When life is a bit hectic it’s brilliant to get away for even one night, doesn’t have to be very far away just a change of scene so you can flop onto someone else’s sofa and have a ‘phew’ moment.
Bring along your passport so it feels exotic but ideally it should be within an hour’s driving distance so you can make the most of your short break.
We checked into Perryville House B&B in Kinsale recently – what a lovely spot that is right in the centre of Kinsale overlooking the harbour – an oasis of calm run by the Corcoran family. We arrived mid-afternoon and wandered into the little Garden Tea Room for afternoon tea – so stylish with a pretty vintage feel.
Hannah had a lovely selection of homemade cakes and they really were homemade – coffee cake, passion fruit cake, several types of scones, sultana, white chocolate and raspberry and her strawberry shortcakes and iced lemon curd cake were unbearably delicious. But we were in holiday mode so we started with little finger sandwiches, cucumber and mint, egg and chive, Umerra smoked chicken with mayonnaise and salad leaves, freshly made and delicious like they so seldom are. There were 10 or 12 types of Lov Organic tea to choose from and hand roasted Pónaire coffees from Limerick.
Kinsale is the prettiest town with lots of little winding streets with gaily coloured shops and a myriad of cafes, restaurants and pubs to choose from.
We had a one year old grandchild with us, good humoured and smiley, but nonetheless we managed an early dinner at Fishy Fishy Restaurant and then an amble through the fun fair and a walk by the harbour.
Breakfast at Perryville was just what you hope a breakfast will be but so seldom is, freshly made bread, I particularly loved the spotted dog with fat sultanas and orange and Glenilen yoghurt, homemade granola, a citrus fruit salad and lots of fresh berries and a huge honeycomb from Hannah’s dad’s bees which I spread lavishly on toasted Arbutus bread.
The rashers and the sausages were well sourced by Barrett’s butchers in Kinsale and the eggs from Ruth Wright’s free range hens (she does all the baking). The dining room was full and I think I wasn’t alone in eating far too much but it’s good to leave space for lunch in one of the many tempting cafes in Kinsale.
Don’t miss the Kinsale Arts Festival from Saturday 7th to Sunday 15th July http://kinsaleartsfestival.com/
Radish and Anchovy Sandwich
A delicious open sandwich from Alice Water’s Vegetables book.
Choose a very fresh baguette. Cut in half lengthwise and spread liberally with unsalted butter. Wash and trim the radishes, leaving on their tender leaves. Cut the radishes in half lengthwise and place them on the buttered baguette. Garnish with anchovies fillets and ground black pepper.
Blue Cheese, Walnut and Candied Peel Sandwich
A delicious combination.
Serves 4 – makes 12-16 finger sandwiches
50g (2oz) butter
225g (8oz) blue cheese e.g. Cashel Blue, Crozier Blue, Bellingham Blue, Roquefort, Stilton….
50g (2oz) chopped fresh walnuts, fairly finely chopped
35g (1 1/2oz) candied orange and lemon peel, finely chopped
thin slices of white bread
Cream the butter, add the crumbled blue cheese, beat well. Stir in the chopped walnuts and candied peel.
Spread on thin slices of lightly buttered good white bread, sandwich together. Trim off the crusts, cut into fingers and serve.
Scones with White Chocolate and Raspberries
Makes 18-20 scones using a 7 1/2 cm (3inch) cutter
900g (2lb) plain white flour
175g (6oz) butter
3 free-range eggs
pinch of salt
50g (2oz) castor sugar
3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
100g (4 oz) raspberries
100g (4 oz) chopped white chocolate
450ml (15floz) approx. milk to mix
egg wash (see below)
granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones
For crunchy tops
50g (2oz) granulated sugar for top of the scones
First preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/gas mark 9.
Sieve the flour into a large wide bowl; add a pinch of salt, 3 heaped teaspoons of baking powder and the castor sugar. Mix the dry ingredients with your hands, lift up to incorporate air and mix thoroughly.
Cut the butter into cubes, toss well in the flour and then with the tips of your fingers, rub in the butter until it resembles large flakes. Make a well in the centre, then add the white chocolate and raspberries. Whisk the eggs with the milk; pour all at once into the centre. With the fingers of your ‘best hand’ outstretched and stiff, mix in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl. This takes just seconds and hey presto, the scone dough is made.
Sprinkle some flour on the work surface. Turn out the dough onto the floured board. Scrape the dough off your fingers and wash and dry your hands at this point.
Tidy around the edges, flip over and roll or pat gently into a round about 1 inch (2½ cm) thick. Stamp into scones with a cutter or a knife. Brush the tops with egg wash (see below) and dip the tops only in granulated sugar. Put onto a baking sheet. Gently gather the extra pieces of dough together, flatten and repeat as above.
Bake in a preheated hot oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.
Serve, split in half with home-made Raspberry jam and a blob of whipped cream.
Scones are best served freshly baked.
Egg Wash: Whisk 1 egg, thoroughly with about a dessertspoon of milk. This is brushed over the scones to help them to brown in the oven.
Fluffy Sponge with Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote
3 organic eggs
225g (8oz) caster sugar
75ml (3fl oz) warm water
150g (5oz) plain white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
For the Filling
Green gooseberry and elderflower compote (see recipe in my column Irish Examiner Saturday 16th June, 2012.)
Sliced fresh strawberries, raspberries, loganberries and maybe frosted redcurrants or kumquats or homemade jam and softly whipped cream
2 x 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. In a food mixer, whisk the yolks with the caster sugar for 2 minutes and then add in the warm water. Whisk until light and fluffy, this will take about 20-30 minutes. The mixture will have greatly increased in volume and should hold a figure of eight for a few seconds.
Gently fold the sieved flour and baking powder into the mousse in batches. Then whisk the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. Fold them in very gently.
Divide the mixture between two greased and floured sandwich tins and bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
When cool, sandwich the two together green gooseberry and elderflower compote or another filling of your choice and whipped cream.
Sprinkle a little caster sugar or icing sugar over the top before serving. Serve on a pretty plate with a doily.
Soda Bread with Sultanas and Fennel Seeds
Good for breakfast or school lunches, or as a snack at any time of the day – best eaten fresh.
Makes 1 loaf
450g (1lb) plain white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 level teaspoon salt
I tablespoon sugar
75g (3oz) sultanas (or more if you’d like)
zest of ½ an orange
1 -2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 organic egg
about 350 – 425ml (12-14fl oz) buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.
In a large mixing bowl, sieve in the flour and bicarbonate of soda; then add the salt, sugar and sultanas, orange zest and fennel seeds. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore more lightness to your finished bread. Now make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Break the egg into the base of a measuring jug and add the buttermilk to the 425ml (14fl oz) line (the egg is part of the liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg mixture into the flour.
Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour mixture from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky.
The trick with this bread like all soda breads is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and gently as possible, thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. With floured fingers, roll the dough lightly for a few seconds – just enough to tidy it up. Then pat the dough into a round, about 6cm (2 1/2 inches) deep. Transfer to a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross on it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the four triangles. Put into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cook for 35-40 minutes. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. This bread is cooked at a lower temperature than soda bread because the egg browns faster at a higher heat.
Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dog is also really good eaten with Cheddar cheese.
Do you long to make your own homemade ice-cream? The exciting news is that Kitty Travers of La Grotta Ices Sorbets the UK’s ice-cream queen is coming to Ballymaloe Cookery School from Wednesday 25th to Thursday 26th July 2012. Kitty and Darina will teach you the secrets of making mouthwateringly delicious ice creams and sorbets with fresh ingredients like white peach and tarragon… sweet chestnut… apple and blackberry… pear, bergamot… and fig, chocolate and hazelnut. Everything is natural and seasonal and the flavours are amazingly bright and intense. Kitty has worked in New York, Naples, Rome, Iceland and Russia to master her art. She only makes small batches and sells her ice creams and sorbets from the back of her Piaggio scooter at London’s Maltby Street. To book +353 21 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie
EatGalway has been awarded Bord Bia’s Just Ask! Restaurant of the Month for June 2012. This is the first time that the award goes not to a restaurant, but to a group of establishments, all based in Galway city, as a result of their dedication to sourcing ingredients locally – for a list of restaurants visit www.eatgalway.ie
Darina Allen will be giving a cookery demonstration in association with Euro-toques at the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway on Saturday, 7th July from 12.30 to 1.15pm. – www.volvooceanracegalway.ie
Date for your diary – Kenmare Food Carnival Friday 13th to Sunday 15th July 2012.
Smoky chipotle peppers, artisan corn tortillas, and dried corn husks which you can use to make your own tamales are some of the food on offer on ‘My Mexican Shop’ a new website run by Lily Alan Foran which delivers authentic Mexican cuisine to Irish homes. For details on how to order see www.mymexicanshop.ie