Good mood food

SECOND HELPINGS from Paul Flynn has just hit the bookshops, a great name for another dollop of tempting food from the Tannery Restaurant in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

"This book, to me, represents all my 'uncheffy' ambitions," says Paul, "with relatively simple food that's 'do-able' at home and hopefully you will have a laugh as well. It features me in all my self-deprecating glory."

Paul wanted to write and formulate recipes in the same way he does every week in the kitchen devising the dishes according to what produce is in season. "I let this and the weather dictate how I structure a dish: cream and root vegetables in the depth of winter; olive oil and tomatoes for the summer months."

Cooking is all about mood and feeling. The book is divided into 12 monthly chapters highlighting the foods in season at that particular time. Advice on how to cook starters, main courses and desserts is outlined in an easy-to-follow format. There are tips for filling the cool-box and picnic basket in July, and for cooking up seasonal comfort food in November and December.

The emphasis is on ease of preparation for the keen home cook. Paul has put considerable effort into simplifying his food over the years, emphasising the importance of sourcing really good, fresh, local food in season.

Occasionally, he manages to escape from the stove, treating the reader to hilarious accounts of his adventures.

So, even if you never venture into the kitchen, this book will make the armchair cooks among us lick our lips and laugh out loud.

Ken Buggy's quirky cartoons add a brilliant extra dimension to Second Helpings. Ken, owner of Buggy's Glencairn Inn in West Waterford, shares Paul's delightfully eccentric view of life.

Paul spent nine years at the famous Chez Nico restaurant in London, and was the youngest sous chef in Britain at only 23. In 1993, he became head chef in La Stampa, Dublin.

In 1997, he opened the Tannery in his home town of Dungarvan, County Waterford. It was voted Best Restaurant in Munster by Food and Wine Magazine and Jameson Restaurant of the Year in 2004.

Paul has appeared on RTÉ, the Food Channel and BBC and has written a food column for The Irish Times. He is working on a new food series for television.

Second Helpings Further Irish Adventures with Food by Paul Flynn published by the Collins Press, price €30.

Lemon Roast Chicken with Ginger and Parsnips

This is an adaptation of lemon roast chicken from Peter Gordon's Sugar Club Cookbook. It's deliciously easy, especially if you use a ready jointed chicken. Serve with some buttered sprouts and mash.

Serves 4

1.75kg/4lb chicken (preferably organic or free range)

pinch ground ginger

120ml/4fl.oz olive oil

1kg/2¼ lb parsnips, cut into 2cm/¾ in dice

1 bunch fresh oregano

2 fresh rosemary sprigs

2 lemons, halved lengthways and thinly sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/450F/gas 7.

To joint the chicken: Place the chicken breast side down and with the tip of a knife cut round the two portions of oyster meat (which lie against the backbone). Turn the bird over and cut through the skin where the thigh joins the body. Cut right down between the ball and the socket joint, being careful to keep the oyster meat attached to the leg. Repeat with the other leg. Separate the thighs from the drumsticks but cutting through at the joints.

Trim off the bone end from the drumsticks. Turn the chicken over again, breast side down, and using a poultry shears, cut down firmly through the back into the body cavity between the backbone and one shoulder blade, leaving the wing attached to the breast. Turn the breast with the wings still attached, skin-side up. Remove the wing portions by cutting through at a slight diagonal so that some of the breast is still attached to the wing, then cut each one in half again. You should now have eight portions in total. If all this seems like too much hard work simply buy a packet of chicken joints!

Heat a large frying pan. Season the chicken joints lightly and sprinkle over the ground ginger. Add a little of the oil to the heated pan and use to brown the chicken joints all over. Meanwhile, place the parsnips in a large roasting tin and add the herbs and half the oil. Season to taste and mix well to combine. Arrange the browned leg joints on top and scatter over the lemon slices. Roast for 15 minutes, then add the rest of the chicken joints and drizzle the remaining oil on top. Roast for another 20 minutes or until cooked through and tender check by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear the chicken is cooked. Serve straight to the table with separate bowls of buttered sprouts and mashed potatoes and allow everyone to help themselves.

Cream of Onion Soup with Apple Juice and Thyme

Serves 4-6 as a starter or light lunch

This is an all-year-round soup, with a texture of a creamy broth. The long, slow cooking of the onions is essential. This brings out the sweetness and concentrates the flavour. The trick is not to colour the onions at all so you need the lowest heat and a lid on top of the lot to trap the steam and keep the moisture inside.

Good knob butter

2 large onions, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

1.5 litres/2½ pints chicken stock (from a cube will do)

100ml/3½ fl.oz cream

glass apple juice (good quality)

pinch English powder or 1 tsp prepared English mustard

pinch chopped fresh thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

garlic croutons and grated Cheddar, to serve

Melt the butter in a large heavy-based pan with a tight-fitting lid and once it is foaming, add the onions and bay leaf, stirring to coat. Reduce the heat right down, cover with the lid and cook for 30-40 minutes until the onions are golden brown and caramelised, stirring once or twice. Pour the stock into the onion mixture and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for another 10 minutes. Add the cream, apple juice, mustard, thyme and season to taste. Allow to just warm through and for all of the flavours to infuse. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and scatter over some garlic croutons and Cheddar to serve.

Roast Belly of Pork, Beetroot Tzatziki and Rocket

Serves 4

1 large onion, sliced into rings

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh sage, chopped

300ml/½ pint chicken stock

1.5kg/3lb pork belly, rind removed

150ml/¼ pint dry cider

8 whole cloves

pinch ground allspice

pinch ground cinnamon

75g/3oz Demerara sugar

2 handfuls rocket

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

For the Beetroot Tzatziki:

3 cooked beetroot, peeled and grated

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and grated

200ml/7fl.oz Greek yoghurt

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil

1 freshly grated horseradish or 1 tsp creamed horseradish

Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper

Roast potatoes, to serve (optional)

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas 2. Place the onion rings in a single layer in the bottom of a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the garlic and half of the sage, then pour in the stock. Sit the pork belly on top, then splash over the cider. Sprinkle over the remaining sage with the cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Season to taste and cover with foil. Bake for 3 hours until the pork is completely tender and very soft, basting occasionally. Remove the foil and sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top.

Increase the oven temperature to 200C/400F/gas 6 and return the pork to the oven for 20 minutes or until glazed and golden. Remove the pork to a warm plate and set aside to rest for at least 20 minutes.

To make the tsatziki: Place the beetroot in a bowl with the apple, Greek yoghurt, garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and horseradish. Mix well to combine, then cover with cling film and chill until needed. This will keep for up to 24 hours.

To serve: Place the rocket in a bowl and season to taste, then dress with the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Mix lightly to combine. Carve the rested pork into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with some of the roasted onion rings. Add the beetroot tzatziki to each one with mounds of the rocket salad. Serve with a large bowl of roasted potatoes, if required.

Daffodil Slice aka Lemon Sunburst

Makes about 8-10

150g/5oz self-raising flour

175g/6oz plain flour

325g/11½ oz icing sugar

250g/9oz butter, cut into cubes

4 eggs

325g/11½oz caster sugar

1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind

120ml/4fl.oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3. Line a 30cm/12in x 20cm/8in baking tin with non-stick parchment paper, leaving a 2cm/¾in lip at the top of the tin.

Place the self-raising flour in a food processor with 150g/5oz of the plain flour, a quarter of the icing sugar and the butter. Whizz until well combined and then spread into the bottom of the prepared tin. Bake for 20 minutes, or until firm and set, but not coloured.

Place the remaining 25g/1oz of plain flour in a bowl with the eggs, caster sugar, lemon rind and half the lemon juice. Whisk until well combined and then pour over the set biscuit base. Return to the oven and bake for another 25-30 minutes until risen well and golden brown. Leave to cool completely. Whisk the rest of the icing sugar and juice in a small bowl until smooth.

Remove the tray bake from the tin and carefully remove the baking parchment. Spread the lemon icing over the top, allowing it to drizzle down the sides and leave to set, then cut into slices and serve.

Foolproof food

Brussels Sprouts with Cidona

Serves 8

You might think this is a bit mad Paul Flynn admits, but try it. The sweetness of the drink balances the bitterness of the sprout, thereby making it child-friendly. It's a regular fixture in the Flynn household at Christmas.

675g/1½lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed

50g/2oz butter

300ml/½ pint bottle Cidona (carbonated apple drink)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the Brussels sprouts in a pan of boiling salted water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes until just tender. Drain and quickly refresh under cold running water. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film until needed up to 24 hours in advance. Heat a sauté pan and add the butter. Once foaming, tip in the blanched Brussels sprouts and sauté on a medium heat, turning every now and again until they start to lightly brown. Pour in the Cidona, increase the heat and simmer until all the liquid has absorbed into the sprouts, shaking the pan a couple of times. Season to taste and tip into a warmed serving bowl to serve.

Tip: If you have no Cidona use 7-Up!

Hot tip

Let's Eat out! Your Passport to Living Gluten and Allergy Free this recently published book is dedicated to eating outside the home while managing 10 food allergies including: corn, dairy, eggs, fish, gluten, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat.

Available from: 27 N Wacker Drive Suite 258, Chicago Il 60606-2800; Tel: 001 312 952 4900; Fax: 001 312 372 2770; www.glutenfreepassport.com

Crozier Dairy Products who make the delicious Crozier Blue Sheep's Milk Cheese have just launched a new product Crozier Sheep's Yoghurt 100% sheep's milk produced on their farm in Cashel, probiotic culture, very mild but distinct slightly sweet flavour.

Heading to County Mayo Look up JK Gannons, Ballinrobe. It's a family-owned hotel with pub and restaurant.

It is run by Jay and Nikki Gannon (one of our past pupils and third generation of the family.) Tel: 094-9541008; email: info@jkgannons.com; or visit: www.jkgannons.com

More in this section

Lifestyle
Newsletter

The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up