Annual Slow Food Picnic

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Another convivial Slow food event – I’ve just had the best fun wending my way slowly but surely up to the top of Lough Ine Hill – my daughter and my well-toned friend from boarding school powered their way ahead, I adopted a more leisurely pace, traversing backwards and forwards up the steep slopes under the mossy trees, stopping regularly to admire the breathtakingly beautiful view over the lake.

This was the annual Slow Food Picnic so I was retracing the steps of Edith Somerville and Violet Martin Ross, who brought a picnic to Lough Ine on the last Sunday in August every year. I wonder if they were interested in wild mushrooms or did they scramble among the wild bilberry bushes in their long skirts to collect the tiny, wild intensively flavoured little berries.
When we eventually reached the top the view was spectacular. The plateau was covered with exuberantly blooming heather. We sat on rounded stones and tucked into Clodagh McKenna’s yummy picnics – Our reward for huffing and puffing our way to the top.

There was a choice of 4 picnics –

– Wild Smoked Fish Picnic – A plate of Smoked Wild Fish with Arbutus Irish Soda Bread, and Homemade Mayonnaise. Organic Leaves , Desmond, and Balsamic Vinegar Salad. Glenilen Summer Fruit Cheesecake and a 1/4 bottle of Sauvignon.

West Cork Cheese Picnic – West Cork Cheese Plate which included Durrus, Gubbeen, Cais Dubh (from Fermoy) and Hegarty’s Cheddar, with Fresh Arbutus White Yeast Bread. Rosscarberry Organic Leaves , Desmond, and Balsamic Vinegar Salad. Richard Graham- Leigh’s Franzipane and a 1/4 bottle Sauvignon.

Pate and Charcuterie Picnic – Clodagh’s Chicken Liver Pate and a selection of Frank Krawczyk and Fingal Fergusons Salami’s with Cucumber Pickle on Abrbutus Foccacia Bread. Organic Leaves , Desmond, and Balsamic Vinegar Salad. Glenilen Raspberry Mousse and a 1/4 bottle of Merlot.

Salads Picnic – A Selection of various seasonal salads with Fresh Arbutus Brown Yeast Bread. Joe Hegarty’s Chocolate Cake. A 1/4 bottle of Merlot.

Febvre who sponsor Slow food Ireland had supplied a bottle of Merlot or Sauvignon for each picnic.

Civilised people squabbled over the delicious Glen Ilen cheesecakes.

My smoked fish picnic included a piece of Wild Ummera smoked salmon (a Slow Food Presidia food), a fillet of Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel and a chunk of succulent smoked eel. There were two generous slices of Arbutus bread, a little pat of Glen Ilen butter and a bottle of Merlot . A further rummage in my bag revealed a Victoria plum and a little golden Mirelle plum – a feast. My daughter was tucking into the local farmhouse cheese picnic.

For those of you who are interested in the Slow Food ethos, log into Slow Food Ireland website www.slowfoodireland.com or Slow Food International. www.slowfood.com

You’ll read all about the huge Slow Food Fair in Turin in October. This biannual event is the biggest artisan Food and Wine Fair in the world. It is held in the Lingotto building in Turin, which was the old Fiat factory. www.slowfood.it

This year Slow Food will bring 5,000 farmers, gardeners and artisan food producers together for an event called the Terra Madre. The aim is to link up people from all over the globe so they can share their knowledge and discuss how to overcome obstacles and deal with the ever increasing burden of regulations, many of which are totally disproportionate to the risk involved.

There is a contingent of 80 people going from Ireland including representatives from the following Food Communities – Irish raw cow’s milk cheese makers, Kerry Cow Breeders, Dublin food producers and distributors, Kilrush Farmers market, Irish bakers, Irish Seedsavers, Irish Smoked Wild Atlantic Salmon, Temple Bar Food Market, North Kerry organic farmers, Cork food community, Dublin food community, Ballymaloe food community, Galway food community, Organic Growers and Breeders from the West of Ireland, GM-free Ireland network, Tipperary food community. For more details contact Fiona Corbett Fiona@sheridanscheesemongers.com

The Salone del Gusto is open to the public, last time over 138,000 people (half of them from outside Italy) visited during 5 day period and 21,000 visited the Taste Workshops.

It is a truly amazing event for food lovers with a multitude of tastings of everything from cured meats, smoked fish, farmhouse cheese, olive oils, balsamic vinegar, chocolate, pickles, heirloom varieties, rare breeds, breads, biscuits, cakes and of course wonderful wine – a feast for the senses. If you haven’t already taken a holiday this summer perhaps you might want to combine a trip to Piedmont an area famed for its food and strong gutsy wines, eg Barola and Barbaresca, with a visit to the Salone del Gusto, the biggest artisan food fair.

For information on your nearest Slow Food Convivium telephone 023 52977 or email: info@slowfoodireland.com

Apple, Walnut and Cinnamon Tart

A yummy pud to share with family and friends. Pecans and hazelnuts are also delicious.

Serves 8-10

8oz (225g) self raising flour
½ teasp. baking powder
3oz (75g) butter
5oz (150g) castor sugar
freshly grated zest from ½ lemon or lime
1 free range egg
5 fl.ozs (150ml) milk

Topping:

18ozs (500g) cooking apples – we use Grenadier or Bramley Seedling
1oz (25g) butter, melted
1oz (25g) chopped walnuts or pecans
2oz (50g) granulated sugar
1 teasp. freshly ground cinnamon
1 rectangular tin 30x20x2.5cm (12x8x1 inch)

Line the tin with parchment paper (Bakewell)
Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas 4

Sieve the flour and baking powder in a wide bowl, cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour. Rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the castor sugar and freshly grated lemon or lime rind.

Whisk the egg and milk together. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the liquid and mix well with a wooden spoon. The mixture should be soft and smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and spread evenly.

Brush the top with melted butter, arrange the apple slices in overlapping layers. Sprinkle the roughly chopped walnuts or pecans evenly over the top. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar and sprinkle evenly over the entire surface.
Bake for 40 minutes approx. or until puffed and golden. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.
Serve with softly whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Variations; substitute mixed spice for cinnamon.

Apple Amber Tart

This is one of the delicious apple puddings that our mothers used to make.
Serves 6

Short Crust Pastry made with
4 ozs (110g) plain white flour
2-3 ozs (55-85g) butter
pinch of salt
cold water

Filling
3 or 4 cooking apples, Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
grated rind of half a lemon
sugar to sweeten
1 oz (30g) butter
2 egg yolks
Meringue
2 egg whites
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar
Enamel or pyrex plate 8 inch (20.5cm) diameter.
Preheat the oven to 200F (100C/gas ½)

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way, line the tart plate and bake blind. 

Peel, core and slice the apples. Put them into a saucepan with the butter and grated rind of lemon and cook until reduced to a pulp. Beat until smooth with a wooden spoon.
Cream the yolks of eggs and sugar, pour the apple mixture on to them, mix well and pour into the pastry case.
Beat the whites of eggs until stiff, fold in the castor sugar and pile roughly on top of the apple mixture. Put into a cool oven until the meringue is set and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. 

Penne with Tomatoes, West Cork Chorizo and Desmond Cheese

Serves 6
1lb (450g) penne
7 pints (4 litres) water
1 tablesp. salt
8 ozs (225g) Gubbeen Chorizo or Frank Krawczyk’s West Cork salami
1 oz (30g) butter
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
12 lb (675g) fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 inch (1cm) dice or 12 tins tomatoes, chopped
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
Pinch of crushed chillies
8 fl ozs (230 ml) light cream
2 tablespoons flat parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons freshly grated Desmond or Gabriel cheese 
Lots of snipped flat parsley

Bring 7 pints (4L) of water to the boil in a large saucepan over a high heat. 

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the chopped rosemary and diced tomatoes. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cook until the tomatoes have just begun to soften into a sauce, about 5 minutes approx. 
When the water for the pasta is boiling fast, add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Stir well.
Slice the chorizo sausage or salami into ¼ inch rounds, add to the pan with the crushed chillies, season lightly with salt (be careful not to overdo the salt as the sausage may be somewhat salty). Add the cream and chopped parsley, cook, stirring frequently until the cream has reduced by about half. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked (it should be 'al dente'), drain and toss with the sauce, add the grated Parmesan. Toss again, check the seasoning. Sprinkle with flat parsley and serve at once. 

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Pate

This is a perfect way to use up some left over cooked salmon the texture of this pate should resemble that of pork rillettes, coarse and stringy, not smooth.
Serves 8

30g (1oz) butter 
28ml (2fl oz) water
170g (6oz) freshly cooked salmon
170g (6oz) smoked salmon
170g (6oz) softened butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
clarified butter – see below

Melt 30g (1oz) butter in a small saucepan, add the smoked salmon and 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it no longer looks opaque. Allow it to get quite cold.
Cream the butter in a bowl. With two forks, shred the fresh and smoked salmon and mix well together. Add to the soft butter still using a fork (do not use a food processor). Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Taste and add freshly squeezed lemon juice as necessary.
Serve in individual pots or in a pottery terrine. Cover with a layer of clarified butter. Serve with hot toast or hot crusty white bread. 

Note: This pate will keep perfectly in the refrigerator for 5 or 6 days provided it are sealed with clarified butter.

Clarified Butter

Melt 8 ozs (225g) butter gently in a saucepan or in the oven. Allow it to stand for a few minutes, then spoon the crusty white layer of salt particles off the top of the melted butter. Underneath this crust there is clear liquid butter which is called clarified butter. The milky liquid at the bottom can be discarded or used in a white sauce.
Clarified butter is excellent for cooking because it can withstand a higher temperature when the salt and milk particles are removed. It will keep covered in a refrigerator for several weeks.

Baked Raspberry and Passion Fruit Cheesecake

Base
2 egg whites
4 oz (110g) granulated sugar
7 oz (200g) desiccated coconut

Filling

8 oz (225g) mascarpone
8 oz (225g) ricotta cheese
4 fluid oz (120ml) crème fraiche
3 eggs, preferably free range
7 oz (200g) castor sugar
1 heaped tablespoon corn flour mixed with 2 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
8 oz (225g) raspberries
3-5 passion fruit

9" springform cake tin

Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/ regulo 3

To make the Base

Lightly oil the base and sides of the springform tin with a little sunflower oil. Cut out a disc of silicone paper to line the base of the tin. Place the egg whites, sugar and coconut into a bowl and mix well together to combine. Press the mixture into the oiled and lined springform tin. Bake in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes until lightly golden on the top. Allow to cool.

To make the Filling

Either using an electrical mixer or preferably a food processor, combine the mascarpone, ricotta, crème fraiche, eggs, castor sugar, corn flour (and water), lemon rind and lemon juice. Mix or process the filling for a few seconds until smooth. 
Remove the pulp from the passion fruit and stir through the cheesecake mixture with half of the raspberries. Pour the mixture into the springform tin and scatter the remaining raspberries on top. Bake in a preheated oven for approximately 45-50 minutes. The cheesecake should be set around the outside but should still be slightly wobbly in the centre. Allow to cool in the tin, and then refrigerate until the cheesecake is completely cold and set – preferably overnight. Carefully remove from the tin and serve with softly whipped cream.

Baked Blueberry Cheesecake
This cheesecake is also utterly “yummy” using blueberries. Leave out the passion fruit and raspberries. Follow previous method using 8-10 oz blueberries.

Foolproof Food

Blackberry and Apple Fool
Serves 4-5 approx.

11-17 ozs (310-475g) blackberries
9 ozs (225g) very dry apple puree
4 ozs (110g) sugar
8 fl ozs (250ml) softly whipped cream

Make a dry puree by cooking apples in 1 or 2 tablespoons of water on a low heat. Liquidise or sieve and sweeten to taste while still hot. Puree raw blackberries and add them with the softly whipped cream to the apple puree.

Hot Tips

Every Step Counts – Small Changes Make the Difference – Launch of national public awareness campaign to tackle the issues of overweight and obesity in Ireland the Health Promotion Unit. www.healthysteps.ie  www.healthpromotion.ie  
To coincide with this campaign both the Irish Heart Foundation and Bord Bia are running healthy eating campaigns during September and October.

Open Apple Day on Saturday 25th September and Organic Food Fair on Sunday 26th at the Organic Centre, Rosinver, Co Leitrim - www.theorganiccentre.ie  
Tel 071-98 54338

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group – Next meeting Thursday 30th September at 7.30pm, Crawford Gallery Café - Food, Gardening and Nature for the Next Generation – through our schools – Speakers include – Mark Boyden of Streamscapes, Marion O’Callaghan, primary school teacher.

Youghal Through the Ages – Heritage Week - September 25-October 3rd - Programme will include An Open Air Market at Barry’s Lane in Youghal town at 10.00am on Saturday 2nd October. Tel 024-20170 – Youghal Chamber of Tourism and Commerce, tourism@youghalchamber.ie  www.youghalchamber.ie

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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