Summer

S

Oh my goodness, the weather would drive you to the drink. I am often at a loss to know what to cook for supper, one minute there is thunder and lightning and flash floods, within half an hour one could be searching for a deck chair to enjoy the scorching sun.

This evening I had planned to have a gorgeous salad of summer vegetables for supper with some soused mackerel but the weather changed again, there’s a howling gale and pelting rain and no one will thank me for a cold supper. So I think I’ll cook a neck of lamb moussaka that we tested recently, which we all loved. Neck of lamb is deliciously sweet and terrifically good value for money.

I also love a little streaky bacon glazed – that’s a good plan because I can serve that hot or cold so I can be ready for ‘figaries’ of the Irish Summer. Served hot it would be delicious with a fondue of ripe tomatoes, some beans and a few floury potatoes. If the sun is perchance splitting the stones, I’ll serve it with a few salads. Our heirloom tomatoes have just come on stream, a variety of beautiful juicy fruit in odd shapes and colours with bizarre names. They make the most beautiful salads. Simply sprinkle the thick slices of fruit with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Halve a lemon and squeeze it over, add lots of fresh mint or basil and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Taste and tweak until the balance is right. Irish cucumbers are also in season at present, try this salad with radishes and Irish cucumber.

Hard-Boiled Eggs with Anchovy, Pepper and Flat Parsley


I also love this salad, a lovely little supper dish on its own.
Serves 4-8

8 organic eggs
115ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly on a microplane
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 5mm (1/4in) dice
8 – 12 anchovies, either salted or in vinegar
flat parsley leaves
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
lots of crusty bread and rocket leaves

Hard-boil the eggs. Cool, peel, wash and split in half lengthways. Arrange in a single layer, cut side up, on a serving dish. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic slices. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until pale golden (careful not to burn or the garlic will turn bitter and acrid). Reduce the temperature, add the pepper and toss for no more than a minute. Turn off the heat, cool, and add the chopped anchovy. Spoon over the hard-boiled eggs and top with snipped flat parsley. Season with freshly cracked pepper and a little sea salt. Serve with crusty bread and rocket leaves.

Cucumber, Radish, Feta, Flat Parsley and Nigella Seeds

Serves 6-8

1 cucumber

2 bunches radishes

225g (8oz) feta, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

lots of flat parsley sprigs and mint leaves

1 – 2 tablespoons nigella seeds

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then in half again. Cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice. Trim the radishes and cut into similar size pieces. Mix the cucumber and feta in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Toss gently, add lots of flat parsley and fresh mint leaves. Taste and correct seasoning. Sprinkle with nigella seeds.

 

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall has a unique selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval. They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.

Serves 4

 

8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey

3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves

 

Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the oil and honey together and add ‘torn’ basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. Taste, correct seasoning if necessary. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.

 

Cooked Baby Carrots

1 lb (450g) carrots, Early Nantes and Autumn King have particularly good flavour

4 fl ozs (100ml) cold water

Pinch of salt

A good pinch of sugar

 

Cut off the tops and tips, scrub and peel thinly if necessary. Leave very young carrots whole. Put them in a saucepan with water, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a gentle heat until tender, by which time the liquid should have all been absorbed into the carrots, but if not remove the lid and increase the heat until all the water has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning.

 

 

Emer Fitzgerald’s Braised Lamb Neck Moussaka

Serves 8

2 x lamb necks (approximately 1.6kgs / 3 ½ lbs in total)

450g (1 lb) onions

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 x 400g / 14oz cans of chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves chopped

800ml lamb stock

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

2 aubergines (500g /18oz) in total

500g (18oz) potatoes, scrubbed well

50g (2oz) raisins

Cheese Sauce:

45g (1 ½ oz) butter

45g (1 ½ oz) flour

600ml (1 pint) milk

1 bay leaf

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon of cream

4oz grated Gruyere cheese

Equipment

1 earthenware dish 25.5 x 21.5cm (10 x 8 1/2 inch)

1 large casserole

Preheat oven to 150º/ 300°F/ Mark 2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large casserole dish. Season the lamb necks with salt and freshly ground pepper. Brown the meat on all sides in the oil. Remove and place on a plate. Add the onions and garlic to the casserole, cook over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg and chopped marjoram. Season with salt and pepper and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the lamb stock and bring to the boil. Add back in the lamb necks. Cover the casserole and place in a preheated oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours or until tender. The meat should be falling off the bone.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted until two thirds cooked. Peel and slice into 5mm (1/4 inch) slices.

Slice the aubergine into ½ inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and allow to de-gorge in a colander for half an hour. Preheat a grill pan. Pat the aubergines dry, toss in olive oil. Cook in a preheated grill pan until golden on both sides. When the lamb is cooked, remove from the braising liquid. Coarsely shred the lamb, removing any bones or sinew. Strain the vegetables from the liquid and add to the lamb. Moisten this mixture with some of the braising liquid (3 – 4 tablespoons) Season to taste and add the raisins.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Harissa and Chickpea Salad

This is one of our new favourites, if the weather is hot; this is perfect for the barbeque

Serves 8

1 butterflied leg of lamb (1.5kg/3lb 5oz approximately)

100g (3 1/2oz) harissa (see Fool Proof Food)

zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

Chickpea Salad

700g (1 1/2lb) dried chickpeas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4onions, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

Dressing

175ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

50ml (2fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

salt and freshly ground pepper

To Serve

3 tablespoons coriander, chopped

3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

150mls (5 1/2fl oz/scant) natural yoghurt

Barbeque or preheated oven to 180°C/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.

Night Before

Mix the harissa with the zest and freshly squeezed juice of the lemon. Place the lamb in a large bowl. Pierce some holes in the lamb with the tip of a sharp knife – this will allow the marinade to penetrate into the meat. Pour the marinade over the lamb and rub in well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cover the dried chickpeas in plenty of cold water. Allow to soak overnight.

Next Day

Drain the chickpeas, put into a saucepan. Cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Heat the oil in a saucepan; sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Then allow to become golden and caramelised.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a bowl.

Remove the meat from the marinade, place on the barbecue near the coals to seal in the juices on each side. Raise the grill and cook for 20 minutes on each side, occasionally basting with the remaining marinade. Alternatively put on a roasting tray and roast in a moderate oven for 1 – 1 1/2 hours depending on how well you like it cooked.

When the chickpeas are cooked, drain and toss immediately with the caramelised onions, garlic and dressing. Allow to come to room temperature.

When the lamb is cooked, remove from the grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Toss the freshly chopped herbs through the chickpea salad. Slice the meat thinly; serve with chickpea salad and a blob of yoghurt.

Darina’s Birthday Cake

Duck eggs are renowned for making a lighter, yellower sponge cake than hen’s eggs, and are, as such, much sought after. This sponge is interesting because the whites, rather than the yolks, are beaten with the sugar, which is opposite to the way most whisked-up sponges are made.

Serves 8

3 duck eggs

75g (3oz) caster sugar

75g (3oz) and an extra dessertspoon flour

2 x 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins

Filling

 

4 ozs (225g) home-made strawberry jam

10 fl ozs (285g) whipped cream

 

Decoration

A selection of Summer berries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries…

4 fl oz whipped cream

icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Line the base of the tins with a round of silicone paper. Brush the base and sides with melted butter and dust with white flour.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Put the whites and sugar into a bowl and whisk until stiff, preferably in an electric mixer. Whisk in the yolks one by one and then fold in the sieved flour, making sure not to deflate the mixture. Divide the mixture between 2 prepared tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. Turn out carefully and cool on a wire rack. Sandwich together with a layer of homemade strawberry jam, a layer of freshly whipped cream. Sprinkle with sieved icing sugar over the top. Serve on an old fashioned plate with a doyley. Pipe rosettes of the remaining cream and arrange the berries on top.

Fool Proof Food

Harissa

Makes 100g (3 1/2oz)

10 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes

5 fresh red chillies

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Deseed and roughly chop the dried and fresh chillies. Put in a food processor with the garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and olive oil. Whizz until smooth.

Store in a jar with a layer of olive oil over the top. It will keep for 3 months.

Thrifty Tip

If you have left over potatoes from a meal, peel and cube them while they are still warm, toss them in French dressing, add chopped scallions, parsley and a few dollops of mayonnaise for a delish potato salad.

 

Hottips

The Merrion Hotel

. If you feel like a little treat to cheer yourself up the Merrion Hotel in Dublin has some attractive offers at present. Telephone 01 603 0600 to enquire about The Merrion Gourmet Experience or visit their website http://www.merrionhotel.com/index.php Good Food Ireland

launched their exciting new website on 29th July 2009. One can now book good food holidays directly.

Visit www.goodfoodireland.ie/index.cfm/section/special to avail of all the latest special offers.

The award winning Lemon Tree Café

in Dunmore East is worth knowing about for their fresh ‘catch of the day’. We loved their open crab sandwich on their homemade brown bread and the freshly baked cakes and chocolate chip brownies. www.lemontreecatering.ie or telephone 051 383164.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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