Goodbye to the Hennessys and the Ambassador cooks on One TV

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With sadness we see the departure very soon of His Excellency Jim Hennessy, Ambassador of Ireland and his wife Monica after a three-year term on the island. It was a pleasure to work with them on a number of food related projects with the participation of all the family (and dog!).

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And as the Hennessys promoted Bord Bia and taught me so much about Irish Beef and all that is Irish we became good friends.

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It is a friendship that does not need proximity as even from a distance where ever the next posting will take them, they will be in my thoughts often. And when our paths cross again, we will have no catching up and will carry on as usual, a friendship that does not need farewells, just looking forward to the next time soon….

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After the success of having Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes in my food segment on One TV cooking local pork you will have a chance to see Ambassador Hennessy and his son Dillon with me in the kitchen on Monday at 17.40. It is interesting to see our past work and we used local sausage with a foccacia recipe of Irish soda dough and other local produce in tradtional Irish cuisine.

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For a yeast free Foccacia Dough you will need :

A touch of Olive Oil
450 g plain flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
400 ml buttermilk or if not available use Maltese yoghurt

And a topping with a fusion of Irish and Mediterranean you will need :

Local Smoked Sausage, chopped into squares
Fresh Rosemary
Local Black Olives
Tomato, chopped into squares
Parmesan
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
dried Oregano

Preheat the oven to 230C/gas 8. Brush a baking tray generously with olive oil.

Sieve the plain flour and the bread soda into a large bowl, add the salt and 50g of grated cheese and mix with your hands.

Make a well in the centre and pour in most of the buttermilk. With your hand stiff and your fingers spread out like a claw, start mixing the flour into the buttermilk or yoghurt using a circular motion. Add the remaining buttermilk and keep mixing like this until you have soft dough. Do not knead it but work it very gently to bring it together.
Transfer to a floured surface and roll out to about 35x20cm. Sit on the oiled baking tray and brush the top with some more olive oil.
Make dimples all over with your fingertips, on the top of the dough.
Push a small piece of sausage, rosemary, olive and tomato into each dimple.
Then drizzle over the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, Parmesan and dried oregano.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 C until the bread is nice and golden on the top and bottom.
When the focaccia is cooked but still hot, drizzle just a little more olive oil over the top and allow to cool slightly before serving.

And I close today with my prep for bambinella jam

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