Clodagh McKenna

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Clodagh McKenna and I go back a very long way. In, 2000, Clodagh enrolled in a 12 Week Certificate Course here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, she was always bubbling with excitement and threw herself enthusiastically into learning how to cook delicious food. I remember how she was always ready to try out new ideas and delighted to get involved in any new project. After the course she went to Ballymaloe House and loved to work side by side with Mrs Allen, as we all called Myrtle.

The pioneering generation of artisan producers, particularly Giana and Tom Ferguson, Sally Barnes and of course with late Veronica Steele were also sources of inspiration. Clodagh’s enthusiasm was, and still is infectious.

The Midleton Farmers Market, started in June 2000 and was quickly oversubscribed. Even at that stage Clodagh was a budding entrepreneur, so when she couldn’t get a stall of her own I made a space on the side of the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall so she could sell her delicious homemade chicken liver pâté. From those beginnings she went on to do a TV program on The Farmers Markets with RTE and published her first book to accompany the series, The Irish Farmers Market Cookbook in 2009, and ‘the rest they say is history’…

She’s gone on with boundless energy to open several restaurants, do innumerable TV appearances both here and in the US and the UK including Rachel Ray, The Today Show and Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch.

Her latest book Clodagh’s Suppers exudes the essence of Clodagh, who loves laying a beautiful table almost as much as cooking delicious food – lots of super tips. Here she concentrates on menus for informal suppers rather than dinner and there is much to whet our appetites. Flowers, lighting and music are all part of the ambience.

Clodagh’s handwritten menus are built primarily around the seasons and there’s a page of supper suggestions for every new season but of course she encourages us to mix and match as we fancy, how about a Spring Gathering Supper, a Wild Garden Forest Supper, a West Cork Foraged Supper, a Summer Garden Supper or maybe an Edible Flower Supper…….?

Clodagh continues to create and test recipes every week for her U Tube channel and for her Evening Standard column.

Clodagh’s Suppers published by Kyle Books has already become a favourite….

 

 

Salmon Fishcakes with Horseradish Cream

 

SERVES 4

 

FOR THE SALMON FISHCAKES

400g floury potatoes, boiled and mashed

400g skinless salmon fillet, poached and flaked

2 spring onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon finely chopped dill

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

50g butter

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

FOR THE FRESH HORSERADISH CREAM

100ml crème fraîche

1 tablespoon peeled and grated

fresh horseradish root

grated zest and juice of ½ lemon

2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 lemon, cut into wedges, plus a

bunch of watercress (optional), to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

 

Place all the ingredients for the fishcakes except the butter in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

Divide the fishcake mixture into four balls and shape each into a patty.

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the fishcakes and brown on both sides. Transfer the fishcakes to a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.

 

While the fishcakes are baking, mix all the ingredients for the horseradish cream together in a small bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place each fishcake on a warmed plate with a spoonful of the horseradish cream and a wedge of lemon, plus a handful of watercress, if you wish.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books

 

Chicken Liver Pâté

 

Clodagh started making this pâté about 16 years ago when she first had her stall at the Midleton Farmers Market. It is one of her classic recipes.

 

SERVES 10

 

450g butter, softened

675g chicken livers, cleaned

3 tablespoons brandy

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

sea salt and freshly ground black

pepper

TO SERVE

Cucumber pickle

thinly sliced sourdough

 

Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the chicken livers and cook for about 15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked with no trace of red remaining, stirring occasionally and breaking up the livers with a wooden spoon. Transfer the cooked livers to a blender or food-processor.

Add the brandy, garlic and thyme to the frying pan and deglaze the pan by scraping up all the tiny pieces of meat and juices from the livers with a whisk – the base of the pan is where the real flavour is! Add the brandy mixture to the blender or food-processor and process until well blended. Leave to cool.

Gradually add the remaining butter to the cooled chicken liver mixture and blend until all the butter has been incorporated and you have a silky, smooth consistency.

Transfer the chicken liver pâté to a large dish, cover with clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours until set.

Serve the pâté with pickles and thinly sliced sourdough toast.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books

 

Butternut Squash & Harissa Hummus

Clodagh has created a delicious twist on the traditional hummus.

 

SERVES 6

400g butternut squash, peeled,

deseeded and cut into chunks

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

100ml water

3 tablespoons tahini paste

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus

extra for drizzling

1 tablespoon harissa, plus extra for drizzling

400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

sea salt and freshly ground black

pepper

TO SERVE

2 wedges of lemon

1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

 

Place the butternut squash chunks and whole garlic cloves in a roasting tray, season well with salt and pepper and add the water. Cover the tray with foil and bake for about 45 minutes until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Squeeze the roasted garlic from their skins into a blender or food-processor along with the squash and any juices from the roasting tray. Add all the remaining ingredients, season with salt and blend to a paste.

Scrape the hummus into a bowl. Drizzle with extra harissa, olive oil and pumpkin seeds. Serve with a couple of lemon wedges on the side.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books

 

Coconut & Lemon Cloud Cake

MAKES 1 CAKE

 

A beautifully light, fluffy cake scented with the exotic flavour of coconut and fresh, citrusy lemon, this is the perfect finale for a pungent wild garlic supper to cleanse the palate, although it works equally well as an afternoon or celebration cake. You can use coconut butter instead of dairy butter and/or coconut flour in place of the plain wheat flour. And for convenience, you can make and bake the cake layers a couple of days ahead and then prepare the frosting and assemble the cake on the day you are planning to serve it.

 

FOR THE CAKE

300g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

300g caster sugar

300g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing

250ml coconut milk

2 eggs

juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE FROSTING

200g unsalted butter, softened

250g icing sugar, sifted

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon coconut oil

200g raw coconut flakes, to decorate

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4, and lightly grease two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins.

For the cake, sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix in the sugar. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, coconut milk, eggs, lemon juice, coconut oil and vanilla extract and whisk together thoroughly. Then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and beat together until well combined.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared tins and level the surface with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for about 25 minutes or until well risen and golden.

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for about 15 minutes. Then remove them from the tins and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place all the ingredients in a bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer and use an electric hand mixer or the paddle attachment on the stand mixer to beat on a high speed until light and fluffy.

To assemble, place one of the cakes, top facing downwards, on a cake plate or stand and spread with about one-third of the frosting to cover it. Add the other cake, top facing upwards, and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle raw coconut flakes all over the cake to decorate.

From Clodagh’s Suppers by Clodagh McKenna. Published by Kyle Books

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Darina Allen
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