Keith Floyd


I always had a great fondness for Keith Floyd, the flamboyant TV chef who tore up the script and did it his way. What a breath of fresh air he brought to cookery programs adlibbing instructions to his long suffering TV crew. I first met him in the mid 80s when he bounced into the cookery school, bow tie askew with his long standing producer David Prichard, apologising for being three or four hours late. He wanted to film me teaching him how to make Irish stew but arranged to be reading the racing page at the back of the class; I’d never seen a TV camera in my life before that day and was terrified and hugely embarrassed in front of my students. We got off to reasonable start but when I told him to put down the paper and pay attention (as I’d been instructed) he had forgotten my name so we had to start all over again. After several abortive attempts, he suggested we have a glass of wine so after that everything went swimmingly, so much so that after we’d filmed the piece he same out and said to the others ‘she should do TV you know, she’s a natural’. We were all very amused, it hadn’t even occurred to me; in fact it was several years before RTE approached me to do the Simply Delicious Series.

Keith had a wonderful raffish charm and an infectious enthusiasm which was contagious. Our paths crossed occasionally during the years, he was always genial and larger than life but strangely sad and shy when one caught a glimpse of the real Floyd underneath.
Sadly he was less successful in business and one restaurant after the other, though hugely popular was not financially successful. A life long bon-viveur he struggled with a love of wine. Recently he had been suffering from cancer but at the time of his death – he lived in Provence with his life long friend Celia Martin – he had just been given an encouraging report from his doctor. The news provided him with a reason to celebrate Celia’s birthday and his good fortune. We are told that he dined on oysters with potted shrimps, red legged partridge with bread sauce and Perry jelly – a pear cider made into jelly with champagne and good wine. A fitting finale for a larger than life character. Many of us owe him a debt. Thank you Floyd for your contribution to the food world and for all your inspiration.

Ballymaloe Potted Shrimps

Serves 4 as a first course

1/2 clove garlic
salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 ozs (50-75g) clarified butter
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
4ozs (110g) shelled shrimps
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Crush the garlic to a paste with a little salt. Bring clarified butter to the boil with thyme leaves and garlic. Add shrimps and toss for about 30 seconds, leave to rest.  Season carefully with 1 or 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. Pack into pots and run a little more melted butter over the top, put into the fridge and allow to set. Serve at room temperature with melba toast or crusty bread.

Potted shrimps will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

Keith Floyd’s Partridge with Morels

Taken from ‘Floyd on France’ published by BBC books.

1 partridge per person, plucked gutted, giblets reserved
1lb (500g) fresh morels
5 oz (150g) smoked bacon, diced
1 small onion per partridge
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons nut oil
5ox (150g) butter
1 lump sugar
10fl oz (300ml) double cream

Marinate the partridge giblets overnight in Armagnac. Stuff each bird with 1 morel, 2 pieces of bacon, half an onion, pinch of thyme, salt and pepper and sew up the opening.
Brown the partridges in the oil and butter in a large flameproof casserole. Then add the rest of the bacon and the onions. When the onions have started to colour, flame with Armagnac. Throw in 10fl oz until the sauce is well reduced, then stir in the sugar and cream and allow to thicken. Check the seasoning and serve.

Keith Floyd’s Pear and Raisin Tarts

Taken from ‘Floyd on France’ published by BBC books.

For the filling:

1lb (500g) pears, peeled, cored and quartered
4oz (125g) sugar
4 cubes dark chocolate
5 oz (150g) raisins
finely grated rind of 1 orange

For the pastry:
7oz (200g) flour sifted
4oz (125g) butter cut into small pieces
3 egg yolks, beaten
pinch of salt
Cook the pears in 10fl oz (300ml) water with the sugar, chocolate, raisins and orange rind, until you have a thick compote.
Meanwhile, make the pastry Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the butter and 4 tablespoons water, 2 of the egg yolks and salt. Mix together and knead until you have a firm, elastic dough – add more water if necessary. Allow to rest for 30 minutes. Roll out the pastry into a rough square, approximately ¼ inch (6mm) thick. Cut rounds in the pastry with a cutter or glass and put a small dollop of compote on each. Fold in two and seal the edges with water. Paint with the remaining egg yolk and place on a buttered sheet. Pop into a hot oven, gas mark 6 400ºF (200°C) for about 20 minutes.

Keith Floyd’s Alsatian Plum Tart

Taken from ‘Floyd on France’ published by BBC books.

Bilberries can also be used, in which case omit the cinnamon.

For the pastry
10oz (300g) wheat flour, sifted
5oz (150g) butter cut into small pieces
¼ – ½ oz (7 – 15g) fine salt
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
For the filling
2fl oz (50ml) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 oz (125g) caster sugar
2lb (1kg) firm plums, stoned and halved lengthways
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Put the flour into a large bowl, make a well in the centre, and add the butter, salt, sugar and egg. Mix with your fingertips until well amalgamated and roll into a ball. Knead on a floured board until smooth, Wrap in a floured cloth and refrigerate for a couple of hours. When the pastry is well rested, roll it out on a floured board to an approximate thickness of ¼ inch. (6mm). liberally butter a flan dish (best to use one with a removable base) and line it with pastry. Prick the bottom all over with a fork and bake blind in the oven at gas mark 5, 375ºF (190°C) for 20 minutes.
While the pastry is cooking beat the eggs, milk, vanilla, and 1 oz (25g) of the sugar together. Pour into the pastry shell and return to the oven at, gas mark 5, 375ºF (190°C), allow the custard to set but not to discolour.
Remove the tart from the oven and arrange the plums in concentric circles on the custard, some skin side up, some down. Return to a hot oven, gas mark 7, 425ºF (220°C) for 20 minutes.
Remove and sprinkle with the remaining 3oz (75g) sugar. Pop back in the oven for a final 5 minutes.

Count Down to Christmas

Someone has just reminded me that it’s only twelve weeks to Christmas, how incredible is that… Well this year I am determined to start well ahead so we have no last minute scramble. We’ll do a countdown to Christmas every week between now and Christmas in the Examiner.
So how about having a Yule box to save any loose change for little treats…
Both the mincemeat and plum pudding can be made very soon. This week I include my favourite mincemeat recipe – this one keeps for ages. For extra deliciousness why not make your own candied peel from left over citrus peels. Go along to your local butcher and ask for fresh suet, if you are a good customer it may even be free, otherwise buy a packet ready prepared but this year it’s all about saving the pennies and enjoying the experience of making your own Christmas feast.

Ballymaloe Mincemeat

Makes 3.2 kilos approx. Makes 8-9 pots.

2 cooking apples, e.g. Bramley Seedling
2 organic lemons
450g (1lb) beef suet
pinch of salt
110g (4oz) mixed peel (preferably homemade)
2 tablespoons Séville orange marmelade
225g (8oz) currants
450g (1lb) sultanas
900g (2lbs) Barbados sugar (moist, soft, dark-brown)
62ml (2 1/2fl oz) Irish whiskey

Core and bake the whole apples in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, for 30 minutes approx. Allow to cool.  When they are soft, remove the skin and mash the flesh into pulp.  Grate the rind from the lemons on the finest part of a stainless steel grater and squeeze out the juice and stir into the pulp.  Add the other ingredients one by one, and as they are added, mix everything thoroughly.  Put into sterilized jars, cover and leave to mature for 2 weeks before using.  This mincemeat will keep for a year in a cool, airy place.

Homemade Candied Peel

Fruit should be organic if possible, otherwise scrub the peel well.

5 organic unwaxed oranges
5 organic unwaxed lemons
5 organic unwaxed grapefruit   (or all of one fruit)
1 teaspoon salt
3 lbs (1.35kg) sugar

Cut the fruit in half and squeeze out the juice. Reserve the juice for another use, perhaps homemade lemonade. Put the peel into a large bowl (not aluminium), add salt and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for 24 hours. Next day throw away the soaking water, put the peel in a saucepan and cover with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil cover and simmer very gently until the peel is soft, 3 hours approx. Remove the peel and discard the water. Scrape out any remaining flesh and membranes from inside the cut fruit, leaving the white pith and rind intact. (You could do the next step next day if that was more convenient).
Slice the peel into nice long strips.

Dissolve the sugar in 1 1/4 pints (750ml) water, bring it to the boil, add the peel and simmer gently until it looks translucent, 30 – 60 minutes and the syrup forms a thread when the last drop falls off a metal spoon. Remove the peel with a slotted spoon, fill the candied peel into sterilised glass jars and pour the syrup over, cover and store in a cold place or in a fridge. It should keep for 6-8 weeks or longer under refrigeration.

Alternatively spread on a baking tray or trays and allow to sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour to cool. Toss in castor sugar and store in covered glass jars until needed.

Fool Proof Food

How to Prepare Suet

To prepare suet start by asking your butcher for the fat that surrounds beef kidneys. Remove and discard the papery membrane and any red veins or fragments of meat. If you’re not meticulous about this, these bits will deteriorate and the suet won’t keep properly. The fat will separate into natural divisions. Chop it coarsely and either mince or whizz it in a food-processor for a minute or two or until it’s evenly grainy (years ago people used to grate suet on a simple box grater.) Refrigerate and use within a couple of days but if it has been properly trimmed it will keep for weeks in a fridge.

Thrifty Tip

Prepare your own suet for plum pudding and mincemeat, see above…


The Autumn series of night classes begin at Ballymaloe Cookery School on the 7th October every Wednesday evening at 7:00pm – 9:30pm until 25th November, 2009. Learn how to cook delicious affordable food for family and friends. Sign up for all eight classes for €350.00 or pay by class €50.00. For further information and on the different menus and to book phone (021) 4646 785 or visit

New Farmers Market
There is a brand new Farmers’ Market at East Douglas Village with twenty four exciting stalls every Friday from 10am to 3pm. Contact Roseanne Kidney on 086 8283310, email or visit

Campbell’s Tea recently won two gold stars in the Great Taste Awards 2009 in London for their tea that is still sold in an attractive yellow and gold tin with a taste that brings back memories of granny’s kitchen or of the little old shops that used to stock it.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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