Holiday 2016

22 Nov 2016

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Given the state of things, I’ve decided to make a fist of it and dive straight right into holiday mode. Can you hear those jingle bells a-jangling? Me either, but we are going to get there people! For the first time ever, I am going to offer one of those clever little gift guides that I say I am going to do every year and never get around to actually putting together….nothing too elaborate, just a few of my favourite things from Ireland and abroad that might make terrific holiday pressies and put smiles on the faces of those you love. Because we could all do with some smiley faces, right? So, fix yourself a cup of tea (or, something a little stronger) and have a lovely little browse. I will have an exciting update on our #ShePlantedASeed project on my next post.

Of course, at the top of the list is a personalised & signed copy of my book, The Farmette Cookbook, Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm, I mean I have to take this opportunity for a bit of shameless self-promotion, right? But, I have SO many other goodies to share, none of which are sponsored (but, there is nothing wrong with sponsoring a brand that you love!) and all of which are honest suggestions that I have tried myself and highly recommend. For those that know me, I can get a wee bit carried away about new products and bits that I cherish, but it always comes from the heart, promise!

So without further ado,

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The Farmette Cookbook Recipes and Adventures from my Life on an Irish Farm. Signed by yours truly. Add on a fabulous Modern Farmette Butter-Making Kit or DIY Cheesemaking Kit if you fancy, for a total 50 euros + shipping. Email me: imenmcdonnell@gmail.com for ordering details.

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What a few amazing ladies had to say about my book (Well, I’ll be!)…..

“A joyful celebration of life on an Irish farm.  A super, chic book written with the appreciative eye of an outsider who reminds us of the sheer pleasure of living on a dairy farm. Rearing a few table fowl, planting a vegetable garden and an orchard, rediscovering the satisfaction of using home-grown Irish produce to make truly delicious and creative food for family and friends.”—Darina Allen

“Imen takes traditional Irish cooking to the next level with her American curiosity and ingenuity. She weaves big city cravings, like potstickers, tacos, banh mi, harissa, pizza, and more, with traditional comfort food made from scratch. Imen’s brave leap of faith and love is a boon for the rest of us: we now have this charming book full of stories and recipes I can’t wait to make.”—Susan Spungen, founding food editor of Martha Stewart Living

“There is magic in Imen McDonnell’s new book, and in her story. Her dedication to uncovering Ireland’s rich food culture and cultivating her own shines through. You’ll want to dive right in, start cooking, and build your own fairy tale.”—Sarah Copeland, author of Feast and former Food Director, Real Simple Magazine

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Reclaimed Iron Cooking Tripod.

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Reclaimed Iron Cooking Tripod crafted here at the farm. 4 ft – 6ft (adjustable) sizes. Ireland delivery only. 100 euros. Email imenmcdonnell@gmail.com for ordering details. (photo credit: Doreen Kilfeather)

  • Sturdy three leg design for stability
  • “S” hook with chain for adjustable height. 
  • Heavy duty reclaimed iron construction
  • Holds Dutch ovens, coffee pots, tea pots, etc
  • Works well to hang lanterns, water Jugs etc too
  • Perfect for hanging Dutch ovens, tea pots, coffee pots ect. over a cooking fire

 

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Honestly ladies, these are like the UGGS of Wellie boots. The AIGLE Juliette. Super hard wearing and immensely comfortable. I could seriously wear these all day, in the house and on the farm, they literally feel like slippers! For ages my friend Ella McSweeney of Ear To The Ground urged me to buy AIGLE boots, and I just finally took the plunge before our last Lens & Larder event at Ballyfin. They also have tall boots and loads of other styles to choose from, so I am kitting out the boys with AIGLES for Christmas too!

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Orwell & Browne Donegal Tweed Dickie Bows and Notebooks. I got hooked on this brand a couple of years ago, and now I have everyone who comes within a two mile radius of the farm adorned with tweed bow ties. Exceptional quality and super lovely folks behind the brand. Also, apparently they ship free everywhere in the world!

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America Village Apothecary. Don’t let the name fool you, this brand is 100% Irish. My friend and frequent collaborator, Claire Davey, lives in a place called America Village, County Galway, Ireland. She makes unique syrups, tinctures and bitters for creating craft beverages or for use with food using unique locally foraged flavours, carefully sourced ingredients, paying attention to every last detail. I recently tried Claire’s tonic syrup, must admit that adding another step to my gin and tonic seemed rather inconvenient in theory, but after stirring up this elixir, I will never go back to store-bought tonics! Wow, what a flavour sensation and just pure, true beauty in a bottle. (and, you can pair it with some of my other gift guide suggestions below)

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holiday-9Bertha’s Revenge Gin. A gin distilled with milk whey named after Ireland’s oldest Kerry cow. Say no more. (other than the fact that the lads who started this brand are absolutely the salt of the earth, gorgeous souls inside and out) The gin is extremely botanical, and not in the usual juniper/pine sense, totally refreshing and completely festive.

 

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Pippa Holt Kaftans. I met the gorgeous Pippa Holt (Roche) last month, a fellow blow-in–from Australia–with a personality as sunny as the South Pacific and an absolute heart of gold. She’s created a line of crazy beautiful kaftans with more to be launched in NYC in spring 2017. Keep your eye on this inspiring woman and her stunning summery pieces!

 

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Some of my favourite food books this year…..

 

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Row 1: The Short Stack Cookbook by Nick Fauchald, Kaitlyn Goolen, and the Short Stack Editions Contributors. French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson. Fruit on the Table by Theresa Storey. Row 2: Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh. Recipes From My Mother by Rachel Allen. Small Victories by Julia Turshen. Row 3: EAT. LIVE. GO. by Donal Skehan. Treyf by Elissa Altman. Fishwives by Goatsbridge. Row 4: The Vanilla Bean Baking Book by Sarah Keiffer. The New Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoe Francois and Jeff Hertzberg . My French Family Table by Beatrice Peltre.

 

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Arran Street East. Simple, functional and beautiful design for your home. Made by hand in the heart of Dublin. In that sea of ceramics on the scene, these pieces are speaking to me the most.  Check out their story and their stunning wares here.

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Seedlip.

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This might be THEE most exciting thing to happen to spirits in my lifetime! I can’t tell you enough how much I adore this incredibly innovative brand which is single-handedly solving the forever dilemma: “what do drink when you’re not drinking.” Seedlip is the world’s first alcohol free distilled spirit. Whoopee! Seriously, the flavour profile is so unique and enticing. My favourite is the Wood-Spice-Citrus which is all earthy and aromatic with notes of allspice, cardamon, grapefruit, oak and lemon. Seedlip is sugar free, sweetener free, has no calories or artificial flavours. Do you need anymore convincing? Wowsers.

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Easy & Oskey DIY Naked Bitters. Bitters in their birthday suit. Let inspiration be your guide as you create your very own flavor masterpiece. Fig, apricot, hops, toasted sesame, allspice, bacon, or any combination your palate longs for…there is simply no limit. I got to collaborate with Erik Eastman one half of Easy & Oskey for one of my book launch events over the summer, totally lovely fella who crafted some downright incredible cocktails using these bitters.

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Created + Found

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My friend Jette Virdi’s exciting new adventure. Jette, a Ballymaloe trained chef and food stylist, has launched a new  online boutique stocked with gorgeous kitchen goods and sundries all hand-crafted in Ireland. Have a look!  Wheeeeee!

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Hedley & Bennett

I don’t think I have ever come across someone with as much enthusiasm and verve for her brand as Ellen Bennett. Ellen, who has been known to fly through the air to announce the arrival of a new apron design, is such a peach in this business of food. Not only does her personality want to make you buy aprons for days, but all of the chef gear is beautiful, well-made and durable, just ask some of America’s top chefs. Whoop whoop Hedley & Bennett!!!

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Heritage Cured Irish Ham

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James Whelan Butchers signature heritage cure Irish ham is truly delicious. Cured on the bone, it has a distinctive flavour with a hint of smoky hickory undertones. This ham is ideal for carving and brings ham to a whole new level. Particularly low in salt, with the bone bringing a certain sweetness to the meat. My longtime friend Pat Whelan is the man behind this award-winning butcher shop which offers online ordering and delivery throughout Ireland and if we are not rearing our own meat for the holidays, he is our go-to supplier.

And, last, but not least…..

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EXPERIENCES.
I want to share some of my favourite things to do in Ireland at the moment, whether it be a place to stay,  shop, eat, an event, workshop, an outdoor pursuit or even a place of worship….as I have always said, there is so much more to Ireland than a pint of Guinness!

Litfest.

Food On The Edge.

Lens & Larder.

The Glucksman for I Went Into the Woods or Gut Instinct.

Cliff of Moher Retreat.

Ballyhoura Trail Riding.

Dzogchen Beara Zen Buddhist Centre.

Glenstal Abbey Conventional Mass. (complete with massive incense & Gregorian chants sung by a choir of monks)

The new and improved 7* Adare Manor (I got a sneak peak and WHOAAAAA! re-opening spring 2017)

Ballyfin Demesne (just named the best hotel in the world by Condé Nast, and just an incredibly warm, private, beautiful place to stay, I recently produced an event there which I will share about soon)

For another taste of Ireland, my friends at Perennial Plate are releasing a series of stunning short films on Irish food and the people and places behind it.

Só Collective.

Forest & Marcy

Heron & Grey

La Cucina Centro (Henry Street, Limerick)

The Mews (closed until spring 2017)

Two Boys Brew

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For Irish New Yorkers, stay tuned for the next Fare Plate spring 2017

There are so many more bits and bobs that I would like to mention, and I may continue in a future post (also, if you feel I have missed something, please do share in the comments below), but for now I hope you enjoyed this little slice of gift giving ideas!

Hope & peace to all.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Clotted Cream

26 Mar 2012

Naturally, I had to crack the clotted cream. It was only a matter of time. My reasoning? Well, we do live on a dairy farm for god’s sake. The only question remaining is: what on earth took me so long. After dipping into a tub made by a fellow farmerette at a recent photo shoot, there was no stopping me.  To put it plainly, the flavour and texture of homemade clotted cream is absolute pure ambrosia.

The first time I tasted clotted cream was at a little afternoon tea party that I organised for a dear friend’s engagement. It took place in the very unlikely, but ultimately ohhh sooo perfect, Murray’s Steakhouse “Home of the Silver Butterknife Steak”. Murray’s is a supper club and cocktail lounge in downtown Minneapolis which opened in the 40’s and is so authentically retro that the dining room is darkly lit even during their lunchtime service. As I recall, the main room is adorned in mirrored walls, chandeliers, salmon pink draperies, and wall to wall carpet with art deco patterning. I wanted to plan something really unforgettable, and just knew Rebecca would love a bit of a mad tea party with all of her girls. Murray’s was the only place that offered such a service at the time. Don’t ask me why.

We all showed up in our frocks and sipped tea and champagne, pawed at dainty cucumber sandwiches and gobbled down white scones with clotted cream and jam in the lowly lit room for over two hours. It was not The Plaza, and no one wore white gloves, but it sure was divine.

After I was living in Ireland for a couple of years, I decided it would be nice idea to invite my mother and sister-in-law to an afternoon tea at Adare Manor. We arrived to the 1800’s Neo-Gothic estate and were seated in the tea rooms. From where I was sitting there was a picture window introducing a view of the most tremendous formal gardens behind one shoulder, and an enormous hearth fireplace that seemed so large that one could stand inside of it, beyond the other. A very reserved waiter served us Darjeeling tea with light egg + cress, salmon + crème fraiche, and ham sandwiches along with delicate cakes, scones, and petit fours. We were all spoiled with clotted cream on that day as well.

Today, I am in my very own kitchen with a pinny making clotted cream from scratch. Didn’t see that happening in my lifetime, but must admit, I am delighted with my success. It’s not difficult, but when you make it for the first time, it’s very easy to get the feeling that it’s not working. I also made the mistake of thinking that the cream underneath the crust was the actually clotted cream. It is not. That crusty golden top is just that, pure gold.

Clotted cream is not Irish, but I would venture to say it features on all formal afternoon tea menus across this fine country. It is mostly associated with dairy from the southwestern part of England; and in particular the counties of Cornwall and Devon. In fact, Cornish Clotted Cream is another one of those protected foods (PDO) so long as the cream is from Cornwall.

My clotted cream proudly comes from milk from our happy Irish Dunmoylan cows, but you don’t need a dairy farm to make it from scratch. If you can get unpasteurized, unhomogenised cream from a local dairy that would be ideal, but if not, use double or heavy organic whipping cream.  Don’t ask yourself why you’re making clotted cream, just do it. And bring it to a friend’s house with homemade scones on a sunny afternoon, it’s a slice of heaven.

Homemade Clotted Cream

Preheat oven to 100C/200F

1000ml/4 cups double or heavy cream (unpasteurised is best)

Pour the cream into a heavy bottom shallow pan. I used a stainless steel roasting pan.

Put it in the oven

And, forget about it for 8-10 hours

When it is done, it will have a thick golden crust forming on the top, like this

Take it out of the oven and let it sit in a cool place for 10-12 hours

Remove the “clouted” top with a slatted spoon, put into jar(s) and place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours

The clotted cream will last for 3-4 days

You can use the reserved cream underneath for other purposes if you wish…such as baking scones!

Slather on scones with jam.

{you will thank me}

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos + Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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