Darina's Saturday Letter

Ballymaloe Cookery School

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Fermentation

It’s unbelievable how quickly fermentation and pickling have become mainstream. At a dinner recently I was sitting beside a teacher from a local school who was waxing lyrical about his jars of sauerkraut and kimchi and the health benefits. Readers will know I’m not a fan of sell by dates and best before dates for a variety of reasons not least the fact that they have inadvertently served to disempower us, as more and more shoppers have come to rely on them rather than their common sense to judge whether food is safe to eat. My advice used to be, examine it, smell it, taste it but you can hear it – throw it out – no longer the case now as our bottles and jars of fermented food bubble away in the pantry and Bubble Shed.
A few weekends ago our fermenting team including my daughter in law Penny Allen, our dairy queen Maria Walsh and some friends drove all the way to Rossinver in lovely Co Leitrim to attend a fermentation course. They are all fermenting nerds with quite a bit of practical experience under their belts but they returned on a bubble of excitement having spent the weekend at a brilliantly run and deeply informative event, a ‘Weekend of Fermentation Madness’. A Fermentation Dinner at Sweet Beat in Sligo kicked off the event organised by Gaby and Hans Wieland from the Organic Centre.
There is unusual agreement that our modern diet is causing many challenges not least the gut problems that so many people are troubled with these days, partly as a result of eating a cocktail of highly processed foods. Ted Dinan, Professor of Psychiatry and a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork, has done very interesting research on the connection between the gut biome and our mental health.
More recently, Dan Saladino of the BBC 4 Food Programme did two segments on the indigenous Hadza tribe who live in remotest Tanzania. They are virtually the last remaining hunter-gatherers on earth. They live on seasonal berries, roots, wild honey and the occasional feast of roast porcupine. Interestingly their gut biome on average is 40% richer than any of the rest of us. They grow no food, raise no livestock and live without calendars or rules. Their rich store of gut bacteria is of huge interest to the world of science and medicine. We can’t easily achieve that complexity on modern diets but we certainly can enhance our gut flora by changing our diet to predominately fresh naturally produced real food and include some fermented foods on a regular basis.
Sauerkraut is super easy to make as is this quick kimchi recipe given to me by David Tanis. There are several books to start you on your journey and watch out, you can get properly hooked on the ‘bubble thing’. Look out for Fermented by Charlotte Pike and more recently Ferment, Pickle, Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley which teaches you how to preserve foods using ancient methods of fermenting, pickling, drying and recipes to enjoy them in.

Quick Scallion Kimchee

Makes 2 cups

Although the classic long-fermented cabbage-based kimchee is fairly easy to make, it does take time. This version with scallions is ridiculously simple and ready in a day or two. I learned how to make it from my friend Russell, a Los Angeles–born cook whose Korean mother made it throughout his childhood. Russell serves it to accompany perfectly steamed rice and simple grilled fish, a lovely combination. I like it chopped and stirred into a bowl of brothy ramen-style noodles, or tucked into a ham sandwich.

4 bunches scallions
2 teaspoons salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) raw sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) toasted sesame oil
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) toasted sesame seeds
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) fish sauce
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) rice vinegar

Trim the scallions and cut into 7.5cm (3 inch) lengths. Put them in a glass or ceramic bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Mix together the garlic, sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, sesame seeds, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Add to the scallions and toss well to coat.

Lay a plate over the bowl and leave in a warm place (at least 21°C/70°F) for 24 hours. Or, for a stronger-tasting kimchee, let ripen for up to 72 hours. It will keep for a month, refrigerated.

“Excerpted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books).
Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.”

Penny’s (Sauerkraut) Kraut-Chi

At its basic sauerkraut is chopped or shredded cabbage that is salted and fermented in its own juice. It has existed in one form or another for thousands of years and sailors have carried it on ships to ward off scurvy because of its high Vitamin C content. The basic recipe for sauerkraut is 2 tsp of Maldon sea salt to 450g (1lb) of cabbage. Any other vegetables in season can be added once they are finely sliced or chopped. Avoid potatoes as they can become toxic when fermented. Weigh the vegetables after slicing and calculate the amount of salt needed. Below is a recipe we enjoy.

Makes 1 litre/900g (2lbs) approximately

500g (18oz) organic cabbage – red, green or a mixture, finely sliced
150g (5oz) onion, finely sliced
2 green peppers, finely sliced
150g (5oz) carrots, grated on a coarse grater
1 chilli, finely chopped
4 teaspoons Maldon (or similar) Seasalt

1 x 1.5 litre (2 1/2 pints) Kilner jar or crock

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pack into a large jar or crock. Pack a little at a time and press down hard using your fists, this packs the kraut tight and helps force water out of the vegetables.

Cover the kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the jar or crock. Place a clean weight on top (a jug or container filled with water works well). This weight is to force water out of the vegetables and keep them submerged under the brine. Cover the top with muslin or a light cloth to keep out flies and dust. Press down on the weight ever few hours to help extract more liquid from the vegetables. The liquid should rise above the vegetables. If the liquid doesn’t rise above the plate level by next day, add some salt water (a basic brine is 2 teaspoons of salt mixed in 600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups of water) to bring the level above the plate.

Place in a cool area and allow to ferment for 4-5 days. At this stage the kraut is ready to eat. As you eat the kraut make sure the remainder is well covered in brine by pushing the vegetables under the brine and sealing well. It will keep for months, the flavour develops and matures over time.

Charlotte Pike’s Homemade Coconut Milk Yoghurt

Makes 400 ml (approx.)

1 x 400 ml tin of full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons agar agar flakes

Digital Thermometer

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and warm over a very low heat until it reaches exactly 46˚C. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the agar agar flakes over the surface and whisk in thoroughly. Continue to whisk over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until the agar agar flakes are dissolved. Set aside to cool.

After 30 minutes, whisk again vigorously to bring the yoghurt to a smooth, even texture, as lumps can form as it cools. An electric hand whisk or food processor is ideal to use here. Pour the mixture into a clean earthen ware or glass bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

Once the yoghurt has set, spoon it into clean glass, plastic to ceramic jar, put on the lid or cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge. Consume within 5 days.
Taken from Fermented by Charlotte Pike

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Whey Fermented Muesli

Prep Time 10 minutes
Ready 8-10 hours
Makes approx. 300 g (10½ oz)

3 tablespoons oats (rolled or porridge)
3 tablespoons millet flakes
3 tablespoons spelt flakes (rolled)
3 tablespoons quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons hazelnuts (whole or chopped into large chunks)
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon cranberries
1 tablespoon sultanas (golden raisins)
1 tablespoon flaked almonds
150 ml (5 fl oz/2/3 cup) whey

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl or a large 700 ml/24 fl oz jar. Add the whey, then cover the bowl or jar with kitchen paper, a lid or a plate.

Leave to soak for 8-10 hours or ideally overnight in the fridge. This muesli will keep for up to 24 hours.
Note: other ingredients can be added including roasted buckwheat or rye flakes, walnuts, sunflower seeds and raisins.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Baby Courgette Kimchi

Prep 20 minutes
Ready 3-4 days
Makes approx. 500 ml/18 fl oz jar

8-9 baby courgettes
60 g (2¼ oz/¼ cup) coarse sea salt

Paste
1½ bunches of spring onions or 1 leek, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cm (½ inch) piece of ginger, skin scraped off and grated (1 teaspoon)
7 tablespoons Korean chilli flakes or dried chilli flakes
1 -2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut the courgettes lengthways 3-4 times, but don’t cut them all the way through. Rub the salt into the cuts.

Place the courgettes in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover. Leave to soak for 1 hour, and then rinse them well.

Place all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl and mix with a fork.

Work the paste into the cuts in the courgettes, and then pack the courgettes upright in a large sterilised jar and seal with a lid.

Leave to stand at room temperature overnight, then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for 2-3 days before eating. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Water Kefir

With Water Kefir you can turn sugared water into one of the most vibrant, probiotic-rich drinks you can make at home!

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) water kefir grains
2-3 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 4 American tablespoons) organic raw cane sugar
4 unsulphered dried apricots or other dried fruit.
Approximately 1 litre (1 3/4 pints/scant 4 cups) of water – must be free of chemicals
Slice of unwaxed lemon

It is important not to use any metal utensils or brewing vessels while making Water Kefir.

Stir the sugar into approximately 250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) of hot water until it dissolves, then add remainder of cold water and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Place the water kefir grains into a 1 litre jar, pour in the cooled sugar water, and drop in the dried fruit.

Cover the jar loosely with a lid, or with a cloth secured with a rubber band to allow air in but to prevent stray debris from spoiling your water kefir. Allow the water kefir to ferment for 2 to 3 days. The longer it ferments, the drier and less sweet it will become.

When the water kefir acquires a flavor that suits you, strain it using a plastic strainer into a jug. Discard the dried fruit (or eat it) but reserve the water kefir grains which can be immediately reused or stored.

While the water kefir can be enjoyed as it is, after its initial fermentation, you can also ferment it a second time. Secondary fermentation allows you to flavor the water kefir, and the secondary fermentation process, which occurs in a tightly capped bottle allows carbon dioxide to develop, producing a fizzy water kefir.

Transfer the bottles of water kefir to the fridge to slow down fermentation and enjoy

Second Fermentation
After transferring you water kefir into a bottle add a handful of one of the following to your taste.

• fresh or frozen raspberries
• fresh or frozen strawberries
• several crushed mint leaves and juice of 1 lemon
• 10-12 dandelion flowers in full bloom
• 6-8 elderflowers or a large handful of elderberries

Leave to ferment for another 12 – 24 hours with a lid on. It’s a good idea to release pressure every so often particularly if your kitchen is warm as secondary ferments have been known to explode! Keep tasting to understand when your ferment is ready to your liking.

Caring for your Kefir Grains
Water Kefir grains are alive being a Scoby (Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts) and therefore require looking after to ensure they produce the best kefir for you.

Occasionally it is beneficial to give your grains a mineral feed.

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Fermented Hummus

Prep Time 15 minutes
Ready 10 hours
Makes 250 ml/9 fl oz jar approx.

250 g (9 oz/1½ cups) chickpeas, cooked
1 small garlic clove, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
60 ml (2¼ fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
150 ml (5 fl oz/2/3 cup) whey or water kefir

Blend all the ingredients, except the whey or kefir, in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Add the whey or kefir and mix well.

Cover and leave at room temperature for about 10 hours, then transfer to an airtight container and chill in the fridge.

Use within 3 days.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Hot Tips

We love West Cork Food. Walking Clonakilty Food Tour takes place every Friday from June – August, rain or shine, taking in some of the most iconic of local food producers in Clonakilty. The tour weaves a tale of history and tradition alongside innovation and community where good food is at the heart of the charming town. A chance to meet the producers in person, hear about their own personal food journey and taste their beautiful food. Cost is €45 per person. Book online www.flavour.ie
Yet another food festival – there are now so many it can be difficult to choose. The Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival, 4th, 5th and 6th August 2017 (August Bank Holiday Weekend). The Food and Craft element of the Festival takes place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August 2017.

Artisan Food, Craft & Beer Markets, Free Live Music, Family Fun and so much more. http://www.enniscorthytourism.com

Padella in London

At present, London is certainly one of the most exciting food towns on the planet. Last time I was over, even with so much choice I happily queued for lunch outside a restaurant called Padella on the edge of Borough Market. They don’t take bookings, yet people are prepared to stand in line each day and have done so for several years because the food is so, so good, simple and delicious. The queue moves pretty quickly and there’s a jolly camaraderie between the expectant diners. The food was absolutely worth the wait, no twiddles or foams or skid marks across the plate, just gorgeous simple Italian food made from exquisite ingredients.
This restaurant is owned by Tim Siadatan and is a sister restaurant of the slighter posher Trullo on Paul’s Road in Highbury East.
The young people who cook in these restaurants are super passionate about seasonality, quality products and provenance and they are not just talking the talk, they absolutely walk the walk.
It’s the kind of food I love to eat, so can you imagine how delighted I was to discover that Tim Siadatan has just published a cook book, simply called Trullo. I’m certainly not the only person who’s excited about this book. Jamie Oliver, Fergus and Margot Henderson of St John and Canteen, Sam Clarke of Moro, Anna Jones and Nigel Slater have all added their names and quotes to the back cover and that’s not a given, I can tell you……
Tim Siadatan influences are obvious in the food he serves proudly and enthusiastically. He spent time honing his skills in many of the kitchens of the above mentioned chefs plus at the River Café. All these places have the same ethos. They fully understand the importance of cooking according to the seasons, being sustainable, and really understanding where the produce comes from.
As I flicked through the pages of Trullo, lots of recipes made me want to dash into the kitchen….
I’ve chosen chilled almond and Charentais melon soup a riff on the Spanish classic Ajo Blanco, is a divine summer starter, cool and fresh – go easy on the vinegar…..
We recently reared a batch of our own organic chickens for the table so I used the plump legs in Tim’s recipe for roast chicken thighs and nduja with rosemary potatoes and anchovy mayonnaise.
Even if you can’t find or source nduja (try Fingal Ferugson of Gubbeen products, www.gubeen.com), the combination of crispy chicken and anchovy mayo is particularly appealing.
I regularly try delicious new ways to enjoy the bounty of green beans we have throughout the summer season. Loved this recipe for stewed bobby beans – see what you think.
A big roasting tin of potatoes, red pepper, anchovy, olive, chilli and rosemary also drew gasps of admiration when I took it out of the oven – a supper dish on its own but also irresistible with a fine roast or grill.
Affogato (vanilla bean ice cream with a shot of espresso) is one of the best things in the world but you have to try this raisin and Marsala version. If that doesn’t appeal, the Trullo book has several other sublime ice creams. Anyone for honeycomb and stem ginger, hazelnut or salted caramel ice cream….. Trullo published by Square Peg

Hot Tips
Grow your own Vegetables. During this intensive session Susan Turner, Ballymaloe Cookery School Head Gardener will cover compost making and soil management, crop rotations for weed control, disease prevention and soil management, vegetable varieties and successional crop production, saving your own vegetable seeds, harvest management -how to deal with gaps and gluts….
Monday August 14th 2017, www.cookingisfun.ie

Eatyard, the permanent street food yard on South Richmond Street in Dublin, will once again pop up at Beatyard in Dun Laoghaire on August 5th and 6th, with over 100 food vendors, demos, food competitions, cooks and stands. Craft beer fans can get in the carnival spirit at Brewtonic Carnivale, and 10 cocktail and wine bars will also roll into Tippletown for the weekend. www.the-beatyard.com

Richie Scott Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition is at Ballymaloe House until end of summer. Each Tuesday and Thursday Richie will give a complimentary tour and tell you all about the sculptures and artists displayed in the open air on the grounds of Ballymaloe House. Meet at 6pm from the terrace at the front door – all welcome. Tel: 021 4652531 for further information.

Ballymaloe Grainstore presents a screening of the documentary film, Food Evolution, which explores the controversy surrounding genetically modified food on Sunday August 6th at 8pm followed by Q & A with the director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and Darina Allen. Tel: 021 4652531 for further details.

Trullo’s Roseval Potato, Red Pepper, Anchovy, Olive, Chilli and Rosemary Al Forno

The potatoes won’t get crispy because they absorb all of the flavours they’re hanging out with, but they do get wonderfully gooey and sticky.

Serves 4

2 red peppers
olive oil
6 Roseval red-skinned potatoes, skin-on and sliced 2cm thick
3 whole salted anchovies, washed and de-boned (or use 6 good-quality fillets)
24 green or purple olives, de-stoned
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
40g unsalted butter, cubed
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5.

Blister the peppers, ideally on a charcoal grill to get a smoky flavour, but if not, over a naked flame on a wire rack or using metal tongs – keep rolling them around until they’re blackened all over. Put in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film: it will inflate like a hot-air balloon. Wait until it deflates, then peel the peppers while they’re still warm (this makes it much easier). Discard the seeds and thinly slice. Put a glug of olive oil in a small saucepan and cook the peppers for 20 minutes on a low to medium heat.

Line a large, high-sided roasting tray with a thin layer of olive oil, then with parchment paper (the olive oil makes it stick down). Add all the ingredients (including the peppers), except the butter. Season with a big glug of olive oil, salt and a good smack of pepper, mix together and roast in the oven for 35 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the butter and roast for a further 5 minutes. The potatoes should have absorbed most of the liquid but have a shimmering viscous sauce.
Taken from Tim Siadatan, Trullo The Cookbook

Trullo’s Roast Chicken Thighs and Nduja with Rosemary Potatoes and Anchovy Mayonnaise

Serves 6

2 tablespoons nduja
8 Maris Piper potatoes cut into wedges
4 sprigs of rosemary
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Olive oil
18 chicken thighs (3 per person)
Salt

For the Anchovy Mayonnaise
2 free range or organic egg yolks
3 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped
400 ml groundnut oil or other neutral oil
1 teaspoon red vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Put the nduja in a bowl, add a splash of hot water and mix to loosen.

Put the potatoes, rosemary and a sprinkle of salt in a pan and cover with water. Bring up to the boil then drain immediately. Let the potatoes completely steam dry then coat generously with olive oil and mix together. Heat an empty roasting tray (large enough to hold the potato wedges in a single layer) in the oven for 5 minutes, then take it out and add olive oil so that is about 3 cm deep. Add the potatoes, rosemary and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the potatoes on the top shelf of the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until crispy, stirring from time to time.

While your potatoes are roasting, heat a large frying pan on a low to medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and , working in batches, colour them in the pan until golden then transfer to the roasting tray.

Put the chicken on the lower shelf of the oven and roast for the remaining time of the potatoes (roughly 30 minutes). Add the nduja for the last 15 minutes of cooking and muddle it all around.
To make the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks and anchovies in a bowl and whisk. Slowly start pouring in the groundnut oil in a thin stream while whisking, continue until it has emulsified (all come together in a single mass) at which point you can start pouring a little faster – not too quickly though, otherwise it will split! Add the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the chicken and potatoes on platters in the middle of the table with a green salad.
Taken from Trullo The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan

Trullo’s Stewed Bobby Beans

Bobby beans are a fatter, more robust version of a fine green bean and grace us around the summer months. You could use fine green beans if you can’t get bobby beans.

Serves 4

A glug of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 anchovy fillets
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped and seeds discarded
2 kg bobby beans, stalks discarded

In a pan big enough to fit all the ingredients, heat a good glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the garlic, chilli, oregano and anchovy and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue frying for 15 minutes until everything is broken up into a happy mush.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Add the beans, cook for 7 minutes and drain.

Add the beans to the mushy tomatoey goodness and stir. Cover with parchment paper or a lid and cook on a low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring from time to time – add a splash of water to avoid it becoming too dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Taken from Trullo The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan

Trullo’s Marsala and Raisin Affogato

Serves 6

50 g raisins
100 ml Marsala, plus 50 ml for soaking the raisins, plus extra chilled in the freezer for serving (optional)
335 ml double cream
200 ml milk
1 vanilla pod, slit in half lengthways
8 free range or organic egg yolks
100 g caster sugar
6 espressos or strong filter coffee

Soak the raisins in 50 ml Marsala for at least 1 hour.

Put the cream, milk and vanilla pod in a pan and bring up to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and doubled in size (4-5 minutes). To temper the eggs, pour a small amount of the hot cream and milk mixture into the whisked eggs. Then pour this egg mixture back into the pan of hot milk and cream. Simmer on a low heat, stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon without dripping off. Take care not to over heat the mixture and scramble the eggs. Add the Marsala and strain through a fine sieve into a chilled container (ideally set over ice) and cool and chill as quickly as possible.

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. In the meantime, strain the raisins and squeeze out any excess liquid (this prevents the ice cream from going frosty) and fold them into the churned ice cream. This will keep in the freezer for 2 days.

Serve in ice cream bowls, with a shot of espresso poured over each portion – plus a little bit more chilled Marsala if you’re feeling fruity!

Taken from Trullo, The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan

London

There was a bit of a caffufle in the UK recently when a little five year old was left in tears after she was fined €150.00 for setting up a lemonade stand at the end of her street in East London. The plan was to sell little glasses of lemonade to people attending the Lovebox Festival in nearby Victoria Park. It brought a broad smile to the punters faces but after half an hour or so, not one but four over enthusiastic council enforcement officers approached her little table, accused her of trading without a licence and issued a fine to be paid wthin14 days. The poor little frightened mite and her dad packed up the stall and she sobbed all the way home.
However, her father while acknowledging that she possibly should have had a permit wrote about the incident in the Telegraph. Other papers picked it up, the fine was withdrawn and the council apologised for being too heavy handed – a happy outcome on this occasion, but one wonders how it would have panned out if Dad had not been a journalist…..
I’m all for encouraging young people or indeed anyone for that matter with a spark of entrepreneurial spirit to have a go. My children and now some of my grandchildren come up with bright ideas from time to time and it adds an element of fun during the long summer holidays.
Amelia, Jasper and India made some blackcurrant cordial to sell at a local Farmers Market, they not only learned how to make the cordial but also how to string black currants and sterilise the bottles. They also made and hand wrote the labels. Most of all they learned that it’s jolly hard work but they had so much fun and loved the praise and encouragement they got from the customers who so generously bought their delicious vitamin rich cordial. Wee buns or little cupcakes are always a sure seller. Start with a good recipe and of course use butter and other good ingredients so they taste delicious and are as nutritious as possible.
The old reliable choccie rice krispies are also a perennial favourite particularly when made with a good chocolate rather than the well-known brand of cooking chocolate; add a few raisins to boost the nutrients.
Popsicles are also super easy to make and both children and adults love them.
If you have a waffle iron, a bowl of batter can be made in minutes and customers can choose a range of toppings. Even easier are drop scones, this is a recipe everyone should have pasted to the inside of their kitchen cupboard. The batter can be whisked up in seconds and once again they can be embellished with sweet or savoury toppings and can be served hot off the pan but are also delicious cold.
Even if you don’t decide to set up a stall each of these recipes are little gems to add to your repertoire or to start a recipe folder.

Flowery British Queens
We are so fortunate to have a few dedicated potato farmers who still grow some of the traditional varieties, Home Guard, British Queens, Kerr’s Pinks, Golden Wonders. I picked up a bag of superb British Queens in Baltimore recently grown by Cha Holmes of Ballyalla near Skibbereen, “locally grown and seaweed fed”. Tel: 086 831 8609.

Irish Blueberries Now in Season
Juicy fat blueberries are now in season so be sure to check that you are buying Irish. I’ve got a few punnets of beautiful Derryvilla blueberries from Portarlington in Co Offaly but you’ll also find them from Rose Cottages at Midleton and Mahon Farmers Market and also at some West Cork Farmers Markets. Tel: 057 8642882.

Blackcurrant Cordial

This concentrated blackcurrant cordial, packed with vitamin C, is delicious diluted with sparkling or plain water or sparkling wine. It keeps for several months in a cool place.

1.1kg (21⁄2lb) organic blackcurrants
about (51⁄2lb) sugar
white wine vinegar

Boil the blackcurrants and 4 litres (7 pints) of water together in a stainless-steel saucepan for 15 minutes. Strain and add 13 parts of sugar to every 15 cups of liquid (we use a 225ml/8fl oz cup). Add 1 cup white vinegar and boil for 3 minutes. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal well. Dilute with water to taste.

Blackcurrant Popsicles

We use all the summer fruits, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants with combinations like blackberry and sweet geranium, redcurrant and strawberry, peach and raspberry, raspberry and basil. In Winter we make a variety of citrus pops including blood orange and tangerine. They are loved not just by children but people of all ages, and I particularly enjoy serving them at the end of a dinner party.

Makes 6

450g (1lb) blackcurrants
syrup (see below)

150ml (¼ pint) water

Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst. Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve. Add 150ml (¼ pint) water. Allow to cool.
Pour into popsicle moulds, cover, insert a stick and freeze until needed. Best eaten within a few days.

Syrup

275g (10oz) sugar
300ml (10fl.oz) water

To make the syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.

Blueberry Muffins

Blanaid Bergin my sister makes the yummiest muffins – seemingly in minutes.

Makes 8

In season: year round

225g (8oz/2 cups) white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 level tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) baking powder
140g (5oz/1/2 cup) caster sugar
75g (3oz/3/4 stick) butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
170ml (6floz/3/4 cup) milk
110g (4oz/1 cup) blueberries or raspberries

1 muffin tray lined with muffin papers

Preheat the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 4-5. Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, vanilla extract and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Fold in the blueberries or raspberries gently. Spoon into the muffin cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.

Aunty Pam’s Krispie Buns or Mini Rice Krispie Cakes

Makes approximately 48 mini cakes or 12 – 15 large muffin size

100g (3 ½ oz) milk chocolate
75g (3oz) Kellogs Rice Krispies

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering but not boiling water. Gradually add the rice krispies careful not to break them up too much. Spoon a heaped teaspoon into mini muffin cases. While they are still soft, gently press in a Smartie or Jelly Tot. For an extra surprise, pop a Smartie or Jelly Tot in the bottom and fill with rice Krispie mixture. Chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours and serve on a pretty cake plate.

Equipment:
Mini muffin tray and mini muffin coloured cases.

Mary Jo’s Waffles

Makes 12

Mary Jo McMillan worked with us at the Cookery School on several occasions – she was a passionate and perceptive cook. This is her recipe for waffles which I enjoy much more than mine.

175g (6ozs/1 1/2 cups) white flour
15g (1/2oz) sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

50g (2ozs/1/2 stick) butter, melted
350g (12ozs1 1/2 cups) milk, slightly warmed
2 eggs, free-range and organic if possible, separated

75g (3ozs/scant 1/2 cup) of batter for each waffle.

Preheat waffle iron. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a deep bowl. Make a well in the centre. Mix the warm milk, melted butter and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour the milk and egg yolk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir together to form a batter. Whip the eggs whites stifly and gently fold into the batter. Heat the waffle iron. Pour a 75g (3oz/scant 1/2 cup) ladle of batter onto the iron. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden on the outside.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve hot in a variety of ways both sweet and savoury.

Waffles with Fresh Fruit and Berries

Ripe berries of all kinds, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, sliced peaches, nectarines, apricots and bananas are all delicious with waffles. Pile the fruit on top of hot waffles, or serve it on the side of the plate. A blob of softly whipped cream doesn’t go amiss!

Waffles with Bananas, Toffee Sauce and Chopped Walnuts

2-3 sliced bananas
Toffee Sauce (see recipe)
110g (4oz) coarsely chopped walnuts

Toffee Sauce
110g (4oz/1 stick) butter
5oz (150g/scant 3/4 cup) dark soft brown Barbados sugar *
3oz (75g/scant 1/2 cup) granulated sugar *
225g (8oz) golden syrup *
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla extract. Put back on the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.

Put some banana slices on top of the waffles, pour Toffee Sauce over and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped walnuts.

Top Tip

Toffee Sauce is also delicious with ice-cream. It will keep for several weeks stored in a screw-top jar in the fridge.

Good things to serve with waffles:
Crispy bacon and honey or maple syrup
Crispy bacon and slices of Gruyére or Emmental cheese
Crispy bacon with sliced banana
White peaches with raspberries

It’s Such an Exciting Time in Food…..

It’s such an exciting time in food and even though the figures for obesity and Type 2 diabetes continue to increase expedientially, there are real grounds for optimism as growing numbers of young and not so young, don their lycra and take to their bikes or run or swim or even walk. I’m a fan of the latter and greatly enjoy a bit of hill walking every now and then. Most gyms are oversubscribed and despite my pessimistic prediction that Operation Transform would never catch on, it’s been the biggest success and has got many couch potatoes off the sofa and transformed them into messianic walkers or bikers.

So much to be encouraged about, not just here in Ireland but there also appears to be a global grassroot movement who really want to take back control over their food and their lives. Millennials, many of whom, are hugely successful with high powered jobs in the city are beginning to ask themselves searching questions. In the midst of all the pressure and traffic jams, there’s the nagging thought, ‘there has to be more to life than this’…..

So some at least (and the numbers are growing) are finding solace in the joy and satisfaction of growing some of their own food – instead of planting flower beds, they are sowing vegetables and herbs, seeds, planting a few apple trees, a cherry, a few gooseberries and blackcurrants and are like children in a toy shop when their produce is ready to eat. A decade ago 70% of all seeds were flower seeds now vegetables seeds are outselling flower seeds by 78% to 22% and the graph keeps climbing.

In the US, the Grow Food not Lawns Movement continues to grow as does GIY here om Ireland. Cully and Sully’s program, Give Peas a Chance in conjunction with national secondary schools had entries from 7,000 students, 3,000 teams, a fifth of secondary schools and was won by the St Augustine’s in Dungarvan. Their teacher Margo McGann and David McCarthy told us about the excitement it generated among her class, the parents, fellow teachers and how the whole school is basking in the warm glow of success and will now further develop a school garden with the prize they won and continue to teach the children how to grow vegetables and fruit – many of the children have already encouraged their parents to start a vegetable garden at home, the very best use of pester power.

The craving to reconnect with how food is produced and to relearn skills is particularly evident in the response to a new course we introduced onto the Ballymaloe Cookery School curriculum this year. A Six Week Sustainable Food program where the participants learn everything from how to sow a seed, plant a seedling into the ground, how to milk a cow, make butter, cheese, yoghurt , keep chickens for eggs and the table. They learn how to rear heritage pigs, butcher, bake breads, forage, preserve, ferment, make charcoal and cook and address a number of food issues. The course filled in a couple of weeks and was oversubscribed by 100%+, six nationalities – how interesting is that…..many of course, will return to their former careers, several have already bought some land or will now begin to cultivate their gardens or at least plant a window box depending on their situation but whatever their future path life will never be the same. In their own careers, each have a skill set that I couldn’t even begin to aspire to but you can’t imagine the joy they are finding in learning these basic life skills and baking their first loaf of bread or roasting a free range organic chicken…..
In this column, I include a few of the recipes they have learned to make from scratch over the past six weeks.

Hot Tips
Check out the Carlow Garden Festival, 21st July – July 30th 2017. A full program of tv and radio gardeners, international garden designers, tree trails, garden visits, free events, workshops…. http://www.carlowgardentrail.com/events/category/carlow-garden-festival-2017/

Irish Street Food Awards. We are looking for the best street food dishes in Ireland with the winner going on to represent Ireland in Berlin in the Autumn. European Street Food Awards Final. Applications and nominations are now open at http://irishstreetfoodawards.com/ to any street food vendor trading in Ireland. Closing date July 7th 2017. For more information contact Ali Dunworth on 087 4144288 or alidunworth@gmail.com

Midleton Farmers Market
Check out Michael Barrett’s lobster sandwich and oysters at the Midleton Farmers Market, every Saturday 9.30am-2pm www.facebook.com

Caramelized Carrot, Beetroot and Apple Salad with toasted sesame seeds

A couple of bocconcini make this salad into a more substantial lunch
Serves 6

600g young carrots, with a little green top
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
Extra Virgin olive oil
Honey
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
450g beetroot, cooked and peeled
1-2 dessert apples, unpeeled and coarsely grated or julienned
25g pumpkin or sesame seeds
Watercress, purslane and chickweed or a mixture of interesting leaves and ‘weeds’
Dressing
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 230C/mark 8
Scrub the carrots, dry, split in half lengthwise, if too big. Put into a large bowl, add the thyme leaves, drizzle with the olive oil and honey, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss gently to coat.
Spread out in a roasting tin. As soon as you put the trays into the oven reduce the heat to 200C/mark 6.

Roast for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally until the carrots are almost tender and caramelized at the ends and edges.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Just before serving, toast the pumpkin or sesame seeds on a dry pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, you’ll need to keep tossing them or they’ll burn on one side and become acrid and bitter.
Cut the cooked beetroot into wedges or chunks depending on size.

Make the dressing – Whisk the lemon juice, oils and honey together, add the thyme leaves, keep half the dressing aside.

Grate the apple on the coarse side of a box grater, directly into the rest of the dressing. Toss, taste and correct seasoning.

To serve
Arrange a few sprigs of watercress, chickweed, and purslane on each plate. Whisk the dressing.
Sprinkle over the carrot and beets. Taste, it should be nice and perky. Divide them between the plates. Spoon some grated apple here and there, sprinkle with toasted seeds and serve with crusty bread.

Rory O’ Connell’s Salad of Beetroot with Raspberries, Honey and Mint

Serves 4

2 cooked beetroot, peeled and very thinly sliced on a mandolin
24 raspberries
16 small mint leaves
honey
olive oil
lemon juice
Maldon sea salt
cracked black pepper

Divide the sliced beetroot between 4 white plates.

Cut some of the raspberries in half lengthways and some in cross section slices, and scatter over the beets. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Dress the salads with a drizzle of honey, a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle on the tiny mint leaves and serve.

Note
I sometimes place a few teaspoons of thick yoghurt or labne on the salad when assembling.

Kohlrabi or White Turnip and Coconut Curry

Serves 4-6

225g onion, peeled and finely chopped
25g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
700g kohlrabi or white turnip, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon roasted and ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
seeds from 8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
20g fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
sea salt and black pepper
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock or water
200ml coconut milk
handful fresh coriander leaves

Rice and Naan bread
Mint or coriander yoghurt

Melt the butter and the oil in a wok, add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, prepare the kohlrabi, add to the onion, and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes.
Stir in the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds and cook for 2 minutes, careful not to brown the seeds or they will become bitter. Add the ground turmeric or coriander, crushed cardamom seeds, ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for 30 seconds. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the chopped tomatoes, stock or water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the coconut milk and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the kohlrabi is tender. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Pour into a hot serving bowl, scatter with coriander and serve with rice, naan bread, and mint or coriander yoghurt.

Maunika Gowardhan’s Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

This was recently voted in a survey as one of people’s top ten dishes to eat on their bucket list! Murgh Makhani which is basically tandoori chicken in a buttery sauce, is an all-time Indian favourite.

Tandoori Chicken
2.5cm (1 inch) piece of fresh root ginger
4 garlic cloves
1 green bird’s eye chilli
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons gram (chickpea) flour
1 teaspoon mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder (or a little more if you’d like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of crushed saffron
450g (1lb) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt to taste
butter for basting
1 teaspoon chat masala
juice of 1/2 lemon

To Serve
salad and chutney

Tandoori Chicken.
Put 5-6 wooden skewers in water and leave them to soak.

Put the ginger, garlic and bird’s eye chilli into a wet grinder or mini food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Put the yoghurt in a bowl. Add the gram flour and mix well to get rid of any lumps and create a thick, paste-like consistency. Add the ginger-garlic paste, the paprika, chilli powder, garam masala, coriander, cinnamon, saffron and salt. Stir well, then add the chicken, mixing well to make sure the pieces are coated in the thick marinade. Leave to marinate for 2-3 hours or preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill until medium-hot.

Shake the excess marinade off the chicken pieces and thread them onto the skewers. Place them on a wire rack and grill on the top shelf for 15-20 minutes, turning the skewers every 5 minutes and basting with melted butter until the meat juices run clear. The chicken should be cooked through and slightly charred around the edges.
If you wish, the tandoori chicken can be served at this point just as it is – over parathas sprinkled with chaat masala and lemon juice along with a salad and mint and coriander chutney.
However, to make an authentic butter chicken, serve with the gravy (see recipe).

Murgh Makhani Gravy

1 1/2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons) unsalted melted butter
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2.5cm (1 inch) cassia bark
4 cloves
1 onion (about 50g/2oz), finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon ( 1 1/4 American tablespoons) grated ginger (made from 8cm/3 1/4 inch) fresh root ginger
2 green bird’s eye chilliest, slit lengthways
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder or mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) tomato purée
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) double cream
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) honey
1 tablespoon ( 1 1/4 American tablespoons) kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaf)
salt to taste
chopped fresh coriander to garnish

Top Tip
Crush the dried fenugreek with your fingers before adding to release the aromas in the curry.

Place a deep saucepan over a low heat and add the butter. When hot, add the cardamom pods, cassia bark and cloves. Fry for 20 seconds, then add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes over a medium heat until it takes on a light brown colour.

Add the grated ginger and bird’s eye chillies. Fry for a further minute, add the chilli powder and garam masala, stir for 20 seconds and add the tomato purée. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes. Now gradually add the double cream, stirring continuously to mix it with all the spices. Simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the honey and fenugreek. Season to taste and add 50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) water.

Add the cooked chicken pieces and simmer the curry over a low heat for 6-8 minutes.

Garnish with coriander and serve with naan bread.

Pork Osso Bucco

This recipe is also lovely made with lamb or rosé veal shanks. The leftover meat and juices are delicious over pasta.

Serves 8

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, sliced
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
2 yellow peppers, seeded and sliced
2 bay leaves
1 sprig thyme
1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) sweet or smoked paprika
900ml (11⁄2 pints/3 3/4cups) homemade chicken stock
16 thick slices of pork shanks (you’ll want 4 shanks for 8 people, ask the butcher to saw them into thick slices for you or do it yourself)
seasoned flour
450ml (16fl oz/2 cups) dry white wine
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4cups) sour cream
about 50g (2oz) roux
lots of flat parsley

a cast-iron or heavy roasting tin

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas Mark 3.

Heat 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of olive oil in a casserole, add the sliced onion and garlic, toss, cover and cook over a medium heat while you prepare the peppers. Add the peppers and continue to cook until the onion and peppers are soft. Add the bay leaves, thyme and chopped tomatoes with their juice. Add salt, freshly ground pepper and paprika. Stir, then add the chicken stock and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, heat another 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan. Toss the pork in seasoned flour. Sear the meat a few pieces at a time, and add to the tomato base. Deglaze the pan with white wine and bring to the boil.

Dissolve the caramelized meat juices in the wine. Add to the casserole.
Cover and cook gently for 2–2 1⁄2 hours.

When the meat is almost falling from the bones, remove the pork from the casserole and set aside. Skim the fat off the cooking sauce, add the sour cream, bring to a boil
and thicken lightly with roux. Taste and correct the seasoning. Return the pork shanks and their juices to the sauce. Bubble over a medium heat until the meat heats through.
Taste and correct the seasoning.

Transfer to a shallow serving dish. Scatter with lots of flat parsley sprigs and serve with noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. Serve one small and one large piece of shank per person.

Jacob Kenedy’s Blackcurrant Leaf or Meadow Sweet Panna Cotta

Panna cotta (‘cooked cream’), normally, is a somewhat bland vehicle for fruit or sauce. Here infused with blackcurrant leaves (which magically have more aroma than their fruit, that comes later in the year), it becomes the star attraction. Something of a charlatan, I actually prefer to make my panna cotta without cream at all, replacing it with yoghurt – both for a lightness of taste, and reduction of guilt.

Serves 4

3 sheets gelatin (2.5g each – ‘standard’ size)
400ml (14fl oz) whole milk
1 vanilla pod, split
25g (1oz) fresh blackcurrant leaves (or, equally lovely, fig leaves) or meadow sweet flowers
100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar
150ml (5fl oz) double cream (or 200g/7oz Greek yoghurt)

To Serve
Optional: Blackcurrant Compote (see below)

Bloom the gelatin in cold water.

Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla pod, and take it straight off the heat. Allow it to cool to about 70oC/158˚F, then add the blackcurrant leaves (or meadow sweet flowers if using). Keep it around 60-70 oC/140-158˚F (put over a low flame briefly if it cools below) for 5-15 minutes, and taste to judge when the infusion is correct (too long and it starts to taste bitter, too short and it will be bland).

When you’re happy, strain the milk and, while still hot, add the sugar and the bloomed gelatin. Stir to dissolve. At room temperature, stir in the cream or yoghurt and portion into glasses or moulds.

Serve turned out onto little plates, just as they are or with a spoonful of blackcurrant compote (see recipe), which though not seasonal can be made using frozen berries and not much sugar.

Blackcurrant Compote

350g (12oz) fresh blackcurrants, strings removed

Stock Syrup:
50g (2oz) sugar
50ml (2fl oz) water
Put the blackcurrants into a stainless steel saucepan, cover with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts – this will take about 4 to 5 minutes.

Jacob Kenedy, Bocca di Lupo (LitFest 2017)

Vegan Cookery

Recently, I’ve had several requests for vegan recipes as the interest in a vegan life style gathers momentum. The increase in numbers continue to confound the sceptics. There are a variety of reasons why people decide to embrace a vegan diet. For many, it’s a combination of concern for the environmental impact of many of our food producing systems and animal welfare issues.

So what exactly is the definition of a vegan, some would say it’s an extreme form of vegetarianism. The Vegan Society define veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude as far as possible and practicable all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.

Most vegans will also avoid the use of all personal household products tested on animals and avoid buying all animal derived products such has leather, fur and wool. So strict vegans will not only avoid fish and meat but also butter, honey, eggs and even some wines which may be cleared with egg white. Some vegan cheese contains casein which is not acceptable to vegans. So creating a balanced diet can be deeply challenging and I personally have a concern about ‘dairy delights’, faux franks’, ‘mock meats’ and many of the substitutes.

Vegans need to have a real understanding of nutrition to ensure a balanced diet and to avoid deficiencies such as B12 which is only found naturally in animal products.
Many new cookbooks are hitting the shelves – Aine Carlin from Derry in Northern Ireland. Her cookbooks, The New Vegan and Keep it Vegan published by Kyle Books are favourites of many.
A new book entitled Vegan Recipes from the Middle East, written by Parvin Razavi has just landed on my desk. It’s full of really appealing recipes from Iran, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Turkey and, as a dedicated carnivore friend once remarked about the food at Café Paradiso in Cork – “you wouldn’t miss the meat”. It was of course meant as a compliment but it may sound a bit offensive to vegans.

Parvin Razavi is a new name on the culinary scene but certainly one to watch. She was born in Iran and spent her early years by the Caspian Sea and in Teheran before her parents moved to Europe. Many of the Middle Eastern recipes she’s created and shared are super simple and can actually be prepared in less than half an hour. That’s worth checking out. Parvin also has a blog Thx4cooking. By the way Grub Street publishers have a whole range of vegan cookbooks, check them out www.grubstreet.co.uk

Garden Workshop:- Designing a Herbaceous Border. During this half day course Susan Turner, Head Gardener at the Cookery School and Ballymaloe House will discuss general layout, good plant choices for a long season of interest with vibrant colour combinations and contrasts in texture and form, combining structural plants, underplanting and extending the season with annuals, self-sowers and interplanting with bulbs, seasonal maintenance to include pruning, dividing the plants, weeding techniques and tools, staking and mulching…… Coffee on arrival and light lunch. Monday July 10th www.cookingisfun.ie

Kilmore Quay Seafood Festival, 6th -9th July 2017. Harbour food stalls, singing, dancing, seafood platter competition, family fun events…..proceeds raised from the festival will support local projects in the area. 25 minutes from Wexford Town http://kilmorequayseafoodfestival.com
The Garden Café Shack at the Ballymaloe Cookery School has reopened for the summer. Check out gardencafetruck. Short menu of fresh food from the farm and gardens and delicious homemade cakes and biscuits.

Harmony in Food and Farming, a two day conference organised by the Sustainable Food Trust from July 10th and 11th in Wales. Wide range of panel discussions on farming, food, ecological and environmental issues, eating as an agricultural act… Adele Jones – adele@sustainablefoodtrust.org +44 (0) 7909588681 http://sustainablefoodtrust.org

Parvin Razavi’s Caramelised Fennel with Fennel Seeds and Barberries

Preparation time: 20 minutes

5 tablespoons olive oil
2 bulbs of fennel, cut lengthways in ½ cm thick slices
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon barberries
1 tablespoon fresh mint
Pomegranate seeds to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Put the fennel in the hot oil, sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper and fennel seeds and fry until golden brown.

Serve the fennel on a plate and grate lemon zest on top.

Serve garnished with barberries, pomegranate seeds and mint.

Taken from VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

Parvin Razavi’s Roasted Almonds

Preparation Time:- 10 minutes

250 g almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pinch of sugar
Salt
1 pinch of chilli
1 pinch of ras el hanout

Mix the almonds well with the other ingredients. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and spread the almonds on top. Carefully roast in a preheated oven at 180C/250F/gas mark 4 for 5 minutes.

Taken from VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

Parvin Razavi’s White Bean Hummus

Preparation Time:- 15 minutes

400 g tin white beans
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pinch of paprika
1 pinch of ras el hanout
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper
3-4 tablespoons water

Strain the beans and puree all the ingredients together in a blender.

Season well to taste.

Taken from VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

Parvin Razavi’s Tabouleh with Pomegranate Seeds and Apple

Preparation time: 15 minutes

1-2 tart eating apples, diced
2 spring onions, sliced into rings
1 pomegranate seeds removed from the fruit
1 teaspoon sumac
2 tablespoons roast pine nuts
50 g mint, chopped
50 g parsley, chopped
1½ level teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and season with the lemon juice and olive oil.

Steep for 30 minutes and then enjoy.

Taken from VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

Parvin Razavi’s Soya Yoghurt with Cucumber, Rose Petals and Sultanas

Preparation time:- 15 minutes

1 cucumber
500 ml soya yoghurt
5 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 handful of sultanas (approx. 25 g)
Rose petals to garnish

Coarsely grate the cucumber, season with salt and leave for 10 minutes. Then squeeze out well by hand and put in a bowl.

Mix the soya yoghurt, cucumber and mint in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garnish prettily with sultanas and rose petals.

Tip:- a small clove of crushed garlic can be added, according to taste.

Taken from VEGAN Recipes from the Middle East, Parvin Razavi, published by Grub Street, London

Barbeque Fare

Despite the crazy changeable weather, we’re having fun cooking on the barbeque. We fire up the grill at every opportunity, have to say that even though the flavour of food cooked over charcoal or wood is far more delicious, the gas Barbie is mighty tempting,  particularly when you want to snatch a moment between the showers.

Not the same magic of course as cooking over fire but one needs time and a deal of advance planning. This group of 12 Week students built a ring of fire on the gravel in the courtyard with some large rocks. They’ve had some super fun sitting around the camp fire cooking up big pots of stews or just grilling. It’s all the more exciting because they collect their own timber, (they walk around the farm with  a wheelbarrow to stock up with lots of wood and twigs that have fallen from the trees. They couldn’t raid the wood shed so instead they’re having a bit of gas practicing sustainability.  Double bonus, clearing up and free timber.

There’s something about cooking over fire that seems to connect with our inner ‘hunter gatherer’ and it particularly appeals to men, even wily chaps who can’t boil an egg for themselves, fancy their chances on the barbeque, the aroma of the good food sizzling on the grill certainly fuels the appetite. Steaks and chops, sausages and chicken breasts are still the favourites but don’t forget vegetables and of course fish. We’ve been catching some fresh mackerel and pollock in Ballycotton and cooking those on the barbeque – wow, how delicious….

Sauces, are super important for a barbeque. Some béarnaise with steak or a punchy mustard aioli add magic to a simple steak.  Romanesco sauce is addictive with grilled chicken thighs and of course a good barbeque sauce is always a favourite.

We also love our new seasons, onions split in half, tossed in a little extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and grilled. They char deliciously on the outside and become melting tender and sweet. A little zucchini either whole or thickly sliced are also great, sprinkle  them with chopped marjoram. Young beets can be wrapped and roasted and buried in the coals or just grilled. But best fun of all is barbequed pizza, you’ll need a Weber type barbeque with a lid to cook them properly but it’s a really easy way to feed lots of people deliciously in a short time. An accompanying salad and a glass of something delicious is all that’s needed.

 

Hot Tips

Give your teenager a gift for life – a Transition Year Cookery Course. In just five days beginning on Monday 24th July 2017,  students will learn a variety of skills in both demonstration and hands on cooking sessions. Homemade bread, jam, soups, yummy starters, main courses, desserts, biscuits and even a cake or two plus how to make butter and yoghurt from our own Jersey cow’s milk and cream. Students will also have a guided educational tour around our organic farm, gardens and greenhouse. They will also have the opportunity to learn about the hens, pigs, chickens and livestock and herb and wild food garden on the Organic farm. www.cookingisfun.ie 021 4646785.  Limited Numbers.

 

Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks with Romesco Sauce

 

Romesco Sauce is a Spanish sauce, a mixture of peppers, garlic and nuts, sweetened and sharpened with tomatoes and lemon juice.

 

Serves 4 as a main

 

4 x 150g (5oz) chicken drumsticks

4 x 160g (5 1/2oz) chicken thighs

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) olive oil

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 recipe quantity of romesco sauce (see recipe)

 

20g (3/4oz) toasted flaked almonds

 

Light the barbeque or preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

 

Put the chicken in a roasting tray.  Drizzle it with olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook either on the grill or in the oven for 30-40 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.

 

Gently warm the romesco sauce in a small pan and serve with the chicken, with the toasted almonds sprinkled over the top.

 

Romesco Sauce

 

Serves 12

 

1 head of garlic

4 – 6 tablespoons (5 – 7 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

2 slices slightly stale country bread

75g (3oz) almonds, preferably Marcona

3 large very ripe tomatoes or 15 ripe cherry tomatoes

1 large or 2 small red peppers

flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

lemon juice to taste

7 tablespoons cold water

 

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

 

Trim the top off the head of garlic to expose the bulbs. Wrap in a little tin foil parcel but allow space to pour in about a dessertspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Pinch in the top to close. Cook on the barbeque or in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the garlic cloves are soft and squishy.

 

Cut the crusts off the bread and fry in extra virgin olive oil until golden brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper and put into the food processor.

 

Fry the almonds in the remainder of the oil until golden (add a little more oil if needed), add to the bread.

Half (or quarter) and deseed the pepper, put into a bowl.

Half the tomatoes around the equator, add to the peppers in the bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with flaky salt and freshly ground pepper, spread in a single layer in a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven until the tomatoes are soft and peppers are catching at the edges, 30 – 40 minutes. Allow to cool.

Add the tomatoes and peppers to the bread and almonds in the food processor. When the garlic is soft remove the skins and add to the mix. Whizz, taste, correct the seasoning and add lemon juice to taste. Add enough water to thin to a soft consistency. Delicious.

 

 

Mustard Aioli

 Makes 300 ml (½ pint)

 

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

8 fl ozs (225ml/1 cup) oil (sunflower, or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 6 fl ozs (175ml/3/4 cup) sunflower oil and 2 fl ozs (50ml/1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

2 teaspoons of freshly chopped parsley (optional)

1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard

 

Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the crushed garlic salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Add the chopped parsley and mustard.  Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

 

If the aioli curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons  of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled aioli, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.

 

Chargrilled T-Bone Steak with Chimi Churri Sauce or Bernaise Sauce

 

Serves 6

2 x 750g (1 1/2lb) t-bone steaks, a good 2.5cm (1 inch) thick

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

salt

 

Chimi Churri Sauce

 Chimi Churri sauce is a hot perky sauce from Argentina.

 

Serves 6-8

Makes 225-255ml (8-9floz/1 cup) Chimi Churri Sauce

 

50g (2oz) flat parsley leaves

4 large cloves garlic peeled and crushed

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) water

100ml (4floz/1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil

50ml (2floz/1/4 cup) red wine vinegar

1 red onion, finely chopped

1/2 chilli seeded and chopped or 1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

Salt

 

Or Bernaise Sauce, see recipe

 

First make the chimi churri sauce.

Chop the parsley finely with the garlic and water. (Alternatively, whizz in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl until well pulsed) Transfer to a bowl. Whisk in the oil and vinegar gradually. Add the red onion, chilli and salt. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

 

Drizzle the steaks with olive oil.  Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

 

Grill over hot coals for about 6 minutes each side for rare, 8 minutes each side for medium rare or 12 minutes each side for well-done.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

 

To serve, remove the bone to release the meat.  Cut the meat across the into 5mm (1/4 inch) slices.  Serve hot drizzled with chimi churri sauce or with a dollop of Bernaise.

 

Bernaise Sauce

 

The consistency of Béarnaise sauce should be considerably thicker than that of Hollandaise or beurre blanc, both of which ought to be a light coating consistency. If you do not have tarragon vinegar to hand, use a wine vinegar and add some extra chopped fresh French tarragon.

 

Serves 8–10

 

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) tarragon vinegar

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) dry white wine

2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots

pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 organic egg yolks

110g (4oz/1 stick) butter

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped French tarragon leaves

 

Boil the first 4 ingredients together in a low, heavy-bottomed, stainless-steel saucepan until completely reduced and the pan is almost dry but not browned. Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of cold water immediately. Pull the pan off the heat and leave to cool for 1 or 2 minutes.

 

Using a coil whisk, whisk in the egg yolks and add the butter bit by bit over a very low heat, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece; it will gradually thicken. If it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally, add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of freshly chopped French tarragon and taste for seasoning.

 

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 all the butter is added and the sauce is a thick coating consistency. It is important to remember, however, that if you are making Béarnaise 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 Béarnaise sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so that you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if it becomes too hot.

 

Keep the sauce warm in a bowl over hot but not simmering water or in a Thermos flask until you want to serve it.

 

Serve Béarnaise Sauce separately.

Pan-grilled Spring Onions

 

I’m absolutely not a gadget person so I tend to keep kitchen equipment to essential to avoid clutter, however one good buy in my book is what we call a pan-grill. This is a black ridged cast iron pan which I find gives a super result for vegetables, fish meat and polenta. For me its one of the few bits of indispensable kitchen equipment.

 

Serves 6

 

18 Spring onions or scallions

3 tablespoons  olive oil

sea salt

 

Wash the spring onions, trim the root ends and cut into 6 inch (15cm) lengths approx. Drizzle with oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and toss on a preheated pan-grill.  Cook on a medium heat until golden on one side, turn and allow to cook on the other side. Serve hot as part of a vegetable plate with grilled fish or meat.

Note:- if the onions are large split in half lengthways and cook until well charred on each side, they become delicious sweet and tender.

 

Chargrilled Pizza Margherita

 

Possibly the most traditional and universally popular pizza in Italy. As this pizza is basically cheese and tomato it is crucial your tomato sauce has a really supper flavour.

 

Makes 1

 

150g (5oz) pizza dough (see recipe)

175g (6 oz) mozzarella cheese

3 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) olive oil

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) tomato fondue (see recipe)

1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) freshly chopped annual marjoram

1 tablespoon Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano is best), freshly grated

 

Slice mozzarella and sprinkle with the olive oil.

 

Roll out pizza dough to 30cm (12 inch) rectangle or circle, about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick.  Brush both sides with olive oil.

 

Gently place dough on the grid in centre of the barbecue, directly over the heat for 2-4 minutes, until the bottom if the crust is well marked and browned.  Turn upside down.

Arrange the grated Mozzarella over the cooked side of the crust, within 2.5cm (1 inch) of the edge. Spread the tomato fondue over the top. Sprinkle with the freshly grated Parmesan.   Season very well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Return pizza to the centre of the cooking grate and cook with the lid closed until bottom is well browned, toppings are warm and cheese is bubbly, about 5-10 minutes.

Sprinkle the freshly chopped marjoram on top serve immediately.

 

 Chargrilled Broad Beans

One of the simplest most delicious ways to enjoy broad beans – I also cool on the cold plate of my ancient Aga.

6-10 freshly picked broad beans, per person

flaky sea salt

extra virgin olive oil

salt

Pecorino Romano, optional

Heat a pan grill over a high heat. Lay the pods directly onto the pan in a single layer – allow to colour on one side, 2-3 minutes, flip over and cook on the other side. Serve on a hot plate with a little bowl of extra virgin olive oil, some flaky sea salt for dipping.  A few crumbs of Pecorino Romano are a delicious accompaniment.

 

New Season’s Summer Food

It’s been a busy week, just doing the final corrections for my next book, Grow, Cook, Nourish…. Every time I think we’re there, another list of queries come winging their way by email. This book has been over two years in the making and may just be the most important book I ever write because I’m encouraging people to think about growing even a little of our own food. Once you experience the magic of harvesting something you grew yourself and then prepare and enjoy it, you’ll be hooked, not to speak of the joy and health giving properties of freshly picked food.

This really hits home at the moment when I’m picking new season’s broad beans and peas, it’s a Zen like experience and then we sit around the kitchen table shelling the peas and unzipping the broad beans to retrieve the little treasures from the velvet lined pods. Every supper or dinner party starts with a preparty get together with the guests. I pour a glass of wine or cordial and then we all sit around shelling, podding and gossiping in a blur of nostalgia, recalling childhood memories. For some it’s the first time they have ever podded a broad bean or shelled a pea, an American visitor to the school recently asked me what the fresh peas were and when I showed him how to open the pods he tasted a fresh pea for the very first time in his life – his eyes were as big as saucers and he suddenly said, maybe if I grew these I could get my kids to eat some vegetables at least – what a revelation.

This is not the first time I’ve been asked how to shell peas. Peas are so worth growing for the home gardener because one can eat them at every stage, the pea shoots, flowers, ‘wizard whiskers’, as the tendrils are called. The peas can be eaten at mange tout stage and then of course the peas and the pea pods can be used for a soup.

In Rome, the arrival of the first broad beans are considered to be the harbinger of Spring. Both at home and in local trattorias people sit around the table in little groups podding broad beans and flecking out little chunks of pecorina romana, a sharp salty sheep’s milk cheese that contrasts deliciously with the sweet tender broad beans. The season starts earlier than ours, so Fave e pecorino are often enjoyed for Easter Sunday breakfast with crusty bread and a special pork fat studded salami called corallina, a delicious ritual that has endured.

We also love to dip each bean in a little extra virgin olive oil and a little flaky sea salt.  As the season progresses the skin thickens and the sugars turns to starch, so at that stage the broad beans are best double peeled. It’s very easy to over cook them, they just need to be cooked  in boiling salted water for a minute, then drained and refreshed in cold water, then popped out of their shells and continue with the recipe. Gorge on both peas and broad beans while the season lasts.

In last week’s column I mentioned a pea mousse but it didn’t make it into the text because of space restriction so here it is. It is a delicious summery little starter. Hope you’ll also find time to make and enjoy this green gooseberry and elderflower tart and elderflower fritters from the fluffy blossoms that are adorning the hedgerows all over the country at present –

 

Hot Tips

A Farmers Market near you

Killavullen Farmers Indoor Market is located on the grounds of the Nano Nagle Centre. Raw Milk and Yoghurt, Hegarty’s Farmhouse Cheese, Free Range Rare Breed Pork, Jams, Chutneys, Cordials, Arbutus Bread, Seasonal Fruit and Vegetables, Home Baking, Gluten Free Baking, Crafts, Flowers……on Saturday 17th June and every fortnight,  just 10 minutes from Mallow on the N72, 10.30am to 1pm.

 

New on the scene:-  The Cottage Market at the CreameryYard in Kildorrery, Cork has a great selection of vegetables, free range rare breed, smoothies, preserves, cordials and flowers. Fortnightly Saturday market from 11am to 2pm, ten minutes from Fermoy and Mitchelstown, next market 24th June, 8thJuly…..Phone Ciaran Cotter on 086 376 1816 for details.

Pilgrims Restaurant

Swing off the main road in Rosscarbery up to the charming villagesque Pilgrims restaurant – lots of small plates and some foraged ingredients and lots of imagination combine to create a memorable experience. Tel: 023 8831796 or www.pilgrims.ie

East Cork Slow Food Summer Pop Up Dinner.  Our 12 Week Certificate students at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday June 24th cook up a feast from the organic farm, gardens and glasshouses, fish from nearby Ballycotton and meat from our local butcher. Tickets €40.00 for Slow Food members and €45 for non Slow Food members. Booking Essential on 021 4646785 or slowfoodeastcork@gmail.com

 

No Dig Gardening Workshop with Charles Dowding

Another opportunity to learn the principles of ‘No Dig’ gardening. Charles Dowding has been advocating the ‘No Dig’ technique since 1983 when he started a market garden. His original methods give superb results.  In our experience here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we have healthier crops, higher yields and about 80% less weeds – so what’s not to like about ‘No Dig’. We were deeply sceptical at first but have become big converts.  His recent course was oversubscribed and got a brilliant response. Charles will teach another one day course on Monday June 19th. He has written nine books and appears on radio and TV including Gardeners World. He teaches extensively both at home and abroad.  Monday June 19th 10.00am to 4.30pm www.cookingisfun.ie. Tel: 021 4646785

Taste of Dublin in the Iveagh Gardens is on this weekend, June 17th and 18th. Plenty of cookery demonstrations, tastings, market stalls, food and wine pairings, whiskey and craft beer tastings. www.dublin.tastefestivals.com

 

Risi e Bisi

 

Comfort food at its very best, a heavenly way to enjoy some of your precious fresh peas.  Young shelled broad beans can also be added.

Serves 6 -9

 

2kg fresh young peas (podded weight approx.2 lbs)

1 kg broad beans (podded 500 g approx.)

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

125g butter, softened

3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1.75 litres homemade chicken stock (see recipe)

200g onion, finely chopped, we use our new season’s spring onions

300g risotto rice

110g Parmesan, freshly grated

 

Pod the peas and save the pods.  Bring a large saucepan of water (4.8L) to the boil, and add 2 tablespoons of salt.  Add the pea pods and cook for 5 minutes.  Then scoop them out.  Put through a mouli, with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water.  Blanch the peas in the boiling pea pod water, drain and add to the pea-pod pulp.  Next bring the water back to the boil, add the broad beans and cook for one to 2 – 3. Drain, refresh and shell.

Season with lots of freshly ground pepper and add 45g of the butter

Put half into a food processor and pulse.  Return to the whole peas.

 

Heat the stock. Taste and check for seasoning.

Melt half the remaining butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Gently fry the onion until soft and just beginning to colour.  Add the rice, stir to coat each grain with butter and cook for 2-3 minutes.  When the rice is opaque, increase the heat to medium and start to add the hot stock ladle by ladle, adding the next only when the last of the stock  has been absorbed.  Stir continuously.  After 10 minutes add the peas and parsley, continue to cook until the rice is al dente – about 10 minutes.

Finally, stir in the remaining butter, and most of the Parmesan.  Taste and correct seasoning.  Serve immediately in deep wide soup bowls, with a little more Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

 

Pea Mousse with Pea Shoots, Radishes and Shrimps

This is my interpretation of a delicious starter dish that I ate recently at a restaurant in London. It is exquisite made with fresh peas but I have to admit, I have also made it with frozen peas and the result has been pretty delicious.   We use the beautiful little shrimps (palaemon serratus) from Ballycotton but it’s also good without them.

Serves 6

Mousse

500g fresh peas

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon sugar

1 gelatine leaf

150ml water

Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

100ml of softly whipped cream

1 tablespoon chopped mint

 

Garnish

50g fresh peas, blanched and refreshed

A mixture of French Breakfast and Cherry Belle radishes

Tender fresh pea shoots

75 – 100g small pink shrimps (palaemon serratus), cooked

Extra virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt

 

Bring 150ml fresh cold water to a fast rolling boil, add salt. sugar and peas, return to the boil for 2-3 minutes, drain, save the cooking water, and refresh the peas under cold water.

When cold, whizz to a smooth puree with 100ml cooking water. Push through a nylon sieve into a bowl, chill.

Soak the gelatine in cold water, allow to soften for 4-5 minutes, drain, then dissolve the softened leaf in a tablespoon of hot water. Add the pea puree gradually then cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until just beginning to set. Fold in the softly whipped cream. Divide between 6 wide soup bowls, cover and allow to set.

Meanwhile, trim and slice the radishes lengthwise and put into iced water.

To Serve:

Put the peas into a bowl, add the peeled shrimps and the pea shoots. Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil, a few flakes of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss.

Top each mousse with a generous portion, scatter 5 or 6 slices of radish over the top, add a couple of drops of extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt and serve.

 

 Chargrilled Peas

 

Serves 4-6

 

Peas cooked in this way are super delicious and totally addictive

 

450 g (1 lb) fresh peas, about 88 pods

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt

 

Pop a pan grill on a high flame. Toss the pea pods in a very little extra virgin olive oil and some flaky sea salt. When the pan is very hot, lay the pods in the pan in a single layer, allow to colour from the grill, 3-4 minutes,  flick over and char on the other side.

 

Taste, add a little more salt if necessary.

Put the pod between your teeth and enjoy the peas as they pop out…..

 

Ballymaloe Green Gooseberry Tartlets

 

Makes 36 tartlets approximately

 

1 quantity cold cream pastry (see recipe)

450g (1lb) green gooseberries (topped and tailed)

caster sugar

 

Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.

 

Using plenty of flour roll the cold pastry to a thickness of 2mm (1/8 inch). Cut the pastry with a 7.5cm (3 inch) round cutter and use the disks of pastry to line a standard flat based bun tray.

 

Cut the gooseberries in half and arrange 6-7 halves on each disk of pastry. Place a rounded teaspoon of caster sugar on top of the fruit in each tartlet. Bake the tartlets for 15-20 minutes or until the sugar begins to caramelise and the pastry is a golden brown colour. Remove the tartlets from the bun tray while still hot – use a palette knife for this – and place on parchment paper which has been sprinkled with caster sugar.

 

These tartlets are best served warm.

 

Cream Pastry

Sounds scary but this pastry is really delicious and flaky

 

This pastry keeps in the fridge for up to 6 days.

 

110g (4oz/1 stick) cold salted butter

110g (4oz/1 cup) plain flour

150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) cold cream
Sieve the flour into the bowl of an electric food mixer. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour using the paddle attachment until the mixture forms a coarse texture (slow speed and then a little faster).  (DO NOT over mix, if you do the mixture will form a shortbread like ball! Pour the cold cream into the coarse mixture and mix on a low speed until a smooth pastry forms. Wrap the pastry in parchment paper and chill overnight.

Always roll cream pastry straight from the fridge. If the pastry comes to room temperature it will be too soft to handle!

 

Elderflower Fritters

 

These are very easy to make, very crispy and once you’ve tasted one, you won’t be able to stop! Serve them with the Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote, below. Serves 4

 

110g (4oz/1 cup) plain flour

pinch of salt

1 organic egg

150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) lukewarm water

8–12 elderflower heads

caster sugar

sunflower oil for frying

 

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg. Using a whisk, bring in the flour gradually from the edges, slowly adding in the water at the same time. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 180°C/350°F. Hold the flowers by the stalks and dip into the batter (add a little more water or milk if the batter is too thick). Fry until golden brown in the hot oil. Drain on kitchen paper, toss in caster sugar and serve immediately with gooseberry and elderflower compote.

 

 

Picnic at Ballyandreen Strand

We’re sitting on the bouncy grass on the cliffs above Ballyandreen Strand   watching the waves crashing onto the rocks below. It’s a beautiful day, the sea pinks and mallow are in full bloom.  It has become a tradition to have a breakfast picnic on the Monday after the Litfest with some of the speakers whose flights leave late in the afternoon. Rashers and eggs cooked in the open air, soda bread and jam, freshly squeezed orange juice and lots of coffee – it’s what memories are made of.

Lovely Claudia Roden is with us, at 81 years of age, she’s still super sprightly and still writing and cooking and game for everything that’s going on. Last night when I left the throbbing music and dance scene in the Big Shed at Ballymaloe, she was still there enchanted by the energy and excitement.

Earlier in the day she had been foraging on the seashore with Alys Fowler and given a talk on My Favourite Ingredients in the Cookery School.  Everywhere she turned someone wanted a photo, for many at the Litfest, meeting and having the opportunity to chat to Claudia was a highlight of the weekend and there were many many highlights at Litfest 2017.  Ben Reade and Sashana Souza Zanella from Edinburgh Food Studio spent 3 days cooking for Saturday night dinner, it was a triumph.  Robin Gill  from The Dairy in London also cooked a memorable Pop Up lunch at Ballymaloe on Saturday, Margot Henderson from Rochelle Canteen worked her magic on Sunday lunch. Jason Fahey and his team cooked the delicious food for the Natural Wine dinner at Ballymaloe House with the legendary Isabelle Legeron.

There were many inspirational and thought provoking events in the Grain Store on the theme of Our Responsibility.   Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner of Health and Food Safety spoke passionately about food waste. He was born in a Gulag in Siberia and he still remembers what it was like to be hungry, so feels food waste is totally immoral. He referred to the consequences to the Irish Famine and asked each and everyone of us in the audience to help tackle this challenging problem. The EU are drafting guidelines to facilitate food donations in the EU where approximately 88 tons of food are wasted every year with associated costs estimated at €143 billion.

We too fervently hope that he and his colleagues in the EU will work with us to remove the root cause of much of the problem – the scandalous waste of perfectly good produce because of EU regulations on size and uniformity and sell by dates in the retail trade.  He also spoke about ‘the need to fight against the supermarketization of our lives’.

Joanna Blythman, an investigative journalist and broadcaster and a thorn in the flesh of the processed food industry and supermarkets tweeted ‘the man is singing my song’……..In her presentation Joanna  urged us to base our diet on whole unprocessed foods that we cook ourselves. Her talks brought people from far and wide and urged us to be wary and aware of the dangers of  heavily processed food and not to allow ourselves to be misled by labelling.

Professor Ted Dinan’s talk on Diet Stress and Mental Health also had huge impact as did young agrarian leader, Severine von Tscharner-Fleming, from the Greenhorn Movement in New York who spoke on The Farmer’s Life.

Asylum seeker, Ellie Kisyombe’s talk was also deeply moving .

The Great Grocers panel which  included  Peter Ward from Country Choice, Ruth Healy from Urru,  from London, Leila McAllister from Leila’s,  Sally Clarke from Clarkes and Sally Butcher from Persepolis  …… also made a huge impact and got us thinking about the need to support independent shops.

All weekend, the Drinks Theatre was crammed with people who came from far and wide to see Colm McCan’s line up which included Isabelle Legeron who spoke about natural wines, Mary Dowey did a talk and tasting on superb champagne and sparkling wines, Kristen Jensen led a panel of Irish craft brewers…..there were artisan gins and our own Ger Buckley, cooper from Irish Distillers.

For me one of the frustrations of the Litfest is not been able to get to every single event. Rachel and I spent most of my time at the Ballymaloe Cooking School hosting inspirational chefs  – Sunil Ghai from Pickle in Dublin,  Clare Lattin and Tom Hill from Duck Soup in London, Monika Linton from Brindisa, Jacob Kennedy from Boca di Lupo, Sumayya Usmani  house cook, from Pakistan and Charlotte Pike past student who were doing cooking demonstrations. Others wandered around the Big Shed,  organic farm and Ballymaloe walled gardens and learned how to sow seed with GIY and so here is a sample of some of the exquisite food that was cooked.

 

Hot Tips

Cookery Demonstration  to raise funds for Aaron McMahon’s brain tumour treatment. Join Debbie Shaw at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday June 8th, 7pm who will teach a Middle Eastern Summer Feast. Tickets must be pre purchased and available from Debbie 086 389 3768 or at the Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop, 021 4646785

 

Limerick’s International Food Truck Festival runs from June 1st – 5th 2017 in the People’s Park.  Don’t miss this fun event, the weekend will see Limerick going large on food trucks when the European Food Truck Association will bring 60 food trucks from 14 countries to the city’s People’s Park. www.Limerick.ie/foodtruckfestival

 

 Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Gnudi with Watercress and Goat’s Curd

These great little ricotta dumplings – not to be confused with gnocchi, which are made using wheat flour and potatoes – are simple to make and take just a few minutes to cook. We can’t recommend making gnudi enough because everyone always loves it. We’ve chosen one of our favourite ways to serve gnudi here. If you are having a few friends over, make gnudi!

Serves 4

For the gnudi:
500g (18oz) ricotta
1 egg yolk
30g (1 1/4oz) ‘00’ flour
30g (1 1/4oz) grated Parmesan
zest of 1 lemon
2kg (4 1/2lbs) semolina flour, for dusting
salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Combine the ricotta, egg yolk, ‘00’ flour and Parmesan together in a bowl, then add the lemon zest and salt and pepper and mix again.

In a large, deep, non-reactive baking tray or plastic container spread out a layer of semolina flour, about 5mm thick.

Roll the gnudi mixture into 10 balls and then place on the semolina flour in a single layer, making sure they do not touch each other.

Once you’ve used up all the mixture completely cover the gnudi with the remaining semolina flour and chill into the fridge for 24 hours. After 24 hours the semolina will have formed a crust on the gnudi – this helps the dumplings hold their shape.

When you’re ready to cook the gnudi bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, dust off the excess semolina flour (any excess semolina flour can be kept in the fridge and used again) and boil for 3 minutes, reserving some of the cooking water.

To Serve:
80g (3 1/4oz) butter
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
large bunch of watercress, thick stalks removed
160g (5 1/4oz) goats’ curd or a good-quality cottage cheese, preferably unpasteurised
zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the butter and olive oil together in a large pan until the butter begins to foam. Add the watercress and couple a small ladles of the gnudi cooking water and stir gently. As soon as the watercress starts to wilt, add the goats’ curd or cottage cheese and give it another stir (you may need to add a little more of the gnudi water to thin the sauce slightly).

 

Drain the gnudi and add to the sauce. Give everything a gentle stir, being careful not to break the gnudi. Divide the gnudi and sauce between four bowls and finish each bowl with a grating of lemon zest, a good drizzle of olive oil and a few twists of black pepper.

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill from Duck Soup (LitFest 2017)

 

 Sumayya Usmani’s Lahori Fish

In Chickpea Batter and Ajwain Seeds

 

Summer holidays spent with my cousins in Lahore were always a food adventure. This is a city that never stops eating, and one of the most authentic street meals from Lahore’s foodie hot spot is this lightly battered chickpea flour fish. The trick to a crispy coating is dipping the fish in rice water (that’s the starchy water that’s drained off after boiling rice) instead of tap water. An alternative is to mix a teaspoon of cornflour in tap water for a similar effect.

Preparation 20 minutes/Cooking 10–15 minutes

Serves 4–6

 

4–6 haddock fillets

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt

100g (3 1/2oz/generous 1 cup) gram flour

2 tablespoons rice flour

1 teaspoon dry-roasted cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)

1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes (or more if you like)

100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) rice water (made by boiling 1 tablespoon of rice in 120ml/4fl oz/1/2 cup water, straining and reserving the water, or 100ml (3 1/2fl oz/ scant 1/2 cup) water mixed with 1 teaspoon cornflour/cornstarch)

50ml (2fl oz/scant 1/4 cup) corn oil

 

Rub the fish with the lemon juice, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Mix the gram flour, rice flour, cumin, ajwain, red chilli flakes and remaining salt together in a bowl. Pour the rice water into another bowl. Dip the fish into the dry gram flour mix, then in the rice water and repeat again. Continue until all the pieces of fish are covered.

 

Heat the oil in shallow frying pan over a medium heat and fry the fish for 4–5 minutes on each side until cooked through with a crisp coating. Serve hot with lemon slices.

Kitchen Secret

To get a really crisp coating, begin by patting the fish dry with kitchen paper to remove all the non-starchy moisture before dipping into the starch water. If your fish is a little smelly, rub some white vinegar on the fish then rinse under cold running water and pat dry with kitchen paper before coating.

 

Sumayya Usmani’s Karhai Ginger Chicken

 On the days I was greeted with the hot citrus tang of fresh ginger from my grandmother’s garden as it was sliced artfully into julienne pieces, I knew I was getting Pakistani-style ginger chicken for supper. This is a dish that is found in every restaurant and home in Pakistan and is simple and quick to make, with bursts of raw ginger added at the end for a fresh finish. Serve with a daal and rice – and you can substitute chicken with boneless duck or turkey for a fuller flavour.

 

Preparation 10 minutes/Cooking 25–30 minutes

Serves 4

 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon each of garlic purée and

grated ginger

200g (7oz) chicken breast cut into

5cm (2 inch) chunks

2 large tomatoes, finely chopped

1 tablespoons tomato purée

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

salt, to taste

1 tablespoons unsalted butter

 

Garnish

5cm (2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and cut into julienne

handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped

2 green chillies, finely chopped

10 mint leaves, chopped

 

Heat the oil in wok-style pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the cumin and allow to splutter for 30 seconds. Add the garlic purée and grated ginger and fry for a further 30 seconds, or until the raw smell of garlic disappears.

Add the chicken to the pan and fry until it is sealed all over. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5–7 minutes until softened, then add the tomato purée and the yogurt and cook for 8–10 minutes, or until the oil starts to separate. Add the red chilli powder, black pepper, turmeric and salt and cook for a further 5–7 minutes until the chicken is done. Add the butter before turning off the heat and letting the butter melt.

 Before serving, add the julienned ginger, coriander, green chillies and mint, and stir through.

 

Jacob Kennedy’s Courgette Carpaccio with Parmesan and Anchovy

Spring and early summer, joy sprouts from the soil in leafy greens and a bounty of vegetables. Younger courgettes (where the seedy core is still embryonic) are delicious barely cooked, or boiled until tender and drenched in olive oil – but really sing raw. I like to use the Romano variety – firm, dry, sweet and mild, with a beautiful ridged form that makes stars when sliced. These are the best, for everything, but any courgette will make for a nice dish, particularly the paler skinned varieties.

Serves 4 as a starter

600g (1 1/4lb) youngish courgettes

8 fillets salted anchovy

4 tablespoons very finely diced parmesan

a few whole flat-leaf parsley leaves

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Slice the courgettes across into very thin roundels. Arrange flat on a plate like a carpaccio. Chop the anchovy fillets coarsely or slice them lengthways into thin strips and lay on top of the courgettes. Season with salt and a little pepper. Scatter with the parmesan and parsley, and drizzle with oil. Serve straight away.

Jacob Kenedy, Bocca di Lupo (LitFest 2017)

 

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Puff Pastry Strawberry Galette

 A galette doesn’t rely as much on the consistency of oven heat as a tart, where you want the heat to be perfectly even all over. Here the pastry needs to be perfect, as does the quality of fruit you are using.

We’ve made galettes with just about every fruit going, from pears and strawberries to plums and rhubarb, so do experiment with whatever fruits you have going and see what happens.

Serves 8–12

For the pastry:

375g (13oz) plain flour
50g (2oz) cornflour
200g (7oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice
100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar
60g (2 1/2oz) crème fraîche
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
beaten egg, to glaze

First make the pastry. Tip the flour and cornflour into a food processor and add the diced butter. Pulse until you have a coarse crumb texture – you want to have small clumps of butter visible through the flour.

Add the remaining pastry ingredients (except the beaten egg) and pulse briefly to combine, adding a dash of cold water if needed to bring it together into a dough. Don’t overwork the dough as you don’t want all the butter fully combined. Tip out on to a work surface, pat into a ball and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile make the filling. Quarter your apples and remove the core. Use a mandoline slicer to thinly slice the apples and put into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice, prunes and hazelnuts and give it a good mix with your hands. Leave to macerate at room temperature until needed.

Once your pastry is chilled preheat the oven to 180°C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.

For the filling:

1kg (2 1/4lb) strawberries

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

a splash of rose water

handful of crushed pistachios

crème fraiche to serve

 

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on to a work surface and dust with flour. Place the pastry on to the parchment and with a floured rolling pin, roll the pastry out to a circle approximately 35–40cm (14-16 inches) in diameter and 3mm (1/8 inch) thick. The pastry will be quite soft so take care.

Tip the filling along with the juices on to the pastry and spread out, leaving a 5cm border all around. Fold the border over the fruit filling – this process doesn’t need to be too neat and if the pastry tears just pinch it back together. Remember this is rustic galette; it wouldn’t sit right in a French patisserie, but that’s the point. Once you’ve folded in the edges, brush them with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Slide the galette, still on the parchment paper, on to a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked. Serve hot with crème fraîche or ice cream.

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill from Duck Soup (LitFest 2017)

 

 

Literacy Festival of Food and Drinks at Ballymaloe

It’s crazily busy at Litfest HQ – the fifth Ballymaloe Litfest is underway. This year we’ve changed the emphasis somewhat so the proper title is A Food and Drinks Literacy Festival at Ballymaloe.

We’ve continued to build on the previous years events which have by now been written about from New York to Sydney, Los Angeles to Capetown with well over 35 nationalities attending. They return to their own countries to spread the word of what’s happening on the Irish food scene and the fun and thought provoking events they attended at the Litfest. Sommelier Colm McCan has managed to assemble yet another world class line up in the Drinks Theatre. Isabelle Legeron M W, a London based wine writer and global crusader for the natural wine movement is coming along as well as many other luminaries from the spirit, craft beer and cider world. Garrett Fitzgerald and James Boland will discuss their book The Brother Hubbard Cookbook. David Puttnam will be in conversation with John McKenna ‘Living, Working and Eating in West Cork’, Trish Deseine, Irish food writer and cookbook author will give her perspective on Irish food culture – also unmissable.

Brian McGinn Ex producer of Netflix and series Chefs Table will be in conversation with David Prior International Editor of Conde Nast Traveller, they’ll both be keeping their eyes open for stories. The festival takes place at Ballymaloe House, Ballymaloe Cookery School, The Grain Store and the Big Shed. This year the humming Big Shed at the heart of the festival will once again be brimming with good things to eat and drink from some of Ireland’s finest artisan producers. There will be the sound of music ranging from the gentle during daylight hours to the more energetic when the sun goes down. Some of the weekend’s many free Fringe events will take place here and the Family Corner will ensure that festival goers of all ages will be kept happy and amused.

So what am I looking forward to at the Ballymaloe Cookery School?

At last we’ve managed to tempt Clare Lattin and Tom Hill over from their restaurants in London’s Soho and Shoreditch to share some of their recipes. Readers of this column will know that Raw Duck and Duck Soup as two of my favourite London restaurants. Monika Linton from Brindisa who wrote the book I’ve been waiting for on Spanish food will teach a class on Saturday morning.

Then there’s Jacob Kennedy from Bocca di Lupo, back by ‘popular demand’ as is the beautiful and gracious Claudia Roden who will speak on both Saturday and Sunday.

Generous as always, Sunil Ghai from Pickle in Dublin will share the secret to many of the dishes that have made Pickle award winning new restaurant so renowned.

But you may not yet have heard of Sumayya Usmani who’s really making waves with her Pakastani food. This is award winning author’s first appearance in Ireland – don’t miss….

Charlotte Pike (former Ballymaloe Cookery School student) has already built up quite a following with her Fermented book but this time she will focus on her recently published book, Smoked and show us how to have fun at home, hot and cold smoking all manner of delicious foods.

Christian Puglisi of Relae, Manfred’s and Baest in Copenhagen can’t stay away. After his last trip to Ballymaloe he was so inspired by the farm, gardens and ethos that Mrs Allen had created that he is setting up the Farm of Ideas Project – he’ll tell us all about it on Sunday afternoon in The Carrigaun Room.
The Grain Store will host the symposium – a series of short talks and presentations on the theme – Our Responsibility.

The BBC Radio 4 food program, Sheila Dillon and Dan Saladino are coming over from London to record from the Litfest.

Want to go foraging on the seashore with Alys Fowler, garden correspondent of the Guardian? Or watch another of my food heroes, Margot Henderson of Rochelle Canteen will talk on the Joy of Cooking in the Grain Store on Saturday afternoon.
The pretty Garden Tent nestled alongside the scented rosemary bed is now an established and exciting venue over the weekend and will have a full programme of free events to which all are welcome. John Bowman from RTE will be back with his Questions and Answers as will Jim Carroll with his banter series.

There simply isn’t nearly enough space to mention all of the 64 speakers or events so go and check it out on litfest.ie.

Some events are already booked out but there are still lots of opportunities, so come along it’s still not too late to book. Maybe our biggest coup of all is Vytenis Andriukaitis who will speak in the Grain Store on Sunday ‘To Eat is a Political Statement’ and then there’s the Great Grocers and Joanna Blythman speaking on Nutrition – Really? and our own Professor Ted Dinan on Diet, Stress and Mental Health and even a session on Food from Space by astrophysicist Niall Smith – sure where would you get it!
And believe me all of the above is just a taste. Check it out, see you there and speaking of taste here’s what to come.

Hot Tips
Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Duck Soup cookery demonstration, handful of places remaining for at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday May 20th. Bookings through www.litfest.ie

Meet the Author, Rebecca Sullivan who will discuss her new book The Art of the Natural Home on Saturday May 20th. Further information on www.litfest.ie

Slow Food Galway is hosting an event on Sunday May 21st 2017.
Curing, Pickling, Smoking fresh vegetables, fish and meat at Cáit Curran Síol Centre in Moycullen, Galway.
Phone Trish 086 635 9920 or Kate 087 931 2333 for more information. www.slowfoodireland.com

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Courgettes, Broad Beans, Peas, Tahini Yoghurt, Pomegranate and Dill

Serves 4

800 g courgettes
Extra virgin olive oil
500 g peas in the pod
500 g broad beans in the pod
1 pomegranate
Juice of 1 lemon
250 g tahini yoghurt, see recipe
Handfuls of dill fronds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut each courgette into three on the diagonal; if you can do this on alternate angles you will get a more interesting shape which helps add texture to the dish.

Place a large frying pan over a medium –high heat until hot. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add your courgettes, frying them until they are golden brown on all sides. Season, with salt as you go. Once cooked, remove from the pan and set to one side.

Bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil while you pod the peas and broad beans. Once podded add to the water and blanch for just one minute and drain. Plunge straight into a bowl of iced water to stop them cooking further.

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate by cutting it in half and then holding over a bowl, cut side down on your spread palm. Hit the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon or rolling pin so that the seeds drop out into the bowl. If you have trouble try turning the half inside out and gently coaxing the remaining seeds out with your fingers.

Drain the peas and broad beans well and add to a bowl with the courgettes. Dress with the lemon juice and some olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

It’s now time to assemble the ingredients. Spoon the tahini yoghurt into the middle of a large plate and then use the back of your spoon to gently spread it out. Don’t go for a thin, even circle – you want some texture. Spoon your vegetables over the yoghurt, making sure that you don’t cover it completely – you want them to sort of look like they’re bobbing in a tahini pond. Tear over your dill, being sure to keep the fronds intact, and finally spoon over the pomegranate seeds – you want to try to spoon little groups into any gaps rather than just have a sprinkling of seeds here and there. Finish with a bit more lemon juice and a good helping of extra virgin olive oil.

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Tahini Yoghurt

An absolute staple ‘go to’ accompaniment at the restaurant. We add toasted nigella and coriander seeds, garlic and olive oil to our tahini yoghurt. It works really well with a whole array of roast vegetables.

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon nigella seeds
Juice of ½ lemon
50g tahini paste
500 g thick Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, minced
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt

Light crush the coriander seeds with a pestle and mortar and toast with the nigella seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes.

Whisk the lemon juice and tahini paste together in a large bowl; it will go quite thick but that’s fine. When the seeds are toasted, add to the bowl along with all the other ingredients.

Whisk together until everything is combined. Decant into a jar or a covered bowl and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

The Wisdom of Simple Cooking Ducksoup Cookbook by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Crispy Lamb, Labneh, Mint, Red Onion and Pomegranate

Serves 4

1 whole lamb breast, about 2 kg, cut in half
500 ml lamb stock
1 pomegranate
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
Small handful of mint leaves
Small handful of flat leaf parsley
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
160 g labneh
Chargrilled flatbread or toasted sourdough bread, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 6. Season the lamb breast with salt and pepper and put into a large roasting tray. Pour over the lamb stock, cover tightly with foil and cook in the oven for 2-3 hours, or until the meat easily comes away from the bone.

Once cooked remove the lamb breasts from the stock and allow to cool. Keep the lamb stock as you can use it another day – simply pour into small tubs and freeze.

While the lamb cools, remove the seeds from the pomegranate by cutting it in half and then holding over a bowl, cut side down on your spread palm. Hit the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon or rolling pin so that the seeds drop out into the bowl. If you have trouble try turning the half inside out and gently coaxing the remaining seeds out with your fingers.

Once the lamb breast is cool enough to handle remove all the meat from the bones in large chunks and set aside. Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat and add a generous glug of oil. Add the chilli flakes and then fry the lamb until nice and crisp, giving it a pinch of salt as it cooks.

When the lamb is crisp transfer to a large bowl. Tear in the mint and parsley and add the sliced onion. Squeeze in the lemon juice, add another good splash of olive oil and half the pomegranate seeds and season with salt and pepper.

Toss everything together with your hands and gently coax the salad out of the bowl with your fingers onto individual plates. Spoon a dollop of labneh on to a third of the plate, and finish by scattering the entire dish with pomegranate seeds. Serve with chargrilled flatbread or toasted sourdough.

The Wisdom of Simple Cooking Ducksoup Cookbook by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill

Jacob Kennedy’s Tomato and Purslane Salad

Serves 4 as a starter or side

500 g delicious tomatoes
½ small red onion
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (optional)
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
100 g picked purslane leaves and tips

Quarter the tomatoes and slice the red onion very thinly across the grain. Macerate these with the vinegar, oil and plenty of salt and pepper for 5 minutes, then toss in the leaves and serve with a crust of bread on hand to mop the bowl afterwards.

Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy

Jacob Kennedy’s Orecchiette with ‘Nduja

Even a small amount of ‘nduja is enough to make for extremely spicy pasta, but the heat is tempered, slightly by the cream.

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main

200 g semolina or 260 g bought fresh orecchiette or 200 g dried (but only if you must)

1 red onion, halved and sliced with the grain
120 g cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50 g ‘nduja or 100 g if shop bought and not quite so strong
50 ml white wine
80 ml double cream
50 g rocket, very roughly chopped
Freshly grated pecorino romano, to served

First make a semolina pasta dough with the semolina flour and 80 ml of water. It should be firm but malleable. Knead well; let it rest for at least 20 minutes, then make the orecchiette.

Roll the dough into a sausage (it may help to do this in a few batches) 1 cm wide. Cut across to make 1 cm dumplings. Take a knife and make the orecchiette one by one. With the flat of the knife at 30° to the table, use a smearing action (away from your body) to press the dumpling out, using the rounded end of the knife blade. It should stretch, flatten and curl around the blade, becoming thinner in the middle than at the edges, one of which will be slightly stuck to the blade of the knife. Put your index finger gently against the centre of the little curl of pasta over your fingertip and simultaneously detach it from the blade. It should now look like a little ear, with a slightly thick rim (the lobe), and a rough texture on the thinner centre, from where the knife pulled against the dough. A lot of words for very small pasta, these take some practice before they come right, but after are as easy as pie. Leave them spread out on a wooden or floured surface until you’re ready to cook – they’re best left for half an hour or so, to become a little leathery.

Next fry the onion and tomatoes in the oil over a high heat for 3 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Crumble in the ‘nduja and fry for 30 seconds, then add the wine and a small ladleful of water. Let it bubble for a few moments, then add the cream.

Allow the sauce to cook until the cream has reddened, and thickened if it looked watery. To cook the orecchiette, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, drop in the pasta and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the drained pasta (still a little wet) and the rocket to the sauce, cook until the rocket is wilted and the pasta coated in the sauce. Serve with grated pecorino on top.

Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy

Shabbo Khala’s Cauliflower Pakoras with spiced moong daal batter

In Pakistan, a mother’s closest friends are like maternal aunts and are called ‘Khala’. Every Khala has her secret recipes – this one is my Shabbo Khala’s. As a child I would excitedly anticipate meals at her house, hoping to get some of these thinly sliced cauliflower florets in spicy lentil batter.

Preparation 25 minutes + 3–8 hours soaking | Cooking 10 minutes | Serves 6–8
150g/5oz/1½ cups moong daal
2 tbsp water
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chaat masala
1 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
150–200ml/5–7 fl oz/2⁄3–scant 1 cup vegetable oil
½ cauliflower, cut into florets then florets sliced thinly vertically

To make the batter, soak the lentils in a bowl of water for at least 3 hours, or overnight, then drain and put them into a food processor or blender. Blend with the measured water until it is a smooth thick batter. Stir in all the spices, salt and chopped coriander.

Heat the oil in a wok-style pan over a medium heat. When the oil is smoking hot, reduce the heat to low.

Dip the slices of cauliflower into the batter (forming a thin coating of batter on the
cauliflower) and deep-fry in the oil for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Move the pakora around as they cook to allow them to cook evenly. Remove the pakoras with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately.
Summers Under The Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani
Photography by Joanna Yee

Chicken salan on-the-bone chicken curry

Salan means a liquid-based stew, and the closest description in English would be a thin curry. An everyday staple, chicken salan is classically made using chicken on the bone alongside onion, ginger and garlic with tomatoes and a simple combination of spice. Feel free to experiment with different spice combinations to make this dish your own. It’s best served with an accompaniment of daal, rice and a vegetable dish.

Preparation 15 minutes | Cooking 45–55 minutes | Serves 4–6
3–4 tbsp corn oil
2 red onions, roughly chopped
1-cm/½-inch piece ginger, peeled
and grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes or 5 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp tomato purée (optional)
salt, to taste
1 tsp red chilli powder (reduce if required)
¼ ground turmeric
1 kg/2¼ lb chicken with bones (ask butcher to cut a whole skinned chicken into 16 pieces with bone or use about 500g/1lb 2oz deboned thighs or chicken breast pieces (2.5–5cm/1–2 inches large)
100ml/3½ fl oz/½ cup water plus 5–8 tbsp

For the ground spices
1 tsp cumin seeds
3–4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1 tsp coriander (cilantro) seeds

To garnish
handful of tender fresh coriander
(cilantro) with stems, chopped
2 green chillies, finely chopped
For the ground spices, grind all the spices together then set aside. Heat the oil in a
heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the onions and cook for 8–10 minutes until golden. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so until the raw smell disappears. Add the ground spices, reserving a teaspoon of the spices to garnish. Now cook for about 10–15 minutes until everything is caramelised. The onions will start to darken, and the garlic and ginger will also begin to caramelise. This is what you need for an intensely coloured base.

Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, salt, chilli and turmeric then turn the heat to medium
and bhuno (stir-fry) this mixture. If the tomatoes start to splutter a lot reduce the heat
slightly. Cook for about 20 minutes until you are left with a thick, rich sauce.

Turn off the heat, let the tomato mixture cool, then blitz in a blender until smooth.

Add 5–8 tablespoons water to make sure it is not too thick – it should be the consistency of a thick jam. Return to the pan, add the chicken pieces and 50ml/2 fl oz/scant ¼ cup of the water and increase the heat to medium-high. Bhuno (stir-fry) the chicken until you start to see the oil separating from the sauce, about 15 minutes of vigorous stirring.

Reduce the heat to low, add about another 50ml/2 fl oz/scant ¼ cup water, cover and
cook until the oil floats on top of the curry sauce and the chicken is cooked through.

Garnish with chopped coriander, chillies and a sprinkling of the spice blend. Serve with basmati rice, chapati and a salad such as crispy chapati kachumber salad.

Summers under The Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani
Photography by Joanna Yee

Letting the Hens Out

Today was such a joyous day, after more than three months we were allowed to let our flock of hens out of their houses. They have been confined for over three months on the instruction of the Department of Agriculture along with all poultry in these islands because of the threat of Avian flu in Europe. We’ve been feeding them indoors, bringing them up the end of greenhouse crops – kale, bolted lettuce and salad greens but it’s not the same as being able to romp around and range freely in the sunlight.

You can’t imagine the excitement when we opened the popper in the door of the Palais des Poulets. At first, they were bewildered and then they made a dash for freedom and skipped out into the sunlight to range freely on the grass that is so so important to their wellbeing.

It was a joy to watch them scratching enthusiastically for worms and grubs and jumping into the compost skip to forage for scraps – no need for a brown bin here, the hens eat the vegetable scraps and then we have beautiful eggs a few days later and furthermore the hen manure and straw bedding is added to the compost heap. A brilliant activator which when it eventually breaks down into humus is added to the soil to increase the fertility to grow more wholesome fresh vegetables and herbs – a beautiful virtuous triangle and no waste.
See video link
I love poultry and encourage anyone who will listen to consider getting a little flock of hens, four or five in a little chicken coop in your garden would provide an adequate egg supply for most households. The coop can be moved around your lawn every few days, the hens do the mowing and their droppings will fertilise your grass so its win win all the way. Kids of all ages love hens, they are friendly and entertaining plus children get to learn a little more about how their food is produced, recycling and the value of compost. They will love collecting the freshly laid eggs and enjoy boiled eggs with ‘soldiers’ – an almost forgotten flavour.
Where to find hens and what to buy? For free range production try to find heritage breeds. Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School we have about 600 hens in several flocks. We buy day old chicks from Willie Johnston in Armagh (www.johnstonspoultry.com and O Leary Poultry in Macroom (0879697939) who hatch organic chicks. These traditional breeds are hardier for outdoor production. Occasionally a hen hatches out a little clutch of chicks – we had some just in time for Easter to the delight of the grandchildren and their friends.

Always buy from a reputable source and make sure they have been vaccinated.
The arucanas lay bluey green eggs, the Sussex or Leghorn white, Rhode Island red and the Marans dark brown – all are beautiful in their own way. Eggs are a perfect a rich source of protein. They contain vitamin B2, B12, Vitamin D, selenium, iodine, a powerhouse of disease busting nutrients. Two eggs provide a simple nourishing fulfilling supper enough for most people with a salad and some good bread. Excellent value for money.

If you have a little surplus your friends will gladly accept them or you can sell them at your local country or Farmers Market.
From the cooks point of view they are immensely versatile not just as an ingredient but as an emulsifier in sauces like Hollandaise and Béarnaise but also a binder and enrichment in cakes and pastries.
I did a column about eggs for Easter but one could easily write a whole book on eggs and many have so here are a few more ways to enjoy your beautiful fresh eggs.

Hot Tips
Skibbereen or Bantry Farmers Market often have live hens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl for sale. Alternatively contact O’ Leary Poultry at Skibbereen Market on 087 9697939 or Meynhaus at Bantry’s market 087 2208061.

GIY HQ Courses, Classes and Events
Check out the course schedule at the GIY HQ in Waterford……Beginners Guide to Growing, Soil Fertility, Managing Pests and Disease, Kids Club and Gardening lessons….www.giy.ie. Tel: 051 584422

Litfest 2017
The excitement is building here at Litfest HQ – watch out for is Sumayya Usmani, a native of Pakistan, a writer and cookery teacher based in Glasgow. She specialises in the cuisine of Pakistan and travels regularly to her homeland. Her debut book Summers Under the Tamarind Tree won the Best First Cookbook category in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Sumayya will give a cookery demonstration at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Sunday May 21st at 10.00am. Don’t miss this rare opportunity. www.litfest.ie

Support Cór Cois Farraige’s annual charity concert in aid of Time for Tilara on Sunday May 14th at the Garryvoe Hotel, 8pm. Tickets are €10.00 available at local outlets in East Cork and at the door. clairewhelan2@eircom.net

Parmesan Custards with Anchovy Toasts

Serves 8

250ml (9fl ozs/generous 1 cup) cream
250ml (9 fl ozs/generous 1 cup) milk
4 organic eggs
100g (3 1/2 ozs) finely grated Parmesan or Coolea Cheese
salt, freshly ground pepper and a good pinch of cayenne
melted butter

Anchovy Butter
6 anchovy fillets
25g (1ozs/1/4 stick) unsalted butter

4 slices of good quality white yeast bread

8 deep ovenproof pots or ramekins (75ml/3fl ozs) (we use shot glasses)
bain-marie

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Whisk the cream and milk with the egg yolks and the finely grated cheese. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Whisk again. Brush the inside of the pots with melted butter. Divide the mixture between the pots.

Fill a bain-marie with hot water, put the pots into the bain-marie, the water should come about 2/3 way up the sides. Cover the tops with a sheet of silicone paper. Depending on the depth of the ramekin, bake for 30-45 minutes in the preheated oven or until the mixture has just set. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Meanwhile, make the anchovy butter.
Mash the anchovies finely with a fork, add the butter and mix well.

Just before serving, toast the bread quickly on both sides. Spread the anchovy butter sparingly on 2 slices of bread and make into sandwiches with the other slices. Press down to seal, trim off the crusts. Cut each in half crosswise and then cut into thin fingers. Put a pot or ramekin on a plate. Arrange a little trellis of anchovy toasts on the side, add a teaspoon. Serve immediately.

Variation:- Wild Garlic Custards
Serves 8

3 tablespoons wild garlic, finely chopped

Add to the custard just before pouring into the ramekins, serve with a few fingers of plain toast.

Leek Flamiche

There are many variations on this theme, some have no cheese, others no bacon. Similar leek tarts and pies are made in Belgium, France and many parts of the UK, including Wales and Cornwall. One can use the filling to make into a gorgeous pie with pastry underneath and on top, or just on top. Either way it is delicious.
No need to re-cook cooked ham
Serves 6-8

A pre-baked 22.5cm tart shell made with
225g shortcrust pastry – made with
175g flour
75g butter
1 egg yolk and a little water

450g white part of leeks, sliced in 1cm thick rings
50g butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs or 1 large egg and one egg yolk
300ml single cream
100g rindless streaky raw bacon or ham cut into lardons
75g Gruyère, grated

22.5cm tart tin with removable base.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over a gentle heat. When it foams, add the sliced leeks. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, toss, cover and cook gently until soft and tender but not coloured, about 8-10 minutes. Drain if necessary and allow to cool. Cut the bacon or bacon or ham into 5mm lardons. Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add bacon and cook for 5-6 minutes or until slightly golden and cooked through.
Meanwhile whisk the eggs and cream together, stir in the cooled leeks and ham or bacon and most of the cheese. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spoon into the pre-baked tart shell, (It will be full to the top). Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top and bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until just set in the centre and golden on top.
Serve warm.

Coconut and Apricot Fingers

Makes 24

110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) caster sugar
1 organic egg
flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

275 g (10 oz) apricot jam

Coconut topping
1 organic egg
75g (3oz) coconut
110g (4oz) caster sugar

1 large Swiss roll tin 25 x 38cm (10 x 15in)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4. Cream the butter, add the caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Beat well and then stir in the flour. Brush the tin with melted butter. Spread the mixture over the base, then spread the apricot jam evenly over the base. Whisk the egg, then fold in the caster sugar and desiccated coconut.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool. Cut into fingers.

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