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 ,
Starting with wood sorrel, this shamrock looking herb, has 3 leaves and produce a small white/pink flower, this is a beautiful herb that doesn’t do well when exposed to high heat though it imparts its flavour it doesn’t make lend a green colour if blended into a sauce.
It is best used in a medley of mixed leaves in a salad or as a garnish herb. It adds a lemony sharpness once bitten into, and eases off to leave a pleasant taste on the palate. It grows in old forests, or on mossy trees. It grows most of the year round while conditions allow. It grows best from mid-march onwards when the temperatures are that little bit warmer consistently, it then dies off after the 1st hard frost as it then just disappears as quickly as it appears.
It is also used in some alternative medicine, to help with high fevers, also to settle weak or sick stomachs used as a gargle for mouth ulcers, and also said to be good for healing wounds. Now I am not a doctor or a medical expert, I’m going to leave that to the professionals. The people who put in the years of training and studies and correlating results. That’s their job, I am merely passing on some of the uses that it has been used for in the past.
Follow along on the Facebook page for more and myself on my wandering in the countryside @chefpaulc on all social media platforms.
In the midst of this seemingly never-ending lockdown, finding motivation to get out and do stuff is getting harder, I find anyway I know I’m not the only one. There is a beautiful walk near to the house that is quite long and is tough going in parts, it’s a beautiful place to find peace and quiet away for the 4 walls that are closing in ever faster as the days go by in the mental countdown to get back to work, into a kitchen, back to the humm of the combi oven firing up. The whoof of the gas lighting on the ring the rattle and bang of a pot or a pan. The eternal “I busy” followed by laughter from the kitchen porter, even the sound of this rings in my head as I write this piece, brings a smile to a dull evening
Anyway, tangent and mental word soliloquy over (thanks Alexa). While wandering now through the forest I can’t help notice the herbs, flowers, catkins, mushrooms and shrubs all start to wake from their winter hibernation.
Every year around this time we begin to plan for a wild garlic forage, with a group in a forestry, I know it seems totally foreign at the moment, it’s not just wild garlic that’s coming up at the moment, there is a multitude of different greens, over the next few pieces I’ll be talking about different ones and their uses, not in a fancy manner just humble food, everything from wood sorrel to primroses, from chickweeds to nettles, yes you read that right nettles.
It is spring time and the vast majority of our natural mineral reserves are depleted after the winter, on a typically Irish food diet now we do have supplements and a wider variety of foods available to us than we ever had before, which has lessened the knowledge that we generally have about the world around us, people are often surprised when they see me in a ditch or of a beaten track picking stuff, I will nearly always get asked what have you got there, how will you use that now, I didn’t know you could eat that, or Ive got that near the house or in a flowerbed and never knew you could eat it and dismissed it as a weed.
I love this type of interaction, as I can see them smile and that makes me feel that little bit happier, whether or not they do anything with it, doesn’t faze me at all if they do, they do if they don’t well, they don’t I’m not going to force myself or my opinion on anyone, for some people its too far outside a comfort zone and that’s ok, for others they will give it a go and think yes, this is for me or no, not a hope thanks, but no thanks.
There is a book that we have put together for uses of wild garlic available from the website or Croi restaurant, follow the page on Facebook for updates on forages and little titbits of info on a variety of different subjects
As always follow along @chefpaulc
Christmas 2019 I received an amazing gift from my girlfriend, a book that some chefs would call the bible, Escoffier
– Le Guide Culinaire. I have
used this as a solid reference point since especially when finishing my college
course and cooking meals for special occasions.
Just recently I realised that so far this year I have
used 2 Escoffier recipes in 2 months, so I plan to continue this process and do
12 in 12 months. The first recipe I used was on New Year’s Day.
Saumon Ecossaise – Salmon Ecossaise
This dish is so deceiving in how delicate and light it is. The marriage between the poached salmon and the hollandaise sauce is just as beautiful and as elegant as the pairing of the buttered stewed vegetables and duchess potatoes.
After cooking this particular it easy to see why so many people loved when Escoffier did fish, without even talking about the skills of the various cooking methods, just the share flavour he got from the food is amazing. The man was a wealth of knowledge and knew and did things others at the time could only dream of.
My second dish of the year I cooked on Valentine’s Day.
To say this dish is fit for a king is an understatement, a prime cut of beef nicely seared and served rare with a stuffed mushroom filled with foie gras and parmesan cheese. A veal jus and Potato dauphine to finish. I would lie the ingredients are a little bit of a luxury and this is not your everyday type of steak dish, but I will the flavour alone is worth it. With the first bite of the beef it is almost like travel through history but with food, eating the very meals royalty did so many years before, and being able to reproduce than is not only a privilege but a culinary honour.
As February draws to a close it is time to take out the bible again and I am starting to look towards what to do in March, I think I will do something poultry-based this time.
During a time where working in a restaurant is near impossible for most chefs, I just want to use this time continuing doing what I love, while somehow still being inspired. So with that, I want to thank chef noel for being my mentor and giving me the skills needed. And secondly, my girlfriend who gave me the bible. And here’s to cooking in March
a beautiful recipe by by wild Irish game check out there website http://www.wildirishgame.ie for loads more & fantastic game.
menu writing is a strange thing to be honest , you have to balance what way and what dishes the customer wants and want you would like to cook which i can assure yo are very different things , to give an example steak the usual trio sirloin fillet and ribeye wouldn’t make the cut , for me the filet is tender yes but lacks any flavour sirloin has more flavour but is well blaa just yea blaa the ribeye is the best of the three and sells the least , where as the feather blade or bavette steak has oodles of flavour yes not tender but for me it is always about flavour, what else matters really just flavour in all senses really isn’t it a flavour packed meal , relationship, life , you don’t want any to be blaa , a night out a great conversation life is all about flavour isn’t,
oh yes menus it is the same on starts , a lot of the best sellers are there for the customer not the chef , and you might think well yes that’s why i go there they have so and so on the menu, but shouldn’t you be going to a restaurant to try something different something you wouldn’t normally have , something by the chef his dish his way , what are you afraid of …….. worst thing ever is someone saying they wouldn’t like that and then saying they have never had it but wouldn’t like it , sweet baby Jesus , if you always took that you would never eat or drink anything ever what a waste of a life , one of life’s greatest joys is eating.
it is one of the purest things really , so go to restaurant that are chef lead , how do youo know if they are…. look at the menu it will tell you everything you need to know , same old stuff on it as everywhere else or things on it you dont know combinations you never heard of then thats chef lead.
As we come out from our 2nd lockdown, my lockdown has taken me back to school, yes I did a few courses during the 1st lockdown but they were ones I needed to update and refresh. To further to my jogging/running I’ve gone back to the basics of cooking at home, making bread, stock and sauce, I’ve always bought whole chickens, just decided to make use of the carcass instead of being lazy about it. I bought a duck to break and render for stock and taken the fat for roast potatoes for myself and my wife. Its a “healthier” fat than vegatble oil.
I plan on making spring rolls from the legs wings and breast. Making them is very easy, all you need is the pastry, filo will do the technical one is filo de brick, the method is very simple, make your filling of vegatables, sweat them together till they are tender allow to cool and mix in cooled duck meat, season to your liking with salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, whatever you like.
The pastry if you are using filo you will need to cut it in 2 as it is too long, if you get the spring roll pastry just place a damp towel or cloth over it so it won’t loose moisture,
Place 1 sheet of pastry on top of the other rotating the top piece to make a star shape on the table.
Place your duck and vegetables in the middle of the star and fold over the 2 sides (left and right) Then roll the bottom point over the top of where the left and right are and tuck it in on the far side. Once tucked in roll over to the end to make it into your spring roll.
Bake at 180 for approx. 15 mins or deep fry until golden brown. Serve and enjoy.
As always stay safe and follow my journey @chefpaulc on all social media
As we are now in the middle of level 5 restrictions I find myself once again at a loss, though I’ve maintained a day or 2 a week work I feel more at a loss now than I did at the height of the last 1. Shortly after moving house while walking my 2 dogs, I walked a path alongside a river and decided instead of turning back on myself I’d continue on and walk home the rest of the way roughly the same distance as the walk, and that I’d jog a part of the leg home. Running was a vent for me as a teenager to clear my head focus and keep fit. Alas I was sadly mistaken as to how far I could run, I struggled with around 200 meters, shocking wake up call I assure you. In my teens I thought nothing of 5k or 10k runs.
I averaged approx 20, 000 steps on a day that I was working I figured a mile of a run may not have been out of my range, my legs, lungs and heart however had other ideas, “good idea kid, but no not doing that”. A week later now I’ve just completed a mile and a half jogging, my legs now feeling it.
I suppose the moral of my story, excercise in increments, not on a whim. I now plan to continue until I can successfully run 10k who knows maybe a marathon. All help and advice is appreciated.
As always stay safe, support local. follow my journey @chefpaulc on all social media.
- 25g/1oz butter
- 1 tbsp oip
- 2 medium onion, chopped
- 600g/1lb 5oz parsnip cut into 2cm/1in pieces
- 2 cloves cloves, crushed
- 600g/1lb 5oz Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks
- 1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable stock
- 150ml/5fl oz milk
- flaked sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onions and parsnips for 15 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the garlic and apples and cook for a further two minutes, stirring regularly.
- Pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the parsnips are very soft. Remove from the heat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Blend the mixture in a food processor until smooth.
- Stir in the milk, adding a little extra if required. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.