Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Break of the stalk peel of the outer leaves until the soft centre ones and the choke seed heads are left. Quickly scoop these out with a spoon and discard, squeez some lemon juice over the heart and rub it in to stop it discolouring.
Now trim the heart paring any of the dark green leave ends remaining.
Rub with lemon again.
Place in boiling salted water to blanch for 4-5mins depending on the size of the hearts.
Eat as they are with some olive oil and salt, or use chopped and added to a creamy sauce with pasta.
In the picture on this page I served it with Hollandaise sauce, smoked bacon and sun-dried tomatoes.
Sunday, 9 June 2013
A Simple Method.
Put 28g/ 1oz of ground coffee in your coffee plunger/ cafetiere add 840ml/ a pint and a half of fresh cold water or still bottled, cover and leave in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Then simply add the add the plunger and press down slowly.
This method produces a less astringent coffee with a round taste and more natural caramel notes, no need for all the technical data but put simply, in a normal brew proceedure if the waters too hot it burns your beans and burnt beans of any type never taste good.
Enjoy cold as it is or slightly sweetened with condensed milk.
Warm it in a pot if you wish to have a regular 'Americano'.
You don't have to drink it all at once this will keep for up to a week in the fridge, for drinking chilled or warmed as you desire.
Thursday, 6 June 2013
At the moment they are in season and apart from just eating them as they are enjoying their dribbly mess or wrapped with some salty bacon we like to serve them dried crisp, semi dried, poached and jellied, with Vanilla Meringue Champagne sorbet and Fresh Cream. Light and refreshing for summer.
Monday, 3 June 2013
Friday, 12 April 2013
Dandelion Lemonade; HERE COMES THE SUMMER
‘Time to discover what fun is about’, 1.42 mins of perfect pop by the Undertones, there’s no guarantee of long legs lying in the sun in this quest but dandelion heads always appear, their florets clocking and disappearing in a breeze, they’re out now, grab some! Have a bit of fun making pure ‘pop’ that’s good for you.
30-40 dandelion flower heads
1.5 l / 3 pts water
1 Lemon, cut into quarters
1tbspn Spoon of Honey
Place the heads in a suitable sized bowl or bucket, first squeeze the juice of lemon quarters into it then just chuck the skins and all in, add the sugar honey and stir in the water, leave to stand in a warm place uncovered/ or covered with muslin for 24hrs. Strain, taste adjust the sweetness with a little more honey if you like. Chill the ‘pop’ before drinking!
Monday, 25 March 2013
Latte Sponge Cake and Olive Oil Scones
I had to bake a cake recently and wanted something simple and quick, a quick browse in a book I always keep handy for such occasions, ‘Full and Plenty’ by Maura Laverty a gem of a cook book from the 60’s commissioned by the Irish Flour Millers Association, gave me up these two recipes, the first originally called ‘Hot Milk Sponge Cake’ in her book, I've just added the coffee to the original recipe and called it Latte Cake. The second, while waiting for the cake to bake I retreated to the book and came across ‘Salad Oil Scones' new to me -at 500 pages and only a few pictures there's always something new in it.I liked the idea and gave them a go, I replaced the 'salad oil' with Olive Oil, (she had probably intended to use olive oil in her recipe but wanted to save you a trip to the chemist, just about the only place you’d get olive oil for sale in those days) She describes the scones as ‘extra rich and tender with a delicate crust top and bottom’.They are baked in a very hot oven, and bring the full fragrance of the olive oil out. Bake the cake first then turn up the heat and give the scones a go.
From the foreword of ‘Full and Plenty’ by Maura Laverty
‘Good ingredients are more readily available in Ireland than any other country in the world. An American agricultural expert once told me that we should go down on our knees and give thanks for those easy-going ways of ours which economist bewail. Thanks to the fact that our soil has not been worked to dust, we enjoy better-flavoured meat, more succulent vegetables, creamier milk, richer butter and cheese and more nourishing wheat.’
Prescient words considering in the sixties we'd be led down the supermarket aisles of pre-packaged food.Thankfully we are starting to turn the cycle back to appreciating what good foods we have to offer from our own land and the satisfaction of home cooking.
Latte Cake (Hot Milk Cake)
The original recipe used vanilla and lemon extracts for flavourings, and there no reason this one can’t be changed to use ‘Hot Chocolate’. I decorated mine with a simple coffee butter icing (50g soft butter beat with 100g icing sugar beat well with a teaspoon of coffee dissolved in a teaspoon of water as a simple topping).
6 tablespoons/ 90ml of Hot Milk
2 teaspoons Instant coffee
6oz/175g Self-raising flour - sifted
Separate the egg yolks and whites.
In a bowl beat the yolks- use an electric hand mixer, and then add the sugar and coffee beat well adding the hot milk slowly until the mix is light and creamy. Fold in the flour, then beat the egg whites until stiff and fold in to the rest of the mix.
Bake in a buttered 8” 20cm cake tin at 325°f; gas mark 2,165°c in a pre-heated oven 25-30mins or until the cake starts to shrink from the side of the tin.
Turn it on to a wire rack to cool.
Olive Oil Scones (Salad Oil Scones)
I like to add a little coarse sea-salt and dried rosemary to the surface of these before baking,
Like all soda breads these taste great split and toasted the next day.
8oz/227 Self-raising flour
Good pinch fine sea-salt
2 oz/56g olive oil
6 oz/176g buttermilk
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour in the oil and butter milk, stir in with a fork until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl. This dough will be wet and sticky, but we don’t want to add extra flour when kneading and shaping instead use a sheet of parchment paper or cling-film to work the mix on.
‘turn the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper or cling-film; lift paper/film by one corner and fold over in half, press down firmly, pull paper/film back. Repeat with other corners of paper /film until dough looks smooth.’
Cover with another piece of parchment/film and press flat to ½” 12mm thick, at this stage try to get it rectangular in shape and cut into small rectangles with a knife and place onto a baking sheet. Bake for 10 mins, in a very hot oven 475°f/ 250°c/gas mark 7
For more info on Maura Laverty follow this link.
Sunday, 24 February 2013
Got this today in the Sunday Business Post.
Food review by Ross Golden Bannon
Francesca' s a flair for food,
The quiet little restaurant in Brooks Hotel seems
an unlikely place for a feed of good nosh. Yet,
several people have mentioned it to me and a
closer inspection of a menu proudly boasting Irish artisan suppliers suggested I had been
prejudiced in my judgement.
I headed in for dinner with a foodie impresario and we found ourselves in a simple room -
certainly hotel-like, but cosy nonetheless. There were only two other tables occupied and
the piped music made you feel like a shopping cart might appear around the corner at any
moment. It didn't bode well, but our old-school waiter soon put us at ease, offering us a
choice of tables and filling glasses with water as he chatted away.
The menu reads bistro-style, and manages to balance golden-oldies with hotel staples and a
few interesting twists.
Being a Dublin restaurant, I felt its seafood chowder (€6.50) should be worth a try.
Recently the long food trail connected to processed burgers came as a surprise to many,
but just as many would be surprised at how much frozen fish our coastal capital serves -
and how far that frozen fish has travelled.
This version was served in a small bowl; a good choice as chowder is a rich dish. Although it
was super-hot, and high temperatures can often kill delicate flavours, there were plenty of
fishy notes to be found. Less chunky than I'd expected and with a restrained use of cream,
it looked like we might be off to a good start.
We'd ordered a bottle of Villa Huesgen Riesling from Mosel (€39.50), which had just the
right balance of fruit, youthful spritz and dryness for nearly all our food.
A further starter was the St Tola goat's cheese, which was served warm and came with a
slick of muted, flavoured sauce. A third element of crunchy nuts all made for a happy frame
for a quality Irish cheese. I also liked what they did to this dish when the bill came: it was
automatically included in the three-course table d'hôte menu for €29. Nice touch.
For the main course I had the pan-fried Dublin Bay prawns (€26) with colcannon and an
Irish whiskey cream sauce. The colcannon was packed with fine greens - though the mashed
potatoes had dried out a little. The sauce made for a velvety and necessary accompaniment.
Slivers of crispy bacon added a salty underpinning yet were elegantly placed so the 'bacon
and cabbage' antecedent stepped out in style. My companion had the pork belly which was a
magic dish of contrasting crispiness, sweet fat and rich flesh. Superb.
We'd dithered over side orders and decided against them in the end, but the waiter brought
a complimentary dish nonetheless. Very welcome it was, too, as the roasted carrots and
courgettes were singing with flavours.
Desserts were a little disappointing, though they read well. We passed on the Irish coffee
and hazelnut meringue (€6.95) and instead went for an Irish honey cake which came with
crème fraiche. This was an inventive use of Irish ingredients but, sadly, the sponge was dry
This possibly might not have been a problem had the honey been heated and allowed to
soak all the way through. The steamed orange sponge suffered the same fate. It was a pity,
as there were good flavours there and these are sensible desserts for a hotel needing
dishes with a slightly longer shelf life.
The menu on the website didn't match the menu on my visit and, in trying to source it,
some cracks appeared in service ("Sorry, we're too busy to send it to you now"; that was
on the fourth phone call).
Changing menus is a good thing so a hotel should be showing this off, not guarding it like
the third secret of Fatima. Wine lists are also a selling point, and should be easily available -
rather than giving only one person access to email.
Nonetheless, Francesca's is somewhere I'll happily return to, and though there were some
missteps, the commitment to delivering well-sourced food for the most part matches the
listed artisan and quality suppliers. New service systems are needed but, as they buck the
trend in hotel food, I suspect they can deliver on this.
Breaking the bank
Starter: smoked organic Clare Island salmon pea shoots, horseradish snow €10.95
Main course: pan-fried Irish Hereford 10oz sirloin steak, garlic butter and rosemary fries
Dessert: selection of homemade ice creams, Irish farmhouse cheeses and water biscuits
Wine: Margaux Château La Bastide Dauzac 2004 €62.50
Dinner for two: €156.40
Watching the pennies
Starter: soup of the day €5.50
Main course: homemade gnocchi with basil and sun-dried tomato and Parmesan cream €16
Dessert: Irish coffee and hazelnut meringue €6.95
Wine: Babington Brook Chardonnay €28.50
Dinner for two: €85.40
Tomás Clancy rates the wine list
There are 40 wines in this medium-length list, which contains a distinct set of ten wines
offered by the glass, carafe or bottle. Pricing is disappointing, especially in relation to
Prosecco. A vast majority of restaurants come in around our benchmark €30-€32.
However, here the Masotina, Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene NV comes in at €52 a
bottle or €10.50 a glass. Other fine wines appear with reasonable prices, such as the
24/02/2013 Sunday Business Post
excellent Villa Huesgen 'By the Glass', Riesling, Mosel, 2010 at €38.50 a bottle; €26.50 for
the 500ml carafe and €9 a glass.
Our white wine value for quality pick is the One Tree Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New
Zealand 2007 at €36, and our red pick is the medium bodied, spicy Domaine des Espiers,
AC Cotes du Rhone 2010 at €33.50. A competent, well designed and functional list.