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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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[turkey harvests.]

holidays.

new Years.

[weddings.]

Birthdays.

New beginnings.

[old friends.]

[Family time.]

farming time.

Flax Dreams.

linen Fairs.

[Milk Jam.]

beach walks.

[Cookbook Edits.]

Paris [Through the Excited Eyes of a Little Farmer.]

More life, less blogging. 

Rather than banter on with 5000+ words about all the reasons it’s been awhile since my last blogpost, I thought it might be nicer to sum it up e.e. cummings-style. Bit more poetic, right?

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It’s been busier than a milking parlour at 4pm these days, but let’s jump right back in with some beautiful bits of bacchanalia.

First thing’s first, the lucky recipient of Darina Allen’s book is Kit Mitchell, whom I have emailed for shipping details. Many congratulations Kit! This book is a true treasure.

I have one big blogging resolution this year and that is to share more vintage Irish recipes with you in 2015 (with more frequency too). I have been spending some clandestine time researching antique housekeeper’s books and hand-written recipes from the sculleries of some very old Irish estates and cooking hearths of thatched farms. These recipes have proven to be both extraordinarily fascinating and quite simply delicious. I hope you will agree, so please stay tuned.

It would be impossible to not be absolutely smitten with acclaimed The Year in Food blogger Kimberley Hasselbrink’s first book, Vibrant Food. I made her gorgeous grilled Halloumi with strawberries and herbs for lunch today and I swear I was instantly transported to a sunny day in Santorini.

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Kimberley creates irresistible masterpieces from fresh, vibrant, honest ingredients and there isn’t one recipe in her book that I wouldn’t want to prepare.

Baking Mad sent me a crazy good care package filled to the brim with baking goods and asked me to try my hand at some recipes on the Baking Mad website. Any excuse to make salted milk jam (aka salted caramel) right?!

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Find the recipe for salted caramel ring doughnuts (pictured at the top) below.

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I was thrilled to contribute to GIY International’s cookbook Grow, Eat, Cook along with many amazing Irish food personalities such as Rachel Allen, Donal Skehan, Clodagh McKenna and more. You can find my recipe for a Wild Chanterelle, Caraway, and Toonsbridge Buffalo Cheese Tart in the October chapter. Order the book online here.

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Some big news. I have been asked to contribute to the new (and improved) Condé Nast Traveler with Editor-in-Chief, Pilar Guzman, and Creative Director Yolanda Edwards at the helm. You may be familiar with Guzman and Edwards as the team that previously headed up editorial at Martha Stewart Living, and before that basically reinvented the parenting magazine genre with the magnificent (and much missed) Cookie magazine.

I have long been inspired by this dynamic duo, have followed their trailblazing paths throughout the years, so the invitation to be a part of their team of tastemakers was certainly a huge honor and privilege. The new Traveler feels so fresh and fun and attainable, yet still holds onto a timeless spirit of splendor, romance, and adventure. I will be submitting food stories from Ireland and abroad. Here’s a look at my first piece.  And, the cover of the fabulous February issue.

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I did a fun interview for Australian SBS Feast last month….a little bit of this and that….have a peek here if you fancy.

And finally, I have begun edits on my own book, Farmette, Stories and Recipes from Life on an Irish Farm (Roost Books). The process is moving along a bit slower than I presumed, but has been just as fulfilling as imagined. There will definitely be a post on the entire process once we are nearly ready for print. You will be the first to know the precise publishing date.

Back soon, promise!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Food Images and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sowing + Hoeing

23 Mar 2012

Spring has sprung on the craggy isle and riding along with it the familiar niggling notion that we’d better get sowing and hoeing.  Bit by bit, we’ve put together a garden plan which sounds really clever and grown-up, but basically involves two adult children sitting at a kitchen table scratching heads, scribbling notes, drawing makeshift pictures with crayons, vehemently disagreeing, and then once again concluding that Richard {i.e. stick person with wellies} will plant his potatoes and onions and I {i.e. stick person with a skirt} will carry on with the rest which will undoubtedly be far too many varieties in his “humble opinion”.

We are trying to be sensible and learn from previous years; what’s working {luckily, almost everything especially potatoes}, what to plant where, what didn’t grow {asparagus}, what grew too much for us to eat or store {squash, radishes} and the everlasting conundrum: how to keep the dogs, birds and insects from damaging the beautiful seeds of our labour.

This year, I think I have procured my best selection of seeds yet: among others-salsify, yellow strawberries, boston lettuce, white beets, mustard greens and most exciting for me: artichoke. Plucking the petals of a steamed artichoke and plunging them into a cup of creamy lemon mayonnaise or scooping up zesty dollops of artichoke ramekin using crusty chunks of baguette are two of my favourite summertime sports. Needless to say, I will be over the moon if the artichokes are a success as they are impossible to source in Irish markets.

We have also been trying to decide on adding raised beds or sticking with our tried and true, good old-fashioned ground beds. Lately the running pun is “to raise or not to raise”….which is nobler?

We moved into our own home on the farm in 2007 and planted our first kitchen garden two years later after completing a brilliant organic growing course booked through the Organic Centre and hosted by Jim Cronin at his farm in County Clare. Of course, Richard had some experience with growing his own vegetables when he was younger, but I certainly didn’t, and since the course was based on organic growing I figured it would be a great learning experience for us both.

Jim Cronin is a gentle, salt-of-the-earth farmer who believes in using basic principals for growing, even employing horsepower in lieu of fuel-powered machinery. He has been growing vegetables for over twenty years and his farm is certified to organic standards. He is a fountain of knowledge and a real congenial fella who taught us a lot and sent us home inspired.

The thing is, I distinctly remember Jim advising the class not to bother with raised beds; explaining that they were more cosmetic than anything and that they could potentially attract more pests to the garden, and by pests he meant SLUGS. It is altogether possible that I have recalled this very fact because he mentioned it during the lunch break, specifically when I was shoveling a forkful of his wife’s amazing shredded carrot salad into my mouth. Richard finished my plate.

Still, each time I see or read about a garden with raised beds, I can’t shake the idea that they would be easier to organise and maintain since we are not growing on acres of crops {I promise, we’re not!}. It would also be hard to deny that they might look a bit more attractive than our ground plot.  I decided to ask around for opinions, both professional and personal, to see who exactly was using raised beds, and why or why not?

Generally speaking, nearly everyone I spoke to was in favour of raised beds. Many reasons were given, most commonly: they are easier to weed, they provide better drainage, weeding can be kinder on the back muscles, not having access to good ground soil, living in the city so no other option for urban gardeners, and yes, {cough} because they look nice.

So, all things considered, we’ve decided to go ahead with the raised beds this year. And, since they look relatively easy to construct, I’m thinking I may just roll up my sleeves and do them myself.

Here is a recipe for one of my absolute favourite artichoke indulgences. It is the closest thing to the legendary Loring Cafe Artichoke Ramekin that I have tested.  It is creamy, zesty, garlic-y, artichoke-y heaven. I have many, many fond memories of sitting on the Loring patio sipping glasses of chilled Muscadet and devouring ramekins of this baked artichoke dip on sunny Saturday afternoons with a lively table of friends. Sadly, the original Loring is no longer there, but the Artichoke Ramekin will still live on here on the farm, so long as our artichokes are a success! {note: you can use jarred artichokes for this recipe and some think it’s even better than fresh}

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

Photo by Imen McDonnell 2012

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