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.
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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.


You’ll need to get out there fast to catch the best blackberries. There’s something wonderfully comforting and soothing about wandering along a country lane eating blackberries from the hedges – this year there is a truly prodigious crop, we’ve had a few wonderful blackberry picking expeditions and taught the children and indeed some uninitiated friends how to choose the best berries. In fact I was amazed to discover how many ‘grown-ups’ didn’t realise that its prudent to check the berries before you pop them into your mouth – if the core is discoloured rather than pale and unblemished, it usually means that little crawly beasties have got there first, best discard those. This becomes more of a problem towards the end of the season.

The berries seem particularly sweet and gorgeous this year. They are loaded with Vitamin C, fibre and folate and children love them. They particularly love picking them and should be encouraged, think of how a few good blackberry feasts will naturally help to build up their resistance to winter colds and flu.

So it’s a good time to fill a flask and pack a little picnic so you can head off on an expedition after school. Bring lots of plastic or stainless steel containers, best if they are little and light so they don’t seem too intimidating to fill. Practically speaking if they are too large the ripe berries will get squashed and damaged.

So what to do with all those berries, I adore a fresh blackberry sponge – make a light whisked-up sponge, spoon softly whipped cream over the top, scatter generously with fresh berries and sprinkle with a little castor sugar – divine. I sometimes scatter a few rose petals over the top – they look so alluring and taste delicious too, (make sure they haven’t had a dose of chemicals).

If you collect a decent quantity, you’ll probably want to make some jam – Blackberries are low in pectin, the agent that helps jam to set, so it’s a good idea to partner the berries with cooking apples to increase the pectin and cut the sweetness.

The first Irish cooking apples are in the shops – look out for Grenadier or Bramley Seedling and please please make an effort to buy Irish apples. Its so difficult for Irish growers to compete with cheaper imports – if we don’t actively support them there will be no Irish apples to buy – it’s as simple as that. Its not just a question of loyalty, they do have a unique flavour.

Back to the blackberries or brambles as our adorable little part-Scottish grand-daughter Willow calls them. If you have a glut – you may also want to preserve some for later. They freeze really well. If you have time and space, its really worth ‘tray freezing’ so all those little berries stay separate. A few small cartons close to the top of the freezer will come in handy to add to a sauce or gravy to partner a pheasant or a grouse if you are fortunate enough to have one later in the Autumn.

A fistful of berries folded into a soft colcannon make a delicious accompaniment to a pan-grilled duck breast or a surprising addition to a traditional potato stuffing for a Michaelmas goose.

The lemon-scented leaves of Pelargonium Graveolens have an extraordinary affinity with blackberries, most garden centres have this variety which will grow in a pot but also over-winters outside in our garden in Shanagarry – we have numerous plants on window sills all over the school because we use it for a myriad of things.

Blackberry, Apple and Sweet Geranium Jam

Makes 9-10 x 450 g/1 lb jars approx.
All over the countryside every year, blackberries rot on the hedgerows. Think of all the wonderful jam that could be made - so full of Vitamin C! This year organise a blackberry picking expedition and take a picnic. You=ll find it=s the greatest fun, and when you come home one person could make a few scones while someone else is making the jam. The children could be kept out of mischief and gainfully employed drawing and painting home-made jam labels, with personal messages like >Lydia=s Jam - keep off!= , or >Grandma=s Blackberry Jam=. Then you can enjoy the results of your labours with a well-earned cup of tea. 

Blackberries are a bit low in pectin, so the apples help it to set as well as adding extra flavour.

2.3 kg (5 lbs) blackberries
900 g (2 lbs) cooking apples (Bramley, or Grenadier in season)
1.625 kg (42 lbs) sugar (use 2 lb less if blackberries are sweet)
8-10 sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)

Wash, peel and core and slice the apples. Stew them until soft with 290 ml/2 pint of water in a stainless steel saucepan; beat to a pulp.
Pick over the blackberries, cook until soft, adding about 145 ml/3 pint of water if the berries are dry. If you like, push them through a coarse sieve to remove seeds, (I don’t bother). Put the blackberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan with the apple pulp and the heated sugar. Add the sweet geranium leaves to the fruit. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. 
Boil steadily for about 15 minutes. Skim the jam, test it for a set, remove the geranium leaves and pot into warm spotlessly clean jars. Cover immediately, label and store in a cool dry place.       Back to Top

Blackberry and Pear Tart
Butter makes the most amazing difference to the flavour of pastry.
Serves 6-8

1lb (450g) puff pastry or rich shortcrust
3-4 pears, Conference or Doyenne de Comice
4 ozs (110g) blackberries
5-6 ozs (140-170g) white sugar approx. (amount of sugar depends on the sweetness of the pears)
10 inch (25cm) Pyrex plate
Roll out the pastry and line a 10 inch (25cm) plate. Trim, but leave about an inch (2cm) of pastry over the edge. Peel and quarter the pears, cut out the core and cut the quarters in half, (pieces of pear should be quite chunky). Put the pears onto the tart and pile them up in the centre, put the blackberries on top, leave a border of 1 inch (2.5cm) around the edge. Sprinkle with sugar.

Roll out the pastry for the top a little thicker than the base, wet the 1 inch (2.5cm) strip around the tart and press the pastry lid down onto it. Trim pastry leaving a ¼ inch (5mm) edge again. Crimp up the edges with a sharp knife and then scallop them, make a hole in the centre to allow steam to escape. Egg wash. Roll out the trimmings and cut into leaves and decorate the top of the tart, egg wash again.

Bake in a hot oven 230ºC/450ºF/regulo 8) for 15-20 minutes, then turn heat to moderate for a further 40-45 minutes, depending on how hard the pears are. Test the pears with a skewer.

Sprinkle with fine castor sugar, serve with soft brown sugar and softly whipped cream.

Damson Tart

Substitute 1½ lbs (675g) damsons (no need to remove stones) for the pear and blackberries. You may need more sugar, depending on how ripe they are.
Blackberry Ice Cubes            Back to Top
Pop a fat juicy blackberry into each section of an ice cube tray, add a tiny sweet geranium or mint leaf if you have them to hand. Fill with cold water – freeze. Pop into a glass of dry white wine, homemade lemonade or champagne. 

Pan Grilled Duck Breast with Blackberry Colcannon
Serves 4
4 free-range duck breasts
sea salt

Blackberry Colcannon

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
25g (1oz) scallion or spring onion, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper
50g (2oz) approx . butter
110g (4oz) blackberries

First make the colcannon.

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.

Meanwhile score the duck skin into a diamond pattern. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Put a pan grill on a low heat. Cook the duck breasts very slowly and gently for 15-20 minutes on the fat side, by then the fat should be rendered out, (pour off the excess and save for duck confit), and the skin will be crisp and golden. Season the flesh side with sea salt and turn over, continue to cook until to your taste. I personally like duck breast medium to well done, not fashionably rare, which frequently results in the meat being tough and stringy.

Just before serving, fold the blackberry gently into the soft colcannon. Put a dollop on each plate and top with a whole or sliced duck breast.

Foolproof Food                    

Wild Blackberry and Rose Petal Sponge

When the first blackberries ripen in the autumn we use them with softly whipped cream to fill this light fluffy sponge. The recipe may sound strange but the cake will be the lightest and most tender you’ve ever tasted. You can ring the changes by filling with other fruit in season – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, homemade raspberry jam or lemon curd….
Serves 6-8

3 eggs, preferably free range
3 fl ozs (75ml) water
8 ozs (225g) sugar
5 ozs (140g) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

8-12 ozs (225-350g) wild blackberries
4 fl ozs (110ml) whipped cream
½ teasp. rosewater, optional (see Top Tips)
2 teaspoons icing sugar
1 pale pink rose, unsprayed
2 x 8 inch (20.5cm) sandwich tins

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/regulo 5.
Brush the cake tins evenly with melted butter and dust with flour. I usually take the precaution of lining the base with a circle of greaseproof paper for guaranteed ease of removal later.

Separate the eggs. In a food mixer whisk the yolks with the sugar for 2 minutes, then add in the water. Whisk until light and fluffy, 10 minutes approx. Fold the sieved flour and baking powder into the mousse in batches. Whisk the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak. Gently fold them into the fluffy base. Pour into prepared sandwich tins and bake in a moderately hot oven 190C/375F/regulo 5 for 20 minutes approx. Remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack.
Whip the cream, add the icing sugar and a few drops of rosewater.

Sandwich the sponge together with whipped cream and blackberries. Sieve a little icing sugar over the top. Sprinkle with rose petals – it will look and taste enchanting.

Top Tips           
Sweet Geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens) Plants should be easily available in garden centres, no home should be without one. As well as blackberry jam we use it to flavour fruit salads, apple jelly, fruit compotes…..

Rosewater – very popular in Middle Eastern Cooking in sweets and desserts – available in chemists, ethnic food shops and from health food shops like Natural Foods and Here’s Health in Cork and others around the country. 

The Urchin in Westport, Co Mayo – A sweet little restaurant serving simple, delicious food and good house wine. Tel 098-27532

Youghal Heritage Week – running until Sunday 28th September features an open air market today at Market Square – cakes, fruit and vegetables, flowers, fish . Pop into the Fox’s Lane Folk Museum for a nostalgic trip back in time with fascinating memorabilia including all sorts of kitchen equipment. Lots of other events and street entertainment. For more details contact 024-20170,     Back to Top

Beyond Baked Beans

Over the past few years I’ve become more and more concerned about the quality of the food we eat. I’m acutely aware that we are all living on inherited good health from our ancestors – good health they built up by eating simple fresh organic food – long before the term organic was invented. There are other factors of course. Farmers truly understand the importance of good breeding and are acutely aware that if they don’t feed and care for their animals properly, disease will soon follow. Will a diet of fast food and fizzy drinks nourish our young people so they can pass on health and vitality to their children – all the evidence points to the contrary.
Food is the fuel for our bodies, if you don’t put good petrol in the tank the ‘car’ won’t perform properly. Its ironic that so many of us look after our cars and motorbikes much better than ourselves. We wouldn’t dream of putting inferior oil or petrol in the tank, yet we shovel any kind of old rubbish into ourselves and then wonder why we are low in energy, feeling sluggish or lacking concentration. For most people the only criteria when choosing food is cheapness, never before have we spent so little a percentage of our income on food. In ? we spent ?, now it is ?.(Joe I am waiting to get these statistics)
Truth is very few people connect the food they eat with how they feel. If we did, we would make it a greater priority – after all – ‘much depends on dinner’.
Probably the time of one’s life when one is most at risk from a poor diet is during one’s student years – a crucially important period when one needs maximum nutrition to enhance concentration and provide energy and stamina for both the academic and social whirl.
A combination of low budget, lack of cooking facilities and minimum cooking skills often result in a dismal and deficient diet. Basic cooking skills are certainly a huge bonus. A friend who has been working with during school holidays for many years told me that she could live so much more cheaply and deliciously than her friends because she could cook. So, quick Mums and Dads give a crash course in basic cooking skills before your darlings head off into the sunset.
Buy a folder and a pack of plastic covers and provide them with a basic kit of simple recipes – filling and nutritious dishes made with inexpensive ingredients – pass on little tips you’ve learned about how to source good value. See Top tips.
If that all seems too much – there’s a brilliant new book called ‘Beyond baked beans – real food for students’ by Fiona Beckett, published by Absolute Press in Bath. Email
This is the sort of book that I would have just loved to have had access to as a student, fresh and inspiring , no patronizing tone, no ‘witty cartoons’, no same old predictable meal ideas. There are lots of funky recipes, great tips and brilliantly practical advice. This is a book which would work for the ‘hopeless away from home students’, or singletons either struggling to survive or wanting to impress. Recipes go from Best ever Cheese on toast’ to Vegetable Samosa Pie. There are chapters on Late Night fuel, What to eat when you are feeling rough, Seduction menus, advice on nutrition and food safety – How not to poison your friends, there’s even some advice on the right kind of food to eat in the build up to exams and a unique section called Beyond bad Booze. Beyond Baked Beans is a great find, I’ve bought several copies to send to nieces and nephews on their way to college – I’ll be cooking some of the recipes myself. Back to Top

Stir Fried Vegetables

You can stir fry a number of different vegetables but think about texture, colour and flavour before you make your choice. A good heavy frying pan will be fine for this recipe.
Serves 2-4

2 tablesp. spring onion, cut into thin slices at an angle
1 tablesp. grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ozs (55g) mushrooms, cut into quarters and sliced thinly
22 ozs (70g) French beans, cut into 1¼ inch (3cm) long slices at an angle
3 ozs (85g) yellow or green courgettes, cut in half lengthways and sliced thinly
3 ozs (85g) mangetout peas, cut into small pieces approx. ½ inch (1 cm) approx. at an angle
2 ozs (55g) broccoli, cut into tiny florets
1 oz (30g) peanuts or cashew nuts, (optional)
Salt, freshly ground pepper 
A pinch of sugar
1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley 
1 tablesp. freshly chopped mixed herbs - mint, chives, thyme or basil
1-2 tablesp. oyster sauce or soy sauce
Few drops sesame oil, (optional)

First prepare the vegetables. Heat the pan until it smokes, add the oil and heat again. Add the spring onions, ginger and garlic, toss around, then add the vegetables one after the other in the following order, tossing between each addition - 
mushrooms, French beans, courgettes, mange tout, broccoli and nuts. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs, taste, correct the seasoning. Serve immediately in a hot serving dish.
If you would like your stir fry to have an oriental flavour add 1-2 tablespoons of oyster sauce or soy sauce instead of the herbs and sprinkle on a few drops of sesame oil just before serving.

Note: Cubes of Tofu may be added to this stir fry, sprinkle with soy sauce first and leave to marinade while you prepare the vegetables.  Back to Top 

Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables

Add 1 chicken breast to the above ingredients. Wash the chicken breast and season well with salt. Cut into thin shreds. Sprinkle with soy sauce or fish sauce (Nam pla) if you like. Toss the chicken breast in the hot oil and then add the vegetables.

The Best ever Cheese on Toast

– From ‘Beyond Baked Beans’ by Fiona Beckett
Serves 1

“This is the best way I’ve found of making cheese on toast as the toast doesn’t burn or go soggy like it does in a microwave.” You can leave out the chilli and onions if you prefer.

A good chunk (75-100g/3-3½ ozs) Cheddar or Lancashire cheese
1 teasp. flour
1-2 mild green chillies
1 tablesp. finely chopped onion or a spring onion, trimmed and finely sliced (optional)
1-2 tablesp. milk (2 if you use more cheese)
A couple of thick slices of bread, preferably wholemeal
A little hot chilli sauce or a pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper

Grate the cheese, put it into a small saucepan, add the flour and blend together.
Cut the chillies in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Add the chopped onion if using and 2 tablespoons of milk. Heat gently, stirring while you make the toast. As soon as the cheese mixture is smooth pour over the toast and shake over a little chilli sauce.

Instead of chilli and onion you could add 1 teasp. mustard or ½ teasp. Worcestershire sauce to the melted cheese. Back to Top 

Spaghetti Carbonara with Peas

– from ‘Beyond Baked Beans’ by Fiona Beckett.
Serves 1-2

“Home-made is always better than a shop-bought carbonara sauce and dead easy. You can even leave out the peas and the onion – and it’ll still taste good.”

1 tablesp. cooking oil
6 streaky bacon rashers, rinded and chopped or 125g (4½) ozs bacon bits
1 small or ½ a medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
75g (3oz) frozen peas, soaked for 2 minutes in boiling water or microwaved
2 large eggs or 3 medium eggs
2 tablesp. freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano plus extra for serving
a handful (about 125g/4½ ozs) dried spaghetti
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the bacon until the fat begins to run. Add the onion, turn the heat down low and fry for another 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the peas and leave the pan over a very low heat. Beat the eggs with 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan and season with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water – following the instructions on the pack. Once its cooked, drain it thoroughly, saving a bit of the cooking water and return it to the pan, off the heat. Quickly tip in the bacon, onion, peas and beaten eggs and mix thoroughly so the eggs ‘cooks’ in the hot pasta. Add a spoonful or two of the cooking water, season again with black pepper then serve immediately with extra Parmesan.

Top Tips  Back to Top 

1.	Whenever possible buy with the seasons when food is fresher, better and cheaper. 
For younger people particularly its not always easy to tell when food is in season, particularly nowadays in supermarkets where one can buy beans, strawberries, broccoli …. all year round.
Local Markets are always seasonal and often cheaper and it’s a fun experience where one buys directly from the farmer or food producers. 

2. Supermarkets often reduce some of their food prices just before closing time, particularly on Saturday evenings, so if you’re really keen, that’s the time to look for bargains.

3. If you are on a tight budget avoid convenience foods – if someone else does the washing, chopping and grating for you its bound to cost you more. However, washed salad or a bag of ready prepared vegetables can be a terrific standby if you are living alone. Best though to invest in a decent sharp knife, a chopping board and a grater and do it yourself.

4. Go shopping with an open mind and keep an eye and ear out for bargain offers. Dried beans and lentils are an incredibly cheap and yummy source of protein and can be made into salads, soups or bean stews. Always worth having a few tins of tomatoes and a piece of Chorizo or Kabanossi Sausage in the fridge.

5. Make your own sandwiches or a salad or whatever you fancy for lunch, it may not seem so cool but it will save you at least €10 a week.

6. Plan ahead – sounds like a contradiction of No.4 but a half dozen eggs can make you three meals, an omelette, spaghetti carbonara and perhaps an egg and chive roll.
A tin of tuna can make you a salad, a pasta sauce and tuna pate. 

7. Its always worth cooking a few extra spuds, pasta or rice to provide the basis for an extra meal.

East Cork Slow Food

East Cork Slow Food Convivium was established in August 2002.
The latest event was a Slow Food dinner at Café Paradiso in Cork on 21st August. So what’s a slow food dinner? The mere mention of Slow Food causes considerable confusion and conjures up images of hearty stews bubbling away on the stove or lamb shanks braising gently for hours and hours in the simmering oven of an Aga. Not so, although it could incorporate all or any of that. Neither does it mean slow service. 
Slow Food is in fact a philosophy and its now worldwide membership is made up of people who have concern around all kinds of food issues. 

“Slow Food works to counter the degrading effects of industrial and fast food culture that are standardizing taste, and promotes the beneficial effects of the deliberate consumption of nutritious locally grown and indigenous foods. By promoting taste education programs for adults and children, it works towards safeguarding and promoting public awareness of culinary traditions and customs.

The Slow Food Movement supports artisan food producers who make quality products and promotes a philosophy of pleasure. In addition, it encourages tourism that respects and cares for the environment, and – last but not least – Slow Food promotes charity initiatives around the world.

Slow Food seeks to combine pleasure with an understanding of responsibility towards the environment and the world of agricultural production. One fundamental slow food idea is that gastronomes and food enthusiasts must be sensitive to the protection of endangered local cuisines, animal breeds and vegetable species. Slow Food’s aim is to develop a new, less intensive, cleaner model of agriculture, one that is capable of preserving and improving biodiversity and offers prospects to the world’s poorest regions.”

The Slow Food organisation actively supports artisan producers, local butchers, bakers and endangered food cultures. The Slow Food ethos offers a way forward for rejuvenation of Irish agriculture and rural economies through encouraging value-added artisan food production, to a premium world market place.

Every now and then, slow food members and other interested observers get together for a convivial event, could be a tasting, a celebration of artisan producers, a lecture or a fabulous picnic such as the one organised by Clodagh McKenna for the West Cork Convivium at Lough Ine on a sunny Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago.

Denis Cotter and his team of chefs cooked a truly delicious vegetarian dinner. In the very best Slow Food tradition all the seasonal raw materials came from local producers. The event was over-subscribed and those of us who managed to get a ticket felt deeply fortunate, not only because of Denis’s sublime food but to hear Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association, speak on the importance of realising the connection between the quality of the food we eat and our health, an age old message which seems to be overlooked in our frantic search for a fast convenient processed food. In the words of Lady Eve Balfour, founder member of the Soil Association, he reminded us “the health of plant, animal and human are all one and indivisible”. The Soil Association and Slow Food are natural partners, the former passionate about the organic production of healthy plants and animals, the latter equally concerned about the former, but also passionate about taste and quality.

Patrick sees hope for the future in grass roots movements like, Slow Food, Farmers Markets and local food initiatives. 

He also referred to the organic baby food phenomenon, where 80% of sales in the UK are organic and several of the biggest baby food manufacturers are reported to be considering discontinuation of conventional baby food. The hope is that this bulge of concern about how food is produced will continue to gather momentum through the generations.

According to Patrick Holden the Departments of Health and Agriculture and the farming organisations are ignoring at their peril how unstable intensively produced food is becoming and the detrimental consequences this is already beginning to have on public health - a time bomb which needs to be addressed.

With that food for thought, we tucked into dinner. Each course - a celebration of local food was accompanied by a wine chosen specially by Monica Murphy of Febvre & Co. who generously sponsor Slow Food Ireland.

For details of how to join see Hot Tips.

Rigatoni with rocket, broad beans, cherry tomatoes, olives and fresh cheese

From ‘Paradiso Seasons’ by Denis Cotter – published by Atrium
Rocket adds a little spicy kick and the tang of fresh greenery to a pasta dish, but only if you don't cook it too much. In fact, don't cook it at all, but stir it into the cooked pasta just before you serve.. 

Denis uses Knockalara sheep's cheese or Oisin goats' cheese crottins, but ricotta, mascarpone or any mild soft cheese would be fine too. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until just tender. Drain it and return it to the pot. Meanwhile, chop the spring onions into long diagonal pieces. Slice the garlic. Halve the tomatoes; stone the olives and chop them lengthways into halves or quarters. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a wide pan and cook the onion and garlic gently for a minute. Add the tomatoes, olives and broad beans and cook for one minute more until the tomatoes break down a little. Add just a splash of water to the pan to pick up all of the juices, then tip the contents into the pasta pot with another generous glug of olive oil, a generous seasoning of black pepper and a little salt. Heat the pasta through briefly, then stir in the rocket. Serve the pasta and crumble some cheese over each portion. 
450g rigatoni 
4 spring onions 
4 cloves garlic 
1OOg cherry tomatoes 
12 kalamata olives 
120mls olive oil 
4 tablespoons cooked broad beans 
black pepper and salt, to season 
1OOg rocket 
1OOg fresh cheese, from goats; sheep's or cows' milk

Blackberry tart with Calvados ice cream

From Paradiso Seasons by Denis Cotter
Denis says “If you have a regular supply of blackberries, you'll have your own favourite recipes, probably including one for a tart you're very fond of. I hope you also eat huge bowls of berries tossed in sugar with a blob of cream on top, and that in good years you make jam.. Hey, get out there and pick blackberries!! It's going to be winter soon. “
1 cinnamon stick 
300mls milk
5 egg yolks 
125g caster sugar 
300 mls cream 
2 tablespoons Calvados liqueur 

Break the cinnamon stick and put it in a pan with the milk. Heat the milk to just short of boiling for one minute. 
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they are thick and pale. Still whisking, on low speed, pour in the milk through a sieve. Return this egg and milk custard to the pan and simmer, stirring all the time, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Leave the custard to cool before adding the cream and the Calvados. Freeze using an ice cream machine. 
12Og unsalted butter
24Og plain flour
40g caster sugar 
1 egg 
1 tablespoon cornflour 
500g blackberries
l5Og caster sugar 
1 egg, beaten

Rub the butter into the flour, using your fingers or short bursts in a food processor. Transfer this to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Beat the egg lightly and add enough cold water to give 60mls of liquid. Stir this into the flour with a few quick strokes of a wooden spoon, then knead very briefly to get a smooth dough. Divide the dough into two flattened balls and chill them for an hour or more. 

Heat an oven to 19OOC/375°F. Roll one pastry ball to line a tart tin of 26cm diameter and 3cm high, leaving the pastry hanging a little over the edge. Sprinkle the cornflour over, through a sieve. Pile in the blackberries and sprinkle over the sugar. Roll out the second pastry ball to a diameter a few centimetres wider than the tart case. Brush the rim of the lower pastry with water. Use a rolling pin to pick up the second pastry and place it over the tart carefully. Press the edges together and trim off the excess pastry. Press the rim of the pastry with a fork or the flat side of a knife to strengthen the seal. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg and make a couple of cuts in the top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is browned and crisp, and the blackberry juices are bubbling up through the cuts. Leave the tart to cool for at least ten minutes, and serve it warm or at room temperature with the Calvados ice cream or simply a dollop of cream. 
Darina's Foolproof Food

Courgettes or Zucchini with Marjoram

Serves 4
Now is the time that people often have a glut of courgettes, this simple little recipe is delicious.
I’m completely hooked on annual marjoram. The seed is sometimes difficult to track down because it can be called Sweet marjoram or Knotty marjoram, but if you have any little patch at all it’s worth growing because it transforms so many dishes into a feast.

1 lb (450 g) green or golden courgettes or a mixture no more than 6 inches (15 cm) in length
1-2 tablespoons approx. olive oil
1-2 teaspoon chopped annual marjoram or basil

Top and tail the courgettes and cut them into scant ¼ inch (5 mm) slices. Heat the oil, toss in the courgettes and coat in the olive oil. Cook on a medium heat until just tender –4-5 minutes approx. Add the marjoram or basil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Turn into a hot dish and serve immediately.
Courgettes are one of the trickier vegetables to cook. Like mangetout peas they seem to continue cooking at an alarming rate after you’ve taken them out of the pot, so whip them out while they are slightly al dente.

Hot Tips

Have a look at the Slow Food Ireland website  for details of your nearest Convivium and how to join.
The Organic Centre in Rosinver, Co Leitrim, are organizing a Green Festival Northwest from 19-28th September with demonstrations, music and storytelling workshops, stained glass and woodcarving, foraging, guided hill walk, organic food fair and much more …. For details contact Hans at  Tel 072-54338  
Bord Bia have a new guide to Farmers Markets on their website – ‘Pioneering Routes to Market’ including advice on how to set up a market –

The Cork Market

It will be no secret to anyone that the Cork Market is one of my favourite places. Shopping there is a world apart from the robotic experience of pushing a trolley up and down the aisles of even the plushest supermarket. The warm welcome, the banter with the stallholders, the wonderful market aromas, the stalls piled high with a myriad of tempting foods, the smell of Mary Rose’s coffee, the gleaming fresh fish, piles of vegetables, fruit and organic produce, the variety of offal from pigs heads to tripe and drisheen. Round the corner you’ll find homemade pasta and a dozen varieties of olives, Paul Murphy has local honey, thick and unctuous in the jar or still intact in the honeycomb. About a half dozen skilled butchers each with their own loyal following will cut your meat to order – and throw in some cooking tips for free. 

Seems no length ago since Toby Simmonds tentatively set up his tiny stall selling a variety of olives in timber pails – a new age hippy side by side with third and fourth generation traders like Mrs. Aherne and her sister Siobhan who have now retired and are sadly missed from the Princes St end of the market. Now Toby’s Real Olive Co is thriving and has stalls in markets around the country as well as a flourishing wholesale business. Look out for Rachel McCormacks sandwich bar around the back of the Olive Stall in Cork Market for the yummiest juiciest salads, sambos and wraps you can imagine.

1993 was in fact a landmark year on the Cork food scene, that was the year that Denis Cotter and his New Zealand wife Bridget opened Café Paradiso on the Western Road, now arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in these islands. Denis has gone on to be the best selling author of two Café Paradiso cookbooks. A few streets away on Oliver Plunkett Street, Seamus O’Connell bounced onto Cork’s gastro scene when he opened his eclectic restaurant Ivory Tower, still a magnet for the adventurous gourmet, Seamus’s television series has been a terrific success and has done much to focus people’s attention on local food and artisan producers.

Back to the Cork Market - in 1993 a renaissance was taking place there also. Isabelle Sheridan (nee Boquet ), originally from the Loire Valley in France, started to make gorgeous coarse textured pate de campagne and rillettes, out of desperation when there were none to be found in the local shops or ‘charcuterie’. Friends loved them and begged for more, soon there were requests to purchase and so inevitably she began what has now developed into a French deli of sorts, selling glorious French cheeses, charcuterie, quiches, preserves, pickles and tarts, as well as Declan Ryan’s deliciously crusty Arbutus yeast and sourdough breads.

Just around the corner, close to the fish market, Sean Calder-Potts and Josephine Kennedy moved into what seemed initially a huge stall. They set out to be a sandwich bar along the lines of "Pret a Manger" in London. The stall was very big so in an effort to fill the stall, they displayed the sandwich ingredients to sell as well. Demand grew and grew for farmhouse and artisan cheeses so eventually they began to sell cheese, they closed the coffee and sandwich bar (despite having been awarded a star by the Bridgestone Guide for the best sandwiches in the country.) Cheese is still the biggest part of the business. They have two sheet-pasta machines which supply their customers and restaurants with Genovese style rolled pasta made with durum semolina and fresh free-range eggs. Their new premises at the Pier Head in Blackrock, Cork has a laboratoire designed by consultants from CEPROC in Paris. Head Chef Annette Fitzgerald (ex Ballymaloe) oversees the production of all the cooked & prepared food which is sold in the tiny Blackrock shop as well as in the stall in the English Market. It is something akin to a French Traiteur but with a definite Irish accent. Sean says “Our customers come from all over Ireland and the diaspora. Our most valued customers are the local people we see daily and weekly. Ordinary people wanting ordinary food. We believe that these people make up less than one tenth of one percent of the population. Maybe they are extraordinary people for wanting ordinary food?”

So this year is the 10th anniversary celebration of all these businesses whose entrepreneurial owners have made such a valuable contribution to the Cork food scene and to the lives of those of us who really care about the quality of our food – I for one am truly grateful.

On Saturday 6th September every customer who shops at Iago both in the Market and at their Blackrock shop will be given a ticket for an exciting draw. First prize will be a huge hamper worth over E250 and there will be lots of other prizes and I am delighted to donate a prize of two afternoon cookery demonstrations and lunch for two at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

The Cork Market, is situated just off Patrick Street, open every day except Sunday from 9-5.30. Visitors to Cork shouldn’t miss this unique market, the only one of its type in the entire country. Well worth the effort, even when one has to negotiate the current road works on Patrick Street.

Iago, Cork Market (021- 4277047)and The Pier Head, Blackrock, Cork (021-4358870)
Café Paradiso, 16 Lancaster Quay, Western Road, Cork. (021-4277939)
Ivory Tower, Exchange Buildings, corner Princes St./Oliver Plunkett St. (021-4274665)
On the Pigs Back, Cork Market, (021-4270232)
Real Olive Co. Cork Market (021-4270842) 

Meat & Vegetable Lasagne

Annette Fitzgerald from IAGO shared her delicious lasagne recipe with us.
Serves 6
50g Smoked Pancetta finely chopped, 
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 kilo minced beefsteak
3 tablespoons tomato puree
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup full bodied red wine
2 cups tinned tomato
Vegetable layer:
2 red peppers, roasted, peeled & cut in quarters
2 courgettes roasted in 1/4 inch slices
2 aubergines roasted in 1/4 inch slices
Bechamel sauce:
300ml milk
A slice of carrot, a slice of onion, a sprig of rosemary, sage, salt & pepper to taste. Roux to thicken.
Brown pancetta in saucepan with butter & olive oil. Add chopped onion, carrot & celery and sauté over medium heat.
When vegetables have browned, add the minced steak and brown. Add red wine and cook until it evapourates. Add tomato purée, seasoning, mustard & garlic and finally add the tomatoes.
Simmer until the beef is cooked, then adjust the seasoning.

Mix ragu with one cup of bechamel sauce. Put a layer of the mixture on the base of the lasagne dish and cover with a layer of pasta. (If you use fresh pasta there is no need to pre-cook it.) Spread another layer of ragu then another layer of pasta sheets and so-on until you have three layers of ragu and three layers of pasta sheets.
Add a layer of roasted vegetables, Another layer of pasta, another layer of ragu covered with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 c for about 30 minutes or until a nice golden brown on top.
Café Paradiso’s Roasted Aubergine Wraps of Pinenuts, Spinach and Coolea Cheese
From ‘Paradiso Seasons’ by Denis Cotter, published by Cork University Press.
Denis Cotter usually serves these with a tomato-based sauce, such as hot cherry tomato salsa, sundried tomato pesto, a tomato-balsamic sauce, and some grounding, earthy foods, such as grilled polenta and lentils or potatoes, or even a simple risotto. 
2 aubergines 
1kg spinach
200g pinenuts 
fresh basil 
200g mature Coolea cheese, Gruyere or Gouda 
olive oil 

Trim the aubergines lengthways along two sides, then cut them into slices of about lcm thick - you should get five or six from a medium-sized aubergine, and you will need at least three for each portion and a few spares to allow for burnings, accidents and sheer greed. Brush the slices on both sides with olive oil and roast them in a hot oven until soft and browned, about ten minutes. A fan oven should cook both sides at the same time, but you will need to turn the slices over if you are using an oven without a fan. 

Cook the spinach by dropping it into boiling water for a minute or so, cool it in cold water and squeeze all the water from it. Chop it well. Toast the pinenuts very lightly in the oven, then either add them whole to the spinach or crush them a little first. Don't grind them, just break them up a bit with a few taps of a heavy object! Add in some chopped or torn leaves of basil, season well and flavour with a strong olive oil, either a fruity or a peppery one. 

Use a vegetable peeler to shave slices of the cheese and break these into lengths half as long as the aubergine slices.

Place a neat mound of the spinach & pinenuts on the wider half of each aubergine slice and top it with three or four layers of cheese, then fold over the other half and press it gently. Finish all the slices and line them up on baking parchment on an oven tray. When you are ready to serve, bake the wraps in a hot oven until the cheese is at a softly melting stage, and serve them straight away. 

Tripe and Onions

This recipe was given to me by Michael Ryan of Isaacs Restaurant in Cork, this was how his father cooked tripe and onions.
1 lb (450g) tripe
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
cold milk - sufficient to cover
Put the tripe into a saucepan, with the lid on, place on gas ring for 8-10 minutes approx. 
Discard the liquor in the pot, add the sliced onion and cover with cold milk. Simmer gently for 1 hour approx. until the tripe is tender. Strain off the milk, thicken with roux, season with salt and pepper. Strain the back into the saucepan with the tripe, heat through. Check seasoning, it will take quite a bit of pepper.

Serve on a slice of buttered white bread.
Tripe and Drisheen
After adding the thickened liquor back to the saucepan, you could if you wish add some drisheen to the tripe - peel and slice some cooked drisheen, add it to the saucepan and heat through before serving.

Foolproof Food

Glazed Carrots

You might like to try this method of cooking carrots. Admittedly it takes a little vigilance but the resulting flavour is a revelation to many people. 
Buy unwashed carrots, they keep longer and have a much better flavour.
Serves 4-6
1 lb (450g) carrots, Early Nantes and Autumn King have particularly good flavour
½ oz (15g) butter
4 fl ozs (100ml) cold water
Pinch of salt
A good pinch of sugar
Freshly chopped parsley or fresh mint

Cut off the tops and tips, scrub and peel thinly if necessary. Cut into slices 1/3 inch (7mm) thick, either straight across or at an angle. Leave very young carrots whole. Put them in a saucepan with butter, water, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a gentle heat until tender, by which time the liquid should have all been absorbed into the carrots, but if not remove the lid and increase the heat until all the water has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning. Shake the saucepan so the carrots become coated with the buttery glaze. 
Serve in a hot vegetable dish sprinkled with chopped parsley or mint.

Hot Tips
The first Mitchelstown Food Fair appeared to be a resounding success, six thousand people turned up on a blistering hot Sunday when when one would have expected folk to head for the beach in their droves. Yet another indication of the growing demand and deep craving for local food and artisan food products. For a list of the 40 food producers who displayed their wares visit the Ballymaloe Cookery School website 

Irish Lingonberries I was very excited to discover that Derryvilla Farms are now growing a small area of lingonberries in Co Offaly. These berries native to Northern Scandinavian countries make a truly delicious sauce and a fantastic ice-cream. Derryvilla Farm blueberries are in the shops now too, don’t miss them. For details of your nearest outlet contact Nuala O’Donoghue –  Tel 0502-43945 /42882, Tel. 087-2466643, Derryvilla Blueberry Farm, Derryvilla, Portarlington, Co Offaly.

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School - Saturday 20th September – 1 day Foraging Course with Darina Allen –

Darina is an enthusiastic collector of foods that grow wild in the Irish countryside – natural treasures that taste superb – join her for the thrill of the hunt and learn how to use the spoils to best advantage – jams, jellies, soups and salads and much more including sloe gin!

Sorbet and granitas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strawberry Sorbet with Fresh Strawberry Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

Lavender & Honey Granita

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

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

Tomato and Basil Granita

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

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

Watermelon Granita

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

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

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

Blackcurrant Water Ice

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

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

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

Cuisine of the Sun by Roger Verge

Darina's Back to Basics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

Food for Barbecues

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

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

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

1-2 portions of dessert

3-4 drinks

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

Pork Ribs with quick Barbecue Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chargrilled Red Onions with Thyme Leaves

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

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

Sweet and Sticky Drumsticks

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

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

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

Darina Allen’s back to basics 

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

Olive Oil Marinade

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

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

Olive Oil and Ginger Marinade
Use for Pork or chicken

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

Basic Marinade for Chicken and Lamb etc.

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

Yoghurt Marinade

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

Hot Tips 

Seasonal produce

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

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

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

Euro-toques Awards of Merit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carpaccio with Slivers of Desmond, Rocket and Chopped Olives

Serves 12

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

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

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

West Cork Cheese Soufflé

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

For the moulds: Melted butter 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve immediately. 

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

* Can be made ahead up to this point.

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

Plate of Dereenatra Charcuterie with Gherkins and Caper berries

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

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

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

Crusty Foccacia or Ciabbatta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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