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Orzo salad with pesto, tomatoes & knockalara cheese

Another day, another gorgeous recipe from the Ballymaloe Cookery Course Cookbook, all in the hope of raising money for the World Food Programme’s efforts in Lesotho. If this is your first time hearing of it, briefly:

Chez Pim has announced Menu for Hope 4 – her annual fundraising event. Inspired by the Tsnuami 5 years ago, in 2006, Menu for Hope raised US$62,925.12 to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry. I applaud her for this effort and would like to spread the word by directing you to her blog. This year, she is again supporting the UN World Food Programme.

More on how to buy a raffle ticket and prizes here, for now – back to food.

This cookbook hasn’t failed me yet. This recipe is very simple and quick, perfect for today’s lunch. It’s the litle details that really make it – sprinkling some sugar and balsamic vinegar on the cut tomatoes preserves and enhances their lovely flavour. I love the texture and flavour of orzo, a pasta grain with a delicate bite which absorbs other flavours beautifully. It’s great in salads and soups and makes a nice change when substituted for noodles/pasta in noodle soups or minestrone.

A note on Knockalara cheese – as I’ve mentioned it on the blog before, this is a cheese made local to where I grew up in Cappoquin, Co Waterford. I bought it from their stall in Dungarvan Farmer’s Market (which I promised I’d blog but still haven’t, I will eventually!). There are so many wonderful irish cheeses, I always bring some back with me when I go home, but this for me is particularly good. It’s a sheep’s milk cheese, the one I had was a mature one and had a strong flavour, almost reminiscent of a blue cheese, really very good. If you can’t get Knockalara, substitute another sheep’s cheese like a good feta.

I made a change to the recipe, adding more tomatoes as I had many, so instead of Darina’s 12 I had about 20 – 10 red, 10 yellow. I also cut the cheese smaller as mine was quite strong. I think I will add more pine nuts next time I make it as I like the taste and texture. It would be lovely as a side dish, or as I had it, for lunch with some leaves. Delicious![Read more]

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Parsley & thyme potato salad with homemade mayonnaise

Parsley & Thyme Potato Salad

My animal instincts have kicked in, all I seem to want to do is eat high fat foods and go hibernate, I blame this weather! Half the country is flooded and the rest seems to think it’s November. What’s the answer to this misery? Potato salad. Proper homemade potato salad with a homemade mayonnaise packed full of tasty herbs. Mayonnaise is a tricky one. I’ve made it by hand and have had some heart breaking moments when it has split, once in desperation when it had I added the leftover egg white and discovered that it was a rescue remedy (and could be done in the blender!) and so I have this quick mayonnaise recipe, which, while it isn’t a traditional french mayo will fool you into thinking it is with it’s concocted french tones. My aching hand was delighted to dispose of the wooden spoon. I still make the real one when I am feeling purist but I wasn’t this day, I was happy with my speedy compromise and wanted my potato salad and wanted it fast, so here it is. It’s worth making the extra effort to make your mayonnaise, especially in a blender as it takes such little time and you get a much better result than that gloop you buy in jars. Although (French people look away!), I do use that too on occasion…

I used small new charlotte potatoes for this but you could use any potatoes atall. I left the skins on mine as they’re new and the skins are thin and delicious, if yours aren’t new probably best to peel them. Lots of herbs go well with potatoes but I used parsley and thyme. You could use rosemary, sage, mint or maybe even oregano. For the mayonnaise, I like to use half extra virgin olive oil as I love the flavour but you can use just vegetable oil if you like. The mayonnaise recipe will make more than you need and will keep for a week in your fridge. Make sure your egg is at room temperature if you keep them in the fridge. I prefer not to as eggs don’t need to be in there and they’re best used at room temperature. Also, as eggs are porous they can, and have, absorbed the smells of strong cheeses or other strong smells from your fridge. They are best kept in their little boxes away from strong smells in a cool spot, not necessarily a fridge. I buy mine weekly from the farmers market and rarely have them for more than a week so it’s fine.

The recipe follows.

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