Exciting Things have been Happening at Glebe House

Down Baltimore way exciting things have been happening at Glebe House. Jean and Peter Perry have had their gardens open to the public for 5 years now. Pay €4 into the honesty box by the stone pier and one can wander gently through the herb garden and potager bursting with organic vegetables, a variety of lettuces, kale and all manner of brassicas. Scarlet runner beans are eagerly romping up jute string, plump pea pods, chard, summer leeks ……

For those garden lovers who are more impressed by voluptuous herbaceous borders there’s also lots to impress in Jean’s cut flower garden. It was a riot of colour and texture last week when I visited. This garden was planted about 3 years ago to provide Jean with cut flowers for the bouquets she sold at the Skibbereen Farmers Market – not just roses and carnations but a glorious mixture of campanulas, salvias, daisies, eryngiums, delphiniums, astilbe, lady’s mantle, sweet William, love lies bleeding….

Last year with the aid of a grant from the Harold Barry Trust, Peter and Jean have created and planted a woodland walk, culminating in a small amphitheatre overlooking Church Strand Bay.

This year for the first time visitors and locals alike can enjoy the new café which opened its doors just a few weeks ago. Peter has built a conservatory off the dining room but visitors can also breakfast or lunch or do the crossword under the tree beside the herbaceous border, while the children explore the garden or peer into the hen run.

Brunch is served all day, full Irish, or if you’re feeling more adventurous, Crispy Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup or Eggs Benedict – two plump poached eggs on a bed of creamy spinach. This is not the spot to dash in for a quick breckie. Settle down with a pot of fine strong Fairtrade tea or coffee and the newspaper while Tessa or Flavie cooks to order.

The menu is simple, well chosen, a celebration of food from the garden and local area. Temptations like Borsch, Pea and Coriander Soup, Glebe Salad, West Cork Cheese Plate, a couple of gorgeous tarts – maybe Three cheese and Cherry Tomato Tart, or Blue Cheese and Onion Marmalade Tart. The challenge is to leave room for pud or a yummy slice – how about Flavie’s Chocolate Cake, or Plum Flan with Clonakilty Ice-cream. You might also want to polish off some Tunisian Orange Cake, or nibble a piece of Rosemary shortcake, or a bowl of fresh strawberries and local cream.

Just the sort of place one longs to find in one’s travels around the countryside but seldom does. Walkers and sailors can order a scrummy picnic, prices are very fair and reasonable. 

Glebe Gardens and Café open daily Easter till end of September 10am -6pm

Admission €4 (children under 16 free). 

Location - Skibbereen to Baltimore road, as you enter village ‘Baltimore’ sign is on left entrance directly opposite. Tel 028-20232. glebegardens@eircom.net  www.glebegardens.com 

Here are some suggestions for a nice Summer menu

Courgette and Parsley Soup

Choose small courgettes for maximum flavour. If you are fortunate enough to grow your own you'll have lots of bright yellow blossoms. Include some in the soup and scatter a few petals over each bowl of soup to make a stunning garnish.
Serves 6-8
1 lb (450g) courgettes
1 oz (30g) butter
6 ozs (170g) onion, diced
6 ozs (170g) potato, diced
salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
12 pints (900ml) light home-made chicken stock
2 tablespoons approx. chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon approx. chopped fresh basil or annual marjoram
a dash of creamy milk (optional)

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onion and potato, toss until well coated. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg, cover and sweat until soft but not coloured -5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile grate the courgettes on the coarse part of a grater and add to the soup base, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Bring the stock to the boil and add to the base, bring back to the boil and continue to cook for a further 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the parsley and purée the soup in a liquidiser for just a few seconds - there should be flecks of green clearly visible.

Taste and correct the seasoning. Add a little creamy milk if necessary.

Smoked Salmon and Dill Quiches

Also delicious for a picnic.
Makes 24

6 ozs (170g) Shortcrust pastry 
Smoked Salmon Filling
6 eggs, preferably free-range 
12 fl ozs (350ml) double cream 
3 teasp. ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 - 6 ozs (110g-170g) smoked salmon, chopped into 3 inch dices
2 teasp. chopped fresh dill

Preheat the oven to moderate 180C/350F/regulo 4. Roll out pastry to 3 mm/c inch thick and stamp out twenty-four pastry rounds using a 6 cm/22 inch pastry cutter. Press pastry rounds into shallow, greased patty pans (tartlet tins). Line with kitchen paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind while you make the filling. 

To make the custard, whisk the eggs with the cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the chopped salmon and dill. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

A Summer Green Salad with Ballymaloe French Dressing

Ballymaloe French Dressing
2 fl ozs (55ml) Wine vinegar
6 fl ozs (150ml) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other oils. eg. sunflower and arachide
1 level teaspoon mustard (Dijon or English)
1 large clove of garlic
1 scallion or small spring onion
Sprig of parsley
Sprig of watercress
1 level teaspoon salt
Few grinds of pepper

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

Green Salad

You will need a mild lettuce (eg. the common butterhead) as the basis of the salad and as many of the following as you care to or can put in:

finely chopped parsley, mint or any herbs of your fancy, spring onions, dice of cucumber, mustard and cress, watercress, the white tips of cauliflower, tips of purple sprouting broccoli, iceberg lettuce, cos, raddichio, oakleaf, Chinese leaves, rocket, salad burnet, and any other interesting lettuces available.

Wash and dry the lettuces and other leaves very carefully. Tear into bite sized pieces and put into a deep salad bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate, if not to be served immediately. Just before serving toss with a little French Dressing - just enough to make the leaves glisten. Serve immediately.

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

Green Salad with Edible Flowers

Prepare a selection of salad leaves (see above) and add some edible flowers, eg. marigold petals, nasturtium flowers, borage flowers, chive flowers, rocket blossoms etc. one or all of these or some other herb flowers could be added. Toss with a well flavoured dressing just before serving.

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

Rustic Peach Tart with Summer Berries

Serves 6-8

Pastry
8 oz/225 g plain white flour
1 tablespoon castor sugar
4 oz/110 g cut into ½ inch dice
Cold water or beaten egg to mix

Filling

3-4 oz/85-110 g sugar
2 generous tablespoons cornflour
1½-2 lbs/675-900 g ripe peaches, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick 
4 oz/110 g blueberries, picked over
4 oz/110 g raspberries, picked over

Castor sugar for sprinkling, about 1 tablespoon 
1 x 9 inch pie plate or tart tin.

First make the pastry, put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the cold butter. When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add just enough water or beaten egg to bind. Knead lightly to get the mixture to come together. Cover with wax or silicone paper and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. 

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 14 inch round approx. Line a 9 inch pie plate with it. Put the plate over a bowl to allow the edge to hang down, chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. 

To make the filling, mix the sugar with the cornflour. Toss in the peaches. Allow to sit for 5 minutes not more, tossing occasionally. 

Stir the blueberries and raspberries gently into the peaches. Pour the fruit and the juices into the chilled pie shell and distribute it evenly. Fold the overhanging edge to cover the outer portion of the filling, leaving a 5 inch opening of exposed fruit in the centre of the pie. Brush the pastry with water, sprinkle with a little sugar. 

Bake the pie in a preheated oven 230C/450F/regulo 8 for 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 180C/350F/regulo 4 and bake for 30 to35 minutes longer. Serve warm or cold with softly whipped cream.

Alternatively, sprinkle with castor sugar when cooked

Eggs Benedict

This is our version.

Rich and gorgeous, often eaten for breakfast but best for brunch - again the quality of all the components can lift this from the mundane to the extraordinary.

4 free range eggs, preferably organic
4 English muffins or 4 rounds of toast made from good bread preferably not sliced pan
4 slices cooked ham or 4-8 slices of bacon

Hollandaise sauce
First make the Hollandaise sauce

If using bacon heat a very little sunflower oil in a hot frying pan. Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper. Meanwhile poach the eggs and make the toast or split the muffins. Spread the hot toast or toasted muffins with butter. Top with a slice of ham or 2 slices of crispy bacon. Gently place the poached egg on top and coat with Hollandaise sauce. Serve extra hot toast and sauce separately.

Hollandaise Sauce

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

Hollandaise is the mother of all the warm emulsion sauces . The version we use here is easy to make and quite delicious with fish. Like Mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a feast. Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 70-80C/180F or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale, otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water. Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need. If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potato.

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range
125 g/4 ozs butter cut into dice
1 dessertspoon cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice, approx.

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

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

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

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a bowl over warm water, or in a thermos flask. Hollandaise Sauce should not be reheated. Leftover sauce may be used as an enrichment for cream sauces, or mashed potatoes, or to perk up a fish pie etc.

Light Hollandaise Sauce
Whisk in 2 tablespoons of water to lighten the sauce. 

Foolproof Food

Perfect Poached Eggs on Toast

No fancy egg poachers or moulds are needed to produce a perfect result - simply a really fresh egg laid by a happy lazy hen.
Serves 1

2 eggs, free-range if possible 
toast, freshly made from a slice of pan loaf

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, reduce the heat, swirl the water, crack the egg and slip gently into the whirlpool in the centre. For perfection the water should not boil again but bubble very gently just below boiling point. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes until the white is set and the yolk still soft and runny.

Meanwhile make a slice of toast, cut off the crusts, butter and pop onto a hot plate. Drain the poached egg or eggs and place on top. Serve immediately.

Hot Tips

Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 4-5 September 2004 at Oxford Brookes University, UK. – theme ‘Wild Food:Hunters and Gatherers’ www.oxfordsymposium.org.uk  Enquiries to silvija@oxfordsymposium.org.uk 

More on Wild Food – A Walk on the Wild Side with Darina Allen – Foraging Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School 18th September – www.cookingisfun.ie  enquiries@cookingisfun.ie  Tel 021-4646785

Indian Summer Festival 2004 - 29th June to 22 September at Vermilion Indian Fusion Cuisine in Dublin – 94/96 Terenure Rd North, Dublin 6W Tel 01-499 1400 www.vermilion.ie