Archive for July, 2008

Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

Thursday, July 31st, 2008
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The August Bank Holiday approaches and brings with it more rain and another family trip to the Sunny South East. As we travel each weekend during the summer the kitchen in Messy-Towers remains pretty much closed which is one of the reasons I have yet to get photos of the actual dishes up an running. Between you and me I haven’t actually been cooking any of this stuff as we go along, it’s just some favourite things and random thoughts from my head. For the sake of content, and to drive the illusion, here is a another recipe and a stock photo to go with it. It’ll get better. I swear.

I was going to do a potato dish but its summer and we’re all getting our cholesterol down by having boiled spuds with grilled mackerel and salad. I’ll hold off on potato dishes until later in the season so here’s something quick to give edge to your veg.

Broccoli with Garlic and Lemon

1 Knob of Butter
1 clove of Garlic, crushed or finely chopped.
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Head of Broccoli

Wash and chop the Broccoli in the usual manner, steam or boil for 5-7 minutes. Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic (you don’t want the garlic to burn), cook gently for 1 minute. Add the Broccoli and lemon juice, cook for another 30secs to 1minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Clonakilty Black Pudding with Caramelised Onion and Parma Ham

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008
Colourful Clonakilty (co. Cork, Ireland) stree...

I regularly drive through Clonakilty in West Cork and am always reminded of three things: summers spent there as a child, summers spent there as a teenager in De Barra’s pub and the famous Clonakilty Black Pudding. Edward Twomey, who owns the recipe, says the growth in gourmet shops around Ireland helped to bring the product to the attention of the larger supermarkets and restaurants. These days you can get it just about everywhere in Ireland which is a great example of how the model works if you’re trying to grow the market for your own product. There are lots of quality black puddings available these days but, for me, this remains the de-facto.

Outside of the ubiquotous Full Irish Breakfast there are many recipies that use CBP, the Clonakilty Black Pudding website contains a few and here is another we use at home as a lunch time snack or starter.

Caramelised Onion, Parma Ham and Clonakilty Black Pudding Ciabatta

2 thumb length pieces of Clonakilty Black pudding
One medium onion, cut in rounds
4-6 slices Parma Ham
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Balsamic viegar.
2 handfuls of grated cheese, chef’s choice but Cheddar is fine.
1 Ciabatta divided lengthways.

Fry the onion slowly for 10mins. Add sugar and vinegar and cook for another 2mins while toasting the open ciabitta. Place the onion mix on the ciabatta and fry the black pudding in a little olive oil. Place the cooked pudding on the onion and top with cheese and parma ham. Bake at 180F (Gas 4) for 10mins or until the cheese looks good and melted.

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Homemade Sun (Oven) Dried Tomatoes

Monday, July 28th, 2008
Full and cross-section of a ripe supermarket t...

You can buy Sun Dried Tomatoes everywhere now but there’s always satisfaction to be gained from making your own. Here in Ireland we don’t get the weather to dry damp tissue paper never mind an entire tray of tomatoes so I’ve cheated and used the oven method. If you have the sun (or a lot of patience) you can leave them to dry naturally.

The type of tomato you use doesn’t really matter, many folk grow their own but I wouldn’t waste them by drying them out. I normally use the regular supermarket ones which are just about tolerable this time of year…any other time of year and supermarket tomatoes are nothing short of woeful but that’s a story for another day.

Quarter the tomatoes and place on a baking tray, sprinkle with sea salt and basil leaves. Place in a barely warm oven (only 100F or so) and leave to dry for three to four hours or until you think they look really dried out, there is no magic time for these, just taste one and see if you like. The salt helps remove the moisture while leaving them really zingy.

I’ve tried storing these in oil but not much success, they tend to go moldy after a few days. See the comments on this for storage tips (thanks to all who contributed).

The Tannery, Dungarvan

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Our initial inquiry about booking a table at The Tannery in Dungarvan was rejected but on a quick recollection they could actually fit us downstairs at 7:30. We showed up at the appointed time and were immediately seated in a room off the bar area.  The room was very pleasant, bright and airy.

Bread was delivered in the form of slices of light and airy Ciabatta accompanied by a sour cream and chive dip which had a hint of either vinegar or lemon. Lovely.

For starters I had the charcuterie plate which came as a mix of cured meats, toasted soda bread, pate and some lightly pickled cauliflower. All meticulously laid out and very tasty. Anne had the Prawn Broth with Brown Rice and Avocado Toast which, again, was beautiful to look at. The broth itself belied its light sounding name and tasted rich with a smokey hint.

Mains consisted of Lightly Smoked Salmon with a Beetroot Coleslaw, Roasted whole Monkfish with Serrano Ham and Baked Peach and our third diner, who had passed on the starters, chose the Herb Crusted Wicklow Lamb Ribs. The salmon was excellent, perfectly cooked but the beetroot accompaniment disappointed. What sounded like it should be full of flavour was a bit lacking on taste, luckily the salmon made up for it. The Monkfish was fantastic, the fish was cooked to perfection. When asked for some lemon the waitress disappeared into the kitchen and ignored us on return. Had we insulted the chef? When neither tantrum nor lemon appeared we asked a second time and received two wafer-thin rounds of lemon which looked like they came from the bar. Impossible to squeeze a thin round of lemon onto a fish so we moved on. The lamb arrived but disappointed, to be fair the menu said ribs and that’s what they were. Four ribs with a thin coating of meat containing a fair share of fat. Our diner picked the meat from half and gave up declaring it a futile exercise.

Only when the meal was finished did we first catch sight of the Maitre D’. As she visited the diners I overheard the table next to us complain about the lamb. We did the same. First to the waitress who, having ignored us since the lemon incident, came to clear the plates. She offered an incredulous “but it is cooked for two and half hours” response and wafted off. The Maitre D’ arrived and explained in a friendly manner that it was rib and not rack and without any more fuss said she would, of course, remove the charge from our bill.

Dessert was a Raspberry Gratin which disappointed via the gratin’s lack of flavour and Muscat Grape Jelly, Brown Sugar Ice Cream served with a Warm Doughnut which was very well received, the grape jelly in a tiny jam jar made it look all the better. Hmmm doughnuts….

To finish a couple of excellent Irish Coffees and, seeming as specialty cocktails were advertised via a flyer on our table, I chose a Mojito. Unfortunately the Mojito was a dour affair tasting like the ones I’ve tried to make at home: drinkable but lacking in fizz and zing. An appropriate summary for the entire night I thought as we headed into the night.

The bill came to €186 which included two starters, two mains (lamb excluded), two desserts, three cocktails and two bottles of Chablis at €35 each.


Monday, July 21st, 2008
Serein river, Chablis, Burgundy, FRANCE

Stocked up on some wine this weekend. Our local Super Valu, Ryans in Frankfield, are doing Jacob’s Creek Semillon Chardonnay (2007) for €8.99 a bottle which seemed like good value.

For those who dislike regular Chardonnay, of which there are many, is a less oaked alternative. Slightly creamy taste with good body, a more robust alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, very drinkable.

Risotto Revolutition

Sunday, July 13th, 2008
Grains of arborio rice

I rediscovered risotto about a year ago and am making up for lost time now! It is so versatile, just add anything to the basic recipe. There’s as many different risottos as there are ingredients.

The basic is below, instead of the white wine I keep a bottle of Dry Vermouth which I use. Saves us fighting over whose glass of wine goes into the risotto 🙂

Ingredients for 2
6oz of Arborio (risotto) rice
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 glass white wine
2 pints of chicken or veg stock

Heat some oil in a pan and add the garlic, cook for a minute and add the onion and celery. Slowly sweat for 5mins. Turn up the heat and add the rice. Cook on a very high heat for a minute or two making sure to stir so as not to burn anything. Now add the glass of wine (or Vermouth), it will sizzle and cook into the rice in a short time. When this has done reduce the heat and add a ladle of stock. Stir it into the rice and repeat the process until the rice is fully cooked. Season to taste but it will already be quite salty so be careful. All the stirring is a bit of a pain but it has to be done. It should cook in 20 to 25mins.

Once the rice is cooked stir in a handful of grated Parmesan and a knob of butter. At this stage you can add anything. Last time I cooked this I added some Vignotte cheese and Parma ham. Makes it really savoury.

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Go Green

Friday, July 11th, 2008
Ingredients for Thai green curry paste.

Adding the chilli tip below reminded me of an often used Thai Green Curry recipe. This was the first curry I did from scratch a long time ago and have never looked back. If I were cooking at home I would never use a paste for anything these days.

If you have the slighest (mildest?!) intestest in cooking curry take a look at Madhur Jaffry’s Ultimate Curry Bible. 300 pages of Curry from every corner of the world. It’s a stunning and incredibly informative book. Buy it.

Ingredients for 2:
1 big handful of fresh coriander (one of the standard supermarket packs)
1 big handful of fresh basil (Thai basil is hard to get, I use my home grown regular type.)
1 green chilli, chopped
1 clove garlic, skin removed
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 stick of lemongrass, chopped and outer layer removed
5 or 6 shallots, roughly chopped
Juice and rind of 2 limes
2 or 3 Lime leaves
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
Dash of Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon of Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Add all of the above to a blender (leave the stalks on the basil and coriander) and blend into a paste. That’s it! You can adjust spice level by the amount of chilli and whether or not you use the seeds.

Once you have the paste fry your chicken pieces and when cooked add the paste. Cook for three for four minutes and then add about 300ml of coconut milk. You can use a full tin depending on how thick or thin you like a curry. Simmer for 8-10mins. I like to cook this ahead of time and leave it cool and infuse for a few hours.

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Chilled refrigeration

Thursday, July 10th, 2008
Fresh Indian Green chillies in a Bangalore market

Tip: To keep Chilli peppers fresh for longer wrap them in newspaper, tie with an elastic and store them in the fridge.

If the chillies are fresh to begin with they should keep for three to four weeks.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Thursday, July 10th, 2008
Potato tortilla portion.

New potatoes are here and there’s usually a few left over in the pot after dinner. A great way to use leftover spuds is to cook them in a Spanish Omelette which I like to top with some metled cheese. Great for lunch on a summer Sunday with a cool glass of Rioja.

One red onion, halved and sliced.
Your leftover potatoes, cubed.
Olive oil
200g grated mature Irish cheddar.
3 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste.

Add some olive Oil to a heated pan. Add the potato and onion and fry quickly for a minute. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10. Break the eggs into a bowl and mix. When the potato and onions are done add them to the bowl of egg mixture (do not add the eggs to the pan) and stir. Season to taste. Oil the pan and return the mixture. Cook slowly for 10-20mins. When almost cooked top with the cheese and put it under a medium grill.

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