As a former self-confessed foodista, TRISH DESEINE now prefers FABULOUS INGREDIENTS to FASHIONABLE TRENDS …
My name is Trish and I’m a foodista. At lease I used to be, or perhaps I am just kidding myself and I really am still irrevocably addicted to the frantic trendspotting side of food culture. “Foodista”, a mix of food and fashionista, was a term my French ELLE editor used to describe me when my Little Black Dress and Other Recipes was published. It is a cookbook where the recipe chapters follow the structure of our wardrobes – classics, accessories and, of course, the little black dress, or the timeless dish that always makes you look good. For keen cooks, cooking repertoire as fashion wardrobe is a metaphor which still rings true, only now what we cook has become just as revealing of our style and our identity as what we wear.
In France at the start of the noughties, before the grip of the internet took hold, I had a headstart on the future foodie hordes. Cooking was considered anti-feminist and my frowning Parisian girlfriends saw my love of food and cooking not only as excessive but as the ultimate sister letdown. But I was a working mum with the luxury of childcare, hardly chained to my stove in a flowery pinny, with baby on my hip, making pot au feu all day. Cooking was my passion, not drudgery, and their snooty disapproval merely left me even freer to indulge my obsession with finding the latest exotic ingredient to arrive at Selfridges, Harrods or La Grande Épicerie du Bon Marché. Back then it was London and New York influencing consumers in Paris, so I was naturally tuned in to everything interesting happening there, as well as rejoicing in French chefs’ creations at home.
These days it is impossible to keep up, let alone cook with everything “new”, especially as new in Dublin will bear no resemblance to the latest fad in Tokyo, Paris – or even Galway. We might taste intriguing fashionable ingredients on restaurant menus, but do they ever make it onto the shelves of our local shops or the stands at our farmers’ markets? This is where the buyers behind some of our best-loved food shops feeding Irish foodista habits come in, and thank heavens for those foodie dreammakers. Fallon & Byrne lead the charge, with the satisfying labyrinth of high shelves in their beautiful Dublin store, crammed with the most enticing and inspiring packets, boxes, tins and bottles. You feel you could get lost for hours in there, notebook in hand, blissfully making up dishes and menus. Avoca also offers a nicely curated collection of cult and latest brands and I love snooping around Sheridan’s in Galway, Rua in Westport and Arcadia in Belfast. But my favourite is Ardkeen Quality Food Stores in Waterford, where pantry ingredients from around the world sit side by side with an impressive range of Irish produce.
This year, among the usual flood of food trend articles, it was predicted somewhere that purple food would be “big” in Ireland. Certainly part of the good food news last year was the arrival on the scene of Maria Flynn’s Ballymakenny Farm heritage potatoes, including the spectacular purple variety “Violetta”. Not only is their colour fabulous, but their firm texture and slight nutty taste are good too (find them at Fallon & Byrne). So, as a nod to the trend, here are some rather cheffy purple potato recipes which should immediately turn you into a willing 2017 food fashion victim, wow your lucky guests and perhaps even score you a few likes on the old Instagram.
Monkfish with purple potato powder, preserved lemon and purslane
This recipe is a home cook version of one I watched demo-ed by Italian chef Riccardo Camanini many moons ago in Paris where purple potatoes have been around for quite a few years! Although potato paper takes a while to make, the assembly of the dish is pretty simple. If you feel it needs a few carbs, you could always steam some rice to accompany.
For 4 / 30 minutes preparation; 20 minutes cooking
4 pieces of monkfish
4 small handfuls of purslane
edible flowers or beetroot shoots for garnishing
potato powder (see recipe below)
salt and pepper
For the lemon emulsion:
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon preserved lemon purée
Make the lemon emulsion; mix the egg with the lemon then whisk in the oil as for a mayonnaise. Wash and spin the purslane and reserve both.
Heat the oven to 200°C . Season the fish, place on baking parchment on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through but still firm to the touch.
Spread some lemon emulsion in a stripe on the plates, place the purslane on top and decorate with the flowers.
Take fish, rub in a little oil and rub with potato powder on a flat dish.
Purple potato chips and powder
A little patience is required here. Make sure you don’t have your oven too hot and keep an eye on proceedings.
300-400g purple potatoes
salt and pepper
Peel and steam the potatoes. Mash them to a fine purée and leave to cool.
Heat the oven to 90°C. Spread the potato purée thinly over a silicone sheet and leave to dry and harden in the low oven for about two hours. By this time it should be crisp and dry. Do check in on it as ovens vary.
Remove from the oven, season with salt and pepper and break into strips for nibbling or blitz in a mini blender for powder to use in the recipe above.
Violettas with thinly slice spiced beef and melted Durrus Óg
Violettas are so ridiculously pretty – purple inside and out – that you really do not need to faff around with them much at all. In this raclette-style dish, the deep wine colour of the spiced beef looks lovely with the steamed spuds and gooey melted Durrus. Serve this as a cute weekday supper for friends, with pickles and a big fresh salad on the side. Bask in the compliments!
1kg violetta potatoes, scrubbed, steamed
1 Durrus Óg
10 thin slices of pastrami or spiced beef
Heat the oven to 180°C
Crush the potatoes with the butter and put into an ovenproof dish. Tear the beef into pieces and press it into the potatoes here and there. Slice the cheese and lay over the top.
Cook until the cheese is bubbling, remove from the oven and serve immediately.
TRISH DESEINE @TrishDeseine
This article appeared in a previous issue. For more features like this don’t miss our next issue, out Thursday April 6.
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