Inspired by my perusal of Heidi Swanson‘s superb cookbook Super Natural Cooking, I’ve been motivated to start baking with more esoteric – to me, at least – grains and foods. I’m all stocked up on my favourite quinoa to try out some of her recipes (you’ll find plenty more online at 101 Cookbooks), millet, amaranth, linseed and – in the move – rediscovered some Letheringsett Watermill Organic Spelt Flour from our trip to Norfolk. Subtitled “Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into your Cooking”, it’s a perfect read if you’re interested in cooking with whole foods and wanting to learn more about what is available and what can be done with it. And, unlike the educational but boring-looking Fresh and Wild Cookbook, it looks amazing.
The first time I heard of Peter Gordon – the New Zealand-born, London-based chef of the Providores and Tapa Room – was when the whole Antipodean fusion cookery style was being written about in English newspapers like The Sunday Times during the early 1990s (my newspaper of choice through college although, after discovering Nigel Slater‘s food section in The Observer, I’ve never looked back!). While I lived in New Zealand in 2005, he opened a restaurant in Auckland – dine by Peter Gordon – and as a result was all over the NZ newspapers and food magazines. That’s how I came across his fantastic and much-made (it’s especially good as a Christmas pressie) Tomato and Chilli Jam recipe.
If you’re interested in sustainable food production, all three Dublin Slow Food Convivia are hosting a film screening and debate at the Sugar Club in Dublin on Tuesday 8 May. The films that will be shown are: Fowl, an Irish documentary by Andrew Legge, which examines modern day chicken farming and western people’s relationship with food; and The Power of Community – How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, a film about how a country can successfully traverse the reduction and loss of finite fossil fuel resources.
Being a big fan of porridge – especially good with Muscovado sugar and natural yoghurt on a cold morning in the cottage – I always have a bag of oats in the house and they often find their way into my baking. I regularly make batches of Anzac Biscuits and Oaty Apricot Biscuits to keep the tins filled. I’ve also been known to make my own Granola, using Tessa Kiros’ recipe in Apples for Jam as a starting point, throw a few handfuls into Brown Soda Bread, and have been experimenting with variations of Bill Granger‘s Muesli Bars. But, of all the oaty dishes that I make, this one for Chocolate Flapjacks is a true favourite. It originally came from Green and Black‘s decadent book of chocolate recipes but has gone through a few changes since with the addition of coconut, dates and seeds. Although there’s lots of butter in it (not to mention the golden syrup and sugar!), it’s still a slightly healthy snack and has been known to get me though many an evening’s post-work yoga class.
Continued from Restaurant Review: The Old Convent – Part I.The fifth course – a palate-cleansing Organic Lemon and Ginger Sorbet – caused arguments. The Cousins, who are identical twins, thought that the ginger was more pronounced. The rest of us were definitely on the lemon side – as the wine kept flowing, we wondered if the world is divided into lemon-tasters and ginger-tasters.
When you’re going out for an eagerly anticipated eight-course meal at a restaurant in the middle of the Tipperary countryside it would be nice to turn up a little early, take some time to appreciate the setting and relax while perusing the wine list. In an ideal world. As it happened, ten minutes after we were supposed to arrive, the Boyfriend and I – plus my Clonmel-based and Dublin-based Cousins, accompanied by the Chilli-Intolerant Husband and the Ex-Planner Partner – were still chugging along in a Clonmel taxi that seemed to be in no hurry to get us to our destination. As we pulled up outside the imposing frontage of The Old Convent, just outside Clogheen, there was a mad scramble to pay, figure out when we should be collected and get out of the taxi but, as soon as we set foot on the black and white tiled floor of the elegant hallway, all stress was over. Calmly greeted and smoothly ushered to our table by proprietor Christine Gannon, we settled into an evening of superb food, wonderful wine and great service.
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!