ArchiveSeptember 2009

Old Fashioned Threshing Day – SlowFood

We were fortunate to have one of the most beautiful days of the entire summer for the Old Fashioned Threshing Event at Ballymaloe Cookery School. The event was held to raise money for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project, which links up with the local schools to teach the children how to cook, grow vegetables and fresh herbs. They visit the farm and gardens and learn about the chickens and free range pigs and cattle and the importance of rich and fertile soil.
They see the Jersey cows and learn where milk comes from and how butter is made, how to sow a seed, pick a tomato, dry onions… The children are wonderfully curious and enthusiastic and eager to learn.
The class divides in two – the little chefs and little farmers – the latter don their wellies and head off around the farm and vegetable gardens. The chefs tie on their aprons and learn how to cook a variety of dishes and then make lunch for the entire group and their teachers. They lay the table put a little vase of flowers in the centre and then all sit down to enjoy lunch together. After the meal they take the food scraps out to feed the hens and learn that the hens will reward them with eggs the next day. On their return visit the cooks become farmers and vice versa.
East Cork Slow Food also supplies several local schools with a chicken coop plus two hens so children can learn about how food is produced – you can’t imagine how excited both the children and the teachers are when the hen lays an egg. Shanagarry National School is one of a growing number of schools to have a vegetable and herb garden to teach children life skills. The first egg that ‘Ester and Polly’ laid was raffled to raise funds for the school as a result several children have encouraged their parents to grow vegetables and keep hens at home.
On the Old Fashioned Threshing Day, the Mogeely Vintage Club supplied the threshing machine and binder, they worked hard to thresh the wheat while The Bride Valley band played music and local producers, Jane Murphy of Ardsallagh gave people a taste of her goat’s cheese, Noreen Conroy of Woodside Farm, near Midleton had her pork bacon and juicy sausages for sale. Olive Kapil of Green Saffron ladled out steaming bowls of curry made from the fresh spices she and Arun import directly from Kerela in South India. People also queued in the hot sun for Baldwin’s ice cream and Mark Kingston of Golden Bean espressos and creamy cappuccino.
Philip Denhardt spit-roasted one of the free range pigs from the farm and served it in a bap from Cuthbert’s Bakery with homemade apple sauce, mayonnaise and cucumber pickle. Several stalls came from further afield; Peter Gibson from the Pie Man in Galway served delicious little quiches and pies and so did Lily Riley from Lily Riley’s Pantry. Michael and Mary Phelan of Rose Cottage Fruit Farm travelled all the way from Co Laois with their freshly picked strawberries, raspberries, damsons and blueberries.
Inside in the cookery school people could enjoy a threshing dinner with bacon, cabbage, parsley sauce and champ, followed by a big wedge of new season’s apple tart. There were a variety of games for the children, ‘Guess the Veg’, pancake race, ‘aubergine’ shy and a vegetable colouring competition.  Roy Daly gave rides on his pony and trap, all this contributed to the East Cork Slow Food Education Fund.
Darina Allen gave two cookery demonstrations – ‘How to Make Homemade Sausages and How to Make Soda Bread and Scones and a lecture on How to keep a few Hens in your Garden – to encourage people to enjoy a degree of self sufficiency.

If you would like to learn more about Slow Food Ireland visit

Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Tomato and Spinach Tart

Serves 4

8-10 ozs/225-285 g puff pastry
8 tablespoons Tomato Fondue (see recipe in Irish Examiner January 3rd 2009)
8 ozs/225 g spinach, string, blanched and refreshed
4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
4 ozs/110 g of mature Ardsallagh Goats cheese
4 teaspoons of Tapenade
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
A few Tunisian olives and basil leaves for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4

Roll out the pastry very thinly. (i.e. the thickness of a coin).  Cut out into 7-8 inch rounds and perforate the surface all over with a fork.  Spread each tart base with 2 tablespoons of Tomato Fondue and 1 teaspoon of tapenade.  Then divide the spinach between the tarts.  Place thin slices of goats cheese overlapping on top of the tarts. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Cook in a moderate hot oven for 10-15 minutes.  Serve immediately with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few olives and a couple of basil leaves.

Brown Soda Bread and Scones

Makes 1 loaf

10ozs (300g) brown wholemeal flour (preferably stone-ground)
10ozs (300g) plain white flour
1 teaspoon dairy salt
1 teaspoon bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda) sieved
3/4 – 1 pint sour milk or buttermilk

First preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl, make a well in the centre and pour all of the sour milk or buttermilk. Using one hand, stir in a full circle starting in the centre of the bowl working towards the outside of the bowl until all the flour is incorporated. The dough should be soft but not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, a matter of seconds, turn it out onto a well floured board. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Roll around gently with floury hands for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Flip over and flatten slightly to about 2 inches (5cm) approx. Sprinkle a little flour onto a baking sheet and place the loaf on top of the flour. Make with a deep cross and bake in a hot oven 230°C/450°F/regulo 8 for 15-20 minutes, reduce the heat to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6 for approx. 15-20 minutes or until the bread is cooked (In some ovens it is necessary to turn the bread upside down on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before the end of baking) It will sound hollow when tapped.  Cool on a wire rack.
One could add 12g (1/2oz) fine oatmeal, 1 egg and 12g (1/2 oz) butter to the above to make richer soda bread dough.

Brown Soda Scones

Make the dough as above. Form it into a round and flatten to 4cm/1 1/2 inch thick approx.  Stamp out into scones with a cutter, or cut with a knife.  Bake for about 30 minutes in a hot oven (see above).

Note:  Bread should always be cooked in a fully pre-heated oven, but ovens vary enormously so it is necessary to adjust the temperature accordingly.
If lighter bread is preferred, use 450g (1 lb) white flour and 150g (5ozs) brown wholemeal flour.

Homemade Pork & Herb Sausages with Brambley Apple & Sweet Geranium Sauce

Makes 16 approx. – Serves 8

1 lb (450g) good fat streaky pork
2-4 teaspoons mixed fresh herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, rosemary or sage
1 large clove garlic
1 egg, preferably free range
2½ ozs (70g) soft white breadcrumbs (made from good bread)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A little oil

Natural casings (sheep) optional

Brambley Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce (see Fool Proof Food)

Mince the pork. Chop the herbs finely and mix through the crumbs. Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Whisk the egg then mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fry off a little knob of the mixture to check the seasoning correct if necessary.   Fill into sausage casings and tie. Alternatively divide into 16 pieces and roll into lengths. Fry gently on a barely oiled pan until golden on all sides. They are particularly delicious served with Brambley Apple Sauce and Potato Cakes.

Bombay Aloo (mild)

This is Arun Kapil of Green Saffron’s delicious recipe. He sells all the spices mentioned at his fragrant stall at Mahon Point Farmers Market on a Thursday and at Kinsale Farmers Market on a Tuesday.

Serves 4-6 people


1kg (2lbs) potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled and cut into good sized chunks
125g (4ozs) clarified butter or 8 good tablespoons sunflower oil
175g (6ozs) onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons onion seeds
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
3 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
small fist full of curry leaves
1 teaspoon salt
a good handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

How to make your Bombay Aloo

Turn your oven on to medium / low. About 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 is fine.
In a sturdy roasting dish, mix the first five above ingredients; your prepared potatoes, ghee (or clarified butter or sunflower oil), onion slices and all of the spices and salt.
You can use a spatula or wooden spoon or get stuck in and use your hands! Whichever is your preference, just make sure all ingredients are well combined.

Pop the dish onto the middle shelf of your oven, shut the door and wait for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are a delicious golden colour.

Once or twice during cooking, carefully, with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula check on the potatoes and give them a gentle, but thorough little stir.
Turn off the oven, sprinkle with the fresh coriander, stir around to combine all the flavours and serve….simple.

Damson and Apple Jam

Makes 7 x 375g (13oz) jars

900g (2lb) wild damsons
900g (2lb) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1.3kg (3lb) sugar
300ml (10fl oz/1/2 pint) water

Put the damsons, chopped apples and water into a greased stainless steel saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until damsons are soft and the apples have broken down into a fluff, approximately 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the sugar in a low oven. Add to the damsons and apples. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved, increase the heat and boil until setting point (220ºC/425ºF) is reached. Skim off and remove as many stones as possible.
Pour in sterilized jars. Seal and store in a cool dry place.

Stall Holders’ Contact Numbers

Ardsallagh Goats Cheese 021 488 2336
Woodside Farm Mobile 087 2767206
Green Saffron Spices 086 833 1030
Baldwin’s Ice-Cream 086 3220932
The Golden Bean (Coffee)  086 8366325
Wildside Catering 086 68681863
The Pie Man 087 9821300
Lily Riley’s Pantry 086 0874157
Rose Cottage Fruit Farm 087 2700121

Fool Proof Food

Brambley Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce

The trick with apple sauce is to cook it on a very low heat with only a tiny drop of water so it is nice and thick and not too watery, always worth having in the freezer in little tubs in case you feel like a juicy pork chop for supper.

1 lb (450g) cooking apples (Brambley Seedling or Grenadier)
1-2 dessertspoons water
2 ozs (55g) approx. sugar (depending on how tart the apples are)
4 rose geranium leaves

Peel, quarter and core the apples; cut the pieces in two and put them in a stainless or cast-iron saucepan with the leaves, sugar and water. Cover and cook on a very low heat until the apples break down in a fluff. Stir and taste for sweetness.

Thrifty Tip

Negotiate with your shopkeeper to take overripe bananas off his hands and make banana bread, makes nutritious lunch box snacks and also freezes well.

Hot Tips

Blas an Fhomhair – Nenagh’s Community Harvest Festival and Lunch is on Sunday, 27 September, at Kenyon Street, Nenagh at 3:00pm.  This year’s guest chef is well known writer and journalist, Hugo Arnold of the Irish Times. The Blas an Fhomhair is organised by Tipperary Slow Food, Shannon Development and friends and is a showcase of local organic foods for National Organic Week.  Tickets are available at Country Choice, The Pantry Cafe, Nadur and O’Riann Vegetables. Phone 067 32596 for further information.

Wildside Pig in a Day Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Philip Denhardt and Ted Berner teach this exciting one day course on Saturday 3rd October 2009 9:30am to 5:00pm. Learn how to turn raw pork into sausages, bacon, salami, guanciale and pancetta. Even if you don’t rear your own pig, buying one and transforming it into the plentiful cache of cured pork products can be an economical, fun, healthy and delicious activity. Please contact Ted Berner 0868681863 to book.

Cloyne Autumn Harvest Festival
Cloyne Community District Council have organised their Autumn Harvest Festival for Saturday 26th September 2009 from 2pm to 6:00pm at St Colman’s National School.

Electric Picnic

For years the ‘inner hippy’ in me has longed to go to a rock festival but I’ve always chickened out at the last minute for a variety of reasons – those huge crowds seemed scary and would I not look and feel completely ridiculous in the midst of all those be-bopping young people.

JC Collery the mover and shaker behind the Slow Food Youth Movement is a Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate who also holds a Masters degree in Development Studies from Manchester University. He has a passion for food and last year after Terra Madre in Italy he hatched a plan to build a wood burning oven to cook great pizzas using local ingredients at the Electric Picnic in Stradbally. He was so fired up with enthusiasm about this amazing music festival where the organisers also have a real green mission to look after environmental issues and to provide a variety of good food for the 33,000 punters who flock to the 400 acre estate in Co Laois.

When he mooted the idea to the organisers they were totally up for it so Philip Denhardt, Glenny Cameron and Johan Van der Merwe headed for Stradbally, in Co Laoise. They borrowed an old tractor trailer from a local farmer, Joe Lawlor and built three wood burning ovens on top.
Philip made dough for 1,500 pizzas, buckets of tomato sauce from organic tomatoes and lots of basil from the green houses. They bought 12.5 kgs of Gubeen chorizo from artisan producer Fingal Ferguson. Lots of their friends, including Ted Burner and Ivan Whelan of Wildside Catering set up their spit and roasted a couple of Saddleback pigs from Noreen Conroy’s Woodside Farm. Paddy O’Connell was slicing strawberries and putting dollops of delicious natural yoghurt on his ‘ogranola’ to keep up with the growing queues.

I simply had to go, my daughter stole my wellies, but I found a paid of distressed Uggs and some colourful gear and headed off. The Electric Picnic blew my mind; forget the variety of music from opera and chamber music to soul and jazz, which was amazing. There were a myriad of fun installation art works, made of old pallets, bicycle wheels and a beautiful willow sculpture of a figure playing a huge violin.
There was a Farmers’ market, a Global green space, Body and Spirit area…. every creative vision was catered for. There were hot tubs, hammocks, massages, weaving classes, belly dancing, drumming classes, fairies breakfast, permaculture gardens, chai stalls and a million things for children to do.

But back to food, the organisers Pod Concerts and Aitken Promotions decided in 2007 that the quality of the food should match the rest of the event, so they hired a variety of great food stalls from all over the country and even the UK, to come and feed the hungry hordes of music lovers. This was enough to make John and Sally McKenna of Bridgestone Guides prick up their ears. In 2008 they launched their Bridgestone Guide Electric Picnic awards. This year a total of five awards were presented to the leading food vendors and much to delight of the Slow Food Ireland Youth Movement Pizza Stall they were awarded the ‘On Your Doorstep Award’

“Not only did the Slow Food crew cook superb local foods, they also built a wood fired pizza oven on site, on the back of an agricultural trailer. And the pizzas were to die for!” said John McKenna.
Joining Slow food Ireland in the winner’s enclosure were Natasha’s Living Food, winner of the Healthy Buzz Award.
“Natasha’s raw foods are packed with goodness, as well as deliciousness. This is the beginning of the raw food movement in Ireland”, said the judges.

The award for eco-friendly food sourcing and production went to Donegal’s Rathmullan House. “We were most impressed by Rathmullan’s determination to use only local fish, landed from day boats, because the marine environment is the most stressed of all our food resources. This is real food sustainability.”

Judges John and Sally McKenna and Caroline Byrne, of the Bridgestone Guides, added a special Judges Award this year. The Judges Award went to Helen Finnegan, maker of Knockdrinna Farmhouse cheese and pork in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny.
“Helen rears the cows, makes cheese from the milk, feeds her pigs on the whey from the cheese and then turns the pork into the most superb artisan meat, and she then takes it to the market and sells it to you. You can’t get closer to regional, local food production than this”, the judges commented.
The fifth award, for the Best Dressed vendors whose stall showed the most creativity and imagination, was awarded to The Mad Hatter’s Tea party who has now made it two awards in a row at Electric Picnic.

“The food at Electric Picnic is as wonderfully diverse and eclectic as every other element of this inspired festival”, said John McKenna, “the fact that the winners were Irish festival vendors shows how the relationship between great festivals and great local food is of pivotal importance’.

Some delicious food…

Irish Country Soup

This is another very substantial soup – it has ‘eating and drinking’ in it and would certainly be a meal in itself particularly if some grated Cheddar cheese was scattered over the top.

Serves 6

6 ozs (175g) un-smoked streaky Irish bacon (in the piece)
olive or sunflower oil
5 ozs (150g) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch (5mm) dice
2 ozs (50g) onions, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic (optional)
1 lb (450g) very ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced or 1 x 14 oz (400g) tin of tomatoes and their juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2-1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 pints (750ml) homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 ozs (50g) cabbage (Savoy is best), finely chopped

Chopped parsley

Remove the rind from the bacon if necessary. Prepare the vegetables and cut the bacon into 1/4 inch (5mm) dice approx. Blanch the bacon cubes in cold water to remove some of the salt, drain and dry on kitchen paper, sauté in a little olive or sunflower oil until the fat runs and the bacon is crisp and golden. Add potatoes, onions and crushed garlic, sweat for 10 minutes and then add diced tomatoes and any juice. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Cover with stock and cook for 5 minutes. Add the finely chopped cabbage and continue to simmer just until the cabbage is cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Sprinkle with lots of chopped parsley and serve.

Frittata with Roast Tomatoes, Chorizo and Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese

Frittata is great for a picnic or for a rock concert, easy to transport and can be eaten cold in wedges or inside a bap.

Serves 6-8

450g (1lb) ripe or sun-blushed tomatoes, preferably cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large eggs, preferably free range and organic
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 tablespoons basil, mint or marjoram
110-175g (4-6oz) chorizo, thickly sliced, cut into four
40g (1 1/2ozs) Parmesan cheese, grated
25g (1oz) butter
110g (4oz) soft goat’s cheese (We use Ardsallagh goat cheese)
Extra virgin olive oil

Non-stick pan 10cm (7 1/2in) bottom, 23cm (9in) top rim

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

Cut the tomatoes in half around the equator season with salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Arrange in a single layer in a non-stick roasting tin.  Roast for 10-15 or until almost soft and slightly crinkly.  Remove from the heat and cool. Alternatively use sun-blushed tomatoes.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl; add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, chorizo and grated cheese into the eggs. Add the tomatoes, stir gently.  Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs.  Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Divide the cheese into walnut sized pieces and drop gently into the frittata at regular intervals. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 15 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny.
Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set and barely brown the surface.

Slide the frittata onto a warm plate.

Serve cut in wedges with a good green salad and perhaps a few olives.
Alternatively put the pan into a preheated oven 170°C/325°F/gas 3. Alternatively cook mini frittata in muffin tins (for approximately 15 minutes). Serve with a good green salad.

Variation: For a yummy vegetarian alternative omit the chorizo and add 110g (4oz) grated Gruyère cheese to add extra zizz.

Top Tip
The size of the pan is very important; the frittata should be at least 3 cm (1 1/4 inches) thick. It the only pan available is larger, adjust the number of eggs, etc.

Smoked Mackerel Pâte

This would be easy to transport and is great slathered onto crusty bread or baps with a few slices of tomato and cucumber pickle.

4 ozs (110g) un-dyed smoked mackerel or herring, free of skin and bone
2-3 ozs (55-85g) softened butter
1/4 teaspoon finely snipped fennel
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2-1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste
salt and freshly ground pepper
crusty bread

Sprigs of fennel

Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste, add more lemon juice and garlic if necessary, it should be well seasoned. Put into little bowl or individual pots.

Serve with cucumber pickle and crusty bread.

Rum and Raisin Cake

A favourite picnic cake with lots of cutting, keep it in the tin for ease of transporting.

175g (6oz) raisins
6 tablespoons Jamaica rum
275g (10oz) butter
175g (6oz) golden castor sugar
4 eggs, preferably free-range and organic
50ml (2fl oz) milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
275g (10oz) white flour
1 tablespoon) baking powder
50g (2oz) walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans

23cm (9inch) round tin with a pop-up base, buttered and floured

1 1/2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

Soak the raisins in the rum for 30 minutes. Drain and save the rum.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.

Cream the butter, add the castor sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Separate the eggs, save the whites, add the egg yolks, one by one. Beat well between each addition, add the rum, milk and vanilla extract.

Mix the flour and baking powder together and fold in to the base mixture bit by bit. Whisk the egg white in a spotlessly clean bowl until stiff and fluffy.

Fold into the cake mixture one-third at a time, add the fruit and chopped nuts with the last addition of egg white.

Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkled with soft brown sugar and cook in the preheated oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until the top is golden and the centre set and firm. Allow the cake to cool in the tin, invert, remove from the tin, invert again and cool on a wire rack.

Fool Proof Food

Rosemary Lemonade

Makes 4-6 glasses

Delicious thirst quenching lemonade with a grown up flavour!

Freshly squeezed juice of 3 lemons
225ml (8fl oz) rosemary syrup (see recipe)
670ml (24fl oz) water

Mix the freshly squeezed lemon juice with the rosemary syrup and the water. Taste and add more syrup if necessary.

Rosemary Syrup

Makes 770ml (1 pint 7fl oz)

Use as the basis of lemonades or fruit compotes.

450g (1lb) sugar
600ml (1pint) water
2 sprigs rosemary

Put the sugar and cold water into a saucepan, add the sprigs of rosemary. Bring slowly to the boil, allow to cool, strain and store in a fridge. It will keep for weeks.

Thrifty Tip

Defrost your deep freeze; it’s more economical to run when it’s defrosted, this also gives you the opportunity to use up what is in your deep freeze.

Hot Tips

Apple Day

Irish Seed Savers Association’s annual Apple Day is on Sunday September 27th 2009
12pm to 5pm at Capparoe, Scarriff, Co Clare. Purchase some apple trees and learn how to create an orchard. Demonstrations include, bee keeping, vegetarian cooking and seed saving. Lots of fun kids activities too. For booking Tel 061 921866 or online at

Duck Eggs
For those who are looking out for duck eggs, Glenfin produce free range eggs that are brilliant not only for baking but for frying and poaching Telephone Brian 086 1714240.

Three 2009 Bridgestone Guide Electric Picnic Award winners.

Rathmullan House. Telephone 074 91 58188
Natasha’s Living Food. Telephone 0879743455
Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese. Telephone 056 7728446

Food Fairs

People are flocking to food fairs around the country. They have become a magnet for those who like to source local and artisan foods. Coupled with the growing number of farm shops and markets, it creates an opportunity for food producers to add value to their produce so they can continue to live on the land that they love or the area they have settled in rather then enduring the long daily commute to the nearest large town or city.


In this challenging economic climate, local Environmental Health Officers and dairy inspectors are anxious to support and encourage these enterprises. I recently visited the Four Rivers Slow Food event at Goatsbridge Trout Farm near Thomastown Co. Kilkenny. Generations of the Kirwan family have produced trout beside the mill stream which was originally dug by the monks of nearby Jerpoint Abbey. The trout ponds are fed by gravity feed from three springs of ice cold water.


Still with a twinkle in his eye, Padraic Kirwan, at 82 years of age, is the patriarch of the family. He started the business with his wife Rita in 1962. Padraic explained the life cycle of the trout from green ova to alevin fry to fingerlings and market size fish. His son Gerard scooped them up in a fishing net so that we could see them as we moved from pond to pond. Success, Padraic told me, depends on both God and nature. We’d already tasted fresh tout and smoked trout pate in four or five different ways cooked by Alan Cullen of Jerpoint Catering.


Several local farmers and food producers have come to display their wares. Joy Moore from Oldtown Hill Bakehouse in Tullaroan has been in business for ten years. For GAA fans Tullaroan is famous for the Lowry Maher centre housed in an 18th Century thatched cottage which one person mentioned to me was more important then visiting the Vatican for Irish hurling fans. Joy had a terrific selection of breads, cakes, buns and biscuits which she bakes from flour milled in Mosses of Bennelsbridge from local wheat. The milk comes from her dairy farm. For information on Slow Food events around the country see


The Brambley cooking apples for the tarts and crumble come from Phillip Little’s orchard in Pilltown, Co. Waterford which gives Oldtown Hill Bakehouse products a low carbon foot- print. Oldtown Hill Bake House employ fifteen people and sell all its cakes locally – an inspirational example of rural enterprise. (056) 7769263.


Bronagh Boyd who also loves to bake recently started Little Cakes of Happiness. One bite of her confections certainly produced a flow of compliments. Pecan, lemon drizzle and oatmeal squares were all absolutely delicious and sang of butter and fine ingredients. Bronagh sells in local farmers markets, 087 2841928


I also met Willy Dolan who rears mountain sheep near Leamlara in the Comeragh Mountains. Those who, like me, have a hankering for the occasional mutton or haggot as well as sliced lamb should contact Willy directly on 086-8583605.


Local cheese maker Helen Finnegan, whose cheese Knockdrinna many of you will know, was there with her range of cow, goat and sheep milk cheese. Helen also makes Lavistown Cheese originally made by Roger and Olivia Goodville.

Helen’s newest venture is a farm shop and café right in the centre of Stoneyford, Co.Kilkenny. A perfect stop on the road from Kilkenny to Waterford. Not only can one have a delicious slice quiche or a piece of orange drizzle cake they can also stock up on Helen’s home cured bacon, local fruit, preserves, fresh herbs and of course Knockdrinna Farmhouse cheese. Helen’s farm shop and Goatsbridge Farm will all be part of the Good Food Ireland food tourism trail in that area





Smoked Trout with Cucumber Salad and Horseradish Sauce

Serves 8

8 fillets of smoked trout (either smoked sea trout or rainbow trout)

2 Irish cucumbers

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

1 teasp. chopped fresh fennel or 2 teasp. chopped fresh dill

a sprinkle of wine vinegar

horseradish sauce


lemon segments

fresh dill or fennel

First make the horseradish sauce. Thinly slice the cucumber (with peel on). Sprinkle with a few drops of vinegar, season with salt, sugar and a little freshly ground pepper and stir in some finely chopped fennel of dill.

To assemble the salad: Place a fillet of smoked trout on each individual serving plate. Arrange the cucumber salad along the side and pipe some fresh horseradish sauce on top of the trout. Garnish with a segment of lemon and some fresh herbs.

Horseradish Sauce

This makes a mild horseradish sauce, if you would like something that will really clear the sinuses, just increase the quantity of grated horseradish.

8 fl ozs (250ml) softly whipped cream

2 teasp. wine vinegar

1 teasp. lemon juice

3 teasp. mustard

3 teasp. salt

a pinch of freshly ground pepper

1 teasp. sugar

½ tablesp. grated horseradish

Scrub the horseradish root well, peel and grate. Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Fold in the softly whipped cream, do not over mix or the sauce will curdle.

This sauce keeps for 2-3 days and may also be served with roast beef; cover so that it doesn’t pick up flavours in the fridge.



Pear and Almond Tart


This is certainly one of the most impressive of the French tarts, it is wonderful served warm but is also very good cold and it keeps for several days. Old Town Hill Bake house made a similar one which was absolutely delish


Serves 8-10


4-5 ripe pears, poached


Shortcrust Pastry

200g (7oz) flour

110g (4oz) cold butter

1 egg yolk, preferably free range and organic

pinch of salt

3-4 tablespoons cold water



100g (31/2oz) butter

100g (31/2oz) castor sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 egg yolk, preferably free range

2 tablespoons kirsch

110g (4oz) whole blanched almonds, ground or 1/2 ground almonds and 1/2 blanched and ground

25g (1oz) flour


To Finish

150ml (1/4pint) approx. apricot glaze


23cm (9inch) diameter flan ring or tart tin with a removable base


First make the shortcrust pastry,

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop. Whisk the egg yolk and add the water.


Take a fork or knife (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect the pastry into a ball with your hands. This way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although slightly damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper shorter crust.


Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes or better still 30 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.


Next poach the pears and allow to get cold. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Roll out the pastry, line the tart tin with it, prick lightly with a fork, flute the edges and chill again until firm. Bake blind for 15-20 minutes.


Next make the frangipane. Cream the butter gradually beat in the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and soft. Gradually add the egg and egg yolk, beating well after each addition. Stir in the ground almonds and flour and then add the kirsch or calvados. Pour the frangipane into the pastry case spreading it evenly. Drain the pears well and when they are cold cut them crosswise into very thin slices, then lift the sliced pears intact and arrange them around the tart on the frangipane pointed ends towards the centre. Arrange a final half pear in the centre.


Turn the oven up to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Bake the tart for 10-15 minutes until the pastry is beginning to brown. Turn down the oven heat to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the frangipane is set in the centre and nicely golden.


When the tart is fully cooked, paint generously with apricot glaze, remove from the tin and serve warm or cold with a bowl of softly whipped cream.



Coffee and Walnut Biscuits

Makes 8 full biscuits

Biscuit Mixture

175g (6oz) flour

75g (3oz) butter

50g (2oz) castor sugar

1 egg

Coffee Filling

25g (1oz) butter

50g (2oz) icing sugar (sieved)

1 teaspoon Irel Coffee essence

Coffee Icing

110g (4oz) icing sugar (sieved)

scant ½ tablespoon. Irel Coffee essence

1 tablespoon boiling water approx.

Fresh walnut halves to decorate

Sieve the flour into a bowl. Rub in the butter, add sugar, and mix well. Beat egg. Mix dry ingredients to a stiff dough with beaten egg. Turn out onto a floured board and roll out to 3mm (1/8in) thickness. Cut into 9cm (31/2in) rounds.

Bake in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 until golden brown, 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Allow to get cold. Meanwhile, make the coffee filling.

Cream the butter and add the sieved icing sugar and the coffee essence. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. To make the icing – sieve the icing sugar and put into a bowl. Add coffee essence and enough boiling water to make it the consistency of a very thick cream. Beat until smooth and glossy. Sandwich the biscuits together with coffee filling and spread a little thick coffee icing on top, decorate each biscuit with ½ a walnut.

Irish Apple Cake



This is something mummy used to make with new seasons apples, try it, it will bring back memories.


Serves 6 approx.


8 ozs (225g) white flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

4 ozs (110g) butter

4 1/2 ozs (125g) castor sugar

1 egg, preferably organic and free-range

2 – 4 fl. ozs (50-125ml) milk, approx.

1-2 cooking apples – we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier

2-3 cloves (optional)

egg wash

Ovenproof Plate (10 inch/25 1/2 cm)

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

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs, add 3 ozs (75g) castor sugar, make a well in the centre and mix to a soft dough with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half onto a greased ovenproof plate and pat out with floured fingers to cover the base. Peel, core and chop up the apples, place them on the dough and add 1 1/2 ozs (45g) sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit on top, this is easier said than done as this ‘pastry’ is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes approximately or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with castor sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.


Fool Proof Food


Trout with Cream and Dill

Serves 4

In season:

Little rainbow trout are available in virtually every fish shop. This combination is surprisingly delicious and very fast to cook. If dill is difficult to find use a mixture of fresh herbs.

4 fresh trout

salt and freshly ground pepper

8g (3 oz) butter

175ml (6fl oz) cream

2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

Gut the trout, fillet carefully, wash and dry well. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Melt the butter in a frying pan, fry the trout fillets flesh side down until golden brown. Turn over on to the skin side, add cream and freshly chopped dill. Simmer gently for 3 or 4 minutes or until the trout is cooked. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning and serve immediately.


Hot Tips


Chef Mickael Viljanen’s food is really making waves at Gregan’s Castle at the edge of the Burren in Co Clare – he recently won an award in the Irish Food and Wine Magazine awards. It’s well worth making the detour to taste his food and while you are there stay the night in the lovely country house hotel telephone 065 7077005

Slow Food Limerick celebrates free range pork at Curragchase, Limerick on Sunday 27th September 12pm to 5pm with a Tamworth pig on the spit. Entry fee includes demonstrations on bee keeping, bread making and pig keeping. Contact Caroline Rigney on 087 2834754 for more details

Details of this years National Organic Week from 14th to 20th September can be found on the Bord Bia website

Grow it Yourself

Everywhere I go, every dinner party, every pub, every chance meeting, the topic of conversation is always the same, recessionary chit-chat and endless whinging about the hopeless ineffectual politicians. Yet if one poses the question – “Well what would you do if you were Taoiseach or Minister of Finance?” No one seems to have a coherent answer and let’s face it, there are few amongst us would like to be in their shoes at present.

So while the politicians et al are trying to find a solution, let’s just get on with it and help ourselves. Ordinary people like you and I can make a difference. One of the most exciting recession busting initiatives I’ve heard about is the Grow it Yourself (GIY) movement, a new not-for-profit organisation which was started by young Dublin journalist Michael Kelly, who moved to Waterford with his family five years ago. They dreamed of the good life, growing their own vegetables, having a few hens, maybe even a couple of pigs. Despite their enthusiasm and know-how starting their own vegetable plot proved daunting. It was difficult to find advice, even beginners’ guides to growing-your-own are full of gardening jargon and botanical terms, which confounds the inexperienced gardener – cultivars, hybrids, tilth, chitting, broad casting, pricking out…

Michael was madly keen and for some time he searched around for micro producers or organisations of likeminded people or other to swap ideas and experiences and to improve his skills. To his surprise none seemed to exist, so in his indomitable way, he decided to start something himself.

An exploratory press release to a local newspaper attracted an astonishing response, instead of the 10 maybe 20 people he expected to show up, 100 people arrived for an initial meeting in the room he booked at the local library.

Michael’s plan was to have a monthly meeting where amateurs, enthusiasts and seasoned growers could get together to share ideas, learn from each other, swap seeds and seedlings and chat with people who were keen to do the same thing.

It took off; within a couple of months there were six GIY groups within a 50 mile radius of Waterford. It’s got quite a different profile of members to the gardening clubs, more men than women and lots of cool young people who have been fired with enthusiasm about self sufficiency by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver. Many are also spurred on by the realisation that the academic skills they have concentrated on to date are woefully inadequate in these changing times when basic life skills like being able to cook, garden and maybe keep a few hens are more beneficial for day to day survival and quality of life.

GIY meetings are free and open to anyone who is interested in growing food at all levels, from those who plant a few herbs on the balcony to complete self sufficiency. Everyone from beginners to old hands are welcome. Michael says there is a terrific spread of ages from a 12 year old who keeps his own hens to a seasoned 83 year old who grows vegetables in his garden in Waterford city.

Expert speakers share their knowledge at the meetings. There are practical demonstrations, garden visits, seed and plant swaps, produce bartering, mentor panels and growers meitheals. The latter draws on the old Irish tradition, where neighbours helped each other out during the hay making and threshing and at other busy times of the year. A group of GIY members now come together in the time honoured way to help someone who may get s overwhelmed by the prospect of tackling a briar or weed infested patch. There is tremendous camaraderie, neighbourliness and community spirit. It is so much more fun and develops social interaction while they dig or construct a raised bed together.

Michael wants to see a GIY branch in every town in Ireland. On Saturday 12th September. The first national GIY conference will be held in the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) from 9am – as part of the Waterford Harvest Festival – and will be opened by the Minister for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent. Other speakers include Joy Larkom, Will Sutherland, Clodagh McKenna, Michael Kelly…

Tickets which include a seasonal dinner are available from

Roast Red and Yellow Beetroot Salad with Rocket Leaves


Serves 8


500g (1lb) red beetroots

500g (1lb) golden beetroots

(60g) 2 ½ oz hazelnuts

90ml (3 1/2 fl oz) honey or maple syrup

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves of garlic crushed

75g (3oz) rocket leaves or baby spinach

lots of chervil

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6 wash the beetroot gently don’t trim the root and leave 1 inch of stalk on top. Put into a roasting tin, cover and roast for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until tender when pierced with a skewer. Meanwhile toast the sunflower seeds for about 8 minutes and the hazelnuts for 10 or more. Rub off the skins and cut in half. Mix all the ingredients for dressing together, when the beets are cooked rub off the peel cut into chunks, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Put into a serving bowl, add the leaves, toasted seeds and nuts and scatter with chervil.



Cucumber Neapolitana


This is a super recipe to use up a glut of cucumbers or courgettes and tomatoes. It is a

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


Serves 6 approx.


1 Irish cucumber

½ oz (15g) butter

1 medium onion – 4 oz (110g) approx., sliced

4 very ripe Irish tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2½ fl oz (63ml) cream

1 dessertspoon freshly chopped mint

roux (optional)


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

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



Every guest cook who comes to the school introduces us to a few treasures which we incorporate into our repertoire. Madhur Jaffrey whose recipe this is has contributed more than most; I would recommend her books to anyone who would like to add a little spice to their lives.

Serves 4

1 lb (450g) fresh green French beans

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon whole black mustard seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

1/2 – 1 hot, dried red chilli, coarsely crushed in a mortar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

freshly ground pepper

Trim the beans and cut them into 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths. Blanch the beans by dropping them into a pot of well-salted boiling water, boil rapidly for 3-4 minutes or until they are just tender. Drain immediately in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When hot, put in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop, put in the garlic. Stir the garlic pieces around until they turn light brown, (be careful not to burn or it will spoil the flavour). Put in the crushed red chilli and stir for a few seconds, add the green beans, salt and sugar. Stir to mix. Turn the heat to medium-low. Stir and cook the beans for 3-4 minutes or until they have absorbed the flavour of the spices. Season with freshly ground black pepper, mix well and serve.


Almond Tart or Tartlets with Raspberries or Grapes

Serves 12

110 g (4 oz) butter

110 g (4 oz) castor sugar

110 g (4 oz) ground almonds


poached rhubarb or sliced fresh peaches or nectarines

fresh raspberries or loganberries, peeled and pipped grapes or kiwi fruit

1/2 pint (300 ml) whipped cream

Makes 24 tartlets or 2 x 7 inch (5 x 17.5 cm) tarts or 1 tart and 12 tartlets

Cream the butter well and then just stir in the sugar and ground almonds. (Don’t over beat or the oil will come out of the ground almonds as it cooks.) Put a teaspoon of the mixture into 24 small patty tins or divide between 2 x 7 inch sandwich tins. Bake at 1801C/3501F/regulo 4 for 20-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown, 10-12 minutes for tartlets or until golden brown. The tarts or tartlets are too soft to turn out immediately so cool in tins for about 5 minutes before turning out. Do not allow to set hard before removing to a wire rack or the butter will solidify and they will stick to the tins. If this happens pop the tins back into the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts and then they will come out easily. Just before serving, arrange segments of peach or nectarine, or whole raspberries, or peeled and pipped grapes on the base. Glaze with redcurrant jelly (red fruit) or apricot glaze (green or yellow fruit). Decorate with rosettes of cream.

Peach or Nectarine and Sweet Geranium Jam

Makes 4 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars900g (2lb) sliced nectarines or peeled peaches

4 tablespoons water

350g (12oz) sugar, warmed freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon3 sweet geranium leavesPut the fruit and water into a stainless-steel saucepan. Add the lemon juice and the sweet geranium leaves. Simmer over a medium heat. Cook until the fruit is soft, about 10 minutes. Add the warm sugar (see page 000). Bring to the boil, cook for 5 minutes until set. Pour in sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place. Eat soon but keeps for 4-5 months.


Fool Proof Food


Rose Petal Syrup

Pour a little of this rose petal syrup into a champagne glass and top up with Cava or Prosecco to make a gorgeous perfumed aperitif. Stir and float a rose petal on top. Makes 800ml (1 1/2 pints)

225g (8oz) fragrant rose petals from an old variety of unsprayed roses

500ml (18fl oz) water

700g (11/2lb) white sugar, warmed

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juicePut the petals into a stainless-steel saucepan with the cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and simmer gently for 20–30 minutes. Strain the petals through a sieve, pressing to get out as much of the liquid as possible. Add the warmed sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, bring back to the boil and simmer, uncovered, until thick and syrupy. Pour into bottles and seal.

Thrifty Tip.

Take advantage of the free blackberry crop in the hedgerows at present, they freeze perfectly; use them for tarts, pies, sorbets…


Apart from the GIY launch at the Waterford Harvest Festival, other events include a Harvest Feast in the city centre on Sunday 13th September. Waterford and the sunny south east are celebrating its local food and artisan producers and are fast presenting a challenge to the Cork food culture.



Ballymaloe Cookery School

is holding the annual East Cork Slow Food Old Fashioned Threshing Event on Sunday 13th September 12pm to 5 pm. Forgotten Skills Demonstrations; How to make Homemade Sausages, How to make Irish Soda bread & Scones and How to keep a few Hens. Tickets are available on the day. For more information contact: 021 4646785 or email Organic Rape Seed Oil Ben and Charlotte Colchester have been farming organically for over 30 years on their farm near Urlingford in Co Kilkenny. Their daughter Kitty has now joined them to produce organic rapeseed oil which is a highly nutritious and versatile with a delicious nutty flavour. It is available in the Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop and at most of the farmers markets, Naas, Wicklow, Cork, Clonmel, Kilkenny… Telephone 056 88 31411 or find them on the Organic Trust website Midleton Food and Drink Festival now in its fifth year is on Saturday 12th September. For more information visit


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