ArchiveJune 2018

La Grotta Ices

 

Kitty Travers, La Grotta Ices book has arrived just in time for us to catch some of the early Summer flavours that the undisputed ice-cream queen has captured in recipes that you and I can make right now. Forget the hackneyed flavours and scary colours we’ve become accustomed to,  think rhubarb and raspberry, rhubarb and angelica, blackcurrant leaf water ice, strawberry and elderflower, amalfi lemon jelly ice…

I first came across Kitty selling ice-cream from her little ice-cream cart in Maltby Street Market in 2009 You could choose either a cone or a little tub with a timber scoop. The flavours sang of Summer, the combinations original and the texture deliciously silky.

Kitty came to the Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2012 to share her magic and the story of how an ice-cream obsessed teenager eventually got to follow her dream. (It’s all in the introduction of La Grotta Ices). She brought her pacojet all the way from London by plane so she could show us how she achieved this enticingly smooth texture. A pacojet gives sublime results but you don’t need an expensive machine to make home-made ice-creams and sorbets and granitas. A freezer is of course essential, one can just freeze the mix in a bowl but you’ll need to whisk the icy granules every 30 to 40 minutes. Possible, but definitely a bit laboursome, so next step up is one of those ice-cream machines where you store the ‘churn’ in the freezer overnight before use. Many of the ‘small appliance’ electrical companies make them. They are inexpensive and certainly worth the expense if you enjoy making ice creams and sorbets.

An ice cream machine like Gaggia is more expensive and ever ready but difficult to justify the expense unless you do a lot of entertaining or have a small restaurant or café. Whichever option you choose you’ll need some superb recipes and beautiful ingredients.

The very best rich milk and cream, Jersey, Kerry or Guernsey are beautiful. Super ripe fruit, in season, vanilla extract – nothing fake.  No milk powder to make the texture creamier and more dense. No dextrose or trimoline to allow the ice-cream (or gelato, the Italian word for ice cream) to be more scoopable.

In Kitty’s opinion dry milk powder has a cooked taste that interrupts the sweet pure flavour of fresh cream and milk. It contains roughly 50% lactose compared with fresh milk which is 4.8%.

Skimmed milk powder is a prevalent ingredient in many processed foods even yoghurt, consequently many of us are consuming lactose in much higher quantities than we used to. Kitty wonders if that could be connected to the growing incidence of lactose intolerance – an interesting question…

 

Many of Kitty’s ice creams are made on custard flavoured bases, cooked to no higher than 82°C and then ‘aged’ overnight in a refrigerator at 4°C for at least four hours or better still overnight. Others are made just from milk with maybe a little cream and some tapioca or corn flour. All can be easily reproduced in a home kitchen.

 

Kitty is forever on the lookout for new flavours and flavour combinations. Carrot seed or green walnut apparently make a delicious ice-cream as do pea pods. Sounds unlikely but cucumber and sour cream is one of her customer’s favourite Summer ices – I love it too…

Kitty started in her own kitchen; she now has an Ice-Cream Shed in a converted greengrocers in a charming square in south London. She sells her ice-cream in just three shops in London, Leilas in Calvert Avenue, The General Store in Peckham and and E5 Bakehouse in Hackney. Kitty teaches ice cream classes at School of Artisan Foods in Nottinghamshire  www.schoolofartisanfood.org, but meanwhile rush out and buy Kitty’s book La Grotta Ices so you can enjoy all the flavours of Summer but there are many more delicious flavour combinations for every season – mare than just chocolate

 

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La Grotta Cucumber and Sour Cream

Novelty ice creams are fun to try the first time but unless you want to lick the bowl clean they don’t get added to my list of favourites. Nobody needs to have uneaten ice cream languishing in the freezer getting fish finger-y and frosty. Freezer space is important – you need some room for peas and ice cubes too!

I promise, though, that this recipe is no fad. It’s the most refreshing and pacifying of all ice cream flavours – what could be cooler? It has become a summer tradition, looked forward to – and not just by me.

Salting the cucumber first draws out excess water, concentrates the flavour and improves the texture of the ice cream. The salt should be barely discernable in the end result though. Incredible combined with Strawberry Salad and Dill Seed ice creams or on its own on a really sweaty day.

 

1 cucumber (about 500 g), home-grown or from a farmers’ market if possible (less watery)

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

325 ml whole milk

2 whole eggs

150 g sugar

300 ml sour cream

 

To prepare the ice cream: first peel your cucumber – use a vegetable peeler to remove all of the tough green skin. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and use a teaspoon to scrape out and discard the watery seeds. Dice the cucumber halves then toss them in a bowl with the sea salt. Tip into a colander in the sink to drip. After 20 minutes, rinse the cucumbers briefly in a bowl of cold water and set on a clean tea towel to drain. Chill in the fridge in a lidded container overnight.

 

Heat the milk in a non-reactive pan. Stir often using a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. Once the milk is steaming, whisk the whole eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl until combined.

 

Pour the hot milk over the eggs in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring all the time to avoid curdling the eggs, and keeping a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Add the sour cream to the custard and whisk it in – you can speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, scrape it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge.

 

To make the ice cream: the following day the cucumber will have expelled more water; pour this away then blitz the cucumber and custard together in a blender. Blitz for 2 – 3 minutes until very, very smooth – you don’t want any frozen lumps of cucumber in this ice cream. Use a small ladle to push the cucumber custard through a finemesh sieve or chinois into a clean container.

 

Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions, usually 20 – 25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of stiff whipped cream.

 

Scrape the ice cream into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air. Cover and freeze until ready to serve. Best eaten within a week.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett

 

La Grotta Rhubarb and Raspberry Ripple

This ice cream is prettiest when made with the slim stalks of forced rhubarb from Yorkshire’s magic “Rhubarb Triangle”. The candy-pink sticks transform into clouds of ice cream the colour of bubble-gum.

There’s more to this ice-cream than just retro appeal. The light earthy flavour of the rhubarb is set off with a tart twist of raspberry syrup.

 

150g frozen strawberries

220g sugar

500g forced rhubarb

zest and juice of 1 orange

175ml whole milk

175ml double cream

pinch of sea salt

3 egg yolks

 

To make the raspberry syrup: If you have a microwave, put the berries into a heatproof bowl with 60g of the sugar and simply blast them for a minute or two, until the fruit is very lightly cooked. Other-wise put into a pan with a tablespoon of water and simmer just until the raspberries soften and collapse and the sugar dissolves.

 

Once cooked, leave the berries to cool, and then blitz them with a stick blender. Push the purée through a sieve to remove the pips, squeezing hard to extract as much fruit as possible. Save the pips for pip juice, let the syrup cool and then chill it in the fridge overnight. (A night in the fridge will thicken the syrup considerably).

 

To make the rhubarb: rinse the rhubarb, top and tail the stalks, then slice into 3cm long pieces and place these into a non-reactive pan or heatproof bowl and add the orange zest and juice. Cook very gently until the fruit collapses, either on the hob or in a microwave. If using a pan keep a lid on and shake the pan every so often to prevent sticking. It should take about 10-15 minutes or 2-3 minutes covered in clingfilm in a microwave. Try to avoid boiling the rhubarb as with a sudden ‘ploof!’ it will quickly become stewed and pale mush. Leave to cool completely and then chill in the fridge.

 

To prepare the ice-cream: heat the milk, cream and salt together in a non-reactive pan. Stir often using a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. When the milk is hot, whisk the egg yolks and 160g sugar together until combined.

 

As the milk reaches simmering point, pour it in a thin stream over the yolks, whisking all the time. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring constantly to avoid curdling the eggs; keep a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove the pan from the heat and place into a sink of iced water to cool – you can speed up the cooling process by stirring it every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, cover with cling film and chill in fridge.

 

To make the ice-cream; add the chilled rhubarb to the cold custard and liquidise for 2-3 minutes until absolutely smooth. Push the rhubarb custard through a fine-mesh sieve of chinois into a clean container, discarding any leftover fibres.

 

Pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions, about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.

 

Working quickly, transfer the ice-cream into a suitable lidded container. Do this in layers, adding a generous layer of chilled raspberry syrup at each go then swirling with a spoon for a marbled effect. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.

 

Note- cooked rhubarb always benefits form sitting in the fridge overnight…it seems to intensify and draw out the beautiful pink juice.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett

 

La Grotta Pea Pod Ice-cream

In 2009 I was asked to make an ice cream to sell at the Art Car Boot Fair in London’s Bethnal Green, the theme that year was “recession special”. There were a lot of “credit crunchy” kind of flavours going on among cake bakers, but I wanted to try and make a cheap milk ice out of pea pods (pods are popping with sweet fresh flavour but are usually thrown away, and that seems a shame to waste.) I billed it as 100p ice cream and sold scoops for a pound a pop. It went down a storm and I still make it now in the summer – albeit a slightly more costly custard version. It’s delightful served with fresh strawberries or Garriguette Strawberry ice-cream on the side and a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.

 

400g very fresh peas in their pods

400ml whole milk

150ml double cream

small pinch of sea salt

4 egg yolks

130g sugar

 

To prepare the ice cream: wash the peas in their pods and then pod them, reserving the pods. Blanch the fresh podded peas in boiling water for 30 seconds and then refresh them in iced water to preserve their colour; drain and put them in the fridge, covered.

 

Heat the milk, cream and salt together, stirring occasionally. As soon as the liquid reaches simmering point, add the pea pods and simmer them for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and blitz the pods and liquidize them with a stick blender for a minute. Strain the mixture through a sieve, squeezing hard on the pods to extract as much flavour from them as possible. Discard the blitzed pea pods.

 

Wash the pan and pour the fragrant milk and cream mixture back into it. Bring it to a simmer. Stir often using a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. Once the liquid is hot and steaming, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a separate bowl until combined.

 

Pour the hot liquid over the yolks in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C. Stir constantly to avoid curdling the eggs, and keep a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is a room temperature, scrape it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.

 

To make the ice cream: the following day, add the blanched peas to the custard and liquidise with a stick blender for 2 minutes, or until it turns froggy green. Use a small ladle to push the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to ensure it is perfectly smooth.

 

Pout the custard into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the machine’s instructions, usually about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.

 

Scrape the ice cream into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve. Eat within a week.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett

 

La Grotta Sea Salt, Rosemary and Pine Nut

Sadly I can’t make this ice cream that often, because it annoys me too much the way people see the words ‘sea salt’ and literally screech to a halt in front of my ice cream van when it’s on the menu. What is it with sea salt? Sprinkle it on strawberry yoghurt if you love it that much – I’ll be just fine here with all the fresh peach ice cream which no one pays any attention to. Pine nuts though, I can get excited about. I’ve joined Facebook groups for them! Fatty and addictive, with a smokiness that pairs well with sweet and savoury flavours.

In this recipe, liberally salted pine nut brittle is stirred into freshly churned, rosemary scented caramel custard ice cream. I accept it’s utterly delicious. Try it served alongside Roast Chestnut Cremolata

 

120 g sugar

250 ml double cream

350 ml whole milk

Large pinch of sea salt 6 egg yolks 20 – 25 fresh rosemary leaves

For the pine nut and rosemary brittle

100 g pine nuts

100 g sugar

1 heaped teaspoon glucose syrup (makes caramel easier to manage)

20 g butter

15 g rosemary leaves

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

 

To make the pine nut and rosemary brittle: toast the pine nuts over a very low heat in a pan for 10 minutes, until warmed and just coloured, then pour them into a bowl and cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm.

 

Heat the sugar, glucose and a tablespoon of water together slowly in a pan until the grains of sugar have dissolved. Swirl the pan to mix; do not stir. Add the butter, bring the mix to the boil and boil steadily until it reaches 150°C on your digital thermometer.

Meanwhile, pick the rosemary leaves, adding them to the bowl of pine nuts along with the baking powder and sea salt, then mix well, ensuring there are no lumps of baking powder. Have a whisk or heat – proof spatula to hand.

 

As soon as the sugar reaches 150°C, or a dark caramel colour, tip the pine nut mix in and whisk well to combine. The mixture will bubble up because of the baking powder so use a long heatproof spatula or whisk to keep your hands safe from burns. Allow the nuts to toast to a pale gold colour in the caramel, then remove from the heat.

 

Pour the hot brittle evenly onto a silicone baking mat. Cover with another non-stick baking mat or a double sheet of buttered baking paper, and roll quickly and firmly with a wooden rolling pin to evenly spread the brittle into a half-centimetre layer. Leave to cool.

 

Break the brittle into large pieces and store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container, or roughly smash into chunks ready to add to the freshly churned rosemary-caramel ice cream.

 

To prepare the ice cream: sprinkle the bottom of a heavy-based pan (ideally stainless steel) with 100 g of the sugar in even layer. Place it over a medium heat and cook slowly and without stirring until it begins to melt and caramelise. Swirl the pan to achieve even caramelisation.

 

Cook the caramel to a dark colour until just smoking, then pour in the cream and milk to stop the cooking process. Add the sea salt and warm the liquids over a medium heat to dissolve the caramel, this may take 10 minutes. Stir but do not boil as you don’t want to evaporate the liquid too much. Once the caramel has dissolved, whisk the remaining 20 g sugar with the egg yolks until combined.

 

Pour the hot liquid over the yolks in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring all the time to avoid curdling the eggs and keeping a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove from the heat, add the fresh rosemary leaves and stir them in, then place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, transfer it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill.

 

To make the ice cream: the following day, use a small ladle to push the custard through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois into a clean container. Discard the rosemary leaves then liquidise the cold custard with a stick blender for a minute.

 

Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and the texture of whipped cream, about 20 – 25 minutes.

 

Transfer the ice cream to a suitable lidded container, sprinkling in generous handfuls of crushed pine nut brittle as you go (you will need about half the amount you made). Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.

 

Note – just in case you have any left, you can store any extra brittle between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. I always save silica gel sachets and slip one of these in too for good measure (to help keep the brittle crisp ).

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett

 

La Grotta Blackcurrant Leaf Water Ice

Trying the flavour of blackcurrant leaves for the first time is almost like finding out that a new colour exists. It’s a singular perfume…a bit like white acid drops…a bit like green leaves…reminiscent of exciting chemicals.

 

If this sounds weird, don’t let it put you off. It’s delicious enough to be up there as a fourth flavour, strawberry, chocolate and vanilla pale in comparison.

 

200g sugar

420ml water

30g blackcurrant leaf tips, freshly picked and rinsed

4 lemons, ideally unwaxed Amalfi

 

To prepare the water ice: gently heat the sugar and water together in a small pan to make a syrup, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring this syrup to a simmer, then remove it from the heat and add the blackcurrant leaves. Cover the pan with cling film and leave the syrup to cool in an iced water bath for about half an hour.

 

Zest and juice the lemons. Measure out 250ml of the juice (I’m sure you’ll find something to do with any that’s left over) then add this and the zest to the cool syrup. Stir then strain through a fine-mesh sieve, squeezing to extract as much liquid as possible form the blackcurrant leaves. Chill in the fridge.

 

To make the water ice: once the mix is chilled, give it a good stir and then pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and the texture of slushy snow, usually about 20-25 minutes.

 

Scrape the water ice into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.

 

Note – this is a water ice rather than a sorbet as it doesn’t have the “body” provided by a fruit purée. It will naturally be icy and a little ‘melty’ but intensely refreshing.

 

Variation – make a delicious refreshing Bunch of Fresh Herbs sorbet by replacing the blackcurrant leaves with 30g fresh soft green herbs or blossoms of your choice. I like to experiment with dill, parsley, basil, chervil, mint or anise hyssop. Even a few honeysuckle, calendula or sweet pea blossoms make a nice addition (maybe not chives). Chop them up finely and add to the hot sugar syrup, then steep for 20 minutes in an ice bath before straining out and proceeding as above.

 

Alternatively, omit the blackcurrant leaves entirely and follow the method above to make a classic Lemon sorbet. It’s nice to add the fresh zest of 1 lemon to the mix before churning for visual appeal – otherwise real lemon sorbet has the misfortune to look like mashed potatoes.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett

 

La Grotta Peach Leaf Milk Ice

 

Like a magic trick, peach leaves appear to be completely flavourless until they are scalded in hot milk for a very specific amount of time (see note). At this point they deliver their extraordinary characteristic– the flavour of crisp toasted almond biscuits. Wow your party guests by live demo-ing this ice cream for them. Wow yourself every time you make it at home!

 

Getting hold of the leaves may prove tricky – I buy bags of them from a stall at Brixton Farmer’s Market, where amazingly a few small knobbly (and slightly green) Sussex-grown peaches are sold each Summer. Or find your own tree: peach trees are notoriously difficult to bear fruit but if you find someone who has a tree they are unlikely to miss a dozen or so leaves if you ask nicely.

 

This recipe employs the use of a simple milk base, thickened with a natural vegetable starch so as not to interfere with the pure taste of peach leaf. A surprising and refreshing ice, delicious with a side of lightly sugared, sliced stone fruit.

 

160g sugar

15g tapioca starch or cornflour

550ml while milk

100ml double cream

15-20 fresh peach leaves

 

To prepare the milk ice: prepare a sink full of iced water, and a timer set to time 3 minutes. Have a clean bowl ready with a fine mesh sieve set over it. In a bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the tapioca starch or cornflour.

 

Heat the remaining sugar with the milk and cream in a pan over a low heat, stirring often with a whisk or silicone spatula to prevent it catching. Once the liquid is hot and steaming, pour it into the bowl containing the starch. Whisk constantly to combine it well without lumps forming.

 

Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat, whisking constantly just until it starts to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the peach leaves then cover the pan tightly with cling film and place in a sink full of iced water to cool. Start the timer.

 

After exactly 3 minutes remove the pan and pour the mix through the sieve. Squeeze hard to extract as much flavour as possible from the peach leaves. You should see a tint of pale acid green seep into the mix with the last squeezes. Discard the remaining leaves.

 

Return the pan to the sink to cool completely before covering and chilling in the fridge overnight.

 

To make the milk ice: the following day, liquidise the peach leaf mixture with a stick blender for 1 minute; this will help liquefy the mix.

 

Pour the mix into an ice cream machine. Churn according to the machine’s instructions, about 20-25 minutes, or until frozen and the texture of whipped cream.

 

Scrape the milk ice into a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve. This ice will keep for a few days but is best eaten straight away – as the recipe contains no egg yolk and very little cream it freezes quite hard and can become icy otherwise.

 

Note- it’s vital that you use a timer for this so that the peach leaves are steeped for no more than 3 minutes precisely – any longer and the flavour changes completely, to one of over ripe compost.

 

Variations – make a clean and pure tasting Fig Leaf Milk Ice by following the recipe above and replacing the peach leaves with 2 large or 3 small fresh fig leaves.

 

Make Pea Pod Milk Ice by simmering 350g shelled pea pods for 3-4 minutes in the milk and cream mixture (before you add the starch), then blitz with a stick blender and strain before returning the mix to a clean pan. Bring to steaming point and then pour over the starch in the bowl and continue as above.

From La Grotta Ices by Kitty Travers, published by Penguin Random House. Photography by Grant Cornett

 

Myrtle Allen

By the time you read this column on Saturday, the news of Myrtle Allen’s passing will be well known. She was 94 and up to very recently was ‘hale and hearty’ although age had dimmed her brilliant intellect in recent years. What a legacy my beautiful mother-in-law has left us all. Loved by her extended family and staff, her six children and spouses, twenty two grandchildren and thirty six great-grandchildren, virtually all of whom live within forty five minutes of Ballymaloe.

What an inspiration, this gentle woman who couldn’t cook a thing when she got married at the age of nineteen to Ivan Allen, a handsome young farmer from East Cork has been to all of us. They used to joke that they learned ‘a lot’ about each other on their honeymoon, she realised that he played a bridge a lot and he discovered she couldn’t cook at all, so the story goes that he taught her how to scramble eggs when they arrived home to Shanagarry from their honeymoon on Caragh Lake in Co. Kerry.

From then on she was determined to teach herself how to cook, convinced of the importance of delicious wholesome nourishing food for the health and happiness of her family and to delight her husband who loved and appreciated every delicious morsel and encouraged her attempts to master each new recipe.

I love this quote from the Ballymaloe Cookbook which she wrote in 1977, still in print after 41 years. “I was many years married before I first triumphantly put a really good brown soda bread loaf on the tea tables. Of course, this brought me no prose, only a few disillusioned grunts about the pity it was I had taken so long to learn the art!

 

In 1964 when all of her children except her youngest daughter Fern were boarding in Newtown School in Waterford, she decided to open a restaurant in the dining room of the family home in Ballymaloe House in the midst of a farm in East Cork, an extraordinary thing to do at that time when it was unheard of to open a restaurant outside a town of city. At that time it was called The Yeats Room, because it contained Ivan’s collection of Jack Yeats paintings.  From the beginning, she wrote the menu every day depending on what produce was in season in the garden and on the farm and what lovely fresh fish was landed by the boats in Ballycotton. She cooked and served the food simply so the beautiful fresh flavours of the produce shone through.

She was much loved too by the huge network of farmers and artisan producers, local butchers, cheese makers, fish-smokers, greengrocers and foragers from whom she sourced for Ballymaloe and always made sure they were paid well for producing top quality produce.

Myrtle served children’s tea at Ballymaloe House for all the guest children with home-made lemonade and delicious fresh fish and crispy hand-cut chips and many other really good things that children loved. Before supper she organised for the little ones to collect the freshly laid warm eggs from the nests for their, very own boiled egg with soldiers – many  now ‘grown up’ Ballymaloe Guests have happy memories ….

I’ve just realised the date, June 16th 2018…By sheer coincidence, 50 years ago today, I arrived at Ballymaloe House to work with Myrtle Allen …how fortunate am I that our paths crossed in life. I’ve chosen a few quintessential recipes that will always remind me of Myrtle.

Ballymaloe Chicken Liver Pâté

 

Serves 10-12 depending on how it is served.

 

This recipe has certainly stood the test of time, it has been the Pâté Maison at Ballymaloe House since the opening of the restaurant in 1965 but Myrtle also made it for family and guests for many years previous to the opening of The Yeats Room

 

225g (8oz) fresh organic chicken livers

2 tablespoons) brandy

200-300g (8-12oz) butter (depending on how strong the chicken livers are)

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 large clove garlic, crushed

freshly ground pepper

 

Clarified Butter to seal the top

 

Wash the livers in cold water and remove any membrane or green tinged bits. Dry on kitchen paper.

Melt a little butter in a frying pan; when the butter foams add in the livers and cook over a gentle heat.  Be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty; all trace of pink should be gone.   Add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves to the pan, stir and then de-glaze the pan with brandy, allow to flame or reduce for 2-3 minutes. Scrape everything with a spatula into a food processor.  Purée for a few seconds.  Allow to cool.

 

Add 225g (8oz) butter. Purée until smooth.  Season carefully, taste and add more butter, cut into cubes if necessary.

 

This pâté should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. Put into pots or into one large terrine.   Tap on the worktop to knock out any air bubbles.

 

Clarify some butter and spoon a LITTLE over the top of the pâté to seal.

Serve with melba toast or hot white bread.   This pate will keep for 4 or 5 days in a refrigerator.

 

Watchpoint: It is essential to cover chicken liver Pâté with a layer of clarified or even just melted butter, otherwise the pâté will oxidize and become bitter in taste and grey in colour.

 

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

Many guests will recognise this bread, now synonymous with Ballymaloe House. Myrtle loved to pass on the recipe and techniques of this nourishing loaf that involved no kneading and only one rising and has been a staple on Ballymaloe tables since the 1950’s, well before the start of the restaurant.

 

Makes 1 loaf

 

400g (14oz) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz) strong white flour

425ml (15floz) water at blood heat

1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses

1 teaspoon salt

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

 

sesame seeds – optional

 

1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8inch) approx.

sunflower oil

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water (9fl oz/275ml), into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead.   Allow to sit in the bowl for 7-10 minutes (time varies depending on room temperature).   Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tin with a good sunflower oil.  Scoop the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. Just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for another 40-50 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges.

 

We usually remove the loaf from the tin about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there’s no need to do this.

 

Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.

Baked Plaice, Dover Sole with Herb Butter

Myrtle devised this recipe for cooking the Summer plaice from Ballycotton on the bone for maximum flavour. It could be served with or without a herb butter or a rich sauce.

This is a very simple but inspired ‘master recipe’ for plaice and sole but also 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. Needless to say it is also delicious with Hollandaise Sauce.

 

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.

 

 

 

Balloons

My mother-in-law, Myrtle Allen, made these for her children, and has passed on the recipe to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They’ve also been a favourite at children’s tea at Ballymaloe for over 50 years. They cook into funny little shapes, uneven in texture, and can look like little monsters which amuses the children and create lots of fun.

 

Makes about 10 balloons

 

150g (5oz/generous 1 cup) white flour

2 teaspoons caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 level teaspoon baking powder

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) or more full-cream milk

extra caster sugar or cinnamon sugar (granulated sugar mixed with a little ground cinnamon) to coat

 

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix to a thick batter (dropping consistency) with milk.

 

Preheat a deep-fryer to 190°C (385°F).

 

Take a heaped teaspoonful of the mixture and push it gently off with your finger so that it drops in a round ball into the fat. Fry until puffed and golden. Remove and drain. Repeat the process until you have used up all the batter.

 

Roll the balloons in caster sugar or cinnamon sugar and serve at once.

 

Delicious with sweet apple sauce flavoured with a little cinnamon, and a bowl of pastry cream for dipping.

 

 

Ballymaloe Ice Bowl

I remember how thrilled Myrtle was when her attempts to make an ice bowl to keep the ice cream chilled on their famous sweet trolley at Ballymaloe House was finally successful.

“It took me twelve years to find the solution to keeping ice cream cold on the sweet trolley in my restaurant.   At first we used to unmould and decorate our ices on to a plate.  This was alright on a busy night when they got eaten before melting.  On quieter occasions the waitresses performed relay races from the dining-room to the deep freeze.  I dreamed about 19th Century ice boxes filled from ice houses, to my husband’s increasing scorn, and then I thought I had a solution.   A young Irish glass blower produced beautiful hand-blown glass cylinders which I filled with ice-cream and fitted into beautiful tulip shaped glass bowls.  These I filled with ice cubes.  Six months later, however, due to either the stress of the ice or the stress of the waitresses, my bowls were gone and so was my money.

 

In desperation I produced an ice bowl.  It turned out to be a stunning and practical presentation for a restaurant trolley or a party buffet”

 

To make a Ballymaloe Ice Bowl

Take two bowls, one about double the capacity of the other.   Half fill the big bowl with cold water.   Float the second bowl inside the first.   Weight it down with water or ice cubes until the rims are level.  Place a square of fabric on top and secure it with a strong rubber band or string under the rim of the lower bowl, as one would tie on a jam pot cover.   Adjust the small bowl to a central position.   The cloth holds it in place.   Put the bowls on a Swiss roll tin and place in a deep freeze, if necessary re-adjusting the position of the small bowl as you put it in.   After 24 hours or more take it out of the deep freeze.

 

Remove the cloth and leaves for 15-20 minutes, by which time the small bowl should lift out easily.   Then try to lift out the ice-bowl.  It should be starting to melt slightly from the outside bowl, in which case it will slip out easily.  If it isn’t, then just leave for 5 or 10 minutes more, don’t attempt to run it under the hot or even cold tap, or it may crack.  If you are in a great rush, the best solution is to wring out a tea-towel in hot water and wrap that around the large bowl for a few minutes.   Altogether the best course of action is to perform this operation early in the day and then fill the ice bowl with scoops of ice-cream, so that all you have to do when it comes to serving the ice-cream is to pick up the ice bowl from the freezer and place it on the serving dish.   Put a folded serviette under the ice bowl on the serving dish to catch any drips.

 

At Ballymaloe, Myrtle Allen surrounds the ice bowl with vine leaves in Summer, scarlet Virginia creeper in Autumn and red-berried holly at Christmas.  However, as you can see I’m a bit less restrained and I can’t resist surrounding it with flowers!

 

However you present it, ice-cream served in a bowl of ice like this usually draws gasps of admiration when you bring it to the table.

 

In the restaurant we make a new ice-bowl every night, but at home when the dessert would be on the table for barely half an hour, it should be possible to use the ice bowl several times.  As soon as you have finished serving, give the bowl a quick wash under the cold tap and get it back into the freezer again.  This way you can often get 2 or 3 turns from a single ice bowl.

 

Note

Don’t leave a serving spoon resting against the side of the bowl or it will melt a notch in the rim.

 

Carrageen Moss Pudding

 

Myrtle’s recipe for Carrageen Moss pudding is the very best… Light delicate and super nutritious. It is still served in Ballymaloe every evening with a seasonal fruit compote and softly whipped cream.

Serves 6

 

7g (1⁄4oz) cleaned, well-dried carrageen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)

900ml (1 1⁄2 pints/3 3/4 pints) whole milk

1 vanilla pod or 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 organic egg

1 tablespoon caster sugar

 

To Serve

soft brown sugar and softly whipped cream or a compote of fruit in season

 

Soak the carrageen in a little bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes. It will swell and increase in size. Strain off the water and put the carrageen into a saucepan with the milk and the vanilla pod, if using. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, covered, for 20 minutes. At that point and not before, separate the egg, put the yolk into a bowl, add the sugar and vanilla extract, if using, and whisk together for a few seconds, then pour the milk and carrageen moss through a strainer onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time. By now the carrageen remaining in the strainer will be

swollen and exuding jelly. You need as much of this as possible through the strainer and whisk it into the egg and milk mixture. Test for a set in a saucer as one would with gelatine.

 

Whisk the egg white stiffly and fold or fluff it in gently; it will rise to make a fluffy top. Serve chilled with soft brown sugar and cream, or with a compote of fruit in season.

 

 

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How To Eat a Peach

Shaved fennel, celery and apple salad with pomegranates and hazelnuts;

Onglet with roast beets and horseradish cream;

Blood oranges and aperol jelly;

Rhubarb, marmalade and rosemary cake….

How tempting and lip-smackingly good does that sound. Well it all comes from Diana’s Henry’s latest book “How To Eat a Peach…” Diana is fast shaping up to be many peoples favourite cookery writer. Not only has she a particularly wonderful way with words but she has a natural gift for creating beautiful balanced menus that delight rather than merely ‘stuff’ the diner.

 

Diana has been intrigued by menus since she was in her mid-teens. At sixteen she bought an ‘exercise copy book’, covered it carefully with brown paper and began to transcribe menu ideas – she still has the book.

 

I loved the stories in her introduction to “How To Eat a Peach…” Her parents didn’t have dinner parties but regularly had people in for “good food and craic”, dancing to Nancy Sinatra and a shot or two of Bushmills or Vat 69.

Diana threw her first ‘dinner party’ in her late teens, she planned carefully the menu, invited her school friends who were intrigued by the candlelight in the room “Are we going to celebrate Mass” and thought she was going well over the top when she served pineapple ice.

 

Diana continued to pour over food magazines and books, cook, travel and put lots of effort into edible research, even pouring longingly over the menu displayed in the glass cases outside restaurants when she couldn’t afford to eat there.

I particularly loved the story about “Sally Clarke’s restaurant – “I used to get the tube on a Monday night to go and see what Sally had planned for the week. I’d stand there, sometimes in the rain, with a little torch, writing down her menus in a notebook. I rarely ate at Clarke’s (I was in my first job and it was expensive), but I felt as if I ate there all the time.

 

Diana and I share many influences, she too, admires and is inspired by Alice Waters and her philosophy of beautiful fresh produce simply served.

Diana’s research has taken her from Belfast to France, the Breton Coast, Bordeaux on to Manhattan, Morocco…

Her menus reflects her travels, beautiful simple food… So many things I’m tempted to cook from How to Eat a Peach, check it out but here are a few tasters to whet your appetite…

 

Diana Henry’s Elderflower Gin & Tonic

This drink is local and seasonal to me, in Britain, in early summer, so it seems a perfect way to start a meal that honours this philosophy.

 

makes 500ml (18fl oz) gin

for the elderflower gin

20 just-picked elderflower heads

500ml (18fl oz) gin

5 tablespoons caster sugar

 

to serve

tonic water, lime slices and mint sprigs

Shake the elderflowers gently to dislodge any little bugs that might be hiding in them. Pour the gin into a big preserving jar and add the flowers and the sugar. Close the jar and shake it every day for 1 week.

 

Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with some muslin or a brand new J-cloth, then bottle.

 

Put some of the elderflower gin in glasses with ice. Top up with tonic and add lime slices and mint sprigs.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

 

 

 

 

Diana Henry’s Salad of Fennel, Celery and Apple Salad with Pomegranates and Hazelnuts

This might seem very humble before a resplendent pasta dish, but that’s the point. It’s clean and plain and a real appetite opener. Don’t make it too far in advance, though, as the fennel and apples lose their freshness.

 

Serves 6

2 small fennel bulbs

2 small eating apples

juice of 1 lemon

2 celery sticks, with leaves if possible, washed and trimmed.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

seeds from ½ pomegranate

15g (½oz) halved hazelnuts, toasted

Quarter the fennel, trim the tops and the bases and remove any coarse outer leaves. If there are any little fronds, remove and reserve them.

 

Quarter and core the apples. Don’t leave any of this sitting around to discolour: prepare and assemble the salad quickly.

 

Using a mandolin – or a very sharp, thin bladed knife – slice the fennel very thinly and put it into a large bowl with the lemon juice. Slice the celery finely on an angle, reserving any leaves. Change the setting on your mandolin and slice the apples into slightly thicker pieces. Toss the celery and apples in the lemon juice, too. Add any fennel fronds and celery leaves you reserved.

 

Mix the extra virgin olive oil with the white balsamic vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper. Add this to the bowl, mixing it with the other contents. Taste the salad for seasoning. Just before serving, scatter the pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts on top.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

 

Diana Henry’s Spatchcocked Chicken with Chilli, Garlic, Parsley & Almond Pangrattato

I know, this is barely a recipe, it’s just flattened roast chicken with chopped almonds and herbs thrown on top, but I really crave this kind of food: charred, juicy meat, a contrasting crunchy texture and big, strong flavours. It’s great for one of those balmy late-summer evening meals.

serves 6

for the chicken

1.8kg (4lb) chicken

3 garlic cloves, finely grated

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

8 red onions, cut into wedges

 

for the pangrattato

80ml (2¾fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

100g (3½oz) stale sourdough bread, made into breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons chopped blanched almonds

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes leaves from a small bunch of

flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

 

Set the bird on your work surface, breast-side down, legs towards you.

Using good kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut through the flesh and bone along each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone and keep it for stock (freeze it until you’ve gathered other bones to cook along with it).

Open out the chicken, turn it over so it is skin side up, then, flatten it by pressing hard on the breastbone with the heel of your hand. Remove any big globules of fat and neaten any ragged bits of skin. Now you have a spatchcocked bird.

Gently lift the skin on the breast of the bird so that you can put your hand in between the skin and the flesh (try not to tear the skin). Mix the garlic with 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil and some seasoning and carefully push this under the skin. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a couple of hours.

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and take the chicken out of the fridge. Put the onions into a roasting tin and pour on the remaining 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Set the chicken on top, breast side up, season the outside and roast for 1 hour.

 

Meanwhile, make the pangrattato. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the breadcrumbs for about 4 minutes. Add the almonds, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and mix with the parsley and lemon zest, chopping everything together.

 

Cut the chicken into serving pieces and put it on to a warmed platter, on top of the red onions. Pour any extra cooking juices over the top, scatter on the pangrattato and serve.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

 

Diana Henry’s Onglet With Roast Beets & Horseradish Cream

An onglet steak – also known as hanger steak – is usually about 3cm (1¼in) thick and shaped like a small, fat snake. It is slightly chewy – but only slightly – and has a good gamey flavour. London-based chef Neil Rankin taught me how to cook steak (the instructions for all cuts are in his book, Low and Slow) and it works every time. Sautéed potatoes and watercress are good on the side.

serves 4

500g (1lb 2oz) small raw beetroots

regular olive oil

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

125ml (4fl oz) double cream

1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard, or to taste, 3 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

a splash of white wine vinegar (optional)

a pinch of caster sugar (optional)

4 x 250g (9oz) onglet steaks (keep them in the fridge)

flavourless oil or beef dripping, to fry

 

Preheat the oven to 210°C/410°F/gas mark 6½.

Trim the beetroots and wrap in foil, moistening with a little regular olive oil and seasoning before you seal the packet. Don’t wrap it too tightly, you want there to be space around the beets. Place in a roasting tin and cook until tender; it should take 30–35 minutes, though the time can vary. Test with the point of a knife, it should pass through with no resistance. When the beetroots are cool enough to handle, peel, quarter and season. These can be served at room temperature.

 

Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C/275°F/gas mark 1. Put in an empty roasting tin or baking sheet large enough to hold all the steaks.

Whip the cream and add the mustard and horseradish. Taste; you may want a little more mustard. Some people add a tiny splash of white wine vinegar (or, conversely, a pinch of sugar). Add whichever of those you think you would like.

 

Onglet steaks don’t have flat surfaces, so flatten each steak a bit by bashing it with the base of a saucepan, putting baking parchment over it first. Don’t overdo it, you just need to make them a bit less round. Heat 2 frying pans, preferably cast iron, 7–10 minutes ahead of when you want to cook them, setting the heat dial about three-quarters of the way round. To check whether the pan is hot enough to cook in, add a tiny bit of flavourless oil or dripping. If it smokes, the pan is ready. Heat a little oil or beef dripping in the pan, add 2 steaks to each pan and press down with tongs to get the surfaces in touch with the base of the pan. Move the steaks around all the time, seasoning and making sure each steak is getting browned all over. Listen for the sizzle: when the steak is quiet, you need to move it. If the pan gets too hot and the meat is getting too dark (you don’t want it to be black), reduce the heat; if it’s not getting dark enough, increase the heat.

 

Transfer the steaks to the hot tin or sheet in the oven and continue to cook for about 5 minutes for medium-rare (onglet is best served medium-rare).

 

Using a really sharp knife, slice each steak against the grain. Neil Rankin (see recipe introduction) doesn’t rest his steak. Serve with the roast beets and the horseradish cream. A handful of green leaves is good on the side.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

 

Diana Henry’s Gooseberry and Almond Cake with Lemon Thyme Syrup

This is a pale pudding – soft green and cream – which seems just right for early summer. I serve it with extra gooseberries, poached (there’s a recipe for them below) but you don’t have to.

 

Serves 6-8

 

For the cake:

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened plus more for the tin

125g (4½ oz) caster sugar,

plus 5 tablespoons caster sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature. Lightly beaten

75g (2¾ oz) plain flour, sifted

2 teaspoons chopped lemon thyme leaves

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

75g (2¾ oz) ground almonds (preferable freshly ground)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

350g (12 oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed

For the syrup:

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

juice of 2 large lemons

2 teaspoons lemon thyme leaves

 

 

For poached gooseberries:

75g (2¾ oz) granulated sugar

2 lemon thyme sprigs

500g (1lb 2oz) gooseberries, topped and tailed

 

 

To serve:

thyme flowers, if you can find any

icing sugar, to dust (optional)

sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream

 

 

 

Preheat the oven to 190 °C/375 °F/gas mark 5. Butter a 20cm (8in) spring-form cake tin and line with baking parchment.

 

Beat the butter and the 125g (4½ oz) of caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mixture starts to curdle, add 1 tablespoon of the flour. Put the lemon thyme leaves in a mortar with the lemon zest and pound together to release the fragrance. Add to the batter and briefly mix. Fold in the rest of the flour, the almonds and the baking powder, using a large metal spoon. Scrape into the tin. Toss the gooseberries with the remaining 5 tablespoons of caster sugar and spread over the top. Bake for 30 minutes.

 

The cake is ready when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

 

To make the syrup, quickly heat the granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon thyme leaves in saucepan, stirring to help the sugar dissolve. Pierce the cake all over with a skewer while it is still warm and slowly pour the syrup into it. Leave cool a little, then carefully remove from the tin and put on a serving plate.

 

Meanwhile, poach the gooseberries. Heat 175ml (6fl oz) of water, the granulated sugar and lemon thyme together in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the gooseberries and cook over a medium heat for 4minutes, or until the fruit is soft but not collapsing (most of the berries should hold their shape). Leave to cool.

 

Any thyme flower you have will look lovely on top of the cake. You can leave it as is, or dust lightly with icing sugar just before serving, with sweetened crème fraîche or whipped cream and the poached gooseberries on the side.

How To Eat a Peach by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley

Imagery credit: Laura Edwards

 

 

Summer favourite

What joy, the garden and greenhouses are bursting with produce, so are the Farmers’ and Country markets and hopefully, your local shops and supermarkets are offering the bounty of the season to tempt you to make beautiful salads, pasta dishes, gorgeous soups and crudtiés.

I know I’m super fortunate to have a greenhouse so we have beautiful new potatoes, weeks later than usual this year but many of you too have discovered the magic of owning a tunnel to use as a protected garden. Pair them with some of those little scallions, put them into other dishes to add extra bulk and deliciousness but best of all boil them in sea-water, eat immediately slathered with butter and Irish sea salt -you’ll feel like saying grace and thanking the Good Lord and Mother Nature for the bounty of the seasons, and of course make a wish.

 

There’s still a little asparagus about and we’re just getting the first Summer crabs from Ballycotton and soon we’ll have mackerel. Joy of joys, the gooseberry bushes are dripping with fruit. You know, they are my favourite sea fish – fresh mackerel eaten within a few hours from the sea is a revelation to many.

The wild Irish salmon season started on the 12th of May. Just a few weeks to enjoy this sublime and precious fish. So treat yourself. And then there’s broad beans, oh my goodness I just love broad beans or fava beans as they are known in the US.

We use every scrap, the top leaves and some flowers in salad (don’t pick too many flowers, remember they will be ultimately be the broad beans) When the little pods are just 3 to 4 inches long, we chargrill them. But to be as magical as I say, broad beans must be super fresh, the natural sugars turn into starch within 5 or 6 hours and after a few days travel they really lose their ‘mojo’ and become dull and mealy. So I can understand if you’re baffled by my enthusiasm. You’ll need to grow them yourself or sidle up to a friend with a glut and maybe do a barter.  We’ve also had the first of our courgettes with their frilly canary yellow blossom, another vegetable that can be dull as dishwater or blow your mind when they are young, crisp, and nutty in flavour. Try them raw and thinly sliced in a carpaccio of zucchini, drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt, alternatively sprinkle with some strips of anchovy and add a little of the oil. Decorate with the zucchini blossoms.

I’ve chosen a few of my favourite Summer recipes, so difficult because there are so many delicious ways to serves gorgeous fresh produce.

 

Spring Onion or Garlic Chive Soda Bread

On a recent trip to India I loved the flat breads with scallions. They use a yeast dough but this soda bread version is also delicious and super easy to make.

450g (1 lb) flour

1 level teaspoon bread soda

1 level teaspoon salt

2-4 tablespoons finely sliced spring onions or garlic chives

350- 425mls (12-15 fl ozs) approx. sour milk or butter milk to mix

 

First fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.

 

Sieve the dry ingredients, add the finely sliced spring onions. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inch (4cm) deep and cut a deep cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven 230C\450F\ gas mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200C\400F\ gas mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread, if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

 

Spanking Fresh Mackerel Gravlax with Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise

 

This basic Nordic pickling technique can be used for many fish – salmon, haddock, and mackerel. I’ve substituted wasabi for French mustard with delicious results. We are all addicted to this pickled mackerel gravlax, which keeps for up to a week. Fresh dill is essential.

One can use the same pickle for the gravlax.

 

Serves 12 – 16 as a starter

 

4-6 mackerel, filleted

1 heaped tablespoon sea salt

1 heaped tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dill, finely chopped

dark brown bread and butter, to serve

 

a gratin dish

 

Fillet the mackerel and remove all the bones. Mix the salt, sugar, pepper and dill together in a bowl.  Line the gratin dish with a piece of clingfilm.  Sprinkle some cure on the bottom of the gratin dish; lay the mackerel fillets skin side down on top.  Sprinkle more cure on top and another layer of mackerel and finish with a layer of cure.   Wrap tightly with clingfilm, weight it down slightly with a board and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours.

 

Wasabi and Dill Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk, preferably free range

1-1 ½ tablespoons grated wasabi

1 tablespoon white sugar

150ml (5fl oz) ground nut or sunflower oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped

salt and white pepper

 

Whisk the egg yolk with the wasabi and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill.

 

To Serve

Wipe the dill mixture off the fish and slice thinly. Arrange on a plate. Serve with wasabi and dill mayonnaise and dark brown bread and butter.

Garnish with fresh dill flowers if available.

Pappardelle with double Broad Beans and Rocket Leaves

Serves 4

 

450g pappardelle

225g broad beans, shelled

8 tablespoons broad bean puree (see recipe)

A fistful of rocket leaves

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, approx.

lots of freshly ground pepper and sea salt

 

First make the broad bean puree.  Cook and shell the broad beans and keep warm.

 

Cook the pappardelle until ‘al dente’ in plenty of boiling salted water.  Drain quickly.  Add a little extra virgin olive oil to the pan, add the broad beans, pasta and rocket leaves and toss well.  Season with lots of pepper and some sea salt.  Put two tablespoons of warm broad bean puree onto each plate.  Put a portion on pasta on top and serve immediately.

Broad Bean Puree

 

We use this puree in many ways, you can imagine how good it is with ham or bacon, duck, summer plaice or John Dory.

 

150ml water

1 teaspoon salt

450g shelled broad beans

sprig of summer savory

about 25g butter

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 teaspoon summer savory, freshly chopped

2-3 tablespoon cream

 

Bring the water to a rolling boil, add the sea salt, broad beans and a sprig of savory.  Boil very fast for 3-4 minutes or until just cooked.  Drain immediately.

Melt a little butter in the saucepan, toss in the broad beans and season with freshly ground pepper.  Taste, add some more savory and a little salt if necessary.

Slip the beans out of their skins.  Add the cream and puree.  Check the seasoning and serve.

 

Roast Beetroot with Apple, Pomegranate Seeds and Mint, with Horseradish Cream

 

This combination makes an irresistible starter but can also be served family style for lunch or supper.

Serves 8

 

I kg young beetroot

3-4 Cox’s Orange Pippin apples, or 2 Red Elstar, peeled and diced in 7mm dice

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½-1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 pomegranate

Rocket leaves

1 fistful mint leaves

 

15-30g Iranian pistachio nuts, halved

 

Horseradish cream

Grilled Sourdough (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8

 

Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through, 30 mins to 1 hour,* (see below) depending on the size, or until the skins will rub off.

Cut into chunks.  Add the apple dice.

Toss in extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar.   Season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Halve the pomegranate and pop out the seeds.

Scatter a serving plate with rocket leaves.  Spread the beetroot and apple over the leaves.  Scatter the mint leaves over the top and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and halved pistachio nuts.

Serve with a dollop of horseradish cream and some grilled sourdough.

 

Note:

*Beetroot take much longer to cook in winter, we sometimes boil them first until tender, then peel, cut into wedges. Toss in extra virgin olive oil and roast in a preheated oven at 230˚C/gas mark 8 for 15-20 minutes.

 

 

Green Goosegog Crumble with Elderflower Cream

We’ve just had the first green gooseberries, they are still hard and under ripe but fantastic for pies and tarts.

 

Serves 6-8

 

When we were little,  we always called gooseberries goosegogs.

Crumbles are the quintessential comfort food, this is a brilliant master recipe, just vary the fruit according to the season.

 

675g  green gooseberries

45-55g soft dark brown sugar

1-2 tablespoon water

 

Crumble

110g white flour, preferably unbleached

50g butter

50g castor sugar

 

Elderflower Cream

175ml cream, whipped

1 tablespoon elderflower cordial

 

1.1L capacity pie dish

 

First stew the gooseberries gently with the sugar and water in a covered casserole or stainless steel saucepan just until the fruit bursts.

Then taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn into a pie dish. Allow to cool slightly while you make the crumble.

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles really coarse bread crumbs, add the sugar. Sprinkle this mixture over the gooseberries in the pie dish. Scatter the flaked almonds evenly over the top.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with elderflower cream or just softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar.

 

To make the elderflower cream, fold the cordial into the softly whipped cream, to taste.

 

 

Variation: Gooseberry and Elderflower

Stew the gooseberries with white sugar, add 2 elderflower heads tied in muslin while stewing, remove elderflowers and proceed as above.

Variations on the Crumble

30g oatflakes or sliced hazelnuts or nibbed almonds can be good added to the crumble.

 

 

Basil Ice-Cream

Makes 600ml

 

This is a wonderfully rich ice-cream.  Unexpectedly delicious, we love it with precious ripe figs from the greenhouse.

 

Serves 6

 

1/2 vanilla bean (pod)

45g fresh basil leaves, torn

175ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

62g sugar

175ml rich cream, cold

 

Ripe figs, optional

 

Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a heavy saucepan.  Add the torn basil leaves. 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), 8-10 minutes approx.

 

Pour the cream into a large bowl.  Strain the basil custard into the cream.  Mix well, then chill thoroughly.

 

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

Serve on chilled plates with ripe figs if available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aquafaba

Funny how when you hear about an unfamiliar place or discover the meaning of a hitherto unfamiliar word, it seems to pop up regularly here and there within the next few weeks.

Well my new discovery is aquafaba, not only is it a new word to me but also a new, exciting, almost magical ingredient.
When I thought about it for a moment it is easy to translate, Aqua- water and faba– beans. Aquafaba is the liquid in tins of beans or the cooking liquid left over after cooking your own. Really good stuff, full of protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements, so worth saving for soup, stews and stock.

But that’s not all; a clever Frenchman discovered that if you whipped the aquafaba, it fluffs up into a light meringue….
Turns out that the unique mix of starches, proteins, fibre and sugars gives aquafaba a wide range of emulsifying, foaming, binding and thickening properties making it the perfect ingredient for vegan cooking or for those who have an egg allergy.

How amazing that the bean liquid that many of us just chucked down the sink is a precious ingredient now provoking a culinary revolution.

I first tasted a meringue made from chickpea water in a Mexican restaurant in New York ???? about 4 years ago – it was the talk of the town at that stage. Light, delicious and mysterious, I had no idea how to reproduce it.

But recently the word aquafaba has started to pop up as an ingredient in food magazines and then as if by magic a book “Aquafaba” arrived on my desk, imagine, a whole book of recipes using aquafaba. Written by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power.
The properties of aquafaba were discovered not by a chemist, professional chef or molecular gastronomer but by a curios singer and vegan blogger who tested all manner of things in a desperate effort to achieve a vegan mousse to make one of his favourite dishes ‘Îles Flottantes’ or what we call floating islands.
Others were experimenting with flaxseed concoctions, pure soya protein, CO2 cartridges and a variety of imaginative ideas but still no stable foams that would remain firm in both raw and cooked dishes.

Joël Roessel who made the amazing discovery shared the breakthrough on his blog “Révolution Végétale” and the vegan culinary bloggers went into a frenzy of testing. Word spread like wildfire on social media… Goose Wohlt from the US is the person credited with christening the left over liquid from cooking beans – aquafaba – a far sexier term than the latter. The rest is history, albeit a new history because it all began in late 2014 but its fame has spread with the vegan revolution. Who knew before Joël Roessel’s discovery that the viscous liquid from a tin of chickpeas reacted just like egg whites….

So where can we find aquafaba? As yet it’s not possible to buy commercial, ready-to-use aqua faba, although I bet it’s on its way.

However there are two ways to obtain it,
1) Save the liquid from a tin or jar of cooked, (unflavoured) chickpeas. An 800g tin will yield approx. 250ml of aquafaba.
2) Soak and cook your own chickpeas at home, save the cooking liquid, better quality but not instant…

Aquafaba will keep in a fridge for 6 to 7 days in a tightly sealed glass jar or bottle. It will look cloudy and may separate, but just shake the jar to re-amalgamate. Alternatively freeze it – an ice cube tray is perfect. Store in a plastic bag or box and deforest as needed.

 

Aquafaba Royal Hummus
Do not mess with this emblematic speciality! Hummus is THE thing that everyone loves, that gives you a huge appetite even if you’re not hungry. It’s incredibly addictive. And as everyone knows: ‘Hummus one day, hummus every day!’
Serves 4 – preparation time: 15 minutes
500g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
100ml (3½fl oz) cold water
20ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
3g (½ teaspoons) unrefined fine salt
3g (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil
150g (5oz) tahini
2 garlic cloves
Za’atar

Set aside 10 chickpeas to use as decoration.

Pour the cold water, lemon juice, fine salt, cumin and olive oil into the bowl of a blender. Add the chickpeas, tahini and pressed garlic cloves.

Mix at full power for 5 minutes. The mixture should be completely smooth.

If it still looks a bit lumpy, add a splash of cold water and mix again.

Transfer the hummus onto a soup plate, add a generous dash of olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.

Garnish with the chickpeas and serve.

Comments:
We use a pre-prepared Lebanese ‘za’atar’ mixture containing a mixture of herbs (wild thyme, marjoram, hyssop, sumac, sesame, salt). There are as many types of za’atar as regions in the Middle East. Therefore, there is no ‘true’ za’atar, just many different types depending on the region.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chickpea Curry
Indian cuisine is full of great ideas about how to cook legumes. It has to be said, plain chickpeas don’t make the most glamorous of dishes and many people are reluctant to eat it in its most rudimentary form. However, in a curry, chickpeas are a real delight, mixing intense flavours and melt-in-your mouth textures.

Serves 4

1 red onion
10g (1/2 oz) fresh ginger
1 garlic clove
2g (1½ teaspoons) coriander seeds
2g (1 teaspoon) cumin seeds
20ml (1 tablespoon) rapeseed oil
10 curry leaves
9g (1 tablespoon) Madras curry powder
400 ml (14fl oz) coconut milk
50 g (4 tablespoons) tomato purée
500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
½ lime
Pinch of fine salt
Fresh coriander

Finely slice the onion, ginger and garlic. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander and cumin seeds. In a large cooking pot, heat the rapeseed oil, add the crushed spices and curry leaves, and
heat for 30 seconds before adding the chopped onion/ginger/garlic.

Brown for 2 minutes then add the Madras curry powder, mix and add 50 ml of water. Reduce the heat for a few minutes before pouring in the coconut milk and adding the tomato purée. Season with salt, mix well. When the liquid starts to simmer, add the chickpeas, cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the juice of half a lime, mix and serve. Scatter fresh coriander leaves over as a garnish.

Basmati rice makes a perfect accompaniment to this dish.

Comments:
Madras curry is a fairly hot spice mix with deliciously spicy notes. If you are sensitive to these types of spices, we recommend a mild curry spice so that you can still enjoy the dish.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Tandoori Roasted Chickpeas
Bored of the same old crisps and peanuts with your apéritif? Why not try roasted chickpeas for a change? It’s original and nutritious. Keep the great tastes, but without the saturated fats. Crunchy on the outside, melting in the middle, these tandoori roasted chickpeas are your new best friend.

Serves 4 – preparation time: 5 minutes – cooking time: 40 minutes

500 g (18oz) cooked chickpeas
20 ml (1tablespoon) vegetable oil
15 ml (1 tablespoon) coconut cream
2 g (1⁄3 teaspoon) unrefined fine salt
5 g (2 teaspoons) tandoori spice mix

Leave the chickpeas to dry in the open air overnight.

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

Combine the oil, coconut cream, salt and half the tandoori spice mix in a mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas and mix everything thoroughly.

Finish with the rest of the tandoori mix and combine one last time.

Spread on a baking tray covered with baking paper, making sure not to layer up the chickpeas. Bake for 40 minutes.

Leave to cool before serving.

Comments:
Keep in a paper bag, in a dry place and eat within 48 hours.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Almond Meringues
Meringues come in many different flavours, shapes and forms. But one of the most emblematic is the kind you find in bakery windows: a vanilla-flavoured, white meringue, sprinkled with grilled almonds. The taste will put you up on cloud nine!
Makes 7 meringues
100 ml (3½fl oz) aquafaba
3 ml (2/3 teaspoon) lemon juice
5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
200 g (7oz) icing sugar
4 g (1 teaspoon) cream of tartar
Flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F/gas ½. Move the oven shelf to the bottom of the oven. Pour the aquafaba, lemon juice and vanilla extract into the stand mixer and whisk at full power for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar with the cream of tartar, and sieve to remove any lumps of sugar.
Once the aquafaba mixture has formed stiff peaks, add the icing sugar mixture gradually, whisking for a further 3 minutes. The meringue mixture is ready to use when it doesn’t fall easily from the whisk. Use the mixture to fill a pastry bag with a star-shaped nozzle. Pipe out equally sized meringues on a baking tray covered with baking paper.
Sprinkle some almond flakes on top, pressing lightly to embed them and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes without opening the oven. Leave to cool completely and store in a dry place for a half or whole day before serving.
Comments:
The meringues can be kept for a few days in a dry place and in the open air.
Aquafaba by Sébastien Kardinal and Laura Power, published by Grub Street Publishing, photography by Laura Power

Aquafaba Chocolate Mousse
There are numerous chocolate mousse recipes for vegans. However, for many the name is merely symbolic. The reason is that whisked egg whites are the key ingredient for making this dessert with its unique texture: it was foolish to think we could get the same texture using silken tofu. Luckily, aquafaba has arrived and has revolutionised everything!

Serves 2–4
Preparation time: 15 minutes – resting time: 3 hours

200 g (7oz) dark chocolate (74% cocoa maximum)
½ tonka bean
200 ml (7fl oz) aquafaba
5 ml (1 teaspoon) cider vinegar
100 g (3½ oz) icing sugar

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie over a very low heat, grate the tonka bean over the top and incorporate.

Once the chocolate is partially melted, remove from the heat and allow to melt slowly, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, pour the aquafaba and vinegar into the stand mixer.

Whisk at full power until the liquid forms soft peaks. Sprinkle in the icing sugar, continuing to whisk. The mixture should form stiff peaks. Whisk for 10 minutes.

Stop the stand mixer, remove the whisk and pour the melted chocolate over the stiff peaks. Gently fold the two mixtures together, using a spatula and taking care to stir in the same direction lifting the peaks so that they don’t disintegrate.

 

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