ArchiveNovember 2005

Soup Kitchen by Tommi Miers and Annabel Buckingham

We’re very proud of so many of our past students - they pop up here and there, doing all sorts of interesting things. Many cook in restaurants, others open their own businesses . Some have opened their own cookery schools, food shops and cafes or restaurants.

Others travel and cook, sometimes in the most bizarre locations.

Several are food writers, some like Clodagh McKenna do radio, others like Rachel Allen are doing television series and have written cookbooks.

Yesterday, I got a present through the post of a gorgeous new cookbook , co-written by another former student, Tommi Miers who already had us bursting with pride earlier this year when she won Masterchef. 

Since then Tommi’s career is going into orbit, she is a rapidly rising star, constantly in demand to make guest appearances on TV, radio shows, openings and regular articles in all the trendy food magazines. In the midst of it all, Tommi has a strongly developed social conscience.

She and her co-author Annabel Buckingham met Noel Hennessy and chatted about doing a book to raise money for the homeless charities in London, neither had any experience of the publishing world and no funding for the project. They decided on Soup.

Undeterred by obstacles, (Annabel couldn’t cook and Tommi knew nothing about design, they got on the phone to talk to chefs about soup.

Friends rallied round to make encouraging noises and share invaluable pearls of wisdom. They advised them on everything from book clubs to corporate sponsorship and copyright law and never laughed at what Tommi describes as ‘their staggering ignorance’(as they toasted their first publishing offer, they suddenly realized that they weren’t totally sure what a royalty was.) Their parents lovingly refrained from telling them to get normal jobs. Outstanding professionals including a photographer, graphic designer, law firm, literary agent, accountancy firm and website design company offered to work with them and represent them for free. 

It was a trip. They found themselves in some amazing situations – from slick publishing houses and star-studded launches to incredible soup kitchens and blooming allotments. They’ve donned suits at Book Fairs, worn blue hairnets and white coats at the Maldon salt vats and spent many hours brainstorming over a latte at Carluccios.

Few foods rival the feel-good factor of soup – whether spooned from a bowl, sipped from a cup or slurped straight from the pot. From the thick tomato soup of childhood memory to a spicy, restorative broth on a chilly evening or a cooling gazpacho, soup and well-being go hand in hand.

The eventual collection brings together 100 soup recipes from today’s top chefs and food writers. From Delia Smith’s Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup to Jamie Oliver’s Chickpea Leek and Parmesan Soup, there are soups for every meal and every mood. As every culture embraces soup of some description, the book includes as well as the homely winter veg recipes, Ken Hom’s summery Tomato and Ginger Soup, Sam Clarke’s Chorizo and Chestnut Soup and Donna Hay’s Prawn, Lemongrass and Coconut Soup.

Soup is the ultimate seasonal food, welcoming with open arms whatever ingredients are cheap, abundant and in their prime at that time of year. The book is organized seasonally so that ingredients are easy to find and at their full-flavoured best.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall who launched the book at a celebrity bash in London, says soup is ‘always among the most generous and friendly of dishes’. Created in the same spirit of generosity and enjoyment, Soup Kitchen brings together the finest chefs and food writers working today with their favourite soup recipes.

Over half the chefs took the time to create an original recipe for the book.

70% of all proceeds raised from Soup Kitchen and related promotions will be donated to homeless charities in the UK, including the Salvation Army and Centrepoint.

Soup Kitchen published by Collins –  with an Introduction by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, edited by Annabel Buckingham and Thomasina Miers, winner of Masterchef.
Order Soup Kitchen by Annabel Buckingham and Thomasina Miers from Amazon

Tortilla Soup

Serves 4
1.2 litres chicken stock
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 x 400g can tomatoes or 4-6 fresh tomatoes, skinned and seeded
6 corn tortillas
5 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1-2 dried ancho chilli, stem and seeds removed (see note below)
200g buffalo mozzarella or barrel-aged feta, diced in ½cm pieces
1 large ripe avocado, diced as with the cheese
1 large lime, cut into wedges

Put the onion and garlic in a large, heavy frying pan on a fairly hot flame, and dry toast for 5-6 minutes until they start to take on a golden colour, stirring regularly. Put them in a food processor or blender with the tomatoes and whiz to a puree. Put the puree in a saucepan on a medium-high heat and reduce to a thick, tomato puree. Add the stock and simmer for 25 minutes. Season to taste, bearing in mind that feta is saltier than mozzarella. (This can be done the day before.)

Put the chilli in a dry frying pan and toast for 30 seconds – bee careful not to burn it or the chilli will taste bitter. Tear into strips.

Cut the tortillas in half and then cut each half into 2cm long strips. Heat the oil in a saucepan until shimmering (test with a tortilla strip to see if it sizzles which means the oil is hot enough.) Add half the strips and fry, stirring constantly until the pieces are golden brown and crispy. Take out and dry on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining strips, you can re-use the oil for another recipe.

When you are ready to eat divide the tortilla strips between 4 bowls. Add the tomato broth. On the table arrange the cheese, avocado and lime wedges so that each person can add liberally to their soup, squeezing on the lime juice. You may also like to chop some flat leaf parsley or coriander to garnish (the Mexicans use a herb called epazote if you can find it.)


If you can’t get hold of ancho chillies, add a little smoked paprika to your broth and a little fresh chilli or even some strips of sun-dried tomato for a slightly different twist.

Spiced Roasted Parsnip Soup

From Camilla Schneiderman, Divertimenti, Marleybone, London
Serves 4

4 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1 medium or 2 small onions, cut roughly into 8 pieces
4 medium tomatoes, cut roughly into 8 pieces
3 garlic cloves
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp powdered turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
750ml vegetable or chicken stock
juice of ½ lemon
a handful of roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4

Place all the vegetables, including the garlic, in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, spices and seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Place all the vegetables, including the garlic, in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, spices and seasoning and mix thoroughly.

Transfer to a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown.

When cooked, place the roasted vegetables in the bowl of a food processor and blend thoroughly, adding hot stock through the spout until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve the soup piping hot with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.


From Terence Conran – Restaurateur
Borscht, one of Russia’s better known culinary exports, is the classic beetroot soup. Served hot in winter, it is equally good chilled as a summer soup.
Serves 4-6

50g butter
250g raw beetroot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1.5 litres Beef Stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon

To garnish:

Soured cream
A handful of chopped chives 

Melt the butter in a large pan, over a gentle heat and slowly sweat the beetroot, onion, carrot and garlic, turning the vegetables (which will become a lurid pink) over in the butter.

Add the sugar and stock to the pan, season with a few grinds of pepper, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Using a blender, whiz the soup until it is entirely smooth, then add the lemon juice and salt to taste.

A swirl of soured cream and a scattering of chopped chives is the traditional garnish – delicious, and adding another dimension to the fabulous beetroot colour.

Bacon, Chestnut and Potato Soup with Rosemary

From Rowley Leigh, Kensington Place, Notting Hill, London
Serves 4

750g chestnuts
50g butter
250g bacon, cut into small cubes
1 onion
3 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper to taste
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 litre chicken stock
300g peeled potato
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7. With a small sharp knife, cut a small incision in each chestnut and place them in an oven tray. Roast the chestnuts for 20 minutes or until the skins burst. Allow to cool before peeling, removing the inner skin at the same time.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the bacon, cooking it over a medium heat so that it slowly browns and renders its fat. Chop the onion, celery and garlic into small dice and add to the bacon, letting them stew gently together for 15 minutes.

Season well with pepper – no salt for the moment – then add the herbs and the stock and bring gently to the boil.

Chop the potato into neat small dice and add to the soup. Chop the chestnuts quite small also and simmer them all together in the pot for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as required and serve, again with a spoonful of good extra virgin olive oil poured on top if desired.

Classic Fish Soup with Rouille and Croûtons 
This recipe comes from Rick Stein of the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow in Cornwall
Serves 4

900g fish (such as gurnard, conger eel, dogfish, pouting, cod and grey mullet)
1.2 litres water
75ml olive oil
75g each roughly chopped onion, celery, leek and fennel
3 garlic cloves, sliced
juice of ½ orange, plus 1 piece pared orange zest
1 x 200g can chopped tomatoes
1 small red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
a pinch of saffron
100g unpeeled North Atlantic prawns
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1 mini French baguette
1 garlic cove, peeled
olive oil for frying
25g Parmesan, finely grated
2 tbsp. Rouille (can be found in jars)

Fillet the fish and use the bones with the water (and extra flavourings if you like) to make the fish stock.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the chopped vegetables and garlic and cook gently for 20 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the orange zest, tomatoes, red pepper, bay leaf, thyme, saffron, prawns and fish fillets. Cook briskly for 2-3 minutes, then add the stock and orange juice, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the croutons, thinly slice the mini baguette and rub with garlic, and fry in the olive until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Liquidise the soup, then pass it through a conical sieve, pressing out as much liquid as you can with the back of a ladle.

Return the soup to the heat and season to taste with the cayenne, salt and pepper.

To serve, ladle the soup into a warmed tureen and put the croutons, Parmesan and rouille into separate dishes. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and leave each person to spread some rouille on to the croutons, float them on their soup and sprinkle it with some of the cheese.

Sweetcorn and Smoked Bacon Soup

From Tom Aikens, Chelsea, London
Serves 4-6

50g unsalted butter
500g fresh sweetcorn kernels, cut from the cob
80g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
15g caster sugar
4g sea salt
4g fresh thyme
1.2 litres chicken stock
150ml double cream

Warm a pan on a low heat and melt the butter. Add the sweetcorn kernels, bacon, sugar, salt and thyme, and cook slowly on a low heat with the lid on the pan for 5 minutes. Stir now and again so the mix does not colour but sweats in the steam.

Add the stock and cream, then turn the heat up, bring to a slow boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard the thyme. Blend the soup to a fine puree.
Reheat and serve.

Foolproof Food

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

This recipe is from Jill Dupleix – Cookery Editor, The Times
Serves 4

1kg orange-fleshed sweet potato
1.2 litres of boiling water or stock
Salt and pepper to taste
400g canned white beans
1 tsp good curry powder or more
2 tbsp fresh parsley or coriander leaves

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into small cubes. Put in a pan, add the boiling water or stock, salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft.

Drain the beans and rinse. Add half the beans and the curry powder to the soup, stirring well, then whiz in a food processor in batches, being careful not to overflow the bowl.

Return to the pan, add the remaining whole beans, and gently heat. If too thick, add extra boiling water.

Taste for salt, pepper and curry powder, and scatter with parsley or coriander.

Hot Tips

Take action on Trade to help Make Poverty History –
See how you can help Trocaire Campaigns by contacting Lara Kelly on  Tel 01-629 3333 or go to , Policy and Advocacy Unit.

Looking for an old or out of print cookbook – contact Cooking the Books for their catalogue –  Tel/fas:0044 1633 400150 or write to Cooking the Books, The Glen, St. Brides Netherwent, Caldicot, NP26 3AT, UK.

Garden Allotments to rent
Would you like to enjoy your own freshly grown produce? Grow beautiful fruit and vegetables on your own plot in a peaceful rural setting, just 5 minutes from Garryvoe Beach. Various plot sizes available and advice from Carewswood Garden Centre, Castlemartyr. For further details call 086-3003810

Cobh Waterside Farmers Market now one year in business - meeets every Friday morning - New location for winter months is Keen House yard – more sheltered than the promenade for the winter and room to facilitate all the traders, including some new stalls.

Rudd’s are back in business –
Rudd’s Fine Foods is back in business under the new ownership of Bill O’Brien of the Brady Family Ham company and new jobs are being created at the production facilities in Birr, Co Offaly, making a new range of dry-cure thick cut rashers, pork sausages and black and white puddings.

Easy Entertaining by Darina Allen

A sneak preview today of my new book which is just about to hit the shops this week – this one called Easy Entertaining is for the growing number of people who love to have a few friends around for brunch, lunch, coffee, afternoon tea, supper, a nibble around the fire or even a formal dinner party. The latter is by far the most stressful way of entertaining but can of course appear virtually effortless if one puts a little bit of time into a ‘plan of campaign’. 

Ever since my first television series, my mantra has always been, keep it simple, really, really simple. It doesn’t have to be a four course meal. 

I so love the effortless way so many of the young people I know entertain – for them its no big deal to have a few friends around, they just love to cook together. My children and their friends don’t worry about having mismatched cutlery and crockery, the chairs are often a motley collection picked up from junk shops, the table covered with anything from calico to a flowery print, oil cloth to tissue paper. The look is always stylish and fun, much use is made of coloured lights, candles and sparklers. “How about an omelette and a glass of wine, a ‘spontaneous’ pasta or a sushi party where everyone rolls their own. Let’s all cook together.”

The exciting thing is that nowadays everyone is entertaining, the smoking ban certainly added impetus. Those who wanted to be able to smoke chose to buy a few bottles and have a few friends around for a take away or a simple supper, rather than shiver outside in the cold while they got their fix. They discovered how easy it can be but its even more fun to cook together or have an interactive dinner party. 

In easy entertaining I have included suggestions for an omelette party, fajitas, tacos, pancakes, sushi…

Get everyone involved, even those who consider they can’t boil water and as they say ‘the crack is mighty’!

Picnics, in any season are another super way to entertain – at this time of the year hot soup in flasks, a stew in a haybox, steaming hot chocolate or something stronger, make for a terrific experience. Could be after a walk in the woods or a point-to-point.

There are lots of little tricks to make it easier for everyone concerned.

In Easy Entertaining, I have included suggestions for everything from tapas to three-course dinners and from canapés to casseroles in this bible of entertaining. I include chapters on Brunch, Prepare-ahead Meals, Picnics, Romantic Dinners, Finger Food, Formal Dinners, Festive Meals and many more as well as providing extensive menu planners and practical advice on wine and other drinks to complement your food. Style tips and ideas for table settings, flowers, lighting and even party games will hopefully ensure your soirée looks as sensational as it tastes. There are also options for vegetarian and vegan guests throughout the book and masses of tips for quick and easy meals.

Have fun!

Easy Entertaining by Darina Allen – published by Kyle Cathie, €25
Buy "Easy Entertaining" By Darina Allen from Amazon

Bacon and Cabbage Soup

Bacon and cabbage is a quintessential Irish meal, a favourite flavour combination. Cabbage soup is also delicious on its own. Spinach or watercress, chard, kale or even nettles can be substituted for cabbage.
Serves 6 

55g (2 oz) butter
140g (5 oz) peeled and chopped potatoes, one third inch dice
100g (4 oz) peeled diced onions, 1/3 inch dice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1.1L (2 pints) light chicken stock or vegetable stock
255g (9oz) chopped Savoy cabbage leaves (stalks removed)
50-100ml (2-4 fl oz) cream or creamy milk
225g (½ lb) boiled streaky bacon
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions, and turn them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and boil until the potatoes are soft, then add the cabbage and cook with the lid off until the cabbage is cooked. Keep the lid off to preserve the green colour. Add the creamy milk. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose both the fresh flavour and colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser or blender, taste and adjust seasoning. 

Just before serving cut the bacon into lardons. Toss quickly in a very little oil in a frying pan to heat through and get a little crispy. Add to the soup. Sprinkle with some parsley.

Tip: If this soup is to be reheated, just bring it to the boil and serve. Prolonged boiling spoils the colour and flavour of green soups.


Cabbage and Caraway Soup

Add 1 –2 teaspoons of freshly crushed caraway seeds to the potato and onion base.
Shermin’s Lamajun (Lamaçun – Turkish Lamb Pizza)
Given to me by Shermin Mustafa whose food I love. This is a little gem of a recipe, fantastic for an informal kitchen party or for a family supper.
Makes about 8-10

275g (10oz) plain white flour
225ml (8fl oz) natural yoghurt

For the topping

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
225g (8oz) freshly minced lamb
4 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
Wedges of lemon,
Lots of sprigs of flat leaf parsley

Heavy iron frying pan

Sweat the onion in a little butter or oil and allow to cool completely. Mix all the ingredients for the topping together and season well with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour with the yoghurt to form a soft dough. Heat a heavy iron frying pan and preheat the grill. Take about 50g (2oz) of the dough, roll until it’s as thin as possible using lots of flour. Spread a few dessertspoons of the mince mixture on the base with the back of a tablespoon, as thinly as possible. Fold in half, then in quarters, slide your hand underneath, then transfer to the pan and open out gently. Put onto the hot pan (no oil needed) and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Remove from the pan and slide on a hot baking sheet under the hot grill and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until the meat is cooked.

Serve on a hot plate with 3 or 4 lemon wedges and whole sprigs of flat leaf parsley for each helping.

To eat
Squeeze lots of lemon juice over the surface of the lamajun. Pluck about 4 or 5 leaves of parsley and sprinkle over the top. Either eat flat like a pizza or roll up like a tortilla.

Pork with Rosemary and Tomatoes

Serves 6
900g (2lb) of trimmed pork fillet, chicken breast may also be used
450g (1lb) very ripe firm tomatoes - peeled and sliced into 2 inch (1cm) slices
2 shallots finely chopped
30g (1 1/4oz) butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
225ml (8fl oz) cream
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
Fresh rosemary sprigs

Cut the trimmed fillet of pork into slices about 2cm (3/4inch) thick. 

Melt 25g (1oz) butter in a saucepan, when it foams add the finely chopped shallots, cover with a butter wrapper and sweat gently for 5 minutes. Remove the butter wrapper, increase the heat slightly, add the tomatoes in a single layer, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. After 2 minutes turn the tomatoes and season on the other side. Then add the cream and rosemary. Allow to simmer gently for 5 minutes. Check seasoning. The sauce may now be prepared ahead to this point and reheated later.

The sauce should not be too thick - just a light coating consistency.

To cook the pork – Melt 5g (1/4oz) butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan over a high heat, when it is quite hot, add the seasoned pork in a single layer. Allow them to turn a rich golden brown before turning over. Turn down the temperature and finish cooking on the other side. It should feel slightly firm to the touch. Be careful not to overcook the pork or it will be dry and tasteless. 

Reheat the sauce gently while the pork is cooking, correct the seasoning, spoon some of the sauce onto one large serving dish or divide between individual plates. Arrange the pork slices on top of the sauce, garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and serve immediately with Orzo or rice to mop up the herby sauce.

Orzo with Fresh Herbs

Orzo looks like fat grains of rice but is in fact made from semolina. It is sometimes sold under the name of 'Misko'.
Serves 4

200g (7 oz) orzo
2.3 L (4 pints) water
11/2 teaspoons salt
15-30g (1/2 - 1oz ) butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)

Bring the water to a fast rolling boil and add the salt. Sprinkle in the orzo, cook for 8-10 minutes* or until just cooked. Drain, rinse under hot water, toss with a little butter. Season with freshly ground pepper and garnish with some chopped parsley.

*Time depends on the type of Orzo.

Orzo with peas
275g (10oz) of Orzo and 200g (7oz) peas

Ardsallagh Goat Cheese Salad with Rocket, Figs and Pomegranates
Serves 8

1 fresh pomegranate
4 small fresh Ardsallagh cheese or a similar fresh goat cheese
8-12 fresh figs or 
8-12 plump dried figs

Enough rocket leaves for eight helpings and perhaps a few leaves of raddichio
32 fresh walnut halves


4 fl.ozs (125ml/ ½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
3 tablesp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teasp. honey
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the pomegranate in half around the equator, break each side open, flick out the glistening jewel-like seeds into a bowl, avoiding the bitter yellowy pith.

Next make the dressing – just whisk the oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey together in a bowl. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Toast the walnut halves in a dry pan over a medium heat until they smell sweet and nutty. 

Just before serving, toss the rocket leaves in a deep bowl with a little dressing. Divide between eight large white plates. Cut each cheese into 3 pieces. 

Cut the figs into quarters from the top, keeping each one still attached at the base. Press gently to open out. Divide the cheese between the plates, three pieces on each, place a fig in the centre. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and freshly roasted walnuts. Drizzle with a little extra dressing and serve immediately with crusty bread.

Note: plump dried figs are best cut into slices and scattered over the salad.

Adorable Baby Banoffees

Have a few tins of toffee ready in your larder – then this yummy pud is made in minutes.
Makes 8-12

1 x 400g (14oz) can condensed milk
8-12 Gold grain biscuits
3 bananas
Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
225ml (8fl oz) whipped cream
Chocolate curls made from about 175g (6oz) chocolate
Toasted flaked almonds
8-12 individual glasses or bowls

To make the toffee, put the can of condensed milk into a saucepan and cover with hot water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for three hours. By which time the condensed milk will have turned into a thick unctuous toffee.

Break a biscuit into each glass or bowl. Peel and slice the bananas and toss in the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Top with a little toffee. Put a blob of softly whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and decorate with a few chocolate curls.

Foolproof Food

Melted Cooleeney Cheese in a box
A slightly under ripe Cooleeney Brie or Camembert or any farmhouse cheese in a timber box
Serves 6-8

Crusty white bread or home made potato crisps

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

Remove the labels from the box and the wrapper from the cheese. Replace the cheese in the box and pop into the preheated oven for about 20 minutes by which time it should be soft and molten in the centre.

Cut a cross in the centre and serve immediately with crusty white bread croutes or potato crisps. 

Note: check that the box is stapled otherwise it may fall apart in the oven.

Potato Crisps

2 very large potatoes
Scrub the potatoes and slice the potatoes as thinly as possible to attain long thin slices preferably with a mandolin. Deep fry them to attain crisps. These can be made ahead and kept in a warm place. You will need 3-4 crisps per portion.

Hot Tips

Irish Poultry Club National Show at Gurteen Agricultural College near Birr – today 19th November – open to the public from 1pm – after judging – well worth a visit.

Today is also the 3rd anniversary of the Farmers Market at the Nano Nagle Centre near Kilavullen – why not pay a visit.

La Violette in Skibbereen – is full of irresistibly tempting bits to liven up your kitchen and add sparkle and glitz to your dining table.

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group – Thursday 24th November, 7.30pm at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place, Cork - The Story of Cork’s English Market - Diarmuid O’Drisceoil, co-author with his brother Donal of ‘Serving a City’ will speak on the fascinating history of the food in this great exporting city and its hinterland. Admission €12, including wine and some market specialities.

Weekend Wine Course with Mary Dowey at Ballymaloe House 3-5 March 2006.
An entertaining and educational weekend, full of good wines and good food in one of Ireland’s loveliest country houses, hosted by well-known Irish wine writer and lecturer , Mary Dowey (see ) Weekend packages available – ideal gift for the wine lover. Tel 021-4652531,  or book on line

Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends

‘Staying in is the new going out’ – whether it’s a gossipy night in, afternoon tea or a spicy curry night, its fun and cool to cook. Rachel Allen’s new series Favourite Food for Friends is now showing on RTE. Since her first series last year she has built up a fan club of all ages, from toddlers to granddads. Her easy style and terrific dress sense have won her viewers who wouldn’t normally be seen dead watching a cookery programme.

This time she’s got masses of new ideas – Want to have a romantic dinner for two? Need to impress your mother-in-law or your boss? It’s your turn to host the family Christmas dinner? Asked friends around for a barbecue and its going to rain? It’s midweek, you’ve been working all day, but you’ve got people coming to dinner?

Rachel has lots of easy tasty recipes to munch on while you gossip. She also includes some great cocktails – including the naughtily named fruity Flirtini, Grenadine Goddess or a delicious Rosé cocktail. 

Rachel’s many fans will be delighted with her plethora of new recipes which emphasise her simple stress-free outlook on cooking and entertaining.

Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends by Rachel Allen, 
published by Gill & Macmillan, €19.99

Buy "Rachel's Favourite Food for Friends" By Rachel Allen from Amazon

Steamed Mussels with Basil Cream

This recipe is inspired by a dish I adore eating at the fabulous Fishy Fishy Café in Kinsale.
Serves 6

2-5kg (4½ -11 lb) mussels (about 100 mussels)
150ml (5¼ fl oz) cream
50ml (1¾ fl oz/3 very generous tablesp.) basil pesto

Scrub the mussels very well and discard any that are not open and do not close when tapped. Place the cream and the pesto in a large saucepan on the heat and bring to the boil. Add the mussels, cover with a lid and place on a medium heat. Cook the mussels in the pesto cream for about 5-8 minutes, or until all the mussels are completely open. Pour, with all the lovely creamy juice, into a big bowl, or 6 individual bowls, and serve. Place another bowl on the table for empty shells, and some finger bowls and plenty of napkins! Serve with some crusty white bread on the side.

Note: Pull out and discard any mussels that do not open during cooking.

Potato Soup with Dill and Smoked Salmon

This is a basic potato and onion soup with the addition of dill and smoked salmon, so if you want to try changing it, just leave out the smoked salmon and change the herb to marjoram, tarragon, sage, chives or rosemary for example. This is so easy for a dinner party – the soup can be made earlier in the day, or even the day before, and just heated up to serve, then sprinkled with the smoked salmon, which just about cooks in the heat of the soup as it goes to the table – divine!
Serves 6

50g (2oz) butter
400g (14oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped
100g (3½ oz) onions, chopped
a good pinch of salt, and pepper
800ml (1½ pt) chicken or vegetable stock
125ml (4½ fl oz) creamy milk (half milk, half cream, or just all milk if you prefer)
2 tbsp chopped dill
100g (3½ oz) sliced smoked salmon, cut into little slices, about 2cm x ½ cm (¾ x ¼in)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, and stir. Cover with a lid, sweat on a low heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often, so that the potatoes don’t stick and burn. Turn up the heat and add the stock, and boil for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are completely soft. Pureé the soup in a liquidiser, or with a hand whizzer, and add the creamy milk. Thin with more stock, or milk if you like. Season to taste, and set aside. When you are ready to eat, heat up the soup, add the chopped dill, and ladle into bowls, then sprinkle with the little slices of smoked salmon, and serve.

Beef with Lemongrass and Chilli

Serves 8
2 tsp chopped ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
½ - 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 clove of chopped garlic
1 tablesp toasted sesame oil
1 tablesp lime juice
2 tablesp Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 kg (2¼ lb) lean sirloin of beef, fat trimmed off and sliced about ½ cm (¼ in) thick
2 tablesp coriander leaves, scattered on at end

In a food processor, whiz up the ginger, lemongrass, chilli and garlic until you have a rough paste. Then add the sesame oil, lime juice and fish sauce. (If you don’t have a food processor, just chop everything finely.) Place the beef in a dish and add the paste. Stir it around to make sure that all the beef is coated. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour if possible. This will improve the flavour and allow the meat to tenderise. Cook the slices of meat on a hot barbecue or on a hot grill for about 3 minutes on each side. Scatter the coriander leaves on top and serve with Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Note: You probably won’t need to add any salt to this as the fish sauce can be salty.

Note: To prepare the lemongrass, remove and discard the tough outer leaves and the base of the stalk, and chop the rest. You can put the tough outer leaves into a teapot with the trimmings from the ginger and top up with boiling water to make a lovely nourishing tea –let it stand for 3 minutes first.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

This could not be faster to make – slightly cheating with the peanut butter, but it works for me.
Makes 250ml

3 rounded tablesp peanut butter
½ deseeded chopped red chilli
2 cloves of crushed or grated garlic
2 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 rounded tablesp honey
2 tablesp soy sauce
1 tablesp lemon juice
4 tablesp (50ml/1¾ fl oz) water

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth.

Note: This will keep perfectly in the fridge for 4-5 days.


This cocktail is fab – the name even does it for me! You will definitely be flirting after one of these.
Serves 2

6 strawberries or 12 raspberries
25ml (1 fl oz) Cointreau
50ml (1¾ fl oz) vodka
juice of ½ lime
50ml (1¾ fl oz) pineapple juice, chilled
125ml (4¼ fl oz) sparkling wine or champagne, chilled

To serve:

A strawberry or raspberry for garnish
Mash the strawberries or raspberries or put into two champagne or martini glasses. Mix the Cointreau, vodka, lime juice and pineapple juice. Add to the glass and top up with the sparkling wine.

Grenadine Goddess

Serves 2, if in a highball glass, or 4 in a martini glass
A great non-alcoholic cocktail that looks so pretty too

50ml (2 fl oz) grenadine (a sweet syrup made mainly from pomegranates)
25ml (1 fl oz) lime juice (the juice of about ½ lime)
250ml (8¾ fl oz) slightly crushed ice (bashed up in a bag with a rolling pin)
350ml (12¼ fl oz) soda water, or sparkling water
2 lime wedges, to decorate

Mix the grenadine and lime juice, and divide into glasses. Add the ice, top with soda water, and stir. Place a wedge of lime on the side of each glass and serve.

Note: To make this cocktail with alcohol, add 25-50ml (1-2 fl.oz) vodka to each glass.

Banana and Maple Toffee Cake

This is seriously sweet and divine, fabulous comfort food. It is very quick to make and looks so impressive. You may want to have a dollop of whipped cream on the side!
1 x 24 cm (9¾ in) frying pan, non-stick or not

for the toffee:

50g (2oz) butter
25g (1oz) brown sugar
50ml (1¾ fl oz) maple syrup
1 tablesp lemon juice
3 bananas, peeled

for the cake mix:

100g (3½ oz) butter, softened
50ml (1¾ fl oz) maple syrup
100g (3½ oz) brown sugar
1 banana, mashed
3 eggs, beaten
175g (6oz) self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. To make the toffee, place a 25cm (9¾ in) frying pan on a medium heat, with the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup. Cook, stirring every now and then for 4 minutes, until the toffee has thickened a little. Set aside and sprinkle with lemon juice. To make the cake, cream the butter, add the maple syrup and brown sugar, still beating. Add the mashed banana and eggs, bit by bit, then stir in the flour. Or you can just throw everything into the food processor and whiz briefly until it comes together. Slice the bananas in half horizontally, then in half widthways, and arrange in the pan in a fan shape. Spread the cake mixture over the bananas and place the pan in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until the cake feels set in the centre. Take it out when cooked, and let it set for just 5 minutes. Slide a knife around the sides of the pan and turn the cake out onto a plate (it must still be warm to turn out). 

Note: I find sometimes that when I turn this out, quite a bit of toffee remains in the pan. If this happens, place it on the heat, add 1 tablesp water and whisk until it all dissolves, then pour it over the bananas.

Little Pots of Passion

This is a mango and passion fruit fool basically, except that the title wouldn’t exactly evoke many romantic thoughts! This recipe would be great for a summer dinner party too.
Serves 2

½ mango, peeled and chopped
1 passion fruit, halved and scooped
up to 1 tablesp lime or lemon juice
up to 1 tablesp. caster sugar
75ml (3 fl oz) cream

Puree the mango and passion fruit (including the seeds) with the lime or lemon juice and sugar. Use a food processor for this (if you use a liquidiser, you will need to add the passion fruit after, as it breaks up the seeds). Place in the fridge while you whip the cream softly. Then fold the mango and passion fruit purée in gently, leaving it a little marbled. Leave in the fridge until you want to serve it. This is also delicious with little shortbread biscuits.

Foolproof Food

Apple Pudding

This is wonderful comfort food – great with a little whipped cream or some vanilla ice cream on the side. I like to serve this slightly warm, so warm it up if it has not just come out of the oven.
Serves 6-8

450g (1lb) cooking apples, peeled, core removed, and chopped roughly, weighed afterwards
125g (4½ oz) sugar
1 tablesp water
125g (4½ oz) soft butter
125g (4½ oz) caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp vanilla extract
125g (4½ oz) self-raising flour
25g (1oz) caster sugar, for sprinkling

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

Place the apples, sugar and water in a small saucepan on a low heat. With the lid on, cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the apples are soft. Pour into a 1 –litre (1¾ pint) shallow pie dish, or into 8 individual ramekins.

In a bowl, beat the butter. Add the sugar and beat again, then add the eggs and the vanilla, gradually, still beating, then fold in the flour to combine. Spread this over the apple, sprinkle with sugar and cook in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes until the centre of the sponge feels firm, or a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Note: This is also lovely with a handful of fresh or frozen blackberries added to the apples in the saucepan.

Hot Tips

Dunbrody Abbey Visitor Centre, Campile, New Ross, Co Wexford.
Christmas Fairs on 10 & 11th and 17 & 18th December. Stall holders who might be interested should contact Pierce McAuliffe at 051-388933 or 087-9723033  

Rare Breed Pork from Gloucester Old Spots – reared on a strict vegetarian diet on a small holding in the Portroe area just outside Nenagh, Co Tipperary, and allowed to mature slowly over a long period to develop a fuller flavour. Contact Tom and Sharyn Shore, Tel 067-23761

Lamb Direct – ‘A taste of the countryside direct to your door’ – full lamb or half lamb – from Michael Seymour, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary – Tel 086-4000680

Major Cross Border Producer Showcase Event was held recently in Loughry College, Cookstown, Co Tyrone – chefs and students discovered the good food on their doorstep as part of the Euro-Toques Small Food Initiative –
The event was attended by many small producers from the region displaying a wide range of foods, including farmhouse cheeses, fruits, vegetables and herbs, pastas, dressings, rare breed meats and smoked foods. Full details on the project website  

Wicklow Fine Foods have just launched their range of luxury chocolates – ‘The Chocolate Garden of Ireland’ 
Chocolates are being added to their successful fine food and gift items – waffles, biscuits and luxury chocolate spreads – to see the product range visit  – available in good speciality food shops nationwide, including Avoca Handweavers and Wrights of Howth in Dublin Airport.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall at Ballymaloe

Within hours of posting Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s course on the Ballymaloe Cookery School website last year, the phone started to ring and email bookings flooded in. The course was enticingly called ‘Cutting up a Pig in a Day’ 

Within a couple of weeks the course was totally booked out with a lengthy waiting list, such is the appeal of this irrepressible chap who gave up his frenetic city life to live in a small holding in Dorset. Hugh and his friends had been spending weekends at River Cottage for a number of years and eventually he and his wife decided to take the plunge and move out of London. With masses of energy and the enthusiasm of one who has no concept of the obstacles that lie ahead, he set out on his new adventure with a TV crew in tow – week by week the viewers could share his triumphs and frustrations as he embarked on the steep learning curve of attempting to be self sufficient. So many city gents longed for the courage to fling off the suit and don a pair of wellies, and those who resisted the call of the wild enjoyed watching as he laboriously cleared the ground, sowed the seeds and coped with the reality of slugs and squirrels. Next came the pigs, followed by hens, sheep, cattle. When the free ranging pigs grew fat he and his pals brought them along to the butcher, then they had a pig party to cut and deal with the pig in a day, sometimes two, using everything but the squeal. They made hams, salami, pickled pork, brawn, chorizo, devilled kidneys, crispy pig ears…

Hugh says that total self-sufficiency was not a real ambition of his. There are simply too many things, from oranges and bananas to chocolate and good claret, that he will always need to dip into his wallet to acquire. But true happiness and contentment around food and in the kitchen is a personal goal. He plans, before long to move full time to the country to help achieve this. Hugh says “I make my living not as a ‘real’ smallholder, genuinely dependent on my acres, but as a writer and television presenter. I can afford a few luxuries. But since I moved to River Cottage my idea of what true luxury is has changed: picking blackberries in the hedgerow in high summer, and trampling the wild garlic in early spring; buying a huge cod from Jack’s boat in West Bay for just a few quid; netting eels in the River Brit; committing infanticide on my own baby broad beans; picking elderflowers; bartering eggs for cider; these are my new luxuries. They are luxuries that just about anyone can afford.”

Hugh and his butcher Ray bounced into the school the other day ready for action. We had one of our own free-range pigs ready to be butchered and transformed into a variety of delicious cured meat. The 6 month old organic pig was a mixture of rare breeds - Saddleback Black Berkshire/Red Duroc cross, with a nice covering of juicy fat – essential for sausages and salami. 

As soon as the students arrived, Hugh and Ray tucked up their sleeves and amidst an air of anticipation embarked on a mission to use every scrap of the pig from the nose to the tail in the time-honoured tradition that so many of us remember since childhood. 

Ray and Hugh met while they were filming the River Cottage series. Hugh told us that he had become addicted to Ray’s help. Ray who has been a butcher since he was thirteen set about cutting up the pig with the ease of an expert, making it all look so easy and logical. 

The head was salted and cut into quarters and put into a large pot with a couple of the trotters and the tongue. Some spices, herbs and onions were added to make a fine brawn. While that all simmered gently, the carcase was carefully trimmed, Ray meticulously saved all the little scraps of fat, as he reminded us that the profit is in the trimmings. 

The shoulder was minced for salami and chorizo, a proportion of finely diced back fat was added with salt and spices. All this was filled into well-washed natural casings which we learned how to expertly seal and tie with cotton string.

The skin on the loin was scored with a Stanley knife for crispy crackling. Lots of sea salt and coriander rubbed were rubbed into the cuts and then it went into the oven to roast for lunch. Meanwhile we learned how to make bacon from the belly and a terrine from the liver and trimmings. Ray saved some of the terrine mixture to stuff the pork fillet. The kidneys were used to make the most delectable mustardy devilled kidneys which were polished off in minutes as they were passed around the class.

After a delectable lunch of roast pork with crackling and lots of Bramley apple sauce we settled down again. We learned about dry and wet cures. The streaky belly of pork was rubbed with salt, pepper, sugar and coriander and left to cure. We opted to put one ham into a brine to have ready for Christmas, the other was packed in sea salt in an old timber wine box to start the curing of what will eventually be a dry cured ham ready to eat in 12-18 months.

Ray added dried breadcrumbs, salt, freshly ground pepper, mace, sage, thyme, and sugar to the minced pork to make a huge batch of juicy sausages. He gilded the lily by adding his favourite spicing – a garam masala,(you could use ground cumin or coriander if you prefer), the meat was filled into natural sausage casings and then expertly knotted in butchers’ links. Hugh rolled some into a coil of Cumberland sausage, which we ate also for lunch. Along the way, the class tasted brains and tucked into crispy pigs’ ears with gusto.

It was amazing and thrilling to see the extraordinary level of interest in learning new skills. This is the third of these classes we have offered this year, Fingal Ferguson and Frank Krawczyk from Schull in West Cork each taught classes earlier this year in their own inimitable style to an audience of enthusiastic amateurs who are anxious to relearn forgotten skills. The response has been so positive we have decided so to offer a whole series of ‘Forgotten Skills’ courses next year to build on the very successful ‘How to keep a few hens in your Garden’ earlier this year. See Course Index  

Here are a few of Hugh’s recipes, for more look out for his River Cottage Cookbooks

- A Cook on the Wild Side, The River Cottage Year, The River Cottage Cookbook, The River Cottage Meat Coobook, or link into his website  


1 pig’s head, quartered
1 or 2 pig’s trotters
1 knuckle, tongue and tail
2 onions, peeled and quartered
A large bundle of fresh herbs – parsley, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram
A muslin bag of spices (about 1 dessertspoon each allspice berries, coriander and mixed peppercorns)
A handful of chopped parsley
Juice of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the quartered head, trotter, onions, bundle of herbs and bag of spices in a large stockpot. Cover with water and bring slowly to a gentle simmer. For the first 30 minutes of cooking, skim off any bubbly scum that rises to the surface. Cook, uncovered, at a very gentle simmer for about 4 hours altogether, until all the meat is completely tender and coming away from the bones. Top up the pan occasionally as the water level drops.

When cooked, lift out the meat and leave until cool enough to handle. Pick all the meat, skin and fat off the head bones (it should fall off quite easily). Remove any bristly hairs with tweezers. Peel the coarse skin off the tongue and discard. Roughly chop all the bits of meat, including the fat and skin and the tongue, and toss together with the chopped parsley and the lemon juice. (Everything except the bone and bristles can go into a brawn, but if you want to make it less fatty, just discard some of the really fatty pieces at this stage.) Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.

Remove the herbs, onions and spices from the cooking liquor and strain it through a fine sieve or, better still, muslin. Boil until reduced by about two-thirds. Stir a few tablespoons of this gelatine-rich liquid into the chopped meat – it will help the brawn set as it cools. Pile the mixture into terrine dishes (one large or 2 or 3 small ones) or a pudding basin. Place a weighted plate or board on top and put in the refrigerator to set.

A brawn can be turned out of its mould on to a plate before serving. Serve cold, in slices, with pickles and gherkins. Or make a delicious salade de tête: cut the brawn into 2cm dice and toss with cold cooked Puy lentils and a mustardy vinaigrette. The finished brawn will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It also freezes well.

Devilled Kidneys

4 lamb’s kidneys, cut into quarters
A little fat or oil
1 small glass of sherry
1 tbs white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
A few good shakes of Worcestershire sauce
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tbs English mustard
1 tbs double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little chopped parsley to garnish

Heat a little fat or oil in a small frying pan, add the kidneys and sizzle for just a minute to brown them, tossing them occasionally in the pan. Then add a generous slosh of sherry, let it bubble for a moment, and follow up with a more modest splash of wine or cider vinegar. Add the redcurrant jelly and stir to dissolve. Then add the Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, mustard and plenty of black pepper. Season with a pinch of salt, take the edge off the fire with an enriching spoon of double cream and bubble for another minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally, until the sauce is reduced and nicely glossy. Taste for piquancy, and add more cayenne and black pepper if you like.

Serve with fried bread to give a bit of crunch and mop up the sauce. Alternatively, to make a more substantial supper dish, serve with plain boiled rice and a crisp green salad. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.


5 kilo coarse minced pork

100g rusk or dried breadcrumbs
50g salt
15g ground white pepper
10g ground mace
10g fresh chopped sage
5g fresh chopped thyme
500ml cold water
2 tsp sugar

Your personal choice of herbs and spices. This could include some of the following:

Garam masala

Ground cumin
Ground coriander

Making fresh sausages (as opposed to salami) is one of the central activities of a River Cottage ‘pig weekend’, and one of the most sociable, as everybody gets to have a go. The results offer instant gratification, as sample batches of the various seasoning combinations are fried up and their various merits hotly debated.

To make my sausages, I use the same old-fashioned crank-handle machine that I use to make salami, but with a smaller nozzle attachment. Less cumbersome modern alternatives are available from good cookshops, including electric-powered machines that will also mince your pork for you.

I don’t usually bother with chipolatas, so I choose the larger size of natural sausage casings, called ‘hog casings’ that makes good old butcher’s bangers (as opposed to the extra large ox-runners, which I use for salami). These casings come packed in salt and need to be soaked, rinsed, and flushed through with fresh water before use. See the 

Sausage meat
Before you can make any sausages, you have to make sausage meat. If you are using home-reared pork and you have employed a butcher to sort out the carcass for you, you may want him to make up your sausage meat as well: his big industrial mincing machines will make light work of it. You will need to specify which parts of the pig you want your sausage meat made from. My preference is for a 50:50 combination of belly and leaner meat, usually taken from the boned-out shoulder. Any trimmings arising from the general cutting up of the beast can also be added.

Another important decision is how finely you want your meat minced. Most modern butchers’ sausage meat is minced on the finest setting. I find the resulting sausages too fine and pâté-like in consistency, so I prefer the next setting up. This gives a more old-fashioned ‘butcher’s banger’ consistency.

Of course you don’t have to keep your own pigs to make your own sausages. But if you want really good home-made sausages, don’t just buy the standard ready-made sausage meat. Choose fresh, quality belly and lean shoulder and either mince it yourself or ask your butcher to do it according to your requirements.

You can make good sausages from 100 per cent minced pork, plus your chosen seasonings, but there is no shame in adding a little cereal to the mix. This tradition is not merely a matter of bulking out the mixture with a cheap additive. A little ‘rusk’, as it is called, improves the texture, as it helps to retain a little more fat in the sausage. I like to add about 5 per cent by weight – so 50g per kilo of sausage meat. You can use various cereal-based products for rusk, including rice flour, fine oatmeal or fine white breadcrumbs. I actually use a multigrain organic baby cereal from the Baby Organix range, with excellent results.

When planning a sausage-making session, bear in mind that 1kg of sausage meat will give you about 15–20 large sausages, depending on their length and how tightly you stuff them.

There are unlimited ways to season your sausages, and inventing new and original spice and/or herb combinations is all part of the fun. The best way to try out new ideas is to take a small amount of sausage meat, add your experimental seasonings and mix well. Then fry up a bit of the mixture in a little patty and taste the result. When you get something you like, make up a big quantity and do another taste test and a final seasoning adjustment before you commit to the casings.

One thing that all your sausages will need is salt. About 5–10g (1–2 teaspoons) per kilo of meat is a good rough guide but you can make any final adjustments after your taste test.

Making the sausages
For a beginner, the only real difficulty in making sausages is getting to grips with the sausage-making machine and avoiding too many air pockets. This is largely a matter of trial and error. Electric sausage-making machines will come with their own set of instructions. A crank-handled machine like mine can be a bit temperamental, and it is sometimes easier to have two people operating it – one turning the handle, the other controlling the casing as it fills.

The basic idea is to fill a long length of casing – as long as you like, really – then twist it into individual sausages of your chosen length. It is important not to overfill the sausages or they will burst when you twist them. There are various clever twisting techniques devised by butchers over the years, where the sausages are twisted together to make long strings of twos and threes. These techniques are impossible to describe in words.

If wrapped or boxed immediately after being made, sausages will leach a considerable amount of liquid. To avoid this, the finished sausages should be hung in a cool place for a few hours or overnight. They can then be wrapped in greaseproof paper or clingfilm, or placed in Tupperware boxes, and stored in a refrigerator. Freshly made sausages kept in the fridge should be used within five days. If you want to keep them longer either vac-pack them or bag them up in freezer bags, in small batches. Defrost completely at room temperature before cooking.

Foolproof Food

Bramley Apple Sauce

An essential accompaniment to roast pork and homemade sausages.
The trick with Apple Sauce is to cook it covered on a low heat with very little water.
Serves 10 approx.

1 lb (450g) cooking apples, e.g. Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
1-2 dessertsp. water
2 ozs (55g) sugar, depending on how tart the apples are

Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut the pieces into two and put in a stainless steel or cast iron saucepan with sugar and water. Cover and put over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, beat into a puree, stir and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.

Note: Apple Sauce freezes perfectly, so make more than you need and freeze in tiny, plastic cartons. It is also a good way to use up windfalls
Hot Tips

Java Republic Roasting Company is launching a new range of super-premium, authentic, hand-roasted coffees into the UK and Irish market, available at retail for the first time. These all contain either fairtrade co-op or farm direct speciality coffees.  

Country Choice, Kenyon St. Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Tel 067-32596 
Have a wonderful stock of dried and glace fruits, Lexia raisins, Golden raisins, Agen prunes, Malaga muscatels, whole French walnuts, whole candied peel, Amarena cherries ……..some Italian delicacies and many other temptations –  

Soup Kitchen – the finest soup recipes from the top chefs of today –Rick Stein, Delia Smith, Jamie Oliver, Giorgio Locatelli, Gordon Ramsay, and supported by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall – a collection of 100 recipes – 70% of the royalties will go to homelessness charities. Published by Harper Collins.  

Cocktails for pre-Christmas entertaining - The Art of the Vodka Jelly: Bespoke Cocktails for a New Generation by Tom Tuke-Hastings. Published by CBN Books.


Past Letters