Springtime with Trish Deseine
As the school holidays kick in, this month’s recipes are all about fresh natural springtime flavours which should please all the family. We have an early Easter so our usual springtime desire for sweet lamb meat and vibrant greens can be satisfied without any further ado. Comeragh Mountain lamb from sixth generation farmer William Drohan, Des and Olive Thorpe’s fantastic organic veg and Enniscorthy’s Fairfield Farm milk are all stars of a springtime menu you can enjoy as the days lengthen and the land warms and stirs after a stormy winter.
Comeragh mountain lamb is unique thanks to the careful farming and the superb terroir which goes into its creation. For half the year, William Drohan’s blackfaced sheep roam freely over the Comeragh landscape. They graze on a fabulous variety of of heathers, grasses, herbs and flowers all untouched by chemicals, meaning that Comeragh lamb meat is high in Omega 3 and has a superbly delicate flavour and melting texture. Improving the meat even more, William has the lamb slaughtered by a local butcher and dry aged for 10 days before it is sent off to selected stores and to restaurants around the country. The rack of lamb I used in the recipe has a good layer of delicious fat protecting the fine meat beneath. Browned in the pan then finished off in a hot oven over root vegetables, the fat imparts a fabulous flavour to the entire dish. The lamb shank broth is a great way of using the deep flavour of perhaps an older animal and making the meat from a cut go further
Des and Olive Thorpe have been farming organically at Knockroe Farm in New Ross since 1985. The sheer excellence and freshness of their produce always stands out on Ardkeen’s shelves and that promise of quality is fulfilled when you taste it! It is the Thorpe's brassicas I love in particular. Their small, tight cabbages cook brilliantly into weekday dishes and add their superb flavour and goodness to soups. There is no food boredom or austerity attached to the cabbage soup I have added to this month’s menu! And the black pudding crumbs give it an extra, traditional crunch.
Fairfield Farm’s milk is milk the way I knew it when I was growing up. I do not have the luxury of seeing it delivered to my door of course, but its thick creamy texture and golden tinge take me back a good few decades. In those days we had to dash out quickly in the morning before school to bring in the milk bottles, or the blue tits would attack the foil caps and steal the precious cream on top. Ardkeen’s stocking of Fairfield’s premium product is a bold statement about how we should spend more on our milk to support the excellence of our producers’ work. Being more mindful of how we use it, treating it like a luxury product brings benefits for everyone. For the farmer and, ultimately, for our tastebuds! The recipes I have added here are a simple milk and egg custard, rarely made at home these days, and a luscious hot chocolate, made with a gorgeous dark Belgian bar from Cachet.
Also on the menu, I confess, are a few items slightly out of season and from outside the country. But for me the lure of asparagus and strawberries is simply too strong as we say goodbye to winter! I have teamed the berries with the first rhubarb and white chocolate for a chic little spring-into-summer dessert. As for the asparagus, they are blitzed into a creamy soup with a crunchy salsa to zing it up even more. Finally, the traditional Hot Cross Buns get toasted and jazzed up with a lovely little Abernethy lemon and nutmeg butter. Happy Easter!