Family Reunion Weekend

June 26th, 2015

Srikhand - yogurt cheese 04-09

 

Nowadays, in our crazily busy lives, years can flash by in a hectic blur. Suddenly we realize that we haven’t seen or sometimes heard from favourite cousins or even aunts and uncles for years. This came home to me recently when one of my grandsons went to boarding school and found himself sharing a room with a cousin whom he had never met – now they are firm friends. This was a wakeup call – could some of the younger generation pass each other in the street without realizing they were related?

So a few weekends ago, we had a wonderful Family Reunion Weekend – I invited my immediate family of course siblings + spouses and their children, uncles, aunts,  1st, 2nd and 3rd cousins and some as the saying goes ‘once removed’. We had a ‘whale of a time’.

People started to arrive on Saturday from as far away as Bermuda and Dubai and of course from all over Ireland and the UK.  We’d arranged for a Kids tea for the under 10’s followed by a treasure hunt around the garden. We gave everyone a name badge so they could identify each other or at least attempt to at a glance – at least 25% of people at the reception didn’t know each other.

The Welcome Reception was lively and convivial, when we went in to dinner, everyone was instructed by ‘bossy me’ to sit beside someone they’d never met before or at least hadn’t seen for ages.  It was so fun, not an awkward second.

A few weeks earlier we’d asked people to rummage round in boxes in the attic for old  photos, many responded and so we had an intriguing collection pinned up on a long noticeboard in the hallway. We had a stack of pencils so people could identify their younger selves or siblings, relatives or neighbours. The party also prompted several families to speed up work on the Family Tree, something we tend to be totally disinterested in until we get a bit older. My children were intrigued to learn about my O’Connell and Tynan ancestors and the colourful clan they have descended from. People chatted and chatted until after midnight, the youngsters bonded and went to the local. On Sunday morning, there was an option to see our tiny Jersey herd being milked, feed the calves and pigs, feed the hens, collect the eggs….

From 10am onwards we had a breakfast brunch, not a rasher or a cornflake in sight but lots of homemade muesli and granola, a compote of new seasons rhubarb, bowls of steaming Macroom oatmeal with soft brown sugar and Jersey cream, Labneh with saffron and pistachio, thick unctuous yoghurt and honey, homemade brown soda and Spotted Dog as well as brown yeast bread and crusty sour dough loaves, Jersey butter and lots of homemade jams, marmalade and local honey. Then there was a beautiful board of  Irish farmhouse cheeses, a dish of freshly pulled radishes from the garden and some artisan meats – a simple feast not ‘a fry’ in sight but our second son in law Philip cooked breakfast pizzas in the wood-burning oven with those lovely fresh eggs the children had collected earlier.

After breakfast a nature hunt for the children and a walk through the farm and garden for the grownups or an opportunity to see Clancy making cheese. Then after a spot of visiting we all went for a walk on Shanagarry strand.  The children built sand castles on the beach, decorated them with shells and frolicked in the sea in the shallow waves, others flew kites in the breeze. By late afternoon after copious cups of tea and scones, everyone was saying reluctant goodbyes and resolving to keep in touch. Why not plan a family get together soon, here are some of the dishes we enjoyed together.


Hot Tips

Book of the Week

Vegetarian Cooking Step by Step by Lena Tritto has just landed on my desk. This book is ideal for novice cooks who want to see recipes visually laid out by the step-by-step techniques for every stage of preparation and will be especially useful to students about to embark on their first tentative attempts at cooking away from home. It explains the techniques for using tofu, seitan, tempeh and many other ingredients that may be unfamiliar. As well as being an eminent cookery teacher Lena Tritto is a graduate in Chinese medicine from Tao School in Bologna.  Published by Grub Street.

 

The excellent and much loved Midleton Country Market is moving to Market Green. Every Friday from 9am-3pm you will find lots of homemade breads, cakes, fresh eggs, jams……

 

Middle Eastern Bites – You will find Marguerite McQuaid at the Wilton Farmers Market every Tuesday from 10am-3pm. Her stall is choc a bloc with tempting Middle Eastern food – from falafal to red peper ajvar , flatbreads,  labneh, lovage and raspberry cordial, rhubarb and ginger cordial….all made with fresh herbs,  freshly ground spices…..www.serendipish.ie

 

Spotted Dog

During my childhood, many people in the country were poor, and their daily staple would have been wholemeal bread. White flour was more expensive than brown so white soda bread was considered to be more luxurious – a treat for special occasions. At times of the year when work was harder, such as at harvest or threshing, or maybe on a Sunday when visitors were expected, the woman of the house would add a bit of sugar and a fistful of dried fruit and an egg to the white bread to make it a bit more special. Nowadays, this does not seem such a big deal but back then any money that the woman of the house got from selling her eggs was considered to be her ‘pin money,’ used for little luxuries such as hatpins. Putting an egg into the bread was one egg less that she could sell, so it actually represented much more than it would for us today. This bread was called Spotted Dog, and when it was still warm, she’d wrap it in a tea towel and bring it out to the fields with hot sweetened tea in whiskey bottles wrapped in newspaper or cloth to insulate them. The farm workers would put down their tools and sit with their backs to the haystacks. She’d cut the bread into thick slices and slather on yellow country butter. My memories of sitting down with them are still really vivid. We sometimes make ‘spotted puppies’ which are the same bread,

shaped into 6 rolls and baked for 20minutes.

 

Makes 1 loaf

 

450g (1lb/4 cups) plain white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 level teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

75g (3oz) sultanas (or more if you’d like)

1 organic egg

about 350 – 425ml (12-14fl oz/1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups) buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

 

In a large mixing bowl, sieve in the flour and bicarbonate of soda; then add the salt, sugar and sultanas. Mix well by lifting the flour and fruit up in to your hands and then letting them fall back into the bowl through your fingers. This adds more air and therefore more lightness to your finished bread. Now make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Break the egg into the base of a measuring jug and add the buttermilk to the 425ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cup) line (the egg is part of the liquid measurement). Pour most of this milk and egg mixture into the flour.

 

Using one hand with the fingers open and stiff, mix in a full circle drawing in the flour mixture from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky.

 

The trick with Spotted Dog like all soda breads, is not to over mix the dough. Mix it as quickly and gently as possible, thus keeping it light and airy. When the dough all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands. With floured fingers, roll the dough lightly for a few seconds –

just enough to tidy it up. Then pat the dough into a round about 6cm (2 1/2 inches) deep. Transfer to a baking tray dusted lightly with flour. Use a sharp knife to cut a deep cross on it, letting the cuts go over the sides of the bread. Prick with knife at the four triangles. Put into the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Cook for 35-40 minutes. If you are in doubt about the bread being cooked, tap the bottom: if it is cooked it will sound hollow. This bread is cooked at a lower temperature than soda bread because the egg browns faster at a

higher heat.

 

Serve freshly baked, cut into thick slices and smeared with butter and jam. Spotted Dog is also really good eaten with Cheddar cheese.

 

Srikhand

 

Serves 8-10

 

2kg (4 1/2lb) thick homemade yoghurt (see recipe) or Greek yoghurt

generous pinch of saffron strands

1 tablespoon warm water

1/4 teaspoon roughly crushed green cardamom seeds

225g (8oz/1 cup) caster sugar

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) coarsely chopped pistachio nuts

 

muslin

 

Put a square of muslin into a bowl.  Pour in the yoghurt, tie the ends and allow to drip overnight (save the whey to make soda bread).  Transfer the dripped yoghurt into a clean bowl.  Infuse the saffron in a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl.  Stir into every last drop into the yoghurt.  Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods.  Crush lightly, add to the yoghurt with the caster sugar, mix well.  Turn into a serving dish.  Chill.  Sprinkle the top with roughly chopped pistachio nuts and serve.  Delicious on it’s own but also memorable with Summer berries.

 

 

Pea and Coriander Soup

 

This utterly delicious soup has a perky zing with the addition of fresh chilli.

 

Serves 6 approximately

 

1lb (450g/4 cups) peas (good quality frozen are fine)

2 ozs (50g/1/2 stick) butter

5 ozs (150g/1 cup) onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 1/2 pints (900ml/3 3/4cups) home-made chicken stock

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) approx. chopped fresh coriander

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

 

Garnish

softly whipped cream

fresh coriander leaves

 

Bring the chicken stock to the boil.

 

Melt the butter on a gentle heat add the onion, garlic and chilli.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and sweat for 3-4 minutes.  Add the peas and cover with the hot stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Add the coriander and liquidise.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar, which enhances the flavour even further.  Serve with a swirl of softly whipped cream and a few fresh coriander leaves sprinkled over the top.

 

 

A Selection of Devilled Eggs

 

Devilled eggs are having their moment in the spotlight once again. The Green Table in Chelsea Market in New York served a selection of 4 on their lunch menu as the star item

 

 

Makes 8

 

 

4 free range eggs

2-3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped Chives

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

 

 

Lower the eggs gently into boiling salted water, bring the water back to the boil and hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water.  (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked). When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways. Sieve the yolks, mix the sieved egg yolk with mayonnaise, add chopped chives and salt and pepper to taste. Fill into a piping bag and pipe into the whites. Garnish with a sprig of parsley or chervil and serve on a bed of wild watercress leaves.

 

 

Country Relish Eggs

 

Makes 8 halves

 

As above, add 1 tablespoon of sieved Ballymaloe Country Relish to the sieved egg yolk with the mayonnaise. Season well taste for seasoning.

Decorate with a sliver of gherkin and a cheeky chive.

 

Kalamata Eggs

 

Makes 8 halves

 

As above and add 4 black Kalamata olives stoned and finely chopped to the sieved egg. Continue as above. Decorate with a sliver olive and a sprig of chervil.

 

Anchovy Eggs

 

Makes 8 halves

 

As above – add 2 – 4 finely mashed anchovies and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley to sieved yolk and proceed as above. Garnish with a sprig of fennel and a fennel flower if available.

 

 

 

Wasabi Eggs

 

Makes 8 halves

 

Add ½ teaspoon of wasabi puree to the sieved egg yolk with the mayonnaise, taste and correct the seasoning. Garnish with wild garlic or chive flowers in season.

 

To Serve

 

Choose rectangular plates if available. Arrange a few wild watercress leaves on the plate and top with four devilled eggs of different flavours. Garnish each and serve with brown yeast bread.

 

 

 

Roast Rhubarb

VVC

 

900g (2lb) rhubarb

350g (12oz/1 1/2 cups) sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400F/Gas Mark 6.

 

Slice the rhubarb into 2 1/2cm (1 inch) pieces and place in a medium size oven proof dish.  Scatter the sugar over the rhubarb and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes approximately depending on size, until the rhubarb is just tender.

 

 

 

Honey & Co.

June 22nd, 2015

Honey & Co

 

We’ve christened Itamar and Sarit from Honey & Co, because they are just that. We’ve had them here at Ballymaloe Cookery School all weekend. On Saturday they taught two classes and charmed the audience with their easy manner and utterly delicious food. They cooked many of the favourite Middle Eastern dishes from Honey & Co, their tiny restaurant in Warren Street in Fitzrovia. It seats just 24 people and snugly at that but serves about 150 who come for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 8.00am-10.30pm.

Sarit Packer has been cooking and baking since she was five, trained at Butlers Wharf and at the Orrery under Chris Galvin, where she learned, amongst other things, to make Pâte de fruits, which up to then was her sole ambition in life. In her spare time she sleeps. Itamar Srulovich born and raised in Jerusalem. Cooking since the  age of five and leaving a great mess  in the kitchen ever since, he trained on the job in various places in Tel-Aviv. He prefers eating to cooking and sleeping to both, he is very happily married to Sarit.

They serve a lot of iced tea and homemade lemonades at Honey & Co. This orange blossom one is a particular favourite. Sarit tells us that “what we’re about is homemade flavours” and it just struck me that so many of the restaurants that people love nowadays in particular in London and New York are about homemade flavours. There’s of course are Middle Eastern and there are some dishes that they simply can’t take off the menu,  falafel and their cherry pistachio cake.

Spices, dried mint, tahini and sumac, zaltar and pomegranate molasses are very important in Middle Eastern food but we can get all these ingredients fairly easily now both in ethnic shops, supermarkets and of course mail order. Ottolenghi has a brilliant mail order service http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/.

Mableb was a new ingredient for me, it’s made from ground up cherry stones and gives a bitter almon flavour to cakes and cookies.  It too is available by mail order. It’s a bountiful time in the farm and in the gardens. Itamar and Sarit were so excited by the quality of the beautiful fresh produce. We had lots of fresh peas, courgettes and their flowers, broad beans and the first tiny cucumbers. A joy to eat and cook with.

Observer Food magazine awarded Honey & Co Newcomer of the Year in 2013.  They have just celebrated their third anniversary so Pam baked them a gorgeous 3 tier cake embellished with roses, raspberries and spun sugar. Somehow in the midst of all they wrote the Honey & Co cookbook which was published by Salt Yard Book Co in 2014 to huge acclaim.

Both Sunday Times and Fortnum and Mason awarded Honey & Co Cookbook of the Year 2015 and just last night they won the UK Food Writers Guild, First Cookbook Award.

This is another restaurant to put on your London list and don’t forget to tell them that you made the discovery in the Irish Examiner.

Here are some of the dishes that enchanted us all from their course but there’s plenty more gems in their cookbook.

 

Hot Tips

East Cork Slow Food

Don’t’ miss Tara Shine’s Head of Research and Development at the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice,  inspirational talk on Sustainability and Climate Change at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday June 23rd at 7pm.

Phone 021 4646785 for details.

 

Long to Grow your own Organic Vegetables – yes you can…..

Susan Turner, Head Gardener at the Ballymaloe Cookery School will provide you with the necessary skills to develop sustainable organic growing techniques. In one busy day, she’ll cover successional sowings, attracting beneficial insects and pest control, crop management, feeding regimes & harvesting organic year round crop production……..

You’ll also enjoy a delicious lunch with seasonal organic produce from the farm and gardens and the opportunity to exchange ideas. Susan’s many fans will confirm that her courses are dynamic and inspirational and tailored to every level, from novices through to avid gardeners.

Students who wish to continue learning from Susan can progress to our Organic Horticulture: Autumn Harvesting & Winter Crops course later in the year.

Shanagarry Pottery Câfe – pop in when you are visiting the pottery.  Christine Crowley (ex Ballymaloe Cookery School student) has taken over for the summer. She’s a beautiful cook and is open seven days a week for brunch, light lunches, sweet treats and delicious freshly ground Golden Bean coffee. Her small daily menu of yummy local produce also includes one her Middle Eastern favourites. Monday to Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 11-5pm

Phone number 021 4646807.

 

Orange Blossom Iced Tea 

 

1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints/6 1/4 cups) water
2 Earl Gray tea bags

300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) base sugar syrup, 6 fl ozs might be enough, add more if necessary
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
4 springs of fresh mint
1 orange, cut in thin slices, skin and all

Bring the water to a boil in a pan, add the tea bags and stir around. Turn off the heat and leave to steep for 15 minutes.

Remove the tea bags, add the sugar syrup and blossom water and stir to mix. Decant into a bottle or jug and push in the mint sprig and orange slices. Place in the fridge to cool entirely. Serve with loads of ice.

Pimp your tea – crush some fresh mint leaves at the bottom of a lowball glass, add a shot or two of rum, top up with ice and iced tea and lots of ice.

 

Sugar Syrup

200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) sugar

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) water

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) glucose or honey

 

Mix everything together in a small pan and bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Leave to cool, then transfer to a clean bottle or other container and store in your fridge for up to a week.

 

Yemeni Style Falafel 

 

Itamar is a quarter Yemeni on his grandfather’s side.  This falafel is a tribute to that heritage, and it is great – the traditional Yemeni combo of coriander, cardamom and garlic makes it super-vibrant in colour and flavour.

 

1/2 onion (approx. 60g/2 1/4oz)

1 clove of garlic (peeled)

250g (9oz) soaked chickpeas (125g (4 1/2oz) dried)

1 green chilli, seeds and all

3 springs of parsley, picked

1 small bunch of coriander (about 15-20g/1/2 – 3/4oz), leaves and top part of stems only

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom pods

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) garam flour (use plain if needs be)

1 teaspoon baking powder

 

To make the falafel

If using a meat grinder.

Use the coarse grinder blade if you have one we find it gives the best texture.  Cut the onion and garlic into dice so that you can easily feed them through the grinder.  Mince the chickpeas, onions, garlic, chilli and herbs into a bowl.

Add all the spices, salt, flour and baking powder and mix well to a very thick mass.

 

If using a food processor.

Start with the onion, garlic, chilli and herbs and pulse them to chop roughly, then add the chickpeas and blitz until everything becomes a thick paste with small, even-sized bits.   You may need to scrape the sides down and blitz for another pulse or two to make sure that everything is evenly chopped, but do not overwork.  The best way to check whether it is done enough is to scoop up a small amount and squeeze it together in your palm – it should hold its shape.  If it falls apart, return it to the processor for another spin.  Tip the mixture into a large bowl, add the spices, salt, flour and baking powder and mix until all is combined well.

 

Preheat the deep fry 170C/325F.

Test the oil temperature by placing a small piece of bread or falafel mix in the hot oil – as soon as it starts to bubble up and float, you are ready to go.

 

You can shape the falafel mix in a few different ways:

Use damp hands and make little balls or torpedo shapes or you can simply drop in spoonfuls of the mixture for free-form falafel.  You want to be making them about the size of a walnut, no bigger, so that they cook through and crisp up at the same time.

 

Carefully place the falafel in the oil – don’t overcrowd the pan and fry until the exterior is browned and crisped (about 2-3 minutes).  Remove to a plate covered with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil and repeat the process until you have fried them all.

 

Serve immediately with tahini (see recipe).

 

 

Tahini 

 

The quality of your tahini depends hugely on the type of tahini paste you use.

We use Al-Yaman from Lebanon which is delicious, but if you are lucky enough to find any of the Palestinian varieties, especially the Prince and Dove brands, you are in for a treat.  As a rule, you are looking for something from Lebanon, Palestine or Turkey.

We make our tahini in a food processor, as it gives a smooth, airy, mousse-like texture, but you can achieve good results with a bowl, a spoon and some wrist action.

 

Makes about 240g (8 3/4oz)

 

125g (4 1/2oz) tahini paste

1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

a pinch of salt, plus more to taste

juice of 1 lemon, plus more to taste

about 120ml (4 1/3fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) water

 

Place the tahini, minced garlic, salt and lemon juice in a bowl or food processor, add half the water and mix. It will go thick and pasty but don’t fear – just continue adding water while mixing until it loosens up to a creamy texture. Don’t be tempted to add too much water as the mixture will go runny, but if this happens, you can always bring it back with a little extra tahini paste. Taste and adjust salt and lemon to suit your taste buds.

 

Note

You can keep tahini in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days, but it will thicken and the flavour may need adjusting with a little more salt and/or lemon.  As a result we think it’s best to make it and eat it the same day – fresh is be


Lamb Siniya

 

Serves 4- 6 as a main course

(there is not much meat but the topping is quite rich)

 

Make this instead of a Shepard’s` pie next time you buy lamb mince for dinner.

 

1 small cauliflower, broken into florets (approx. 350g/12oz florets)

1 litre (1 3/4 pints/scant 4 1/2 cups) water

1 teaspoon salt

 

For the Lamb

2 onions (approx. 200g), peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt

500g (18oz) minced lamb

1 teaspoon coarsely ground fennel seeds

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) bahart spice mix (see recipe)

1 tablespoons (1 American tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) tomato purée

 

Tahini Topping

200g (7oz) yogurt

200g (7oz) tahini paste

2 eggs

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) pine nuts

 

To Serve

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon and 1 teaspoon) chopped parsley

 

Place the cauliflower in a saucepan with the water and salt. Bring to the boil and cook for 5-6 minutes until the florets is soft.  Drain and place in a shallow saucepan or casserole about 22cm (8 3/4 inch) in diameter.

 

Fry the onions on a medium heat in a frying pan with the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt until the onions start to go golden.

Add the minced lamb and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, increase the heat to high and use a spoon to break up the meat into little pieces.  When the lamb starts to brown, sprinkle on the ground fennel and baharat spice and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the tomato purée and continue to cook for a further 3 minutes, then spread all over the cauliflower in the casserole dish. You can prepare this stage up to a day in advance – just cool, cover and store in the refrigerator until needed.

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 (160 Fan)

 

Mix all the topping ingredients together apart from the water and pine nuts.  If the mixture is very thick, stir in enough of the water to loosen slightly – the consistency should resemble thick yoghurt.

 

Spread the topping over the lamb in the dish.  Sprinkle the pine nuts all over and bake in the centre of the oven at for 15 minutes or until the tahini looks set and slightly golden.

 

Sprinkle the parsley and serve.

 

Baharat – Savoury Spice Mix 

 

This, like its namesake in our kitchen, is the backbone of everything we make and, like its namesake, has endless depth and beauty, and improves almost anything.

You can use ready-made baharat spice mix instead or Lebanese Seven Spice which is sold in most large supermarkets – it will taste slightly different but will still be tasty.

 

1 dried chilli

3 teaspoons coriander seeds

4 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 teaspoons ground pimento (all spice)

1 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

 

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 (170C Fan)

 

Crack the dried chilli open and shake out the seeds.  Place the deseeded chilli on a baking tray with the coriander and cumin seeds and roast for 6 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool entirely on the tray.   Crumble the chilli between your fingers, then grind all the roasted spices to a powder.  Mix with the dried ground spices and store in an airtight container.  It will keep for 6 months, but ideally use within 2 months for the full effect.

 

 

Cherry, Pistachio and Coconut Cake

 

This was the first cake I made for the restaurant.  We wanted something that would sit on the bar counter and just make people stare.  It has been with us from the first day and I have a feeling it will stay there until the end.  We do vary the fruit on top, so we use red plums or yellow plums or raspberries, but really the cherries are the best version.  The contact between the cherries and the green pistachios, and the addition of mahleb to the cake batter, together create something electric. It is such an easy recipe to follow, I am sure it will become a huge favourite in any household.

 

Makes a 22cm (9 inch) diameter round cake

 

100g (3 1/2oz/scant 1/2 cup) sugar plus 20g (3/4oz/scant 1/8oz) for the topping

90g (3 1/4oz/scant 1/2 cup) light brown sugar

180g (6 1/4oz) ground almonds

30g (1 1/4oz) ground pistachio

45g (1 3/4oz) desiccated coconut

50g (2oz/1/2 cup) self-rising flour

a pinch of salt

1 teaspoon ground mahleb

150g (5oz/1 1/4 sticks) butter – melted

3 eggs

300g (12oz) cherries

50g (2oz) rough chopped pistachios for the topping

 

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 (170C fan).

 

Lightly grease the cake tin with butter.

 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour over the melted butter and mix in the eggs, spoon the batter into the pre-greased tin and smooth down.

 

Remove the stones from the cherries – you can do this with a cherry stoner or by just pulling them apart and popping the stones out with your fingers. I like to do this over the cake tin, so that any juice drips onto the cake and adds colour.  Drop the pitted cherries onto the batter and sprinkle the top of the cake with the remaining 20g (3/4oz) of sugar and the roughly chopped pistachios.  Bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 minutes, then turn the cake around and bake for a further 8-10 minutes until the cake  between the cherries goes all golden.

 

Allow the cake to cool in the tin, as it needs time to settle, then gently remove by running a knife around the edges.  Covered well, it will keep in the fridge for up to a week (not much chance of that happening), but for the best flavour, allow it to return to room temperature before eating.

 

 

 

 

Midleton Farmer’s Marketing: 15 Years

June 13th, 2015

Cucumber,-Radish-Mint-Salad

Great excitement in Midleton on the Bank Holiday weekend. The Midleton Farmers Market was joyfully celebrating its 15 year anniversary. Nationwide, broadcast directly from the Park Hotel where they linked directly on the SDN line to Bloom least anyone should imagine it was ‘all’ happening in Dublin.

Brenda Donohue, interviewed Sandra and Joe Burns about the vegetable crisp business they have started on their farm in Killeagh to add value to their produce. Jo, is son of the legendary Mrs Burns who was a well-known trader long before the Farmers Market started.

Local celebrities, The Crystal Swing band drove all the way from Letterkenny through the night to meet Brenda who had heard news of  Dervla marrying a local farmer in August.

Brenda was hugely impressed by the vibrant Midleton Farmers Market in full celebratory mood with bunting, balloons, face painting and lively music provided by Trí na Ceile from Killeagh.

Several of the original 12 stallholders that started the market on the June Bank Holiday weekend in 2000 are still trading. Ted Murphy, a stalwart of the market from the very first day was there as was Frank Hederman artisan fish smoker from Belvelly near Cobh. Willie Scannell whose flowery Ballycotton potatoes are much loved by his ever growing band of loyal customers.  Fiona Burke’s stall with a beautiful selection of Irish farmhouse cheese and Jane Murphy’s Ardsallagh goat’s cheese are still part of the market. So too are David and Siobhan Barry’s seasonal vegetables with a much larger selection than on the first day. Toby Simmonds of The Olive Stall was also there at the outset and his stall also trades beside the market.

The Midleton Farmers Market soon became the yard stick by which other markets were measured. Stall numbers grew and it quickly became oversubscribed with many farmers and food producers clamouring to be part of a business model that was clearly an excellent prototype.

Other Farmers Markets were established around the county and country (160 at last count) enabling local people to buy fresh local food in season from those who produce it, going some way towards realising my dream of a Farmers Market in every town in Ireland. It is now well proven that a successful Farmers Market in a town not only brings extra business overall but also food tourists (of which there are an ever growing number) but also positive publicity which benefits everyone in the community.

John Potter Cogan who initially approached me after the vegetable processing plant Frigoscandia had closed was a vitally important part of the initial impetus. He was a member of the Chamber of Commerce who with the Midleton Town Council had the vision to see that a Farmers Market (which by the way was quite a revolutionary initiative at that time and even considered by many to be a retrogressive step) would be a positive initiative for the town.

There are now 27 stalls soon to be 33, the variety of produce is absolutely tantalizing from artisan bread, vegetables, herbs and fruit in season, organic produce, local honey and oysters, fresh fish, wild mushrooms, home baking, cordials and pickles, gluten free treats, foraged food, smoked fish and homemade pate, shellfish, heritage pork products, local ducks, chickens and eggs, farmhouse cheese, pies, freshly made salads, chocolate and long queues for freshly made coffee. Market goers can enjoy a pizza straight from Simon Mould’s wood burning oven, a BLT or pulled pork sandwich from Woodside Farm and much much more. The Farmers Market provide a livelihood for many, an opportunity to buy local food from small production systems and an alternative shopping experience for families who wish to engage directly with those who produce the food they buy to nourish their family at a time when a growing number of people realise that our food should and can be our medicine.

Congratulations to everyone at Midleton Farmers Market. The heading of an article by Joe Duggan in The Irish Examiner on Tuesday June 6th 2000 was ‘Market Heralds A New Era In Direct Selling of Natural Produce’, I’m proud to have been a little part of that initiative.

 

Hot Tips

Find of the Week

Rosscarberry has a new restaurant in a familiar venue. The Pilgrim’s Rest has simply become Pilgrims serving a “seasonally crafted ever changing daily menu”. I got a tip off only a few days after Sarah Jane Pearce and Mark Jennings (from Café Paradiso and The Ethicurean in Bristol) had taken over. It was well worth a detour.  Five of us went for lunch and virtually ate our way through the menu, particularly delicious was Tatsuta age (sweet chicken) with chilli mayo, spiced carrot dip, hazelnut duukah, flax crackers, pickled mackerel, creamed beetroot, parsley, radish……

An exciting young team – watch that space

Tel: (023) 883 1796 www.pilgrims.ie

 

Do not miss dinner at Good Things Café in Durrus on Friday June 19th – a feast of seasonal produce cooked beautifully by Carmel Somers.

Tel: 027 61426 www.thegoodthingscafe.com/

 

Another exciting date for your diary …..Listowel Food Festival from June 18-21 2015. An eclectic programme again this year with foraging, markets, cookery demos, dinners…..the website www.listowelfoodfair.ie is choc a bloc with info.

Midleton Farmers Market Art Competition

 

Congratulations to Aoife Rice from Cloyne National School, the overall winner of the 15 Year Midleton Farmers Market Anniversary Art Competition to paint a picture of your local Farmers Market or market stall.

Castlemartyr National School also got honourable mention for their beautiful collage of paintings.

 

 

Naranjan Kaur McCormack’s  Barbecue Spare Ribs

Serves 8-10 people

 

There are dozens of variations to this recipe, every Chinese chef would have his very own favourite recipe for barbecue ribs. Some of the recipes call for the ribs to be par-boiled prior to being cooked. Some recipes call for the ribs to be roasted in an open roasting tin and some recipes call for the ribs to be roasted in a tinfoil parcel.

 

This recipe is one that I have found to be very successful and simply delicious.

This is of course a very popular starter in many restaurants in the West.

When serving barbecue ribs as a starter, always provide a “finger bowl” to wash fingers as the only way to enjoy  these ribs is to eat with  your fingers.

 

2 racks of Woodside Farm pork spare-ribs

2-3 heaped tablespoons ‘hoi-sin’ sauce

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon finely shredded ginger

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + teaspoon) chinese rice wine / sherry

¼ level teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

A pinch of Chinese 5 spice powder

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) honey

Garnish

With lettuce, peppers and slices of lemon

 

Using a very sharp knife, slice the rack of ribs into individual pieces, if the ribs are rather small

then you would be advised to slice the ribs in two’s, otherwise the meat on the ribs tend to dry

out a little on roasting.

 

Shred the ginger very finely, and crush the garlic. Place all the pork ribs, ginger and garlic together into a very large bowl and add the sherry , nutmeg and the 5 spice powder and mix together. Then add the’ hoi -sin’ sauce and mix thoroughly.

Line a large roasting tin with tin foil, leaving the tin foil to extend generously out over both ends. Layer the spare-ribs into the tin foiled roasting tin. Fold over the tinfoil, making a loose

parcel and roast the pork spare-ribs in a preheated oven 200C/400F/regulo 6 for approximately

one hour.

Then open out the tin foil parcel and baste the ribs. Leave the foil open and return the ribs to the

oven for about 10 minutes. Then glaze the ribs with the honey and return to the oven for

another 5-10 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with lettuce, peppers and lemon slices or wedges.

 

Telephone Woodside Farm 087 276 7206

 

 

 

Ballycotton New Potatoes Cooked in Seawater

We’ve just had the first of the new potatoes – try cooking them in seawater amazing.

Serves 4-5

 

2lbs (900g) new potatoes e.g., Home Guard, British Queens (the variety we grow is Colleen)

2 pints (1.2 litres/5 cups) seawater or 2 pints (1.2 litres/5 cups) tap water plus 1 teaspoon salt

a sprig of seaweed if available

 

Bring the seawater to the boil. Scrub the potatoes. Add salt if using tap water and a sprig of seaweed to the water, and then add the potatoes. Cover the saucepan, bring back to the boil and cook for 15-25 minutes or until fully cooked depending on size.

Drain and serve immediately in a hot serving dish with good Irish butter.

 

Note

It’s vitally important for flavour to add salt to the water when cooking potatoes.

 

 

 

Cucumber, Radish and Mint Salad

Love this simple little salad with the first of the new seasons cucumber, radish and mint.

 

Serves 6-8

 

1 cucumber

2 bunches radishes

salt and freshly ground pepper

extra virgin olive oil

freshly squeezed lemon juice

lots of flat parsley sprigs and mint leaves

 

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then in half again.  Cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) slice at an angle.  Trim the radishes and cut into similar size pieces, mix with the cucumber.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Toss gently, add lots of flat parsley and fresh mint leaves.  Taste and correct seasoning, add a little honey if necessary.

 

06/05/2015 (SH/DA) (15483)

 

 

 

Ballymaloe Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Tart with Elderflower Cream

 

I’ve chosen to use green gooseberries and elderflower in this recipe, but the filling changes with the season. We always have a fruit tart of some kind on the sweet trolley at Ballymaloe, and it reflects what is in season at that time. Sometimes we add some spices, fresh herbs or wild flavours like the elderflowers in this recipe – whatever complements the fruit.

 

Serves 6–8

 

450g (I lb) sweet shortcrust or flaky pastry for the base

700g (11⁄2lb) green gooseberries

150g (6oz) white or golden caster sugar (or more, depending on the tartness of the gooseberries)

2 elderflower heads

1 organic egg for egg wash

 

Elderflower Cream

300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) whipped cream

1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 -2 1/2 American tablespoons) elderflower cordial

 

25cm (10in) Pyrex or enamel plate

 

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/ gas mark 7.

 

Roll out half of the shortcrust pastry and line the plate. Trim the edges. Top and tail the gooseberries and pile them up on the plate, leaving a border of 2.5cm (1in). Pick the elderflower heads off the heavy stem and lay them over the gooseberries. Sprinkle the sugar evenly on top.

 

Roll out the remainder of the pastry a little thicker than the base, wet the border around the gooseberries with a little egg wash or water, and press the pastry lid down onto it. Trim the pastry to within 1cm (1⁄2in) of the rim of the pie. Crimp up the edges with a sharp knife and then scallop them. Make a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Egg wash the surface. Roll out the trimmings and cut into leaves and decorate the top of the tart, egg wash again.

 

Bake for 35 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180°C/ 350°F/gas mark 4 for a further 30 minutes. Test the gooseberries are soft by inserting a skewer. Sprinkle with fine caster sugar, serve with soft brown sugar and elderflower cream.

 

To make the elderflower cream.

Add the elderflower cordial to the whipped cream, stir gently, taste and add a little more if necessary.

 

 

This Has Been A Wonderful Week

June 6th, 2015

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This has been a wonderful week, I found myself giving heartfelt thanks to the good Lord and Mother Nature several times over. We had the first new potatoes of the year, with butter made from the cream of our small Jersey herd and Achill sea salt, the first broad beans of the season, in their furry pods and a few days later the first peas, how exciting is that! We ate them freshly picked straight out of the pods, just like our greedy grandchildren and then to cap it all we had the first fresh mackerel of the year today all the way from Knockadoon. Beautiful, fresh food in season and not a ‘best-before’ date in sight – come to think of it most ‘real’ food doesn’t come wrapped in plastic with a sell-by date on it anyway.

This is a fantastically exciting time of the year for gardeners and any of us who grow a little of our own food, suddenly after the hungry gap between the end of winter  and the first of summer produce, gorgeous vegetables and herbs are bursting out of the ground. If you haven’t already started to grow something, dash off to your local garden centre and buy a few packets of seeds or seedlings all ready to grow – virtually every Farmers Market sell a variety of vegetable plugs ready to plant into the ground and you don’t have to have a farm or even a large garden. You’d be amazed how much you can grow in containers, tubs or on your balcony, a raised bed or otherwise. I recently saw three rows of beautiful lettuces, salad leaves and spring onion growing in an old drawer and a virtual garden in an old enamelled bathtub. In the US the Grow Food Not Lawns Movement continues to gather momentum – check out their website www.foodnotlawns.com that’s just one of a tonne of different initiatives worldwide, GIY Ireland continues to inspire. Their latest initiative launched at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine in conjunction with Cully and Sully to encourage people to grow food in their offices had an enthusiastic response.  A brilliantly simple concept that’s got hundreds of people growing peas for the first time.

Peas are a particularly brilliant crop to grow, you can eat them at every stage, pea shoots and flowers in salads, the tendrils called ‘wizards whiskers’ can garnish a plate, the young peas of course so sublime when eaten less than 5 hours after being picked after that the sugars turn to starch, another reason to grow your own , because it’s almost impossible to buy peas that fresh. The pea pods make a delicious soup and when the crop goes over the remaining  peas can be dried and kept for winter use.

Every guest chef who came to the Litfest salivated at the selection of vegetables, salad leaves and fresh herbs in the cookery school gardens (open to the public every day 11am-6pm). Here are some of the delicious ways they incorporated them into their dishes including April Bloomfield’s carrot leaf pesto, a brilliant new discovery for me.

 

Hot Tips

Don’t miss the brilliant little Cottage Market in Ladysbridge on Sunday mornings from 10.30am to 12 midday. Food stalls of course but also crafts, knitted animals and toys, handmade jewellery, vintage clothes, flowers and plants, local honey, home baking, a fun children’s play area, an exercise class to lively music…..and pop around the corner to see Ladysbridge GIY allotments, a brilliant community initiative, every village should have one.

While you are there swing by Carewswood Garden Centre, pick up some vegetable plants and don’t forget to check out the café, a big favourite in the area and justifiably so. www.facebook.com/pages/Carewswood-Garden-Centre-Cafe

 

Ballymaloe Cookery School Garden Workshop

People come from far and wide to see the formal herb garden at Ballymaloe Cookery School but don’t let that intimidate you.  Every cook should have a little herb patch preferably close to the kitchen door. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, herbs grow happily even in the smallest of spaces, in a variety of containers even in and out through your flowers in a herbaceous border. On Monday June 15th from 9am-2pm you can learn how to design a herb garden from our highly acclaimed head gardener Susan Turner who will illustrate the best way to design a herb garden. She’ll give lots of practical advice and suggestions on how to grow herbs year round, propagate from seed and cuttings and much more…lunch is included. Booking essential 021 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie.

Artisan Salami

The number of new food start-ups is astonishing, almost every week.  I hear of a new artisan product but it’s also terrific to celebrate the originals. At Fiona Burke’s Strawbale Cheese stall in Midleton Farmers Market alongside a choice selection of Irish and continental craft cheeses, I recently came across Olivier Beaujouan’s handmade garlic salami and chorizo from Castlegregory in Co Kerry, so good in natural casings with a wonderful artisan quality.  Tel: 066 713 9028

Fiona’s got a new project at the moment a Little Red range of creams made from natural organic ingredients including 90% carageen moss, cocoa butter and beeswax from West Cork.  www.littlered.ie


 

April Bloomfield’s  Crushed Spring Peas with Mint

 

April Bloomfield considered by many to be the best woman chef in New York was absolutely enchanting. She cooks beautiful fresh ingredients but with a charming twist. This recipe comes from her new book A Girl and her Greens.

 

“As a girl in England, I always loved mushy peas, whether they were made the real way—from

a starchy variety of pea called marrowfat that’s dried, then soaked—or dumped into a pot straight from a tin. Nowadays I prefer this mash made from fresh, sweet shelling peas—a twist on the

British classic, which actually takes less work to make than its inspiration. It’s wonderful spread in a thick layer on warm bread or as a dip for raw veg, like radishes, carrots, and wedges of fennel.”

 

Makes about 2 cups

 

2 cups fresh peas (from about 2 pounds pods)

1 ounce aged pecorino, finely grated

1½ teaspoons Maldon or another flaky sea salt

1 small spring garlic clove or ½ small garlic clove, smashed, peeled, and roughly chopped

12 medium mint leaves (preferably black mint)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Scant 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more for finishing

 

Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to a coar e puree, about 45 seconds. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and roughly stir and smoosh a bit so it’s a little creamy and a little chunky. Season to taste with more salt and lemon juice—you want it to taste sweet and bright but not acidic.

 

From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. Copyright 2015 April Bloomfield. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

 

 

Allegra McEvedy’s Broad Beans Braised in their Pods

 

Allegra McEvedy witty self-depreciating style hides a true talent for cooking wonderfully tasty non intimidating food that you’ll enjoy eating with family and friends, here’s a brilliant way to enjoy the tiny season’s broad beans, pod and all. This recipe comes from her book  Bought, Borrowed and Stolen

 

“This is a fabulous standard in Morocco, though you need to do it with youngish broad beans at the beginning of the season (i.e. June/July) as the pods are too tough to stew down to the desirable softness with old ones.

It feels kind of like cheating (in a good way) to bypass first the podding, then all that shelling usually done with broadies.”

 

Serves 4-6 as a side dish. A 10 minute make, then half an hours cooking.

 

100 ml (3 ½ fl oz. / 11/25 cups) extra virgin olive oil

400g (14 oz) broad beans in their pods

2 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 whole chilli, dried or fresh

1 400g (14 oz.) tin tomatoes

small handful mint, finely chopped

squeeze of lemon

S & P

 

Rinse the beans, trim them and slice the pods diagonally into oblique oblongs about 5cm long.

Heat the oil in a wide pan.

Sauté the beans in the pan along with the garlic, onion and chilli for a few minutes, then cover and cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes

Stir in the tomatoes, mix well and season enthusiastically.

Pour in 500 ml (18 fl oz / 2 ¼ cups.) water, turn up the heat, put on a lid and bring to the boil.

Once boiling, turn down and simmer for 15 minutes.

Take off the lid and let it continue bubbling down for another 15 minutes, allowing the liquid to reduce a bit.

Turn off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes before stirring in the mint and lemon juice and having a final taste for seasoning. Serve warm, not piping hot.

 

From Bought Borrowed & Stolen by Allegra McEvedy

 

 

 

April Bloomfield’s Pot-Roasted Artichokes with White Wine and Capers

Serves 4 to 6 as a side (accompaniment)

 

One of the reasons I go giddy about springtime is artichokes, particularly the small ones with tips closed tightly, like a flower at night. Some home cooks are reluctant to fill their totes with artichokes, they’ll need to be turned—the barbed leaves plucked off and the other inedible bits trimmed away. I quite like the process. It’s meditative and satisfying once you get the hang of it. In this dish, the fleshy artichokes get browned and crispy tops and look like strange, beautiful roses. The acidity in the white wine cuts through the rich, dense veg and, along with the salty pops from the capers, highlights the artichokes’ unique herbaceousness.

 

50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

1.6kg (3 1/2lbs) baby artichokes (about 18)

2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 1/2 teaspoons Maldon or other flaky sea salt

350ml (12fl oz /1 1/2 cups) dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 heaping tablespoon drained capers

a five-finger pinch of mint leaves (preferably black mint), torn at the last minute

 

Heat the oil in a heavy pot (wide enough to hold the artichokes with room to spare) over medium-high heat until it just begins to smoke.

Stand the artichokes cut sides down in the oil, wait a minute, then reduce the heat to medium-low, sprinkle in the garlic and salt, and cook, without stirring, just until the garlic turns golden and smells toasty, about 3 minutes.

 

Pour in the wine, cover the pot, and cook, without stirring, at a vigorous simmer until you can insert a sharp knife into the thick artichoke bottoms with barely any resistance, about 25 minutes. Five minutes or so before they’re fully tender, scatter on the capers and cover again.

 

Uncover, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring the liquid to a boil.

 

Cook until all the wine has evaporated (the bubbling sound will become a sizzle), about 3 minutes. Add the mint and keep cooking the artichokes in the oil (it’s OK if a few of them tip over), until the cut sides of the artichokes are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat if necessary to prevent the artichokes from getting too dark.

 

Arrange the artichokes prettily on a plate, and scoop the capers, oil, and slightly crispy mint over top. Serve straightaway or at room temperature

 

From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. Copyright 2015 April Bloomfield. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

 

 

April Bloomfield’s Roasted Carrots with Carrot-Top Pesto and Burrata

 

If you can get your hands on burrata—a really special cheese, like delicate mozzarella with a creamy center—then you’re already most of the way toward a great dish. In the spring, I’ll serve burrata with Snap Pea Salad; in high summer, I’ll pair it with slices of ripe tomato, good olive oil, and flaky salt. When summer fades, I crave burrata with roasted carrots, a pairing that’s less common but no less worthy of your attention. The two are like good mates, each helping the other along: the sweetness of the carrots sets off the tanginess of the cheese; the cheese’s tanginess makes the carrots tastes even sweeter. Pesto made from the carrot tops adds color and salty, herbaceous wallops throughout the dish.

 

Serves 4 to 6 as a side (accompaniment)

 

20 small carrots (the size of pointer fingers), scrubbed well but not peeled, all but 1cm (1/2 inch) of the tops removed and reserved

3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon plus a few pinches of Maldon or another flaky sea salt

225g (8oz) room-temperature burrata, drained

about 2 1/2 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons) Carrot Top Pesto (see recipe)

a five-finger pinch of basil leaves, torn at the last minute if large

3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) lemon juice

 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 500˚F/260°C/Gas Mark 10.

 

Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons) of the oil into a heavy ovenproof pan big enough to hold the carrots in a single layer. Set the pan over high heat and bring the oil to a light smoke. Add the carrots, sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of the salt, and turn the carrots to coat them in the oil. Cook, turning over the carrots occasionally, until they’re browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes. Pop the pan in the oven and roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the carrots are evenly tender, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of your carrots. Let the carrots cool slightly. Halve the burrata and arrange the halves on a platter. Arrange the carrots on the platter so they’re pointing this way and that. Add the pesto here and there in little dollops.

 

Pluck enough 5-7.5cm (2-3 inch) delicate sprigs from the reserved carrot tops to make about 45g (1 3/4oz/1 1/2 lightly packed cups) and toss them in a bowl with the basil. Whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons) of the oil with the lemon juice and a good pinch of salt in a small bowl until the mixture looks creamy. Use a little of the lemon dressing to lightly dress the carrot top–basil mixture, sprinkle on a little more salt, and toss well. Arrange the mixture on top of the carrots and burrata. Drizzle everything with the remaining lemon dressing and serve.

 

 

From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield. Copyright 2015 April Bloomfield. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


Pan-grilled Mackerel with Bretonne Sauce

 

This is a master recipe for pan grilling fish.

The simplest and possibly the most delicious way to cook really fresh mackerel.

 

Serves 6

 

12 fillets of very fresh mackerel (allow 6ozs (175g) fish for main course, 3ozs (75g) for a starter)

seasoned flour

small knob of butter

 

Bretonne Sauce

75g (3ozs/3/4 stick) butter, melted

1 eggs yolk, preferably free range

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (We use Maille Verte Aux Herbs)

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) parsley, chopped or a mixture of chervil, chives, tarragon and fennel, chopped (mixed)

 

First make the Bretonne Sauce. Melt the butter and allow to boil.  Put the egg yolks into a bowl, add the mustard and the herbs, mix well.  Whisk the hot melted butter into the egg yolk mixture little by little so that the sauce emulsifies.  Keep warm, by placing the Pyrex bowl in a saucepan of hot but not boiling water.

 

Just before serving, dip the dry 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 on a hot plate with some Bretonne sauce spooned over the top or serve in a little bowl on the side.

 


Sugared Strawberries with Mint

The Irish strawberry season is now in full swing. The early variety have been grown in a tunnel or greenhouse and irrigated hence their size. A little sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, shredded mint adds an extra oomph to the berries.

 

Serves 12-16

 

450g (1lb) strawberries

freshly squeezed lemon juice

caster sugar

fresh mint leaves

 

To make the sugared strawberries.

Remove the calyx from the strawberries.  Slice lengthwise into a bowl.  Sprinkle with a little lemon juice and caster sugar to taste.  Add some shredded fresh mint leaves.  Taste and tweak if necessary.

Serve with vanilla bean ice cream. A little strawberry coulis would also be delicious with this.

 

Strawberry Coulis

450g (16oz) fresh strawberries

70g (2 1/2oz/1/2 cup) icing sugar

lemon juice

 

Clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain through a nylon sieve.  Taste and add lemon juice if necessary, it should taste deliciously bitter sweet.  Store in a fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Litfest

May 29th, 2015

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We’re all still on a high from the Litfest. Apart from all the antics and stimulating talks, forums and panel discussions in the Grain Store and Big Shed, there was also a packed schedule at the Ballymaloe Cookery School with three and sometimes four events running simultaneously. This week I want to share some of my personal highlights.

However, I had exactly had the same frustrations this year as before, having invited many more of my food heroes to Ballymaloe. I simply couldn’t get to many of the concurrent events but did get fantastic feedback. Allegra McEvedy has a cult following for her wholesome and gutsy food and her irreverent style further endears her to her fans. She gave a cookery demonstration of some of her best loved dishes.  The response to her delicious food was overwhelmingly delightful.

Arun Kapil told the fascinating story of Green Saffron and his book Fresh Spice in a packed Blue Dining room. A little while later multi award winning, Kevin Thornton spoke to a rapt audience about his travels in Ethiopia – the photographs in his book all styled and taken by Kevin himself showed another hugely creative side of this enormously talented chef.

Still staying with our Irish stars, Hugo Arnold and Leylie Hayes of Avoca gave a riveting three hour cookery demonstration of some of the iconic dishes that has made Avoca such a huge success. Later Jack Monroe, who shot to fame a number of years ago when she started a blog ‘A Girl called Jack’ on feeding herself and her son on £10 sterling a week. This was an interactive cookery demonstration where people could bring a child along free of charge.  Jack’s writing style is chatty and entertaining. Her food brilliantly creative and delicious, illustrates how well you can eat on a miniscule budget when one have the cooking skills to transform a few inexpensive ingredients into a yummy meal.

Charlotte Pike, one of our past 12 Week Certificate students taught a Fermentation workshop and packed a ton of information into a short time. Her fourth book FERMENTED will be published by Kyle Books on August 27th 2015.

Here’s some of the delicious new recipes from the chefs…

 

Hot Tips

Find of the Week

A new artisan bacon from the Baltimore Pig Company in West Cork. I picked up a packet of dry cured rashers at Glebe Garden Shop in Baltimore. They had been cured in molasses and black pepper and smoked over hardwood. No nitrates, no preservatives so the bacon was the natural colour rather than a bright nitrate induced pink. Looking forward to visiting the farm on Rath Hill near Baltimore. www.thebaltimorepig.ie

 

Organic Chicken:- It becomes increasingly difficult to find an Irish organic chicken. We now bring our organic chicken from Wexford where Mary Regan and her family rear chickens and a few Aylesbury ducks on their 17 hectare organic farm near Enniscorthy.

They have an on-farm abattoir so they can look after the birds from chicks to the table. The birds are ready for the table at around 12½ weeks as opposed to 28-32 days in intensive production systems. Needless to say the cost of caring and feeding the free range birds with non GM organic feed over that extended period is reflected in the price, but in organic chicken you are also paying for what’s not in it!

Mary Regan Organic Produce 087 668 2461

 

Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich from Honey & Co in London cooked a lunch at Ballymaloe House during the Litfest. The flavours thrilled the guests and frustrated those who couldn’t get tickets. But the good news is Sarit and Itamar are returning to the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday June 6th to give a one day course. Their restaurant Honey & Co is one of London’s most talked about, we love their fragrant Middle Eastern food packed with vibrant flavours.

Booking essential 021 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie

 

 

Avoca Multi-Seed Bread

 

180g (6 1/4oz) plain flour

310g (11oz) coarse brown flour

50g (2oz) bran

25g (1oz) wheat germ

2 1/2 heaped teaspoons baking powder

1 level teaspoon salt

100g (3 1/2oz) mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, linseed, pumpkin), keep back 10g (1/2oz) to sprinkle on top of bread

50g (2oz) sultanas

50g (2oz) semi-dried apricots, chopped

1 generous tablespoon treacle

600-700ml (1 – 1 1/4 pints / 2 1/2 -3 cups) of milk

 

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

 

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add the treacle and enough milk to make a moist dough, like stiff porridge.  Place the bread dough in a greased 900g (2lb) baking tin, sprinkle with the 10g (1/2oz) of mixed seeds you kept back and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until bread has risen, then reduce temperature by 10 degrees and continue cooking for a further hour. The bread should be well browned and sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped underneath.  Leave on a wire rack to cool.

 

This bread is delicious served with either sweet preserves or equally nice with good cheese, smoked fish or charcuterie. Best eaten on the day it is made but delicious toasted on day 2 or 3.

 

Copyright Leylie Hayes & Hugo Arnold

 

Avoca Beetroot Falafel

250g (9oz) freshly grated raw beetroot

200g (7oz) cooked chick peas, coarsely blitzed

75g (3oz) minced mild white onion

40g (1 1/2oz) light Tahini

2 large cloves of garlic crushed

50g (2oz) gram flour approximately

20ml (3/4fl oz/scant 1/8 cup) sunflower oil

generous teaspoon of cumin seeds

generous teaspoon of coriander seeds

freshly chopped coriander leaves to taste

 

Warm the cumin and coriander seeds on a dry pan for a few minutes until they release their natural fragrance. Grind them in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

 

Place the beetroot, chick peas, onion, Tahini, garlic, oil, coriander and spices in a large bowl and mix well. Season the mixture generously with salt and freshly milled pepper.  Add just enough gram flour to bring the mixture together to a consistency that will hold its shapes when rolled into little balls.

 

To cook the falafel, either deep fry in a deep fat fryer or alternatively shallow fry in a little sunflower oil until lightly browned and then transfer to a moderate preheated oven for 10 minutes.

 

A simple Tzatziki to serve with Falafel

Grate a whole cucumber, and place in a colander or sieve, sprinkle with a little sea salt and allow drain for around 20 minutes. Press the cucumber against the side of the sieve to extract as much excess moisture from it as you can. Then place in a large bowl mix with 125g (4 1/2oz) thick Greek style yoghurt, 1 clove of crushed garlic, some freshly chopped mint and a little freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.

 

Copyright Leylie Hayes & Hugo Arnold

 

Jack Monroe’s Garlic Jam

This started out as a curious thought in the back of my head – I know garlic softens and sweetens the longer you cook it, so could I make garlic jam? I scribbled some notes based on what little I know about jam making, dug out an old onion marmalade recipe to use as a rough guide, and promptly forgot all about it.

Then last weekend, I acquired some beautiful purple garlic bulbs, and the garlic jam pondering resurfaced… I spent a pleasant Sunday evening peeling and slicing 40 cloves of garlic, and ended up with 2 jars of this sweet, punchy, unapologetic condiment – I’ll be serving mine on toast with freshly sliced ripe tomatoes, or with buttery sautéed mushrooms, or dolloped on the side of some roast chicken…

Makes 2 small jars

350g (12oz) garlic cloves
a little oil
300g (10oz/1 1/4 cups) sugar (I use caster)
70ml (2 3/4fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) white wine vinegar
70ml (2 3/4fl oz/generous 1/4 cup) white wine
6 thyme stalks, picked

Wash and rinse your jars and lids, and pop them on a baking sheet in a low oven, around 120°C/250°F/1/2 Gas Mark will do. Bake them for 10 minutes to sterilise them, then turn the oven off – without opening it – until you need the jars.

Peel and slice your garlic cloves and toss into a heavy-bottomed pan with the oil. Bring to a very low heat to soften for 10 minutes – don’t allow them to brown or burn. (if you find peeling the cloves hard work, chop the top and bottom off and drop them into a jug or bowl of boiling water. Allow to soak for half an hour – they should slip right out of their skins).

Pour over the vinegar, wine and half the sugar, and bring to the boil. Toss in the thyme leaves and reduce the heat back down to a simmer. Simmer for a further 15 minutes to soften, then mash with a masher to break up into small pieces.

Add the remaining sugar and stir well. Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for 5 minutes, stirring well to stop it sticking to the bottom. Add a splash more wine to loosen if necessary.

Remove from the heat and drop a teaspoon of the jam mixture onto a saucer. If it starts to set around the edges, it’s good to go.

Remove the jars from the oven – with a tea towel or cloth as they will be hot!

Pour the jam carefully into the warm jars, and balance the lid on top to cool. Once cooled, label and seal the lids, and store in the fridge or in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Taken from A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe

 

Jack Monroe’s Peanut Butter and Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Here I have brought together two of my favourite cookies into a classic combination of peanut butter and jam. My small boy loves making the thumbprints in these and spooning in the jam, and it’s a happy rainy-day activity to do together – although having such tiny little thumbs, he does his with a teaspoon!

Makes 12 cookies

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter, plus extra to grease the baking sheet

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons crunch peanut butter

8 tablespoons self-raising flour (or 8 tablespoons plain flour and 1 level teaspoon baking powder or bicarbonate of soda), plus extra to dust your hands

4 tablespoons jam

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, and lightly grease a baking sheet in preparation.

 

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until softened and well combined. Add the egg yolk and the peanut butter, and mix until the peanut butter is evenly distributed through the mixture. Spoon in the flour and stir to make a soft dough.

 

With lightly floured hands, break off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.

 

Repeat with the rest of the dough. Using your thumb, or a teaspoon, make a deep well in the centre of each flattened ball of dough – the cookies will flatten and spread out slightly as they cook, so don’t be afraid to dig in!

 

Melt the jam slightly in a microwave for 30 seconds on a low setting, then spoon a little into the centre of each cookie.

 

Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.

 

Tips

Try different flavour combinations, such as grated white chocolate in place of peanut butter and lemon curd instead of jam. Or try dark chocolate with blackberry jam for a dark, delicious “Black Forest gateau” version.

Serve the cookies warm from the oven with a scoop of frozen yoghurt – try making your own Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Yoghurt

Taken from A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe

 

Allegra McEvedy’s Lombo di Maiale alla Spiede

God bless the peasant farmers that came up with this, a supper of pig and fat and salt and sticks that reeks of rustic. We had it in a little local restaurant up in the hills around Florence, not far from the quarry where Michelangelo cut his teeth, not to mention some rather fine marble.

 

This dish isn’t the healthiest thing you’ll ever eat, but it may well be one of the yummiest. The authentic fat to use is a block of Lardo di Colonnata, a salted pork fat cured with rosemary, which if you ever come across it is a must buy situation. A kilo block of Lardo is one of the more treacherous illegal imports I’ve brought home, but it goes a long way and made me happy for a good couple of months. Probably the best substitute is a piece of fatty pancetta, heated in a frying pan so that the fat melts, topped up the amount needed with olive oil. Or even a block of lard, but I’d add a bit of extra virgin olive oilin there for flavour, as this dish is all about flavourful fat. And if you really don’t want to use animal fats you can use just olive oil, but I’d be inclined to say in that case this recipe is not for you.

Rosemary from the garden is ideal as it has woodier stems – better for supporting the weight.

 

Serves 4 and takes half an hour at the beginning, then an hours marinate then 20 to finish it off.

 

2 pork tenderloins, each weighing around 400g (14oz) (trimmed weight)

salt and pepper

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 long, woody stems of rosemary (around 30cm/10.5 inches each)

big splash extra virgin olive oil

250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) melted piggy fat from lardo, fatty pancetta or good old fashioned lard though if you manage to find lardo, which is possible, then you’ll need to start with around 400g (14oz) and skin, trim and cube it before melting (or you can go for a combination of pork fat and extra virgin olive oil)

salt

1 ciabatta, about 270g (9 3/4oz)

 

Strip the leaves from the rosemary stems, just leaving a bushy tip on each one and finely chop the leaves.

 

Cut the tenderloins into slices about 3cm (1 1/4 inch) thick (to make about 16 pieces) and marinate them in the extra virgin, half the garlic and half the chopped rosemary for about an hour or so.

 

Once the meat has had as much marinating time as you can afford it, preheat the oven to 200ºC/400º/Gas Mark 6.

 

Heat the pork fat in a small pan and gently fry the rest of the garlic and rosemary leaves with a good seasoning of salt (you won’t need any salt if you’ve managed to get hold of lardo).

Season the tenderloin pieces with salt and pepper.

 

Cut the ciabatta into chunks about the same size as the pieces of pork – you’ll need 20 pieces.

Dip the pieces of bread into the melted fat, pressing each one down so that they really soak it up, and as you do this thread the bread and meat alternately onto the rosemary sticks: five bread pieces and four pork pieces per stick, each one starting and finishing with a piece of bread.

 

Line them all up on a baking tray, spoon over any leftover fat and put into the oven for 12–15 minutes.

 

Leave to rest for a couple of minutes, then carefully lift them onto a suitably gorgeous serving dish and pour over any juices that have come out of the meat. Serve with wedges of lemon and a plain tomato salad, as in no dressing or seasoning – there’s enough grease and salt going on already!

 

Taken from Bought, Borrowed & Stolen by  Allegra McEvedy

Foraging

May 22nd, 2015

Foraging beware you can get hooked, it is so fun that it quickly becomes addictive. Where others merely see a clump of weeds we visualise a yummy dinner.

We’ve had several exciting foraging courses recently including one Slow Food foraging session.  All were packed with people eager to learn what for many is an almost forgotten skill. It’s free and available in both urban and rural areas, in the woods, by the sea shore, in the fields, on stone walls, all year round.

Unbelievable but true, just walk outside your door, open your eyes in a new way, what do you see? Any daisies, primroses, dandelions. They are all edible, pluck the little petals from the daisy and scatter them over a salad, that’s called ‘daisy confetti’, how cute is that.

Dandelion leaves and flowers are both edible. The leaves are quite bitter but fantastically good for you. For many of us ‘Bitter’ is an acquired taste, we’ve become used to the easy sweetness of tame vegetables. I love it but if you’d rather a more delicate flavour, cover the dandelion plant with a bucket or lid to blanch the leaves to pale yellow just like the ones you’ll find in French bistro salads. The familiar yellow flowers make delicious dandelion fritters as do the leaves of comfrey. We crystallize many of the wild flowers including primroses and violets.

The stone walls around our boundary are encrusted with little fleshy discs of pennyworth – soo good in salads. The wild garlic season is in full swing. The woods and shady places are full of the broad leaf ramps (allium ursinum).  Many country roads are edged with allium triquetrum, the pretty three corned leek which has narrow leaves and resembles a white bluebell. Both types are edible but the wide leaves of the ransomes are perhaps more versatile for the cook. We love them in soups, salads, champ, pesto. The pretty white flowers garnish starter plates and are sprinkled into the green salad every day while the season lasts. The  alexanders are flowering now so stalks are tough but the seeds can be dried and used in salads and pickles.  Bitter Cress or Winter Cress with its slightly peppery flavour is another favourite, reminiscent of radish. It grows in little clumps like a weed, both in gravel paths and in soil. It has shallow roots and like all cresses the top leaf is the biggest, another tasty addition to the salad bowl. Some may be flowering now, tiny white flowers…

Scurvy grass is available all year, so called because its high vitamin c content protected sailors from scurvy (cochlearia officinalois) You’ll find lots of uses for the fleshy leaves and slightly peppery taste. The pretty flowers can be also be scattered over salads. It grows along the seashore and in saline conditions.

Wild Sorrel is also abundant at present, its tiny spear shaped leaves grow out of the grass in fields, ditches and along the cliffs. The leaves of  Bucler leaf sorrel are also small and are shaped like an old  bucler shield. Its tart zingy lemony flavour adds a clean fresh note to salads, sauces and soups. At the launch of the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine Katie Sanderson and Jasper O Connor at the Fumbally Câfé in Dublin paired sorrel with honey carrageen moss pudding, a totally delicious and inspired combination. These two young chefs are worth watching, if you haven’t already been to the Fumbally put in on your Dublin list.

 

Hot Tips

The Midleton Farmers Market will celebrate its 15th anniversary on Saturday May 30th. There are lots of exciting activities planned for the morning – local music, spot prizes, tastings, painting competition and lots more….9.30am-1pm.

A copy of Best Salads Ever has just landed on my desk in time for summer. This paper back of sensational salads by Sonja Bock and Tina Scheftelowitz  has just been translated from Danish – a bestselling title in Denmark where it sold 83,000 copies and growing….published by Grub Street.

I’m a big fan of Fiann Ó Nualláin of ‘Dermot’s Secret Garden’ fame. He’s a lifelong gardener with a background in health, wellness and ethnobotany. I loved his first book, ‘First Aid from the Garden’ and now the sequel ‘The Holistic Gardener’ – beauty treatments from the garden is also a cracker. Fancy a snail facial anyone? Published by Mercier

Sheridans Irish Food Festival is now in its 6th year and this Sunday 24th May is jam packed with local food stalls, workshops, tastings and demos. As well as the famous National Irish Brown Bread competition in the The Brown Bread Tent hosted by RTE’s Ella McSweeney. Check out the website www.sheridans.ie for the details.

 

 

Honey Carrigeen Moss Pudding with Sorrell and Chocolate Soil

 

A delicious way to serve Carrigeen moss pudding, the brain child of Jasper O’ Connor and Katie Sanderson of the Fumbally Café in Dublin. www.thefumbally.ie

 

Serves 6

 

7g (1⁄4oz) cleaned, well-dried carrageen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)

900ml (1 1⁄2 pints/3 3/4 pints) whole milk

1 vanilla pod or 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 organic egg

1-2 tablespoons honey

 

Chocolate Soil

100 g (3½ ozs) caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

75 g (3 ozs) dark chocolate chopped or grated into small chunks

225 g (8 ozs) sorrel, desalked

Freshly squeezed apple juice made from Granny Smith apples

 

To Serve

Softly whipped cream

 

Soak the carrageen in a little bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes. It will swell and increase in size. Strain off the water and put the carrageen into a saucepan with the milk and the vanilla pod, if using. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, covered, for 20 minutes. At that point and not before, separate the egg, put the yolk into a bowl, add the honey and vanilla extract, if using, and whisk together for a few seconds, then pour the milk and carrageen moss through a strainer onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time. By now the carrageen remaining in the strainer will be

swollen and exuding jelly. You need as much of this as possible through the strainer and whisk it into the egg and milk mixture. Test for a set in a saucer as one would with gelatine.

Whisk the egg white stiffly and fold or fluff it in gently; it will rise to make a fluffy top.  Chill and allow to set for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile make the chocolate soil. In a saucepan on a medium to high heat place the sugar and water, give it a stir but try not get any water crystals on the side. The sugar will melt and start to boil and bubble. You want the mixture to reach to 135C. If you don’t have a thermometer the mixture will start to turn a golden brown.

At this stage you want to work fast and pour the chocolate mix into the pot while whisking. It will dry out and turn to soil almost immediately. Magic. Cool on a nonstick baking tray. It keeps for ages.

Next mix 3 parts sorrel juice with 1 part freshly squeezed Granny Smith apple juice or to taste.

To serve pour a little sorrel and apple juice into a glass. Top with carrageen.  Pop a little blob of softly whipped cream on top and sprinkle with chocolate soil.  Serve.

14/5/2015 (CS) (18309) Jasper O Connor from the Fumbally Café

 

 

Foragers Soup

CD

 

Throughout the seasons one can gather wild greens on a walk in the countryside – foraging soon becomes addictive.  Many greens are edible and some are immensely nutritious.  Arm yourself with a good well-illustrated guide and be sure to identify carefully and if in doubt – don’t risk it until you are quite confident.  Don’t overdo the very bitter herbs like dandelion.

 

Serves 6

 

50g (2ozs/1/2 stick) butter

110g (4ozs) diced onion

150g (5 ozs) diced potatoes

250g (9ozs) chopped greens – alexanders, nettles, wild sorrel, a few young dandelions, wild garlic, borage leaves, wild rocket, ground elder, beech leaves, chickweed, watercress

600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) light chicken stock

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

75g (3ozs) chorizo or lardons of streaky bacon

extra virgin olive oil

wild garlic flowers if available

 

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. When the vegetables are almost soft but not coloured add the hot stock and boiling milk.  Bring back to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the greens and boil with the lid off for 2-3 minutes approx. until the greens are just cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Purée the soup in a liquidiser. Taste and correct seasoning.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan.  Add the diced chorizo or lardons of streaky bacon, cook over a medium heat until the fat starts to run and the bacon is crisp.  Drain on kitchen paper.  Sprinkle over the soup as you serve.  Use the chorizo oil to drizzle over the soup also and scatter a few wild garlic flowers over the top if available.

16/05/2013 (SH/DA) (12100)

 

 

Elderflower Champagne

 

This magical recipe transforms perfectly ordinary ingredients into a delicious sparkling drink. The children make it religiously every year and then share the bubbly with their friends.

 

2 heads of elderflowers

560g (11/4lb) sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4.5L (8pints) water

1 lemon

Remove the peel from the lemon with a swivel top peeler.  Pick the elderflowers in full bloom.  Put into a bowl with the lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and cold water.  Leave for 24 hours, then strain into strong screw top bottles.  Lay them on their sides in a cool place.  After 2 weeks it should be sparkling and ready to drink.  Despite the sparkle this drink is non-alcoholic.

 

Top Tip:

The bottles need to be strong and well sealed, otherwise the Elderflower champagne will pop its cork.

 

30/06/05 AF  (7854)

 

 

Lydia’s Lemon Cake with Crystallised Primroses and Angelica

 

110g (4oz) ground almonds

110g (4oz) icing sugar

zest of 1 organic (unwaxed) lemon and juice of  ½ lemon

75g (3oz) plain flour

3 organic egg yolks

125g (41⁄2 oz) butter, melted and       cooled

 

For the Icing

175g (6oz) icing sugar

zest and 11⁄2 tablespoons freshly squeezed juice from 1 organic lemon

 

For the Decoration

Crystallised Primroses

Candied Angelica

18cm (7in) shallow-sided round tin

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ gas mark 4. Grease the tin well with melted butter and dust with a little flour.

Put the ground almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and flour into a bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolks, the cooled melted butter and the lemon juice. Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Spread the cake mixture evenly in the prepared tin, make a little hollow in the centre and tap on the worktop to release any large air bubbles.

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. The cake should still be moist but cooked through. Allow to rest in the tin for 5–6 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl, and mix to a thickish smooth icing with the lemon juice and zest. Spread it gently over the top and sides of the cake using a palette knife dipped in boiling water and dried. Decorate with the crystallised primroses and little diamonds of angelica.

 

01/09/2010 (CS) Forgotten Skills Book (14201)


Crystallized Flowers

 

Guidelines

1.Use fairly strong textured leaves, the smaller the flowers the more attractive they are when crystallized eg. primroses, violets.

2.The castor sugar must be absolutely dry, one could dry it in a low oven for about 2 hour approx.

3.Break up the egg white slightly with a fork. Using a child’s paint brush it very carefully over each petal and into every cervice. Pour the castor sugar over the flower with a teaspoon, arrange the flower carefully on bakewell paper so that it has a good shape. Allow to dry overnight in a warm dry place, e.g. close to an Aga or over a radiator. If properly crystallized these flowers will last for months, even years, provided they are kept dry. We store them in a pottery jar or a tin box.

4.When you are crystallizing flowers remember to do lots of leaves also so one can  make attractive arrangements – e.g. mint,lemon balm, wild strawberry, salad burnet or marguerite daisy leaves etc.

 

Wild Garlic Champ

VCD

 

Serves 4-6

 

A bowl of mashed potatoes flecked with wild garlic and a blob of butter melting in the centre is ‘comfort’ food at its best.

 

1.5kg (3lb) 6-8 unpeeled ‘old’ potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks

50-75g (2-3 oz)  wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped

350ml (10-12fl oz/1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups) milk

50-110g (2-4oz/1/2 – 1 stick) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

Wild garlic flowers

 

Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their jackets.

Put the roughly chopped wild garlic leaves into a saucepan. Cover with cold milk and bring slowly to the boil.  Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat and leave to infuse.  Peel and mash the freshly boiled potatoes and while hot, mix with the boiling milk and wild garlic, beat in the butter.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Serve in 1 large or 6 individual bowls with a knob of butter melting in the centre.  Wild garlic mash may be put aside and reheated later in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.  Cover with tin foil while it reheats so that it doesn’t get a skin. Just before serving put a blob of butter into the centre and sprinkle with wild garlic flowers if available.

 

14/1/2015 (SH) (6002)

 

Bitter Endive, Escarole, Dandelion or Puntarelle Salad with Anchovy Dressing and Pangrattato

 

Serves 8

 

8 handfuls of salad leaves, cut or torn into generous bite sized bits.

Caesar dressing (see recipe)

1 -2 fistfuls of freshly grated Parmesan

Pangrattato (see below) OR

40 croutons, approximately 2cm (3/4 inch) square, cooked in extra virgin olive oil

16 anchovies (Ortiz)

 

Choose a bowl, large enough to hold the salad comfortably, sprinkle with enough dressing to coat the leaves lightly. Add a fistful of finely grated Parmesan. Toss gently and add the warm croutons (if using.) Toss again. Divide between eight cold plates. Top each salad with a couple of anchovies and serve.

If using pangrattato instead of croutons, scatter over each of the salads and serve immediately.

 

Pangrattato

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, peeled

150g (5oz) white breadcrumbs

zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

 

Heat the extra virgin olive in a frying pan; add the garlic cloves and sauté until golden brown. Remove the garlic cloves and keep aside. Add half the breadcrumbs and stir over a medium heat until they turn golden. Spread out on a baking sheet, repeat with the remainder of the breadcrumbs. Grate the garlic cloves over the bread crumbs. Finely grate the lemon zest over the crumbs also. Toss, season with salt and taste.

 

Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 x 2 ozs (50g) tin anchovies

1 clove garlic, crushed

a generous pinch of English mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 tablespoon (1/2 – 1 American tablespoon + 1/2-1 teaspoon) Worcester sauce

1/2-1 tablespoon (1/2 – 1 American tablespoon + 1/2 -1 teaspoon) Tabasco sauce

6 fl ozs (175ml/3/4 cup) sunflower oil

2 fl ozs (50ml/1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil

2 fl ozs (50ml/1/4 cup) cold water

 

I make it in a food processor but it can also be made very quickly by hand. Drain the anchovies and crush lightly with a fork. Put into a bowl with the egg yolks, add the garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together.  As you whisk, add the oils slowly at first, then a little faster as the emulsion forms. Finally whisk in the water to make a spreadable consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning: this dressing should be highly flavoured.

 

19/02/2013 (SH/DA) (14635)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine 2015

May 9th, 2015

Just a week to go to the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 15th-17th May, there’s a mouthful! Could just be the longest title of a food festival anywhere in Ireland. Things are really hotting up here at Litfest HQ.

The action takes place at Ballymaloe House, the Grain Store, The Big Shed and at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry. Again this year, we’ve got an amazing line up of speakers, workshops and events. The Food and Drinks Theatre has expanded and the Fringe Festival in the Big Shed at Ballymaloe is exploding!  I can scarcely keep up with all the exciting developments. Just keep checking out www.litfest.ie. So here’s a taste of what’s to come.

Alice Waters is coming at last.  She had planned to be with us for the inaugural Litfest in 2013 but had to cancel just days before because of a fire at Chez Panisse, her legendery restaurant in Berkeley in California. She’s really excited to be coming to Ballymaloe once again and texted the other day to say she’s counting the days – how sweet is that.

We’ve also managed to entice Christian Puglisi from Relae and Manfreds og Vin in Copenhagen. He’ll share his intriguing story and talk about his new award winning book Relae.

April Bloomfield described as the ‘best woman chef in America’, burst onto the New York food scene with her cooking at The Spotted Pig gastro pub plus John Dory, the Breslin…she’ll be doing a cookery demonstration on Saturday May 16th at 9.30am.

Sarit Packer and Itmar Srulovich of Honey & Co in London are sweethearts, they too are coming over. Their dinner is sold out but they’ll be with us all weekend so you can get your Honey & Co book signed.

Sam and Samantha Clark of Moro and Morita’s dem is also sold out but they are in conversation with Rory O’ Connell in The Grain Store on Sunday May 17th at 2.30pm.

Don’t miss my friend, David Tanis, New York Times food correspondent and chef at Chez Panisse for 25 years. He will read from his book award winning, One Good Dish.

Multi award winning Parisian, author and blogger David Lebovitz  who also came to the New York launch is participating in several sessions.

Lovers of Chinese food won’t want to miss Fushia Dunlop,  described as the best writer in the West on Chinese food, she’ll do a cookery demonstration at the Cookery School on Sunday.

And there’s Allegra McEvedy, Rachel Allen will host her cookery dem at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday May 16th at 10am.

Jack Monroe is a fresh new voice in food you can also bring your child,  FREE to Jack Monroe’s Parents and Children’s interactive cookery dem at 2pm on Saturday.

We’ve also got an amazing line up of Irish chefs. Kevin Thornton, from Thornton’s restaurant in Dublin, JP McMahon from Cava and Anair in Galway and Leylie Hayes and Hugo Arnold….

Several past Ballymaloe Cookery School students as well as Leylie Hayes will strut their stuff, food historian Dorothy Cashman, Green Saffron, Spice King Arun Kapil and Charlotte Pike who will do a Fermentation workshop to coincide with publication of her new book Fermented Food and Drink. Check out cookbook chronicles with Caroline Hennessy. For budding food writers Regina Sexton will host a UCC Food Writing workshop.

………This year for the first time, Cully and Sully have teamed up with  Michael Kelly to create Veg About beside the Big Shed. It’s all about sowing, growing, eating and composting – a celebration of the great food cycle from plot to plate. There will be a Garden Tent where there is Rants, Raves and Ruaille Buaille, Banter with Jim Carroll. Don’t’ miss foraging with legendary Roger Phillips,  Alys Fowler…..

The Litfest fringe in the Big Shed continues to gather momentum. Can you imagine it could be even more happening than last year?

A wide range of local and national artisan food producers, art installations, upcycled furniture by Elemental Design and wonderful artists like Aoife Banville, Yvonne Woods and Sharon Greene.

Camilla Houston will be in the Family Corner, she has organised fantastic interactive, educational and fun activities for children to get involved in.

Sommelier, Colm McCan is the Wine and Drinks Events Manager of the Food and Drink Theatre. Wait, till you see what he has in store natural wines, artisan beer and ciders, spirits and cocktails, you’ll get to see cocktail guru Dave Broom and Nick Strangways, master gin distiller Desmond Payne. One of the top brewmasters Garrett Oliver from America will be here and coffee guru Tim Wendelboe comes all the way from Norway.  He’ll tell you the story of Bean to Cup.

Jancis Robinson MW is back again this year, don’t miss Wines New Wave Lighter and Fresher on Saturday at 2.45 in the Drinks Theatre

 

Aah, I’m running out of space and there’s SO much more check out the website for events though most events are indoors storm the heavens for good weather.

 

Hot Tips

Kirsti O’ Kelly of Silver Darlings, based in Co. Limerick. Kirsti pickles herrings using traditional recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother in her native Finland. Kirsti has won several awards for her beetroot and horseradish and Star of the Sea herring. Catch her every Saturday at the Limerick Milk Market.

www.silverdarlings.ie or 086 066 1132

 

Get Blogging with Lucy Pearce on Saturday May 30th . Join Lucy on a whistle-stop tour of the food blogging world and see what’s hot and what’s not. You will learn the basics of blog design, the secrets behind writing popular posts, how to find and keep readers, where to find technical support and much more. For more info phone the Ballymaloe Cookery School on 021 4646785 or book through the website www.cookingisfun.ie

 

 

Don’t miss Jack Monroe’s Parent and Children Interactive Cookery Demonstration at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Sunday May 17th. Parents are invited to bring along one of the younger members of the household (8-12 years) to attend the demonstration for free and Jack will call on some of the juniors to join her at the demonstration counter for practical cooking fun. See the litfest website (www.litfest.ie) for the details.

 

Moro Lebanese Spring Vegetable Soup

 

Serves 4

 

Crispbread

25 g (1 oz) butter

2 pitta breads

 

1 litre (13/4 pints) chicken stock

150 g (5 oz) podded young broad beans

150 g (5 oz) shelled peas, fresh or frozen

5 green asparagus spears, woody stems snapped off at the base, cut into 2 cm pieces (keep tips intact)

2 raw globe artichokes, trimmed, cut into quarters and very thinly sliced

1 large bunch of fresh mint, flat leaf parsley, coriander, roughly chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

Sea salt and black pepper

 

First make the crisp bread. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°C/gas 4. Melt the butter, and as it is melting, carefully split the pitta in half lengthways and brush the bread on both sides. Place the pitta halves on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool.

 

Heat the chicken stock in a large saucepan and check for seasoning. Bring to a gentle simmer and add the broad beans, peas, asparagus and artichokes. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and add the herbs, spring onion, lemon juice and crisp bread broken into small pieces. Season again and serve hot.

 

22/4/2015 (18287) Taken from Moro The Cookbook

 

 

Honey & Co Prawns in Orange, Tomato and Cardamom

 

Serves 2

 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 orange, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

½ small red chilli, seeds removed and thinly sliced

3 cardamom pods, crushed to reveal the black seeds

12-14 large prawns (about 200 g once peeled)

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3-5 tablespoons water

 

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat until it just starts to smoke. Carefully place the orange slices in the oil and cook for 30 seconds, then turn them over with a fork. Add the tomato, garlic, thyme, chilli and cardamom and cook on a high heat until the tomato slices start to break down a little (about 2 minutes). Add the prawns to the pan and season with sea salt and pepper. Cook them for a minute on each side. Add 3 tablespoons of water and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the prawns have turned pink. If the pan is looking dry, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of water, so that you have enough liquid to form a sauce.

 

Serve immediately with bread to mop up the juices.

 

22/4/2015 (18288)

 

Honey & Co Food from the Middle East by Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich

 

 

Moro Chicken, Tahini Yoghurt and Red Chilli

 

Serves 4

 

Chicken Marinade

½ small onion, finely grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

400 g (14 oz) organic chicken fillets (whole) or breasts sliced into 2 cm thick strips

 

Tahini Yoghurt

3 tablespoons tahini

200 ml (7 fl oz) strained Greek yoghurt

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

 

To Serve

1 tablespoon black onion seeds

1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped

Handful of coriander leaves

1 lemon, cut into quarters

 

Mix the onion, garlic, spices, lemon juice and oil in a bowl, add the chicken, coat well and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

The chicken is best charcoal-grilled on a hot barbecue or seared on a griddle pan over a high heat, or under a grill, turning once until just cooked.

To make the tahini yoghurt: put the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and mix well. If the mixture seems too thick, loosen with a splash of water.

Place the chicken on a plate and spoon the tahini yoghurt over the top. Sprinkle with the black onion seeds, chilli and fresh coriander. Serve with the lemon on the side.

 

22/4/2015 (18289) Taken from Morito by Sam and Sam Clark

 

 

Peach Leaf Crème Brûlée

 

Serves 4 approx.

 

Crème brûlée the original ultimate custard. Here we flavour it with peach leaves, the latter almond flavour is strangely addictive.

Many leaves impart delicious flavours to syrup, sorbets, ice creams and custard. We use the young leaves from the white peach tree on the front wall of the school dining room for this.

 

10g (½ oz) peach leaves

2 large egg yolks, free-range and organic

½ tablespoon sugar

300ml (½ pint) double cream

½ vanilla pod (optional)

 

Caramel Topping:

110g (4ozs) sugar

75ml (3fl ozs) water

125ml (4fl ozs) whipped cream, optional

 

Make at least 12 hours in advance.

Heat the cream to shivery stage, turn off the heat and add the peach leaves and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.  Mix egg yolks with ½ tablespoon of sugar. Pour it slowly onto the yolks, whisking all the time. Return to the saucepan and cook on a medium heat, stirring until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. It must not boil. Remove the vanilla pod, pour into a serving dish and chill overnight. Be careful not to break the skin or the caramel may sink later.

 

Next day make the caramel.

Dissolve the remaining sugar in 75ml (3fl oz) water. Bring to the boil and cook until it caramelises to a chestnut brown colour. Remove from the heat and immediately spoon a thin layer of caramel over the top of the custard. Alternatively sprinkle the top with a layer of white castor sugar or pale demerara sugar, spray with a film of cold water, then caramelise with a blow torch.

Allow to get cold and pipe a line of whipped cream around the edge to seal the joint where the caramel meets the side of the dish. Serve within 12 hours, or the caramel will melt.

To Serve

Crack the top by knocking sharply with the back of the serving spoon. Alternatively sprinkle the top with a thin layer of castor sugar and caramelise with a blow torch.

Note

2 yolks only just set the cream. Be sure to use big eggs and measure your cream slightly short of the 300ml (½ pint). The cream takes some time to thicken and usually does so just under boiling point. It the custard is not properly set, or if the skin which forms on top while cooking is broken, the caramel will sink to the bottom of the dish. If this problem arises, freeze the pudding for 1-2 hours before spooning on the hot caramel.

 

The Violet Bakery

May 5th, 2015

 

Violet D5_03A3122

 

The most anticipated baking book of 2015 has just been published, it’s called The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak, whom Jamie Oliver described as “my favourite cake maker in the world”. This book is really significant for a variety of reasons, it’s written by someone who never set out to be a baker, Claire who is Californian went to university to study film making but she was forever darting in and out of the kitchen between classes and films to bake cakes. She even borrowed an oven on an island in Lake Atitlán in Guatemala to make a pie. A year working as an assistant to a Hollywood director still didn’t satisfy nor did a stint in a fancy San Francisco fashion boutique. Eventually in 2001 she landed a one day internship at Chez Panisse in California which led to her dream job. Under the direction of pastry chef Alan Tangren, Claire learned how to taste and tweak.

Once again life intervened, Claire’s English boyfriend, (now husband) Damien, moved back to London – after three years they could no longer bear to be apart – Alice Waters who once told me that Claire was one of the most talented pastry chefs she ever had, tried hard to dissuade Claire from leaving but then wished her well on her new adventure and reminded her – “you can always come back to Chez Panisse” – they have remained firm friends and Alice wrote the forward to The Violet Bakery Cookbook.

 

In London, Claire “did stages” in many of my favourite restaurants, St John, Moro, River Café, Anchor and Hope…..

Jamie Oliver, whom she’d met through friends in California was also supportive and she did food styling for him and many others including Yotam Ottolenghi for his weekly column in the Guardian.

 

By now Claire was longing to open a bakery. Her first foray into business was selling her favourite cakes and cupcakes at the newly resurrected Broadway Market in Hackney – she used beautiful ingredients. The word spread like wildfire and she couldn’t keep up with the demand, so she and Damien found tiny premises in an unassuming residential street on Wilton Way near London Fields Park in Hackney in East London, they gave it a lick of paint and just planned to use the place as a commercial kitchen but locals kept knocking on the door and asking whether they were planning to open a Violet Bakery, now 5 years later the tiny space is a bustling bakery and super chic café with a cult following. Damien makes the playlists which the customers love almost as much as the cakes.

 

The other reason why this book is interesting is that Claire’s baking does not necessarily look picture perfect but always tastes sublime. Interestingly this coincides with a general loss of faith among the general public in confectionary that looks super-professional but inadvertently ranges from disappointing to dire.

Something that has a homemade quality tends to inspire more confidence, funny how things come full circle in the end.

Claire has also become increasingly interested in alternatives to processed wheat and sugar and dairy free. She’s experimented a lot with wholegrains, unrefined sugar and fruit based  alternatives. The results are wholesome and indulgent. Eating cake involves a certain degree of guilt so it’s really important to Claire that a cake “be worth it” so taste is paramount.

The Violet Bakery Cookbook was published by Square Peg – here’s a taste to whet your appetite.

 

Violet Bakery Cavalo Nero, Leek and Ricotta Bread Pudding

This savoury bread pudding was inspired by one of my favourite pasta sauces.

 

900g (about 1 loaf) stale white sourdough bread, crusts removed and thinly sliced

butter for greasing the tin

For the Braise

2 large leeks

2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Summer savory or rosemary

400g Cavalo Nero or other kale

1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil

½ teaspoon chilli flakes (I use the Turkish ones)

150g Gruyère, grated

100g ricotta cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

For the custard

8 eggs

5 tablespoons double cream

500g double cream

360g whole milk

salt and pepper, to taste

a grate of nutmeg

Butter a 20cm x 30cm baking tin.

First, prepare the leeks. Trim the roots and the tough green stalks and outer layer from the leeks and discard. Cut the leeks in half lengthways and run under cool water to rinse, peeling back the layers to get inside where the grit is lodged. Slice the leeks crossways into 4mm slices and drop into a bowl of cold water for about 10 minutes. All the dirt will fall to the bottom. Scoop the leeks out (rather than pouring them out with the water) and place in a colander to drain. Pat dry.

In a heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium-low heat, heat the oil. Add the leeks, savory or rosemary and salt and pepper to taste, and sauté for about 10-15 minutes until soft but without colour.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add enough salt to make it taste of the sea. Usually I add about 2-3 teaspoonful’s to a large pan of water. Strip the leaves of the kale away from the tough inner core and discard the core. Roughly chop the leaves into 2cm strips and drop into the boiling water for about 3-5 minutes, or until tender. Do this in batches if your pan is not large enough, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the tablespoon of olive oil, the chilli flakes and sautéed leeks. Set aside.

Grate the Gruyere and weigh out the ricotta, then set these aside as well.

In a bowl, whisk together the custard ingredients and then strain through a fine sieve into a jug.

In your prepared baking tin, layer the bread, kale mixture and half the Gruyère, then dot with the ricotta. Pout two-thirds of the custard over the cheese, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let the pudding rest for at least 30 minutes to absorb the custard.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C (fan)/ gas 4. Cover the pudding with the remaining Gruyère and pour the remaining custard over the top.

Bake for 1 hour until golden. Cut into portions and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Violet Bakery Hazelnut Toffee Cake

 

Hazelnuts and toffee are good companions and the dates bring the whole thing together. The golden hue of this fruit cake reminds me of the falling leaves of Autumn and it’s ideal for serving at Christmas. I’ve made the recipe for two small cakes partly because it is rich and also the second makes a lovely gift, wrapped in baking paper sealed with a snazzy sticker or patterned tape. It’s fun to make personalised potato prints to decorate the paper before wrapping it.

Makes two 18cm cakes, serving 12-16

For the Sponge

350g dates, pitted and chopped

150g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped medium fine (like polenta with a few bigger pieces)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

50g caster sugar

50g brown sugar

200g oil

140g plain flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

100g plain yoghurt

butter for greasing the tin

For the Toffee Topping

50g toasted hazelnuts, skins sloughed off

50g water

200g caster sugar

For the Icing

4 tablespoons water

300g icing sugar

 

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C(fan)/gas3. Butter two 18cm cake tins and line with parchment paper.

 

First, prepare the sponge. Combine the dates and the toasted nuts in a bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixture, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and sugars until light and fluffy. Continue to whisk as you slowly drizzle in the oil.

 

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the egg mixture and whisk for a few seconds to combine. Add the yoghurt and whisk to combine then fold in the dates and hazelnuts.

 

Divide the mixture between your prepared tins and bake for about 35-45 minutes, until the cakes are baked through and set, but not dry. The tops of the cakes will not spring back as much as other cakes do because the dates make the mixture moist and dense in the best possible way. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins while you make the topping.

 

Line a baking try with parchment paper and spread your toasted hazelnuts on the tray. Place the tray on your worktop, near the hob. Have your icing ingredients nearby, as they will be needed as soon as the caramel is ready.

 

Put the 50g water in a small, heavy-bottomed pan and sprinkle in the caster sugar. Bring to the boil and just as the sugar starts to caramelise watch it very closely, then as soon as it starts to burn, pour half of the hot caramel over the hazelnuts. Leave to cool and harden and then break into shards.

To make the icing, add the 4 tablespoons of water to the remaining caramel in the pan. Pour the runny caramel from the pan into the icing sugar and whisk to a smooth paste. Add more water or icing sugar until it has the consistency of soft buttercream.

 

TASTE. Does the icing taste too sweet? It might need a splash of brandy or cognac to mellow it out. The cake itself is not too sweet so it can handle a fairly sweet icing, but cutting it with a little booze can work well here.

 

To finish, spread the icing on the cooled cakes and top with the shards of praline.

 

Violet Bakery Rhubarb and Angelica Jam

 

Angelica is a great pairing with tart rhubarb. It can downplay the tartness of the rhubarb without you having to add too much sugar.

Makes 2 large jars

 

500g rhubarb

375g granulated sugar

2 small angelica stalks

juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Chartreuse (optional)

 

Slice the rhubarb into small pieces. Put them in a heavy bottomed saucepan with half the sugar and leave to macerate for 1 hour.

 

Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan except the Chartreuse (don’t forget the remaining sugar). Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Once it has dissolved, stop stirring and boil rapidly for 15 minutes. Add the Chartreuse and boil for a further 5 minutes.

 

The jam is ready when most of the rhubarb is nearly translucent and the consistency has thickened.

 

At this point you spoon the jam, including the angelica stalks, into warm sterilised jars and seal, or simply put the jam into a suitable container (with a tight-fitting lid) and keep in the fridge for daily use for up to a month.

 

Hot tips

Discover Irish Farmhouse Cheese

Farmhouse Cheeses are some of the most bespoke, hand-made foods in the entire world! Buy a farmhouse cheese and you get the rarest of things – each cheese has a narrative, each one is telling the story of the cheese maker and of the farm where it was made. The cheeses speak quietly about the good things, about pure food, about fine milk, and content animals, about sharing and hospitality, and the creativity of a determined individual on a small farm, stamping every cheese with the signature of their personality. If you like to meet the cheesemakers and see the process check out www.discoverfarmhousecheese.ie. There are open days coming up at

7th May 2015 : Bellingham Blue in Castlebellingham Co. Louth.

16th May 2015: Killeen Cheese near Portumna in Co. Louth.

26th May 2015, 29th June: St. Tola Organic Goat Cheese, near Ennistymon, Co. Clare.

13th May 2015: Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese, near Moyne, Co. Tipperary.

15th May 2015: Cashel Blue near Fethard, Co. Tipperary.

15th May 2015: Coolea Cheese, Coolea Co. Cork.

Bring your kids along too, to reconnect them with how beautiful food is produced.

 

Smoked Butter: have you discovered Mr Hederman’s smoked butter yet? It’s not widely available but you’ll find it at his stall at the Midleton Farmer’s Market alongside his warm and cold smoked fish, fishcakes and addictive smoked mussels. www.frankhederman.com.

Midleton Farmer’s Market will soon be celebrating 15 years, watch this space for events, www.midletonfarmersmarket.com.

 

The Happy Pear Café in Greystones is owned by a happy pair of twins called David and Stephen Flynn. After ten years their fans range from young parents to pensioners, ladies-who-lunch to teens-on-the-run, Electric Picnickers to Hollywood stars.

They’ve always wowed their clientele on great vegetarian food and now they’ve shared their secrets in “The Happy Pear” Cookbook published by Penguin. Fresh and gorgeous tasting food, bursting with goodness,  www.thehappypear.ie.

 

 

Eggs

April 25th, 2015

Have you heard about the latest ‘U turn’ in nutritional science? America, the land of the ‘egg white omelette’, is in quite the tizzy about it all. Just a few weeks ago the US Government’s Dietary Advisory Committee changed the long standing official dietary advice to limit the number of eggs per person to a couple a week. Instead they are recommending people to drastically restrict their sugar intake from an average of between 22-30 teaspoons a day in the US. How shocking is that?  Here in Ireland we are not quite as bad at a “mere” 15-16 teaspoons per day but we are getting there fast with many children starting their day with a bowl of sugary cereal and a ‘fruit’ yoghurt or smoothie,  which can contain up to 7 teaspoons of sugar.

Back to eggs, time for us egg lovers to celebrate eggs.

Mankind has been eating eggs, the original fast food since time began. When you think of it they are a wonder food, a neat package of nutrients and goodness. Recent research has found that they contain even more vitamins and minerals and less calories than originally thought.

Around 1,000 years ago the Indians and Chinese started to domesticate chickens and then the Egyptians worked out how to incubate the eggs so the hens could get on with the business of laying.

If eggs were so bad for us, it’s just possible it would have been  evident before the 1960s when some scientists began to connect eggs to heart disease – I thought of my Granpoppy who ate a couple of eggs every day of his life and lived to a ripe old age. But those were beautiful fresh eggs from the flock of hens pecking around the haggard and farmyard and an altogether different thing from the mass produced eggs layed by hens confined in “enriched” cages.

For decades many people went to ‘work on an egg’. Then in the 1980’s there was the panic about salmonella in eggs – a natural consequence of overcrowding and intensive production.

So how do you feel about eggs? Are you also concerned that they will increase your HDL cholesterol, well fear not the thinking has changed. But remember, an egg laid by a happy lazy hen is an altogether different thing to a mass produced egg to which an increasing number of people are allergic.

Why not join the new generation of hen keepers so you can enjoy the pleasure of having a regular supply of proper free range organic eggs. A chicken coop on your lawn with four hens will recycle food scraps, provide enough eggs for a regular household and provide chicken manure for your compost heap.

For us cooks, it’s difficult to imagine life without eggs … they are one of the few foods considered to be a complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids, the perfect package of nutrients and goodness and are super versatile in the kitchen.

Like cattle, hens need access to grass to produce real nourishment and flavour.

Organic hens must be allowed to range freely but free range does not mean organic and can be a very “elastic” term.

Eggs are incredibly good value, two or three for supper makes an inexpensive and nourishing meal.

 

 

Boiled Eggs with Soldiers and Asparagus

Those of us who are fortunate enough to have some space to keep a few free range hens are blessed indeed. The eggs laid by my happy, lazy hens are completely perfect – white curdy albumen and rich yellow yolks. When you have access to eggs of this quality, treat yourself to a boiled egg – absolute perfection but sadly a forgotten flavour for so many people. Little fingers of toast called dippies or soldiers are the usual accessory but during the asparagus season in May a few spears of fresh green asparagus make a deliciously decadent dip.

Serves 2

6-8 spears of fresh Irish asparagus

2 fresh free range eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

a few pats of butter

1 slice of fresh white pan loaf

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

Meanwhile toast the bread, cut off the crusts and spread with butter. Cut into fingers. Immediately the eggs are cooked, pop them into egg cups on large side plates. Put the cooked asparagus (see below) and soldiers on the side and serve with a pepper mill, sea salt and a few pats of butter.

Bend the stalks of asparagus, over your index finger. It will snap where it begins to get tough (keep the ends for soup). Cook in boiling salted water for 5-8 minutes (depending on size) or until a knife will pierce the root end easily. Drain and keep hot.

 

 

Menemen

Menemen

Turkish Scrambled Eggs

A favourite breakfast dish, there are lots of versions, some just crack the eggs onto the top, cover and allow to set but I love this version.

 

Serves 4

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

110g (4 oz) onion, peeled and chopped

175g (6oz) long red or green peppers, seeded and roughly chopped

4-5 ripe tomatoes, (or 20 cherry tomatoes), roughly chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper, maybe a pinch of sugar.

 

6 free range eggs

75g (3oz) Feta (we use Toonsbridge Dairy Buffalo Greek Style cheese)

2 tablespoons fresh coriander or flat parsley

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

We used a deepish pan with a 7 inch base and a 9 inch top.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add the onion, peppers and chilli if using. Cover with a paper lid and sweat until soft but not coloured, about 5-6 minutes.

 

Add the tomatoes, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and a little sugar. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes.

Lightly whisk the eggs, gently season and stir into the base, continue to cook until softly set.

Stir gently once or twice then crumble the feta on top. Cover with a lid and continue to cook on the lowest heat for 15-20 minutes until just set.

Scatter with roughly chopped flat parsley, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few chilli flakes if you wish.

Serve immediately with lots of crusty bread.

 

 

Seakale on Toast with Prawns and Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4-6

 

600ml (1 pint) water

½ teaspoon salt

450g (1lb) seakale

30g (1oz) butter

18 prawns, cooked and peeled

6 slices of toast, buttered

Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)

 

Garnish

a small bunch of chervil

 

Wash the seakale gently and trim into manageable lengths – about 10cm (4inches).  Bring the water to a fast boil and add the salt.  Add the seakale, cover and boil until tender – about 15 minutes.  Just as soon as a knife will pierce the seakale easily, drain it.

 

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan on a gentle heat and toss in the prawns to warm through.

 

Serve the seakale with the prawns on hot buttered toast, and drizzle generously with Hollandaise Sauce.  Pop a little bunch of chervil on top of each toast and serve immediately.

 

Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4-6, depending on what it is to be served with

Hollandaise is the mother of all the warm emulsion sauces.  The version we use here is easy to make and quite delicious with fish.  Like Mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a feast.  Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 70-80°C/180°F or the sauce will curdle.  A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale, otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water.  Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need.  If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potato.

 

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic

125g (5ozs) butter cut into dice

1 dessertspoon cold water

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, approx.

 

Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water.  Add water and whisk thoroughly.  Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time.  As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece.  The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary.  Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made.  Finally add the lemon juice to taste.  If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low.  Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

 

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage.  If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce.

 

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

 

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water (do not have gas jet on).  A thermos flask is also a good option.

 

Hot Cross Bun Bread and Butter Pudding

 

A great way to use up left over Hot Cross as of course this recipe can be adapted for barmbrack.

 

Serves 6-8

 

6 Hot-Cross buns

50g (2oz) butter, preferably unsalted

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon or mixed spice

110g (4oz) plump raisins or sultanas

450ml (16fl oz) cream

225ml (8fl oz) milk

4 large organic eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

110g (4oz) suga

pinch of salt

 

1 x 20.5cm (8 inch) square pottery or china dish

 

Split the hot cross buns, butter each side and cut into slices. Arrange the slices, buttered side down, in one layer in the buttered dish. Sprinkle the buns with half the spice and half the raisins, then arrange another layer over the raisins. Sprinkle the remaining nutmeg and raisins on top. Cover the raisins with the remaining hot cross buns.

In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar and the pinch of salt. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve over the bread. Let the mixture stand, loosely covered, at room temperature for at least 1 hour or chill overnight.

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

Place the pudding in a bain-marie and pour in enough water to come half way up the sides of the baking dish. Bake the pudding in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve warm with some softly whipped cream.

Note: This pudding reheats perfectly.

 

Fresh Lemon Ice Cream with Crystallized Lemon Peel

 

This is a fresh tangy light ice cream, is made from milk rather than cream. Easy peasy to make and a delight to eat at the end of any meal winter or summer.

Serves 4

 

1 free range egg

250ml (9fl oz) milk

130g (5oz) castor sugar

zest and juice of 1 good lemon

 

Garnish

Crystallized lemon peel (see recipe)

Fresh Mint leaves and Borage flowers

 

Separate the egg, whisk the yolk with the milk and keep the white aside. Gradually mix in the sugar. Carefully grate the zest from the lemon on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add with the zest to the liquid. Whisk the egg white until quite stiff and fold into the other ingredients. Freeze in a sorbetiere according to the manufacturer’s instructions or put in a freezer in a covered plastic container.

 

When the mixture starts to freeze, remove from the freezer and whisk again, or break up in a food processor. Then put it back in the freezer until it is frozen completely. Meanwhile, chill the serving plates.

 

To Serve

Scoop the ice cream into the curls, arrange on chilled plates or in pretty frosted glass dishes. Decorate with crystallized lemon peel, borage flowers and fresh mint leaves if you have them.

 

Variations

Instead of the lemon juice and zest, use 3 tablespoons of elderflower syrup and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.

 

Proportions will depend on how sweet the flower syrup is.

Just follow recipe as for lemon ice cream (milk, egg and sugar)

 

For decoration

Deep fry “bunch” of elder flower very quickly.

Crystallized Lemon Peel

We always have lots of crystallized lemon, orange and lime peel in a jar to decorate tarts, scatter on mousses or just to nibble.

 

2 lemons

16fl oz/450 ml/generous 2 cups cold water

 

Sugar syrup (see recipe)

 

Peel 2 lemons very thinly with a swivel top peeler, be careful not to include the white pith.  Cut the strips into fine julienne.  Put into a saucepan with the cold water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, cover with fresh water and repeat the process

 

Put the julienne into a saucepan with the syrup and cook gently until the lemon julienne looks translucent or opaque.  Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on bakewell paper or a cake rack.  When cold toss in castor sugar and allow to dry in a cool airy place.

 

Can be stored in a jar or airtight tin for weeks or sometimes months.

 

Hot Tips:

The Burren Slow Food Festival is coming up and will be launched at the Ballyvaughan Farmer’s Market on 16th May. This year’s theme is Land & Sea. The festival will be extend to a full week of stand-alone events organised by the Burren Food Trail, food producers, chefs and restaurants. Michelin-starred chef Derry Clarke from L’Ecrivain will be making a much anticipated appearance at the festival, sharing his expertise in demos and talks. See www.slowfoodireland.com/event.

Asparagus: the first new season’s Irish asparagus has just started to appear in the Farmer’s Markets. I bought my first precious bunch of the season from West Cork asparagus grower Tim York, 086 8593996, at the Schull Farmer’s Market on Easter weekend in the midst of the 15 year celebrations. Congratulations to all involved in this colourful vibrant market, every Sunday from 9.30am to 1pm www.schullmarket.com

 

 

The Lettercollum Cookbook

April 18th, 2015

I’ve got a whole stack of cookbooks on my desk to review, some since before Christmas when almost every post brought another title – so many it wasn’t possible to reach them all.

There were several that I was particularly taken with, one was the Lettercollum Cookbook. Author Karen Austin’s story is a particularly intriguing one; she was on her way to Australia, one Christmas when she met Con McLoughlin who brought her to West Cork. She’s not the first and certainly won’t be the last to be totally seduced by the landscape and the people – and the sun shone for the entire week. She and Con got together with a few friends to buy a dilapidated Victorian house with 12 acres of land in 1983. They planned to lead the ‘good life’, get away from pollution and traffic jams and try their hand at sustainable living – on her own admission, they had lots of grand plans and no experience, quite a combo.

Years of hard work and lots of fun ensued but it didn’t pay the bills so they decided to open a hostel at Lettercollum House, word quickly spread of the delicious organic food made from fresh vegetables and fruit from their garden. After a couple of years they upgraded to a guesthouse but big houses are like sponges they soak up money – there’s almost always something that requires urgent attention and then one has to start all over again. What to do?

In July 2004 they launched the Lettercollum Kitchen Project in the town of Clonakilty, which has become an institution – they cook their beautiful produce in the kitchen behind the shop. They satisfy their yearning to travel by taking groups to France and Spain to cook. The Lettercollum Cookbook is a collection of the beautifully simple recipes that Karen has developed over the years.

Karen has travelled from Bali to Cadaqués, Tripoli to Timoleague and brought inspiration for new flavours and ingredients back to West Cork. Her recipes are a blend of Irish cooking with a sprinkling of the exotic.

Fodors have named her “master of the vegetarian and ethnic repertory”. There’s a little fish in there too and a hint of chorizo. The book was published by Onstream and many of the beautiful photographs are by Arna Rún Rúnarsdóttir.

 

Fish in Pakora Batter with Spicy Wedges

Serves 4

4 x 150g fresh white fish

4 heaped tbsp gram flour

(or plain white flour)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1-2 red chillies,  finely chopped

1 dssp crushed coriander seeds

or 1 tsp garam masala

Small bottle or can chilled beer

Vegetable/sunflower/rapeseed oil for frying

 

Spicy Potato Wedges

16-20 baby potatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

1tsp paprika

½ tsp chilli flakes

Salt

 

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) Gas Mark 4.

First, make the spicy potato wedges. Wash the potatoes and cut into quarters – no need to peel. Put into a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the paprika and chilli flakes and toss again. Season with a little salt.

Tip onto an oven tray, keeping in a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, then give the tray a shake and bake for a further 15 minutes or until lightly crisp.

 

Cut the fish into 2cm pieces.

Sieve the gram flour into a bowl together with the salt and baking powder, chilli and spice. Regular flour may be used, but gram gives and interesting batter and means the recipe can be gluten-free.

Slowly whisk in some beer until you get a thick pouring batter. The batter should fall off the spoon in a thick stream. If it falls off in lumps, thin it with a little more beer. If it’s too runny, just sieve in a little more flour.

Carefully heat the oil in a wok, deep-fat fryer or saucepan. Test it’s hot enough by dropping a cube of bread, piece of onion or other vegetable into the oil. When it comes back quickly to the surface it’s ready.

Season the fish with a little salt and drop into the batter, mixing around to cover the fish completely. Carefully lower each piece into the hot oil, cooking no more than 5 or 6 pieces at a time, otherwise the oil temperature will fluctuate too much and the batter will cook unevenly. Turn the pieces after a minute or two, and when nicely browned remove and drain on kitchen paper.

Eat immediately with a serving of spicy wedges.

 

Suquet de Peix (Catalan Fish Stew)

Serves 4

 

2 onions

2 red peppers

4 cloves garlic

6 waxy potatoes

4 large tomatoes or 1 x 400g tin tomatoes

1/3 glass brandy or 1 glass white wine

750ml fish stock

500g mussels or clams

600g monkfish or 800g hake on the bone

olive oil

salt and pepper

 

Picada

1 slice white bread

30 almonds

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

olive oil

salt

small bunch parsley

 

For the picada, remove the crusts from the bread and cut into 1cm cubes. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the bread until golden. Put the almonds into a bowl and cover with boiling water for a few minutes, then refresh with cold water. The skins of the almonds should now slip off. Put the fried bread, almonds and garlic into a food processor and buzz to a fine crumb (or mash together with a mortar and pestle). Slowly pour in enough olive oil to make a loose paste. Season with a little salt. Chop the parsley and stir in.

Peel and chop the onions. De-seed and chop the peppers into about 2cm dice. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and cut the potatoes into 3cm chunks.

In a large pot cook the onions and peppers in a little olive oil until soft. Add the chopped garlic and cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Chop or grate the tomatoes on the coarse side of a grater, and add to the pot. Cook gently until the tomatoes break down.

Add the brandy or wine, followed by the fish stock. Continue cooking until the potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to one side.

Clean the mussels and remove the beards. Discard any that are damaged or open. Skin the monkfish and cut into medallions about 1cm thick or cut the hake into four steaks – ideally your fishmonger will do this for you.

Put the stew back on the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the picada. Add the monkfish and then scatter over the mussels. (If you are using hake, cook for a couple of minutes before adding the mussels.) When the stew returns to the boil, turn it down. As soon as the mussels open, remove from the heat. Adjust the seasoning and serve with the remaining picada in a bowl on the side.

 

 

Falafel Burgers with Tahini and Lemon Sauce

Serves 4-6

 

200g dried chickpeas

1 x 400g can chickpeas,

1 large onion

3-4 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp ground cumin

large handful coriander, chopped

large handful parsley, chopped

2-3 tbsp gram or plain flour

olive oil

 

Tahini and Lemon Sauce

3 tbsp light tahini

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

juice 1 lemon

water

salt

 

Serves 4-6

 

For the tahini sauce, put the tahini, garlic and lemon juice into a small bowl and mix together. It will become very thick. Thin with enough water to make a thick pouring sauce. Season to taste with a little salt.

Soak the dried chickpeas in cold water overnight. The next day, drain them and put them, uncooked, into a food processor and blitz until finely ground.

Drain the can of chickpeas and rinse them under the tap.

Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.

Heat a small frying pan, add a little olive oil and fry the onions for 2-3 minutes then stir in the chopped garlic and fry for 1 minute longer.

Tip the onions and garlic into the ground chickpeas in the food processor together with the canned chickpeas, salt, ground cumin and chopped herbs.

Blitz everything until fairly smooth. Tip into a bowl and sieve in 2 tbsp of the gram flour and mix well. We use gram flour as it is gluten-free, but any flour will work.

Heat a large frying pan and pour in enough oil to cover the bottom. Wet your hands and form the mix into small burgers – not too thick – and slip them into the pan. If the mix is too wet to stay together, add a little more gram flour and try again. Flip them over and fry on the other side.

We serve these at home in toasted pitta bread with shredded lettuce and tomato at the bottom, a burger or two on top, drizzled with the tahini sauce.

 

 

Kale, Gorgonzola and Pumpkin Tart

500g pumpkin or butternut squash

500g kale

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

1-2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

150g Gorgonzola, Crozier or Cashel Blue cheese

4 large eggs

200ml cream

200ml milk

Olive oil

salt and black pepper

1 pre-baked 26-28cm tart shell

 

Serves 4-6

 

Pre-heat the oven to180c (350F), Gas Mark 4.

Peel the pumpkin or squash and chop into 3cm pieces. Toss in a little olive oil with some salt and black pepper. Tip into a roasting tray and bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender but not charred.

Wash the kale and strip out the tough stems by pulling the leaf up from the stem – it will come away easily. Chop the leaf into ribbons.

Heat a frying pan, add enough olive oil to just cover the bottom and add the chilli flakes, garlic and fennel seeds.

Cook gently for a couple of minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic, then add the chopped kale. Stir everything together and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until the kale has wilted and softened.

Put the cooled, roasted pumpkin pieces into the tart shell and tuck in the kale around it. Crumble the cheese on top.

Crack the eggs into a bowl, then whisk in the cream and milk. Season with 1 level tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Pour the mix over the vegetables in the tart shell. Fill as much as you can without it coming over the edge.

It’s important that the mix doesn’t spill because it will make the pastry soggy.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is golden and set.

 

 

HOT TIPS

 

The Food Festival Season has started in earnest, The Taste the Wild Atlantic Way Street Food Festival and All Ireland Chowder Cook Off takes place in Kinsale today. The Dublin Bay Prawn Festival on 24-26 April is not to be missed ether. Don’t forget to check out www.litfest.ie for the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of  Food and Wine on May 15th to 18th. We just got word that Joanna Blythman, author of “Swallow This” is coming and will speak on her new book with John McKenna and she will also join the panel discussion  “How We Feed The Most Vulnerable” with Patrick Holden, Christian Puglisi, Rebecca Sullivan and Michael Kelly on Sunday 17 May at 11.30am

 

The Happy Pear Café in Greystones is owned by a happy pair of twins called David and Stephen Flynn. After ten years their fans range from young parents to pensioners, ladies-who-lunch to teens-on-the-run, Electric Picnickers to Hollywood stars.

They’ve always wowed their clientele on great vegetarian food and now they’ve shared their secrets in “The Happy Pear” Cookbook published by Penguin. Fresh and gorgeous tasting food, bursting with goodness.

 

At Ballymaloe Cookery School our short course season is in full swing. Coming up, Everyday Day Kitchens with Rachel Allen 27-29 April and Small Plate Ideas 24 April. Yummy comforting food to enjoy with your family every day or a selection of small plates to nibble and relish with a glass of wine. See www.cookingisfun.ie