ArchiveJuly 2011

Baking in the Countryside

Vickie and Tristan lived in a chic little mews house behind Paddington Station in Central London, but when they inherited a beautiful ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottage with an Aga beside a fishing cove close to Landsend they decided to move, lock stock and buggy to Cornwall with their toddler Tonsley and baby Briar. Before starting a family, Vickie was a full time counsellor and psychotherapist, her husband Tristan is a marine biologist and oyster farmer who needs to travel backwards and forwards to London a lot.

So how did they adjust to a quiet rural life in the country?

Two and half year old Tonsley loves cooking, Vickie loves baking and desperately wanted to get to grips with the Aga – baking in the Aga is a quite a different skill!

There was lots of trial and error, fun and tears and lots of tempting treats but no matter how delicious, there are only so many cakes you can eat!

Their house is just above the little fishing cove of Penberth close to the coastal path which attracts lots and lots of walkers even on week days.

Traditionally the family, like many in Cornwall, had a roadside stall with an ‘honesty box’ where they sold bunches of choice daffodils and lilies in season.

You’ve guessed, Vicky decided to cover the stall with a pretty cloth; she added a posy of flowers and laid out a tempting plate of brownies with a reasonable price tag of around £1 each and waited to see the reaction – they were snapped up.

Next she tried a whole cake and left out a knife so walkers could cut themselves a slice. To her surprise, people normally cut smaller slices than she would have offered and there was often more money in the ‘honesty box’ than she expected plus an occasional little note of delight and appreciation. Cornish cream teas (scones sandwiched with jam and cream) Brownies and Passion cake are all favourites and at Easter she got high praise for her Simnel cake and sold three full cakes within a couple of days.

When something doesn’t quite turn out according to plan Vicky writes a note and shares the story of the ‘wonky cake’ or less than fluffy brownie and her growing fan club of locals and walkers love it and forgive the imperfections – but she tells me she’s definitely improving and is really “getting the hang of the Aga.”

The little cake-stall is over two miles from the nearest local shop and much further from a café so you can imagine, it is, as one delighted walker wrote ‘like a mirage in the desert’

Vicky has added homemade lemonade to her offering in response to a request from a thirsty walker – what a lovely idea – and one that can easily be replicated in many country and coastal areas in Ireland to delight visitors and provide a bit of ‘pin’ money for stay-at-home mums. Here are some of the suggestions.



Vickie Hugh-Jones’s Passion Cake

It’s not surprising that this is a favourite with Cornish walkers.

Serves 8 – 10

Cooking time: 65 minutes approx.

200g/8oz grated carrot
50g/2oz chopped walnuts
2 ripe bananas, mashed
200g/8oz light muscavado sugar
3 eggs
250g/10oz plain flour, sifted
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 level teaspoons baking powder
180ml/6 fl.oz vegetable oil

250g/10oz mascarpone
200g/8oz cream cheese
200g/8oz sifted icing sugar
pulp of 1 passion fruit, strained to separate seeds (zest of 1 orange can be used alternatively)

23cm/9inch round cake tin
Pre-heat oven to 180C/Gas 4/350F. Place walnuts and mashed banana in a bowl. Add sugar and eggs. Sieve flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into the bowl. Add oil and mix all these ingredients together well. Finally add the carrots and combine into the mixture. Place the mixture into a greased and lined 23cm/9″ cake tin and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven and cook for 65 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the middle. Turn onto a cooling rack.


Put the icing sugar, mascarpone and cream cheese into a bowl and mix until soft and creamy. Gradually beat in enough passion fruit (or orange zest) so that the mixture continues to hold it’s texture. When the cake is cool, spread the mixture over the top. A rough finish will look appropriate.  


Coffee Cake with Toasted Hazelnuts


This is a splendid recipe for an old-fashioned coffee cake. Everyone loves it. I’m a real purist about using extract rather than essence in the case of vanilla, but in this cake, I prefer coffee essence (which is actually mostly chicory) to real coffee.

Makes 2 cakes each serving 8

225g (8oz) soft butter

225g (8oz) caster sugar

4 organic eggs

225g (8oz) plain white flour, preferably unbleached

1 teaspoon baking powder

scant 2 tablespoons Irel or Camp coffee essence


Coffee Butter Cream


150g (6oz) butter

330g (12oz) icing sugar, sieved

3–6 teaspoons Irel or Camp coffee essence



To Decorate


toasted hazelnuts or walnut halves

2 x 20cm (8in) round sandwich tins

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

Line the base of the tins with circles of greaseproof or silicone paper. Brush the bottom and sides with melted butter and dust lightly with flour.

Beat the soft butter with a wooden spoon, add the caster sugar and whisk until pale in colour and light in texture. Whisk the eggs. Add to the mixture, bit by bit, whisking well between each addition.

Sieve the flour with the baking powder and stir gently into the cake mixture. Finally, add in the coffee essence and mix thoroughly.

Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 30 minutes. When the cakes are cooked, the centre will be firm and springy and the edges will have shrunk from the sides of the tins. Leave to rest in the tins for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Remove the greaseproof paper from the base, and then flip over so the top of the cakes don’t get marked by the wire rack. Leave the cakes to cool on the wire rack.

To make the coffee butter cream, whisk the butter with the sieved icing sugar and add the coffee essence. Continue to whisk until light and fluffy.

When cold, divide the coffee butter cream evenly and ice the top and sides of the cake, pipe with a few rosettes of coffee butter cream around and on top of each cake. Decorate with the toasted hazelnuts or walnut halves.

Hazelnut Chocolate Brownies

Everyone has their own favourite brownie recipe and indeed we have several – this is definitely one of the greats.

Makes 9 generous brownies.

275g (10oz) chocolate

275g (10oz) butter

5 organic eggs

350g (12oz) granulated sugar

175g (6oz) self-raising flour

110g (4oz) chopped hazelnuts

cocoa powder, for dusting

deep tin 30 x 20 x 5cm (12 x 8 x 2in)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/ gas mark 4. Line the tin with silicone paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a Pyrex bowl over hot but not simmering water. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture becomes a light mousse. Gradually add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mousse. Fold the flour into this mixture. Finally add the chopped hazelnuts. Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the surface and cook in the preheated oven for 35–40 minutes. The centre will be slightly wobbly. Leave to sit in the tin to cool and cover the tin with a large rectangular plate or tray.

When set, turn out by flipping the tin carefully. Peel off the silicone paper. Place another tray on top of the brownies to turn them right way up. Cut into squares, dust with cocoa and serve.

Homemade Lemonade and Variations 

If you keep some chilled ‘stock syrup’ made up in your fridge homemade lemonade is simple to make. They contain no preservatives so they should be served within a few hours of being made. Many different types of citrus fruit may be used.


Stock Syrup


Makes 825ml (28fl ozs)


450g (1 lb) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water

To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed. This quantity is enough for several batches of lemonade.




Homemade Lemonade


Best enjoyed on the day it’s made.


Serves 10-12

6 lemons.

350ml (12fl oz) approx. syrup

1.4L (2 1/2 pint) approx. still or sparkling water

lots of ice





sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm


Juice the lemons and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste. Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.



Orange and Lemonade


4 lemons

2 orange

350ml (12fl oz) approx. syrup

1.4L (2 1/2 pints) approx. water





sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm


Juice the fruit and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste. Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.





5 limes

750ml (1 1/4 pint) water

300ml (10fl oz) stock syrup

ice cubes




sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm


Make and serve as above. Taste and add more water if necessary.


Ruby Grapefruit Lemonade


freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons

freshly squeezed juice of 4 ruby grapefruit

450ml (16floz) stock syrup

water or sparkling water to taste

Juice the fruit, add the syrup and add water or sparkling water to taste.

Serve chilled with mint ice cubes.





Fresh blackcurrants are difficult to come by

unless you grow your own. There are only six commercial blackcurrant growers in Ireland – all in Wexford – who export their berries so I was delighted to hear that Des Jeffares from Ballykelly Farms Wexford will now sell direct so you can stock up your freezer for the Winter. The quality is excellent. Des is a member of Good Food Ireland so you can out find more info about his blackcurrants at – or contact him directly 087-2867455.

Look out for Irish blueberries – they’ll be in the shops until early September so enjoy them while you can. John Seager at at Derryvilla Farms, Portarlington, Dublin sells fresh blueberries, contact:, 0578642882. Claire Phelan from Rose Cottage Fruit Farm in Co Laois sells blueberries at the following farmers markets… Mahon Point on Thursdays, Midleton and Limerick Milk Market on Saturdays and directly from their farm – contact Claire on 087-2700121 (See my article next week for Blueberry and Cinnamon Sugar Slice recipe)

Stop the Food Waste Campaign at the EPA has done research that proves that 50% of the lettuce we buy ends up in the bin – they offer this advice to make your lettuce last longer. “Make sure to take the lettuce out of the bag when you buy it and wash it as soon as possible. Spin in a salad spinner and store in the fridge still in the spinner. Leave a small amount of water in the bottom of the spinner and top up if needed. This keeps the lettuce fresh, it lasts longer and you have a ready supply of washed lettuce.”


We’ve been in Bordeaux for a couple of days celebrating Jean Pierre Moullé’s significant birthday. Friends from all over the world arrived by train, boats and planes – all gathered together to eat, drink and be very merry. Jean Pierre, one of the head chefs at Chez Panisse in Berkeley Californiais married to Denise Lourton of the Lourton wine dynasty in Bordeaux, so we dined well. We also had a tasting of the wines in the new cellars at Chateau Louvière, later we wandered through the steep cobbled streets of St Emilion in search of the veritable macaroons and cannelles of Madame Blanchet. We found it beside the post office.

In St Emilion not surprisingly, every second shop sells wine. There must be thirty or more. How do they all survive?

Madame Janine Ooyle came to Chateau Bonnet with a chest of wonderful old French linen to tempt us and we chatted and feasted and how!

It’s so sublime to live in a climate where one can lay long tables in the gardens and depend on the weather. Each evening we started with a little selection of anti pasti to nibble with an aperitivo. Little morsels of succulent local eel,  fried in butter with a little chilli and shreds of parsley, rillettes with crusty bread, skewers of cured acorn –Pata Negra fed jamon, vegetables á la greque, moules á la bordélaise, prunings from old grape vines gave the grilled veal and côtes de boeuf a delicious smoky flavour. It was served, simply with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, green and yellow haricot beans, fresh from the garden. At every meal there was superb cheese from the famous local cheese shop Jean Dalos inBordeauxand bowls of exquisitely flavoured fresh summer berries as well as peaches, apricots and nectarines. Gorgeous simple food perfect to share.

At another meal there was a delicious ratatouille served with a succulent slow roasted gigot of lamb and a chocolate birthday cake to set your heart racing.

The recipe for St Emilion macaroons is a closely guarded secret but this recipe is easy and delicious, one can eat them just as they are or sandwich them together with a chocolate filling – a favourite variation.


Cherry Tomato, Basil Leaf and Bocconcini on Bamboo Sticks

A simple tasty Summery bite to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine.

Makes 24

24 Cherry tomatoes

24 Fresh basil leaves

24 Bocconcini – use Irish Mozzarella if available

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Italian extra virgin olive oil


Flat bamboo cocktail sticks


Thread a ripe cherry tomato, fresh basil leaf and a bocconcini onto a flat bamboo cocktail stick. Arrange on a plate. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper. Continue until all the ingredients are used up. Eat soon


Pork Rillettes


Serve on crostini or crusty bread


Serves 12–15


500g (1lb 2oz) pork shoulder

500g (1lb 2oz) fatty pork belly (rindless)

300g (1lb 2oz) homemade lard

2 tablespoons juniper berries

2 teaspoons peppercorns

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs of thyme

salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly grated nutmeg

2 teaspoons thyme leaves


Preheat the oven to 120°C/250ºF/ gas mark 1⁄2.


Cut the pork shoulder and pork belly into small pieces, about 1cm (1⁄2in) wide. Put 100ml (31⁄2fl oz) water and the fat into a casserole and add the meat. Tie the juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme sprigs into a small, loose muslin bag and add it to the casserole.


Warm the pot gently for a few minutes on a low heat. It mustn’t boil, or the meat will stick and congeal. Cover the casserole tightly and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for about 4 hours, by which time the meat will be meltingly tender and slightly browned.


Leave the meat to cool for a few minutes, remove the muslin bag and then pull the meat into shreds with two forks. Taste and season well, adding a little grated nutmeg and some thyme leaves.


When you are happy with the flavour, transfer the rillettes to an earthenware pot or pots. Pack it down well, cover with silicone paper and leave to mature for a day or two in a fridge or cold larder.


Serve with warm crusty bread or toast and maybe a few crunchy cornichons or radishes to nibble on. We also love to accompany them with Beetroot and Ginger Relish.


Rillettes will keep in a fridge or cold larder for up to 3–4 months, depending on the quality of the pork used.



Mussels à la Bordelaise


Serves 6


18 lbs (8 kgs) of mussels, well washed

1 lemon

2 ozs (50 g) streaky bacon, cut into ¼ inch (5 mm) lardons

2 slices white bread, cut in ¼ inch (5 mm) cubes for croutons

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

2-4 heaped tablespoons parsley, coarsely chopped

extra virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper


First open the mussels. You may want to scrape off any barnacles from wild mussel shells, but this is not essential. Wash the mussels well in several changes of cold water. Then spread them in a single layer in a pan, covered with a folded tea-towel or the lid and cook over a gentle heat – no need to add any liquid. This usually takes 2–3 minutes; the mussels are cooked just as soon as the shells open (cockles and palourdes can be cooked in the same way). Remove them from the pan immediately or they will shrink in size and become tough. 

Just as soon as they open, remove the beards but leave in the shells. Put into a warm bowl. Strain the mussel juice through a fine sieve, add the juice of ½-1 lemon. Put it back on a high heat and pour over the mussels. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, add a little oil and the lardons of bacon, cook until the fat runs out and the bacon is crisp and golden. Remove to a plate, add a little more oil to the pan, add the croutons and continue to cook until they too are crisp and golden. Add the garlic, the crispy lardons and the parsley. Toss for a second and scatter over the mussels in the bowl. Serve immediately in deep bowls.

Chocolate Mousse with Almond Macaroons

Serves 6


110g (4ozs) good quality dark chocolate

110ml (4fl ozs) cream

1-2 tablespoons rum, brandy, or grand marnier, or 1 teaspoon grated orange rind (optional)

2 eggs, separated


pouring cream

6 Almond Macaroons (see below)


Chop the chocolate finely.  Bring the cream up to the boil, turn off the heat, add the chocolate to the cream and stir it around until the chocolate melts in the cream.  Add in the alcohol, if using, and whisk in the egg yolks.  Whisk the egg whites until just stiff, then stir in a quarter of the egg white, fold in the rest, gently, being careful not to knock all the air out.  Pour the mousse into a glass or cup and pop into the fridge for an hour or two to set.  Serve with pouring cream and almond macaroons.


NOTE This is great without the macaroon too, just as a plain chocolate mousse

For a really intense chocolate mousse, leave the two beaten egg whites out and serve in tiny espresso cups.

Little amaretti biscuits are also really good here, instead of the coconut macaroons.

Almond Macaroons


Makes 12-16


These are so simple to make and can easily keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container.


110g (4ozs) ground almonds

75g (3ozs) caster sugar

1 egg white, lightly beaten


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


Put the ground almonds, caster sugar and the egg white into a bowl and stir to combine.  It should be firm, but slightly sticky.  Roll small dessertspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Flatten slightly with a wet fork.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until pale golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Note: These are also good with the grated zest of 1 lemon or orange mixed in with the coconut/almonds and sugar.

Desiccated coconut can also be used instead of ground almonds in the above recipe.


Chocolate St. Emilion


Pop one or two macaroons into individual glass or china ramekins, spoon a tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of good brandy over the top.  Fill the ramekins 3/4 full with the chocolate mousse.  Cover and leave overnight.  Next day, serve with lots of thick pouring cream.

French Chocolate Cake with Crystallized Violets


One of several incredibly rich chocolate cakes, use the best chocolate you can buy, Valrhona, Menier, Suchard or Callebaut.


4 ozs (110g) best quality dark chocolate (We use Lesmé or Val Rhona chocolate)

2 tablespoons Red Jamaica Rum

4 ozs (110g) butter, preferably unsalted

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

3 free-range eggs

1 tablespoon) castor sugar

2 ozs (50g) plain white flour

2 ozs (50g) whole almonds


Chocolate Icing

6 ozs (175g) best quality dark chocolate

3 tablespoons Red Jamaica Rum

6 ozs (175g) unsalted butter


crystallized violets or toasted almonds or praline


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


Grease two 7 inch (18 cm) sandwich tins and line the base of each with greaseproof paper.  Melt the chocolate with the rum on a very gentle heat, peel the almonds and grind in a liquidizer or food processor they should still be slightly gritty. Cream the butter, and then add the castor sugar, beat until light and fluffy.   Beat in the egg yolks.  Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.   Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of castor sugar and continue to whisk until they reach the stiff peak stage.   Add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture and then add the almonds.   Stir in 1/4 of the egg white mixture followed by 1/4 of the sieved flour.   Fold in the remaining eggs and flour alternatively until they have all been added.


Divide between the two prepared tins and make a hollow in the centre of each cake.


IMPORTANT: Cake should be slightly underdone in the centre.  Sides should be cooked but the centre a little unset.  Depending on oven it can take between 19 and 25 minutes.


Chocolate Butter Icing

Melt best quality chocolate with rum.  Whisk in unsalted butter by the tablespoon.   Beat occasionally until cool.  When the cake is completely cold, fill and ice with the mixture.   Pipe the remaining icing around the top and decorate with crystallized violets or toasted flaked almonds.


Hot Tips


Slow Food East Cork Celebrate Coffee with Mark Kingston

Tuesday August 9th 7pm The Grain Store at Ballymaloe House

Mark will teach the secrets of coffee beans and coffee roasting. Cup of coffee included

Slow Food Members €5  Non Slow Food Members €6

Booking Essential: 021 4646785 or email


Clonakilty Waterfront Festival 2011

Sunday July 31st Farmers Market 12-4pm. A wonderful opportunity to sample West Cork artisan produce. Visit for the details.

Contact Eithne Hart 087 414 5729 for further information.


Marsh Samphire is in season now. Contact Michelle Walsh on 086 345 8710

To cook: you need 8oz (225g) Marsh Samphire or Sea Asparagus

1-2ozs (25-50g) butter

Wash the marsh samphire well. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, throw in the samphire, return to the boil for 3 or 4 minutes, drain. Toss in a little melted butter. Keep warm.


A Taste of Russia

The Ballymaloe Cookery School operates throughout the year with everything from one day, two and half day and week courses as well as three, three month certificate courses every year. Students come from all over the world, this time there are 14 different nationalities, so our little village of Shanagarry becomes even more cosmopolitan. Some of the students have never held a wooden spoon in their hands before; and others are chefs and may be experts in a particular area but are anxious to learn the basics and some classic techniques.
Among the May students is a Russian girl called Katya Pal who has taken a three month sabbatical from her job with the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature.) She comes from a family that love to cook and eat together and although they live in the heart of Moscow, the also have a ‘dacha’ (a little house in the country) where they can grow fruit and vegetables in their garden.
Katya surfed the internet to find a cookery school and came across Ballymaloe. She explained that she was at once taken with the idea of attending a cookery school on an organic farm, where she could learn about food production and hone her cooking techniques.
“Since I saw the Ballymaloe website with its gardens and the farm and ecological approach to food, I could hardly think of anything else” Katya said. Hitherto I was hard-pressed to name more than three or four Russian dishes.
So what do I know about Russian Food – I’m embarrassed to say very little, I’d heard about blini and bortsh and Beluga caviar and the dreaded Russian salad but after that I was stumped.
Katya intrigued us with descriptions about the food of her homeland so I asked her to cook some of the dishes for a Slow Food event to raise money for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches local children how to cook.
Katya made a list of 30 or 40 recipes that she desperately wanted to share with us. We had to whittle the list down to seven or eight that could be squished into a 2 hour cookery demonstration.
It was a totally inspirational evening and an eye opener to those who may have had a pre-conceived idea about Russian food. Katya told us about her food culture and wove wonderfully colourful stories of food and cooking in and out through the evening. We learned about the Russian stove, a unique type of fire oven which first appeared in the 15th Century and is designed to retain heat for long periods of time by channelling hot air through a complex labyrinth of passages thus warming the bricks, creating a cosy spot on top for some of the family to sleep during the winter. This unique Russian oven has spawned many slow cooked dishes. Food acquires a distinctive character by being cooked this way.
Here are just a few of the recipes that she shared with us.

Cold Beetroot Soup
Soups are very important in Russian cuisine and one can’t really have a proper lunch or dinner without it. This refreshing cold beetroot soup is excellent on a hot sunny day. Bortsh is more usual in Winter.

Serves 6

300 g (11 ozs) beetroot peeled
Beetroot stalks chopped 1 cm (½ inch) long
1 litre (1¾ pints) of water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of sugar
2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar

3 hard boiled eggs, free range and chopped
Bunch of parsley, dill, spring onions, mint – chopped
6-8 radishes chopped in cubes of ½ cm (¼ inch)
Half a large cucumber chopped into cubes of ½ cm (ۘ¼ inch)
1 small onion, finely chopped with salt and lemon juice

100 g (3½ ozs) sour cream

Boiled new potatoes – either whole and hot on the side, or cool and grated in the soup

Boil peeled beetroot in 1 litre (1¾) unsalted water. It is important not to add salt at this stage as this will spoil the colour. Just before the beetroot is fully cooked add the beetroot stalks and continue cooking until the beetroot is ready. Take off the heat and cool. Remove the beetroot from the saucepan and grate back into the cooking liquid. Add salt, sugar and vinegar (or lemon juice). Adding vinegar enhances the colour of the soup.

Mix the chopped accompaniments together and allow the guests to add as much of these as they want into their bowls with soup. Add a spoon of sour cream into each bowl.

You can also serve this soup with hot boiled new potatoes on the side, or add some cold grated potatoes to the soup (this way the soup will be more filling). Adding some horseradish or mustard to the filling or mixing it with sour cream before serving is also delicious
Tip: the accompaniments of this soup also makes a great salad on their own – dress it with sour cream and mayo (half and half)

Katya Pal’s Salmon Cake

A variation of popular Russian salads that use boiled potatoes and mayonnaise as a base. This salmon salad is also great to serve as a starter at a dinner party. It is called a “cake” because of its cake-like shape (but it is neither sweet nor baked).

Serves 8-10

3 large boiled potatoes grated (largest grate)
300 g (11 ozs) salted salmon, thinly sliced and chopped in pieces of about 2 cm (¾).
1 onion, finely chopped
150 g (5 ozs) grated semi-hard cheese (Gruyere or Cheddar)
2 carrots, boiled and grated
2-3 green eating apples, grated
3 hard boiled eggs, free range, finely chopped
1 can (100-130 g) salted salmon eggs
½ litre (18 fl ozs) of home-made mayonnaise (should not be too thick – you may want to add some lemon juice and sugar, sour cream or water to make it more runny)

Take a flat plate and assemble a round layer of grated boiled potatoes in the middle. Drizzle some homemade mayonnaise over the potatoes. Then put some sliced salmon on top.  Add more mayonnaise. Add layers of finely chopped onions, cheese, carrots, apples, boiled eggs one by one, drizzle with mayonnaise in between each layer. Cover the top of the salad with salmon eggs. Cool in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving. Cut into cake-like slices to individual plates.

Blini (plural for “blin”) are traditional Russian very thin pancakes. Blini had a somewhat ritual significance for early Slavic peoples being a symbol of the sun, as they are round, yellow and hot! They were traditionally prepared at the end of winter to honor the rebirth of the new sun (Butter Week, or “Maslenitsa”).  This tradition was adopted by the Orthodox Church and is carried on to the present day. Maslenitsa week is held just before the start of the Big Lent (which would come to its end at Easter). Huge piles of blini are eaten in this week.

There are many ways to make blini and each household in Russia would use a different recipe. Below is just one –  it uses milk as a base, but you can experiment by adding buttermilk or yogurt or water instead of milk, or, if you have time and courage, making traditional yeast batter. A blini is somewhat similar to a crêpe, the main difference being that traditionally yeast has been used for blini.

For 12-15 blini:
3 free range eggs, separated
700 ml (1¼ pints) of milk
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon non-scented oil
250 g (9 ozs) of white flour

To fry:
half onion, chopped

To Cover:
100 ml (3½ fl ozs) cleared butter

Mix egg yolks, a cup of milk, salt, sugar, oil and flour – stir till smooth, add rest of the milk. Beat the egg whites stiff and add to the mixture. Stir carefully so that some of the foam stays in the batter.  The mixture should be quite runny.

Put a saucepan with water on a low simmer and cover with a plate. As each blini is cooked place on the plate and cover with a with a lid – this will keep the blini hot while you are frying the rest of the blini.

Place half an onion on a fork, dip into some cooking oil and spread just enough oil to cover a heavy cast iron frying pan.. Using a large spoon pour some of the batter in a circular motion into the pan. Remember that blini should be thin. My grandmother used to say that a real blin is the one you can read a newspaper through. If the batter is too thick – just add water.

Once fried, brush each blin with some clarified butter to prevent them from sticking to each other and place on the warming plate until ready to use. Brushing the blini with clarified butter also gives a wonderful taste! Blini are served with smetana (sour cream), caviar, salmon eggs, herring, salmon,  jams or coulis.

Once you have mastered blini it is easy (and very tempting) to make “blinchiky” – which are blini filled with different types of fillings, folded and refried.

Meat filling:
200 g (7 ozs) cooked minced beef
2 onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil
Black pepper

Heat some oil or clarified butter in a pan and fry the onions gently until they caramelize.  Add the cooked minced beef, season well. Put 2 generous tablespoons of the mince filling into each blin, fold into envelopes, fry on cleared butter or oil on two sides. Serve with sour cream.

Fried mushrooms and onion, “tvorog” (Russian curd cheese), apple and cinnamon, potatoes and mushrooms all make delicious blini fillings. It is important that the fillings have a dry texture so that it does not run out of the blinchiky. All types of blinchiky as well as blini are served with smetana.

You may freeze your blinchiky after filling and then fry them later.

Katya Pal’s Medovik – Layered Honey Cake
Russian cakes are numerous and each family have their own secret recipes. This Honey Cake is an easy and delicious cake to make. This cake should be made one day in advance and kept refrigerated.

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon of soda
½ teaspoon of vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice
320 g (11 ozs) wheat flour
200 g (7 ozs) sugar
2 free range eggs

500 g (18 ozs) sour cream – look carefully labels to ensure it does not contain starch. (we used Glenilen)
100 g (3½ ozs) castor sugar

Chocolate Icing (optional):
6 teaspoons of cocoa powder
6 teaspoons of sugar
1tablespoon of butter
70 ml (2¾ fl ozs) milk

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

Melt butter in a small saucepan, add honey and soda (mix soda with lemon juice or vinegar – this will create a foam, add this to the butter and honey and stir.)

Beat the eggs with the sugar, add the flour then add the butter and honey mixture. Split the dough in 5 equal parts. Spread one part on the bottom of a round baking tray and bake for 5 minutes in the preheated. Take the pan out; allow to cool, take the pastry out. Bake all five layers one by one.

Beat sour cream with sugar until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is steady. Put the first layer on a cake plate, cover with beaten sour cream, put next layer and so on. If you wish to make chocolate icing leave last layer without sour cream.

To prepare icing melt the butter in milk in a small sauce pan, add the sugar and cocoa powder and stir  continuously until it is rather thick but still liquid. Pour the hot icing over the cake. Cool and put into a fridge until tomorrow’s feast.

Katya Pal’s Klukovka – Cranberry Vodka

This is a fun party drink for those who prefer lighter drinks to straight vodka. Sour cranberries work well as they neutralize the alkali in vodka.

Makes 1 litre (1¾ pints)

500 g (18 ozs) of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
150 g (5 ozs) of sugar
700 ml (1¼ pint) of vodka
350 ml (12 fl ozs) water

Mix the cranberries and the sugar in a food processor. Add the water and vodka. Leave for 3-5 days and pour through a sieve or a cheese cloth (depending on the level of clarity you’d like to have) Serve cold in frozen shot glasses.

If you don’t have time and patience, bring the cranberries, water and sugar almost to the boil, cool to about 30 C, add vodka, strain, put into a freezer and drink when cold.

Non-Alcohol Klukovka

500 g (18 ozs) cranberries
1.5 litres (2½ pints) water
200 g (7 ozs) sugar

Bring the cranberries, water and sugar to the boil. Wait until it cools down and strain.


Experience the wonderful food and culture of Cork – tasting Cork city with Alice Coyle of Fabulous Food Trails. Every Saturday morning they set out to discover the best local tastes of Cork, often veering off the beaten track to discover some little gems. The Cork Trail is a relaxed but highly-focused two and half hour walking tour for enthusiastic foodies or those who are just interested in seeing and tasting the best of Cork. The tastings are generous and frequent, taking in different markets, cheese mongers, fishmongers, butchers, bakers… meeting the people who produce some of the best food in Ireland. The Food Trail leaves every Saturday morning at 10am – contact Alice Coyle on 086 8090456 or visit

Garden Workshop with Susan Turner – Designing Herbaceous Borders – good plant choices for a long season of interest with vibrant colour combinations and contrasts in texture and form. Half Day Course on Monday 18th July, 9:00am to 2:00pm €95.00 including lunch at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Shanagarry, Co Cork. 0214646785

Chez Panisse

Chez Panisse is a legendary restaurant and café in Berkeley, California. For almost 40 years its simple menu of local, seasonal and organic food has been an inspiration to chefs and cooks, not just in America but across the world. The founder Alice Waters is a hero, not only to farmers and producers for the network she set up and encouraged others to do the same but, also to parents and teachers because of her Edible Schoolyard project which she started way back in 1995.
Alice has been a hero of mine since I first met her in the mid-eighties so you can imagine just how thrilled I was when she invited me go to Chez Panisse to do a book signing and a dinner to celebrate the American edition of my Forgotten Skills book. Better still Chez Panisse featured recipes from my book on their menu all week long and the books sold out on the first evening. It says a lot about what’s happening at grassroots level in the US, that a book which features chapters on foraging in the wild, sausage making, curing your own meat, butter-making, preserving and instructions on how to use left-overs and inexpensive cuts of meat and offal was nominated for an IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) cookbook award. There is a food revolution brewing in the US, all over the country, people from every age-group, race and background are getting involved in initiatives to improve the quality of food in schools. Troops are mobilising to demand reform of the Farm Bill which like European CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) comes up for renewal in 2013. The Farmers Market and Community Assisted Agriculture initiatives, organic box schemes and urban gardens on waste land in cities are gathering momentum. Supermarkets like Whole Foods and Central Market have little stalls inside the door offering a free piece of fruit to every child.
One man I met started a vegetable garden in the grounds of a local hospital; the produce is used by the catering team with very little food waste because it is so appreciated.
All over the country there is a frenzy of growing, in response to the fast food culture of mass produced denatured food. The change is coming from the ground up, not from the top down, although Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden on the lawn of the White House sent a strong message to Americans that it’s time to start digging their own Victory Gardens once again. Everywhere I went I met people who told me the safest food is what you grow in your own backyard, the recent e-coli scandal hasn’t helped and as mistrust in the factory farming systems grows; the movement for do-it-yourself food continues to gather momentum.

Chez Panisse Fresh Mozzarella Salad

This is the perfect recipe in which to enjoy Toby Simmonds Irish mozzarella (see Hot Tips.) As in all simple recipes, success here lies in the quality of the ingredients. You must begin with very fresh mozzarella, the kind still floating in its milky whey. For this reason, locally make cheese is preferable. At Chez Panisse they make their own mozzarella and serve it within hours while it is still soft and creamy.

Serves 4

225g (8oz) fresh mozzarella
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
fresh basil, marjoram, parsley, mint or thyme

Optional: Vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, sliced prosciutto, olives.

Have the mozzarella at room temperature. Cut it into the ¼ inch slices and arrange on a platter. Season very lightly with sea salt and generously with freshly ground pepper.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Roughly chop the herbs (one herb or a combination) and scatter them over the cheese.
Serve the cheese salad very plain, or add an assortment of different coloured cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and salted; surround with prosciutto slices and decorate with black olives.

Chez Panisse Garganelli Pasta with Fava Beans (Broadbeans)

It’s not uncommon in informal cafes in Europe to see waiters peeling garlic during a quiet time. At Chez Panisse, they peel fava beans – lots of them. Sometimes the customers standing at the bar help out. It is a time consuming process, to be sure, shucking and peeling all those beans, but rewarding when you taste a dish like this one. The combination of pasta, fava beans and sheep’s milk is especially delicious when the favas are young and tender. Young fava beans are also good served Tuscan style, eaten raw with salami.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) garganelli pasta (or penne pasta)
extra virgin olive oil
900g (2lbs) fava beans in the pod – to be parboiled and peeled (see note)
165g (6oz) thinly sliced spring onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh savoury
freshly ground black pepper
a few drops of lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
110g (4oz) ricotta salata cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta in the salted water until it is al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the fava bean ragout. Heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over a moderate heat. Add the fava beans, onion, garlic, rosemary and savoury and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently cook the mixture until the onions are soft and the fava beans are tender – about 5 minutes. Do not let the vegetable brown much; add a splash of water as needed. The ragout should be a bit moist by the end of cooking.
Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and add the fava bean ragout. Stir over a low heat until the pasta is thoroughly coated, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems dry. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to the mixture and taste of seasoning.
Transfer the pasta to a warmed bowl. Sprinkle the top with chopped parsley. Use a sharp vegetable peeler to cut shavings of the ricotta salata over the top. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.
Note: To prepare the fava beans (broadbeans), shell them and parboil very briefly in boiling water (30 seconds to 1 minute) Plunge the beans into cold water to stop the cooking. Pop each bean out of its pale green outer skin by pinching with thumb and forefingers.

Warm Lamb Salad with Pomegranates and Walnuts

Serves 4

1 rack of lamb (approx. 2lbs/900g weight)
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons olive oil
a pinch cayenne
a few thyme branches

1 shallot, diced fine
2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar (Forum)
2 tablespoons walnut oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 large handfuls curly endive, dandelion, or rocket, washed

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Trim the lamb rack of excess fat and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cut the garlic into fine slices and insert them in to the flesh along the bone. Mix the pomegranate molasses, olive oil and a pinch of cayenne. Rub this mixture over the surface of the meat. Scatter the thyme branches over. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.  Bring back the roast to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Roast the rack of lamb for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 51.6°C/125°F.

Allow the roast to rest on a warm platter, lightly covered, for 10 minutes or so.

To make the vinaigrette.
Macerate the shallot in the vinegar with a pinch of salt for 15 minutes. Whisk in the walnut oil and the extra virgin olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

In a large bowl, season the greens lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the vinaigrette. Pile the dressed greens in the centre of a large platter. Slice the lamb rack into chops and surround the salad with them. Sprinkle the salad with the walnuts and pomegranate seeds, spoon some of the roasting juices over the meat and serve.

Pollo al Mattone with French Beans, Roast Onions and Sage, Parsley and Garlic Oil

This Italian stovetop method for cooking chicken under a brick traditionally uses a whole young chicken, split down the back and flattened.  The result is a deliciously crisp, well-cooked bird.  In Chez Panisse café, they adapted the technique for boned chicken legs.

Serves 4

4 organic free-range chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs, attached)
salt and pepper

65ml (2 1/2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
finely grated zest of lemon

350g (12oz) (8oz) French beans, cooked al dente in boiling salted water (see recipe)
350g (12oz) onions, peeled, quartered and roasted in extra virgin olive oil in an oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 5 until tender and slightly caramelised

Sage, Parsley and Garlic Oil
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
175ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve
Potato Crips (see recipe)

Lemon wedges

Bone the chicken legs, opening them out into large flat pieces with the skin intact.  Trim the excess fat from the edges.  Season both sides of each piece with salt and pepper and refrigerate.

Put the olive oil in a small saucepan.  Add the thyme leaves and warm gently for 1-2 minutes over a low heat, add the lemon zest and allow to cool, add the chicken legs.

Heat a large cast-iron grill or frying pan over a medium heat.  When the pan is hot, remove the chicken legs from the oil.  Lay skin side down on the pan in a single layer. Lay another cast-iron or earthenware pan on top (a clay brick was used originally).

Cook for about 15 minutes on the skin side, checking occasionally to make sure it is browning evenly.  Reduce the heat if the legs are cooking too quickly.  Turn the legs over and cook for a further 5 minutes, uncovered.  The skin should be crisp and golden, and the flesh tender.  Meanwhile cook the onions and beans and keep warm.

To make the sage, parsley and garlic oil.
Mix the chopped garlic, sage and parsley (these should be chopped at the last minute), add to the extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To Serve
Put a crispy chicken leg, skin side up on a hot main course plate, surround with a mixture of roast onions and French beans.  Drizzle with sage, parsley and garlic oil.  Add a segment of lemon and a mound of potato crisps and serve immediately.

Homemade Potato Crisps

Making chips at home is definitely worthwhile – a few potatoes produce
a ton of crisps and nothing you buy in any shop will be even half as delicious. A mandolin is well worth buying for making chips – but mind your fingers! When these are served with roast pheasant they are called game chips.

Serves 4

450g (1lb) large, even-sized potatoes
extra virgin olive oil or beef dripping for deep-fat frying

Wash and peel the potatoes. For even-sized crisps, trim each potato with a swivel-top peeler until smooth. Slice them very finely, preferably with a mandolin. Soak in cold water to remove the excess starch (this will also prevent them from discolouring or sticking together). Drain off the water and dry well.

In a deep-fat fryer, heat the oil or dripping to 180ºC/350ºF. Drop in the dry potato slices a few at a time and fry until golden and completely crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat until they are all cooked.

If they are not to be served immediately, they may be stored in a tin box and reheated in a low oven just before serving.

Chez Panisse Apricot Bread Pudding

Apricots are in season at the moment, there are lots in the shops so this is an opportunity to try this recipe from Chez Panisse.

Serves 6 – 8

8 fresh apricots cut in small wedges or150-175g (5-6oz) dried apricots, sliced, 1 ¼ cups of sugar


7 egg yolks
75g (3oz) sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
450ml (16fl oz) half-and-half or whole milk
450ml (16fl oz) cream
grated zest of 1 orange
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon kirsch

Optional: 110g (4 oz) good quality almond paste, cut in pea-size pieces
About 450g (1 lb) brioche, pain-de-mie, or good day-old homemade white bread, cut into ½-inch cubes.

In a small saucepan, simmer the apricots in 225ml (8fl oz) and 60g (2½oz) of the sugar. Poach the fruit until tender, 5 minutes for fresh or about 12 for dried,. Drain the fruit, saving the liquid, and set the fruit aside to cool. Return the poaching liquid to the saucepan and add the remaining 225g (8oz) and 112mls (4floz) water. Boil this mixture, and when it begins to brown, swirl the pan so that it caramelises evenly. Cook to a medium amber colour. Very carefully pour the hot caramel into a 2-quart gratin dish or divide it evenly among six ramekins. Cool.
Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl. Slowly add 75g (3oz) sugar and mix well. Whisk in the half and half or milk and cream. Add the orange zest, salt, vanilla and almond extracts, nutmeg, and kirsch. Gently fold in the poached apricots, the almond paste, if using and the bread cubes. Transfer the pudding mixture to the gratin dish or ramekins. Let rest at least an hour or refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Mark 5. Sprinkle a little sugar over the top of the pudding. Place the gratin dish or ramekins, on a baking sheet to catch any overflow. Bake until nicely browned, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Variation: Substitute prunes for the apricots and Armagnac for the kirsch.

The Irish Artisan food sector continues to excite and innovate. Toby Simmonds has twice imported buffaloes from Italy and now has a 46 strong herd of buffalo.  He followed his dream to make an Irish Mozzarella and now if you rush, the tender hand rolled result can be found on the olive stall at the Midleton and Mahon Point Farmers Markets. It tastes distinctly Irish – tender and delectably herbaceous. Mark Hosford has also been experimenting and he too is making a mozzarella but this time from the beautiful milk of the Kerry cow which is apparently closest to Buffalo. He too sells at Mahon Point, Mallow, Douglas and Emmet Place in Cork City.
Both are well worth seeking out – a wonderful new addition to the artisan offering.
Toby Simmonds – – 087 635 1954.
Mark Hosford – – 086 6351954

When Madeleine Murray and Maire Carney returned to Ireland after their travels (Madeleine was an archaelogisit and Maire was a solicitor) they racked their brains to think of how to make a living in a different way – Madeline learned how to make a variety of sushi and taught her pal. This is traditional sushi, but with an Irish twist, using local ingredients like Roscarbery black pudding or Ummera smoked duck and chicken and the freshest fish to make classic sushi recipes. Find them at Kinsale Farmers Market every Tuesday and Mahon Point Farmers Market every Thursday.  0866620801

Summer Barbeque

What is it about barbeques that brings out latent culinary skills in even the most kitchen shy lads; perhaps it is the primeval thrill of playing with fire that generates a rush of excitement. As a nation despite the inclement weather we’ve taken to the barbeque with huge enthusiasm. Virtually every house has a barbie in some shape or form. There’s so much choice nowadays from disposable trays available in petrol stations to sturdy hibachi with adjustable racks or cute little barbecues in girlie colours.   The top of the range gas grill doubles as an outdoor kitchen and can be used from January to December. I’ve cooked on them all but I’m a big fan of the kettle grill with domed lid – this gives you many more options and some can double up as a smoker.
Before you go shopping, you’ve got to consider your lifestyle and what you want from your barbecue, does it need to be portable or can it be a fixture?.  Do you want to cook for large parties or just a few family and friends?   Are you a purist or a pragmatist – will it be charcoal or gas?   I like to have both options, depending on the occasion.
One of the more important elements of a barbecue is the facility to control the height of the food over the source of heat.  This is vital, particularly when you want to cook a large joint of meat evenly.  With gas, it’s just a click of the switch and then you are in business.
Charcoal is a whole lot trickier.   It’s vital to light the barbecue well in advance.  A good trick is to line the base of the barbecue with tin foil to reflect the heat upwards.
Don’t use firelighters and certainly don’t resort to petrol – screwed up paper, kindling and long matches are fine.  Pile the charcoal into a pyramid and once lit leave it alone.
Meanwhile, prepare the food.  Lay it out in manageable size portions on trays.  Make lots of sauces, relishes and salads – many people make the mistake of overdoing the meat.  Trim excess fat off the meat or it will catch fire and create lots of flame.   There are masses of easy and delicious marinades that can be made in minutes but a very good bottle of extra virgin olive oil, Irish Sea Salt, Maldon or Halen Mon sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper are the essentials. Add fresh herbs, particularly the gutsy ones like rosemary, thyme and sage, or freshly cracked spices to ring the changes. Yoghurt tenderizes but drain well before cooking, otherwise it will stick and burn, as will items doused in sweet barbecue sauce. When the coals are ready they should have burned down to a grey ash with glowing red coals underneath.  Spread them out a bit at one side to create a cooler area if it is needed. Use long-handled tongs and have a mister close by to douse flames if necessary.
Best of all, enjoy the thrill of the grill, practice makes perfect. Sausages are fine there’s a whole lot more out here so here are a few deliciously simply suggestions.

Asian Chilli Chicken Breasts
Seek out organic or at least free-range chicken.

Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 tablespoons runny Irish honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice


1 spring onion, diagonally sliced
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves

4 x 35cm (14inch) flat metal skewers

Cut each breast lengthwise into 3 strips.  Combine chilli, garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce and lime juice.  Reserve 4 tablespoons of the mixture.  Add chicken to remaining mixture and toss to coat evenly.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Thread 3 chicken strips on to each skewer.  Grill over a medium-hot coals, turning every 2 minutes, until cooked through (8-10 minutes).  Drizzle over reserved sweet chilli mixture.  Sprinkle with spring onion, chilli, mint and coriander leaves.  Serve hot.

Chargrilled New Potato Skewers

Serves 4-6

900g (2lb) small new potatoes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, approximately
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
sea salt

metal skewer or pre-soaked bamboo skewers

Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes. Cool. (the potatoes may be cooked ahead). Cut in half, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary and sea salt.
Thread the potato halves onto the skewers. Cook potato halves over a barbeque until crisp and slightly charred on both sides. Alternatively roast in a hot oven 230ºC/450ºF/gas mark 8 for 10-15 minutes or until cooked and nicely brown – you may need to turn half way through.
Lamb Tikka Masala with Naan Bread and Tzatziki

Serves 8

2kg (4lb 8oz) leg or shoulder of Irish lamb cut into 4cm (1 1/2 inch) cubes

3 tablespoons grated ginger
6 garlic cloves
1-2 green chillies
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
3 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons turmeric
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
300ml (10fl oz) natural yoghurt
salt and freshly ground black pepper

bay leaves

To Serve
naan bread or pitta bread

flat kebab skewers

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Add the lamb cubes and toss well in the spicy yoghurt.  Marinade for 1-2 hours.

Thread the lamb pieces on to a skewer with bay leaves between the cubes.  Grill over moderately hot coals for a couple of minutes on each side – you’ll need to stand over them and keep turning them otherwise they will stick.

Serve with tzatziki and naan bread.

Chargrilled Quesadillas with Tomato Salsa, Feta or Mozzarella and Guacamole

Mightn’t occur to one but quesadillas can also be made on the barbecue and are delicious.

Serves 4

8 x  20cm (8 inch) flour tortillas
100g (3½oz) Gruyere cheese, grated
200g (7oz) feta cheese, crumbled or Mozzarella

Tomato salsa – see recipe
4  Spring onions, chopped
Guacamole – see recipe

Spread the tortilla with a quarter of the Gruyere cheese.  Put a layer of tomato salsa on top and sprinkle with some chopped spring onion.  Sprinkle with a quarter of the Feta or Mozzarella.  Lightly place a second tortilla on top.   Assemble the remaining tortillas in the same way. (This could be done up to 4 hours beforehand – cover with cling film and keep at room temperature).
Grill over medium-hot coals until lightly browned and the Gruyere is melted, this should take about 2 minutes on each side.
Cut into wedges with a sharp serrated knife.   Serve hot with tomato salsa and guacamole.

Tomato and Coriander Salsa

Serves 4-6

Salsas of all kinds both fresh and cooked have now become a favourite accompaniment to everything from pangrilled meat to a piece of sizzling fish.

4 very ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½-1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.


One of my most treasured possessions is a dark green pottery bowl with a coarse textured interior; it was specially made in a village in the Oaxacan valley in Mexico to make Guacamole.  I carried it and the lava rock pestle the whole way home and have enormously enjoyed using it ever since.

Serves 2-4

1 ripe avocado, preferably Mexican
1 clove garlic, crushed
1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice (as a last resort)
1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh coriander
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper .

Scoop out the flesh from the avocado.  Mash with a fork or in a pestle and mortar with the garlic, add the freshly squeezed lime juice, a little olive oil, chopped coriander, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Pan grilled Mackerel with Parsley Butter or Green Gooseberry Sauce

This is a master recipe for pan grilling fish.
The simplest and possibly the most delicious way to cook really fresh mackerel.

Serves 1 or 2

2-4 fillets of very fresh mackerel (allow 6 ozs (170g) fish form main course, 3 ozs (85g) for a starter)
seasoned flour
small knob of butter

Parsley Butter
2 ozs (50g) butter
4 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

segment of lemon

First make the Parsley Butter.
Cream the butter, stir in the parsley and a few drops of lemon juice at a time. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.
Heat the grill pan.

Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with some slices of Parlsey Butter and a segment of lemon.

Parsley Butter may be served directly on the fish, or if you have a pretty shell, place it at the side of the plate as a container for the butter. Garnish with parsley and a segment of lemon.

Green Gooseberry Sauce

Use the tart hard green gooseberries on the bushes at the moment, they make a delicious sauce.

10 ozs (285g ) fresh green gooseberries
stock syrup to cover – 6 fl.ozs (175 ml) approx.
a knob of butter (optional)

Top and tail the gooseberries, put into a stainless steel saucepan, barely cover with stock syrup, bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit bursts.  Taste.  Stir in a small knob of butter if you like but it is very good without it.

Una’s Handmade Gourmet Pies.
Thai Green Curry Pie, Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie, Mince and Onion Pie, Steak and Guinness Pie, Goats Cheese and Roasted Vegetable Pie…how delicious does that sound and they are. Una Martin uses Woodside Farm’s bacon, Gubbeen chorizo, Ardsallagh goats cheese, Waterfall Farm vegetables, Ballyburden Farm beef and the lamb is from Sheehan’s butchers in Douglas, for her pies encased in an irresistible homemade crust. Available at Mahon Point Farmers Market every Thursday and Douglas Farmers Market every Saturday. Contact 087 2859957.

Ovencrafter Hendrik Lepel  will teach a hands-on two day workshop on how to build your own outdoor  wood fired bread / pizza oven on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th July -10am to 4.30pm – at Coolibah, Belgooly, Kinsale. Cost €150.00 per person  and includes lunch on both days. To book phone Hendrik 086-8838400 or  kirdnehl@hotmail –

Canapes, Finger Food and Tasty Bites – half day course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday 28th July 2011 – 9:30am to 1:30pm – lunch included – 021 4646785.


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