Our sales rep Sarah, took on the challenge of recreating a Donegal Table in her home in Dublin and this is how she got on!
I love to cook and believe there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting down to a home-cooked meal with family and friends so when The O’Brien Press set the challenge of recreating A Donegal Table in Dublin, I jumped at the chance! Like Chef Brian McDermott I grew up in a big family where the kitchen table was the focal point of the family. It still is and we regularly land in on my parents for a big feed! When we were kids my mam did most of the cooking and it is from her we learnt to bake – making our own pastry and filling it with delicious jam made by my nanny with whatever fruit was in season – blackberries picked from hedgerows, strawberries from the patch in the garden or rhubarb from the neighbours. When my mam went back to work, my dad took up cooking and I remember spending Thursday afternoons listening to Ronan Collins and helping get the spaghetti Bolognese ready – very exotic for an Irish family in the early nineties!
Whether you live in Dublin or Donegal there is no denying the unifying nature of food – it brings people together and, like Brian, I cherish those childhood memories and love creating new ones around my own kitchen table. With this in mind I roped in my sister, her husband their daughter Rose to recreate a Donegal table in Dublin.
Donegal Table showcases what is best about Donegal produce. However, the principle behind the recipes in Brian’s book is to take fresh, local ingredients and use them to create recipes that are simple to make and delicious to eat. I live in North County Dublin, which is a fair drive from Donegal, so when choosing our recipes we looked at meals that represented produce available in our locality. We are lucky enough to have a large independent supermarket right beside us and they stock lots of fruit and vegetables from local suppliers. There is also a farm shop close by where you can source locally reared meat. With our menu picked and the ingredients bought the cooking began!
We took a course each.
My brother-in-law Kieran was on starters and opted for the Inishowen Whiskey Glazed Chicken Wings (p.179).
I was cooking the main and chose the Moville Regatta Gathering Pot (p.91).
My sister Hazel was always the best baker in the house so she was entrusted with dessert and chose the mouth-watering Easy Chocolate and Raspberry Beetroot Cake with Crème Fraiche (p.145).
So, how did we get on? Let me start by emphasising just how easy Brian’s recipes are to follow. All of the ingredients can be found in your local supermarket and although Brian chooses produce local to Donegal, such as Inishowen Whiskey, feel free to substitute with produce that is local to you. I am sure none will compare with what beautiful Donegal has to offer, but it is worth a try!
First up was the wings and they were delicious. The sauce was tangy and sweet. Although the recipe was written and developed by a professional chef, Kieran decided the chicken wings could not possibly need 50 minutes in the oven and reduced the time by ten minutes. The skin could have been crispier. Lesson learned: listen to the professional!
Onto the main and when I say that that this recipe is one of the simplest I have followed, I mean it. Once the ingredients were prepped they all went in one pot, which was left to simmer away so we could take the dogs for a walk and it was ready when we got back. The result was the tastiest chicken soup ever. We wolfed this down! The chicken skin is removed before serving so even the dogs got a bite to eat! I have made this recipe several times since and divided it into Tupperware for lunches during the week. It is a healthy nourishing alternative to a sandwich and with the weather we have been experiencing it is so nourishing and warming. This has definitely become a go-to recipe for me and I know I will continue to make it for years to come.
We just about had room for the Easy Chocolate and Raspberry Beetroot Cake with Crème Fraiche. This recipe was so easy to follow that Hazel accidentally left out the egg and it was still delicious! It tasted rich and moreish – what more could you ask for from a chocolate cake. I brought what was left into O’Brien Press HQ the following day and it got a big thumbs up from the staff.
I had such fun making these recipes at home with my family. It was a lovely way to spend a day – cooking, chatting and eating around the kitchen table. Grab a copy, choose your recipes and recreate your very own Donegal table…wherever you are!
Sarah Cassidy, April 2018
Brian McDermott’s Donegal Table is available here and in all good bookshops!