Ballymaloe is a special place and the festivals it holds draw a very lovely and special group of people. The Literary Festival of Food & Wine (litfest) in May is wonderfully broad in its scope with discussions, talks, wine tastings and cookery demonstrations, involving the great and the good of the food and wine world.
The Big Shed fills up with lots of stands for everything from seeds and crafts to craft cider & beer and food. There is even a children's corner.
At the end of August Ballymaloe holds a smaller Garden Festival with talks, tastings and discussions. The Big Shed is also well stocked with stalls of food, seeds, crafts and drinks. There are plant stalls outside too.
Having given a talk last year we were asked back again this year and our topic was "Eating Your Garden" with particular reference to flowers. Here are the recipes for the lavender biscuits, lavender vodka and the rose creams.
I'll write up the remainder of the talk in the next blog post.
These biscuits are crisp and buttery, don't be tempted to use anything other than butter. If the dough is very soft divide it in 3, wrap it and leave it in the fridge to firm up and then roll it out.
175g soft butter
115g caster sugar
1tsp lavender flowers picked from the stalk
1tsp chopped lavender leaves
125g plain flour
Set the oven to GM 4, 180˚C and grease 2 large baking trays with butter.
Cream the butter and sugar with the lavender flowers and chopped leaves until light and fluffy.
Sift in the flour and add the semolina and beat again until it comes together in a ball.
Flour your work surface and take out a third of the mixture and roll it out with a floured rolling pin until it is about 5 to 8mm thick.
Cut out small rounds or shapes and put them onto the trays.
Repeat with the rest of the dough and then the scraps.
Bake them in the oven for about 15 minutes until just golden.
Leave the biscuits on the trays for 5 minutes to firm up and then transfer to racks to finish cooling.
Sprinkle extra lavender flowers onto the warm biscuits while they are cooling. Store in an airtight container, when cold, if they last that long.
Tom has a passion for trying out different flavours in Martinis and made this to bring along. He only discovered that he should have added some vinegar to preserve the colour of the lavender after he'd made the 'vodka' and the flowers had faded.
375ml good quality vodka
2tsp cider vinegar
8 lavender flower heads with long stalks
Pour the Vodka and cider vinegar into a 700ml bottle. Put the lavender flower heads into the bottle with the stalks sticking out and tie the stalks together.
Leave for 48 hours and strain off the vodka and bottle.
If you find the Lavender biscuits fragile then these are even more so.
75g plain flour
60g corn flour
40g icing sugar
125g soft butter
2tbs caster sugar
Set the oven to GM 4, 180˚C and grease 2 Swiss roll tins with butter.
Sift the flours and icing sugar into a bowl and add the butter.
Beat together until a smooth paste has formed.
Put the caster sugar into a shallow bowl.
Take a teaspoonful of dough on to the tip of a spatula and dip it in the sugar, then place it onto the Swiss roll tin sugar side up.
Repeat with the rest of the dough. It should make about 24 blobs.
Bake in the hot oven for about 15 minutes until just starting to colour. Remove the tray from the oven and leave the biscuits to cool on the trays.
Petals from 3 fragrant roses
2tbs caster sugar
1tbs lemon juice
Make sure there is no wildlife lurking in the rose petals and put them into a mini processor with the sugar and lemon juice, process to a purée.
Whip the cream until thick and fold in the rose purée.
Take two biscuits of the same size and sandwich them together with a spoonful of the rose cream.