ArchiveSeptember 2016

Cheese Glorious Cheese

I’ve got a lovely friend in Dallas who also wears red glasses and makes amazing cheeses. She started the Mozzarella Company in 1982 and has been creating and producing award winning artisan chesses ever since for top restaurants, speciality cheese shops, delis and gourmet outlets all over America.

She also teaches cooking classes across the country and in Italy and France and in recent years has fallen in love with Ireland. She and Rob Kendall have been bringing groups of friends to Lismore Castle for a week long exploration of West Waterford and East Cork for several years now. They come here to the Cookery School for a private demonstration and then have fun cooking their dinner with food from the farm and gardens. Many are doctors, dentists, accountants, oil barons, philanthropists who have never cooked before but they love the experience – a change from their day job. They are as excited as kids in a candy shop when they take their first loaf of bread out of the oven and discover they can actually cook 7 or 8 dishes after one session in the kitchen.

They bring it all into the dining room and sit down together with a nice glass of wine to relish the fruits of their labours.
Paula and Rob bring them to visit the English Market where they enjoy a plate of mussels at Pat O’ Connell’s fish stall, washed down with a glass of Murphy’s before heading for St Finbarr’s Cathedral and Joseph Walsh’s furniture studio in Riverstick. They also visit many of the beautiful West Waterford houses that overlook the Blackwater River before coming back to Lismore Castle to enjoy Beth Anne Smith’s delicious food.

Paula fell in love with fresh mozzarella in Italy and decided to bring the art of cheese making home to Texas. Since 1982, her tiny downtown factory in Dallas has made award winning cheeses the old fashioned way. Even though, the Mozzarella Company now produces over 250,000 pounds and a variety of cheeses each year every cheese is still made completely by hand.

Not sure just how she managed it with Paula has also written a book, not surprisingly called “Cheese Glorious Cheese” with some of the most tempting recipes I’ve ever come across for cheese. It’s published by Mozzarella Company; here are a few of the recipes I really enjoyed. Here in Ireland we can use the fresh Irish Mozzarella from Toons Bridge Dairy and Macroom Mozzarella both from Macroom.

HOT TIPS
2016 is Northern Ireland Year of Food and to celebrate Belfast on a Plate, a beautiful new book with contributions from 20 Belfast chefs has just been launched. It is described as “A flavour of the city in recipes and stories” and it’s guaranteed to whet your appetite to make a foodie trip to Belfast, certainly on my list after I recently enjoyed Danni Barry’s food at Glebe Gardens during the Taste of West Cork.
http://www.deaneseipic.com/

Autumn Foraging
Join me for a one day foraging course in search of wild and foraged foods. You’ll be amazed at what can be found even within walking distance. In just one day, you’ll learn how to identify and use over forty wild food plants, flowers, seaweeds and shellfish in season: rosehips, blackberries, watercress, sloes, carrigeen, mussels, sweet chestnuts… and maybe a few edible mushrooms, depending on the weather. Depending on what we’ve gathered, we might make several delicious soups; tasty salads from autumn greens; jellies and jams from berries and fruit; not to mention rosehip syrup, carrigeen moss pudding, fritters and even sloe gin. You will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the course. A walk in the countryside will never be the same again. Where you previously saw weeds, you’ll now see dinner! There are two dates – Friday 30th September or Saturday 1st October. www.cookingisfun.ie

Hands on Lamb Butchery with Philip Dennhardt
Learn how easy it is to butcher your own lamb……In this afternoon class Philip, our resident butcher, will take a whole lamb and demonstrate how to butcher it into your favourite pieces of meat ready for the oven and the freezer. The course includes a 1/2 Lamb which you butcher and then take home to put in your freezer, so make sure there is room…..
You’ll also get a pack of 8 delicious recipes. Friday 30th September, www.cookingisfun.ie

Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Toasts with Anchovy Sauce

Makes ½ cup anchovy sauce

Serves 12 – 20 (makes 40 toasts)

Anchovy Sauce
1 x 2 oz tin anchovies, packed in olive oil
2 fl oz (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons drained capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried Capers
2 tablespoons drained capers
4 fl oz (½ cup) vegetable oil

1 baguette
1 x 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon

First make the anchovy sauce. Combine the anchovies with their oil, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and capers in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Fried Capers. Pat the capers dry and set aside on paper towels. Pour the oil into a small skillet and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the capers and fry until they burst open and are slightly browned and crisp. Be careful when adding the capers to the oil, because the splatter at first. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Position an oven rack 23 inches below the heat source. Preheat the broiler on high.

Using a serrated knife, slice the baguette diagonally at an angle into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast until top of bread is lightly browned; turn the bread over and toasts the other side.

Remove the toasts from the oven but leave them on the baking sheet. Divide the fresh mozzarella among the toasts and return them to the oven. Heat only long enough for the cheese to soften and just begin to melt, about 2 – 3minutes. Remove from the oven and using a spoon drizzle the anchovy sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle the toasts with the fried capers, parsley and lemon zest.

Serve immediately while still warm.
Paula Lambert’s Cheese Glorious Cheese

Paula Lambert’s Gouda Bread Pudding

Serves 8

4 eggs
2 cups milk
4 ozs (110 g/½ cup) crème fraiche or sour cream
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 baguette
2 tablespoons butter
8 ozs (225 g/2 cups) Gouda

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined.

Cut the baguette in half, and then cut it into quarters and finally into 1 inch cubes. Add the bread to the egg mixture and toss to combine. Leave to soak up the liquid for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Generously butter an 8 -10 inch (20.5-25.5 cm) casserole or soufflé dish.

Transfer 1-3 of the soaked bread to the casserole and then sprinkle ¼ of the cheese on top. Repeat layering the bread and cheese until the casserole is filled. You should have 3 or 4 layers of bread and cheese. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese in a thick layer on top.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the bread pudding has puffed up in the centre and the top is crusty and golden brown. Serve hot.

Paula Lambert’s Crab-Avocado Tostadas with Queso Blanco

Serves 8

Salsa Verde
4 small tomatillos
½ avocado
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
½ clove garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
2 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt

Pico de Gallo
½ ripe tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) onion, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Tostados
8 corn tortillas
1 cup corn oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 ozs (175 g) fresh crabmeat
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) minced onion
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) minced jicama
½ cup Salsa Verde
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ozs (3/4 cup) queso blanco, crumbled
Paprika to taste
½ tomato, diced, for garnish
8 sprigs fresh coriander, for garnish

First make the salsa verde. Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and wash the tomatillos with cold water. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp of the avocado skin. Place the tomatillos, avocado, onion, garlic, jalapeno, coriander and lime juice in a blender and process until completely smooth. Add salt to taste. Stir and adjust seasonings if necessary.

For the Pico de Gallo, combine the tomato, jalapeno, onion, coriander, lime juice and salt in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and fry the whole tortillas, turning as necessary until crisp and golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle them with sea salt.

Mix the crabmeat, onion, jimaca and salsa verde together in a small bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Stir and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Preheat the broiler to high.

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, then divide and mound the cheese on top. Transfer to the broiler and place about 3 inches beneath the heat source. Broil until the cheese melts, taking care not to let the tostadas get too brown. Remove from the oven and immediately mound the crabmeat mixture on the cheese.

To serve, garnish each tostada with a dollop of salsa verde and a spoonful of pico de gallo. Place the remaining salsa verde and pico de gallo in small bowls to pass at the table.

Serve the tostadas accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans.

Paula Lambert’s Gingery Pear Cheesecake

Serves 12

Crust
1½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling
3 pears, peeled, cored, cut into quarters
2 cups (16 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (4 oz) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs
11/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Poire William or pear eau de vie brandy, optional

¾ cup (4 oz) candied ginger slices

Lightly butter the sides of a 10 inch by 3 inch (25.5 cm by 8 cm) spring form pan.

For the crust, combine the gingersnap crumbs and the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the gingersnaps resemble cornmeal in texture. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan, about ¼ inch thick, and as far up the sides as possible. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.

For the filling:- cut the pears into large chunks, place in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process to chop finely. Add the cream cheese and crème fraîche or sour cream. Process for about 1 minute until fluffy. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the vanilla and sugar through the tube feed. Add the eggs through the tube one at a time, beating all the while. Add the ginger and finally the Poire William. Turn off the processor and pour the batter into the springform pan on the chilled gingersnap crust. Tap the pan gently on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles.

Place the springform pan on the baking sheet, transfer the baking sheet with the pan on top to the oven and bake for 1 hour to 11/4 hours. The cheesecake should be slightly risen and still have a little liquid in the centre. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon to allow the heat to escape. Leave the cake undisturbed in the oven for about 1 hour. It will finish cooking in the turned off oven. Don’t worry if it cracks.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cake rack to cool for one hour. Once the cake has cooled cut ¼ of the candied ginger into very thin slices to garnish the top of the cake.

Chop the remaining candied ginger into small pieces. Slide the cake onto a serving plate and spread the chopped ginger on the outer sides of the cake, allowing the excess to fall onto the serving plate around the base of the cake. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

To serve, slice the cheesecake with a sharp thin knife dipped in water and dried before each slice.

Serve chilled

Edible Flowers and Fresh Herbs

Edible flowers and of course fresh herbs are an integral part of our simple cooking style. I hadn’t realised what a wide variety we use until recently when I started to compile a list in response to several requests. What started a couple of decades ago with just a few nasturtium flowers scattered over a potato salad has now grown into a long list that keeps being added to.
Scattering gaily coloured flowers over our food to garnish and enhance the flavour may seem like a thoroughly modern trend but in fact using flowers in the kitchen can be traced back to the Roman era and was also part of Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures.

In Victorian times, flower petals were considered particularly cutting edge. In recent years many innovative chefs and home cooks have been having fun adding extra colour and a touch of elegance to their dishes. It’s not just about appearance though; many flowers have considerable nutritional and medicinal value. As well as the nasturtiums, which are high in antioxidants, marigold petals (calendula), cornflowers, thyme, chives, wild garlic, society garlic and all the herb flowers are edible. We particularly love dill and fennel flowers with their liquorice and aniseed flavour are especially good for fish dishes. They add a delicious extra burst of excitement to a salad and make a pretty garnish.

Lavender, is not just for lavender bags and pot pourri. We love the buds in ice creams, syrups and even added to scones. Squash, pumpkin and zucchini are irresistible dipped in a tempura batter and fried until crisp just as they are or stuffed with some tasty morsels.

There are lots of ways to have fun with flowers apart from just scattering them into salads. Add one or several to butters, alone or in combination with fresh herbs to serve with vegetables, meat or fish. Use to flavour teas, punches or vinegars. Infuse in oils and syrups. Sprinkle over pasta or pancakes, add to soups and sandwiches. Candy or crystallise as in violets, rose petals, violas…. Use to decorate cakes and even buns and of course larger flowers can be stuffed and eaten raw or cooked.

Fragrant rose petals impart a wonderful scent to a cake when used to line the tin and of course it’s fun to pop edible flowers into the ice cubes to perk up lemonade and punches – just use your imagination and a measure of restraint….and of course flower petals are wonderful used as an alternative to confetti at weddings.

Before I whip up any more enthusiasm, a few cautionary words. Not all flowers are edible although I keep discovering new ones to add to my list so don‘t take risks until you are absolutely sure.
Avoid flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.

Few, if any florists flowers are organic so harvest from your own flower bed or window sill.

Avoid flowers picked along the edge of a busy road where exhaust fumes and residues collect on plants.

Don’t OTT on flowers, an overdose could cause digestive problems. Here is a list of 60 edible flowers – many you may not have realised are edible. Alyssum flowers, Angelica, Anise hyssop, Apple blossom
Begonias, Borage, Calendula, California Poppies, Camomile,
Carnations, Cauliflower blooms, Chives, Chrysanthemums,
Clary sage, Clover, both white and red blossoms, Cornflowers
Cowslips, Daisy, Dandelions, Daisies, Day Lilies, Dianthus,Dill flowers, Elderflowers, Evening primrose, Fennel, Forget-me-nots
Freezias, Fuschia, Gladolia, Golden rod, Hibiscus, Hollyhock
Honeysuckle, Hyssop impatiens, Jasmine, Johnny jump ups, Lemon flowers, Lilac, Meadowsweet, Orange flowers, Pea flowers not sweet pea, Pansy, Peony, Poppy (corn or Flanders Poppy), Phlox, Primroses
Roses, Snap Dragons, Sunflower, Sweet Woodruff, Scented Geraniums, Scarlet runner bean, Sweet Cecily, Thyme flowers
Tulip flower, not bulbs, Violets, Violas, Yarrow, Zucchini.

HOT TIPS
Fumbally Fun, just love all the energetic young people at the Fumbally, all super passionate about food and determined to share their knowledge, skills and discoveries. Check out the Autumn series of lectures and works shop at www.thefumballystables.ie
Music Brunch at Glebe Gardens, Baltimore
Treat yourself to brunch tomorrow with delicious pastries and bread produced in the Glebe bakery while you relax in the tranquility of Glebe Gardens. Booking Essential Tel: 028 0579

The Kitchen Miracle at Good Things Café, Skibbereen
From Sunday September 18th – Friday 23rd September Carmel Somers will teach a five and a half day demonstration and practical course. You will learn a whole repertoire of starters, main courses and puddings. Not to mention all those little extras that impress people; things like delicious home baked bread, home-made mayonnaise and great cakes, all in five and a half days. The class covers basic techniques that can then be readily adapted. For instance, how to sweat, sauté, pan fry, sear, make a basic soup and tart – skills which are applicable in a wide range of recipes. Essentially, you’ll come away from this course proficient and confident. www.thegoodthingscafe.com Tel: 028 519 48

Snails in Carlow
The Irish Snail Farm in Co Carlow provides Irish grown snails and caviar for both restaurants and people who love Escargots. Snails are high in protein, low in fat and full of flavour. Eat them with lots of garlic butter.
http://www.irishsnailfarm.ie

 

Pangrilled Mackerel with Nasturtium Butter

Serves 4

8 fillets of very fresh mackerel (allow 170g fish for main course, 85g for a starter)
Seasoned flour
Small knob of butter

Nasturtium Butter
55g butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
Nasturtium leaves and lots of nasturtium flowers
Juice of ½ small lemon

Garnish
Nasturtium flowers and little leaves
Segment of lime
Parsley

First make the Nasturtium Butter. Cream the butter, stir in the parsley, roughly chopped nasturtium flowers and leaves, and a few drops of lemon juice at a time. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.
Heat the grill pan. Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with some slices of Nasturtium Butter and a segment of lime.
The butter may be served directly on the fish, or if you have a pretty shell, place it at the side of the plate as a container for the butter. Garnish with nasturtium flowers and tiny leaves, and a segment of lime.

Willowzina’s Super Quick Cake with Rose Petals and Pistachios

Serves 8

175g (6oz/1 1/2 sticks) soft butter
150g (5oz/generous 1/2 cup) castor sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

1 x 20.5cm (8 inch) sandwich tin, buttered and floured. Line the base of the tin with parchment paper.

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

Put the soft butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate and turn into the prepared tin – make a dip in the centre so it rises evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Glacé Icing with Pistachio and Rose Petals
110g (4oz/scant 1 cup) icing sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ozs (50 g) pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon dried or crystallised rose petals

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon rind and enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.
Decorate the cake while the icing is soft and wet. Garnish with chopped pistachios and rose petals.
Crystallized Rose Petals
rose petals (use the petals from fragrant ‘old roses’)
caster sugar
egg white
The caster sugar must be absolutely dry, one could dry it in a low oven for about 30 minutes.
Break up the egg white slightly in a little bowl with a fork. Using a child’s paintbrush, paint the egg white very carefully over each petal and into every crevice. Pour the caster sugar over the flower with a teaspoon. Arrange the crystallized flowers carefully on silicone paper so that they retain a good shape. Leave to dry overnight in a warm, dry place such as close to an Aga, over a radiator or in an airing cupboard. When properly crystallized, these flowers will last for months, even years, provided they are kept dry. We store them in a pottery jar or a tin box.

Lavender Syrup

Delicious over ice-cream or labneh, or as a base for a sparkly aperitif, also good in cakes or over sliced peaches or nectarines in Summer.

Makes 800ml

Lavender flowers gathered just before they open – use 2 heaped tablespoons
600ml water
400- 450g sugar
Very thin strips lemon peel from 1 unwaxed lemon

Put the cold water, sugar and lavender flowers into a saucepan, add a couple of very thin strips of lemon peel. Warm slowly on a medium heat, when the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for about 30 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve. Pour into sterilized bottles, cover and store in a cool dry place or in the fridge if you have space.
Keeps for 3 months.

Marigold Biscuits

The marigold petals flavour and colour in shortbread in a most appealing way.

Makes 25

175g white flour or Spelt
110g butter
40g castor sugar
2 tablespoons of marigold (calendula) petals

Put the flour, sugar and marigold petals into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 7mm thick. Cut into rounds with a 6cm cutter or into heart shapes. Bake in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas Mark 4 to pale brown, 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the biscuits. Remove and cool on a rack.

Serve with fruit fools, compotes and ice creams and sprinkle fresh marigold petals over the top.

Note: Watch these biscuits really carefully in the oven. Because of the high sugar content they burn easily. They should be a pale golden – darker will be more bitter.
However if they are too pale they will be undercooked and doughy. Cool on a wire rack.

Lavender Shortbread

For some reason it has become a tradition in Kinoith to always have shortbread in the Aga! Many years ago when I was attempting to hide the shortbread from the children who seemed to devour it as fast as it was made, I discovered quite by accident that it keeps beautifully for days in the coolest oven of our four door Aga. Now not only the children but all our friends know where to look!

Makes 24-32 depending on size

350g plain white flour
300g butter
110g castor sugar
75g ground rice
good pinch of salt
good pinch of baking powder
2-3 tablespoons dried lavender (unopened lavender flowers)

vanilla or castor sugar for sprinkling

Swiss roll tin 25 x 38cm

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the dried lavender. Cut the butter into cubes and rub in until the whole mixture comes together. (alternatively whizz everything together in the food processor) Spread evenly into the tin, roll flat.

Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in a low oven, 140-150°C/Gas Mark 1-) or bake for 20-30 minutes in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas mark 4. It should be pale golden but fully cooked through. Cut into squares or fingers while still hot. Sprinkle with castor or vanilla sugar and allow to cool in the tin.

Blackberry Picking

I’m wandering along a narrow hilly boreen close to Lough Ine in West Cork. I’m making very slow progress because the tangled brambles in the hedgerows and along the stone walls are covered with blackberries, so tempting – looks like we’re going to have a bumper crop this year. There are also tons of rosehips and the promise of an abundant elderberry crop in a few weeks’ time.

Blackbirds and thrushes are eating so many blackberries at the moment that as I’ve just discovered, their droppings can actually stain clothes on a laundry line…a small price to pay for so much delicious free fruit, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and dietary fibres that are essential for optimum health. Blackberries are particularly rich in Vitamin C with adequate amounts of A, E and K and some B complex vitamins and for those who are concerned about these matters it’s good to know that they are low cal and considered by many to be a super food.

Altogether, enough good things to warrant arranging a blackberry picking expedition. Given half a chance they grow everywhere and anywhere in both urban and rural areas, from city parks and back gardens to country lane and mountain tops.

The sweet succulent berries are super versatile. Don’t just think jam and pies, use them in salads and sauces, autumn puddings, muffins, scones and cobblers, trifles, ice-creams, sorbets, scatter over breakfast cereals, add them to fools, crumbles and crisps. Make some wine, ratafias and cordials. Few fruits offer so many options. Blackberries also freeze brilliantly, if you have time and space, tray freeze first, spread them out on a tray in a single layer, when frozen solid toss into a plastic box or stout bag, cover and freeze immediately in usable quantities – just enough of a batch of jam, a pie, etc…when they are frozen and loose, it’s easy to take out a fistful at a time for a breakfast smoothie.

Cultivated blackberries also are big business with large quantities being flown in daily from North America and other temperate regions. They tend to be larger than the wild ones and unquestionably taste very good but I have to say it makes no kind of sense to me to pile your supermarket trolley high with imported blackberries during the Irish season.

Ironically, I overhead an extraordinary conversation in a supermarket queue just a few days ago. Although there are Irish commercial blackberries available, some customers were bemoaning the price of food and there in one of their trollies were two punnets of blackberries from North America, plus several other items that I seriously would be questioning the need for – none of my business and you’ll be glad to hear that I kept my thoughts severely to myself…..

Hot Tips
Celebrate the Autumn Harvest
Brooklodge and Macreddin Village are celebrating the Autumn Harvest. A delicious 9-course Autumn Harvest Tasting Menu in Ireland’s first certified Organic Restaurant – The Strawberry Tree in Brooklodge. www.brooklodge.com, Tel: 0402 36444

Taste of West Cork Food Festival Event
Dianne Curtin will host the round table ‘show and tell’ The Rare Cookery Books Workshop with a particular focus on Keith Floyd as part of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival.
Saturday 10th September at 4.30pm at Urru Culinary Store, Bandon. Booking is advised. €6 including light refreshment.
Phone: 023 885 4731

Sweet Woodruff
Also called wild baby’s breath can be found lying flat on the ground with strongly scented white petals. The scent increases on wilting and then persists on drying, and the dried plant is used in pot-pourri and as a moth deterrent. It is used mainly to flavour May wine (called “Maibowle” or “Maitrank” in German), sweet juice punch, syrup for beer, jam, ice cream, and herbal tea. Also very popular are flavoured jellies, with and without alcohol.

Meadowsweet
Not to be confused with dropwort, meadowsweet has a heavy fragrance and can be found along marshes, woods and meadows. The plant can be used to flavour wine, beer, and many vinegars. The flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, giving them a subtle almond flavor.

Blackberry Ice Cubes
Pop a fat juicy blackberry into each section of an ice cube tray, add a tiny sweet geranium or mint leaf if you have them to hand. Fill with cold water – freeze. Pop into a glass of dry white wine, homemade lemonade or champagne.

Blackberry or Raspberry and Sweet Geranium Sugar Squares

Another delicious way to use sweet geranium

Makes 24

175g soft butter
150g castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
175g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons freshly chopped sweet or rose geranium
225g blackberries or raspberries

50g castor sugar
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped rose geranium

25.5 x 18 cm Swiss roll tin, well-greased

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour and chopped sweet geranium into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well-buttered tin. Sprinkle the blackberries or raspberries as evenly as possible over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle with caster sugar whizzed with leaves of rose geranium. Serve in squares.

Crème de Mure (Blackberry Liquer)

Makes 2 litres (4 1/2 pints)

This recipe can also be made using blackcurrants in which case the name would change to ‘Crème de Cassis’.

Drink within 6 weeks.

1 1/2kg (3lb 5oz) ripe blackberries
2 litres (3 1/2 pints/8 3/4 cups) red wine
800g (1 3/4lbs/3 1/4 cups) granulated sugar, possibly more to taste
70cl (700ml/1 1/4 pints/generous 3 cups) brandy or vodka (unflavoured)

Pick over the blackberries, carefully removing bits of leaf or twig. Put into a stainless steel bowl.

Crush the fruit well with a potato masher. Pour on the red wine and stir well. Cover and leave to macerate for 48 hours, stirring from time to time.

Strain through a muslin bag into a stainless steel preserving pan. Squeeze the bag well to get the last of the liquid out.

Add the sugar and heat up gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is almost boiling. Simmer uncovered for about an hour until the liquid thickens and turns slightly syrupy. Stir occasionally.

Taste, and add a little more sugar if necessary. Allow to cool.

Add the spirit, stir well and pour into sterilised bottles. Seal and store in a cool place.

Serve well chilled in small glasses or with sparkling water and lots of ice.

 

Myrtle Allen’s Blackberry and Kirsch Soufflé Omelette

Ballymaloe guests loved this soufflé omelette which Myrtle put on the menu just a few times each year, during the blackberry season.

Serves 4

4 egg yolks
450g-680g caster sugar
Vanilla extract
6 egg whites
½ teaspoon butter
170 g soft fruit, blackberries
½ tablespoon kirsch
120 ml whipped cream
23cm non-stick pan

Whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold into the yolks (although I find it easier to fold the yolks into the whites). Heat the butter in a very clean non-stick pan. Pour in the egg mixture and cook over a low heat for 3 minutes. Do not stir. Finish cooking by putting the pan in a hot oven, 200°C/gas mark 6, for a further 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the fruit and 225 g sugar in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from the heat and add the kirsch. Turn the omelette out onto parchment paper generously sprinkled with caster sugar. Spread with warm fruit and whipped cream. Quickly fold in two and slide onto a warm dish. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Rush to the table, it can deflate somewhat within a couple of minutes but still tastes wonderful.

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)
When to Pick: late summer
All over the countryside every year, blackberries rot on the hedgerows. Think of all the wonderful jam that could be made – so full of vitamin C! This year, why not organise a blackberry-picking expedition and take a picnic. You’ll find it’s the greatest fun, and when you come home, one person could make a few scones while someone else is making the jam. The children could be kept out of mischief and gainfully employed drawing and painting homemade jam labels, with personal messages like ‘Amelia Peggy’s Jam – keep off!’, or ‘Grandma’s Blackberry Jam’. Then you can enjoy the results of your labours with a well-earned cup of tea.

Make sure you check the berries before you pop them into your mouth – if the core is discoloured rather than pale and unblemished, it usually means that the little crawly beasties have got there first, so it’s best to discard those. If you have the time and space, it’s really worth ‘tray freezing’ some of your harvest – that way all those little berries stay separate. A few small cartons close to the top of the freezer will come in handy to add to a sauce or gravy to partner a pheasant or a grouse later in the year.

Wild Blackberry, Apple and Rose Geranium Jam

Blackberries are famously low in pectin, so the tart apples help it to set and add extra flavour. Go foraging for blackberries in the early autumn before they’re over-ripe. Cultivated blackberries tend to be sweeter so you may need to reduce the sugar.

Makes about 10 x 450g (1lb) jars

900g (2lb) cooking apples (Bramley, or Grenadier in season) or crab apples
2.25kg (5lb) blackberries
1.8kg (4lb/8 cups) granulated sugar – since Ireland has gone over to cane sugar which appears to be more intensely sweet we reduced the sugar to 1.6kg/3 1/2lb. The intensity of sugar varies in different countries.
8 or more rose geranium leaves (Pelargonium graveolens)

Wash, peel, core and slice the apples. Stew them until soft in 225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) of water in a stainless-steel saucepan, then beat to a pulp.

Pick over the blackberries and put into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan or preserving pan and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the apple pulp and the heated sugar. Destalk and chop the geranium leaves and add. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring to the boil and cook steadily for about 15 minutes. Skim the jam, test it for a set and pot into warm, spotlessly clean jars. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.

Back to School

All the little dotes are back at school by now. Parents are breathing a sigh of relief, relishing a few peaceful hours to relax or to get on with a job that has been put on the long finger for several months but now instead there’s the daily school lunch challenge.

How to fill that box with exciting yet nourishing wholesome food that will be ‘acceptable’ to the kids themselves and not be ridiculed by their peers. Such a minefield – how can food have reached this stage? One ‘catty’ remark from an opionated friend can banish the raw carrots or crunchy radishes from the lunch box for ever.
90 plus % of kids want sandwiches, easy to pack, easy to eat but the quality of the daily bread is crucially important. The quality of most shop bought sliced bread both brown and white is worrying, squishy, doughy, fermented and in some cases under cooked with an interesting list of ingredients that one will certainly not find in the cupboard of any home baker. Believe me, bread is easy to make and it’s so important that the lunch box staple is nourishing of course. It’s best if it’s wholemeal loaf and this one, the recipe I’ve included here is a simple mix, pour and bake job.

However some kids simply won’t eat brown bread so here’s a white yeast bread loaf that’s mixed in minutes, allowed to rise for another quarter hour or so in a loaf tin and then baked in your oven for ? .

It doesn’t rise as high or feel as fluffy as the well-known brands but the flavour and texture will ‘blow your socks off’. It’s real bread made with just four ingredients, flour, salt, yeast and water, rather than a possible 15 that can be included in a commercial sliced pan.

Which brings me to Derval O’Rourke, our very own Cork World Champion. Derval not only knows a thing or two about keeping fit but also knows that winning is all about food. Our energy, vitality, ability to concentrate and perform depends so much on the food we choose to eat. Derval believes that the secret to being your healthiest happiest self is to eat well and keep moving. Derval discovered the importance of nutrition as an elite athlete. After a poor performance in the 2004 Olympics she learned about food, fell in love with cooking – and then won a world title in her sport, hurdling. She believes eating well made all the difference to her form. Now that Derval is retired from athletics and is a busy young mum, her focus is on fitting exercise and healthy, pleasurable eating into a hectic schedule. Derval’s second book, The Fit Foodie, the sequel to her bestselling Food in the Fast Lane has recently been published by Penguin to more critical acclaim.

It’s packed with simple, family recipes, the sort of food you’ll really want to cook and share with your family and friends like Five Minute Muesli, Quinoa Salad with toasted walnuts and blue cheese, Laid back lamb tagine, Fit foodie noodle pots….Trish Deseine’s chocolate fondant cake…I also love Derval’s sweet and chatty style, little nuggets of info and sage advice about everything from how to make a brilliant cup of coffee to her favourite workout or cooking, play lists – well now there’s a new one for a cook book and why not.

The Fit Foodie’s fundamentals at the end of the book is worth the price of the book alone – check it out and thank you Derval – I suspect this book will become a favourite on many people’s kitchen shelf and there are many other great suggestions suitable for lunch boxes.

HOT TIPS

Entertaining with Darina and Rory, Monday 5th September
Darina and her brother Rory O’ Connell will teach a 2½ day cookery course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School starting on Monday 5th September. Their ‘Simply Delicious Christmas’ shows which aired on RTE 1 in 2014 and 2015 were a huge success, and are a flavour of what can be expected on this course. We guarantee plenty of fun and, of course, a little sibling rivalry for good measure!

Long Table Dinner 2016
Ballymaloe Cookery School’s ‘Dinner in the Glasshouse’ is now an annual event, held under the canopy of our extensive glasshouses. Our culinary team dream up an inspiring menu based on seasonal, local, organic ingredients. One of the main purposes of this annual event is to give recognition and exposure to our own growers and also the many Irish artisan food producers, suppliers and chefs who are striving to provide us with the finest quality organic food products. Proceeds from the Glasshouse Dinner goes to Slow Food which helps with the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.
Friday 9th September. www.cookingisfun.ie

Feel Good Food, Let’s Cook with Debbie Shaw
Debbie Shaw is a nutritionist and teacher here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Debbie believes that whole, natural foods have the power to heal, boost energy, vitality, keep us youthful, healthy and happy….. In this 1½ day cookery course, Debbie will teach a wide range of recipes inspired from the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Irish and Asian influences for long term health including raw food, fermentation….www.cookingisfun.ie
Midleton Food Festival, Summer Supper Club at Ballymaloe House
Louise Bannon, ex NOMA chef, will cook a pop up dinner at Ballymaloe House on Monday 5th September.
Cocktails in the Garden at 7pm followed by 3 course dinner with wine at 8pm. Tickets are €65.00, booking essential 021 4652 53.

A Taste of West Cork Food Festival
www.atasteofwestcork.com
Foraging at Turk Head with Madeline McKeever and April Danann on Saturday 10th September at 2pm.
Meet the Producer: – Roaring Water Sea Vegetable Farm on Monday 12th September at 12pm. Peppermint Farm at 2pm.

Our Farms, Our Food, Our Future Forum …discussing the interdependence between modern farming, food production, practices and health…Monday 12th September 3pm at West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen

Mix and Bake Brown Loaf

Even if you never made a loaf in your life, you can make this , just mix and pour into a well-greased tin. This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

400g (14ozs/2 1/2 cups) Macroom stone ground wholemeal flour or a wholemeal flour of your choice
75g (3ozs/3/4 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 egg, preferably free range
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) arachide or sunflower oil, unscented
1 teaspoon honey or treacle
425ml (15fl ozs/scant 2 cups) buttermilk or sourmilk approx.

sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)

Loaf tin 23×12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey and buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approximately, or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Seedy Bread
Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

Note
The quantity of buttermilk can vary depending on thickness. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream to low-fat buttermilk (optional).

Ballymaloe Simple White Yeast Bread (One Rising)

There is no kneading involved in this recipe and only one rising so it is a brilliant introduction to using yeast.

When making yeast bread, remember that yeast is a living organism. In order to grow, it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide which expand in the heat oven the oven and rise the dough.

Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. Heat of over 50˚C will kill yeast.

White or brown sugar, honey, golden syrup, treacle or molasses may be used. Each will give a slightly different flavour to the bread. At Ballymaloe we use treacle for Brown Yeast Bread and honey for this easy White Yeast Bread. The dough rises more rapidly with 15g (1/2oz) fresh yeast.

Different flours produce breads of different textures and flavour. The amount of natural moisture in the flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead – in fact it does not require kneading.

Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.

Makes 1 loaf

450g (1lb) strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
15g (1/2oz) fresh non-GM yeast
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) water at blood heat

sesame seeds – optional

1 x 2lb (900g) loaf tin – well brushed with sunflower oil

In a wide, roomy bowl, mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the honey with the water, and crumble in the yeast.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place, (kitchen temperature fine) to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 3-4 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.

When ready, stir and pour it, into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be just too wet to knead.

Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tin with a good quality sunflower oil. Scoop the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

Just as the bread comes almost to the top of the tin, about 15-20 minutes, (time varies depending on room temperature). Remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for another 40-50 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges.

We usually remove the loaf from the tin about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there’s no need to do this.
Cool on a wire rack.

Note
This bread doesn’t look like a pan-loaf, it will be relatively flat on top.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Five Minute Muesli

Shop bought muesli can be full of sugar and other additives, as well as being overpriced. Take five minutes to make a batch of this muesli instead. It’s delicious served with milk or as a topping for fruit and yoghurt. I love to eat it with whatever fresh berries are in season. When it’s winter, frozen berries are great – just remember to defrost from the night before. The chia seeds and goji berries are super foods that will help to support your immune system. And the oats will keep you full all morning. This muesli stores well in an airtight container for about a week.

Makes 7 big portions

350 g jumbo porridge oats
150 g chia seeds
150 g mixed seeds (pumpkin and sunflower work well)
90 g whole dried goji berries
90 g ground linseed

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer the muesli to an airtight container.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Quinoa Salad with Toasted Nuts and Blue Cheese

Since my fridge is never without a big batch of cooked quinoa, I tend to eat quinoa based salads. I usually have a good stash of toasted nuts in the cupboard too. This means that I always have the basics at hand for interesting and nutritious lunches. Don’t be put off by the blue cheese in this recipe. Even if you think you don’t like it, you might be surprised at how well it complements the other flavours in this superfood salad.

Serves 2

125 g cooked quinoa
Handful of baby spinach
2 tablespoons toasted nuts (almonds, pinenuts, cashews work well)
2 tablespoons seeds (pumpkin and sunflower work well)
25 g blue cheese, crumbled
Handful of blueberries
½ pomegranate, seed only
Handful of mint leaves, chopped

For the dressing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
Juice of ½ lime
Pinch of sea salt

Place the quinoa, spinach, nuts and seeds in a serving bowl and mix well.
Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour this dressing over the quinoa salad and toss well. Crumble over the blue cheese. Scatter over the blueberries, pomegranate seeds and mint. The salad is ready to serve.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Posh Nuts

Posh Nuts are one of my favourite evening treats. Their fiery and delicious and it takes less than 20 minutes to make a batch. You can leave these nuts to cool completely – but if you eat them when they’re still warm from the oven, they really hit the spot!

Serves 2

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup
150 g mixed nuts (Brazil, hazelnuts and pecans work well)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
1 teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt

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

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Stir in the agave syrup. Take the pan off the heat and toss in the nuts. Stir well to coat the nuts evenly. Sprinkle over the rosemary, chilli, salt and stir well. Spread the nuts on a baking tray. Roast for about 12 minutes, turning once. Leave the nuts to cool on the tray or serve them hot straightaway.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Booster Bars

Whether you go for a brisk walk, a jog or full on session at the gym, there’s nothing as tasty as a post workout treat that you’ve made yourself. These bars are particularly good for giving you a boost. The oats are full of fibre rich complex carbohydrates and the nuts are full of protein. These elements combine to keep you fuller for longer. These bars are far more economical than shop bought energy bars and they keep for several days in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to be really organised, you can bake a big batch and then wrap and freeze individual bars. Then just grab a bar from the freezer and bring it in your bag so that you have a health treat for later in the day.

Makes 12 bars

6 ripe bananas, mashed
120 ml agave syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
240 g porridge oats
100 g dried fruit (dates and apricots work well)
60 g ground flaxseed
60 g hazelnuts, chopped
60 g pecans, chopped
60 g pumpkin seeds
60 g sunflower seeds

Line a 33cm x 23 cm metal baking tin with parchment paper so that the paper overlaps the sides. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Use a food processor or whisk to mix the bananas, agave syrup and coconut oil. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking tin and spread out evenly, pressing down with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cook for about 30 minutes. To remove from the tin, take hold of the parchment paper and simply lift out the slab. Cut the slab into bars and store in the fridge or freezer.

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