Keiths farm visit

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On the 20th of October, my fellow classmates and I assisted in a talk that featured Avril Allshire from Caherbeg free range pork and Rosscarberry Recipes.  The intention of this talk was to give students a background into Avril as a food producer. She also mentioned some of the more prestigious awards she had won, such as UK Great taste award, the French awards Prix d’Honneur anAvrils company Chaerbeg free range pork is a family run business that includes her husband and two sons. Avril maintains that her relaxed farming method helps to produce a quality finished product.
One of Avrils most interesting recipes was her black pudding and beamish stout bread that has 7 ingredients, 5 of which are made using ingredients solely produced in Cork.
Avril and her family have won many prestigious awards nationally and internationally for their hard work in producing quality products. Most notable of these is la Confreirie des chevaliers du Goute-boudin which she received as a result of the dedication and hard work that went into producing her black pudding This pudding also features in her Rosscrbary black pudding lasagne recipe. Caherbegs products have won awards almost every year from 2003 to 2013. Some of these awards includes the UK Great taste award, the French awards Prix d’Honneur and Irelands Blas na hEireann. Caherbegs pork products are also noted by the Irish examiner as “lovely full meaty flavou”
According to her husband Willie Rosscarbery recipes allocates to about 85% of their business but maintains that their original farm has to remain small in order to keep their standards high For her second company Rosscarbery recipes Avril is supplied by stautons in Cork. Statuons was founded by the staton family who had been butchering pigs for local farmers. Since 1950. Because of statuons quality control and locally employed workforce it is easy to see why Avril who is fixed on promoting good quality and local business would choose stautons as her supplier for Rosscarbery recipes. Avril mentioned that her inspiration for most of her recipes doesn’t come from her experience of cooking professionally but rather from being a mother who is sometimes in need of a quick recipe

Caherbeg free range pork and rosscarbarry recipes is an inspiration to how food should be produced. Small sustainable and local produce far outweighs anything that could be produced by larger manufactures in quality, nutrition and taste. Proof of this can be seen by the awards and recognition gained by Avril and her family over the years.

Paul on life

Year 2

I suppose it’s been a while so here goes another year, spring is off to a flying start with all the herbs and wild weeds coming thick and fast at this stage. I found the winter period tough on the foraging front as it became harder to locate usable sustainable quantities of different herbs both coastal and forestry, flowers, just gorse on tbe menu, ( them damn thorns), yet another joyous start in the tunnel rhubarb straight off the mark and strawberries in 2nd place along with last year’s chard gaining a new lease of life. The radish I dropped in and the beetroot also spouting nicely.

This year is an unknown entity due to restaurant coming on stronger than ever with the number of accolades growing steadily. The feeling of bittersweet joy and pride in my work, showing results is unusual I’m not used to being a successful in work, I’ve been by my own admission a failure in my own personal life, with comparisons to to others perceived situations. So overall balanced life even if it is a little sleepless at times. The foraging has taken itself to new heights and the wild garlic talk led me to have more confidence in my own abilities, with new ideas planning with every new day in the forestry or the shore.

I’m now getting spotted and stopped more often now and most commonly known as your one of them, the gangsters or the lads from Croi. I find it amusing as people don’t believe we actually do what we say we do.

Later this year my preservation will take a serious turn with the arrival of my wedding and the meriad of preserves I plan on making for it.

As always more action @chefpaulc on insta and twitter or a feed from the restaurant @croitralee on all social media platforms

veg

Vegetable of the week – Spinach!

Time to Sow – Anytime of the year.
Position – Likes full sun, with some shade.
Time to Harvest – 40 to 50 days. Cut and come again crop.
Companions – Cabbage, Celery, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Radish.
Cooking – Stir-fry, salads, even smoothies. Can be eaten raw or quickly fried.

David talks france

Irish food culture
After leaving and working outside of Ireland for a while now, I have discovered a few things about the perception of the Irish food culture.
1) We don’t have a bold rich historic food culture, so people are ignorant to our views and some of ours foods. (you try to compare dishes or explain similar ingredients and people just don’t want to know)
2) People think we belong to the UK (united kingdom), this really irritated me as Ireland has its own culture, and its own presence in the food world we certainly do not need to piggy back off the UK
3) Beer – so aside from being associated with the UK for food if you’re Irish while living abroad or associated with an Irish establishment, people straight away ask about beer and whiskey.
As I sit here at my desk writing these stereotype discoveries, I ask myself what I can do as a chef to showcase Irish food culture. The only solution for me at this moment is to cook even if just for one person at a time, if only just one person opens their mind and learns a little about a different culture then it’s all a success, as food is always enjoy therefore a culture never dies.

Paul on spring

Spring flowers.

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.
Follow along on the Facebook page for more information.

Paul talks spring

Spring flowers.

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.
Follow along on the Facebook page for more information.

Lockdown , Paul

Lockdown life
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.