Feeds:
Posts
Comments

At this stage, we all know that I have a serious affinity for breakfast foods! I love brunch probably more than most meals. Savory or sweet, this is my kind of meal.

For the last few years, we have made a little tradition in our house of going to New York for Thanksgiving. Its such a fantastic way of getting into the festive spirit and do some Christmas shopping. I love watching the parade and wandering around, looking at Christmas windows.

 

My favorite stop for brunch on Thanksgiving day is Sarabeth’s on Central Park South. The Thanksgiving Parade practically goes past the door so it is the perfect spot! My favorite dish from their menu is the lemon ricotta pancakes with a whipped butter, maple syrup and fresh blackberries. Its funny because to me, anything with lemon and ricotta in it screams summertime freshness while Thanksgiving should be pumpkin central!

A18F7405-1F64-4F34-BB28-05A17C7EBAE1.JPG

Now that the weather is warming up and it feels like summer is on the way, I though Id try and recreate these at home. I replaced the ricotta with sour cream (although you could use Greek yoghurt) and instead of fresh blackberries I made a blackberry coulis and served the lot topped with thick Greek yoghurt. I actually think I may have enjoyed them more than Sarabeths and I didn’t have to trek to NYC to get them! Hope you enjoy them too. Try them out this weekend, they are worth the effort!

Fluffy Lemon Pancakes:

IMG_0165.JPGServes 4

  • 180g /1.5 cups plain (all-purpose) flour   
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda (baking)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt   
  •  240ml/ 1 cup milk or buttermilk
  •   2 large eggs, yolks and whites separated   
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest or more to taste   
  •  120g/ 1/2 cup sour cream/greek yoghurt

 

Blackberry Coulis:

  • 300g Blackberries
  • 2-3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Splash of water
  1. In a small saucepan, place blackberries, sugar and water and allow to simmer down. After about 5 mins, use a potato masher to mash the berries. Taste and adjust sweetness, if the berries are in season, they should be sweet enough. If you don’t like seeds, strain through a sieve.
  2. Meanwhile, in one bowl, mix together egg yolk, lemon zest, sour cream, sugar and sprinkle of salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and set aside.
  4. Heat a frying pan and add a blog of butter, allowing it to foam.
  5. When ready to serve, fold the dry ingredients into the sour cream mixture and then fold in the whisked egg whites.
  6. Spoon blobs of the mixture onto the pan and cook over a low heat until browned on the bottom and bubbles pop up on top. Flip over until browned on the other side.
  7. Serve topped with yoghurt and drizzled with blackberry syrup

 

What type of bread do you eat? Are you a sliced pan kind of person or do you rush to your local bakery a couple of times a week to pick up a crusty baguette or tasty sourdough boule?

I have fallen in love with baking bread. It all started back at the Firehouse Bread School last summer and only increased at Ballymaloe. I baked at least a loaf a day while I was there and continued that when I arrived in Boston, testing out different brands of flour, different additions and mixes. This continued until I realized we couldn’t physically keep eating that much bread! I have had to limit it to a loaf or two a week.

 

Whatever type of loaf you are into – it is surprisingly easy to make your own (Except maybe sliced pan, lets be honest, I think that’s a good thing!)

This one is a Darina Allen Masterpiece. Darina was asked to join students at her alma mater at a discussion on why the art of bread baking seems to elude so many. She developed this recipe to demonstrate how easy it can really be. If you are new to bread baking, this  is a great one to start you off – it takes about 5 minutes to mix, doesn’t require kneading and is soft and fluffy.

Ballymaloe Simple White Yeast Bread

Darina Allen, Ballymaloe Cookery School.

  • 450g (1lb) strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
  • 15g (1/2oz) fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast/fast action
  • 300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) water at blood heat (Tepid water)

1 x 2lb loaf tin

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. In a jug, measure the water accurately (I like to weigh it), add the honey and then sprinkle in the yeast (If using fast action yeast, this can be added directly to the flour). Allow to sit for a few minutes until the yeast begins to froth.
  3. Brush your loaf tin with a little oil to prevent the loaf from sticking.
  4. Now add the wet ingredients to the dry and  mix well. I use my hand for this. You will have quite a wet sloppy mixture, not really dough like.
  5. Preheat your oven to 230C/450F
  6. Pour the bread mixture into the tin and allow to rise, covered with a tea towel or oiled cling film. This can take anything from 15 mins in a warm kitchen to 30 in a cold one. It is ready to bake with the bread reaches the top of the loaf tin. At this point you can sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds or something similar on top.
  7. Put the bread in the oven for 20 mins. After 20 mins, turn down the temperature to 200C/400F and bake for a further 30-40 mins, until it looks browned and crunchy.
  8. Remove from the tin and return to the oven for 5-10 mins to ensure the bread has a nice crust. Cool on a wire rack. I am having it with some homemade butternut squash soup for lunch!

 

I have a new found love in my life. Its rich and creamy and cheesy – polenta! Before Ballymaloe, I had eaten grilled polenta a number of times and always found it delicious but had never attempted to cook polenta in any form and had actually never eaten soft polenta. What a revelation it was to eat it laden with butter and grated parmesan topped with a rich Italian beef stew! Yum!

So when I arrived here, it was one of the first things I put on my grocery list. There is a fabulous little Italian deli a few minutes walk away that sells a myriad Italian products as well as freshly made pasta and sauces to take home for dinner. I popped in one day and picked up a box of instant polenta – very lazy but saves hours of stirring when I am just cooking for two of us!

IMG_0191.JPG

Terrible picture, I’m sorry!

As a result of this, I am serving it with everything right now! We love stews and casseroles in our house and also have an addiction to chorizo so when the weather was still chilly a few weeks ago, I put this bad boy together. If you need comfort food, this is what you are looking for! Make up the polenta according to the packet instructions but here is the important part – add butter and grate in plenty of parmesan cheese. Then you can served it laced with whatever you wish or eat it alone if you are so inclined!

Chicken and Chorizo Stew:

IMG_0155.JPG

Serves 6-8

  • 1 Whole chicken, jointed into 8 pieces or 8 chicken thighs & drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 175g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 175g cured chorizo, cut into slices or chunks
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 tsp sweet, smoked paprika
  • salt, pepper & a pinch sugar
  1. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan or casserole dish.
  2. Add the bacon and fry until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the pan, skin side down to seal. Turn in the pan until sealed on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the onion to the pan, fry for a minute or two and then add the garlic. Cover and sweat until the onions are soft.
  5. Add the chorizo and fry until it starts to release its oil. Now add the tomatoes, paprika and a pinch of sugar. Stir well.
  6. Return the chicken and bacon to the pot, cover and cook over a low heat until the chicken is cooked through – approx 30 minutes. You may need to add some water to thin out the sauce from time to time.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning – be careful as the bacon may be salty!
  8. Serve on top of the polenta, mashed potato or rice – whatever takes your fancy.

 

Exploring Boston

They say moving house, getting married and changing jobs are among the top five most stressful life events an adult can go through. Well we certainly don’t do things by halves in our house. In less than nine months, we have gotten married, left jobs in Ireland and the UK, I returned to study and now we have moved across the Atlantic to Boston, Massachusetts. Sometimes I ask myself are we insane!

7C8F908E-D156-461D-B752-32A6A5AD902C.JPG

Big yellow school buses like in the movies! All these things are still a novelty!

Brenton arrived in the US back in October and moved to an apartment in Brookline, a suburb of Boston about 2 miles from the centre of of the city. It is a lovely neighbourhood and I am really enjoying getting to know the area. We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of many nice restaurants, cafes and boutiques as well as parks and easy reach of public transport. Coolidge Corner is a buzzing little spot and I even spotted a friend on the shelves of my new favourite bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

Boston itself is the kind of city I enjoy. Its big enough to have all the amenities and buzz of a cosmopolitan metropolis, but is small enough that it still has a neighbourhood feel. It is home to multinational chains but still showcases local producers and “mom and pop” stores.

Boston Public Market:

greenhouse_31publicmarket-11_business.jpg

This little gem is Boston’s version of Corks English Market, albeit a bit more modern and swanky. It is an indoor marketplace with vendors from farms all over New England pedaling farm to table produce as well as delicious ready to eat lunches and beautiful flowers.

DA7F8F34-824B-474A-AA71-C32C907D762E.JPG

The vendors I have explored so far have really impressed me. Good quality, organic vegetables and grass fed beef are de-riguer here. Here are just some of my favourite stalls.

chestnutfarms_resized

 

IMG_0177.JPG

Chestnut Farms is a family run livestock farm just outside of Boston which raises a range of animals for their stall and CSA boxes (More coming on these soon!) We met Kim, who runs the farm with her husband, at Farm Share Fair last week and loved how passionate and engaging she was about her animals and the work they do on the farm. They supply beef, pork and poultry raised to the highest standards at their farmstands, both here at Boston Public Market and their other farmers market stalls.

DC09B02B-679A-4348-90E9-465AF3B70216.JPG

Ive already told you about my new meat routine since leaving Buttermaloe. Well now onto salads! Never again will I be buying bags of precut, premixed salads which I am reliably informed are not as healthy as they present themselves to be! Corner Stalk Farm grow a beautiful selection of salads and sell boxes of lettuces with the stalk still on so that they stay fresh for longer. They are the sole reason I am not missing the greens from the Ballymaloe Gardens. The boxes come in three sizes, I plumped for a large salad box for $15 which I  almost balked at but the salads lasted two weeks for us and the quality of leaves is beautiful. This will be a regular on my shopping list!

IMG_0178.JPG

ls

Reds Best Seafood is a huge fish stall in the market that sources all its fish from a network of local fishermen in the Boston and Cape cod areas from only sustainable fisheries. They provide a service that allows you to identify the fisherman that caught each fish, which to me is how traceable seafood should work! They sell from as many sustainable local fisheries as possible including Martha’s Vineyard Bay Scallops, Wellfleet oysters, Chatham razor clams and other local fisheries.

44FE9C69-5614-47E6-B19D-31261562FBD3.JPG

IMG_0179.JPG

Last but not least is Stow Greenhouses, a flower stall that screams colour and smells beautiful. They sell single flower bunches like hydrangeas or a multitude of coloured bouquets. They also offer a subscription serves where you can collect a bouquet every week from their farmstand. Its all grown locally in Massachusetts and each bouquet has is filled with seasonal blooms.

 

So besides shopping, what else have we been up to?

IMG_0143

Last Friday night, I surprised Brenton with tickets to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, the oldest baseball stadium in the US. It is one of those classic Boston experiences that is a necessity when you live in this city and it was great fun, beer, food and lots of loud baseball fans! Thank goodness the Red Sox won, I could imagine raucous scenes if they lost!

IMG_0145

That’s it for now, talk again soon!

XX

E

One of the biggest changes I have been making in our house since I left Ballymaloe is buying a lot less meat but ensuring the meat that we do eat is of the highest quality, organic, grass-fed, the best we can find.

This means a lot more vegetarian food as well as meals that use up leftover chicken and meat. As my husband is a classic Irish male, he usually believes a meal is not complete without meat and therein lies my biggest challenge – how do I make vegetarian meals that he will enjoy. Curries are on the easier side of this challenge, as he loves them anayway!

One evening in our cottage in Ballymaloe, Tim Allen dropped around a pot of delicious sweet potato curry that I couldn’t stop thinking about for days after! I never did manage to get the recipe so I had a go at recreating it myself. This curry is laden with vegetables but the sweet potato gives it lots of texture and the chickpeas add protein. It may not be exactly the same but it is really delicious and is easily scaled up for a crowd.

Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Coconut Curry:

IMG_0102

Serves 4 hungry people or 6 normal people

  • 1 tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • 1 chilli, sliced – I left in the seeds but this is up to personal preference
  • 1 tsp ground cumin – Sidebar: These spices will be remarkably better if toasted whole and then ground fresh!
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1x 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1x 400ml tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into bitesize chunks
  • 1/2 medium cauliflower
  • A handful of green beans, trimmed and halved
  • Handful of kale, chopped
  • Handful of chopped coriander for sprinkling on top
  1. Fry the onion in the oil until softened but not coloured. After a few minutes, add the ginger and garlic and chilli and cook through. Season at this point with salt and pepper.
  2. Stir in the spices and fry with the onion, garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes.
  3. Gradually stir in the coconut milk, the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning at this point.
  4. Add the chickpeas, sweet potato and cauliflower and cook on a low heat until the vegetables have softened and the sauce has thickened.
  5. Add the green beans about five minutes before serving and cook through. Just before serving, toss in the kale but do not put a lid back on the pan as it will lose its vibrant green colour.
  6. Serve with your choice of rice, sprinkled with chopped coriander and a dollop of yoghurt.

I cant believe how fast time is passing! Last time we spoke, I was still knee deep in the madness that is the Ballymaloe 12 week certificate course and loving every minute. Well much has happened since then, let me fill you in!

On the 13th March, a group of my fellow students and I organised a pop-up dinner event in the school to raise money for East Cork Slow Food’s educational project, purchasing chickens and developing vegetable gardens for local schools. Our theme for the evening was Masquerade and the menu was seasonal and filled with as much farm produce as we could muster.

12799001_10156566639230247_6730106247389350661_n

And what an evening it was:

2016-03-13 23.17.11

Look at some of the beautiful food produced by incredibly talented cooks!

 

After the madness of the popup dinner, we were invited by Darina and Tim to a celebratory dinner in their house which was one of the nicest evenings.2016-03-15 19.01.542016-03-15 19.27.33

 

After all that fun, it was time to get down to brass tax….exams! Twelve weeks of full on learning would be distilled down into a series of written exams accompanied by an intensive practical exam. Study became the main focus around the courtyard

2016-03-23 18.48.19-1

The practical exam involved planning a balanced and seasonal menu of starter, main, dessert and a bread, assigned to us the day before the exam. The menu had to be dedicated to a theme. The theme I chose was a farewell meal for my family, the food they love most and the ideal goodbye meal for them as I was abandoning them!

Seared scallops with beurre blanc.

~

Roasted rack of lamb, purple sprouting brocolli, duck fat roast potatoes, fresh mint chutney and gravy.

~

Lemon tart with lemon ice-cream and candied julienne of lemon peel.

After what was undoubtedly the fastest few hours of my life, I was pretty happy with all I had produced. I just about managed to snap a quick picture when I was ushered out to allow the judges to taste everything and to allow me to breath!

8286_1554034911555474_3207513623869622675_n.jpg

One more day of study and then the barrage of exams took over on Friday. The exams were tough, I am not going to lie! For any prospective students considering doing the 12 week course, big tip – study early, study often! I’ve never been more exhausted than trying to cram in a shedload of information in those last few weeks. Make notes from the start that you can review later on! Questions on the exams covered a litany of subjects and included topics such as far ranging as “what is a bullock” and “Name four uses for chocolate ganache”!

And then it was done, time to pack and decompress after the exams as well as anticipate the goodbye dinner being lovingly prepared by Rory O’Connell. One last evening of drinks with the incredible group of new friends I have met along the way and then it was up to the school for our farewells.

2016-03-25 18.56.54.jpg

A fantastic evening with the most beautiful food and wonderful company topped off by a dj session with Mossie from The Blackbird (and a slightly unfortunate incident with a candle and my hair! Thanks Sabrina!)

2016-03-25 19.34.35

I can honestly say that deciding to attend Ballymaloe has been one of the best decisions of my life. Every day was a new experience and an opportunity to learn with like-minded people. I’ve met people who have blown me away with their talent and skills and just as importantly, people with warmth, humour and compassion! Living with and working with 60 odd people all day, every day is of course a challenge but is made so much easier by people supporting and helping each other through tough days and making each other laugh. I know I will see great things from so many of my classmates in years to come.

So now on to the next adventure, of which I will update you in the next post!

Slán for now,

xx

E

 

 

 

Fish on Friday

Fish is one of the big reasons I wanted to do the course here at Ballymaloe. My background is in fisheries management and marine science. It is strange but I have not often cooked with fish much at home. I will nearly always order seafood in a restaurant and I truly love eating nearly every fish type. I am so aware of how valuable fish is and fisheries has been a part of my livelihood for a relatively long time. My hesitance in cooking it is probably due in part to my lack of confidence in preparation as well as over exposure to fish!

 

Pretty little pollack that became fish and chips

 

Sustainable fisheries and how our food habits can influence and be influenced by our entire marine ecosystem are all things I am hugely interested in. Fishing is an occupation, or way of life, which is so influenced by environmental practices from all over the world. Unlike farming, in which you can manage (albeit amid strict legislation) your land in a way you are comfortable with in order to create wonderful produce, fishing can be hugely challenged by the influence of many external factors as well as high levels of management and legislation.

That is not always a negative thing but it certainly makes for a challenging business. For this and so many other reasons, being knowledgeable about fish and where to buy from, is so important.

 

Langoustines, Scampi, Nephrops, whatever you call them, they are yummy!

 

What does that mean? What can we as consumers do to change bad practices?

 

Seafood is so simple and so wonderful

 

Sustainable fisheries are the way to go. For the most part, you are looking for small scale fishermen on inshore or nearshore vessels catching seasonally and in limited quantities. Nothing good can come from factory ships, hoovering up anything and everything from the ecosystem.

 

The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone interested in fish or seafood: buy local and but seasonal. You may love salmon but buying farmed Alaskan salmon does nothing of benefit to our ecosystem or for long term success of fishing in Ireland. Similarly, most people love cod and while cod stocks are slowly recovering, importing cod from Norway caught by an offshore trawler isn’t half as good for you or the environment as buying beautiful pollack from an inshore dayboat caught as freshly as possible.

If you want a fish that is out of season, you are better off buying fish caught and frozen as locally as possible than importing from a distant country. Talk to your fishmonger. Think before you buy. Don’t buy your fish from a supermarket! Try new species! And most of all, enjoy your fish! Like meat, it is a real treat. So happy Friday, go get yourself some yummy fish and get to know your fishmonger!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 231 other followers

%d bloggers like this: