Gradually getting through the Observer Food Monthly – it’s like very good chocolate for me, not something to be gobbled down but, rather, to be savoured slowly! – and just came across a feature on Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry of the West Cork Natural Cheese Company, makers of the superlative Desmond and Gabriel cheeses. The cheese-making partners have been in conflict with the department of agriculture since 2002, when their cheeses, all made from raw, non-pasteurised milk, were impounded. They eventually won their case – but it was not without much difficulty and hardship. Read the whole story – The revolution will not be pasteurised – here and then take yourself down to your nearest cheesemonger and buy a large slice of Desmond and Gabriel in tribute to a couple of cheesemakers who fought back.
Trish Deseine is a familiar name in the food blogosphere – particularly to anyone who reads Chocolate and Zucchini – and this Ulster-born food writer is also very well known in her adoptive France. Last year’s publication of Nobody Does it Better: Why French Home Cooking Is Still the Best in the World, was her first major foray into the English-speaking world – her Boudin Noir aux Deux Pommes (Black Pudding with Apples and Potatoes) is one of those useful ideas that is cooked regularly in my house. Now her debut television series, Trish’s Paris Kitchen, starts on RTÉ One tonight at 7.30pm. I don’t know if the programme is going to be broadcast online just yet, although 4oD has completely spoiled me for watching TV on the web (thanks Suzy!), but you can catch Trish being interviewed on Corrigan Knows Food from last June and she was also being interviewed on Monday’s Today With Pat Kenny – scroll down and click on Shows from the past week on the right hand side.
Sometimes you start with one particular recipe and end up going off on a slightly different tangent. That’s what happened with these Chocolate Hazelnut Squares. After a comment by Sarah on my Lemon Traybake, I wandered over to Val’s Kitchen and took a look at the Hazelnut Caramel Slice that she made from a Rachel Allen recipe, dug out the book and started baking.
If you’re anywhere in the Mallow area this coming Saturday, 5 April, you can catch the first Mallow Farmers’ Market in the wee courtyard outside URRU – the culinary store, deli and café where I work – from 10.30am to 1pm. Stalls that will be there include my favourite Fermoy Natural Cheeses, smoked fish from Geraldine Bass’ Old Millbank Smokehouse and herbs from West Cork’s Gairdín Eden, which supply the fantastic salad leaves that we sell in URRU. Hopefully the weather will stay fine!
Since I first wrote about the McDonnell’s Good Food Cookbooks I have had several emails asking for recipes that people remember from their childhood or enjoyed years ago but have since lost. The latest request, from Renee who wants to make the cake for a family occasion, is for the Tea Brack recipe from the first cookbook. This is one of our family favourites, a much used recipe, but – as I well remember from frustrated occasions searching for it – annoyingly filed under the name Irish Tea Brack in the Irish Tea Time Favourites chapter, just across the page from Gingerbread.
In the “I wish I was still living in Dublin” category, check out the forthcoming evening of Italian food, wine and song organised by Greatfood.ie and the Italian School of Cooking for this Saturday night (29 March). Tickets for that are on sale at Greatfood2buy.com. Independent wine blog Sour Grapes – well worth taking a look at for some decent wine reviews – is organising a wine tasting event at Fallon & Byrne for 15 April. Sign up at Sour Grapes here.
Not having a TV, I’ve only just heard about Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory, a Channel 4 series about chocolate entrepreneur Willie Harcourt-Cooze and his dreams of growing, importing and manufacturing high-end chocolate products in England. Although there’s no video online, there is a selection of photos from each of the four episodes of the show, the last part of which was shown last night, alongside some of Willie’s recipes – I particularly like the Black Beans one. And make sure you don’t miss the feature on chocolate ad blasts from the past, including the caramel bunny, the Man from Milk Tray and – of course – “Ambassador! You are spoiling us”.
I think my mother has one of her legendary Pavlovas already in the works for the aftermath of the Easter family lunch but, if you’re not going to be as lucky, these Chocolate Hazelnut Mini-Puds, adapted from a Nigella recipe, are well worth trying. This mixture makes eight – serving our family of seven, with one left over to fight for – but it’s a very easy thing to halve the recipe if you are serving less people. You do not want to over cook these mini-puddings so the easiest way to make them is to melt the butter and dark chocolate just before lunch, leave to cool then combine with the rest of the pre-weighed ingredients as everyone relaxes after the lamb (it’s Easter – it has to be lamb!), sticking it into the oven while the table is cleared and the obligatory pot of post-lunch tea is made. And please do serve with the recommended jug of pouring cream – the combination of cold cream, gooey chocolate interior, crunchy hazelnuts (and, in the spirit of keeping this simple, I don’t worry about peeling them) and crusty sponge is truly worth enjoying in concentrated silence.