ArchiveJuly 2003

Summer Fruit

Out of season food not only bores me but also kind of spooks me – strawberries, tomatoes, bananas (do they have a season?) Nothing’s a treat any longer, and many of us have no idea what the proper season actually is – this really came home to me recently when I overheard a conversation between an irate customer and a hapless shop assistant. The former was complaining bitterly that the strawberries she had bought had gone off in two days – this was disgraceful she declared with great authority as she demanded her money back “they should keep for at least two weeks”.

Well now! She was obviously unaware that fresh strawberries, raspberries, loganberries …. are naturally very perishable and do indeed deteriorate within a short time - the berries which last for weeks in the fridge are most probably irradiated. Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the label to indicate this fact and to provide the customer with a choice. 

The Irish soft fruit season has been in full swing for several weeks now. In the southeast there were many roadside stalls selling strawberries, vying with each other to entice the passing motorists to sample their gorgeous berries. Stop and feast while you can, ask to taste, some varieties are very much more flavourful than others. If you can find or indeed grow the little wild strawberry ‘fraises du bois’ you’ll find them the most delicious of all – they are indigenous to both the old and new worlds and were the basis for the organised cultivation of strawberries as we now know them, which dates back to the 14th Century. In 1821 a market gardener called Michael Keems caused a sensation when he produced Keems Seedling with its remarkable size and flavour. Most modern varieties are derived from it. Raspberries, I adore, but the real treat for me at this time are the more unusual berries not widely available in the shops - loganberries, tayberries, boysenberries. Loganberries named after Judge Logan of Santa Cruz in California are a hybrid of the raspberry and blackberry. The plants yield well and produce long berries which should be dark red before being picked. Tayberries, also a hybrid, bred in Scotland and named after the River Tay, are larger, sweeter and more aromatic. The berries are duller in colour and appearance but both are truly delicious. As with raspberries and strawberries, they are at their best just sprinkled with castor sugar, fresh softly whipped cream is the traditional accompaniment, but the French crème fraiche with its subtle acidity is for me the best of all.

Red currants are worth growing even just to make redcurrant jelly so try to pick up a few pounds to make this great standby. Blackcurrants are one of nature’s richest sources of Vitamin C – they make a delicious easily set jam and are one of the essential flavours in Summer Pudding along with redcurrants, raspberries and strawberries. We use them to make a fresh-tasting ice-cream and served in meringue nests with cream they are a delicious bittersweet combination.

Boysenberry, the offspring of two blackberry cultivars is also called after its grower. 

All these fruits make wonderful pies, jams, ice-cream, sorbets and fools.

Blackcurrant Ice-cream

Serves 6-8
2 ozs (55g) sugar
4 fl ozs (120ml) water
2 egg yolks, preferably free-range
1 pint (600ml) whipped cream
1 lb(450 g) Blackcurrants
½ pint (300ml) Stock Syrup (see recipe)
Blackcurrant Leaves (optional)

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the 'thread' stage, 106-113ºC/223-236ºF. It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. 

Meanwhile put the blackcurrants, (strings removed) in a saucepan, barely cover with syrup. Bring to the boil and cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until the fruit bursts. Liquidize, push through a nylon sieve and measure, you will need ½ pint of blackcurrant puree for this ice-cream. Keep the remainder for sauce. 

Stir the measured blackcurrant puree into the mousse and then carefully fold in the cream.

Turn in a sterilized container, cover and freeze. Serve on chilled plates with softly whipped cream and a little Blackcurrant sauce*. 

If you have access to unsprayed organic Blackcurrant leaves serve the ice-cream on them.
*If the sauce is a little thick thin it out with water to desired consistency. 

Stock Syrup 
½ lb (225 g) sugar
½ pint (300 ml) water

Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.

Blackcurrant Coulis

8 ozs (225g) blackcurrants
8 fl.ozs (225ml) syrup 
4 fl.ozs (120-150ml) water* see recipe

Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst. Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve. * Allow to cool. Add 4-5 fl ozs (120-150ml) water.

Fresh Loganberry Shortcake

Serves 6 - 8
6 ozs (170g) flour
4 ozs (110g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
½ lb (225g) loganberries
8 fl ozs (250ml) chantilly cream - whipped sweetened cream
1 teasp. icing sugar
Garnish: 6 - 8 whole loganberries and fresh mint leaves

Rub the butter into the flour and castor sugar as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Rest for a few minutes if you have time. Roll out into 2 circles 7 inches (17.5cm) in diameter, ¼ inch (7mm) thick. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, 15 minutes approx or until pale golden . Remove and cool on a rack. One circle may be marked with a knife into wedges while still warm, to facilitate cutting later. 

Shortly before serving sandwich with chantilly cream and halved sugared loganberries. Sieve icing sugar over the top and decorate with rosettes of cream, whole loganberries and fresh mint leaves.

Note: Individual loganberry shortcakes may be made with 3 inch (7.5cm) discs of shortbread. Brush the loganberries with red currant jelly if available.

Strawberry and Balsamic Granita 

Balsamic vinegar enhances the flavour of strawberries in a dramatic way.
Serves 8
2 ¼ lb (1kg) fresh strawberries, stems removed and berries wiped with a damp towel
4oz (110g) sugar
2 teaspoons good-quality balsamic vinegar

First put the strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar and balsamic vinegar and allow macerate for 20 minutes. Then put the strawberry mixture in a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and cover with cling film. Freeze until hard. 

Just before serving, dip the ice-tray in warm water, unmould the cubes and whiz in a food processor. Serve in chilled wine glasses.

Red Currant Jelly

Red currant jelly is a very delicious and versatile product to have in your larder. It has a myriad of uses. It can be used like a jam on bread or scones, or served as an accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon or ham. It is also good with some rough pâtés and game, and is invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts.
This recipe is a particular favourite of mine, not only because it's fast to make and results in delicious intensely flavoured jelly, but because one can use the left over pulp to make a fruit tart, so one gets double value from the red currants. Unlike most other fruit jelly, no water is needed in this recipe.

We’ve used frozen fruits for this recipe also, stir over the heat until the sugar dissolves, proceeds as below.

Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) jars
2 lbs (900g) red currants
2 lbs (900g) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the red currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the red currants and sugar into a wide stainless steel saucepan and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully.

Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through, do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp.

Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Darina Allen’s back to basics recipe:

Fruit fools are old-fashioned and gorgeous and so quick to make and can be served right through the seasons. They are essentially purees of sweetened fruit into which softly whipped cream is added. Soft fruits such as raspberries, loganberries and strawberries, are usually left raw, whereas blackcurrants, gooseberries or apples are usually cooked in a stock syrup. The amount of cream used depends on your own taste. A little stiffly beaten egg white may be added to lighten the fool. It should be the texture of softly whipped cream. If it is too stiff, stir in a little milk rather than more cream. Fools may be served immediately or chilled for several hours.
Strawberry, Raspberry, Loganberry or Blueberry Fool

Its not at all the thing to mash ones berries in polite company, I must confess to doing just that behind closed doors because somehow they taste much more delicious that way. Compromise and serve the berries as Fool and then one has the best of both worlds. 

Fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, loganberries, boysenberries, tayberries........
Rich Irish cream

Crush the berries with a fork, sprinkle with sugar. Whip the chilled cream to soft peaks, fold gently through the fruit to get an irresistible streaky fool. Serve as soon as possible well chilled with a thin Shortbread biscuit.
Top Tips

Balsamic Vinegar – Aceto Balsamico

Is a pure, naturally sweet grape product that has been made since the Middle Ages in the province of Modena, in Northern Italy. In earlier centuries it was believed that it possessed medicinal qualities and rubbed on the chest or forehead it would chase away fevers, so it was called balsam. It was then and now a highly regarded condiment, which added to an oil and vinegar dressing brings magic to a salad, it can also be sprinkled directly on meat dishes or pasta. However, it really has an amazing affinity with strawberries and even the most ordinary berries are brought to life with a few drops of this magic potion. Available from the Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, tel 021-4652032, Italian food shops and other specialist food outlets.

Sunnyside Fruit Farm in Rathcormac, Co Cork, Tel 025-36253 – John Howard sells a wide variety of currants and berries, both fresh and frozen, both from the farm and a stall at Midleton Farmers Market. The farm shop is open daily 9-6 till end of August (after end of August telephone to arrange collection.)

Mary and Patrick Walsh, North Road, Shanagarry, Co Cork. Tel. 021-4646836, sell their delicious fruit direct from the farm.
Glen Fruits, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, Tel 058-43009, recent winner of Bord Glas Quality Award for fruit sector.

Greene’s Fruit Farm, Ballinacoola, Gorey, Co Wexford Tel 055-21783 – roadside farm shop open daily.

Farmer Direct, New Ross, Co Wexford, Tel 051-420816 – local food including fruit from local producers. 

In your own area check out the Country Markets and Farmers Markets and ‘Pick your Own’ outlets for locally grown fruit and new season’s homemade jams.
Course Schedule 2003  Tel 021-4646785

Wild Irish Salmon

Last night we had a feast – a wild Irish salmon gently poached and served with Hollandaise. We ate the first tiny broad beans and sugar peas from the garden and new potatoes from Patty Walsh’s farm across the road, and finished with a bowl of loganberries and cream.

Wild Irish salmon is in season for just a few short weeks in the year. In this area the season opens on 1st June and finishes on 31st July or sooner if the allowed quota of fish has been caught, but wild salmon may still be available from some other areas until August 12th 2003. The quota was introduced to help conserve precious stocks. Fishermen with salmon licences may only fish on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Wild Irish Salmon is such a special treat that its worth seeking out during the last few weeks of the season.

At Ballymaloe House we serve only wild salmon. During the short season it will be on the menu almost every night, served in a variety of ways. The flesh of wild salmon varies in colour depending on whether it comes from the river or the sea. If the fish are feeding on shrimps the flesh will be a richer ‘salmon’ colour. Few wild salmon are as vibrant in colour as the farmed fish, where the hue can be pre-determined by adding carotene to the feed.

The salmon we get from the fishermen in Ballycotton are caught as they leave the sea to journey up the river. They are in prime condition, fully charged with fat before they return to the river to spawn in the breeding grounds where they themselves were hatched.

When you are buying a salmon, choose a spanking fresh fish that looks stiff and shiny. Wild Irish salmon will be clearly tagged so they are easy to identify. Each fish is tagged as soon as it is caught – a red tag indicates that the fish has been caught in a drift net, a green tag means that a traditional draft net has been used and a blue tag means that the fish has been caught by an angler. It is illegal to sell these blue tagged fish so they should not be available in the market place.

So what’s the difference? Drift nets do just that , they drift at sea. The use of Draft nets has a long tradition stretching back at least 1000 years. This ancient and time honoured technique can produce better quality fish, partly because the salmon can be damaged when they become enmeshed in the drift nets.

If you are eager to support local draft net fishermen, choose fish with a green tag. A code on the tag will indicate where it was caught, ,CK- Cork, KY- Kerry and so on. It can actually be more specific, for example – L1 CK which indicates that the fish was caught in the Lismore/Blackwater region of Co Cork.

The flesh of a piece of wild fish will be slightly duller in colour than the farmed fish which is shinier and brighter in appearance. A fish weighing up to 7½ lbs is referred to as a peel, a fish over that weight is called a salmon.

If a wild salmon has spawned the flesh will be very pale and will also be less flavoursome. From the cook or chef’s point of view, salmon is a wonderfully versatile fish. Delicious served raw, poached, pan-grilled, or fried. Steaming gives the least flavour unless the liquid is well-infused with seasoning and herbs. For ‘extra posh’ it can be enrobed in a flaky, puff or filo pastry or embellished in a brioche crust, but it takes a skilled cook to ensure that the fish is perfectly cooked. Sometimes its better not to attempt to ‘gild the lily’ but enjoy it simply cooked and served with a fresh herb butter or a little Hollandaise Sauce made with our rich Irish butter. If you have a smoking box, warm smoked salmon is incredibly succulent and delicious – takes between 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the piece and is a perfect centrepiece for a summer lunch party.

Poached Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce

Most cookbooks you look up will tell you to poach salmon in a ‘court-bouillon’ . This is a mixture of wine and water with perhaps some sliced carrots, onion, peppercorns and a bouquet garni including a bay-leaf, but I feel very strongly that a beautiful salmon is at its best poached gently in just boiling salted water.

The proportion of salt to water is very important. We use 1 rounded tablespoon of salt to every 40 fl ozs/2 Imperial pints of water. Although the fish or piece of fish should be just covered with water, the aim is to use the minimum amount of water to preserve the maximum flavour, so therefore one should use a saucepan that will fit the fish exactly.
Serves 8
To Poach a Piece of Salmon
1.4 kg/3-3½ lbs centre-cut of fresh salmon
Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)
Fennel, Chervil or parsley
8 segments of lemon

Choose a saucepan which will barely fit the piece of fish: an oval cast-iron saucepan is usually perfect. Half fill with measured salted water, bring to the boil, put in the piece of fish, cover, bring back to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, allow to sit in the water for 5-6 minutes and serve within 15-20 minutes.

If a small piece of fish is cooked in a large saucepan of water, much of the flavour will escape into the water, so for this reason we use the smallest saucepan possible. Needless to say we never poach a salmon cutlet because in that case one has the maximum surface exposed to the water and therefore maximum loss of flavour. A salmon cutlet is best dipped in a little seasoned flour and cooked slowly in a little butter on a pan, or alternatively pan-grilled with a little butter. Serve with a few pats of Maître d’Hôtel butter and a wedge of lemon.

Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4-6, depending on what it is to be served with
Hollandaise is the ‘mother’ of all the warm emulsion sauces . The version we use is easy to make and quite delicious with fish. Like mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a ‘feast’. Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 350F/180C or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale, otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water. Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need. If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces.

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range
125 g/4 ozs butter cut into dice
1 dessertspoon cold water
1 teaspoon lemon juice, approx.
Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water. Add water and whisk thoroughly. Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece. The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly ‘scrambling’, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally add the lemon juice to taste. If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low. Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage. If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce.

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a bowl over warm water, or in a thermos flask. Hollandaise Sauce should not be reheated. Leftover sauce may be used as an enrichment for cream sauces, or mashed potatoes, or to perk up a fish pie etc

Salmon Carpaccio with Dill Mayonnaise

Serves 4-6

1 lb (450g) very fresh wild salmon
Dill Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
½ -1 teasp. Dijon mustard
1 dessertsp. wine vinegar
1 teasp. sugar
4 fl ozs (100g) oil, use 3 fl ozs ground nut oil or sunflower and 1 fl oz oz (30ml) olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablesp. freshly chopped dill
2 fl ozs (50ml) olive oil
3 tablesp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fillet the salmon, do not scale, wash quickly, wrap in cling film and freeze.
Make the sauce by the mayonnaise method.

Put the egg yolk into a bowl, whisk in the mustard and the wine vinegar, then add in the olive oil gradually whisking constantly until the oil has been incorporated then add the dill. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Mix the olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice together.
To serve. Spread a tablespoon of sauce on each plate. Slice the frozen salmon with a very sharp knife into very thin slices and arrange on top. Brush with a little of olive oil and lemon juice. Serve immediately with lots of crusty brown bread.

Seared Fresh Salmon with vine ripened Tomato and Herbs

Serves 8

Fillet of fresh salmon, (scales removed)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil or clarified butter
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil, marjoram,mint
4 large very ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2½ fl (65ml) extra virgin olive oil (approx)
Cut the salmon fillet into strips 2½ inch (6.5cm) wide approximately. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry or pan grill carefully in a little olive oil or clarified butter.
Transfer to a serving dish, skin side up. Mix the herbs and chopped tomatoes, add the olive oil. Spoon over the fish. Serve warm or cold.

Hot Tips
Salmon are the most fascinating fish. If you would like to know more about their lifecycle plan an expedition as soon as possible to the Coomhola Samon Trust, Coomhola, Bantry, Co Cork, where you can learn all about the wonder of the wild salmon and its incredible life cycle. A wonderful family outing. By appointment – Tel Mark Boyden 027-50453 Check out the website –
Fields of Skibbereen – John Field’s Super-Valu supermarket in Main Street, Skibbereen is a mecca for food lovers, stocking a wide range of local food as well as the usual items.
The Local Producers of Good Food in Cork by Myrtle and Cullen Allen, has just been published and is available in Cork from Mercier Bookshop, The Crawford Gallery Café and Bubbles Brothers, price 5 Euro – other counties please copy.
Smoking Box – Available from Kitchen Complements, Chatham St. Dublin 01-6770734, and fishing tackle shops.
The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim will be running courses right through the summer, Tel 072-54338,
Course Schedule 2003 Tel 021-4646785

British Queens for Sale

British Queens for sale - the sign on the side of the road both amused and perplexed our UK visitors. 

A gorgeous bowl of floury new potatoes in the centre of the kitchen table always makes my heart skip – There’s something about new potatoes that brings memories from my childhood flooding back. Pad digging the first new potatoes in the vegetable garden – ‘balls of flour’ he’d declare proudly, and then after the first taste he’d bless himself and solemnly mutter, ‘Please God may we all be as well this time next year’.

I particularly remember a variety called Skerry Champions, yellowy flesh with dark purple eyes, I’ve searched high and low for seed in recent years but have never been able to find it (If any reader knows a source I’d be so delighted to hear from you.)

I adore the ubiquitous potato, the world’s favourite and most under-appreciated vegetable, which has nourished and sustained the Irish nation for hundreds of years.

We depended on it the exclusion of everything else, with the result that when the crop failed, disaster struck in the catastrophic famines of the 1840’s. The effect was incalculable, millions died or emigrated, yet the potato is still an integral part of our culture, our folklore and our civilization. It is still not unusual to be served potato cooked in three ways as part of a meal in a country hotel – mash, roast and chips.

Yet the search for a really good potato as we knew it becomes ever more difficult, many old varieties are lost, their low yields meant that they were not commercially viable, consequently they were disregarded in an ever intensifying battle to compete against cheap imports.

Sadly, many Irish potato growers got locked into an impossible ‘Catch 22’ situation. In a desperate effort to boost yields, they increased the nitrogen levels, but the resulting potatoes, although bigger had less flavour, and kept less well. The Irish housewife increasingly turned to pasta and rice as they tired of having to discard a percentage of almost every bag of potatoes.
Its like everything else, if we want potatoes like ‘they used to be’ we need to seek out old varieties, and farmers who use little or no nitrogen, and most importantly we need to pay them more because really good Irish potato varieties yield less but taste better. Look out for British Queens, Kerrs’ Pinks in August and floury Golden Wonders in September. If you are fortunate enough to have a Farmers’ Market in your area, you may find a passionate grower with small quantities of splendid old varieties. I particularly love Pink Fir Apple and Sharpe’s Express. Recently in the Skibbereen Market I bought a few pounds of Ratte, Desiree and Charlotte and we simply had potatoes for supper with lots of butter and flakes of Maldon sea salt.

The Ballycotton area has long been famous for its potatoes. If you’d like to taste an almost forgotten flavour, call to Patrick Walsh’s farm in Shanagarry, Co Cork, or join the queue around Willie Scannell’s stall in the Midleton Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9-1.30.

Alison Henderson’s Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Potato and Mint Tart

This gorgeous quiche is a permanent favourite at the Ballymaloe Shop Café
Serves: 6-8
Savoury pastry (makes enough to line 2 deep 30cm (11inch) tart tins)
285g (10oz) plain flour
170g (6oz) butter, chilled and diced
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of icing sugar
1 free range egg, beaten
200g (7oz) Ardsallagh Goats Cheese
6 free range eggs, beaten
12 waxy, new potatoes, boiled
small tub of cream 170ml ( ¼ pint approx.)
170ml ( ¼ pint approx) milk
bunch of fresh mint, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 x 28cm (11inch) tart tin
Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas 4

Pulse the top 4 ingredients in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg and pulse again until the mixture begins to come together. Then tip the dough onto a piece of cling film. Shape into a log, wrap and refrigerate, preferably overnight. The next day line the tart tin with the dough and blind bake, (without foil or beans) at 200C/400F/gas 6 for 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on it and remove from the oven before it dries out too much. If it fissures it can be patched, but this quiche mix is quite thick so it shouldn’t ooze too much anyway.
Boil the potatoes until cooked. Drain and set aside. Cut the goats cheese into cubes 1 cm ( ½ inch) approx.

Mix the eggs, milk, cream, mint, salt and pepper in a bowl. Let stand 15 –20 minutes to allow the mint to infuse the custard mix.

To assemble
Halve the cooked potatoes. Line the tart base with the potatoes and cubed goats cheese. Pour the custard mixture into the tart, not totally covering the potatoes. Allow them to jut out of the mixture. Bake in a preheated at 180C/350F/gas 4 for 25-30 minutes until set and golden round the edge.
Allow to cool slightly.
Serve with a good green salad and Cranberry sauce.

Sean O’Criadain’s Potato and Thyme Leaf Salad

Serves 6 approx.
Scant quart cooked potatoes peeled and cut into 2 inch (5mm) dice
4 fl ozs (120ml/2 cup) fruity Extra Virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons thyme leaves and thyme flowers if available
Salt and pepper to taste
Toss the potatoes in a good Extra Virgin olive oil while still warm. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sprinkle liberally with fresh thyme leaves and thyme flowers.

Crusty Potatoes with Ginger and Garlic
In parts of India they eat almost as many potatoes as the Irish, but they don't just boil or roast them - many are deliciously spiced. This recipe which was given to me by Madhur Jaffrey is one of my favourites.

Serves 4-5
12 lbs (675g) 'old' potatoes - Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
Piece of fresh ginger, about 2 x 1 x 1 inch (5 x 2.5 x 2.5cm), peeled and coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tablesp. water
2 teasp. ground turmeric
1 teasp. salt
1-2 teasp. cayenne pepper
5 tablesp. sunflower or peanut oil
1 teasp. whole fennel seeds (optional)
Boil the potatoes in their jackets until just cooked. Drain them and let them cool. Peel the potatoes and cut them into :-1 inch (2-2.5cm) dice.

Put the chopped fresh ginger, crushed garlic, water, turmeric, salt and cayenne pepper into the container of a food processor, blend to a paste.

Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the fennel seeds. Let them sizzle for a few seconds (careful not to let them burn) add in the spice paste. Stir and fry for 2 minutes. Put in the potatoes. Stir and fry for 5-7 minutes over a medium-high flame or until the potatoes have a nice, golden-brown crust. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or coriander. Serve on their own, perhaps with Cucumber and Yoghurt Raita or as an accompaniment to grilled or roast meat.

Roast Potato Salad

4lbs (1.8kg) potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablesp. freshly chopped rosemary
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 fl oz (150ml) home made mayonnaise and
2 ½ fl ozs (63ml) French Dressing
or all French Dressing
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Preheat the oven to 250ºC/475ºF/Gas mark 9

Scrub the potatoes. Cut into large dice, toss in olive oil and chopped rosemary. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes, toss and turn over the potatoes. Continue to roast until crisp and golden on the outside. Remove from the tin and allow to cool.

Mix the mayonnaise with the chopped parsley, scallions and crushed garlic. Thin with French dressing. Toss the potatoes in the dressing. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Waxy Potatoes with Capers

Maggie Beer, who was our guest chef at the school recently demonstrated this delicious recipe. This dish is totally dependent on quality of the yellow-fleshed potatoes.
Look for waxy potatoes, eg. Pink Fir Apple, Ratte.
1 kg small, waxy potatoes, washed well
2½ fl.ozs (65ml) extra-virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons small capers well rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt (optional)

Boil the potatoes until they are tender, then drain. Toss the pan over
heat for a moment to dry potatoes thoroughly, then sprinkle in the
verjuice (see Hot Tips) and allow it to sizzle. Cut the warm potatoes in half so that they will absorb the oil and return them to the pan. Add the other ingredients and toss well. Turn into a hot dish and serve.

Darina Allen’s Back to Basics

Pink Fir Apple Potatoes

One of the simplest and most delicious ways of eating new potatoes is with butter and sea salt. Halen Môn new smoked salt from Wales is a real taste sensation and Maldon Sea Salt is an old favourite.
This is one of several old potato varieties that we grow every year in the kitchen garden. The flavour is superb they are thin and knobbly with a slightly pink skin. They are usually about 1" inch in diameter and can be up to 6" inch long. Pink Fir apple are waxy in texture so are good for potato salad. 

1 lb (450g) Pink Fir Apple potatoes
Maldon Sea salt or Halen Môn Smoked Sea salt – see Hot Tips
Scrub the potatoes well. Boil in well salted water until cooked through - 15-20 minutes approx. Serve immediately with sea salt and lots of butter. 

We sometimes cut them lengthwise and toss them in butter or extra virgin olive oil and sea salt before serving. 

Hot Tips
Verjuice (made from the juice of green grapes picked when they are very tart) is an ingredient which dates back to the Middle Ages. In commercially produced Verjuice the grapes are crushed and the juice is then stabilised and bottled, it improves with age. Verjuice is available from the Crawford Gallery Café or Ballymaloe Cookery School Garden Shop.
Halen Môn Sea Salt – Anglesey Sea Salt Co., Halen Môn, Brynsiencyn, Anglesey, Ynys Môn, LL61 6TQ. Tel 00 44 1248 430871 

Maldon Sea Salt – The Maldon Crystal Salt Co. Ltd, Maldon, Essex, UK.  

Farmleigh -. The Summer Programme at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park runs from July to October – July’s theme is Music, August – Gardens, September - Food at Farmleigh – Bord Bia is sponsoring the food element which will include a Celebrity Kitchen, Food Fair, The Art of Food and much, much more food for thought. October ‘s theme is writers at Farmleigh. All local libraries have brochures of the events – the brochure includes details of how to apply for tickets for the various events – so don’t delay in picking one up.

Jet Magic now fly to and from Cork Belfast 6 days a week (morning and afternoon Monday to Friday and morning only on Saturday. On a recent trip we were surprised and delighted to be offered sweeties before take off, a selection of sandwiches and complimentary drinks were served during the flight by sweet and friendly air hostesses who appeared to really enjoy looking after us. All this plus hot towels and choccies were part of the service on a 35 minute flight from Cork to Belfast City Airport.  or 021-432 9776 

Now there’s no longer any excuse not to pop up North, see the Giants Causeway, the Mussenden Temple and the beautiful Antrim Coast……..

If you want some hot tips on where to eat, shop and stay, seek out a copy of the Bridgestone Food Lovers Guide to Northern Ireland.  

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School
1 week Introductory Courses – Part 2 14-18 July.

Gardens open every day 10-6

Course Schedule 2003  Tel 021-4646785


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