ArchiveApril 2005

Patricia Wells at home in Provence

Can a house change one’s life? I wouldn’t have believed it. But almost from the day Patricia and Walter Wells first saw Chanteduc – their 18th Century farmhouse in northern Provence – their future was altered forever. Ever since the wooded ten acres on top of a stony hill in Vaison–la–Romaine became theirs in 1984, Patricia says that she and her husband Walter have looked differently at the world.
Chanteduc – a tumble-down mas whose name poetically translates as ‘song of the owl’ – turned what was to have been a Paris interlude into a permanent sejour in France. And what was to have been a weekend house became a home, a lifestyle, an obsession, an extension of their very personalities.
Almost before they’d unpacked their bags in Provence, they had more French friends than they had made in all their time in Paris. Within a year, they could no longer even remember life before Provence. For them, it symbolised all the essential elements of happiness they sought in life – friends, family, food and feasts. It opened their eyes, their ears, their sensibilities to the rituals of French daily life in the countryside. Before, they had only read about this life , and finally they were witnesses, participants; they were making it happen. Was it just the sun, or did this place have a magic way of magnifying ordinary pleasures?
Before long, they could not go to town for a morsel of goat cheese or a sack of nails without the errand turning into a social event. Conversation is central to a Provencal’s life: so there was always talk of the sun (or lack of it); talk of the raging local wind known as the mistral, talk of the tourists (or lack of them); talk of the latest scandal or outrage in faraway Paris.
Weather – be it sunshine, rain, or drought – became a preoccupation, for whatever happened in the sky affected their day, their garden, their crops, and the moods of the farmers and merchants around them. When the half–dozen gnarled old cherry trees in the orchard began to bear fruit, they dropped everything to pick the shiny, purple-red fruits and set about putting that bounty to work, making clafoutis, ice creams, confitures, and homemade liqueurs. The unfurling of every leaf – lettuce, grapes, figs, and irises – became the object of their weekly attention. They eagerly turned their attention to a fledgling vegetable garden, only to find that about all this parched, chalky soil could promise were vegetables that tasted of struggle. The growth of nearly every olive in their small grove of trees was followed throughout the season, though more than once they arrived at harvest time to find the trees picked nearly bare by passersby. Thankfully, the village farmers’ market is overflowing with baskets of ripe, uncured olives at Christmas time, so their home-cured olives were generally of mixed origins!
They learned about spotting the property’s edible wild mushrooms, but only after years of listening to the neighbours boast of discoveries on their land. An invitation to join them for a hunt, with the promise of a multi-mushroom feast to follow, was the key to uncovering the secret gardens hidden amid the pines. They also learned about unearthing the rare black truffles that hid beneath the soil of their vines, not far from the rows of scrub oak that enclosed their vineyards, but knew secretly that, most years, the poachers’ bounty far exceeded their meagre findings.
And sometimes they came closer to certain flora and fauna than one would desire. They’ve fled wild boar at the compost pile, chased wild pheasant and quail in the vegetable garden, and know more about the night habits of the loir – a squirrel-like rodent that loves the proximity of humans and their central heating system – than could fill a book.
Patricia and her husband Walter spent most of their adult lives working in cities like Washington, DC, New York, and Paris, and now, as country folk, they found that their lives were curiously affected by the phases of the moon, the colour of the sky, the moistness of the earth, the presence (or lack of) bees, salamanders, rabbits, or butterflies. Soon, like all the locals, they followed the rhythms of the moon, learning that if they planted parsley just after the new moon, the herb would flourish, and if they picked flowers with the full moon, they would last longer.
I first met Patricia Wells in Italy in 1980 when we were both in Bologna to take a cooking course from the doyenne of Italian cooking Marcella Hazan – she had to leave before the end of the week and I remember hoping that our paths would cross again – she is now a renowned international food writer who has sold over 750,000 copies of her books worldwide. She is the author of the best-selling Bistro, Trattoria and The Paris Cookbook. Patricia is a restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune and the first female restaurant critic for the French newsweekly L’Express. In 1989, the French government honoured Patricia Wells for her contributions to French culture, awarding her the coveted Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
The new edition of Patricia Wells at home in Provence is one of my favourites, packed with really tempting recipes – delicious comfort food to transport us to Provence.

Patricia Wells at home in Provence, published by Kyle Cathie, May 2005, £14.99 stg.
Buy this Book at Amazon
Here are some recipes from the book.

Gratin Dauphinois

Patricia uses the Charlotte potato in France, just be sure that the potatoes are nice and firm-fleshed and make sure the cheese is a good Gruyere.
Serves 4-6

1 plump fresh garlic clove, peeled and halved.
1kg (2lb) firm-fleshed potatoes, peeled and sliced very thinly.
125g (4oz) freshly grated Gruyere cheese
500ml (16fl.oz) whole milk
125ml (4 fl.oz) crème fraiche or double cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

One 2- litre (3½ pint) ovenproof dish

Preheat the oven to 190c/375F/gas mark 5

Rub the inside of the baking dish with garlic.
In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, three-quarters of the cheese, the milk, crème fraiche, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish, pouring the liquid over the potatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Place in the centre of the oven and bake until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is crisp and golden, about 1¼ hours.

French Country Guinea Fowl and Cabbage

Serves 4-6
1 guinea fowl (about 1kg/2lb) or substitute chicken
2 shallots, peeled and halved
1 thin slice of smoked ham, finely chopped
Bouquet garni: a generous bunch of flat-leaf parsley, celery leaves, fresh bay leaves and sprigs of thyme, tied in a bundle with string
90g (3oz) unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
500ml (16 fl.oz) chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 large green cabbage, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Season the exterior and cavity of the bird with salt and pepper. Place the shallots, ham and bouquet garni inside the cavity and sew up the opening. Set aside.
In a large covered casserole, melt 15g (½ oz) butter with the oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add the guinea fowl and brown it carefully on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the bird to a platter and discard the fat in the pan. Season the exterior generously with salt and pepper. Still over moderate heat, add another 15g (½ oz) butter to the casserole, scraping up the browned bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Return the bird to the pan, add the stock, cover and simmer over a low heat until the chicken is cooked, about 50 minutes.
In a large pan, bring 6 litres (10 pints) of water to a rolling boil. Add 3 tablespoons of salt and the cabbage, and blanch, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large frying pan, melt the remaining butter over moderate heat. Add the vinegar, cabbage, seasoning, and cook, trying to keep the pieces of cabbage intact and well coated with sauce. Cover and cook over low heat until soft, about 20 minutes. Season to taste.
Meanwhile, carve the guinea fowl and arrange the pieces on a warmed serving platter. Spoon the stuffing, sauce and warmed cabbage over the sliced poultry and serve at once.

Eli’s Apple Crisp

Prepare this with a good tangy cooking apple, and if possible, combine several varieties such as Granny Smith, McIntosh, and Fuji – for a more complex depth of flavour and texture. This is a quick easy appealing and inexpensive dessert, and you don’t have to make pastry!
Serves 8

Unsalted butter for preparing the baking dish
45g (1½ oz) unsalted butter
1kg (2lb) cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into 8 even wedges
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
75g (2½ oz) sugar
250ml (8 fl.ozs ) crème fraîche or double cream

1 x 27cm (10½ inch) baking dish

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6

Generously butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish, set aside.
In a large frying pan, combine the butter, apples, lemon juice and ¼ teasp. cinnamon and cook until just soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Transfer the apples to the baking dish, evening them into a single layer with a spatula.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar and whisk until well blended. Add the cream, the remaining vanilla extract and cinnamon. Whisk to blend and pour over the apples in the baking dish.
Place the baking dish in the centre of the oven and bake until the top is a deep golden brown, 30-45 minutes. Do not underbake, or the results will be soggy, rather than crisp.
Serve cut into wedges, accompanied by a dollop of crème fraîche. The dessert is best served the day it is made, as the delicate flavours will fade.

Fresh Lemon Verbena Ice-Cream

Throughout the spring and summer, Patricia uses lemon verbena leaves liberally, preparing refreshing and lightly sedative herbal teas, or infusions, as well as this popular summer ice cream. It is also delicious prepared with fresh mint, or with less traditional ‘sweet’ herbs, such as thyme or rosemary.
Serves 4

500ml (16 fl.oz) double cream
250ml (8fl.oz) whole milk
125g (4oz) sugar
60 fresh lemon verbena leaves

In a large saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar and verbena leaves and place over moderate heat just until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 1 hour.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the verbena. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Serve with Provencal Almond cookies or other crisp biscuits.

Schaum Torte : Meringues for the month of May
Patricia Wells has fond memories of Schaum Torte in her childhood home of Wisconsin where it is a Memorial Day speciality created to greet the season’s first crop of strawberries. 

4 large egg whites, at room temperature
½ teaspoon cream of tartar, (optional)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
200g (7oz) castor sugar
1 kg (2lb) fresh strawberries (or mixed berries)
1 tablesp. sugar
175ml (6fl.oz) double cream

Preheat the oven to 110C/230F/gas mark ¼. Line a baking sheet with foil or a non-stick liner. 
In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, if using, and vanilla extract at medium-low speed until small bubbles appear and the surface is frothy, about 45 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and gradually add half of the caster sugar, whisking until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes more. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sprinkle the rest of the castor sugar over the mixture and, with a large spatula, quickly and gently fold it in, working the egg whites as little as possible.
Using a large serving spoon, ladle six large round dollops of meringue on the prepared baking sheet. Work as quickly as possible so as not to deflate the whites. Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake until crisp and dry but not yet beginning to colour, about 2 hours.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, with a spatula carefully transfer the meringues to a wire rack to cool. If they stick to the foil, they haven’t sufficiently dried out: If this happens, return them to the oven to dry thoroughly. (The meringues can be prepared several days in advance; if so. Store fully cooled meringues in a dry, airtight container.)
About 2 hours before serving the meringues, rinse and stem the strawberries. Cut lengthwise into thin slices. Toss with the sugar and set aside at room temperature.
In a heavy duty mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks.
Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the top quarter from each meringue. (The meringues may chip or break off, but try to avoid transforming them to bits). Place each meringue on a dessert plate. Spoon the strawberries into the shell, allowing the fruit to overflow on to the plate. Top the berries with the whipped cream. Place the meringue caps on top of the cream and serve immediately. 

Foolproof food

Fork Biscuits

Makes 45-50 biscuits approx.
8 ozs (225g) soft butter
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar
10 ozs (275g) self raising flour
Grated rind of one lemon or orange

Cream the butter, add in the castor sugar, sifted flour and grated lemon or orange rind and mix just until it all comes together. Alternatively, place all four ingredients in the bowl of a food mixer and mix slowly until all the ingredients come together. At this stage the dough can either be used right away or put in the deep freeze or kept in the fridge for up to a week. 
When required, bring up to room temperature and form into small balls the size of a walnut. Flatten them out onto a baking sheet using the back of a fork dipped in cold water. Allow plenty of room for expansion. 

Bake in a preheated oven - 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 10 minutes approx. Sprinkle with Vanilla sugar. When cold, store in air tight containers.
Variations: Freshly ground cinnamon, ginger or chocolate chips can be a delicious addition to these biscuits.

Hot Tips

Euro-toques Small Food Initiative – Producer Showcase Events
Monday 23rd May 2005 – Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Co Monaghan
Chefs/Restaurateurs – book today €20 – Spit Roast Pig BBQ, Gastro-Goody Bag. 
Chat with chefs and producers, sample best of local fare and enjoy a glass of wine in the sun or mingle in the marquee. Producers secure your place at the showcase. Contact Abigail or Ruth at Euro-Toques, 11 Bridge Court, City Gate, St Augustine St. Dublin 8. Tel 01-6753837, email:  Funded through EU Interreg 111A programme, Ireland/Northern Ireland.

BIM have just launched the 2005 edition of the 2005 Seafood Circle Pub Lunch Guide. 
The aim of the programme which was initiated in 2001 by BIM in association with the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland, is to support and encourage pubs to improve the quality, range and understanding of seafood dishes on their lunchtime menus. The Guide is available in members’ premises, on  or by order on 01-2144250

Cork Farmers Market in conjunction with Munster Agricultural Society, will open at Cork Showgrounds on Saturday 14th May and will run every Saturday from 10-2
- Featuring an array of organic and fresh produce to tempt the palate of Corkonians. Only 10 minutes walk from city centre. All stalls will be indoor and parking is free.  

Garryvoe Hotel – Wonderful new reception area, bar & lounge just opened – a really stylish addition to East Cork – wishing them continued success.

Congratulations to Hurleys Super-Valu in Midleton – Winners of the Super-Valu store of the year 2005.

Delicious easy recipes that can be prepared ahead

Recently I’ve had several requests from readers of this column who are deep in preparation for their children’s Holy Communion or Confirmation Day. Could I please suggest some delicious easy recipes that can be prepared ahead and easily reheated on the special day? Must be a combination of treats that will tempt and be relished by all ages, in one case four generations! No problem, there are lots of options.

Soup, and or a simple pâte, are a really good basis. Its probably best to choose comforting favourites like Tomato and Basil or a slightly chunky Mushroom Soup. Have lots of good bread or maybe cheddar cheese scones. The soup can be made weeks ahead and frozen. The pâte will also keep in the fridge for several days. When the party return from the church those who are peckish can tuck into pate immediately to take the edge off their hunger, while the soup reheats. I suggest fresh and smoked Salmon Rillettes with cucumber salad. If you’d rather some shellfish, Dublin Bay Prawns with homemade mayonnaise are always a treat.

Chicken with Mushrooms is a safe bet for any age group, if you want to add a little extra pzazz one could add a little rosemary or freshly grated ginger to the sauce.

One could of course serve some fluffy mashed potato, but rice would be even easier. Piperonata or Tomato Fondue complement the chicken perfectly and don’t forget a lovely big bowl of green salad to aid digestion.

A gorgeous Mango and Passion Fruit Meringue Roulade, a Spring Fruit Salad, or a juicy Rhubarb & Strawberry Tart for pudding with soft brown sugar and cream should bring in the compliments. 

Tomato and Basil Soup

We worked for a long time to try and make this soup reasonably fool-proof. Good quality tinned tomatoes (a must for your store cupboard) give a really good result. Homemade tomato purée although delicious can give a more variable result depending on the quality of the tomatoes. Careful seasoning is crucial so continue to season and taste until you are happy with the result.
Serves 6

1¾ pints (750 ml) homemade tomato purée or 2 x 14 oz (400 g) tins of tomatoes, liquidized and sieved
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ oz (15 g) butter
8 fl ozs (250 ml) Béchamel sauce (white) (see recipe)
8 fl ozs (250 ml) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
4 fl ozs (120 ml) cream

Whipped cream
Fresh basil leaves

Sweat the onion in the butter on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. Add the tomato purée (or chopped tinned tomatoes plus juice), Béchamel sauce and homemade chicken stock. Add the chopped basil, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Liquidize, taste and dilute further if necessary. Bring back to the boil, correct seasoning and serve with the addition of a little cream if necessary. Garnish with a tiny blob of whipped cream and some basil.

*Tinned tomatoes need a surprising amount of sugar to counteract the acidity.
* Fresh milk cannot be added to the soup – the acidity in the tomatoes will cause it to curdle
Note: This soup needs to be tasted carefully as the final result depends on the quality of the homemade purée, stock etc.

Tomato and Mint Soup

Substitute Spearmint or Bowles mint for basil in the above recipe.
Béchamel Sauce

1 pint (300 ml) milk
Few slices of carrot
Few slices of onion
3 peppercorns
Small sprig of thyme
Small sprig of parsley
1½ozs (45 g) roux (see recipe)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

This is a wonderfully quick way of making Béchamel Sauce if you have roux already made. Put the cold milk into a saucepan with the carrot, onion, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4-5 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out the vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil and thicken to a light coating consistency by whisking in roux. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Tomato and Coconut Soup

Substitute Coconut milk for béchamel in the above recipe

4 ozs (110 g) butter
4 ozs (110 g) flour

Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.

Rillettes of Fresh and Smoked Salmon

The texture of this pate should resemble that of pork rillettes, where the meat is torn into shreds rather than blended.
Serves 12-16

340 g/: lb freshly-cooked salmon
340 g/: lb smoked wild or organic Irish salmon
340 g/: lb softened butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Lemon juice to taste
For the Smoked Salmon
30 g/1 oz butter
28 ml/2 fl oz water

Melt 30 g/1 oz butter in a low saucepan; add the smoked salmon and 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes or until it no longer looks opaque. Allow it to get quite cold. 

Cream the butter in a bowl. With two forks, shred the fresh and smoked salmon and mix well together. Add to the soft butter still using a fork (do not use a food processor). Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and nutmeg. Taste and add lemon juice as necessary, and some freshly chopped fennel if you have it.

Serve in individual pots or in a pottery terrine. Cover with a layer of clarified butter. Serve with hot toast or hot crusty white bread. Salmon rillettes will keep perfectly in the refrigerator for 5 or 6 days provided they are sealed with clarified butter.

Salmon Rilettes on Cucumber Slices

2 cucumbers
Salmon rillettes as above 
Cut the cucumber into ¼ slices. Pipe or spoon a blob of pâté onto the cucumber slices. Garnish with sprigs of chervil and chive or white garlic flowers.
Clarified Butter

Melt 8 ozs (225g/1 cup) butter gently in a saucepan or in the oven. Allow it to stand for a few minutes, and then spoon the crusty white layer of salt particles off the top of the melted butter. Underneath this crust there is clear liquid butter, which is called clarified butter. The milky liquid at the bottom can be discarded or used in a white sauce.

Clarified butter is excellent for cooking because it can withstand a higher temperature when the salt and milk particles are removed. It will keep covered in a refrigerator for several weeks.

Melba Toast

Serves 4
2 thin slices of white bread (sliced pan will do as long as it's not too thick)
Toast the bread on both sides. Cut the crusts off immediately and then split the slice in half. Scrape off any soft crumb, cut into triangles and put back under the grill, untoasted side up for a few seconds until the edges curl up.

Serve with pates.

Salmon Rillettes on Sour Dough
Toast or char grill a slice of sour dough bread, spread with some rillett mixture. Top with a few tiny Rocket leaves and some Chive or wild Garlic flowers.

Extra Posh Salmon Rillettes
12 – 16 very thin slices of smoked Salmon
12 – 16 moulds 5cm (2ins) diameter, 2.5cm (1in) deep 2½ fl oz capacity

Line the moulds with cling film. Put a slice of smoked salmon into each mould. Fill the moulds with the rilletts; fold the ends of the smoked salmon over the rilletts to cover. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

Serve with Cucumber salad

Ballymaloe Sweet Cucumber Salad

½ cucumber, very thinly sliced
2 ozs (55g) onion, cut into fine rings
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
1¼ teasp. salt
1½ fl ozs (40ml) wine vinegar or 2 tablesp. cider vinegar

Mix the cucumber with the onion, castor sugar, salt and wine vinegar. Leave to marinate for about 1 hour.

Chicken Breasts with Mushrooms

Soaking the chicken breasts in milk gives them a tender and moist texture but it is not essential to this dish.
Serves 4 

4 chicken breasts, free range and organic 
milk, optional
salt and freshly ground pepper
15g (½oz) butter
2 tablespoons shallot or spring onion, chopped
110g (4oz) mushrooms, sliced
150ml (¼ pint) Chicken Stock - preferably homemade
150ml (¼ pint) cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley or marjoram

sprigs of flat parsley

Soak the chicken breasts in milk, just enough to cover them, 1 hour approx. Discard the milk, dry with kitchen paper. Season with salt and pepper (this step is not essential).

Choose a saute pan just large enough to take the chicken breasts in a single layer.

Heat the butter in the sauté pan until foaming, put in the chicken breasts and turn them in the butter; (do not brown). Cover with a round of greaseproof paper and the lid. Cook on a gentle heat for 5-7 minutes or until just barely cooked. 

Meanwhile sweat the shallots gently in a pan in a little butter, increase the heat, add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. They should be slightly golden. Keep aside.

When the chicken breasts are cooked remove to a plate. Add the chicken stock and cream to the saucepan . Reduce the liquid by one-third over a medium heat, this will thicken the sauce slightly and intensify the flavour otherwise thicken with a little roux (see recipe). When you are happy with the flavour and texture of the sauce, add the chicken breasts and mushroom mixture back in with the parsley or marjoram. Simmer for a 1-2 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning. * Scatter some sprigs of flat parsley over the top. 

Serve with freshly cooked Orzo or rice.

* may be prepared ahead to this point, cool quickly, cover and refrigerate and reheat later.

Chicken with Mushroom and Ginger

Add 1-2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger to the mushrooms in the pan.
Chicken with Mushroom and Rosemary
Tuck a sprig of rosemary in between the chicken breasts as they cook, discard later. 
Substitute 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary for ginger in the above recipe. Garnish with sprigs of rosemary. Serve with Penne or Orzo.

Plain Boiled Rice

I find this way of cooking rice in what we call ‘unlimited water’ to be very satisfactory for plain boiled rice. The grains stay separate and it will keep happily covered in the oven for up to half an hour.
Serves 8

400g (14oz) best quality long-grain rice, eg. Basmati rice 
8 pints of water
2 teaspoons salt
a large pot of cold water
a few little knobs of butter (optional)

Bring 8 pints of water to a fast boil in a large saucepan. Add salt. Sprinkle in the rice and stir at once to ensure that the grains don’t stick. Boil rapidly, uncovered. After 4 or 5 minutes (depending on the type of rice), test by biting a few grains between your teeth - it should still have a slightly resistant core. If it overcooks at this stage the grains will stick together later.

Strain well through a sieve or fine strainer. Put into a warm serving dish, dot with a few knobs of butter, cover with tin foil or a lid and leave in a low oven, 140ºC/275ºF/regulo 1, for a minimum of 15 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff up with a fork and serve.

Meringue Roulade with Passion Fruit and Mango

Serves 10
4 egg whites
225g (8oz) castor sugar

Mango and passion fruit Sauce
1 large ripe mango 
4 passion fruit 
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1-2 tablespoons castor sugar

1 large ripe mango peeled and thinly sliced
2 passion fruit
300ml (½ pint) whipped cream

Sweet Cicely
Swiss roll tin 12 x 8 inch (30.5 x 20.5cm)

First make the roulade
Preheat the oven to 180C\350F\regulo 4. 

Put the egg whites into the spotlessly clean bowl of a food mixer. Break up with the whisk and then add all the castor sugar in one go. Whisk at full speed until the meringue holds a stiff peak 4 - 5 minutes approx. 

Meanwhile, line a swiss roll tin with tin foil. Brush lightly with a non scented oil (eg. sunflower or arachide). Spread the meringue gently over the tin with a palette knife, it should be quite thick and bouncy. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. 
Put a sheet of tin foil on the work top and turn the roulade onto it. Remove the base tin foil and allow the meringue to cool. 

Meanwhile make the Mango and Passionfruit sauce.

Peel the mango, chop the flesh and puree in a food processor. Put into a bowl, add the passion fruit seeds and juice, add freshly squeezed lime juice and sugar to taste. Cover and chill. Slice the mango for the filling into a bowl, add the passion fruit seeds and juice, toss gently.

To assemble 
Turn the roulade out onto a sheet of silicone paper dredged with icing sugar. Spread two thirds of the cream over the roulade, cover with a layer of fruit keep a little for decoration. 
Transfer carefully onto a serving dish. Pipe some rosettes of cream onto the top, decorate with some of the reserved fruit. 
Garnish with Sweet Cicely, dredge with icing sugar and serve.
If you prefer you could fill the roulade with lemon curd – see recipe March 26th.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Tart

This pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from 'hot hands' don't have to worry about rubbing in the butter.
Serves 8-12

Break all the rules

8 ozs (225g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
12 ozs (340g) white flour, preferably unbleached

1½lbs (700g) sliced red rhubarb (about ½ inch thick) 
½lb 225g) strawberries, sliced 
13 ozs (370g) granulated sugar, approx..
Castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve
Softly whipped cream
Barbados sugar

tin, 7 inches (18cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) deep

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

First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over-cream). Add the eggs and beat for a minute or two. Reduce speed to lowest setting and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 1 hour otherwise it is difficult to handle. 

To make the tart
Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Put the sliced rhubarb and strawberries into the tart, sprinkle with sugar. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the rhubarb is tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar. 

Foolproof Food

Mushroom Soup

Serves 8-9
Mushroom soup is the fastest of all soups to make and surely everyone's favourite. It is best made with flat mushrooms or button mushrooms a few days old, which have developed a slightly stronger flavour.

450g (1 lb) mushrooms (flat mushrooms are best)
110g (4 oz) onions 
25g (1oz) butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
30g (1oz) flour
600ml (1 pint) milk
600ml (1 pint) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock 

Rinse the mushrooms quickly under cold running water. Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Toss the onions in the butter. Cover and sweat until soft and completely cooked. Meanwhile, chop up the mushrooms very finely.* Add to the saucepan and cook on a high heat for 4 or 5 minutes. Bring the stock & milk to the boil. Stir the flour into the onions, cook on a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then add the stock and milk gradually, stirring all the time. Increase the heat and bring to the boil. Taste and add a dash of cream if necessary. Serve immediately or cool & reheat later.

Tip: If you can't be bothered to chop the mushrooms finely, just slice and then whizz in a liquidizer for a few seconds when the soup is cooked. Stalks may also be used. Mushroom soup freezes perfectly.

Watchpoint: Bring the milk to the boil otherwise it may curdle if added to the soup cold.

Hot Tips

The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary 

Have for sale – Jonagored eating apples and Bramley cookers, apple juice, apple jelly, farm-made cider vinegar and strawberry and plum jams. They also stock Anne Keating’s fine Baylough cheese. Their apple juice is now also for sale in John Griffin’s shop in William St. Listowel and McKeogh’s Londis on the Ballina (Co Tipperary) side of the Shannon at Killaloe, Co Clare. They have recently planted a new orchard which includes a selection of 50 old apple varieties which should produce next year.

Growing Awareness Gardening Workshops
Sunday 15th May – Summer Gardening Workshop- Keep your garden thriving through the summer by learning how to weed, mulch, water and control pests organically. Discover which salad crops to grow for winter use. All gardening workshops are with Jean Perry at Glebe Gardens, Baltimore – 4.5 acres of beautiful organic gardens with garden sculptures and a wildflower meadow. More planned for the summer months.
Contact Jean Perry on 028 20232 Email:  only €25 per workshop

The implications of GMO are very simply terrifying

Eurotoque Ireland has joined the long list of organisations which support the campaign for a GM-free Ireland.
Eurotoques are the European Association of Chefs who are primarily concerned with supporting the producers of the best foods in Europe and thus maintaining the fine quality and flavour of our ingredients. They wish to maintain the traditional dishes and traditional ways of preparing and cooking foods of the regions of Europe.

Eurotoques as an organisation has taken a vigorous anti-GMO stance. ‘The prospect of genetically modified crops being released into our environment is possibly the most worrying development yet in the agri-food world and one which may have far reaching effects on all aspects of food, health and the environment’.

They have urged their members to take various initiatives to heighten awareness and to support the anti GMO campaign.

So what is a GMO – a genetically modified organism (GMO) is a plant, animal or micro-organism whose genetic code has been altered in order to give it characteristics that it does not naturally have. GMO’s normally include a combination of DNA from viruses and bacteria together with DNA from other plants and/or animals. These infect the modified organism with completely novel combinations of genes, proteins and allergens whose long-term health and ecological impacts are scientifically impossible to predict. Scientific evidence shows that GMO seeds and crops can be genetically unstable, have led to massive crop failures, create superweeds, and can never be recalled after their release. Insurance companies refuse to cover the risks.
GMO seeds and crops are normally patented by transnational agri-biotech corporations which charge farmers an annual licensing fee to grow their GM seeds. Monsanto typically requires farmers to sign onerous contracts which prohibit them from saving and replanting the GM seeds, oblige them to waive their human right to freedom of speech (e.g. by talking to the media) if anything goes wrong, and waive their right to sue the biotech company if the crops fail to perform as expected. Monsanto has filed hundreds of patent infringement lawsuits against farmers whose fields have been contaminated by GMOs.

There are many documented cases of cross contamination of conventional and organic farms as a result of wind-borne pollen drift, seed dispersal by insects, animals and humans, and by the process of horizontal gene transfer through which transgenic DNA is carried across species boundaries by microbial organisms. This, according to Michael O’Callaghan coordinator of GM Free Ireland Network, creates superweeds, reduces biodiversity and threatens human, animal and plant health by releasing new allergens and genes for pesticide production and antibiotic resistance that could spread to humans, crops, livestock and wildlife including bees and other beneficial insects.
The introduction of GMO animal feed, seeds, crops anywhere on the island of Ireland — whether through deliberate legal release or contamination — would give transnational agri-biotech companies like Monsanto patented ownership of Irish farmers’ seeds and crops. It would burden farmers and food producers with more red tape, restrict our access to EU export markets, and ruin our reputation as Ireland - the food island.

Food containing GMO’s has been on the shelves of our shops and supermarkets, some labelled and some not, for over 10 years now.

Farmers confirm that almost all animal feed contains genetically modified soya, organic feed is guaranteed GMO free-. According to the FSAI, meat from animals fed on GMO is not required to be labelled.

In just a decade, agricultural transgenics has been transformed from a fledgling science into a dominant player in the world’s food supply, from almost zero acreage in the early 1990’s to more than 160 million acres worldwide in 2004. Already, 80% of the US soyabean crop is genetically modified and almost 40% of US corn, 25% of the world’s cotton, canola, corn and soyabean is now transgenic. At least 60% of processed food sold in supermarkets contains GM ingredients. Bio-technology allows scientists to cut and paste any gene from any plant or animal into any other plant or animal - this opens up a myriad of possibilities.

Already there are tomatoes with synthetic flounder ‘anti-freeze’ genes, rice with vitamin producing daffodil genes and much more – there are many unanswered questions and unpredicted results. 

In 2000 scientists at Purdue University in the US inserted a salmon growth promoter gene into a fresh water fish called medaka. The fish grew faster, had a mating advantage, but also a must higher mortality rate. Scientists calculated that if a mere 60 of these fish escaped into a wild population of just 60,000 they would result in local extinction in 40 generations – this was just a lab experiment, but it is important to understand the risks stressed Professor of Genetics at Purdue – Bill Muir.

There are many similar stories. Another particularly frightening episode was reported recently by environmental author John Robbins. When students at Oregon State university were testing a transgenic variant of soil bacteria - Klebsiella Planticola, the found that they had accidentally invented a fungus killer that had it escaped into the wild ‘could have ended all plant life on this continent.’

The implications are very simply terrifying. The bio-tech companies argue that GM crops produce higher yields and need less artificial pesticides and so help to feed the world. However, aid agencies have united to refute this claim and to point out that the principal cause of world hunger is distribution difficulties and local politics.

With such an imprecise science, we surely need to evoke the precautionary principle - the reality is that we cannot know what the long term effects of eating food containing GMO’s will be on animals and humans because there is no control group.

In the words of Dr. Ml Antoniou – Clinical Geneticist and senior lecturer in pathology at Guys Teaching Hospital in London - ‘Once released into the environment, unlike a BSE epidemic or chemical spill, genetic mistakes cannot be contained, recalled or cleaned up, but will be passed on to all future generations’.

So once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no putting him back in. We would be crazy from every point of view to go down this path in Ireland.

If we declare Ireland a GM free zone we will be able to tap into the growing market for certified GM free produce. Ireland the GM Food Island doesn’t quite have the same ring to it somehow.

Many EU Governments still hesitate to ban GMOs due to a US-led WTO dispute with the EC, but 100 regional and 3,500 sub-regional areas in 22 EU countries have already passed legislation which prohibits or restricts the release of GMO seeds and crops. Across the water, Cornwall, the Highlands of Scotland, the whole of Wales, and 22 Councils in the UK now have GM bans in place. The Assembly of European Regions (AER), Friends of the Earth Europe and a wide coalition of EU regional governments, local authorities and NGOs have launched a campaign for EC legislation that clearly recognises the democratic right of Regions (including Irish Counties) to declare themselves GMO-free. 

The GM-free Ireland Network will launch 1,000 local GMO-free zones throughout Ireland at 2pm on Earth Day, 22 April 2005. The objective is for organic and conventional farmers, hotels, restaurants, pubs, retailers, schools and homes North and South of the border to display GMO-free zone signs and simultaneously declare their lands and premises GMO-free. This goal may seem ambitious but already there are over 1,000 organic farmers in Ireland and the network now includes 53 organisations representing over 30,000 conventional and organic farmers, foresters, food producers / distributors / exporters, retailers, chefs, restaurants, Non Governmental Organisation (NGOs), professional associations, doctors, economists, lawyers, journalists, students, and consumers collaborating to keep GM food and farming out of Ireland.

For more information check out  and

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

When making Ballymaloe brown yeast bread, remember that yeast is a living organism. In order to grow, it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide which causes the bread to rise. Heat of over 50˚C will kill yeast. Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. White or brown sugar, honey golden syrup, treacle or molasses may be used. Each will give a slightly different flavour to the bread. At Ballymaloe we use treacle. The dough rises more rapidly with 30g (1oz) yeast than with 25g (¾oz) yeast.

We use a stone ground wholemeal. Different flours produce breads of different textures and flavour. The amount of natural moisture in the flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead - in fact it does not require kneading. The main ingredients - wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast are highly nutritious. Yeast was one of the first commodities to be genetically modified, so seek out non-GM yeast.

Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker's yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.

Makes 1 loaf

450g (16oz) wholemeal flour OR
400g (14oz) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz) strong white flour
425ml (15floz) water at blood heat (mix yeast with 140ml (5floz) lukewarm water approx.)
1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses
1 teaspoon salt
30g (3/4oz -1oz) fresh non GM yeast
sesame seeds - optional
1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x 8inch) approx.
sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.

Mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 140ml (5floz) for 1 loaf and crumble in the yeast.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Grease the bread tins with sunflower oil. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4 or 5 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top. 

When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water, into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead. Put the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tins with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. Just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/gas mark 8 for 50-60 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges. 

We usually remove the loaves from the tins about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there's no need to do this.

Tofu in Spicy Coconut Sauce

Serves 4-6
1 tablespoon peanut or sunflower oil
1 small onion (4 oz approx.), thinly sliced
1 small green or red pepper, thinly sliced
2 serrano chiles, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons Thai curry paste
100ml (4 floz) canned unsweetened coconut milk
100ml (4 floz) water or Vegetable stock, well laced with fresh ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 lb Chinese-style firm tofu, cut into ¾ inch cubes and fried (see below)
4 tablespoons coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons roasted chopped peanuts

Heat a wok, add the oil. When hot, add the onion, pepper and chiles and stir-fry for 

1-2 minutes. Add the curry paste, stir, then add the coconut milk, stock, salt and tofu. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the tofu is heated through. Serve over rice or noodles garnished with coriander and chopped peanuts.

Golden Tofu

1lb Chinese-style firm tofu, cut into slabs about ¾ inch thick
2 tablespoons peanut or sunflower oil

Drain the tofu with kitchen paper. Cut into ¾ inch cubes. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the tofu and fry until golden. It will take several minutes to colour, so allow to cook undisturbed. Turn the pieces when golden. Drain briefly on kitchn paper, then transfer to a warm dish and season with salt. 

To simmer Tofu in liquid: cut into cubes, don’t bother to drain, then lower it into a pot of lightly salted simmering water or the vegetable stock Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon, drain briefly on kitchen paper. Serve warm or chilled or use with another recipe.

Foolproof Food

Ballymaloe Nut and Grain Muesli

This muesli bursting with goodness keeps in a screw top jar for several weeks. Measure the ingredients in cups for speed.
Serves 12

8 Weetabix
7 ozs (200g) oatmeal (Quaker oats or Speedicook oatflakes)
1½ ozs (45g) bran
2¼ ozs (62g) fresh wheatgerm
2¼ ozs (62g) raisins
2½ ozs (62g) sliced hazelnuts or a mixture of cashews and hazelnuts
2½ ozs (62g) soft brown sugar - Barbados sugar
2 tablesp. Lecithin* - optional – make sure it is non GM 

Crumble Weetabix in a bowl, add the other ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Keeps for 2-3 weeks in a cool place.

Serve with fresh fruit and fresh creamy milk.

*Available from Chemist or Health food shops - Lecithin comes from soya beans, it is rich in phosphatidyl Choline - an important nutrient in the control of dietary fat, it helps the body to convert fats into energy rather than storing them as body fat.
Hot Tips

Food & Wine Magazine –
April issue showcases Cork – Europe’s Capital of Culture – so many terrific places to eat, drink and shop for food.

Farmers Market at Cork Showground, Ballintemple, Cork – opening soon
For further information contact Teresa Murphy, 087-2363536 or email  

Want to buy some fruit or nut trees –
Woodkerne Nurseries, Gortnamucklagh, Skibbereen, Co Cork. Specialize in fruit and nut trees, grown on their organic farm. Available at Skibbereen Farmers Market on Saturdays 10-1 or by appointment at the nursery. Tel 028-23742  

New Aga and Fired Earth Interiors Showroom in Dun Laoghaire has just opened.
Will showcase a comprehensive range of brands from the Aga Group at the Clubhouse, 20 Lr. Georges St. Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Open Day at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre on Saturday 28th May. Tel Irish Peatland Conservation Council for details 045-860133

The Belly Rebellion

On International Women’s Day 8th March 2005, 600 women from all walks of life turned up at a hip new conference centre in called Base Camp in Copenhagen for the launch of a new food revolution called Belly Rebellion. If this new grass roots movement gathers momentum it could well change the way we look on food in Europe and the Western World. Just like the International Slow food Movement it was born out of outrage.

So what was the spark that ignited and united over 600 women to rally to the cause – well it appears that last November a group of Nordic chefs had a huge conference on the future of Nordic food. Chefs from all the Nordic countries headed up the prestigious panel of chefs from Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland and Finland.. The conference was sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, who as one of its primary roles, has equality between the sexes.

Camilla Plum and Katrine Klinken were among the 20 delegates at the conference. – suddenly the penny dropped, there were no women chefs – why were there no women chefs? The response was swift and spontaneous – no women chefs were good enough to join this auspicious group to discuss the future of gastronomy in the Nordic region. ‘They must be joking ‘– the male chefs were unrepentant. Nor surprisingly there was incredulity at the audacity of the response, followed by fury – hell hath no wrath like a woman chef scorned!. The Danish Council and the Nordic Council blushed in shame.

Letters to the papers, telephone calls to radio and television stations, eventually the idea for an alternative conference was born and the term Belly Rebellion was coined.

Sponsors vied to support the event, women chefs, caterers, food companies, food producers, activists and farmers, immediately wanted to be involved. The delegates were an extraordinary cross-section of women mostly from Denmark, with a smattering of people from the Nordic countries, England and Germany, and mise from Ireland.

I was invited to speak about food and our families and the Farmers Market Movement. The main issue that seemed to unite all the women in the room was the concern about the quality of food in Denmark and the difficulty of finding good quality food in a country where the retail food market is dominated by supermarkets and the local shops are no longer independent.

Consequently it is almost impossible to find fresh naturally produced food in season. There are a few organic ‘box schemes’ and a smattering of farmers markets but for the majority of busy people who don’t have time to visit the few farmers markets- the reality is that fresh naturally produced local food in season is simply unobtainable, mass produced food is the only option.

At present Danes spend 9.5% of their income on food, the lowest in Europe. Here in Ireland we spend 20.3% in comparison to 22.7% in 1994/5 so we have no reason to feel smug.

The reality is that nowadays few people connect the food they eat with how they feel. Few people in the Western world really understand a basic fact which is blatantly obvious to our Asian friends – ‘Our food should be our medicine’. Nonetheless, this issue has certainly stimulated debate in Denmark. The many speakers at the day-long conference to launch the Belly Rebellion addressed the problems and helped to heighten awareness about the health crisis that is emerging because so much of the mass produced denatured food that people have easy access to, is in fact nutritionally deficient. There were calls for better food in hospitals, school, canteens, cooking and gardening classes for children and the establishment of school gardens.

Mae Wan Ho, director of the Institute of Science in Society in London, spoke about genetically modified food.

Other speakers spoke about the European food monopolies who decide all about the food we eat, about food in hospitals and kindergartens, about ecology and local food production. Workshops on a variety of food related subjects in the afternoon. There were lovely long coffee, lunch and dinner breaks to give people opportunity to chat and brain storm. This was the girls’ day, not a chap in sight, no male journalists or photographers. Sanne Salmonsen, Denmark’s queen of Rock and Roll, performed for free to show her support, as did the cool all-girl band called the Cookies – the Gipsy Mystique dancers, danced and swirled to wild and wonderful music. Danish grande dame Jytte Abildstrom, 70 year old red-haired comedienne had everyone in stitches, she too volunteered her services as did another famous Danish rock and roll lassie called Pernille Hojmark, who had everyone out dancing, or at least tapping their feet.

The day eventually wound down about 12.30 with people resolved to continue the debate and to suggest initiatives on the internet – you too can get involved – its not necessary to speak Danish, most Danes speak perfect English.

Camilla’s Roasted Fennell, Potatoes, Pickled Lemon, Saffron and Yoghurt

Camilla roasted a spatchcock on a grid on top, only flavoured with garlic, salt and pepper. The cooking juices dripped onto the roast vegetables during cooking.
Serves 8 

4 fennell bulbs
4 pickled lemons (see recipe)
8-24 potatoes, depending on size
1 teasp saffron
4 pods cardamon
salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
20fl oz (1 pint) natural yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F. 

Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters through the root. Cut the pickled lemons in half. If the potatoes are large, cut into chunks (the size of a small potato). Arrange all the vegetables in a roasting tin, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove the seeds from the cardamom, discard the pod, crush in a pestle and mortar. Add freshly crushed spice and a good pinch of saffron to the yoghurt. Mix well, pour over the vegetables. Roast in a preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. Serve.

Camilla Plum’s Cardamon and Vanilla Ice-cream

Serves 6-8
7 cardamon pods
1 vanilla pod
5 free-range organic egg yolks
5oz (150g) castor sugar
24fl oz (725ml) cream

baked apples (optional)

Crush the cardamon pods, remove the seeds and crush in a pestle and mortar.

Put into a large bowl. Split a vanilla pod in half, scrape out the seeds and add to the cardamon. Add the egg yolks and castor sugar and whisk well then add in the cream and mix again.
Pour into an ice-cream machine and freeze for about 20 minutes. Serve with baked apples.

Camilla Plum’s Fried Soused Herring

For 4 Persons
8 fat herrings, boned, but in one piece
8 tbsp. ryeflour
50 g butter
1 onion in rings

300ml (10fl.oz) cider vinegar
150ml light cane sugar
1 tbsp coarse salt
20 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Coat the double herring filets in rye flour, spiced with a little salt and pepper. Fry the fish in browned butter till the flesh whitens, no more. Put the fish in a deep dish with the onion. Boil the marinade together for a few minutes, and let it cool till lukewarm. Cover the fish with the marinade, and cool completely, but do not put it in the fridge. It takes away the flavour. Eat on buttered rye bread with lots of fresh onion rings.

Eggs in mustard sauce with herb salad

For 4 persons
4 boiled eggs, Yolk just stiff

25 g butter
2 tbsp flour
400ml (14fl.oz) whole milk
4 tbsp coarse French mustard
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. traditional coarse mustard

Herb salad: 
2 handfuls very small dandelion leaves 
2 handfuls lambs' lettuce
Bunch of rocket
Small crunchy head of lettuce
Bunch chives
Handful of salsify leaves
Bunch of chervil
Small bunch dill
50ml (2fl.oz) virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Clean the leaves in plenty of cold water, make sure there is no crunch between the teeth. Dry completely on a towel. Melt the butter in a small pan, without colouring, whisk in the flour, and then the milk, a little at a time. Let it bubble for five minutes. If it becomes very thick, use a little more milk. Take it off the heat and whisk in the different mustards. Spice with salt and pepper. The sauce must not boil again, or the mustard becomes flat. Mix the leaves with the oil, salt and pepper and arrange on 4 plates. Peel the eggs and cut in half. Spoon the sauce beside the salad and arrange the eggs on top, cut side up.

Eat with cured, pickled or smoked fish, or on its own with rye bread.

Lemon mousse

for 4 persons
3 eggs
100 g (3½ oz) light cane sugar
3 big lemons
3 sheets of gelatine (here we use 12 sheets to jelly a litre of liquid)
200ml (7 fl.oz) whipping cream

Whip yolks and sugar till light and fluffy, and the sugar is completely dissolved.

Scrape the zest of the lemon into the yolks. Soak the gelatine in cold water for five minutes. Squeeze and melt in a small pan, take it of the heat. Mix in the juice from the lemons until the gelatine is completely dissolved, no lumps. Mix with the yolks and mix well, or there will be gluey stripes. Whisk the egg whites till stiff, and whisk the cream till stiff. Mix both into the yolks. Put the mousse in tall glasses and let it cool in the fridge. Eat with thin wafers and candied lemon peel on top.

Foolproof Food

Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding

We’ve been having fun ringing the changes with our recipe. Bread and Butter Pudding is also delicious with apple and cinnamon or even mixed spice. I can’t wait to try gooseberry and elderflower as soon as they come back into season.
Serves 6-8

12 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed 
55g (2oz) butter, preferably unsalted
450g (1 lb) red rhubarb
450ml (16 fl oz) cream
230ml (8 fl oz) milk
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
175g (6oz) sugar
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of the pudding

Softly-whipped cream
1 x 8 inches (20.5cm) square pottery or china dish 

Slice the rhubarb in pieces, put into a dish and sprinkle with sugar leave to macerate for an hour.

Butter the bread and arrange 4 slices, buttered side down, in one layer in the buttered dish. Sprinkle the bread with half the rhubarb, arrange another layer of bread, buttered side down, over the rhubarb. Cover with the remaining bread, buttered side down.

In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla essence and sugar. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve over the bread. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and let the mixture stand, covered loosely, for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

Bake in a bain-marie - the water should be half way up the sides of the baking dish. Bake the pudding in the middle of a preheated oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.

Hot tips

The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim, now celebrating its 10th anniversary 

Has a range of courses on offer and is also open for visits between April 1st and September 30th. Just some of the courses on offer in April – Grains, Bread and Sourdough, Organic gardening for Beginners, Goatkeeping Workshop, Cooking for Children, Ecolandscaping for new sites – there is much, much more on offer right through to October – Tel 071-98 54338. 

Earth Day 2005 – 22nd April. - GM-free Ireland Network cordially invites you to collaborate in launching 1,000 local GMO-free zones throughout Ireland at 2pm on 22 April. Their objective is for organic and conventional farmers, hotels. Restaurants, pubs, retailers, schools and homes North and South of the border to display GMO-free zone signs and simultaneously declare their lands and premises GMO-free. Full details on

The Cow gently licked it all over

Today was a lovely day, a new calf was born in the field behind the Cookery School in full view of the cookery students, most of whom had never even imagined they would witness such a miracle of nature. A beautiful black Aberdeen Angus heifer calf, the cow gently licked it all over and within minutes it tottered to its feet. We called her Easter.

While all this excitement was going on in the field, other students were doing their cooking exam in the kitchen, proving to me that they could cook at least one delicious meal after spending 12 weeks absorbing an avalanche of information on food and wine.

Mid way through the afternoon Olivia Lacey arrived with a huge parcel, other students gathered round, they couldn’t wait to open the box – it was full of their very own cookbook hot off the printing press. The very favourite recipes of the January 12 week Certificate students 2005.

All the students, the office staff, many of the teachers, several of the gardeners and Haulie the farm manager all contributed a recipe. The idea came about just a few weeks ago when Olivia and a few pals were walking along Shanagarry strand as ever discussing food. The talked about their favourite standby recipes for dinner parties, survival food at college – Gran’s yummy choccie cake – they each described their favourite nosh – often forgotten flavours enveloped in nostalgic memories of childhood.

“Wouldn’t it be brilliant to gather all these little gems into a cookbook! , chirped Olivia in her inimitable way, brilliant, but how exactly to go about it. Olivia, whose Mum Nicola Beauman is a publisher with a cult following – Persephone Books, mooted the idea to the rest of the students. Recipes poured in, in every shape and form, everything from Derek’s Hunger Buster to Charlie’s Marshmallow and Digestive Sandwiches, Huw contributed the one and only recipe he knew before he came to the school, William’s Special Tuna Pasta. This was his staple diet at college. Kinue Harada from Tokyo hand wrote her lovely recipe for Sesame Miso Soup. Richard Mills got all nostalgic about his Mum’s meatballs, he had painstakingly written ithe recipe down on a scrap of paper when he was eight and he knew it was still under his bed at home. 

Olivia, also a wizard speed typist typed, Ciara did drawings, Anne Marie Hourihane and Caroline Williams did the layout, and hey presto the manuscript was complete.

Just three weeks ago they contacted Margo McGrath at the Print Factory in Midleton, even though she was frantically busy, she couldn’t resist their enthusiasm and she too performed a minor miracle and produced the adorable little cookbook complete with illustrations in just three weeks, Gill and Macmillan and Kyle Cathie eat your hearts out.

Its full of little gems, some easy peasy, all delicious, they sold like hot cakes for €5 - there are just a few left so if you would like a copy contact the school. I hope it will be the first of many, congrats to all concerned.

Twiglet (for Marmite lovers only)
Very fresh white bread, butter, twiglets, marmite (optional). Apart from the great taste, seriously satisfying texture combo!

Marshmallow and Chocolate Digestive

Sandwich 3 white marshmallows (proper pink will do if no white) between 2 milk chocolate digestives (McVities are best), with chocolate facing inwards. Wrap in tin foil and bake in oven till the biscuits are hot, the chocolate’s melted and the marshmallows are well and truly gooey).

Toasted Mars Bar

Slice a Mars Bar and sandwich between 2 pieces of sliced white bread (pan). Lightly butter the outside and put in toasted sandwich maker. Truly amazing!” Only eat a whole one if you have the hunger and sweet tooth of 10 bears!
Richard’s Lost Recipe – Richard Mills

Meatballs with onions – fried on top of the stove then put on a baking tray.

Long grain rice
Tin of condensed tomato soup
Tin of water

Mix together the rice, soup and water and pour over the meatballs (dried oregano added to this in the 80’s).

I loved this as a kid and consequently every time I came home from university it was proudly presented to me by my Mum. Whereas as a child I could eat three helpings, now I can only manage one.!

Somewhere I have a copy of this recipe that I wrote out on lined paper when I was eight years old.

Baked Bean Cake

by Lucy Goodchild
1 box Rice Krispies
2 bags of pink and white marshmallows (give or take a few – chef’s prerogative)
6 bars of Cadbury’s Caramel bars or similar 

Start by melting the chocolate in a heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat.

Add the marshmallows, mixing continually with a wooden spoon until they are all melted.

Take off the heat and slowly mix in the rice krispies, you won’t need the whole box – you just want them to be ‘stringy’ and covered by the mixture, pour into greased baking tin and chill.

Cut into squares. Drizzle with extra white/dark chocolate if you want to be really naughty.

Yum, but not one for dentists.

Sue-Sue’s Special Brown Bread

– Sue Cogan
2 lbs extra coarse wholemeal flour
8oz pinhead oatmeal
8oz self raising flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon bread soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 litre buttermilk
1 extra ½ cup milk if needed

Sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and poppy seeds

Will make 3 x 2 lb loaves

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add oil and buttermilk. Mixture must resemble wet porridge. Oil the tins. Spread sesame seed on bottom. Fill tins with mixture. Spread pumpkin seed, sunflower and poppy seed on top. Cooking in oven 200C/400F/gas 6 for 40 minutes.

Turn out on wire rack to cool.

Lemongrass and Ginger Sorbet

- Olivia Lacey
I made this variation on lemon verbena sorbet on the course, on the day after we made Thai curries. It is very refreshing after spicy food.
1 pint water
6oz sugar
2 stalks of lemongrass
2 inch piece of fresh ginger

Cut the lemongrass stalks in half lengthwise. Peel and coarsely grate the ginger. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil, simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse for at least 30 minutes or until cold. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Sieve and freeze in an ice- cream maker.

My Stepmother Juliet’s Chocolate Mousse – Olivia Lacey
Break a bar of chocolate into a liquidiser or magimix. Put ¼ litre of single cream in a saucepan, bring nearly to the boil and pour over the chocolate. Whizz up until chocolate melts. Break in 1 egg. Whizz again for 2-3 minutes until bubbly. Pour into a bowl, or little coffee cups and glasses, and put in a cool place until set (3-4 hours).

Butterfly Cakes

by Laura Clarke

4oz butter
4oz sugar
2 eggs
6oz plain flour
1 teasp. baking powder
1 tablesp. milk

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Add eggs, well beaten, then flour and baking powder mixed, and lastly milk.

Half fill paper cases with the mixture, place on a cold oven tray and bake about 10-15 minutes at 200C. When cool cut a small piece off the top of each, fill with a teaspoon of jam and a heaped teaspoon of whipped cream, cut the small piece in half and stand these on the edge of the cream.

Ki’s Sesame Miso Soup with Tofu

– Kinue Harada
Serves 4
100g sesame seeds
800ml dashi or fish stock
300g soft/silken tofu
4 tablesp miso paste

Roast the sesame seeds. Be careful not to burn the seeds, taking the pan off the heat once the seeds start to pop.

In a pestle and mortar, grind them to a sticky paste. (It should smell wonderfully nutty.) Transfer the paste to a large mixing bowl.

Pour the dashi or fish stock into a pan on a moderate heat. Just before it comes to the boil add the miso paste, stirring until it dissolves. Bring to a gentle boil, add the tofu, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces with your hand.

Serve immediately, garnished with a little chopped spring onion and a little ground sesame according to taste. You can also add seasonal cooked vegetables if you like.

Dominic’s All Purpose Chilli

– Dominic McCartan
This is a version of my vegetarian chilli that I have used to feed myself for the best part of 20 years since I decided not to eat meat or fish. The availability of vegetarian food was limited and therefore this was a dish I created to keep me from starving. It was and still is the most popular dish on the menus in my pubs in Brighton (The Hop Poles and the Eagle), so I hope you enjoy it.
Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 large onion about 6oz/220g
2 large cloves of garlic
1-2 good fresh red chillies
1 medium carrot chopped finely
2-3 celery stalks chopped finely
200g of unflavoured GMO free soya mince
1 litre of good vegetable stock, homemade or cubes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon Marmite or yeast extract
salt and pepper
1-2 tablespoons soya sauce or mushroom soya
2 tablespoons freshly ground cumin
2 tablespoons of coriander finely chopped (use stalks). Add more at end of cooking to taste.
1 red pepper and 1 green pepper sliced and chopped
2 cans good quality tinned tomatoes, chopped, or use fresh overripe ones peeled and chopped
1-2 tablespoons of hot chilli sauce to taste
14oz tinned cooked red kidney beans
chopped coriander leaves for final additions.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed large pan and add chopped and crushed garlic, the onion shred relatively coarsely and the chillis finely chopped, along with the carrot and celery.

Allow these to cook on a moderate heat until the onions are nearly soft but still with some resistance. Watch they do not burn and stir frequently. Add the cumin stirring all the time until the aroma rises and the spice has started to cook. You can if you like add a half glass of good red wine at this point and and reduce before adding soya items. Reduce the heat and add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add the hydrated soya, stir well and add the peppers, increasing the heat to bring the chilli to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently to prevent the soya sticking. Once the mixture is hot through, reduce the heat to a medium simmer and cook for 40-50 minutes until the mixture becomes soft and deepens in colour. Add kidney beans 5 minutes before the end of cooking.

During this slow cooking you can add some hot chilli sauce to taste if you like it hotter, but do allow the chilli to cook through before being over generous. Also use the soya sauce or mushroom sauce to darken the chilli and provide a little more depth. If the chilli looks a little thin, thicken with a tablespoon or so of extra tomato puree.

Season with chopped coriander leaves before end of cooking time and also check for seasoning. When cooked the chilli should be of a good consistency with plenty of flavour, and taste great.

This chilli can be served with rice, in tortilla wraps topped with guacamole and soured cream, also on a plate of Nacho chips topped with melted cheese. It can also be served as a topping for jacket potatoes.

This chilli is vegan and many people do not realise that there is not a scrap of meat anywhere near it.

It will also keep well in a fridge covered for at least 3-4 days and freezes well. Do not be afraid to experiment with the heat of this dish as you gain experience cooking it, but always hydrate your soya mince for maximum flavour, or the chilli will be thin and uninteresting.

Huw’s Special Tuna Pasta

– Huw Francis
Serves 4

1 packet of pasta/spag
3 tins of canned tuna
clove of garlic
fist full of basil/oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 chilli
2 fl. oz of chicken stock

Boil water in a large saucepan, add salt (1 tablespoon to every 2 pints of water) – cook pasta.

Heat oil in small saucepan. Add garlic and chilli and stir for 30 seconds – add tuna – stir and cook for 5 minutes, add chicken stock and basil – cook for a further 5 minutes – serve with pasta.

An American Chocolate Cake

- Mary Jo McMillin
1¾ oz cocoa powder
1 fl.oz milk
5 fl.oz boiling water or hot coffee
4 oz Irish butter, very soft
3½ oz soft brown sugar
3½ oz castor sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4oz cream flour
tiny pinch salt
½ teasp bread soda

Butter edges of two 7 inch cake tins and line bottoms with Bakewell paper. 
Preheat the oven to 170C.

Put milk in measuring jug, fill to 6oz with boiling water or coffee. Add cocoa and whisk to dissolve, set aside.

In mixing bowl cream the butter with the sugars. Add eggs once at a time, beating well. Add vanilla. Sift together the flour, soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture alternatively with the cocoa liquid in 3 additions.

Divide the batter between the tins. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tests done. Remove from the tins and cool on wire racks.

Sandwich the layers and ice with chocolate ganache:

4 fl.oz double cream
1 teaspoon honey
4oz chopped dark chocolate (semisweet or bittersweet)

Bring cream to a simmer with the honey. Remove saucepan from heat. Add chocolate and stir gently until melted. Cool until thickened enough to spread over cake.
A foolproof chocolate layer cake that is successful on both sides of the Atlantic – a favourite from Mary Jo’s cuisine.

Foolproof Food

Charlie’s Favourite Sandwiches

Fish Finger – classic!

Grill 3-4 fish fingers (crumbed not battered) till nice and crispy, season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Take either 2 pieces of white toast or a very soft white bap and butter both sides. On one put a small amount of Colman’s English Mustard, followed by lashings of mayo (Hellman’s of course – sorry Darina!) and on the other side put a generous amount of Colman’s followed by plenty of ketchup. Put the fish fingers on the ketchup side (v. important). Cover with iceberg lettuce then close the sandwich. Cut or eat whole.

Top Tips

Deasy’s Pub in Ring 3 miles from Clonakilty in West Cork is I’m told worth a detour – friends wax lyrical about Kathleen’s delicious food – menu chalked on the blackboard, candledlit with great atmosphere.

Dutch Masters at the Crawford Art Gallery Cork – 
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see the Dutch Masters, including The Pancake Woman by Rembrandt among the wonderful collection now showing.

Hosford’s Garden Centre, Cappa, Enniskeane, Co Cork, Tel 023-39159
Sunday 10th April 3.00pm – Fruit Growing talk with Michael Brennock (formerly of Teagasc).

Cais Cheese Tasting on Tuesday 14th April in the Cashel Palace Hotel, Main St. Cashel, Co Tipperary. 

11.00am meet the cheesemakers and taste the cheese, lunch and optional tour of Cashel Blue Cheese. This is a unique opportunity to taste a variety of the country’s finest cheeses and meet the people who make them – including some of the original members of the Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers Association and some of the newer cheesemakers. To book a place contact Lucy Hayes, Mount Callan Farmhouse Cheese, Drinagh, Ennistymon, Co Clare – 


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