Tasty and Tempting Christmas Treats

Lots of last minute preparation still to be done despite your best intentions? Don’t worry we are all in the same boat!  In this Christmas Eve column I thought I’d concentrate on easy suppers and little nibbles. If you have even a few minutes to dash to the shops or market, make sure to stock up with some of Fingal Ferguson’s Gubbeen salami and chorizo and some good smoked fish. Just nibble the cured sausage or use for Chorizo fritters. If you want to splash out, some of Frank Hederman’s smoked eel or mussels are a memorable treat. If funds are running low, smoked mackerel is less expensive but equally delicious. Don’t miss the smoked haddock or hake either, it’s a foodie feast when thinly sliced and drizzled with sweet dill mayonnaise. I also love Ummera, Woodcock Smokery and Bill Casey’s organic Shanagarry smoked salmon, always a terrific standby served with Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread. A few Irish farmhouse cheeses are also a

must-have and a melted Gubbeen would be perfect for an easy Christmas Eve supper around the fire with crusty bread or potato wedges to dip into the gooey cheese.

There are so many Irish farmhouse cheeses to serve proudly it’s difficult to choose. I’ve got a gorgeous Durrus ripening up, a Bellingham Blue from Castlebellingham, Co Louth, a Clonmore Goat Cheese from Tom Biggane and a Cáis Rua from Fermoy Cheese. Remember your local farmhouse cheese makes a perfect inexpensive present and buying locally has the extra feel good factor of putting money back into your own community. I love to serve a little membrillo (quince paste) with farmhouse cheese, this is available at most cheese shops and at Farmer’s Market stands, it keeps forever and you’ll buy a nice slab for a couple of euro. A few Turkish figs tied on raffia string are also great with cheese as are plump Medjool dates. I get the former at Urru in Bandon and the Village Greengrocer in Castlemartyr among others sell great Medjool dates in the midst of local and exotic fruit and vegetables.

I’ve also picked out a few simple dishes to share with family and friends. How about Baked Eggs with Creamy Kale, this comes from Rachel’s new book Entertaining at Home. Parmesan custards with anchovy toasts are irresistible too. I’m ‘over’ mulled wine but still love mulled apple juice – let’s fill our glasses, make a toast with this one, Happy Christmas to all our readers.  2011 will be great after all things can only get better – surely and remember every day a little treat!


Mulled Apple Juice


Serves 8

1 orange preferably unwaxed

1 x 750ml (1 1/4 pints) bottle pure apple juice

1 x 750ml (1 1/4 pints) bottle water

12 whole cloves

3 small cinnamon sticks

75g (3ozs) golden castor sugar

6 all spice or pimento berries

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Wash the orange in warm water, remove the rind in strips with a swivel top peeler, and juice the orange.  Pour the apple juice and water into a stainless steel saucepan add the rind, juice and cloves with the rest of the spices and sugar.  Heat gently. Taste, add more sugar if necessary.

Serve warm but not too hot.

Frank Hederman’s Smoked Haddock with Sweet Dill Mayonnaise


1 fillet of Smoked Haddock

Serve with

sweet dill mayonnaise (see below)

Slice the haddock very thinly down onto the skin. Arrange in a small layer on a chilled plate. Drizzle with a little sweet dill mayonnaise. Garnish with a little fresh dill.


Sweet Dill Mayonnaise

1 large egg yolk, preferably free range

2 tablespoons French mustard

1 tablespoon white sugar

150ml (1/4 pint) ground nut or sunflower

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk the egg yolk with the mustard and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill.

Baked Gubbeen Cheese with Thyme Leaves and Crusty Bread  

One could also use a Durrus or Ardrahan, all of which are truly delicious just with crusty bread and a glass of red wine. 

Serves 4

1 whole Gubbeen cheese

1 tablesp. chopped thyme leaves or a little chopped rosemary

2 cloves of garlic, chopped (optional)

Cracked black pepper

crusty loaf of bread or potato wedges

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4, cut the cheese in half horizontally to make 2 rounds.  Sprinkle the cracked black pepper, fresh herbs and chopped garlic if using on the bottom half of the cheese.   Replace the top disc of cheese and wrap loosely in aluminium foil. Transfer the cheese on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until just soft and runny inside.  Spoon the gooey cheese on slices of chunky bread or potato wedges.

Parmesan Custards with Anchovy Toasts

Serves 8

250ml (9fl ozs) cream

250ml (9 fl ozs) milk

4 organic egg yolks

100g (3 1/2 ozs) finely grated Parmesan, Coolea or Desmond cheese

salt, freshly ground pepper and a good pinch of cayenne

melted butter

Anchovy Butter

6 anchovy fillets

25g (1ozs) unsalted butter

4 slices of good quality white yeast bread

8 deep ovenproof pots or ramekins (75ml/3fl ozs) (we use shot glasses)

bain marie

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Whisk the cream and milk with the egg yolks and the finely grated cheese.  Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Whisk again.  Brush the inside of the pots with melted butter.  Divide the mixture between the pots.

Fill a bain marie with hot water, put the pots into the bain marie, the water should come about 2/3 way up the sides.  Cover the tops with a sheet of silicone paper.  Depending on the depth of the ramekin, bake for 30-45 minutes in the preheated oven or until the mixture has just set.  A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Meanwhile, make the anchovy butter.

Mash the anchovies finely with a fork, add the butter and mix well.

Just before serving, toast the bread quickly on both sides.  Spread the anchovy butter on 2 slices of bread and make into sandwiches with the other slices.  Press down to seal, trim off the crusts.  Cut each in half crosswise and then cut into thin fingers.  Put a pot or ramekin on a plate.  Arrange a little trellis of anchovy toasts on the side, add a teaspoon. Serve immediately.

Rachel’s Baked Eggs with Creamy Kale

Taken from Entertaining at Home by Rachel Allen by published Harper Collins

Serves 6

These are delicious for brunch or a casual supper. If you can’t get kale, use

spinach. I love to use the Irish farmhouse cheese Glebe Brethan for its delicious flavour and melting texture, but you could use Gruyère instead.

25g (1oz) butter

900g (2lb) kale with stalks removed before weighing

salt and ground black pepper

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

350ml (12fl oz) single or regular cream

6 eggs

350g (12oz) Glebe Brethan or gruyère cheese, grated

Six 100ml (31⁄2 fl oz) ramekins or ovenproof dishes

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°f), Gas mark 4. Add the butter to a large wide frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the kale and season with salt and pepper. As

soon as the kale wilts and becomes tender, add the cream and nutmeg, then allow to bubble for 3–5 minutes until thickened. Divide the kale between the ramekins or dishes, placing it around the inside of each dish and leaving a small well in the

centre. Break one egg into each dish and sprinkle (50g) 2oz of the grated cheese over the top. Bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes or until golden on top and bubbling around the edges. Scatter over a little pepper and serve immediately with a little toast on the side.

Irish Farmhouse Cheese and Gubbeen Chorizo Puffs

Makes 40 approximately


8ozs (225g) white flour

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 free range eggs, separated

2 tablespoons olive oil

6flozs (175ml) warm beer

salt and freshly ground pepper

1.2 litres (2 pints) peanut or corn oil

10ozs (275g) Gubbeen chorizo, skinned and finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

4ozs (110g) grated Coolea or Desmond cheese

fresh parsley leaves, preferably flat leaf Italian

Deep Fry or 3/4 inch (2cm) oil in a frying pan

Sieve the flour into a bowl.  Add the red pepper flakes and mix well.  Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg yolks, olive oil, beer, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Mix well, cover and allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Heat the oil to 190°C /375ºF/Gas Mark 5.  Meanwhile cook the chorizo in a frying pan over a medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Fold the whites into the batter with the chorizo, parsley and cheese. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter gently into the hot oil, turn occasionally until golden, 2-3 minutes.  Drain on kitchen paper.   Serve and garnish with parsley leaves.  Serve immediately.

List of Suppliers


Gubbeen Farmhouse Products, Fingal Ferguson – 028 278 24

Belvelly Smokehouse, Belvelly, Cobh, Co Cork – Frank Hederman – 021 4811 089

Ummera Smokehouse, Inchybridge, Timoleague, West Cork – Anthony Cresswell

023 884 6644

Woodcock Smokery, Gortbrack, Castletownshend, Skibbereen, West Cork

Sally Barnes 028 362 32

Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, Coomkeen, Durrus, West Cork – Jeffa Gill 027 611 00

Bellingham Blue, Glyde Farm, Castlebellingham, Co Louth 042 937 2343

Clonmore Goat Cheese, Charleville, Co Cork, Tom Biggane 063 704 90

Fermoy Natural Cheese Company, Strawhill, Fermoy, Co Cork

Frank and Gudrun Shinnick 025 31310

Urru Artisan Food Store, McSwiney Quay, Bandon, West Cork – Ruth Healy 023 885 4731

Village Greengrocer & Food Hall, Main Street, Castlemartyr, Co Cork.

Sean Walsh – 021 466 7655


Edible Presents


Stained Glass Snowflake Cookies

Annie Rigg – Gifts from the Kitchen – published by Kyle Cathie

I used to have festive snowflake cutters for these cookies, but the same idea works just as well for almost any shape. They look beautiful hanging at a window, allowing the light to shine through the ‘stained glass’. Or you could give one cookie to each guest as a place setting or table gift for the Christmas dinner table.

Makes 8 – 12 cookies

225g  (8oz (½lb)unsalted butter, softened

150g  (5oz) icing sugar

1 large egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

350g  (12oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling

inch of salt

assorted flavoured and coloured boiled sweets

You will need a selection of snowflake cookie cutters.

Cream the softened butter and icing sugar together until pale and light. Add the whole egg and vanilla extract and mix again until thoroughly combined. Sift the flour with the salt, add to the bowl and mix again until smooth. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc and wrap in Clingfilm. Chill for a couple of hours or until firm.

Meanwhile divide the boiled sweets into separate colours, place in freezer bags and crush using a rolling pin. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and line 2 solid baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment. Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the dough until it is roughly 3mm thick. Using the snowflake cutters, stamp out snowflakes in assorted sizes and arrange on the prepared baking sheets. Carefully and neatly fill the holes in the snowflakes with the crushed boiled sweets. Bake in batches on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are pale and golden and the boiled sweets have melted and filled the holes. Cool the cookies on trays until hardened, and package into boxes lined with greaseproof or waxed paper.  These will keep for 4 or 5 days in an airtight box.



The many fans of Arbutus Artisan Breads will be delighted to hear that Declan Ryan plans to share his secrets and teach traditional skills and techniques for making his soda, yeast and sour dough breads. Numbers are limited so book soon. The course runs for four nights from 6:30pm till finish (depending when the bread you take home with you is ready) for four weeks starting on Wednesday 12th January, 2011. €250.00 and email to book – 0862513919.


Having a last minute Christmas gift emergency? A Ballymaloe Cookery School gift voucher means everyone’s a winner! They can email you a presentation gift voucher even on Christmas Eve – 021 4646785

Muriel Coughlan won the Grow Bake Cook at the EAT Cork Festival 2010. Since then she worked really hard to get her company Gookies off the ground – she makes a wheat free, gluten free cookie dough roll which she now supplies to SuperValu in Midleton and Anne William’s stall at the farmers market. In O’Briens Sandwhich Bar coeliacs can request a Gookie – which are kept in a separate area in a special container – and can enjoy a freshly baked cookie with confidence. Contact Muriel Coughlan 0878229749.

Turkey or Goose?

What are we like – even though we may momentarily flirt with the idea of having something new and exotic for Christmas dinner, in the end everyone just seems to crave the traditional favourites with all the trimmings, so which will it be, turkey or goose? Well I’m giving the recipes for both here with the favourite accompaniments. Hopefully by now you have already bought the bird, you could just slather it in butter or wrap it in butter soaked muslin but the traditional brining method so beloved by the Americans in particular perks up even an undistinguished turkey and brings it to a new level of flavour. Don’t forget to use the carcass to make a bowl of turkey broth. It has tons of flavour and is full of goodness – akin to Jewish penicillin as chicken broth is called.

When I was in Dublin at the Good Food Ireland awards a few weeks ago, Peter Caviston the charismatic fishmonger from Glasthule in Co Dublin arrived with a gorgeous Norfolk Black turkey reared by Sandra Higgins in Co Kildare.  It was ‘New York dressed’, still had all its insides intact in the time honoured way. I brought it home and hung it in a cold room for a further three weeks (years ago people would have hung the turkey in the garage which was like a fridge anyway during the ‘cold snap’.) Then I gutted it, made a delicious buttery herby stuffing and roasted it as below. It was absolutely scrumptious with a delicious mild gamey flavour, reminiscent of the flavour of turkeys years ago.

I didn’t tell the young people that I had hung the turkey with its innards in for three weeks until they had ‘oohed and aahed’ about how delicious it was and those who knew, where deeply sceptical until they tasted it.

The secret is in the hanging, so remember this for next year, order a bronze turkey well ahead, hang and prepare it in the time honoured way. If gutting the bird seems daunting in an era when so much of our food comes in a sanitised form wrapped in plastic on polystyrene trays – ask your Mum or Gran, it’s so much more fun to be able to do these things yourself, it’s easy and clean, and can be done in a matter of minutes.

Back to the goose one could use the turkey stuffing but traditionally a potato stuffing was used. I’ve added some mashed parsnip which is so good with the dark goose meat.

Don’t forget to save every scrap of the fat for roast potatoes – it will keep in jars in your fridge for months – remove the two chunky pieces of goose fat at the vent end and render those down separately 100°C/225ºF/gas mark ¼ for 30 minutes or more. They will produce about 8 – 10 fl oz of precious goose fat to use for roast potatoes. Red cabbage and mashed or roast parsnips and of course lots of crispy potatoes are favourite accompaniments to serve with goose and don’t forget the apple sauce and gravy.

San Francisco Chronicle Classic: Brined Turkey


Brining poultry and pork hugely enhances the flavour but doesn’t make it excessively salty. It is particularly beneficial if you cannot find a free range organic bird. This recipe is based on a tried and tested recipe which has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle several times because of its popularity.

How to prepare a turkey for brining and roasting

1 x 5.4kg -6.6kg (12-15 lb) turkey

225g (8oz) sugar

454 g – 510 g (15ozs-12 ozs) dairy salt

17 pints  (22 ½ litres) cold water

2 bay leaves, torn into pieces

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled

5 whole allspice or pimento berries, crushed

4 juniper berries, smashed

25g (1oz) softened butter and butter for basting

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

125 ml – 225 ml (4-8 fl ozs) chicken stock


Save the turkey giblets for stock. Rinse well with cold water. Mix the sugar, salt and 8 pints of water in a large bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the bay leaves, thyme, peeled garlic cloves, allspice (or pimento) and juniper berries.

Choose a large self-sealing or zip lock brining bag, put into a picnic cooler that is large enough to hold the turkey. Slip the turkey into the bag, pour in brine and remaining 7-8 pints water – there should be enough liquid to completely cover the bird. Press out the air in the bags.

Close the bag tightly. Keep the turkey cold by piling sealed bags of ice over and around the closed bag which will also help keep the turkey submerged. Brine for 12-24 hours.





Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F  / Mark 6. Remove the turkey from brine, rinse and dry well. Slather the softened butter over the breast and legs. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper over skin and in cavity. Tuck the wing tips underneath, loosely truss the legs and transfer the turkey into a roasting tin. Cover the breast loosely with foil.

Put the turkey into the preheated oven. Roast for about 1 hour, baste the turkey with 112ml (4fl oz) of chicken or turkey stock. Return to oven and roast, basting with pan drippings every 20 minutes or so, use more stock if needed. If legs begin to brown too much, cover loosely with foil. Total roasting time should be about 2¼-3 hours. Let bird rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving. Make gravy with the juices. Serve with cranberry, bread sauce and lots of gravy.


Traditional Roast Goose with Potato Stuffing, Rose Geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce

A word of warning: a goose looks enormous because it has a large

carcass. Many people have been caught out by imagining that it will serve more people than it does. Ensure that you allow 450g (1lb) in cooked weight per person.

Serves 8-10

goose, about 4.5kg (10lb)

salt and freshly ground pepper

roux for the gravy (optional)



Giblet Stock

goose giblets

1 onion, sliced

1 carrot, chopped

bouquet garni

a sprig of thyme

4 parsley stalks

3 celery stalks, sliced

6 black peppercorns


Potato Stuffing

25g (1oz) butter

450g (½lb) onions, chopped

1 lb parsnips, peeled and blanched in boiling salted water

450g (1lb) Bramley Seedling, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon lemon balm

25ml (1 fl oz) fresh orange juice

900g (2lb) potatoes, in their jackets

1⁄4 teaspoon orange rind, finely grated

salt and freshly ground pepper



To Serve

Rose Geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce (see recipe)


To prepare the goose, gut the bird and singe off the pin feathers and down if necessary. Remove the wishbone from the neck end.

Combine the wishbone with the other stock ingredients in a saucepan, cover with cold water and the lid of the saucepan and simmer for 1 1/2–2 hours. Season the cavity of

the goose with salt and freshly ground pepper; also rub a little salt into the skin.

To make the potato stuffing, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for about 5 minutes.

Then add the blanched parsnips, herbs and orange juice. Cook, covered, until the parsnips are fluffy.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in their jackets until cooked, peel, mash and add to the base mixture. Add the orange rind and seasoning.

Leave it to get quite cold before stuffing the goose.

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

Stuff the goose loosely, then roast it for about 2 hours or until the juices run clear. Prick the thigh at the thickest part to check the juices. If they are still pink, the goose needs to cook a little bit longer. When cooked, remove the bird to a serving dish and put it in a very low oven while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin (save the fat for sautéing or roasting potatoes – it keeps for months in a fridge). Add about 600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) of the strained giblet stock to the roasting tin and bring to the boil.

Use a small whisk to scrape the roasting tin well to dissolve the meaty deposits which are full of flavour. Taste for seasoning and thicken with a little roux if you like a thickened gravy. If the gravy is weak, boil it for a few minutes to concentrate the flavour; if it’s too strong, add a little water or stock.

Strain and serve in a hot gravy boat.

Carve the goose. Serve it, the rose geranium and Bramley Apple Sauce and the gravy separately.

Bramley Apple and Sweet Geranium Leaf Sauce

The secret of really good apple sauce is to use a heavy-based saucepan and very little water. The apples should break down into a fluff during the cooking.


450g (1lb) bramley cooking apples

2 teaspoons water

50g (2oz) sugar, or more depending on tartness of the apples

3-4 sweet geranium leaves, Pelagonium Graveolons optional


Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut the quarters in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan. Add the sugar, water and sweet geranium leaves if using, cover and cook over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, stir so it’s a uniform texture and taste for sweetness. Serve warm.


Old Fashioned Roast Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing and Bread Sauce

If you’d rather not have the chestnuts, simply omit them from the stuffing, it will still be delicious.

Serves 12

4.5kg (10lb) free-range turkey with giblets

For the Giblet Stock

neck, gizzard, heart (save the liver for pâté )

2 carrots, sliced

2 onions, sliced

1 celery stalk

bouquet garni

4 peppercorns

For the Chestnut Stuffing

450g (1lb) chestnuts

175g (6oz) butter

350g (12oz) onions, chopped

400g (14oz) soft breadcrumbs

50g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs, e.g. parsley, thyme. chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm

salt and freshly ground pepper

For Basting the Turkey

melted butter

To Garnish

large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress

Remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey to make carving easier later. Then make the giblet stock by covering with cold water the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, vegetables, bouquet garni and black peppercorns. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 hours while the turkey is being prepared and cooked.

To make the stuffing, bring about 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water to the boil in a saucepan. Throw in the chestnuts and boil for 5–10 minutes, until the shell and inside skin peel off easily and the flesh should be soft. Pick them out one at a time and chop them finely. Melt the butter, and sweat the onions and chestnuts in it until soft. Add the breadcrumbs and herbs, taste and season carefully, mix well.

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

Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time, allowing about 15 minutes per 450g (1lb) and 15 minutes over. Brush the turkey with melted butter (alternatively, smear well the breast, legs and crop with soft butter) and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover loosely with greaseproof paper and roast for about 11⁄2–2 hours.

The turkey is done when the juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices to ensure they are clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, spoon off the surplus fat from the roasting tin. Deglaze the pan juices with the giblet stock. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices from the roasting tin. Boil it up, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning and serve in a warmed gravy boat.

If possible, present the turkey on your largest serving dish, surrounded by golden crispy potatoes and garnished with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly (make sure no one eats the berries though).

Serve with Bread Sauce and Cranberry Sauce.


Bread Sauce

Bread sauce sounds so dull. If I hadn’t been reared on it I might never have tried it. It is another ingenious way of using stale bread, I even love it cold!

Serves 12

450ml (16fl oz) milk

110g (4oz) breadcrumbs

2 onions, each stuck with 6 cloves

50g (2oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

110ml (4fl oz) thick cream

Bring to the boil in a small, deep saucepan all the ingredients except the cream and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and simmer gently on a very low heat or cook in a low oven at 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for 30 minutes. Remove the onion and add the cream just before serving. Correct the seasoning, and add a little more milk if the sauce is too thick. Serve hot.


Spiced Cranberry Sauce

We have the Americans to thank for the delicious combination of turkey with cranberry sauce. I’ve added spices to the classic version to give extra bite. If you prefer you can put all the spices in a muslin bag to save fishing out the hard spices at the end of cooking.

Serves about 6

450g (1lb) granulated sugar

125m (4fl oz) white wine vinegar

1⁄2 stick cinnamon

1 star anise

6 cloves

5cm (2in) piece of fresh ginger, peeled

1 chilli, split and seeded

450g (1lb) cranberries

lemon juice

Put the sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger and chilli in a stainless-steel saucepan with 225ml (8fl oz) water. Bring to the boil. Add the cranberries, bring back to the boil and simmer very gently until the cranberries burst. Lift out the hard spices with a slotted spoon. Add a little lemon juice to taste. Serve warm or cold.


Red Cabbage with Caraway Seed

This red cabbage recipe sounds a bit dull no red wine or spices but it’s the most delicious one I know.

Serves 6–8

450g (1lb) red cabbage

450g (1lb) cooking apples (Bramley Seedling)

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

1 level teaspoon salt

2 heaped tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons roughly ground caraway seeds

Remove any damaged outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut in quarters, remove the core and slice the cabbage finely across the grain. Put the vinegar, caraway, salt and sugar into a cast-iron casserole or stainless-steel saucepan with 125ml (4fl oz) water. Add the cabbage and bring to the boil.

Peel and core the apples and cut into quarters (no smaller). Lay them on top of the cabbage, cover and continue to cook gently until the cabbage is tender, about 30–50 minutes. Do not overcook or the colour and flavour will be ruined. Taste for seasoning and add more sugar if necessary. Serve in a warm serving dish.



Rebel Chilli Sauces – I was blown away in the best possible way by Ken Moore’s Chilli Sauces when I tasted them recently at the Douglas Farmers Market. Ken is a Quantity Surveyor turned Chilli Sauce Maker – brilliant ‘hot Christmas pressie’ Ken’s Jalapeno and Raspberry Jelly is guaranteed to perk up even the dullest left overs and for the brave the Habanero with Lemongrass and Ginger Sauce – 0868049958. Also available at Mahon Point Farmers Market.


Cork’s English Market – for the first time ever the traders of the English Market are opening their gates until 9pm every night for Christmas week, also open Sunday 19th until 6pm. English Market Gift Vouchers now available – they make the perfect gift for anyone with an interest in good quality and reasonably priced food. Visit the English Market online


“Big Bird Day” with Claire’s Cheats and Treats. At Nash 19, Princes Street Cork, take the stress and hassle out of providing your family with the best, traditional Christmas foodie experience from home made plum puddings using Peter Ward’s of Country Choice fruits to Claire’s specially matured mincemeat. The list is available in the shop from 7:30am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8:30am til 5:00pm on Saturdays running up to Christmas week. You can also order bespoke hampers that are wrapped on Little Hill native timber chopping boards. 021 4270880 –

Christmas Cake and Plum Pudding

We can whinge all we like about the state of the economy. We can rant and rave and blame but apart from letting off steam and maybe raising our blood pressure it’s unlikely to get us very far. So let’s count our blessings and try to focus on the positives. If we are still fortunate enough to have good health and energy we can do little things to brighten our day and the day of those about us. Easy enough to say but worry and stress can be hugely debilitating, so when the going is tough one has to dig deeply to find the enthusiasm to even try to be cheerful. Getting together with a few neighbours and friends to have a simple feast or even a few nibbles does wonders for the morale. Why not invite some of the family and even a few neighbours’ kids to do the Christmas baking; this is what memories are made of. It’s definitely not rocket science to make a Christmas cake, plum pudding or a few jars of homemade mincemeat particularly if it becomes a family occasion and you can get help with the chopping and stirring. Invariably there is cake left over after Christmas so this year why not bake a square cake? When it has matured for a couple of days, divide it into 4 small squares and cover it with a bit of simple almond paste: close to Christmas make a batch of royal icing – I promise it’s easy to make and even if you have no plastering skills you can slather the icing generously over the almond iced cakes preferably with a palette knife, dab it here and there to create an impressive snow scene. Desist from adding Santies and snowmen unless they have sentimental value – it’ll look more sophisticated unadorned with maybe a sprig of holly on top. One cute little Christmas cake is plenty for most families and then you’ll have three others to give to friends.

My favourite plum pudding recipe makes 2 large or 3 small puddings. They are rich and succulent so as before a small slice per person is adequate and the remainder will make welcome gifts.

The Ballymaloe Mincemeat recipe makes 7 large jars for using, sharing or selling. It’s also gluten free so its suitable for Coeliacs or those with a wheat intolerance.

Brandy, rum or sherry butter can be made ahead and put into recycled small glass jars. Moscovado cream is best made closer to the time. Both the plum pudding and the mincemeat call for suet, in recent times many people have changed to using butter but believe me suet produces a more succulent result. One can of course buy suet but why not do as our grandmothers did – go along to your local butcher, ask for beef kidney suet.  It’ll cost a euro or two or may even be free if you are already a good customer. Trim it well as below, mince or chop by hand or in a food processor and use as directed in the recipe.

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 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.

Beef kidney suet also renders down into dripping in a cool oven. Perfect for cooking roast potatoes or chips in the time honoured way. Readers may be horrified to hear we suggest using it in this way – believe me it is high in vitamin D, calcium and protein and is far superior to much of the cheap cooking oils more commonly used nowadays. The plum pudding calls for bread crumbs, again, these are easily made. Just save stale bread and either liquidise or whizz in a food processor – in a few seconds you have bread crumbs. Failing that if they aren’t needed simply freeze and use later. They have a myriad of uses, stuffings, crispy coatings, buttered crumbs for gratins, homemade sausages or burgers.

The pudding also calls for candied peel, of course you can buy a tub of psychedelic coloured candied peel but if you make your own from left over orange and lemon peel it will taste infinitely better and keep for ages.

Darina Allen’s Iced Christmas Cake

This makes a moist and slightly crumbled cake which keeps very well. It can either be made months ahead or, if you are frenetically busy then it will still be delish even if made just a few days before Christmas – believe me I know!.

Serves about 40

10g (4oz) real glacé cherries

50g (2oz) whole almonds

350g (12oz) best-quality sultanas

350g (12oz) best-quality currants

350g (12oz) best-quality raisins

110g (4oz) homemade candied peel

50g (2oz) ground almonds

zest of 1 organic unwaxed lemon

zest of 1 organic unwaxed orange

60ml (21⁄2 fl oz) Irish whiskey

225g (8oz) butter

225g (8oz) pale, soft-brown sugar or golden caster sugar

6 organic eggs

275g (10oz) flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 large or 2 small Bramley seedling apples, grated

Line the base and sides of a 23cm (9 inch) round, or 20cm (8 inch) square tin with a double thickness of silicone paper. Then tie a double layer of brown paper around the outside of the tin. Have a sheet of brown or silicone paper to lay on top of the tin during cooking.

Wash the cherries and dry them gently. Cut in two or four as desired. Blanch the almonds in boiling water for 1–2 minutes, then rub off the skins and chop them finely. Mix the dried fruit, nuts, ground almonds and grated orange and lemon zest. Add about half of the whiskey and leave for 1 hour to macerate.

Preheat the oven to 160°C/ 325°F/gas mark 3.

Cream the butter until very soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Whisk the eggs and add in bit by bit, beating well between each addition so that the mixture doesn’t curdle. Mix the mixed spice with the flour and stir gently into the butter mixture. Add the grated cooking apple to the plumped up fruit and stir into the butter mixture gently but thoroughly (don’t beat the mixture again or you will toughen the cake).

Put the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Make a slight hollow in the centre, dip your hand in water and pat it over the surface of the cake – this will ensure that the top is smooth when cooked.

Now lay a double sheet of brown paper on top of the cake to protect the surface from the direct heat. Bake for 1 hour. Then reduce the heat to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and bake for a further 21⁄2 hours, until cooked; test in the centre with a skewer – it should come out completely clean. Pour the remainder of the whiskey over the cake and leave it to cool in the tin.

Next day, remove the cake from the tin. Do not remove the lining paper but wrap the cake in some extra greaseproof paper and tin foil until required.

Store in a cool, dry place; the longer the cake is stored the more mature it will be.

Homemade Almond Paste

450g (1lb) golden caster sugar

450g (1lb) ground almonds

2 small organic eggs

2 tablespoons Irish whiskey

a drop of pure almond extract

For Brushing on the Cake

1 organic egg white, lightly whisked, or sieved apricot jam


Royal Icing


1lb (450g) icing sugar

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons strained lemon juice

Sieve the caster sugar and mix with the ground almonds. Whisk the eggs, add the whiskey and 1 drop of almond extract, then add to the other ingredients and mix to a stiff paste. (You may not need all of the egg).

Sprinkle the worktop with icing sugar, turn out the almond paste and work lightly until smooth.

Remove the paper from the cake. To make life easier for yourself, put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto the worktop and dust with some icing sugar. Take about half the almond paste and roll it out on the paper: it should be a little less than 1cm (1⁄2 inch) thick.

Paint the top of the cake with the slightly beaten egg white or apricot jam and put the cake, sticky-side down, onto the almond paste. Give the cake a thump to ensure it sticks and then cut around the edge. If the cake is a little round-shouldered, cut the almond paste a little larger; pull away the extra bits and keep for later to make hearts or holly leaves. Use a palette knife to press the extra almond paste in against the top of the cake and fill any gaps. Then slide a knife underneath the cake or, better still, underneath the paper and turn the cake the right way up. Peel off the greaseproof paper.

Then roll out 2 long strips of almond paste: trim an edge to the height of the cake with a palette knife. Paint both the cake and the almond paste lightly with egg white or apricot jam. Then press the strip against the sides of the cake: do not overlap or there will be a bulge with the uneven edge upwards. Trim the excess almond paste with a long-bladed knife and keep for decoration and to make almond biscuits. Use a straight-sided water glass to even the edges and smooth the join. Then rub the cake well with your hand to ensure a nice flat surface.

Transfer onto a cake board

Leave in a cool, dry place for a few days to allow the almond paste to dry out; otherwise the oil in the almonds will seep through the icing.

When the cake is ready, make the Royal Icing.

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl just until they begin to froth; then add the sieved icing sugar by the tablespoonful, beating well between each addition.  If you are making the icing in a electric mixer, use the lowest speed. When all the icing sugar has been incorporated, add the lemon juice, and if you would like a slightly soft icing, add a few drops of glycerine.   Beat until the icing reaches stiff peaks; scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth for 1 hour or until you are ready to use the icing.

With a flexible palette knife, smear the icing over the top of each cake.   To achieve a snow-scene effect dab the palette knife onto the cake at irregular intervals so the icing comes up in little peaks.  While the icing is still wet, stick on some Christmas Cake decorations, eg Santa’s, Christmas trees and robins or if you prefer use some frosted fruits or flowers.

If you like you could tie a ribbon or cake frill around the edges of the cakes.

Pile the icing onto the cakes or divide it between the cakes with a palette knife. Slather it over the top and sides and then dab the icing with the palette knife to create peaks to give a snow effect.


Mummy’s Plum Pudding with Pedro Ximenez Butter

It has always been the tradition in our house to eat the first plum pudding on the evening it is made.   The grandchildren can hardly contain themselves with excitement – somehow that plum pudding seems the most delicious, it’s our first taste of Christmas.   The plum pudding can be made from about mid-November onwards but there is still time yet. Everyone in the family helps to stir so they can all make a wish.

Its fun to put silver plum pudding charms in the pudding destined to be eaten on Christmas Day.  Wrap them individually in silicone paper so they are bulky and clearly visible.

This recipe makes 2 large or 3 medium puddings.  The large size will serve 10-12 people, the medium 6-8 but I also like to make teeny weeny ones.

12 ozs (350g) raisins

12 ozs (350g) sultanas

12 ozs (350g) currants

12 ozs (350g) brown sugar

12 ozs (350g) white breadcrumbs (non GM)

12 ozs (350g) finely-chopped beef suet

4 ozs (110g) diced candied peel (preferably home-made)

2 Bramley cooking apples, coarsely grated

4 ozs (110g) chopped almonds

rind of 1 lemon

3 pounded whole cloves or ¼ teaspoon

a pinch of sea salt

6 eggs

2 1/2 fl ozs (62ml) Jamaica Rum

Pudding bowls – 2 pint or ¼ pint – Delph bowls give more protection than plastic

Mix all the ingredients together very thoroughly and leave overnight; don’t forget, everyone in the family must stir and make a wish!  Next day stir again for good measure.  Fill into pudding bowls; if plastic wet the lids, cover with a double thickness of greaseproof paper which has been pleated in the centre, and tie it tightly under the rim with cotton twine, making a twine handle also for ease of lifting.

Steam in a covered saucepan of boiling water for 6 hours or less depending on size.  The water should come half way up the side of the bowl.  Check every hour or so and top up with boiling water if necessary.  After 5  hours, 3 hours, 2 hours depending on the size, remove the pudding.   Allow to get cold and re-cover with fresh greaseproof paper.  Store in a cool dry place until required.

On Christmas Day or whenever you wish to serve the plum pudding, steam for a further 2 hours.  Turn the plum pudding out of the bowl onto a very hot serving plate, pour over some whiskey or brandy and ignite.  Serve immediately on very hot plates with

Pedro Ximinez butter or the more traditional brandy butter if you prefer.

You might like to decorate the plum pudding with a sprig of holly; but take care not to set the holly on fire – as well as the pudding!

Pedro Ximenez Butter

Pedro Ximenez is sweet, rich and deeply concentrated; I use it to drizzle over vanilla ice-cream, soak raisins until they are fat and plump or just to sip. Serve with plum pudding or minced pies.

3ozs (75g) butter

3ozs (75g) icing sugar

2-6 tablespoons Pedro Ximenez Sherry (I use the Lustau brand)

Cream the butter until very light, add the icing sugar and beat again.  Then beat in the sherry, drop by drop.  If you have a food processor, use it: you will get a wonderfully light and fluffy Pedro Ximenez Butter.




Christmas Markets


Midleton Farmers Market will be open on Wednesday 22nd December as well as Saturdays from 9:00 to 1:00pm – Casey O’Conaill 0861046075.


Mahon Point Farmers Market opens on Wednesday 22nd December as well as their usual Thursday for you to pick up a last minute Christmas tree or wreath and last minute treats for Christmas day

Christmas in Cork Festival on Grand Parade is on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas. There are over 45 food and craft stalls. Munch on a delicious burger from Dexter Organic Beef stall while you do your Christmas shopping. Also open on Wednesday 22nd December. Contact John Collery for details 086 6055023


Buy a local Christmas tree and support a local farmer. I’ve ordered a fine specimen to showcase my Christmas tree cookies, (see edible presents next week) from David and Siobhan Barry near Carrigtwohill – 021 4883034 – 086 8238187 also available from Midleton, Mahon, Cobh, and Kinsale Farmers Markets.


Annie Rigg’s Christmas Treats

We’re determined not to do doom and gloom. So, on the basis that a yummy little treat can cheer up even the grimmest day, we’re having lots of fun these days experimenting and making delicious Christmas presents for all our friends. With the current mood for all things thrifty and creative, some of our offerings are cheap and cheerful, others use indulgent ingredients and take some time to develop and mature. All can be packed in recycled jars, bottles, tin cans, biscuit boxes… Once you start to think about it there are a myriad of possibilities from home made jam, chutneys, relishes & pickles to cookies, sweeties and cordials, ratafias, drinks and spiced nuts.

Less fancy but practical everyday food can also make a welcome present. How lovely it would be to get a big pot of stew, a casserole, or a dish of shepherds pie with a little roll of garlic butter to melt into the top.

A few cartons of home-made soup, tarted up with tinsel, ribbons and a sprig of rosemary or holly will bring a warm glow to a busy friend or can be tucked into the freezer for another occasion.

Once you begin to think about it there are all kinds of possibilities both everyday and festive, a little homemade Christmas cake, plum pudding, a few jars of mincemeat or any of the Christmas sauces or accompaniments are of course welcome and save time in the run up to the frenzied Christmas rush. Good cookbooks with reliable well tested recipes are a present that can bring more pleasure. We’ve been enjoying Gifts from the Kitchen by Annie Rigg – published by Kyle Cathie.

It’s got 100 irresistible and imaginative recipes for home-made gifts. We’ve tested several with delicious results.

Annie also offers lots of suggestions for creative packaging to give your gift an elegant twist that will be remembered long after the contents have been devoured.

How could you not get a ‘ooops’ in your tummy when you are presented with a box of deliciously decadent chocolate truffles, a jar of piquant chutney or a bottle of raspberry cordial, all beautifully packaged with hand-written labels. If there are kids about they too can become involved in the chopping and stirring and the art work on the labels. Here are a few suggestions to get you started but Annie – an experienced freelance food stylist and writer has over 100 imaginative and completely yummy ideas for you…


Annie Rigg’s Raspberry and Rose Chocolate Wafers

A box of these chocolate wafers would make an ideal gift for Mother’s Day – they are easy enough for little hands to make as the only cooking required is to melt the chocolate.

Freeze-dried raspberries are available on-line or from good health food shops. As an alternative you could top the chocolate wafers with candied stem ginger or chopped dried fruits and nuts.

Makes about 24 wafers


150g (5oz) best-quality dark chocolate (72% cocoa solids)

150g (5oz) best-quality white chocolate

3–4 tablespoons (approx. 25g) freeze-dried raspberry crispies

3–4 tablespoons (approx. 25g) crystallized rose petals

3–4 tablespoons (approx. 25g) pink sugared rose chips or sugar sprinkles

Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.

Break the dark and white chocolate into pieces and melt separately in heatproof bowls set over pans of barely simmering water. Stir until smooth, remove from the heat and cool slightly. Spoon heaped teaspoonfuls of melted chocolate on to the prepared baking sheets,

spreading the chocolate into discs with the back of the spoon. Scatter with the raspberry crispies, rose petals and rose chips or sugar sprinkles.

Set aside to cool and harden completely before removing from the parchment with a palette knife.

*Stored in an airtight container, these will keep for 4–5 days.

Annie Rigg’s Sea-salted Caramels

You really do need a sugar thermometer for making caramels and toffees, but it won’t be a wasted investment – once you’ve tried these caramels you’ll be hooked. The saltiness is just enough to cut through the intense caramel sweetness, making them dangerously moreish. Wrap each caramel in a twist of non-stick baking parchment.

Makes about 20 caramels


150g (5oz) caster sugar

150g (5oz) light muscovado sugar

100g (3½ oz) unsalted butter

200ml double cream

3 tablespoons golden syrup

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Grease a 15–17cm square tin with sunflower oil. Place the caster sugar in a deep pan with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Set the pan over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and continue to cook until the sugar has turned to a deep amber-coloured caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and bring back to the boil. Continue to cook until the caramel reaches 130°C/250°F on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat, leave to settle for 30 seconds, then pour into the prepared tin and leave until cold before turning out of the tin and breaking into pieces.

*These will keep for 4–5 days in an airtight box or wrapped in non-stick paper in a jar.

Annie Rigg’s Spiced Nuts

Fill homemade paper cones with spoonfuls of these mixed spiced nuts. They’re the perfect little package to give to the cocktail enthusiast in your life.

Makes 8 paper cones


750g (1lb 10oz) mixed nuts (Brazils, walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, peanuts and macadamias)

50g (2oz) pumpkin seeds

50g (2oz) sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons clear honey

2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, coarsely ground

11/2 teaspoons paprika

1 rounded teaspoon celery salt

freshly ground black pepper


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

Tip all the nuts and seeds into a large bowl and drizzle over the olive oil and honey. Add the salt and spices and a generous grinding of black pepper. Mix well to evenly coat the nuts in the spices. Tip the mixture out on to a large baking tray and spread level.

Roast on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, stirring the mixture regularly so that it browns evenly. When the nuts are golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool before packaging into paper cones to serve.

*These nuts will keep for 3 days in an airtight box.

Annie Rigg’s Chocolate and Hazelnut Spread

A grown-up version of a childhood favourite, this is delicious when spread thickly onto toast, inbetween cake layers or when sandwiched in the middle of cookies – or if no-one’s looking straight from the jar with a big spoon…

Makes 1 x 450g Jar


75g (3oz) blanched hazelnuts

100g (3½oz) dark chocolate

(72% cocoa solids), chopped

100ml (3½fl oz) condensed milk

1–2 tablespoons hazelnut oil

pinch of salt

3–4 tablespoons hot water

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Tip the hazelnuts on to a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for about 5–7 minutes, until pale golden. Remove the nuts from the oven and cool slightly. Tip the warm hazelnuts into a food processor and chop until they become an almost smooth paste.

Gently melt the chocolate, condensed milk and hazelnut oil in a small pan over a low heat. Stir until smooth and add to the hazelnut paste in the food processor. Add a pinch of salt and blend, then add the hot water and blend again until the mixture has a thick, spreadable consistency.

Spoon into a pretty sterilised jar and leave to cool. Cover with a lid and label when cold.

*It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Homemade sweets and candies are always a pleasure to make and to receive. A box of

sugar-dusted, rose-scented Turkish Delight is something we often associate with Christmas but would make a perfect Valentine’s or Mother’s Day gift packed into a box lined with waxed paper.

You could al so try adding pure lemon extract and a drop of yellow food colour in place of the rosewater and pink colouring.


Annie Rigg’s Fortune Cookies

Fill each of these cookies with a personalised message of goodwill and give them to your family and friends at New Year or any other significant event. Bake the cookies in small quantities, as you have to work very quickly to fill and shape them once they come out of the oven before the delicate mixture becomes dry, brittle and impossible to fold.

Makes about 12

100g (3½oz) plain flour

pinch of ground ginger

pinch of salt

3 large egg whites

100g (3½oz) icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

75g (3oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2 and line 2 solid baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.

Sift together the flour, ground ginger and salt. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Stir in the sifted dry ingredients, then add the melted butter and mix until smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Draw 2 x 10cm circles on each sheet of baking parchment and spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture on to each circle. Using either the back of a spoon or a palette knife, spread the mixture in an even layer to fill the circles. Bake 1 sheet on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and the other on the shelf below for about 6–8minutes, until the cookies are starting to turn golden at the edges.

Working quickly, remove one sheet of baking parchment from the oven at a time, leaving the other baking tray inside and, using a palette knife, carefully and quickly lift the cookies off the parchment. Flip the cookie over, lay your fortune message in the middle and fold the cookie over it in half. Bring the points of the cookie together to make the fortune cookie curl and leave to cool in a muffin tin (this will help them to keep their shape). Repeat with the remaining cookies.

Once you have used up all of the mixture and all of your cookies are baked and shaped, slide the muffin tin into the oven for a further minute to brown them evenly.

*Leave to cool in the tins before packaging in takeaway boxes. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep for up to 3 days.

Annie Rigg’s Lemon and Passion Fruit Curd

There’s nothing quite like homemade lemon curd. And when you add passionfruit to the mix, you‘re on to something really special. Serve it with freshly baked scones (or shortcakes), hot buttered English muffins, or spread between vanilla sponge cake layers with lashings of whipped cream and fresh berries.

Makes 4 small jars

4 large eggs

125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, cubed

225g (4 1/2 oz) caster sugar

zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons

seeds and pulp of 2 passionfruit


Beat the eggs and strain into a medium-sized heatproof bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to come into contact with the water or the heat will scramble the eggs.

Stir the mixture constantly until it reaches the consistency of very thick custard. Remove from the heat and stand the bowl in a sink of coldwater to speed up the cooling process, stirring occasionally until cold.

Pour into sterilised jars (see page 168), cover and store in the fridge until needed.

*It will keep, in the fridge, for up to 1 week.

Countdown to Christmas

Ballymaloe Spiced Beef


This year why not make your own spiced beef. There are lots of recipes for this Cork specialty traditionally eaten at Christmas, and many of them corn or brine the beef first. This recipe, which has been handed down in Myrtle Allen’s family, is for dry-spiced beef. Initially, the recipe called for silverside, but I prefer to use flap (also known as flank) a less expensive cut which you can get from your local butcher. The recipe also includes saltpetre, which should only be used in moderation. If you can’t find it, just leave it out. The meat will be slightly more grey in colour rather than the rosy pink that comes from the saltpetre cure. The recipe below makes enough spice to cure five flanks of beef, about 1.8kg (4lb) each in size. Spiced beef keeps for immeasurably longer than ordinary cooked or roast beef. Store the spice mix in a screw-top jar. It will keep for months, so make the full quantity even if it is more than you need at a particular time. To serve, cut it into thin slices and serve in sandwiches or with freshly made salads and homemade chutneys.

Serves 12–16

1.8kg (4lb) lean flank of beef

Ballymaloe Spice for Beef

225g (8oz) Demerara sugar

350g (12oz) salt

10g (1⁄2 oz) saltpetre (potassium nitrate)

75g (3oz) whole black pepper

75g (3oz) whole allspice (pimento, Jamaica pepper)

75g (3oz) whole juniper berries

Grind all the spice ingredients (preferably in a food-processor) until fairly fine.

Remove the bones from the flank and trim away any unnecessary fat. Rub a little spice well over the surface of the beef and into every crevice. Put into an earthenware dish and leave in a fridge or cold larder for 3–7 days, turning occasionally. (This is a dry spice, but after a day or two some liquid will come out of the meat.) The longer the meat is left in the spice, the more spicy the flavour and the longer it will last.

Just before cooking, remove the spiced beef from the earthenware dish. The salt and sugar will have extracted some liquid. Discard this spice mixture. Roll and tie the joint neatly with cotton string into a compact shape. Put it into a deep saucepan, cover generously with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 3–4 hours or until soft and fully cooked. If it is not to be eaten hot, then press the meat by putting it on a flat tin or into an appropriate sized bread tin and covering with a board and weight. Leave it for 12 hours in a fridge or cold larder. Spiced beef will keep for 3–4 weeks in a fridge.



Christmas cheer at the Milk Market – I still haven’t made it but everyone is talking about the new revamped Milk Market in Limerick – open Thursday to Sunday with up to 60 stalls brimming with great produce. Don’t miss Peter Wards mulled wine and the banter at the Country Choice stall

The Christmas Market in Ballyvaughan’s Community Hall will run on three weekends before Christmas, Saturday and Sunday 4th & 5th December, Saturday and Sunday 11th & 12th December, Saturday and Sunday 18th & 19th December. The Burren Crafts Group will have some stalls too.

Sally and John McKenna of the Bridgestone Guide launched StreetSmart on 22nd November in support of people who are homeless. From now until Christmas Eve, diners at participating StreetSmart restaurants will have the opportunity to donate just €2 to their bill, or more if they so wish, to help raise funds for people who are homeless.  StreetSmart this year brings together restaurants across Cork and Dundalk to help raise funds for Cork and Dundalk Simon Communities and Good Shepherd Services. Restaurants can still sign up to StreetSmart through where a full list of participating restaurants can be found.

Every Thursday until Christmas is Wine Tasting Day at Interior Living on MacCurtain Street in Cork from 5.00pm to 8.OO pm. Stock your pantry for the festive season with gourmet delights – you can even order your Caherbeg Free range ham and local artisan cheeses – 021 4505819.

A Cut Above the Rest – Pat Whelan

From New York to London butchery classes are over subscribed – most recently a two day butchery course organised by Teagaśc at Ashtown also had a waiting list.
It illustrates the exciting and fundamental changes at grass roots level and the craving for real food and almost forgotten flavours and experiences. A couple of weeks ago Ear to the Ground RTE1 – presenter Ella McSweeney butchered the two rare breed pigs she reared in her suburban garden and then proceeded with the help of 3rd generation butcher Ed Hicks to use all the miscellaneous delicious bits that normally end up in pet food.
In East Cork at least nine National Schools have edible school gardens and a chicken coop with a couple of hens so the children can learn how to look after poultry. At last there is an appreciation of the importance of a degree of self sufficiency. A growing number of parents are concerned about how disconnected even country children are from the reality of how their food is produced. It’s ever more important to bring children to visit farms, to shop at farmers markets and indeed to grow and rear some food yourself. Otherwise children reckon chips come from the freezer cabinet, milk comes out of plastic bottles and meat comes in neat little polystyrene trays from the supermarket. Mind you, butchers shops are almost as sanitised nowadays, few have a carcass or even a leg of lamb hanging any more, much of the meat is ready prepared, stuffed marinated or tossed in sweet and sour sauce so its barely recognisable – in long well-lit chill cabinets.
I am and always have been a staunch supporter of the traditional family butcher, I seek out butchers who, preferably have their own farm and abattoir and still possess the entire butchers craft, from being able to judge the condition of an animal in the field to the skill of humane slaughter, dry ageing and finally the skill of butchery. Curious customers can have chats about the breed and the feed and how the animal is raised while they wait for the order to be prepared. In Baden-Württemberg the local butcher doles out small glasses of the local wine to customers while they queue which helps to create a wonderfully convivial atmosphere and keeps everyone chatting amiably. Another iconic butcher called Dario Cecchini at Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano in Chianti recites Dante and plays operatic arias for his customers while he prepares the beautiful Chianina beef he sells.
Here in Ireland we are fortunate to still have over 850 family butchers (500 of those are Craft Butchers of Ireland members) and an increasing number “are finding their voice”
Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers in Clonmel in Co Tipperary is well known for his enthusiasm and the quality of his meat. He comes from a long line of Tipperary farmers and his family have been butchers since 1960. As soon as he could toddle about he went with his dad to ‘check the cattle’. Living over the shop meant family life and business were enmeshed and the skills were learned and absorbed effortlessly as he listened to the chat and enjoyed the craic and absorbed the entrepreneurial spirit of his parents. He was hooked from an early age and learned the trade by accompanying his mother on her delivery round. As soon as he was himself old enough, he pedalled the butcher’s bike with the wicker basket in front to deliver the weekly meat to the convent and the priest.
Nowadays it’s all come full circle and he makes full use of the latest technology, Pat is a regular tweeter – – and now has a significant online meat business that guarantees delivery within 24 hours.
Pat’s family are long time Aberdeen Angus breeders but his quest for even better meat was influenced by a trip to Japan, he’s been experimenting with a Wagyu cross, which mingle with Piedmont and Hereford in the rich pastures of his 200 acre Tipperary farm.
Pat is also quite rightly passionate about creating stress free conditions for slaughter in his own on-farm abattoir.
Pork for his butcher shop is sourced from TJ Crowe another Tipperary butcher, well known to food lovers. Both were founder members in 2007 of Tipperary Food Producers Network. The latter is a collective of 30 artisan producers who showcase their local food each year with a memorable summer banquet called the Long Table Dinner.
The concept of sustainable local economies is of paramount importance to Pat and his colleagues. Can’t imagine how he managed to find time to write a book, An Irish Butcher Shop – published by The Collins Press – in the midst of it all – a terrific eclectic collection of traditional and contemporary recipes. I’ve chosen some delicious comforting recipes from Pat Whelan’s book using less expensive cuts of meat.
Pat was awarded the Good Food Ireland Enterprise and Innovation Award on November 15th 2010.
James Whelan Butchers, Oakville Shopping Centre, Clonmel, Co Tipperary
+353 52 22927 / / 

Pat Whelan’s Osso Bucco

Serves 6

8 slices beef shin, cut at least 2.5 cm/1 inch thick
plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
85 g/3 oz butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
11⁄4 cups (10 fl oz)  white wine
1 x 220 g/8 oz can of chopped tomatoes
11⁄4 cups (10 fl oz) chicken stock
3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Coat the beef shins well with the flour. In a heavy-based pan melt the butter and add the oil. When the oil and butter are very hot, fry the beef until browned all over.
Remove the beef to a warmed plate and add the onion, celery, carrots and half the garlic. Cook until soft and aromatic. Return the beef to the pan and add the wine.
Cook uncovered for 15 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes and stock, then cover with a close-fitting lid and simmer for 11⁄2–2 hours.
Mix together the parsley, lemon zest and remaining garlic and stir in before serving.

Pat Whelan’s Braised Oxtail

Serves 6

50 g/2 oz plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
4 oxtails, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil or 30 g/1 oz butter
(or combination of both)
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 thick bacon rashers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
570 ml/20 fl oz red wine
1 litre/35 fl oz beef stock
bouquet garni of a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of parsley and a sprig of
rosemary, tied together
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 cup parsley, finely chopped

The casserole can be cooked on the stove top or in the oven. If you are cooking it in the oven, preheat it to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Put the seasoned flour into a plastic bag and add the oxtail pieces. Shake it well to coat the meat. Heat the oil or butter in a large heavy-based casserole and add the oxtail pieces in small batches. As each batch is browned, remove to a warmed plate with a slotted spoon and repeat until all the meat has been sealed. Add a little more oil if necessary and add the onions and cook until golden. Add the bacon and garlic and cook for 2–3 minutes. Return the meat to the casserole, pour in the wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about a third. Add the stock and bouquet garni to the pot and cover. Simmer gently on the stove or cook in the oven for about 2 hours. At this point add the carrots, celery and tomato paste and continue to cook for a further 2 hours or so, until the meat falls off the bone. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with mashed potatoes and baked parsnips.

Pat Whelan’s Beef Stew with Dumplings

Serves 6

4 tablespoons plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 kg/2 lb 4 oz braising steak, cut into 2.5 cm/1 inch cubes
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 turnip, peeled and cut into cubes
570 ml/20 fl oz beef stock
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme


175 g/6 oz plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1⁄2 cup milk

Put the seasoned flour in a plastic bag, add the beef cubes and toss to coat.
Heat the oil over a moderate heat in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole dish and add the beef cubes. Brown well on all sides. This should be done in batches, removing the meat from the pan to a warmed plate until all the meat is browned. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent and add the rest of the vegetables, stirring frequently to brown. Now return the beef to the pan and add the stock, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil, stirring well. Cover tightly and reduce heat to as low as possible. Simmer for at least 2 hours.
To make the dumplings, sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the oil and milk. Stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture resembles a batter. Mould the dumplings into small balls. Approximately 15–20 minutes before serving, turn up the heat, bring to the boil and drop the dumplings on to the surface of the stew. If the stew is being cooked in the oven, allow around 30 minutes for the dumplings to cook.

Pat Whelan’s Pork Spare Ribs

Serves 4

1 cup (8fl oz) soy sauce
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup (2fl oz) balsamic vinegar
1⁄4 cup (2fl oz) tomato paste
1⁄4 cup (2fl oz) orange juice
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon hot chilli powder
1⁄2 teaspoon cumin powder
pork spare ribs (allow 4 for each person)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Combine all the ingredients except the pork and mix well. Heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly until it boils. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Lay the ribs in a flat dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate for several hours minimum. Reserve any extra sauce.
Pour any remaining marinade over the ribs and bake for 45 minutes. Serve when cooled to room temperature.

Pat Whelan’s Kashmiri Lamb Curry

Serves 6

300 g/10 oz natural yoghurt
85 g/3 oz skinned almonds, chopped
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 kg/2 lb 4 oz lamb, diced into 2.5 cm/1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
1 x 400 g/14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
300 ml/10 fl oz water
110 g/4 oz raisins
large handful of fresh coriander, chopped

In a large mixing bowl combine the yoghurt, almonds, curry powder, ginger, garlic and salt, stirring to mix well. Add the lamb to the yoghurt mixture, covering the meat well.  (You could leave this to marinate in the fridge overnight or for a few hours before cooking.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions with the bay leaves until golden brown, constantly moving them around the pan. Add the meat and yoghurt mixture to the pan and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the chilli, lemon juice and tomatoes to the mixture in the pan and stir-fry for another 5 minutes. Add the water, cover and leave to simmer over a gentle heat for 60 minutes.
Add the raisins and most of the coriander and turn up the heat. Stir until the sauce has thickened. Garnish with the remaining coriander and serve with rice.
Fool Proof Food

Pat Whelan’s Spicy Lamb Meatballs

Serves 6

1 large potato, peeled and grated
1 large onion, peeled and grated
500 g/1 lb lamb, minced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander, tarragon and mint
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 cup (4 fl oz) olive oil

Rinse the grated potato in cold water and with your hands squeeze out all the moisture. Place all the ingredients except the oil into a bowl and mix until well combined. Form the mixture into small balls and flatten them into pattie shapes. Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the meatballs in batches for about 5 minutes on each side, turning carefully.
Food Framed is a Charitable Silent Auction of Handwritten Recipes and Documents from some of the world’s greatest chefs and food writers, Richard Corrigan, Gary Rhodes, Paul Flynn, Ken Hom, Thomas Keller from the French Laundry in San Francisco, Ferran Adria from El Buli in Spain, Lloyd Grossman, Darina Allen and Ainslie Harriet. The documents will be on display from 11am to 4pm Lismore Castle Arts, Lismore, Co Waterford on Saturday December 4th 2010. You can also bid by email, contact Ken Madden 086 1712813 /  Proceeds to go to Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

The winner of the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland’s National Spiced Beef Competition on Friday 12th November was Jerry O’Leary from O’Leary Family Butchers, The Square Millstreet, Co Cork. Jerry’s spiced beef is made from a recipe that has been in the O’Leary family for over 80 years – 029 -701 46 – 

Mahon Point Farmers Market in Cork took home the Best Farmer’s Market Award at the recent Good Food Ireland awards,  The shortlist of nominees included Dungarvan Farmers Market, Naas Farmers Market, Kinsale Farmers Market – and Midleton Farmers Market. Mahon Point Farmers Market – every Thursday  10am to 2pm.

Ballymaloe Cookery School 2011 Course Schedule is online

To meet the growing demand from those who would like to have the choice to buy unpasteurised milk, David Tiernan’s milk is available from Sheridans Cheesemongers in Dublin, South Anne Street and Carnacross in Co Meath. Unpasteurised organic Jersey milk is also available from the Farm Shop at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry, Co Cork daily – 021 4646785 

Those of you who crave a delicious black pudding made in the traditional way from fresh pigs’ blood should look out for Hugh Maguire’s butcher shop in Navan. I also found his white pudding soft and delicious. Hugh also makes a range of homemade sausages – we fought over the Bratwurst and his well aged T Bone steak – 01-8499919 –

Whoopie Pies

It’s just possible that Whoopie Pies may be the ‘next cupcake’- ‘Homey’ to look at, totally scrumptious to eat but mercifully less luscious icing than a cupcake – so what are they? Well let’s ask the experts – According to Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes in East London, who has just written a book on the subject,  ‘a whoopie is not a cookie, it’s not a typical cake, and it’s definitely not a pie. Whoopie Pies hail from the Amish communities of the US. School children and farmers in Pennsylvania Amish are said to have responded to finding these special treats in their lunch boxes with a resounding ‘Whoopie!’  They exist in a scrumptious parallel universe somewhere between cupcakes and ice cream sandwiches’.

I was longing to find some good recipes. Claire Ptak has written the first cook book I’ve come across on the Whoopie Pies. It comes with Jamie Oliver’s wholehearted endorsement “an absolutely gorgeous book by my favourite cake maker in the whole world”.

Claire has quite a following. If you pop over to London you’ll find her behind her Violet Cake stall at the Broadway Market in Hackney on Saturday morning selling sweet and savoury treats. There will probably be a queue three to six deep, from local kids to Stella McCartney and Keira Knightly. She has also opened a little Violet café and cake shop on nearby Wilton Way which sells her famous American style cupcakes.

Claire, originally from California has quite a pedigree, she worked as a pastry cook and eventually a pastry chef for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley before moving to London. She also cooks occasional Secret Suppers in her East London kitchen, one of the growing number of sought after pop-up restaurants in the London area. Her friends and devotees follow eagerly on Twitter and Facebook.

Back to the Whoopie Pie. It’s not a cookie or a typical cake and despite the name definitely not a pie. In fact no one seems to be able to explain why it’s called a whoopie pie, maybe it’s just because it has a rhythmic ring to it. It’s more like a little cake sandwich with the icing in between.

Once you get hooked you’ll find that you can adapt lots of your own recipes but the original is all American. Whoopies originated in the US in the 1920’s, although no one seems to know precisely where.

Typically whoopee pies are made in 10cm (4 inch) rounds but when I ate a couple of those recently I was guilt ridden for the rest of the day. Fortunately Claire gives instructions for smaller sized ones, perfect for children’s tiny fingers or for me when I crave just a little treat.

In this cute little Whoopie bakers bible, Claire gives recipes for over 60 variations on the theme from chocolate, coconut, kirch, lemon, peanut butter and rose pistachio to special flavours like Christmas Cake Whoopie, Easter Egg whoopie and many more.  She also included her favourite brownie recipe worth the price of the book alone.  Serve with chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and cherries in syrup; it will get you anything you want!

The Whoopie Pie Book, Published by Square Peg 2010

Claire Ptak


47 Wilton Way

E83 ED London

Broadway Market

E8 London

Claire Ptak’s Chocolate Whoopie with Fluffy Marshmallow Filling

The whoopie pie that started it all: moist, spongy, dark chocolate cake sandwiched around a fluffy marshmallow centre. Once you taste it, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.

Filling suggestion: Fluffy Marshmallow (see recipe)

Makes about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) plain flour

100g (3 1/2 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

125g (4 1/2 oz/generous 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7oz/scant 1 cup) sugar

1 large egg

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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

Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients in 2 batches, mixing until just incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes before using.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm (2 inches) apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes for large whoopies or 8 – 10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To Assemble

Spread or pipe a generous scoop of Fluffy Marshmallow filling onto the flat surface of a cooled whoopee. Top with another whoopee to make a sandwich and serve.

Fluffy Marshmallow Filling

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

3 egg whites

150g (5 oz/generous 1/2 cup) caster sugar

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) golden syrup

pinch salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Weigh all the ingredients into a heatproof bowl (the stainless steel bowl of freestanding mixers is ideal) and place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand until the sugar as dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (about 10 – 15 minutes).

Remove from the heat and whip the mixture on high speed in a freestanding mixer until it is white and thick and holds its shape.

Use straight away.

Claire Ptak’s Lemon Cream Whoopie with Lemon Curd Cream

Lemon imparts a lovely fresh flavour to cakes and puddings. It’s worth seeking out good-quality lemons. The large knobbly ones grown on the Amalfi coast of Italy are exceptional as are the Californian Meyer lemons.

Filling suggestion: Lemon Curd Cream (see recipe)

300g (10oz/2 1/2 cups) plain flour

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7oz) caster sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) whole milk

50 ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) lemon juice

zest of 2 medium lemons

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

Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. In a jug combine the vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Add this to the butter mixture and mix well. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Finally, fold in the lemon zest. Chill for 30 minutes.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes for large whoopies or 8 – 10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To Assemble

Spread a generous scoop of Lemon Curd Cream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie to make a sandwich and serve.

Lemon Curd Cream

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies.

100g (3 1/2 oz/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar

pinch of salt

zest and juice of 2 medium lemons

2 egg yolks

125g (4 1/2 oz/generous 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

50ml (2fl oz/1/4 cup) double cream

Put the sugar, salt, lemon zest and juice and egg yolks in a medium sized, heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and warm gently through, whisking constantly. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth and thick. Do not overheat or the eggs will scramble. Strain to remove the zest and any eggy bits. Cover wit Clingfilm, pressing it down on the surface of the custard. Leave to cool for 20 minutes, then chill for 2 hours before using.

The lemon curd will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. When ready to use, whip the double cream and fold into the chilled custard.

Rose Pistachio Whoopie

The exotic flavours of delicate rose water, tender pistachios and sweet cherry liqueur might seem strange in a whoopie pie, but the evocation of the taste and texture of soft nougat is lovely here.

Filling suggestion: Kirsch Swiss Buttercream

Glaze suggestion: Rose Water Icing

Makes about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

300g (10 oz/2½ cups) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

125g (4½ oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7 oz) castor sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp rose water

200ml (7 fl oz/1/3 pint) buttermilk

100g (3½ oz) pistachios, finely chopped or ground, plus extra for sprinkling

100g (3½ oz) ground almonds

crushed candied rose petals, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the egg and mix well. Measure the rose water and buttermilk into a jug and then add half of this to the butter mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Add the remaining buttermilk mixture until well combined and then fold in the ground nuts. Chill for 30 minutes.

Drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared baking trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10–12 minutes for large whoopies or 8–10 minutes for mini whoopies, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble:

Pipe or spread a generous scoop of Kirsch Swiss Buttercream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie and drizzle with Rose Water Icing. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped pistachios and some crushed candied rose petals.

Kirsch Swiss Buttercream

Makes enough to fill about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

3 large egg whites

100g (3½ oz) caster sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 tbsp kirsch cherry liqueur

In a bowl, beat the butter until fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater, set aside. In the metal bowl of a freestanding mixer, combine the 3 large egg whites with the sugar and golden syrup. Place over a saucepan of barely simmering water and whisk continuously by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (10–15 minutes).

Transfer the bowl of egg whites to the freestanding mixer, add the kirsch and whisk until fluffy and cooled (about 10 minutes). Once cool, start adding the creamed butter in batches, whisking well after each addition. The mixture will curdle but then come back together again. Switch to the flat beater and beat for 3 minutes more.

Use right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and beat with a flat beater before using.

Rosewater Icing

Makes enough to cover about 9 large or 24 mini whoopie pies

200g (7 oz)  icing sugar

2 tsp rose water

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and then whisk in the rose water until smooth. If you prefer a thicker consistency spread on top of the whoopie, add slightly more icing sugar to adjust.

Oatmeal Cookie Whoopie

All the flavour of an oatmeal cookie but with a soft whoopie texture, this makes a great summer treat when sandwiched with vanilla ice cream and frozen, or you can fill with strawberry buttercream.

Filling suggestion: Good-quality vanilla ice cream or Strawberry Buttercream

Makes 24 bite-sized ice cream whoopie sandwiches

180g (6½ oz) plain flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

225g (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened

200g (7 oz) light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

200g (7 oz) jumbo oats

75g (3 oz) sultanas (optional)

good-quality vanilla ice cream, for the filling

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 2 trays with baking paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon. Stir in the salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and light brown sugar until light and fluffy, using an electric hand whisk or a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add the oats and sultanas and mix until incorporated. Chill for 30 minutes

Drop 48 small scoops of batter, about 5cm apart, onto the prepared trays. Bake in the middle of the oven for 8–10 minutes, until the cakes are left with a slight impression when touched with a finger.

Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.

To assemble:

Spread a generous scoop of slightly softened vanilla ice cream on the flat surface of a cooled whoopie. Top with another whoopie, gently press together and place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Strawberry Buttercream

50 ml (2 fl oz) unstrained strawberry purée (about 80 g unhulled strawberries)

90 g (3¾ oz) soft butter

500-700 g (18 oz-1½ lb) icing sugar, sifted

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp lemon juice

Rinse and hull the strawberries, then puree them in a food processor. In a bowl, cream together the butter and 300 g icing sugar with an electric hand whisk or on a low speed in a freestanding mixer fitted with the flat beater.  Gradually add the vanilla, lemon juice and strawberry puree.  Gradually mix in another 200 g icing sugar on a low speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture has a light and fluffy texture and the sugar has dissolved.  Add more sugar if the mixture seems too soft (the amount needed varies according to the air temperature and acidity to the fruit). Use right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 7 days. Bring it to room temperature before using and beat on a low speed to make it creamy again.

Foolproof Food

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

8ozs (225g) soft butter

1 lb (450g) icing sugar, sieved

1 tablespoon coca powder, sieved

1 tablespoon hot water

Cream the butter and add the icing sugar.  Mix the cocoa powder and hot water together and beat into the mixture.  Use as a filling for biscuits or cake.


Another good news story – O’ Connells restaurant is back! Tom O’ Connell has reopened his restaurant at 133-135 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook – formerly the famous Madigans pub. As the news spreads fans are flocking back to relive the taste of the simple artisan foods Tom features on his menu. This time Lorcan Cribbin formerly of Bang heads up the kitchen team and cooks fresh fish and dry aged Irish meats on the traditional Catalonian Chargrill now all the rage in London too. 01 665 5940

Tara Bán Goat Cheddar – Terrific to meet enthusiastic young farmers keen to add value to their produce. Diarmaid Gryson from Tara in Co Meath recently won Young Innovator of the Year in the FBD Macra Na Feirme Awards and a Gold Medal in the Best New Cheese category judged by Juliet Harbutt at the British Cheese Awards in Cardiff. Tara Bán Goat Cheddar made from the milk herd of 140 goats. The family also supply delicious unhomogenised goat milk and are experimenting with ice cream and yoghurt. Telephone: 046 902 6817. They are available from local Farmers Markets and some Supervalu shops in Co Meath.

Don’t miss Cork Free Choice Consumer Group Next Meeting. Eoin O’Mahony, well known butcher of the English Market will demonstrate and discuss the traditional and lesser known cuts of lamb and beef at the Crawford Gallery Café, Emmet Place on Thursday November 25th at 7.30pm. Entrance €6.00 including tea and coffee.

Sushi made Simple – at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Wednesday November 24th 2010. Shermin Mustafa will take the mystery out of sushi making.  She tells us which rice to buy, the secret of cooking it perfectly and then show us how to make 7 or 8 different types of sushi – a delicious healthy way to entertain which won’t break the bank. Booking Essential telephone 021 4646 785.

Pathways to Growth

Ireland’s future is unquestionably in food production. At long last we are recognising the fact that Ireland is in an enviable position in terms of natural resources – we are an island nation on the edge of Europe with 400 million affluent consumers on our doorstep. We’ve got acres of fertile soil, plenty of water, a long growing season, a thriving artisan and specialist food production industry, plus a green clean image.

The Harvard Business School report commissioned by Bord Bia on ‘Pathways to Growth’ pointed all this out and said: “Ireland has an enviable agricultural situation that almost every other country would kill for. At present we export ninety percent of our beef and dairy products much of which is produced on grass which is known to produce the correct balance of Omega 3 and 6.”

In the corridors of power, politicians are ‘tri ná ceile’ about what should be done to ease us out of the quagmire we find ourselves in but on the ground people are just getting on with it, milking their cows, cooking the dinner, going to work where they are fortunate enough to still have job…

A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every £10 spent at a local food business is worth £25 for the local area, compared with just £14 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket.  That is, a pound (or euro) spent locally generates more than twice as much income for the local economy. The farmer buys a drink at the local pub; the pub owner gets his car fixed at the local mechanic; the mechanic brings a suit to the local dry cleaners; the dry cleaner buys some bread, tarts and buns at the local bakery; the baker buys apples and eggs from the local Farmers Market. When these businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community through every transaction.

Over the Halloween weekend I visited two Farmers Markets in Co Clare, one in Ennistymon and the other in Ballyvaughan. There was a terrific buzz and lively banter. Everyone had entered into the Halloween spirit; the stall holders had donned witches hats and wigs, painted their faces and decorated their stalls. Several home bakers produce reflected the festival. Scary looking cupcakes, spooky meringues and witches bread. In Ennistymon, Aloma McKay had made some witches fingers from puff pastry, a flaked almond at the tip made a very convincing looking finger nail – (they tasted like cheese straws).  She also does a great Indian curry meal and samosas having originally come from Goa in India.

Even though there were less than 15 stalls at this time of the year, one couldn’t but be impressed by the variety. Lots of local produce and home baking, I also bought a fine bag of turf and some Kerrs Pink potatoes that were grown in Ennistymon by Tom Kennedy.

Eva Hegarty Stephan had some traditional bacon, dry cured in the time honoured way and some home made sausages; close by Kate Conway was doing a roaring trade with a fine array of her gluten free baking. Mary Gray’s stall beside pumpkin carving also caught my eye. Mary’s attention to detail was evident in her delicious jams and baking and prettily wrapped hampers. She told me her cider cake is the best seller but I couldn’t resist a pot of lemon ginger marmalade and some sweet chilli jelly. Inside the hall adjoining the outdoor market Gillian O’Leary from Caherbannagh. sold her chocolate confections, pretty mendiants, hot-chocolate powder, truffles, chocolate lollipops…Gillian is a self confessed chocoholic. Her chocolate business grew out of her blog       

Kids were queuing up to paint scary masks or to have their faces painted. Close by Tom and Dorothy Barry gave seeds away for free and sold Pimenton de Padron, heirloom tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and some Blenheim apples – from their own orchard. They planted half an acre of old apples sixteen years ago. Aine Martin had set up a snug little cafe An Shibeen in the hall and was dispensing peppermint tea, barmbrack, brownies and Eve’s pudding. Noel

Ballyvaughan Market is also held from 10am to 2pm on a Saturday, again there were fewer stalls than in the summer time but still lots to choose from. Roshan Groves made the cutest witch bread. Deirdre Guillot sold chickweed and calendula salve and tarragon vinegar, so innovative, using wild and seasonal foods. Theresa Fahey who has seven fine sons, stood proudly behind a stall laden with homemade bagels, pretzels and winter vegetables – everything home grown on their farm. We bought local Burren Gold cheese, some French garlic and local apple juice. Stall holders told me how vital the market is to the community, both in economic and social terms “I make a few bob and it sure gets me out to meet a few people”

Philip Monks brought two fine bronze turkeys in a little pen to entice us to order ahead for Christmas, he also rears free range geese on his farm at Ballyvaughan, Co Clare.

Members of the Ballyvaughan Farmers Market and community have come together to write a cookbook. It is available from Quinn Crafts in Ballyvaughan, Fitzpatricks Supervalu in Ennistymon and Burren Smoke House in Lisdoonvarna. The proceeds will benefit the local community.

The Farmers Markets provide a badly needed income for many food producers and increasingly fishermen as well. They are unquestionably the best place to trial a product and do simple but effective market research.

We stayed at Gregans Castle near Ballyvaughan, County Clare, a second generation country house hotel on the edge of the Burren. They have recently been awarded three rosettes from AA and their Finnish Chef Mickael Viljanen also won the The Hotel & Catering Review Gold Medal Award for Fine Dining and at The Food & Wine Magazine Awards in August 2009 Viljanen was rated 6th best chef in Ireland and the 2nd in the Munster region. Richly deserved awards for his exceptionally delicious food. Gregans Castle closes for the Winter but will reopen in February.

So this week some delicious recipes which use seasonal produce which would be good to make for the family or to sell at a Farmers Market.


Crab Apple or Bramley Apple Jelly

Making jellies is immensely rewarding. This is a brilliant master recipe that can be used for many combinations. A jelly bag is an advantage, but by no means essential. Years ago we strained the juice and pulp through an old cotton pillow and hung it on an upturned stool. A couple of thicknesses of muslin will also do the job. Place a stainless-steel or deep pottery bowl underneath to catch the juice. Tie with cotton string and hang from a sturdy cup-hook. If you can’t get enough crab apples, use a mixture of crab apples and windfall cooking apples, like Bramley’s Seedling, Grenadier or any other tart cooking apple.

Makes 2.7–3.2kg (6–7lb)

2.7kg (6lb) crab apples or windfall cooking apples

2.7 litres (5 3⁄4 pints) water

2 organic lemons

450g (1lb) granulated sugar to every 600ml (1 pint) of juice

Wash the apples, cut into quarters, but do not remove either the peel or core. Windfalls may be used, but be sure to cut out the bruised parts. Put the apples into a large stainless-steel saucepan with the water and the thinly pared zest of the lemons and cook for about 30 minutes until reduced to a pulp.

Pour the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted, usually overnight. (The pulp can later go to the hens or compost. The jelly bag or muslin may be washed and reused over and over again.)

Measure the juice into a preserving pan and allow 450g (1lb) sugar to each 600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) of juice. Warm the sugar in a low oven. Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and add the warm sugar. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8–10 minutes. Skim, test and pot immediately. Flavour with rose geranium, mint, sage or cloves as required (see below).

Crab Apple and Rose Geranium Jelly

Add 8–10 leaves to the apples initially and 5 more when boiling to a set.


Ballymaloe Green Tomato Chutney

When you grow your own tomatoes, you can’t bear to waste a single one.

This recipe will use up the end of the precious crop and add extra oomph to winter meals.

Makes 12 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars

1kg (2 1⁄4lb) cooking apples (Bramley Seedling or Grenadier), peeled and diced

450g (1lb) onions, chopped

1kg (2 1⁄4lb) green tomatoes, chopped (no need to peel)

350g (12oz) white sugar

350g (12oz) Demerara sugar

450g (1lb) sultanas

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons allspice

2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

2 garlic cloves, coarsely crushed

1 tablespoon salt

900ml (1 1⁄2 pints) white wine vinegar


Put the apples and onions into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 45

minutes or until reduced by more than half. Stir regularly, particularly toward the end of cooking.

Pot into sterilised jars and cover immediately with non-reactive lids.

Store in a dark, airy place and leave to mellow for at least two weeks before using.

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake


I found this recipe in a BBC Good Food magazine and it has since become a favourite of ours.

Serves 8

175g (6oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

250g (9oz) Demerara sugar

100ml (3 1/2fl oz) maple syrup

3 large organic eggs

250g (9oz) self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons mixed spice

250g (9oz) parsnips, peeled and grated

1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated

50g (2oz) pecans, roughly chopped

zest and juice of 1 small orange

icing sugar, to serve



250g (9oz) mascarpone

3-4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 x 20cm (8 inches) deep sandwich tins

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

Grease the cake tins with a little butter and line the bases with baking parchment.

Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over a gentle heat, then cool slightly.  Whisk the eggs into the mixture, then stir into the flour, baking powder and mixed spiced, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice.  Divide between the two tins and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the tops spring back when pressed lightly.

Cool the cakes slightly in the tins before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.  Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone and maple syrup.  Spread over one cake and sandwich with the other.  Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Beetroot and Walnut Cake


Serves 10

3 free-range organic eggs

150ml (5 fl oz) sunflower oil

50g (2oz) soft brown sugar

150g (5oz) white or spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

100g (4oz) beetroot, grated

60g (2 1/4 oz) sultanas

60g (2 1/4 oz) walnuts, coarsely chopped


175g (6oz) icing sugar

3-4 tablespoons water to bind

To Decorate

deep-fried beetroot (see below)

pumpkin seeds

1 loaf tin 13 x 20cm (5 x 8inch)

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

Line a loaf tin with a butter paper or baking parchment. 

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar until smooth.   Sift in the flour and baking powder, add a pinch of salt and gently mix into the egg mixture.  Stir in the grated beetroot, sultanas and walnuts.   Pour into the prepared tin.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack. 

Next make the icing.

Sieve the icing sugar, beat in the water gradually to a stiff consistency. Spread evenly over the cake, allow to drizzle down the sides, leave for 5 minutes and scatter with deep-fried beetroot (see below) and pumpkin seeds.

To Deep-fry Beetroot

Peel the outer skin off the beetroot.  Using a peeler, slice thin rings of the beetroot.  Allow to dry on kitchen paper for 20 minutes.  Deep-fry until crispy.

Fool Proof Food

Brambly Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce

1lb (450g) cooking apples, (Brambley Seedling)

1-2 dessertspoons water

2oz (50g) sugar approx. depending on tartness of the apples

2-4 sweet geranium leaves

Peel, quarter and core the apples, cut pieces in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan, with the sugar, water and sweet geranium, cover and put over a low heat, as soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness.


Time to think about ordering your Christmas turkey or goose.

Philip Monks – Ballyvaughan, Co Clare – 086 8735565

Tom Clancy – Ballycotton – 086 1585709

Dan Ahearn – Midleton, Co Cork 021 4631058 or 086 8726358

Robbie Fitzsimmons – East Ferry, Co Cork 086 2056020 or 021 4651916

Ben and Charlotte Colchester – Urlingford, Co Kilkenny 056 88 31411

Jams, jellies, hampers Mary Gray, Ennistymon, Co Clare 087 76400629

Richard Graham-Leigh bakes his melt-in-the-mouth range of handmade Patisserie Régale Cookies from a small premises near Dunmanway in West Cork using local unsalted butter and free range eggs. His roasted hazelnut and white chocolate cookies, lavender shortbread, chocolate chip and oat and raisin cookies and apricot frangipane bars are available Urru in Bandon, Scallys in Clonakilty, Fields in Skibbereen, Fallon and Byrne in Dublin… Telephone 023 8855344


Game lovers shouldn’t miss George Gossip’s Game Cookery Weekend at Ballinderry Park, Kilconnell, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, Friday 19th to Sunday 21st November 2010. George is a witty, irreverent teacher and is the best game cook I know. To book your place, or to find out more about what is in store, contact – telephone +353 90 96 96796 or  


I hear good things about Dublin City Markets new lunch time market on Harcourt Street Monday to Friday.


Autumn Warming Food

The big challenge for many a busy mum and dad nowadays is to feed the family with wholesome nourishing food on a diminishing budget. Of course it is possible, but it takes more time, energy and determination to ferret out fresh local food in season. Vegetables are by far the most important food group yet we seem to be eating less and less. Food is invariably better, fresher, less expensive and much more delicious and nutritious when it is in season. However confusion still reigns, for younger people particularly, it is incredibly difficult to work out when an item is in season. There are few hints on the supermarket shelves, where most fruit and vegetables are available from January to December regardless of flavour.

Root vegetables, many brassicas and citrus are at their best during the Autumn and Winter season. Many of the roots are both filling and satisfying eg. Swede turnips, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, globe artichokes… Kale, Savoy cabbage, sprouting broccoli and other brassicas really give us that extra pep in our step. They are all easy to prepare and cook and are terrifically versatile. A fine cabbage can cost as little as one Euro, ridiculously cheap when you realise what time and effort goes into growing it. The brassica family of which cabbage is of course a member is full of goodness and is fantastically versatile. Fortunately, few people nowadays boil cabbage for hours on end as was the practice years ago – it’s so much fresher and tastier when thinly shredded across the grain and cooked in a little sizzling butter and with a couple of tablespoons of water to create steam. Good sea salt and freshly cracked pepper is really all that’s needed but I love to ring the changes with chopped parsley and chilli flakes, or a generous sprinkling of cumin seeds and lots of fresh thyme leaves and maybe a dash of cream added are also delicious and is particularly good with game.

Cabbage also makes a refreshing salad. If you are tiring of the ubiquitous coleslaw try a mayo free version with lots of mint leaves and a few raisins or dried cherries. My absolute favourite at present is Skye Gyngell’s Autumn Coleslaw with both red and white cabbage, carrots, raw beetroot, fennel, apples and hazelnuts.

Cabbage can also be stuffed whole or the leaves can be blanched and used to make delicious parcels with a variety of fillings – minced pork, beef, lentils well flavoured with herbs, spices, nam pla, sweet chilli sauce… For a more traditional filling and though not expensive meal, I like to stuff blanched cabbage leaves with little chunks of boiled bacon, champ and parsley sauce. Half a kilo of boiled streaky bacon will make about 8 fat cabbage parcels. Comforting, thrifty food at its best. The tougher outside leaves of the cabbage don’t need to be wasted either follow the example of the Chinese and make crispy seaweed. It makes a delicious nibble and a moreish snack. Even the stalk needn’t be wasted just chop finely or grate and add to a cabbage salad or coleslaw.

Here are a few lovely homely recipes that won’t break the bank but should have your family and friends licking their lips.


Bantry Irish Stew






Serves 6-8




3 lbs (1.3kg) gigot or rack chops from the shoulder of lamb not less than 2.5cm (1 inch thick)

1lb (450g) (8 medium or 12 baby carrots)

1lb (450g) (8 medium or 12 baby onions)

1lb (450g) Swede turnip, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes




225g (½ lb) Swede turnip and 225g (½ lb) parsnips

10 -12 potatoes, or more if you like

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 3/4 pints stock (lamb stock if possible) or water

1 sprig of thyme

1 tablespoon roux, optional








1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives




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




Trim off the excess fat from the chops. Remove the bones and cut into generous 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes, you should have a minimum of 2 1/2lbs (1.1kg) lamb. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces).




Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young you could leave some of the green stalk on the onion and carrot). Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are small leave them whole. If the onions are large, cut them into quarters through the root, if they are small they are best left whole. Peel the turnip and parsnips if using and cut into cubes




Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole (add the bones also but discard later). Quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots, onions, turnip and parsnips up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with freshly ground pepper and salt. De-glaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1-1 1/2 hours approx, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or hogget. (If the potatoes are small, use twice as many and add half way through cooking)




When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease and reheat in another saucepan. Discard the bones. Thicken slightly by whisking in a little roux. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve from the pot, in a large pottery dish or in individual bowls.


Skye Gyngell’s Autumn Coleslaw

Serves 8 (as a main course)

This strong, crunchy, earthbound salad comprises everything that is good about autumn – apples, cobnuts, red cabbage and beetroot. My last meal on Earth would have to be some sort of salad…this might just be it! Pretty pink and white candy-striped beetroot looks amazing, but the purple or golden variety will taste just as good. If you can’t find cobnuts, use hazelnuts instead.

200g/7oz cobnuts or fresh hazelnuts, shelled and very roughly chopped

1 pomegranate, quartered

¼ red cabbage, cored OR half red and half white cabbage

1 fennel bulb

4 raw beetroot, washed

3 carrots, peeled

4 dessert apples (preferably Cox’s Orange Pippins)

small bunch tarragon leaves only, finely chopped

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice ½ lemon or to taste

For the Dressing

2 organic free-range egg yolks

1 tbsp honey

1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp cream

1 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

200ml/7fl oz mild olive oil

Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Spread the cobnuts or hazelnuts on a baking tray and gently toast them in the oven for 3-4 mins. Set aside to cool. Carefully extract the seeds from the pomegranate avoiding the bitter membrane. Set aside.

Finely slice the red cabbage into thin ribbons. Cut off the base of the fennel bulb, remove the tough outer layer, then slice very finely. Cut the beetroot into very thin rounds. Shave the carrots into long ribbons, using a swivel vegetable peeler. Quarter and core the apple, leaving the skin on, then slice thinly.

Place the red cabbage, fennel, beetroot, carrots, apples and chopped tarragon in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and squeeze over the lemon juice. Toss gently together with your hands and set aside while you make the dressing.

For the dressing, put the egg yolks into a bowl. Add the honey, mustard, cream, cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses (if using) and whisk together to combine. Season with a little salt and pepper, then pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking as you do so emulsify. It should have the consistency of a very loose mayonnaise. Divide the salad among individual plates, piling it high. Drizzle over the dressing and scatter the pomegranate seeds and cobnuts around the plate to serve.

Warm Salad of Jerusalem Artichokes with Hazelnut Oil Dressing



White turnips and kohlrabi are also delicious cooked and served in this way. This recipe provides a perfect first course for a winter dinner party, and raises the Jerusalem artichoke to a more sophisticated level. Serves 4

350g (12oz) Jerusalem artichokes, very carefully peeled to a smooth shape

7g (1⁄4oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Hazelnut Oil Dressing

3 tablespoons hazelnut oil

11⁄2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1⁄4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar to taste

To Serve

a few oakleaf lettuce leaves

25g (1oz) hazelnuts, toasted and sliced

sprigs of chervil, for garnish

Cut the artichokes into 1cm (1⁄2in) slices. Bring 125ml (4fl oz) of water and the butter to the boil in a heavy saucepan and add the artichokes. Season. Cover and cook gently until the artichokes are almost cooked. Turn off the heat and leave in the covered saucepan until they are almost tender. Test with a skewer at regular intervals; they usually take about 15 minutes from the point at which you turn off the heat.

While the artichokes are cooking, prepare the hazelnut dressing by mixing all the ingredients together.

When the artichokes are cooked, carefully remove from the saucepan, making sure not to break them up. Place them on a flat dish in a single layer. Spoon over some of the hazelnut dressing and toss while still warm. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

To assemble the salad, divide the sliced artichokes between 4 plates. Put a little circle of lettuce around the vegetables and sprinkle some of the dressing over the lettuce. Garnish with the hazelnuts and chervil sprigs. Eat while the artichokes are still warm.

Celeriac, Potato and Rosemary Gratin


Serves 4-6

6 bacon rashers, chopped (optional)

420ml (15fl oz) double cream

350ml (12fl oz) milk

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 celeriac (about 500g/18oz) peeled, quartered and thinly sliced

500g (18oz) potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced



Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.

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

Grill the bacon, if using, until cooked and lightly brown, then set aside.
Bring the cream, milk, garlic, rosemary, chilli and mustard to the boil in a medium saucepan, and then turn off the heat.

Pour a little of the cream mixture onto the bottom of an ovenproof gratin dish.

Arrange a layer of celeriac, scatter with bacon, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Pour over some more of the cream mixture and repeat the same process, alternating potato and celeriac, finishing with a layer of potato. Cover with the remainder of cream mixture. Bake for 1-1 1/4 hours in the preheated oven until golden and the vegetables are tender when a knife is inserted. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, and then serve.

Fool Proof Food

Chinese Seaweed – Deepfried cabbage



Surprisingly, the Chinese seaweed served in many Chinese restaurants has nothing to do with seaweed; it is merely deep fried cabbage. This original way of cooking cabbage tastes absolutely delicious and once you start to eat it, just like peanuts or popcorn it becomes addictive.
Savoy cabbage



Remove the stalks from the outer leaves. Roll the dry leaves into a cigar shape and slice with a very sharp knife into the finest possible shreds.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 180°C/350°F.

Toss in some of the cabbage and cook for a few seconds. As soon as it starts to crisp, remove and drain on kitchen paper! Sprinkle with salt and sugar, toss and serve cold.



At last there is Irish sea salt on the market. Irish Atlantic Sea Salt is harvested from the Beara Peninsular using a very natural process that provides an ecologically sound, sustainable organic sea salt. Available at Tom Durkin’s Butcher’s in the English Market, Cork city.
Aileen and Michael O’Niell – 086 1620994 – 027 73222
South African Winemaker Dinner at Ballymaloe House
with Martin Moore, Winemaker, Durbanville Hills Wines, South Africa, in association with Edward Dillon & Co. Wine Merchants. Tuesday 16th November, 2010, 8.00pm reception, followed by dinner with wines. € 70.00. Phone 021 4652531 to book.



Brenda O’Riordan – the wife of an in-shore fisherman in East Cork started her own business, Love Fish in Ballycotton, in 2008. She collects fresh locally caught fish from day boats and delivers straight to your door. Brenda is making it possible for locals and chefs to have access to quality, fresh fish and is making a significant contribution to the local food industry in East Cork, which is why she was recently selected for an EirGrid Euro-toques 2010 Food Award. Contact Brenda 086 1704085.


Rachel Allen’s newest book Entertaining at Home is on the best sellers charts again this week. Rachel will teach a two and half day Festive Entertaining Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Tuesday 14th – Thursday 16th December 2010, she will show you how to make and present some wonderful Festive treats and then you’ll get a chance to try them out yourself with our team of teachers.  Phone 021 4646785


Halloween was a spooky time when I was child, we heard all about the banshee. People told ghost stories and we ate barmbrack and colcannon. It was all about fortune telling and divination. There was lots of apple-bobbing and I also remember a game that involved three saucers, one held water, the second some soil, the third a ring. One after another we were blindfolded and there was lots of giggling. When one touched a saucer, fingers in the water meant you were going on a journey ‘over seas’, the ring meant you would be married within the year – even if you were only six – the clay was very bad news, it indicated that you would meet a sticky end before the year ‘was out’. The contents of the barmbrack also held similar clues to one’s fortunes good or otherwise. All good innocent fun and apart from the barmbrack pretty uncommercial. Almost every culture marks Halloween, the Day of the Dead or All Souls Day. Many visit grave yards and bring the favourite food of their loved ones to picnic and reminisce on the graves. Increasingly it is about witches and pumpkins in the American tradition. Shops and Farmers Market stalls are piled high with pumpkins. Kids have pumpkin carving parties and I’ve even seen a spectacular totem pole made from a variety of pumpkins and squash at an organic farm in the UK.

So what to do with all the pumpkin flesh? Pumpkin soup is an obvious solution or make a puree, sweeten it for pumpkin pie or add lots of seasoning, fresh herbs and spices to serve it with savoury dishes. In Dublin recently I had a delicious pizza at Juniors – Paulie’s Pizza on Grand Canal Street (the sister restaurant of Juniors on Bath Avenue in Ballsbridge). Both are cool restaurants doing good food at reasonable prices. The thin crust was topped with fresh tomato sauce, roasted butternut, mozzarella, diced pancetta, freshly cracked black pepper and chilli flakes with a fistful of rocket leaves on top – very good indeed. I can’t usually manage to eat a whole pizza. It was so good I couldn’t bear to leave some behind. When I was crossing the road a passing motorist honked his horn and yelled out through his window “Where’s Darina Allen going with a take out pizza!”

Juniors – Paulie’s Pizza, 58 Grand Canal Street, Dublin 4, + 353 (0) 1 6643658

Juniors Restaurant, Bath Avenue, Ballsbridge, Co. Dublin + 353 (0)1 6643648

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkins vary in intensity of flavour; some are much stronger than others so you may need to add some extra stock or milk. I sometimes add a can of coconut milk with delicious results.

900g (2 lb) peeled and seeded pumpkin or winter squash, cut into cubes

175g (6oz) onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

25g (1oz) butter

450g (l lb) very ripe tomatoes or 1 x 14oz (400g) tinned tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 sprig thyme

1.2 litres (2 pints) homemade chicken stock

salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg


40g (1 1/2 ozs) butter

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon white mustard seeds

2 inch (5cm) piece of cinnamon stick

Put the cubes of squash into a pan with the onion, garlic, butter and thyme. Cover and sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the chopped tomatoes, (add 1/2-1 teaspoon sugar if using tinned tomatoes), puree and cook until they have dissolved to a thick sauce. Stir in the stock, salt, freshly ground pepper and a little freshly ground nutmeg and simmer until the squash is very tender. Discard the thyme stalk, then liquidise the soup in several batches and return to the pan. You may need to add a little more stock or milk if the soup is too thick for you liking. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Just before serving, gently reheat the soup and pour into a warm serving bowl. Heat the coriander, cumin and pepper, and crush coarsely. Melt the butter and, when foaming add the crushed spices, mustard seeds and cinnamon. Stir for a few seconds until the mustard seeds start to pop. Quickly pour over the soup and serve, mixing in the spice butter as you ladle it out, having removed the cinnamon stick.

Halloween Barmbrack

Everyone in Ireland loves a barmbrack, perhaps because it brings back lots of memories of excitement and games at Halloween. When the barmbrack was

cut, everyone waited in anticipation to see what they’d find in their slice: a

stick, a pea, a ring, and what it meant for their future. Now they’re available

in every Irish bakery, but here’s a great recipe you can use to make one at home. It keeps in a tin for up to a week. If this recipe feels like too much work, make the teabrack (Irish Barmbrack, see recipe), which, after you’ve plumped up the fruit,

takes mere minutes to mix.

450g (1lb) strong white bakers flour


2 level teaspoon ground cinnamon

Irish Tea Barmbrack

This is a more modern version of barmbrack, now commonly called a ‘tea brack’ because the dried fruit is soaked in tea overnight to plump it up (rather than boiled as in the recipe above). This little gem of a recipe is much easier to make at home than the Halloween Barmbrack.

Even though it is a very rich bread, in Ireland it is traditionally served sliced and buttered.

Yields about 12 slices (eat the crusts, too!)

110g (4oz) sultanas

110g (4oz) raisins

110g (4oz) currants

50g (2oz) natural glace cherries, halved or quartered

300ml (10fl oz) hot tea

1 organic egg, whisked

200g (7oz) soft brown sugar

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon mixed spice

50g (2oz) homemade candied peel

450g (1lb) loaf tin – 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in) OR 3 small loaf tins 15 x 7.5cm (6 x 3in)

Put the dried fruit and cherries into a bowl. Cover with hot tea and leave to plump up overnight.

Next day

, line the loaf tin with silicone paper.

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

Add the whisked egg, soft brown sugar, flour and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well. Put the mixture into the lined loaf tin.

Cook in for about 1 1/2hours or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Keeps very well in an airtight tin.

Gingerbread Witches

Makes approximately 40 witches

300g (11oz) butter

125g (4 1/2oz) caster sugar

125g (4 1/2oz) soft dark brown sugar

225g (8oz) golden syrup or treacle

725g (1lb 9oz) plain flour

2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

3 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Icing for witches

175g (6oz) icing sugar

1 ½ tablespoon water


1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice

Decoration for witches

Chocolate buttons (milk or white chocolate);

Piping bag and nozzles

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.

Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter together with the sugars and golden syrup or treacle. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the melted butter and sugar and mix together.

Knead the mixture for a few seconds until it comes together, adding a teaspoon or so of water if necessary, but without allowing it to get too wet. Flatten the dough slightly into a round about 2cm (3/4 inch) thick, wrap with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the gingerbread witches, remove the dough from the fridge, dust the work surface with flour and roll all of the dough to about 5mm (1/4 inch) thick. Cut out the witch shapes using a stencil, transfer onto the baking trays and cook in the preheated oven for 12 minutes, until they are slightly firm, a little darker at the edges and slightly drier on top. Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool. When they have cooled, they can be iced, if you wish.

To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the water. Beat until the icing comes together, adding a little more water if necessary. (Be careful not to add too much or the icing will be too runny).

Using a small palette knife or the back of a spoon dipped into boiling water (to make the icing easier to spread), spread the icing over the gingerbread witches. If you wish to pipe on details, such as faces and hair, spoon the icing into a small piping bag with just the smallest corner cut off. While the icing is still slightly “unset” on the biscuits, arrange the decorations you are using, then set aside for the icing to set.

Spooky Ghosts

This meringue mixture can also be made into pumpkins, brooms, cats, moons, stars…

4 egg whites

250g (9oz approx.) icing sugar, sieved


1/2 pint (300ml) whipped cream

Cover 3 baking trays with a perfectly fitting sheet of silicone paper.

Mix all the icing sugar with the egg whites at once in a spotlessly clean bowl. Whisk until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks – 10 to 15 minutes. Spoon into a clean piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe into spooky ghost shapes. Bake immediately in a low oven 150°C (fan) \300°F\regulo 2 for 30 minutes or until set crisp.

Pipe black eyes with melted chocolate on half of the ghosts.

Sandwich the meringues together with whipped cream.


The RTÉ Vanbrugh Quartet

will be performing a series of six concerts over Saturday 30th & Sunday 31st October in The Grain Store at Ballymaloe celebrating fine cuisine and the best of chamber classical music. For more information please visit or call 083 3631468

Hickey’s Bakery in Clonmel’s +353 (0) 52 612 1587 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it A good news story – Stephen Pearce

is back in business and has re-opened at the Old Pottery in Shanagarry. Lots of beautiful dishes hot off the potters wheel to enhance your delicious food. The pottery is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 5 and Sunday 12 – 5pm. 021 4646807.

Wild Fruit Wines – at the Clare Harvest Festival

There are still places left on the one day Christmas Cooking Part 2 course which covers both traditional and modern recipes including many favourites. Monday 13th December 9:30am to 5:00pm €245.00. Booking essential 021 4646785

all the food came from within a 40 mile radius of the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon where the feast was held and very delicious it was too. We drank a local fruit wine made by Brian Ingram. I usually avoid that kind of thing but I was mightily impressed by both the quality and fresh clean flavour – really worth seeking out

makes seriously fruity Barmbrack which recently won Gold in The 2010 Blas na hEireann National Irish Food Awards

Making Sausages

The whole wide world it seems loves sausages. Here in Ireland we eat an estimated 15,200 tonnes of sausages every year but it’s not just the Irish and Brits who have a passion for sausages, what would the yanks do without their hotdogs, the French and Italian wouldn’t survive without their salami and salumi the Spanish have got all of us hooked on Chorizo and Germans boast over 1,200 varieties of sausages, the Chinese too have their favourites and of course we also love Moroccan merquez, Polish cabanossi and wiejska sausages have been made for at least 5,000 years when the earliest written recipe was etched on a Sumerian clay tablet. Romans were also sausage enthusiasts and brought the art of stuffing chopped meat into casings to every corner of their vast empire. Originally in the days before refrigeration sausage making would have been primarily about preservation. Salt and spices both flavoured and halted the growth of pathogenic bacteria, herbs like rosemary and sage also have anti bacterial qualities and of course drying and smoking help to further preserve.

Sausages would have been flavoured with the predominant herb or spice of that area such as wild fennel seeds in Italy, caraway in Germany and ground paprika (pimento) in Spain.

Refrigeration and mechanisation have transformed sausages, not always for the better, cheaper sausages can have mechanically recovered meat and little pork as we know it. However there has been a revival in real sausage making and many butchers and artisan producers now make superb sausages. Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland have for years encouraged innovation and awarded sought after prizes for creative ‘bangers’ If you would like to try your hand you don’t necessarily need to keep a pig but do need to somehow source terrific pork preferably from a traditional breed of pig that ranges freely outside – you’ll also need some nice pork fat because perversely if the meat is too lean the sausages will be dry and dull – a recently published book called ‘The Sausage Book’ published by Kyle Cathie and written by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton could be just the thing to get you started.

Nick is Creative chef for Pret a Manger and has tested a vast range of sausages all in the name of research. Johnny is a writer / journalist who has raised four Oxford Sandy cats so far. This is their fifth cook book – I loved the recipes for making sausages but if you’d rather buy them there are also over 80 delicious and well tested recipes to use them in.

Paysanne Sausages

Traditional fresh sausage recipes call for salt to form two per cent of the total weight. We have reduced this to one and a half per cent, as it’s healthier and doesn’t adversely affect the flavour.

Makes about 20 sausages

1.5kg pork shoulder, cut into chunks

500gm hard pork back fat, trimmed of all skin, cut into chunks (NB Instead of the 2 ingredients above you could use 2kg fatty pork belly, trimmed of skin and bone and cut into chunks)

15g fresh thyme, finely chopped

30g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

30g fine or flaky sea salt

10g freshly ground black pepper

20g garlic, chopped

approx 3m length of spooled hog casings, soaked in warm water prior to usage

Before you start, make sure your surfaces and equipment are scrupulously clean. You may also want to wear latex gloves.

The process begins with grinding the meat to the desired texture, which in this case is on the rough side (use a 5–7mm plate). Make sure you keep the meat cold throughout. This isn’t just a matter of hygiene – if you allow sausage meat to warm up, it turns into unmanageable glue.

The next stage is to chop up the herbs and add them to the mince with the requisite quantity of salt. You then mix the ingredients by hand until they are evenly distributed.

Now comes the slightly suggestive business of rolling the casing onto the nozzle. With any luck, one end of the casing will be wrapped around a telltale plastic ring. If it isn’t, you just have to scrabble around until you find an end. Once you have succeeded, slip the end over the tip of the nozzle and gradually roll the whole casing onto it, bar a couple of inches. Then tie a knot in the projecting portion.

At this point, you need to load your sausage stuffer with the meat-and-herb-mixture. Then screw the nozzle on and prepare to stuff. This will be much easier if you enlist the help of a friend. One of you turns the handle of the stuffer while the other controls the release of the casing. This is done by gripping the part of it nearest to the tip of the nozzle between two fingers, varying the pressure as the meat emerges to ensure that the casing slips off at a controlled rate. The idea is to fill it thoroughly and evenly.

All being well, you will end up with one very long sausage, but if the casing ruptures, perhaps due to some overzealous handle-turning, just tie a knot in it and start again.

When you run out of casings or meat, tie a knot in the back end as you did the front.

The final piece of the jigsaw is to twist the giant sausage into links. There are various pretty ways of doing this but the simplest is to ease the meat into segments of the desired length through the casing, then twist at the gaps. When it comes to cooking your freshly made sausages, do it slowly and thoroughly and do not prick the skins. If the heat isn’t too high, there is little danger of the sausages bursting and you don’t want them to lose their juiciness.


This is a version of the classic sausage from the North West of England.

Makes about 15 sausages

1.2kg (2 ¾ lb) roughly minced thick belly pork

20g (¾ oz) salt

5g (¼ oz) freshly ground black pepper

2g freshly grated nutmeg

2g dried marjoram

2g dried sage

2m (200cm) hog casings

Make as per Paysanne Sausages, forming one giant coil. Don’t tie off into links.


The definitive fresh sausage of South West France.

Makes about 2 0 sausages

2kg roughly minced pork belly

30g relatively fine sea salt

2g freshly grated nutmeg

5g freshly ground black pepper

100ml red wine

20g garlic, chopped

20g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

4g fresh sage, chopped

4g fresh thyme, chopped

2.5m hog casings

Make as per Paysanne Sausages.

Toad in The hole

Depending on the quality of the sausages and the execution, this classic British dish can be depressingly stodgy or rather magnificent. Our ‘toads’ of choice are pork chipolatas wrapped in smoked streaky bacon, served with a flavoursome onion gravy made from rich chicken stock and a good glug of booze. For this recipe you need a standard-size 12-hole muffin tin (or, of course, two six-hole ones).

Serves 4

The Toads

12 chipolatas

12 rashers smoked streaky bacon

The Batter

100g plain flour

1 egg

300ml milk

The Gravy

300ml chicken or beef stock

250ml red wine

1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons plain flour

2 sprigs thyme

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Wrap each chipolata in one rasher of bacon and bake for fifteen minutes, each in an individual muffin mould. While they are roasting, whisk the batter ingredients together in a bowl.

Remove the chipolatas from the oven and immediately ladle out the batter into the muffin moulds so there is a chipolata poking out of each one. Place the moulds in the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes until the batter is puffed up and golden brown.

While all this has been going on, you will have been making the gravy. To do this, heat up the stock and red wine in one pan while frying the onion in the butter over moderate heat in another. Continue for about ten minutes until nice and soft. Stir in the flour and slowly pour in the hot stock, whisking as you go.

Add the thyme and Worcestershire sauce and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove the toads in the hole from the oven and serve with mashed root vegetables and lashings of gravy.


Toulouse Sausage & Bean Cassoulet


Serves 3

1kg Toulouse sausage (or other herby variety, such as paysanne)

olive oil

2 carrots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

1 small onion, peeled and diced

50g pancetta, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

250ml passata

500ml chicken stock

600g cooked butter beans

2 fresh bay leaves

2 sprigs thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs, mixed with a little olive oil and salt

Fry the sausages gently in a little olive oil until lightly browned, then allow them to cool. Slice thickly and set aside. Reserve all the fat and juices.

Fry the carrot, celery, onion and pancetta in the olive oil over medium heat for around ten minutes until soft. Add the passata and the stock.

Add the sausage and juices, beans, bay leaf and thyme. Simmer for half an hour, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

A few minutes before the end of the cooking time, preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Sprinkle the mixture with the breadcrumbs and finish off under the grill, removing when the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Huevos Rancheros with Chorizo

Serves 2

2 fresh (uncured) chorizo, sliced

1/2 onion, peeled and chopped

1/2 red chilli, sliced

1/2 red pepper, chopped

200g chopped tomatoes from a tin

1–2 sprigs oregano, chopped


2 eggs

This classic Hispanic breakfast dish, which uses fresh chorizo and will set you up for the day nicely. You will need a small to medium frying pan with a lid.

Fry the sliced sausages for a few minutes over moderate heat, then add the onion, chilli and pepper and continue to fry for five minutes or so, until the fat has been released from the chorizo. Give the mixture an occasional stir.

Add the tomatoes, oregano and a little salt if you wish. Simmer for ten minutes. Make two indentations in the sauce and break in the eggs.

Place the lid on the pan and continue to cook over low to moderate heat for three to five minutes until the eggs are done to your liking.

Place the pan on the table and serve yourselves. Warm corn tortillas are an essential accompaniment.


Vienna Macaroni cheese

Serves 4

1 cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

300g dry macaroni

200g cream cheese

6 Frankfurters, sliced

100ml cre`me frai^che

salt and white pepper

mature Cheddar cheese for grating on top

Boil the cauliflower for three or four minutes in a large saucepan.

Immediately cool under a cold tap, leaving the hot water in the pan.

Cook the macaroni in the cauliflower water until al dente, then drain it and return it to the saucepan. Add the cream cheese, Frankfurters, cauliflower, crème fraîche, salt and white pepper and stir over very low heat until the cream cheese has melted. This should take about a minute.

Preheat the grill to its highest setting.

Transfer the contents of the saucepan to an oven dish. Grate a generous layer of Cheddar cheese on top, then brown under the grill and serve.

Chorizo & Goat’s Cheese tart

Serves 3

The Pastry (enough for 1 tart)

120g plain flour

60g butter

25g grated Parmesan cheese

pinch of salt

a little grating of nutmeg

2 egg yolks from large eggs

1/2 the white from a large egg

The Filling

1 large red pepper

120g creme fraiche

1 large egg with 1 extra yolk

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

150g goat’s cheese, crumbled

200g fresh or cured chorizo, sliced or diced

1/4 teaspoon ground pimento or any other good-quality paprika, smoked or unsmoked (according to taste)

Goat’s cheese goes particularly well with chorizo. You can roll out the pastry, make the filling and bake this tart in less than an hour. Use a shallow, non-stick pizza pan with a 1cm lip, approximately 1cm deep and 28cm across.

First make the pastry. Sieve the flour onto your kitchen work surface. Cut the butter into pieces and place on top of the flour along with the cheese, salt and nutmeg. Rub the ingredients together with the tips of your fingers until all the lumps of butter and cheese have melted into the mix. This will take a few minutes.

Make a well in the centre of the mix and fill it with the two yolks and the egg white. Work the egg in with your fingers, then gather the pastry into a ball and work it with the heel of your hand for 30 seconds. Use the pastry itself to mop up any loose bits of dough that adhere to your work surface. Work the pastry again for a minute, then shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge until you need it (you can make the pastry the day before you cook the tart).

When ready to make the tart, roll out the pastry to the approximate size of the pizza pan, lay it over it and press it down into the pan. Don’t worry about trimming it around the sides unless you feel the need strongly.

Preheat the oven to 240ºC. Bake the red pepper for 15 minutes until charred, then leave it to cool. Peel the skin away, remove the seeds and slice the pepper into thin strips. Reduce the oven temperature to 200ºC.

Mix the crème fraîche, egg, thyme and seasoning together with a fork or whisk. Spread the mixture onto the pastry, making sure it goes all the way to the sides. Sprinkle the goat’s cheese evenly on top, then lay over the roasted pepper strips in a haphazard manner, followed by the chorizo. Powder the surface with pimenton and bake for 15–20 minutes until the chorizo is nice and browned. Eat while still warm.



It’s worth looking out for Hodgins Craft Butchers

in Mitchelstown 025 24696, Woodside Farm in Midleton 0872767206 and Gubeen Farmhouse Products in West Cork 028 27824 – they all produce really good sausages.Matthew Dillon

, founding director of Organic Seed Alliance is the keynote speaker at the Organic Trust AGM at the Grain Store at Ballymaloe House on Sunday 7th November at 2pm. Organic Seed Alliance is– a public non-profit organisation that engages in education, research, advocacy with farmers to develop regenerative, farmer oriented and ethical seed systems. Not to be missed. 021 4652531.

The three Douglas Markets

have merged into one terrific market. There are over 40 stalls including Annie’s Roasts from East Ferry with her delicious free range chickens and ducks from her family farm freshly cooked on the rotisserie at the market. There’s fresh fish from West Cork, farmhouse cheese, freshly baked Arbutus Breads, lots of local fresh farm produce… Every Saturday outside the Douglas Court Shopping Centre from 10am – 2pm.Contact Rupert at


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