ArchiveJanuary 2014

New Trends in Food 2014

It’s a hugely exciting time to be in food. Farmers are more optimistic about the future than they have been in years and a high percentage of start-up businesses are food related.

There’s innovation at every level so it’s fun to ponder on emerging food trends in different sectors. For dedicated food trend spotters it’s always worth studying what’s hot in the US and UK because much of that will be coming our way in the not too distant future. It used to take 4 – 5 years but in the current techie age all that has speeded up considerably.

In the US, according to Conagra Foods 62% of consumers want to support companies that have ethical policies and donate to important social causes.

Customers are fast becoming more educated about supermarket practices and products, they want more sustainable packaging and less plastic wrapping, so we’re beginning to see the use of new technology to create edible wrappers.

Online shopping and apps appear to be a strong trend for the future with many consumers, deciding what they will cook for supper by browsing for recipes on their smart phones.

On the other hand there is a definite small shop revival in many cities – a counter reaction to the super convenient increasingly impersonal shopping experience.

There is a growing realisation that the 24/7 snacking habit is here to stay. According to Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert there are lots of opportunities to capitalise on that by supplying ‘better for you’ and ‘on the go’ options.

Food waste continues to be an issue but using up leftovers making the most of lesser known fish and cuts of meat has never been so trendy.

As allergies and food intolerances continue to rise ‘Free From’ foods gain more and more shelf space and create opportunities for food entrepreneurs.

Every year there seems to be a new super food, 2013 it was kale – so what’s coming up? Some predict the humble cauliflower and kohlrabi, I certainly saw lots of cardoons on fancy restaurant menus in the US last year.

Ancient beans and grains like freekeh, faro, teff and the humble pearl barley are definitely causing renewed excitement. We’ll see even more adventurous use of spices, chilli and exotic flavourings in home kitchens not just to jazz up increasingly bland ingredients but for their health benefits – turmeric for example has antibacterial properties and is a powerful antioxidant.

Tea has been predicted to be the new coffee for quite some time now but it’s been slow in coming however things are hotting up. Starbucks have joined forces with Teavana in the US to open the first Tea Bar in New York. Check out The Tea Shop on MacCurtain Street in Cork City which offers Ireland’s biggest selection of loose leaf teas and the Palais des Thés on 31 Wicklow Street in Dublin.

The cronut, Dominique Ansel’s cross between a croissant and a donut was the hottest food item in New York last year and they’re still queuing around the corner of Spring Street.

Ramen Shops popped up everywhere and now at last we have a Ramen restaurant in Cork on 21 Angelsea Street (021) 4317116.

We’re slurping noodles in every shape and form. They are hot and getting hotter.  Check out Koya Udon noodle restaurant on 49 Frith Street in London.

Burgers continue to endure but the ones that are making waves are boasting higher fat and better provenance. 2013 was the year of the innovative bun, lots of new twists and flavours and even brioche. The big success story in the fast food area in the US was Wendys Bacon Cheeseburger on a Pretzel bun.

Our love affair with bacon continues but now for top chefs and cooks it’s about house-cured bacon, hams, sausages and salami.

Fermenting and pickling continues to excite both cooks and diners. Home smoking is a growing trend. Top restaurants are seeking out hand-made, traditional and cultured butter and cream. Artisan and local foods are still very strong, sustainable fish and home-made or as they say in the US house-made ice cream, granitas and sorbets made with seasonal ingredients.

Vegetables are gradually edging their way to the centre stage. Vegan is becoming more main stream and we will see more veggie dishes in non-vegetarian restaurants. The Grain Store in London continues to cause a stir and we’re noticing more salads as an art form.

Small plates, sharing dishes, and small plate desserts are huge hit with restaurant customers.

Top chefs are growing their own on rooftops and balconies and more chefs own their own farms, and are employing foragers and are incorporating seasonal wild foods into their menus. Supermarkets like Wholefoods in the US are putting vegetable gardens and tunnels on their roofs.

The Dim Sum concept is being adapted with considerable success in many restaurants.

The Nordic Food Movement continues to inspire.

One Food Wonders or Single Item restaurants seem to be an enduring trend, not just burgers but chicken, pork, polenta, mozzarella, potatoes…

The interest in hand-made and craft items, farmhouse cheeses and artisan foods endures and there’s a renewed interest in ‘ethnic’ cheeses, queso fresco, halloumi, paneer, heirloom varieties of tomatoes, speciality salt, urban honey, raw honey.  Leaves, banana, taro, kaffir lime leaves. At a recent meal that I enjoyed Fäviken in Sweden Magnus Nielson steamed potatoes in Autumn leaves.

New ethnic flavours continue to excite, the sales of Sriracha, the Thai hot sauce are catching up on ketchup.

There’s also huge excitement in the drinks area – craft brewers and micro distillers are popping up everywhere. Chefs are making house-made lemonade, sodas, bitters, ratafias…Natural wines are exploding – orange wine is a cult. Cocktails and mocktails and liqueurs are ever more exciting and inventive and there’s lots more but I’ve run out of space.

 

Ottolenghi’s Bulgur and Cauliflower Tabouleh with Red Onion, Pomegranate and Sweet Spices

 

Serves 4

 

600g (1 1/4 lb) cauliflower florets (1 large or 2 medium heads)

240g (8 3/4 ozs) fine bulgur, soaked in 500ml (18fl oz) of boiling water for 10 minutes, then squeezed dry

4 celery sticks, finely sliced at an angle

1 red onion, finely sliced

80g (3 ozs) whole almonds, lightly toasted and roughly broken

a handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley

seeds from 1 pomegranate

 

Dressing

 

4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons caster sugar

100ml (3 1/2 fl ozs) olive oil

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and black pepper

 

Preheat the oven 190ºC/375ºF/gas mark 5.

 

Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet, lined with greaseproof paper, and roast for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden and just tender; set aside to cool.

To make the dressing, combine the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside for 5 minutes.

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and arrange on a plate. Spoon the dressing on top and serve.

 

Rachel Allen’s Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata

 

Gremolata is an Italian condiment made from a mixture of garlic, parsley and lemon peel that is traditionally served with braised veal but is equally at home sprinkled over fish and provides a lovely tangy foil to roasted cauliflower, as here. By roasting cauliflower the florets take on a charred crispness while the flesh remains soft and yielding.

Serves 4–6

 

2 cauliflowers, cut into florets

110ml (4fl oz) olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

For the Gremolata

Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated

4 tbsp finely chopped parsley

2 tsp olive oil

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas mark 6.

Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl and mix with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time, until the cauliflower is tender and just browned at the edges.

While the cauliflower is roasting, make the gremolata by simply mixing all the ingredients together and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. When the cauliflower is cooked, lightly mix with the gremolata and serve.

Ottolenghi’s Kohlrabi and White Cabbage Slaw with Lemon Zest, Tarragon, Dill and Sesame Seeds

 

Serves 4

 

1 kohlrabi bulb (300g/10 1/2oz)

200g (7 ozs) white cabbage

30g (1 1/4 oz) parsley, chopped

30g (1 1/4 oz) dill, chopped

30g (1 1/4 oz) tarragon, chopped

70g (2 3/4 oz) dried cranberries

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

120ml (3 3/4ml) lemon juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup

60ml (2 1/2 fl ozs) olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

salt and black pepper

 

Peel the kohlrabi, slice thinly and cut into matchsticks. Slice the cabbage as thinly as possible.

Place together in a mixing bowl all of the ingredient, mix well, taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.

 

Smoked Gubbeen and Pearl Barley Salad with Toasted Almonds, Apple and Pomegranate Seeds

 

Pearl Barley is inexpensive and fantastically nourishing – lots of protein, vitamins, and minerals – some varieties are also high in Lysine.  In tandem with other grains it’s having a revival of interest in gastronomic circles.  We also use it for pilaffs and to add to Winter stews as casserole like our Granny’s did!

 

Serves 4-8

 

6 1/2oz (165g) pearl barley

1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) water

1 teaspoon salt

2 dessert apples, Cox’s orange or Gala, cored and diced

freshly squeezed lemon juice of 1 lemon

seeds from 1/2-1 pomegranate, depending on size

2 1/2oz (65g) halved toasted almonds

coarsely chopped diced smoked Gubbeen cheese

 

Dressing

125ml (4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons Forum Chardonnay vinegar or cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Flat parsley leaves

 

Put the pearl barley and water into a saucepan and add salt. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.

 

Drain very well. Whisk the extra virgin olive oil and vinegar and crushed garlic together, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss while still warm. Spread out to cool.

 

Meanwhile, quarter and dice the apple. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top, and add the pomegranate seeds, well toasted almonds and diced smoked Gubbeen cheese. Add the remainder of the dressing. Toss gently and combine with the pearl barley. Taste and correct the seasoning. Transfer to a serving dish and allow the flavours to meld for an hour or so. Scatter with flat parsley leaves and serve.

 

Hottips

 

Fermented and Cultured Foods hands-on course on Sunday 23rd February at The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim  with Hans and Gaby Wieland. Cultured foods are “superfoods” celebrated around the world for their health benefits  (digestive tonics, probiotic, antioxidant rich). They are delicious and easy to create.  Among the recipes covered on this course are Kombucha (fermented tea), Sauerkraut (lacto fermented cabbage), Kim-chee (Korean fermented vegetables), Kefir (fermented dairy drink), Rejuvelac (fermented grains). Lots of tastings and sources for the various cultures will be given. €65.00 – www.theorganiccentre.ie

 

East Cork Slow Food event – Celebrate St Brigid, Irish Patron Saint of Dairy on Thursday January 30th 2014. Eileen Cowhig will show us how to make St Brigid’s crosses from local rushes at the Ballymaloe Cookery School at 7pm. Tickets €8.00. €6.00 for Slow Food Members. Coffee and a homemade biscuit from 6.30pm. Enquiries 021 4646785.

 

Monty’s of Kathmandu – Dublin

Shiva and Lina Gautam travelled from Kathmandu in 1996 with the lofty ambition of opening a Nepalese restaurant. They had planned to have their dream restaurant in Richmond in London but an Irish friend enticed them to Ireland saying ‘Why not Dublin? There isn’t a single decent curry house in Dublin and your restaurant would fly here.’ A seed was firmly planted so they worked on a plan to see if the idea could become reality.

Their first priority was to find someone who could back them. They took a giant leap of faith and signed a 25 year lease. The next challenge was to find chefs with knowledge of Nepalese food. They managed to entice two chefs from London to Dublin and on 25th September 1997 they opened Montys of Kathmandu. Sadly or perhaps fortuitously neither of the two chefs could settle in Dublin so Shiva and Lina were faced with a dilemma, either to close the doors or don aprons and go into the kitchen themselves, they haven’t looked back since.

Sixteen years later Lina has published Lina’s Nepalese Cookbook with a collection of the best loved Nepalese recipes which Myrtle Allen describes as a ‘must read book before visiting Nepal.’

When Lina was growing up, eating out in a restaurant was a very rare occurrence. Once or twice when she was little she got the opportunity to dine in a beautiful restaurant. She still has vivid memories of one such meal and can picture the whole fish in the centre of the table.  “It looked and smelled so delicious but we were with my father’s boss so I had to wait patiently for my turn. I was so worried that the adults might finish the dish before it came to me, but to my relief there was enough for all of us and I can still taste that delicious fish.”

Lina spent most of her childhood in Kathmandu, but every year her family travelled around Nepal following her father’s various jobs, so she had the chance to experience many different cultures and food traditions.

Nepali cuisine can be described as a fusion of Indian and Chinese cuisine, with spices like cumin, coriander, Szechuan pepper, garlic and ginger, so the end result reflects Nepalese culture and demographic diversity.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to dine at Montys of Kathmandu in Temple Bar, Dublin yet, here are some recipes from Lina’s Nepalese Cookbook to whet your appetite. Order the book from Montys of Kathmandu’s website www.monty.ie

 

Lina Gautam’s Spicy Gizzards (Ghuseuto Tareko)

 

Serves 4–6 as a side, or 6–8 as a snack

 

I was delighted to find this recipe for Gizzards; they may not be to everyone’s taste. They are inexpensive and delicious and a much loved snack or pre-dinner bite in Nepal. Gizzards can be found in most craft butchers and in almost all Asian stores.

 

 

1kg chicken gizzards

2 tsp salt

2 tsp turmeric powder (half for boiling, half for frying)

3–4 tbsp mustard oil (or vegetable oil)

1 tsp ajwain seeds

¼ tsp asafoetida powder

6 garlic cloves crushed

1 tbsp ginger peeled and crushed

½ tsp plain masala

½ tsp chilli powder

½ tsp garam masala

handful fresh coriander

 

 

Bring a pot of water to the boil, season with one teaspoon each of salt and turmeric, add approximately half a teaspoon of mashed garlic, and simmer the giblets for 15 minutes.  Adding garlic to the cooking water significantly reduces the rather strong smell produced by the gizzards.  Drain and cool before cutting the gizzards into bite-size pieces, trimming and discarding any hard parts as you go.

 

Heat the oil in a wok or pan until it starts to smoke, then add the ajwain seeds and fry for five seconds.  Add the giblets, turmeric, asafoetida powder and a teaspoon of salt.  Fry over a high heat for a minute or two, then cover, reduce the heat and continue cooking for five to ten minutes.

 

Meanwhile, mash the garlic and ginger together to form a rough paste. When the giblets have browned nicely, add the garlic-ginger paste together with plain masala and chilli powder and cook for another few minutes until the spices have lost their raw aromas.

 

Stir in the garam masala and check seasoning, adding extra salt as needed to bring out the various flavours. Garnish with coriander leaves, and serve warm or cold with a cool beer or warming whiskey.

 

Lina Gautam’s Nanglo Chicken Chili

 

Lina says that Chicken Chili is a hugely popular dish in Nepal and at Montys of Kathmandu. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, it is not difficult to prepare. This dish demonstrates the Tibetan influence and can be found on the menu of virtually every Chinese restaurant in Nepal.

 

Serves 4

 

For the batter

 

½ tsp of turmeric powder

1 tsp  of chilli powder

1 tsp  of  salt or to your taste

1 egg beaten

2 tbsp of cornflour

vegetable oil for deep-frying

 

 

4 large chicken fillets cut into small finger-long strips

2 tbsp of vegetable oil

1 medium red onion peeled and quartered

2 ripe tomatoes quartered

2 fresh chillies snapped in half

3-4 cloves of garlic peeled and thinly sliced

1 tbsp of peeled and grated ginger

½ green pepper cut into chunks

½ red pepper cut into big chunks

½  tsp of salt or to your taste

½ tsp of plain masala

pinch of asafoetida powder

¼ tsp Szechuan pepper

3 tbsp of tomato ketchup

2 tbsp of light soy sauce (or 1 tbs if dark)

2-3 stems of spring onion chopped into long strips

handful of chopped coriander

 

Prepare all the vegetables for the sauce and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fat fryer or non-stick saucepan.  While the oil is heating, mix chicken strips with batter mixture.  Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken strips in 3-4 batches for 3-4 minutes until cooked but not browned.  Remove and set aside.

Next, heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan. Cook the onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, green chilies and green and red peppers for 4-5 minutes, until the onion softens slightly.  Add salt and stir in plain masala, asafoetida and Szechuan pepper.  Add the fried chicken and cook for a minute followed by the ketchup and soy sauce, and stir and cook for a further minute or so.

To serve, stir in spring onion and fresh chopped coriander.  Serve this with rice or a green salad..

 

Lina Gautam’s Lamb and Radish Curry (Masu Ra Mula Ko Raas)

 

Serves 4

 

The most popular meat dish in Nepal, traditionally this would be made with goat meat but lamb makes a good substitute.

 

You can make this into a one-pot dish by adding peeled, halved potatoes at the same time as the meat.

 

 

4 tbsp mustard or vegetable oil

1 tsp turmeric powder

¼ tsp of asafoetida powder (optional) available from Asian shops

750g lamb  (gigot chops or shoulder/leg on the bone cut into golf-ball-sized  pieces)

1 tsp salt or to taste

1 red onion chopped into small pieces

1 green or red chilli

3 fresh tomatoes chopped into small pieces

1 medium mooli radish cut into longer pieces like thick chips

4 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

1 tbs ginger, peeled and grated

1 tbsp plain masala

½ tsp  garam masala

handful of fresh chopped coriander

 

Heat the oil in heavy-based pot, add the lamb, turmeric powder, salt, asafoetida (if using), chilli, onion, tomatoes and plain masala.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.  Add the radish and garlic, and stir until fully coated with the sauce.  Next, add 250ml of boiling water, replace the lid and cook on a medium to low heat for approximately 40-50 min or until the meat is cooked and loose around the bone.

 

Once the lamb is cooked, add more hot water to make a thin sauce, then add ginger and garam masala.  Stew the lamb and radish in this lovely rich sauce for a further ten minutes so that all the flavours mix together.  Add coriander and serve hot with basmati rice.

 

Nepalese Rice Pudding (Khir)

 

Rice is, of course, the staple food of Nepal and is present at every festival and family event. Rice pudding is also an important part of religious ceremonies.   Sweet rice pudding is sometimes eaten with the main meal and is particularly good with puffed poori bread and cauliflower and potato dishes on the side.

 

 

Serves 4

 

 

½ cup, 60g of Basmati rice (washed 2-3 times)

1ltr full-fat milk

3-4 strands of saffron (optional)

10 cardamom pods crushed in a pestle and mortar (skins removed)

3 tbsp of brown sugar (or to your taste)

3-4 tbs of cream

dry-roasted cashew nuts and/or almonds

 

Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (avoid non-stick pans to prevent brown specks).  Once the milk begins to boil, add saffron, cardamom, sugar and the washed and drained rice.  Cook for about 10 minutes on a low heat until the rice is soft, stirring continuously to prevent the grains from sticking to each other.  While stirring continuously may sound tedious, you should find it a calming, Zen-like experience!

 

Add the cream and cook for a further 5 minutes until the rice has a creamy soup-like consistency.  Be careful not to make the rice pudding too thick.  Remove from the heat and transfer to individual serving bowls, sprinkle with some chopped dry-roasted cashew nuts and almonds, and serve warm or cold.

 

Nepalese Home-Made Lemonade (Sarbat)

 

Serve 4

 

4 glasses chilled water

4 tbsp sugar

½ tsp freshly crushed black pepper

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice with its bits

 

Add all the ingredients to a jug and mix well until all the sugar is dissolved. Serve chilled.

 

Wild and Free Food

Hairy Bittercress –  Cardamine Hirsuta

a member of the mustard family it’s one of the very first edible plants of the year, it grows in little clumps on recently disturbed bare ground, and even on gravel paths and stonewalls. There’s lots around at present and it will continue until Autumn. It will have tiny white flowers later in the year. We love it’s peppery taste in salads, sandwiches and as a garnish. Apparently Queen Elizabeth also loves it and requested Bitter Cress as part of 90th birthday menu, so there you are now! As well as being delicious to eat it also has medicinal properties that stimulate the release of digestive juices to aid in liver detoxification, and help regulate blood sugars.

 

 

Hot Tips

 

FOOD WRITING at UCC – Announcing a new UCC flexi-option graduate course in Food Writing. This innovative food writing course is the first of its kind in Ireland and is taught in collaboration with Ballymaloe Cookery School and Café Paradiso Vegetarian Restaurant. Lecturers include Darina Allen, Denis Cotter, John McKenna, John & Sally McKennas’ Guides and Regina Sexton, Food Writer/Food Historian.  Course lectures take place in UCC and at the Ballymaloe Cookery School from 6th – 8th March Cost: €500. Closing date for applications: January 31st Email Gretta.McCarthy@ucc.ie for an application form.

For further details please contact Regina Sexton – r.sexton@ucc.ie  or visit the website http://creativewritingucc.com/www/about-the-ma-in-creative-writing/content/food-writing/

 

Date for the Diary – Organic Centre Course

Starting a Garden from scratch with Ingrid Foley on Sat 22nd Feb

The ultimate start-up course to your first gardening year. You will learn how to select and assess your site, test your soil and build fertility. Day includes a garden plan, rotation plan, making lazy beds and selecting tools. The Organic Centre Rossinver, Co. Leitrim (071) 985 4338.

Fäviken Restaurant – Sweden

There is a restaurant way up in the tip of Sweden, 600 miles north of Stockholm that I have been longing to go to for quite some time – it’s called Fäviken, I managed to get a booking a couple of weeks before Christmas. It’s quite a mission to get there, you have to fly from Trondheim via Oslo, hire a car and drive two and half hours north through the snow and then Alleluia, there it is, a sign for Fäviken like a mirage in the dark.

We drove along a windy snow covered avenue, lots of fir trees and a collection of traditional Swedish timber houses painted in brick red. We’re greeted by Robert a friendly young man who sounds as though he is from New York, turns out he’s now from a local town who watches a lot of American TV! The rooms are cosy and chic, beautiful linen, lots of timber, spruce I think and Swedish grey paint. The sauna and shower is just across from our bedroom. They’ve laid out a timber ice bucket with champagne, a Petit Chablis and several bottles of their home made beer, and then a little snack of wafer thin house-cured ham and pickled vegetables. After a delicious sauna and lots of cold beer, we go down to the comfy drawing room at 6.30, we’re determined to enjoy every second. There are several clusters of seats and a big log fire, Magnus greets us warmly like long lost friends, I’d forgotten that I’d sent him a copy of Forgotten Skills last year and apparently he loved it, he’s planning to come to the LitFest in 2015. It would be brilliant to have him speak about opening a restaurant 600kms north of Stockholm out in the back of beyond; Ballymaloe is positively urban by comparison…

We had a couple of homemade Negroni, A couple from Sweden joined us and then delicious little bites started to come, the first was paper thin linseed crackers to dip in mussel sauce.  Then a little crackly tartlet made from blood with trout eggs to be eaten all in one bite, next lingonberries and crow berries in a tiny bowl with a hot dashi like broth on top, all these bites came with instructions on how best to enjoy them. Next, on a flat stone a beautifully arranged pickled herring that had been buried underground for two years. A heavily disguised piece of pigs head inside a crispy croquette on a little birch twig, delicious and we still hadn’t got upstairs to the dining room – this is another timber lined room which doubles as a curing room for occasional hams and other cured meats. Fäviken serves only 14 people each night, it’s always full and guests fly in from all over the world.

The meal itself started at quite a lively pace, one delicious morsel after another, there were 27 ‘courses’ in all and exquisite handmade butter and sourdough bread.

Altogether it was a memorable experience; the staff are all local and so sweet and knowledge and delighted to be part of Fäviken.

After dinner, a selection of little sweet treats, homemade liqueurs and fresh herb infusions and Swedish snus for those who felt inclined.

Magnus came out of the kitchen and gave us a tour of the butchery and curing room and the underground Root Shed where they store all their root vegetables and pickles during the long cold Swedish winter.

Magnus only uses local ingredients with a couple of rare exceptions , they don’t even use citrus or spices but use lots of preserved, pickled and fermented foods in the Winter. Magnus has tremendous respect for inherited wisdom and tradition and an insatiable appetite to learn time honoured ways of doing things. He and his small team of chefs, five in total, kill their own deer, moose, elk and wild fowl and catch fat brown trout in the Summer. They butcher them and use every scrap including the delicious nutritious blood.

Early this morning we had a superb breakfast, one of the rare breakfasts that lived up to the dinner the night before. There were several unusual things, a smooth reindeer pâté, potted trout, a kind of special Swedish yoghurt and a Nordic porridge, also cloudberry jam and sour cream, homemade caviar and more of that wonderful butter. Sadly we had to rush it because our flight left Trondheim at noon.

As we drove back to the airport we fantasised about, how Ireland could be the new centre of the gastronomic world, we certainly have the produce and without question, many of our young cooks and chefs have the skills, but do we have the combination of curiosity and respect for our traditional food culture and appreciation of what’s unique in our landscape ? This is the special experience that brings people from all four corners of the globe on a daily basis to places like Noma in Copenhagen and Fäviken in Northern Sweden. Just shows, as the old saying goes you “If you make the best mousetrap, people will go out of their way to find it…” A lesson to us all…

Magnus Nilsson’s book Fäviken is extraordinary, published by Phaidon Press, it costs €45.00 and is worth every penny.

 

Fäviken’s Scallop I skalet ur elden Cooked over Burning Juniper Branches

Taken from Faviken Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

 

This is a dish I am very proud of. In my opinion, not only is it very close to perfection at every stage, from the raw product to the technique used to cook it to the presentation, but it is also our only truly iconic dish. The recipe has been printed countless times, and even if people know in advance that they are going to eat it when they visit us, it never seems to stop surprising diners with its simplified complexity and deliciousness.

The reason I love this particular recipe is that it exemplifies everything that I think is desirable in a dish. It is a perfect product cooked very simply and presented with an even greater simplicity, which tells the diner a story of passion, and in which you can sense the skill of the chef’s cooking in every bite and sip.

The origins of this dish go back to when I was around 20 years old, at a Biarritz beach barbecue. When I lived in Paris I quite often went to the Basque town of San Sebastián in Spain to eat at one or another of its great restaurants. I usually stayed in a little bed and breakfast run by an old French lady in Biarritz. It was actually a bit impractical, since San Sebastian is quite a distance away. The first time I went I didn’t realize this, but afterwards I just kept going back because I liked the lady and the place, with its beautiful setting high up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, impractical or not.

One night when I had just arrived, I went for a walk on the beach and soon met some surfers, who invited me to a barbecue with them and to have some drinks on the still sun-warmed sand. As I was sitting there, talking and enjoying myself, I remembered a Swedish friend telling me some time before about placing some oysters, whole in their shells, on a grill, cooking them until just barely warm and then enjoying them straight from the shell. He claimed it was delicious and I had no reason to disbelieve him.

A couple of hours earlier I had met a girl who turned out to work in a local restaurant. I later befriended her and grew very fond of her, meeting up with her every time I went to Biarritz for years afterwards. I like to believe we had a bond because of what I served her later that night. I asked her if she thought we could find some oysters somewhere at this hour (it must have been three o’clock in the morning). I was thinking that she might have a key to the restaurant where she worked and that we would go there and raid the fridge, but instead she just pointed towards one of the cliffs a bit farther down the beach. It was one of those beaches that will be familiar to anyone who has been to Biarritz, that looks as though large pieces of rock have just been thrown out on the beach, some with their bases standing in the water. I must have looked a bit perplexed because she stared at me as if I was foolish and asked if I did not know that oysters live attached to cliffs. She said that she had seen them there, and that when it was low tide you should be able to walk there and pick them. She took me by the hand and we walked away from the bonfire and away from the other people, towards the looming shapes ahead.

We didn’t realize beforehand how firmly the oysters were attached to the cliff, and, lacking other tools to break them loose I used the key to my rental car (making them the most expensive oysters ever) and she used a bottle opener, but we managed to harvest about ten small oysters after quite a lot of hassle, some badly bruised knuckles

and a lot of laughter. When we finally got back to the party, it was more or less dying out and so was the fire, which had been fuelled by driftwood and a piece of old telegraph pole.

A few people were dozing on the sand, but when I walked past them they hardly noticed my footsteps as I dragged with me some branches broken from a big bush that was growing a bit farther up towards the back of the beach. When I placed the branches on the hot coals it began to smoke a little and we set the oysters out, straight onto the embers; after a minute or so they slowly opened and we picked them off the heat and ate them as we watched the sun come up over the Bay of Biscay. They were briny and creamy, utterly fresh and had a faint aroma of sweet smoke. It was a magical moment.

I don’t know if it was because of the girl, the place or the utter deliciousness of the oysters, but this meal has always stayed with me as a very strong and important memory. It was the basis of what I started developing some years later at Fäviken, ending up with what it is today. We don’t use oysters at Fäviken because there aren’t any this far to the north; we use scallops instead. We don’t use beach bushes, but juniper. And we don’t use telegraph poles as firewood because creosote is neither delicious nor very good for your health, so we use birch charcoal instead.

Even though it is a very simple dish, it is extremely demanding to produce. The scallops must be nothing less than perfect, the timing of the cooking has to be very precise and the process needs to be perfectly rehearsed to be executed quickly enough. To be able to reproduce this recipe with good results you need to have at least two people working on it, otherwise the critical moments will take too long and the precision, which makes for perfection, will be lost.

The iodine saltiness of the almost-raw broth, together with the perfect scallop eaten and drunk directly from the half-shell covered in fresh smoky soot, is excellent with some good bread and mature butter.

 

Serves 6

−−fresh juniper branches, for the fire

−−some dry hay with a high herb content, or a piece of moss that covers the plate, to serve

−−6 perfectly fresh, very large and absolutely sand-free live scallops in their shells

−−good bread and butter, to serve

 

Light your birch charcoal with a hot-air blower or an electric coil – never use lamp oil or any other chemical. Spray the hay or moss lightly with water.

Put the juniper branches on top of the charcoal and when they start burning, cook the scallops directly over the fire. They are finished when you hear them making a crackling noise around the edges.

Open each scallop up and pour all the contents into a preheated ceramic bowl. Separate out the scallop meat and put it back in the bottom shell. Strain off the beards and intestines quickly and pour the cloudy broth back into the shell with the scallop in it. Put the top half shell back on, place the whole scallop on the dampened hay or moss with some fresh juniper and hot coal for

a few moments, then serve right away with good bread and mature butter. No more than 90 seconds must pass between taking the scallop off the fire and serving it.

 

Linseed Crisps

 

Taken from Faviken Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

 

I devised this technique after watching Tove, my wife, making crisp flatbread at home from a mixture of many grains that seemed to be suspended in what can best be described as a solidified nothingness. The texture and purity of flavour were so remarkable that I soon started experimenting with the recipe to work out how to reproduce this extraordinary effect.

The reason I took such an interest in this in the first place was because I felt so bad every time we had someone in the restaurant who could not eat gluten, someone who never got to enjoy the delicious bread we bake. Tove’s recipe contained no gluten and was by far the most delicious gluten-free bread I had ever tried.

After working a while with it I understood that what makes it work is the high proportion of linseed (flax seeds). When steeped in water, these tiny, shiny, almost beetle-like seeds exude a gelatinous substance, which when cooked becomes virtually crystal clear and very, very crispy.

After a while the only grain I was still using in the mixture was linseed – the other seeds were eliminated for not adding enough to the end result. The linseeds were mixed with a little potato starch and some salt, then infused in hot water before being spread on baking trays and cooked in the oven.

After making and serving this a couple of times, I started to notice that at the edge, where there were always a few escaped seeds lying a little distance from the bread, a very thin film formed, giving the impression that the seeds were suspended in the air with several millimetres between them. So I tried rolling the mixture out even thinner, between two sheets of baking paper, to the thickness of one linseed. When this was cooked it looked like a piece of distorted glass in an old-fashioned window with seeds in it, and it was extraordinarily crisp. We soon started serving it not as a substitute for bread but as an appetizer, the crisps (chips) sprayed with a little vinegar and then left to dry before being served with a cup of sea-urchin or raw blue-shell-mussel dip on the side.

All along I had the idea that this could be very interesting in a dessert, especially because nutty flavours are very scarce in our climate, and in the end it became an accompaniment for a sweet dish made from birch-sap syrup (page 175). A dollop of delicious ice cream in a deep bowl is dressed with syrup and then covered in a layer of flakes of linseed crisp so thick you can’t see the ice cream, and eaten with a spoon pushed straight through the crackling layers to the bottom of the bowl.

 

Makes 5 53 x 32.5 cm trays of crisps

 

−−200g linseeds (flax seeds)

−−40g potato starch

−−5g salt

 

Mix the dry ingredients. Pour 700g boiling water over the seeds, whisking thoroughly. Leave to soak for 20 minutes, or until thickened.

Spread out onto a sheet of baking paper, cover with another sheet of paper and roll out to the desired thickness. Remove the top sheet, transfer the dough on the bottom layer of paper onto a baking tray and bake at 150°C (300°F) for about 10 minutes, or until perfectly dried. Leave to cool on paper – as the temperature falls the crisp will shrink a little and release from the paper. Serve within an hour or two; it does not get any better with keeping.

 

Wild Trout Roe in a Warm Crust of Dried Pigs’ Blood

Taken from Faviken Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson

 

This recipe, together with the scallop over burning juniper, is the most iconic that this young restaurant has come up with. Served as an appetizer before the main meal, I love it for its deliciousness, and for the egg-yolk flavour of the trout roe and its popping texture. It started when I was searching for a good vehicle for the different types of roe that are available from the clean, crisp mountain waters around Fäviken. At first it was a little potato pancake, which turned into a blood pancake, which later turned into a crispy disc of fried Swedish black pudding (blood sausage). This process took about two years and the change to something closer to perfection occurred when I found an old croustade iron in a flea market. I bought it and started experimenting with the batter – a hellish task, as it turned out. The idea is that you heat the whole iron in hot fat, then dip it into a very runny batter just long enough for some of it to cook and stick to the surface. When the iron is lifted out, the excess batter drips off the iron, which is once more dipped into hot fat to cook the thin crust formed on it.

 

You can probably imagine how difficult it was to find a recipe that didn’t stick too much to the iron, especially when I started to substitute some of the egg for pigs’ blood. At first it was just that, a thin crust of pastry containing blood, which we filled with trout
roe and a little salt on top. After a while we added a kind of custard containing blood, which was piped
into the crusts to fill them halfway and then baked
at the last minute, topping the now custard-filled
pastry with trout roe. The dish took on its final appearance when I saw some dried blood on a plate in the kitchen; shiny and almost black, it had an extremely fragile texture when you touched it, and running a fingernail through it shattered it into tiny, almost glass-like fragments, which were delicious.
From then on we dipped the crusts in raw blood and baked them before piping the custard into them. This process is what gives the crust its very particular texture and appearance.

 

Serves 6

 

For the croustades

100g unbleached, wholemeal (whole wheat) flour

1 pinch salt

100g double (heavy) cream

50g pig’s blood, plus 100g for dipping

1 egg yolk

10g melted butter

fresh, unsalted trout roe, taken out of the fridge about 2 hours before serving

neutral oil, for deep-frying

salt

 

For the custard

100g pigs’ blood

100g whole eggs

25g butter

 

Mix together the flour, salt, double cream, 50g pigs’ blood, egg yolk and melted butter to make a batter and leave it to rest in the fridge overnight. If you rush this you will get bubbles in your croustades.

Heat the oil with the croustade iron in the casserole. When it is nice and hot, take the iron out and dip it quickly into the batter, then put the whole thing quickly but carefully back into the oil and cook until crisp.

Loosen the little croustades from the iron and place on a paper towel.

When all the croustades are cooked, dip them one by one into the blood and place them upside down on a rack so the excess blood runs off. Turn them right way up again and place on a baking tray. Cook at 150°C (300°F) until the blood is dry and completely coagulated. Repeat until the desired thickness is achieved – it depends on the thickness of the blood, but 3 times is usually enough.

To make the custard, place all the ingredients in a Thermomix and process at 80°C (175°F) until thick and silky smooth. Place in a piping (pastry) bag and keep it at room temperature until later.

When the croustades are ready, halfway-fill them with custard and warm them through in the oven at 150°C (300°F). When warm, spoon a nice mound of
roe into each croustade and place them on preheated stones or plates. Finish with a tiny pinch of salt on top
of each one.

 

Wild and Free Food

 

Wall Pennywort or Navelwort, Umbilicus Rupestris grows in mossy stone walls and is abundant at present. The slightly crimped thick roundish leaves are juicy and succulent and delicious in salads and make an intriguing garnish for starter plates. Presumably named navel worth because of the indentation in the centre of the leaf but they also have several local names like ‘Bread and Butter’ or ‘Walkers Friend’ because the leaves hold moisture in Summer and are known to be thirst quenching.  Just pick them, rinse and add to your green salad.

 

Some of Darina’s top food books of 2013

Now that Christmas is over and New Year’s resolutions are still fresh in our minds why don’t we all decide to spend even a couple of extra hours a week having fun in the kitchen with all the family, cooking from scratch and saving money to boot.

If you are short of inspiration there are a ton of cookbooks out there bursting with new and edgy ideas, comforting food and advice on how to use some of the newer ingredients coming our way.

Here is my list of the some of the top food books of 2013, I’ve already mentioned Master It – How to Cook Today by Rory O’Connell.

 

The Modern Peasant – Jojo Tulloh published by Chatto and Windus Jojo writes for The Week and lives in inner city London, yearning for a peasant like self-sufficiency. She is not alone. Beneath railway arches, on inner city rooftops, and on borrowed land, a new breed of food producers are baking bread, making cheese, keeping bees and growing vegetables. Inspired by their success, Jojo watched and learned.

Ethicurean Cookbook published by Ebury Press– An inspirational cookbook from the brilliant young team behind the Ethicurian Restaurant and walled garden in Bristol. Fresh, seasonal ethical food – delicious unexpected cameos.

From Lynda’s Table – Lynda Booth. A beautifully produced self-published book from a past student of Ballymaloe Cookery School, Lynda Booth, now owner of the prestigious Dublin Cookery School.

Snackistan – Street Food, Comfort Food, Meze, published by Anova Books Group – Sally Butcher – another gem.

The Paris Gourmet by Trish Deseine, published by Flammarion. This is the dream book for those who would love a couple of days in Paris but don’t have time to do the research.

No Time to Cook – Donna Hay, published by Harper Collins. The perfect book for the working mum, trying as Donna is, to keep all the balls in the air – cheat’s notes, short cuts and hints on food styling, from one of the world’s chicest cookbook writers.

Cooked – Michael Pollan, published by Penguin UK. Comes as a surprise to learn that America’s most influential didn’t really cook at all. In his inimitable way, he apprenticed himself to a succession of culinary masters to learn how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. A fascinating insight into a culinary journey that led him to believe that many of life’s ills could be solved if we just started to cook again.

The Pitt Cue Co. Cookbook, published by Mitchel Beasley is your guide to enjoying the best hot, smoky, sticky, spicy grub all year round. Tom Adams , Jamie BergerSimon AndersonRichard H. Turner.

Simon Hopkinson Cooks, published by Ebury Press is a much anticipated new cookbook from many peoples favourite and most trusted cookbook author.

A Platter of Figs by David Tanis, published by Clarkson Potter – definitely one of my personal favourites of the year. David was head chef at Chez Panisse for many years and now divides his time between New York and Paris. This book is based on the menus he cooks for small groups of friends of which I am fortunate to be one and I remember every delicious morsel. This book is full of recipes for simple, delicious food that you’ll love to cook.

Food DIY Tim Hayward published by Penguin Fig Tree – How to make your own everything, sausages to smoked salmon, sourdough to sloe gin.

 

Cheffy Cookbooks

 

You may not have a brigade of chefs to help with your mis-en-place, but these books give a glimpse of beautiful contemporary food and current trends.

 

Chapter One – An Irish Food Story – Ross Lewis published by Gill and Macmillan. Another long overdue book, a beautiful production from one of Ireland’s most highly respected and best loved chefs. Shortlisted for the Avonmore Cookbook of the Year Award 2013.

Rediscover Brazilian Ingredients – Alex Atala published by Phaidon This chef is definitely one to watch, I first saw him at the MAD Food Symposium in Copenhagen. A former punk DJ who was classically trained as a chef in Europe, Atala refuses to import ingredients such as caviar, truffles and fois gras, staples in many high-end restaurant kitchens, into Brazil and instead scours the Amazon for indigenous produce to fuse with classical techniques in his cooking. He then works with the Amazon’s native communities and small-scale producers to extend the availability of these native products around Brazil.

A Work in Progress: Journal, Recipes and Snapshots, by Rene Redzepi published by Phaidon. René Redzepi of NOMA in Copenhagen committed to writing a journal for an entire year to reflect on this question and the result is reflective, insightful and compelling. Rene will be one of the guest chefs at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 16th – 18th May 2014 (book early)

Proper Pub Food – Tom Kerridge, published by Absolute Press is a no nonsense collection of comforting old fashioned favourites from the down-to-earth new super chef on the block. Put his restaurant The Hand and Flowers on your London list.

If several of these appeal to you, rummage around in your dresser and gather up those gift tokens and head for the local book shops – some may have to be ordered…

 

Lynda Booth’s Butternut Squash Risotto 

Taken from Lynda Cook’s Cookery Book

 

Serves 6 as a starter

 

1 butternut squash olive oil, for drizzling

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

30g butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 leek, white part only plus 2.5cm of the green, finely chopped

1.3 litres chicken stock or vegetable stock

400g risotto rice (Carnaroli or Arborio)

120ml dry white wine pinch of saffron threads

 

50–60g Parmesan cheese, grated, or to taste

30g butter

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan, 400°F, Gas 6. Remove the skin from the butternut squash. Slice in half and scoop out the seeds and fibres with a teaspoon. Cut the flesh into large cubes and place in   an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and season with sea salt and black pepper. Roast in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes, turning over once or twice during the cooking. Purée in a food processor until smooth, adding a little stock or water if required.

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion, season with salt and cook with a lid on over a low heat until completely softened. Add the chopped leek to the pot and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a separate saucepan and keep this just below simmering point on the cooker.

Add the rice to the onion and leek and stir for a couple of minutes so that the grains of rice become coated with the butter. The risotto will take about 20 minutes to cook from this point onwards. Add the white wine and simmer, stirring, until the wine has evaporated. Add a ladleful of broth and simmer again until the stock has been absorbed, stirring regularly. Add in the saffron threads. Continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, for the duration of the cooking, allowing each batch of stock to be absorbed by the rice before adding another. Stir regularly. Taste the rice towards the end of the cooking. At the end, the rice should be tender but still retain a slight bite.

Stir in the puréed butternut squash. Mix well and add more stock if the risotto isn’t loose enough. Finally, add the Parmesan and butter. Mix well and season to taste. If the risotto needs more flavour, add extra Parmesan. The final flavouring of the risotto can only be done to taste. Add a little more stock or boiling water,   if necessary, to achieve a soft and slightly runny consistency. Serve immediately.

 

Jojo Tulloh’s Roast Chicken with Chorizo

Taken from the Modern Peasant – Adventures in City Food Cookbook

 

The chicken in this recipe is stuffed with chorizo and as the chicken roasts the meaty orange drips form the perfect basting liquid.

 

Serves 4

 

1 free-range chicken (approx.. 2 – 2.5kg)

2 tablespoons dry sherry

Sea salt and black pepper

Small bunch of herbs (rosemary, thyme, bay and parsley)

1 cooking chorizo (75g – 100g) sliced

500g waxy potatoes cut into chunks

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4. Rub the chicken with the sherry inside and out and season with salt and pepper. Place the bundle of herbs inside the chicken along with the chorizo.

Place the chicken on a roasting tray surrounded by the diced potatoes. Roast for 2 hours, basting frequently with the red juices from the chorizo. When you remove the chicken to baste it, turn the potatoes so that they crisp up well. Serve with wilted greens.

 

Tim Hayward’s Coffee Ice Cream

Taken from the Food DIY Cookbook

 

75g roasted coffee beans

500g whole milk

6 egg yolks

75g caster sugar

300g double cream

 

Crush up some of your coffee beans in a pestle and mortar or with the end of a rolling pin. Put them in a pan with the milk, raise the temperature to just short of boiling, then cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. This will extract all the smooth, aromatic elements of the coffee without any of the bitterness.

Strain the milk through a sieve lined with a clean piece of J-cloth or muslin. Make a double boiler with a mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water and in it, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thickened. Now pout in the infused milk and keep whisking until you have a custard thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pass the custard through a sieve, mix well with the cream, then chill well. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until set.

This a quite a grown-up ice cream, low on sugar and high in coffee flavours. It works well in small servings.

 

Fennel Seed and Ginger Hot Chocolate

Taken from the Ethicurian Cookbook

 

 

Serves 2 comfortably

 

400ml milk

100g dark chocolate with 70 – 73 per cent cocoa solids, grated, plus a little extra

1 teaspoon ground ginger

20g dark muscavado sugar

a pinch of salt

2 teaspoons fennel

100ml double cream

 

Gently heat half the milk in a pan and add the grated chocolate, ginger muscavado sugar, salt and most of the fennel sugar (save a pinch for sprinkling). Stir until the chocolate has melted into the milk, then whisk in the remaining milk and cream. Do not allow the mixture to boil but bring it to a comfortable drinking temperature. If you have a hand blender, substitute this for a whisk; either way, for a frothy head a good amount of whisking is needed. Serve sprinkled with the remaining fennel sugar and a few shards of chocolate.

Hot Tips

Slow Food East Cork Event – Dr Margaret Linehan will give a talk on her study ‘A Study of Irish Food Culture before the Arrival of the Potato.’  Tuesday  14th January at 7pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Slow Food Members €6.00/€8.00. Proceeds raised to support fundraising for the East Cork Education Project. www.slowfoodireland.ie

Gift Vouchers are available now for the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 16th – 18th May 2014 at Ballymaloe House  www.ballymaloe.ie or call 021 4652531.

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