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Georgina Campbell's Cookery Feature - Delicious Donegal Dishes

Brian McDermott's Donegal Table Delicious Everyday Cooking (O’BrienPress, hardback, €19.99 /£17.99)

Donegal has gained a reputation as one of the coolest places on earth of late, but there are plenty of people who have known that all along - and that includes the well known chef and teacher, Brian McDermott, who lives and runs his cookery school on the beautiful Inishowen Peninsula.

After leaving the catering industry at the age of thirty three due to a heart condition, he focused on healthy cooking in the community and quickly earned national fame as ‘The No Salt Chef’ - which is not the theme of his new book, Brian McDermott's Donegal Table Delicious Everyday Cooking (O’BrienPress, hardback, €19.99 /£17.99) but the health-giving properties of the ‘good honest food’ that his mother cooked for a family of twelve are clearly an inspiration.

Whether Brian is demonstrating at food events or festivals, on TV or in his own cookery school, his cooking is proudly based on the seasonal produce of the North-West of Ireland that he is always keen to promote for its quality and diversity - and the many images of Donegal, and Brian, his suppliers and his family, convey a warm and welcoming sense of place and community.

Donegal Table is an appealing, practical book packed with tempting versions of the easy and affordable dishes that we all enjoy sharing with family and friends, this is - in the words of Brian’s friend Neven Maguire, '… one of those books you'll find yourself using again and again'.

A real book for real cooks, in other words - tasty rustic dishes like Wild Atlantic Way Fish Pie, Mammy’s Irish Stew and Early Summer Tart (‘My Best Veggie Dinner'), for example, a whole chapter on spuds and lovely baking: lucky daughters, Niamh and Aoife, on the days when Dad’s just baked an After-School Jam Sponge. Magic.

RECIPES to try:

Pan-Fried Hake with Rosemary, Leeks and a Runny Poached Egg

Pan-Fried Hake with Rosemary, Leeks and a Runny Poached Egg

If you want more fish in your diet then hake is an excellent choice, as it's easy to cook, soft in texture and has far fewer bones than any other fish. It was rarely eaten years ago, but it's now one of my top fish choices.

SERVES 4

Drizzle of rapeseed oil
40g butter
600g fresh hake fillets
sprigs of rosemary
freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon
½ leek, sliced
½ onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
100ml cream
4 free range eggs

Heat a frying pan and add a drizzle of rapeseed oil and half the butter. Place the hake in the pan, skin-side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sprigs of rosemary.

Turn the hake over, season with black pepper and add the zest of the lemon. Cook on medium heat for 4 minutes, then transfer the fish to a warm tray.

Using the same pan, add the rest of the butter, followed by the leek, onion and garlic. Reduce the heat and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the cream and allow it to warm through. Season with freshly ground black pepper,

While the leeks are sweating, heat some water in a saucepan until light bubbles appear, as in a glass of lemonade. Crack and gently drop the eggs into the water and cook for about 2 minutes, ensuring you retain a soft runny egg.

Serve the hake on top of the vegetables and place the poached egg on top. Sprinkle with some more pepper.

BRIAN’S TIP - Try replacing the hake with cod, haddock or turbot

 

Garden Rhubarb Crumble

Garden Rhubarb Crumble

I only started growing my own rhubarb a few years ago, but it's well worth it. From a four foot-square plot I can get enough rhubarb to last me all year. I freeze it, stew it and even make jam with it. I love to be able to eat my own rhubarb even when there's snow on the ground outside.

SERVES 4

150g self-raising flour
50g light brown sugar
100g butter, softened
150g porridge oats
500g rhubarb, washed and cut into chunks
100 g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

For the crumble, mix the flour and brown sugar together and rub in the softened butter until you have a sandy, crumbly texture. Add the porridge oats and gently mix.

Spread the crumble out on a tray and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool.

For the rhubarb, simply add it to a pot with the caster sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod - or use a few drops of good quality vanilla extract.

Stew the rhubarb by simmering it for about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.

Divide the rhubarb between four 8cm round dishes. Scatter the crumble on top and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Serve piping hot

BRIAN'S TIP - You have to serve this with custard and ice-cream, mmm...

 

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