Can’t believe it, a bit of sun at last, in fact we’ve had two good days in a row, we’re all heady with excitement and of course rush to find the barbecue. To add to the excitement Peter Manning has just arrived with a bucket of freshly caught mackerel from Ballycotton –absolute bliss. Luke Cullinane has picked the last of the green gooseberries off the prickly bushes in the fruit garden – we’ve still got a piece of the delicious wild salmon I bought from those wild O’Connell boys in the Cork Market, so no prizes for guessing what’s for supper? We’ll light the barbecue but in the meantime I will scrub and prick a few potatoes and put them into the Aga to bake. Alternatively the first of the Ballycotton potatoes are ready to eat and they’re most delicious cooked in sea water. Perhaps we should ask a few friends around, so I’ll get a few succulent lamb chops for those who feel they haven’t eaten at all unless they can sink their teeth into some juicy meat. My preference is for charcoal on the barbecue, but we often use wood if we’re not in too much of a hurry. Its worth having both types of charcoal in stock, the fast burning – you can be cooking in 15 minutes from light-up and the slower burning lumps - the latter takes longer to get to the white ash stage, but equally lasts longer, unlike the former which burns out fast. Gas grills are brilliantly convenient and I love my Weber, not least because it has a lid and one can cook a duck or chicken or even a turkey. Last year an American friend showed me how to make pizzas on the grill. Again this works best on the wide rack on the Weber, all you need is some dough and lots of toppings. Bruschetta and Quesadillas are also great on the grill and can be simply or lavishly embellished, depending on what you have in your fridge. Back to the salmon and mackerel. I’ll fillet them and brush each fillet with a little olive oil and melted butter. Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper and lay skin side down on a wire cake rack. (If you own one of those fancy fish cages, use that instead.). Cook salmon for about 10 minutes on one side, the mackerel 5 minutes. Then lay another cake rack on top and using a cloth quickly flip over so the fish cooks on the other side. Meanwhile I’ll make some dill butter for the salmon and some green gooseberry sauce for the mackerel – a delicious combination which can only be enjoyed at this time of the year. A tomato fondue would be good with the salmon and dill butter and don’t forget a big bowl of green salad with lots of lettuces, salad leaves and maybe a few little edible flowers. Bon Appetit.!
Barbecued Mackerel in Foil with Green Gooseberry Sauce
Salting fish before barbecuing enhances the flavour tremendously. I like to serve mackerel with the heads on, but if you are a bit squeamish remove them before cooking. 4 very fresh mackerel sea salt olive oil Gut, wash and dry the mackerel and cut about 3 slits on either side of the back with a sharp knife. About 15 minutes before cooking sprinkle the fish lightly with sea salt inside and outside. Put a sprig of fennel in the centre and a knob of butter if you like. Wrap in foil and seal the edges well.* Put on the barbecue and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side depending on the size. Serve with a segment of lemon and let each person open their own package. There will be delicious juice to mop up with crusty bread or a baked potato. * The mackerel could be prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated until needed. Serve with Green Gooseberry Sauce
Green Gooseberry Sauce
Use the tart hard green gooseberries on the bushes at the moment, they make a delicious sauce. 10 ozs (285g) fresh green gooseberries stock syrup to cover (see below) - 6 fl.ozs (175 ml) approx. a knob of butter (optional) Top and tail the gooseberries, put into a stainless steel saucepan, barely cover with stock syrup, bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit bursts. Taste. Stir in a small knob of butter if you like but it is very good without it. Stock Syrup 4 fl ozs (120ml) water 4 ozs (110g) sugar Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil together for 2 minutes. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator until needed. Stock syrup can also be used for sorbets, fruit salads or as a sweetener in homemade lemonades.
Pan grilled Grey Sea Mullet with Buttered Zucchini
I consider this to be the most under-appreciated fish in the sea, every bit as delicious as sea bass and half the price. We get delicious fresh grey sea mullet from Ballycotton Seafood - look out for it. Serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main course 4 fillets of very fresh grey sea mullet, sea bass or mackerel Soft butter Salt and freshly ground black pepper To serve Buttered zucchini Garnish Sprigs of fresh fennel and flat parsley Heat the grill pan or barbecue. Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve with buttered zucchini.
Serves 4 1 lb (450g) zucchini (courgettes), no larger than 5 inches (12.5cm) in length 1 oz (30g) butter A dash of olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper Freshly chopped parsley, dill, basil or marjoram Top and tail the zucchini and cut them into ¼ inch (5mm) slices. Melt the butter and add a dash of oil, toss in the zucchini and coat in the butter and oil. Cook until tender, 4-5 minutes approx. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Turn into a hot serving dish, sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve immediately.
Serves 6 12 flour tortillas 3 chillies, thinly sliced 4ozs (110g) Mozzarella 4ozs (110g) Cheddar or Gruyere 4 spring onions, sliced at an angle salt and freshly ground pepper Tomato and Coriander salsa (see recipe) Guacamole (see recipe) Put a tortilla onto the grid of the barbecue, top with some thinly sliced chilli. Sprinkle on a mixture of grated cheese and some spring onion. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Press another tortilla on top. Grill until the cheese melts, flip over. Allow 2-3 minute on the second side. Repeat with the others. Cut into wedges and serve with Tomato Salsa and Guacamole.
One of my most treasured possessions is a dark green pottery bowl with a coarse textured interior, it was specially made in a village in the Oaxacan valley in Mexico to make Guacamole. I carried it and the lava rock pestle the whole way home and have enormously enjoyed using it ever since. Serves 2-4 1 ripe avocado, preferably Mexican 1 clove garlic, crushed 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (as a last resort) 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional) 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander Sea salt and freshly ground pepper . Scoop out the flesh from the avocado. Mash with a fork or in a pestle and mortar with the garlic, add the freshly squeezed lime juice, a little olive oil, chopped coriander, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Tomato and Coriander Salsa
Serves 4-6 Salsas of all kinds both fresh and cooked have now become a favourite accompaniment to everything from pangrilled meat to a piece of sizzling fish. 4 very ripe tomatoes, chopped 1 tablespoon onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, crushed ½-1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander Squeeze of fresh lime juice Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Bruschetta on the BBQ
6 slices country bread, yeast; sour dough; ciabbatta or foccaccia
peeled whole garlic cloves
Aubergine, Pesto and Goat’s cheese
Very ripe Tomato slivers with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic
vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper
Portobella mushrooms with slivers of Parmesan cheese and rocket leaves
Vine-ripened tomatoes and basil leaves
Grill the bread over the coals. Rub both sides with a clove of garlic,
drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and top with chosen combination. Season
Lydia’s Salmon with Tomato Fondue and Fresh Dill Butter
This can also be cooked on the barbecue. Serves 6 6 portions of wild Irish Salmon Salt and freshly ground pepper 3 ozs/85 gbutter 2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill Tomato fondue – see recipe Garnish Sprigs of fresh dill Season the salmon pieces well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Melt a very little butter in a heavy pan over a medium heat, cook the salmon gently first on one side and then on the other until just about cooked. Meanwhile reheat the tomato fondue. If necessary melt the butter in a little saucepan, add the dill and remove from the heat. To serve: Put a little Tomato fondue around each hot plate, pop a piece of salmon in the centre. Spoon a little Dill butter over the top and serve immediately.
Tomato fondue is one of our great convertibles, it has a number of uses, we serve it as a vegetable sauce, filling for omelettes, topping for pizza, stuffing, etc. Serves 6 approximately 115g (4ozs) sliced onions 1 clove of garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon olive oil 900g (2lbs) very ripe tomatoes in Summer, or 2½ tins (x 14oz) of tomatoes in Winter, but peel before using Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste 1 tablespoon of any of the following freshly chopped mint or torn basil Heat the oil in a non reactive saucepan. Add the sliced onions and garlic toss until coated, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Slice the fresh tomatoes or tinned and add with all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar (tinned tomatoes need lots of sugar because of their high acidity). Add a generous sprinkling of chopped mint or torn basil. Cook uncovered for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens.
Lamb Chops with Marjoram
Lamb chops Annual Marjoram Olive oil Freshly ground pepper and sea salt Trim the chopped of excess fat and score the back fat and chop the marjoram. Take a flat dish large enough to take the chops in a single layer, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with some chopped marjoram. Season the chops on both sides with freshly ground pepper, place on top of the marjoram, sprinkle some more chopped marjoram on top and drizzle with olive oil, marinade for 1 hour or more. Brush off excess oil, season well with sea salt. Grill on a grid 6 inches (15cm) from the hot coals for 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness and degree of doneness required. Baste frequently with the oil and serve immediately.