143 V Café’s Tips for a Delicious Veganuary!

I recently asked 143 V Café for top tips for Vegan lunch on the go for an article. Proprietor Lauren Marples came back with some - and a whole lot more. What couldn't be used in the article now has a home here!

These milkshakes are strictly for adults only. If, like me, you loved the Cocktail at Home craze of this Covid Year, you'll adore Hard Milkshakes. Just don't let the kids near them...

Rich Black Pudding combined with Irish Black Butter was a mad experiment that turned out delicious. Good for snaffling down with a glass of festive porter. A proper canape!

While researching for old Christmas cake recipes for an article, I came across lots of mentions of a Caraway Seed Cake that no-one seems to make anymore...

This is one from the archives that I had almost forgotten about, but it's so hugely fun to look at and easy to make, I've decided to recycle it for the blog! If nothing else, it'll make you giggle like a kid, plus it tastes pretty good too.

Bonfire Night in Ireland means something completely different to Bonfire Night in England. In Ireland, Bonfire Night is on 23rd June to celebrate St John’s Eve, and like most of Ireland’s feast days, the roots are in Celtic pagan times that cross over into religious celebrations.

When I say biscuit, its part that and partly scone. Bready and toothsome, deeply savoury and just about the perfect partner with a serving of Bangers & Colcannon or a hearty rooty soup to warm the cockles on a chilly day.

Not your everyday mix of ingredients, maybe, but trust me when I say that Pea and Anise are two flavours that are made to be together!

Yet more things to do with Broad Beans - essential when one's personal harvest has been (bean?) too successful! This is delish though, so do give it a whirl!

Necessity is the mother of invention, and having a garden full of different peas and beans means the creative streak is at peak these days! Broad Beans, or Fava Beans, are top of the menu at the moment. Serve them up with a nice Chianti, or some Feta - like in this simple salad!

This article was published in the July 2020 edition of The Opinion Magazine.

Earlier this year, I was interviewed by Katia Valadeau of ProperFood.ie for her brilliant series "Women of the Irish Food Industry" - thank you Katia for including me!

143 V Café’s Tips for a Delicious Veganuary!

I recently asked 143 V Café for top tips for Vegan lunch on the go for an article. Proprietor Lauren Marples came back with some – and a whole lot more. What couldn’t be used in the article now has a home here!

143 V Café opened in 2017, a diminutive and unfussy space serving scratch made vegan dishes for breakfast, brunch and lunch; coffee, fruit and veg juices as well as sinfully delicious sweet treats too.

It’s location on the Lower Glanmire Road, is just outside of the bubbling hub of the city centre in Cork, but the brisk 10 minute walk there is worth it, as these reviews by The McKenna’s and Joe McNamee for the Irish Examiner attest.

L-R: Lauren, sister Edel, mum Eileen, outside 143 V Café, Cork

When I asked Lauren for her top tips for Vegan Lunches On The Go, she kindly sent back far more information than I could fit into the article I was compiling for The Echo (due to be published on 18th January 2021). But such was the value of the information provided, it felt wrong to just cast it aside as a mere casualty of the cutting room floor in my edit, so I asked Lauren if I could share her information here instead – and she agreed.

Before we launch into this, which includes a weekly menu plan and a recipe for a delicious Vegan Chili Burrito Bowl, show 143 V Café some love by liking them on Facebook and Instagram. Just take a look at the grid for 143 V Café’s IG feed:

Lauren also wanted me to let you know that, if you are starting to get sick of the sight of your own kitchen during Lockdown 3, then help is at hand! A three-course vegan meal is available to order and collect for takeaway for the month of January. Check out the Menu below, then call them up to order on (021) 241 4204.

Veganuary 3-Course Menu for Takeaway in January by 143 V Café

Over to you Lauren…

Hi everyone, I’m Lauren Marples, owner of 143 V Cafe in Cork.

I am now celebrating 5 years since I became vegan. Some benefits I have noticed in that time have been an increase in my energy levels, I no longer feel bloated after I eat, I no longer suffer from PMS, and my muscle recovery time is so much faster after exercise – just to name a few! I have become in tune with my body because I am more conscious about what I eat. I’ve never enjoyed cooking as much as I have since going vegan as I have infinite opportunities to be creative and experiment with my meals.

Happy Veganuary and Happy Plant-based Cooking!

Week Lunch Plan

Planning ahead for lunchtime is essential to eat well on a plant-based diet – and especially during a lockdown when your usual lunchtime vegan eateries are not open or you find yourself once more working from home. Here are my tips for getting prepared for lunchtimes with some easy to make and make-ahead dishes that transport well if you are on the move, or perfect for lunchtime al-desko dining!

  • Monday: Burrito Bowl or Wrap
  • Tuesday: Tofu “Steak” Sandwich and Soup
  • Wednesday: Noodle Stir-Fry
  • Thursday: Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta
  • Friday: Chickpea Curry and Rice

Snack ideas to be brought every day:

  • Celery or Carrots Sticks + Hummus,
  • Fruit,
  • Vegan Yoghurt,
  • Nuts,
  • Vegan Protein Bars,
  • Energy Balls,
  • Chia Pudding,
  • Overnight Oats

Recipe for Chili Sin Carne for your Burrito Bowl:

This recipe allows for easily increasing the quantity of ingredients to scale up for batch cooking. Store in air tight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze.

Chili Sin Carne Burrito Bowl, by 143 V Café. Photo Credit: Lauren Marples.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Onions Diced
  • 1 Red/Yellow Pepper Diced
  • 1 Large Carrot Diced
  • 3 Cloves of garlic Chopped Finely
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 tin of your favourite beans (kidney or adzuki or black beans) or a mixture
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes or 500ml passata or 10 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 chili
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup of Soy Mince TVP (Organic + Non GMO)
  • Season with salt and pepper

Method:

  • In a large saucepan, sautée the onions. Add the garlic, peppers, and carrots.
  • Add the tomatoes, chili, sweetcorn and beans. Bring to the boil and let simmer.
  • Add the soy mince, smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy in a wrap, or with rice and guacamole and don’t forget your favourite vegan cheese.

Huge thanks to Lauren for this guest blog post, and a happy Veganuary!

Hard Milkshakes

These milkshakes are strictly for adults only. If, like me, you loved the Cocktail at Home craze of this Covid Year, you’ll adore Hard Milkshakes. Just don’t let the kids near them…

A few years ago, I found myself in London by myself for one night. I was going to be spending a couple of days there with my Dad, but he wasn’t due to arrive up on the train until the following day. I was in a part of London I wasn’t very familiar with, it was winter, very dark, cold and wet. I needed entertainment, but I didn’t want to stray too far.

I opened up Google Maps to see what I could find. I saw some quite wonderful reviews for a two-screen cinema just a short walk from the hotel that seemed to be my idea of heaven: a great little movie theatre doing rave burgers (by all accounts), and with an interior that looked as though the entire place was licked in soft velvet in tones of mustard yellow, scarlet red and teal.

I grabbed my handbag and went out into the night. While I waited for the movie to start (I think it was Hamburger Hill – I do love a war movie), I ordered the burger with indecent amounts of blue cheese and French fries. At the bottom of the menu, I spied something called “Hard Milkshakes”… Obviously, I ordered one, and then ordered another one to take into the screen with me. Needless to say, I don’t remember much about the movie, except there was a line that could have won Cringiest Movie Line Ever and that the main actor did a lot of rope pulling and had very sore hands by the end of it.

The Hard Milkshake however…well, that has stayed with me ever since; and seeing as this Christmas is all about throwing out the rule book, I figured why stay tame with dainty little cocktails when you can unleash your inner punk and go all out brassy with a hard milkshake – or three…

I have two tips for this: Firstly, just stick with vanilla ice cream. You wanna taste the booze, so confusing the whole thing with fancy flavoured ice cream will cool the mood significantly. Secondly, use whatever booze you like – I mean you could even use stout if you wanted, and it would be rather festive! I like dark rum (especially a spiced dark rum), vodka, cherry brandy or something like a port cask aged whiskey.

Are you gasping? What am I at? Taking a beautifully crafted cask aged whiskey and firing it into a Milkshake? Yes, yes I have told you to do that. Now shut up and make one, and then you can come back and apologise to me properly.

Hard Milkshake – definitely not for kids…

Ingredients

  • Large handful of ice cubes
  • 150ml good quality vanilla ice cream (softened)
  • 60ml whole milk
  • 50ml of booze
  • Whipped Cream and garnishes (thick chocolate, cherries, crumbled cookie pieces etc – frankly, the trashier looking the better!)

Method

Combine everything except the whipped cream and garnishes in a blender and blitz on a high speed until smooth.

Decant into a glass vessel of some kind (you could go completely rouge an pop it an old jam jar for instance), top with whipped cream and garnishes, land in a paper straw and flounce about the place drinking your Hard Milkshake completely in love with Christmas!

Black Pudding Truffles

Rich Black Pudding combined with Irish Black Butter was a mad experiment that turned out delicious. Good for snaffling down with a glass of festive porter. A proper canape!

Irish Black Butter isn’t butter at all, but an old Irish tradition that goes back hundreds of years to a time when Armagh was known as The Orchard of Ireland. It’s made of apples, a thick rich spiced conserve that is Ireland’s answer to quince jelly!

Irish Black Butter is made from Armagh Bramley Apples (an EU PGI protected variety of apple), cider, brandy and spices. It’s versatile, good as a savoury or sweet accompaniment with cheese and meats, as a glaze, spread on bread or even mixed into natural yogurt!

It’s a taste I find I need to get accustomed to, and because of that I often look at it in my fridge pleading with me to find something to do with it that I find tasty and interesting!

I received a #gifted box of traditional pork products from O’Herlihy’s in Ballincollig, a family business about to celebrate its 60th year in business in 2021. They do porky products that have a distinct nostalgic quality to them (their sandwich ham has a fabulous texture and taste you don’t often get in packed ham anymore, and they also do sliced corned beef the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was a kid!).

In amongst all the porkie goodies was a chub of their family recipe black pudding. Made from pork, oatmeal and a gentle peel of spices, its a little smoother than other black puddings that frequent this house, which happens to make it very good for molding!

So I had the idea to pair O’Herlihy’s Black Pudding from Co Cork with Irish Black Butter from Co Antrim and made these glorious little Black Pudding Truffles – an absolutely divine combination of flavours, you must try these!

There are a little fiddly to make, so take your time; and chilling the truffles well before crumbing and frying them is essential if you don’t want them to fall apart in the fryer! Do try them, you’ll be so surprised how good they are!

Black Pudding Truffles

Ingredients

  • 300g chub of O’Herlihy’s Black Pudding
  • 3 tbsp of Irish Black Butter conserve
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying

Method

  • Into a bowl, crumble in the black pudding and gradually massage it into a softer, more malleable paste.
  • Take about 1 tablespoon sized amount of the black pudding into your hands and gradually press and form into a ball. Repeat until finished.
  • Take each ball and, forming a cup shape with one hand, press the ball out to create a small bowl shape. Turn and shape keeping the meat all together. Take the time to do this, thinning and lengthening the walls of the ‘cup’ to create a space to drop in the Black Butter paste.
  • Using a spoon or a piping bag if you have one, put in about a 1/4 teaspoon of Black Butter into the dip.
  • Then start to close the sides of the cup over the conserve to reform the black pudding into a ball again. Set aside and repeat until they are all done. It is a messy job!
  • Chill the formed truffles in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a deep-sided saucepan pan or a deep fat fryer to a medium high heat. Coat the Black Pudding Truffles in panko breadcrumbs (or whatever breadcrumbs you have to hand) and drop carefully into the hot oil to quickly deep fry. When the breadcrumbs are golden brown, gently take them out of the oil and drain on a piece of kitchen paper.

Plate up and enjoy!

Apple & Caraway Seed Cake

While researching for old Christmas cake recipes for an article, I came across lots of mentions of a Caraway Seed Cake that no-one seems to make anymore…

So I asked around, and it turns out those who remember it from their childhood never used to like it because of the caraway seeds. One person told me they used to fastidiously pluck out every single seed before they would eat it.

Now, to some this kinda feedback might dissuade you from the desire to taste such a thing. But if you’re me, and I am, then this simply yells *challenge* – after all, how bad could it be?

I happen to love the flavour of caraway seeds which puts me at an obvious advantage to those who don’t. I’m sure when this cake was the height of popularity in Cork, it was considered sophisticated for its use of such spices. Cork being a major trading hub for all kinds of foods coming into Ireland from near and far thanks to the international butter trade, to be so extravagant as to put such exoticisms into a tea cake is a display of Total Notions for which you only truly get away with at Christmas time!

Caraway seeds are used a lot in German cookery. It is often mixed with sauerkraut and used as a topping on a bratwurst along with hot mustard. It is also combined with apples for a very traditional Bavarian accompaniment to roast Goose. It is also used to flavour breads, biscuits and cookies, so it is versatile for use in both sweet and savoury dishes. I love it!

But to pull the Irish Caraway Seed Cake out of purgatory and turn it into something altogether more indulgent, I took inspiration from apples to really elevate this tea cake into something much more indulgent and festive!

And here’s how you do it…

Apple and Caraway Seed Cake

Ingredients

  • 180g soft unsalted butter
  • 150g white caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 225g all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tbsp whole caraway seeds, toasted
  • 4 tsbp / 50ml of apple liqueur (I used Kilahora Orchards Pomm’O)
  • 150g fresh apple puree
  • Royal icing sugar and either a dash more apple brandy or apple juice
  • Chocolate covered apple sticks to decorate (I like Lismore Food Co)

Method

To make the apple puree, peel, core and quarter 4 – 6 apples in a saucepan with a dash of water. Cover and cook until broken down into pulp. Spoon out into a bowl, set aside and allow to cool. Any puree you don’t use for the cake will be lovely used for breakfast in porridge or with yogurt.

  • Set the oven temperature to 170 degrees Celsius, fan.
  • In a dry frying pan over a medium high heat, toast the caraway seeds lightly then place into a small bowl to cool.
  • Grease a cake tin, either a 20cm circular spring form or a 1lb loaf tin.
  • Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl, and beat together until light and fluffy. Using an electric whisk of some kind makes this even easier!
  • Add the eggs one by one and whisk each one in until fully combined.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into the same bowl. Add half the amount of caraway seeds and fold the mixture together.
  • Then add the apple liqueur and the apple puree. Beat together to form a light batter.
  • Pour into the cake/loaf tin, and bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking at 50 minutes. Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is cooked.
  • Take out the oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Mix up some royal icing with either the apple liqueur or apple juice to a consistency you like. I like mine not too thick, more like a frosting. Pour over and let drizzle down the sides of the cake a little.
  • Garnish the cake with the remaining caraway seeds and chocolate dipped apple sticks.

Cut a generous slice, and, leaving all the seeds in situ, devour with a freshly brewed pot of tea, or even a snifter of apple brandy. Enjoy…

Spooky Punch with Blueberry Eyeballs!

This is one from the archives that I had almost forgotten about, but it’s so hugely fun to look at and easy to make, I’ve decided to recycle it for the blog! If nothing else, it’ll make you giggle like a kid, plus it tastes pretty good too.

And of course there is always the option to ‘Go Hard’ with this by adding it a decent amount of vodka, but maybe wait until the kids have had their share first before doing that!

For an extra bit of fun, serve it in one of those old-fashioned champagne saucers!

Spooky Punch & Blueberry Eyeballs

Ingredients (makes enough for about 15 servings):

  • 1 ltr of Cranberry juice
  • ½ ltr of Apple juice
  • 150ml of Grenadine syrup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Handful of blueberries

Method:

  • Get a couple of disposable gloves (food grade, not the Marigolds!), fill with water and tie off at the end. Place in the freezer.
  • In an ice cube tray place a blueberry in each compartment, fill with boiled and cooled water and place in the freezer.
  • In a large transparent bowl, place in the juices and syrup and mix together. Decorate around the base of the bowl with spooky fairy lights.
  • When the water filled gloves and blueberry ice cubes are frozen solid, pop them out and place in the bowl.
  • Hey presto Spooky Punch with Ghostly Hands and Blueberry Eyeballs!

Mwahahahahaaa!

This recipe was featured along side two others (Mini Toffee Apples and Goulish Fruits) in the Autumn 2017 edition of West Fork Magazine with the Southern Star:

West Fork Magazine, Autumn 2017

Bangers and Colcannon

Bonfire Night in Ireland means something completely different to Bonfire Night in England. In Ireland, Bonfire Night is on 23rd June to celebrate St John’s Eve, and like most of Ireland’s feast days, the roots are in Celtic pagan times that cross over into religious celebrations.

To burn bonfires on St John’s Eve is to herald the start of a good harvest as well as the usual pagan nods to fertility, and close to the summer solstice as well.

Penny for the Guy (telegraph.co.uk)

In England, Bonfire Night is 5th November and celebrates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 by Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament, overthrow the Protestant King James I and restore Catholicism as the dominant faith. As kids, every year at home in Bristol, my sister and I would make an effigy of Guy Fawkes using old clothes donated by Dad or Grandad. The ends of the trouser legs were tied and stuffed with newspaper; an old shirt or jumper the same, the arms tied off at the end; and either a balloon or a plastic shopping bag, stuffed with paper with a face drawn on it for the head. Local kids would sit outside shops or go house to house with their Guy asking, “Penny for the Guy” and on Bonfire Night, Dad would place our Guy on top of the bonfire and light it. We’d let off fireworks in the back garden and hope the sparklers wouldn’t burn our hands! Afterwards, we’d all tuck into Bangers and Mash, hot apple juice and Cinder Toffee.

One of the first party nights I hosted at our home in West Cork was to recreate Guy Fawkes night. I remember that year feeling a little homesick and deeply nostalgic for the things I had grown up with and known my whole life. Ireland and England may only be a short hop across the Irish Sea, but at times, the customs and traditions can be hugely different. Bonfire Night being one of them. It was a crisp, clear chilly night, just like I remember from childhood. Bonfires and fireworks are illegal in Ireland, except for strictly controlled events, so instead we lit our firepit, wrote our names in the night air with sparklers, whacked a piñata and let off glitter bombs. Then we all tucked into our food and warmed our hands around hot cups of mulled cider, apple juice for the children, and stood around the fire pit sharing stories.

What precisely constitutes Colcannon is ferociously debated in Ireland. I recently attended a talk about it where I learned that in some parts of New Foundland where there is a huge Irish ex-pat community going back generations, their Colcannon doesn’t have any potatoes in it all! In Wexford, it’s quite typical to have parsnips in the Colcannon, or to boil the potatoes and cabbage together and mash it up in one big pot. But it would always have cabbage in it – although traditionally not Kale.

However, Kale is a type of brassica, so while it might not be the traditional variety of cabbage usually the staple of Irish Colcannon, I like it and, along with the scallion/spring onions, and an almost obscene amount of butter, makes for a seriously tasty plate of spuds. When it comes to the bangers (sausages), get the best quality you can and cook slowly – I usually place them in a cold frying pan and cook for up to 30 minutes over a low to medium heat turning every five minutes or so. Likewise, with the onion gravy: take your time! Time is the secret ingredient in truly brilliant onion cookery, so don’t rush it. Comfort food should never be rushed anyway – in my mind both the cooking and eating of food like this is what calms the soul and nourishes the body.

Bangers & Colcannon

Ingredients

  • 8 pork sausages, minimum meat content 80%
  • 1 kg of floury potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 250 g butter, cubed
  • 50 ml whole milk
  • Bunch of Russian Kale (apx 2 handfuls)
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 tbsp parsley (any kind), finely chopped
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled, halved and sliced
  • Olive oil and butter
  • 100 ml red wine
  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • 250 ml chicken or beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Place the sausages into a cold frying pan, place over a low heat and cook slowly, turning every few minutes to brown all over. Add a little olive oil if your sausages are a high meat, low fat content. Depending on the size of sausages, cooking could take up 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the potatoes into a pan of salted water, bring to the boil. Do not cook to the point of mush, the potatoes must hold their shape.
  • Drain and allow to airdry in a colander for 10 minutes. Return to the pan and break the potatoes down with a masher, if you have a potato ricer you can use that instead. Begin to the add the butter a few cubes at a time and beat through using a wooden spoon. Repeat until you have a creamy texture. You may not need to use all the butter.
  • Add the milk, you may not need all the milk, it depends how floury your potatoes are.
  • I prefer not to cook my kale and scallions. The kale will wilt gently amongst the warm potatoes and that is sufficient. Remove the kale stems and finely slice the leaves. Top and tail the scallions and finely slice into rounds. Mix all through the potatoes with the chopped parsley.
  • Season with black pepper and salt to taste.
  • Place the colcannon into a serving dish, cover with parchment paper and place in the oven, no more than 100 degrees Celsius, to keep warm.
  • For the onion gravy, into a saucepan over a low-medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and a knob of butter. Add the onions and stir to coat with the fats. Cover with a lid and cook the onions down slowly, stirring every now and again. The onions should brown but be careful not to burn. This should take between 15-20 minutes, the longer the better.
  • Add the red wine and allow the alcohol to cook off for a minute. Then add stock and thyme leaves. Stir and cook uncovered for the stock to reduce and thicken.
  • Serve up the sausages on a large serving platter, alongside the bowl of creamy colcannon and a large jug of the onion gravy.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin & Rosemary Biscuits

When I say biscuit, its part that and partly scone. Bready and toothsome, deeply savoury and just about the perfect partner with a serving of Bangers & Colcannon or a hearty rooty soup to warm the cockles on a chilly day.

Mr Flavour swears he can taste bacon in these biscuits but I assure him there’s not, because there isn’t. Pumpkins and squash have magical properties: they are the chameleon of the food world, able to be sweet and savoury and can evoke buckets of umami. That’s what he was picking up as he scoffed into a freshly baked batch. I hope!

I recommend steaming the squash, rather than roasting and boiling, to reduce moisture intake (boiling) and moisture release (roasting). Steaming retains the pumpkins goodness, natural sweetness and shape. After steaming to perfection, I allow to just sit and air for about 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter if the squash gets cool because it’s going into the dough and then being baked anyway, but its an important step in getting rid of any excess moisture which can impact texture and rise. I like to roughly mash, mostly smooth but with some texture, to add a little bit of bite and interest to the finished scone.

The dough that you made will be quite sticky, so prepare to feel deeply uncomfortable when you’re handling the dough! Also, I can’t legislate for the type of pumpkin or squash you will use – there are so many varieties and each will have a different water content. So just be aware that if you are looking at your dough thinking: this can’t be right, it’s too wet, it probably is so just add a little more flour until such time as you have a dough that you can pick up and handle – but is still quite sticky too!

I use buttermilk for an extra hit of savouryness, but you can of course use normal milk.

Pumpkin & Rosemary Scones

Ingredients (makes 12 – 14 scones using a 6cm cutter)

  • 275g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 60 g butter (chilled and cubed)
  • 125 ml buttermilk (+ a little extra to brush with)
  • 250 g pumpkin/squash, peeled, deseeded, cubed, steamed until tender and mashed/pureed
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius, fan
  • Add the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, nutmeg and rosemary into a bowl.
  • Add the cubes of chilled butter and crumble through to create a breadcrumb texture.
  • Add the buttermilk and mashed/pureed pumpkin and stir everything together to combine well and to create a sticky dough.
  • Flour the works surface and turn out the dough. Knead lightly into a smooth dough and form into a round about 2cm thick.
  • Cut out the dough using a 6cm cutter and place on a lined baking tray. Gather the remaining dough up, and reform to cut out more. Repeat until all the dough has been used up.
  • Brush each scones lightly with some buttermilk and scatter toasted pumpkin seeds on top.
  • Place in the oven and back for about 20-25 minutes until doubled in size, golden and cooked through.
  • Serve up with Bangers and Colcannon, or slather with the Pumpkin Spice and Maple Butter as a delicious mid-day snack.

Enjoy!

Pea, Prawn, Pistachio & Tarragon Risotto

Not your everyday mix of ingredients, maybe, but trust me when I say that Pea and Anise are two flavours that are made to be together!

I first came across the flavour pairing of prawn and pistachio many years back when I was running the Supper Club from Scannell’s Pub in Clonakilty. I was working with a young and gifted head chef, Izaak Bradley, and he told me to trust him that these flavours would blow my mind. And they did! Ever since I have been promising myself to attempt a dish with those flavours.

So in part this dish is inspired by that dish, but it is also a dish that comes out of necessity. You see, along with pretty much everything else in my garden this year, the peas are very, very abundant; as is French Tarragon – a herb I absolutely adored as a kid and usually linked to a Sunday roast chicken – the only dish Mum used tarragon in.

But what goes together with peas but tarragon! It’s sweet, grassy, aniseed notes are a match made in heaven. It also goes well with prawns. And so the four flavour pillars of this risotto meet together! To further enhance the flavour relationship, I swapped out white wine typically used in risottos for Vermouth.

As ever, a risotto is a risotto is a risotto – there really is only one way to cook one; but the potential for different flavours combinations is huge! You’ll find quite a few risotto recipes on The Flavour Files, and many of them are best suited to cooler, darker days when all that will suffice is a big hug in a bowl. But this one is lighter and brighter, perfectly suited to late summer when peas are at their plumpest and sweetest.

Pea, Prawn, Pistachio & Tarragon Risotto

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 large / 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 225 g (or 1 cup) or risotto rice
  • 150 ml white vermouth
  • 850 ml good quality hot stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 250 g fresh / frozen peas
  • 250 g prawns (rinsed and dried)
  • 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped (or 1 tsp of dried)
  • 50 g pistachio nuts, shelled and roughly chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt, pepper and EVO

Method

  • I like to use a deep saute pan when I cook risotto, but if you don’t have one a large frying pan would do too.
  • Heat the pan over a low-medium heat. Add the oil and the shallots and saute gently with the lid on until translucent. Add the garlic, stir.
  • Add the risotto rice and stir so it soaks up all the onion and garlic juices. Turn up the heat to medium, and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the vermouth, stir until the liquid has been soaked up.
  • Start to add the stock, a ladle-full at a time. Stir the risotto constantly, only adding more stock as the previous stock has been soaked up by the rice. This will happen quickly at first, but slow down the more stock is added.
  • Once about half the stock has been incorporated, add the peas. Continue to add stock and stir.
  • Taste the rice, when it is almost cooked through add the fresh prawns. Keep stirring.
  • At this point you may have left over stock or you may need to add a little more. The rice should not be chalky, but not be too soft; and the risotto itself should be able to hold shape but not be too thick and stodgy or too watery. I find that risotto texture depends on the person – I prefer mind to retain a little body when served rather than a soupy mess, but it is up to yourself!
  • Grate a decent amount of parmesan – don’t be shy about it! Add a handful or so to the risotto and stir through to melt into the rice.
  • Add the fresh tarragon. Check for seasoning, add a little more salt if needs me and a couple grinds of black peppercorns.
  • Serve up on warmed plates. Scatter about with chopped pistachios and more of the grated parmesan. Finish everything off with a little drizzle of excellent quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Serve this risotto up with a simple leaf salad, and a glass of crisp, cool, summery rose wine.

Deeply Dippy Broad Bean Dip

Yet more things to do with Broad Beans – essential when one’s personal harvest has been (bean?) too successful! This is delish though, so do give it a whirl!

Is it a dip? Is it a hummus? Is it a pesto? I’m not sure to be honest, but what I do know is that it can any of the above, but most importantly what it definitely is is DELICIOUS!

It is also really simple. So, if like me you are staring down the barrel of another three to four weeks of non-stop bean eating, this little whizzo of a dish will make a refreshing change in how to eat your beautiful sweet Broad, (Fava), Beans!

I created this the same night I tested out the Retro Tuna Plait recipe, and the two things together were just amazing!

Deeply Dippy Broad Bean Dip

Ingredients (makes about 200 ml of dippy/hummusy/pestoy/saucy thing)

  • 2 generous handfuls of Broad Beans in their pods
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Natural Yogurt
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

  • Pod, skin and blanch the Broad Beans.
  • Place all the ingredients into a blender/processor, and blend until smooth.
  • If a little too rough, add more yogurt a little at a time until the mix blends into an almost smooth consistency. I like a little texture to my hummus, but some prefer their totally smooth, so blend according to your preference.
  • Place in a bowl, drizzle a little more EVO over the top. I decorated mine with a vibrant orange nasturtium flower (edible), but herb flowers, calendula petals or some other edible flower would make a lovely garnish against the fresh green colour of the dish.

Although I used this like a vegetable condiment to my Retro Tuna Plait, this goes really well as a topping for toasted sourdough crostini; a dip for crudities, or even swished through long pasta with heaps of grated parmesan and black pepper.

Fava & Feta Salad

Necessity is the mother of invention, and having a garden full of different peas and beans means the creative streak is at peak these days! Broad Beans, or Fava Beans, are top of the menu at the moment. Serve them up with a nice Chianti, or some Feta – like in this simple salad!

I grew up eating Broad Beans – and hated them. But that was because we never did the double-podding – we were all about maximum fibre in our house, so the pods came off but the skins stayed on. Being an adult has at least some advantages, in that now I am prepared to sacrifice a small amount of additional food prep time to pod and skin my broad beans and the rewards are worth it.

Sweet, nutty, grassy Broad, or Fava Beans, especially when they are medium sized in their pods, are just wonderful eaten raw. But if this doesn’t sit right with you, (or if you are someone partial to a bit of gustatory fluctuation when it comes to beans), a quick blanch for a mere minute should help you get around this!

So aside from the time taken to double-pod your beans, the rest of this salad will be ready in about five minutes. I served it up with some Ras al Hanout spiced and BBQ’s chicken thighs with some potatoes and leaves from the garden too, but this also works well as a topping for sourdough crostini.

Fava & Feta Salad

Ingredients (serves 2, scales up easily):

  • 2 or 3 large handfuls of Broad Beans in their pods
  • 125 g Feta cheese
  • 25 g pine nuts, toasted (you could also use flaked almonds)
  • 1 spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced on the round
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt, Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest and juice from 1/4 of a lemon
  • Handful of herbs, roughly chopped: oregano and chive work well.

Method:

  • Remove the beans from their pods, remove the skin. If the beans are small to medium sized and sweet, they can be eaten raw. Any bigger and I would recommend blanching for about a minute before refreshing in iced water. If the thought of eating raw beans isn’t for you, whatever the size of the bean, then do this too!
  • Drain the beans, place into a bowl.
  • Crumble over the feta cheese, add the spring onion.
  • Toast the pine nuts (or flaked almonds) in a dry pan. Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Sprinkle the Sumac over the beans and feta. Add a small pinch of sea salt (the feta will already be salty), and a grind of black peppercorns.
  • Add the lemon zest and juice and a generous glug of EVO (about 1 tablespoon). Chuck in the herbs.
  • Mix all together and serve.

Enjoy…with a nice glass of Chianti, maybe. Fuhfuhfuhfuhfuhfuh…!

Get Creative with your BBQ this Summer

This article was published in the July 2020 edition of The Opinion Magazine.

I just adore cooking and eating outside. The incredibly good weather of late has meant, here at Flavour HQ, that we are doing both a lot more and improving our low and slow cooking game, experimenting with different heat, charcoal and smoke too.

There are two things you need to know about Barbecuing. Firstly, you really don’t need to spend a lot of money on a BBQ to get good results. If you want to put your money somewhere, invest in good quality charcoal that will give you a long, slow burn time opening up options for both fast and slow cooking. Secondly, pick good ingredients and think outside the box when it comes to what to cook. You can cook burgers and sausages any day of the week inside over electric or gas, but if you’re going to the time and trouble to build a good stack of embers then think differently about what to cook too.

Here are some of my favourite things to Barbecue – hope this inspires you to try something different too!

Try Different Meats

Ballinwillin House in Mitchelstown raises free range, organic venison, wild boar and goat; Skeaghnore offer duck winglets which are great cooked low and slow, and from Twomey’s Butchers there is rich Buffalo meat. These meats are a great alternative to beef, pork, lamb and chicken. Burgers made from wild boar and buffalo are incredible in both flavour and texture, or marinade chunks of goat meat and make the best Souvlaki skewers with buffalo halloumi ever tasted!

Try Different Cuts

Caherbeg/Rosscarbery Recipes are offering the most incredible Cote de Boeuf directly from them or for collection via your nearest Neighbourfood. Cote de Boeuf is a prime rib steak on the bone from grass-fed cows; the fat marbling and bone all lend extra wonderful flavour during cooking. Cook over indirect hot embers, and, if you have some, a sweet smoke wood block or hickory chippings, until medium rare. One Cote de Boeuf will feed between 4-6 people depending on what else is served with it.

Caherbeg Cote du Boeuf

Fresh Chorizo

Swap traditional sausages for something with infinitely more bang! Fresh chorizo, (important not to use the dried cured chorizo), cooked on the BBQ is heaven. Cook in the same way you would traditional sausages, but instead over indirect heat (this means pushing white hot coals to one side of the BBQ and food items the opposite side allowing for slower, gentler cooking). The high fat content of fresh chorizo will start to render down, caramelising the outside and intensifying the sweet, spicy, smoky flavours of the chorizo. Incredible!

Smoked Garlic and Onions – cooked direct on the coals

Fish and Shellfish

Fresh fish cooked on the BBQ is heaven! Skewer fresh shell-on langoustines to prevent them from curling up and cook quickly over a high heat until slightly charred and sweet. Get a fish cage and place inside a gutted whole fish, (e.g. sea bream or red snapper); brush the skin with a little oil, salt and pepper, fill the cavity with slices of lemon, parsley and dill. If you have a Dutch Oven, fill with fresh, cleaned mussels; add butter, white wine, garlic, lemon and herbs and cook directly on the coals, lid on, until the shells open. Serve in the Dutch Oven with chunks of crusty bread.

Vegetables

Vegetables become magical cooked over the coals. These are my favourites!

Sweet Corn: This time of year, you will see fresh sweetcorn for sale still in its husks. Simply place the whole thing on the BBQ over indirect heat for about an hour. When cooked, pull back the husk and cook for another five minutes. Served lashed with melted butter, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime.

Pork Ribs & Charred Sweet Corn

Aubergine: Over a high heat, even while still flaming, cook aubergines turning every couple of minutes until the skin in completely burnished. This might take 10 minutes or more depending on size of the aubergine. Take off the heat, cut open and scoop out the tender, pulpy flesh into a bowl. Add garlic, tahini paste, extra virgin olive oil, salt, lemon zest and juice and mash together to make a paste. Add pepper and finely chopped parsley, check for seasoning. Serve drizzled with more olive oil and garnish with pomegranate seeds if you have them. This is Baba Ganoush and it is so much better than hummus!

Charred Broccoli with Pomegranate Molasses and Spiced Almonds

Sweet Potatoes: Two ways I like best. Leave whole, prick all over and rub the skins with olive oil. Place on low indirect heat and cook for an hour or until they are soft to the touch. Slice in half and season with sea salt and pepper. Alternatively, cut into 5cm chunks and place on a piece of foil, season with olive oil, whole garlic cloves, rosemary, salt and pepper. Tie up into a parcel and place next to the coals to cook for about 25-30 minutes. You can also do this with regular white potatoes.

Sweet Potato with Oregano and Garlic

Dessert

Two of my favourite fruits to cook on a BBQ are peaches and pineapples.

Peaches: Slice in half and remove stone. If not serving this to kids, brush with a little bourbon on the cut side. Place face down on the BBQ for 5 minutes, turn and repeat. They are done when the fruits are soft but still hold their shape. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Nolwen’s Street Food salted caramel sauce.

Pineapple: Peel and core the pineapple then cut lengthways into 6-8 pieces. Place on the BBQ and turn every minute or so until they begin to caramelise all over. Serve with a simple sugar syrup flavoured with dark rum, fresh finely chopped chilli and mint and lime zest; and ice cream.

ProperFood.ie Interview

Earlier this year, I was interviewed by Katia Valadeau of ProperFood.ie for her brilliant series “Women of the Irish Food Industry” – thank you Katia for including me!

Access the interview here: http://www.properfood.ie/kate-ryan/

Kate Ryan is a woman I admire.
I first met Kate Ryan, just like I met Jennifer Opperman, around a table, on a panel for the Irish Quality Food Awards. Her fierce passion and deep knowledge of all things Irish food was obvious from the very start. I have read her work for many years now and I always feel inspired by the amount of detail she puts in her storytelling.

I’m going to say it loud and proud, I think Kate Ryan is a fantastic writer and I can’t wait to go on one of her famed food tours.

I’m talking to women in the Irish food industry. How did your career path bring you here?
Very circuitously! I always wanted to be a barrister, and got into one of the best law schools in the UK, but realised I was probably a bit too soft for the law so ended up moving away from that dream. From 21 to 35 then, I worked for a lot of different companies in the private and public sector in project management and procurement while trying to figure out what I was supposed to do once I knew a lawyering life was not for me. In the end, it was a single Facebook post of a Wild Mushroom Risotto I made for dinner one night that kicked everything off! I was fascinated by the craze for posting pictures of “the dinner” on Facebook, and people seemed to like the look of what I posting up and started asking for recipes. In the end, it was getting all a bit cumbersome trying to reply by text and email, so I asked my husband, who, for those who follow me will know he makes an appearance now and again as “Mr Flavour”, to set me up a basic website so I could start blogging. He also found the domain name that ended up being the name of the business: Flavour.ie

So I started blogging in late 2013, and then in 2014 I started a Supper Club at home – it was the only one in County Cork I think at the time. I opened my home for up to 10 people to come and dine. I developed the dishes, set the menu, cooked and hosted with Mr Flavour, (his real name is Jason), helping me as my waiter and head-mopper-of-my-perspiring-brow on the night. It was fabulous and created a community of people coming together over a love of food at a time when people were looking for something different to the staid restaurant experience. The same year then, I started getting commissions for writing articles for a few local publications and I also launched The Clonakilty Walking Food Tour; again, at a time when no-one else was offering food tours in West Cork – something I couldn’t get my head around, surrounded as we are with the lion’s share of Irish artisan food producers and their rich stories.

In 2016, the Supper Club was getting too much for me to handle at home, so I took it away from there and started working with talented local chefs and food producers to create pop up events: Supper Clubs that would move around to different venues, workshops, and masterclasses with really talented people in their field. The same year I began to get requests for private food tours, so as well as heading into 2020 as my 6th summer season for The Clonakilty Walking Food Tour, I also am busy year-round developing private food tours and dining events for groups big and small, for families, friends and corporate groups.

In 2017, I was commissioned to write a book. The Artisan Food Guide is an extension of A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, which takes place every September for ten days. The guide is a comprehensive collection of food producers, farmers’ markets and specialty food shops right across the region, with maps and suggested itineraries for people to create their own self-guided food adventure in Ireland’s breadbasket.

In 2019, I was invited by the Irish Food Writers’ Guild to become a Member – an accolade that is really special to me because it is acceptance of my work as a food writer by a panel of my peers, all of whom are respected in their field.

My days are spent meeting those who dedicate their lives to creating wonderful things for us to eat, and giving a voice to their stories and achievements through my food writing for a variety of different publications in print and online, as well as my own blog. Food Adventures, (tours, events, and workshops), take up what time remains, but for sure, writing is my first love.

How does your career fulfill you?
For so many years I didn’t know what was meant for me after I left the law behind. I would look at people who were in love with what they did and wonder: why can’t I have that? Now I do! I can’t believe that I get to write for a living, and I’m always telling people I have the best job in the world, but no-one believes me! Of course, it’s not always a walk in the park, just like any profession, there is a great deal of time spent marketing and selling – freelancers pitch ideas for articles constantly, but I am very lucky that I have amazing relationships with my commissioning editors, and as a result, I have a lot of freedom to write about what inspires me or spurs me into action. Not a lot of writers have that, so I am extra lucky and extra grateful for that.

Food is the ultimate topic to write about too because of its flexibility and pervasiveness in our lives. I’m no restaurant critic, but I love telling other peoples stories. But another day I could be fired up to write about food justice and food poverty; environmental issues pertaining to food, food history, farming, and then round off the week with a bit of popular food philosophy! Is there any other topic that can be as wide-ranging as that? Certainly, no other topic has as much human connection, that’s for sure.

What are your professional ambitions? What’s next for Kate Ryan?
Right now, there are three things that are present in my everyday company!

Firstly, I went back to school in September! I joined up as the first intake of students to do the Post Graduate Diploma is Irish Food Culture at UCC. It’s a transdisciplinary subject and so far we have covered food philosophy, dairy science, food history, a bit of folklore, and an in-depth look at the Irish food system. We’ve just begun our last module of the first year which is food and creative practice. I’ve not even looked at what we have next year! It is brilliant, but it’s like studying for an MA – not easy when you’ve all the other adult concerns of running a business, a home, and family commitments. But I have been non-stop fascinated by everything the brilliant lecturers have presented us with. The challenge will be to know what to do with all this new information once it’s all done!

Secondly, I’m in the midst of writing my second book. Something completely different to the first, much more personal in style. I’ll say no more on this right now…who knows, maybe it’ll be a shelf-emptying best seller!

Thirdly, I’m hosting a four-day Food Writing Workshop and Food Tour in West Cork 8 – 11th October with the amazing Dianne Jacob. I can’t wait! Dianne wrote the seminal book for any aspiring food writer called: “Will Write for Food”, and this is only her second time coming to Ireland to teach so it’s pretty special. The title of the Workshop and Food Tour is “Food with a Story to Tell…” and is all about exploring food writing through the medium of story and storytelling – something that I feel is wonderfully engaging for readers. We’re combining Dianne’s teaching sessions with a food tour visiting some great chefs, farmers and artisans who have wonderful food stories of their own. I’m currently running an Early Bird offer at the moment until the end of May – check out all the information on my blog – it’s a small group on purpose and we already have a few places booked, so I would encourage anyone who’s interested to book in sooner than later!

In your opinion, what challenges do women face in the food industry in Ireland?
This is a difficult one for me because I am one of the lucky ones never to have experienced any issues with getting on in any of the industries I have worked in before. I have had great bosses and not great bosses, men and women alike; so, for me, I think it’s about putting myself forward in a confident, but not arrogant way, that loudly and proudly says: I work hard, I do good work, and I can easily measure up against anyone and be as good as the person I’m stood next too.

The charge is often thrown out that women undervalue themselves, not rating their value and contribution, and I firmly believe that that’s where the work begins. We can put ourselves confidently “out there” in a way that demands respect and credibility instead of asking politely for it. Shout all you want for a fair hearing and equality, but be the woman to put it on the table rather than accepting someone else’s version of it.

So, yes, women owning and understanding their own value and worth – we are our biggest challenge.

Tell us of one woman in the Irish food industry who consistently inspire you and why?
There are so many, aren’t there; and in Ireland particularly we have an embarrassment of riches of strong voices and inspiring leaders – it almost seems a disservice to pick just one!

I’m actually going to champion someone who I recently nominated for an award – and won! That woman is Allison Roberts of Exploding Tree. Allison is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Clonakilty, West Cork – but what she does is so much more than that, and is why I nominated her for the Irish Food Writers Guild Environmental Award. Allison is Ireland’s only Bean-to-Bar chocolate maker working with exclusively Fairtrade ingredients. She is the Treasurer of Clonakilty Fairtrade, (the town was Irelands first Fairtrade town, nearly 17 years ago); she is a founder of the Clonakilty Bike Festival and a co-founder of the Clonakilty Bike Circus – a weekly repair and advice clinic for bike users, and an advocate for more Green and Cycle Ways. All of her packaging is made from post-agricultural waste and 100% compostable – as well as being beautifully designed; and her range of chocolates vary from the unusual (e.g 100% Cocoa) to her innovative Oat and Goat milk chocolates suitable for lactose intolerant and vegan/dairy-free, but all are delicious!. Her business is designed around sustainability, environmentally friendly practices, closed-loop production methods, Fairtrade and a heart that bursts for the value and contribution that small businesses make to the communities they are in. Oh, and did I forget, she’s an advocate, an educator as well as a mother, wife and friend. She is unstoppable and gives a huge amount to the people around her. Just an awesome powerhouse of a woman. Go check out what she does – you can buy her chocolates online too!

What do you think can be done to help raise the profile and visibility of women in the food industry in Ireland?
I spend a lot of time talking to other women in the food industry and giving a voice to their story. It fascinates me how many times they don’t think they have a story worth telling. Again, it all comes down to understanding and owning your own worth and value. Women are integral to Ireland’s food story – past and present, and we shouldn’t forget that or let it slip from the collective consciousness. I see so much opportunity for women to make their story a central part of their food offering. Yes, the product is important too, but what separates your bread/cheese/cakes from someone else’s – that’s where story comes into play.

Also, opportunities like this, Katia, that you offer, for women to speak some of their truth, is an important platform – I 100% support more of this!

What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
As fabulous as it was to see my first book come off the press, it has to be the moment I was invited into the Irish Food Writers Guild. The wonderful thing about the Guild is that you cannot simply buy your way in – you have to be nominated by a current Member, and then it has to be approved by two other Members at their AGM. Only then will you receive your invitation to join. So it is very special because it is a jury of your peers. Also the role-call of Members past, present, and honorary is quite the list of inspiring people. To be amongst them is a wonderful honour.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Every decade you’ll foist massive life changes upon yourself – go with it, everything will shake out in the end and you’ll always be doing the right thing at the right time, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

What are the top skills required to do your job and why?
· Organisation: planning, planning, planning – research, pitching, interviewing, writing, publishing, getting paid – just be organised so there’s less feast and famine and more consistency.

· Be willing to say No. You won’t lose out because you’re just making room for something even better that you’ll actually want to do!

· Discipline. I could just stay in bed, or scroll for another 15 minutes, but there’s work to do!

What’s an underestimated spice?
Oh I love this question! Without a doubt it’s Fenugreek! I adore it’s smoky, heady aroma – it’s the sultry seductress of the spice world, and hardly anyone uses it! I love it in delicate fish and vegetable curries. A chef friend of mine makes an exquisite Aubergine and Fenugreek chutney – divine! She’s just gone out on her own, check her website out.

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