ArchiveSeptember 2012

Ricotta

Here on our farm in Shanagarry, we milk three docile Jersey cows every morning, (they remain with the calves in the evening) The milk is separated from the rich yellow Jersey cream in a brilliant new electric separator which replaced the old hand cranked Alfa Lavel.

As a family we love fresh unpasteurised milk, the flavour and mouth feel is so wonderful – like many of you I was reared on raw milk.  Twice a week we make thick unctuous yogurt (just milk and a live yogurt culture – no milk powder or additives needed) and cheese, usually a cheddar type in little 1kg truckles that take at least 3 months to mature.

Every day except at weekends we made beautiful butter from the cream, rich golden butter reminiscent of what my great Aunt Lil in Co Tipperary made when I was a child though not with such a ripe flavour.

We serve thick pouring Jersey cream with pudding; it also makes the most sublime homemade ice-cream.

More recently we’ve been experimenting with making ricotta from the whey left over from cheese making. Ricotta means ‘re-cooked’.

According to Wikipedia, ‘Ricotta is an Italian dairy product made from sheep (cow, goat, or buffalo) milk whey left over from cheese production. Although typically referred to as ricotta cheese, ricotta is not properly a cheese because it is not produced by coagulation of casein. Rather, it is made by coagulating other milk proteins, notably albumin and globulin, left over in the whey that separates from the milk during the production of cheese. In fact, ricotta is safely eaten by individuals with casein intolerance.’ The latter is brilliant news for the growing number of people who are dairy intolerant.

To make the ricotta we leave the whey to settle overnight, then in the morning simply bring the whey back up to 94º in a large heavy stainless steel bottomed saucepan (don’t boil). Allow to settle for at least two hours, the ricotta ‘curds’ are tiny, so we strain them through a sterilised jelly bag or double thickness of sterilised cheese cloth. The resulting ricotta is fine and tender.

Depending on what you plan to use it for, it can continue to drip overnight; the ricotta will be firmer and brilliantly versatile.  We use it in a myriad of ways. For breakfast, we serve it with local honey drizzled over the top. When we fold in a little cream and sugar, it tastes exactly like the French Petit Suisse, irresistible on its own or with Summer berries.

I also love it with a dice of candied citrus peel folded through and maybe some dark chocolate grated on top.

Ricotta is also delicious with pasta, in ravioli, tortellini or cappelletti; Italians also love it in lasagne as a filling for Sicilian cannoli.

Bill Granger uses it to make his famous ricotta hot cakes which I enjoyed for brunch at Granger and Co in London on my last trip.

For those of you who don’t have your own, seek out Toonsbridge Buffalo Ricotta – made by Sean Ferris and Toby Simmonds, available at Farmers Markets and from their newly opened little shop beside their warehouse and buffalo dairy in the old creamery near Macroom, West Cork – 021 4270842.

 

Ricotta, Tomato and Thyme Tart

 

Serves 8

 

2 – 3 ripe tomatoes, finely sliced

sea salt

225g (8oz) puff or savoury short crust pastry

450g (1lb) ricotta

2 free range eggs, lightly beaten

50ml (2 fl oz) cream

150g (5oz) finely grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup finely chopped rocket (arugula)

glaze

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, for glazing

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6. Slice the tomatoes in a colander, sprinkle with salt and allow to drain on a wire rack. Roll pastry dough into rounds about 35cm (14in) in diameter and 3mm (1/4 in) thick. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured baking tray.

Whisk the eggs and cream and add the ricotta and ½ the thyme leaves, season with a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the chopped rocket, mix well.

Spread this ricotta mixture in the centre of the dough leave a 5cm (2in) border around the edge. Fold the border onto the filling. Arrange ripe tomato slices over the top of the filling. Brush the pastry with whisked egg yolk. Sprinkle the remainder of the thyme leaves over the top. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until golden. Serve with a good green salad.

 

Rory O’Connell’s Ricotta and Lemon Cake

 

Serves 6 -8

 

175g (6oz) butter at room temperature

175g (6oz) caster sugar

3 lemons, zested

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 eggs, separated

250g (9oz) ricotta

125g (4 1/2oz) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

 

Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

 

Butter and flour an 18cm (7 inch) cake tin and line the base with a disc of parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugar until pale light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest, vanilla, egg yolks and ricotta and mix gently. Mix in the sieved flour and baking powder. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into the ricotta mixture.

 

Bake for 35 minutes until risen, firm and golden in colour. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

 

Remove from the tin and peel off the parchment paper.

 

Serve the cake with fresh or poached fruit, caramel sauce and cream or yoghurt.

 

Bill Granger’s Ricotta Hotcakes with Honeycomb Butter

 

Serves 6 – 8

 

300g (10 ½ oz) ricotta

180mls (6fl oz) milk

4 eggs, separated

110g (4oz) plain white flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

A pinch of salt

50g (1 ½ oz) butter

 

To Serve

Banana

Honey comb butter, sliced (below)

Icing (confectioners’) sugar for dusting

 

Place ricotta, milk and egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Add to the ricotta mixture and mix until combined.

Place the egg whites in a clean dry bowl and beat until still peaks form. Fold egg whites through batter in two batches, with a large metal spoon.

Lightly grease a large non-stick frying pan with a small portion of the butter and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per hotcake into the pan (don’t cook more than 3 per batch). Cook over low to medium heat for 2 minutes, or until hotcakes have golden undersides. Turn hotcakes and cook on the other side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and quickly assemble with other ingredients.

Slice one banana lengthways onto a plate; stack 3 hotcakes on top with a slice of honey comb butter. Dust with icing sugar.

Note: hotcake batter can be stored for up to 24 hours, covered with a plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

 

Honeycomb Butter

 

250g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened

100g (3 ½ oz) sugar honeycomb, crushed with a rolling pin

2 tablespoons honey

 

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Shape into a log on a plastic wrap, roll, seal and chill in a refrigerator for 2 hours. Store leftover honeycomb butter in the freezer – it’s great on toast.

 

JR Ryall’s Honeycomb

 

JR, head pastry chef at Ballymaloe House shared this recipe with us.

 

400g (14oz) caster sugar

100ml (3 ½ fl oz) Irish honey

2 tablespoon liquid glucose ( use the same amount of powdered glucose if liquid is not available)

11/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (sieved)

 

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.

Place the sugar, glucose and honey in a heavy bottom saucepan with 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water.

Place the saucepan on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Once dissolved stir no more! Simply swirl the pot to ensure the mixture heats evenly. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. Allow the boiling sugar solution to reach 160C in temperature; then quickly whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and tip the molten honeycomb onto the lined tray. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Ricotta with Candied Citrus Peel and Grated Chocolate

 

Serves 4

 

225g (8oz) ricotta

30ml (1 fl oz) cream

25g – 50g (1 – 2 oz) diced homemade candied peel

caster sugar (optional)

1 -2 oz grated dark chocolate

6 – 8 mint leaves

 

Fold cream and diced candied peel into the ricotta. Taste and add a little sugar if necessary, when the grated chocolate is sprinkled on top, it’s usually nicely balanced. Top with shredded mint leaves and serve.

 

Hottips

 

There are still a few places left on half day course How to Make Homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Several Cheeses at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday 3rd October. This morning course (which includes a light lunch after the demonstration) will also teach you how to make a long list of delicious dairy products including cottage cheese, labneh, paneer, ricotta and a simple farmhouse cheese. Phone 021-4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie

 

Kinsale’s 36th Gourmet Festival in association with the Kinsale Good Food Circle will take place from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th October – Saturday 13th October 2012
Don’t miss ‘The Mad Hatters Taste Of Kinsale.’on Saturday where you can join Alice and friends for an escorted tour of the 10 Members of Kinsale’s Good Food Circle and sample dishes from their kitchens that show the culinary skills of the chefs of Kinsale.  – for tickets and more details – www.kinsalerestaurants.com

 

Kilcolman Rectory in Enniskeane, Clonakilty are running gardening classes throughout the Autumn – some interesting guest teachers lined up…phone +353 (0)23 – 8822913 for details.

 

Autumn Food Festivals
Galway International Oyster Festival, 28th to 30th September. Tipperary Harvest Food Festival, Clerihan, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, 30th September. Leenane Autumnal Festival, Leenane, Co. Galway, 29th to 30th September. Macroom Food Festival, 28th – 30th September 2012. OktoberBeerFest, Dublin Docklands, 20th Sept – 7th October

Investing in Healthy Eating

Something needs to be done about what’s happening to our food. The number of people who have food intolerances or full blown allergies is nothing short of alarming. Those in the food business now, see the ‘free from’ market as the fastest growing opportunities and this is not niche more main stream. A list of food allergies were recently sent to restaurant owners to look out for by the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland)

What research is being done into the cause of this escalating problem? Several times a week I get requests for gluten free, for diary free and egg free recipes.

People are in desperation, a growing number of people have not one but multiple allergies, it’s like as if the ‘cocktail’ effect of eating a variety of additives, preservatives and colourings plus a ton of other strange stabilizers and enzymes over a number of years has suddenly kicked in.
I don’t know the answer but this I do know, fresh naturally produced local food in season is much less likely to cause problems. Follow Michael Pollan’s advice ‘Avoid food containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry’ ‘Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients’ ‘Avoid foods that contain more than five ingredients’ ‘Buy your snacks at the Farmers Market’ and  ‘Eat only foods cooked by humans’

And steer well clear of anything that makes health claims, you’ll find it rarely delivers. Buy fresh, of course there are exceptions and eat soon. I personally avoid food with sell by dates and best before dates as much as possible that eliminates most processed food and a ton of packaging. If you are fortunate enough to have a good country or farmers market near you, patronise them, it’s a myth that farmers markets are more expensive – check it out for yourself, plus you’ll often actually meet the farmers or food producers. Invest in a chicken coop – get a few hens – move them around your lawn, they’ll eat the food scraps from the house and at least you’ll know how and where your eggs come from. A growing number of people can’t eat eggs – it’s definitely time to examine our conscience – the cost of cheap food is too high in health terms and socio economic terms.

Irish people on average now spend 7 per cent of their income on food – how much do we spend on medicine?

Debbie Shaw, a teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery School and Naturopathic Nutritionist has shared some of her recipes using spelt flour with us. She will teach a cookery course Feel Good Food for Winter in October (see Hot Tips)

 

Debbie Shaw’s Wholemeal Brown Spelt Health Loaf

 

This little loaf packs a powerful energy-giving punch. It is full of B vitamins and, essential fats, with oats for slow release energy and oat bran for lowering cholesterol. Nutritious and delicious, this bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

 

Makes 1 loaf

 

400g (14oz) stone ground brown spelt flour

75g (3oz) white spelt flour, preferably unbleached

1 teaspoon salt

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

1 egg, preferably free range

1 tablespoon oat bran

2 tablespoons oats

1 tablespoon sunflower oil, unscented

1 teaspoon honey

425ml (15fl ozs) buttermilk
2 tablespoons Linnwoods mixed ground seeds
2 tablespoons of mixed pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds for the top

 

Loaf tin 23×12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)

 

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 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 and 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. Sprinkle the mixed seeds on top. Bake for 60 minutes approximately or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Debbie Shaw’s Banana Bread

This is a lovely, moist loaf and a great way to use up over-ripe bananas, especially at this time of the year.

 

Vitality StatisticsBananas are a great source of potassium and energy booster. They are however very high in natural sugar and are best eaten as a snack accompanied by a few seeds or 3-4 nuts to slow the sugar release.Cinnamon is a natural blood sugar balancer, excellent in helping to combat sugar cravings.

 

Serves 10-12

 

110g (4oz) white spelt flour
110g (4oz) brown spelt flour (Ballybrado)
1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
1 teaspoon of salt
75g (3oz) Billington’s unrefined caster sugar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 large egg, beaten
75ml (3fl oz) of sunflower oil
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
65g (2 1/2oz) pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped
4 large ripe bananas, well mashed

 

Place the flour, salt, finely sieved baking powder and caster sugar into a large bowl. Lightly mix the egg, oil, vanilla and maple syrup together and add to the dry ingredient mixing very gently. Fold the pecan nuts and mashed bananas into t this mixture with a fork being careful not to over beat or mix. Place in a lined and oiled 900g (2lb) loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 1 hour. Allow it to cool in the tin before turning out.

For a Sugar Free Version:
I have also made this bread very successfully omitting the 75g (3oz) of caster sugar and ensuring that the bananas are very, very ripe and it is very tasty.

Debbie Shaw’s Spiced Pear and Ginger Crumble with Pecan Nut Topping


Because of their grainy texture and high pectin content pears are a natural diuretic and help de-toxify the body. They are also high in iodine, which helps to promote good thyroid function. Ginger is a super immune booster with potent expectorant and anti-septic properties. In addition its active compound “gingerol” helps fight cancer, improves circulation and soothes a nauseous stomach. It is a power-packed pharmacy all of its own. Ginger and pears are a match made in heaven!


Serves 6-8


8 large ripe pears, peeled and cored and cut into 1” slices lengthwise
1 scant tablespoon of dark brown Muscavado sugar
1 tablespoon of finely grated, peeled fresh root ginger
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

For the Crumble Topping


3oz (75g) white spelt flour
2oz (50g) of oats
1 heaped tablespoon of dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
25g (1oz) of cold butter
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of coarsely chopped pecan nuts

 

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

First make the crumble topping. Place the flour in a bowl and rub in the cold butter and the coconut oil. Add the sugar, cinnamon, whole oats, maple syrup and chopped pecans, mix and chill.

Place the sliced pears tossed with the brown sugar, grated ginger, lemon zest and lemon juice into an oven proof dish and sprinkle with the crumble topping loosely. Bake the crumble in the preheated oven until the topping is toasted and the pears are tender, 20-30 minutes.

 

Debbie Shaw’s Cinnamon and Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Noel’s Toffee Bananas

 

Cinnamon not only smells and tastes wonderful, it is also a great natural blood sugar balancer. Buckwheat, despite its name is gluten-free. It is not strictly a grain but the seed from a plant related to the Dock family. It is an excellent source of protein and fibre and high in rutin, which promotes circulation in the body. These pancakes are lovely for breakfast but also make a quick and tasty dessert with the chocolate drops and toffee bananas, adding extra decadence.

 

Makes 8-10 pancakes

100g (3 1/2oz) buckwheat flour
125g (4 1/2oz) organic white spelt flour
2 small free-range organic eggs
2 generous teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 generous tablespoon of unrefined caster sugar or honey
1 1/2level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
175mls (6floz) of buttermilk
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil for cooking
Maple syrup for drizzling over the pancakes (optional)
2 tablespoons of chocolate drops (for special treats or desserts)

Sieve the flours and baking soda and place them in a bowl with the ground cinnamon, the caster sugar and the salt. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs (whisk the honey into the eggs if using instead of sugar). Whisking continuously, add the buttermilk a little at a time, ensuring you whisk out the lumps before adding more buttermilk. The batter should not be runny.

 

Heat a non-stick frying pan and when it is hot add 1/2 tablespoon of sunflower oil and drop 1 tablespoon of the batter for each pancake into the hot pan. When bubbles appear on one side flip to the other side. Before flipping the pancakes you can plant a few chocolate drops in each one, flip and cook. Serve with fresh mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries) and natural yoghurt and drizzle with a little maple syrup or serve the pancakes with Noel’s Toffee Bananas.

 

Noel’s Toffee Bananas

 

Serves 5


ripe bananas
2 tablespoons of honey
2 teaspoons of soft brown sugar
juice of 2 oranges
a few knobs of butter

 

My Dad used to make these for my sister and I when we were kids (when we were good!) and they are yum. Juice the orange. Peel the bananas and cut them in half lengthwise and then in quarters on an angle. Heat a non-stick frying pan and place the bananas flat side down in the pan. Allow the bananas to caramelise on one side and turn over. Add the knob of butter, the honey and the fresh orange juice and allow to reduce and thicken. Serve hot with the pancakes and a dollop of natural probiotic yoghurt. Serve the pancakes with the bananas and some low fat natural yoghurt. Drizzle with a little maple syrup.

Hottips

Look out for Michelle and Philip Mansuy’s Bakery stall at Midleton Farmers Market and Glan Gluten at Mahon Point Farmers Market – 0862339519 – both sell superb gluten free food that any cook would be proud to serve. www.midletonfarmersmarket.com and www.mahonpointfarmersmarket.com

Two courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Debbie Shaw will teach a one day Feel Good Food for Winter course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 13th October 2012 from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Debbie has worked as a chef at Ballymaloe House and as a teacher and cookery demonstrator at the Ballymaloe Cookery School for the past 10 years. She qualified as a Naturopathic Nutritionist in 2010. She’ll teach you how to cook delicious recipes using fresh, healthy ingredients to help build up good strong immunity for the winter and will show you that whole, natural foods have the power to heal and bring vitality, happiness, and well-being.

Gluten Free Cooking with Rosemary Kearney Saturday 6th October 2012
2:00pm to 5:00pm. Rosemary has been a coeliac – and a food lover – all her life and has a keen understanding of the challenges coeliacs face.  In this course a wide range of brand new and exciting gluten-free recipes will be demonstrated promising to tantalize the taste buds of coeliacs and non-coeliacs alike.  – To book both courses phone 021 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie

Slow Food Event at the Ballymaloe Cookery School – Frank Murphy second generation local butcher from Midleton will give a talk on the forgotten cuts of beef, breed and feed, hanging times on Thursday September 27th at 7pm. Proceeds to support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Booking Essential to 021 4646785 or emailslowfoodeastcork@gmail.com

 

College Students – time to start ‘A Bottom Drawer’…

For many families around the country, these are frantically busy not to mention expensive weeks. Kids of all ages starting or going back to school or college. Both parents and students excited and apprehensive in equal measure.

Mums of college kids tell me their main worry is “How will they feed themselves?”. This week I’ll dedicate my column to easy nourishing inexpensive dishes. In order to cook one must have some basic equipment so perhaps I’ll include a ‘Student wish list’ – the equivalent of a wedding list that could be circulated to grandparents and aunties and uncles who may want to give a little present but not sure what would be useful. Some items, for example a whisk only cost a few euros others like a good cast iron casserole will cost over €150.00 but will be invaluable for making a fine pot of stew and can also double up as a cake tin and ultimately be part of their ‘bottom drawer’

 

A Bamix will puree soup, whip cream, make mayonnaise, whizz up a smoothie, it’s a brilliant electrical gadget that makes short work of otherwise laboursome tasks.

 

A couple of decent knives, a knife sharpener and a good chopping board are also essential and if there is a gas cooker, a wok from an Asian shop is the ultimate multipurpose cooking utensil. Stir fry, boil, steam, poach, scramble, one can even make an omelette in a wok.

 

Then there is the Store Cupboard List. No one can rustle up a meal if the cupboard is totally bare but some basic foods are so much more nourishing than others. Porridge (cheap and brilliantly satisfying) lentils, chickpeas and haricot beans – (buy them dry and when soaked they double in volume.)  Tinned tomatoes are invaluable for pasta sauces, soups, stews. Potatoes, filling, cheap nourishing. Cabbage, great cooked or in salads. Onions, garlic –  the basis of everything. Pasta is ok – cheap, cheerful and handy but fairly empty calories. What they’ll miss most is home cooking so try to send them off with a little copy book of hand written easy to follow family recipes that can be gradually added to – it will soon become a treasured possession.

 

Macroom Oatmeal Porridge

 

Michael Pollan wrote in his Food Rules an Eaters Manual ‘ Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother would not recognise as food’. She certainly would not approve of some of the weird breakfast cereals on offer nowadays, but she’d agree that a bowl of cheap and cheerful porridge is a perfect start to any day.

Serves 4

 

 

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.

 

French Toast with whatever you have.

 

Great with bacon, maple syrup, bananas, berries…

Serves 1

 

1 egg, free range if possible

2 tablespoons milk

1 – 2  teaspoons sugar

 

 

2 slices decent white bread

A little clarified butter

 

 

Whisk the egg in a bowl with the milk.  Add the sugar. Pour onto a plate and dip both sides of the bread in it.  Melt a little clarified butter in the pan; fry the bread on a medium heat, when golden on one side turn over onto the other.  Put on a hot plate, top with sliced banana and a blob of chilled yogurt, drizzle with maple syrup or honey and scatter with a few chopped walnuts. Serve immediately.

 

Indian ‘French toast’

 

Omit the sugar and finely chopped onion and add some chopped chilli and coriander season with salt and freshly ground black pepper – perky and delicious. 

 

Haricot Beans with Tomato and Rosemary

 

A brilliant multipurpose dish that can be vegetarian but also delicious with cubes of streaky bacon, belly of pork or a few slices of chorizo sausage.

 

Serves 4-6

 

1 cup dried haricot beans

bouquet garni

1 onion

1 carrot

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 ozs (170g) chopped onion

4 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 x 14 oz (400g) tin tomatoes

1 large sprig rosemary chopped, approx 1 tablespoon

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

 

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

 

Meanwhile sweat the chopped onion gently in olive oil in a wide saucepan until soft but not coloured, approx. 7-8 minutes add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, add the chopped tomato and their juice, add the cooked beans, and chopped rosemary. Simmer for 10-15 minutes add some of the bean liquid if necessary and season well with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.

 

Note: The mixture should be juicy but not swimming in liquid.

 

Gratin of Haricot Beans with Tomato and Rosemary

Put the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish.  Scatter a mixture of buttered crumbs and grated cheese over the top and put into a hot oven or flash under a grill until crisp and golden on top.

 

Haricot Beans with Tomato and Rosemary with Chorizo

Add 1 chorizo, sliced, to the tomato base with the beans and rosemary.

 

 

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, bursting with vitamins and minerals.

 

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

 

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 and vinegar together.  Toss the salad in the dressing until well coated.  Taste and correct seasoning and serve soon.

 

Mammy’s Lamb Stew

 

Great to have an all-purpose recipe for stew. Beef, chicken thighs or shoulder of pork can be substituted for lamb. Ask the butcher for neck of lamb chops, they are cheapest but still sweet and succulent.

The word stew is often associated in these islands with not very exciting mid-week dinners. People tend to say almost apologetically, oh its only stew, no matter how delicious it is.

Well, let me tell you they smack their lips in France at the mere mention of a great big bubbling stew and now these gutsy, comforting pots are appearing on many of the smartest restaurant menus.

 

Serves 4-6

 

 

4 lb (1.8kg) neck or gigot or rack chops from the shoulder of lamb not less than 2.5cm (1 inch thick)

12 ozs (350g) green streaky bacon (blanch if salty)

seasoned white flour, preferably unbleached

a little butter or oil for sautéing

1 lb (450g) onions, (baby ones are nicest)

12 ozs (350g) carrot, peeled and thickly sliced

1 3/4 pints (750ml) approx. lamb or chicken stock

8-12 ‘old’ potatoes (optional)

sprig of thyme

roux – optional, Mushroom a la Crème (optional) For this recipe see Darina’s Letter of the Week http://letters.cookingisfun.ie/2009/02/28/burger-culture/

 

Garnish

1 dessertspoon freshly chopped parsley

 

Cut the rind off bacon and cut into approx. 1/2 inch (1cm) cubes blanch if salty and dry in kitchen paper. Divide the lamb into 8 pieces and roll in seasoned flour. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until crisp, remove and put in a casserole. Add the lamb to the pan and sauté until golden then add to the bacon in the casserole. Heat control is crucial here, the pan mustn’t burn yet it must be hot enough to sauté the lamb. If it is cool the lamb will stew rather than sauté and as a result the meat may be tough. Then quickly sauté the onions and carrots, adding a little butter if necessary, and put them into the casserole. Degrease the sauté pan and deglaze with the stock, bring to the boil, pour over the lamb.

 

Cover the top of the stew with peeled potatoes (if using) and season well. Add a sprig of thyme and bring to simmering point on top of the stove, cover the pot and then put into the oven for 45-60 minutes, 180C/350F/regulo 4. Cooking time depends on how long the lamb was sautéed for.

 

When the casserole is just cooked, strain off the cooking liquid, degrease and return degreased liquid to the casserole and bring to the boil. Thicken with a little roux if necessary. Add back in the meat, carrots, onions and potatoes, bring back to the boil.

The casserole is very good served at this point, but it’s even more delicious if some Mushroom a la Crème is stirred in as an enrichment. Serve bubbling hot sprinkled with chopped parsley.

 

Apple Crumble

 

Everyone loves a comforting crumble. The fruit can vary with the seasons, plums, blackberries, rhubarb and strawberry, gooseberry.

 

Serves 6-8

 

Crumbles are comfort food; vary the fruit according to the season.

 

1 1/2 lbs (675g) Bramley Seedling cooking apples

1 1/2-2 ozs (45-50g) sugar

1-2 tablespoons water

 

Crumble

4 ozs (110g) white flour, preferably unbleached

2 ozs (50g) cold butter

2 ozs (50g) castor sugar

1 oz (25g) chopped almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

 

2 pint (1.1L) capacity pie dish

 

Peel the apples, cut into quarters, remove the core and cut into large cubes.

Turn into a pie dish. Sprinkle with sugar.

 

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs, add the sugar and cinnamon and chopped nuts if using. Sprinkle this mixture over the apple in the pie dish. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with whipped cream and soft brown sugar

 

A Store Cupboard List

 

Onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, eggs, free range if possible. Flour, e.g. plain, self raising, strong brown, strong white, coarse brown. Oatmeal, pasta/noodles/spaghetti/macaroni/shells/penne etc…grains, couscous, bulgar, long grain Basmati rice.

Tinned tomatoes, mature Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, chicken stock/cube

Butter, extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil

Some whole spices eg. coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, cloves, chilli flakes

Dried Fruit and Apricots, Homemade jam, Irish honey, marmalade

Tortillas – and pitta bread

Soy Sauce, Nam pla – (fish sauce), sweet chilli sauce, salami, chorizo

 

 

Hottips

 

Discovery of the Week – Luke Murphy’s goat cheese, an Irish chévre log with a furry white coat, ready to eat after three weeks. Luke’s Mammy, Jane Murphy who makes the Ardsallagh goat cheese is very proud of this new addition and so she should be – look out for it – 021 – 4882336

 

A Date for Your Diary – Slow Food Ireland Apple and Craft Cider Festival, Cahir, Co Tipperary – 22nd– 23rd September – Since 2011 there has been resurgence in interest in craft ciders and this is a rare opportunity to sample many of the new ciders from around Ireland under one roof. You can compare and contrast the various styles and as a rare treat you can try some specially commissioned traditional Irish cider, made to Dick Keating’s recipe and guaranteed to lift the fur off your tongue, at 13 per cent volume it’s not for the faint hearted, and much much more

www.slowfoodireland.com/ciderfest

 

Waterford Harvest Festival – 10th to 16th September – a week-long festival with an extraordinary variety of options, Slow Food Tours, Artisan Beer, Cookery and Forgotten Skills demonstrations…The fourth annual GIY (Grow it Yourself) gathering is on today Saturday 15th and tomorrow Sunday 16th in the Theatre Royal in Waterford–www.waterfordharvesfestival.ie

 

Fancy having a few hens – choose form a brilliant selection of chickens and fancy fowl, Marrrans, Blackrock, Light Sussex, Aracuna, Buff Orpington, Bantams…first and third Sunday of everymonth, beside Two Mile Inn between Midelton and Castlemartyr.

Bread Revolution

A few days break at last and despite the erratic weather I’m not even tempted to head for the airport. A few days relaxing in West Cork, I am totally chilled and ready for a skite or two, a visit to a Farmhouse Cheese-maker, fish smoker, basket weaver, chocolatier– I’m fascinated by handmade and artisan skills. In West Cork one is spoiled for choice there is always something new.  It’s where it all began but the innovation continues.

I recently at the Liss Ard Food Festival came across Ross McDowell doing biltong – strips of dried Irish beef cured with herbs, spices, brown vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and sugar. Skibbereen Farmers Market every Saturday morning is a particularly vibrant mix of local food, craft, bric a brac and fancy fowl.  Look out for Hayley Milthorpe and Janine Murphy who are doing a number of fermented products, tomato sauce, tomato and green pepper relish, sauerkraut and mustard, they have a little stall.

Teenager, Ian Lynch from Ballymacrown was selling free range eggs from his nine brown hens and young Mary MacSeoin who won Slow Food Grandmothers recipe competition a few years back was selling flap jacks; homemade blackberry jam and marmalade from her pretty little stall – a joy to see more young food entrepreneurs emerging and Farmers Markets encouraging them.

New food businesses are bubbling up all over the place and not just on the main land one of the most exciting new ventures is on Heir Island just off Baltimore, I recently took the five minute ferry trip across from Connamore to visit the Fire House Bakery and Cookery School. We ambled up the windy boreen from the pier, past Island Cottage Restaurant (one of my very favourite places to eat anywhere in the world). The hedges were bursting with montbretia, meadow sweet, honeysuckle and heather.

Patrick Ryan and his partner Laura Moore have settled into Heir Island close to the water’s edge. There behind wicker fencing is an outdoor wood burning oven and demonstration area. As we arrived Patrick was just about to put his rye sour dough loaves in the handmade brick oven. They have been rising for over six hours; he turns them gently onto the bread peel, slashes the top with a razor sharp blade and slides them onto the floor of the beehive shaped oven. He puffs in some steam from a green plastic rose mister to create a crisp and chewy crust – his enthusiasm is infectious. This is just one of a whole range of sour dough, yeast and soda breads that Patrick makes and teaches here in his brand new Bakery School on Heir Island. It’s a wonderful story; Patrick originally from Co Laois the youngest of five describes himself as the ‘black sheep’ of the family. He has a degree in corporate law but swapped the legal tomes for chef’s knives after a summer in Greece. He then went on to work in Michelin starred restaurants including Kevin Thornton’s Dublin restaurant. Two years travel included South American, New Zealand, Australia and Fiji where his path crossed with Duncan Glendinning –  this led him to Bath where the pair set up the award winning Thoughtful Bread Company – then went on to do TV and co-write the Bread Revolution. He and his partner Laura Moore have now moved back to Heir Island, where they run a series of one and two day bread courses, coupled with a convivial B&B and bakery. Check out the website, they also do bespoke courses plus family baking courses – what fun that would be.

www.firehouse.ie – 0851561984 –  info@thefirehouse.ie

 

Rustic White Baguette

Taken from the Bread Revolution Cookbook

 

Makes 2 baguettes

150 g (5 oz) potato

500 g (1 lb 2 oz)

strong white bread flour

15 g ( 3 tsp) fine sea salt

10 g (2 tsp) fresh yeast or 7 g (1 tsp)

dried or fast-action yeast

225 ml (7 fl oz) water

4 tsp rapeseed or olive oil

 

There is just something irresistible about a baguette, especially when it’s fresh out of the oven. There’s always the urge to tear straight into it. No bread book would be complete without the mighty baguette – so here’s our version.

 

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain and mash – or if you have mash from last night’s dinner, even better. (If the mash is creamy, hold back a little water when you mix it into the flour.)

 

Combine the flour, salt and mashed potato in a bowl and form a well in the centre. Crumble the yeast into the water and stir to dissolve, then add the yeasted water and oil to the well. Bring together into a dough with a wooden spoon or with a spatula. Turn the dough out on to a clean kitchen surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until you achieve the windowpane effect (see page 29). The dough should be soft and supple. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to prove for 60–80 minutes or until doubled in size. Turn the dough out and knock it back, then divide in half.

 

To form a baguette, flatten the dough evenly into a rectangle, then roll it up into a cylindrical shape. It should resemble a sausage about 30 cm (12 in) long. Using the palms of your hands and starting in the middle, roll the dough to lengthen the baguette, moving from the middle to the outer edges, until it is about 50 cm (20 in) long – but check that it will fit in your oven! Place each baguette on a lightly oiled baking tray and cover with a damp cloth. Prove for 50–60 minutes.

 

Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/Gas 8) and place a roasting tray in the bottom. Before baking lightly dust each baguette with flour and use a baker’s blade (lame) or a sharp serrated knife to score the top with a series of cuts at a slight angle. Place the loaves in the oven and steam by adding ice cubes or cold water to the tray. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through to ensure even cooking. The baguettes should be crisp and golden.

 

Ham Hock Terrine

Taken from the Bread Revolution Cookbook

 

Serves 4-6

 

3 ham hocks

3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

1 white onion, roughly chopped

1 tsp peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp capers, finely chopped

4 baby gherkins (pickles), finely chopped

sea salt & freshly ground

black pepper

 

The idea of making a terrine might seem daunting but we are here to show that it’s a lot easier than you think. This terrine is basically a mosaic of layered ham and can be dressed up or down for any occasion – it’ll put a smile on the face of even the most critical foodie. Hocks are packed with flavour and cheap as chips, so speak to your butcher.

 

Place the ham hocks in a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Simmer for five minutes – you will find that all the impurities come to the surface. Remove the ham hocks and rinse in cold water, return to a clean saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil again. Reduce to a gentle simmer and add the vegetables,

peppercorns, coriander seeds and bay leaf. Cover with a lid and simmer on a gentle heat for 2½–3 hours, until the meat is tender and easily pulls away from the bone.

 

Remove the ham hocks and set aside to cool. Strain the cooking liquor through a fine sieve and return it to a clean saucepan. Place on a medium heat and boil until reduced by half. Peel the fat from the ham hocks and discard. Flake the meat off the bone with your fingers and put in a bowl.

 

Add the parsley, capers and gherkins and check the seasoning, although you may not need anything further. Add 4 tbsp (60 ml/2 fl oz) of the cooking liquor and stir in to bind everything together.

 

Line a terrine mould – or a 400 g or 1 lb loaf tin – with two layers of clingfilm, allowing for about a 5 cm (2 in) overhang all round. Fill the terrine mould with the meat. Press the mixture down and pour in the remaining cooking liquor until it just covers the top.

 

Fold over the clingfilm and put the terrine in the fridge overnight to set, placing a heavy weight on top.

 

To serve remove the terrine from the mould, unwrap the clingfilm and cut into slices with a sharp knife. Delicious with a tangy chutney or piccalilli and a freshly made crusty baguette.

 

Salmon Tartare

Taken from the Bread Revolution Cookbook

  

Serves 4

200 g (7 oz) raw salmon, finely diced

1 shallot, finely diced

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp finely chopped capers

1 tsp chopped dill

1 tsp snipped chives

½ tsp golden caster (superfine) sugar

½ tsp sea salt

3 tsp olive oil

 

Tartare is a finely chopped mixture of raw meat or fish with seasonings. This salmon tartare lets the quality of the fish speak for itself and the recipe delivers fresh, clean flavours in spades. Like bread, fish is best eaten super-fresh, so ask your fishmonger when it was caught, and about cheap and sustainable alternatives.

 

Put the diced salmon and the shallot into a bowl (chopping your ingredients finely will make all the difference). Add the lemon zest, capers, dill and chives and mix all the ingredients together. Season with sugar and salt. Bind all the ingredients with the olive oil and lemon juice. The acid in the lemon juice slowly cooks the salmon.

Serve in a bowl with shards of rye crackers on the side.

 

Rye Crackers

Taken from the Bread Revolution Cookbook

 

Makes 12 crackers

400 g (14 oz) rye flour

5 g (1 tsp) fine sea salt

10 g (2 tsp) fresh yeast or 7 g (1 tsp)

dried or fast-action yeast

10 g (1 ts p) honey

350 ml (12 fl oz) water

 

For something a little different to share around, try these wheat-free crackers made from rye. Naturally lower in gluten, this flour can sometimes be difficult to turn into a loaf but really lends itself well to making these crackers. With their unmistakable flavour, they crisp up to make the perfect party food.

 

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Crumble the yeast in the water, stir to dissolve and pour the yeasted water and honey into the well. Bring the mix together using a spatula – it should form a stiff, wet dough.

 

Instead of kneading, simply cover the dough with clingfilm or a damp cloth and leave to prove for 60 minutes. The dough should appear slightly puffed up, but not doubled in size as you would expect from wheat bread dough.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6) and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and roll out each portion into the shape you would like – rectangle, circle or oval. Try to roll the dough as thinly as possible, to 2 mm (1/12 in) if you can. You may have to work the dough in several batches. Bake the crackers for 18—20 minutes, until crisp. Once cool they should keep crisp for a few days in an airtight container.

 

 

Hottips

Midleton Food & Drink Festival 2012 is on today Saturday, 8th September.

 

Fancy Building your own Wood Burning Oven? Contact West Cork Oven building guru Hendrik Lepel who crafted the Fire House oven. Hendrik does courses but also accepts commissions. www.bakehus.com 086-8838400 or kirdnehl@hotmail.com

 

Bread Revolution written by Patrick Ryan and Duncan Glendinning published by Murdoch Books will take the mystery out of bread making and also has some of the boys’ other well tried favourite recipes.

 

Irish Biltong – brilliant to take in your rucksack on a hike, perfect for picnics or just to nibble with a beer – Ross McDowell – 0872425173 –  info@tong.ie

 

Hayley Milthorpe and Janine Murphy’s fermented products 02823648.

 

Growing Good Things

If you are one of those people who started to grow vegetables for the first time this year, don’t be despondent. In Spring you would have embarked on this new adventure full of excitement and expectation clutching a few shiny seed packets and a pocket full of dreams of shelling peas, picking ripe juicy tomatoes and rummaging in the soil for potatoes.

Up to recently your hopes will have been well and truly dashed. Well, let me cheer you up – in all the years we’ve been growing tomatoes (over 50) we don’t remember a year where they ripened so late and were so lacking in flavour – like all of us they need the sun to sweeten up. At this stage we’ve removed most of the leaves so that the remainder of the crop can ripen.

The soft fruit and berries have also been a nightmare to harvest this year, days pass when we can’t get out to pick any fruit, if the berries are picked wet they simply don’t keep, the flavour is diluted and jam goes mouldy within a short time, but we’ll just eat it up quickly.

Don’t be tempted to give up it’s such a joy to have even a little home-grown produce – reckon to try again next year.

We’re fortunate to have a greenhouse that we use as a protected garden, so we have an abundance of produce for the cookery school, all be it much later than usual. The surplus is sold at the Farmers Market and at the Farm Shop on the farm.

A few weeks ago we had a Long Table Dinner in the midst of the tomatoes, scarlet runner beans and salad leaves in the greenhouse. We planted a lawn in one of the bays which provided a soft green carpet underfoot. It was so lovely to eat in the midst of the beautiful vegetables and herbs – the menu was a celebration of the work of the gardeners, farmers, local fishermen and artisan producers. Friends played music and the wine we enjoyed with every course was supplied by Mas de Daumas Gassac from Red Nose Wines. Altogether a memorable evening.

 

Pan Grilled Mackerel with Marsh Samphire and Sauce Vierge

 

Marsh samphire will still be in season for another few weeks.

 

Serves 4

 

4 fresh mackerel, filleted

seasoned flour

175g (6oz) marsh samphire

 

Sauce Vierge

sprigs of parsley

 

First make the sauce. Bring saucepan of water to the boil, cook the samphire for 3 – 5 minutes, depending on size, drain and toss in a little butter.

Heat a pan grill on a high heat. Dip the dry fillets one at a time into well-seasoned flour, pat off excess, spread a little soft butter over the flesh side of the fish as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly.

When the grill is hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets, butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes (time depends on the thickness of the fish). Turnover and cook on the other side until crisp and golden.

To serve put a little samphire on a hot plate, lay two fillets, one flesh, and one skin side at an angle on top. Sprinkle a little Sauce Vierge over the top or alternatively put three teaspoons around the side.

Garnish with a few sprigs of parsley.

 

Sauce Vierge

 

450g (1lb) ripe, firm tomatoes

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch of sugar

1 tablespoon chervil, chopped

1 tablespoon tarragon chopped

1 dessertspoon torn basil leaves

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

60ml (2 1/4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

 

Peel the tomatoes, cut into quarters, remove the seeds and cut into neat 1cm (1/2 inch) dice.

 

Put the tomato into a bowl and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Add the herbs.  Drizzle over the wine vinegar, stir to combine, then pour over the olive oil.  The sauce is best served within 1-2 hours.

 

Italian Pork Stew with Tomatoes

 

A quick and easy nutritious stew which is a meal in itself. Serve with noodles, potatoes or rice and a good green salad.

 

Serves 4 – 6

 

90ml (6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil)

1 onions or 4 shallots, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

4 celery stalks, finely chopped

100gg (2 oz) pancetta or bacon, cut into lardons

1kg (2¼lb) stewing pork, cut into 5 – 6 cm (1 – 1 ½ inch)

seasoned flour

80ml (2 ½ fl oz) dry white wine

400g (14 oz) tinned tomatoes, chopped or 450g (1lb) ripe tomatoes peeled

150ml (5fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks

125g (4 ½ oz) fresh or frozen peas

1 tablespoon annual marjoram chopped

2 tablespoons parsley coarsely chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Add the shallots, carrot, celery and pancetta or bacon. Sweat on a medium heat for 4 – 5 minutes.

Meanwhile heat a little more extra virgin olive oil in wide frying pan on a high heat.

Dust the pieces of pork in seasoned flour, shaking off the excess, Add the meat. Seal on all sides, you may need to do this in batches – add a little more extra virgin olive oil to the casserole.

Add the white wine and allow to evaporate.

Stir in the tomatoes and half the stock and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat, add a sprig of thyme, and cover with a lid. Cook for 25 minutes on a gentle heat or transfer to a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Mark 4 until the meat is cooked through. If you find the stew dries up add a little more hot stock.

Add the potato chunks and cook for a further 15 minutes, add the peas and cook for a further 4 – 5 minutes on a low heat, stirring from time to time. Remove from the heat, taste and correct seasoning. Scatter with parsley and serve.

 

Summer Green Bean, Tomato and Lemon Basil Salad

 

Serves 4

 

300g (10 ½ oz) fresh beans cooked until al dente (see recipe for Perfect

4 ripe tomatoes, sliced

700g (1½ lb) baby new potatoes, unpeeled and cooked until tender

200g (7oz) hard mozzarella, cubed

8 – 10 green olives, pitted

a few fresh basil leaves – lemon basil is super delicious here

 

Dressing

 

8ml/2 ½ fl oz extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 garlic clove crushed

1 tablespoon marjoram chopped

 

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Put the al dente green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, mozzarella and olives into a wide bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together for a dressing. Pour over the vegetables, toss gently and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Scatter a few basil leaves on top – lemon basil is delicious.

Toss well, leave to rest for a few minutes and serve.

 

Perfect French Beans

 

The proportion of salt to water is vitally important for the flavour of the beans and all green vegetables – it sounds a lot but try it.

 

Serves

 

900g (2 lb) French beans

1.1 litres (2 pints) water

3 teaspoons sea salt

30-50g (1-2 oz) butter or extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Choose beans of a similar size.  Top and tail the beans. If they are small and thin leave them whole, if they are larger cut them into 2.5-4cm (1-1 1/2 inch) pieces at a long angle.

 

Bring the water to a fast rolling boil, add 3 teaspoons of salt then toss in the beans. Continue to boil very fast for 5-6 minutes or until just cooked (they should still retain a little bite). Drain immediately.* Melt the butter or extra virgin olive oil in the saucepan, toss the beans in it, taste, season with freshly ground pepper and a little sea salt if necessary.

 

* The beans may be refreshed under cold water at this point and kept aside for several hours.

 

To reheat precooked Beans: Just before serving, plunge into boiling salted water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, drain and toss in butter. Season and serve immediately.

 

Beauty of Bath Tart

 

Despite the inclement weather we have a fantastic crop of Beauty of Bath Apples. They are one of the earliest to ripen and for many people of a certain age bring back memories of robbing orchards in their childhood. We’ve been enjoying them in a myriad of ways; just as they are, in apple muesli for breakfast and we are loving the bittersweet pressed juice that we make in our brand new centrifuge. Try this caramelised apple tart, it is another of our favourites.

 

Makes approx. 12 tartlets or two open tarts 8 inch (20cm) diameter

 

1/2 lb (225g) Flaky, Puff, or Shortcrust pastry

4-6  dessert or cooking apples preferably Beauty of Bath

4-6 tablespoons granulated sugar, approx. (Allow a well heaped teaspoon per tartlet)

 

2 x 8 inch (20.5cm) pie plates or 12 patty tins

 

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Line the tins with thinly rolled pastry, the pastry should be about as thick as a coin for tartlets slightly thicker for tarts.

 

Thinly peel and quarter apples, then cut them into slices 1/8 inch (3mm) thick. Arrange them on the pastry in overlapping slices. Sprinkle liberally with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes approx. in the hot oven 220C/425F/gas mark 7. The juice of the apples will caramelise with the sugar. Serve with softly whipped cream or better still Glenilen Crème Fraiche.

 

NOTE: It is essential to put enough sugar on these tarts or tartlets; otherwise they will not caramelise properly.

 

Ballymaloe Apple Muesli

 

Serves 2

 

This recipe can be made in a few minutes and is so full of vitamins you’ll be jumping out of your skin all day! If you want to score ‘brownie points’ make some for your Mama and Dada and bring it to them on a tray in bed.

 

4 tablespoons rolled oats (the Speedicook type, we use Kilbeggan or Flahavans )

3 tablespoons water

2 large dessert apples eg. Beauty of Bath or Worcester Permain or 4 small apples eg. Cox’s Orange Pippin

1 teaspoon honey approx.

 

To Serve

Soft brown sugar and maybe a little runny cream

 

Equipment

1 grater

 

Measure out the water into a bowl and sprinkle the oatmeal on top.  Let the oatmeal soak up the water while you grate the apple.  A stainless steel grater is best for this job, use the largest side and grate the apple coarsely, skin and all.  I grate through the core, but watch your fingers when you are coming close to the end, pick out the pips and discard.  Stir a tea spoonful of honey into the oatmeal and then stir in the grated apple, taste, if it needs a little more honey add it, this will depend on how much you heaped up the spoon earlier on. Divide it between two bowls. Have one yourself and give the other to your favourite person that morning. It should taste delicious just like that but will taste even scrummier if you sprinkle over a little soft brown Barbados sugar and a very little runny cream.

Hottips

I have just eaten a finger of the most divine confection, which I spied in the window of Gwen’s French Café in the courtyard in Schull, three luscious layers – a genoise base, a layer of superb dark chocolate ganashe with crispy croccante, topped with a milk chocolate mousse dredged with unsweetened cocoa – believe me it’s worth driving to Schull especially, one bite and you won’t care how long it stays on your hips. There is also the bonus of the café and the opportunity to pick up some of Gwen’s handmade chocolates. http://www.schullcourtyard.com/gwens-chocolates.html

 

Tea to Think About – Teabags don’t do it for me I’m a loose tea girl myself and I’ve never understood their appeal particularly as most seem to be full of ‘tea dust’. The two lads Sean Moran and Jonathan Wilson from Nood Teas had a similar dilemma, they found it difficult to get real tea at a decent price and impossible to get real tea in handy tea bags, so in 2011 they set about sourcing great tea and bleach free, glue free, staple free, hundred per cent biodegradable teabags, the end result is individually wrapped teabags filled with superb quality leaf tea. The company is called Nood and their teas are now widely available – 012542257 – hello@nood-world.com  – www.nood-world.com

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