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Saturday, June 30, 2012
THE WEATHER is so extraordinarily unpredictable that it’s difficult to know what to cook — should we make a stew or a salad?
When the sun shines there’s a desperation to maximise the opportunity so barbecues are being wheeled out and back into the garage with monotonous regularity.
Let’s face it, we so need something to cheer us up.
The positive response of the Irish football supporters despite defeat in the European Championship shows that as a nation we seem to be hard-wired to look on the bright side and make the very best of every challenging situation, no matter what.
The number of new micro businesses starting up all over the country are an example of the determination and the creativity that bubbles to the surface when we are forced to think outside the box.
There are a myriad of opportunities in Irish food from artisan to manufacturing level, from farmers markets, farm shops, pop up restaurants to truck food.
Foraging is all the rage — what a fun thing to do.
Dr Barbara Duff is doing sea shore foraging courses in Clonea Co Waterford (see Hot Tips).
Close to home here, Philip Dennhardt’s Saturday Pizzas at the Ballymaloe Cookery School is a favourite weekend treat for parents and kids of all ages who look forward to tasting the wood fired Pizza of the Week with toppings that reflect the season on the farm and in the gardens.
Of course there’s always a classic margarita, marinara and pepperoni with homemade tomato sauce and a perky chilli oil for those who like to liven up their pizza. It’s open for just four hours every Saturday from 12.30pm to 4pm.
The latest option on the fun East Cork dining scene is the ‘pop-up’ on Friday nights at the Café at the End of the Shop at Ballymaloe House. Dervilla O’Flynn takes over the kitchens and offers a short menu of little plates and a platter of hand carved Iberico at a fraction of the price of London restaurant.
The food comes as it’s ready, the atmosphere is easy and convivial, plus there are terrific wines and superb sherries by the glass — I love it.
Ottolenghi Radish and Broad Bean Salad
A simple lunch dish.
With the Tahini sauce and bread it makes a modest meal in itself.
Without them, it’s a colourful salad — light refreshing and wholesome.
500g (1lb 2oz) shelled broad beans fresh or frozen
350g (12oz) small radishes
½ red onion
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander
30g (1¼oz) preserved lemon, finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
200ml (7fl oz) Green tahini sauce
4 thick pita breads
Salt and black pepper
Cook the broad beans in a pan of boiling salted water for 1 – 2 minutes, depending on size.
Drain through a large colander and rinse in plenty of cold water to refresh them.
Remove the beans from their skins by gently squeezing each one with your finger tips.
Cut the radishes into 6 wedges each and mix with the broad beans, onion, coriander, preserved lemon, lemon juice, parsley, olive oil and cumin.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve, pile a mound of salad in one corner of each serving plate, pour tahini sauce into a small bowl and stand it next to the salad.
Set a pitta bread next to them.
Sicilian Roast Chicken Salad
You might want to serve this salad with a bowl of homemade mayonnaise and some crispy greens — I particularly love Little Gem lettuce and rocket leaves.
Serves 6-8 people
1 x 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) freshly roasted organic chicken
12 waxy freshly cooked potatoes, new if in season
A little olive oil
150ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
25ml (1fl oz) red wine vinegar
25ml (1fl oz) balsamic vinegar
Zest of ½ lemon
4 tbsp sultanas or raisins
4 tbsp pinenuts
3 tbsp capers
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small fistful of flat parsley sprigs
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
While the chicken is roasting, put the sultanas or raisins into a bowl, cover with boiling water.
Allow to plump up.
Spread the pine kernels on the base of a dry frying pan, stir over a gentle heat until toasted on all sides.
This will greatly enhance the flavour, allow to cool.
Peel and slice the potatoes while still warm.
Whisk the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar together.
Add the finely grated lemon zest. Spoon some of this dressing evenly over the warm potato salad and toss gently
When the roast chicken is cooked, cool. Cut into chunky pieces (reserve the chicken carcass for stock).
Arrange the pieces over the top of the salad, don’t remove the crispy skin — it’s delicious.
Sprinkle the drained sultanas, toasted pine nuts and drained capers over the top.
Drizzle with a little more dressing. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and scatter with lots of flat parsley sprigs.
Serve at room temperature with a green salad and a bowl of homemade mayonnaise.
* Note: Get a few broad beans or fresh peas, blanch them quickly in boiling salted water and add to the salad.
Pizzetta Bianca with Red Onions and Thyme Leaves
Makes 12 pizzetta
Easy Pizza Dough
1 x 7g sachet fast action yeast
300ml (10floz) tepid water
500g (18oz) strong white flour (we use Italian 00)
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 piece pizza dough
25g (1oz) grated block mozzarella
5g (¼ oz) grated parmesan
½ thinly sliced red onion
Enough thyme leaves to sprinkle over the top
Thyme flowers if available
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Put the flour, salt and fast action yeast with the olive oil and the tepid water into a bowl and mix into a dough.
Rest for three to four minutes then form the dough into a roll.
Knead the dough on a floured work surface until smooth and springy — about 10 minutes.
Put in a bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.
Ideally it should double in size. Divide the dough into pieces. Roll each one into thin 20cm discs.
Top with chosen topping and cook.
If you want to use the dough later, arrange the balls of dough on a tray, cover with a damp cloth and keep in the fridge for up to 12 hours.
Remember to take them out 30 minutes before you’re ready to use them so they can come back to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to the highest temperature 250C/ gas mark 9, or better still 275C.
Pizza will benefit from being placed directly on to a hot baking sheet or pizza stone within the pre-heated oven.
Our pizzas cook in 4 or 5 minutes but yours may take about 6 or 8 minutes.
At 250C/gas mark 9, yours will take about 6 – 8 minutes.
Roll the pizza base into a 20cm round. Don’t fuss too much about getting your pizzetta bases totally round.
In fact it’s much better if they are not; you’ll get some lovely bubbling and occasional charring at the edges.
Sprinkle the cheeses over the top, top with some thinly sliced onion rings and a sprinkle thyme leaves.
Use less rather than more topping — if you use too much, the base won’t be crisp. It will take 4 – 8 minutes depending on your oven.
Grind on some pepper, drizzle a little olive oil and scatter some thyme flowers over the top and enjoy immediately.
Seashore Tours — Dr Barbara Duff, a marine biologist, is doing sea shore tours at Clonea Beach near Dungarvan in Co Waterford.
Illustrated talk beforehand at Clonea Hotel. Tel: 087-4149949 – www.seashoretours.com
Mulberry Gardens in Donnybrook offers dinner just three nights a week — three courses, two choices on each course, reflecting the season and the best of Irish artisan produce.
Book well ahead. 01-2693300.
Pop-up Banquet (one night only) in aid of Midleton Hospital and The Laura Lynn Foundation at the Granary Foodstore, Midleton on Friday, Jul 6.
Outdoor drinks reception starts at 7.45pm followed by a seven course, no choice, tasting menu.
The price is €50, bring your own wine. Contact Jack O’Sullivan on 021-4613366 to book.
Slow Food Youth Network are having a totally Slow Food Barbecue today during the Cloughjordan Festival which runs until tomorrow at Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary. http://cloughjordanfestival.weebly.com
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