WE’RE all still on a high from the Litfest. Apart from all the antics and stimulating talks, forums and panel discussions in the Grain Store and Big Shed, there was also a packed schedule at the Ballymaloe Cookery School with three and sometimes four events running simultaneously. This week I want to share some of my personal highlights.
However, I had exactly had the same frustrations this year as before. Having invited many more of my food heroes to Ballymaloe, I simply couldn’t get to many of the concurrent events but did get fantastic feedback. Allegra McEvedy has a cult following for her wholesome and gutsy food and her irreverent style further endears her to her fans. She gave a cookery demonstration of some of her best-loved dishes. The response to her delicious food was overwhelmingly delightful.
Arun Kapil, told the fascinating story of Green Saffron and his book Fresh Spice in a packed Blue Dining Room. A little while later multi award winning, Kevin Thornton spoke to a rapt audience about his travels in Ethiopia – the photographs in his book all styled and taken by Kevin himself showed another hugely creative side of this enormously talented chef.
Still staying with our Irish stars, Hugo Arnold and Leylie Hayes of Avoca gave a riveting three hour cookery demonstration of some of the iconic dishes that have made Avoca such a huge success. Later Jack Monroe, who shot to fame a number of years ago when she started a blog A Girl called Jack on feeding herself and her son on £10 sterling a week, gave an interactive cookery demonstration where people could bring a child along free of charge. Jack’s writing style is chatty and entertaining. Her food, brilliantly creative and delicious, illustrates how well you can eat on a miniscule budget when one have the cooking skills to transform a few inexpensive ingredients into a yummy meal.
Charlotte Pike, one of our past students, taught a fermentation workshop and packed a ton of information into a short time. Her fourth book Fermented will be published by Kyle Books on August 27.
Here’s some of the delicious new recipes from the chefs…
This started out as a curious thought in the back of my head — I know garlic softens and sweetens the longer you cook it, so could I make garlic jam? I scribbled some notes based on what little I know about jam making, dug out an old onion marmalade recipe to use as a rough guide, and promptly forgot all about it.
Then last weekend, I acquired some beautiful purple garlic bulbs, and the garlic jam pondering resurfaced… I spent a pleasant Sunday evening peeling and slicing 40 cloves of garlic, and ended up with 2 jars of this sweet, punchy, unapologetic condiment — I’ll be serving mine on toast with freshly sliced ripe tomatoes, or with buttery sautéed mushrooms, or dolloped on the side of some roast chicken.
Makes 2 small jars
350g (12oz) garlic cloves
A little oil
300g (10oz) sugar (I use caster)
70ml (2¾fl oz) white wine vinegar
70ml (2¾fl oz) white wine
6 thyme stalks, picked
Wash and rinse your jars and lids, and pop them on a baking sheet in a low oven, around 120C/250F/½ Gas Mark will do. Bake them for 10 minutes to sterilise them, then turn the oven off — without opening it — until you need the jars.
Peel and slice your garlic cloves and toss into a heavy-bottomed pan with the oil. Bring to a very low heat to soften for 10 minutes — don’t allow them to brown or burn.
(If you find peeling the cloves hard work, chop the top and bottom off and drop them into a jug or bowl of boiling water. Allow to soak for half an hour — they should slip right out of their skins.)
Pour over the vinegar, wine and half the sugar, and bring to the boil. Toss in the thyme leaves and reduce the heat back down to a simmer. Simmer for a further 15 minutes to soften, then mash with a masher to break up into small pieces.
Add the remaining sugar and stir well. Bring to the boil and boil vigorously for five minutes, stirring well to stop it sticking to the bottom. Add a splash more wine to loosen if necessary.
Remove from the heat and drop a teaspoon of the jam mixture onto a saucer. If it starts to set around the edges, it’s good to go.
Remove the jars from the oven — with a tea towel or cloth as they will be hot. Pour the jam carefully into the warm jars, and balance the lid on top to cool.
Once cooled, label and seal the lids, and store in the fridge or in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Taken from A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe
Here I have brought together two of my favourite cookies into a classic combination of peanut butter and jam. My small boy loves making the thumbprints in these and spooning in the jam, and it’s a happy rainy-day activity to do together — although having such tiny little thumbs, he does his with a teaspoon.
Makes 12 cookies
50g (2oz) butter, plus extra to grease the baking sheet
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp crunch peanut butter
8 tbsp self-raising flour (or 8 tbsp plain flour and 1 level tsp baking powder or bicarbonate of soda), plus extra to dust your hands
4 tbsp jam
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, and lightly grease a baking sheet in preparation.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until softened and well combined. Add the egg yolk and the peanut butter, and mix until the peanut butter is evenly distributed through the mixture. Spoon in the flour and stir to make a soft dough.
With lightly floured hands, break off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly with a fork.
Repeat with the rest of the dough. Using your thumb, or a teaspoon, make a deep well in the centre of each flattened ball of dough – the cookies will flatten and spread out slightly as they cook, so don’t be afraid to dig in!
Melt the jam slightly in a microwave for 30 seconds on a low setting, then spoon a little into the centre of each cookie.
Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden.
Try different flavour combinations, such as grated white chocolate in place of peanut butter and lemon curd instead of jam.
Or try dark chocolate with blackberry jam for a dark, delicious “Black Forest gateau” version.
Serve the cookies warm from the oven with a scoop of frozen yoghurt — try making your own Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Yoghurt.
Taken from A Girl called Jack by Jack Monroe
180g (6¼oz) plain flour
310g (11oz) coarse brown flour
50g (2oz) bran
25g (1oz) wheat germ
2½ heaped tsp baking powder
1 level tsp salt
100g (3½oz) mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, linseed, pumpkin), keep back 10g/½oz) to sprinkle on top of bread
50g (2oz) sultanas
50g (2oz) semi-dried apricots, chopped
1 generous tbsp treacle
600-700ml (1–1¼ pints) of milk
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the treacle and enough milk to make a moist dough, like stiff porridge.
Place the bread dough in a greased 900g (2lb) baking tin, sprinkle with the 10g (½oz) of mixed seeds you kept back and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until bread has risen, then reduce temperature by 10 degrees and continue cooking for a further hour.
The bread should be well browned and sounds hollow when turned out of the tin and tapped underneath. Leave on a wire rack to cool.
This bread is delicious served with either sweet preserves or equally nice with good cheese, smoked fish or charcuterie. Best eaten on the day it is made but delicious toasted on day two or three.
Copyright Leylie Hayes & Hugo Arnold
250g (9oz) freshly grated raw beetroot
200g (7oz) cooked chickpeas, coarsely blitzed
75g (3oz) minced mild white onion
40g (1½oz) light Tahini
2 large cloves of garlic crushed
50g (2oz) gram flour approximately
20ml (¾fl oz) sunflower oil
Generous tsp of cumin seeds
Generous tsp of coriander seeds
Freshly chopped coriander leaves to taste
Warm the cumin and coriander seeds on a dry pan for a few minutes until they release their natural fragrance. Grind them in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.
Place the beetroot, chick peas, onion, Tahini, garlic, oil, coriander and spices in a large bowl and mix well. Season the mixture generously with salt and freshly milled pepper. Add just enough gram flour to bring the mixture together to a consistency that will hold its shapes when rolled into little balls.
To cook the falafel, either deep fry in a deep fat fryer or alternatively shallow fry in a little sunflower oil until lightly browned and then transfer to a moderate preheated oven for 10 minutes.
A simple Tzatziki to serve with Falafel
Grate a whole cucumber, and place in a colander or sieve, sprinkle with a little sea salt and allow drain for around 20 minutes. Press the cucumber against the side of the sieve to extract as much excess moisture from it as you can. Then place in a large bowl mix with 125g (4½oz) thick Greek style yoghurt, 1 clove of crushed garlic, some freshly chopped mint and a little freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Copyright Leylie Hayes & Hugo Arnold
Find of the Week: A new artisan bacon from the Baltimore Pig Company in West Cork. I picked up a packet of dry cured rashers at Glebe Garden Shop in Baltimore. They had been cured in molasses and black pepper and smoked over hardwood. There were no nitrates and no preservatives so the bacon was a natural colour rather than a nitrate-induced pink. Looking forward to visiting the farm on Rath Hill near Baltimore. www.thebaltimorepig.ie
East Cork Slow Food Event: Mindy O Brien from Voice will give a talk on ‘Stop Food Waste’ at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday June 4 at 7pm. Enquiries 021 4646785 or email@example.com
Happy Anniversary to Midleton Farmers Market who are celebrating 15 years in operation today. Don’t miss the celebrations!
Sarit Packer & Itamar Srulovich from Honey & Co in London cooked a lunch at Ballymaloe House during the Litfest. The flavours thrilled the guests and frustrated those who couldn’t get tickets. But the good news is Sarit and Itamar are returning to the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday, June 6, to give a one-day course. Their restaurant Honey & Co is one of London’s most talked about. We love their fragrant Middle Eastern food packed with vibrant flavours. Booking essential 021 4646785 or www.cookingisfun.ie
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