ArchiveAugust 2009

A Few Days in Bordeaux

We had a lovely invitation to spend a few days in the Bordeaux area with some French friends whose family have been making wine in the Pessac-Leognan, St Emilion, Margaux and Entre-deux-mers area since 1880.
We flew to Paris and then took a relaxing three hour train journey to Libourne. It’s been at least 20 years since my last visit to Bordeaux where everyone ‘lives, breathes and sleeps’ wine. The landscape is covered with row after row of meticulously pruned vines sometimes with a red rose bush planted at the end. Originally this was used as an early indication of mildew which tended to attack the roses before the vines.
There are many charming wine villages and chateaux names that are familiar from restaurant wine lists. Many of the grandest date back to the 18th Century, others are less resplendent and some just simple farmhouses, but in Bordeaux it’s the terroir that really matters. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Semilion are the principal grape varieties for dry wines yet produce utterly different wines depending of whether the soil is gravelly, chalky, heavy clay or a mixture.
Every vineyard owner knows every inch of their soil minutely, this is the foundation. After that there is the skill of viticulture and vinification .One chateau we visited, Cheval Blanc, buys barrels from eight different coopers, each adds a different attribute to the wine and then there’s the skill of aging and blending. Christine Lurton at Chateau Dauzac tells us they choose the barrels from five different coopers.
We also met the iconic wine maker Andre Lurton owner of six properties in the Et Emilion. He oversees the making of over four millions bottles of wine a year and knows each vintage intimately. He has devoted his whole life to enhancing the quality of Bordeaux wines and now his family is following in his footsteps. Unlike Burgundy, Bordeaux does not have a particularly distinguished food culture; really renowned restaurants are few and far between, apart from Entrecote Bordelaise, Lamprey eels, cannelés and macaroons, it’s difficult to track down local specialities.
However we didn’t need to worry, we were staying with Jean Pierre Moullé and his family so every meal was a simple and beautiful feast. Jean Pierre – married to Denise, one of the Lurton wine family girls – is head chef for six months of the year at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.
His food totally reflects what’s in season in his garden. It was so wonderful to lie in a hammock under the Mirelle plum tree, enjoying the sounds and the delicious smells emanating from the kitchen just across the garden – such a precious moment.
A visit to the local butcher to buy meat for dinner was like going back in time in Ireland. Convivial conversation between the customers as they waited their turn to be served, the butcher produced a few glasses and poured us a measure of pineau des Charentes, a mixture of Cognac and fresh grape juice and proudly dispenses samples of his boudin noir for us to taste. One of the most delicious and bizarre taste combinations I’ve encountered at 11:30 in the morning. There are still local markets every day in different towns and villages. I was intrigued in particular by the variety of cured meats, every scrap of meat and poultry is used. Fromage de Tête, rilettes, salami, saussicons… Chickens still come with their heads and feet attached, some ducks also. The tradition of curing and preserving food for the winter is waning since the widespread use of the freezer. However a 5 day power cut last winter which resulted in many people losing their entire supply has kindled a renewed interest in more traditional methods of preserving, like confit, pickling, jam making and curing. One spirited youngster I met squirmed when she talked of the bizarre but delicious things her 86 year old grandmother cooked Sanguette (Chicken’s blood with shallots, parsley) but nonetheless realised the urgency of learning these skills before it was too late.

Here are some of the delicious things we enjoyed for picnics and meals both in the garden and indoors.

Pizza with Salmon Crème Fraicĥe and Chives

Jean Pierre had recently built a pizza oven in his garden so we made a batch of dough and experimented with his new toy. French flour is quite different to Irish flour but nonetheless the results were delicious. We brought some of Bill Casey’s Shanagarry organic smoked salmon as a present and Jean Pierre used that to make this delicious pizza.

1 pizza base (9 to 10 inch)
extra virgin olive oil
thinly sliced onion
2 tablespoons or more crème fraicĥe
2 to 3 slices of Irish smoked salmon
teaspoon finely chopped chives
freshly cracked pepper

Pre heat the oven to 500º 260F Gas10 or more. Heat a heavy baking tray if possible. Stretch or roll the dough into a 10 inch round. Sprinkle a pizza paddle with flour or cornmeal; transfer the pizza to the paddle. Brush the top with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with paper thin onion rings, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes in the oven or until the pizza is bubbly around the edges and fully cooked. Remove from the oven and then spread with crème fraiche, cover the surface with thin slices of smoked salmon and sprinkle with chopped chives, season with freshly cracked pepper and enjoy immediately.

Pizza Ladierè

This is a French version of pizza not to be confused with its Italian cousin and makes a perfect summer lunch or a delicious starter.

Serves 6

Yeast Base

450g (14oz) white baker’s flour
150ml (¼ pint) luke warm water
15g (½ oz) fresh yeast
2 organic eggs
1 scant teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 – 5 onions sliced
3 teaspoons or more of thyme, basil and finely chopped rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Small can anchovies 60g (2oz)
60g (2oz) Kalamata or Nice olives

35cm flan ring or low-sided tart tin or baking tray

First make the dough. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, I use a heavy old fashioned cream mixing bowl, so it’s an advantage to warm it first. Mix the yeast in a small bowl with the warm water, stir to dissolve, pour into the four, allow to stand for 4 or 5 minutes, it will start to bubble slightly, then add the beaten eggs and salt. Mix to a softish dough. Turn out onto a floured board; cover and leave for 3 or 4 minutes, then knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and springy. Rub a little oil over the surface. Pop into a bowl, cover the top with cling film and allow to rise in a warm spot until doubled size – about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, add the sliced onion and chopped herbs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss cover and cook on a gentle heat until the onions are really soft and melting.

Drain the anchovies and cut in half lengthwise. Half and stone the olives.

When the dough has doubled in bulk, ‘knock back’ by kneading for a minute or two. Roll the dough into a round and ft into a flan ring or simply lay on a baking sheet 35 cm round approx. Spread the melted mixture over the base. Grind a little freshly ground pepper on top. Arrange the anchovy strips in a lattice over the onions. Pop a half olive into each diamond. Allow to rise in your warm kitchen for 10 to 15 minutes while the oven is preheating to 200c bake for 10 minutes, reduce to 180 – 350 – 4 and continue to cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Or until nicely browned around the edges, serve hot or at room temperature.

Anne Willan’s Entrecôte a la Bordelaise

Entrecôte Steak with Beef Marrow (taken from ‘French Regional Cooking’ by Anne Willan)

Charente supplies Bordeaux not only with butter but with beef. There are two ways of serving this dish; in country districts books don’t bother with the sauce bordelaise but simply top the steak with bone marrow and pour the pan juices dissolved in a little red wine over it. Any good cut of steak, cut 5cm/2in thick can be used. If possible ask the butcher to extract marrow from marrow bones, otherwise use a sharp knife to remove it yourself.

Serves 5

1kg (2lb) entrecôte steak
2 tablespoons oil
125g (4oz) beef marrow sliced
bunch of watercress

Sauce Bordelaise

80g (2 ½ oz) butter
5 shallots finely chopped
250ml (9fl oz) red wine, preferably Bordeaux
salt and coarsely ground black pepper
pinch of thyme
pinch of grated nutmeg
250ml (9fl oz) broth

Begin the sauce bordelaise: melt a tablespoon of the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the shallots and cook over a low fire for 3 – 4 minutes to soften. Add the wine, a pinch of salt and coarsely ground black pepper, the thyme and nutmeg. Boil until reduced by about half. Add the broth and boil again to reduce by about half.
Brush the steak with oil and sprinkle it with pepper. Leave to marinate for a few minutes while heating the grill/broiler to very hot. Put the marrow in a pot of simmering water and poach for 2 – 3 minutes or until just tender. Drain and dice the marrow, cover and keep warm.
Grill/broil the entrecôte for 8 minutes. Turn it over, sprinkle with salt and grill the other side for about 7 more minutes (for rare meat). While the steak is cooking, finish the sauce: reheat the sauce to boiling. Take it from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, a piece at a time. Stir in the diced marrow and taste the sauce for seasoning.
To serve, cut the steak in diagonal slices, arrange it on a platter and spoon over a little sauce. Decorate the platter with watercress and serve the remaining sauce separately.

Fool Proof Food

Fresh Blueberry Slices

Irish blueberries are in season once again they are full of antioxidants which help to build up our resistance to winter colds and flu. They are enormously versatile and delicious. Throw a fistful into your muffin mixture, scones or even soda bread, add them to salads or sprinkle them over your morning muesli. Look out for them in shops and farmers markets and gorge yourself on as many as you can in the next few weeks. Most importantly check that they are Irish before you pop them into your shopping basket.

Makes 24

6 ozs (175g) soft butter
6 ozs (175g) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
6 ozs (175g) self-raising flour

½ to ¾ lb fresh Irish blueberries
1oz or more caster sugar

10 x 7 inch (25.5 x 18 cm) Swiss roll tin, well greased

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

Put the butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well buttered tin. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the top of the cake mixture and spread about 1 oz of caster sugar over the berries. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen. As soon as the cake mixture is cooked, sprinkle a little caster sugar over the top cut into squares and serve warm with Crème Fraiche or thick Glen Ilen Farm Cream.

Remove the biscuits from the tin if keeping for a few days unless the tin is coated with Teflon.

Thrifty Tip

First Grenadier early cooker apples are out now and make delicious tarts and fluffy apple sauce, freeze the surplus.


Declan Ryan of Arbutus Breads sells ready made dough for pizza bases at the Farmers Market in Midleton on Tuesday and Saturday and Mahon Point on Thursdays. All you need to do is roll it out and add the topping. Telephone 021 4501061 or email 021 4501061

Britain is to have its first degree course in artisan food. It is being offered from September 2009 by the University of Derby. The Bachelor of Science course at the Wellbeck Estate in North Nottinghamshire is the UK’s first degree course to teach practical artisan skills. Students will learn how to make cheese, bread, pickles, beer and other artisan skills.
There is also a growing interest and demand for the now well established Diploma in Speciality Food Production at University College Cork. Please contact Dr Angela Sheehan, Tel. 021-4901423 / 4903178 Email: for further information.

Waterford Harvest Food Festival celebrates local food, heritage and culture from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September, for more information visit

Green Dream – Swiss Chard

Last week I brought a beautiful basket of new seasons Swiss chard into the Midleton Farmers market. Juicy white stalks and lots of green leaf. Two beautiful vegetables in one. A couple of customers’ faces lit up when they saw it but overall there was little interest. I wanted to tell anyone who would listen to me that it is virtually my favourite green vegetable. Kale just pips it at the post in Winter. When I was little green vegetables were definitely not my favourite. Now I love them with a passion, it’s almost like a craving. I would quite happily sit down to a plate of chard for supper with nothing more than a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and a few flakes of sea salt and a little pepper. Sadly chard is often forgotten or passed over partly because many are unsure what to do with it. The sweet earthy flavour of this versatile vegetable marries well with lots of other vegetables, meat, fish and shellfish. The leafy green tops can be stripped off the juicy stalks and they can be served separately or together.
Swiss chard with its thick, creamy coloured stalks is possibly best known, but we also grow Ruby chard which has vibrant red stalks and a variety called rainbow chard which is so beautiful in either an herbaceous border or vegetable plot. If you only have a little space n your garden it’s worth considering. It’s quite hardy and will keep you well supplied throughout the winter. Meanwhile look out for it in Farmers’ Markets and farm shops and here are several delicious ways to enjoy it.

Chick pea and Chard and Chorizo Soup

Serves 4

More a meal than a soup, this is all I need to eat to pep me up at lunchtime during the week.  Finished with a good splash of grassy, peppery, extra virgin olive oil, it is unctuous and truly lovely.

200g (7oz) dried chick peas, soaked overnight
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
Juice of ½ lemon
2 dried chillies
5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife
110g (4oz) chorizo, chopped
3 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary
2 x 340g (12oz) jars (or tinned) good quality peeled plum tomatoes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre good chicken stock (or water if you prefer)
300g (10oz) Swiss chard
2 slices of day-old chewy peasant style bread, crusts removed
75-90g (3-4oz) Parmesan, freshly grated

Drain the chick peas, rinse and place in a large heavy-based pan.  Cover generously with cold water, but do not season.  Bring to the boil over a medium heat, and then turn the heat down.  Simmer gently for 1 ½ hours or until the chick peas are soft, skimming away any scum from the surface every now and then.  Drain and dress with 1 tbsp extra virgin oil and the lemon juice.

In the meantime, warm 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a separate pan over medium heat.  Crumble in the chillies and add the garlic, chorizo and chopped rosemary.  Cook for a minute or so to release the flavours, then add the tomatoes and stir well to break them up, adding a good pinch of salt.  Cover and cook for 20 minutes, then pour in the chicken stock and cook for a further 10 minutes.  Finally add the cooked chick peas and simmer gently for 40 minutes.

Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the chard.  Wash and pat dry, then strip the leaves from the pale central stalk, using a small sharp knife; set aside.  Trim the stalks and cut into 1cm chunks.  Add these to a pan of well-salted boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then add the soft green outer leaves and cook for a further minute.  Drain.

Break the bread into small pieces and stir into the soup along with the parmesan, turning the heat to low.  Add the chard and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  The soup should be deeply flavoured and thick.  Add a little more Parmesan and/or olive oil if needed.  Ladle into warm soup plates and serve.

Jean Pierre Moullé’s Chard Frittata

Jean Pierre is head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkley, California for six  months of the year. During the summer months he lives in Bordeaux and teaches cooking classes. This was one of the many delicious things I ate when I spent a few days with him and his family.

Serves 8

6 free range organic eggs
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
25g (1oz) butter
2 medium onions finely chopped
125 – 150g (4 ½ – 5oz) Parmesan grated
6 – 8 Chard Stems
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 x tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
10 g (½ oz) butter
25.5cm – 10in non stick or cast iron frying pan

Heat a pan, add the extra virgin olive oil and butter add onion, toss and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook over a gentle heat, add garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Strip the green from the stalks of the chard. Chop the stalks into roughly 1 inch pieces. Bring 2 pints of water to the boil; add salt (3 teaspoons – 2 pints)
Toss in stalks cook for 4 – 5 minutes; add half or more of the chopped greens and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes. Drain really well, add to the onion and garlic and cook for 8 – 10 minutes.
Whisk the eggs, season well with salt, and freshly ground pepper add grated parmesan, and the cooled chard and onions. Heat a non-stick or cast iron frying pan on a low heat. Add a half ounce of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour in the mixture, cook for a further 7 – 8 minutes until the edges are well coloured; transfer to a pre heated moderate oven for 10 – 12 minutes. Allow to settle, un-mould. Serve at room temperature with a good green salad.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Salmon Poached with Tomatoes and Swiss Chard

Serves 5-6

1 1/2lbs (675g) salmon fillet (get the thick centre section of a large salmon and ask the fishmonger to remove the skin)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4lb (350g) Swiss chard
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion (4oz/110g), peeled and cut in half, lengthways, and then cut crossways into fine half rings
1 1/2 inch (4cms) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and first cut into very thin slices and then into very fine slivers
8 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
4fl oz (110ml) thick coconut milk (straight from a well-stirred can)

Cut the salmon fillet, crossways, into 5-6 portions (as many as there are people).  Pull out bones, if any, with a pair of tweezers.  Put some salt and pepper on both sides of the fish pieces and set aside for 20 minutes or longer.

Swiss chard leaves have a hard, central vein that also becomes the stalk.  Using a sharp, pointed knife, cut this out from all the leaves.  Cut the green, leafy section, crossways, into 1/4 inch (5mm) wide strips.  Set aside.  Collect a few stems-veins at a time and cut them, crossways, into 18 inch (3mm) wide strips.

Heat the oil in a very large frying-pan or a very wide sauté pan over a medium-high flame.  When hot, put in the onion, ginger and chard stems.  Sauté for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes.  Continue to sauté for another 4-5 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and 3/4 pint (450ml) water, 1 teaspoons of salt and some black pepper.  Stir to mix and bring to a simmer.  Simmer on a low heat for a minute.  This much of the recipe can be done ahead of time.

Just before you sit down to eat, bring the sauce to a simmer again.  Put in the cut up chard leaves and stir them in.  Lay the fish pieces in a single layer over the top of the sauce.  Spoon some of the thinner, more watery parts of the sauce over the fish.  Cover.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish has just cooked through.

To serve: Using a good sized spatula, lift a piece of fish with some of the greens and solids in the sauce and put it in the centre of a plate.  Spoon some of the thinner part of the sauce over the top of the fish.  The sauce will flow to the edge of the plate as it should.  Make up all the plates this way and serve immediately.  Serve with rice or potatoes.

Slow Cooked Shoulder of Lamb with Chickpeas, Chard, Peppers and Paprika.

Serves 8

1 shoulder of lamb
extra virgin olive oil
3 onions
3 peppers
6 cloves garlic
1kg (2lbs) ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons smoked or sweet paprika
2 – 3 chillies
sprig of thyme and 2 bay leaves
300ml (10 floz) dry white wine
300ml (10 floz) chicken or lamb stock
450g (1 lb) chickpeas
1 bunch of chard
salt and freshly ground pepper

1 wide sauté pan

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in the sauté pan over a medium heat. Score the skin of the lamb with salt and freshly ground pepper. Brown on the fat side for 4 – 5 minutes then turn over and continue for a few minutes more. Remove from the pan, add the quartered onions, peeled garlic cloves, continue to cook on a low heat for 5 – 6 minutes, add the chillies, peppers, chopped tomatoes, thyme bay leaves and paprika. Stir and cook for 3 o 4 minutes, add the wine and stock, add the lamb and cook for 2 – 2 ½ hours with on a very low heat or in the oven at 170°C, 325°F, mark 3.
Meanwhile drain off the soaking water from the chick peas, Cover with fresh water bring to the boil and continue to cook until plump and tender, 45 minutes to one hour.
When the meat is almost falling off the bones, remove the thyme and bay leaves, add the drained chick peas, and toss well in the tomato and pepper mixture.
Just before serving, prepare the chard, just before serving, chop the chard into 1 inch pieces, cook in well salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, and add the chopped leaves. Drain and Allow to bubble for 4 or 5 minutes. Taste, correct seasoning, it may need salt, freshly ground pepper and paprika. Carve the lamb in chunks. Transfer to a large serving plate and serve surrounded with chard and chickpeas.

Fool Proof Food

Melted Chard Stalks with Bacon and Hazelnuts

Here is a way to cook the green parts of chard as you would spinach.

Serves 4–6

900g (2lb) white or ruby chard stalks
10g (1/2oz) butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
50g (2oz) streaky bacon, cut into very fine lardons
110g (4oz) onion finely diced
salt and freshly ground pepper
50g (2oz) hazelnuts
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or 1/2 tablespoon sage

String the chard stalks with a swivel top vegetable peeler and chop into 7.5cm (3in) lengths. Melt the butter and olive oil in an oval casserole. Add the bacon and cook for 1–2 minutes. Add the diced onion and sweat for a further 2–3 minutes. Add the chard stalks, toss, and season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover the casserole and cook on a low heat for 20–25 minutes.
Meanwhile roast the hazelnuts in a moderate oven for 5–8 minutes, until the skins loosen. Rub off the skins, chop, add the marjoram or sage to the chard and cook for a minute or two. Add the toasted hazelnuts, toss and serve.

Thrifty Tip

Place sprigs of thyme into the pockets of clothes to protect them from moths.


Euro-toques, National Food Forum and Fairs theme this year is ‘The Whole Hog’ focusing on how we rear, kill and eat pigs in Ireland. Sunday 6th September, at Brooklodge, Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow. To book a stall or to participate in Forum and Tastings contact Ruth 01-6779995 or

Richard Bertinet – from the famous Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School in Bath, Somerset – an award winning baker, is coming to Ballymaloe Cookery School to teach a practical one and half day course on the art of bread making from Tuesday 15th to Wednesday 16th September. For further details telephone 021 4646 785 or email

Those of you who have a concern about Sustainable Seafood and would like to learn more, you might want to join the Marine Conservation Society. First check out the website it’s a mine of useful information.

Arto der Haroutunian – Taste of Africa

Arto der Haroutunian’s name may not be familiar to many but for those with a penchant for North African food, it’s a name worth noting. Arto was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1940 and grew up in the Levant but came to the UK with his parents as a child and remained there for most of his life.

He studied architecture, painted, composed music and established a career designing restaurants, clubs and hotels. He opened the first Armenian restaurant in Manchester in 1970. He combined his love of food with his interest in culture and food history. He died in 1987 at the untimely age of 47.

Given his passion for food it was a natural progression that he should begin to write cookbooks that combined his love of food with his great interest in the history and culture of the Middle East.

It was his belief that the rich culinary tradition of that area is the main source of many of our Western Cuisines and his books were intended as an introduction to that tradition. Second hand copies of those early cooks now fetch hundreds of pounds and are hard to come by. So I was doubly delighted when Grub Street Press in the UK decided to re-publish North African Cookery – a gorgeous collection from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, over 300 recipes from traditional dishes, such as tagines, stews, soups and salads using classic ingredients, fiery spices, jewel like dried fruits, pickled lemons and armfuls of fresh herbs. Simplicity if at the heart of the Medina kitchen.

Indonesian cuisine is perhaps the hottest of the region – they love that fiery harissa which I also relish. Tunisian food has strong French influences and pasta is also a passion.

Morocco’s great forte is its exotic tajines of fish, meat and vegetables. Libya, although less gastronomically subtle, excels in soups and patisserie. Here are a few gems to whet your appetite for the book.


Arto der Haroutunian’s Tajine Lham Bil Djelbana

Meat and Pea Tajine

‘Don’t say I have beans until they are in the measure’

Moroccan proverb

Serves 6


You can prepare this classic tajine in two ways – Moroccan or, as with the recipe below, Algerian. Moroccans would use saffron (of course!) – 1 whole teaspoonful at that – and also 1 teaspoon ginger, zest of a pickled lemon and a few preserved olives. Algerians on the other hand use tomato purée – a French-Italian habit, but nice!

900g (2lb) shoulder or leg of lamb cut into 5cm (2in) pieces

4–5 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon smen or 15g (1/2oz) butter

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 large tomato, blanched, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon tomato purée diluted in 4–5 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

11/2 teaspoons salt

1 level tablespoon sugar

900g (2lb) peas

Place all the ingredients except the sugar and peas in a large saucepan and fry over a gentle heat, stirring frequently. Add enough water to cover by about 2.5cm (1in) and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Add the sugar and peas, stir well, recover and simmer for a further 15–20 minutes or until the meat and peas are cooked. If necessary uncover the pan and simmer for a few minutes or until the sauce thickens.

The traditional way of serving this tajine is to serve it in a large dish accompanied by flat bread such as pita or chappati. You break the bread into pieces, shape it like a spoon and scoop the meat and peas into it.


You could also reduce the pea content to 450g (1lb) and add 450g (1lb) peeled and thinly sliced carrots.

Another attractive variation, Lham bil Djelbana wel Bayd – from Tizi Ouzou in Algeria, or so I was given to believe by a native of that town, now happily married with 4 children and a buxom wife and living in Oldham – is to transfer the cooked dish to a large tajine or casserole, to break 6 eggs separately over the top and to place in an oven pre-heated to 400f, 200c, Gas Mark 6 for 5–7 minutes or until set. Serve in the tajine or casserole garnished with a little chopped parsley or mint.

Arto der Haroutunian’s Tbikha Selg Bi Roz

Spinach with Rice and Almonds


Serves 6


Rice is not widely used in North Africa – the exceptions being Libya and Egypt where the Arab grain, rice, predominates over couscous. This simple and filling dish from Algeria can be eaten on its own or as an accompaniment to meat or fish-based dishes.


900g (2lb) fresh spinach

1 clove garlic

1 dried chilli pepper, soaked in 5 tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon salt

150ml (1/4 pint) oil

1 teaspoon paprika



/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons long-grain rice, rinsed thoroughly under cold water

300ml (1/2 pint) water

2 tablespoons blanched almonds, toasted until golden under a hot grill

Discard thick stems and discoloured leaves of spinach and rinse remainder thoroughly under cold running water. Drain and chop coarsely. Bring a large saucepan half filled with lightly salted water to the boil. Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes. Drain into a colander.

Meanwhile in a mortar or blender crush the garlic, chilli pepper with its water, and the salt. Transfer this mixture to a large saucepan, add the oil, paprika and black pepper and fry gently for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

When cool enough to handle squeeze as much water as possible from the spinach and add to the pan. Stir in the rice and water and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the water absorbed. Transfer the spinach mixture to a large serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.


Arto der Haroutunian’s Batata Maglia Bil Dersa

Spicy Fried Potatoes

Fried potatoes North African-style with a hot sauce. They are an excellent accompaniment to grilled meats and Mergues.

Serves 6

1.5 kg (about 3lb) potatoes, peeled and washed

Oil for frying

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon harissa (see Darina Allen’s Food File Irish Examiner Saturday 8th August)

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground caraway

to serve

2 tablespoons vinegar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cut the potatoes into 1/2–1cm (1/4–1/2in) thick rounds and then into 1/2–1cm (1/4–1/2in) sticks. Soak in cold water for 20 minutes and then pat dry.

Meanwhile add sufficient oil to cover the base of a large saucepan by 1cm (1/2in) and heat. When hot add some of the potato sticks and fry until cooked and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Cook the remaining potato sticks in the same way. (You can deep fry them in a chip pan if you wish.)

When all the potatoes are cooked pour off most of the oil leaving only about 3–4 tablespoons in the pan. Add the garlic, harissa, salt and caraway and fry for 1 minute. Stir in 60ml (2fl oz) water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3–4 minutes. Add the fried potatoes and stir well to coat with the sauce. Simmer for a few minutes to evaporate excess liquid. Pile the potatoes into a dish, sprinkle with the vinegar and black pepper and serve.

Arto der Haroutunian’s Mergues

Spicy sausage

These are hot, spicy sausages popular throughout North Africa, but are best in Tunisia. They are very versatile, and can be grilled, baked, cooked in omelettes etc. In recent years they have appeared in France, brought when the pieds-noirs (French North Africans) returned from Algeria en masse. Although they are now sold by French butchers, the best are still to be found in the small Tunisian café-restaurants that have sprung up all over French cities.

Another sausage, saucisse de foie, is made with liver – usually calf but sometimes chicken. It is grey in colour and is less spicy than the classic Mergues.

900g (2lb) lean lamb or beef

175g (6oz) beef fat

4 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon chilli pepper

2 teaspoons harissa (see Darina Allen’s Food File Irish Examiner Saturday 8th August)

1 tablespoon powdered fennel seeds

150ml (1/4 pint) oil

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

About 1m (40in) sheep or beef intestines, cleaned

Mince the meat, fat and garlic together and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (except the intestines) and knead for several minutes until smooth and well blended.

Meanwhile soak the intestines in cold water for 3 hours, which makes them easier to handle. To put the mixture into the intestines you need a plastic funnel with a nozzle width of about 2.5cm (1in).

Fit one end of the intestine over the nozzle and gently work the whole of the intestine onto the nozzle. Force the meat down through the funnel into the intestine. As the intestine fills up it will slip off the nozzle. When the whole intestine is full run it lightly through one hand to distribute the meat evenly. Set aside. Continue until you have used up all the meat.

To make into sausages, fold one intestine in half and then tie or knot at 15cm (6in) intervals. Leave to hang over the sink for 4–5 hours before using. Store in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze until required.



Arto der Haroutunian’s Kab-El-Ghazel

Gazelle Horns

Makes 16

Continuing on the theme of almonds this recipe, another classic of Berber origin popular in Morocco an Algeria, is dedicated to the horns of the favourite Arab animal – the gazelle, a symbol of grace, beauty and gentleness. It is also one of the few pastries that can be found in most pâtisseries.

225g (8oz) plain flour

2 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons orange blossom water


225g (8oz) ground almonds

175g (6oz) icing sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2-4 tablespoons orange blossom water

First prepare the filling by mixing the almonds, icing sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Add enough of the orange blossom water to bind the mixture together. Knead until smooth. Divide into 16 balls. Roll each ball into a sausage about 5cm (2in) long which is thicker in the middle and tapers at both ends. Set aside.

Sift the flour for the pastry into a mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and orange blossom water. Gradually fold the flour in and then, little by little, add just enough cold water to form a dough. Place on a work surface and knead for at least 20 minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Divide into 2 balls. Take one ball of dough and roll it out into a strip about 10cm (4in) wide and at least 75cm (30in) long. You will find that you will be able to stretch the pastry by wrapping first one end of the pastry and then the other over the rolling pin and pulling gently.

Arrange 8 of the almond sausages on the pastry in a line about 3.5cm (11/2in) in from the long edge nearest you, leaving about 5cm (2in) between each sausage. Fold the pastry over the sausages to enclose them completely. Cut down between each sausage. Taking 1 pastry at a time press the edges together to seal in the filling. Trim the pastry edge to a semi-circle, but do not cut too close to the filling or the edges will be forced open during cooking and the filling will ooze out. Crimp the edges with the prongs of a fork. Now pinch the pastry up to form a steep ridge and gently curve the ends around to form a crescent-shape. Repeat with the remaining pastries. Repeat with remaining ball of dough and almond filling.

Place on greased baking sheets and cook in an oven preheated to 350f, 180c, Gas Mark 4 for 20-30 minutes or until a pale golden colour. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight tin when cold.


kab-el-ghazel mfenned


Prepare the pastries as above and when they are cooked soak them in orange blossom water and then roll in icing sugar until they are completely coated and are snow-white in colour.




Sweet corn

Catherine and Vincent O’Donovan’s bright yellow roadside stall on the main Cork to Innishannon Road sells juicy sweet corn. They are open every day and hope to have sweet corn for the next two months. Order sweet corn to freeze…telephone Vincent 087-2486031.The Slow Food West Cork

Annual Summer Picnic is on Sunday August 30th. A revival of the Somerville and Ross tradition of climbing up the hill overlooking Lough Hyne and enjoying a scrumptious picnic while gazing at the spectacular view! The packed picnics this year are being prepared by Susan Fehily of the River Lane Cafe in Ballineen (023) 47173. Full details and order form can be found at t  of the SlowFoodIreland website. Orders MUST be in by Wednesday August 26th.

Castlefarm Allotment

Our Ladies Hospital in Crumlin and St Brigid’s Hospice on the Curragh will benefit from the bountiful harvest of the Castlefarm organic allotments on 28th-30th of August.  Allotment holders at Kildare’s Castlefarm will run a festival to celebrate the first year of the Castlefarm allotments, to give over 30 green fingered allotment holders a chance to show off their achievements. Information and tickets available from Jenny at Castlefarm Shop on 059-8636948 or


Oh my goodness, the weather would drive you to the drink. I am often at a loss to know what to cook for supper, one minute there is thunder and lightning and flash floods, within half an hour one could be searching for a deck chair to enjoy the scorching sun.

This evening I had planned to have a gorgeous salad of summer vegetables for supper with some soused mackerel but the weather changed again, there’s a howling gale and pelting rain and no one will thank me for a cold supper. So I think I’ll cook a neck of lamb moussaka that we tested recently, which we all loved. Neck of lamb is deliciously sweet and terrifically good value for money.

I also love a little streaky bacon glazed – that’s a good plan because I can serve that hot or cold so I can be ready for ‘figaries’ of the Irish Summer. Served hot it would be delicious with a fondue of ripe tomatoes, some beans and a few floury potatoes. If the sun is perchance splitting the stones, I’ll serve it with a few salads. Our heirloom tomatoes have just come on stream, a variety of beautiful juicy fruit in odd shapes and colours with bizarre names. They make the most beautiful salads. Simply sprinkle the thick slices of fruit with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Halve a lemon and squeeze it over, add lots of fresh mint or basil and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Taste and tweak until the balance is right. Irish cucumbers are also in season at present, try this salad with radishes and Irish cucumber.

Hard-Boiled Eggs with Anchovy, Pepper and Flat Parsley

I also love this salad, a lovely little supper dish on its own.
Serves 4-8

8 organic eggs
115ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly on a microplane
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 5mm (1/4in) dice
8 – 12 anchovies, either salted or in vinegar
flat parsley leaves
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
lots of crusty bread and rocket leaves

Hard-boil the eggs. Cool, peel, wash and split in half lengthways. Arrange in a single layer, cut side up, on a serving dish. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic slices. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until pale golden (careful not to burn or the garlic will turn bitter and acrid). Reduce the temperature, add the pepper and toss for no more than a minute. Turn off the heat, cool, and add the chopped anchovy. Spoon over the hard-boiled eggs and top with snipped flat parsley. Season with freshly cracked pepper and a little sea salt. Serve with crusty bread and rocket leaves.

Cucumber, Radish, Feta, Flat Parsley and Nigella Seeds

Serves 6-8

1 cucumber

2 bunches radishes

225g (8oz) feta, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

lots of flat parsley sprigs and mint leaves

1 – 2 tablespoons nigella seeds

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and then in half again. Cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice. Trim the radishes and cut into similar size pieces. Mix the cucumber and feta in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Toss gently, add lots of flat parsley and fresh mint leaves. Taste and correct seasoning. Sprinkle with nigella seeds.


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.


Cooked Baby Carrots

1 lb (450g) carrots, Early Nantes and Autumn King have particularly good flavour

4 fl ozs (100ml) cold water

Pinch of salt

A good pinch of sugar


Cut off the tops and tips, scrub and peel thinly if necessary. Leave very young carrots whole. Put them in a saucepan with water, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a gentle heat until tender, by which time the liquid should have all been absorbed into the carrots, but if not remove the lid and increase the heat until all the water has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning.



Emer Fitzgerald’s Braised Lamb Neck Moussaka

Serves 8

2 x lamb necks (approximately 1.6kgs / 3 ½ lbs in total)

450g (1 lb) onions

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 x 400g / 14oz cans of chopped tomatoes

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves chopped

800ml lamb stock

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

2 aubergines (500g /18oz) in total

500g (18oz) potatoes, scrubbed well

50g (2oz) raisins

Cheese Sauce:

45g (1 ½ oz) butter

45g (1 ½ oz) flour

600ml (1 pint) milk

1 bay leaf

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon of cream

4oz grated Gruyere cheese


1 earthenware dish 25.5 x 21.5cm (10 x 8 1/2 inch)

1 large casserole

Preheat oven to 150º/ 300°F/ Mark 2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large casserole dish. Season the lamb necks with salt and freshly ground pepper. Brown the meat on all sides in the oil. Remove and place on a plate. Add the onions and garlic to the casserole, cook over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg and chopped marjoram. Season with salt and pepper and sugar. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the lamb stock and bring to the boil. Add back in the lamb necks. Cover the casserole and place in a preheated oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours or until tender. The meat should be falling off the bone.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted until two thirds cooked. Peel and slice into 5mm (1/4 inch) slices.

Slice the aubergine into ½ inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and allow to de-gorge in a colander for half an hour. Preheat a grill pan. Pat the aubergines dry, toss in olive oil. Cook in a preheated grill pan until golden on both sides. When the lamb is cooked, remove from the braising liquid. Coarsely shred the lamb, removing any bones or sinew. Strain the vegetables from the liquid and add to the lamb. Moisten this mixture with some of the braising liquid (3 – 4 tablespoons) Season to taste and add the raisins.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Harissa and Chickpea Salad

This is one of our new favourites, if the weather is hot; this is perfect for the barbeque

Serves 8

1 butterflied leg of lamb (1.5kg/3lb 5oz approximately)

100g (3 1/2oz) harissa (see Fool Proof Food)

zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

Chickpea Salad

700g (1 1/2lb) dried chickpeas

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4onions, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped


175ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

50ml (2fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons ground cumin

salt and freshly ground pepper

To Serve

3 tablespoons coriander, chopped

3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

150mls (5 1/2fl oz/scant) natural yoghurt

Barbeque or preheated oven to 180°C/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.

Night Before

Mix the harissa with the zest and freshly squeezed juice of the lemon. Place the lamb in a large bowl. Pierce some holes in the lamb with the tip of a sharp knife – this will allow the marinade to penetrate into the meat. Pour the marinade over the lamb and rub in well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cover the dried chickpeas in plenty of cold water. Allow to soak overnight.

Next Day

Drain the chickpeas, put into a saucepan. Cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Heat the oil in a saucepan; sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Then allow to become golden and caramelised.

Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a bowl.

Remove the meat from the marinade, place on the barbecue near the coals to seal in the juices on each side. Raise the grill and cook for 20 minutes on each side, occasionally basting with the remaining marinade. Alternatively put on a roasting tray and roast in a moderate oven for 1 – 1 1/2 hours depending on how well you like it cooked.

When the chickpeas are cooked, drain and toss immediately with the caramelised onions, garlic and dressing. Allow to come to room temperature.

When the lamb is cooked, remove from the grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Toss the freshly chopped herbs through the chickpea salad. Slice the meat thinly; serve with chickpea salad and a blob of yoghurt.

Darina’s Birthday Cake

Duck eggs are renowned for making a lighter, yellower sponge cake than hen’s eggs, and are, as such, much sought after. This sponge is interesting because the whites, rather than the yolks, are beaten with the sugar, which is opposite to the way most whisked-up sponges are made.

Serves 8

3 duck eggs

75g (3oz) caster sugar

75g (3oz) and an extra dessertspoon flour

2 x 18cm (7 inch) round cake tins



4 ozs (225g) home-made strawberry jam

10 fl ozs (285g) whipped cream



A selection of Summer berries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackberries…

4 fl oz whipped cream

icing sugar to dust

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

Line the base of the tins with a round of silicone paper. Brush the base and sides with melted butter and dust with white flour.

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Put the whites and sugar into a bowl and whisk until stiff, preferably in an electric mixer. Whisk in the yolks one by one and then fold in the sieved flour, making sure not to deflate the mixture. Divide the mixture between 2 prepared tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. Turn out carefully and cool on a wire rack. Sandwich together with a layer of homemade strawberry jam, a layer of freshly whipped cream. Sprinkle with sieved icing sugar over the top. Serve on an old fashioned plate with a doyley. Pipe rosettes of the remaining cream and arrange the berries on top.

Fool Proof Food


Makes 100g (3 1/2oz)

10 dried red chillies, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes

5 fresh red chillies

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Deseed and roughly chop the dried and fresh chillies. Put in a food processor with the garlic, cumin, coriander, salt and olive oil. Whizz until smooth.

Store in a jar with a layer of olive oil over the top. It will keep for 3 months.

Thrifty Tip

If you have left over potatoes from a meal, peel and cube them while they are still warm, toss them in French dressing, add chopped scallions, parsley and a few dollops of mayonnaise for a delish potato salad.



The Merrion Hotel

. If you feel like a little treat to cheer yourself up the Merrion Hotel in Dublin has some attractive offers at present. Telephone 01 603 0600 to enquire about The Merrion Gourmet Experience or visit their website Good Food Ireland

launched their exciting new website on 29th July 2009. One can now book good food holidays directly.

Visit to avail of all the latest special offers.

The award winning Lemon Tree Café

in Dunmore East is worth knowing about for their fresh ‘catch of the day’. We loved their open crab sandwich on their homemade brown bread and the freshly baked cakes and chocolate chip brownies. or telephone 051 383164.

Thomasina Miers – Taste of Mexico

Thomasina Miers

In January 2002 a tall gangly irrepressible girl with thick dark curly hair and a wonderful gappy smile arrived at Ballymaloe Cookery School in a cute little Renault Deux CV. Thomasina Miers spent 12 weeks having fun, cooking, and developing her passion for food. Always eager to learn she soaked up every scrap of information like a sponge. After the course she headed towards West Cork to meet artisan producers and spent a happy time immersed in the cheese making with the Ferguson family at Gubeen near Schull.

Back in London Tommi wrote her first cookbook ‘Little Book of Soup’ a charming collection of recipes from top chefs and even though she was skint, the proceeds were donated to London Soup kitchens.

Her passion for all things Mexican had ebbed and flowed over the years but with the help and encouragement of the Mexican Tourist Board she set off on a research trip to source authentic Mexican ingredients and recipes. She headed for Oaxaca (pronounced Wa ha ca), a region surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountains, south of Mexico city and home to some of Mexico’s most colourful markets. She linked in with Pablo Munozeledo of the Slow Food organisation which seeks to protect traditional and sustainable methods of food production. Through him she found many treasures and met many inspirational people.

Eventually when she returned to London she was at a crossroads, not quite sure where to go next, looking out for a job, lots of bills to pay. Friends told her about Master Chef and she applied for the fun of it. “I didn’t even think I’d get past the first round. And when the program started it came as a complete shock, because I had not thought about being in front of the camera. That was the most terrifying thing realising there were cameras pointing in all directions while I was cooking” She was nervous about the prospect of John Torode and Gregg Wallace tasting and judging her food but eventually after many gruelling challenges – her instinctive and distinctive cooking and enchanting personality not to speak of true grit triumphed and she was declared overall winner of Masterchef. That was in 2005. Since then Tommi has gone on to fulfil her dream of bringing authentic Mexican street food to London.

Her first restaurant Wahaca was opened in 2007 in Covent Garden, Chandos Place. People queued up and still queue along the street. Now there are two restaurants, the second in Westfield, London and a third is planned for Canary Wharf, in October this year.

Wahaca won the Observer Best Cheap Eats Award 2008.

Last week lovely Thomasina came back to Ballymaloe Cookery School, her old Alma Mater to teach and enchanted us all with a Taste of her Mexican Street Food one day course. Here are some of the delicious dishes she cooked for us. She’ll be returning the cookery school next year to teach another course so watch this space.

Thomasina Miers’ Tortilla Soup with feta, totopos and deep-fried ancho

Serves 8

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, sliced

3 cloves sliced garlic

30g chipotle puree

2 tins plum tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tsp dried oregano or 1 tbsp fresh

1 litres water or veg stock

150-200g corn tortillas, blanched in oil

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions and sweat over a medium heat for 15 minutes, before adding the garlic. Continue cooking for a further few minutes before adding the chipotle puree, tomatoes and seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes and add the stock and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Add the blanched tortillas and blitz in a food processor until the soup is smooth.

Serve the soup in a jug with the garnishes in little piles in a wide, shallow soup bowl.

To serve

Feta cheese, crumbled

Ancho chilli, deep fried

Tortilla strips, deep fried


Sour cream


Thomasina Miers’ Chorizo, potato and thyme quesadillas [kay-sa-dee-yas]

Enough for 4 large quesadillas

200g cooking chorizo, diced

½ onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

350g potatoes, diced and steamed until tender

A small bunch of thyme, shredded

Olive oil

400g mix of grated cheddar and mozzarella cheese

4 large flour tortillas

Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and add the chorizo and onion with a small dash of olive oil. Cook until the onion turns soft and translucent and the chorizo has started to release its oils. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Add the potato, turn up the heat and fry for another 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper.

Spread the chorizo mix on one half of the tortilla and sprinkle with the cheese mix.

Fold the tortilla over so that you have a half moon. Brush it with a little olive oil (so the tortilla doesn’t stick to the pan) and place in hot, dry frying pan or griddle and cook until the cheese is melted and the outside is golden and crisp.

Cut into wedges and serve with your favourite table salsa.

Tommi finds that a mix of extra mature English cheddar and a little grated mozzarella makes the perfect cheese mix, with the right flavour and gooiness but it is also delicious with a little grated Lancashire cheese added to the mix.


Other fillings for quesadillas you could try:

Courgette flower, onions and garlic

Swiss chard and ricotta

Spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onion and thyme

Courgette, sweet corn and mint


Thomasina Miers’ Barbacoa with Mutton, Lamb or Beef

Serves 8


This produces a rich, meaty, fully flavoured lamb that melts in your mouth and is served with potatoes cooked in the lamb broth and a really light salad of finely shredded white cabbage, radish, coriander, red onion.

Feeds 8

1.2 kg of shoulder of lamb

450g tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 bottle of medium bodied red wine

To Serve

3/4 medium white cabbage, finely shredded

a bunch of radishes, thinly sliced

1/2 red onions, finely chopped plus 1 red onion

a handful of chopped coriander

2 limes, quartered

8 large floury potatoes

A wooden plate to serve the wedges of lime, radish and chopped red onion

For the marinade


4 ancho chillies

200ml best quality cider vinegar (or white wine)

8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1 cinnamon stick, broken up

2/3 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp peppercorns

1 tsp dried oregano

40g dark cooking chocolate

Sea salt

The day before (am or pm)

Tear out the stems of the ancho chillies and put them in a small saucepan, covered with cold water. Bring them to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until soft. Blitz the spices, herbs and chocolate together in a blender and either add the chillies, and their water and 400ml of olive oil. Season well with salt and then turn it out into a plastic bag (check there are no holes) with the meat inside. Rub the marinade into the meat and store overnight in the fridge.

On the day fill large pans with the wine and the tomatoes. Place the shoulders in pans and cover it with a tight-fitting lid (I like to cover the pan with cling film, pierce a small hole in it and then put the lid on). Bring to simmering point and cook over a low, gentle heat (so that the liquid is barely breaking a bubble) for 3-4 hours until the meat is completely tender. Half an hour before serving add the potatoes and cook in the broth.

This can be done the day before. Keep the lamb apart from the broth at the bottom. Half an hour before you are ready to eat you can roast the lamb in a hot oven (200°C/400ºF/Gas Mark 6) for 25 minutes. Meanwhile whiz the broth in the blender and bring it up to heat again. Serve with the potatoes.

For the Salsa

This salsa is searingly hot, but totally delicious. It plays a beautiful counter point to the meatiness or the rich beef birria. Pass it around to people so they can drizzle it on their own plates, according to their bravery!

40g small, chilli de arbol

250ml cider vinegar (or a mix of white wine and rice vinegar)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon pepper corns

Sea salt

Simmer the chillies in 100ml of water for 5 minutes and then whizz up with all the other ingredients. Serve (in moderation!), with the barbacoa.



Thomasina Miers’ Ceviche tostada with coconut, coriander, chilli and lime juice

Serves 4

225g sea bass, skinned and diced into 1cm cubes

The juice of 5-6 limes

1-2 tbsp coconut milk

1tbsp olive oil

Pinch of salt

½ red onion, finely diced

4 plum tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and diced into 1cm cubes

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 habanero chilli, de-seeded finely sliced

4-5 radishes, finely sliced

1-2 tbsp coriander, roughly chopped

½ avocado, sliced

Maldon salt and black pepper

12 soft corn tortillas

Corn oil for cooking


Place the fish in a glass bowl, adding the lime juice and coconut milk. Cover and refrigerate. You can eat it right away if you like the fish raw or let it cook for an hour or two and for more well done.

Drain the fish of most of the liquid. Add the onion, garlic, chilli, tomatoes, radishes and coriander. Gently mix together and season with salt and pepper. If using bought tortillas cut them down to a smaller size, about 8cm wide. Heat the corn oil in a frying pan and fry the tortillas until golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Put a tablespoon full of Ceviche on each tostada and a slice of avocado and sprinkle with a little extra coriander.

Thomasina Miers’ Smoked Mackerel Tostadas

330g smoked mackerel fillet

660g fresh tomato salsa

To serve

Chipotle mayonnaise (see Fool Proof Food)

1 avocado sliced


Flake the smoked mackerel with a fork and mix into the fresh tomato salsa. Spread a little chipotle mayonnaise onto each tostada and topped with shredded lettuce. Spoon over the smoked mackerel salsa and top with a slice of avocado.

For the tomato salsa, mix diced tomatoes, finely diced red onion, coriander, salt, pepper, lime juice, finely diced green chillies and olive oil in a bowl and leave aside for half an hour for the flavours to infuse.

Thomasina Miers’ Fresh Fruit Marinated in Lime and Tequila



This is a really easy pudding that looks vibrant with all its bright colours. The richness of the fruit and the touch of tequila makes it sophisticated enough to eat for a smart dinner but it’s equally fast enough to throw together for friends on a lazy weekend lunch or even for a decadent brunch!

Feeds 6

1 pineapple, peeled

1 ripe mango, (the Pakistani honey mangoes are delicious)

a large punnet of raspberries

1-2 tbsp unrefined castor sugar

juice of a lime

a few generous splashes of tequila*

a large handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped

Peel the mangoes and cut into rough chunks into a salad bowl. Top the strawberries and cut in half or in thirds if they are very large, adding to the mangoes as you go. Sprinkle over the sugar, the lime juice and the tequila and let sit for at least ten minutes in the fridge or as long as you want before pudding. Bring out before serving to allow to get to room temperature and scatter over the mint leaves.

This looks very pretty served in glass pudding bowls or tumblers.


Fool Proof Food

Thomasina Miers’ Chipotle mayonnaise

30g chipotles en adobo

90g Hellman’s mayonnaise

45ml olive oil

1-2 tsp fresh lime juice

1-2 tsp sherry vinegar

Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper

Whisk all the ingredients up together to emulsify. If the mayonnaise is too thin, whisk in a little more mayonnaise and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper, if it needs.



Ice-Cream Sundays

– A 1950s style ice cream parlour – opened on Pier Street in Kinsale in June this year. Owners Clare Atkinson, James Dixon and Kalai Barlow discovered a small but very good artisan producer – Clonakilty Ice Cream (087-9564693) – to supply all their ice cream in this colourful and vibrant little venue. Try the Rhubarb and Custard, Orange Crunch or Honeycomb Crunch or order a thick and creamy milkshake, blended with fresh fruit if you fancy. They also serve an excellent 100% organic, fair trade Italian coffee. Telephone 0863535264 or email Cupcakes

are still all the rage – if you’d like to order a box of the most luscious cupcakes you’ve ever tasted, contact Siobhan Grace of Cupcake Cottage on

086 1901566


Albert Perrin

of Shea Displays makes cake stands in Perspex to order. We display our cupcakes on a Perspex stand with five tiers, very effective. Visit the website or email Ludovic Lantier,

pastry sous chef at The Ritz Carlton, Powerscourt, is the winner of the first Valrhona Patisserie Championship 2009 organised by Valrhona Chocolates and Odaios Foods. His recipe Degustation of Alpaco & Tainori with Redcurrant was chosen out the six finalists on 23rd June.


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