ArchiveMay 2010

A Berry Nice Treat

I’m not sure why gooseberries haven’t had quite the same revival and surge of popularity in recent times that rhubarb has, but I totally love them.

Everyone should have a couple of gooseberry and black currant bushes in their garden as well as a few rhubarb stools. They are all perennial so once you’ve chosen good varieties and planted them; they will delight you year after year.

In this article I’ll concentrate on green gooseberries, which although later than usual this year are now perfect for tarts, pie, fools and sauces. By a fortuitous coincidence in nature, elderflowers bloom in the hedgerows all over the country just at the time the green gooseberries are best for cooking – mind you it takes an act of faith to pick the green under ripe berries at present they are still hard as hailstone – surely they can’t palatable and trust me, they make the best desserts and are even more delicious if you add a couple of those elderflowers while they are bubbling away in the pot or oven.

Compote of green gooseberries flavoured with these wild blossoms is delicious alone, with carrageen moss pudding or panna cotta. It’s vital that the berries burst in the elderflower flavoured syrup otherwise they will be too tart, so don’t worry about the appearance, it should look like stewed gooseberries This compote is good served warm with rice pudding or chilled and also lasts in the fridge for a week or more.

Green gooseberry sauce (really just stewed gooseberries) makes a delicious alternative to Bramley apple sauce with roast pork and the combination of grilled mackerel with green gooseberry sauce is a marriage made in heaven.

These tart green gooseberries also make the most delicious jam but there is just a brief window of opportunity to make this each year because the berries swell and sweeten by the day.

The old fashioned gooseberry sponge pudding is as yummy as ever it was; you might want to serve it with a big jug of Birds custard for old times sake but I have to say a drizzle of Jersey cream also makes it into a feast.

The best early variety is Careless but it’s also worth planting a few dessert gooseberries like Invicta, Sulphur and Black Velvet to enjoy when they are plump and ripe in June. Meanwhile rush to your garden or to your local Farmers Market and enjoy the green gooseberries in every way possible while they are in season.

Pan Grilled Mackerel with Green Gooseberry Sauce

 

 

This is a master recipe for pan grilling fish.

The simplest and possibly the most delicious way to cook really fresh mackerel. Use the tart hard green gooseberries on the bushes at the moment, they make a delicious sauce.

 

 

Serves 1 or 2

 

2-4 fillets of very fresh mackerel (allow 6 ozs (170g) fish for main course, 3 ozs (85g) for a starter)

seasoned flour

small knob of butter

 

First make the green gooseberry sauce.

 

Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with some gooseberry sauce.

 

 

Green Gooseberry Sauce

 

 

10 ozs (285g) fresh green gooseberries

stock syrup to cover (see below) – 6 fl.ozs (175 ml) approx.

a knob of butter (optional)

 

Top and tail the gooseberries, put into a stainless steel saucepan, barely cover with stock syrup, bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit bursts. Taste. Stir in a small knob of butter if you like but it is very good without it.

 

Stock Syrup

 

4 fl ozs (120ml) water

4 ozs (110g) sugar

 

Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil together for 2 minutes. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator until needed. Stock syrup can also be used for sorbets, fruit salads or as a sweetener in homemade lemonades.

 

 

Gooseberry Sponge Pudding

 

Serves 4-6

 

1lbs (450g) green gooseberries

1 tablesp. water

3-4 ozs (85-110g) approx. sugar

 

For the Topping

 

2 ozs (55g) butter

2 ozs (55g) sugar

1 beaten egg, preferably free range

3 ozs (85g) self raising flour, sieved

1-2 tablesp. milk

 

1 pie dish 1½ pint (900m) capacity

 

Set the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.

Top and tail the gooseberries and put them in a heavy saucepan with the water and sugar, cover. Stew them gently until just soft, them tip into a buttered pie dish.

Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg by degrees and beat well until completely incorporated. Sieve the flour and fold into the butter and egg mixture. Add about 1 tablespoon milk or enough to bring the mixture to dropping consistency. Spread this mixture gently over the apple.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponge mixture is firm to the touch in the centre. Sprinkle with castor sugar. Serve warm with home made custard or lightly whipped cream.

This comforting dessert – sometimes called Eve’s Pudding – can also be made with rhubarb, cooking apples or a mixture of blackberry and apples or rhubarb and strawberries.

 

Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote

When the elderflowers come into bloom, then I know it’s time to pick green gooseberries. They feel as hard as hailstones, but for cooking it’s the perfect time. Enlist the help of little ones to top and tail the elderflowers.

 

900g (2lb) green gooseberries

2 or 3 elderflower heads

600ml (1 pint) cold water

450g (1lb) sugar

First, top and tail the gooseberries.

Tie the elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put the bag in a stainless-steel or enameled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the

boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold.

Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.

Elderflower and Green Gooseberry Jam

Makes 6 x 450g (1 lb) pots

In season: late spring

The gooseberries should be tart and green and hard as hail stones – as soon as the

elderflowers are in bloom in the hedgerows search for the gooseberries under the prickly bushes or seek them out in your local greengrocer or farmers market.

1.6kg (3 ½ lb) green gooseberries

5-6 elderflower heads

600ml (1pint) water

1.57kg (3½ lb) sugar

Wash the gooseberries if necessary. Top and tail them and put into a wide stainless steel preserving pan with the water and elderflowers tied in muslin. Simmer until the gooseberries are soft and the contents of the pan are reduced by one third, approx. 2 hour. Remove the elderflowers and add the warm sugar, stirring until it has completely dissolved. Boil rapidly for about 10 minutes until setting point is reached (220F on a jam thermometer). Pour into hot clean jars, cover and store in a dry airy cupboard.

This jam should be a fresh colour, so be careful not to overcook it.

Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool

Serves 6 approx.

450g (1lb) gooseberries

3-4 elderflower heads, tied in muslin

225g (8ozs) sugar

300ml (1/2 pint) water

whipped cream

As the Summer goes on and the gooseberries mature, less sugar is needed for this fool.

Barely cover the green gooseberries with the elderflower heads tied in muslin with the stock syrup.

Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts, about 5 – 6 minutes.

Liquidise, puree or mash the fruit and syrup and measure. When the puree has cooled completely, add 1/3 – 1/2 of its volume of softly whipped cream according to taste.

 

Note:

If you want to make the fool a little less rich, use less cream, and fold in one stiffly beaten egg white instead.Gooseberry Frangipane Tart with Elderflower Cream

Serves 8

200 g (7 oz) plain flour

pinch salt

100 g (3 1/2 oz) butter

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt or water

400 g (14 oz) gooseberries

2 tablespoons sugar

100 g (3 1/2 oz) ground almonds

50 g (2 ozs) caster sugar

2 eggs

Elderflower Cream

600ml (1 pint) cream

2 tablespoons elderflower cordial

To Serve

soft brown sugar

8 inch (20.5cm) tart tin

Preheat the oven to 100°C/215°F/Gas Mark 1/4.

Rub the flour and butter together until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar and the beaten egg. Mix until it comes together. Wrap in cling film and chill.

Line an 8 inch (20.5cm) tart tin with 2/3 of the pastry. Bake blind in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Brush with egg wash (beaten egg with a pinch of salt). Turn up the oven to 175°C/330°F/Gas Mark 3. Add the gooseberries and elderflowers to the tart shell. Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon zest. Roll the leftover pastry and cover the top of the tart. Seal the edges and brush with egg wash – make a hole in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cook in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. Serve with elderflower cream and soft brown sugar.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5.

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl (or the bowl of your food processor). Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Either quickly rub the butter into the flour until it resembles damp breadcrumbs or pulse in the food processor. Stir or briefly pulse the yoghurt into the mixture, until the dough seems to want to cling together. Form into a ball; dust with extra flour if it seems too wet, adding a little extra yoghurt or water if it seems too dry. To avoid shrinkage when the pastry is cooked, cover and leave for 30 minutes before rolling. Butter a 20 cm (8 inch) loose-bottomed flan tin and roll out the pastry to fit. Cover with tinfoil and weight it with rice. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, top and tail the gooseberries and place in a saucepan with the 2 tablespoons of sugar and not quite enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat immediately and cook for 1 minute. Drain the gooseberries and leave to cool. Blitz the ground almonds, butter and caster sugar in a food processor for 1 minute. Add the eggs and pulse briefly until blended. Arrange the gooseberries in the prebaked pastry case pour over the frangipane and bake until the top is firm, risen and golden, checking after 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the collar.

To make the elderflower cream.

Add the elderflower cordial to the cream and whisk lightly, should be very softly whipped.

Serve the tart in wedges with a blob of elderflower cream.

WildFood

Elder Flowers (Sambucus nigra)

The common or black elder grows in profusion around the Irish countryside and is in full bloom at presents. It’s really easy to grow – even a twig pushed into the ground will root. If you have the space, it’s really worth considering so you can have an elderflower tree of your very own. The low growing, bushy tree with it’s greyish-brown bark smells musty and unappealing, but it’s tiny white flower heads, hanging on reddish stems, are transformed on cooking and impart a delicious Muscat-like flavour to syrups, lemonades, cordials, tarts, sorbets, and compotes and more. The fact that elderflower tastes delicious and is so versatile is reason enough to gather it, but it is also known to contain antioxidants and is commonly used in remedies against hay fever, rheumatism and the common cold. The elder tree was traditionally known as the ‘village pharmacy’ and people were reluctant to cut it down. The roots, bark, leaves and berries were all used medicinally and recent studies have shown that elderflowers have the ability to inactivate viruses. We’ve noticed a growing demand for organic elderflowers at our local farmers’ market.

 

 

Hottips

Big excitement at Midleton Farmers Market as today they celebrate their 10th anniversary. Look out for green gooseberries and elderflowers as well as lots of fresh gorgeous local produce, artisan bread, fish, free range pork, farmhouse cheese…Saturdays 9:00am to 1:30pm.

Brown Envelope Seeds are having an open day at their farm in Ardagh, Skibbereen in West Cork on Sunday 6th June with a walk around the farm and a cup of tea. Contact Madeline McKeever 028 38184.

Good reports about O’Carroll’s, beach bar and restaurant in Caherdaniel, Co Kerry. Maria a graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School sources most of her ingredients for the restaurant locally. Lobsters, crab, oysters, mussels and lots of fresh fish come from local fishermen. They also serve really good pizzas, make all their own dressings and sauces and bake fresh bread everyday. O’Carroll’s is nestled in a sub tropical cove, with rare wild flowers and plants that don’t occur anywhere else in Ireland. Open Monday to Sunday 11am to 9pm. 0669475151.

It Will Suit you to a Tea

We love our cuppa in Ireland and are still drinking more tea per head than any other country in the world, sadly nowadays most cups of tea are made from teabags rather than good loose tea which I am totally convinced makes a far superior brew. On a recent trip to Sri Lanka I visited Handunugoda Tea Estate only a few miles from Galle, Mr Gunaratne whose family have been tea planters for 400 years, proudly showed us around.

In 2008 Sri Lanka overtook Kenya as the second most important tea producing nation after India.

Annual production of Ceylon Tea as Sri Lankan tea is called is about 330 million kilograms and enjoys premium prices at the tea auctions in Colombo.

Tea has been grown in Sri Lanka since 1869 shortly after the coffee crop was decimated by disease. The industry employs 3.5 million people and is the largest foreign income earner and the largest employer.

As a cook I am always fascinated to learn how our food is grown. I’m particularly intrigued to learn about foods not grown in our climate so part of my holidays will invariably be spent learning about spices, exotic fruit, street food, wine… depending on the part of the world. Not everyone’s idea of a fun holiday but I find it fascinating. Tea grows in altitudes between 100 and 5000ft. The gardens I visited were at just 100ft (30 meters) and specialised in white tea camillia sevensis. The tea bushes look like a green waist-high lawn. Tea in its natural state grows in the shade so the tea gardens are punctuated by tall Ghrisidia trees which provide shade and attract birds to eat the unwanted insects. Rubber trees grow where tea doesn’t.

The brightly dressed tea pickers were already in the gardens when we arrived, all women, working at lightning speed, expertly plucking the tender leaf tips with their finger tips and flicking them into the basket strapped to their backs. The Tamil Plantation workers are contracted to pick a minimum of 20 kilograms a day and receive a bonus for any extra picked. The tea bushes are pruned to one meter in height every five weeks for ease of picking. The freshly picked leaves are first withered by blowing air through them sometimes on hessian mats or on modern mechanical troughs. The partly dried leaves are then crushed which starts a fermentation process – the skill is to know when to stop this process. The technology and machinery is largely unchanged since the 19th Century, the crusher at Handunugoda Tea Estate had a brass plate Siroco Davidson and Co Ltd Belfast Ireland. www.manorparkrestaurant.co.uk www.peppermintfarm.com 028 31869www.fruithillfarm.com www.cullyandsully.com

The leaves for white tea are not picked but snipped with golden scissors so they are untouched by hand. Mr Gunaratne explained that originally in China the Mandarins insisted that the leaves for white tea were snipped by virgins with gold scissors into a gold bowl. Body sweat contaminates the flavour.

The Mandarins were convinced that white tea had extra attributes. More recently their white tea has been scientifically analysed by SGS The Swiss Company and was found to have 10% to 11% more antioxidants than any other tea and in white tea the caffeine content is very low. It also boosts the body’s immune system and is an anti carcinogenic.

Virtually the entire crop is snapped up by the posh French tea house Mariage Freres. After we walked through the tea gardens, Mr Gunaratne invited us into his bungalow to taste his tea. I inadvertently got brownie points by telling him that we drink leaf and that teabags were banned from our country house hotel restaurant, café and cookery school.

He confirmed what I already knew that teabags are the best thing that ever happened to tea companies. According to Mr Gunaratne, teabags consist of 10% excellent tea, 60% percent neutral tea and 10% is dust. Then there is the paper which is 70% of the cost of the teabag and affects the taste of the tea and according to Mr Gunaratne drinking teabag tea is akin to drinking vintage wine in a paper cup!

Since there was just one type of tea available and it was part of every occasion, every celebration from dawn till dusk – from weddings to funerals, it cheered and comforted. Now tea is the new coffee and specialist cafes are offering not just tea and sympathy but a tea menu with everything from Lapsang Souchong (also called Russian Caravan tea) to Gunpowder tea, silver needle to oolong.

In Morocco you’ll be offered mint tea at every turn in pretty little gold patterned glasses. In India spicy chai refreshes from morning until night, and is the shopkeepers’ favourite bribe to entice you to buy their tempting wares.

Moroccan Mint Tea

Serves 4

2 teaspoons Chinese green tea

4 tablespoons chopped mint, preferably spearmint

900ml (1½pints) water

sugar, to taste

To decorate

4 lemon slices, (optional)

4 small mint sprigs

Heat a teapot with boiling water. Add the tea and mint to the pot. Fill with boiling water. Allow to infuse and stand for 5 minutes.

Pour the tea through a strainer into warmed glasses or small cups. Add sugar to taste (remember, in Morocco tea is supposed to be very sweet) and decorate each glass or cup with a lemon slice, if liked, and a sprig of mint.

Spicy Indian Chai

250ml (9fl oz) full fat milk

2-3 cardamom pods

2.5cm (1inch) piece of cinnamon

3 peppercorns

3 teaspoons loose tea leaves

500ml (18fl oz) boiling water

sugar

Put all the ingredients except the tea leaves and the sugar into a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a couple of minutes. Bring back to the boil, add the tea leaves, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer for 1-2 mins. Turn off the heat and allow the leaves to settle. Serve in tea cups.

Agen Stuffed Prunes with Rosewater Cream

 

This ancient Arab Recipe from the Middle East will change your opinion of prunes – a pretty and delicious dish.

 

Serves 6

 

450g (1 lb) Agen prunes, pitted

Same number of fresh walnut halves

150ml (1/4 pint) tea

300ml (1/2 pint) cream

2 tablespoons castor sugar

1 tablespoon rose blossom water

 

Decoration

a few chopped walnuts

rose petals – optional

 

We’ve experimented with taking out the stones from both soaked and dry prunes, unsoaked worked best. Use a small knife to cut out the stones and then stuff each with half a walnut. Arrange in a single layer in a sauté pan. Cover with hot tea. Put the lid on the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add more liquid if they become a little dry. They should be plump and soft. Lift them gently onto a serving plate in a single layer and let them cool. .

 

Whip the cream to soft peaks; add the castor sugar and rose blossom water. Spoon blobs over the prunes and chill well. Just before serving sprinkle with rose petals and a few chopped walnuts.

 

Just before serving, scatter a few chopped walnuts over each blob of cream, sprinkle with rose petals and serve well chilled.

 

This dessert tastes even better next day.

 

Irish Tea Barmbrack

This is a more modern version of barmbrack, now commonly called a ‘tea brack’ because the dried fruit is soaked in tea overnight to plump it up (rather than boiled as in the recipes above).

Even though it is a very rich bread, in Ireland it is traditionally served sliced and buttered.

Yields about 12 slices (eat the crusts, too!)

110g (4oz) sultanas

110g (4oz) raisins

110g (4oz) currants

50g (2oz) natural glace cherries, halved or quartered

300ml (10fl oz) hot tea

1 organic egg, whisked

200g (7oz) soft brown sugar

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon mixed spice

50g (2oz) homemade candied peel (see recipe)

450g (1lb) loaf tin – 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in) OR 3 small loaf tins 15 x 7.5cm (6 x 3in)

Put the dried fruit and cherries into a bowl. Cover with hot tea and leave to plump up overnight.

Next day

, line the loaf tin with silicone paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Add the whisked egg, soft brown sugar, flour and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well. Put the mixture into the lined loaf tin.

Cook in for about 1 1/2hours or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Keeps very well in an airtight tin.

Homemade Candied Peel

Fruit should be organic if possible, otherwise scrub the peel well.

5 organic unwaxed oranges

5 organic unwaxed lemons

5 organic unwaxed grapefruit (or all of one fruit)

water

1 teaspoon salt

3 lbs (1.35kg) sugar

Cut the fruit in half and squeeze out the juice. Reserve the juice for another use, perhaps homemade lemonade. Put the peel into a large bowl (not aluminium), add salt and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 24 hours. Next day throw away the soaking water, put the peel in a saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil cover and simmer very gently until the peel is soft, 3 hours approx. Remove the peel and discard the water. Scrape out any remaining flesh and membranes from inside the cut fruit, leaving the white pith and rind intact. (You could do the next step next day if that was more convenient).

Slice the peel into nice long strips. Alternatively cut each half in half.

Dissolve the sugar in 1 1/4 pints (750ml) water, bring it to the boil, add the peel and simmer gently until it looks translucent, 30 – 60 minutes and the syrup forms a thread when the last drop falls off a metal spoon. Remove the peel with a slotted spoon, fill the candied peel into sterilised glass jars and pour the syrup over, cover and store in a cold place or in a fridge. It should keep for 6-8 weeks or longer under refrigeration.

Alternatively spread on a baking tray or trays and allow to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour to cool. Toss in castor sugar and store in covered glass jars until needed.

 

Wildfood

Wild garlic has been used in Ireland as a condiment or as part of a relish since earliest times. In the heyday of many large Irish estates it was apparently quite common to plant it on the edges of woodland and pasture. In late spring when the cattle and sheep were put out to grass after the long winter indoors, the garlic was thought to have a beneficial effect on them.

There are two types, Wild garlic (Allium ursinum), which grows in shady places along the banks of streams and in undisturbed mossy woodland, and Snowbells (Allium triquetrum), these resemble white bluebells and usually grow along the sides of country lanes. Hurry the season is almost over, its delicious in salad, pasta, sauces, soups, stews and this yummy pesto.

Wild Garlic Pesto

2oz (50g) wild garlic leaves (Allium ursinum or Allium triquetrum)

1oz (25g) pinenuts

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

6-8 fl ozs (170-225ml) olive oil

1½ oz (40g) freshly grated Parmesan, (Parmigiano Reggiano)

salt and sugar to taste

 

Whizz the wild garlic leaves, pine kernels, garlic and olive oil 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. Store in a sterilized covered jar in the fridge.

 

Note:

Clean the top and sides of the jar each time you dip in. Cover with a layer of extra virgin olive oil and the lid of the jar. 

 

Hottips

On a recent trip to Armagh I had a delicious dinner at Manor Park Restaurant, known as ‘The French Restaurant’ to the locals.

Head chef James Neilly – who trained with Paul Rankin – takes classical French recipes and reinvents them using local produce. He was recently awarded Irish Best Restaurants 2010 awards, Best Restaurant for County Armagh. 0044 (0) 28 37 515535

Those of you who have caught the grow-your-own bug should know about Peppermint Farm and Garden in Toughraheen near Bantry. They grow an extensive range of herbs, organic vegetable and flower plants including some extremely rare varieties. Their plants are healthy and robust and can be purchased by mail order catalogue or direct from Bantry, Schull or Skibbereen Farmers Markets.

Fruithill Farm in West Cork stocks a range of utensils, tools and equipment suitable for small holders and small scale production. They also have a range of organic fertilizers and organic seed potatoes. All their products are available by mailorder. Contact them on 027 50710 or

Cully and Sully have done it again – they have just launched a range of delicious new puddings. Their chocolate, toffee and lemon sponges are made in small batches with ingredients you would normally have in your own kitchen. They come in handy little packs for two – just heat and eat with a dollop of fresh cream. You could make a meal of it and get one of their award winning tasty soups, pies or hot pots too and take the night off. Cully’s Mobile Number is 086 6076030 Sully’s Mobile Number is 086 6058471

Join Philip Dennhardt – of ‘Saturday Pizzas’ fame – for his class in making the perfect pizza – Friday 28th May 2010 at 2:00pm at Ballymaloe Cookery School – 021 4646785.

Capital Choices from London

At last, restaurants are reporting an increased appetite for eating out; perhaps those green shoots really are sprouting. I’ve had several requests from readers for an update on the London food scene. Lots of good things are happening over there – despite the cautious atmosphere, many young people are ‘chomping at the bit’ to open cafes, restaurants and gastro pubs. There’s also a new semi underground movement that’s gathering momentum. ‘Pop-up’ restaurants and Secret Suppers are spreading ‘virally’. Word of their location spreads among friends through Facebook, Twitter and by text. There are lots of variations but it works something like this, young cooks and chefs who often can’t afford to open a restaurant, find a vacant premises, maybe a daytime restaurant that’s closed in evening or a rowing club premises or even a warehouse. They decide on a menu, or a theme, send word to their circle of friends who pass it onto friends of friends. Each guest pays a set price and usually brings their own wine. The idea is spreading like wildfire, and many already have a cult following. Stevie Parle lives on a barge on the River Thames and was one of the first young chefs to have a ‘moveable kitchen’. Stevie did a 12 week course here at Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2002 with Clodagh McKenna and Thomasina Miers of Wahaca fame. They were all totally passionate about food. Stevie went on to work with Sam Clarke at Moro, the River Café with Rose Grey and Ruth Rodgers and then onto Petersham Nurseries to work with Skye Gyngell. A stint with April Bloomfield at the Spotted Dog in New York followed – all of these restaurants are on my ‘favourite list’

Stevie soaked up their words of wisdom and philosophy, travelled and cooked and experimented and organised many ‘pop-up’ dinners. His fan base grew and grew and now at last he’s in an ‘immoveable kitchen’, a great space next door to furniture designer Tom Dixon in what used to be the Virgin Headquarters in Portobello Dock hence the name The Dock Kitchen. A class mate Lughan Carr came from Petersham Nursery Café to work with Stevie. I had lunch there just before Easter and I loved it. When I arrived Lughan was boning a milk-fed kid for dinner, outside fresh herbs were growing, fenugreek, borage, sage…in an old builder’s bag and there was a tiny vegetable garden in a great big furniture crate. Stevie was inside the open kitchen preparing some beautiful Agretti or Barbe de Fratti. It is a type of sea weed called ‘monks beard’ that I’d never tasted before, so Stevie explained how to cook it – just boil for a couple of minutes, drain and then toss in extra virgin olive oil, he served it with a generous grating of bottargo, it was exquisite. I followed that little feast with the first of this years broad beans from the Scilly Isles with cous cous, cumin, coriander and seasoned yoghurt – also totally delicious.

For main course I chose the juicy Suffolk Spring lamb chops with smoked green wheat, turnip leaves and tahini sauce – an inspired combination. For pudding I had to make another impossible choice between roasted almond ice-cream, plum jam and hazelnut tart or a piece of Folores from the Portuguese Bakery but I passed all of that up and chose a new seasons Alphonso mango from Maharashtra with a blob of fresh yoghurt. Altogether the best lunch I’d had for a many a long day. At present Dock Kitchen is open Tuesday to Saturday for lunch and Wednesday to Saturday for secret suppers.

A few other finds on the London café scene. The coffee everyone is talking about is from Square Mile coffee roasters in Hackney, this is the coffee served by Flat White Espresso on Berwick Street in Soho, a tiny café run by a couple of New Zealanders, tiny but great.

Leila’s Café and Shop on Calvert Avenue in Bethnal Green is another high street gem, simple timber tables, open kitchen and black boards – the butter is in enamel pie dishes, the sugar in white pudding bowls. They serve great toast and jam, Robert Wilson’s teas and a short seasonal menu – I loved the fried eggs with sage. Then there’s the beautiful old fashioned grocery shop next door slate tables, huge galvanise containers for rice and beans and old crates full of freshly picked organic vegetables and herbs.

Cocomaya on Connaught Street in Paddington was also charming, stacks of gorgeous wee buns, brownies, cute little short bread bunnies and chicks with pastel icing and irresistible éclairs. Teeny poppy seed cakes with lemon icing drizzled and flower petals sprinkled over the tops, choccie mousse confections, single muffins in cellophane bags, good bread, little quiches, honey cakes…

There is just one table to enjoy the treat of your choice and a cup of coffee in the brilliantly bling gold cups and saucers.

My favourite new discovery is Towpath, the teeniest café you can imagine, owned by Italian-American food writer Lori di Mori and her photographer husband Jason Lowe. It’s at the end of Regent Canal and is literally four and half feet deep with a seat by the wall covered with hessian sacks as cushions and just a few carefully chosen treats on the menu. Already the toasted Montgomery Cheddar cheese and spring onion sandwich on bread from St John Bakery has become a legend, as has Cappezanna Olive Oil Cake.

Lori doesn’t do take-away coffee so punters have an excuse to sit a while to watch the dab chicks and swans glide by. As I sat there, a river barge puttered by and the captain shouted out a compliment to Lori ‘great frittata we had at lunch time today!’

Towpath is open from 8am for breakfast, people queue up for pinhead oatmeal porridge and homemade granola. Another little gem, I can’t imagine how people find it but it’s worth the effort.

Stevie Parle from Dock Kitchen’s new book My Kitchen – Real Food from Near and Far will be published by Quadrille early July. Stevie kindly gave us a sneak preview with these delicious recipes.

Cous Cous with Broad Beans

Serves 4

Try to pick your broad beans when they are small and tender, do not peel off the skin unless they have grown too large. Often raw beans are smashed in a pestle and mortar with a little garlic, mint, basil, pecorino, olive oil and lemon juice – an excellent antipasto on bruschetta with crudo ham.

Different broad beans deserve different treatment. The first of the season’s beans should be eaten raw, even with the pods, and then as the novelty wears off and the skins thicken other dishes can be tried. Large end-of-season beans can be slow-cooked with milk and sage as they do in Italy (the milk softens the tough skins) or with off-cuts of strong ham or sausage as they do in Spain. One of the best dishes is the Roman vignole, a stew of artichokes, peas and broad beans with ham, mint and parsley, so named because it is from the crops that grow beside the vines.

At this time of year in Morocco a delicious dish of cous cous with yogurt, coriander, cumin, and broad beans is served by the side of the road. When we were driving through the mountains, I kept pestering our driver to stop to eat this most delicious of dishes one more time.

 

1 cup of fine cous cous (not the coarse precooked stuff)
1 cup of small podded broad beans
1 very small clove of spring garlic
1 tsp cumin
5 tablespoons of yoghurt – preferably home made
2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves
Olive oil

Briefly boil the broad beans in unsalted water (salt toughens the skins) then place in a bowl with the couscous. Sprinkle with salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the couscous and beans between your hands to make sure everything is well coated in olive oil. Pour hot water over the mixture, just enough to cover and leave unti the water is absorbed.

Crush the garlic in a pestle and mortar with a little salt to a fine paste. Toast the cumin until it crackles and then grind with the garlic, add the yoghurt and black pepper.
Chop the coriander leaves.

Mix the cous cous mixture with the seasoned yoghurt, check the seasoning and serve with a little olive oil. Delicious as part of a larger mezze style lunch for a picnic, or as a starter, snack or eccentric breakfast (with less garlic and cumin perhaps) on its own.

Tlacolula Slow-Cooked Pork

Serves 6

This is a recipe from Oaxaca in Mexico. If you can’t find smoked or sun-dried Mexican chillies you can use dried Spanish ones instead, though the smoked ones are so good it is probably worth buying some from coolchile.co.uk.

8 sun-dried or smoked Mexican chillies,

1/2 pork shoulder, about 2kg (4lb 8oz)

1 whole head of garlic

200ml (7fl oz) cider vinegar

1 tbsp dried oregano,

1 tin tomatoes, drained,

6 bay leaves,

1 tbsp allspice, crushed

Break the stems off the chillies, shake out some of the seeds and discard. Soak the chillies in 300ml (10floz) boiling water. Drain off the water and briefly whizz the peppers in a food processor.

Put the pork in a big pan with all the other ingredients. Pour in enough water almost to cover and season well with salt. Cover and set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat as low as possible, and let the pork cook gently until really soft – about 2 hours.

Eat with some greens and salad of radish, celery, coriander and lime, plus crusty bread or corn tortillas.

Rhubarb and Brown Butter Tart

Serves 6

This is based on a delicious plum tart from Chez Panisse in California:

For the pastry

180g (6 1/4oz) plain flour

110g (4oz) unsalted butter

50g (1 3/4) icing sugar

2 egg yolks

For the Filling

350g 12oz (¾lb) of young rhubarb

100g (3½oz) sugar

180g (6 1/4oz) butter

juice of 1 juicy lemon or 2 not so juicy ones

2 eggs

160g (5 3/4oz) sugar

1 tbsp brandy (optional)

few drops of vanilla extract

pinch of salt

2 tbsp double cream

3 tbsp plain flour

Whizz the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor then add the egg yolks. Whizz a bit more then turn out on to an un-floured work surface and bring it together with your hands. Wrap in Clingfilm and leave in the fridge for a few hours.

Wash and slice the rhubarb into 5cm pieces and roll in 100g of sugar and roast in the oven at 160ºC until just tender. Allow to cool and drain off the syrup.

Grate the pastry on the course part of a grater into a 10in (25cm) loose-bottomed tart shell. Push down the grated pastry to cover the base and sides reasonably well. You can leave it a bit rough – try not to work the pastry too much. Put the shell in the freezer, and, after a few minutes when it is hard, put in the oven and bake until pale brown – about 15 minutes. Set the pastry case aside and turn up the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

Put the butter in a small pan over a moderate heat. Once it has melted, let it bubble and go slightly brown. When it has reached the desired nuttiness, take off the heat; squeeze in the lemon and leave to cool.

Beat the eggs and sugar together in an electric mixer until thick and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add the (optional) brandy, vanilla, salt, cream and flour and cooled butter. Mix with a spoon until everything is incorporated.

Arrange the drained rhubarb in the pastry case and pour over the egg mixture. Bake for about 35 minutes or until light brown and set. The tart can be eaten warm or cold, and is nice with crème fraiche.Wildfood

Nettles (Urtica dioica)

Nettles are growing in great profusion around the countryside at the moment particularly on nitrate-rich soil. Gather them while they are young and tender and not too strongly flavoured. You’ll need gloves to protect your hands. With their high iron and vitamin C content, nettles were prominent in folk medicine and, like many other wild foods, they helped in some small measure to alleviate hunger during the Irish famine. Older people knew their value and made sure to eat a feed of nettles 4 times during the month of May to clear the blood. In fact, herbalists confirm that nettles contain iron, formic acid, histamine, ammonia, silica acid and potassium. These minerals are known to help rheumatism, sciatica and other pains. They lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels to increase the haemoglobin in the blood, improve circulation and purify the system, so our ancestors weren’t far wrong. In more recent times, nettles have also become a much sought-after ingredient for trendy chefs.

Roger’s Nettle Beer

My research assistant for my Forgotten Skills book Nathalie found this recipe in Roger Phillips’ book, Wild Food. It makes delicious beer – sweet, fizzy, perfect for summertime. But she bottled it before it had finished fermenting, and one night, the glass bottles exploded. Oh well, practice makes perfect!

Makes 12 litres

100 nettle stalks, with leaves

11 litres (3 gallons) water

1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar

50g (2oz) cream of tartar

10g (12 oz) live yeast

Boil the nettles in the water for 10 minutes. Strain, and add the sugar and the cream of tartar. Heat and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave until tepid, then add the yeast and stir well. Cover with muslin and leave for several days.

Remove the scum and decant without disturbing the sediment. Bottle, cork and tie down.

Hottips

To celebrate the revamp of their dining room, The Crawford Gallery Cafe is launching their One a Month Dinner Nights starting on Thursday May 20th. A six course tasting menu of local, seasonal food will be on offer for €50.00 a head Reservations only, to book, phone 021 4274415 crawfordcafe@gmail.com

 

Are you thinking of re-skilling? Would you like to own/operate a food business with passion and professionalism – while making a profit? Consider the 12 Week course at ‘The Restaurant Advisor’ Blathnaid Bergin’s new School of Restaurant and Kitchen Management in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois. For more information on the course that starts on 23rd August visit http://www.therestaurantadvisor.ie/restaurant-mangement or telephone +353 (0) 87 679 0854 info@therestaurantadvisor.ie

Truly Tasty – the brainchild of Valerie Twomey – is a cookery book especially for adults living with kidney disease. Some of Ireland’s top chefs including Rachel Allen, Rory O’Connell, Neven Maguire, Paul Flynn and Clodagh McKenna have contributed to this book and each recipe has been analysed by dieticians and the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute. Published by Atrium with beautiful images by photographer Hugh McElveen.

 

Dock Kitchen www.dockkitchen.co.uk 0044 2089621610

Towpath Café by Regents Canal 42 De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5SB London

Square Mile Coffee Roasters www.squaremilecoffee.com

Thomasina Miers Wahaca www.wahaca.com

Moro Restaurant www.moro.co.uk

The River Café www.rivercafe.co.uk

The Café Restaurant Petersham Nurseries www.petershamnurseries.com

Cocomaya Restaurant: www.cocomaya.co.uk

Brooklyn USA

In New York, I lost track of the number of people who told me that the most exciting and diverse food scene was out in Brooklyn, so needless to say I sped over the bridge in search of the super cool foodie set. Brooklyn is all about graffiti, galvanise, peeling paint, iron grills and salvaged furnishings. Everyone seems to be 150% into food in that brilliant intense American way. Real estate is less expensive than in Manhattan so many creative young cooks and chefs can get started over there.

I’ve been a fan of Franny’s in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn for some time now. It’s always packed and noisy, a simple neighbourhood restaurant where the most irresistible pizza comes out of their brick wood oven topped with the freshest local and seasonal ingredients – one can’t book but while you wait you can sip a couple of their sophisticated cocktails to while the time deliciously away.

On this trip I concentrated on the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn which is completely choc a bloc with restaurants and food shops – I particularly wanted to see Marlow and Son and its sister shop and butchery down the road called Marlow and Daughter. This is one of the much hyped new retro butcher shops with an intense commitment to sell only sustainable grass fed meats – no feed lot-beef here – all the meat is from heritage breeds and small scale local farmers. There is also a strong and refreshing ‘waste not’ philosophy so every scrap from the nose to the tail is used, the dry aged meat is respectfully displayed, not a scrap of sweet sour sauce in sight – just superb quality well hung meat, home made sausages, terrines. At the back of the shop two young men were deep in discussion about how to get the best use out of the carcass of Gloucester Old Spot pork they had on the butchers block in front of them. Butchers are the new food heroes in New York at present. There is a sudden surge in the number of young people trying to get into Butcher School and all the top chefs are making their own in-house charcuterie as well as pickles and preserves.

It’s all about meat, even three star restaurants are doing burgers and there seems to be ‘burger mania’ among the blogging set, but of course these are no ordinary burgers, it must be grass fed beef, great buns, organic tomatoes and salad leaves, farmstead cheese and in some cases a slab of foie gras on top.

Back to Brooklyn, I popped into Diner as well, a tiny restaurant right next door to Marlow and Son and with the same owner. People flock to this ‘box car diner’ (circa 1927) for breakfast lunch and dinner to eat New American seasonal food. Up the road we found Saltie, one of the newest additions to the Brooklyn food scene owned by three women chefs, Caroline Fidadza, Rebecca Collerton, and Elizabeth Schula.

A tiny blue and white sandwich shop with a nautical theme. News has spread and people come all the way from Manhattan for their buckwheat olive bars – this buttery salty buckwheat shortbread with chunks of Kalamata olives – a new take on a ships biscuit. The menu is small but well chosen. Just a few perfectly composed sandwiches on great bread and 2 or 3 cakes. I chose the ‘Captain’s Daughter’ a thick wedge of Focaccia stuffed with sardines, pickled eggs, a tangle of coriander and rocket leaves with a few capers and radish julienne to perk it up, a perfect picnic for the plane with a slice of their olive oil and caraway seed cake.

For cheese lovers, Bedford cheese shop a few blocks away has a fantastic selection of cheese and really knowledgeable staff.

It goes on and on, Brooklyn Star is also close by, here the food is Southern and also terrific.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg; eleven new restaurants have also opened in Williamsburg in the last few months, mostly small places but so happening. There’s great coffee, ice cream, fish, offal, vegetables, charcuterie and ethnic food. Locals keep hens.

Try to get over on your next trip to New York, it’s less than 30 minutes from mid-town by cab and possibly even less time on the underground.

Websites to visit…

www.frannysbrooklyn.com

 
 

 

www.marlowandsons.com

 
 

 

www.saltieny.com

 
 

 

www.bedfordcheeseshop.com

www.thebrooklynstar.com

 
 

 

Homemade Burgers

 
 

 

The top US chefs insist on grass fed beef, dry-aged and freshly minced with at least 25% fat for succulence. Try to find Hereford, Aberdeen Angus or Pol Angus beef for extra flavour. The ‘haute burger’ has no internal seasoning just the flavour of good quality beef. Instead of buying mincemeat choose a cut of meat from your butcher and ask them to mince it for you.

 

Serves 4-6 depending on size

1 lb (450g) best quality freshly minced beef – flank, chump or shin would be perfect

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

pork caul fat, optional

olive oil

hamburger buns (see recipe)

Put the fresh mince into a chilled bowl, season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry off a tiny bit on the pan to check the seasoning, correct if necessary. Then shape into burgers, 4-6 depending on the size you require. Wrap each one loosely in pork caul fat if using. Cook to your taste on a medium-hot grill pan in a little oil, turning once.

Little tip…If the hamburgers are being cooked in batches make sure to wash and dry the pan between batches.

The Great American Hamburger

 

 

 

The Great American Hamburger is served in a bun with lettuce, sliced onions and tomato, gherkins, a dill pickle, mayonnaise and tomato sauce and of course lots of crispy chips (French fries).

Evie Lanitis Hamburger Buns

 

 

 

Makes about 20 buns large buns

2 1/2 lbs (1.1kg) strong white Bakers flour

1 1/2 oz (35g) fresh yeast

2 level teaspoons salt

2 1/2 level tablespoons sugar

500ml (18 fl ozs) tepid milk

200ml (7 fl ozs) organic yogurt

1 beaten egg

3 1/2 ozs (100g) butter

Glaze
 

 

1 free-range egg beaten with 3fl ozs (75ml) water

water sprayer

Cookie cutter (size 2 – 2 1/2 inch/6cm)

Conventional oven 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8.

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the sugar. Rub in the butter. Dissolve the yeast in the tepid milk. Add the beaten egg to the yoghurt. Pour the milk, then the yoghurt into the flour; knead in the food mixer with the dough hook fitted for 5-6 minutes. Cover and leave to rise until the dough doubles in size – this takes about 1 hour. Knock back, divide the dough into 4 pieces, shape each into a roll and divide each into 6 pieces about 3ozs (75g) each.

Roll each piece in a ball, and then flatten with the heel of your hand. Put 6 buns on a baking tray. Cover and allow to rise about 1 1/2 hours (they don’t rise too much). Brush them gently with egg wash.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas 8, open quickly and spray the inside of the oven well with water, close the door then put tray in at once.

Spray with water twice more during baking – around oven, bottom, sides and over the buns. They will take about 10-15 minutes to cook.

Cool on wire tray.

 

Pickled Eggs

 

 

Pickled eggs are a living tradition still served in many country pubs. Originally, pickling would’ve been yet another way of preserving the eggs in times of glut, but the pickle added interest and flavour, so just because we have fridges now doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pickle eggs any more.

850ml (112 pints) white wine vinegar

10g (12oz) fresh root ginger

7g (14oz) white peppercorns

7g (14oz) black peppercorns

1 tablespoon turmeric (optional)

1 chilli

12 organic free range eggs, hard-boiled

Put the vinegar and spices, including turmeric if using, into a stainless-steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, sieve and leave to cool.

Peel the eggs, run under a cold tap to remove any traces of shell and put into a sterilised Kilner jar. Pour in the spiced vinegar. The eggs must be completely covered; otherwise they won’t keep. Seal the jar with the clip and keep for 3–4 weeks before using. These are great eaten in the traditional way with a beer, but I like them on a salad of organic leaves or watercress, mint, cherry tomatoes and batons of cucumber.

Olive Oil Cake

 

 

 

This olive oil cake was all the rage in cafes and tea shops – I adored the Saltie version which included caraway seeds but omit them if you don’t love them as much as I do! I use Primo or Mani extra virgin olive oil. Also great for those who want a dairy free cake.

Serves 8 – 10
 

 

165g (6oz) 1 ½ cups all purpose white flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

3 large free range organic eggs

225g (8oz) 1 cup sugar

175ml (6fl oz) ¾ cup plain full fat yoghurt

3 lemons, the finely grated zest

175ml (6 fl oz) ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for greasing the dish

23cm (9 inch) springform tin

Pre-heat the oven 170°C/325°F/ Mark 3. Lightly oil the base and sides of the tin.

Mix all the dry ingredients together including the caraway seeds in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Preferably in a food mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is pale and voluminous.

Add the natural yoghurt and lemon zest, continue to whisk for a minute or two more. Add the extra virgin olive oil all at once and reduce speed to low. Gradually fold the flour mixture into the mousse gently but thoroughly.

Pour the cake mixture into the oiled tin and put into the oven. Transfer to the centre of the preheated oven and cook until the cake is golden – about 40 minutes. A tester should come out clean when inserted into the centre. The edges will have shrunk away from the tin slightly.

Allow to cool in the tin for 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

Serve with a coffee or with a blob of crème fraiche and some summer berries.

Oatmeal Biscuit Sandwich

 

 

 

I tasted a cookie similar to this at the little coffee shop beside the restaurant Locanda Verde in Manhattan.

 

Makes 22 – approx

1 lb (450g) butter

8ozs (225g) castor sugar

8ozs (225g) plain white flour

¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1lb 4ozs (560g) organic porridge oats

egg wash and granulated sugar

Coffee filling

 
3

ozs (85g) butter

6 ozs (190g) icing sugar

coffee essence – 2 teaspoon approx.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sieve the flour and bread soda together and gradually add into the creamed mixture with the porridge oats.

Turn onto a board sprinkled with oatmeal and roll out to a thickness of 1/3 inch (1cm). Cut into 3″ round biscuits with a sharp cutter. Glaze with egg wash and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 until pale and golden, about 20 – 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile make the coffee filling, cream the butter and add in the sieved icing sugar, beat until light and fluffy and then add the coffee essence.

Spread a little on each biscuit and sandwich two together and enjoy.

Fool Proof Food

Captain’s Daughter

 

 

 

This is my version of the super sandwich I picked up at Saltie in Brooklyn.

a piece of Focaccia approximately 4 ½ inches (11 ½ cm) square

fresh rocket and coriander leaves

extra virgin olive oil

sardines

pickled eggs (see recipe)

1 teaspoon tiny capers

4 radishes cut into julienne

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Split the Focaccia in half horizontally. Put the base on a plate, drizzle the rocket and coriander leaves in extra virgin olive oil and pile on the bread base, arrange the sardines side by side on the leaves. Top with slices of pickled egg. Sprinkle capers and julienne of radish on top. Season with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with rocket and the other slice of Focaccia.

Hottips
Interior Living – 11 McCurtain Street in Cork city – has a little pantry at the

back of their shop that stocks Primo Olive oil. This award winning extra virgin olive oil is harvested by hand and extracted by the continuous cold cycle method from using only early green harvest Tonda Iblea olives that produce an intense, fresh tasting, totally delicious oil – 021 4505819 – info@interiorliving.ie.

Discover the truth behind unhealthy food addictions
and learn how to break the cycle. David Kessler delves into the psychology and neuroscience of our junk-food cravings in his book – The End of Overeating – Taking control of our Insatiable Appetite, published by Penguin. Available in the Ballymaloe Cookery School farm shop and in most good book shops.

 

Shape up for Summer with Lucy
Hyland’s healthy cookery classes at Brennan’s in Cork city over two evenings – Thursday 20th May and Thursday 27th May 6:45pm to 9:30pm €95.00 for both classes – 0868179964 or lucy@foodforliving.ie.

 

Feel Good Food

For years now we’ve been getting conflicting messages about what’s good for us nutritionally and three quarters of it I disagree with totally. For a start I avoid all low fat or ‘lite’ products. For me low fat or ‘lite’ means less flavour, less nutrients, less real value, every bite of food we eat should nourish us rather than just fill us with empty calories and fill the pockets of the multinationals. So how do we find nourishing food? Look out for and eat as much fresh, preferably home-grown local food in season as you can lay your hands on. Not always possible but ideally start to grow something yourself even if it’s only a few salad leaves in a pot or box on your window or balcony, it’ll taste a million times better. I know that sounds like a cliché but it’s totally true. Freshness is everything in most vegetables, herbs and fruit.

Involve the children as well in the growing – you’ll be astonished how they eat everything, spinach, broccoli, radishes, broad-beans, leeks… I’m convinced the reason why it’s so difficult to get children to eat vegetables is that their fresh palate can pick up chemical flavours and distinguish the difference between freshly picked vegetables that are full of natural sugars which quickly turn to less appealing starches as the vegetable ages.

Children and indeed all of us love the natural sugars so freshness is a key. If you are trying to make sense of the plethora of conflicting advice you would do well to be guided by Michael Pollen – who wrote the Omnivores Dilemma published by Puffin – in his book Food Rules – An Eaters Manual.

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.

Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.

Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup

Avoid food that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients.

Avoid food products containing ingredients that an eight year old child cannot pronounce.

Avoid food products that make health claims.

Avoid food products with wordoid ‘lite’ or the ‘low-fat’ or ’non-fat’ in their names.

Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle

Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.

Buy your snacks at the farmer’s market.

Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans.

Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language… (think Big Mac or Pringles)

It’s unquestionably a good idea to eat lots of vegetables and fruit but do your utmost to find produce that is chemical free.

One of our teachers at the Cookery School – Debbie Shaw who is a fully trained nutritionist gave me some of her delicious healthy recipes and tips to share with you.

Debbie Shaw’s Humus in a Hurry

Humus is a delicious, highly nutritious and versatile Middle Eastern dish.

 

1 x 400g can of cooked chickpeas (“Suma”, organic, salt & sugar free beans), drained
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
Juice of ½ a large lemon
2 tablespoons of dark tahini paste (Meridian brand)

½ teaspoon of salt 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika

N.B. Tahini paste is made of ground sesame seeds. The light Tahini is not lower in calories, the sesame seeds have been hulled and are thus less nutritious!

To make it, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Cover in fresh cold water, place in a saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Drain them holding back some of the cooking water. The chickpeas absorb all the flavours better when they are warm. Add the tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, cumin and salt and blend with a hand blender to a puree. It should be soft. If it is too stiff add some of the reserved hot cooking water. Place the humus in a bowl, drizzle with a little cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika.

 

 

 

 

 

Serving Suggestions

Crisp Crudités  

 

Humus is delicious as a starter with fresh crudités (raw vegetables), including baby spring onions, French beans, asparagus, celery sticks, carrot sticks, courgette sticks, sweet pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli or cauliflower florets. Pop the humus in a tub and bring it to work with a bag of veggie sticks.Wholewheat Pittabread Sticks

 

 

Mix 2 teaspoon of extra virgin olive with a pinch of coarsely ground cumin seeds, a pinch of smoked paprika and a pinch of sea salt. Cut the pitta bread into long strips and toss in the oil mixture. Cook in a hot oven or under a grill until crisp. Use them to dip into the humus.

Humus is also great in sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

 

Debbie Shaw’s Seared Organic Salmon with Baby Spinach, Wild Garlic
and Watercress Pesto & Brown Rice Tagliatelle

This delicious light summer recipe is packed with nutrients offering maximum energy for minimum effort.

Serves 4

1lb 4oz (510g) of dried brown rice tagliatelle or spaghetti
1 lb (400g) Fresh Organic Salmon, skinned and cut into 1″ cubes
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan with no oil
2 oz (50g) baby spinach

 

For the Pesto

 

1 oz (25g) wild garlic, long stalks removed
2 oz (50g) baby spinach
1 oz (25g) watercress, leafs only
1 clove of garlic, finely crushed
1 oz (25g) of walnuts
2 ½ – 3 floz (75–90 mls) of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 oz (25g) parmesan cheese, grated on a medium-sized grater, hold back 2 tblsp for sprinkling

First make the pesto. Ensure the greens are totally dry before blending. Place the first 5 ingredients in a blender (or use a hand blender or pestle and mortar). Blend briefly on pulse until the greens and walnuts are chopped. Whiz again briefly, pouring in the olive oil. Remove to a bowl and fold in most of the parmesan cheese, keeping a little for sprinkling. If you cannot pick wild garlic or watercress, use 4oz of baby spinach.

To cook the pasta, bring 8 pints of water to a fast rolling boil and add 2 teaspoon of salt. I have chosen brown rice pasta because it is delicious, highly nutritious and gluten-free. This dish could equally be made with other wholegrain pastas (high in B vitamins for energy) such as quinoa or buckwheat, which are also gluten-free, or whole wheat or wholegrain spelt pasta. They take a bit longer to cook than white pasta. Follow the cooking directions on the packet.

Place the brown rice tagliatelle in the vigorously boiling water and stir immediately to separate the strands. The pasta will take 6-8 minutes to cook. While the pasta is cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the salmon cubes and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a low to medium heat until the salmon is cooked through.

When the pasta is cooked, leaving a slight bite (“al dente”), drain it, reserving some of the pasta cooking water. Rinse the pasta under hot water to remove excess starch. Mix 4 tablespoons of the pasta water into the pesto to thin it out (this allows you to use less oil when making the pesto). Place the pasta in a large warm bowl and coat evenly with the pesto. Finally add the cooked salmon cubes and the uncooked baby spinach leaves. Toss gently without breaking up the salmon. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan and wild garlic flowers on top. Voilá, you have a delicious, highly nutritious, energy-giving meal. Bon appetite.

 

Debbie’s Energising, Revitalising Homemade Herbal Teas

Grow some herbs and try making your own fresh herbal teas to energise and revitalise your body and mind. They are easy to make and less expensive than herbal teabags.

To make rosemary or mint or lemon balm tea:

 

Place 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 4 large sprigs of fresh lemon balm or 4 large sprigs of fresh mint in a small flask and cover in 400ml boiling water (this is enough for two cups of tea) Put the lid on the flask and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. I like to use a flask to keep the teas hot while they are infusing, but you can also use a teapot and tea cosy. Pour and enjoy.

Rosemary Tea

Stimulates circulation, releases energy

Improves memory

Lifts the spirits

Lemon Balm TeaInvigorates the body,

Relieves stress/anxiety,

Settles the stomach


Mint Tea

Refreshes body and mind

Aids digestion

Aids memory

Mild aphrodisiac

 

 

 

Cinnamon Tea
To make cinnamon tea, break 1 large cinnamon stick in half. Add the cinnamon pieces to a flask and cover with 400mls boiling water. Put on the lid and infuse for 10 minutes. Sometimes I also pop a star anise in as well. Serve with a teaspoon of Manuka honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

 

Balances blood sugar and relieves sweet cravings

Warms the body

Lifts the spirits

Helps lower cholesterol

 


Root Ginger and Fresh Lemongrass Tea

 

 

To prepare the tea, slice a 1 inch piece of fresh unpeeled root ginger and bruise a stalk of fresh lemongrass with a rolling pin. Place the ginger pieces and lemon grass in a flask and cover with 400mls boiling water. Cover with the lid and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Pour and enjoy.

 

Energises the body

Stimulates circulation

Aids digestion, relieves headaches and nausea

 

 

 

 

Debbie’s Eat for Energy Tips

Where do we get our Energy from?

We get our energy from what we eat and our bodies convert it into useable fuel. Here comes the science bit. In every cell in your body there is a little “power house” called the Mitochondria, which makes your energy. In order for this power house to function well it needs key vitamins and minerals, from food.

Introducing the high energy vitamins: B vitamins (B1-B3, B5, B6), EFA’s (essential fatty acids), iron, magnesium and vitamin C.

For B-Vitamins Eat More

– wholegrains (wholewheat, quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, wholegrain spelt), wheat germ, bran, brewers yeast, dried & sprouted beans, nuts & seeds (walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds), eggs, fish, game, asparagus, avocados, broccoli & carrots. B vitamins also help us distress. 

For EFA’s Eat More

– fresh oily fish such as salmon, herrings, sardines, trout and seabass; flaxseeds, nuts and seeds, nut and vegetables oils. EFA’s are also essential for good brain function and promote serotonin production. Serotonin is the brain’s “happy” chemical.

For Magnesium Eat More – leafy green vegetables including spinach and watercress; wheatgerm & bran, brewers yeast, walnuts, almonds, cashews, soyabeans and seafood. Magnesium is also essential for heart health and restful sleep. For Vitamin C Eat More

– fresh fruits and vegetables, in particular kiwis, blackcurrants, strawberries, green vegetables (including watercress & broccoli) and sweet peppers. Vitamin C is also essential for immune health, dental health and helps relieve hay fever (it is a natural anti-histamine). For Iron Eat More

– green leafy vegetables (including spinach & nettles), parsley, avocados, kelp, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pine nuts. Hottips

Join Debbie Shaw on her “Feel Good Food Course” on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and learn how to cook more delicious recipes to energise your life. Her recipes are inspired by the fresh, healthy flavours of the Mediterranean, Asia and the Middle East, and will include superfood salads, fabulous fish, family favourites and tasty treats. Book online

 

www.cookingisfun.ie or phone 021 4646785. 

Gorta Soup for Life

Help make hunger history by gathering friends and colleagues for a fun get together over a cup, bowl or pot of soup (or any other meal that takes your fancy!) and making a contribution to gorta’s work aimed at eliminating hunger and malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

www.gorta.org/soup  

 

Mustard Seed Limerick Celebrates their 25th Anniversary this year

Dan Mullane’s

The Mustard Seed opened its doors in a cottage in the centre of Adare village 25 years ago. From small beginnings with 5 staff members, a basic herb garden and lots of good will, the Mustard Seed has grown to a four star country house that was awarded the Georgina Campbell Country House of the Year 2008. It’s worth taking a trip just to try head chef David Rice’s pan fried turbot with potato fennel salad, charred asparagus and rocket aioli, it’s really really good. To book 06968508 –

 

mustard@indigo.ie www.themustardseed.ie

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