Irish Farmer Cheese

28 Jun 2011

That is my mother in law’s butter knife….isn’t it darling? She is originally from Cork and has various sets of  beautiful and very old Cork cutlery at the farm.

So, this week I learned how to make cheese! I have been wanted to attempt this for quite some time and it just so happened that right before my butter demo at Totally Tipperary, a lovely woman was teaching the crowd how to make easy ricotta and paneer cheeses. I cannot believe how simple the process is and how delicious the cheese tastes…so fresh and delicate.

With a dairy full of milk at our fingertips at all times, there is no reason why I shouldn’t make this “farmer cheese” on a regular basis to have on hand in the fridge. I paired the cheese with some salty capers and a few moon-blushed cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil, garlic & thyme and it was the perfect lunch!

All you’ll need is milk, lemons, sea salt and a large square of cheesecloth or muslin

Place the milk and salt into a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to froth.

Then, spoon in your lemon juice a little at a time until the milk begins to curdle like this

Pour into a cheesecloth-lined sieve

Squeeze out all of the excess whey, tie the cloth around a wooden spoon, and leave to hang for a further 15-20 mins

After the cheese is fully strained, you can either eat it straight away

or you can flatten & shape it by placing a heavy pan on top for an hour.

Then, just break it apart and enjoy!

Irish Farmhouse Cheese

Makes 8-10 Ounces

1/2 Gallon/ 2 litres Full Fat Milk

Juice of 3 lemons (1/2 cup) or you can use 1tbsp White wine vinegar

A few pinches of sea salt finely ground

Heat milk and salt over medium heat until frothy

Add in lemon or vinegar a little at a time until milk is completely curdled (if the milk is not curdling, you’ll need more of your acid-lemon or vinegar..add in a little at a time until curdled)

Pour into cloth-lined sieve to strain

Squeeze excess whey through cloth

Tie up and let hang for further 15-20 minutes

Flatten and shape or just dig in!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell

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"Big Nose"

I stumbled upon the remarkable Irish artist, Eoin O’Connor, via the Talent for Haiti auction organized by Irish designers Eilis Boyle and Helen James earlier this year. We placed a bid on one of his extraordinary pieces, which was {unluckily} not the winning offer. Ever since, we’ve been earnestly trying to plan an adventure to one of his galleries to meet him and see more of his work up close and personal. Of course, we particularly enjoy his distinctive farm animal paintings and will one day definitely add some of his work to our humble collection.

Eoin graciously agreed to share with us a little about himself and what inspires him.  I hope you enjoy this interview and his work as much as me.

Eoin, where are you from…describe what is was like growing up there…..and also where you live now if different….

I was born in Dublin, but moved to Cork when I was a young child. I lived in Monkstown in Cork Harbour. I had a great childhood, outdoors most of the time , played sports from dawn to dusk. Monkstown was a beautiful place. The sea and boats played a big part in my life.

After school I moved back to Dublin, I went To Bolton street to study architecture, which was a difficult course. I loved living in Dublin, a great experience for a young person, something happening all the time. I lived in Dublin for eleven years and moved to Aughrim in south Wicklow nine years ago. Aughrim is a beautiful village and it has recently won Ireland’s tidiest town which is a great achievement for such a small place. What I really love about it is the environs around it. Glenmalure, Aughavannagh, the Glen of Imaal and so on. The landscape in these places highly influences my paintings.

Did you have any formal training…how has your artistic career developed along the way?

No, I didn’t have formal training. I studied architecture and after that I decided my first love was art, so I started painting. Between 1997-2003, I started a business selling prints of my paintings to shops such as The Kilkenny store and Blarney Woollen Mills. The business was very successful, but it affected my work so I sold the business. In 2003, I developed a unique sculptural style of art which sold very well and was purchased by leading businessmen in Ireland. I then opened my own gallery in Aughrim. In 2004, I reached the end of the line with my sculptural art and started concentrating more on painting. I knew what I wanted in terms of colour and texture and so on, but my paintings have evolved with time. I am very fortunate that I have a distinct style which is kind of my signature. My paintings are quirky I suppose you could say.

I have had great success and have built up quite a few loyal fans, one customer in the USA has bought 18 paintings to date and also invited me to display my work at The Celtic ball in The Waldorf Astoria in New York. I also have a publishing deal with a fine art print company in Germany, They sell prints of four of my Cow paintings worldwide which is great exposure.

In 2009, I closed my gallery in Aughrim, although I still paint here in my studio. I opened a gallery called Artbox in Kinsale which sells my original work and a large selection of prints of my work. I also sell other artist’s work there.

I have exhibited in Waterford Tall Ships Exhibition, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Wexford Arts Festival, Greenacres Wexford, Fxb’s Dublin Marziart, Hamburg, Germany, Art Ireland, Gallery Number Nine in Birmingham and Marine House Beere in Devon, England

What influences you?

The everyday surroundings, the landscape, people, animals and so on. I love colour and playing with perspective. I suppose I also like humour which gives a quirky slant to my paintings

Who or what inspires you to be creative?

Luckily it seems to be built-in me to be creative. If I haven’t painted for a while I feel an uncontrollable urge to do so! Looking at work of great artists, Picasso, Matisse…… all forms of art

How do you feel about the importance of farms/farming/farmers…locally sourced foods….slow-food/locavore movement?

I love food and where I live I am fortunate to have a friend, Alan Pierce, who produces beautiful seasonal organic vegetables (Gold River Farm) which we use all the time and also up the road, The Brooklodge Hotel, serves all organic food and is truly scrumptious! They are hoping to hold a Slow food festival in 2011

What are you favorite places in Ireland?

I love Kenmare and try to stay there as often as possible. It’s a great place as you can do the Ring of Kerry, Killarney National Park and my favourite, The Beara Peninsula, easily from there. Derreen house on the Beara Peninsula is a hidden gem-it’s garden is like a tropical wonderland

Do you have any upcoming shows/events?

I have a solo exhibition for the Wicklow Arts Festival coming up on the 30th of May in Tinnakilly House, Rathnew, Wicklow. I have been working hard on it for the last few months and I’m really looking forward to it! My gallery in Kinsale is open all year round, showing my original work and a large range of prints both framed and unframed. I am also opening a new gallery in The Marine Hotel in Glandore, West Cork called Artbox Glandore (for the summer months).

You can call into Eoin’s Artbox galleries at 13 Main Street, Kinsale, County Cork, Phone: +353 (0) 214773504  or at The Marine Hotel, The Pier, Glandore, West Cork, Phone: +353 (0)28 33366 or see his work online at www.eoinoconnor.com

Tomorrow I am venturing off the do a little roving reporting at the Irish Food Bloggers event in Dublin hosted by Donal Skehan and Bord Bia. Can’t wait to meet all the amazing foodies here and get some great insider tips on food photography and writing from the best in Ireland!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

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A Irishwoman in Paris

03 Feb 2010

Born and raised on a farm in the countryside near Belfast, Trish DeSeine fell in love with France on a childhood visit.  Little did we know that she would later become a celebrated French cookery writer and television personality living in Paris. {Don’t you just love how life works sometimes?}

After 20+ years in Paris, Mme. DeSeine could be dubbed a real Parisian…but she’ll always have that warm Irish spirit and charm in her heart. I am honored to be able to share a little about about Trish and her Irish heritage with you this week.

Bon Appetit!

What was it like growing up on a farm in Ireland?

Of the three of us (I am in the middle of two brothers) I was probably the one who took most interest. I would spend many Saturday mornings with my father as he  did his weekly check on the cattle over at Belfast’s Cavehill. We helped out a bit when the hay was made, and that was great fun, but my father had an ace team of 5 burly brothers from Belfast who looked after everything. My mother was a teacher, so away during the week, but diligently cooked for any farmhands needing sustenance on Saturdays. This was nearly always mince, potatoes and carrots.  Or sometimes a pot roast or chicken and vegetable soup with barley.

Which Irish dishes do you miss…or have redesigned to be more ooh la la?

None really, you can get most ingrédients all over the world now, and happily Irish ones are pretty simple.  I do love cream and butter from home, though, and barmbrack and wheaten bread.  I certainly would not redesign Irish food. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s true attraction is in its very simplicity, quality and purity. I cannot imagine destructing an Irish stew or beef in Guinness !

Are there Irish traditions or sensibilities that you get nostalgic about?

I ‘d like to be romantic and affectionate but, you see, I grew up in County Antrim, in a fiercely Unionist, Presbyterian family and community during the worst of the Troubles. Irish traditions, ie « Southern » were certainly not celebrated ! My family’s affinities leaned more towards Scotland and Great Britain. Therefore, both traditions and cultures got a bit diluted, somehow.  I studied  English in school, a Protestant Grammar school in Belfast, where only a few Irish authors and poets found their way onto the curriculum .  It’s only now that I can see how biased our upbringing was. It’s very sad, I think, that due to the violence , our entire childhood we were being prepared to « get out »  The result of this is not true nostalgia, but a type of retro-nostalgia, for an imaginary Irish childhood I would loved to have had.I always suspected people on the other side of the border were having a hell of a good time . I realise now this was absolutely true.

When I did my TV shows for RTE, this  fantasy came alive for me a little, I started to believe that the nearly unified Ireland was indeed now ALL mine, and that it embraced me right back. Now, with the situation so bad again, I’m not so sure. People  in the street or in pubs and shops are adorable when I’m in Dublin. But I was treated very shabbily by RTE Cork, despite my shows’ good ratings and that spoiled the homecoming expérience slightly.

I guess I miss the way folk would pop in unannounced, for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, and how we would call with friends in a very unceremonious way.  The Irish kitchens of my childhood always had a good stash of traybakes, scones or Victoria sandwich.

Do your children love their Irish heritage..what do they like about Ireland?

They know very little of it, having spent much more time in Scotland and London. They feel more what the French would call « Anglo Saxon »  or « from an English speaking culture » than Irish.  Hopefully we’ll have time in the future to go back and explore a little more.

Do you ever use Irish slang?

Rarely, I don’t get much of a chance in France ! But my nows and my downs with that NornOrn impossible vowel sound are still perfectly intact. My children have a slight NIrish accent in their English which is really lovely.

Any tips on acclimating to another culture?

Fall in love !

What are some of your favourite places in Ireland that you would recommend visiting?

The Hugh Lane in Dublin and the Bacon exhibit in particular. Ballyvolane House near Cork for a long lazy weekend and fantastic food .

Would you ever move back to Ireland?

No. Home is here in Paris with my children.

Luckily, even though she now calls Paris her home, we can still have her via her remarkable culinary treasures.

Trish has written a hugely popular series of illustrated cookbooks. Her most recent is “Comme Au Resto” which shows how to take the latest trends and le presentation from restaurant meals to give your own entertaining a bit of glamour without all the cheffy fuss. My favourite? “I Want Chocolate”, you will never think of chocolate in the same way again. You can find Trish’s books available worldwide on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Easons or for more information visit her beautiful website Trish DeSeine.com

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

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