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Roast Cod with Parsley Mash & Creamed Leeks. Smoked Lamb.

Martin Shanahan, Fishy Fishy CafeFishy Business

Kinsale - hailed as the 'gourmet capital of Ireland' in its 1970s' heyday when greats like Gerry Galvin, the ground breaking chef-patron of Vintage Restaurant and Heidi Roche hospitable owner of The Spinnaker, were making their mark - looks as if it might be regaining its culinary crown now that a new surge of creative energy is sweeping through some key kitchens in the town.

Pearse and Mary O'Sullivan's fine restaurant Toddies (named after Pearse's grandfather Toddie O'Sullivan, the legendary general manager of The Gresham in its heyday) moved into smashing new premises at Kinsale Brewery and has since earned the title Georgina Campbell's Atmospheric Restaurant of the Year , for example, while Jean-Marc Tsai has taken his inspired French and Chinese/Thai cooking to Le Bistro, and Fishy Fishy Caf (BIM/Georgina Campbell Seafood Restaurant of the Year in 2001) - almost as famous for its no-reservations policy and the long queues which often include a sprinkling of government ministers and TV stars alongside the likes of you and me, as for its super food - is shortly opening in much bigger new premises in the town.

Martin Shanahan, chef-proprietor of the unique fishmongers/deli/restaurant Fishy Fishy Caf has been busy meanwhile, with a little book of Irish Seafood Cookery; it is co-written with Sally McKenna who has collected 60 of Martin's contemporary recipes together in a compact little book which also includes a shopping guide, telling you where to buy the best seafood from specialist retailers throughout Ireland. Published by Estragon Press, with the assistance of IASC - the Irish Association of Seafood Companies, it costs just EUR3.99.

From Martin Shanahan's collection of “delicious ideas that can be cooked by everyone who loves the simplicity and speed of seafood cooking”:

Roast Cod with Parsley Mash & Creamed Leeks.
Roast Cod with Parsley Mash and Creamed Leeks
Serves 4

Parsley Potatoes
20g parsley (2 handfulls), chopped
A cup of olive oil
8-10 potatoes
salt and pepper

Creamed leeks
300g leeks, finely sliced and washed
150 ml cream
20g butter

Roast cod
4 portions (approx 200g each) thickly-cut cod fillets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

First make the parsley mash: Mix the parsley and olive oil in a food processor, and process until you get a fine green pure. Boil the potatoes until just soft and mash with a potato masher. Whisk in the parsley pure with a fork. Season to taste.
To make the creamed leeks: place the cream and butter in a saucepan and boil to reduce. Add the finely sliced leeks and cook for just 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
To roast the cod: preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Use a frying pan that can go on the stove and into the oven. Place the pan on a high heat, and leave for 5 minutes until the pan is very, very hot.
Meanwhile, season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan, it should glisten and cover the base of the pan with a film of very hot oil. Place the fish onto this searing heat , and cook for 2-3 minutes. Place the whole pan in the oven for a further 2-3 minutes until the fish is milky white and firm to the touch.
To serve: place each portion of fish on top of a mound of potato, and spoon the leek sauce around it.
Variation: Other white fish such as haddock, hake or whiting can be used instead.


More Schooling for Cooks
Great outings to lovely parts of the country…

- Ballymaloe Cookery School's 2006 schedule offers more choice of courses than ever before. As well as the annual Guest Chef (Peter Gordon of Sugar Club etc) a long list of popular courses including Stress Free Entertaining and Rachel's Favourite Food led by Rachel Allen, the success of last year's 'How to Keep a Few Chickens in the Garden' and 'Pig in a Day' courses has inspired Darina to put on a series of 'Forgotten Skills' courses, covering everything from making cheese or smoking fish to making wine or salami - great fun. Also new this year is a 4 week Garden Design Course by acclaimed UK designer Nigel Fuller. Details from 021 4646 785 / www.cookingisfun.ie.

- Small is beautiful over at Carmel Somers' Good Things Caf in Durrus, West Cork. A fantastic location, small classes, personal tuition, lots of extras (parties, dinners, free wine…) and great value for money are all part of the attraction to this little place, where the use of first class local seasonal organic/free range ingredients is a priority. Courses with a difference include 'The 51/2 Day Kitchen Miracle' (various dates) and '7 Days Food in 7 Hours for just 7 Students' (April 1st) Tel 027 61426 / www.thegoodthingscaf.com. NB - The caf will be open for St Patrick's weekend.

- Over in Co Clare, Home Economics teacher Rita Meade runs a seasonal restaurant with accommodation at her family home Berry Lodge, Miltown Malbay (065 / www.berrylodge.com and offers a calendar f cookery courses throughout most of the year. Courses can be residential or non-residential and parners or friends are very welcome to come along and enjoy the long walks or golf for which the area is famous.

INGREDIENT OF THE WEEK - Smoked Lamb
McGeough's Smoked Lamb
What is it?
A variation on the famous air dried hams of Italy, Irish smoked lamb is a superb speciality product made by the renowned butchers McGeough's of Oughterard, who have found a way to make excellent use of local Connemara lamb, which is air-dried and then sliced very thinly, like Parma ham. It is one of only a small number of products to have been selected by the Irish Food Writers Guild for one of their prestigious Good Food Awards.

What can I do with it? One of the beauties of this delicious product is that there is nothing to be done with it at all, except to garnish attractively and serve. It makes an unusual - and dead-easy- starter, or part of a buffet selection, and is a great talking point at a party.

Where can I get it? Smoked lamb is available from McGeough's butchers, Oughterard, Co Galway (Tel +353 (0)91 552351) and from Sheridans of Churchyard Street, Galway (Tel +353 (0)91 564 829). McGeough's also make dried beef and pork - and anyone attending the Ryder Cup at the K Club this September will have the opportunity to taste them, as they have just been awarded a contract to supply all three speciality meats.

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