Saturday 3 December 2016

A summer feast - Recipes from two of the country's top food bloggers

Two busy mums and food enthusiasts, Cliodhna Prendergast and Imen McDonnell combined forces at Kildare Village to create a sensational summer meal inspired by great Irish ingredients

Published 12/06/2016 | 02:30

Roast shoulder of Connemara lamb with Chimichurri.
Roast shoulder of Connemara lamb with Chimichurri.
Farmette buttermilk tart. Photo: Jack Caffrey
Food fusion (from left): Cliodhna Prendergast and Imen McDonnell. Photo: Kieran Harnett.
Ballyvolane House rhubarb martini. Photo: Jack Caffrey

Rising stars in the busy world of food blogging, Cliodhna Prendergast is a trained chef from Co Galway who writes Breaking Eggs, and Imen McDonnell, from Co Limerick, is the founder of the Farmette blog. Together they have combined forces on the Lens & Larder creative retreats.

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Last month, they created a 'Food: From the Isle' long table dinner for Kildare Village's year-long campaign. It nurtures the wealth of talent emerging in Ireland's creative sector and reinvigorating Irish food, craft and fashion with tasty pop ups. Today they share their individual recipes which combine to create a memorable summer Sunday lunch.

ROAST SHOULDER OF CONNEMARA LAMB WITH CHARRED ASPARAGUS AND IRISH CHIMICHURRI

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I love taking home ideas from my travels and adapting the recipes to Irish ingredients to create similar flavours. Chimichurri is the Argentinian ‘green sauce’ used to slather on meat. Although it usually features large amounts of parsley, this recipe is a take on chimichurri using garlic together with some mint which brings an added freshness to it. I use wild water mint but you can substitute regular mint instead. It is perfect for all sorts of lamb dishes and is best made at least an hour before serving to let the flavours mix and mellow.

(Cliodhna Prendergast)

Ingredients

5lb shoulder of lamb

2 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

3 garlic cloves

Method

Preheat oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.

Place the lamb on a roasting tray and rub all over with the olive oil and a good amount of sea salt and pepper. Using a small sharp knife make 12 deep slits all over the lamb. Cut each clove of garlic in four and insert a quartered garlic in each slit.

Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes to brown. After 30 minutes turn the oven down to 180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for a further 40–60 minutes depending on how you like it cooked.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest. It is very important that you allow it to rest at this point. Don’t worry, it will not go cold. Simply cover with some tin foil or a clean tea towel for 15 minutes at the very least, 30 minutes is even better. This gives you plenty of time to finish the vegetables and potatoes such as charred asparagus and sweet minty new potatoes. You could always flash it back in the oven for five minutes to warm the outside if you feel you must but it will be perfectly hot in the middle.

COOKING TIMES

Cooking times always vary depending on the oven and whether or not the lamb is at room temperature before it is cooked. Here is a handy guide for testing meat without fiddling around with thermometers:

To test, stick a long two-pronged carving fork or a long thin knife into the centre of the lamb, leave it there for about 10 seconds. Remove and test the heat on the inside base of your thumb (the bit your middle finger touches if you fold it down). If the fork is lukewarm the joint is rare. If it is warm, almost hot, the joint is medium (best for lamb). If it is very hot, the joint is well done.

MINT AND GARLIC CHIMICHURRI

I love taking home ideas from my travels and adapting the recipes to Irish ingredients to create similar flavours. Chimichurri is the Argentinian ‘green sauce’ used to slather on meat. Although it usually features large amounts of parsley, this recipe is a take on chimichurri using garlic together with some mint which brings an added freshness to it. I use wild water mint but you can substitute regular mint instead. It is perfect for all sorts of lamb dishes and is best made at least an hour before serving to let the flavours mix and mellow.

Ingredients

60g parsley leaves with 1 grated garlic clove (or 60g wild garlic)

50g freshly picked mint

Zest of ½ lemon

130ml olive oil

15ml red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Method

Finely chop the herbs (and grated garlic, if using) or blitz for a minute in the food processor. Stir in the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Add the red wine vinegar and stir in the lemon zest and set aside at room temperature for about 30–60 minutes before serving with the roast shoulder of lamb.

When grating the zest of a lemon try not to get down to the white pith. It gets very bitter and loses the zing you are looking for. So just grate a little and turn.

BALLYVOLANE HOUSE RHUBARB MARTINI

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This is the cocktail we serve in spring/summer as rhubarb is in season and we grow it in our walled garden. A couple of these before dinner promises lively conversation throughout dinner. They are delicious and very easy to make.

Serves 2. 

Ingredients

For the rhubarb syrup

1lb caster sugar

1 pint water

1 bunch rhubarb

1 tsp fresh root ginger

For the martini

3 shots Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin

2 shots rhubarb syrup (see recipe)

½ shot fresh lime juice

2 lumps ice

1 cocktail shaker

2 martini glasses

Method

Boil the sugar and water to make sugar syrup. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the chopped rhubarb (2 inches long) and grated ginger and poach gently until the rhubarb is soft. Allow to cool for one hour and strain the rhubarb through a sieve. Decant the rhubarb syrup into a bottle and store in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge and it freezes really well too.

When using a cocktail shaker, always avoid trying to make too much quantity in one go as the cocktail doesn’t mix well when full. Mixing two martinis in one shaker is best. Put all the ingredients together into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Hold the shaker in two hands and shake it over your shoulder. Chill the martini glasses by putting them in the freezer or leave a few lumps of ice in them for a few minutes. Pour the rhubarb martini through a cocktail strainer into the glasses. Always taste before pouring and add more syrup if too sour or more lime juice if too sweet.

FARMETTE BUTTERMILK TART

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(Imen McDonnell)

Makes one 9in single crust tart

Ingredients

For the basic short pastry:

187g all-purpose flour

56g butter

Pinch of fine sea salt

60ml cold water

For the tart:

3 eggs

300g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

90ml buttermilk

56g butter

1 tbsp plain flour

Pinch of salt

Method

To make the pastry, place flour, butter and salt in large mixing bowl. Rub the ingredients together with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Do not overtax or the butter will begin to melt from the heat of your fingers.

Add the water, and mix with a wooden spoon until a firm dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

To make the tart, gently knead the pastry before using — taking care that it remains cold and firm. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 1/8-inch-thick sheet. Preheat oven to 175C.

Line a 9in tart tin with the short pastry.

Using an electric mixer, blend the eggs, sugar, vanilla, buttermilk, butter, flour and salt in a large bowl until fluffy.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked tart shell. Lightly dust sugar over the top and bake for 1 hour, or until firm and golden on top.

Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving. Serve at room temperature with a dollop of farmhouse mascarpone and a wee drizzle of honey.

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