wildgarlic

focaccia

Bread baked by Joe Fitzmaurice is essentially art.

Edible masterpieces that go up in *taste* value as they age {see his remarkable long-fermented rye sourdough recipe below.}

Carefully designed, crafted, nurtured, and loved, each loaf is fired in the beautiful brick oven bakery he built at his home located in Ireland’s first and only eco-village.

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Joe is a maker, a craftsman. He wasn’t always a part of this trade, but to meet him you get the sense that he’s always had a baker’s soul. He is a warm fella; like his bakehouse. His oven was designed by the late, legendary oven crafter, Alan Scott. He counts reknowned Tartine baker, Chad Robertson, as inspiration. He wins bread awards, but doesn’t talk about it.  And lucky for us, his loaves are still served up at Blazing Salads  in Dublin where his baking story began.

joe

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The efficient, timber-burning brick oven gets fired in the evening, which, in turn, magnificently provides enough heat to bake breads for the entire next day. Brick-radiated heat is meant to be “more kind to the dough” Joe explained. The bakery uses only certified organic flours, and specialises in sourdough, long fermentation, spelt and rye breads.

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Find Joe’s bread at Blazing Salads Bread Company, Dublin. Cloughjordan Wood Fired Bakery is not open to the public, but you are welcome to visit by appointment….go on.  www.cloughjordanwoodfiredbakery.com

Joe’s Country Rye

For the Starter:

Organic Strong bread flour 1100g

Organic Rye flour 1000g

Water (lukewarm) 480ml

Water (78f/25c) 150ml per feeding

For the Leaven:

Water (78f/25c) 200 grams

For the Dough:

Water (80f/27c) 750ml

Leaven 200g

Organic Strong bread flour 900g

Organic Rye flour 100g

Salt 20g

1. Make the Starter: Mix strong bread flour with rye flour. Place lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Add 315g flour blend (reserve remaining flour blend), and mix with your hands until mixture is the consistency of a thick, lump-free batter. Cover with a tea towel. Let rest in a cool, dark place until bubbles form around the sides and on the surface, about 2 days. A dark crust may form over the top. Once bubbles form, it is time for the first feeding.

2. With each feeding, remove 75g; discard remainder of starter. Feed with 150g reserved flour blend and 150ml warm water. Mix, using your hands, until mixture is the consistency of a thick, lump-free batter. Repeat every 24 hours at the same time of day for 15 to 20 days. Once it ferments predictably (rises and falls throughout the day after feedings), it’s time to make the leaven.

3. Make the Leaven: The night before you plan to make the dough, discard all but 1 tablespoon of the matured starter. Feed with 200g reserved flour blend and the warm water. Cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest in a cool, dark place for 10 to 16 hours. To test leaven’s readiness, drop a spoonful into a bowl of room-temperature water. If it sinks, it is not ready and needs more time to ferment and ripen. As it develops, the smell will change from ripe and sour to sweet and pleasantly fermented; when it reaches this stage, it’s ready to use.

4. Make the Dough: Pour 700ml warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add 200g leaven. Stir to disperse. (Save your leftover leaven; it is now the beginning of a new starter. To keep it alive to make future loaves, continue to feed it as described in step 2.) Add flours (see ingredient list), and mix dough with your hands until no bits of dry flour remain. Let rest in a cool, dark place for 35 minutes. Add salt and remaining 50ml warm water.

5. Fold dough on top of itself to incorporate. Transfer to a medium plastic container or a glass bowl. Cover with kitchen towel. Let rest for 30 minutes. The dough will now begin its first rise (bulk fermentation), to develop flavor and strength. (The rise is temperature sensitive; as a rule, warmer dough ferments faster. Try to maintain the dough at 78f/25c degrees to 82f/27c degrees to accomplish the bulk fermentation in 3 to 4 hours.)

6. Instead of kneading, develop the dough through a series of “folds” in the container during bulk fermentation. Fold dough, repeating every 30 minutes for 2 1/2 hours. To do a fold, dip 1 hand in water to prevent sticking. Grab the underside of the dough, stretch it out, and fold it back over itself. Rotate container one-quarter turn, and repeat. Do this 2 or 3 times for each fold. After the 3 hours, the dough should feel aerated and softer, and you will see a 20 to 30 percent increase in volume. If not, continue bulk fermentation for 30 minutes to 1 hour more.

7. Pull dough out of container using a dough spatula. Transfer to a floured surface. Lightly dust dough with flour, and cut into 2 pieces using dough scraper. Work each piece into a round using scraper and 1 hand. Tension will build as the dough slightly anchors to the surface as you rotate it. By the end, the dough should have a taut, smooth surface.

8. Dust tops of rounds with flour, cover with a kitchen towel, and let rest on the work surface for 20 to 30 minutes. Slip the dough scraper under each to lift it, being careful to maintain the round shape. Flip rounds floured side down.

9. Line 2 medium baskets or bowls with clean kitchen towels; generously dust with flour. Using the dough scraper, transfer each round to a basket, smooth side down, with seam centered and facing up. Let rest at room temperature covered with towels for 3 to 4 hours before baking.

10. Bake the Bread: Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the bread, preheat oven to 500f/260c with rack in lowest position, and warm a 9 1/2-inch round or an 11-inch oval heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid.

11. Turn out 1 round into heated pot (it may stick to towel slightly). Score top twice using a razor blade or a sharp knife. Cover with lid. Return to oven, and reduce oven temperature to 450f/230c degrees. Bake for 20 minutes.

12. Carefully remove lid (a cloud of steam will be released). Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes more.

13. Transfer loaf to a wire rack. It will feel light and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool.

14. To bake the second loaf, raise oven temperature to 500f/260c degrees, wipe out pot with a dry kitchen towel, and reheat with lid for 10 minutes. Repeat steps 11 through 13.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos by Imen McDonnell 2013 with exception of fire photo which Joe provided to me. 

 

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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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By George!

29 Mar 2010

Georgian Style House

Thinking of Ireland often conjures up sweet images of mile-long grassy green knolls, castle ruins and whitewashed thatched roof cottages in the countryside. Still, what really stands out and never ceases to please my eye is the vast array of pristine Georgian style homes and buildings found here in both country and urban areas alike. Something about the shallow pitched roofs and brilliantly colored arched doorways is quite appealing to me perhaps because with the exception of the New England states, this style in it’s original state is rarely seen in the USA.

When we set out to design and build our new home on the farm, we researched many architectural styles and decided to bend (I can be very persuasive) towards a modern American tudor-ish façade with a completely open plan interior. It was very hard to get planning permission because there are strict building codes here and the county council really prefers to see new builds that are more classic in appearance. In our county this includes mostly bungalows and Georgian styles in which you must pay close attention to small details in order to ensure that you are achieving the most authentic look possible. So, after many meetings with the county planning office, our home has ended up with more of an American Federal style; which is basically how the Georgian style evolved in the USA, combining Colonial Georgian with Palladian features.  Not exactly what we set out for, but a nice way to split the difference (and the perfect excuse for me to create more of a modern feel for the interiors).

Historically speaking, Georgian architecture succeeded Baroque and is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles that were current throughout the world between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of HanoverGeorge I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United Kingdom, and George IV of the United Kingdom—who reigned in continuous succession from August 1714 to June 1830.  Needless to say, the Georgian style became quite popular in Ireland during this time.

There are very distinct identifying features of Georgian architecture which include:

  • A simple 1-2 story box, 2 rooms deep, using strict symmetry arrangements
  • Panel front door centered, topped with rectangular windows (in door or as a transom) and capped with an elaborate crown/entablature supported by decorative pilasters
  • Cornice embellished with decorative moldings, usually dentilwork
  • Multi-pane windows are never paired, and fenestrations are arranged symmetrically (whether vertical or horizontal), usually 5 across
  • Roof: 40% are Side-gabled; 25% Gambrel; 25% Hipped
  • Chimneys on both sides of the home
  • Small 6-paned sash windows and/or dormer windows in the upper floors, primarily used for servant’s quarters. (This was also a way of reducing window tax.)
  • Larger windows with 9 or 12 panes on the main floors

These charming characteristics can be found in detached homes throughout the country as well as the reknowned side-by-side Georgian townhouses which line many streets in urban Ireland. Two important examples of Irish Georgian townhouse design would be Merrion Square in Dublin and Pery Square in Limerick City.

The design of the houses on Merrion Square is typical of the Georgian houses of Dublin and in particular the houses of the Fitzwilliam Estate covering Fitzwilliam Street and Square, Mount Street Upper and Merrion Square. The external visual integrity and uniformity of the Georgian city masks a wealth of variety and decoration that adorns the interiors of these buildings. Many interiors contain magnificent ceiling plasterwork, ornate fireplaces and staircases.

The Georgian House at No. 2 Pery Square in Limerick City is one of a terrace of six houses built circa 1830 by the Pery Square Tontine Company. This terrace is widely regarded as being the best example of late Georgian Architecture in Limerick and probably in Ireland. The house has been fully restored with all its original architectural features expertly reinstated in precise detail. The décor and furnishings are also of the Georgian era.

If you live in Ireland or are planning a trip, be sure to take time to see the beauty of the Irish Georgian architecture whether on a lazy country drive or whilst a day of walking about the city.

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.

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 .

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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