The Daily Dish

Letter from Ireland: The spirit of Julia Child at Ballymaloe Cookery School

By Cathy Huyghe
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There’s a sense of the reality of Julia Child at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and then there is a sense of her spirit.

Both reality and spirit are embodied by Chefs Myrtle Allen and Darina Allen (Myrtle’s daughter-in-law), founders of the renowned Ballymaloe House and restaurant and the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland.

Myrtle Allen is more of Julia’s generation. She and Julia share common histories as pioneering women and authors in their countries’ culinary history, and both are grounded firmly in classical French cooking technique, adapted in their own ways to suit and appeal to their local cultures and ingredients.

Darina is like Julia as well, post-publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That is, she is her country’s culinary celebrity, generous with time and energy, and involved the way sincere representatives are for their endeavors. With Julia, the endeavor was to bring the pleasures of French cooking and eating to the American public; for Darina, it is training new generations of cooks and shepherding micro-produced ingredients and products to the marketplace.

Both streams, one more historical and one more of-the-moment, merge this week at Ballymaloe Cookery School where Darina hosts a two-and-a-half-day course called “Homage to Julia Child.” Mornings, the students are devoted to executing recipes in Ballymaloe’s three student kitchens, while afternoons are full of cooking demonstrations led by Darina and her brother, Rory O’Connell, an accomplished educator and chef in his own right.

The historical reality of Julia’s recipes is evident, from the duck en croute to the tarte tatin, but it is their spirit that is executed here. That is, the recipes that are demonstrated and prepared are “shorthand” versions of Julia’s meticulous, multipage originals. The recipes are no less successful for the abbreviations, as they have been mainstays of the restaurant at Ballymaloe and at the Cookery School for decades.

And that perhaps is the most salient lesson from this course so far: success through repetition and a firm grounding in technique. Add healthy doses of humor and camaraderie along the way and your satisfaction – not to mention an exceptionally delicious meal – is secure.

Julia would have approved.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Postcards from Ireland: The Ballymaloe Cookery School

By Cathy Huyghe
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Building on yesterday’s musings about the reality of Julia Child presented at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and the sense of her spirit, one of the best ways to convey both is through photos of a recent event at Ballymaloe.

Chef Darina Allen prepares apples with caramel sauce for a classic tarte tatin. Allen recently led a two-and-a-half day course called “Homage to Julia Child.” Afternoons were devoted to cooking demonstrations of many of Julia Child’s classic recipes (such as tarte tatin and duck en croute), and in the mornings students headed into the kitchens to prepare the recipes themselves. More than 50 students from five different countries gathered at Ballymaloe for the course.

Chef Rory O’Connell demonstrates deboning a duck in the demonstration kitchen of Ballymaloe. The demonstration kitchen is outfitted with 11 gas burners, two video screens, and an enormous mirror overhead to reflect a bird’s eye view onto the dishes and activity below.

A visiting student to the “Homage to Julia Child” short course debones a duck for the duck en croute recipe.

Butter and leeks wait on a prep trolley for students to prepare the Buttered Leeks recipe during the Julia Child course.

One of many compost buckets at Ballymaloe. Kitchen scraps are used for compost and to feed the chickens.

One of several coops to house two Ballymaloe hens each.

Fresh eggs from Ballymaloe’s own hens.

Fresh, colorful peppers within easy reach of the cooks at Ballymaloe.

Flowers in the organic gardens just outside the doors of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Timmy Allen, husband of Chef Darina Allen, gives a walking tour of the Ballymaloe gardens to the local chapter of GIY, or Grow It Yourself Ireland, an enormously popular gardening group that aims to “take the self out of self-sufficiency.”

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Irish Coffee from the source: A recipe from County Kerry

By Cathy Huyghe
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“A drop of the craythur.”

That’s what the Irish say when lacing a beverage with a bit of whiskey.  One of the most famous resulting concoctions, Irish coffee, was reportedly invented in 1940 by Joe Sheridan, a chef at Shannon Airport. It’s stood the test of time, and remains the perfect accompaniment to WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn.

The classic Irish coffee involves just four ingredients: Irish whisky, brown sugar, coffee, and fresh cream. Here is Sheridan’s recipe, reproduced by John and Olive Mulvihill of The Red Fox Inn in Glenbeigh along the Ring of Kerry.

Take a steamed glass.

Pour in 1/4 gill (four tablespoons) of Irish whisky.

Add 2 teaspoons brown sugar and boiling coffee to within 3/4 inch of the top of the glass.

Stir briskly until sugar is completely dissolved.

Add cream, lightly whipped, and pour into the glass over the back of a teaspoon so that the cream will not sink.

To enjoy the full flavor of the Irish coffee do not stir when cream is added.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Cranberry Red Roast Braised Pork Shoulder
By Ming Tsai

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Ingredients
2 cups naturally brewed soy sauce
2 cups red wine
2 cups water, plus more if necessary
1 small ginger root, sliced into 5 thick slices
2 bunch scallions, 1 inch pieces
3 star anise
1 packed cup of brown sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, plus 1/2 cup for garnish, halved
1 bone-out pork shoulder, fat cap on, scored diagonally
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chinese steamed bread (you can buy these frozen in Chinatown)

Directions
In a stock pot over high heat, combine all liquids, ginger, scallions, star anise, sugar and cranberries and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and add pork. Cook 4 hours until pork is fork tender, skimming periodically. When ready, using a spider, remove pork and transfer to large oval platter. Remove star anise and ginger and discard.

Reduce sauce by 25% and check for seasoning. Add remaining cranberries and heat for 5 minutes with steamer on top of stockpot to heat the white Chinese steam bread. Ladle sauce on pork, serve with steamed bread. To eat, slice pork and stuff inside steamed bread with a spoonful of the red roast sauce.

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Ming Tsai is the host and executive producer of public television series Simply Ming. Each week, Simply Ming brings mouthwatering recipes inspired by the combination of East and West into homes across the country.

Mollie Katzen and a Celebration of Spring, with Recipes

By Cathy Huyghe
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The timing couldn’t have been more perfect: it was just the right day, and just the right weather, with just the right sort of food arranged around the right theme, presented by the right person.

That person was Mollie Katzen (of Moosewood Cookbook and restaurant fame), at a recent lunchtime seminar at Dudley House in Harvard Square, organized by Theresa McCulla and the Food Literacy Project at Harvard University.

Herbs were Katzen’s focus, and guests received recipes showcasing herbs for all the dishes available at the lunch: Mediterranean Yogurt, Persian Eggplant Appetizer, Spring Vegetable Herb Salad, Couscous-Quinoa Tabouli, Creamy White Beans, Chimichurri (either with tofu or salmon), and Crispy Sage Leaves.

Katzen — no surprise to anyone who’s used her cookbooks — is at her best with a wide variety of fresh (but not exotic) ingredients, guiding cooks through easy, yet revelatory, preparations.  In addition to their signature Katzen style, the recipes evoke visions of the Mediterranean — the sights, sounds, and tastes travelers will experience on WGBH’s Mediterranean Voyage of Discovery.

For the Mediterranean Yogurt recipe, for example, she uses many ingredients you’d expect such as cilantro, mint, and lemon juice. But then she throws a curveball you never saw coming: dried apricots, giving the recipe all manner of “special something” to it. Whether that came from the apricots, or the mix of herbs, or the raisins, or the walnuts, or the combination of all of those is deliciously hard to tell.

Here’s the recipe. Give it a whirl, and see for yourself.

Mediterranean Yogurt

Reproduced from the handout at Katzen’s lunchtime seminar, “Fun & Creative Uses of Fresh Herbs,” sponsored by Harvard University Dining Services and the Food Literacy Project.

1 medium clove garlic

1/3 cup parsley

1/3 cup cilantro

1/3 cup fresh dill

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

3 or 4 dried apricots (a soft, tart variety)

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation: Place garlic, all herbs, dried fruit, and walnuts in a food processor, and pulse until it forms a paste. Transfer to a bowl and stir in lemon juice and yogurt. Add salt and cayenne to taste. Cover tightly and refrigerate until serving. Just before serving, you can sprinkle a little extra cayenne on top and decorate with small sprigs of parsley and a few walnut halves, for a finished look.

Optional garnishes: a light dusting of cayenne, small sprigs of parsley, and/or walnut halves.

This sauce can be served alone, as an appetizer, or as a light lunch entrée — and it is amazingly compatible with a number of foods. You can serve it as a dip for raw or steamed vegetables, in pita bread with anything and everything, as a sauce for vegetables or grains…the list is endless. Mediterranean Yogurt keeps for about a week in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Dish of the Week at Trident Cafe

By Cathy Huyghe
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These days, in this weather, very few things taste bad.

Partly it’s because we’re editing what we eat, choosing things that are lighter, more refreshing, spring-i-er. It’s fish tacos over Roquefort burgers. Iced tea rather than hot chocolate. Leafy vegetables before root ones. Whatever most jives with our surroundings of sunny, warm days and light-jacket weather.

Partly it’s because we’re shedding the Boston-winter survival tactic of tucking in and tucking under. Off with the layers of clothing. Off, too, with multi-course dinners and mucho-complex taste combinations.

These days we’re liking our food fresh, uncomplicated, and maybe just a little bit sweet.

Perhaps that why ours was just one of at least three tables yesterday within 25 minutes to sit down and ask our servers immediately for the dessert menu. This was at Trident Booksellers & Cafe on Newbury Street at about five o’clock in the afternoon.

The fresh fruit cobbler with vanilla ice cream seemed to be the most popular choice, and it appeared over and over again, at our table and several others. The cobbler had just been pulled from a reheat in the oven, the pastry crust crackly and sprinkled with sugar and the fruit inside steamy and warm. I poured spoonfuls of sauce from inside the cobbler onto the ice cream, wilting it and bringing both components to a happy medium temperature.

The ice cream was cool, like the mornings and the evenings these days. And the cobbler was warm, like our sunny days. That combo makes this our Dish of the Week.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

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