Ballymaloe Fudge

HOTTIP: Cut into squares before it gets completely cold.

THE recent Web Summit in the RDS in Dublin brought to Ireland by brilliant young entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave blew people out of the water.

Paddy looks like a gangly curly haired cherub but can you imagine the crazy dreams inside that boy’s head.

Just 10 days before the third Web Summit he contacted Margaret Jeffares, Founder of Good Food Ireland and asked if she would take on the feeding of the 10,000 and so the inaugural Food Summit in association with Good Food Ireland was born.

What a blast. Over 60 Good Food Ireland members rose to the occasion. Margaret contacted Rory O’Connell and asked him to manage the project. It was a tantalising but terrifying one but an irresistible opportunity not to be missed to give 10,000 delegates from over 30 countries a taste of some of the very best food Ireland has to offer.

Good Food Ireland has organised many outstandingly successful events but this was on quite a different scale. It’s difficult to resist Margaret Jeffares’ passion to showcase the best of what Ireland has to offer.

Rory and herself put a plan together. A huge marquee was erected in Herbert Park close to the RDS. Kitchens were installed with the help of John Coughlan and his catering team.

Good Food Ireland members from all four corners of Ireland — chefs, farmers, fishermen, cheese makers and bakers, black pudding and sausage makers, fish smokers — arrived.

The response to the food was phenomenal — social media went crazy and Good Food Ireland trended on Twitter.

So many people spontaneously came up to the Good Food Ireland members to thank them for the food. Many people had voluntarily given up their days to give people a taste of the best of Irish Food.

Many of the chefs and producers were totally out of food after the first day so there were amazing stories of Good Food Ireland members toiling through the night to make or bake enough food to make up the thousands of portions needed by Rory O’Connell for the second day.

Here are just a few of the recipes for some of the dishes that elicited an enthusiastic response.

Ballymaloe Fudge 

Fudge was also a huge hit at the summit.

Makes 96 approx.

½ lb (225g) butter 

2 lbs (900g) castor sugar 

1 can evaporated milk 

7 fl ozs (200ml) water 

¼ tsp pure vanilla extract 

Swiss roll tin 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33cm) 

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat. Add the milk, water, sugar and vanilla extract and stir with a whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat to simmer, stir constantly until it reaches the ‘soft ball’ stage — 113C/235F.

To test, put some of the fudge in a bowl of cold water.

When ready pull off the heat. Stir vigorously until it thickens and reaches the required consistency – thick and sandy. Sit the base of the saucepan into a sink of cold water to stop the cooking. Pour into a Swiss Roll tin and smooth the surface with a spatula.

Allow to cool and then cut into squares before it gets completely cold.

Chickpea, Swiss Chard and Tomato Stew 

Gillian Hegarty of Ballymaloe House originally learned this recipe from Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers from the River Café in London.

Serves 6 – 8 

175 g (6 oz) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight 

1 large garlic clove, peeled 

6 tbsp olive oil 

900 g (2 lb) Swiss chard leaves, washed and large stems removed (set aside to use in the recipe) 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 red onion, peeled and sliced 

2 carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces 

1 head of celery outer stalks removed peeled and diced finely 

2 dried chillies, crumbled 

2 tsp of fresh picked thyme leaves 

3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped 

250 ml (8 fl oz) white wine 

2 tbsp tomato sauce 

3 handfuls flat leaf parsley chopped 

Extra virgin olive oil 

Drain the chickpeas and place in a saucepan with water to cover, add the garlic, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Keep in their liquid until ready to use. Blanch the chard leaves and chop coarsely. Chop the chard stalks into half inch pieces. 

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, add the onion and fry for a minute then season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and cook for a further 20 minutes stirring frequently until they have completely collapsed.

Add the carrot, Chard stalks and celery cook slowly for 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Season with salt, pepper and chilli. Add the garlic and thyme leaves. Cook for a further five minutes with the lid off. Pour in the wine and reduce almost completely. Add the tomato sauce and reduce until very thick. Add the chickpeas and mix. Season and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chopped chard leaves at the very end to retain their colour and freshness.

Chop the parsley just before you are about to serve, stir into the chickpeas, drizzle with about three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Mildly Spiced Curry of Dublin Grown Vegetables with Green Saffron Curry Spices 

From O’Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook, Dublin.

1 white onion, medium size – sliced thinly 

½ a head of broccoli 

½ a head of cauliflower 

2 carrots — medium sized – cubed 

2 peppers – red and yellow 

Any other root vegetable 

Fresh coriander – chopped 

For the Sauce: 

Coconut milk — 1 tin of 400 ml 

Double cream — 600ml 

1 tbsp korma curry spices (preferably Green Saffron Spices) 

100ml sweet chilli sauce 

Optional chilli flakes for a spicier taste 

Salt & pepper to taste 

First, fry the thinly sliced onions. Add korma curry spices and cook of about one minute. Stir well. Stir in the cream and the coconut milk. Add sweet chilli sauce and bring gently to the boil. Once the preparation reaches boiling point, reduce to ‘medium to low heat’ and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes or so until the sauce has thickened.

Season to taste. Whilst the sauce is simmering, steam the carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, until ‘al dente’ . You may decide to add other vegetable that you like to this selection. Whilst steaming the vegetables, do not overcook (as they will keep on cooking gently whilst being reheated in the sauce). Slice and ‘seed’ the peppers – slices 1cm wide. Roast the slices until ‘al dente’ (do not over roast — as mentioned above).

When the sauce has thickened enough (coating the back of a spoon), add the vegetables and mix well. Just before serving, add some chopped coriander to taste.

Hot Tips 

Ballyvolane House, recent winner in the Sunday Times Ultimate 100 British and Irish Hotels is collaborating again with Theatre Makers Ltd who brought Madame Chavelle to Ballyvolane last autumn. Playwright/actor/director Jack Healy will perform a one-man-show of the epic poem “The Great Hunger” by Patrick Kavanagh while guests eat a sumptuous dinner on Saturday, Nov 16, in the old barn at Ballyvolane House. Phone 025-36349 to book tickets, www.ballyvolanehouse.ie 

Some Winter Courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Garden Workshop: Creating a Fruit Orchard and Winter Pruning with Susan Turner Monday, Nov 25, 9am to 2pm. Learn how to choose fruit varieties for successional cropping, good storage ability and reliable resistance against pests and diseases; plant and stake a tree correctly; understand the pollination requirements for fruit trees when choosing varieties; identify the difference between fruit buds and vegetative buds; understand the difference between summer and winter pruning; formative pruning of newly planted trees; prune the cropping tree; rejuvenate an old orchard. Cost €95, lunch included. Phone 021-4646785 to book.

Sushi tastes great and it is quick to prepare, which makes it ideal and great fun for home entertaining. Sign up for a half-day course at Ballymaloe Cookery School with Darina Allen and Shermin Mustafa on Wednesday, Nov 27, from 9.30am to 2pm and learn how to prepare the more popular sushi dishes and how to make seven different types of sushi. Students will have the opportunity to taste all the Sushi prepared during the course. Lunch included. Phone 021-4646785 to book or www.cookingisfun.ie 


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