ArchiveJanuary 2009

The Wine and Food of Ely Through the Seasons

Just before Christmas a book slipped onto the shelves here in Ireland without a particularly big fanfare – ‘the wine and food of ely through the seasons’

The team behind the hugely successful ely restaurants came together to produce what in fact turns out to be two books in one – a terrific cookbook and a must have wine reference.

Husband-and-wife team, Erik and Michelle Robson, had their ‘Eureka!’ moment while they were nibbling tapas on holiday in Seville. They were so taken with the experience of being able to enjoy a huge selection of great wines by the glass that they brought the formula home, to a Georgian townhouse on Ely Place. It proved to be a winning one. Ely winebar, which opened in 1999, now offers over 100 wines by the glass, as well as delicious, home cooked food, with all of the organic beef, pork and lamb, sourced from the family farm in the Burren, Co. Clare.
I love the pasture to plate approach, ely live this philosophy not just talk the talk. Four members of the Robson family are involved in the business which has continued to expand.  Eric’s sister, Sarah is head chef at ely and Michelle’s brother Eamon Moyles is also involved.

Within a short time after it opened, ely winebar set the standard across Ireland and beyond for its innovative approach to serving wine. The combination of an exciting and extensive wine list and beautifully simple food has earned ely a wide and loyal customer base and the respect of wine writers and connoisseurs across the land. The Robsons have since added two new licensed venues – ely chq at the IFSC and ely hq on Hanover Quay.

Now, the team at ely has pooled their expertise in this new cookbook. the wine and food of ely through the seasons has over 70 recipes, and better still Erik and Michelle have chosen two great wines suggestions to accompany each dish.

They touch on subjects such as choosing, storing and serving wine, how to know if a wine is corked, and advice on the best glasses to use and a comprehensive reference of grape varieties. There are little notes throughout the recipes which give handy hints.  Illustrated step-by-steps take a closer look at some trickier techniques, such as opening an oyster, or boning a chicken. There’s also some great stuff on creating a cheeseboard, serving punchy coffee and mixing cocktails – things that I have to say the people at ely know a thing or two about.

Recipes are grouped according to the season – an integral part of the ely experience – and range from winter comfort food such as chargrilled venison with red cabbage, prunes and roasted fig, to a summery cucumber and crab salad, or a dish of tender organic spring lamb. Desserts such as ely mess, espresso crème brûlée and Jamaican coffee pecan brownies will tempt even the most cautious and reluctant cook. Ely fans of which there are many will be thrilled to find the recipes for the ely fishcakes and burgers – the stuff of legend.

Here are some recipes to whet your appetite.
The preparation for this chunky, yet elegant broth may seem lengthy, but soaking beans requires no real effort. The end result is more than worth the time taken.

Sweet Potato Soup with poached oysters
What you need
4 medium/large sweet potatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 medium shallots
olive oil
1 bouquet garni
300ml white wine
1 litre vegetable stock
8 medium oysters
250ml cream
rock salt, black pepper
rocket essence for serving (see recipe Fool Proof Food)


What to do
Peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes, garlic and shallots. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a pot.
Add the vegetables and sauté with the bouquet garni for 10 minutes, without colouring, until al dente.
Add the white wine. Reduce by half and then add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, shuck the oysters. Take out the bouquet garni and remove the soup from the heat. Blitz the soup in a blender and add the cream. Season to taste.
Place 2 oysters in each soup bowl. Pour over the hot soup. The heat of the soup will slightly poach the oysters. Serve immediately, drizzled with the rocket essence, if liked. The quantities here are quite generous, so if you have any leftover soup, it will keep nicely in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Serves 4
A wine that works
A glass of Fino sherry is a very civilised accompaniment to most soups. Try the Campo de Guía by Gutierrez Colosia; it has a slightly fruitier style than most Finos.

Also try

Lustau Papirusa Manzanilla, which is a very dry, lighter Fino.

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

A great alternative to the Sunday roast. The more time given to its cooking, the greater the flavours and texture.

In red wine and juniper berries, with parsnip mash

What you need

6 lamb shanks, each about 400g
rock salt and black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 whole head garlic, halved
1 celery stick, quartered
1 bottle full-bodied red wine
12 lightly crushed juniper berries
sprig each of thyme and rosemary bay leaves

For the parsnip mash
4-5 medium parsnips
2 large baking potatoes
2 sprigs of thyme
knob of butter
milk, to cover (about 150ml)

What to do
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the lamb shanks. In a heavy ovenproof dish with high sides, fry the onions, carrots, garlic and celery until brown and caramelised. Add the lamb shanks. Pour the bottle of wine over the lamb. Add the juniper berries, herbs and a little salt and pepper. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 2 ½-3 hours.
Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the mash. Peel the parsnips and quarter them lengthways. Remove the core of the parsnip (the hard spine that runs through the centre of the parsnip). Peel the potatoes and cut to a similar size to your parsnip quarters. Place the potatoes and parsnips in a large pot with the thyme sprigs, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cook until tender and discard the thyme. Drain and mash with the butter. Warm the milk and add to the mash to create a creamy consistency. Season to taste. When the meat is soft and just falling off the bone, gently lift the shanks out and leave to one side. Strain the liquid, reserving the vegetables, and skim off the fat. Reduce the strained and skimmed gravy to about 300ml by gently simmering in the cooking dish. Taste and adjust the seasoning. To serve, put the mash in individual serving bowls and place a lamb shank on top, spooning over some of the gravy or jus. Place the reserved vegetables in a bowl and serve on the side.

A note for the cook
If you prefer, you can serve the lamb shanks with a selection of steamed vegetables, depending on what’s around. Toss them in butter and chopped herbs.

A wine that works
If you have been decadent enough to use a nice bottle of wine with this recipe, then that’s what you could drink. Either way, a northern Rhône would do very well for both tasks, especially the ‘No Wine’s Land’ from Domaine du Coulet. This is a medium-bodied Syrah that gets its name from the fact that the vineyard lies (unclaimed) between the appellations of Cornas and Saint Joseph.
There’s dark fruit on the nose and palate, blackcurrants, black olives and a touch of vanilla. The wine has freshness to it due to the high minerality of the soil.

Also try
Its big brother, the ‘Brise Cailloux’ from Cornas.
Ely Organic Burger

From the very beginning, the organic burger has been our best-selling dish. We use top-quality organic beef, not too lean or overly minced, so our burgers stay juicy and keep their flavour.

What you need

800g coarsely ground organic beef
1-2 shallots, diced
few sprigs parsley, chopped
1 large free-range egg, beaten
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
rock salt, black pepper
sunflower or olive oil for frying
200g ripe brie (at room temperature)
sliced into 4 salad leaves, to serve

Serves 4
What to do
In a large bowl, combine the beef, shallot, parsley, egg and breadcrumbs. Mix well and season. Divide the mixture into 4 and shape into burgers. Place the burgers on a lined tray and refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Heat a pan with a metal handle and seal the burgers on each side until brown. You could also seal them on a hot griddle. Transfer to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. If you don’t have a pan with a metal handle, preheat a roasting tray in the oven instead. Before serving, place a slice of brie on top of each burger and garnish with some salad.

A note for the cook
If you prefer smaller portions, simply divide the mix into 8 and reduce the cooking time. When you’re sealing the burgers, make sure the pan is hot to prevent sticking.
Feel free to add some horseradish sauce or your favourite relish to the pre-cooked mix. Other toppings could be caramelised onions with melted cheddar, a fried egg and bacon, foie gras or whole roast tomatoes. At ely, we serve the burger on a bed of homemade tomato relish and dress the plate with rocket essence

A wine that works
Crozes-Hermitage from Domaine Yann Chave, one of the northern Rhône’s up-and-coming producers, is a gorgeously big, smoky Syrah with youthful tannins and dry, dark fruit. Perfect for the simplicity of a great burger.

Also try

Hewitson ‘Ned & Henry’, a shiraz/mourvèdre blend from the Barossa Valley.


Fish Pie

The ultimate in wholesome comfort food.

What you need

1 medium onion, sliced
100-150g butter
50g flour
½ bottle unoaked dry white wine
550ml cream
250g salmon, filleted, skinned, fine-boned and chopped
250g cod, filleted, skinned, fine-boned and chopped
250g crab meat, fresh or frozen
3 large floury potatoes, such as roosters, peeled and chopped
rock salt, black pepper
50g dill, chopped
50g parsley, chopped
1 egg yolk

Serves 4-6
What to do
Start by sweating the onion in half the butter in a pan. When the onion is translucent, slowly add the flour to make a roux. Over a very low heat, stir in the white wine and 500ml of the cream. Add the fish and crab meat and cook for 12-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook the potatoes in plenty of boiling, salted water until soft. Drain and place back over a low heat covered with a dry, clean cloth for a few minutes. This will help to dry them out a little. Mash the potato with the remaining cream and butter, to taste. Season well with the salt and pepper and set aside. Add the dill and parsley to the pan with the fish and crab meat, and season with salt and pepper. Turn the seafood mix into a large, ovenproof dish and cover with the mash. Brush the top of the potato with the egg yolk.
Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the potato is golden brown on top.

A note for the cook
This is a great dish to cook for a casual weekend dinner or Sunday lunch. Best of all, most of the work can be done the night before.
Just work through the recipe right up to the point where you assemble the pie, then cover and put in the refrigerator overnight. All you have to do the next day is bake the pie for 15-20 minutes at 180°C.

A wine that works
The creaminess of this dish needs a wine with the ability to cut through the sauce while lifting the mild fish flavours. ‘José Pariente’ by Bodegas dos Victorias in Rueda, Spain, is made from the verdejo grape. It’s almost sauvignon-blanc-like in its freshness, with layers of fruit flavours and a ripe, citrus acidity.

Also try
Broglia ‘Tenuta la Meirana’ Gavi de Gavi.
Banana Pancakes
with brandy cream

A great dessert for when you just want to make use of storecupboard ingredients.
You can leave out the brandy cream if you are serving children.
What to do
Ideally, make the pancake batter the day before, or at least 1 hour in advance.
Sieve the flour into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and water together. Make a well in the centre of the flour, then slowly stir the egg mixture into the flour. Cover and keep in the fridge overnight. Heat a non-stick pan. Add a small cube of butter and allow to melt. Ladle in enough pancake mixture to make a circle that holds its shape. Turn as it cooks. Place each cooked pancake in a stack on a warmed plate and cover with a humid tea towel. Keep warm.
Meanwhile, peel the bananas and cut in half lengthways. Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan and cook the bananas until slightly golden. Remove the bananas, carefully pour the brandy into the pan to deglaze and add the cream. Slowly reduce by half.
Place 2 pieces of banana on top of each serving. Drizzle with the brandy cream.

A note for the cook
These are American-style pancakes – they use a thick batter which holds its shape. Making the batter in advance allows the gluten content of the flour to relax resulting in lighter, pancakes. DANGER! Brandy is highly flammable. Be very careful when you’re deglazing the pan, especially if
using gas. Reduce the flame first.

A wine that works
Lustau ‘East India’ has a lovely, creamy, caramelised nose; a sweet palate, with hints of dates and a touch of bitter chocolate. This blend of the palomino and pedro ximénez grapes gives a full, complex and long finish. A real treat that works well with the sweetened banana and the heady brandy.

Also try
A ten-year-old Tawny port such as Warre’s ‘Otima’.

What you need
200g plain flour
2 eggs
100ml milk
1½ tbsp water
100g butter, plus extra for frying pancakes
4 bananas
3-4 tbsp brandy
100ml cream

Serves 4
Warm Dark Chocolate Fondants
A melt-in-the-mouth dessert for chocoholics everywhere.

What you need
125g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, chopped
125g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the moulds
3 medium organic eggs
3 medium organic egg yolks
65g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder, plus a little extra for the moulds

To serve
vanilla ice-cream or
mango sorbet
thin dessert biscuits (optional)

Serves 6

What to do
Put the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof bowl and stand over a pan of simmering water. Leave to melt, stirring until smooth. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together.
Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold in the flour and cocoa until evenly combined. Lightly grease 6 x 7.5cm ramekins with butter and dust with cocoa. Stand them on a baking tray and pour in the chocolate mixture until about three-quarters full. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to set. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the ramekins into the oven for 10 minutes. The fondant should be spongy on the top but still soft in the middle – you can check by gently inserting a small knife and the chocolate mixture should run free. Serve the fondants warm with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or mango sorbet and a thin dessert biscuit.

A note for the cook
At ely, we like to serve this dessert with a refreshing mango coulis.

A wine that works

Banyuls, a ‘vin doux naturel’, or ‘naturally sweet wine’, from the southern limit of Roussillon in France, is one of the few wines that go well with chocolate. Made predominantly from grenache, the heady aromas of macerated red fruits give way to mocha flavours and a dry, powerful finish. The concentration achieved by the grenache, and the heat and time works well with the chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

Also try

A red Zinfandel, from California.

What you need
125g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, chopped
125g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing the moulds
3 medium organic eggs
3 medium organic egg yolks
65g caster sugar
100g plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder, plus a little extra for the moulds

To serve
vanilla ice-cream or
mango sorbet
thin dessert biscuits (optional)

Serves 6

Fool Proof Food

Rocket Essence

Use this lovely vibrant green essence to dress many dishes. It’s simple, tastes delicious.

What you need
110g rocket
150ml extra virgin olive oil

What to do

Blanch the rocket in a pan of boiling water for a few seconds, then immediately refresh in iced water. Add the olive oil and blitz in a blender for 10 seconds. Season to taste.

Hot Tip
Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year 2009
Entries for the Baileys Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year 2009 are now open. The competition, now in its 19th year, gives young chefs the opportunity to come into contact with the top professional chefs in the country and to compete against their peers for the prestigious title. The winner this year will receive a stage in the 2 Michelin Starred Pied a Terre restaurant in London under the tutelage of renowned Australian chef Shane Osborn, who will also be one the judges in this year’s competition. Closing date for entries is Wed 18 February. For information and Entry form contact Ruth Hegarty on 01-6779995 or

O’Connell’s Celebrate a Decade in Business

Restaurants all over the country are offering appetising deals to tempt us to cheer up and eat out. O’Connell’s restaurant – recently re-located to Ballsbridge Court Hotel (formerly The Berkely Court) on Landsdown Road, Dublin 4 – is celebrating a decade in business by offering a ten year anniversary dinner all year. Three courses for €25.00 – seven starters, seven main courses and seven of their irresistible ‘little pots of desserts’ to choose from. I’ve heard rave reviews – to book – 01 6655940
The Food Store – Mayo
For a range of quality local food including locally sourced fresh meat and a selection of ready-cooked food, pop into the The Food Store on the Ballyhaunis Road, Claremorris, Co Mayo. Telephone: 094 62091
Thrifty Tip

Buy a steamer, the multi-tiered bamboo steamer from ethnic shops looks great and are very inexpensive. You can cook several things simultaneously on different levels, which saves both time and energ

Kerry Pies – A Taste of History

I’ve just had a wonderful morning learning how to make traditional Listowel Mutton Pies from Mary Keane, wife of the late play-write John B. I was in the town for the annual Food Fair and of course strayed into the legendary family pub, I fell into lively company and we took to discussing food, local butcher turned bookie, Eric Brown regaled me with stories of the beef and kidney stew and the hare soup his mother used to make after the local coursing meeting. He taught me a new technique of skinning rabbits and slipped me a few tips for the next race meeting. Then who should come to the scene but the matriarch of the Keane dynasty, the doyenne of mutton pies herself, she being the winner of the Listowel Mutton pie competition in 2007. A spirited exchange took place between Mary, her son Billy, Jimmy Deenihan and several other punters about the traditional mutton pie. It was wonderful stuff, everyone had an opinion but what was most thrilling for me was the discovery that the pie tradition is still alive and well in Listowel, Co Kerry. I wished I’d had a video camera to record this exchange. I was still thinking about it when I woke the following morning, so on impulse I picked up the phone and asked Mary to show me herself – the worst she could do was say no if it didn’t suit her. She hadn’t even had a cup of tea when I rang but she said she’d do her best to find someone to stand behind the bar while she ran out to the butcher to get some mutton, “I have the self raising flour and the margarine but I’ll need a drop of buttermilk”
We met in the little kitchen behind the pub around 11am.  All the ingredients, plus salt, ground white pepper and a rolling pin were laid out on the table. Mary had already started to chop and was sharpening a knife on a fragment of whet stone as I arrived. She put me to work right away “Cut the meat cut into tiny cubes, not more than 1/8 of an inch” There was a mixture of shoulder, lap and shank in what we had. The chopped meat went into a green Tupperware bowl and was seasoned liberally with salt and finely ground white pepper. Next the pastry, Mary put about 1 ½ lbs self raising flour into a bowl, a pinch of salt and enough buttermilk to mix. It was more like bread dough really than a pastry. Mary gathered it all together then kneaded it for a minute or two, before rolling out to a thickness of about ¼ inch with the wooden rolling pin. Then she took a saucer out of the cupboard and used it as a template to cut out rounds of dough

Mary was taught how to make traditional pies by her mother in law, Hannah Purtill a member of Cumaunn na Mhán, who lived in a house in Church Street. One at a time each circle of dough was rolled into a thinner round. Mary put a generous half fistful of mutton into the centre, brushed the edges with buttermilk and then pressed another round onto the top, the edges were pressed together to seal and then pricked with a fork 4 or 5 times.
By now the oven had been preheated to 230°C (450ºF) so the pies were baked 3 or 4 at a time on a baking tray – we made 8 in all.
According to Mary, the tradition of pie making in Listowel came about because the women wanted to go to the races, they didn’t want to be deprived of their fun so they made a ‘blast of pies’ a few days before the famous Listowel races. The way Listowel mutton pies are eaten is unique.  The pastry is quite robust because of the small proportion of shortening to flour, t not at all fragile. A big pot of mutton broth is made from the bones with maybe an onion or two added. On race day, the pies are slipped, a couple at a time into the pot of strained broth. They simmer away gently for 15 or 20 minutes and are then served into wide shallow soup bowls with a ladle full of hot broth on top. They are eaten with a spoon and a fork and some extra salt and pepper if you like.

Mary told me that her pies were never quite right for John B, “he was always cribbing that the pastry was always a bit too thick or too thin, not like his mothers”, so eventually she said “Well you can try your hand at it yourself.” So for a whole day before race week in Listowel, in the little kitchen behind the pub, ‘I’d put a bib on him’ and we’d cut up the meat for the pies to have a supply for the pub for race week’. Can you imagine the chat and banter while the two of them made pies together – wish I’d been a fly on a wall?

Listowel Mutton Pies

Despite the fact that mutton is having a terrific revival in the UK it is still very difficult to find mutton in Ireland so use hogget instead (the name for more mature lamb between Christmas and Easter.)

Makes 8

450g (1lb) mutton or hogget–a mixture of neck, shank and scrag end buy a bit more to allow for trimming.

lots of salt and ground white pepper

900g (2lb) white flour
½ teaspoon salt
110g (1/4lb) Stork margarine or butter
850ml (1½ pints) buttermilk

Mutton Broth
2-2.5kg (4-6lb) mutton or hogget bones approximately
3-4 large onions, peeled and quartered
a couple of carrots, stalks of celery, parsley stalks, a couple of sprigs of thyme and pepper. OR a stock cube, which Mary occasionally uses.

First prepare the lamb. Trim off the fat and any gristle or membrane. Cut into tiny pieces (roughly 1/8 inch) and put into a shallow bowl. Season well with salt and ground white pepper (the kind that comes in a little cardboard shaker). Toss to make sure the meat is evenly coated.

Then, make the pastry. Put the flour into a bowl. Rub in the margarine or butter, add the buttermilk and mix with your hand to a firm dough, similar though drier than the texture of white soda bread. Mary kneaded the dough for 30 seconds to 1 minute to firm it up. Divide into two pieces. On a floured board, roll the pastry out as thinly as possible, to about 5mm (¼ inch). Mary used a saucer as a template and cut out 8 circles. Take one round and roll it out a little further to thin the pastry to approximately 2-3mm (1/8 inch).  Put a good half fistful of seasoned mutton or hogget into the centre. Brush the edge of the pastry with a little buttermilk and cover with another round that has also been rolled to 1/8-inch thickness. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork, then prick the top several times. 

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/gas mark 8. Meanwhile, continue to make the remainder of the pies. When the first four are ready, cook on a baking tray in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. Check occasionally and reverse the tray from back to front if necessary. Meanwhile, continue to make the pies until all the pastry and filling is used up. Cool the pies on a wire rack. At this point, they can be kept wrapped for several days or frozen for later use. 

Meanwhile make a simple mutton stock.
Put the mutton or hogget bones into a deep saucepan, add a couple of peeled chopped onions, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 1-1½ hours. Strain. Mary said she adds a couple of stock cubes to add extra flavour but if you would rather not, I suggest adding a few thickly sliced carrots and a few sticks of celery, a sprig or two of thyme, some parsley stalks and maybe a sliced white turnip, if available, to add extra flavour to the broth.
Strain and taste, add salt and pepper to correct the seasoning. Save until needed. The broth will keep in a fridge for several days or may be frozen.

To serve the mutton pies – bring the broth to the boil in a deep saucepan, drop a couple of meat pies into the broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Transfer each pie into a wide shallow soup bowl. Pour a ladle of mutton broth on top. Eat with a fork and spoon and extra pepper and salt, depending on your taste.

Kerry Pies

Mutton pies, made in Kerry, were served at the famous Puck Fair in Killorglin in August and taken up the hills when men were herding all day. The original hot water crust pastry was made with mutton fat but we have substituted butter for a really delicious crust.
Serves 6

1 lb (450g) boneless lamb or mutton (from shoulder or leg – keep bones for stock)
9 1/2 oz (275g) chopped onions
9 1/2 oz (275g) chopped carrots
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 pint (300ml/) mutton or lamb stock
2 tablespoons flour
salt and freshly ground pepper

Hot Water Crust Pastry

12 oz (340g) white flour
6 oz (170g) butter
4 fl oz (100ml) water
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with a pinch of salt to glaze

2 tins, 6 inches (15cm) in diameter, 1 1/2 inches (4cm) high or 1 x 9 inch (23cm) tin

Cut all surplus fat away, then cut the meat into small neat pieces about the size of a small sugar lump. Render down the scraps of fat in a hot, wide saucepan until the fat runs. Discard the pieces. Cut the vegetables into slightly smaller dice and toss them in the fat, leaving them to cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove the vegetables and toss the meat in the remaining fat over a high heat until the colour turns. Stir the flour into the meat. Cook gently for 2 minutes and blend in the stock gradually. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Return the vegetables to the pan with the parsley and thyme leaves, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and leave to simmer, covered. If using young lamb, 30 minutes will be sufficient; an older animal may take up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile make the pastry. Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Dice the butter, put it into a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil. Pour the liquid all at once into the flour and mix together quickly; beat until smooth. At first the pastry will be too soft to handle but as it cools it will become more workable. Roll out to 2.5mm/1/4 inch thick, to fit the tin or tins. (The pastry may be made into individual pies or one large pie.)

Fill the pastry-lined tins with the slightly cooled meat mixture. Make lids from the remaining pastry, brush the edges of the base with water and egg wash and put on the pastry lids, pinching them tightly together. Roll out the trimmings to make pastry leaves or twirls to decorate the tops of the pies, make a hole in the centre and egg wash carefully.

Bake the pie or pies at 200C/400F/regulo 6 for 40 minutes approx. Serve hot or cold

Kerry Yellow meal Griddle Bread

Mrs McGillycuddy of Caragh Lake in Kerry described this griddle bread to me. It dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Two different grades of yellow meal can still be bought in Foley’s grocery shop in Killorglin so obviously it is still used in this area.

Serves 4

 4ozs /110g yellow meal
good pinch salt
¼ teaspoon bread soda
6 fl ozs (175ml) buttermilk

griddle or 10 inch (25.5cm) non stick pan

Put the yellow meal, salt and sieved bread soda into a bowl, add the buttermilk and beat well with a wooden spoon.
Heat a griddle until hot.(I use a non stick pan.) Pour the  batter onto the griddle and cook until crisp and golden underneath about 4 or 5 minutes. Turn over carefully and continue to cook on the other side, cut into four. Serve warm with country butter. This is very good served with crispy bacon for breakfast or supper.
Pearl McGillycuddy’s All in One Buns

Pearl from Tralee gave me this recipe when she was a student the Ballymaloe Cookery School in 1990. I’ve never bothered to make buns by hand since Pearl gave me this recipe! It’s most depressing, because even though they only take seconds to make they are actually better than the ones I used to make laboriously by hand. These buns are made by the all in one method in a food processor.

Makes 24

8 ozs (225g) soft butter
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar
10 ozs (285g) white flour
4 eggs, preferably free range
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7.

Chop up the butter into small dice, it should be reasonably soft. Put all the ingredients into the food processor and whizz for about 30 seconds. Clear the sides down with a spatula and whizz again until the consistency is nice and creamy, 30 seconds approx. Put into greased and floured bun trays or paper cases and bake in the hot oven. Reduce the temperature to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5 as soon as they begin to rise.  Bake for 20 minutes approx. in total. Cool on a wire rack and decorate as desired.

Butterfly Buns

Cut the top off the buns, cut this piece in half and keep aside. Meanwhile put a little homemade raspberry jam and a blob or cream on to the bottom part of the bun. Replace the two little pieces, arranging them like wings. Dredge with icing sugar and serve immediately.

These buns may be iced with dark chocolate icing or coffee icing. They are also delicious, painted with raspberry jam or redcurrant jelly and dipped in coconut.

Traditional Kerry Apple Cake

Makes 25-30 pieces
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

2 cooking Bramley 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. In a large bowl, 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 another 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 apples are soft and the top is golden brown.  Dredge with soft brown sugar while hot, cool and serve.

Fool Proof Food  
A great icing for éclairs or Pearl’s All in One Buns
Dark Chocolate Icing
6 ozs (175g) icing sugar
2 oz (50g) cocoa powder
3 ozs (75g) butter
3 fl ozs (75ml) water
4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Measure the butter, water and sugar into a saucepan. Set over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted. Bring just to the boil, then draw off the heat and pour at once into the sifted ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and glossy. It will thicken as it cools.

Hot Tips

Slow Food Limerick for Babies & Toddlers
Mothers and fathers mark your calendars; Slow Food for Babies will take place at the Hunt Museum on Sunday February 1st 2009 at 3.00pm. This event will discuss how best to nourish our babies and toddlers to ensure that they are hale and hearty using good, seasonal and – where possible – locally produced food. 
The speakers are Julie Dargan, Nutritionist and Marianne Murphy, Psychotherapist.
For further information contact Josephine Page 087 9460490 or

Bees, Beekeeping and Biodiversity
Well known beekeeper Tim Rowe will talk about honeybees, their lives, importance, plight and the role of good beekeeping. Thursday 29th January 2009 at 7:30pm at the Crawford Art Gallery Café, entrance €6.00 includes tea or coffee (021) 4274415

Thrifty Tip  
Save on energy and fuel bills
Choose the right size saucepan for the purpose. The base of the pan should cover the hob or gas jet. If it’s smaller the spare heat is wasted. There is no point in using a huge pan to cook small quantities of food.

New York New York

New York was doing its best to be jolly when I was in Manhattan recently for a friend’s wedding. It’s difficult to get New Yorkers down; they have been through a lot and have managed to keep their spirits up despite the many challenges they have had to collectively face. Everyone seemed to be excited about Barrack Obama’s inauguration; however there was no concealing the number of Rental Space for sale.
It’s an ill wind as they say and for anyone who had the mind to shop, there’s tremendous value to be had (that’s if you really need it!) and the added feel good factor of doing your bit for the beleaguered economy.
Sales assistants in fear of losing their jobs from week to week thank you sincerely for your business. The restaurants too are definitely feeling the pinch although my cooking teacher friends tell me there is an increased demand for basic skills classes as more and more people decide to eat in and need the skills to make their own lunches to feed themselves and entertain their pals.
For those of us who love our food, New York is full of gems and there is solace in knowing that restaurants, where one had to beg for a table a couple of months ago are now very glad and grateful for the business in restaurants.
New York restaurant chefs also see themselves as providers not just of comfort food but of an injection of good cheer in the midst of the financial gloom and widespread redundancies.
Some of the newest gems are tiny, I particularly enjoyed Porchetta on the lower East side, chef owner Sara Jenkins cooks heritage pork from Hampshire hogs in the tiniest of spaces. It is juicy and succulent inside and has a bubbly, crisp crackling on the outside. There’s just enough room by the marble topped counter for about six people to queue. The pork is rubbed with thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic and sea salt before being roasted, long and slowly. Punters can choose from the eight item menu. The pork is chopped and served in a crusty roll with a choice of different greens. The quintessential New York lunch is then wrapped in butchers brown paper to take out.. A ‘side’ of roast potatoes with crunchy burnt bits is a must, one bite and you would think you were in an old Taverna in Florence or Rome. It was just drop-dead delicious and a brilliant concept.
Just around the corner was another little cubby hole, Abaco BraÅ›serie which sells powerful freshly roasted coffee, sublime hot chocolate and a selection of three or four cookies, again brilliant in its simplicity. The woman chef offers three or four choices from the ingredients she finds at the Farmers Market that morning, a soup, frittata, a salad…
Everyone is talking about local food, market ingredients and flocking to neighbourhood places offering good value for money.
Another well kept secret is the best hamburger joint in Manhattan; it’s in the most unlikely venue. Just inside the main entrance to the Parker Meridian hotel,, behind a heavy velvet curtain one finds the excellent aptly named Burger Joint. The choices are on a blackboard, you queue to give your order and wait your turn for a formica topped table – it was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten and believe me I am deeply wary of hamburger joints.
Any of Mario Batali’s restaurants are worth making a beeline for, including Lupa, Babbo, Esca, Casa Mono, Del Posto, Otto, and The Spotted Pig –, you can eat at the counter if you can’t get a table – even in this climate they are all still pretty busy. His food is mostly Italian and is honest and earthy. This is the place to go if you enjoy slow cooked dishes and lots of home cured charcuterie. All cutting edge chefs are doing their own curing and preserving – wonderful to see these skills being passed on. Mario Batali’s books are available from Amazon.  For sushi lovers the best is to be had at Sushi Yasuda on 204E 43rd Street. For those who want to combine some culture with shopping don’t miss The Museum of Modern Art – MOMA – and drop into the Bar at the Modern for lunch or a fantastic cocktail.
For another very New York lunch go to Momo Fuko Noodle bar in the East Village or the New Momo Fuko Kai – I so love David Chang’s food – great place to sample the new small plate craze.
If you are in New York over the weekend, don’t miss the Union Square Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Wrap up well and go early, it gives you a glimpse into what all the coolest New Yorkers are eating straight from the farms in upstate New York. Then go to Ino on Bedford and order a truffled egg toast for breakfast.
Now is the time to go to some top places that have been out of reach up to now, Per Se, voted number one for food and service by Zagats Guide, would be a good place to start. Daniel, Four Seasons and Blue Hill are all exceptional. Lunch is terrific value – same quality and food for a fraction of the price.

For great tapas try Tia Pol – there’s so much more, never enough meal times but you can pick up a picnic from of the great food shops, Dean & Deluca and Zabar’s. Last time I bought a sublime collection of treats from upstairs in the Time Warner building to eat on the plane – I was the envy of everyone around me. Here are some treats that I have enjoyed from Mario Batali’s book Molto Italiano to cheer us up on these frosty winter days.
Look out for Mario’s fantastic TV series ‘Spain on the Road Again’ with Gwyneth Paltrow 

Porchetta 110E 7th Street, New York 00 1 212 7772151
Contact details for Mario Batali’s restaurants
Daniel 60E 65th Street, New York.
Four Seasons 99E 52 Street (Park Avenue)
Blue Hill 75 Washington Pl, New York.
Mario Batali – Shrimp from the Devil Priest

Gamberoni fra Diavolo
This “guido” red sauce restaurant dish has probably never been served anywhere in Italy, but I have tasted thousands of versions in Little Italys all across the United States. Usually it is served with the option of “linguine, fettucine, bucatini, or capellini,” but I like it as a main course, after a light antipasto and a plate of spaghetti with bottarga. Italians serve most of their shellfish head and shell on, but you could use peeled shrimp here as well.
Makes 4 servings
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
2 cups basic tomato sauce
1 cup dry white wine
20 large shrimp, head on, split down the back and deveined
4 1 inch-thick slices rustic peasant bread
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
¼ cup toasted bread crumbs
Preheat the broiler. In a 12 inch sauté pan, heat ¼ cup of the oil over a medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapenos and cook until softened , about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, tomato sauce and wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.
Lay the shrimp in the sauce and simmer until just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the bread on a baking sheet under the broiler, turning once. Place a slice of toasted bread in the centre of each four plates.
Place 5 shrimp on each piece of toast, and spoon the sauce over them. Sprinkle with marjoram leaves and bread crumbs, drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup oil and serve.
Mario Batali’s Lamb Shanks with Oranges and Olives

Stinco di Agnello con Aranci d Olive
I am certain that the combination of oranges and olives must be part of my primordial stew. I never tire of the combination – in fact, I am forever thinking of new variations on their life together.
Makes 4 Servings
4 large meaty lamb shanks, rinsed and patted dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red onions cut into ¼ inch dice
12 cloves garlic
1 navel orange, cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup Gaeta olives
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup basic tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
zest of one navel orange
Preheat the oven to 375°F
Season the shanks liberally with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Reduce the heat and sear the shanks, turning occasionally, until dark golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic and orange wedges to the pot and cook until the garlic is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rosemary, olives, wine, tomato sauce, and stock and bring to the boil.
Replace the lamb shanks in the pot and return to the boil. Cover tightly, place in the oven and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours, until the meat is fork-tender.
Allow the shanks to rest for 10 minutes in the sauce, then transfer to warmed plates, sprinkle with zest and serve.

Mario Batali – Basic Tomato Sauce

Makes 4 cups

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, cut into ¼ in dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
½ medium carrot, finely shredded
2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, with their juice and bring to the boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. This sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for 6 months. 
Mario Batali – Clementines with Balsamic Vinegar and Pepper

Mandarini al Aceto Balsamico

My grandma always sent us a couple of boxes of clementines with the Christmas cookies, and they were always one of the quickest things to go on Christmas morning as we unwrapped the presents. Now, while I still love them right out of the peel, I also love the combination of real aceto balsamico and black pepper for an adult take on their simplicity.
Makes 4 servings
8 clementines (or other small seedless citrus fruit) peeled and segmented
2 tablespoons best-quality aged Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Course black pepper
In a large bowl, toss the clementines, vinegar and sugar together well
Divide the fruit among four martini glasses of small bowls, being sure to get all the vinegar out of the bowl. Crack fresh pepper over the top and serve.

Mario Batali – Lemon Sponge Cake with Pear Marmalade

Ciambella con le Pere

The cakes in the family of ring-shaped ciambelle are more often served in the late afternoon, when nonna needs a sip of sweet wine before the evening apertivo.
Makes 6 servings

2 ½ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs
grated zest of 6 lemons
½ cup while milk
¾ cup pear marmalade
confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
In a medium bowl, toss the flour, salt and baking powder with a fork to mix well.
In a large bowl, beat the olive oil and sugar together with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Put the dry ingredients in a sifter and sift about one third onto the egg mixture. Add the lemon zest and fold in the flour and zest, then stir in about one third of the milk. Add the remaining flour and milk in two additions each, blending well.
Turn the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cakes are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans and spring back when pressed lightly in the centre with a finger. Turn the cakes out onto a rack and invert into another rack to cool.
To assemble, place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread the marmalade over the top. Place the second later on top and gently press the layers together. Sprinkle the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Pear Marmalade

Marmellata di Pere

Makes 3 cups

2 pounds firm un-ripe pears, peeled cored and chopped into small pieces.
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 cloves
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, mix the pears, sugar and cloves together. Cover with a  kitchen towel and set aside for at least 3 hours to let the juices start to run.
2. Transfer the pears and the juice to a large nonreactive saucepan, bring to the a simmer, and simmer gently stirring frequently, with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking until the pears are tender. Remove from the heat, stir in the pepper, remove the cloves and allow to cool. (The extra marmalade can be covered and refrigerated for at least a week)

Fool Proof Food

Ballymaloe Chicken Liver Pate

Serves 10-12 depending on how it is served.

This recipe has certainly stood the test of time; it has been our pâté maison at Ballymaloe since the opening of the restaurant in 1965.  It is served in many different ways: its success depends upon being generous with good Irish butter.

225g (8oz) fresh organic chicken livers
2 tablespoons brandy
200-300g butter (depending on how strong the chicken livers are)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large clove garlic, crushed
freshly ground pepper

clarified butter to seal the top

Wash the livers and remove any membrane or green tinged bits.
Melt a little butter in a frying pan; when the butter foams add in the livers and cook over a gentle heat.  Be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty; all trace of pink should be gone.   Put the livers through a sieve or into a food processor.  De-glaze the pan with brandy, allow to flame, add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves and then scrape off with a spatula and add to the livers.  Puree for a few seconds.  Allow to cool.

Add 225g (8oz) butter and fresh thyme leaves. Puree until smooth.  Season carefully, taste and add more butter, cut into cubes if necessary.

This pate should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. Put into pots or into one large terrine. Knock out any air bubbles.

Clarify some butter and run a little over the top of the pate to seal.
Serve with hot toast or crusty bread.   This pate will keep for 4 or 5 days in a refrigerator. It is essential to cover chicken liver pate with a layer of clarified or even just melted butter, otherwise the pate will oxidize and become bitter in taste and grey in colour.
Hot Tips

Vegetable Growing Course Barry’s Nurseries

Register for this course at their open day Sunday 25th January 2009. For details (086) 814 1133 

Have Fun Learning Cooking Skills

Another series of Ballymaloe Basics starts on Wednesday 21st January for eight weeks. €50.00 per class or €375.00 for eight.  Learn how to cook entire menus, starters, main courses and desserts. Booking essential, phone (021) 4646 785 or book online

East Cork Tourism

For upcoming events

Artisan Charcuterer

Frank Krawczyk is doing a range of delicious sausages and a frying chorizo to add to his cured meat range. Available at the Schull and Midleton Farmers Markets. Telelphone: 028 28579

Thrify Tip

Plan food that will last for more than one meal – roast organic chicken costs a lot more than chicken fillets but one can make several meals from it, terrific stock from the carcass and giblets plus a little chicken liver pate from the liver.

Sam Stern – Learn from the Student

Students come from all over the world to the Ballymaloe Cookery School. It’s a lovely mixture of ages, nationalities and backgrounds – this term eight countries are represented. It’s always interesting to meet the new batch. Last term we had the usual cosmopolitan mix, some had never cooked before, others had dabbled in the kitchen, one or two were chefs who had missed some of the basics and wanted to hone their skills.

They got started and settled in and I gradually became familiar with everyone’s names – one of the young lads was called Sam Stern – why did that ring a bell? Wasn’t sure         until I picked up a cook-book at Heathrow airport and there was Sam smiling from the cover. He had been with us for five or six weeks by then and never breathed a word that not only had written four best selling cook books but also did a TV series with a big fan base check out


He wrote his first book in 2004 at the age of thirteen with the support and encouragement of his mum, Susan Stern – a writer, teacher and voice coach to the stars.

Sam’s books are written for young lads and ladettes like himself who love to cook or would love to be able to rustle up a spontaneous pasta or delicious thrifty nosh with the occasional treat for themselves and their mates.

His latest book ‘Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook’ is a little gem which should not be reserved for students alone – the first few pages are full of thrifty tips and brilliant nutritional advice. Keeping fit is a great motivation. If you’re into sport, training, or just want to feel good about the way you look, cooking’s key to sorting energy and performance. Tailor your menu to your physical needs and you can trust that what you’re eating is fit for purpose – e.g. carbs for energy (eat pasta), protein for muscle (get pork or tofu). Same goes for exams, work etc. Eating the right stuff (iron, protein, omega 3s, and vitamins) gives you the focus you need but hey, do it in style with some great home-cooked tastes and maximise the pleasure. There are lots of savvy and smart shopping tips, advice on planning ahead, a basic store cupboard, how to source free food, energy and cash saving ideas, making the most of your food and basic techniques. The first few pages are worth the price of the book alone. But there are over 200 cracking recipes which are categorised into:

£ Skint/ saving, ££ Average, £££ Flush / celebration. Veggie options and fast to cook are also highlighted.

A little gem, not only as a present for young people but for all the rest of us as well.


Bacon, Cheese and Potato Tartiflette


All your favourite basics on meltingly hot and softly gorgeous form. An easy one-pan classic. There’s one rule – don’t rush it.


Feeds 2 – 3 – £


olive oil

4 rashers good bacon, chopped

bit of butter

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

450g (1lb) potatoes, waxy style are best (Charlotte, Wilja) peeled weight

fresh or dried thyme

110g (4oz) Gruyere/Cheddar



Heat oil in large frying or sauté pan. Fry bacon ‘til just crispy. Remove. Add butter, Fry onion, garlic gently for 10 till softened and just colouring.
Meantime, slice potatoes very thinly for speedy, even cooking. Add to pan with the bacon, onion, garlic. Sprinkle thyme. Cover.
Leave pan on low heat for 15 – 20 minutes or till spuds or ‘til spuds are soft. A knife should pass through easily. Grate/slice cheese over top.
Replace lid. Cook for a few minutes more till cheese has melted. Scrummy, good with a sharp salad.


My All-Time Favourite Char Sui Pork


Pork fillet’s a great lean meat for soaking up sweet Chinese flavours. Marinate overnight or do it in the moment. Veggies: try this marinade with tofu (pan fry it).


Feeds – 4 – ££


2 x 450g/1lb pieces pork fillet




2 tbsps runny honey

2 tbsps soy sauce

2 tbsps hoisin sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

pinch of five-spice powder


eat with: stir fry, rice, noodles



Stick the pork fillets into the mixed marinade. Turn. Leave for as long as you have. Pre-heat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Lay foil in roasting tin. Sit grill rack on top.
Roast meat on rack for 20 minutes or ‘til cooked through. Brush with marinade occasionally. Remove. Rest it in a warm place for 5 minutes.

You can

Eat cold in a lunch box to go with noodle salad
Slice up Chinese pancakes with hoisin sauce, cucumber sticks, spring onion

Skint Lentils, Rice and Lovely Sticky Onions


So simple – caramelised onions lift earthy tasting lentils and rice to a different level, surprisingly gorgeous. A top skint number. You can top with a sliced hard-boiled egg and yogurt. Great with a tomato and onion salad.


Feeds 3 – 4 – £


1 very large peeled onion, very thinly sliced

1-2 tbsps olive oil

1.2 litres/2 pints water

225g/8oz brown lentils

50g/2oz basmati/long-grain rice

salt and black pepper



Fry onion very gently in olive oil over low heat ‘til it caramelises (don’t let it burn). This could take 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile boil water in a pan. Add lentils. Cook for 20-25 minutes or ‘til almost tender. Add washed rice.
Cook rice and lentils for another 10 minutes or ‘til tender and water is absorbed. Drain is a colander if this doesn’t happen.
Leave covered with a tea towel for 5 minutes. Tip on a plate Stir in most of the onions leaving a good few on top. Season.

You can: use green lentils: add rice sooner as green lentils cook faster.


Hot Sticky Chicken Rice


Teriyaki your chicken. It makes great sticky finger food. Get your chopsticks into the rice bowl. Also great cold on noodle or rice salad.


Feeds 3-4 – ££


Teriyaki Sauce


4 tbsps soy sauce

1 ½ tbsps Chinese rice wine

2 tbsbs rice vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

¾ in piece fresh ginger, grated or chopped

few drops sesame oil


Kikkoman’s Teriyaki Marinade


8 chicken thighs

225g/8oz basmati or long grain rice

pinch salt


Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Mix teriyaki sauce ingredients.
Simmer gently 5-1 minutes in a small pan. Remove. Top two thirds into a bowl for the marinade. Save the rest to drizzle at end.
Prep chicken: pull skin off. Leave the bone in (holds together better and tastes sweeter)
Spread foil on baking tray/shallow roasting tin (stops sauce baking on.) Brush meat with marinade. Sit on foil in single layer. Slap in oven.
Brush with marinade every 5 minutes for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove.
Meantime, cook washed rice as basic (for brown start earlier)
Preheat medium grill. Grill chicken 5 minutes ‘til sticky brown but white inside. Leave it to relax. Drain rice. Cover with a cloth for 3 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Pile rice into bowls. Top with chicken. Drizzle with saved one-third of marinade.

You can: Marinate chopped chicken breast in teriyaki for 30 minutes. Thread on skewers. Grill turning and brushing, for 5 – 7 minutes or ‘til cooked white through. Sit it on rice. Gorgeous.


Spanish Style Chorizo and Potato Complete Meal Deal



Don’t be thinking soup can’t fill you up. This bad-boy bowlful’s a complete meal deal. Spicy chorizo gets it hot and kicking. Potato and veg sort out layers of flavour…


Feeds 3-4 – ££


110g/4oz chorizo sausage, skinned, sliced

drizzle of olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 -3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 large floury old potatoes, peeled cut into large bite size bits


4 -5 cabbage leaves, finely shredded

1 x 400g/14oz can plum tomatoes, drained

salt and black pepper


Gently fry the chorizo in a bit of oil in a medium saucepan for 2–3 minutes. Remove the chorizo and set aside.
Add the onion, garlic and salt to the same pan. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes ‘til soft not coloured. Add the potatoes with enough water to cover without swamping. Increase the heat. Boil for 30 seconds.
Reduce heat. Simmer everything very gently for 10 minutes.
Slap in cabbage, chorizo, drained tomatoes with just enough extra water to cover everything. Simmer very gently on low heat for 15 minutes, ‘til potatoes are well soft and broth fully flavoured.
Add a bit of water if needed. Taste. Adjust seasoning.

You can: add a few cannellini beans, chick peas, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, add a pinch of smoked paprika and chopped parsley.



Onion Bhajis with Raita




Makes 12 – £


450g/1lb onions, halved very thinly sliced, crescent moon style

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

1tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

2 green chillies, de seeded, very finely chopped

fresh coriander, chopped

60g/2 ½ oz gram flour (from Indian/health food stores)

½ tsp baking powder

sunflower/groundnut oil



Few tbsps plain yogurt

length of cucumber peeled, diced

1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)


1 serving


1 mango peeled, diced

bit of red onion, diced

½ small red chilli, de seeded, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

½ tsp caster sugar

fresh coriander

salt and pepper


Sprinkle onion slices with salt in colander or sieve. Leave 30 minutes to draw out moisture.
Rinse under running water. Squeeze. Dry very well in tea towel. Transfer to bowl.
Separately, mix cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, chillies, fresh coriander, gram flour, baking powder. Mix in with onions. 
Shape into bhajis. Squeeze well into 12 spiky balls.
Heat 8cm/3in oil in wok, deep saucepan or frying pan. When hot enough to crisp a breadcrumb, fry 4 bhajis at a time, carefully turning ‘til cooked, browned and golden. Drain a kitchen roll.
To make raita, tip yogurt into a bowl and mis with cucumber and garlic.

Mango Chutney


Chuck the lot into a bowl. Taste for seasoning.
Leave for one hour or eat now.

You can: team this with griddled fresh tuna. Cheat, use Sharwoods.


Fridge-Bake Tiffin


Don’t have an oven or saving on the bills? Make this one…


Makes 12 – ££


200g/7oz chocolate digestive biscuits

50g/2oz digestive biscuits

110g/4oz raisins

110g/4oz glace cherries

110g/4oz butter

10g/1/2 oz sugar

4 tbsps golden syrup

3 tbsps cocoa powder


Bash biscuits into varied-size crumbs/bits. Add raisins, cherries.
Melt butter, sugar, syrup, cocoa over a low heat
Stir into biscuit/fruit mix. Tip into 18×30.5cm/7x11in tin. Press mix down as evenly as you can.
Set in fridge. Mark into 12. Prise out with a spatula.

You can: add seeds, nuts etc.




East Cork Slow Food up Coming Events


Saturday 17th January, Slow Food East Cork is hosting a Celebration of Irish Pork. Learn about how the pigs at Ballymaloe Cookery School range freely, foraging for food. Watch a demonstration on how to make and link several types of homemade sausages with the opportunity to try it ourselves. Enjoy a sandwich from the pig spit roast too – €30.00 members and €40.00 non-members. 021 4646 785

The Four Rivers Convivium event promoting local pig farmers, will be held in the Arlington Lodge Hotel on the week-end of the 17th of January…€30 for Slow Food members €35 for non members.

For more details on these and other events
Thrifty Tip
Don’t shop when you are hungry – you will spend more…

If possible shop at the end of the day when supermarkets reduce some prices. Ask yourself, do you really need it – Mexican blackberries, American raspberries, and Chilean asparagus. Local stuff may be cheaper and uses less air miles.


Slow Cooking

For the past decade virtually every cook book, food magazine and cookery article I picked up was concentrating on meals in minutes and assuring us that we could whip up delicious food in a flash. Well it is indeed possible provided you maintain a well stocked larder if one maintains a well stocked larder and concentrate on prime cuts of meat and spanking fresh fish. A beautiful piece of fresh catch or a prime steak will be off the pan grill in a matter of minutes. Sizzling herb butter or a little salsa and a green salad is all that’s needed to create a feast. Mind you most Irish people would be looking for a spud in come shape or form to complete the meal. The net result of the emphasis on fast food is many people have forgotten about the virtues of slow cooking. The word slow is quite enough for most peoples eyes to glaze over but don’t be put off, slow cooking takes time but not your time. In these challenging times it is well worth relearning the skills not least because when there’s a wintery feel to the air a slow cooked stew is one of the few foods that really hit the spot. One can transform cheap cuts of meat into something fit for a king.
Root vegetables are at their best right now but don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s better to buy them washed. They have immeasurably more flavour and will keep longer if you buy them still covered with clay at your local shop or Farmers market. Start the stew or casserole with nice big chunks of fat streaky bacon, the fatter it is the less expensive it will be and the better the flavour. When the bacon crisps and the fat renders out keep it aside while the chunks of onions are cooked slowly at a low temperature until they turn pale amber and the kitchen fills with the scent of warm sugar, the other vegetables can then be added. The chunks of meat also need to be browned gently on all sides on a separate pan and added to the pot or casserole. Don’t forget to deglaze the pan with a little stock or a dash of wine to dissolve the caramelised meat juices. It’s all about building up layers of flavour. Dried wild mushrooms also add a delicious woodsy flavour to the stew or casserole. Root vegetables are the cheapest way to introduce an earthy sweetness and of course lots of bulk.
The other brilliant bonus of mastering the slow cooking technique is that it can be fitted into your work schedule, a big pot of shin of beef or shoulder of venison will cook gently in the coolest oven. If you pop it in as you leave for work in the morning, it will be meltingly tender on your return in the evening.
Here are a few of my favourite slow cooked meals. Serve them with a great big bowl of fluffy mash, scallion champ or colcannon.

Venison Stew

Shoulder of  venison is best for slow cooking, allow time for marinating, and remember that some item like fat salt pork or fat green bacon is essential either for cooking in with the meat (stew) or for larding (roasting or braising), unless the meat has been well hung.

Serves 8

3 lbs (1.3kg) shoulder of venison, trimmed and diced – 1½ inches/4cm


10-12 fl ozs (300-350ml) red wine
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tablespoons brandy
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, lightly crushed black pepper
bouquet garni
seasoned flour


8 ozs (225g) fat salt pork or green streaky bacon, diced
2 tablespoons) olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
1 large clove garlic, crushed
¾ pint (450ml) beef or venison stock
bouquet garni
24 small mushrooms, preferably wild ones
extra butter
lemon juice or red currant jelly
salt, pepper sugar

Season the venison well and soak in the marinade ingredients for 24-48 hours. Drain the meat well, pat it dry on kitchen paper and turn in seasoned flour.
Meanwhile, brown the pork or bacon in olive oil in a frying pan cooking it slowly at first to persuade the fat to run, then raising the heat. Transfer to a casserole.
In the fat, brown the venison and then the onion, carrot and garlic, do all this in batches, transferring each one to the casserole. Do not overheat or the fat will burn. Pour off any surplus fat, deglaze the pan with the strained marinade and pour over the venison. Heat up enough stock to cover the items in the casserole and pour it over them. Put in the bouquet garni, bring to a gentle simmer, either on top of the stove or in the oven, preheated to 150ºC/300ºF/regulo 2 cover closely and leave until the venison is tender.
Test after 1½  hours, but allow 2½ hours cooking time. For best results, it is wise to cook this kind of dish one day and then reheat the next; this improves the flavour and gives you a chance to make sure that the venison is tender.
Saute the sliced mushrooms in butter. Season with salt and pepper and add to the stew.
Finally taste the venison sauce, it will need seasoning and perhaps a little sharpening, use a spot of raspberry vinegar or lemon juice. It also sometimes benefits from a pinch of sugar or some redcurrant jelly (be careful not to use too much.)
Serve with baked potatoes and perhaps a green vegetable: eg. brussels sprouts, calabrese or cabbage.
Shin of Beef and Oxtail Stew

Serves 6

In season: all year, but best in Autumn and Winter
Oxtail makes an extraordinary rich and flavoursome winter stew, considering how cheap it is. This is another humble dish, which has recently been resurrected by trendy chefs who are capitalizing on their customer’s nostalgic craving for their Gran’s cooking.

2 whole oxtails
450g(1lb) shin of beef or stewing beef (cut into 1 1/2 inch (4cm) cubes)                                                                110g (4oz) streaky bacon
30g (1oz) beef dripping or 2 tablespoons olive oil
225g (8oz) finely chopped onion
225g (8oz) carrots, cut into 2cm (3/4 inch/2cm) cubes
55g (2oz) chopped celery
1 tablespoon Tomato Puree
1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of thyme and parsley stalks
salt and freshly ground pepper
150ml (1/4 pint) red wine
450ml (3/4 pint) homemade beef stock or 

600ml (1 pint) all beef stock                                                                                       

170g (6oz) mushrooms (sliced)                                                                                    

15g (1/2oz) roux (see recipe)                                                                                           

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

First cut the oxtail into pieces through the natural joints – the joints are made of cartilage so you won’t need a saw.  If this seems like too much of a challenge, ask your butcher to disjoint the oxtail for you.

Cut the bacon into 1 inch (2.5cm) cube.      
Heat the dripping or olive oil in a frying pan, add the bacon and sauté for 1-2 minutes, add the vegetables, cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer into a casserole. Add the beef and oxtail pieces to the pan, a few at a time and continue to cook until the meat is beginning to brown.  Add to the casserole. Add the wine and a 1/4 pint (1/2 cup) of stock to the pan.  Bring to the boil and use a whisk to dissolve the caramelised meat juices form the pan, bring to the boil.  Add to the casserole with the herbs, stock and tomato puree. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and cook either on top of the stove or in a preheated oven 160°C/325°F/regulo3 very gently for 2-3 hours, or until the oxtail and vegetables are very tender.

Meanwhile cook the sliced mushrooms in a hot frying pan in a little butter for 2-3 minutes. Stir into the oxtail stew and cook for about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef and oxtail to a hot serving dish and keep warm. Remove and discard the bay leaves, thyme and parsley stalks.

 Bring the liquid back the boil, whisk in a little roux and cook until slightly thickened. Add back in the meat and chopped parsley.  Bring to the boil, taste and correct the seasoning.  Serve in the hot serving dish with lots of champ or colcannon.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Haricot Beans, Tomato and lots of fresh Herbs

Lamb shanks can be from the back leg or the shoulder.  Choose one or the other so they cook evenly, the latter takes much longer to cook.  Gutsy herbs like rosemary or thyme are a brilliant accompaniment as are beans, lentils or a robust mash with added root vegetables or kale.

Serves 8

8 lamb shanks
8 small sprigs of rosemary
8 slivers garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
25g (1 oz) goose fat, duck fat or olive oil
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, bruised
150ml (5fl oz) good red wine
150ml (5fl oz) chicken or lamb stock
1 sprig of thyme
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 strips of dried orange peel

Haricot Beans and Tomatoes

225g (8oz) streaky bacon, cut into lardons and blanched
Tomato Fondue
2 x 400g (14oz) tin haricot beans, drained or cannellini beans


Lots of flat parsley, coriander, mint and chives.

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/gas mark 2.

Make an incision in each lamb shank and insert a sprig of rosemary or thyme and a sliver of garlic. Season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauté pan or casserole and sauté the meat in it until well browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan. Add the carrots, celery, leek, onion and garlic and cook over a high heat until it starts to brown. Add the red wine to the pan and bring to the boil and bubble for a minute or two. Add the chicken stock, herbs and orange peel to the pan, then arrange the lamb shanks on top, bones pointing upwards. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours depending on size.  The meat should be almost falling off the bones.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and brown the bacon in it until golden and fully cooked, add the tomato fondue and the haricot beans.  Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

When the lamb has finished cooking, remove the lamb shanks to a deep wide serving dish.  Strain the liquid and press to extract all the delicious juices.  Discard the vegetables which have by now contributed their flavour.  Return the juices to the pan and cook to reduce and concentrate.  Meanwhile, reheat the beans.  Add the concentrated juices.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Spoon the beans over the lamb shanks and scatter with a fistful of roughly chopped herbs.
Tomato Fondue

Tomato fondue is one of our great convertibles, it has a number of uses, we serve it as a vegetable or a sauce for pasta, filling for omelettes, topping for pizza.

Serves 6 approximately

230g (8ozs) sliced onions
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1.8 kg (4lbs) very ripe tomatoes in Summer, or 4 1/2 tins (x 28oz) of tomatoes in Winter, but peel before using
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste
2 tablespoons of any of the following;
 freshly chopped mint, thyme, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram or torn basil

Heat the oil in a non-reactive saucepan.  Add the sliced onions and garlic toss until coated, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured. It is vital for the success of this dish that the onions are completely soft before the tomatoes are added.  Slice the fresh tomatoes or tinned and add with all the juice to the onions.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar (tinned tomatoes need lots of sugar because of their high acidity).  Add a generous sprinkling of herbs. Cook uncovered for just 10-20 minutes more, or until the tomato softens.  Cook fresh tomatoes for a shorter time to preserve the lively fresh flavour.  Tinned tomatoes need to be cooked for longer depending on whether one wants to use the fondue as a vegetable, sauce or filling. Note: A few drops of Balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking greatly enhances the flavour.
Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork with Fennel Seeds

Serves 8 – 10

Shoulder of pork is best for this long slow cooking method, as the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away, try to find a traditional breed, e.g. Gloucester Old Spot, Saddleback, Black Berkshire or Middle White.  We also slow roast shoulder of lamb which is succulent and juicy.

1 whole shoulder of free-range pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25 kg (7-8 lb) in weight
8 garlic cloves, peeled
30 g (1 oz) fennel seeds
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8.

 Using a small sharp knife, score the rind of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5 mm (1/4’’) wide.

Peel and crush the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste.  Push this mixture into the cuts, over the rind and on the surface of the meat.  Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to blister and brown.  Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/325ºF/Gas 3, and leave the meat to roast for 5-6 hours or more until
it is completely soft under the crisp skin.  The meat will give way and will almost fall off the bone.  Serve each person some crisp skin and some chunks of meat cut from different parts of the shoulder.  

Loin and streaky pork is also delicious cooked in this way but it will take a shorter cooking time.

Fool Proof Food

Scallion Champ

Serves 4-6

A bowl of mashed potatoes flecked with green scallions and a blob of butter melting in the centre is ‘comfort’ food at its best.

1.5kg (3lb) 6-8 unpeeled ‘old’ potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
110g (4oz) chopped scallions or spring onions (use the bulb and green stem) or 45g
chopped chives
350ml (10-12fl oz) milk
50-110g (2-4oz) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their jackets.

Chop finely the scallions or spring onions or chopped chives.  Cover with cold milk and bring slowly to the boil.  Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat and leave to infuse.  Peel and mash the freshly boiled potatoes and while hot, mix with the boiling milk and onions, beat in the butter.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Serve in 1 large or 6 individual bowls with a knob of butter melting in the centre.  Scallion mash may be put aside and reheated later in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.  Cover with tin foil while it reheats so that it doesn’t get a skin.

Thrifty Tip

Look for a slow cooker in the New Year sales. They are an excellent investment with a brilliant safety record. You can make foolproof stews and ragus. Put the ingredients into the pot first thing in the morning and when you get home from work just lift the lid, inhale the aroma and enjoy the meltingly tender feast.

Hot Tips

Tannery Cookery School
Fans of Paul Flynn of the Tannery restaurant in Dungarvan (of which I certainly am one) will be delighted to hear that his long awaited Tannery Cookery School is now open. For details or tel 058 45420 / email:


Good Things Café and Cookery School

The Good Things Café and Cookery School in Durrus, west Cork has also published its enticing list of courses for 2009. 027 61426

Slow Food

The Slow Food Movement is a global eco-gastronomy organisation whose philosophy is influencing government food policy in 153 countries world wide. A gift membership is a perfect present for anyone interested in good food and food production issues  or tel 021 4646 785


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