Archive2012

New Years Resolutions…

Phew! That’s Christmas over again for another year. We’re all settling back into a routine and there’s a palpable sigh of relief in many houses, no unrealistic expectations, no feelings of guilt, just settle down and maybe re-evaluate our life style and plan to plant a few vegetables maybe an apple tree…

Or maybe build a little chicken coop, and get a few hens. The wholesome left over household scraps of food can be fed to your hens who will reward you with the most delicious eggs a few days later. They must have grass otherwise the eggs will be not be anything like as good or as nourishing. The chicken coop can be moved around your lawn every few days so they have fresh grass and the manure will benefit your lawn so its ‘win win’ all the way.

My New Year resolution is to learn how to type – just as much of a mystery to me as cooking is to many others. What’s your challenging resolution? Could it be in the kitchen?  If you can’t cook, just learn how to cook, somehow, somewhere, it’s the easiest way to be happy, save money, keep healthy, endear you to your family and friends and cut down on garbage. The latter is because when you can cook there’s no need for cans and packets, plastic wrap or polystyrene trays. Just buy beautiful fresh ingredients when they are least expensive and in season and give the trimmings to your hens.

Take one step at a time – one practical suggestion to improve the family diet. Ban breakfast cereals, virtually without exception they are full of sugar and salt, empty calories and despite what it says on the packet are far from nourishing.

Much better to follow Michael Pollen’s advice – ‘Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.’ So let’s start with breakfast – the only food your great grandmother might recognise is porridge and its every bit as nourishing now as it was then, particularly if you buy Macroom stone-ground oatmeal. I’m also a big fan of Kilbeggan organic porridge, and of course Flahavans oatmeal is a wonderfully nutritious and satisfying food. Eat it as porridge with soft dark brown sugar and whole milk or incorporate it into a muesli or granola – so easy to make yourself. The second little decision that can have a major influence on the family diet is to eliminate squishy sliced pan totally from your diet.

Make it your total priority for 2013, ask a friend or neighbour to teach you just one dish at a time, maybe barter babysitting, mending, dog walking in exchange – no money need change hands.

Cooking really isn’t ‘rocket science’, like so many other skills in life its all about confidence and the quality of the raw materials and you do need some basic kitchen kit.  You simply can’t cook without a few basic utensils. Buy them one at a time and the very best you can afford – they should be good enough to last a lifetime.  I often give a present of ICM Pentole saucepan as a wedding present to young couples – not very romantic you might say – well I disagree, they will bless me every day when they cook in a beautiful stainless steel saucepan with 5 layers in the base so its almost impossible to burn something and if you do, it can be cleaned easily plus you will pass the saucepan on to grandchildren.

Happy cooking, may 2013 bring the blessing of many delicious meals around the kitchen table with family and friends.

 

Toasted Granola with Coconut and Cinnamon

 

This nourishing breakfast cereal, will keep several weeks in a Kilner Jar. Serve with sliced banana and whole milk or scatter over a bowl of natural yogurt.

 

Serves 10-12

 

450g (1 lb) organic rolled oats (porridge oats)

110g (4ozs) flaked almonds

55g (2ozs) unsweetened coconut

55g (2ozs) sunflower seeds

30g (1oz) linseed

55g (2oz) bran

½ teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground

2fl oz (50ml) sunflower or grape seed oil

110g (4oz) brown sugar

150ml (5fl oz) honey

125g (4ozs) dried apricots, chopped

125g (4 ozs) raisins

 

2 large baking trays

 

Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C /Gas mark 3

Mix grains, seeds and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Put the oil, honey and brown sugar into a saucepan, stir and bring to boil.  Stir the honey mixture into the oat mixture.  Mix carefully.

Divide evenly between the baking trays.  Bake in the oven for 20 –  30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until evenly golden.

Allow to cool.  Mix in chopped apricots and raisins.  Store in an airtight jar.

 

Ballymaloe Nut and Grain Muesli

 

This muesli, bursting with goodness keeps in a screw top jar for several weeks. Measure the ingredients in cups for speed. Lecithin comes from soya beans, it is rich in phosphatidyl Choline – an important nutrient in the control of dietary fat, and it helps the body to convert fats into energy rather than storing them as body fat.

 

8 Weetabix bars

7 ozs (200g/2 cups) oatmeal (Quaker oats or Speedicook oatflakes)

1 1/2 ozs (45g/1/2 cup) bran

2 1/4 ozs (62g/3/4 cup) fresh wheat germ

2 1/4 ozs (62g/1/2 cup) raisins

2 1/2 ozs (62g/1/2 cup) sliced hazelnuts or a mixture of cashews and hazelnuts

2 1/2 ozs (62g/1/2 cup) soft brown sugar – Barbados sugar

2 tablespoons Lecithin – optional

 

Serves 12

 

Crumble the Weetabix in a bowl, add the other ingredients and mix well.  Store in an airtight container.  Keeps for 2-3 weeks in a cool place.

 

Serve it with a sliced banana and whole milk.

 

Fresh Apple Muesli

 

This fruit muesli is served for breakfast right through the year at Ballymaloe House the fruit varies with the season.

 

Serves 4

 

4 heaped tablespoons rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)

8 tablespoons water

3 – 4 grated dessert apples (Worcester Permain, Cox’s Orange Pippin or Gala)

1 – 3 teaspoons Irish honey or to taste

 

Soak the oatmeal in the water for 10 or 15 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the apple on the coarse part of a box grater, no need to peel, pick out and discard the seeds, mix with the oatmeal. Sweeten to taste with honey, a scant teaspoon is usually enough but it depends on how sweet the apples are.

Serve with cream and soft brown sugar.

 

Macroom Oatmeal Porridge

 

Serves 4

 

Virtually every morning in Winter I start my day with a bowl of porridge.  Search out Macroom stoneground oatmeal from the last stone grinding mill in Ireland which has the most delicious toasted nutty flavour.  It comes in a lovely old-fashioned red and yellow pack which I hope they never change.

 

5 1/2 ozs (155g) Macroom oatmeal

32 fl ozs (950 ml) water

1 level teaspoon salt

 

Obligatory accompaniment!

 

Soft brown sugar

 

Bring 4 cups of water to the boil, sprinkle in the oatmeal, gradually stirring all the time.  Put on a low heat and stir until the water comes to the boil.

 

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the salt and stir again.  Serve with single cream or milk and soft brown sugar melting over the top.

Left over porridge can be stored in a covered container in the fridge – it will reheat perfectly the next day.

 

 

 

Shanagarry Soda Bread

 

This is a more modern version of soda bread, couldn’t be simpler, just mix and pour into a well-greased tin – yields about 10 slices.

 

This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

 

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

 

400g (14 oz) stone ground wholemeal flour

55g (3oz) plain white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon honey or soft dark brown sugar

1 egg, preferably free range

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, unscented

425ml (15fl oz) buttermilk or sour milk approx. (put all the milk in)

Sunflower or sesame seeds optional

 

Loaf tin – 9 inches (23cm) x 5 inches (12.5cm) x 2 inches (5cm)

 

Preheat oven to 2001C/4001F/regulo 6.

 

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey most of the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins and bake for approx. an hour or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Hottips

 

Spanish Point Sea Vegetables

At last we’re waking up to the wealth of sea-weeds and sea vegetables around our coast. Not just carrageen moss and dilisk but kombu, wakame, sea lettuce, kelp, sea spaghetti… all packed with vitamins, minerals and trace elements – great recipes on the website – www.wildirishseaveg.com

 

Irish Honey – I was not convinced about rape seed honey – in fact I was deeply prejudiced until I tasted Ballyvalla Honey from Slieverue in Waterford – phone 086-8168825 – waterfordbees@gmail.com

 

 

There’s lots of excitement about the flavour and health benefits of rape seed oil – only one does it for me – Kitty Colchester’s freshly pressed organic Second Nature Rape Seed oil from Urlingford in Co Kilkenny, look out for new flavours, lemon, mandarin, rosemary, chilli and garlic. www.secondnatureoils.com

 

The Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins recently announced that there is a critical shortage of trained chefs – one of the very few areas where there are job opportunities at present – the next intensive 12 Week Certificate Course designed to teach students the skills they need to earn their living from their cooking starts Monday 7th January, 2013 –  www.cookingisfun.ie – watch a short video about the course  http://youtu.be/ZbHDi7SS2hY

Delicious Ways with Christmas Leftovers

By now the Christmas frenzy is building up. Hopefully the cake and plum pudding are made and you’ve decided whether its turkey or goose. Maybe you’ve plumped for a fine roast chicken, maybe a pheasant or a nice glazed ham. One way or the other you’ll probably have some little scraps left over that can be added to salads, a gratin or even a bubbly ‘mac and cheese.’ The latter is delicious cooked in tiny muffin tins lined with parchment till the edges get crispy – serve with drinks.

Fresh Brussels sprouts make delicious salads, peel off the outer leaves and mix with a good dressing and maybe some pumpkin seeds.  The classic Croque Monsieur is a posh cheese and ham sandwich – a real favourite with the French and a brilliant way to use up some thin slices of left over ham, everyone including kids will love it.

Offer to take your friends turkey carcasses, they may pity you but you’ll have the last laugh. The carcass makes a brilliant stock, good enough to sip as a soothing broth but also great as the basis of a light soup embellished with shreds of leftover turkey, pheasant, or chicken.

Left over pannetone or even barmbrack makes a terrific bread and butter pudding, you may want to add a few more sultanas and perhaps a scattering of diced ginger.

Mincemeat keeps well but it can used in so many yummy ways, with apple in tarts or tartlets, in a crumble or tray bake or even as a stuffing for a baked apple. Here’s a few suggestions to use up left overs in dishes I enjoy.

A Happy Christmas and hope 2013 brings much joy and the blessing of many delicious meals with family and friends around the kitchen table.

 

Turkey, Orzo, Pea and Spring Onion Broth

 

Super light and refreshing, a particularly delicious way of using up scraps of cooked turkey or other poultry.

 

Serves 6

 

1 litre (1 ¾ pints) turkey, chicken or pheasant stock

50g (2oz) orzo pasta

2 tender stalks celery, finely sliced at an angle

pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

150 – 175g (5 – 6 oz) shredded cooked turkey, chicken or pheasant

110g (4oz) frozen peas

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 – 6 spring onions, sliced at an angle (depending on size)

lots of fresh coriander and/or fresh mint leaves

 

Bring the stock to the boil; add the orzo, celery and chilli flakes. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the pasta is just cooked, add the peas and shredded chicken. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with spring onions and lots of fresh coriander and/or mint.

 

Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Toasted Pecans

 

Pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts would be good here also. If separating the leaves of the Brussels sprouts is too much of a mission, just shred them finely instead, however the individual leaves look and taste great.

 

 

(450g) 1lb fresh Brussels sprouts, leaves separated

2 ripe but slightly firm avocados

1 – 2 blood oranges (depending on size)

25 – 50g (1 – 2 oz) pecans, toasted

salt and freshly ground pepper

flat leaf parsley sprigs

 

Dressing

 

finely grated zest of 1 preferably organic lemon

2 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Whisk all the ingredients for the salad dressing together.

 

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Mark 4. Toast the pecans in a single layer for 8 – 10 minutes. Peel the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts (keep the centres for another dish) Put into a bowl. Segment the blood oranges, add to the bowl. Whisk the dressing, add any spare orange juice and sprinkle some over the salad and toss gently. Turn out onto a wide platter, halve, stone and slice the avocado, arrange haphazardly op top. Sprinkle with warm toasted pecans, hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds and lots of flat parsley sprigs. Taste and correct seasoning.

 

Mac and Cheese

 

Serves 6

 

Macaroni cheese is all over menus in the US, once again, comforting and delicious. We often add some cubes of cooked bacon or ham or a dice of smoked salmon or mackerel to the sauce with the cooked macaroni.

 

8 ozs (225g) macaroni

6 pints (3.4 litres) water

2 teaspoons salt

 

2 ozs (50g) butter

2 ozs (50g) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 1/2 pints (850ml) boiling milk

1/4 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

5 ozs (150g) grated mature Cheddar cheese

1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top

¾ – 1lb (350 – 450g) diced cooked ham, turkey, chicken, pheasant or a mixture

 

1 x 2 pint (1.1 litre) capacity pie dish

 

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.

 

Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the diced cooked meat, mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately.

 

Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place.  Turn into a pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over the top.  Reheat in a preheated moderate oven – 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. It is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.

 

Top Tip: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce.  Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.

 

Roast Apples with Mincemeat

 

Serves 4

 

Use Irish Bramleys and make sure to cook them until they burst.

 

4 large cooking apples, preferably Crimson Bramleys

4 tablespoons of homemade mince meat

a little water

softly whipped cream or crème fráiche

 

Core the apples and score the skin of each around the ‘equator’. Put the apples onto an ovenproof dish large enough to take them in a single layer without touching. Fill the center of each apple with mincemeat.

 

Pour a little water around and roast in a preheated moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4 for about 1 hour depending on the size. They should be fluffy and burst slightly but still be fat and puffy not collapsed. Serve as soon as possible with softly whipped cream or crème fráiche.

 

Croque-Monsieur

 

 

A croque-monsieur is the quintessential Parisian sandwich.   It’s really no more than a grilled ham sandwich topped with grated cheese, but it appears in many different guises.   Sometimes a croque-monsieur is topped with a thick Mornay sauce, or transformed into a croque-madame with the addition of a fried egg on top.

 

Makes 1

 

a dab of butter

2 thin square slices best quality white bread (pain de mie in France)

1 slice cooked ham, cut to fit bread

1oz (25g) sliced Gruyère cheese

1 beaten egg and some cream or milk

 

Butter the slices of bread on one side.  Place the slices of ham and cheese on one buttered side and cover with the other slice of bread.

Whisk the egg with the cream or milk. Dip both sides of the sandwich into the mixture.

Melt a little butter on a pan over a medium heat, cook first on one side, then on the other until the surface is golden and the cheese is soft and bubbly. Eat immediately while hot. Serve alone or with a good salad – Bon appetit!

 

Pannetone Bread and Butter Pudding

 

Bread and Butter Pudding is a most irresistible way of using up leftover bread, croissants, brioche or barmbrack – this is a particularly delicious recipe made with pannetone.

 

Serves 6-8

 

12 slices Pannetone or good-quality white bread, crusts removed

2 ozs (50g) butter, preferably unsalted

1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg or cinnamon

7 ozs (200g) Lexia raisins or plump sultanas

16 fl ozs (475ml) cream

8 fl ozs (225ml) milk

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or a dash of Eau de Vie or brandy

6 ozs (175g) sugar

1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of the pudding

 

Garnish

softly-whipped cream

1 x 8 inches (20.5cm) square pottery or china dish

 

Butter the pannetone or bread and arrange 4 slices, buttered side down, in one layer in a dish.  Sprinkle with half the nutmeg or cinnamon and half the raisins, arrange another layer of bread, buttered side down, over the raisins, and sprinkle the remaining spice and fruit on top.  Cover the raisins with the remaining pannetone or bread, buttered side down.

 

In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, eau de vie or brandy if using and sugar.  Pour the mixture through a sieve over the pudding.  Sprinkle the sugar over the top and let the mixture stand, covered loosely, at room temperature for at least 1 hour or chill overnight.

 

Bake in a bain-marie – the water should be half way up the sides of the baking dish.  Bake in the middle of a preheated oven, 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden.  Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.

 

Hot Tips

 

Stocking Fillers

Find of the week: I loved the Atlantic Seaweed Salt from the Organic Herb Company that I found on the tables at the glitzy Good Food Ireland Awards at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin recently, a perfect stocking filler.  www.organicherbco.com

 

Rattling your brains for a last minute present? Why not give a gift that will last a lifetime, a Ballymaloe Cookery School gift token, you too will get the benefit!  phone 021 4646785 or purchase online www.cookingisfun.ie

 

The sublime new seasons Capezzana Extra Virgin Olive oil has just arrived from Tuscany, at Ballymaloe Cookery School shop. There is no greater treat for your foodie friend, a drizzle makes everything into a feast! Also at the Ballymaloe stall in the Midleton Farmer’s Market on Saturday 22nd December from 8:30am to 2:00pm www.midletonfarmersmarket.com

 

Bridgestone Guides make a great little gift – 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland, 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland and The Irish Food Guide – evocative prose, no house should be without one even if it’s only to dream…

 

Five Stocking Fillers for the Wine Buff

Hugh Johnson’s pocket Wine Guide – a little gem for the wine buff in your life.  Vacu-Vin Wine pump is a brilliant toy, you can extract the air from a wine bottle and keep the wine in perfect condition for another night! Drop Stop – non drippers, a brilliant invention – flexible silver discs that be inserted into the neck of the bottle to avoid drips. Screwpull Cork Screw – a very expensive bottle opener but once again it’s a gift for life – I still have one after 20 years, while at least 10 others have come and gone.  Available in all good wine and kitchen shops.

 

Delicious Recipes for Christmas Leftovers

By now the Christmas frenzy is building up. Hopefully the cake and plum pudding are made and you’ve decided whether its turkey or goose. Maybe you’ve plumped for a fine roast chicken, maybe a pheasant or a nice glazed ham. One way or the other you’ll probably have some little scraps left over that can be added to salads, a gratin or even a bubbly ‘mac and cheese.’ The latter is delicious cooked in tiny muffin tins lined with parchment till the edges get crispy – serve with drinks.

Fresh Brussels sprouts make delicious salads, peel off the outer leaves and mix with a good dressing and maybe some pumpkin seeds.  The classic Croque Monsieur is a posh cheese and ham sandwich – a real favourite with the French and a brilliant way to use up some thin slices of left over ham, everyone including kids will love it.

 

Offer to take your friends turkey carcasses, they may pity you but you’ll have the last laugh. The carcass makes a brilliant stock, good enough to sip as a soothing broth but also great as the basis of a light soup embellished with shreds of leftover turkey, pheasant, or chicken.

 

Left over pannetone or even barmbrack makes a terrific bread and butter pudding, you may want to add a few more sultanas and perhaps a scattering of diced ginger.

 

Mincemeat keeps well but it can used in so many yummy ways, with apple in tarts or tartlets, in a crumble or tray bake or even as a stuffing for a baked apple. Here’s a few suggestions to use up left overs in dishes I enjoy.

 

A Happy Christmas and hope 2013 brings much joy and the blessing of many delicious meals with family and friends around the kitchen table.

 

Turkey, Orzo, Pea and Spring Onion Broth

 

Super light and refreshing, a particularly delicious way of using up scraps of cooked turkey or other poultry.

 

Serves 6

 

1 litre (1 ¾ pints) turkey, chicken or pheasant stock

50g (2oz) orzo pasta

2 tender stalks celery, finely sliced at an angle

pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

150 – 175g (5 – 6 oz) shredded cooked turkey, chicken or pheasant

110g (4oz) frozen peas

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 – 6 spring onions, sliced at an angle (depending on size)

lots of fresh coriander and/or fresh mint leaves

 

Bring the stock to the boil; add the orzo, celery and chilli flakes. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the pasta is just cooked, add the peas and shredded chicken. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with spring onions and lots of fresh coriander and/or mint.

 

 

Brussels Sprout Salad with Avocado and Toasted Pecans

 

Pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts would be good here also. If separating the leaves of the Brussels sprouts is too much of a mission, just shred them finely instead, however the individual leaves look and taste great.

 

 

(450g) 1lb fresh Brussels sprouts, leaves separated

2 ripe but slightly firm avocados

1 – 2 blood oranges (depending on size)

25 – 50g (1 – 2 oz) pecans, toasted

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

flat leaf parsley sprigs

 

Dressing

 

finely grated zest of 1 preferably organic lemon

2 tablespoons squeezed lemon juice

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Whisk all the ingredients for the salad dressing together.

 

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/Mark 4. Toast the pecans in a single layer for 8 – 10 minutes. Peel the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts (keep the centres for another dish) Put into a bowl. Segment the blood oranges, add to the bowl. Whisk the dressing, add any spare orange juice and sprinkle some over the salad and toss gently. Turn out onto a wide platter, halve, stone and slice the avocado, arrange haphazardly op top. Sprinkle with warm toasted pecans, hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds and lots of flat parsley sprigs. Taste and correct seasoning.

 

Mac and Cheese

 

Serves 6

 

Macaroni cheese is all over menus in the US, once again, comforting and delicious. We often add some cubes of cooked bacon or ham or a dice of smoked salmon or mackerel to the sauce with the cooked macaroni.

 

8 ozs (225g) macaroni

6 pints (3.4 litres) water

2 teaspoons salt

 

2 ozs (50g) butter

2 ozs (50g) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 1/2 pints (850ml) boiling milk

1/4 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

5 ozs (150g) grated mature Cheddar cheese

1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top

¾ – 1lb (350 – 450g) diced cooked ham, turkey, chicken, pheasant or a mixture

 

1 x 2 pint (1.1 litre) capacity pie dish

 

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.

 

Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the diced cooked meat, mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately.

 

Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place.  Turn into a pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over the top.  Reheat in a preheated moderate oven – 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. It is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.

 

Top Tip: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce.  Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.

 

Roast Apples with Mincemeat

 

Serves 4

 

Use Irish Bramleys and make sure to cook them until they burst.

 

4 large cooking apples, preferably Crimson Bramleys

4 tablespoons of homemade mince meat

a little water

softly whipped cream or crème fráiche

 

Core the apples and score the skin of each around the ‘equator’. Put the apples onto an ovenproof dish large enough to take them in a single layer without touching. Fill the center of each apple with mincemeat.

 

Pour a little water around and roast in a preheated moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4 for about 1 hour depending on the size. They should be fluffy and burst slightly but still be fat and puffy not collapsed. Serve as soon as possible with softly whipped cream or crème fráiche.

 

Croque-Monsieur

 

 

A croque-monsieur is the quintessential Parisian sandwich.   It’s really no more than a grilled ham sandwich topped with grated cheese, but it appears in many different guises.   Sometimes a croque-monsieur is topped with a thick Mornay sauce, or transformed into a croque-madame with the addition of a fried egg on top.

 

Makes 1

 

a dab of butter

2 thin square slices best quality white bread (pain de mie in France)

1 slice cooked ham, cut to fit bread

1oz (25g) sliced Gruyère cheese

1 beaten egg and some cream or milk

 

Butter the slices of bread on one side.  Place the slices of ham and cheese on one buttered side and cover with the other slice of bread.

Whisk the egg with the cream or milk. Dip both sides of the sandwich into the mixture.

Melt a little butter on a pan over a medium heat, cook first on one side, then on the other until the surface is golden and the cheese is soft and bubbly. Eat immediately while hot. Serve alone or with a good salad – Bon appetit!

 

 

Pannetone Bread and Butter Pudding

 

 

Bread and Butter Pudding is a most irresistible way of using up leftover bread, croissants, brioche or barmbrack – this is a particularly delicious recipe made with pannetone.

 

Serves 6-8

 

12 slices Pannetone or good-quality white bread, crusts removed

2 ozs (50g) butter, preferably unsalted

1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg or cinnamon

7 ozs (200g) Lexia raisins or plump sultanas

16 fl ozs (475ml) cream

8 fl ozs (225ml) milk

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or a dash of Eau de Vie or brandy

6 ozs (175g) sugar

1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of the pudding

 

Garnish

softly-whipped cream

1 x 8 inches (20.5cm) square pottery or china dish

 

Butter the pannetone or bread and arrange 4 slices, buttered side down, in one layer in a dish.  Sprinkle with half the nutmeg or cinnamon and half the raisins, arrange another layer of bread, buttered side down, over the raisins, and sprinkle the remaining spice and fruit on top.  Cover the raisins with the remaining pannetone or bread, buttered side down.

 

In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, eau de vie or brandy if using and sugar.  Pour the mixture through a sieve over the pudding.  Sprinkle the sugar over the top and let the mixture stand, covered loosely, at room temperature for at least 1 hour or chill overnight.

 

Bake in a bain-marie – the water should be half way up the sides of the baking dish.  Bake in the middle of a preheated oven, 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden.  Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.

 

 

Hot Tips

 

Stocking Fillers

Find of the week: I loved the Atlantic Seaweed Salt from the Organic Herb Company that I found on the tables at the glitzy Good Food Ireland Awards at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin recently, a perfect stocking filler.  www.organicherbco.com

 

Rattling your brains for a last minute present? Why not give a gift that will last a lifetime, a Ballymaloe Cookery School gift token, you too will get the benefit!  phone 021 4646785 or purchase online www.cookingisfun.ie

 

The sublime new seasons Capezzana Extra Virgin Olive oil has just arrived at Ballymaloe Cookery School shop. There is no greater treat for your foodie friend, a drizzle makes everything into a feast! Also at the Ballymaloe stall in the Midleton Farmer’s Market on Saturday 22nd December from 8:30am to 2:00pm www.midletonfarmersmarket.com

 

Bridgestone Guides make a great little gift – 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland, 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland and The Irish Food Guide – evocative prose, every house shouldn’t be without them even if it’s only to dream…

 

Five Stocking Fillers for the Wine Buff

Hugh Johnson’s pocket Wine Guide – a little gem for the wine buff in your life.  Vacu-Vin Wine pump is a brilliant toy, you can extract the air from a wine bottle and keep the wine in perfect condition for another night! Drop Stop – non drippers, a brilliant invention – flexible silver discs that be inserted into the neck of the bottle to avoid drips. Screwpull Cork Screw – a very expensive bottle opener but once again it’s a gift for life – I still have one after 20 years, while at least 10 others have come and gone.  Available in all good wine and kitchen shops.

Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre and some Thrifty Recipes

Just back from the 2012 edition of the international Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, Slow Food’s biannual event which brings together small-scale farmers, artisan producers, fishermen, experts, academics, chefs and young people from over 160 countries. A mind blowing event and an increasing important forum of exchange between producers, consumers and experts on a variety of food issues from biodiversity, food waste, animal welfare, seed saving and patenting of seed. Edible Education and school gardens, land grabbing…indigenous people and local food sovereignty

The opening speech was given by the Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), José Graziano da Silva. He emphasised the close links between Slow Food and the FAO, with a focus on the problem of hunger in the world. “We can unite our forces in the fight for sufficient food for everyone,” he said. He identified food waste as a crucial problem. “If we managed to cut total food loss and waste by half we would have enough food to feed 1 billion more people”, he said. Da Silva’s message was clear: “with hunger, the only number acceptable is zero”.

A series of speakers then took their turn on stage, bringing stories from every corner of the globe and inspiring both outrage and hope with their experiences. Their stories were recounted through the “words of Terra Madre”, key themes that define the Slow Food movement’s primary concerns. Carlos Vanegas Valdebenito from Chiloé Island, Chile, spoke poetically of Earth. Indian activist and Slow Food vice-president Vandana Shiva talked about Seeds: the “genocide” of farmer suicides in her country and the scandal of biopiracy. Carmen Martinez, from the Slow Food Tehuacán Amaranth Presidium in Mexico, talked about Water, and Dario Fo, Nobel Laureate in Literature, about Hunger, with a bravura performance in the Commedia dell’Arte tradition telling the story of a starving peasant. After a musical interlude from Roy Paci and a multi-ethnic group of musicians, Nikki Henderson from the People’s Grocery in Oakland, California and Alice Waters, Slow Food vice-president and chef, talked about Education. Sergej Ivanov from Serbia spoke about biodiversity, Yoko Sudo from Fukushima, Japan about Energy and Edward Mukiibi, coordinator of the Thousand Gardens in Africa project in Uganda, about Network.

Salone del Gusto is the biggest food fair in the entire world, bigger than SIAL in Paris or the Fancy Food Fair in New York, except it’s all made up of artisan food producers, olive oil and wine makers. Over 200,000 people pour into it over a weekend and leave with bags bulging with foods not just from Europe but from all over the world.

Terra Madre – this is the 5th year. Delegates from 93 countries spoke succinctly for just 5 minutes at the two day Slow Food International Congress which ran concurrently with Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre this year. Slow Food is now emerging as a very strong political voice on a global scale and Terra Madre is showing the way towards a new sustainable form of agriculture which many governments are reluctantly been forced to consider.

The Slow Food Youth Movement has really gathered momentum since the last Terra Madre event in 2010. It’s particularly strong in the Netherlands, Germany, UK and US.

The fight against Food Waste has become a major focus for Slow Food. At present approximately 40% of the food harvest goes to waste. Several countries have brilliant initiatives to heighten awareness of this problem and redistribute ‘food waste’.

In Berlin the Slow Food Youth had a Schnippeldisco (chopping disco) where more than 200 people chopped 1.2 tonnes of discarded vegetables and made massive pots of soup as an ‘act of culinary resistance’ that filled the tummies of 8,000 people next day. Next one is on January 19th in Berlin – I’m hoping to go!

See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JUWFaY0T4Q a brilliant You Tube on the event.

We all need as many thrifty tips for Christmas as possible in this economic climate. I’ve just been to the shops and seen breadcrumbs for sale for more than the price of a loaf of bread for a 250g (9oz) bag, so let me share the secret of how to make your own – it’s so easy and they freeze perfectly for stuffings, gratins, croquettes or buttered crumbs.

 

How to Make Your Own Homemade Bread Crumbs

 

First save all left over white bread, for white bread crumbs, cut off the crusts (save for dried crumbs) (see below).

 

Tear each slice into 3 or 4 pieces, drop into a liquidiser or food processor, whizz for 30 seconds to a minute, hey presto – bread crumbs.  Use immediately or freeze in convenient size bags for use another time.  If you use crumbs include the crusts.  The breadcrumbs will be flecked with lots of crust but these are fine for stuffings and any other dish where the crumbs do not need to be white.

 

Before the days of liquidisers and food processors, we made bread crumbs by grating squares of stale bread or the coarsest part of a box grater.  The breadcrumbs were not as uniform as those made in a whizzer but will be absolutely fine.

 

Dried Bread Crumbs.

 

Put the crusts off the bread slices, spread out on a baking tray.  Bake in a low oven (100°C/220°F/Gas Mark 1/4) for 2 – 3 hours.  Cool, liquidise the dry crusts a few at a time into fine bread crumbs.  Sieve and store in a screw top jar or a plastic box as until needed.  No need to freeze, they keep for months.  Use for coating cheese or fish croquettes

Make Your Own Suet

 

Of-course one can buy suet ready-prepared in packets but it’s very easy to do it yourself at home. Your butcher will probably give you the suet for free because there is so little demand.  Coeliacs need to be aware that ready-prepared suet usually contains white flour.

 

Suet comes from the fat that protects the beef kidney. Suet and dripping (the rendered suet) seem to have fallen out of favour, but chips fried in beef fat and potatoes roasted in it are lovely. The flavour is much better and, incidentally, beef dripping has more vitamin B and despite its reputation is considerably better for you than cheap, trans-fat ridden cooking oils. People now make plum puddings with butter because they’re so paranoid of eating the wrong kinds of fat, but I’m still a great fan of the traditional plum puddings made in the classic way with suet, as they have a better flavour and texture. Serve these on hot plates, though, because if suet congeals it’s distinctly unappetising. Use for Plum Pudding or many other comforting suet puddings.

 

Strictly speaking, beef dripping is the fat and the meat juices that render out of a joint of roast beef while it’s cooking, whereas suet or tallow is fat just rendered from fat surrounding the beef kidney. However, nowadays the term ‘dripping’ is colloquially used to refer to all of these.

 

How to Prepare your own Suet and Save Money

 

Start by asking your butcher for the fat that surrounds beef kidneys.

 

Remove and discard the papery membrane and any red veins or fragments of meat. If you’re not meticulous about this, these bits will deteriorate and the suet won’t keep properly. The fat will separate into natural divisions. Chop it coarsely and either mince or whizz it in a food-processor for a minute or two until it’s evenly grainy (years ago, people used to grate suet on a simple box grater). Refrigerate and use within a couple of days, but if it has been properly trimmed it will keep for weeks in a fridge.

 

Homemade Croutons

 

A terrific standby at any time but particularly around Christmas. Croutons can be made even a day ahead with oil flavoured by sprigs of rosemary, thyme or onion. Cut into cubes or stamp out into various shapes – stars, clubs, diamonds or hearts or whatever else takes your fancy – and sprinkle over salads or serve with soups.

 

Serves 4

 

slightly stale white bread, 5mm (1⁄4in) thick

olive oil or sunflower

 

First cut the crusts off the bread, then cut into 5mm (1⁄4in) strips and finally exact cubes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. It should be at least 2cm (3⁄4in) deep and almost smoking. Put a tin sieve over a Pyrex or stainless-steel bowl.

Add the croutons to the hot oil. Stir once or twice; they will colour almost immediately. When the croutons are golden brown in colour seconds later, pour the oil and croutons into the sieve and drain on kitchen paper. Reheat the oil to cook another batch or use for another purpose.

 

Cheat’s Tarts with Various Fillings

 

Usually I’m frightfully snooty about sliced bread but this a brilliant trick shown to us by one of my favourite cookery writers Eric Treuille when he came to teach at the school a few years ago. It makes crisp little tartlets perfect as a base for canapés.

 

Here are a number of fillings one could use. Look in your fridge, experiment and use fresh herbs and herb flowers. Unfilled Cheat’s Tarts will keep in an airtight tin for several days.

 

Wild Salmon Pâté with cucumber pickle and dill, Chicken Liver Pâté with sun blush tomatoes, Goat cheese and kumquat compote, Goat cheese with pesto and cherry tomato

Prawns or shrimp with guacamole and coriander, Crab Mayonnaise with grape tomatoes

Smoked mussels with mayo, Goat cheese, pequillo pepper and basil leaves

 

 

sliced white or brown bread (sliced pan)

 

rolling pin

tray of mini muffins buns

cutter 4.5cm (1 3/4 inches)

 

Preheat the oven 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.

 

Cut the crusts off the bread. Roll the bread very thinly with a rolling pin, it should be completely flat. Stamp out rounds with a 4.5cm (1 3/4 inches) cutter. Fit into the mini muffin tins. Bake for 5 – 7 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and fill as desired.

 

Mulled Wine Spices

 

Serves 8 approx.

 

Just before the festive season we make up lots of little packages with the sugar, spices and thinly pared lemon rind so when the pals arrive it’s just a question of opening a bottle of wine and warming it in a stainless steel saucepan with the spices.  Leftover mulled wine keeps for a few days and reheats perfectly.

 

1 bottle of good red wine

 

100-g (3 1/2oz) sugar, depending on the wine

thinly pared rind of 1 lemon

1 small piece of cinnamon bark

1 blade of mace

1 clove

 

1 square of muslin

 

Put the sugar, lemon rind, cinnamon bark, mace and the clove into a little square of muslin, tie with cotton string. Just add to a bottle of good red wine – warm slowly.  Serve hot, but not scalding otherwise your guests will have difficulty holding their glasses.

 

Hot Tips

Shanagarry OOOOBY (Out of Our Own Back Yard) Group along with other local producers will hold their Christmas Market on Sunday 16th December from 12pm to 4pm at the 18th Century Kilmahon House Courtyard, beside Stephen Pearce Pottery in Shanagarry, East Cork. Make lighter work of Christmas with homemade stuffing, pates, puddings, chutneys and ‘just out of the ground’ fresh produce from OOOBY.

Mahon Point Special Christmas Market – Saturday 22nd December 10am – 2pm www.mahonpointfarmersmarket.com

Waterford Winterville Festival runs until Sunday 23rd December www.winterval.ie.

 

Traditional Farm Poultry – Robbie Fitzsimmon from East Ferry Free Range is still taking orders for his plump free-range turkeys, geese and chicken for Christmas feasting.

086 8548574 info@eastferryfreerange.com

 

Festive Afternoon Tea – Get together with new friends, old friends or best friends for a special and indulgent Christmas treat – Festive Afternoon Tea in front of a roaring fire in the drawing room at Knockeven House in Cobh, Co Cork – how tempting does that sound? phone 021 4811778 or email info@knockevenhouse.com

 

 ‘Pop-Up Christmas Wine Shop’ in The Grain Store – Ballymaloe House every weekend until Christmas – Saturdays 11.00am – 4.00pm Sundays 12.30pm – 4.00pm. Wondering where to find something quirky but delicious to serve for the festive season? Ballymaloe House Sommelier Colm McCan who will offer some brilliant advice and tempting tastings.

021 4652531-0 www.ballymaloe.ie

 

 

Wild Game

The wild game season is well and truly under way again, I love game but lots of people have been telling me that they haven’t the foggiest idea how to go about preparing or cooking it. So who better than George Gossip to give us all a Master class in everything from how to identify the birds to plucking, gutting, stuffing, trussing …

George is unquestionably the best game cook I know and a brilliantly entertaining teacher with an irreverent sense of humour. He and his wife Susie own Ballinderry Park, a beautiful Hidden Ireland guest house near Ballinasloe in Co Galway which they restored from an advanced state of dereliction. He loves and is deeply knowledgeable about the countryside and the environment and has been cooking and enjoying game for a very long time hence his extensive repertoire of both traditional and contemporary recipes.

 

For many plucking is a forgotten skill but if you are fortunate enough to get a present of a brace of pheasants in the feather it’s a bit embarrassing to have to ask the person to pluck them as well! So George showed us just how quickly one can pluck a bird. Do it outdoors or in the garage, tune in to your inner hunter gatherer, listen to your favourite music and enjoy! After a bit of practice, it’ll take less than 10 minutes.

 

Pigeons can be dealt with even faster, just insert your thumb under the breast bone of the un-plucked bird and draw both skin and feathers back off the breast, then detach from the carcass and discard the rest. You can of course pluck the entire bird but there’s very little meat on the legs and it tends to be tough and chewy.

I know it’s tempting to skin pheasants as well but try to resist because you’ll lose so much flavour. Furred game is hung by the back legs and feathered game by the head.

 

Hanging times depend on the weather and your preference.

Some people, me included, like game to taste really gamey, others prefer a milder flavour, it’s a matter of personal preference.

If the weather is mild, a couple of days will be long enough but during a frosty spell, game can hang for longer. A cool dry airy place is best and both birds and furred game are best hung individually rather than in pairs.

Game carcasses make a fantastic stock, the bones can be augmented with trimmings of birds that may have been badly shot. If you have some really intensely flavoured stock you might like to make petit pots de gibier. Pheasant will be in season until 31st January and certainly makes a welcome change from the eternal trinity of beef, chicken and farmed salmon.

Venison too is widely available; a haunch will feed 20 or more for a dinner party. The seared loin is easier but the minced shoulder and belly make fantastic venison sausages – and George’s recipe is the best I have come across. Rabbit is classified as vermin not game and certainly deserves a revival. I love rabbit and wish I could find it more often on a restaurant menu.

George introduced us to this recipe for Carpaccio of Rabbit which comes from Lindy Wildsmith’s excellent book Cured.

We served it on rocket leaves with some myrtle (myrthus ugni) berries.

Another delicious surprise was Heston Blumenthal’s Choucroute Recipe, it’s sort of a cheat recipe for sauerkraut but so good and a brilliant accompaniment to game.

 

 

Seared Carpaccio of Rabbit Loin

 

The loin is the crème de la crème of the rabbit meat.  A truly delicate and dainty dish.

 

Serves 4 as a starter

 

1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed

4 rabbit loins cut from 2 jointed rabbits

 

To Joint a Rabbit Loin

 

Run a sharp, short-bladed knife close to and along the length of the spine.  Pull the loin away from the spine.  Run the blade under the loin cutting it free from the bone.  The first loin is now detached from the bone.  Repeat on the other side.  The two loins should now be detached from the bone.

 

Mix the finely chopped parsley, salt and crushed coriander seeds together.  Level the seasoning out on a chopping board and roll the lamb in it until completely and evenly coated.  Wrap in Clingfilm and freeze for a couple of hours or overnight.

 

When ready to serve, heat a frying pan large enough to contain the rabbit loin over a high heat.  Add enough oil to cover the base of the pan and put the rabbit loin in the pan.   Cook the rabbit loins until golden, but this will only take a minute or two, as they are very tender.

 

Cut the loins into 2cm (3/4 inch) thick slices and garnish with purple radish sprouts and rocket.

 

Venison Sausages

 

We like a very coarse meaty sausage with no extraneous ingredients. We do not use oatmeal or rusk, and the addition of diced bananas or cranberries is definitely not for us. That said, we do like plenty of good Dijon mustard and venison sausages are the perfect foil for spicy or fruity sauces and chutneys.

 

Natural Sausage Casings

 

5.4kg (12lbs) chopped venison (we used shoulder)

900g (2lbs) pork fat

900g (2lbs) lean pork meat

100g (31/2oz) salt

7g (3/4oz) ground black pepper

7g (3/4oz) ground nutmeg

slightly more than 7g (1/4oz) ground ginger

slightly more than 7g (1/4oz) ground cloves

water

 

Soak the sausage cases the previous night.

 

Next day, chop meats, mix together and mince. Add the seasonings gradually and fry up a number of little burgers to check that the flavouring is to your liking. Take great care not to over-salt.

 

When you are happy with the taste, add sufficient water to make the mixture malleable, and fill the casings, twist and link the sausages, and hang them up in hanks to dry.

 

These sausages do not contain preservative and should be eaten within four or five days unless you possess a Vac-pack machine which will allow you to keep them a little longer. And, as they do not contain any garlic, they freeze very well and are an ideal lunch or supper dish.

 

Uses

 

Venison Bangers ’n Mash, or with Colcannon

 

Or fry 6 sausages in olive oil with 3/4lb sliced potatoes, four medium onions (cut lengthwise in quarters) and half a dozen small carrots until cooked. Then, season and serve with plenty of mustard and a good strong salad.

 

Venison Sausages make good sausage rolls and they are good cold for picnics too.

 

Pheasant with Chorizo, Bacon and Tomatoes

 

The pheasant from a driven shoot rarely has quite as much flavour as a wild bird. This Spanish-style recipe is a particularly good one because the chorizo contributes lots of extra oomph!

 

Serves 6
2 pheasants, each cut into 4 serving portions
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
175g (6oz) good-quality streaky bacon cut into 1cm (1⁄2in) cubes
2 garlic cloves
2 large onions, sliced
450g (1lb) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons good-quality paprika – preferably sweet Hungarian
225g (8oz) chorizo sausage, sliced
thyme leaves and lots of parsley sprigs

Pilaff Rice, to serve

I cut the legs into two, the wings into two (assuming they are intact and not shot-off as sometimes happens) and take the breasts off the bone and cut them into two or three – along the seams rather than across the grain. The carcass can then be used to make a game stock. If this is done in advance the stock is used for cooking the pilaff rice.
Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until the fat runs and the bacon begins to crisp around the outside. Transfer to a casserole. Add the pheasant pieces to the frying pan and brown lightly a few at a time. Remove and add to the casserole.
Add the garlic and onion to the frying pan, toss, cover and sweat gently for 4–5 minutes. Remove the lid, add the chopped tomatoes and the salt, pepper and paprika (if you’re using tinned tomatoes, you might need a little sugar to help the flavour). Increase the heat. Add the chorizo. Cook briskly until the sauce thickens slightly.
Return the bacon and the pheasant pieces to the tomato sauce. Add the wings and thigh pieces first, and the breast sections a little later, because they will require less cooking. The casserole will need about 25 minutes in total. Check the seasoning. If the sauce has become too thick, stir in a little stock or water. Scatter with the thyme and flat parsley.

Serve the pheasant, surrounded by pieces of chorizo and bacon, on
a bed of pilaff rice – accompanied by a good green salad.

 

 

Heston Blumenthal’s Choucroute Recipe

100g (3 1/2oz) unsalted butter (I use salted)
400g  (14oz) peeled and finely sliced onion (approx 6 medium onions)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon juniper berries wrapped in a muslin bag (I use about 11/2 tablespoons and I don’t bother with the bag)
300ml (12fl oz) Gewurztramminer (I just use white wine)
50ml (2fl oz) white wine vinegar (I add more to taste)
salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 savoy cabbage
1 tablespoon groundnut or rapeseed oil
30g (1oz) smoked bacon lardons

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Sweat the onion, garlic and juniper berries until the onions are soft and lightly coloured (approximately 20 minutes).

Add vinegar and reduce for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Strain the onion and reserve both the onion and the liquor.

Cut the cabbage in half and remove the tough core. Separate the leaves and cut them into 5mm strips.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, then add the bacon and cook until lightly coloured. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Add cabbage to the pan and cook for approximately seven minutes. Mix in the onion, bacon and reserved cooking liquid and cook for another five minutes or until the cabbage is tender.

Check seasoning before serving. Heston Blumenthal says season with salt and pepper but I have been known to add more vinegar!

 

Jane Grigson’s Petits Pots De Gibier (Little Game Custards)

 

 

“For each person allow one (egg) yolk and 100 ml (3.5 oz) skimmed strained rich game stock. Beat together, add seasoning and pour into buttered custard cups. Put on the lids, stand in a pan of simmering water on top of the stove, and leave it for half an hour. Serve with toast or with the sandwiches of the following recipe.”

 

 

George Gossip finds it best as a starter for a rather smart dinner party, usually accompanied by Melba Toast. The choice of wine is difficult. Perhaps a very good sherry!

 

Hottips

 

By George! Game Courses with George Gossip at Ballinderry Park, Ballinasloe, Co Galway.

One day game course with game lunch and dinner on Tuesday 8th January 2013 with B&B available in the beautifully restored 18th century country home.

End of Season Game Weekend at Ballinderry Park – Friday 8th and Saturday 9th February 2013 which includes two nights B&B and two game dinners. George will do his excellent game cookery demonstrations on both dates – to enquire and to book phone 09096 86796 – www.ballinderrypark.com

A Call to Arms – Open meeting to discuss genetically modified organisms (GMOs). An Taisce will hold an open meeting on Saturday 8th December at 2pm at An Taisce, Tailors’ Hall, Back Lane, Dublin.

Join the discussion on GMOs, specifically the Teagasc trial on blight resistant GM potatoes, an opportunity for us to educate ourselves on the complex and important subject of GM issues for the future. John Sweeney – President of An Taisce will be the Chair. No admission charge but booking essential…  http://antaisce.eventbrite.ie/ to register.

Ballymaloe Cookery School 2013 Course Schedule Brochure arrived hot off the press last week – phone 021 4646785 to request one in the post.

There are still a few places left on Rachel Allen’s two and half day Festive Entertaining Cookery Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th December, to book – www.cookingisfun.ie or phone 021 4646785

 

Teresa Barry at Barry’s Garden Centre in Inch, Killeagh has special Gift Fruit Plant Packs –an ideal Christmas present the whole family will benefit from for years. The pack includes strawberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and raspberries, all perfect for cultivating in a small garden. Teresa will you give you good advice on how to plant and how to get the best yields – http://barrysgardencentre.ie/ phone 086 2508437

Guilt Free Gourmet

Can you imagine that a book with recipes that don’t contain dairy, sugar or wheat, vaporised out of my ‘in tray’ in double quick time a few weeks ago and hasn’t been seen since.  Annoying as that may be, this is definitely a compliment to the authors of Guilt Free Gourmet and of course indicates a growing demand for ‘free from’ recipes – the biggest growth area in food.

I particularly wanted to browse through the book because it was written by a recent graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Jordan Bourke did a 12 Week Certificate Course with us here in April 2010. He was ‘properly’ interested in food and flavour and super fresh produce. After the course he was snapped up by Skye Gyngell at the Michelin starred Petersham Nurseries in London.

Jordan is originally from Dublin but has lived in London for almost 10 years now, his passion for healthy food runs in the family. His sister Jessica with whom he wrote this book is a much sought after nutritional therapist. Jordan cooks for private clients in London specialising in cooking food for optimum health, weight loss and nutrition.

Their first book was written in response to countless pleas from clients, friends and family for the recipes for the indulgent yet guilt free food they tasted. Where have we heard that before – all sounds a bit too good to be true? Well, I have to tell you that Jordan and Jessica are the real deal and the book delivers what it ‘says on the tin’

By the way, Jordan now also gives cooking classes in Clapham, London with Tara Wiggley another Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate who worked at Moro with Sam and Sam Clarke. She currently works at  Ottolenghi in London with Yotam and Sami developing and testing recipes.

 

Jordan and Tara’s next cookery class is on Friday 7th December for details visit www.jordanbourke.com

 

The Guilt Free Gourmet by Jordan and Jessica Bourke is published by Ryland, Peters & Small Ltd.

 

Jordan Bourke’s Beetroot Burgers with Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise

 

There is no question that reducing the amount of meat in your diet is not only good for your health but also for the planet. So before you go running for the hills at the mention of a ‘veggie’ burger, at least taste this one before you make any judgments. It is not an attempt to replicate a beef burger but it is very similar in texture, just as satisfying, and has gone down really well with my carnivore friends.

 

handful of fresh dill

handful of fresh parsley

leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme

350g (12oz) beetroot, grated

150g (5oz) carrot, finely grated

120g (4 ¾ oz) oatmeal

3 eggs

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

wheat-free bread rolls

rocket

cherry tomatoes, halved

 

Jordan’s Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise

 

300 ml good extra virgin olive oil

300ml (10fl oz) sunflower oil

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

squeeze of lemon juice

3 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

 

Slaw

1⁄2 small celeriac, cut into thin matchsticks

1⁄2 red cabbage, very thinly sliced

2 carrots, shredded

1 red onion, thinly sliced

small handful of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

2 eating apples

grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of 1⁄2

 

Makes about 10

 

Finely chop the herbs. Thoroughly combine with the beetroot, carrot, oatmeal, eggs, onion and garlic in a bowl, making sure the eggs and herbs are evenly distributed. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes.

To make the wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, you can use a food processor or an electric whisk. Either way, combine the oils in a jug. Put the egg yolks, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in the food processor bowl or a mixing bowl. As you start to process/whisk, very slowly feed in the oils a little at a time until the mixture begins to emulsify and come together. Once this happens you can add the oil a bit faster, but never be tempted to fire it all in otherwise the mayonnaise will split. I always have a little cup of boiling water ready, as a few drops added in when it is looking like it might split usually brings it back together. Once you have added all the oil, stir in the wholegrain mustard and refrigerate until needed.

To make the slaw, combine the celeriac, cabbage, carrots, onion, hazelnuts and most of the parsley in a bowl. When you are ready to serve the slaw, cut the apple into thin half-moon slices, getting rid of the core, and mix into the bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons of the wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon oil, the lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper and mix well with your hands. Taste and if necessary, add a little extra salt, olive oil or wholegrain mustard.

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4.

To make the burgers, form about 10 patties with your hands. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over low heat and fry the burgers until just browned – 2–3 minutes on each side. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Toast the bread rolls or pita bread, if you like. Cut them open and spread the wholegrain mustard mayonnaise on the inside. Add the rocket, some halved tomatoes, some slaw and a burger.

 

Jordan Bourke’s Polenta Pizza

 

Polenta can be served in soft and gloopy form, or it can be cooked a little further to dry it out and then grilled/broiled to achieve a firmer, ‘breadier’ base layer. Either way it can be dreadfully bland if it’s not seasoned generously. I love this grilled version, as it soaks up all the juices from the toppings served with it and it has a satisfying texture. Totally guilt free, as it is made from corn, this is a fantastic lunch or dinner dish to share with friends.

 

2 teaspoons bouillon stock powder

200g (7oz) polenta/yellow cornmeal

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 garlic cloves, crushed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 head of rainbow or Swiss chard

extra virgin olive oil

200g (7oz) girolle/golden chanterelle mushrooms

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 egg

bunch of fresh marjoram

large baking sheet, oiled

 

Serves 6

 

Bring 1 litre water to the boil and add the bouillon powder. Reduce the heat and slowly pour in the polenta/cornmeal, whisking all the time until blended. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting, add half the lemon zest and juice, 4 of the crushed garlic cloves, the thyme and a good pinch of salt and pepper and gently cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until the polenta pulls away from the side of the pan and is very thick.

Meanwhile, bring another pan of water to the boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and boil the chard for about 3–4 minutes until the thick part is just tender, but not limp. If the root end of the chard is very thick, separate it from the leaves and boil each part separately until just tender. Remove, drain and season with some salt and oil.

In the meantime, don’t forget to stir the polenta!

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another pan over medium–high heat. Fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes or until just golden and tender. Add 1 of the crushed garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds to release the garlic flavour, but don’t let it burn. Transfer to a bowl, toss with the parsley and season with salt, the remaining lemon zest and juice, and some olive oil.

When the polenta is ready, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread out to a thickness of about 2 cm. Allow to cool and firm up for 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill.

Scatter the mushrooms and chard over the top of the polenta. Crack an egg carefully into the middle and grill for about 4–5 minutes or until the egg is cooked.

Meanwhile, pull the leaves off the marjoram stalks and finely chop. Mix the chopped leaves with the last crushed garlic clove and mix with enough oil to form a loose marjoram oil.

Remove the polenta from the grill, slide onto a board and drizzle the marjoram oil over the top. Serve immediately.

 

Jordan Bourke’s Red Pepper & Smoked Paprika Soup with Basil Oil & Vegetable Crisps

 

I can’t tell you how comforting this soup is. The sweet smoked paprika and the gentle heat from the chilli warm up even the most wind-swept and bitterly cold winter days. The root vegetable crisps work very well with it, adding a lovely and satisfying crunch. Try and get the Spanish brands of sweet smoked paprika that come in little tins, as they have excellent flavour.

 

300g (10 ½ oz) baby plum tomatoes – as ripe and red as you can find

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 red onions, chopped

2 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 red peppers, seeded and chopped

1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes

700ml (1 ½ pints) vegetable stock

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

8–10 fresh basil leaves

vegetable crisps (you can get these in good supermarkets and any root vegetable will do, eg. parsnip, sweet potato or beetroot)

 

Serves 6–8

 

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4.

Toss the tomatoes in a little oil and salt on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until they have shrivelled up a bit and the skins have popped open.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add the onions, chillies and garlic and sweat out until the onions are translucent. Add 2 pinches of salt. Add the peppers and potato and cook over low–medium heat for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.

Add the roasted tomatoes and all the juices and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are completely soft. Using a food processor or blender, liquidize the soup until smooth. Return to the pan and add the paprika. Season to taste – it will need more salt and some pepper.

Finely chop the basil and mix together with tablespoons olive oil. Ladle the soup into bowls, then with a teaspoon swirl some of the basil oil over the top and lightly place a few vegetable crisps in the middle of the soup. Serve immediately.

 

Guilt-free because…

Red peppers are high in a number of important antioxidants. It is the combination of vitamins C, E and the carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin) that ensure they pack a strong nutritious punch. Zeaxanthin is found in high levels in the retina of the eye, which means red (bell) peppers should form part of any diet used to help those with macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also known to improve the elasticity of the skin as well as a reduction in skin lipid oxidation, a common cause of skin aging.

 

Jordan Bourke’s Chocolate Tart

 

Convincing people that food, especially desserts, made without sugar, wheat and dairy can actually taste good, let alone delicious, is an almost impossible task, which is why I adore this chocolate tart. It will convert even the greatest cynics who protest that no dessert free of sugar, wheat and dairy could possibly taste as good as their more sinful cousins. After tasting this, I guarantee your family and friends will admit defeat and beg you for the recipe, as well as another slice!

sea salt

100 g (3 ½ oz) best-quality dark/bittersweet chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids

 

Base

10 pitted dates

150 g (5oz) pecans, lightly roasted

125 g (4oz) Scottish oat cakes

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons agave syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

 

Filling

3 avocados, not too firm

4 tablespoons coconut oil

6 tablespoons agave syrup

1 tablespoon carob powder

5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons date syrup

 

20-cm/8-inch spring form pan, base lined with parchment paper

 

Serves 10–12

 

To make the base, blitz the dates in a food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients and a pinch of salt and blitz until everything comes together into

a sticky ball.

Press into the baking pan so that you have an even and smooth base for the tart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes until set.

To make the filling, cut the avocados in half, remove the stones and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, the remaining ingredients apart from the coconut oil, and blitz until smooth.

Melt the coconut oil in a pan over the lowest heat possible – this will only take a few moments. Turn on the food processor and pour the coconut oil into the mixture through the funnel. Once combined, pour the mixture onto the set tart base and smooth out the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or if you want it to set quickly, freeze it.

When you are ready to serve, warm the chocolate to just above room temperature to make it easier to grate. I find leaving it beside the oven when you are cooking for about 10 minutes does the trick. You want the chocolate to be just beginning to soften – not in any way gooey or melting, just not rock solid, so it grates easily in long strips.

Pop the tart out of the baking pan and transfer to a plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over, so it piles up high. The tart should be served fridge-cold so that it stays reasonably firm. It keeps wonderfully well and can easily be made a day in advance.

 

Guilt-free because…

 

Avocados are high in essential omega fats, which are food for the brain, nervous system, skin and hair. Contrary to popular belief, avocados do not make you fat! In fact, studies have shown that those who have high amounts of healthy fats like avocados (and indeed coconut oil) in their diet are more likely to be a healthy weight.

 

Hot Tips

 

Gloucester OId Spot Pork -two young lads aged 14 and 18 from Co Carlow bought their first pigs in 2008, they now have 40 pigs – wouldn’t one of those make a super Christmas pressie? – 059 9155058 – patrickmcinerney@me.com

 

Rocket Fuel – I love the way so many people are dreaming up new food products to sell. Possibly the best place to find innovation is at Farmer’s Markets. The Rocket Man aka Jack Crotty is now also doing a great granola and a drink labelled ‘Rocket Fuel’, a scary looking pink blueberry and ginger cordial that warms the cockles of your heart either hot or cold – so good – www.mahonpointfarmersmarket.com Jack Crotty – 086 822 9624

 

Free Range Birds for Christmas – Still time to order your free range Goose or a beautiful  Bronze Turkeys now from Dan and Ann Aherne from Ballysimon, Midleton, Co Cork or find them at Midleton Farmers Market very Saturday – 021 463 1058 – 086 165 9258.

 

Festive Wine Course with Colm McCan and Peter Corr at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday 13th December at 2:00pm to 5:30pm – €95.00 – 021 4646785 to book – www.cookingisfun.ie

 

Darina’s Book of the Week – Ever wondered how some of the classic dishes got their name, Beef Wellington, Tarte Tatin even a Reuben sandwich, what has meringue with ice-cream got to do with Alaska? Does chicken Kiev come from Kiev? Who was Arnold Bennet who created that wonderful smoked haddock omelette. Who invented Oysters Rockefeller, was it the president himself or was it created in his honour? Well, ‘Who Put the Beef in ‘Wellington’’ by James Winter has all the answers – published by Kyle Books.

 

Stevie Parle and Emma Grazette’s Spice Trip

Yippee, another book from Stevie Parle, one of the New Young Voices in food who is now really going into orbit – a couple of years ago I wrote about Stevie’s first book, Real Food from Near and Far and restaurant Dock Kitchen in Ladbroke Grove in West London. Stevie has achieved huge critical acclaim for his creative yet unpretentious and exceptionally delicious food cooking. He was chosen as Observer Young chef of the year in 2010 and writes a weekly column for the Daily Telegraph.

In just over two years, Stevie has written three books. In his latest book – Spice Trip The Simple Way to Make Food Exciting – he has linked up with Emma Grazette to document their incredible journey to all corners of the world to discover the secrets of six essential everyday spices.  For nutmeg and mace they went all the way toGrenada, next it was cloves inZanzibar, cumin inTurkey, cinnamon inIndia, beautiful black pepper inCambodiaand for chillies where else butMexico. As well as exploring the culinary uses of each spice, Emma also reveals their therapeutic value through the secrets she discovered from the remarkable people she met on her journey. The photographs are just gorgeous, rich, and evocative and enough to truly whet your appetite and spike the curiosity of even the most determined meat and two veg fan.

This book accompanies Stevie and Emma’s first TV series Spice Trip on More 4 on November 25th 2012.

 

Stevie Parle’s Swiss Chard with Cinnamon, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Vinegar

 

This is a great side dish, particularly with simply roasted chicken. Don’t worry if you can only find Swiss chard with fine stalks or no stalks at all, as it’s just as good. You can use spinach instead of chard.

1kg (2 ¼ lb) Swiss or rainbow chard, leaves stripped from stalk and stalk cut into1cm (1/4 in strips)

25g (1oz) butter

olive oil for frying

1 shallot, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

50g (2oz) pine nuts

6cm (2 ½ inch) cinnamon stick

a pinch of saffron threads soaked in boiling water

50g raisins, soaked in 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the chard leaves until soft, about 1 minute, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and lay them out on kitchen paper to drain and cool. In the same pan, boil the stalks until soft, about 10 minutes, then drain.

In a heavy based pan melt the butter with a splash of olive oil and gently fry the shallot with a pinch of salt over a low heat until soft and sweet, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, pine nuts and the cinnamon stick and continue to fry, stirring occasionally for five minutes, add the saffron water and raisins for the final minute.

Roughly chop the chard leaves and add to the pan, along with the stalks, Give it a good mix, season well and serve.

 

Musa’s Cumin Köfte with Melon and Tomato Salad

 

Serves 4 – 6

 

Köfte are Turkish meatballs, Musa Dugdeviren at the Ciya restaurant in Instanbul taught me how to make his köfte. He always cuts the meat by hand (I used the biggest knife I’ve ever seen, though he wasn’t too impressed with my knife skills) Of course you can use minced meat, as I’ve done here – you won’t quite get the crumbly texture of Musa’s köfte  but they will still taste great. It’s important to get enough fat in the mixture – as when making sausages or burgers – to keep the patties moist and tasty. I always use the beef fat as it’s not as greasy as lamb fat. I like to serve these with melon, tomato, chilli and feta salad.

 

For the Köfte

 

1 small red onion finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

a handful of parsley leaves finely chopped

a pinch of ground cinnamon

a pinch of ground allspice

a pinch of chilli flakes

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

250g (9oz) lamb mince

olive oil for frying

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

For the Salad

1kg (2 ¼ lb) watermelon or other small melon, such as cantaloupe or galia cut into large chunks

2 tomatoes cut into large chunks

100g (3 ½ oz) feta

A handful of mint leaves

1 chilli finely chopped

olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all the köfte ingredients, except for the oil in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Mix everything with your hands until the mixture is just combined but try not to over mix. With slightly wet hands, shape the meat into patties about 4cm (1 ½ inch) in diameter and press a finger in the middle of each patty to make an indentation.

To make the salad place the melon and tomatoes in a bowl and season. Break up the feta, tear in the mint, and sprinkle in the chilli. Drizzle generously with oil and squeeze the lemon juice over the salad. Toss very gently for a few seconds and then leave to sit while you cook the köfte.

Heat up a large pan with a good glug of oil. When the oil is hot, fry the köfte for 2 minutes on each side until golden and just cooked through. Serve with the salad.

 

Stevie Parle’s Cauliflower and Potato Curry

 

Serves 3

 

This is a brilliant dish to know as it’s incredibly cheap and immensely satisfying. It’s one I like to teach to people going off to ‘uni’ as it’s a great healthy staple. It also makes a terrific side dish for grilled meat or fish.

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm (3/4 in) cubes

olive oil for frying

1 red onion, sliced

2 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 x 5cm (2 inch) piece ginger peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 cauliflower, broken into large florets and leaves roughly chopped

A small bunch of coriander, leaves picked

3 tablespoons Greek Style yoghurt

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the potatoes to the boil in a pan of salted water and cook until tender. Drain and leave to cool.

Heat a little oil in a large, heavy based pan (with a lid) and gently fry the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Turn up the heat and add the cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle, add the ginger, ground coriander, turmeric and chilli, Stir for 1 minutes, adding a little extra oil if it begins to stick.

Add the cauliflower, followed by 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water and good pinch of salt. Place the lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is just done. Stir in the potatoes and coriander and finish by swirling in the yoghurt. Taste for seasoning and serve.

 

Stevie Parle’s Turkish Pizza

 

Makes 4

 

These are called lahmacun in Turkey and they’re one of my favourite snacks. This is a classic version, but there are loads of different ones so experiment as you like. The dough keeps in the fridge overnight but needs an hour to wake up before you roll it.

 

For the Dough

350ml (12fl oz) lukewarm water around 37ºC

1 tablespoon dried yeast

a pinch of sugar

2 tablespoons olive oil

500g (1 ¼ lb) strong white bread flour (or 00 pasta flour) plus extra for dusting

½ teaspoon table salt

 

For the Topping

300g (11oz) lamb mince

1 red onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 green chilli, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander

A pinch of Turkish chilli flakes or 1 red chilli, finely chopped optional

1 teaspoon sumac (optional)

a squeeze of lemon juice

sea salt

 

To Serve

A large handful of parsley leaves

A large handful of mint leaves

In a bowl mix the warm water with the yeast, sugar and oil. Leave for about 10 minutes to froth up. Leave for about 10 minutes to froth up. Meanwhile mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the liquid, then stir, gradually incorporating all of the liquid to make a sticky dough.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead until it is transformed into a glossy, stretchy dough. Return to the bowl, cover tightly with cligfilm and leave somewhere warm for about an hour. Once risen, turn out again and knead for a few more minutes.

Preheat the oven to its hottest setting 230 – 300ºC/450-450-474ºF/gas 8 – 9 and put a pizza stone or heavy roasting tray in to get really hot.

On a large board, chop together the lamb, onion, tomato, green chilli, garlic, cumin and coriander to make a smooth much. Season well.

On a well-floured surface, roll your dough into 4 large rounds, about ½ cm (1/4 inch) thick. Spread the lamb mix thinly on top of the dough. Remove the hot baking tray from the oven and very carefully transfer the lahmacuns onto it (you might find a tart tine base or something flat useful for this) Bake for about 5 minutes, until bubbly and slightly brown at the edges. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes and sumac if you want to. Add a squeeze of lemon and roll up with the parsley and mint leaves to eat.

 

Stevie Parle’s Cumin and Coriander Chicken Livers

 

Serves 4 – 6

 

This is quite a wet dish, so it’s best to serve it in a bowl, preferably with flatbread. The sauce is a green masala (hara masala) which you can add to lots of things from clams to fish to roast chicken.

 

2 bunches of coriander

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 x 5cm (2in) piece ginger

1 green chilli

a handful of cumin seeds, toasted and ground

juice of 1 lime, plus a squeeze for serving

olive oil

400g (14oz) chicken livers trimmed

2 tablespoons natural yoghurt

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

To Serve

Flatbread

In a food processor, blend the coriander, ginger, chilli, spices and lime juice with a glug of oil until you have a wet green paste. Season to taste. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the chicken livers.

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large, heavy based pan. When hot add the livers and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, turning once. Take off the heat, stir in the yoghurt and serve in bowls. Add an extra squeeze of lime to taste. Serve with a pile of flatbread.

 

Hottips

 

Tracton Community and Arts Centre Christmas Fair will take place on Sunday, 25th November from 10.30am to 5.30pm and will launch the first community bread and pizza oven in Ireland. Delicious woodfired pizza will be served along with local artisan food producers – Gidi Gur’s election of organic pitas and vegetarian food Tel. 087-2255608 Chloe’s Chocolates – Homemade chocolate truffles and chocolate biscuit cakes, Tel. 086-660 7105 East of Boston Foods (Barbara O’Mahony) – dessert sauces, relishes and honey, Tel. 021 477 0740 Ovenbuilder Hendrik Lepel (bakehus.com) in conjunction with Pompeii Pizza (087-7572615)- Delicious pizza from the new wood-fired oven. Finders Inn Gourmet Foods  (Aaron Mc Donnell) – A range of bread, soups and pates Tel. 087 2787070. For more information about the Christmas Fair, please contact: 086-0711910.

 

Look out for Wilkie Chocolates– Shana Wilkie is the only Bean to Bar Chocolate Maker in Ireland, she produces small hand tempered batches of premium organic chocolate made from cocoa beans sourced from the Amazon region in Peru. Her 75% Amazonian Organic Dark Chocolate won Best Organic Confectionary at Bord Bia National Organic Awards in September – www.wilkieschocolate.ie

A Gastronomic Foodie Day Out

Midway through every 12 Week Certificate Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we all pile onto a bus and go on a foodie tour. It’s not just a gastronomic foodie skite, the object of the exercise is to introduce the students (11 nationalities) this time, to as many inspirational food producers, restaurateurs, artisan brewers, cheese makers and great ideas as possible in one fun and action packed day. We start early. This time we began at 8am sharp with a short foraging walk through the farm down to Bill Casey’s Shanagarry Smokehouse. Bill started to smoke fish almost 30 years ago when he was made redundant from Cork Marts.  Ever since he’s been concentrating on smoking salmon.  “Keep it simple, do one thing and do it right” was Bill’s council to the students. Originally he sourced wild salmon from Ballycotton but nowadays he uses Irish organic farmed salmon which he smokes with a mixture of beech and oak chippings. Over the years he has built up a loyal clientele of local and overseas customers. The students tucked enthusiastically into slivers of salmon, fresh from the smoker before they piled on to the bus en route to Mahon Point Farmer’s Market.

Plenty of ideas here, over 40 forty entrepreneurs selling a fantastically good selection of fresh locally produced foods – home grown vegetables, fresh herbs and plants, farmhouse cheese, a variety of breads and home baking to make your mouth water. Then there was Glan Gluten for Coeliacs and those who have wheat intolerance. Fresh fish from Ballycotton and Schull being filleted at the speed of light, organic and free range chickens both fresh and roasted, heritage pork, cured meats, sausages and salamis. Homely meat pies flying off the stall, smoked fish and fish cakes, local honey, hand-made butter, cheese and thick unctuous yoghurt, and beautiful fresh milk (un- homogenised). Cake pops, cupcakes, macaroons and on and on.

The smell of freshly ground coffee pervades the market. My multi ethnic batch of students were mighty impressed, there’s also lots of tasty ready to eat food so I gave them a meal ticket to present to the stall of their choice.

If they fancied a steak sandwich with rocket and mushroom on crusty Arbutus bread, they headed to Lolo’s stall “Boeuf A Lolo”. Alternatively, they could order a wood fired pizza from Volcano Pizzas or a selection of curries or a bowl of steaming porridge with a decadent spice infused fruit topping from Green Saffron.  How about that for a choice. Later I found two new arrivals since my last visit, Jack Crotty, the Rocket Man with a selection of gorgeous salad and raita and a tantalizing drink called Rocket Fuel and Ian Browne with irresistible tiramisu and gooey chocolate fudge or sticky toffee pudding.

And there’s much, much more of beautiful quality and local and fresh and exceptional value.

It was pretty hard to entice everyone back on the bus but we needed to be at Fermoy Farmhouse Cheese by 12 noon. Here Frank Shinnick and his Swiss wife Gudrun have been adding value to their milk and making exceptional raw milk cheeses for over 15 years.

 

Slow Food created a presidia around St. Gall in 1992 and it was one of the most sought after of the Irish farmhouse cheese at the Salone del Gusto in Turin recently. Frank and Gudrun and their team continue to innovate and now make six different cheeses and a small quantity of yoghurt. Their natural yoghurt with elderberry puree is one of the most delicious new products I’ve tasted this year.

Next stop, Eight Degree Brewery. As mass produced beers have got more and more dull in recent years, craft brewing has really taken off in response to the deep craving for beers with character. The boys from Eight Degree Brewery on the outskirts of Mitchelstown are producing some terrific bottles and I can tell you the students liked it a lot and so did I, difficult to decide which we liked best.

Sunburnt Irishman, Howling Gale or Knockmealdown Porter made by an Aussie and a Kiwi, Cameron Wallace and Scott Baigent who are having the best fun producing some really terrific beer and they can scarcely keep up with the demand – ask your local pub to stock it.

From there our jolly bunch went over the Knockmealdown mountains to visit the Old Convent in Clogheen, Dermot and Christine Gannon have created a romantic retreat with just seven bedrooms and a restaurant where they serve a seven course dinner menu made up almost entirely of locally produced foods. Christine had sweetly invited three of their suppliers, Kitty Colchester from Urlingford who makes my favourite organic rape seed oil. Julie Finke from Ballybrado Organic Farm who gave us a taste of her new organic spelt brown bread mix (with wonder food ceci included) and her “Little Bakers” Kid’s cake mix. Both these girls are second generation farmers again adding value to their raw materials. Alan of Baldwin’s ice cream had no difficulty encouraging people to taste; I particularly loved the caramel fudge ice cream and still feel guilty that I finished a whole tub.

Finally we whizzed over to the Apple Farm just outside Cahir owned by another young entrepreneur and second generation farmer Con Traas. In the 18 years since he took over from his Dad, Con has built up a brilliant apple juice business and farm shop. Visitors can also camp under the apple trees and local people can have their surplus apples juiced and bottled for the winter. We send ours up to be pressed by Con every year – that’s when we have a good harvest – this year was an exception. We barely had enough apples to make an apple tart. Look out for Apple Farm sparkling apple juice – light, bubbly and non- alcoholic.

Time to head for home with our heads swirling with ideas and full of hope for the future of artisan food and drink in Ireland.

 

St Gall Raclette

 

A Raclette evening is one of the easiest ways to entertain friends and have lots of fun. St Gall cheese works brilliantly. If you do a lot of impromptu entertaining a Raclette stove is really worth having.

 

St Gall cheese – allow about 175g (6oz) per person

freshly boiled potatoes – 3 – 4 per person

lettuce – 3 – 4 leaves per person

cornichons or slices of dill pickle 3 – 4 per person

fresh radishes

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

little gem lettuce, cut in half lengthwise or a good green salad

 

Raclette Stove

 

Put the Raclette stove in the center of the table and turn on the heat. Cut the cheese into scant 5mm (1/4 inch) thick slices and put a slice onto each little pan.

 

Meanwhile serve freshly boiled potatoes and crisp little gem lettuce or a green salad on hot plates to each person. Just as soon as the cheese melts, each guest spoons it over their potatoes and puts another piece on to melt. Serve with pickles and radishes and maybe a few tiny spring onions as an accompaniment.

 

A Raclette party is so easy and such fun; just provide cheese, boiled potatoes and pickles. Guests do their own cooking and there’s a minimum of washing up.

 

 

Cabbage Salad with Raisins and Mint

 

Serves 8 approx.

 

If you are tiring of the ubiquitous coleslaw, then you might like to try this fresh tasting cabbage salad with rape seed oil and honey.

 

1/2 white cabbage with a good heart

2-3 large dessert apples, grated – we like Cox’s orange pippin

2 tablespoons raisins

4 tablespoons freshly chopped mint

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives

4 tablespoons pure Irish honey

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons Second Nature Rape Seed Oil

 

Cut the cabbage into quarters.   Wash it well and discard the coarse outer leaves.  Cut away the stalks and shred the heart very finely with a very sharp knife.  Put it into a bowl with the grated apple, raisins, freshly chopped mint and chives.  Mix the honey, vinegar and rape seed oil together.  Toss the salad in the dressing until well coated.  Taste and correct seasoning and serve soon.

 

Jane’s Brown Bread with Knockmealdown Porter and Walnuts

 

Jane Hodson who loves to bake and loved Knockmealdown Porter devised this recipe which got an enthusiastic response from everyone who tasted it.

400g (14oz) strong whole meal flour

50g (2oz) strong white flour

60g (2½oz) walnuts (roughly chopped)

330ml    (11fl oz) Knockmealdown Porter brewed by 8 Degrees (at blood temp)

100ml    (3 ½ fl oz) water (at blood temperature)

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon salt

20g (3/4 oz) fresh yeast

 

sesame seeds

sunflower oil

 

Loaf Tin 13cm x 20cm (5” x 8”)

 

Preheat oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8

 

Sift the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl, adding in the wholemeal chaff left in the sieve.  Add in the walnuts and mix well.  In a bowl/Pyrex jug put the water and honey and crumble in the yeast. While the yeast is working, grease the tin with the oil and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds.  The yeast is working when a creamy and slight froth rises to the surface.  If this is not happening after a few minutes, put your ear to the jug and you should be able to hear it fizzing. When ready, pour the yeast mixture and the warmed Porter into the flours and mix to form loose wet dough.  Pour the dough into the tin, sprinkle to top with sesame seeds and leave, covered with a tea towel (to prevent drying out), in a warmish place until the dough has risen to the top of the tin.

 

Place in the middle of the oven at 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes.  Then turn it down to 200c/300F/Gas Mark 6 for another 40 minutes.

 

Remove from tin and if the sides and base are still soft, return the loaf to the oven for another 10 minutes until it looks nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

 

Allow to cool on a wire rack

 

Double Chocolate Cupcakes and a Raspberry on Top

 

Makes 18 cupcakes

 

 

8oz (225g) soft butter

8oz (225g) caster sugar

3 large free-range, organic eggs

8oz (225g) self-raising flour

1 dessertspoon honey or golden syrup

1 tablespoon milk

 

18 pieces chopped chocolate or chocolate buttons

 

Chocolate Icing

 

5 ozs (140g) icing sugar

2 ozs (55g) soft butter

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa

 

2 cupcake trays, lined with paper cupcake cases

 

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

 

Cream the butter well, add the caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, adding a teaspoon of flour with each addition. (Beat the mixture well before adding the next egg). Beat in the honey or golden syrup, and then gently stir in the remaining flour. Stir in the milk and mix thoroughly.

 

Divide ½ the mixture between the cupcake cases. Pop a piece of chocolate or a good quality chocolate button on top. Divide the remainder of the mixture between the cases. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 mins, or until cooked and lightly golden. Remove cupcakes from the tray and place on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Cream the soft butter with the icing sugar and cocoa.  Add a little hot milk or water to achieve spreading consistency.

Spoon the icing onto the cupcakes and decorate with a juicy raspberry and a fresh mint leaf.

 

 

Hottips

 

Where do I find a well reared bird? They are scarce so never too early to get your order in; we’ve been hearing good things about Mary Walsh’s free range geese from Shellumsrath, Kilkenny – 056 – 7763426 – www.kilkennyfreerange.com

 

Find of the Week… Kilree Goats Cheese – another superb goat cheese from Helen Finnegan of Knockdrinna in Stoneyford Village, Co Kilkenny (0)56 7728446 www.knockdrinna.com

 

Arbutus Night in Isaacs Restaurant, MacCurtain Street, Cork on Friday 30th November. Tasting Menu €70.00

Booking Essential 021 4503 805. Proceeds to Penny Dinners – www.corkpennydinners.ie

 

Darina’s Book of the Week – Clarissa’s Comfort Food. I’ve always loved the ‘Two Fat Ladies’ now sadly just one – Jennifer Paterson passed to her eternal reward and is doubtless now rustling up good things for all the hungry angels in paradise. Clarissa however  is still very much with us and her latest book Clarissa’s Comfort Food  published by Kyle Books, does exactly what it ‘says on the tin’ People are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of homemade simple food that will nourish friends and family instead of choosing a takeaway or buying ready meals that are often full of preservatives. There is a desire to go back to basics and cook food that is delicious and comforting as well as inexpensive and easy to make.

Get this book for Christmas or give it to a friend, Clarissa’s other books The Game Cookbook recently revised, A Greener Life and Sunday Roast are also favourites in my cookbook library.

 

Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis, London

Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis inLondonrolled into the town last week and gave a hilarious 1 day course here at the Ballymaloe Cooker School. Jeremy is tall, 6 ft. something with large horn rimmed glasses, a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous sense of humour.  His class was interspersed with scholarly  quips and the food was completely delicious.

Jeremy has an impressive pedigree, he cooked with Alastair Little, launched Euphorium in Islington and more recently spent 18 years as head chef at the much loved  Blueprint Café overlooking Tower Bridge – ‘Lifers get less’ he joked but he loved every second before he was head hunted by the Hart Brothers to head up their revamped Quo Vadis restaurant and club in Dean Street in Soho.

Jeremy, is a master of his craft. He doesn’t fiddle around with concepts or gimmicks. Not for him unnecessary ‘gewgaws’ on the plate, –  there’s neer a foam, gel or streak of reduced balsamic vinegar in sight. Rather his food has the comforting timeless quality of classic Anglo French cooking with shades of Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David. He sources his primary materials with care and discrimination and treats them with a rare respect.

His smoked eel and horseradish sandwich on grilled sourdough bread is now legendary, “sweet, a little smoky, sour and a concentrated horseradish cream that bit my nose off!”, wrote an appreciative customer.

Slow cooked Belly of Middlewhite pork served in various guises is another of Jeremy’s favourite and he shared one version with us.

People also rave about his puddings, his divine Chocolate St Emilion tart, dark chocolate mousse with crushed macaroons was inspired by an Elizabeth David classic of the 60’s French Provincial cooking. As we settle into Autumn there are lots of steamed puddings.

No sooner had he arrived at theBallymaloeCookerySchoolthan he was bouncing around the vegetable and herb garden with glee, chuckling with delight at the end of Summer produce in the greenhouses. He doesn’t just ‘talk the talk’. We wished he could have stayed for a week but his restaurant in London Theatreland beckoned and he had to get back to his own stove next day.

Jeremy’s menu changes every day and some dishes twice a day which generates excitement for both the chefs in the kitchen and the restaurant clientele. By the way Quo Vadis is the perfect place to have a pre theatre supper inLondonbut of course not to be missed for a more leisurely lunch or dinner either, you’ll need to look ahead.

Here are just a few of the dishes we enjoyed from his course

 

 

 

Salt Cod, Artichoke, Potato, Mint & Caper Salad

To feed 6 trenchermen.

 

800 g (1 lb 12 oz)  soft white salt cod, very well soaked, removed of much salt( I confess to only buying from Brindisa!!)

A small onion

A sprig of thyme

2 sticks of celery

6 small artichokes, cooked in white wine, olive oil & herbs

6 potatoes, cooked in their skins then peeled

A soupspoon of salted capers, very well washed and drained

A small handful of mint leaves

A small bunch of sturdy salad leaves

8 tablespoons of good olive oil

A lemon, juiced

 

Peel and chop the onion into large pieces along with the celery. Put these into a large pot along with the pieces of washed cod and the thyme. Pour in enough cold water until just covering the fish and vegetables. Place a disc of greaseproof paper over the surface. Bring this to a gentle simmer and let cook for 10 or so minutes until cooked, having a care not to over cook. Put the whole pan to one side and let cool.

 

Take a handsome great plate and on this lay the salad leaves. Take a wide bowl and sit alongside a chopping board. Slice the peeled potatoes and tip into the bowl. Likewise the artichokes and then the capers.

 

Lift the cooled cod from the pot and carefully remove all skin and bone from the flesh, keeping the flakes as large as possible. Place these in the bowl. Add in the mint leaves, spoon over the olive oil and lemon juice. Grind some pepper on top. Mix very gently, then heap upon the salad leaves.

 

Warm Salad of Pork Belly, Fennel and Herbs   

 

Serves 6-8

 

A pork belly, approx 2-3kg (4½ lb – 63/4 lbs) in weight

1 tablespoons of fennel seed

4 cloves of garlic

A half teaspoon of freshly milled pepper

3 heads of fennel

2 medium sized onions

A lemon

6 tablespoons of olive oil

6 tablespoons of white wine

 

A couple of handfuls of boiled, peeled potatoes

A few bunches of watercress or a lovely green leaf

 

Warm the oven to 240°C/450°F/gas mark 8.

 

Peel the onions and chop into large pieces along with the fennel and the lemon. Toss this with the garlic cloves and the chilli and lay in a roasting tray large enough to just hold the piece of pork belly.

Score the skin of the belly.

Pound the fennel seeds and pepper until ground. Rub this into the pork.

Sit the belly on the vegetables. Pour the wine over and then the olive oil.

Bake the pork in the oven for ten minutes or so until it darkens and the crackle begins to form. Cover the tray with tin foil, securely and lower the heat to about 120°C/230°F/gas mark ¼ and let cook gently. This can be overnight in an even gentler oven or for a minimum of 8 hours.

Come the time to serve, place the pork on a board and cut into coarse pieces. Decant the vegetables onto a handsome dish from the roasting tray. Strew the leaves around and then the potatoes then tumble the pork over this, then any crackling that may still be on the board. Spoon over any residual juices.

 

Ps………a thought, there is a happy moment that you may add lovely things that may suggest themselves from the garden such as herbs and any rogue vegetables such as beetroots, carrots beans, mint and or parsley.

 

 

A Warm Salad of Clams, Mussels and Squid

 

So simple and lovely a dish, clams appearing in our fish merchants with heartening regularity and requiring little more than washing well to rid them of grit, their cooking being little, not unlike mussels.

 

To serve 4

 

6 razor clams

6 handfuls of surf clams and/or palourdes

6 handfuls of mussels

400g (14 oz) squid, cleaned by an obliging fishmonger

50cl of white wine

2 small onions

50g (2 oz) unsalted butter

A clove of garlic, peeled and chopped very fine

A handful of flat leaf parsley

A lemon

 

 

In a pot, melt the butter gently. Peel and finely chop the onions and add to the pot and let cook gently until softened without colour, say 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile, beard the mussels, pulling away the little black tuft to be found where the shells are clamped tightly shut. The shells that remain open should be discarded. Set the mussels in a vessel under cold running water for at least 20 minutes. Place the clams in a bowl and do likewise.

Slit the squids lengthwise and rinse under the tap to wash away any grit therein. Use a sharp little knife to score the squid all over and then cut into little strips about 3 cms long.

 

Drain all the shellfish from their waterfall. Tip the mussels into the pot along  with the white wine, up the heat to a boil and cover with a lid. When the mussels have steamed open after about 4-5 minutes, remove from the pan and tip in the clams. They will cook in 3-4 minutes then need removing also, to be replaced by the razor clams, these requiring but 3-4 minutes also to steam open. Remove the razor clams to a chopping aboard. Pull the clams from the shells and cut away the dark grey that is the stomach roughly in the middle of the length of the clam. Lightly wash the clams free of any grit. Chop the razor clams into quite thin slices. Cut the lemon in two then squeeze into the pot with the remaining cooking liquor. Chop the parsley fine and likewise add to the pot. Add several grinds of the pepper mill and stir well.

 

Heat a frying pan. Dress the squid in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Add a small handful of squid to the hot pan and fry for a minute or two only. Tip into the pot. Wipe the pan then repeat the process until all the squid is cooked. Lay all the clams and mussels on a handsome dish, strew the razor clams over shellfish then spoon over the squid and the dressing from the pan. A few spoonfuls of good olive oil spooned over is a lovely addition at this point.

 

Walnut Pie

 

 

250g (9 oz) plain flour

150g(5 oz) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon caster sugar

1 large egg

1 dessertspoon cold water

 

250g (9 oz) dark muscavado sugar

250g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened

6 eggs

Juice & rind of 2 lemons

100g (3½ oz) golden syrup

80g (3½ oz) maple syrup

500g (18 oz) best walnuts, coarsely chopped+

 

Tart Tin 30 cm (12 inch)

 

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

 

Make the pastry in the time honoured tradition and let rest at least 2 hours or overnight which is always best.

 

Line a 30cm deep tart case, with a removable bottom, with the pastry. Rest in the fridge for half an hour then blind bake for 20 minutes or so until set and quite dried but not well coloured.

Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. Crack the eggs into a jug and beat well. Pour the eggs slowly into the eggs and sugar, very slowly. Warm the syrup slightly and then pour gently onto the eggs, butter & sugar. Fold in the walnuts with the lemon zest and juice. Tip the batter into the tart case and bake for 45 minutes until bronzed and lightly cracked at the edges.

 

Cake

There’s a frenzy of baking going on around the country – the revival of interest has been further whipped up by the ICA, TV series ‘The Great British Bake Off’, and Rachel’s Allen’s ‘Cake’ programme which really takes the mystery out of baking.  Millions tuned into watch the ‘The Great British Bake Off’ – it’s become a national phenomenon.  Baking equipment is flying off the shelves in kitchen shops as people in both islands rediscover the joy of home baking.

People who have never whipped up a bun or cupcake in their entire lives are rapidly gaining the confidence to produce gorgeous cakes and tortes.

Baking is all about confidence and accurate recipes.  As ever one needs to start with good quality ingredients.  Use good Irish butter rather than margarine or any of those other spreads.  Butter is a shortcut to flavour, pure natural and better for us.  If one puts time and effort into making something it might as well be delicious.  It’s also worth remembering that baking is an exact science so it’s really important to have an accurate scales and to measure each ingredient carefully. Chucking in fists of this and that may accidently produce a brilliant confection but more often than not the result is more likely to disappoint.

If you’ve never baked a thing in your life, start with something easy like a tray bake that merely needs to be stirred and baked, like flapjacks.

ICA members have been perfecting and sharing recipes since 1910 when the association was founded to improve the standard of life in rural Ireland through education and co-operation effort.  They feel very strongly as I do that ‘in today’s busy modern lives, the importance of a family meal cannot be overstated.   It is around the family table that we learn so much about our values, where we right the wrongs of the day and discuss our problems and hopes for the future’.

 

Cake is Rachel’s ninth book, her fail-safe easy to follow recipes thoughtful tips and down to earth advice have won her a myriad of fans over a few short years.  Her new book ‘Cake’ had me really licking my lips – there really are cakes for every occasion, plus cake pops, beetroot brownies, white chocolate anniversary cake and banoffee blondies.

 

There are a ton of new baking books but here I include recipes from Rachel Allen’s ‘Cake’ published by Harper Collins and Aoife Carrigy’s ‘The Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cookbook’ published by Gill & Macmillan both of which are carefully tested and will produce pleasing presents.

 

 

Madeleines

 

Madeleines are the quintessential delicate treat. The airy batter is baked in the traditional shell- shaped moulds to make a cake that is just crisp on the outside and elegantly light in the middle. This recipe is quick and easy to make, but there are many twists you can give to this recipe which are all delicious variations on a classic theme which are available in Rachel’s ‘Cake’ book.

 

Makes 12 madeleines

 

1 egg

50g (2oz) caster sugar

50g (2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

50g (2oz) butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract icing sugar, for dusting

12-hole madeleine tray

 

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

 

Brush a little melted butter over the madeleine moulds (making sure to coat every ridge) and dust a little flour into each one, tapping out any excess.

Place the egg and sugar in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Using a hand-held electric beater or the food mixer with its whisk attachment, whisk on a high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is pale, thick and mousse-like and has grown almost three times in volume.

 

Sift the flour and baking powder into the whisked egg and sugar and carefully fold in, then fold in the melted butter and vanilla extract, taking care not to over-mix. Either pouring the batter directly from the bowl or using a tablespoon to spoon it in, divide the batter between the madeleine moulds, filling each almost to the top.

 

Bake for 12–15 minutes or until golden and lightly springy to the touch. (Try not to overcook them or they will be dry.) Remove from the oven and carefully remove each madeleine from its mould using a palette knife, then place on a wire rack to cool, if you must, as there are few things more delicious than warm madeleines served straight from the oven with nothing more than a light dusting of icing sugar.

 

Taken from Cake by Rachel Allen published by Harper Collins


Hazelnut Praline Triple-Layered Cake

 

A triple-layered praline cake makes a fabulous birthday treat. The three layers of sponge are lightened with a good amount of whisked egg whites. For the filling, praline crumbs are mixed into a divinely rich custard cream. The cake is topped in a thick, snowy-white American frosting, crisp on the outside and fluffy and marshmallow-like beneath. As it’s covered in icing, the cake will keep for 3–4 days in an airtight container. If you don’t have an airtight box big enough, you can use a large mixing bowl upturned over the cake.

 

Serves14–18

 

375g (13oz) plain flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

225g (8oz) butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

675g (1⁄1 2 lb) caster sugar

325ml (11⁄1 2 fl oz) milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

9 egg whites (about 250ml/9fl oz)

 

For the praline

100g (3⁄1 2oz) caster sugar

100g (3⁄1 2oz) hazelnuts (skin still on)

 

For the custard cream

25g (1oz) caster sugar

3 egg yolks

175ml (6fl oz) milk

15g (1⁄2oz) cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

100ml (3⁄1 2fl oz) double or regular cream

 

For the frosting

4 large egg whites

250g (9oz) caster sugar

pinch of salt

 

3 x 20cm (8 inch) diameter cake tins

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4, then butter the sides of the cake tins and line the bases with a disc of baking parchment.

 

First make the sponge.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add 450g (1lb) of the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add about a third of the sifted flour along with about a third of the milk and continue to mix gently, in thirds, until all of the flour and milk is well mixed in, then stir in the vanilla extract.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites until foamy, then add the remaining sugar and whisk until the meringue holds stiff glossy peaks. Mix in a quarter of the meringue to the cake mixture, then carefully fold in the rest until fully incorporated.

 

Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tins and bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides
of each tin with a small, sharp knife and carefully remove the cakes from the tins before placing on a wire rack to cool completely. (The sponge can be made up to a day in advance and kept in an airtight container.)

 

To make the praline, first line a baking tray with baking parchment and set aside. Place the sugar in a frying pan and scatter the hazelnuts over the sugar. Place the pan over a medium heat to allow the sugar to caramelise, swirling the pan every so often to ensure it caramelises evenly. Cook until the sugar has completely melted and is a deep golden colour and the hazelnuts are coated evenly.

 

Transfer the coated nuts to the prepared baking tray. Before the caramel has a chance to harden, set apart about 10 hazelnut clusters (with 4–5 hazelnuts in each cluster) for decorating. Using two forks, spread apart the remaining hazelnuts and leave the praline to cool completely. Once cool break up the praline using your hands, then place the pieces (but not the reserved clusters) in a food processor and whiz until it resembles slightly coarse breadcrumbs.

 

To make the custard cream, place the sugar in a saucepan with the egg yolks, milk, cornflour and vanilla extract and whisking all the time bring just to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Then cook, continuing to whisk, until thickened. Immediately remove from the heat before transferring to a bowl to cool completely. In a separate bowl, whip the cream just until it holds stiff peaks. Add the praline to the cooled custard and mix in, then carefully fold in the whipped cream. Cover the praline custard cream and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

 

You can now assemble the cake. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or plate. Spread with half of the praline custard, then cover with a second cake. Spread the other half of the custard cream over the cake, then top with the third cake. Use a pastry brush to brush off any excess crumbs from the cake.

 

Next make the frosting. First place a palette knife in a jug or bowl and put the kettle on. It makes it really easy to frost this cake if you can use a palette knife that has been dipped in hot water. Place all the frosting ingredients in a heatproof bowl, add 2 tablespoons of cold water and set over a saucepan of simmering water. (The bowl should sit snugly over the pan, with its base high enough above the water that it does not come into contact with it.)

 

Whisk slowly by hand until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is foamy. Continue to heat and whisk until the mixture reaches 60°C (140°F) when measured with a sugar thermometer – this will take about 4 minutes.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can gauge whether the mixture is ready by how it feels and looks: it should be hot to the touch, glossy white in appearance and starting to thicken.

 

Quickly remove the bowl from the pan and pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Alternatively, whisk in the original bowl using a hand-held electric beater. Whisk on a high speed for about 3–5 minutes or until the frosting is very thick, glossy and has cooled.

 

Pour boiling water into the jug or bowl holding the palette knife. Before the frosting has a chance to cool and therefore set, spread it with the hot, wet palette knife over the top and all around the sides of the cake, covering it as evenly as possible. You can go for a smooth appearance or a slightly peaked look by tapping the flat side of the palette knife over the frosting. As you pull it up, it should create little peaks. Do this all over the cake.

 

Decorate around the top edge of the iced cake with the reserved hazelnut praline clusters.

 

Taken from Cake by Rachel Allen published by Harper Collins


Cake in a Mug

 

I’m not a microwave girl myself but I though this sounded intriguing.

 

Muriel Kerr, Leitrim: fun-loving granny

 

This quick-fix treat is a big hit with children, allowing you whip up an individual chocolate cake in three minutes. It’s a delicious dessert for somebody who lives alone and fancies a little bit of chocolate heaven. I make it in a one-pint Pyrex jug but a large mug does the trick.

 

Serves 1

 

4 dessertspoons flour

4 dessertspoons sugar

2 dessertspoons cocoa

1 small egg, beaten

3 dessertspoons milk

3 dessertspoons light oil

2–3 drops vanilla extract

1 handful chocolate chips

 

Equipment

large mug or 600ml (1 pint) Pyrex jug

microwave

 

Combine flour, sugar and cocoa in a mug. Stir in the egg, milk and oil, then add vanilla drops and chocolate chips.

 

Cook uncovered in the microwave on high (1,000W) for three minutes.

 

Allow to cool, tip out on to a plate and tuck in.

 

Taken from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cooking by Aoife Carrigy published by Gill & MacMillan

 

Parsnip Cake with Walnuts and Raisins

 

Anne Gabbett, Limerick: dairy farmer’s wife and home economics teacher.

 

This cake came about from a seasonal surplus of parsnips from the garden. I decided to try baking them into a cake much along the lines of a carrot cake. It turned out delicious and is now a family favourite.

 

Makes 2 x 900g (2lb) loaves

 

300g (10 1/2oz) parsnips, peeled

250g (9oz) soft butter or margarine

125g (4 1/2oz) soft brown sugar

125g (4 1/2oz) caster sugar

3–4 drops vanilla extract

350g (12oz) plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

4 eggs, beaten

200g (7oz) golden sultanas

125g (4 1/2oz) walnuts, chopped

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

 

Topping (optional)

125g (4 1/2oz) cream cheese

50g (2oz) butter

250g (9oz) icing sugar, sieved

125g (4 1/2oz) walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons apricot jam

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Equipment

2 x 900g (2lb) cake tins

 

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.

 

Grease two loaf tins or line with baking parchment.

 

Finely grate the parsnips and set aside. Cream butter or margarine with both sugars and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together.

Mix about a quarter of the beaten eggs to the creamed butter and sugar, and then fold in some of the flour mix. Continue, alternating egg and flour mix, until all combined. Fold in grated parsnip, sultanas, walnuts and nutmeg, mix well and pour into prepped loaf tins.

 

Place in centre of preheated oven and bake for 35–40 minutes, until the centre springs back when touched or an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to rest in tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire tray to cool.

 

To make the topping, beat cream cheese, butter and sieved icing sugar until light and spreadable. Mix in chopped walnuts. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread with apricot jam and then with cream cheese mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.

 

This mix also makes be delicious muffins, which will bake in about 20 minutes.

 

Taken from the Irish Countrywomen’s Association Cooking by Aoife Carrigy published by Gill & MacMillan

 

 

 

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