Monday, March 24, 2014

Just some shots from work

Missing the gardening, but I have to make money to pay for Delaney's shed - and extra winter carrots.
Just click on pics to expand

The top end of Europe, quite literally!!

I think the growing season might start a little later up here somehow

Angry skies, chance of snow later -

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Simon's Super Simple Savage Cabbage and Salmon (and a little bit of Cork's Jewish history)

St Patrick's day, start of the growing season - so whats left?

Well, I'm stuck in Norway at the moment, but it does not mean I can't did up an old recipe to share.

Cabbage or kale is available all year round if the garden is planned well, its good for you, full of vitamin C, minerals and fiber.

This dish goes well also with pureed Jerusalem artichoke which are hardy, the smokey flavour works well with the bacon. Another good option is pureed parsnips - just to give some body or variety. 
In this dish it combines nicely with vinegar to offset salmon's richness.

Feeds 4 people.
1 small cabbage (about 1 lb.)
4  6-oz. salmon filets
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250 grams (1⁄4 lb.ish) thick-cut bacon, diced
60 ml (1⁄4 cup) dry white wine
60 ml (1⁄4 cup) cup cider vinegar
100 ml (1⁄2 cup) 
Fish Stock or water
100ml (1⁄2 cup) heavy cream
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives

1. Using a mandoline or knife, shred cabbage or kale 1⁄2" thick.

2. Brush or rub both sides of salmon filets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear filets in a large skillet or grill pan over high heat, until evenly browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Wipe out pan with paper towels.

3. In the same pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. 
Remove bacon, leaving fat in the pan. Drain bacon on paper towels and set aside. Add cabbage and/or kale to the bacon fat and cook 5 minutes. 
Add wine, vinegar, stock, and cream. Cover and cook until cabbage is wilted, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low and place salmon filets in pan over wilted cabbage and/or kale. 
Cover tightly and cook until salmon is firm to the touch, about 10 minutes.

4. To serve, spoon cabbage/kale onto plates and sprinkle with the crisp bacon. Top cabbage with salmon filets and a spoonful of pan juices. 

Garnish with dill and chives.

Just a note for American readers on this day - you might be surprised to learn that your traditional St. Paddy’s meal—corned beef and cabbage—is as Irish as spaghetti. 
The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Dublin but in New York City, in 1762. 

Over the next 100 years, Irish immigration to the United States exploded. 

The new wave of immigrants brought their own food traditions, including soda bread and Irish stew. 

Pork was the preferred meat, since it was cheap in Ireland, as was salmon, and ubiquitous on the dinner table.

The favored cut was Irish bacon, a lean, smoked pork loin similar to the Canadian type familiar in the USA. 

However, in the United States at the time, pork was prohibitively expensive for most newly arrived Irish families, so they began cooking beef—the staple meat in the American diet—instead.

So how did pork and potatoes become corned beef and cabbage? 

Irish immigrants to America lived alongside other “undesirable” European ethnic groups that often faced discrimination in their new home, including Jews and Italians. 

Members of the Irish working class in New York City frequented Jewish delis and lunch carts, and it was there that they first tasted corned beef. 

Cured and cooked much like Irish bacon, it was seen as a tasty and cheaper alternative to pork. 

And while potatoes were certainly available in the United States, cabbage offered a more cost-effective alternative to cash-strapped Irish families. 

Cooked in the same pot, the spiced, salty beef flavored the plain cabbage, creating a simple, hearty dish that couldn’t be easier to prepare.

After taking off among New York City’s Irish community, corned beef and cabbage found fans across the country. It was the perfect dish for everyone from harried housewives to busy cooks on trains and in cafeterias—cheap, easy to cook and hard to overcook. 
It was even served alongside mock turtle coup at President Lincoln’s inauguration dinner in 1862.

It is as American as apple pie.
Mayor of Cork - Gerald Goldberg
That is not to say that Ireland does not have a tradition of cured beef. In a quirk of history, with a large Jewish population, spiced beef is popular in Cork. 
It is a Jewish way of preparing meat that has become a staple of Cork life, no table in Cork is without it at Christmas.
Shalom park and Mayor Gerald Goldberg, whose wife worked with my Grand-mother in Cork for special need's kids, are just part of Cork's historical and cultural fabric.
An excellent article on Cork's Jewish community can be read on historian Cllr Kevin McCarthy's blog. 

The best spiced beef in Cork is, in my opinion, Tom Durkins in the English Market
Waterford has a traditional corned beef, and that is normally also available at Toms stand.

If you get the chance, I heartily recommend you try spiced beef is in a sandwich, and with a bowl of soup ( or a glass of Midaza - a new local stout in the City) at Arthur Maynes. 

It is the perfect late lunch, a fantastic spot in Cork to soak up some of the local history, atmosphere and culture close to the English market.

Enjoy, have a great St Patrick's weekend - please do take the time to comment

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tonkatsu pork and pickles

This is a Japanese style breaded and deep fried pork dish.  
Like rookworst and endive in Holland, Caldo Verde in Portugal or our own bacon and cabbage the essence of this meal is those good companions, pork and cabbage.

I've added a Japanese staple, quick pickled veg to give it a little more of an oriental feel, and any excuse to incorporate seaweed in a dish is good with me.
Pickles take about 2 hours but are better overnight.

This recipe is based on one I found in Fionas Japanese cookbook blog 
Fionas recipe is really good, the main change I did was to incorporate fresh garden herbs and some mustard powder into the egg mix.

I pureed some parsley, chives, wild garlic leaves with half a teaspoon of mustard powder and beat in an egg.
I just did home-made breadcrumbs. Fiona talks about Panko flakes, but being in Connemara at the time, Asian supermarkets are tricky to find - unless your in China town on Craggy Island.
Cut off the crusts, toast and crumble onto a baking tray, stick into a warm oven or under a grill for two minutes - simple as that.

For the chops - 
Trim the fat off the pork chops if you prefer not to eat the fat, I just take off the rind.
Score small cuts all around the edge of the pork chops
Coat the pork chops in some seasoned flour (shaking off any excess flour)
Dip the pork chops in the beaten egg, mustard powder and herb mix.. 
Finally coat in the bread crumbs (rub the crumbs gently onto the pork chops).

Cook in a heavy based saucepan or cast iron frying pan - the oil should come half way up the chops.
Oil needs to be very hot - sizzling, about 140 C.
Turn and cook until golden brown all over

If serving with chopsticks dond forget to slice up the pork - and it makes for nicer presentation I feel.

Tonkatsu sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
50ml cup ketchup
25ml Worcestershire
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp Yorkshire relish (optional)

Whisk together mustard and 2 tsp. water in a bowl until smooth. Add ketchup, Worcestershire, and soy sauce, and whisk until smooth.

Sweet and sour cucumber and wakame pickles (kyuuri to wakame no amasuzuke) as a side dish - and the meal is served with Sushi rice and home grown greyhound cabbage.

Japanese style Pickled Cucumber
This amount of marinade is enough for one large  cucumber - the long, relatively thin kind that often comes shrink-packed in plastic. If you’re using other gherkins, aim for about 4 to 5 cups cut up.
The marinade:
8 Tbs. rice wine vinegar (not sushi vinegar)
10 cm square piece of kombu seaweed, its a kelp if you are foraging.
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
4 Tbs. boiling water
Half a red chili pepper (optional; leave out if you don’t want any spiciness)
Combine and mix until the sugar is melted.

The vegetables:
1 large cucumber
2 Tbs. dried pre-cut wakame seaweed ( the kind that just requires soaking)

De-seed and cut up 1  cucumber
Put the marinade in a small glass, ceramic or plastic bowl (not metal) or the good old ziplock plastic bag. I used a fancy French jar!! Moving up in the world.

Put the cucumber and wakame seaweed in. Stir or shake around, seal well and let marinade in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Drain off the marinade and serve in small bowls. This should be eaten within 2-3 days.
You can reuse the marinade once: let it come to a boil, cool off, and put in fresh vegetables.
Besides cucumbers try sliced turnips, carrots, daikon radish, regular radish, etc.
I served the pork and pickles with some regular rice nori and finely shredded greyhound cabbage that worked really well.

Thanks for reading, I hope you try and enjoy this - also works very well with chicken.

Please do take the time to comment, I really do appreciate the time and effort taken - and its nice to know someone is reading these postings

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Shandon Sushi (or How to cook a Cork Nori) - An Irish take on a Japanese classic

Happy new year to one and all. I do know that I have been updating very little in the last year, but that has been due to moving from Connemara to Cork, and working a great deal at sea.

Good news is I have applied for an allotment in Cork, and will be getting back to growing and cooking.

So, the one thing - which I wrote about a while back, was the use of seaweed in traditional Irish recipies.
Nori are probably the most identifiable Japanese food. Most people associate this delicate looking and delicious seaweed wrapped Japanese treat with the exotic east - and yet it was eaten in Ireland as a staple of the poor for centuries, and the same type of sea veg used to make Nori was eaten in Ireland but known as Sleabhac (pronounced Schlowk).

A very good UK based company producing Nori sheets and a very wide range of dried seaweeds are Clearspring and they are quite widely available in Ireland as well as having an online store.

This was covered in previous postings, an Irish version of a Welsh staple - Laver bread - and a Nettle and Nori omelet.

But Nori itself can be made the main attraction. nori sheets, along with sushi rolling mats are easily found in most health stores.
Personally I tend to shop in the English market a lot - the people across the way from Mr Bells in particular.
I tried to make a type of Irish bulgar wheat one year, using oats - but that failed and was simply too much work, so I just gave up on that and bought bulgar wheat.
In this recipe, I use it to replace expensive sushi rice, and do a quick Irish nori using Bulgar - which in theory I could grow and make myself here in Ireland.

It could not be easier to prepare.

Prepare the bulgar in to a Tabbouleh - in this case it is an Armenian version called Eech.

Anyway, you will need:
Bulgar wheat, 1 cup
Boiling water, 2 cups
Shallot - very finely sliced
Fist full of parsley, very finely chopped
dash of olive oil
Pack of Nori leaves, toasted (most health stores have them)
Half a lemon, squeezed.
Small pack smoked salmon

It could not be easier to prepare.

You will need:
1 cup of Bulgar wheat
2 cups boiling water
1 very finely sliced Shallot.
A handful of parsley - finely chopped.
Half a lemon, squeezed.

Prepare the Bulgar in to a Tabbouleh - in this case it is an Armenian version called Eech.

Put the Bulgar wheat and shallot in a bowl
Add the boiling water and cover
after 15 minutes add the parsley, lemon juice and olive oil to mix through
That's it - Sin E !!!!

Lay the toasted Nori sheets on the sushi mat.
I layered on some smoked salmon slices, then some very thinly sliced cucumber.
After that about a centimeter depth of Eech/Tabbouleh
Baton of cucumber in the center
Serve with a little dollop of homemade horseradish sauce.

I topped mine with a little wasabi and shop bought pickled ginger.
In future, I'd use home grown horseradish sauce - after all wasabi is just Japanese horseradish - and I'd leave out the ginger.

Looks great, and tastes great.

I topped mine with a little wasabi and shop bought pickled ginger.
In future, I'd use home grown horseradish sauce - after all wasabi is just Japanese horseradish - and I'd leave out the ginger.

Looks great, and tastes great.

Think of it - to paraphrase Basil Fauwlty as a Hiberno / Nipponese cucumber sandwich.

Actually, with the fillings it would be Hiberno / Nipponese / Turkish / Armenian hybrid !!!!

I wonder if with reference to my new home would it is a little too much to call it a Cork Norrie recipe??

Although this is my own recipe, if you are interested in cooking with seaweed I still have to say you should invest in Dr. Prannie Rhattigans great book - Irish Seaweed Kitchen

Enjoy - and please feel free to leave a comment - I really do appreciate the time, effort and feedback.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ketchup, the All Tomato, All American condiment - its history is a little more scattered and far more interesting than that, and very apt to my current wanderings.
With Summer and BBQs it is really cool, and interesting, to have as much as possible from your own garden, so why not the condiments!! So, a little history and some tried and tested recipies. Use your heaviest pot for these.

The name 'Ketchup' is derived from Amoy dialect Chinese - kôe-chiap or kê-chiap meaning "brine of pickled fish or shellfish", and had no tomatoes.

The table sauce made it to the Malay states - Singapore and Malaysia..
In Singapore and Malaysia, one can find ketchup based on banana's, lemons and other staples, tied in with vinegar, salt, spices and sugar- think of it sort of like South Asian chutney.  

The Indonesian-Malay word for the sauce is kicap, or kĕchap , which just means sauce
That word evolved into the English word "ketchup"

It was first introduced to the West in the 17th century by sailors returning from voyages to the Far East, and has since evolved into the tomato-vinegar based sauce we know today.
In 1690 Catchup was recorded in the dictionary as " a high East-India Sauce"
In 1730 our own Jonathan Swift in Panegyrick on the Dean -
"And, for our home-bred British cheer, Botargo, catsup, and caveer"
Early ketchup's were heavy on salt, thin and quite vinegary - more like today's Worcestershire sauce  but by the early to mid 19th century the Americans had begun to sweeten their ketchup, and tomatoes had begun to become more acceptable.

A man named Jonas Yerks (or Yerkes) is believed to have been the first man to make tomato ketchup an American phenomenon. By 1837, he had produced and distributed the condiment nationally.

Other companies followed suit - like Heinz who launched their tomato ketchup in 1876 advertised as "Blessed relief for Mother and the other women in the household!"
As food laws became stricter - so did preservatives etc. Ketchup was originally saltier, thinner and with more of a vinegar kick. With the banning of sodium benzoate Heinz and others went for more sugar

The Websters Dictionary of 1913 defined ‘catchup’ as: “table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc. [Also written as ketchup].”

But it was the tomato version that became the dominant condiment on the American, and most European, tables through the 20th century.

This mushroom ketchup is with fish, chicken, meats or pasta, and, as usual, when you make it yourself you control the ketchup ingredients, so you get it preservative and gunk free, you control the sugar levels, and you can even prepare it as organic ketchup.
Real 'gourmet ketchup'!
So why not go ahead and give this great homemade ketchup recipe a try?

2 lbs (900 g) mushrooms, preferably large, open ones
2 oz (56 g) salt
½ teaspoon ground allspice
A pinch of ground mace
A pinch of ground ginger
A pinch of crushed cloves
A pinch of cinnamon
½ pint (285 ml) brown malt vinegar

Wash and dry the mushrooms, trim off the ends of the stalks if necessary but do not peel them.
Chop into small pieces

Layer the mushrooms in the salt in a large bowl.
Cover and leave for 24 hours and then rinse and drain.

Place in a pan with the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Strain through a sieve and pour into hot, sterilized, bottles and seal.

And Horseradish Ketchup
473.18 ml horseradish, grated
236.59 ml cider vinegar
236.59 ml olive oil
4.92 ml salt
59.14 ml sugar
14.79 ml dry mustard (Coleman's preferred)
1.23 ml ground pepper


1 Blend all ingredients together very well.
2 Pour into half pint jars.
3 Cover and refrigerate.
Pork Ketchup


3 pounds apple, tart, cored, peeled & quartered
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup horseradish, freshly grated
3/4 cup sugar, granulated
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Combine the apples and water in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook the apples, uncovered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and have dissolved into a lumpy sauce, about 30 minutes. (The amount of time will depend on the variety of apple used.) Remove the pan from the heat and let the apple-sauce cool a few minutes.

Transfer the applesauce to the container of a food processor. Process the sauce until smooth. Rinse out the saucepan and return the applesauce to it. Add the vinegar, horseradish, sugar, salt, cinnamon, pepper, mustard and cloves.

Bring the ketchup mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the ketchup, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the ketchup from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Store the Apple-horseradish ketchup, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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