Food Unearthed

17 Sep 2018

For many of us, preventing food waste is simply not allowing the bag of spinach in the bottom of the fridge get sweaty and go off, or becoming more sensible with your shopping and planning. But what if we were to use up food that many people think is only fit for the bin or is inedible? With an estimated 7.3 million tonnes of food thrown away every year, we must ask ourselves how to bring food waste reduction into our everyday cooking and be more aware in our homes. This month, my Lens & Larder partner, Cliodhna Prendergast and I have combined forces with Brown Thomas and the Le Creuset Food Unearthed Campaign to create recipes that embrace our leftover ingredients and make the most of our food without having any food waste.

If you think about it, we have actually been preparing waste reduction dishes for centuries using recipes that that have been designed expressly for that purpose. Bread and butter pudding was a way to use up stale bread, Coq au Vin was a recipe developed to use up an old cockerel that would otherwise be too chewy to say the least, however, slowly cooked in the acid and alcohol of old white wine this dish has become a favourite in our kitchens. Another dish that emerged in an effort to use up unwanted fish was Bouillabaisse. Developed by the provincial French fishermen of Marseille as they found it difficult to sell the bony rock fish they fished locally. A broth was made from the rock fish, usually including some leftover shellfish for added flavour and mixed with tomatoes, fennel, saffron and sometimes potatoes. If you fast forward to today’s modern clean eating movement, we can embrace things like juice pulp and parts of vegetables that we wouldn’t ordinarily find edible because they are fantastic ingredients that you can get creative with and that tast delicious when prepared nicely.

We are proud to support #lovefoodhatewaste and Le Creuset’s Food Unearthed campaign and have created two delicious recipes that use up ordinarily discarded foods and turn them into dishes that the whole family will love.  Serve these gorgeous dishes on Le Creuset’s stunning new line of tableware for an unforgettable dining experience all around.

Bouillabaisse
Serves 4-6
Because this dish is based on wasted food the ingredients, you do not have to be exact, any kind of crustacean shells like prawns, crab, lobster, crayfish, I happened to have lobster. I used haddock bones but any white fish will work. The same goes for the vegetables, these are rough ingredient measures how ever use what you have available, ends of onions, fennel, celery trimmings etc are all good.

You can serve it as a hearty soup with the fish that clings to the bones only or you can make it a more filling stew by adding cooked mussels, clams and or a piece of steamed or baked chunky white fish. It’s up to you.

Everything can be made in advance (it is best when it has a chance for the flavours to develop), and the extra seafood added before serving if you please.  To serve you need some toasted crusty bread, baguette is traditional however you should try to get some stale bread from your bakery so whatever is left over is good, ciabatta and sourdough are delicious as the rouille can settle into the air pockets.

Stock
Preheat oven to 200°C
500g lobster shells
500g fish bones/heads cleaned of any blood and glands.
250mls white wine
2lts. water
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 fennel bulbs, reserve the feathery green parts for serving, use the outer parts here and reserve the inner pieces for the main dish.
2 sticks of celery
4 tsp. tomato puree
5 peppercorns

Place the lobster shells on a tray in the oven to roast for 20 minutes. This intensifies the flavour but also makes them easier to break up for the stock.

When the shells are roasted transfer them to a large pot and break up with a hammer or the end of a rolling pin.

Add the fish bones and heads and the wine and simmer for 5 minutes.

Then add the water, onions, fennel, celery, peppercorns and tomato puree.

Bring to a simmer only and turn down the heat so it is simmering very gently for 1 hour. Do not stir. Skim the surface to remove any scum that rises to the top.

Strain through a sieve lined with a piece of muslin/cheese cloth for a nice clear broth.

The Broth
Preheat oven to 200°C
1 onions finely chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, finely sliced (inner parts from the fennel used in stock)
6 medium potatoes cut into medium sized cubes
2 tbsp. fennel seeds, warmed on a pan and ground a little
400mls white wine
salt and pepper
1 tsp. saffron strands (powdered saffron can be use here but threads are best)
6 over ripe fresh tomatoes crushed
1kg fish bones

First, add the saffron threads to a little warm water or warmed shellfish stock, it will take a little time for the flavour to activate.

Sweat the onions and garlic, with a little salt and pepper in the olive oil until translucent, add the fennel, mix through and remove to a bowl.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pot, heat and add the potatoes, toss in the oil and allow to cook just a little. Add the onions, garlic and fennel back into the pot with the ground fennel seeds, mix through and then add the white wine. Allow the wine to reduce by half.

Add the saffron in its water/stock to the pot along with the tomatoes and cook in for a moment. Then add the stock. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Best to allow it to rest for a while so the flavours can develop before serving.

The fish bones can be cooked now and the flesh added to the pot.

Place the fish bones on an oven tray, removing any fins with a scissors and brush on some olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the tray in the oven for 10- 15 minutes. Remove and when cooled slightly, remove all flesh from the bones, carefully sorting through and removing any little bones. Add the flesh to the cooling bouillabaisse.

Rouille:

1 egg yolk
¼ – ½ lemon juiced
200mls olive oil
1 pinch saffron threads
½ roasted/pickled red pepper,
a handful of stale bread with no crust
2 tbsp. seafood broth from the pot
Plus bread for serving.
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic grated

Soak the saffron in 2 tablespoon of warm seafood broth. Then add the bread and soak.  Add this to a food processor with the red pepper, garlic and cayenne. Blitz, then add the egg yolk, blitz again. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add the lemon juice in drops along the way, if the rouille looks like it may be starting to split, a dash of lemon juice will bring it back. The result should be a red-ish mayonnaise type sauce to spread on the toast or add to the broth. Check for seasoning. Chill until serving.

To serve:

Slice the bread in long strips and toast.

If adding other seafood prepare and cook now.

Heat the bouillabaisse gently and serve (with or without extra seafood) in bowls with fresh green fennel tips on top. Put a dollop of rouille on the toast and serve with the soup with extra rouille on the side.

Italian Juice Pulp “Meatballs”
Serves 4-6
These delicious meatballs take away the guilt of discarding all of the juice pulp you have after juicing just a couple glasses for your morning detox elixir. If you fancy, you can add this mixture to beef or pork if you must have the protein boost.

Makes 10 Balls
500g pulp of beetroot and carrot, excess juice squeezed out
1 egg white
200g day old bread crumbs
30g grated parmesan
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp lemon zest
Sea salt and pepper to season
1 tsbp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 180c
Combine pulp, egg white and bread crumbs in a mixing bowl. Add garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, lemon zest and salt and pepper, mix to combine thoroughly. Shape into 10 meatballs (or more/less -size to your liking).

Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over med heat. Add meatballs and cook for 10-12 minutes. Remove from skillet and transfer to baking dish. Place on hot preheated oven for 25 minutes until cooked through.

Serve with pasta and sauce of your liking.

Kale Spines with Lemon and Thyme
Keep your kale spines, they are absolutely delicious and just as nutritious and filled with antioxidants as the leaves. Just blanch and grill and you have a surprisingly tasty no-waste side dish.

Serves 4-6

1 dozen kale stems
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp crushed garlic (opt)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Bring large pot of water to the boil. Place kale stems into boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and cool. Place kale stems into ziplock bag with olive oil, salt and papper and garlic if using. Place in fridge to marinate for 30 mins up to overnight. Prepare hot coals for grill. Place kale stems on grill until charred. Serve.

Slan Abhaile,
Imen xx

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Lamb + Spinach Quiche

16 Sep 2018

I’m delighted to team up with Bord Bia in support of the European lamb campaign again this autumn. Lamb is one of the most versatile and flavourful meats you can buy. It’s rich and flavoursome and there are so many creative ways you can use lamb, whether you have an afternoon or just minutes to spare.

Personally, I am always trying to devise recipes to put together with leftover roast meats as we do a lot of roast dinners at the farm and there is always something to spare. One of my favourite go-to recipes to bang up is a simple bacon (ham), rosemary and cheddar cheese quiche or omelette, but this Greek-style European lamb quiche has come in and stolen the show.

With some of the best European lamb coming from local farms in Ireland, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to this outdoor-raised, grass-fed ingredient.

Lamb and Spinach Quiche
PREP: 15 mins
COOK: 30 mins
To serve 3 (as a main course) or 6 (as a starter)
350 g cooked roast lamb, finely sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
200 g fresh spinach leaves, washed
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
3 eggs
250 ml low-fat crème fraiche
1 teaspoon dried thyme
100 g Feta-style or cheddar cheese, crumbled
1 pack ready-made short-crust pastry
2 tablespoons pine nuts
METHOD
▪ Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180 C° (350°F).
▪ Heat the oil in a high-sided frying pan or wok. Add the spinach first and then the garlic and cook on a medium heat until all of the water has evaporated, approximately 1-2 minutes.
▪ Season, drain in a colander and press firmly with a wooden spoon to remove as much water as possible. Sprinkle the lamb with the thyme.
▪ Beat the eggs with the crème fraiche in a bowl. Add the spinach, lamb and half the cheese. Stir and adjust the seasoning if needed.
▪ Line a large tart dish (27 cm) with the pastry. Pour the filling in evenly, then sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese and pine nuts.
▪ Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
▪ Serve hot, with a salad, or (take out) as a starter (for 6) or as a main course (for
Scullery Notes:
This recipe is an excellent way to make the most of the leftovers from Sunday’s roast lamb. Try this delicious tart warm or cold at a picnic or as a change from sandwiches in the office.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

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One of the best food memories I have from my initial years in Ireland is beans on toast. It often came up in conversation regarding what mothers were feeding their toddlers, and I was repeatedly informed that Irish kids were mad for beans on toast or cheesy beans on toast, a concept that sounded so peculiar to me.  When I was finally convinced to try it myself, I absolutely loved it.  I mean,  zesty, saucy baked beans combined with the crunch of toast with a kiss of melted cheese is like a little slice of heaven. Sadly, Geoffrey took one bite of his, spit it out, and threw it all across the room. There is probably still evidence of that beans-on-toast-day on that kitchen wall in Adare. Even now, Geoffrey will not eat a baked bean, but he’s definitely missing out on greatness. Tucking into any sort of pork and beans creation on a bed of fluffy mash or toppled onto a crust of sourdough toast is the cat’s whiskers, especially when the weather is getting chilly and you are craving something warm and cosy, straight out of the oven.

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For this grown-up, Spanish-style pork and beans recipe, I am once again partnering with the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia, who are on a mission to encourage the nation to broaden their culinary horizons and eat more Quality Assured pork. Pork is packed full of flavour and really versatile; with just a few key ingredients it is easy to enhance its natural flavours to make a tasty meal that is high in protein and great value, like this smoky pork with bacon, paprika and butter beans. It’s like Irish food for the soul.

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Bord Bia is calling for the people of Ireland to take on their own #PorkNight Challenge. On a night of your choosing, Bord Bia is asking to go beyond go -to standby suppers and start prepping something tasty with pork.

The hope is that #PorkNight will become a regular in many households and if you are so inclined, you’ll find a suite of really easy-to-prepare, flavoursome and versatile pork recipes on bordbia.ie for inspiration.

Always look for the Bord Bia Quality Mark on pork so that you know it has been produced to the highest Bord Bia quality standards and where it comes from.

www.Bordbia.ie/qualitypork

Pork with Bacon, Paprika and Butter Beans

This traditional Spanish combination of pork and paprika gives a dish rich in flavour and colour.

Serves: 6
Time: 2 hours

600g pork shoulder, well trimmed and diced into 2cm pieces
100g bacon, diced
2 tablesp. rapeseed or olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 red chilli, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablesp. smoked paprika
1 teasp. ground cumin
200ml water
75ml white wine
400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g tin butter beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 tablesp. chopped fresh parsley
1 teasp. runny honey

Set the oven to Gas Mark 3, 160°C (325°F).

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Brown the pork pieces in batches. Remove the meat to an ovenproof casserole dish. Add the bacon to the frying pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Add it to the casserole dish with the pork.

Add the onion and chilli to the same frying pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, smoked paprika and cumin. Stir and cook for another minute. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Then add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the chopped tomatoes and the water and bring back to simmer. Season with a little salt and black pepper. Transfer to the casserole dish, cover with a lid or tinfoil. Place in the oven and cook for about 11⁄2 hours or until the meat is tender. Keep an eye on it and add a little more water if the sauce becomes too dry. For the last ten minutes stir through the butter beans.

Just before serving stir in the honey, season to taste and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes and tender stem broccoli or sautéed pak choi.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

 

 

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In June, I travelled to visit my BFF who recently relocated to Seattle (holler if you live there and want to reach out!) While in Washington, I experienced the San Juan Islands, Pike Place Market, Nora Ephron’s favourite coconut pie from Dahlia Bakery, and an absolute life-changing bowl of pork ramen. Ordinarily, I must make my ramen from scratch at home using our own table chickens and homemade noodles, so it was a double treat to sit back and relax while a steaming bowl of ramen was prepared and served to me….but trying the pork (Tonkotsu) version of these gorgeous Asian noodles is what I found to be most remarkable—noodles in a broth beautifully balanced with aromatics, pork flavour, and just so much body.

Inspired by my relentless craving for that Seattle ramen bowl and Bord Bia’s new #PorkNight campaign, I rustled up some slow-cooked pork ramen this weekend which everyone at the farm loved as much as me. This Japanese style soup is easy to prepare in either a slow-cooker or the oven, you simply cook the pork until it is tender in its highly flavourful broth, add vegetables, followed by the ramen or udon noodles, a hard-boiled egg, and you’re all ready to serve.

hen

Once again I am partnering with the Irish Food Board, Bord Bia, who are on a mission to encourage the nation to broaden their culinary horizons and eat more Quality Assured pork. Pork is packed full of flavour, is really versatile and with just a few key ingredients it is easy to enhance its natural flavours to make a tasty meal that is high in protein and great value, like this slow-cooked pork ramen.

Bord Bia is calling for the people of Ireland to take on their own #PorkNight Challenge. On a night of your choosing, Bord Bia is asking people to go beyond their go -to standby suppers and start prepping something tasty with pork.

The hope is that #PorkNight will become a regular in many households and if you are so inclined, you’ll find a suite of really easy-to-prepare, flavoursome and versatile pork recipes on bordbia.ie for inspiration (recipe difficulty ranges from kitchen novice to seasoned cooks alike.)
Always look for the Bord Bia Quality Mark on pork so that you know it has been produced to the highest Bord Bia quality standards and where it comes from.

www.Bordbia.ie/qualitypork

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Slow-Cooked Pork Ramen
You can cook this in the oven if you don’t have a slow cooker. Just place all the ingredients in an ovenproof casserole dish, cover and cook at Gas Mark 3, 160°C (325°F) for two hours.
Serves 6
Time: Slow Cooker – 7 hours
Oven – 21⁄2 hours
INGREDIENTS
1kg lean, boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 equal pieces
2 tablesp. rapeseed or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
5cm piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 ltr. homemade or low salt chicken stock
1 leek, halved lengthwise and coarsely chopped
100g button mushrooms, brushed clean and coarsely chopped
3 tablesp. soy sauce
1-2 tablesp. Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste
6 large eggs
250g ramen or udon noodles
4 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablesp. sesame seeds, lightly toasted
METHOD
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Season the pork with a little salt and black pepper. Brown the pork in batches then transfer it to the slow cooker. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic and ginger to the frying pan. Cook for about five minutes until softened. Stir in about 200mls of the stock. Bring to the boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the pan. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Add the leek, mushrooms and remaining 800mls of stock to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on the high-heat setting for 6 hours. The pork should be very tender at this stage.

When the pork is cooked transfer it to a cutting board. Using 2 forks, break the pork into bite-sized chunks, removing and discarding any fat. Strain the broth through a fine sieve. Discard the solids. Return the pork and broth to the slow cooker and season to taste with soy sauce and hot sauce. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for about 30 minutes to warm through.

Place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes for soft centre. Allow an extra 2 minutes for hard boiled eggs. Run under cold water to cool the eggs, peel and set aside. Cook the noodles as per the packet instructions.

To serve: Divide the noodles evenly between individual bowls. Add the pork and broth to the bowls then sprinkle over the scallions, add the halved eggs, drizzle over a little hot sauce and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Slan Abhaile,
Imen

(This post has been sponsored by Bord Bia)

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IMG_1284

I’m delighted to team up with Bord Bia in support of the European lamb campaign again this year. Lamb is one of the most versatile and flavourful meats you can buy. It’s rich and flavoursome and there are so many creative ways you can use lamb, whether you have an afternoon or just minutes to spare. Everything from my Sunday roast rubbed with wild herbs and seasonings, to kebabs, curries, shepherd’s pie, burgers on the grill and so much more. Lamb is the ultimate comfort food, yet can be perfect as part of a light summer salad as well.  And with some of the best European lamb coming from local farms in Ireland, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to this outdoor-raised, grass-fed ingredient.

hen

One of my favourite treats growing up was Sloppy Joe’s at my grandmother’s house. I am not exactly sure what her recipe was (could have been Manwich!), but they always tasted better at her place. In fact, everything tasted better at Grandma’s. I never thought to make a Sloppy Joe using lamb, but now that I’ve tried it, I must declare its greatness with all that zesty, rich flavour! The beauty of this recipe is that it only takes 30 minutes to prepare, and you can double it up and freeze it, or make it in the morning and store in the fridge to serve later in the day. I’ve just added cheese on top of my Sloppy Joe’s, but you can load them up with pickles, lettuce, avocado and all the condiments your heart desires, and the final result will always be mouthwateringly divine.  And unlike other burgers, this one should be eaten with a knife and fork!

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So, don’t delay, dive into your Lamb Sloppy Joes this week. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Lamb Sloppy Joes
PREP: 15 mins
COOK: 20 mins
Makes 4 to 8
500g minced lamb
2 tablesp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small green pepper, diced into small cubes
350ml passata
4 tablesp. ketchup (normal or spicy)
1 tablesp. Worcester sauce
1 level tablesp. brown sugar (optional)
1 teasp. strong mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco, optional
8 small hamburger rolls (or 6 large ones)
6 to 8 small slices cheddar cheese
100ml water

1. Pour the oil into a large pan and add the lamb, onion, garlic and green pepper. Fry over a high heat, break up the mixture with a spatula to stop large clumps forming.

2. After browning well, add the passata, ketchup, Worcester sauce, brown sugar, mustard, and 100 ml water. Blend together and leave to simmer for 20 minutes over a gentle heat. Season with salt and black pepper and a little Tabasco, if you wish.

3. Heat the bread rolls in the oven or in a toaster. Fill them with the mixture, add a slice of cheddar and put a lid on.

4. Serve with potato wedges and a nice salad.

This is a sponsored post in conjunction with Bord Bia to help promote #LambTryItLoveIt, a campaign highlighting the benefits of cooking with European lamb. For more recipe inspiration, follow @TryLamb on Facebook and Instagram.

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Slan Abhaile,
Imen xx

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gooseberry1

I’ve been long overdue for a proper Farmette recipe post, but, bravo! Gooseberry season has saved the day! Last week Geoffrey and I spent a morning picking gooseberries from the bushes at the farm. Well, he did more picking than I, but I sorted out all the topping and tailing afterward, while he swanned away on a Maltese holiday for a few days (lucky boy!)

Gooseberries have been such a treat for me in Ireland because I had never tried them (or even heard of them) before moving here, and the collecting of the gooseberries is such an absolute seasonal ritual on the farm. A summer does not go by without picking the gooseberries and making jam, but first a pie or cobbler too…

hen

I first found myself cleaning the gooseberries sitting in my late mother-in-law, Peggy’s farm kitchen. It was one of those unusually sunny and close (close = Irish for muggy/super humid) summer days, and I recall both of us wearing our loose pinnies sitting round the table, topping, tailing and talking till the cows literally came home. It was a transformative afternoon for me as it was then that I started seeing all these farm rituals as being so simply celebratory and meaningful to my husband’s family. And, being asked to help made me feel more like that family. Now, topping and tailing gooseberries is not for the faint of heart. You have to exercise patience on this people. It is definitely one of those exercises that you must let yourself get lost in as it can be quite meditative, however, if you don’t go with the flow and keep checking the clock, it will undoubtedly drive you madder than a broom (Irish = going crazy).  The best way to do this task is with a friend or a fantastic mother-in-law and just have a good ol chinwag….. Such good memories, I sure do miss Peggy dearly.

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I made a gooseberry cobbler to bring along on our visit to our wonderful friends, Corey and Liam from Irish Fireside. We hadn’t seen them in 3 years (far too long!) and they were at their sweet cottage in County Tipperary, so we stole away one afternoon during the week, gooseberry cobbler wrapped in a tea towel in tow.

When we arrived, Corey had made a gorgeous red currant and apple tart as well. So, after they showed us around the cottage and all the amazing renovations they have been working on, we sat down for tea. 4  hours and two tarts between the 5 of us flew by and alas it was time to go home, although we could’ve stayed long into the night sharing stories and loads of laughter. Look into Irish Fireside if you are ever in need of information on travelling to Ireland, they really do share the best tips around and are truly the most genuine, lovely, gentlemen and consummate hosts.

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Gooseberry Cobbler
750g gooseberries, washed, topped and tailed
120g sugar
3 tbsp elderflower + honeysuckle cordial, optional (see recipe here)
For the topping
140g plain/AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
25g butter
25g sugar
150ml heavy cream
1 tbsp organic raw sugar
Method
1. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Place the gooseberries, caster sugar, and elderflower in a saucepan with 4 tbsp water and cook, covered, for 5 mins until the berries begin to pop. Tip into a well-buttered baking dish.
2. Make the topping. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, then stir in the caster sugar. Mix in the cream to give a soft, sticky dough. Dollop spoonfuls on top of the gooseberries, then sprinkle with the raw sugar crystals. Bake for 25 mins or until golden brown and crusty. Stand for 5 mins, then serve with ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

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risotto

I was fortunate enough to have my very first bowl of velvety, golden risotto one late Milanese night at a classic trattoria hidden on a quiet alley in the Navigli neighborhood of the city. My Barolo tinted memory believes it was called Alzaia, but I could certainly be mistaken. This risotto indoctrination occurred when I was already in the third decade of my life, but better late than never, right? I’d travelled to Italy and Switzerland on production for an international beauty/skincare brand tv shoot, and the local crew arranged all the best places for us to eat/drink/stay…to say it was a remarkable career expedition, would be a gross understatement.

hen

Fast forward to life in Ireland with risotto. That same sort of lush, saffron-tinged risotto, only now embellished with gorgeous, wild Irish mussels. It might not be Milan, but the combination is equally as spellbinding.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am partnering with Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) to celebrate all things mussels for the month of June. The #flexyourmussels campaign is underway to encourage more Irish consumers to cook and enjoy mussels at home and to consider ordering mussels when dining out too. Irish mussels are easy to prepare, high in 
protein and iron, are great value (at roughly 5 euros per kg), and packed full of flavour. You can check out Bord Bia’s “How to Prepare Mussels” video and more recipe inspo here.

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To create the best risotto, it is important to use the correct rice. Carnaroli, Arborio and Risotto Rice are the easiest to source and will all give you a great result.

Risotto with Fresh Mussels
Serves 4
Time: 40 minutes
INGREDIENTS
1kg mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
100ml white wine
150ml cold water
2 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
300g carnaroli/Arborio/risotto rice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
A large pinch saffron strands, soaked in 1 tablesp. boiling water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g butter
1 tablesp. dill roughly chopped (reserve a few fronds to garnish)
To serve: A lightly dressed green salad
METHOD
1. Place the wine and 150ml cold water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the saucepan a few times until the mussels have opened. Drain the mussels and reserve the cooking liquid. Discard any mussels that have not opened.
2. Remove most of the mussels from their shells, reserving about 20 in their shells for the top of the cooked dish.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the fennel and onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the rice to the onion and fennel mixture and stir to coat with oil. Add the garlic and saffron and stir well.
4. Measure the reserved cooking liquid and add enough water to bring it up to 900mls.  Start adding the liquid, a little at a time, while stirring all the time. Wait until each addition of liquid has evaporated before adding more.  Keep going until all but a spoonful remains. Season to taste, then turn off the heat. Add the mussels and butter, stir, then cover with a lid for 5 minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon of cooking liquid, leaving any grit behind and fold in the chopped dill.
5. Divide the mussel risotto among 4 warmed bowls and top with the reserved mussels in their shells. Garnish with a few extra fronds of dill. Serve with a green salad.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS PER SERVING:
Energy:             462kcal
Protein:            15g
Fat:                      23g
Iron:                 4.2mg
Carbohydrate:  59g

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Flex Your Mussels

02 Jun 2018

IMG_1700 (1)Truth be told, mussel eating didn’t come all that easy to me. After reading Anthony Bourdain’s excerpt on mussels in restaurant kitchens in his book Kitchen Confidential, I became preposterously paranoid about these wild bivalves and would spend an inordinate amount of time questioning wait staff in restaurants about the freshness and sourcing of their shellfish. Even after deciding to place an order, I still inspected platters of moules-frites like some sort of maniac (less than a satisfying experience indeed!)
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But, I am here to tell you that the mussels of Ireland changed my mind. When I moved from the USA to this craggy isle and discovered that it was possible to literally harvest live mussels from tide pools on the beach just thirty minutes from our farm, the switch flipped. The only thing between me and my harvested wild mussels was a pail, a splash of salt water, and fresh seaweed to transport the precious commodities home. I mean, mussel harvesting = Next LEVEL, right? That alone was exciting enough to get me hooked. Now, I cook with mussels quite frequently and everyone in our family loves them– though I usually go to my local fishmonger to buy them as they are great value and I am usually in a pinch to save time.

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This month I am partnering with Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) for their #flexyourmussels campaign which is underway to encourage more Irish consumers to cook and enjoy mussels at home and to consider ordering mussels when dining out too. Irish mussels are easy to prepare, high in 
protein and iron, are great value (at roughly 5 euros per kg), and packed full of flavour. You can check out Bord Bia’s “How to Prepare Mussels” video and more recipe inspo here.

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I will be posting a second recipe mid June, but here’s one of my favourites. A bit of a spin on vongole, using mussels instead of clams.

Enjoy!

LINGUINE WITH MUSSELS AND HAKE
A delicious and simple recipe.  If you would like to change it up, try adding some uncooked prawns instead of the hake.
Serves 4
Time: 20 minutes
INGREDIENTS
1kg large mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
200g hake, skinned and boned
1 shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
120ml white wine
250ml cream
300g linguine
20g fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablesp. capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablesp. fresh parsley, basil or dill
To serve: Tomato and red onion salad
METHOD
Place the shallot, garlic and white wine in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the mussels, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times until the mussels have opened. Remove the mussels from the saucepan and discard any that have not opened. Reserve the cooking liquid in the saucepan and add in the hake. Cover and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until the hake is just cooked through – don’t allow it to boil. Put a large colander over a bowl and tip the fish into the colander, allowing the liquid to strain into the bowl. Break the hake into chunks.

Meanwhile cook the linguine as per packet instructions. When the pasta is cooked, drain, saving a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the saucepan along with the reserved cooking liquid.

Rinse the saucepan the mussels and hake were cooked in, then pour the reserved cooking liquid from the bowl back into the saucepan, leaving any fine grit in the bottom of the bowl. Simmer for a minute or two, then pour in the cream and simmer to reduce a little. Add the cheese, stir and allow it to melt. Add the capers and stir through.  Pour the sauce into the sauce pan with the pasta along with the mussels and chunks of hake and mix gently. Return the saucepan to a low heat for a couple of minutes to heat through. Taste and season with a little salt and black pepper.

Divide between 4 pasta plates and sprinkle over the chopped herbs. Serve with a tomato and red onion salad.

NUTRITIONAL ANALYSIS PER SERVING:

Energy:        643kcal

Protein:        27g

Fat:                33g  (Saturated Fat: 17g)

Iron:              4.25mg

Carbohydrate:  58G

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Hope your 2018 is off to a brilliant start?

We’ve loads going on at the farm, as per usual this time of year. Lots of sweet calves and sleepless nights tending to bovine mothers giving birth each evening. I am trying to double up on self-care to stay healthy and AWAKE during this season.

Geoffrey had some major excitement over the last two months as he was asked to give several auditions for MasterChef Junior in Los Angeles. He nervously applied online last October, promptly put it out of his mind thinking it could never happen, and we got the surprise call in early January. In the end, he didn’t make the final cut, but auditioning and cooking on film was a fantastic learning experience for him. Our little farmer has grown into such a passionate little chef these days, he tells everyone that he wants to become a “farmer chef” when he grows up, so we’ll see about that! He might start some supper clubs here this summer and see how he gets on. We sure are very proud of him.

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We are planning our garden for 2018, and I think I have persuaded my friend Dermot Carey to come over and help us reorganise how we grow things here. And, I will be putting my seed order in soon, my favourite part of March. Any suggestions? Open to all! One thing that I looooved growing last year was Shiso leaf, a most incredible flavourful and versatile herb that will be going in again this spring for sure.

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I am super excited to announce a new Lens & Larder (see tab on the sidebar to find out more about the origins of L&L) workshop in April at neighbouring Glin Castle once again. This time an adaptation of our typical food photography and styling retreats; we are working with two extraordinary cookbook authors, Diana Henry and Elissa Altman for a “Literature and Larder” masterclass retreat. These ladies are FIERCE and I can’t wait to spend the weekend with them. Below are more details, if you are interested in coming or would like to share!

 

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Lens & Larder is thrilled to bring an exciting new adaptation of their very popular food photography and styling workshops to Ireland with Literature & Larder, a creative master class experience with a focus on the art of food writing in all forms.

Join James Beard Award-Winning authors Diana Henry and Elissa Altman at historic Glin Castle, home of Catherine FitzGerald and Dominic West, for an intimate weekend of literature and libations, April 13-16th, 2018.

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Workshop participants will explore food writing with an in-depth look at recipe development, food as memoir/essay, creative writing & food journalism, and touch on podcasting/broadcasting as well.

Each guest will participate in group and one-to-one discussions focused on strengthening food writing skills and exploring individual food writing goals. You’ll also gain insider information on the craft of creative food writing, how to write and pitch freelance food stories, and how to grow your platform as a professional food writer.

Literature & Larder will also cover the business side of food publishing and examine cookbook editorial with a panel featuring New York literary agent Sharon Bowers of MBD Literary representing NYC literary agent, Sharon Bowers of MBG Literary (representing acclaimed vegetarian chef and author Deborah Madison, former Chez Panisse exec chef and NYT Best Seller Cal Peternell, James Beard award-winning Amy Chaplin, health & wellness food blogger Sarah Britton of My New Roots, NOMA co-founder Mads Refslund and more) and “Ireland’s Top Cookbook Editor” Kristin Jensen, moderated by myself and Cliodhna Prendergast.

Included in your tuition:  3 nights luxury accommodation at Glin Castle, and meals: 1 welcome drinks reception, 3 dinners including wine and cocktails, 3 full Irish breakfasts, 2 lunches. All food with a focus on locally sourced, artisan ingredients (vegetarian options will be catered for).

Excluded: Travel to Ireland and transportation to Glin Castle; Travel insurance (highly recommended as there will be no refunds for travel changes); Extras

Cost: EUR €2499 per person.

More details and to book: www.lensandlarder.com or email me at lensandlarder@gmail.com.

 

I’ve been working on the most sensational carrot cake recipe for spring that I will be sharing in my next blog post.

Until then,

Slan Abhaile,

Imen x

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Where does the time go?

So much happening in our world at large and here with our family at the farm in Ireland and in America, it’s been hard for me to keep up with posts, although I do have heaps of updates coming and a special round up of blog recipes for the holidays (is it really that time of year?!) You can also find some recipes from me in the Irish Independent Sunday Mag as well as in the upcoming Irish Times Holiday Weekend Magazine.

Right now, I am in full production mode for our next Lens & Larder retreat, happening just down from us at the stunning Glin Castle where lies 700 years of Irish history. We still have a couple of very special openings on the workshop, so if you are interested please leave a comment or email me on lensandlarder@gmail.com.

Here are the details-

We are delighted to announce our next Lens & Larder retreat, An Irish Country Affair: Glin Castle, October 28-31st, 2017.  Please join us at one of Ireland’s most historic castles on the banks of the River Shannon for an enchanting autumn weekend to celebrate cooking, photography, and country pursuits with a special nod to Samhain, the ancient Celtic tradition of Halloween, which originated in Ireland in the 9th century.

At the helm of Lens & Larder: An Irish Country Affair will be Mimi and Oddur Thorisson, the internationally acclaimed food writing and photography team behind the award-winning food blog, Manger, and best-selling books, A Kitchen in France, A Year of Cooking (2014) and French Country Cooking (2016) published by Clarkson-Potter. Mimi and Oddur live in Médoc, France with their 8 children and 9 dogs. Together they host wildly popular cooking and photography workshops in their home and the surrounding wine country. Both Oddur and Mimi are contributing editors to Condé Nast Traveler, and their work has featured in Vanity FairNew York Times,Vogue MagazineThe Wall Street JournalHouse & Garden, Bon Appetit and more.

Lens & Larder is positively tickled to marry Mimi and Oddur’s classic country house cooking and visual aesthetic with the noble history and sensational style of Glin Castle for an unforgettable weekend of visual learning, cooking lessons, magic and mirth.

Over the course of three nights, student guests will experience cooking and demos with a bounty of indigenous and seasonal Irish ingredients, traditional music, an autumnal garden walk and history talk with renowned landscape architect and daughter of the Knight of Glin,  and welcome cocktails with her husband, actor, Dominic West; an authentic pub dinner at the charming O’Shaughnessy’s of Glin, afternoon tea in the castle, an Irish Harriers Hunt, and will finish with Mimi’s magnificent masquerade Sahmain farewell feast. All the time honing and developing the skills to capture this story in camera as it beautifully unfolds.

Glin Castle is not a hotel, but a magnificent, privately-owned property. Home to the late Knight of Glin and the Fitzgerald Family and located in Glin, County Limerick, one hour from Shannon Airport. Spaces are limited to 14 as we fill the castle and create our own spellbinding weekend in this historical gem in the Southwest of Ireland.

2480 euros per person. Includes: Private Ensuite Room, Cookery and Photography Lessons, Welcome Reception with Champagne and Oysters, Welcome Three-Course Dinner, 3 Irish Breakfasts, 1 Hunter’s Lunch, 1 Afternoon Tea (working lunch with sandwiches), 1 Pub Supper, 1 Masquerade Farewell Feast, Wine and Beverages with Meals, and Heaps of Hospitality!

80% due on booking and 20% upon arrival at Glin Castle.

PLEASE EMAIL: LENSANDLARDER@GMAIL.COM TO REGISTER. 

Mimi Thorisson is the author of Manger, a blog devoted to French cooking that was named “Saveur’s Best Regional Food Blog” in April 2013. Her best-selling cookbooks, ‘A Kitchen in France’, October 2014, and French Country Cooking published by Clarkson-Potter have been translated in many different languages. After a career in television and having lived in Hong Kong, London, Singapore, Reykjavik and Paris, she settled with her photographer husband, Oddur, their 7 children and 10 dogs in the Médoc, South of France. She is the star of Canal+ cooking shows “La Table de Mimi” and “Les desserts de Mimi” in France.

Oddur Thorisson is an Icelandic photographer. He started his career as an art director and worked his way into photography often combining the two. He has worked for countless companies and organisations and been involved in various magazines and publishing projects like Condé Nast Traveler, Elle, Vogue, Bon Appétit, Wall Street Journal, Food and Wine to name a few. He lives with his wife Mimi, 8 children and 9 dogs in the Médoc, South of France.

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Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos by Imen McDonnell, Oddur Thorisson and James Merrell.

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