Madhur Jaffrey’s Rogan Josh

HERE in Ballymaloe we are so excited about the first ever Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine taking place in Ballymaloe House; at the Grain store and Ballymaloe Cookery School.

We have a fantastic line up of speakers over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

And it’s not just food, every wine buff’s hero Jancis Robinson MW and her husband Nick Lander restaurant critic for the Financial Times will give a presentation on the wine book, Wine Grapes — A complete guide to 1,368 vine varieties, including their origins and flavours, with a wine tasting.

We’ll have a whiskey tasting and Ger Buckley from Midleton Distillery will give a cooperage demonstration and we have iconic craft beer brewers (West Kerry, White Gypsy, Metal Man, 8 Degree…) They will all be part of the fringe events in the Big Shed at Ballymaloe.

Madhur Jaffrey is coming from New York to teach a class and a talk about our love affair with curry.

Claudia Roden will demonstrate recipes from her new book Food of Spain.

David Thompson, chef owner of Nahm restaurant, is coming from Bangkok to show us some of his favourite Thai street food.

Stevie Parle from Dock Kitchen in London, Thomasina Miers from Wahaca and Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes, and our own Donal Skehan, will strut their stuff.

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkley CA, Bill Yosses, pastry chef at the White House will tell us about Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden. And Stephanie Alexander whose project resulted in 295 Australian schools having gardens and kitchens for the children to learn how to grow and cook.

Budding writers will enjoy find much food for thought in sessions like Lucy Pearce’s Workshop, Food Writing for the Digital Generation (with Aoife Carrigy, Caroline Hennessy and Michael Kelly) on Saturday, May 4.

We reckon to have many more talks and exciting events for all the family, so check out www.litfest.ie for details.

Meanwhile here are some of my favourite recipes from the guests chefs to whet your appetite.

Thomasina Mier’s Green Chilli Vinaigrette

This is a delicious, bright salad dressing that is perfect for simple green salads.

2 green chillies

1 small clove of garlic

3 tbsp water

100ml (3½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

A tsp castor sugar

A handful of chopped coriander

Roast the chillies and garlic in a dry frying pan until they are blackened, blistered and soft (5-10 minutes approximately).

Remove the garlic skin and de-stem and de-seed the chillies. Check the heat of the chillies with the tip of your tongue.

If they are hot you may only want to use one. Roughly chop them and put in a blender with the garlic and the rest of the ingredients.

Blitz to a smooth-ish vinaigrette and serve at once (this dressing does not keep).

Claudia Roden’s Fruit Salad with Honey and Orange Blossom Water

From The Book of Jewish Cooking — for this delicately scented fruit salad, have a mix of fruit chosen from three or four of the following: peaches, nectarines, apricots, bananas, plums, grapes, apples, pears, strawberries, mangoes, melon, pineapple, dates, and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4

Juice of 1 large orange

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp orange blossom water

750g mixed fruit

To garnish:

A few mint leaves

Mix the orange juice, honey and orange blossom water straight into a serving bowl.

Wash or peel the fruits, core or remove stones and drop them in the bowl as you cut them up into pieces so that they do not have time to discolour.

Leave in a cool place for an hour or longer before serving, garnished with mint leaves.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Rogan Josh

From Foolproof Indian Cookery

Serves 4-6

5cm (2 inch) piece of fresh root ginger, chopped

7 garlic cloves, chopped

6 tbsp olive or groundnut oil

10 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

2½cm (1 inch) piece of cinnamon stick

2lb (900g) boneless lamb from the shoulder, or beef cut into 2½-4cm (1-1½ inch) cubes

7oz (200g) onions, finely chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1½ tbsp sweet, bright-red paprika

2 tsp tomato purée

1¼ tsp salt

10fl oz (300ml) water

Drop the ginger and garlic into a food processor or blender, add four tablespoons of water and blend to a paste.

Put the oil into a wide pan, preferably non-stick, and set it over a medium-high heat.

When it is hot, put in the cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.

Quickly put in the lamb pieces – only as many as the pan will hold easily in a single layer and brown on all sides.

Remove with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl. Brown the remaining meat in the same way.

Add the onions to the oil left in the pan. Cook, stirring, until they turn brown at the edges.

Add the paste from the blender and stir for 30 seconds. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne and paprika, stir once and then add the tomato purée.

Stir for 10 seconds.

Add the meat and any whole spices that are still clinging to it, plus the salt and water. Stir well and bring to the boil.

Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 1 hour or until the meat is tender.

If using beef, cook for 1½ hours rather than 1 hour.

David Thompson’s Nahm Sweet Pork

This sweet pork is addictive. The sugar balances the heat of the chillies. It is eaten as an accompaniment to nam priks (relishes).

Serves 4 as a nibble

10ozs (300g) pork shoulder or neck

4ozs (125g) sugar

1 tbsp water

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

2 tbsp water

10 shallots, sliced, dried and deep-fried until golden

Cook the pork in boiling water until cooked, then cut into ½cm (¼inch) cubes.

In a small pan combine the sugar and water and cook until it caramelises.

Add the pork, fish sauce, soy sauce and extra water. Simmer for five minutes until sticky.

Mix in the deep-fried shallots and serve.

Hot tips

Slow Food International and Sandbrook House are hosting the second International Slow Food Grandmothers Day Celebration on Sunday, Apr 21 at 11am-6pm.

There will be a celebration of Forgotten Skills and a series of workshops and demonstrations from some of Ireland’s most passionate Slow Food experts.

As well as myself, other people doing cookery demonstrations include Pamela Black and Niall Murphy and Sophie Morris of the Kookie Dough company.

Sign up for a hands on sausage making sessions with Ed Hick and a series of workshops and demonstrations on topics including butter, cheese and chocolate making, preserving, foraging, cooking bastible bread over the open fire will be free to attend.

Grandmothers are invited to bring along a favourite recipe that they would like to pass onto their grandchildren to include in a Slow Food Grandmother’s scrapbook. Admission is €10 with free entry to all children with one adult, free car parking and free entry to all workshops.

Cookery demonstrations are €10-€15 and are on a first come, first served basis. See www.grandmothersday.ie for more details.

There are two Herbal Health Talks in May by Herbalist Kelli O’Halloran at Ballyseedy Garden Centre, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork.

The Sneezing Season! How to prevent and alleviate the symptoms of hayfever with herbal medicines on Saturday, May 4, 10.30am–11.30am; Happy Heart Weekend Saturday, May 11, 10.30am–11.30am.

To coincide with the Irish Heart Foundation’s ‘Happy Heart Weekend’, Kelli looks at the natural herbal and dietary approach to preventing and reducing high cholesterol. Both talks cost €10, Slow Food Members €8, a cup of herbal tea included. Phone 087-9652822 to book.

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