Menu 6: From Dublin to Dubai Photo: The Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare, Ireland
Fresh Oysters on the Shell (Galway, Ireland) - oysters on crushed ice with simple lemon, tabasco and mignonette Vegetable curry puffs with relishes (Dubai) – piquant vegetable filling in puff pastry cases (vegan) Guinness and Chocolate Cake (Dublin, Ireland) – deep dark chocolate & Guinness sponge, topped with foamy bitter chocolate and Guinness icing Drink suggestion: A choice of Guinness or light lager
Starters - Fresh Oysters on the Shell with a trio of dressings
Ramble the misty shores of Ireland, seafood abundant and fresh. Oysters dream of the sea, their salty silky slipperiness accented by lightly pickled shallots or punchy tabasco.
Yes I know. Not everyone likes them or can be persuaded to try them. But think, what a memorable garden party it’s going to be! Check with your guests first (they’re quite expensive at £1-£2 per oyster) and throw a packet of crisps at the ones who just won’t try delicious, sustainable, chic, British seafood. There are people who are allergic as well, and we can’t blame them for that. Crisps for them too.
You’re lucky if you live near a fishmonger who sells them on ice, maybe tell them of your plans and order in advance. You can also get them online, fresh from Cornwall or Essex. Native oysters and farmed ones spawn at different times, so you can get them most of the year.
Preparation: 30 minutes
18 fresh live oysters – discard any that have shells open, they should be tightly shut
A bag of crushed ice, if your fishmonger doesn’t supply you with some
2 shallots, sliced very finely and lightly pickled in red wine vinegar with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar for 20 minutes (this is a “mignonette”)
Slice the shallots and start them pickling. Get some wide flat bowls ready.
Open the oysters. You need a firm flat blade, like the widest flat screwdriver you can find, or a short heavy bladed knife. Wrap one hand in a teatowel and hold the oyster – this gives you a better grip and protects your hand from inadvertent stabs. With your knife hand, gently get the tip under the top shell of the oyster near the hinge – you can generally see where the top shell sits inside the lower shell, and twist slightly, moving the knife from side to side and then round the whole shell. You will need to cut the attachment on the top shell. Leave the oyster in its juices on ice and move on to the next. You will get quicker as you go along. Once you’ve taken the top shells off all of them, go back and loosen the oysters from their bottom shells.
Serve: Arrange three oysters per plate on ice. Add a slice of lemon to the side of the plate, a spoonful of shallots in vinegar to one oyster, a shake of Tabasco to another, and serve.
Main Course - Curried Vegetable Puffs with yoghurt and mint relish (vegetarian, vegan option)
Shopping in Dubai, walking through the malls, then out into the gasping heat. The scents of spices waft from the souk. Grab a pastry parcel, mustard seeds pop in your teeth as you sink into the soft vegetable filling, slurp a topping of cooling cucumber and mint relish.
Makes 12 parcels
Preparation: From scratch, 2 hours. But most of that time is pre cooking the vegetables for the filling, which can be done ahead of time and when doing other things. Final assembly and cooking: 30 minutes for the filling, 30 minutes in the oven.
100g cooked roasted squash, in little cubes. Peel and slice a butternut squash, massage with vegetable oil and roast in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes – do this when you have the oven on for something else. It keeps 2 days in the fridge covered.
150g boiled and peeled potatoes, cut into ½ cm dice. Cook the potatoes ahead of time, when you have a pan of potatoes on for another meal. Cool and keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
½ teaspoon powdered turmeric, ½ teaspoon chilli powder, ½ teaspoon medium curry powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala
Small bunch fresh coriander
Squeeze of lemon juice and a shake of Henderson’s Relish
2 x packs 320g ready rolled puff pastry
1 x beaten egg or 1 tablespoon soy milk for sealing and topping the pastry
Salsas to serve or a jar of mango chutney.
Make the filling: fry the onion and chilli gently in vegetable oil until softened and translucent. Add the seeds, and stir as they cook and pop. Add the powdered spices and stir in, adding 100ml water. Add the squash and potato cubes and stir to coat in the curry flavoured sauce. Add the handfuls of frozen peas. Turn off the heat and let the residual heat in the pan cook the peas. Taste the filling – it should have quite a decent punch so add more curry powder if needed. Squeeze in the lemon juice and shake in the Henderson’s Relish. Stir, and taste again, add salt as needed. Leave the mixture to cool completely. Add a small handful of chopped fresh coriander.
Pre heat your oven to 210°C. Unroll the puff pastry sheets, keep them on the backing paper. Cut each sheet into 6 squares. Brush two edges of the square with egg/soy milk, place a dessert spoon of the filling in the middle of the square and fold the pastry square into a triangle, pressing the edges with a fork to seal. I then turn up the corners of the parcel to make a neater edge. Brush the top with egg/soy milk to brown it and place each parcel on a metal baking sheet as you finish.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.
Make whatever fresh relishes, chutneys or salsas you fancy while the puffs are cooking.
Blend fresh coriander, parsley, ½ cucumber, salt and lemon juice to make a green fresh chutney
Grate ½ fresh cucumber, squeeze out the liquid and add to 200ml of fresh thick plain yoghurt. Add a handful of chopped mint leaves, some salt, stir and chill
Chop 2 large tomatoes finely with ½ chopped red onion and ½ green chilli. Add salt, stir, and chill.
Serve: warm but not too hot, so you can eat with your hands and splodged with the fresh salsas, or with mango chutney.
Dessert - Guinness & Chocolate Cake
Sweet rich sponge, black with iconic stout and plentiful chocolate, a whipped icing foams like the head on a pint. Lick your lips and dive in.
Makes 16 squares
Preparation: 10 minutes preparation for the cake, 1 hour cooking, 1 hour cooling. Icing – about 20 minutes.
250ml Guinness (half a can, you use the other half in the icing)
250g salted butter
100g cocoa powder (yes, it is a LOT)
2 medium eggs
300g plain flour
300g caster sugar
150ml plain yoghurt
1 sachet vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
For the icing: 250ml Guinness, 150g soft butter, 200g icing sugar, 1 tablespoon coffee essence, 100ml double cream, 100g dark chocolate, chopped small.
Pre heat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 22cm square cake tin. In a medium pan, melt the butter with the Guinness. Warm just enough to melt and take off the heat. Add the sugar and the cocoa powder and beat with a small whisk to blend all the powdery bits into the liquid. Mix the eggs and the yoghurt together, beating with a fork, and add to the butter/Guinness mix. If using vanilla essence, add this to the pan also. Sieve the flour and bicarb into a larger bowl and add the liquid ingredients, beating them in slowly but thoroughly. Pour this batter into your cake tin and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on wire rack. When you remove the cake from the tin, be careful, it is more tender than some other sponges and might crack – so put a rack over the tin as you invert it. Cool the cake completely before icing it.
To make the icing: Reduce the Guinness by about half by boiling in a small pan, leave to cool slightly. Beat the butter with the icing sugar and the coffee essence until fluffy and add the double cream, it will give you a coffee-coloured buttercream. Now put the chocolate into the warm Guinness and stir thoroughly to melt the chocolate completely – you will need to stir and let the mixture cool. Pour the chocolate mixture into the buttercream icing with the mixer motor running slowly to whisk the chocolate and buttercream together. You will get a light fluffy buttery mousse texture. Spread the mousse icing generously over the top of the cake and leave in a cool place to set – preferably in the fridge. The mousse will soften once you get the cake out of the fridge so keep it in there until nearly time to use it.
Serve: In squares, topped with some chocolate sprinkles