Just back from another action packed school tour. On every 12 Week Certificate course we take the students on a fact finding field trip to stimulate ideas on how they might use their hard earned cooking skills to earn their living in a fun and creative way. Food is the main driver of the Irish economy at present where there are a myriad of options to add value to basic raw materials.
We started shortly after 8am, everyone was in high spirits. What is it about a school excursion that makes us all revert back to our carefree childhood temperament? First we visited Shanagarry Smokehouse where Bill Casey told us about how he decided to start a smokehouse when he was made redundant in the early 80â€™s. His smoked salmon is sold not just in the local area but also to several top chefs around the country and occasionally overseas.
Next we visited Philip Dennhardtâ€™s Saturday Pizza factory ingeniously converted from a disused shipping container. An inspirational project which made many students realise that thinking creatively one can get into business and comply with the regulations without huge overheads.
Then we all piled into the bus and headed for Mahon Point Farmers Markets. It was already buzzing when we arrived at 10 oâ€™ clock, 50 plus stalls each manned by a super creative food producer, all entrepreneurs who think outside the box to identify an opportunity. Annie Murphyâ€™s chickens were roasting to perfection on a spit, beside her Simon Mould was turning out irresistible pizza. As ever the Oâ€™ Driscoll brothers from West Cork had a long queue for their freshly caught West Cork fish.Â Maurice Gilbert from Ballyhoura was doling out tastes of his apple juice combos. Close by Marcus Hodder tells me his new salted caramel affrogato ice cream is proving to be a big hit.
Silvia and Olga from La Cocina have an irresistible display of Spanish treats, the students in particular love the custard tarts and want to know if I know the secret. Chocolate Cake Pops, lollipops, goatâ€™s milk, raw food, home baking, cured meats, free range pork, organic fruit and vegetablesâ€¦â€¦.
Now, since my last visit Rachel McCormack is making a variety of beef and chicken broths, Pho and pad thai thatâ€™s really causing a stir. This market continues to surprise and delight and the originals like Arbutus breads are still innovative and tempt us with their new creations.
Then it was on to Fermoy Cheese where Frank and Gudrun Shinnick and their team of international apprentices make a whole range of delectable farmhouse cheeses from the milk of their Friesian herd.
After a picnic and cheese tasting, we headed to visit Willie Drohan, who produces Comeragh Mountain lamb on his farm not far from the spectacular Mahon Falls. He told us the story of how he and several neighbouring farmers rear this distinctive lamb now much sought after by the top chefs. They lamb graze on deer grass, wild sorrel, tormentil and on other wild herbs on the commonage.
Next destination was Nude Food in Dungarvan. Here we were met by Louise Clark and Lucy Whelan. Louise lead us through the restaurant into her garden behind where broad beans, courgettes and a myriad of fresh herbs were flourishing. Louise is a charismatic speaker who shared her story with us all.
Our last stop of a brilliantly stimulating and enjoyable day was Dungarvan Brewery. Claire Dalton and Cormac O Dwyer showed us around explained and simplified the brewing process, the ingredients needed and the bottling system. His sister, wife ofÂ Tom Dalton the other brewer in the business organised a tasting of the Dungarvan beers, all with local names, Helvick Gold Blond ale, Copper Coast, Mine Head, and I particularly enjoyed the Black Rock stout.
Traditional bottled conditioned beers are the USP of the Dungarvan brewing company which gives the craft beer a unique flavour.
Sushi made Simple
Join ourÂ 12 Week CertificateÂ studentsÂ and allowÂ Shermin MustafaÂ to demystify this jewel of Japanese cuisine. Whilst so many of us love eating sushi, making it for the first time can be intimidating particularly as itâ€™s common-knowledge that sushi chefs train for years to master the knife skills and presentation needed to create world-class sushi.
This course takes the mysteryâ€¦ and stressâ€¦ out of making sushi, Shermin will start by explaining the ingredients, basic equipment and techniquesÂ required, giving you the confidence to serve it to guests at home or in a restaurant.
During this half-day course she will show you how to make at leastÂ eight different types of sushi as well as sashimi.
Students will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the demonstration.
Wednesday July 15th at the Ballymaloe Cookery School 9.30am-2pm
Phone 021 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie for more information.
The cake making craze continues unabated. If you are really into spectacular results Decobake has 5 shops around Ireland. They also have a wonderful website with a good delivery service.Â All you need for cake baking and decorating from edible gels and paste, dust and glitter, sugar craft, novelty cake tins and much much moreâ€¦.
Check out the website www.decobake.com
Shanagarry OOOBY little summer market has started again. Every Sunday morning the group sell their seasonal produce, preserves and home baking on the wall outside Shanagarry Church. A brilliant idea that could be replicated throughout the country. Tel Mary Griffin on 0876175985 or email email@example.com for the details.
East Cork Slow Food Event
Camilla Plum from her organic Danish Fuglebjerggaard Farm will give a short cookery demonstration at the Ballymaloe Cookery SchoolÂ on â€˜Danish Family Cookingâ€™, on Wednesday July 8th at 7pm.
Telephone 021 4646785 for the details.
Fish in Beer Batter with Chips and Tartare Sauce
Dungarvan Brewery can be contacted onÂ 058 24000
Fish and chips became famous because they can be utterly delicious. Â The fish needs to be spanking fresh, the batter crisp, the potatoes a good variety and most importantly the oil needs to be good quality. Â In Spain and Greece olive oil is frequently used, but sunflower or arachide can be excellent also.
8 very fresh fillets of Irish cod, haddock, plaice, or lemon sole
250g (9oz) self-raising flour
good pinch of salt
110ml (4fl oz) beer
175-225ml (6 – 8fl ozs) cold water
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Â Make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the beer and water.
8-16 well-scrubbed unpeeled potatoes
Tartare Sauce (see recipe)
First make the batter.
Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Â Make a well in the centre and gradually whisk in the beer and water.
Cut the potatoes into chips (5mm/1/4 inch approximately â€“ frites size), basically any size you fancy (remember the bigger they are the longer they take to cook. Â Jumboâ€™s need to be blanched at 160Â°C/320Â°F first and finished at 190Â°C/375Â°F).
Heat the oil in the deep-fryer to 180Â°C/350Â°F, add in the chips. Make sure they are absolutely dry (don’t cook too many together). Â Cook for a few minutes until they are just soft, drain.
Dip the fish fillets in batter, allow excess to drip off, lower gently into the oil, shaking the basket at the same time. Â Cook until crisp and golden, drain on kitchen paper. Â Increase the heat to 190Â°C/375Â°F. Put the chips back in and cook for a minute or two until really crisp. Â Drain on kitchen paper, sprinkle with salt.
Serve the fish and chips immediately, either on a plate or in a cornet of newsprint. Â Serve with Tartare Sauce.
A classic Tartare Sauce, great with deep-fried fish, shellfish or fish cakes.
2 hardboiled egg yolks
2 raw egg yolks, preferably free range
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
300ml (10fl oz) of sunflower or arachide oil plus 50ml (2fl oz) olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped capers
1 teaspoon chopped gherkins
2 teaspoons chopped chives or 2 teaspoons chopped spring onions (scallions)
2 teaspoons chopped parsley
chopped white of the 2 hardboiled eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper
Sieve the hardboiled egg yolks into a bowl, add the raw egg yolks, mustard and 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar. Â Mix well and whisk in the oil drop by drop, increasing the volume as the mixture thickens. Â When all the oil has been absorbed, add the other ingredients – capers, gherkins, chives or spring onions and parsley. Â Then roughly chop the hardboiled egg white and fold in gently, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add a little more vinegar or a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary.
Shanagarry Smoked Wild Irish Salmon with Arjard and PickledÂ Red Onions
Wild Irish salmon is a now a rare treat, as for the last couple of years we have managed to get a small number from fishermen on the Blackwater river. We treasure each one and eat some fresh, cure and smoke some ourselves or give them to Bill Casey, our local smoker, to smoke for us. We hot- and cold-smoke the salmon and teach the students both methods of preserving. For this recipe we use cold-smoked salmon, but flakes of the hot-smoked variety would also be delicious.
175â€“225g (6â€“8oz) cold-smoked wild Irish salmon,
cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes
For the Pickled Red Onions
225ml (8fl oz) white wine vinegar
110g (4oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 dried red chilli
450g (1lb) red onions, peeled and thinly sliced on a mandolin
For the Arjard (cucumber salad)
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced into rings
1 green chilli, deseeded and sliced into rings
4 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons malt vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cucumber, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced
chervil sprigs and wild garlic or chive blossom in season
freshly ground black pepper
To make the pickled onions, put the vinegar, sugar, salt and spices in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil. Put in one-third of the sliced onions and simmer for 2â€“3 minutes or until they turn pink and wilt. Lift out the cooked onions with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a 350g (12oz) sterilised jam jar with a non-reactive lid. Repeat with the rest of the onions, cooking them in two batches. Top up the jar with the hot vinegar, put on the lid and set aside to cool overnight. Once cold, store in the fridge.
To make the Arjard, put all the ingredients except the cucumber in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3â€“5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cold, pour the marinade over the slices of cucumber and set aside to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
To serve, arrange the cubes of salmon on a plate, add some Arjard and some pickled red onion and scatter over a few sprigs of chervil, wild garlic or chive flowers. Finish with some freshly ground black pepper over the top.
Comeragh Mountain Lamb with Cucumber Neopolitana
Martin Drohan can be contacted at telÂ (051) 291 533
1 leg of Comeragh mountain lamb
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) homemade lamb or chicken stock
1-2 teaspoons freshly-chopped herbs Â parsley, mint, thyme or rosemary, chives…..
a little Roux
Sprigs of fresh mint and parsley
If possible remove the aitch bone from the top of the leg of lamb so that it will be easier to carve later, then trim the end of the leg. Â Score the fat lightly. Â Sprinkle with sea salt.
Preheat the oven to 180Â°C/350Â°F/Gas Mark 4 and roast for 1 1/4 hours approx. for rare, 1 1/2 hours for medium and 1 3/4 hours well done. Â When the lamb is cooked to your taste, remove the joint to a carving dish. Â Rest the lamb for 10 minutes before carving.
De-grease the juices in the roasting tin, add stock, bring to the boil and thicken with a little roux if desired. Â Just before serving, whisk in some knobs of butter to enrich the gravy and add some freshly-chopped herbs. Â Serve with Cucumber Neapolitana (see recipe).
A terrifically versatile vegetable dish which may be made ahead and reheats well. It is also delicious served with rice or pasta. Â It makes a great stuffing for tomatoes and is particularly good with Roast lamb.
Serves 6 approximately
1 organic large cucumber
15g (1/2oz) butter
1 medium onion – 110g (4oz) approximately, sliced
4 very ripe Irish tomatoes
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
65ml (2 1/2fl oz) cream
1 dessertspoon freshly chopped mint
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams add the onion. Cover and sweat for 5 minutes approximately until soft but not coloured.
Meanwhile, peel the cucumber, cut into 1cm (1/2inch) cubes, add to the onions, toss well and continue to cook while you scald the tomatoes with water for 10 seconds. Â Peel the tomatoes and slice into the casserole, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover the casserole and cook for a few minutes until the cucumbers are tender and the tomatoes have softened, add the cream and bring back to the boil. Add the freshly chopped mint. Â If the liquid is very thin, thicken it by carefully whisking in a little roux. Â Cucumber Neapolitana keeps for several days and may be reheated.
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) flour
Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Â Use as required. Â Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. Â It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.
Ballyhoura Apple Â and Custard TartÂ
This tart is delicious made with Ballyhoura Red of Gold apples. Â Pears, gooseberries, apricots, rhubarb and plums are also good and the custard could be flavoured with a little cinnamon instead of vanilla if you want to ring the changes.
225g (8oz) plain flour
pinch of salt
175g (6oz) butter
1 dessertspoons icing sugar â€“ where does the icing sugar go into the recipe?
a little beaten egg or egg yolk and water to bind
2-3 golden delicious apples
300ml (10fl oz) cream
2 large or 3 small eggs
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons apricot glaze (see recipe)
1 x 12 inch (30.5cm) tart tin or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tart tins
First make the shortcrust pastry.
Sieve the flour, salt and icing sugar into a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and then rub in with your fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.
Whisk the egg or egg yolk and add some water. Using a fork to stir, add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper, shorter crust.
Flatten into a round, cover the pastry with clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.
Line a tart tin (or tins), with a removable base and chill for 10 minutes. Line with paper and fill with dried beans and bake blind in a moderate oven 180Â°C/350Â°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, paint the tart with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes. Â Allow to cool, then paint the base with apricot glaze.
Peel the apples, quarter, core and cut into even slices about one-eight inch thick. Arrange one at a time as you slice to form a circle inside the tart, the slices should slightly overlap on the inside, fill the centre likewise. Whisk the eggs well, with the sugar and vanilla extract, add the cream. Strain this mixture over the apples and bake at 180Â°C/350Â°F/Gas Mark 4, for 35 minutes. When the custard is set and the apples are fully cooked, brush generously with apricot glaze and serve warm with a bowl of whipped cream.
The apricot glaze here is essential for flavour not just for appearance.
350g (12 oz) apricot jam
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 tablespoons water.
Makes 300ml (10fl oz) approximately
In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the apricot jam with 1 – 2 tablespoons of juice or water. Push the hot jam through a nylon sieve and store in a sterilized airtight jar.
Melt and stir the glaze before use of necessary.