ArchiveNovember 2017

Wow, the food is fantastically good in Australia.

Wow, the food is fantastically good in Australia. I’ve just come back from a two week trip to promote my new book Grow Cook Nourish. A whistle-stop tour where I visited Sydney, Melbourne, Byron Bay and Tasmania. Lots of radio interviews, TV and a sell out Grow Cook Nourish dinner at Merricks General Wine Store on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula outside Melbourne. So what’s new on the Australian food scene? It’s been over a decade since I last visited, the food was already fantastic, creative and delicious but on this visit it was even more memorable. I should say that there was nothing random about my choice of restaurants, I can’t bear to waste even one eating slot so breakfast, lunch or brunch and dinner were all carefully plotted. This piece is too short to include and wax lyrical about all of them but here are some highlights.
The most notable change was many of the top cooks and chefs are proudly incorporating lots of native ingredients into their menu and are showcasing indigenous foods. Some attribute this to the ‘Rene Redzepi effect’, the acclaimed Danish chef who changed the image of the Nordic peninsula brought his whole team to Australia in 2016. He was intrigued by the wealth of indigenous foods and the knowledge and inherited wisdom of the Aboriginal people.
On my last visit over 15 years ago, I ate witchetty grubs, mountain pepper, marrans and several other tasty bites but now there is a far greater variety, understanding and pride. I won’t easily forget Kylie Kwong’s salt bush dumplings at Billy Kwong. She and Ben Shewry of Attica in Melbourne have been proudly serving native ingredients and herbs for many years. Ben showed me around his vegetable garden at Rippon Lea Estate. Ben Shewry pays tribute to the aboriginal tradition by wrapping fish in paper bark which imparts a delicious smoky aroma.
Lennox Hastie’s food at Firedoor in Sydney was truly creative and delicious, each element even dessert was cooked on the open fire over different woods.
I had an unforgettable evening sitting at the counter chatting and watching him cook.
Still in Sydney, loved the warm oysters with horseradish cream at Ester and Gnudi with brown butter, currants and almonds at Cumulus in Melbourne, beautiful simple food handmade with superb ingredients.
When I visited Melbourne, Stephanie Alexander took me to Auburn Primary School to see one of her Kitchen Garden projects, a seriously impressive school garden. They even had a wood burning oven in the centre and a brilliantly equipped kitchen so the children could learn how to cook the wide variety of fruit and vegetables they grew. The teachers baked a pumpkin cake in my honour and sweetly shared the recipe.
Little purple society garlic flowers were everywhere even on the new seasons’ asparagus. I enjoyed Fred’s in Sydney, where one of Alice Waters prodigies from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California has created one of the hottest tickets in town.
Always a surprise to find the seasons ‘upside down’. In Oz they are just enjoying the first of the early summer produce as we snuggle up around the fire and tuck into stews. Perhaps my most memorable meal was at Fleet in Brunswick Heads near Byron Bay. The tiny restaurant only seats 14 guests but I pleaded for a little space and Astrid , Rob and Josh squeezed me in at the counter – totally memorable food. The smoked mackerel fish pâte was inspired by a dish I enjoyed there and the radish dipped in honey and roasted sesame seed was also one of their moreish canapés.
Some say that the Aussies invented brunch, I’m not sure but they certainly do some of the most exciting and tasty brunch dishes ever. I loved Three Blue Ducks both in Roseberry and at the Farm at Byron Bay and schlepped the cookbook all the way home. I met several of our Australian students during the trip and loved the super chic Old Clare Hotel in Sydney with Jason Athertons, restaurant Kensington Social serving up some delicious food.
Hugely enjoyed my trip and Grow Cook Nourish was warmly received in Australia at t the beginning of their growing season – can’t wait to return, pity it’s sooooo far away.
www.cookingisfun.ie
www.darinasblog.cookingisfun.ie
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Want to know more about Aboriginal culture, native and indigenous Australian foods? Seek out a copy of Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe, unputdownable…..

Gnudi with Roasted Almonds, Currants and Parmesan
Serves 6
Gnudi
500g (18oz) buffalo ricotta
1 organic egg yolk
30g (1 1/4oz) ‘00’ flour
30g (1 1/4oz) freshly grated Parmesan
zest of 1 small lemon
2kg (4 1/2lbs) semolina flour, for dusting

salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g (1oz) currants
25g (1oz) unskinned almonds, quartered
25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter
50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan
lots of freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt

Day Before
First make the gnudi.
Mix the ricotta, egg yolk, ‘00’ flour and Parmesan together in a bowl, then add the lemon zest and salt, freshly ground black pepper and mix again.

In a wide, deep baking tray or plastic container, spread out a generous layer of semolina flour, about 5mm thick.

Roll the gnudi mixture into 30balls and then lay each one on the semolina flour in a single layer, making sure they do not touch each other.

When you have used up all the mixture, completely cover the gnudi with the remaining semolina flour and chill in the fridge for 24 hours. By then, the semolina will have formed a crust on the gnudi – this helps the dumplings to hold their shape.

Next Day – just before serving.
When you are ready to cook the gnudi, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (1 level tablespoon of salt to 8 pints of water). Dust the excess semolina flour off the gnudi (any excess semolina flour can be kept in the fridge and used again). Cook in batches, a few gnudi at a time for about 3 minutes or until they rise to the top of the saucepan, remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper. Reserve some of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt a little butter in a saute or frying pan. Bring to the boil, allow to bubble for a minute or two until the colour changes to hazelnut, add some of the reserved cooking water. Add the raisins and almonds. Add the drained gnudi to the pan. Toss gently, season well with freshly ground black pepper and divide between the hot plates.
Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt, some freshly grated Parmesan and add a few rocket leaves.
Smoked Mackerel Pâté, Potato Crisps and Dill or Fennel Sprigs and Flowers

A fun and delicious way to serve a fish pâté.

Serves 6-8

Cooked fresh salmon, smoked salmon, mullet, mackerel, trout or herring can be substituted in the above recipe.

110g (4oz) undyed smoked mackerel or herring, free of skin and bone
50-75g (2-3oz/1/2-3/4 stick) softened butter
1/4 teaspoon finely snipped fennel
freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2-1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste
salt and freshly ground pepper

Homemade Potato Crisps (see recipe)

Garnish
sprigs of dill or fennel and flowers

First make the potato crisps (see recipe).

Next make the smoked mackerel pâté.
Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste, add freshly squeezed lemon juice and garlic. It should be well seasoned and soft. Cover and chill until needed.

To Serve
Put a generous tablespoon of smoked mackerel pâté on a small plate. Cover the entire surface with homemade potato crisps. Tuck tiny sprigs of dill (or fennel) in between the crisps and dill or fennel flowers.

Homemade Potato Crisps or Game Chips

Making chips at home is definitely worthwhile – a few potatoes produce
a ton of crisps and nothing you buy in any shop will be even half as delicious. A mandolin is well worth buying for making chips – but mind your fingers! When these are served with roast pheasant they are called game chips

Serves 4

450g (1lb) large, even-sized potatoes
extra virgin olive oil or beef dripping for deep-fat frying
salt

Wash and peel the potatoes. For even-sized crisps, trim each potato with a swivel-top peeler until smooth. Slice them very finely, preferably with a mandolin. Soak in cold water to remove the excess starch (this will also prevent them from discolouring or sticking together). Drain off the water and dry well.

In a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil or dripping to 180ºC/350ºF. Drop in the dry potato slices a few at a time and fry until golden and completely crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat until they are all cooked.

If they are not to be served immediately, they may be stored in a tin box and reheated in a low oven just before serving.

Carpaccio of Sea Bream or Haddock or Grey Sea Mullet with Salmon Eggs and Dill or Fennel Flowers
CD

Haddock, Hake or Grey Sea Mullet are also delicious.

Serves 4

225-300g (8-10oz) very fresh sea bream, haddock or grey sea mullet, filleted
freshly squeezed organic lemon and orange juice
salmon eggs (cured salmon roe)
little sprigs of dill or fennel
dill or fennel flowers
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt

To Serve
Slice the fish very thinly down onto the skin. Arrange the slices in an over-lapping line across each of the chilled plates. Squeeze some lemon and orange juice over the top. Arrange a line of salmon eggs along the centre of the fish slices. Garnish with tiny dill or fennel sprigs and flowers. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Serve immediately.

Warm Oysters with Horseradish Cream and Chervil

Serves 6-8

24 Gigas oysters

Horseradish Cream (see recipe)

Garnish
sprigs of chervil

First make the horseradish cream (see recipe), cover and chill.

To Serve
Preheat the oven to 250˚C/500˚F/Gas Mark 10.

Put the oysters into a baking tray on a bed of coarse salt. Pop into the oven and cook until the shells just pop open. Lift off the top shell. Spoon about a dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) of horseradish cream over the oyster. Top with a sprig of chervil and serve immediately. The oyster should be hot and the horseradish cream cold. Serve on a bed of seaweed or coarse salt.

Horseradish Cream

Serves 8 – 10

3 – 6 tablespoons (4-7 1/2 American tablespoons + 3-6 teaspoons) freshly grated horseradish
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) softly whipped cream

Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Fold in the softly whipped cream but do not over mix or it will curdle. The sauce keeps in the fridge for 2-3 days, covered, so that it doesn’t pick up other flavours.

Stephanie Alexander’s Spiced Pumpkin Cake

Serves 20 approximately

350 g (12 oz) pumpkin (skinned and de seeded)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Pumpkin Cake
180 g (6¼ oz) dark soft brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150 ml (5 fl oz) olive oil
250 g (9 oz) self raising flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Lemon Glaze
250 g (9 oz) icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Fresh thyme sprigs, (to serve)

2 x 1 lb loaf tin

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

Chop the pumpkin into 2 cm pieces. Place in a bowl with olive oil and cinnamon; give a good toss making sure all pieces are coated. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool, then blitz with a food stick blender or in a magimix.

Line the loaf pan with baking paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and combined. Pour in the olive oil and combine. Stir through the pureed pumpkin. Sieve over the flour and spices, stir together until all incorporated.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a medium bowl; gradually add the lemon juice until you have a thick runny consistency. Pour over the cake and decorate with fresh thyme sprigs.

This Autumn, four members of our family published cookbooks within a couple of weeks.

This Autumn, four members of our family published cookbooks within a couple of weeks. It wasn’t planned that way but it was a lovely coincidence.
My latest tome “Grow Cook Nourish” was three years in the making, but is a slight departure from my other 15 books. This one is encouraging us all to grow some of our own food. Even if you live in a high rise apartment with just a window sill or a balcony, you can grow your salad leaves year round and much more besides, but in this article I’m going to focus on Rachel’s “Home Baking” and Philip Dennhardt’s “Saturday Pizzas”. Philip who did the 12- week Certificate Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2006 is less well known than Rachel. He teaches butchery, charcuterie and pizza workshops and runs the Saturday Pizza Café at Ballymaloe Cookery School. In 2007 Philip came to us with an idea for a Pop-Up pizzeria on Saturdays and wondered whether we would be happy for him to experiment in the wood-fired oven in the Garden Café at the school. We’re always excited by a new venture and of course, said yes.

Philip hankered after those delicious pizzas he had tasted in California and was excited about incorporating the fresh organic produce from our farm and gardens with fish and shellfish from the nearby fishing village at Ballycotton. He made a pilgrimage to Italy and tasted pizzas from Rome to Naples. Back home he experimented with flours and doughs until he was happy with the crust. The result delighted us all and soon Saturday Pizzas had a cult following. There was always a Margherita and pepperoni, but also a new vegetarian and non-vegetarian pizza, reflecting the seasons. Philip is meticulous about his research, recording each week’s specials and tweaking the recipes. He is always creative and inspired by the fresh ingredients, artisan produce and foraged foods around us, and every Saturday we look forward to the specials.

One day, Philip told me that he would love to write a pizza cookbook. Now here it is, a beautifully written book that will inspire even those who have never made a pizza before to have a go. And you don’t need to own a wood-burning oven – you can get excellent results in a conventional oven. The fun continues every week at Saturday Pizzas here in Shanagarry with Philip’s carefully chosen combinations. Some are traditional, but there are some unorthodox concoctions too, such as apple and black pudding, or braised beef with BBQ sauce and pickled red onions, perhaps finished with a drizzle of homemade aioli, hoisin sauce, gremolata or tapenade and served with a salad of organic leaves with edible flowers on top. When you start making your own pizza, there’s no end to the fun. Once you have made the dough, there are many more options than just pizza. You can make calzone, sfincione, stromboli, panzerotti, piadina, sgabei … the list goes on. I hope you will be inspired by Philip to release your inner pizzaiolo.

Rachel, familiar and much loved by the fans of her TV programmes, serves up another helping of delicious sweet treats in her 15th book. Rachel loves baking and is forever dreaming up and testing new temptations. Her newest book “Home Baking” has also been enthusiastically received. It hit the shelves on October 5th and has been shortlisted for Cookbook of the Year in the Bord Gáis Irish Book awards, as has Rory O’Connell’s, Cook Well Eat Well.
Rachel like Philip highlights the importance of sourcing really good quality ingredients as the basis for real yumminess and nourishment.I ate the magnificent salted caramel peanut bar with a fine pot of tea at the Stephen Pearce Café at the weekend, I thought I’d ask Rosa for the recipe. She looked baffled and told me it comes straight from Rachel’s new book Home Baking. It’s on page 132 – worth the price of the book alone for this one recipe.
www.cookingisfun.ie
darinasblog@cookingisfun.ie
https://www.instagram.com/timanddarina/?hl=en

Hot Tips

The Irish Cheese Biennial Awards was held recently at the Grainstore at Ballymaloe House. Over 160 cheeses were entered including 16 brand new cheeses.
Mount Leinster Clothbound’ Coolattin was crowned the overall Supreme Champion, a superb cheddar cheese from summer milk when the cows were grazing on fresh clover rich pasture. Made by Tom Burgess on his farm near Tullow, Co. Carlow. For a full list of awards check out https://irishcheese.ie/2017/11/04/irish-cheese-awards-2017/ and let’s showcase them proudly on our Autumn and Winter cheeseboards.
A Special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to two pioneers, Louis and Jane Grubb of Cashel Blue who have inspired so many. Jane and Louis who started to experiment in their own kitchen now run a several million euro business with the help of their daughter Sarah, her husband Sergio and a loyal and highly skilled team – an example of ‘from tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow’. Cashel Blue, is exported all over the world and could well become the next Kerrygold. A popular and well deserved award to two of the heroes and greatest innovators of the Irish farm house cheese industry.

Honey
2017 wasn’t a brilliant honey season, the mild winter confused the bees somewhat and once the temperature reaches 8 degrees, the bees tend to fly out of the hive to collect pollen. This year they were out in mid January visiting snowdrops and flowering daphne. If there’s a sudden cold snap this can be disastrous. The new season honey is in the shops and Farmers Markets now so stock up while it’s still available. I particularly love raw honey and found some from the Little Apple Farm in Co Kilkenny at the Midleton Farmers Market last weekend. I ate slice after slice of toast and honey for breakfast, nature’s bounty – super delicious. Philip Little www.littleirishapple.ie

Santa’s coming……Excitement at Midleton Farmers Market today – Saturday 18th November, Santa arrives on the train from Cork to Midleton with his elves and will visit the Midleton Farmers Market where he will be welcomed at 1pm by Darina Allen…..Christmas Carols, treats and lots of fun.
Contact Irish Rail for tickets to travel with Santa from Kent station to Midleton or just come along to the Midleton Farmers Market. www.irishrail.ie
Rachel Allen’s Spanish Cheese, Honey and Thyme Tarts
Makes 4
1 lb of Puff Pastry
Flour for dusting
1 egg
150g (5 ½ oz) rind removed Manchego cheese or other hard, matured cheese
4 teaspoons thyme leaves
2-3 teaspoons honey

baking sheet.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/gas mark 6. Line the baking sheet with baking parchment. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 22 x 35cm (8 ½ x 14 in).

Cut the rectangle in half lengthways and then in half widthways to make 4 smaller rectangles, each about 11 x 18cm (4 ¼ x 7in) (Alternatively you can make 4 round tarts; roll the pastry into a square instead of a rectangle and cut 4 circles about 14cm, (5 ½ in) in diameter – I use a saucer for this.)

Dust off the excess flour on top of the pastry, then flip the pastry pieces over and dust off again. I flip them over after cutting for a better puff around the edges. Using a small sharp knife, score an 8mm (3/8in) frame all-round the edge, cutting two-thirds of the way through the pastry. Put the pastry pieces on the prepared baking sheet.

Whisk the egg with the pinch of salt to make an egg wash, then brush the egg wash over the frame, not going over the edges. Inside the frame, lay down the slices of cheese, making sure to cover the whole surface of the pastry inside the frame. Scatter ½ teaspoon of the thyme leaves over the cheese in each pastry.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and put on warm plates, then drizzle the honey thinly over the top of each tart. Scatter the remaining thyme leaves over the top, and serve.
From Home Baking by Rachel Allen, photography by Maja Smend, published by Harper Collins.

Rachel’s Peach and Almond Squares
Makes 9
175g (6oz) butter softened, plus extra for greasing
175g (6oz) caster sugar
3 eggs
175g (6oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g (3½ oz) ground almonds
5 peaches cut in half and pitted
2-3 tablespoons peach or apricot jam (optional)

20cm (8in) square cake tin with high sides.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350ºF/gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of the tin with baking parchment. Put the butter in a large bowl and cream it with a wooden spoon until soft, or use an electric beater on slow or a food processor. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of flour each time and beating well after each addition. Sift in the remaining flour and the baking powder and add the ground almonds. Fold in to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top using the back of the spoon. Put 9 halves of peaches in 3 rows of 3, cut side up (there will be half a peach left over for the cook!)

Bake for 45-50 minutes until the sponge is pale golden and springy to the touch. Gently warm the jam in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat, and brush over the sponge and peaches while still warm. Serve warm or leave to cool.
From Home Baking by Rachel Allen, photography by Maja Smend, published by Harper Collins.

Philip Dennhardt’s Classic Pizza Dough
200 ml (3/4 cup + 4 teaspoons) cold water
300g (2 cups) ‘oo’ flour or strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1⁄2 x 7g (1⁄4 oz) sachet of fast action dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
Makes enough for 2 x 25 cm (10 in) pizzas

Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, then add the flour on top of the water and add the yeast and salt in separate piles. Mix for 10 minutes on a medium–low speed. For the
first few minutes it will look shaggy and you might be worried that it won’t come together, but leave it be and by the end of the 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, springy and slightly sticky. Check the dough after a couple of minutes, though, to see how it’s coming along.
If it’s really dry and isn’t coming together, add another tablespoon of water. If it looks really wet, add another tablespoon of flour. Alternatively, if you don’t have a mixer, you can knead the dough by hand. Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and tip the dough out onto it. Knead it by hand a few times to bring it together into a smooth, round ball that holds its shape well and springs back when you poke it. If it doesn’t pass those tests, knead it for 1–2 minutes more. Using a dough cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough in half. Pressing it firmly into the work surface, roll each piece into a smooth round, like a tennis ball. Put the dough balls on two side plates or a baking tray dusted with flour. Cover tightly with cling-film/plastic wrap or soak a clean tea towel in cold running water from the tap and wring it out really well, then cover the dough with the damp cloth. Place the covered plates or tray in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight or even up to 48 hours to let it have a long fermentation and a slow rise. The longer you let the dough sit in the fridge, the more flavour it will have.

Take the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you want to cook the pizzas, making sure you keep it covered with the clingfilm/plastic wrap or damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out. When you’re ready to shape the dough, dust a pizza peel or a thin wooden chopping board generously with flour. You can either stretch the dough by hand or use a rolling pin. If you’re using a rolling pin, dust that with flour too.

Take the rested dough ball off the plate or tray using a dough cutter or a bowl scraper, making sure the dough ball stays round at this point. Place the dough ball onto the floured peel or board and dust some flour on top of the dough too. Press down the middle of the dough with your fingers, but don’t press the edge of the dough ball, as that will be the crust later. It should already look like a little pizza.
The dough is now ready to be stretched by hand or rolled.
This recipe makes two pizzas, but if you want to make more than that, here are the quantities to use for four or six pizzas. Even if you’re only making two pizzas, you can still make a bigger batch and either freeze the leftover dough, ready to go for the next time you make pizza or you could make it into the recipes for garlic bread, dough balls with garlic butter and breadsticks.
Makes 4 x 25 cm (10 in) pizzas
300 ml (10fl oz/ ½ pint) cold water
500g (18oz) (31⁄3 cups) ‘oo’ flour or strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
7 g sachet of fast action dried yeast
2 tsp fine sea salt
Makes 6 x 25 cm (10 in) pizzas
550 ml (18 fl oz) cold water
950 g (2 lbs) ‘oo’ flour or strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
11⁄2 x 7 g (1⁄4 oz) sachets of fast action dried yeast
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
From Saturday Pizzas at Ballymaloe Cookery School by Philip Dennhardt and Kristin Jensen, photographer Mowie Kay and published by Ryland Peters & Small.

Philip Dennhardt’s Tomato Sauce
Makes 800 ml

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1⁄2 carrot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 x 400 g (14oz) cans of good-quality whole plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan set over a medium–low heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and season with the salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 8–10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook, uncovered, for just 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes on a low heat. Good-quality canned tomatoes don’t need to be cooked for very long, plus the longer you cook the sauce, the more water evaporates and the thicker it becomes, which isn’t the consistency that you want – pizza sauce should be thin but not watery.

Whizz the sauce with a hand-held blender until smooth, or you could leave it a little chunkier if that’s what you prefer. Taste and check for seasoning – add a teaspoon of sugar if the tomatoes are too bitter or acidic. The sauce is now ready to be used right away, or it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or it can be frozen for up to six months. This recipe makes enough sauce for five pizzas.

From Saturday Pizzas at Ballymaloe Cookery School by Philip Dennhardt and Kristin Jensen, photographer Mowie Kay and published by Ryland Peters & Small.

Philip Dennehardt’s Chorizo with Blue Cheese and Rocket
2 balls of pizza dough, see Classic Pizza Dough recipe
2 handfuls of rocket/arugula
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch of fine sea salt
160 ml (2/3 cup) tomato sauce, see recipe
250 g (2 cups) grated mozzarella
16 slices of dry-cured chorizo
100 g (3/4 cup) crumbled blue cheese
Makes 2 x 25 cm (10 in) pizzas
Preheat the oven to 250°C/480°F/gas mark 9 or as high as it will go. Place a pizza stone or an upside-down baking tray in the oven to heat up too. Get all your ingredients and equipment ready, including taking the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you’re ready to cook.

Place the rocket/arugula in a bowl. Drizzle with half of the oil and season with a pinch of salt (you don’t need any pepper, since the rocket is so peppery on its own). Toss to combine and coat all the leaves. This adds flavour and helps protect the greens from burning.

Stretch the pizza dough by hand or roll it out as per the instructions on pages 24–25. Sprinkle a pinch of salt evenly over the dough, then brush a little olive oil onto the rim with a pastry brush to help it turn golden. Using a ladle or big spoon, pour the tomato sauce in the centre of the dough. Spread it over the pizza in concentric circles with the back of the ladle or spoon, leaving a 2.5 cm (1 in) border clear around the edges for the crust. You only want a thin layer of sauce.
Place a big handful of the grated mozzarella in a mound in the middle of the dough. Use your palm to spread it out evenly across the pizzas, leaving the edges clear for the crust. Scatter the chorizo and crumbled blue cheese on top of the mozzarella (or if you would prefer a bit more texture, add the blue cheese later – see the introduction), aiming to get a good balance of ingredients across the pizza.

Check that there is no liquid on the peel or board or your pizza won’t slide off. Shake the board gently to see if the pizza w move. If it doesn’t, lift up the pizza with a dough cutter or spatula and sprinkle a little flour on the board until it does move easily. Slide the pizza off the peel or board onto the pizza stone or upside-down baking tray in the hot oven. Cook for 7–10 minutes, but start checking it after 5 minutes – you want the bottom and the crust to be cooked through and golden and the cheese should be melted. Take the pizza out of the oven and scatter the rocket evenly across the top. Return the pizza to the oven for only 30 seconds to 1 minute more, until the rocket has just started to wilt.

Alternatively, skip this step to keep the rocket/arugula fresh and let it wilt only slightly in the residual heat of the pizza after it comes out of the oven. Remove from the oven again and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Slice after 1 minute standing.

From Saturday Pizzas at Ballymaloe Cookery School by Philip Dennhardt and Kristin Jensen, photographer Mowie Kay and published by Ryland Peters & Small.

Pure Butter

I rarely shop in a supermarket, I know this sounds quite extraordinary but I live in the country, in the middle of a farm and we grow a lot of our own food. I’m also a big advocate of Farmers Markets and small independent local shops so my reality is kinda different.
It can be months between one visit to a supermarket and the next – having said that I love a wander around Fields in Skibbereen when I’m in West Cork, a large supermarket which still manages to keep the local shop feel and one of the few (Scally’s in Clonakilty is another) that goes out of its way to source and support local farmers, food producers and fishermen.
Hadn’t been for a while and was in search of a pound of butter to make some hollandaise sauce to embellish a fine fresh hake that I had just bought in the Skibbereen Farmers Market.

At first I thought there was no butter but eventually I found some Kerrygold and Aughadown from Drinagh Co-Op at the very end of a long run of every conceivable spread. I had passed yards and yards of dairy products, mostly, light, low fat, no fat……

What IS going on? Surely people know by now, that pure natural butter is good for us and that other edible ‘food like substances’ predominately made in laboratories are most definitely not. The myth that low fat is good for you was the biggest con of the late 20th and 21st century. That theory and false science has been thoroughly discredited.

If you only remember one thing from this article, it ought to be the following fact. We need good fat in our diet to help the body to absorb the nutrients from other foods. Only two Vitamins, B and C are water soluble, all the others are fat soluble – so what does that mean? Unless we have some fat in our diet, we cannot extract maximum nutrition from the what we eat… So that’s just one of the many reasons why low fat is detrimental to our health and why ‘surprise, surprise’, people who were put on a totally low-fat diet were found to be suffering from malnutrition, yes malnutrition after a few months.

The fat doesn’t have to be butter, it can be extra virgin olive oil, lard or beef dripping but it must be a good fat, pure and preferably organic. If you don’t believe me, do your own research and see how ever since the Keys 1961 report followed by The Dietary Goals for the United States encouraged Americans to eat less high fat red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with more calories from fruits, vegetables and especially carbohydrates. First in the US and then everyone else seems to follow suit without ever checking their science. So for four decades, our governments, department of health, dieticians and doctors (who by the way have virtually no training in nutrition) have repeated the same dogma over and over again. It wasn’t until 2014 when the result of the meta analysis of over 80 scientific papers and research documents that we learned that there wasn’t a shred of evidence to link butter and saturated fats to cardiovascular disease, fancy that….

Meanwhile, a multi-billion dollar/euro/pound industry has been developed on the back of this false science. But the most serious element is that by now the general public have been so brainwashed into thinking that fat of any kind is public enemy No 1 that they actually can’t face it.

Desperately serious for our health. Babies and small children need lots of good fat for their brain development. It’s connected to fertility, to our energy level, concentration…..
Least there be any misunderstanding, it’s not the fault of the supermarkets, they will sell what the public want……So don’t be conned, eliminate those low-fat products totally from your diet. Mother Nature did not put fat on meat and fish to annoy us, it’s there so we can absorb the maximum benefit from the lean meat. See Weston A Price Foundation – www.westonaprice.org

www.cookingisfun.ie
www.darinasblog.cookingisfun.ie
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HOT TIPS
Where can I find Jersey Milk ?
In the Cork area, whole raw milk is available from Dan Aherne’s stall at Mahon Point (Thursday from 10am-2.30pm) and Midleton Farmers Markets (Saturday from 9am-1pm).
Raw Jersey milk, cream and handmade butter are available from the Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop only – open Monday to Saturday from 11am – 5.30pm

Skibbereen International Mince Pie Festival
An exciting new Christmas event. Join Tessa Perry and myself on December 2nd 2017 at the Courtyard, Mardyke Street at 2pm in Skibbereen for the Mince Pie Festival Final. €10.00 enters up to 6 mince pies. I’ll be happy to sign copies of my new book Grow, Cook, Nourish for Christmas pressies. Phone Matt on 087 245 8627 for the details

10 Great Brunch Recipe Ideas at the Ballymaloe Cookery School
More substantial than a breakfast, lighter than a full lunch, brunch is the perfect meal for enjoying quality time with family and friends and enjoying hassle-free entertaining. In this half day cookery course, we will teach many simple delicious recipes to entertain and delight, sharing with you a wonderful repertoire of brilliant brunch ideas from spicy Sri Lankan chilli eggs to the classic Mexican huevos rancheros, light-as-a-feather ricotta hot cakes with honey, all-American Corn cakes or Dutch pancakes with crisp home cured bacon or tangy blueberry drop scones dripping with fresh butter. Friday November 17th 2017. www.cookingisfun.ie

Festive Cooking with Darina Allen at the Ballymaloe Grain Store
Let us help you prepare for the Christmas holidays! Join us for a fun evening on Friday November 23rd 2017 at 7pm at the Ballymaloe Grain Store. Proceeds to support the Cork Quaker Meeting’s project to renovate and extend its Meeting House. Tickets €25.00. For more info or to buy tickets mail corkmonthlymeeting@gmail.com or phone Denise at 085-7285287.

Roast Haddock or Hake with Red Pepper Sauce
This is a super rich sauce with a sublime flavour, it makes any fish into a feast. The technique for roasting fish is one we all need in our repertoire – really quick and easy….. Serve naked or with any sauce you fancy.

Serves 4 – 6 as a main course

1 1/2 lbs (675g) haddock, hake or ling, carefully trimmed of skin and membrane
Butter or extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sauce
1 red pepper
5ozs (150g/1 1/4 stick) butter (preferably unsalted)
8 fl ozs (250ml/1 cup) cream

Garnish
Sprigs of flat parsley or chervil

Cut the fish into 4oz or 6oz portions, refrigerate until needed.
Seed the red pepper and dice the flesh into neat 1/8 inch (3mm) cubes. Sweat gently in 1 teaspoonful of butter in a small covered pot on a low heat until soft (it’s really easy to burn this so turn off the heat after a few minutes and it will continue to cook in the pot).
Put the cream into a saucepan and gently reduce to about 3 tablespoons (4 scant American tablespoons) or until it is in danger of burning, then whisk in the butter bit by bit as though you were making a Hollandaise sauce. Finally stir in the diced red pepper. Thin with a very little warm water if necessary and keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/regulo 9.
Arrange the skinless fillets on a baking tray, brush with melted butter or a little extra virgin olive oil. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 4 – 6 minutes depending on the thickness.

To serve
Arrange the fish on warm individual plates. Coat each piece with the red pepper sauce. Garnish with sprigs of flat parsley or chervil and serve immediately.

Buttered Shrimps or Prawns with Bretonne Sauce

Shrimps are in season at the present. Another gorgeous herby butter sauce, quick and easy to make and also delicious with other fish even the humble mackerel.

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main course

2 lbs (900g) shrimps or prawns

4 pints (2.3 litres/10 cups) water
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) salt

Bretonne Sauce
1 eggs yolk, preferably free range
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (We use Maille Verte Aux Herbs)
1 tablespoon fresh herbs – mixture of chervil, chives, tarragon and fennel, chopped or as a last resort just parsley
75g (3ozs/3/4 stick) butter, melted

Garnish
Flat parsley or fresh fennel

1oz (25g/1/4 stick) butter

Bring 2.3litres of water to the boil. Add 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of salt, toss in the live or very fresh shrimps, they will change colour from grey to pink almost instantly. Bring the water back to the boil and cook for just 2-3 minutes. The shrimps are cooked when there is no trace of black at the back of the head. Drain immediately, and spread out on a large baking tray to cool.

Next make the Bretonne Sauce.
Whisk the egg yolks with the mustard and herbs in a small pyrex bowl. Bring the butter to the boil and pour it in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking continuously until the sauce thickens to a light coating consistency as with a Hollandaise.
Keep warm in a flask or place the bowl (not stainless steel) in a saucepan of hot but not boiling water.

Just before serving, peel the shrimps or prawns. Toss in foaming butter in a frying pan until heated through. Heap them onto a hot individual warm plates. Coat with the sauce. Garnish with flat parsley or fresh fennel and serve immediately.

Baked Plaice, Dover Sole with Herb Butter

This is a very simple ‘master recipe’ which can be used not only for plaice and sole but for all very fresh flat fish, e.g. brill, turbot, dabs, flounder and lemon sole. Depending on the size of the fish, it can a starter or a main course. Because it is cooked on the bone the flavour is superb. It is also delicious with Hollandaise Sauce, Mousseline or Beurre Blanc.

Serves 4

4 very fresh plaice or sole on the bone

Herb Butter
2-4 ozs (50-110g/1/2 – 1 stick) butter
4 teaspoons mixed finely-chopped fresh parsley, chives, fennel and thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/regulo 5.

Turn the fish on its side and remove the head. Wash the fish and clean the slit very thoroughly. With a sharp knife, cut through the skin right round the fish, just where the ‘fringe’ meets the flesh. Be careful to cut neatly and to cross the side cuts at the tail or it will be difficult to remove the skin later on.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and freshly-ground pepper and lay them in 1cm (1/2 inch) of water in a shallow baking tin. Bake in a moderately hot oven for 20-30 minutes according to the size of the fish. The water should have just evaporated as the fish is cooked. Check to see whether the fish is cooked by lifting the flesh from the bone at the head; it should lift off the bone easily and be quite white with no trace of pink.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the freshly-chopped herbs. Just before serving catch the skin down near the tail and pull it off gently (the skin will tear badly if not properly cut). Lift the fish onto hot plates and spoon the herb butter over them. Serve immediately.

Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice Cream with Raisins and PX
Really good cream makes really good ice cream. This recipe is made on an egg-mousse base with softly whipped cream. It produces a deliciously rich ice cream with a smooth texture that does not need further whisking during the freezing period. This ice cream should not be served frozen hard; remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. You can add other flavourings to the basic recipe: liquid ingredients such as melted chocolate or coffee should be folded into the mousse before adding the cream. For chunkier ingredients such as chocolate chips or muscatel raisins soaked in rum, finish the ice cream, semi-freeze it and then stir them through, otherwise they will sink to the bottom.

Serves 12–16

4 organic egg yolks
100g (3 1/2oz/scant 1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from 1/3 vanilla pod
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) softly whipped cream (measured after it is whipped, for accuracy)

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar with 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, about 106–113°C (223–235°F): it will look thick and syrupy, and when a metal spoon is dipped in the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time by hand. (If you are whisking the mousse in a food mixer, remove the bowl and whisk the boiling syrup in by hand; otherwise it will solidify on the sides of the bowl.)

Add the vanilla extract or vanilla seeds and continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse.

This is the stage at which, if you’re deviating from this recipe, you can add liquid flavourings such as coffee. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.

Affogato
Put a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream into a glass or a cappuccino cup, top with a shot of espresso and serve immediately. Yummeee

Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding with softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar

A creamy rice pudding is one of the greatest treats on a cold winter’s day. Make it with whole milk and you’ll need to use short-grain rice which plumps up as it cooks. This is definitely a forgotten pudding and it’s unbelievable the reaction we get to it every time we make it at the Cookery School. It’s always the absolute favourite pudding at my evening courses.

Serves 6–8

100g (31⁄2oz) pearl rice (short-grain rice)
40g (1 1/2oz/scant 1/4 cup) sugar
small knob of butter
850ml (1 1/2 pints/3 3/4 cups) whole milk

1 x 1. 2 litre (2 pint/5 cups) capacity pie dish

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.

Put the rice, sugar and butter into a pie dish. Bring the milk to the boil and pour over. Bake for 1–1 1/2 hours. The skin should be golden, the rice underneath should be cooked through and have soaked up the milk, but still be soft and creamy. Calculate the time it so that it’s ready for pudding. If it has to wait in the oven for ages it will be dry and dull and you’ll wonder why you bothered.

School Lunch Box Suggestion

Apple Fritters

Funny how one sometimes forgets a recipe; we hadn’t had these for ages, but I remembered them recently and they taste just as good as ever. As children we particularly loved fritters because they used to fry into funny shapes, which caused great hilarity. These can also be shallow-fried in a pan. You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the sugar to toss the apples in for extra flavour.

Serves 6–8

 

110g (4oz) plain white flour

pinch of salt

1 organic egg

150ml (5fl oz) milk

good-quality vegetable oil, for frying

450g (1lb) cooking apples (about 4), Bramley’s Seedling or Grenadier

225g (4oz) caster sugar

 

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg. Use a whisk to bring in the flour gradually from the edges, slowly adding in the milk at the same time. Leave the batter in a cool place for about 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C (350°F). Peel and core the apples. Cut into rings, no thicker than 1cm (1⁄4in). Dip the rings into the batter and lift out with a skewer, allowing the surplus batter to drain off, then drop into hot fat, a few at a time. Fry until golden brown, drain well on kitchen paper. Toss each fritter in caster sugar. Serve immediately on hot plates with softly whipped cream.

SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

Ask any of my Certificate Course students where they would like to work when they finish their stint at the Ballymaloe Cookery School – at least a quarter will sigh wistfully and mention Ottolenghi and indeed many of my past students have worked there and loved their experience.

Yotam Ottolenghi, the Israeli-British chef, restaurateur, deli owner and bestselling food writer has won all our hearts with his chic and delicious food.
Sumac, zatar, pomegranate molasses are stocked in virtually every supermarket. Frekkah, mahleb, dried limes, rose petals and pistachios are also familiar ingredients to virtually all keen cooks – the ‘Ottolenghi effect’ but for many it’s the irresistible huge billowy meringues, luscious cakes, fancy friands, dainty financiers and pastries that they lust after.

Recipes for some of these specialties are sprinkled through Yotam’s earlier books, Ottolenghi The Cookbook, Jerusalem, Plenty, Plenty More…he and his business partner Sami Tamimi also have an uncanny knack for displaying the food, so it is beyond irresistible. They use beautiful ingredients, no grey or fawn food, it’s all super colourful and most importantly it is super delicious. In his latest book SWEET, Yotam has teamed up with Malaysian born, Helen Goh, a doctor of psychology, who was head pastry chef at Donovan’s, a landmark restaurant in a suburb of Melbourne and well known for its delicious cakes. A friend tipped off Yotam that Helen was coming to London and the rest is history.

Yotam and Helen have collaborated and meticulously tested recipes for over two years and the end result is SWEET, the book that his legions of fans have been waiting for…..110 innovative recipes. The advance publicity promised ‘it will bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, figs, pistachio and cardamom to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.’

This is one of those rare books that you’ll want to cook your way from cover to cover and how about all that sugar…well, Yotam and Helen feel that there’s nothing wrong with a bit of sugar and baking some sweet treats from time to time. Mummy always had something homemade in the tin to serve with a cup of tea when friends dropped in, which was often…..

However there’s a lot wrong with gorging on stuff with a million ingredients that you haven’t made yourself and can’t even pronounce half of the long list of ingredients.
So difficult to choose what to include in this column but here’s a few temptations to make you want to rush to your local book shop to secure your very own copy – also a perfect present for a sweet toothed friend. You’ll have to buy the book to get the recipes for Love cakes, frozen espresso parfait for a crowd and chocolate tart with hazelnuts, rosemary and orange…these could well become their favourite dinner party desserts.

www.cookingisfun.ie
www.darinasblog.cookingisfun.ie
www.instagram.com/timanddarina/

Hot Tips
‘Saturday Pizza’ Masterclass at the Ballymaloe Cookery School with
Bed and Breakfast at Ballymaloe House
Join Philip Dennhardt at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Friday 10th November and enjoy a three hour Pizza Masterclass. Philip will take you through all the basic ingredients from making dough, getting the best results from your oven and delicious ways to use classic and contemporary toppings.
Following Philip’s Pizza class, check in to Ballymaloe House on the same evening and enjoy a 5 course dinner in the charming surroundings of the house & gardens.
Dinner, bed & breakfast with Philip’s Pizza Masterclass from €275.00 per person sharing. http://www.ballymaloe.ie/blog-item/pizza-masterclass or www.cookingisfun.ie

Check out Listowel Food Fair, one of the originals and still one of the best. It runs from 9th -12th November 2017. See the website www.listowelfoodfair.ie for lots of info on competitions, cooking, tasting, family fun, a farming seminar and lots more….

Find of the Week:- . I’ve just discovered the delicious smoked black and white pudding from The Smokin’ Butcher, Hugh Maguire based in Ashbourne, Co Meath – love it for breakfast and we’ve all being enjoying it as a starter with caramelised apple and grainy mustard sauce. Tel: – 086 893 9964 http://hughmaguirebutchers.com/

Wild Food of the Week:- Burdock can be found in woodland and on waste ground. The leaves and stalks can be boiled and eaten with melted butter in spring time but right now burdock root can be peeled and boiled in salted water, sautéed in butter, much like Jerusalem artichokes.

School Lunch Box Suggestion: – Pumpkin soup, fill a flask with pumpkin soup as part of a warm and comforting school lunch, add a couple of brown scones.

Pumpkin Soup

Serves 6 approximately

560g (1 1/4lb) pumpkin, preferably organic, chopped
45g (1 1/2oz) butter
110g (4oz) onion, chopped
140g (5oz) potatoes, chopped
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
1.1Litre (2 pints/5 cups) homemade light chicken or vegetable stock
62ml (2 1/2fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) creamy milk, (optional)
2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

Garnish
a little lightly whipped cream

Melt the butter and when it foams add the chopped vegetables, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cover with a butter paper (to retain the steam) and a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat gently on a low heat for about 10 minutes approx.

Remove the lid, add the stock and boil until the vegetables are soft. Pour the soup into the liquidiser. Add the freshly chopped thyme, purée until smooth. Add a little creamy milk if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning

Garnish with a speckle of the whipped cream.

Ottolenghi’s Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs
This is a stunning dessert for a special occasion. Pavlova is the dessert to make when you have a bit of time and are feeding people you adore. The recipe calls for flaked almonds but you can easily substitute those with chopped pistachios.

Serves 10-12 (it’s quite rich, so the slices are not too big)

20 g flaked almonds
50 g dark cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
600 g fresh figs, cut into 1 cm discs
3 teaspoons honey

Meringue
125 g egg whites (from 3 large eggs)
125 g caster sugar
100 g dark muscovado sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Praline Cream
50 g flaked almonds
80 g caster sugar
2 tablespoons water
200 ml double cream
400 g mascarpone

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°F/gas mark 3.

Spread out all the almonds (for both the pavlova and the praline, 70g) on a baking tray and toast for 7-8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, divide into two piles (20 g for the pavlova, 50 g for the praline) and set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 120°C/100°F/gas mark ½. Cover a baking tray with baking parchment and trace a circle, about 23cm in diameter, onto the paper. Turn the paper over so the drawn –on circle is facing down but still visible.

First make the meringue:- pour enough water into a medium saucepan so that it rises a quarter of the way up the sides: you want the bowl from your electric mixer to be able to sit over the saucepan without touching the water. Bring the water to a boil.

Place the egg whites and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk by hand to combine. Reduce the heat under the saucepan so that the water is just simmering, then set the mixer bowl over the pan, making sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bow. Whisk the egg whites continuously by hand until they are warm, frothy and the sugar is melted, about 4 minutes, then transfer back to the electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place and whisk on a high speed for about 5 minutes until the meringue is cool, stiff and glossy. Add the cinnamon and whisk to combine.

Spread the meringue inside the drawn circle, creating a nest by making the sides a little higher than the centre. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours, then switch off the oven but leave the meringues inside until they are completely cool: this will take about 2 hours. Once cool, remove from the oven and set aside.

Place the chocolate into a small heatproof bowl and set it over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted. Cool slightly, and then brush the chocolate inside the meringue nest, leaving the top and sides bare. Do this gently, as the meringue is fairly delicate. Leave to set for about 2 hours.

Next make the praline: place the 50 g toasted almonds on a parchment lined baking tray (with a lipped edge) and set aside. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and place over a medium low heat, stirring until the sugar has melted. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until it turns a dark golden brown. Pour the cream over the nuts (don’t worry if they’re not all covered) and leave until completely cool and set. Once cool, transfer the praline to the small bowl of a food processor and blitz until fine.

Place the cream, mascarpone and blitzed praline in a large bowl and whisk for about 1 minute, until stiff peaks form .be careful not to over whisk here – it doesn’t take much to thicken up or it will split. If this begins to happen, use a spatula to fold a little more cream into the mix to bring it back together. Refrigerate until needed.

To assemble:- spoon the cream into the centre of the meringue and top with the figs. Warm the honey in a small saucepan and stir through the 20 g almonds (or pistachios). Drizzle these over the figs and serve.

Taken from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh published by Ebury Press

Ottolenghi’s Mont Blanc Tarts
Makes 8

You will need eight mini fluted tins, about 8-9 cm wide and 2-3cm deep. Alternatively you can make this in one large fluted tart tin, around 25 cm wide and 3 cm deep.

The pastry can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in the fridge (wrapped in cling film) until ready to roll. It can also be frozen for up to 2 months. The candied pecans can be made up to 5 days in advance and kept in an airtight container.

Once assembled the tarts are best eaten on the day they are baked.

Flaky Pastry
200 g plain flour
120 g unsalted butter, fridge cold, cut into 1 cm dice
30 g caster sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons ice cold water

Candied Pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon liquid glucose
1 tablespoon caster sugar
120 g pecan halves
1/8 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Filling
60 g dark cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
320 g sweetened chestnut spread (we use Clement Faugier; whichever brand you use just make sure that it is not the unsweetened variety)

Vanilla Whipped Cream
300 ml double cream
1 tablespoons icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon brandy

For the pastry: place the flour, butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz a few times, until it is the consistency of fine breadcrumbs, then add the vinegar and water. Continue to work for a few seconds, then transfer to your work surface. Shape into a ball and flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and set aside in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°F/gas mark 6.

To line the tart cases:- allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes (if it has been in the fridge for more than a few hours) and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to about 3 mm thick and cut out eight circles, 14 cm wide. Re roll the dough if necessary to get eight circles. Transfer one circle at a time to the 8-9 cm wide and 2-3 cm deep fluted tins and gently press the pastry into the corners of the tart tin: you want it to fit snugly and for there to be a decent amount of pastry hanging over the edge of the tart case, as the pastry can shrink a little when baked. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.

To blind bake the tart cases: line the pastry bases with baking parchment or paper liners and fill with baking beans. Bake for 18 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown at the edges. Remove the beans and paper and cook for another 8 minutes until the base is golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely in the tray. Once cool, trim the pastry (so that it c can be removed from the tray) and set aside until ready to fill.

Increase the oven temperature to 210°C/190°C/gas mark 6. Line a baking tray (with a lipped edge) with baking parchment and set aside.

To make the candied pecans: put the maple syrup, glucose and sugar into a small saucepan and place over a low heat. Stir gently until the sugar has melted, then add the pecans and salt. Stir so that the nuts are coated in syrup, then tip the nuts on to the lined baking tray. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the syrup is bubbling around the nuts. Remove the tray from the oven and set aside until completely cooled. When the nuts are cooled, the glaze should be completely crisp, if not return them to the oven for a few more minutes. Once cooled, break or roughly chop the nuts into 0.5cm pieces and set aside until ready to use.

Make the filling:- when you are ready to assemble, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted, then use a pastry brush to line the inside of the each case with the chocolate. Set aside for about 30 minutes, to set, then fill with enough chestnut spread so that it rises about halfway up the sides of the tart cases.

For the vanilla whipped cream, pour the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Add the icing sugar, vanilla extract and brandy and whisk on a high speed for 1 minute, or until medium soft peaks form.

Divide the whipped cream between the tarts, so that it is slightly domed on top of the chestnut spread. Sprinkle the candied pecans generously on top – you might have a tablespoons or two left over, but these can be saved to munch on, to sprinkle over your next bowl of breakfast granola or porridge. Serve.

Taken from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh published by Ebury Press

Ottolenghi’s Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnuts and Rose Water

The cake is best eaten on the day it is made. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in cling film, where it will keep for up to 2 days. Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving so that it is not fridge cold.

Serves 8

For the Cake
120 g walnut halves
6 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
215 g caster sugar
215 g dark cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped or broken up
2½ teaspoons instant coffee granules
50 ml hot water

Caramelised Walnut Topping
30 g caster sugar
40 g walnut halves, roughly chopped

Rose Water Cream
380 ml double cream
2½ tablespoons icing sugar
1½ tablespoons rose water (not rose essence)

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

Grease a 35 cm x 25 cm Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment, then set aside.

Spread 120 g walnuts out on a baking tray and roast for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool, then roughly chop and set aside until assembling the cake. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/180°F/gas mark 6.

To make the cake:- place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Beat on a medium high speed and with the machine still running, gradually add the sugar. Continue to beat until the mixture is thick, lighter in colour and trebled in volume.

While the yolks are beating, place the chocolate pieces in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Place the coffee granules in a small cup and dissolve in 50 ml of hot water. Add the coffee to the chocolate and stir gently (it will seize up if you stir too often or too vigorously) until the chocolate has completely melted. Turn off the heat and fold the yolk and sugar mix into the chocolate mixture in three batches.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Whisk on a high speed until stiff peaks form, and then fold gently into the chocolate mix. Scrape the mixture into the tin, spreading over the surface so that it is even. Bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, then set aside to cool completely.

To caramelise the walnuts:- line a small baking tray (with a lipped edge) with baking parchment. Place the sugar and 40 g of walnuts in a small sauté or frying pan and cook over a medium high heat until the sugar begins to melt and turn a pale amber colour. Use a spatula to stir the walnuts and sugar together, so that the walnuts are evenly coated. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, until the caramel is a dark amber and the walnuts are golden brown. Remove from the heat and pour onto the lined tray. Set aside to cool, then roughly break any clumps of walnuts into smaller pieces. You can make these in advance and store them in an airtight container.

To make the rose water cream:- once the cake is cool, place all the ingredients for the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Whip until soft peaks form, then set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble the cake.
Turn the cooled cake out onto a chopping board and remove the tin and paper. Place a second chopping board on top of the cake and flip it back over so that the crust side of the cake is facing upwards.
Trim about 0.5cm off the short edges of the cakes, then cut the sponge into three even pieces, each about 25 x 11 cm. carefully transfer one piece of cake onto a serving platter and spread one third of the rose water cream evenly over the surface of the cake. Sprinkle half the roasted walnuts over the cream and place another layer of sponge on top. Repeat with the cream and remaining walnuts, then place the final layer of sponge on top. Dollop and spread the remaining cream on top of the cake. Sprinkle the caramelised walnuts on top of the cream and serve.

Taken from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh published by Ebury Press

Ottolenghi’s Saffron, Orange and Honey Madeleines

Traditionally, madeleines are best eaten as close to coming out of the oven as possible. The beating together of the eggs and sugar makes them super light and fluffy, but it’s all the air incorporated into them that also makes them dry out so quickly, if left to sit around for too long.
Here, untraditionally we forgo all the beating and just place the ingredients in a food processor. Mixing them this way means that the resulting madeleines won’t be quite as light as those made by hand whisking, but they’re every bit as delicate and buttery as you’d hope. We love the saffron here, but the spice is not to everyone’s liking so you can leave it out, if you prefer and focus on the orange and honey instead.

Makes about 22

90 g unsalted butter, plus an extra 20 g, melted for brushing
2 teaspoons honey, plus an extra 3 tablespoons for glazing
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, optional
2 large eggs
75 g caster sugar
Scraped seeds of ¼ vanilla pod
Finely grated zest of 1 small orange (1 teaspoon)
90 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
20 g shelled pistachio kernels, finely blitzed

Place the butter, honey and saffron threads (if using) in a small saucepan over low heat until butter has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to come to room temperature.
Place the eggs, sugar, vanilla seeds and orange zest in a food processor and mix until smooth and combined. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl, then add to the egg mixture.

Pulse a few times, just to mix in, and add the cooled butter, honey and saffron mixture. Process once more to combine, then pour the batter into a small bowl. Cover with cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°F/gas mark 6. If you are using metal madeleine trays, brush the moulds with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with flour. Silicone trays should not need any greasing or flouring, but you can lightly brush with a little melted butter if you like. Tap to ensure that all the moulds are dusted and then shake off the excess flour.
Spoon a heaped teaspoon of batter into each mould; it should rise two-thirds of the way up the sides of the moulds. If you only have one madeleine tray, place the remaining batter in the fridge until you have baked the first batch. You will need to wash and dry the mould completely before greasing and flouring again and repeating with the second batch.

Bake for 9–10 minutes until the madeleines are beginning to brown around the edges and they spring back once the tapped lightly in the middle. Remove the tray (s) from the oven and set aside for a minute before releasing the cakes. The best way to do this, with a metal tray is to go around the edges of each madeleine with a small knife or spatula (to make sure they are not stuck) and then tap the edge of the tray on the bench until they fall out. With a silicone tray they should just fall out of their moulds. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

Pile the blitzed pistachios on to a plate in a straight line and set aside. Melt the 3 tablespoons of honey in a small saucepan until very runny, then brush lightly over the shell patterned side of one madeleine. With the shell side facing down towards the nuts, roll the narrower end of the madeleine along the pile of pistachios so that you have a straight 1 cm strip of pistachios at the base of the madeleine. Repeat with the remaining madeleines and place on a serving platter, nut side up.
Taken from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh published by Ebury Press

Ottolenghi’s Coconut Almond and Blueberry Cake

This cake is super simple and wonderfully moist. It’s also versatile, happy to be served warm for dessert with some double cream poured over or at room temperature when it’s time for tea.
This cake will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container or wrapped in aluminium foil. It also freezes well for up to a month.

Serves 10-12

180 g ground almonds
60 g desiccated coconut
250 g caster sugar
70 g self raising flour
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
200 g unsalted butter, melted, then set aside to come to room temperature
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (2 teaspoons)
200 g fresh blueberries
20 g flaked almonds

Grease and line a 23 cm round cake tin. preheat the oven to 180°C/160°F/gas mark 4.

Place the almonds, coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to aerate and remove the lumps.

Place the eggs in a separate bowl and whisk lightly. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest and whisk again until well combined. Pour this in the dry mix and whisk to combine. Fold in 150 g blueberries, then pour the mixture into the tin. sprinkle the last of the blueberries on top, along with the flaked almonds, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Keep a close eye on it towards the end of cooking, the relatively large number of eggs in the mix means that it can co from still being a little bit liquid in the centre to being well cooked in just a few minutes.
Set aside for 30 minutes before inverting out of the tin, remove the baking parchment and place the cake the right way up on a serving plate. It can either be served warm with cream or set aside to cool.

Taken from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, published by Ebury Press

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