Mothering Sunday

M

I’m flipping this year’s column for Mother’s Day, though we certainly don’t want to forget about hugs, breakfast in bed and sweet little primroses for Mam……

Instead I thought I’d write about teaching our kids to cook. Some of you at least, will have heard me on my hobby horse about how our generation and the one before us has failed our children by letting them out of our houses without teaching them the basic life skills to feed themselves properly. Skills are freedom, otherwise we are totally dependent on others for our basic needs. It’s all very fine having degrees, masters and PhDs but one also needs to be able to scramble a few eggs or whip up a spontaneous meal for a couple of friends with a few inexpensive ingredients. There is no greater joy, that’s how bonds are formed and what memories are made of.

If you can’t cook you simply cannot feed yourself or your family properly. It’s not rocket science. You don’t need to be a super chef – no need for twiddles and bows and smarties on top – all that’s needed is a bit of basic kitchen kit and a few basic techniques and a few basic recipes that really work. So here are some suggestions for perennial favourites that you and your kids can make together to celebrate Mother’s Day. And while we’re at it pick up your pen and write to the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton and ‘demand’ that practical cooking be re-embedded in the school curriculum. Meanwhile enjoy Mother’s Day.

Children of course love to cook sweet things but encourage them to have fun with savoury dishes and salad. I’m keeping the text short this week so we can include as many recipes as possible.

Hot Tips
Rachel’s
Rachel’s eagerly awaited new venture – Rachel’s – a restaurant serving lunch, dinner as well as gorgeous cocktails is now open on 28 Washington Street, Cork. Book online www.rachels.ie or tel:
021 427 4189

Afternoon Tea and Cakes
Join us on Thursday April 13th, 2017. We will share some of our favourite sweet treats to serve at tea-time. How about a chest of sandwiches, macaroons, delicate madeleines, a lemon meringue or coffee cupcakes, a light airy sponge cake with raspberries and rosewater cream. We’ll also talk about tea and introduce you to some delicious options…..
www.cookingisfun.ie

Nourishing Broth
Here at Ballymaloe making our own home-made stocks, has always been a priority.
It’s the flavour basis of all broths and so many other good things, soups, stews, risotto. The translation of ‘fond’, the French word for stock is foundation, and that just sums it up. Stocks are a power house of vitamins and minerals and comforting nourishment. Making stock is actually a mind-set. It’s just a way of working, instead of throwing things into the bin, think first. Does this qualify for the stock pot?
In this intensive afternoon class, we’ll show you how to make chicken, beef, fish and vegetable broths and how to utilise them in a variety of ways, plus we’ll add many flavours, Asian, Mexican, Moroccan, Mediterranean …. to your basic broth so everyone in the family, from tiny tots to athletic teens and Grandmas and Grandas will be clamouring for more.
Friday April 20th, 2.30pm-5.30pm www.cookingisfun.ie

Roast Fish with Tomato Fondue

The fish can be cooked whole or cut into portions. Allow 4 ozs for a starter, 6 ozs for a main course. This is a brilliantly easy way to cook fish, it is also delicious served with a creamy mushroom sauce or butter zucchini.

Serves 8-10 approx.

1 fillet of haddock, hake, grey sea mullet
salt and freshly ground pepper
butter and extra virgin oil, about 1oz (25g/25ml) of each

Tomato Fondue
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
110g (4oz) onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
900g (2lb) very ripe tomatoes, peeled
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
2 tablespoons of any or a combination of the following: freshly chopped mint, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram or torn basil
a few drops of balsamic vinegar (optional)

Garnish
sprigs of chervil

First make the tomato fondue. Heat the oil in a casserole or stainless-steel saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and toss until coated. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat until the onions and garlic are soft but not coloured. Slice the tomatoes and add with all the juice to the onions. Season, with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Add a generous sprinkling of herbs. Cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften.
A few drops of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking greatly enhance the flavour.

Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/regulo 9

Line an oven baking tray with tin foil or parchment paper, cut the fillet of fish into portions, brush with melted butter and oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bake the fish in the preheated oven for 5-25 minutes depending on the size or until cooked and tender. It is cooked through when the fish changes colour form translucent to opaque.

Transfer the fish onto one or two hot serving dishes. Garnish with sprigs of chervil.
Serve the tomato fondue in a warm serving bowl on the side.

Mac and Cheese

Serves 6

Macaroni cheese is one of my children’s favourite supper dishes. We often add some cubes of cooked bacon or ham to the sauce with the cooked macaroni. It’s also incorporates several techniques how to grate cheese, make roux and a basic béchamel white sauce which can be used as a basis for many other recipes.

8 ozs (225g) macaroni
6 pints (3.4 litres) water
2 teaspoons salt

2 ozs (50g) butter
2 ozs (50g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 1/2 pints (850ml) boiling milk
1/4 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ozs (150g) grated mature Cheddar cheese
1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top

1 x 2 pint (1.1 litre) capacity pie dish

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.

Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni, bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately.

Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place. Turn into a pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Reheat in a preheated moderate oven – 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. It is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.

Top Tip: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce. Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.

Toad in the Hole

This brilliant recipe can be used for a savoury or sweet filling. Kids love making their own sausages but of course you can buy tasty cocktail sausages instead.

Makes 8 approx

1/4 lb (4 oz) flour
2 eggs, preferably free range
½ pint (300ml) milk
1/2 oz (15g) butter, melted

1/2 lb (225g) good homemade sausages, see recipe
a little oil

Garnish
chopped fresh parsley

First make the batter. Sieve the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drop in the lightly beaten eggs. Using a small whisk or wooden spoon, stir continuously, gradually drawing in flour from the sides, adding the milk in a steady stream at the same time. When all the flour has been incorporated, whisk in the remainder of the milk and the cool melted butter.
Allow to stand while you cook the sausages in a very little oil in a frying pan until pale golden on all sides.
Grease hot, deep patty tins with oil and half fill with the batter. Stick a cocktail sausage into each and bake in a preheated oven 230C/450F/regulo 8, for 20 minutes approx.
Alternatively, put the sausages and their cooking fat into a small roasting tin. Heat on the stove for a few seconds and when it begins to sizzle, pour batter over the sausages. Bake in a pre-heated oven as described for 20-25 minutes or until well risen and crisp. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Jammy Popovers
Make the basic popovers as above but instead of sausage fill with a spoonful of raspberry jam, add a blob of cream and dust with icing sugar – super delicious.

Ballymaloe Homemade Sausages

Sausages made from 100 percent lean meat may sound good, but for sweetness and succulence one needs some fat. The addition of breadcrumbs is not just to add bulk, it greatly improves the texture, too.

Serves 8

(Makes 16 Small or 8 large sausages)

450g (1lb) good, fat streaky pork (rindless)
2 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, rosemary and sage)
60g (21⁄2oz) soft white breadcrumbs
1 large garlic clove
1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper
1 organic egg (optional – helps to bind – reduce breadcrumbs to 50g/2oz if omitting egg)
dash of oil for frying
50g (2oz) natural sheep or hog casings (optional)

Mince the pork at the first or second setting, depending on the texture you like. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the breadcrumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a
little salt. Whisk the egg, and then mix into the other ingredients thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the
seasoning. Correct if necessary. Fill the mixture into natural sausage casings and tie. Twist into sausages at regular intervals. Alternatively, divide into 16 pieces and roll into lengths to make skinless sausages. Cover and chill.

Homemade sausages are best eaten fresh but will keep refrigerated for 2–3 days.
When ready to eat, fry gently on a barely oiled pan on a medium heat until golden on all sides. These sausages are particularly delicious served with

Apple Sauce
and Potato Cakes

Best Ever Apple Sauce

1 lb (450g) cooking apples
1-2 dessertspoon water
2 ozs (55g) approx. sugar (depending on how tart the apples are)

Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut the pieces in two and put them in a stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan, with sugar and water. Cover and cook on a very low heat until the apples break down in a fluff. Stir and taste for sweetness. Serve warm or cold.

Chocolate Mousse

Serves 8

285ml (10floz) cream
200g (7oz) good quality chocolate
2 large egg yolks – free-range and organic
½ teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon of coffee
25g (1oz) unsalted butter

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the cream until it reaches the shivery stage, almost boiling. Take off the heat, leave for about a minute.

Then add the chocolate and whisk until fully smooth. Beat in the egg yolks. Add the butter, whisk till smooth and silky.

Pour into individual serving pots, espresso cups or chocolate cases. Cover well and leave to set in the fridge. Serve with a jug of pouring cream.

Variations
For a lighter mouse fold in 2 stiffly beaten egg whites before pouring into pots

 

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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