ArchiveAugust 2006

The Bounty of the Garden

I’m regularly asked where I’m off to for my Summer break, naturally people expect me to name some exotic location – Azarbejan, Lanzerotte, St Barts …… not a bit of it. Nothing would persuade me to holiday outside Ireland during the Summer months. Airports are a nightmare, why on earth would one want to endure the queues in sweltering heat, the delays, the ratty responses of overstretched staff. Travel has become so frantic that one really needs a very good reason to go anywhere.

A further aggravation is the fact that most holiday bargains end up costing a fortune in over weight charges. Another very good reason to stay close to home is the bounty of the garden in late Summer, both the vegetable and fruit gardens are bulging with produce, lush ripe and ready for harvesting. There are not enough meals to eat it all, a glut of gorgeous ripe tomatoes, a glut of courgettes, a glut of cucumbers, blackcurrants and red currants. We’ve already had a feast of white peaches (they grow on a south facing wall under the dining room of the school). They crop unbelievably well and bruise very easily but make a divine puree to use for a classic Bellini. This freezes well in ice cubes ready to be popped into a glass of processo, - one sip is enough to transport you to Harrys Bar in Venice. We’ve also had the first Beauty of bath and Irish apples and soon there will be grenadier to make the first apple tart of the new season – Why on earth would one want to be anywhere else?

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

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

Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) jars

2 lbs (900g/8 cups) red currants
2 lbs (900g/8 cups) granulated sugar

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

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

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

Apple and Tomato Chutney
Makes 10 x 1 lb (450 g) pots

7-8 lbs (3.2-3.4 kg) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped 
1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped
1 lb (450 g) eating apples, peeled and chopped
3 lbs (1.35 kg) sugar
1½ pints (900 ml/3¾ cups) white malt vinegar
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 teaspoons all spice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper
8-12 oz (225-340 g/1½-2 cups) sultanas

Prepare all the ingredients. Put into a large wide stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer steadily until reduce and slightly thick - 1 hour, approx. Pot in sterilized jars.

Cucumber Neapolitana
A terrifically versatile vegetable dish which may be made ahead and reheats well. It is also delicious served with rice or pasta. It makes a great stuffing for tomatoes and is particularly good with Roast lamb.
Serves 6 approx.

1 Irish cucumber
½ oz (15g\c stick) butter
1 medium onion - 4 ozs (110g) approx., sliced 
4 very ripe Irish tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2½ fl ozs (63ml/generous ¼ cup) cream
1 dessertsp. (2 American teasp.) freshly chopped mint
Roux (optional) 

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams add the onion. Cover and sweat for 5 minutes approx. until soft but not coloured. 

Meanwhile, peel the cucumber cut into ½ inch (1cm) cubes; add to the onions, toss well and continue to cook while you scald the tomatoes with water for 10 seconds. Peel the tomatoes and slice into the casserole, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover the casserole and cook for a few minutes until the cucumbers are tender and the tomatoes have softened, add the cream and bring back to the boil. Add the freshly chopped mint. If the liquid is very thin, thicken it by carefully whisking in a little roux. Cucumber Neapolitana keeps for several days and may be reheated.

Tomato Fondue

Readers of my books will hopefully have incorporated this wonderful tomato stew into their regular fare. It is best made during the summer months when the tomatoes are very ripe, but it can still be very good made with tinned tomatoes in the winter. It is another of my 'great convertibles', we serve it not only as a vegetable but also as a sauce, a filling for pancakes and omelettes, or a topping for pizzas etc. Reduce it a little more for pizza topping or it may be too sloppy.
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) sliced onions
A clove of garlic, crushed (optional)
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) olive oil
2 lbs (900g) very ripe tomatoes, or ½ fresh and ½ tinned
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of any of the following chopped or a mixture of - thyme, parsley, mint, basil, lemon balm, marjoram
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste

Sweat the sliced onions and garlic (if used) in oil on a gentle heat. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added. Remove the hard core from the tomatoes. Put them into a deep bowl and cover them with boiling water. Count to 10 and then pour off the water immediately; peel off the skins, slice and add to the onions. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar and add a generous sprinkling of chopped basil. Cook for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens.

Tomato Fondue with Chilli and Variations
Add 1-2 chopped fresh chilli to the onions when sweating.

Tomato Fondue with Chilli and Basil
Add torn basil instead of mixed herbs to the Tomato Fondue.

Tomato and Coriander Fondue
Substitute fresh coriander for basil in the basic recipe.

Blackcurrant Fool

Serves 10 approx.
¾ lb (340g) fresh blackcurrants
Stock syrup (see recipe)
Whipped cream

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts about 4-5 minutes. Liquidise

and sieve or puree the fruit and syrup and measure. When the puree has cooled, add up to equal quantity of softly whipped cream, according to taste. Serve with Jane's biscuits.

Note: A little stiffly beaten egg white may be added to lighten the fool. The fool should not be very stiff, more like the texture of softly whipped cream. If it is too stiff stir in a little milk rather than more cream.

Frozen blackcurrants may be used
Alternative presentation chose tall sundae glasses. Put 2 floz of blackcurrant puree into the base of the glass, top with a layer of softly whipped cream, another layer of blackcurrant puree and finally a little more cream. Drizzle a little thin puree over the top, serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.

Blackcurrant ice cream

Left over blackcurrant fool may be frozen – it makes a delicious ice cream. Serve with blackcurrant coulis made by thinning the blackcurrant puree with a little more water or syrup.
Stock Syrup
Makes 28 fl ozs (825 ml/3½ cups)

1 lb (450 g/2 cups) sugar
1 pint (600 ml/2½ cups) water

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

Frosted Blackcurrant Fool with Blackcurrant Coulis
Pour the blackcurrant fool into a loaf tin lined with pure cling film. Cover and freeze. Serve cut in slices with blackcurrant coulis drizzled over the top.
Serves 10 approx

Jane’s Biscuits – Shortbread Biscuits

Makes 25
6 ozs (170g/1¼ cups) white flour or Spelt
4 ozs (110g/1 stick) butter
2 ozs (55g/¼ cup) castor sugar

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to ¼ inch (7mm) thick. Cut into rounds with a 2½ inch (6cm) cutter or into heart shapes. Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 to pale brown, 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the biscuits. Remove and cool on a rack.
Serve with fruit fools, compotes and ice creams.

Note: Watch these biscuits really carefully in the oven. Because of the high sugar content they burn easily. They should be a pale golden colour - darker will be more bitter.

Darina's Fool Proof Recipe

Courgette Soup with Curry Spices

Serves 12
8 large courgettes, sliced
2 large onions,peeled & sliced 
4 teaspoons curry powder 
6 ozs (175g) butter
4 pints (2.2 litres) homemade chicken stock 

Melt the butter and allow to foam. Add the sliced onions and curry powder. Coat in the butter, reduce the heat, cover with greaseproof and a lid and sweat gently until the onions are tender. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Add the courgettes, season with salt & pepper and cook quite gently, uncovered until the courgettes are just tender. Purée immediately and correct seasoning. Thin with extra stock if necessary. Serve with chopped parsley & chives. Add a little cream if the soup needs it.

Hot Tips:

Georgina Campbell’s Ireland for Garden Lovers – Gentle Journeys through Ireland’s most beautiful gardens with delightful places to stay and eat along the way – co-authored with Marianne Heron. This guide provides a wonderful framework for the garden lover’s Irish holiday, North and South.

Visiting Bristol – 
On a recent trip to Bristol, I had a delicious breakfast at Ocean Cafe, lunch at Quartier Vert and dinner at Fishworks – the fish was spanking fresh and beautifully cooked, we had the bonus of extra special service from our waitress Sarah from Douglas in Cork, who is doing a Masters in International Politics in Bristol University. All three restaurants are on Whiteladies Road in Bristol. Ocean – Tel 0117 946 9825 Quartier Vert – Tel 0117 973 4482 Fishworks – Tel 0117 974 4433

Schull Agricultural Show

I have just had a completely delightful fun afternoon at the Schull Agricultural Show. These country shows celebrate much of what I hold so dear in country life.
Many have been floundering in recent years as people flock to the glitzier Food Festivals that are springing up all over the country. (Don’t forget to put the date of the Midleton Food and Drink Fair on ?? September into your diary.) However I sense a real revival of interest. Schull show, founded in 1966, was an annual event until 1999, by then the insurance costs coupled with the animal movement costs sounded the death knell of the once vibrant show.
This year the Show Committee, linked up with Schull ICA and the Slow Food movement to revive the Show. The committee headed by Jimmy Donavan, Charlie McCarthy and Josephine Ahearne gathered a feisty band of volunteers from the local community. They worked long and hard to plan the line-up of events. They were well rewarded when over 3000 people poured into the Showgrounds. The Schull Farmer’s Market had decamped up to the Showgrounds for the day and when we arrived just after 1 o’clock the event was well underway. There were ? categories. Knowledgeable looking ? were studying form.
The mare and foal category was being judged, an adorable little piebald foal took my eye but I headed down towards the exhibits, stopping to buy an onion bhaji, a caraway seed cake and some local cheese and cured meat at the Farmers outlets.
In the ? hall the Flower, Vegetable, Craft and Bakery exhibits were proudly displayed. The judges had made their decisions so the 1st, 2nd, 3rd prize winners had red, green and ? rosettes attached. These agricultural shows acknowledge the value of the Farmer and importance of preserving and passing on the traditional skills.
The skills of the stockman, the plantsman, the honeymaker, the cook, the traditional craftsman are increasingly valuable in a world where a growing number of people are beginning to appreciate the value of what for many people are forgotten skills.
Despite the headlong embrace of the breakfast roll and fast food culture there is also a tangible revival of interest in learning forgotten skills, how to keep a few hens, how to rear poultry for the table, beekeepers report an increase in inquiries for beginners beekeeping courses, organic vegetable growing courses are oversubscribed. Several young people I know are keeping a few pigs again so they can cure their own pork and taste bacon as it used to be. Others want to know how to make home butter, cheese and yoghurt. All these skills can add value to farm produce at a time when many farmers are racking their brains to come up with ideas to supplement their income. 
The Agricultural Shows provide a platform for the top quality producers to be acknowledged and rewarded. Beside the ? members of Schull ICA, headed by Mary O’Keeffe and founder member Violet Glanville, were busy serving tea and coffee, carrot and coriander soup and cakes to the queues of people. There in the midst of them all the 93 year old Violet Glanville was judiciously filling beef, ham and salad rolls. Vi, who is one of my heroes, was overjoyed to see the revival of the Agricultural Show, an event which she feels is of the utmost importance in rural areas. She and Mary O’Keeffe, chair of the local guild, represent the indomitable spirit of the ICA.
As I queued for tea I listened as the local women discussed the cakes. They knew at a glance who had made each one. They are Jean’s scones, she always makes them for a special occasion and cuts them out with a champagne glass. I chose a delicious slice of coffee cake and then sneaked back for a slice of ? cake and another coconut cake made by the Australian Donna ?. I chased her up and she sweetly agreed to sharing the recipes with Examiner readers.
While all this was going on, a merry band of traditional dancers were dancing to the music of ? under the tutelage of ?. Catherine Jepson was carding wool and spinning it on her wheel. ? demonstrated the skill of making fishing nets. ? was making rattles to show people the craft of traditional rush weaving.
Meanwhile the dog show got underway. Over 70 dogs and every size, shape and description were entered. Nina Constance had the unenviable task of choosing the winners under the critical glare of the dog owners, each of whom was convinced that their pooch was the star of the show.
The only shadow on the day was the discovery that the carefully erected fences had been vandalised overnight, but this didn’t deter the hardworking committee who rebuilt and repaired the damage before the off.
The committee were very happy with the relaunch but are now in the process of reviewing and analysing the event with a view to creating a bigger and even better event next year.
For details of other agricultural shows this Summer check

Caraway Seed Cake

I hated Seed cake as a child and now its one of my great favourites, my father had a passion for it so it was always an option when we went to visit our Tipperary relations on Sunday afternoons.
6 ozs (170g) butter
6 ozs (170g) castor sugar
3 eggs, free-range if possible
8 ozs (225g) plain white flour
1 tablespoon ground almonds, optional
2 dessertspoons caraway seeds
3 teaspoon baking powder

some caraway seeds to sprinkle on top

Round cake tin 7 inches wide x 3 inches deep (18cm x 7.5cm)

Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter, add the sugar and beat until very soft and light. Whisk the eggs and gradually beat into the creamed mixture. Stir in the flour and ground almonds. Add the baking powder and 2 dessertspoons of caraway seeds with the last of the flour. Turn the mixture into the prepared cake tin, scatter a few caraway seeds on top and bake in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 50-60 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Keeps well in an airtight tin.

Coffee Cake with Chocolate Coffee Beans

Serves 8-10
Another splendid cake, keeps well too. This cake may be baked in a larger tin to make it look more like a gateau.

8 ozs (225g) butter
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar
8 ozs (225g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teasp. baking powder
4 eggs, preferably free range
scant 2 tablesp. coffee essence (Irel or Camp)

2" x 8" (5 x 20.5 cm) sandwich tins 

Coffee Butter Cream (see recipe)
Coffee Icing (see recipe)

Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans (see recipe)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/regulo 4.
Line the bottom of sandwich tins, with greaseproof paper, brush the bottom and sides with melted butter and dust with flour.
Cream the butter until soft, add the castor sugar and beat until pale and light in texture. Whisk the eggs. Add to the mixture, bit by bit, beating well between each addition. 
Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture, finally add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes approx. in a moderate oven. When the cakes are cooked. The center will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tin. Rest in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto the wire rack, remove the greaseproof paper from the base, then reinvert so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack. Cool the cakes on the wire rack. When cold sandwich the cakes together with Coffee Butter Cream and ice the top with Coffee Glace Icing .Decorate with Hazelnuts or Chocolate Coffee Beans

Coffee Butter Cream Filling
2 ozs (55g) butter
4 ozs (110g) icing sugar (sieved)
1-2 teasp. Irel Coffee essence

Whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar, add the coffee essence. Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.

If you would prefer to ice the cake with Coffee Butter Cream use 
8 ozs ( 225g) butter
1lb ( 450g) icing sugar
1-2 tablespoons of Irel Coffee

Coffee Icing

16 ozs (450g) icing sugar
scant 2 tablesp. Irel coffee essence
4 tablesp. boiling water approx.

Sieve the icing sugar and put into a bowl. Add coffee essence and enough boiling water to make it the consistency of thick cream.

Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans
Irresistible nibbles or great decorations for cakes, mousses, and chocolate or coffee desserts.

3 ozs (85g) dark chocolate, at least 54 per cent cocoa solids
4 tablesp. medium roast coffee beans

Melt the chocolate gently in a small bowl over a saucepan of hot water. When the chocolate is soft add the coffee beans. Stir gently to coat the beans, then lift them out with a fork and drop them one by one onto a plate or marble slab evenly covered with non-stick silicone paper. Leave to harden. Remove the beans with a palette knife and store in an air-tight jar. Alternatively, drop the wet chocolate-coated beans on to a plate or marble slab covered thickly with sieved good quality cocoa powder. Separate as above and leave to harden.

Traditional Kerry Apple Cake

Makes 25-30 pieces
Scone mixture
450g (1lb) plain white flour
175g (6oz) butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
175g (6oz) castor sugar
3 free range eggs
225ml (8fl oz) milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

cooking apples

Baking tin 30x20cm 7.5cm deep (12x8in 3in deep)

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

Peel, core and chop the apple into 5mm (1/4in) dice. Rub the butter into the flour. Add the baking powder, castor sugar, diced apple and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Whisk the eggs with a cup of milk in a bowl. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be a soft texture. Pour into the greased and lined roasting tin. Bake at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top and apples are soft and golden. Dredge with soft castor sugar while hot.

Donna Higgins’s Five Star Coconut Cake

Donna who is originally from Sydney now lives in west Cork and is an enthusiastic member of the Schull ICA guild. In Australia she ran the Energy Australia Cookery School and developed recipes for food companies.
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) milk
35g (1 1/2oz/1/3 cup) coconut
340g (12oz/2¼ cups) self raising flour, sifted
75g (3oz/½ cup) custard powder
450g (1lb/2 cups) caster sugar
4 eggs
250g (9oz) butter, softened 
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 tablespoons toasted coconut (decoration)

Grease and line a 23cm deep cake pan or two 23cm x 12cm x 7cm loaf pans.
Heat the milk, pour onto coconut, and stir well. Leave aside until cold.
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 10 minutes.
Pour mixture into prepared pan.
Bake in a moderate oven 180° C for 1 – 1 ¼ hours or until cooked when tested. 
Allow to sit in the tin or tins for five minutes before turning out. 
Meanwhile make the Cream Cheese Icing – see below. 
Spread the icing over the top of the cake or cakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Cream Cheese Icing

60g (2 1/2oz) cream cheese, softened
125g (4 1/2oz/1 cup) icing sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in the icing sugar. Mix in vanilla and sufficient milk to form a smooth creamy icing.
Pipe or spread onto coconut cake.

Fool proof Food

Mary O’Keefe’s Featherlite Sponge

4 free range eggs
110g (4oz) castor sugar
110g (4oz) plain white flour

2x 20cm (8in) tins, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. 

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the whites stiffly and fold into the egg and sugar mixture, then fold in the sieved flour in batches. Add 2-3 drops water just off the boil.
Divide the mixture between the greased and floured tins. Bake at 190C/375F/gas mark 5 for 15 minutes. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Sandwich together with homemade gooseberry and raspberry jam and whipped cream. Dredge with a little icing sugar on top.


(Don’t forget to put the date of the Midleton Food and Drink Fair on 2nd & 3rd September into your diary.)

Jellies and Pickles from West Cork
I bought a delicious pot of Rose Petal Jelly at the Schull Farmer’s Market, made by Eva Johnson from Ballydehob – (Tel. 028-37956) – Eva’s jelly is sold alongside Sonia Bower’s Inner Pickle Caribbean style pickles (Tel 028-34895, 086-2209836) - available at Mahon Point, Schull, Kinsale and Bandon’s Farmers Markets – also sold at the Fuchsia Shop in Cork Airport. 

Eco Harvest is a New Shop opened by Catriona Daunt and Willie Doherty in The Village Shopping Centre (by the library) in Ballincollig, Co. Cork. Eco Harvest stocks organic fruit and veg (as much local Irish produce as possible), Gubbeen meats and cheeses, wholefoods, blueberry tonic, apple juices, a wide range of olive oils, olives and other Mediterranean delicacies, fresh lavender bunches, Arun's spice packets, Mella's fudge and Arbutus breads. It is a small, but beautiful and well stocked shop and it has a large private carpark out front where the market is held on a Wednesday. Open Monday to Saturday from 9.30 to 6.30.

Offalydelicious – The Network of local food producers in Offaly
Offaly Leader is dedicated to assisting the development of local food products and has developed a support programme tailored to meet the specific needs of the county’s small food producers. Honey, organic cheeses and soups, grass-fed beef and lamb, traditionally produced pork products, sauces, pickles and relishes, even wedding cakes – you name it and the small producers of Offaly are making it. Brochure available from Offaly Delicious, c/o Michelle O’Brien, Offaly Leader, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Tel. 057-9322850,  or 

Vincent and Catherine O’Donovan’s roadside stall on the main Cork to Inishannon road (N71 to west Cork) sell juicy sweetcorn. They are open everyday and hope to have sweetcorn for the next month or so. If you would like to order some for the freezer ring Vincent on 087 248 6031.

Good Food in Cork

In 2002, Myrtle Allen, then in her late seventies, decided that there was a need to collate the information about good food producers in Cork County. She travelled from village to town, from one end of the county to the other, seeking out the best butchers, bakers, jam and chutney makers, fish smokers, poultry producers, farmhouse cheese-makers, bacon curers, salami makers and artisan producers, of every kind.

The result of her gastronomic travel was put together in a leaflet for growers of fruit and vegetables, and published in 2002. Then the following year with help of her grandson Cullen, Myrtle published a simple booklet called ‘Local Producers of Good Food in Cork’. Her grand-daughter Fawn helped produce the 2003 edition and in 2004 help came from Arun Kapil a chef at Ballymaloe House, who now has his own range of spices under the name Green Saffron.

The fourth edition ‘Good Food in Cork’ launched last week at the Crawford Gallery Café is the biggest and best so far.

This year, Caroline Workman collaborated with Myrtle. Caroline, a food writer from Northern Ireland, newly arrived in Cork to marry fish smoker Frank Hederman, embraced the project with vigour and enthusiasm. In a short time Caroline got to know almost everyone in the book and found many new treasures.

She and Robin Bryant, a New Zealand designer now living in Cork, gave the book a brand new look. Quotes from food producers and Caroline’s delicious prose, give this year’s edition yet another dimension.

At the launch, Lord Mayor Deirdre Clune and deputy County Mayor both congratulated the artisan producers for putting Cork city and county on the top of Ireland’s gastronomic map and paid glowing tribute to the authors. 

Frank Hederman in his introduction spoke of the food revolution that started in East Cork and has gathered momentum throughout the countryside and has now become the focus of the majority of food and travel writers who visit Ireland.

Many of the artisan producers brought their food for guests to taste at the launch.

This little gem – a must for everyone interested in tasty whole and unusual foods, is available from many bookshops, farmers markets and health shops, or contact Caroline Workman at

Good Food in Cork 2006-2007 – a guide to local producers - by Myrtle Allen and Caroline Workman, designed and illustrated by Robyn Bryant. Cork Free Choice Consumer Group – 

Mackerel with Tomatoes and Tapenade

Serves 4
4 fresh mackerel fillets
4 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
l teasp.thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper

Tapenade Dressing
30g (1 oz) Kalamata olives, stones removed
2 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
1 ½ teaspoon capers in brine, drained and rinsed
1 small garlic clove, crushed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Flat parsley sprigs.

Preheat the grill to high. 

Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking tray. Season lightly with some salt and pepper and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.

Slash the skin of each mackerel fillet two or three times and place, skin side up, on top of the tomatoes.

Meanwhile make the tapenade dressing. Chop the olives, anchovy and capers, add the crushed garlic, it should have a coarseish texture. Add the oil and vinegar and season to taste.

Grill the mackerel until the skin is crisp and the fish is cooked through and the tomatoes are warm. 

Transfer to warm plates and spoon over a little of the tapenade. Serve immediately with little sprigs of flat parsley.

Spatchcock Chicken with Oven-roasted Vegetables

Serves 6-8
1 free-range organic chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
Extra virgin olive oil or butter
A few cloves of garlic

Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as possible.

Open the bird out as much as possible. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast in a preheated oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately.

Note: Cook the chicken on a wire rack over a roasting tin of roast potatoes or vegetables.
Carve and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Basil, Olive Oil and Irish Honey

The Ballymaloe Cookery School stall has a unique selection of heirloom tomatoes of all shapes and sizes. Red, yellow, black, striped, round, pear shaped, oval. They make a divine tomato salad with fresh buffalo mozzarella and lots of fresh basil.
Serves 4

8 very ripe heirloom tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dessertspoon pure Irish honey
3 tablespoons Mani extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves

Cut the tomatoes into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix the oil and honey together and add 'torn' basil leaves, pour over the tomatoes and toss gently. Taste, correct seasoning if necessary. A little freshly squeezed lemon juice enhances the flavour in a very delicious way.

A Salad of Quail Eggs with Smoked Venison and Avocado

Serves 6
18 quail eggs
1 slice white bread cut into ¼ inch cubes for croutons
1 avocado
4 ozs/110 g smoked Irish salmon cut into strips

4 ozs/110 g curly endive
2 ozs/55 g lambs lettuce or purslane
1 head chicory
2 ozs/55 g Lollo Rosso
12 sprigs of watercress OR

A mixed leaf salad instead of above

French Dressing

Tiny spring onions or chives
A few chive or nasturtium or wild garlic flowers

Wash and dry the salad leaves. Hard boil the quail eggs in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Put them in cold water and shell when required, keep six still in their shells so guests can peel them.

Fry the croutons in about 3 tablespoons of walnut oil over a medium heat until crisp and golden. Keep warm.

Peel the avocado, remove stone and cut into dice or slices, brush with a little dressing.

To Serve
Toss the salad leaves in a little of the dressing, the leaves should just glisten. Divide between 6 plates, arrange the avocado slices between the leaves and put 3 eggs on each plate, perhaps 2 peeled and 1 unpeeled. Finally sprinkle warm croutons and the strips of smoked salmon.
Garnish with herb flowers and serve immediately.

Sausages with Dips

Seek out some top quality pork sausages for al fresco entertaining or barbecues and serve with a selection of dips. Many butchers throughout the city and county make their own delicious sausages, as well as providing a range of delicious meat - Good Food in Cork gives details on a regional basis, town by town – so seek out these treasures and support them.
450g (1lb) best quality pork sausages, eg Caherbeg (023-48474) or Gubbeen (028-28231)

Cook the sausages in the usual way.

Serve with:
Honey grainy mustard and rosemary dip
4 tablespoons local honey
4 tablespoons grainy mustard
1-2 teaspoons rosemary finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and put into a deep bowl ready for dipping.
Sweet chilli sauce mixed with squeezed lime juice
4 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Mix together to taste.

Barbecue sauce

Makes 225ml (8fl oz) approx. Can be used to marinate lamb, chicken, pork or sausages. Also yummy as a dip.
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
110g (4 ozs) finely chopped onion
1 x 400g (14 oz) tin of tomatoes
7 tablespoons tomato puree 
7 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons pure Irish honey
4 tablespoons Worcester sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion and sweat gently for 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and juice, cook for a further 4 or 5 minutes, season with salt, freshly ground pepper. Puree in a liquidiser or food processor, add the remainder of the ingredients and bring to the boil, simmer for 4 or 5 minutes. Use as a sauce or marinade.

Macroom Oatmeal Crackers

Makes 25-30 biscuits
1oz (25g) Macroom oatmeal
75g (3oz) brown wholemeal flour
115g (4oz) white flour, preferably unbleached
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
25g (1oz) butter
5-6 tablespoons cream

Mix the oatmeal, brown and white flour together and add the salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter and moisten with cream, enough to make a firm dough.

Roll out very thinly - one-sixteenth inch thick approx. Prick with a fork. Cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares. Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and quite crisp. Cool on a wire rack.

Raspberry Ice Cream with Fresh Raspberry Sauce
Still lots of wonderful fresh berries and currants around, they make divine ice-cream and sorbets.
Serves 6

450g (1lb) fresh raspberries
285g (10oz) sugar
150ml (5floz) water
1 teaspoon gelatine
600ml (1pint) whipped cream

Fresh Raspberry Sauce
225g (8oz) fresh raspberries
4 tablespoons sugar
8 tablespoons water
lemon juice - optional

fresh raspberries and fresh mint leaves

Puree and sieve the raspberries. Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil for 2 minutes, sponge the gelatine in 1 tablespoon water and dissolve in a saucepan of simmering water. Blend raspberry puree with the syrup, add a little to the gelatine and then mix the two together. Fold in whipped cream and freeze.

Meanwhile make the sauce, 

Make a syrup with sugar and water, cool and add about two-thirds to the raspberries. Liquidise and sieve, taste, sharpen with lemon juice if necessary or add more syrup as necessary.

To serve
Scoop out the ice cream, serve on chilled plates with the fresh raspberry sauce. Decorate with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

Foolproof Food

Sweet Corn with Butter and Sea Salt

Serves 4
Unless you grow your own or are fortunate to have a close neighbour who grown sweet corn you'll never be actually able to taste it at it's most exquisite. For perfection it should be cooked within minutes of being picked and put straight into the pot.

4 ears of sweet corn, for perfection just picked
3-4 ozs (85-110g) butter
sea salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to a fast rolling boil and add lots of salt. Peel the husks and silks off the sweet corn, trim the ends, put into the boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Serve immediately with butter and sea salt.

Hot Tips

Heirloom tomatoes - Chefs from San Francisco to Paris are crazy about heirloom tomatoes, the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall at the Midleton Farmers Market has a wide selection of home-grown heirloom tomatoes with names like Persimmon, Tibet Apple, Red Oxheart, Yellow Oxheart, Lily of the Valley, Black Princess, Gobstopper, Green Zebra………

Tipperary Slow Food will hold a picnic tomorrow 6th August at 3.00pm at Dovea Country House, Parkland and Arboretum at Dovea, Thurles. (2 miles from The Ragg off the Nenagh/Thurles Road) – bring any type of slow food for sharing – local slow food will also be provided. Booking essential – Tel Sharyn or Peter at Country Choice in Nenagh, Tel 067-32596, cost €6 per person or €15 per family. Will include guided tour of Ireland’s premier breeding stock of 11 bulls from traditional Irish to continental breeds. There will be a parade of bulls at 5.00pm.

New Coffee Shop and Deli in Cahir just opened – River House
River House (formerly The Crock of Gold) opposite Cahir Castle – serving local seasonal food creating a regional taste of Tipperary. Open 8-6 Monday to Friday and Saturday and Sunday 10-6 (Brunch all day at weekend) – wine by the glass, ‘Irish tapas’ – for reservations Tel 052-41951,  


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