“NO SHOWS”

&
Recipes
  1. Globe Artichokes with Melted Butter   Serves 6   In season:   Whole Globe artichokes are quite fiddly to eat. First you pull off each leaf separately and dip in the sauce. Eventually you are rewarded for your patience when you come to the heart! Don’t forget to scrape off the tickly ‘choke’; then cut the heart into manageable pieces, sprinkle with a little sea salt before you dip it into the remainder of your sauce.  Simply Delicious!   6 globe artichokes 1.1 litres (2pints) water 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons approx. white wine vinegar   Melted Butter 175g (6oz) butter 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed   Some restaurants do very complicated preparation but I merely trim the base just before cooking so the artichokes will sit steadily on the plate, rub the cut end with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent it from discolouring.   Have a large saucepan of boiling water ready, add 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to every 2 pints of water, pop in the artichokes and bring the water back to the boil. Simmer steadily for about 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes you could try testing to see if they are done.  I do this by tugging off one of the larger leaves at the base, it should come away easily, if it doesn’t continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and drain upside down on a plate.   While they are cooking simply melt the butter and add lemon juice to taste.   To Serve Put each warm artichoke onto a hot serving plate, serve the sauce or melted butter in a little bowl beside it.  Artichokes are eaten with your fingers, so you might like to provide a finger bowl. A spare plate to collect all the nibbled leaves will also be useful.   Bocconcini, Olive, Heriloom Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto on Skewers   Bocconcini are baby mozzarella – great fun for salads, finger food and some pasta dishes however they need a little bit of help from the flavour perspective.  Pesto is an obvious choice.   Makes 20   20 bocconcini Extra virgin olive oil Pesto (see Hot Tips)   20–40 basil leaves 20 Kalamata olives 20 heirloom cherry tomatoes   bamboo cocktail sticks or short satay sticks   Drain the bocconcini and pop them into a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a generous tablespoon of homemade pesto. Toss to coat. Cover closely, leave to marinade for at least 5 minutes.

We need to talk about ‘no shows’. Some may not even understand the term used by restaurants when guests who have booked a table do not show up on the night or cancel at the last minute when it’s too late to refill the table.

We are fortunate that this is a rare occurrence at Ballymaloe House but this practice is rampant around the country and appears, as on restauranteur put it , to have become ‘a national sport’. I’m quite sure those who lightly book two or three restaurants on the same night and then decide after a few drinks where they’ll actually go don’t realise the devastating impact they are having on the restaurant industry where the margins are very tight and no shows can and do make the difference between profit and loss, survival or not.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland in support of its members earlier this year urged them to take non-refundable deposits which would be deducted from the final bill in an effort to raise awareness of the impact of ‘no shows’. This decision was made after an average of 15% to 20% of bookings over the Christmas period turned out to be ‘no shows’. This is not just an Irish phenomenon, restaurants in the US and UK are also experiencing similar challenges and are responding by charging non-refundable booking deposits.

This practice seems to enrage many Irish customers yet, where else can we expect to book something without paying – a theatre or concert ticket – no way…

The BBC Radio 4 Food Programme recently did an entire segment on the problem with several chefs, owners and restaurant critics discussing the impact. Interestingly, the problem seemed to be considerably less among the restaurants who answer the phone rather than take bookings on a ‘booking engine’ or ‘answering machine’. Not surprisingly personal contact, a friendly human voice and a little chat, creates a bond and somehow seems to make it more difficult for customers not to show up. Some restaurants don’t even have a telephone number any longer so you must book on line. At a time when costs are soaring, business rates are increasing dramatically, particularly in cities, investment and growth in the industry is slowing down and there are acute labour shortages, no shows, are the last straw for many hard pressed restaurateurs.

 

Some restaurants in cities have opted to have a no-booking policy, guests just show up, take their chance and must be prepared to queue, that at least eliminates the ‘no show’ problem, but only works in a densely populated area where there are enough customers who are prepared to queue and the food must be worth the wait….

In just one small seasonal restaurant in West Cork last Summer, there were over 60 ‘no shows’ during the month of August which eliminated the profit for the entire month. Sadly several were regulars who would have been quite affronted at the suggestion that they should pay a non-refundable booking deposit.   In our busy lives we often don’t realize the impact of our actions – but this is not OK….

Of course plans change for a variety of reasons, some totally unavoidable but at the very least, let’s pick up the phone and cancel at the earliest opportunity so the restaurant has the opportunity to refill the table. Few restaurants will hold a deposit in the case of unexpected death or a misfortunate accident.

 

So now for something more cheerful – some of the dishes we have been enjoying with the delicious fresh summer produce from the garden, glasshouses and local area.

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Hummus with Spiced Lamb, Pinenuts and Coriander

Serves 6-8 (depending on how it is served)

450g (1lb) lamb, shoulder or fillet

 

Marinade:

1 garlic clove, crushed

extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon sumac

½ teaspoon marjoram or oregano, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

A pinch of Aleppo pepper (pul biber) or cayenne pepper

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

 

Hummus 

170g (6oz) chickpeas, cooked, save the cooking liquid

freshly squeezed juice of 2-3 lemons, or to taste

2-3 large or small cloves garlic, crushed

150ml (5fl oz) tahini paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

salt

 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for frying

30g Italian pine nuts

 

To garnish:

fresh coriander leaves, coarsely, chopped

1-2 teaspoons sumac

extra virgin olive oil

a few fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

Chop the lamb fillet into 1cm-thick pieces.

Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in a bowl.

Add to the marinade and allow to soak up the flavours for 30 minutes to an hour.

 

Meanwhile make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, save the cooking liquid. Whizz up the remainder in a food processor with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little cooking water if necessary. Add the crushed garlic, tahini paste, cumin and salt to taste. Blend to a soft creamy paste. Taste and continue to add lemon juice and salt until you are happy with the flavour.

 

 

Toast the pine kernels over a gentle heat in a frying pan or under a grill tossing regularly. Set aside

 

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and fry the lamb for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until it is just cooked through.

 

When you are ready to eat, transfer the hummus to individual serving bowls, use the back of a spoon to make a shallow well in each. Spoon the lamb over, finishing with a sprinkling of coriander, the toasted pine nuts and a pinch of sumac. Serve with pitta bread or any white crusty bread, we love to use the Alsham Bakery Syrian flat bread, made in Cork city.

 

Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle a few fresh pomegranate seeds over the top if you like.

Globe Artichokes with Melted Butter

 

Serves 6

 

In season:

 

Whole Globe artichokes are quite fiddly to eat. First you pull off each leaf separately and dip in the sauce. Eventually you are rewarded for your patience when you come to the heart! Don’t forget to scrape off the tickly ‘choke’; then cut the heart into manageable pieces, sprinkle with a little sea salt before you dip it into the remainder of your sauce.  Simply Delicious!

 

6 globe artichokes

1.1 litres (2pints) water

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons approx. white wine vinegar

 

Melted Butter

175g (6oz) butter

1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed

 

Some restaurants do very complicated preparation but I merely trim the base just before cooking so the artichokes will sit steadily on the plate, rub the cut end with lemon juice or vinegar to prevent it from discolouring.

 

Have a large saucepan of boiling water ready, add 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of salt to every 2 pints of water, pop in the artichokes and bring the water back to the boil. Simmer steadily for about 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes you could try testing to see if they are done.  I do this by tugging off one of the larger leaves at the base, it should come away easily, if it doesn’t continue to cook for another 5 – 10 minutes. Remove and drain upside down on a plate.

 

While they are cooking simply melt the butter and add lemon juice to taste.

 

To Serve

Put each warm artichoke onto a hot serving plate, serve the sauce or melted butter in a little bowl beside it.  Artichokes are eaten with your fingers, so you might like to provide a finger bowl. A spare plate to collect all the nibbled leaves will also be useful.

 

Bocconcini, Olive, Heriloom Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto on Skewers

 

Bocconcini are baby mozzarella – great fun for salads, finger food and some pasta dishes however they need a little bit of help from the flavour perspective.  Pesto is an obvious choice.

 

Makes 20

 

20 bocconcini

Extra virgin olive oil

Pesto (see Hot Tips)

 

20–40 basil leaves

20 Kalamata olives

20 heirloom cherry tomatoes

 

bamboo cocktail sticks or short satay sticks

 

Drain the bocconcini and pop them into a bowl, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a generous tablespoon of homemade pesto. Toss to coat. Cover closely, leave to marinade for at least 5 minutes.

Note; The pesto will discolour if the bocconcini are tossed too far ahead.

 

 

Buffalo Mozzarella with Caponata

Love this as a starter with some crusty sourdough.  We use the fresh tender Irish mozzarella made near Macroom in West Cork.

Serves 4

 

4 buffalo mozzarella

4-6 tablespoon Caponata, see below

6-8 leaves fresh basil

Extra virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt

 

 

To serve:

 

Cut each of the mozzarella into quarters. Arrange four wedges on a large plate.   Spoon a generous tablespoon of caponata on top.   Drizzle extra virgin olive oil.   Sprinkle with a chiffonade of basil and a few flakes of sea salt.   Serve immediately with good crusty bread.

Caponata

 

Serves 4-6

 

1 large aubergine, dice in 1/2- 3/4inch (1cm-2cm) but not peeled

salt

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5-6 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander

1 teaspoon capers

12 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat parsley, chopped

salt and pepper

 

Cut the aubergine into 1-2cm (1/2-3/4inch) dice. Sprinkle with salt. Leave to drain for 30 minutes approximately. Rinse and gently dry with a clean tea towel or kitchen paper.
Heat 4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil in a wide sauté pan. Add the celery and cook slightly until browned. Transfer to a plate. Add the aubergine to the pan; add more oil if necessary, sauté until golden and tender, sauté. Leave to cool.

 

Add another tablespoon oil to the pan and sauté the onion until golden. Chop the tomatoes and add with the juice. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until thick. Add sugar, wine, vinegar and coriander. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Stir in the capers, olives, parsley, aubergine and celery. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, pour into a serving dish.

Serve warm or cool.

 

Carpaccio of wild salmon with fennel flowers and pollen

A rare and special treat enjoyed during the few weeks a year when we can get a precious wild salmon.

 

Serves 4

 

175g spanking fresh wild salmon

homemade mayonnaise

freshly squeezed lemon juice

extra virgin olive oil

fennel pollen

fennel flowers

fennel fronds

freshly cracked pepper

 

 

Chill the salmon for several hours or pop into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Chill the plates.

 

Just before serving:

Slice the salmon as thinly as possible.  Spread a very little homemade mayonnaise on the base of each chilled plate.   Lay a single layer of salmon on top.  Sprinkle with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a tiny drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Sprinkle some fennel pollen over each plate.  Snip some fennel flowers and fronds on top and finally a little sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper.

Serve as soon as possible with Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread – sublime.

 

 

 

 

 

Loganberry Jellies with Fresh Mint Cream

 

Makes 9-10

Syrup

200g (7oz) sugar

225ml (8fl oz) water

4 sprigs fresh mint

1 dessertspoon Framboise

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

3 teaspoons gelatine

3 tablespoons water

 

450g (1lb) fresh loganberries

Mint Cream

15 mint leaves approximate

1 tablespoon lemon juice

150ml (5fl oz) cream

mint leaves and loganberries for garnish

 

9-10 round or oval moulds – 75ml (3fl oz) capacity

(2 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches/6.6 x 3cm)

 

Make a syrup by bringing sugar, water and mint leaves slowly to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, allow to cool, add the Framboise and lemon juice.

 

Meanwhile brush the inside of the moulds with non-scented oil, I use light peanut or sunflower oil

 

Sponge the gelatine in the water, then place the bowl in a pan of simmering water until the gelatine completely dissolved.

 

Remove the mint leaves from the syrup, then pour the syrup onto the gelatine.  Add the loganberries and stir gently. Fill immediately into the lined moulds. Smooth them over the top so they won’t be wobbly when you unmould them onto a plate.  Put them into the fridge and leave to set for 3-4 hours.

 

 

Meanwhile make the Mint cream.

Crush the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with the lemon juice, add the cream and stir, the lemon juice will thicken the cream.  If the cream becomes too thick, add a little water.

 

To Serve

Spread a little mint cream on a chilled a white plate, unmould a loganberry jelly and place in the centre. Place five mint leaves on the mint cream around the jelly. Decorate with a few perfect loganberries, repeat with the other jellies.  Serve chilled.

 

HOT TIPS

 

Preserve your gluts…

Basil Pesto Homemade Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy.  The problem is getting enough basil, those of you grow your own will have plenty of basil this year.  If you have difficulty, use parsley, a mixture of parsley and mint or parsley and coriander – different but still delicious.

Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzerella.

4ozs (110g) fresh basil leaves

6 – 8fl oz (175 – 225ml) extra virgin olive oil

1oz (25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2oz (50g/) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)

salt to taste

 

Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar.  Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season.

 

Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don’t add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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