Do I Dare Say It …

quick & delicious!

Spring has finally sprung!!  What does that mean on Pole’ Pole’ Farm?  It means lots of mowing, planting, growing, weed whacking, more mowing, building and baking!
This quick scone recipe is just as tasty as the one we learn to make at Ballymaloe Cooking School during the 3 month course, but it is less involved and for those who use imperial, a bit easier to throw together.
makes approx. 5 scones
Ingredients:
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold whole milk
1 large egg
Preheat oven (I use my toaster oven for this) to 425F.    Put the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl and whisk until well incorporated.  Cut the butter into pea size pieces.  Rub the butter into the flour making a very coarse mixture.  Pour in the cold milk and mix with your hand until a soft dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  With clean and floured hands, gently pat the dough down to about a 1 inch thick circle.   Using a floured, 3 inch biscuit cutter cut out as many biscuits as possible, reshaping the dough gently if necessary.   Spray a baking tray with non-stick coating (one that can take high heat such as grape seed etc).  Place a 1/4 of additional sugar on a small plate.  Whisk the egg and pour into another small plate.  Dip each scone top into the egg wash and then into the sugar and place on the baking sheet allowing space between each scone.  Bake until golden brown on top, about 15-18 minutes.  Serve with butter, jam and freshly whipped cream.

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Hot Whiskey Crepes with Raspberries

This quick elegant dessert hits so many flavor points.  It’s hot, tart, citrusy, creamy, and slightly sweet.  Delicious!

serves 2-4

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour

pinch of fine salt

1 large egg

⅔ cup milk

2 teaspoons peanut oil (or other high-temp oil)

1 ¼ cups freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons whiskey

1 ¼ cups fresh raspberries

confectioner’s sugar for dusting

creme fraiche

Method:

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and crack the egg into the well.  Gradually add the milk and whisk into a smooth batter.

Heat a 9″ non-stick pan over medium heat.  Add a little peanut oil to the pan and carefully wipe most of it out with a paper towel (repeat this step before adding each addition of batter if necessary).   Pour approximately 2 ounces of batter (¼ cup) to the pan and swirl to coat as evenly as possible.  Cook for about 1 minute – the batter will begin to show signs of cooking.  Go ahead, loosen the sides and take a peek!  If the underside is browning slightly, it’s time to turn.  So far my method for this is to loosen the edges, grab the crêpe (and the side of the hot pan), cuss, wrangle the crêpe with the spatula and eventually get it to the other side.  Cook for about a minute more, looking for golden brown patches.  Rustic yet elegant, no?  Oui.  Place each cooked crêpe on a plate and set aside.  There should be 4 unless you’ve dropped one or stuck it to the ceiling with a mighty flip attempt.

Pour orange juice, honey and butter to the pan.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, letting the flavors amalgamate.  Remove from heat and add the whiskey.  Place the pan back on the heat and reduce the temperature to low.

Fold each crêpe in half and then in half again making a triangle.  Place each wedge in the pan with the point meeting in the center (so they all fit and show off your geometric prowess).  Let them simmer in the sauce about 1 minute and then carefully turn them.

Plate the crêpes using a spatula.  Pour some juices over the top and add raspberries, sugar and creme fraiche.

(modified from Ryland Peters & Small)

Sushi 101

 

Steve and I have been having some fun with experimenting with homemade sushi and sashimi;  we’ve been reluctant in the past to do so, having had access to some pretty amazing sushi restaurants in Santa Barbara that would be difficult to replicate.  Well, we found out that ‘sushi masters’ we are not, but our fish was fabulously fresh and tasty and our presentation….we’ll skip that part.  As with all dishes, your end results are only going to be as good as your ingredients.  So a little plug for our fish source, Catalina Offshore Products in San Diego, is worth some serious recognition.  We don’t know anyone there or have stock in the company, but we give them 2 big thumbs up.  They have a nice variety of things from the sea, their products are guaranteed, packed very well and they have great customer service.  Thanks Greg (brother in-law) for giving us the heads up on these guys.  Catalina Offshore also have little sushi 101 starter kits, which for most people may not be necessary as the items are often found in the Asian section of most supermarkets.

What’s equally critical – making properly seasoned sushi rice.  A rice that has worked well for us is Nishiki brand – we just follow the package directions.  After the rice is cooked it’s placed in a large wide bowl and fanned until your hand says ‘enough’!  Once the rice has cooled to room temperature, you add a sushi su seasoning that has been dissolved on the stove.  The seasoning is basically 3T sugar, 1T salt, and 1C rice vinegar. For each batch of rice add about 1-2 ounces of the seasoning  and stir well to combine.  Wet your fingers and have a go at making a sushi roll or tekka maki.  Kanpai!!

Cheese Straws

A nice crispy, nutty, cheesy snack for your holiday table!

makes 24-28

8 ounces puff pastry (homemade or thawed)

1 ½ ounces of finely grated Parmesan cheese

pinch of cayenne

egg wash

1 ½ ounces of finely chopped almonds

Preheat oven to 400°.

Roll the pastry to approximately 8×16 inches and about ⅛ of an inch thick.  Brush with the egg wash.  Sprinkle the lower half length with the cayenne and cheese and then fold over the upper half of the pastry, sealing the edge.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almonds. Lightly roll the top with a rolling pin to secure the almonds to the pastry.  Chill for about 20 minutes.

Cut ½ inch wide strips with a sharp knife or pastry wheel.  Twist the strips once or twice and place on a baking tray lined with silicone paper.  Press each end of the strips to the paper to prevent unraveling if necessary.  Bake until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes.

It’s the journey…

I have to say overall I don’t travel well…or smart.  I’m definitely not one of those people that seem to stay mysteriously fresh looking throughout their travel experience.  I really envy those who dress smart and look perky and seem to know where their gate is via some internal GPS system.  I, on there hand, look like a train wreck, feel half dead, normally lost, drink way too much caffeine followed by beer, wine, champagne, followed by way more caffeine while I manage to food crawl through hours of layover.  I need to learn how to spend down time more productively no doubt.

On the brighter side, the 12 weeks at Ballymaloe Cooking School has ended and some students have found employment!  Well done for them.  Others have accumulated some valuable culinary knowledge that they will impart in one form or another throughout their lives.  I’m looking forward to seeing how much information from this experience will stay in my noodle and for how long.  The most enjoyable part of my time abroad was meeting so many fantastic people and working with them (and playing with them) in a very unique and intense environment.  I’ve made some new friends and that in itself was worth the journey.  Please stay in touch and look for posts from the green isle and other places in the near future.  Cheers!

Medicinal Whiskey

My apologies for my absence.  Our school has transformed into what seems to be an infirmary.  I’ve been down for the count for about 3 weeks suffering from this and that, as have so many other students.  I may have stumbled on the cure for all things habadeejabadee stewing around the Green Isle.  My new found irish shaman, otherwise known as Mary from the Ballymaloe Gift Shop, has given me the secret weapon beverage that many subscribe to here.  This could not come at a better time now that winter has really laid down.  Snow has blanketed much of the island!

Medicinal Whiskey

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 shot whiskey, or more to taste

lemon wedge studded with approximately five cloves

I know some may think using an American whiskey in Ireland is near blasphemous, and I could tell you it was a nod to my Jack Daniels swilling, loving family.  The truth, however, is that it was on sale at the market – only €6 for a 700ml bottle!  Who would pass that up?!

In a mug mix the water and brown sugar until dissolved.  Pour in whiskey and swirl with studded lemon wedge.  Consume frequently.

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Dingle Pie

I made this tasty pie as per the recipe, but I can’t see why one couldn’t shortcut by putting the ingredients in a casserole dish and making only enough dough for the top crust.  The dough is actually fairly simple and quick; however, there are a few steps involved for the filling as all savory pies are guilty of.  This is a great weekend cold weather comfort food!

serves 6

1 pound of boneless lamb

9 ounces yellow onion, small dice

9 ounces carrots, small dice

2 rounded teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

10 fluid ounces of stock (quality chicken stock is fine)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

salt and pepper to taste

Hot Water Crust Pastry

12 ounces all-purpose flour

6 ounces butter, salted

4 fluid ounces water

pinch of salt

preheat the oven to 400°

Trim the lamb of fat, if necessary, and cut into 1/2″ cubes.  Place the trimmed fat (or a tablespoon of oil) in a hot saucepan.  Render the fat and remove the remaining pieces.  Add the onion and carrot to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove vegetables and toss the meat in the remaining fat (if there is none, add olive oil).  Cook meat until browned on all sides.

Heat the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan just until fragrant.  Crush or grind into a rough powder.  Add the flour and cumin to the browning meat stirring for  2-3 minutes.  Add stock gradually and bring to the boil.  Stir occasionally.  Add the vegetables back to the pot and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until lamb is tender.  Cool.

Meanwhile make the pastry:  Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the center.  Dice the butter, put it into a saucepan with water and bring to the boil.  Pour the liquid all at once into the flour and mix together quickly; beat until smooth.  At first the pastry will be too soft to handle – place in the fridge for approximately 1/2 hour.  Once the pastry is cool.  roll out to 1/4 inch thick to fit an 8 inch tart tin.  Set some pastry aside for the top and any decoration.  Line the tin with the pastry while trimming the edges.  Fill the pastry lined tins with the meat mixture.  Brush the edges of the pastry with the water and place 1/4 inch thick pastry top on sealing the edges all the way around the tin. Decorate with any trimming and pierce a hole in the center of the pie to allow steam to escape.  Brush the top with egg wash.

Cook the pie for approximately 40 minutes.