Every term my 12 Week Cerificate cookery students and I pile into a bus and head off on our School Tour to visit food related businesses. Our day started at Mahon Point Farmers Market, plenty of inspiration there and good ideas to add value to produce – Unaâ€™s Pies, Annieâ€™s Roast Chicken, Just Nuts, Volcano Woodfired Pizzas, Pure Sushi and Sashimi, Old Millbank Smokehouse Fish Cakes, Kinsale Crab Cakes, Loloâ€™s steak sandwiches, fresh spices and aromatic curries from Green Saffron,Â Glan Gluten gluten free cakes and tarts, Glenilen farm butter, yoghurt and pasteurised milk in glass bottles, several cake and cookie businesses including Regale, fresh and smoked fish from Ballycotton and West Cork, Cork Coffee Roasters and Golden Bean coffee, Dauntâ€™s organic fruit and vegetables, free range and organic fowl from Tom Clancy in Ballycotton and Dan Ahern in Midleton, on and on. Itâ€™s a cracker of a market, wonderful atmosphere everyone is having fun, chilling at the central tables, listening to the music from Sean and Colman Kelleher and filling their shopping bags with local produce.
From there we cruised along in the Shanagarry express to North Cork. Next stop – the little village of Toonsbridge, now firmly on the foodie map since Toby Simmonds and Sean Ferris started to make cheese from the beautiful rich milk of Johnny Lynchâ€™s herd of water buffalo. What a surprise to see a herd of these beautiful docile animals grazing contentedly in a field in North Cork a million miles from in Italy.
Thousands of tonnes of Italian Mozzarella is imported into Ireland every year so the original plan was to make an Irish Mozzarella and to contribute to the economy with import substitution â€“ however Toby and his wife Jenny Rose bought the old creamery in Toonsbridge, made a state-of-the-art dairy having spent some years in Italy learning their craft, the boys started to experiment â€“ at first it was Mozzarella but now they also make a beautiful feta, a tender ricotta and a Grana type cheese to age. The cheese grates beautifully and can also be used in their homemade pesto to sell at Tobyâ€™s Real Olive Company stalls familiar to many farmers marketsâ€™ customers.
Recently they have opened up a little shop beside creamery and there are plans to open a cafÃ© before too long. The shop sells the fresh cheese but also a range of beautiful cured meat relishes, oils and carefully selected delicatessen products, chic and stylish it wouldnâ€™t be out of place in Knightsbridge.
The students were fascinated by the process and after theyâ€™d stocked up we sped off to Macroom to pay a surprise visit to fifth generation miller Donal Creedon in the last stone grinding mill in Ireland. Porridge made from his nutty stone ground Macroom oatmeal has delighted visitors to Ballymaloe House for over 40 years.
The Gaeltacht area of Ballyvourney was our next stop â€“ Jimmy Allen and family and the many neighbours, friends and well-wishers were launching the traditional De Roiste black and white pudding in their new factory space in Ballyvourney.
Jimmy Allen and Anthony Staunton use fresh pigs blood to make their black pudding based on a recipe passed down through the De Roiste family, itâ€™s very encouraging to see an increasing number of butchers going down this route rather than using imported dried blood
On the way home spirited shopkeeper, Ruth Healy of Urru in Bandon gave the students an insight into the challenges and rewards of running a food shop/deli in a country town, yet another option in the food business. Artisan producer, Frank Krawczyk was making a delivery of his sausages – now made in collaboration with local craft butcher Martin Carey – so he gave us an insight into the life of artisan producers. Lots of food for thought and just a taste of the huge variety of opportunities in the food business in Ireland today.
De RoisteÂ Pudding with Glazed Apples and Grainy Mustard Sauce
Allow 3-4 x 1/2 inch (1cm) slices of De RoisteÂ black pudding per person
2 dessert apples, Coxâ€™s Orange Pippen or Golden Delicious
juice of 1/4-1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 oz (25g) butter
8 fl ozs (250ml) of cream
1 dessertspoon of Lakeshore smooth mustard
1 tablespoon of Lakeshore Honey Mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel, core and neatly slice the apples into even 1/4 inch (5mm) slices.Â Melt butter in a sautÃ© pan and when it is foamy add the apple slices and coat in the butter.Â Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook slowly for 5 minutes approx. until the apples are glazed in a shiny syrup.
To make the Mustard Sauce, simply place the cream and two mustards in a small saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Taste and season if necessary.
To assemble the dish.
Melt the butter in a sautÃ© pan and sautÃ© the puddings until heated through.Â Donâ€™t allow to get too crusty on the outside.Â Arrange the warm apple slices on one large serving dish or individual plates.Â Arrange the slices of black pudding on the apples and sauce carefully with the Mustard Sauce, garnish with flat parsley and serve immediately.
Skye Gyngellâ€™s Nectarine and Tomato Salad with Parma Ham and Buffalo Mozzarella
Another one of my favourite Summer salads.Â This recipe is taken from Skyeâ€™s book â€œMy Favourite Ingredientsâ€.
4 ripe nectarines
10 perfectly ripe and sweet cherry tomatoes
a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
we use a â€˜biggieâ€™ from Arbutus Artisan Bakery
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella
12 purple basil leaves, shredded
8 fine slices of Parma ham
2 tablespoons basil oil
aged balsamic vinegar, to drizzle (optional)
Cut the nectarines in half along their natural division, remove the stones, then cut each half into 3 wedges.Â Halve the tomatoes.Â Place the nectarines and tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.Â Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Tear the mozzarella balls in half with your fingers and lay 2 halves on each plate.Â Now build your salad, alternating the nectarine slices and tomatoes with basil and Parma ham, spooning a little basil oil between the layers and seasoning delicately as you go.Â Finish with a restrained drizzle of balsamic vinegar if you like.
Serve at once, preferably with some really good chewy peasant-style bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Whiz the leaves from 3 large bunches of basil in a food processor with a 1 peeled garlic clove and a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper until the basil is finely chopped.Â With the processor still running, slowly add in 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) extra virgin olive oil through the funnel and blend until you have a beautiful green purÃ©e.Â Let stand for a few minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning.Â Store in a jar in the fridge â€“ it will keep for up to a week.
Summer Fruit Salad with Pea-Shoots and Broad Beans with Ricotta
A friend Barney Haughton shared this with us. Seek out Toonsbridge Ricotta for this delicious summery salad.
Serves 4 people
1/4Â a cucumber, peeled, halved longways, de-seeded and thinly sliced
a little salt
juice of 1 lemon
500g (18oz) mix of fresh raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants
400g (14oz) broad beans, podded, blanched and peeled
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
a large handful of peashoots or rocket
100g (3 1/2oz) fresh ricotta
a little pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Toss the sliced cucumber in a little salt and the lemon juice. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.
Make a dressing with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning.
Drain the sliced cucumber of any water. Gently mix the fruit together with the broad beans and mint.
Arrange the fruit mixture, cucumber, pea-shoots and ricotta on a serving dish anddrizzle with balsamic dressing. Finish with a little black pepper.
Macroom Oatmeal Crackers
Virtually every morning I start my day with a bowl of Macroom oatmeal porridge which has the most delicious toasted nutty flavour.Â It comes in a lovely old-fashioned red and yellow pack which I hope they never change, with a brilliant recipe on the side. Here is another recipe using Macroom oatmeal which makes the most delicious biscuits to nibble with farmhouse cheese.
Makes 25-30 biscuits
1ozÂ (25g) Macroom oatmeal
75g (3oz) brown wholemeal flour
115g (4oz) white flour, preferably unbleached
Â½ teaspoon baking powder
Â½ teaspoon salt
25g (1oz) butter
5-6 tablespoons cream
Mix the oatmeal, brown and white flour together and add the salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter and moisten with cream, enough to make a firm dough.
Roll out very thinly – one-sixteenth inch thick approx.Â Prick with a fork. Cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares.Â Bake at 180ÂºC/350ÂºF/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and quite crisp. Cool on a wire rack.
Learn how to make Homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Several Cheeses with Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen Cheese and Darina Allen on Friday 27th July 9:00am to 5:00pm – This busy one day course will take the mystery out of cheese making and introduce you to the magic of milk and the numerous possibilities.Â You will learn how to make a range of dairy products including homemade butter, yoghurt, cottage cheese, Labneh, paneer, and a couple of simple farmhouse cheeses. Youâ€™ll also discover how added flavour can be achieved with fresh herbs, fruit, spices and smoke. Phone 021 4646785 to book or online www.cookingisfun.ie
Slow Food Farm Walk at Dan Ahernâ€™s Born Free Organic Poultry Farm on Tuesday July 17th 2012 at 6:30pm â€“ Meet the family and see the farm where our favourite organic chickens are reared. Bring appropriate weather-proof clothing and footwear – light refreshments. Contact Dan for directions to Ahernâ€™s Farm, Ballysimon, Midleton, Co Cork
086 1659 258.Â Donations to support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project www.slowfoodireland.com