I loved Dallas

I
I never imagined for one moment that I would love Dallas, in fact everything I ever heard about Dallas reinforced my gut feeling that I didn’t ever need to go there. Well, as luck would have it I was invited to speak on the influence of the Irish Diaspora at the IACP Conference on Culture and Cuisine in downtown Dallas just a few weeks ago.

IACP which stands for International Association of Culinary Professionals, is a not for profit professional association which provides ongoing education for its members, all of whom are engaged in the food business. The membership encompasses 35 countries and is literally a ‘Who’s who’ of the gastronomic world.

It was originally started as an Association of Cookery Schools in 1978 but less than ten years later its membership had broadened to include food writers, cookbook authors, food stylists and chefs. 

In 1987 the name was changed to IACP and in the past 15 years the membership has risen from 1,100 to over 4,000 – the IACP is now poised to become the pre-eminent professional culinary group in the world.

The four day conference included tours and day trips exploring the distinctive cuisine and culture of Texas, over 60 educational sessions on topics ranging from sustainable aquaculture and obesity to traditional and indigenous foods.

The conference culminated in a huge IACP Awards ceremony and a Denim to Diamonds Texas barbecue.

I had neither denim nor diamonds so I wore my ‘posh frock’ because I was shortlisted for the Cookery Teacher of the Year Award and guess what, I won – what an honour. I was up against Rick Bayless and Andrew Schloss, two of the most highly respected cooking school teachers in America, so it was a huge surprise but nonetheless a real thrill to win what is certainly the equivalent of an Oscar in the culinary world complete with breathtaking suspense and musical crescendos.

I have much to be grateful to the IACP for, I’ve been a member of almost 20 years and have learned an enormous amount at conferences throughout the years as well as making many lifelong friends and business contacts.

In Dallas I learned all about Texas barbecue, something I was blissfully ignorant about before this trip. Well, a Texas barbecue is nothing like our barbecue which they refer to as grilling, it’s a whole different thing, its all about ribs, succulent juicy smoked ribs, brisket and smoked sausage. Brisket is big in Dallas, it pops up all over the place. We had delicious brisket tacos in Mattito’s Tex Mex Restaurant, having waited ‘in line’ for over 30 minutes.

The best barbecue we had was at Sammy’s Barbeque, a legendary neighbourhood spot in downtown Leonard Street, grey cement floors, old brick walls, heavy timber counters, lots of neon and no nonsense. It was full of locals who were there for their regular fix and knew exactly what they wanted. We dithered at the counter while the Mexican cooks waited to know if we wanted Sliced Beef and barbecue sauce, or Sausage and barbecue sauce, or Ribs and barbecue sauce, all those came with ‘two sides’ of your choice, coleslaw, potato salad, Mexican beans, Caesar salad, Spinach and carrot salad, or a delicious Baked potato casserole, oozing with sour cream, scallions, crispy bacon and grated red cheddar.

There was also pulled pork or brisket in soft squishy buns. The old wooden tables were covered with a fancy green check oil cloth and lots of bottles of hot sauce, mustard and ketchup. We ate outside at wire tables, amongst the hay bales and geraniums and relished every morsel – it was a serious calorie fest but every morsel was delicious, the owner showed me his smoker which he himself designed 13 years ago. He marinates the brisket overnight and then cooks and smokes 20 at a time. He wraps them while they are still warm to keep them ‘real tender’ and they really were succulent and lip-smackingly good.

Dessert was Apple pie, Pecan pie, Lemon bars, Brownies or whole pies. The menu clearly stated ‘prices subject to change without notice’ but it was very reasonable.

The other big discovery on this trip was the new Whole Foods in Austin. According to Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, everyone in Austin is talking about Whole Foods – it’s the new hot topic of conversation, like real estate in LA, Whole Foods is a chain of ‘organic’ supermarkets which originated in Austin. However, the new venture which has everyone buzzing, is being hailed as the yardstick by which supermarkets will be measured in the future. Whole Foods have wisely capitalized on changing attitudes to food – they’ve managed to commodify authenticity, and they’ve connected into the fun thing. The cool crowd are riding their bikes to Whole Foods on a Saturday, it’s the place to see and been seen ‘not the way I remember the rock and roll crowd’ quipped Russ Parsons. People are now using a trip to Whole Foods as a social connection. There are little groceries within the shop, back to the old values, cheese and cured meats are cut to order, all labels are hand written. Its all about food with a story, the name of the farmer where it was grown – Alleluia! – hope it catches on here as we all gallop headlong in the other direction despite my best efforts to encourage everyone to buy local food and serve it proudly.

Acme Chophouse Beef Short Ribs

Peggy Knickerbocker, a journalist and cookbook author from San Francisco who visited the school recently, shared this delicious recipe with us.
These short ribs are meltingly tender and packed with flavour, their meat falling off the bone. 

Here, each person gets two ribs bones. Start the dish a day or two in advance as the flavors improve as a result of overnight marinating and slow cooking. At Acme Chophouse in San Francisco the short ribs are accompanied by roasted cippolini onions and baby heirloom carrots. You could serve the meat and their luscious juices over a slice of crisp garlic rubbed toast, to sop up the juices.

Since the meat is a fatty cut, it benefits from being placed in the refrigerator after cooking, so the fat can rise to the surface and be removed. This is a great party dish as it can be made ahead of time and gently reheated.

Serves 6 plus

5 pounds beef short ribs cut into pieces, 2 - to 3 inches long

For marinating: 

1 bottle full-bodied red wine
1 - 2 yellow onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
6 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme

For braising:

2fl. ozs (50ml), extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 quarts chicken or beef stock

For serving

4 slices toasted country bread
1 clove garlic
5 chives, finely chopped, or a handful of chopped parsley

Put the meat in a large bowl that will not react with wine. Lay the vegetables and aromatics over the top and cover with the wine. If you need a little more wine to cover, add it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the meat from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F/160C/ gas3. Lift the meat out of the marinade and pat dry with paper towels, put on a large platter. Mix the flour together with a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the meat, on all sides.

Heat two large shallow heavy casseroles over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to each. Shaking any excess flour off of the short ribs, add them, one by one, to the pans, do not crowd. Season each side of the short ribs with salt and pepper again. Turning them with tongs, brown them on all sides to a deep mahogany, about 10 minutes all together. Transfer to a deep heavy baking dish or roasting pan with a lid.

Strain off the wine and the vegetables into a bowl. Return one of the pans to the top of the stove over medium heat. Pour in the retained wine/vegetables and stir up the crispy bits from having browned the meat. Allow the wine to reduce and the vegetables to become tender at the edges, about 15 minutes. Pour the vegetables, aromatics, and wine on top of the browned ribs. Pour on the stock. Cut a piece of parchment to fit on top of the ribs; then cover with the lid of the pan.

Place in the oven and cook until the meat falls off the bone, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. When done, allow the meat to cool in its juices. Transfer the ribs to another fairly deep baking dish. Strain the vegetables and aromatics and discard, retaining the cooking juices. Place the juices in a bowl in the refrigerator, allowing the fat to rise to the surface, for at least an hour. Scoop off and discard the fat. Return the cooking liquid to a pot and reduce again for about 15 minutes. Pour it over the ribs. The dish can be cooled and refrigerated at this point for a day or two. To serve, bring the meat to room temperature and warm it over medium low heat. Serve in a shallow bowl with a slice of toasted country bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic. Scatter chopped chives over the top.

Whole Rib Eye

From Texas Hot Chefs, Bill Cauble and Cliff Teinert’s new cookbook ‘Barbecue, Biscuits and Beans.
Serves 15-20

1 whole rib eye with lip on (14-15lbs/6.00- 6.6 kg
4 tablesp. freshly ground black pepper
2 quantities brisket rub (see below)

Brisket Rub:

2 tablesp. Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablesp. sea salt
1 teasp. garlic powder
1 teasp. onion powder
1 teasp. dried parsley
1 tablesp. chilli powder
1 teasp. oregano
1 teasp. sugar

In a pan large enough to hold the rib eye, place it fat side down. Coat generously with brisket rub and freshly ground black pepper. Roll meat and coat fat side. Pat rub and pepper onto the ends.

Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C/regulo 4. Roast for 3 ½ - 4 hours.

Cut lip off before serving. Slice into ¾ inch slices and serve.

You could also cook on the barbecue – place over medium-hot coals, 30-32 inches above the coals. Using clean gloves or thick cloth, turn rib eye once or twice, never cooking it very long with the fat side down. When cooking Whole Rib Eyes, you may use a large fork, but only pierce the fatty lip with the fork – never the meat. Allow 4 hours for medium rare (140F) and 4½ hours for medium (160F)

When meat has reached desired temperature, take off coals and let rest 10 minutes. Slice as above.

Chicken –Fried steak with Gravy – from ‘Barbecues, Biscuits and Beans.’

Serves 12-14

7-8 lb (3.2-3.6kg) cubed steak or lean round steak, cut into hand-sized pieces
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
1 teasp. salt
2 tablesp. pepper
4 cups vegetable oil
¼ cup flour
4 cups milk
1 teasp. fresh ground pepper

Beat eggs, mix with milk in 3 inch deep round pan. Place flour in similar pan.

Season meat with salt and pepper; place 4 to 5 pieces in milk mixture and allow to stand while heating 1½ - 2 inches of oil in large iron casserole. Heat oil to 350F. Dredge meat in flour one piece at a time, back in milk, and again in flour. Place in hot oil and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

While first batch is cooking, prepare next batch of steaks to be dipped just as previous batch is removed from frying pan.
Save browned bits in oil for making Steak Gravy.

Steak Gravy

Leave about ¼ cup oil and browned bits in skillet. Add enough flour to absorb oil, approximately ¼ cup.
Stirring constantly, add milk, about 4 cups, and continue stirring until gravy reaches a smooth consistency. Thicker is usually preferred.

Add 1 teasp. freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat and serve, or keep warm and stir again before serving.

These recipes are written in American cup measurements – 1 cup = 8 fl.ozs/ 225ml

Luscious Lemon Bars

Makes 24
Biscuit base

180gm (6½ oz) plain white flour
50gm (2 oz ) icing sugar
225gm (8 oz ) unsalted butter

Topping

4 free range eggs
450gms (1lb ) castor sugar
200mls (7 fl oz) of freshly squeezed lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
and rind of 3 lemons
4 level tablesp. of plain white flour
½ teaspoon. baking powder

Icing sugar

1 Swissroll tin 32cm.x 22cm. (13"x9") 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4

Mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl, rub in the butter. Scatter onto the tin, cover with cling film, roll flat with a rolling pin. Remove the cling film and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes approx. or until pale golden.

Meanwhile make the topping. 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl; add the sugar and lemon rind and juice, then whisk in the flour and baking powder. Pour over the hot base. Continue to bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the surface is golden and set. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or fingers. Dredge with icing sugar and serve.

Texas Pecan Pie

Serves 8-10
4 ozs (110g) butter
8 ozs (225g) golden syrup 
7 ozs (200g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, preferably free-range, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
72 ozs (215g) fresh Pecan halves
Pinch of salt

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

6 ozs (170g) plain white flour
3 ozs (85g) butter
12 ozs (45g) castor sugar
1 large egg, beaten and a little water if necessary
9 inch (23 cm) unbaked pie shell made with sweet short-crust pastry (see recipe)

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way. Cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Line the flan ring. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/regulo 7.

Brown the butter until golden, be careful not to burn it, allow to cool. In a bowl add the other ingredients in the order listed. Stir, blend in the nuts and browned butter. Pour into the tart shell and bake at 220C/425F/regulo 7 for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160C/325F/regulo 3 for 50 minutes more, until set in the centre.

Serve warm or cold with softly whipped cream.

Foolproof Food

Broadway Coleslaw

Serves 10
12 ozs (340 g) red cabbage, diced into ¼ inch dice
12 ozs (340 g) green cabbage, diced into ¼ inch dice
2½ ozs (70 g) red onion, diced into ¼ inch dice, rinsed under cold water
½-2 cucumber diced into ¼ inch dice
1-2 apples, diced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
4 fl ozs (110 g) Ballymaloe Cookery School Dressing (see recipe)
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in dressing. Taste and correct seasoning. This salad often needs a good pinch of sugar.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Dressing

This dressing may also be used to toss green salad.
4fl ozs (125ml/½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp English mustard powder OR
½ tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper and Maldon sea salt

Put all the ingredients into a small bowl or jam jar. Whisk with a fork until the dressing has emulsified.
Whisk well before use.

Hot Tips

Dallas - If you do manage to get to Dallas, spare some time to visit the Nasher Sculpture Centre on 2001 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201. Tel 214 242 5100 www.nashersculpturecenter.org 

If you make it before the end of May, don’t miss the Splendors of China’s Forbidden City at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Garryvoe Hotel have recently opened their very stylish new extension – reception area, bar and restaurant – wishing them continued success.
353 (0) 21 464 6718  
Garryvoe Hotel


Ballymaloe House has just won the Restaurant of the Year Award, sponsored by Bushmills – congratulations to all concerned.

Fabulous Food Fair in Co Tipperary Sunday 3rd July 12-6– Tipp FM is delighted to offer all quality food providers a unique forum in which to display and sell their quality food. To book a stand contact Noreen Condon 087-2795900 or Geraldine Henchion 087-2523215.

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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