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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.

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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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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…

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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.

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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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I am back with one more succulent and simple lamb recipe, because, well, you can never have too many lamb recipes in your arsenal of home cooking ideas, right?

This is a straightforward (yet smashing!) recipe; the most difficult thing is that you may need to call your butcher ahead of time and order the shanks (make sure they trim them for you too), but otherwise it’s a matter of preparing a trouble-free marinade, quickly slicing the vegetables, popping all the ingredients in a pan and boom! straight into the oven. Set the timer and go do the homework with the children or milk the cows, whatever tickles your fancy, and before you know it, you’ll have a gorgeous, robust lamb entree bursting with the rich flavours of subtly smoked paprika, orange, sherry vinegar, sweet potato, and herbs to serve for supper. You could also pop all the ingredients into a slow cooker in the afternoon and by the time the kids get hungry, it’s ready to go.

These lamb shanks are perfect for the coming autumn weather and even more enjoyable with a group of friends gathered around the table.

Tasty. Easy. Lamb. 

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Give your everyday meals an exciting twist and check out www.tastyeasylamb.ie for more recipe inspiration.

Lamb Shanks with Spanish Paprika & Sweet Potatoes
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 1 h 20 mins to 1 hr 30 mins
Ingredients for 4 people

4 lamb shanks
1 tablesp. Spanish paprika
6 tablesp. olive oil
6 tablesp. Xerès (sherry) vinegar
1 heaped tablesp. dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150 ml fresh orange juice
500g sweet potato
500g firm-fleshed potatoesInstructions
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180°C (350°F).
Combine the paprika with 1 tablespoon oil, then add the rest of the oil, vinegar, oregano,salt, pepper and orange juice.
Method
Wash the sweet potato and potatoes well. Cut the sweet potato into thick rounds and the potatoes in half. Spread them out in a large oven dish and add the lamb shanks. Brush them all with half the marinade.
Cook in the oven for 1 h 20 minutes to 1 h 30 minutes, depending on the size of the shanks. During cooking, turn the shanks several times and brush with the remaining marinade.
Serve hot accompanied by a salad.
Tip: you can intensify the orange flavour by adding 1 level tablespoon of grated zest to the marinade.

Slan Abhaile,
Imen

This post was sponsored by Tasty, Easy, Lamb, but #spon or no #spon I firmly stand behind cooking with lamb, it’s a huge hit in our house!

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It’s the time of year again, when I find myself shouting about the star factor of luscious lamb from thatched cottage rooftops and castle ruins. The good news is that my friends at Lamb – Tasty, Easy, Fun have given me a few lovely lamb recipes to try out like they graciously did last summer as well.

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For me, not much else beats the flavour of lamb. Whether in a traditional stew or combined with exotic spices and flavours, lamb is the perfect hero ingredient for everyday meals, whether you’re flying solo or cooking for family or friends.

Lamb is super quick and simple to prepare and can be easily transformed for a variety of ethnic cuisines. Versatility baby! From Moroccan lamb tangines (umm, helllooo!) to spicy lamb quesadillas from Mexico; Ceylon lamb curry from Sri Lanka (chomptastic) to Japanese style lamb yakitori (drool), and not least forgetting delicious lamb burgers and kebabs perfect for al fresco dining over the summer – there is something to suit all tastes and every meal occasion.

Give your everyday meals an exciting twist and check out Lamb – Tasty, Easy, Fun  www.tastyeasylamb.ie for recipe inspiration.

For the first of two lamb recipes I will be posting this month, I have prepared a simple, but incredibly divine, lamb + avocado crostini. Aka, avocado toast with gorgeous spicy grilled lamb.

Crostini with Spiced Lamb & Avocado
Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes.
Ingredients for 12 pieces:
150 g lamb stir-fry strips or leg steaks cut into strips
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 level tsp ground cumin
1 level tsp ground coriander
1⁄2 tsp chilli powder
1 ciabatta loaf
1 ripe avocado
1 lime
salt and pepper
fresh chopped coriander
Method
In a medium size bowl mix together 2 tbsp. olive oil, the cumin, ground coriander and chilli powder. Add in the lamb and stir to coat the lamb with the spice mixture. Then cover and leave to rest at room temperature.
Cut the ciabatta into 12 medium diagonal slices. Lightly coat with olive oil on both sides. Toast under the grill or on a grill pan.
Mash the flesh of the avocado with a fork and add the lime juice (quantity depending on your taste) until it reaches a creamy consistency. Season to taste.
Heat a frying pan and add the meat. Brown the meat on a high heat and season to taste.
Spread the avocado cream on the toasted ciabatta, then add the meat on top and finish witha scattering of the chopped coriander.
Serve as a canapé.
Tip: You can grill the bread in advance as it does not need to be hot. However, you should wait to garnish it until the last minute so it remains crisp.

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Slan Abhaile,
Imen

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Blimey. It’s been ages since I last wrote.

Wait a minute, can I even say Blimey?

How about Crikey? Have I been here long enough to warrant the use of such wackadoodle colloquialisms? I realise we are in Ireland, not England (or Australia for that matter), but folks here are constantly uttering the likes of blimey, and crikey and other funny expletives that I never, EVER would have imagined spewing out of my own mouth like I do now. I also say things like GARE-EDGE (Garage) and toilet instead of bathroom (Ewwww) too.

God help me.

Lo and behold, it looks like my last post was a potato post too. Sorry. But, this is Ireland, right? Spuds are a staple. Plus, since it’s time to dig up some new season potatoes, so why not slice them up and make a pizza out of them while you’re at it? I knew you’d agree.

So, Potato.ie and Lovepotatoes.co.uk are doing a fun campaign called Potatoes: More Than A Bit On the Side, and they reached out to ask if I’d want to develop a recipe for it. Clearly, they did not realise that I am essentially the Potato Queen of Kilcolman.

It went like this…

#TastyPotatoes: Hi Imen, want to do a potato recipe for us?

Me: (3 cartwheels and a herkie later) Are you kidding, I’d love to! I love spuds!

#TastyPotatoes: Great, thanks!

Me: I’ll be perfect, I even have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to the art of potatoes, I loooove potato pancakes, lefse, latkes, potato bread……

#TastyPotatoes: Fantastic, thank you!

Me: Did I tell you how much I love potatoes?! (round-off into the splits)

#TastyPotatoes: Okay, we will be back in touch.

Me: Omg wait! potato pizza!!!

#TastyPotatoes: Talk soon.

Me: …..Roasted potatoes………colcannon…..tatties….ahhhhh (back flip, Can-Can)

Here’s what I came up with: a recipe inspired by an unforgettable pizza with a layered potato “crust” we experienced at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York last year that Geoffrey has been begging me to try and recreate in our kitchen ever since. We improvised on how to create the crust and you can go crazy with any combination of toppings, we love this little mash-up, and looking forward to our next experiment too.

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I hope you will love it as much as we do!

Potato Crusted Pizza with Gruyère, Carmelised Onion, Rosemary & Thyme
Serves 4-6
The potato crust is the star of this crispy, savoury pizza that is super easy to prepare, gluten-free and delicious.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 1 (12-inch) pizza

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds waxy, round potatoes (about 4 medium), scrubbed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
40ml beef, chicken or vegetable broth
250g gruyere cheese, shredded
125g prepared caramelised onions (here’s a great technique)
Sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme

Method
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, and cornstarch; set aside.

Using a food processor or mandoline, slice potatoes very thinly and place them in a large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle half of the cornstarch mixture over the potato slices; toss the potatoes, then sprinkle them with the remaining cornstarch mixture, and toss again.

Brush 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over a 12-inch round pizza pan or pizza stone covered with parchment paper.

Layer the potatoes, overlapping the slices in concentric circles. Sprinkle the potatoes with the broth, brush them with the remaining oil, then press the potatoes down firmly with your clean hands to compact them into a crust.

Move the oven rack to its lowest position, and bake the potato crust for 20 to 30 minutes or until edges are browned and potatoes are tender.

Remove the potato crust from the oven and spread the carmelised onions, gruyere and herbs over the potatoes.  Return the pizza to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is softened and the pizza is heated through.  Remove from the oven and cut into wedges and devour.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

 

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Boxty

28 Feb 2017

Boxty

Boxty on the griddle
Boxty in the pan
If you can’t make Boxty
You’ll never get a man

That is a traditional Irish rhyme that would NOT go over well in 2017, but it’s Pancake Tuesday and I’m in the mood for a savoury griddle cake so I guess I’ll let it slide.

Boxty, occasionally spelled “boxdy,” is basically a potato cake, eaten mostly in the north of Ireland, especially in counties Cavan, Fermanagh, Derry, and Tyrone. Boxty vies with champ and colcannon as Ireland’s best-known potato dish. It may have originated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when potato harvests began to fail, as a way of using poor-quality potatoes that were deemed useless for boiling. The potato pulp was shaped into cakes and baked on heated flagstones or a griddle.

This potato cake would have been considered an indulgent dish, and here boxty is a bit of a delicacy on the farm simply because it takes some time to prepare. Serve it on a cold winter evening; it’s wonderful with a bit of homemade crème fraîche and preserved apple sauce from the orchard.

Boxty
Serves 4
6 medium potatoes
1⁄4 cup white AP flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon butter (or sunflower oil)
Fresh herbs, chopped, for garnish

Peel the potatoes. Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a large mixing bowl. Using a box grater, grate the potatoes into the colander. Gather the corners of the cheesecloth together and squeeze the liquid from the potatoes into the bowl. Put the dry grated potato in another bowl and discard the liquid.

Add the flour and salt to the grated potato and mix gently.

Melt the butter in a heavy iron pan, and pour in the potato mixture to make an even layer, about 3⁄4 to 1 inch thick. Cook over medium heat until nicely brown on one side, about 15 minutes; flip and cook on the other side for another 15 minutes, or until brown. It’s much better to cook the boxty slowly than too fast. It should be crisp and golden on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

Remove from the heat, cut into quarters, and serve.

Scullery Notes: Boxty may be eaten hot or cold and may even be reheated. Top with crème fraîche and applesauce, if you like.

Slan Abhaile,
Imen

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