Stevie Parle – London

A few months ago I wrote a piece on a new young chef called Stevie Parle who is making waves on the London food scene. Stevie was on of the youngest students we ever had on our 12 Week course. He was just 17 years old when he signed up for the January 2002 Certificate Course. He like many young people was fed up with ordinary school – he just wanted to cook.

Stevie is an erudite young chef with a blistering pedigree. Aged just 24, he has already worked at the River Café with Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, for Skye Gyngell at renowned Petersham Nurseries and at the landmark Moro with Sam and Sam Clark. When he set up his pop-up Moveable Restaurant with Joseph Trivelli last year, fashion leaders clamoured to eat at the twice monthly word-of-mouth supper clubs, one of which was hosted by Nigella Lawson. Now, Stevie runs and cooks at the Dock Kitchen in Portobello Docks, where he also continues the highly successful supper club tradition.

Stevie has worked and lived in Tokyo, New York and Sri Lanka, as well as bussed biked, walked and boated all around India, Ireland, Morocco, Italy and south east Asia, picking up recipes magpie like where ever he goes. The London Evening Standard named Stevie and pop-up restaurant partner as the capital’s hottest young chefs.

Stevie lives with his wife on a red barge, the Avontuur, moored at Hammersmith in west London. They keep a pontoon allotment and a dry land plot, and growing fruit and vegetables has become one of Stevie’s passions.

It’s definitely my book of the year so far… My Kitchen – Real Food from Near and Far is an eclectic collection of food and recipes from Stevie’s life in food so far, gleaned from his travels and his intimate knowledge of ingredients. It is a charming mixture of anecdote, tales from his Hammersmith houseboat and wonderful recipes, as well as occasions from his life such as a ‘Ligurian supper for friends, who would prefer to be on holiday but instead have to work’ and Early morning on the deck, watching the cherry blossom on the bank’.

Divided into 12 monthly chapters, the dishes are based around seasonal bounty and Stevie’s global inspirations. Though his influences are incredibly wide, Stevie understands the rules of food and doesn’t mess with the classics, instead finding new ways to approach old recipes, using his vast creativity and impeccably trained craftsmanship. Within each chapter, Stevie gives a master class about a single foodstuff, with the aim of teaching readers how to cook better by watching subtle changes in the pan and by paying attention to the life cycles of fresh produce. If you thought you knew garlic and how to cook it for instance, Stevie may well show you there is more to learn. My Kitchen is a unique cook book from a stunning young culinary talent.

Stevie is one of two young chefs and cooks chosen by Quadrille Publishing for their exciting new cookery book series entitled ‘New Voices in Food’.

Here are some of Stevie Parle’s recipes from the book for you to enjoy…

Coconut Broth with Squash or Potato



This typically Sri Lankan dish is very quick and easy to make.

serves 6 as part of a big selection

200g (7oz) waxy potatoes or sweet squash, in 2cm (1 inch) dice,

1 red onion, chopped very small

1 or 2 hot green chilli, left whole

a small handful of fresh curry leaves,

1 garlic clove, green shoot removed, chipped

1cm (1/2 inch) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

a knife tip of turmeric,

25 or so fenugreek seeds, whole

½ tsp black pepper, finely freshly ground

1 tsp Maldive fish or 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and salted

500ml (18fl oz) coconut milk,

lime juice, to taste

Put everything except the coconut milk and lime in a pan. Pour in 250ml (9floz) water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the potato or squash is soft. Add the coconut milk, salt and lime, to taste.

Couscous with Broad Beans



A delicious mixture that makes an excellent breakfast. Here it worked well as part of a mixed table.

serves 4

200g small fresh broad beans, podded

200g fine couscous (not the coarse or pre-cooked),

olive oil

1 small spring garlic clove

1 tsp cumin seeds

4 tbsp thin yogurt, preferably homemade

2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Briefly boil the beans in unsalted water (salt toughens the skins), then place in a bowl with the couscous. Sprinkle with salt and 1 tbsp olive oil. Rub everything between your hands to coat in oil. Pour over enough hot water to cover, and leave until it is absorbed (about 15 minutes).

Crush the garlic with salt to a fine paste. Toast the cumin in a dry pan. When it crackles, grind with the garlic, adding the yogurt and some black pepper. Mix the couscous with the yogurt and coriander, check the seasoning and serve with a little more olive oil.


Aubergines, Walnuts, Mint and Yogurt


“This is my favourite dish in our local Persian restaurant. It’s great as a dip. I generally eat it all, much to the dismay of my wife Nicky.”

serves 4 as part of a spread

2 large aubergines

1 spring garlic clove

a few mint leaves

15 walnuts, shelled

100ml (3½fl oz) olive oil

50g (2oz) white Arabic cheese or feta

1 lemon

Roast the aubergines whole under the grill or on the barbecue until the skin is black and the aubergine has almost collapsed. This will take about 20 minutes. Put in a colander to cool. Crush the garlic; add the mint, then the nuts. Crush to a paste, and then add the oil and cheese. Mash everything up until smooth. When the aubergines are cool, remove the skin and put the flesh in a bowl, then pour over the walnut mixture. Squeeze over the lemon juice and mix, squashing the aubergines to a smooth mush. Taste for balance and salt. Eat at room temperature.

Cashew Nut Curry



“One of the best and simplest Sri Lankan dishes I have found. Use a salted anchovy fillet if Maldive fish flakes or dried sprats prove elusive.”

serves 6 as part of a big selection

300g (10 ½ oz) raw cashew nuts

300ml (10fl oz) coconut milk

½ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp chilli powder

2cm (3/4 in) cinnamon stick

½ tsp/2 fish Maldive fish or dried sprats
or 1 rinsed and salted anchovy fillet

¼ tsp anise seeds,

1 tbsp sunflower oil

20 curry leaves

Put all the ingredients except the oil and curry leaves in a saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, then season with salt. Pour the oil into a frying pan and, when hot, throw in the curry leaves until they crackle. Mix the leaves through the curry and serve.

Lamb, Okra and Tomato Tashreeb



Tashreeb is a common Iraqi dish; though it is unusual to us. The word comes from sharaab, ‘to drink’, referring to the way the pitta bread under the stew drinks up the liquid.

serves 6

1 tbsp allspice berries, ground

1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

1 tsp unsmoked paprika or mild chilli powder

1 small lamb shoulder on the bone

olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

15 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 dried lime, left whole

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (if you have some)

500g (18oz) small fingers of okra

6 pitta breads

Rub the spices on to the lamb and season well with salt and pepper. Heat a wide pan that will accommodate the whole shoulder with a bit of space to move.

Fry the lamb gently in olive oil until well browned. Be careful not to burn the spices. Throw in the garlic, then the tomatoes and dried lime.

Add water to almost cover the lamb and pour in the pomegranate molasses, if using. Cover and cook gently until the lamb is tender. It might take two hours, depending on the age of the animal and the speed of cooking. Gently is better; just about bubbling.

When the lamb is soft, add the okra and put the pitta bread in a medium oven until it is hard. When the okra is tender, tear the lamb from the bone and put it in a large, shallow bowl with the pitta bread, then pour over the tomato, okra and cooking liquid.

Tandoor Chicken



serves 2 very hungry people

2 large tsp cumin seeds

2 large tsp coriander seeds

2cm cinnamon stick

1 tsp peppercorns

½ tsp turmeric

2 large tsp Kashmiri (mild) chilli powder

1 slim wedge small red onion

4 garlic cloves, green sprout removed

2 large mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

200ml rich yogurt,

1 chicken, spatchcocked

Toast the cumin in a dry pan over low heat until it smells slightly smoky and starts to crackle, then chuck it in a large pestle and mortar (you could use a blender but it’s not as good, or as rewarding). Add the coriander, cinnamon and peppercorns and grind to a fine powder. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, onion and garlic and a good amount of salt. Grind to a fine paste. Add the chillies and yogurt. Rub the chicken well with the paste. Leave at room temperature to marinate for a few hours.

When you are ready, get your barbecue going, but spread the coals well so it is not too hot. Lay the chicken as flat as you can and barbecue on both sides until cooked through. Pay particular attention to the legs. Eat with Naan bread, lime pickle and a cold beer.

Chocolate, Hazelnut, Brandy and Espresso Cake



“I love having so many of my favourite things in one recipe. This is a great cake I could eat at any time of day.”

serves 10–12

300g (10 ½ oz) really good butter, plus more for the tin

6 eggs

250g (9oz) caster sugar

400g (14oz) really good dark chocolate,

300g (10 ½ oz) whole, skinned, roasted hazelnuts

1 big tbsp bitter cocoa

6 espressos or 150ml (5fl oz) very strong cafetiere coffee

100ml (3½fl oz) brandy

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Butter a 20cm springform tin, then line with greaseproof paper. In an electric mixer, mix the eggs with the sugar very fast for about 10 minutes; it should triple in volume. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water). Grind the hazelnuts and cocoa together medium-fine; don’t carry on for too long or they will turn oily. Add the coffee and brandy to the chocolate, then mix this concoction into the eggs. Gently mix in the hazelnuts and pour into the tin.

Bake for 40 minutes until dry on the top and not too wobbly beneath.

Madelines St John-style



Based on the excellent recipe from Fergus Henderson. He browns the butter and doesn’t add orange flower water. (They are great that way, too.) I cannot work out what the variable is that gives them a proper Madeleine dimple on the top; sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t. You will need a Madeleine tray.

makes about 24

135g unsalted butter, plus more for the tray

2 tbsp good floral honey

1 tbsp orange flower water

3 large eggs

15g soft brown sugar

110g caster sugar

135g self-raising flour, sifted, plus more for the tray,

Melt the butter with the honey, then pour in the orange flower water and set aside to cool. Whisk the eggs and sugars in an electric mixer for 10 minutes or so, until they are really fluffy. Fold in the flour, then the butter and honey mixture. Pour into a container and leave the batter to rest for at least three hours in the refrigerator (sometimes I leave it overnight and it seems fine). Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Butter a Madeleine tray, then dust with flour and tap off the excess. Fill the moulds two-thirds full, and then bake for 10 minutes or so until golden brown and firm to the touch.




Hot Tips

Gourmet Greystones Event or phone Denise Bevan on 086 8916715

It rare nowadays to see a traditional 3 or 4 tier wedding cake, it’s more likely to be a pyramid of cupcakes or a killer chocolate confection. But it’s funny how fashion goes around in food as in everything else. My daughter recently had the ‘retro’ wedding cake of her dreams complete with happy bride and groom on top and exquisitely iced with delicate royal icing, by Mary Cahill from Gourmet Gateaux and More! 021 496686 or 087 2396758

Taste of Kildare or by calling David Russell at The K Club on (01) 6017200.


Lee Tiernan, head chef at St John Bread and Wine, London

Tel: 087 287 8215 will be giving another demonstration at Donnybrook Fair Cookery School – a simple, delicious no nonsense approach to cooking with pigs’ ears, tails, trotters and heads! Friday 20th August 2010 at 7:30 to 9:30pm €35.00. Contact Carmel McWilliams starts on Monday 16th August and is set in the Victorian walled garden of the K Club – join in the week long celebration of local flavours. Food & Craft Festival is on Sunday 22nd of August from 12 noon until 5pm. More details on the day are available through the Taste Kildare website on Sunday 5th September 2010 celebrates the restaurants, cafes and gourmet food shops in the award winning coastal town of Greystones, Co Wicklow. For more information contact

How the British Fell in Love with Food

The British Guild of Food Writers was founded on April 12th 1984 when a small group of food writers met over a superb lunch, amongst them Jane Grigson, Elizabeth David, Arabella Boxer and Michael Smith. The purpose was to start an association of Britain’s culinary scribes. 25 years later there are almost 400 members who include some of the most influential voices in food writing and broadcasting. To celebrate a quarter of a century the British Guild of Food Writers has published ‘How the British Fell in Love with Food’. It’s a fascinating historical record from the arrival of avocado in our supermarkets in 1970s to the food blogs of the 21st century. It’s a fascinating read and includes some superb examples of creative food writing as well as some delicious recipes, here are a few to whet your appetite.


Harold Wilshaw’s Avocado Salad

Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book – Michael Joseph

There is no need to restrict this salad to Summer. It works well with frozen broad beans.

1 ripe avocado

lemon juice

olive oil

salt, pepper

250 g (8 oz) shelled broad beans

soured cream

chopped parsley

Peel and dice the avocado, sprinkling it immediately with lemon juice, oil and seasoning. Cook the beans, and then skin them – this is essential. Arrange beans and avocado on a plate, preferably a bright pink plate to show off the different greens. Pour over a little soured cream and sprinkle with parsley.

Jill Norman’s Ceviche

The Complete Book of Spices – Dorling Kindersley

In this Mexican hors d’oeuvre, the fish is tenderized by marinating in lemon juice for several hours.

Serves 4

175 g (6 oz) salmon

175 g (6 oz) brill or turbot

175 g (6 oz) cod fillet

juice of 2–3 lemons

1–2 fresh green chillies, seeded and finely chopped

1 small mild onion, chopped

1/2 avocado, peeled, stoned and cubed

2 tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

125 ml (4 fl oz) olive oil

handful of coriander leaves, chopped

salt and pepper

Remove any skin or bones from the fish and cut the flesh into small cubes. Put the cubes into a dish with the lemon juice, turn to coat all the fish and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 5 hours. Drain the lemon juice from the fish and combine with the chopped vegetables, olive oil and coriander. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour over the fish in a serving dish. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Peter Gordon’s Grilled Scallops with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Crème Fraîche

The Sugar Club Cookbook – Hodder and Stoughton

Peter Gordon first put this on his menu in July 1995 and it has only come off when storms prevented divers collecting scallops. The chilli sauce recipe makes more than you need, so keep the surplus in the fridge for other dishes.

Serves 4

12 large diver-caught scallops, trimmed

sesame oil

salt and pepper

watercress leaves

½ cup creme fraiche

Sweet Chilli Sauce

10 cloves of garlic, peeled

4 large red chillies, stems removed

3 thumbs of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 thumb of galangal, peeled and roughly chopped

8 lime leaves

3 lemon-grass stems, remove the two outside leaves, discard the top third of the stem and finely slice the remainder

1 cup fresh coriander leaves

11/2 cups unrefined golden caster sugar

100 ml (5 fl oz) cider vinegar

50 ml (31/2 fl oz) Asian fish sauce

50 ml (13/4 fl oz) tamari

Put the first seven ingredients of the chilli sauce in a food processer and

puree to a coarse paste.

Put the sugar in a saucepan with 4 tablespoons of water and place on

a moderate heat, stirring well until the sugar dissolves. When it has, remove the spoon and turn the heat up to full. Boil for 5–8 minutes and do not stir until it has turned a dark caramel colour (but don’t allow it to burn). Now stir in the paste, bring the sauce back to the boil and add the last three ingredients. Return to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Leave it to cool before eating. Lightly oil the scallops with sesame oil and season, then grill each side on a char-grill, overhead grill or skillet for 90 seconds. Sit them on a bed of watercress, put a dollop of crème fraiche on top and drizzle generously with sweet chilli sauce.


Anna Del Conte’s Tagliatelle al Limone

Gastronomy of Italy – Bantam Press

“For me the lemon tree is the most beautiful tree there is, magical in the way that it can produce both flowers and fruit at any time of the year. The flowers known as zagara have a pungent yet delicate fragrance; they contain essential oils used in the production of eau-de-Cologne.”

Serves 4

tagliatelle made with 200 g (7 oz) Italian 00 flour and 2 free-range eggs,








500 g (1lb 2oz) fresh tagliatelle,


250 g

(8 oz) dried egg tagliatelle

40 g (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter

grated rind and juice of 1 organic lemon

3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and chives

150 ml (1/4 pt) double cream

salt and freshly ground black pepper

40 g (1 1/2 oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan. Add the grated lemon rind, the chopped herbs, cream, salt and pepper. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Add the lemon juice to the pan and bring back to the boil, then take the pan off the heat and keep warm. Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain but do not over-drain, and then transfer to a warmed bowl. Dress immediately the pasta with the sauce and a sprinkling of

Parmesan. Toss very well and serve at once with the remaining cheese separately.

Colin Spencer’s Rocket and Avocado Sandwich

Colin Spencer’s Vegetable Book – Conran Octopus

“This is my favourite summer sandwich. Rocket and avocado go marvellously

well together, but I confess I like a touch of other flavourings in it as well, as

a kind of background track to the two stars. This amount will make two fairly large and bulky sandwiches, which provide an excellent and satisfying lunch for two people.”

2 tbsp soft goats’ cheese

4 slices of your favourite brown bread, buttered

smear of Marmite, Vegemite or Vecon

about 10 thin cucumber slices

1 ripe avocado, peeled, stoned and sliced

20 or so rocket leaves tiny drop of Tabasco (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Smear the goats’ cheese on the buttered side of 2 slices of the bread and smear the Marmite or whatever on the other 2 slices. Lay the cucumber slices over the cheese, season with pepper, then lay the avocado slices on top of that, followed by the rocket leaves. Season with salt and Tabasco, if using. Then cover with the other pieces of the brown bread. Press the tops gently down and slice the sandwiches in half with great care.


Xanthe Clay’s Pimms Jellies with Orange Cream and Strawberries

It’s Raining Plums – Martin Books

A British summer in a glass, the orange cream balances the alcoholic bite

of the Pimms.

Serves 6

175 ml Pimms

3 sheets gelatine

400 ml lemonade

juice of half a lemon and half a lime

1/2 pint double cream

grated rind of an orange

2 tbsp unrefined golden caster sugar

1/2 lb strawberries and peeled segments of two oranges

mint sprigs and borage flowers

Soak the gelatine in cold water until soft. Heat half the lemonade until

just about boiling, remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. When the gelatine is dissolved, add the Pimms, lemon and lime juice, and the rest of the lemonade. Pour through a sieve into a bowl and refrigerate until set. Lightly whip the cream and stir in the sugar and orange rind. Slice the strawberries. To serve, dollop some jelly in a glass, and top with strawberries and orange segments. Finish with a blob of the orange cream and a long sprig of mint tucked in the side.

Xanthe Clay’s Rosewater Cake, Strawberries and Cream

It’s Raining Plums – Martin Books


This easy cake with its slightly crunchy glaze is lovely by itself for tea, or like

this, piled with strawberries for pudding.

Serves 8–10

6 oz (170 g) butter

6 oz (170 g) unrefined

golden caster sugar

3 eggs

1/2 lb (225 g) self raising flour

6 tbsp rosewater

1/2 lb (225 g) icing sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/4 lb (600g) or so strawberries, sliced in half if large

300 ml double cream, whipped until softly billowing

Pre-heat the oven to 180.C (350.F, Gas 4) Grease and base line an 8 x 10 in ( 20 x 25 cm) cake tin. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, then beat in the eggs one by one. Mix in the flour, then 4 tbsp rosewater. Turn into the tin, spread out and bake for 35–40minutes. Leave in the tin while you mix the icing sugar, remaining rosewater and lemon juice to make a glaze. Prick the still warm cake all over with a fork and pour over the glaze. Remove from the tin when cold and cut into squares or fingers. Serve the cake with strawberries and cream, or for a more dramatic effect, stack the pieces in a pyramid, dollop on a little of the cream and tumble over the strawberries. Scatter with rose petals, either fresh from unsprayed, garden roses, or crystallized, and serve with the rest of the cream.



Wild Food

If you are lucky enough to have a glut of mackerel this recipe is perfect.

Soused Sprats, Herrings or Mackerel with Tomatoes and Mustard Seed

The fish will keep refrigerated for up to one month.

Serves 4

4 fresh mackerel or herrings or 12-16 sprats

150ml (5fl oz) white wine vinegar

150ml (5fl oz) dry white wine

62g (2 1/2oz) thinly sliced onion

225g (8oz) ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced

2 sprigs of fennel

2 small bay leaves

1 teaspoon white mustard seed

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

Pour the vinegar and white wine into a stainless steel saucepan, add the sliced onion and tomatoes, herbs, mustard seed and seasoning. Bring to the boil and reduce by half. Meanwhile gut and fillet the fish. Roll the fish fillets or lay flat in a casserole or sauté pan. Pour the pickle over the top. Cover and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 4-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Serve chilled.


How the British Fell in Love with Food Durrus Fete

Contact Canon Paul Willoughby for details – phone: 027 61011 –


O’Brien Chop House in Lismore

Green Saffron & the Dungarvan Brewing Company are having a “Beer and Curry Feast” on Friday, 27 August, 2010 at 7:30pm. Chop House Chef, Eddie Baguio, and Arun Kapil have created a delicious authentic curry feast using Green Saffron’s Indian spices as well as local produce such as Michael McGrath’s lamb, Dan Aherne’s organic chicken, hand-reared Ballyvolane House saddleback pork, and potatoes and vegetables from Ballyvolane’s walled garden. The Dungarvan Brewing Company’s Head Brewer, Cormac O’Dwyer, will showcase each of his craft beers which will compliment the curries perfectly. To book contact + 353 58 53810 and in association with is on Wednesday 11th August this year and takes place in the gardens of the Durrus Rectory. the Fete has three distinct places to eat – a garden lunch with all produce from the local area, a barbecue with locally sourced meat and afternoon tea. Elizabeth Warner and her team will run a fabulous cake stall showcasing the most vivid taste of West Cork in the form of local baking. All the proceeds from this fete go to supporting local and international charities. is published by Simon & Schuster and can be purchased at

The Art of Jam Making

While there are lots of delicious Irish currants and berries around, let’s have a ‘jam-session’. Even if you’ve never made a pot of jam in your life, I promise if you follow these few basic rules you’ll manage to turn out batch after batch of fresh tasting jam better than virtually anything you can buy. The secret as ever is to use beautiful fresh fruit and make it in small quantities – then every batch will be perfect.

For quite a long time there seems to be a kind of belief that if fruit is not quite good enough for serving fresh, it’s fine for jam. The fact is that mouldy fruit makes mouldy jam!

Before rural electrification the soft fruit season from mid June to September was a pretty hectic time for the dedicated housewife who wanted to have her shelves packed with jams and preserves for the Winter, now everything has changed.

If you don’t want to spend your whole summer in the kitchen, the most practical approach is freeze the fruit in perfect condition in small measured quantities so that you can make jam as you need it through the year. Jam made from frozen fruit will taste infinitely fresher and more delicious than a 6 or 7 month old jam made in peak season.

Guideline Rules for Successful Jam-Making – even if you are a complete novice

For really good jam, the fruit must be freshly picked, dry and unblemished

If the fruit is picked slightly under ripe, it will have more pectin and so the jam will set better.

Jam made from fruit that was wet when picked is more likely to go mouldy within in a short time.

The best jam is made in small quantities – eg. no more than 3lbs of raspberries at a time, perhaps 4lbs of strawberries with ¼ pint of redcurrant juice to help the set. Small quantities cook in a few minutes, so both the colour and the flavour of the jam will be perfect.

Ideally one should use a preserving pan for jam-making. Choose your widest stainless steel pan with a heavy base and sides at least 9 inch deep. It goes without saying that the depth of the contents in the preserving pan and the rate at which they boil, determine how long the jam needs to cook.

Sugar is the preservative in jams, so it is important to use the correct proportion – too little and the jam may ferment, too much may cause crystallization.

Citrus fruit peel, blackcurrants, gooseberries etc. must be thoroughly softened before sugar is added to the jam, otherwise they will toughen and no amount of boiling will soften them, as sugar has a hardening effect on skin and peel.

Stir well to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved before the jam comes to the boil, (otherwise the jam will crystallize on top). For this reason it is better to add heated sugar, which dissolves more quickly and stir with a wooden spoon until the “gritty feeling” disappears.

Fruit should be simmered until the sugar is added, but from then on, it is best to boil as fast as possible until setting point is reached.

If necessary skim near to the end of cooking. If there is only a little scum, dissolve with a tiny lump of butter stirred in after the jam has reached setting point.

How Do I Know if the Jam is Cooked?

Test for setting frequently so that the jam doesn’t overcook – it will set when the temperature reaches 220°C on a sugar thermometer, a handy but expensive bit of kitchen equipment that you can live without. Alternatively put a teaspoonful of jam on a cold plate, leave in a cool place for a few minutes, if the jam wrinkles when pushed with the tip of your finger it has reached setting point. Skim if necessary and pot immediately.

How Do I Store the Jam?

Wash, rinse and dry the jam jars (remove any traces of old labels or any traces of glue if recycling, sometimes pretty tricky but methalated spirit will usually do the job. Jars should then be put into a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 1/2. Lids may also be sterilised in the oven – 5 minutes is fine. Fill the pots to the top to allow for shrinkage on cooling (use a jam funnel, to avoid drips) cover immediately with sterilised screw top lids if available or jam covers.

Covering Jam Jars.

One can buy packets of jam covers in most shops or supermarkets. These are made up of three elements, a silicone disc of paper, a large round of cellophane and a rubber band.

When the jam has reached setting point, pour into sterilised jars. Cover immediately with silicone discs (slippy side down onto the jam). Wet one side of the cellophane paper, then stretch it over the jar, and secure with a rubber band. If the cellophane disc is not moistened it will not become taut when the jam gets cold.

Later the jars can be covered with doyleys or rounds of material or coloured paper. These covers can be secured with rubber bands plain or coloured, narrow florists ribbons tied into bows or ordinary ribbon with perhaps little dried flowers or herbs.

Really delicious jams are always a welcome present and are also very eagerly sought after by local shops and delicatessens.

Remember if you are selling your jams to cost it properly, taking jars, covers, labels, food cost, heat, etc., into consideration. A formula used by many is food cost x 3. This would cover all the other items mentioned. If you are producing jam for sale you must contact the health authorities and comply with their regulations.

Note on Pectin

Pectin is the substance in fruit which sets jam. It is contained in the cell walls of fruit in varying degrees. It is higher when the fruit is under ripe. Acid e.g. lemon juice helps in the extraction of pectin. Some fruits are higher in pectin than others e.g. plums, damsons, gooseberries, blackcurrants and apples, while others contain little or none, e.g. marrow, blackberries. In these cases, it is necessary to add acid in the form of lemon juice or commercial pectin.

Raspberry, Boysenberry, Tayberry or Loganberry Jam

If you’ve never made jam before, this is a good place to start. Raspberry jam is the easiest and quickest of all jams to make, and one of the most delicious. Loganberries, boysenberries or tayberries may also be used in this recipe, too. Because it uses equal amounts of sugar and fruit, you don’t necessarily need as much as the recipe calls for. Sometimes when I’m trying to take the mystery out of jam-making for students, I put some scones into the oven, then make jam, and by the time the scones are out of the oven, the jam is made. It’s that easy!

Makes 3 x 450g (1lb) pots

900g (2lb) fresh or frozen berries

900g (2lb) white sugar; use 125g (4oz) less if the fruit is very sweet

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3.

Wash, dry and sterilise the jars in the oven for 15 minutes. Heat the sugar in a stainless-steel or Pyrex bowl in an oven at 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3 for about 15 minutes. When the sugar is hot, put the berries into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Mash them a little and cook for 3-4 minutes over a medium heat until the juice begins to run, then add the hot sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and cook steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently (frozen berries will take 6 minutes). Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate and leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. Press the jam with your index finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it is set. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.Keep the jam in a cool place or put on a shelf in your kitchen so you can feel great every time you look at it! Anyway, it will be so delicious it won’t last long!

Strawberry and Redcurrant Jam

Makes 7 lbs (3.2kg) approx.

4 lbs (1.8kg) strawberries

4 ¼ lbs (1.9kg) sugar

5 fl oz (150ml) redcurrant juice or if unavailable the juice of 2 lemons

First prepare the fruit juice using about 1 lb (450g) fruit to obtain 5fl oz (150ml) of juice. Put the strawberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan, use a potato masher to crush about three quarters of the berries, leave the rest intact in the juice. Bring to the boil and cook the crushed strawberries in the juice for about 2 or 3 minutes. Heat the sugar and add to the fruit, stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until it reaches a set, skim. Pot immediately into hot sterilized jars, cover and store in a cool dry cupboard.




Blueberry and Lemon Verbena Jam

If lemon verbena is not available, include the rind of the lemons instead.

Makes 5 x 375g (13oz) jars

1kg (21/2lb) firm blueberries

juice of 2 lemons

a large handful (about 50) lemon verbena leaves, roughly chopped

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

Pick over the blueberries and discard any that are bruised. Put the blueberries in a wide, low-sided saucepan or preserving pan. Add the lemon juice, chopped lemon verbena leaves and 300ml (1/2 pint) of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add the warmed sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil until a setting point is reached. Fill the jam into sterilised jars, cover and store in a cool, dry place.



Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

There is just about time to make rhubarb and ginger jam before rhubarb comes to the end of its season.

This delicious jam should be made when rhubarb is in full season and is not yet thick and tough. I feel it’s so worth planting a few stools of rhubarb – it’s easy to grow and loves rich, fertile soil and lots of farmyard manure and will emerge every year for ever and ever if you feed it well.

Makes 8 x 450g (1lb) jars

1.8kg (4lb) rhubarb, trimmed

1.8kg (4lb) granulated sugar

grated zest and juice of 2 organic lemons

50g (2oz) fresh ginger, bruised and tied in muslin

50g (2oz) chopped crystallised ginger or stem ginger preserved in syrup (optional)

Wipe the rhubarb and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Put it into a large, stainless-steel or Pyrex bowl layered with the sugar. Add the lemon zest and juice and leave to stand overnight.

Next day, put the mixture into a preserving pan, add the bruised ginger. Bring to the boil until it is a thick pulp, about 30–45 minutes, and test for a set. Remove the bag of ginger and then pour the jam into hot, sterilised jars. Cover and store in a cool, airy cupboard.

If you like, 50g (2oz) of chopped, crystallised ginger or preserved stem ginger can be added at the end.


Whitecurrant Jelly

Most jellies are dripped overnight but this is a happy exception. It only takes eight minutes to reach setting point and you can use the pulp as well, so you get twice the return on your currants. The leftover pulp can be used as a filling for a tart or as the basis of a whitecurrant sauce. Just add a little more water and perhaps a dash of kirsch or brandy. Then it can be served either with ice cream or lamb.

This recipe also works brilliantly with redcurrants, a wonderfully versatile product and a must-have in the pastry section of any restaurant kitchen as invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts. You’ll also find it indispensable in your larder. Both white and redcurrant jelly make a delicious accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon and ham.

Whitecurrant jelly is particularly delicious with cream cheese as a dessert or a fresh goat cheese.

Whtecurrants will be difficult to find unless you have your own bush order 2 or 3 now to plant between now and Autumn.

Makes 6 x 225g (8oz) jars

900g (2lb) whitecurrants

900g (2lb) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the currants and sugar into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan. Heat and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Then boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully. Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through – do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp. Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Cover and store in a cool, dry place. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Blackcurrant Jam

The stalks can be removed from fresh blackcurrants with fingers or a fork. Frozen blackcurrants may also be used, but the jam will take longer to cook. Blackcurrants freeze well, but don’t bother to remove the strings before hand; when they are frozen, just shake the bag – the strings will detach and are easy to pick out.

Makes 11-12 x 370g 13oz) jars

1.8kg (4lb) fresh or frozen blackcurrants

2.25kg (5lb) white granulated sugar

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

Remove the stalks from the blackcurrants and put the fruit into a greased preserving pan. Add 1.2 litres (2 pints) of water bring to the boil and cook until the fruit begins to burst – about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the sugar into a stainless-steel bowl and heat for about 10 minutes in the oven. It is vital that the fruit is soft before the sugar is added; otherwise the blackcurrants will taste hard and tough in the finished jam. Add the heated sugar and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Boil briskly for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Skim, test and pot into sterilised jars. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.


A jam funnel

Glebe Gardens and Café in Baltimore 028-20232

West Cork recently opened up a little farm shop that sells homemade jams, salad dressings, freshly baked bread and scones, organic vegetables fresh from the garden… As well as their excellent lunch and dinner they also serve a really good breakfast. They use ingredients from their plentiful garden and fish fresh from the boats in Baltimore, for their small and deliciously fresh menu. is a brilliant little gadget to help you to fill the jam jars without getting yourself and everyone else covered with jam – available from good kitchen shops nationwide as are jam thermometers – the latter is a good investment but not essential.Screw top lids should be sterilized in boiling water before use.

Summer Berries

Strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, tay berries and now lots of black, red and white currants. A few weeks ago we feasted on green gooseberry and elderflower tarts, compotes and fools. The gooseberries that survived will be left on the bushes to ripen. When they are plump and full of sweet juice we’ll enjoy them as dessert gooseberries – no cooking required, just pop a bowlful on the table and enjoy. If you haven’t already got a few gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes in your garden, order them now to plant between now and the autumn. One can buy strawberries and raspberries, even redcurrants ad nauseum year round but unless you have a good Farmer’s Market close to you, gooseberries and blackcurrants are virtually impossible to find in the shops.

A red currant bush or two is also worth considering – they make a divine jelly and their bitter sweet flavour and high pectin content make a delicious and valuable addition to jams and fruit salad. They too are loaded with vitamin C. All the currants freeze brilliantly, don’t bother to string them, just weigh them into manageable kilogram lots and freeze. The strings will fall off when you shake the bag of frozen berries just before you use them – I discovered that trick years ago when I was too busy to string the fruit before freezing, so I decided to throw them in and worry about the strings later.

If you are stringing the fresh currants a fork is useful and children find it brilliant fun and may even nibble some of the vitamin rich fruit.

Fresh blackcurrants make a delicious cordial that can be diluted like the well known brand and of course stored for the winter. They also make irresistibly funky blackcurrant ice pops which you’ll find the ‘grown ups’ will want to steal from the children.

Strings of black, red or white currants are also easy to frost and look delicious on a cake or dessert. The sugary coating makes them irresistible to nibble – if you can hide them they’ll keep for several days in a dry place.

Next week I’ll devote my entire article to jam-making in response to readers request but this week a few delicious puddings to make the most of the Summer berries and currants.


Gooseberry Nectar

I love to make cordials and homemade ‘lemonades’ from Summer fruits.

Makes 20 glasses (approximately) or 2 pints 5oz (45fl oz)

900g (2lbs) gooseberries

450g (1lb) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

2 – 3 elderflower blossoms

ice cubes

Put the elderflowers into a piece of muslin and tie into a bag. Simmer the fruit until well burst and very soft. Remove the elderflower bag and squeeze into the compote to extract every last drop. Pour the stewed gooseberries into a nylon sieve, press as much as possible through with the back of a ladle or a tablespoon. Allow to cool then chill well.

Serve in chilled glasses with lots of ice, add prosecco to taste or sparkling water for a little fizz in your life.


Gooseberry, Elderflower and Strawberry Compote

Serves 8

The combination of gooseberries and strawberries is surprisingly delicious. Their seasons just overlap nicely.

the remaining gooseberry pulp may be served with yoghurt for breakfast, delicious. 



900g (2lb) green gooseberries, topped and tailed

2 or 3 elderflower heads

600ml (1 pint) cold water

450g (1lb) sugar

450g (1lb) ripe Irish strawberries

 Make the compote as in the Gooseberry Nectar recipe, cook until they just burst. Remove the bag of elderflowers. Pour the gooseberry compote into a bowl. Allow to cool completely. Add the sliced strawberries, stir gently and serve with softly whipped cream.


A fan oven works really well for meringues but don’t forget to reduce the temperature by 10-20% depending on your brand of oven.

Serves 10




4 organic egg whites

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

600ml (1 pint) chilled whipped cream

2 – 3 teaspoons rose blossom water

450g (1lb) fresh, fresh raspberries

To Decorate

organic rose petals

fresh mint leaves or sweet cicely leaves

Silicone paper

First make the meringue. Cover two baking sheets with silicone paper. Otherwise grease and flour the sheet very carefully. Draw two 25.5 cm (10 inch) circles on the silicone paper with a pencil.

Put the egg whites and all the sieved icing sugar into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks. This can take 8-10 minutes in an electric mixer. Alternatively you can whisk it by hand but it takes quite a long time, so if you even have a hand-held mixer it will speed up matters a lot. Divide the meringue mixture between the two circles on the silicone paper and spread with a palette knife into two even discs.

Bake in a low oven 150°C/300ºF/regulo 2 for 45 minutes or until the meringue discs will lift easily off the paper. Turn off the oven and allow them to cool in the oven if possible.

To Serve:


Strawberries with Fresh Mint Leaves

One of our favourite ways to eat strawberries and good way to perk up less than perfect berries.

Serves 8-10

900g (2lb) ripe strawberries

2-3 tablespoons castor sugar

freshly squeezed lemon juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon

2-3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn or shredded

Just before serving hull the strawberries and cut into quarters or slice lengthwise. Sprinkle with caster sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Scatter with torn mint leaves. Toss gently, taste, adjust with a little more sugar or freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary. Serve alone or with softly whipped cream.



Left over blackcurrant fool may be frozen – it makes a delicious ice cream. Serve with blackcurrant coulis made by thinning the blackcurrant puree with a little more water or syrup.

Wild Food

Marsh Samphire or Glasswort (Salicornia Europaea)

For just about a month one can gather marsh samphire, they look like little succulent cacti without the prickles. Catch them in your fingers and eat them one by one scraping them against your teeth to detach the flesh from the inner spine. If you can’t gather it yourself, look out for it at local farmers markets such as Kinsale, Mahon Point and Midleton. Or contact Michelle Breen on (086)3458710.

Serves 8 as an accompaniment

225g (8oz) samphire

freshly ground pepper

25–50g (1–2oz) butter

Cover the samphire with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 5–6 minutes or until tender. Drain off the water, season with freshly ground pepper and toss in butter – no salt because samphire has a natural salty tang.

Serve with fish or just have a little feast on toast with Hollandaise sauce.


Thrifty Tip

Freeze summer fruits in small individual portions for a taste of Summer in the Winter, delicious with yogurt for breakfast.


Ladurée Macaroons

were only available in Paris up to relatively recently; these psychedelic macaroons are now taking Dublin by storm and are available in Brown Thomas, Grafton Street (why not in Cork?) They sell for €1.60 each and are fast becoming the new cupcakes, the ‘must bring’ pressie for the hostess with the mostest. Like all ‘new’ ideas, it doesn’t take long before someone enterprising starts to experiment. The most delicious Irish macaroons I’ve tasted are made by Iseult Janssens from the Cake Stand in Newcastle, Co Dublin – 0860407676

– 086 8141133.



Meringue with Raspberries and Rosewater Cream

Blackcurrant Fool



Serves 10 approx.

340g (¾ lb) fresh or frozen blackcurrants

425ml (15fl oz) Stock syrup (see recipe)

Whipped cream

Cover the blackcurrants with stock syrup. Bring to the boil and cook until the fruit bursts about 4-5 minutes. Liquidise and sieve or puree the fruit and syrup and measure. When the puree has cooled, add up to equal quantity of softly whipped cream, according to taste.

The fool should not be very stiff, more like the texture of softly whipped cream. If it is too stiff stir in a little milk rather than more cream.

Alternative presentation chose tall sundae glasses. Put 50ml (2floz) of blackcurrant puree into the base of the glass, top with a layer of softly whipped cream, another layer of blackcurrant puree and finally a little more cream. Drizzle a little thin puree over the top, serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.

Blackcurrant Ice Cream with Blackcurrant Coulis

Add rose blossom water to the cream to taste. Put a disc of meringue onto a serving plate. Spread with a layer of the softly whipped rosewater cream. Save some to decorate the top. Sprinkle with a generous layer of fresh raspberries (keep a few for decoration). Top with the second meringue disc. Whip the remainder of the cream stiffly and use to decorate the top with raspberries and fresh mint or sweet cicely leaves. Scatter some fresh rose petals over the top.

Blackcurrant Coulis

225 g (8ozs) blackcurrants

225ml (8fl oz) stock syrup

120 – 150ml (4 – 5fl oz) water (see below)

Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst. Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve. Allow to cool. Add 4-5 fl oz (120-150 ml) water. Store in a fridge.

Blackcurrant coulis keeps for weeks and freezes very well.


Stock Syrup

175g (6 oz) sugar

125g (4 ½ oz) water

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

Blackcurrant Ice Pops

Makes 12 ice pops

Fill the blackcurrant coulis mixture into ice pop moulds freeze and enjoy.

Red Currant Jelly




Red currant jelly is a very delicious and versatile product to have in your larder. It has a myriad of uses. It can be used like a jam on bread or scones, or served as an accompaniment to roast lamb, bacon or ham. It is also good with some rough pâtés and game, and is invaluable as a glaze for red fruit tarts.

This recipe is a particular favourite of mine, not only because it’s fast to make and results in delicious intensely flavoured jelly, but because one can use the left over pulp to make a fruit tart, so one gets double value from the red currants. Unlike most other fruit jelly, no water is needed in this recipe.

We’ve used frozen fruits for this recipe also, stir over the heat until the sugar dissolves, proceeds as below.

Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) jars

2 lbs (900g) red currants

2 lbs (900g) granulated sugar

Remove the strings from the red currants either by hand or with a fork. Put the red currants and sugar into a wide stainless steel saucepan and stir continuously until they come to the boil. Boil for exactly 8 minutes, stirring only if they appear to be sticking to the bottom. Skim carefully.

Turn into a nylon sieve and allow to drip through, do not push the pulp through or the jelly will be cloudy. You can stir in gently once or twice just to free the bottom of the sieve of pulp.

Pour the jelly into sterilised pots immediately. Red currants are very high in pectin so the jelly will begin to set just as soon as it begins to cool.

Rustic Peach Tart with Summer Berries

Serves 6-8


8 ozs (225 g) plain white flour

1 tablespoon castor sugar

4 ozs (110 g), cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

cold water or cream to mix


3-4 ozs (75-110g) sugar

1 tablespoon corn flour

4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick

4 ozs (110g) blueberries

4 ozs (110g) raspberries

Castor sugar for sprinkling, about 1 tablespoon

1 x 9 inch (23cm) pie plate or tart tin.

First make the pastry, put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the cold butter. When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add just enough water or cream to bind. Knead lightly to get the mixture to come together. Cover with wax or silicone paper and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 14 inch (35cm) round approximately. Transfer to a 9 inch (23cm) greased plate or baking sheet.

Just before filling the tart.

Mix the sugar with the corn flour. Toss in the sliced peaches and blueberries. Stir gently. Add the raspberries, but don’t stir. Pour the fruit and the juices into the chilled tart shell and distribute evenly. Fold the overhanging edge to cover the outer portion of the filling, leaving a 5 inch (12.5cm) opening of exposed fruit in the centre of the tart. Brush the pastry with cream, sprinkle with a little sugar.

Bake the tart in a preheated oven 220°C/427°F/Gas Mark 7 for 8-10 minutes, lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 30 to35 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream.

Frosted Red, White or Blackcurrants

So pretty to nibble on, use to decorate cakes and desserts.

Take about 12 perfect bunches of red/white or blackcurrants attached to the stem. Whisk one egg white in a bowl until broken up and slightly fluffy. Spread 115g/4ozs castor sugar onto a flat plate. Dip a bunch of redcurrants in the egg white, ensure that every berry has been lightly coated, and drain very well.

Lay on the castor sugar and sprinkle castor sugar over the top. Check that the entire surface of every berry is covered.

Arrange carefully on a tray covered with silicone paper and put into a dry airy place. until crisp and frosted.


Rock or Marsh Samphire with Melted Butter

 Serve alone on toast or with fish dishes.

The Art of Preserving

All over the country people are rediscovering the joy of growing their own vegetables, a little soft fruit, an apple tree or even a few fresh herbs. It’s not just about the economics; there is the sheer thrill of digging your own potatoes, carrots or beets and it is certainly is a thrill having waited patiently for 4 to 5 months for them to grow.

In spring, it’s difficult not to get swayed by the shiny seed packets and few of us can resist planting more than we need or can share with our neighbours and friends.

So those of us who succumb will know the effort that goes into the growing, weeding, harvesting and then dealing with the inevitable gluts. But let’s look on a glut as a bonus, an opportunity to relearn the almost forgotten skill of preserving. In earlier times when there were no freezers it was an essential survival skill. Now we can utilise all the labour saving mod cons like food processors, blenders and slicers to help us prepare the food.

When I was little in the days before electrification, a glut in the garden provoked a frenzy of activity; Mummy was determined to save every scrap of the precious crop. There was a great sense of urgency as it was the only opportunity people had to lay down a store for the winter months. Preserving was acutely important in the rhythm of the year. During my childhood waste was not an option – food was too precious and scarce to be thrown away. Since the advent of electricity, most households have freezers and surplus food can easily be frozen, so the reasons for preserving have changed. Recently I’ve seen a huge revival of interest and creativity as people experiment, combining old and new techniques and flavours. Chefs who just a few years ago wouldn’t have been ‘seen dead’ jam making and who regarded preserving merely as the domain of grannies are now proudly offering their own chutneys and pickles at their restaurants as an integral part of their food style.

I love the smell of jams and chutneys bubbling on the Aga. You can’t help feeling a glow of satisfaction every time you look into a well-stocked pantry and see your bottles and jam jars lined up on the shelf like ‘good deeds’. It also means you have a ready supply of terrific gifts to take along to a dinner party – much more welcome than a dodgy bottle of wine.

One of the best ways to preserve a glut of French or runner beans is to blanch them quickly in boiling well salted water then drain and refresh under ice cold water, drain again very well, tray freeze and then freeze in boxes or bags.

When defrosted they can be served in a variety of ways – reheated in boiling water for a minute or two and simply tossed in extra virgin olive oil and some freshly chopped herbs or better still use for Gujarati style French beans a recipe lovely Madhur Jaffrey taught us years ago when she came to the cookery school to teach a guest chef course.


Gujerati Style Green Beans

If you are using frozen beans, just re-heat in boiling salted water, drain and proceed as in recipe below.

Serves 4

1 lb (450g) fresh green French beans

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon whole black mustard seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped

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

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

freshly ground black pepper

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

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

Lettuce, Broad Bean and Spring Onion Soup with Chorizo and Mint

A delicious way to cope with a glut of several vegetables. Soups can of-course made in quantity and frozen for Autumn and Winter. Omit the chorizo and mint until serving.

Serves 8

55g (2oz) butter

140g (5oz) spring onion finely sliced – use green and white parts

170g (6oz) potato, peeled and diced

170g (6oz) lettuce: Butterhead, Cos, Little Gem, Oakleaf… finely shredded

250g (9oz) shelled broad beans

20 floz (2 pints/ 1200mls) light chicken or vegetable stock

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

125g (4 ½ oz) chorizo skinned and cut into ¼ inch dice approximately

fresh mint leaves

Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and when it foams add the spring onion, stir and cook over a gentle heat for 3 or 4 minutes until nice and soft. Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil, add to the saucepan with the broadbeans, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring back to the boil for 2 minutes, add the shredded lettuces, stir well, continue to boil rapidly for another 3 or 4 minutes, just enough for the lettuce to wilt (Cos and Little Gem will take longer than the Butterhead) add about 15 mint leaves to the soup, puree the soup in batches adding a little more stock or creamy milk if necessary. Taste and correct seasoning. Blanch the remaining broad beans in boiling salted water, drain, refresh under cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, pop them out of their skins and keep aside for a garnish.

To Serve

Heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over a medium heat in a pan, add the chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes until the oil runs and the chorizo begins to crisp. If necessary re-heat the soup (do not cover or it will spoil the colour)

Serve the hot soup plates scatter a few warm broad beans, some chorizo and a few mint leaves over the top of each bowl.

Claudia Roden’s Marinated Courgettes – from The Book of Jewish Food


When you grow courgettes it’s either feast or famine so here’s a recipe to use some up. Claudia cooked these for us and stressed that they should be brown. I like the sweet/ sour, ‘agrodolce’ version best


Serves 6

750g (1 ½lbs) courgette (zucchini)

olive oil

2 or 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

a few sprigs of fresh basil or mint, finely chopped

4 tablespoons wine vinegar or 2 tablespoons wine vinegar and I tablespoon sugar

salt and pepper

Trim the ends of the courgettes and cut in thin slices diagonally. Fry quickly in batches in hot olive oil, turning them over once, until browned all over. Lift out and drain on paper towels

Fry the garlic or leave it raw. Lay the courgette slices in layers, sprinkling each layer with the drained garlic, the basil or mint, the vinegar, salt, and pepper (sugar if using) Leave to marinate a few hours before serving cold. It keeps very well for a week or more.




We also have a glut of basil at present so we’re making lots of pesto and basil oil. Homemade Pesto takes minutes to make and tastes a million times better than most of what you buy.


Serve with pasta, goat cheese, tomato and mozzarella.


4ozs (115g) fresh basil leaves

6 – 8 fl ozs (175 – 250ml) extra virgin olive oil

1 oz (25g) fresh pine kernels (taste when you buy to make sure they are not rancid)

2 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 ozs (50g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiana Reggiano is best)

salt to taste


Whizz the basil with the olive oil, pine kernels and garlic in a food processor or pound in a pestle and mortar. Remove to a bowl and fold in the finely grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season.


Pesto keeps for weeks, covered with a layer of olive oil in a jar in the fridge. It also freezes well but for best results don’t add the grated Parmesan until it has defrosted. Freeze in small jars for convenience.

Basil Oil

Basil may be used either to flavour the oil or the oil may be used to preserve the basil, depending on the quantity used. If using a large quantity of basil, you can preserve it in a jar with enough olive oil to completely cover it for up to three months. Basil oil may be used in salad dressings, vegetable stews, pasta sauces or many other instances

extra virgin olive oil

fresh organic basil leaves

Ensure the basil leaves are clean and dry. Pour a little of the olive oil from the bottle and stuff at least 8–10 basil leaves into the bottle, or more if you like. The basil must be covered by at least 1cm (1⁄2in) of oil. Seal and store in a cold place. We sometimes fill bottles three quarters full and then chill them. When the oil solidifies somewhat, we top it up with another layer of oil. If the basil is not submerged in the oil, it will become mouldy in a relatively short period of time.

Beetroot Chutney

Delicious with cold meats and cheese.

Makes 6 x 200ml (7fl oz) jars

900g (2 lbs) raw beetroot, peeled

450g (1 lb) onion, diced

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

25g (1oz) grated ginger

1 teaspoon salt

600ml (1 pint) cider vinegar

350g (12oz) granulated sugar

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

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

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

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


Strawberry Jam


Makes 7lbs (3.2kg) approx


Homemade strawberry jam can be sensational but only if the fruit is a good variety. It’s one of the most difficult jams to make because strawberries are low in pectin, so don’t attempt it if your fruit is not perfect. Redcurrants are well worth searching out for this jam. They are very high in pectin and their bitter-sweet taste greatly enhances the flavour.


4 lbs (1.8kg) unblemished strawberries (El Santa or Rapella if available)

3-4 lbs (1.6-1.8 kg) granulated sugar (not castor or jam sugar)

5 fl ozs (150ml) redcurrant juice (see below) or if unavailable the juice of 2 lemons


First prepare the fruit juice (see below) using about 1 lb (450g) fruit to obtain 5 fl ozs (150ml/1/2 cup) of juice. Put the strawberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan with redcurrant juice. Use a potato masher to crush the berries, leave the rest intact. Bring to the boil and cook the crushed strawberries in the juice for about 2 or 3 minutes. Warm the sugar in a low oven and add to the fruit, stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil for about 10-15 minutes stirring frequently. *Skin, test and pot into sterilized jars, cover and store in a cool dry cupboard.


* This jam sticks and burns very easily so be careful.


Redcurrant Juice


Put 1 lb (450g) redcurrants (they can be fresh or frozen) into a stainless steel saucepan with 6 fl ozs (175ml) of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve. This juice can be frozen for use another time if necessary.


Mummy’s Strawberry Jam

Put the strawberries and lemon juice in a stainless steel saucepan. Cover with sugar. Leave overnight.

Bring the strawberries to the boil; stir until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil until it reaches a set. Pour into sterilized jars, cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark cupboard.

Pickled Peaches

Sometimes in summer you’ll find a tray of inexpensive peaches at the market. When you’ve eaten your fill, try making some pickled peaches, which go well with glazed ham, bacon, duck or goose.

Makes 6 x 370g (13oz) jars

10 peaches or nectarines, sliced into segments (peaches need to be peeled)600ml (1 pint) cold stock syrup1 small stick cinnamon1 chilli, halved and seeded2.5cm (1inch) piece of ginger, sliced

6 cloves

2 slices of lemon

Cook all the above ingredients together in a saucepan for 10 minutes.

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

Put all the ingredients into an oven-proof saucepan. Bring to the boil, cover and put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the chilli, cinnamon and lemon slices. Cool, store in the fridge or fill into sterilised Kilner jars. Seal and store in a cool place.

It will keep for a year but is best used within 2 or 3 months.



The motorway from Cork to Dublin is so seductive that it takes serious will power to make a detour. Recently we revisited Chez Hans in Cashel – I had not been there for far too long. We enjoyed Dover sole and a juicy well aged T Bone steak. The meat comes from Phelan’s butchers in Clonmel. It is terrific to see the second generation following in her father’s footsteps and lovely friendly professional staff. Well worth the detour but you’ll need to book ahead particularly at the weekend.

Moor Lane, Cashel Co. Tipperary. Tel: 062 61177


It was a beautiful balmy Summer evening at Lyons Village for the launch of Clodagh McKenna’s new cookery school, café and kitchen shop recently. Clodagh did the 12 Week Certificate Course at Ballymaloe in January 2000 and started her career in Midleton Farmers Market. Don’t miss her new Farmers Market at the Village of Lyons every Friday 9am to 2pm. The cookery school is in a sublime setting with the beginning of a vegetable garden and orchard close by. Clodagh has a great list of Summer courses with catchy titles like ‘Domestic Honey’ and ‘Baking Angels’ for full course schedule


Cork Butter Museum have exciting news

The National Dairy Council has agreed to sponsor free admission to the Butter Museum every Friday for the months of July, August and September, on ‘Free Friday’ people will have the opportunity to visit this unique museum of Ireland’s signature food. Cork was the biggest butter market in the world in the1700s. The museum has been described by the New York Times as “engaging and multi- faceted”.

O’Connell Square, Shandon, Cork City – 021 430 0600 – www.corkbuttermuseum/


Simply Salads – Barny Haughton

This week lots and lots of salads, just what we all yearn for during this unexpected spell of beautiful weather. Recently chef and cookery teacher Barny Haughton from Bristol came to Ballymaloe Cookery School to do a whole morning on salads.

Barny cooked his first serious meal in St Tropez aged 9, when there was a Saturday market on the harbour side and Bridget Bardot hung out in the Hotel de Paris drinking crème de menthe. He was, for twenty four years a restaurateur/chef in Bristol, and for seven of these, event caterer to HRH The Prince of Wales. He is a member of the Academy of Culinary Arts, chair of judges of the Soil Association’s Organic Food Awards, 2007 winner of the Glennfiddich Food and Drinks Independent Spirit Award for his pioneering work in food training and education in the restaurant industry, a teacher at the University of Gastronomy in Italy, Chef Ambassador to Slow Food UK, and founder of Bordeaux Quay and the Cookery School at Bordeaux Quay in Bristol. He appears regularly at food festivals and conferences giving demonstrations and talks and teaches in Bristol and at other cookery schools and colleges in the UK. He is a consultant on sustainable food systems and ‘eco-gastronomy’ advising businesses, restaurants, schools and community centres and teaches cooking to students, teachers and school cooks. Barny also now runs the Budleigh Farm Project in Somerset with his partner Gaye Donaldson. Budleigh Farm is a 14 acre mixed ‘model’ small-holding, shortly to include a farm shop and cookery school workshops. 00441823421300

Here is a selection of the delicious salads he made for us.


Roast Chicken Salad Sicilian Style

Serves 6 people


1 x 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) organic chicken

a clove of garlic

10 needles rosemary

salt and pepper

a little olive oil

1/2 a lemon

a clove of garlic

2 bay leaves

12 small waxy potatoes, new if in season

a little olive oil

1 bay leaf

1-2 slices of lemon

a good pinch of salt

1 tablespoon sultanas

small bunch parsley leaves

zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon pinenuts

1/2 tablespoon capers



olive oil

red wine vinegar

Balsamic vinegar

Chop the garlic, rosemary to a paste and add salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Rub well into the chicken. Stuff the chicken with half a lemon, a clove of garlic and a couple of bay leaves. Roast in the normal way. Leave to cool and strip the meat off the carcass, removing sinew and any gristly bits. Reserve the chicken carcass for stock

Cut the potatoes into 2cm (3/4 inch) thick slices, place in sauce pan with barely enough water to cover, a splash of olive oil, a bay leaf, a slice or two of lemon and a good pinch of salt. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover with parchment or lid, but leave a little gap so that the steam evaporates and by the time the potatoes are cooked (about 20 mins) there is barely any liquid in the pan. Leave to cool.

Put the potatoes in a bowl with sultanas, parsley, lemon zest, pinenuts and capers and toss together.

Make a dressing of 6 parts olive oil to 1 part red wine vinegar and 1 part balsamic vinegar.

Toss together with other ingredients in bowl. Add generous quantity of dressing and serve.

Lovely with broad beans or peas as well

Smoked Mackerel, Fennel and Orange Salad

Serves 8

1 head fennel

a pinch of salt

1 juicy, sweet orange


a sprig of dill

6 small waxy potatoes, new if in season

1 bay leaf

1 slice of lemon

225ml (8fl oz) water

drizzle of olive oil

4 fillets of smoked mackerel

2 large handfuls watercress


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

To Finish

freshly squeezed lemon juice


Finely slice the fennel long-ways and toss in a pinch of salt. Segment the orange, slice the segments into small pieces, and add to the fennel. Squeeze remaining juice from the orange over the fennel and mix gently together with a little freshly ground black pepper and the chopped dill.

Slice the potatoes long-ways into 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick slices. Put them in a pan with a bay leaf, a slice of lemon, a cup of water and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook gently until the liquor has evaporated. Add a little more water if necessary. Leave to cool.

Take the skin off the mackerel fillets and break them up into bite size pieces.

To assemble the salad: toss the potatoes and fennel together. Dress the watercress with a little vinaigrette, mix gently with the fennel and potatoes and transfer to salad bowl. Scatter the mackerel pieces over this. Finish with a squeeze of lemon

Garden Salad of Raw Vegetables and Herbs

This is a salad of thinly sliced seasonal vegetables. Now it is mid summer and the list of possible ingredients is endless. In the winter you could use turnip or swede of finely shredded black cabbage or sprouts. Cauliflower, broke into tiny florettes is good too. Use asparagus in the asparagus season. Kholrabi works as well. You get the drift.

The vegetables need to be fresh, firm and crunchy. Beware of combining too many different vegetables however tempting it is; four or five is enough, plus some carefully chosen salad leaves and herbs.

Keep the beetroot separate until the last minute so that it doesn’t stain the other vegetables.

A salad for four people will need:

2 courgettes

2 peeled carrots

1 bulb of fennel

4 scrubbed baby beetroot

a handful of fresh podded broad beans and/or peas

a big handful of peppery salad leaves (rocket, watercress, pea-shoots, mustard leaves etc)

a small bunch of mixed fresh herbs: eg mint, basil, tarragon and parsley

Making the dressing

In a big salad bowl, make a dressing with the juice of a lemon and a splash of white wine vinegar mixed with half a teaspoon of salt, to four parts of olive oil. Pour a little of this dressing into a smaller bowl for the beetroot.

Preparing the vegetables

Using a very sharp knife or mandolin, slice the courgettes, carrots and fennel into thin ribbon lengths. Transfer to the big bowl. Slice the beetroot, thin as the petals of a rose and transfer to the smaller bowl. Toss the vegetables in the dressing, then add the leaves and mint and toss gently together. Arrange the beetroot prettily over the top

Chicory, Watercress, Apple and Hazelnut Salad

Serves 8

The dressing for this salad doesn’t need the more robust flavour of olive oil. Groundnut or hazelnut or a mix of both are best, but sunflower will do fine.

Tart/sweet? I mean that the tartness is the first thing I am looking for in the taste.

a handful of whole unblanched hazelnuts

2 bunch watercress

2 bulbs chicory

4 medium sized tart/sweet crisp apples eg Worcester, Orange Pippen


2 tablespoons cider vinegar

pinch of salt

10 tablespoons groundnut oil/hazelnut oil

To Serve

a small bunch of chives cut into inch or so lengths

Maldon sea salt

Toss the hazelnuts in a little oil and a sprinkle of salt and roast in a hot oven until toasty brown. Leave to cool. Break them into coarse pieces with a rolling pin

Make the dressing in a large mixing bowl; mix the vinegar and a pinch of salt along with the groundnut or hazelnut oil into an emulsion.

Remove the more fibrous stalks from the watercress and separate the leaves of chicory. Cut the apples into slim wedges, removing the core with a sharp knife.

Just before serving.

Gently toss the chicory, watercress and apple in the dressing and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle liberally with the broken hazelnuts and chives and a pinch of Maldon sea salt

Serve with baked potatoes or good bread.


Tomato, Cucumber and Chickpea Salad with Harissa

200g (7oz) chickpeas

1 tablespoon harissa (see recipe)

1 red onion, finely diced

1 bulb confit garlic (see recipe)

juice of half a lemon

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

salt and pepper

150g (5oz) cherry tomatoes

1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced

small bunch mint

small bunch coriander

Soak the chickpeas overnight in PLENTY of water.

Cook the chickpeas. Add salt towards the end of cooking. Leave to cool.

Mix the chickpeas with harissa (generous amount). Add finely diced red onion, puréed confit garlic, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

To Serve

Add cherry tomatoes (halved/quartered, depending on size) and peeled and diced cucumber, mint and coriander.

Harissa Oil


Serve with grilled meat, fish and vegetables and in soups

6 chillies, roasted, seeded and peeled

6 tablespoons of tomato purée

8 cloves of garlic crushed

3 teaspoons of ground and roasted cumin seeds

3 teaspoons of ground and roasted coriander

6 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaf

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Put the prepared chillies, tomato purée, garlic and ground spices in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Drizzle in the olive oil and vinegar. Remove and add the fresh coriander. Correct seasoning and add a little more olive oil if necessary.


Confit Garlic


6 fat firm bulbs of garlic

olive oil

salt and pepper

baking foil or parchment paper

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

Cut 4 sufficiently big squares of foil or parchment paper to wrap each bulb. Brush each bulb with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper and wrap them in the foil. Bake them in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until the bulbs are soft and slightly browned. Remove and leave to cool. The cloves can then be easily removed from the bulbs.

To preserve: mash the cloves with a fork until a paste, mix with a little olive oil and salt, put in a lidded jam jar and refridgerate.


Puy Lentil, Spelt Grain, Bean and Vegetable Salad

Main course for 6 people

100g (3 1/2oz) dried puy lentils

4 bay leaves

100g (3 1/2oz) spelt grain

100g (3 1/2oz) dried borlotti or other, soaked in cold water for 24 hours

a little salt and olive oil

1 aubergine

2 red peppers

2 courgettes

salt and pepper

30g (1oz) raisins, soaked until plump but firm

2 cloves garlic

big bunch parsley

75ml (3fl oz) red wine vinegar, soy sauce and olive oil dressing: 1 part vinegar, 1 part soy sauce 3 parts olive oilWash and cook the lentils with a couple of bay leaves and as little water as you can get away with but always enough to cover. When cooked (don’t under cook; they should be firm but absolutely not crunchy). Leave to cool, then drain, reserving the liquor for soup.

Cook the spelt and beans in the same way. Mix them together with a little salt and olive oil

Dice the aubergines, peppers and courgettes into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes and separately season with salt and pepper and fry until they take a good colour but are still a little crunchy.

Fine slice the garlic, fry until nutty brown.

Coarsely chop the parsley, including an tender stalky bits.

Toss everything together with the dressing.

Feta cheese crumbled over this lot is lovely but not necessary.


Summer Fruit Salad with Pea-Shoots and Broad Beans with Ricotta

Serves 4 people

1/4 a cucumber, peeled, halved longways, de-seeded and thinly sliced

a little salt

juice of 1 lemon

500g (18oz) mix of fresh raspberries, strawberries and redcurrants

400g (14oz) broad beans, podded, blanched and peeled

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

a large handful of peashoots or rocket

100g (3 1/2oz) fresh ricotta

a little pepper


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper


Toss the sliced cucumber in a little salt and the lemon juice. Refridgerate for 30 minutes.

Make a dressing with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning.

Drain the sliced cucumber of any water. Gently mix the fruit together with the broad beans and mint.

Arrange the fruit mixture, cucumber, pea-shoots and ricotta on a serving dish anddrizzle with balsamic dressing. Finish with a little black pepper.

Salad Paysanne

Found everywhere in France; sometimes named after the region – La salade de Perigord for instance and meaning peasant salad.. Classic ingredients may include duck confit, duck pate, duck or chicken livers, croutons, bacon, cured duck or goose giblets (heart, gizzard, neck), along with frisee or chicory, parsley and capers. Green beans and walnuts are also often included. The dressing needs to be made with a good red wine vinegar

Serves 6 people

4 slices good bread

olive oil

salt and pepper

2 cooked cured duck legs, torn into small pieces, bones discarded, skin retained

2 big handsful of frisee, washed, dried and torn into fork-size pieces

chives or parsley

a small handful green beans – if in season

1 desertspoon full of drained capers

50g (2oz) lardons or 2 slices streaky bacon cut into strips

100g (3 1/2oz) duck or chicken livers, trimmed


olive oil and or walnut oil

red wine vinegar

To make the croutons: cut 4 thick slices of good stale bread into bite-sized cubes and toss them with olive oil and seasoning in a bowl. Transfer to a baking tray and bake in a medium oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Fry the duck skin gently until crisp and not brown. Break into little pieces

Make the dressing:

5 parts oil, 2 part vinegar; a standard dressing should be 5:1, but you need more vinegar to meet the richness and fat of the meat in this salad.

Put frisee, croutons, crispy duck skin, chives or parsley and capers in a big bowl.

In a hot pan fry the lardons until crispy, then the livers until brown on the outside but pink inside and then the duck just to warm it through, one after the other, and add them all to the bowl.

Dress, toss, eat.




Hot Tips

Denny Lane Gourmet Foods

in Tralee is loosely modelled on the Avoca style where customers queue as they come in the door with most of the menu on display in large serveovers, salads, quiches, sandwiches, desserts and cake stands on the top displaying the biscuits and buns. They cater very well for coeliacs, all their soups and chowder are gluten free and their fish pies.  “Delicious – Gluten Free Bakery” in Ballincollig in Cork supply them with gluten free bread, brownies, carrot cake and apple slices. Check their facebook page where they update our soups and specials daily. Julianne Reen who is a graduate of Ballymaloe Cookery School tries to source most of her produce locally – 066 719 4319 www.dennylanecafe.ieTipperary Food Producers Network


will host their annual ‘Long Table Dinner’ in Tipperary to showcase local produce to encourage people to buy local. The dinner is based on the old Irish long table tradition and this year is the fourth annual dinner. The event takes place on August 25th 2010 around the Festival of Tipperary Food. For further details contact Pat Whelan 0872433100

Splash from the Sea – Cooking with Seawater

Sometimes if I wake up early enough in the morning to catch Farming Today on BBC Radio 4. It’s always interesting and keeps me in touch with the farming scene across the water. Recently I heard an interesting interview with Andy Inglis from Dunbar, Scotland, who had decided to sell Hebridean seawater as a commercial venture, Acquamara Seawater –

Remember when we first heard that some ‘prime boy’ was actually bottling water and selling it. Maybe, you didn’t think it was a daft idea but I certainly did. No doubt many will be jut as sceptical about this and perhaps they are right but if you are fortunate enough to be close to the sea where water is clean and relatively unpolluted make use of this wonderful resource plus the seaweed on the strand. Years ago coastal communities fought pitch battles over seaweed. They knew the value of algae as a fertiliser. Nowadays, scarcely anyone bothers to collect, so if you are one of the new urban farmers or if you’ve been bitten by the vegetable gardening bug, next time you go for a walk on the beach take along a string bag and fill it with seaweed! Our grandfathers knew well the extra ‘blás’ it gave a crop of potatoes. We did a trial this year and then compared the flavour and they were totally right.

But back to the sea water, you can’t imagine how much more delicious many foods are when cooked in sea water – it’s not just about the salt, it’s also about all those extra mineral flavours, traces of iodine…

Try cooking new potatoes in sea water, you’ll be amazed at the difference in flavour, shrimps, prawns, lobster, crabs are all immeasurably better cooked in seawater, even a few fresh mackerel turn into a feast when poached in a marine bath.

Green vegetables, pasta, broccoli, French or runner beans, even the flavour of carrots is greatly enhanced.

In the same radio piece the interviewer asked a local chef for his opinion. The chef displaying an arrogant ignorance dismissed the suggestion as ridiculous – sea water was in his opinion exactly the same as well salted water – well try and see what you think.

Check out to find the location of Blue Flag beaches around our coast.



New Potatoes cooked in Seawater

Serves 4-5

2 lbs (900g) new potatoes e.g., Home Guard, British Queens

2 pints (1.2 litres) seawater or 2 pints (1.2 litres) tap water plus 1 teaspoon salt

a sprig of seaweed if available

Bring the seawater to the boil. Scrub the potatoes. Add salt if using tap water and a sprig of seaweed to the water, and then add the potatoes. Cover the saucepan, bring back to the boil and cook for 15-25 minutes or until fully cooked depending on size.

Drain and serve immediately in a hot serving dish with good Irish butter.


It’s vitally important for flavour to add salt to the water when cooking potatoes.




Salmon Poached in Seawater with Hollandaise SauceMost cookbooks you look up will tell you to poach salmon in a ‘court-bouillon’. This is a mixture of wine and water with perhaps some sliced carrots, onion, peppercorns and a bouquet garni including a bay-leaf, but I’ve found that a beautiful salmon is at its best poached gently in just boiling seawater.


If seawater is not available use 1 rounded tablespoon of salt to every 40 fl ozs (2 pints) of water. Although the fish or piece of fish should be just covered with water, the aim is to use the minimum amount of water to preserve the maximum flavour, so therefore one should use a saucepan that will fit the fish exactly.

Serves 8

1.4 kg (3-3 1/2 lbs) centre-cut of fresh salmon

Seawater or tap water and salt (see above)

Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)


fennel, chervil or parsley

8 segments of lemon

Choose a saucepan which will barely fit the piece of fish: an oval cast-iron saucepan is usually perfect. Half fill with measured sea water, bring to the boil, put in the piece of fish, cover, bring back to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, allow to sit in the water for 5-6 minutes and serve within 15-20 minutes.

If a small piece of fish is cooked in a large saucepan of water, much of the flavour will escape into the water, so for this reason we use the smallest saucepan possible. Needless to say we never poach a salmon cutlet because in that case one has the maximum surface exposed to the water and therefore maximum loss of flavour. A salmon cutlet is best dipped in a little seasoned flour and cooked slowly in a little butter on a pan, or alternatively pan-grilled with a little butter. Serve with a few pats of Maître d’hôtel and a wedge of lemon.


Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4-6, depending on what it is to be served with

Hollandaise is the mother of all the warm emulsion sauces. The version we use here is easy to make and quite delicious with fish. Like Mayonnaise it takes less than 5 minutes to make and transforms any fish into a feast. Once the sauce is made it must be kept warm: the temperature should not go above 70-80C/180F or the sauce will curdle. A thermos flask can provide a simple solution on a small scale; otherwise put the Hollandaise Sauce into a delph or plastic bowl in a saucepan of hot but not simmering water. Hollandaise Sauce cannot be reheated absolutely successfully so it’s best to make just the quantity you need. If however you have a little left over, use it to enrich other sauces or mashed potato.

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range and organic

125 g (5ozs) butter cut into dice

1 dessertspoon cold water

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, approx.

Put the egg yolks in a heavy stainless saucepan on a low heat, or in a bowl over hot water. Add water and whisk thoroughly. Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece. The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally add the lemon juice to taste. If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low. Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.

It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise Sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage. If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand it is also too hot for the sauce.

Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the bottom of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

Keep the sauce warm until service either in a Pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water (do not have gas jet on). A thermos flask is also a good option.

Hollandaise Sauce is best served with poached fish not pan-fried or pan-grilled fish.

Mackerel Poached in Seawater with Bretonne Sauce

Serves 4 as a main course

8 as a starter

Fresh mackerel gently poached and served warm with this simple sauce is an absolute feast without question one of my favourite foods. .

4 fresh mackerel

1.2 litres (40 fl ozs) seawater or 1.2 litres (40fl ozs) water plus 1 teaspoon salt

Bretonne Sauce

55g (2ozs) butter, melted

2 eggs yolks, preferably free range

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (We use Maille Verte Aux Herbs)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped or a mixture of chervil, chives, tarragon and fennel, chopped


Cut the heads off very fresh mackerel. Gut and clean them but keep whole. Bring the seawater to the boil; add the mackerel. Bring back to boiling point, and remove from the heat, keep covered. After about 5-8 minutes, check to see whether the fish are cooked. The flesh should lift off the bone. It will be tender and melting.

Meanwhile make the sauce. Melt the butter and allow to boil. Put the egg yolks into a bowl; add the mustard, wine vinegar and the herbs – mix well. Whisk the hot melted butter into the egg yolk mixture little by little so that the sauce emulsifies. Keep warm, by placing the Pyrex bowl in a saucepan of hot but not boiling water.

When the mackerel is cool enough to handle, remove to a plate. Skin, lift the flesh carefully from the bones and arrange on a serving dish. Coat with the sauce and serve while still warm with a good green salad and new potatoes.


How to Cook Crab

Put the crab/s into a saucepan, cover with cold or barely lukewarm seawater, alternatively (use 6 ozs (175g) salt to every 2.3 litres (4 pints). This sounds like an incredible amount of salt but try it: the crab will taste deliciously sweet. Cover, bring to the boil and then simmer from there on, allowing 15 minutes for first 1 lb (450g), 10 minutes for the second and third (I’ve never come across a crab bigger than that!). We usually pour off two-thirds of the water as soon as it comes to the boil, cover and steam the crab for the remainder of the time. As soon as it is cooked remove it from the saucepan and allow to get cold.

To extract the crab meat from the shell and claws:

First remove the large claws. Hold the crab with the underside uppermost and lever out the centre portion – I do this by catching the little lip of the projecting centre shell against the edge of the table and pressing down firmly. The Dead Man’s Fingers (lungs) usually come out with this central piece, but check in case some are left in the body and if so remove them.

Press your thumb down over the light shell just behind the eyes so that the shell cracks slightly, and then the sac which is underneath can be removed easily and discarded. Everything else inside the body of the crab is edible. The soft meat varies in colour from cream to coffee to dark tan, and towards the end of the season it can contain quite a bit of bright orange coral which is stronger in flavour. Scoop it all out and put it into a bowl. There will also be one or two teaspoonfuls of soft meat in the centre portion attached to the small claws – add that to the bowl also. Scrub the shell and keep it aside if you need it for dressed crab.

Crack the large claws with a hammer or weight and extract every bit of white meat from them, poke out the meat from the small claws also, using a lobster pick, skewer or even the handle of a teaspoon.

Mix the brown and white meat together or use separately, depending on the recipe. Delicious served simply with homemade mayonnaise or make into a crab cakes or use as a filling for a juicy crab sandwich.


French Beans Cooked in Seawater

Serves 8

We’ve got a wonderful crop of French beans this summer. I find that they need a lot of salt in the cooking water to bring up the flavour, so seawater works perfectly. They don’t benefit from being kept in a hostess trolley, so if you need to cook them ahead try the method I suggest below. I think it works very well. The proportion of salt to water is vitally important for the flavour of the beans.

900g (2 lb) French beans

1.1 litres (2 pint) seawater or tap water plus 3 teaspoons sea salt

30-50g (1-2 oz) butter or extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

Top and tail the beans. If they are small and thin leave them whole, if they are larger cut them into 2.5-4cm (1-1


1/2 inch) pieces at an angle.

Flower Power

For years and years, I’ve scattered flower petals over food for extra colour and pizzazz. At first I was pretty cautious, using mostly flowers of fresh herbs from the garden; I sprinkled thyme, sage and rocket flowers and little purple chive blossoms over salads and starters plates. In late spring when wild garlic was in season we enjoyed the pretty star (allium ursinum) and bell like (allium triquetrum) flowers in a myriad of ways.

Gradually I discovered that lots of garden flowers were also edible so I became more daring and flamboyant. I distinctly remember the first time I saw nasturtium flowers in a salad rather than a flower vase – what a revelation! We were having supper with artists Anne and Louis Le Broque at their house near Ardgroom in Co. Kerry. It was a memorable meal for several reasons, the boys had caught a bucket of fresh mackerel so Anne decided to salt and warm smoke them for supper. While they were smoking she cooked some new potatoes from the village shop – they were freshly dug, floury and beautiful. While they were still warm, Anne chopped them into chunky cubes, seasoned them with salt and freshly ground pepper and tossed them in good extra virgin olive oil, wine vinegar and lots of chopped scallions and freshly snipped herbs. Then she gathered some red, yellow and orange nasturtium flowers and sprinkled them over the top of the green flecked potato salad. Warm smoked mackerel, potato and nasturtium salad, followed by strawberries and thick rich cream for pudding – exquisitely simple but nonetheless a perfect feast.

I’ve just realised it was over 30 years ago! Since then I’ve discovered there are literally hundreds and for all I know probably thousands of edible flowers – I discover more all the time and new ways to use them. As I sit in the garden writing this article I see six or seven edible flowers around me, daisies, red roses, day lilies, marigolds, pansies and the small johnny jump-ups, lavender….

On a recent trip to Cornwall, cook and garden photographer Melanie Eclare, who lives in Devon, also put the flowers of Pink Campion and Stitchwort into our salad for lunch – yet another discovery. I’ve added them to my ever growing list. Flowers are of course more plentiful in Summer but even in the depths of Winter there are fragrant violets and early primrose blossoms and you’ll find some gorse flowers virtually year round They too are pretty scattered over salads and make a delicious wine provided you are patient enough to wait for the best part of the year to drink it.

Here’s a short list to whet your appetite. Violets, primroses, dandelions flowers, daisies, jasmine, hyssop, elderflowers, rocket flowers, day lilies, nasturtiums, chrysanthemums, marigolds, lavender, violas, zucchini blossom, camomile, pansies, pinks, borage… Let me know your favourites and how you use them

Seek out organic flowers – a word of caution, don’t use flowers that have been heavily sprayed for obvious reasons,


Elderflower Champagne


This magical recipe transforms perfectly ordinary ingredients into a delicious sparkling drink. The children make it religiously every year and then share the bubbly with their friends.


2 heads of elderflowers

560g (11/4lb) sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4.5L (8pints) water

1 lemon

Remove the peel from the lemon with a swivel top peeler. Pick the elderflowers in full bloom. Put into a bowl with the lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and cold water. Leave for 24 hours, and then strain into strong screw top bottles. Lay them on their sides in a cool place. After 2 weeks it should be sparkling and ready to drink. Despite the sparkle this drink is non-alcoholic.

The bottles need to be strong and well sealed; otherwise the Elderflower champagne will pop its cork.


Rose Petal Syrup

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

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

500ml (18fl oz) water

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

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






Ice-Cubes with Mint, Herbs, Lemon Verbena, Flowers and Berries


Fill ice trays with water and pop in each one…

1. Sugared Cranberries

2. Redcurrants and Mint leaves

3. Lemon Segments

4. Pomegranate Seeds

5. Star Anise

Summer Parties

Fill ice trays with mint, lemon balm, sweet geranium or sweet cicely leaves, violas or violets, rose or marigold petals…use in drinks or homemade lemonade.

Sarah Raven’s Edible Flower Couscous Salad

This recipe comes from Sarah Raven’s new book ‘Food for Family and Friends’ with photography by Jonathan Buckley – published by Bloomsbury.

Serves 4-5

Ready in 15 minutes

A couscous or bulgur wheat salad makes a good change from new potatoes and goes with almost any meat or fish.

500ml good quality vegetable stock (of bouillon powder)

275g couscous

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Large handful fresh mint, chopped

Large handful fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Grated zest and juice of 1 lime

Large handful edible flowers, such as runner bean and chicory flowers, marigolds, violas, rocket flowers and nasturtiums

Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil, or dissolve the bouillon in boiling salted water according to pack instructions. Put the couscous into a deep bowl, pour over the olive oil and stock or bouillon and stir just once to combine. Cover and leave for 10 minutes to allow the grains to soften before forking it through. Done this way, your couscous should be dry, with each grain separated rather than a claggy mush, Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the herbs, lemon and lime juice and zest. Transfer the cous cous to a serving bowl. Sprinkle over the edible flowers and serve.

Ballymaloe Ice Bowl

This is the solution my mother-in-law Myrtle Allen created for keeping the ice-cream cold on the sweet trolley in Ballymaloe House.

“In desperation I produced an ice bowl. It turned out to be a stunning and practical presentation for a restaurant trolley or a party buffet”

Ballymaloe Ice Bowl with Flowers

Take two bowls, one about double the capacity of the other. Half fill the big bowl with cold water. Float the second bowl inside the first. Weight it down with water or ice cubes until the rims are level. Tuck some leaves in between the two bowls. Place a square of fabric on top and secure it with a strong rubber band or string under the rim of the lower bowl, as one would tie on a jam pot cover. Adjust the small bowl to a central position. The cloth holds it in place. Put the bowls on a Swiss roll tin and place in a deep freeze, if necessary re-adjusting the position of the small bowl as you put it in. After 24 hours or more take it out of the deep freeze.

Remove the cloth and leaves for 15-20 minutes, by which time the small bowl should lift out easily. Then try to lift out the ice-bowl. It should be starting to melt slightly from the outside bowl, in which case it will slip out easily. If it isn’t, then just leave for 5 or 10 minutes more, don’t attempt to run it under the hot or even cold tap, or it may crack. If you are in a great rush, the best solution is to wring out a tea-towel in hot water and wrap that around the large bowl for a few minutes. Altogether the best course of action is to perform this operation early in the day and then fill the ice bowl with scoops of ice-cream, so that all you have to do when it comes to serving the ice-cream is to pick up the ice bowl from the freezer and place it on the serving dish. Put a folded serviette under the ice bowl on the serving dish to catch any drips.

At Ballymaloe, Myrtle Allen surrounds the ice bowl with vine leaves in Summer, scarlet Virginia creeper in Autumn and red-berried holly at Christmas. However, as you can see I’m a bit less restrained and I can’t resist surrounding it with flowers! However you present it, ice-cream served in a bowl of ice like this usually draws gasps of admiration when you bring it to the table.

In the restaurant we make a new ice-bowl every night, but at home when the dessert would be on the table for barely half an hour, it should be possible to use the ice bowl several times. As soon as you have finished serving, give the bowl a quick wash under the cold tap and get it back into the freezer again. This way you can often get 2 or 3 turns from a single ice bowl.


Don’t leave a serving spoon resting against the side of the bowl or it will melt a notch in the rim.

Honey and Lavender Ice-Cream


Honey and lavender is a particularly delicious marriage of flavours. We make this richly scented ice cream when the lavender flowers are in bloom in early Summer. Lavender is at its most aromatic just before the flowers burst open. Serve it totally alone on chilled plates and savour every mouthful.


Serves 8-10


250ml (9floz) milk

450ml (16floz) cream

40 sprigs of fresh lavender or less of dried (use the blossom end only)

6 organic egg yolks

175ml (6floz) pure Irish honey, we use our own apple blossom honey, although Provencal lavender honey would also be wonderful



sprigs of lavender


Put the milk and cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the lavender sprigs, bring slowly to the boil and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes. This will both flavour and perfume the cream deliciously. Whisk the egg yolks, add a little of the lavender flavoured liquid and then mix the two together. Cook over a low heat until the mixture barely thickens and lightly coats the back of a spoon (careful it doesn’t curdle). Melt the honey gently, just to liquefy, whisk into the custard. Strain out lavender heads.


Chill thoroughly and freeze, preferably in an ice-cream maker.


Serve garnished with sprigs of fresh or frozen lavender.


Frosted Lavender

Frosted lavender sprigs are adorable and delicious to use for garnish. Pick lavender in dry weather while the flowers are still closed. Whisk a little egg white lightly, just enough to break it up, brush the entire lavender sprig with the egg white, sprinkle all over with sieved, dry castor sugar. Lay on a sheet of silicone paper. Allow to dry and crisp in a warm spot – hot press or near a radiator until dry and crisp. Store in an airtight tin.

Wild Food

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) When to Pick: flowers in profusion in early summer but you’ll find some blooms almost all year round.

As the old saying goes, ‘When the gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of fashion!’ The ubiquity of gorse – or furze as it is called in Ireland – around the Irish landscape, meant that it was once widely used as fuel, as fodder for livestock, to make fences, hurleys and walking sticks, for harrowing, for cleaning chimneys, to fuel bakers’ ovens and limekilns. We love a few blossoms added to salad, steeped in boiling water for tea or dropped into a whiskey glass for a fragrant tipple. Look for the spiky bushes growing near the sea, with yellow flowers that stay in bloom nearly all year. Wear gloves to harvest the flowers, as the thorns can be very sharp.


Roger Phillip’s Gorse Wine

We loved this recipe – it makes a fragrant, slightly effervescent, very refreshing summer drink. It comes from Roger Phillip’s Wild Food – a book no serious forager should be without.

Makes about 4.8 litres (8 pints)

2 litres (31⁄

2 pints) gorse flowers

about 1 teaspoon general purpose non-GM yeast

1kg (2.2lb) granulated sugar

juice and zest of 2 organic lemons

juice and zest of 2 organic oranges

Pick nice fresh flowers that have come out fully. Activate the yeast by stirring into a little tepid water. Simmer the flowers in 4.5 litres (1 gallon) water for 15 minutes then dissolve the sugar, pour into a bucket and add citrus juice and zest. Allow to cool to blood heat, add the yeast and let it stand with a cloth over it. After 3 days, strain off the solids and pour into a fermentation jar, fit an airlock and allow it to ferment until it is finished. Rack off into a clean jar, making it up to the full amount with cold boiled water. Leave for a month and then filter, or leave until completely clear then bottle in sterilised bottles.



The Brown Bear Restaurant

The Forgotten Skills marquee life skills Country Courses

What could be nicer than a day spent learning valuable life and food skills in the idyllic surrounds of Bantry House in West Cork?  This summer you can spend a day learning how to keep bees, how to weave baskets, master vegetable growing, work farm horses and get to grips with hen keeping – amongst other subjects. All the courses will be hands on learning conducted by working practitioners. Prices start from €80

This will build into a precious library of our Irish Food Heritage and be an invaluable reference for generations to come.

organised by Bord Bia and the Taste Council of Ireland at this year’s Bloom and Taste of Dublin was an overwhelming success. As well as many demonstrations and talks, Una Fitzgibbons of Bord Bia asked people to write down or email their favourite memory connected to food or food production to Bord Bia, Lower Mount St, Dublin 2 or in Co Kildare, recently won the Restaurant Association of Ireland’s ‘Best New Comer’ award, has a varied and delicious menu that lists the name of the local suppliers with the dishes. Contact owner Eugene Brennan on 045 883 561 or

Healthy Eating for Kids

It is absolutely vital to feed our children well – their energy, vitality, and ability to concentrate all depends on the quality of the food we feed them. When I say well I mean wholesome, nourishing naturally produced food, free of chemicals, additives and artificial colourings. Kid’s palettes are very sensitive and can pick up nuances of flavour or lack of much more acutely then we often can, I have observed this many times over with my own children and grandchildren. Little Amelia Peggy was first introduced to tomatoes and baby cucumbers where she as about 8 months old in the Summer of 2008. She loved them and ate them like fruit. It was quite noticeable that she ate less at the end of the season when both vegetables and fruit lose their sweetness through lack of sunshine. Eventually the crop was finished, but she was too young to ask where they had disappeared to. Some months later while she rode around the supermarket in her Mum’s trolley she got very excited when she suddenly spotted some cherry tomatoes in the vegetable section and gesticulated wildly in their direction. She was a bit baffled at the packaging but she couldn’t wait to get at them. She popped one into her mouth chewed a little, grimaced and promptly spat it out. She literally didn’t eat another tomato until she plucked one off the plant the following Summer. This and many other examples have led me to believe my theory about children’s palates but this is only anecdotal evidence (I would welcome some research)

Parents who grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruit will confirm that their children will eat everything particularly if they have helped to grow it. Visitors are constantly amazed to see our grandchildren tucking into platefuls of mussels or peeling shrimps or wiggling periwinkles out of their shells, no one bats an eyelid – they don’t think there is anything peculiar about it. The little ones run into the greenhouse and pluck the beans off the plants and eat them there and then. They love shelling the broad beans to find the tiny beans cuddled up inside the furry lining. Of course they also eat them cooked but many never even make it into the kitchen not to speak of the pot!

Porridge or fruit muesli is their favourite breakfast; several of the grandchildren don’t know any other breakfast cereal exists. When our eldest grandson Joshua was about 5 he arrived home from school one day and much to Rachel’s surprise asked for Corn Flakes, she wondered why he wanted them. It transpired that he had no idea what they were but wanted to have the little toys from the packet like his pals at school, so Myrtle collected them from the cornflakes in Ballymaloe House and then he was happy. They also baffle their friends by fighting over the drum sticks on a chicken which causes a bit of a problem considering each chicken only has two drumsticks, so far we have managed to pass off the delicious crispy wings as mini drum sticks!

Good food habits are unquestionably laid down when children are young. If they are introduced early to a variety of foods, they seem to enjoy them as the norm. One can control their diet well when they are little but it becomes more of a challenge when they go to school. It’s a huge help to parents if the school have a healthy eating policy and refuse to allow fizzy drinks and bars into school lunch. Nonetheless – once they go to school they’ll get to taste all kinds of foods that include flavours specially formulated to stimulate a craving. Still if you have managed to foster good eating habits when they are little you are likely to experience less difficulty.

I’m quite sure my grand children would tuck into a well known brand of burger as good as the rest, but it’s a rare treat. Nourishing food does not have to be expensive, food is cheaper and has a much better flavour when it is in season.

Radishes with Cream Cheese and Parsley

Get your kids growing radishes, even in a little timber box, at this time of year they will only take 12 – 14 days to be ready to eat. Then they can pick, wash and enjoy them.

Fresh Radishes complete with leaves

Cream Cheese

Chopped Parsley

Crusty bread

Gently wash the radishes, trim the tail and the top of the leaves if they are large.

To serve.

Put 7 or 8 chilled radishes on each plate; put a blob of cream cheese close by.

To eat, smear the radishes with a little cream cheese, dip in chopped parsley and eat – delicious.

Traditional Roast Stuffed Organic Chicken with Gravy and lots of Roast Spuds

Serves 6

In my experience all children love a roast stuffed chicken with lots of gravy and roast spuds. Nowadays, many people buy chicken pieces rather than a whole chicken, so a traditional roast chicken is a forgotten flavour for many, partly because unless you have access to a really good bird the smell and flavour will be quite different to ones childhood memory. People often feel that making stuffing is too bothersome but if you keep some breadcrumbs in the freezer it can literally be make in minutes. Should I cook the stuffing inside the bird or separately? The best place for the stuffing is inside the bird where it absorbs lots of delicious juices as it cooks. Do not overfill the bird otherwise the heat may not penetrate fully. This is particularly important if you are using an intensively reared bird which may be infected with salmonella and or campylobacter.


4 1/2 – 5 lbs (1.5 – 2.3kg) free range chicken,

preferably organic



1 1/2 ozs (45g) butter

3 ozs (75g) chopped onion

3-3 1/2 ozs (75-95g) soft white breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives and annual marjoram

salt and freshly ground pepper

a little soft butter



1 – 1 1/2 pints (600-900mls) of stock from giblets or chicken stock



Sprigs of flat parsley


First remove the wish bone from the neck end of the chicken, this is easily done by lifting back the loose neck, skin and cutting around the wish bone with a small knife – tug to remove, this isn’t at all essential but it does make carving much easier later on. Tuck the wing tips underneath the chicken to make a neat shape. Put the wish bone, giblets, thickly sliced carrot, onions, a stick of celery and a few parsley and thyme stalks into a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, skin and simmer gently while the chicken is roasting. This is the basis of the gravy.

Next make the stuffing,


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo4. Weight the chicken and allow about 20 minutes to the lb and 20 minutes over – put on middle shelf in oven. Baste a couple of times during the cooking with the buttery juices. The chicken is done when the juices are running clear.


To test prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh, hold a spoon underneath to collect the liquid, examine the juices – they should be clear.


Remove the chicken to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy.


To make the gravy

If possible serve the chicken on a nice carving dish surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and some sprigs of flat parsley then arm yourself with a sharp knife and bring it to the table. Carve as best you can and ignore rude remarks if you are still practicing but do try to organise it so that each person gets some brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and roast spuds.


Use the cooked carcass for stock.

, tilt the roasting tin to one corner and spoon off the surplus fat from the juices and return the roasting pan to the stove. De glaze the pan juices with the fat free stock from the giblets and bones (you will need 1 1/2 pints depending on the size of the chicken). Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelized meat juices in the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like (the gravy should not be thick). Taste and correct seasoning, serve in a hot gravy boat. sweat the onions gently in the butter in a covered saucepan until soft, 10 minutes approx. then stir in the white bread crumbs, the freshly chopped herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold unless you are going to cook the chicken immediately. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half fill with stuffing. Season the breast and legs, smear with a little soft butter.


Roast Spuds


8 potatoes, unwashed Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks


Choose medium to large potatoes of even size. Scrub and peel. Put into a saucepan, cover with cold salted water and bring to the boil. Drain thoroughly. Lightly scratch the surface with a fork and season with salt.


Put the potatoes into smoking hot fat or olive oil. Baste occasionally. Cook until soft in a hot oven 230°C/450°F/regulo 8 for 30-45 minutes depending on the size. Drain well on kitchen paper. Serve immediately.


Alternatively, put the potatoes into smoking hot fat in the same tin as the meat, 40-45 minutes before the meat is fully cooked and baste well. Cook until soft. (Baste the potatoes when you baste the meat and turn them over after 25 minutes). Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.



Sweet Sticky Carrots


Serves 4-6


You might like to try this method of cooking carrots. Admittedly it takes a little vigilance but the resulting flavour is a revelation to many people.


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

15g (1/2 oz) butter

125ml (4fl oz) cold water

Pinch of salt

Good pinch of sugar



Freshly chopped parsley or fresh mint


Cut off the tops and tips, scrub and peel thinly if necessary. Cut into slices 7mm

(1/2 inch) thick, either straight across or at an angle. Leave very young carrots whole. Put them in a saucepan with butter, water, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a gentle heat until tender, by which time the liquid should have all been absorbed into the carrots, but if not remove the lid and increase the heat until all the water has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning. Shake the saucepan so the carrots become coated with the buttery glaze.


Serve in a hot vegetable dish sprinkled with chopped parsley or mint.



Note: It is really important to cut the carrots into the same thickness. Otherwise they will cook unevenly.

Baby carrots:

Scrub the carrots with a brush but don’t peel. Trim the tails but if the tops are really fresh, leave a little of the stalks still attached. Cook and glaze as above, scatter with a little fresh parsley and mint.


Rhubarb Fool with Shortbread Dippers


Kids love dipping and fruit fools make a delicious dessert.


Serves 6 approx.


450g (1 lb) red rhubarb, cut into chunks

175-225g (6-8ozs sugar

2 tablespoons water

300ml (10fl oz) cream whipped or a mixture of cream and natural yoghurt


Shortbread Dippers (see recipe)


Top and tail the rhubarb stalks – rub with a damp cloth. Cut into approximately 2.5cm (1 inch) chunks.


Put the rhubarb into a stainless saucepan with the sugar and water, stir, cover, bring to the boil and simmer until soft, 20 minutes approx. Stir with a wooden spoon until the rhubarb dissolves into a mush. Allow to get quite cold. Fold in the softly whipped cream to taste. Serve chilled with shortbread dippers.


Shortbread Dippers


Makes 25 Approx


175g (6 oz) plain white flour

110g (4 oz) butter

50g (2 oz) castor sugar


Put the flour and sugar into a bowl; rub in the butter as for Shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 7mm (1/8 or 1/4 inch) thick. Cut into strips to make ¾ inch to 2 ½ inch pieces to make nice dippers. Bake in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/regulo 4 to pale brown, 5-15 minutes, depending on size.



Fool Proof Food

Ballymaloe Strawberry Muesli

Oatmeal, a brilliant food with high glycemic index is very inexpensive and will provide breakfast for a week or more. Porridge in winter but try this irresistible fruit muesli in Summer. Everyone from kids to grannies and grandpas love it. This is a huge favourite with all our family and friends – it’s a good recipe to know about because it’s made in minutes and so good. We vary the fruit through the seasons – strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blueberries and grated Cox’s Orange Pippin apples or Ergemont Russet in the Autumn.

Serves 8


6 tablespoons rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)

8 tablespoons water

250g (8oz) fresh Irish strawberries

2-4 teaspoons pure Irish honey, preferably local to your area


Soak the oatmeal in the water for a few minutes. Meanwhile, mash the strawberries roughly with a fork and mix with the oatmeal. Sweeten to taste with honey, a couple of teaspoons are usually enough but it depends on how sweet the strawberries are.

Serve with pouring cream and soft brown sugar.




A great new Irish fizz

A great new Irish fizz

has just come onto the market; it’s called Dunhill Castle Sparkling Spirit. It’s made using a triple distilled natural Irish spirit from Carbery in West Cork and juice from an old fashioned flavoured apple called Karmine that grows very well locally in Kilkenny. There are no sweeteners, additives or preservatives. None of the sulphites that are found in most champagne and wines, so no headache the following day. I’ve been enjoying this fruity fizz as an aperitif on Summer evenings – it’s already available in 21 locations in the south east, to find out where your closest stockist is visit – just what we need to perk us up!

Keeping it Local in Lismore

All Slow Food events have an educational element as well as a hedonistic one. So when we gathered in Lismore recently we started our evening at Michael McGrath butchers shop on Main Street. We were all anxious to learn from this man whose skills have come down through four generations of the family – his father, grandfather and great grandfather were butchers. Michael and his wife Mary are one of only a handful of Irish butchers who still finish animals on their own farm, have their own abattoir and consequently are in charge of the process from beginning to end. The skill of butchery is not merely cutting up meat; it starts by being able to judge good pasture and then being able to judge a fine animal in the field. Good meat is not just about the breed and the feed, although both are crucially important. The slaughtering process must be stress free and humane and then there’s the skill of hanging, butchering and the ability to use every scrap – waste can so easily be the difference between profit and loss. Michael kills only Aberdeen Angus and Hereford Cross heifers from about 15 months to 24 months. He, like me, likes a nice bit of fat for juiciness and flavour and favours grass-fed animals with rich yellow fat rather than the white fat of predominantly grain fed cattle. Although the demand for cheaper cuts and offal is growing again, particularly among chefs, he doesn’t expect that there will be a queue for several weeks for pickled tongue like there was in the past. Michael, a traditional butcher, was taught the trade by his father and grandfather and has resisted the trend to toss his meat in sweet and sour sauce, he just sells excellent meat and people are prepared to travel for it. The Slow Food Feast was held at O’Brien Chop is Lismore. An old fashioned pub cum grocery shop now minimally converted into a charming bar and restaurant with a beguiling secret garden behind. Slow Food is all about supporting local. While we were sipping our Rhubarb Bellinis, two local producers also joined us and told us about their product. The Dungarvan Brewing Company is a family affair, they are passionate about real ale and beer, Cormac O’Dwyer is the head brewer who makes Helvick Gold, a blond ale, Copper Coast, a red ale and Black Rock, an Irish stout. It’s a relatively new venture and up to recently the beers could just be bought locally but they have big plans and now supply some pubs in Cork and Dublin. Julian Keane from nearby Cappoquin dropped in some of her Crinaghtaun Apple Juice freshly made from apples grown in their family orchards Local cheese makers, Agnes and Wolfgang Schliebitz originally from Germany told us how they make their ewes milk Knockalara Cheeses. Some cheese is coated with black pepper or garden herbs. Ewe’s milk is even easier to digest than goat’s milk and all vitamins and minerals are almost double those in cow’s milk and it’s lower in cholesterol. They also preserve Ewe’s milk cheese in extra virgin olive oil and they have a mature rind washed cheese, aged for ten months called Mature Knockalara.

Justin Green and his head chef Eddie Baguio had planned a delicious menu for the Slow Food feast. We started with a rhubarb bellini and nibbled some delicious freshly spiced nuts. We then had a salad of Knockalara Ewe’s Milk Cheese with asparagus Toasted Hazelnuts and Fresh Mint Leaves

Justin managed to get just one wild salmon from the Blackwater River close by and he managed to do a ‘loaves and fishes job’ so each and every one of us got a taste of the new seasons salmon with some buttery hollandaise.

For main course we had roast butterflied leg of Michael McGrath’s Spring lamb with salsa verde, new potatoes and spring garden greens. For pudding Jenny Green chose new seasons rhubarb with meringue and cream, then as an extra treat, we finished our meal with a fresh mint tisane.

The asparagus, rocket, baby salad leaves and rhubarb were grown by Justin’s father Jeremy in the walled garden at Ballyvolane House.

It’s so wonderful to find a restaurant that serves local food proudly not only for a special Slow Food event but on an ongoing basis. To hear more about upcoming Slow Food events go to



Rhubarb Bellini & Rhubarb Lemon Fizz

The base for both of these is a Rhubarb purée

Rhubarb Purée

(Makes 1 litre)

1 kg local Irish rhubarb

300g sugar

zest of ½ orange

juice of ½ orange

Cook all the above ingredients till rhubarb is soft and tender. Blend this into a purée

Sugar Syrup

1 kg (2¼lb) sugar

1 litre (1¾ pints) water

slices of half a lemon

6 cloves

Boil all ingredients until sugar has dissolved, remove lemon slices and cloves.

Add 300m (10fl oz (½ pint) l of Sugar syrup to rhubarb purée and store in a jug.




For the Bellini;

pour into a glass some of the purée / sugar syrup mixture then top up with a nice dry Prosecco and stir. The amount of purée will depend upon your own taste.For the Fizz;

pour into a glass some of the purée sugar syrup mixture, add a dash of lemon juice, ice cubes and top up with sparkling water. “Muddle” and serve.A Salad of Knockalara Ewe Milk Cheese with Asparagus, Toasted Hazelnuts and Fresh Mint Leaves

500g local Irish asparagus

300g Knockalara Ewe’s milk cheese

100g. Unsalted peeled hazelnuts

3 tbs olive oil

Bake the asparagus with the hazelnuts and olive oil for 15 minutes at 200ËšC and then allow to cool.

Mint Salad

200gr. Baby Spinach leaves

200g Rocket leaves

100g Mint leaves

Simple Vinaigrette

3 tbs. olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

salt & freshly ground pepper


Toss all the above leaves in the Simple vinaigrette, mix with the cooled asparagus & hazelnuts and top with crumbled Knockalara cheese.

Steamed Wild Atlantic Salmon, Sauce Hollandaise.

900g wild salmon fillet (Ask your fishmonger to skin and cut your fish into 6 equal pieces)

½ onion

2 stalks of celery

1 chopped leek

2 spring onions

4 Bay leaves

8 whole peppercorns

1 litre water

salt & pepper to taste

Boil all the above ingredients (except the salmon) together for 1 hour. Then add the salmon pieces and poach for 10 minutes, then remove and drain.

Hollandaise Sauce

3 egg yolks

1 dessertspoon of cold water

150g diced butter

1 ½ tsp. lemon juice

salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring a pan of water to the boil and place a stainless steel bowl over the water. Into the bowl put the egg yolks, add the water and whisk. Add the butter, piece by piece, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens. Season to taste.

Serve the warm fillets of salmon with the hollandaise.

O’Brien’s Chop House Roast Marinated Leg of Lamb, Salsa verde, Boiled New Potatoes with Creamed Spring Greens

Lamb & Marinade

1 ½ kg boned leg of lamb

50g thyme leaves

50g rosemary – chopped

50g parsley – chopped

1 bulb of garlic – peeled and chopped

200ml olive oil

Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Blend all the herbs, garlic, olive oil and seasoning then spread generously over the lamb, securely wrap with cling film and allow to marinade overnight in the fridge.

To cook the lamb;

Remove from marinade and cook in a very hot oven, 250ËšC for 30 minutes (for Medium rare) or longer if preferred.

Boiled Potatoes

1 kg new season Irish potatoes

100g butter

50g finely chopped mint

salt & pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes in boiling water until tender then just before serving toss the potatoes in a pan with the melted butter, mint and seasoning.

Creamed Garden Greens

1 York Cabbage

500g Baby Spinach leaves


Chop cabbage into small strips and blanch with the spinach in boiling water for 2 minutes.

O’Brien’s Chop House Cream sauce

300 ml. cream

½ diced onion

2 sprigs rosemary leaves finely chopped

100 ml white wine

100 ml chicken stock

Reduce the white wine in a saucepan with the rosemary and onion by half to 50ml. Add the cream and reduce again to about 85ml. Add the chicken stock and reduce for around 10 minutes. Taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.

To serve, toss the blanched greens in a pan with the reduced cream sauce for a couple of minutes, season and serve.

Ballyvolane House Walled-Garden Rhubarb Mess

500g rhubarb

zest of ½ orange

juice of ½ orange

150gr sugar

6 scoops vanilla ice-cream

200g homemade meringue

150 ml. cream, whipped

Method for Rhubarb

Cook all the ingredients until the rhubarb is soft and tender. It should have started to break up a little.

Scoop out 6 portions of vanilla ice-cream and return the scoops to the freezer to harden. Crumble the meringue into the whipped cream with ¾ of the cooked rhubarb and mix. Remove the deep-frozen ice-cream scoops from the freezer and break into pieces and stir into the above mixture. Portion this mixture onto your serving plates and pour over the remainder of the cooked rhubarb.

Fool Proof Food

Ballyvolane House Spiced Nuts

800g mixed nuts (peanuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia, cashew nuts, almonds)
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons garlic (2 cloves)
2 teaspoons olive oil

Bake in oven at 160 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown









Clare Food Scene

Lots of excitement on the food front in Co Clare. Ballyvaughan Farmers Market has launched their new cook book compiled from recipes using produce from the market. The recent Burren Slow Food Festival highlighted the wealth of local produce – Burren lamb, smoked salmon…where can I get beef from those beautiful cattle I saw grazing in the buttercup filled fields around Lisdoonvarna – why aren’t we capitalising more on region specific foods? I loved staying at Sheedy’s family run hotel over looking the spa. Wild Honey

is another option and you get to enjoy chef and owner Aidan McGrath’s creative classics using lots of local produce, look our for the ham hock terrine with celeriac remoulade and crab royale with seared scallops. Phone: +353 65 7074300 email:…The Crescent Farmers Market

in Limerick is going from strength to strength after their recent re-launch; there are a wonderful range of stalls with delicious fresh local and organic produce. I picked up some really good loaves of organic spelt bread from Coolfin Organic Bakery contact Jonas 0872045593. Market every Wednesday, Contact market manager Gar Granville 0868069605.Mani –Bläuel

olive oil have now notched up five awards this year after recently winning a Gold Award at the Expo and Competition ‘Monocultivaroliveoil’ organised by Frantoi Celleti Cultivar in Milan and a DIPLOMA DI GRAN MENZIONE in Parma at the 4th International Olive Oil Competition ‘ARMONIA’ – ALMA Trophy – the first time a Greek oil was among the winners at this competition. Available in Ballymaloe Cookery School shop and Midleton Farmers Market.


O’Brien Chop House 058 53810

Ballyvolane House 025 36349

Knockalara Farmhouse Cheese 024 96326

Michael McGrath Butchers Lismore 058 54350

Dungarvan Brewing Company 058 24000

Crinaghtaun Apple Juice 058 54258


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