Quick Provençale Tart

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Tarte provençale ( Provençale tart)

Oh man! Between my ornithological outings, and organising our 8th annual Irish Food Festival at work ( plus a disastrous broadband at home), blogging recipes and stories has been have been a bit of a challenge! Anyhoo, I couldn’t let this little ripper being unshared! I make this great recipe in the summer, to put me in the mood I guess; I call it “Tarte provençale” or ” Provençale Tart” it’s all good I swear, all good!

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Gnocchi, on Heaven’s Door

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Gnocchi with saffron and red peppers sauce

Yesterday was a strange kind of day. This time of year is Dawn Chorus month and for the last five or six years, my two compadre from “Birdwatch Ireland Meath” and myself lead a group of very brave people, on a nocturnal procession in various locations of our county to listen to a new Dominical Dawn, bird waking up, welcoming daylight by the banks of the Boyne river. This good natured affair is also an early one, as we start the walk at 4 am, meaning I have to be up at 2:30 am, and in my car by 3:15 am latest. I normally return to bed between 6 and 7 am, waking up again later, never feeling fully restored and having that uneasy feeling that I have already had a full Sunday… As you can see, I don’t do too well on sleep deprivation!

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Homemade Baked Beans

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Baked Beans, poached eggs, buckwheat pan cake and asparagus.

I realised that I have been away from the house quite a bit lately; for work and leisure or a bit of both, spending a bit of time North Westward has been good to me. Then my sister came to visit, we haven’t seen each other in a year and a half and spending a bit of time with her, her partner and my nephews was refreshing and made me concentrate on other things. We visited the area, Fore and the Cairns of Loughcrew, Dublin for a bite and a bit of shopping, the Natural History for the boys or a day trip to Sligo, Mullaghmore and Glencar. They left on the Friday, and when my birthday came the following Tuesday, I felt a great sense of emptiness – not necessarily unpleasant- rather a time to reflect on the things in life that matters; nature and nurture… I needed to treat myself; I had soaked some beans the night before, stuck “Siouxie & the Banshees” in the CD player, opened a bottle of wine and started cooking…

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Conchiglioni Butternut Squash “Al Forno”

Conchiglioni "Al forno"

I went for a walk last Sunday; “a walk?” says my alter-ego ” more like a freaking pilgrimage!”. Ok, ok, a pilgrimage so… I like to sleep with the window open, no matter what the season, how cold or windy the weather is, I listen to the sound – or rather the consequences- of our blue home rotating… I woke up and all was calm, the sky was blue and I found myself inextricably drawn outside, I wanted to feel it, be a part of it… I put my walking shoes on, and like “Travis” in “Paris, Texas”, I started to walk…

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Cardinal Points

When I am in that mood, I keep on going; I hate turning back, I get bored so I try to do a loop, a great way to discover your neighbourhood, a way to reflect, a “communion” a friend of mine called it once. I realised that my little spin was going to take me on a 12 km journey, on hard tarmac. I didn’t care, the mind was talking, and I felt a wee project drawing itself near my parish of Dromone, the old church and grave, a Divine motivation, a pilgrimage, self inflicted flagellation and pain… When my mind is set on something, I never turn back. Us Bretons, are known in France as the most stubborn folks on the planet… Hence the expression “Breton head”…

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Boyne Valley Blue Fritter

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Boyne Valley Blue Fritter, with beetroot leaves pesto and blood orange…

I have been living in Co. Meath since late 2002, “The Royal”, a County full of history, legends and myths. Home of some neolithic settlers, reminding me sometimes – and for obvious reasons- of the early art and petroglyphs both our cultures share. You probably heard of the cairns of Loughcrew, or maybe even Knowth and Dowth? But I am sure you have heard of Newgrange, Solstice and equinox sun beams getaway to the other world, another world. And right bang in the middle, lies the legendary Boyne River…

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Chicory Gratin

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Chicory Gratin

Here is a little chicory recipe to illustrate my previous post/ story called Chicory Endeavour ; the pun is in the fact that chicory is also known as “endive”; ok, ok, a bit far fetched maybe? Anyhow, I decided to make this recipe with a cheese we mature at work, called “15 Fields”, a raw milk cheddar from co. Waterford that we age for 6 to 8 months. It works really well in cheesy sauces, or like in this case, a rich Béchamel sauce, perfect for this French classic called “Gratin d’Endives”. It sometimes includes ham, but this time, I decided to leave it out. In pictures, and step by step, this is pretty much how it went… First, you need to gather your key ingredients:

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Fried Polenta with Irish Cheddar, roasted Cauliflower and fresh Plum sauce

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Grilled Polenta with roated cauliflower, Irish farmhouse cheddar and plum sauce

I wanted to do a little recipe to pay tribute to our Irish Farmhouse Cheddars; especially after visiting Derg Farm in county Tipperary last month, I wanted to do something a bit new and for everybody. I knew  that I had an organic cauliflower in the fridge, but I wanted to drift away – at least this time – from the usual gratin that I have previously made. It had to include Cheddar of course and I wanted to avoid a soup and toasties, even if they are delicious together. The idea came when I parked the car in the driveway; I discovered that I had bought some polenta a few month back and when I opened the fridge, I still had a lot of local plums a friend gave me… Click… Clock… Click… Clock…  I might have watched “Ready, Steady, Cook!” a bit too much during my early years in Ireland, but it delivered a lovely dish, vegetarian too, satisfying and for everyone to enjoy! And this, my friends, is how last night went…

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