ArchiveSeptember 2017

National Bread Week

National Bread Week is upon us and this gives me another opportunity to extol the importance of good bread and the magic of bread making.

You all know my opinion of the squishy sliced pan and how desperate I am to remind anyone who will listen that YOU, (YES YOU) can make a grand little loaf in the couple of minutes it takes to mix a few ingredients and pour them into a tin. Pop it into the preheated oven and hey presto you’ll have an irresistible loaf of bread in a little over half an hour – you certainly wouldn’t be back from the shops in the time it takes to make and bake a wholesome nourishing loaf that will delight your family, fill your kitchen with the warm aromas of baking plus give yourself a mighty feeling of satisfaction.

I’ve been baking since I was a child and all of my adult life and yet every time I also love the look of satisfaction on a student’s face when they bake their first loaf of bread and suddenly realise they CAN do it.

In fact if I could only teach one thing for the rest of my life, I would choose bread and I would never run out of options.  Think of the numerous types of breads made all over the world. Many, in the most primitive conditions without ovens, cooking simply on a griddle over the open fire or even in the embers as we saw in India. The dough was wrapped in the leaves of the Flame of the Forest tree and gently cooked in the embers of a dried cowpat fire. The leaves were peeled off and the bread was drizzled with ghee and believe me it was so delicious. If that sounds a tat ‘out there’, let’s get back to the kitchen where we have all the mod cons, calibrated ovens and no excuse not to whip up a loaf.

Soda breads are the breads of our country, made in minutes daily in virtually  every kitchen since bread soda (bicarbonate of soda) was introduced in the 1840’s.  It’s an alkali which reacts with the acid in the buttermilk or naturally soured milk if you have your own dairy herd.

Cultured buttermilk is available in virtually every shop in the country but it’s now totally low fat so if you want a beautiful loaf, add a couple of tablespoons of cream or rub in an ounce of butter into flour before you add the liquid.

Increasingly, I now seek out organic flour and flour made from heirloom varieties. Still a bit difficult to source but several small Irish millers are trialling old varieties of wheat and Shipton Mill, Doves and Marriages in the UK offer  a wide variety of ancient grain flours  – Einkorn , Emmer, Khorason, Spelt, Rye… On a recent trip to Denmark, I met Fintan Keenan, an Irish man working with Danish farmers Per and Gitte Grupe on Mordrupegard  who are growing 120 different types of heirloom grains on their farm. He himself is trialling 16, old Irish grains collected from seed banks both here in Ireland and abroad. The Nordic region has a particularly rich tradition and there is indeed a growing interest in these older varieties, now that gluten intolerance seems to have reached an all-time high. Here in the Bread Shed at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we also make a totally natural sour dough which is fermented for at least 48 hours and even longer at the weekend. It’s amazing how many people who cannot digest ‘ordinary’ bread can eat and enjoy these loaves.  A very limited number of loaves are available from the Farm Shop at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and we can do bespoke sourdough bread making courses for small groups on request.  Also check out Real Bread Ireland www.realbreadireland.org

www.cookingisfun.ie

www.instagram.com/timanddarina

http://darinasblog.cookingisfun.ie/

Hot Tips

National Ploughing Championships, 19th-21st September 2017. Plan a skite to Tullamore, Co Offaly, of course for the ploughing competitions but also lots of cookery demonstrations, national brown bread baking competition, junior baker competition……www.npa.ie

Milkwood School in Victoria, Australia teach real skills for down to earth living.  There is a range of courses but the Milkwood Permaculture Design Certificate gives you the skills and knowledge to design and implement fundamental and life-changing resilience into your everyday home, community

There is a 2 week intensive course beginning on October 1st, 2017 that will arm you with the design thinking and skills to create resilient, synergistic systems for living, working and community. www.milkwood.net

ZEROKM at Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow.  Evan Doyle has worked tirelessly to bring us a new exciting Food Project called ZEROKM Dinner. On Thursday October 5th 2017, Evan and his team will cook that evening’s menu using ingredients that come from less than 1 kilometre from the Macreddin kitchens. Tickets are €125 and include a ZEROKM pre reception aperitif, a 12 course ZEROKM  tasting menu with wine and finish with ZEROKM aged cheeses and digestif.  Register your interest by email zerokm@macreddin.ie or through the website www.zerokm.com.

Ballyminane Flour comes from Uncle Aidan’s Authentic Stone Ground Flour which is ground at Ballyminane Mills, an authentic water mill located in Ballindaggin, Co. Wexford.

Telephone: (087) 6837789   Website: www.ballyminanemills.com

White Soda Bread and Scones

 Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30 – 40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my ‘great convertibles’. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses.  It’s also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

 

1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon breadsoda

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-14fl oz (350-400ml/1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups) approx.

First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.  Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface.  WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS.  Tidy it up and flip over gently.  Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

 

Cheddar Cheese Soda Bread

Egg wash the surface of the bread, mark into 6-8 wedges.  Scatter with 4oz (110g) grated cheddar cheese and bake as above.

White Soda Scones

Make the dough as above but flatten the dough into a round 1 inch (2.5cm) deep approx. Cut into scones. Cook for 20 minutes approx. in a hot oven (see above).

 

Basic Brown Soda Bread

This is a more modern version of Soda Bread, couldn’t be simpler, 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) Ballyminane 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) OR 3 small loaf tins 5.75 inches (14.6cm) x 3 inches (7.62cm)

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 (45-50 minutes for small loaf tins), 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: Ballyminane flour comes from Uncle Aidan’s Authentic Stone Ground Flour which is ground at Ballyminane Mills, an authentic water mill located in Ballindaggin, Co. Wexford.

Telephone: (087) 6837789

Website: www.ballyminanemills.com

Note

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

 

Yufka – Turkish Flatbread

Bread is a staple in Turkey as in so many cultures.  According to the Koran, bread was sent to earth by God’s command, hence it is revered and not a crumb should be wasted.  There are many delicious ways to use up stale bread but I rarely have any over to experiment with.

Makes 8

110g (4oz/1 cup) strong white flour

110g (4oz/1 cup) plain white flour

50g (2oz/1/2 cup) wholemeal flour

1 scant teaspoon salt

200-225ml (7-8 fl oz/1 cup) warm water

Mix all the flours and the salt together in a bowl, add the warm water, mix to a dough and knead well for just a few minutes.  Shape into a roll, divide in 8 pieces, cover and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes – 45 would be better (however I sometimes cook it straight away).

Roll each piece of dough into a thin round, no more than 8mm (1/3 inch) in thickness.

Heat a griddle or large iron or non-stick frying pan.   Cook the Yufka quickly on both sides until just spotted.  Eat immediately or alternatively the Yufka can be stacked for several days, even weeks, in a dry place.

To reheat.

Before eating, sprinkle a Yufka with warm water, fold it in half, wrap it in a cloth and allow to soften for about 30 minutes.  Eat with cheese or butter and honey or fill with a chosen filling of roasted vegetables, cured meat, and salads.  They are then called dűrűm meaning ‘roll’.

Chapatis

9 ozs (250g/scant 2 cups) sieved wheatmeal flour plus extra for dusting

6 fl ozs (175ml/3/4 cup) water

Makes about 15

Put the flour in a bowl.  Slowly add the water, gathering the flour together as you do so, to form a soft dough.  Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until it is smooth.  Put the dough in a bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave for half an hour.

Set an Indian tava or any other cast iron frying pan to heat over a medium-low flame for 10 minutes.  When it is very hot, turn the heat to low.

Knead the dough again and divide it, roughly, into 15 parts.  It will be fairly sticky, so rub your hands with a little flour when handling it.

Take one part of the dough and form a ball.  Flour your work surface generously and roll the ball in it.  Press down on the ball to make a patty.  Now roll this patty out, dusting it very frequently with flour, until it is about 5½ inches (14 cm) in diameter.  Pick up this chapati and pat it between your hands to shake off extra flour and then slap it on to the hot tava or frying pan.  Let it cook on low heat for about a minute.  Its underside should develop white spots.  Turn the chapati over (I use my hands to do this but you could use a pair of tongs) and cook for about half a minute on the second side.  Take the pan off the stove and put the chapati directly on top of the low flame.  It should puff up in seconds.

Turn the chapati over and let the second side sit on the flame for a few seconds.  Put the chapati in a deep plate lined with a large napkin.  Fold the napkin over the chapati.  Make all chapatis this way.

Ideally, chapatis should be eaten as soon as they are made.  But if you wish to eat them later, wrap the whole stack in aluminium foil and either refrigerate for a day or freeze.  The chapatis may be reheated, still wrapped in foil, in a gas mark 7, 220ºC/425ºF oven for 15-20 minutes.

From Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread with Rye

When making Ballymaloe brown 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 causes the bread to rise. Heat of over 50˚C will kill yeast. Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. 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. The dough rises more rapidly with 30g (1oz) yeast than with 25g (3/4oz) yeast.

We use a stone ground wholemeal. 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. The main ingredients – wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast are highly nutritious.

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

 

400g (14oz/3 1/2 cups) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz/1/2 cup) rye flour

425ml (15floz/ scant 2 cups) water at blood heat

1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses

1 teaspoon salt

20g – 30g (3/4oz – 1oz) fresh non-GM yeast

sesame seeds – optional

1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8inch) approx.

sunflower oil

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

Mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 150ml (5floz/generous 1/2 cup) for 1 loaf and crumble in the yeast.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4 or 5 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.

When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water (10fl ozs/300ml), into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead.   Allow to sit in the bowl for 7-10 minutes (time varies depending on room temperature).   Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tins with a good 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. Just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, 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.

Griddle Bread

This recipe is especially worth noting for students or those whose kitchens don’t have an oven, because all you need is a griddle or frying pan and a single gas ring. I’ve made this bread successfully in a campervan in New Zealand and on a riverbank in Spain. Serve warm, cut into pie-shaped pieces, with butter and jam, cheese, crispy bacon or cured meats. Serves 4–8

 

225g (8oz) plain white flour

1⁄2 level teaspoon salt

1⁄2 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

175ml (6fl oz) buttermilk

non-stick griddle or iron frying pan 25.5cm (10in) diameter

 

Preheat the griddle or a non-stick pan on a low heat. Sieve the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Pour in most of the buttermilk. Using one hand mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be softish, and not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board and knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up.

Roll the bread into a round about 2.5cm (1in) thick. Put onto a hot griddle and cook on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes on one side. When it has a nice firm crust, turn it over and continue to cook on the other side for a further 15 minutes, until nicely browned and cooked through.

Indian Paratha Bread

Makes 16

These roughly triangular breads get eaten all over India. Easy to make at home, all you need is a cast iron frying pan. In India ghee is used instead of oil.

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) sieved wholemeal flour (weigh the flour after sieving, add the bran to the remainder in the bag)

185g (6 1/2oz/1 1/2 cups) plain flour plus some extra for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vegetable oil or clarified butter

200ml (7fl oz/1 cup) water

oil for frying and brushing

 

Put the wholemeal, white flour and salt into a bowl.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of oil over the top.  Rub the oil in with your fingertips. The mixture will resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water and gradually mix them together to form a softish ball of dough.

Knead on a clean work surface for about 10 minutes. Rub the ball with dough with a little oil put into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron frying pan on a medium-low flame. Knead the dough again, shape into a roll and cut into 16 equal pieces.

Keep 15 pieces covered while you work with the 16th.  Flatten this ball and dust with a little plain flour.  Roll out, into a 15cm (6inch) round. Brush a little oil over the surface of the paratha, fold in half. Brush again with oil, then fold again to form a triangle.  Roll this triangle towards the point into a larger triangle with 18cm (7inch) sides approx.  Dust with flour if necessary.

Heat a frying pan (preferably iron) really hot and slap the paratha onto it.  Let the paratha cook for a minute or so. Brush the top generously with oil. Turn over and cook the second side for a minute or so.  Both sides should have brownish spots.  Move the paratha around as you cook so all ends are exposed evenly to the heat.

Keep warm in a tea towel or on a covered plate.  Cook all the parathas in the same way. Serve warm.

Paratha’s may be reheated wrapped in tin foil in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 – they take 5-10 minutes.

School Lunch Box Suggestion

Egg and Scallion Mayonnaise in a Bap or Bla

2 baps or blas

2 hard-boiled eggs , cook for 9-10 mins.

2-3 tablespoons chopped spring onions

Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise

4 leaves Butterhead lettuce

 

Peel and coarsely mash the hard-boiled eggs with a fork.  Add the chopped spring onion and mayonnaise.  Season well with flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Split a bap, lay a leaf of lettuce on each buttered side.  Divide the mixture between each bap.  Top and wrap in parchment paper.

Alternatively, fill the egg mixture into a bowl or container, cover, accompany with a split and buttered bap and assemble just before eating.  Include a couple of radishes or cherry tomatoes in the box….

A little smoked fish, mackerel or a tiny dice of smoked salmon add extra flavour and nourishment here.

 

School Lunches

What a crazy busy week it has been for the mums (and dads) of Ireland who have been dashing around trying to get the kids organised for the big back to school adventure, a mixture of emotions…. For those whose littles dotes are going to school for the very first time, the whole experience is a major jolt for both the parents and child. For those with older children, it’s often a mixture of ‘glad and sorry’.  Back to the predictable routine of the school term has its advantages but then there’s the challenge of school lunches and the ever growing pressure to come up with healthy wholesome nourishing delicious food that they will actually eat rather than swapping with a classmate for a coke or junky bar.   Even more importantly food that’s cool but doesn’t make them appear nerdy….

Unquestionably school lunches have come a long way since a slice of Easy Singles in squishy sliced pan was the norm and tempting as it may be try to avoid that processed ham too.  I continue to check in with my grandchildren and their friends to find out about current trends and comforting favourites.

Without getting too technical about it, growing children need lots of variety – protein, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins, minerals and iron.  Boys particularly have an enormous appetites. The more biodiversity in their diet, the healthier their gut, flora and the brighter they’ll be……lots and lots of research is linking a healthy gut with our mental health and overall well-being.

Fingers of cheddar, carrot, cucumber, wedges of watermelon, apple, orange, nectarines….  Irish pears are in season now as are plums.  Fruit, particularly chemical free fruit, is expensive I know but so is a visit to your overworked GP so let’s focus on making sure every bit of food they eat is ‘medicine’.  As my mother regularly reminded us, if you don’t put the money and effort into putting pure nourishing food on the table, you’ll give it to the doctor or the chemist…..

Many children have become much more adventurous in their eating habits, their tastes are more eclectic and they tend to also enjoy spicy and robustly flavoured food.  Here are just a few ideas to whet their appetites but I’ve also decided to include one lunch box recipe in my column ever week between now and Christmas and I’d love your feedback.

Let’s begin by thinking beyond the standard sliced pan (my views on that are already well known).  A little loaf of soda bread, either brown or white could be mixed by a five year old, poured into a tin and baked but there’s a range of flat breads, tortillas and pittas on the shelves of virtually every shop to use for wraps, burritos, tacos, quesadillas and tostados.  Rolls and baps of every shape and form.  Try to find artisan bread, Arbutus Bakery now sell their extensive range of breads not just at a variety of Farmers Markets and small shops around Cork and county but are far away as Dublin.

A few ideas…..

Hoagies can be both veggie and non-veggie, Bowl food is all the rage, Invest in a bowl with a clip on lid, rice, bean, lentil or noddle bowls are super versatile and can include all the food groups.  Tacos are so hot now – a different filling for every day of the week.  Once you’ve made your first batch, sushi, particularly the cling film sushi or nori maki rolls are a doddle to make – tasty, nutritious and inexpensive.  A simple egg, mayo and chive or scallion salad is always a favourite and eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients.

So here are a few suggestions to get started.  Run them by your children and choose the ones that appeal.  Add some homemade lemonade or better still get them started on kombucha or water kefir.

A little White Soda Bread Loaf

You can make white soda bread in the round traditional way or like this in a loaf tin which is more convenient for slicing or sandwiches

450g (1lb) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon breadsoda

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 425ml (15fl oz) approx

oatmeal, sesame seeds or kibbled wheat (optional)

 

1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5×8 inch) approx.

Sunflower oil to brush the sides and base of the tin

 

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.  Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured worked surface.  Scoop it into the oiled tin, sprinkle with oatmeal and sesame or kibbled wheat seeds if you enjoy them. Place in the hot oven immediately turning down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes. Remove from the tin and return the bread to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked.  If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

 

Italian Hoagies

A hoagie is also known in the US as a sub (submarine sandwich) a torpedo, a hero, a grinder or Italian sandwich.  It’s basically a long roll filled with a variety of cooked or cured meats, cheese, vegetables and sauces or relishes.  If pickled vegetables don’t appeal, then egg mayonnaise and chopped scallions or chives and maybe a few slices of beef tomato or cucumber would also hit the spot nicely, either way season it well.
Makes 2
7-8 tablespoons giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables – see recipe)

2 soft sub rolls, split lengthwise

2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (see article Saturday, 4th June 2016)

2 large ripe tomatoes

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons approx, crisp lettuce, shredded

extra virgin olive oil

 

Chop the giardiniera and mix with the mayonnaise in a bowl.

To Assemble

Split the rolls lengthwise.  Spread a layer of the giardiniera mixture evenly over the base of each roll.  Top with a layer of thick juicy tomato slices.  Season with flaky salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.  Lay an even layer of shredded iceberg or little gem lettuce on top and sprinkle on a little of the giardiniera pickle juice and a drizzle of olive oil.  Press the other half piece of bread on top, tie with a piece of raffia – wrap tightly in parchment paper.

Giardiniera

Makes 2 medium Kilner jars

 

140g (scant 5oz) dairy salt

cold water to cover

1 celery stalk, diced into 7mm (1/3 inch)

1 cup of tiny cauliflower florets

1 cup carrot, and diced into 7mm (1/3 inch)

1 red or green pepper, seeded and diced into 7mm (1/3 inch)

75g (3oz) green olives, stoned, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, chopped

2-4 jalapeno peppers (seeded and thinly sliced) OR1 teaspoon chilli flakes

225ml (8fl oz) white wine vinegar

225ml (8fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Day 1

Dissolve the salt in the water, add the diced celery, carrots, tiny cauliflower florets, pepper, olives and thinly sliced fresh chilli if using.  The vegetables should be covered in the brine.   Cover and refrigerate overnight.

 

Day 2

Drain and rinse the vegetables in cold water and drain again.  Mix the oil and vinegar with the chilli flakes (if using), marjoram and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer the vegetables into 1 or 2 sterilised Kilner jars.  Cover with the pickling liquid.  Allow to marinade at least overnight but the giardiniera will keep for weeks and get better and better.

Note – a cup measure equals 225ml (8fl oz)

A Rice Bowl with Avocado, Radishes, Spring Onions, toasted Almonds and Flat Parsley

This is a delicious combination but just a suggestion, the base can be well seasoned egg or rice noodles, lentils, beans, quinoa, orso , freekah depending on taste and the toppings a combination of what s in the fridge and in season

 

Makes 2
2 cups cooked Basmati or Jasmine rice

 

Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

1 ripe avocado

4 radishes, sliced thinly

2 slim spring onions, thinly sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon toasted almonds or hazelnuts, halved or coarsely chopped

50g (2oz) cooked meat (optional)

flat parsley sprigs and a few tarragon leaves if available

 

Sprinkle the dressing over the rice, toss, taste and divide between two bowls. It should taste highly seasoned. Top with diced cold beef, lamb or chicken, or cooked or smoked fish, if using.

 

Then peel, half and slice the avocado, arrange on top of the bowls.  Sprinkle with the sliced radish, spring onion and meat or fish if it’s included. Drizzle with a little more dressing.  Scatter with toasted nuts, flat parsley and tarragon sprigs.  Taste and correct the seasoning, cover and keep cool until ready to eat.

Sweet Potato Wedges
Serves 4

 

2 sweet potatoes (approximately 450g/1lb in weight) (orange fleshed, if possible)

2 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut them into quarters, put into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and turn into a roasting tin.   Bake for 10-15 * or until just tender turning once until completely tender and lightly golden.

 

Yoghurt and Ballymaloe Relish Dip

To make a dip, mix some thick natural yoghurt with Ballymaloe relish and a little chopped parsley to dip wedges into – delicious!

 

Peanut Butter, Bacon and Banana Burrito

Sounds like an odd combination but it’s delicious and also nutritious.

 

Makes 1

 

1 wrap or flour tortilla

2-3 tablespoons organic peanut butter

2 crisp streaky rashers

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped, optional

a little honey

1 banana

 

Spread peanut butter over the tortilla.  Scatter with slivers of crisp streaky rashers and a little chopped parsley if you like. Drizzle with a little honey.  Peel a banana and lay on one side.  Tuck in the edges and tightly roll into a wrap.  Eat soon.  Alternatively, roll the wrap up loosely but peel and add banana just before eating.

 

Favourite London Eating Places

A reader texted me recently to ask for my ‘London List’. Another asked “Any chance you’d do another piece on your favourite London eating places”. I realised that its quite some time since I devoted a column to my new finds. We’re so fortunate to be so close to London – a mere 50 minutes hassle free hop from Cork or Dublin.

For those of us who are connected to the restaurant scene it’s a big bonus to be so close to one of the most exciting food capitals in the entire world. I pop backwards and forwards regularly for meetings and events so I use each of these opportunities to try out new places. Hence I’m regularly asked for my list of favourite cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars.

One of my most unexpected discoveries is called The Other Naughty Piglet. The name is super cute, not normally a good sign and then there’s the location, right in the centre of the Theatre District. The restaurant is upstairs above the lobby in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Palace Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue in The City of Westminster.  While I was climbing the grim, blingy marble staircase I was convinced that what lay ahead would be disappointing. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The original, Naughty Piglet, co-owned by Joe and  Margaux Aubry Sharratt  is a Brixton hotspot that serves seasonal and creative small plates alongside a great list of natural wines. It ticks all my boxes and  I particularly remember a Datterini tomato salad with frosted feta, micro greens and togarashi.  The latter is a Japanese condiment also known as Shichimi made up of seven spices. A typical blend might contain red chilli pepper flakes, Japanese peppers, roast orange peel, both black and white sesame seeds, hemp  and poppy seed, ground ginger and nori seaweed. If you haven’t already got it in your cupboard look out for it next time you go shopping.  You’ll find yourself reaching for it regularly to add oomph to grilled meats and seafood, noodles, salad dishes and even soups. At The Other Naughty Piglet, the chef sprinkled it over the tomato salad but the other bit of magic was the frozen feta grated on, at the last minute, altogether a delicious combination.  Burratta with chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream, crumbled honey comb and salted caramel were also particularly good. Pop this place on your London list and also check out Over Under Coffee in 181A Earls Court Road, a local community focused café that serves exceptional coffee and nutritious, simple and delicious food. Over Under Coffee are getting ready to open a second branch in October in the Ham Yard in Soho. Check out the breakfast sandwiches and avocado toast.

Bao started life in Netil Market close to the Broadway Market in Hackney serving fluffy white steamed buns filled with braised pork, sprinkled with peanut powder – you can’t imagine how delicious this Twainese street food tastes, always a long queue for Londons’ equivalent of David Chang’s Korean version of Momofuko which became a cult food item in New York.

It’s not that easy for market traders to make the transition from street stall to bricks and mortar. They often lack the staffing and accounting skills. The founders teamed up with Trishna and Gymkhana  (also add to your list) to launch the new establishment at 53 Lexington Street in Soho – can’t book but brave the queue and it can be an hour long but it’s worth it…..

In Shoreditch, out in Hackney, in East London there are several gems. Pidgin has been making waves serving a four course menu that changes every week, all the best places have an interesting natural wine list.

Many of the most exciting new restaurants are tiny – sometimes as few as 5 or 6 tables, owned by eager young chefs and cooks who are still fizzing with  enthusiasm and hungry for success. These are the ones I seek out but I often lose interest when I hear they have opened their third or fourth place.  Some succeed in keeping up the standard but they are few and far between. So you’ll need to travel out into the less gentrified suburbs where rents are lower to find the rising starts, check out Som Saa, Oklava, Kiln and Clipstone and another of my absolute favourites Padella.

Check out Legs– a tiny neighbourhood wine bar in Hackney, open just for dinner (and lunch on Saturday and Sunday) as I discovered after I’d schlepped the whole way out for lunch – simple beautiful British food, small plates, worth a detour and there’s more…..

Hot Tips
Ballymaloe Garden Festival
Get Gardening and Seed Saving

Don’t miss the Garden Festival at Ballymaloe from 2nd and 3rd September 2017. There will be a variety of talks, demonstrations, entertainment and shopping offers a bumper crop for garden lovers, seasoned experts, late bloomers, families and foodies. Entry fee is €8 and children under 12, go free.

FEAST Supper with Rory O’Connell at Ballymaloe House
Thursday 7 September – €75 pp
Rory O’Connell is hosting a special 4 course seasonal supper at Ballymaloe House as part of FEAST: Midleton Food & Drink Festival 2017. The evening will start with a cocktail designed by Irish award winning mixologist Andy Ferreria served in the Ballymaloe walled garden.
http://www.ballymaloe.ie/blog-item/seasonal-cocktail-feast-ballymaloe-house

Taste of West Cork Festival
Don’t forget the Taste of West Cork Festival from 8th-17th September 2017. Check out Guest Chef Danni Barry from EIPIC in Belfast. Danni will cook dinner using the freshest and most seasonal produce at Glebe Gardens in Baltimore on Monday 11th September. €70 including wine pairings. Booking Essential. Tel: 028 20579.

Pilgrims Restaurant and Doswell Gallery join forces….begin the night with aperitifs, drinks and art at Doswell Gallery, then move to Pilgrims Restaurant for a five course tasting menu. Thursday 14th September. Tel: 023 8831796, booking essential.

A Date for your Diary:- Guest Chef Gillian Hegarty, past student and teacher at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and most recently Head Chef at Ballymaloe House will host a demonstration at Fernhill House, Clonakilty on how to prepare and use fresh herbs in canapés and cocktails. There will be a three course seasonal menu (waiting to find out if Gillian is involved with the dinner). Thursday 14th September, 023 8833258, booking essential

Home Butchery, Charcuterie and Sausage Making Demonstration with Philip Dennhardt
There’s a growing interest among chefs and enthusiastic amateurs for home-curing and sausage-making , a subject we’ve become more and more absorbed by in the past few years as we continue to learn and explore the rich traditions of many countries including – France, Spain , Italy, Germany, Poland …..During this one day course you will learn how to butcher a side of pork from nose to tail, identify the cuts and learn about the technique involved to dry, curing…. and learn how to make four different types of sausage and salami, chorizo, frankfurters, beerfest sausages, brawn………taste and enjoy
Saturday September 9th 2017, 9.30am-5pm, www.cookingisfun.ie

Labneh with melted red peppers, garlic, anchovy and sumac

Serves 4

8 tablespoons labneh
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tabs extra virgin olive oil garlic
2 large organic red peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
4-6 anchovies,
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A fistful of fresh mint leaves,
Sumac

Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan, add the sliced garlic, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sliced peppers, season with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir to coat, cover and cook on a gentle heat until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste, correct seasoning and transfer to a bowl. Fold in the halved and quartered anchovies if using,
To serve, Spoon two dollops of labneh into the centre of a medium sized plate to form a high mound, spoon a generous helping of the pepper mixture on top, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves and a generous dusting of sumac on top. Serve with grilled or fresh sourdough or a flatbread.

Datterini tomatoes with frosted feta, micro greens and torgorashi

A fresh and delicious inspired by a small plate I enjoyed at The other naughty piglet in London.

Serves 4

30 ripe but firm Datterini or other sweet cherry tomatoes,
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4ozs Feta cheese, frozen.
Extra virgin olive oil
Gorashi.
Micro greens, both green and red,

Slice the tomatoes in half, both ways. Season with flakey sea salt and freshly cracked pepper,
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice, toss gently. taste and add a little sugar or honey if necessary. Arrange a little mound of tomatoes on a plate. Grate some frozen feta over the top, add a sprinkling of gorashi and top with some snipped micro greens. Serve ASAP.

Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream with Crumbled Honeycomb

Vanilla Ice Cream (see recipe that appeared on Saturday August 19th or on the website http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/foodanddrink/darina-allen-homemade-frozen-treats-457305.html

Chocolate Ice Cream, see recipe

4 tablespoons sugar
8fl oz (225ml) water
4 free range-egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints (1.1L) whipped cream
4oz (110g) plain chocolate
2oz (50g) unsweetened chocolate

Honeycomb
Makes about 500 g (1lb 2oz)

85g (3 1/4oz) Duchy (or good quality local) honey
180g (6 1/4oz) liquid glucose
400g (14oz/1 3/4 cups) castor sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
15g (3/4oz) bicarbonate of soda

1 Swiss roll tin – 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch)
parchment paper or silpat mat

First make the ice cream. Dissolve the sugar in the water, bring slowly to the boil and simmer until the syrup reaches the ‘thread stage’ (it will look thick and syrupy and when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops will form thin threads). Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks until white and fluffy, when the syrup is at the correct stage pour the boiling syrup gradually onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until the mixture is a thick white mousse – add the vanilla extract. Melt the two kinds of chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or in a very low oven. Cool slightly, add some of the mousse from one bowl to the chocolate and stir quickly, add more and then mix the two mixtures thoroughly, fold in the softly whipped cream. Pour into chocolate cases. Cover and freeze.

Next make the honeycomb. First loosen the honey and glucose syrup by dipping their containers in warm water, then weigh out into your saucepan. Then add the sugar and water and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually raise the temperature of the pan’s contents to 150°C (300°F).

Carefully sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the pan. The contents will fizz up like lava from the underworld, but don’t be alarmed, this is what puts the tiny air bubbles into the honeycomb. Stir the mixture to make sure all the powder is incorporated, then pour it out onto your silicone sheet (or baking tray). Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.
To serve:- remove the ice creams from the freezer at least 30 minutes ahead. Scoop out a quenelle of vanilla and another of chocolate ice cream and arrange side by side on a chilled plate. Crumble the honey comb over the top and serve immediately. Continue with the remainder of the plates.

 

Inis Meain Suites

Every now and then there’s a moment, a milestone which can indicate the end of an era…
For me a recent experience in a West Cork village was just that. I popped into the shop to buy a carton of buttermilk to make a loaf of soda bread, I searched the shelves to no avail and when I inquired at the till the lovely lady told me whimsically, “ah sure, there’s ‘no call’ for that, sure no one around here bakes a ‘cake of bread’ any longer.” It was just a small thing but I was always reassured by the presence of buttermilk in local shops, an indication that the tradition of baking a loaf of soda bread was alive and well in the parish. It’s a long time since one could buy an entire sack of flour in a village shop but it’s still possible in the one and only shop on Inis Meáin which hopefully indicates a rich baking tradition among the islanders. We certainly enjoyed Marie-Thérèse De Blacam’s  delicious brown soda bread at Inis Meáin Suites on a recent visit.
The food in the little restaurant there is pure and delicious, home grown vegetables, herbs and flowers from the garden, a taste of the produce of the island and the local coastline. The Inis Meáin Suites are booked up almost a year ahead but the good news is that the restaurant is now open to non-residents from Wednesday to Saturday. (www.inismeain.com ) Some of the stand out dishes on the menu during our recent stay were mackerel carpaccio with an Asian dressing, thinly sliced raw mackerel caught a few hours earlier in the crystal clear waters off the coast – utterly sublime. I can’t understand why we don’t see more fish crudo on our restaurant menus. The squid with black squid ink mayonnaise was also super delicious, as was the beetroot salad served three way and a plump tender lobster claw with aioli and rocket leaves. All simple, elemental cooking made with superb fresh produce – no foams, gels or skid marks on the plate – just beautiful fresh flavours and simple presentations, a breath of fresh air.
Well, back to bread, many of you already know how to bake but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you how easy it is to make a loaf of soda bread, made in minutes and out of the oven in little more than 30 minutes. So next time when you need bread, just turn on the oven. You wouldn’t have found your car keys and be back from the shops by the time its baked and cooling on a wire rack, filling your kitchen with the irresistible smell of crusty homemade bread that you can guarantee will nourish your family. I include treacle bread and white soda bread for you to try.

Hot Tips
Want to take the mystery out of cooking Seafood. Due to popular demand the seafood course for seafood lovers by covering all the basics: how to recognize really fresh fish, scaling, filleting, skinning, general preparation….
Using a variety of eclectic recipes we demonstrate how many of the best fish dishes can be cooked literally in minutes. Simple pan-grilling is an essential technique, while poaching, baking, deep-frying, steaming, salting and pickling all enhance the flavour. Sauces, salsas and flavoured butters, which subtly complement the fresh taste of fish, are an integral part of this course.
There are two practical sessions, which means you’ll have an opportunity to test out some of the recipes you have learned. Incidentally, the fish you’ll be using is really fresh. We buy from the boats at nearby Ballycotton Harbour as well as from Kenmare Bay. Whether cooking family meals or entertaining at home, this course will get you hooked on fish!
September 6th – 8th 2017, www.cookingisfun.ie
Indian Summer Supper Club at O’ Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook. If you are on a skite in Dublin today make sure you check out O’ Connell’s Restaurant. Alison O Reilly, Masterchef 2017 contestant has put together a 4 course menu inspired by fresh flavours and vibrant colours from the East. Dinner is €55 per person and include a raspberry and mint prosecco on arrival. Phone 01 269 6116 or follow the link for more information. http://oconnellsrestaurant.com/indian-summer/

Electric Picnic from 1st-3rd September 2017 in Stradbally, Co Laois.
Don’t miss Theatre of Food. Join the most talented food lovers in Ireland get all funky, all weekend long. From Assassination Custard to Rosanna Davison, from Finn Ní Fhaoláin to Fintan O’Toole, from drum supremo Ralph Rolle to sushi supremo Takashi Miyazaki, Theatre of Food presents a mind-expanding, mind-altering concept of what Irish food is all about. It’s all about fun, fantastic food and drool some drinks. Come along and meet Ballymaloe’s Rory O’Connell. Let April Danann of Rebel Foods and Dearbhla Reynolds of The Cultured Club expand your consciousness with their bubbling ferments. There will be music, there will be dancing and speed tasting of great wines of the world with Pascal Rossignol and Beverley Matthews of L’Atitude 51. Paul Flynn from The Tannery will be celebrating 20 years of Waterford’s most iconic restaurant, whilst Ivan Varian and Jonathan McCrea will show you once again just how strange the science of food can be…….lots lots more. www.electricpicnic.ie

Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites
Cáca Treacle (Treacle Bread)
Makes 2 x 1lb loaf tins
This is an adaptation of  Marie-Thérèse mother’s recipe.

160g self raising flour
320g wholemeal flour
40g wheatbran
40g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower & linseed)
half teaspoon bread soda
pinch salt
1 egg
400ml buttermilk
1 dessertspoon treacle

Preheat oven to 210 degrees celcius and grease tins
Mix dry ingredients together by hand in big bowl and make well in centre
Mix egg, buttermilk and treacle together, pour half of liquid mix into dry ingredients and mix lightly by hand
Pour remainder of liquid in and mix very lightly by hand.
Put mixture into tins and bake in oven for 30/35mins turning midway for even baking. Tap bottom for hollow sound to test.
Turn out onto wire rack to cool
Copyright Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites

White Soda Bread
Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30 – 40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my ‘great convertibles’. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It’s also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon breadsoda
sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-14fl oz (350-400ml) approx.

First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Inis Meáin Squid Ink Mayonnaise
This is pictured with line-caught baby squid, grilled courgette from the garden, and wild and cultivated island flowers

Serves 12

1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 egg yolks
300ml sunflower oil
50ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
8 x 4g sachets of squid ink

Crush garlic and whisk together with the mustard and egg yolks. Combine the oils in a jug and slowly add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously to create an emulsion. When all of the oil has been added, whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt. Whisk in the squid ink until you get a jet black mayonnaise

Harvest Relish of Beetroot & Tomato
This is pictured with butter-steamed golden beets and rocket flowers from the garden with pantelleria capers. We make this large batch of this delicious relish with any beetroot and tomatoes left in the garden at the end of the season and preserve it in jars for the following season.

10kg beetroot
10kg tomatoes
20 sprigs of thyme
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Pickle
1.5kg brown sugar
800ml red wine vinegar
200ml balsamic vinegar
10 red onions, chopped
2 sticks of horseradish, finely grated

Roast the beetroot in a large baking tray at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 1 hour until soft. When cold enough to handle, peel and coarsely blend in a magimix, and put into a large pot.
Half the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Mix lightly with the thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a large baking tray at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes. Coarsely blend in magimix.
Put all the pickle ingredients except for the horseradish in a large pot and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and mix in the tomatoes and horseradish.
Gradually add the tomato pickle to the beetroot until you get a consistency and flavour that you are happy with.
Jar up your beetroot relish and any excess tomato pickle and put away for the winter!

Inis Méain Vanilla Flapjacks (Flapóig Fanaile)

These flapjacks were thin and crisp and altogether were more delicious than the version I’ve been making myself for years. Thank you Marie-Thérèse and the Inis Meáin team for sharing.

Makes 48 flapjacks

650 g butter
2 dessertspoons golden syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
900 g jumbo oatmeal or gluten free oatmeal
450 g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Get two trays and a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a pot and add the vanilla extract. Mix the oatmeal and sugar together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into the tin, spread evenly and use a fish slice to flatten the surface well.
Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, turning the tray after 10 minutes. Check every 2 minutes after 15 minutes as they can burn easily. Cook until golden brown. Remove from the oven; place the tray on a wire rack for 3-4 minutes to cool slightly. The flapjacks need to be tended to once they come out of the oven. Cut the biscuits in a grid of 6 by 4 within 5 minutes of coming out of the oven. After a further 5 minutes once the butter has solidified slightly more but not too much use a fish slice to place flapjacks on a wire rack to cool.
Once set place in a tin lined with a sheet of greaseproof paper to store.

Letters

Back to List
Latest Letter
All Recipes
Back to Website
All Darinas Letters are published each week in The Examiner

Past Letters