We were fortunate to have one of the most beautiful days of the entire summer for the Old Fashioned Threshing Event at Ballymaloe Cookery School. The event was held to raise money for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project, which links up with the local schools to teach the children how to cook, grow vegetables and fresh herbs. They visit the farm and gardens and learn about the chickens and free range pigs and cattle and the importance of rich and fertile soil.
They see the Jersey cows and learn where milk comes from and how butter is made, how to sow a seed, pick a tomato, dry onions… The children are wonderfully curious and enthusiastic and eager to learn.
The class divides in two – the little chefs and little farmers – the latter don their wellies and head off around the farm and vegetable gardens. The chefs tie on their aprons and learn how to cook a variety of dishes and then make lunch for the entire group and their teachers. They lay the table put a little vase of flowers in the centre and then all sit down to enjoy lunch together. After the meal they take the food scraps out to feed the hens and learn that the hens will reward them with eggs the next day. On their return visit the cooks become farmers and vice versa.
East Cork Slow Food also supplies several local schools with a chicken coop plus two hens so children can learn about how food is produced – you can’t imagine how excited both the children and the teachers are when the hen lays an egg. Shanagarry National School is one of a growing number of schools to have a vegetable and herb garden to teach children life skills. The first egg that ‘Ester and Polly’ laid was raffled to raise funds for the school as a result several children have encouraged their parents to grow vegetables and keep hens at home.
On the Old Fashioned Threshing Day, the Mogeely Vintage Club supplied the threshing machine and binder, they worked hard to thresh the wheat while The Bride Valley band played music and local producers, Jane Murphy of Ardsallagh gave people a taste of her goat’s cheese, Noreen Conroy of Woodside Farm, near Midleton had her pork bacon and juicy sausages for sale. Olive Kapil of Green Saffron ladled out steaming bowls of curry made from the fresh spices she and Arun import directly from Kerela in South India. People also queued in the hot sun for Baldwin’s ice cream and Mark Kingston of Golden Bean espressos and creamy cappuccino.
Philip Denhardt spit-roasted one of the free range pigs from the farm and served it in a bap from Cuthbert’s Bakery with homemade apple sauce, mayonnaise and cucumber pickle. Several stalls came from further afield; Peter Gibson from the Pie Man in Galway served delicious little quiches and pies and so did Lily Riley from Lily Riley’s Pantry. Michael and Mary Phelan of Rose Cottage Fruit Farm travelled all the way from Co Laois with their freshly picked strawberries, raspberries, damsons and blueberries.
Inside in the cookery school people could enjoy a threshing dinner with bacon, cabbage, parsley sauce and champ, followed by a big wedge of new season’s apple tart. There were a variety of games for the children, ‘Guess the Veg’, pancake race, ‘aubergine’ shy and a vegetable colouring competition. Roy Daly gave rides on his pony and trap, all this contributed to the East Cork Slow Food Education Fund.
Darina Allen gave two cookery demonstrations – ‘How to Make Homemade Sausages and How to Make Soda Bread and Scones and a lecture on How to keep a few Hens in your Garden – to encourage people to enjoy a degree of self sufficiency.
If you would like to learn more about Slow Food Ireland visit www.slowfoodireland.com
Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Tomato and Spinach Tart
8-10 ozs/225-285 g puff pastry
8 tablespoons Tomato Fondue (see recipe in Irish Examiner January 3rd 2009)
8 ozs/225 g spinach, string, blanched and refreshed
4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
4 ozs/110 g of mature Ardsallagh Goats cheese
4 teaspoons of Tapenade
Extra virgin olive oil
A few Tunisian olives and basil leaves for garnish
Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4
Roll out the pastry very thinly. (i.e. the thickness of a coin). Cut out into 7-8 inch rounds and perforate the surface all over with a fork. Spread each tart base with 2 tablespoons of Tomato Fondue and 1 teaspoon of tapenade. Then divide the spinach between the tarts. Place thin slices of goats cheese overlapping on top of the tarts. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Cook in a moderate hot oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few olives and a couple of basil leaves.
Brown Soda Bread and Scones
Makes 1 loaf
10ozs (300g) brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)
10ozs (300g) plain white flour
1 teaspoon dairy salt
1 teaspoon bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda) sieved
3/4 – 1 pint sour milk or buttermilk
First preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl, make a well in the centre and pour all of the sour milk or buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in a full circle starting in the centre of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Roll around gently with floury hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches (5cm) approx. Sprinkle a little flour onto a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Make with a deep cross and bake in a hot oven 230°C/450°F/regulo 8 for 15-20 minutes, reduce the heat to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6 for approx. 15-20 minutes or until the bread is cooked (In some ovens it is necessary to turn the bread upside down on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before the end of baking) It will sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
One could add 12g (1/2oz) fine oatmeal, 1 egg and 12g (1/2 oz) butter to the above to make richer soda bread dough.
Brown Soda Scones
Make the dough as above. Form it into a round and flatten to 4cm/1 1/2 inch thick approx. Stamp out into scones with a cutter, or cut with a knife. Bake for about 30 minutes in a hot oven (see above).
Note: Bread should always be cooked in a fully pre-heated oven, but ovens vary enormously so it is necessary to adjust the temperature accordingly.
If lighter bread is preferred, use 450g (1 lb) white flour and 150g (5ozs) brown wholemeal flour.
Homemade Pork & Herb Sausages with Brambley Apple & Sweet Geranium Sauce
Makes 16 approx. – Serves 8
1 lb (450g) good fat streaky pork
2-4 teaspoons mixed fresh herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, rosemary or sage
1 large clove garlic
1 egg, preferably free range
2½ ozs (70g) soft white breadcrumbs (made from good bread)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little oil
Natural casings (sheep) optional
Brambley Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce (see Fool Proof Food)
Mince the pork. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the crumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Whisk the egg then mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the seasoning correct if necessary. Fill into sausage casings and tie. Alternatively divide into 16 pieces and roll into lengths. Fry gently on a barely oiled pan until golden on all sides. They are particularly delicious served with Brambley Apple Sauce and Potato Cakes.
Bombay Aloo (mild)
This is Arun Kapil of Green Saffron’s delicious recipe. He sells all the spices mentioned at his fragrant stall at Mahon Point Farmers Market on a Thursday and at Kinsale Farmers Market on a Tuesday.
Serves 4-6 people
1kg (2lbs) potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into good sized chunks
125g (4ozs) clarified butter or 8 good tablespoons sunflower oil
175g (6ozs) onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons onion seeds
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
3 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
small fist full of curry leaves
1 teaspoon salt
a good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
How to make your Bombay Aloo
Turn your oven on to medium / low. About 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 is fine.
In a sturdy roasting dish, mix the first five above ingredients; your prepared potatoes, ghee (or clarified butter or sunflower oil), onion slices and all of the spices and salt.
You can use a spatula or wooden spoon or get stuck in and use your hands! Whichever is your preference, just make sure all ingredients are well combined.
Pop the dish onto the middle shelf of your oven, shut the door and wait for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are a delicious golden colour.
Once or twice during cooking, carefully, with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula check on the potatoes and give them a gentle, but thorough little stir.
Turn off the oven, sprinkle with the fresh coriander, stir around to combine all the flavours and serve….simple.
Damson and Apple Jam
Makes 7 x 375g (13oz) jars
900g (2lb) wild damsons
900g (2lb) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1.3kg (3lb) sugar
300ml (10fl oz/1/2 pint) water
Put the damsons, chopped apples and water into a greased stainless steel saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until damsons are soft and the apples have broken down into a fluff, approximately 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the sugar in a low oven. Add to the damsons and apples. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved, increase the heat and boil until setting point (220ºC/425ºF) is reached. Skim off and remove as many stones as possible.
Pour in sterilized jars. Seal and store in a cool dry place.
Stall Holders’ Contact Numbers
Ardsallagh Goats Cheese 021 488 2336
Woodside Farm Mobile 087 2767206
Green Saffron Spices 086 833 1030
Baldwin’s Ice-Cream 086 3220932
The Golden Bean (Coffee) 086 8366325
Wildside Catering 086 68681863
The Pie Man 087 9821300
Lily Riley’s Pantry 086 0874157
Rose Cottage Fruit Farm 087 2700121
Fool Proof Food
Brambley Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce
The trick with apple sauce is to cook it on a very low heat with only a tiny drop of water so it is nice and thick and not too watery, always worth having in the freezer in little tubs in case you feel like a juicy pork chop for supper.
1 lb (450g) cooking apples (Brambley Seedling or Grenadier)
1-2 dessertspoons water
2 ozs (55g) approx. sugar (depending on how tart the apples are)
4 rose geranium leaves
Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut the pieces in two and put them in a stainless or cast-iron saucepan with the leaves, sugar and water. Cover and cook on a very low heat until the apples break down in a fluff. Stir and taste for sweetness.
Negotiate with your shopkeeper to take overripe bananas off his hands and make banana bread, makes nutritious lunch box snacks and also freezes well.
Blas an Fhomhair – Nenagh’s Community Harvest Festival and Lunch is on Sunday, 27 September, at Kenyon Street, Nenagh at 3:00pm. This year’s guest chef is well known writer and journalist, Hugo Arnold of the Irish Times. The Blas an Fhomhair is organised by Tipperary Slow Food, Shannon Development and friends and is a showcase of local organic foods for National Organic Week. Tickets are available at Country Choice, The Pantry Cafe, Nadur and O’Riann Vegetables. Phone 067 32596 for further information.
Wildside Pig in a Day Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School
Philip Denhardt and Ted Berner teach this exciting one day course on Saturday 3rd October 2009 9:30am to 5:00pm. Learn how to turn raw pork into sausages, bacon, salami, guanciale and pancetta. Even if you don’t rear your own pig, buying one and transforming it into the plentiful cache of cured pork products can be an economical, fun, healthy and delicious activity. Please contact Ted Berner 0868681863 to book.
Cloyne Autumn Harvest Festival
Cloyne Community District Council have organised their Autumn Harvest Festival for Saturday 26th September 2009 from 2pm to 6:00pm at St Colman’s National School.