Ballymaloe Cookery School ‘Pop Up’ Dinner

A student ‘Pop Up’ dinner has become an established tradition on the three month course here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The students who come from all over the world (11 nationalities this time) get together with two of our senior tutors Pam Black and Tracie Daly to plan every single detail of the meal from the theme to designing the menus, décor, table laying……They do all the graphics, cooking, collect the produce…..

Everything is done from ‘scratch’. The theme this Autumn was Wild and Slow – Forgotten Flavours and Foraged Food. The chosen menu which was arrived at after much conjucating, the starter was Roast and parmesan crusted Jerusalem artichokes on Ballymaloe pumpkin puree. Pan seared breast of pheasant and confit of leg. Most of the food came from the farm and garden and local area.

The Jerusalem artichokes were dug from the vegetable field at the greenhouses by several students who on their own admission would scarcely have recognised a digging fork not to speak of knobbly Jerusalem artichokes just a few months ago.

They chose Kuri pumpkins from the selection of 8 or 10 that we grow and magiced these ingredients into a properly impressive cheffy starter.

While the chefs were prepping in the kitchen others were baking a variety of gluten free sourdough and yeast breads. Meanwhile, their friends were busy making handmade butter from the Jersey cream.

Others opted to collect barrel loads of autumn leaves to make into garlands and scatter on the conservatory floor and over the table tops.

The menu design was done by Hermione Hill and Keiko Ebisu from Japan did artwork on the night.

It’s the game season so lots of pheasant for main course. The birds were jointed, the breasts were marinated and the legs made into a light confit with flaky sea salt and fresh herbs.

This was served on a bed of chestnut and caramelised onion stuffing with scallion champ and organic Brussels sprouts which had also been picked in the freezing cold – now they all have the greater appreciation of the farmers who grow sprouts.

Something was needed to compliment the plate so several others went foraging in the orchard and made a Bramley apple, medlar and quince jelly from the autumn bounty.

Next a salad of organic leaves and foraged greens to aid digestion and make room for dessert.

For pudding, Ballyandreen meets Italy…….a carrageen panna cotta light and super delicious served in little glasses with a wild blackberry and lemon verbena compote.

Alongside was coconut macaroon with lime zest and a chunk of almond brittle.

The event was totally oversubscribed and the guests seemed to really relish the experience and convivial atmosphere. So typical of Slow Food events.

Guests were invited to go ‘foraging’ for the petit fours. The garden room had been transformed into‘woodland’ where the petit fours were hidden among the branches. Homemade fudge, chocolate and orange marshmallow, rose geranium jellies, praline dust, chocolate soil, crystallised rose petals and chocolate bark and chunks of homemade honeycomb.

Lots to nibble with freshly brewed coffee and lemon verbena tisane.

There was a resounding round of applause for the entire team before they headed back into the kitchen to tackle the washing up and leave everything ship shape for the next day. All part of the learning curve, but they loved the experience and as the 70+ guests left many asked to be put on the mailing list for the next event.

The event is sponsored by the Ballymaloe Cookery School and the proceeds of the ‘Pop Up’ dinner were donated to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches children in 8 local primary schools how to cook and grow some of their own food.

Roasted and Parmesan Crusted Jerusalem Artichokes with Pumpkin Puree

Lucas Ruault came up with this delicious combination to use the Jerusalem artichokes in season at the moment.

Serves 6-8

16 Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed
150 g parmesan, finely grated
75 g plain flour, well seasoned
2-3 free range eggs, lightly whisked
Olive oil

500 g pumpkin, peeled and roughly diced
175 onions, sliced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced or roughly crushed
125 g salted butter
1 scant tablespoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Splash of cognac and or chardonnay, optional
1 lemon wedge

Watercress

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

First melt 25 g of butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, when it begins to foam, add the sliced onions and garlic. Cook stirring often until the onions are deeply caramelised. This will take some time.

Meanwhile, roast the pumpkin; toss the pumpkin in a little olive oil with a small amount of salt and pepper, arrange on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until tender and soft.

When the onions are caramelised and the pumpkin is tender, transfer to a food processor. Deglaze the saucepan with a little cognac or chardonnay if available. Add to the pumpkin, caramelised onions, with fresh thyme leaves and freshly grated nutmeg and puree.

Allow the mixture to rest until it’s just pleasantly warm and then add the remaining 100 g of butter and puree until smooth and glossy. Taste and season.

The puree can be made one or two days before using, allowing the flavours to meld and mature overnight in the fridge. However it can be used immediately.

Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes under cold water with a brush, dry and cut half of them into 1-2 bite sized wedges. Toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper (and a little chopped rosemary or sage if available). Arrange on a baking tray and roast in a 220°C oven until tender and golden brown.

Peel the rest of the artichokes and cut them into wedges slightly larger than the roasted ones. Blanch them in heavily salted boiling water for 2 minutes or so, or until just cooked through.

Once the boiled artichokes are cooked, plunge them immediately into iced water. Dry them and prepare the oil for frying. Set your deep fryer to 190°C.

Put the seasoned flour, eggs and grated parmesan into 3 separate bowls. Dredge the dried artichokes in flour, dip into the eggs until coated and roll them in the parmesan. Fry them until golden brown, cut in half and sprinkle with sea salt.

Reheat the pumpkin puree in a saucepan, spread onto a plate and arrange an assortment of artichokes on top. Place watercress around, top with left over parmesan and olive oil. Squeeze of lemon.

Andre Longardi’s Pheasant Breast with Red Wine Jus

Serves 8

8 pheasant breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky salt and freshly ground pepper

Season the pheasant with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Preheat a cast iron pan, sear the breasts and place them in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes.

Remove the pheasant and keep warm.

Pheasant Jus

1 bottle of red wine, we use organic wine, La Marouette
½ litre of pheasant or chicken stock, made with the carcass and giblets (not liver)
Cooking juices

Put the wine into a wide stainless steel saucepan over a high heat. Reduce the wine by 2/3, add the stock and reduce by half. Deglaze the cast iron pan with some stock to dissolve the pheasant juices and add it to the wine reduction. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Pheasant Leg Confit
This dish was covered tightly and cooked on top of the stove but one could cook it in the oven at 80°C or until tender and almost melting.

Serves 8

8 pheasant legs
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3½ tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
Enough olive oil to completely submerge the legs

Marinade the legs for at least two hours in the herb and spice mix. Arrange the marinated legs in a large saucepan and cover with enough olive oil to completely submerge the legs. Simmer on the lowest heat possible for about 5 hours. The oil must never bubble up.

Chestnut and Caramelised Onion Stuffing

Serves 8

250 g onions, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
125 cooked chestnuts
2 cloves garlic
100 g streaky bacon, fine lardons
1 tablespoon cognac
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat, add the bacon lardons and cook until the fat runs and the bacon is crisp. Remove to a plate, add the onions and garlic to the pan and continue to cook stirring regularly until the onions are caramelised. Add the brandy and allow to bubble for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the chestnuts, add back in the bacon and the chestnuts, continue to cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To Serve: put a generous tablespoon of chestnut and caramelised onion stuffing on a plate, put a piece of pheasant breast and leg on top. Garnish with a sprig of watercress.

Debbie and Sheila’s Gluten-Free Focaccia with Roast Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic Slivers

20g (3/4oz) fresh yeast (or 10g fast-acting yeast, I use McDougall’s)
2 teaspoons of honey
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of warm water

550g (20oz) of “Bob’s Red Mill” All Purpose gluten-free flour (this is the best brand for this recipe, however you can also use Dove’s Farm plain flour or bread flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
2 beaten free range, organic eggs
3 tablespoons of natural, probiotic yoghurt (natural soya yoghurt for dairy-free option)
300mls (10fl oz/) of lukewarm cow’s/goat’s milk (rice milk or soya milk for dairy-free option)
extra virgin olive oil
8-10 cherry tomatoes, roasted
Maldon sea salt for sprinkling
1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic slivers

First, roast the cherry tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 250°C/400°F/Mark 6.

Lay the cherry tomatoes on the vine on a baking tray. Drizzle with extra virgin oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and roast for 8 – 10 minutes until the tomatoes just burst.
Squash the tomatoes to get rid of excess juice.

Put the yeast, honey and warm water in a small bowl in a warm place for 10-15 minutes.

Sift the flour and xanthan gum into a large bowl and add the salt, vinegar, beaten eggs, yoghurt, milk and yeast mixture, and mix well. Place the dough in a 33 x 23cm (13x 19 inch) brownie tin oiled well with olive oil. Wet your fingers with cold water and make dimples in the dough. Place the roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic slivers in some of the dimples, drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil. Place a clean, damp cloth over the tin and put the tin in a warm place to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours until double in size. The rising depends on how hot the day is and how strong the fresh yeast is, as every batch is different. Sprinkle the top of dough with a little Maldon sea salt and place in the oven gently, not to let the air out. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C/375 °F/Gas Mark 5 for 35 minutes, until it sounds hollow and light.

Rachel Allen’s Carrageen Panna Cotta

A little seaweed that grows all around our coast, we harvest and dry it on local strands including Ballyandreen.

Serves 4–6

8g (1/3oz) carrageen (this fills my semi-closed fist)
400ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cups) double or regular cream
200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) milk
50g (2oz) caster or granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, slightly split

Put a small plate in your freezer.

Put the dry carrageen into a bowl, cover with tepid water and soak for 10 minutes.
Drain, then put the reconstituted carrageen in a saucepan with the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla pod (if using). Don’t add the extract yet. Stir on a medium heat and bring to the boil, then cover, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat. Take the plate out of the freezer and place a small spoonful of the carrageen mixture on it, then pop it back in the freezer for 1 minute. Take out and run your finger through it – it should be set. If it is still runny, place the mixture back on the heat and cook for a further minute before testing again.

Pour the mixture through a sieve (you can wash the vanilla pod and use it again another time) but don’t push the seaweed through the sieve, just the liquid that is clinging to it. Scrape the mixture from under the sieve and, using a whisk, mix it with the drained cream mixture and the vanilla extract (if using). Pour into four or six small bowls or glasses and place in the fridge to set.

Serve with Wild Blackberry Compote

Nancy Lair’s Coconut Macaroons

Nancy’s delicious little coconut macaroons are’ easy peasy’ to make. I’ve reduced the sugar from 2/3 cup to ½ cup and still find them delectable.
Makes 3 dozen approximately

400 g (14oz) flaked coconut
110 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
4 egg whites
½-1 teaspoon almond extract (to taste)
zest of 2 limes

Mix coconut, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in egg whites (not whisked) and almond extract until well blended. Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 325°F/160°C for 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove from baking tray to wire racks. Cool completely. Before serving, zest 2 limes over the top of the cookies. Makes about 3 dozen.

Nancy Lair’s Almond Brittle

This almond brittle is like the best toffee – one could also add some pistachio or hazelnuts but it was greatly enjoyed by everyone as it is.

Makes 10-12 medium sized shards

110 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking soda (Bread Soda)
3 teaspoons salt
125g (4½ oz) butter
550 g (20 oz/2 cups) sugar
180 ml (6 fl oz/) liquid glucose
330 g (12 oz/3 cups) chopped almonds

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Combine sugar, liquid glucose, and water in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture reaches 300°F/149°F on a sugar thermometer. Stir in butter and cook until syrup is golden in color, then add the chopped almonds. Remove from heat and add baking soda, salt, and vanilla to mixture. Quickly pour the mixture onto the baking tray and tap the sheet on the counter (on a tea towel to dampen the noise!). Spread the mixture as much as possible. Allow to set, break into pieces and store in an air tight container.

Anna Tingey’s Ballymaloe Sweet Geranium Pastilles

These sweet geranium flavoured ‘jellies’ were served as a petit four. Anna called them Ballymaloe Delight – they’re all set to become a perennial favourite.

Makes 96 squares

500 g granulated sugar
8 gelatine leaves
1 tablespoon corn flour
300 ml water
Sweet Geranium Syrup – 7 tablespoons

Sweet Geranium Syrup
Makes 825ml (28fl ozs/3 1/2 cups)

350g (12oz/1 1/2 cups) sugar
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) water

Dissolve the sugar in the cold water and bring to the boil. Add 150 g sweet geranium leaves to the sugar syrup and leave to infuse for 20 minutes on a low simmer. Store in the fridge until needed. Strain through a fine sieve.

Next make the Ballymaloe delight. Put the gelatine into a heavy based saucepan and add 300 ml water, leave to ‘sponge’. The gelatine will soak up all the water and become spongy in texture.

Add the granulated sugar and dissolve on a medium heat.

Leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Pour into a lined swiss roll tin (12 x 8 inch), lined with parchment paper and put in a fridge to set, 3 or 4 hours minimum.

Once set, cut into 96 even squares and roll each square in corn flour.

Anna Tingey’s Chocolate and Orange Marshmallows

These also disappeared within minutes.
Makes approximately 100

455g (1lb/2 cups) granulated or caster sugar
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) liquid glucose
9 gelatine leaves or 5 1/2 rounded teaspoons of powdered gelatine
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) orange essence
red food colour paste
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) icing sugar and 4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) cornflour sieved together
Zest of 2 oranges

Line the bottom of a 30 x 20cm (11 x 8 inch) baking tray with parchment paper. Dust with sieved icing sugar and cornflour.

Place sugar, glucose and 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a heavy bottom saucepan. Stir to ensure all of the sugar is wet. Using a pastry brush dipped water, remove any sugar crystals from the side of the saucepan. Place the saucepan on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling do not stir, simply tilt the pot from side to side to ensure the solution heats evenly until it reaches 127°C/260°F. It is important to keep an eye on the temperature using a sugar thermometer.

Meanwhile, rehydrate the gelatine in 140ml (4 3/4fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) water.

When the boiling syrup reaches 110°C/230°F start whipping the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Add the rehydrated gelatine and water into the syrup when it reaches 127°C/260°F and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will foam slightly, this is normal. Pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites and whip on full speed for 5-10 minutes until the marshmallow thickens and the bowl of the mixer is warm to the touch. Turn the speed of the mixer to low and whisk in the rosewater and enough food colour paste to turn the marshmallow baby pink.

Spoon the thick marshmallow mix onto the lined baking tray and smooth with a palette knife. Allow to set (usually takes 2 hours).

Dust the top of the marshmallow with the icing sugar and cornflour mix. Turn out onto a work surface, peel off the paper and cut into cubes. Roll each marshmallow in cocoa powder.