This month our food writer is Ross Kelly, a chef at The Locke Bar’s Oyster House in Limerick. “Food has always been a passion of mine and after spending over three months in The Ballymaloe Cookery School training with Darina and Rachael Allen and many other top class chefs, my passion has grown even further and I hope the recipes that I’m serving up will inspire you to try and taste just a little piece of Ballymaloe.”
Starter: Mussel Soup
8-10lbs of scrubbed mussels
3/4 pint light dry white wine
8 tablespoons of chopped shallots
8 parsley sprigs and a sprig of fennel
1 mashed garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1-2 points of boiling milk
salt and pepper for seasoning
Put the wine, shallots, garlic, herbs and curry powder into a saucepan. Add the mussels, cover and steam open in the wine and other ingredients to get that
amazing flavour from the mussels. Shell the mussels and place them in a bowl, discard the shells. Strain the mussel cooking liquor into a saucepan and rapidly boil it down over a high heat to concentrate its flavour. Thicken the mussel liquor with roux to attain a thickish liquid. Add the boiling milk to thin out the soup to a light consistency. Just before serving, add the mussels and a little drizzle of cream and garnish with some finely chopped herbs or some croutons.
Main Course: Poached Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce
Go to your fish shop and ask your fish monger for a fresh centre-cut piece of salmon. Always remember this tip when buying fish – fresh fish should not smell fishy. It should be well coloured and odorless.
To poach a piece of fish bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Turn off and sit the piece of salmon in the water for 20 minutes. While the salmon is poaching, make the Hollandaise sauce.
2 egg yolks,
5 ozs butter diced,
1 dessertspoon cold water,
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Put the egg yolks into a saucepan on a low heat, add the water and whisk thoroughly. Add the butter bit by bit and whisk all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece and so on. Do not stop whisking or leave the pan or it will split. This is hard work but its worth it. At this stage your salmon will be poached. Place on a plate, pour a little of the sauce over the salmon and garnish with a lemon wedge and some fresh herbs. If you wish to accompany this with vegetables or potatoes, I would recommend some glazed carrots and parsnips and some creamy mash potatoes.
Dessert: Panna cotta with summer fruit Coulis.
For Panna Cotta.
1 pint of cream
2 ozs castor sugar
1-2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
2 teaspoons of gelatine or 2 gelatine leaves
3 tablespoons of water.
For summer fruit coulis
450g of fresh strawberries
2 1/2 ozs of castor sugar.
Put the cream into a saucepan with the split vanilla pods and castor sugar. Put on a low heat and bring to the shivery stage. Meanwhile sponge the gelatine in the water and then add to the cream sugar and vanilla pods. Whisk for two minutes and then remove the vanilla pods. Turn off the heat. Pour the liquid into jelly moulds and do not forget to grease the inside of the moulds or else you won’t be able to turn them out. Place in the fridge for at least three hours to set. Then make the summer fruit coulis.
Clean and hull the strawberries and put into a blender with the sugar and blend together for three minutes. Squeeze in a little lemon juice and blend again for another minute. Turn out the panna cotta’s and dress with some strawberries and coulis.
Some Tips and Advice
The most important part of putting any dish together is buying good quality ingredients. We should use our butchers and fish mongers skills more often and don’t be afraid to ask them to trim the meat or fish exactly the way you want it. Look, feel and smell what you’re buying to be sure it’s good quality. Remember you’re paying good money for it so make sure it’s good quality. We need to use our farmers markets a lot more because these markets are amazing, they have top quality fruit, vegetables, fish and breads and these people are not appreciated enough for the amazing products that they produce. Also you are buying fresh ingredients at a lower price and by using them it keeps them funded to keep growing and supplying. We are really lucky in Ireland to have these great artisan food producers and when you use them and taste their products you’ll soon see the difference in your cooking. Happy cooking.