Thursday, October 27, 2011

Laver Bread with black pudding

Laver Bread is a traditional Welsh dish, made up of rolled oats and seaweed collected from the shore.
This is a variation on standard laver bread which I find a little bit strong.
This recipe uses cooked, almost caramelised onion to give a milder, sweeter flavour than the original.
Traditionally cooked in bacon fat, I work in black pudding to give it a more Irish flavour - and it works really, really well. I also feel that because of its oatyness and spices, a good black pudding cut through the dough is a very appropriate way of introducing people to edible seaweed.

Main thing you need is a seriously heavy frying pan or even heavy based pot like my latest favorite thing, a dutch oven - the key to success is slow but heavy heat.

The meal is based on a recipe in a great book I recently purchased, Dr. Prannie Rhatigan's Irish Seaweed Kitchen. I find it one of the most exciting cookbooks I have seen in years.

This cookbook I think is an absolute must for anyone living near the shore with an interest in food or self sufficiency. It is full of great recipies, but also advice and clear pictures and drawings of what we can collect around our shores, and the sheer abundance of food.

Advice is given on collection, storage and nutrition, as well as the history of seaweed - or perhaps more properly - sea vegetables in both Irish and international cuisine. We are all familiar with the use the Japanese make of sea weed in Sushi and Miso, but there is a hell of a lot more to it than that.

Coming from Connemara I have always been familiar with using carrageen and crathnach (duileasc) as food but not things like sea spagetti and kelps.

Laver bread is made from Sleabhac - the same seaweed used to make Nori sheets used as wraps in Japanese Sushi rolls.

At the moment my camera is broken, so I will need to update this posting later.

You will need:
1 Onion
1 good rasher of bacon
2 tsp Donegal Rapesseed oil
About 4 oz Sleabhac/Laver/Nori seaweed or 3 Nori sheet wraps re-hydrated
About 2 oz/ 1/2 a cup rolled oats

A great optional extra is 1 slice good black pudding like McGeough's of Oughterard

Take the bacon - if using pudding add this now - and fry in the rapeseed oil until crispy, remove and break up as small as possible.
Put in the finely sliced onion with a slow, steady heat and cook off until soft.

In the meantime, re-hydrate nori sheets, or if using fresh sleabhac boil until soft.
Then mix the oats, bacon, seaweed and soft onions together.
Make into cakes, fry until crispy and serve.

Fantastic with a dash of  Worcestershire sauce

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Winter Plantings

Really the last chance of the year to get winter greens and over winter plants in the ground.

This is the time to plant rhubarb plants, or split up old crowns.
This is also the best time to plant apple and other fruit trees

This year I am very impressed by the Johnstown range, for veg sets and in terms of delivery etc. find them far better than Mr Middletons.

This is the time to plant rhubarb plants, or split up old crowns.

This is also the best time to plant apple and other fruit trees. This is new to me, and Connemara is a challenging environment.
But after research, the best range seems to be English's Fruit Nurseries' here in Ireland.

Buy garlic for planting in October or early November.
I often get asked how many one should plant, I figure, average house one bulb per week so say 50 cloves.

Onions and Leeks - Autumn onion sets can be planted now for fully ripe onions in June, Radar are particularly good.
Now is also a good time to grow leeks - plant well apart so you can intercrop with faster growing winter greens Tatsoi/Pakchoi now.

Brassica's - Greens like Pakchoi and Tatsoi can be planted to give fresh greens to winter stir fries, great with loads of chilli, garlic and ginger - nice fresh flavours in winter without the food miles.

Certain turnips, swedes and radish will also grow slow and be ready early spring.

Legumes For crop rotation some legumes are also good. I like to buy from seedaholics but there are other fine seed houses in Ireland.
Broad beans like Aquadulce, Aquadulce Claudia and Imperial Green Longpod towards the end of the month.
Peas Round seeded peas can be grown from October/November sowings. An organic variety is the Douce Provence. Other varieties include Feltham First, Meteor or Pilot (probably the hardiest of all varieties).

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