade tomato purée

1 large sprig of thyme

2 bay leaves

1.5-1.8 litres (2 1/2 – 3 pints) homemade chicken stock

 

Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. Next day, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion, peppers, garlic and whole peppercorns.  Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the sherry and allow to boil.  Put in the pork, bacon, chorizo and morcilla.  Add the smoked paprika, tomato purée, thyme and bay leaves.  Stir to mix.  Strain the chickpeas and add to the pot.  Next add the 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) chicken stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and cook for 1 hour.  Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are cooked.  When the chickpeas are tender, remove the meats.  Take the rind off the bacon and pork, discard and cut the meat into chunks.  Peel the chorizo and morcilla and cut into slices.  Mix everything together and serve in little dishes with crusty bread.

 

 

Jersey Milk Ice-Cream with Rose Cottage berries

There is the world of difference when one uses fresh vanilla bean pods to flavour the whole milk. Scrape out the seeds so the ice-cream is flecked with vanilla. Most processed foods use fake vanilla or vanilla essence – not at all the same thing.

Makes 1 pint

 

This is wonderfully rich ice-cream

 

1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

6fl oz (175ml) whole milk

4 organic egg yolks

2 1/2oz (62g) sugar

6fl oz (175ml) rich cream, cold

Fresh berries in season from Rose Cottage

 

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the bean pod and the milk.   Heat to just below the boiling point and remove from the heat.   Cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the bean pod and scrape again to release every bit of flavour.  Add the scrapings to the milk and discard the pod.

 

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.  Add warm milk gradually, stirring constantly until all the milk is added.  Return to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (170º-175º).

 

Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the custard into the cream.

Mix well, then chill thoroughly and freeze.

 

Freeze according to the directions of your ice-cream machine.

 

Serve with Rose Cottage Summer berries in season or poached quamqkuats  at the moment.

Ballymaloe Chocolates

110g (4oz) chocolate

24-30 sweet paper cases

 

Chocolate Ganache

110g (4oz) best quality dark chocolate

150ml (5fl oz) cream

1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon rum or orange liqueur

 

Garnish

Crushed praline or crystallized violets or unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

First make the chocolate cases. Melt the chocolate until smooth in a very low oven or in a bowl over simmering water. Put 2 paper cases together and spread melted chocolate evenly over the inside of the paper case with the back of a teaspoon. Check that there are no ‘see through’ patches when you hold  them up to the light, if there are, spread a little more chocolate in that area, stand the paper cases in deep bun tins to keep the sides upright. Chill until they set hard, carefully peel the paper off the cases (it is a good idea to do a few extra cases to allow for accidents!).

 

Put the cream in a heavy-bottomed, preferably stainless steel saucepan and bring it almost to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. With a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate into the cream until it is completely melted. Transfer the chocolate cream to the bowl of a food mixer and allow it to cool to room temperature. Add the liqueur and whisk until it is just stiff enough to pipe.

 

To Assemble: Using a piping bag and a 3/8 inch star nozzle pipe a rosette of the mixture into peeled chocolate cases. Decorate each one with a little crushed praline or a crystallized violet leaf or a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

Ballymaloe Chocolates with Raspberries

Put a little blob of whipped cream and some raspberry coulis into each chocolate case.  Top with a fresh raspberry and maybe a little leaf of fresh mint.

Sue’s Hazelnut Whirls

Place one toasted hazelnut in each of the chocolate cases.  Pipe a rosette of ganache on top.  Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

 

 

Eggs

Hopefully all those chocolate Easter eggs have been nibbled away by now, if not chop up the remainder and add it to a batch of chocolate chip cookies or scones with some hazelnuts. You could even melt it down to make some chocolate sauces to drizzle over crêpes or ice cream. But in this column I am going to concentrate on eggs from happy lazy hens of the feathered kind.

Eggs are truly a super food, every cooks best friend. Unsurprisingly they are having their moment again particularly in the US. This was very evident on both the West and East coast of America. In virtually every restaurant and café, eggs were starring on the menu in some shape or form, not just for breakfast and brunch. Even food carts and food trucks were serving eggs in many guises.

In Portland, I loved the food cart in Pioneer Courthouse Square called “Fried Egg I’m in Love”, manned by a cheery chap selling a range of fried egg sandwiches, all with ‘punny’ names like Yolko Ono, Egg Zeplin and Sriracha mix-a-lot. Each sandwich has a fried egg, sometimes two…The eggs are sourced from local farms and all sandwiches are served on toasted sourdough, cooked “easy-over medium” and sprinkled with a special spice blend called Magic egg dust.
Another cart in downtown Portland invited customers to Build Your Own Omelette with delicious veggie or protein options on a croissant or bagel incorporating local seasonal ingredients and fresh herbs.

 

Other trucks did a range of poached or scrambled egg dishes and I loved the sound of  Eggs Travaganza, at the corner of 52nd Street and Park in Midtown, New York,  long queues for Mexican egg wraps, burritos, egg tacos….

I also heard good things about the Egg Tosti (version of egg and cheese toast) from Steel Cart. Last week I mentioned Daily Provisions on East 19th Street, Lower Manhattan my favourite new breakfast spot. There’s a constant queue for their breakfast gougères and breakfast egg sandwiches served on a brioche bun. Egg toasts were served on sourdough with a variety of toppings, sprezzatura and jam, English muffin with ricotta and smoked salmon, bacon, egg, spinach and hot sauce…..lots of hot sauce everywhere….

 

Avocado Toast with Labneh, Chorizo Crumbs and a Poached Egg on the side

 

Serves 1

 

1 slice of sourdough bread

extra virgin olive oil

rocket leaves

½ ripe avocado

parsley.

 

Chorizo Crumbs:

4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

125g chorizo, peeled and cut into 5mm dice

100g coarse breadcrumbs

 

1 tablespoon labneh

3 cucumber strips or diagonal chunks, seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar (makes more than needed but keep in a box)

a few drops of best quality white wine vinegar

1 fresh free range organic egg

 

Segment of lemon or lime

 

First make the chorizo crumbs: Put the oil into a cool pan, add the diced chorizo.  Toss on a low heat until the oil starts to run and the chorizo begins to crisp.  Careful it’s easy to burn the chorizo, drain through a metal sieve, save the oil and return to the pan.

 

Increase the heat, add coarse breadcrumbs and toss in the chorizo oil until crisp and golden.  Drain and add to the chorizo.

 

Chorizo crumbs are a brilliant resource, keep them in a covered box in the fridge. Great sprinkled over cauliflower or mac and cheese, soup…

 

Season the cucumber strips or diagonal chunks of cucumber with a few drops of vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar.

 

Pan grill or toast the sourdough, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Lay a few rocket leaves on a plate and pop the slice of sourdough on top.

 

Scoop out the avocado from the skin and lay on top of the sourdough cut side upwards. Add a dollop of labneh to the plate and fill the cavity with a little labneh and sprinkle lots of warm chorizo crumbs over the avocado  and add a poached egg and some cucumber to the plate. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and add a segment of lime or lemon

 

Serve ASAP

 

 

Crispy Potatoes, Fried Eggs and Spring Onions

 

 

An irresistible but comforting brunch. The crispy capers add a delicious zing but are optional.

 

Serves 1

2-3 cooked potatoes, depending on size

extra virgin olive oil

2 organic free range eggs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 spring onions

5-7 capers, fried until crisp

 

Peel the cooked potatoes and cut into ¾ inch slices. Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or bacon fat in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the potatoes, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until crisp and golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer onto a hot serving plate. Keep hot.

 

Heat some more olive oil in a clean pan. Add the capers and cook until crisp, 1-2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. Fry the eggs, sunny side up (or easy over, as you please).

 

Lay on top of the fried potatoes, side by side.

 

Sprinkle with lots of green spring onion tops, sliced at an angle.

 

Top with a few crispy capers; add a few flakes of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.

 

Serve ASAP

Egg and  Sausage, Melted Gouda and Hot Sauce in a Brioche Bun

A perfect breakfast or brunch inspired by Daily Provisions on East 19th Street in New York

 

 

Serves 8

 

8 brioche buns with poppy seeds sprinkled on top

8 sausage patties, see below,

8 organic eggs, (1 egg omelette per bun)

 

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

100g to 175g (4oz-6 oz) Gouda, grated

 

Hot tomato and chili sauce, see below or use your favourite brand…

 

 

Homemade Sausage Patties:

 

(Makes 8 large patties)

 

225g (1/2 lb) good, fat streaky pork (rindless)

1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram and a little rosemary)

30g (1 1/4oz) soft white breadcrumbs

1 small garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small  organic egg (optional – helps to bind – reduce breadcrumbs to 50g/2oz if omitting egg)

dash of oil for frying

 

 

First make the sausage patties:

Mince the pork at the first or second setting, depending on the texture you like. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the breadcrumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Whisk the egg, and then mix into the other ingredients thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the seasoning. Correct if necessary. Divide in 8 and flatten into patties. Keep covered and chilled.

 

To serve, split the brioche bun in half but keep attached at one side.

 

Fry the pork patty in a hot pan in a little extra olive oil while you quickly make a 1 egg omelette.

 

Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Whisk the egg, add a little dash of milk,  flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a little clarified butter to the pan, when sizzling add the egg, tilt the pan and quickly make an omelette and fold.

Sprinkle a layer of grated cheese onto the base of the bun and pop under a grill. When the cheese has melted top with the pork patty and the omelette. Drizzle generously with the hot sauce, fold over the brioche and serve ASAP on a square of parchment.

 

 

Tomato and Chilli Sauce

 

30g (1oz) green chillies, deseeded and chopped, or 2-3 depending on size

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in 3 inch (2cm) dice.

2 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

1 clove of garlic , crushed

1 dessertspoon castor sugar

1 dessertspoon soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablepsoons water

 

First make the sauce.  Put the chillies, pepper, tomatoes and garlic into a stainless steel saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and water.  Season and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omelette Arnold Bennett

Serves 1-2 as a main course

 

Omelette Arnold Bennett was created in the 1920s by the chefs at the Savoy Hotel to commemorate author and playwright Bennett writing his novel, Imperial Palace, whilst staying at the Savoy this dish should be a true British classic.

This delicious omelette would also be very good made with smoked salmon or smoked mackerel.

 

50-75g (2-3oz) smoked haddock

a little milk

25g (1oz) butter

150ml (5fl oz) cream

3 eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Garnish

parsley, freshly chopped

 

25.5cm (10 inch) omelette pan, preferably non-stick

 

Put the smoked haddock into a small saucepan.  Cover with milk and simmer gently until it is cooked enough to separate into flakes (about 10 minutes).  Drain.  Toss the haddock over a moderate heat with half the butter and 2 tablespoons of the cream and keep aside.  Separate the eggs, beat the yolks with a tablespoon of the cream and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Whip the egg whites stiffly.  Fold into the yolks with the haddock and add half the grated Parmesan cheese.

Melt the remaining butter in the omelette pan.  Pour the mixture in gently and cook over a medium heat until the base of the omelette is golden.  Spoon the remaining cream over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the finely grated Parmesan. Pop under a hot grill for a minute or so until golden and bubbly on top.  Serve in the pan or slide on to a hot dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately accompanied by a good green salad.

 

 

 

 

 

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