Archive2002

Galicia North Western Spain

Driving through central Galicia in north western Spain was wonderfuly reminiscent of rural Ireland 20 years ago. The climate is similar so the
countryside is green and well-wooded. Small mixed farms, dairy, tillage, all have a vegetable patch, a few fruit and nut trees, some hens and an air
of self-sufficiency. Some older men still wear the black beret and many women still wear cross-over aprons, similar to those I remember so well from
my childhood. Men and women work side by side in the fields together.  There were few young people, most work in the towns and cities. Grannies
dressed in black sat under the shade of an apple or fig tree outside their stone houses with heavy slate roofs, sorting onions or shelling beans, often helped by grandchildren. There were few tractors in evidence, but there was a real sense of a community, farmers and country people in touch with nature and the land in a way that is fast disappearing in Ireland.  Wednesday is market day in the little village of Castro di Rivera, 10
kilometres from Lugo. Suddenly the otherwise sleepy village comes to life, 25-30 stalls set up around the central square selling fruit and vegetables,
local honey, cured meats including the famous jamon, morcilla blood sausages, pancetta, chorizo, salted ribs, pigs’ heads, ears and tails. Some
stalls sell shoes and clothes, and knicknacks, others offer CD’s of lively Spanish music. Yet another sells hand-made knives and scales, pots and pans and tools.

An old man stood shyly beside his beautifully made baskets and timber trugs and a traditional timber chest which is still used for making bread in many country farmhouses.  In the centre of the square under the oak trees, a family set up an open air Pulperia (octopus stall). Huge big cauldrons of octopus bubbled away. There were two stalls, one appeared much more popular than the other. We joined the longer queue deciding that the locals probably knew best. Queing can be boring and frustrating but on this occasion it was absolutely fascinating. We watched the entire operation. The raw prepared octopus seemed to be soaking in – was it brine? It was then transferred into a huge vat of boiling water, the size of a half tar barrel, where it plumped up and changed to a winey orange colour. Six people worked flat out, one of the women fished out cooked octopus as needed with a hook, she then snipped off the tentacles with a scissors and cut each one into rounds directly onto a small, medium or large timber plate to fill the orders. It was passed onto her partner who drained off the excess moisture in one deft movement, sprinkled the octopus with crunchy coarse salt, dredged it with pimento and then drizzled the plate with olive oil and added a few cocktail sticks. This cost Euro 5 per person. We joined the locals at long formica topped tables in the open-sided shelter the town council had provided for gatherings.  The tables were laid for 10 with paper napkins and down turned glasses.   Long gaily painted bright blue benches at either side. 
 
We sat at an empty table and were immediately dragooned by a feisty young woman who gesticulated amidst a babble of Gallego that we were to join another table rather than start a new one. We asked for ‘pan’, one of my few Spanish words. She returned in seconds clutching a long loaf of bread and a bottle of unlabeled local wine, (vin de mesa. We tucked into the octopus, it was intensely sweet and juicy. When we had almost finished our spirited friend slapped half a Manchego cheese and a knife on the table. We understood that we were to eat what we needed and then pass it on – the bread, wine and cheese cost a further Euro 5. Hundreds, perhaps a thousand people were fed in this way over a period of 4 or 5 hours. Jovial, inexpensive, a brilliant feat of organisation, an age old tradition.  As we sat there enjoying what was a veritable feast we wondered how long it would be before the bureaucrats in Brussels decided it was unhygienic and the price of insurance eliminated yet another traditional food culture. I personally, am more than happy to eat this kind of food, cooked and served in the time honoured way, I am happy to take the responsibility on myself – I strongly believe we have the right to choose – those who would rather eat in the local café can do so, long may we have the choice.

Spicy Boiled Octopus (Pulpo a Feira)

(From Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas) This simple yet delicious octopus dish is called a feira (fiesta style)
because it is boiled outdoors in water-filled metal drums during local festivals in Galicia. The classic way to serve this pulpo is on wooden
dishes - a most attractive presentation.
Serves 4
 
1 lb (450g) octopus, preferably small
1 medium potato
4 teasp. fruity olive oil
coarse salt
½ teasp. paprika, preferably Spanish style
dash of cayenne pepper
Cooking liquid
12 cups water
2 tablesp. oil
1 bay leaf
½ onion, peeled
4 peppercorns
2 sprigs parsley
salt
Tenderize the octopus by throwing it forcefully about ten times into your kitchen sink.  To make the cooking liquid, combine the water with the oil, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns, parsley and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Dip the octopus in and out of the liquid three times quickly (this also helps to tenderise or ‘scare’ it, as they say in Galicia), return to the liquid, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour. (The cooking time can vary greatly
depending on whether the octopus has been frozen. After an hour, taste a small piece: if it is not tender, continue cooking.) Turn off the heat and
leave the octopus in the cooking liquid until ready. (May be prepared ahead.)  Place the potato in the salted water to cover and boil until just tender.
Turn off the heat and leave the potato in the water until ready to use.  Reheat the octopus and remove all loose skin (you may remove all the skin if
you prefer) and cut the tentacles with scissors into 1inch pieces.  Peel and slice the potato one eighth inch thick. Arrange on a serving dish,
preferably wooden , and place the octopus on top. Drizzle with olive oil,  sprinkle with the coarse salt, paprika and cayenne and serve immediately.

Galician-style Fish Steaks (Merluza al la Gallega)

The wonderful fresh fish in the northwestern region of Galicia makes this a favourite preparation for hake, because it adds character to the fish
without masking its freshness.
Serves 4
 
¾ lb (350g) potatoes, preferably red, in ¼ inch slices
4 thin slices onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs parsley
salt
¼ teasp. thyme
1 bay leaf
7 tablesp. Olive oil
1 teasp. red wine vinegar
2 hake or fresh cod steaks, about 1 inch thick
½ teasp. paprika, preferably Spanish style
 
In a shallow casserole large enough to hold the fish in one layer, place the potatoes, onion, 2 cloves of the minced garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, 1
tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the vinegar, and water to barely cover.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are half cooked.  Place the fish steaks over the potato mixture and add some more water to barely cover the fish. Sprinkle the fish with salt, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and fish are done. Pour off all the liquid from the casserole. Remove the skin and bones from the fish carefully, leaving 4 fillets. In a small pan heat the remaining 6
 

Barbecue

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.

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.

Chargrilled Quesadilla


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.

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

Serves 6
6 slices country bread, yeast; sour dough; ciabbatta or foccaccia
peeled whole garlic cloves

Chosen toppings
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
Mozzarella cheese
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
and eat.

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


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.

Slow Food in Baltimore

The weather forecast was horrendous for the entire weekend, gales, thunder and lightning, torrential rain with intermittent patches of sunshine. I’d already got drenched to the skin on Saturday at the Market and didn’t relish the thought of driving 2½ hours in the rain to Baltimore with the distinct prospect of getting soaked to the skin again – yet, I was so tempted that in the end I threw caution to the wind and headed west to the second annual Slow Food Fair at the Baltimore Festival.

These events are so convivial that once you’ve been to one and felt the camaraderie and buzz, you simply don’t want to miss the next one. Two marquees had been erected at the quay. By noon food producers from all over West Cork had set up their stalls and were proudly displaying their produce. Almost before they had put the finishing touches to their display they were besieged by eager customers. Ace cook Clodagh McKenna had set up a buffet at once end of the marquee – for 12 Euros or 10 Euros for Slow Food  members, one could fill one’s plate with utterly delicious food, much of it from local producers.
 
Fresh crusty focaccia from Kalbos in Skibbereen, gorgeous jambon, pork rillettes, pate and glazed bacon from young Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen. Clodagh’s Pasta and seaweed salad with the seaweed provided by Olivier from Sea to Land in Co Kerry. New season’s Beetroot, cous cous and butterbean salad, Fig, apple, walnut and Cashel Blue salad, Potato, Scallion and chive flower salad, Curried chicken, mango and cashew nut salad. A delicious Tomato and Gubbeen bacon frittata, Ummera smoked chicken and smoked fish from Sally Barnes’ Woodcock Smokery and Frank Hederman. Homemade mayonnaise and several delectable relishes, Frank Krycwzk’s award winning salamis, Durrus, Gubbeen and Milleens farmhouse cheese. I also had my first taste of the new Carbery Blue Cheese and enjoyed everylittle crumbly morsel.
 
Clodagh was flanked on one side by Judy Wotton, who makes Ardagh Cheese between Baltimore and Lough Ine. She milks her 9 goats by hand and makes a memorable cheese. This indomitable lass also makes a delicious range of pasties, scotch eggs and pies to sell at the Skibbereen Market. Judy Rathffer makes a range of traditional breads.
 
Meredith Benke and Cullen Allen were doing a roaring trade filling dishes of Carrageen Moss pudding or homemade ice-cream with rhubarb and strawberry compote. Those with not such a sweet tooth could choose homemade cheese biscuits and farmhousecheese. Mary Pawle of Mary Pawle Wines had brought some of her organic wines up from Farranfore, St Nelly red and the white St Jean both from Chateau de Bastet, were delicious with the feast we brought to eat for lunch. Lorenzos who sell in the Clonakilty Farmers Market, make a range of salads – hummus, Butterbean salad, Tonnato Sauces, Haloummi cheese. Shorescape from Bandon had a range of smoked fish, gravlax, salmon pate, trout and tuna, while Dave Owen of Roaringwater Bay Oysters in Baltimore, opened sweet briny oysters in the corner beside the band, who were aptly named the Cheesemakers.
 
The Olive Stall was outside under the awning beside Fiona Burke’s tempting array of farmhouse cheeses, Frank Hederman’s smoked fish, and the Fergusons’ Gubbeen products. There were hot dogs sizzling on a barbecue and a whole marquee of Fuchsia brand products, including Bill Hogan’s splendid Gabrieland Desmond cheeses. The rain did eventually come but not enough to dampen the revellers enthusiasm. 
 
If you would like to join the Slow Food Movement, or have some more information, contact Giana Ferguson at info@slowfoodireland.com  or 028-28231. www.slowfoodireland.com 

Curried Chicken Salad with Mango and Roasted Cashew Nuts


Serves 8-10
1.35kg (3 lb) chicken breasts, poached and skinned then cut into bite sized
bits
12 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 mangoes peeled, stoned and cut into 1cm (2 inch) pieces
170-225g (6-8oz) chopped celery
4 chopped scallions including green part
110ml (4fl oz) natural yoghurt
110ml (4fl oz) Home-made Mayonnaise
12 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
140g (5oz) roasted cashew nuts
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander, optional
 
Mix the cubed, poached chicken in a large bowl with the freshly squeezed
lemon juice, season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the diced
mango, celery and scallions.
Whisk the yoghurt with the home-made mayonnaise, add the cumin and curry
powder, mix well.
Taste and correct seasoning. Just before serving add the roasted cashew
nuts, scatter with chopped coriander or parsley and serve.
 

Glazed Loin of Bacon


Serves 12-15
1.8-2.25 kg (4-5lb) loin of bacon, either smoked or unsmoked
400g (14ozs) 1 small tin of pineapple -use 3-4 tablesp. approx. of the juice
340g (12oz) brown sugar (demerara)
whole cloves 20-30 approx.

Cover the bacon in cold water and bring slowly to the boil, if the bacon is
very salty there will be a white froth on top of the water, in this case it
is preferable to discard this water. It may be necessary to change the water
several times depending on how salty the bacon is, finally cover with hot
water and simmer until almost cooked, allow 15 minutes approx. to the lb.
Remove the rind, cut the fat into a diamond pattern, and stud with cloves.
Blend brown sugar to a thick paste with a little pineapple juice, 3-4
tablespoons approx., be careful not to make it too liquid. Spread this over
the bacon. Bake in a fully preheated hot oven 250C/475F/regulo 9 for 20-30
minutes approx. or until the top has caramelized.
Note: We use loin of bacon off the bone.

Frank Krycwzk’s plate of Charcuterie with Gherkins and Caper berries


Frank Krycwzk makes a variety of delicious and interesting salamis at
Dereenatra near Schull.
3-5 slices of salami per person, depending on size
1-2 gherkins per person
1-2 caper berries per person
3-4 olives per person
2-3 rocket leaves
drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
Accompaniment – crusty Focaccia or Ciabatta
Arrange a selection of salami for each person on a large white plate.
Garnish with gherkins and caper berries, add few olives and three or four
rocket leaves.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote


Rhubarb and strawberries are a wonderful combination and now that
strawberries have a longer season we can enjoy them together. Try this
with new season’s Irish strawberries.
Serves 6

Strawberry Ice Cream


900g (2 lb) very ripe strawberries
Juice of 2 lemon
Juice of 2 orange
225g (8oz) castor sugar
300ml (10 fl oz) water
150ml (5 fl oz) whipped cream
Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote
450g (1 lb) red rhubarb, e.g. Timperely early
450ml (16 fl oz) stock syrup (see below)
225-450g (2-1 lb) fresh strawberries, Cambridge Favourite, Elsanta or
Rapella
Garnish: Mint leaves or Lemon balm leaves
First make the Ice Cream.
Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool.
Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add orange
and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree, fold the whipped
cream into the puree. Freeze immediately in a >sorbetiere or ice cream
maker according to the manufacturer=s instructions.
Next make the compote.
Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces. Put the cold syrup into a
stainless steel saucepan, add the rhubarb, cover, bring to the boil and
simmer for just 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave the rhubarb in
the covered saucepan until just cold. Hull the strawberries, slice
lengthways and add to the rhubarb compote.
To serve
Scoop out the ice cream into a pretty glass bowl and serve with the chilled
compote. Decorate with fresh mint leaves.
Stock Syrup
450g (1 lb) 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.

Australian Chefs

Last October I went to Adelaide for Tasting Australia - which is an international Festival of Food and Wine, an initiative of the South
Australian Government.  'Hot and Happening Down Under' was the theme of The Festival which was held in Adelaide from 5-14 October featured the skills of more than 150 celebrated chefs, authors, food and wine
journalists and critics, television cooks as well as the nation's top food and beverage producers and up and coming chefs and apprentices.  It
One of the most important events in Tasting Australia is the Lifestyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition allowing chefs and apprentices from various regions all over Australia to demonstrate their culinary skills in a cook-off (three courses for four people). The Gold Award for the Best Region was a visit to Ballymaloe Cookery School with the travel sponsored by Quantas the main sponsor of the festival. I was invited to attend the Festival and be a judge in the competition and take part in some of the other activities.
Last week the winning team arrived in Cork Airport and made their way to Ballymaloe Cookery School – the team were Darren Ho,(Team Leader) Brian Means and Julie van den Bergh, a fourth member of the team Steve Brampton was unable to travel. The winning Team hail from Hunter Valley a noted wine region, and part of the competition was pairing their wine and food They had a busy few days with us –they visited the Farmers Market in Midleton, the Jameson Heritage Centre, walked the cliffs in Ballycotton with me and went foraging on Ballyandreen strand.  They visited the English Market in Cork and cooked themselves a Cork supper with the goodies they brought home.  They joined in on our Pub Grub Course and enjoyed mingling with all our other students.  On a day trip to West Cork they visited the Fergusons at Gubbeen to see the famous Gubbeen farmhouse cheese made by Giana and taste Fingal Ferguson’s smoked bacon.
Dinner at Ballymaloe House and Grapefruit Moon in Ballycotton were among the highlights of the visit and we tasted some of the delicious Hunter Valley wine and honey. London and France were the next stops on their itinerary.
 www.tastingaustralia.com.au
Julie van den Bergh has her own Café Crocodile in Hunter Valley and she has shared one of her signature dishes with us.

Pan Fried Atlantic Salmon fillet on sweet corn cakes with an avocado and Spanish onion salsa

 


Julie says she is not allowed remove this dish from the menu.

From Julie van den Bergh of Café Crocodile in Hunter Valley, Australia
Serves 4
Corncakes

2 cobs of corn, stripped
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
2 tablesp. coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablesp. parsley, chopped
1 teasp. minced garlic
2 tablesp. sweet chilli sauce
2 eggs, whisked
200 ml cream
100 g plain flour

Combine ingredients and cook off in small cakes on frying pan. Use
oiled rings for consistent size and leave on. Cakes freeze well.

Salsa

 

1 small Spanish onion, diced finely
6 large ripe Roma tomatoes, diced finely (seeds removed)
1 dessertsp. Sicilian salted capers, rinsed well.
1 dessertsp. large capers, rinsed well
1 dessertsp. chopped cranberries
juice of half lemon
1 tablesp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and diced in half cm cubes

Ideally combine all the ingredients except the avocado at least 2 days
prior to use to allow flavours to blend. Add chopped avocado just
prior to service.

Wasabi Mayo

 
1 teasp. minced garlic
1 teasp. Dijon mustard
2½ teasp. Wasabi powder
2 egg yolks
1 teasp. lemon juice
½ teasp. caster sugar
olive oil – approx. 300 ml
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor, pulsing to combine.
With motor running, slowly add olive oil to desired consistency. (Thin
with warm water if required.) Taste and season.

Lemon Dressing

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup mirin
2 teasp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk and adjust to taste.

To assemble the dish you also require 1 bunch of watercress, washed and
picked, as well as four pieces of salmon fillet, lightly dusted with
seasoned flour.
Heat a large frying pan (with a metal handle) and oil lightly. Place
the fish, flesh side down, sear and turn and put into a preheated
moderate oven.
Place corncakes on a greased tray (2 per person) and place in oven to
reheat.
Dress watercress in a little of the lemon dressing and place a mound in
the centre of each plate. Top with 2 corncakes and smear a teaspoon or
so of wasabi mayo over the warm cakes. Place cooked salmon on top, then
garnish with spoonfuls of salsa.

Perfect with a glass of Aussie Semillon!

Some more Australian ideas –

 

Banana, Pineapple & Walnut Cake

 

(makes four loaves)

Ingredients
6 cups Plain Flour
4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Bi-carbonate of Soda (Breadsoda)
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 cups castor sugar
3 cups chopped walnuts
4 cups mashed banana
4 cups crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups oil
8 eggs, lightly beaten

Method
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
Combine sugar, oil, eggs & mix
Add banana, pineapple & dry ingredients to mixture
Bake in moderate oven until crisp on top.

Whole-Orange Cake

 
Use medium seedless navel oranges

1 orange
125 g butter
½ cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups wholemeal self-raising flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup buttermilk

Orange Butter Syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup orange juice
60g butter

Grease a 15cm x 25cm loaf tin
Squeeze the juice from the orange, reserve the juice for syrup. Process
or blend the remaining skin and pulp finely.
Cream butter and sugar in small bowl with electric mixture until light &
fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time, beat until combined. Transfer
mixture to large bowl, stir in half the sifted flour and soda with half
the buttermilk, then stir in remaining dry ingredients, buttermilk and
orange pulp.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, bake in moderate oven for about 45
minutes.
Stand cake 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack,
Pour hot syrup evenly over hot cake.

Orange butter syrup Combine sugar, orange juice and butter in saucepan,
stir constantly over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved and
butter melted, bring to boil, remove syrup from heat.
Keeping time 3 days.

Almond Bread

3 egg whites

½ cup castor sugar
1 cup plain flour
125 g un-blanched almonds

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually beat in castor sugar,
beating well after each addition until all sugar is dissolved. Fold in
sifted flour, whole un-blanched almonds. Spread into greased 25cm x 8cm
bar tin. Bake in a moderate oven 30 to 35 minutes or until just firm to
touch. Turn out of tin to cool. When cold, wrap in aluminum foil, put
aside for one or two days. Using a very sharp knife, cut bread into
wafer-thin slices. Put slices onto oven trays, bake in slow oven 45
minutes or until dry and crisp.

Trying to Find a Good Cup of Coffee in Costa Rica

One of the greatest enigmas, not to mention frustrations of Costa Rica, is that even though it is famous the world over for the quality of its coffee – its almost impossible to get a decent cup of coffee in the country itself.  Much of the best coffee seems to be exported. Travellers stock up with packs of finest quality Britt coffee as they leave the country.
 
Still one of Costa Rica’s most important crops, coffee is not as I had supposed, indigenous to the country, but was introduced from Ethiopia in the early 1800’s. When it was planted originally, it was greatly sought after as a fashionable ornamental plant to decorate courtyards - its glossy green leaves, white blossom and red berries are beautiful year round.
The Central Highlands of Costa Rica are ideally suited to coffee cultivation It thrives in areas where the temperatures average 15-28C with a distinct wet and dry season - Coffee grows best in well drained soil at elevations of 2,500-3,000 feet
.The Costa Rican government quickly saw the potential of the grana del ora, but had difficulty persuading the Costa Ricans to grow the crop. In the early 1800’s they brought in a law requiring everyone to plant at least a couple of coffee plants in their back yard. Coffee growing soon took off and by 1829 it was the nation’s numero uno earner. Needless to say it was a godsend for Costa Rica’s subsistence farmers, it provided them with a vital income on which no tax was levied. Coffee was widely planted .
For years, small farmers dominated production and earned their fair share of the wealth. But as ever, the real profits were concentrated in relatively few hands, the coffee processors who became known as the coffee barons, became Costa Rica’s first social and political elite.
Originally the beans were carried by ox cart or mule trains through the mountains to the Pacific port of Puntarenas to be transported by boat via Cape Horn to the coffee connoisseurs of Europe.
 
Coffee seeds are planted in nurseries, where they remain until they are a year old. They are then transplanted into the ground in rows that follow the contours of the mountain. Some of the fields are almost vertical, it is difficult to visualise how pickers can keep themselves from tumbling down the slopes as they pick the coffee berries. The answer lies in the ingenious way of planting trees directly behind one another so that the trunk of the downhill tree serves as a foothold for the pickers.
The bushes are planted under the shade of trees or tousled banana palms which fix nitrogen in the soil. Shaded coffee bushes are more productive. The first crop can be harvested in the fourth year and the glossy green bushes will continue to bear fruit for up to 40 years. At the beginning of the rainy season tiny white blossoms scent the air with a delicious jasmine like fragrance. The beans themselves are surrounded by lush green berries that turn blood red when ripe.
There is nowhere else in the world where coffee producers attain such high productivity per acre. Ideal conditions combined with high yielding plants and intensive production techniques. The best quality coffee grows at higher elevations where beans take longer to mature and are more robust and aromatic and contain less caffeine. Best coffee comes from the Arabica bean, the high yielding robusta bean is less highly regarded.
 
The coffee crop is harvested from November to January which coincides with the Christmas holidays, so it is traditional for entire families in the rural areas to take to the fields with wicker baskets to pick the coffee beans together. Some of the money earned is used for Christmas presents and new outfits.
The handpicked berries are shipped to beneficios where the fleshy outer layer is removed to expose the beans which are blow dried and spread out in the sun in the traditional manner. The leathery skins are then stripped away, the beans are roasted, sorted, vacuum packed, sealed and shipped to market and finally brewed for a delicious cup of Costa Rican coffee.

Ballymaloe Coffee Ice Cream with Irish Coffee Sauce


Serves 6-8
Coffee Ice Cream
2 ozs (55g) sugar
4 fl ozs (120ml) water
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
2 teasp. vanilla essence
1 pint (600ml) whipped cream
3 teasp. instant coffee
2 teasp. boiling water
 
Irish Coffee Sauce
8 ozs (225g) sugar
3 fl ozs (80ml) water
8 fl ozs (250ml) coffee
1 tablesp. Irish whiskey
 
Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Put the sugar and water into a small heavy bottomed saucepan on a low heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and then remove the spoon and do not stir again until the syrup reaches the thread stage, 106-113C/223-226F. It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until it fluffs up to a light mousse which will hold a figure of eight. Stir in the Vanilla essence, mix the instant coffee powder with just 2 teaspoon of boiling water in a little bowl. Add some mousse to the paste and then fold the two together. Carefully fold in the softly whipped cream. Pour into a stainless steel or plastic bowl, cover and freeze.
Irish Coffee Sauce
Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir until the sugar dissolves and the water comes to the boil. Remove the spoon and do not stir again until the syrup turns a pale golden caramel. Then add the coffee and put back on the heat to dissolve. Allow to cool and add the whiskey.
To serve:
Scoop the ice cream into a serving bowl or ice bowl. Serve the sauce separately.
 

Coffee Marjolaine Cake


This cake consists of four thin rounds of meringue sandwiched together with coffee butter cream, the top and sides are also covered with the cream and decorated with toasted almonds.
This cake should be made several days before it is needed, it will have softened and be much easier to cut. It should be kept in the fridge, covered, at least overnight.
 
Meringue
3 ozs (90g) almonds
4 egg whites
9 ozs (255g) icing sugar
 
Coffee Butter Cream
4 ozs (110g) granulated sugar
8 tablesp. water
4 egg yolks
102 ozs (300g) butter
coffee essence to flavour
Decoration
6-8 ozs (170-225g) flaked almonds, toasted
 
Cover 4 baking sheets with bakewell or silicone paper. Draw out 4 x 8 or 9 inch (20.5 or 23cm) circles on the paper.
Blanch and skin the almonds. Chop or grind in a food processor, they should not be ground to a fine powder but be slightly coarse and gritty. In a spotlessly clean bowl of a food mixer mix all the sugar with the egg whites at once and beat until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. Fold in the almonds. Divide the meringue between the four circles on the silicone paper, spread neatly, about 3 inch (5mm) thick. Bake immediately in a moderate oven, 150C/300F/regulo 2 for approx. 1 hour or until the discs are quite crisp and will peel off the paper easily. Allow to get quite cold.
Next make the coffee butter cream. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until dissolved. Remove the spoon and bring to the boil, boil gently until 216F is reached or until the syrup is at 'thread' stage. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour the hot syrup over the egg yolks, whisking all the time, continue until the mixture is thick and light. Cream the butter and gradually beat into the egg mixture. Flavour with coffee essence. Keep aside. Toast the flaked almonds and set aside to cool.
To assemble the marjolaine, sandwich the four circles of meringue together with coffee butter cream, (if necessary trim the sides to neaten*), then spread more butter cream around the sides of the cake and roll in the flaked almonds. Cover the top of the cake with butter cream and sprinkle generously with the remainder of the toasted almonds. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
* If the edges are jagged it will be difficult to ice later.

Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans


Irresistible nibbles or great decorations for cakes, mousses, and Chocolate or Coffee desserts.
3 ozs (85g) dark chocolate, at least 54 per cent cocoa solids
4 tablesp. medium roast coffee beans
 
Melt the chocolate gently in a small bowl over a saucepan of hot water. When the chocolate is softened add the roasted coffee beans. Stir to coat the beans, then lift them out with a fork and drop them on to a plate or marble slab evenly covered with non-stick silicone paper. Separate each bean, then leave to harden. Remove the beans with a palette knife and store in an air-tight jar. Alternatively, drop the wet chocolate coated beans on to a plate or marble slab covered thickly with sieved good quality cocoa powder. Separate as above and leave to harden.

Creamy Iced Coffee

Serves 2
 
8 fl ozs (250ml) strong , fresh coffee, chilled
1 tablesp. caster sugar
8 fl ozs (250ml) crushed ice cubes
3 tablesp. double cream
 
Pour the coffee, sugar and crushed ice into a blender or food processor. Mix until light brown and frothy. Stir in the double cream, pour into 2 glasses and serve immediately.

Rabbit for Easter

How about a little bunny for Easter, I adore rabbit and have delicious memories of the rabbit stews and casseroles of my childhood. A local hunter often came to our door to sell rabbits – as children we took it totally for granted and weren’t a bit squeamish. It was all part of country life. Rabbits were very plentiful and did considerable damage to crops, so there was no question of sentimentality.

Rabbit rarely features on menus in Irish restaurants nowadays, yet it regularly stars on smart restaurant menus in the UK and France

Many French rural dwellers rear their own rabbits in hutches either beside or in their farmhouses. This recipe for Rabbit with Mustard and Sage Leaves, brings back memories of delicious rabbit stews I ate with Mamie and Papi Vienot in Lille sur le Doube. If you would like to recapture the flavour of your childhood rabbit stew, telephone Pallas Foods 069- 20200 for your nearest supplier – they are not wild rabbits but they are very good and will be delicious in any of the following recipes.

Rabbit with Mustard and Sage leaves

Serves 6

This recipe is also delicious made with chicken.

1 nice rabbit about 2-3 lbs(1.1 – 1.35 kgs) or 1 chicken

6 fresh sage leaves

2 teasp. mustard powder

2 teasp. grainy mustard, eg. Moutarde de Meaux

4 fl ozs (120 ml) dry white wine

 oz (15g) butter

1 dessertsp. oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablesp. wine vinegar

18 baby onions

8 fl ozs (250 ml) creme fraiche or fresh cream and lemon juice

a little roux (optional)

Garnish

fresh sage leaves

Cut the rabbit into portions. Put into a terrine with the chopped sage leaves. Mix half the mustard powder and a half the grainy mustard with 2 fl ozs (50ml) water. Pour this and the wine over the rabbit and leave to marinade for about 1 hour.

Drain the rabbit pieces and dry them well. Put the butter and oil into a wide saute pan and lightly brown the rabbit on all sides, then remove to a casserole. Degrease the pan, deglaze with the vinegar and pour this and the marinade on to the rabbit. Add the baby onions and the rest of the mustard. Add another 2 fl ozs (50 ml) water and salt and stir well. Cover and leave to cook on a gentle heat for 1 hour approx.

When the rabbit is cooked, take out the pieces and arrange on a hot plate with the onions (making sure the onions are fully cooked). Degrease, add the cream to the pot and reduce on a high heat until it thickens, whisking in a little roux if necessary. Taste and sharpen with lemon juice if necessary. Pour the sauce over the rabbit pieces – through a sieve if you prefer a smoother sauce. Decorate with the rest of the sage leaves and serve immediately.

Roast Saddle of Rabbit with Fig and Prune Mustard

 


- adapted from Maggie Beer’s recipe in ‘Maggie’s Table’ published by Viking.

 

Serves 4

 

8 medium onions

3 large rabbit saddles

1½ ozs (35g) butter

extra virgin olive oil

2 tablesp. freshly plucked lemon thyme leaves

freshly ground black pepper

6 slices streaky bacon or pancetta

 

First roast the onions – see recipe

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/regulo 7.

Carefully remove all sinew from the rabbit saddles. Brush with olive oil, lemon thyme and pepper. Heat butter in a small roasting tin with a dash of olive oil until foaming. Then seal the rabbit very gently until pale-golden brown. Transfer to the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. Remove the rabbit from the oven, then turn the saddles over and allow them to rest for 8 minutes.

While the rabbit is resting, crisp the streaky bacon or pancetta on a baking tray in the oven or on a frying pan. Serve the rabbit with the crisp bacon or pancetta, roast onion and a dollop of Fig and Prune Mustard (see recipe).

Fig and Prune Mustard

Also delicious with the rillettes below or a lamb chop.

Makes 1.5 litres

14oz (400g) dried figs

14 oz (400g) pitted prunes

10fl.ozs (300ml) red-wine vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks

4 fl.ozs (125ml) grainy mustard

 

Finely chop the figs and prunes. Bring the vinegar, cinnamon sticks and dried fruit to a gentle simmer in a non-reactive saucepan and cook until the fruit is soft.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and blend the mixture to a coarse texture in a food processor, then fold in the mustard. Spoon into warm, sterilized jars and seal with screw-top lids, then invert the jars to create a vacuum.

Roast Onions

I'm always surprised that so few people cook onions in this ultra simple way. We call them roast onions but I suppose strictly speaking they are baked, one way or the other they are absolutely delicious, my children adore them. Choose small or medium sized onions. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6. Bake the unpeeled onions until soft this can take anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on size.

Serve in their jackets, eat by cutting off the root end, squeeze out the onion and eat with butter and sea salt.


Maggie Beer’s Rabbit Rillettes


(from Maggie’s Table by Maggie Beer)

 

Maggie says that people frightened of fat are unlikely to try these, but they are the losers! Cooking and preserving meat in fat (whether its rabbit, hare, goose, duck) is a staple of her kitchen and it’s the best way of using the legs.

Makes 750ml

3 rabbits

2¼ oz (55g) sea salt

2 tablesp. fresh thyme leaves

1 tablesp. juniper berries

2 teasp. peppercorns

18 fl.ozs (500ml) rendered chicken or duck fat

 

Joint the rabbits, leaving the saddles, kidneys and livers for another dish. Put the legs and shoulders in a glass dish with the seasoning and leave for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/regulo 3. Put the legs into the bottom of the heaviest-based pot you have, then add the shoulders. Melt the rendered fat in a saucepan, then pour enough of this over the rabbit to just cover the meat. Cover tightly and cook in the oven for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally, The rabbit must cook very slowly and must never boil, otherwise it will toughen.

Drain the fat from the cooking pot and strain it into a container. The meat should be falling off the bone. Shred the meat with 2 forks, discarding the bones. When the fat is nearly cold, pour enough over the meat to bind it together. Check for seasoning – rillettes are traditionally highly seasoned. Pack the rillettes into glass or china dishes. If sealed with a layer of melted fat, they will keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. Serve the rillettes with toast and Fig and Prune Mustard

First of the Goats Cheese

Wandering through the English Market in Cork the other day I saw the first of the little Min Gabhar, the sublime Goats cheese made by Luc and Ann van Kampen in Co Wexford. This signalled the beginning of this year’s goat cheese season. The Min Gabhar is a sister cheese of Croghan
Luc and Ann have 100 goats (British Saanen, British Alpine, Anglo Nubian and Toggenburg) and make cheese from March to November, though they started a bit earlier this year because the goats started kidding immediately after Christmas
The Min Gabhar rolled in cinders is quite exquisite. They are also producing a fresh cheese in rolls, as yet this is only available through Sheridans Cheese Shop in South Anne St, Dublin and locally in Co. Wexford. Luc and Anne have won numerous prizes, including Silver and Bronze at the British Cheese Awards in 2001, best overall farmhouse cheese at IFEX in Belfast in 1999, 3 overall prizes at IFEX in 1996 – in fact they nearly always win a prize in any show they enter. Luc prefers to eat them on their own or with a glass of fruity red wine, but they may be used in countless recipes too.
St Tola and Lough Caum from Inagh were originally created by the much loved farmhouse cheesemakers, Meg and Derek Gordon.
In a remarkably successful transition, Meg and Derek have initiated John McDonald into the art of cheesemaking. The St Tola log which comes charmingly wrapped in a piece of net like your Granny’s dance frock, has won a place in the hearts of all goat cheese lovers.
Up to relatively recently, Irish people in general, weren’t great chevre fans, but now goat cheese salad, pasta, croquettes and soufflés are all hot items on restaurant and dinner party menus.
The quality of Irish goat cheese is fantastically good – still too many chefs opt for the cheaper imported French or Dutch log just because its cheaper. Next time you order a goat cheese salad in a restaurant, ask if its Irish goat cheese, chefs should highlight the name of the Irish cheese on their menu and serve them proudly, to support the farmhouse cheesemakers and to educate their customers.
At Ballymaloe we’re fortunate that our local goat cheese makers staggered the kidding so we have the creamy Ardsallagh goad cheese virtually year round. Jane Murphy knows each of her 200 goats by name and was in a great state of excitement last week when one of her Nubian goats had just kidded. It takes about ten litres of goats milk to make just over a kilo of goat cheese.
Ardsallagh is available from the Midleton Farmers Market and selected shops countrywide.
Celebrate the new goat cheese season this weekend and have fun with one or two of these recipes.
Ardsallagh Goat Cheese – Tel. 021-4882336
Inagh Farmhouse Cheese – Tel 065-6836633
Croghan & Min Gabhar Cheese – Tel -053-27331

Goat Cheese and Thyme Leaf Souffle

Serves 6
We bake this souffle until golden and puffy in a shallow oval dish instead of the traditional souffle bowl, it makes a perfect lunch or supper dish.
90g (3oz) butter
40g (1½ oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) cream
300ml (½ pint) milk
a few slices of carrot
sprig of thyme, a few parsley stalks and a little scrap of bay
1 small onion, quartered
5 free range eggs, separated
110g (4oz) crumbled goat cheese, we use St. Tola or Ardsallagh goat cheese
85g (3oz) Gruyere cheese
55g (2oz) mature Coolea or Desmond farmhouse cheese (Parmesan – Parmigiano Reggiano or Regato may also be used)
a good pinch of salt, cayenne, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Garnish: Thyme flowers if available
12 inch (30cm) shallow oval dish (not a souffle dish)
Preheat the oven to 230C/450G/regulo 8
Brush the bottom and sides of the dish with melted butter.
Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a few slices of carrot, a quartered onion, 4 or 5 peppercorns and the fresh herbs. Bring slowly to the boil and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the flavourings, (we rinse them off and throw them into the stockpot if there is one on the go.)
Melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Whisk in the strained cream and milk, bring to the boil and whisk until it thickens. Cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, goat cheese, Gruyere and most of the Coolea or Desmond (or Parmesan if using.) Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Taste and correct seasoning. Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold them gently into the mixture to make a loose consistency. Put the mixture into the prepared dish, scatter the thyme leaves on top and sprinkle with the remaining Coolea or Desmond cheese.
Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until sides and top are nicely puffed up and golden, the centre should still be creamy. Garnish with thyme flowers.
Serve immediately on warm plates with a good green salad.

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese with Roast Pepper, Rocket Leaves, and Tapenade Oil


Serves 5
10ozs (285g) Ardsallagh goat cheese (or a similar fresh mild goat cheese)
seasoned flour
beaten egg
flaked almonds
white breadcrumbs
2 large red peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
Tapenade Oil
110g (4ozs) stoned black olives
1 scant tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
170ml (6fl.ozs) olive oil
A selection of lettuces and rocket leaves
Dressing
4 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tablesp. Balsamic vinegar
½ clove garlic crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish
Wild garlic flowers in season
 
First divide the Ardsallagh goat cheese into 25 balls, chill.
Next make the Tapenade oil
Coarsely chop the stoned black olives, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Whisk in the olive oil as you whiz and process to a coarse or smooth puree as you prefer.
Coat the cheese in seasoned flour, beaten egg, flaked almonds, breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer on a flat plate. Cover and chill well.
Roast the peppers in a preheated oven 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for approximately 20 minutes. Put into a bowl, cover the top with cling film and allow to steam for 5 or 10 minutes. Peel, remove seeds and cut into strips.
Next make the dressing Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a deep fry or a pan to 200°C
Fry the goat cheese croquettes in batches until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Toss the lettuces and salad leaves in a bowl with just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten.
Divide between the six plates. Put five croquettes on each plate, decorate with strips of roast red pepper, rocket leaves and a drizzle of Tapenade oil.
Scatter some wild garlic flowers over the top and serve immediately

Crispy Hot Goat Cheese Salad with Beetroot Julienne


Serves 4
2 small goat cheese or 4 slices 1 inch (2.5cm) thick cut from a log
seasoned flour
egg
white breadcrumbs
Salad:
frizzy lettuces and salad leaves eg. golden marjoram, purslane, sorrel leaves, chive flowers, sprigs of chervil
Vinaigrette made from:
3 tablesp. walnut oil
1 tablesp. peanut oil
2 teasp. Dijon mustard
1 tablesp. wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
 
1 large or 2 small beetroot peeled and cut into julienne or very thin rounds
cornflour
oil for deep frying
 
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.
 
Wash and dry the lettuces. Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Dip the pieces of cheese, first in seasoned flour and then in crumbs, dab with a little walnut or olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden.
Cut the beetroot into julienne or into very thin rounds, toss in cornflour and deep fry until crisp at 150°C/300°F/regulo 2.
Drain on kitchen paper, keep warm.
Toss the frizzy lettuce and salad leaves in a little dressing - use just enough to make the leaves glisten.
To serve:
Divide the salad between 4 plates, put a crispy cheese in the centre of each, garnish with crispy beetroot julienne, a few fresh walnut halves and some sprigs of chervil.

Goat Cheese and Rocket Bruschetta with Tomato and Chilli Jam


Serves 1
Italian bread or a ¾ inch slice of good quality French stick
1 clove garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Rocket leaves
Fresh goat’s cheese eg. Ardsallagh, Croghan or St Tola
Tomato and Chilli Jam (see recipe)
 
Garnish:
A few olives
Just before serving chargrill or toast the bread. Rub the surface with a clove of garlic, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Drop a few rocket leaves over the bruschetta, top generously with goat cheese. Drizzle with Tomato and Chilli Jam.
Pop onto a large plate, add a few olives and some freshly cracked pepper.
Serve immediately.
Variation: Tapenade is great with this brushchetta also.
Tomato and Chilli Jam
This zingy jam is great with everything from fried eggs to cold meat. Terrific on a piece of chicken breast or fish or spread on bruschetta with goat’s cheese and rocket leaves.
500g (1lb 2oz) very ripe tomatoes
2-4 red chillies
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
about 2.5cm (1inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
30ml (1fl oz) fish sauce (Nam Pla)
300g (11oz) golden castor sugar
100ml (3½fl oz) red wine vinegar
Peel the tomatoes and chop into 1cm (2 inch) dice. Puree the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce in a blender. Put the purée, sugar and vinegar into a stainless steel saucepan, add the tomatoes and bring to the boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking.
When cooked pour into warmed, sterilized glass jars. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge.

A Culinary Education

On Thursday last we all packed into a bus at the crack of dawn, well 7.15am, to head off into the Knockmealdown mountains on our school tour. A bus full of excited students of 10 nationalities and ranging from 18-50 years of age, full of anticipation.
We headed for Clogheen where Dick and Anne Keating make Baylough farmhouse cheese from the milk of their Friesian and MRI herd. They’ve just started into the new season, having had a break since November.

Ann is a pragmatic lady with an indomitable spirit, characteristics of many of the Irish farmhouse cheese-makers. As she cut the curd she delighted the students with the story of how she initially taught herself how to make cheese and gradually perfected her cheddar type which is now called Baylough.

She explained the cheese-making process in detail to the fascinated students, the importance of the quality of the milk, the function of the starter, which gives the cheese its unique flavour and character. They saw how the rennet coagulated the milk which is then cut into curds and whey. The cheesemaking process can’t be hurried or delayed, it has its own rhythm and is ever changing as the year progresses – the best cheeses are made from summer milk when the cows are grazing on the rich green pasture.

Anne makes five cheeses, the traditional Baylough is the original cheese, aged for a minimum of three months, some are waxed (they are first painted with a liquid wax and then dipped in a hot wax), but demand grows for cheese wrapped in cheesecloth in the traditional way. Anne is pleased with this development, because the cheeses gain an extra complexity of flavour as they age and are increasingly sought out by cheddar connoisseurs. Ann has also built up a loyal following for her garlic and garlic and herb, versions, which are also available smoked.
From small beginnings in her own kitchen Anne’s business has now grown into a custom built dairy with dedicated cold rooms and a packing room.

She is loud in her praise of David Mitchell from Mullinahone Co-op who offered not only inspiration but practical help as she struggled to learn the art of cheesemaking initially, Tim Cogan and his colleagues from Moorepark are also an ongoing support, the business now employs two part-time staff in summer, and Anne simply can scarcely keep up with the demand for Baylough. It now sells at Peter Ward’s Country Choice in Nenagh, McCambridges in Galway, Sheridans in Dublin, Trevor Irvine in Carrick-on-Shannon, On the Pigs Back in Cork’s English Market, Al Vinos in Athlone, Hudsons Wholefoods in Ballydehob, and I regularly see people buying it at Cork Airport to present to friends.
We left Anne and Dick as they were preparing to fill the moulds and sped towards Dungarvan.
We had the most delicious lunch at the Tannery – we’re big fans of Paul and Maire O’Flynn’s cool and sophisticated restaurant. The spiced parsnip and coconut soup drizzled with olive oil was light and full of delicious flavours. Pudding was poached apple with caramel ice cream and cinnamon biscuit.

The students tucked in and polished off every morsel – and they loved when Paul, who is naturally shy, came out and shared his advice and experience of the highs and lows of the restaurant business with them.
Next we sped towards Cork to visit the indomitable Frank Hederman to learn the secrets of smoking fish at his traditional smokehouse at Belvelly near Cobh. Frank has built up an enviable reputation for his artisanal products, salmon, eel, mackerel, sprats, mussels, herrings, hake… and now sells not only in the Cork, Temple Bar and Midleton Farmers Markets, but in other selected outlets around the country and Fortnum and Mason’s in the UK, and he exports to Germany. Yet another example of an artisanal producer who has helped to enhance the image of Irish food abroad .

No culinary education is complete without a visit to the Cork Market, this food lovers paradise continues to gather momentum. It is unique, the only covered market of its type in Ireland, open 6 days a week. A recent annex to Toby Simond’s Olive Stall run by Jenny Rose and situated opposite O’Connells fish stall, sells fat juicy sandwiches made with ciabatta, delicious salads, tapenade, couscous and other goodies.
The Organic stall owned by Mark O’Mahony sells a wide range of organic products, some fresh vegetables and organic meat butchered by Willie Beechinor. They are situated in the middle aisle opposite Mary Rose Daly’s new coffee shop ‘Coffee Centrale’ and close to Mr Bell’s ethnic ingredients stall and Isobel Sheridan’s treasure house of gastronomic temptations ‘On the Pigs Back’. Mary Rose, one of the markets best loved characters, dispenses latte, expressos and cappuccinos with great good humour and aplomb.

I just love showing the students around the market – showing them the skirts and tripe, kidneys, pigs tails, corned beef and telling them about the history of Cork which has been a trading port back to the time of the Phoenicians. I wonder whether Cork people realise that they are the envy of food lovers all over he country with the variety of produce they have access to, from Paul Murphy’s selection of Irish honeys to fine fresh meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, breads, cakes, nuts, grains. It was unbearably tempting, so laden with bags we headed for the Long Valley for a little sustenance before we headed back to Shanagarry for a delicious market supper.
Paul Flynn from the Tannery has generously shared some of his delicious recipes with us.
The Tannery Restaurant, 10 Quay Street, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, 058 45420
www.tannery.ie

Tannery Parsnip and coconut soup


- serves 4 - 6
1 medium onion chopped
10 medium parsnips peeled and chopped
3 sticks celery
1 teasp Singapore laksa paste
½ teasp curry powder
1 standard tin coconut milk
2 pints (1.2L) chicken stock
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to season
few sprigs coriander to garnish

Sweat the onion, curry powder and paste for two to three minutes until the onion is transparent. Add the parsnips and celery and sweat again for another two to three minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes or until the parsnips are cooked through. Add the coconut milk and cook for a further two minutes. Blitz with a hand held blender, add the honey and season with salt pepper. Garnish with coriander

Paul Flynn’s Cinnamon biscuits


150g (5 oz) flour
115g (4¼ oz) butter
50g (2oz) castor sugar
115g (4¼) brown sugar
1 egg
2 ½ teasp. cinnamon powder
Beat the sugar and butter until creamy and white. Add the egg. Fold in the
flour. Chill for at least an hour.
Roll out and cut into desired shapes. Bake at 180C (350F/regulo 4) for 10 to 12 minutes until golden but still softish. They will completely crispen up when cold.
Serve with Caramel Ice-cream or on their own with a cup of tea.

Ballymaloe Caramel Ice-cream with Caramel Sauce and Bananas


Instead of bananas you could also try this ice-cream with poached apples and Paul’s cinnamon biscuits
Serves 6-8
50g (2 oz) sugar
125 ml (4 fl.oz) cold water
125 ml (4 fl.oz) hot water
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
½ teaspoon pure vanilla essence
600 ml (1 pint) softly whipped cream
Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar and 125 ml (4 fl. oz) cold water in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil until the syrup caramelises to a chestnut brown. Quickly pour on 125 ml (4 fl oz) of hot water. Do not stir. Boil gently until it again becomes a smooth, thick syrup and reaches the ‘thread’ stage, 106-113C/223-236F. It will look thick and syrupy when a spoon is dipped in. Pour this boiling syrup onto the egg yolks. Add the vanilla essence and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick, creamy mousse. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.
Caramel Sauce
225 g (8oz) sugar
75ml (3 fl oz) cold water
250 ml (8 fl.oz) hot water
Garnish
2 bananas, sliced

Dissolve the sugar in 75 ml (3fl.oz) of cold water over a gentle heat. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved, then remove the spoon and continue to simmer until the syrup caramelises to a pale-chestnut colour. If sugar crystals form during cooking, brush down the sides of the pan with a wet brush, but do not stir.
Remove from the heat, pour in 250 ml (8 fl.oz) of hot water and continue to cook until the caramel dissolves and the sauce is quite smooth.
Allow to get cold.
To Serve: Scoop the ice-cream into a chilled bowl or ice bowl. Slice the bananas at an angle and add to the sauce. Spoon over the ice-cream or serve separately.
Caramel Sauce keeps almost indefinitely in a glass jar in the fridge or any cold place.

Tapas

Recent figures on the quantity of booze that we quaff, both in this country and the UK, have sent quivers of alarm through everyone, even the politicians.  Those of us with teenage children are even more panicked when we read about the current trend for binge drinking and the express desire of many young people to get ‘slammed’ in as short a time as possible.  They down shots one after the other in quick succession to the cheers of their friends until they are scarcely able to stand - this kind of scenario is every parent’s nightmare.

So where is the entrepreneur who will start a chain of funky Tapas bars in Ireland.  Better still could the Vintners Association of Ireland encourage their members to serve a selection of Tapas for their punters to eat with their drinks - I’ve got a pub grub course coming up just after Easter and I will certainly include a few tapas in it to get people started.

Overall the pub grub in Ireland is improving by leaps and bounds.   Recently the results of this year’s Club Orange/Licensing World Pub Lunch Awards Competition were announced, so if you are fortunate enough to have one of those pubs in your area go along and investigate - the overall winner was Lennons Café Bar in Carlow, and the monthly winners were Ryans Bar in Navan, The Purty Kitchen in Dun Laoghaire, The Huntsman Inn in Galway, The Marble City Bar in Kilkenny, Eagle House, Glasthule, Co Dublin, The Vintage Bar in Kanturk,  Co Cork and The Thatch, Crinkle, Birr, Co Offaly.

Tapas according to the Spanish Tourist Board was ‘originally a mouthful of food included in the bar-price of a drink, tapas are designed to accompany drink and good conversation, and whether thirst provoking or absorbent, they should be easy to eat so they don’t interrupt the flow of conversation.”

In Spain its customary to move from one bar to another, sampling each establishment’s fare before moving on to the next    The days of free tapas with drinks are long gone, but the tapas phenomenon is going from strength to strength.   These tasty little bites are now sometimes served as a starter, or as a substantial evening meal shared between friends.  In London alone, there are hundreds of traditional tapas bars, as well as more sophisticated restaurants serving a tantalising variety of classics.

One of my favourites is Goya in Lupus St. SW1, simple, unpretentious,  yet sophisticated.  Perhaps because of its proximity to Westminster it has “established a peculiar place in the heart of Britain’s political class, particularly the Tory element”, according to Time Out.  Nonetheless, it is frequented by students and publishing types as well as the occasional politician.   The British appetite for tapas is such that there is now a nationwide chain of Spanish restaurants called La Tasca. Founded in 1993 in Manchester, it is now reputed to be the fastest growing group of its kind in the country with 19  already open and plans to open another 30 in the next three years.

The menu offers about 30 tapas as well as main courses and puds and of course Spanish wine and beers. 

They are generally served in small portions with a fino sherry, Tapa is the smallest while the racion is about double the size.  In Spain, where lunch is rarely eaten before 2.30 or even 3.00pm and dinner 10.00pm, tapas fulfil not only an important social function, they help to take the edge off peoples’ appetite while they wait for lunch or dinner to be served. 

Here are a few simple ideas to get you started.

*Brendan Ross from Droumdrastil in Dunmanway, West Cork recently set up an enterprise producing quail eggs.  Quail Eggs, cooked for just 3 minutes, served with celery salt are simple and delicious.  They will be hard-boiled in that time.

Brendan Ross, Coturnix Quail, Tel. 087- 2065067

Garlic Mussels

Our own juicy Irish mussels would make delicious tapas.

Serves 6-8
48 mussels, approx. 32-4 lbs (1.57-1.8kg)
Garlic Butter
3 ozs (85g/: stick) soft butter
2 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) olive oil
Fresh, white breadcrumbs
Check that all the mussels are closed. If any are open, tap the mussel on the work top, if it does not close within a few seconds, discard. (The rule with shellfish is always, ‘If in doubt, throw it out’.) Scrape off any barnacles from the mussel shells. Wash the mussels well in several changes of cold water. Then spread them in a single layer in a pan, covered with a folded tea towel or a lid and cook over a gentle heat. This usually takes 2-3 minutes, the mussels are cooked just as soon as the shells open. Remove them from the pan immediately or they will shrink in size and become tough.

Remove the beard (the little tuft of tough ‘hair’ which attached the mussel to the rock or rope it grew on). Discard one shell. Loosen the mussel from the other shell, but leave it in the shell. Allow to get quite cold.

Meanwhile make the Garlic Butter. Peel and crush the garlic and pound it in a mortar with the finely chopped parsley and olive oil. Gradually beat in the butter (this may be done either in a bowl or a food processor). Spread the soft garlic butter evenly over the mussels in the shells and dip each one into the soft, white breadcrumbs. They may be prepared ahead to this point and frozen in a covered box lined with cling film or tin foil.

Arrange in individual serving dishes. Brown under the grill and serve with crusty white bread to mop up the delicious garlicky juices.

Chorizo in Puff Pastry (Chorizo en Hojaldre)


This tapa, is one of my favourite ways to prepare chorizo.   They may be prepared ahead and frozen, ready to cook for a party.

Serves 5-6 (makes 16)
8 ozs ( 225g) puff pastry (preferably homemade)
4 ozs (110g) chorizo sausage, cut in ¼ inch (5mm) slices
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
Roll the puff pastry to one-eighth (3mm) thickness.
Cut into circles ¼ inch (5mm) larger than the slices of chorizo.  Place a slice of chorizo in the centre of each pastry circle, paint the edges of the pastry with the egg yolk and cover with another circle of pastry.  Press the edges together with a fork to seal.  As each puff is made put it in the fridge, so that the pastry does not soften.  (The puffs may also be frozen at this point.)

Place the puffs on an ungreased baking sheet and bake at 450F/230C/regulo 8, on the upper shelf in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed.

Fried Salted Almonds


From ‘Tapas - the little dishes of Spain’ by Penelope Casas.

Almond trees grow in many parts of Spain, but almonds as tapas seem to be more popular in Sevilla than elsewhere. When almonds are freshly fried, as they often are in Sevilla, they are really something special.

Serves 4-6
Oil for frying.
4 ozs (110g) blanched whole almonds
coarse salt
In a pan heat the oil at least ½ inch deep to about 400F and fry the almonds until lightly golden.    Or, better, use a deep-fryer.  Drain and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Fried Squid Spanish Style


Fried squid are a very popular tapa almost everywhere in Spain.  Be careful not to overcook or they will be tough and rubbery.
Serves 4-6
2 lb (900g) of the smallest available cleaned squid, or about
1lb (450g) if cleaned
flour for dusting
oil for frying
2 eggs, lightly beaten
salt
lemon wedges
Cut the body of the squid into ½ inch (1cm) wide rings, leave the tentacles in one piece. Dry well with paper towels or the squid will spatter when cooked. Dust the pieces with flour.

In a large pan have the oil at least 1 inch (2.5cm) deep and heat to about 380F, or use a deep fryer if available. 

Coat the squid rings and tentacles completely with the beaten egg.  Remove one at a time and put immediately into the hot oil.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until just golden.  Drain and sprinkle with salt.  Serve immediately garnished with lemon wedges.

As an alternative you could coat the squid with a batter instead of flour and egg, this will produce a crunchier coating.  A plain batter or a beer batter could be used.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a wonderful food as far as I’m concerned. Almost every morning, in autumn and winter, a bowl of steaming porridge with soft brown sugar and creamy milk launches me into the day,  Tim brings me a breakfast tray in bed - am I not spoiled rotten?   This glorious arrangement also means that Tim can have a peaceful hour in the kitchen all to himself.   Macroom oatmeal from the last stone-grinding mill is my absolute favourite, but I also love pinhead oatmeal.  
Last year we grew a field of oats, we had a tremendous yield and sent it along to Donal Creedon at Macroom to be milled.  It was such a delight to have our own freshly ground oatmeal for breakfast. Years ago this would have been a common occurrence.  
Ireland’s soft damp climate is ideally suited to the cultivation of oats so oatmeal became a staple food of the Irish from pre-historic times.  Its popularity lasted right up to the 17th Century when it was superseded by the newly introduced potato.
 
Most farmers would have grown some oats and taken it to the local mill to be ground, it was then stored to be used in bread, black puddings and oatcakes. Oats have been valued for their nutritive value for a long time, with higher levels of zinc and manganese than in other cereals.  Oat bran is an important source of soluble fibre which appears to reduce blood cholesterol.
Flahavans are now doing an organic oatmeal which is well worth seeking out.  It also makes delicious porridge but if you are tiring of that comforting cereal, why not make some muesli or a home-made granola, full of nuts and dried fruit and toasted grains.  There are lots of oatmeal biscuits including flapjacks and Anzacs.    A little fist full of oatflakes added to a crumble or brown soda bread will be nutty and delicious.   Many people enjoy herrings dipped in oatmeal or croquettes with a crispy oatmeal crust.

Granola

-  Scrunchy Muesli with Bananas and Yoghurt
Serves 10 approx.
(150ml) Irish honey
(150ml) walnut oil
 (150ml) water
6 ozs (170g) oat flakes
2 ozs (55g) sesame seeds
2 ozs (55g) bran flakes
2 ozs (55g) desiccated coconut
6 ozs (170g) roughly chopped pecan nuts
3 ozs (85g) flaked almonds
3 ozs (85g) raisins
Accompaniment
sliced bananas and thick natural yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.
Put the walnut oil, water and honey into a saucepan, warm over a gentle heat. Meanwhile mix the oats, sesame seeds, bran flakes, desiccated coconut, flaked almonds and roughly chopped pecans in a bowl. Pour the warm honey and oil mixture over the grains and mix well. Spread out onto a roasting tin, bake in the preheated oven until the grains are nicely toasted 20 minutes approx.
Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add the raisins and allow to cool.
Serve with yoghurt and sliced bananas or milk.

Oatmeal and Apple Muesli with Hazelnuts


4 ozs (110g) grated dessert apple (preferably Cox's Orange Pippin or Worcester Permain)
3 heaped tablesp. rolled oatmeal (porridge oats)
6 tablesp.  water
1 teasp. approx. pure Irish honey
2 tablesp.  sliced hazelnuts, preferably toasted
Serves 8
Soak the oatmeal in the water for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the apple on the coarse part of a grater, mix with the oatmeal. Sweeten to taste with honey, a scant teaspoon is usually  enough but it depends on how sweet the apples are.
Add hazelnuts and serve with cream and soft brown sugar.
Blackberry and Apple Muesli
A few blackberries are delicious added to Apple muesli in Autumn.
Apple and Raisin Squares
 8 ozs (225 g) self raising flour
8 ozs (225 g) oatmeal
1 level teaspoon  bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
8 ozs (225 g)   butter
8 ozs (225 g) sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
2 eating apples
4 ozs (110 g) raisins
 
Mix the flour, oats and bicarbonate of soda together.  Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together over a gentle heat and add.  Line a tin with greaseproof paper.  Press half the mixture into a lightly greased 92 inch square tin.  Peel, core and chop the apple finely, mix with the raisins and sprinkle over, then spread the remaining oat mixture on top. 
Bake for 30 minutes 180C/350F/regulo 4, leave to cool for 5 minutes, cut into squares and transfer to a wire rack.

Kibbled Wheat and Oatmeal Scones


We sometimes make these scones into little mini loaves about 5 x 4 inches (10 - 12.5cm) and then cut them into little slices rather than splitting them in half.
 
680g(1¼ lbs) brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)  or 450g(1 lb) brown wholemeal flour and 50g (2 ozs) Oatmeal and 50g (2 ozs) Kibbled wheat
450g (1 lb) white flour
30-55g (1-2 ozs) butter
10g/2 rounded teasp. salt
10g/2 rounded teasp. bread soda  (bicarbonate of soda), sieved
1 free range egg
750-950ml (1¼-1½ pints) buttermilk or sour milk
Topping
30g (1 oz) Kibbled wheat, optional
30g (1 oz) oatmeal
Serves 16-20
First preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8.
Ina large wide bowl mix the dry ingredients well together, rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre, add the whisked egg, and most of the buttermilk or sour milk.
Working from the centre, mix with your hand and add more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Turn out onto a floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Tidy lightly, just enough to shape into a square. Flatten slightly to about 1½ inches (4cm) approx. Mix the kibbled wheat and oatmeal together on a plate.
Brush with a little beaten egg and buttermilk. Cut with a knife into square scones, dip each scone into the kibbled wheat and oatmeal topping.
Transfer to a baking sheet. The mixture will make 16-20 scones depending on the size. Bake in a hot oven 230C/450F/regulo 8 for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 200C/400F/regulo 6 for approx. another 5-10 minutes depending on sound, they should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
 

Pinhead Oatmeal Porridge


Serves 4
52 ozs (155g) Macroom stoneground pinhead oatmeal
32 fl ozs (950ml) water
1 level teaspoon salt
Soak the oatmeal in 1 cup of cold water. Meanwhile bring 3 cups of water to the boil and add to the oatmeal. Put on a low heat and stir until the water comes to the boil.
Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the salt. Cover again and leave aside overnight, the oatmeal will absorb all the water. Reheat and serve with single cream or milk and soft brown sugar.

Tender Loving Care Biscuits


(known as TLC biscuits in our house)
Makes about 10 iced biscuits (depending on the size of the cutter used)
4 ozs (110g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
1 dessertspoon  golden syrup
2 ozs (55g) flour
5 ozs (140g) oatmeal (porridge oats)
2 ozs (55g) dessicated coconut
A pinch of salt
A pinch of bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
Coffee Filling
12 ozs (45g) butter
3 ozs (85g) icing sugar
Coffee essence - 1 teaspoon approx.
Coffee Icing
4 ozs (110g) icing sugar
1 tablespoon approx. boiling water
12 teaspoons approx. coffee essence
Decoration
10 - 12 walnuts
Cutter
Use a 12 inch (4cm)  cutter
Cream the butter and sugar and add in the golden syrup, gradually stir in the dry ingredients and mix well.
Roll out on to a floured board to about 3 inch (5mm) thickness - the mixture will be slightly sticky and will be a little difficult to handle.  Stamp out into rounds with a cutter
and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 until golden. They will take approx.12-15 minutes.
Remove to a wire rack and allow to become quite cold.  Meanwhile make the filling and icings.
Coffee Filling:
Cream the butter and add in the sieved icing sugar, beat until light and fluffy and then add the coffee essence. Spread a little on each biscuit and sandwich two biscuits together.
Coffee Icing:
Sieve the icing sugar, add the coffee essence and enough boiling water to mix to a spreading consistency, very little does, so be careful not to add too much.  Spread a little blob of icing on top of each biscuit and decorate with a walnut half.

            

Letters

Past Letters