ArchiveAugust 2016

Any New Finds in London?

Any new finds in London? – a regular question from readers and friends. How lucky are we to live close to what may well be the most exciting food capital in the world, cosmopolitan and totally multi ethnic, it’s certainly up there with the best, so whether you feel like classic French or Ethiopian, Turkish or Sicilian, Basque, Lebanese, Tunisian, Moroccan, Burmese, Vietnamese, Thai, Uzbekistani, Russian, Roman, Scandinavian, Romanian…..Texas, BBQ or great modern British – it’s all there. Never enough meal slots to get to all the places on my ‘must try’ list.

On a recent visit I got to Palomar in Rupert Street in the heart of Theatreland. I’ve been wanting to go for ages but could never get a table. This time I just chipped up and scored a seat at the zinc counter with a brilliant view of the cocktail bar and the open kitchen.

Palomar serves the food of modern day Jerusalem, the menu is influence by the rich cultures of southern Spain, North Africa and the Levant but it’s not just the food that excites. The atmosphere is joyous and exhilarating. The chefs are really having fun and seem to be enjoying themselves hugely as they cook to the beat of the funky playlist. It’s loud, bustling and audacious and the enthusiasm is utterly infectious. Not the sort of place I might normally gravitate towards but I loved it.

Lots of small plates of irresistible food to choose from. Even though the portions are small, perfect for me, there’s a limit to what one can eat and there are many more tempting dishes to choose from.

I loved the Kubaneh – soft tender Yemeni bread served in a tin with tahini and a tomato, cumin and chilli dip.
Fattoush salad was made with challah croutons, tomato, cucumber, red onion, za’atar, sumac and brazil nuts on a bed of creamy labneh.

The chefs use a Josper grill and plancha for many of their dishes. Don’t miss the polenta Jerusalem style with mushroom ragu, parmesan and truffle oil. Shakshurkit, turned out to be a deconstructed kebab with super tasting mincemeat, yoghurt, tahini, several toppings and Yaeli’s pitta and I also fitted in roast octopus with chickpea msabacha and cherry tomato confit. Sounds like a lot of food but fortunately the dishes were small.
More unbearable choices for dessert, Malabi – rose scented milk pudding with fresh raspberry sauce, coconut meringue batons and kataifi.
Doesn’t that sound super delicious, well it was but so too was the orange blossom ice cream with the pistachio and crispy kataifi.

The Dairy in Clapham was also on my wish list for some time. Here Irish chef, Robin Gill has covered the roof of the old Victorian Dairy with a plastic crate garden that produces fresh herbs, vegetables and edible flowers for the kitchen. Gill’s wife Sarah looks after the front of the house. Robin worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quate Saisons in Oxford and also did a stint at Noma. He was head chef at Almeida in Islington and Sauterelle in the city.

Again, many small plates of deliciousness from the Gardens, Sea and Land. We lunched outside overlooking Clapham Common and tasted over a dozen delicious little bites, starting with those gorgeous plump Nocellara del belice green olives, house cured meats and crusty sourdough bread. There was Cornish crab with potato crisps and wakame, bone marrow agnolotti, peas, girolles, and summer truffle, charred mackerel with wild garlic dashi, pickled cucumber and oyster leaves. Lady Hamilton’s Pollock, marsh samphire and brandade was also memorable. And there was much much more.

Robin is a seriously accomplished chef with a passion for flavour, the seasons, wild foods and roof top herbs. The Dairy is also definitely worth a detour.
Another two of my favourite London restaurants, Duck Soup in Soho and Raw Duck in Hackney have recently published a cookbook of their simple eminently do-able recipes. The sort of food that you just love to eat, cook and serve to your family and friends.

Some of the lively fresh tasting dishes don’t even need to be cooked…..a triumph of good ingredients judiciously combined. It’s called The Wisdom of Simple Cooking – Ducksoup Cookbook by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill -here’s a taste

Cucumber, Pomegranate, Tomato and Za’atar Fattoush with Labneh and Tahini

Can be served as a starter or main course. A delicious combination, but toss gently, otherwise the feta will break up, and the end result will look far from appetizing. I sprinkle blue cornflower petals over this salad in season, red, yellow and orange nasturtium flowers are also lovely.
This recipe is not carved in stone, add a few fresh radishes and some purslane if available. Many countries have a version of this salad, an ingenious way to use up stale bread – Tortilla salad in Mexico, Panzanella in Tuscany.

Serves 4

1 pitta bread, split in half – 100g approx. or 2 slices of challah
extra virgin olive oil
1 Little Gem lettuce
1 small or ½ large cucumber, split lengthwise and cut at an angle – 140g
3 ripe tomatoes, 150g different varieties
½ red onion, sliced
150g feta or bocconini
2 tablespoons chopped annual marjoram
2 tablespoons flat parsley, roughly chopped
2 teaspoon za’atar
1 teaspoon sumac
Pomegranate seeds, 4 tablespoons (about ½)

Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Good pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed

Labneh

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4

Brush the rounds of pitta or challah with extra virgin olive oil and toast until slightly golden, 10-12 minutes, break into bite-sized bits, 5-7mm- not too small.
Wash and dry the Little Gem leaves and slice into long strips. Split the cucumber lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and cut across the grain at an angle. Cut the tomatoes into different bite-sized shapes, wedges, chunks, slices, dice. Crumble the feta into largish pieces.
To serve:
Choose a wide bowl, put the pitta, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and sliced red onion into the bowl, sprinkle with the marjoram, parsley and za’atar, Whisk the dressing and pour over, toss gently, add a few cubes of feta. Taste and correct seasoning.
Spoon a generous tablespoon of soft labneh onto each shallow plate, top with a helping of Fattoush. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and remaining cubes of feta.
Alternatively serve on a large platter family style

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Crab Fettucine Tomato and Bush Basil

Serves 2

150 g datterini, cherry or plum tomatoes on the vine
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil plus extra for drizzling
1 clove garlic
80 g brown crab meat
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
160 g fresh fettucine, or used dreed
80 g white crab meat
Juice of half a lemon
Few bush basil sprigs (or regular basil torn)
Slat

Bring a large of salted water to the boil. Heat a frying pan until smoking, then add the tomatoes, drop of olive oil and pinch of salt.
Give the pan a little shake here and there and fry for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to blister and burn slightly.

Once amply blistered, pour onto the plate and set aside.

Gently heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile thinly slice the garlic using mandolin slicer – using the guard – and add to the pan (or if you prefer you can slice the garlic by hand but as thinly as possible).

As soon as the garlic starts to turn golden, add the tomatoes and all the juice. Give them a quick stir and then add the brown crab meat and chilli flakes.

Stir together and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes.

While this is cooking add the fresh pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes (if using dried pasta, check the instruction on the packet) Drain the pasta, keeping a couple of tablespoons of pasta water, and add to the tomatoes and crab pasta with a little pasta water.

Season with salt, you don’t need pepper because of the chilli flakes). Add the white crab meat and use tongs to mound the pasta up towards you so that you thoroughly coat the pasta with the sauce. Squeeze in the lemon juice and divide between two plates.

To serve, sprinkle over the basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil.

Ducksoup Cookbook Clare Lattin and Tom Hill

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Flat White Peach, Goat’s Curd and Purple Basil

This is sunshine on a plate! As long as you use the best ingredients you’ll immediately find yourself transported to summer sunshine – this is a dish that requires perfectly ripe peaches. Serve this dish with crusty bread to mop up the juices – you could even have a plate of prosciutto alongside to help it on its way. If you can’t find purple basil (which has a more interesting flavour) try bush basil or regular basil.

Serves 2

4 white peaches (we use flat variety also known as sauterne peaches)
Juice of half lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
120 g goat’s curd
8-10 basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Over a bowl, so that you can catch all the juices, tear the peaches in half and remove the stones, then roughly tear each half in two (or leave some whole if you want). Drop them into the bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil and a little pinch of salt and toss everything together.
Let it fall out of the bowl onto two plates, along with all the dressing. Add a spoon of goat’s curd to each plate and tear over the basil leaves. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper and a dash of olive oil.
Ducksoup Cookbook by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill

 

Robin Gill’s Garden Courgette with Smoked Buffalo Milk Curd and Roof Top Honey

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 courgettes with flowers
1 bunch fresh basil
1 clove garlic
20g aged Parmesan
10 g extra virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper
10g toasted pumpkin seeds
5 Nocellara Del Belice olives
4 tablespoons of good quality honey

Smoked buffalo curd
500ml buffalo milk
25g double cream
10g buttermilk
Pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon

2g vegetable rennet
A hand full of dried hay

The first step is to make the curd, first place all ingredients apart from the hay and rennet into a container. Next toast the hay in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 until it is an amber colour all over and has started to smoke, carefully remove the smoking hay from the oven and pour the mixed milk mix over the smoking hay and leave to infuse for 30 minutes, next strain the mix through a fine mix into a clean pot and add the rennet. Best place it over a low heat and bring the mix up to 36oC. (The mix should be just warm on the finger tip) transfer the mix into a suitable sized container and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Courgette and basil purée
Take 2 of the courgettes, cut into quarters and then slice across into thin fine pieces. Pick half a bunch of basil and reserve the best leaves for garnish later. Take a medium sized pan and add a good drissle of olive oil, add the garlic and follow quickly with the sliced courgette, stir and add a spoon of water and place a lid over the pan to help create steam, after 2 minutes add the basil and finally the grated Parmesan, place the mix into a blender and blend until smooth, place the mix in a bowl over iced water to cool quickly to keep the bright green colour.

Assembly
Slice the remaining courgettes thinly lengthways, place in a bowl with the flowers torn into quarters season with salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to taste, spoon the courgette purée generously around each plate, scatter the courgettes and flowers alternatively around each plate, add a couple of olive pieces, a couple of spoons of the smoked curd, finish with fresh basil and a good spoon of your favourite honey.

Hot Tips
Taste of West Cork Food Festival runs from 9th-18th September and brings a unique mix of food markets, demonstrations, competitions, dinners, brunches and banquets, food-tastings, talks, exhibitions, children’s events….don’t miss Foraging at Glebe Gardens, Carmel Somers’ demonstration and much more….

Date for the Diary
Feast in the East Midleton Food and Drinks Festival, 4th 10th September 2016 – lots of exciting events planned. Details to follow on the web http://midletonfoodfestival.ie/

Organic Growers in UK

It’s surely a decade and a half since we came over to the UK to visit organic growers, beautiful gardens, farm shops, Farmers Markets, farmhouse cheese makers…. Last time there was a tremendous air of optimism, demand for organic produce was growing, prices were more or less viable but now, 15 years later, in the wake of Brexit, there is quite a different mood tethering between despair and resignation.

There seems to be huge confusion amongst farmers about what on earth to grow or produce to actually manage to ‘earn a crust’

Helen Browning of Eastbook Farm in Wiltshire is the biggest organic pig farmer in the UK with 200 sows and their happy piglets chasing each other gleefully around the fields on her beautiful farm near Bishopstone close to Swindon.

Most of the pork goes into her range of juicy organic sausages and hotdogs and is also served on the menu at The Royal Oak, the pub she and her partner Tim Finney bought partly to revitalize the local village. This really resonated with me because for three days we’d been wending our way through beautiful Cotswold villages, all hollyhocks and roses with honey coloured granite houses and Farrow and Ball colours but often not a shop, pub or even a post office in sight.

Here in Ireland the decision to cap the size of retail outlets and not to allow large supermarkets to be built in green field sites, has, I wouldn’t quite say saved but at least protected the livelihood of many of our smaller shop keepers and kept many of our villages alive.

In Southrop, I stayed at Thyme, a beautiful country house with an excellent cooking school near the tiny village of Lechade. www.thyme.co.uk. It too has a pub with excellent food, even plates of hand cut pasta negra. Not all pubs in the UK have good food but many have and occasionally a comfy, couple of reasonably priced rooms.

We also loved The Plough in Kingham where Emily Watkins’s food draws people from far and wide to yet another beautiful village with no shop. For breakfast, as well as homemade jams, marmalades and a generous fry of local bacon, handmade sausages, home grown tomatoes and good eggs, they serve sweet little drop scones. www.thekinghamplough.co.uk

In the UK baked beans are a favourite part of a breakfast fry. At Thyme they made their own with fat Judion beans cooked in tomato sauce served with a thick slice of their own hand cut ham and a fried egg. Another tasty brunch dish. I also enjoyed little dill crumpets with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and dill sprigs, a light and delicious start to the day.

Another cool idea for an ice cream combination, raspberry and beetroot, came from the ice cream booth at the super cool Jolly Nice Farm Shop not far from Stroud. Here two young chaps bought a disused gas station and built a covered Farm shop underneath the canopy selling fresh herbs, organic meat, spanking vegetables, fruit, local cheeses and a whole range of carefully chosen deli products as well as craft beers and natural wines. There was a takeout café with fresh edgy food to eat at picnic tables in the meadow behind the shop or in one of two super cool yurts with stoves in case it got chilly. What a super idea. Another of my favourites was the Roth Bar and Grill at Hauser & Wirth in Bruton for both art, sculpture and food lovers. This is definitely a place to add to your ‘must do’ list check out. http://www.hauserwirthsomerset.com/

Among many good things, I particularly remember a lemon curd muffin that I enjoyed with a superb cup of coffee. There’s a Martin Creed exhibition on there at present as well as several spectacular sculptures by Subodh Gupta.
This is Somerset, deep in Cheddar country, iconic cheese makers like Montgomery and Keen’s are close by.
If you are in the area check out Westcombe Cheddar where I saw the world’s first Cheddar cheese turning robot in action, see timanddarina on Instagram.
You will also be close to the village Alhampton so vegetable, fruit and herb growers or wannabe growers may want to check whether Charles Dowding of ‘No Dig’ Gardening fame is giving a course. www.charlesdowding.com

Hot Tips

Date for your Diary
Don’t miss the fun at the fourth annual Ballymaloe Garden Festival which takes place on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 of September 2016 on the grounds of Ballymaloe House. The weekend will bloom with talks, walks, workshops, demonstrations, food and fun designed to stimulate and excite rookie and veteran gardeners alike. All events are included in the €8 admission, children under 16 go free. www.gardenfestival.ballymaloe.ie.

The attributes of raw milk become increasingly evident as a growing body of research indicates the enhanced health benefits.
It can be difficult to find but the good news is Dan and Ann Aherne from Ballysimon utside Midleton now sell their beautiful organic raw cow’s milk in glass bottles from their stall at both Midleton Farmers Market, Saturdays 9am-2pm and Mahon Point Farmers Market on Thursday from 10am-3pm – get there early it sells out fast. Tel: 086 165 9258 ahernsorganicfarm@gmail.com

Dill Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche

Serves 8

Savoury Pancake

Makes 12 pancakes

110g (4ozs/1 cup) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
110ml (4fl ozs/1/2 cup) milk
drop of sunflower oil, for greasing

2 tablespoons chopped dill
8 slices of smoked salmon
Crème fraiche
Dill sprigs

28cm (11in) frying pan

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and salt and stir to mix. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg and whisk, gradually drawing in the flour from the edge. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the time, to form a smooth batter.

Lightly grease a frying pan and warm it over a moderate heat. Drop 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, keeping well apart so they don’t stick together. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface and begin to burst and the drop scones are golden underneath, then flip them over and cook on the other side for a minute or until golden on this side as well.

Remove from the pan and serve warm on a hot plate with a ruffle of thin slices of smoked salmon, a dollop of crème fraiche and a few sprigs of dill.

Roth Bar and Grill Lemon Curd Muffins

Makes 12

170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter

310 g (11 oz) castor sugar

4 organic eggs

600 g (1¼ lb) self raising flour

300 ml (½ pint) whole milk

a pinch of fine salt

Lemon Curd

Tangy delicious lemon curd can be made in a twinkling, smear it over a sponge or onto fresh bread, buttery scones or meringues. It is best eaten within a fortnight.

Makes 2 x 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) jars

2oz (50g/1/2 stick) butter
3 1/2oz (100g/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 organic eggs and 1 organic egg yolk whisked (keep white aside for meringue)

Grease and line a 12 muffin tin with greaseproof paper cups

Preheat the oven to 175˚C/325˚F/gas mark 3.

First make the muffins. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add a beaten egg, one a time until well incorporated into the butter/sugar mix. Gently mix in the flour and salt. Then add the milk, mix well.

Bake for 25-28 minutes in a fan oven. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Next make the lemon curd. Melt the butter on a very low heat. Add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice and then add the whisked eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat with a straight ended wooden spatula until the mixture coats the back it. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or sterilized jar (it will thicken further as it cools.)

Cut a hole on the top of each cooled muffin. Use a piping bag to pipe the lemon curd into each muffin until oozing out of the top. Delicious with a cup of good coffee!

Emily Watkin’s Dark Chocolate and Cherry Arctic Roll

Serves 6

Flourless Chocolate Sponge
5 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
45g melted dark chocolate
3 egg whites

Cherry ice-cream
650g fresh cherry fruit puree
225g caster sugar
125ml double cream

For the flourless chocolate sponge
Pre heat the oven to 190C.

Line a large flat baking tray with baking parchment. Whisk the yolks and sugar to make a sabayon (pale and volumised). Sift the cocoa into the yolks and sugar. Add the chocolate. Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Take a large spoon of the whites and mix into the chocolate base. Fold the whisked egg whites into the other ingredients. Pour onto the baking tray and bake for 6 minutes. Leave to cool.

For the Cherry Ice cream
First pit the cherries, blitz, then pass through a sieve.
Bring the sugar and cream to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into the cherry puree. Churn in an ice cream maker or freeze in a bowl, stirring every half hour. (or you can freeze in ice cubes and then place in a food processor to blend into an ice cream).

To make the arctic roll
Place a roll of cling film on a chopping board. Carefully turn the chocolate sponge onto the cling film. Place the ice cream onto the cling film. Use the cling film to help roll the sponge and ice cream into a log. Tie the cling film at the ends. Place back in the freezer until needed.

To serve:
Cut the log into individual portions and dust with a little cocoa powder. Serve with fresh cherries.

Beetroot and Raspberry Ice-Cream

Serves 6

225g (8oz) fresh raspberries
225g (8oz) cooked ruby beetroot
175g (6oz / 3/4 cup) sugar
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) water
1 teaspoon gelatine
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) whipped cream

Garnish
fresh raspberries and fresh mint leaves

Puree and sieve the raspberries. Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil for 2 minutes, sponge the gelatine in 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) water and dissolve in a saucepan of simmering water. Puree the cooked beetroot with the syrup, allow to cool. Then add the raspberry purée, add a little to the gelatine and then mix the two together. Fold in whipped cream and freeze in a covered container.

To Serve
Scoop out the ice-cream, serve on chilled plates. Decorate with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

Taste of Istanbul

I spent a few days recently on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, I taught a course here at the Cookery School entitled ‘A Taste of Istanbul’. Ironically it coincided with the coup and subsequent unrest in Turkey so for me it was a bitter sweet experience. The course was inspired by the delicious food we ate on our trip to Istanbul last year.
I longed to share my experience and favourite recipes and stories of the places we visited and the Turkish people we met. Everywhere I went people heard I was interested in the food they cooked for me and shared family recipes.

One guide in Cappadocia brought us home and cooked a delicious goat stew from his village and a bulgur pilaff from cracked wheat milled in the local water mill.
Another family brought out Granny to give me cooking classes, the flavour of the food still lingers in my memory as does the warmth and kindness of the Turkish people everywhere we went. I remember a gentle potter who made beautiful utilitarian pots including a vase like pot in which a mutton stew is traditionally cooked in the embers of a wood burning oven. The stew was brought to the dining room in the sealed pot by the cook who knocked the top off neatly with a hammer at the table and poured the intensely flavoured stew onto the plate. He also made unglazed pots specially for yoghurt, I bought one home and the yoghurt we make in this clay pot is quite exceptional.

The street food in Istanbul was intriguing, some like doner kebab, kokerec, barbequed sheep’s intestines is not easy to reproduce but we make a delicious lahmacun, a Turkish lamb pizza eaten with lots of flat parsley and lemon that everyone loves.
I brought back several bags of urfa biber, the red Turkish pepper that’s virtually an essential seasoning and that immediately gives a dish an authentic taste.
Istanbul on the Bosphorus straddles two continents so its food is a fascinating and delicious mix of European and Asian flavours and techniques.

I particularly remember the fishermen in anoraks and woolly hats with their long rods fishing over the Galata bridge and the delicious fresh fish sandwiches balik ekmek, literally ‘fish bread’ from the stalls the Karaköy edge of fish market on the Bosphorous.

We made a delicious variation with fresh Ballycotton mackerel that everyone loved. They also enjoyed the comforting mercimek, a simple rice and lentil soup that’s put together in minutes, kids love it too.

The markets in Istanbul are packed with spices, dried fruit, vegetables and herbs, candies, Turkish delight, halva, wild honey and baklava in very shape and form.
We cooked several sweet and savoury dishes with filo pastry and the related künefe a shredded filo pastry that cooks to a golden crunch.

Here’s a recipe for a terrific dinner party and a welcome change from Pavlova.

Hot Tips
Date for the Diary
Don’t miss the Taste of Donegal Food Festival which runs from August 26th for three days. Lots of cookery demonstrations, wine and beer tastings, meet local food producers and taste their produce….

Mehmet’s Cappadocian Goat or Lamb Stew

The goat meat s from Mehmet’s village was butchered by himself – the flavour was intense and delicious. Shoulder of lamb or mutton can be used if goat is not available.

Serves 4-6

800g (1 3/4lbs) goat’s meat or lamb, with lots of fat, cut into 2cm (¾ inch) cubes
350g (12oz) onions, finely chopped
5-7 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
a pinch of chilli powder, biber chilli
4 ripe tomatoes cut in segments
1 Hungarian red pepper, 2cm (3/4 inch) dice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of Kekik – a Cappadocian mountain herb, perhaps we could use thyme leaves

Accompaniment
bulgar pilaf (see recipe)
a bowl of natural yoghurt

Cut the goat meat into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes.

Heat a saute pan or shallow wok (satita) over a medium heat.

First cook a few pieces of fat until it starts to render. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or so. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the diced pepper, cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the chopped onions and garlic cloves. Cook for another 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the tomatoes and a little chilli powder. Add a little kekik or maybe substitute thyme leaves (3 teaspoons).

Add 200ml (7floz/1 scant cup) hot water, to about half way up, cover the pan or wok and continue to cook for 30-40 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.

Serve with bulgur pilaf and a bowl of natural yoghurt.

Bulgur pilaf
The bulgur that Mehmet used was home-grown and ground in a water powered mill.
Serves 4-6
45g (1½ oz) butter
450g (1lb) bulgur wheat
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add bulgur and stir to coat. Then add salt and enough cold water to barely cover the top. Cover the saucepan and cook for five minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer into a hot serving dish.
Melt some butter in a separate pan, allow to brown. Pour over the bulgur and serve with goat stew.

Balik Ekmek (Mackerel Fish Bread)
At the Eminou end of the Galata bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, you’ll find the Karaköy Fish Market and boats selling balik ekmek. The name literally means ‘fish bread’, a simple sandwich of freshly grilled fish seasoned with salt and Turkish red pepper, served with sliced onion, lettuce, maybe some tomato and or pepper salad and a wedge of lemon. The Turks love mackerel but other fresh fish can also be used.

Different vendors do variations on the theme, the secret is spanking fresh fish, freshly grilled.

Serves 6

6 fillets of super fresh mackerel
extra virgin olive oil
Turkish biber pepper or sumac
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Turkish Tomato Salad

Serves 6

1 small red onion
1-2 teaspoons sumac
6 very ripe tomatoes
flat parsley, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) lemon juice
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

little Gem lettuce

Parsley, Caper and Spring Onion Mayonnaise (see recipe)

4 x 6 rolls or 4 x 15cm (6 inch) pieces of small baguette.

First make the mayonnaise (see recipe).

Season the fish with salt and sprinkle with biber pepper or sumac.

Next make the tomato salad.
Half the red onion,slice, sprinkle with salt and sumac and work well into the onion slices with your hands. Allow to sit while you chop the tomatoes coarsely. Add to the bowl with the roughly chopped parsley. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice. Toss, taste and correct the seasoning – you may need a pinch of sugar.

To serve
Heat the pan-grill on a high flame.

Split the bread in half and pan-grill on the crumb side.

Pan-grill the mackerel first, flesh-side down, turn over when nicely marked and golden and then cook on the skin-side until crisp.

Spread a little herb mayonnaise on the cut sides of the bread. Top with a piece of pan-grilled fish and a portion of tomato salad. Add a leaf or two of lettuce, either Little Gem or Lollo Rossa. Serve immediately on a little tray or a piece of brown or greaseproof paper.

Basic Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is what we call a ‘mother sauce’ in culinary jargon. In fact it is the ‘mother’ of all the cold emulsion sauces, so once you can make a Mayonnaise you can make any of the daughter sauces by just adding some extra ingredients.
I know it is very tempting to reach for the jar of ‘well-known brand’ but most people don’t seem to be aware that Mayonnaise can be made even with a hand whisk, in under five minutes, and if you use a food processor the technique is still the same but it is made in just a couple of minutes. The great secret is to have all your ingredients at room temperature and to drip the oil very slowly into the egg yolks at the beginning. The quality of your Mayonnaise will depend totally on the quality of your egg yolks, oil and vinegar and it’s perfectly possible to make a bland Mayonnaise if you use poor quality ingredients.

2 egg yolks, preferably free range
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) white wine vinegar
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) oil (sunflower or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 175ml (6fl oz3/4 cup) sunflower oil and 50ml (2fl oz1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the 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. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar 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.

Variation
Parsley and Caper Spring Onion Mayonnaise
Add 1 tablespoon each of chopped parsley, spring onions and 1 teaspoon of chopped tiny capers and add to the basic homemade mayonnaise.

Note
Sumac (Rhus corioria) – the sour berries of a shrub that grows wild throughout Anatolia. They may be steeped in water and the juice expressed, or ground and used to give a sour note to meat and vegetable dishes. Sumac can be bought in Middle Eastern shops, or use lemon juice as a substitute.

Red pepper (Biber) – an essential item in Turkish cooking. It is available powdered or coarsely ground and the taste is not as hot as cayenne nor as mild as paprika. A combination of the two may be used as a substitute. Red pepper appears on the table as a condiment instead of black or white pepper.

Merjemec Chorba

(rice, lentil and lemon soup)

Serves 4-6

1 medium onion.
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) olive oil.
1 cup red lentils
4oz (100g/1/2 cup) long grain rice.
salt
2 1/2 – 3 1/4 pints (6-8 cups) cold water (vegetable or chicken stock)
1-2 lemons

Sweat the onion in the olive oil until soft.
Add lentils, rice, salt and water.

Simmer with a lid on for about 15 minutes until the rice and lentils are fully cooked. Add lemon juice to taste.

Note – we like to add a little biber pepper and some fresh herbs (1 heaped teaspoon each of marjoram and thyme leaves, chopped) but the basic soup is comforting and homely.
May require a little more chicken stock at the end.

Lahmacun

These round, flatbread pizzas are much thinner and crispier than Pide. They become addictive, one never seems to be enough…….

Makes 4

7g (1/4oz) dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) warm water
500g (18oz/generous 4 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
a little extra virgin olive oil
polenta, for dusting
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Topping
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
110g (4oz) onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon (1 1/4 American tablespoons) marjoram, chopped
310g (10 1/2oz) finely minced lamb
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Kırmızı biber flakes
1 tablespoon (1 1/4 American tablespoons) flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

To serve
4 ripe tomatoes, freshly chopped
fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kırmızı biber pepper flakes
lemon wedges

Put the yeast, sugar and half the warm water in a small bowl, stir well and leave for 5-8 minutes or until it becomes creamy. Sieve the flour and salt into another bowl, mix. Make a well in the centre, add in the yeast and the remaining warm water. Mix to a dough with your hands. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 8-10 minutes or for 5 minutes in a food mixer with a dough hook. Put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise at room temperature until double in size – about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 240˚C/Gas Mark 9.

Meanwhile make the topping, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, sauté the chopped onion, garlic and oregano for about 3–4 minutes or until the onion has softened. Transfer the mixture to a bowl – allow to cool. Add the lamb, paprika, biber pepper and parsley. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and chill until ready to use.

When the dough has risen, knock back lightly. Shape into a roll – 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, press it down with your hand. Roll into a round thin flatbread about 30cm wide, or as thin as you possibly can, turning the dough as you roll and pulling it with your hands.

Transfer to a pizza paddle sprinkled with polenta. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the base of the first lahmacun. Drizzle with a little olive oil and slide onto a preheated metal baking tray in the oven. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until the lahmacun is crispy and golden brown. Repeat the process with the remaining lahmacun.

Serve with a couple of lemon wedges, fresh tomato dice, lots of sprigs of flat parsley and if you like more Kırmızı biber flakes scattered over the top.

Claudia Roden’s Konafa with a Cream Filling

It is my mother’s recipe. In Lebanon it is called Osmaliyah. It is meant to be served hot but it is also good cold. You can buy the soft white vermicelli-like dough frozen in Lebanese, Turkish and Greek stores. In Lebanon, it is called knafe but in the UK it is sold by its Greek name kataifi in 400g packets; it should be defrosted for 3 hours. The quantities below will make one large pastry to serve 10 but you can also make two, half the size, one to serve fewer people and one to put in the freezer to bake at a later date. It freezes well uncooked.

Serves 10

For the syrup
12oz (350g/1 1/2 cups) sugar
9fl oz (250ml/generous 1 cup) water
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) orange blossom water

For the cream filling
4 1/2oz (125g) ground rice
950ml (approx. 1 3/4 pints/scant 4 1/2 cups) milk
4fl oz (110ml/1/2 cup) double cream
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) sugar

For the pastry
14oz (400g) kataifi (knafe) pastry, defrosted
7oz (200g/1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Garnish
3 1/2oz (100g) pistachios, chopped finely

Make the syrup first. Boil the sugar with the water and the lemon juice over a low heat for 510 minutes, until it is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Another way to test it is to pour a drop onto a cold plate and if it does not spread out like water, it is ready. Stir in the orange blossom water and cook a moment more. Let it cool then chill in the refrigerator. (If you have overcooked the syrup and it becomes too thick to pour when it is cold, you can rescue it by adding a little water and bringing it to the boil again.)

For the filling, mix the ground rice with enough of the cold milk to make a smooth creamy paste. Bring the rest of the milk with the cream to the boil. Add the ground rice paste, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Leave it on a very low heat and continue to stir constantly for 1520 minutes until the mixture thickens, being careful not to let it burn at the bottom. Then add the sugar and stir well.

Put the kataifi pastry in a large bowl. With your fingers, pull out and separate the strands as much as possible. Melt the butter and when it has cooled slightly, pour it over the pastry and work it in very thoroughly with your fingers, pulling out and separating the strands and turning them over so that they do not stick together, and are entirely coated with butter.

Spread half the pastry at the bottom of a large round pie pan, measuring 2830cm (11-12 inches) in diameter. Spread the cream filling over it evenly and cover with the rest of the pastry. Press down firmly and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for about 45 minutes. Some like to brown the bottom  which comes out on top when the pastry is turned out  by running it over heat on a hob for a brief moment only. Others prefer the pastry to remain pale.

Just before serving, run a sharp knife round the edges of the osmaliyah to loosen the sides, then turn it out onto a large serving dish. Pour the cold syrup all over the hot pastry and sprinkle the top lavishly with the chopped pistachios.

Alternatively, you can pour only half the syrup over the pastry and pass the rest around in a jug for everyone to help themselves to more if they wish.

Osmaliya with Cheese Filling
This is another wonderful dessert that I strongly recommend. It is quicker and easier to make than the previous one with cream. Make the pastry as above but instead of the cream filling, use 18oz (500g) mozzarella cheese CHOPPED OR GRATED in the food processor, mix with 9oz (250g) RICOTTA, 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) sugar and 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) orange blossom water. Bake as above and pour the cold syrup over the hot pastry as it comes out of the oven, just before serving. Serve hot or at least warm while the cheese is soft.

‘Au Revoir’ to Summer 12 Week Certificate Class

Just said ‘au revoir’ to another group of 12 Week Certificate students who have truly put 110% into 12 full-on busy weeks here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. They came from all over the world, 12 nationalities this time. Some had never held a wooden spoon in their hands before, a few were chefs, others had a little experience in a café or restaurant kitchen, perhaps not even in the kitchen but in front of house or waiting on tables – all were united by a longing and determination to learn to cook. That’s all we need, passion, energy and curiosity.

Twelve weeks later, they leave us looking forward to their new adventure, go straight into restaurant kitchen either at home or abroad from London to San Francisco, to Copenhagen. They use their newly acquired skills in a myriad of ways – travelling, cooking on yachts, ski chalets in Winter, teaching, writing, food trucks, Farmers Markets….. Some will return to their former jobs having taken 12 short weeks off to learn a vital life skill. One girl wants to be a butcher, others will use their skills to smoke food, make cheese, forage, ferment even grow herbs and vegetables. On the summer certificate course which starts in May the students have the opportunity to have a raised bed on the farm, to sow seeds and grow vegetables. It’s one of many extra circular activities.

Several took up the option. It’s magic to plant seeds at this time of the year, everything grows so fast… They grew radishes, white turnips, carrots, onions and beetroot from seed and transplanted fennel, cabbage, marigolds, tomatoes, broad beans, lettuce, peas and sunflowers….

Can you imagine, they were beyond excited and I think we may just have given them a gift for life – a love for growing some of their own food.

On the very first day when they arrived they learned how to sow a seed and then planted a sweet corn plant, tucking a lollipop stick with their name on it into the ground so they can identify their very own plant. I know of no better way to give my students an understanding of how food is produced and how long it takes to grow and how much care it needs, than to plant it into the ground themselves and then wait for it to grow for a full three months.

Further more, it gives them a huge appreciation of those whose labor to grow nourishing wholesome food to keep us healthy and sated plus an understanding of the time and attention it takes – they will never complain about the price of organic vegetables and herbs again.

Each batch of students enrich our lives in so many ways and often share a favourite recipe with us. This time Martin, an engineer from Stockholm designed a brilliant BBQ which our local blacksmith made up. Much fun was had cooking on it while they were with us and now it will remind us of Martin and the summer 2016 group every time we see it. Sarah Cremona gave us her favourite recipe for macaroons which I like much more than my original one. Martin also gave us his favourite recipe for Swedish crispbread, Lindsay spent days testing a recipe for cinnamon buns and then shared the recipe.

HOT TIPS
Thinking of starting food business?
So many ideas but nowhere to experiment or test your product. Good news – Cork County Council have a new initiative. Cork Incubator Kitchens to assist emerging and established food businesses is now available to rent in Carrigaline. For further details contact Brendan Russell 087 6233088 or Mary Daly 087 919 8168. Email Brendan@thefoodsafetycompany.ie

Martin Gustafsson’s Swedish fröknäcke (Seed Crispbread)

You will soon become addicted to this seedy crispbread – delicious with cheese or dips or just to nibble as a snack.

Makes 2 trays

80 (3 1/4oz) pumpkin seeds
80 (3 1/4oz) sesame seeds
80 (3 1/4oz) sunflower seeds
80 (3 1/4oz) linseeds
100g (3 1/2oz) polenta flour or cornmeal
350ml (12fl oz) water
50ml (2fl oz) olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the boiling water and the olive oil. Mix well to dissolve any lumps. Divide equally and spread out the wet mixture on the baking trays. Make sure the thickness is even and as thin as possible without creating holes in the mixture. Sprinkle sea salt on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes. Every 15 minutes open the oven door to allow the steam to escape. After 60 minutes turn the crisp bread over and bake for the remaining 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Martin Gustafsson (12 Week April 2016)

 

Brioche Cinnamon Butter Buns

Makes 15-20

Brioche (see recipe)

Cinnamon Butter
150g (5oz/1 1/4 sticks) butter
250g (9oz/1 1/8 cup) pale brown sugar
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) Sri Lankan ground cinnamon

Egg Wash
1 – 2 beaten eggs

muffin tins

Make the brioche in the usual way. Cover and allow to rise overnight in a fridge.

Next day.
First make the Cinnamon Butter.
Cream the butter, sugar and cinnamon together and beat until light and fluffy.

Roll out the brioche dough into 1cm (1/2 inch) thick rectangle. Spread the cinnamon butter evenly over the surface with a palate knife, roll from the long side, cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces. Pop each one into a well-buttered muffin tin. Cover and allow to rise to double in size. Egg wash gently.

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

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cook on a wire-rack

Variation

Brioche with Butter and Sugar

Serves 20 – 24

1 x brioche dough (see recipe)
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) granulated sugar
110g (4oz/1 stick) butter, cut into 5mm (1/4 inch dice)
Egg Wash

2 x Swiss roll tins – 33 x 20.5cm (12 x 8 inch)

Brush the Swiss roll tins with melted butter. Divide the brioche dough in half.
Roll each into a rectangle to fit the tins.
Egg wash and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours approximately.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. When the dough has risen, dot with the diced butter evenly over the top, sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Cook in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

Best eaten when freshly baked but also delicious next day.
Brioche

Brioche is the richest of all yeast dough’s. It can often seem intimidating but this very easy version works well and we have written it so that the dough can rise overnight in the fridge and be shaped and baked the following morning.

We always serve them warm from the oven with butter and homemade strawberry jam.

Makes 15-20 individual brioches or 2 large ones

25g (1oz) yeast
50g (2oz/1/4 cup) castor sugar
65 ml (2 1/2fl oz/1/4 cup) tepid water
4 eggs
450g (1lb/4 cups) strong white flour
large pinch of salt
225g (8oz/2 sticks) soft butter

Sponge the yeast and sugar in the tepid water in the bowl of an electric mixer. Allow to stand for five minutes. Add the eggs, flour and salt and mix to a stiff dough with the dough hook.

When the mixture is smooth, beat in the soft butter in small pieces. Don’t add the next piece of butter until the previous piece has been completely absorbed. This kneading stage should take about half an hour.

The finished dough should have a silky appearance, it should come away from the sides of the bowl and when you touch the dough it should be damp but not sticky.
Place it in an oiled bowl, cover and rest it overnight in the fridge.

 

Sarah Cremona’s Chocolate Macaroons

Dare I say, a fool proof recipe for macaroons – one can of course vary the flavours.

Makes 30 macaroons depending on size

300g ground almonds
300g pure icing sugar
10g cocoa powder

110g egg whites

75g water
300g white sugar

Chocolate Ganache or Buttercream of your choice
Sieve the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl.

Pass the egg whites through a spotlessly clean and dry sieve so that they are the same consistency.

Add the sieved egg whites to the dry ingredients and mix to a smooth paste.
Keep aside.
Put the remaining 110g (4oz) clarified egg whites into the a food mixer.
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, stir to dissolve the sugar and boil until it reaches 118C/244F.

Gently pour the boiling syrup into the the bowl of the mixer. Whisk until light and fluffy to make Italian Meringue. Reduce the speed to medium and continue to whisk until the meringue is less than 35 degrees in temperature.

Gently fold the Italian meringue into the almond base.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe into generous 2.5cm (1 inch) rounds with a round tip nozzle (size 11). Allow to rest for 10-20 min to allow a skin to form.

Meanwhile, preheat a fan oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until cooked, the macaroons will lift easily off the parchment easily.
Sandwich the macaroons together with chocolate ganache or butter cream of your choice.

Sarah Cremona (12 Week Summer 2016)

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