Saturday, 24 October 2009

Samhain Feast

So we have decided from the various lovely things growing in our garden and nearby fields what we would like to do for our Samhain feast. All the following ingredients have been either grown by us or our local farmer/butcher. He is a lovely chap with very good traditional views on animal husbandry. All his animals are allowed to wander freely on his grounds, a mixture of fields and woodland and are feed on organic natural food; he even grows his own peas to help feed the chickens, no added rubbish to make them grow unnaturally. As he says “If it is worth having its worth waiting for”. The game, venison, pheasant, wood pigeons etc are all wild and only within season would you get to buy them from him. The pumpkins are from another nearby farmer. During the year you can see his fields turning into a magical green and then orange (keep thinking Cinderella when I see them) before triumphantly he stores them at his shop for you to delightfully pick amongst. Apart from the cabbage (I’ve yet to find a way to stop the butterflies from laying on them and destroying the crop) all the rest of the fruit and vegetables we have grown in our garden.

So without further rambling, here is our menu and the recipes if they strike your fancy to try:

Pumpkin Soup serves 6-8

25g/1oz butter
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 potatoes peeled and cubed
900g/2lb cubed pumpkin flesh
2ltr/3½ pints of vegetable stock
½tsp ground cumin
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Salt and black ground pepper
Chives to garnish

1 Melt the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onions and shallots for 4-5 minutes until just softened. Add the potatoes, pumpkin, stock and spices, with a little salt and pepper. Simmer covered for about an hour stirring occasionally.
2 With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a food processor and process until smooth adding a little of the cooking liquid if required. Stir the purée into the cooking liquid remaining in the pan. Add seasoning to taste and gently reheat.
3 Serve garnished with the chives.

Served with

Irish Soda Bread serves 4-6 per loaf (I’m greedy so normally only 4!)

225g/8oz plain white flour, extra for dusting
115g/4oz wholemeal flour
5ml/1tsp bicarbonate of soda
5ml/1tsp salt
25g/1oz butter, softened
300ml/ ½pint buttermilk

1 Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6. Grease a baking sheet. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the butter and buttermilk. Gradually mix in the surrounding flour to make a soft dough. Shape into a ball and knead on floured surface for 3 minutes, shape back into a round again when done.
2 Place the round on the baking sheet and cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife. Dust with some flour and then bake for 40-50 minutes till golden brown, move to rack for cooling.

Roast Pheasant

Per person; 1 small pheasant
2 rashers of streaky bacon
1 small onion
Flour to coat, salt and pepper
50g/2oz butter

1 Put onion inside the pheasant then put the birds into a roasting dish. Cover the breasts with the bacon.
2 Dredge with the flour, salt and pepper, then pour the butter over the birds.
3 Cook in oven 180c/350f/gas 4 for about 10-15 minutes per pound.

Served with redcurrant gravy, carrots, parsnips and

Colcannon serves 4 (ish)

500g/1lb2oz red potatoes,
cooked250g/9oz Savoy cabbage, shredded and lightly steamed
2 tbsp cream
salt and black pepper
1 large or 2 small onions, sliced thinly
a little bacon fat or butter

1 Sieve or mash the potatoes and mix with the cabbage and cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2 Fry the onion in the fat over a moderate heat until it is soft and beginning to brown.
3 Using a spatula, press half the potato and cabbage mixture in an even layer on to the onion and fry for 4-5 minutes until it is well browned and crispy underneath.
4 Cut the mixture into 4 quarters with the spatula or palette knife and turn them over carefully so that the crispy bit is uppermost. Press the remaining potato and cabbage mixture on to the first layer and after a few more minutes, cut and turn again.
5 When the bottom is again browned, you will have a crispy top too, a crispy bottom, and a crispy layer in the middle.

Golden Apples serves 4

450g/1lb shortcrust pastry
450g/1lb apples
Pinch of nutmeg
200mls/8floz boiling water
50g/2oz golden syrup
75g/3oz brown sugar

1 Roll and cut the pastry into 4 small squares then peel and core and slice the apples.
2 Place a ¼ of the apples and some of the nutmeg onto a square of pastry, fold into a triangle and place in a pie dish.
3 Repeat this with the remaining pastry and apples.
4 combine the remaining ingredients and then pour the mixture over the triangles.
5 Bake in and oven at 200c/400f/gas 6 for 40 minutes, serve with cream

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