Post-Litfest

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We’re all still on a high from the Litfest. Apart from all the antics and stimulating talks, forums and panel discussions in the Grain Store and Big Shed, there was also a packed schedule at the Ballymaloe Cookery School with three and sometimes four events running simultaneously. This week I want to share some of my personal highlights.

However, I had exactly had the same frustrations this year as before, having invited many more of my food heroes to Ballymaloe. I simply couldn’t get to many of the concurrent events but did get fantastic feedback. Allegra McEvedy has a cult following for her wholesome and gutsy food and her irreverent style further endears her to her fans. She gave a cookery demonstration of some of her best loved dishes.  The response to her delicious food was overwhelmingly delightful.

Arun Kapil told the fascinating story of Green Saffron and his book Fresh Spice in a packed Blue Dining room. A little while later multi award winning, Kevin Thornton spoke to a rapt audience about his travels in Ethiopia – the photographs in his book all styled and taken by Kevin himself showed another hugely creative side of this enormously talented chef.

Still staying with our Irish stars, Hugo Arnold and Leylie Hayes of Avoca gave a riveting three hour cookery demonstration of some of the iconic dishes that has made Avoca such a huge success. Later Jack Monroe, who shot to fame a number of years ago when she started a blog ‘A Girl called Jack’ on feeding herself and her son on £10 sterling a week. This was an interactive cookery demonstration where people could bring a child along free of charge.  Jack’s writing style is chatty and entertaining. Her food brilliantly creative and delicious, illustrates how well you can eat on a miniscule budget when one have the cooking skills to transform a few inexpensive ingredients into a yummy meal.

Charlotte Pike, one of our past 12 Week Certificate students taught a Fermentation workshop and packed a ton of information into a short time. Her fourth book FERMENTED will be published by Kyle Books on August 27th 2015.

Here’s some of the delicious new recipes from the chefs…

 

Hot Tips

Find of the Week

A new artisan bacon from the Baltimore Pig Company in West Cork. I picked up a packet of dry cured rashers at Glebe Garden Shop in Baltimore. They had been cured in molasses and black pepper and smoked over hardwood. No nitrates, no preservatives so the bacon was the natural colour rather than a bright nitrate induced pink. Looking forward to visiting the farm on Rath Hill near Baltimore. www.thebaltimorepig.ie

 

Organic Chicken:- It becomes increasingly difficult to find an Irish organic chicken. We now bring our organic chicken from Wexford where Mary Regan and her family rear chickens and a few Aylesbury ducks on their 17 hectare organic farm near Enniscorthy.

They have an on-farm abattoir so they can look after the birds from chicks to the table. The birds are ready for the table at around 12½ weeks as opposed to 28-32 days in intensive production systems. Needless to say the cost of caring and feeding the free range birds with non GM organic feed over that extended period is reflected in the price, but in organic chicken you are also paying for what’s not in it!

Mary Regan Organic Produce 087 668 2461

 

Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich from Honey & Co in London cooked a lunch at Ballymaloe House during the Litfest. The flavours thrilled the guests and frustrated those who couldn’t get tickets. But the good news is Sarit and Itamar are returning to the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday June 6th to give a one day course. Their restaurant Honey & Co is one of London’s most talked about, we love their fragrant Middle Eastern food packed with vibrant flavours.

Booking essential 021 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie

 

 

Avoca Multi-Seed Bread

 

180g (6 1/4oz) plain flour

310g (11oz) coarse brown flour

50g (2oz) bran

25g (1oz) wheat germ

2 1/2 heaped teaspoons baking powder

1 level teaspoon salt

100g (3 1/2oz) mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, linseed, pumpkin), keep back 10g (1/2oz) to sprinkle on top of bread

50g (2oz) sultanas

50g (2oz) semi-dried apricots, chopped

1 generous tablespoon treacle

600-700ml (1 – 1 1/4 pints / 2 1/2 -3 cups) of milk

 

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

 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the treacle and enough milk to make a moist dough, like stiff porridge.  Place the bread dough in a greased 900g (2lb) baking tin, sprinkle with the 10g (1/2oz) of mixed seeds you kept back and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until bread has risen, then reduce temperature by 10 degrees and continue cooking for a further hour. The bread should be well browned and sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped underneath.  Leave on a wire rack to cool.

 

This bread is delicious served with either sweet preserves or equally nice with good cheese, smoked fish or charcuterie. Best eaten on the day it is made but delicious toasted on day 2 or 3.

 

Copyright Leylie Hayes & Hugo Arnold

 

Avoca Beetroot Falafel

250g (9oz) freshly grated raw beetroot

200g (7oz) cooked chick peas, coarsely blitzed

75g (3oz) minced mild white onion

40g (1 1/2oz) light Tahini

2 large cloves of garlic crushed

50g (2oz) gram flour approximately

20ml (3/4fl oz/scant 1/8 cup) sunflower oil

generous teaspoon of cumin seeds

generous teaspoon of coriander seeds

freshly chopped coriander leaves to taste

 

Warm the cumin and coriander seeds on a dry pan for a few minutes until they release their natural fragrance. Grind them in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

 

Place the beetroot, chick peas, onion, Tahini, garlic, oil, coriander and spices in a large bowl and mix well. Season the mixture generously with salt and freshly milled pepper.  Add just enough gram flour to bring the mixture together to a consistency that will hold its shapes when rolled into little balls.

 

To cook the falafel, either deep fry in a deep fat fryer or alternatively shallow fry in a little sunflower oil until lightly browned and then transfer to a moderate preheated oven for 10 minutes.

 

A simple Tzatziki to serve with Falafel

Grate a whole cucumber, and place in a colander or sieve, sprinkle with a little sea salt and allow drain for around 20 minutes. Press the cucumber against the side of the sieve to extract as much excess moisture from it as you can. Then place in a large bowl mix with 125g (4 1/2oz) thick Greek style yoghurt, 1 clove of crushed garlic, some freshly chopped mint and a little freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.

 

Copyright Leylie Hayes & Hugo Arnold

 

Jack Monroe’s Garlic Jam

This started out as a curious thought in the back of my head – I know garlic softens and sweetens the longer you cook it, so could I make garlic jam? I scribbled some notes based on what little I know about jam making, dug out an old onion marmalade recipe to use as a rough guide, and promptly forgot all about it.

Then last weekend, I acquired some beautiful purple garlic bulbs, and the garlic jam pondering resurfaced… I spent a pleasant Sunday evening peeling and slicing 40 cloves of garlic, and ended up with 2 jars of this sweet, punchy, unapologetic condiment – I’ll be serving mine on toast with freshly sliced ripe tomatoes, or with buttery sautéed mushrooms, or dolloped on the side of some roast chicken…

Makes 2 small jars

350g (12oz) garlic cloves
a little oil
300g (10oz/1 1/4 cups) sugar (I use caster)
70ml (2 3/4fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
70ml (2 3/4fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) white wine
6 thyme stalks, picked

Wash and rinse your jars and lids, and pop them on a baking sheet in a low oven, around 120°C/250°F/1/2 Gas Mark will do. Bake them for 10 minutes to sterilise them, then turn the oven off – without opening it – until you need the jars.

Peel and slice your garlic cloves and toss into a heavy-bottomed pan with the oil. Bring to a very low heat to soften for 10 minutes – don’t allow them to brown or burn. (if you find peeling the cloves hard work, chop the top and bottom off and drop them into a jug or bowl of boiling water. Allow to soak for half an hour – they should slip right out of their skins).

Pour over the vinegar, wine and half the sugar, and bring to the boil. Toss in the thyme leaves and reduce the heat back down to a simmer. Simmer for a further 15 minutes to soften, then mash with a masher to break up into small pieces.

Add the remaining sugar and stir well. Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 5 minutes, stirring well to stop it sticking to the bottom. Add a splash more wine to loosen if necessary.

Remove from the heat and drop a teaspoon of the jam mixture onto a saucer. If it starts to set around the edges, it’s good to go.

Remove the jars from the oven – with a tea towel or cloth as they will be hot!

Pour the jam carefully into the warm jars, and balance the lid on top to cool. Once cooled, label and seal the lids, and store in the fridge or in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Taken from A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe

 

Jack Monroe’s Peanut Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Here I have brought together two of my favourite cookies into a classic combination of peanut butter and jam. My small boy loves making the thumbprints in these and spooning in the jam, and it’s a happy rainy-day activity to do together – although having such tiny little thumbs, he does his with a teaspoon!

Makes 12 cookies

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter, plus extra to grease the baking sheet

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons crunch peanut butter

8 tablespoons self-raising flour (or 8 tablespoons plain flour and 1 level teaspoon baking powder or bicarbonate of soda), plus extra to dust your hands

4 tablespoons jam

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, and lightly grease a baking sheet in preparation.

 

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until softened and well combined. Add the egg yolk and the peanut butter, and mix until the peanut butter is evenly distributed through the mixture. Spoon in the flour and stir to make a soft dough.

 

With lightly floured hands, break off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.

 

Repeat with the rest of the dough. Using your thumb, or a teaspoon, make a deep well in the centre of each flattened ball of dough – the cookies will flatten and spread out slightly as they cook, so don’t be afraid to dig in!

 

Melt the jam slightly in a microwave for 30 seconds on a low setting, then spoon a little into the centre of each cookie.

 

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.

 

Tips

Try different flavour combinations, such as grated white chocolate in place of peanut butter and lemon curd instead of jam. Or try dark chocolate with blackberry jam for a dark, delicious “Black Forest gateau” version.

Serve the cookies warm from the oven with a scoop of frozen yoghurt – try making your own Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Yoghurt

Taken from A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe

 

Allegra McEvedy’s Lombo di Maiale alla Spiede

God bless the peasant farmers that came up with this, a supper of pig and fat and salt and sticks that reeks of rustic. We had it in a little local restaurant up in the hills around Florence, not far from the quarry where Michelangelo cut his teeth, not to mention some rather fine marble.

 

This dish isn’t the healthiest thing you’ll ever eat, but it may well be one of the yummiest. The authentic fat to use is a block of Lardo di Colonnata, a salted pork fat cured with rosemary, which if you ever come across it is a must buy situation. A kilo block of Lardo is one of the more treacherous illegal imports I’ve brought home, but it goes a long way and made me happy for a good couple of months. Probably the best substitute is a piece of fatty pancetta, heated in a frying pan so that the fat melts, topped up the amount needed with olive oil. Or even a block of lard, but I’d add a bit of extra virgin olive oilin there for flavour, as this dish is all about flavourful fat. And if you really don’t want to use animal fats you can use just olive oil, but I’d be inclined to say in that case this recipe is not for you.

Rosemary from the garden is ideal as it has woodier stems – better for supporting the weight.

 

Serves 4 and takes half an hour at the beginning, then an hours marinate then 20 to finish it off.

 

2 pork tenderloins, each weighing around 400g (14oz) (trimmed weight)

salt and pepper

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 long, woody stems of rosemary (around 30cm/10.5 inches each)

big splash extra virgin olive oil

250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) melted piggy fat from lardo, fatty pancetta or good old fashioned lard though if you manage to find lardo, which is possible, then you’ll need to start with around 400g (14oz) and skin, trim and cube it before melting (or you can go for a combination of pork fat and extra virgin olive oil)

salt

1 ciabatta, about 270g (9 3/4oz)

 

Strip the leaves from the rosemary stems, just leaving a bushy tip on each one and finely chop the leaves.

 

Cut the tenderloins into slices about 3cm (1 1/4 inch) thick (to make about 16 pieces) and marinate them in the extra virgin, half the garlic and half the chopped rosemary for about an hour or so.

 

Once the meat has had as much marinating time as you can afford it, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400º/Gas Mark 6.

 

Heat the pork fat in a small pan and gently fry the rest of the garlic and rosemary leaves with a good seasoning of salt (you won’t need any salt if you’ve managed to get hold of lardo).

Season the tenderloin pieces with salt and pepper.

 

Cut the ciabatta into chunks about the same size as the pieces of pork – you’ll need 20 pieces.

Dip the pieces of bread into the melted fat, pressing each one down so that they really soak it up, and as you do this thread the bread and meat alternately onto the rosemary sticks: five bread pieces and four pork pieces per stick, each one starting and finishing with a piece of bread.

 

Line them all up on a baking tray, spoon over any leftover fat and put into the oven for 12–15 minutes.

 

Leave to rest for a couple of minutes, then carefully lift them onto a suitably gorgeous serving dish and pour over any juices that have come out of the meat. Serve with wedges of lemon and a plain tomato salad, as in no dressing or seasoning – there’s enough grease and salt going on already!

 

Taken from Bought, Borrowed & Stolen by  Allegra McEvedy