ArchiveApril 2018

Spring Vegetables

Oh my goodness, a whiff of Spring at last, Was that not the longest and often dreariest Winter many of us can remember? I loved tucking into many warming stews, tagines and slow cooked braises but now I’m so ready for the fresh tastes of Spring. The Jerusalem artichokes that have added excitement and so much nourishment to our Winter meals have now started to sprout are gone past their best for eating but try get your hands on some so you can plant a few tubers of this superb vegetable for next year.

We’ve been loving rhubarb for the past few weeks and now we have sea kale – Alleluia. Such joy, to lift off the cloches to discover the blanched stalks of seakale ready to harvest. It’s Latin name is Crambe Maritima and I believe it is the only truly seasonable vegetable there is. It’s in season in April, you are unlikely to find it is your local supermarket, but possibly in a brilliant small greengrocer or a Farmer’s Market.

Look out for it at Midleton Farmer’s Market for the next few weeks, by the end of the month the first of the Irish asparagus will be in season but only until the beginning of June.

Whereas seakale and asparagus may sound luxurious and exotic they are not the only nourishing and delicious foods to get excited about at present. Young nettles abound throughout the countryside, a growing band of foragers are harvesting them to deliver to cool chefs who are excited to showcase wild and foraged foods on their menus.

We’ve also been enjoying Winter cress or bittercress as it’s sometimes called. The peppery leaves are delicious in salads and deliver quite the burst of vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Pennywort or navelwort is in abundance, growing out of stones walls, tree trunks and in woods. The fleshy leaves add extra deliciousness and nutrients to starters and salads and make an enchanting garnish for months on end.

When you start to keep your eyes peeled for edible treasure, all of the above are free to gather in both urban and rural areas.

Bitter little dandelion leaves too add zip to a salad and you’ll hate the taste at first but soon grow to love that bitter flavour so lacking in our diets at present. One can also blanch the leaves as the continentals do by covering the plant with a large lid or bucket to exclude the light for several weeks until the leaves lose their green dark colours and become pale yellow and temptingly sweet.

Here are just a few recipes to showcase some of Nature’s bounty, enjoy…

Top tip: Wild foraged foods. A growing number of restaurants are incorporating wild and foraged foods including seaweeds from our shore line into their menu. Check out Pilgrims in Rosscarbery, The Mews in Baltimore Ballymaloe House, The Glebe Garden Café in Skibbereen…..

Where can I taste Seakale?

Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry will be serving seakale from the walled garden on its menu throughout the month of April and into early May. The seakale plants have been growing and tended in the two acre walled garden in Ballymaloe for over 60 years. Now that’s a perennial vegetable worth making space for.

To buy seakale plants try www.fruithillfarm.com or www.johnstowngardencentre.ie

 

Seakale on Toast with Prawns and Hollandaise Sauce

The cooking time depends on the freshness of the seakale. As you can imagine, cooked mussels would be delicious here also.

 

Serves 4-6

 

600ml water

1 teaspoon salt

450g seakale

30g butter

18 prawns, cooked and peeled

6 slices of toast, buttered

Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)

 

Garnish

a small bunch of chervil

 

Wash the seakale gently and trim into manageable lengths – about 10cm.  Bring the water to a fast boil and add the salt.  Add the seakale, cover and boil until tender – about 4-6 minutes.  The cooking time depends on the freshness of the seakale, as you can imagine. Cooked mussels would be delicious here also. Just as soon as a knife will pierce the seakale easily, drain it.

 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan on a gentle heat and toss in the prawns to warm through.

 

Serve the seakale with the prawns on hot buttered toast, and drizzle generously with Hollandaise Sauce.  Pop a little bunch of chervil on top of each toast and serve immediately.

 

 

Hollandaise Sauce

 

Serves 4-6, depending on what it is to be served with

 

Hollandaise is the mother of all the warm emulsion sauces.  The version we use here is easy to make and quite delicious with fish.  Like Mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a feast.  Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 70-80C or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale, otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water.  Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need.  If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potato.

 

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic

110g butter cut into dice

1 dessertspoon cold water

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, approx.

 

Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water.  Add water and whisk thoroughly.  Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time.  As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece.  The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary.  Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made.  Finally add the lemon juice to taste.  If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low.  Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage.  If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce.

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water (do not have gas jet on).  A thermos flask is also a good option.

 

Burmese Pennywort Salad

  Serves 4

 

175g pennyworth

2-3 shallots, sliced and soaked in ice cold water

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Oil

Shallot oil

1 tablespoon crushed peanuts

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 teaspoons fermented bean paste

3 tablespoons fried shallots

Fish sauce or salt

 

Wash and dry the pennyworth leaves.

Slice the garlic paper thin and allow to dry on kitchen paper.

Heat some peanut oil in a frying pan and cook on a medium heat until crisp and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper.

Put the pennyworth onto a plate.  Sprinkle the garlic and shallot oil over the top, then the freshly squeezed lime juice, fermented bean paste, fish sauce, thinly sliced tomato and sesame seeds.

Toss and mix with your clean fingers as the Burmese do.  Add most of the fried shallots and half the peanuts.   Toss again.  Taste, correct seasoning.

Divide between 4 plates, sprinkle with the remainder of the fried shallots and peanuts.

Serve immediately, each salad is made to order.

 

Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata

 

The pan size is crucial here.  If you don’t have the exact size, increase the eggs so the frittata is 4cm deep, otherwise the frittata is likely to be thin and tough.

 

Serves 6

 

This is an example of how we incorporate seasonal ingredients into a frittata.

 

8 eggs, preferably free-range, organic

225g thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

50g Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated, or a mixture

2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped wild garlic and rocket leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

 

Garnish

wild garlic and rocket leaves and flowers

 

non-stick frying pan – 19cm bottom, 23cm top rim

 

Bring about 2.5cm of water to the boil in an oval casserole.  Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears until just tender for 3 or 4 minutes.  Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 4cm at the top intact. Save for later.

 

Whisk the eggs together into a bowl.  Add the blanched asparagus except the tops, most of the Parmesan and wild garlic leaves.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

 

Heat the oil in the pan, add egg mixture and reduce the heat to the bare minimum – use a heat diffuser mat if necessary.  Continue to cook over a gentle heat until just set – about 15 minutes.  Alternatively after an initial 4 or 5 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven (and this is my preferred option), 170°C/Gas Mark 3 until just set 10-15 minutes. Arrange the asparagus tops over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.  Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element.  It should be set and slightly golden. Turn out on a warm plate, cut into wedges and serve immediately with a salad of organic leaves, including wild garlic and rocket.

Garnish with wild garlic flowers

 

Seakale Tempura with Chervil Mayonnaise

Serves 6-8 as a starter

 450g seakale

Batter:

110g flour

2 tablesp cornflour

250ml iced water

 

 

225g chervil mayonnaise

 

Mix the cornflour into the water.  Put the flour into a bowl.  Add the water gradually, stirring with chopsticks, it will be a bit lumpy at first but a will eventually be a light creamy texture.  You may need to adjust the consistency by adding a drop more water or flour to get a thin even coating batter.

Heat the oil in a deep fry to 180C.

Trim the seakale and cut into pieces 10-11.5cm.   Dip one piece into the batter and fry for a couple of minutes or until crisp but not brown.  Taste for seasoning and adjust the batter if necessary.  Continue to cook the rest, drain on kitchen paper.

Thin the mayonnaise with a little water to a dip-like consistency.  Add lots of finely chopped chervil and a nice sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve the crisp tempura immediately with a little bowl of chervil mayonnaise.

 

 

 

Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely Compote

Rhubarb and sweet cicely are a wonderful combination as are rhubarb and strawberries now that strawberries have a longer season we can enjoy them together.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) red rhubarb, e.g. Timperely early

450ml (16fl ozs.) Stock Syrup (see below)

4 to 6 leaves of sweet cicely

Cut the rhubarb into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Put the cold syrup into a stainless steel saucepan, add the rhubarb and sweet cicely, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for just 1 minute, (no longer or it will dissolve into a mush). Turn off the heat and leave the rhubarb in the covered saucepan until just cold.

 

 

Stock Syrup

 

Stock syrup is the basis of homemade lemonade, fruit salad and all our compotes. We sometimes flavour it with sweet geranium, elderflower, mint or verbena leaves.

 

275g (10oz) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

 

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water* and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed.

*Add the flavourings at this point if using.

Compote of Rhubarb with Sweet Geranium

Add 4-6 large sweet geranium leaves to the sugar and water before it comes to the boil, then continue as above – omit the strawberries from the recipe.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote

225-450g (8oz – 1lb) fresh strawberries, eg. Cambridge favourite, Elsanta or Rapella

 

Make the rhubarb compote as above

 

Hull the strawberries, slice lengthways and add to the cool rhubarb compote.  Chill and serve with a little pouring cream and a light biscuit.

 

 

Rhubarb Compote with Rosewater Cream

Poach the rhubarb in the usual way, allow to cool.  Serve with rosewater cream.

 

 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Smoothie

 

An energizer.

 

Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote (see above)

yoghurt

 

Drain off the syrup and save for Rhubarb Lemonade. Whizz the compote to a smooth puree with yoghurt. Taste add a little of the rhubarb and strawberry syrup if necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

Laois

Recently I was invited back to my home county, Laois to an event to raise awareness of the burgeoning food scene. The day-long conference was entitled Connect 2 Laois Food Futures. The idea – to nurture start-ups and further support established food businesses in the county. For the past year local food and drink producers have been   availing of specialist training, mentoring and encouragement. A variety of speakers including James Bourke, Domini Kemp, Colin Jepson, and Paddy O’Connell shared their expertise brilliantly but what really blew me away was the variety and quality of producers and artisan foods now produced within the county, much of it organic or chemical free. Kevin Scully of The Merry Mill told me that he is Ireland’s first producer of organic gluten free oats, all grown, harvested and milled on his farm in Vicarstown.

I found absolutely, beautiful salad greens on Rachel Hardiman’s Seven Acres stall, all grown on from organic seed without any harmful chemicals and in ways that actively promotes soil fertility and respect the environment. This entrepreneurial family also do vegetables boxes, sauces and condiments and sell seedlings ready to transplant.

Hazel Refal and Heather Vaughan have spent months developing numerous vegetarian products for their company Run On Pulses. They make a Lentil pie, a Chickpea spinach stew and three type of burgers all made from a variety of pulses. I’m very wary of this type of product having tasted some less then appetising examples but each of these were deliciously spiced and really good.

 

Jimmy Mulhall of Coolanaule farm, well known and hugely respected on the organic food scene tells me that he is the only certified organic producer selling organic meat in the Dublin Farmers Markets. His ever growing numbers of customers are so grateful to be able to get organic beef, lamb and pork and poultry.

 

Michael Onalimi inspired sauces from The Jungle Food Co also impressed me greatly as did the Invis – a Veg, who have created a mixture of grated  vegetables to entice children to try and enjoy a greater variety of vegetables.

 

Castlewood Organic Farm and Shop was another pioneer on the Laois food scene as was Helen Gee who established Gee’s jams in 1998 in Abbeyleix and is now supported by her son Clive. Several chocolatiers tempted me with their handmade chocolates, Apoena, Coco Couture…

Home bakers, Agaboe Farm Foods and Kelly Loves Cakes had many temptations.

 

There was Rossmore ice-cream made from milk from their own herd of  Friesian cows.

Pigs On The Green had free-range pork from outdoor pigs reared on their own farm. They too do a range of sausages and dry cure rashers, so no excuse not to have a brilliant real Irish breakfast in any hotel café or B&B in County Laois.

Free range eggs from Grantstown Family Farm in Ballacolla. Irish Pietmontese beef also has quite a following for their Bord Bia approved beef.

 

Paddy O’Connell’s range of Paddy O’s granolas and breakfast cereals made with Irish grown oats are now sold country wide as is their flax seed, the only certified organic flax seed company in Ireland.

Lots of drinks too, a variety of milks from The Village Dairy. Artisan beers from 12 Acres Brewing Company, in Ballykilcavan and Cream liqueur  and gin from Sean Teach Ltd.

 

I loved the Elderflower Cordials and Elderberry from Richmont Cordial Company

 

The Skinny Chef from Portlaoise was justifiably proud of his range of pesto sauces and chutney. Can you imagine all of that and more products in development all proudly displayed in the ballroom at the Heritage Killenard Hotel near  Portarlington, Co Laois.

Now a few recipes inspired by the gastronomic revolution in County Laois, Cork watch out…..

 

Spring Green Salad with Ballymaloe French Dressing

A salad of Organic Leaves from Seven Acres Farm

For this salad, use a selection of lettuces and salad leaves, e.g. Butterhead, Iceberg, Raddichio, Endive, Chicory, Watercress, Buckler leaf, Sorrel, Rocket leaves and Purslane.  Tips of purple sprouting broccoli are also delicious and if you feel like something more robust, use some finely-shredded Savoy cabbage and maybe a few shreds of red cabbage also.

French Dressing

2fl ozs (50ml) red wine vinegar

6fl ozs (150ml) olive oil or a mixture of olive and other oils. eg. sunflower and arachide

1 level teaspoon mustard (Dijon or English)

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons honey

1 scallion or small spring onion

sprig of parsley

sprig of watercress

1 level teaspoon salt

few grinds of pepper

 

First, make the dressing.

 

Put all the ingredients into a blender and run at medium speed for 1 minute approximately or mix oil and vinegar in a bowl, add mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and mashed garlic and honey. Chop the parsley, spring onion and watercress finely and add in. Whisk before serving.

 

Wash and dry the lettuces and other leaves very carefully in a large sink of cold water.  If large tear into bite sized pieces and put into a deep salad bowl.  Cover with cling film and refrigerate if not to be served immediately.  Just before serving toss with a little dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten.  Serve immediately.

 

Note:  Green Salad must not be dressed until just before serving, otherwise it will be tired and unappetising.

Spatchcock Chicken

 

A brilliant way to serve chicken – faster to cook and basis for a myriad of different flavours – fresh spices, chilies ….

 

Serves 6-8

 

1 free-range organic chicken

salt and freshly ground pepper

chopped rosemary or thyme leaves

extra virgin olive oil or butter

a few cloves of garlic

 

Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as possible.

 

Open the bird out as much as possible.  Slash each chicken leg two or three times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast on the barbeque or in a preheated oven 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately.

 

Note: Cook the chicken on a wire rack over a roasting tin of roast potatoes or vegetables.

 

Carve and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves and a herb mayonnaise.

 

Good things to serve with spatchcock chicken:

Vedura mista and homemade mayonnaise and basil pesto

Roasted Fennell, Potatoes, Pickled Lemon, Saffron and Yoghurt

Rosemary Oil

 

 

Garbanzada (Chickpea Stew)

A fantastic one-pot chickpea dish for a party …..

 

Serves 10-12 as a tapa

 

1lb (450g) dried chickpeas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

1 green pepper, diced into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

6 cloves of garlic, cut in half

8 whole black peppercorns

225ml (8fl ozs) medium dry sherry

175g (6ozs) streaky pork in the piece, rind on

175g (6ozs) streaky bacon in the piece, rind on

175g (6ozs) cooking chorizo

175g (6ozs) morcilla or black pudding

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon homemade tomato purée

1 large sprig of thyme

2 bay leaves

1.5-1.8 litres (2 1/2 – 3 pints) homemade chicken stock

 

Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water overnight. Next day, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion, peppers, garlic and whole peppercorns.  Cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the sherry and allow to boil.  Put in the pork, bacon, chorizo and morcilla.  Add the smoked paprika, tomato purée, thyme and bay leaves.  Stir to mix.  Strain the chickpeas and add to the pot.  Next add the 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) chicken stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and cook for 1 hour.  Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are cooked.  When the chickpeas are tender, remove the meats.  Take the rind off the bacon and pork, discard and cut the meat into chunks.  Peel the chorizo and morcilla and cut into slices.  Mix everything together and serve in little dishes with crusty bread.

 

 

Jersey Milk Ice-Cream with Rose Cottage berries

There is the world of difference when one uses fresh vanilla bean pods to flavour the whole milk. Scrape out the seeds so the ice-cream is flecked with vanilla. Most processed foods use fake vanilla or vanilla essence – not at all the same thing.

Makes 1 pint

 

This is wonderfully rich ice-cream

 

1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

6fl oz (175ml) whole milk

4 organic egg yolks

2 1/2oz (62g) sugar

6fl oz (175ml) rich cream, cold

Fresh berries in season from Rose Cottage

 

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the bean pod and the milk.   Heat to just below the boiling point and remove from the heat.   Cover and allow to steep for 10 minutes.  Remove the bean pod and scrape again to release every bit of flavour.  Add the scrapings to the milk and discard the pod.

 

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.  Add warm milk gradually, stirring constantly until all the milk is added.  Return to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon (170º-175º).

 

Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the custard into the cream.

Mix well, then chill thoroughly and freeze.

 

Freeze according to the directions of your ice-cream machine.

 

Serve with Rose Cottage Summer berries in season or poached quamqkuats  at the moment.

Ballymaloe Chocolates

110g (4oz) chocolate

24-30 sweet paper cases

 

Chocolate Ganache

110g (4oz) best quality dark chocolate

150ml (5fl oz) cream

1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon rum or orange liqueur

 

Garnish

Crushed praline or crystallized violets or unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

First make the chocolate cases. Melt the chocolate until smooth in a very low oven or in a bowl over simmering water. Put 2 paper cases together and spread melted chocolate evenly over the inside of the paper case with the back of a teaspoon. Check that there are no ‘see through’ patches when you hold  them up to the light, if there are, spread a little more chocolate in that area, stand the paper cases in deep bun tins to keep the sides upright. Chill until they set hard, carefully peel the paper off the cases (it is a good idea to do a few extra cases to allow for accidents!).

 

Put the cream in a heavy-bottomed, preferably stainless steel saucepan and bring it almost to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. With a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate into the cream until it is completely melted. Transfer the chocolate cream to the bowl of a food mixer and allow it to cool to room temperature. Add the liqueur and whisk until it is just stiff enough to pipe.

 

To Assemble: Using a piping bag and a 3/8 inch star nozzle pipe a rosette of the mixture into peeled chocolate cases. Decorate each one with a little crushed praline or a crystallized violet leaf or a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

Ballymaloe Chocolates with Raspberries

Put a little blob of whipped cream and some raspberry coulis into each chocolate case.  Top with a fresh raspberry and maybe a little leaf of fresh mint.

Sue’s Hazelnut Whirls

Place one toasted hazelnut in each of the chocolate cases.  Pipe a rosette of ganache on top.  Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder.

 

 

 

Eggs

Hopefully all those chocolate Easter eggs have been nibbled away by now, if not chop up the remainder and add it to a batch of chocolate chip cookies or scones with some hazelnuts. You could even melt it down to make some chocolate sauces to drizzle over crêpes or ice cream. But in this column I am going to concentrate on eggs from happy lazy hens of the feathered kind.

Eggs are truly a super food, every cooks best friend. Unsurprisingly they are having their moment again particularly in the US. This was very evident on both the West and East coast of America. In virtually every restaurant and café, eggs were starring on the menu in some shape or form, not just for breakfast and brunch. Even food carts and food trucks were serving eggs in many guises.

In Portland, I loved the food cart in Pioneer Courthouse Square called “Fried Egg I’m in Love”, manned by a cheery chap selling a range of fried egg sandwiches, all with ‘punny’ names like Yolko Ono, Egg Zeplin and Sriracha mix-a-lot. Each sandwich has a fried egg, sometimes two…The eggs are sourced from local farms and all sandwiches are served on toasted sourdough, cooked “easy-over medium” and sprinkled with a special spice blend called Magic egg dust.
Another cart in downtown Portland invited customers to Build Your Own Omelette with delicious veggie or protein options on a croissant or bagel incorporating local seasonal ingredients and fresh herbs.

 

Other trucks did a range of poached or scrambled egg dishes and I loved the sound of  Eggs Travaganza, at the corner of 52nd Street and Park in Midtown, New York,  long queues for Mexican egg wraps, burritos, egg tacos….

I also heard good things about the Egg Tosti (version of egg and cheese toast) from Steel Cart. Last week I mentioned Daily Provisions on East 19th Street, Lower Manhattan my favourite new breakfast spot. There’s a constant queue for their breakfast gougères and breakfast egg sandwiches served on a brioche bun. Egg toasts were served on sourdough with a variety of toppings, sprezzatura and jam, English muffin with ricotta and smoked salmon, bacon, egg, spinach and hot sauce…..lots of hot sauce everywhere….

 

Avocado Toast with Labneh, Chorizo Crumbs and a Poached Egg on the side

 

Serves 1

 

1 slice of sourdough bread

extra virgin olive oil

rocket leaves

½ ripe avocado

parsley.

 

Chorizo Crumbs:

4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

125g chorizo, peeled and cut into 5mm dice

100g coarse breadcrumbs

 

1 tablespoon labneh

3 cucumber strips or diagonal chunks, seasoned with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar (makes more than needed but keep in a box)

a few drops of best quality white wine vinegar

1 fresh free range organic egg

 

Segment of lemon or lime

 

First make the chorizo crumbs: Put the oil into a cool pan, add the diced chorizo.  Toss on a low heat until the oil starts to run and the chorizo begins to crisp.  Careful it’s easy to burn the chorizo, drain through a metal sieve, save the oil and return to the pan.

 

Increase the heat, add coarse breadcrumbs and toss in the chorizo oil until crisp and golden.  Drain and add to the chorizo.

 

Chorizo crumbs are a brilliant resource, keep them in a covered box in the fridge. Great sprinkled over cauliflower or mac and cheese, soup…

 

Season the cucumber strips or diagonal chunks of cucumber with a few drops of vinegar, salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar.

 

Pan grill or toast the sourdough, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Lay a few rocket leaves on a plate and pop the slice of sourdough on top.

 

Scoop out the avocado from the skin and lay on top of the sourdough cut side upwards. Add a dollop of labneh to the plate and fill the cavity with a little labneh and sprinkle lots of warm chorizo crumbs over the avocado  and add a poached egg and some cucumber to the plate. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and add a segment of lime or lemon

 

Serve ASAP

 

 

Crispy Potatoes, Fried Eggs and Spring Onions

 

 

An irresistible but comforting brunch. The crispy capers add a delicious zing but are optional.

 

Serves 1

2-3 cooked potatoes, depending on size

extra virgin olive oil

2 organic free range eggs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 spring onions

5-7 capers, fried until crisp

 

Peel the cooked potatoes and cut into ¾ inch slices. Heat a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil or bacon fat in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the potatoes, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until crisp and golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer onto a hot serving plate. Keep hot.

 

Heat some more olive oil in a clean pan. Add the capers and cook until crisp, 1-2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. Fry the eggs, sunny side up (or easy over, as you please).

 

Lay on top of the fried potatoes, side by side.

 

Sprinkle with lots of green spring onion tops, sliced at an angle.

 

Top with a few crispy capers; add a few flakes of sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper.

 

Serve ASAP

Egg and  Sausage, Melted Gouda and Hot Sauce in a Brioche Bun

A perfect breakfast or brunch inspired by Daily Provisions on East 19th Street in New York

 

 

Serves 8

 

8 brioche buns with poppy seeds sprinkled on top

8 sausage patties, see below,

8 organic eggs, (1 egg omelette per bun)

 

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

100g to 175g (4oz-6 oz) Gouda, grated

 

Hot tomato and chili sauce, see below or use your favourite brand…

 

 

Homemade Sausage Patties:

 

(Makes 8 large patties)

 

225g (1/2 lb) good, fat streaky pork (rindless)

1 tablespoon mixed fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram and a little rosemary)

30g (1 1/4oz) soft white breadcrumbs

1 small garlic clove

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small  organic egg (optional – helps to bind – reduce breadcrumbs to 50g/2oz if omitting egg)

dash of oil for frying

 

 

First make the sausage patties:

Mince the pork at the first or second setting, depending on the texture you like. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the breadcrumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Whisk the egg, and then mix into the other ingredients thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the seasoning. Correct if necessary. Divide in 8 and flatten into patties. Keep covered and chilled.

 

To serve, split the brioche bun in half but keep attached at one side.

 

Fry the pork patty in a hot pan in a little extra olive oil while you quickly make a 1 egg omelette.

 

Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Whisk the egg, add a little dash of milk,  flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add a little clarified butter to the pan, when sizzling add the egg, tilt the pan and quickly make an omelette and fold.

Sprinkle a layer of grated cheese onto the base of the bun and pop under a grill. When the cheese has melted top with the pork patty and the omelette. Drizzle generously with the hot sauce, fold over the brioche and serve ASAP on a square of parchment.

 

 

Tomato and Chilli Sauce

 

30g (1oz) green chillies, deseeded and chopped, or 2-3 depending on size

1 red pepper, deseeded and cut in 3 inch (2cm) dice.

2 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

1 clove of garlic , crushed

1 dessertspoon castor sugar

1 dessertspoon soft brown sugar

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablepsoons water

 

First make the sauce.  Put the chillies, pepper, tomatoes and garlic into a stainless steel saucepan with the sugar, vinegar and water.  Season and simmer for 10 minutes until reduced by half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omelette Arnold Bennett

Serves 1-2 as a main course

 

Omelette Arnold Bennett was created in the 1920s by the chefs at the Savoy Hotel to commemorate author and playwright Bennett writing his novel, Imperial Palace, whilst staying at the Savoy this dish should be a true British classic.

This delicious omelette would also be very good made with smoked salmon or smoked mackerel.

 

50-75g (2-3oz) smoked haddock

a little milk

25g (1oz) butter

150ml (5fl oz) cream

3 eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

 

Garnish

parsley, freshly chopped

 

25.5cm (10 inch) omelette pan, preferably non-stick

 

Put the smoked haddock into a small saucepan.  Cover with milk and simmer gently until it is cooked enough to separate into flakes (about 10 minutes).  Drain.  Toss the haddock over a moderate heat with half the butter and 2 tablespoons of the cream and keep aside.  Separate the eggs, beat the yolks with a tablespoon of the cream and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Whip the egg whites stiffly.  Fold into the yolks with the haddock and add half the grated Parmesan cheese.

Melt the remaining butter in the omelette pan.  Pour the mixture in gently and cook over a medium heat until the base of the omelette is golden.  Spoon the remaining cream over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the finely grated Parmesan. Pop under a hot grill for a minute or so until golden and bubbly on top.  Serve in the pan or slide on to a hot dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately accompanied by a good green salad.

 

 

 

 

 

New York

Rory O’Connell and I were over in the US for St Patricks Day doing our bit to spread the word about the exciting renaissance on the Irish food scene and the many good things that are happening over here. I was also promoting my latest book,  Grow, Cook, Nourish and Rory was in big demand because his TV programme Eat Well, Cook Well is about to be shown on PBS sponsored by Kerrygold. I was delighted to see Irish butter selling not just in every good supermarket and grocery but actually named on many menus, being served alongside the best sourdough breads from the She Wolf Bakery in Brooklyn.

The New York food scene continues to get more and more exciting. My favourite new breakfast spot is Daily Provisions on East 19th Street between Park Avenue and Irving. It is owned by Danny Meyer of Shake Shack and Union Square Café fame and is next door to the latter. Loved the crisp gougère filled with flavoured scrambled eggs. The Green Egg version with spinach, Pepperjack cheese and fresh herbs was super delicious as was the cremini mushroom and Gruyère one. I ate there three mornings in a row to taste as many of their dishes as possible and bought two of their flaky, buttery Kouign-Amann for a picnic on the plane.

Ignacio Mattos’s, Estela has been a favourite of mine for several years but this time I tried one of his new places, Café Altro Paradiso on Spring Street between 6th Avenue and Varick Street close to Houston Hall where FarePlate NY was showcasing many Irish food and drink products. Flahavans Oatmeal were there as were Mash Direct and Irish Peat Wine, the latter was a new find for me.

I loved the small plates in Café Altro Paradiso, a modern take on Italian food. We were blown away by the shaved fennel salad with Castelvetrano green olives and Provolone, the very best and freshest fennel salad any of us had ever tasted. I was longing for the exact recipes.

Guess what, I found it on the Bon Appetit website on the internet so there you are.

We also shared a Gloucester Old Spot pork chop with lots of sweet and juicy fat, caramelised fennel and butterbeans. The free range pork came from The Flying Pigs Farm on the shores of the Battenkill River in Washington County.

They also have a stall in the Union Square Farmers Market, another ‘can’t miss’ on Saturdays in New York but there is a smaller version on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The market has fantastic produce from dedicated organic farmers and artisan producers from Upstate New York and the Hudson Valley. Cervos on Canal Street on the Lower East Side takes its inspiration from coastal Spain and Portugal serving seafood centric small plates and pasture raised meats. I don’t think they take bookings but pop in and sit at the bar and have the extra bonus of watching the bartenders mixing cocktails and the young chefs doing their magic with beautiful produce and spanking fresh fish and shellfish. Stand out dishes for me were the fried green beans with anchovy dressing, the watercress salad with fresh horseradish and yet another gorgeous fennel salad with mussels, beans and pistachios.  The vanilla pudding with oranges and slivered almonds is now an iconic dessert.

Via Carota is another name for your list but most exciting of all was King on the corner of King Street owned by the Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt whose delicious dishes are wooing New York diners. We ate there with David Tanis and Madhur Jaffrey and several other well known foodies and had one memorable dish after another. A castle of feather light carta musica drizzled with rosemary olive oil, panisse with crispy sage leaves and a huge roast halibut with rosemary and lemon, enough to feed the entire table served with white beans drizzled with the finest extra virgin olive oil from Cappezana.

Next day, the word came through that Claire de Boer had been selected as a finalist in the 2018 James Beard awards as Rising Star Chef of the Year, Rory and I couldn’t have been prouder of our student and Ignacio Mattos was also shortlisted for Best New York Chef, as was Jody Williams of I Sodi and Via Carota, two more of my favourite haunts. Alta, an all day Mexican, owned by Enrique Olvera is also making waves but even though it is being lauded to the rooftops it didn’t push my buttons as much as the others did, nonetheless I loved the simple quesadillas with tomatillo salsa. There is so much choice in New York, and so much on my list that I couldn’t make it to, so if you are over there do check out:

  • Flora Bar in King County
  • Imperial for Chinese soup with dumplings.
  • St Anselm for steak
  • Otis – new American food
  • Eataly – several restaurants and superb produce, still excellent.

That list, ought to keep even the most ardent foodie blissed out and then there are all the new butcher shops, groceries and artisan bakers. I will have to save Brooklyn for another day…..

 Breakfast Gougère with mushrooms and Pepper Jack Cheese

Pepper Jack is a derivative of Monterey Jack the original “American” cheese invented by Mexican Franciscan friars of Monterey, California. As the name suggests, the cheese is flavoured with sweet peppers, rosemary, habanero chillies and garlic and spicy jalapenos for an extra kick.

Daily Provisions also did a brilliant green Gougère with spinach and Pepperjack cheese scrambled egg.

serves 6

 

Choux pastry:

150g (5oz) strong flour (Baker’s flour)

225ml (8fl oz) water

pinch of salt

100g (3 1/2 oz) butter, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes

3-5 eggs depending on their size (free range if possible)

 

50g (2oz) Gruyère cheese, grated and some extra for sprinkling.

 

For the scrambled eggs:

4 organic eggs

2 tablespoons cream or full-cream milk

a knob of butter

flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

50g (2oz) Pepperjack cheese, grated (or grated cheddar with a pinch of chilli flakes and ½ a teaspoon of fresh rosemary or thyme.

225g (8 oz) mushrooms, diced.

 

 

First make the choux pastry.

 

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

 

Next make the choux pastry. Sieve the flour with the salt on to a piece of greaseproof paper.  Heat the water and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted, then bring to a rolling boil and take from the heat. Prolonged boiling evaporates the water and changes the proportions of the dough. As soon as the pan is taken from the heat add all the flour at once and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for a few seconds until the mixture is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan to form a ball. Put the saucepan back on to a low heat and stir for 30 seconds – 1 minute or until the mixture starts to fur the bottom of the saucepan. Cool for a few seconds.

 

Set aside one egg, break it and whisk it in a bowl.  Add the remaining eggs into the dough, one by one with a wooden spoon, beating thoroughly after each addition.  Make sure the dough comes back to the same texture each time before you add another egg. When it will no longer form a ball in the centre of the saucepan, add the beaten egg little by little, using just enough to make a mixture that is very shiny and drops rather reluctantly from the spoon in a sheet. Stir in the grated cheese. You may not need all of the reserved egg – if too much is added the dough cannot be shaped. (Choux pastry dough should just hold its shape when it’s piped).

 

Put the dough into a pastry bag with a 3/4 inch (2 cm) plain nozzle. Pipe 2 1/2 inch (6.5cm) rounds well apart on to a wet baking sheet. Brush each one carefully with egg wash and sprinkle with grated cheese.

 

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6. After 25 minutes pierce the side of each with a skewer to let out the steam and continue to cook until crisp, brown and irresistible.

 

Gougéres are best eaten warm, but they can be baked ahead and popped into the oven to warm through before serving. Gougére or choux pastry puffs up better if used immediately but it can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours before baking. Rub the surface with butter while the dough is still warm so it doesn’t form a skin. We also get very good results by freezing the uncooked choux puffs and baking from frozen next day.

 

 

To serve:

Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook on a low heat.

 

Break the eggs into a bowl, add the cream or milk and season with salt and ground black pepper. Whisk well until the whites and yolks are mixed well. Over a low heat, put a blob of butter into a cold saucepan, pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously, preferably with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, until the eggs have scrambled into soft creamy curds. Add the mushrooms and grated pepperjack cheese. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Split the gougére and fill with scramble egg mixture, alternatively fill the soft warm scrambled egg into a piping bag with a large plain nozzle and pipe into the side of each gougére.

Serve ASAP on a square of greaseproof paper on a warm plate.

 

 

Shaved Fennel Salad with Green Olives and Provolone

from Café Altro Paradiso

The freshest and most delicious fennel salad.

Serves 6

 

2 fennel bulbs, tough outer leaves discarded, bulbs, stems and fronds separated

200g (7oz) Castelvetrano green olives

Dressing:

50g (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons Forum Chardonnay vinegar or best white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest from an organic orange

pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 organic lemon

75g (3 oz) thinly shaved aged Provolone cheese

flaky sea salt

 

 

Trim the fennel bulbs, save the fronds.

 

Halve fennel bulbs lengthwise. Using a mandoline, shave fennel crosswise (you can use a knife, but the slices ought to be no thicker than ⅛”).

 

Transfer fennel to a large bowl.

 

Coarsely chop fennel fronds (you want about ⅓ cup) and add to bowl.

 

Crush olives with a flat-bottomed cup or side of a chef’s knife and remove the stones.

Coarsely chop olives (you want big, chunky pieces). Add olives, oil, vinegar, orange zest, and red pepper to bowl; season with kosher salt and black pepper, then toss to coat.

 

 

Zest one-quarter of lemon over. Halve lemon and squeeze in juice from both halves; season with flaky salt and toss to coat. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice, if needed.

 

Divide olive mixture among plates. Top with cheese to just cover olives. Arrange shaved fennel over so olive mixture is covered, then season with flaky sea salt and serve immediately.

 

Watercress Salad with Fresh Horseradish

 

I love the pepperiness of wild watercress but fresh farm  watercress would also be delicious here

 

Serves 4

 

4 handfuls of watercress

Dressing:

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon  Chardonnay white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

horseradish

 

Wash and dry the watercress sprigs, keep cool.

Meanwhile whisk the ingredients together for the dressing. Season and dip a sprig of watercress to check the balance.

 

To serve: sprinkle a little dressing over the watercress and toss, you’ll need just enough to make the leaves glisten.

Pop a serving into four deep bowls. Grate some fresh horseradish over the top. Serve

 

Swiss Chard Horta with Mani Olive Oil Lemon and Sea Salt

 Serves 4-6

 

1 lb Swiss chard

4 tablespoons Greek extra olive oil

2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

flaky sea salt and grated black pepper

 

Prepare and slice the chard in thin pieces and cook until just tender, drain well. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Season with salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and serve.

 

Citrus Salad with Pistachio, Dates, Pecorino di Fossa

A gorgeous fresh tasting salad.

Serves 4

 

1 pink or ruby grapefruit

1 blood orange

1 small red onion

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 Medjool dates, stoned

1 teaspoon raw honey

50 g (2 oz) pistachio nuts

4 to 8 leaves of radicchio

 

50g (2 oz) Pecorino di Fossa (optional)

flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

 

Slice the red onion very thinly on a mandolin, rinse under cold water and drain well.

 

Remove all the skin and pith from the grapefruit and the blood oranges. Cut the blood oranges into thin rounds, you’ll need 12slices. Segment the grapefruit and put into a bowl.

Add the thinly sliced red onion, toss gently and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and honey.  Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste….

Put three rounds of blood orange on each plate, plus three segments or half segments or grapefruit depending on size, scatter with a few pieces of red onion. Stone the dates and cut into three or four crosswise pieces. Add a couple of pieces to each plate and a few radicchio leaves.

Scatter some coarsely chopped pistachio nuts over the top, add a few shavings of pecorino if using and serve ASAP

 

 

Vanilla Cream with Blood Orange and Toasted Almonds

 

Serves 8-10

 

425ml (15fl oz/scant 2 cups) natural yoghurt

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) milk

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) cream

125g (4 1/2oz/generous 1/2 cup) castor sugar

2 vanilla pods,

2 teaspoons powdered gelatine

 

4-5 blood oranges or mandarins

110g (4oz) whole unskinned almonds

 

Garnish

fresh mint leaves

 

Put the milk, cream and vanilla pods into a stainless steel saucepan, stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.  Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

Remove the vanilla pods, split and add the seeds to the liquid.

 

Put 3 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) of cold water into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the water, allow to ‘sponge’ for a few minutes.  Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatine has melted and is completely clear.  Add a little of the infused milk mixture, stir well and then mix this into the rest.  Whisk the yoghurt lightly until smooth and creamy, stir into the remainder of the mixture.

 

Pour into a cold bowl and allow to set softly for several hours, preferably overnight.  Cover and refrigerate.

 

Toast the almonds in a moderate oven (160°C/315°F/Gas Mark 3) for 15-20 minutes stirring regularly.  Cook and slice coarsely.

 

Remove the peel and the pith from all of the blood oranges or mandarins.  Slice 2 or 3 into thin slices.  Segment the remainder and mix in a bowl, cover and keep refrigerated until needed.

 

To serve

Spoon a couple of large tablespoons of the wobbly cream into a wide shallow bowl.  Add a few segments and some slices of orange.  Scatter with toasted nuts and fresh mint leaves.

 

There’s lots of wild garlic in the woods right now, so bring a bag or basket on your next walk and gather enough to make wild garlic soup, wild garlic pesto, wild garlic frittata……

California

 Just back from a flying visit to California, a mini book tour with a few days in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Ojai (pronounced O hi)– a beautiful valley, north of Los Angeles, carpeted with orange and avocado groves and surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains,. Guess what I bought as a  present  oranges and avocados  from LA Central Market to my friends in Ojai. Talk about bringing “coals to Newcastle”.

This is spectacular, dramatic countryside, where last December, forests fires burnt for almost a month. Many were evacuated from their homes and later in January, a deluge caused mud slides to take everything in its path, including several peoples’ houses – lives were lost.

In Los Angeles, I was invited to appear on the Home and Family Channel to talk about my latest book, Grow, Cook, Nourish. I cooked one of my favourite easy peasy recipes, Tortillitas with Aioli, the crew absolutely loved them. I took the opportunity to spend a few days in LA, not nearly long enough.  One could easily spend two weeks and eat beautiful creative seasonal food for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had difficult choices to make with just four meal slots, I came straight from the airport at 9pm to meet some Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni at a restaurant called The Tasting Kitchen in Venice, a hip and happening area in LA. We shared 10 or 12 little plates of delicious, very Californian food; we loved the small little pillows of deep fried bread dough called gnocco fritto served with the San Daniele ham. Chef-owner Casey Lane is a name to watch.

I stayed in a hip boutique hotel called Mama’s Shelter, close to the Universal Studios, but you might want to try Chateau Marsan or ??

For breakfast I just wanted a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, “not possible”, they only had the scary orange “Freshly squeezed” juice that gets delivered every day. On the counter there were several bowls of oranges piled high so I asked if they could halve a few so I could squeeze them myself. “Afraid not, they’re plastic” – only in California which grows thousands of acres of beautiful citrus….

No Farmers Markets on while I was in town but I greatly enjoyed nosing around Grand Central Market which has a new lease of life in the last few years since 1917.

Eggslut, great name serves breakfast all day on the Broadway side of the Market to hundreds of people daily. Eggs in many ? their signature dish, The Slut, a coddled egg on top of smooth potato purée, cooked in a glass jar topped with gray salt and chives, served with slices of baguette is comfort food at its best.

Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich, made with hardwood smoked bacon, an over-medium egg, cheddar cheese and chipotle ketchup, served in a warm brioche bun is another  winner. And there’s much more. Check out Clark Street Bakery, Belcampo Builder, Sari Sari rice bowls, G & B Coffee, Tewasart Tacos – it’s a brilliant spot for the adventurous food lovers.

But what’s most interesting to me when I visit the US is the craving there is to find real food and the length people have to go to source it.

There’s a huge nutritional confusion and desperation among many, but of course not all, to find healthy wholesome food they can trust. Tons of money is invested in promoting super foods, free-from foods and supplements. The vegan – vegetarian and plant food movement is huge and growing and there are now some fabulously good restaurants and cafés serving exclusively vegan food, check out  ?? in LA.

Some of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten have been in the US, particularly California and this time was no exception.

At Chez Panisse in Berkley outside San Francisco Alice Waters made me a nettle pizza form the fresh new season’s growth.

At Boulette’s Larder beside the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco another memorable Turkish inspired pizza with minced lamb topping drizzled with yoghurt and tahini and scattered with feta, lots of flat parsley sprigs and a sprinkling of sumac.

 

Down in Los Angeles I made a pilgrimage to Nancy Silverston’s new Pizzeria Mozza and enjoyed a bubbly Pizza Bianco with Fontina mozzarella, sottocenere and sage  leaves from a long list of temptations  with  and so wished I had space for the tomato and zucchini blossom pizza.

Dessert was Mayer lemon gelato pit with champagne vinegar sauce This recipe for  ? was inspired but little pillows of deep fried dough served with  paper thin slivers of San Danielle ham at the Tasting Room in Venice LA.

This little combination of modern industrial coddled egg and potato puree was inspired by a visit to Egg Slut, the egg-centric food stand in Grand Central Market in LA. This irresistible nursery food  reminds me of my childhood and certainly seems to hit the spot for a whole new generation also to judge by the length of the queues

Egg Slut

This little combination of modern industrial coddled egg and potato puree was inspired by a visit to Egg Slut, the egg-centric food stand in Grand Central Market in LA. This irresistible nursery food  reminds me of my childhood and certainly seems to hit the spot for a whole new generation also to judge by the length of the queues

Serves 4

fluffy potato puree
4 beautiful organic  free range eggs (large)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

finely chopped chives

4-8 slices of toasted focaccia or sourdough bread

4 glass jars (size ?)

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil; put 2 heaped tablespoons of well-seasoned buttery potato puree in the base of each jar. Crack an egg into each jar.

Cover with the screw top lid. Bring back to the boil for 10-15 minutes

Remove the lids. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few finely chopped chives. Serve with a teaspoon and some toasted focaccia, sourdough or baguette to scoop up the little feast.

Mix the egg and potato together and slather on toast.

 

Tortillitas à la Patata

The crew of the Home and Family programme loved these little potato fritters which Sam and Jeannie Chesterton of Finca Buenvino in Andalucia, introduced me to. I keep wondering why it never occurred to me before, they are so easy to make and completely addictive – kids also love them and they make perfect little bites to nibble with a drink, preferably a glass of fino or manzanilla.

 

Makes 26

 

4 eggs, free range and organic

225g cooked potatoes in 5mm dice

3 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh parsley and chives

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

 

Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)

 

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

225ml oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 175ml arachide oil and 50ml olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

2 teaspoons of freshly chopped parsley (optional)

 

Extra virgin olive oil for frying, you will need about 5mm in the frying pan.

 

Maldon Sea salt for sprinkling.

 

 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the potato dice, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the freshly chopped herbs.

 

Heat about 5mm extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan on a high heat, cook a teaspoonful of mixture and taste for seasoning.

Correct if necessary.

Continue to cook the mini tortillas as needed, using a scant dessertspoon of the mixture. Allow to cook on one side for about seconds, flip over and continue to cook on the other side for a similar length of time, or until slightly golden.

Drain on kitchen paper.  Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt.

Serve hot, or at room temperature with a blob of Aioli.

 

To make the Aioli

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, garlic salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Add the chopped parsley. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

 

If the aioli curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons  of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled aioli, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.

Nettle and Ricotta Pizza

 

At Chez Panisse in Berkley in California, Alice Waters incorporates local wild foods into her menu – I enjoyed this delicious pizza straight from the wood-burning oven on a recent trip.

 

Makes 1

 

75g (3ozs) pizza dough

fresh young nettles about 200g (7ozs)

1 clove garlic slivered or finely chopped

35g (1½ oz) fresh Mozzarella

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

25g (1oz) Ricotta or Ardsallagh goat cheese

 

Preheat the oven to 475F/250C/gas 9.

 

Preheat a heavy baking sheet in the oven.

 

Stretch or roll the dough into a thin round.   Sprinkle a little cornmeal onto a paddle.   Lay the pizza on top.  Brush with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with chopped garlic and roughly grated mozzarella.   Top with a mound of young nettles.  Mist generously with water, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and top with a few blobs of ricotta or Ardsallagh goat cheese.

 

Cook for 7-8 minutes depending on the intensity of the heat.

 

Remove from the oven, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve immediately with a few flakes of Maldon sea salt sprinkled over the top.

 

 

Nancy Silverston’s Mozza Lemon Gelato with crystallised lemon and champagne vinegar sauce

Serves 8

Crust

75g (3 oz) digestive biscuits, crushed

45g (1½ oz) butter

Filling

 

Lemon Gelato

1 free range egg

250ml (9fl oz) milk

110g (4oz) castor sugar

zest and juice of 1 good lemon

 

crystallised lemon strips

 

Tin – loose bottomed tin 8 x 3 inch (20.5 x 7.5cm)

 

Melt the butter and stir in the crushed biscuits, press into the mould in an even layer. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

 

To make the ice cream, separate the egg, whisk the yolk with the milk and keep the white aside. Gradually mix in the sugar. Carefully grate the zest from the lemon on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add with the zest to the liquid. Whisk the egg white until quite stiff and fold into the other ingredients. Freeze in a sorbetiere according to the manufacturer’s instructions or put in a freezer in a covered plastic container.

 

When the mixture starts to freeze, remove from the freezer and whisk again, or break up in a food processor. Then put it back in the freezer until it is frozen but still slushy. Pour into the crust, cover and freeze.

To serve remove form the freezer. Cut into pie shaped pieces. Serve on a chilled plate. Put a dollop of softly whipped cream on top. Add some crystallised lemon and drizzle with some champagne vinegar syrup. Enjoy.

 

Crystallized Lemon Peel

2 lemons

450ml (16fl oz) cold water

sugar syrup

champagne vinegar

 

Peel 2 lemons very thinly with a swivel top peeler, be careful not to include the white pith.  Put into a saucepan with the cold water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, cover with fresh water and repeat the process

 

Put the strips into a saucepan with the syrup made with 350g (12oz) sugar and 600ml (1 pint) water. Cook gently until the lemon julienne looks translucent or opaque.  Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on parchment paper or a cake rack. Allow to dry in a cool airy place.

Add two tablespoons of vinegar to the hot syrup, bring to the boil for two minutes. Taste, it should be bitter/sweet.

 

 

 

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