Steak is always a very special treat at the cottage but, when Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers sends a couple of wagyu beef steaks, that’s into another stratosphere entirely. They arrived in a brown paper parcel, all tied up with string, neatly labelled and sealed with red wax.
I hadn’t intended on cooking beef cheeks for a family lunch but a chance trip to the English Market to meet Clare and her MM on Saturday morning gave me an unexpected opportunity. Queuing at Tom Durcan Meats, there was a bit of banter with the man ahead of me about the lamb’s liver for one that he was picking up – like myself at the cottage, no one else in his house will eat it – and then, rather than ordering a kilo of stewing beef, I asked the butcher what would he recommend for long, slow cooking. “I have an idea,” he said, “but I’m not sure you’ll like it. How do you feel about beef cheeks?”
A bag of butter beans on the kitchen shelf was the inspiration for this month’s Irish Foodies’ Cookalong. Soaked overnight, then thrown into the pot by themselves – or with some onions, carrots and celery – for about an hour the next morning, the beans needed little attention other than checking the water level every so often. And that’s the hard work done for this Greek Bean and Tomato Stew, which is based on a recipe by great Australian cook Jill Dupliex. The rest of the prep just involves making a simple tomato sauce, adding the beans and serving with some feta sprinkled over.
This has been the summer of the poached chicken. It started when the weather got hot in June and I had a chicken to cook. It wasn’t exactly turn-the-oven-on time so I landed it into a big pot, covered it with cold water, threw in some vegetables and herbs and let it barely simmer away for an hour. The chicken, after cooling in its cooking broth, was moist, juicy and beautifully flavoured. We ate it for dinner that night, with lots of salad, new potatoes and a bowl of homemade Tarragon Mayonnaise, devoured leftovers in sandwiches for the next day’s lunch, and the remnants made their way into a risotto, made with the cooking broth.
When Bord Bia gave me a gorgeous pork loin recently at the Irish Food Bloggers Event, I took one look at the size of it and divided it into two. After all, there are only two and a half meat-eating people at the cottage (that was before we acquired our latest rabbit hunters, a trio of cats who, we hope, will have a longer life span than their five predecessors. But we’re not entirely optimistic).
It was dough at the ready for the first Irish food bloggers Twizza Party (think Twitter plus pizza plus party) last Thursday, organised by Reindeersp of Musings of a med student. A gang of newly acquainted bloggers dementedly (or maybe that was just me!) cooked, photographed and tweeted an assortment of delicious pizzas over the course of the evening.
In our house we really like pizza, especially when the parents aren’t about and the cottage turns into the Sunday lunch stop for the Sister, Little Sister and Small Brother. It’s easy to make the dough and sauce ahead of time, leaving the final assembly for when everybody turns up. That way they also get to choose their own toppings, which keeps everybody happy. This is how it works: