Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we run 3 Three Month Certificate Courses every year for students who want to gain the skills to earn them a living from their cooking. They come from all over the world and knuckle down for 12 weeks to learn as much as they possibly can about how food is produced and where it comes from and how to cook it simply so there’s a ‘Wow’ factor on each plate.
Apart from all that, many are united with a passion to contribute to society in a meaningful way. A few weeks ago we met Suze Gibson who has volunteered for 6 months with Seva Mandir, an inspirational NGO based in Udaipur in India who work with tribals in remote villages in Rajasthan.
Others link with charities closer to home. Recently a group of Ballymaloe Cookery School students came together to do a Pop Up dinner here at the school to raise money for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches local children in nine local schools how to grow and cook. It was a terrific event. The students liaised with several of our senior tutors. They choose the theme, designed the poster and the menu.
The starter was Ardsallagh goat cheese with beetroot and preserved lemon dressing. Everything was done from scratch so the student grew the pea shoots in seed trays, picked the wild garlic flowers and made the carrot jelly that decorated the plate from freshly juiced carrots. Others made the natural sourdough bread and ciabatta , a three day process. Not content with that, the Jersey butter was also home made, shaped into candles and served along with little Ballymaloe match boxes full of sea salt.
The main course of Lamb breast with Gremolata stuffing was slowly braised. The meat then shredded, seasoned and mixed with herbs and spices to make delicious little lamb rissole. This was served with a pearl barley, celeriac puree, purple sprouting broccoli and a gratin of potatoes. The students picked the little organic leaves for the green salad. The desert was new seasons’ rhubarb compote with cardamom and vanilla ricotta served with an almond and ginger tuile.
Some of the beautiful tender ricotta was homemade from the Jersey whey from our tiny herd, but most came from Macroom Cheese.
There was a competition for the petit fours at the end. Tiny lavender cup cakes with a secret filling, chocolate truffles with a fresh raspberry inside and sugar coated choux puffs
How could one choose? Guests enjoyed those with a cup of coffee.
Oh, and I almost forgot the aperitifs, a rhubarb and strawberry cocktail to sip with anchovy straws, home grown radishes on a crostini with olive butter and last but not least, homemade cheese crackers with a few flakes of warm smoked cod with horseradish aioli.
They didn’t catch the fish but they did hot smoke it and made the horseradish mayo and crisped the caper to sit on top.
The gardeners provided the music and another of the students played the guitar gently in the background. A wonderfully convivial and delicious evening. We were so proud of them all as the guests polished off their plates and showered them with richly deserved compliments.
They learned how to organise and pull off on an event down to the last detail including creating the recipes and sourcing the food. The theme was Masquerade so many of the guests arrived in masks and students who didn’t have a mask made their own from foraged leaves and feathers and decorated the dining room to the carnival theme.
If you wish you’d been there, contact us at email@example.com and we’ll let you know the dates of the next event. Meanwhile here are some of the delicious dishes for you to create your own. ….
Have you a block about making your own pastry?
Many, seem to have a ‘block’ about making our own pastry but it’s not difficult. On Monday April 18th 2016, for 2½ days, we will unlock the mystery and teach a few simple recipes. We will focus on the classic techniques of shortcrust pastry (both sweet and savoury), choux, hot water crust and the dreaded puff. We’ll even show you how to make a ‘break all the rules’ pastry, as well as the secret of Mrs. Allen’s featherlight Ballymaloe shortcrust pastry. Think irresistible quiches, a meat pie to melt-in-the-mouth, chocolate, coffee and pistachio eclairs, featherlight feuillitees, vol-au-vents, tarte tatin…… www.cookingisfun.ie for the details
Are spices a mystery –
Fresh spices add magic to your cooking. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, star anise, cinnamon, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves…we adore them all. Learn how to combine spices to introduce the flavours of Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Morocco…
Each spice has up to five distinctly different flavours, depending on how you use it, so we will illustrate how to choose the most fragrant spices, how to dry, roast, grind, store and flavour a tarka. Dishes will also include fresh ginger, a variety of chillies, lemongrass and fresh lime leaves, curry leaves and galangal – flavours which soon become addictive! This course will take the mystery out of spices and change your cooking forevermore.
During this two and a half day course, beginning on Wednesday April 20th 2016, you will learn an exciting repertoire of starters, main courses and delicious desserts, as well as a gorgeous spicy cake to share with friends and family. Lunch is included each day. www.cookingisfun.ie
Paul and Georgie Keane’s Inishbeg Organic lamb is now available at Walsh Butchers on Bridge Street, Skibbereen in West Cork. Tel: 028 21201
Lamb Breast with Gremolata, Celeriac Puree and Pearl Barley Risotto
2 lamb breasts
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Pearl Barley Risotto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
240 g pearl barely
1 litre hot chicken stock
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
Wild Garlic Salsa Verde
50 g wild garlic leaves, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
15 g flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Olive oil, to loosen
Salt and pepper
1 pint chicken stock
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Preheat the oven to 160°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
Season lamb breasts generously on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay skin side up on an oven tray. Roast for 20 minutes and reduce to 120°C/250°F/mark 2 for 1½ hours by which time lamb will be tender and much of the fat will have rendered out. Pour all the juices and fat into a pyrex bowl, save and chill. Meanwhile make the gremolata stuffing. Heat 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and sweat the diced onion and crushed garlic until soft but not coloured, 5-6 minutes.
Add the white breadcrumbs, chopped parsley lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cool, shape into two 1 inch rolls and wrap in cling film, twist the ends. Freeze.
When lamb is cooked remove the tough outer skin and bones or cartiledge. Shred the tender meat with the forks, chop finely on a timber board. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Lay a sheet of clingfilm on the worktop, spread the seasoned lamb evenly into a rectangle – a generous ½ inch thick.
Lay the rolls of frozen gremolata down the middle and then use the clingfilm to help wrap the lamb securely around the gremolata. Twist the ends tightly. Refrigerate overnight or even 2 days ahead.
On the day make the pearl barley risotto. In a hot frying pan, toast the pearl barley, tossing regularly over a high heat for 2-3 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add diced onion and carrot. Sweat for 4-5 minutes over a low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add toasted pearl barley and toss to coat each grain, stirring all the time. Slowly add hot chicken stock a ladle fill at a time stirring regularly until it’s cooked – approximately 40 minutes. Taste, correct seasoning and stir in lots of chopped parsley.
Next make celeriac puree and wild garlic salsa verde.
To make the wild garlic salsa verde. Whizz all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Add oil as if for pesto to loosen. Taste and correct seasoning.
Next make gravy. Lift off the layer of fat. Put the lamb juices into a saucepan, add 1 pint of chicken stock and ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Bring to a boil. Whisk in a tiny bit of roux. Taste and correct seasoning.
Preheat oven to 160C. Remove lamb from fridge and unwrap. Cut the roll into 1 inch sheets. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until heated through. Spoon a little of the gravy over the top.
To Plate. Cook the purple sprouting broccoli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain.
Put a dollop of celeriac puree onto each hot plate. Smear with a spoon, a generous portion of hot pearl barely risotto at a right angle. Pop two lamb breast rissoles down the side. Lay a few pieces of purple sprouting broccoli on top. Garnish with wild garlic flowers and put a few dots of salsa verde along the side.
Celeriac and Potato Puree
Great with game, turkey, chicken, duck or guinea fowl.
2 large celeriac, 700g (1½lb) approx.
225g (8oz) potatoes
110-170g (4-6oz) butter
2 fl oz (50 ml) cream
salt and freshly ground pepper
lemon juice to taste
Quarter, peel and cut the celeriac into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes. Cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes approx. or until tender, drain well,
Meanwhile, scrub and boil the potatoes. Peel and put into a food processor together with the celeriac. Add the butter, chopped herbs and cream. Season with salt and freshlly ground pepper. Taste and add a few drops of lemon juice if necessary.
Radish Crostini with Black Olive Butter
Makes 40 canapé
40 tiny crostini, cut from a skinny baguette
16-20 radishes, depending on size
4 ozs (110 g) butter
3 ozs (75 g) (1 oz when stoned) Kalamata olives, stoned and finely chopped
Fresh ground pepper
Flaky sea salt
First make the olive butter. Cream the butter, add the finely chopped kalamata olives. Just before serving crisp the thinly sliced bread in the oven. Spread the olive butter over each. Top with two slices of crisp radish. Garnish each with a sprig of chervil and a flake of sea salt.
Diamond Crackers with Warm Smoked Cod and a Crispy Caper
Makes 70 approximately
Ballymaloe or Sheridan’s Crackers
Warm Smoked Cod (see recipe)
Horseradish Aioli (see recipe)
First make the crackers and stamp into 2cm (1 1/2 inch) diamonds (see recipe).
Heat 1cm (1/2 inch) of oil in a small frying pan. Drain and dry the capers. Toss a few at a time in the hot oil. The capers will open out like flowers, drain on kitchen paper.
Just before guests arrive, arrange the crackers on a platter. Put a couple of flakes of warm smoked fish on top of each one. Garnish with a tiny blob of Horseradish Aioli and a crispy caper – so delicious.
Mustard and Horseradish Mayonnaise
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) white wine vinegar
8fl oz (225ml/1 cup) oil (sunflower or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 6fl oz (175ml/3/4 cup) sunflower oil and 2fl oz (50ml/1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1
2 good teaspoon chopped parsley
2 good teaspoon chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) grated fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon sugar
Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the crushed garlic, mustard, salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Finally add the chopped herbs, sugar and grated horseradish, taste and season if necessary.
If the Mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled Mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.
How to hot smoke fish
You don’t need any special equipment – even a biscuit tin will do.
Lay the fish fillets flesh side up on a tray, sprinkle the unskinned Pollock with salt as though you were seasoning generously.
Leave for at least an hour but not more than 3 hours. Dry the fillets with kitchen paper, place on a wire rack and allow to dry in a cool, airy place for 30 minutes approximately. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sawdust (we use apple wood) on the base of a rectangular biscuit tin or smoking box (www.nesbits.ie). Put a wire rack into the tin and lay the fish, flesh side up on top. Put the box on a gas jet over a high heat for a minute or so until the sawdust starts to smoulder. Cover the box. Reduce the heat and smoke for 6-7 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to sit unopened for 5 minutes.
Remove from the box and serve as you like.
Beetroot in Preserved Lemon Dressing, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese Mousse and Pea Shoot with a Spiced Carrot Jelly
250 g fresh beetroot
100 g goat cheese
1 tablespoon cream
Fresh pea shoots
Preserved Lemon Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
A good pinch of salt
½ preserved lemon, seeds removed and rind finely chopped
Spiced Carrot Jelly, optional
4 sheets gelatine
Wild garlic flowers
Day before – make the spiced carrot jelly.
Cover the beetroot in cold water and cook the beets until tender, depending on size, 40 minutes to 1½ hours. The beets are cooked when the skin rubs off easily.
Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together. Add the diced preserved lemon.
Once tender, peel beetroots and cut into bite size wedges. Toss in dressing while still warm.
Whisk the goat cheese and cream together lightly.
To serve. Put 3 wedges of beetroot and 3 teaspoon-size quenelles of goat cheese on each plate. Top with a bunch of freshly harvested peashoots and add five, ½ cm (¼ inch) of carrot jelly around the edge of the plate. Garnish with wild garlic flowers.