I started growing my own vegetables when I was about 11. After a long winter hording my pocket money, poring over seed catalogues and haunting the seed display in our local hardware shop, I bribed my younger brother to help me dig a few beds in the overgrown back garden. An early adopter of raised beds, my growing spaces were enclosed with random pieces of wood that we filched from around the house when our mother’s back was turned.
Category: Storecupboard Specials
When we had the Mallow Farmers’ Market taking place outside Urru last summer, I never missed the chance to pick up a pack of Old Millbank Smokehouse hot smoked trout from Geraldine Bass. Saturday mornings in work were always busy so I had to watch for a gap between customers to make a dive out of the shop before all the good stuff was gone. Geraldine would also have her smoked salmon and, for a real treat, some very fine smoked salmon pâté but I always made a beeline for the trout, a much underrated ingredient and one that I’d pick any day over smoked salmon.
I have loved Pancake Tuesday ever since I was a child, standing on a chair so I could reach the cooker to make stacks and stacks of pancakes. It sometimes took a long time before the family was satiated! Since those crêpe-making days, the thinner the better, I’ve become a fan of fluffy American pancakes and I’ve yet to decide which way the pancake batter is going to go this evening. Maybe both – I’ve always loved two course pancake suppers and Ricotta and Spinach Pancake Bake is my default savoury option.
With such fantastic air-dried beef, there’s little need to gild the lily.
Craft butcher Jack McCarthy is a passionate man. Make a visit to his shop in the middle of the main street in Kanturk and be prepared to learn all about his wide range of award-winning meat products. On a quick visit to the town to meet up with the Editor earlier today, I called in to pick up some of my favourite North Cork pancetta. We were only in the door two minutes when Jack had us as a willing audience to taste his intensely savoury air-dried beef. Sliced thinly like Italian Bresaola, it melts in the mouth with a silky texture similar to the finest smoked salmon, leaving a lingering flavour of the spices used in the cure. This innovative craft butcher is like a shark, never standing still – for Jack there’s always something to learn or try, a new product to work on, an old one to improve.
It’s moving week so there’s not much cooking and baking going on, apart from me making loaves of brown bread to try and use up some of the six – yes, count them, SIX! (and that’s not mentioning the few that are down at the cottage, ahem…) – bags of flour that I have sitting on my shelves. The flat that we are moving into in Dublin is much smaller and doesn’t have a freezer so for a while there was a mad race to finish up all the frozen foodstuffs at our current place. Then we made a quick trip to DID Electrical so we now have a new under-counter freezer and the pressure is off. It still leaves me scratching my head at some of the things that I have in there though. Who knows why I froze a brioche loaf or what kinds of curry are in all those little plastic containers that I use for lunches? Certainly not the person who should have been labelling them!
This is the most useful recipe to have in your repertoire. I use it – sometimes with the addition of broccoli, chorizo, bacon or chilli – with gnocchi, pasta, cannelloni and polenta, as a topping for pizza and even when baking pancakes. If you can track down some decent Italian plum tomatoes, it’s all the better for that; if you can’t, just keep tasting and adjusting the flavour with sugar if it’s too bitter, red wine or balsamic vinegar if it’s too sweet, tomato purée if it needs more body, water if it’s too thick. If you have fresh basil, add it at the end to lift the flavour of sauce. I often use thyme – fresh if I have it but sometimes dried – if I want the sauce to have a herby tinge.
One of the (very) many events organised by fellow food bloggers is a series of regular parcel exchanges. Last year in New Zealand I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Blog By Mail 2 and now I’ve gotten involved in Euro Blogging By Post #5, this round of which is being run by Jeanne over at the London-based Cooksister blog. Jeanne picked “The Taste of Summer” as her theme so I’ve assembled a parcel along those lines with a (slight) emphasis on Irish products.