The veggie garden is looking a little sad at this stage in the year. Just a few scraggly kale plants, as-yet-unformed purple sprouting broccoli – but we still have some leeks, when we remember to cook them! We’ve recently been having a cold snap so I’ve been making lots of soups and, one day when I happened to remember that we still had to use up the leeks in the garden and actually had some potatoes in the house, I made a version of Clothilde’s minimalist Leek and Potato Soup, which she in turn had adapted from Sophie Brissaud‘s recipe. As I was just after a stock-making session, I used chicken stock as well as water in the soup for more depth of flavour, and finished it off with dollops of ever-present yoghurt. This is very much an approximation of the recipe – I just didn’t want to get out the weighing scales!
I was on RTÉ Radio 1‘s Mooney programme yesterday talking about baking and breadmaking – if you’re interested, you can listen here (I’m on after the 4pm news!) and here are some links to recipes that I either mentioned or intended on mentioning during the show.My ever-popular Chocolate BrowniesChoc Chip Cranberry CookiesLemon & Pistachio Yoghurt CakeAnd, for those breadmakers out there, here is a recipe for a simple Brown Soda Bread and – if you’re getting more adventurous! – you could try Mark Bittman’s No Knead Bread or even experiment with some Sourdough Bread.
Due to a car battery failure, our Valentine’s treat got put on hold until Saturday night but the fondue was definitely worth waiting for. I didn’t make the traditional Gruyere/Emmental fondue but I did put together a variation of Myrtle Allen’s Ballymaloe Cheese Fondue, using local Hegarty’s Farmhouse Cheddar, a few splashes of Fern Bay Sauvignon Blanc, some garlic and parsley. We dipped cubes of sourdough bread, which had been crisped up in a hot oven, pieces of rosemary flatbread from work, dried apricots, some thinly sliced Gubbeen chorizo and salami, cutting the richness with a few cherry tomatoes, gherkins (my latest foodie love!) and a green salad from West Cork. So simple and so good – I’m a fondue convert. The following day we were around at my Clonmel Cousin’s for brunch (yummy muffins!), waxing lyrical about our new fondue set and making her pull an almost forgotten old Christmas present from the back of the cupboard. Don’t forget to use it, Ruth!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Be you romantic or not, there’s just no way of avoiding it. But you can make it easier on yourself. After hearing too many tales of horrendous evenings in restaurants from my waitress sister, I’ve always avoided restaurants on Valentine’s Night in favour of preparing something at home. I’m working all day today so there’s not going to be time to prepare any three course meals when I come home tonight – but I’ve got something even better.
Sunday was family dinner day. One of the advantages of living in the countryside in North Cork is getting to spend more time with my family – and getting to try out lots of new recipes on them! This time round I decided to go with something very simple – Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lemon. “That doesn’t sound like you at all,” the Little Sister said suspiciously when I was talking to her on the phone that morning. “What’s the catch?” The last time she was around we were talking about serving her rabbit from the back garden so her reserve wasn’t entirely unwarranted, although unnecessary on this occasion. A good chicken needs no disguising. I just pushed some lemon thyme under the skin on the breast, tucked a few cloves of garlic and half a lemon inside the cavity and landed it in the oven, serving it with roasted carrots and peppers (livened up with a few chillies) and potatoes. There was supposed to be a side dish of Buttered Leeks as well – our leeks, grown from a bundle of seedlings that a friendly neighbour left on the doorstep last summer, flourished in the garden all winter – but, between breakfast in bed and flat tyres we forgot to pull them.
A quote from one of satisfied customer’s at Denis Cotter’s Guerrilla Gourmet evening, when he cooked a vegetarian meal for adamant beef-eaters at Bandon Mart. Watch the whole programme and access recipes online at the RTÉ Guerrilla Gourmet website – note: the programmes are only available for 21 days after broadcast.Read a short review of Denis Cotter’s beautifully realised Wild Garlic, Gooseberries…and Me here, as well as an older cookbook and Café Paradiso review.
Congratulations to all those who are on the longlist for the Best Food and Wine Blog 2008 – it’s great to see so many old favourites there, including Val’s Kitchen, Italian Foodies, Ice Cream Ireland, Martin Dwyer, The Humble Housewife and Eat Drink Live. There are also plenty of new blogs, reminding me that it’s definitely time to do some work on my blog roll!