- A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats
- Gravadlax with Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
- Pumpkin Soup with Coriander Salsa
- This is our new favourite an excellent way to use up any stray pumpkin leftover from Halloween. This comes to us from the Autumn Certificate Course students who created this version to serve at the Slow Food Pop-up dinner in aid of the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches kids in nine local schools to grow and cook their own food. This is gluten free, Serves 6 700g (1 1/2lbs) pumpkin or butternut squash (see below) 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1/2 red chilli, chopped (depending how spicy it is) 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 1 heaped teaspoon of grated ginger 4 kaffir lime leaves (small ones), roughly chopped 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and finely chopped 1 teaspoon chana masala 1 scant teaspoon tamarind paste (soak it in hot water and press through the sieve) 2 tablespoons fish sauce (Nam Pla) 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice 400ml (14fl oz) homemade chicken stock, a little more if too thick 350ml (12fl oz) coconut milk (we use Thai Gold) salt to taste Coriander Salsa 25g (1oz) fresh coriander 3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds 75 ml (3fl oz) olive oil salt to taste To Serve 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds, crushed Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas Mark 4. First roast the pumpkin or butternut squash. Remove the outer skin and seeds from the pumpkin and cut it into slices 2 1/2cm (1 inch) thick. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes depending on the size, turn occasionally during cooking. The pumpkin is cooked when the tip of a knife inserts easily into the thickest part of the wedge. Fry the chopped chilli, garlic, ginger and lime leaves for a few minutes. Add the roasted pumpkin and chana masala to the spices and continue to cook stirring occasionally over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes. Add the tamarind paste, lime juice, fish sauce and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Add the coconut milk, stir and reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for further ten minutes. Blitz in a liquidiser and sieve to make the soup really smooth. Taste and add salt if needed. Best to prepare in advance in order for all the flavours to blend. To make the coriander salsa: Roast the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 5-8 minutes until golden at the edges. Allow to cool. Put all the salsa ingredients into a food processor. Purée until smooth. The salsa should have a loose-ish texture. Taste and correct the seasoning. To Serve: Serve the hot soup with a blob of crème fraîche and a drizzle of coriander salsa, sprinkle a few crushed roasted pumpkin seeds over the top of each bowl. Succulent Glazed Loin or Streaky Bacon
- Ballymaloe Spiced Beef
- Old-fashioned Roast Turkey with Fresh Herb Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Traditional Bread Sauce
- Turkey Stock
- Best Brussels Sprouts Ever
- Rory’s Scrambled Eggs with Lobster and Chives
- Celeriac Fritters with Pears, Walnuts, Radicchio and Caper Mayonnaise
- Tart of Macroom Buffalo Ricotta with Roasted Red Onions,
- Mushrooms, Thyme and Marjoram
Memories of my childhood Christmas come flooding back at this time of year. How on earth did my beautiful mother manage to create such a wonderful Christmas for all of us, Rory and I have five brothers and two sisters. The excitement built from mid-November onwards when Mummy would start to plot and plan. The Christmas cakes and puddings were made, this took two whole afternoons – she’d specially wait until we came home from the village school so we could participate, washing and chopping cherries, deseeding moscatel raisins, chopping and peeling – everything had to be done from scratch then, and of course it was an advantage to have a few more hands around to help cream the butter and line the cake tin and stir the plum pudding. That was super exciting because we each had to make a wish, eyes tightly shut, before the fruity mixture flecked with suet was packed into white delph bowls and covered with grease proof paper, “don’t forget to overlap it in the centre to allow the pudding to expand”. Little fingers held the knot to secure the twine handle tightly. Best of all the tradition in our house was to eat the first plum pudding on the night it was made. The Christmas season had begun and without doubt my mother’s plum pudding recipe (inherited from my grandmother and great-grandmother) is the best recipe any of us have ever tasted and I’m not just being nostalgic. If you don’t believe me, try it this year and I’ll be expecting a flood of cards and emails after Christmas.
So Christmas is all about tradition, few want surprises on Christmas day. Everyone, particularly those who are coming home for the festive season, look forward to the same delicious Christmas dinner, a fine roast turkey or goose with all the trimmings, lots of gravy, roasties, Brussels sprouts and in our house creamed celery (sounds old-fashioned, there’s a ring of the Grand Hotel about it) but so good with the roast turkey particularly and it’s cooked several days ahead. Keep covered in the fridge or pop it into the freezer, and just reheat. Christmas is definitely a ton of work particularly for those who don’t normally spend much time in the kitchen.
So let’s make a plan so it’s easier and less stressful. Lists and lots of them are the way to start, allocate some fun roles to as many family and friends as you can cajole or shame into helping. Start with a two week planner; fill in the basics and your social engagements.
We often overestimate the amount of food we need. Next a list of jobs, dishes, a shopping list, what can be done ahead. Have the turkey, goose or ham been ordered? The best organic and free-range turkeys get snapped up early so hurry, hurry…
If there’s just two or four people, ask yourself do you really need a turkey, how about a beautiful organic chicken or a fat free range duck. Decide if you would like a rich Christmas cake – bake it right away, wrap it well and store it in a cool dry cupboard, wonderful for cutting into fingers to share when friends or neighbours drop by with a glass of port or a cup of tea.
Maybe you’d prefer a lighter cake, I love it baked in a low sided rectangular tin and cut into small squares and there’s also a white Christmas cake iced with meringue frosting in my Darina Allen’s Christmas book. One way or another it’s time to get cracking if you want to have the satisfaction of ticking off some of the “to do” items on your list.
Most of the accompaniments and sauces both sweet and savoury can be made weeks ahead, make more than you need as gifts for your friends, cranberry sauce, brandy butter and lots of chutneys and relishes.
Rory has shared several recipes from his new lovely book, “Cook Well, Eat Well”, which has just won the “Eurospar Cookbook of the Year Award” at the recent Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.
A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats
One of my favourite easy entertaining tricks is to serve a selection of Irish artisan charcuterie from inspired producers like Fingal Ferguson from Schull, West Cork and James McGeough from Oughterard, Co. Galway, Jack McCarthy from Kanturk, Co Cork, Patrick Mulcahy from Ballinwillin, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, and Eoin Bird from The Wodded Pig in Tara, Co Meath.
The quality is so wonderful that I’m always bursting with pride as I serve it.
A selection of cured meats:
Air dried smoked Connemara lamb
Gubbeen Prosciutto and Chorizo
Woodside Farm Salami and Chorizo
Dunmanus Castle beef salami
Pepper and Caraway salami
Three Castle Pastrami
West Cork Kassler
A selection of:
Crusty country breads, sour dough, yeast and Irish soda bread.
Tiny gherkins or cornichons
Fresh radishes, just trimmed but with some green leaf attached
A good green salad of garden lettuce and salad leaves
Arrange the meats and potted meat on a large platter, open a good bottle of red and tuck in!
Gravadlax with Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
A delicious light starter and also gluten free.
225-350g (8-12oz) Gravadlax
For the pickled cucumber strips,
2 teaspoons salt
110g (4oz) sugar
75ml (3fl oz) cider vinegar
Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk, preferably free range
2 tablespoons French mustard
1 tablespoon white sugar
5fl oz (150ml) ground nut or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
salt and white pepper
sprigs of dill,
freshly cracked black pepper
Two or three days before, prepare the gravlax.
On the day of serving: Make the cucumber pickle. Cut the cucumber in half, then cut into strips using a potato peeler. Put the cucumber into a deep bowl, add the sugar, salt and cider vinegar. Toss gently, leave to macerate for at least 30 minutes.
To make the Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise: Whisk the egg yolk with the mustard and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill.
To assemble: Unwrap the gravadlax, cut down to the skin in thin slices. Arrange the drained cucumber strips and the gravadlax in a haphazard way on each serving plate. Drizzle with Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise. Garnish with tiny sprigs of dill and chive or wild garlic flowers.
Finally add a little freshly cracked black pepper over each serving. Serve with Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread.
Pumpkin Soup with Coriander Salsa
This is our new favourite an excellent way to use up any stray pumpkin leftover from Halloween. This comes to us from the Autumn Certificate Course students who created this version to serve at the Slow Food Pop-up dinner in aid of the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches kids in nine local schools to grow and cook their own food. This is gluten free,
700g (1 1/2lbs) pumpkin or butternut squash (see below)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red chilli, chopped (depending how spicy it is)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped teaspoon of grated ginger
4 kaffir lime leaves (small ones), roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon chana masala
1 scant teaspoon tamarind paste (soak it in hot water and press through the sieve)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
400ml (14fl oz) homemade chicken stock, a little more if too thick
350ml (12fl oz) coconut milk (we use Thai Gold)
salt to taste
25g (1oz) fresh coriander
3 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
75 ml (3fl oz) olive oil
salt to taste
2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds, crushed
Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas Mark 4.
First roast the pumpkin or butternut squash.
Remove the outer skin and seeds from the pumpkin and cut it into slices 2 1/2cm (1 inch) thick. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, toss in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes depending on the size, turn occasionally during cooking. The pumpkin is cooked when the tip of a knife inserts easily into the thickest part of the wedge.
Fry the chopped chilli, garlic, ginger and lime leaves for a few minutes.
Add the roasted pumpkin and chana masala to the spices and continue to cook stirring occasionally over a medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
Add the tamarind paste, lime juice, fish sauce and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Add the coconut milk, stir and reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for further ten minutes. Blitz in a liquidiser and sieve to make the soup really smooth.
Taste and add salt if needed.
Best to prepare in advance in order for all the flavours to blend.
To make the coriander salsa:
Roast the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 5-8 minutes until golden at the edges. Allow to cool.
Put all the salsa ingredients into a food processor. Purée until smooth. The salsa should have a loose-ish texture. Taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve the hot soup with a blob of crème fraîche and a drizzle of coriander salsa, sprinkle a few crushed roasted pumpkin seeds over the top of each bowl.
Succulent Glazed Loin or Streaky Bacon
A ham is traditional at Christmas but I prefer a piece of succulent streaky bacon or loin, less expensive, just as delicious and so easy to carve.
1.8-2.25kg (4-5lbs) streaky or loin of bacon, either smoked or unsmoked
400g (14oz) 1 small tin of pineapple -use 3-4 tablespoons approx. of the juice
350g (12oz) brown Demerara sugar
whole cloves 20-30 approx.
Cover the bacon in cold water and bring slowly to the boil, if the bacon is very salty there will be a white froth on top of the water, in this case it is preferable to discard this water. It may be necessary to change the water several times depending on how salty the bacon is, finally cover with hot water and simmer until almost cooked, allow 25-30 minutes approx. to the lb. Remove the rind, cut the fat into a diamond pattern, and stud with cloves. Blend brown sugar to a thick paste with a little pineapple juice, 3-4 tablespoons approx., be careful not to make it too liquid. Spread this over the bacon. Bake in a fully preheated hot oven 250°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9 for 20-30 minutes approx. or until the top has caramelized.
Ballymaloe Spiced Beef
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas in these parts without spiced beef. Although Spiced Beef is traditionally associated with Christmas it’s available all year round in the English Market. It may be served hot or cold and is a marvellous stand-by, because if it is properly spiced and cooked it will keep for 3-4 weeks in a fridge. Butchers have their own secret recipe but this superb recipe has been passed down in the Allen family of generations,
1.35kg-1.8kg (3-4lb ) lean flap of beef or silverside
Ballymaloe spice for beef
This delicious recipe for Spiced Beef has been handed down in Myrtle Allen’s family and is the best I know. It includes saltpetre, nowadays regarded as a health hazard, so perhaps you should not live exclusively on it! Certainly people have lived on occasional meals of meats preserved in this way, for generations. This recipe is also gluten free.
The recipe below makes enough spice to cure 5 flanks of beef, each 1.8kg (4lbs) approx. in size and can also be used to spice beef tongues.
225g (8oz) demerara sugar
350g (12oz) salt
15g (½oz) saltpetre (available from chemists)
75g (3oz) whole black pepper
75g (3oz) whole allspice (pimento, Jamaican pepper)
75g (3oz) whole juniper berries
Grind all the ingredients (preferably in a food processor) until fairly fine. Store in a screw-top jar; it will keep for months, so make the full quantity even if it is more than you need at a particular time.
To prepare the beef: If you are using flank of beef, remove the bones and trim away any unnecessary fat. Rub the spice well over the beef and into every crevice. Put into an earthenware dish and leave in a fridge or cold larder for 3-7 days, turning occasionally. (This is a dry spice, but after a day or two some liquid will come out of the meat.). The longer the meat is left in the spice, the longer it will last and the more spicy the flavour.
Just before cooking, roll and tie the joint neatly with cotton string into a compact shape, cover with cold water and simmer for 2-3 hours or until soft and cooked. If it is not to be eaten hot, press by putting it on a flat tin or into an appropriate sized bread tin; cover it with a board and weight and leave for 12 hours.
Spiced Beef will keep for 3-4 weeks in a fridge.
Cut it into thin slices and serve with some freshly-made salads and home-made chutneys, or in sandwiches.
Other good things to serve with Spiced Beef are horseradish Sauce and Cucumber Pickle or warm potato, hard-boiled eggs and scallion salad or avocado, rocket leaves, tomato and chilli jam.
Old-fashioned Roast Turkey with Fresh Herb Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce and Traditional Bread Sauce
This is my favourite roast stuffed turkey recipe. You may think the stuffing seems dull because it doesn’t include exotic-sounding ingredients like chestnuts and spiced sausage meat, but it’s moist and full of the flavour of fresh herbs and the turkey juices. Cook a chicken in exactly the same way but use one-quarter of the stuffing quantity given.
(4.5-5.4kg) 1 x 10-12lb, free-range and organic, turkey with neck and giblets
Fresh Herb Stuffing
175g (6oz) butter
350g (12oz) chopped onions
400-500g (14-16ozs) approx. soft breadcrumbs (check that the bread is non GM) (or approximately 1lb 4oz of gluten-free breadcrumbs)
50g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm
salt and freshly ground pepper
neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone and wingtips of turkey (save the liver for a pâte)
2 sliced carrots
2 sliced onions
1 stick celery
3 or 4 peppercorns
For self-basting the turkey
225g (8ozs/2 sticks) butter
large square of muslin (optional)
Cranberry Sauce (see recipe)
Bread Sauce (see recipe)
To brine the turkey
6 litres (10½ pints) water
600g (1¼ lb) salt
large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress
Brine the turkey the night before, not essential but it makes for moist, tender and flavourful meat.
Add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Put the turkey into a clean stainless steel saucepan, plastic bucket or tin. Cover with the brine and a lid and chill for 24 hours. Drain and dry well. This is of course optional, but it hugely enhances the flavour of the turkey.
The next day, remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey, for ease of carving later. Make a turkey stock by covering with cold water the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, wingtips, vegetables and bouquet garni. (Keep the liver for smooth turkey liver pate). Bring to the boil and simmer while the turkey is being prepared and cooked, 3 hours approx.
To make the fresh herb stuffing: Sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for 10 minutes approx., then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half-fill with cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end.
Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time. Allow 15 minutes approx. per lb and 15 minutes over. Melt the butter and soak a large piece of good quality muslin in the melted butter; cover the turkey completely with the muslin and roast in a preheated moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 2¾ -if brined) to 3¼ hours. There is no need to baste it because of the butter-soaked muslin. The turkey browns beautifully, but if you like it even browner, remove the muslin 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Alternatively, smear the breast, legs and crop well with soft butter, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. If the turkey is not covered with butter-soaked muslin then it is a good idea to cover the whole dish with tin foil. However, your turkey will then be semi-steamed, not roasted in the traditional sense of the word.
To test the turkey is done the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices, they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy. Easier said than done when oven space is at a premium, so cover with a large sheet of parchment, (I’m not keen on tin foil) and then wrap the whole thing snugly with a warm bath towel. It will keep hot while you make the gravy.
To make the gravy: Spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting pan. De-glaze the pan juices with fat free stock from the giblets and bones. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat.
Present the turkey on your largest serving dish, surrounded by crisp roasties. Garnish with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly. Make sure no one eats the berries.
Serve with Cranberry Sauce and Bread Sauce and lots of gravy.
Traditional Bread Sauce
I love Bread Sauce but if I hadn’t been reared on it I might never have tried it – the recipe sounds so dull! It’s good with roast chicken and guinea fowl as well as turkey. Use gluten free bread for a gluten free version – you may need more breadcrumbs.
600ml (1 pint) whole milk
110g (4½ oz) soft white breadcrumbs
2 medium onions, each stuck with 6 or more cloves
35 – 50g (1½ – 2oz) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
75-110ml (2-3fl oz) thick cream
2 good pinches of ground cloves or quatre epices (a French spice, equal amounts of ground white pepper, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.)
Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
Bring to the boil in a small, deep saucepan all the ingredients except the cream. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and add the cream just before serving. Correct the seasoning and add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick. Serve hot.
Note: The bread sauce will keep in the fridge for several days – the remainder can be reheated gently – you may need to use a little more milk.
Best Brussels Sprouts Ever
Not surprisingly many people loathe Brussels sprouts because invariably they are over cooked.
The traditional way to cook sprouts was to cut a cross in the stalk so that they would, hopefully, cook more evenly. Fortunately I discovered quite by accident when I was in a mad rush one day, that if you cut the sprouts in half lengthways, or better still quarters, they cook much faster and taste infinitely more delicious so with this recipe I’ve managed to convert many ardent Brussels sprout haters! This recipe is also gluten free.
450g (1lb) Brussels sprouts, (cut lengthways top to bottom)
600ml (1 pint) water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
25-50g (1-2oz) butter or extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
Choose even medium sized sprouts. Trim the outer leaves if necessary and cut them in half or quarters lengthways – cut into quarters if they are very large. Salt the water (its really important to add enough salt) and bring to a fast rolling boil. Toss in the sprouts, cover the saucepan just for a minute until the water returns to the boil, then uncover and continue for 5 or 6 minutes or until the sprouts are cooked through but still have a slight bite. Drain very well.
Melt a little butter or extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, roll the sprouts gently in the butter, season with lots of freshly ground pepper and salt. Taste and serve immediately in a hot serving dish.
Note * If the sprouts are not to be served immediately, drain and refresh them under cold water just as soon as they are cooked. Just before serving, drop them into boiling salted water for a few seconds to heat through. Drain and toss in the butter, season and serve. This way they will taste almost as good as if they were freshly cooked: certainly much more delicious than sprouts kept warm for half an hour in an oven or a hostess trolley.
Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts and Crispy Bacon or Chorizo
Add 2-4oz (50-110g) of crispy bacon lardons or chorizo and 50g (2oz) of toasted and chopped hazelnuts to the above recipe and serve immediately.
Rory’s Scrambled Eggs with Lobster and Chives
Cooked lobster is now so much easier to find – so this treat can be made without having to cook the lobster yourself.
Serves 4 as a starter or 30 as a canapé
225g cooked lobster, chopped into 2cm pieces
4 tablespoons cream
8 free-range eggs
sea salt and freshly ground
grilled sourdough bread
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped
1 tablespoon chive flowers (optional)
This is a delicious combination that can be served as a starter or canapé on grilled bread or melba toast. Shrimp or crayfish could replace the lobster in the recipe. The addition of cream to the cooked eggs prevents the mixture from solidifying, making it an ideal dish to prepare in advance. I hold the cooked mixture at room temperature for a couple of hours and serve it on hot grilled or toasted bread.
The optional chive flowers make a pretty and delicious garnish, but they could be replaced another time with garlic, kale or fennel flowers.
Place the lobster and cream in a small saucepan and gently heat to a bare simmer, then remove from the heat.
Beat the eggs with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Melt the butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the beaten eggs and cook over a gentle heat, stirring all the time with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon. When the eggs are just beginning to scramble, add the lobster and cream and keep cooking for a few more minutes, until the eggs are a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat and transfer from the saucepan to a bowl. The eggs will not set hard like cold scrambled eggs, but will retain their lovely softness. The eggs are best served barely warm but are also good at room temperature.
When ready to serve, spread the scrambled eggs over the hot grilled bread. Grate over the lemon zest and finish with a sprinkling of chives and chive flowers (if using).
From Rory O’Connells “Cook Well, Eat Well” published by Gill Books, photographs by Joanne Murphy
Celeriac Fritters with Pears, Walnuts, Radicchio and Caper Mayonnaise
sunflower oil, for deep frying
120g (4¼ oz) celeriac (weight after peeling), peeled and cut into fine julienne, like long matchsticks
12 watercress sprigs
12 radicchio leaves
1 ripe pear, cut in quarters lengthways, cored and thinly sliced
16 walnut halves
4 generous teaspoons homemade mayonnaise 28 capers
140g (4¾ oz)plain flour
pinch of salt
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100ml (3½fl oz) water
1 large egg white, beaten until quite stiff
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon honey
sea salt and freshly ground
Celeriac, or root celery, as it is sometimes called, is a terrific vegetable. It make a marvellous soup, is great roasted or as a purée and is the essential ingredient in the classic remoulade, in which case it is eaten raw. The flavour of celeriac is milder and sweeter than the green celery we are more familiar with. These crisp fritters are served here as a main course but would also be very good as a starter, in which case the recipe would serve eight people. I use peppery watercress sprigs and radicchio leaves here, but you could substitute a mixture of leaves.
Make the batter for frying the fritters first. Place the flour and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and whisk in enough water to form a smooth batter the consistency of thick cream. Chill for 30 minutes, then fold in the stiffly beaten egg white.
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Taste and correct the seasoning.
When ready to cook the fritters, heat 10cm of sunflower oil in a heavy-bottomed cast iron or stainless steel saucepan until it reaches 180°C, or if you have a deep fat fryer, that will work perfectly.
Mix the celeriac through the batter. Gently drop four large spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil and cook until crisp and golden brown on both sides, which should take about 10 minutes in total. Remove from the oil, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm in a low oven. They will remain crisp for 20 minutes or so.
To serve, place the salad leaves, sliced pear and walnuts in a large bowl and dress with the well-mixed dressing. Divide between four plates and place a fritter on top of each salad. Drop 1 teaspoon of mayonnaise on top of the fritters and scatter on the capers. Add a few grains of sea salt and serve immediately.
From Rory O’Connells “Cook Well, Eat Well” published by Gill Books, photographs by Joanne Murphy
Tart of Macroom Buffalo Ricotta with Roasted Red Onions,
Mushrooms, Thyme and Marjoram
250g puff pastry
2 medium red onions, peeled and each onion cut into 8 even-sized wedges
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large sprigs of fresh thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black
100g buffalo or sheep’s milk ricotta
25g Parmesan, grated
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large flat mushroom
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram leaves
salad of mixed leaves
I am delighted to be able to use Irish ricotta that comes from
Macroom in County Cork, where the buffalos that produce the milk for the cheese are happily grazing on Irish grass. I find these sort of sustainable developments in Irish food production quite thrilling and I congratulate all involved who had the vision and energy to run with an idea that may have sounded hare-brained to many.
The tart can be served as a starter or as a main course and I always serve a salad of mixed leaves with a simple olive oil dressing to accompany it. The quality of the puff pastry you are using is really important for a fresh-tasting result that isn’t greasy. I always make my own puff pastry and freeze a few pieces so that I have it to hand when I need it. If you are buying puff pastry, make sure it is made with butter. The technique used here for creating a tart using puff pastry is one that can be repeated over and over again with other vegetables and fruit.
The mushroom in the recipe is one of those big flat mature mushrooms that has dark brown gills rather than the smaller ones with pink gills. The more deeply flavoured mushroom that I favour here stands up well to the robust flavour of the roasted onions and pairs well with the delicate ricotta. Serves 4
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.
Roll the pastry out and cut into a neat 22cm circle, saving the pastry trimmings for another day. Place on the lined baking sheet. To achieve a rim on the cooked tart, cut another circle 1cm in from the edge of the pastry. Your knife should pierce the pastry about 1mm deep and should be an obvious cut, not just a mark. This 1cm rim will be the risen edge of the cooked tart and will hold the vegetables in place.
Now pierce the pastry inside the 1cm rim all over with a normal table fork, making sure you feel the tines of the fork hitting the baking sheet. Do no pierce outside of the 1cm ring with your fork. The somewhat alarming holes you have created will close and reseal when it cooks. Chill the pastry until you are ready to assemble the tart.
Toss the onions in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Tip into a roasting tray and cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until tender. Cool completely.
Mix the ricotta with the Parmesan, thyme leaves and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
To assemble the tart, spread the ricotta mixture over the base, making sure not to go onto the pastry rim. Arrange the roasted onions on top. Cut the mushroom into slices 1cm thick and place cap side down, stalk side up, in a circle on top of the onions. Season the mushroom slices. If the thyme sprigs still look reasonable respectable, I pop these on top as well as I love their roasted appearance.
Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and cooked through. Add a final few grains of sea salt and the marjoram leaves and serve as soon as possible.