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Posts tagged ‘Cooleeney’

Comfrey Cottage Chervil & Chive Vichyssoise

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I love Tipperary. Especially in the summer.

Despite the drought we’ve been experiencing these past weeks, things are still fairly green. Each day, the sky is an array of gorgeously arranged clouds. My kids run around the yard (well, two out of three of them run… the baby bum-shuffles), playing in their playhouse and making mud pies, Pat is busy fixing things around the farm and helping his dad milk the cows.

And me? I’m on “holiday” from The School of Food. Which actually means I’m run off my feet chasing after children, hosting playdates, writing articles (like this recent one for Irish Country Living on the Keenan Brothers, who grow heritage grain), selling cakes and sausage rolls at the Thurles Farmer’s Market and doing pop-up restaurant nights with Lucy at The Green Sheep.

So I’m still working, I guess. Just not teaching! I will be taking a proper holiday next week and the week after – we will be going “glamping” in County Clare with the kids. We are so excited; can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Lucy and I also recently signed up for Traveling Spoon. If you don’t know what that is, it’s  sort of like airbnb… but for food! Visitors can peruse the website depending on which country they’re visiting and choose from a selection of unique dining experiences. Some experiences are in people’s homes, while others – like ours – are in private dining establishments. When we get a reservation, Lucy and I close up the cafe and prepare the long, wooden communal dining tables for our guests.

We offer three types of experiences: a cooking lesson, dinner and local beer pairings, just dinner, or just dinner with beer pairings. We only take one group of visitors at a time, making it an intimate, unique travel experience.

The menu changes with whatever is in season and tasting good at the time, but last week, when we fed a group of Americans (visiting via Irish Fireside bespoke tours – a fantastic travel experience in itself!) the menu was this:

Comfrey Cottage Chervil & Chive Vichyssoise

Crawford’s Farm Pulled Chicken Empanada

John Lacey’s slow-roast Lamb Shoulder with Buttered Turnip, Crispy Kale and Gastrique

Ripe Cooleeney Cheese with Cherry Consomme, Walnuts and Lavash

Sweet Ricotta Dumplings with The Apple Farm Strawberries and Raw Lavender Cream

The menu featured all local (like within 50km of Thurles) ingredients and the group we had were all so wonderful and fun. They enjoyed their food (and beer pairings from White Gypsy Brewery) and even serenaded us in between courses.

I thought I would share the recipe for our first course because it’s so low-maintenance to make – it actually intensifies in flavour as it sits in the fridge. A classic French Vichyssoise is a chilled, creamy, mild leek and potato soup. It’s lovely.

At this time of year, in Tipperary, my friend Sarah at Comfrey Cottage has an abundance of bright, flavoursome chervil. I love its mellow, refreshing flavour – with a squeeze of lemon and a handful of chives, it literally transforms a classic into something entirely new and exciting.

This will keep in the fridge for up to four days. Do not add the fresh chervil until the soup has chilled – otherwise the lovely green colour will turn grey and the flavour will be less vibrant.

*If you can’t get fresh chervil, you can substitute with: 1 bunch flatleaf parsley, 1 bunch fresh dill, 1 bunch fresh chives, 1/4 bunch fresh mint

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Comfrey Cottage Chervil & Chive Vichyssoise

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp rapeseed (or olive) oil

1 Tbsp butter

3 leeks, pale green and white bits only, finely sliced

1 large onion, finely diced

3 stalks celery, finely diced

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (keep submerged in cold water until ready to cook)

4-6 cups/1L hot chicken or vegetable stock (depending on how thick you like your soup)

1 cup/250ml heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

Juice of one lemon

1 large bunch fresh chervil (around 200g)

1/2 bunch fresh chives

Directions:

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp rapeseed oil and 1 Tbsp butter over medium-high.
  • Gently cook the leek, celery and onion together until pale and translucent – you don’t want them to brown, just soften and cook through.
  • Add the potatoes and gently cook, stirring regularly, for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Add 4 cups of hot stock (reserve the extra for after, in case you want to thin out the soup) and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Simmer the soup for 20-30 minutes, until the potato is completely cooked through.
  • Add the cream, stir, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 to 1.5 hours.
  • Once the soup has cooled, transfer for the fridge and chill completely for 1-2 hours.
  • Add the chervil and chives – allow to steep into the soup overnight or for at least 3 hours. Continue to chill in the fridge.
  • In small batched, blend the cold soup completely in a vitamix or good quality blender. A hand blender would probably work, but I haven’t tried.
  • Once completely blended, season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.
  • Continue to chill until ready to serve, Garnish with chive flowers, nasturtium, a drizzle or oil and microgreens.
  • Serves 8-10 people (starter size, approx. 200ml per person).
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Green Sheep Charity Tapas Pop-Up

On November 25th, The Siùcra Shack (my small business), Hedgehog Bakery and The Green Sheep got together for a pop-up tapas night in Thurles. Ìt came about because my friend Lucy, who owns The Green Sheep, was involved in a fundraiser for the Mill Road Riding Club. Members of the riding club were hosting “Come Dine with Me” style nights in efforts to raise money to purchase a special needs saddle for the club.

Lucy thought she would take it one step further and host a pop-up restaurant night with live music, tapas-style eats (meaning food you can eat while standing up!) and a few drinks.

Since I run my business out of Lucy’s cafe, it was natural for me to get involved. We invited our friend Mags to join the fun – she is a boulangiere extraordinare and, if you were at Savour Kilkenny this past October you may have seen her demo on the live stage. A lady of many talents.

Together, we developed a menu for the night: local cheeses (Knockdrinna, Cashel Blue, Derg Cheddar, Cooleeney) and charcuterie (from Irish Piedmontese Beef and The Wooded Pig) with our own pickles, Mags’ bread and chutney from Ayle Farm were the first course. For a starter, I made fresh haddock and cod fritters with warm lardons and preserved lemon salad with buttermilk herb dressing. Then, for the main course I made bulgur wheat salad, tahini-infused remoulade and slow cooked harissa lamb shoulder. We finished the evening with my chubby churros (they were extra eggy; therefore, extra chubby!) and hot fudge sauce.

We sold tickets for €30 per person or €50 per couple. A full house ensued, and we had such a fabulous night. Not without a few hiccups, but it being our first pop-up we were expecting the unexpected. Food producers around the community donated food for the night and everyone says they had a wonderful time.

Now that I’m headed off to Canada from Christmas, I will be sourcing some very special ingredients for our next pop-up. I’m not giving anything away, but I hope everyone who attends likes pork. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

For now, enjoy this mix of photos and video clips I put together from the night. Most of said photos and videos are from the lovely Sinead of Delalicious – I don’t think we would have had nearly as good as night if she hadn’t shown up! What a great human being she is.

‘Til next time, friends.

 

Visiting Thurles: The Green Sheep Cafe

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*Disclaimer: This is the first part of a series I will be writing about different places I love in North Tipperary. I was not asked to write any of these articles and have not received any incentives to do so. This particular post, however, concerns a business I am actively involved in.

First let’s get some serious business out of the way:

Cooking With Craic has been shortlisted for a Littlewoods Ireland Blog Award under the Best Food Experience (Food Review) category! To become a finalist, I need to get as many public votes as possible aside from being judged by my blogging peers. If you enjoy reading this blog I would so appreciate you clicking on the button below and giving me an ol’ vote (you may be required to sign in with your Facebook account to prove you’re not a robot!).

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There. I dislike asking for votes, but I love all the wonderful support from the readers of this blog. Thanks for that!

So back to The Green Sheep. Where do I even begin?

If you’ve ever lived in a foreign country you might have had a brilliant or not-so-brilliant experience. In my opinion, whether or not you have a brilliant experience is dependent on a few things:

  1. Making friends. Real ones. You know, the kind you can complain to and laugh hysterically with.
  2. Having purpose. A job you love, a serious hobby, a volunteer gig – any of these things make you feel like you belong to the community.
  3. Having a place to hang out. The times when you have nothing to do and don’t feel like being alone in your house, you need a place to go. A place where you feel comfortable.
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Mrs C. and me, Christmas 2007, Now Bar

I had these three things when I lived in Korea – a great job, a group of amazing friends (not to mention the Irishman I would someday marry) and Now Bar – the foreigner bar where we’d all congregate in the evenings and on weekends. The bar’s owner – a fun-loving woman we called Mrs. C – was like our Korean mom.

I have these three things in Ireland, too, which is great since I don’t plan on living anywhere else for the rest of my life. Funnily enough, all three of things things include The Green Sheep.

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I initially met The Green Sheep’s owner, Lucy Lambe, via Twitter. She kept telling me to visit her in her new cafe, so, eventually, I did. I loved the vibe and the coffee (she uses single origin Baobab coffee – these guys know how to roast beans). I loved Lucy, too. She is absolutely stark raving mad (in the best way). I quickly came to realize how passionate she and her husband, Patrick, are about supporting our local food producers and how much they enjoy showcasing all the great food products made in our area.

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So the cafe quickly became my hang-out. I would buy a coffee and watch the people walking down Friar Street. I soon came to know the other regulars and became good friends with Lucy and her family. Lucy would help me find local products to feature in my weekly Tipperary Star food column and I would bake and bring things in for her and her customers to sample. Her kids became my go-to babysitters.

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The food served here is whimsical, fresh and as a la minute as you can get (sometimes you don’t even know what you’re going to get – but it’s always good). In the winter you can get warming soups and stews; during the summer the salads are full of edible flowers and herbs from Comfrey Cottage.

They sell cakes, donuts (more on that later!), specialty meats and cheeses (think Toonsbridge, raw Derg Cheddar, Gubbeen and Cooleeney), local Thurles Tarts and jams, chutneys, juices and sauces – all made locally.

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They make fresh sandwiches and salads. Lucy’s Wild Irish Shrub Vinaigrette is becoming famous. But most of all, they serve up a vibrant atmosphere, full of good conversation and fun. Customers here quickly become friends. Its proximity to the Thurles train station has brought many a stranded visitor en route to elsewhere. They come in to wait for the next train and leave laughing and waving – instant friends. I’ve witnessed this on more than one occasion.

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The Green Sheep is open Monday-Saturday from 8-6. They sometimes open on Sundays if there’s a match at Semple Stadium. The next time you’re in Thurles, stop in for a coffee and lunch – you will leave happy!

Cherry Tomato & Daru Galette

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Spring is here. It’s official.

As I type this, I assure you I’m aware that back home in Eastern Canada people are still buried under ten feet of snow. I know you’re having a rough winter. I’m really sorry.

But spring is here in Tipperary!

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There are puddles to jump into, new calves every day and my garden is once again starting to grow. I feel like it wasn’t that long ago that everything died. The winters here are very short compared to the ones I’m used to – yet another reason I’m glad I moved to Ireland.

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The farm is busy at this time of year; mostly due to calving. Slurry needs to be spread over the fields, the cows still need to be fed silage until the grass starts growing, the calves need to be marked and separated (and fed) and the cows who have given birth once again need to be milked twice a day.

It’s not easy. Just today we lost a mother and one of her twins, and Maeve shared an apt new word: “sad”. We’re not 100% sure what happened, but we do know that it was sudden and there was nothing we could do. We take a little bit of solace in that knowledge, but it’s been a sad day anyway.

But even with those two losses, we’re surrounded by brand-spanking-new life every day, and that’s a wonderful thing. Maeve loves visiting the “baby moos” and watches them in earnest on our calf-cam (we’ve got a 24 hour feed in the birthing shed). She’s a little farmer already.

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It’s still cold most days, but when the sun is shining it feels warm. It makes me want to eat fresh veggies, leafy greens and tangy cheeses.

Like this galette!

Sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh thyme from the garden and local Cooleeney Daru cheese. Daru is semi-hard, buttery and perfect for tarts. It’s made from their own cows’ milk. It’s distinctly Tipperary in flavour. And it’s made just down the road from me! I had a whole slew of Cooleeney cheese to work my way through recently and thought the Daru would be perfect with tomatoes.

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Some other favourite Cooleeney cheeses? Their Gleann Oir (goat’s milk, semi-hard), Cooleeney Farmhouse (creamy, edible rind) and Gortnamona (goat’s milk, soft & creamy). It’s hard to pick just one.

This galette is so easy to throw together at the last minute (particularly if you have some pie dough in the fridge or freezer). Make sure you season the tomatoes as the salt content in the cheese will not be enough.

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Cherry Tomato & Daru Galette

Ingredients:

One recipe pie dough, chilled

1 pint cherry or vine tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small wheel Cooleeney Daru cheese (if you can’t get Cooleeney cheese I think taleggio would also work well here)

A handful of fresh thyme, picked & roughly chopped

Flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

A drizzle of olive oil

One egg, beaten

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • In a bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, chopped thyme, sea salt and pepper. Toss to coat the tomatoes and set aside.
  • Remove the rind from the Daru and crumble the cheese. Set aside.
  • Roll out your pie dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. If you want a clean looking galette you can trim the edges with a pizza cutter to make a neat circle; for a more rustic look don’t bother.
  • Place the rolled dough onto the baking sheet and arrange the seasoned tomatoes in the center. Top with the crumbled Daru cheese.
  • Fold the sides over the filling, leaving the center part exposed.
  • Brush the exposed dough with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes (check at 30 minutes to be safe). The crust should be flaky and golden brown; the cheese should be bubbly and the tomatoes cooked through. Sprinkle more flaky sea salt and fresh thyme over top; drizzle a bit more olive oil.
  • Serve hot or warm with a simple salad.

Moyne, Co. Tipperary

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Moyne is a small village (and larger outlying community) in North Tipperary. I was there this past weekend to check out Cooleeney Farm and try some of the amazing artisanal soft-rind cheeses they make.

Cheese, glorious cheese.

Cheese, glorious cheese.

Most locals might think Moyne isn’t anything special, but I love the village – the centuries-old graveyard, the cozy pubs, the massive stone church. I like how everything in the community runs on its own time and how, in this tiny village, there is a thriving arts scene with a fabulous theatre troupe.

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Cooleeney makes it a great place, too. The folk there have been making cheese since the late ’80’s and use milk from their own cows to make it (they also get goat’s milk from down the way and make some really spectacular goat cheeses). While I was there I got to peek at some of the cheeses they’re currently working on and – wow. There’s going to be some great stuff released in the next few months.

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At Cooleeney Farm

At Cooleeney Farm

I don’t know if you know this about me (ha), but I love Tipperary. I love being close to our family and living on our farm, and I love that our grass is so green and our cheese, butter, cream and meat taste so damn good as a result. I love that you can get cheese and craft beer just down the road and that those who make these things are so friendly. Great neighbours to have.

Just so you know, you probably shouldn't go 80 km/h on this road. The sign is more like a dare.

Just so you know, you probably shouldn’t go 80 km/h on this road. The sign is more like a dare.

I also love that places like Moyne exist. If you’re travelling through Ireland you will find a lot of areas catered to tourists, but Moyne is the real deal – the real Ireland.

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