The School on Tour

This is the time of year when our Autumn Certificate class head off on their ‘school tour’. We are almost half way through the 12 week course, with a lively group made up of seven different nationalities. Much of the food they cook with comes directly from the school farm and gardens, or from local producers. Some smoke fish, or make wonderful farmhouse cheese, others rear free range chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. The students have huge respect and admiration for these food heroes. They also appreciate the passion and sheer hard work it takes to provide these quality ingredients.

While I was assisting Philip Dennhardt in our ‘How to Cure a Pig in a Day’ course Rory O’Connell headed off at the crack of dawn with a bus full of sleepy students.

By the time they drove over the Vee Gap to Clogheen in Co Tipperary, they were wide awake and looking forward to the first stop at cheesemakers Anne and Dick Keating’s farm. Baylough is a hard territorial type cheese, hand made from cow’s milk. Up to last year the Keatings had their own herd, but they now buy in milk from the top class Friesian herd of Jim O’Leary of Ballybacon in Ardfinnan. This means they have more time to devote to cheese-making. Recently they have developed Baylough Select, this is a more mature cheddar type cheese wrapped in muslin in the traditional time-honoured way. Dick gave me a month old piece to taste recently and I was blown away by the flavour, I’m not surprised to hear that Anne can scarcely keep up with demand. The students arrived just in time to see the curd being cut. Anne and Dick explained the cheese-making process, from the pasture to the mature cheese. They were fascinated and full of admiration for the skill and hard work involved. This is a particularly busy time for the Keatings who also supply cheese for the Christmas hamper market. Despite that,

in his ‘spare time’ Dick manages to make home-made cider and fruit wines which he demonstrated to a class at the school recently.

Next stop – a restaurant that’s really causing a stir in foodie circles, the Old Convent Gourmet Hideaway in Clogheen town. Christine and Dermot Gannon ran Gannon’s restaurant in Cahir, Co Tipperary for 3 busy years. They were longing to move to the country so in Autumn 2005 they bought and began to renovate the old convent in Clogheen. There are seven lovely guest bedrooms. They have quickly built up an enviable reputation for their Tasting Menu of eight courses of modern Irish food, largely locally sourced. Christine explained to the students how they got started in the business and showed them around the Old Convent – the Chapel Dining Room, the Mother Superior’s Room, Goddess Powder Room….. Then they had a delicious Taste of Tipperary tasting lunch- Baylough Cheddar and Celeriac Velouté Shot with Truffle Butter, Ballybrado Organic Pork Salad with Crozier Blue Cheese and Clove Poached Pear with Toasted Pecan Nuts, Tipperary Organic Ice Cream Grasshopper Martini and The Old Convent Organic Chocolate Fondue. This was an invaluable insight into the restaurant business, they are open for dinner from Thursday to Sunday.

Back to Cork then for a tour of the English Market – this is always an endless source of fascination for our students as they go from stall to stall marvelling at the range of delicacies on offer – from traditional tripe and drisheen to the newcomers offering ethnic ingredients, as well as the terrific butchers, poultry suppliers and fish stalls. It’s a treasure on our doorstep – a food market serving the people of Cork. For an insight into the history and lore I recommend ‘Serving a City’ the story of the market written by Diarmuid and Donal O’Drisceoil, published last year.

Last stop was at Frank Hederman’s award-winning Smokehouse at Belvelly near Cobh, where they learned about the craft of smoking fish. Frank smokes delicious wild and organic salmon, mackerel, mussels and eel in the traditional way, they enjoyed a taste of all these delicious goodies.

Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School we are immensely grateful to the farmers and other producers whose hard work enables our students to cook with top quality ingredients.

Baylough Cheese, Clogheen, Co Tipperary, Tel 052-65275, (see Hot Tips for stockists)

The Old Convent Gourmet Hideaway, Clogheen, Co Tipperary, Tel 052-65565 www.theoldconvent.ie  info@theoldconvent.ie 

The English Market, Princes Street and Grand Parade, Cork.

Frank Hederman, Belvelly Smokehouse, Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork, Tel 021-4811089 shipping@frankhederman.com     www.frankhederman.com 

The Old Convent Caribbean Martini

At the Old Convent they serve these cocktails as pre-dessert appetisers, Dermot says the secret is to use the very best ice-cream, he highly recommends Paddy and Joyce O’Keeffe’s Tipperary Organic Ice-Cream and good quality vanilla pods are essential. You can vary the ice-cream flavour and the liqueur according to your taste, eg you could use Malibu, Crème de Menthe…… Don’t know what Mother Superior would say!
Makes 4

2 scoops Tipperary Organic Banana and Cinnamon Ice-cream
8 fl.ozs (225ml) cold milk
1 vanilla pod
Couple of shots of Galliano liqueur – to taste
To serve: 4 Martini glasses.

Frost the martini glasses by dipping the rims in lemon juice and then in coloured sugar.

Put the ice-cream into a blender.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the cold milk to make vanilla milk, then pour into the blender.
Add the liqueur. 
Whizz all together until blended. Taste and add more milk or liqueur according to how strong you like it. 
Serve immediately.

Toasted Prawns with Baylough Select Cheese

With a bag of prawns in the freezer, you are never stuck for a quick meal. This recipe combines defrosted prawns, with melted cheese, bacon and spring onions, to make a very tasty snack.
Serves 3-4

1oz (25g) butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
4ozs (110g) mild bacon (back rashers), cut into strips
8oz (225g) prawns
2 dessertspoons lemon juice
Pinch of salt
½ teasp. Cayenne pepper

Sauce:
¼ pint (150ml) cream
2oz (50g) Baylough Select cheese

Melt the butter in a pan, add the chopped bacon, saute for 2 minutes, add the garlic and spring onions and cook for a further couple of minutes, do not allow the garlic and spring onion to burn. Add the defrosted prawns, sprinkle with lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for a few minutes, until the prawns are no longer translucent. 

Add the cream and cheese to the pan. Heat until melted, then transfer to a lightly buttered ovenproof serving dish. Flash under a very hot grill under bubbling and golden. Serve hot with slices of wholemeal bread and a green salad.

Baked Suir Salmon and Smoked Baylough Cheese Pie

This recipe was devised by Linda Lynch of St Ailbe’s Vocational School, Tipperary Town who came first in Tipperary Schools Cooking Competition.
Serves 4

18oz (500g) fresh salmon fillet
9fl.oz (250ml) chicken stock
9fl.oz (250ml) cream
Salt, black pepper
3oz (75g) diced onion
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
18oz (500g) mashed potato
8 spring onions, chopped
3oz (75g) Smoked Baylough Cheese (or other smoked cheddar if you can’t get Baylough)

Cut the salmon into large dice and poach for 15 minutes in the stock and cream that has been seasoned.
Remove from the stock and place in the bottom of a medium sized pie dish.
Sprinkle on the diced onion and arrange the sliced hard-boiled egg on top.
Reduce the cooking liquor by one-third and pour this into the pie dish.
Mix the spring onions and in with the mashed potato and spread evenly over the top of the pie dish.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 160C/325F/gas 3. Remove and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. Replace in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Some menu ideas from Frank Hederman.

Smoked Mussels:
Pasta with Smoked Mussels and Roast Red Peppers 
Per person allow approx.
100g (3½ oz) pasta 
Half red pepper
5-6 mussels – they are very rich so that should be plenty

Frank suggests adding cooking some fresh egg pasta like tagliatelle, add roast red pepper and smoked mussels. There is no need to cook the mussels, they will heat through in the steam of the cooked pasta.

Smoked Eel:
Try them with crisp green bacon on dressed baby spinach leaves 
With celeriac and potato mash and crisp bacon on a warm vinaigrette-dressed potato salad

Smoked Mackerel:
With a salad or ripe cherry tomatoes 
In a fresh buttered batch bread sandwich

Smoked Salmon:
Frank thinks that his wild smoked salmon is best unadorned without even lemon or black pepper – but of course you can use it in your favourite recipe –

With savoury buttermilk pancakes, or boxty or potato cakes – with crème fraiche and chopped chives 
On poached egg crostini with buttery spinach and hollandaise 
Or on a platter of Frank Hederman Smoked Seafood

Foolproof Food

Winter Vegetable and Bean Soup with Spicy Sausage

Just the thing for the cooler days - We make huge pots of this in the Winter, I usually keep some in the freezer. Kabanossi is a thin sausage now widely available, it gives a gutsy slightly smoky flavour to the soup which although satisfying is by no means essential.
Serves 8-9 

225g (8ozs) rindless streaky bacon, cut into ¼ inch (5mm) lardons
2 tablespoons olive oil
225g (8ozs) onions, chopped
300g (10½ozs) carrot, cut into ¼ inch (5mm) dice
215g (7½ozs) celery, chopped into ¼ inch (5mm) dice
125g (4½ozs) parsnips, chopped into ¼ inch (5mm) dice
200g (7ozs) white part of 1 leek, ¼ inch (5mm) slices thick approx. 
1 Kabanossi sausage,* cut into one-eight inch (3mm) thin slices
400g (1 x 14ozs) tin of tomatoes
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
1.7L (3 pints) homemade chicken stock, 
225g (8ozs) haricot beans, cooked * (see below)

Garnish
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) parsley, freshly chopped 

Blanch, the chunky bacon lardons, refresh and dry well. Prepare the vegetables. Put the olive oil in a saucepan, add bacon and saute over a medium heat until it becomes crisp and golden, add the chopped onion, carrots and celery. Cover and sweat for five minutes, next add the parsnip and finely sliced leeks. Cover and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Slice the Kabanossi sausage thinly, and add. Chop the tomatoes and add to the rest of the vegetables and the beans. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar, add the chicken stock. Allow to cook until all the vegetables are tender, 20 minutes approx. Taste and correct the seasoning. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with lots of crusty brown bread.

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, strain the beans and cover with fresh cold water, add a bouquet garni, carrot and onion, cover and simmer until the beans are soft but not mushy – anything from 30-60 minutes. Just before the end of cooking, add salt. Remove the bouquet garni and vegetables and discard.

Book of the Week

Nigel Slater’s books – Real Cooking, Real Fast Food, The 30-minute Cook and Real Fast Puddings have all been refreshed and will be published by Penguin next week. 
From the delicious and nourishing recipes and suggestions in Real Food, to the inspiring collection of quick and mouth-watering desserts in Real Fast Puddings, freshness, simplicity and flavour permeate throughout.
Here is a delicious recipe from Real Fast Puddings –

Croissants with Hot Apples and Crème Fraîche

Minute for minute, probably the most delicious fast pudding in the book.
For 2

30g/1oz butter
1 large dessert (eating) apple
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 large flaky croissants
3 tablespoons crème fraîche

Melt the butter in shallow pan. Halve and core the apple and cut into about ten segments. Cook the apple in the butter till tender, turning once to cook the other side, then add the sugar and cook over a high heat till the mixture caramelizes.

Warm the croissants under the grill, split each one in half, and sandwich together with the crème fraîche and some of the hot apple slices.
Spoon over any remaining buttery sauce, and replace the top halves. Eat while still hot.

Hot tips 

Baylough Cheese is available at Country Choice, Nenagh, McCambridge’s, Galway, On the Pig’s Back, English Market, Cork, Urru Foods, Bandon and Mallow, Hudsons Whole Foods, Ballydehob, West Cork. Super Valu, Poppyfield, Clonmel, and various Farmers Markets countrywide.

Helena Chocolates represents Ireland in international chocolate championships 
Dirk Schonkeren of Mayo-based Helena Chocolates, who is a Master Chocolatier, was the first competitor ever invited from Ireland to take part in the World Chocolate Masters, he didn’t win but it was a fantastic competition -“The Chocolate Oscars” is the light-hearted description of this event, but as Dirk explains it’s not something to take lightly at all, “It was a huge honour to be selected to represent Ireland”. Dirk, who is originally from Belgium, set up Helena Chocolates twenty years ago, manufacturing in Ballyvary, Co. Mayo, and selling through his shop in Castlebar and selected outlets countrywide. Tel: 094 9031270 Email: chocolates@anu.ie 

Red Stables Market, St Anne’s Park, Raheny, Dublin 5
Red Stables Art & Craft and Food Market is held every Saturday from 10-5. From Sunday 29th October an Arts & Craft Market will be held every Sunday from 10-5 and a special Christmas Market will take place each Sunday from from November 26th and on 3,10 & 17 December. Full details from redstables@gmail.com Or 086-805 5082