Euro-toques Awards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicory with Cashel Blue, dried Cranberries and Pecan nuts

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

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

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

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

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

Baileys Irish Cream Mousse and crushed Praline

Serves 24 

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

24 Chocolate Cases - optional

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

½ pint (300ml) whipped cream 

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

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

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

Meanwhile make the Praline: 

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

To serve 

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

The Emperor loved Spinach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pork, Spinach and Herb Terrine

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

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

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

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

Mince the meat. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve with warm crusty white bread.


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

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

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

Spinach Soup

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

2 tablespoons whipped cream (optional)
Freshly chopped parsley

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

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

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

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

Spinach Mousse

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

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

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

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

Back to basics 

Buttered Spinach

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

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

Method 1

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

Method 2

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

Method 3

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

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

Oeufs Florentine 

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


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

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

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

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

Summer Picnics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shrimps, Mussels or Prawns on Brown Bread with Mayonnaise

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

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

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

Chicken Wings with Sweet Chilli Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve warm with a green salad.

Picnic Scrambled Eggs

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

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

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

Scrambled eggs with Smoked Salmon

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

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Mackerel and Dill

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

Lemon Squares
Makes 24

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

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

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

Top Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Fruit

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackcurrant Ice-cream

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackcurrant Coulis

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

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

Fresh Loganberry Shortcake

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

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

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

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

Strawberry and Balsamic Granita 

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

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

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

Red Currant Jelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darina Allen’s back to basics recipe:

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

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

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

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

Balsamic Vinegar – Aceto Balsamico

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wild Irish Salmon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Poached Salmon with Hollandaise Sauce

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

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

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

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

Hollandaise Sauce

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

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

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

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

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

Salmon Carpaccio with Dill Mayonnaise

Serves 4-6

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

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

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

Seared Fresh Salmon with vine ripened Tomato and Herbs

Serves 8

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

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

British Queens for Sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sean O’Criadain’s Potato and Thyme Leaf Salad

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

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

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

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

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

Roast Potato Salad

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

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

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

Waxy Potatoes with Capers

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

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

Darina Allen’s Back to Basics

Pink Fir Apple Potatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gardens open every day 10-6

Course Schedule 2003  Tel 021-4646785

Much depends on dinner

Much depends on dinner! Our health, vitality, ability to concentrate, all depend to a great extent on the food we eat, consequently its well worth putting as much effort as possible into sourcing good, fresh naturally produced food in season – after all as our much-loved GP, the late Dr Derry McCarthy was fond of saying ‘If you don’t put the petrol in the tank, the car won’t go’. Food is after all the fuel to nourish our bodies.

Nowadays many of us spend our time racing from one thing to the next, always in a mad hurry – in many ways its just a habit – easy to acquire but so difficult to kick. When life takes on this frenetic quality cooking or even stopping to eat meals properly is one of the first things to be sidelined. Easy to get into the mindset that there are more important things to do than stopping to cook or even to eat a meal properly. A great mistake- apart from the obvious importance of the food we eat, one misses out on the relaxation and satisfaction of doing something different and dare I say creative. Allow yourself the time to relax and have fun in the kitchen. One of the greatest pleasures in life and the one that so many memories are made of is sitting down together with family and friends around the kitchen table. When we share a meal a bond is formed, doesn’t have to be an elaborate feast, could just be a boiled egg and soldiers or a bowl of saucy pasta.

Its particularly important to keep the tradition of family meals, this takes tremendous effort nowadays when family members are involved in so many activities, sports, classes, work commitments, are all reasons why family meals have to be eaten at different times, often on the run, but its worth making an effort to have a family meal where everyone sits down together, at least couple of times a week – even if everyone just argues occasionally it keeps the lines of communication open and it may turn into a fun time. A quick message for those of you who are being cooked for – don’t forget to at least offer to help with the washing up and remember a big hug for the cook – it makes the world of difference!

A well stocked store cupboard is even more important than ever nowadays when so many people are trying to keep so many balls in the air simultaneously. If you have lots of pasta, beans, cheese, some salami, a few tins of tomatoes, maybe a piece of chorizo, then one can whip up a myriad of dishes in a few minutes. Combine it with a freezer containing a few judiciously frozen items and you’ll never be stuck. I would always have Tomato fondue, Piperonata and Mushroom a la crème in the freezer. Next week I will give lots of ideas for these three brilliant standbys, but this week I include some delicious and nutritious dishes that can be quickly assembled from your store cupboard.

Busy people who want to be able to whizz up meals in minutes will need to ensure that their store cupboard is always well stocked. The following are some suggestions for items that we find invaluable. Apart from the obvious basic dairy products, butter, milk and eggs (free-range if possible), and items like potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, flour (plain, self-raising, strong brown, strong white, coarse brown) and oatmeal, you’ll find some or all of the following useful - 

Pasta/noodles/ spaghetti/macaroni/ shells/penne etc... Grains, Cous cous, Bulgar, Quinoa, 
Rice, Basmati, Arboria, Thai fragrant .... Sardines, Tuna fish, Anchovies, Tinned Sweetcorn, Tinned Tomatoes, Olives, Avocadoes.
Tinned beans, Chick Peas, Flagolets, Kidney beans, Black-eyed beans and baked beans in tomato sauce. 
Mature Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan cheese
Chicken stock/cube
Extra virgin olive oil, Ground nut and sunflower oil, Red and White wine vinegar, Balsamic vinegar.
English mustard powder and Dijon mustard, Maldon Sea Salt
Harissa or Chilli sauce
Some whole spices eg. Coriander, Cardamon, Nutmeg, Cumin, Cloves, Chilli flakes
Good quality chocolate
Nuts, eg. hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds
Dried Fruit eg currants, sultanas, raisins and Apricots
Homemade jam, Irish Honey, Marmalade
Tortillas – freezer, Pitta Bread - freezer
Cream Cracker or Carrs Water Biscuits
Ballymaloe Tomato Relish, Jalapeno relish and a few chutnies
Soy Sauce - Kikkoman
Nam pla - Fish Sauce
Sweet Chilli Sauce, Oyster Sauce,Thai Curry Paste, Plum Sauce,
Chillies and Chilli flakes
Sesame Oil
Salami, Chorizo, and Kabanossi sausage
Good ice cream
Frozen fruit e.g. raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries etc, 

Cannellini Bean, Tomato and Chorizo Stew with Rosemary

Omit the chorizo for a delicious vegetarian meal

Serves 8-10
115g (4ozs) sliced onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed 
½ - 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
900g (2lbs) very ripe tomatoes in Summer, or 2 tins (x 14oz) of tomatoes in Winter, but peel before using
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
2 x 400g (14oz) tins haricot or cannellini beans
8-12ozs (225-350g) chorizo, sliced
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

Heat the oil in a non reactive saucepan. Add the sliced onions and garlic and chilli flakes, toss until coated, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Slice the fresh tomatoes or tinned and add with all the juice to the onions. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar (tinned tomatoes need lots of sugar because of their high acidity). Add a generous sprinkling of rosemary. Cook covered for just 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, or until the tomato softens. (Cook fresh tomatoes for a shorter time to preserve the lively fresh flavour). Add the beans and chorizo, continue to cook, add chopped fresh rosemary and serve. Alternatively, add lots of chopped parsley and coriander instead of the rosemary for a milder flavour.

Butterbean, Kabanossi and Cabbage Soup

Serves 6
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
6oz (170g) onion, chopped
6 oz (170g) kabanossi sausage, sliced
¼ Savoy cabbage
14oz (400g) tin of tomatoes
2 pints (1.15L) Home-made Chicken stock
1 x 14oz (400g) butter beans, haricot beans or black eyed beans
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
4 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a saute pan over a medium heat, add the onion, cover and sweat until soft but not coloured. Slice the kabanossi and toss for 2-3 minutes or until it begins to crisp slightly – the fat should run. Chop the tomatoes fairly finely in the tin and add with all the juice to the pan, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil and cook on a high heat for 5-6 minutes, add the boiling stock and butter beans. Bring back to the boil, thinly slice the cabbage and add. Cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, add the chopped parsley. Taste and correct the seasoning and serve with lots of crusty bread.

Risotto alla Parmigiana

Serves 6
Risotto is a brilliant standby, made in just 30 minutes, it can be basic with some freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino, and it can include peas, broad beans, rocket leaves, roast tomatoes, shrimps, courgettes, mushrooms, smoked salmon, and much more besides can be added to enhance or embellish the risotto.

1-1.3L (1¾ - 2¼ pints) broth or or light chicken stock 
30g (1oz) butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
400g (14oz) Arboria or Carnaroli rice
30g (1oz) butter
50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano is best)
sea salt

First bring the broth or stock to the boil, turn down the heat and keep it simmering. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the oil, add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the rice and stir until well coated (so far the technique is the same as for a pilaff and this is where people become confused). Cook for a minute or so and then add 150ml (¼pint) of the simmering broth, stir continuously and as soon as the liquid is absorbed add another 150ml (¼pint) broth. Continue to cook, stirring continuously. The heat should be brisk, but on the other hand if its too hot the rice will be soft outside but still chewy inside. If its too slow, the rice will be gluey. Its difficult to know which is worse so the trick is to regulate the heat so that the rice bubbles continuously. The risotto should take about 25-30 minutes to cook. 

When it is cooking for about 20 minutes, add the broth about 4 tablespoons at a time. I use a small ladle. Watch it very carefully from there on. The risotto is done when the rice is cooked but is still ever so slightly 'al dente'. It should be soft and creamy and quite loose, rather than thick. The moment you are happy with the texture, stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan cheese, taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve immediately.
Risotto does not benefit from hanging around.

Darina’s back to basics–

Pan grilled chicken breast
Pan Grilled Chicken breasts with Sweet Chilli Sauce 
Seek out free-range and organic poultry whenever possible.
Use skinless chicken breasts.

Separate the fillet from the underneath side of the meat, cook separately or slice thinly at an angle and quickly stir-fry. The chicken breast cooks more evenly when the fillet is removed.

Serves 4
4 Chicken breasts
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
Sweet Chilli Sauce

Just before serving cook the chicken breasts. 
Heat a cast iron grill pan until quite hot. Brush each chicken breast with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the chicken breasts on the hot grill for about a minute, then reverse the angle to mark attractively, cook until golden brown on both sides. The grill pan may be transferred to a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4. Be careful not to overcook the chicken breasts, they will take approx. 15 minutes in total.
Serve with Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Darina's Hot tips

2nd National Food Forum and Food Fair will take place at Brook Lodge, Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow on Sunday 6th July, entitled ‘Diversity- the future of Food Production’ – organised by Euro-Toques Ireland – contact Brid Banville at 01-6779996,  

Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso in Cork has recently published his second cookbook -‘Paradiso Seasons’ (Cork University Press) focussing on his favourite vegetables at their prime moment and creating sumptuous recipes from them – currently book of the month at Waterstones – more on this later.

Ballybrado Ltd of Cahir, Co Tipperary have just launched their new bacon rashers – not only organic, but cured without nitrates – certified by the Organic Trust. Available from Tesco nationwide. 

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School –
A Taste of California - 30th June
A Day in Tuscany – 1st July
Jams and Preserves – 2 July (½ day)
Introductory Courses Parts 1 & 2 - 7-11 July, 14-18 July.
Course Schedule 2003  Tel 021-4646785

Buttery scrumptious scones

Scones are now available in practically ever forecourt in the country, cheap, cheerful and extraordinarily good value - still there’s nothing quite like a tender buttery scone, fresh from the oven with homemade jam and cream. 

In the US, scones, or biscuits as they are called over there, can often be much more exciting and innovative than over here. The Americans are not content just to have a plain or fruit scone, they add lots of extra bits, craisins, dried cherries, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, crystallised ginger, or whatever the fancy takes.

Scones are flavoured with cocoa, coffee, orange, lemon, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger… 

Scones are often iced for extra excitement and may be served with maple syrup or honey or fruit butters. A big favourite, particularly in summer, is strawberry shortcake, which is made not with shortbread as we know it, but with a fresh buttery scone.

Simply split in half and fill, serve oozing with softly whipped cream and sliced sugared strawberries. 

I’ve been experimenting with a few variations on this theme, try chocolate shortcake with strawberry and cream or better still, sliced bananas, Nutella and cream – wow! You’ll never look back!

Fool Proof Food Recipe -

Mummy’s Sweet White Scones and variations

Makes 18-20 scones using a 72 cm (3inch) cutter
900g (2lb) plain white flour
170g (6oz) butter
3 free range eggs
pinch of salt
55g (2oz) castor sugar
3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
450ml (15floz) approx. milk to mix
For glaze:
egg wash (see below)
granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones

First preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas 9.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round. Roll out to about 22cm (1inch) thick and cut or stamp into scones. Put onto a baking sheet – no need to grease. Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one in granulated sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve split in half with home made jam and a blob of whipped cream or just butter and jam.
Back to top
Egg wash:
Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This is brushed over the scones and pastry to help them to brown in the oven.

Fruit Scones
Add 110g (4oz) plump sultanas to the above mixture when the butter has been rubbed in. Continue as above.

Lexia Raisin Scones
Add 110g (4oz) lexia raisins to the basic recipe and continue. 

Cherry Scones
Add 110g (4oz) of quartered glace cherries to the basic mixture when the butter has been rubbed in. Continue as above.

Craisin Scones or Dried Cherry Scones
Substitute 110g (4oz) of craisins or dried cherries. Continue as in master recipe.

Cinnamon Scones
Add 2-3 teaspoons of freshly ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients.

Crystallized Ginger Scones
Add 110g (4oz) chopped crystallized or drained ginger in syrup to the dry ingredients and continue as above. 

Candied Citrus Peel Scones
110g best quality candied orange and lemon peel to the dry ingredients after the butter has been rubbed in, coat the citrus peel well in the flour before adding the liquid.

Cinnamon Scones
Add 4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon to the dry ingredients in the basic mixture.
Mix 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon with 55g granulated sugar. Dip the top of the scones in the sugar mixed with the cinnamon.. Bake as above.

Poppy Seed Scones
Add 4 tablespoons of poppy seeds to the dry ingredients after the butter has been rubbed in, proceed as in basic recipe. 
Serve with freshly crushed strawberries and cream

Chocolate Chip Scones
Chop 110g best quality sweet chocolate, add to the dry ingredients after the butter has been rubbed in and proceed as above.

Craisin Scones
Add 110g dried cranberries (Craisins) to the dry ingredients after the butter has been rubbed in, proceed as above.

Scones with Orange Butter
Serve the freshly baked scones with orange butter.
Orange butter
3 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
170g (6oz) butter
200g (7oz) icing sugar

Cream the butter with the finely grated orange rind. Add the sifted icing sugar and beat until fluffy. 

Lemon Scones
Substitute lemon for orange in the above recipe.

Useful tip:
Scone mixture may be weighed up ahead - even the day before. Butter may be rubbed in but do not add raising agent and liquid until just before baking.

American Strawberry Shortcake

Makes 18 scones
1 basic scone recipe (see recipe)
8oz (225g) Irish strawberries
2 teaspoons caster sugar
8½ fl.oz (284ml) carton double cream
2 teaspoons icing sugar

6-8 whole strawberries
fresh mint or strawberry leaves
icing sugar
Prepare the scones according to the recipe. While they are baking, prepare the strawberries by washing, hulling and cutting into quarters. Toss with the caster sugar and set aside.

Shortly before serving, whip the cream with the icing sugar. Split the cooled scones and top the bottom half with a blob of sweetened cream and a few sugared strawberries. Add the tops, sieve a little icing sugar over and decorate with whole or halved strawberries and fresh mint or strawberry leaves.

Chocolate Scones or Chocolate Shortcake with Bananas

Makes 12-14 scones
450g (1lb) plain white flour
75g (3oz) butter
55g (2oz) castor sugar
25g (1oz) cocoa
2 free range eggs
pinch of salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
200ml (7floz) approx. milk to mix

Green and Black chocolate spread or Nutella
Softly whipped cream
Sliced bananas or raspberries

First preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas 9.
Make the scones in the usual way. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until well-risen and golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.

To serve
Split each scone in half.
Smear generously with Green and Black Chocolate spread or Nutella. Top with a blob of cream and some sliced bananas or fresh raspberries. Enjoy! 
The secret of success:

Use a large wide bowl. 

Sieve the flour at least once. Use butter, it makes all the difference to the flavour. Rub the butter in coarsely. If the shortening is rubbed in too finely the scones will be dense and heavy. Resist the temptation to use a food processor, even though its fast - the scones will be close and leaden. 

Add all the liquid at once and mix quickly in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl, in ever increasing concentric circles. When you get to the outside of the bowl (a matter of seconds), the scone dough is made. 

Handle gently, don’t knead, just tidy and roll or pat into a round or square, stamp out as many scones as possible first time, re-rolled dough always results in tougher scones. 

Roll or pat to one inch thick, this really matters. If the dough is too thick, the scones will be cooked on top and underneath but still doughy in the centre, or they may topple over while baking.

If the dough is rolled too thinly, the proportion will be wrong - too much crust and not enough crumb. Put immediately into a fully preheated oven and bake.

Cool the scones on a wire rack as soon as they are baked. Freshly baked scones are best.

Top Tips –
Choose precooked bread carefully. It is frequently undercooked and consequently indigestible.
Richard Leigh-Graham sells delicious sublime buttery brioche at the Clonakilty Farmers Market every Thursday – cut into slices and freeze, so you can toast a piece for breakfast at a moment’s notice, also great with chicken liver pate.
Organico in Bantry is also famous for its range of organic breads – White, Granary, Wholemeal, Spelt, Rye Sourdough as well as scones, cakes, muffins, flapjacks…….
Barrons in Cappoquin for traditional bread baked in their traditional stone ovens – Esther and Joe Barron also run a lovely tea shop on the premises.
Collins Bakery in Youghal make lovely bread which they sell from their shop on North Main Street- loaves, grinders, rolls, wholemeal loaves and fruity bracks

Bagels, Tortillas and Pitta Bread are now widely available, pop some into your freezer - a brilliant standby when you want to make delicious sandwiches and wraps.
Blaas – the delicious Waterford speciality are available in shops and supermarkets all over the city.

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Barbecue Courses Part 1 & 2 - 26 & 27th June
A Taste of California – 30th June
A Day in Tuscany – 1st July
Jams & Preserves made Simple - ½ day 2nd July
Course Schedule 2003

A Fondue Party to Feed Friends

A fondue party – sounds very sixties, but it’s a terrific way to entertain – so easy to prepare, interactive and lots of fun. A melting Cheddar Cheese fondue is comforting and irresistible. The classic is made with a mixture of Gruyere and Emmental, with some dry white wine, Kirsch and potato flour – easier to achieve in Austria or Switzerland than over here. 

However, one can make a delicious Cheddar cheese fondue in minutes. Place yourself strategically at the table, because if you accidentally drop your bread into the pot, you must kiss the person on your left.

A fondue set is not completely essential but its much easier and more glam if one has a set complete with burner, fondue pot and long handled forks. It will last for years and can be whipped out at moment’s notice when you want to feed lots of hungry friends with the minimum of fuss and bother.

The process is simple, just grate the cheese, crush garlic, chop some nice fresh parsley, have a pot of Ballymaloe country relish or a homemade tomato chutney and drop of dry white wine at the ready.

A Fondue Bourgignon is a different process, the meat, succulent cubes of beefsteak are cooked at the table and then dipped in a variety of sauces – garlic mayonnaise, horseradish sauce, béarnaise sauce would all be delicious.

Cubes of lamb also work well, served with an onion sauce and perhaps an apple and mint jelly. You’ll need lots of ventilation for fondue bourgignon and be careful to transfer the meat onto your plate, rather than eat off the fondue fork which can be blisteringly hot. 
Another of my favourite suppers, but not exactly similar is Raclette. For this you will definitely need a Raclette set to melt the slices of special Raclette cheese to scrape over your cooked potatoes, an accompanying green salad and perhaps a few pickles are all that are needed.

Chocolate fondue is rich and decadent, you’ll need lots of fruit and how about some squishy marshmallows to dunk in the last of the chocolate – sublime and so easy.

Ballymaloe Cheese Fondue

Myrtle Allen devised this Cheese Fondue recipe made from Irish Cheddar cheese. It's a great favourite at Ballymaloe and even though it's a meal in itself it may be made in minutes and is loved by adults and children alike. A fondue set is obviously an advantage but not essential.
Serves 2
2 tablesp. white wine
2 small cloves of garlic, crushed
2 teasp. Ballymaloe Tomato Relish or any tomato chutney
2 teasp. freshly chopped parsley
6 ozs (170g) grated mature Cheddar cheese 
Crusty white bread
Put the white wine and the rest of the ingredients into a small saucepan or fondue pot and stir. Just before serving put over a low heat until the cheese melts and begins to bubble. Put the pot over the fondue stove and serve immediately with fresh French bread or cubes of ordinary white bread crisped up in a hot oven.

Fondue Bourgignon

Serves 4
This meat fondue is fun for a small dinner party.
900g (2lb) trimmed fillet or sirloin of beef cut into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes (just before service)
Garlic mayonnaise 
Horseradish sauce 
Bearnaise sauce 
a selection of freshly cooked vegetables and a green salad

A Fondue set

Half fill the fondue pot with olive oil. Divide the cubes of meat between 4 bowls. Place the fondue lamp on the table, light it and put the saucepan of hot olive oil on top. Provide each guest with a bowl of meat cubes and a plate and 1 or preferably 2 fondue forks in addition to their other cutlery. Each guest spears one cube of meat at a time on their fondue fork and cooks it to their taste - rare - medium, or well done.

Serve the sauces, vegetables and salad separately

Bearnaise Sauce

A classic sauce – also great with a steak or roast beef
4 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
4 tablespoons dry white wine 
2 teaspoons finely chopped shallots 
A pinch of freshly ground pepper 
1 tablespoon freshly chopped French tarragon leaves
2 egg yolks (preferably free-range) 
115-175g (4-6 oz) butter approx., salted or unsalted depending on what it is being served with

If you do not have tarragon vinegar to hand, use a wine vinegar and add some extra chopped tarragon. 

Boil the first four ingredients together in a low heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan until completely reduced and the pan is almost dry but not browned. Add 1 tablespoon of cold water immediately. Pull the pan off the heat and allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes.

Whisk in the egg yolks and add the butter bit by bit over a very low heat, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece; it will gradually thicken. If it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly ‘scrambling’, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped French tarragon and taste for seasoning. 

If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low. Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to a coating consistency. It is important to remember, however, that if you are making Bearnaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage. If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce!

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

Keep the sauce warm in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water or in a Thermos flask until you want to serve it. 

Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish grows wild in many parts of Ireland and looks like giant dock leaves. If you can=t find it near you, plant some in your garden. It is very prolific and the root which you grate can be dug up at any time of the year.
Serve with roast beef, smoked venison or smoked mackerel.
Serves 8 - 10
2 -3 heaped tablesp. grated horseradish
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
3 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
8 fl ozs (250 ml/1 cup) softly whipped cream

Scrub the horseradish root well, peel and grate on a ‘slivery grater’. Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Fold in the softly whipped cream but do not overmix or the sauce will curdle. It keeps for 2-3 days: cover so that it doesn=t pick up flavours in the fridge.

This is a fairly mild horseradish sauce. If you want to really Aclear the sinuses@, increase the amount of horseradish!

Chocolate Fondue

Serves 6 approx.
8 fl ozs (250ml) best quality cream
8 ozs (225g) milk or dark chocolate or a mixture, chopped roughly
A selection of fresh fruit – bananas, strawberries, raspberries, kumquats, pineapple, mango…..
A fondue set
Bring the cream to boiling point in a fondue pot. Add the chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until it has completely melted. Set the pot on the fondue stove. Serve a selection of fresh fruit in season. Dip the whole, quartered, or sliced fruit into the melted chocolate and enjoy.

Raclette cheese – allow about 6ozs per person
freshly boiled potatoes -3 – 4 per person
Lettuce - 3 – 4 leaves per person
Pickles, optional - 3 – 4 per person
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Raclette Stove
Put the Raclette stove in the centre of the table and turn on the heat. Cut the cheese into scant 3 inch (5mm) thick slices and put a slice onto each little pan.

Meanwhile serve freshly boiled potatoes and crisp lettuce on hot plates to each person. Just as soon as the cheese melts, each person spoons it over their potatoes and put another piece on to melt. Raclette is great fun for a dinner party.

Darina Allen’s back to basics recipe

Home made Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is what we call a 'mother sauce' in culinary jargon. In fact it is the 'mother' of all the cold emulsion sauces, so once you can make a Mayonnaise you can make any of the daughter sauces by just adding some extra ingredients.

I know it is very tempting to reach for the jar of 'well known brand' but most people don't seem to be aware that Mayonnaise can be made even with a hand whisk, in under five minutes, and if you use a food processor the technique is still the same but it is made in just a couple of minutes. The great secret is to have all your ingredients at room temperature and to drip the oil very slowly into the egg yolks at the beginning. The quality of your Mayonnaise will depend totally on the quality of your egg yolks, oil and vinegar and it's perfectly possible to make a bland Mayonnaise if you use poor quality ingredients.

2 egg yolks, preferably free range
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of English mustard or ¼ teaspoon French mustard
1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar
8 fl ozs (250ml) oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) - We use 6 fl ozs (175ml) arachide oil and 2 fl ozs (50ml) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1
Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.
Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don't get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

If the Mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled Mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.

Aoili or Garlic Mayonnaise and variations

ingredients as above
1-4 clove of garlic, depending on size
2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Crush the garlic and add to the egg yolks just as you start to make the Mayonnaise. Finally add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

Note: Here is a tip for crushing garlic. Put the whole clove of garlic on a board, preferably one that is reserved for garlic and onions. Tap the clove with a flat blade of a chopping knife, to break the skin. Remove the skin and discard. Then sprinkle a few grains of salt onto the clove. Again using the flat blade of the knife, keep pressing the tip of the knife down onto the garlic to form a paste. The salt provides friction and ensures the clove won't shoot off the board!

Basil Mayonnaise 
Pour boiling water over ¾ oz (20g) of basil leaves, count to 3, drain immediately and refresh in cold water. Chop and add to the egg yolks and continue to make the Mayonnaise in the usual way.

Tomato and Basil Mayonnaise 
Add 1-2 tablespoons of aromatic tomato pureé to the Basil Mayonnaise.

Chilli Basil Mayonnaise 
Add a good pinch of chilli powder to the egg yolks when making Garlic Mayonnaise, omit the parsley and add the basil instead. Great with salads and sandwiches.

Spicy Mayonnaise
Add 1-2 teaspoons Ballymaloe tomato relish to the basic mayonnaise. Add ½-1 teaspoon chilli sauce to taste.

Wasabi Mayonnaise 
Add 1 - 2 tablespoons of Wasabi paste to the eggs instead of mustard.

Roast Red Pepper Mayonnaise 
Add 1-2 roast red peppers, seeded and peeled (do not wash)
Purée the red pepper flesh, add purée and juices to the Mayonnaise. Taste and correct seasoning. 

Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise
Add 1-2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard to the basic mayonnaise.

Lemon Mayonnaise
Use lemon juice instead of vinegar in the basic mayonnaise.

Fennel Mayonnaise
Rick Stein introduced us to this delicious sauce. Add 3 teaspoons Pernod and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fennel bulb to the basic mayonnaise recipe.

Dill Mayonnaise
Served with salmon, prawns….. Add 3-4 tablesp. freshly chopped dill to the mayonnaise.

Darina Allen’s Top Tips

New seasons Goat cheese
We’ve been enjoying the new season’s goat cheese for the past few weeks. Just yesterday Tom Biggane and his son William delivered me two wheels of Clonmore cheese. This semi-hard cheese is made from the milk of their own free-range goat herd, hand-milked by his wife Lena on their farm near Charleville.

This cheese has a delicious mild, goaty aroma, with a wonderful rich depth of flavour – we ate slice after slice Available from Sheridans in Dublin and Galway and IAGO in Cork’s English Market. Tel. 063-70490 for details of a stockist near you.

Our Irish farmhouse cheese makers have done much to change the image of Irish food and brought honour to Ireland for the past 20 years – there are now around 100 in virtually very county in Ireland. They are represented by CAIS, the Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers Guild, whose Chairperson is Mary Burns of Ardrahan, (029-78099). Big congratulations are due to Mary for recently getting the award of Irish Farmhouse Cheesmaker of the Year at the IFEX Exhibition at the RDS.

In Kenmare look out for JAMS Café –
This busy cheerful café just off the main square serves a wide range of snacks all day – salads, hot dishes, juicy sandwiches, an array of tempting cakes, pies and desserts and a choice of coffees.
Leitrim Food Fare 2003, 19th June 2003 12pm – 6pm Bush Hotel, Carrick on Shannon 
Sample and savour the extensive range of wholesome and delicious food produced in Co Leitrim. Cookery Demonstrations by celebrity chef Neven McGuire. 

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School
Course Schedule 2003 
Ballymaloe Buffet Course 15-18 June 
Barbecue Course Parts 1 & 2 – 26 & 27 June
A Taste of California 30 June
A Day in Tuscany 1 July


There were two big food bashs in London this weekend and enough excitement to entice me to give up my weekend in the countryside to head for the bright lights of the metropolis.

On Sunday evening Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers threw a terrific party to celebrate the launch of their newest cookbook –River Café Easy. Hundreds of friends, River Café fans, food and wine writers and devotees turned up. They celebrated enthusiastically with the two ‘belladonnas’, sipped lots of bubbly prosecco and nibbled a selection of gorgeous bruschetta on chargrilled sourdough bread. One was more delicious than the next, Tomato and black olive with rocket, Broad bean pecorino with fresh mint leaves, Sweet oven roasted cherry tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella, garlic and lemon, Crushed fava beans, mozzarella and black olives, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Stephen Parle, past student of the school who has been cooking at the River Café for over a year, was part of the busy kitchen brigade who were busy turning out bruschetta as fast as they were gobbled, and gobbled they were with indecent haste by the great and the good of the London food scene. Madhur Jaffrey was over from New York, Claudia Roden, Roly Leigh, Terry Durack, Monty Don…….

But so too was the chap who supplies the veg to the River Café, some of the farmhouse cheesemakers, wine suppliers – it was a wonderfully relaxed affair, lots of people brought their children who bebopped to the music of Pierre La Rue’s band and queued up with the rest of us for homemade ice-cream cornets.

The second bash - The Glenfiddich Food and Wine Awards, held this year in Vinopolis close to the Borough Market, have turned into the Oscars of the UK food scene. This was my first taste of this event which has been running for 33 years (I was nominated for an award in the Magazine Cookery Writer category for a series I wrote for Waitrose Food Illustrated Magazine, called ‘Pass it on’). 

Here the Glenfiddich whiskey flowed and leading style bar mixologists Alessandro Palzzi, Colin Appiah and Daniel Warner, dispensed cocktails from behind a counter made of ice- Glenfiddich Aurora, Glenfiddich Fifteen and Glenfiddich Zander - again the celebs were out in force. Antony Worrall Thompson, fresh from his stint on ‘I’m a Celebrity – get me out of here’ regaled us with stories. I hugely admire him for participating – such a gamble but they raised one million and seventy three thousand pounds for charity. 

Jamie Oliver won the Television award, narrowly pipping Rick Stein at the post. The programme ‘Jamie’s Kitchen’ was praised for its entertaining, inspiring and utterly compulsive viewing, covering the subject of food from a broad range of angles, and extending the appeal of the programme to non-foodies through its soap opera style. The programme enhanced Oliver’s credibility with the general public, a point reflected by the fact that he was also awarded the GQ/Glenfiddich Food and Drink Personality of the Year 2003.

The coveted Glenfiddich Trophy was awarded to drink writer and broadcaster Andrew Jefford, a veteran in the food and drink arena, who consistently produce incredible, intelligent, thought-provoking observation pieces, which challenge the readers’ and listeners’ perception. Jefford was also awarded the Drink Writer and Wine Writer Awards for 2003.

This year’s Glenfiddich Independent Spirit Award awarded in recognition of a piece of work or progressive individual or campaign that is thought to have made an outstanding contribution towards widening the understanding of food and drink in Britain was picked up by James Pavitt of the National Association of Farmers Markets, for his role in the establishment and launch of a farmers’ market certification scheme, which aims to preserve and protect the ethic of true farmers’ markets by identifying those markets that are local producers exclusively selling their own produce directly to the public. The Certification scheme was launched in June 2002.

The food there was wittily catered for by The Moving Venue Company, based in Deptford South East London. 

A series of canapés and mini meals, first in cornets – Peking Duck, Salmon Cornets, Tandoori Lamb and Guacamole Pinto Tacos, then in bowls – Caesar Salad, Sausage & Mash with caramelized onion gravy, and Roasted Pimento & Courgette Risotto, on plates – Seared Tuna Loin with Sauce Vierge, Smoked Haddock Fish Cake, Steak & Chip with Bearnaise Sauce, and finally in shot glasses a choice of a boozy Glenfiddich trifle (Tipsy Laird) or a delicious Chocolate mousse with Spiced pear compote (Tartan Dream).
River Cookbook Easy by Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers, published by Ebury Press.

Asparagus and Anchovy Antipasta

800g/1 ¾ lbs asparagus
6 anchovy fillets
150g/5ozs unsalted butter
½ lemon
extra virgin olive oil
50g/2ozs parmesan

Soften the butter. Rinse, dry and roughly chop the anchovies. In a bowl mix the anchovies with lemon juice and black pepper, then with a fork mix with the butter.
Boil the asparagus in salted water until tender. Drain and season and drizzle with olive oil. Place the asparagus on warm plates. Spoon over the anchovy butter, and scatter with parmesan shavings.

Choose asparagus with tightly closed tips and firm stalks. Asparagus steamers are designed to protect the fragile tips as they cook standing upright. Alternatively, lay the asparagus flat in a large frying pan and cover with boiling salted water.

Beef Fillet with Thyme

500g/18ozs beef fillet
30g/1 ¼ oz black peppercorns
3 tablespoons thyme leaves
extra virgin olive oil
3 lemons
100g/3 ½ ozs parmesan
100g/3 ½ ozs wild rocket leaves

Grind the peppercorns and mix with ½ a tablespoon of salt and the thyme. Rub the fillet lightly with olive oil, then rub the pepper mixture into the beef. Heat a ridged griddle pan to very hot, and sear the beef on all sides. Cool.
Use a long, sharp-bladed knife to slice the beef as thinly as possible. Place the slices on a board and press with the flat blade of the knife to extend each slice.
Cover a cold plate with the beef. Season, and drizzle over the juice of ½ a lemon.
Shave the parmesan. Toss the rocket with olive oil and a little more lemon juice.
Scatter the leaves over the beef, then put the parmesan shavings on top. Drizzle over more olive oil, and serve with lemon.

Plum and Orange Cake

500g/18ozs ripe plums
1 orange
50g/2ozs caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
150g/5ozs unsalted butter
150g/5ozs caster sugar
2 organic, free range eggs
85g/3 ½ ozs self-raising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
100g/3 ½ ozs blanched almonds
1 orange
30g/ 1 ¼ oz unsalted butter
25g/1 oz muscovado sugar
50g/2oz flaked almonds

Finely grate the rind and squeeze the juice of the orange. Grind the almonds in a food processor.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas Mark 4.
Halve and stone the plums and put in an ovenproof dish with the sugar, the orange juice and rind. Add the split vanilla pod and bake for 20 minutes. Cool. Scrape in the vanilla seeds.

Grease a 25cm round spring-form tin, lined with parchment paper, with extra butter.
Soften the butter and beat with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one. Fold in the flour, baking powder and ground almonds.
Pour into the tin and push the plums and their juices into and over the cake. Bake in the oven for ½ hour.

For the topping, finely grate the orange rind. Melt the butter and stir in the sugar, zest and flaked almonds. Spread this over the half-baked cake, lower the heat to 320ºF/160ºC/Gas Mark 3 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Cool the cake in the tin.

Darina Allen’s back to basics -

I adore compotes and virtually always have a bowl of poached fruit in the fridge. It changes with and within each season, starting in January with the tongue twister, a Compote of Kumquats – which gives way in Spring to Poached Rhubarb. Just as soon as the tender young shoots of rhubarb appear in the forcing pots. Poaching rhubarb is a tricky business it can so easily dissolve into a mush, the secret is to put the rhubarb pieces with cold syrup, bring them gently to the boil, simmer for just 1 minute then turn off the heat and allow the rhubarb to continue to cook in the covered saucepan.

At the end of May we scan the hedgerows for the first of the elderflowers, just as soon as it blossoms, we know its time to search under the prickly branches of the gooseberry bushes. the fruit will be hard and green, but perfect for poaching. The elderflowers imbue the gooseberries with a wonderfully haunting muscat flavour. Unlike rhubarb, gooseberries must be allowed to burst in the cooking so the syrup can penetrate.

Most fruit compotes keep for several days in the fridge and in some cases even for even longer. They also freeze well. Making a fruit compote is a simple but very useful technique.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb and strawberries are a wonderful combination and now that strawberries have a longer season we can enjoy them together.

Serves 4

1 lb (450g) red rhubarb, e.g. Timperely Early
16 fl ozs (scant 450ml) stock syrup (see below)
½ - 1 lb (225 - 450g) fresh strawberries, Cambridge Favourite, Elsanta or Rapella
To Serve
Pouring cream
Light biscuits 

Cut the rhubarb into 1 inch (2.5cm) pieces. Put the cold syrup into a stainless steel saucepan add the rhubarb, cover, bring to the boil and simmer for just 1 minute, then turn off the heat and leave the rhubarb in the covered saucepan until just cold. Hull the strawberries, slice lengthways and add to the rhubarb compote. Chill and serve with a little pouring cream and a light biscuit.

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

Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote

When I'm driving through country lanes in late May or early June, suddenly I spy the elderflower coming into bloom. Then I know its time to go and search on gooseberry bushes for the hard, green fruit, far too under-ripe at that stage to eat raw, but wonderful cooked in tarts or fools or in this delicious Compote.
Elderflowers have an extraordinary affinity with green gooseberries and by a happy arrangement of nature they are both in season at the same time.
Serves 6-8
2 lbs (900g) green gooseberries
2 or 3 elderflower heads
1 pint (600ml) cold water
1 lb (450g) sugar

First top and tail the gooseberries. Tie 2 or 3 elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put in a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold. Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.

Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool

Liquidise the compote, mix with softly whipped cream to taste - about 2 volume of whipped cream to fruit puree. Serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.

Top Tips

Focus on Fruit – 

This is the name of a joint promotion just launched by the Health Promotion Unit and Bord Glas – the object is to try to instil the message of the importance of eating ‘Four or More’ fruit and vegetable a day, with an emphasis on the convenience, versatility and great taste of fruit.

BIM are currently producing a series of recipe cards with quick and delicious ideas to promote fish in our everyday diets – what about Seafood Wraps – using soft tortillas filled with salmon or prawns or other tasty fish - look out for these cards on the fish counter or at your fishmonger. 

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland recently announced a public consultation process on proposed changes in food safety legislation now available through its website. This new ‘consultations’ section of the website is seen by the FSAI as a valuable tool in giving people an arena to have their say on upcoming legislation and for the Authority to gauge both consumer and industry views on key food issues. Views are currently being sought on Flavourings and Food Ingredients with Flavouring Properties for use in and on Food – so make your opinions known. 

Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School –

Australian Guest Chef Maggie Beer – 9-11 June
Ballymaloe Buffet Course – 15-18 June
Barbecue Course Part 1 - 26th June. Part 2 – 27th June
For details of these and other courses tel 021-4646785


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