ArchiveOctober 2003


When I was a child every house had not one but several ‘cake tins’, usually Jacobs or Huntley & Palmer Christmas biscuit tins, carefully saved long after the original biscuits had been eaten.

There was always ‘something’ in the tin to share with either expected or unexpected guests who dropped in for tea – I still love that tradition and feel uneasy if ‘there’s nothing in the tin’. I adore baking – cakes, biscuits, pastries, buns – I love them all and feel so saddened that so many people have stopped baking simply because they can’t resist the temptation if there’s ‘something in the tin’.

Well look how gorgeous the domestic goddess Nigella Lawson is – voluptuous, curvy and a wizard in the kitchen, she’s made it so cool to make cup cakes again!

Speaking of which, its ages since there has been a book on cakes, but a really serious tome of regional and traditional cakes has just been published by Grub Street Publishing. The author Julie Duff has been baking since she was a child. She became hooked in her grandmother’s kitchen where she spent many happy hours mixing, stirring and no doubt licking the wooden spoon as we did when we were children.

Julie now runs an award winning cake business from her farmhouse in the Vale of Belvoir. She supplies cakes to some of the poshest addresses in the UK – Fortnum and Mason, St Paul’s Cathedral, Selfridges, as well as Henrietta Green’s Food Lovers Fairs. Even though the business has greatly expanded, all her cakes are still made in small batches and ‘stirred with a wooden spoon’. Julie truly knows the importance of using the best ingredients so she uses butter, free range eggs, plump vine fruits and organic stoneground flour from the local mill.

Many of the cakes are made with the recipes her grandmother gave her. So if your Gran or Mum have a super recipe make sure to record it, so many people live with regrets that they left it too late to ask. For those who are guarding secret recipes remember ‘sharing is fun’. Here are a few of the more than 200 tempting and intriguing recipes from Julie Duff’s ‘Cakes’ published by Grub Street Publishing at £25.00.

So if you hanker for the cakes of your childhood and many more, this could be just the book to get you baking again.


Serves 6-8
Julie says this cake has its origin in Ireland and was associated with weekend shooting, fishing or hunting parties.

175 g/6 oz butter
175 g/6 oz caster sugar
3 large eggs 
175 g/6 oz self raising flour 
Grated zest of one large lemon
2 extra tablespoons caster sugar
Juice of one large lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 

Cream the butter and sugar together and add the eggs and flour alternately, a tablespoon at a time, beating in gently. Finally add the lemon zest (reserving the remainder of the lemon) and pour the cake mixture into a greased and lined 900 g/ 2 Ib loaf tin. 
Bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 50 to 60 minutes, until golden brown and firm to touch. A skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. 

Meanwhile strain the juice of the lemon and add it to the 2 tablespoons of caster sugar in a small saucepan. Boil the mixture together for 2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. 
Remove the cake from the oven and leaving it in the tin, prick the surface lightly with a fine skewer. 
Pour the lemon syrup over the cake, leaving it to become cold before turning onto a plate to serve. 

HARVEST CAKE (Teisen y Cynhaeaf)

Serves 8
The Welsh variation of a Harvest Cake is made with apples, sultanas and cinnamon and closely resembles the Irish Apple Cake which is baked with a layer of fruit through the centre. 

175 g/6 oz butter 
175 g/6 oz soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
225g/8 oz self raising flour
½ teaspoon mixed spice 
½ teaspoon cinnamon
450 g/1 Ib cooking apples 
50 g/2 oz sultanas
50 g/2 oz currants
50 g/2 oz flaked almonds 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 

In a small saucepan melt the butter and soft brown sugar. Allow to cool slightly before beating in the eggs. 
Sift the flour and spices into a bowl. Finally adding the melted ingredients. beat gently together. 
Peel. core and chop the apples into small pieces and mix together with the fruit and almonds. 
Spoon half the cake mixture into a greased and lined 18 cm/7 inch cake tin and top with the fruits and nut mix, finally spooning the remaining cake mix over the top. 
Smooth the cake gently and place in the centre of the oven for about an hour or until firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly. 
Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to become completely cold. 


Serves 6-8
This cake is absolutely delicious and a great way to use up windfalls.
Baked with apple slices sandwiched in the centre, it also makes an excellent pudding served with cream. This would originally have been baked in a bastable.

225 g/8 oz self raising flour 
115 g/4 oz butter
1 egg, lightly beaten 
115 g/4 oz caster sugar 
75 ml/3 fl oz milk 
2 cooking apples, peeled and sliced
½ teaspoon cinnamon 
50 g/2 oz soft brown sugar
A little beaten egg
1 level tablespoon caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 
Place the flour and butter in a large bowl and rub in to form a breadcrumb texture. Add the beaten egg, sugar and milk and mix with a pallet knife to form a soft dough. 
Turn onto a floured board and cut the dough in half. Place one half into a deep flan dish, pressing down with floured fingers to cover the surface of the dish. 

Spread the apple slices evenly over the base and sprinkle with cinnamon and the soft brown sugar. 
Carefully roll the second half of the dough into a circle roughly the same size as the dish, place on top of the apples, pressing the edges together and cutting several slits in the top of the cake. 
Brush with a little of the beaten egg and sprinkle with the tablespoon of caster sugar. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until well risen and golden brown. 


Serves 8
Now that I am ‘a little older’ I absolutely adore Caraway Seed Cake. I hated it with a passion as a child, so maybe its an adult flavour as Julie suggests in her book, for many people it’s a forgotten flavour which they might like to try again.

175 g/6 oz butter
175 g/6 oz soft pale brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten 
225 g /8 oz self raising flour 
50 g/2 oz ground almonds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
50 g/2 oz sultanas
Preheat the oven to 160°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, folding in the eggs and flour a little at a time until well mixed together. 

Stir in the ground almonds, caraway seeds and the sultanas and spoon the mixture into an 18 cm/7 inch round cake tin. 
Place the cake in the centre of the oven and bake for about I hour or until the cake is golden brown and feels firm when pressed lightly. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out cleanly when the cake is cooked. 
Turn onto a wire rack to cool before serving. 
Back to Top
Irish Whiskey Cake
Serves 10 
You might like to try this as an alternative Christmas Cake.

225 g/8 oz sultanas 
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey (see Top Tips) 
Grated rind of I large lemon 175 g/6 oz butter 
175 g/6 oz pale brown sugar
225 g/8 oz self raising flour
3 eggs. lightly beaten 
Juice of large lemon
225 g/8 oz icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. 

Put the sultanas into a small bowl, add finely grated rind of the lemon stirring well and reserving the lemon for juicing. Spoon over the whiskey and stir again. Cover and leave to stand overnight. 
Next day cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add the eggs and flour alternately, beating thoroughly between each addition. Fold the whiskey fruit into the mixture gently, using a metal spoon. 
Spoon the cake mixture into a 18 cm/7 inch greased and lined round cake tin and bake in the oven for approximately I hour or until the cake is well-risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. 
Cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning onto a wire rack. 
When cold, juice the lemon and mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to form a thick pouring consistency and drizzle it gently over the top of the cake. Leave to set before serving. 
Back to Top
Foolproof Food

Lana Pringle’s Barm Brack

Lana Pringle’s delicious tea brack keeps wonderfully well in a tin and is traditionally served sliced and buttered. Try it for Hallowe’en.
14 ozs (400g) dried fruit, raisins and sultanas
2 ozs (55g) cherries
2 ozs (55g) chopped candied peel 
4 ozs (110g) soft brown sugar
4 ozs (110g) granulated sugar
15 fl. ozs (450ml) tea
14 ozs (400g) plain white flour
one-eighth teaspoon of baking powder 
1 egg
3 tins 4 x 63 x 3 inches deep (10 x 15 x 7.5cm deep)
or 2 tins 5 x 8 x 2½ inches deep ((25.5 x 38 x 6.5cm deep)

Put raisins and sultanas into a bowl, cover with tea (Lana occasionally uses a mixture of Indian and Lapsang Souchong, but any good strong tea will do) and leave overnight to allow the fruit to plump up. Next day add the halved cherries, chopped candied peel, sugar and egg and mix well. Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in thoroughly. The mixture should be softish, add a little more tea if necessary (2 fl.ozs/50ml). 
Grease the tins with melted butter (Lana uses old tins, heavier gauge than are available nowadays, light modern tins may need to be lined with silicone paper for extra protection.)
Divide the mixture between the three tins and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 40 minutes approx.
Lana bakes her barmbracks in the Aga, after 40 minutes she turns the tins around and gives them a further 10 minutes approx.* Leave in the tins for about 10 minutes and then remove and cool on a wire rack. 
*If you are using two tins the barmbracks will take 1 hour approx.

Hot Tips

Free Choice Consumer Group – next meeting will be held on Thursday 30th October at the Crawford Gallery Café in Cork at 7.30pm and the topic will be ‘Wild Food’ - €5 including tea, coffee and tastings.
Whiskey lovers all over the world are being given the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history, heritage and tradition of whiskey distilling in Ireland through a new website  and are invited to join the Premium Whiskeys of Ireland Club.

The Apple Club at the Traas Apple Farm, Moorstown, Clonmel, Co Tipperary has its own Newsletter and website  -they will have new seasons Irish Cox’s Orange Pippins for sale shortly.


Chillies have been used as food for more than 7000 years. They are native to Mexico and were introduced to Europe after Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World in 1492. They were subsequently spread to Asia and Africa by the Spaniards and Portuguese.

Despite their name, chillies are not cool but hot in varying degrees – they vary in intensity from a barely discernible prickle to a mouth searing pain that can render the courageous diner speechless and virtually incapacitated. I’ve seen grown men who pride themselves in being macho, struggle to conceal their extreme discomfort with eyes bulging as they cough and splutter.

But don’t let this discourage you for experimenting, nothing adds zing to your food more than a scrap of jalapeno or a sprinkling of serrano chilli. At first even a little chilli seems very hot but quite quickly you’ll be craving more and your palate will begin to differentiate between the different varieties. An Anaheim chilli is quite different to a Hungarian wax or a Harbanero. The latter, one of the hottest of all chillies is sometimes called Scotch bonnet or Congo pepper. Shaped like little Chinese lanterns, they vary in colour, depending on ripeness from white, to yellow, orange, and finally a fiery red.

Use it sparingly, infusing it in a liquid until it is pleasantly spicy. Chillies possess magical properties for the cook. For novices, its good to be aware that as a general rule, the smaller the chilli, eg the tiny birdeye chilli, the hotter it is likely to be.

Chillies belong to the capsicum family and there are well over 200 varieties all of which vary in size, shape, colour and flavour.

The heat which can vary even between chillies on the same plant, comes from capsaicin, an irritant alkaloid which heightens our sense of taste and when eaten in moderation actually aids digestion. Scientists measure the heat in chilli in Scoville heat units – a sophisticated analytical system based on dilution levels. Bell pepper range from 0-600 while Harbaneros range from 80,000 to 150,000 Scoville heat units.      Back to Top

Red chilli are riper than green so tend to be hotter, though its impossible to generalise. Removing the seeds and white membrane can reduce the heat considerably.

If you are sensitive to capsaicin it would be prudent to wear rubber gloves when handling hot chillies. Even with mild chilli, be aware of washing your hands and beware of rubbing your eyes or any other sensitive part of your body, so easy to do unconsciously. Grilling or roasting intensifies sweetness.

Anaheim Chilli range from very mild to slightly hot so they are great for salads and stews, eg Chilli con carne. Green when under-ripe, red when ripe, widely used in the canning industry. We also use them in Piperonata or Tomato Fondue or raw on pizzas or in salsas.

Serrano and Jalapeno pack a fiery punch – great for roasting, salsas, stews and salads.

Thai Chillies vary in size from the tiny ‘mouse droppings’ to the long thin elongated chillies and can vary 30,000 to 100,000 on the ’Richter scale’ of chilli. Use for Thai and Vietnamese recipes, soups, noodle dishes, Thai beef salads and dipping sauces.

Cayenne Peppers – The several varieties are also fiery hot as the name implies and range from 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville heat units. They are usually dried and sold as chilli flakes or chilli powder. Add a pinch to liven up all manner of foods from scrambled eggs to bean stews.

Harbanero, Scotch Bonnet, Congo Pepper – These pretty harmless looking chilli peppers are among the hottest chillies. Used cautiously they will reveal their wonderfully fruity aroma. Experiment carefully – use in tropical fruit salads, fish, salsa, bean stews and seviche.

Some chillies become identified with the cuisines of a particular country, the fiery jalapeno and serranos are widely used in Mexico and the US. Scotch bonnets are associated with Caribbean cookery, while Cayenne types are best loved in India and the Pacific Rim nations of Asia.

Chilli Con Carne

Serves 6
Buy stewing meat for this dish, beef, veal, mutton or pork, rather than the finest cuts. Underdone left-overs can be used as well. Avoid minced beef. You can use tinned red kidney beans but it is far cheaper to buy them loose and uncooked at a good grocery or delicatessen. Another alternative is to omit the kidney beans from the stew and serve them separately in a salad, or as part of three bean salad.
1-12 lbs (500-725g) meat, cut into 2-: inch (1-2cm) cubes
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small green pepper, seeded, sliced
Colorado sauce, see below
1 tablespoon tomato concentrate (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4-8 ozs (125-250g) red kidney beans, cooked
Salt and brown sugar
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese
Fresh coriander
Tacos (optional) 
Avocado sauce (optional) 
Tomato Salsa

Trim the meat where necessary and brown it in olive oil. Transfer to a casserole. Brown the onion and garlic lightly in the same oil, and scrape on to the meat. Add the pepper, sauce and just enough water to cover the ingredients. Cover tightly and leave to stew until cooked, keeping the heat low. Check the liquid occasionally. By the end of the cooking time it should have reduced to a brownish red thick sauce. If it reduces too soon 

because the lid of the pan is not a tight fit, or you had the heat too high, top it up with water.

Last of all add the tomato if used, the cumin, the kidney beans if you are not serving them separately as a salad, with salt and brown sugar to taste. Simmer for a further 15 minutes, put a blob of sour cream on top of the chilli con carne, sprinkle with grated cheese. Garnish with fresh coriander, and serve with Tacos and optional Avocado and Tomato Salsa.

Colorado Sauce

A delicious sauce to use when making chilli con carne, rather than the chilli powder sold in small bottles. It can also be used as a marinading mixture.
4-5 large fresh chillies (or 6-7 small dried chillies)
1 large red pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic

If the chillies are dried, soak them in a little cold water for an hour, then slit them and wash out the seeds. Discard the stalks, do the same with the large pepper. Puree with the other ingredients, using the soaking water if necessary to moisten the vegetables. If you use fresh chillis, you might need a tablespoon or two of cold water. Season with salt. You can keep this sauce in a covered container in the fridge for two days, or you can freeze it.

Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Serves 4 approx.
Now that Tomato Salsa is becoming more familiar one can occasionally stray away from the Classic Mexican version.

1 avocado, peeled and chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon spring onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 chilli peppers, chopped
3-2 teaspoon lightly roasted cumin seeds, crushed
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh coriander
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly squeezed lime juice - about 2 lime
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, taste and correct the seasoning.

Spiced Chilli Fruit Salad

Serves 8
The mixture of fruit can be varied, depending on season and availability
1-2 ripe mangoes
1 small pineapple
8 lychees
8 physalis, optional
2 bananas
2 passion fruit
1 pint sugar
1 pint (600ml) cold water
1 vanilla pod
1 harbanero chilli
3 star anise
zest and juice of 2 limes
Cold water

Put the sugar, cold water, vanilla pod, chilli and star anise in a stainless steel saucepan. Bring slowly to the boil.
Allow to cool and add the finely grated lime zest and freshly squeezed juice.
Meanwhile, peel and slice the mango into a bowl. 
Peel the pineapple, cut into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, remove the core and cut into chunks, add to the mango.
Peel and stone the lychees if available.
Peel and slice the bananas into the bowl also.
Cut the passion fruit in half, scoop out the seeds and add to the fruit.
Peel the papery husk from the physalis if available. 
Pour over the spicy syrup and allow to macerate. Remove the chilli if spicy enough.
Taste and add more lime juice if necessary.

Thai Beef Salad

Serves 6
400g (14oz) sirloin steak. Cut into 2 steaks if more convenient
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
assorted lettuce leaves and salad leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup fresh coriander leaves
½-1 cucumber, sliced

2 red chillies, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice 
2 teaspoons palm sugar or soft brown sugar
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded

Preheat a char grill. Cook the steak (or steaks) for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. They shouldn’t be cooked more then medium rare. Cover the steak and leave to rest on a plate. 

Mix the soy sauce, crushed garlic and freshly squeezed lime juice in a bowl and add the steak, marinate for 10 minutes. Toss lettuce, mint, basil, coriander and cucumber slices in a bowl. Arrange on serving plates.

To making dressing 
Combine the chillies, soy sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and shredded lime leaves. Taste and balance if necessary. 
Just before serving sprinkle some dressing over the salad leaves and toss.
Slice the beef thinly and place on top of salad, serve at once.
Back to Top
Chorizo, New Potato and Roasted Pepper Salad
This lovely lunch dish is from Sybil Kapoor’s new book ‘Taste- a new way to cook’ – a winner in this year’s Glenfiddich Awards (Published by Mitchell Beazley)
Serves 4

2 large Anaheim Chillies
2 red or yellow peppers, quartered and seeded
600g (1lb 5oz) new potatoes, scrubbed clean
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper 
340g (12oz) raw picante chorizo sausage, sliced
4 generous handfuls of rocket

Preheat the grill to its highest setting.
Place the chillies and pepper quarters, skin-side-up, under the grill until they begin to blister and blacken. Turn the chillies regularly. Transfer to a covered bowl. Once cool, peel all the peppers and peel, de-stalk and deseed the chillies. Cut both into broad strips and place in a large bowl.

Drop the potatoes into a pan of boiling water. Cook for 15 minutes, or until tender, drain. Once cool, slice and mix with the onions. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, parsley, 8 tablespoons of oil and seasoning. Divide between the peppers and potatoes.

Briskly fry the chorizo in the remaining tablespoon of oil until crisp and lightly coloured on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper and mix into the potato salad. Toss the rocket into the peppers, mix into the potatoes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Chilli Garlic Spaghetti

Also from Sybil Kapoor
Serves 2

170g (60z) spaghetti
6 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 teasp. chilli flakes
large handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese and lemon wedges (optional)
Drop the spaghetti into a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the packet instructions.

Shortly before the spaghetti is ready, measure the olive oil into a small frying pan. Add the garlic and place over a low heat so that the garlic infuses rather than cooks in the warm (not hot) oil. As soon as the spaghetti is al dente, briefly drain into a colander and return to its saucepan. Immediately increase the heat under the frying pan, add the chilli flakes and fry briskly for a couple of minutes. Take care not to burn the garlic or chilli, otherwise they will taste bitter. Add the parsley and mix into the spaghetti. Add more oil, if necessary.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and lemon wedges if wished.

Foolproof Food

Swede Turnips with Caramelised Onions

The humble swede is wonderfully perked up by being served with soft sweet onions.
Serves 6 approx.

900g (2lb) swede turnips
salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
50-110g (2-4 oz) butter

finely chopped parsley

Peel the turnip thickly in order to remove the thick outside skin. Cut into 2cm (:inch) cubes approx. Cover with water. Add a good pinch of salt, bring to the boil and cook until soft. Strain off the excess water, mash the turnips well and beat in the butter. Taste and season with lots of freshly ground pepper and more salt if necessary. Garnish with parsley and serve piping hot.

Caramelised Onions
450g (1lb) onions, thinly sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Toss in the onions and cook over a low heat for whatever length of time it takes for them to soften and caramelize to a golden brown, 30-45 minutes approx.

Top Tips:
It worth knowing that capsaicin is not water soluble, so gulping water, beer or wine won’t help if your food is too fiery. Milk or yoghurt have a soothing effect and eat lots of rice or bread.

Sheridans Cheesemongers have opened two new shops
Sheridans one of Ireland’s leading specialists in farmhouse cheeses and artisan foods have opened a wine shop above their Galway cheesemongers shop at 14-16 Churchyard Street. A second shop has been opened in Dublin to cater for the increased demand for speciality foods – the new premises is at 7 Pembroke Lane, Dublin 4, just off Waterloo Road.
Have a new 72% cocoa, extra dark Chocaid chocolate, made from 99% FairTrade products (cocoa and sugar) and 100% organic – 15c of price of every bar goes to a hunger relief project of customer’s choice – have a look at website  or  Tel. 021-4773013


There’s a heck of a lot more to pumpkins than Halloween lanterns. As we slide into Autumn they’re just starting to appear in the shops and markets in all their tantalizing glory, what a brilliant selection. Names like acorn, butternut and crook neck squash, bright yellow pattypan, dark green little gem are just that and the little golden sugar pumpkins are also delicious stuffed.
Whats the difference between a pumpkin and a squash? There’s much debate, but I’ve come to the conclusion that if its orange it’s a pumpkin, if its not it’s a squash or something else - it’s a pretty good guideline
From the cook’s point of view the question is which squash/pumpkin is best to use for a particular recipe. True pumpkin aficionados will tell you to look out for flatter varieties with blue-grey, grey, or dark green skin and bright orange interior, the dense flesh will be sweet and flavourful and can be used for sweet or savoury dishes.
For pumpkin pie, you may be shocked to hear that canned pumpkin puree gives the best result and Libby’s brand is universally used in the USA for the Thanksgiving favourite pud.
In French and Italian Markets one can buy a wedge of pumpkin to roast or use for soups or stews. This is a terrific way to start to experiment, soon you’ll be hooked. Whole squash and pumpkins keep for months, they are so visually appealing that its tempting to buy lots to create ‘still lifes’ around the house. Enjoy them while you can but then begin to tuck in and register the difference in flavour as you experiment.

Roast Pumpkin

Serves 4-6
A delicious accompaniment to an Autumn roast.
½ a grey or green skinned pumpkin
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A few sprigs of thyme or rosemary

Deseed the pumpkin. Put it cut side down onto the chopping board and cut into small wedges (cut each wedge crosswise if you prefer), I don’t bother to peel the wedges but do by all means if you like.
Brush the pumpkin with extra virgin olive oil and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tin, sprinkle with thyme leaves or chopped rosemary. Season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast in the pre-heated oven, 20 minutes should be enough but it will depend on the size of the pieces and variety of the pumpkin.

Spicy Pumpkin Crisps

These pumpkin crisps are delicious as a garnish on soup, salads, or as a crunchy topping for risotto.
225g (7½ oz) green skinned pumpkin, deseeded and peeled
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
chilli powder

Sunflower oil for frying
Heat the oil to 160C (325F) in a deep fryer or wok.
Cut very thick slivers off the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler.
Add a few slices at a time and cook until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.
Season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and chilli powder.
Continue until all the pumpkin has been fried.

Chunky Pumpkin and Cannellini Bean Soup

Serves 6
4 tablesp. olive oil
2 large onions, about 12 oz (350g)
2 red peppers, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3lb (1.5kg) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes
2 pints (1.2litres) chicken stock
2 courgettes
7 oz (200g) Cavalo nero or Savoy cabbage
1 can cannellini beans
1 can tomatoes
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Freshly grated parmesan 

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the pepper and garlic, toss, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 5-6 minutes, add the chopped tomatoes and their juice. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cover and cook over a medium heat while you peel and dice the pumpkin or squash.
Add to the saucepan with the hot stock and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until the pumpkin is almost soft. Add the sliced courgettes and the cannellini beans, bring to the boil for a minute or two. Finally add the cavalo nero (2 inch/5cm pieces), or cabbage, cook for just a few minutes more. Taste, correct the seasoning, add a few torn basil leaves if available. Ladle into deep bowls and serve with freshly grated parmesan.
Note: Add more chicken stock if necessary.

Moroccan Pumpkin Tagine

Serves 4
Tagines are the conical terracotta cooking pots of Morocco and also the dishes cooked in them. Any large lidded saucepan can be used for this recipe.
8oz (250g) easy cook couscous
1¼ pints (750ml) boiling chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablesp. harissa paste
2 tablesp. olive oil
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves (to taste), crushed
black seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 teasp. crushed coriander seeds
1 cinnamon stick, broken
4oz (125g) pumpkin, cut into 1 inch (2cm) cubes
4oz (125g) baby carrots, whole
4oz (125g) baby courgettes, green and yellow, halved lengthways
4oz (125g) baby pattypan squash, halved crossways
about 8oz (250g) cooked chickpeas, or canned or
4oz (125g) chick peas and 4oz (125g) blackeye beans
4oz (125g) green beans
salt and freshly ground pepper
a large bunch of coriander

Put the couscous in a pyrex bowl, add enough boiling stock to cover by about 2cm. Stir in the harissa paste. Season with salt. Set aside while you prepare the vegetables. Cover and keep warm in the oven.
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the onions and garlic and sweat until soft. Add the cardamom and freshly roasted ground coriander seeds and cinnamon stick. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes. Add the pumpkin and carrots. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add 8 fl.oz (250ml) chicken stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook for 10 minutes or so. Add the courgettes and chickpeas and blackeye beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Add more chicken stock if necessary so its nice and juicy. Finally the green beans or sugar peas. Bring to the boil and serve immediately.
Fluff up the couscous and transfer to a serving plate. Top with the juicy vegetables and lots of coriander.

Thai Chicken, Pumpkin and Coconut Curry with Sticky Rice

Serves 4
1 bunch fresh coriander (roots intact)
4 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1cm/1/2in piece peeled root ginger, chopped
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
350g/12oz pumpkin, cut into 2.5cm/1in chunks
350g/12oz chicken thigh meat
450ml/3/4 pint chicken stock
400g/14oz can coconut milk
300g/10oz sushi/sticky rice
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (Nam pla)
juice of 1 lime
4 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

Remove the coriander leaves from the bunch of coriander and set aside. Roughly chop the remainder and place in a mini blender with the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilli, oil and curry paste. Whizz until well combined.
Heat a large wok or frying pan. Add the paste and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until cooked through but not coloured. Add the pumpkin and the chicken. Then continue to stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes until just beginning to colour. Pour the stock and coconut milk, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the pumpkin is completely tender but still holding its shape.

Meanwhile, make the sticky rice. Rinse the rice thoroughly and place in a pan with 600ml/1 pint of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes until all the water is completely absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave the rice to steam for at least another 4-6 minutes until tender – it should sit happily for up to 20 minutes with the lid on.      Back to Top

To serve
Stir in the Thai fish sauce and lime juice into the curry. Divide the rice among bowls and ladle in the curry. Garnish with the reserved coriander leaves and the spring onions.

Temple House Pumpkin Bread

6 ozs (170 g) butter
1 lb (450 g) sugar
4 eggs, preferably free-range
1 lb (450 g) pureed pumpkin*
1 lb (450 g) flour
¼ pint (150 ml) water
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 ozs (110 g) chopped walnuts
4 ozs (110 g) raisins

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Sieve the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices and add to the pumpkin mixture. Add the eggs, pumpkin and water. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Grease and flour 3 x 1 lb (450 g) loaf tins and pour in the mixture. Bake for 1 hour at 180°C/350°F/regulo 4. 

This bread freezes well.
* Puree the pumpkin by cooking it in a saucepan with just a little water until soft, then mash or liquidise.

Top Tip

Pumpkins are so easy to grow, too late this year of course but you may want to save some seeds from a favourite pumpkin to plant next year.

Pumpkin seeds are nutritious and delicious toasted- Remove all the seeds from the flesh and rinse under cold water. Lay a single layer on a baking tray and sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt. Put into the oven at 1201 C for 30-40 minutes, the seeds should be nice and crunchy. Serve as a snack or nibble.

Add some pumpkin sees to your favourite breakfast cereal or scatter over a lunchtime salad

Pumpkin oil, is dark olive green and deliciously nutty – try it on salads or drizzled over vegetables – it soon becomcs addictive – available from good food shops and delis.

Hot Chocolate is Rosalie Grace’s little shop tucked away in Cork’s Castle Street. Here you can have delicious hot chocolate made from Michel Chuizel chocolate drops or an Illy Coffee in several flavours, or buy the chocolate drops to make your hot chocolate at home. Rosalie stocks a range of luscious Michel Chuizel Chocolates – pralines, truffles…. and will make up gifts for personal or corporate use, weddings and other special occasions using lovely ribbons which she imports from France. Due to demand she now has a full range of these ribbons which one can buy for weddings etc. to match with any colour scheme.
Hot Chocolate, 13 Castle Street, Cork. Tel. 021-4251593 

Growing Awareness Workshops in West Cork - New series of workshops coming up soon
12th October - Native Tree Seed Collection and Propagation at Gortamucklagh, Skibbereen. Tel. Paul 028-23742.
19th October – Traditional Vegetable Growing, Glebe Gardens, Baltimore. Tel. Jean 028-20232
26th October – Seaweed Day at Turk Head. Tel Christine 028-38379      Back to Top

British Cheese Awards

Congratulations to all the Irish Cheesemakers who were winners in the recent British Cheese Awards – Glenilen, St Tola, Carrigbyrne, Ardrahan, Durrus, Gubbeen, Dingle Peninsula, Wexford Creamery, Oisin, Carrigaline, Crozier Blue.

Ballygowan, and the irish guild of food writers awards

Silke Cropp’s Corleggy Cheeses from Co Cavan were chosen as the Supreme winner of the 2003 Ballygowan / Irish Food Writers Guild Food Awards, which took place on Tuesday 23rd September at L’Ecrivain Restaurant, Dublin. 

The Awards, sponsored by Ballygowan, are now in their tenth year and have become one of the most anticipated dates in the Foodie calendar. The Awards are unique, in the sense that no one can enter; producers are nominated and judged for their quality, excellence and consistency by the Irish Food Writers Guild. 

There were four finalists –Belvelly Smokehouse, Cobh Co. Cork,

O’Doherty’s Butchers, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, McGeoughs Butchers, Oughterard, Co Galway and Corleggy Cheese.

Another award for Belvelly Smokehouse, Cobh, Co Cork, for its range of smoked and cured wild and organically cultivated fish and shellfish
For the past 20 years down in Belvelly Smokehouse in Cobh, Co Cork, Frank Hederman has cured and smoked naturally only locally caught wild fish, or organically cultivated fish and shellfish. What he has on offer at any given time depends on local catches and seasonal availability. His produce, known and appreciated by discerning chefs, includes salmon, mackerel, eels, haddock, halibut, kippers, roll mop herrings, mussels, and trout. He makes pates and, occasionally, in season (when the wind is in the right direction) offers the most wonderful smoked sprats which we tasted at the Awards Lunch.

Frank is passionate about good food and forthright about the difficulties small producers face. He has been in the business long enough to develop a sound base of wholesale and corporate business without neglecting the ordinary consumer who may buy the products from Frank's own retail shop in the English Market in Cork, order them on the web through his e-mail service, or in specialist shops in Ireland, Spain, Italy and the UK, in Fortnum & Mason's in London and Rick Stein's in Cornwall, and at food markets. He has long been known as a dedicated worker in supporting, promoting and selling at the farmers and producers markets all over this country and beyond. His fish has been sold at Midleton Farmers Market right from the beginning; he was also in at the start of Temple Bar, of Macreddin, of Dun Laoghaire, and of the newest-outside the walls of Kilkenny Castle. Frank was one of a group of artisan producers who set out to reclaim an old right-successfully I'm glad to report.    Back to Top

Another winner was Pat O'Doherty, O Doherty's Butchers for his Oak-smoked Irish Lamb
O'Doherty's have been a respected family butcher in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, for over 40 years. The shop in down-town Enniskillen is always busy and always an object lesson in how to attract customers. Customers get a friendly welcome and are offered a balanced mix of traditional cuts of meat and innovative products. They have long been well known for their Aberdeen Angus beef and for venison and other game in season. O'Doherty's have won numerous awards for their sausages. 

Some years back, Pat set out on a mission: to recreate real, traditional dry-cured bacon, naturally matured. Working with farmers to increase production of breeds like saddleback, known to produce excellent bacon, the result was a range of dry-smoked bacons, one of which, O'Doherty's Black Bacon, won an Irish Food Writers Guild/Ballygowan Award in 2000.       Back to Top

Since then Pat has continued to expand his innovative range of speciality meat products and this year the guild members were intrigued by a product unique in Ireland-Oak Smoked Irish Lamb-an imaginative spin on a premium local product. 

The lamb is very lightly and slowly smoked for up to 30 hours. The most popular cut in the shop is thin escalopes, which can be speedily flash-grilled or used in stir-fries. Full legs, saddle and rack of lamb, which were served at the Awards Lunch are also available. The product is sold vacuum-packed with a shelf-life of up to 20 days. As well as being on sale in Pat's own shop you may buy his products in Harrods, in Cosgrove's in Sligo, in specialist shops in the UK and Ireland, and they may be ordered via his e-mail service-a service many restaurants avail of.

An award went to James McGeough, McGeoughs Butcher's, Oughterard, Co Galway, for the high quality of his meat and his range of speciality pork, lamb and beef products
After training for four years in Germany, working in both butchers shops and restaurants, James returned with his German wife to the family business in Oughterard-a much loved and highly respected family butchers for many a long year and one of the few craft butchers who still operate their own abattoir-a sparkling, shining place.
James, inspired by his training in Germany, set out to create a range of salamis, sausages, air-dried ham and lamb, pates, and corned beef. He has also won awards at the Irish Craft Butchers sausage, pudding and speciality meat products competitions. 

He makes a delicious air-dried and smoked ham, an innovative air-dried and smoked lamb made from a nine-month old Connemara lamb (which means it has lots of flavour). His salamis have an Irish spin, one being flavoured with rum and one with whiskey. He makes excellent pates and corned beef; his sausages include traditional pork (plain and smoked), Chilly-Willie frankfurter-style and Connemara lamb and bacon, which were also served. 

His products are used by discerning chefs, are on sale in the shop, and may be ordered by e-mail. McGregor’s is a shining example of what a modern craft butcher should be. He has the ambition, dedication, and ability to move with the times, offering a range of high quality ready-to-eat speciality meat products, alongside beautifully matured and prepared traditional cuts of meat from carefully sourced animals supplied by local farmers.     Back to Top

And the supreme award went to Corleggy Cheeses, Belturbet, Co Cavan for their range of cheeses and support of the Producer’s Market Movement

Silke Cropp left her native Germany in 1982 to settle in a small holding on the River Erne at Corleggy, near Belturbet, Co Cavan. For over 20 years she has been committed to producing high quality cheeses made from the milk of goats, sheep and cows. Silke is a dedicated member of the Slow Food Movement with which she has been associated since it was set up and is tireless in promoting, in a practical way, the farmers and small producers markets. 
Over the years she has developed a range of cheeses, all made using raw milk, each with a distinct personality and a superb flavour; and all are beautifully presented-reflecting her original career as an art teacher. Corleggy is her flagship cheese, a natural rind, hard goats cheese. Her Drumlin range is made from cows milk and, as well as producing traditional and smoked versions, there are a number of flavoured cheeses in the Drumlin range: garlic and red pepper, and cumin and green peppercorn. The latest addition to her range and one that was especially popular at the Guild's tasting meeting for these awards is a sheeps milk cheese with a wonderful texture and flavour.

What started as an experiment to use excess milk from her goats has grown into a successful artisan food business and she now makes 8 tonnes of cheese a year. The winner of many specialist cheese awards Silke's cheeses are on sale in Neal's Yard in London and are exported to Europe and the US. They are available throughout Ireland, wholesale, in specialist shops, and at many Farmers and Small Producer Markets including Temple Bar and Macreddin and may also be ordered on the web though her e-mail service.

Speaking at the Awards, Mary Flynn, Marketing Manager of Ballygowan, commented; “ Over our long association with the Irish Food Awards, we have been privileged to experience some of the most innovative foods which have been brought to the Irish market. Through dedication and care, more and more Irish producers are providing us with outstanding produce, which are being sold locally, nationally and internationally”. 

Mary Flynn and Irish Food Writers Guild Chairwoman, Nuala Cullen, presented the Awards and Derry Clarke, award winning chef and patron of L’Ecrivain, prepared a truly delicious six-course lunch for guests incorporating all of the winning produce, plus an apple dessert plate with Penny Lange’s delicious apples from her orchard in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow.      Back to Top

Silke Cropp, Corleggy Cheeses, Portruan, Belturbet, Co Cavan. 
Tel: 049 952 2930
Frank Hederman, Belvelly Smoke House, Cobh, East Cork, Co Cork  Tel: 0214 811089
Pat O’Doherty, O’Doherty’s Butchers, Belmore Street, Enniskillen. Tel: 048 66322152
James McGeough, McGeough’s Butchers, Camp Street, Oughterard, Co Galway. Tel: 091 552 351

Here are a couple of the dishes which were served at the Awards Lunch at L'Ecrivain

Sweet Potato and Lemongrass Soup, Scented with Coconut

From L’Ecrivain Restaurant
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 sachet creamed coconut, made up as instructed on the packet
1 pint chicken stock
2 stems of lemongrass, cut into one inch pieces
25g butter

Sweat the onion and garlic in butter until soft.
Peel potatoes and cut into cubes
Add potatoes and lemongrass which has been bruised with a knife.
Add chicken stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer
Simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potato is soft
Remove lemongrass from the soup and liquidise until smooth
Pass through a fine sieve and return to the heat
Add creamed coconut, stir and serve.

James Mc Geough’s Lamb & Bacon Sausage, Whipped Potato & Celeriac, Pimento Chutney, Bordelaise Gravy

4 Lamb & Bacon Sausages
Potato & Celeriac Whipped Potato:
1 small rooster potato, peeled & quartered
1 small celeriac, peel & chop
1 shallot, finely diced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
25g/1oz butter
¼/150ml cream

Pimento Chutney:
4 red peppers
2 shallots
2 cloves garlic
3 whole cloves 
1 sprig thyme
½ cup/3oz/85g brown sugar
4tbsp white wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Bordelaise Sauce:
5 shallots, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
3½ fl. oz /100ml port wine
½ pt / 280ml veal jus

Lamb & Bacon Sausage:
Seal sausage on frying pan, cook on moderate heat until done through.
Whipped Potato & Celeriac:
 Boil potato in salted water until tender, strain & add butter and milk while mashing.
 Sweat the shallot & thyme in butter, add the celeriac, and gently sweat.
 Add the cream, cover with round of greaseproof paper and simmer until tender. 
 Pass through sieve or mouli, add warm smooth potato purée. 
 Season to taste.

Pimento Chutney:
 Finely dice the peppers & shallot. 
 Place in a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients. 
 Bring to the boil. 
 Reduce to a jam-like consistency. 
 Remove from the heat.
 Serve at room temperature.

Bordelaise Sauce:
 Sweat shallot & garlic in saucepan, add port wine, and reduce by half. 
 Add the veal jus & reduce by half again. 
 Ready to serve.

Foolproof Food                    

Apple and Tomato Chutney

This is a basic recipe for chutney, use windfall apples or even some crab apples which are now in season.

Makes 10 x 1 lb (450 g) pots
7-8 lbs (3.2-3.4 kg) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped 
1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped
1 lb (450 g) eating apples, peeled and chopped
3 lbs (1.35 kg) sugar
1½ pints (900 ml) white malt vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 teaspoons all spice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper
8-12 oz (225-340 g) sultanas
Prepare all the ingredients. Put into a large wide stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer steadily and gently until reduced and slightly thick - 1 hour, approx. Pot immediately in sterilized jars. Cover and store in a cool dry place.

Top Tips 
Cahir Farmers Market – was recently launched - open every Saturday morning from 9.00-1.00 in the Granary Craft Centre Car Park on Church Street. Details from Pat O’Brien 086-6482044

Ireland’s First Fair Trade Town - Clonakilty in West Cork has another title to add to its enviable collection – it has just been launched as Ireland’s first ever official Fair Trade Town – fair trade is a means of empowering people in developing countries to improve their own lives and environments through fair prices for their produce.
Skibbereen and Kinsale are also currently working towards achieving Fairtrade Town status.
Fairtrade Exhibtion at Clonakilty Library from 23 September – 7th October  e-mail:  Tel 01-4753515 

Slow Food East Cork presents - VERMONT FARMSTEAD CHEESE
Saturday, October 18th, 3pm at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry
Jeffrey Roberts and Paul Kinstedt from Vermont, who will be spending a week in Ireland as part of an initiative through UCC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to compare farmhouse cheesemaking techniques and collaborate with our Irish 
Cheesemakers, will make a presentation on American farmhouse cheeses. For details contact Meredith Benke 087 961 3600.


Past Letters