Just on my way home from the Slow Food Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin. It’s a biennial event that kicks off on Friday and finishes on Monday evening.
This year the President of Italy launched the event in the beautiful Carignano Theater. There were ministers and mayors and dignitaries galore but most of the guests needed to be reminded of the President’s name, Sergio Matarella, who doesn’t appear to have reached the notoriety of his predecessor, consequently his name was unknown to many of the 7,000 delegates who had come from 143 countries worldwide.
It’s the world’s biggest food event, over 900 exhibitors and 400 events and the majority of the stalls are small to medium sized artisan producers.
For the first time this year it was held out in the open across Turin’s beautiful parks, squares, markets, museums and along the banks of the River Po.
Carlo Petrini, the messianic President of Slow Food International gave an impassioned talk on respecting farmers all over the world who labor to produce the food that nourishes us. Slow Food launched an appeal on behalf of the inhabitants of Amatrice, the area just hours east of Rome recently devastated by earthquake. Amatrice is considered by many to be the birthplace of the best cooks in Italy.
Afterwards the colourful Terra Madre parade of farmers and food producers marched through Turin in their national dress proudly carrying their national flags. The theme of this year’s event was Loving the Earth.
Ireland was represented by the Irish Slow Food Raw Milk Presidium. They were inundated with people queuing 3-4 deep wanting to buy tasting plates of Irish raw cheeses. Maria Roeleveld represented the Slow Food Raw Milk Presidium. Other Irish delegates were Aidan Dunwoody from Comeragh Mountain Lamb, Joe Fitzmaurice of Riot Rye Bakehouse and Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery. Molly Garvey came from Slow Food Irish Youth, Aisling Stone from Slow Food North West, Pat Warner from The Harmony Farm.
We found many wonderful foods – white plums from Monreale in Sicily, Saffron from Jiloca, cured herrings from Norway, wild figs from Macedonia, Mangalica sausage from Macedonia, wild pepper from Madagascar, Argan oil and dates from Morocco, Ilo coffee from Mozambique, Bitta orange flower from Sardinia, beautiful hazelnuts from Piedmont….
There is a universal realisation that we can no longer go on treating the earth that feeds us in the cavalier way we have been. Farmers are increasingly concerned about the diminishing fertility of the soil as a direct result of the intensive farming method encouraged since the 1950’s. Even in Ireland over 50% of our land is phosphorous deficient and 10% of soils are selenium deficient. These are elements essential for life.
There are 12 Slow Food chapters here in Ireland and a huge network worldwide. The philosophy can be summed up in just three words – Good, Clean and Fair.
- Good – food should be wholesome, nourishing, delicious and good for us as well as the environment.
- Clean – safe to eat and produced in a clean environment.
- Fair – the farmers, fishermen, food producers and farm workers should be paid a fair price.
Join pro-blogger, Lucy Pearce, on a whistle-stop tour of the blogging world and discover the ingredients for a successful blog. You’ll see just how diverse blogging is, and how to find your own niche. In just three hours you will be fired up and ready to take the online world by storm with your own blog! Lucy will compare the different blogging platforms, highlighting their pros and cons so that you can select the best one for your blog. Then the fun begins as she gives you a guided tour behind the scenes on a blog and shows you the most useful gadgets and gizmos to use. You’ll learn the basics of blog design, how to customise basic blogging templates, the secrets behind writing popular posts, how to spread the word about your blog, how to find and keep readers. You will leave with a comprehensive set of notes to refer back to as you establish your blog, confident to build, design and grow your blog. Saturday 15th October, www.cookingisfun.ie
The Ballinspittle Beef, Bacon, Beer and Barbecue Battle
Ballinspittle, close to Kinsale will host a Barbecue Battle on October 22nd, 2016. There are three categories Low and Slow, Thrill of the Grill and Ethnic. Amateur and Professional entries welcome. Entry forms from Diva Café in Ballinspittle, closing date 10th October. Tel: 087 233 9434 or Tim on 087 975 0557
Taste of Cork Week, 10th-16th October
As part of Taste of Cork Week, Urru is hosting a Pop Up lunch on October 15th at No 7 Bridge Street in Barry’s Tea first premises. A long table lunch hosted by West Cork artisan producers.
For more details phone Ruth Healy at Urru on 023 885 4731 or www.urru.ie
Spice Pop UP
Another pop up to celebrate Taste Cork Week, this time Arun Kapil from Green Saffron and Canice Sharkey, chef patron of Isaacs Restaurant in MacCurtain Street, Cork will host Spice Pop Up 5 course menu on Tuesday October 11th, 8pm. Tickets are €35 including aperitif on arrival. Booking firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 450 3805
Hazelnuts are in season at present, go for a foraging walk on the hillsides around the country, delicious eaten fresh from the shells.
Roast Piedmont Peppers with Anchovies, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flaky Sea Salt
Roasting large red or yellow peppers intensifies the sweetness and makes them far easier to peel. Choose fat fleshly organic peppers.
There are three ways to roast peppers
1. Preheat the grill or better still use a charcoal grill or barbecue. Grill the peppers on all sides, turning them when necessary – they can be quite charred, but check the flesh is also soft.
2. Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas mark 9. Put the peppers on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until the skin blisters and the flesh is soft.
3. Put a wire rack over a mild gas jet, roast the pepper on all sides. When the skin is charred and the flesh is soft, remove from the heat.
When roasted by whichever method you choose, put peppers into a bowl, cover the top tightly with cling film for a few minutes, this will make them much easier to peel. Pull the skin off the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and discard – put in the hens bucket or the compost bin. Do not wash or you will loose the precious sweet juices. Divide each pepper into 2 or 3 pieces along the natural division. Put 1-3 pieces on a plate. Lay 2 beautiful anchovies on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Serve with freshly grilled sour dough bread. Simple but divine.
Barny Haughton’s Bucatini all’ Amatriciana
The sauce for this deeply delicious and simple dish has four basic ingredients: tomatoes, shallots, chilli and bacon. But there are some rules about the ingredients:
You really need to get the right bacon; the deep flavour of a good Amatriciana comes from the rendered-down fat. The best bacon cut is guanciale (pork cheek) but a good fatty unsmoked pancetta will do fine as well. Bucatini, (like thick spaghetti) is best for the pasta but rigatoni or penne will also do well – but don’t use fresh pasta.
And finally: use pecorino not parmesan. The difference may not seem a big deal but what you get from pecorino (made from sheep’s milk) is a sharpness which works brilliantly with the rich Amatriciana sauce. Parmesan (made from cow’s milk) is sweeter and less defined in its flavour
Serves 4 people
400g guanciale or a piece of fatty pancetta
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
3 shallots very finely sliced
600g ripe tomatoes – or a 380g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
80grms aged pecorino, grated
First make passata out of the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350/gas mark 4, place the tomatoes on a roasting tray, toss them in a little olive oil and salt and bake them for about 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then pass through a mouli or sieve, leaving behind only the dry skin and seeds. If you have lots and lots of ripe tomatoes, for example 5 kilos, you could do as above, then reheat the passata to simmering and transfer to sterilised jars, screw the lids on tight and keep in a cool place for up to three months until needed.
Slice the guanciale into thickish rashers and then into lardons about 1cm wide. Put a splash of olive oil in the bottom of a deep solid bottomed sauté or frying pan, bring to a medium heat and put the lardon in the pan. Once they have started to fry, turn the heat down and continue to fry gently. As the fat renders down, pour it off into a bowl. Continue doing this until the lardons become crispy. Drain the remaining fat off into the bowl; put the lardons to one side. In the same pan, fry the sliced shallots until soft but not brown. Add the chilli flakes, fry a little longer, and then add the passata, bay leaves and a few twists of black pepper. Simmer gently for 25 minutes and keep warm
Cook the pasta in the normal way but make sure you cook it to just before it’s al dente. This is because you are going to finish it in the sauce for a further 30 seconds or so. Drain, toss in olive oil and put to one side.
Meanwhile, add the rendered fat to the tomato sauce and have the crispy lardons ready in a warm place. Next, add the pasta and lardons to the sauce in the frying pan, simmer for 30 seconds and serve immediately with lots of grated pecorino
Crostini di Fegatini
Crostini simply means croutons, in Italy they are served with various toppings. Chicken liver crostini are the best loved in Tuscany. I particularly love this version which was given to me by Mimmo Baldi and is served at his restaurant Il Vescovino in Panzano in the Chianti. I like to drizzle a little Vin Santo over each each crostini just as soon as it is fried in olive oil. Serve immediately – you always know when they have been served to a table because conversation stops and all one can hear is mmm, mmm!
225g (9oz) fresh chicken livers – preferably organic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets
20g (¾oz) capers
20g (¾oz) gherkins
3 stalks of flat parsley
100ml (4floz) port or marsala or Vin Santo
100ml (4floz) good home-made chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
25-50g(1-2oz) freshly grated Parmesan
15-20 slices of French bread 7 cm (2¾inch) approx. chargrilled, toasted or fried in olive oil until golden brown on each side.
Season the chicken livers with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté the chicken livers in a little olive oil in a small sauté pan over a medium heat until they are just firm, remove from the pan and drain in a sieve or colander for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the dice of carrot, onion and celery cover and cook until soft – about 5-6 minutes. Add the chicken livers and cook for about 10 minutes more, then let this mixture cool for 30 minutes.
Add the anchovies, capers, gherkins and parsley to the livers chop roughly, taste and correct the seasoning.
Reheat this mixture, add the port, marsala or Vin Santo and reduce until all the liquid has been absorbed, then add the chicken stock. The mixture should have a moist creamy consistency. Taste and correct seasoning.
Just as soon as the croutons are fried or toasted drizzle with Vin Santo, spread with a generous amount of the fegatini mixture and serve immediately.
To make a more substantial plate, add a few ruffles of freshly sliced Parma ham and some rocket leaves – one of my favourite starters.
The name means pick-me-up and not surprising either considering the amount of booze! This is a fairly recent Italian pudding which seems to have originated in Venice but which is now served in restaurants all over Italy, and it always tastes different. We’ve had rave reviews for this version which is very easily put together. Mascarpone cheese, which is an essential ingredient, is now becoming more widely available.
38-40 Boudoir biscuits
12 fl oz (350 ml/1 1/2 cups) strong espresso coffee (if your freshly) made coffee is not strong enough, add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee)
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) brandy
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Jamaica rum
3 ozs (75g) dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated, preferably free range
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) castor sugar
9 ozs (255g/1 generous cup) Mascarpone cheese
Unsweetened Cocoa (Dutch process)
Dish 10 x 8 inches (25.5 x 20.5cm) with low sides or 1lb loaf tin (8 x 4 inches (20.5 x 10cm) lined with cling film
Mix the coffee with the brandy and rum. Roughly grate the chocolate (we do it in the food processor with the pulse button). Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it reaches the ‘ribbon’ stage and is light and fluffy, then fold in the Mascarpone a tablespoon at a time.
Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold gently into the cheese mixture. Now you are ready to assemble the Tira Misu.
Dip each side of the boudoir biscuits one at a time into the coffee mixture and arrange side by side in the dish or tin. Spread half the Mascarpone mixture gently over the biscuits, sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the top, then another layer of soaked biscuits and finally the rest of the Mascarpone. Cover the whole bowl or loaf tin carefully with cling film or better still slide it into a plastic bag and twist the end. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours – I usually make it the day before I use it.
Just before serving scatter the remainder of the chocolate over the top and dredge with unsweetened cocoa.
Note: Tiramisu will keep for several days in a fridge, but make sure it is covered so that it doesn’t pick up ‘fridgie’ tastes.
*Mascarpone, a delicious rich creamy cheese which originated in Lodi in Lombardy is made by curdling cream with citric acid. It is often used instead of cream with fruit and pastries.
Fritto di Bosco Italian Fruit Salad
This recipe made in seconds makes a delicious fresh fruit salad. Use the best fruit you can find – the combination can vary. Marcella Hazan made it for me with wild berries from the woods and it was quite exquisite. She dressed it at the table just before we ate it.
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) blackberries
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) blueberries
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) wild strawberries (fraises du bois) or small strawberries
4 ozs (110g/ 1 cup) raspberries
1 or 2 peaches or nectarines
2-4 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 5 American tablespoons) golden caster sugar
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
lots of fresh mint leaves
Combine the berries and the sliced peaches or nectarines in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice over the fruit, toss gently. Tear lots of fresh mint leaves into the fruit, stir gently, taste and add sugar or juice if necessary.
Sospiri di Monaca
These delicious little hazelnut meringues are made all over Sicily. The myth of nuns being trapped inside the convent walls fantasizing about what they may be missing is popular in many parts of Italy and lots of confections are made, supposedly to cheer up the good sisters!
7 ozs (200g/scant 1½ cups) hazelnuts
4 egg whites, preferably free range
10 ozs (285g/2½ cups) icing sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.
Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 15 minutes approx. or until the skins loosen. Rub off the skins in a tea towel and chop the nuts as finely as possible.
Put the egg whites and the sieved icing sugar into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Gently fold in the chopped hazelnuts and lemon zest. Spoon out the meringue in generous blobs with a teaspoon on to baking sheets lined with silicone paper or oiled tin foil. Tease the little blobs into tear shapes. Bake at 150C/300F/regulo 2 for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
Serve with a cup of coffee. They are also wonderful with a few raspberries or a perfect peach and a blob of cream.
Note: Like all meringues Nuns’ Sighs will keep for ages in an airtight tin.