After all the months of plotting and planning and the frenzy of excitement – today’s the day….Hope you are all heading to Shanagarry in East Cork for the fourth Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine or the Litfest as it is affectionately known – a mega two day celebration of food and drinks and food writing, participants and food lovers have been pouring in from all over the world to meet and hear their favourite cooks and chefs and authors. Others will want to meet icons of the beverage world – you can imagine the line-up. Check out www.litfest.ie.
If you’re not already on your way you’ll have missed Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis in London and Eric Werner, Mya Henry from Hartwood in Mexico and Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully but there’s still time to catch the riveting Food Symposium in the Grainstore. This year this venue will be transformed into an exciting auditorium staging a thought provoking and inspiring series of short talks and presentations, giving us the most up to the minute news of what’s happening in the world of food and drinks. By gathering an interesting and dynamic pool of writers, experts, authorities and interested parties from at home and abroad, the festival will focus our minds and thoughts on the questions “Our food – what’s the story?”
It’s still not too late to try for tickets for some of tomorrow’s events. Check out Elisabeth Luard, an iconic food writer from London. How about Ari Weinzweig all the way from Zingermans in Michigan, a totally inspirational speaker – his topic ‘A lapsed anarchist’s approach to building a great business and a happy workforce’.
If you miss Natalie Wheen explaining “What makes a virgin an extra virgin” at 12pm today in the Grainstore, you have a second chance to attend the tutored olive oil tasting and discussion on Sunday at 2pm in the Carrigaun Room at the Grainstore. Natalie was an arts commentator on BBC Radio 4 but now focuses on her organic olive farm in Greece – AVLAKI.
There are lots of exciting new Irish voices in food. On Sunday morning Katie Sanderson of the Dillisk Project in Galway will give her eagerly anticipated demo at the BCS and Louise Bannon will join a Panel Discussion ‘Irish Women in Food’ this evening at 5pm in The Carrigaun Room at the Grainstore.
Catch Kamal Mouzawak from the Lebanon talking about his Favourite Middle Eastern Ingredients and Food from a War Zone on Sunday at 3.30pm in the Cookery School.
The Irish Food Writers Guild are there plus many of the country’s most exciting bloggers all sharing their insights and expertise.
The Big Shed will be buzzing again this year with delicious food and drinks from some of our favourite Irish artisan producers and all to a background of lovely gentle sounds and vibrant chatter. The free Fringe programme is over flowing with activities and events for #Litfest16 and promises to be a fun filled weekend for all ages.
The Family Corner in The Big Shed will be run and creatively curated by our crafty fun friend, Camilla Houston, swing by the Kerrygold Corner where there will be baking, face painting and of course butter making.
Pregnant mums and dads shouldn’t miss Kathy Whyte ‘Change for Health’ on Saturday at 11.30am The Garden Tent.
I’m also intrigued to hear Professor Ted Dinan from UCC discuss the relationship between our gut and our psychological wellbeing. Dr Alessandro Demaio, another huge highlight, ‘The Crossroads, Where Next?’ together with Danielle Nierenberg, Founder of Food Tank and Dr William Burke, Agricultural Economist at Stanford University, USA will bring people from far and wide.
If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to bag a ticket for Frances Mallmann dem today (It sold out faster than a U2 concert), don’t worry there’s another opportunity to hear him discuss The Joy of Fire at 3 o’ clock in the Grain Store on Sunday.
Sounds mesmerizing well, let me tell you it’s only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. There are over 100 events in the jam packed programme. It kicked off last night in the Grain Store with a Welcome Party.
Don’t miss what Condé Naste Traveller has described as one of the top 10 ‘Best Festivals in the World’.
Irish Food Festival in Kells
Don’t miss Sheridan’s Cheesemongers Irish Food Festival. It is unquestionably one of the very best showcases for Irish food and great craic. Kids workshops, foraging, walks and talks, Boyne Valley Food Marquee, lots of music, traditional games and lots more…
Sunday May 29th from 10am-6pm, Kells, Co Meath. www.sheridans.ie
Sweets Out for School campaign is attracting lots of attention at present. Concerned parents from a Kerry school are calling on the Minister of Education to remove vending sweet machines from secondary schools and call on teachers not to give sweets as rewards to primary school pupils. I am 100% behind them, others please follow check out the Facebook campaign https://www.facebook.com/Sweets-Out-For-School-173793252996456/
Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns from Bar Tartine in San Francisco are the reigning king and queen of funky fermentation. Don’t miss one and only opportunity here in Ireland to see them in action. Just a few places still available for their cookery demo tomorrow Sunday at 2pm. www.litfest.ie for more info.
Francis Mallmann’s Whole Boneless Rib Eye with Chimichurri
I usually cook roasts on the bone because I like the way bones gently conduct heat into the meat. But when you slather a coating of chimichurri on a boneless rib roast, the result is the most heavenly crust you can imagine. Just keep an eye on the cooking time and the internal temperature. Since all ovens vary, the timings given below are just guidelines that you may need to adjust in your own oven.
1 boneless rib-eye roast, 6-10 lbs
2 cups chimichurri, or more if desired (see recipe)
6 bay leaves
Preheat the oven to 450F, with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.
Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt and coat on all sides with half the chimichurri (reserve the rest for serving). Scatter the bay leaves over the meat. Place on a rack in large roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 350F and roast for approximately 10 minutes more per pound for rare (120F). transfer to a carving board and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
Carve the beef and serve with the remaining chimichurri.
For the Salmuera
Makes about 2 cups
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
1 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves
1 cup fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
To make the salmuera, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the salt and stir until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Mince the garlic very fine and put in a medium bowl. Mince the parsley and oregano and add to the garlic, along with the red pepper flakes. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and then the olive oil. Whisk in the salmuera. Transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid, and keep in the refrigerator. Chimichurri is best prepared at least 1 day in advance, so that the flavours have a chance to blend. The chimichurri can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 to 3 weeks.
Francis Mallmann Seven Fires
NOPI’s Pearl Barley Risotto with Watercress, Asparagus and Pecorino
300 g pearl barley
2.4 litres vegetable stock
100 g baby spinach
200 g watercress
90 ml olive oil
120 g unsalted butter (80 g cut into 1 cm dice, 40 g left whole)
1 medium shallot, finely diced (70g)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
4 portobello mushrooms, stalk and cap thinly sliced (250g)
1 medium leek, green and white parts thinly sliced (180g)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
Asparagus and Pecorino Salad
250g asparagus, woody stems trimmed
60 g pecorino
½ teaspoon olive oil
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
Place the barley in a medium saucepan and pour over 1.8 litres of stock. Bring to the boil on a high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30-35 minutes, uncovered, until cooked but still retaining a bite. Strain and set aside.
Wash out the saucepan and refill it with water. Bring to the boil, add the spinach and blanch for 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the leaves to a colander. Rinse well under cold water – this will prevent colour discolouration – then squeeze out the excess moisture and set aside. Keeping the pan of water on the boil, add the watercress and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold water and squeeze out the moisture. Add to the spinach leaves, roughly chop and set aside.
Wipe out the saucepan and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the 40 g of un diced butter. Place on a medium heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring often, until soft but taking on no colour. Add the thyme and bay leaf, pour over the 400 ml of stock and bring to the boil on a high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, for the stock to reduce down to a quarter, so that you have about 100 ml left in the pan. Add the spinach and watercress leaves and cook for a final 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, lift out and discard the bay leaf and thyme, then, while still hot, carefully transfer to a blender with ½ teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Turn on the blender to blitz adding the diced butter a few cubes at a time, waiting until one batch has been incorporated before adding the next. Set aside.
Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Remove the mushrooms, along with any liquid in the pan and set aside. Return the large sauté pan to a medium high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the leek and cook for 3 minutes, until softened but having taken on no colour. Leave in the pan and set aside.
To make the salad, run a vegetable peeler from the base to the tip of each asparagus stem to make long thin ribbons. Place them in a mixing bowl, and then do the same with the cheese, running the vegetable peeler along it to create thin ribbons. Add these to the asparagus, along with the olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper. Use your hands to gently mix and set aside. Don’t make this salad too far in advance before serving; it won’t improve for sitting around.
When ready to serve, add the barley and mushrooms to the pan of leeks and pour over the remaining 200 ml of stock. Mix well, then place on a medium high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the watercress and spinach puree and stir through for a final minute or two, to warm through. Add the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and a grind of black pepper. Mix through and serve at once, with the asparagus and pecorino salad on top.
NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
NOPI’s Chilli Jam
Makes 1 medium jar
500 ml sunflower oil
30 (200 g) Thai shallots, thinly sliced
24 (80 g) garlic cloves, thinly sliced
20 g galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
10 g long red dried chillies, de-seeded
50 g dried shrimp, rinsed and patted dry
100 g palm sugar, coarsely grated if starting with a block
1½ tablespoons fish sauce
80 ml tamarind pulp water
Put the sunflower oil into a large saucepan and place on a medium high heat. Add the shallots and fry gently for 6-7 minutes, until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots and transfer them to a kitchen paper lined plate while you continue frying.
Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper lined plate and add the galangal and chillies to the pan. Fry for just 1 minute, then remove.
Finish with the shrimps: these will need just 30 seconds in the oil before being removed.
Set everything aside to cool, then transfer to a food processor. Add 90ml of the frying oil and blitz well until a smooth paste is formed. Return the paste to a medium saucepan along with the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water.
Place on a low heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until a jam-like consistency is formed.
Cool before storing in a jar in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 3 months.
NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
Courgette and Manouri Fritters
Makes 12 fritters, to serve 4, or 24 smaller fritters, to serve 8 as a snack
3 medium courgettes, trimmed and coarsely grated (580g)
2 small shallots, finely chopped (50g)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
finely grated zest of 2 limes
60g self-raising flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2½ tsp ground coriander
1½ tsp ground cardamom
150g manouri (or halloumi or feta), roughly broken into 1–2cm chunks
about 150ml sunflower oil, for frying
coarse sea salt and black pepper
Lime and cardamom soured cream
200ml soured cream
5g coriander, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
Mix together all the ingredients for the soured cream sauce in a small bowl, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Place the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside for 10minutes, then squeeze them to remove most of the liquid: you want the courgettes to keep a little bit of moisture, so don’t squeeze them completely dry. Transfer to a large bowl and add the shallots, garlic, lime zest, flour, eggs, ground coriander, cardamom and a grind of black pepper. Mix well to form a uniform batter, then fold in the manouri cheese gently so it doesn’t break up much.
Pour enough oil into a large frying pan so it rises 2–3mm up the sides and place on a medium heat. Once hot, add 4 separate heaped dessertspoons of mixture to the pan, spacing them well apart and flattening each fritter slightly with the flat side of a slotted spoon as they cook. Cook for 6 minutes turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate and keep somewhere warm while you continue with the remaining two batches.
Place 3 fritters on each plate and serve at once, with the sauce alongside or in a bowl on the side.
NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
NOPI’s Coffee and Pecan Financiers
Makes 20 cakes, to serve 10
100 g pecans
150 g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice, plus extra for greasing the muffin trays
200 g icing sugar
100 g ground almonds
100 g plain flour
65 g malt powder (or Horlicks)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground coffee beans
8 egg whites (300g)
2 shots of espresso (60ml)
Coarse sea salt
Pecan Coffee Cream
100 g pecans
3 shots of espresso (90 ml)
530 ml double cream
75 g light brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°F/gas mark 5.
Spread the pecans for both the financiers and the cream out on a parchment lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until they have taken on a bit of colour. Use the flat side of a large knife to lightly crush them. Set aside half of the pecans for the financiers and half for the cream.
To make the financiers, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once it starts to foam, cook for 3-4 minutes, until it turns golden brown and smells nutty. Strain through a muslin (or clean J-cloth) lined sieve and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.
Place the icing sugar in a large bowl with the ground almonds, flour, malt powder, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt and ground coffee. Mix together and set aside. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to form soft peaks: this should take about 3 minutes if you are whisking by hand and just 1 minute with an electric whisk. Fold the whites into the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the espresso. Next pour in half the browned butter, continuing to fold by hand as you pour in the remaining butter. Finally, fold in the pecans. Set aside in the fridge – with some cling film placed on the surface to prevent it forming a skin – for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Next make the pecan coffee cream. Place the espresso in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and then cook for about 1½ minutes on a high heat, swirling the pan to reduce it by half. Add the pecans, cream and brown sugar and return to the boil. Cook for 4 minutes, for the cream to thicken, and then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool for at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge. If you leave it overnight, the cream will thicken in the fridge so you will need to return it to a low heat in the saucepan for 1½ minutes, to loosen it up. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and set aside to cool. The nuts can be discarded at this stage (you can eat them if you like, but they don’t look attractive). Whisk the cream mixture for about 4 minutes with a hand held electric whisk, until thickened to soft peaks with the consistency of a soft mousse. It is very easy to over whip, so keep a close eye on it here. if you do over whip it, just add a little bit of milk to bring it back. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°F/gas mark 7.
Grease the moulds of two small muffin trays with moulds 5cm in diameter and line the bases with rounds of baking parchment. You will have enough to mix to make 20 financiers, so if you have 12 moulds in each tray, you can leave 4 ungreased. Spoon in the mix until three quarters full and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown on top and only just cooked through: a knife inserted should come out with a tiny amount of mix on it. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, before removing them from the tray. Serve warm or at room temperature with the pecan coffee cream alongside.
NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully