ArchiveSeptember 2005

Murray’s Cheese Shop at Grand Central

Grand Central Station Terminal in New York used to be so grotty, paint peeling from the ceiling, a few dingy shops, a 99cent store and a few basic services for commuters like shoe shine stands. Commuters hurried through on the way to the trains, no reason to dally, nothing to distract or amuse if one’s train was delayed.
All that changed radically when the station was painstakingly renovated in the mid-nineties When it reopened in 1998 it was a whole new scene, lots of ‘upscale’ retail outlets to tempt the semi-captive 700,000 commuters who pass through daily. They responded with enthusiasm . Travellers are now building in a little extra time to visit the restaurants and shops.

Murray’s Cheese Shop, Pescatore Seafood company and Koglein German Royal Hams are just three of the speciality food shops within an area called Grand Central Market. . New York cheese guru Rob Kaufeld who runs Murray’s Cheese Shop is one of 90 retailers, food merchants and restaurateurs who have been doing a brisk business at Grand Central Station since it reopened. My daughter Emily spent a Summer’s break ‘chopping cheese’ at Murray’s Cheese Shop. She loved the camaraderie between the stall holders and was greatly amused by the frenetic jewel encrusted New Yorkers dashing in to buy some low fat cheese on the way home – Murrays, quite rightly, didn’t sell any ‘low fat’ cheese so she encouraged them in her soft Irish lilt to buy some Irish farmhouse cheese, perhaps a deliciously pungent Ardrahan or a toothsome wedge of Cashel Blue. Philip Dennhardt worked on the German meat stall next door to Murrays and sold copious quantities of cured meat, sausages and German salad.

This area has become one of the hippest areas to do one’s food shopping in New York. Its so blindingly obvious to site artisan food shops in a busy transit hub. Retailers at Grand Central are delighted with their semi-captive audience. Annual return per square foot in Grand Central Market where rent costs about €200 per square foot is about $2000, as opposed to malls where the return might be $1400 or a shopping centre $500 - $800 per square foot. There are now 22 restaurants to choose from, kids spots like Junior’s Dishes to the recently opened Ciao Bella Gelateria in the lower dining concourse, most like Paninoteca who make great panini, offer take-out only.

The drawback for the traders at Grand Central is that business seems to be almost exclusively tied to office hours and schedules of urban commuters.

Jerry Bocchino of the Pescatore Seafood Company says that 80% of their business is done between 4.30pm and 8pm and weekends are still not where he’d like them to be.

Here are some typical New York recipes From The New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill –published by Workman Publishing Co. New York. The recipes are written in American cup measurements – 1 cup = 8fl.oz

Eileen’s Honey Walnuts

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, is a cookbook author and a cooking instructor at The China Institute in New York City – ‘In China, honey walnuts are served with cold platters or sometimes as complementary nibbles for cocktails – many people enjoy them with their afternoon tea.
350g(¾ lb) freshly shelled walnut halves
2 tablespoons sugar
700 – 900ml (24-32 fl.oz /3-4 cups) peanut oil

Bring 900ml-1.2L (1½ - 2pints/4 - 5 cups) of water to the boil in a wok or medium-size saucepan over high heat. Add the walnuts and boil for 5 minutes (to remove the bitter taste). Strain out the walnuts and then run cold water over them. Strain again then return the nuts to the wok.

Add (900ml/32fl.oz/4 cups) of fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Repeat the straining process. Set the nuts aside to drain.

Wash the wok. Then add 50ml(2fl.oz1/3 cups) of cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Add the sugar and boil, constantly stirring, for 1 minute. Add the walnuts. Stir and cook until the walnuts are coated with sugar and the remaining liquid has evaporated.

Remove the walnuts and set aside on a well-greased baking sheet. Wash the wok with extremely hot water to remove the sugar. Dry thoroughly.

Heat the of peanut oil in the wok over a high heat until very hot (you will see a wisp of white smoke). Carefully add the walnuts and fry until golden brown 2 to 3 minutes.

Mardee’s Yogurt Chutney

This chutney makes a great dip for cruditées, topping for rice or baked potatoes, or condiment for grilled meat or fish.
Serves 6

350ml (12fl.oz/1 ½ cups) plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped Scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Cardamom seeds from 6 pods
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients, adding more of any to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavours develop.

Serve the chutney with grilled fish, chicken, or lamb, as a topping for potatoes or rice or as a spread inside a pita pocket. The chutney keeps for up to 2 weeks if covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.

Grandma Dora’s Chopped Liver

The secret to this dish is boiling the livers and chopping each ingredient by hand in a wooden bowl or on a chopping board, best served on rye bread.
450g (1lb) chicken livers, cleaned and rinsed
1 white onion, finely chopped
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
About 2 tablespoons melted butter (or rendered chicken fat)
Dash of paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

Immerse the livers in plenty of boiling water, cover and boil gently until the livers are firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Chill in the refrigerator for 40 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, chop the livers to a smooth paste. Using a wooden spoon, mix together half of the liver, onion, and eggs. Add the remaining liver, onion and eggs and stir to combine completely. Add enough of the melted butter to moisten and hold the liver together. Add the paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Zabar’s Scallion Cream Cheese Spread

The bagel is one of New York’s typical brunch favourites, this silky scallion cream cheese spread comes from Zabar’s , Manhattan’s Upper West Side’s famous food emporium. The spread is simple and addictive and can be used as a dip, a spread for croutons or crackers or on top of baked potatoes. Keeps well covered in the refrigerator.
450g (1lb) cream cheese, at room temperature 
125ml (4fl.oz/½ cup) of sour cream
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder 
75g (3oz/½ cup chopped scallions 

Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl and stir until well mixed and smooth. Stir in the scallions. Serve on crackers or toasted bagel rounds. 

Le Cirque’s Crème Brulee

Sirio Macciono of the famous Le Cirque Restaurant in New York adapted this crème brulee from a crema he ate in Spain in 1982, which had a caramelized sugar topping so thick that it had to be broken with a small hammer. This version has a thinner elegant caramel crackle and can be tapped with the most elegant silver spoon.
Serves 8

900ml (32 fl.oz/4 cups) double cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Pinch of salt 
8 large eggs
175g (6ozs (¾ cup plus 2 tablesp.) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place eight cup ramekins in roasting pan.

In a saucepan over low heat combine the cream, vanilla bean and salt. Warm for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Pour in the hot cream and stir gently to combine. Strain the custard into a jug and skim off any bubbles.

Pour the custard into the ramekins, filling them up to the rim. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour warm water in the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with aluminium foil and bake until set, 1 ¾ hours.
Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool. Cover individually and refrigerate. For at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, preheat the grill.

Uncover the ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and using a metal spatula or knife spread the sugar evenly over the custards. Grill the custards until the sugar caramelises, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is a great do-ahead dish for a crowd, keeps well and reheats like a dream.
Serves 4-6

1 tablesp. butter
1 tablesp. plain flour
725ml (24/fl.oz/3 cups) milk
1 teasp. salt
dash of freshly ground white pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
225g (8oz) grated Cheddar cheese
225g (8oz) elbow macaroni, fully cooked and drained
110g (4oz/½ cup) tinned tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teasp.sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Grease a 1½ quart baking dish.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, then add the milk, salt and both peppers. Stir almost constantly until the mixture thickens and is smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until it melts. Remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the macaroni and the sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and the sugar. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the greased baking dish. Bake until the surface browns, 30-40 minutes.

Sophie Grigson’s Ruggelach

At one time there were fine bakeries on every street corner in New York, not as many now, but there are still some traditional pastry shops selling handmade pastries like Ruggelach, but Sophie Grigson’s version is my favourite.
Makes 16

110g (4oz) cream cheese
110g (4oz) softened butter
150g (5oz) flour

50g (2oz) pale brown sugar
½ teasp. cinnamon
35g (1½oz) walnuts, finely chopped
25g (1oz) raisins, chopped

1 egg, beaten
castor sugar

Beat the cream cheese vigorously with the butter until well mixed and softened. Gradually beat in the flour. Gather up into a ball and wrap in foil or cling film. Chill for 30 minutes.

Mix the sugar with the cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry out into a 33cm(12 inch) circle. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the filling evenly over the pastry. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and run the rolling pin over it a couple of times to fix the filling firmly into the pastry. Lift off the paper.

Divide the circle up like a cake into 16 triangles. Roll up each one, starting with the wider end, as if you were making a croissant. Arrange on a baking sheet, brush with egg, and sprinkle with castor sugar. Bake at 200C/400F/gas 6 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 

Foolproof Food

Blackberry, Apple and Sweet Geranium Jam

All over the countryside every year, blackberries rot on the hedgerows. Think of all the wonderful jam that could be made - so full of Vitamin C! This year organise a blackberry picking expedition while they are still on the brambles.
Blackberries are a bit low in pectin, so the apples help it to set as well as adding extra flavour. If you have some sweet geranium leaves they are a wonderful addition, but it is quite delicious without them.
Makes 9-10 x 450 g/1 lb jars approx.

2.3 kg (5 lbs) blackberries
900 g (2 lbs) cooking apples (Bramley, or Grenadier in season)
1.8 kg (4 lbs) sugar (use (225g) 2 lb less if blackberries are sweet)
150ml (5fl.oz) water
8-10 sweet geranium leaves - optional

Wash, peel and core and slice the apples. Stew them until soft with 150ml (5fl.oz) of water in a stainless steel saucepan; beat to a pulp. Warm the sugar. 

Pick over the blackberries, cook until soft, adding about 100ml (3½ fl.oz) water if the berries are dry. If you like, push them through a coarse sieve to remove seeds. Put the blackberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan with the apple pulp and the heated sugar. Destalk and chop sweet geranium leaves and add to the fruit. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. 

Boil steadily for about 15 minutes. Skim the jam, test it for a set and pot into warm spotlessly clean jars.

Hot Tips

Slow Food Cork Festival – Food Market in Patrick Street today 10-6 – don’t miss it.
More than 60 artisan food producers from all over Ireland.

Midleton Farmers Market – next Saturday 1st October, Gene Cunningham who sharpens knives will attend – so bring along your kitchen knives if they need sharpening.

Local Producers of Good Food in Cork by Myrtle Allen –

A revised edition of this invaluable little book published by Cork Free Choice Consumer Group is now available - €5 from Liam Ruiseal’s bookshop, Crawford Gallery Café, Ballymaloe Shop or by post from Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House for €6 including postage. 

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group meets on the last Thursday of the Month at 7.30pm (excluding December, June, July & August) at the Crawford Gallery Café, admission €6 including tastings. Next meeting Thursday 29th September –Speaker Jean Perry of The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore on Winter Vegetable Gardening – make the most of your polytunnel or glasshouse, harvest and store your crops, saving your seeds and resting your garden until Spring.

Youghal Through the Ages running from 23 September till 2nd October – Heritage programme focussing on ‘the Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh’ will feature an Elizabethan Market at Barry’s Lane on Saturday 1st October from 10 – 3, with street entertainment. Programme from Youghal Tourist Office Tel 024-20170 or visit 

Green Festival in the Northwest – 16 - 25 September, celebrating our environment , heritage, culture, food and economy, on – tomorrow Sunday 25th there will be an Organic Fair at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim – Stalls of food, wines, crafts and much, much more - this is the single biggest organic event in the country and attracts hundred of visitors.  

Slow Food Cork Festival

Clodagh McKenna makes things happen. This swirling vivacious gastro-dame is the power behind the upcoming Slow Food Cork Festival 23-25 September 2005. In a year where there have been many highlights of the arts and music scene, there has been a serious dearth of foodie events. At last we have the celebration of Cork’s food culture and gastronomic bounty with this Slow Food Event. 
Kay Harte of the Farmgate Café in the Market tells me that another food event will be held in the English Market in October showcasing the best of market foods when they will launch the first book ever written about the market – this will be a historical account of Cork’s English Market written by Donal and Diarmuid O’Drisceoil and published by Con Collins.

Clodagh who was born by the banks of the Lee spent four years doing business studies in NYU in New York City. She was blown away by the variety of eating options in New York, particularly the huge ready-to-go food business. She came back to Ireland full of enthusiasm and ready to open an exciting ‘Grab, Gobble & Go’ outfit, but first she decided to do the Certificate Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. After 12 weeks ‘indoctrination’ she became even more passionate about the need to source really good quality produce. A stint in Ballymaloe House working closely with Myrtle Allen on her stall at the Midleton Farmers Market followed and she gradually took over the stall from Myrtle and never looked back.

Myrtle who just last week won the Food and Wine Magazine Hall of Fame award would be up at 5am to show Clodagh how to make loaves of traditional soda bread for the market. Clodagh told me how excited she was to discover the Farmers Market ‘community’ and a whole network of new young foodie entrepreneurs, passionate about quality and who were like herself brimming with confidence and pride in the new and traditional artisan food products and local foods. 

She first heard about the Slow Food Movement in 2002 . The philosophy of celebrating differences in flavours, artisanal food production, small-scale agriculture, sustainable approaches to fishing and farming all appealed to her. Slow Food restores cultural dignity to food, promotes taste education and strives to defend biodiversity. 

She was involved in the organisation of the hugely successful Slow Food Weekends in Rosscarbery and Kenmare. Clodagh presented six different proposals for food events to the committee of Cork City of Culture, but much to her dismay food didn’t appear to be a priority. According to Clodagh the official 2005 Year of Culture Guide has about 50 pages on sport and not one mention of Cork’s number one culture – food.
The Slow Food Cork Festival will redress all that with backing and help from Musgraves, Febvre, Cork and Kerry Tourism, Failte Ireland and most of all Liz McAvoy in Cork City Challenge (our Slow Food Guardian Angel!) Slow Food plan to make this an annual event. 

The weekend starts on Friday night 23rd of September with a ‘Cork Schools Dinner’ at the Millennium Hall. The aim of the dinner is to raise awareness and funding for the ‘Cork Edible School Gardens Project’. Saturday morning will be dedicated to workshops, then in the afternoon there will be a huge farmers market on Patrick Street and a Cork City food tour. The ‘Slow Pub Trail’ starts at 7pm in Tom Barry’s Pub and ends at the Franciscan Well. Three of the five pubs will host fantastic Cork Artisan Producers selling plates of their food for €5. There will also be a quiz with a fabulous ‘food’ prize, please ask for further details in the pubs listed. 
Excursions will take place on Sunday to visit producers in Cork County. If you prefer to stay city centered Kino Art House Cinema will be showcasing ‘foodie movies’ all afternoon and further workshops will take place in UCC. The last event will be the ‘Slow Food Cork Awards’ recognising the sterling work and innovative enterprise of Ireland’s leading artisan food producers, chefs and quality food retailers. Additional categories will also acknowledge the work of food journalists and volunteers who work promoting the merits of quality Irish produce. Throughout the festival various restaurants in the city will be offering Slow Food menus – please visit   for more information.

Clodagh and her team or volunteers are hoping that the whole of Cork will slow down and enjoy the convivial weekend that they have organised with something exciting and delicious for everyone to sample.

Farmgate Café Corned Mutton with Caper Sauce

Kay Harte shared this recipe with us – delicious corned mutton or corned beef feature all the time on the menu at the Farmgate Café in the market, otherwise there would be lots of disappointed customers.

Paul Murphy of Paul Murphy butchers in the Market corns the mutton for about 4 days and its absolutely mouthwatering.

1 leg of corned mutton
béchamel sauce – see recipe

Weigh the leg of mutton and boil for approx. 20 minutes per lb in a large saucepan. Remove from the saucepan and place on a serving dish. Keep warm. Keep the cooking liquid.

Make the béchamel sauce making up the liquid with half milk and half mutton cooking liquid. Add a little mustard to the sauce (you could use English mustard or Dijon mustard) and some chopped fresh capers. Slice the mutton and serve with the sauce.

Kay serves it with steamed jacket potatoes and mashed carrot and turnip. She cooks the vegetables in some of the mutton cooking water to give a delicious flavour. 

Well worth a detour for!

Béchamel Sauce

½ pint (300ml) milk or half milk and half meat cooking liquid as suggested by Kay Harte
A few slices of carrot
A few slices of onion
A small sprig of thyme
A small sprig of parsley
3 peppercorns
1½ ozs (45g) roux (see below)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

This is a marvellous quick way of making Bechamel Sauce if you already have roux made. Put the cold milk ( or half and half) 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 with roux to a light coating consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

4 ozs (110g) butter
4 ozs (110g) 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.

Tripe and Onions
This recipe was given to me by Michael Ryan of Isaacs Restaurant in Cork, for my book on Traditional Irish Cooking, this was how his father cooked tripe and onions.

1 lb (450g) tripe
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
cold milk - sufficient to cover


Put the tripe into a saucepan, with the lid on, place on gas ring for 8-10 minutes approx. 
Discard the liquor in the pot, add the sliced onion and cover with cold milk. Simmer gently for 1 hour approx. until the tripe is tender. Strain off the milk, thicken with roux, season with salt and pepper. Strain the back into the saucepan with the tripe, heat through. Check seasoning, it will take quite a bit of pepper.
Serve on a slice of buttered white bread.

Tripe and Drisheen

After adding the thickened liquor back to the saucepan, you could if you wish add some drisheen to the tripe - peel and slice some cooked drisheen, add it to the saucepan and heat through before serving.
Tripe in Batter

2 lb (225g) tripe
batter - see below

Wash the tripe in hot water. Put it into boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming well. When quite tender, take out the trip, dry it, cut in pieces about 2 inches (5cm) square and allow it to become perfectly cold. Put the fat into a frying pan, when hot dip the pieces of tripe into the batter and fry at once.


4 ozs (110g) flour
2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoon pepper
5 fl. ozs (150ml) milk

To make the batter, put the flour and salt into a basin, make a hole in the centre, pour in the liquid gradually, beating till the batter is quite smooth.

Pigs Head 

My children were appalled at the unmentionable bits that they occasionally glimpsed while I tested recipes for my Traditional Irish Food book, pigs tails, bodice, tripe, drisheen .... such a lily-livered lot, this generation!

Pigs Head and Cabbage

Half a pigs head
a head of cabbage
a lump of butter

Remove the brain and discard. Wash the pigs head well. Put in a large saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil, discard water and continue to cook in a covered saucepan for 3-4 hours or until the meat is soft and tender and almost lifting off the bones. 

Meanwhile, remove the outside leaves from the cabbage, cut into quarters and remove the centre core. Cut into thin strips across the grain, about 30 minutes before the pig's head is cooked add the cabbage and continue to cook until the cabbage is soft and tender and the pigs head is fully cooked through.

Devotees of pig's head would simply surround the pigs head with cabbage on a plate and serve this. However, for a less dramatic presentation and ease of carving, the bones can be removed and the pigs head cut into slices. Don't forget to give each person a piece of tongue and ear. The Pig's ear is a particular favourite.


The Irish name for salted pigs trotters have long been a
favourite in Ireland the front feet are considered to be sweeter and more meaty and succulent than the back legs which are less meaty and more grisly and best used for their gelatinous quality they give to and pies
Crubeens were regular in pubs, a particular favourite with not only the customer but also the publican who was fully aware of the thirst they provoked!
Serves 6

6 Crubeens
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 bay leaf
5 or 6 parsley stalks
a good sprig of thyme
a few peppercorns
enough cold water to cover well

Put all the ingredients into a large pot, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to the boil, skim. Boil gently for 2 or 3 hours or until the meat is soft and tender. Eat either warm or cold with a little mustard if you fancy.

Ballymaloe Spiced Beef 
Although Spiced Beef is traditionally associated with Christmas, in Cork we eat it all year round! It may be served hot or cold and is a marvellous stand-by, because if it is properly spiced and cooked it will keep for 3-4 weeks in a fridge.
Serves 12-16

3-4 lbs (1.35kg-1.8kg) lean flap of beef or silverside

Ballymaloe spice for beef

This delicious recipe for Spiced Beef has been handed down in Myrtle Allen's family and is the best I know. It includes saltpetre, nowadays regarded as a health hazard, so perhaps you should not live exclusively on it! Certainly people have lived on occasional meals of meats preserved in this way, for generations.
The recipe below makes enough spice to cure 5 flanks of beef, each 4 lbs (1.8kg) approx in size.

8 ozs (225g) demerara sugar
12 ozs (340g) salt
½ oz (15g) saltpetre (available from chemists)
3 ozs (85g) whole black pepper
3 ozs (85g) whole allspice (pimento, Jamaican pepper)
3 ozs (85g) whole juniper berries

Grind all the ingredients (preferably in a food processor) until fairly fine. Store in a screw-top jar; it will keep for months, so make the full quantity even if it is more than you need at a particular time.

To prepare the beef: If you are using flank of beef, remove the bones and trim away any unnecessary fat. Rub the spice well over the beef and into every crevice. Put into an earthenware dish and leave in a fridge or cold larder for 3-7 days, turning occasionally. (This is a dry spice, but after a day or two some liquid will come out of the meat.). The longer the meat is left in the spice, the longer it will last and the more spicy the flavour.

Just before cooking, roll and tie the joint neatly with cotton string into a compact shape, cover with cold water and simmer for 2-3 hours or until soft and cooked. If it is not to be eaten hot, press by putting it on a flat tin or into an appropriate sized bread tin; cover it with a board and weight and leave for 12 hours.

Spiced Beef will keep for 3-4 weeks in a fridge.

To serve: Cut it into thin slices and serve with some freshly-made salads and home-made chutneys, or in sandwiches.

Smoked Cod with Parsley Sauce

O’Connells fish mongers in the English Market tell me that Smoked Cod is a very popular Cork dish at this time of the year.
Serves 6

6 portions of smoked cod (allow 170 g/6 ozs approx. filleted fish per person)
1 tablesp.finely-chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
30 g (1 oz) butter
1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley
Light cream or creamy milk to cover the fish, approx. 300 ml (½ pint)
Roux – see bechamel sauce recipe.

15 g (½ oz) butter 

Melt the butter in a pan. Fry the onion gently for a few minutes until soft but not coloured. Put the cod in the pan and cook on both sides for 1 minute. Season with salt and freshly- ground pepper. Cover with cream or creamy milk and simmer with the lid on for 5-10 minutes, until the fish is cooked. Remove the fish to a serving dish. Bring the cooking liquid to the boil and lightly thicken with roux. Whisk in the remaining butter, add the chopped parsley, check the seasoning. Coat the fish with sauce and serve immediately with floury potatoes or some creamy mash.

This dish can be prepared ahead and reheated and it also freezes well. Reheat in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4, for anything from 10-30 minutes, depending on the size of the container.

Carrigeen Moss Pudding

Carrigeen moss is bursting with goodness. I ate it as a child but never liked it as it was always too stiff and unpalatable. Myrtle Allen changed my opinion! Hers was always so light and fluffy. This is her recipe, it’s the best and most delicious. We find that visitors to the country are fascinated by the idea of a dessert made with seaweed and they just love it. The name comes from little rock.
Serves 4-6

8g (¼oz) cleaned, well dried carrigeen moss (1 semi-closed fistful)
850ml (12pint) milk 
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free range
2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence or a vanilla pod

Soak the carrigeen in tepid water for 10 minutes. Strain off the water and put the carrigeen into a saucepan with milk and vanilla pod if used. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently with the lid on for 20 minutes. At that point and not before, separate the egg, put the yolk into a bowl, add the sugar and vanilla essence and whisk together for a few seconds, then pour the milk and carrigeen moss through a strainer onto the egg yolk mixture whisking all the time. The carrigeen will now be swollen and exuding jelly. Rub all this jelly through the strainer and beat it into the milk with the sugar, egg yolk and vanilla essence if used. Test for a set in a saucer as one would with gelatine. Whisk the egg white stiffly and fold or fluff it in gently. It will rise to make a fluffy top. Serve chilled with soft brown sugar and cream and or with a fruit compote eg. Blackberry and apple or poached rhubarb

Foolproof Food

Compote of Blackberry and Apples with Sweet Geranium Leaves

A delicious Autumn dessert.
Serves 3 approx.

225g (8 ozs) sugar
450ml (16fl ozs) water
4 large dessert apples eg. Worcester Pearmain or Cox’s Orange Pippin
275g (10 ozs) blackberries
8 large sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)

Put the sugar, cold water and sweet geranium leaves into a saucepan, bring to the boil for 1-2 minutes. Peel the apples thinly with a peeler, keeping a good round shape. Quarter them, remove the core and trim the ends. Cut into segments 5mm (1/4inch) thick. Add to the syrup. Poach until translucent but not broken. Cover with a paper lid and lid of the saucepan. 

Just 3-5 minutes before they have finished cooking, add the blackberries, simmer together so that they are both cooked at once.

Serve chilled, with little shortbread biscuits.

Hot Tips

Cork Coffee Roasters is a new, gourmet coffee micro-roaster owned and operated by Master Coffee Roaster, John Gowan. He specialises in small batch coffee roasting, using only the highest quality Arabica beans. 
The company offers for sale a number of specialty roasts, but is best known for their Full City Blend Espresso. Orders are taken online at  or it can be purchased at the Bubble Brothers located in the English Market.
Try some today and taste the best and freshest coffee currently available in Ireland.

Congratulations to Myrtle Allen on receiving a Hall of Fame Award from Food and Wine Magazine –‘ For her outstanding contribution to Ireland’s gastronomic development.’

AstroPuppees ‘Sugar Beat’
Singer-songwriter-producer Kelley Ryan’s fourth album ‘Sugar Beat’ was released on 26th August. Kelley fell in love with Ireland and particularly with ‘The People’s Republic of Cork’ during her time attending the 3 month Cookery Course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School some years ago. In addition to the cookery classes she found time to compose songs for the first AstroPuppees album as well as play at local pubs. She now divides her time between Co Cork and Los Angeles and is as much at home in the kitchen as the recording studio.

Educating our Children to Eat Well

As children around the country return to school, two of Ireland’s top food organisations are taking action so that ‘back to school’ does not have to mean ‘back to junk’. ‘A is for Apple: Educating our Children to Eat Well’ was the topic for discussion at the 4th National Food Forum & Fair at Brooklodge, Co. Wicklow, which is organised annually by Euro-toques Ireland, the Irish branch of the European Community of Chefs.
At the forum Euro-toques called on the government to take urgent action to work towards changing children’s diets and proposed a national programme throughout primary schools to educate children about all aspects of food and eating. Euro-toques, in conjunction with Slowfood Ireland, today also launched a pilot programme of School Food Workshops. Ireland’s two major food organisations, which collectively represent chefs, food producers and consumers, will visit 10 schools around the country during the autumn term carrying out workshops which cover origin and growing of food, food tastings, food preparation & healthy lunchbox ideas. These workshops take a hands-on approach which empowers children to make good choices about what they eat. 

Speaking at the event, Euro-toques Commissioner and Chef/Proprietor of Chapter One Restaurant Ross Lewis commented; “We feel that the situation in terms of children’s diets and eating habits is reaching crisis point. Eating unhealthy food is set to create a massive public health crisis and we feel this must be tackled pro-actively from the ground up. But for Euro-toques this is not just about obesity and health problems, it is about an overall attitude to eating and food culture. That is why we advocate a holistic approach to educating children about all aspects of the food chain and giving them an appreciation of food and taste”.

“With my own children I have aimed to introduce them to a wide variety of food from a young age”, he added, “We believe that all children should have access to a wholesome and balanced diet”.
The recent National Children’s Food Survey carried out by the Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance shows that:
One in four girls and one in five boys between the ages of 5 and 12 in Ireland are now overweight or obese. 
Children are consuming 40% more fat than they need and that one fifth of their calories is obtained from biscuits and other high fat treats. 
salt intake is too high.
Fruit and vegetable consumption is half what is required, and some children eat no fruit and vegetables whatsoever, many are malnourished despite adequate or excessive calorie intake, as their diet is made up of processed foods which are low in nutrients. 
If this trend continues we are certain to seeing growing rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. . This is, of course, partly due to changes in lifestyle and a decrease in physical activity, but diet also has an obvious part to play. 

The discussion was opened by Euro-toques Commissioner-General Martin Dwyer who spoke of the need for parents to take control of what their children are eating and to bring children back to the table; “Appetites educated on the high sugar, high flavour foods which hide under the label of convenience will never enjoy the gentle subtlety of crunching into a sweet young carrot, or relish the mouthful of the ocean that is a piece of fresh fish”.

Restaurants were increasingly being asked to serve chicken nuggets, funny fish and burgers to children who refuse to eat anything, because they are constantly grazing between the fridge and the microwave. Anne O’Hara who is responsible for the food of 300 children in Wilson’s Hospital School in Multyfarnham, made a plea for vending machines to be banned in schools unless they can be used for healthy snacks.

The Forum continued with a panel discussion chaired by John Bowman. The panel included executive council member of Slowfood International Giacomo Mojoli, Mairead McGuinness MEP, Chairman of Unilever Foods Paul Murphy, Food Writer Hugo Arnold. The event also included a colourful day long Farmers Market featuring about 50 small food producers from across Ireland. Among the large and varied range of stall-holders were Govenders Indian Delights, The Gallic Kitchen, Irish Seedsavers, The Organic Herb Company, Denis Healy’s Organic Vegetables and Oisin Healy’s Pancakes, Straight Sausages, Wicklow Fine foods, Glenboy Goats Products and many more too numerous to mention them all. The farmhouse cheesemakers too were well represented, among them were Corleggy, Gubbeen, Cratloe, Ardsallagh and Crozier Blue cheeses, Sheridans Cheesemongers were there also. 

Evan Doyle owner of Brooklodge at Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow, served a delicious buffet which included some local food in season and delicious fresh organic vegetables from Gold River Organic Farm in Aughrim, Co Wicklow. Brooklodge also had a stall selling their own organic brown bread which is baked in their licensed organic bakery on the premises.

Euro-Toques was established in 1986 in Brussels as a guardian of European culinary heritage and as a lobby group addressing the concerns of Europe’s top chefs about food quality and the future of food.  

Slowfood, founded in 1986, is an international organisation whose aim is to support artisan and traditional food producers and protect from the homogenisation of modern fast food and life. It encourages its members to slow down and sit down to enjoy meals with family and friends around the table. Through a bio-diversity of initiatives it promotes gastronomic culture, develops taste education, conserves agricultural biodiversity, and protects traditional foods at risk of extinction. Slow Food is gathering momentum around the world and now boasts over 80,000 members in over 100 countries.  

Some lunchbox or after school recipes to tempt those reluctant eaters. 

Foolproof Food


Play around with whatever fresh fruit you have, at its simplest it could be just banana and yoghurt. A few blueberries would be delicious just now.

Banana and Yoghurt Smoothie

Serves 1-2
225ml (8fl oz) natural yoghurt
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Peel the banana, chop coarsely, blend with other ingredients in a liquidizer until smooth.
Pour into a beaker and cover tightly.

Fruit and Nuts
For a healthy lunchbox snack mix together a few raisins, hazelnuts and cashew nuts.

Frittata with Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Chorizo and Goat’s Cheese

Frittata is an Italian omelette. Kuku and Spanish tortilla all sounds much more exciting than a flat omelette although thats basically what they are. Unlike their soft and creamy French cousin, these omelettes are cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! A frittata is cooked gently on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake. Omit the tomato and you have a basic recipe, flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. Like the omelette, though, you’ll occasionally want to add some tasty morsels however, to ring the changes perhaps some spinach, ruby chard, Calabreze, asparagus, smoked mackerel, etc. The list is endless but be careful don’t use it as a dustbin - think about the combination of flavours before you empty your fridge!
A mini frittata cooked in a muffin tin makes a tasty and nutritious addition to the lunch box or an after school snack. Children will have their own favourite additions. 
Serves 6-8

450g (1lb) ripe or sun-blushed tomatoes 
1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs, preferably free range
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons basil, mint or marjoram
110-175g (4-6oz) chorizo, thickly sliced, cut into four
40g (11/2oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
25g (1oz) butter
110g (4oz) soft goat’s cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Non-stick pan 10cm (7 1/2in) bottom, 23cm (9in) top rim

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

Arrange in single layer in a non-stick roasting tin. Cut the tomatoes in half around the equator season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast for 10-15 or until almost soft and slightly crinkly. Remove from the heat and cool. Alternatively use sun-blushed tomatoes. 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, chorizo and grated cheese into the eggs. Add the tomatoes, stir gently. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs. Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Divide the cheese into walnut sized pieces and drop gently into the frittata at regular intervals. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 15 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny.

Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set and barely brown the surface. 
Slide the frittata onto a warm plate. 
Serve cut in wedges with a good green salad and perhaps a few olives. 
Alternatively put the pan into a preheated oven 170°C/325°F/gas 3. Alternatively cook mini frittata in muffin tins (for approximately 15 minutes). Serve with a good green salad.

Variation for a yummy vegetarian alternative omit the chorizo and add 110g (4oz) grated Gruyère cheese to add extra zizz.

Top Tip: The size of the pan is very important, the frittata should be at least 3 cm (11/4in) thick. It the only pan available is larger, adjust the number of eggs, etc.

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


110 g (4 ozs) butter
110 g (4 ozs) 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.


These have a high sugar content which gives them their delicious and characteristic crust, so keep for an occasional treat.
32 ozs (100g) butter
7 ozs (200g) golden organic castor sugar
2 eggs
2 teasp. pure vanilla extract
2 ozs (55g) best quality dark chocolate
3 ozs (85g) white flour
2 teasp. baking powder
3 teasp. salt
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) chopped walnuts

1 x 8 inch (20.5cm) tin lined with silicone paper

Melt the chocolate in a pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water.

Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the lightly whisked eggs, the vanilla extract and melted chocolate. Lastly stir in the flour, baking powder and chopped nuts. Spread the mixture in the square tin and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for approx. 30-35 minutes.

Cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares for serving. 

Cruditees with Dips

Cruditees simply means raw vegetables, but to be really delicious you’ll need very crisp and fresh vegetables. Cut the vegetables into bite-sized bits so they can be picked up easily. You don’t need knives and forks because they are usually eaten with fingers. Garlic mayonnaise is great but you could use a variety of yummy dips.
Pack them in deep plastic containers or a bright spotty beaker, a nutritious and delicious way to make a little vegetable go a long way.

Use as many of the following vegetables as are in season:

Very fresh button mushrooms, quartered
Tomatoes quartered, or let whole with the calyx on if they are freshly picked
Purple sprouting broccoli, broken (not cut) into florettes
Calabrese (green sprouting broccoli), broken into florettes
Cauliflower, broken into florettes
French beans or mange tout
Baby carrots, or larger carrots cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long, approx.
Cucumber, cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long approx.
Tiny spring onions, trimmed
Red cabbage, cut into strips
Celery, cut into sticks 5 cm/2 inches long approx.
Red, green or yellow pepper, cut into strips 5 cm/2 inches long approx., seeds removed
Very fresh Brussels sprouts, cut into halves or quarters
Whole radishes, with green tops left on

Typical Cruditees might include the following: 4 sticks of carrot, 2 or 3 sticks of red and green pepper, 2 or 3 sticks of celery, 2 or 3 sticks of cucumber, 1 mushroom cut in quarters, 1 whole radish with a little green leaf left on, 1 tiny tomato or 2 quarters, 1 Brussels sprout cut in quarters, and a little pile of chopped fresh herbs.

Wash and prepare the vegetables. Arrange on individual white side plates in contrasting colours, with a little bowl of garlic mayonnaise in the centre. Alternatively, do a large dish or basket for the centre of the table. Arrange little heaps of each vegetable in contrasting colours. Provide a little tub of garlic mayonnaise in the centre and then your friends can help themselves. 

Hot Tips

West Cork Leader Co-op is launching an exciting new initiative website for primary schools to encourage healthy eating among children. The package is called  which takes the approach to presenting food in a fun and interactive manner. The pilot programme is currently being run in 3 West Cork schools and 1 Cork based school. Other schools please take note! 

Food Safety Authority of Ireland have recently produced an information leaflet with simple advice for convenient and nutritious lunchbox ideas – available from the helpline 1850 404 567 or on line at  

Green Festival in the Northwest – running 16 - 25 September, celebrating our environment , heritage, culture, food and economy, on – Sunday 25th there will be an Organic Fair at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim – Stalls of food, wines, crafts and much, much more - this is the single biggest organic event in the country and attracts hundred of visitors.

My Grandchildren are of school going age

Well, Summer is almost over. It’s that time of year again when families are gearing up for the school term, so I can return to one of my major preoccupations, the food we feed our children. Now that some of my grandchildren are of school going age, I’m even more concerned about the endless struggle to protect them from gobbling down rubbish.
What a help it would be to parents if the Minister for Health were to forbid or even discourage the fast food outlets from giving free toys and drinks to their young children. It would also be a heck of a lot easier to get kids to eat a bowl of delicious and nourishing porridge if all the other kids in school weren’t collecting the toys out of cereal packets. What public spirited supermarket chain will take the health of our children seriously and support tormented mothers by removing the crisps, fizzy drinks and sweets off every colour and hue from beside the tills and replace them with fruit. Would the positive PR and the gratitude of demented mothers not be worth the loss of revenue?
What we put in our children’s mouths is much more important than what we put on their bodies or in their brains.
In fact it is increasingly obvious that what they eat affects not only their physical growth and immune system but their behaviour and ability to concentrate.
Jamie Oliver’s television series highlighted the deplorable state of school meals in the UK. The Soil Association, the UK’s most highly respected organic organisation, highlighted the problem when they launched the Food for Life Pilot scheme with five schools in 2003. 
They quickly discovered that children were being fed what Peter Melchett, former Minister of the Environment called ‘muck off a truck’. He used this much quoted term to describe the low quality and low price processed foods that were dominating school dinners served by contract caterers.
This was not a slur on dinner ladies but a condemnation of the food they were forced to feed with a budget of 31p per child for lunch.
Jamie’s tv series sent shock waves through the UK. In an election year the government was quick to respond so the budget has been increased somewhat. Turkey twizzlers and chicken nuggets have been dropped from many school menus and many new initiatives are underway. Better still, it focused everyone’s attention, albeit for a brief period on the deteriorating quality of food as a result of the fixation on producing the maximum food at the minimum cost to the detriment of quality and nutritional content. The reality that much of the food we now eat is nutritionally deficient, a fact well known by the FDA, is gradually dawning on more and more people.
In Ireland few schools provide school lunches so the responsibility falls fairly and squarely on parents to provide a nutritious school lunch which we hope the kids will eat. There is no excuse for schools who sell soft sugary drinks, crisps or sweets to kids, no headmaster or headmistress can plead ignorance at this point. The fact that the profits are reinvested in sports facilities or computers is hardly a logical response.
In the UK the school meal revolution, pre Jamie Oliver, was spearheaded by one feisty dinner lady Jeanette Orrey who is on a mission to improve the food our children eat. She has been catering manager at St Peter’s Primary School, East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, for fourteen years. She is also schools meals policy advisor to the Soil Association and travels around the country talking about what has been achieved at St Peter’s and encouraging other schools to implement the Food for Life targets. She has won numerous awards, including the Observer Food Award for ‘The Person who has done most for the food and drink industry’ in 2003. She lives in Nottingham with her husband and has three sons.
Jeanette believes in simple, traditional dishes with the occasional modern twist, made with the freshest local, seasonal and –where possible – organic ingredients. Now she has written a unique family cookbook full of tasty, healthy and practical recipes that are easy to make and can be enjoyed whatever age you are.
The book also tells the inspirational story of how Jeanette has become Britain’s most vocal campaigner for good food for our kids. In a climate of rising child obesity and of constant food-related scares, The Dinner Lady’s quiet food revolution reveals how to put Jeanette’s simple ideas into practice. Also included are her tips, after years of experience, on getting even the fussiest children interested and excited by food, both at school and at home; guidance for busy parents on how to make life in the kitchen easier; notes on nutrition, organics and the hidden dangers of processed food; and how to make mealtimes a truly enjoyable experience.

Reuben’s Deli Wraps

– from The Dinner Lady published by Bantam Press at £16.99
Serves 4

450g (1lb) chicken breast
olive oil
225g (8oz) iceberg lettuce
225g (8oz) white cabbage
225g (8oz) carrots
115g (4oz) Cheddar cheese
115g (4oz) mayonnaise
25g (1oz) tomato ketchup
4-8 tortilla wraps

Preheat the oven to 120C/250F/gas ½

Cut the chicken meat into fine slices and stir-fry in a little oil in a heavy-based pan until thoroughly coated. (If making a larger quantity, bake the chicken strips in the oven preheated to 200C/400F/gas 6 for 5-10 minutes until thoroughly cooked.)
Finely shred the lettuce and cabbage, and grate the carrots and cheese. Mix together the grated vegetables and cheese. Mix together the mayonnaise and tomato ketchup to make a sauce.
Brush the tortilla wraps with a little oil and put in the low preheated oven for 2 minutes to warm through.
Spoon a little of the sauce over the wraps, lay a slice or two of the chicken strips along the wrap and put a spoonful of the vegetable and cheese mix on top. Wrap up and serve.

Real Chicken Nuggets

This is one of the simplest recipes in the book. Get the children to help you make them – they love tossing the chicken in a bag of breadcrumbs. Serve with some home-made tomato sauce or relish.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) bread (brown or white)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 egg
125ml (4fl.oz) milk
900g (2lb) diced chicken

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

Slice the bread, then toast it until light brown. Break up into pieces, crusts and all, and reduce to fine crumbs in the food processor. Add the garlic powder and paprika, and whiz again. Place the breadcrumbs in a large plastic freezer bag or deep tray.
Beat the egg in a large bowl with the milk, and add the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary. Transfer the chicken pieces to the bag or tray of breadcrumbs and toss to coat evenly.
Arrange the crumbed chicken on a lightly greased baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes until browned and crisp, and cooked through.

Cheesy Yorkshire Puddings

Jeanette says ‘When I make these, I always leave the batter mixture to rest for about 20 minutes. Then, just before I put the liquid into the tin, I give the batter one last whisk. The puddings always seem to rise better this way – try it! Serve with some good local sausages, mashed potato and seasonal vegetables.
Makes about 24 small puddings
Serves 4 

225g (8oz) plain flour
a pinch of ground pepper
2 eggs
600ml (1 pint) milk
115g (4oz) cheddar cheese
olive oil

Sift the flour and pepper together into a bowl. Add the eggs and half the milk, and beat well until smooth. Beat in the remaining milk. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven well to 220C/425F/gas 7. Grate the cheese.
Grease patty or Yorkshire pudding tins with olive oil and put into the hot oven for 5 minutes. Take out of the oven and divide the batter mix between the tins. Quickly add a little cheese to each Yorkshire, and bake in the very hot oven until well risen and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Tuna Pasta Bake

This is a firm favourite with the children and teaching staff alike and is so easy to make.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) spring onions
olive oil
2 x 185g cans tuna in brine
225g (8oz) frozen peas
450g (1lb) dried pasta

Cheese Sauce
115g (4oz) cheddar cheese
25g (1oz) butter
25g (1oz) plain flour
600ml (1 pint) milk
a pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3

Cut the green of the spring onions into 5mm(¼in) lengths, and finely slice the remaining white onion. Stir-fry the spring onions for 1-2 minutes in a little oil.
Drain the tuna well, and flake into a bowl. Grate the cheese for the sauce.
Cook the peas in boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.
To make the sauce, melt the butter, add the flour and cook until sandy in colour and texture. Add the milk, whisking all the time, and when it is smooth and has thickened, add the cheese, keeping a little back for the topping. Stir in the cayenne.
Mix the pasta, peas, spring onion, tuna and cheese sauce in a deep dish, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and bake in the preheated oven until golden on top, about 25 minutes.

Cowboy Casserole

This is very easy and children love it. If you buy good quality sausages and bacon, less fat will come out of them. If you do see some fat, drain it off before adding the beans. Use low sugar and salt baked beans for this recipe, and serve with a jacket potato.
Serves 4

16 thin sausages
225g (8oz) diced lean bacon
2 x 400g cans baked beans

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

Cut the sausages into small pieces. Put these into a deep tin with the bacon, and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until just golden brown.
Add the beans to the sausage and bacon, cover with tin foil or a lid, and cook for a further 25-30 minutes. Serve hot.

Sneaky Pie

Jeanette calls this pie ‘sneaky’ because of the veg it has in it. They are ‘hidden’ in the baked beans. Use low sugar and salt baked beans.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) plain flour
a pinch of cayenne pepper
55g (2oz) butter or margarine
55g (2oz) vegetable shortening
25ml (1oz) water

Filling and topping

900g (2lb) potatoes
50ml (2fl.oz) warm milk
25g (1oz) butter or margarine
1 small onion
1 carrot
1 courgette
½ red pepper
½ green pepper
olive oil
1x 400g can baked beans
115g (4oz) cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas 3.

For the pastry, sift the flour and cayenne pepper into a bowl. Cut the margarine and vegetable shortening into cubes, add to the flour and rub in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and mix with a knife until you have a dough. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill, before rolling it out and using it to line a 20-23cm (8-9in) flan tin. Neaten the edges and bake blind (lined with foil and baking beans or dried beans) in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove, and turn the oven tup to 200C/400F/gas 6.
Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with the warm milk until very smooth, then add the butter or margarine.
Peel the onion and carrot. Trim the courgette and seed the peppers. Dice all the vegetables into small pieces, and sweat to soften in a little olive oil.
Pour the baked beans into the flan case then layer the vegetables over them. Finally smooth the potato on the top. You can sprinkle a little grated cheese over the flan if liked. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes.

St. Peter’s Mud Pie

This is a dessert that’s fun to make with kids.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) digestive biscuits
55g (2oz) glace cherries
175g (6oz) butter
1 tablespoon drinking chocolate
115g (4oz) castor sugar
115g (4oz) mixed dried fruit
115g (4oz) milk chocolate

Break the biscuits into smallish pieces. Wash the glace cherries of their sticky coating, dry them and chop into smallish pieces.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the drinking chocolate and the sugar to the pan and mix together, then add the dried fruit, broken biscuits and chopped glacé cherries. Mix until all the ingredients are combined.
Line a 20-23cm (8-9in) round flan tin with foil, and pour in the mixture. Press down with the back of a spoon and place in the fridge for about 2 hours.
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt over an indirect heat (in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water). Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the chilled mixture, and spread, using a palette knife. Chill until set. Cut into pieces.

Jam Roly-Poly

This is a firm favourite in the winter term, served with fresh custard made with local milk.
Serves 4

350g (12oz) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g (6oz) butter or margarine
200ml (7fl.oz) milk
350g (12oz) raspberry jam

If baking, rather than steaming, preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5

Sift the flour and baking powder together, then coarsely grate the butter or margarine into the flour. (This can be done easily if the fat has been kept in the freezer). Mix to a soft dough with the milk.
Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 30x20cm (12x8in). Lift onto a baking sheet covered with greaseproof paper. Spread the dough with jam, leaving a border of 1cm (½ in) all round. Brush this border with water, and fold over a little dough at either end to seal the jam inside. Roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, using the greaseproof paper. Wrap in loose foil and seal with string at each end.

Bake in a roasting tray in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
Foolproof Food

Jane’s Coleslaw

Jane makes this every day for the children and they love it. It can also be made up to a day in advance and kept in the fridge.
250g (9oz) red cabbage
175g (6oz) carrots
2 tomatoes
½ cucumber
110g (4oz) dried apricots
1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Finely shred the red cabbage and put into a large bowl. Peel and grate the carrots, and add to the bowl.
Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds, then chop the flesh roughly. Split the cucumber lengthways and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Cut into long strips then cut across to make fine dice. Chop the apricots into dice.
Add the tomato, cucumber and apricot to the cabbage and carrot with the mayonnaise, and mix well.

Hot Tips 

Vegetable Seed Saving – Sunday 4th September at Madeline McKeever’s, Ardagh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, West Cork.
Help preserve our heritage varieties by saving your own seeds. You’ll learn about the biology of pollination and how to separate, dry and store your own seed. You’ll also be developing West Cork’s unique local food.
Contact Madeline on 028-38184  

New Farmers Market in Youghal on Friday mornings from 10.00am in Barry’s Lane

Irish Blueberries now in season – feast on them while you can.


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