ArchiveMarch 2011

The Cookbook Club

Out of the blue a few months ago, I got an email from a crazily enthusiastic girl who had just started a new business called The Cookbook Club based in Dublin, but also of course on-line.

She went on to give me some background in her inimitable breathless way.

“I’m from a small farm, in West Clare. I hated it. I hated weeding rows of potatoes, acres of cabbage, rhubarb and turnip, and hunting cattle, pulling sheep out of hedges, and digging/footing /stacking turf, and sitting up all night with a blinking torch waiting for cows to calve. But I loved the storytelling and gossip around the preparation of that – our home grown food. My smoking-like-a-trooper, 12 kids raised, 6 ft tall grandmother was a mid-wife who walked miles to everyone’s home in the village to bring children into the world and she used to lay out the dead too.  We scoured domestic science books and Woman’s Way magazine and cookbooks to find different ways of cooking turnip and mutton, or you’d die of boredom. So I love cookbook narratives as I associate food with storytelling. Granny and Mum would be chopping food and gossiping and I’d sit on the top of the stairs in the kitchen eavesdropping on their dissection of both the community and the recipe.”

Elaine had a steady job with RTE for over ten years as an editor and script writer on Fair City. In January 2010 she took a career break to follow her dream.

She tossed some ideas around, blogged about food and eventually decided to embark on a new adventure. She shot off some bubbly emails to a few of her favourite cookbook authors and invited them to join her and other fans at a restaurant of their choice in Dublin, all the cook book writer needs to do is to choose a three course menu with three choices on each course, send along the recipes and turn up on the night to chat to the guests and bloggers and sign cook books.

It all kicked off in September 2010 and by now she’s had terrific events with Paul Flynn, Clodagh McKenna, Kevin Dundon and Catherine Fulvio. Elaine is so sweet and effervescent that it’s impossible to say no. The events are held on the first Monday of every month and over fifty percent of the members have attended all the events, I sent along my menu, all dishes chosen from my Forgotten Skills Cookbook.


Potato Soup with Wild Garlic Pesto and Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread

Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

Salt Cod Croquettes with Aioli   

Main Course

Pork Osso Bucco

Hake with Swiss Chard and Coconut Milk

Gruyere and Dill Tart  

Homemade Pasta

Brussels Sprouts Tops 

A Salad of Organic Leaves with Honey and Mustard Dressing


Carrageen Moss Pudding with Poached Rhubarb and Sweet Cicely Compote

Lemon and Rose Geranium Posset

Srikhand with Saffron and Pistachio Nuts

One is always a little apprehensive just sending off recipes with ingredients that may be unfamiliar but the chefs at Ely Headquarters did a terrific job, even sourcing garlic chives at a Chinese shop in place of wild garlic which was a bit of a challenge to find around the financial centre in Dublin. The chefs did a terrific job and over 120 people turned up on the Monday 7th March and had terrific fun.

Elaine said “I did all this without any grants or start-up loans, any loans or savings. I wanted to have my own business. I’m neither a restaurateur, a chef or even a brilliant home cook nor am I trying to be, I’ve literally come out of nowhere because of my passion for cookbooks and the Irish chef authors who are the ambassadors of this Irish cuisine food revolution”

A terrific idea that could be replicated around the country to create a win-win situation for the cookbook author, restaurant and guests who need a fun night and it was brilliant value for €35.00. Here are some of the recipes from my menu.

Salt Cod Croquetas with Garlic Aioli

Of all the ways of preparing salt cod, this one is always a favourite. They’re an irresistible nibble or a delicious starter. Now that cod is becoming scarce we also salt ling and hake and use them in this recipe.

Serves 8, makes about 40

225g (8oz) skinned and boned dried salt cod (see recipe)

450g (1lb) medium-sized potatoes, peeled

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

freshly ground pepper

2 organic egg yolks

Garlic Aioli (see recipe)

oil for deep-fat frying

Soak the salt cod in several changes of cold water for 12–24 hours, depending on how salty it is. Drain.

Put the potatoes into a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Meanwhile, cover the salt cod in cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5–7 minutes or until the flesh has changed from translucent to opaque.

Drain the potatoes and push through a ricer into a bowl. Remove the skin from the cod, flake the flesh and mix with the mashed potatoes. Add the garlic, parsley, freshly ground pepper and egg yolks. Mix well. Taste and add salt if necessary.

To cook the croquetas, drop teaspoons of the mixture into hot oil. They will puff up and crisp on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm while you fry the remainder. Serve with garlic and saffron aioli or just plain aioli.

Salt Cod

Nowadays we salt to preserve fish in the short-term or to enhance flavour so there’s no need to use so much salt or salt for so long as years ago. If you don’t want to salt your own cod you can buy salt cod or ‘battle board’ from K O’Connell’s fishmongers in the English Market in Cork city. 

dairy or sea salt

thick, unskinned cod fillet or ling fillet

Sprinkle a thin layer of dairy or sea salt over the base of a lasagne dish or plastic box.  Put the cod or ling fillet on top.  Cover it completely in another layer of salt.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  By the next day, most of the salt will have turned into brine.  Remove the cod from the brine and rinse under cold water.  Cover with fresh water and leave to soak for 1 hour.  Discard the water and dry the fish.  It is now ready to be cooked.  Salt cod can keep for up to a month if heavily salted, but we normally lightly salt it and use it within a couple of days or a week.

Garlic Aioli

1-4 clove of garlic, depending on size

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard

1 dessertspoon White wine vinegar

8 fl ozs (250ml) oil (sunflower, arachide or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 6 fl ozs (175ml) arachide oil and 2 fl ozs (50ml) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

Crush the garlic and add to the egg yolks just as you start to make the aioli.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

If the aioli curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled aioli, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.

Finally add the chopped parsley and taste for seasoning.

Brussels Sprout Tops

You won’t find these in a supermarket, but they are a real bonus for home gardeners who grow Brussels sprouts. These come from the top of the plant and look like shot Brussels sprouts. You can cook them as you would kale, or slice them thinly and add to salads and soups. Chefs are also starting to discover them, so look out for them on restaurant menus.

Serves 4–6

450g (1lb) Brussels sprout tops

6 teaspoons salt

butter or extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

Pick over the tops, trim any tough bits of stalk and chop the leaves roughly. Pop the surplus into the compost or hens’ bucket.

Bring a large, high-sided saucepan of 2.3 litres (4 pints) of cold water to the boil on a high heat. Add the salt and the sprout tops and stir. Cover the saucepan. When the water comes back to the boil, remove the lid and continue to cook for 3–4 minutes or until the sprout tops are tender. Drain well.

Melt a little butter or heat a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in the saucepan, toss in the well-drained sprout tops. Season generously with freshly ground pepper. Taste, correct the seasoning and serve as soon as possible.

Gruyére and Dill Tart

Serves 8-10

Shortcrust Pastry made with:

175g (6oz) plain white flour

75g (3oz) butter

1 egg yolk, preferably free-range

2 teaspoons cold water, approx.


75g (3oz) freshly grated Gruyére or Emmental cheese

1-2 generous tablespoons fresh dill

350ml (12fl ozs) cream

4 eggs, preferably free-range

25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

freshly grated nutmeg

1 x 9 inch (23cm) tart tin

First make the pastry in the usual way and bake blind.

Flatten the pastry into a round, cover with greaseproof paper and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worktop and line the tin, the pastry should come up just above the top of the tin. Line with kitchen paper and fill to the top with dried beans. Rest for 15 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4. 

Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper.

Brush the prebaked tart shell with a little beaten egg and pop back into the oven for 5-10 minutes or until almost cooked. Cool.

Meanwhile whisk the eggs and the cream together in a bowl, add the Gruyére and Parmesan Cheese and the freshly chopped dill. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.

Pour the filling into the tart shell, bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes approx. or until the filling is slightly puffy and golden brown.

Serve with a Tomato salad made from vine-ripened tomatoes and a good green salad.

Tip: Buy a chunk of cheese, wrap it well, store in the fridge and grate it freshly when you need it. Ready grated cheese does not taste as good.

Lemon Posset with Rose Scented Geranium

Serves 4

400ml (14fl oz) double cream

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

5 leaves rose-scented geranium  

2 fl oz (50 ml) lemon juice


tiny rose geranium leaves

Place the cream, sugar and rose geranium leaves in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to low and cook, stirring often, for five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze in the lemon juice, strain and allow to cool. Serve in small tall glasses each garnished with a tiny rose geranium leaf.

Fool Proof Food


Srikhand with Saffron and Pistachio Nuts


Serves 8-10

1kg (2 1/4lb) natural or Greek yoghurt

generous pinch of saffron strands

1 tablespoon warm water

1/4 teaspoon roughly crushed green cardamom seeds

225g (8oz) caster sugar

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachio nuts

Put the yoghurt into a clean bowl.  Infuse the saffron in a tablespoon of warm water in a small bowl.  Stir into every last drop into the yoghurt.  Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods.  Crush lightly, add to the yoghurt with the caster sugar, mix well.  Turn into a serving dish.  Chill.  Sprinkle the top with roughly chopped pistachio nuts and serve.  Delicious on its own but also memorable with Summer or Autumn berries.


Ross Lewis the Michelin-star chef and owner of Chapter One restaurant in Dublin has teamed up with Flahavan’s to create six delicious recipes combining Flahavan’s products with fresh local ingredients –

Dublin Tasting Trail – Eveleen and Pamela Coyle’s Fabulous Food Trails are a wonderful treat – a guided food walk around Dublin with lots of tastings on the way. Eveleen, Pamela and Roisin –  all experienced guides – will take you off the beaten track to discover hidden delights. For more information phone 01 4971245 or email or 

Pat Shortt’s pub in Castlemartyr, East Cork serves excellent pub food. Head Chef Mike Hanrahan (Ballymaloe graduate) has created a menu that is seasonal, fresh and very local; the vegetables come from across the road at the Village Greengrocers and the meat from Cliffords Butchers a few doors down. The fish is fresh off Trevor McNamara’s boat in Ballycotton and the cheese is from Carrigtohill – Ardsallagh Goats Cheese and Waterford – Knockanore Farm House Cheese. Bill Casey from Shanagarry supplies the smoked salmon. This is as local as it gets! The Seafood Chowder is excellent and so is the Irish Stew. Monday to Thursday 12pm – 5pm and Friday and Saturday 12pm – 8pm. 021 4623230.

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group  – The Story of Cork Butter. The history of butter processing in Cork – a major industry that was started in a recession – what are the lessons for now? With Dr Colin Rynne, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, UCC Crawford Art Gallery Café, Cork City – Thursday 31st March at 7.30pm. Entrance 6 euro including tea & coffee.

Call for Recipes: Traditional Irish Cooking

Darina Allen

In 1995 my book on Traditional Irish Food was published.  This book recorded traditional foods, recipes and culture.   It is still in print and continues to sell well, however my publisher has asked me to work on a new extended edition.

I am searching for any descriptions of traditional food, methods of preparation or production.  Any information or memories of what you, your mother or grandmother cooked, (and indeed grandfathers!) would be greatly welcomed. Even memories of conversations about food and old family recipes would be valuable.  I am be particularly interested in old handwritten recipes and if people lend me books I will look after them carefully and guarantee to return them.

Many families had their own way of preparing and cooking dishes and sadly these were not always documented, often its only when somebody has passed on that we realise that we no longer have the old recipes.  Perhaps all we have are some sketchy memories.  There is a real urgency to record this information before its too late,  food has changed utterly in our generation and we need to remember and document the food that has delighted and nourished us over the years.

Please send any memories, recipes, notebooks, recipe books or details you are willing to share to me at the Ballymaloe Cookery School by one of the following means.



Darina Allen
Traditional Irish Cookbook
Ballymaloe Cookery School
Co. Cork

Please include your name, address and phone number if possible.

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from anyone with recipes to share and keep.

Saint Patricks Day


We badly need a reason to celebrate, so let’s join the revellers and merrymakers all over the world and really enjoy Saint Patricks Day.

Once again, I’ll be in New York helping to spread the good news message about the Irish food scene. I’ll whet their appetite for sweet Irish lamb and grass fed beef. For farmhouse cheese and fat prawns from Dingle or Ballycotton Bay, for nettle soup and Irish stew and bacon and spring cabbage with lots of parsley sauce. I’ll tell them about the new seasons rhubarb and the tarts and pies you can make from it and last but not least I’ll tell them about the new generation of artisans and food producers, farmhouse cheese makers, fish smokers and charcuterie makers who have changed the image of fresh food and the growing number of chefs who serve our local food proudly.

Saint Patricks Day is Ireland’s annual opportunity to get the world to focus on Ireland. Let’s hope that now that we have a new government the mood will be more optimistic, the beginning of a bright new era in the history of Ireland.

And it’s spring; my spirits are definitely lifted by the drifts of snow drops and early daffodils. I’ve just found the first little violets and primroses, so I couldn’t resist crystallising some to put on the top of my St Patricks Day cake.

I love Irish bacon and cabbage with lots of parsley sauce and a few floury potatoes. Look out for the Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks they taste so much more wonderful than the ‘well known brand’ serve them with a pat of Irish butter melting into the centre and some sea salt– don’t worry it won’t do a bit of harm. Generations of Irish have thrived on it.

There are a growing number of artisan pig producers who are dry curing bacon in the traditional way, old fashioned breeds like Gloucester Old Spot, Saddleback, Red Duroc or Tamworth. The bacon will be fatter (don’t be put off by that) it will taste wonderful and remember one needs a little fat to absorb all the nutrients from the lean meat.

For a special occasion I like to use a piece of loin but collar or streaky are much less expensive and equally delicious. We all want to buy Irish particularly at present but check the labelling carefully both in the supermarkets and butcher shop. The origin is often in tiny lettering and now some of the bigger establishments can get their own plant number which is even more misleading, so is the brand Slí Eile – the Quality Way – which sounds Irish but in fact comes from Holland.

So gather family and friends around and have a celebratory Saint Patricks Day lunch and toast the future of Ireland.

A few suggestions for great bacon – there are many more…

Noreen and Martin Conroy – Ballincurrig, East Cork – free-range Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot pigs – 087 2767206 – and

Caroline Rigney – Curragchase Kilcornan Co Limerick – free-range Tamworth and Saddleback pigs – 087 2834754 – or

Fingal Ferguson – Gubbeen Farmhouse Products – West Cork – Duroc boar, Saddleback, Tamworth, Large White – whey fed pork with GM free feed – 028 27824 –

Bref Galligan – Hellfire Pigs in Tallaght Dublin – free-range Gloucester Old Spot and Middle White pigs. – 085 7284692 –

Kenny and Jennifer Gracey – Forthill Farm in Tandragee, Co Armagh – free-range Gloucester Old Spots and Saddleback pigs.
00 44 771 0804 819 or

 Whole Ballycotton Prawns in the Shell with Homemade Mayonnaise

I sometimes serve this as a starter at a dinner party. They are so easy to prepare and fun for people to eat. You’ll need to provide claw crackers and finger bowls so guests can enjoy every single scrap from the tail up to the claws. Serve with homemade mayonnaise made with finest extra virgin olive oil. If you want to ring the changes, flavour the mayonnaise with saffron, chervil, dill or fennel. Make sure to ask for prawns that haven’t been dipped in sodium metabisulphite Our fresh prawns taste better than anything I’ve tasted anywhere in the world, they are an expensive treat but so worth it for a special celebration.

Serves 4

24 large whole very fresh Dublin Bay prawns

4 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise

wild watercress leaves

4 lemon segments

Cook the whole prawns as in recipe.

Put 6 cooked, whole prawns on each plate. Spoon a tablespoon of homemade mayonnaise into a little bowl or oyster shell on the side of the plate and pop a segment of lemon on the plate, too.

Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh wild watercress. Serve with fresh crusty brown soda bread and Irish butter.


 Irish Nettle Soup

The new seasons nettles are fresh and young and perfect for soup. Use plastic gloves to gather them!

Serves 6

45g (1 1⁄2 oz) butter

110g (4oz) onions, chopped

150g (5oz) potatoes, peeled and chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 litre (1 3⁄4 pints) chicken stock

150g (5oz) young nettles, washed and chopped

150ml (5fl oz) full-cream milk

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the chopped onion and potato, toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a paper lid (to trap the steam) and the saucepan lid, and

sweat over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not coloured. Discard the paper lid, add the stock and boil until the vegetables are just cooked, add the nettle leaves and simmer uncovered for just a few minutes. Do

not overcook or the vegetables will lose their flavour. Add the milk and liquidise. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Serve hot.

Traditional Irish Bacon, Cabbage and Parsley Sauce

Ireland’s national dish of bacon and cabbage is often a sorry disappointment nowadays, partly because it is so difficult to get good-quality bacon with a decent bit of fat on it. Traditionally, the cabbage was always cooked in the bacon water. People could only hang one pot over the fire at a time, so when the bacon was almost cooked, they added the cabbage for the last half hour or 45 minutes of cooking. The bacon water gives a salty, unforgettable flavour, which many people, including me, still hanker for. You will need to order the loin well in advance, especially with rind on.


Serves 12–15


about 2.25kg (5lb) loin, collar or streaky bacon, either smoked or unsmoked with the rind on and a nice covering of fat

1 Savoy or 2 spring cabbages

50g (2oz) butter

freshly ground pepper


Cover the bacon in cold water in a large pot and bring slowly to the boil. If the bacon is very salty there will be a white froth on top of the water, in which case it is preferable to discard the water and start again. It may be necessary to change the water several times, depending on how salty the bacon is. Finally, cover with hot water and the lid of the pot and simmer until almost cooked, allowing 20 minutes for every 2.2kg (1lb). Meanwhile, trim the outer leaves of the cabbage and cut it into quarters, removing the core. Discard the core and outer leaves. Slice the cabbage across the grain into thin shreds. If necessary, wash it quickly in cold water. About 20 minutes before the end of cooking the bacon, add the shredded cabbage to the water in which the bacon is boiling. Stir, cover and continue to boil gently until both the cabbage and bacon are cooked – about 13⁄4 hours.  Take the bacon out and remove the rind if you like. Strain the cabbage and discard the water (or, if it’s not too salty, save it for soup). Add a lump of butter to the cabbage. Season with lots of ground pepper; it’s unlikely to need more salt, but add some if necessary. Serve the bacon with the cabbage, parsley sauce and floury potatoes 

Parsley Sauce

600ml (1 pint) full-cream milk

a few parsley stalks

sprig of thyme

a few slices of carrot (optional)

a few slices of onion (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper

50g (2oz) roux

about 50g (2oz) curly parsley, freshly chopped

Put the cold milk into a saucepan and add the herbs and vegetables (if using). Bring the mixture to simmering point, season and simmer for 4–5 minutes. Strain the milk, bring it back to the boil and whisk in the roux until the sauce is a light coating consistency. Season again with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the chopped parsley and simmer on a very low heat for 4–5 minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. 

St Patricks Day Cake

12 ozs (350g) butter

12 ozs (350g) castor sugar

grated zest of 1 lemon

6 eggs, organic and preferably free range

12 ozs (350g self-raising flour 


24ozs (680g) icing sugar

4 – 5 fl ozs (100 – 126ml) water


crystallised flowers (see recipe)

2 x 25.5cm (10 inch) cake tins

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/regulo 5. 

Grease the cake tins with a little melted butter, put a round of greaseproof paper on the bottom of the tins and dust with flour.

Cream the butter; add the castor sugar and the lemon zest. Beat until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, each time with a tablespoon of flour. Beat very well, then fold in the remaining flour.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins.  Bake for 35 -40 minutes or until the cakes are well risen, golden and feel spongy to the finger tips.

Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes in the tins and then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.



Split the cakes in half with a sharp serrated knife. Spread lemon curd (see recipe) over the base of one cake, top with the other, sandwiching the bases together


Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl; add enough boiling water to mix to a fairly stiff coating consistency. The icing should hold a trail when dropped from a spoon but gradually find its own level.

Decorate the iced cake with crystallised primroses and/or violets (see recipe) or even fondant shamrocks.

Crystallised Primroses and Violets

The art of crystallising flowers simply takes patience and a meticulous nature – the sort of job that drives some people around the bend, but which others adore. If it appeals to you, the work will be well rewarded, as they look and taste divine and are perfect to embellish a celebration cake.

Properly done, they will last for months. We store ours in a pottery jar or a tin box interleaved with silicone paper.

We also crystallize lots of leaves as well as flowers so one can make attractive arrangements.  Use fairly strong textured leaves – e.g. mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, sweet cicely, wild strawberry, rose geranium, salad burnet or marguerite daisy leaves. Smaller flowers are more attractive when crystallized eg. primroses, violets, apple blossom, violas, rose petals….and of course they  must be edible!

freshly picked, primroses and sweet-smelling violets

egg white

caster sugar

a child’s unused paint brush

Your caster sugar needs to be absolutely dry, so for extra protection, sieve it onto a Swiss roll tin and place in the oven at 110°C  /225°F /Mark ¼ for about 30 minutes. Break up the egg white slightly with a fork, but don’t beat it much; it doesn’t need to be fluffy. Using a clean paintbrush, brush the egg white very carefully and sparingly over each petal and into every crevice. Then gently pour some caster sugar over the violet so that every part is coated with a thin, sugary coating. Arrange the flower carefully on a greaseproof paper-lined tray, and continue with the remaining flowers. Allow to dry overnight in a warm dry place (say close to the Aga, over a radiator or in the airing cupboard).

 Fool Proof Food

Homemade Lemon Curd

Tangy delicious lemon curd can be made in a twinkling, smear it over a sponge or onto fresh bread, buttery scones or meringues.  It is best eaten within a fortnight.

Makes 2 x 200ml (7floz) jars

2 ozs (50g) butter

4 ozs (110g) caster sugar

grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

2 organic eggs and 1 organic egg yolk whisked (keep white aside for meringue)

Melt the butter on a very low heat. Add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice and then add the whisked eggs.  Stir carefully over a gentle heat with a straight ended wooden spatula until the mixture coats the back it.  Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or sterilized jar (it will thicken further as it cools.)

Cover when cold and refrigerate. 


Paul Street Pop Up Market – in the paved plaza with the backdrop of one of the oldest churches in Cork – is a sun trap, perfect for sitting on the wall or if you are lucky enough to grab one of the six tables to eat a really good pizza from Johnny O’Mahony’s Pompeii Pizza – piping hot out of the wood fired oven or Wok N Roll’s tiger prawns in a Thai dipping sauce from Pat O’Leary and Jim Ryan (Jim opened the first Thai Restaurant in Cork in 1994). Or if its something spicier you’re after, one of Arun Kappil’s delicious curries from his Green Saffron stall or a Mexican burrito from Brian Casey’s Ole Salsa and for dessert Mark Price – The Crepe Man – makes the best crepes in Cork  The market is open from 10.30am to 5.30pm every Friday & Saturday – phone 0872592129.

Saint Patricks Day Market – there will be a full food market with a dizzying array of mouth watering stalls to choose from on the Board Walk, Grand Parade in Cork city from 11am to 5.00pm. 

Grow your own potatoes – chit your seed potatoes now (stand them in egg tray in a cool, light, frost free position, so the side of the potato with most eyes ‘looks’ up towards the light and shoots develop) Try to get your seed potatoes in the ground by Saint Patricks day if the soil is not too wet, my favourite early variety is Home Guard. Use lots of manure or seaweed with the potatoes when planting, early varieties are good to grow organically because you tend to get a decent crop before the blight comes.

Q & A with Joy Larkcom – GIY (Grow it Yourself) patron, author and veteran vegetable grower who has spent over 40 years encouraging people to grow their own, to be adventurous about what they grow and not to be put off by having a tiny plot. 7pm Tuesday, 15th March – Crawford Art Gallery, Admission €5.00. This is one of a series of events as part of GIY Week, 12th to the 19th of March, more information at, or email

Food Blog of the Week – 


A Few Delicious Hours in London

  Country toast with lavender honey, how delicious does that sound and it was. It rounded off my breakfast at Brindisa, a generous plate of grilled chorizo with two crispy fried eggs and a mound of slightly soggy chips – that doesn’t sound appetising in the least but boy it

was good, the chips were cooked in extra virgin olive oil and the eggs were fresh and organic, crispy golden around the edges and soft in the centre – they too were cooked in olive oil. A glass of still foamy, freshly squeezed orange juice and some good coffee, the perfect start to provide a burst of energy for a whizz through the Borough Market around the corner.

This iconic market has now almost become a victim of its own success. Foodie visitors to London, make a beeline for Borough on a Saturday

morning and as a result the aisles quickly get cluttered with  ‘snapping’ tourists whose main, maybe only purchase will be food to nibble as they go. If you haven’t already been, don’t let this put you off it’s still a terrific market.

However I was bound for the new Bermondsey Market off Druid Street.

It’s not easy to find – my taxi driver was totally flummoxed but eventually the cool guys at Monmouth Coffee Shop on 34 Maltby Street where half of London seemed to be queuing for freshly roasted beans gave me directions. ‘Turn left and walk through a building site, you’ll find it in a series of arches under the railway’ – there is was like a furtive, secret, rendezvous but they weren’t selling dope they were selling beautiful beautiful produce. It was as though the best of Borough including biodynamic vegetable growers Jane Scotter of Fern Verrow Farm had decamped into the little commune close to where Randolph Hodgson of Neals Yard ages his cheeses in a cave under the railway arches. I bought some beautiful membrillo made by England Preserves from his shop and some gorgeous English cheese and just managed to resist a loaf of Poilâne sour dough bread.

On my way through the building site I came across Evin O’Riordan the man behind Kernel Brewery based on Druid Street  He started  his artisan brewery in December 2009 and already has a cult following. William Oglethorpe was beside him with his cheese and Elliot John from Ham and Cheese Company was on the other side.

I was searching for my friend Clare Ptak of Violet Cakes and there she was with a little table of her delicious sweet things, the whoopie pies had all been sold but there was still some scones, already sandwiched with homemade jam and cream, some little blood orange sponges and bags of homemade candied orange peel. Lilia McAlistair had lots of tempting Polish sausages, horseradish sauce and beetroot relish. Jane and Michael Dunne were selling very good looking Romney Marsh lamb and British Shorthorn beef from Hop Hurst biodynamic farm in Surrey near East Grinstead. This sought after meat comes from a cluster of farms enclosed by bridges, so no large machinery can get in; consequently there are still permanent pastures on the farm.

There is so much more tucked in under the arches, just a short hop away and the loaves of St John Bakery just a few yards away, don’t miss custard doughnuts, I don’t care how fattening they look, just have one; to use the much overused expression, they are to die for!

This market is obviously the coolest place to congregate on a Saturday morning, within a couple of minutes I’d met several chefs and friends who really go out of their way to find good things.  Stevie Parle whose restaurant Dock Kitchen on Portobello Dock on Ladbroke Grove is causing such a stir was there in his favourite orange duffel coat with baby Sam strapped onto his front. Joe Travelli the gifted chef at River Cafe was also there to pick up some goodies as was artisan ice cream queen Kitty Lindy Travers. Foreseeing affineur Randolf Hodginson who has always been such a fan and stalwart supporter of the Irish artisan cheese makers was there amongst it all like a benevolent grandfather, as ever encouraging the young food entrepreneurs.

It was almost lunchtime so on Clare Ptak’s advice we headed for the newest happening place for lunch, a restaurant called Brawn on the corner of Ravencroft St and Columbia Rd in Bethnal Green There’s no name over the door so we had another demented taxi driver grizzling about the new cool restaurants who like to make his life difficult ! Brawn is an offshoot of one of my favourite West End restaurants Terroirs in William 1V St . Named after a dish made from pigs head and crubeens, Brawn became an almost instant hit for its delicious well priced food when it opened not long before Christmas.
The atmosphere is chilled and quirky with whitewashed brick walls, a random collection of mismatched tables and chairs and some eye-catching local art. It is housed in a former furniture warehouse near the Flower Market and is divided into two rooms with a bar in one and a semi open kitchen in the other. The menu is enticingly divided into six sections, Taste Tickler, Pig, Plancha, Raw, Slow Cook, and Pudding & Cheese. The provenance of much of the produce is shown on the menu, so I discovered that the delicious Hackney Wild Sourdough was baked in London Fields by E5 Bakehouse. There were tons of dishes that I longed to taste but could only manage a few after my substantial breakfast. The Taste Ticklers are nice and small, I loved the Pays Basque Saussison sec from Pierre Oteiza and the Nduja, a sort of soft spreadable chorizo, with lots of the afore mentioned bread. There was also an inspired little plate of Anchoide, Fennel & Breakfast Radishes which I also ate with relish, all these dishes by the way cost just £3.00 each. For main course, I had a classic Tete de Veau with Sauce Ravigote £13.00 and tasted the Montbeliard Sausage & Horseradish £14.00. Both were substantial and excellent. For pudding I enjoyed the Crepes with Salted Butter Caramel, so much so that I just managed to resist the urge to lick the plate! Here are few recipes kindly provided by Head Chef Ed Wilson.

Pork Rillons

Ed Wilson kindly shared the recipe for these rillons – a signature dish on Brawns menu.

A specialty of Touraine in the Loire Valley, these are slow cooked cubes of pork belly that are caramelised on the outside and soft and unctuous in the middle. Perfect as a snack or with a salad, served either really hot, or cold. They will keep for at least a week in the fridge too and are easy to make.


Ikg (2¼lb) of pork belly (with the skin left on, any bones removed and preferably from the thick end)

50g (2oz) sea salt

250g (9oz) lard

large sprig of thyme

3 Bay leaves

4 Garlic cloves (split in two)

250ml (9fl oz) of dry white wine

125ml (4fl oz) water

black pepper

The day before:

Dice the pork belly into 5cm/2inch cubes with the skin left on. Salt the cubes with the sea salt and leave for 12hrs covered in the fridge.

The next day, wash the salt from the cubed belly. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Then in a large hot pan with a little of the lard, add the pork belly cubes and brown on all sides until nicely caramelised all over. Transfer to a an oven proof dish making sure the belly pieces are snugly sitting together and not on top of each other. Add the wine, water, bay leaves, thyme and garlic and the rest of the lard and place in a preheated oven at around 140’c for about an hour and a half. The lard when melted should just be about half way up the pieces of pork. Check after this time and they should be tender. If not, cook for another ½ hour. If the lard is becoming too hot and burning the pork, carefully add a little more water as this will lower the cooking temperature of the lard.

When cooked, allow the rillons to cool down in the fat. To serve, place the rillons in a really hot oven (200’c) for 5-6 minutes so they become sizzling and crispy on the outside. Serve with a simple green salad with a good punchy mustard vinaigrette, a lively glass of Sancerre and some bread.

Crepes with Salted Butter Caramel

Strangely addictive, salt and sugar…Ed Wilson, head chef of Brawn Restaurant in London shared this recipe – they are beyond yummy!

Serves 6 – makes 12 approx.

Pancake Batter

6 ozs (175g) white flour, preferably unbleached

a good pinch of salt

1 dessertspoon castor sugar

2 large eggs and 1 or 2 egg yolks, preferably free range

scant 3/4 pint (450ml) milk, or for very crisp, light delicate pancakes, milk and water mixed

3-4 dessertspoons melted butter

Salted Butter Caramel

500g (18oz) caster sugar

125g (4 1/2 oz) unsalted whole butter (diced)

250ml (9fl oz) double cream

10g (1/2 oz) fleur de sel from Brittany (literally flower of the salt, the very mineral and not too salty top layer)

Put the caster sugar into a large pan over a medium heat and stir continuously until it turns into a rich caramel. You need to do this by eye, but aim for a slightly dark mahogany colour. If it is too light, the butter and cream will dilute any caramel flavour and it will lack that slightly burnt sugar taste that makes this sauce so good.

When you are happy with your caramel, very carefully add your cream to stop the cooking. Be really careful to not to do it too quickly as the caramel has a tendency to spit. When you have whisked in the cream, add the butter bit by bit until it is all incorporated and you have a smooth rich caramel.

Allow to cool to blood temperature and then add the fleur de sel and mix so you get an even distribution. Ed says it is very important to allow the caramel to cool before doing this so that the salt crystals do not dissolve and you then get that lovely crunch.

Sieve the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drop in the lightly beaten eggs. With a whisk or wooden spoon, starting in the centre, mix the egg and gradually bring in the flour. Add the liquid slowly and beat until the batter is covered with bubbles.

Let the batter stand in a cold place for an hour or so – longer will do no harm. Just before you cook the pancakes stir in 3-4 dessertspoons melted butter. This will make all the difference to the flavour and texture of the pancakes and will make it possible to cook them without greasing the pan each time.

To Serve

Make the pancakes in the usual way. Heat the pan to very hot; pour in just enough batter to cover the base of the pan thinly. A small ladle can also be very useful for this, loosen the pancake around the edge, flip over with a spatula or thin egg slice, cook for a second or two on the other side, and slide off the pan onto a plate. The pancakes may be stacked on top of each other and peeled apart later. Spread a little salted caramel evenly over the warm crepe. Roll up or fold into a fan shape. Serve two per person on warm plates.

Fool Proof Food

Ed Wilson’s Salad of Anchoïade, Fennel and Breakfast Radishes

A simple emulsion of anchovies, garlic, vinegar & oil. Perfect as a dip for raw vegetables such as fennel, carrots and radishes. This recipe makes quite a substantial amount but it will keep very well covered in the fridge.

fresh radishes with the leaves still attached

julienne of fennel


180g (4 3/4oz) of tinned anchovies drained of any excess oil

3 good sized cloves of garlic

50ml (2 fl oz)of good quality red wine vinegar

750ml (1 pint 7floz) of vegetable oil

water for thinning


First make the anchoïade, in a food processor, add the anchovies, garlic, vinegar and puree to a smooth paste.

Very slowly start to add the vegetable oil in a slow stream like you are making a mayonnaise. (The anchovies act in the same way as egg yolk’s in mayonnaise and as a protein, will emulsify the oil). Be careful and keep a close eye as the oil starts to emulsify. If you feel it becomes too thick, add a little water. This will do two things; it will thin the anchoïade, and will also stabilise the emulsion too which will stop it from splitting.

When all the oil is incorporated and you have a lovely thick garlicky, anchovy emulsion, put in a pot and dip away…

Cut the fennel into julienne strips and the radishes in half lengthwise and chill in iced water.

To Serve

Arrange a few crisp chilled radishes, crisp fennel julienne on a plate, have a bowl of anchoïade on the side for dipping. Delicious.


Hottips Brindisa Restaurant and Shop at Borough Market The Dock Kitchen Borough Market Monmouth Coffee Company Claire Ptak – Violet Cakes Neals Yard E5 Bakehouse

0044 (0)20 7729 5692 Brawn Restaurant


The Burren Ecotourism Network was launched on Thursday 3rd March. The Network – a group of dedicated businesses that are certified as one of only two ecotourism destinations in Ireland – is offering visitors opportunities to engage with the protected landscape of the Burren in a manner which is sustainable both in terms of the environment as well as the community.  Tourism businesses involved in the network are committed to local producers, conservation and sustainability for the community. For enquiries relating to the Burren Ecotourism Network phone  Edel Hayes 065 7072295. Relating to Ecotourism Ireland – Mary Mulvey, Chief Executive –  + 353 (0) 87 6841531

To celebrate International Slow Food Grandmother’s day coming up on Saturday 16th April this year – Slow Food would like to invite its members and their friends to send a favourite recipe from their grandmother and or a food memory or recollection from childhood and we will publish them on the Slow Food website. It would be extra special if we could include a photo of grandmother or grandmother and yourself beside the entry. This could build into a wonderful resource and Slow Food Grandmothers archive which can be added to on an ongoing basis. Please email submissions to and see


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