ArchiveAugust 2005

Midleton Food Fair

“Way over our expectations”, “professionally managed and organised”, “a resounding success” were some of the responses made by the stallholders after the inaugural Midleton Food and Drink Festival in September 2004.
The hard working organising committee headed up by Sean Woodgate were delighted with the response, 20,000 people poured into Midleton over the weekend to taste what became known as the Feast of the East. The festival was sponsored by “Jameson Irish Whiskey” and “Dart”. The latter is an abbreviation for Developing Active regions of sustainable tourism is a project commissioned under the European Intemreg IIL programme – the Irish porters are E-CAD 1.

Spurred on by last year’s success, a bigger and ever better festival is planned. Retailers, hoteliers, publicans and entertainers are pooling their talents to provide a memorable experience for all ages, - it will be a real family event. Lots of fun for the children, face painting, mime jugglers, acrobats, stilt walkers, balloon artists, puppet shows and circus workshops. There will be kiddies cooking classes in Midleton Park Hotel, great music from the Midleton Brass bands – a wonderful Irish rural tradition that we can be so proud of. Midleton Comhaltas and String Quartet will also be delighting the visitors. 

This year there will be over 60 stalls selling everything from roast suckling pig to local and Thai band crafts. Midleton Farmers market will be out in force selling local food so bring a few large shopping bags so you can fill them brimful with delicious local food. 

Midleton Food and Drinks Festival, Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2005. For further details see www.eastcorktourism.com/midleton

Dan Aherne’s Traditional Roast Stuffed Organic Chicken

Dan’s chickens take 12 weeks to reach maturity. They are fed on organic feed and range freely on his farm in Dungouney, East Cork. Every Thursday and Saturday, customers queue at his stalls in Mahon Point and Midleton to by the flavourful chickens.
Serves 6

4½ - 5 lbs (1.5 - 2.3kg) free range organic chicken preferably with giblets

Stock
Giblets (keep the liver for a chicken liver pate), and wishbone
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 stick celery
A few parsley stalks and a sprig of thyme

Stuffing
12 ozs (45g/3 tablesp.) butter
3 ozs (85g/: cup) chopped onion
3-32 ozs (85-100g/12-1: cups) soft white breadcrumbs
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) finely chopped fresh herbs eg. parsley, lemon thyme, chives and annual marjoram
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little soft butter

Garnish
Sprigs of flat parsley

First remove the wishbone from the neck end of the chicken, this isn't at all essential but it does make carving much easier later on. Tuck the wing tips underneath the chicken to make a neat shape. Put the wishbone, giblets, carrot, onions, celery and herbs into a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, skin and simmer gently while the chicken is roasting.

Next make the stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, 10 minutes approx. then stir in the crumbs, herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half fill with
cold stuffing. Season the breast and legs, smear with a little soft butter. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo4. Weight the chicken and allow about 20 minutes to the lb and 20
minutes over. Baste a couple of times during the cooking with the buttery juices. The chicken is done when the juices are running clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear. Remove the chicken to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy. To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. Deglaze the pan juices with the fat free stock from the giblets and bones (you will need :-1 pint depending on the size of the chicken). Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat.

If possible serve the chicken on a nice carving dish surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and some sprigs of flat parsley then arm yourself with a sharp knife and bring it to the table. Carve as best you can and ignore rude remarks if you are still practicing but do try to organise it so that each person gets some brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and bread sauce.

Willie Scannells Gratin of Potato and Wild Mushrooms

Willie is famous for the flowery potatoes grown on his farm overlooking Ballyandreen in East Cork. He too has a cult following at the midleton farmers market.
Serves 6

If you have a few wild mushrooms eg. chantrelles or field mushrooms, mix them with ordinary mushrooms for this gratin. If you can find flat mushroom, all the better, one way or the other the gratin will still be delectable.

1 ½ lb (700g) 'old' potatoes, eg. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
2 lb (225g/4 cups) mushrooms, cultivated mushrooms, or a mixture of cultivated mushrooms, brown mushrooms, oyster mushrooms and shitake
butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pint (300ml/13 cups) light cream
3 tablesp. (4 American tablesp.) grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano), or Irish mature Cheddar cheese

Ovenproof gratin dish 10 inch (25.5cm) x 82 inch (21.5cm)

Slice the mushrooms. Peel the potatoes and slice thinly. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the potato slices to the boiling water. As soon as the water returns to the boil, drain the potatoes. Refresh under cold water. Drain again and arrange on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel. 

Grease a shallow gratin dish generously with butter and sprinkle the garlic over it. Arrange half the potatoes in the bottom of the dish, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with the sliced mushrooms. Season again and finish off with a final layer of overlapping potatoes. 

Bring the cream almost to boiling point and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for ½ an hour approx. at 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, until the gratin becomes crisp and golden brown with the cream bubbling up around the edges. 

This gratin is terrifically good with a pangrilled lamb chop or a piece of steak.

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Thyme Leaf Soufflé
Local goat cheese makers Jane Murphy sell a range of 8 or 10 cheeses made from the sweet milk of their 400 goats on their farm outside Carrigtwohill in East Cork.

Serves 6

In season: year round

We bake this soufflé until golden and puffy in a shallow oval dish instead of the traditional soufflé 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 eggs free range organic, separated
110g (4oz) crumbled goat cheese, we 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

30cm (12 inch) shallow oval dish (not a soufflé dish) or 6 individual wide soup bowls with a rim

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/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.

Siobhan Barry’s Rainbow Chard

Serves 4
Siobhan and David Barry grow a huge range of vegetables on their farm in Ballintubard including some unusual and exotic varieties. Look out for them at the Midleton Food and Wine Fair and the Mahon Farmers Market every week.

There are several ways of using Swiss or Ruby chard stalks including tossing them in Vinaigrette or olive oil and lemon juice or serving them in a Mornay sauce however this way is particularly delicious and also works well with Florence fennell and courgettes which have been blanched, refreshed and sliced first. Intersperse the courgettes with a few leaves of basil if you have them to hand.

1 lb (450g) ruby chard
Butter or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the chard in cold water, drain. Pull off the leaves and slice the stalks into pieces about 1 inch (2.5cm) long. Cook the stalks in boiling salted water until almost tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the leaves, toss and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the leaves are wilted. Drain very well. Toss in extra virgin olive oil, season with lots of freshly ground pepper and serve immediately.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall has a unique selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval. They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.
Serves 4

8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey
3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves

Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the oil and honey together and add 'torn' basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. Taste, correct seasoning if necessary. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.

Foolproof Food

Frank Hederman’s Smoked Salmon Pate

Frank sells smoked wild, organic and farmed salmon, wild – smoked mussels, eels, mackerel, haddock and sprats etc. Frank sells a selection of his products at his stall in Midleton and Mahon Point every Saturday and Thursday.
This is a delicious way to use up smoked salmon trimmings.

Smoked salmon trimmings
Softened butter, unsalted

Remove any skin or bones from the fish. Weigh the flesh. Add three quarters the weight in butter. Blend to a smooth puree. Fill into pots and run clarified butter over the top. Alternatively, mould in a loaf tin. Turn out and cut in slices when set.

Hot Tips 

Bia 2 – Second Irish food studies symposium
This will take place at Sligo and the Irish Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim on 22-23 September as part of the Green Festival North West – see www.thegreenfestival.com
Bia is all about the study of food. It attracts a broad range of people who share an interest in food – sociologists, restaurateurs, historians, chefs, anthropologists, vegetable growers, retailers, journalists, food safety experts – anyone who is passionate about food and eating, and in understanding more. To book, contact Perry Share or Oliver Moore, bia2, Dept of Humanities, Institute of Technology, Sligo. Tel 071-9155340, share.perry@itsligo.ie  

Growing Awareness Farm Walk on Sunday 28th August at Doire Dubh (Black Oak Trees) Coomhola, Bantry.
Graham Strouts has a small Permaculture plot on 4 acres with native tree nursery, orchard and fruit bushes, young plantings of coppice species, yurts and a reciprocal-framed cordwood roadhouse. Situated about 8 miles north of Bantry the land descends in a series of natural terraces to the Coomhola river. Contact Graham Strouts on 027 66931
www.growingawareness.org  

The Bretzel Bakery in Dublin’s South Richmond Street has been in operation since the 1870’s.
It inspires love and loyalty in the hearts of Dubliners and is still known as the Jewish bakery and even though the Kosher certificate is no longer there, the tradition and quality remains. The recipes and the sitting room sized double-decked brick oven have not changed much in the past 100 years. The bakery was in the ownership of various Jewish families until the 1960’s when Christe Hackettt took it over from Ida Stein, however it remained strictly Kosher until the mid 1990’s, it was under the custodianship of the Hackett family until the end of the century when ill-health forced a sale. A new century – a new owner, William Despard stepped in to revitalize this institution which is the Bretzel Bakery. Its history parallels the history of the Jewish community in Dublin. The streets stretching from Portobello to Clanbrassil Street were once the heartland of a vibrant Jewish community – now a museum at Richmond Hill and the Bretzel are the only lingering Jewish landmarks.

Catherine and Vincent ‘Donovan’s roadside stall on the main Cork to Innishannon road about a mile from the Halfway Roundabout sell sweet juicy sweet corn. They are open every day and hope to have sweet corn for the next month or so, if you would like to order some for the freezer ring Vincent on 087 2486031.

Food lovers should make a note in their diaries for the Cork Slow Food Weekend, 23rd -25th September 2005. Event organiser Clodagh McKenna has scheduled a meeting for volunteers at the Bodgea on the Coal Quay in Cork on Tuesday 30th August at 7.00pm. All are welcome.

A Glut in the Garden

For vegetable gardeners this is the season of both delight and frustration. Delight at the abundance in the garden and frustration at not being able to use it all quickly enough. Visitors get given baskets of beautiful fresh produce.
In Spring it’s so easy to get carried away. It’s tempting to sow a whole packet of lettuce seed forgetting they will all develop into soft frilly or crunchy heads at exactly the same time. There’s a limit to how many salads one can eat no matter how delicious they are yet when you lovingly grow vegetables and fruit its heartbreaking to see even a little go to waste, so here are some delicious ways to use up the surplus. 
 
Wilted lettuce with lots of fresh herbs is a really yummy way to use up a glut. Simply wash, dry and roughly slice the lettuce – you’ll need 4 reasonable size heads for 4 people because like spinach it dissolves in the cooking. Minutes before you are ready to eat, just heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a wok or frying pan over a high flame, toss in the shredded lettuce. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and continue to toss over the highest heat. The lettuce will exude lots of liquid, keep tossing for 2 or 3 minutes, add 3 or 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped herbs e.g. mint, tarragon. Taste and correct the seasoning and serve in a hot dish. 

You can also ring the changes in many delicious ways – a good pinch of chilli flakes in the olive oil adds plenty of excitement. Freshly roasted and crushed of coriander seeds and a fistful of flat parsley is also delicious. The latter also makes a luxurious puree if there is more than can be reasonably used. Parsley pesto is also good, and parsley and potato soup is another favourite. 

Remember that all herbs and vegetables are at their best for eating before they go to seed. They become coarse in texture and bitter in flavour as they put their energy into ensuring the continuation of the species.

As a gardener it’s fun to allow a few plants to flower and run to seed, they change shape, elongate and look wonderfully dramatic in the garden. The reality is it’s devilishly difficult to predict how much to grow. As a gardener we need to come to terms with the fact that there is always likely to be a little more than we can comfortably use or share with friends. The great thing is not to fuss but to look on a glut as an opportunity to bulk up the compost heap which will enrich the fertility of the soil to grow even better vegetables next year – so there’s really no need to feel any quiet pangs.

Beans of all shapes and sizes can of course be frozen. They’re best blanched and refreshed first which is horribly time consuming and fills one with resentment on sunny Summer days. Why not allow the beans to mature, the seeds will enlarge and fill the pods. They can be eaten as shell beans in the Autumn. Alternatively allow the beans to dry and then shell and store them for Winter stews and casseroles – a delectable source of guilt-free protein. Later in the Autumn I’ll provide some delicious recipes to utilise dried beans and pulses.

Pickled Beetroot and Onion Salad

Serves 5-6
1 lb (450g) cooked beetroot (see above)
8 ozs (225g) sugar
16 fl ozs (475ml) water
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
8 fl ozs (250ml) white wine vinegar

Dissolve the sugar in water, bringing it to the boil. Add the sliced onion and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the vinegar, pour over the peeled sliced beet and leave to cool.
Note: The onion can be omitted if desired.

Roast Beetroot with Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar
Serves 4

6-12 baby beetroot, a mixture of red, golden and Clioggia would be wonderful
Maldon Sea Salt
Freshly cracked pepper
Extra Virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
170g (6oz) goat cheese -Ardsallagh or St. Tola
Rocket and beetroot leaves
Wild garlic leaves if available

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8

Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through – 30mins to an hour depending on size.

To serve:
Rub off the skins of the beetroot, keep whole or cut into quarters. Toss in extra virgin olive oil.
Scatter a few rocket and tiny beetroot leaves on each serving plate. Arrange a selection of warm beetroot on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Put a dessert spoonful of goat cheese beside the beetroot. Sprinkle with Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with tiny beet greens or wild garlic flowers and serve.

Piccalilli

- from Good Housekeeping Complete Book of Home Preserving
3kg (6lb) mixed marrow, cucumber, beans, small onions and cauliflower (prepared weight- see method)
375g (12oz) salt
275g (9oz) granulated sugar
15ml (1 level tablesp.) mustard powder
7.5ml (1½ level teasp.) ground ginger
2 garlic cloves, skinned and crushed
1.5 L (2½ pints) distilled vinegar
50g (2oz) plain flour
30ml (2 level tablesp.) turmeric


Seed the marrow and finely dice the marrow and cucumber. Top, tail and slice the beans, skin and halve the onions and break the cauliflower into small florets. Layer the vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkling each layer with salt. Ad 3.6 litres (6 pints) water, cover and leave for 24 hours.
The next day, remove the vegetables and rinse and drain them well. Blend the sugar, mustard, ginger and garlic with 1 litre (2 pints) of the vinegar in a large pan. Add the vegetables, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still crisp. Blend the flour and turmeric with the remaining vinegar and stir into the cooked vegetables. Bring to the boil and cook for 2 minutes. Spoon into pre-heated jars and cover immediately with airtight and vinegar-proof tops.

Lettuce and Mint Soup

Serves 6 approx.
Fresh mint is more fragrant in Summer than in Winter, so it may be necessary to use more towards the end of the season. Use the outside lettuce leaves for soup and the tender inside for green salads, great if all your lettuce comes together in the garden. It can be frozen for use later.

55g (2oz) butter
140g (5oz) peeled, diced onions
170g (6oz) peeled, diced potatoes
1 teaspoon salt approx.
Freshly ground pepper
170g (6oz) chopped lettuce leaves - stalks removed
900ml-1.2L (12-2 pint) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons freshly chopped mint
1 tablespoon cream (optional)

55g (2oz) softly whipped cream
2 teaspoons of chopped mint

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are soft. Meanwhile remove the stalks from the lettuce, chop finely, add the lettuce and boil with the lid off for about 4-5 minutes, until the lettuce is cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Add the mint and cream if using, liquidise.
Serve in warm bowls garnished with a blob of whipped cream and a little freshly chopped mint.
Tip: Freshly chopped dill is also great with lettuce.

Tomato Puree
Note: Tomato Puree is one of the very best ways of preserving the flavour of ripe summer tomatoes for Winter however whole tomatoes also freeze brilliantly if you have room in your freezing cabinet. Use for soups, stews, casseroles etc.
2 lbs (900g) very ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
Good pinch of salt 
A few twists of black pepper

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and put into a stainless steel saucepan with the onion, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cook on a gentle heat until the tomatoes are soft (no water is needed). Put through the fine blade of the mouli-legume or a nylon sieve.
Allow to get cold, refrigerate or freeze.

Tomato Fondue

Tomato fondue is one of our great convertibles, it has a number of uses, we serve it as a vegetable or a sauce for pasta, filling for omelettes, topping for pizza.
Serves 6 approximately 

115g (4ozs) sliced onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed 
1 tablespoon extra virgin 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, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram 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 herbs. Cook uncovered for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens. Cook fresh tomatoes for a shorter time to preserve the lively fresh flavour. Tinned tomatoes need to be cooked for longer depending on whether one wants to use the fondue as a vegetable, sauce or filling. Note: A few drops of Balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking greatly enhances the flavour.

Tomato Fondue with Chilli
Add 1 - 2 chopped fresh chilli to the onions when sweating.

Tomato Fondue with Kabanossi 
Add 1 – 2 sliced Kabanossi to the tomato fondue five minutes before the end of cooking, great with pasta.

Pesto

Home made Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy. The problem is getting enough basil. If you have difficulty, use parsley, a mixture of parsley and mint or parsley and coriander - different but still delicious.
Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzerella.

4ozs(115g) fresh basil leaves
6 – 8 fl ozs (175 - 250ml) extra virgin olive oil
1oz(25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2ozs(55g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)
Salt to taste

Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar. Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season. 

Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don't add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

Mint and Parsley Pesto
Substitute 2 ozs (55g) fresh mint and 2 ozs (55g) parsley for the basil in the above recipe.

Pea, Bean and Courgette Soup

This soup is made according to our basic soup formula 1,3,5, - 1 cup onion, 1 cup potato, 3 cups of any vegetable of your choice (which season) and 5 cups stock, so other delicious combinations can be used depending on what you have in your garden, larder or fridge.
Serves 6

12-2 ozs (45-55g) butter
6 ozs (170g) potatoes, chopped
5 ozs (140g) onions, peeled and diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pints (1.1L) stock, chicken or vegetable
4 ozs (110g) French beans, chopped
5 ozs (140g) courgettes, chopped, cut into 3 inch (5mm) dice
5 ozs (140g) peas
Creamy milk, optional

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, when it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated in butter. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil, and cook until the potatoes are soft. Add the French beans, cook for 5 minutes, then add the courgettes, cook for a further 5 minutes, lastly add the peas and cook for no more than 2 minutes, (keep the lid off the pot while the green vegetables are cooking to preserve the colour).
Liquidise, until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If necessary, the soup can be thinned to the desired consistency by adding a little creamy milk, extra stock or even water.
Note: If reheating a green soup remember to keep the lid off, just bring to the boil and serve immediately, prolonged simmering will spoil the fresh colour and flavour.

Red Currant Jelly

Red currant jelly is a very delicious and versatile product to have in your larder. It has a myriad of uses. It can be used like a jam on bread or scones, or served as an accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon or ham. It is also good with some rough pâtés and game, and is invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts.
This recipe is a particular favourite of mine, not only because it's fast to make and results in delicious intensely flavoured jelly, but because one can use the left over pulp to make a fruit tart, so one gets double value from the red currants. Unlike most other fruit jelly, no water is needed in this recipe.
We’ve used frozen fruits for this recipe also, stir over the heat until the sugar dissolves, proceeds as below.

Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) jars

2 lbs (900g) red currants
2 lbs (900g) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the red currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the red currants and sugar into a wide stainless steel saucepan and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully.
Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through, do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp.
Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Foolproof Food
How to cook Beetroot
Leave 2 inch (5cm) of leaf stalks on top and the whole root on the beet. Hold it under a running tap and wash off the mud with the palms of your hands, so that you don't damage the skin; otherwise the beetroot will bleed during cooking. Cover with cold water and add a little salt and sugar. Cover the pot, bring to the boil and simmer on top, or in an oven, for 1-2 hours depending on size. Beetroot are usually cooked if the skin rubs off easily and if they dent when pressed with a finger. If in doubt test with a skewer or the tip of a knife.
Hot Tips 

Keelings Peppers –
Keelings the long established family vegetable, fruit, salads and flowers firm in North Co Dublin have opened a new pepper facility which will create 50 jobs and will be a major source of Irish peppers during the spring, summer and autumn, giving Irish consumers the choice of buying Irish grown peppers which will be on the shelves within a day of harvesting. Up to this year 95% of peppers were imported.
Peppers are an excellent form of Vitamin C when eaten raw. Red and yellow peppers contain almost as much Vitamin C as oranges. Peppers are high in antioxidants which are associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disorders, cataracts and cancers.

AstroPuppees ‘Sugar Beat’
Singer-songwriter-producer Kelley Ryan’s fourth album ‘Sugar Beat’ will be released on 26th August and to celebrate the release Kelley will do a live gig at the Blackbird in Ballycotton on Friday September 2nd at 9pm. Kelley fell in love with Ireland and particularly with ‘The People’s Republic of Cork’ during her time attending the 3 month Cookery Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School some years ago. In addition to the cookery classes she found time to compose songs for the first AstroPuppees album as well as play at local pubs. She now divides her time between Co Cork and Los Angeles and is as much at home in the kitchen as the recording studio.

Foods Matter 
Foods Matter is a monthly subscription magazine which supports anyone on a restricted diet – food allertics, coeliacs, diabetics, IBS sufferers, depressives, children with ADHD hyperactivity disorder ….. it reviews new products, devises ‘everything free’ recipes, reports on research, runs a help line – for more information or a free copy of Foods Matter call 00 44 20 7722 2866 and speak to Laura or Michelle or check in www.foodsmatter.com 

Bravo to Fields Supermarket in Skibbereen for highlighting local produce in their vegetable section, other local supermarkets and shops please follow.

Preserving is Tremendous Fun

A few weeks ago I ran a course here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School called ‘How to keep a few chickens in the garden’, it was totally over-subscribed – I was thrilled because keeping hens has been one of my great passions ever since I was a child. Later in the year in October we have a course called ‘Everything but the Squeal’ with Frank Krawczyk, Frank will show how to use every bit of a pig – making brawn, pates, salamis, sausages, kassler, dry cured smoked bacon – even how to construct your own simple home smoker.
I’ve also had a request for a course on bee-keeping, how to rear a few turkeys for Christmas, how to make butter, simple cheese, how to grow a few simple vegetables – suddenly there seems to be a craving to learn forgotten skills which is music to my ears. I’ve always felt that we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater in our headlong rush to forget the hard times and embrace modernity. Now that we are a bit more prosperous we’re determined to show the neighbours that we can afford to buy anything we like and don’t have to grow it or make it ourselves.
Well – guess what arrived on my desk this week – a book entitled ‘Preserved’ by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton with a foreword by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which is completely perfect for those of us who are becoming more and more disenchanted with the quality of mass-produced food and who are craving slow foods, cooked or preserved in the time-honoured way.
We are unquestionably witnessing a backlash against additive-heavy, mass-produced foods. Home-preserving – whether smoking, drying, salting, fermenting or infusing – is a hugely satisfying and often surprisingly simple process that enables you to prepare food just the way you like it, enjoying the fuller flavour that results from traditional techniques. For example, many shop-bought ‘smoked’ meats have merely been infused with ‘liquid smoke’, a process that undermines their rich taste. As more of us seek greater involvement with our food in the garden and the kitchen, a new generation is being seduced by modern interpretations of the age-old methods that produce the most delicious and rewarding results. Above all, preserving is tremendous fun. 
This book combines a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to the techniques of home-preserving with lots of exciting recipes to showcase the results, Preserved includes international favourites such as biltong, pickled eggs, herbes de provence and pancetta as well as familiar delicacies: smoked salmon, kippers, sloe gin and exquisite jams. Regaling us with anecdotes from the history of preserving – the practice among American World War II pilots of tying cartons of the ingredients to their planes to make ice cream, for example – Nick and Johnny show how to build your own smokehouse, bottle fruit in alcohol, dry herbs and cure ham. Preserving is alchemy. It is about transforming food, creating dishes that you will enjoy not only because they are cheaper and more flavoursome than shop-bought products, but because you will have crafted them to your own palate. It is also – as Nick and Johnny’s families will testify – addictive: once you have tasted your own efforts, you will be increasingly reluctant to return to inferior, mass-produced food.
Here are some of the many recipes from the book.

Goose Rillettes from ‘Preserved’
Rillettes consist of seasoned meat slowly cooked in fat, then teased apart and preserved in it.
1 goose, weighing around 4kg (9lb)
800g (1¾ lb) pork shoulder, boned
600g (1¼ lb) pork belly fat
3 bay leaves
3 thyme branches
8 black peppercorns
salt
6 juniper berries

Remove the skin from the goose. De-bone the bird, then cut the meat into chunks, reserving any fat you come across.
Mince together the pork shoulder, belly fat and goose fat.
Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy-based pan. Cook slowly 3 hours with the lid on, stirring occasionally. Don’t let the mixture stick. If it starts to, add a drop or two of water.
The goose meat will eventually start to fall apart. You can hasten the process by teasing it with a fork.
Sterilise some pots*. Take out the goose meat with a slotted spoon and press it down firmly into them. Pour the remaining fat on top, cover and leave to set in the fridge.
Serve with warm French bread and cheap rosé wine. The rillettes will keep for at least 2 weeks in the fridge.
*To sterilise the pots:
To sterilise jars or bottles, wash them in soapy water, rinse thoroughly, then immerse them in boiling water for 10 minutes before drying in a cool or recently switched-off oven. Ditto lids, seals and funnels if using. 

Dried Tomatoes

In recent times, sun- and semi-dried tomatoes have become indispensable to cooks wherever they happen to live. But unless you can reliably predict several days of breezy weather with low humidity and daytime temperatures in excess of 32C/90F, which is roughly never where we live, you’ll have to fall back on other options.
The chief options are using a dehydrator, a low oven with the door ajar or your home-made drying box. An ingenious alternative is to place a rack of tomatoes on the shelf under your car’s rear window on a hot day.

Fully dried tomatoes
Drying times will vary according to the size of your tomatoes, but as a rule of thumb, 15 hours in a low oven or 30 in a drying box is about right. However, tomatoes in any given batch will not dry at exactly the same rate, so you need to remove them individually as they become ready. This when they are firm but no longer juicy.
Whichever method you use, you have two main choices. The first is to cut the tomatoes in half and lay them face up on a fine-meshed rack, sprinkling a few grains of sea salt on each face. The second is to dry them intact on the vine. This involves lying the tomatoes on a similar rack, vine stalk down, before cutting a small cross in the top of each and filling it with a pinch of salt.
Once dried, tomatoes can be stored at ambient temperatures in sealable containers for up to 6 months. Before use, they will need to be rehydrated by soaking in warm water for half an hour. They should always be cooked before they are eaten.

Semi-dried tomatoes

As the name suggests, semi-dried tomatoes are removed from the source of heat half way through the drying process. They are then packed into sterilised pots which are filled with olive oil. These will keep in the fridge for up to 6 months. They are moist and more than good enough to incorporate in stews, sandwiches and sauces without further ado. We’ve achieved our best results using various varieties of cherry tomatoes.

Candied Peel
Candying can transform things you wouldn’t normally want to eat – in this case sour orange peel – into luxurious delights. Try dipping one end of the finished peel in molten dark chocolate and the other in granulated sugar.
One of ingredients here is glucose syrup. Its function here is to give the candied orange peel lustre and to prevent is surfaces from hardening.

1kg (2¼lb) navel orange skin* (this equates to 4-5kg (9-11lb) whole oranges)
1.8kg (4lb) caster sugar
200g (7oz) glucose syrup


*Try to get hold of unwaxed oranges. To skin them, cut into quarters and gently peel away the flesh. Alternatively peel them whole and use the fruit to make ‘Oranges in Brandy’.
Cut the skin into strips and simmer them in water for about 30 minutes until soft. Drain the strips, then place them in a saucepan along with 1kg (2½lb) of the sugar.
Cover with water so that none of the peel is protruding, then simmer for half an hour. Remove the syrup from the heat and leave it to cool with the saucepan lid on.
Next day, remove the strips of peel with a slotted spoon, then add a further 200g (7oz) sugar to the syrup and heat it to boiling point, making sure that all the ‘new’ sugar dissolves. Remove the syrup from the heat and replace the peel. Then leave the pan to cool for another 24 hours, again with its lid on.
Repeat the process three more times, adding 200g (7oz) of sugar to the syrup on each occasion until you have used it all up. On the fifth day you add the glucose syrup instead. Bring to the boil as before, then pour over the peel.
Leave the peel covered for 24 hours, then remove it and lay it out on greaseproof paper. Allow to dry for 24-48 hours until all moisture has disappeared but the peel is still soft.
Dip in granulated sugar and store between layers of greaseproof paper in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Candied Orange Segments
You can also candy entire orange segments in this way, with the skin still attached to the flesh. Proceed exactly as above, simmering the segments for a time before combining them with sugar. When ready, they are wonderful dipped in chocolate.

Bresaola

Bresaola is soft, salted and air-dried beef eaten raw. The original and best examples hail from the Valtellina mountains on the borders of Italy and Switzerland. Cut into thin, succulent , almost translucent ruby-red slices and served with olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan, bresaola is one of the classic Italian starters.
To make bresaola.

1 large lean top rump (around 2kg/4½lb) tied tight with string
500ml (18fl.oz) red wine (eg Chianti)
2 teaspoons ground red chilli powder
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 bay leaves, shredded
750g (1lb 10oz) coarse salt
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
10 sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
10 sprigs of thyme, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons sugar

enough muslin to wrap the beef
red wine vinegar, for washing

Place the beef in a large Tupperware container and cover it with all the ingredients bar the muslin and vinegar. Massage them well in. Leave the meat to marinate in the fridge for 1 week, turning it over every day to ensure an even distribution of marinade.
After this period, brush the marinade off the beef and wrap it in muslin. Hang it in a dry, cool place for 1 month. It will drip for a day or two, so take appropriate measures to protect your floor.
The bresaola has matured when it feels firm to the touch. Once it is ready, wash it down with red wine vinegar, then dry it with a cloth. Store in the fridge, preferably in a container, for up to 1 month.

Salt Pork

Salt pork is usually made from pork belly and often from the fattier portions thereof. It can be either dry-cured or brined. We prefer the dry-curing method, and here’s how we do it.
To make salt pork

Take 5kg (1l lb) of pork belly and cut it into strips of about 1 kg (2¼lb)
Trim off the bones and make regular incisions in the skin. 
Get hold of a wooden box and sprinkle a layer of sea salt at the bottom.
Lay a single layer of pork on top, cover it with salt and massage it in a little. Repeat the process until all the pork is covered with salt, leaving a layer of salt on the top.
Place a lid on the box and leave in a cool place for 4 weeks. The juices will run from the base of the box as the salt draws them out by osmosis, so you will want to place a suitable receptacle underneath to catch them.
Every few days check to see that the pork is well covered with salt. If it isn’t, don’t be shy about adding some more.
When you remove the pork from the box, wipe it down with a cloth, then wrap it in muslin or in a paper bag and hang it in cool, dark, airy place. It will keep for years, though it will become harder as time goes by. You may want to halt the hardening process by transferring the pork to an airtight container and placing it in the fridge after a month or two.
If it is very hard, salt pork needs to be soaked before you cook with it. You may want to soak or at least rinse it thoroughly anyway, as it is unsurprisingly on the salty side.
Salt pork is delicious chopped up into small pieces and fried until crispy. It goes very well with rice, peas and salt cod
Foolproof Food

Righteous Raspberry Lollies

- from Preserved
These lollies contain no dairy products or refined sugar. You can suck on them with a clear conscience and allow your children to do the same.
300g (10½oz) raspberries
200g (7oz) clear honey
juice of 1 medium lemon
lolly moulds (available in catering shops and department stores)
ice-cream sticks*

*You can buy these in catering shops, alternatively, use wooden kebab skewers cut to size.
Heat the raspberries in a saucepan with the honey and lemon juice until the mixture comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and mash with a potato masher.
Pass the mixture through a vegetable mill or conical sieve to get rid of the pips.
Leave it to cool, then pour into the lolly moulds. Insert the lolly sticks, then freeze.
 
Hot Tips

Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, has just been published by Kyle Cathie Ltd, London. www.kylecathie.ie 
The Authors – Nick Sandler likes to cook while climbing, and unbelievably while playing the piano. A development chef, he comes up with new concepts in food and how to process and preserve them for retail customers such as delis and supermarkets.
Johnny Acton is an entrepreneurial writer/journalist whose career has included driving a mini-cab and writing obituaries for The Times. Johnny and Nick have co-written two previous books for Kyle Cathie Ltd – Soup and Mushroom.

Ballyknocken House and Cookery School, Glenealy, Ashford, Co Wicklow
Set in the beautiful ‘Garden of Ireland’ a charming Victorian Farmhouse famed for its country house cooking - is owned by our past pupil Catherine Fulvio – Catherine reached the top 20 finalists of AA Landlady of the Year for Britain and Ireland of out of over 4,500 B&B owners and also won the Wicklow Porridge Making Championship 2005 - Congratulations! www.ballyknocken.com  Tel 0404 44627 email:cfulvio@ballyknocken.com 

Mna na Mara – early in 2003 Mna na Mara announced their intention to develop a coastal network of women in fishing and farming communities. They held their first of many events last April in Kilmore Quay with a cookery demonstration by former BIM staff member Phena O’Boyle, the evening was supported by BIM. The purpose of the evening was to bring women of the community together to progress their ideas – their objectives demonstrate a clear commitment to the preservation of traditional values while at the same time advancing technology and infrastructure in their localities. Details of forthcoming events will be published in the local press in different areas.


RELAY – research for the food industry is based in the Dairy Products Research Centre in Moorepark, Fermoy, Co Cork. It provides access to the research information and facilitates contact between the researcher and industry. For further information on any of the research products you can contact RELAY on 025-42321 or logon to www.relayresearch.ie  Relay is a national inter-institutional research dissemination project funded by FIRM through the Dept of Agriculture and Food under the National Development Plan.

Delicious Summer Salads

As soon as the weather gets warmer my craving for summer salads begins. The vegetable garden and greenhouse are bursting with fresh ripe produce begging to be harvested. We’ve had lots of broad beans, my absolutely favourite summer vegetable. The fresh peas never made it into the kitchen, we ate them all off the plants. The globe artichokes have now gone past their best for eating but the ones that survived my greed are now bursting into flower resembling giant blue and purple thistles.
Even though we have tempting recipes for every season summer is definitely the best time for salads – both vegetables and fruit are bursting with sunny flavour.
Salads have come a long way since my childish concept of lettuce, tomato, hardboiled egg, beetroot and maybe a few scallions. I still love that simple combination, particularly when served with the old-fashioned salad dressing, a gem of a recipe which was passed down in our family from Lydia Strangman, a Quaker lady who lived in the house in the 1900’s. 
Nowadays virtually anything can go into a salad, crisp and crunchy ripe juicy fruit, a myriad of salad leaves, Asian greens, fresh herbs of every colour and hue, edible flowers embellish a salad, rose petals, chive and zucchini blossoms, scarlet runners, violas all add magic. Tasty morsels of meat, fish – either fresh or smoked, make delicious additions. Shellfish are also irresistible.
Spices are a feature of many of our salads, particularly in winter and the components can be a combination of fresh and cooked, as with a potato salad. At this stage the salad has become such a varied and exciting concept that in the hands of a creative cook it almost defies definition. As ever, a salad is only as good as the sum of its parts and the quality of the ingredients is crucial to the wow factor of the finished dish.
Really good extra virgin olive oil and wine vinegar is an essential dressing for many salads, a good homemade mayonnaise is another asset. The latter takes less than 5 minutes to make by hand and the homemade variety raises a salad onto a new plain. Here are a few suggestions to tempt the tastebuds.

Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad
Serves 8
450g (1lb) vermicelli noodles or fine rice noodles

Dressing

110ml (4fl oz) soy sauce
50ml (2fl oz) rice or cider vinegar
50ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
1 thinly sliced red chilli
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar or palm sugar

48 shrimps or 32 prawns, cooked and peeled
1 small organic cucumber
8 spring onion, sliced at a long angle
10g (1/2 oz) fresh coriander
10g (1/2 oz) fresh mint
110g (4ozs) chopped peanuts

Lime wedges

Put the noodles into a bowl. Cover with boiling water for 5-7 minutes or until just tender. Meanwhile make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. 

Drain the noodles well and toss in the dressing while still warm. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a melon baller or a sharp spoon and discard. Cut the cucumber into thin slices at a long angle. Add to the noodles with the prawns, spring onions, whole coriander and mint leaves. Toss well, taste and correct the seasoning. Scatter with chopped peanuts and serve with wedges of lime.

Noodles of all types are a must have for your store cupboard, there are a million delicious salads you can make, they are also great added to soup or as an extra something in spring rolls.

Basmati Rice, Pea, Broad Bean and Dill Salad

225g (½lb) basmati rice
110g(¼lb) peas, shelled
110g(¼ lb) broad beans
4 tablespoons freshly chopped dill

Cook the rice in lots of boiling salted water. Meanwhile cook the peas and broad beans separately in boiling salted water, drain. As soon as the rice is cooked, drain. Put in a wide bowl drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. When cold add the peas and broad beans and freshly chopped dill. Toss, taste and correct the seasoning. 


Summer Salad with a Twist

You can vary this salad with whatever additions you have to hand, using a variety of summer salad leaves and baby spinach as a base.
Serves 8

350-500g (12-18oz) Summer leaves and baby spinach
1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cucumber, peeled and deseeded
6-8 tomatoes, chopped
rind of 1 preserved lemon, chopped, optional
1 handful of flat parsley, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and diced
6 spring onions, chopped
6 radishes, quartered

Verjuice vinaigrette:

3 shallots, peeled and finely diced
15ml (1 tablesp) lemon juice (juice of approx. ½ lemon)
45ml (3 tablesp.) white verjuice
125ml (4 fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablesp. roughly chopped coriander
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the dressing:

Chop the shallots and macerate in lemon juice, verjuice and a good pinch of salt for 5-6 minutes.
Whisk in the olive oil. Add the coriander. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Combine all the salad ingredients except the summer leaves and baby spinach in a serving bowl and toss together lightly. Just before serving add the summer leaves and baby spinach and add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the ingredients. Toss gently. Serve immediately.

Panzanella with Pan-grilled Chicken (Tuscan Bread Salad)

This is the best time of year for making Tuscan Bread Salad, the season of heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil. For this recipe, I use Declan Ryan’s sourdough bread from the Arbutus bakery. Pangrill the chicken breast and add to the salad to make an easy and delicious lunch or supper dish.
Serves 8

3-4 organic chicken breasts (weight 450g/1lb approx.)
olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

450g (1lb) crusty sourdough country bread, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
125ml (4fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
8 ripe tomatoes
1 red onion, roughly chopped
75g (3oz) black olives (weigh stoned)
1 bunch whole basil leaves, torn into ½ inch (1cm) pieces – about 24
2 tablesp. Balsamic vinegar
1 tablesp. white wine vinegar
125ml (4fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper


Coat each side of the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350f/gas 4. 
Put the garlic and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the croutons of bread all at once and toss to coat evenly. Spread the bread on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake until golden, 5-6 minutes.
Return the croutons to the bowl, add the onion, olives and basil leaves. Chop the tomato into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces and add to the salad with all the juices.
Heat a pan grill over a medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts on both sides until the chicken is firm to the touch. Remove to a clean plate and let rest.
Cut the chicken into strips ½ inch (1cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) and add to the salad. Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together, toss to coat the salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Serve as soon as possible.

Smoked Irish Salmon or Gravlax with Thai Cucumber Salad

Serves 8

1-2 small cucumbers
125ml (4fl.oz) sunflower oil
1½ tablesp. nam pla (fish sauce)
50ml (2fl.oz) white wine vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tablesp. Thai sweet chilli sauce

8-16 slices of thinly sliced smoked salmon or gravlax
lime wedges

Slice the cucumbers lengthwise into thin strips with a peeler or cheese slicer. 
Whisk all the ingredients together for the dressing. Pour over the cucumber, toss gently.

To serve:
Arrange 1-2 slices of smoked salmon on a large white plate, put a portion of cucumber salad alongside. Garnish with a segment of lime. Repeat with the remainder.

Chorizo, Potato and Avocado Salad

Serves 4-6
2lb (900g) small potatoes (preferably waxy)
2 ozs (50g) walnut halves
1-2 fresh chorizo (depending on size)
2 fist fulls watercress sprigs or rocket leaves – enough for 4 people
1 Hass avocado 
1 lime

Dressing

2 teaspoons whole grain honey mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes, cook in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Meanwhile make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together (add a little honey if honey mustard is unavailable). 

Heat a frying pan, add a little extra virgin olive oil, add in the walnuts and toss over a gentle heat until roasted and fragrant. Remove to a bowl. Slice the chorizo ⅓" thick and add to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until the oil runs and the chorizo begins to crisp. 

Peel and slice the potatoes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss with a little of the dressing while still warm. Add the chorizo, chorizo oil and walnuts to the potato. Sprinkle a little dressing over the watercress sprigs or rocket leaves. 

Turn onto a wide shallow serving dish. Top with the potato, chorizo mixture. Peel and slice the avocado lengthwise or cube. Toss with a little freshly squeeze lime juice. Add to the salad. Drizzle with dressing, mix and lift gently to combine.

Satay Chicken Salad

Serves 6
The aromatic dressing that coats this moist crunchy salad is also delicious with fish and pork.

4 large handfuls mixed fresh organic salad greens
1 red pepper, quartered, deseeded, and finely sliced at an angle
3 tender stalks celery, thinly sliced at an angle 
2 pan-grilled or poached chicken breasts, skin removed and sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
150g (5oz) French beans, cooked 1-3 minutes in boiling salted water.
75g (3oz) roasted peanuts
2 tablesp. chopped coriander

Satay Dressing:

1 teasp. fresh ginger, finely grated
1 teasp. garlic, crushed
2 tablesp. peanut butter
250ml (8fl.oz) coconut milk
juice and finely grated rind of 1unwaxed lemon (no pith)
1 teasp. red chilli, chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded, (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Pan-grill or poach the chicken breasts, cool and slice.

Put the salad greens, pepper, celery, chicken, spring onions, beans, peanuts and coriander into a large mixing bowl.
Next make the dressing. Simply puree the dressing ingredients until smooth and creamy and toss through salad. Serve at once.

How to poach chicken breast with an Asian flavour. 
Put the chicken breasts in a saute pan so they can sit in a single layer. Cover with light chicken stock or cold water, add 4-5 thin slices fresh ginger, 1 small red chilli or a pinch of chilli flakes, a few black peppercorns, a good pinch of salt and a spring onion. Bring slowly to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the chicken to cool in the cooking liquid.

Baby Spinach, Beetroot and Sesame Salad

Serves 4
Baby spinach leaves (enough for 4 portions)
2 medium beetroot, peeled and cut into fine julienne

Dressing:
2 tablesp. rice vinegar
2 teasp. soy sauce
1 teasp. sesame oil
½ teasp. sugar

1-2 tablesp. toasted sesame seeds

Wash and dry the leaves, cut into strips if large. Peel and cut the beetroot into fine julienne. 
Whisk the ingredients together for the dressing.
Just before serving toss the spinach and beetroot with the dressing, sprinkle with freshly toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Foolproof food

Lydia Strangman’s Salad Dressing

2 hard-boiled eggs

1 level teasp. dry mustard
Pinch of salt
1 tablesp.(15g) dark soft brown sugar
1 tablesp. (15ml) brown malt vinegar
2-4 fl.ozs. (56-130ml) cream

Garnish
Spring Onion
Watercress
Chopped parsley

Hard-boil the eggs for the dressing: bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, boil for 10 minutes (12 if they are very fresh), strain off the hot water and cover with cold water. Peel when cold.

Next make the Dressing. Cut 2 eggs in half, sieve the yolks into a bowl, add the sugar, a pinch of salt and the mustard. Blend in the vinegar and cream. Chop the egg whites and add some to the sauce. Keep the rest to scatter over the salad. Cover the dressing until needed.

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