We called it the “Ottolenghi effect”. Where once our spice cupboard was really just half a shelf housing dried basil and mild curry powder, suddenly that forgotten corner of the kitchen was playing host to harissa and sumac and saffron. Bart Spices reported an 82% increase in sales of za’atar. Supermarkets stocked szechuan pepper like it was no big thing. We learned to pronounce asafoetida.
And then we forgot all about them. Or so a recent report by the kitchen gadget company Kenwood would lead us to believe. According to the survey, there are £240m worth of unused herbs and spices languishing in this country’s kitchens. And 13% of us confess to owning jars of spices more than four years out of date. (Last time I was at my parents’ house, I found a jar of dried basil older than Justin Bieber.) My mother-in-law’s spice drawer looks like the Schwartz history museum.Continue reading...
Have we Irish got a taste for spices or what!! Thirty years ago when I first started the Ballymaloe Cookery School garlic was still considered by many to be daring and exotic. It was ten years before most of us dared to experiment with chilli, not to speak of spices other than a few cloves in an apple tart or ginger with rhubarb in jam or gingerbread. Somehow in the mid 80’s I heard about Madhur Jaffrey and found her BBC Far Eastern Cookery book. I was hooked and longed to learn more about spices so I picked up the courage to telephone her in New York and invite her to teach at the Ballymaloe Cookery School – she agreed. I was beyond thrilled, and so my spice odyssey began. Shopping for that first course was challenging. I hadn’t even heard of some of the ingredients- puffed rice, poha, urad dhal, chana dhal….
Finding the finest basmati rice was difficult in itself but what was as asafetida, amchur powder…… I had no idea what fenugreek or black cardamom even looked like. With the help of Mr Bell in Cork’s English Market in Cork city, we gathered all the ingredients – Madhur arrived and the magic began.
Even that first cooking course was completely oversubscribed. Madhur introduced us to a myriad of new and exciting flavours and techniques, and life has never been quite the same since.
Fast forward 17 years, in 1997, a young Anglo Indian chap called Arun Kapil enrolled on the 12 week Certificate Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. He’d been an ace disc jockey in the UK for a number of years but wanted a break for a short spell from the London scene. Shanagarry in East Cork sounded just the ticket….
Spices were part of Arun’s DNA. After a time in Ballymaloe House kitchen, he started to experiment with spice blends. Customers at his Farmers Market stall were thrilled to find such a selection of beautiful fresh spices imported directly from Arun’s relatives in the Cardamom hills in Kerala. Demand grew, the top chefs both in Ireland and the UK loved the quality, mail order was added to the equation, Arun fell in love and married Olive, a lovely Irish girl whom he met at Ballymaloe. Lots of TV appearances and now at last the book- Fresh Spice has been published by Pavilion, a collection of vibrant recipes for bringing flavour, depth and colour to home cooking.
Arun has been around spices all his life, and he could talk for Ireland and India about all the fascinating aspects of spice production. He urges us all to look on spices in a whole new way, think fresh and whole rather than ground. Buy in small quantities from a shop that has a quick turnover. Invest in a pestle and mortar or and /or an electric spice grinder or coffee grinder to grind to order for each recipe, think of the difference between fresh and dried herbs…. Sage advice that can revolutionise our food, here’s a few of the simpler recipes from Fresh Spice to whet your appetite for the vibrant flavours of spice.
Madhur Jaffrey, who by the way spoke highly of the quality of Arun’s spices when she was over for the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine in 2013, has also published a new book Vegetarian Curry Easy.
Aloo Tikki – Potato Fritters
My dad often used to make us fried potato cakes when he got into the kitchen when Mum was out. They’re a staple of any street-food vendor in northern India and a must-have whenever you’re walking around the streets of Old Delhi in winter. This is my version – simple, effective and totally delicious. If you have a splash guard, then I’d recommend using it here, because the tomato sauce really spits. A bit messy, I grant you, but essential for the finished dish, so don’t be tempted to turn down the heat – but do be careful not to burn it.
makes 8 patties
500g (1lb 2 oz) floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled
3–4 tbsp sunflower oil
150g (5½oz) onion, diced
30g (1oz) fresh ginger, finely grated
2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped (use less if you don’t want it too hot)
3 tsp Garam Masala blend (see page 267)
1 tsp powdered turmeric
2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp sea salt
1 handful mint leaves, torn or chopped
1 small handful coriander leaves, chopped
For the sizzled tomatoes:
3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
400g (14oz) tin whole plum tomatoes, drained
1 pinch finely ground black pepper
Beets, fennel, radish & shoots, black pepper & lemon dressing
A superb, fresh and strikingly beautiful salad to serve as a starter, main or simply for when you want to treat yourself or friends to a light snack bursting with radiant, vibrant flavours. Just be careful if you’re going to use a mandolin and follow the ‘user guide’ to avoid nipping your fingertips!
2 medium Heritage golden & red beets, peeled
3 medium carrots, peeled
7 or 8 radishes
1 medium fennel bulb trimmed
75 ml, 2 floz good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small dried red Bird’s Eye chilli, crumbled
Sea salt, to taste
1 fresh pomegranate, cut in half
2 tsp star anise, freshly ground, fine
½ tsp black pepper, coarsely ground
small handful pea shoots, stalk chopped off
a generous amount flat leaf parsley thinly sliced 1mm (not chopped)
50g-100g, up to 3oz Goats cheese, choose a nice mature crumbly one, you can use less or more as you prefer
Arun’s (Fat Free) Mincemeat
This recipe uses no fat, butter or suet. It just relies on the freshest of flavours. You’ll really notice the difference….it’s perfect for freezing or will keep in a jar in your fridge for at least 4 months. Don’t just reserve it for Christmas mince pies, spread it thick on toasted brioche, use as a topping for winter warming porridge…enjoy!
200g eating apples, cored, peeled, diced
100g Muscavado sugar
1 tblsp water
600ml (1 pint) sweet, local cider
1kg (2lbs) mixed dried fruit made up of:
90g, Mixed peel
120g, Figs dried, roughly chopped
130g, Apricots, roughly chopped
130g, Prunes, stoned, roughly chopped
400g (1lb) cooking apples, peeled and grated
1 tsp, Green Saffron’s Mixed Spice
1 vanilla pod, split in half, beans scraped out into the mix
½ tsp, freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp, freshly ground cubeb pepper
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
50g (2oz) almonds, toasted, roughly chopped (optional)
2 good tblsp, 50g Calvados
How to put it together:
1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan add the Muscavado and water, stir to combine and heat until the sugar ‘melts’ and starts to bubble.
2. Carefully slide the diced apple into the hot, molten sugar being careful not to splash yourself!
3. Stir with a metal spoon until the apple pieces are evenly coated, then allow to cook until they’ve softened slightly. This will only take a couple of minutes.
4. Again, being very careful not to cause too much splashing, pour the cider into the pan, stirring all the time you’re pouring. It’ll sizzle and spit….mind the steam….
5. Next, slide in the dried fruit, grated apple, Mixed Spice blend, vanilla pod and its beans and the black pepper.
6. Simmer, lid half-on until the fruits have turned slightly pulpy and most of the liquid has evaporated. This should take about 15minutes.
7. Take off the heat, remove the vanilla pod, allow to cool slightly, then stir in the lemon zest, orange zest, almonds and Calvados.
Thyme & Pepper Lozenges
Simple biscuits, perfect crunch to fruity sorbet
40g plain flour
45g icing sugar
Rub or two of zest from an orange, not too much
2 egg whites, lightly whipped with a fork
40g butter, melted and allowed to cool slightly
1 tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp picked thyme leaves
It’s a case of art imitating life as Mary McEvoy stars as a cookery school teacher in her one-woman show, Fruitcake, in Ballymaloe Grainstore on Sunday 23 November at 3pm. Written and directed by Alice Barry, funny and poignant, this play will make you laugh and cry and remind you why life is ultimately exciting for all its ups and downs. Tickets for Fruitcake are €16 and may be booked online at www.ballymaloegrainstore.com or by phone on 021-465-1555.
Christmas Cookery Demonstration
Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell will give a Christmas Cookery Demonstration in partnership with Russell Rovers GAA Club on Thursday November 27th in the Garryvoe Hotel at 7.30pm. This will include Christmas fare from some of the locality’s top artisan food producers. Visitors will pick up valuable Christmas food and party tips as we guide them through festive treats and meals prepared from local ingredients For more information visit russellroversgaa.com. Tickets €25 available at www.christmascookery.eventbrite.ie
Slow Food Garden Convivium End of Year Dinner at, Clodagh’s Kitchen, Blackrock
Slow Food have teamed up with well-known chef, TV personality and author, Clodagh McKenna, who will host a seasonal Slow Food dinner at her restaurant, Clodagh’s Kitchen in Blackrock. The evening will commence at 7pm with a Cocktail and Canapé Reception, followed by a cookery demonstration and dinner. Advance booking is essential for this event. Slow Food Members – €50 per person, Non-Members – €60 per person – Please email Hermione Winters – firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place.
The ginger nut, despite belonging to a well-connected European family of spiced biscuits that also includes more festive gingerbreads and peppernötts, is nevertheless a sturdy workhorse of a baked good – an everyday dunker, rather than a weekend treat.
It is the kind of no-frills biscuit you might find in an office tin, which is not to denigrate it: indeed, a few years ago, it was named the top dunker in a vaguely scientific-sounding study. The name, which may be the most exotic thing about this particular recipe, is a shortening of the original gingerbread nut, and refers to the fact that, originally, these biscuits tended to be smaller, and rounder than their modern equivalents.Continue reading...
Marcus Wareing is telling me the order in which he attacked his Sunday roast at the weekend. “I think people go first to what they love the most,” says the chef and judge of MasterChef: the Professionals. “I just go straight for the potatoes, to be honest with you, because I’m the son of a fruit and potato merchant.” So that’s potatoes and sage-and-onion stuffing, followed by crackling, pork and finally the carrots and cauliflower.
When tackling meals, eaters tend to fall into two camps: a bit of everything on each forkful (me), or tackling each component separately (Wareing). Wareing says he sometimes tries to pace his devouring of each element on the plate equally, but adds: “I can’t do it. I just think that’s too much time wasted while the food is hot.”Continue reading...
Stockpile the Twirls and prep the crates of Snickers for doomsday: we are running out of chocolate. Experts are painting a bleak picture of a global chocolate shortage by 2020. Sure, some might say this is due to serious economic and geopolitical reasons – climate change, rising demand in Brazil and China, the spectre of Ebola spreading to west African cocoa-growing nations such as Ivory Coast and Ghana.
We know the real reason. It’s the fault of posh choc. In the last 10 to 15 years, we have gone from buying a foil-wrapped bar from the newsagents to an unprecedented age of cocoa decadence – demanding a minimum of 70% cocoa solids, sprinkling dark choc into stews like over-enthusiastic waiters with a pepper grinder, and even feasting at chocolate restaurants, such as Hotel Chocolat’s outposts in London and Leeds. We are now a nation of chocolate nerds, waxing on about the latest bean-to-bar start-up.Continue reading...
The drinking establishment of your teenage years has a special place in your heart. Where did you drink your first pint of snakebite?
The sudden nature of its passing unspooled us. Last Thursday, a message from the landlords was posted unexpectedly on the pub’s website: “The time has come,” it said, “for us to end the three-decade-long experiment in original thinking, good beer, great music and sarcastic service that was the Tudor House hotel.”
It is hard, without sounding mawkish, to articulate the sadness attached to the closure of this small watering hole in Wigan town centre. After all, the Tudor was just a pub; a red-brick building between the bus station and the technical college. It smelled of flat beer and another night’s revelry, it offered no gastropub menu, and for many years it had terrible plumbing in the toilets.Continue reading...
Jamie Oliver has revealed that on occasion he likes to punish his children through the medium of food, confessing that he once rubbed a scotch bonnet chilli on some apple slices before giving them to his daughter, in reprisal for some unspecified insubordination. “It worked a treat,” he said, implying that for him, revenge is a dish best served hot.
The Daily Mail tried to use science to make this punishment sound more like a form of torture (“Scotch bonnets have a rating of 100,000-350,000 on the Scoville scale”), but really, it’s more of an unpleasant prank. His wife told him never to do it again, so he’s probably learned a lesson, at least.Continue reading...
Once a term on the 12 Week Certificate course, all the students pile into a bus. There’s always great excitement as we head off on our Ballymaloe Cookery School tour – Everyone reverts back to giggly school kids but although it’s a super fun day it’s all about garnering ideas that inspire the students. We visit a farmers market, artisan producers, fish smoker, farmhouse cheese maker, maybe a café and restaurant, food truck…..
This term, we started at Mahon Point Farmers Market – a sizzling ferment of brilliant ideas and a myriad of stalls selling predominately local food. Where to start?! The Old Millbank Smokehouse has a wonderful range of potato and fish cakes. Gorgeous pies – chicken and chorizo, steak and Guinness, roast vegetable and goat cheese… Scotch eggs in many flavours from the West Cork Pie Company, The Good Little Cook make Arancini to make even Italians weep, Middle Eastern falafel and hummus. Marshmallows to die for from Cloud Confectionary, Marcus Hodder makes homemade gelato and serves it with crispy waffles made fresh on the stall, irresistible cake pops from Treat Petite. Carl Fahy’s Galway Bay Bagels and pretzels made from scratch. Mick’s homemade nut roasts from Nutcase Food Company. Spanish temptations, La Cocina from Silvia and Olga – super authentic Spanish style baking including their Portuguese custard tarts. Gluten free treats from Gan Gluten for the fast growing wheat intolerant and coeliac market. Fumagalli’s fresh pasta, lasagne and pasta sauces, numerous cake, preserves and cookie stalls, Arbutus Artisan bread and I haven’t even mentioned the farmers, fishermen, local veg or herb growers, Lolo’s steak sandwiches, Arun’s Green Saffron spices, Volcano pizzas, Rocketman salads on and on ……..
From there we headed for West Cork to visit the Ferguson family farm at Gubbeen outside Schull. The multi ethnic student group loved driving through the beautiful Irish countryside and little towns with gaily painted pubs and shop fronts.
Three generations of the Ferguson family live on the 150 acre dairy farm and add value to the produce in a variety of ways. The milk from Tom’s herd of Friesians and Jersey cows goes to the dairy to make the now famous Gubbeen cheeses, the whey from the cheese-making gets fed to the pigs for Fingal’s Gubbeen bacon and charcuterie. Clovisse grows the organic herbs to flavour the sausages and salad leaves and edible flowers for local restaurants. Giana also has a collection of fancy fowl, geese, ducks and chickens and Fingal in his ‘spare time’ makes hand-made knives when their three little boys have snuggled down for the night.
The produce is sold at five farmers markets and specialist shops around the country. The students were gob smacked by the entrepreneurial spirit of the family.
The Gubbeen cookbook, ‘Gubbeen – the Story of a Working Farm and its Foods’ published by Kyle Cathie Books is now available in all good bookshops.
We had a picnic and food from the farm in the conservatory and gardens and then off to Ummera Smokehouse near Timoleague.
There Anthony Creswell told us about the trials and tribulations and triumphs of running an artisan food business. We tasted his award winning smoked salmon, duck, chicken and dry cured nitrate free rashers – a wonderful story which started in 1980’s.
Our last stop was at just a few minutes away close to the beautiful Timoleague Abbey in the Village of Timoleague where Gavin Moore and Michelle O’Mahony opened a pub/café (Monks Lane Wine Bar & Café) last May. The revamp took just 5 weeks of super hard work with lots of help from family and friends. Their simple menu reflects the fresh local produce of the West Cork area where let’s face it they are spoiled for choice. My students from 7 different countries were thrilled and inspired by their brief interlude in West Cork and are already talking about planning a longer trip to discover even more West Cork Magic.
Mary Jo’s Waffles
Mary Jo McMillan worked with us at the Cookery School on several occasions – she was a passionate and perceptive cook. This is her recipe for waffles which I enjoy much more than mine.
175g (6ozs/1 1/2 cups) white flour
15g (1/2oz) sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
50g (2ozs/1/2 stick) butter, melted
350g (12ozs1 1/2 cups) milk, slightly warmed
2 eggs, free-range and organic if possible, separated
75g (3ozs/scant 1/2 cup) of batter for each waffle.
Preheat waffle iron. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a deep bowl. Make a well in the centre. Mix the warm milk, melted butter and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour the milk and egg yolk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir together to form a batter. Whip the eggs whites stifly and gently fold into the batter. Heat the waffle iron. Pour a 75g (3oz/scant 1/2 cup) ladle of batter onto the iron. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden on the outside.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve hot in a variety of ways both sweet and savoury.
Waffles with Fresh Fruit and Berries
Ripe berries of all kinds, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, sliced peaches, nectarines, apricots and bananas are all delicious with waffles. Pile the fruit on top of hot waffles, or serve it on the side of the plate. A blob of softly whipped cream doesn’t go amiss!
Waffles with Bananas, Toffee Sauce and Chopped Walnuts
2-3 sliced bananas
Toffee Sauce (see recipe)
110g (4oz) coarsely chopped walnuts
110g (4oz/1 stick) butter
175g (6oz/3/4 cup) dark soft brown Barbados sugar
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) granulated sugar
275g (10oz) golden syrup
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla extract. Put back on the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.
Put some banana slices on top of the waffles, pour Toffee Sauce over and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped walnuts.
Toffee Sauce is also delicious with ice-cream. It will keep for several weeks stored in a screw-top jar in the fridge.
Good things to serve with waffles:
Crispy bacon and honey or maple syrup
Crispy bacon and slices of Gruyére or Emmental cheese
Crispy bacon with sliced banana
White peaches with raspberries
Real homemade marshmallows are a forgotten flavour but are easy and great fun to make. Toast them over an open fire or drop one into hot chocolate and watch it slowly melt.
Makes about 64
2 teaspoons icing sugar, sieved
2 teaspoons cornflour, sieved
25g (1oz) powdered gelatine
2 organic egg whites
500g (18oz/2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
1 x 20cm (8 inch) square tin
Line the tin with a bakewell paper, brush lighting with sunflower oil and coat with icing sugar and cornflour. Sprinkle the gelatine to cover 125ml (4fl 1/2 oz/1/2 cup) water in a small bowl. Allow to sponge for 3–4 minutes. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, preferably in the bowl of a mixer – this makes adding the sugar syrup to the egg whites much easier.
Put the sugar into a saucepan with 250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) water. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and continue to boil fiercely until it reaches 122ºC/252ºF (firm-ball stage) on a sugar thermometer. Turn off the heat.
Pour the dissolved gelatine into the syrup and stir. Watch out – the syrup will bubble up a little.
Switch the food mixer on the lowest setting so the egg whites carry on whisking, then pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a gentle trickle, whisking all the time. The mixture will change texture and become creamy. Continue to whisk until the mixture becomes really thick but is still pourable. Pour into the prepared tin and leave to set in a cool place – but not the fridge – for an hour or two.
Dust a clean chopping board with the rest of the cornflour and icing sugar mixture and coat a sharp knife with vegetable oil. Gently ease the marshmallow out of the tin. Make sure it is dusted all over with icing sugar, then cut into squares. Oil and dust the knife again as often as necessary. Thread the marshmallows onto skewers or spear them with forks. They are delicious toasted over an open fire.
In response to readers’ requests here are recipes that were not included in my column on Zionsville though they were mentioned in the text.
Marianne’s Beef Tenderloin
A perfect recipe for a stress free dinner party.
1 whole fillet of well hung beef, 5 lbs approximately
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
450-500g (16-18 oz) streaky bacon
Preheat oven to 230C/ 450F/regalo 8
Place the tenderloin in a roasting pan, tuck in the ends. Sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Slather the tenderloin generously all over with Grey Poupon Dijon mustard.
Wrap the tenderloin with slices of streaky bacon to cover it completely.
Roast, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 25 minutes for rare meat.
Test with a meat thermometer, it should register 60C/140F.
If you would like it a little better done, return it to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove, cover and allow to rest for at least 15 mins before carving.
Serve either hot or at room temperature with chosen sauces and accompaniments.
Regina Mehallick’s Guinness Cake with Sweetened Cream
This is a signature cake at R Bistro in Indianapolis. A delicious, moist cake that keeps really well.
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
1 ½ inch cinnamon stick
3 whole black peppercorns
1 whole clove
225ml (8fl oz) stout, such as Guinness
350g (12oz) unsulfured molasses or treacle
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs
110g (4oz) granulated sugar
110g (4oz) packed dark brown sugar
165ml (5 ½ fl oz) vegetable oil
220g (8oz) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving
A square tin, 23cm x 7 ½cm, lined with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.
Toast the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and clove over a moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder and allow to cool. Finely grind the spices.
In a large saucepan, bring the stout and the molasses or treacle to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda; it will bubble vigorously. Allow to cool.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Whisk in the oil and then the stout mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the ground ginger, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and fresh ground spices. Add the molasses mixture in 2 batches. Stir in the fresh ginger. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until the top is springy when lightly pressed. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then unmould the cake.
To serve – cut the cake and top with sweetened whipped cream to resemble a Guinness.
Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Jam
Delicious with cheese but also great in a layer cake or on scones.
If lemon verbena is not available, include the zest of the lemons instead.
Makes 5 x 375g (13oz) jars
1kg (21⁄2lb) firm Irish blueberries
juice of 2 lemons
a large handful (about 50) lemon verbena leaves, roughly chopped
700g (11⁄2lb) granulated sugar, warmed
Pick over the blueberries and discard any that are bruised. Put the blueberries in a wide, low-sided saucepan or preserving pan. Add the lemon juice, lemon verbena and 300ml (1⁄2 pint) of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the warmed sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil until a setting point is reached. Fill the jam into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place.
The Nordic Food Revolution
Chef and cookbook writer Trine Hahnemann will do a (not to be missed) Slow Food Event at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on the exciting Nordic Food Movement, Thursday 20th November at 7pm. For details and to book telephone 021 4646785.
The Craft & Design Festival at Ballymaloe returns for its fifth year of offering work by more than 100 of Ireland’s best craft professionals in Ballymaloe’s Grainstore and The Big Shed, Shanagarry. The Living Craft area is a new addition to the Festival. It will showcase skills from a cross section of craft makers and food producers. Interactive stands and tastings will delight visitors as they watch and enjoy these masters of food, drink and craft doing what they do best – creating something of beauty by hand. The Festival takes place on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 November from 10am – 6pm. Both admission and parking are free.
Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé
With the grape harvest coming to a close across the wine regions of France, celebrate ‘La Paulée’ – the years work in the vineyard , with the new seasons wines – Beaujolais Nouveau, and Muscadet Primeur, available from this Thursday 20th November in restaurants, cafés and wine shops.
Is London particular the ultimate winter soup, or do you have something even more warming up your woolly sleeve? And what else can you do with cheap and nutritious split peas?
This is comfort food of the old school the very old school, in fact. Peas have been grown in this country since Anglo-Saxon times, and pease pottage was a staple of the medieval table. Both rich and poor were partial to a mess of pottage, whether made with white wine and spices for the rich, or, according to food historian Colin Spencer, peasant-style with salt and garlic or raw onion, so thick it could be eaten with the fingers. Instructions for the appetising-sounding old peas with bacon, included in a 1790 collection of Receipts in Ancient Cookery, sounds very similar to what we know today as London particular, a thick pea and ham soup named after the thick, greenish fogs that choked the capital until the 1950s. Not a terribly auspicious omen, perhaps, but trust me, this is one dish that wont choke you or your wallet.Continue reading...
Etiquette varies from person to person, so how many samples is it socially acceptable to take? And should anyone ever be arrested for over-sampling?
They say theres no such thing as a free lunch. But head to a farmers market or indeed, many department stores and supermarkets and the sheer volume of free food samples suggests otherwise. At my local market, there are apples cut into little bits, bowls of sausages, stands offering different kinds of cheese, and endless varieties of baked goods: bread, cake, brownies and pies. I used to work in an office above Whole Foods on High Street Kensington. Come lunchtime, traders would offer up all manner of snacks to try: miniature helpings of muesli, strange crackers made of exotic-sounding seeds, blobs of burrata even portions of lasagne.
In theory, free samples are win-win. From the producers point of view, its a way to make customers aware of new or unusual products. From the customers point of view well, its free food. Aside from the occasional hygiene-related mishap (a friend once picked up an edamame pod, only to find, on putting it in her mouth, that shed accidentally picked up someone elses chewed-up, discarded pod), there isnt much to complain about.Continue reading...
Michael Kelly and his merry team of GIYers are definitely ‘ change makers’.
Similar to Slow Food, this movement was born out of frustration and indignation. This time, it wasn’t the appearance of the golden arches in Piazza del Spagna in Rome that sparked the outrage, it was a bulb of garlic ‘all the way from China’ that set Michael Kelly thinking, “what the hell’s going on”? So he started a quiet revolution which continues to gather momentum – GIY, an acronym for Grow it Yourself has fed into a deep hunger in a growing number of people (pardon the pun) who want to wrest back some control over the food they eat from the small numbers of multinationals who control all food choices.
Like the financial world, the food chain is virtually out of control, a convoluted global web, almost impossible to unravel or keep track of.
At the same time, we are grappling with a worldwide obesity epidemic. Last year for the first time, more people died of obesity related diseases than hunger.
The environmental food system is failing us and creating food desserts in the midst of plenty. Back in 1990’s, Cherry Ripe, an Australian cookery writer, wrote a piece entitled “Starving To Death In The Supermarket”, which enraged the industry, but she reasoned that if one was seeking out fresh, naturally produced, local food in season, you were unlikely to find it in the conventional retail system.
Almost 15 years later, despite a lot of ‘green washing’ and overuse of the words ‘local’, ‘artisan’ and ‘homemade’, many would agree.
The GIY movement simply urges people to grow even a little of their own food. It could be just a few radishes, salad leaves or beets. What started with a handful of people desperately seeking knowledge and support has turned into a 50,000 plus army of zealots who are growing at home, at work, at school and in the community. The website http://www.giy.ie is seriously good. The GIY conferences at the Waterford Harvest Festival, described by Mark Diacano as the ‘Glastonbury for growers’, is a vibrant get together which reflects the enthusiasm at grass roots level with the inspirational speakers like Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Alys Fowler from The Guardian newspaper. Michael Kelly continues to work tirelessly for the cause, and has been awarded the Inspiration of the Year award by the Bridgestone Guide and the Guinness
Work has begun on GIY HQ in Carriganore in Waterford which will be a home-grown food education centre. Meanwhile, in the midst of it all, Michael has written Grow, Cook, Eat, a GIY guide to growing and cooking your own food, crammed with detailed advice and tips on growing of your own vegetables with seasonal recipes from some of GIY’s favourite chefs, cooks and growers.
Here’s a taste. You might want to snap up a few copies for Christmas presents.
Chutney combines well with rich dishes such as braised meat, grilled fatty fish and, of course, cheese.
MAKES 2 JARS
700g pumpkin, skin and seeds removed, diced into equal cubes
250g apple, grated
1tbsp fresh ginger, grated
¼ chilli pepper, finely chopped
60g brown sugar
20g jam sugar
1tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cloves, crushed
½ tsp black peppercorns, crushed
¼ cinnamon stick
2 star anise
juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt to taste
Put the pumpkin, apple, vinegar and the chilli into a large pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to the boil.
Turn down the heat and after 45 minutes add the spices and the sugar.
Let the chutney simmer until the pumpkin starts to shine and fall apart.
Add the ginger, lemon juice and zest. Simmer for a further 25 minutes, adding water if it becomes too dry.
Season to taste. Spoon into clean preserve jars and seal. Turn the jars upside down in order to create a vacuum.
Turn right side up after 10 minutes and store in a dark and cool place.
The chutney needs to mature for about 2 weeks before it is good to eat, but it can hold for up to a year. After opening, keep it in the fridge.
From Cliffhouse Hotel – The Cookbook, by Martijn Kajuiter. Published by Houghton – Mifflin Harcourt Trade 2010.
This one is for those ‘gifted’ marrows offered up as a bag of courgettes. It is particularly good slathered over turkey on Boxing Day or with strong English Cheddar.
1kg marrow, courgette or pumpkin
a couple of handfuls of salt
500g apples (or green tomatoes) cored, peeled and chopped
500g onions, roughly chopped
250g raisins, sultanas, currants or dried elderberries
500g brown sugar
600ml cider vinegar
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
pinch of cayenne pepper
FOR THE SPICE BAG
3 teaspoons cloves (around 9 cloves)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
sterilised jars with lids – how many depends on the size of your jars.
Peel and dice the marrow, courgette or pumpkin, discarding the woody part and any large seeds. Place in a bowl and scatter over a couple of handfuls of salt, just enough so that all surfaces are lightly dusted. Set aside for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) to draw out all the moisture. Rinse and pat dry. This dry-salting process keeps the marrow in good shape and stops it collapsing, otherwise it just turns to mush.
Make up your spice bag by putting the spices in a piece of muslin and tying them tightly with string. Place all the remaining chutney ingredients in a heavy-based pan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick but not stiff, roughly 40 minutes or so. By the end you should be able to draw a spoon across the bottom of the pan so that it clears, but rapidly refills with syrupy juices.
Ladle the hot chutney into warm sterilised jars, cover with wax discs and put on the lids. Store somewhere cool and dark for at least 2 weeks before using. This chutney will keep well for up to 6 months.
From Abundance by Alys Fowler.
Published by Kyle Books, 2013.
Raw Kale Salad
The massaging action of the lemon juice and salt into the kale in this recipe softens it, almost “cooking” the leaves making them much more palatable while still retaining all of the nutrients contained in the raw green leaves. Adding the pine nuts and cranberries provides colour and texture, but you could add any extra ingredients you like to the kale, depending on your taste. This salad keeps for up to three days in the fridge and is a great way to make sure you are eating enough greens throughout the winter.
juice of 1 lemon
25g dried cranberries (chopped finely)
25g pine nuts, roasted
4-5 spring onions, chopped finely
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped finely
salt and pepper
Remove the stalks from the kale and roll each leaf before chopping into fine strips.
Place into a large bowl, add the lemon juice and 2-3 pinches of sea salt. Massage the juice and salt into the kale using your fingers until it starts to soften slightly, making sure that all the leaves are coated and the oil and salt are well worked in. Sprinkle with olive oil and leave to sit for 10 minutes to soften further. Before serving, add the cranberries, pine nuts, celery and spring onions and stir well. Sprinkle more olive oil if needed.
From Dorcas Barry www.dorcasbarry.com
Celeriac and Lemon Thyme Crème Brûlée
There ought to be a custodial sentence for messing with the traditional crème brûlée, but mess with it I have. Celeriac and lemon thyme sounds an unlikely combination for a brûlée, but it is, I promise, really very fine. If you haven’t any lemon thyme, lemon Verbena works perfectly well, or you can substitute a couple of sprigs of regular thyme with some finely grated lemon zest. When I made the brûlée opposite, I had an accident that turned into a happy one: the blowtorch used to finish the brûlées ran out of gas on the last one and turned out, as in the picture, partly topped in hot sugar, with islands of solid caramel. It suited the celeriac perfectly.
8 free-range egg yolks
140g caster sugar
500ml double cream
1½ vanilla pods
8 or so sprigs of lemon thyme
120g soft light brown sugar
Peel and chop the celeriac into pieces about the size of a pound coin. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the celeriac. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes until the celeriac begins to soften. Add the milk and simmer until the celeriac is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Purée the mixture in a blender until smooth.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas 2.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Pour the cream into a pan. Split the vanilla pods lengthways, tease out the seeds and add them and the pods to the cream, along with the lemon thyme. Bring just to the boil, then strain the hot cream through a sieve onto the egg and sugar mix, discarding the vanilla pods and thyme. Whisk briefly, then add the celeriac purée and whisk to combine.
Stand 6 ramekins in a roasting tin and fill them with the custard. Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come two-thirds of the way up the side of the ramekins. Cover the tin loosely with foil. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until the custard is just set – it should have a little wobble to it.
Lift the ramekins out of the water and leave the custards to cool, then refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.
Sprinkle each brûlée with 4 tsp sugar and caramelise with a kitchen blowtorch. If you don’t have a blowtorch, use a very hot grill.
From A Year at Otter Farm by Mark
Diacono, Bloomsbury 2014.
1 day Christmas Cooking with Rachel Allen
Friday 12th December 2014 at Ballymaloe Cookery School
This course may only last a single day but it is life changing: turning a potentially fraught and tedious annual task into a stress-free and pleasurable experience. Rachel and Pam will amaze you with the things that can be done in one day. You’ll learn lots of seasonal recipes, and even more importantly how to plan ahead so that you can eat, drink and be merry for the whole holiday without worrying about how you are also going to feed everyone. For this reason many of the dishes are designed so that they can be prepared ahead of time. The course covers both traditional and more innovative recipes. www.cookingisfun.ie
Book of the Week
“Something in the Tin”, another cute little cook book to add to your list, choc full of tempting cakes, bikkies and squares, well tested favourites like
cashew caramel squares, ginger jumblies, Spanish almond cake, cinnamon swirls, Love Kate Raggett’s illustrations – published by www.lavistownhouse.ie
Don’t miss the Wild & Slow Festival at Brooklodge in Macreddin Village, Co. Wicklow. This 2 day event designed to showcase and celebrate the very best wild and foraged foods that Ireland has to offer. There’s also a Winter-fest style farmers market selling lots of pickles, chutneys, relishes, wild mushroom , game and foraged foods.
Check out the website www.wildandslow.com visit for details on workshops, events and other excitement.
All proceeds go to Slow Ireland Ireland.