Archive for April, 2011

April 18, 2011

Autumn Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce

by Ciaran Burke

It all started with a trip to a nursery. We went to purchase named female cultivars of our favourite berry plant, sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides. The nursery is Fruit and Nut, part of the Sustainability Institute in Westport, Co. Mayo.

We had selected three different cultivars, we already have a female plant and one male plant in our garden. We also had picked out a Jostaberry, a hybrid between a blackcurrant and a Gooseberry and two cultivars of Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas. We were chatting with Andy, the mind and the energy behind the nursery, sharing our enthusiasm for berry growing and the concept of woodland gardens when he asked us where we lived. As I described how to get to our garden he stopped me, and asked in disbelief if we knew his friends, they lived very close to us. Apparently they also shared a common interest in woodland gardening, we did not know them yet. he gave us their contact details and directions to their house, he was sure that they would want to meet us.

On our way home we decided to call in and meet our neighbours, people that lived so close to us with a common interest in gardening and woodland gardening in particular, yet we had not ever met them. We drove up their lane and parked outside their house. They were surprised to see a caller, we introduced ourselves, explained what had happened at the nursery. They asked us in. Cy and Cleo invited us to a “pudding evening” the following Thursday. “Pudding” is a term that English people use to mean dessert, not literally a pudding. We could make and bring anything as long it went along with the theme of Italian or Chocolate. We accepted.

What to make was the question. I decided to make an autumn pudding, from the freezer I could use elderberries, blackberries and sloes, all picked from the hedgerows in our locality last autumn. I had a cooking apple there too, and Hanna had been baking lots of spelt bread. We had all the ingredients, but to fit in with the theme of the evening gathering I would have to make an amendment; cover the finished autumn pudding with white chocolate! The tanginess of the fruit and dark colour of the pudding would both contrast with the sweet white chocolate, Green & Blacks would be perfect, not only organic but also they have a generous amount of vanilla pod in their white chocolate.

We made the pie the night before. Cooked up the fruit, sweeten with honey and fruit juice concentrate. took the crust off a number of slices of the homemade spelt bread and soaked them shortly in some apple juice. In a bowl we poured the cooked fruit and then pressed in the bread torn into pieces. Covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The following morning we made the white chocolate sauce.

One bar of chocolate was finely chopped. In a saucepan we melted a knob of butter, added 200ml of cream and heated to near boiling. This we then poured over the chopped chocolate and after letting it sit for a couple of minutes we stirred the mixture to fully melt in the chocolate pieces. After allowing to cool a bit, we spooned the chocolate sauce over the pudding. It looked fantastic, the creamy sauces dripping over the dark pudding, collecting in a pool around the base.With strong resolve we resisted having a taste and returned the dessert to the fridge.

We had a lovely evening with our new friends, and met more of theirs. Everyone had brought a dessert “pudding”. We tasted each others creations, sipped elderflower champagne, drank coffee and chatter. A lovely evening, four desserts and good company, does not get much better than that!

Autumn pudding with white chocolate sauce

Autumn Pudding Recipe

This recipe I had originally included on my other blog LINK

Ingredients:

  • half cup of Stoned sloes
  • half cup of elder berries
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • half cup of apples, peeled and cored
  • 150 ml of apple juice concentrate or 7 heaped teaspoons of honey
  • whole grain spelt bread, crust removed and cut into pieces

After the fruit has been cooked for about ten minutes transfer to a bowl and press the bread pieces into the mixture until the fruit is pulp is absorbed. Cover the bowl with a plate and place in the refrigerator over night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 16, 2011

Admired plant

by Ciaran Burke

P70

This is Asarina scandens, much admired by students on the home study course at one of the regular garden visits to National Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin in Dublin.

It is a tender perennial herbaceous climbing plant. It always self seeds into the old stone walls at the bots where in trails downwards. It can grow to 2 meters or more. In cold areas it makes an excellent conservatory plant. It is easy to grow from seed.

April 7, 2011

Facebook friend offers free weedkiller for my talk

by Ciaran Burke

Tonight I am doing a talk for the Oranmore GIY (Grow Your Own) Group. The title of the talk is “Top Fruit, Soft Fruit and Strange Fruit”. I announced the talk on my Facebook page and then I got an email from a Facebook friend who I have never met, Oisin from Irish Organic Weedkiller. He kindly made the offer of some free samples of his new innovative product made from acetic acid that kills weeds quickly and is 100% biodegradable.

I have never used the product but I will give it a try. I have two boxes of the ready to use bottles to give away at the talk that takes place in Oranmore Public Library this evening at 6.30pm.

Thanks Oisin for the gesture.

http://www.owk.
http://www.giyireland.com/

April 4, 2011

Cashel House- The Final Day of the Course

by Ciaran Burke

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

It was raining during the night. When we woke, Hanna pulled back the curtains, the sun light came flooding into the room. Through the branches of the tress in the secret garden it created twisted silhouettes and golden rays. We had just had an excellent night sleep, the quiet of Cashel Bay wraps your sleep in calm. We strolled outside onto the front lawn, the grass was moist and sparkling. The white tulips looked a little dishevelled, as if they had had a hard night, but still beautiful in their white petal gowns.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

EMBOTHRIUM COCCINEUM FLOWER

We walked to the Secret Garden, it was an orchard one hundred years ago. A previous owner had a greater desire for botanical curiosity than for home grown apples and now the low walled garden is a small woodland comprised of exotic specimens. We walked along the path, passing floriferous camellias, under the great Chilean flame tree, Embothrium coccineum, which in May is a blaze of red flowers. A great white Japanese cherry flowers above a rustic wooden bench. The big leaves of the American skunk cabbage, Lysichiton americanum, are growing in the wet, still in the infancy of spring they have not yet reached their dramatic summer size. Their yellow spathe flowers fill the air around the pond with a heavy odour. Further along the  lady’s matle, Alchemilla mollis, lies at the path side still dressed with last nights rain drops. We stop to wonder at the size and beauty of the huge Magnolia x soulangeana, the biggest I have ever seen. From Mary’s Garden you can see it mingle with and rise above other trees. We walk the upper path and see the last flowers and big paddle shaped leaves of Rhododendron macabeanum. We admire the large trunks of the tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, still undressed, the branches not yet concealed with its unusual shaped leaves nor decorated with yellow tulip-like flowers, not till July will the flowers appear. Just before we exit the garden we have to bow as we pass under a stretched out limb of Persian ironwood, Parrotia persica. Another naked tree, the leaves starting to unfurl. The bareness reveals a wonderful structure of twisted and spreading branches. Soon they will be covered in green foliage that will burn red and orange in autumn.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

MAGNOLIA X SOULANGEANA PLANT IN SECRET GARDEN

There is nothing like a walk under botanical wonders to give me an appetite, so in we went for breakfast. After eating I set up for the day’s class. We continued the presentation on vegetable gardening. Some people had questions about some of the plants that we had seen on our walks in the garden. I showed them pictures of the plants, someone was curious about how the Embothrium flowers would look in May. Before the lunch we took a short walk through the gardens and I answered the group’s garden questions, there were many!

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

LUNCH MENU

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

LAMB FOR LUNCH

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

SPINACH ROULADE

We sat in the bar which over looks the garden. In comfortable laid back seats we ordered lunch. Once more we were spoilt for choice and the food as always was excellent. I had the lamb for main course while Hanna had the spinach roulade. Once we all had finished our dessert and coffee, we went back outside into the sunshine and walked up through the vegetable garden, pausing on the way to explain the origins of the Irish yew, Taxus baccata ‘Fastigiata’ Our class had been joined by two American guests staying at the hotel, gardeners from Washington D.C. When reaching the vegetable garden I demonstrated pruning, and then we pruned one of the apple trees. I explained the reasons and the method, demonstrating how it was done. The everybody had a go, each member of the party also pruning some branches of the apple trees.

When the day and the course was over we gathered for farewell tea and scones in the drawing room. I had enjoyed the weekend, talking about plants and gardening fills me with enthusiasm. Especially when I meet other people with an eagerness to learn. The weekends of our Cashel House Hotel courses always fly so fast. Its not just the fun of doing the course, the beautiful gardens and the delicious food. We feel that we always make new friends and as somebody from the garden class said, Cashel House is perfect for a gardening course; the garden, the company, the food and the atmosphere.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

JAPANESE CHERRY FLOWERING OVER RUSTIC WOODEN SEAT

See more information about Cashel House Hotel courses with Ciaran

Book a Course at Cashel House Hotel

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

April 2, 2011

Saturday at Cashel House Gardening Course

by Ciaran Burke
COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

TABLES SET FOR BREAKFAST

The sun has been shining all day. The weather has been great for us at Cashel House, as usual. There has been days here in the past where we have had coffee and scones laden with home made jam and whipped cream while sitting on the front lawn and basking in sunshine while the rest of the country was under a deluge. Not just once that it has happened but many times. We would have been sitting at the end of an enjoyable day and people would phone home to various parts of the country and get  terrible weather reports while we sat in the sun. There really is something special about Cashel in Connemara.

The ambiance is of laid back elegance, a refinement from a past age. One would not be surprised to meet Ms Marple sipping tea by the fireplace or see Hercule Poirot swinging his walking stick after a vigorous walk through the fine gardens.We woke this morning as the light filled the garden and took a stroll outside. The scent from the Clematic armandii rambling on the front wall was starting to fill the sun filled garden. The white tulips shook gently in the breeze and the cockrel crowed to greet the day.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 2011

CLEMATIS ARMANDII FLOWERING ON FRONT OF CASHEL HOUSE

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

FRONT LAWN WITH WHITE TULIPS THIS MORNING

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

FRONT DOOR TO THE HOTEL

We had breakfast with the early risers ffrom the garden group. The breakfast menu is superb. Not many hotels can offer trout or kippers or possibly liver for breakfast. I stuck with srambled egg and locally sourced bacon and sausages and enjoyed freshly squeezed orange juice. Afterwards I stil found room to enjoy a slice of raisin bread with home made raspberry jam.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

BREAKFAST MENU

After breakfast I set up classroom in the wooden building, admiring the floriferous Kerria japonica ‘Flore Plena’ as I unloaded pots compost, plants and other paraphernalia from the car. When the group had gathered we started the day with a slide presentation before coffee break which was followed by a walk in the garden, admiring magnolia and camellia trees and shrubs on the way. next was lunch, I enjoyed a dressed sorrel salad with parmesan shavings, Irish stew with garlic toastlets and delicious sauteed cabbage flavoured with caraway seeds. This was followed by strawberries and crushed merengue with whipped cream. Finely chopped mint leaves were mixed through the cream giving this dish an extra bit of delight.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

CLEMATIS ARMANDII FLOWERS

After lunch we had a practical session where we sowed seed including Runner Bean ‘Painted Lady and Nasturtium ‘Tom Thumb’. Pricked out seedlings of Lettuce  ‘Cerbiatta’ and made pots from newspaper. We did some soil pH testing and took a walk up to the vegetable garden and nibbled on sorrel leaves, sniffed on lovage and I described how to prune apple trees. By 5 o’clock  all were ready for a cup of tea or coffee which we took by the fire in the drawing room and indulged in scones with jam and cream.

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

SOME OF THE GARDEN CLASS POTTING

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

POTTING UP THE SEEDLING IN A NEWSPAPER POT

Next we meet for a drink before dinner, more friendly chat, lots of laughter and then face the hard work of choosing from tonight’s great menu.  The garden course is such good value, all meals are included and the full menu is offered. One thing I know for sure, I am having rhubarb pie for dessert.Its seriously good rhubarb pie in Cashel House!

 

COPYRIGHT CIARAN BURKE 201

DINNER MENU SATURDAY 2ND APRIL 2011

INFORMATION ABOUT GARDENING COURSES IN CASHEL HOUSE HOTEL

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

%d bloggers like this: