Food Blogs

Spiced Apples, Onions, and Beans over Butternut Squash

Food Renegade - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 18:26
Freshly baked and buttered squash becomes the base of something warm, spiced, and delicious. Apples and onions come together for a sweet addition along with savory spices like garlic and ginger. It's the perfect dish to welcome Fall.

How to make the perfect bircher muesli

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:00

What do you add to your soaked-oat muesli, does anyone use sugar and cream, and which other breakfasts can you prepare the night before?

How to make the perfect granola

How to make the perfect tattie scones

When I first encountered bircher muesli on the bountiful breakfast table at Irelands Ballymaloe House I assumed theyd invented it, so perfect was the combination of Irish oatmeal, homegrown apples and thick yellow cream. In fact, as I quickly discovered when I tried to recreate this mushy beige manna at home, bircher mueslis origins lie a long way from the green fields of County Cork.

It is the creation of Maximilian Bircher-Benner, a Swiss doctor and nutritionist, who developed it for patients at his Zurich sanatorium at the turn of the last century as a way of shoehorning yet more raw fruit into their diets. His charges started every single meal with a bowl of his little mush which may, I concede, have been rather too much of a good thing.

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From freekeh to teff: five ancient grains you could add to your larder

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:00

Looking for an interesting substitute for rice or pasta? Here, experts, including Yotam Ottolenghi, reveal how to get the best out of some underused but versatile grains

Whether its teff or freekeh or something else completely unpronounceable, announcements of the new quinoa keep coming so thick and fast, it can be hard to keep up with how to say, let alone cook with them. But their popularity is based on something more substantial than linguistic bragging rights. There are claims that theyre better for us than modern grains, and chefs love their versatility and flavour. Michael Marriage of Doves Farm, has been growing ancient grains such as spelt since 1978, way before it was even vaguely cool. Theres been a phenomenal interest in older varieties recently, he says. Many people tell us they find these historic grains are more digestible. Go-to chef for all things grain-related, Yotam Ottolenghi, agrees. Theyre a very cheap way to eat well. A lot of these grains are great for those looking for an alternative to white pasta or rice or whore keeping an eye on their intake of wheat.

The fact that theyre easy to use is another reason for their appeal. They have such variety, says Tomar Amedi, head chef at The Palomar, a Soho restaurant serving the food of modern day Jerusalem. They can absorb flavours and elevate taste but theyre also really healthy. Ottolenghi loves the versatility: Theyve enough going on flavour- and texture-wise to allow for a very simple dish to suffice, he says, but theyre also happy to be paired with very robust flavours such as preserved lemon skin, sharp barberries, or piquant sumac, if you want to scale things up and produce something big and bold. Its the much-parodied quinoa that arguably brought ancient grains to our attention, there are plenty more to play with: Incan and Aztec grains like amaranth and millet, and other Middle Eastern grains such as maftoul and mograbieh, as well as jireesh, einkorn, khorasan kamut and sorghum Feeling overwhelmed? Panic not; Heres the lowdown on five of the best grains around

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Does the USDA Really Need Submachine Guns?

Food Renegade - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 19:19
Earlier this year, the USDA solicited submachine guns. The United States Department of Agriculture! This is an agency tasked with regulating agriculture... and they asked for submachine guns. My question: Why would an agency created to regulate farmers require automatic weapons?

Get your claws into British crab

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 08:00

It is much cheaper than lobster and some say tastier plus a sustainable and versatile ingredient. Do you cook with crab? Would you boil it yourself? And can any recipe surpass a simple crab mayo sandwich?

It may have been an extended summer, but it is well and truly over. The bucket and spade are long packed up, the sticks of rock have been chomped through and that whisper of a suntan has faded away. Luckily, there is still one seaside treat thats good for another few months British crab. The crustacean is at the peak of its season right now, and it seems we cant get enough of it. Waitrose says its sales of British crab are up 13% year on year, with overall shellfish sales up 25%.

There seem to be several reasons for crabs increasing popularity. Waitrose is attributing the sales rise, in part, to the sunny summer. But it is also flavour of the month at several new(ish) restaurants, including Outlaws Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, Cornwall, Bonnie Gull Seafood Café in London (try the Dorset crab roll with pickled cucumber) and Beast, also in London, a banqueting hall for latter-day Henry VIIIs who feast on steaks and Norwegian king crab.

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Craft beer: top 10 supermarket buys

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:16

The big breweries are keen to muscle in on the craft beer market and their often ineffectual craft ales are now commonplace in high street stores. But it is worth remembering that our supermarkets do stock some truly world class beers. Here are 10 of the best.

You have to hand it to Britains major brewers and big drinks conglomerates; they are firmly across consumer trends. Craft beer had barely established itself as a new category in the UK, when they started leaping on the bandwagon. The market is now awash with craft-not-craft beers which, for all their trendy packaging, use of cascade and mosaic hops and adoption of du jour beer styles, still fall short on that crucial component flavour.

From Brains Barry Island IPA to Marstons rather sorry Revisionist saison, Greene Kings mystifyingly taste-free attempts at craft, such as Yardbird or St Edmunds, to the comparatively impressive Adnams Innovation IPA, these beers tend to offer, to varying degrees, little more than a distant echo of the real thing. Guinness is the latest to enter the fray with two new porters. The 3.8% Dublin is thin, fizzy and sweet, a stout beer, but one, in so much as it tastes of anything, that is curiously reminiscent of dandelion and burdock pop. At 6%, the West Indies is a better beer boozy, with initially interesting hints of molasses, tar and vanilla but it lacks the fulsome complexity and the long, lingering finish of a good craft porter. At best, you would describe both these beers as entry-level examples of the style.

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Finding Health Within

Lucy Hyland - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:41
Finding health within can start with the right questions. I received interesting feedback from a client the other day. She wrote to me about one of the health programmes I am running at the moment. “Your style invites me into...Read More
Categories: Interesting Blogs

Darina Allen: Recipes That Will Warm Up Any Autumn

Darinas Saturday Letter - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 11:22

IFEST, The first major celebration of Irish culture and food was held in Boston recently. It’s the brainchild of Rachael Kelly, the young entrepreneur who was behind the Taste of Dublin festival for many years. Her vision is to take IFEST to all the American cities where there is a strong Irish diaspora and not just to celebrate Ireland but to generate both business investment and tourism.

Rachael invited me to cook the Welcome Gala Dinner at the Seaport Hotel on the opening night with Boston chef Lydia Shire, we had lots of fun in the kitchen with a terrific supporting cast.
Brigitta Hedin Curtin had brought her Burren smoked wild Irish salmon all the way from Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare. We served that with pickled red onions and Arjard, and lots of freshly baked Ballymaloe brown bread and white soda bread slathered with Irish Kerrygold butter. It’s now widely available in the US and much sought after not only by the Irish Americans with a craving for a taste of home but by many top chefs simply for its quality and flavour.

Next there was pea and cilantro soup followed by delicious lamb with eggplant and rocket leaves, Lydia Shire’s son had cooked a beautiful fish plate of haddock and lobster in foaming Irish brown butter with cape gooseberries and sugar pumpkin soufflé.

My team at the Ballymaloe cookery school had make hundreds of homemade crackers to go with the Cashel Blue and Dubliner and Skellig cheeses and then came Lydia’s interpretation of Irish coffee meringue, a fluffy tender pavlova served with a Irish Jameson cream and a square of coffee jelly, a real ‘ta dah’ dessert that rounded off the meal in a delicious and memorable way.
After dinner, there was a live performance of Riverdance and Heartbeat of Home, brought to Boston by Moya Doherty, who has supported the IFEST concept from its inception. Paddy Moloney joined them on stage with a surprise appearance by astronaut Cady Coleman who had taken one of Paddy’s tin whistles into space in 2011. They played a magical duet together on the stage , it was a ‘goose prickle’ moment for sure.

The festival ran over three days with Jameson and Dingle gin well represented as well as numerous other Irish companies. I gave a couple of cookery demonstrations of Irish baking, barn brack, orange scones, Spotted dog and Auntie Florence’ s crumpets. You can’t imagine the response, after each demonstration the audience surrounded the podium and devoured every morsel, Kevin Dundon from Dunbrody House and Cathal Armstrong originally from Dublin also gave cookery demonstrations as well as many well-known Boston chefs including Barbara Lynch, Ana Sortun and renowned Sofra pastry chef Maura Kilpatrick.

As usual I whizzed around town to check out the food scene, I loved the food at Sofra, a Middle Eastern Bakery and café and picked up lots of goodies at unmissable Formaggio, a grocer and cheese shop. I also had a delicious dinner at Barbara Lynch’s Sportello, most memorable was a dish of pasta with rabbit and green olives. Row 34, close to the Seaport was also throbbing, we ate out on the street so we could try to hear each other. Sadly, super loud thumping music is a persistent trend in many US restaurants not sure if it helps to turn the tables faster but it’s totally exhausting if you actually want to try to catch up with your dinner companions unless you can lip read.
Loved the raw fish, briny sea urchin roes on a crostini, several different types of oysters including crispy fried oysters with pickled vegetables in lettuce cups and tuna sashimi with avocado and crispy onions.

I managed to take in two Farmers Markets on Saturday morning, one at Union Square and the other at Eccleston Place, close to Jamacia Square where there was a Fermentation Festival in full swing. Guess who I bumped into, Sandor Katz, the fermentation guru who has been one of the stars of the LitFest for the past two years. He thought he was hallucinating when he saw me….
The fermentation and pickling movement is huge and still growing.

I also loved a little shop called Farm and Fable owned by Abbey Ruettgers who too was astonished when I walked in to her premises. She had been to the cookery school for a week when she was 12, can’t imagine how she recognised me, I had brown hair and red glasses back then…

Finally on Sunday evening just before I dashed to the airport, I had a selection of small plates at Coppa, delicious food in a really cool neighbourhood restaurant, a must for your Boston list. Farm and Fable, Formaggio and Coppa are within a few steps of each other on Shawmut Avenue in Boston.

 

Chef Jamie Bissonette won a James Beard Award and has recently published a new book on Charcuterie, to make and serve at home.

 

Jamie Bissonnette’s Cauliflower Kimchi

Makes 1 Gallon (3.7l)
If you want to learn about fermenting meats, I recommend learning how to make kimchi, or fermented vegetables, first. This is good training because it shows patience! You can substitute any number of vegetables in this traditional Korean recipe, including cabbage, swede turnip, carrots, radishes or cucumbers.
1 head cauliflower
2 tbsp (30g) ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
1.5oz (80g) coarse Chilean chilli flakes
3 red radishes, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 sprigs scallion chopped rough
16 fl oz (450ml) fish sauce
2 ozs (60g) palm sugar
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup (225ml/8 fl oz) water
Chop the head of cauliflower to resemble large pieces of couscous. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup (237ml) water, or enough water so that mixture is ¾ covered with water. Put in an airtight container and let it sit in a cool, dry place for 1 week. Check it every day and shake it up if any fuzz appears on the surface. After 1 week it’s ready to eat – and it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.
If you’re not patient enough to wait a week, double the lime juice and let the kimchi sit overnight in the refrigerator. It will be ready to eat immediately.

From The New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette, published by Page Street Publishing.

Jamie Bissonnette’s Green Tomato Chutney

Makes 2 quarts (1.8l)
A lot of farmers come to us with green tomatoes, and you can only pickle or fry so many! I started making chutneys out of them, and this recipe is so popular we make it in 20-pound batches. The sour, tart flavour of the green tomatoes combined with the sugar yields sweet and sour flavoured chutney that can be served on anything from cheese to Foie Gras Torchon.

4 cloves garlic
1 piece mace
1 broken piece cassia bark
1lb (450g) green tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups (480g) sugar
¼ cup (60g) yellow mustard seeds
1 tbsp (15ml) molasses
2 tbsp (30ml) white wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15ml) mustard seed oil
Sachet in cheesecloth: 4 garlic cloves, 1 piece mace and 1 broken piece cassia bark.
Mix the tomatoes with the sugar and let sit overnight in the refrigerator, or at least 12 hours. Combine sugared tomatoes with all other ingredients in a pot. Cook over a medium heat for 45 minutes, adding ¼ cup (60ml) water if it’s too thick.
Alternatively, add 1 cup (240g) chopped Indian lime (right out of the jar) and use over steamed white rice.
The New Charcuterie Cookbook by Jamie Bissonnette, published by Page Street Publishing.

Strozzapreti with Rabbit and Green Olives

We loved this dish from Barbara Lynch, which is considered to be a classic at Sportello, one of her restaurants on Boston.

Ingredients:
16fl oz (450ml) strained stock (recipe below)
1 cup chopped green olives – conversion pending from Teachers
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 whole rabbit, broken down (forearms, thighs, loins) and carcass reserved for stock
Fresh strozzapreti (recipe below)
Salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Rabbit Stock:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 rabbit carcass, chopped
1 small onion, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
8fl oz (225ml) white wine

Strozzapreti:
10 oz (275g) semolina flour, divided
Pinch of salt
8fl oz (225ml) warm water

Preparation:
Place strained stock in a sauce pot, bring to a simmer and reduce over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add chopped olives, rosemary and rabbit meat and cook for another 20 minutes. Pierce meat with a fork — meat should pull away from the bone easily. Remove meat, chop into smaller pieces and add back to sauce, continuing to reduce for 10 minutes. Toss with cooked strozzapreti and season with salt and pepper to taste and a bit of grated Parmesan to pull it all together.

Rabbit Stock:
In a medium-size braiser, heat oil over medium heat. Add rabbit bones, and brown. Remove bones and set aside, then add forearms, thighs and loins and sauté until browned. Remove and set aside. Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sauté until softened and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits then add the bones and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour. Reduce to a simmer and cook for an additional hour. Cool, strain, and reserve.

Strozzapreti:
Place 7½ oz (210g) semolina with salt in a mixer with hook attachment (save the remaining 2½ oz (60g) for the sheet trays). Add water slowly, and mix until a nice smooth ball of dough is formed, about 7 minutes. Remove and rest under a damp cloth. Divide the dough into thirds, and shape one portion at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. On a wooden board, form large pea-size pieces of dough. Using you index and middle fingers, roll a piece toward you, back and forth a few times until about 2 inches (5cm) long and thicker in the middle. If the board is too dry, wet it with a damp cloth (You will know if you need damp cloth if the pasta isn’t rolling easily!). After rolling, place shaped pasta on a sheet tray or flat plate sprinkled with semolina and freeze or refrigerate until you are ready to cook it.

 

Hot Tips

  • Gubbeen Cheese are doing a special Offer to celebrate the publication of their much anticipated new book: GUBBEEN, The Story of a Working Farm and its Foods.From 16th October for two weeks they are offering a copy of the Book plus a small Gubbeen Cheese and some of their Oatcakes for €35 plus p&p,see www.gubbeen.com for details.
  • Head to the Marble City for the eighth annual Savour Kilkenny food festival from October 24 to 27 2014.
    Chefs taking part in this year’s event include Rory O’Connell from Ballymaloe Cookery School, Kevin Dundon from Dunbrody House, Arun Kapil from Green Saffron and Stephen Gibson from Pichet.
    Events include Can the Critics Cook?, which sees food writers swapping their pens for aprons, and Meet the Maker, where some of Kilkenny’s best food producers tell us the stories behind their ranges.
    The festival wraps up on Sunday with a food market featuring 85 producers.
    You can see the full programme at savourkilkenny.com
  • Another Hot Tip for your London list, SPRING has definitely sprung with the opening of the most anticipated new restaurant for several years, Skye Gyngell’s restaurant in a green house at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond was a game changer on the London food scene. When she left a couple of years ago having been awarded a Michelin star for her decidedly un Michelin style food, her devotees of which I am most certainly one were bereft, now we’re happy again…
    SPRING is in Somerset House on the Strand.
    Telephone: 0044 203 011 0115 – Website: springrestaurant.co.uk
Categories: Darinas Blog

How to bake the perfect flourless chocolate cake

Guardian Food Blog - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:00

How do you get it creamy yet fluffy, have you made the original River Café chocolate nemesis recipe, and which other gluten-free desserts are worth a go?

This week has been a learning curve for me. Id naively assumed that a flourless chocolate cake was the kind of thing you might make when a coeliac friend was coming for tea, possibly involving some sort of ground nuts or cornflour.

But after looking at a few recipes, it dawned on me that I was barking up completely the wrong tree. Though such cakes certainly exist, the classic flourless variety doesnt just eschew wheat, but any sort of starchy meal, giving it a rich flavour and a dense, fudgy or creamy texture that puts it firmly in the dessert, rather than the teatime, category. (Though, of course, theres nothing to stop you inviting that coeliac friend for dinner.)

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Why You Should Eat Rabbit

Food Renegade - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 20:13
Often overlooked, rabbit is an environmentally-friendly, easy-to-produce, yummy-to-eat local meat. Yet most of us shy away from it. That's because it's not one of the Big Four (beef, chicken, pork, turkey) that we casually find in almost every supermarket. Why isn't rabbit in your supermarket? Having tasted the succulent meat, it's not because it doesn't taste good.

Which fictional bars and restaurants would you like to visit?

Guardian Food Blog - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 10:48

As New York flocks to a pop-up replica of Friends Central Perk and another opens in Liverpool, Word of Mouth asks: which fictional hangouts from books and TV would you frequent?

If you found Phoebes Smelly Cat one of TVs most excruciating running gags or Gunthers Rachel obsession faintly sinister, the idea of hanging out in a replica of the Friends coffee shop, Central Perk, will be about as appealing as, well, watching five-hours of Friends repeats on Comedy Central. But, evidently, there is a market for it.

A second Central Perk doppelganger complete with mismatched sofas, salmon and cream cheese bagels has just opened in Liverpool, one of 300 (!) its owners plan to open in the next decade. Meanwhile, in New York, to celebrate Friends 20th anniversary, a pop-up Central Perk has had fans queuing for more than an hour for free coffee and a chance to look at Joeys ceramic white dog (no, me neither).

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Why eating with other people makes us fat

Guardian Food Blog - Tue, 10/14/2014 - 07:00

Studies suggest we eat more in the company of an overweight person, a man, a spouse, family members, friends Why is this, and is there anything we can do to control it?

Eating with other people is fattening. This has been demonstrated by umpteen scientists who have our collective waistlines at heart. Take the fat suit study (as it is informally known), just published in the latest issue of the journal Appetite. A team of psychologists, led by Mitsuru Shimizu at Southern Illinois University, found that people ate 31.6% more pasta and 43.5% less salad when in the company of an overweight person, irrespective of how healthy the overweight persons food servings were.

The experiment was following up on a hypothesis, explains Shimizu, that the goal to eat healthily is deactivated by eating with someone who is overweight. Probably, he continues, we have an unconscious goal to eat healthily, because we are supposed to, but when eating with an overweight companion, maybe that goal is less activated or deactivated.

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Spain gets taste for greens as vegans, vegetarians and vegivores flourish

Guardian Food Blog - Mon, 10/13/2014 - 07:00

Spanish people have a reputation as diehard meat eaters. But in recent years, as the number of vegan or vegetarian restaurants in Spain has doubled, there are signs of change

The Smiths Meat Is Murder might seem the perfect soundtrack for a vegan festival, but its not hard to see why the DJ replaces it halfway through with something more upbeat. Morrisseys accusatory vocals dont fit the ambience of a sunny day on Spains laidback east coast.

Although were at an old cigarette factory in a slightly rundown suburb of Alicante, the atmosphere is more like a village fete than a radical meeting. In front of where they used to make the cigarettes (now a trendy art gallery) there are stalls selling chutney, muffins and smoothies. On stage, theyve just finished packing away the props left by the childrens entertainers and, inside, more than 200 people have just crammed themselves into a soap-making workshop.

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Tex Mex Layered Salad

Food Renegade - Sun, 10/12/2014 - 19:56
There is nothing like a delicious Tex Mex Layered side salad no matter what time of year! I make this bean salad when I am in a pinch and want something that is easy but also nutritious. Serve on a bed of rice or in a tortilla, or just as side dish with any meal.

Darina Allen: Back To College Recipes

Darinas Saturday Letter - Sat, 10/11/2014 - 13:17

Back to college has produced lots of nightmare stories, as students scramble to find affordable accommodation in a scarce and challenging market.
So let’s hope you have already found a comfy spot, with a little kitchen and a table large enough to gather your pals around for some exotic and comforting little feasts and why not….

The old cliché of students living on microwave frozen pizzas, burgers and soggy takeaways is fast becoming outdated. Cool, young people are running, cycling, exercising and are pretty determined to keep their brain cells sharp by eating healthily.

Everyone has got the taste for spicy food; Indian, Middle Eastern, Mexican….many of the college kids I know are keen to cook and aren’t afraid to experiment with new ingredients.
They are acutely aware of the benefits of eating well but want to know how to save money but still eat healthily. They want recipes for yummy, tasty food that doesn’t take too long to rustle up when they arrive home, ravenous with hunger in the evening.

People with little money have to be even more crafty and inventive. Lesser known cuts of meat are always cheaper, and need gentle cooking to transform them to melting tenderness. And don’t forget to pick up a slab of streaky bacon, it’s a fantastic standby, brilliant to add to pasta, sauces, casseroles, stews, omelettes; or just to make a few crispy lardons to sprinkle over a salad.

Clever spicing can turn even a few simple root vegetables into a feast. Both meat and vegetables can be delicious bulked up with beans and lentils – grains too; pearl barley, couscous and quinoa add irresistible nourishment and volume.
Don’t forget to soak the grains well first in lots of fresh, cold water. They’ll double in volume and be infinitely more digestible.

Buy a few packets of both spice blends and whole spices. Pestle and mortars are ‘two a penny’ nowadays – they were on sale recently for €10 in one of the discount shops. I bought a perfect little pestle and mortar made from lava rock. It’ll only take a few seconds to grind a few cumin, coriander or cardamom seeds. I can’t think of anything that adds so much magic to food for so little money than a few freshly ground spices.
Look out for ras el hanout, a North African blend spice. Green Saffron have a variety of Indian blends and provide recipes with each packet. www.greensaffron.com

Fresh herbs can easily be grown on a window sill in a variety of recycled cans and boxes; don’t forget to water them! Get together with your mates to bulk buy staples like rice, pasta, pulses and grains. With a stock of store cupboard standbys, spices and fresh herbs, you’re sorted. Pick up the phone and invite the pals around.

Isaac’s Frittata

Serves 1

Isaac makes individual frittatas that are light and fluffy, he says the secret is to add lots of milk and to whisk the eggs very well.

15g(1/2oz) butter.
2 eggs, free range, organic
55ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) milk
45g (1 1/2ozs) grated Gruyere cheese
1-2 diced cooked potatoes, diced
30g(1oz) diced chorizo or cooked diced bacon or ham.
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) freshly chopped chives or parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
a little butter for frying

20.5cm (8inch) heavy bottomed frying pan

Melt a knob of butter in the frying pan.

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl and season. (1 pinch of salt and 2 twists of pepper per egg is a good guide line if you are a little wary of tasting raw eggs.) Now add the milk and whisk thoroughly until the whites and yolk have completely blended together, add the grated cheese, diced potato and chorizo, chopped herbs and mix in gently.

When the butter is foaming pour all the mixture into the hot pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrap the cooked mixture from the bottom, filling its space with liquid. Do this just 5 or 6 times then allow the mixture to cook on a high flame for a further minute. Take the pan off the heat and place under a hot grill, continue cooking until the mixture has fluffed up nicely and is beginning to turn golden brown on top.
Using a metal pallet knife loosen the edges and slide onto a plate. Serve on its own with a green salad or with a little drizzle of basil pesto (see recipe).

Once you have the basic mixture and cooking technique right there are lots of lovely variations on the theme.

Irish Breakfast Frittata

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

25g (1oz) of sliced mushrooms. Fried in a little butter salt and pepper, and 2 streaky rashers cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) pieces and fried until crispy.

Frittata Ranchero

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

25g (1oz) chopped sweated onion
1 small tomato cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
1 teaspoon chopped chilli or more to taste
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) chopped coriander (instead of parsley or chives)

Penny’s Sweet Potato and Rice or Quinoa Salad

Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, a major antioxidant, which helps safeguard immune health. They aid digestion, reduce inflammation in ulcers and aid circulation.

Other sweet vegetables and roast peppers could also be used. Chickpeas or beans would also be a gorgeous addition.

Serves 6-8

1 big sweet potato
4 onions
3 tablespoons (3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt

6-8ozs (175-225g) cooked brown basmati rice or quinoa

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) pumpkin seeds (toasted)
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) sunflower seeds (toasted)
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sesame seeds (toasted)

Vinaigrette
juice and zest of 2 limes
same volume of extra virgin olive oil (or slightly less)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) soy sauce
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
5 spring onions or lots of chives chopped finely
lots of chopped basil or coriander
1 teaspoon organic sugar

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Gas Mark 8

Peel the sweet potato and onion, cut into 3/4 inch (1.5cm) cubes. Mix the spices with the oil, toss the vegetables in the oil and spread out on a baking tray. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and slightly caramelised.

Next make the vinaigrette.
Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.

To Serve
Put the cooled cooked rice or quinoa if using, roast vegetables and toasted seeds in a bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, toss well. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Stirabout Bread

This is a more modern version of Soda Bread, couldn’t be simpler, just mix and pour into a well-greased tin. This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

400g (14ozs/2 1/2 cups) wholemeal flour or a wholemeal flour of your choice
75g (3ozs/3/4 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 egg,
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)vegetable oil,
1 teaspoon honey or treacle
425ml (15fl ozs/scant 2 cups) buttermilk or sourmilk approx. (put all the milk in)

Sunflower or sesame seeds optional

Loaf tin 23×12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey most of the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approx, or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Health Bread

Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Great with a teaspoon of ras el hanout or a mixture of cumin and coriander. Ask a few pals around, or fry off half as burgers and tuck them into a bun with lots of salad, sliced tomatoes, and cheese.

Serves 6

Meatballs
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
900g (2lbs) freshly minced beef (80% lean) or 700g (1 1/2lbs) beef/225g (8oz) pork
50g (2oz) soft breadcrumbs
50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) milk
2-4 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 5 American tablespoons) chopped fresh herbs, such as marjoram, or a mixture of parsley, chives and thyme leaves
1 organic egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
225g (8oz) onion, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
900g (2lbs) ripe, peeled and chopped tomatoes or 2 x 400g (14ozs) tins chopped tomatoes
good pinch of crushed chilli flakes (optional)
salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar

To serve
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
150g (5ozs) Mozzarella and Parmesan, grated

450g (1lb) spaghetti

Rocket leaves (optional)

Garnish
parsley leaves

First make the meatballs, heat the olive oil in a heavy, stainless-steel saucepan over a gentle heat and add the chopped onions and garlic. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 8-10 minutes until soft and slightly golden. Allow to cool.

Soak all the bread crumbs in milk.

Put the freshly minced beef into a bowl and breadcrumbs in a bowl. add the cold sweated onion and garlic, add the herbs (and chilli flakes if using) and the beaten egg. Season the mixture to taste. Fry a tiny bit to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Divide the mixture into about 24 round meatballs. Cover and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a casserole or a stainless-steel saucepan. Add the sliced onion and crushed garlic, toss until coated, cover and sweat over a gentle heat until soft. Add the peeled and chopped tomatoes and chilli flakes, mix and season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar (tinned tomatoes take more sweetening). Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, uncover and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes or until thick and unctuous.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cook the meatballs for 8-10 minutes turning from time to time. When they are cooked, transfer to an ovenproof serving dish. Add to the hot tomato sauce, turn gently to cover. Pop into a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Sprinkle the grated cheese on top or place under a preheated grill to let the cheese melt. Serve immediately with cooked spaghetti, crusty bread and or just a green salad.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling water. Drain and turn into a hot serving dish. Spoon the meatballs and tomato sauce over the top, sprinkle with grated Mozzarella and Parmesan. Sprinkle with lots of flat parsley leaves.

Meatball Dogs

Split hot dogs rolls lengthwise down the centre. Insert 3 small meat balls smothered with tomato sauce into each. Top with a bit of rocket or flat parsley. Serve hot.

 

Meatball Sliders

Split 3 sliders in half, chargrill, drizzle with olive oil. Top with a meat ball and secure the lid with a bamboo cocktail stick. Eat as soon as possible and serve 3 per person as a starter.

 

Apple Fritters

Funny how one sometimes forgets a recipe; we hadn’t had these for ages, but I remembered them recently and they taste just as good as ever. As children we particularly loved fritters because they used to fry into funny shapes, which caused great hilarity. These can also be shallow-fried in a pan. You can add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the sugar to toss the apples in for extra flavour. So easy to make even in a tiny kitchen and the batter works for lots of other fruit even bananas.
Serves 6–8

110g (4oz) plain white flour
pinch of salt
1 organic egg
150ml (5fl oz) milk
good-quality vegetable oil, for frying
450g (1lb) cooking apples (about 4), Bramley’s Seedling or Grenadier
225g (4oz) caster sugar

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in the egg. Use a whisk to bring in the flour gradually from the edges, slowly adding in the milk at the same time. Leave the batter in a cool place for about 1 hour.
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C (350°F). Peel and core the apples. Cut into rings, no thicker than 1cm (1⁄4in). Dip the rings into the batter and lift out with a skewer, allowing the surplus batter to drain off, then drop into hot fat, a few at a time. Fry until golden brown, drain well on kitchen paper. Toss each fritter in caster sugar. Serve immediately on hot plates with softly whipped cream.

HOT TIPS:

Salacious salads-
Jason Carroll has quite a pedigree; he spent a stint in several of London’s most prestigious kitchens with Pierre Kaufmann, Anton Mosimann and Tom Aiken, then on to Asia.
Is it any wonder that his salads are so multi ethnic and morish.
You’ll find him at Wilton Farmers Market on Tuesdays and in Midleton on Saturday mornings.
He’ll have an irresistible array of salads and maybe chowder as well. Don’t miss the Kokoda, a Fijian ceviche, or you might want to try the potato ,chorizo ,red onion and mint or the freekah salad with apricot, date, spring onion, preserved lemon and feta or fresh pineapple, coconut, chilli and mint or…….. tempted?
www.gingerroom.com

Good Food Ireland Touring Map -

Good Food Ireland has just completed their up to the minute edition
Touring Map, in partnership with Hertz and Waterford Crystal.
This year, it is larger in size with more detail for touring visitors and indeed for ourselves here at home to navigate our way and find the very best artisan food producers, food shops, restaurants, cafes, cooking classes…..
Pick up your copy at any Hertz rental car location, Good Food Ireland
promotions and Tourism Ireland offices. www.goodfoodireland.ie

Date for your diary
Pizza Masterclass with Philip Dennhardt at Ballymaloe Cookery School – this half day course will take you through all the basics (choosing ingredients, making dough, getting the best results from your oven and so forth) before explaining how to produce both traditional and contemporary pizzas……
Friday 17th October – 2 -5pm. Booking essential. www.cookingisfun.ie

Categories: Darinas Blog

My homemade Cronut: Made to be Instagrammed

Guardian Food Blog - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:27

The official donut-croissant-hybrid recipe was released earlier this week. What happened when our writer had a crack at it?

The majestic Cronut. Hottest portmanteau on the block. Half croissant, half doughnut, all conquering. Chef Dominique Ansels creation is a pastry phenomenon. New Yorkers still queue for blocks around his trendy bakery to get their hands on one, a decadent revision of Soviet-era citizens lining up for bread.

When Ansels official recipe for Cronuts appeared online earlier this week, an excerpt from his new book, The Secret Recipes, it sparked a predictable frenzy. The dense text (difficulty level: Extreme) outlines a process more laborious than getting a Russian visa: a production line of flavoured sugars, cream ganaches, glazes, and a form of dough origami that goes on for three days. Could any snack possibly be worth the investment of time and effort?

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