Archive for June, 2008

Mushroom Soup

Saturday, June 21st, 2008
Local Mushroom Baskets

It’s refreshing to see that supermarkets are beginning to stock different types of mushrooms these days. Handy if you can’t get to the market, even if you can get a local market sourcing a mix of mushroom types is not easy.

My local SuperValu (Ryans in Grange, a fantastic shop) stock 150g packs of mixed mushrooms. Great for making soup. They also stock jars of dried Porcini Mushrooms…even better for making soup….if you’ve never tasted Porcini they have a really deep, rich, flavour. In France I believe they are known as Ceps. Expesnive things but make an enormous difference to anything they are included in.

Here’s a recipe, it’s based on a Jamie Oliver one we use at home:

300g of Mixed mushrooms
100g of button mushrooms
1 handful of dried Porcini mushrooms
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
2 pints of chicken or veggie stock
1 tablespoon Mascarpone cheese (to thicken).
Salt and pepper to taste.

Soak the Porcini in warm water. Meanwhile quickly fry the rest of the mushrooms in a little oil. After a minute or two of frying on a high heat add the Porcini and the water they were rehrdrated in. Also add in the onion, chopped garlic and seasoning. Reduce the heat and fry for 10-15mins.

When the mushrooms and onions are nicely cooked, and sort of fused together, transfer to a pot and add the stock. Simmer for 30mins, switch off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Blend the mixture and add Mascarpone to thicken as required. Season to tase.

For somebody who is not overly fond of mushrooms this is one of my favourite dishes. Try it once.

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Simple food

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Coat of arms of County WaterfordLast weekend was spent in Ardmore, Co. Waterford. Beautiful spot (shame about the hurling) so we really couldn’t be bothered cooking or investing any time in cooking. New potatoes, sausages and fried onion. All purchased from the local shop. The potatoes were still a bit on the waxy side, it’ll be mid-July before the Irish potatoes are really nice.

15mins work and you’re sitting down. A nice Crozes Hermitage to wash it down. Couldn’t be better during the summer.

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BBQ Season

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Beef steaks over woodHaving a BBQ in Ireland is somewhat of a lottery, in fact, it’s usually pretty a frustrating excercise.

Irish BBQ events are driven more by drinking and less by weather. They are driven even less again by food. When somebody plans a barbecue more than six hours in advance they are either a hopeless optimist or inviting you to a drinking session. It’s usually the latter.

Have a BBQ early in the day when you can enjoy the weather. Not sundown when Irish temperatures fall with the sun.

Here is a recipe for home made burgers:

For 2 Burgers (adjust accordingly)

175g Steak Mince
One slice of bread (for breadcrumbs)
One egg
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2 onion
Salt and pepper to taste.

Put the bread, herbs, seasoning, onion and mustard in the blender and whiz it up. Beat the egg and add to the meat. Add in your herb and breadcrumb mix. Mix well together. Make into burger patties. Tip: Use the inside of a soup ladle for this. Store in the fridge to set for 30mins.

Tip: You have to have the right mix of egg and breadcrumbs for this to set properly, not normally a big issue on a frying pan but on a BBQ you need to be careful. If they are too loose an idea may be to give the burgers a quick fry before transferring to the BBQ.

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Start the Day

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I had breakfast in O’Sullivan’s (Sully’s) Bar in Douglas Village recently, mostly on our Saturday morning visits we just have a coffee but the fry is excellent. Proper sausages, not the cheap and nasty deep fried jumbo ones, proper rashers and they put the beans in a little dish so they don’t travel all over your plate and mess up your egg. Top marks to Sully’s.

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Grow Your Own

Monday, June 9th, 2008

It’s mid-June and the sun is shining, perfect for growing. However garden space is tight. I’ve often thought I’d like a place in the country and grow some ‘things’, I’m not green fingered so I’m not sure what type of ‘things’ I’d actually like to grow but the concept sort of appeals to me. The reality is the isolation of the countryside and associated taxi duties driving my kids to this and that would quickly get on my nerves so I think we’ll stay put for a while.

A few years back, during a trip to Woodies, I picked up a small oregano plant and a window box. I never intended to buy them, it was one of those trips where you go in to buy a light bulb and come out with a flat-pack wardrobe. I planted the oregeno and a week later it was still alive. Success! I had beaten my record for goldfish tending. I got brave and added thyme, coriander and rosemary to the mix and they grew in varing degrees. The first winter killed the coriander, the rosemary lasted a year or two and now the oregeno has taken over and is quite big. Only a tiny sprig of thyme remains in the original box surrounded by the ever expanding oregeno. I have since progressed to buying seeds online and have a nice collection of plant pots and window boxes growing herbs. We need more windowsills.

Judging by my own success basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary appear to be easy to grow. Mint is too but I’ll keep that aside as it’s like a weed, it grow almost anywhere. Do not plant this free in your garden, it will take over. The thyme is most widely used as lots of recipies call for thyme, all you need to do is make sure to water thyme, it appears to like water.

I grow basil indoors, in a window box facing south. All you need are seeds, some earth with a bit of compost (maybe half and half), a window box and a watering can. Plant your seeds and you should see them sprout in about a week. Keep the soil damp and they should continue to grow. This time of year it probably takes 4 to 6 weeks to fully mature and that’s that. Fantastic for pesto, making something with ingredients you grew yourself if a real buzz. Try it.

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Monday, June 9th, 2008

Welcome to my Blog on cooking. Hopefully this will extend to a bit more than just cooking, I’d also like to try cover everything related: eating; drinking: recipes; wine; beer; ingredients; growing; maybe some reviews. In order to give this blog a bit more of a focus it would be nice to incorporate some local aspects. I am lucky to live in Cork with the World famous English Market, a true inspiration to anybody who has lifted a pot in their life.

This is my first adventure in Blogging so I’m not sure how it will work out. I’ve been wondering about setting up something for some time now but am not sure if I have enough in me to keep one going. I thought of setting up a dedicated web site but that seems like a lot of grief so I’ll start with a simple blog and see what results.

Like most people we do our cooking (and wine drinking) at the weekend so this will probably be somewhat of a weekly affair. We’ll see how it develops.

I also suspect I’m starting at the wrong time (it’s June) but maybe that will give me time to get up to speed and after the summer I’ll be blogging away.