ArchiveOctober 14, 2017

Cook Well Eat Well

I love Rory O’ Connell’s new book, sounds a bit soppy but I‘m a big fan of my brother’s food, simple beautiful and delicious – Rory and I started the Ballymaloe Cookery School together in 1983 and his first book Master It published in 2013 was long overdue. Since then he has gained a loyal and growing fan base, both for his TV programmes and his much anticipated book number two Cook Well Eat Well.

I also love that now, that people religiously ask if I am Rory’s sister instead of the other way around – long, long, overdue recognition.
Rory is a natural teacher and everyone loves the way he takes the mystery out of cooking and gently nudges us all to be a little adventurous. This book answers a frequently asked question about how to put a nicely balanced meal together
“and what do I serve with what”?

Almost all the meals in Cook Well Eat Well are three courses. Rory sometimes suggests vegetables or a salad to serve with the meal, some of the recipes can be used over multiple seasons with a simple tweak of an ingredient to suit the time of the year you are cooking in.
Rory’s starting point is always the freshest local food in season; he reminds us that it’ll be at its best and least expensive then and much easier to transform into something yummy, delicious and properly nourishing. Rory has the added talent of being able to effortlessly make each and every plate look beautiful. Cook Well Eat Well is published by Gill Books; here are a few recipes to whet your appetite.

Hot Tips
Check out The Fumbally Stables calender of Autumn events. Their Eat:Ith workshops, talks and events with food producers, baristas, sommeliers, food writers….

Cook and Surf…..Love it that there are so many passionate passionate young chefs writing cookbooks not just for their ‘tribe’ but chock full of good things that are easy to cook or toss together. Properly deliciously and nourishing. Finn Ní Fhaoláin is one name to watch. I met her recently at the Theatre of Food, Electric Picnic and have just got her book Finn’s World. She’s lives, surfs and cooks in Bundoran. She is a coeliac herself so many of the recipes have the bonus of being coeliac friendly.

Take Five Essential Sauces
Knowing how to make a few classic sauces adds magic to many dishes. ‘Mother sauces’ in culinary jargon, are a vital tool in the kitchen and when you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you can do lots of creative variations on the theme…
Take Béchamel, Mushroom a la Crème, Hollandaise, Bernaise and Mayonnaise – none of these sauces are difficult or complicated to make. In just an afternoon we’ll share the techniques and show you how to serve and make delicious dishes with each one and share many suggestions for other delicious ways to serve them. Friday October 20th 2017,

Slow Food Mushroom Hunt
Join Bill O’Dea’s Mushroom Hunt at the Park Hotel in Kenmare on October 21st. Bill will start at 1.30pm with a presentation on mushroom hunting followed by a forage and tasting of mushrooms including a wild mushroom soup. or email for the details.

Rory O’ Connell’s Parsnip Soup with Harissa
Winter root vegetables like the parsnip are terrific value for money and packed full of flavour. They seem to yield the deep, comforting taste we long for at this time of year. I always buy my root vegetables unwashed – in other words, with some of
the soil they grew in still attached. They have a great deal more flavour than ones that have had their protective coat of earth scrubbed off and also keep much better and for longer than the cleaned ones. It is of course a little more work for you at home, but the difference in flavour and texture is enormous – quite simply, there is no comparison.

Serves 6–8

25g butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
500g parsnips, peeled and diced
100g potato, peeled and diced
100g white onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
750ml homemade chicken stock
splash of cream (optional)
2 tablespoons harissa, see recipe
best-quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan set over a medium heat until the butter foams. Add the prepared parsnips, potato, onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables and seasoning in the fat until well coated, then cover with a piece of parchment or greaseproof paper. Pop the lid on the saucepan and cook on a very gentle heat to sweat the vegetables. If the heat is too high the vegetables may stick to the bottom of the saucepan and burn. Cook for 15–20 minutes, until some of the vegetables are beginning to soften at the edges and collapse.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer again but don’t boil, as some of the stock may evaporate and the soup will be too thick. Cover with the lid and continue to cook on that gentle heat until the vegetables are completely tender. This will take about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup to a silky-smooth consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning. At this point I sometimes add a little more stock or a splash of cream to correct the consistency and the flavour.

Serve in hot bowls with a teaspoon of harissa and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil on each serving.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Harissa

I keep a jar of this hot and spicy North African inspired paste in the fridge most of the time. It is a really useful condiment for seasoning and marinating and for adding a little heat to certain dishes. I use with grilled lamb, pork and chicken, with oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, on hard boiled eggs and in an omelette and stirred through a mayonnaise as a sauce or through olive oil to make a slightly hot vinaigrette for crisp, cool salad leaves.

I use medium hot chillies such as cayenne, jalapeno or Serrano to give a level of heat that is obvious for not scorching.

Makes 1 small jar

6 medium hot red chillies, such as cayenne, jalapeno or Serrano
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
1½ tablespoons tomato puree
3 teaspoons cumin seeds, roasted and ground
3 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted and ground
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the chilies on a small roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. The skins will be blackening and blistering and coming away from the flesh. Place the roasted chillies in a bowl, seal tightly with cling film and allow to cool. When cool, peel off the skins and slit the chillies to remove the seeds. You just want the roasted flesh of the chilli for the harissa.
Place the chillies in a food processor or use a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, tomato puree and ground spices and process to a smooth-ish purée. Gradually add the oil and vinegar. Add the chopped coriander leaves and season to taste, adding a tiny pinch of sugar if you feel the flavour needs a lift. The taste should be strong, hot and pungent.
Stored in a covered container such as a jam jar in the fridge, the harissa will keep perfectly for several months.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Beetroot and Autumn Raspberries with Honey, Mint and Labneh

Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh adds the savoury note. Labneh, a simple dripped yogurt cheese, is very easy to make, though you do need to start the process the previous day or at least early in the morning if you
are serving it for dinner. There are many uses for labneh, and once you make it for the first time you will probably wonder why you never made it before. Search out full-fat thick organic yogurt for a rich and creamy result.

Serves 4

2 medium beetroots, about 250g in total with tail and 3cm of stalk attached
Sea salt and freshly ground
Black pepper
Pinch of caster sugar
24 fresh raspberries
20 small fresh mint leaves

500g full-fat natural yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

To make the labneh, take a double thickness square of clean muslin or a fine linen glass cloth and place it over a sieve sitting over a bowl. Add the yogurt and olive oil and tie the four corners of the muslin to make a knot. Secure the knot with some string. You now need to hang the tied muslin bag by the string over the bowl to allow the whey in the yogurt to drip off for at least 8 hours, leaving you with a soft cheese. I hang the bag from a cup hook attached to a shelf and that works perfectly. If that
all sounds too complicated, just sit the muslin bag in a sieve over a deep bowl and that also will do the job quite successfully. When the whey has all dripped out, simply remove the muslin and chill the cheese, covered, until you are ready to serve it. It
will keep in the fridge for three or four days.

Rinse the beetroots under a cold running tap, being careful not to break off the little tail. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and sugar to the water. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer until the skin rubs off the beetroots easily when pushed. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes for fresh new
season beetroots to 2 hours for older beets, so it is impossible to give an absolute time. The cooked beets should be very tender all the way through.

Peel off the skin and any remaining stalk and cut off the tail. The beets can be prepared up to this point hours ahead or even the previous day.

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon
juice, honey and some salt and pepper together. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To assemble the salad, slice the beetroots very thinly (I use a mandolin for this) and divide between four serving plates (the salad can also be assembled family style on a large flat platter and brought to the table). Cut some of the raspberries in half lengthways and some in cross-section slices and scatter over the beetroots. Whisk the dressing well and spoon some of it on. Place a dessertspoon of labneh in the centre of each plate. Scatter on the mint leaves and a final drizzle of dressing and serve.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Grilled Duck Breast with a Salad of Oranges, Watercress and Radicchio

Duck and oranges are a classic combination of flavours, but here the emphasis is on a lighter result rather than the rich sauce one normally expects. Peppery watercress and bitter red-leaved radicchio are a lively foil for the richness of the meat. A selection of salad leaves could replace the ones I have suggested, but including some bitter leaves makes all the difference to the balance of the finished dish. The vinaigrette used to dress the salad leaves also becomes the sauce, so the overall effect is somewhat refreshing. I like to serve a crisp potato dish to accompany, such as a pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes. I think two large duck breasts, when being served with accompanying vegetables and potatoes, are sufficient for four people, but you will know what is needed at your table.

Serves 2–4

2 oranges
Pinch of caster sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large duck breasts
2 handfuls of watercress, washed and dried
2 handfuls of radicchio leaves, washed and dried

To Serve:
Pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes with balsamic butter

Preheat the oven to 100°C.

Zest one of the oranges with a Microplane or on a fine grater. Carefully segment both oranges and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Mix the orange zest with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to make the vinaigrette. Taste and correct the
seasoning. Add the oranges to the vinaigrette and give them a gentle stir.

Place a cold grill pan on a medium heat and immediately put the duck breasts on the cold pan, skin side down. This seems like such an odd thing to do and contradicts most of the normal rules of grilling meat, but it works quite brilliantly,
as while the skin is slowly crisping, the liquid fat renders out of the duck. Save all that duck fat for roasting potatoes and vegetables – it will keep covered in the fridge for months. Cook the duck on that medium heat until the skin has become crispy
and a rich deep golden colour. This takes about 10 minutes. Turn over and finish cooking the duck on the other side for about 7 minutes more. By now the centres of the breasts should be pink, which is the way I like to serve them. I don’t like duck served rare as I find it to be tough. Rest the cooked duck breasts in the low oven for at least 5 minutes but up to 30 minutes – the juices will be more evenly distributed through the flesh after resting. I put a small plate upside down sitting on top of a
bigger plate and sit the breasts against the sloping edges of the upside-down plate. This way, any juices that run out of the duck breasts will be saved, and
equally importantly, the meat will not be stewing in its own juices.

When ready to serve, assemble the ingredients on a large hot serving dish or individual plates. Toss the leaves in just enough of the well-mixed vinaigrette
to make them glisten, then divide between the hot plates. Carve the duck breasts into neat slices and scatter through the leaves. Arrange the orange segments through the salad leaves and duck slices and drizzle on the remaining vinaigrette. I like to quickly reheat any of the cooking juices from the resting duck and add those as a final lick of flavour. Serve immediately with the pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes on the side.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

St Tola Goats’ Cheese with PX Raisins

Good shopping is crucial if you are to put delicious food on the table, and this dish perfectly illustrates how thoughtful shopping for just a few ingredients can yield the most delicious and sophisticated results with virtually no cooking involved.
We are so lucky in Ireland that over the last 20 years, a whole raft of committed food producers have been creating products that help us to achieve our daily goal of great-tasting and health-giving food. St Tola goats’ cheese made in County Clare is a shining and outstanding example of the quality of the world-class foods that we can now buy, take home, simply unwrap and eat.
In this very simple recipe, which I serve in this instance to finish this meal, the addition of the sweet sherry-soaked raisins gets over the problem of no dessert being served and they are terrific with the pleasantly salty cheese. I like to use the ash-covered log from St Tola for this dish. In another meal this dish would be perfect served as a starter. The sherry I use here, Pedro Ximénez San Emilio sherry
from Jerez in Spain, is super-sweet with a real depth of flavour and is a great aid to any cook. It also pairs brilliantly with blue cheese, chocolate desserts or chicken livers, either pan fried or in a pâté, and is a great drizzle for a vanilla, coffee or
caramel ice cream. Serve a crisp cracker or hot and crispy white bread with
this dish.

Serves 4

30g raisins
2 tablespoons Pedro Ximénez
(PX) sherry
4 slices of St Tola goats’ cheese ash log (approx. 100g)
16–20 small rocket leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt and freshly cracked
black pepper
Place the raisins in a small saucepan and pour over the sherry. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a small container and leave to soak for 6 hours or overnight. The raisins will soak up some of the sherry and the remaining sherry will become syrupy.

Place a slice of cheese on each serving plate. Scatter the rocket leaves around the cheese, making sure that the beautiful black line of ash on the outside of the cheese is visible in its entirety. Drizzle the olive oil over the leaves and a little over the cheese, then squeeze a little lemon juice to follow the olive oil.

Carefully divide the sherry-soaked raisins and syrupy juices between the plates and finish each serving with a small twist of black pepper and a few grains of sea salt.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Winter Chocolate Apple Pudding
This is a variation of the classic apple betty, which is a simple pudding that I love. This combination of bitter cooking apple, chocolate and the flavours of Christmas mincemeat is also charming. This is an ideal vehicle for using up last year’s
mincemeat. The pudding needs to be served warm on hot plates with cold softly whipped cream on the side.

Serves 4

1kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
30g butter
2 tablespoons water

For the crumb layer
150g mincemeat
125g soft white breadcrumbs
75g light soft brown sugar
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
75g butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup

To serve
chilled softly whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Put the apples in a pan and toss with the butter and water over a gentle heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples start to soften and are collapsing just a little at the edges but still generally keeping their shape. Tip them into a 1.5-litre baking dish.

Mix together the mincemeat, breadcrumbs, sugar and chocolate and cover the apples loosely with this topping. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan and pour it over the crumbs, making certain to soak them all.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until the apple is soft and the crumbs are golden and crisp. Allow to cool slightly, then serve in heated bowls with chilled softly whipped cream.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books


Past Letters