ArchiveNovember 2003

Soup, heart-warming comfort food

Nothing beats a bowl of soup when you are craving real nourishment and some heart-warming comfort food. It can be as simple as a potato and onion soup, or a mixture of seasonal vegetables, or a more complex and aromatic broth enriched with chicken or seafood . …
Add some cumin or coriander to a carrot soup and one is transported to Moroccco, mint or tarragon is more reminiscent of the Mediterranean. Some coconut milk or a blob of curry paste will liven up a basic soup and introduce flavours of Thailand or Malaysia.
The addition of spices can introduce the flavours of the East or far East, the Mediterranean, or Morocco depending on your choice of herbs and spices.

Many of the soups we make at Ballymaloe are made on a basic formula that Myrtle Allen devised in the 1970’s when she was perfecting recipes for the first edition of the Ballymaloe Cookboook.

1 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of chopped potato
3 cups of any vegetable of your choice, chopped.
5 cups liquid, generally stock, but occasionally water and sometimes a little creamy milk.

With this formula one can make a myriad of delicious soups, the onion and potatoes are sweated in butter or a mixture of butter and olive oil, this forms the flavour base and the potato also serves to thicken the soup.
One vegetable may be used, eg parsnip or spinach or a mixture of vegetables, eg pea, bean and zucchini.
Apart from the basic seasoning of salt and freshly ground pepper, one can add fresh herbs eg rosemary, or spices or even curry powder.
These basic soups are usually pureed – a liquidiser seems to give the smoothest result but a hand held blender is also a terrifically useful gadget to have in your cupboard. Stand it upright in the pot of soup, press the button and the little blades puree as they whizz around at speed. The texture is not as smooth as a blender but many prefer the slightly more rustic texture.
If you are using a green vegetable for soup, eg cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce or watercress, add it close to the end of cooking and don’t cover the saucepan, otherwise the fresh green colour will be spoiled.
Its also fun to add lots of bits to a soup, either as a garnish or just before you tuck in. Potato crisps and sizzling garlic butter are a delicious addition to a simple potato soup, crispy onions or spicy French fried onions add excitement to a creamy onion soup, whereas Gruyere toasts are the classic accompaniment to French onion soup.
Diced avocado, tortilla crisps, shredded chicken breast and lots of fresh coriander add a Mexican note to a spicy chicken broth.
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is just a perfect foil for a bean or lentil soup. 
Basil or parsley or coriander pesto also add extra oomph to some chunky vegetable soups or even a simple potato soup.
Chilli also hits the spot as does harissa oil, crisp croutons add texture and crunch as does crispy bacon, pancetta or chorizo sausage. The latter release lots of paprika flavoured oil to drizzle over a soup and don’t forget just simple freshly chopped herbs, even parsley, add a fresh note to many soups.
I have included five totally different soups here just to whet your appetite. 

Bacon and Cabbage Soup

Serves 6
55g (2 oz) butter
140g (5 oz) peeled and chopped potatoes, one third inch dice
100g (4 oz) peeled diced onions, one third inch dice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1.1L(2 pints) light chicken stock or vegetable stock
255g (9oz) chopped Savoy cabbage leaves (stalks removed)
50-100ml (2-4 fl oz) cream or creamy milk
225g (½ lb) boiled streaky bacon
2 tablesp. chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions, and turn them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and boil until the potatoes are soft, then add the cabbage and cook with the lid off until the cabbage is cooked. Keep the lid off to retain the green colour. Add the creamy milk. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose both their fresh flavour and colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser or blender, taste and adjust seasoning. 
Just before serving cut the bacon into lardons. Toss quickly in a very little oil in a pan to heat through and get a little crispy. Add to the soup. Sprinkle with some parsley.
Useful tip: If this soup is to be reheated, just bring it to the boil and serve. Prolonged boiling spoils the colour and flavour of green soups.


Cabbage and Caraway Soup

Add 1 –2 teaspoons of freshly crushed caraway to the potato and onion base.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Serves 6 approx.
A little freshly toasted and ground coriander adds a Moroccan flavour to carrot soup.

2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
45g (12oz) butter
110g (4oz) onion, chopped
140g (5oz) potatoes, chopped
560g (13lb) carrots, preferably organic, chopped
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
1.1l (2 pints) Home-made Chicken or Vegetable Stock
150ml (¼ pint) creamy milk, (optional)
A little whipped cream or yogurt
Freshly ground cumin
Coriander leaves

Heat the coriander seed on a frying pan, just for a minute or two until it smells rich and spicy. Grind in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan, when it foams add the chopped vegetables and coriander seed. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar and toss until coated. Cover with a butter paper and a tight fitting lid. Allow to sweat gently on a low heat for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened slightly. Remove the lid. Add the stock, increase the heat and boil until the vegetables are soft. Pour into a liquidiser add and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add a little creamy milk if necessary.
Garnish with a blob of whipped cream, sprinkle with a little ground coriander and coriander leaf.
Note: If you would like a more pronounced coriander flavour, increase the amount of coriander seeds to three teaspoons.

Carrot and Cumin Soup

Substitute cumin for coriander in the recipe above.

Aztec Soup

Serves 6
1 tablespoon oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
900ml (2 pints) home-made chicken stock
3-4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 free-range organic chicken breast (get at Dan Aherne’s stall in Midleton Market)
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 avocado
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 chillis, roasted, peeled and torn into strips
3 cup chopped coriander leaves, 

Garnish: fresh coriander leaves
Strips of corn tortilla chips

Heat the oil in a stainless steel pan, sweat the onion until soft. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another one or two minutes. Add the chicken stock and Tabasco and simmer for five minutes. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken if necessary. Cut it into 3 inch strips. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. * Add the chicken to the simmering broth and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until white all the way through. Add the avocado and tomato dice, half the coriander and the strips of diced roasted chillies. Do not overcook or the avocado will dissolve. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and strips of corn tortilla chips.
To roast the chillies.
Put them either over an open flame or under a grill broiler until quite black and bubbly. Put in a bowl and cover with cling film for five minutes. Peel off the black skins with your fingers. Pull into little strips for garnish.
*can be prepared ahead to this point

White Turnip and Marjoram Soup

Serves 6
I adore white turnips and am always trying to encourage people to eat more of this under-valued vegetable.
White Turnip and marjoram is a wonderful flavour combination. Kohl rabi could also be used here.

55g (2oz) butter
140g (5oz) potatoes, chopped
110g (4oz) onions, diced
340g (12 oz) white turnips, peeled and diced
1L (1: pints) homemade chicken stock 
2 tablespoons chopped annual marjoram
stock and 150ml (3 pint) creamy milk

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add potatoes, onions and white turnips. Turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and 1 tablespoon of marjoram. Bring to the boil and cook until soft. Add the remainder of the marjoram. Liquidise, until smooth and silky. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh flavour. Taste and adjust seasoning.
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Thai Chicken Pumpkin and Coconut Milk Soup
Serves 6-8

8 fl.ozs (800ml/3½ cups) coconut milk
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1 x 4 cm/1½ inch) piece of ginger, peeled and sliced finely
20 fl.ozs (550ml/2½ cups) coconut milk (or more if necessary) We use Chaokah brand.
28 fl.ozs (800ml/3½ cups) home-made chicken stock
6 kaffir lime leaves
300g (11oz) pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and cut in small cubes
2 x chicken breasts- (approx. 400g /14oz) (free-range and organic), sliced finely
2 tablesp. lime juice (or more to taste)
2 tablesp. fish sauce, (Nam pla) or to taste 
2 teasp. palm sugar or brown sugar

To serve:

2 spring onions, sliced at an angle
fresh coriander leaves
1 large red chilli, seeds removed and sliced finely (optional)

Pour 8 fl.ozs (250ml) of the coconut milk off the top of the can, into a medium-sized saucepan, and simmer over medium to high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry paste and cook for 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the ginger, remaining coconut milk, stock, lime leaves and pumpkin and simmer over medium heat until the pumpkin is tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thinly sliced chicken breast to the soup and poach for approximately 2-3 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. Taste and correct seasoning.

To serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the spring onion, coriander leaves and sliced red chillies.

Foolproof food

Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder

A satisfying and filling soup made in a short time. This could be a supper dish if eaten with a few scones and followed by a salad.
Serves: 4-6

2-3 medium potatoes, parboiled for 10 minutes, drained, peeled and finely chopped
450g (1 lb) sweetcorn kernels
30g (1 oz) butter
170g (6 oz) approx. onion, finely chopped
300ml (10 fl oz) home-made chicken stock
300ml (10 fl oz) milk
salt and freshly ground pepper
250ml (8 fl oz) light cream or creamy milk
roasted red pepper dice or crispy bacon dice
sprigs of flat parsley

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onion and potato and sweat until soft but not coloured. Gradually add in the stock and milk, stirring all the time, and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes, add the corn, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover and cook gently for 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Add the cream and heat through gently without boiling.
Serve in hot bowls with a little dice of roasted red pepper or crispy bacon and parsley on top.
Note: If the soup is too thick, thin it out with a little chicken or vegetable stock.
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Hot Tips

Shaken not Stirred – the Ultimate Cocktail Course with Desmond Payne at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 6th December 9.30-2pm -
Learn how to make an exciting repertoire of cocktails including some really cracking ones for Christmas and New Year celebrations. Tel. 021-4646785.  

More honey news – Our local honey producer Michael Woulfe has just come back from the International Honey Show in London having come second in the Honey World Cup Class. The first place went to another Irish beekeeper, James Power from Carrick on Suir – there were entrants from all over the world. Michael also got a couple of thirds and a highly commended The Irish contingent scooped about 40 prizes in all in this prestigious show – so well done to all concerned.

The National Farmhouse Cheese Competition recently took place at Listowel Food Fair - Tom and Lena Biggane’s Clonmore Goats’ Cheese from Charleville was a Gold Medal Winner in the Hard Goats and Sheeps Cheese category. Tel 063-70490.

Denny Breakfast Awards - here are the recently announced winners
Dublin - Pat Halpin Aberdeen Lodge, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 Leinster - Kevin and Catherine Dundon, Dunbrody House, Arthurstown, Co Wexford Munster - John Sheedy, Sheedy's Hotel, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare Connaught - Stella Maris Hotel, Ballycastle, Co Mayo Ulster - Olive Nicholson, Ravenhill Guesthouse, Belfast National Winner: Dunbrody House, Co Wexford

Gastro Pubs

Doesn’t seem so long ago since both Irish and English food was considered to be a joke in gastronomic circles, food writers vied with each other to find the opposite of superlatives to describe the over-cooked soggy vegetables and boring menu choices. In French culinary jargon anything described as a l’Anglaise was usually dull or boiled, a l’Irlandaise referred merely to stew.
Nowadays, however, London is on the cutting edge, one of the top food towns in the world. Eating out in the UK has undergone a quiet revolution in recent years pioneered by the Roux Brothers in the early 80’s, followed by Raymond Blanc, Marco Pierre White, Terence Conran and more recently Jamie Oliver.
That’s the pressurised end of the market where 16 hour days are normal and the only thing that really matters is to be anointed by the Michelin Guide. First one star is bestowed on those with a certain style of food and service, no time to rest on ones laurels, push the boys harder for a second star and then eventually the champagne corks pop when the news of the third star comes through. Three stars are awarded to a very few exemplars approved by the exacting and pernickety Michelin inspectors. Many chefs work their guts out for years without hitting their perceived jackpot. Others just decide that’s not a priority, they would rather concentrate on having a more casual atmosphere and throbbing restaurant packed to its gills every night – most, though not all Michelin starred restaurants are ‘temples of gastronomy, not the sort of places you can romp around in your jeans and ‘cardie’.
Nor surprisingly, many young chefs are opting out of the rat race and have decided to go back to basics. Some chefs who were trained in London have decided to head back to their rural roots to cook good food in pubs, hence the explosion of gastro pubs around Britain. I love this type of food, real honest food, using spanking fresh ingredients. 
Many of these young chefs are passionate about serving local food – the food of that place. Diana Henry in her new book ‘Gastro Pub’, quotes Andrew Perry at the Star in Yorkshire, he looks around his bar ‘ Over there I can see the farmer who raises my beef, the man who shoots a lot of my game and a local cheese-maker. They provide for me; I feed them; their produce is eaten by everyone who lives round here; its the way it should be.’
Gastro pubs are now an established part of the UK food scene, its hard to remember a time when they didn’t exist, yet its only 12 years since the revolution started. The Eagle in Farringdon Road opened its doors serving gutsy Mediterranean food cooked behind the bar. A blackboard listed the day’s menu which leaned towards Spain and Portugal. Its décor was a mixture of junk shop ‘shabby chic’, modern art and mismatched rickety chairs and china. Chefs Mike Belben and David Eyre created a mix of theatre and raw energy. Bottles of green olive oil, bunches of herbs, bowls of lemons - robust pork and bean stews, caldo verde, chunks of manchego and delicious parchment bread and custard tarts – delicious no-nonsense food. 
The influence of the Eagle was astounding. The high spending expense account dining of the 80’s had lost its appeal, so lavishing huge sums of money on food began to seem pretentious and obscene. Regional and peasant food that depended on top quality really fresh ingredients fitted a craving for forgotten flavours.
The trend has continued unabated ever since, even though not all of the gastro pubs have ad hoc interiors and decoration. Many now, like the House in Islington, have bespoke furniture and subtle lighting – the food is not always simple but the influence of the dining pub has spread throughout the country. In London there are many to check out. Diana Henry picked out The Oak in Westbourne Road and The House, but also the best of the rest, not only in London but all over the UK. I was thrilled to see Charles Inkin’s ‘The Felin Fach Griffin’ in Wales singled out because its definitely worth a detour (there are also a few rooms over the pub so try to stay the night).
Northern Ireland and Eire also merit a section – albeit it a little thin. The Ballymore Inn in Ballymore Eustace in Co Kildare and Buggy’s Glencairn Inn in Co Waterford were absolute favourites, but The Cross of Cloyne near us here in Cloyne, Blairs Inn in Blarney, Co Cork, The Purple Heather in Kenmare, Morans on the Weir in Kilcolgan, Co Galway, O’Sullivans in Crookhaven, Mary-Ann’s in Castletownshend, An Sugan in Clonakilty, Kealys in Greencastle, Co Donegal were also singled out among the best. There are lots of others , but my editor says I’m out of space.

The Gastro Pub Cookbook by Diana Henry, published by Mitchell Beazley, €28.40

Conwy mussels with coconut milk and coriander

(From the Felin Fach Griffin)

You can use any mussels for this, and add a little chopped fresh chilli to the shallots if you prefer a spicier version.
Serves 1

knob of butter
1 shallot, finely sliced
450g (1Ib) conwy mussels, in the shell, cleaned
125ml (4floz) coconut milk
salt and pepper
big bunch coriander, roughly chopped
wedges of lime or lemon

Melt the butter in a wide heavy-based pan over a high heat, but ensure the butter does not burn. Add the finely sliced shallot, sweat for about I minute, then add the mussels in I layer -cook in batches if your pan is too small- with about 60ml (4tbsp) water. Cover immediately with a tight-fitting lid.
Cook for 30 seconds, then check to see if any mussels are open. Remove these to a bowl. Replace the lid and cook for another 15 seconds, then check again for opened mussels. Repeat once more, then discard any mussels that remain closed.
Pour the coconut milk into the mussel pan, stir and gently warm through just to simmering point. Check the seasoning.
Return the mussels to the pan, stir and serve immediately in a large bowl, sprinkled with chopped coriander and wedges of lime or lemon on the side.

Chargrilled aubergine salad with mature Ardrahan cheese

(from the Ballymore Inn)
If you can't find mature Ardrahan but want to stick to an Irish cheese, try Milleens or Gubbeen. If you can't get any of these, try Italian taleggio. Serve this salad as soon as you've cooked the vegetables, as their warmth slightly melts 
the cheese. 
Serves 4 

75ml (5tbsp) balsamic vinegar 
2 medium aubergines 
olive oil 
salt and pepper 
10 cherry tomatoes 
2 handfuls of salad leaves - rocket, watercress and lamb's lettuce 
55g (2oz) Ardrahan cheese, cut into small chunks 

For the dressing 

2.5g ( ½ tsp) cumin seeds 
60ml (4tbsp) extra virgin olive 
juice of ½ small lemon 
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped 

To make the dressing, heat the cumin seeds in a dry pan and toast them for about 30 seconds. Grind. Mix with the other dressing ingredients. 
For the salad, in a small saucepan bring the balsamic vinegar to the boil and reduce by half. Set aside. 
Cut the aubergines into 1cm (½ inch) slices. Brush with olive oil and season well. Heat a cast-iron griddle pan and cook the aubergines on both sides until they are coloured and quite soft. Put them in a bowl. 
Halve the tomatoes and place them, cut side down, on the hot pan for 1-2 minutes to slightly soften and heat them. Add these to the aubergine. 
Pour half of the dressing onto the vegetables. Dress the salad leaves with the other half. 
To serve, place the salad leaves on a large plate ( or divide between 4 smaller ones), and top with the aubergines and tomatoes. Scatter the Ardrahan cheese over this and drizzle on the reduced balsamic vinegar. 

Braised rabbit with cider, rosemary and cream

(From the Fox Inn in Dorset)
You can use chicken joints instead of rabbit if you prefer, but if you do you should reduce the cooking time to about 40 minutes. You may have to remove the chicken and reduce the sauce to thicken it, adding it back to warm through. 
Serves 4 

2 rabbits, cut into joints, ie legs removed, ribcage discarded and body chopped into 2 pieces 
sunflower oil, for frying 
unsalted butter, for frying 
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
2 medium onions, thinly sliced 
425ml (¾ pint) Blackthorn cider 
710ml (1¼ pints) double cream 
4 sprigs rosemary 
15ml (1tbsp) wholegrain mustard 
2 bay leaves 
30ml (2tbsp) finely chopped parsley 
salt and pepper to serve 
4 deep-fried bay leaves or 
parsley sprigs (optional) 

In a frying pan, heat a little oil and a knob of butter. Fry the joints of rabbit until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. 
In the same pan, add the garlic and onions and fry until softened but not coloured. Transfer the onion mix to a heavy-bottomed pan, add the rabbit, cover with the cider and cream, then add the rosemary, wholegrain mustard and bay leaves and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down, cover and, stirring occasionally, cook on a very low heat for about I½ hours, or until the rabbit is tender. Just before serving add the parsley, and season to taste. 
Serve a front and back leg and half of the body to each person. Garnish 
with a sprig of parsley or a bay leaf quickly deep-fried in vegetable oil, until dark green but not brown. 

Pear tarte tatin 
(From The House in London)
People get nervous about making tarte tatin and think it's best left to restaurants. In fact, it's pretty simple -you don't even have to make any pastry. Just make sure that the butter and sugar are properly caramelized, but not burnt, and leave the tart for about 5 minutes to cool slightly before turning it out, though don't leave it for longer or it will start to stick. 
Serves 2 

3-4 large, firm William pears, peeled 
8Og (2¾oz) unsalted butter 1OOg (3¾oz) caster sugar 
1 sheet ready-made puff pastry 
To serve 
whipped cream or creme fraiche 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Halve the pears lengthways and remove the cores. Place the butter and sugar in a 18cm (7 inch) pan that can go on the stove-top and in the oven. Lay the pears on top, outer surface down. 
Put the pan on a medium heat to melt the butter and sugar, then cook until the sugar caramelizes -but do not burn! Remove from the heat and allow to cool. 
Rollout the pastry to 6mm (¼ inch) thick. Cut out a 20cm (8 inch) circle and cover the pears, tucking the pastry under at the sides. Bake for about 25 minutes. 
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Turn out onto a plate and serve with whipped cream or creme fraiche. 

Fool proof food

Oven Toasted Cheese

When my children were small this superior toasted cheese often saved the day if they were ravenously hungry. It is made from ingredients one would nearly always have to hand.
Serves 2

2 slices of white bread
1 egg, preferably free range
4 ozs (110g) grated Irish cheddar cheese
2-1 teaspoon English mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper

Butter the bread and place the buttered side down on a baking sheet. Whisk the egg in a bowl with a fork, add the grated cheese and the mustard and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread this mixture onto the slices of bread and bake in a hot oven 230C/450F/regulo 8 for 15 minutes approx. or until puffy and golden on top.
Note: a teaspoon of chopped chives or a tiny dice of crispy bacon is also delicious added to the above.

Top Tips
Bridgestone Guides for 2004 have just been published – 100 Best Restaurants in Ireland and 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland 2004 - 

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group - Champagne Reception and Christmas Dinner on Thursday 27th November at The Crawford Gallery Café – Tickets from Crawford Gallery or Caroline Robinson at 021-7330178

British Cheese Awards - This September the British Cheese Awards celebrated its 10th anniversary – 774 cheeses were entered into the awards, 55 of these were from Ireland - Jeffa Gill’s Durrus won the Eugene Burns trophy for Best Irish Cheese, St Tola, St Killian, Ardrahan and Gubbeen all won medals in their categories.

More Awards – The Georgina Campbell Jameson Guide recognises quality throughout Ireland - here are just a few of the winners -
Jameson International Hospitality Award – Mark Nolan of Dromoland Castle Hotel in Co Clare 
Jameson Restaurant of the Year – The Tannery in Dungarvan
BIM Seafood Restaurant of the Year – The Custom House in Baltimore, Co Cork
IHF Happy Heart Eat Out Award – The Farmgate Café, English Market, Cork


We had a tasting of the new season’s honey at the East Cork Slow Food Convivium recently – it was a fascinating evening where we all learned a prodigious amount about the production of honey. 
Two passionate beekeepers – Claire Chavasse from Cappagh and Michael Woulfe from Midleton shared their experience with us. They are both avid fans of what Claire describes as the weightlifter supreme – the honey bee.
Did you know that the bee weighs about 90 mgs but can carry nectar up to 88.88 % of its body weight. Bees forage up to 2½ miles from the hive and carry the pollen and nectar all the way home. 
The female’s job is to make honey. The drone’s raison d’etre is to mate with the queen and the queen’s job is to lay millions of eggs. The drones are the chaps with the big eyes, the rest are the worker bees. The whole colony works as a team for the benefit of the colony as a whole. 
A bee’s life starts as an egg at the bottom of a cell in the honeycomb. Three days later the egg hatches and a tiny larva appears. After five days the cell is sealed by young house bees with a mixture of pollen and wax. The larva then becomes a pupa. During this time amazing changes take place, it grows legs and wings. After 13 days it gnaws its way through the wax capping. Once her wings are dry its off to work. In a 24 hour cycle, she works for 8 hours, rests for 8 hours and patrols the hive for 8 hours
She’s curious and checks whether the workers are making queen cells. Initially she just cleans cells and lines the inside with a layer of propolis, the busy bee chucks out debris from the hive.
During this period she gobbles up copious quantities of pollen which help her glands to make brood food. She feeds a little honey and pollen to the older larva and as she gets older she progresses to feeding the queen bee and removes her excreta, because unlike the bees the queen does not leave the hive once she has mated. In fact one of the primary tasks of the beekeeper is to ensure that the queen doesn’t leave and take a swarm of bees with her which can happen if the beekeeper doesn’t notice that the bees are making Queen cells.
When the bee is 9 days old wax glands develop. She can then cap over cells as more and more young bees are emerging, she gets pushed out of the centre of the brood nest area and she starts receiving nectar and adds enzyme to it to start the ripening process
When the pollen forager returns with the pollen she adds honey and saliva to the pollen and stores it away in a cell. Pollen is very important, it provides the protein, a small amount of fat, minerals and vitamins, nectar provides carbohydrates She also fans with her wings to keep the hive cool and at 19 days her sting develops, so now she can become a guard bee. At first she guards the entrance to keep wasps, and other robbing bees out, but soon becomes tempted by the great outdoors and sneaks out to make her orientation flight. Beekeepers love watching young bees in Summer imprinting that hive on their mind. 
She collect propolis from Horse chestnuts, cherries, alders and some conifers (the bee glue, also used as a draught proofer). She needs water to dilute the honey. .
In winter the bees cluster together to create heat in the centre of the hive. The bees do a dance which indicates to the other bees where the flowers are – dandelions, apple blossom, heather … The higher the sugar content the livelier the dance. At the ripe old age of six weeks after emergence from the cell in summer time after a singularly productive life, she dies.
Michael Woulfe from Midleton who has been a beekeeper since he came to Midleton in 1960, explained how the season commences in April, continues through May, June and July. By the end of the month the beekeeper hopes to have a reward for all of the labour. Honey production is greatly affected by weather. Honey varies enormously in flavour and texture. Bell heather is very dark, almost ‘port wine’ in colour, sycamore honey, whitethorn flower, apple blossom, white clover, blackberry – they are all unique. Ling heather honey is so thick and unctuous and so dense that it has to be pressed out of the comb.
Michael records the yield of his hives on a daily basis – the record so far was 24lbs of honey in one day in July. Michael is passionate about beekeeping and like so many beekeepers is anxious to pass on his wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to younger beekeepers.
In Ireland we have 1,500 beekeepers, Slovenia, according to Michael, has 10 million. Beekeepers don’t need to be based in the country – London beekeepers record some of the highest yields. 
The new season’s honey is extracted in August.Honey with the best flavour and aroma comes from the combs. 
Beekeepers often keep some unfiltered honey for their own use but honey for sale is filtered through organza so that it is totally clear. 
Beekeepers, and indeed many doctors believe that honey has many medicinal qualities, they believe it helps to cure burns, ulcers, varicose veins…. Many athletes are also very partial to honey – instant energy, already digested . Sinus sufferers benefit from chewing beeswax. 
We are fortunate in this country to be able to produce fantastic honey, there are very few big fields of oil seed rape which taints the honey. We do however have the dreaded bee disease caused by the Varroa Destructor mite. This was originally introduced to Ireland by a UK beekeeper who moved to the West of Ireland complete with his colony of bees.
This doesn’t affect the honey but wipes out the colony which would consist of 60 – 70,000 bees. 
Michael Woulfe highlighted the fact that in Ireland we have no standards for importation of honey and stressed that the best honey goes to the countries with the highest standards.
So when you are buying honey look out for Irish honey with the Irish beekeepers Association seal.
We rounded off the evening with a tasting of local honey- ling heather, bell heather, sycamore, Michael’s blackberry and white clover, our own apple and flower blossom honey. We have just 4 hives at the end of the orchard. Granulated honey is more popular in the UK while in Ireland we prefer the more liquid variety. 
Febvre who sponsor Slow Food Ireland sent us some Muscat Sec and Sauternes to taste with the honey, a sublime experience.
From the cook’s point of view honey can be used in many delicious and creative ways. Add it to dressings, drizzle it over salads, use it mixed with mustard to coat chicken breasts, spare ribs, chicken wings or even the humble sausage. It can be added to cake, biscuits or icings, and pairs deliciously with blue cheese.

Honey Parfait

Serves 6 -10
¼ pint (5 fl.ozs) syrup – see recipe
½ teasp. vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
1½ pints (900ml) whipped cream
3 fl.ozs (75ml) Irish honey or maple syrup
1 x loaf tin 9” (23cm) x 4” (10cm), lined with a double thickness of cling film.

Boil the syrup to the thread stage (240F) on a saccharometer. Pour the boiling syrup over the whisked up egg yolks with vanilla essence added.
Fold in the honey and whipped cream. Pour into the lined tin, cover and freeze.
Serve in slices with some summer or autumn berries and a drizzle of honey.

Makes 28 fl ozs (825 ml)

1 lb (450 g) sugar
1 pint (600 ml) water
To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.

Caramelised Honey and Almond Tart

Serves 8-10
6 ozs (175 g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 oz (25 g) castor sugar
4 ozs (125 g) butter
1 egg yolk, preferably free-range
Drop of pure vanilla essence

1 tablespoon pure Irish honey
6 ozs (170 g) flaked almonds
3 ozs (75 g) butter
1½ ozs (45 g) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cream

Round tin with a pop up bottom, 10 inch (25.5 cm) diameter or
12½ x 8 inch swiss roll tin.

Put the flour and castor sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter and bind with the egg yolk and the vanilla essence. This is a tricky pastry to handle so if you like just press it into the greased tin. Prick the pastry, line it with kitchen paper and dried beans and bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/ regulo 4, 15-18 minutes or until pale golden.
To make the filling, put the butter, sugar, honey, and almonds into a saucepan and cook over a low heat until they are pale straw colour; add the cream and cook for a few more seconds. Spread the mixture over the base and bake until the topping is a deep golden brown colour. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with softly whipped cream.
This can take anything from 8-20 minutes depending on the length of time the original ingredients were cooked.

Foolproof Food

Yoghurt with Apple Blossom, Honey and Toasted Hazelnuts

Serves 1
About a tablespoon of toasted sweet tasting hazelnuts 
Best quality natural yoghurt 
Apple blossom honey or strongly flavoured local Irish honey - 2 tablespoons approx.

To toast hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/regulo 6. Put the hazelnuts onto a baking tray and pop into the oven for 8-10 minutes until the skins loosen. Remove from the oven and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, rub off the thin papery skins (I usually put them into a tea towel, gather up the edges like a pouch, rub the towel against the nuts for a minute or so and ‘hey presto’ virtually all the skins come off in one go. If the nuts are still very pale, put them back into the oven for a few more minutes until pale golden and crisp. Slice thickly.
Just before serving spoon a generous portion of chilled natural yoghurt onto a cold plate, drizzle generously with really good honey and sprinkle with freshly sliced toasted hazelnuts. Eat immediately.

Sadie’s Wholemeal Griddle Scones

Rosemary Kennan at Roundwood House serves these scones for breakfast straight from the hot plate on the Aga, she uses an old cast-iron griddle, although a heavy frying pan will do instead.
5oz (150g) wholemeal flour
1 oz (25g) oatflakes
1 level teasp. bread soda
pinch of salt
about 7fl.oz (200ml) buttermilk

Have a heavy frying pan or griddle heating on the hob. Mix the dry ingredients well in a bowl, then stir in enough buttermilk to make a very wet consistency. Lightly grease the griddle or pan, or sprinkle it with flour. Put dessertspoonfuls of the mixture on to the hot griddle and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, until well risen and golden brown. Wrap in a clean tea towel and serve hot or cold, with butter and homemade jam.

Hot Tips
Urru Culinary Store, The Mill, McSwiney Quay, Bandon, Co Cork. Tel. 023-54731, Recently opened store offering an extensive range of fine foods, wines and culinary accessories – browse, sample and experience Ireland’s wonderful artisan foodstuffs and other speciality food products.

Honey, particularly comb honey, should be stored in airtight containers otherwise it will absorb water from the air.
If you would like to learn about beekeeping or find out about beekeepers in your local area contact The Federation of Irish Beekeepers, c/o of their Secretary, Michael Gleeson, Ballinakill, Enfield, Co Meath. Tel. 046-9541433. He has a list of all local secretaries of the Federation. 

For further details of Slow Food have a look at the Slow Food Ireland website.  

If you are ever lucky enough to stay at Roundwood House, Mountrath, Co Laois – charming country house hotel in the heart of Ireland, nestling at foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, don’t miss Sadie’s Griddle Bread Scones served for breakfast with homemade jam and thick unctuous homemade yoghurt.


Watercress is the new rocket. It was all over California on a recent visit. In New York it features on virtually every restaurant menu. Pick up an Australian food magazine and you’ll find the same – everyone going crazy for the peppery green leaves which are reported to be rich in beta-carotene, iron and vitamin C, while the compounds that give it the peppery bite have been shown in research to have a markedly antibiotic effect.

Not that this is a new discovery. In The Great Hunger, Cecil Woodham-Smith wrote of how the starving peasants fell on patches of watercress during the famine.

Watercress rings all sorts of bells for me, one of my earliest memories was of picking tender young watercress leaves with Mrs. Lalor in the Chapel Meadows near Cullohill, Co Laois. When we came home we made ‘salad’, using it instead of lettuce to accompany the predictable tomato, hard-boiled eggs and scallions liberally doused with salad cream – a flavour sensation I still love to this day.

When I arrived at Ballymaloe many years later, again we picked watercress and used it to make dainty little ‘butterfly sandwiches’ in thinly sliced white bread and robust watercress soups.

Watercress grows wild in rivers and streams all over the country, but it has to be emphasised that one needs to be extremely careful where one picks it. The water must be clean, unpolluted and constantly flowing. Check that there are no animals, particularly sheep, directly upstream, or its possible that it may harbour liver fluke. This is not to be taken lightly, it’s a very nasty and tenacious disease. However, there are some clean streams where one can pick beautiful fresh sprigs of watercress. 

For the uninitiated, watercress grows side by side with wild celery, a plant which looks remarkably similar. So how can one distinguish one from the other – the top leaf is always the biggest on watercress and the leaves get smaller as they go down along the stem. The leaf pattern is the opposite on wild celery. 

If a walk on the wild side is not your idea of fun, then you may want to buy a bunch in your local shop. It keeps well in a plastic bag in the fridge or in a bowl of cold water. 

Mustard and Sesame Seed Chicken Wings with Watercress

Serves 2-4
1 lb (450g) chicken wings-free-range and organic, if possible
2 dessertspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Sea salt 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Lemon mayonnaise, optional

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas6

Mix all the ingredients in a deep bowl. Toss in the chicken wings and mix well. Season with sea salt. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes turning occasionally. 

Serve as they are or on a bed of watercress or with tiny salad leaves and fresh herbs. Lemon mayonnaise makes a delicious sauce for dipping.

Watercress Soup

There are references to watercress in many early Irish manuscripts. It formed part of the diet of hermits and holy men who valued its special properties. Legend has it that it was watercress that enabled St. Brendan to live to the ripe old age of 180! In Birr Castle in Co. Offaly, Lord and Lady Rosse still serve soup of watercress gathered from around St. Brendan's well, just below the castle walls.
Serves 6-8

12 ozs (45g) butter
5 ozs (140g) peeled and chopped potatoes
4 ozs (110g) peeled and chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pint (600ml) water or home-made chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 pint (600ml) creamy milk
8 ozs (225g) chopped watercress (remove the coarse stalks)

Melt the butter in heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the watercress. When the vegetables are almost soft but not coloured add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the watercress and boil with the lid off for 4-5 minutes approx. until the watercress is cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser or food processor. Taste and correct seasoning.

Traditional salad with watercress and Shanagarry Cream Dressing

This simple old-fashioned salad which is the sort of thing you would have had for tea on a visit to your Granny on a Sunday evening - perhaps with a slice of meat left over from the Sunday joint, is one of my absolute favourites. 

It can be quite delicious when it's made with a crisp lettuce, good home-grown tomatoes and cucumbers, free-range eggs and home preserved beetroot. If on the other hand you make it with pale battery eggs, watery tomatoes, tired lettuce and cucumber - and worst of all- vinegary beetroot from a jar, you'll wonder why you bothered.

We serve this traditional salad in Ballymaloe as a starter, with an oldfashioned salad dressing which would have been popular before the days of mayonnaise. Our recipe came from Lydia Strangman, the last occupant of our house.
Serves 4

Fresh watercress or butterhead lettuce

2 hard-boiled eggs, preferably free-range, quartered
2-4 tomatoes, quartered
16 slices of cucumber
4 slices of home-made pickled beetroot (see below)
4 tiny scallions or spring onions
2-4 sliced radishes
Chopped parsley
Shanagarry Cream Dressing
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 level teasp. dry mustard
Pinch of salt
1 tablesp.(15g) dark soft brown sugar
1 tablesp. (15ml) brown malt vinegar
2-4 fl.ozs. (56-130ml) cream

Spring Onion
Chopped parsley

Hard-boil the eggs for the salad and the dressing: bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, boil for 10 minutes (12 if they are very fresh), strain off the hot water and cover with cold water. Peel when cold.
Wash and dry the lettuce and scallions.

Next make the Dressing. Cut 2 eggs in half, sieve the yolks into a bowl, add the sugar, a pinch of salt and the mustard. Blend in the vinegar and cream. Chop the egg whites and add some to the sauce. Keep the rest to scatter over the salad. Cover the dressing until needed.

To assemble the salads: Arrange a few lettuce leaves on each of 4 plates. Scatter a few quartered tomatoes and 2 hard-boiled egg quarters, a few slices of cucumber and 1 radish or 2 slices of beetroot on each plate. Garnish with spring onion and watercress, scatter the remaining egg white (from the dressing) over the salad and some chopped parsley.

Put a tiny bowl of Shanagarry Cream Dressing in the centre of each plate and serve immediately while the salad is crisp and before the beetroot starts to run. Alternatively, the dressing may be served from one large bowl.

Pickled Beetroot

Leave 2 inch (5cm) of leaf stalks on top and the whole root on the beet. Hold it under a running tap and wash off the mud with the palms of your hands, so that you don't damage the skin; otherwise the beetroot will bleed during cooking. Cover with cold water and add a little salt and sugar. Cover the pot bring to the boil and simmer on top, or in an oven, for 1-2 hours depending on size. Beetroot are usually cooked easily and if they dent when pressed with a finger. If in doubt test with a skewer or the tip of a knife.
Pangrilled John Dory with Watercress Butter 

Pangrilling is one of my favourite ways to cook fish, meat and vegetables. Square or oblong cast-iron pangrills can be bought in virtually all good kitchen shops and are a ‘must have’ as far as I am concerned. In this recipe you can use almost any fish - mackerel, grey sea mullet, cod, sea bass, haddock - provided it is very fresh. We get delicious fresh fish from the boats and from Ballycotton Seafood beside us here in Shanagarry.

8 x 6 ozs (170 g) very fresh John Dory fillets
Seasoned flour
Small knob of butter
Watercress butter

Segment of lemon
Sprigs of Watercress

First make the watercress butter.

Heat the pan grill. Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been well seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes (time depends on the thickness of the fish). Turn over and cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with a segment of lemon and some slices of Watercress butter. 

Watercress Butter

4ozs (110 g) butter
2-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh watercress leaves. 
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cream the butter and add in the watercress and a few drops of lemon juice. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tinfoil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.

Foolproof Food

Aunt Alice’s Biscuits

Serves 30
5 ozs (140g) white flour
7 ozs (215g) brown sugar (Demerara)
2¼ ozs (75g) porridge oats (Flahavans Oatmeal)
2 teasp. bread soda (sieved)
4 ozs (110g) butter
1 tablesp. golden syrup

Melt the butter and syrup together, add to the other ingredients mix well. Make into small balls and space them well on baking trays. Bake at 200C/400F/regulo 6, for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Top Tips

Georgina Campbell’s Jameson Guide for 2004 has just been published –
The Best Places to Eat, Drink and Stay in Ireland has just been published – don’t leave home without it. 

2003 Jacob’s Creek World Food Media Awards – winners have just been announced – 47 Jacob’s Creek ‘Ladles’ – the food and drink equivalent of the Oscars – were presented at a gala function in Adelaide – winners included familiar names such as Rick Stein for his tv series Food Heroes and Oz Clarke. Best Food Book was won by Australian David Thompson for Thai Food, he now operates the highly successful Nahm restaurant in London.

The new Belle Isle School of Cookery has just opened in Lisbellaw, County Fermanagh –

The Day of the Dead

In Mexico one of the most important festivals of the year is The Day of the Dead. It coincides with our All Saints and All Souls Day in early November. Death has played a central role in Mexican life and religion for thousands of years, but somehow it is not viewed with such finality as it is in our culture.

Life and death are inseparable and reflect a dualistic view as represented by the gods Quetzalcoatl, the God of life and the earth, and Mitchtlantecuhtli, the God of the Dead and the Underworld.
Following the conquest of Mexico in 1579, the Spaniards sought to convert Mexico’s indigenous people to Christianity, but instead the Christian celebrations gradually became overtaken by Mexico’s ancient spirituality.
On the Day of the Dead, throngs of Mexicans pour into cemeteries at midnight, carrying picnics to share with their dearly beloved deceased relatives and friends. Increasingly, visitors from all over the world join them to witness this beautifully macabre and ancient ritual. 

In Oaxaca, a colonial city about an hour south of Mexico City by plane, the celebrations begin weeks before The Day of the Dead. The market and street stalls are piled high with sugar and chocolate skulls (calacas) decorated in brightly coloured icing. A special anise flavoured bread embellished with symbolic images called pan de meurtos is baked. Figurines of painted skeletons engaged in a whole range of human behaviour, from drinking mescal, to watching tv, playing soccer, driving sports cars, or playing in mariachi bands, are snapped up by locals and tourists alike – All very morbid and macabre one might think, but in fact it all adds to the air of celebration.
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In every home altars and shrines are decorated with statues, flowers, ornate candles, food, and personal items so that the appropriate spirit will find its way home during the special days.

Families and friends prepare their ‘ofrenda’ (the adornment of a grave prior to the all -night vigil). Some people do evocative sand paintings, others construct bamboo fences around graves which are then decorated with flowers, fruit and colourful sugar skulls and sometimes bottles of tequila and Coca cola. Cocks combs and the marigold like campasuchil flowers adorn the graves. The strewn petals make vibrant orange paths to the graveyard. Some Indians believe that the bright orange colour and the pungent perfume of the flowers attract the spirits, and that the ancient incense called copal which is burnt by the graveside and around household altars also entices and nourishes the spirits.

In kitchens all over Mexico, women painstakingly cook the favourite foods of their loved ones. Posole and turkey mole are traditional favourites. Come midnight families enter the cemeteries laden with food, drink, flowers, candles, blankets and treasured mementoes of their lost ones. They lovingly lay baskets and pottery dishes full of tasty food on the graves for their dear departed with glasses of water to allay the thirst. Come morning the living share the food.

The entire area is bathed in the light of a forest of candles which guide the spirits to their waiting family and friends who sit wrapped in blankets and ponchos around the graves. As the night moves on they tell stories, remember and drink toasts to their loved ones. A mariachi band plays lively music, the mood seems festive but somewhat subdued. 

There are of course similarities with Hallowe’en but our celebrations seem on one hand darker, but on the other more frivolous as the children play trick or treat and dress up as witches, monsters, vampires and ghosts to terrorise their friends and neighbours.


Serves 8 approx.
Colcannon was one of the festive dishes eaten at Hallowe’en. Songs have been sung and poems have been written about Colcannon. This comfort food at its very best has now been 'discovered' and is often a feature on smart restaurant menus in London and New York. 
In Dublin parsnips were often added to colcannon, the proportion of parsnips to potato varied.

Did you ever eat colcannon
When 'twas made with yellow cream
And the kale and praties blended 
Like a picture in a dream?
Did you ever scoop a hole on top
To hold the melting lake
Of the clover-flavoured butter
Which your mother used to make?

450g (1lb) Savoy or spring cabbage
900g - 1.35kg (2-3lb) 'old' potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
250ml (8fl oz) approx. boiling milk
30g (1oz) scallion or spring onion, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper
55g (2oz) approx . butter

Scrub the potatoes, put them in a saucepan of cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. When the potatoes are about half cooked, 15 minutes approx. for 'old' potatoes, strain off two-thirds of the water, replace the lid on the saucepan, put onto a gentle heat and allow the potatoes to steam until they are cooked.

Remove the dark outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the rest and cut into quarters, remove the core and cut finely across the grain. Boil in a little boiling water or bacon cooking water until soft. Drain, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little butter. When the potatoes are just cooked, put the milk, and the finely chopped scallions into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pull the peel off the potatoes and discard, mash quickly while they are still warm and beat in enough boiling milk to make a fluffy puree. (If you have a large quantity, put the potatoes in the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the spade.) Then stir in the cooked cabbage and taste for seasoning. For perfection, serve immediately in a hot dish with a lump of butter melting in the centre.

Colcannon may be prepared ahead up to this point and reheated later in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4, for 20-25 minutes approx. Cover while reheating so it doesn't get too crusty on top.

Hot Diggedy Dogs

This recipe from the November BBC Good Food Magazine really appealed to me as a suggestion for a Bonfire night party (lots of other great ideas in the magazine too.) Here the sausages and onions roast together in the oven. Ready in 30-40 minutes.
Makes 6 but can easily be doubled.
2 tablesp. sunflower oil
6 large pork sausages
1 large onion, sliced 
1 teasp. yellow mustard seeds
6 big flour tortillas
2 tablesp. tomato relish
paper napkins, to serve

Preheat the oven to fan 180C, conventional 200C/ gas 6.

Pour the oil into the roasting tin and put it in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat up. Add the sausages to the hot tin and roast for another 10 minutes. 

Push the sausages to the outer edges of the tin and scatter the sliced onion in the centre. Sprinkle the onion slices with the mustard seeds and some salt and pepper and turn them to coat in the hot oil at the bottom of the tin. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes until the sliced onions are golden and the sausages are completely cooked through.

Briefly heat the flour tortillas in the oven, microwave or in a dry frying pan to make them softer and easier to roll. Place a sausage and some onion on each one, top with a spoonful of relish and roll, folding the bottom over. Serve straight away, wrapped in paper napkins.
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Roasted Potato Wedges with Fire and Brimstone Sauce 
Another idea for the bonfire party!

2 lbs (900g) old potatoes, e.g. Golden Wonders, or Kerrs Pink.
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For dipping:
Fire and brimstone sauce and sour cream.
Preheat the oven to 200F/100C

Scrub the potatoes well. Cut into quarters or eights lengthwise depending on size. The pieces should be chunky rather than skinny. Put into a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil, toss to coat, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Roast for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with a bowl of fire and brimstone sauce and a bowl of sour cream to dip.

Fire and Brimstone Sauce

This great little sauce is terrific to serve with pangrilled chicken, pork or lamb. We also use it as a dipping sauce for potato wedges and all kinds of fried food especially chicken or fish goujons.
2-4 red chillies (medium-hot)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
225g (8oz) apricot jam
5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
good pinch of salt

Deseed and roughly chop the chillies, then just whizz all the ingredients in a food processor. 
This sauce keeps for up to 2 weeks in a covered jam jar in the fridge.
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Foolproof Food

Hallow’Eves Apple and Cinnamon Pudding

Serves 4-6
12 lbs (675g) cooking apples
1 tablesp. water
3-4 ozs (85-110g) approx. sugar
1 teasp. cinnamon
For the Topping
2 ozs (55g) butter
2 ozs (55g) sugar
1 beaten egg, preferably free range
3 ozs (85g) self raising flour, sieved
1-2 tablesp. milk
1 pie dish 12 pint (900ml) capacity

Set the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6.
Peel, core and slice the apples and put them in a heavy saucepan with the water and sugar, cover. Stew them gently until just soft, add the cinnaomon and then tip into a buttered pie dish.

Cream the butter until soft, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the beaten egg by degrees and beat well until completely incorporated. Sieve the flour and fold into the butter and egg mixture. Add about 1 tablespoon milk or enough to bring the mixture to dropping consistency. Spread this mixture gently over the apple.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the sponge mixture is firm to the touch in the centre. Sprinkle with castor sugar. Serve warm with home made custard or lightly whipped cream.
Hallow’Eves pudding is delicious made with rhubarb, gooseberries or a mixture of blackberry and apples or rhubarb and strawberries.
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Hot Tips
Slow Food West Cork ‘Celebrates the Pig’ on Sunday 2nd November – a chance to see how free-range pigs are reared, see smoking and processing, a talk on Irish pork by John McKenna of Bridgestone Guides and a feast of delicious dishes and wines. Full booking details from Clodagh McKenna 087-6831602  

Tesco kicks off search for the Nations Young Cook of the Year 2004.
Young chefs across the country should have their spatulas ready as Tesco Ireland, in association with Knorr, announce their hunt for the 2004 champion – open to 10-16 year olds. Ask your teacher, look out for the posters in Tesco stores, check out  cooking  or


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