Monday, 27 September 2010

Jammy Quinn

You might wonder what the caption means, well when my Mum, who is a great woman, comes into the kitchen at Waterford Castle with her buckets of home made jam the chefs refer to her fondly as jammy quinn. Of course i am not ment to know about this but then a Head Chef knows everthing that goes on in a small kitchen.
This recipe has to be made, it is fantastic and its the one that my mum has being using for years.

4 lbs of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
4 lbs of granulated sugar
juice of one orange
Place the fruit in a pan, heat gently at first until the juice flows, then simmer until the fruit is tender, about five minutes. Add the sugar and orange juice and stir over a low heat until it has completely dissolved, bring to the boil by increasing the heat and continue boiling for another five minutes, stirring frequently.
Test for setting by putting a spoon of jam on a cold plate, after a few minutes tilt the plate and you should see wrinkles forming. Remove from the heat and leave for 10 -15 minutes, pour into sterilised jars, cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.
Q. tip, these jars of jam make fantastic presents, just cover the top with a square of gingham

Thursday, 23 September 2010

A Curry in a Hurry

I was poking about in Ardkeen supermarket last night and wanted something tasty to eat with a bit of spice to it. What will I cook ? was the thought in my head and i am sure that goes through most peoples minds when they go shopping for dinner.
So here is what went into my basket; 1 carrot, tin of good chick peas, 1 onion, a punnet of cherry tomatoes, bulb of garlic, a bag of baby spinach and a packet of Masala Gosht made by that fantastic spice company Green Saffron.
Not much i hear you say....
Well, follow these instructions and see for yourself
Finely dice the onion and carrot, crush the two cloves of garlic and fire them into a pot with a good gulp of olive oil, cook this out over a low heat until the onion is soft, now add half the bag of spices and continue to cook for a further three minutes. Quarter 12 cherry tomatoes and throw them into the pot along with the drained chick peas. It is important to use a low heat because you want the tomatoes to break down and the chick peas to take on board the flavour of the spices. Cook this for a further ten minutes and then chop the spinach roughly and put it into the pot. This will add moisture to the dish. But you might have to add a little water as well. You want a thick consistency not a watery tasteless mess.
Now cook up some rice and he presto dinner is on the table, and it is tasty, very tasty...
Q. tip, if you want a creamy finish to the dish add a tin of coconut milk and some chopped coriander at the end.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Give me chutney and I will give you Cheese

Making Chutney must be one of the most rewarding things to do in a kitchen. I get great joy when the chutney is made and is put away for a few months to mature. Finally the day arrives to open it up and see what it is like. I have yet to be disappointed. So here is a good simple recipe for your own. And by the way, this is the time of year to do it, good Irish apples are required.

1 kg of Irish apples
1 kg of ripe tomatoes
500g of finely chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic chopped finely
250g of sultanas
1 tblsp of mustard seed
500g of demerara sugar
25g salt
3 tsp of curry powder
pinch of cayenne
1 liter of malt vinegar

Peel and core the apples, slice and put in a stainless steel saucepan with a few drops of water, the peeled and slice tomatoes, chopped onion, garlic and sultanas. Add in the mustard seed tied up in a muslin bag. Stir in the salt, curry powder, cayenne and half the malt vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer until soft, then add the sugar and the remaining vinegar and cook until smooth and thick. Remove the muslin bag and pot at once

Q. tip; try to resist the temptation of opening the chutney to early, the longer you keep it the better it is going to taste.

Hot buttery Lobster

Without Men like Martin Simpson of Dunmore East i doubt there would be any Lobsters left off the Waterford Coast. He is a true artisan, passionate, caring and dam good at what he does. I have being buying lobsters from him for many years now and we have built up a good relationship, he knows what i want and goes out of his way to supply me at the Castle.
Some people might think that Lobster is a luxury food but in my opinion we all deserve something luxurious from time to time. So the next time you are walking the pier in Dunmore look out for the small fishermen, get to know them and they will provide you with some of the best shellfish and fish you are likely to find anywhere.
This recipe was first taught to me by Mrs Allen many years ago and all it requires is good Irish butter, a lemon, a lobster, some white wine, and a few herbs.
You will have to dispatch the lobster first by placing it in a large saucepan of cold salted water. Fit a tight lid and turn it on. The lobster will fall asleep in the water and the meat will remain tender.
Once the colour has changed to a bright pink the lobster is ready to be steamed in the wine and herbs for a few minutes. This is worth doing as it will provide another taste to the finished dish. Now all that is left to do, is to remove the meat from the claws and the tail, cut it into bite size pieces and cook in hot butter. Put the meat back in the shell and pour over the butter and serve with a green salad.

Q. tip: a pound and a half lobster is plenty for two people

Friday, 17 September 2010

Blaa Blaa Blaa........

Well what can i say about the humble blaa, its so unique to Waterford, does not travel well and has to be eaten by lunchtime. Floury or crusty, toasted or not, it still is the best thing to eat for breakfast.
We have come up with a unique way at the Castle of using the blaa for a dessert. My pastry chef Shannon has to be given the credit or this one, '' why not make bread and butter pudding with them '' was her solution. So we took out the butter and added white chocolate and bang it is a winner.
You will need a deep baking tray for this dessert.
10 blaas
200g egg yolk
200g caster sugar
1 1/2 ltr of cream
1 vanilla pod
1/2 glass of Baileys
150g golden raisins
150g white chocolate chopped

First cut the blaa's in half, soak the raisins in hot water to soften them and scald the cream with the split vanilla pod in it. Now whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it becomes slightly pale. Add 1/3 of the cream to the egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Then add the remaining cream with the baileys to the eggs.
To assemble, layer the blaa's on the baking tray and sprinkle with half the raisins and chocolate, pour over half the custard and leave to soak for ten minutes.
Repeat the process and leave to soak for a further twenty minutes. This in important because the bread will soak up all the moisture and become soft.
Now bake in a oven @ 160c for 35 -40 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
This will keep for up to four days in a fridge. It is delicious and well worth the effort to make.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Bread of Life

This recipe is about a simple soda bread but it means so much to me and has a long connection with my family. It has been handed down from my maternal great grandmother who lived in a beautiful old Irish farm house in Glendaloughlan in the Nire Valley. In the old days the bread was made with separated milk baked in a oven pot on top of the open fire. Red hot coals that covered the pot gave the bread a lovely crunchy crust and a special flavour all of its own.
Now my own daughter Mollie, the fourth generation is making the bread and it tastes as good as ever.

you will need;

1 lb of plain white flour
1/2 lb of Howards one way course brown flour
1 level teaspoon of bread soda
good pinch of salt
1 free range egg
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pints of buttermilk.

Mix the dry ingredients together, letting the flour fall between your fingers to air ate it, now make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg and most of the buttermilk. Working from the centre mix with your hand and add more milk if necessary. The dough should be soft and floppy. Turn out on a floured surface and knead lightly, shape it into a round, flatten it slightly and mark it with a deep cross and bake in a hot oven at 180c for 30-40 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when tapped.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Marco - episode 1 clip1

Friday night at the Castle

Last Friday night at the castle we held a very special dinner to mark the opening of the Waterford Harvest Food Festival. Here are a few images of what went on in the Kitchen that night.
Each of the dishes we cooked were over one hundred years old. The boys played a stormer, you can see the truffles that we used and the concentration on our faces. Amazing to do and well done to the Chef's in my kitchen

Food glorious food

A busy weekend was had by all who were involved in the Waterford Harvest Festival. What a success, the thousands of people that came to talk, taste and be teased by the smells of food being cooked on the South Quays yesterday made me a proud Waterford Man.
There was some fantastic artisan producers selling their wears yesterday, from cheese, sausages, honey, beef, lamb, vegetables and fish. I cooked trout last night and sausages this morning all bought at the market, fantastic no middle man straight from the producer to the table. That in my opinion is the way to go.
Slow Food sent a delegation from Italy and the UK and these passionate people were blown away with what they witnessed in Waterford. I have said this before but we as a country have some of the best food producers in the world. They should be supported and encouraged by all of us.
Now for a simple recipe that involves pan fried trout, roasted beetroot and rocket.
If you can get sea trout from your fishmonger you are in luck otherwise ask him for a couple of fillets of fresh trout. Pick up some raw beetroot and some nice rocket.
The first thing to do is to wash the beetroot, do not remove the root or stalks, this will prevent the colour from draining out of the vegetable. Wrap the beetroot in tinfoil with some sea salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Put this into the oven at 170c for at least twenty minutes. While this is going on get your salad together and prep the fish by getting as many bones out of it as possible. A handy tool to do this is a very small long headed pliers or a tweezers.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and pan fry in hot olive oil skin side down first. Just before you turn the fish over add a knob of butter. The fish will cook very quickly so be careful not to overcook it. Now take the beetroot and peel them with your hands slice them and arrange them on a plate length ways, put the trout on top and serve with rocket.
Q. tip: Mackerel can also be used with beetroot and rocket.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

The different shades of autunm

Its exciting heading into a new season as a chef, I love this time of year, the different shades of colour on the trees, the autumn fruit, wild mushrooms,game, oily fish, nuts and the gathering of slows to make slow gin.
For years i have foraged with my two daughters, we collect blackberries from the country lanes, sloes from our secret spot near Woodstown and mushrooms from Brownstown head and apples from a old orchard that was abandoned many years ago.
And all of this reminds me of one dish that we all love, stewed apples with custard, I have fond memories eating this as a kid. So get out there and pick up a few cooking apples either in a shop of over a ditch. Peel core and chop them and throw them into a saucepan with a little sugar and cook over a low heat until the apples start to burst. Now for the custard, you have two ways of doing this, make your own or go the Bird's route either way its up to you. If you are making your own here is a simple method, all you have to be is confident when making it and it won't split on you.
To make a rich custard you need:
250ml cream
250ml milk
vanilla pod split in half
4 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
Put the cream and milk in a pan with the split vanilla pod (it is so worth using a vanilla pod it makes all the difference) and scald but not boiling.Beat the four egg yolks with the sugar and whisk in the hot cream. Return the custard to the pan over a very low heat and stir constantly until thickens a little.Remove from the heat and stir for a further minute.
Q. tip: Do not boil the milk at all and once you put the custard back on the low heat keep stiring, the custard will split on you if it gets too hot.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

hungry but little time to cook

This is one of the easiest recpies i have got, so easy infact it takes minutes to make. Coming home late and hungry as many people do with the busy lives we lead this one is perfect.
All you need is some wholegrain pasta, chilli (dried or fresh), sea salt, olive oil, couple cloves of garlic and parmesan cheese. Get the pasta boiling in a pot, while this is going on chop the garlic as finely as you can with the chilli. Dont be afraid to use at least two/three cloves of garlic, and the amount of chilli is up to you. When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colinder and put the empty pot back on the heat minus the water. Add a good gulp of olive oil and throw in the chilli and garlic, do not leave this burn, watch it carefully for a minute or two no more. Now put the pasta into the pot and mix well, add sea salt and a little cracked black pepper. Serve at once and grate lots of parmesan cheese on top.
A tasty bit of food with minimum amount of fuss and one pot and a plate to wash up, cant get easier than that.

Q. tip: spend a little extra on the dried pasta and olive oil, it is worth it and makes all the difference

Monday, 6 September 2010

My food hero, this week

There is alot of talk about food heroes in the press lately, i think Rick Stein coined the phrase a number of years ago. But i am going to localise it to Waterford and the surrounding area, so from now on i will try and find a hero that we can all support each week. And hopefully we can make a difference in keeping these people in business and supplying us with fantastic, nutritious and holesom food.
The star of the show this week has to be Tom Cleary from Wexford. Tom has being supplying me with the best potatoes, broccoli, courgettes, lettuce, herbs, cauliflower, spinach, broad beans, beetroot, kale and nettles for over fourteen years. He is one of a kind, a true gentleman who knows his business so well. Everything he grows is out doors and has true flaviour. You can purchase his fantastic produce at Ardkeen Food Stores or catch him outside Dowers bar in ballymacaw, Dunmore East on Friday evenings.......

Monkfish with uummm

I have been asked to put this one up for all of you to read.... Monkfish the meatiest fish of them all is so so good. And it is so easy to cook.
After coming home the other night early from work I fired up the coals in the bbq, I had four people for dinner and four fillets of monkfish, a few sprigs of rosemary, two lime, splash of good olive oil, ginger and a few cloves of garlic.
Easy, I cut the monkfish into pieces and placed them in a bowl with the juice of the lime, grated ginger, crushed garlic and black pepper and left the fish marinade in the fridge until I was ready to cook, (20 minutes). When the coals were white and full of heat, I used the rosemary sprigs as skewers This does two things, it keeps the fish together while cooking and the most important thing is it transfers the flavour of rosemary to the fish. It took five minutes to cook on the bbq and I served it with a mango, tomato and red onion salsa, brown rice and a bowl of salad leaves. Simple as you like eh

Its a start

Well here we go, I have spent alot of time talking about this and now its time for action. Throughout my career as a working chef i have come across alot of interesting people and i have cooked alot of interesting dishes, my goal by doing this blog to to share my experiences, ideas and recipes. My thoughts on food and how important it is to support local farmers, butchers, fishmongers and green grocers will come across strongly. We live on a fantastic island and we have some of the best produce in the world so its imperative to get the message out there and encourage people to share this natural treasure that i think is being lost because of the closure of small shops and the increasing dependants on supermarkets.