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.

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.

So, for some reason everyone has started making Banana Bread! I think it must be because we all went out and bought a crate load of bananas at the beginning of the crisis and now their just too ripe to eat but oh so good turned into Banana Bread, (or awesome pancakes...more on that another time!)

Remo-what? I hear you cry... Well, a remoulade is a Danish chop salad or slaw, but takes its flavour notes from earthy, peppery tasting vegetables - usually celeriac. It is also usually creamy and speckled with wholegrain mustard, but in these times of making use of what you've got lying around and not travelling to shops unless necessary, this remoulade is much lighter using lemon juice and olive oil instead. It really lightens up the whole dish, and with warmer weather on the way, would be a perfect partner with BBQ meats, especially pork!

Apparently, 6th April is World Carbonara Day, and I've just finished reading this wonderful article by Manuela Spinelli of Eurotoques Ireland on the heart pounding merits of a good classic carbonara, and also reminding us that the principle of Italian cuisine is "generally three ingredients that marry together and become a paradise of flavours." I shudder to think what Manuela would say to me on spying the mushrooms I love to put in my carbonara, along with parsley and the wrong kind of pork and cheese.

Twas three nights before Christmas, and Mr Flavour and I palmed off our beloved Springer Spaniel onto our unwitting friends and heading to Cork for a night of food, drink, a Bag O'Cans and a gig in a Church. Rock and Roll!

I made this recipe back in September just as the autumn was starting to make an appearance in earnest. And, despite it taking me a solid three months to get it up on the blog, thankfully all the flavours are still as relevant as we head into the end of one year and the beginning of a new one!

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…”

Awesome Banana Bread

So, for some reason everyone has started making Banana Bread! I think it must be because we all went out and bought a crate load of bananas at the beginning of the crisis and now their just too ripe to eat but oh so good turned into Banana Bread, (or awesome pancakes…more on that another time!)

Even Stephen Fry got in on the act, so I was delighted when the three bananas left in the fruit bowl reached the point of no return and I was ready in a flash to get going with my trusty recipe!

Now, I’ve been using this recipe for the bones of twenty years! It started as a WeightWatchers recipe and then I quickly substituted all the healthy stuff for delicious things and improved the whole thing massively as a result. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to share this, but seeing as everyone is stuck in their kitchens with a couple of over ripe bananas in their fruit bowl and too much time on their hands, it seems like as good a time as any to finally share it with you!

Awesome Banana Bread

Top Tip: Use a loaf tin for this. A nice little 1 lb loaf tin will give you a compact and high loaf, a larger tin a longer, thinner loaf; or if you have some individual mini loaf tins or even paper muffin cases you can use that too, but adjust the cooking time as needed: the smaller the portion the quicker the cook.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g Self Raising Flour
  • 1/4 tsp of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 75 g of butter, plus extra for coating the loaf tin
  • 75 g of sugar (demerara and coconut blossom sugar are great for added caramel flavours)
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 or 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • Handful of chopped nuts (walnut or pecans are perfect)
  • Handful of chocolate, a 50% dark milk chocolate is great
  • If you want, add some sultanas or even some fresh blueberries.

Method:

  • Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan.
  • Butter the loaf tin.
  • In a bowl, place the flour and bicarb.
  • In another bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and honey.
  • Add the eggs in one at a time. If the mixture is too dry, add another egg.
  • Stir the flour mix into the butter mix and combine.
  • Add the mashed bananas, chopped nuts and chocolate, mix well.
  • Pour into the tin and back for 1 hour. Skewer to test if it is cooked.
  • Turn out and allow to cool.
  • Slice and serve on its own, buttered or with some whipped cream.

Enjoy!

Celeriac, Kohlrabi & Apple Remoulade

Remo-what? I hear you cry… Well, a remoulade is a Danish chop salad or slaw, but takes its flavour notes from earthy, peppery tasting vegetables – usually celeriac. It is also usually creamy and speckled with wholegrain mustard, but in these times of making use of what you’ve got lying around and not travelling to shops unless necessary, this remoulade is much lighter using lemon juice and olive oil instead. It really lightens up the whole dish, and with warmer weather on the way, would be a perfect partner with BBQ meats, especially pork!

So, I guess strictly speaking this isn’t a remoulade, but it’s close enough!

I have used celeriac but also Kohlrabi – a bulbous vegetable that has a crisp, crunchy flavour somewhere between a Granny Smith apple and Mooli (that long white radish used in Asian dishes). It’s used a lot in Northern Continental Europe, as well as in Germany too. I added in apple too, as celeriac, kohlrabi and apple are great together!

There is a lot of chopping that goes into making this salad, admittedly, so you can decide what is the best way to get it done for you. At the moment, I have a little more time on my hands, so I like to do this all manually and just zone out for 20 minutes peeling and chopping. Or you could use a box grater, or the grater or julienne attachment on your food processor. Whatever works for you, it really doesn’t matter!

This makes quite a large bowl of salad, so will go with a couple of meals, depending on the number of people you are feeding! It will keep well enough for two days in the fridge in an airtight container, but no more than that.

Top Tip: If you wanted to make this creamy, then substitute the lemon and olive oil for either Creme Fraiche, natural yogurt or sour creme, add in a generous dollop of whole grain mustard and sprinkle all over with some chopped toasted hazelnuts.

Celeria, Kohlrabi and Apple Remoulade

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a celeriac bulb, peeled, sliced thinly and then julienned
  • 1 Kohlrabi peeled, sliced thinly and julienned
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, sliced thinly and (you guessed it), julienned
  • 1/2 red chili, remove seeds and chop into tiny pieces
  • 1/2 tbsp of caraway seeds
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice of
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped small
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

Method

  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to coat thoroughly.

Squash, Sage & Pork Carbonara

Apparently, 6th April is World Carbonara Day, and I’ve just finished reading this wonderful article by Manuela Spinelli of Eurotoques Ireland on the heart pounding merits of a good classic carbonara, and also reminding us that the principle of Italian cuisine is “generally three ingredients that marry together and become a paradise of flavours.” I shudder to think what Manuela would say to me on spying the mushrooms I love to put in my carbonara, along with parsley and the wrong kind of pork and cheese.

But as much as my Carbonara a la Anglaise may be derided for tearing up the Italian cuisine rule book, I feel quietly confident that the recipe below for a very un-Carbonara-like-Carbonara would warm the cockles of your heart all the same. Just like the real Italian classic, it has three primary flavours, but that aside, this would probably have Italians the world over rolling their eyes at my incredulity and arrogance, while also unable to deny the glorious flavour triumvirate that is Squash, Sage and Pork.

Squash, Sage and Pork Carbonara

In these times of Covid-19, when more than ever nothing should be going to waste in the kitchen, this recipe was born from the necessity to use up a couple of sausages and half a butternut squash. There is also sage, one of my favourite herbs for chilly days, a gentle hit of chili, garlic (because: well, garlic…!), and some lemon to freshen the whole thing up. It’s a surprisingly easy dish to make, but apologise to the evening’s pot-washer in advance as it definitely isn’t a one-pot wonder!

Top Tip! This dish will feed two people with plenty of left over sauce. This sauce can be thinned out a little the next day and heated up, drizzled with some chili oil and crème fraiche and served up with some thick crusty bread for a hearty soup for one the following day!

Ingredients:

  • Half a butternut squash, peeled and chopped into medium chunks
  • 2 pork sausages, skinned and ripped into small bite sized pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • Red chili: either a few dried flakes or some fresh – to taste, background heat only!
  • Handful of sage herb, leaves only
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Long pasta: either spaghetti or linguine
  • Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese

Method:

  • Steam the butternut squash until tender.
  • Place a large pot of well salted water onto boil. Just as the butternut squash is tender throughout, place the dried pasta into the boiling water.
  • Meanwhile, in a frying pan cook down the sausage meat in a little olive oil until browned and glistening. Take out of the pan and place on kitchen paper.
  • Reserve the meat cooking juices in the frying pan, and cook slowly the sliced garlic. Drain and place onto a piece of kitchen paper.
  • Just before the pasta is cooked, place the tender butternut squash into a blender with the garlic, chili, lemon juice, sea salt, a generous twist of pepper, most of the sage and remaining meat juices from the frying pan. Add a little dash of water, (I use the water from steaming to retain the flavour), to help it along and blitz until completely smooth. Set aside.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and place back into the saucepan. Dress the pasta with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and set aside.
  • Back to the frying pan and fry off the remaining sage leaves until crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.
  • Pour the butternut squash sauce over the pasta a little at a time to coat it thoroughly and luxuriously. Don’t worry if there is a lot of sauce left over – you can have that for lunch tomorrow!
  • Portion out onto warmed plates, top with nuggets of the browned sausage meat, crispy sage leaves, a final flourish with the pepper grinder and plenty of grated parmesan cheese.

Enjoy with a chilled, crisp white wine!

Review: The Glass Curtain

Twas three nights before Christmas, and Mr Flavour and I palmed off our beloved Springer Spaniel onto our unwitting friends and heading to Cork for a night of food, drink, a Bag O’Cans and a gig in a Church. Rock and Roll!

The gig in questions was Beoga, Live at St Lukes, an incredible live music venue in a deconsecrated Church where there’s no drink to be had, only what you can stuff into a shopping bag from the Off Licence across the road. Beoga are great (watch and listen here), St Luke’s is brilliant; but it was the pre-gig dinner at newly opened The Glass Curtain that really kicked off the evening in spectacular fashion.

The Glass Curtain, at the Old Thompsons Bakery
The Glass Curtain Owner and Head Chef, Brian Murray

Back in August, I had gotten wind of a new restaurant opening on MacCurtain Street inside the old Thompson bakery while interviewing for a feature on Midleton’s fEast Food Festival in September. I managed to wangle an email contact for Brian Murray, a returning Corkonia, head chef and soon to be proprietor, and got in contact, asking him to let me know when the restaurant would open. Now, you would think that Brian had more important things to worry about that emailing me on the eve of the restaurant’s opening in early December, but he did. Attaching his press release was a lovely note recalling how our paths had briefly crossed earlier in the year. Those are the kind of personal touches that make you realise this is a chef who pays attention. I had thought I wouldn’t get to dine until after the festive season, but the impromptu decision to make a night of it in Cork for the gig meant I could make good on my intention earlier than planned.

Things to note about The Glass Curtain:

  • It’s small. Only 36 seats with a funky bijoux bar with high stalls, perfect for sipping cocktails and partaking in a couple of the small plates.
  • The kitchen is open and HUGE. I like seeing the chef team work – it gives a sense of dinner and a show. The long narrow nature of the space means the kitchen space is cavernous!
  • A menu that can be shared or devoured alone. Small plates that can be shared or eaten as individual starters; large plates the same. It’s a flexible approach to menus that I love, personally, but for some might be a bit baffling.
  • Have a cocktail before dining. Because the cocktails are excellent.

The Glass Curtain is about local, seasonal foods and celebrating the best of Cork grown and reared produce. Food is cooked over fire and charcoal; there is also magik and wizardry. Meat and fish feature throughout, but vegetables are treated with the level of detail ensuring that, only when together, does the flesh truly sing.

Casing point: For my large plate, I ordered Collar of Pork (a cut rarely seen on restaurant menus but one I love for its rich flavour and yielding texture). Served blushing, just the way it should be, melting and seared with sweetly sour sticky tamarind, it was possibly one of the best treatments of meat I have had this year (one exception: duck at The Chestnut, Ballydehob). It was served with a house made spicy Peanut Rayu and a selection of three cabbages: kale, sweetheart cabbage and green cabbage. The pork on its own was very good indeed, but only when eaten with the cabbage, buttery and smokey from the grill, did the dish truly come alive. I’ve always said that cabbage is a much underrated vegetable, and I would wager that Brian and I share the same belief; for while the Pork was meant to convince you of being the star of the show, frankly it was the unexpected glorious performance of the supporting act, Cabbage, that stole the show and made the Collar of Pork even better than it was on its own. A triumph of technique and flavour wrapped up in a cape of modesty. Positively indecent cabbage, in all the right ways.

Mr Flavour has a penchant for beef, and so opted for the Ribeye. Darkly barked and smokey without, erubescent within; sighing in surrender to the knife and served with an unctuous bone marrow jus: “This,” Mr Flavour proclaimed, “This is the best Ribeye I have ever eaten. EVER!” Now, Mr Flavour is not one to be given over to public, or even private, effusive proclamations of approval. ‘Tis Grand’ is the height of his usual praise, so you can imagine how utterly suspicious I was of this sudden outburst. But he kept saying it over and over again, so decided this euphoria was well placed. I was proffered a measly morsel, which thankfully was enough for me to agree with Mr Flavour that, indeed, this was a very delicious piece of beef, cooked to perfection. Bone marrow, I have determined, has the ability to do strange things to folk. And as this was our second taste of it, (the first being a split femur, from the size of it, filled with grilled onions and a crunchy herby crust), we were both certainly well indulged.

So, what else did we indulge in? In addition to the bone marrow small plate, we also inhaled the sweet and earthy Beetroot Tartare with Horseradish Tofu and Nori and the Seared Scallops with Coconut and Broccoli. And once again, the vegetable treatment was excellent. Someone, probably famous, once said: anyone can cook a piece of meat, but it takes skill to get the most out of vegetables. I concur.

Honey Custard Tart

A note about dessert. As in previous posts, you may already be away of my proclivity towards anything remotely custardy. Therefore, it was an inevitable that to finish, I opted for the Honey Custard Tart with Nutmeg and Fresh Cream, scattered atop with Pistachios. Take me to church! (Well, ironically, I kinda did afterwards). Thick and stiff, like clotted cream, super thin, crispy pastry and that hint of wintery nutmeg. Rich yet light, completely indulgent and a day hasn’t passed that I haven’t thought about it and wanted it. Can one hold an obsessive desire for an inanimate plate of dessert? Well, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!

We arrived for an early sitting, but by the time we departed, dragging our full but happy bodies up the hill to the Offy for a Bag O’Cans and onto our gig, The Glass Curtain was hopping! I feel right now that only those in the know know about The Glass Curtain, but it won’t be too long before word properly gets out, and it’ll be a fight to the end for a table. And so it should be. Brian may have spent the last few years of his career Not In Cork, but now he is very much Back In Cork and, from his careful selection of ingredients, and the careful treatment of them using seemingly nothing but fire and a shed load of butter, Brian is a chef reveling in his prodigal return.

I don’t profess to know much about Korean food, but there is something reminiscent of this cuisine in Brian’s menu. Yes, there are overtures of Asian flavours, the smoke and fire charcoal BBQ element is very on trend with Korean BBQ right now; and yet the way these ingredients and flavours are put together are still recognisably, well, Irish? Tis far from Nori, Coconut and Tofu we might have been raised, but the core ingredients are well rooted in Ireland – embracing great Irish produce with flavours from far away, melding them together and creating something venturing on Modern Irish.

Cork City is settling in well to its reputation as an exciting proposition for diners, and The Glass Curtain is hitting a pitch perfect point between casual dining and restaurant dining; where the customers are made to feel like family and the food is excellent yet understated. I simply cannot recommend this restaurant enough.

A joy. An absolute joy.

Kale & Pumpkin Orecchiette

I made this recipe back in September just as the autumn was starting to make an appearance in earnest. And, despite it taking me a solid three months to get it up on the blog, thankfully all the flavours are still as relevant as we head into the end of one year and the beginning of a new one!

With some dishes I come up with, I wonder where a dish transforms from being a mere assemblage of ingredients into an actual recipe, and this is very much one of those dishes. So whichever it may technical set upon, the ingredients and method, such that it is, is noted below. But aside from all of that, this is the kind of dish that is pure comfort and joy. Don’t stimp on loading the roasting tray for the squash/pumpkin with endless cloves of garlic so that the kitchen is filled with that: the best aroma of all!

Kale & Pumpkin Orecchiette

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • Enough Oriecchiette pasta for two people
  • 1/2 Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed into 1inch pieces
  • Lots of garlic – at least 5 cloves, in their skin and smashed
  • 20g of blue cheese (Shepherds Store works well)
  • 1 pack of Gubbeen streaky bacon, sliced into thin lardons
  • 2 generous handfuls of seasonal kale, destem and tear the leaves.
  • Handful of toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil, sea salt and pepper

Method:

  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, prepare the squash and arrange it on a baking tray. Toss in the smashed cloves of garlic, drizzle over a small amount of olive oil. Toss through and roast until the squash is tender. Turn once during cooking.
  • Bring a pan of well salted water to the boil, add in the pasta, a drizzle of olive oil and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Fry off the bacon until all the fat has rendered out and the bacon has gone crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
  • Keep the bacon fat, and once the squash is cooked through heat up the bacon fat again and quickly cook the kale leaves until they have softened.
  • Into a large sharing bowl, add the drained pasta, squash, pumpkin seeds and the crumbled blue cheese, season with sea salt and black pepper and toss together.
  • Scatter about the kale, then crumble the bacon over. Finally, using a veg peeler, peel off some Parmesan cheese over the whole dish and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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