Weâ€™ve been in Bordeaux for a couple of days celebrating Jean Pierre MoullÃ©’s significant birthday. Friends from all over the world arrived by train, boats and planes â€“ all gathered together to eat, drink and be very merry. Jean Pierre, one of the head chefs at Chez Panisse in Berkeley Californiais married to Denise Lourton of the Lourton wine dynasty in Bordeaux, so we dined well. We also had a tasting of the wines in the new cellars at Chateau LouviÃ¨re, later we wandered through the steep cobbled streets of St Emilion in search of the veritable macaroons and cannelles of Madame Blanchet. We found it beside the post office.
In St Emilion not surprisingly, every second shop sells wine. There must be thirty or more. How do they all survive?
Madame Janine Ooyle came to Chateau Bonnet with a chest of wonderful old French linen to tempt us and we chatted and feasted and how!
Itâ€™s so sublime to live in a climate where one can lay long tables in the gardens and depend on the weather. Each evening we started with a little selection of anti pasti to nibble with an aperitivo. Little morsels of succulent local eel, Â fried in butter with a little chilli and shreds of parsley, rillettes with crusty bread, skewers of cured acorn â€“Pata Negra fed jamon, vegetables Ã¡ la greque, moules Ã¡ la bordÃ©laise, prunings from old grape vines gave the grilled veal and cÃ´tes de boeuf a delicious smoky flavour. It was served, simply with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, green and yellow haricot beans, fresh from the garden. At every meal there was superb cheese from the famous local cheese shop Jean Dalos inBordeauxand bowls of exquisitely flavoured fresh summer berries as well as peaches, apricots and nectarines. Gorgeous simple food perfect to share.
At another meal there was a delicious ratatouille served with a succulent slow roasted gigot of lamb and a chocolate birthday cake to set your heart racing.
The recipe for St Emilion macaroons is a closely guarded secret but this recipe is easy and delicious, one can eat them just as they are or sandwich them together with a chocolate filling – a favourite variation.
Cherry Tomato, Basil Leaf and Bocconcini on Bamboo Sticks
A simple tasty Summery bite to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine.
24 Cherry tomatoes
24 Fresh basil leaves
24 Bocconcini â€“ use Irish Mozzarella if available
Freshly ground black pepper
Italian extra virgin olive oil
Flat bamboo cocktail sticks
Thread a ripe cherry tomato, fresh basil leaf and a bocconcini onto a flat bamboo cocktail stick. Arrange on a plate. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper. Continue until all the ingredients are used up. Eat soon
Serve on crostini or crusty bread
500g (1lb 2oz) pork shoulder
500g (1lb 2oz) fatty pork belly (rindless)
300g (1lb 2oz) homemade lard
2 tablespoons juniper berries
2 teaspoons peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 120Â°C/250ÂºF/ gas mark 1â„2.
Cut the pork shoulder and pork belly into small pieces, about 1cm (1â„2in) wide. Put 100ml (31â„2fl oz) water and the fat into a casserole and add the meat. Tie the juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into a small, loose muslin bag and add it to the casserole.
Warm the pot gently for a few minutes on a low heat. It mustnâ€™t boil, or the meat will stick and congeal. Cover the casserole tightly and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for about 4 hours, by which time the meat will be meltingly tender and slightly browned.
Leave the meat to cool for a few minutes, remove the muslin bag and then pull the meat into shreds with two forks. Taste and season well, adding a little grated nutmeg and some thyme leaves.
When you are happy with the flavour, transfer the rillettes to an earthenware pot or pots. Pack it down well, cover with silicone paper and leave to mature for a day or two in a fridge or cold larder.
Serve with warm crusty bread or toast and maybe a few crunchy cornichons or radishes to nibble on. We also love to accompany them with Beetroot and Ginger Relish.
Rillettes will keep in a fridge or cold larder for up to 3â€“4 months, depending on the quality of the pork used.
Mussels Ã la Bordelaise
18 lbs (8 kgs) of mussels, well washed
2 ozs (50 g) streaky bacon, cut into Â¼ inch (5 mm) lardons
2 slices white bread, cut in Â¼ inch (5 mm) cubes for croutons
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2-4 heaped tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
First open the mussels. You may want to scrape off any barnacles from wild mussel shells, but this is not essential. Wash the mussels well in several changes of cold water. Then spread them in a single layer in a pan, covered with a folded tea-towel or the lid and cook over a gentle heat â€“ no need to add any liquid. This usually takes 2â€“3 minutes; the mussels are cooked just as soon as the shells open (cockles and palourdes can be cooked in the same way). Remove them from the pan immediately or they will shrink in size and become tough.Â
Just as soon as they open, remove the beards but leave in the shells. Put into a warm bowl. Strain the mussel juice through a fine sieve, add the juice of Â½-1 lemon. Put it back on a high heat and pour over the mussels. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, add a little oil and the lardons of bacon, cook until the fat runs out and the bacon is crisp and golden. Remove to a plate, add a little more oil to the pan, add the croutons and continue to cook until they too are crisp and golden. Add the garlic, the crispy lardons and the parsley. Toss for a second and scatter over the mussels in the bowl. Serve immediately in deep bowls.
Chocolate Mousse with Almond Macaroons
110g (4ozs) good quality dark chocolate
110ml (4fl ozs) cream
1-2 tablespoons rum, brandy, or grand marnier, or 1 teaspoon grated orange rind (optional)
2 eggs, separated
6 Almond Macaroons (see below)
Chop the chocolate finely.Â Bring the cream up to the boil, turn off the heat, add the chocolate to the cream and stir it around until the chocolate melts in the cream.Â Add in the alcohol, if using, and whisk in the egg yolks.Â Whisk the egg whites until just stiff, then stir in a quarter of the egg white, fold in the rest, gently, being careful not to knock all the air out.Â Pour the mousse into a glass or cup and pop into the fridge for an hour or two to set.Â Serve with pouring cream and almond macaroons.
NOTE This is great without the macaroon too, just as a plain chocolate mousse
For a really intense chocolate mousse, leave the two beaten egg whites out and serve in tiny espresso cups.
Little amaretti biscuits are also really good here, instead of the coconut macaroons.
These are so simple to make and can easily keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container.
110g (4ozs) ground almonds
75g (3ozs) caster sugar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 180Â°C/350Â°F/gas 4.Â
Put the ground almonds, caster sugar and the egg white into a bowl and stir to combine.Â It should be firm, but slightly sticky.Â Roll small dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.Â Flatten slightly with a wet fork.Â Cook for about 10 minutes or until pale golden.Â Cool on a wire rack.
Note: These are also good with the grated zest of 1 lemon or orange mixed in with the coconut/almonds and sugar.
Desiccated coconut can also be used instead of ground almonds in the above recipe.
Chocolate St. Emilion
Pop one or two macaroons into individual glass or china ramekins, spoon a tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of good brandy over the top.Â Fill the ramekins 3/4 full with the chocolate mousse.Â Cover and leave overnight.Â Next day, serve with lots of thick pouring cream.
French Chocolate Cake with Crystallized Violets
One of several incredibly rich chocolate cakes, use the best chocolate you can buy, Valrhona, Menier, Suchard or Callebaut.
4 ozs (110g) best quality dark chocolate (We use LesmÃ© or Val Rhona chocolate)
2 tablespoons Red Jamaica Rum
4 ozs (110g) butter, preferably unsalted
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar
3 free-range eggs
1 tablespoon) castor sugar
2 ozs (50g) plain white flour
2 ozs (50g) whole almonds
6 ozs (175g) best quality dark chocolate
3 tablespoons Red Jamaica Rum
6 ozs (175g) unsalted butter
crystallized violets or toasted almonds or praline
Preheat the oven to 180ÂºC/350ÂºF/gas mark 4.Â Â
Grease two 7 inch (18 cm) sandwich tins and line the base of each with greaseproof paper.Â Melt the chocolate with the rum on a very gentle heat, peel the almonds and grind in a liquidizer or food processor they should still be slightly gritty. Cream the butter, and then add the castor sugar, beat until light and fluffy.Â Â Beat in the egg yolks.Â Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.Â Â Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of castor sugar and continue to whisk until they reach the stiff peak stage.Â Â Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture and then add the almonds.Â Â Stir in 1/4 of the egg white mixture followed by 1/4 of the sieved flour.Â Â Fold in the remaining eggs and flour alternatively until they have all been added.
Divide between the two prepared tins and make a hollow in the centre of each cake.
IMPORTANT: Cake should be slightly underdone in the centre.Â Sides should be cooked but the centre a little unset.Â Depending on oven it can take between 19 and 25 minutes.
Chocolate Butter Icing
Melt best quality chocolate with rum.Â Whisk in unsalted butter by the tablespoon.Â Â Beat occasionally until cool.Â When the cake is completely cold, fill and ice with the mixture.Â Â Pipe the remaining icing around the top and decorate with crystallized violets or toasted flaked almonds.
Slow Food East Cork Celebrate Coffee with Mark Kingston
Tuesday August 9th 7pm The Grain Store at Ballymaloe House
Mark will teach the secrets of coffee beans and coffee roasting. Cup of coffee included
Slow Food Members â‚¬5Â Non Slow Food Members â‚¬6
Booking Essential: 021 4646785 or email email@example.com
Clonakilty Waterfront Festival 2011
Sunday July 31st Farmers Market 12-4pm. A wonderful opportunity to sample West Cork artisan produce. Visit www.clonfest.ie for the details.
Contact Eithne Hart 087 414 5729 for further information.
Marsh Samphire is in season now. Contact Michelle Walsh on 086 345 8710
To cook: you need 8oz (225g) Marsh Samphire or Sea Asparagus
1-2ozs (25-50g) butter
Wash the marsh samphire well. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, throw in the samphire, return to the boil for 3 or 4 minutes, drain. Toss in a little melted butter. Keep warm.