ArchiveJanuary 2017

Chinese New Year

All over the world Chinese communities are ramping up to celebrate Chinese New Year which begins today – Saturday January 28th and lasts until February 15th 2018.

This is the Year of the Rooster – the date changes every year because it is connected to the lunisolar Chinese calendar.
Each New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese Zodiac. The latter is divided into 12 blocks or houses but each lasts a year rather than a month. People who are born in the year of the Rooster are said to be honest, energetic, intelligent, resourceful, flamboyant, flexible, diverse and confident, contagious, charming….

Huge colourful noisy parades with traditional lion dances, bell ringing, fireworks, music….. take place all over the world and the celebrations last for at least two full weeks.
Traditionally, it’s a very special time of the year for Chinese families.

On New Year’s Eve they gather together all over the world for a reunion dinner and ‘spring clean’ their houses to sweep away bad fortune for the coming years. Lots of presents, for everyone traditionally children would be given red envelopes stuffed with ‘lucky money’ and positive good wishes on New Year’s Day. You’ll be amused to hear that nowadays they are more likely to have a red envelope app so their relatives can transfer money digitally….

There are many superstitions and customs associated with New Year, several associated with food. An empty rice jar is considered to be a bad omen for the coming year. Porridge should not be eaten for breakfast on Chinese New Year Day – it’s considered to be the food of the poor and doesn’t bode well for the future either.

As with all celebrations, food is an integral part of Chinese New Year. There are many simple recipes that can be made at home some in minutes with easily available ingredients. But, I absolutely love to visit the Chinese shops and supermarkets in many of our cities. In Dublin one my favourites is the Asia Market in Drury Street which has recently had a makeover. I’m intrigued with the many ‘strange’ ingredients that I’m unfamiliar with and bombard the always busy staff with questions about what to do with’ this and that’ and always leave the shop with bags full of beautiful fresh vegetables, tropical fruit and lots of jars and bottles of exotic sounding ingredients to experiment with.

They’ve also got quite a range of Chinese porcelain, bamboo steamers, clay pots and cool utensils. In Cork there are several tempting Chinese shops that I also enjoy rummaging in, like Jia Jia Market on Cornmarket Street and Asian Foods on North Main Street.

If you were born in the Year of the Rooster your lucky numbers are 5, 7, 8, lucky colours brown, gold and yellow, lucky flowers gladiola and cockscomb and lucky direction south, southwest.
So now you know, let’s all celebrate together and Happy New Year of the Rooster. Here are some more of my favourite Chinese recipes.

Masterclass in Wild Fowl with Slow Food Galway
On Sunday February 5th 2017, at the Cáit Curran Síol Centre, Moycullen, Eoin Warner will give a short talk and slide show as well as bringing a selection of wild birds. There will be hands on experience in plucking and preparing the wild fowl, followed by lunch of game casserole and other dishes.
Phone Kate 087 931 2333 or for further information.

Top Favourite Utensils
Chinese Steamer – no house should be without a Chinese bamboo steamer. They have two or three tiers and cost tuppence halfpenny! Even if you never cook a dumpling, steam a fish or a boa bun in your life they are brilliant for steaming vegetables or even potatoes and look chic on the table to serve poppadums, bread or floury steamed potatoes.
Available in several sizes from Asian shops.

Pizza, Calzone, Panzerotti, Piadina…..
Sadly, this wonderful dish has had its reputation besmirched by fast and frozen food manufacturers. However, in the space of a single morning (including a pizza-orientated light lunch) you will learn how to prepare indescribably delicious, melt-in-the-mouth pizza! We shall cover everything from different sorts of pizza bases to innovative toppings, how to cook first class pizza in a domestic oven or a wood burning oven to the importance of using the right olive oil. Plus, we will look at all the other exciting things you can make with the same dough including a Calzone, Piadini, Sfinciuni, Foccacia with Maldon Sea Salt and Rosemary, Carta Musica as well as Dough balls with garlic butter. Friday February 17th, 2017

Stevie Parle’s Chinese Lettuce Cups

A past pupil of the Ballymaloe Cookery School who has recently opened his fifth restaurant Palatino in London

A great starter or canapé

Serves 4-6

50g/2oz of vermicelli noodles
Vegetable oil
½ red onion, chopped
1 red chili, deseeded and sliced
½ small bunch of coriander, roots chopped and leaves separated
A thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
350g/12oz pork mince
½ teaspoon of crushed white pepper
2 tablespoon hoisin
1 tablespoon soy
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 castelfranco or soft lettuce, separated into leaves
3 spring onions, shredded
2 handfuls of peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Bring a pan of water to the boil, pour over the vermicelli and leave to soak for five minutes. Pour into a sieve and rinse under cold water. Chop into small lengths and put to one side.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok over a medium heat. Add the onion, chilli, coriander roots, ginger and garlic and stir fry until softened. Remove from the pan, then add another small splash of oil to the pan and turn up the heat.

Lightly season the pork, then add to the hot pan and fry for a few minutes until cooked through. Return the ginger, etc, to the pan and add the noodles, white pepper, hoisin, soy, sugar, vinegar and sesame oil.
Cook for another minute, then take off the heat and stir in the coriander leaves. Check the seasoning and adjust to suit your tastes. Place a heaped tablespoonful into the centre of each lettuce leaf, then top with the spring onions and peanuts.

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Cold Chicken with a Spicy Sichuanese Sauce

Serves 2-4

About 3/4 lb (300–350g) cold, cooked chicken, without bones
3 spring onions
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinkiang (brown rice) vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon chicken stock
3–4 tablespoons chilli oil with 1/2 tablespoon of its sediment (or more, if you wish)
1/4–1/2 teaspoon ground, roasted Sichuan pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut or tear the chicken as evenly as possible into bite-sized strips or slivers and place them in a deep bowl. Cut the spring onions at a steep angle into thin slices. Mix them and the salt with the chicken.
If using sesame seeds, toast them gently in a dry wok or frying pan for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden, then tip out into a small dish.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
When you are ready to eat, pour the sauce over the chicken, and mix well with chopsticks or salad servers. Arrange on a serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Taken from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, by Fuchsia Dunlop

Kenneth Lo’s Egg Fried Rice

Simple as it is, this is a satisfying dish to eat even with only a very limited amount of accompaniments, such as some chopped pickles, or just a tablespoon or two of soy sauce.
Serves 2-3, with at least one other dish

1 onion
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 spring onions
3½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ bowls of cooked rice, cold
Slice and coarsely chop the onion. Break the eggs into a cup, add the salt and beat with a fork for 10 seconds. Clean and cut the spring onions into fine shavings.
Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. When hot, add the chopped onions and stir fry in the hot oil for 45 seconds. Pour the salted beaten egg into one side of the pan or wok, and add the rice on the other side. When the eggs are about to set, scramble them, then bring them over and mix evenly with the rice which is being stir-fried in the same pan. Sprinkle the contents with half the spring onion shavings. Turn and stir the ingredients together.
Serve by transferring the contents into a large serving bowl or into individual bowls, and sprinkle the top of the fried rice with the remainder of the spring onion shavings.

From New Chinese Vegetarian Cooking by Kenneth Lo

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Fish Fragrant Aubergines

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as part of a Chinese meal

600 g aubergines
cooking oil for deep-frying (400ml will do if you are using a round-bottomed wok)
1½ tablespoons Sichuanese chilli bean pastep, or Sichuan pickled chilli paste, or a mixture of the two
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoons garlic, finely chopped
150 ml stock
2 teaspoons caster sugar
¾ teaspoon potato flour, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar
4 tablespoons spring onion greens, finely sliced

Cut the aubergines lengthways into three thick slices, then cut these into evenly sized batons. Sprinkle them with salt, mix well and leave in a colander for at least 30 minutes to drain.
In a wok, heat the oil for deep-frying to 180C. Add the aubergines in batches and deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until slightly golden on the outside and soft and buttery within. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
Drain off the deep-frying oil, rinse the wok if necessary, then return it to a medium flame. When the wok is hot again, add 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the chilli bean paste and stir fry until the oil is red and fragrant, then add the ginger and garlic and continue to stir fry until you can smell their aromas. Take care not to burn these seasonings; remove the wok from the heat for a few seconds if necessary to control the temperature (you want a gentle, coaxing sizzle, not a scorching heat).
Add the stock and sugar and mix well. Season with salt to taste if necessary. Add the fried aubergines to the sauce and let them simmer gently for a minute or so to absorb some of the flavours. Then stir the potato flour mixture, pour it over the aubergines and stir in gently to thicken the sauce. Add the vinegar and spring onions and stir a few times, then serve.

From Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop

Fuchsia Dunlop’s Beef with Cumin

You may use prime steak if you wish, but I usually make do with braising steak.
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as part of a Chinese meal

340 g beefsteak, trimmed
400 ml groundnut oil, for frying
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh red chillies, seeds and stalks discarded and finely chopped
2-4 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sesame oil
For the marinade
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon potato flour
1 tablespoon water

Cut the beef across the grain into thin slices, ideally 4 x 3 cm. Add the marinade ingredients and mix well.
Heat the groundnut oil to about 140C. Add the beef and stir gently. As soon as the pieces have separated, remove them from the oil and drain well; set aside.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Over a high flame, add the ginger, garlic, fresh chillies, chilli flakes and cumin and stir fry briefly until fragrant. Return the beef to the wok and stir well, seasoning with salt to taste.
When all the ingredients are sizzlingly fragrant and delicious, add the spring onions and toss briefly. Remove from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

From Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook by Fuchsia Dunlop

New Food Trends

What will we be eating in 2017?

Well for most of us it will probably be more of the same but my top tip for what it’s worth is – eat a wide variety of real food and no food products – real food are not the same as food products. We need lots of bio diversity to feed and nourish our gut biome – the health of our gut flora has a phenomenal impact on both our mental and physical health.
When I say real, I mean unprocessed, unpasteurised organic, chemical free, vegetables directly from our garden or from a real farmer or gardener in your local Farmers or Country Market. Today I want to give a glimpse into trends and the food scene for 2017.

There is a significant rise in the number of part time vegetarians – people who are reducing their meat consumption because of health, sustainability and animal welfare concerns. The rise and rise of vegan diets continues to confound the sceptics…..

Free from…..everything…..
Continues to gain market share even among those who do not have allergies or intolerances – the perception is its healthier – this epidemic of faddism is dangerous for our health, the more we removed from our diet the less diversity we have in our systems.

Sports Nutrition is moving main stream, energy balls, power drinks…. The virtuous triangle of great food, exercise and great sleep rings true. Bone Broths are huge. Turmeric, climbs and climbs, it contains, curcumin, a super healthy compound, you see it in health sports drinks as well as food. Flavoured waters are exploding. Watermelon water is set to take over from coconut water in 2017. Kombucha, water and milk kefir and raw organic jersey milk and cream are virtually mainstream but there are increasingly bizarre flavours, birch water, cactus water and then there are drinkable meals and regional cocktails.

Less Processed Food
Consumer demand for less processed foods is forcing companies to remove artificial ingredients and to reduce sugar and salt in their products. What was formerly alternative is moving towards main stream.

Rise and Rise of Online Shopping
Traffic chaos in towns and cities is fuelling the phenomenal increase in online shopping and home deliveries.

Organic, Antibiotic Free, Hormone Free, GM Free….
Demand is steadily rising as consumers become more aware and educated through the internet, media, films and Utube. Healthy Kids Meals is attracting a huge R & D budget as the obesity challenge deepens.

The Home Delivery Revolution – Meal Kits
Technology continues to play a greater role. Home delivery is well established in most major cities. The trend for ‘dining in’ instead of ‘dining out’ is beginning to cause concern to restaurateurs.
Meal Kits with all the ingredients prepped in a box complete with step by step instructions for how to finish the dish at home ticks all the boxes for busy commuters and parents who want the convenience and feel good factor without the hassle and waste. What’s not to like about that…. Drones may soon be delivering our meal kits and takeaway food….. Both Google and Virginia Tech are trialling this in the US.

Chefs getting more involved with farmers….
Either buying or renting land themselves or partnering with farmers so they can use what freshest and best in season and have the option to use all parts of the plant or animal. Artisan Butchery – house made charcuterie; chefs are using more unsung cuts of meat and experimenting with grass fed jerky, seafood jerky, pickles, artisan condiments Fermented foods will get even bigger.
Fine dining continues to lose out to casual neighbourhood places doing edgy reasonably priced food.

Clean labels
In response to growing consumer unease, food manufactures are scrambling to produce simpler products with fewer more natural sounding ingredients and greater transparency. The clean food frenzy is also running out of puff and credibility. Low fat, carbohydrates and sugar rich foods are the villains of 2016 and 2017.

Plant Proteins
Perhaps the strongest food trend of all, not just vegetables but also expect to see more and more fungi and algae. (low cal, high in nutrients). Yoghurt with vegetables of course
Brussel Sprouts are having their moment; move over kale, beets are all the rage – the flavour of 2017. Kaleina, a mini version of kale and swede turnip chips are already with us. Meat and fish substitutes abound. A veggie burger that bleeds launched in 2016 is only the beginning. The term ‘plant butcher’ has already been coined according to the sustainable food focused media.

Insect Protein
Bugs will be the next big thing in protein. I’ve seen this coming for a number of years now; I’ve eaten ants in Copenhagen. Grasshoppers in Mexico and Tarantulas in Loas but despite the convincing nutritional arguments I can’t see it coming ‘main stream’ in this decade.

The sous wide craze is waning at last (cooking food in a plastic bag in a temperature controlled water bath). Have to say, I was never convinced and am so delighted to see this particular practice slipping out of favour in favour of cooking over fire.

Cooking over Fire
We can’t get enough of charred, blackened, torched and smoked food not just fish but meat, vegetables, drinks, even cordials and cocktails……

Is the new juicing….did wonder about that craze, surprise, surprise! turns out that soup contains the fibre, seeds, rind and pulp that juicing often discards.

Hot, Hotter, Hottest……our appetite for heat continues, chillies and ever hotter sauces, Sri Racha is now virtually looked on as a sauce for wimps but we are also loving and having fun with Shichimi ogarashi from Japan. Sweet and spicy, Gochujang from Korea, Sambal Oelek from Indonesia, Harrissa from North Africa, Tsire, a spice mixture from West Africa, Zhoug a Yemeni green chilli sauce and spicy Berbere from Ethiopia….

Heirloom varieties beyond Tomatoes, Apples and Potatoes…
Ancient grains, chilies and pulses, Kamut, Einkorn, Teff from Ethopia, Amaranth the ancient grain of the Aztec, Sorghum is the new quinoa. Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain and is used for food, fodder and the production of alcoholic beverages. It is regarded as the fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world. Some of the health benefits of sorghum include its ability to prevent certain types of cancer, help control diabetes, improve digestive health. And who knew that porridge would become so cool, we’ll see porridge served at breakfast, lunch and any time in between with sweet and savoury toppings.

Food Trucks and Shacks
Street inspired foods – authentic ethnic both in cafés, restaurants and in food truck, pierogi, boa buns, multi ethnic dumplings, Japanese crepes – Okonomi yaki.
Sprouting Seeds (I remember that well) is predicted to be another strong food trend. Not just seeds but nuts, beans and grains. This hugely increases the nutritional value and creates enzymes that make plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches and vitamins more available to the body.

Bowl Food, another hot trend. We love serving food in bowls everything from ramen to noodles, pasta, curries, conghee, tagines, rendang….. Check out Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson published by Kyle Books

Build your own Pizza
Pizzerias are inviting customers to build their own pizza from a range of toppings laid out like a salad bar. Can certainly see the appeal of this….

Quest for less Familiar Flavours
Expect to see more Eastern European food, Georgian, Middle Eastern, African flavours particularly Ethiopian….Poke pronounced po-kay is sweeping across the US, cubed fish or shellfish often yellow fin tuna or octopus with soy sauce, cucumber, spring onions, sesame oil served over rice. The taco craze continues unabated for 2017.
So there you have it and a few of the hot trends for 2017 but there’s much much more….

Hot Tips
Ballymaloe Good Living Day and Ballymaloe Relish 5k Lucky Run
Join us for a day- long event devoted to wellness of mind, body and spirit. The objective of the Ballymaloe Good Living Day is for visitors to learn at least one new life enhancing ide or thought to carry through 2017 and beyond. Don’t miss many inspiring talks – Communicating the Sugar Message, Life Begins in the Garden, Mindfulness and Stress Management, Change your Food, Change your Life with myself at 11am….

Saturday Pizza Masterclass
Imagine, the perfect pizza. Its base is made from a delicious sourdough with a thin bottom and a crunchy crust. Its topping is homemade tomato sauce, the freshest buffalo mozzarella and a few leaves of basil or perhaps wild mushrooms, chorizo and homemade goat’s cheese, shrimps from Ballycotton, local smoked salmon or maybe even fresh broccoli from the garden. This three-hour masterclass will take you through all the basics (choosing ingredients, making dough, getting the best results from your oven) before explaining how to create both traditional and contemporary pizzas. We’re talking everything from the classics (Margherita, Pepperoni and Calzone) to modern gourmet masterpieces – think Shrimp with watercress and dill-mayo and Homemade Cottage Cheese with mint, caramelized red onion and salsa verde!
Friday February 10th 2017 from 2.30-5pm.

Nina Olsson’s Bowl of Miso Happy Soup

Miso soup with ginger, tofu, soba noodles and shiitake mushrooms

This easy-to-make soup is the perfect, light comfort food all year around. Miso is a big deal in Japan where it’s a staple of daily life. The uses for it are endless and its rich flavour makes it a great addition to any kitchen. Miso paste is made from fermented soya beans and is available in different varieties – lighter miso is milder in taste and has been fermented for less time than the darker variety.
Miso soup is popular for fasting and weight loss as it contains very few calories. It’s also a perfect restorative soup when you want to recharge with something light. This recipe delivers the lightness of miso soup while adding a little extra texture and flavour.

Serves 4

Dashi (Makes 1 litre)
1 strip of kombu seaweed
1 litre water

Miso Soup
250g soba noodles
drizzle of rapeseed oil
75g shiitake mushrooms
150g firm tofu, cut into small cubes
few pinches of shichimi togarashi or chilli flakes
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons shoyu
75g broccolini or broccoli florets
75g miso paste (I use white or yellow)
1 tablespoon lime juice
drizzle of sesame oil

Toppings (Optional)
cucumber, cut in thin sticks
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
handful of sesame seeds
handful of fresh herbs (chives or coriander fit perfectly)

To make the dashi, soak the kombu in the water overnight in the fridge, or for a minimum of 1 hour. Transfer to a large saucepan, bring to a simmer then remove the kombu. Strain the liquid through a sieve and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions. Rinse in cold water and drain.

Heat a frying pan over a medium–high heat and add a drizzle of rapeseed oil. Stir-fry the shiitake mushrooms over a medium-high heat for a couple of minutes then remove from the pan. Clean the pan and add another drizzle of rapeseed oil, then stir-fry the tofu cubes until golden and sprinkle with salt and a little shichimi togarashi. Remove from the heat.

Bring the dashi to the boil in a soup pot, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Add the ginger, shoyu, mushrooms and broccolini and simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Separate 200ml of the dashi broth and dissolve the miso in it. Pour the concentrated miso dashi back into the pot with the rest of the dashi and add the lime juice and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the flavour with additional miso paste, if needed.

Pour the miso soup into four bowls then add the tofu cubes and soba noodles. Top with cucumber, spring onions and sesame seeds, chives
or coriander.

Taken from Nina Olsson’s Bowls of Goodness

Butchine’s Buttermilk Chicken Bun

Serves 6

350 ml buttermilk
500 g chicken thighs, boneless (6 pieces)
Oil for frying or beef dripping
100 g plain white flour
1 teaspoon oregano or marjoram
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix the buttermilk and chicken in a bowl. Cover and allow to marinade for at least 2 hours, better still overnight.
When ready to cook:- heat the oil in a deep fry to 175C. mix the flour, oregano, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, sea salt, freshly ground pepper in a shallow dish. Remove the chicken pieces one at a time, shake off excess buttermilk. Quickly coat in seasoned flour. Fry in the oil until fully cooked through and golden brown 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, split a bun, spread a good dollop of guacamole and a leaf of lettuce on the side and some chipotle mayonnaise on the other, some shredded lettuce plus a crisp streaky rasher on the other.
When the chicken is cooked through, drain on kitchen paper. Lay on top of the bacon and top with the other bun. Press together and enjoy right away.

Mackerel Poke

Pronounced poh-kay – this is a Hawaiian version of sashimi or ceviche. It would be made with really fresh raw tuna, raw mackerel is also delicious.

Serves 8

Sushi Rice

450g (1lb) sushi rice ‘No 1 Extra Fancy’
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) water

Vinegar Water
50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons (1 1/2 American tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 2 limes

4 super fresh mackerel – 8 fillets or 800g (1 3/4lbs) tuna cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes
1 small cucumber, diced
2 avocados, roughly cubed

8 spring onions, sliced at an angle
toasted sesame seeds, black and white
4 sheets of nori seaweed, snipped into strips
fresh coriander leaves

First cook the sushi rice. Rinse the rice for 10 minutes in a colander or sieve under cold running water or until the water becomes clear.

‘Wake up’ the rice by sitting it in 600ml (1pint/2 1/2 cups) cold water for 30 to 45 minutes. In the same water, bring to the boil and then cook for 10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Do not stir, do not even take off the lid. Turn up the heat for 10 seconds before turning the heat off. Remove the lid, place a tea towel over the rice, replace the lid and sit for 20 minutes.

Next make the vinegar water. Mix the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt together in a bowl until dissolved. Turn the rice out onto a big flat plate (preferably wooden). While the rice is still hot pour the vinegar solution over the rice and mix the rice and vinegar together in a slicing action with the aid of a wooden spoon. Don’t stir. You must do it quickly preferably fanning the rice with the fan. This is much easier if you have a helper. Allow to cool on the plate and cover with kitchen paper or a tea towel. (It will soak up the liquid as it cools.)

Scoop out into a timber or flat plate. Sprinkle with rice vinegar, toss and allow to cool.

Whisk the sesame oil, mirin, soy sauce, lime juice in a bowl. Add the diced mackerel or tuna. Toss in the dressing. Add the diced cucumber and cubed avocado. Toss gently.

Divide the rice between shallow bowls (or boxes for street food). Fill with the mackerel mixture. Sprinkle with spring onions, sesame seeds, some nori seaweed shards and garnish with coriander leaves. Drizzle any remaining dressing over the top and serve right away.

Agnes’ Pierogi and Uszka

Pierogi and Uszka are plump little Russian dumplings with delicious fillings. Pierogi are larger than Uszka. Serve with some cream.

Serves 5 approx. Makes approx 25 pierogi or 30-35 uszka.

300g strong white flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon oil
Approx.300ml water

First make the dough: Sieve the flour into a bowl, add salt. Boil the water. Let it cool down a little. Mix egg yolk into the flour. Add oil to the hot water and pour into the flour. Mix to a dough. Cover and leave to rest for 15mins. Meanwhile make the filling of your choice.
Potato and cheese filling:

50g grated onion
50g butter
450g cold mashed potatoes (750g whole potatoes)
225g cream cheese or more
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in salted water, peel and mash, add salt, freshly ground pepper and 25g butter.
Cook the onion in the remaining 25g butter until pale golden for 8-10 minutes. Combine with the potatoes and cheese. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Meat filling (left over roast meat is ideal)

250g chicken, lamb or pork, chopped
225g onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

To make the meat filling: Cook the meat until tender. Chop the onion and garlic finely. Cook uncovered in olive oil until just coloured. Whizz the meat in a food processor, add the onion, season well with salt and freshly ground pepper, mix well.

Mushroom and Cabbage stuffing
1 x 500g jar sauerkraut, one can also use fresh white cabbage, thinly shredded
50g dried mushroom (use porcini or shiitake mushrooms), chopped
225g onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

Next make the dried mushroom filling: Soak the mushrooms in cold water for a few hours before cooking. Chop the cabbage finely. Rinse and cook in until almost tender. Cook the mushroom in one tablespoon olive oil until tender. Chop the onion and sweat in olive oil until golden. Drain the mushroom and chop finely. Mix mushroom, cabbage and onion together, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Caramelized Onions
450g onions, sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

First start the caramelized onions because they take a long time to cook, heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, toss in the onions and cook over a low heat for whatever length of time it takes for the onions to soften and caramelize to a golden brown, 30-45 minutes.

To make the pierogi: Roll dough to a thickness of 5mm, stamp out circles with a glass or scone cutter (6 cm). Use a smaller cutter for uszka. Put a teaspoon of stuffing in the middle of each circle and seal the edges to make crescents or half moon shapes.

To cook the pierogi: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, cook the pierogi or uszka for few minutes till tender. (They will rise to the top of the saucepan when cooked through – 7 mins.) Melt some butter in a pan and fry pierogi until golden on the both sides.

Serve with a blob of crème fraiche and caramelized onion rings on top.

Trine Hahnemann’s Winter Apple Layer Cake

Danes have a special love for layer cakes, especially homemade ones; there are a lot of family recipes! These crisp layers are a classic Danish way to make the layer cake at home, and I always make this in winter. The cream for this is partly inspired by my favourite Danish author Karen Blixen – she has described the cake as part of her dinner party repertoire.


For the apple sauce
600g/1lb 5oz Bramley apples
40g/¼ cup caster (granulated) sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
For the layers
175g/¾ cup minus 1 tsp soft butter
175g/¾ cup caster (granulated) sugar
1 egg
175g/1â…“ cups plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom
For the cream
100g/3½oz hazelnuts
400ml/generous 1½ cups double (heavy) cream
100ml/scant ½ cup single (light) cream
2 tsp icing (confectioners’) sugar

Peel and dice the apples and put them into a pan with the sugar and lemon juice. Let them simmer for 15–20 minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Draw a 20-cm/8-in circle using a pencil on 7 sheets of baking parchment. Turn these over and arrange on as many baking sheets as necessary to fit (you may have to bake these in batches).
Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in the egg. Mix the flour and spices together and fold into the creamed mixture. Using a spatula, spread the mixture as evenly as possible inside each visible circle on the pieces of baking parchment.
Bake in the oven, in batches if necessary, for 6–8 minutes or until the edges start to take on some colour. Set aside to cool on the sheets of baking parchment on a wire rack.
While the layers are cooling, roast the hazelnuts. Spread them out on a baking sheet and roast in the oven, then wrap them in a clean tea towel and give them a good rub, so the skins come off. Roughly chop them.
Whip both creams together with the icing (confectioners’) sugar and stir in two-thirds of the chopped hazelnuts.
Assemble the cake just before serving, and no sooner as it goes soft very quickly. Place a crisp layer on a serving plate and add some apple sauce, then add another crisp layer, then some cream. Repeat this layer pattern twice, then add the last crisp layer and some apple sauce on top. Sprinkle the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top and serve right away.
Taken from Scandinavian Comfort Food by Trine Hahnemann (Quadrille, £25)
Photography by Columbus Leth

Watermelon Lemonade

4 ozs (110 g/½ cup) sugar
4 fl oz (110 ml/½ cup) water
600 g (20 ozs/4 cups) cubed watermelon
675 ml (24 fl ozs/3 cups) cold water
110 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) fresh lemon juice

Place the watermelon into a blender. Cover and puree until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Next bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cold water and lemon juice. Put lots of ice cubes into 12 glasses, scoop 2 or 3 tablespoons of watermelon puree over the ice, then top with the lemonade. Gently stir before serving.

Tribute to Veronica Steele

This week’s column was to be about Food Trends for 2017 but as I penned the first few paragraphs the sad news of the passing of Veronica Steele’s, the matriarch of the Irish cheesemakers, passing came through and stopped me in my tracks. So instead, I want to write a little tribute to an extraordinary woman who has touched so many of our lives and whose legacy will continue to remind us of this, bright, beautiful, charismatic, self-deprecating character who unwittingly started the artisan food movement in Ireland.
I can’t begin to improve on this wonderfully description of how it all began in Veronica’s own words on the Milleens website (
“The origin of the initial concept is fading in the mists of time. Hunger and shame. There was nothing to eat: nothing interesting. The old shop in Castletownbere with its saucepans and shovels and Goulding’s Manures clock wagging away the time, and smoked hams hanging from hooks in the ceiling and huge truckles of cheddar on the wooden counter with their mouldy bandages the crumbs of the cheese strewn around, scrumptious, tempting, melt-in-the-mouth crumbs which you could nibble at as you queued to be served, with your message list. And then she would cut a fine big chunk, golden or white and what I missed the most is the way it crumbled. So they closed it and gutted it and extended it and re-opened it. Enter the trolley. Spotless, sterile, pre-packed portions sweating in their plastic. Tidy piles. Electronic scales. Keep moving. Don’t block the aisles. No idle chatter. Big brother is watching you. Don’t ask for credit. Oh Boy!
And then one day in a different shop that jolly French pair of geriatrics asking for the local cheese and being given Calvita.
And then we bought a farm and a cow. Her name was Brisket and she only had one horn. She lost the other one gadding down a hill. tail-waving, full of the joys of Spring. Her brakes must have failed. We had to put Stockholm tar on the hole right through the hot Summer. And all the milk she had. At least three gallons a day. Wonder of wonders and what to do with it all. And then remembering those marvelous cheddars. So for two years I made cheddars. They were never as good as the ones in Castletownbere had been but they were infinitely better than the sweaty vac-packed bits.
Very little control at first but each failed batch spurred me on to achieve, I was hooked. Once I had four little cheddars on a sunny windowsill outside, airing themselves and Prince, the dog, stole them and buried them in the garden. They were nasty and sour and over salted anyway. Those were the days.
So one day Norman said, ‘Why don;t you try making a soft cheese for a change’. So I did. It was a quare hawk alright. Wild, weird, and wonderful. Never to be repeated. You can never step twice into the same stream. Now while this was all going on we had a mighty vegetable garden full of fresh spinach and courgette’s and french beans, and little peas, and all the sorts of things you couldn’t buy in a shop for love or money. And we would sell the superfluity to a friend who was a chef in a restaurant and took great pains with her ingredients. She would badger the fishermen for the pick of their catch and come on a Monday morning with her sacks to root through our treasure house of a garden for the freshest and the bestest. Now I was no mean cook myself and would have ready each Monday for her batches of yogurt, plain and choc-nut, quiches, game pies (Made with hare and cream – beautiful), pork pies, all adorned with pastry leaves and rosettes as light and delicious as you can imagine, and fish pies, and, my specialty, gateau St Honore – those were the days.
So there was this soft cheese beginning to run. We wrapped up about twelve ounces of it and away it went with the vegetables and the pies and all the other good things to Sneem and the Blue Bull restaurant where it made its debut. Not just any old debut, because, as luck would have it, guess who was having dinner there that very same night? Attracted no doubt by Annie’s growing reputation and being a pal of the manager’s, Declan Ryan of the Arbutus Lodge Hotel in Cork had ventured forth to sample the delights of Sneem and the greatest delight of them all just happened to be our humble cheese . The first, the one and only, Irish Farmhouse Cheese. At last, the real thing after so long. Rumor has it that there was a full eclipse of the Sun and earth tremors when the first Milleens was presented on an Irish cheese board.
The product had now been tested and launched. Its performance, post launch left nothing to be desired. The very next night Ms Myrtle Allen, accompanied no doubt by other family members, of Ballymaloe House, similarly engaged in testing the waters of Sneem, polished off the last sliver of the wonderful new cheese and was impressed by its greatness. And then began the second phase of research and development. Improvement.
For eight years, this was written in 1986, now we have devoted our energies to the continued improvement and development of Milleens cheese, and show no intention of stopping. The changes in the product have been gradual and subtle and in line with increases in production which are always kept in line with the growth in demand.
As the product developed so too has the packaging which is both simple and highly sophisticated. As Milleens must travel by both post and refrigerated transport a package had to be strong enough for the rigors of the postal system yet with sufficient ventilation to avail of the benefits of refrigeration where available. Our strong wooden boxes met these requirements. It was also thought necessary that the box serve as an attractive display for the cheese ensuring that the name Milleens was displayed prominently, and differentiating it from other products. It has been most successful in this area too and customers invariably display the cheese in the box. Very clever altogether. The boxes are made and stenciled here in our workshop by ourselves and members of the staff. Apart from growing and felling the timber all the phases of their manufacture take place at Milleens. They compare most favorably in price with any box on the market.
When Milleens was first made we knew enough about cheese making to write a slim volume, vast quantities of knowledge have since been ingested form all available sources form Scientific American to the Journals of Dairy Science and pamphlets from New Zealand on Bacteriophage. Grist to the mill. Making Milleens is no longer a slap-happy matter but has become a carefully controlled scientific process. thermometers have replaced elbows. Acidometers play their part now. But most of all milk quality is carefully monitored. Starters have long been recognized to have a most important influence on cheese flavor and quality, and are as well looked after as the crown jewels and to better effect.”

Oh, to be able to write so evocatively – I too remember when Annie Goulding at the Blue Bull in Sneem gave me a taste of her ‘friend over the hills’ cheese in the early 1980’s. At the time, as Veronica said we were a nation of Calvita eaters and one can but imagine the excitement when we discovered this feisty flavourful cheese that tasted of that place and tasted of Ireland. A new cheese was born – the beginning of a new era that has totally changed the image of Irish food both at home and abroad and has us bursting with pride.
Veronica had a vision for Ireland – farmhouse cheesemakers in parishes all over the country making cheese from their rich milk of their pasture fed cows. As she continued to experiment herself, she generously shared her knowledge, and encouraged so many others to get started. Jeffa Gill of Durrus, Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen, Mary Burns of Ardrahan and a whole host of others lovingly acknowledge Veronica’s influence. We visited Milleens many times and brought students and dignatories from all over the world to meet Veronica and her equally charismatic husband Norman. Always an open door, always a warm welcome. Nowadays their son Quinlan, the next generation, continues to make Milleens and build on his parents work.
And here at Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School we still serve Milleens cheese proudly and give thanks for the life of Veronica, the matriarch of all the Irish farmhouse cheese makers.

Midleton Farmers Market
It’s all about a healthy gut flora these days so if you want to boost your gut biome seek out Jerusalem Artichokes the wonder root that is higher in inulin than any other vegetable. Check out the BCS stall at Midleton Farmers Market which reopens today, 9.00am-1.30pm
Native Irish Oysters are at their very best at present. The only accompaniment they need is a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a slice of soda bread. Kelly Oysters, Dungarvan Oysters, Sherkin Oysters 087 2029898 or enjoy a dozen in the English Market

It’s marmalade time again. Seville and Malaga oranges are in the shops, snap them up because the season is short. If you can’t get round to making marmalade at present, pop them into the freezer and make whole orange marmalade in a few weeks.

Struggling with Gluten Free Cooking?
As anyone who is coeliac, or who cooks for someone who has a gluten intolerance, will testify it can be challenging to produce really delicious, balanced meals. Finally, help is to hand – on Saturday January 28th, this intensive half day course is ideal for those on a gluten free diet who face the dilemma of longing to taste ‘real’ food. You’ll learn about a whole range of tasty and easy-to-prepare dishes including gluten-free sweet and savoury pastry, crackling salmon with coriander pesto and gluten free raspberry muffins. Advice on alternative ingredients and lots of baking tips will help take the mystery out of successful gluten-free cooking.

Bernadette O’ Shea’s Milleens Pizza – from Pizza Defined

This is one step up from a pizza baked blind. It doesn’t have a sauce, it doesn’t have Mozzarella, it doesn’t have any of the traditional things you associate with a pizza.
When Milleens is cooked and melts, it has a buttery, slightly nutty sharp taste and the perfect pairing for that is sun-dried tomatoes, and a glut of soft herbs on top, always soft herbs: yellow marjoram, sweet marjoram, basil and oregano. These suit the herbaceousness of one the great West Cork cheeses.

140g (5oz) basic pizza dough
Basil oil or sun-dried tomato oil
85g (3oz) sundried tomatoes, excess oil squeezed out, shredded into strips
85g (3oz) cream cheese
85g (3oz) Milleens cheese, very finely sliced
Fresh herbs (marjoram, oregano, basil, yellow marjoram, lemon thyme etc.)
Rosemary oil or sun-dried tomato oil

Place Pizza Tile on floor of the oven and preheat to maximum for one hour.
Assembling the pizza –
Stretch the dough into a 20cm (8 inch) circle
Brush the surface with basil oil, or sun-dried tomato oil
Scatter the sundried tomatoes on top of the base
Dot with cream cheese to prevent from burning
Cover with Milleens
Bake in the preheated oven for approx. 10 mins.
After cooking brush the outer edge of the pizza with either rosemary oil or olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and scatter over a generous amount of the fresh herbs.

Tagliatelle with Milleens

Not sure who gave me this recipe but it’s truly delicious

Serves 4

225g/8oz grated Milleens or other rind-washed cheese
300ml/½ pint cream
a handful of fresh sage leaves
350g/12oz tagliatelle
8 pints water
2 tablespoons salt

Place the sage leaves in a saucepan and pour in the cream. Warm the cream, but be careful not to overheat. Allow to sit in a warm place until the cream has absorbed the flavour of the sage and then strain. Add the Milleens and, if necessary, warm gently and stir until the cheese has completely melted. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil (8 pints water to 2 tablespoons salt) Cook the tagliatelle until al dente. Drain. Pour the creamy sauce over the tagliatelle, taste and correct the seasoning. Mix and serve.
This dish stands alone, but can be made more substantial by the addition of ham, which has been cut into strips the same width as the pasta or alternatively some white or smoked fish or chopped cooked spinach, or some lightly cooked fennel.

Watercress, Blood Orange and New Season Macroom Mozzarella Salad

The new seasons blood oranges from Italy are in the shops, here we pair them with Macroom Mozzarella winner of World Cheese Awards 2016-2017 to the astonishment and chagrin of the Italian Cheesemakers.

The rich West Cork pasture that the buffalos feed on give the cheese its quintessentially Irish taste.

A few beautiful fresh ingredients put together simply make an irresistible starter.

Serves 4

2-3 balls of fresh Macroom Mozzarella
2 blood oranges
a bunch of fresh watercress
2-3 tablespoons Irish honey
a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
some coarsely ground black pepper
50g (2oz) unskinned almonds, toasted and sliced

Toast the almonds in a preheated oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool and then slice each almond lengthwise into 2-3 pieces.

Just before serving, scatter a few watercress leaves over the base of each plate, slice or tear some mozzarella over the top. With a sharp knife remove the peel and pith from the blood oranges, cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) thick slices, tuck a few here and there in between the watercress and mozzarella. Drizzle with honey and really good extra virgin olive oil. Scatter with toasted almonds. Finally add a little coarsely ground fresh black pepper and serve.

Bitter Orange Marmalade

This is a dark marmalade, made with whole Seville or Malaga oranges for those who, like me enjoy a more bitter-tasting preserve.

Makes 4.5kg (10lb)

1.3kg (3lb) Seville oranges (organic if possible)
juice of 2 lemons
2kg (41⁄2lb) white sugar, warmed
225g (8oz) soft brown sugar, warmed

Scrub the oranges and put them into a large preserving pan. Put a plate on top to weigh them down and add enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, cover and cook until tender, about 2 hours. Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon, reserve the cooking liquid and when the fruit is cool enough to handle, cut it in half. Put the pips and fibrous bits from the centre aside. Cut the peel into 5mm (1⁄4in) strips. Put the pips and fibrous bits into a small pan with some of the reserved cooking liquid and boil for 10 minutes.
Strain the cooking liquid back into the preserving pan into the preserving pan. You should have about 1.6 litres (23⁄4 pints) of cooking liquid; add more water if necessary. Add the sliced orange peel and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Bring to boiling point. Add warmed white and brown sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring, and cook rapidly until setting point is reached, about 20 minutes. Skim and leave to cool for a further 20 minutes. Pot into hot, sterilised jars. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.

Ballymaloe Cookery School ‘Pop Up’ Dinner

A student ‘Pop Up’ dinner has become an established tradition on the three month course here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The students who come from all over the world (11 nationalities this time) get together with two of our senior tutors Pam Black and Tracie Daly to plan every single detail of the meal from the theme to designing the menus, décor, table laying……They do all the graphics, cooking, collect the produce…..

Everything is done from ‘scratch’. The theme this Autumn was Wild and Slow – Forgotten Flavours and Foraged Food. The chosen menu which was arrived at after much conjucating, the starter was Roast and parmesan crusted Jerusalem artichokes on Ballymaloe pumpkin puree. Pan seared breast of pheasant and confit of leg. Most of the food came from the farm and garden and local area.

The Jerusalem artichokes were dug from the vegetable field at the greenhouses by several students who on their own admission would scarcely have recognised a digging fork not to speak of knobbly Jerusalem artichokes just a few months ago.

They chose Kuri pumpkins from the selection of 8 or 10 that we grow and magiced these ingredients into a properly impressive cheffy starter.

While the chefs were prepping in the kitchen others were baking a variety of gluten free sourdough and yeast breads. Meanwhile, their friends were busy making handmade butter from the Jersey cream.

Others opted to collect barrel loads of autumn leaves to make into garlands and scatter on the conservatory floor and over the table tops.

The menu design was done by Hermione Hill and Keiko Ebisu from Japan did artwork on the night.

It’s the game season so lots of pheasant for main course. The birds were jointed, the breasts were marinated and the legs made into a light confit with flaky sea salt and fresh herbs.

This was served on a bed of chestnut and caramelised onion stuffing with scallion champ and organic Brussels sprouts which had also been picked in the freezing cold – now they all have the greater appreciation of the farmers who grow sprouts.

Something was needed to compliment the plate so several others went foraging in the orchard and made a Bramley apple, medlar and quince jelly from the autumn bounty.

Next a salad of organic leaves and foraged greens to aid digestion and make room for dessert.

For pudding, Ballyandreen meets Italy…….a carrageen panna cotta light and super delicious served in little glasses with a wild blackberry and lemon verbena compote.

Alongside was coconut macaroon with lime zest and a chunk of almond brittle.

The event was totally oversubscribed and the guests seemed to really relish the experience and convivial atmosphere. So typical of Slow Food events.

Guests were invited to go ‘foraging’ for the petit fours. The garden room had been transformed into‘woodland’ where the petit fours were hidden among the branches. Homemade fudge, chocolate and orange marshmallow, rose geranium jellies, praline dust, chocolate soil, crystallised rose petals and chocolate bark and chunks of homemade honeycomb.

Lots to nibble with freshly brewed coffee and lemon verbena tisane.

There was a resounding round of applause for the entire team before they headed back into the kitchen to tackle the washing up and leave everything ship shape for the next day. All part of the learning curve, but they loved the experience and as the 70+ guests left many asked to be put on the mailing list for the next event.

The event is sponsored by the Ballymaloe Cookery School and the proceeds of the ‘Pop Up’ dinner were donated to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches children in 8 local primary schools how to cook and grow some of their own food.

Roasted and Parmesan Crusted Jerusalem Artichokes with Pumpkin Puree

Lucas Ruault came up with this delicious combination to use the Jerusalem artichokes in season at the moment.

Serves 6-8

16 Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed
150 g parmesan, finely grated
75 g plain flour, well seasoned
2-3 free range eggs, lightly whisked
Olive oil

500 g pumpkin, peeled and roughly diced
175 onions, sliced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced or roughly crushed
125 g salted butter
1 scant tablespoon thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Splash of cognac and or chardonnay, optional
1 lemon wedge


Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

First melt 25 g of butter in a large heavy bottomed saucepan, when it begins to foam, add the sliced onions and garlic. Cook stirring often until the onions are deeply caramelised. This will take some time.

Meanwhile, roast the pumpkin; toss the pumpkin in a little olive oil with a small amount of salt and pepper, arrange on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until tender and soft.

When the onions are caramelised and the pumpkin is tender, transfer to a food processor. Deglaze the saucepan with a little cognac or chardonnay if available. Add to the pumpkin, caramelised onions, with fresh thyme leaves and freshly grated nutmeg and puree.

Allow the mixture to rest until it’s just pleasantly warm and then add the remaining 100 g of butter and puree until smooth and glossy. Taste and season.

The puree can be made one or two days before using, allowing the flavours to meld and mature overnight in the fridge. However it can be used immediately.

Scrub the Jerusalem artichokes under cold water with a brush, dry and cut half of them into 1-2 bite sized wedges. Toss in olive oil, season with salt and pepper (and a little chopped rosemary or sage if available). Arrange on a baking tray and roast in a 220°C oven until tender and golden brown.

Peel the rest of the artichokes and cut them into wedges slightly larger than the roasted ones. Blanch them in heavily salted boiling water for 2 minutes or so, or until just cooked through.

Once the boiled artichokes are cooked, plunge them immediately into iced water. Dry them and prepare the oil for frying. Set your deep fryer to 190°C.

Put the seasoned flour, eggs and grated parmesan into 3 separate bowls. Dredge the dried artichokes in flour, dip into the eggs until coated and roll them in the parmesan. Fry them until golden brown, cut in half and sprinkle with sea salt.

Reheat the pumpkin puree in a saucepan, spread onto a plate and arrange an assortment of artichokes on top. Place watercress around, top with left over parmesan and olive oil. Squeeze of lemon.

Andre Longardi’s Pheasant Breast with Red Wine Jus

Serves 8

8 pheasant breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flaky salt and freshly ground pepper

Season the pheasant with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Preheat a cast iron pan, sear the breasts and place them in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes.

Remove the pheasant and keep warm.

Pheasant Jus

1 bottle of red wine, we use organic wine, La Marouette
½ litre of pheasant or chicken stock, made with the carcass and giblets (not liver)
Cooking juices

Put the wine into a wide stainless steel saucepan over a high heat. Reduce the wine by 2/3, add the stock and reduce by half. Deglaze the cast iron pan with some stock to dissolve the pheasant juices and add it to the wine reduction. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Pheasant Leg Confit
This dish was covered tightly and cooked on top of the stove but one could cook it in the oven at 80°C or until tender and almost melting.

Serves 8

8 pheasant legs
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
3½ tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
Enough olive oil to completely submerge the legs

Marinade the legs for at least two hours in the herb and spice mix. Arrange the marinated legs in a large saucepan and cover with enough olive oil to completely submerge the legs. Simmer on the lowest heat possible for about 5 hours. The oil must never bubble up.

Chestnut and Caramelised Onion Stuffing

Serves 8

250 g onions, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
125 cooked chestnuts
2 cloves garlic
100 g streaky bacon, fine lardons
1 tablespoon cognac
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat, add the bacon lardons and cook until the fat runs and the bacon is crisp. Remove to a plate, add the onions and garlic to the pan and continue to cook stirring regularly until the onions are caramelised. Add the brandy and allow to bubble for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the chestnuts, add back in the bacon and the chestnuts, continue to cook for 4-5 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To Serve: put a generous tablespoon of chestnut and caramelised onion stuffing on a plate, put a piece of pheasant breast and leg on top. Garnish with a sprig of watercress.

Debbie and Sheila’s Gluten-Free Focaccia with Roast Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic Slivers

20g (3/4oz) fresh yeast (or 10g fast-acting yeast, I use McDougall’s)
2 teaspoons of honey
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) of warm water

550g (20oz) of “Bob’s Red Mill” All Purpose gluten-free flour (this is the best brand for this recipe, however you can also use Dove’s Farm plain flour or bread flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of xanthan gum
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
2 beaten free range, organic eggs
3 tablespoons of natural, probiotic yoghurt (natural soya yoghurt for dairy-free option)
300mls (10fl oz/) of lukewarm cow’s/goat’s milk (rice milk or soya milk for dairy-free option)
extra virgin olive oil
8-10 cherry tomatoes, roasted
Maldon sea salt for sprinkling
1 1/2 tablespoons of garlic slivers

First, roast the cherry tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 250°C/400°F/Mark 6.

Lay the cherry tomatoes on the vine on a baking tray. Drizzle with extra virgin oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and roast for 8 – 10 minutes until the tomatoes just burst.
Squash the tomatoes to get rid of excess juice.

Put the yeast, honey and warm water in a small bowl in a warm place for 10-15 minutes.

Sift the flour and xanthan gum into a large bowl and add the salt, vinegar, beaten eggs, yoghurt, milk and yeast mixture, and mix well. Place the dough in a 33 x 23cm (13x 19 inch) brownie tin oiled well with olive oil. Wet your fingers with cold water and make dimples in the dough. Place the roasted cherry tomatoes and garlic slivers in some of the dimples, drizzle the top of the dough with olive oil. Place a clean, damp cloth over the tin and put the tin in a warm place to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours until double in size. The rising depends on how hot the day is and how strong the fresh yeast is, as every batch is different. Sprinkle the top of dough with a little Maldon sea salt and place in the oven gently, not to let the air out. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C/375 °F/Gas Mark 5 for 35 minutes, until it sounds hollow and light.

Rachel Allen’s Carrageen Panna Cotta

A little seaweed that grows all around our coast, we harvest and dry it on local strands including Ballyandreen.

Serves 4–6

8g (1/3oz) carrageen (this fills my semi-closed fist)
400ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cups) double or regular cream
200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) milk
50g (2oz) caster or granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla pod, slightly split

Put a small plate in your freezer.

Put the dry carrageen into a bowl, cover with tepid water and soak for 10 minutes.
Drain, then put the reconstituted carrageen in a saucepan with the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla pod (if using). Don’t add the extract yet. Stir on a medium heat and bring to the boil, then cover, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat. Take the plate out of the freezer and place a small spoonful of the carrageen mixture on it, then pop it back in the freezer for 1 minute. Take out and run your finger through it – it should be set. If it is still runny, place the mixture back on the heat and cook for a further minute before testing again.

Pour the mixture through a sieve (you can wash the vanilla pod and use it again another time) but don’t push the seaweed through the sieve, just the liquid that is clinging to it. Scrape the mixture from under the sieve and, using a whisk, mix it with the drained cream mixture and the vanilla extract (if using). Pour into four or six small bowls or glasses and place in the fridge to set.

Serve with Wild Blackberry Compote

Nancy Lair’s Coconut Macaroons

Nancy’s delicious little coconut macaroons are’ easy peasy’ to make. I’ve reduced the sugar from 2/3 cup to ½ cup and still find them delectable.
Makes 3 dozen approximately

400 g (14oz) flaked coconut
110 g (4 oz/1/2 cup) granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
4 egg whites
½-1 teaspoon almond extract (to taste)
zest of 2 limes

Mix coconut, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in egg whites (not whisked) and almond extract until well blended. Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake at 325°F/160°C for 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove from baking tray to wire racks. Cool completely. Before serving, zest 2 limes over the top of the cookies. Makes about 3 dozen.

Nancy Lair’s Almond Brittle

This almond brittle is like the best toffee – one could also add some pistachio or hazelnuts but it was greatly enjoyed by everyone as it is.

Makes 10-12 medium sized shards

110 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon baking soda (Bread Soda)
3 teaspoons salt
125g (4½ oz) butter
550 g (20 oz/2 cups) sugar
180 ml (6 fl oz/) liquid glucose
330 g (12 oz/3 cups) chopped almonds

Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Combine sugar, liquid glucose, and water in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until mixture reaches 300°F/149°F on a sugar thermometer. Stir in butter and cook until syrup is golden in color, then add the chopped almonds. Remove from heat and add baking soda, salt, and vanilla to mixture. Quickly pour the mixture onto the baking tray and tap the sheet on the counter (on a tea towel to dampen the noise!). Spread the mixture as much as possible. Allow to set, break into pieces and store in an air tight container.

Anna Tingey’s Ballymaloe Sweet Geranium Pastilles

These sweet geranium flavoured ‘jellies’ were served as a petit four. Anna called them Ballymaloe Delight – they’re all set to become a perennial favourite.

Makes 96 squares

500 g granulated sugar
8 gelatine leaves
1 tablespoon corn flour
300 ml water
Sweet Geranium Syrup – 7 tablespoons

Sweet Geranium Syrup
Makes 825ml (28fl ozs/3 1/2 cups)

350g (12oz/1 1/2 cups) sugar
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) water

Dissolve the sugar in the cold water and bring to the boil. Add 150 g sweet geranium leaves to the sugar syrup and leave to infuse for 20 minutes on a low simmer. Store in the fridge until needed. Strain through a fine sieve.

Next make the Ballymaloe delight. Put the gelatine into a heavy based saucepan and add 300 ml water, leave to ‘sponge’. The gelatine will soak up all the water and become spongy in texture.

Add the granulated sugar and dissolve on a medium heat.

Leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes. Pour into a lined swiss roll tin (12 x 8 inch), lined with parchment paper and put in a fridge to set, 3 or 4 hours minimum.

Once set, cut into 96 even squares and roll each square in corn flour.

Anna Tingey’s Chocolate and Orange Marshmallows

These also disappeared within minutes.
Makes approximately 100

455g (1lb/2 cups) granulated or caster sugar
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) liquid glucose
9 gelatine leaves or 5 1/2 rounded teaspoons of powdered gelatine
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) orange essence
red food colour paste
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) icing sugar and 4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) cornflour sieved together
Zest of 2 oranges

Line the bottom of a 30 x 20cm (11 x 8 inch) baking tray with parchment paper. Dust with sieved icing sugar and cornflour.

Place sugar, glucose and 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a heavy bottom saucepan. Stir to ensure all of the sugar is wet. Using a pastry brush dipped water, remove any sugar crystals from the side of the saucepan. Place the saucepan on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling do not stir, simply tilt the pot from side to side to ensure the solution heats evenly until it reaches 127°C/260°F. It is important to keep an eye on the temperature using a sugar thermometer.

Meanwhile, rehydrate the gelatine in 140ml (4 3/4fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) water.

When the boiling syrup reaches 110°C/230°F start whipping the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Add the rehydrated gelatine and water into the syrup when it reaches 127°C/260°F and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will foam slightly, this is normal. Pour the hot syrup onto the egg whites and whip on full speed for 5-10 minutes until the marshmallow thickens and the bowl of the mixer is warm to the touch. Turn the speed of the mixer to low and whisk in the rosewater and enough food colour paste to turn the marshmallow baby pink.

Spoon the thick marshmallow mix onto the lined baking tray and smooth with a palette knife. Allow to set (usually takes 2 hours).

Dust the top of the marshmallow with the icing sugar and cornflour mix. Turn out onto a work surface, peel off the paper and cut into cubes. Roll each marshmallow in cocoa powder.


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