Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Blackcurrant Recipe Ideas - Dealing with a Glut

Chocolate and blackcurrant torte
Coping with a summer glut? I hear people complaining that they have loads of fruit or vegetables and don't know how they will use them. When you look up ideas for fruit recipes, most involve baking. I saw on Twitter the other day that a bakery in Dublin, Firehouse will barter baked goods for fruit. I thought this was a great idea. However if you have a freezer it's a bit easier to deal with.

This year has been a brilliant year for fruit. So much so that I have to look for another freezer. Most berries will freeze really well and can be picked straight off the bush into bags. I never bother to wash fruit unless the branches have been trailing on the ground. When berries are frozen they are much easier to top and tail as often a good rub will get the bits off.

I used give away my blackcurrants but not any more. I discovered that they are absolutely amazing cooked in porridge. In the middle of winter a handful into the pot gives a lovely acidic kick. They are also full of vitamin C and have 6 times the antioxidants of blueberries. When I gave them away and then ran out at some point after Christmas I was reduced to buying blueberries. They are so bland in comparison.

You can also cook them down to make puree. This can then be frozen in small quantities for using as a natural food colouring. I don't add any sugar so you do need to freeze it. All it takes is a good heavy bottomed pan and a bit of patience until the berries cook down. Then push it through a sieve.


I add either fresh or frozen berries to the porridge as it's cooking. For the picture above I also added some of the puree to give the colour. Serve with some honey and either milk or yoghurt.

To make this blackcurrant cake. I used 200g butter, sugar and flour and 3 large eggs (or 4 supermarket size large). My hen/duck eggs would fall into an XL category. Add 2 tablespoons of blackcurrant puree. If you want a stronger colour you will need to reduce the amount of egg and increase the flour or the mix will be too wet. Bake at 170C fan for about 30 minutes

To make the buttercream use a tablespoon of puree and add a big knob of softened butter and icing sugar and milk until you get the right consistency. It's much easier to start with the wet ingredients and add dry rather than vice versa.

The frozen puree can also be used to make ice cream, sweetened to serve as a coulis or as an addition to a sauce for game later in the year.

Frozen blackcurrants can also be used to make creme de cassis or cordial when there is a dearth of fresh fruit that is not imported from the other side of the globe.

For the chocolate and blackcurrant torte recipe pictured above.

175g butter
175g sugar
3 large eggs
75g good quality cocoa powder or 150g dark chocolate (I used cocoa powder for cake above)
100g ground almonds
50g self raising flour
blackcurrants (a good handfull)

Melt butter and chocolate or cocoa powder. Separate eggs. Beat yolks and sugar. Whisk whites. Combine all folding in the egg white last. Stir in the ground almonds, fold in sieved flour and add blackcurrants. Bake in a spring form tin at 160C fan for 40 mins.

So don't waste any glut. And if you can't be bothered with all of the above at least take up Firehouse Bakery's offer and trade your glut for cakes or bread.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

This is Cavan 2015

Aine's Chocolates 

The Taste of Cavan 2015 is over for another year after a mammoth event which saw the Cavan Equestrian Centre probably more packed to the rafters than it ever has been before. The main arena more used to horses and riders competing, had a myriad of food and beverage stands set up in rows and between the rows the crowds milled - tasting, talking, buying and marvelling at the crowds which grew bigger every hour.

Outside the cars queued to get in and an army of volunteers directed them quickly and efficiently to parking.

4pm on the last day
Last year's attendance numbered over 35,000. I think the first day this year came close to surpassing that.

Most of the exhibitors came from Cavan and the surrounding counties. A whole aisle given over to new micro breweries with tables and chairs at the end where you could sit and sample their wares and watch the world go by.

Local Virginia micro brew

Brehon from Carrickmacross

Cockagee from Meath 
Piedmontese beef burger and a Celtic Warrier beer 
The tables and chairs were a stroke of genius as you could buy from the stalls selling food and wash it down with a craft beer or a cider. Others just took the weight off their feet with a coffee or an ice cream.

Really good organic coffee

At various stages during the day there were cookery demonstrations from well-known local and not so local chefs. These took place in a large area with seating at the back of the venue. Sound and lighting were superb and even standing at the back you could see and hear clearly. Shane Smith from Fallon and Byrne made some stunning looking cakes. Gearoid Lynch gave a coeliac friendly demo and Anjula Devi who came from London made some fabulous Indian food. And of course no Cavan food festival would be complete without the man himself, Neven Maguire.

Rachel Allen from Ballymaloe
Neven Maguire

Sampling the food from Anjula Devi's demo

Gearoid Lynch from The Olde Post Inn 

Glorious cakes from Shane Smith's demo

A walk around the food stands where most were giving taste samples and selling their wares. What struck me was so many doing the same thing. Any amount of the ubiquitous cup cake (when will we tire of these?) Some looked great, some were just horrendous. In fact I stood beside one stand which had the worst excess of sugar, artificial flavouring and colouring and listened to all the comments. The vast majority were positive........

Red velvet cakes pretty and simple
There were jams, chutneys and sauces. There were puddings, relishes, handmade chocolates, meats, ice cream, mushrooms, poultry, honey, fudge and marshmallow. I particularly liked Moran's jam packaging. So many great products were badly let down by bad packaging and just as clothes make the man, they certainly help to make a sale.

Wildwood Vinegars have the packaging lark sewn up. I would buy them just for the bottles alone. It helps that they make the most amazing vinegars from wild berries and flowers grown around them in Co. Mayo. We bought some and left them with him for safe keeping. When we returned the stand had been cleaned out. The proof is in the pudding.

Wildwood Vinegars

Lovely packaging from Delish Melish

And I think this final photo sums up what were a brilliant couple of days.

The official photographer and some curious small girls
I have to hand it to Cavan. A great festival of food organised by people who are passionate about what they do and work tirelessly to achieve it. Onwards and upwards.