ArchiveNovember 2009

Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking

A couple of weeks ago my daughter-in-law Rachel’s new book shot to the top of the best sellers list. Can you imagine Bertie’s reaction when he was knocked off the number one spot by a book on home cooking! This is Rachel’s sixth book in just six years. Can’t imagine how she manages to keep all the balls in the air with three little dotes to look after and regular stints on Market Kitchen as well. Up to recently little Scarlet Lily travelled backwards and forwards to London with Rachel and was a familiar to the Aer Lingus hostesses on the Cork route. Fortunately she was born smiling and continues to be placid and cheerful while Rachel literally fitted in her filming between feeds. This latest book is about the most important food of all, home cooking, the simple comforting food we prepare for family and friends and share around the kitchen table Rachel feels that “The value of cooking at home goes beyond having control over your ingredients (although this is profoundly important for health, wellbeing and your wallet, it’s also about gathering your loved ones together to share and enjoy the most fundamental part of life; it’s about teaching your children how to appreciate a home-cooked meal and showing them how much fun cooking can be; it’s about slowing down the busy pace of life when you can, but also knowing that when there isn’t much time you can still put a loving meal on the table make by you.

Home cooking is also about the joy of learning old skills and kitchen crafts such as making home-made sweets. It’s about feeling proud as a parent when making by hand your child’s very first foods. It’s about the wonderful kitchen smells and sounds and flavours that you just can’t get any other way.

You’ll not only find recipes for many occasions from breakfasts to dinners, you’ll also find trusted kitchen tips, such as home freezing, which not only saves time, but money too. I hope you and your loved ones enjoy every meal together, that you eat well, that you take a moment to appreciate one another’s company around the table, and above all, have fun cooking together.”

Either way the book has lots of irresistible breakfast, lunch and supper dishes, a section or a whole chapter on baby purees and desserts, snacks, treats and sweets. The baby purees are brilliant for the growing number of mothers who want to have control over their baby food – carrot, butternut squash and red lentil puree, avocado and banana mash or apricot, prune and raisin compote all sound delicious but for this article I thought I’d concentrate on sweeties, toffee, lollipops, fudge and Turkish delight. These are such fun to make and are terrific Christmas pressies for adults and children alike.

Rachel was recently awarded the Tatler Woman of the Year Entertainment award.

Rachel Allen – Home Cooking is published by Harper Collins

Rachel Allen’s Liquorice Toffees

Makes about 1.1kg (2lb 6oz) or 128 pieces.

These are up there as one of my favourite sweets. Ground aniseed is not easily available in supermarkets but you will find it in health-food stores or specialist food shops.

450g (1lb) caster sugar

350g (12oz) glucose syrup (available from a chemist)

1 x 395g tin of condensed milk

100g (3 1/2oz) butter

4 tbsp ground aniseed

Black food colouring

23cm (9in) square cake tin

Line the cake tin with parchment paper. Place the sugar, glucose syrup, condensed milk, butter and ground aniseed in a saucepan and cook on a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the butter melts. Bring to the boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 35–40 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until a sugar thermometer dipped into the mixture reads 115°C (240°F). Alternatively, check that the soft-ball stage has been reached (see the chart on page 299). The mixture will be reduced and thickened and rich golden brown in colour. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in enough food colouring (adding bit by bit) to give a strong black colour. Working quickly, carefully pour the mixture into the prepared tin, swirling the tin around to spread the mixture evenly. Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours or until cool and set (the toffee will become even harder after this time, so it’s best to score out the pieces at this stage).

Remove from the tin and peel off the paper. Cut the slab of toffee into 64 pieces (eight cuts down and eight cuts across) with a sharp knife and then cut each piece in half again to give 128 pieces in total. Layer the liquorice toffees spaced apart between sheets of parchment paper to prevent them sticking together or wrap each toffee individually in a small piece of parchment paper and store in an airtight container.

Rachel Allen’s Fruity Lollipops

Makes about 30 – 35 lollipops.


Not the kind of thing you give your children every day, but when making your own sweets you at least know there are no preservatives in them. Lollipop sticks can be bought in any good craft or cookware shop. It is worth investing in a sugar thermometer if you’re planning on making sweets because a specific temperature is often called for.


450g (1lb) caster sugar

1/3 tsp cream of tartar

4 tbsp undiluted fruit cordial, such as blackcurrant, orange or lime


Arrange 30–35 lollipop sticks (or wooden skewers which have been cut down to size) spaced apart on several large, non-stick baking sheets. Place the sugar, cream of tartar and 150ml (5fl oz) water in a heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and bring to a gentle boil while stirring all the time. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20–25 minutes without stirring, until the temperature on a sugar thermometer dipped into the mixture reads 143°C (290°F). Alternatively, check whether the soft-crack stage has been reached Stir in the cordial just before the syrup reaches this temperature (after 15–20 minutes). The mixture will bubble up, so be careful as it is very hot. Once the correct temperature has been reached, remove the pan from the heat and, working quickly, spoon small pools of the syrup onto one end of each lollipop stick and allow to set for about 5 minutes, until hardened. If you wish, wrap the lollipops in cellophane and tie with string as soon as they have cooled and hardened, to prevent them from absorbing moisture. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to a week.


Rachel Allen’s Turkish Delight


Makes about 1.1kg (2lb 6oz) or 48 pieces

This recipe is the smooth rosewater version, but if you like Turkish delight with pistachios, feel free to chop up a handful and stir into the mixture. It keeps for ages and makes a particularly lovely gift – one batch will fill quite a few boxes.

850g (1lb 14oz) caster sugar

3 x 7g sachets gelatine powder

125g (4Hoz) corn flour

1 tsp cream of tartar

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 tsp rosewater

Few drops of red food colouring

75g (3oz) icing sugar

20cm (8in) square non-stick cake tin

Place the sugar and 500ml (18fl oz) water in a large, heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes without stirring, until a sugar thermometer dipped into the mixture reads 125°C (257°F). Alternatively, check that the hard-ball stage has been reached. In the meantime, stir the gelatine, corn flour and cream of tartar together in another large pan. Measure out a further 500ml (18fl oz) water and gradually whisk it into the mixture, beating well after each addition, to form a smooth paste. Be sure to break up any lumps as the gelatine may cause the mixture to stick together a little. Place the pan on a medium heat and simmer, whisking all the time, for 3–5 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat. Stir the lemon juice into the sugar syrup as soon as it reaches the correct temperature (standing back as it will sizzle up a little). Working carefully, gradually pour the sugar syrup into the gelatine and corn flour mixture, whisking constantly.

Place the pan on a low heat and simmer the mixture gently for about 1 hour until it reaches 110°C (230°F) in temperature or the thread stage. Stir frequently to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan, particularly towards the end of cooking. Grease the cake tin with the sunflower oil. As soon as the mixture reaches the correct temperature (it should be a deep golden colour), add the rosewater and food colouring and stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading out evenly. Set aside to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight until firm. Spoon the icing sugar into a fine sieve and dust half of it onto a clean work surface. Turn the Turkish delight out of the tin and use

a lightly oiled knife to cut it into about 48 pieces. Dust with the remaining icing sugar and toss the pieces about to coat generously. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.


Rachel Allen’s White Chocolate Fudge

Makes about 900g (2lb) or 36 squares.

I find it hard to resist anything that contains white chocolate – and when combined with fudge … well! The white chocolate chips give texture to the traditional fudge mixture. Presented in a decorative box, it makes a wonderful present.

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 x 397g tin of condensed milk

100g (3Hoz) butter

450g (1lb) caster or soft light brown sugar

50g (2oz) white chocolate chips

18cm (7in) square cake tin with 2.5cm (1in) sides


Grease the cake tin with a little of the sunflower oil, line with parchment paper and grease again. Place the condensed milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan on medium heat, stir together and bring to the boil, stirring frequently t prevent the sugar from sticking and burning on the bottom. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10–15 minutes, stirring regularly, until a sugar thermometer dipped into the mixture reads 113°C (235°F). Alternatively, check whether the soft-ball stage has been reached. The fudge will also have darkened in colour to a rich golden brown. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and sit the bottom of the saucepan in a bowl of cold water that comes a few centimetres up the sides of the pan. Whisk the mixture vigorously for 7–10 minutes until it cools down and goes from being smooth, shiny and toffeeish to matt, thick and grainy in appearance (as well as becoming quite thick and difficult to stir). Whisking the mixture like this is important for ensuring that the fudge has a good crumbly texture. Pour half the mixture into the prepared tin. Scatter with the white chocolate chips and then pour over the remaining mixture, spreading evenly. (A palette knife or spatula that has been dipped in boiling water is perfect for this.) Allow to cool and then place in the fridge for 2–3 hours or overnight to set before cutting into about 36 squares.


Rachel Allen’s Toffee Brittle

Makes 400g (14oz)

This is divine as it is or covered in chocolate.

225g (8oz) butter, diced

225g (8oz) caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt


Place the butter, sugar, salt and 50ml (2fl oz) water in a heavy based saucepan, place on a medium heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20–25 minutes without stirring until a sugar thermometer dipped into the mixture reads 150°C (302°F). Below this temperature and the toffee will not set; above and the toffees will taste burnt. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, check that the hard-crack stage has been reached. Immediately (and taking great care as it is very hot), pour the syrup onto a large, non-stick baking tray (or one lined with parchment paper) and swirl the tray around to spread evenly. It will begin to set almost straight away, so you do need to work quickly. Once completely hardened, after 5–10 minutes, slam the baking tray on the counter to break into small pieces. Place the toffee pieces in an airtight container and store somewhere cool and dry.


Continuing our countdown to Christmas…

Another delicious Christmas treat, a German cake to make ahead and share with your friends… Mary Jo’s Stollen


Makes 2 700g (1 1/2lb) cakes

Brandied Fruit:

150g (5oz) mixed sultanas and currants

75g (3oz) diced candied cherries and citrus peel

1 1/2 tablespoons brandy

20g (3/4oz) fresh yeast (or 1 sachet dry yeast)

150ml (5fl oz) lukewarm milk

175g (6oz) strong white flour

75g (3oz) castor sugar

Grated rind 1/2 lemon

110g (4oz) softened butter

2 eggs

1 level teaspoon salt

275g (10oz) strong white flour


75g (3oz) ground almonds

60g (2 1/2oz) castor sugar

1 tablespoon egg white

Drop of almond essence

Melted butter

Icing sugar


Mix fruits, stir in brandy, cover with cling film and macerate overnight.

To mix yeast sponge, crumble fresh yeast into warm milk in a pyrex bowl. Allow yeast to soften. Mix in 175g (6oz) flour and beat well with a wooden spoon. Cover with Clingfilm and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes.

Place 75g (3oz) castor sugar in a mixer bowl, grate in lemon rind and rub into sugar with your fingertips. Add butter and beat until creamy. Add eggs one at a time; add the salt and scrape down the bowl to make a soft creamed mixture.

When sponge is light and well risen, add to creamed mixture along with 275g (10oz) flour. Scrape off beater and replace with dough hook. Knead on moderate speed for 10 minutes until is silky and soft. The dough should not stick to your fingers.

Remove hook, cover bowl with Clingfilm and allow dough to rise until doubled in size.

Knock back dough and scrape out onto a flour-dusted clean surface. Flatten to 1cm (1/2 inch) and sprinkle brandied fruit on top. Roll up like a Swiss roll and knead fruit through dough. The dough may grow sticky, but avoid adding more flour. Scrape fruited dough into a bowl, cover with Clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare the marzipan by mixing sugar, ground almonds and egg white. Flavour with almond essence if desired. Knead to a lump, divide in half and roll each half into a log.

Next day, remove dough from the fridge. Scrape out of bowl onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Shape each half into an oval and roll out to 2cm (3/4 inch) thickness. Make an indentation lengthways along the centre and place in long sausage shape piece of marzipan. Fold the oval in half with long sides meeting. Press together and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise for 1-2 hours in a warm place until light.

Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 30 minutes or until deeply golden and tests done.

While still hot, brush with melted butter and sift icing sugar thickly over the top.

Cool well before slicing. Will keep wrapped for 4-5 days and may be frozen.





Hot Tips

Great news from Teagasc

for those who would like to keep a few hens in their garden. Nuala King at Teagasc in Athenry is doing two on-line courses, one on How to Rear Poultry for Meat Production and another on How to Keep Free Range Poultry for Egg Production. Contact Nuala King on 091845228 for more details. Order some seed catalogues

so you can plan your vegetable plot for next year while you sit around the fire. Meanwhile buy a bulb of garlic, separate the cloves and plant them pointed end up, two inches deep on the 21st December – the shortest day of the year – they will be ready to harvest on 21st June 2010.

Slow Food Christmas Cooking Night Class

East Cork Slow Food

celebrate international Terra Madre day at Ballymaloe House on Sunday 6th December at 7:00pm. Join us for a dinner of local foods; meet the artisan producers, farmers, fishermen, cheese makers, bakers, charcuterie makers, chocolatiers… plus music by The Gardeners and lots of fun. Slow Food members €50.00 and non-Slow Food members €60.00. Booking essential, contact Emer – 021 464 6785 – at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday 2nd December – 7:00pm to 9:00pm, Slow Food Members €50.00 non-members €60.00 per person. Contact 021 4646785 to book.

Jim Tynan’s Kitchen

Last week I hopped off the train in Portlaoise on my way to Cork especially to make ‘an appearance’ at a book launch—not something I would do on a regular basis. I’d got an invitation a few days earlier from Jim Tynan to attend the launch of his new cookery book ‘Jim’s Kitchen’. I’d already had, what even for me, was a busy couple of days; Slow Food dinner in Belfast at Nick’s Warehouse, Master class in Food Tourism in Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, Dinner at The Shelbourne Hotel to celebrate 75 years of the Social & Personal Magazine in Ireland, a cookery class at Donnybrook Fair to support a past student, the lovely Monique McQuaid, and a visit to the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery….I was very tempted to stay on the nice warm train but really wanted to support Jim. I don’t know Jim well at all but admire what he has achieved over 27 years in his deli and Country Kitchen restaurant but more especially I wanted to be there because of his quiet kindness to myself and several of my brothers and sisters while my mother was ill in hospital last year. For over a week we took turns to be with her round the clock. Around noon we’d pop down to Jim for a comforting lunch; bacon, cabbage and parsley sauce or roast beef or chicken and maybe some apple crumble. Just what I needed as I struggled to come to terms with the inevitability of what lay ahead. We sometimes don’t realize how much a few kind words can mean to someone at fragile moments in their life.

Normally at a book launch the author and publishers would be well pleased if maybe thirty, forty, maybe fifty people turned up, well I have to tell you that literally hundreds of people turned up to wish Jim well and buy his book , I just about glimpsed him across the room, looking somewhat bewildered and overwhelmed by the huge response. I reckon he must have sold a fine percentage of the first print run right there and then on the first night.

The goodwill in the room for Jim and his family was palpable—obviously Jim’s Country Kitchen has touched many people’s lives. I was delighted to be there even though my presence certainly wasn’t needed to swell the numbers. Jim’s book, which is full of his customers’ favourite recipes, was launched by Margaret Jeffares, the dynamic powerhouse behind Good Food Ireland. Jim is a worthy member having preached the local food message for a long time now.

Here are a few of the favourite recipes from the Jim’s Country Kitchen, Kealew Business Park, Portlaoise.
‘Jims Kitchen’ is published by Jim Tynan 057 8662061.

Jim Tynan’s Sweet Sticky Chicken

Serves 4 – 6

Broccoli is full of Vitamin C which is very important for our skin and general immune system.  It is one of the few vegetable to contain Vitamin K which is good for your blood.

Most of the time broccoli is served over cooked, boiled until it is too soft.  One of the ways I like to cook it is to roast it in the oven with some spices like cumin and coriander seeds and maybe some chilli.  I like to do the same with cauliflower; I find it makes it more interesting.

8 pieces chicken, thighs are good for this

1tbsp honey
or brown sugar
4tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp vinegar
twist of black pepper
1tbsp sesame oil

Remove the skin from the chicken, mix all the other ingredients together and toss the chicken around in the sauce.  Transfer to a baking tray, drizzle any remaining sauce over the chicken, place in a hot oven at 200°C and cook for 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked.

Serve with mashed potato and broccoli or pasta.  This also makes for a nice cold lunch to bring into college or work and can be served with some noodle salad.

Jim Tynan’s Potato & Turnip Gratin

Serves 4 – 6

1lb/450g potatoes, peeled & thinly sliced
8oz/225g turnip, peeled & thinly sliced
4oz/112g butter
5fl oz/140ml cream
2oz/56g grated Gruyere cheese or Cheddar
2tbsp Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Peel and thinly slice the turnip & potatoes, wash and pat dry in a cloth.  Butter a shallow flameproof casserole or a deep gratin dish. Place a layer of sliced potato and turnip in overlapping rows on the
bottom of the dish.

Pour over 1/4 of the cream, sprinkle with a mixture of cheese (gruyere & parmesan), dot with butter and season with salt and pepper.  Continue this process until the dish is full, finishing with a layer of cheese.  Dot with butter and cook in a preheated oven at 170°C for about 1 – 11/4 hours or until cooked through.

If the top browns too much too quick cover with tinfoil.  Serve very hot. Great with a roast joint, steak, chicken or grilled liver & bacon.

Jim Tynan’s Mars Krispies Squares

Serves 4 – 6

4 Mars Bars, cut into small pieces
4oz/112g butter
4oz/112g Rice Krispies
marshmallows (small)
8oz/225g milk chocolate

Place the butter & Mars Bars in a saucepan and let them melt over a gentle heat, taking care not to let them burn. Remove from the heat and stir in the Rice Krispies and mix well. Place in a lined Swiss roll tin and press down, we use a rolling pin to push them down. Allow to set.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of hot water. Sprinkle the small marshmallows over the Krispies and cover with chocolate. Cut into squares.

Jim Tynan’s Spiced Apple Crumble

Serves 4 – 6

2lb/900g bramley apples, peeled & sliced
4oz/112g sultanas
1/2 tspn ground cloves
4oz/112g sugar
3tbspn water

Crumble Topping

8oz/225g plain flour
4oz/112g butter
4 oz/112g sugar

Place the flour in a large bowl and add the butter, using your fingertips rub in the butter until it looks like fine bread crumbs, then add in the sugar.

For a variation you can use brown sugar if you wish.  Place the sliced apples in a greased pie dish, sprinkle on the sultanas and the sugar, the ground cloves and just mix around a little bit.  You can add about 3 tbspn of cold water at this stage; it will just help the apples to juice up.

Sprinkle on the crumble topping and press down.  Place in a hot oven, about 180°C and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.

Jim Tynan’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

Serves 4 – 6

4oz/112g butter
6oz/168g caster sugar
2 eggs
rind of 1 lemon
6oz/168g self raising flour
4tbsp milk

1 lb loaf tin

Cream the butter & sugar together until light & fluffy, add the eggs and lemon rind then fold in the flour with a metal spoon and then add the milk.  Spoon into a pre-lined cake tin (7”/18cm round or 1lb/450g loaf tin), place in a pre-heated oven 170°C until cooked and risen in the centre, but it will fall a little when you cool the cake.

While the cake is cooking you can make the lemon syrup by placing 4oz/112g Icing Sugar and Juice of 1 Lemon in a saucepan and heating until the sugar has dissolved.  When the cake comes out of the oven make some holes in the top of it with a skewer and pour the lemon syrup all over it, leave the cake in the tin until it is completely cooled.

This is very nice served with some soft whipped cream and you could serve some red berries of your choice with it. A chilled glass of Limoncello (Italian liqueur) goes well with this cake.

Jim Tynan’s Brandy Butter Christmas Cake

Serves 4 – 6

8oz/225g butter, chopped
10oz/280g dark Muscovado sugar
10oz/280g plain flour
2lb/900g luxury mixed dried fruit
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4oz/112g whole blanched almonds
4oz/112g ground almonds
4fl oz/125ml brandy or sherry
1 lemon, finely grated rind & juice
1 orange, finely grated rind & juice
1/2  tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2  tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 140°C.

Put the butter, sugar, dried fruit, citrus rinds and juices and brandy in a large pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the butter has melted, then reduce the heat and let it bubble gently for 10minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for about 30 minutes.

Toast the whole almonds in a dry frying pan, tossing them until they are evenly browned (this helps to bring out the flavour).  When cool enough to handle, chop them roughly.  Stir the eggs and chopped and ground almonds into the cooled fruit mixture and mix well.

Set a sieve over the pan and sift the flour, baking powder and spices into the pan.  Stir in gently but thoroughly until there are no traces of flour left.  Spoon the mixture into a lined tin (8” square or 9” round) and press well into the corners.  Dip a large metal spoon into boiling water, and then smooth over the cake mixture to level.  Bake for 3 -3 1/2  hours until the cake is dark golden and firm to touch.  Cover the top with foil if it starts to darken too much.  Leave to cool for 15 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Continuing our Countdown to Christmas

Don’t forget to order your Christmas turkey, goose and ham. See the Cork Free Choice website. for a list of local producers.

Cumberland Sauce

Serves 8-12 approx.

Serve with cold ham, turkey, chicken, guinea fowl, game or rough pâtés.

1 orange
1 lemon
225g (8oz) red currant jelly
3-4 tablespoons port
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of ground ginger

With a swivel-top peeler, remove the peel very thinly from the orange and half of the lemon (make sure there is no white pith). Shred into thin julienne strips, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Strain off the water and discard it, then refresh the peel under cold water. Strain and keep it aside.

Squeeze the juice from the fruit and put it into a stainless steel saucepan with the jelly and spices; allow it to melt down. Then add the peel and port to the sauce. Boil it rapidly for 5-10 minutes.

Test like jam by putting a little blob on a cold saucer. When it cools it should wrinkle slightly.

Cumberland Sauce may be served in a bowl right away or it may be potted up and kept until needed, like jam.


Cork Free Choice Consumer Group – ‘Great Meals from Inexpensive Meat Cuts’ Darina Allen will explain how to buy and prepare nutritious meals from cheap cuts of meat on Thursday 26th November at 7.30pm at the Crawford Gallery Cafe. Entrance €6.

Festive Vegetarian Cookery class
– learn how to make a delicious meat free Christmas dinner with Karen Austin in Fionnuisce, Heron’s Court, Bandon on Saturday 12th December 10am – 3 pm. to book, telephone: +353 23 8846251 Email:

There are still some places on the Christmas Entertaining one day course at Ballymaloe Cookery School, to book telephone 021 4646785 or online

The Coolest Christmas Hampers
– Gubbeen Farmhouse is offering free delivery of their Christmas Hampers to the following Farmers’ Markets: Schull, Bantry, Skibbereen and Mahon Point. The hampers -packed in hand painted wooden trays – contain a mouthwatering selection: Gubbeen Oak Smoked Cheese, Fingal’s famous salamis, Gubbeen Cheese oatcakes, Gubbeen Greens chutney… Contact Giana Ferguson on 028 28231 to order or text 086 3809809.

Few people have the courage to open a restaurant in these crazy times but that’s exactly what Justin and Jenny Greene did in Lismore in Co Waterford. O’Brien Chop House serves delicious, simple food based on local produce: well hung meat from traditional butcher McGrath, and fresh fish from Kilmore Quay and home grown vegetables from the walled garden at Ballyvolane House. The word is out, it’s even difficult to get a table for Sunday lunch but try a week night or lunch – would be a terrific place for a Christmas party,  telephone 058 53810


In recent years I have become increasingly fascinated by the Muslim culture and am eager to learn more about the way of life and of course the food. I have enjoyed delicious Syrian and Lebanese food in several London restaurants, most notably Le Mignon in Delancey Street and Yalla Yalla Restaurant just off Brewer Street in Soho.
Syria is an intriguing country located between Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Almost 90 per cent of the population are Muslim and about 10 percent Christian yet Syria is a secular state with no official religion. Tolerance of religious minorities is actively encouraged.
Agriculture accounts for 60 percent Syria’s (GNP) Gross National Product and is the mainstay of the economy. Sixty five percent of the country is not considered arable, yet the country is self sufficient in food with lots of lovely fresh vegetables grown on its rich productive steppe land. An enviable situation and a not insignificant consideration in a country where sanctions are a perennial possibility.
Wheat, sugar beet, olives, lentils, cotton, tobacco, tomatoes, oranges and grapes are all grown organically. The main meats come from sheep, goats, chicken, and cattle, but I came across several camel butchers in the Souk in Damascus. Camel meat is supposed to increase men’s virility, and one butcher who seemed to be proof of the pudding proudly showed me photos of his two wives and 16 children!
In Damascus the arcaded souks line either sides of the cobbled streets and alleyways. Stalls selling the same products tend to be grouped together so to find a whole street of spice merchants so head for souk al-Bezuriife. I was particularly interested in the different types of za’atar and sumac and other unfamiliar ingredients like dried limes, dried rosebuds, okra and aubergines.
The chef at Four Seasons Hotel had kindly lent me a young English speaking chef called Roget to escort us around and answer my zillion questions. We found fresh pistachios still in their soft pink shells, slim Syrian pine nuts and a myriad of walnuts. Young men press fresh pomegranate and mulberry juice at every corner, another sells handbag shaped bread. Even if you have no intention of purchasing the souks are intriguing to wander through and linger in to catch a glimpse of Damascus life (acres of bright glittery clothes, carpets and sexy underwear.
Meat is freshly butchered and virtually still warm when sold, they seem to be particularly fond of the unmentionable bits, particularly the testicles and of course not a scrap is wasted.  Many butchers have a little open fireplace in their stalls where a variety of kebabs are cooked to order. Little bakeries are dotted here and there cooking bread to order as people wait.
There is a long tradition of street food in Syria. Lots of falafel stalls – chick pea balls stuffed into pita bread with salad and tahina or rolled in a wrap sandwich. Others specialise in shawarma, thinly sliced lamb or chicken from a revolving spit like the Turkish doner kebab stuffed into Arab bread. All are freshly cooked and inexpensive. Restaurants many of which are converted palaces or khans vary but we ate very well and cheaply over all.
Every meal starts with mezze, a selection of starters to be shared, some hot, some cold. A typical selection  might include some houmous, tabouleh, baba ghanoosh, moutabal, klibbeh, moussaka and a thyme salad.
For main course there seem to be a myriad of kebabs mostly chicken and lamb made with cubes of meat, others with mince either in balls or shaped around the skewer, sometimes chunks of vegetables were interspersed between the meat. In Aleppo we had a particularly delicious aubergine and lamb kebab and a cherry kebab – specialities of that city. Fattoush, consisting of stale Arab bread, tahina and chickpeas or meat was comfort food at its best. Dessert was either gorgeous ripe seasonal fruit, figs, kaki and pomegranates were in season or sticky sweet pastries similar to baklava stuffed with gorgeous fresh pistachio and dates and of course the ubiquitous crème caramel.

There is a rich baking tradition and many third and fourth generation patissiers are still turning out a dazzling array of beautiful biscuits. This article is about food but to most people the food is secondary to the monuments; don’t miss the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus, the awe inspiring ruins of Palmyra, the Roman Theatre in Bosra, the Krak des Chevaliers near the city of Homs and close to the border of Lebanon and the Citadel of Aleppo.


This refreshing and highly nutritious Middle Eastern Salad may be served as a starter or as a main dish. It should be predominantly green, just flecked with grains of bulgar. I like to serve lots of well seasoned cucumber and tomato dice with the salad and Arab or pita bread.

Serves 6-12 served as a starter or a main course

4 ozs (110g) bulgar – cracked wheat
1-2 ozs (25-50g) freshly chopped parsley
1-2 ozs (25-50g) freshly chopped mint
freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons or more if you need it
3 fl ozs (75ml) extra virgin olive oil
4-6 ozs (110-175g) spring onion, green and white parts, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper

6 very ripe firm tomatoes a selection of red and yellow, pear shaped etc., would be great, diced and sprinkled with a little salt, pepper and sugar
1 firm crisp cucumber, cut into 1/4 inch (5mm) dice
small crisp lettuce leaves eg. cos or iceberg
rocket leaves
black olives – optional

Soak the bulgar in cold water for about 30 minutes, drain and squeeze well to remove any excess water liquid. Stir in the olive oil and some of the freshly squeezed lemon juice, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, leave it aside to absorb the dressing while you chop the parsley, mint and spring onions.  Just before serving, mix the herbs with the bulgar, taste and add more lemon juice if necessary. It should taste fresh and lively.


Serves 6

There have always been delicious ways of using up bread, particularly in the Asian, South American, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries. Sumac flakes give this Syrian bread salad a characteristic slightly sour taste. If you can’t get Sumac, the salad will still taste delicious but not so authentic.

2 stale pita bread or 2-3 thick slices of stale sour dough or good country bread
a little bunch of rocket or purslane
2-3 teaspoons Sumac if available
1 mild sweet red pepper, optional
½ cucumber, coarsely chopped
4 ripe, vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into ¼’s and then into ½’s crosswise
3 spring onions, sliced at an angle
2-3 tablespoons parsley, freshly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves
2-3 tablespoons fresh mint

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic crushed
salt and freshly ground pepper, maybe even a pinch of sugar or a dash of Balsamic vinegar

If the bread isn’t stale toast the bread until crisp. Cut into uneven sized pieces. Chop the rocket or purslane coarsely. Cut the sweet red pepper into or rounds or dice. Put both into a salad bowl with the tomato, cucumbers and spring onions, herbs and bread. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Whisk the dressing ingredients together. Spoon over the salad, toss gently, taste.
Allow the salad to sit for at least 30 minutes, better still an hour before serving, so the bread soaks up lots of yummy dressing and juice.


Makes 6

7 ozs/200g chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 ozs/110g onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp flat parsley, roughly chopped
¾ tsp freshly roasted and ground cumin
½ tsp freshly roasted and ground coriander
½ tsp salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
good pinch of cayenne
¼ tsp baking soda
oil for frying

Day Before
Cover the chickpeas in lots of cold water and allow to soak overnight.
Next day, discard the water. Drain well.  Put the chickpeas into a food processor with the other ingredients. Purée until as smooth as possible.
Cook a little blob in hot oil to check seasoning.  Correct if necessary. Shape mixture into 2” rounds. Heat a 1” of oil in a frying pan (or use a deep fry).  Cook 3 or 4 falafel at a time, turning occasionally until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Falafel Sandwich
Serves 4
4 Arab bread or flour tortillas
16 freshly cooked falafel
4 ripe tomatoes sliced
pickled cucumber
shredded lettuce

fresh mint leaves
very finely sliced fresh lemon, cut into tiny triangles
tahina mixed with natural yoghurt

Lay the Arab bread on the work top. Squish three freshly cooked falafel in a line over the top side of the bread. Lay a line of thinly sliced tomatoes on top, then some pickled cucumber; fresh mint leaves, sliced onions and fresh lemon including rind drizzle with tahina mixed with natural yoghurt. Roll into a Swiss roll; tuck in the ends to eat on the spot. Roll in grease proof paper and eat like a wrap. If you would like to serve as a starter, cut in half and arrange on a plate with one piece propped against the other with extra tahina sauce and a little tomato salad.

Thyme Salad

Serves 4

This salad was featured on virtually every menu in Damascus but I was intrigued to find that it was made not with thyme as we know it but with fresh summer savoury. This salad was quite a find, because even though I grow lots of savoury every summer I’ve only ever used to enhance the flavour of broad beans.

110g (4oz) fresh summer savoury
4 medium tomatoes diced
110g (4oz) halumi cheese diced 1/3 inch cubes
thinly sliced onions
freshly squeezed lemon juice
extra virgin olive

Chop the savoury, including the soft stalk into roughly one inch in length. Drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil toss to coat. Transfer to a plate, garnish with the alternating diced tomato and cubes of cheese, lay three of each. Sprinkle with sumac and serve.

Syrian Laymoun bi-na na
Fresh Lemon Juice with Min
Serves 2

Freshly squeezed juices were widely available, lots of orange of course, but we particularly enjoyed this refreshing lemon and mint drink.

Serves 6

juice of six lemons
300ml/10fl oz/ (½ pint) stock syrup
300ml/10fl oz/ (½ pint) cold water
2 fistfuls of fresh mint leaves

Squeeze the lemons juice, pour the juice into a liquidiser, add syrup, fresh mint leaves and iced water leaves. Whizz until mint is fine and the drink is frothy. Pour into a tall glass, drink through a straw while still fresh.

Stock Syrup

Makes 28 fl ozs (825 ml)

1 lb (450 g) sugar
1 pint (600 ml) water

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed.

Pistachio Biscuits – Graybeh

Fresh pistachios were in season when we were in Syria in late October. These little biscuits can be shaped in several different ways, little 5cm or 2 inch rounds, 2 inch diamonds with a pistachio nut in the centre or in little rings as described below.

Makes 35 approximately

100g (3 ½ oz) butter preferably unsalted
125g (4 ½ ox) icing sugar
1 ½ tablespoons orange blossom water
1 ½ tablespoons rose blossom water
250g (9oz) fine semolina
50g (2oz) pistachios

Preheat the oven to 170ºC/ 350ºF /Reg 3.
Cream the butter, add the icing sugar and beat until soft and creamy. Add the flour and blossom waters and stir until well mixed. Knead until smooth. Pinch off walnut sized pieces roll each into a 4 inch rope about 1.5 cm thick. Pinch the ends together and press a little pistachio nut or even two into each where they join. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 – 15 minutes or until pale golden. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with a cup of coffee.

Continuing our countdown to Christmas
A Gorgeous Gluten-free Christmas Pudding

A delicious pudding suitable for everyone including coeliacs and those who would rather not eat suet.

Serves 10-12

200g (7oz) sultanas
125g (4 1/2oz) raisins
125g (4 1/2oz) currants
50g (2oz) homemade candied peel
50g (2oz) cherries
50g (2oz) almonds, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons brandy
110ml (4fl oz) dark Jamaica Rum

125g (4 1/2oz) butter
175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
2 organic eggs
110g (4oz) ground almonds
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon preferably organic
1 Bramley seedling apple, peeled and grated

1 x 1.2 litre (2 pint) delph or plastic bowl

Put the dried fruit, glace peel, cherries, almonds, brandy and rum into a stainless steel saucepan.  Warm gently, turn off the heat and allow the fruit to plump up in the boozy liquid.

Meanwhile cream the butter in a bowl, add the sugar and heat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one by one beating well between each addition, add the ground almonds, spices and baking powder, grated orange and lemon zest and Bramley apple, then add the plump dried fruit and the booze.  Stir well, better still, get all the family to stir and make a wish.

Put a little circle of greaseproof paper on the base of the bowl.  Fill with the mixture, smooth off the top, cover the bowl with a double thickness of greaseproof paper, tie securely with string or clip on the lid if you are using a plastic bowl.

Put into a deep saucepan, cover with boiling water, it should come two thirds of the way up the bowl.  Bring to the boil and cover, simmer for 4 1/2 hours.  Keep an eye on the water level and top up every now and then as necessary.  This pudding is succulent and delicious eaten on the day, but can be stored on the day.

Turn out onto a hot plate and serve on individual hot plates with rum flavoured cream or brandy butter.  Alternatively allow to cool, re-cover with silicone paper and store in a cool dry cupboard until Christmas.  Re-boil for 1 hour and serve as before.


If you plan a trip to Syria be aware that Syrian airlines cancel and change the time of flights on a regular basis, without prior notice – no refunds – but you can use your ticket any where within Syria over a 12 month period if you are back!

Noreen and Martin Conroy of Woodside Farm in East Cork – who produce delicious sausages and bacon from their free range pigs – have a new website, visit them at

O’Doherty’s in Enniskillen produces the most delicious Black Bacon that follows an ancient style of curing, a process that can take up to three months or more by combining two methods. It was voted best Irish Food Product by the Ballygowan Irish Food Writers.  Visit their website

Georgina Campbell Awards 2009

Awards are two a penny these times, so much so that they often come and go with minimum publicity.

However the recent 2010 Georgina Campbell Ireland Awards caused a significant stir not only because of the calibre of the winners but also because Georgina Campbell issued a dire warning about the consequences of incessant haggling in restaurants and hotels to the point where it has become totally uneconomic for many establishments to operate.

“Many fine establishments have cut costs to the bone and businesses are now literally hanging by a thread,” Georgina Campbell said. “Prices have often been reduced to an unsustainable level and yet there is constant pressure from the public to make even further cuts.”

Receptionists around the country have a litany of stories of being harangued and abused on the phone by prospective guests who have been encouraged by the media to continue to bargain, doesn’t matter what price is quoted.

The lengths that some people will go to knows no bounds.

Recently four ladies arrived in a local câfé. They settled themselves in and ordered four cups of boiling water, the slightly baffled but polite waitress served them and asked if they would like something else, they replied that they were fine thank you, whereupon the took a tea bag each out of their bags, added it to their cups, added sugar and milk from the table. They chatted away happily for half an hour and left without comment – an absolutely true story.

Georgina Campbell complimented this years award winners for showing. “A determination to keep standards up while prices fall” This is far from easy. If prices are cut too much it becomes impossible to deliver top quality service so when guests arrive they are disappointed when the experience does not live up to the expectation.

A lack of Government action means that fixed costs remain too high for many businesses and cannot be negotiated.

One hotelier who slashed his prices in an effort to maintain business finds he has attracted a totally different clientele and has lost his original loyal following. He now wonders how he can raise prices again in these recessionary times.

Back to the awards – Georgina Campbell’s Hotel of the Year Award 2010 went to the Brooklodge and Wells Spa, Macreddin, Co Wicklow owned by Evan Doyle. “Brook Lodge has earned national recognition for its strong position on organic food – and their organic food markets are legendary. ” Georgina Campbell said.

Campagne in Kilkenny, described as a “bling free zone” won Restaurant of the Year for “its exceptional dining experience. No fancy large plates, no extravagant flowers, nothing at all showy, just exceptional attention to detail, well judged flavour combinations and perfect French inspired modern cooking.” Doesn’t that description make you want to whizz to Kilkenny right away. Owner Chef Gareth Byrne shared his recipe for Deep Fried Smoked Haddock, Poached Egg, Spring Onion Hollandaise

Chef of the Year Award was presented to a chef I have admired for some time, Eamon O’Reilly of One Pico in Dublin. Next time you are in the city seek out his delicious food in Molesworth Place in the city centre.

There were a whole raft of other awards, four of which also came to Co. Cork. The Quality Hotel in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, owned by two local businessmen won the Family Friendly Hotel of the Year. According to Georgina “many happy families vote with their feet by heading back to this hotel, every year.”

The Natural Food Award went to Carmel Somers of Good Things Café in Durrus for “using the very best of fresh, seasonal and mainly local foods – and preparing them simply and with style, to showcase their natural goodness and the quality produce of the locality. There was also great excitement in Shanagarry – the Wine Award of the Year went to Ballymaloe House in Shanagarry much to the delight of Sommelier Colm McCan and wine consultant Sascha Whelan who have gone to extraordinary lengths to source special gems for the wine list. Many are exceptional value; some are unique to the list.

Another family business, Aherne’s Seafood Restaurant in Youghal, won the Seafood Circle Restaurant of the Year.

“Perfectly cooked fish and classic saucing are the hallmarks – but servings are impressively generous too, a point which won’t go unnoticed in these budget-conscious times. For the entire list of 2010 award winners see

So hats off to Georgina Campbell for flagging up this issue. Her advice to all of us is “to think twice before pushing restaurants and hotels beyond their limit” if for no other reason than enlightened self interest. After all we will no longer be able to enjoy our favourite places if they go out business – consumers need to think long and hard before pressing for even better bargains”

So how about a well deserved night out – support your favourite local restaurant otherwise they may have shut their doors next time you call.

One Pico Guinness Bread  

250g strong flour

250g pinhead oatmeal

200g wheat bran

125g wheat germ

½ can of treacle

1 can of Guinness or stout

3/4 tblesp bread soda

120ml milk

Mix all dry ingredients then slowly add in wet while continuing to mix place in two pre greased tins and bake at 160oc for 1 1/2 hours checking all the time please note fan assisted ovens vary times (*please watch accordingly) serve with crab salads or toasted with smoked salmon or simply toasted for breakfast.

(portion into 1/4 and freezes really well)

Brooklodge’s Grilled Organic Kerry Black Rib Eye Beef, Roast Portobello Mushrooms, Roquefort Cheese Crust – Red Wine Jus.

Due to the stalwart dedication of Raymonde Hilliard and others in protecting The Kerry Black Cow down through the years, we now have a sizeable herd in Ireland. And there are now regular occasions in the kitchen of The Strawberry Tree where we have the honour of serving this to our guests, here is one of our recipes. We use organic ingredients at Brooklodge.


4 x 200g Kerry black rib eye beef

4 x Portobello mushrooms

80g Roquefort cheese

1 onion

100g bread crumbs

80g butter

A few sprigs thyme, parsley and bay leaves

1 clove garlic

¼ bottle of red wine

½ litre of beef stock

salt and black pepper

Cheese Crust:

Soften the butter in a mixing bowl, add the cheese and whisk together, add bread crumbs, chopped garlic, parsley, thyme and ½ one onion add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Red wine Jus:

Slice the remaining ½ onion and cook in pan till caramelised, add red wine and bay leaf and reduce heat till a syrup, then add beef stock and reduce till sauce consistency, add salt and pepper to taste.

Roast the Portobello Mushrooms in the oven with a little butter, thyme salt & pepper. Grill the rib eyes in a grillette pan to your liking, add the cheese crust and then grill till crusty. Serve with the mushrooms and sauce.


Ahern’s Poached Turbot & Prawns with a Chablis Cream Sauce

200g fillet of turbot

5 cooked peeled fresh prawns

75 ml white wine

1 lemon

1 onion

75 ml cream

4 oz butter

Herbs: chives, coriander, parsley

Poach the fillet of turbot in wine, water, lemon wedges & herbs. When Turbot is cooked (opaque in colour), remove from liquid & reduce liquid to ½ of its volume, add a little cream and whisk in 4oz of butter. Replace the fillet of turbot in the sauce Add chopped herbs then serve with fresh parsley & lemon wedge …

Monkfish could be substituted for Turbot.


Campagne’s Deep Fried Smoked Haddock, Poached Egg, Spring Onion Hollandaise

4 portions


4 x 100 g portions natural smoked haddock

50 g flour

50 g egg white

100 g panko breadcrumbs

4 egg yolks

2 tbsp lemon juice

200 g clarified butter

½ bunch spring onion, very finely sliced

4 organic or free range eggs

mashed potato

For the haddock

Remove skin and any small bones from the fish dust lightly with the flour, remove the excess and then dip into the egg white, drain and dip into the breadcrumbs, coat evenly and place in fridge while preparing the poached eggs and sauce

Bring a pan of water to the boil add a dash of vinegar and poach the eggs to your liking, remove and keep warm

Place the butter in a pan and heat until melted and slightly warm

Whisk egg yolks and lemon juice together over a very low heat until a sabayon forms and the egg yolks are thick but not scrambled, slowly add the melted butter a little at a time until it is all incorporated, season with salt and add the spring onion to serve. Warm the mashed potato and pipe onto warm plates. Deep fry the haddock at 180°C until golden brown, remove from fryer and season. Gently reheat the eggs and place on top of the mashed potato, placing the haddock beside it. Put a good tablespoon of sauce over the egg and serve immediately

One Pico Vanilla Cheese Cake Mousse with Berry Compote


serves 4

150g Philadelphia cream cheese

50g double cream

30g castor sugar

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

Squeeze of juice from 1/4  lemon (1 teaspoon)


For the topping

6 plain hobnob biscuits

25g sugar


Berry Compote

100gr frozen mixed berries

50gr castor sugar

 First make the berry compote by reducing berries and sugar to a thick compote by placing in a pan for 10 minutes set aside and cool. Now make the biscuit base.

Crush the biscuits to a rough crumble texture. Place the biscuit mix into a large pan, sprinkle with sugar and caramelise quickly for 5 minutes. Cool & set aside. Now make the cheese filling. Place the cream cheese, sugar and the seeds from the vanilla pod into a mixing bowl. Whisk on a low setting until it is mixed well. Now add the cream, a little at a time making sure there are no lumps. Then add the juice from ½ a lemon and whisk until the mixture starts to thicken. As soon as the mixture becomes thick turn the machine off. Place in a piping bag ready to pipe.

Firstly place compote in martini glass, then pipe in cheesecake mousse then top with caramelised biscuit

Brooklodge’s Marmalade Pudding

6 Portions

This is a recipe given to The Strawberry Tree by the wonderful Shirley Spear. Shirley runs the acclaimed Three Chimneys Restaurant on a remote corner of The Isle of Skye off Scotland. A fabulous Winter Pudding to warm you whether in Ireland or The Isles!

150g brown bread crumbs

120g light brown sugar

25g self raising wholemeal flour

120g butter

360g coarse cut marmalade

3 eggs

1tsp bicarbonate soda

1tsp boiling water

– Melt the butter and marmalade in a saucepan over a gentle heat.

– Mix the flour, bread crumbs and sugar and add to marmalade and butter.

– Whisk eggs till fluffy and gently beat into the marmalade mixture.

– Dissolve Bicarbonate with water and add to mixture.

– Pour into a 2lb pudding bowl, wrap tightly, put into saucepan of water and cover, bring to the boil & simmer for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.


Continuing our countdown to Christmas…


This week why not make a few homemade a few jams and chutneys to use as condiments over Christmas – they also make delicious edible gifts to give to your friends and will solve some of your Christmas present problems.

Apple and Tomato Chutney

Makes 10 x 1 lb (450 g) pots

7-8 lbs (3.2-3.4 kg) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped

1 lb (450 g) eating apples, peeled and chopped

3 lbs (1.35 kg) sugar

1 1/2 pints (900 ml) white malt vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

3 teaspoons ground black pepper

3 teaspoons all spice

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper

8-12 oz (225-340 g) sultanas

Prepare all the ingredients. Put into a large wide stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer steadily until reduce and slightly thick – 1 hour, approx. Pot in sterilized jars.

Beetroot Chutney

Delicious with cold meats and cheese, allow to mature for a couple of weeks before tucking in.

Makes 6 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars

900g (2 lbs) raw beetroot, peeled

450g (1 lb) onion, diced

450g (1 lb) cooking apples, peeled and diced

25g (1oz) grated ginger

1 teaspoon salt

600ml (1 pint) cider vinegar

350g (12oz) granulated sugar

Chop the beetroot finely. Put into a stainless steel saucepan with the diced onion and apples. Add the grated ginger, salt and vinegar.

Cover and simmer until the beetroot is soft and the apples have cooked to a fluff, approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours.

Add the sugar and cook until thick, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pot into sterilized jars and cover with non reactive lids. Store in a dark airy place.




Great cookery classes at Brennans.

Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate Lucy Hyland and Chef Gary Masterson will teach a series of cookery classes that focus on super foods to help you feel great on the 23rd and 26th November, and at Thompson’s Farmshop, Carrigaline on the 17th November 2009. Cost per session is €55. See or contact Lucy on 086 8179964.Sage Café Deli

in Main Street, Youghal, where you can find delicious freshly baked brown bread, scones, cakes and good coffee from Cork Coffee Roasters (087) 7766322. Contact Joan Collins at Sage (024) 85844.Don’t miss the Listowel Food Fair

from the 5th to the 8th of November 2009. For details of the exciting programme of events go to


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