The Rock Cookbook

For Food’s Sake – The First Course

Posted on: 8 April 2011 No comments

As a nation, we have never had any difficulties getting together and talking shite. Especially when there’s gargoyle in the mix.  That is why when a group of us decided to kick start a food discussion and tasting night, we knew we’d never be short of finding plenty of Kent Brockmans out there  wanting to give us their “Two Cents.” And with so many areas of Irish food either flourishing or in financial turmoil, we also knew that finding topics to debate in an open forum would not be hard.
We called the night For Food’s Sake and it will be a bi monthly event in The Sugar Club. The first one took place last Thursday and we were dead chuffed with how it went. The theme of discussion was “The Great Green Hope – where lies the future for Irish food production?”. On the panel were Graham Roberts from the Connemara Smokehouse, Pat Smith, General Secretary, Irish Farmers’ Association, Suzanne Campbell, journalist, blogger and co-author of Basket Case: What’s Happening to Ireland’s Food and Una Fitzgibbon, Director of Marketing Services, Bord Bia.  It was all being chaired by one of the event’s co-founders, Aoife Carrigy.
As we had suspected, nobody either on the stage or in the audience held back. The two hour discussion could have easily had another 60 minutes added on to it as there were many issues raised, such as: the harsh grip large chains have on farmers, GMO food production in Ireland and the recent growth of artisan producers.
Irish smokehouse Ireland
Aoife Carrigy (center) and the panelists from left to right: Una
Fitzgibbon, Pat Smith, Suzanne Campbell and Graham Roberts

But it wasn’t all yakkin’! We got down to some serious eating too.  Some outstanding food producers popped down to share their creations with us and chat about their work.  There was the aforementioned Graham Roberts from Connemara Smokehouse who dished out his smoked salmon and the nicest smoked fish I ever had, his line caught Irish tuna ( I challenge any of you lot to find me a nicer smoked creature of the sea).  Mary Kelly from Moonshine Dairy Farm was here cutting up tasty bite size chunks from  her cheese range and recited a poem written by one of her cattle. As you do.
Due to his early hour starts as a baker, Rossa Crowe of Le Levain couldn’t make it but he did leave us with some beautiful sour dough breads. And last, but by no means least, the ever charming Janet Drew of Janet’s Country Fayre was on hand providing all the hungry punters with loads of samples from her amazing range of sauces, relishes and chutneys. Her Beetroot Blush recently picked up a gong at The Irish Food Writer’s Guild Awards. There follows a recipe below written by Derry Clarke that heavily features it.
For Food’s Sake is on again on May 26th @ 7.30pm. We are still undecided as to what subject matter we should take on for discussion. Hit us up if you have any suggestions. We have a blog and a facebook group you can join. Be sure to come down to the next one!
Serves 4
15g (1/2oz) sea salt
15g (1/2oz) caster sugar
5 white peppercorns, finely crushed
15g (1/2oz) fresh dill, leaves striped off stems
1 tsp whiskey
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 x 150g (5oz) organic salmon fillets, trimmed
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
300ml (1/2 pint) olive oil
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
50g (2oz) rock salt
450g (1lb) baby beetroots, well trimmed
2 fresh thyme sprigs
25g (1oz) butter
1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
6 tbsp Janet’s Country Fayre beetroot blush, to serve
microcress, to garnish
Mix the salt, sugar, peppercorns and dill together. In a separate bowl, mix the whiskey and mustard together. Smear the salmon fillets with the mustard paste. Spoon the salt mixture over it, using the mustard paste to help it stick.
Lay one fillet on top of the other to form a sandwich. Wrap in clingfilm, place a weight on top and chill for 2-3 days. Put on a tray as the salmon will exude a salty, sugary syrup.
To make the citrus mayonnaise, combine the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and seasoning in a food processor. Blend for 1 minute before slowly drizzling in the olive oil. Continue to add the oil slowly until the sauce reaches a thick mayonnaise consistency.
Fold in the lemon rind and juice and transfer to a plastic squeezy bottle. This will keep happily in the fridge for 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas mark 4. Lay a large sheet of foil on a baking sheet and spread the rock salt in the centre. Nestle the beetroot in the rock salt and scatter with the thyme. Scrunch the foil and bring the edges together to enclose the beetroot and seal. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the baby beets are tender. Remove, uncover and leave to cool slightly. Wearing a pair of thin rubber gloves (to avoid staining your hands), peel the beetroot while they are warm, using a thin-bladed knife.
Heat the butter in a sauté pan. When it starts to foam, toss in the beetroot and cook, turning frequently, for a couple of minutes until coated in butter and glossy. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze and bubble until reduced and syrupy. Leave to cool to room temperature.
When you are ready to serve the salmon unwrap and rinse it gently under cold water. Pat day with kitchen paper and using a long, straight-edged knife, slice off 8 horizontal slices. Trim down to neat rectangular shapes and use two to line each serving plate. Trim down the remaining salmon into 5cm (2in) x 2.5cm (1in) fillets – any leftovers would make an excellent salmon tartare.
Decorate each serving plate with the citrus mayonnaise and gently put a roast baby beetroot on top; the remainder can be served in a separate serving dish. Spoon the beetroot blush into individual small bowls and place to the side. Garnish with the microcress and scatter around a few salt flakes to serve.