The Dublin restaurant and cafÃ© scene is really humming once again. Every now and then the Ballymaloe Cookery School team of teachers go on a research trip to see what is happening on the culinary food scene. Recently we did an intensive trip to the metropolis and tasted some very exciting food in a variety of restaurants and cafÃ©s. We began our trip to the Fumbally in Fumbally Lane run by Aisling Rogerson and Luca Dâ€™Alfonso and a vibrant young team. The food is simple, delicious, uncomplicated but put together in a chic and edgy way we loved the brunch dishes â€“ the Fumbally take on the Dr Suess green eggs and ham toasted brioche with avocado and scrambled eggs and chorizo. The pulled porchetta with slow roasted shoulder of pork, caper mayo and spiced apple sauce was another great combo. Specials are written on the blackboard above the till. The fresh produce for the kitchen is piled against the wall in wooden crates like a glorious still-life in this airy contemporary space with a cool, retro, comfy, shabby chic feel yet elegant feel.
The GreenHouse on Dawson Street served a totally different style of food. Mickael Viljanen who hales from Finland is one of the most talented young chefs cooking in Ireland at the moment. He and his team cooked us a delicious three course lunch with lots of excitement on each beautifully crafted plate â€“ a carpaccio of scallop, shoulder of suckling pig and apricot tart with elderflower ice cream.
We popped our heads into Murphys Ice cream from Dingle, wandered through the aisles of tempting fresh and delicates a produce in Fallon and Byrne. We found lots of new ingredients â€“ fresh strawrasberries and pineberries (like underripe strawberries), Teff flour which Iâ€™d been looking out for to make an Ethopian flat bread and red rice from the Camargue. We also fled past the Pepperpot in the Powerscourt Centre where Marian Kilcoyneâ€™s (a past student) CafÃ© Restaurant was throbbing with lots of unhearably tempting treats.
Ananda is the flagship restaurant of Asheesh Dewanâ€™s Indian restaurant empire under the stewardship of Sunil Ghai and his team of Indian chefs certainly live up to its reputation. The Ballymaloe Cookery School tutors were totally wowed by his tasting menu which started with Pan Poori and ended with Gulab Jamun pistachio icecream and caramel mousse. We got another warm welcome from Garett Fitzgerald and James Boland at Brother Hubbards in Capel Street. This cafÃ© cum deli has built up a fantastic reputation in the less than two years since they opened. The menu is packed with unbearably tempting choices, gorgeous sandwiches, salads, brunch dishes piled high on good bread from Tartine Bakery, virtually the only items that is not made from scratch in house part Garett Fitzgerald and Danielle Beattie who does all the baking are both past students of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. I loved the cannellini beans with tomato sauce and slow roasted pulled pork with a fried egg and a sprinkling of sumac on top but there were appreciative sounds coming from all directions of the table as we tasted our way through the menu.
At Palais des ThÃ©s in Wicklow Street Niall did a tutored tasting with us. We tasted a beautiful selection of exquisite teas including ThÃ© du Hammam , Japanse Green Tea, Sencha Ariake.
A light lunch at Cornucopia the long established vegetarian restaurant in Wicklow Street was another enlightening experience.
On the way home they greatly enjoyed a visit to the Avoca shop where Butchers, Erine and Sharon explained the philosophy and skill behind the rearing and butchering and using every scrap of the animal from the nose to the tail.
Altogether a hugely enjoying and enlightening few days.
Cornucopiaâ€™s Chilled Carrot and Avocado soup
Makes 8 portions
This soup has become a very popular and everyday menu item in Cornucopia. At first people were often reluctant to try a chilled soup in our temperate climate, as a good warming bowl of soup is our traditional cure for the winter chills. However, as our customers warmed to the idea of a chilled carrot soup, news spread of the velvety smooth concoction and soon we sold out of it everyday.
The main flavours here are carrot, garlic and lemon. Using the carrot juice, avocado and olive oil as a base, try substituting fresh ginger or your fresh herb of choice instead of the garlic and lemon for variety and after a few attempts you may settle on your own personal favourite.
1.5 litre carrot juice (about 2.5 kg Carrots)
2 avocadoâ€™s, cut in half, stone removed and peeled (280g when prepped)
100ml lemon juice (about medium 4 lemons)
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
Â½ teaspoon sea salt
150mls extra virgin olive oil
Use a juicer to make the carrot juice. There are two ways to do this, using peeled or unpeeled carrots and it all depends on the freshness of the vegetables and how much precious time you want to spend peeling them! We have found that very fresh carrots, and taking the time to peel them ensures a brighter coloured soup. If you want to skip the peeling process then by all means do as it wonâ€™t affect the taste. To make 1.5 litres of juice, it takes approximately 2.5kgof carrots. Make sure to measure the juice from the carrots as the recipe needs 1.5 litres, if you produce more juice then drink it as a reward for all your hard work!
If you donâ€™t have a juicer, bottled carrot juice can be substituted but as it is likely to have been pasteurized it may not taste as fresh and bright, but is a decent alternative.
Pour 750ml of the carrot juice into a large jug then add the prepared avocado, lemon juice garlic and sea salt. Pulse with a stick blender to puree then slowly pour in the olive oil and the remaining carrot juice until creamy and well combined. Pour the soup into a lidded container and place in the fridge to chill for at least two hours or more.
To serve, bring the soup to just under room, or desired temperature then stir well and pour into 8 medium bowls.
Brother Hubbardâ€™s Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate
For our menu, I draw from our experiences of travelling around the Middle East – this is what I would have had most mornings before going off to visit the souks and the various ancient wonders.
As we head into summer, it feels like a wonderfully refreshing, light-yet-substantial, and healthy, brunch dish. It is amazingly simple to put together and to make in bigger quantities for entertaining â€“ despite its name, I imagine it would work equally well with a glass of white wine for a refreshing and light summer supper. As with all recipes, the better the quality of your ingredients, the better the outcome!
Brother Hubbards Middle Eastern Breakfast Plate
2 (or more) good quality tomatoes
1 block Feta Cheese (180-200g) (classic Greek Feta or similar style â€“ white, crumbly, salty)
12 â€“ 16 olives (we use Kalamata)
4 good sprigs of fresh mint
4 hard-boiled free-range and organic eggs (freshly cooked by boiling for 7 minutes, but cooled in cold water and then peeled)
1 quantity of Hummus (have fun with the recipe below, or a very good deli-bought variety)
Pitta Breads (1-2 per person)
170g (6oz) chickpeas, cooked, save the cooking liquid, use tinned for easy entertaining
freshly squeezed juice of 2-3 lemons, or to taste
2-3 large or small cloves garlic, crushed
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) tahini paste (available from health food shops and delicatessens)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Optional: smoked salmon, cold meats, chorizo, fresh radish cut into chunks
Cut your cucumber in half lengthways and then each half cut diagonally into large bite-size chunks. Cut the ripe plum tomatoes into wedges and break the feta into larger chunks.
Place chunks of cucumber, tomato wedges, feta on large individual plates (or one giant platter to share), add a few big spoons of the hummus in a little bowl, the mint sprigs and 6-8 olives per person (see the end for a hummus recipe). Arrange so it looks like a lovely platter of freshness, colour and flavor. Serve with the egg on the plate.
We usually sprinkle some sumac over the hummus and a little zaâ€™atar over the feta â€“ these are spices which we have gone to great trouble to source, but are often difficult to come by in Ireland. Replace with a little sprinkle of cumin or good paprika, a drizzle of lemon juice or just really great olive oil (or all of the above!).
Have this with some warmed pitta bread on the side â€“ splash a little water on the pittas, shake off the excess and just heat under a grill or in a toaster.
If you fancy, you can serve slices of smoked salmon, cold cuts, or even some pan-fried chorizo on the side to make it more substantial.
Drain the chickpeas, save the cooking liquid. Whizz up the remainder in a food processor with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cooking water if necessary. Add the crushed garlic, tahini paste, cumin and salt to taste. Blend to a soft creamy paste. Taste and continue to add lemon juice and salt until you are happy with the flavour.
If you are making the hummus (which I highly recommend), have a go at this method â€“ it is intentionally loose so that you can develop your own approach to hummus: Take some cooked chickpeas (3 large cupfuls, or 2 tin,s drained and rinsed) and put in a food processor/blitzer, with a few dessert spoons of hot water, a few glugs of the best olive oil you have, a dessert spoon of tahini, 1 clove of minced/crushed garlic, a few good pinches of ground cumin, and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Blitz until well pureed (or less so, if you like more texture). Taste and add some salt and pepper â€“ the consistency should be a thick paste, not too runny. Adjust the flavor until it is the way you like it (we like it with a good strong lemon tang, a brave hint of garlic and cumin, and well seasoned) â€“ just add more of any of the ingredients listed and blitz some more to distribute the flavours, until it tastes delicious to you â€“ tweak as you go, this really is worth having fun with and should reflect the type of hummus you like.
When eating, mix and match the flavours and texturesâ€“ have morsels of the bread, dipped in the hummus, with a little cucumber, mint, feta and the other ingredients. No two mouthfuls will taste the same!
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Pedro Ximenza
Really good cream makes really good ice cream. This recipe is made on an egg-mousse base with softly whipped cream. It produces a deliciously rich ice cream with a smooth texture that does not need further whisking during the freezing period. This ice cream should not be served frozen hard; remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. You can add other flavourings to the basic recipe: liquid ingredients such as melted chocolate or coffee should be folded into the mousse before adding the cream. For chunkier ingredients such as chocolate chips or muscatel raisins soaked in rum, finish the ice cream, semi-freeze it and then stir them through, otherwise they will sink to the bottom.
4 organic egg yolks
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and seeds from 1/3 vanilla pod
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) softly whipped cream (measured after it is whipped, for accuracy)
Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar with 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the â€˜threadâ€™ stage, about 106â€“113Â°C (223â€“235Â°F): it will look thick and syrupy, and 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 by hand. (If you are whisking the mousse in a food mixer, remove the bowl and whisk the boiling syrup in by hand; otherwise it will solidify on the sides of the bowl.)
Add the vanilla extract and vanilla seeds and continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse.
This is the stage at which, if youâ€™re deviating from this recipe, you can add liquid flavourings such as coffee. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.
Scoop the ice-cream into chilled bowls onto plates. Drizzle a little Pedro Ximenez over the ice-cream on the plate just before you tuck in.
Sumac, Zaâ€™atar and other Middle Eastern ingredients available from Fallon and Byrne, Asian Shops and from Ottolenghi by mail order â€“ www.ottolenghi.co.uk.
Wild Salmon is now in season for a few short weeks, Slow Food are organising a Celebration of Wild Salmon at Belleek Castle, Ballina on Sunday 22nd June at 1pm. â€“ There will be a Casting Lesson on the Lawn â€“ Wild Salmon Canapes â€“ A Talk on Wild Salmon by Mairin Ui Chomain and A Cookery Demonstration hosted by Chef Stephen Lenahen – phone: Suzanne 087 9170422 â€“ email@example.com
Slow Food Four Rivers in the South East of Ireland have launched a brilliant initiative, a ‘Hens for Schools’ competition
For details and how to enter, see www.slowfoodireland.com/hens-for-schools
Date for your diary
The Westport Festival of Music & Food is back in 2014 . It is a 2 day, multi stage outdoor festival which takes place at Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo, on Sat 28th & Sun 29th June 2014. Rachel & I will be doing cookery demonstrations on Saturday 28th at 4 â€“ 6pm respectively â€“ weâ€™ve so looking forward to being in lovely Mayo once again. http://www.westportfestival.com/