ArchiveOctober 5, 2019

A day out in Limerick

The Limerick Milk Market was buzzing on Saturday morning, throngs of eager customers on a mission to fill their shopping bags with goodies from the more than 70 stalls tucked into the market square, protected from the elements by an elegant canvas canopy.

I love the way every Farmers Market has its own vibe and unique collection of stall holders – yet the banter is the same, customers so grateful for the opportunity to buy beautiful artisan produce directly from local producers and what a choice. . . . Mimi Crawford was all out of raw milk by 11 o’ clock but still had just a few joints of her organic beef and pork and a couple of beautiful chickens from her regenerative farm in Cloughjordan in Co Tipperary. Delighted to find Oliver Beaujouan from Castlegregory with his brilliant selection of charcuterrie from happy outdoor Tamworth pigs “no vaccines, no GM or Soy in the feed”. I also bought some dilisk and a delicious guanciale as well as the garlic salami. Sefik from Turkey was busy juicing fresh pomegranates and oranges and had a tantalising array of borek. Country Choice was humming and loaded with temptations. Round the corner, people were bonding in the long queue for the Country Choice toasted baps, sandwiches and rolls – well worth the wait. Peter and Mary Ward’s daughter Evie’s also award winning NutShed stall is close by, selling what many consider to be the very best nut butters available in Ireland.

 The Sushi Truck was also doing a roaring trade, luscious cannoli across the way, artisan breads, tempting home baking, beautiful bunches of flowers, floury British Queens potatoes all the way from Wexford side by side with bric a brac. A tremendous selection of local homegrown vegetables and fruit. Crunchy Spiralaetos anyone? Tiermoyle honey with hazelnuts or walnuts.

Upstairs, Ciara Brennan was all smiles on her Happy Food at Home stall with a selection of plant based, vegetarian and vegan salads. A mesmerizing selection of olives , Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzarella and  many other good things on the Olive Stall.

Round the side of Country Choice, I made another exciting discovery Foragers called Thalli foods was behind her hessian covered stall , with an intriguing selection of wild foods from land and seashore – fat rosehips, wood and sheeps tongue sorrel, sea blite, water pepper, yarrow, wild garlic pickles, fennel and sea blite kraut, elderflower vinegar . . .

There were many more stalls around the perimeter of the market, including pork and bacon from Cloncannon Bio Farm in Moneygall  – By then my bags were laden with many good things for a picnic but I really wanted to check out Sodalicious on Lower Cecil street owned by Ballymaloe alumni, Jane Conlan. An inspired concept where virtually everything on the menu is based on, or served with brown or white soda bread or scones in their many incarnations. Delicious food in a contemporary space, worth seeking out.. . .

 Alexander Findlater & Co Food Hall is another contact for your list. If you visit Limerick, find time to head to the Hunt Museum for their latest exhibition.

Then back to Glin Castle, one of Ireland’s loveliest places to take a relaxing break. A few recipes inspired by my visit to Limerick….

White Soda Bread Pesto Swirl

Makes 10 – 12

450g (1lb) plain white flour

25g (1oz) cold butter

Pinch of salt

25g (1oz) castor sugar

1½ teaspoons baking powder

2 small free range eggs

200ml whole milk (not low fat milk)

Homemade Basil Pesto (see recipe below)

Homemade Basil Pesto

4ozs (110g) fresh basil leaves

6 – 8fl oz (175 – 225ml) extra virgin olive oil

1oz (25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2oz (50g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)

salt to taste

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.

Preheat the oven to 250˚C/gas mark 9

1 roasting tin   33cm x 22.9cm x 5.08cm deep,   well buttered

First make the basil pesto. Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar.  Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season. 

Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don’t add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

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 cold butter into cubes or grate coarsely, 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 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 1cm thick x 45cm long. 

Slather liberally and evenly with the homemade pesto over the scone dough, roll tightly from the long side and if needed egg wash the edge and pinch to seal.  Divide into four and then each into three swirls, to give you 12 altogether.  Brush cut side of each with egg wash.  Arrange side by side in the buttered roasting tin, allowing a little room for expansion.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.

Serve while still warm or at room temperature Pull apart gently like a tear and share – … problem is where to stop….

A Breakfast in a Soda Bun

Makes 8 – 10 scones

450g (1lb) plain white flour

25g (1oz) butter

Pinch of salt

25g (1oz) castor sugar

1½ teaspoons baking powder

2 small free range eggs

200ml whole milk (not low fat milk)

8 – 10 bacon rashers fully cooked

4 – 5 hard boiled eggs

Watercress sprigs

Homemade mayonnaise or homemade ketchup (featured on Examiner website)

First preheat the oven to 250ºC/475°F/gas mark 9.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board.  Knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round.  Roll out to about a thickness of 2cm (1 inch) and cut or stamp into scones.  Transfer to a baking sheet – no need to grease.  Brush the top of the scones with egg wash.

Bake in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Split the soda bun in half and butter. Fill with bacon, ½ hard boiled egg, a blob of mayonnaise or tomato ketchup and a sprig of watercress. Secure with a bamboo cocktail stick and serve immediately.

Blueberry and Mint Scones

Makes 8 – 10 scones, using a three inch cutter

450g (1lb) plain white flour

25g (1oz) butter

Pinch of salt

25g (1oz) castor sugar

110g (4oz) blueberries

1 tablespoon fresh mint finely chopped

1½ teaspoons baking powder

2 small free range eggs

200ml whole milk (not low fat milk)

For glaze:

egg wash

granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones

First preheat the oven to 250ºC/475°F/gas mark 9.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the blueberries and the chopped mint. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board.  Knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round.  Roll out to about a thickness of 2cm (1 inch) and cut or stamp into scones.  Transfer to a baking sheet – no need to grease. 

Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one into granulated sugar.

Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve split in half with butter and serve.

Filo Pastries with various Savoury Fillings (Börek)

1 packet of best quality filo pastry

Melted butter

Cut a sheet of filo in 4 or 6 strips.  Brush with melted butter. 

Put a heaped teaspoonful of the filling of your choice onto the end of each strip, fold and roll into a triangle.  Brush with butter, arrange on ungreased baking trays and chill.

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

Brush the tops with egg beaten with water, and bake in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until a warm golden colour.

Savoury Fillings

Certain fillings are common to many savoury pastries – here are a few:

Cheese Filling

500g (18oz) cheese, grated

2 eggs, beaten

white pepper

Use Greek Halumi, Gruyère, Cheddar, Edam, Gouda or a mixture of any of these with a little Parmesan.  Mix the grated cheese with beaten eggs and season to taste with pepper.

Variation: a little pinch of nutmeg and a little crushed mint is also a delicious addition.

Meat Filling

This is called a tatbila

1 medium or large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons oil or butter

500g (18oz) lean lamb or beef, minced

2 tablespoons  pine nuts

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

Gently fry the onion in the oil or butter (I prefer to use oil) until soft and a pale golden colour.  Add the meat and fry lightly until it changes colour.  Stir in the pine nuts and fry for a further 2 minutes.  The pine nuts can also be fried separately and added at the end.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and if liked, cinnamon or allspice.  Some even add a little sugar.  Moisten with about 5 tablespoons water – the meat will otherwise be too dry for a filling.  Cook for a few minutes more until the water is absorbed and the meat tender. 

Variation:  in some countries cumin and coriander are preferred as flavouring spices for this popular filling. 

Spinach Filing

500g (18oz) fresh spinach or 225g (8oz) frozen chopped or leaf spinach

1 tablespoon butter

125g (4 1/2oz) Gruyère or Cheddar cheese, grated

1 egg

Black pepper

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)

Trim the steams of the fresh spinach, wash carefully and chop the leaves finely.  Put in a sauté pan with the butter.  Cover and let it cook in its own juices over a very low heat, stirring occasionally until tender.  If using frozen spinach, de-frost it and squeeze all the water out.

Stir in the grated cheese, the lightly beaten egg and black pepper to taste.  Do not add salt unless necessary.  Take into account the saltiness of the cheese melting into the spinach.  Add a little nutmeg if you like and mix well. 

Homemade Lemonade

If you keep some chilled ‘stock syrup’ made up in your fridge all these fresh fruit drinks are simplicity itself to make. They contain no preservatives so they should be served within a few hours of being made. Many different types of citrus fruit may be used.

Stock Syrup

Makes 825ml (28fl oz)

450g (1lb) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.  This quantity is enough for several batches of lemonade.

NB: Please measure the correct amount of syrup carefully for the lemonade. It is not necessary to use the all the stock syrup made.

Ruby Grapefruit and Pomegranate Lemonade

freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

freshly squeezed juice of 4 ruby grapefruit

450ml (16fl oz) stock syrup

water or sparkling water to taste

seeds of 1 pomegranate (put into ice cubes with fresh mint leaves)

Juice the fruit, add the syrup and add water or sparkling water to taste.

Serve chilled with mint and pomegranate seed ice cubes.

Variation

Ruby Grapefruit and Pomegranate Soda

Substitute soda water for plain or sparkling water and proceed as above.

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