ArchiveAugust 5, 2006

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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