Recipes for Cookery Demonstration in the County Arms Hotel Birr
Potato Soup with Kale and Walnut Pesto
I like to slice some chorizo sausage and fry it gently on a low to medium heat then add the both the chorizo slices and the chorizo oil over the soup when serving.
1 clove garlic, crushed
150g (5oz) onion, chopped
250g (9oz) potato, peeled and cubed, 1 cm
25g (1oz) butter
800ml ( 28fl.oz) chicken or vegetable stock (don’t add it all, save some to check consistency when blending)
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and a good twist of black pepper
75ml (3fl.oz) cream
110ml (4fl.oz) milk
1-2 tbsp kale and walnut pesto, see recipe below
Place a saucepan over a medium heat , add in the butter and allow to melt and foam. Tip in the garlic , onion and the potatoes. Stir, season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to low, cover the vegetables with a leftover butter wrapper if you have one (or some grease proof paper) and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add most of the stock, salt, pepper and nutmeg, turn the heat up high and continue to cook until the potatoes are completely tender.
Transfer to a liquidiser and blend until the soup is velvety – at least 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile rinse out the saucepan and return the soup to it when blended, through a sieve if you wish. Add the milk and cream, adjust the seasoning and add more stock if necessary. It should be thick but not gloopy. Serve in warm bowls with a drizzle of kale pesto.
Kale and walnut pesto
Makes 1 x 400ml jar
- 110g (4oz) kale , curly kale or Cavalo Nero, (stalks removed – weigh after removed)
- 1 large clove of garlic, finely crushed or grated
- 60g (2oz) walnuts
- 30g (1oz) finely grated hard cheese, such as mature Coolea or Parmesan
- 200ml (7fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
- 50ml (2fl.oz) more extra virgin olive oil to cover in jar
- A small pinch of salt
Roughly chop the kale then place in a food processor. Whiz for a few minutes until the kale is quite fine – (almost as fine as chopped herbs) – it will take a few minutes.
Then add the garlic, the walnuts and the cheese and whiz till fine. Add the olive oil, taste and add a small pinch of salt if necessary. Pour into a sterilised jar, or 2 small jars, bang down on the work top to remove any air bubbles then pour over the 50ml extra virgin olive oil, cover with lid and put in fridge. This will keep in fridge for 6 months. When using some, pour the olive oil off the top into a clean small bowl then spoon out desired amount of pesto, bang down again on the worktop and clean around the inside of the jar with kitchen paper before pouring the olive oil back in to cover , as before.
Soda Focaccia with red onions, olives and rosemary
- 450g (1lb) flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 350 - 400mls (12-14fl.oz) buttermilk , or sour milk
- 1 red onion , cut into six wedges lengthways , then half the wedges crossways
- 12 black or green pitted olives ,( stones removed)
- A few sprigs of rosemary, broken into 12 little pieces
- A good drizzle of olive oil , about 50-75ml (2-3fl.oz)
- Sea salt flakes
Preheat the oven to 230’C/450’F/Gas 8.
Brush the inside of a small Swiss roll tin or roasting tray generously with olive oil .Sieve the dry ingredients, and make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, shaped like a claw mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board and roll it out so that it will fit into the Swiss roll tin. Make dimples with the tips of your fingers , to make little wells for the olive oil. Place the 12 red onion chunks on the raw dough , (3 across and 4 down , so that there are 12 altogether) so each square will have some of everything . Next to the red onion place a pitted olive (press it down slightly) and a little sprig of rosemary Drizzle generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until cooked. When cooked, the bread should be nice and golden on top and on the bottom.
If the bread gets a good golden colour and you don’t want it to darken any more , while cooking , turn the oven down to 200’C and continue cooking .
When the focaccia is cooked but still hot , drizzle just a little more olive oil over the top . Allow to cool slightly before serving .
Pork with Cream and Watercress
- 25g (1oz) butter
- 1 large clove of garlic, crushed or finely grated
- 1 bunch of spring opinions, about 110g (4oz) sliced to ½cm thick
- 500g (1lb 2 oz) pork fillet (approx 1 large pork fillet) trimmed, sliced in half horizontally and sliced - ½cm to 1cm thick.
- Salt and pepper
- 175ml (6fl.oz) cream
- 50g (2oz) watercress, leaves and some stalks, chopped
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2-3 tablespoons of water, if necessary
Place a frying pan or a sauté pan on a medium heat, add the butter. When the butter melts and foams tip in the garlic and spring onions, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 minutes until almost softened. Add in the pork slices and cook over a high heat for a minute or two on either side. Add in the cream, bring to the boil and allow to bubble for one to two minutes till the pork is cooked. Add the watercress and mustard and stir to mix. Season to taste and add a little water if it is too thick.
Pilaf is a dish of which cultures across the world have a version. It is a simple recipe but with good stock makes for a truly delicious side with plenty of flavour. You can easily adapt this recipe, adding whole green cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks or other spices when you add the onion or shallot. You could also stir through chopped herbs such as parsley or dill at the end of cooking.
- 25g (1oz) butter
- 1 small onion (about 125g) or 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 300g (10oz) basmati rice
- 750ml (26fl.oz) chicken or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 170’C if cooking the rice in the oven. It can also be coked on a very low heat on the hob.
Place a saucepan or casserole pot on a medium heat and add the butter. When it is melted and foaming add the chopped onion or shallot ,season with salt and pepper , put on the lid , turn the heat to low and cook until the onion is soft , about 8-10 minutes . Add the rice and stir on the heat for 2 minutes then add the stock and some salt and pepper , bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat on the hob or bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes , until the rice is just cooked and all the liquid absorbed . Cover and keep warm if you need to .
Gujerati Style Green Beans
- 1 lb (450g) fresh green French beans
- 4 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 4 teaspoons) vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) whole black mustard seeds
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
- 1/2 - 1 hot, dried red chilli, coarsely crushed in a mortar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- freshly ground pepper
Trim the beans and cut them into 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths. Blanch the beans by dropping them into a pot of well-salted boiling water, boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes or until they are just tender.Drain immediately in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the garlic. Stir the garlic pieces around until they turn light brown, (be careful not to burn or it will spoil the flavour). Put in the crushed red chilli and stir for a few seconds, add the green beans, salt and sugar. Stir to mix. Turn the heat to medium-low. Stir and cook the beans for 3-4 minutes or until they have absorbed the flavour of the spices. Season with freshly ground black pepper, mix well and serve.
Chocolate mousse, salted caramel sauce, shortbread biscuits
A simple chocolate mouse is one of the easiest desserts to make and no less impressive because of it. The intense chocolate flavour is often enough, but I like to enhance it with a little orange or brandy. You could serve the mousse on its own, with a little cream or for a true celebration of flavour with this salted caramel sauce.
- 120g (4 and a half oz) dark chocolate (,anything from 55-70% cocoa solids)
- 120ml (4 and a half fl.oz) regular or double cream
- half – 1 tsp finely grated orange rind or 2 tbsp orange liqueur or brandy
- 2 eggs separated
Chop the chocolate. In a saucepan, bring the cream up to the boil, turn off the heat, add the chocolate to the cream and stir it around until the chocolate melts. Add the grated zest or alcohol and whisk in the egg yolks. In a separate, clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until just stiff, then stir a quarter of the egg white into the cream mixture. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites, then spoon into little bowls, glasses or cups and leave for two hours in the fridge to set. Serve with the salted caramel sauce.
Prep ahead: The mousse will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Serve more/less people: the chocolate mousse recipe can be multiplied or halved.
Salted caramel sauce
I’ll be forever grateful to the French genius who first put salt in caramel. The ultimate expression of salty and sweet. This sauce works brilliantly with the chocolate mousse but as you can imagine it is just as happy drizzled over vanilla ice cream with or without the crunchy peanut butter cookies (page 00).
- 225g (8oz) sugar, caster or granulated
- 75ml (3fl.oz) water
- 110g (4oz) butter
- 175ml (6fl.oz) regular or double cream
- a good pinch of salt (I love to use salt flakes such as Maldon or Atlantic sea salt)
Place the sugar , the water and the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir as it heats up to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up to high and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until it turns a toffee colour. Do not stir the pan though you might need to swirl the pan occasionally if you see it turning golden on one side of the pan before the other. Once it is a rich golden toffee colour tale it off the heat for a moment and stir in the cream and the salt to taste. Serve with the chocolate mousse and shortbread biscuits.
Prep ahead: *This can be stored in the fridge for about 3 weeks and reheated when necessary
Serve more/less people: this recipe doubles perfectly. In fact it quadruples perfectly too, I think you can never have too much salted caramel sauce in the fridge.
- 150g (5oz) plain flour
- 100 g (3 and a half oz) soft butter
- 50g (2oz) caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4.
2. Put the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl, rub in the soft butter and bring the whole mixture together to form a stiff dough. Do not add any water.
3. Roll the dough out to about half cm thickness and cut into shapes, place carefully on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 6-10mins, or until pale golden.
4. Take out and carefully transfer the biscuits on to a wire rack to cool, I lift them off using a palette knife or metal fish slice.
Storage: The shortbread will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Makes about 500g (1 lb 2oz)
- 325g (11 1/2 oz) caster sugar
- 50g (2oz) honey
- 125g (4 1/2oz) glucose syrup (available from a chemist)
- 1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda
1 baking tray – 300mm x 400mm (12 x 16 inch)
parchment paper or silpat mat
Line a baking or roasting tray with a non-stick mat (there is no need to grease this). Put the sugar, honey and glucose syrup in a large saucepan and add 4 tablespoons of water. Bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves, remove the spoon then reduce the heat to medium and simmer without stirring for 5-10 minutes or until the syrup turns a light golden colour and a sugar thermometer dipped into the mixture reads 149°C (300ºF). Alternatively, check whether it has reached the hard-crack stage. Immediately remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the bicarbonate of soda. The mixture will grow, trebling in size very quickly, so be careful it doesn’t spill over. Pour into the prepared baking tray, swirling the tray to spread the mixture evenly. Leave to completely cool and harden in a dry atmosphere before breaking into chunks. Cut with a knife or break with your hands and store in an airtight container.
Dec 04, 2015 News