Friday, January 29, 2016

Buerre Blank Steak Sandwitch with Cashel Blue cheese

OK, so it’s not the lowest calorie of dishes, but in my defence it has salad.
It’s a great alternative to hamburger for a meal for one – with a side, say a cous-cous salad or the like.

This was a scratch meal, but obviously peppers and mushrooms would be a great addition.
Also, chopped chives in the sauce would - I think - be great

Before making the minute steak, the main feature to the meal is the buerre blank sauce – traditionally for fish or eggs (sort of an easy hollandaise) it is great with steak.
It has a pinch more pepper than the traditional version, and I really think chopped chives would really add to flavour and texture.

This makes EASILY enough for two people, and that’s heavy use.

Two shallots / One small onion chopped finely
Glass white wine – 100ml
25ml Lemon Juice
25ml White wine vinegar
170 grms butter
Tablespoon cream
Good pinch white pepper
Pinch salt.

Put the onions, wine, lemon juice and vinegar into a saucepan.
Reduce until syrupy – about 5 or 7 minutes.
Add cream, salt, salt and pepper – boil for about a minute.

Reduce the heat and add the butter bit by bit.

Use a whisk to blend in the butter, you are going for a hollandaise style consistency.

Pass through a sieve and press –
In future I plan to add chopped chives after straining

Serve warm, good over fish and veg, I like it on the steak.
You can keep in in a thermos until your ready to serve.

For the steak sarnie, put some mustard on a soft bap
I had some Cashel Blue cheese underneath – bloody great.
Some pan fried veg (I only had onions) on the steak, some dressed mixed salad, eat.
Have cardiologist on speed dial, but it’s a winner.

Great with a glass of Claret.

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Flakey Hake with Mushroom sauce on a Rich Seaweed Risotto bed

Firstly, to all readers a Happy and Prosperous 2016.
Thanks for checking in, and I especially appreciate all the comments left.
Please do take the time to leave a message or suggestion - I really appreciate it.

So - I usually get more unusual fish, but Hake is a reasonably sustainable white fish and a great alternative to cod.
Fish, as almost always, purchased from Ballycotton Seafoods in the English Market.

Normally poached with lemon I just wanted to do something a little different - and saw some frozen Wakame in Jia Jia Chinese supermarket on the Coal Quay / Cornmarket Street in Cork city - so that sort of started this recipe.

The flaky hake, rich risotto and moist mushroom sauce make this a real texture as well as flavour dish.

Wakame is a wickedly good seaweed, sweet when cooked which offsets the sharper citrus and wine notes in this recipe. Spinach is a great compliment to it.

 Sincere thanks to Krystine for the great photo BTW.

So, this is really a dish in three parts - the seaweed risotto, the mushroom sauce and the fish.
I'll start with the risotto, it takes the longest - about 20 to 25 minutes.

Half a liter fish or vegetable stock as appropriate
1 small knob of butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion , finely chopped
2 cloves garlic , finely chopped
200 g risotto rice
1 glass dry white wine
salt and pepper
About 50 g Parmesan cheese , freshly grated

Spinach, fresh or frozen - a good handful

Wakame seaweed - fresh or frozen - chopped added at the end

Samphire also a good addition to throw in at the end

A great addition is frozen prawns or mussles.

Make the stock from a cube, or frozen, make sure its warm.
In a separate heavy pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic (you can also add celery) and sweat gently 5 - 10 minutes without colouring.
When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring until the wine has evaporated.

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.
Keep adding ladles of stock, stirring the rice gently, allowing each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.
Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully.
If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

Remove from the heat and add the defrosted and chopped seaweed and spinach, stir to mix well and show off those colours.

Now add Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 5 minutes for the greens to heat through.
This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes creamy.

Sliced button Mushrooms
Dash white wine
Plain flour

Quick and easy. In a pan or pot, throw in a knob of butter and gently sweat a handful of sliced button mushrooms in a dash of wine, season with salt and pepper.
When they are soft, but not browned, and the wine is absorbed/evaporated use a tablespoon of flour to create a basic roux.
Add the cream and allow to thicken - if it goes too thick, add milk to thin it out.
I find a good pinch of dill in the sauce really adds to the dish.

FOR THE HAKE (or other meaty whitefish)
Have a plate or lid for the pan.

Fish Potions
Seasoned flour
Lemon Juice
Dash of dry white wine

Heat a mixture of olive oil and butter in a pan - don't brown or burn the butter.
Unsalted butter is best for this.

Dust the fish portions in seasoned flour and add to the pan.

Start skin side down and fry until crispy, then turn.

Now, add a dash of white wine and a good belt of lemon juice and cover the pan, allow to poach for 3-4 minutes

Plate up and serve.

And once again, Happy new year from Delaney and myself (Molly was shy)

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Vegetarian Pumpkin Lasagna

Thanks for reading, hope you find the recipe of use.
Please do take the time to leave comments, suggestions etc.

A great one for Halloween pumpkin flesh, but butternut squash is good as well.
Bursting with autumn flavour and colour. Based on a recipe from the Evening Echo, but from scratch.

I made this totally from scratch - but you can always buy the lasagna leafs and passata.

Pasta, and particular lasagna is very easy, without machines etc.
I made it before, just click on this text for the link.

This is a very simple meal to make. Very straight forward, without the white sauce.
Passata is easy to store if you want to make a batch, just can or jar it as you would jam so lets kick off with that.

You will need a blender, even a simple hand blender will do.
Then, in terms of ingredients (this is for about half a litre BTW)
About 7 Fully ripened medium to large tomatoes, halved. 
1 Large, finely chopped red onion, white is fine, but add extra puree. 
Olive oil to fry.
3 or 4 Peeled and chopped cloves of garlic. 
1 tbls Finely chopped basil, or basil pesto is really good. 
3 or 4 Sundried tomatos. 
1 good Desert sp Tomato puree. 
1 tsp Course ground black pepper. 
Salt to taste.

Place the tomatoes, garlic, basil and black pepper into a blender and liquidize.

Fry the onion until soft.

Pour the blender contents into your large pan and bring to the boil.

Blitz the tomato puree and sundried tomatos into a paste, mix through and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Now the lasagna. 
You will need:
Pumpkin flesh, about a cereal bowls worth, skinned, seeded and cut into about 1"/2.5cm cubes.
Olive oil
1 big onion, chopped.
2 crushed garlic
About 150 -200 grms spinach, frozen or fresh.
about 250 grms cream cheese, any type will do but a herby type is really nice,
Alternatively Cno Ban from On the Pigs back in the English Market in Cork.
Lasagna sheets, 2 or 3 big ones if home made.
The pasatta.
Some cheese, cheddar is fine, to top off.

Pine nuts are a nice addition with the pumpkin mix as an option.

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C, throw the pumpkin pieces in with the olive oil and toss, season.
Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes, until soft but not mushy.
Ideally you can do this while the pasatta is simmering away.

Meantime, sautee the onions and garlic 'till they are soft.
Throw in the spinich in the last 5 minutes.

Remove the pumpkin pieces from the oven and add in with the onion and spinach and take off the heat. 

Leave the oven ticking over.

Mix them up - try not to break the pumpkin bits.

Pasatta should be ready by now.

Pour in a base layer of pasatta to your lasagna dish - I just used a non-stick loaf tin.

Top that off with some of the pumpkin bits and then dot with the soft cheese.
Throw on your lasagna sheets, then repeat the process.
After two layers, I cap it out, then sprinkle the cheddar on top and bake for another 25 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbling.

Sorry about the photography, but it really is a warming winter winner.

Thanks for reading, hope you find the recipe of use.
Please do take the time to leave comments, suggestions etc.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Simons Spiced Tea Cake - A twist on Halloween Irish Barm Brack

Thanks for reading, hope you find the recipe of use.
Please do take the time to leave comments, suggestions etc.

Halloween, All Souls night is a very Irish tradition. Barmbrack is a tea flavored cake with dried fruits that is seasonal this time of year.

The word Barmbrack probably comes from bairĂ­n breac - speckled loaf - the same etymology as Welsh bara brith.

In Connemara it is quite usual to see dried fruit and treacle added to soda bread to give sweetness and flavour.

This is a more east of Ireland version, but with gusto and without yeast which some recipes have, this is far simpler, and great for kids as the recipe gives easy results.

Traditionally simple black Irish tea (which is mostly Ceylonese) is used, I use Lapsang Souchong to give a deep smokey flavour and fantastic aroma.
If Whiskey is used, then the smokeyness really adds to it.

Its very simple.
You will need -
300ml / 1/2 pint lukewarm tea - I highly recommend Lapsang Souchong, but you can use plain black tea. Just make sure its STRONG-Stewed and black.
225g / 8oz Flour
2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
375g packet of Fruit Mix (or make your own, currants, sultanas, candied peel)
80g Sugar - I use dark brown Muscovado, but any will do.
125g / 4oz Caster Sugar
1 Egg (beaten)
1 teaspoon Mixed Spice* - I use my own blend that is given below
Pinch smoked paprika if you have it (optional)
50ml - good dash of Whiskey (optional, but a good addition)

You can add some chopped nuts if you like (walnuts and/or hazelnuts are seasonal and good)
Even a good sprinkle of rolled oats gives nice texture and flavour - it really is a catch all.a
A lot of people add glazed cherries, but I don't really like them or feel that they are traditional, these cakes were made by working class small farmers after all. Flour, egg, sugar, tea and a drop of whiskey would have been staples, with the dried fruit and mixed spice to give seasonal variation.
 Soak the fruit, nuts, rolled oats and sugar with the mixed spice and smoked paprika for at least an hour - overnight is best.

Now blend the flour and baking powder.
Make a well and break in the egg and mix
Mix in the tea soaked ingredients.
Add a good bit of the liquid from the soaked ingredients and mix it through.
You may not need all the liquid, though you are looking for a wet dough.

Pour the mixture into a buttered or non-stick loaf tin, 1.5 or 2L capacity is about right.

Bake in a preheated oven 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 for approx. one hour or until risen and firm to the touch.
Its actually better if its left for two days wrapped in baking paper

Fantastic smeared in butter, and a nice cup of tea


*Simons Mixed Spice
This is my own blend. Its a bit more fragrant than commercial types,
the cardamom takes an edge off the very sweet taste, makes it more savoury.
But you can adjust it as you wish, and commercial types are perfectly OK for this, but I would recommend the cardamom as an addition.

1 tsp ground mace.
1 tsp ground allspice or pimento corns.
1 tsp ground cinnamon.
1 tsp ground nutmeg.
1 tsp cloves (or ground)
1 tsp ground coriander or 1.5 coriander seed.
1 tsp ground Ginger
1/2 tsp Paprika
8 Green cardamon pods

Grind down and mix in a coffee grinder, put in airtight jar - label, store.

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