How about having a little party to celebrate Midsummer and all the beautiful fresh produce springing forth from the garden and Farmers Markets?
The first of the new season Home-guard potatoes are now bursting out of their jackets to be enjoyed with a few flakes of sea salt and a lump of good Irish butter. Weâ€™ve been enjoying broad beans for the past few weeks and eating them in every conceivable way, even using the pods for soup. If you grow your own you wonâ€™t want to waste a scrap â€“ freshness is of paramount importance to everything but most particularly broad beans and peas which go mealy within a few hours of being picked. We love to pick them just before dinner, it only takes a few minutes and then involved everyone in the shelling as they sip an aperitif, it may not be your idea of a good time but its lots of fun and most people have never enjoyed the tactile experience of taking broad beans our of their fur lined pods, something not to be missed. The hedgerows are bursting with elderflowers and the green gooseberries are ready to pick â€“ youâ€™ll need to be quick because they are ripening fast, soon theyâ€™ll be too sweet for really good tarts and compotes. The combination of the two flavours is one of the most magical of the entire summer. Here I suggest an elderflower Pannacotta with green gooseberry and elderflower compote. Itâ€™s pretty served in little Moroccan tea glasses or small narrow water glasses. For main course how about a roast organic chicken with fresh peas, cream and chervil and flowery new potatoes. Follow that with a salad of summer leaves and fresh herbs and flowers.
Alternatively make a risotto and add the blanched and skinned broad beans and lots of summer savoury. If youâ€™d prefer a cool pudding make some vanilla ice cream to serve with the gooseberry and elderflower compote both can be made ahead and each are exquisite it their own way. Buy a little prosecco to make a toast to Midsummer.
Organic Chicken Roast with Two Lemons
This recipe given to me by Marcella Hazan, is the simplest most delicious roast chicken recipe I know – no fat, no basting, and no stuffing. We use Dan Ahernâ€™s organic chickens. (021) 4631058
1 x 3-4 lb (1.35-1.8kg) free range organic chicken
freshly ground black pepper
2 small organic lemons
Trussing needle and string
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.
Wash the chicken thoroughly with cold water. Remove any bits of fat from around the vent end. Drain the chicken well and dry thoroughly with a tea towel or kitchen paper.
Rub the salt and freshly ground black pepper with your fingers over all the body and into the cavity. Wash the lemons well and dry them with a tea towel, roll on the counter and prick each of the lemons in at least 20 places with a cocktail stick or skewer.
Put both lemons in the cavity. Close up the opening with cocktail sticks or with a trussing needle and string. Don’t make it absolutely airtight or the chicken may burst!
Put the chicken into a roasting pan, breast side down. Do not add cooking fat of any kind. This bird is self-basting, so don’t worry it won’t stick to the pan. Place it in the upper third of the preheated oven. After 30 minutes, turn the chicken breast side up. Be careful not to puncture the skin.
Cook for another 30-35 minutes then increase the heat to 200C/400F/regulo 6, and cook for a further additional 20 minutes. Calculate between 20-25 minutes total cooking time for each 1 lb (500g). There is no need to turn the chicken again.
Bring the chicken to the table whole, garnished with sprigs flat parsley and leave the lemons inside until it is carved. The juices that run out are perfectly delicious, so be sure to spoon them over the chicken slices. The lemons will have shrivelled up but they still contain some juice; do not squeeze, they may squirt.
Risotto with Broad Beans, Peas, Green Asparagus and Sugar Snaps
Risotto makes a comforting delicious starter or main course
225g (Â½ lb) broad beans
225g (Â½ lb) peas
115g (Â¼ lb) sugar snaps
6 stalks green asparagus
40g (1Â½ oz) butter
110g (4oz) onions finely chopped
400g (14oz) Carnaroli, Vilano, Nano or Arboria rice
1.7-2L (3-3Â½ pints) Homemade chicken stock
80ml (3 fl oz) white wine
25g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring 600ml (1 pint) water to the boil, add salt, the broad beans and cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until almost tender, drain and refresh in cold water. Slip the beans out of their shells. Meanwhile cook the sugar snaps again in boiling salted water until al dente, then cook the asparagus for just 4 or 5 minutes and finally the peas for 3 or 4 minutes. Do this while cooking the risotto if you can keep your eye on several pots at the same time.
To start the risotto, bring the chicken stock to the boil at the back of the cooker and keep at a low simmer. Melt 25g (1oz) of butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not coloured, and add the rice and a generous pinch of salt. Stir the rice over the heat for 2-3 minutes or until it turns translucent, then increase the heat and add the dry white wine. When the wine has evaporated, add a couple of ladles full of stock, stir and reduce the heat to medium, keep stirring and as soon as the liquid has been almost absorb, add another ladle full and so on, stirring all the time. After about 10 minutes, add the beans, peas, sugar snaps and continue to ladle in more stock as it is absorb. After about 5 minutes, taste the rice, it should be just cooked, stir in the remainder of the butter, freshly grated Parmesan and the asparagus sliced into 1Â¼ inch pieces at an angle. Add a little more stock if necessary, the risotto should be soft and loose. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve immediately in hot bowls with more Parmesan to sprinkle over the top.
Green Salad with Edible Flowers
Prepare a selection of salad leaves: mild lettuce (eg. the common butterhead) as the basis of the salad and as many of the following as you care to or can put in:
finely chopped parsley, mint or any herbs of your fancy, spring onions, dice of cucumber, mustard and cress, watercress, the white tips of cauliflower, tips of purple sprouting broccoli, iceberg lettuce, cos, raddichio, oakleaf, Chinese leaves, rocket, salad burnet, and any other interesting lettuces available and add some edible flowers, eg. marigold petals, nasturtium flowers, borage flowers, chive flowers, rocket blossoms etc. one or all of these or some other herb flowers could be added. Toss with a well flavoured dressing just before serving.
This salad could be served as a basis for a starter salad or as an accompanying salad to be main course. Remember to use a little restraint with the flowers!
Ballymaloe Cookery School Summer Salad Dressing
4fl ozs (110ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder OR1/2 teaspoon 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.
Roast Beetroot with Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar
Our new seasonâ€™s beetroot are the size of table tennis balls by now and are so sweet and delicious; try roasting instead of boiling them for extra sweetness.
6-12 baby beetroot, a mixture of red, golden and Choggia would be wonderful
Maldon Sea Salt
freshly cracked pepper
extra virgin olive oil
175g (6oz) goat cheese -Ardsallagh or St. Tola
rocket and beetroot leaves
wild garlic leaves if available
Preheat the oven to 230Â°C/450Â°F/regulo 8
Wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and roast in the oven until soft and cooked through – 30mins to an hour depending on size.
Rub off the skins of the beetroot, keep whole or cut into quarters. Toss in extra virgin olive oil.
Scatter a few rocket and tiny beetroot leaves on each serving plate. Arrange a selection of warm beetroot on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Put a dessert spoonful of goat cheese beside the beetroot. Sprinkle with Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with tiny beet greens or wild garlic flowers and serve.
Pannacotta with Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote
600ml (1 pint) double cream
1-2 vanilla pods split lengthways
50g (2 ozs) castor sugar
scant 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
2 tablespoons water
Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote
900g (2 lbs) green gooseberries
2 or 3 elderflower heads
600ml (1 pint) cold water
450g (1 lb) sugar
gooseberry leaves (optional)
softly whipped cream
soft brown Barbados sugar
6-8 moulds (3-4 fl ozs/75-110ml) lightly brushed with non scented oil – sunflower or arachide
First make the Pannacotta. Put the cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the split vanilla pods and castor sugar. Put on a low heat and bring to the shivery stage. Meanwhile, â€˜spongeâ€™ the gelatine in the water. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatine is dissolved. Add a little of the cream to the gelatine, then stir both mixtures together. Remove the vanilla pods, and then pour into the moulds. When cold, cover and refrigerate until set, preferably overnight.
Next make the compote.
First top and tail the gooseberries. Tie 2 or 3 elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put in a stainless steel or enameled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold. Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.
Put a large gooseberry leaf on a plate. Carefully turn out a wobbly panna cotta onto or beside the leaf, spoon a little compote on to the plate. Put a blob of softly whipped cream to the side. Sprinkle this with soft brown sugar and serve immediately.
Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice-cream
The Ballymaloe Ice-creams are very rich and very delicious, made on an egg mousse base with softly-whipped cream and flavourings added. Ice-creams made in this way have a smooth texture and do not need further whisking during the freezing period. They should not be served frozen hard. Remove from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving.
50g (2oz) sugar
100ml (4fl oz) water
2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
600ml (1pint) softly whipped cream
Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, 106-113Â°C (236Â°F). It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add vanilla extract and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. Fold the softly-whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.
Fool Proof Food
Garden Peas with Chervil and Cream
Really fresh peas from the garden are exquisite that it is difficult to resist eating them all raw as you pod them! Serve these with Organic Roast Chicken with Lemon.
1 lb (450g) garden peas or petit pois, freshly shelled
4 fl oz pint (150ml) water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 sprig mint
1 oz (25g) approx. butter
2 Â½ fl oz cream
1-2 tablespoons of freshly chopped chervil
Bring the water to the boil; add the salt, sugar, mint and the peas. Bring back to the boil and simmer until the peas are cooked, 4-5 minutes. Strain, reserving the water for soup or gravy. Add butter and cream and lots of freshly chopped chervil and a little extra seasoning if necessary. Eat immediately.
Cook extra food the night before so there is enough left over to put into a lunch box to take to work or on a day trip the next day.
The last print edition of the Ecologist is the July issue (on sale June 19th). After that the Ecologist will appear online and will offer even more content and up to the minute debate on the vital issues that affect our world. To sign up for the online newsletter go to www.theecologist.org www.ballymaloe.ie www.isaacsrestaurant.ie www.st-tola.ie
Midsummer Evening Dance
There will be a wonderful evening of music and dance with Art Supple in the Grainstore on Midsummerâ€™s night Sunday 21st June, and Ballymaloe are offering a special rate for that night that includes an overnight stay. Phone (021) 4652531
Isaacs of Cork
Isaacs Restaurant on McCurtain Street Cork has a special treat at the moment. Dinner menu for â‚¬25.00 for a starter, main course, tea or coffee on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Try their French Country Terrine, their Seafood Chowder, grilled Ribeye Steak or their excellent Lamb Curry.
Bookings (021) 450 3805. To see their menus visit their website
Premio Award for St Tolas Cheese
St Tolaâ€™s Goats Cheese won 3rd Prize in the International section of the Premio Roma awards for Ewe and Goats Milk Cheeses recently in Rome Italy. St Tola cheeses are handmade organic cheeses with no additives or preservatives and have been made in Inagh just south of the Burren in County Clare since the early 1980â€™s. Phone (065)6836633 visit their website