ArchiveAugust 2003

Sorbet and granitas

While most of Europe is gasping and squirming in temperatures of 30-45 degrees Celsius, we in Ireland are enjoying gorgeous Summer days and hoping that the Pope’s prayers for rain are not answered in our ‘neck of the woods’. Several groups of friends who scrimped and saved for a ‘continental holiday’ this year came home red as lobsters with tales of woe – simply too hot to walk, talk, eat or sleep, too hot to do anything – and the pools and beaches were unbearably overcrowded. It’s an ill wind that blows no good – it’s just possible that this global warming may do wonders for Irish tourism. We may even be able to make a virtue of all that soft rain!

Trouble is this sublime weather seems to zap everyone of any sense of urgency, which is fine if one is on holidays but try to arrange a meeting and you’ll find half the country has headed for the beach, and who can blame them. It’s not much fun being cooped up in a sweltering office but spare a thought for the chefs and cooks who are slaving over the hot stoves day in day out to feed the rest of us who’d rather not spend time in the kitchen in this glorious weather.

In the midst of all this, with impeccable timing, a deliciously cool little book arrived on my desk called Granita Magic. It’s written by Nadia Roden, the multi-talented daughter of Claudia Roden, whose name is mentioned in whispered reverential tones by those of us who love her many authoritative works on Middle Eastern cooking, Italian and Jewish Food. Nadia came from a family where the kitchen was the most exciting room in the house. As a child, she often took her paints to work there while her Mum tested recipes or cooked for family and friends. Now, years later, the pleasures of cooking and tasting have inspired her to write this delightful book. At this stage, Nadia, who now lives in New York, is not only an accomplished cook in her own right but also an award-winning painter and animator who has created textile designs for the Gugenheim Museum, Metropolitan Opera and Radio City Music Hall, as well as Neiman Marcus, Harrods and Liberty of London …. among others.

Nadia brings the same sparkling creative edge to ices, sorbets and granitas with pairings of ingredients that surprise and delight - whether served as an intermezzo (aka between course palate cleaner), an appetizer, snack or dessert or even for breakfast tucked into a warm brioche.

Single flavour granita can of course be truly delicious but let’s also have fun with some sinfully delicious contemporary versions – think ginger or pomergranate, rosemary or green tea or a sauternes granita served over freshly sliced peaches or nectarines. 

The innovative use of herbs, nuts, spices, teas, wines and spirits as well as vegetables, such as red pepper and tomato, horseradish, cucumber or carrot and fruits, from plums and pears to kiwi and cranberry. Elevate these glittering frosted crystals to something absolutely irresistible. All you need is a little imagination and a little space in your freezer. Remember to taste before you freeze - all sorbets, water ices and granitas should taste sweeter than you would like them to because freezing dulls sweetness.

Strawberry Sorbet with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Italian sorbets and granitas are legendary if I had to choose just one it would have to be strawberry.
Serves 6-8
2 lbs (900g/6 cups) very ripe strawberries
Juice of 2 lemon
Juice of 2 orange
2 lb (225g/1 generous cup) castor sugar
3 pint (150ml/generous 2 cup) water
Fresh mint leaves
A few sugared strawberries

Fresh Strawberry Sauce
14 ozs (400g/2 ¾ cups) strawberries
2 ozs (55g/2 cup) icing sugar
Lemon juice

Dissolve the sugar in the water, bring to the boil simmer for 2-3 minutes, leave to cool. Purée the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add the orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the puree. Freeze in a sorbetiere or a covered bowl in a freezer, (stir once or twice during the freezing to break up the crystals). (see foolproof)

Meanwhile make the coulis, clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary. Store in a fridge.

To Serve
Scoop out the ice cream into a pretty glass bowl and serve with a few sugared strawberries and fresh strawberry sauce. Decorate with fresh mint leaves.

Lavender & Honey Granita

Serves 4-6
450ml (16floz) water
175g (6oz) lavender honey(225g/8oz if using Champagne)
1 ½ tablespoons lavender flower heads
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
350ml (12floz) Champagne (optional)
Gently simmer the water, honey and lavender together in a saucepan for just a minute. Cover and set the mixture aside to steep until cool.
Strain out the flowers. Stir in the lemon juice to taste and the Champagne, if using.

To freeze granita, follow one of the methods shown (see foolproof).
From Granita Magic by Nadia Roden

Tomato and Basil Granita

Serves 4-6
900g (2lb) ripe sweet tomatoes, peeled
1 tablespoon sugar
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2-3 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
large handful of basil leaves, finely chopped
½ - ¾ teaspoon salt

Quarter the tomatoes and puree in a food processor with the sugar and garlic. 
Strain through a sieve to discard the seeds, then stir in the pepper, lemon juice, basil and salt to taste.
Let the mixture chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. 
To freeze the granita, follow one of the methods shown (see fool proof).
From Granita Magic by Nadia Roden

Watermelon Granita

Serves 4-6
125ml (4floz) water
5-6 tablespoons sugar
½ large watermelon (2.2kg/5lb flesh)
juice and zest of 2 limes

Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. When the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat.

Cut the rind off the watermelon, then cut the flesh into 2-inch chunks.
Puree the melon chunks in batches in a food processor. Press the puree through a sieve; discard the seeds and fibres. Stir the syrup and the lime juice and zest into the melon liquid.
To freeze the granita, follow one of the methods shown (see foolproof).
From Granita Magic by Nadia Roden

Blackcurrant Water Ice

Sorbet au Cassis
250g (9 oz) fresh blackcurrants
80g (3 oz) castor or icing sugar

Put aside two or three handsome bunches of currants (with leaves on, if there are any). Remove the stalks from the rest of the currants and puree them in a liquidiser or with the finest blade of the mouli-legumes. Pass through a fine sieve, add the sugar, and beat it in well with a whisk Transfer the mixture to the ice-cream maker and freeze. When you serve the sorbet scoop it out in balls with a spoon dipped in hot water.

Take the bunches of currants which you have kept aside and dip them first into iced water and then into castor sugar so that they are prettily frosted. Arrange them on top of the sorbets.

Cuisine of the Sun by Roger Verge

Darina's Back to Basics

To make the perfect sorbet
You don’t have to stick to one method to make the perfect sorbet or granita. Here are a few alternatives – chose one to suit your kitchen equipment and of course your lounging time in the sun!

1. Pour into the drum of an ice-cream maker or sorbetiere and freeze for 20-25 minutes. Scoop out and serve immediately or store in a covered bowl in the freezer until needed. 

2. Pour the juice into a stainless steel or plastic container and put into the freezing compartment of a refrigerator. After about 4-5 hours when the sorbet is semi-frozen, remove from the freezer and whisk until smooth, then return to the freezer. Whisk again when almost frozen. Keep in the freezer until needed.

3. If you have a food processor simply freeze the sorbet completely in a stainless steel or plastic bowl, then break into large pieces and whizz up in the food processor for a few seconds. Add one slightly beaten egg white (optional), whizz again for another few seconds, then return to the bowl and freeze again until needed.

4. A method to prepare a granita, simply pour the mixture into ice trays, cover with cling film and allow to freeze solid. When you are ready to serve, unmould the granita cubes and whizz in a food processor to a slushy snow texture.

Sorbets may be served onto chilled plates either with a ice cream scoop or for a more natural presentation, shape sorbet using two matching dessert or teaspoons. Dip spoons in warm water before you begin to shape. Granitas can simply be served in chilled stemmed glasses of your choice.

To garnish, add a sprig of a fresh herb e.g. sweet geranium, mint leaf, some leftover fresh fruit from ingredients or a fruit coulis.

Schull Farmers’ Market 11am to 3pm on Sundays selling fresh produce including farmhouse cheese and salamis

Look out for white peaches in the shops at present, not only are they gloriously juicy but they also make the basis of a classic Bellini,

Wine Courses
Intensive Wine Course  with Mary Dowey 7th – 9th November 2003
Do you know a bit about wine but wish you knew more?
Wine Development Board of Ireland 
If you are one of the many who love a glass of wine but are perplexed by the wine list, you may be interested to know that the Wine Development Board of Ireland has announced it’s annual programme of wine courses for 2003/2004. In a major educational programme, the Board is facilitating the delivery of no less than one hundred separate courses, with more than half of these outside Dublin. Wine sales have grown tremendously in Ireland in recent years. From 1.7 million cases in 1990 to 5.5 millions cases in 2002. Wine is now a favourite tipple of 49% of all adults in Ireland, as opposed to just 28% in 1990


Cooking over an open fire is the world’s oldest cooking method, somehow it seems to reawaken our primordial instincts. Even those who wouldn’t normally be caught dead in an apron feel an urge to grab the tongs when they see a barbecue! Barbecuing means less fuss, more fun and (when one gets the hang of it) more flavour too. It’s all about easy, casual entertaining – unwinding with friends and family, while the steaks sizzle and the chicken wings crisp over glowing embers.

You certainly don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get started. I’ve cooked many an outdoor feast in the most basic circumstances – a circle of stones, a fire and a wire rack will get you started. The skills one needs to learn are: how to light the fire, how to judge when the heat is right for cooking, and where to position the food in relation to the source of heat.


Before you start barbecuing make sure that you’re organised – with your tongs, seasoning and dishes ready. Even though these are laidback affairs, they will only seem effortless if you’ve organised yourself a little first.

The fundamental principle of barbecuing is controlling the heat. On a barbecue, you do this by raising or lowering the grill. Because they cook more slowly, the larger the pieces of meat, the further from the heat source they need to be. So for thick steaks, chicken legs and larger cuts of meat, you are better off searing over the high heat for a few minutes before transferring the meat to the edges of the grill, where the heat is lower. Searing will seal the meat, so that the juices remain inside during further cooking on a low heat. Smaller pieces of food (chicken paillarde or lamb chops) can be within 10-12.5 cm (4-5in) of the coals.

It is difficult to gauge if chicken legs and wings are properly cooked through. Because of the risk of salmonella and campylobacter, it is definitely worth pre-cooking chicken drumsticks a little first – this may sound like cheating, but it’s better to be safe, particularly if you are using intensively produced meat.
As you cook, fat will drip off the meat and onto the coals, producing flames. Damp these down by spraying a little water on the coals. Avoid basting with too much oil or marinade as well, as this can also cause flames to leap up. Keep turning the meat so it does not stick, burn or dry out. Most burgers, chops and so on should be ready with 20 minutes, but do check before serving. Fish and seafood will be much quicker.


Marinades are fun to experiment with, and can be an excellent way to improve and strengthen the flavour of meat, but they are certainly not essential. If you start off with good quality fish and meat, you shouldn’t have to do very much to it. For a simple marinade, all you need is good olive oil, sea salt, a few herbs and perhaps a little lemon or lime juice, vinegar or red wine. You only need to marinade for 10-15 minutes, and be particularly aware not to leave meat in an acidic marinade for too long as it can be counter-productive and toughen it. A word of warning: avoid marinades with tomato or honey as they tend to burn. It’s a better idea to baste the meat with sauce once it’s cooked.

Food for Barbecues

Barbecues were traditionally carnivorous affairs, with perhaps the odd green salad or baked potato on the side. This is far from the case now. There are some exceptionally tasty vegetarian and non-meat options to try: vegetable kebabs and parcels, stuffed flat mushrooms, goat’s cheese wrapped vine leaves, coal-baked potatoes, prawns and fish. Remember that people’s appetites increase when they eat outdoors, and of course all those lovely aromas of cooking food will make them hungrier still. Keep your guests’ hunger at bay with some fingerfood – this will also ensure that they’re not completely sozzled if you get your timing wrong and the cooking takes longer than expected! As a rough guide, allow per person:

3-4 portions of ‘main’ course, e.g. kebabs, steak, burgers, sausages or fish parcels

2-3 portions of salads or vegetable dishes, e.g. baked potatoes, salads or vegetable parcels

1-2 portions of dessert

3-4 drinks

Try to have some standby food on hand, such as extra sausages (which can be frozen later if they’re not used) and bananas or tomatoes which can be wrapped in streaky baacon.

Pork Ribs with quick Barbecue Sauce

(recipe from Bord Bia recipe collection no. 33 – see top tips)
These ribs are par-boiled before barbecuing, this will reduce the fat and ensure that they are fully cooked. 
Serves 4

1kg (2lbs) pork ribs
Boil the ribs in a large pan of boiling water for 10 minutes. You can flavour the liquid with onion and a half teaspoon of 5 spice powder. Drain and leave in the fridge until ready.
Quick Barbecue Sauce
4 tablesp. tomato ketchup
1 tablesp. honey
1 tablesp. wine vinegar
1 tablesp. Worcestershire sauce
dash of Tabasco
salt and pepper

To barbecue:
Mix all the sauce ingredients together.
Cook the ribs for 6-7 minutes on each side. Brush a little of the sauce over the ribs towards the end of the cooking time.

Bananas wrapped in Streaky Bacon 
A super standby which can become one of the most sought after items, prunes, dates or chicken livers are also great (careful not to overlap the bacon too much). 

Thin streaky rashers.
Peel the bananas and cut into chunks about 2 - 22 inches (5cm - 6.5cm) long (depending on the width of the rasher).
Wrap each piece in bacon and secure with a 'soaked' cocktail stick, toss the bananas in fresh lemon juice if prepared ahead. Cook on a grid on the hinged barbecue 4 - 6 inches (10cm - 15cm) from the hot coals for 6-10 minutes depending on the size, serve immediately.

Barbecued Flat Mushrooms 
These disappear so fast, cook twice as many as you think you’ll need.

Large flat mushrooms
olive oil
chopped fresh herbs, eg. chives, thyme, parsley and marjoram
salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange the mushrooms on a flat dish, sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Leave for ½ - 1 hour approx. Cook on the barbecue, sprinkle with sea salt as they cook. Serve as they are or with garlic or herb butter.

Chargrilled Red Onions with Thyme Leaves

Great with steaks, everyone loves steak and onions!
Serves 6
3 large onions
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel the onion, slice, cut into generous half circle. Thread the onion slices onto flat metal skewers. Brush both sides with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with thyme leaves. Allow to marinade for 15 or 20 minutes. Grill over medium heat on a barbeque or pan grill. Cook until browned on both sides and softish in the centre.

Sweet and Sticky Drumsticks

This marinade is also good for chicken thighs or breasts.
Serves 15

30 drumsticks
12 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons soy sauce
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons clear honey
10 floz (300 ml) white wine

Put the garlic, mustard, soy sauce, olive oil and honey in a food processor and whiz for about 30 seconds. Add the white wine, whizz again.
Slash the drumsticks on both sides. Marinade for 6-12 hours, turning every now and then.
Barbecue or pre-heat oven 220C/425F/Gas mark 7. Cook for 10 minutes, basting with marinade. Reduce temperature to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4-5 and give them another 30-40 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Darina Allen’s back to basics 

Basic Marinades for Meat
A good Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the most important marinade of all. Combine all the ingredients and mix well.

Olive Oil Marinade

Suitable for meat and fish makes 2 pint (300ml) approx.
8 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic crushed
4 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs eg. thyme, mint, chives, rosemary and sage
4 tablespoons parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper

Optional Extras
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

Olive Oil and Ginger Marinade
Use for Pork or chicken

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons orange rind
4 cloves garlic chopped 

Basic Marinade for Chicken and Lamb etc.

3 sprigs of tarragon, thyme or rosemary, chopped
Optional additions:
½ -1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest or
1 grated onion and a good sprinkling of cinnamon.
1 grated onion and a good sprinkling of cinnamon

Yoghurt Marinade

Suitable for lamb and chicken
Makes 18 fl ozs (525ml) approx.
16 fl ozs (475ml) natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves
Freshly ground pepper

Hot Tips 

Seasonal produce

Fresh local food in season is what I love to feast on, full of vitamins and minerals. This week look out for sweet juicy sweetcorn. It takes just 3 minutes to cook in boiling salted water. Eat immediately sprinkled with a few flakes of sea salt and a knob of butter melting over the top. I bought some recently from Catherine and Vincent O’Donovan’s roadside stall on the main Cork to Innishannon road about a mile and a half from the Halfway Roundabout. They are open every day and hope to have sweet corn for the next month or so, and if you would like to order some for the freezer ring Vincent on 087-2486031. Their corn will also be available on the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall at Midleton Farmers Market.

Bord Bia have a tempting Barbecue Pork recipe leaflet available – kebabs, sausages, burgers, ribs and salsas – also some good tips for successful barbecuing – Tel. 01-6685155, ask for Good Food Recipe collection No 33

‘Barbecue’ by Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath - published by Dorling Kindersley – for me this is the most exciting and inspirational book for barbecueing.

Euro-toques Awards of Merit

This week we feature two other Eurotoque award winners, West Cork Natural Cheese and Frank Krawczyk of West Cork salamis. These two artisanal food producers each passionate about their particular craft are neighbours in Dereenatra in West Cork.

The award went to Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry of West Cork Natural Cheese for the revival of the ancient craft of thermophilic cheese-making in Ireland, namely ’Desmond’ and ‘Gabriel’ cheese – “for their dedication to excellence and perseverance against many challenges”.

Bill Hogan started life in New York. At eighteen he worked for Dr Martin Luther King in Atlanta and was involved in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960’s. After Dr.King’s assassination, he left and went to live on a farm in an isolated mountainous area of Costa Rica. Here he met the eminent Swiss cheese master, Joseph Dubach who was working to spread Swiss cheese making techniques in highland areas throughout Latin America.

During the 1980’s Joseph Dubach visited Ireland and assisted Bill and Sean Ferry to set up their first plant in Donegal. Sean Ferry started making cheese at seventeen years of age. In the summer of 1987, Bill and Sean were invited by Dubach to go to Central Switzerland to work and re-train with a second Swiss cheese master, Josef Enz. There on the high Alp above Giswik they learned the techniques and traditions of the thermophilic cheese making – a craft which can be traced directly back to the Bronze Age, over three thousand years ago. Indeed, in classical times the Romans prized these giant hard cheeses.

Although Dubach had mentioned to them that thermophilic cheese making had existed in Ireland from ancient times until the Great Famine of the 1840’s, this fact did not register with them until that summer of 1987. Besides their work study programme in Giswil they visited traditional cheese plants in St.Gallen, Luzern and French Switzerland. Everywhere they visited, cheese makers and experts would comment that “Ireland once had thermophilic cheese-making but the art had become lost”.

When Bill and Sean returned from Switzerland to Ireland, they decided to locate in West Cork because of the availability of high quality milk and vibrancy of the local food culture.

Today Bill and Sean produce ‘Desmond’ and ‘Gabriel’ cheese, mature hard cheeses which achieve extraordinary intensities of flavour. ‘Desmond’ and ‘Gabriel’ are made with unpasteurised summer’s milk from local herds.

Bill and Sean carry on the principles of their Swiss teachers, - maintaining a strong commitment to quality, the environment and the consumer. They struggle obstinately trying to cope with the many obstacles which beset skilled and dedicated artisan producers in Ireland today.

The final Eurotoque award went to Frank Krawczyk of Krawczyk’s West Cork Salamis – “for his pioneering work and constant innovation in the area of salamis, sausages making and the preservation of pork products. For giving Ireland a taste of Eastern European charcuterie and for being an inspiration to a new generation of pork butchers in Ireland”.

Frank Krawczyk, now regarded as the patriarch of the artisan cured meat industry in Ireland, has spent many years developing and perfecting his award winning smoked salamis/dry sausages, smoked pancetta/speck and prosciutto style smoked breast of local duck. Krawczyk’s West Cork Salamis had its genesis in 1998 when Frank began experimenting with Polish style dry sausages and salamis from recipes that were inherited by his maternal grandmother. However, he soon realised that it would be preferable to develop his own style, one that was representative of West Cork and Ireland, where the breed of pig than and the West Cork climate differed from Poland.

For over twenty years it had been Frank’s ambition to produce fermented and smoked pork dry sausages and salamis, however, the market in Ireland in the 80’s would not have sustained a feasible income for his family. Consequently he decided to produce a simple peasant style soft fresh cheese styled on the Polish “Twarog” that is like a cross between a German Quark and Italian Ricotta.

 In 1990 this cheese won Frank him first prize at the Royal Dublin Society’s Spring Show along with several lesser prizes for the flavoured varieties of the basic cheese. 
However, commercial success proved elusive and Frank was forced to close the business. Multi-talented and determined, he worked in local restaurants in a variety of capacities. This ultimately led to a decision to open his house for dinner parties. The first season was relatively successful and it rekindled his desire to produce sausages and salamis.

 He began to experiment with recipes and explored methods of smoking with Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery. At this time Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Farmhouse Products was in the process of setting up a smokehouse to smoke his mother’s cheese and he began experimenting with the production of dry cured smoked bacon rashers. Frank says that he owes a debt of gratitude these two people whose generosity facilitated him in developing his range of products. He himself has also been generous with his knowledge and an inspiration to others.

Frank has also received a Bridgestone Guides Award and two silver awards from the Guild of Fine Food, Retailers’ Great Taste Awards in London and latterly he was awarded Artisan of the Year by John and Sally McKenna’s Bridgestone Megabytes.

For details of suppliers contact Frank Krawczyk, Krawczyk’s West Cork Salamis, Derreenatra, Schull, Co.Cork. Tel 028 28579 E-mail

West Cork Natural Cheeses, contact Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry, West Cork Natural Cheeses, Schull, co Cork. Tel/Fax 028-28593.

Carpaccio with Slivers of Desmond, Rocket and Chopped Olives

Serves 12

We use wonderful Desmond cheese made by Bill Hogan in West Cork, but a nutty Parmesan or Grana Padana would also be superb. Be sure to use well hung Irish beef, preferably from a traditional breed .

450g (1lb) fillet of beef, preferably Aberdeen Angus, Hereford or Shorthorn (fresh not frozen)
rocket leaves, about 5 per person
4-5 very thin slivers of Desmond or Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
24-36 black olives (we use Kalamata)
extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil

Chill the meat and stone and chop the olives. Just before serving, slice the beef as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. Place each slice on a piece of oiled cling film and cover with another piece of oiled cling film. Roll gently with a rolling pin until it is almost transparent and it has doubled in size. Peel the cling film off the top, invert the meat onto a chilled plate, and gently peel away the other piece of cling film. Put the rocket leaves on top of the beef and scatter very thin slivers of cheese over the top of the rocket. Put a little chopped olive around the edge. Sprinkle with flakes of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil and serve immediately with crusty bread. 

West Cork Cheese Soufflé

Serves 8-10
Well risen soufflés always produce a gasp of admiration when brought to the table. Don’t imagine for one moment that you can’t do it - a soufflé is simply a well flavoured sauce enriched with egg yolks and lightened with stiffly beaten egg. Soufflés are much more good humoured than you think and can even be frozen when they are ready for the oven. The French do infinite variations on the theme, both sweet and savoury.

For the moulds: Melted butter 

45g (1½ oz) butter
15g (½ oz) Desmond or Gabriel cheese – finely grated
30g (1 oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) milk
4 eggs, preferably free range and organic 
55g (2 oz) Desmond cheese, finely grated 
55g (2 oz) freshly grated Gabriel, finely grated
pinch of cayenne pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

8 - 10 individual soufflé dishes, 7cm (2¾ inch) diameter x (4cm)1½ inch high or one large dish 15cm (6 inch) diameter x 6.5cm (2½inch) high.

First prepare the soufflé dish or dishes: brush evenly with melted butter and if you like dust with a little finely grated cheese. 

Preheat the oven to 200º C/400º F /regulo 6 and a baking sheet. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for 1-2 minutes. Draw off the heat and whisk in the milk, return to the heat, whisk as it comes to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Separate the eggs and put the whites into a large copper, glass or stainless steel bowl, making sure it’s spotlessly clean and dry. Whisk the yolks one by one into the white sauce, add the cheese, season with salt, pepper, cayenne and a little freshly ground nutmeg, stir over a gentle heat for a few seconds until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat. *

Whisk the egg whites with a little pinch of salt, slowly at first and then faster until they are light and voluminous and hold a stiff peak when you lift up the whisk. Stir a few tablespoons into the cheese mixture to lighten it and then carefully fold in the rest with a spatula or tablespoon. Fill the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish or dishes (if you fill them ¾ full you will get about 10 but if you smooth the tops you will have about 8). Bake in a preheated oven for 8-9 minutes for the individual soufflés or 20-25 minutes. For the large one (you will need to reduce the temperature to moderate, 180ºC / 350º F /regulo 4, after 15 minutes). 

Serve immediately. 

Useful Tip: If you fill the souffle dishes to the top smooth off with a palette knife then run a washed thumb around the edge of the dishes before they go into the oven to help to get the ‘top hat’ effect when the soufflé is well risen.

* Can be made ahead up to this point.

Individual frozen soufflés can be baked from the frozen but they will take a few minutes longer to cook.

Plate of Dereenatra Charcuterie with Gherkins and Caper berries

A selection of Frank Krawczyk’s salami and cured meats eg. Chorizo, Dereenatra, cured ham, smoked duck breast – see below for details

Allow 4-6 slices of salami per person depending on size.

1-2 gherkins per person
1-2 caper berries per person - optional
3-4 olives per person
2-3 rocket leaves 
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Crusty Foccacia or Ciabbatta

Arrange a selection of salami and cured meat for each person on a large white plate.
Garnish with gherkins and caper berries, add a few olives and three or four rocket leaves. 
Drizzle with Extra Virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

“DERREENATRA DRY” is a 100% free range or organic pork dry smoked sausage containing brandy, garlic and other spices that was originally styled on the polish Krakow sausage but has undergone several incarnations before becoming the product that won silver at the GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2002 in London.

“SCHULL SALAMI” like the above is made from 100% free range or organic pork with red wine, sweet paprika and other spices and is influenced by a Hungarian recipe that was in Frank’s family.

“MIZEN CHORIZO” came about from several experiments at trying to reproduce a traditionally Spanish chorizo before ending up using similar methods that are employed in producing the Derreenatra Dry. This is also produced from 100% free range or organic pork.

“PEPPER & CARAWAY SALAMI” and its companion “APPLE & CIDER SALAMI” are the most recent additions to the range are much more subtle in their respective flavours and spiciness than the three predecessors above and were developed as a response from customers for something less intense in flavour. Also 100% free range or organic pork.

“DUNMANUS CASTLE” is a 100% beef salami influenced by the Italian Genoise salami that came into being as a result of requests by those whose religious persuasion proscribes the eating of pork and pork based products to make something that they could eat. It contains red wine and pepper as the main flavouring agents and is produced from either beef produced by Tim McCarthy a local Schull butcher or where available from West Cork organic beef.

“BOLG DOIRE” Smoked West Cork Pancetta had its genesis at around the same time as the first two salamis and was an attempt at producing a Danish speciality known as Rolle Polse which I am told means rolled belly. However, it was not made clear in the recipe that the Danish product was a salt and spices cured un-smoked cooked and pressed product. Consequently it is dry cured with Frank’s adaptation of the spice mix following on with a period of smoking before finally maturing for a minimum of six weeks resulting in the product that also won silver at the GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2002 in London.

“SMOKED BALLYDEHOB DUCK BREAST” is styled on a Lithuanian method of preserving either goose or duck. This is achieved by first curing in salt and spices the double breast of either the goose or duck before wrapping it in skin and tying it into a sausage shape and smoking it. It is then matured for at least two months before use. It is best described as like prosciutto of duck or goose and does not require cooking, only a sharp thin bladed knife is required to slice. Local Skeahanore ducks reared by Helena and Eugene Hickey near Ballydehob, West Cork are used.

Euro-toques Awards

The Euro-Toques Association of Chefs was founded in 1986 by Pierre Romeyer who then owned La Maison de Bouche restaurant in Brussels. Since then Euro-Toques has gone from strength to strength and now has 176 members in Ireland and 3,000 members, mainly chefs, all over Europe. They are primarily concerned with supporting the producers of the best foods in Europe and thus maintaining the fine quality and flavour of their ingredients.

 They also try to maintain the traditional dishes and traditional ways of preparing and cooking foods of the regions of Europe and to facilitate a rapport between chefs of different countries. They are the only organisation of chefs which is recognised by the European Union as a lobbying group of European Food Legislation. Euro-Toques is not an elitist organisation, members adhere to a code of honour stating that they must promote the use of fine quality food and avoid convenience foods or products that have been adulterated or are undesirable for consumption. Each national branch organises activities for their members, such as mushroom hunts, visits to food producers, informative talks, food fairs etc. Their French office runs the Fete de la Cuisine, whereby members offer a special menu using traditional dishes and beverages of that region. It will be held on 22nd May this year. 

For the past 3 years Euro-Toques in Ireland have presented Euro-Toques awards of Merit. This years winners were R&A Bailey, Cashel Blue and Crozier Cheese, Midleton Markets, West Cork Natural Cheese and Frank Krawczyk West Cork Salamis.

The Euro-Toque award of merit went to R&A Bailey and Co. The award was also given to Baileys in recognition of their continuous support of Euro-Toques Ireland, enabling them to actively lobby for the protection of quality producers and chefs at National and European level. It was presented posthumously to David Dand who conceived and launched a unique, natural, Irish liqueur which is now a world leader in its field.

Baileys is a phenomenal Irish success story. It is the single most successful new spirit brand to be introduced anywhere in the world in the last 30 years and now ranks 9th in the international league of top selling global spirit brands.

There are over 400 people employed directly in the manufacture, marketing and sales of Baileys in Ireland. 1,400 Irish farmers supply the 50 million gallons of milk used annually in producing cream for the liqueur. Baileys accounts for 6% of all food and drink exports from Ireland 

The 2nd award went to Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue Cheese, ”for the development of excellent cheese products, which are consistent in their qualities, true to their locality, of superb flavour and unique in style”. 

Grubbs created the first Irish Farmhouse blue cheese from cow’s milk and now the first Irish Blue Sheep’s Milk Cheese – Crozier Blue.

In the late 1970’s Louis Grubb took over his father’s farm with his wife Jane and started to build up a closed herd of pedigree Friesians. But Louis and Jane had a sense of impending doom, there were butter mountains beginning to pile up, too much milk sloshing around the EU and talk of quotas. Louis explains ”We didn’t want to sell the milk to the local creamery who would turn it into a low price commodity product. So, my wife, who had been a chef, said ‘we’ve done the heavy work’ (meaning holding the herd) – ‘now we have to make something from the milk ourselves”.

The first thing they thought of was ice-cream, but that needed expensive cold storage and transportation. A few other farms had successfully turned to farmhouse cheese- making i.e Milleens and Gubeen. There was a good Irish farmhouse cheddar maker too, but to their knowledge, no existing Irish Blue cheese-maker. Louis researched and Jane started experimenting and by 1984 Cashel Blue had arrived.

Castle Blue is a mild, moist blue cheese. Their farm ‘Beechmount’ is near Cashel. The terrain is rolling hills and the soil is heavy, giving rich pasture in the warm months which, says Louis “turns into a quagmire of mud under the cows hooves in the winter.

The milk goes into 500 gallon vats along with the vegetarian starter culture and the blue mould ‘penicillium roquefort’. The temperature is gradually raised until the curds begin to form. These curds are cut by hand, drained and carefully filled into moulds with strictly no pressing- so the cheese retains moisture. They are then pierced to allow some air in for the veins to start developing. By six weeks the flavour has started to develop and by twelve weeks Cashel Blue is fully flavoured.

When young, the cheese is firm and relatively moist with a fresh and slightly sharp flavour. As it ages, it develops a melt in the mouth creaminess and a rounder, milder flavour. Cashel Blue can be matured for up to six months. The very best cheese is made from April to October when the cows are out to pasture, but it is always excellent throughout the year. It is also a favourite for cooking since it melts smoothly and retains its depth in flavour.

The most recent addition to their product line is the delectable Crozier Blue made from sheeps milk by Louis Grubb’s nephew, Henry Clifton Brown from the milk of 200 ewes on his parents’ sheep and tillage farm at Ballinamona, Cashel. He delivers the fresh milk to the Cashel Blue Cheese plant, where it is made into cheese. Fortunately milk quotas do not apply to sheep’s milk production. Both cheeses have deservedly won many other prizes also. 

Another award went to a project very close to home - Midleton Farmers Market “for foresight in trying to preserve the small farmers and producers in Ireland by offering them a direct market for their produce. Also for having paved the way for the revival of similar food markets in towns and cities across Ireland”.

In June 1999, when John Potter Cogan and the other members of the Agri- Business sub-committee of Midleton Chamber of Commerce perceived that the local farming community were facing serious problems. After considerable research they decided that a local food market would be beneficial not only for the farmers and food producers, but also the consumers and the local business community.

The initial committee included members of the town council of Midleton, members of the local business community, a food scientist, and myself.

The aim was to provide an outlet for local farmers and food producers to sell directly to the public who seek highest quality, fresh, as far as possible local, food in season at a fair price.

This market which operates from 9am – 2pm on Saturdays, has gone from strength to strength since its initiation on Whit Weekend in June 2000.

Stalls cover a diverse range of local produce from organic meats and vegetables, homemade breads and cake, local chocolates, farmhouse cheese, pickles, preserves, smoked fish and salamis. Country Markets also take a stand there.

“Many of the stall-holders freely admit that were it not for the market they would no be longer be in business. They are a wonderful example to us all and have paved the way for the revival of similar food markets in towns and cities in Ireland”.

Next week we will feature the other award winners.
Contact details on all producers
R&A Bailey Ltd, Nangor House, Nangor Rd, Western Ind Est, Dublin 12.
Tel: 01 4051200 Website:

Cashel Blue and Crozier Cheese, Beechmount, Fethard, Co.Tipperary 
Tel: 052 311511 E-Mail:

Midleton Farmers Market, Midleton, Co.Cork
Every Saturday morning 9:00am – 2:00pm 

Euro-Toques Ireland, 11 Bridge Court, City Gate, St Augustine St. Dublin 8.

Chicory with Cashel Blue, dried Cranberries and Pecan nuts

Serves 10 -12 as a canapé or 4 as a starter

1 head of chicory 
30g (1oz) dried cranberries
40g (1½oz) walnuts or pecans roughly chopped.
50g (2oz) Cashel Blue, roughly crumbled.
A few sprigs of watercress
Walnut oil (optional)

Separate the chicory leaves and carefully arrange on a serving plate. Mix the dried cranberries, chopped nuts and crumbled cheese gently together – careful or it will be a mess.

Spoon a little filling into each leaf, they can be covered and chilled for 2 or 3 hours.
Garnish each one with a sprig of watercress.
Just before serving drizzle with a few drops of walnut oil if available.

Note: This also make a delicious light first course for a dinner party or a delectable accompaniment to a cold roast pheasant.

Baileys Irish Cream Mousse and crushed Praline

Serves 24 

3 large free range eggs
5 ozs (130g) castor sugar
4 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
10 fl ozs (300ml) cream 
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
2 tablespoons cold water

24 Chocolate Cases - optional

2 ozs (55g) unskinned almonds 
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar

½ pint (300ml) whipped cream 

Put the egg yolks with the castor sugar and 4 tablespoons of Baileys Cream into a bowl and whisk either over boiling water or with an electric whisk, until the mixture becomes a stiff mousse and reaches the ‘ribbon’ stage. 

Whip the cream until it reaches a ‘soft peak’ fold gently into the mousse. Sponge 2 teaspoons of cold water in a small bowl, place the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water for a few minutes until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Stir a few spoons of the mousse into the gelatine and then mix gently but thoroughly with the remainder of the mousse. Place the bowl of mousse in the fridge or stir over ice until it begins to set at the sides. Whisk the egg whites until they reach a stiff peak, stir in a few tablespoons into the mousse, fold in the remainder (it is essential for the success of this recipe that the egg whites are folded in, just as the mousse is beginning to set, if it is too set the mousse will be heavy and lumpy!) 

Fill the chocolate cases (if using) about ¾ full, and allow to set in a fridge (cover with cling film, if there are other foods in the fridge so that the mousse does not pick up other flavours). 

Meanwhile make the Praline: 

Put the unpeeled almonds and sugar into a small heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat, do not stir, the sugar will melt and then caramelize. At that stage rotate the pan until the almonds are evenly coated with praline. Pour out onto a lightly oiled tray. When the praline is cold and hard crush it to a coarse powder. (We use a Magimix). 

To serve 

Pipe a rosette of cream onto each mousse, sprinkle about a teaspoon of coarse praline powder over the top.

The Emperor loved Spinach

When you ask people if they like spinach, you rarely get a wishy washy answer, its usually either a spontaneous - I adore spinach or an equally passionate yuk-I loathe spinach followed by graphic and harrowing tales of being forced to eat spinach as a child by a well meaning mama or nanny.

Everyone knew it was chock full of the vital vitamins and minerals, particularly iron essential for healthy growth, after all, look what spinach did for Popeye, he could wipe out all-comers and win the adulation of Olive Oyl after he had glugged down a can of spinach!

Some grown-ups have managed to erase and overcome their childhood experience, but others won’t let a mouthful of spinach pass their lips for the rest of their lives!

Now we hear that all the suffering was for nought - you've guessed it, apparently current wisdom says that too much spinach is positively bad for children - too much oxalic acid apparently - so there you are now!

Well, never mind, as far as I'm concerned a little of what you fancy always does you good, and many French, Italian, Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern cooks rate Spinach as the best leaf vegetable of all. It has certainly stood the test of time. The first reference to it would seem to be in 647. History relates that in this year the great T'ang Emperor T'ai Tsung requested his tributary rulers to send him the best plants their country grew and lo and behold the King of Nepal decided to send him spinach which had recently been introduced to his country from Persia and was causing quite a stir. 

Nowadays, there are two main types of spinach, summer spinach and perpetual spinach, the texture of the former is meltingly tender and has a very much finer flavour, but the latter has the advantage of growing on and on, the more you pick the more it grows. It can also stand extremes of heat and frost and doesn't seem to bolt at the end of the Summer like the annual spinach. However, the flavour is stronger and the texture is coarser. Nonetheless, its a very worthwhile vegetable to grow as a stand-by as indeed are its cousins Swiss Chard and Ruby Chard.

We use spinach not only as a vegetable, but also for soups, torn up in green salads and salade tiede, in savoury tarts and quiches, roulades, frittatas and in a thick Middle Eastern omelette called Kuku. It can also be fun to use blanched leaves to line ramekins for warm mousses or to wrap around rough country pates. The baby spinach leaves now so widely available are perfect for salads and wilted greens.

Pork, Spinach and Herb Terrine

This terrine tastes different every time we make it, depending on the variety of herbs used. It should be highly seasoned before it is cooked otherwise it may taste bland when cold. Use organically produced spinach, meat and herbs if possible.

Serves 20 approx. as a starter, 10 as a main course - makes two loaves of patê

12 lbs (675g) spinach ( weight after large stalk is removed )
2 oz (15g/c stick) butter
8 ozs (225g) medium onion, finely chopped
2 lbs (900g) nice fat streaky pork
8 ozs (225g) pig's liver
6 ozs (170g) smoked lean bacon
6 ozs (170g) unsmoked streaky bacon
2 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
2 free range eggs
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and grated nutmeg to taste
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) approx. freshly chopped herbs - rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram, parsley and chives

2 terrines, 7½ x 5½ inch (19 x 13.5cm) or two 8 x 4 inch (20.5 x 10cm) loaf tins.

Mince the meat. 

String the spinach leaves , wash and drain. Put into a heavy saucepan on a very low heat, season and cover tightly. After a few minutes, stir and replace the lid. As soon as the spinach is cooked (5 – 8 mins. approx.) strain off the copious amount of liquid that spinach releases and press until dry. Chop the spinach, allow to get cold.

Melt the butter on a gentle heat, add the finely chopped onions and sweat until soft but not coloured. Allow to cool.

Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, in a large bowl. Season generously with freshly ground pepper and nutmeg. Fry a tiny piece of the mixture on a pan. Taste and correct seasoning and add salt if necessary. It should taste quite highly seasoned.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.

Divide the mixture between the two terrines or loaf tins, cover with lids or tin foil. 

Bake for 1 hour approx. in the preheated oven. Remove the cover about 15 mins. before the end of cooking time to allow the top to brown slightly. Serve warm or cold. 

Serving Suggestions
When we serve this on a buffet we put the whole terrine on a timber board on a bed of crisp and curly lettuces and salad leaves. Then we tuck in a few sprigs of the herbs included in the terrine, preferably in flower – pale grey sage with purply-blue flowers, little branches of thyme leaves, some tarragon, flat parsley and perhaps a few chive flowers when they are in season. The terrine looks wonderfully appetising as it is, but also looks great wrapped in blanched spinach leaves as an alternative presentation.

For plate presentation put a generous ¼ inch thick slice of terrine on a main course plate, a little green salad of lettuces and tender leaves, a spoonful of both onion marmalade and beetroot relish and perhaps a little cucumber salad.

Serve with warm crusty white bread.


(Greek Spinach and Cheese Pie)
Serves 6-8
1 lb fresh spinach, stalks removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 ozs (110 g) onion, finely chopped
2 scallions with greenery, finely sliced
Salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
2 tablespoons flat parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
4 ozs (110 g) Feta cheese, crumbled 
3 ozs (85 g) Feta and 1 oz (30 g) Parmesan, grated
2 ozs (55 g) Feta and 2 ozs (55 g) Gruyére, grated
1-2 eggs, preferably free range
6-8 sheets of filo pastry
4 ozs (110 g/1 stick) butter, melted 
150 ml (¼ pint/generous ½ cup) olive oil

Wash and chop the spinach. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the finely chopped onion and scallions. Cover and sweat on a low heat until soft but not coloured. Increase the heat, add spinach, toss, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg. Add the chopped parsley and dill and continue to cook for 4 or 5 minutes or until spinach is fully cooked.

Turn into a colander and drain and cool. Mix the crumbled Feta and grated cheese with the beaten egg. Add the well drained spinach, taste and correct seasoning. Purée in a food processor for a smooth texture, otherwise use immediately as a more robust filling. To assemble lay one sheet of filo on the work top, brush with melted butter. Lay a strip of filling about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick along the long side of the sheet of filo, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in from the edge. Roll up and bend into an accordian shape and then roll up into a ‘snail’. Put the ‘snail’ on the buttered baking sheet, continue to make more ‘snails’ with the rest of the filo and filling. Brush each one with egg wash and then with melted butter. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for approx 30 minutes or until crisp and golden. Serve immediately.

Spinach Soup

if water or vegetable stock is used
The trick with these green soups is not to add the greens until the last minute, otherwise it will overcook and you will lose the fresh taste and bright lively colour.
Serves 6-8
2 ozs (55g) butter
5 ozs (140g) potatoes, chopped
4 ozs (110g) onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
15-20 floz (425-600ml) creamy milk (3 cream and : milk)
16-20 floz (450-600ml) home-made chicken stock, vegetable stock or water 
8-12 ozs (225-340g) spinach, chopped (destalked)
Freshly grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons whipped cream (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When it foams add the onions and potatoes and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the boiling stock and milk, bring back to the boil and simmer until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the spinach and boil with the lid off for about 3-5 minutes, until the spinach is tender. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. 

Liquidise, taste and add some freshly grated nutmeg. Serve in warm bowls garnished with a blob of whipped cream and some chopped parsley.

Spinach and Rosemary Soup
Add 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary to the soup just before it is liquidized. Garnish with a blob of whipped cream and some rosemary.
This is an excellent formula for basic green soup – cabbage, kale, watercress, lettuce, fresh herbs, radish leaves, broad bean shoots …….may also be used- be careful not to over cook and keep the lid off to preserve the fresh green colour

Spinach Timbale  
This mousse makes a delicious vegetarian starter, it can also be served as an accompaniment.
Serves 6

Spinach Mousse

8 fl ozs (250ml) whipping cream
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 lb (450g) spinach
2 ozs (55g) butter
3 eggs
salt, freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
For the Mousse: simmer the whipping cream with the garlic for 15 
minutes, then leave to cool.

Wash the spinach and remove the stalks. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large saute pan, until it turns golden brown. Add the spinach and cook rapidly for about 1 minute, stirring all the time. Put it in a colander to drain off any excess juices - leave to cool. Remove the garlic from the cream and discard. Put the cream and spinach into a liquidiser, add the eggs, 2 level teaspoons of salt, ½ teaspoon of pepper and a good grating of fresh nutmeg, liquidise.

Use the rest of the butter to grease 6 x 3 fl ozs (75ml) ramekins lightly and place a round of paper buttered on both sides in the bottom. Divide the mousse between the ramekins and cook in a bain-marie lined with kitchen paper with the water reaching to two-thirds of the height of the ramekins. Cover with greaseproof paper and cook at 160C\325F\regulo 3 for 25-40 minutes - the mousses should feel firm when lightly pressed.

To Serve: Run a knife around the ramekins to free the mousses, then turn out on to the plates and remove the round of paper. Serve immediately. 

Back to basics 

Buttered Spinach

Here are three different methods of cooking spinach.
Serves 4-6

2 lbs (900g) fresh Spinach (with stalks removed)
salt, freshly ground pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg
2-4 ozs (55g-110g/2-1 stick) butter
Remove the stalk from each leaf.

Method 1

Melt a scrap of butter in a wide frying pan, toss in as much spinach as will fit easily, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. As soon as the spinach wilts and becomes tender, strain off excess liquid, increase the heat and add some butter and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve immediately.

Method 2

Wash the spinach and drain. Put into a heavy saucepan on a very low heat, season and cover tightly. After a few minutes, stir and replace the lid. As soon as the spinach is cooked, about 5-8 minutes, drain off the copious amount of liquid that spinach releases and press out until almost dry. Chop or puree in a food processor if you like a smooth texture. Increase the heat, add butter, correct seasoning and add a little freshly grated nutmeg to taste.

Method 3

Cook the spinach uncovered in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until soft, 4-5 minutes approx. Drain and press out all the water. Continue as in method 2. Method 3 produces a brighter coloured spinach.
Creamed Spinach 

Cook spinach either way and drain very well. Chop or puree in a food processor. Add 8-12 ozs (250-350/1-12 cups) cream to the spinach and bring to the boil, stir well and thicken with a little roux if desired, otherwise stir over the heat until the spinach has absorbed most of the cream. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Spinach a la creme may be cooked ahead of time and reheated.

Oeufs Florentine 

A classic and one of the most delicious combinations.
Serve freshly poached free range eggs on top of Spinach a la creme - one of our favourite lunch or supper dishes.


· Real Food Lovers in Dublin 4 have known about The Butler’s Pantry for years – yummy take out food made from carefully sourced seasonal ingredients. Recently it’s founder, Eileen Bergin, won the small business award at the inaugural Bord Bia Food and Drink Industry awards. The company, according to the citation “ demonstrated sustainability, product and marketing innovation and a planned approach to the development of the business”. There are now 3 outlets in the Dublin area. 

53 Mount Merrion Ave., Blackrock, Co. Dublin (01) 2885505
1A Montpellier Place, Temple Hill, Blackrock, Co. Dublin (01) 2843944
97B Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 (01) 6608490

· The 2003-2004 edition of the Clare Good Food Guide was launched recently – designed to enhance the visitor experience by identifying a range of dining options. Don’t forget to look out for local Cratloe sheep’s milk cheese and St. Tola goat’s milk cheese while in the area. Wilde’s Irish Hand made chocolates from Tuamgraney are also worth making a detour for.

For copies of the guide email:
· For an organic experience, stop by Wildways Organic Café, Prince’s St., Cork, recently extended. Now, bigger and better with a wide selection of organic dishes including vegetarian soups, warm sandwiches with scrumptious fillings, organic sweet treats – now serving breakfast for a taste of fresh organic eggs and Gubbeen bacon in the morning. Coffee lovers must try Wildways Guatamalen Organic Fair Trade coffee! Open Mon-Sat 8.00am to 5.30pm Tel: 021 4272199

Summer Picnics

One of the great joys of summer for our entire family are the picnics involving all the generations from Granmas to the youngest great grandchild. They range from simple picnics to elaborate feasts in the woods, by the sea, up the mountains or beside a gurgling stream. We have many favourite picnic spots and more are added every year. We don’t just picnic in the summer we enjoy picnics all year round. I picnic on the train, in planes or cars - everyone laughs when I produce a picnic but they are more than happy to tuck in!

It can be a simple farmhouse cheese sandwich or a little pot of Ballycotton shrimps with some homemade mayonnaise and crusty brown soda bread. We keep a picnic basket packed with the basics all the time then it just takes a few moments to grab a hurricane kettle or fill a flask 

In summer, pack a portable barbecue and a pack of good quality sausages, maybe a few lamb chops, a bottle of sweet chilli sauce and some good mustard. Flat mushrooms sprinkled with sea salt are also delicious sizzling on the barbie. Keep it simple. Bring a few salads, tuck in and have lots of fun. I deeply regret the advertisement sponsored by the Food Safety Promotion Board this year entitled Safe Food. I can’t help feeling that they are whipping up even more hysteria around food safety – within a few short years many people have become paranoid about this subject- even older people seem to have forgotten that the human race has survived before ‘best before dates’ and anti -bacteriological soaps and sprays. Perhaps its because I remember life before electricity that I am more philosophical.

However, I am very careful about the source of the food I eat and feed to my family and friends. I choose fresh local food in season. This is particularly important for picnics or barbecues where food is to be transported in the boot of a car. If you are serving chicken cook it well particularly if it is intensively produced. A cold box is a useful piece of kit, everyone has them.

Favourite picnic food, ours tend to be very simple. We’ll sometimes bring a quiche or frittata, a piece of good smoked salmon and a good salami, a freshly roast chicken or a joint of juicy loin of bacon or Kassler is also good. Chicken Wings with Sweet Chilli Sauce are always enjoyed. A bowl of ripe tomatoes, a crisp cucumber or some cucumber pickle. Always a bowl of homemade mayonnaise, Ballymaloe country relish or a good chutney. We’ll also include a hunk of cheese, maybe a piece of mature cheddar or a wonderful Irish farmhouse cheese in peak condition. If we get some lovely fresh shrimps or prawns from Ballycotton, we’ll cook them quickly in well salted water and serve them with a bowl of dill mayo, lots of crusty soda bread or brown yeast bread and good fresh butter. We all peel our own shrimps

A morsel of fruit cake, banana bread or Auntie Florence’s orange cake or tangy lemon squares are favourites, some bananas and nectarines, or maybe a punnet of strawberries or raspberries in season. A chilled melon and some homemade lemonade and a few beers round off a simple picnic.

Take lots of napkins , a damp cloth in a plastic bag, a tea towel, kitchen paper to wipe off plates and of course a rug to spread out all the goodies on.

Sea salt and a pepper mill are also essential. So pack a picnic, pile everyone into the back of your car and head for the beach - That’s what memories are made of.

Shrimps, Mussels or Prawns on Brown Bread with Mayonnaise

Serves 4
Don't dismiss this very simple starter, freshly cooked prawns, shrimps or mussels are wonderful served on good, fresh bread with a home-made mayonnaise.

6 ozs (170g) freshly cooked prawns, shrimps or mussels
4-8 leaves butterhead or oakleaf or lollo rosso lettuce
3-4 tablesp. home-made mayonnaise
4 slices of buttered Ballymaloe brown yeast bread (thinly sliced and crusts removed)
sprigs of watercress, flat parsley, fennel or garden cress
4 segments of lemon

Put a slice of buttered bread on a plate, arrange 1 or 2 lettuce leaves on top and place 5-6 fat, freshly cooked prawns or equivalent quantity of shrimps or mussels on the lettuce. Pipe a coil of home-made Mayonnaise on the prawns. Garnish with lemon wedges and sprigs of watercress, flat parsley, fennel or garden cress.
Note: If using shrimps use a little of the coral for garnish.

Chicken Wings with Sweet Chilli Sauce

chicken wings
sweet chilli sauce – available from supermarkets and Asian shops
soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds
fresh coriander leaves
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400F°/Gas mark 6

Put the chicken wings into a bowl. Drizzle with sweet chilli sauce and toss well to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook for 30 minutes tossing regularly. Add more sweet chilli sauce and a dash of soy sauce, toss again. Cook for a further 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and lots of fresh coriander and serve.

How to Line a Flan Ring – Darina Allen back to basics recipe
Use either a flan ring or a tin with a removable base. It should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep for a quiche.
Pastry made with 4 ozs (110 g) flour will line a 6-7 inch (15-18 cm) flan ring
Pastry made with 8 ozs (225 g) flour will line a 10-12 inch (25.5-30.5 cm) flan ring

Sprinkle the worktop and rolling pin lightly with flour and roll out the pastry quite thinly, making sure to keep it in a circular shape. The pastry should be 1½-2 inches (4-5 cm) wider than the flan ring. 

Sprinkle the pastry with flour, fold in half and then into quarters and then lift on to the ring. Alternatively, roll the pastry over the pin and unroll into the ring. Gently press the pastry on to the base of the tin, or if you are using a flan ring, onto the baking sheet, and right into the edges. Next press some of the overhanging pastry forward and cut off the edge by pressing it down on to the rim of the tin with your thumb. Tuck the cut edge in against the sides of the tin or flan ring and decorate the resulting rounded edge with a knife or pastry crimpers. Make sure that no pastry sticks to the outer edge or it will be difficult to remove the tin later. Prick the base of the pastry lightly with a fork. 

Ballymaloe Quiche Lorraine 
Serves 6
4 ozs (110g) white flour
Pinch of salt
2-3 ozs (55-85g) butter
1 egg, preferably free range or 4-5 tablesp. cold water or a mixture of egg and water

1 tablespoon olive or sunflower oil
4 ozs (110g) chopped onion
4-6 ozs (110-170g) rindless streaky rashers (green or slightly smoked)
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk, preferably free range
½ pint (300ml) cream or half milk, half cream
3 ozs (85g) freshly grated Cheddar cheese or 2 ozs (55g) finely grated Gruyére cheese
¼ - ½ oz (15g) Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoon chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Flan ring or deep quiche tin, 72 inch (19cm) diameter x 13 inch (3mm) high.

First make the pastry. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs stop.

Take a fork or knife (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect the pastry into a ball with your hands. This way you can judge more accurately if you 
need a few more drops of liquid. Although slightly damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper, shorter crust.

Line the flan ring or quiche tin and bake blind in a moderate oven 1801C/3501F/regulo 4, for 20-25 minutes.

Cut the bacon and cut into 2 inch lardons, blanch and refresh if necessary. Dry on kitchen paper. Heat the oil and crisp off the bacon, remove and sweat the onions gently in the oil and bacon fat for about 10 minutes. Cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, add the cream (or cream and milk), herbs, cheese, bacon and onions and cool. Season and taste.

Pour the filling into the par baked pastry shell and bake in a moderate oven 1801C/3501F/regulo 4,* for 30-40 minutes, or until the centre is just set and the top golden (don't over cook or the filling will be slightly scrambled).

Serve warm with a green salad.

Picnic Scrambled Eggs

Serves 2
Cold scrambled eggs, sounds revolting, but in fact it makes the best sandwiches. It must be made with decent eggs, free range and organic if possible. Add a few chopped chives or perhaps some smoked salmon or mackerel to embellish it further – so easy and one of our favourite picnic foods. Spread on slices of fresh brown soda bread.

4 eggs, preferably free range and organic
2 tablespoons creamy milk
a knob of butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk well until the whites and yolks are well mixed. Put a blob of butter into a cold saucepan, pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously preferably with a flat bottomed wooden spoon over a low heat until the eggs have scrambled into soft creamy curds. Serve immediately on warm plates with lots of hot buttered toast or fresh soda bread.

Scrambled eggs with Smoked Salmon

Some hotels serve it for breakfast but I rather prefer it for supper on a tray beside the fire.
A few seconds before the scrambled egg is fully cooked, add 2-3 tablespoons diced smoked salmon trimmings, stir once or twice, sprinkle with a little chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Mackerel and Dill

Substitute mackerel and dill instead of salmon and parsley in the above recipe.
Note: If the plates are too hot the scrambled egg can actually over cook between the stove and the table.

Lemon Squares
Makes 24

6 ozs (170g) soft butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
6 ozs (170g) self-raising flour
freshly grated rind of 1 lemon
freshly squeezed juice of 1-2 lemons
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar
10 x 7 inch (25.5 x 18 cm) swiss roll tin, well greased

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4. Put the butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well buttered tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen. Meanwhile mix the ingredients for the glaze. As soon as the cake is cooked, pour the glaze over the top, leave to cool. Cut into squares.

Remove the biscuits from the tin if keeping for a few days unless the tin is coated with teflon.

Top Tips

This is a busy weekend on the Irish Show Scene – so pack the picnic and head off- a great family day out -

Sunday 3rd – Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, Claremorris, Co Mayo.

Monday 4th – Tinahely, Co Wicklow, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, Bonniconlon, Co Mayo.
BIM have recipes and suggestions for ‘Fish al Fresco’ 

Slow Food Annual Summer Picnic takes place on Sunday 10th August – for information on joining Slow Food and booking a place on the picnic – contact Meredith Benke at 087-9613600 Clodagh McKenna at 038-33929 

Bord Bia recently announced the winners of the inaugural ‘Ireland the Food Island Food and Drink Industry Awards’ - they included The Irish Chocolate Company for their Butlers Chocolate Cafes and The Butlers Pantry in Dublin – for full list of winners


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