CategorySaturday Letter

Spanish Cheese Making

Maria Tajero learned how to made cheese from her mother and grandmother.   When we arrived, she sprinkled a few drops of rennet into a large saucepan of fresh milk which she had been slowly warming on the side of her stove.  She stirred it gently, covered the saucepan and left it to sit for about 30 minutes. While the curd was coagulating, we went out into the stone shed behind the kitchen to start the bread-making. The old wood-burning oven was tucked into one corner.
 
In Galician homes, bread is traditionally made about once a week, not in a bowl but in a waist high covered wooden chest with a drawer underneath for rolling pins . Maria had already filled the chest with flour – enough to make bread for the family for a week or ten days. When we came in on the
operation, a sponge of sourdough bubbled in the centre of the flour. Maria added copious amounts of warm salty water – enough to make a softish dough which we helped to knead.  She, then covered it with a folded sheet and gently closed down the lid of the box to allow the dough to rise. She and her husband Pepe then lit the 50 year old oven which was already filled with wood and some gorse. While the oven heated and the bread rose, we returned to the cheese making. By now, approximately 40 minutes later, the milk had coagulated into a soft curd, Maria cut the curd gently with a knife, then left it to sit while the whey gradually started to separate. About 10 minutes later she handed me a mug and indicated that I should gradually take away the whey (destined for the pigs)- sadly I don’t speak Spanish. When it became difficult to take out any more, we carefully lifted the curds into a plastic colander and drained them well, pressing down gently on the cheese and turning it over several times to get a firm shape. Sometimes the cheese is salted at this stage or it can be cut into slices and eaten fresh with sugar or honey.
 
When the cheese-making was finished, the oven was hot and most of the timber had burned, but there was still lots of ash. Maria grabbed a pole
and made a broom (a belacho) of fresh rushes tied securely with twine. With quick sure movements she brushed out the ash, then tested the heat by throwing a fistful of flour into the oven, it sparked instantly - too hot so we waited for the oven to cool slightly. Meanwhile the dough had more than doubled in bulk in the covered wooden chest, we knocked it back and formed it into 12 loaves. The last two had a spicy chorizo sausage hidden in the centre and were called ‘Bolo’. These were covered with a sheet while Pepe and Maria worked together to slide them into the oven one by one on the timber peel. The ‘bolo’ went in last after they had been wrapped in huge kale leaves. One loaf was flattened and dimpled with the fingertips like a focaccia. Those loaves were to be eaten first. They take a shorter time to cook and are eaten fresh. The larger loaves take approx. 2 hours in the wood burning oven and are stored after they have been cooled on a wire rack.
 
A little of each batch of uncooked dough is saved to start the next batch.   Nowadays Maria makes the bread for her family but in the past she also baked for the market in the local village of Castro de Ribeiras de Lea, described in last week’s article. We left laden with bread, cheese and some of Pepe’s delicious home made salsichon, communicating our thanks through smiles and hugs and the translation of Alexandra, daughter of Totin and Loli whose house we had rented. Alexandra had travelled from Santiago de Compostela, and had given up her afternoon so we could have this wonderful experience.  She too was fascinated to learn more about the traditional food culture of her native Galicia.   Interested in renting a house in Galicia? Contact Aideen Bernardez by e-mail  aideen.bernardez@teleline.es  or by phone 00 34 981 56 90 10

Home Made Cottage Cheese

This is a basic recipe for a soft cheese, it can be sweet or savoury, depending on what yummy additions you make to the finished product.
 
Yields 450g (1lb) cheese approx.
2.3L (4 pints) full cream milk
1 teaspoon liquid rennet
good quality muslin or cheesecloth
 
Put the milk into a spotlessly clean stainless steel saucepan. Heat it very gently until it is barely tepid. Add the rennet stirring it well into the
milk, (not more than 1 teaspoon,) too much will result in a tough acid curd.  Cover the saucepan with a clean tea towel and the lid. The tea towel
prevents the steam from condensing on the lid of the pan and falling back onto the curd. Put aside and leave undisturbed somewhere in your kitchen for 2-4 hours by which time the milk should have coagulated and will be solid.  Cut the curd with a long sterilized knife first in one direction then the other until the curd is cut into squares. Heat gently until the whey starts to run out of the curds.
It must not get hot or the curd will tighten and toughen too much. Ladle into a muslin lined colander over a bowl. Tie the corners of the cloth and
allow to drip overnight. Next day the curd may be used in whatever recipe you choose.

Home made Cottage Cheese with Fresh Herbs and Crackers

Serves 6 approx.
225g (8oz) home made cottage cheese (see recipe)
1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs - parsley, chives, chervil, lemon balm
and perhaps a little tarragon and thyme.
salt and freshly ground pepper
single Cream - optional
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
Home make crackers (see recipe)
 
Sieve the home-made cottage cheese. Mix in the freshly chopped herbs and garlic if using. If it is too firm, stir in a little cream. Season to
taste. It may even need a pinch of sugar. Fill into a pretty bowl and serve with home made crackers.

Homemade Crackers

Makes 25-30 biscuits
115g (4oz) brown wholemeal flour
115g (4oz) white flour, preferably unbleached
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
25g (1oz) butter
5-6 tablespoons cream
 
Mix the brown and white flour together and add the salt and baking powder.  Rub in the butter and moisten with cream enough to make a firm dough.  Roll out very thinly - one-sixteenth inch thick approx. Prick with a fork.  Cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares. Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4 for 20-25
minutes or until lightly browned and quite crisp. Cool on a wire rack.

Ballymaloe White Yeast Bread

This loaf is always served in a traditional plait shape in Ballymaloe but it can be shaped in many forms, from rolls to loaves or even in to animal
shapes! It is a traditional white yeast bread and once you have mastered this basic techinique the sky is the limit.

Makes 2 x 1 lb (450g) loaves
20g (¾oz) fresh yeast
425ml (15 floz) water
30g (1oz) butter
2 teaspoons salt
15g (½ oz) sugar
675g (1½ lbs) strong white flour
Poppy seeds or Sesame seeds for topping – optional
2 x loaf tins 13 x 20cms (5″ x 8″)

Sponge the yeast in 150ml (5fl oz) of tepid water, leave in a warm place for about five minutes. In a large wide mixing bowl, sieve the flour, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter, make a well in the centre. Pour in the sponged yeast and most of the remaining lukewarm water. Mix to a
loose dough adding the remaining liquid or a little extra flour if needed
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, cover and leave to relax for 5 minutes approximately. Then knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth, springy and elastic (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough).
Put the dough in a large delph bowl. Cover the top tightly with cling film (yeast dough rises best in a warm moist atmosphere).
When the dough has more than doubled in size, 1½ – 2 hours, knock back and knead again for about 2 to 3 minutes. Leave to relax again for 10 minutes. Shape the bread into loaves, plaits or rolls, transfer to a baking sheet and cover with a light tea towel. Allow to rise again in a warm place, until the shaped dough has again doubled in size.
The bread is ready for baking when a small dent remains when the dough is pressed lightly with the finger. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with
poppy or sesame seeds if using them. Or dust lightly with flour for a rustic looking loaf. Bake in a fully preheated hot oven, 230C/450F/regulo 9 for 25 – 35 minutes depending on size. The bread should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
To make a plait- Take half the quantity of white yeast dough after it has been ‘knocked back’ , divide into three equal pieces. With both hands roll each one into a rope, thickness depends on how fat you want the plait. Then pinch the three ends together at the top, bring each outside strand into the centre alternatively to form a plait, pinch the ends and tuck in neatly. Transfer onto a baking tray. Allow to double in size. Egg wash or dredge with flour.

A Galician Bobo

Make the yeast bread dough as above. Divide in half. Roll into a rectangle, slice 2 small chorizo in half lengthways. Lay the pieces of
chorizo on the dough, fold in the sides to cover. Pinch with your fingers to seal, turn over, allow to rest until double in size. Bake in a preheated
oven 230C/450F/regulo 8, for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 200C/400F/regulo 6,
for a further 20-30 minutes, or until crusty and golden.
 

The Wilds of Galicia

The girls had already been asking aloud why we needed to drive for hours into the wilds of Galicia to find what sounded to them like a home from
home. Eventually down a winding country lane in a woodland clearing, we found O Paco, an enchanting 200 year old stone farmhouse with characteristic scalloped slate roof. The owners, who didn’t speak a word of English, were waiting greet us and proudly showed us round the grounds. They indicated that we could help ourselves to beans, chilli, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and other fresh produce from the vegetable garden. On the way back up to the house we passed apple trees, raspberries and wild mint, and the henhouse where 5 hens and an impressive looking Galician cockerel strutted their stuff.
We collected the warm freshly laid eggs from the nests and made our way towards the 200 year old farmhouse which was furnished
traditionally, with simple country furniture, jamon and other cured hams hung over the open fireplace in the sittingroom. We were shown each room
individually and finally we arrived in the kitchen where they had thoughtfully laid out some wonderful cured meat, a basket of fresh produce,
some fruit and crusty bread from the bakery in the nearby village of Castro de Ribeiras de Lea.  They had also gone to considerable efforts to collect tourist information in English, and maps of the area so we could explore. Further exploration into the outbuildings revealed a huge trampoline, a billiard table and a large selection of games.
The pool was deep enough to dive comfortably and there were lots of seats, umbrellas and masses of comfy cushions to relax. The owners, having heard of our interest in farming and food production, had organised for us to visit a local farm where the owners Pepe and Maria Tajero Lorenzo make cheese and bake bread in the traditional way in their wood burning oven.  They have a 40 hectare farm -some cows, sheep and pigs and farm primarily to supply their own needs and the needs of their local market. They had worked hard through the years and now semi-retired had a very comfortable lifestyle and farmhouse. They were very conscious of the value of the traditional way of life and the importance of passing on these values to their children and grandchildren.
Like the majority of their neighbours they grew their own vegetables, had hens, milk from their cows and reared a few pigs. The pigs were fattened
from scraps and home- produced grain and were killed around November. All the neighbours helped to cure the meat, the hams were salted for jamon, the shoulders cured, the streaky pork made into pancetta. Less choice cuts were made into salchicha and chorizo, which were filled into the intestines.  The fillet was cured to make loma, blood and other pieces of pork and offal were made into a blood sausage called morcilla. The tail, ears, feet, were all cured and relished. The head was made into a delicious confection similar to our brawn. Every scrap was used and shared with family,
neighbours and friends who reciprocated when they were curing their own pigs. This immediately conjured up memories of my childhood in Co Laois and holidays in Co Tipperary where the ritual of killing and curing the bacon and making black and white pudding was the highlight of every year.

Garlic Soup – Sopa de Ajo

1¾ pints (1 litre) water
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
6 teaspoons olive oil
2 eggs, (or one per person)
16 slices toasted white bread
4 thin slices Serrano ham
Put the water on to boil in a large saucepan. Chop the garlic and brown in
the olive oil in a frying pan. Add the paprika, being careful not to let it
burn. Mix a little of the paprika with some water and add it to the boiling
water. Boil for a few minutes. Cut the ham into strips, fry lightly, then
add to the water. Toast the bread and use to line a soup tureen. Add the
eggs, 1 per person, then pour on the hot soup. Allow the eggs to cook a
little, then serve immediately.

Hake with Clams and Peas – Merluza con Almejas Y Guisantes


12 pieces of hake, each weighing about 5oz (150g)
16 teaspoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic
1 small glass white wine
24 clams
10oz (275g) peas
3 teaspoons chopped parsley
2 hard boiled eggs
flour for frying
Chop the garlic and parsley very finely. Wash the clams under cold water.
Hardboil the eggs, peel and cut into quarters.
Heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic. Coat the hake in flour and add a
little salt. When the garlic starts to brown add the fish to the pan.
Stir the contents with a zig zag movement. After 5 minutes turn the fish
over and stir again. Gradually add the white wine, then, still stirring, add
about 10 tablespoons of water or fish stock if available. Finally, add the
peas, followed by the hard-boiled eggs. Stir again, then add the chopped
parsley.
Serve with triangles of fried bread.

Beef with Pine Kernel and Olive Sauce – Carne con Salad de Pinones Y
Aceitunas


18oz (500g) beef cut into 1½-2 inch (4-5cm) chunks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
2oz (50g) pine kernels
4 sprigs of parsley
3½ fl.ozs (100ml) olive oil
1 hard boiled egg
14fl.ozs (400ml) water
1 teasp. paprika
3½ oz (100g) pitted green olives
Heat the oil in a large casserole. Fry the beef until it starts to brown,
then remove from the casserole and put to one side.
Using the same oil, lightly fry the chopped onion, then add the paprika,
followed by the water, fried beef, olives and some salt.
Cover the casserole and cook over a low heat until the meat is tender,
45mins – 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the tomatoes and the garlic, unpeeled, in a non-stick pan,
turning them frequently. When they are ready, peel the cloves of garlic,
and peel and remove the seeds from the tomatoes.
In a mortar, mash the pine kernels, parsley, garlic and tomato flesh, then
add the mixture to the meat when it is cooked.
Finally, finely chop the boiled egg and sprinkle it over the other
ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes and serve.

Lemon Ice-cream – Helado de Limon


9 fl.ozs (250ml) milk
1 egg
5oz (150g) sugar
juice of 1 lemon
zest of ½ lemon
Separate the egg and beat the yolk with the milk. Gradually mix in the
sugar, then the lemon juice and zest. Beat the egg white until stiff and
add to the other ingredients. Put in the freezer. When the mixture starts
to freeze, remove from the freezer and beat again. Put it back in the
freezer until it is ready.
Meanwhile, chill the dishes in which the icecream will be served. Decorate
with mint leaves.

Basque Lemonade – Ardaurgozatza


Wash 8 lemons thoroughly, then peel off the rind without the pith. Leave to
soak in 2 litres of water for 24 hours. The following day, add 1 litre of
red wine and 1 litre of white wine, both chilled. Mix well and chill
thoroughly. Serve right through dinner, from the appetizers to the dessert.
Coquitos
9 oz (250g) desiccated coconut
9 oz (250g) sugar
3 eggs
Beat the eggs, add the sugar and then the coconut. Mix well. Grease a
baking sheet with oil and spoon on the mixture in small mounds.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 160C/325F/ regulo 3, until golden.

Galicia north western Spain

Driving through central Galicia in north western Spain was wonderfuly reminiscent of rural Ireland 20 years ago. The climate is similar so the countryside is green and well-wooded. Small mixed farms, dairy, tillage, all have a vegetable patch, a few fruit and nut trees, some hens and an air of self-sufficiency. Some older men still wear the black beret and many women still wear cross-over aprons, similar to those I remember so well from my childhood. Men and women work side by side in the fields together.

There were few young people, most work in the towns and cities. Grannies dressed in black sat under the shade of an apple or fig tree outside their stone houses with heavy slate roofs, sorting onions or shelling beans, often helped by grandchildren. There were few tractors in evidence, but there was a real sense of a community, farmers and country people in touch with nature and the land in a way that is fast disappearing in Ireland. Wednesday is market day in the little village of Castro di Rivera, 10 kilometres from Lugo.

Suddenly the otherwise sleepy village comes to life, 25-30 stalls set up around the central square selling fruit and vegetables, local honey, cured meats including the famous jamon, morcilla blood sausages, pancetta, chorizo, salted ribs, pigs’ heads, ears and tails. Some stalls sell shoes and clothes, and knicknacks, others offer CD’s of lively Spanish music. Yet another sells hand-made knives and scales, pots and pans and tools.

An old man stood shyly beside his beautifully made baskets and timber trugs and a traditional timber chest which is still used for making bread in many country farmhouses. In the centre of the square under the oak trees, a family set up an open air Pulperia (octopus stall). Huge big cauldrons of octopus bubbled away. There were two stalls, one appeared much more popular than the other. We joined the longer queue deciding that the locals probably knew best. Queing can be boring and frustrating but on this occasion it was absolutely fascinating. We watched the entire operation. The raw prepared octopus seemed to be soaking in – was it brine? It was then transferred into a huge vat of boiling water, the size of a half tar barrel, where it plumped up and changed to a winey orange colour. Six people worked flat out, one of the women fished out cooked octopus as needed with a hook, she then snipped off the tentacles with a scissors and cut each one into rounds directly onto a small, medium or large timber plate to fill the orders. It was passed onto her partner who drained off the excess moisture in one deft movement, sprinkled the octopus with crunchy coarse salt, dredged it with pimento and then drizzled the plate with olive oil and added a few cocktail sticks. This cost Euro 5 per person. We joined the locals at long formica topped tables in the open-sided shelter the town council had provided for gatherings. The tables were laid for 10 with paper napkins and down turned glasses. Long gaily painted bright blue benches at either side.

We sat at an empty table and were immediately dragooned by a feisty young woman who gesticulated amidst a babble of Gallego that we were to join another table rather than start a new one. We asked for ‘pan’, one of my few Spanish words. She returned in seconds clutching a long loaf of bread and a bottle of unlabeled local wine, (vin de mesa. We tucked into the octopus, it was intensely sweet and juicy. When we had almost finished our spirited friend slapped half a Manchego cheese and a knife on the table. We understood that we were to eat what we needed and then pass it on – the bread, wine and cheese cost a further Euro 5. Hundreds, perhaps a thousand people were fed in this way over a period of 4 or 5 hours. Jovial, inexpensive, a brilliant feat of organisation, an age old tradition. As we sat there enjoying what was a veritable feast we wondered how long it would be before the bureaucrats in Brussels decided it was unhygienic and the price of insurance eliminated yet another traditional food culture. I personally, am more than happy to eat this kind of food, cooked and served in the time honoured way, I am happy to take the responsibility on myself – I strongly believe we have the right to choose – those who would rather eat in the local café can do so, long may we have the choice.

Spicy Boiled Octopus (Pulpo a Feira)

(From Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas) This simple yet delicious octopus dish is called a feira (fiesta style)

because it is boiled outdoors in water-filled metal drums during local festivals in Galicia. The classic way to serve this pulpo is on wooden

dishes – a most attractive presentation.

Serves 4

1 lb (450g) octopus, preferably small

1 medium potato

4 teasp. fruity olive oil

coarse salt

½ teasp. paprika, preferably Spanish style

dash of cayenne pepper

Cooking liquid

12 cups water

2 tablesp. oil

1 bay leaf

½ onion, peeled

4 peppercorns

2 sprigs parsley

salt

Tenderize the octopus by throwing it forcefully about ten times into your kitchen sink. To make the cooking liquid, combine the water with the oil, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns, parsley and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Dip the octopus in and out of the liquid three times quickly (this also helps to tenderise or ‘scare’ it, as they say in Galicia), return to the liquid, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour. (The cooking time can vary greatly

depending on whether the octopus has been frozen. After an hour, taste a small piece: if it is not tender, continue cooking.) Turn off the heat and

leave the octopus in the cooking liquid until ready. (May be prepared ahead.) Place the potato in the salted water to cover and boil until just tender.

Turn off the heat and leave the potato in the water until ready to use. Reheat the octopus and remove all loose skin (you may remove all the skin if

you prefer) and cut the tentacles with scissors into 1inch pieces. Peel and slice the potato one eighth inch thick. Arrange on a serving dish,

preferably wooden , and place the octopus on top. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the coarse salt, paprika and cayenne and serve immediately.

Galician-style Fish Steaks (Merluza al la Gallega)

The wonderful fresh fish in the northwestern region of Galicia makes this a favourite preparation for hake, because it adds character to the fish

without masking its freshness.

Serves 4

¾ lb (350g) potatoes, preferably red, in ¼ inch slices

4 thin slices onion

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 sprigs parsley

salt

¼ teasp. thyme

1 bay leaf

7 tablesp. Olive oil

1 teasp. red wine vinegar

2 hake or fresh cod steaks, about 1 inch thick

½ teasp. paprika, preferably Spanish style

In a shallow casserole large enough to hold the fish in one layer, place the potatoes, onion, 2 cloves of the minced garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, 1

tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the vinegar, and water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are half cooked. Place the fish steaks over the potato mixture and add some more water to barely cover the fish. Sprinkle the fish with salt, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and fish are done. Pour off all the liquid from the casserole. Remove the skin and bones from the fish carefully, leaving 4 fillets. In a small pan heat the remaining 6

Galicia North Western Spain

Driving through central Galicia in north western Spain was wonderfuly reminiscent of rural Ireland 20 years ago. The climate is similar so the
countryside is green and well-wooded. Small mixed farms, dairy, tillage, all have a vegetable patch, a few fruit and nut trees, some hens and an air
of self-sufficiency. Some older men still wear the black beret and many women still wear cross-over aprons, similar to those I remember so well from
my childhood. Men and women work side by side in the fields together.  There were few young people, most work in the towns and cities. Grannies
dressed in black sat under the shade of an apple or fig tree outside their stone houses with heavy slate roofs, sorting onions or shelling beans, often helped by grandchildren. There were few tractors in evidence, but there was a real sense of a community, farmers and country people in touch with nature and the land in a way that is fast disappearing in Ireland.  Wednesday is market day in the little village of Castro di Rivera, 10
kilometres from Lugo. Suddenly the otherwise sleepy village comes to life, 25-30 stalls set up around the central square selling fruit and vegetables,
local honey, cured meats including the famous jamon, morcilla blood sausages, pancetta, chorizo, salted ribs, pigs’ heads, ears and tails. Some
stalls sell shoes and clothes, and knicknacks, others offer CD’s of lively Spanish music. Yet another sells hand-made knives and scales, pots and pans and tools.

An old man stood shyly beside his beautifully made baskets and timber trugs and a traditional timber chest which is still used for making bread in many country farmhouses.  In the centre of the square under the oak trees, a family set up an open air Pulperia (octopus stall). Huge big cauldrons of octopus bubbled away. There were two stalls, one appeared much more popular than the other. We joined the longer queue deciding that the locals probably knew best. Queing can be boring and frustrating but on this occasion it was absolutely fascinating. We watched the entire operation. The raw prepared octopus seemed to be soaking in – was it brine? It was then transferred into a huge vat of boiling water, the size of a half tar barrel, where it plumped up and changed to a winey orange colour. Six people worked flat out, one of the women fished out cooked octopus as needed with a hook, she then snipped off the tentacles with a scissors and cut each one into rounds directly onto a small, medium or large timber plate to fill the orders. It was passed onto her partner who drained off the excess moisture in one deft movement, sprinkled the octopus with crunchy coarse salt, dredged it with pimento and then drizzled the plate with olive oil and added a few cocktail sticks. This cost Euro 5 per person. We joined the locals at long formica topped tables in the open-sided shelter the town council had provided for gatherings.  The tables were laid for 10 with paper napkins and down turned glasses.   Long gaily painted bright blue benches at either side. 
 
We sat at an empty table and were immediately dragooned by a feisty young woman who gesticulated amidst a babble of Gallego that we were to join another table rather than start a new one. We asked for ‘pan’, one of my few Spanish words. She returned in seconds clutching a long loaf of bread and a bottle of unlabeled local wine, (vin de mesa. We tucked into the octopus, it was intensely sweet and juicy. When we had almost finished our spirited friend slapped half a Manchego cheese and a knife on the table. We understood that we were to eat what we needed and then pass it on – the bread, wine and cheese cost a further Euro 5. Hundreds, perhaps a thousand people were fed in this way over a period of 4 or 5 hours. Jovial, inexpensive, a brilliant feat of organisation, an age old tradition.  As we sat there enjoying what was a veritable feast we wondered how long it would be before the bureaucrats in Brussels decided it was unhygienic and the price of insurance eliminated yet another traditional food culture. I personally, am more than happy to eat this kind of food, cooked and served in the time honoured way, I am happy to take the responsibility on myself – I strongly believe we have the right to choose – those who would rather eat in the local café can do so, long may we have the choice.

Spicy Boiled Octopus (Pulpo a Feira)

(From Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain by Penelope Casas) This simple yet delicious octopus dish is called a feira (fiesta style)
because it is boiled outdoors in water-filled metal drums during local festivals in Galicia. The classic way to serve this pulpo is on wooden
dishes - a most attractive presentation.
Serves 4
 
1 lb (450g) octopus, preferably small
1 medium potato
4 teasp. fruity olive oil
coarse salt
½ teasp. paprika, preferably Spanish style
dash of cayenne pepper
Cooking liquid
12 cups water
2 tablesp. oil
1 bay leaf
½ onion, peeled
4 peppercorns
2 sprigs parsley
salt
Tenderize the octopus by throwing it forcefully about ten times into your kitchen sink.  To make the cooking liquid, combine the water with the oil, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns, parsley and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Dip the octopus in and out of the liquid three times quickly (this also helps to tenderise or ‘scare’ it, as they say in Galicia), return to the liquid, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour. (The cooking time can vary greatly
depending on whether the octopus has been frozen. After an hour, taste a small piece: if it is not tender, continue cooking.) Turn off the heat and
leave the octopus in the cooking liquid until ready. (May be prepared ahead.)  Place the potato in the salted water to cover and boil until just tender.
Turn off the heat and leave the potato in the water until ready to use.  Reheat the octopus and remove all loose skin (you may remove all the skin if
you prefer) and cut the tentacles with scissors into 1inch pieces.  Peel and slice the potato one eighth inch thick. Arrange on a serving dish,
preferably wooden , and place the octopus on top. Drizzle with olive oil,  sprinkle with the coarse salt, paprika and cayenne and serve immediately.

Galician-style Fish Steaks (Merluza al la Gallega)

The wonderful fresh fish in the northwestern region of Galicia makes this a favourite preparation for hake, because it adds character to the fish
without masking its freshness.
Serves 4
 
¾ lb (350g) potatoes, preferably red, in ¼ inch slices
4 thin slices onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs parsley
salt
¼ teasp. thyme
1 bay leaf
7 tablesp. Olive oil
1 teasp. red wine vinegar
2 hake or fresh cod steaks, about 1 inch thick
½ teasp. paprika, preferably Spanish style
 
In a shallow casserole large enough to hold the fish in one layer, place the potatoes, onion, 2 cloves of the minced garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, 1
tablespoon of the oil, ½ teaspoon of the vinegar, and water to barely cover.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are half cooked.  Place the fish steaks over the potato mixture and add some more water to barely cover the fish. Sprinkle the fish with salt, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and fish are done. Pour off all the liquid from the casserole. Remove the skin and bones from the fish carefully, leaving 4 fillets. In a small pan heat the remaining 6
 

Barbecue

Can’t believe it, a bit of sun at last, in fact we’ve had two good days in a row, we’re all heady with excitement and of course rush to find the barbecue. To add to the excitement Peter Manning has just arrived with a bucket of freshly caught mackerel from Ballycotton –absolute bliss.  

Luke Cullinane has picked the last of the green gooseberries off the prickly bushes in the fruit garden – we’ve still got a piece of the delicious wild salmon I bought from those wild O’Connell boys in the Cork Market, so no prizes for guessing what’s for supper? We’ll light the barbecue but in the meantime I will scrub and prick a few potatoes and put them into the Aga to bake.  Alternatively the first of the Ballycotton potatoes are ready to eat and they’re most delicious cooked in sea water.  Perhaps we should ask a few friends around, so I’ll get a few succulent lamb chops for those who feel they haven’t eaten at all unless they can sink their teeth into some juicy meat.

My preference is for charcoal on the barbecue, but we often use wood if we’re not in too much of a hurry. Its worth having both types of charcoal in stock, the fast burning – you can be cooking in 15 minutes from light-up and the slower burning lumps - the latter takes longer to get to the white ash stage, but equally lasts longer, unlike the former which burns out fast.  Gas grills are brilliantly convenient and I love my Weber, not least because it has a lid and one can cook a duck or chicken or even a turkey. Last year an American friend showed me how to make pizzas on the grill. Again this works best on the wide rack on the Weber, all you need is some dough and lots of toppings.

Bruschetta and Quesadillas are also great on the grill and can be simply or lavishly embellished, depending on what you have in your fridge. Back to the salmon and mackerel. I’ll fillet them and brush each fillet with a little olive oil and melted butter. Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper and lay skin side down on a wire cake rack. (If you own one of those fancy fish cages, use that instead.). Cook salmon for about 10 minutes on one side, the mackerel 5 minutes. Then lay another cake rack on top and using a cloth quickly flip over so the fish cooks on the other side.

Meanwhile I’ll make some dill butter for the salmon and some green gooseberry sauce for the mackerel – a delicious combination which can only be enjoyed at this time of the year.  A tomato fondue would be good with the salmon and dill butter and don’t
forget a big bowl of green salad with lots of lettuces, salad leaves and maybe a few little edible flowers.
Bon Appetit.!

Barbecued Mackerel in Foil with Green Gooseberry Sauce

Salting fish before barbecuing enhances the flavour tremendously. I like to serve mackerel with the heads on, but if you are a bit squeamish remove them before cooking.

4 very fresh mackerel
sea salt
olive oil
Gut, wash and dry the mackerel and cut about 3 slits on either side of the
back with a sharp knife. About 15 minutes before cooking sprinkle the fish
lightly with sea salt inside and outside. Put a sprig of fennel in the
centre and a knob of butter if you like. Wrap in foil and seal the edges
well.*
Put on the barbecue and cook for 4-6 minutes on each side depending on the
size. Serve with a segment of lemon and let each person open their own
package. There will be delicious juice to mop up with crusty bread or a
baked potato.
* The mackerel could be prepared ahead to this point and refrigerated until
needed.
Serve with Green Gooseberry Sauce

Green Gooseberry Sauce

Use the tart hard green gooseberries on the bushes at the moment, they make
a delicious sauce.
10 ozs (285g) fresh green gooseberries
stock syrup to cover (see below) - 6 fl.ozs (175 ml) approx.
a knob of butter (optional)
Top and tail the gooseberries, put into a stainless steel saucepan, barely
cover with stock syrup, bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit bursts.
Taste. Stir in a small knob of butter if you like but it is very good
without it.
Stock Syrup
4 fl ozs (120ml) water
4 ozs (110g) sugar
Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil together for 2 minutes. Store in a
covered jar in the refrigerator until needed. Stock syrup can also be used
for sorbets, fruit salads or as a sweetener in homemade lemonades.

Pan grilled Grey Sea Mullet with Buttered Zucchini


I consider this to be the most under-appreciated fish in the sea, every bit
as delicious as sea bass and half the price. We get delicious fresh grey
sea mullet from Ballycotton Seafood - look out for it.
Serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main course
4 fillets of very fresh grey sea mullet, sea bass or mackerel
Soft butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve
Buttered zucchini
Garnish
Sprigs of fresh fennel and flat parsley
Heat the grill pan or barbecue. Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been
seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and
then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you
were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot
but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the
fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat
slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn
them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden.
Serve with buttered zucchini.

Buttered Zucchini


Serves 4
1 lb (450g) zucchini (courgettes), no larger than 5 inches (12.5cm) in
length
1 oz (30g) butter
A dash of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly chopped parsley, dill, basil or marjoram
Top and tail the zucchini and cut them into ¼ inch (5mm) slices. Melt the
butter and add a dash of oil, toss in the zucchini and coat in the butter
and oil. Cook until tender, 4-5 minutes approx. Season with salt and freshly
ground pepper. Turn into a hot serving dish, sprinkle with chopped herbs and
serve immediately.

Chargrilled Quesadilla


Serves 6
12 flour tortillas
3 chillies, thinly sliced
4ozs (110g) Mozzarella
4ozs (110g) Cheddar or Gruyere
4 spring onions, sliced at an angle
salt and freshly ground pepper
Tomato and Coriander salsa (see recipe)
Guacamole (see recipe)
Put a tortilla onto the grid of the barbecue, top with some thinly sliced
chilli. Sprinkle on a mixture of grated cheese and some spring onion.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Press another tortilla on top.
Grill until the cheese melts, flip over. Allow 2-3 minute on the second
side. Repeat with the others.
Cut into wedges and serve with Tomato Salsa and Guacamole.

Guacamole


One of my most treasured possessions is a dark green pottery bowl with a
coarse textured interior, it was specially made in a village in the Oaxacan
valley in Mexico to make Guacamole. I carried it and the lava rock pestle
the whole way home and have enormously enjoyed using it ever since.
Serves 2-4
1 ripe avocado, preferably Mexican
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (as a last resort)
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper .
Scoop out the flesh from the avocado. Mash with a fork or in a pestle and
mortar with the garlic, add the freshly squeezed lime juice, a little olive
oil, chopped coriander, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Tomato and Coriander Salsa

Serves 4-6
Salsas of all kinds both fresh and cooked have now become a favourite
accompaniment to everything from pangrilled meat to a piece of sizzling
fish.
4 very ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½-1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper
and sugar.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Bruschetta on the BBQ

Serves 6
6 slices country bread, yeast; sour dough; ciabbatta or foccaccia
peeled whole garlic cloves

Chosen toppings
Aubergine, Pesto and Goat’s cheese
Very ripe Tomato slivers with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic
vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper
Portobella mushrooms with slivers of Parmesan cheese and rocket leaves
Mozzarella cheese
Vine-ripened tomatoes and basil leaves
Grill the bread over the coals. Rub both sides with a clove of garlic,
drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and top with chosen combination. Season
and eat.

Lydia’s Salmon with Tomato Fondue and Fresh Dill Butter


This can also be cooked on the barbecue.
Serves 6
6 portions of wild Irish Salmon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 ozs/85 gbutter
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
Tomato fondue – see recipe
Garnish
Sprigs of fresh dill
Season the salmon pieces well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Melt a
very little butter in a heavy pan over a medium heat, cook the salmon gently
first on one side and then on the other until just about cooked. Meanwhile
reheat the tomato fondue. If necessary melt the butter in a little
saucepan, add the dill and remove from the heat.
To serve: Put a little Tomato fondue around each hot plate, pop a piece of
salmon in the centre. Spoon a little Dill butter over the top and serve
immediately.

Tomato Fondue


Tomato fondue is one of our great convertibles, it has a number of uses, we
serve it as a vegetable sauce, filling for omelettes, topping for pizza,
stuffing, etc.
Serves 6 approximately
115g (4ozs) sliced onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
900g (2lbs) very ripe tomatoes in Summer, or 2½ tins (x 14oz) of tomatoes
in Winter, but peel before using
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
1 tablespoon of any of the following freshly chopped mint or torn basil
Heat the oil in a non reactive saucepan. Add the sliced onions and garlic
toss until coated, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not
coloured. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are
completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Slice the fresh tomatoes or
tinned and add with all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, freshly
ground pepper and sugar (tinned tomatoes need lots of sugar because of their
high acidity). Add a generous sprinkling of chopped mint or torn basil.
Cook uncovered for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens.

Lamb Chops with Marjoram


Lamb chops
Annual Marjoram
Olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt
Trim the chopped of excess fat and score the back fat and chop the marjoram.
Take a flat dish large enough to take the chops in a single layer, brush
with olive oil and sprinkle with some chopped marjoram. Season the chops on
both sides with freshly ground pepper, place on top of the marjoram,
sprinkle some more chopped marjoram on top and drizzle with olive oil,
marinade for 1 hour or more. Brush off excess oil, season well with sea
salt. Grill on a grid 6 inches (15cm) from the hot coals for 10-15 minutes
depending on the thickness and degree of doneness required. Baste frequently
with the oil and serve immediately.

Slow Food in Baltimore

The weather forecast was horrendous for the entire weekend, gales, thunder and lightning, torrential rain with intermittent patches of sunshine. I’d already got drenched to the skin on Saturday at the Market and didn’t relish the thought of driving 2½ hours in the rain to Baltimore with the distinct prospect of getting soaked to the skin again – yet, I was so tempted that in the end I threw caution to the wind and headed west to the second annual Slow Food Fair at the Baltimore Festival.

These events are so convivial that once you’ve been to one and felt the camaraderie and buzz, you simply don’t want to miss the next one. Two marquees had been erected at the quay. By noon food producers from all over West Cork had set up their stalls and were proudly displaying their produce. Almost before they had put the finishing touches to their display they were besieged by eager customers. Ace cook Clodagh McKenna had set up a buffet at once end of the marquee – for 12 Euros or 10 Euros for Slow Food  members, one could fill one’s plate with utterly delicious food, much of it from local producers.
 
Fresh crusty focaccia from Kalbos in Skibbereen, gorgeous jambon, pork rillettes, pate and glazed bacon from young Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen. Clodagh’s Pasta and seaweed salad with the seaweed provided by Olivier from Sea to Land in Co Kerry. New season’s Beetroot, cous cous and butterbean salad, Fig, apple, walnut and Cashel Blue salad, Potato, Scallion and chive flower salad, Curried chicken, mango and cashew nut salad. A delicious Tomato and Gubbeen bacon frittata, Ummera smoked chicken and smoked fish from Sally Barnes’ Woodcock Smokery and Frank Hederman. Homemade mayonnaise and several delectable relishes, Frank Krycwzk’s award winning salamis, Durrus, Gubbeen and Milleens farmhouse cheese. I also had my first taste of the new Carbery Blue Cheese and enjoyed everylittle crumbly morsel.
 
Clodagh was flanked on one side by Judy Wotton, who makes Ardagh Cheese between Baltimore and Lough Ine. She milks her 9 goats by hand and makes a memorable cheese. This indomitable lass also makes a delicious range of pasties, scotch eggs and pies to sell at the Skibbereen Market. Judy Rathffer makes a range of traditional breads.
 
Meredith Benke and Cullen Allen were doing a roaring trade filling dishes of Carrageen Moss pudding or homemade ice-cream with rhubarb and strawberry compote. Those with not such a sweet tooth could choose homemade cheese biscuits and farmhousecheese. Mary Pawle of Mary Pawle Wines had brought some of her organic wines up from Farranfore, St Nelly red and the white St Jean both from Chateau de Bastet, were delicious with the feast we brought to eat for lunch. Lorenzos who sell in the Clonakilty Farmers Market, make a range of salads – hummus, Butterbean salad, Tonnato Sauces, Haloummi cheese. Shorescape from Bandon had a range of smoked fish, gravlax, salmon pate, trout and tuna, while Dave Owen of Roaringwater Bay Oysters in Baltimore, opened sweet briny oysters in the corner beside the band, who were aptly named the Cheesemakers.
 
The Olive Stall was outside under the awning beside Fiona Burke’s tempting array of farmhouse cheeses, Frank Hederman’s smoked fish, and the Fergusons’ Gubbeen products. There were hot dogs sizzling on a barbecue and a whole marquee of Fuchsia brand products, including Bill Hogan’s splendid Gabrieland Desmond cheeses. The rain did eventually come but not enough to dampen the revellers enthusiasm. 
 
If you would like to join the Slow Food Movement, or have some more information, contact Giana Ferguson at info@slowfoodireland.com  or 028-28231. www.slowfoodireland.com 

Curried Chicken Salad with Mango and Roasted Cashew Nuts


Serves 8-10
1.35kg (3 lb) chicken breasts, poached and skinned then cut into bite sized
bits
12 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 mangoes peeled, stoned and cut into 1cm (2 inch) pieces
170-225g (6-8oz) chopped celery
4 chopped scallions including green part
110ml (4fl oz) natural yoghurt
110ml (4fl oz) Home-made Mayonnaise
12 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
140g (5oz) roasted cashew nuts
2 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander, optional
 
Mix the cubed, poached chicken in a large bowl with the freshly squeezed
lemon juice, season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the diced
mango, celery and scallions.
Whisk the yoghurt with the home-made mayonnaise, add the cumin and curry
powder, mix well.
Taste and correct seasoning. Just before serving add the roasted cashew
nuts, scatter with chopped coriander or parsley and serve.
 

Glazed Loin of Bacon


Serves 12-15
1.8-2.25 kg (4-5lb) loin of bacon, either smoked or unsmoked
400g (14ozs) 1 small tin of pineapple -use 3-4 tablesp. approx. of the juice
340g (12oz) brown sugar (demerara)
whole cloves 20-30 approx.

Cover the bacon in cold water and bring slowly to the boil, if the bacon is
very salty there will be a white froth on top of the water, in this case it
is preferable to discard this water. It may be necessary to change the water
several times depending on how salty the bacon is, finally cover with hot
water and simmer until almost cooked, allow 15 minutes approx. to the lb.
Remove the rind, cut the fat into a diamond pattern, and stud with cloves.
Blend brown sugar to a thick paste with a little pineapple juice, 3-4
tablespoons approx., be careful not to make it too liquid. Spread this over
the bacon. Bake in a fully preheated hot oven 250C/475F/regulo 9 for 20-30
minutes approx. or until the top has caramelized.
Note: We use loin of bacon off the bone.

Frank Krycwzk’s plate of Charcuterie with Gherkins and Caper berries


Frank Krycwzk makes a variety of delicious and interesting salamis at
Dereenatra near Schull.
3-5 slices of salami per person, depending on size
1-2 gherkins per person
1-2 caper berries per person
3-4 olives per person
2-3 rocket leaves
drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
Accompaniment – crusty Focaccia or Ciabatta
Arrange a selection of salami for each person on a large white plate.
Garnish with gherkins and caper berries, add few olives and three or four
rocket leaves.
Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.

Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote


Rhubarb and strawberries are a wonderful combination and now that
strawberries have a longer season we can enjoy them together. Try this
with new season’s Irish strawberries.
Serves 6

Strawberry Ice Cream


900g (2 lb) very ripe strawberries
Juice of 2 lemon
Juice of 2 orange
225g (8oz) castor sugar
300ml (10 fl oz) water
150ml (5 fl oz) whipped cream
Strawberry and Rhubarb Compote
450g (1 lb) red rhubarb, e.g. Timperely early
450ml (16 fl oz) stock syrup (see below)
225-450g (2-1 lb) fresh strawberries, Cambridge Favourite, Elsanta or
Rapella
Garnish: Mint leaves or Lemon balm leaves
First make the Ice Cream.
Dissolve the sugar in the water, boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool.
Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add orange
and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree, fold the whipped
cream into the puree. Freeze immediately in a >sorbetiere or ice cream
maker according to the manufacturer=s instructions.
Next make the compote.
Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces. Put the cold syrup into a
stainless steel saucepan, add the rhubarb, cover, bring to the boil and
simmer for just 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave the rhubarb in
the covered saucepan until just cold. Hull the strawberries, slice
lengthways and add to the rhubarb compote.
To serve
Scoop out the ice cream into a pretty glass bowl and serve with the chilled
compote. Decorate with fresh mint leaves.
Stock Syrup
450g (1 lb) 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.

Australian Chefs

Last October I went to Adelaide for Tasting Australia - which is an international Festival of Food and Wine, an initiative of the South
Australian Government.  'Hot and Happening Down Under' was the theme of The Festival which was held in Adelaide from 5-14 October featured the skills of more than 150 celebrated chefs, authors, food and wine
journalists and critics, television cooks as well as the nation's top food and beverage producers and up and coming chefs and apprentices.  It
One of the most important events in Tasting Australia is the Lifestyle Channel Australian Regional Culinary Competition allowing chefs and apprentices from various regions all over Australia to demonstrate their culinary skills in a cook-off (three courses for four people). The Gold Award for the Best Region was a visit to Ballymaloe Cookery School with the travel sponsored by Quantas the main sponsor of the festival. I was invited to attend the Festival and be a judge in the competition and take part in some of the other activities.
Last week the winning team arrived in Cork Airport and made their way to Ballymaloe Cookery School – the team were Darren Ho,(Team Leader) Brian Means and Julie van den Bergh, a fourth member of the team Steve Brampton was unable to travel. The winning Team hail from Hunter Valley a noted wine region, and part of the competition was pairing their wine and food They had a busy few days with us –they visited the Farmers Market in Midleton, the Jameson Heritage Centre, walked the cliffs in Ballycotton with me and went foraging on Ballyandreen strand.  They visited the English Market in Cork and cooked themselves a Cork supper with the goodies they brought home.  They joined in on our Pub Grub Course and enjoyed mingling with all our other students.  On a day trip to West Cork they visited the Fergusons at Gubbeen to see the famous Gubbeen farmhouse cheese made by Giana and taste Fingal Ferguson’s smoked bacon.
Dinner at Ballymaloe House and Grapefruit Moon in Ballycotton were among the highlights of the visit and we tasted some of the delicious Hunter Valley wine and honey. London and France were the next stops on their itinerary.
 www.tastingaustralia.com.au
Julie van den Bergh has her own Café Crocodile in Hunter Valley and she has shared one of her signature dishes with us.

Pan Fried Atlantic Salmon fillet on sweet corn cakes with an avocado and Spanish onion salsa

 


Julie says she is not allowed remove this dish from the menu.

From Julie van den Bergh of Café Crocodile in Hunter Valley, Australia
Serves 4
Corncakes

2 cobs of corn, stripped
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
2 tablesp. coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablesp. parsley, chopped
1 teasp. minced garlic
2 tablesp. sweet chilli sauce
2 eggs, whisked
200 ml cream
100 g plain flour

Combine ingredients and cook off in small cakes on frying pan. Use
oiled rings for consistent size and leave on. Cakes freeze well.

Salsa

 

1 small Spanish onion, diced finely
6 large ripe Roma tomatoes, diced finely (seeds removed)
1 dessertsp. Sicilian salted capers, rinsed well.
1 dessertsp. large capers, rinsed well
1 dessertsp. chopped cranberries
juice of half lemon
1 tablesp. olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled and diced in half cm cubes

Ideally combine all the ingredients except the avocado at least 2 days
prior to use to allow flavours to blend. Add chopped avocado just
prior to service.

Wasabi Mayo

 
1 teasp. minced garlic
1 teasp. Dijon mustard
2½ teasp. Wasabi powder
2 egg yolks
1 teasp. lemon juice
½ teasp. caster sugar
olive oil – approx. 300 ml
salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 6 ingredients in a food processor, pulsing to combine.
With motor running, slowly add olive oil to desired consistency. (Thin
with warm water if required.) Taste and season.

Lemon Dressing

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup mirin
2 teasp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk and adjust to taste.

To assemble the dish you also require 1 bunch of watercress, washed and
picked, as well as four pieces of salmon fillet, lightly dusted with
seasoned flour.
Heat a large frying pan (with a metal handle) and oil lightly. Place
the fish, flesh side down, sear and turn and put into a preheated
moderate oven.
Place corncakes on a greased tray (2 per person) and place in oven to
reheat.
Dress watercress in a little of the lemon dressing and place a mound in
the centre of each plate. Top with 2 corncakes and smear a teaspoon or
so of wasabi mayo over the warm cakes. Place cooked salmon on top, then
garnish with spoonfuls of salsa.

Perfect with a glass of Aussie Semillon!

Some more Australian ideas –

 

Banana, Pineapple & Walnut Cake

 

(makes four loaves)

Ingredients
6 cups Plain Flour
4 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Bi-carbonate of Soda (Breadsoda)
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
2 cups castor sugar
3 cups chopped walnuts
4 cups mashed banana
4 cups crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups oil
8 eggs, lightly beaten

Method
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
Combine sugar, oil, eggs & mix
Add banana, pineapple & dry ingredients to mixture
Bake in moderate oven until crisp on top.

Whole-Orange Cake

 
Use medium seedless navel oranges

1 orange
125 g butter
½ cup castor sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups wholemeal self-raising flour
half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
½ cup buttermilk

Orange Butter Syrup
½ cup sugar
¼ cup orange juice
60g butter

Grease a 15cm x 25cm loaf tin
Squeeze the juice from the orange, reserve the juice for syrup. Process
or blend the remaining skin and pulp finely.
Cream butter and sugar in small bowl with electric mixture until light &
fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time, beat until combined. Transfer
mixture to large bowl, stir in half the sifted flour and soda with half
the buttermilk, then stir in remaining dry ingredients, buttermilk and
orange pulp.
Pour mixture into prepared pan, bake in moderate oven for about 45
minutes.
Stand cake 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack,
Pour hot syrup evenly over hot cake.

Orange butter syrup Combine sugar, orange juice and butter in saucepan,
stir constantly over heat without boiling until sugar is dissolved and
butter melted, bring to boil, remove syrup from heat.
Keeping time 3 days.

Almond Bread

3 egg whites

½ cup castor sugar
1 cup plain flour
125 g un-blanched almonds

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually beat in castor sugar,
beating well after each addition until all sugar is dissolved. Fold in
sifted flour, whole un-blanched almonds. Spread into greased 25cm x 8cm
bar tin. Bake in a moderate oven 30 to 35 minutes or until just firm to
touch. Turn out of tin to cool. When cold, wrap in aluminum foil, put
aside for one or two days. Using a very sharp knife, cut bread into
wafer-thin slices. Put slices onto oven trays, bake in slow oven 45
minutes or until dry and crisp.

Trying to Find a Good Cup of Coffee in Costa Rica

One of the greatest enigmas, not to mention frustrations of Costa Rica, is that even though it is famous the world over for the quality of its coffee – its almost impossible to get a decent cup of coffee in the country itself.  Much of the best coffee seems to be exported. Travellers stock up with packs of finest quality Britt coffee as they leave the country.
 
Still one of Costa Rica’s most important crops, coffee is not as I had supposed, indigenous to the country, but was introduced from Ethiopia in the early 1800’s. When it was planted originally, it was greatly sought after as a fashionable ornamental plant to decorate courtyards - its glossy green leaves, white blossom and red berries are beautiful year round.
The Central Highlands of Costa Rica are ideally suited to coffee cultivation It thrives in areas where the temperatures average 15-28C with a distinct wet and dry season - Coffee grows best in well drained soil at elevations of 2,500-3,000 feet
.The Costa Rican government quickly saw the potential of the grana del ora, but had difficulty persuading the Costa Ricans to grow the crop. In the early 1800’s they brought in a law requiring everyone to plant at least a couple of coffee plants in their back yard. Coffee growing soon took off and by 1829 it was the nation’s numero uno earner. Needless to say it was a godsend for Costa Rica’s subsistence farmers, it provided them with a vital income on which no tax was levied. Coffee was widely planted .
For years, small farmers dominated production and earned their fair share of the wealth. But as ever, the real profits were concentrated in relatively few hands, the coffee processors who became known as the coffee barons, became Costa Rica’s first social and political elite.
Originally the beans were carried by ox cart or mule trains through the mountains to the Pacific port of Puntarenas to be transported by boat via Cape Horn to the coffee connoisseurs of Europe.
 
Coffee seeds are planted in nurseries, where they remain until they are a year old. They are then transplanted into the ground in rows that follow the contours of the mountain. Some of the fields are almost vertical, it is difficult to visualise how pickers can keep themselves from tumbling down the slopes as they pick the coffee berries. The answer lies in the ingenious way of planting trees directly behind one another so that the trunk of the downhill tree serves as a foothold for the pickers.
The bushes are planted under the shade of trees or tousled banana palms which fix nitrogen in the soil. Shaded coffee bushes are more productive. The first crop can be harvested in the fourth year and the glossy green bushes will continue to bear fruit for up to 40 years. At the beginning of the rainy season tiny white blossoms scent the air with a delicious jasmine like fragrance. The beans themselves are surrounded by lush green berries that turn blood red when ripe.
There is nowhere else in the world where coffee producers attain such high productivity per acre. Ideal conditions combined with high yielding plants and intensive production techniques. The best quality coffee grows at higher elevations where beans take longer to mature and are more robust and aromatic and contain less caffeine. Best coffee comes from the Arabica bean, the high yielding robusta bean is less highly regarded.
 
The coffee crop is harvested from November to January which coincides with the Christmas holidays, so it is traditional for entire families in the rural areas to take to the fields with wicker baskets to pick the coffee beans together. Some of the money earned is used for Christmas presents and new outfits.
The handpicked berries are shipped to beneficios where the fleshy outer layer is removed to expose the beans which are blow dried and spread out in the sun in the traditional manner. The leathery skins are then stripped away, the beans are roasted, sorted, vacuum packed, sealed and shipped to market and finally brewed for a delicious cup of Costa Rican coffee.

Ballymaloe Coffee Ice Cream with Irish Coffee Sauce


Serves 6-8
Coffee Ice Cream
2 ozs (55g) sugar
4 fl ozs (120ml) water
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
2 teasp. vanilla essence
1 pint (600ml) whipped cream
3 teasp. instant coffee
2 teasp. boiling water
 
Irish Coffee Sauce
8 ozs (225g) sugar
3 fl ozs (80ml) water
8 fl ozs (250ml) coffee
1 tablesp. Irish whiskey
 
Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Put the sugar and water into a small heavy bottomed saucepan on a low heat. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and then remove the spoon and do not stir again until the syrup reaches the thread stage, 106-113C/223-226F. It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until it fluffs up to a light mousse which will hold a figure of eight. Stir in the Vanilla essence, mix the instant coffee powder with just 2 teaspoon of boiling water in a little bowl. Add some mousse to the paste and then fold the two together. Carefully fold in the softly whipped cream. Pour into a stainless steel or plastic bowl, cover and freeze.
Irish Coffee Sauce
Put the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir until the sugar dissolves and the water comes to the boil. Remove the spoon and do not stir again until the syrup turns a pale golden caramel. Then add the coffee and put back on the heat to dissolve. Allow to cool and add the whiskey.
To serve:
Scoop the ice cream into a serving bowl or ice bowl. Serve the sauce separately.
 

Coffee Marjolaine Cake


This cake consists of four thin rounds of meringue sandwiched together with coffee butter cream, the top and sides are also covered with the cream and decorated with toasted almonds.
This cake should be made several days before it is needed, it will have softened and be much easier to cut. It should be kept in the fridge, covered, at least overnight.
 
Meringue
3 ozs (90g) almonds
4 egg whites
9 ozs (255g) icing sugar
 
Coffee Butter Cream
4 ozs (110g) granulated sugar
8 tablesp. water
4 egg yolks
102 ozs (300g) butter
coffee essence to flavour
Decoration
6-8 ozs (170-225g) flaked almonds, toasted
 
Cover 4 baking sheets with bakewell or silicone paper. Draw out 4 x 8 or 9 inch (20.5 or 23cm) circles on the paper.
Blanch and skin the almonds. Chop or grind in a food processor, they should not be ground to a fine powder but be slightly coarse and gritty. In a spotlessly clean bowl of a food mixer mix all the sugar with the egg whites at once and beat until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. Fold in the almonds. Divide the meringue between the four circles on the silicone paper, spread neatly, about 3 inch (5mm) thick. Bake immediately in a moderate oven, 150C/300F/regulo 2 for approx. 1 hour or until the discs are quite crisp and will peel off the paper easily. Allow to get quite cold.
Next make the coffee butter cream. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until dissolved. Remove the spoon and bring to the boil, boil gently until 216F is reached or until the syrup is at 'thread' stage. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Gradually pour the hot syrup over the egg yolks, whisking all the time, continue until the mixture is thick and light. Cream the butter and gradually beat into the egg mixture. Flavour with coffee essence. Keep aside. Toast the flaked almonds and set aside to cool.
To assemble the marjolaine, sandwich the four circles of meringue together with coffee butter cream, (if necessary trim the sides to neaten*), then spread more butter cream around the sides of the cake and roll in the flaked almonds. Cover the top of the cake with butter cream and sprinkle generously with the remainder of the toasted almonds. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
* If the edges are jagged it will be difficult to ice later.

Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans


Irresistible nibbles or great decorations for cakes, mousses, and Chocolate or Coffee desserts.
3 ozs (85g) dark chocolate, at least 54 per cent cocoa solids
4 tablesp. medium roast coffee beans
 
Melt the chocolate gently in a small bowl over a saucepan of hot water. When the chocolate is softened add the roasted coffee beans. Stir to coat the beans, then lift them out with a fork and drop them on to a plate or marble slab evenly covered with non-stick silicone paper. Separate each bean, then leave to harden. Remove the beans with a palette knife and store in an air-tight jar. Alternatively, drop the wet chocolate coated beans on to a plate or marble slab covered thickly with sieved good quality cocoa powder. Separate as above and leave to harden.

Creamy Iced Coffee

Serves 2
 
8 fl ozs (250ml) strong , fresh coffee, chilled
1 tablesp. caster sugar
8 fl ozs (250ml) crushed ice cubes
3 tablesp. double cream
 
Pour the coffee, sugar and crushed ice into a blender or food processor. Mix until light brown and frothy. Stir in the double cream, pour into 2 glasses and serve immediately.

Rabbit for Easter

How about a little bunny for Easter, I adore rabbit and have delicious memories of the rabbit stews and casseroles of my childhood. A local hunter often came to our door to sell rabbits – as children we took it totally for granted and weren’t a bit squeamish. It was all part of country life. Rabbits were very plentiful and did considerable damage to crops, so there was no question of sentimentality.

Rabbit rarely features on menus in Irish restaurants nowadays, yet it regularly stars on smart restaurant menus in the UK and France

Many French rural dwellers rear their own rabbits in hutches either beside or in their farmhouses. This recipe for Rabbit with Mustard and Sage Leaves, brings back memories of delicious rabbit stews I ate with Mamie and Papi Vienot in Lille sur le Doube. If you would like to recapture the flavour of your childhood rabbit stew, telephone Pallas Foods 069- 20200 for your nearest supplier – they are not wild rabbits but they are very good and will be delicious in any of the following recipes.

Rabbit with Mustard and Sage leaves

Serves 6

This recipe is also delicious made with chicken.

1 nice rabbit about 2-3 lbs(1.1 – 1.35 kgs) or 1 chicken

6 fresh sage leaves

2 teasp. mustard powder

2 teasp. grainy mustard, eg. Moutarde de Meaux

4 fl ozs (120 ml) dry white wine

 oz (15g) butter

1 dessertsp. oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablesp. wine vinegar

18 baby onions

8 fl ozs (250 ml) creme fraiche or fresh cream and lemon juice

a little roux (optional)

Garnish

fresh sage leaves

Cut the rabbit into portions. Put into a terrine with the chopped sage leaves. Mix half the mustard powder and a half the grainy mustard with 2 fl ozs (50ml) water. Pour this and the wine over the rabbit and leave to marinade for about 1 hour.

Drain the rabbit pieces and dry them well. Put the butter and oil into a wide saute pan and lightly brown the rabbit on all sides, then remove to a casserole. Degrease the pan, deglaze with the vinegar and pour this and the marinade on to the rabbit. Add the baby onions and the rest of the mustard. Add another 2 fl ozs (50 ml) water and salt and stir well. Cover and leave to cook on a gentle heat for 1 hour approx.

When the rabbit is cooked, take out the pieces and arrange on a hot plate with the onions (making sure the onions are fully cooked). Degrease, add the cream to the pot and reduce on a high heat until it thickens, whisking in a little roux if necessary. Taste and sharpen with lemon juice if necessary. Pour the sauce over the rabbit pieces – through a sieve if you prefer a smoother sauce. Decorate with the rest of the sage leaves and serve immediately.

Roast Saddle of Rabbit with Fig and Prune Mustard

 


- adapted from Maggie Beer’s recipe in ‘Maggie’s Table’ published by Viking.

 

Serves 4

 

8 medium onions

3 large rabbit saddles

1½ ozs (35g) butter

extra virgin olive oil

2 tablesp. freshly plucked lemon thyme leaves

freshly ground black pepper

6 slices streaky bacon or pancetta

 

First roast the onions – see recipe

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/regulo 7.

Carefully remove all sinew from the rabbit saddles. Brush with olive oil, lemon thyme and pepper. Heat butter in a small roasting tin with a dash of olive oil until foaming. Then seal the rabbit very gently until pale-golden brown. Transfer to the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes. Remove the rabbit from the oven, then turn the saddles over and allow them to rest for 8 minutes.

While the rabbit is resting, crisp the streaky bacon or pancetta on a baking tray in the oven or on a frying pan. Serve the rabbit with the crisp bacon or pancetta, roast onion and a dollop of Fig and Prune Mustard (see recipe).

Fig and Prune Mustard

Also delicious with the rillettes below or a lamb chop.

Makes 1.5 litres

14oz (400g) dried figs

14 oz (400g) pitted prunes

10fl.ozs (300ml) red-wine vinegar

2 cinnamon sticks

4 fl.ozs (125ml) grainy mustard

 

Finely chop the figs and prunes. Bring the vinegar, cinnamon sticks and dried fruit to a gentle simmer in a non-reactive saucepan and cook until the fruit is soft.

Remove the cinnamon sticks and blend the mixture to a coarse texture in a food processor, then fold in the mustard. Spoon into warm, sterilized jars and seal with screw-top lids, then invert the jars to create a vacuum.

Roast Onions

I'm always surprised that so few people cook onions in this ultra simple way. We call them roast onions but I suppose strictly speaking they are baked, one way or the other they are absolutely delicious, my children adore them. Choose small or medium sized onions. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6. Bake the unpeeled onions until soft this can take anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes depending on size.

Serve in their jackets, eat by cutting off the root end, squeeze out the onion and eat with butter and sea salt.


Maggie Beer’s Rabbit Rillettes


(from Maggie’s Table by Maggie Beer)

 

Maggie says that people frightened of fat are unlikely to try these, but they are the losers! Cooking and preserving meat in fat (whether its rabbit, hare, goose, duck) is a staple of her kitchen and it’s the best way of using the legs.

Makes 750ml

3 rabbits

2¼ oz (55g) sea salt

2 tablesp. fresh thyme leaves

1 tablesp. juniper berries

2 teasp. peppercorns

18 fl.ozs (500ml) rendered chicken or duck fat

 

Joint the rabbits, leaving the saddles, kidneys and livers for another dish. Put the legs and shoulders in a glass dish with the seasoning and leave for several hours.

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/regulo 3. Put the legs into the bottom of the heaviest-based pot you have, then add the shoulders. Melt the rendered fat in a saucepan, then pour enough of this over the rabbit to just cover the meat. Cover tightly and cook in the oven for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally, The rabbit must cook very slowly and must never boil, otherwise it will toughen.

Drain the fat from the cooking pot and strain it into a container. The meat should be falling off the bone. Shred the meat with 2 forks, discarding the bones. When the fat is nearly cold, pour enough over the meat to bind it together. Check for seasoning – rillettes are traditionally highly seasoned. Pack the rillettes into glass or china dishes. If sealed with a layer of melted fat, they will keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. Serve the rillettes with toast and Fig and Prune Mustard

First of the Goats Cheese

Wandering through the English Market in Cork the other day I saw the first of the little Min Gabhar, the sublime Goats cheese made by Luc and Ann van Kampen in Co Wexford. This signalled the beginning of this year’s goat cheese season. The Min Gabhar is a sister cheese of Croghan
Luc and Ann have 100 goats (British Saanen, British Alpine, Anglo Nubian and Toggenburg) and make cheese from March to November, though they started a bit earlier this year because the goats started kidding immediately after Christmas
The Min Gabhar rolled in cinders is quite exquisite. They are also producing a fresh cheese in rolls, as yet this is only available through Sheridans Cheese Shop in South Anne St, Dublin and locally in Co. Wexford. Luc and Anne have won numerous prizes, including Silver and Bronze at the British Cheese Awards in 2001, best overall farmhouse cheese at IFEX in Belfast in 1999, 3 overall prizes at IFEX in 1996 – in fact they nearly always win a prize in any show they enter. Luc prefers to eat them on their own or with a glass of fruity red wine, but they may be used in countless recipes too.
St Tola and Lough Caum from Inagh were originally created by the much loved farmhouse cheesemakers, Meg and Derek Gordon.
In a remarkably successful transition, Meg and Derek have initiated John McDonald into the art of cheesemaking. The St Tola log which comes charmingly wrapped in a piece of net like your Granny’s dance frock, has won a place in the hearts of all goat cheese lovers.
Up to relatively recently, Irish people in general, weren’t great chevre fans, but now goat cheese salad, pasta, croquettes and soufflés are all hot items on restaurant and dinner party menus.
The quality of Irish goat cheese is fantastically good – still too many chefs opt for the cheaper imported French or Dutch log just because its cheaper. Next time you order a goat cheese salad in a restaurant, ask if its Irish goat cheese, chefs should highlight the name of the Irish cheese on their menu and serve them proudly, to support the farmhouse cheesemakers and to educate their customers.
At Ballymaloe we’re fortunate that our local goat cheese makers staggered the kidding so we have the creamy Ardsallagh goad cheese virtually year round. Jane Murphy knows each of her 200 goats by name and was in a great state of excitement last week when one of her Nubian goats had just kidded. It takes about ten litres of goats milk to make just over a kilo of goat cheese.
Ardsallagh is available from the Midleton Farmers Market and selected shops countrywide.
Celebrate the new goat cheese season this weekend and have fun with one or two of these recipes.
Ardsallagh Goat Cheese – Tel. 021-4882336
Inagh Farmhouse Cheese – Tel 065-6836633
Croghan & Min Gabhar Cheese – Tel -053-27331

Goat Cheese and Thyme Leaf Souffle

Serves 6
We bake this souffle until golden and puffy in a shallow oval dish instead of the traditional souffle bowl, it makes a perfect lunch or supper dish.
90g (3oz) butter
40g (1½ oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) cream
300ml (½ pint) milk
a few slices of carrot
sprig of thyme, a few parsley stalks and a little scrap of bay
1 small onion, quartered
5 free range eggs, separated
110g (4oz) crumbled goat cheese, we use St. Tola or Ardsallagh goat cheese
85g (3oz) Gruyere cheese
55g (2oz) mature Coolea or Desmond farmhouse cheese (Parmesan – Parmigiano Reggiano or Regato may also be used)
a good pinch of salt, cayenne, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Garnish: Thyme flowers if available
12 inch (30cm) shallow oval dish (not a souffle dish)
Preheat the oven to 230C/450G/regulo 8
Brush the bottom and sides of the dish with melted butter.
Put the cream and milk into a saucepan, add a few slices of carrot, a quartered onion, 4 or 5 peppercorns and the fresh herbs. Bring slowly to the boil and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the flavourings, (we rinse them off and throw them into the stockpot if there is one on the go.)
Melt the butter, add the flour and cook for a minute or two. Whisk in the strained cream and milk, bring to the boil and whisk until it thickens. Cool slightly. Add the egg yolks, goat cheese, Gruyere and most of the Coolea or Desmond (or Parmesan if using.) Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Taste and correct seasoning. Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold them gently into the mixture to make a loose consistency. Put the mixture into the prepared dish, scatter the thyme leaves on top and sprinkle with the remaining Coolea or Desmond cheese.
Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until sides and top are nicely puffed up and golden, the centre should still be creamy. Garnish with thyme flowers.
Serve immediately on warm plates with a good green salad.

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese with Roast Pepper, Rocket Leaves, and Tapenade Oil


Serves 5
10ozs (285g) Ardsallagh goat cheese (or a similar fresh mild goat cheese)
seasoned flour
beaten egg
flaked almonds
white breadcrumbs
2 large red peppers
Extra virgin olive oil
Tapenade Oil
110g (4ozs) stoned black olives
1 scant tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
170ml (6fl.ozs) olive oil
A selection of lettuces and rocket leaves
Dressing
4 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tablesp. Balsamic vinegar
½ clove garlic crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper
Garnish
Wild garlic flowers in season
 
First divide the Ardsallagh goat cheese into 25 balls, chill.
Next make the Tapenade oil
Coarsely chop the stoned black olives, add the freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Whisk in the olive oil as you whiz and process to a coarse or smooth puree as you prefer.
Coat the cheese in seasoned flour, beaten egg, flaked almonds, breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer on a flat plate. Cover and chill well.
Roast the peppers in a preheated oven 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 for approximately 20 minutes. Put into a bowl, cover the top with cling film and allow to steam for 5 or 10 minutes. Peel, remove seeds and cut into strips.
Next make the dressing Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Heat the oil in a deep fry or a pan to 200°C
Fry the goat cheese croquettes in batches until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
Toss the lettuces and salad leaves in a bowl with just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten.
Divide between the six plates. Put five croquettes on each plate, decorate with strips of roast red pepper, rocket leaves and a drizzle of Tapenade oil.
Scatter some wild garlic flowers over the top and serve immediately

Crispy Hot Goat Cheese Salad with Beetroot Julienne


Serves 4
2 small goat cheese or 4 slices 1 inch (2.5cm) thick cut from a log
seasoned flour
egg
white breadcrumbs
Salad:
frizzy lettuces and salad leaves eg. golden marjoram, purslane, sorrel leaves, chive flowers, sprigs of chervil
Vinaigrette made from:
3 tablesp. walnut oil
1 tablesp. peanut oil
2 teasp. Dijon mustard
1 tablesp. wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
 
1 large or 2 small beetroot peeled and cut into julienne or very thin rounds
cornflour
oil for deep frying
 
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.
 
Wash and dry the lettuces. Mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Dip the pieces of cheese, first in seasoned flour and then in crumbs, dab with a little walnut or olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden.
Cut the beetroot into julienne or into very thin rounds, toss in cornflour and deep fry until crisp at 150°C/300°F/regulo 2.
Drain on kitchen paper, keep warm.
Toss the frizzy lettuce and salad leaves in a little dressing - use just enough to make the leaves glisten.
To serve:
Divide the salad between 4 plates, put a crispy cheese in the centre of each, garnish with crispy beetroot julienne, a few fresh walnut halves and some sprigs of chervil.

Goat Cheese and Rocket Bruschetta with Tomato and Chilli Jam


Serves 1
Italian bread or a ¾ inch slice of good quality French stick
1 clove garlic, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil
Rocket leaves
Fresh goat’s cheese eg. Ardsallagh, Croghan or St Tola
Tomato and Chilli Jam (see recipe)
 
Garnish:
A few olives
Just before serving chargrill or toast the bread. Rub the surface with a clove of garlic, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Drop a few rocket leaves over the bruschetta, top generously with goat cheese. Drizzle with Tomato and Chilli Jam.
Pop onto a large plate, add a few olives and some freshly cracked pepper.
Serve immediately.
Variation: Tapenade is great with this brushchetta also.
Tomato and Chilli Jam
This zingy jam is great with everything from fried eggs to cold meat. Terrific on a piece of chicken breast or fish or spread on bruschetta with goat’s cheese and rocket leaves.
500g (1lb 2oz) very ripe tomatoes
2-4 red chillies
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
about 2.5cm (1inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
30ml (1fl oz) fish sauce (Nam Pla)
300g (11oz) golden castor sugar
100ml (3½fl oz) red wine vinegar
Peel the tomatoes and chop into 1cm (2 inch) dice. Puree the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce in a blender. Put the purée, sugar and vinegar into a stainless steel saucepan, add the tomatoes and bring to the boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking.
When cooked pour into warmed, sterilized glass jars. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge.

Letters

Back to List
Latest Letter
All Recipes
Back to Website
All Darinas Letters are published each week in The Examiner

Past Letters