The early spring flowers are starting to come through around now, each of them has their own smell and use, each flower is as attractive as the next. As a chef we use flowers as a garnish, to add a pop of colour to a dish, adding orange calendula flowers or a variety of violas.
At the moment Gorse or Furze, is a member of the pea family and the flowers, they have a beautiful smell from them. Some people get coconut others get pea; I get both at different times all weather dependant. (that’s me) the flowers themselves are edible as part of a salad or in a dessert by putting them in some boiling water and sugar a simple syrup, and leaving it to cool overnight ti allow the flowers infuse into the liquid, then form there into a panna cotta, a very simple dessert that holds extremely well. Ive used it in some keifer also that’s a whole other subject to get into, using a water keifer or a milk keifer the health benefits and microbiology of the yeasts and bacteria that promote good gut health, I make about a litre every couple of days using flowers and fruit and mint.
Next is sweet briar or flowering currant, this scent is one of my favourites in the spring, the smell is so powerful to me I will often smell before i see it much like elderflower the smell draws me in just heaven. I plan on drying out a few this year and put it into a wax burner to add to the scent it may work it may not, I’m going to give it a go anyway.
Next on the flowers that appear are primroses, they appear in patches in places this little yellow pop. The flowers and leaves are edible, the leaves are not quite strong to eat, while the flowers can be used to decorate a cake when candied they are a lovely little bitesize snack.
Once the flowers are washed, and dried off as much as possible, make a stock syrup equal quantity of sugar and water, cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, then allow it to cool completely as the heat will dull the colour of the flowers. Coat the flowers completely in the syrup, then sieve over icing sugar, place on baking parchment and then leave in a warm dry place to dry out, these can be stored then in an airtight container for up to a week. Alternatively, you can dip the flowers in and egg white beaten with some water, then dipped in some caster sugar, then left to dry out, these hold for a bit longer.
I tend to leave the dandelions for the bees until much later in the spring, they are edible, and make a unique tasting tea.
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As I alluded to earlier finding motivation to do just about anything is a struggle for me on a day-to-day basis, I make bread every 3 days a kind of sour dough of sorts, originally, I made a bread with yeast and held back some of the mix and allowed it to mature in the fridge, for a few days. The next loaf I made I repeated the process, I’m not one for folding and shaping and doing this that and the other to food. I’m a simple man, less processes that a food involves the better, please and thanks. I don’t mind letting things go or ferment overnight, bake the bread in the morning.
Ive been getting ducks from SuperValu Castleisland at what I believe is a bargain price of €6 it does my wife and I the same as a chicken for 2 days, plus it gives me duck fat. This I render out of the duck as I have little better to do and you make think it’s a complicated process, nope, trim the duck put the carcass in a large pot and put it on a low heat and leave it alone for an hour or 2 check it after an hour to ensure it hasn’t stuck to the bottom, it happens.
Once all the skins and bones etc. look crispy its done strain it into a large jar, I use a coffee jar with a lid Maxwell house or Nescafé make no difference to be honest. Allow it to cool and put in the fridge where it will keep indefinitely.
I also make stocks like I did in the 1st lockdown chicken bones roasted add some veg peelings and some dried foraged mushrooms, cover and boil for an hour strain and cool. nice simple base for a sauce or a casserole or a soup or even if you are that way inclined your own gravy. No granules needed. It’s very basic cooking skills that everyone should be able to do, but most people don’t.
Further to this I’ve began to make potato skin crisps, once ive peeled the spuds I wash the skins in cold water to remove the starch and allow them to crisp up evenly.
Store them in water until needed, squeeze off the water and toss in some oil and salt, or in my case some duck fat and bake in the oven at 180 for 15 minutes the best crisps ever.
Pissaladiere is a dish originating from Liguria, specifically Genoa, and then making its way across to Nice in France where its popularity flourished. The traditional pissaladiere dish is prepared on a bread dough slightly thicker than that of pizza margherita, however in this recipe, they have been adapted and prepared in short crust pastry tartlets. Although caramelised onions constitute most of the filling, the salty taste of the anchovies balances well with the sweetness said onions.
For the pastry, you will need:
- 250g Plain white flour
- 125g Butter
- Pinch of salt
For the filling, you will need:
- 5 small onions (Preferably French onions) peeled and chopped.
- Black olives, Pitted and sliced
- Anchovies, one small tin
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine (optional)
- Salt to taste
Short crust Pastry:
Begin by making a short crust pastry. To do so, add the flour and butter (cubed) to a food processer, alternatively you can mix these together by hand, but the warmth of your hands may make the butter greasy. Pulse in the food processer until a fine crumb. Add the pinch of salt and pulse once more. Next to get the pastry to come together add a tablespoon of water, then pulse. Repeat until the crumb begins to clump together. Once the pastry begins forming in the food processer, tip out onto a clean worktop and form into a ball. Cover with cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes, ideally overnight. Take the ball of pastry out of the fridge, unwrap and place onto a floured worktop. Begin rolling out the pasty to roughly a third of an inch thick. For this next part you will need a cupcake tray, cut pastry into circles that will fit the holes of your cupcake tray, lay pastry into the holes and cut accordingly.
Pre-heat oven to Fan 180 degrees. Get a large frying pan, giving the onions plenty of room, add olive oil and bring to a medium-high heat. Add onions and some salt to draw out the moisture from the onions helping caramelization. Stir occasionally and add a small amount of water to enhance the colour. As onions begin to brown significantly, add the red wine (optional). Lastly add the balsamic vinegar and stir.
Slice anchovies and add to taste, use very little as they have a strong taste and may easily overpower the onions, mix into the caramelized onions and scoop mixture into your pastry.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until pastry is a golden brown.
Making crumble so no need to waste the core & peel knock up a quick apple vinegar
And honey all in a jar cover with cloth and let ferment before straining and allowing to sour
@leagh_farm and @mannaorganicstore both have amazing rainbow Chard in season right now. Its so visually stunning and really easy to cook with. For Easter Sunday I made a tartlet with it. Here’s the recipe:
1 roll flaky pastry, 200g sliced chestnut mushrooms, 6 stalks of rainbow Chard thinly sliced, 1 diced onion, 2 crushed cloves garlic, 150ml stout (beamish or @guinness), knob of butter, salt, pepper. Wild garlic pesto, carmelised onions or use relish and grated parmesan cheese.
Sautee onions, garlic, Chard and mushrooms until soft, add a little butter, salt and pepper to taste. Add stout and bubble to reduce liquid right down.
Roll out pastry onto a baking tray, cut into 6 or 8 squares and separate to give them room to rise. Use the rim of a glass to lightly imprint a circle in centre of each square. Prick the circle with fork so the centre won’t rise. Put mushroom Chard mix on top, add dollop pesto, carmelised onions or relish version and grated parm. Brush edges of pastry with oil or beaten egg. Bake 200 degrees for 12 mins approx.
Serve with green salad topped with my favourite 12 yr old balsamic dressing from @therealolivecompany
So easy, so tasty, perfect lunchtime dish!
TAG us if you make it 🙂 enjoy!
saltysoulscafe #surflife #healthykerry #chard #eattherainbow #lunch #vegetarian #kerryfood #kerryvegetarian #organic
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As I walk through the restaurant
My breath still on the silent air
Hearing my heart cause the music has died
My steps ring out hollow no laughter to fill the void
The air still
the sound of chatter long lingering in the memory
The clinking if glasses replaced by the tick of a clock I never notice before
Hollow , relentless as I watch it it tick by
Eating the soul that was once joyous seaming to fill the room …tick
Once a place of laughter & banter, of hopes & loves, of celebrations & commiserations
Now it sits silent
Like a great ship on the ocean bed
No longer serving its purpose
The kitchen full of noise & heat of steam and ructions
Now a cold quite void as my breath lingers in the fridget air ,
Ovens sit silenced , burners gone cold , chargrills no longer see dancing flames
It smells of ….nothing ,