ArchiveOctober 3, 2018

Wild Foods

Wild foods have never been so much in vogue, they are all over restaurant menus and we love it…..

Foraging has virtually become a national sport, young and old are scurrying about in woodlands and along the hedgerows in search of nuts, berries and wild mushrooms. It’s been a fantastic year for fungi,  we got baskets and baskets of wild mushrooms, not just field mushrooms, but porcini, yellow legs, chanterelles and even a huge cauliflower mushroom proudly delivered by a particularly knowledgeable local forager. I’d never cooked one before so that was super exciting.

We used field mushrooms in every conceivable way, mushroom soup, mushrooms on toast, mushroom a la crème, mushroom risotto and we made mushroom ketchup for the first time in over a decade. Our farm around the Cookery School has been managed organically for over 20 years now and this year Mother Nature rewarded us with a bounty of field mushrooms. We couldn’t collect them fast enough, several of the fields were literally white with mushrooms.  we had such fun showing our grandchildren how to recognise and gather field mushrooms. For the first time in almost a decade the conditions were perfect – warm moist weather and chemical free fields.

There’s also a bumper crop of blackberries, not sure I’ve ever seen so many eager foragers scrabbling around in the brambles. Local children have been collecting the plump berries and we’re thrilled to buy them both for the Cookery School and the restaurant. There are a million delicious ways to use them. We all know that blackberry and Bramley apple is a winning combination on their own but add a few leaves of rose geranium and you have something sublime.

Earlier this year, 15 year old Simon Meehan from Ballincollig was declared Young Scientist of the Year for his discovery that blackberries contain a non-toxic, organic, original antibiotic which is effective in killing Staphylococcus aureus, a bug that infects humans and is increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment especially when it comes in the form of the common hospital acquired infection MRSA. So gorge yourself on blackberries while they last, they also contain loads of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, magnesium and calcium.

My youngest grandchild Jago, (2 years old), can’t get enough of them, he’s like a kid in a candy shop gobbling them up like smarties off the blackberry bushes, ignoring the prickles in an effort to reach every last one.

Maria Walsh’s Blackberry Tincture

Blackberries are a rich source of antioxidants. Tinctures are easy and convenient to use.

 

recycle an old jam jar – 290ml

Three quarter fill the jar with  wild blackberries, picked on a dry day.

Cover the berries with alcohol – vodka or brandy. For a non-alcoholic version use apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar.

Place the tincture in a dark cupboard.  Shake the jar once a day and leave for 6-8 weeks.

When ready, one could take a teaspoon every day or add to water, jazz up cocktails or add to water kefir.

 

Wild Mushroom a la Crème on toast

Mushroom à la crème is a fantastic all-purpose recipe, and if you’ve got a surplus of wild mushrooms, use those instead of cultivated ones. You can even use dried mushrooms. Mushroom à la crème keeps well in the fridge for 4–5 days and freezes perfectly.

 

 

Serves 8

 

50g (2oz) butter

175g (6oz) onion, finely chopped

450g (1lb) wild mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, ceps, false chanterelles or the common field mushroom), sliced

salt and freshly ground pepper

good squeeze of lemon juice

225ml (8fl oz) cream

freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)

sourdough

 

Melt half the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the chopped onion, cover and sweat over a gentle heat for 5–10 minutes or until quite soft but not coloured; remove the onions to a bowl.

 

Meanwhile cook the sliced mushrooms in a hot frying pan in the remaining butter, in batches if necessary. Season each batch with salt, freshly ground pepper and a

tiny squeeze of lemon juice. Add the mushrooms to the onions in the saucepan, then add the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, and add the chopped herbs.

 

Toast or pan-grill the bread and pile the hot creamy mushroom mixture on top.

Enjoy immediately.

 

 

Grandpoppy’s Mushroom Ketchup

 

It only makes sense to make mushroom ketchup on the rare years when there’s a glut of wild mushrooms in the fields. This is becoming less and less common because of the level of pesticides used in conventional farming. Occasionally, though, when the weather at the end of the summer is warm and humid as it was this year, we get a flush of mushrooms, and we can’t bear to waste any of them. make a supply of mushroom ketchup, which keeps for years. You can dash it into game, beef, lamb and chicken stews and casseroles, shepherd’s pie, or just use it as you would soy sauce.

 

as many wild field mushrooms as you can gather

salt

 

For each 1.2 litres (2 pints) of ketchup, use:

10g (1⁄2oz) whole peppercorns

7g (1⁄2oz) whole ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon mace

50ml (2fl oz) whiskey or, if you prefer, omit the whiskey and add 1 tablespoon of best brandy to each bottle before sealing

 

Put the mushrooms into a large basin. Sprinkle salt between each layer to extract juice. Steep for 24 hours, occasionally stirring and breaking the mushrooms. Allow to stand for a further 12 hours to settle the sediment.

 

Pour into another vessel, leaving behind the sediment. Measure, strain and to every 1.2 litres (2 pints) of ketchup add the above ingredients. Bottle and seal.

 

Mushroom ketchup keeps for years: I have some that is over 5 years old and is still perfect. The steeped mushrooms themselves can be composted or fed to the hens.

 

 

Wild Mushroom and Thyme Leaf Tart

 

Serves 6

 

A really flavoursome tart, one of the few that tastes super warm or cold. Use cream! Both the flavour and texture are quite different if you substitute milk. Flat cultivated mushrooms also work well when field mushrooms are not available

 

Rich Shortcrust Pastry

110g (4oz) plain white flour

50-75g (2-3oz) butter

water to bind or a mixture of water and beaten egg

 

225g (8oz) wild mushrooms, flats if possible

15g (½ oz) butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

225ml (8fl oz) cream

2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, free range if possible

50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese or preferably Parmigiano Reggiano

flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

a good pinch of cayenne

 

1 x 7 inch (18cm) flan ring or tin with pop up base (low sided)

 

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way.

 

Sieve the flour, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop. Whisk the egg or egg yolk and add some water. Take a fork or knife, (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult -to-handle pastry will give a crispier shorter crust.

 

Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.

 

Allow to rest, line the flan ring and bake blind for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile chop the mushrooms finely, melt the butter, add the oil and fry the mushrooms on a very high heat. Add thyme leaves and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook until all the juice has evaporated and then allow to cool.

 

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

 

Whisk the cream in a bowl with the eggs and the extra egg yolk, stir in the cool mushrooms and the Parmesan cheese. Taste, add the pinch of cayenne and more seasoning if necessary. Pour into the pre-baked pastry case.

 

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the filling is set and the top delicately brown.

 

Serve with a good green salad

 

Note: Tiny mushroom quiches may be served straight from the oven as appetisers before dinner or for a drinks party.

 

 

 

Apple, Sloe and Sweet Geranium Jelly

 

This apple jelly recipe is the most brilliant mother recipe to add all sorts of flavours. If you have lots of sloes increase the quantity to half apples and sloes. Serve on scones, with game, pork, duck or guinea fowl.

 

Makes 6-7 pots

 

2.2kg crab apples or Bramley Seedlings

450g sloes

2.7 litres water

6-8 large sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)

plus extra as needed.

2 lemons, unwaxed organic

sugar

 

Wash the apples and cut into quarters, no need to peel or core.  Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out the bruised parts.   Put the apples in a large saucepan with the sloes and geranium leaves, the water and the thinly pared rind of the lemons, cook until the apples and sloes dissolve into a ‘mush’, approx. 2 hours.

Turn the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted – usually overnight.  Measure the juice into a preserving pan, allow 450g sugar to each 600ml of juice.   Heat the sugar in a moderate oven 180C/Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan, add a few more geranium leaves if the flavour is still very mild.   Bring to the boil and add the sugar.   Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.   Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove the geranium leaves.   Skim, test and then pour the jelly into sterilized jars, put a sweet geranium leaf in each jar.  Cover and seal immediately.

 

 

 

Blackberry and Lime Scones

 

For lime scones, just roll out the dough to 1 inch (2.5cm) thick and stamp or cut into scones and dip the egg – washed tops in lime sugar.

 

Makes 18-20 scones, using a 3 inch (71/2 cm) cutter

 

2lb (900g) plain white flour

6oz (175g) butter

pinch of salt

2oz (50g) castor sugar

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

3 free-range eggs

15fl oz (450ml/) approx. full cream milk to mix (not low fat milk)

 

egg wash

 

Lime Sugar

2oz (50g) granulated or Demerara sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon lime zest for the top of scones

 

Lime Butter

150g (5oz) butter

250g (9oz) pale brown sugar

2 teaspoons lime zest

 

Preheat the oven 250ºC/475ºF/Gas Mark 9.

 

First make the Lime Butter.

Cream the butter, sugar and lime zest together and beat until light and fluffy.

 

Sieve the flour into a large wide bowl, add a pinch of salt, the baking powder and castor sugar.  Mix the dry ingredients with your hands, lift up to incorporate air and mix thoroughly.

 

Cut the butter into cubes, toss well in the flour and then with the tips of your fingers, rub in the butter until it resembles large flakes.  Make a well in the centre.  Whisk the eggs with the milk, pour all at once into the centre.  With the fingers of your ‘best

hand’ outstretched and stiff, mix in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl.  This takes just seconds and hey presto, the scone dough is made.  Sprinkle some flour on the work surface.  Turn out the dough onto the floured board.  Scrape the dough off your fingers and wash and dry your hands at this point.  Tidy around the edges, flip over and roll or pat gently into a rectangle about 3/4 inch (2cm) thick.

 

Spread the soft lime butter over the surface. Roll up lengthwise and cut into pieces about 2 inches (5cm) thick.

 

Brush the tops with egg wash (see below) and dip the tops only in lime sugar.  Put onto a baking sheet fairly close together.

 

Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top.

 

Egg Wash

Whisk one egg thoroughly with about a dessertspoon of milk.  This is brushed over the scones to help them brown in the oven.

 

 

Darina Allen Simply Delicious The Classic Collection

 

Darina Allen Simply Delicious The Classic Collection has just landed on my desk and I couldn’t be more excited – 29 years after the original little paperback was published to accompany the television series of the same name- I had red glasses and brown hair at that time and little did I know how Simply Delicious would change the course of the rest of my life.

It was terribly scary making the programmes, I had never seen a TV camera and had no idea how to go about it at first. I almost didn’t….. I was so scared it would be a complete flop and sure I’d make a total fool of myself. I tossed the idea backwards and forwards in my head, a mixture of apprehension and excitement. After much toing and froing I decided it would be easier to live with the series not being a huge success than with the eternal question of ‘What if…..?’

After the first few programmes people poured into local bookshops to buy the little 78 page Simply Delicious paperback. For many, it was the first cookbook they ever owned, the recipes well-tested for the Ballymaloe Cookery School worked, so as the Gill & Macmillan representative put it one night after a book signing, the book was selling in ‘telephone numbers’ and shops quickly ran out of copies. It went into a second printing immediately and there was a paper shortage, so for several of the eight weeks the programme was on air there was hardly a copy of Simply Delicious to be had in the country. Furthermore, the success was fuelled by another unlikely element. RTE didn’t anticipate the appeal of this new cookery series and ran it opposite Coronation Street. This was at a time when most houses would have been proud to own just one television and long before any form of playback, so there was many a family ‘fracas’ about which programme to watch. Viewers wrote to RTE and rang into chat shows to complain that it was causing ‘strife’ within the family. The repeat was rescheduled…

Simply Delicious went on to make Irish publishing history, topping the best sellers for months in a row and selling more copies than any previously published cookbook in Ireland: 115,000 copies in the first year of publication.

 

I’ve often been told that ‘dog-eared’ copies of these books are treasured possessions in many households and have in many cases been passed on to the next generation.

 

The Simply Delicious books have been out of print for many years but people regularly ask where they can find a copy of one or another, so this edition is especially for you. I’m delighted to be republishing this collection of 100 classic recipes from Simply Delicious I and 2 and Simply Delicious Vegetables. Choosing the recipes was a fascinating experience, so many have stood the test of time and are still perennial favourites. Some we have tweaked over the past 30 years or added more contemporary garnishes or complementary spices as the range of ingredients available has expanded considerably in the time since the recipes were first published.

 

People regularly complain that a friend borrowed their copy of Simply Delicious and didn’t return it. Others bring me well worn, gravy splashed copies for signing that are obviously well used and loved.

Many of our happiest childhood memories are connected to food. I hope you will enjoy this selection of recipes. For me it’s such a joy to know that for many, these simply delicious dishes have become treasured favourites to share with family and friends around the table. And I’m hoping that many of these time-honoured recipes will still be relished and enjoyed in 30 years’ time…

A Warm Salad with Irish Blue Cheese

 

Some ripe, crumbly Cashel Blue cheese now made by Jane and Louis Grubb’s daughter Sarah would be wonderful for this salad.  A few little cubes of ripe pear are of course delicious here too.  We also love their Crozier Blue cheese.

 

Serves 4

 

A selection of organic salad leaves, eg watercress, radicchio, endive, rocket, oakleaf and butterhead

12 round croutons, 1/4inch (5mm) thick, cut form a thin French stick.

45g soft butter

A clove of garlic, peeled

140g smoked streaky bacon, cut into 5mm lardons

50g Irish farmhouse blue cheese

 

Vinaigrette Dressing

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon arachide or sunflower oil

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoon chopped chervil and 2 teaspoon chopped tarragon  or

4 teaspoon chopped parsley

 

 

Garnish

1 heaped tablespoon of chervil sprigs or freshly chopped parsley

 

Whisk together the ingredients for the Vinaigrette Dressing.

Wash and dry the mixture of lettuces and salad leaves and tear into bite-sized pieces.

Spread both sides of the rounds of bread with softened butter.  Put onto a baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven, 180˚C/Gas Mark 4, until golden and crisp on both sides, 20 minutes approx.  Rub them with a clove of garlic and keep hot in a low oven with the door slightly open.

Blanch and refresh the bacon, dry well on kitchen paper.

Just before serving, sauté the bacon dice in a little extra virgin olive oil until golden.

To serve:

Dress the lettuces with some vinaigrette in a salad bowl.  Use just enough to make the leaves glisten. Crumble the cheese with a fork and add it to the salad, tossing them well together.  Divide between 4 plates.  Scatter the hot crispy bacon over the top, put 3 warm croutons on each plate and sprinkle sprigs of chervil or chopped parsley over the salad. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

Ballycotton Fish Pie

 

How fortunate are we to live close to the little fishing village of Ballycotton in East Cork.  Everyone loves fish pie, the combination depends on the fish catch. Omit mussels and shrimps if they are not available.

 

 

Serves 6–8

 

1.1kg (2½lb) cod, hake, haddock
or grey sea mullet fillets or a mixture

salt and freshly ground pepper

15g (½oz) butter

600ml (1 pint) milk

110g (4oz) cooked mussels, out of shells

110g (4oz) cooked and peeled shrimps

55g (2oz) roux, approx.

¼ teaspoon mustard, preferably Dijon

140–170g (5–6oz) grated Irish Cheddar cheese or 85g (3oz) grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

800g (1lb 2oz) fluffy mashed potato or champ (optional)

 

BUTTERED CRUMBS

30g (1oz) butter

55g (2oz) soft white breadcrumbs

 

Skin the fish and cut into portions: 170g (6oz) for a main course, 85g (3oz) for a starter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay the pieces of fish in a lightly buttered sauté pan and cover with the cold milk. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4–5 minutes, or until the fish has changed colour. Remove the fish to a serving dish or dishes with a perforated spoon. Scatter the mussels and shrimps over the top.

 

Bring the milk back to the boil and thicken with roux to a light coating consistency. Add the mustard, two-thirds of the grated cheese and a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley. Keep the remainder of the cheese for sprinkling over the top. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

 

Next make the breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool.

 

Coat the fish with the sauce. Mix the remaining grated cheese with the buttered crumbs and sprinkle over the top. Pipe a ruff of fluffy mashed potato or champ around the edge for a more substantial dish.

 

Cook in a preheated moderate oven (180°C/350°F/gas mark 4) for 15–20 minutes or until heated through and the top is golden brown and crispy. If necessary, place under the grill for a minute or two before you serve, to brown the edge of the potato.

 

Note: This dish may be served in individual dishes: scallop shells are particularly attractive, are completely ovenproof and may be used over and over again.

 

 

 

Chocolate Meringue Gateau

Serves 6

 

This recipe makes two layers of meringue but you can double the ingredients for a celebration cake or make individual little meringues.

 

2 egg whites

125 g (4½oz) icing sugar

2 rounded teaspoons cocoa powder, (we use Valrhona)

 

Chocolate and Rum Cream

30 g (1 oz) best quality dark chocolate

15 g (½ oz) unsweetened chocolate

1 tablespoon Jamaican rum

1 tablespoon cream

300 ml (½ pint) softly whipped cream

 

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/regulo 2

 

Mark two 7½ inches (19 cm) circles on parchment paper.

 

Check that the bowl is dry, spotlessly clean and free of grease.  Put the egg whites into the bowl and add 110g (4oz) icing sugar all at once; whisk until the mixture forms stiff, dry peaks, 10 minutes approx.  Sieve together the cocoa and the remaining 15 g (½ oz) icing sugar and fold in very gently.  Spread and bake immediately in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until just crisp.  Allow to get completely cold then peel off the paper.

Meanwhile, very gently melt the chocolate with the rum, and 1 tablespoon of cream in a very cool oven, or in a bowl over simmering water.  Cool and add 2 tablespoon of cream into the chocolate. Mix well, then fold that into the remaining softly whipped cream to avoid a blockage; don’t stir too much or it may curdle.

Sandwich the two meringue discs together with Chocolate and Rum Cream and decorate with chocolate wafers.

 

 

Chocolate Wafers

55 g (2 ozs) best quality dark chocolate

 

Meanwhile make the chocolate wafers.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water.  Stir until quite smooth.  Spread on a flan piece of heavy, white notepaper or light card.  Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut in square or diamond shapes.

 

Good to know

The chocolate and rum cream can be tricky to make so stir well with the rum and cream, cool a little and fold in the softly whipped cream.

 

 

Lemon Fluff with Limoncello Cream

 

Serves 4-6

 

This is a gorgeous old-fashioned family pudding which separates into two quite distinct layers when it cooks; it has a fluffy top and a creamy lemon base, provided it is not overcooked.

 

40g (1½oz) butter

225g (8oz) castor sugar

3 organic free range eggs

75g (3oz/) plain flour

2 organic, unwaxed lemons

300ml (10fl oz) whole milk

 

icing sugar

 

To Serve

300ml softly whipped cream flavoured with Limoncello or crème fraiche

 

1 x 1.2L (2 pint) pie dish

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4,

 

Cream the butter until really soft, then add the castor sugar and beat well.

Separate the egg yolks and add whisk in one by one, then stir in the flour. Grate the rind of 2 lemons on the finest part of the grater. Squeeze and strain the juice and add the rind and the juice, then add the milk.

 

Whisk the egg whites stiffly in a bowl and fold gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into the pie dish, place in a bain-marie and bake in a moderate oven, 180ºC/Gas Mark 4,for 35-40 minutes approx.

Dredge with icing sugar.

 

Serve immediately alongside the softly whipped cream flavoured to taste with Limoncello, or some crème fraîche.

 

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