Paul Flynn, chef-patron of the Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan bounced into the cookery school last week, looking every inch a mischievous little boy in a chef’s rigout. He was all set to do a master-class as a finale to their 12 week Certificate Course. I didn’t know it then but he’d confessed to Emer (who assisted him), that he was scared to death because this was only the second demonstration he had ever done in his life. Well, I have to tell you he’s a complete natural, the students were spellbound from the outset, can’t think why RTE haven’t snapped him up ages ago. His self-deprecating humour and passion for food had the students – all 10 nationalities, drooling over all kinds of unmentionable bits of pig that they wouldn’t have dreamed of cooking before.
Paul, spent nine years with the irrepressible Nico Ladenis in London, and many more with Marco Pierre White before opening his own restaurant in his home town with his wife Maire. Running his own place with a free hand to cook whatever he fancied proved to be quite a learning curve, as he and his curious customers got the measure of each other. It wasn’t long before the word got out to lovers of good food that it was well worth making a detour to lovely Dungarvan, to Paul and Maire’s minimalist restaurant.
The food has won many accolades and has recently been voted ‘Best Restaurant in Munster’ by Food and Wine Magazine. Paul wrote a highly entertaining column in the Irish Times Magazine for several years which formed the basis of his recently published cookbook: An Irish Adventure with Food named as Cookbook of the Year, also by Food and Wine Magazine.
This is a highly personal account of Paul’s love affair with food and his fascination with fresh seasonal ingredients. He writes brilliantly and wittily – the book is peppered with wonderful quotes that can’t fail to get even the most blasé disinterested cook excited about even the most mundane ingredients, eg “Parsnips are fantastic. I like the way they lie in greengrocers, ugly and muddy, crying out to be scrubbed and peeled to reveal their creamy flesh”. He loves cooking offal and the cheaper cuts of meat.
He bemoaned the passing of ox cheek, “meltingly delicious, as rich as Bill Gates”, no longer available from Irish butchers because of the ox heads being sent to the SRM licensed disposal plants to be incinerated. His demonstration was entitled ‘Piggy Pleasure’, so he cooked us lots of delicious dishes with the succulent cheaper cuts of pork and bacon. Spring rolls filled with crubeens and served with choucroute and apple and cinnamon butter. A ham hock terrine made with shoulder of bacon with sage and onion, Glazed belly of pork with Savoy cabbage, celeriac and potato puree.
While he waited for the pork to caramelise in the oven he whipped up a bacon and cabbage risotto which he raised to fluffy new heights with a few spoonfuls of horseradish cream borrowed from the terrine – modern Irish fusion food at its very best.
We had no dessert but I rather fancy his banana gingerbread served with a few extra caramelised bananas. Paul’s book has recently been awarded the ‘Cookbook of the Year’, so you’ll need to rush out to secure a copy before Christmas.
An ideal present for a foodie friend or maybe a gift token for lunch at the Tannery would whet the appetite to start experimenting yourself.
‘An Irish Adventure with Food’ by Paul Flynn, published in Cork by the Collins Press.
The Tannery, Dungarvan, Tel. 058-45420
Honey & Ginger Roasted Parsnips
(from An Irish Adventure with Food by Paul Flynn)
These are essential Sunday lunch grub, golden, crispy and glistening.
8 small parsnips (peeled and with the tops cut off)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
50g (2oz) butter
1 good tablespoon of honey
1 pinch of ground ginger
1 tablespoon toasted almonds
Cook your parsnips in boiling salted water until they are three-quarters cooked. Remove from the water and allow to cool. You can take your parsnips to this stage beforehand. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/gas 4. Heat the oil in a roasting tray on the hob and add the parsnips. Turn round in the oil for a couple of minutes then place in the oven for 10 minutes, turning once or twice. They should be starting to get brown and crispy. Drain off any excess oil then add the butter, honey and ground ginger, salt and pepper. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes taking care the honey doesn’t burn by shaking the tray and rolling the parsnips round every so often until they get a nice amber colour. Remove from the oven, put into a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.
Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies with Special Hot Chocolate
(from An Irish Adventure with Food by Paul Flynn)
Makes 25 cookies (approx.)
150g /5oz butter
75g /3oz caster sugar
75g /3oz ground hazelnuts
pinch baking soda
225g/8oz small chocolate pieces of good quality plain chocolate
Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the hazelnuts, flour, baking soda. Beat until the mixture comes together. Add the chocolate chips. Divide in two halves and roll in clingfilm into a sausage shape to refrigerate for one hour. When ready to use, peel away the clingfilm. Cut in half centimetre slices and place on a greased baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven, 170C/gas 3 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If you wish you can freeze this mixture to be taken out when you fancy.
Special Hot Chocolate
600ml/1 pint milk
225g/8oz good quality plain chocolate, chopped
sugar to taste
Boil the milk, pour on top of the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add sugar to taste. This can be laced with your favourite liqueur. Try Tia Maria, Cointreau, Amaretto or Brandy.
Terrine of ham hock with sage and onion
Serves about 10
1 shoulder of bacon – boiled and kept in bacon water. This can be done a day or two before.
1 2lb loaf tin lined with cling film that overlaps the edges
1 large onion finely diced
1 handful fresh sage, finely chopped
1 handful of prunes in Armagnac, moderately chopped (or some prunes soaked in tea may be used)
75 g/ 3 oz butter
1 splash of sherry or cider vinegar, optional
Boil the ham until falling off the bone. Then allow to come to room temperature. Then chop into 2 cm pieces along with most of the fat. This is essential to make it stick together.
Sweat the onions very gently until they are a golden colour. Then add the sage. There must be no bite to the onions at all. Add a little salt and black pepper to the onions, then add the ham. Now add the chopped prunes and splash of vinegar. Mix everything together and pile into the terrine or loaf tin as tightly as you can. Bring the clingfilm back from the sides and overlap on the top, piercing four or five holes in it. Place the terrine in the fridge for two hours to set a little, then take out again and at this point you need to get a piece of wood or strong plastic to use as a press. This should just fit into the top of the tin. (A handyman or woman might knock that up for you). Place a heavy weight (3 or 4 kg) on top. (a few bags of sugar will do the trick). Refrigerate overnight and turn out. Slice, present and accept acclamation. Serve with toast and chutneys. This keeps for 2/3 days. (Ideal for around Christmas time)
(from An Irish Adventure with Food by Paul Flynn)
This makes one 900g/2lb loaf tin
225g/8oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
110g/4 oz treacle
110g/4 oz butter
110g/4 oz Demerara sugar
175g/6 oz golden syrup
3 ripe bananas
This is combination of bananabread and gingerbread. It freezes superbly. Its great for an afternoon tea and its light enough to be used as a dessert, which we do in the restaurant.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas 2½. Mix the flour and ginger in a bowl. Melt together the treacle, butter, sugar and golden syrup. Beat the egg and mash the bananas well. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Leave to rest for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out on a wire tray.
This is delicious with some whipped cream and a dash of maple syrup. If you want to go a little further, caramelise some bananas, (see recipe), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
To reheat, slice and place in the microwave for a very short time: a few seconds should do it.
4 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar
Peel the bananas, cut them in half lengthways and half them again.
Cover the cut side of the bananas with the sugar and slowly caramelise with the gun or glaze under the grill until all the sugar has turned to caramel.
Makes 3.2 kilos approx.
2 cooking apples, eg. Bramley Seedling
450 g/1lb beef suet or butter – chilled and grated
pinch of salt
110 g/4oz mixed peel (preferably home-made)
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
225 g/8oz currants
450 g/1lb sultanas
900 g/2lb Barbados sugar (moist, soft, dark-brown)
62 ml Irish whiskey
Core and bake the whole apples in a moderate oven, 180C350F/regulo 4, for 45 minutes approx. Allow to cool. When they are soft, remove the skin and mash the flesh into pulp. Grate the rind from the lemons on the finest part of a stainless steel grater and squeeze out the juice. Add the other ingredients one by one, and as they are added, mix everything thoroughly. Put into jars, cover with jam covers and leave to mature for 2 weeks before using. This mincemeat will keep for a year in a cool, airy place.
Some ideas for Christmas presents –
Gift token or an apple tree from Irish Seedsavers Association, Capparoe, Scariff, Co Clare. Tel 061-921866
Hamper from Sheridans Cheesemongers – Tel 01-6793143 or 046-30373 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hamper or voucher for Country Choice in Nenagh – Tel. 067-32596
Gift subscription for Food and Wine Magazine – Tel 01-240 5324 – Food and Wine Subscriptions, Smurfit Communications, 2 Clanwilliam Court, Lr Mount St. Dublin 2
Clodagh McKenna will be doing little hampers of her pates with chutney – available from Urru in Bandon, Cook and Vine in Skibbereen, The Courtyard in Schull, Clonakilty Old Store, The Ballymaloe Shop – also from her stall in Midleton, Clonakilty and Bantry Markets. Tel. 087-8631602.
For glamorous foodies – Jo Malone cosmetics are offering wonderful scents and creams with flavours of mandarin, basil and lime. .. from Brown Thomas in Dublin.
Fruition Fruit Baskets – for all occasions including Christmas – finest seasonal fruit – nationwide delivery – contact Grainne O’Kane at 01-672 9676 or 086-8290835, email@example.com www.fruition.ie