St Patrick’s Weekend

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St Patrick’s Day gets bigger and better every year, as more than 100 million people around the world celebrate our National holiday with the Irish diaspora.

This year, even more iconic sites and monuments were illuminated in green. Over 15 new sites joined the old favourites among them the One World Trade Centre in New York, The City Hall in London, the fountains on Gran Via in Barcelona, Matsue Castle in Japan, The Diamond Bridge in Korea even a Rhino Station in Nairobi National Park and most fun of all the famous red carpet in Cannes will become the ‘green carpet’ on 17th March – what a coup for Tourism Ireland…..

An inspired idea that focuses the global attention on the Emerald isle. St Patrick’s Day was extra special for us this year because my daughter in law Rachel (Allen) was thrilled and honoured to have been chosen as Grand Marshall in St Patrick’s Day parade in Cork City. There were flamboyant parades with elaborate floats all over Ireland, in Cork City and in capital cities all over the world.
The colourful parade attracted at least 50,000 people onto the streets of Cork.

To top all that lovely, Olympic sailor and silver medallist Annalise Murphy was Grand Marshall of the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade in recognition of her achievement at the Rio Olympics. Annalise who is doing a 12 Week cooking course with us here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School at present was also deeply honoured to be leading the Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade that Irish people all over the world love to watch or participate in.
We were all super excited and rummaged through our wardrobes to find every scrap of green to wear on St Patrick’s Day – I even wore my green glasses….how corny is that but I love the excuse to celebrate and to tell everyone how proud we are to be Irish whether we are at home or abroad.

Sadly up to with a few exceptions there’s often more fun and excitement abroad than at home. So let’s celebrate this weekend and also have a few friends around to share one of my favourite meals of all bacon, cabbage, parsley sauce and a bowl of fluffy champ flecked with scallions with a nice lump of Kerrygold butter melting into the centre.

Follow that with a gorgeous rhubarb pie made from the first few spears of new season’s rhubarb – truly a feast. Well I gave those recipes in my last St Patrick’s Day column so this time I’m sharing a a recipe from the Chapter One cookbook by much loved Cork born chef Ross Lewis.

Hot Tips
Ummera Smoked Irish organic Picanha Beef
Congratulations to Ummera who won a Guild of Food Writers award for his excellent smoked duck. Love the way the artisans continue to develop new products – Anthony Cresswell whose Ummera smoked salmon and smoked duck we all know and love has recently introduced smoked rump of organic beef. It’s available in 1 kg to 1.5 kg pieces – ready to enjoy.
We love it thinly sliced with horseradish cream and little herb salad. www.ummera.com

The Business of Food with Blathnaid Bergin
In this 10 day course you will learn the vital information needed to set up a viable, enjoyable Food Service Business. The course will include workshops, discussions, case studies, practical sessions and presentations. Some of the concepts explored include where to start the A-Z of getting started, standards and systems, menu planning and development, food quality, kitchen management, finance and cash management, interior design, equipment, suppliers, front of house operations management, coffee & tea, hidden costs, staff, service skills, balancing business and life….……course includes all materials and lunch. www.cookingisfun.ie for further information

Ross Lewis’s Cured Salmon with Burren Smoked Salmon Cream and Lemon Balm Jelly, Horseradish and Wild Watercress, Kilkenny Organic Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

I created this dish for the official State dinner marking the first visit of the reigning British monarch to the Irish Republic. It was served to Queen Elizabeth II, President McAleese and other dignitaries in St Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle on May 18th 2011. This dish articulated the very best of what our rich larder has to offer in May, as well as being a celebration of our historic food culture.

Serves 8

For the cured salmon
1.25 litres water
200 g rock salt
400 g sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
10 g star anise
5 whole cloves
4 juniper berries
½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 side fresh organic salmon, skin on and pin bones left in
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely sliced

For the watercress puree
500g wild watercress, well picked over
300 ml cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

For the wild smoked salmon cream
150 g piece Burren Smokehouse wild smoked salmon
400 g crème fraîche
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
½ teaspoon smoked paprika

For the lemon jelly balm
200 g celery, sliced
300 g fennel, sliced
10 g root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
200 ml white wine
50 ml white wine vinegar
2 litres still mineral water
2 star anise
30 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon lemon puree
200 g lemon verbena
200 g lemon balm
8 gold leaf gelatine leaves

For the horseradish cream
200 g Glenilen crème fraîche
1 tablespoon creamed horseradish
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

For the pickled radish and onion
200 ml apple balsamic cider vinegar
50 g sugar
2 shallots, finely sliced and separated into 24 small rings
4 radishes, finely sliced, 24 slices in total

To serve
Handful each tiny rosemary flowers and fresh bronze fennel sprigs
50 ml cold pressed organic rapeseed oil, in a squeezy bottle

For the cured salmon. Place all the marinade ingredients in a pan, except for the coriander and fennel and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the fennel and coriander, then cool. When the marinade is completely cold, pour over the salmon in a tray deep enough to keep it submerged. Cure in the fridge for 18 hours, then lift the salmon out of the cure and transfer to a drying rack. Leave to dry, uncovered, in the fridge for 24 hours.

Next make the watercress puree. Blanch the watercress in a pan of boiling water and refresh in a bowl of iced water. Squeeze as much water out as possible using kitchen paper, then transfer to a Pacojet container and freeze overnight. Reduce the cream by half and cool. When the watercress is frozen, place in a Pacojet and blend 3 times, then transfer to a blender with the reduced cream and blend until smooth. Add the Worcestershire sauce and season and season with salt and black pepper. Pass through a chinois and put into a small squeezy bottle, then chill until needed.

Wild smoked salmon cream
Remove the skin from the smoked salmon and trim down the flesh. Bring the skin, trimmings and half the crème fraîche to the boil in a pan. Cool and pass through a chinois. Place the smoked salmon in a Pacojet container with the infused crème fraîche and freeze overnight. Blend the frozen salmon mix and pass through a tamis then fold in the rest of the crème fraîche. Add the lemon juice, Tabasco and paprika and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a piping bag and chill until needed.

Lemon Balm Jelly
Put all the ingredients in a pan except for the lemon verbena, lemon balm and gelatine. Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Pass through a chinois and pour onto the lemon verbena and lemon balm. Cover and leave to infuse for 2-3 hours, then pass through a double layer of muslin and measure out 1 litre. Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water and set aside for 10 minutes. Heat 200 ml of the lemon balm liquid in a pan until just below boiling and whisk in the softened gelatine. Combine with the other 800 ml and mix well, then pass through a chinois into a jug. Pipe 25 ml of the smoked salmon cream into the bottom of each small serving bowl and cover with 100 ml of the lemon balm jelly. Chill for 3-4 hours to set.

Horseradish Cream
Whisk the crème fraîche with the creamed horseradish, vinegar and a pinch of salt until just before it gets to a stiff peak. Put into a squeezy bottle and chill.

Pickled Radish and Onion
Bring the vinegar, sugar and 2-3 generous pinches of salt to the boil, stirring to dissolve, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cold, pour over the vegetables and leave to marinate for 20-30 minutes.

Serving
Take the skin off the cured salmon and remove the pin bones with tweezers. Carve into 5×10 cm pieces from the thick end of the fillet and cut into cubes – you’ll need 24 in total. Arrange 3 cured salmon cubes on each lemon balm jelly and add 2-3 of the pickled radish slices and 2-3 of the pickled onion rings. Add 3 dots of the horseradish cream and 3 dots of the watercress puree. Finish each one with the rosemary flowers, the bronze fennel sprigs and a drizzle of the rapeseed oil.

Taken from Chapter One an Irish Food Story by Ross Lewis

Traditional Brown Soda Bread

If the buttermilk is low fat rub 12-25g (1/2-1oz) of butter or cream into the dry ingredients first.

Makes 1 loaf

8oz (225g/2 cups) brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)
8oz (225g/2 cups) plain white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz (25 g) butter
1 level teaspoon bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda) sieved
14-15fl oz (400-425ml/1 3/4 cups – generous 1 3/4 cups) sour milk or buttermilk

First preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour. Make a well in the centre and pour all of the sour milk or buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in a full circle starting in the centre of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well-floured board (use wholemeal flour).

WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Roll around gently with floury hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches (5cm) approx. Sprinkle a little flour onto a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Mark with a deep cross and bake in the preheated oven 45 minutes approximately.
(In some ovens it is necessary to turn the bread upside down on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before the end of baking) It will sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack, wrapped in a clean tea-towel while hot if you prefer a softer crust.

Serve slathered with good Irish butter.

Spring Rhubarb Tart with Crystallised Ginger Cream

The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from ‘hot hands’ don’t have to worry about rubbing in the butter.

Serves 8-12

Pastry
225g (8oz//2 sticks) butter
40g (1 1/2oz/scant 1/4 cup) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
300g (12oz/2 1/2 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached

Filling
900g (2lbs) sliced red rhubarb (about 1cm/1/2 inch thick)
approx. 175 – 225g (6-8oz/generous 3/4 – 1 cup) sugar.
egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk
castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve
softly whipped cream with chopped crystallised ginger
or Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream

tin, 18cm (7 inches) x 30.5cm (12 inches) x (2.5cm) deep

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.

To make the tart
Roll out the pastry 3mm (1/8 inch) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Put the prepared rhubarb into the tin and sprinkle with the sugar. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the rhubarb is tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with crystallised ginger cream or with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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