A really posh new book celebrating Irish food and cooking has just arrived on my desk. HOME: Recipes from Ireland is Trish Deseine’s new book, and it feels like a love letter to her home country.
Trish was born and educated in Belfast and grew up on a beef farm in Co. Antrim. In the 1980’s she “escaped” to the University of Edinburgh to read modern languages, and from there to Paris in 1987 where she lived for almost three decades soaking up the ambience and the food culture. This absence from Ireland has given her a unique understanding and perspective of what has shaped our Irish food culture, erasing “the last traces of that knee-jerk bigotry that a hard-line, almost Presbyterian, upbringing tried to drum into me”.
Until the 1960s, the English conquest and the great famines of the 1840s were the two main factors that shaped Ireland’s food culture. In earlier times Ireland’s rich fertile soil and temperate climate afforded excellent tillage, flavourful livestock and dairy products, and an abundance of game, fish and shellfish.
By the 1840s the Irish population had grown to 8 million, but over-reliance on the potato meant that over a million died from starvation by the end of the century, and several million more fled the country contributing to the huge Irish diaspora around the world.
“The notion of food as a sociable or physical pleasure during the years of recovery after the famines was a difficult one for the Irish to assimilate, as was the idea of an indigenous fine cuisine. For the ordinary people living on the land, food meant survival, and growing sufficient amounts was a prerequisite to regaining control of their farms. In those days there were only two “twists” on native Irish dishes – enough or not enough…..Fast forward to 2015, and post Celtic Tiger, super tech-savvy Ireland has caught right up with the rest of the world as it goes crazy for food. Thanks to the internet and cheap airfares, the nation has become fluent in the language of food as aspirational lifestyle, status symbol or fashion statement. Our appetite for world trends in restaurants is as large as that of any other developed country…”
Trish has included many favourite recipes from her childhood in Co. Antrim but at the same time, in full-on “returning native” mode, several signature dishes of top Irish chefs using our beautiful Irish ingredients – all superbly and evocatively photographed by Deirdre Rooney. This stylish, beautiful coffee-table book is an important addition to the growing number of books celebrating both our traditional and emerging Irish food culture.
Recipes for Article HOME Recipes from Ireland
Name of Book: HOME Recipes from Ireland
Author: Trish Deseine
Photographer Deirdre Rooney
Stylist: Trish Deseine
Derek Creagh’s Baby White Turnip Soup at Harry’s Bridgend
5 minutes preparation
20 minutes cooking
1 kg (2¼ lb) baby white turnip flesh
250 g (9 oz) butter
1 large potato, peeled and finely sliced
1 cooking apple, finely sliced
3 onions, finely sliced
1 bottle of Stonewell cider
400 ml (14 fl oz) milk
Rosemary and thyme
600 ml (1 pint) water or stock
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the onion, white turnip, apple and potato for approximately 10 minutes.
Pour in cider, stir and reduce until the alcohol has reduced, but not too much as you want to retain the cider’s acidity.
In a separate pan, heat the milk with the rosemary and thyme and leave to infuse.
When the onions are translucent, add the herb infused milk.
Bring to the boil and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, liquidise and pass through a fine strainer.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sally Barnes Smoked Tuna Mash
“The people were nearly all men, dressed solemnly and hideously in their Sunday clothes; most of them had come straight from Mass without any dinner, true to that Irish instinct that places its fun before its food.”
From Some Experiences of an Irish R.M. by Somerville and Ross.
Woodcock smokery is in the pretty Cork village of Castletownshend near Skibbereen in County Cork. The main street, flanked with colourful terraced houses and the odd pub or small shop, dips steeply to the edge of the harbour, overlooked by the handsome church and 17th century castle built by Richard Townsend. It’s a sleepy, romantic place, home to writer Edith Anna Somerville, co author of the Irish R.M. series of humorous novels on Irish life in the early 1900s. It’s here that Sally Barnes smokes her wild fish, using only a time-honoured and traditional methodology, without adding any colourings or artificial preserves.
Wild salmon is in short supply in Ireland, but instead of turning to farmed stocks, Sally has preferred to diversify the fish she uses, including line-caught Irish tuna. Here I have included it in the most simple of Irish dishes: buttered potato mash. Add a drop of lemon juice perhaps, but not much else is needed.
10 minutes preparation
20 minutes cooking
2 or 3 good sized floury potatoes
50 ml (2 fl oz) warm milk
75 g (3 oz) butter
Salt and pepper
200 g (7 oz) Woodstock smoked tuna
Peel and boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes until they are soft.
Mash them with the warm milk and add half the butter. Season with a little salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Flake the tuna through the hot potato mash, add the rest of the butter to melt on top and serve immediately.
Irish Little Gem, Gubbeen Wild Venison Salami, Cider Vinegar and Rapeseed Oil Vinaigrette
Irish Little Gems are larger, frillier and tastier than those I have become used to in France. A mini version of Cos salads, they are perfect for plating, as their long naturally cupped leaves stay fresh and firm.
In this recipe, they are also a good backdrop to Fingal Ferguson’s wonderful charcuterie from the celebrated Gubbeen farm, one of Ireland’s pioneering producers, set in a “gentle and fertile corner of West Cork”.
Here I have teamed sweet apples and grassy Donegal rapeseed oil with Gubbeen’s wild venison salami; it is both fruity and earthy, smoked over “sweet woods” and cooked in white wine. Add a few fried bacon chunks for a bit of crunch and you’ll have a great salad starter or light lunch.
5 minutes preparation
1 Irish little gem, leaves removed, washed and spun
About 50 or 60 g (2-2½ oz) of Gubbeen wild venison salami, sliced finely
50 g (2 oz) bacon chunks
1 eating apple, sliced finely
3 tablespoons Irish rapeseed oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
Set the salad leaves on two large plates. Dot the salami over them.
Fry the bacon until crisp, then scatter it and the apple slices evenly over the leaves. Drizzle with a vinaigrette made from the oil and vinegar, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately with some good soda bread and salted butter.
A relative newcomer to the rows of traybakes and fridge cake, the rebel Yank, Rocky Road, has broken the straight-sided mould of the usual suspects and is often presented in irregular chunks. Unlike the many other sugary squares, this is one recipe where you can make a huge difference to the taste, despite the, frankly, trashy ingredients, by using really good chocolate and good quality dried fruit.
This borders on a traditional fridge cake recipe, (which is fudgier and usually covered in chocolate butter glaze) like those I recently spotted, thinly sliced, served with chocolate sauce, on a pub’s dessert menu or fashioned into a Christmas Pudding shape for an “alternative” Christmas Day dessert. It might not be the most challenging or sophisticated of recipes, but it does seem as if everyone loves it.
For 10 to 12
10 minutes preparation
2 hours chilling
200 g (7 ozs) salted butter
400 g (14 ozs) good dark chocolate
3 tablespoons golden syrup
250 g (9 ozs) digestive biscuits (or hobnobs or rich tea)
125 g (4½ oz) dried raspberries, cherries, cranberries, strawberries (optional)
100 g (3½ oz) pecans (optional)
100 g (3½ oz) mini marshmallows
Grease and line a 20 cm x 25 cm (8 inch x 10 inch) cake tin.
Put the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a bowl and melt gently together over a bain-marie or in the microwave.
Crush the biscuits into irregular pieces, either with a quick blast in a mini blender, or in a tea towel with a rolling pin, then add them to the chocolate mixture.
Tip in the dried fruit, marshmallows if you are using it, and stir it all well until everything is coated in chocolate.
Spread the mixture into the tin, smooth out the top and let it cool and harden in the fridge for an hour or so. Cut or break the Rocky Road into pieces and serve.
Scared to tackle sushi yourself? Sushi made Simple will help take the mystery out of making sushi. We will start by explaining the ingredients, basic equipment and techniques required. Sushi gets the ‘thumbs up’ from cardiologists and nutritionists – not least because it is based mainly on fresh fish, seaweed, vegetables and rice, but it is also low in saturated fat, high in vital omega 3s and rich in vitamins and minerals. On Wednesday November 25th starting at 9.30am, we will show you how to make at least eight different types of sushi as well as sashimi.
Students will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the demonstration. Light lunch is included.
East Cork Slow Food Event – Peter Mulryan from the Blackwater Distillery will share the exciting story behind Blackwater No. 5 Gin at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday 19th November at 7pm. Slow Food Members €6.00, Non Slow Food Members €8.00. Proceeds will support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project
Our Autumn 12 Week Certificate Course students are cooking a Pop-Up Dinner at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday November 21st in aid of the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Aperitifs, delicious nibbles and three course dinner. Tickets €45 – Slow Food members €45.00 – non Slow Food members €50.00 – Places are limited, booking essential 021 4646785 or email@example.com
Midleton Country Markets are now taking orders for Christmas puddings, cakes and mince pies. Check out their usual fare including honey, jams, pickles, seasonal fruit, vegetables & salads. Every Friday at Market Green from 9.30am-3pm
Check out the winners of the Irish Farmhouse cheese awards on www.irishcheese.ie