ArchiveNovember 2018

Kylie Magner’s Free Range Eggs

Kylie Magner grew up on a mixed farm in South East Australia where she developed her love of the land and animals. There were always chores to do through challenging times and good times.

At a recent Slow Food event here at the Cookery School, Kylie recounted the story of her arrival in Ireland where she immediately felt at home. She met her husband Billy at Coolmore Stud where she worked her way up to Media Director. The couple now have four children and live on Magners Farm in Moyglass near Fethard. Kylie wanted to pass on the love of the land and farming that she inherited from her parents in New South Wales to her children …..

Kylie racked her brains to find a way to earn a living on their small farm in Tipperary. Free range egg production seemed a good solution, after all eggs are a fantastically versatile and nourishing food, enjoyed by most people. Below is a selection of some simple and delicious recipes to whip up should you have a few eggs in your pantry.

For Kylie, chickens seemed relatively inexpensive to get started with, they would generate fast cash flow and have the environmental advantage of a lighter foot print on the land than cattle.

Magner’s hens are truly free range and are moved to fresh, green pasture every week, sometimes every day. Kylie believes that chickens should be allowed the freedom to act naturally.

When a hen is fed on a diet closer to their natural omnivorous state, the nutrition of the egg improves significantly. This results in a flavourful, nutrient dense product and the manure they produce enhances the fertility of the soil.

Eggs from hens raised on pasture can contain: 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A,  2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and 4-6 times more vitamin D.

This is because they consume a more natural diet including seeds, worms, insects & green plants plus a lot of sunshine.

The colour, flavour and texture of pasture raised eggs is distinctive. They contain Vitamins A, D, E, K2, B-12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, beta carotene, choline, and tons of omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, EPA, ALA, and AA.

A pasture-raised egg is a true ‘superfood’. Second only to the lactalbumin, protein in human mother’s milk, eggs have the highest quality protein of any food.

A little over one year later, Magners Farm now have over 600 laying hens, but yet they can scarcely keep up with the demand for their eggs.

Last Winter they had a 96% laying rate so pasture reared hens are clearly happy…..

Magners Eggs sell at local Farmers’ Markets at €5.00 per dozen

Last Summer, they produced 250 free range chickens for the table, using the same high welfare principles.

Kylie has now started another project making chicken bone broth, available in glass jars €5.50 see www.magnersfarm.com

Plans for the future ……This is a sustainable model of farming, Kylie would love to see more pasture raised chickens around the country, generating income for farmers and improving the land at the same time. The country needs more people like Kylie, with a commitment to sustainability and to producing nourishing wholesome food.

 

Freshly Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Mothers all over the country cut up fingers of toast for children to dip into soft-boiled eggs. In our family we call them ‘dippies’.

 

2 fresh free range organic eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

a few pats of butter

1 slice of fresh best quality white loaf bread

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, bring the water back to the boil and simmer gently for 4-6 minutes, according to your taste. A four minute egg will be still quite soft, five minutes will almost set the white while the yolk will still be runny, 6 minutes will produce a boiled egg with a soft yolk and solid white.

 

Meanwhile toast the bread, cut off the crusts and spread with butter. Cut in fingers. Immediately when the eggs are cooked, pop them into egg cups, put the ‘dippies’ on the side and serve with a pepper mill, sea salt and a few pats of butter.

 

Boiled Eggs with Marmite

Spread the hot buttered toast with Marmite and cut, dip and enjoy.

 

 

Stir-fried Eggs with Garlic Chives and Shrimps

I’ve been to China several times recently, this is a favourite Cantonese family recipe.

If Chinese garlic chives are not available use common chives but less. I use the deliciously sweet pink shrimp from Ballycotton on the South coast of Ireland.

Wild garlic or ramps are of course wonderful to use while they are in season in spring.

 

Serves 2-4

40-50g Chinese chives (garlic chives – allium tuberosum)

4 organic eggs

1 tablespoon milk

110g cooked, little Ballycotton shrimps, peeled

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon peeled ginger, freshly grated

 

Garlic chive flowers

 

Accompaniment

Soy sauce

Slice the Chinese chives into 2cm lengths.

Whisk the eggs with the milk, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok until almost smoking.

Add the shrimps, toss for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to toss for a further minute or so. Add the garlic chives, toss once or twice and turn out onto a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, allow to heat again. Add the beaten egg and cook, stirring with a straight ended wooden spoon until the egg starts to scramble and form soft folds. Add the shrimp mixture, stir for a minute or two. Taste and correct the seasoning. Turn out onto a serving plate, scatter with a few fresh garlic chive flowers if in season and share while still warm.

Serve with soy sauce

 

 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4

4.5 litres (8 pints) water to 1-2 tablespoons salt

450g (1lb) spaghetti

 

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

200g (7oz) thick sliced smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into strips 1 cm (1/2 inch) wide

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3-4 free range eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley

90g (3 oz) freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)

1-2 tablespoons flat parsley, freshly chopped to serve

 

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti until ‘al dente’.  Drain well.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat.  Add the smokey bacon or pancetta and cook, stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes, until coloured and slightly crispy.  Add the black pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the spaghetti and toss with the smokey bacon or pancetta and oil until warmed through.

Combine the eggs, crème fraîche and parsley and add to the pan.  Remove from the heat and stir constantly for 1 minute to allow the heat from the oil and spaghetti to cook the eggs.  Stir in three-quarters of the freshly grated Parmesan.

Transfer the hot pasta to a large shallow bowl and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and freshly chopped parsley.

 

Spinach, Feta and Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Frittata

The basic frittata recipe here can be used as a basis for many herbs and vegetables in season, we love this autumn version.
We use blobs of Ardsallagh goat cheese in this recipe if we don’t have feta.

Serves 8

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

500g (18oz) sweet potato or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1cm dice

 

10 large eggs, preferably free range organic

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons marjoram, chopped

2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

150g (5oz) fresh spinach, shredded into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice (weight 380g (13 1/4oz) before de-stalking)

75g (3oz) Gruyére cheese, grated

25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated

 

200g (7oz) feta or fresh goats’ cheese

25g (1oz) butter

 

To serve:

Rocket leaves

30g (1 1/4oz) toasted Italian pine kernels or cashew nuts

extra virgin olive oil

 

Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (8 1/2 inch) frying pan

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Put the sweet potato or pumpkin dice onto a small oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with half teaspoon flaky sea salt (the feta cheese will be salty so don’t overdo the salt), and lots of freshly cracked pepper, stir and cook in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked and tender. Remove from the oven.

 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, shredded spinach and grated cheese into the eggs.  Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs.  Sprinkle the roast pumpkin evenly over the surface, dot with feta or goat cheese, press in gently.  Cook for 3-4 minutes over a low heat.

Transfer to the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes.  Flash under the grill for a couple of minutes if colour is needed.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

To Serve

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.

Arrange some rocket leaves on top of the frittata, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and scatter with toasted pine kernels or coarsely chopped cashews, and a few flakes of sea salt.

 

Breakfast Quiche

Serves 6

 

1 x quantity Shortcrust Pastry (see recipe)

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

175g 6oz) streaky bacon cut into 1cm (1/2in) lardons

100g (4oz) chopped onions

3 eggs and 2 egg yolks

300ml (1/2 pint) double cream

1 scant tablespoon chopped parsley

1 scant tablespoon chopped chives

110g (4oz) Gruyère cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

23cm (9 inch) diameter baking tin

 

Basic Shortcrust Pastry

 

6 ozs (175g) white flour, spelt or sieved wholemeal flour

3 ozs (75g) butter

pinch of salt

beaten egg or water (to bind)

 

Sieve the flour with the salt, 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.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Line the tart tin and ‘bake blind’ for about 25 minutes. The base should be almost fully cooked.  Remove the parchment paper and beans, brush the base with a little beaten egg white and replace in the oven for 3-4 minutes.  This will seal the base and avoid the “soggy bottom” effect.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until crisp. Remove to a plate and cool. Add the chopped onions to the pan and sweat gently on a low heat in the same oil for a further 10 minutes – covered.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, add the cream, herbs, cheese and cool bacon and onions. Mix well and add seasoning. Taste or otherwise, heat a frying pan, cook a teaspoon of the mixture on a gentle heat for 2 or 3 minutes until it coagulates – taste and if necessary correct the seasoning.

Pour the filling into the pastry base and return to the oven for 30–40 minutes or until the centre has just set. Serve warm with a green salad and relish.

 

Classic Omelette with Chanterelle Mushrooms

Serves 1

An omelette is the ultimate instant food but many a travesty is served in its name. The whole secret is to have the pan hot enough and to use clarified butter if at all possible. Ordinary butter will burn if your pan is as hot as it ought to be. The omelette should be made in half the time it takes to read this introduction, your first, may not be a joy to behold but persevere, practice makes perfect!

 

2 eggs, preferably free range and organic

1 dessertspoon water or milk

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dessertspoon clarified butter or olive oil

 

omelette pan, preferably non stick, 9 inch (23cm) diameter

 

First make the mushroom a la crème below, the recipe makes plenty but will keep in your fridge for 4-5 days.

To make the omelette, warm a plate in the oven.  Heat the omelette pan over a high heat.  Meanwhile whisk the eggs with the water or milk in a bowl, until thoroughly mixed but not too fluffy. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Put the warm plate beside the cooker.

 

Add the clarified butter to the pan, as soon as it sizzles, pour in the egg mixture. It will start to cook immediately so quickly pull the edges of the omelette towards the centre with a metal or plastic slice, tilting the pan so that the uncooked egg runs to the sides. Continue until most of the egg is set and will not run any more, the omelette may need to cook for a further 5 seconds to brown the bottom.  The centre should still be soft and moist.  If you are using a filling, spoon the hot mixture in a line along the centre at this point.

 

Wild Mushroom a la Crème

(use Autumn Chanterelle this time of year)

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.

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/1 cup) cream

freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)

 

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.

To fold the omelette: Add a generous spoonful of your mushroom a la crème. Flip the edge just below the handle of the pan into the centre, then hold the pan almost perpendicular over the plate so that the omelette will flip over again, then half roll half slide the omelette onto the plate so that it lands folded into three. (It should not take more than 30 seconds in all to make the omelette, perhaps 45 if you are adding a filling). Serve immediately.

Our Eating Habits Are Changing….

Our eating habits have changed drastically in the last few decades. One in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan according to a recent report on food shopping. A further 21% claim to be flexitarian eating a predominantly ‘plant based’ diet, occasionally supplemented with a little meat or fish. That amounts to a staggering one third of UK consumers that have reduced or removed meat entirely from their diet. This rapid and dramatic change is being fuelled by the perception that farm animals are one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions… However it is important to realise that those statistics were based on ‘feed lot’ systems rather than grass fed or pasture raised cattle.

Animal welfare issues are high on the list of concerns that have swayed the 18-34 year olds. This age group particularly are becoming much more curious and concerned about how their food is being produced.

Many have lost trust in multinational food companies, supermarkets, governments and the health service. They are confused by food labelling and are becoming more and more desperate as food allergies and intolerances grow exponentially. Consumers are demonstrating increasing concern about the impact of our food choices and behaviour on the environment.

The focus on the effect of plastic on our oceans (see BBC’s, Blue Planet 2) and the fact that up to 9 different types of plastics were found in human stools in a recent study conducted by the Environment Agency Austria, has shocked people into action.

We want our governments to legislate for less plastic packaging and we want our supermarkets to be proactive about reducing plastic.

For the first time this year The Good Food Guide highlighted restaurants with vegan menus. The UK supermarket group Waitrose, have created vegan sections in 134 of their stores and launched a range of more than 40 vegan and vegetarian meals. This is not going to change anytime soon. My gut feeling is that a plant based diet with lots of fresh organic vegetables, fresh herbs and grains, organic eggs, dairy and some meat and fish is the best for humans, animals and the planet.

In the sage words of Michael Pollan, “Eat food, mostly plants and not too much”.

Virtually every week in this column I include vegetarian and vegan dishes without necessarily highlighting the fact but from now on I will – but do go out of your way to find chemical free food and if you’ve decided to follow a vegan diet you’ll need to source even more nutrient dense foods and supplement with B12 which cannot be sourced from plants.

Vegetable and Tofu Curry

You’ll love this curry, even ardent curry haters can’t get enough of this deliciously spiced dish.  It’s also an excellent base for lots of beans and pulses.

Serves 4 -6

 

2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 – 2 chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped

zest of 1 organic lemon or 2 limes

110g coriander leaves and stalks (coarsely chopped)

60g cashew nuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1 ½ tablespoon grated ginger

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons roasted and ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 x 400 ml tin of coconut milk

400ml homemade vegetable stock

500g pumpkin or sweet potato, diced 2cm approx

225g firm tofu, diced 2cm approx

225g French beans, green or a mixture of green and yellow

1 small cauliflower, approx. 350g in small florets

 

lots of coarsely chopped coriander

lemon or lime wedges

 

Whizz the garlic, chilli, citrus zest, roughly chopped coriander leaves and stalks, cashew nuts, ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt to a puree in a food processor.

 

Heat 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add the pureé, stir and cook for 3 – 4 minutes.

 

Add the whisked coconut milk and stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 8 – 10 minutes. Add the chunks of sweet potato or pumpkin or a mixture, return to the boil cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

 

Add the beans, cauliflower florets and tofu chunks, bring back to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, add the vegetables and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through.

Add a little lemon or lime juice if possible.

Taste and tweak the seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with lots of coarsely chopped coriander and serve with lime or lemon wedges.

Curried Lentils with Rice

Another comforting pot, a sort of cross between a dahl and a stew – one of my favourite supper dishes.  Omit the yoghurt for a vegan version.

 

Serves 6

 

200g Lentils du Puy or brown lentils

600ml water

Dry Spice Masala

1 teaspoon cardamom pods

6 cloves

3 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 bay leaves

1/2 cinnamon stick about 4cm

 

Wet Masala

30g fresh ginger, peeled

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1-2 chillies, destalked, seeded and chopped coarsely

1 onion (175 – 225g), peeled and chopped coarsely

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

sugar

4 tablespoons natural yoghurt

lots of fresh coriander

 

Garnish

sprigs of coriander

Plain Boiled Rice

 

Put the lentils into a saucepan, cover with 1.2 litres cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until just tender.

 

Meanwhile, make the dry spice masala.

Remove the seeds from the cardamom and discard the pods.  Put onto a frying pan with the cloves and cumin seeds.  Toast over a medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute, shaking the pan so they don’t scorch.  Transfer to a spice grinder and whizz to a coarse powder.  Transfer to a bowl, add the turmeric, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.

 

Next make the wet masala.

Put the ginger, garlic, chilli, onion and salt into a food processor.  Whizz to a smooth paste.  Heat the sauté pan, add the olive oil, when hot, add the wet masala, cook stirring over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the dry masala and chopped tomatoes, season generously with sugar.  Continue to cook, stirring regularly for 3-5 minutes or until the oil rises to the top.

 

Add the drained lentils (reserve the cooking water).  Stir and allow to bubble for 3-4 minutes to meld the flavour.  Add some of the lentil water to loosen if necessary.

 

To Serve

Stir in the yoghurt (if using) and lots of coriander, taste and correct the seasoning.

Garnish with some coriander sprigs.  Serve with basmati rice and enjoy.

 

Burmese Pennywort Salad

Serves 4

175g pennywort

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

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Oil

Shallot oil

1 tablespoon crushed peanuts

1 large or 2 small tomatoes, halved and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 teaspoons fermented bean paste

3 tablespoons fried shallots

Fish sauce or salt

 

Wash and dry the pennywort leaves.

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

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

Drain on kitchen paper.

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

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

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

Serve immediately, each salad is made to order.

 

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry

Serves 4

2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

50g (1¾oz) red onion, chopped

5 Curry leaves

8cm (3inch) piece of cinnamon stick

500g (1lb 2oz) beetroot, peeled and cut into 4cm (1½in) cubes

1½ teaspoon untoasted curry powder

10 fenugreek seeds

5 green chillies

225ml (8fl.oz) coconut milk, whisked

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Put oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat, add the chopped garlic, onion, curry leaves, curry powder and cinnamon to the pan, stir and cook for 2 minutes.   Then add the beetroot, stir and add the fenugreek seeds,  chillies and some salt.   Bring to the boil, add the coconut milk, and continue to cook for about 20 minutes or until the beetroot is tender.  Season to taste.

 

Myrtle Allen’s Poached Pears

A super simple recipe that transforms the flavour of even nondescript pears. Another inspired recipe from Myrle Allen’s The Ballymaloe Cookbook, published in 1977. Maybe double the recipe, they will keep for weeks in a Kilner jar in your fridge.

 

6 Pears

1 Lemon

4 ozs (110g/2 cup) sugar

 

Peel the pears thinly and core carefully.  Keep whole or cut in half if you choose, keeping a good shape.  Put them in a pan which will just fit them nicely.  Add the sugar, a few thin strips of lemon rind and the juice of the lemon.  Cover with a well fitting lid and cook gently until soft.  Cool and serve.  Dessert apples may be cooked like pears.

Note: Pears may also be poached in a light syrup of 2 parts water to 1 part vanilla sugar with a couple strips of lemon peel.

(Use 1 pint of water to 2 lb sugar)

 

 

 

Jerusalem Artichokes

Ted Dinan, Professor of Psychiatry at UCC and I shared a platform at the Science Foundation of Ireland and IIBN event at the River Lee Hotel recently.

Professor Dinan spoke about the ground breaking research he and his colleagues in UCC have done on the link between our physical and mental health and our gut biome. Given the conclusions of this research project and the indisputable link between the health of our gut biome and several autoimmune diseases including depression, there were many questions from the floor on how to enhance our gut flora…

Was there not a quick fix, a magic pill or supplement to fast track a solution? Professor Dinan stressed that very few of the nutritional and health claims on supplements could actually be substantiated.

Our food can and should be our medicine – we need a biodiverse diet to feed the approximately1.5 kilos of beneficial bacteria in our gut (equivalent to the weight of our brain).

Having observed students from all over the world responding positively to a diet of fresh naturally produced seasonal food over more than four decades, Ted’s scientific research confirms my ‘gut feeling’…pardon the pun!

It’s clear, we need to ditch fake food and eat lots of real food, not ‘edible food like substances’.

There are several hugely beneficial foods that we can consume to enhance our gut flora, but we both agree that Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes in the USA), top the list…. They have the highest inulin content of any vegetable, which promotes beneficial bacteria in the gut biome. By coincidence, Jerusalem artichokes are coming into season right now and will continue to be available until late February or early March.

The freshly dug Jerusalem artichokes I brought with me to show the audience were eagerly snapped up. Many people had never heard of them before and really wanted to know how to cook them. I explained that they are a prolific winter root vegetable, super easy to grow. In fact given half the chance they spread like crazy…Where you plant just one tuber in Spring, there will be at least ten for you to harvest next year.

Meanwhile seek them out at Farmers Markets from now on. They look like knobbly potatoes but when they are freshly dug there is no need to peel. Jerusalem artichokes are nutty, sweet and crunchy and are also an excellent source of iron.

They are super versatile and can be cooked in a myriad of ways just like potatoes and parsnips, they make delicious winter soups and gorgeous gratins. Add them to stews, or sliver them to cook as artichoke crisps. They roast deliciously whole or in slices and are hugely appealing added to salads. I love them gently stewed or tucked around a casserole roast chicken or pheasant so they absorb all the delicious juices.

Despite what the name implies, they are not in any way related to the globe artichoke although the flavour resembles the fleshy heart.

Jerusalem artichokes are actually from the sunflower family, the name may well have been derived from the Italian word ‘girasole’. Our children love them, their knobbly appearance provides lots of fun identifying little monsters.

Some modern varieties are less knobbly and thus easier to peel but in my experience have an inferior flavour. By the way, the cheery yellow flowers are edible too.

 

Good to know…

Jerusalem Artichokes, like Globe Artichoke hearts, oxidise within minutes if exposed to the air, so they need to be dropped into a bowl or acidulated water as soon as they are peeled. They also earn their nick name ‘fartichokes’ but that is just proof that they are doing a good job for your gut biome…

They store for weeks in a cold dark place – forgot to mention that Jerusalem Artichokes contain more protein than most root vegetables, a big plus for vegetarians and vegans.

 

 

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Chorizo Crumbs and Artichoke Crisps

Serves 8-10

50g (2oz) butter

560g (1 1/4 lb) onions, peeled and chopped

1.15kg (2 1/2 lbs) Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed, peeled and chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

1.1L (2 pints) light chicken stock

600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) creamy milk approx.

 

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onions and artichokes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes approx.  Add the stock and cook until the vegetables are soft. Liquidise and return to the heat. Thin to the required flavour and consistency with creamy milk, and adjust the seasoning.

 

Serve in soup bowls or in a soup tureen. Garnish with Chorizo Crumbs and Artichoke Crisps.

Note

This soup may need more stock depending on thickness required.

Chorizo Crumbs

Makes 175g (6oz)

 

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

125g (4 1/2oz) chorizo, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice

100g (3 1/2oz) coarse breadcrumbs

 

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

 

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

 

Artichoke Crisps

Serves 6 – 8

3-4 Jerusalem artichokes

sunflower or arachide oil

salt

 

Heat good quality oil in a deep fryer to 150C.

Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes well, slice in wafer thin rounds. Drop a few at a time into the hot oil, they colour and crisp up very quickly.  Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt.

 

Venison and Jerusalem Artichoke Stew

Shoulder of lamb also works excellently in this recipe.

Serves 6

900g (2lbs) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

250g (9oz) onions, sliced or roughly chopped

250g (9oz) leeks, sliced

3 cloves garlic

500g (18oz) artichokes, peeled and sliced crossways into 1cm (1/2 inch)

500g (18oz) carrots, peeled and sliced crossways into 1cm (1/2 inch)

1 teaspoon salt

900g (2lbs) venison or lamb shoulder cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes

1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints) venison, lamb or chicken stock

1 sprig of thyme

To Serve

Gremolata (see recipe)

Season 900g (2lbs) potato cubes well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and crushed garlic, toss and add the carrots and Jerusalem artichokes.  Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes until just beginning to colour at the edges.  Transfer to a casserole.  Add the venison or lamb and toss in batches over a high heat.  Add to the casserole with the stock and the sprigs of thyme and rosemary.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the diced potatoes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and continue to cook for 15-30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are cooked (lamb cooks faster than venison). Remove the thyme and parsley.  Taste and correct the seasoning and sprinkle with gremolata or just chopped parsley.

 

Gremolata

Gremolata is a fresh tasting mix of chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest. We use it to sprinkle over roast or braised meats, pastas or anything pan-grilled – delicious!

 

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) preferably flat parsley, chopped

1 generous teaspoon grated or finely chopped lemon zest

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

 

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and use soon.

 

Casserole Roast Pheasant with Jerusalem Artichokes

Pheasant adore Jerusalem artichokes, most of the large estates plant a patch specially as a treat for them.  It seemed logical to cook them together, and indeed it turns out to be a very good marriage of flavours.  Casserole roasting, the cooking method used here is a particularly good way to cook pheasant especially if it’s not in the first flush of youth.

Chicken or guinea fowl may also be cooked in this manner.

 

1 plump pheasant

25g (1oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

900g (2lb) Jerusalem artichokes

 

Garnish

chopped parsley or flat parsley sprigs

 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

 

Smear a little butter on the breast of the pheasant and brown it in the casserole over a gentle heat.  Meanwhile, peel and slice the artichokes into 1cm/½ inch pieces, remove the pheasant.  Add a little butter to the casserole toss the Jerusalem artichoke slices in the butter.  Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle maybe a tablespoon of water over the top.  Then replace the pheasant tucking it right down into the sliced artichokes so they come up around the sides of the pheasant.  Cover with a butter wrapper and the lid of the saucepan.

Cook for a further 1-1¼ hours.

Remove the pheasant as soon as it is cooked, strain and de-grease the cooking liquid if there is need but usually there’s virtually no fat on it.  The juices of the pheasant will have flavoured the artichokes deliciously.  Arrange the artichokes on a hot serving dish, carve the pheasant into 4 portions and arrange on top.

 

The artichokes always break up a little – that is their nature.  Spoon some juices over the pheasant and artichokes and serve scattered with chopped parsley or flat parsley sprigs.

Roast Jerusalem Artichokes (Slices)

This is a totally brilliant way to cook Jerusalem artichokes, great as a vegetable accompaniment of course, but also super delicious in warm salads or starters.

Serves 4 to 6

 

450g (1 lb) Jerusalem artichokes, well scrubbed.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

a few rosemary or thyme sprigs, optional

 

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

 

Slice the well scrubbed artichokes into 7mm (1/3 inch) rounds. Toss the Jerusalem artichokes with the extra virgin olive oil.  Season well with salt.  Arrange in a single layer on silicone paper on a roasting tin.  Roast for 10 minutes or until golden on one side then flip over and cook on the other side.   Test with the tip of a knife – they should be tender.  One could sprinkle with a little thyme or rosemary but they are perfectly delicious without any further embellishment. Season with freshly ground pepper and serve.

Food Scene in Rural Ireland

Super excited to have three new Michelin Star restaurants in County Cork, The Mews in Baltimore, West Cork under Chef Ahmet Dede, Ichigo Ichie in Cork City owned by Chef Takashi Miyazaki and Chestnut in Ballydehob with Chef Rob Krawczyk (a Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni). It focuses attention on the culinary scene outside the capital and hugely boosts the confidence of the many young chefs who are working tirelessly to raise standards in a time of tiny profit margins on food.

In the midst of all the euphoria came the budget and the reintroduction of the 13.5% VAT rate on restaurants, a whopping 4.5% increase from the 9% rate that enabled many, but not all to survive the recession. The hotel and restaurant scene in the capital is booming and profitable overall. The food scene in most of rural Ireland is quite a different scenario, the tourist season can be as short as 10 – 12 weeks. Many restaurants are just beginning to recover, from the crippling recession, starting to reinvest and were hoping to start a ‘rainy day fund’ to prepare for the inevitable next downturn which may not be too far away….

It’s all very disheartening….. To maintain standards, continue to pay staff and local food producers, prices will have to increase significantly to enable restaurants to even stand still – a 2% increase was anticipated – 4.5% has totally knocked the ‘wind out of the sails’ of an industry that does so much to create employment, put Ireland on the global food map and boost tourism. I’m truly saddened and apprehensive – this can only result in dumbing down of standards, loss of jobs and closures – I so hope I’m wrong…

Back to our home kitchens and let’s cook up some comforting food to cheer us up and ‘warm the cockles of our hearts’ as Autumn settles in. What better than a delicious pot of stew. Here are two of my current favourites. Lamb with a pearl barley risotto and gremolata and the other a veggie feast, spicy pumpkin or squash and coconut curry.

Must give a shout out to the recently published Currabinny Cookbook by super enthusiastic young foodies James Kavanagh and William Murray (ex Ballymaloe Cookery School). The book exudes a love of food and their mission to encourage other cool young people like themselves (they have a huge fan base on social media), to discover the joy and larks to be had around the kitchen stove, doing pop-ups, selling at Farmers Markets and sharing the yummy food they’ve cooked with friends.

Lots of good things to explore inside the covers of the Currabinny Cookbook (love the graphics too). I’ve chosen Parsnip and Fennel Soup with Macroom Brown Soda Bread, Ruby Chard Korma, and Lemon and Lavender Cake to tempt you to whizz out to buy the book published by Penguin Ireland.

Lamb Stew with Pearl Barley Pilaff and Fresh Herb Gremolata 

 

Serves 4-6

For the Stew

1.8kg (4lb) gigot or rack chops from the shoulder of lamb not less than 2.5cm (1 inch thick)

350g (12oz) green streaky bacon (blanch if salty)

seasoned white flour, preferably unbleached

a little butter or oil for sautéing

450g (1lb) onions, (baby ones are nicest)

30g (12oz) carrot, peeled and thickly sliced

750ml (1 3/4 pints) approx. lamb or chicken stock

sprig of thyme

roux – optional, mushroom a la crème (optional)

For the Pilaff

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

450g (1lb) pearl barley

3 pints lamb stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

350g (12oz) mushrooms, finely diced

450g (1lb) shallots, peeled and quartered

Gremolata

Gremolata is a fresh tasting mix of chopped herbs, garlic and lemon zest. We use it to sprinkle over roast or braised meats, pastas or anything pan-grilled – delicious!

 

4 mixture of flat parsley, chervil and mint, chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 generous teaspoon grated or finely chopped lemon zest

flaky salt to taste

First make the stew.

Cut the rind off bacon and cut into approx. 1/2 inch (1cm) cubes blanch if salty and dry in kitchen paper. Divide the lamb into 8 pieces and roll in seasoned flour. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until crisp, remove and put in a casserole. Add the lamb to the pan and sauté until golden then add to the bacon in the casserole. Heat control is crucial here, the pan mustn’t burn yet it must be hot enough to sauté the lamb. If it is cool the lamb will stew rather than sauté and as a result the meat may be tough. Then quickly sauté the onions and carrots, adding a little butter if necessary, and put them into the casserole. Degrease the sauté pan and deglaze with the stock, bring to the boil, pour over the lamb.

Add a sprig of thyme and bring to simmering point on top of the stove, cover the pot and then put into the oven for 45-60 minutes, 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4. Cooking time depends on how long the lamb was sautéed for.

When the casserole is just cooked, remove the thyme sprig, strain off the cooking liquid, degrease and return degreased liquid to the casserole and bring to the boil. Thicken with a little roux if necessary. Add back in the meat, carrots, onions and potatoes, bring back to the boil.

The casserole is very good served at this point, but it’s even more delicious if some mushroom a la crème is stirred in as an enrichment. Serve bubbling hot, sprinkled with chopped parsley and the pearl barley pilaff.

Meanwhile, make the pilaff.

Melt the butter in a deep saucepan, add the pearl barley, toss the grains in the butter.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and continue to cook until the pearl barley is fully cooked – 45-60 minutes approximately.

Meanwhile, chop the mushrooms, both stalks and caps.  Heat a little butter or oil in a frying pan, add all of the mushrooms, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cook over a medium heat stirring occasionally.  The mushrooms will exude liquid at first but continue to cook until all the liquid has been reabsorbed and the mushrooms have developed a deeper flavour.  Keep aside.

Peel the shallots, quarter, toss in 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and cook in a saucepan over a medium heat until soft and caramelised.  Alternatively, roast in the oven at 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 until soft and caramelised.

Fold both the mushrooms and the shallots into the pilaff.  Keep aside.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

While the stew and pilaff are being reheated, make the Gremolata.  Chop the herbs and garlic together, add the lemon zest, season to taste with a little flaky salt.

To Serve 

If necessary, reheat the stew and pilaff.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Spoon a serving of both stew and pilaff into a deep wide serving bowl, serve immediately.  Sprinkle some fresh herb gremolata over the top.

 

Spicy Butternut Squash or Pumpkin and Coconut Curry

 

A chunky stew with Asian flavours.  Squashes are brilliant vegetables to soak up Asian flavours and bulk up curries.

 

Serves 8

 

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 large onion, finely chopped, 185g (6 1/4oz)

3 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed and finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

5 spring onions, chopped

grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes

2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded (use dried if fresh are unavailable)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted and ground

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, roasted and ground

4cm (1 1/2 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1-3 small red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)

1 tablespoon fresh basil, torn

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh coriander

1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter

1 x 400g (14oz) can coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

2kg (4 1/2lbs) squash or pumpkin, deseeded, peeled and cut into 4cm chunks (1.5kg/3lb 5oz) flesh after peeling and deseeding)

 

To Serve

2 tablespoons toasted cashew nuts

fresh coriander leaves

Jasmine Rice

Mango Chutney or Mango Sambal (see recipe)

 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

 

Heat a sauté pan over a medium heat and add the oil.  Stir-fry the onion for 1-2 minutes before adding the lemongrass and garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients.   Stir gently. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the lid for 5 minutes before the end of cooking time.

 

The coconut milk may separate but this won’t affect the flavour.  Taste and add more fish sauce if necessary.  Pour into a warm serving dish.

Garnish with the toasted cashew nuts and fresh coriander leaves and serve with jasmine rice and mango chutney.

Mango Sambal

 

Serves 6 – 8

 

1 mango, diced finely (1 x 1 cm)

2 – 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons Nam pla – fish sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 – 2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary

salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Gently mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season and taste.  Allow the flavours to blend for at least 15 minutes before serving

 

Note:

Five Spice Powder contains ground star anise/cloves/cinnamon/Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds.

 

Currabinny Cookbook Parsnip and Fennel Soup

In this soup the natural sweetness of parsnip combines beautifully with the delicate aniseed flavour of fennel. The result is smooth, velvety and very elegant.

 

Serves 4–6

1 medium-sized onion

4 medium-sized parsnips

2 large fennel bulbs, stalks removed

1 stick of celery

15g fresh flat-leaf parsley

70g butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1½ litres vegetable stock

200ml milk

 

To serve:

fresh cream

fresh fennel fronds

 

Peel the onion and parsnips. Chop finely, together with the fennel bulbs and celery, to roughly the same size dice. Roughly chop the parsley leaves.

Melt the butter in a large pot or casserole dish. Add the onion, parsnips, fennel and celery, and season well with salt and pepper. Stir so that everything in the pot is well coated in the butter.

Construct a cartouche by cutting a circle of greaseproof paper which perfectly covers the inside of your pot. Press this down on the vegetables, sealing them in to cook. Put the lid on the pot and cook for around 10 minutes on a gentle heat. Check and stir at least once to make sure nothing is catching on the bottom.

Meanwhile, in another pot, heat up your vegetable stock until it comes to the boil. This will shorten the cooking time considerably.

When it’s boiling, remove the cartouche from the other pot and pour your hot stock over the vegetables, stirring the contents to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom.

Simmer on a medium heat for around 20 minutes until the vegetables are completely soft and tender.

Add the milk and parsley, and blend with a stick blender until completely smooth and creamy.

Check the seasoning and serve with a swirl of cream and some fennel fronds sprinkled on top of each bowl.

From the Currabinny Cookbook, by James Kavanagh & William Murray. Published by Penguin Ireland.

 

Currabinny Cookbook Macroom Brown Soda Bread

Could there be anything more Irish and down-to-earth than a classic soda bread made with wholewheat flour from the legendary Walton’s Mill in Macroom, Co. Cork, Ireland’s only surviving stone mill? We don’t think so!

 

 

Makes 8–10 slices

Butter, for greasing

180g cream flour

340g Macroom Stoneground Wholewheat Flour (extra coarse)

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon sea salt

70g Macroom Oatmeal

1 medium organic egg

575ml buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 180ºC fan/gas 6. Butter a 450g loaf tin.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the flours, bicarbonate of soda, salt and oatmeal to combine, then make a well in the centre.

Whisk together the egg and buttermilk in a jug, and pour into the dry mix. Using your hand as a claw, mix the ingredients together in a circular motion until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. When you remove the loaf from the tin, make sure to tap the bottom too, listening for that hollow sound just to be sure. Cool on a wire rack.

From the Currabinny Cookbook, by James Kavanagh & William Murray. Published by Penguin Ireland.

 

Currabinny Cookbook Ruby Chard Korma

William suggests keeping the stalks for another dish but we loved them finely shredded and added them as we were pouring in the water.

Serves 4–6

3 onions

3 cloves of garlic

a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger

700g chestnut mushrooms

a large knob of butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

seeds from 10 cardamom pods, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

a few pinches of ground cinnamon

a few pinches of chilli powder

3 bay leaves

200ml water

350g ruby chard

200g natural yoghurt

150g crème fraîche

 

To serve:

toasted flaked almonds

pomegranate seeds

basmati rice

 

Peel the onions, garlic and ginger. Slice the onions and mushrooms, grate the ginger and crush the garlic with some salt. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onions, garlic and ginger with some salt and pepper.

When the onions have softened a bit, add the cardamom, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, chilli powder and bay leaves. Now add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly. Pour in the water, stir, and simmer for 15 minutes, then check the seasoning.

Meanwhile, remove the stalks from the chard* and add the leaves in batches to the pot until it is all wilted. Turn the heat to low and gently stir in the yoghurt and crème fraîche.

Serve with rice and top with the almonds and pomegranate seeds.

From the Currabinny Cookbook, by James Kavanagh & William Murray. Published by Penguin Ireland.

 

Currabinny Cookbook Lemon and Lavender Cake

Combining lavender with lemon and yoghurt makes this cake sticky, subtle and utterly delicious.

 

Makes 8–10 slices

butter, for greasing

1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers

250g caster sugar

175g cream flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

a pinch of sea salt

2 medium organic eggs

250g Greek yoghurt

125ml rapeseed oil

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

dried lavender sprigs, to decorate

 

For the icing:

200g icing sugar

juice of 1 lemon

1 medium egg white

 

Preheat the oven to 160ºC fan/gas 4. Butter a 20cm springform cake tin and line with baking parchment.

Crush the lavender in a pestle and mortar. Put the caster sugar into a large bowl and mix the lavender through. Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and stir to combine.

In another bowl, mix the eggs with the yoghurt and rapeseed oil and pour this into the dry ingredients, stirring well. Add the lemon zest and juice.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for around 50 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin for a minute, then turn the cake out to cool fully on a wire rack.

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon juice, whisking until smooth. Add the egg white gradually to loosen the mixture until it is quite runny and pourable. The icing should be extremely sharp and lemony. Spoon this icing over the top of the cake until it covers the top and starts to drip down the sides.

Arrange some dried lavender sprigs on the top as decoration.

From the Currabinny Cookbook, by James Kavanagh & William Murray. Published by Penguin Ireland.

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