3 Great Outdoor Dining Experiences for the Weekend!

Heading to Cork city this weekend and looking for something new to sink your teeth into?

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.

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.

This post is a review in two parts which I hope to seamlessly merge together into one engaging whole. If you're coming to this post thinking that there is actually a recipe at the end, prepare to be disappointed, but maybe stick with it anyway because this is a review about one very amazing book that I wish for everyone to read, and also a personal review of the past three-and-a-bit months.

3 Great Outdoor Dining Experiences for the Weekend!

Heading to Cork city this weekend and looking for something new to sink your teeth into?

With so many great outdoor dining options in the city, included the much-lauded Prince’s Street transformation and Marina Market, you might be looking to try something else this weekend. I’ve been taking opportunities to pop up to the city as often as possible these last few weeks, and with this weeks announcement by the Government that indoor dining is pushed back for the foreseeable, dining alfresco and getting weather hardened is just what we’ll have to do to support local hospitality businesses and enjoy the kitchen efforts of some of the city’s gifted chefs.

So, without prejudice, here are my top tips for dining out this weekend. Keep an eye out in The Echo a new four part series on alfresco dining and drinking this summer from mid-July every Wednesday.

Market Lane / Elbow Lane / Goldie Fish & Ale – Oliver Plunket Street

While Cork’s Princess Street’s gains from pedestrianisation have been well documented, many traders on the inner city’s Oliver Plunkett Street also regard the move by Cork City Council as a ‘life saver’.

Market Lane Outdoor Dining on Oliver Plunkett Street

Tracey Sweeney, co-owner of the Market Lane Group, which operates three restaurants on the street says “With the addition of permanent outdoor seating along the spine of Oliver Plunkett Street we’ve been able to regain 30% of the covers we had pre-covid, albeit when the weather is accommodating. This not only helps us recover as a business, but creates new, exciting opportunities, particularly for smaller traders on the street, that simply didn’t exist before. It really helps us future proof our businesses, as we think that the move to outdoor dining is becoming more and more important to cater to.”

Cocktail O’Clock at Market Lane, Oliver Plunkett Street

As well as its mothership, Market Lane Restaurant, the group has Goldie and Elbow Lane restaurants on Oliver Plunkett Street. Pedestrianisation has allowed the group to establish covered, outdoor seating areas outside the restaurants. In addition, due to the support of non-hospitality businesses, restaurants have been able to use the foothpaths and loading bays outside other shops on the street when they are closed for business, which has been invaluable.
Lisa Grainger of the up-market Olori boutique, one such business, feels that the efforts made by hospitality operators to jazz up the area really adds to the ‘city experience’ and creates a huge buzz on the street. “This ultimately benefits everyone,” she says.

“This generosity has also bound us together as a neighbourhood” continues Sweeney, “which uniquely consists of mostly independently-owned businesses. There is a palpable sense of hope and enthusiasm amongst traders that with enhanced pedestrianisation, Oliver Plunkett St will continue to be a real destination for locals and tourists alike. This is a huge bonus for the inner city.”

This enthusiasm has been heightened by the recent announcement that Cork City Council have gone out to tender for the development of the adjoining Beasley Street, one of the few fully cobbled streets left in Cork city. Plans for the quarter now include a music and literary stage, food trucks and stalls, vegetable and herb plots, and much more.

The Castle Cafe at Blackrock Castle Observatory is also part of the Market Lane Group and have utilised the courtyard dominated by the castle tower to create a very special space that a little bit of sanctuary away from the hurley burley of life!

The Castle Cafe outdoor dining at Blackrock Castle Observatory

Harley’s StrEAT, near Mary Elmes Bridge

Rossmore Oysters two ways

The range of pop up food trucks appearing on this little side street in front of Mary Elme’s Bridge is growing every week. Right now, there is Bev’s and Brews for coffee and cocktails, Taco Rebels for the ultimate food on the go, Cork Sultan Delight serving up flatbreads with everything on, and Cool Wok who promise to “Wok You” with their pan-Asian offering of noodle and rice dishes.

There is also Birdsong in the City, a new pop up over-the-fire-cooking venture from The Glass Curtain and chef-proprietor Brian Murray. Provenance of ingredients is key here, so expect sustainable fish, grass fed and free range meats, seasonal veg, inventive cocktails, and the best ice cream sandwiches known to man.

This pop up was only supposed to run for two weeks, but with indoor dining pushed back on the never-never, expect Birdsong in the City to be hanging out on Harley’s StrEAT for the next while. So no excuse to not check it out. My advice? Come early, come hungry, and eat the menu!

There’s also some pretty funky merch for sale by Hairy Baby Tees too!

The Terrace @ L’Attitude 51

All the wine…! Just some of the incredible wine offering at L’Atitude 51

Two for the price of one – experiences, that is, when you visit L’Atitude 51 on Union Quay, and now you can come for the wine and stay for the wine thanks to the little Terrace outside the shop overlooking Cork’s River Lee. Make use of the extensive knowledge proprietor Bev Matthews has of their 200+ bottles of wine available to buy to take home, or by the bottle or glass sat in the sunshine Leeside watching the world go by!

This is Cork’s best Cave a Manger experience by far, and great to see it rising again literally from the ashes. Also serving West Cork Coffee too.

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!

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.

Recipes worth living for…

This post is a review in two parts which I hope to seamlessly merge together into one engaging whole. If you’re coming to this post thinking that there is actually a recipe at the end, prepare to be disappointed, but maybe stick with it anyway because this is a review about one very amazing book that I wish for everyone to read, and also a personal review of the past three-and-a-bit months.

Continue reading “Recipes worth living for…”

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