THIS WEEK’S RECIPE – MEATBALLS

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Ingredients

60g/2oz fine dry breadcrumbs

125ml/4fl.oz light cream

125ml/4fl.oz water

200g/7oz finely minced lean beef

200g/7oz finely minced lean pork

1½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground allspice

1 small to medium onion peeled and very finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

75g/3oz butter

A few grindings of black pepper

Method

1 In a bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, cream and water. Set aside.

2 In a large bowl, mix together the beef, pork, salt, allspice, pepper and onion

3 Add the breadcrumbs and mix well and then the egg

4 Shape into balls: around 12 large ones or between 25 and 30 small ones

5 Heat the butter in a heavy non-stick frying pan and when the foam subsides cook the meatballs a batch at a time

6 Turn regularly to make sure the meatballs are brown all round – for around 12 to 15 minutes for large meatballs and 8 to 10 minutes for smaller ones

IN AN IRISH STEW

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In the “old days” (say fifty years and before) farmers used to keep a proportion of the flocks of their sheep for several years. They would produce several lambs in this time. After which they would be killed and eaten as “Mutton” (any animal of more than one year qualifies for this definition). This was tasty, but tough and often with a good leavening of fat. Hence “slow cooking”, either by boiling (as in Ireland and the UK) or slow pot-roasting (as in Kleftiko) was customary, to tenderize and break down some of the fibres of the meat. Those with lesser incomes opted for the cheaper, tougher parts and slow-cooked.

In earlier times, Ireland was poverty-stricken and ridden with starvation – hence the emigration of a large number of its people to the United States and other countries. Ordinary people often had very little and sometimes no meat in their diets. What there was was often tough and fatty and, chopped up in small quantities, used to “extend” the quantity of stews or casseroles. One recipe became the generic “Irish Stew” and known around the world, wherever the Irish went.

The lines below are a parody from the British humorous magazine, Punch (circa 1860) which would have been sung to the tune of a very popular Victorian song, or “air”, called "Happy Land”. They are also the virtually complete recipe.

Irish stew, Irish stew!

Whatever else my dinner be,                                                                                                                                                                     Once again, once again,

I’d have a dish of thee.

Mutton chops, and onion slice,

Let the water cover,

With potatoes, fresh and nice;

Boil, but not quite over,

Irish stew, Irish stew!

Ne’er from thee, my taste will stray.

I could eat Such a treat Nearly every day.

 

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Classic Irish stew! Perfect for a winter’s day.

IRISH STEW RECIPE

Ingredients for 4 – 6 servings

800g stewing lamb (ask the butcher to cut off the bone and into pieces, or use cutlets with bones removed)

2tbsp vegetable oil

500g potatoes, more if you like, peeled and cut into chunks

2 medium onions

150g carrots, chopped

2 leeks, sliced Seasonal ingredient

100g pearl barley

750ml lamb stock

¼ of cabbage, sliced

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 C.

2. In a large frying pan heat a tablespoon of the oil over a moderate heat.

3. Add the lamb, and fry until brown, turning it over from time to time.

4. Remove the lamb and place in a lidded casserole pan, cover with the potatoes, onions, leeks, carrots, pearl barley and season.

5. Add the stock and cook in the oven with the lid on for one hour.

6. Add the cabbage and cook for a further hour adding more stock, if required. Serve hot.

7. Some cook books recommended drinking Guinness or other dark beer with it. Me, I’ll take a glass or two of a good young Cyprus red.

IRISH HOT POT

To transform this recipe into an Irish hot-pot, you add a couple of the lamb’s kidneys, and remove the lid for the last half hour of cooking. You bring the potatoes to the top of the stew, and put them back in the hot oven to brown the edges. I like to add a couple of dumplings per person to this stew (put into the pot 45 minutes before serving)

Fennel Braised with Tomatoes

clip_image004         Plainly braised or turned in a little butter our Cyprus fennel is delicious as a side dish to roast meat, or even fried fish. Add another flavour with tomatoes and, with some fresh bread and a glass of wine you have a lovely light lunch.

Ingredients for four servings

2 Fennel bulbs, leaves, tops and choggy bits removed.

2 Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley.

2 Small garlic cloves

Half can (400g size) of tomatoes, drained and chopped (Or two or three fresh, ripe tomatoes, skins removed. I don’t mind the pips, but remove these, too, if you like)

60 ml (half cup) of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Cut each fennel bulb in half, from top to bottom, then slice each half length-wise, 1 cm thick.

2. On your chopping board, combine parsley and garlic

3. Chop finely.

4. Place mixture in a medium-size heavy flame-proof casserole.

5. Add the fennel, tomatoes, and olive oil.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour in 125 ml of water.                                                                                                                        7. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is tender.

GARLIC – LOVE IT, HATE IT, YOU CAN’T IGNORE IT!

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                Plump cloves of garlic from my garden in Vouni village. These had been hanging about in my kitchen for a few months and were, in my opinion, as good as garlic gets. Earlier, we had used other cloves when they were fresh and green, imparting a delicious earthy flavour to soup and dressings. […]

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FRANCE IS GREAT… What, again?

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     Inspired by my recent purchase of a big book of French recipes called “SIMPLISSIME”, I have been (figuratively speaking) wearing my big French Toque on a daily basis. Aspects of France – and the French – may annoy us, but it has to be generally agreed that they are very good at the cooking. […]

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At Last! Cyprus Wine on the Web

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Many years have elapsed before Cyprus wines have become properly represented on the Internet. It doesn’t seem long – a few months, perhaps – since I searched the Web and there was not a definitive source of information about the vines, wines and winemakers of Cyprus. Looking recently I found one. It is called Cyprus […]

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KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE

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Of the meals I remember most clearly, it is simple ones that I think of most fondly. The first “Steak Frites” I had in Paris. Barbouni, just landed from a fishing boat in Lebanon. The kebab “Mixtures” (lamb pieces, shish kebab, minced lamb skewers) prepared by the lady proprietor of Ttokos Kebab house, London. BBQ’d […]

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