ArchiveFebruary 2012


A table at Noma restaurant in Copenhagen is one of the hottest most sought after meal slots in the whole world. Curious chefs and food lovers from all over the world fly into Copenhagen to eat at this simple restaurant which has defined the gastronomy of a whole nation and established a flow of food tourism that benefits not only Noma but a growing number of other restaurants in Copenhagen and the hinterland. So why is Noma causing such a sensation.  Well, chef Réne Redzepi and his team cook and serve Nordic ingredients proudly. The food is fresh, seasonal and much is foraged from the wild. The food is incredibly delicious. But Noma is not just about the food, the whole experience challenged many of our concepts of how food should taste and be served.

On arrival at Noma, a converted herring warehouse, you walk down three or four steps, the kitchen is directly ahead – you are greeted by several of the chefs, then shown to your table, the room is simple yet incredibly sophisticated and then the feast begins. Lots of little snacks in quick succession, then the pace slows down, the dishes are slightly larger, virtually all are vegetarian. In an exquisite meal of virtually 20 courses, we had meat just twice, tiny medallions of bone marrow in one and paper thin slices of duck breast in another.

I hadn’t even noticed the absence of meat until someone mentioned it in passing. A beautiful celebration of vegetables and wild foods. At Noma the chefs not only plate the food in the kitchen but also help to serve the food to the guests, such a simple brilliant concept, the chefs normally hidden behind closed doors get to experience the guests reaction to their food and Noma has simply one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. There are three Irish chefs in the kitchen, one of whom is a past student of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Louise Bannon who did a 12 Week Certificate Course in 2002 bakes bread and does many of the delicious desserts. The bread was delicious, served warm in a little felt nest with the most incredibly delicious butter I have ever tasted in my entire life and that’s high praise coming from someone who makes butter virtually every day from our own Jersey cream.

When I enquired, another one of the young chefs came to the table to tell me all about it. It’s made by a Swedish couple who have just five goats. They stop the butter just when the cream is starting to split, drain and wash it and serve the curdled butter fat at that stage, completely delicious, I want to go and visit them.

Rene Redzepi had recently published his Noma Cookbook in English – a beautiful tome published by Phaidon.  The photograph’s are amazing and give you an idea of the presentation.  There are also several interviews with Rene on YouTube to whet your appetite.  Noma is really worth the trip to Copenhagen but there’s tons more, don’t miss Hermann in Tivoli, Manfred’s, Aamanns, Meyers Deli and great coffee in Coffee Collective.



Smoked Quail Eggs

From Noma – Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine – Rene Redzepi


10 quail eggs

20g hay

50g birchwood chips

200g water

100g rosehip vinegar


Hay to serve




Blanch the eggs for one minute 30 seconds and cool them in ice water. Blanch them again for 50 seconds, cool and peel them. Take care not to break them – eggs cooked for such a short time are very soft and fragile. Finally smoke the eggs for around 20 minutes on a slotted gastro tray in a smoker by heating it slowly with hay and chips.




Mix the water and vinegar, and pickle the eggs in a vacuum-bag for 10 minutes. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.





Cut the hay into short lengths and use it to fill the base of an oval serving dish. Make a small incision in the bottom of each egg and lay them on the hay. With a hand held food smoker burn hay into the serving dish and cover quickly, trapping the smoke in the dish.



Grilled Lamb Shank and Ramsons Leaves, Yellow Beetroot and Elderflowers

From Noma – Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine – Rene Redzepi



4 small lamb shanks

50g lamb glace (reduced lamb stock)

25g large ramsons (wild garlic) leaves

30 small yellow beetroots (beets)

350g large yellow beetroot (beet)


apple balsamic vinegar

1 bunch elderflower blossom (optional)

60g elderflower cordial (syrup) available at the Ballymaloe Cookery School Shop

a little butter

lamb glace, to serve


Lamb Shank


Vacuum-pack the shanks with the lamb glace and ramsons (wild garlic leaves) and cook them at 63°C (145°F) for 24 hours.




Divide the beetroot into 2 groups by size. Cook the smaller group in water until tender and then peel. Peel the bigger group and slice finely on a mandolin. Keep in ice water for 10 minutes to crisp them, and then dry.


Peel the beetroot, juice in a juicer and then reduce the juice to one third. Pour all the juices from the bags containing the cooked lamb shanks into a bowl and add a few tablespoons of the reduced beetroot juice. Season with salt and vinegar.




Cut the flowers into smaller sprigs and keep refrigerated until serving.




Char-grill (charbroil) the lamb shanks and glaze in a few tablespoons of warm lamb glace. Place a portion of meat in the centre of each plate. Heat the cooked beetroot in a little butter and a few drops of cordial. Drop the raw beetroot into the rest of the cordial for a few seconds to sweeten. Add the raw and cooked beetroot to the plate; add the elderflowers and finally the sauce.


Potato Crisps with Anise and Chocolate

From Noma – Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine – Rene Redzepi



2 Bintje potatoes (Golden Wonders or any floury potato)

800ml grapeseed oil


400g couverture chocolate

20g powdered cocoa butter

4g green anise seeds

4g fennel seeds




Peel the potatoes and slice them finely into cold water. Leave the slices in the cold water until the starch has rinsed out and then pat dry. Heat the oil carefully in a deep fryer to approximately 170°C (340°F) and fry the potatoes until crisp. Cool on grease absorbent paper.


Covering and Serving


Melt the chocolate and the cocoa butter and bring to 50°C (120°F). Temper it to 27°C (80°F) and then increase the temperature back up to 30°C (85°F). Pull the potatoes through the tempered chocolate to cover them completely, and then cool on a tray. Sprinkle the anise and fennel seeds over the potatoes before they have cooked completely.




The Herring Gull Restaurant at Inn by The Harbour in Ballycotton is open again after a short winter break for weekends only until April. Book a table with a view of the island and lighthouse and enjoy spanking fresh fish straight from the boats – try the Hot Buttered Oysters with Asparagus on Toast and the Roast Cod with Ballycotton Shrimp Risotto, really good! Phone 0214646768 to book.


Garden Workshop at Ballymaloe Cookery School – Creating a Soft Fruit Garden with Susan Turner on Monday 5th March 9am to 2pm – lunch included. In this intensive course, Susan will guide you on the choice of fruit varieties, designing the fruit garden layout, looking at aspect spacing and plant training structures, as well as protection from birds and understanding the general principles behind pruning. Creating fans, cordons and bushes with gooseberries, red currants, white currants and jostaberries. Understanding the general principles behind pruning blackcurrant bushes, loganberries and tayberries. Propagation of soft fruit.

Phone 0214646785 to book.

Guest Chef Mikael Viljanen

From time to time we invite a chef whose food we admire and enjoy, to come to the school to teach a guest chef course.

Last weekend a Finnish chef who has been making waves in Co Clare for the past few years bounced into the school to share his skills, techniques and boundless enthusiasm for food.

Mickael Viljanen took over the kitchen at Gregans Castle on the edges of the Burren in 2007 and soon began to cause a stir.  In 2011 he was awarded Best Chef in Ireland by both Food & Wine Magazine and the RAI (Restaurant Association of Ireland). People travelled far and wide to taste his food often falling in love with Co Clare in the process.

Like all good chefs he is passionate about the quality of his raw materials, but he is also fascinated and intrigued by technology and the possibilities of the many new and gadgets that can extend his range of textures, flavours and the impact of his food.

The audience at his course was a mixture of keen amateurs, chefs and students, so Mickael chose a variety of dishes that could be cooked either by traditional or more avant-garde methods. He demonstrated the advantages of the sous vide technique. He cooked a crown of chicken in a vacuum pack in a water bath at 63º for two and half hours. This produced moist succulent chicken which he then seared off before serving to crisp and caramelise the sweet skin. This was served on a bed of lentils with Gubbeen pancetta and fresh tarragon.

Rosé veal cheeks were also cooked slowly for four hours and served with a quenelle of rich mashed potato, pickled herb stalks and puffed rice –a delicious combination.

To make the puffed grains we needed a dehydrator but could also have been done in a very low oven. They were then popped in hot oil to create long grain rice, spelt,  quinoa or wild rice crispies.  The contrast of flavours and textures was delicious and like many talented chefs, he teased the flavour out of inexpensive cuts of meat (order beef cheeks ahead from your butcher) and with long slow cooking transformed them into a triumph.

For several other dishes he added pinches of Trimoline, Methocel and Ultratex.  These products were totally unfamiliar with but after this course we can have fun experimenting. A siphon originally used to aerate cream can be used in a myriad of ways to add lightness to both sweet and savoury dishes.

Mickael oomphed up a Jerusalem artichoke soup with cepes (dried mushrooms) sabayon and some micro greens. Even a Bamix (stick blender) can be used to produce a cheffy foam and lots of bubbles and fizz.

We all know chefs who do lots of tricksy stuff on plates, but the end result doesn’t necessarily deliver on flavour but Mickael’s food certainly does.

Dinner at Gregans Castle is a special treat, one can choose 3 – 5 or 7 courses with lots of little extras thrown in but if you are in the area don’t miss the simple and delicious lunch food served in the bar also (you’ll need to book)

Here are a few of the recipes that Mickael wowed us with.


Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Mickael Viljanen Gregans Castle


Jerusalem artichokes have an affinity with thyme.


100g (3 1/2oz) butter

700g (1 1/2lb) Jerusalem artichokes, peeled, diced and vac-packed to prevent discolouring

150g (5oz) finely sliced shallots

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

2 sprigs of thyme

150g (5oz) Riesling

1.5 kg (3lb 5 oz) white chicken stock

600g (11/4 lb) cream

salt and freshly ground white pepper


Soften the shallots in the butter.  Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the artichokes and sprigs of thyme and cook without discolouring for a further 4 minutes. Add the Riesling and reduce to a syrup, add the stock and simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour in the cream and cook until artichokes are fully softened, remove the thyme and purée in a blender.  Taste and correct the seasoning.



Pickled Herb Stems

100g of long herb stems eg: dill, fennel, chervil or even parsley (use the leaves for another use)

200ml (7floz) white wine vinegar

200g (7oz) castor sugar


Mix the white wine vinegar with the sugar and salt. Vac pack the herb stems in 5 separate bags, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of pickle to each bag and vacuum on full pressure. Alternatively lay the herbs in a non-reactive dish overnight, cover with the pickle. Infuse for 24 hours.

A totally delicious way to use up herb stems – serve with roasts, stews, braises…



Roast Chicken, Lentils and Bacon Stew

Mickael Viljanen Gregans Castle


Serves 8


4 x 1.2 kg (2 1/2lb) chicken crowns (we used Dan Ahern’s chicken)

200g (7oz) butter and sunflower oil

4 sprigs of tarragon

4 sprigs of thyme

Maldon salt

freshly ground white pepper


To Serve

Lentil and Bacon Stew (see recipe)


Season the chicken inside out.  Place the chickens in individual vac-packs with 50g (2oz) of butter and a sprig of each herb and vac-pack on full pressure. Put in a 63°C/145°F water bath for 1 3/4 hours. Dan Ahern’s organic chicken which we used are larger so they took 2 ½ hours to poach (2 served 8 people.) Take out and cool to room temperature, remove from the bag. Brown the skin side of the chicken in oil until caramelised, carve and serve with Lentil and Bacon Stew.


Lentil and Bacon Stew

Mickael Viljanen Gregans Castle


Serves 10-12


500g (18oz) Puy lentils

100g (3 1/2oz) butter

8 shallots finely diced

250g (9oz) carrot cut into ¼ inch dice

250g (9oz) celeriac cut into ¼ inch dice

250g (9oz) celery cut into ¼ inch dice

2 sprigs of thyme

10 pieces dry cepes in muslin bag

300g (11oz) smoked Gubbeen bacon lardons

2.5 litres (4 1/2 pints) chicken stock

600g (11/4lb) cream reduced slowly to 300g (11oz)

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoon tarragon, freshly chopped


Soak the lentils overnight, change the water and bring to a simmer. Rinse lentils again.  Melt the butter and sweat vegetables with the cepes and bacon. Add rinsed lentils and the chicken stock. Simmer until just cooked. Drain extra liquid if there is any left, remove the muslin bag. Stir in the reduced cream. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cover for 10 minutes. Fold in freshly chopped tarragon and serve as desired.



Hazelnut Shortbread

Mickael Viljanen Gregans Castle


600g (1 1/4lb) flour

400g (14oz) salted butter

200g (7oz) icing sugar

seeds of 2 vanilla pods



toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

grated orange zest

sprinkling Maldon Sea salt


To Serve

castor sugar


Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas Mark1 fan oven


Put the flour, butter, icing sugar and vanilla pod seeds in a food processor. Whizz until it begins to clump together (alternatively mix in a bowl until the mixture forms a dough.)  Shape into a log. Roll out the mixture between two sheets of greaseproof paper to the thickness of a €1 coin. Transfer to a baking tray. Sprinkle the top with toasted finely chopped hazelnuts, grated orange zest and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.


Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until light golden in colour. Once cooked cut into fingers whilst still warm. Sprinkle with castor sugar and serve.



Hot Chocolate Mousse

Mickael Viljanen Gregans Castle

I reckon it’s worth considering investing in a siphon bottle just to make this super quick chocolate mousse.


Serves 10


400g (14oz) dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped (Mickael used Opera  but you could use a less bitter chocolate if you prefer)

300g (11oz) egg white

300g (11oz) cream


Scald the cream and pour on to chocolate, mix with a hand blender. Add the egg whites and blitz until smooth. Put into siphon bottle – don’t fill more than ¾ – charge with C02 gas and keep at 45°C/113°F.

Serve in little glass pots with a little crème fresh, crystallised orange peel, frosted mint leaves, fresh raspberries…




Gregans Castle re-opened on Friday 10th February 2012


Source some Trimoline, Methocel and Ultratex at Vanilla Ventures in Co Kildare, ask for Rocky  Or try MSK Food Ingredients for all these food products –


Have fun drying banana, orange, beetroot, mushroom slices, we bought our dehydrator from Liam Lennon at Enhancing Health and Wellness – 01 4429958 – –


If you want to oomph up your food Siphon bottles and CO2 gas capsules can be bought from catering suppliers or mail order from Nisbets 021 4946777


One of my granddaughters celebrated her 10th birthday recently; her most exciting birthday present was a one day fashion course for children to learn how to stitch, sew and dress make with Fashion Designer Mia O’Connell – how cool is that?


2 Dozen Oysters and pint of Stout for my Valentine

Never before or since does Valentine’s Day create so much excitement as when I was a boarder at the Dominican Convent in Wicklow in the 1960s. I can still feel the nail biting anticipation – would I get a Valentine card? The suspense was excruciating as we waited for the postman to arrive. There was so much at stake, it was incredibly important to one’s image and standing in the class – even one card would ’do the trick’ but some girls managed to get three or four. On one memorable occasion a ‘Dublin girl’ got a record six – talk about envy and jealousy. It kept us guessing and giggling for weeks trying to interpret cryptic messages. Was it from a ‘real’ boy or just your parents or a kindly aunt or uncle making sure you didn’t lose face – hope sprang eternal!

Well thank goodness to we have outlived and survived all that but every time I see a rack of Valentines cards it all comes flooding back and the sweetness of getting a card from a genuine secret admirer – bliss!

It’s still just as much fun to celebrate and giggle and little gestures and surprises are as potent as ever. Don’t fret if you find that your favourite restaurant has booked out well ahead. How about an early or slightly late celebration – just as much fun and you’ll get an even bigger welcome from the maître d’. Meanwhile you can plan and cook up a delicious Valentine’s Day dinner; maybe it’ll be a fancy feast with lots of bells and whistles or if you and your hubby have been jogging along for years how about their favourite comfort food. Maybe it’s rice pudding and or something bizarre like chocolate carrageen moss – in fact I know a chap who hankers after that even though it doesn’t do it for me!

My ultimate treat would be two dozen native Irish oysters with a glass of smooth Dungarvan or Eight Degrees Stout from Mitchelstown.

I also love guinea fowl for a treat, they have a mild gamey flavour and are delicious roast – one bird is ample for two hungry people and it marries perfectly with all of the winter vegetables. If you’d rather a substantial but inexpensive winter warmer try lamb shanks with butternut squash, chickpeas and spinach with couscous.

You’ll need a green salad before this delicious chocolate tart. It makes more than even two greedy people can eat but you can always continue celebrating and enjoy it again next day.


Two Dozen Oysters and a pint of Artisan Stout



What could be easier or more delicious than a couple of dozen freshly shucked oysters with Irish soda bread and a pint of creamy Irish artisan stout.


Serves 2



2 to 4 dozen native Irish oysters

Black Rock Dungarvan Stout or Eight Degrees Knockmerldown Porter

seaweed or sea salt

brown soda bread



It’s wise to protect your hand with a folded tea towel when opening oysters.  Wrap the tea towel round your hand, then set the deep shell on it with the wide end on the inside.   Grip the oyster firmly in your protected hand while you insert the tip of the knife into the hinge and twist to lever the two shells apart; you’ll need to exert quite a lot of pressure, so it’s foolhardy not to protect your hand well.   Then slide the blade of the knife under the top shell to detach the oyster from the shell. Discard the top shell, then loosen the oyster from the deep shell, flip over to reveal the plump side, don’t lose the precious briny juice.


Arrange on two plates on a bed of seaweed or sea salt.


Serve with segments of lemon, some brown soda bread and a couple of glasses of stout.



Aromatic Lamb Shanks with Butternut Squash, Chickpeas and Spinach


Serves 6


3 tablespoons olive oil

6 lamb shanks

2 medium onions sliced

2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon each of freshly ground coriander and fenugreek

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

450g (1lb) of ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped or 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

1lt (1¾ pints) of lamb or chicken stock

1 butternut squash 2 ½ lbs – deseeded and cut into chunks 1 ½ inches

2 x 400g (14oz) tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

200g (7oz) spinach or sliced Swiss chard

lots of fresh coriander leaves





natural yoghurt (optional)


Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat; brown the lamb shanks on all sides. Transfer to a casserole, then add a little more oil and the chopped onions to the pan and toss and fry gently for a couple of minutes over a low heat until softened. Add the garlic and continue to cook for a minute or two. Stir in the tomato puree, freshly ground spices and chilli flakes, fry for two minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar. Stir, add the hot stock, bring to the boil then pour over the lamb shanks in the casserole – it should almost cover the meat. Put a tight fitting lid on the casserole, transfer to a pre heated moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Mark 4. Continue to cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the lamb shanks are tender, add the squash cubes and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes until everything is cooked through. Remove the lamb shanks to a warm serving dish with a slotted spoon, taste the broth, reduce a little to concentrate the flavour if necessary. Add the chick peas to the casserole, bring back to the boil, add the spinach and allow it to wilt in the sauce, taste, correct the seasoning. Serve each lamb shank with lots of sauce and some couscous. Sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves and add a dollop of natural yoghurt to each helping if you wish.



Pan Roasted Guinea Fowl with Parsley Sauce



Many pheasant and chicken recipes work really well for guinea fowl, too. But if you want to really enjoy the mild gaminess, don’t mask it with an overpowering sauce. Try this delicious recipe, kindly given to me by Skye Gyngell when she came to teach at the cookery school.


Serves 6


6 guinea fowl supremes (whole breasts with a little bit of wing attached)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a little light olive oil, for cooking


For the Parsley Sauce

150g (5oz) curly parsley, stems removed, plus extra for serving

500ml (18fl oz) double cream

freshly grated nutmeg

11⁄2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, or to taste

salt and freshly ground pepper


First make the parsley sauce. Put a pan of well-salted water on to boil (it should be as salty as the sea).

Plunge the parsley into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and refresh in iced water (to keep your parsley a beautiful, bright colour). Drain and set aside.

Pour the cream into a heavy-based pan and bring almost to the boil. Turn down the heat and leave it to bubble and reduce by about one-third, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the blanched parsley and boil for a moment longer. Remove from the heat and purée in a blender until you have a beautiful fine texture.

Add a generous grating of nutmeg and the lemon zest, then season well with salt and a good grinding of pepper. Your sauce is now ready; keep it warm.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/gas mark 7.

Season the guinea fowl generously with salt and freshly ground pepper all over. Place a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and heat until smoking. Pour in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then brown the guinea fowl in batches by laying 2 supremes in the pan, skin-side down, and leaving to colour for 3 minutes (resist the temptation to play with them). Transfer the supremes to a baking tray (without turning them) and brown the rest of them in the same way.

Finish cooking the guinea fowl in the oven for 8 minutes, until the skin is crisp and crunchy and the breast meat is succulent, moist and cooked through. Leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.

Arrange the guinea fowl supremes on warm plates, on a bed of swede purée if you like, and ladle the warm parsley sauce generously over the top. Scatter chopped parsley on top and serve.


Chocolate Valentine Tart


This tart is best made the night before if possible.


Sweet Pastry (line 1 x 9 1/2 tin)


175g (6ozs) plain flour

75g (3ozs) butter, cold and cubed

25g (1oz) castor sugar

15g (1/2 oz) icing sugar

1/2 large egg, beaten


In a food processor, pulse together the butter, sugar and flour to give coarse, ‘flat’ breadcrumb texture.   Add egg and pulse again until the pastry comes together.  Tip onto a sheet of cling film, form into a roll and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.


To line tin

Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of Clingfilm.  Invert into the tin and mould into ring.  Cover with cling film and let rest in fridge for 30 minutes or freeze until needed.


To blind bake, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, remove cling film, line the pastry case with baking parchment and beans and bake for 20-25 mins approx. Remove from the oven and brush with egg wash. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes further to dry off. The tart base should be fully cooked.  Let case cool, patch any cracks.



200g (7ozs) dark chocolate

150g (5ozs) butter

3 organic, free-range egg yolks

2 organic, free-range eggs

40g (1 1/2 ozs) castor sugar


Melt chocolate and butter together – either over a bain marie or carefully in a heat proof bowl in the oven.  With electric beaters, beat the eggs, yolks and sugar until pale and thick – about 5 minutes.  Fold in chocolate and beat briefly to amalgamate.  Pour into blind baked case and bake at 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 for 6 minutes. It should still be slightly molten.  Cool completely and serve.



Chocolate Carrageen Moss Pudding


Serves 4-6


½ oz cleaned, well-dried carrageen moss (2 semi-closed fistfuls)

900ml (1 1⁄2 pints) whole milk

1 vanilla pod or 1⁄2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 organic egg

2 tablespoons caster sugar


To Serve


soft brown sugar and softly whipped cream or a compote of fruit in season


Soak the carrageen in a little bowl of tepid water for 10 minutes. It will swell and increase in size. Strain off the water and put the carrageen into a saucepan with the milk and the vanilla pod, if using. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, covered, for 20 minutes. At that point and not before, separate the egg, put the yolk into a bowl, add the sugar and vanilla extract, if using, and whisk together for a few seconds, then pour the milk and carrageen moss through a strainer onto the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time. By now the carrageen remaining in the strainer will be

swollen and exuding jelly. You need as much of this as possible through the strainer and whisk it into the egg and milk mixture. Blend cocoa with a little of the milk and add to the hot strained carrageen. Test for a set in a saucer as one would with gelatine.

Whisk the egg white stiffly and fold or fluff it in gently; it will rise to make a fluffy top. Serve chilled with caster sugar and cream.



Old Fashioned Rice Pudding


A creamy rice pudding is one of the greatest treats on a cold winter’s day. You need to use short-grain rice, which plumps up as it cooks. This is definitely a forgotten pudding and it’s unbelievable the reaction we get to it every time we make it at the Cookery School. It’s always the absolute favourite pudding at my evening courses.


Serves 6–8


100g (31⁄2oz) pearl rice (short-grain rice)

50g (2oz) sugar

small knob of butter

850ml (1 1/2 pints) milk


1 x 1. 2 litre (2 pint) capacity pie dish


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


Put the rice, sugar and butter into a pie dish. Bring the milk to the boil and pour over. Bake for 1–1 1/2 hours. The skin should be golden, the rice underneath should be cooked through and have soaked up the milk, but still be soft and creamy. Time it so that it’s ready just in time for pudding. If it has to wait in the oven for ages it will be dry and dull and you’ll wonder why you bothered.


Serve with softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar.





Native and Gigas Oysters are available from K. O’Connells in the English Market. Meet the O’Connell brothers Pat and Paul at the Market who charmed the Queen of England when she visited their fish stall last year –

Gardening Courses at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Building a Willow Structure with Norbert Platz on Monday 20th February 2012, 9:00am to 2:00pm. On this intensive course you will learn how to harvest and prepare willows and the basic techniques needed to create a variety of willow structures in your own garden.

Compost Making and Soil Management with Susan Turner on Monday 19th March 2012, 9:00am to 2:00pm. Whether you are interested in making compost for a small garden, a small holding or larger, this course will teach you the most important aspects of how to tackle it correctly. Both courses cost €95.00 – lunch included. 021 4646785 –

Fresh Winter Salads

I’m so longing for some fresh tasting salad after weeks of comforting stews and braises – I of-course love those but I’m now ready for some light crunchy winter vegetables with clean zingy dressings. I know one normally associates Spring and Summer with salads but cold weather vegetables make great salads too – chicory, fennel, celery, kale, romanesco, carrot, parsnip and the humble cabbage, both red and green, I must have six or eight cabbage salads in my repertoire and no doubt I’ll add a few more – and I’m not even counting the ubiquitous coleslaw.

Celery is of course available year round but like many vegetables it become sweeter if it gets a touch of frost, I use the outside leaves for the stock pot and the inner leaves for soups, stews and risottos, the tender little yellow heart has a particularly subtle taste and are good in salads or as a delicate element on a plate of crudités with aioli.

The several types of radicchio, mostly named after towns near Venice, Treviso, Chioggia, Tardivo have a clean bitter sweet flavour, an acquired taste but so cleansing after winter.

Chicory another slightly bitter vegetable is great in winter salads and partners well with apples, walnuts, rocket, blue cheese and of course pears.

On a recent trip to Copenhagen, a Danish cook and friend Camilla Plum made this delicious kale salad with a dressing of cream and lemon juice, reminiscent of what my grandmother used to make. Kale the most nutritious of all the brassicas is now much more widely available and this is a particularly appetising way to serve it.

I’ll also include my ‘other’ daughter-in-law Penny’s recipe for cabbage salad. We made it here at the school recently and the students couldn’t get enough of it, an inexpensive, nutritious and totally delicious salad for the weekend.


Sweet Winter Slaw

Taken from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published by Ebury Press


This salad will bring colour to your winter dinner table and liven up any meal. You can leave out the caramelized macadamias, if you like, or use roasted peanuts instead. Consider serving the slaw with Chard or roast chicken.


Serves 6


150g macadamia nuts

10g butter

2 tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp chilli flakes

7 inner leaves of Savoy cabbage (170g in total), finely shredded

½ red cabbage (270g), finely shredded

1 mango, cut into thin strips

1 papaya, cut into strips

1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

15g mint, leaves picked and roughly chopped

20g coriander, leaves picked and roughly chopped




100ml lime juice

1 lemongrass stalk, chopped into small pieces

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp soy sauce

¼ tsp chilli flakes

4 tbsp light olive oil or sunflower oil


To make the dressing place all the ingredients, except the oil, in a small saucepan and reduce over a high heat for 5–10 minutes, or until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat. Once cooled down, strain the sauce into a bowl and add the oil. Put aside for later. To caramelize the macadamias, place them in a frying pan and dry-roast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly coloured on all sides. Add the butter. When it has melted add the sugar, salt and chilli flakes. Use a wooden spoon to stir constantly to coat the nuts in the sugar as it caramelizes. Watch carefully as it will only take 1–2 minutes and the sugar can burn quickly. Turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Cool the nuts, then roughly chop them. Place the shredded cabbages in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients, including the nuts. Add the dressing and toss together. Taste and add more salt if you need to, then serve.


Curly Kale Salad with Lemon and Cream


This is reminiscent of my grandmother’s dressing for lettuce, sounds a bit shocking but you are not going to eat the whole bowl yourself. Half natural yoghurt could be substituted for full cream.


Serves 10 – 12


450g (1lb) curly kale (225g (8oz) when destalked

lemon, finely grated zest and juice of one lemon

25g (1oz/1/8 cup) sugar

250ml (9oz) cream

Sea salt – scant teaspoon or to taste


Strip the kale off the stalks, chop the leaves very finely and toss into a bowl. Grate the zest of the lemon directly onto the salad. Add the freshly squeezed juice, a good sprinkling of sugar and some sea salt. Toss, pour over the cream and toss again.

Taste and add a little more seasoning if necessary – totally delicious.


Penny’s Cabbage Salad


This delicious recipe was given to me by my daughter-in-law Penny.


Serves 4


1/2 Savoy cabbage, finely shredded

1 fennel bulb (optional), finely shredded

2-4 tablespoons fresh herbs – parsley, chives, mint, finely chopped



2 tablespoons Forum vinegar

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped teaspoon grain mustard

1 large clove of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon honey

Maldon Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the salad.

Thinly slice the cabbage and fennel bulb is using.  Transfer to a roomy serving bowl and add the freshly chopped herbs and toss.


To make the vinaigrette.

Mix all the ingredients together in a jam jar and shake well before use.


To Serve

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the cabbage, fennel and herbs and mix gently.  Serve immediately.



Bittersweet Salad

Taken from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published by Ebury Press


I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day. This is due to cowardly cynicism, combined with a firm belief that you cannot just create a momentous intimate occasion, especially when millions of other couples are trying to do exactly the same. It just feels a bit claustrophobic. But if you twisted my arm and forced me to, I guess I would choose this salad to celebrate the day, representing the more realistic flavours of love: bitter and sweet. The theme here is red. For this salad I’d go out of my way to find an exciting combination of red leaves and herbs. I love the long, twisted red leaves of some varieties of radicchio di Treviso. Red orach, purple basil, red amaranth and bull’s blood (red) chard are also stunning leaves. Some tiny sprouting varieties, such as radish or purple basil, will also add character.


Serves 2 (of course)


2 blood oranges (or plain oranges)

blood orange juice as needed

20ml lemon juice

60ml maple syrup

½ tsp orange blossom water

½ small radicchio

1 small red endive (red chicory), leaves


1 tbsp olive oil

handful of small red leaves

150g good-quality ricotta

20g pine nuts, toasted

100g pomegranate seeds (1 small pomegranate)

coarse sea salt and black pepper


Start by making the orange syrup. Take each of the blood oranges in turn and use a small sharp knife to slice off the top and base. Now cut down the side of the orange, following its natural curve, to remove the skin and white pith. Over a small bowl, cut in between the membranes to remove the individual segments into the bowl. Squeeze all the juice from the membrane and skin into a small saucepan. Make up the juice in the pan to 110ml with extra blood orange juice. Add the lemon juice, maple syrup and a pinch of salt and bring to a light simmer. Leave to reduce for 20–25 minutes, or until you are left with about 3 tablespoons of thick syrup. Strain it through a fine sieve and allow to cool down, then stir in the orange blossom water. Pull apart
the radicchio leaves and tear them roughly into large pieces. Put into a mixing bowl. Add the endive leaves, oil and some salt and pepper, and toss gently. Divide the salad leaves between two serving plates. Dot with the orange segments, small red leaves and spoonfuls of ricotta, building the salad up. Drizzle with the orange syrup and finish with pine nuts and pomegranate seeds.



Celeriac and Lentils with Hazelnut and Mint

Taken from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi published by Ebury Press


Celeriac is probably my favourite root. It is delicate, yet very nutty, and has an elegant oily smoothness. Like all good vegetables, it is marvellous simply with a bit of olive oil. Here it works with the lentils and nuts to create a hearty autumn main course. Serve it warm, with a radish, cucumber and dill salad dressed with soured cream and olive oil. Or, allow it to cool down, then take it to work for lunch or on a picnic.


Serves 4


60g whole hazelnuts (skin on)

200g Puy lentils

700ml water

2 bay leaves

4 thyme sprigs

1 small celeriac (650g), peeled and cut into 1cm chips

4 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp hazelnut oil

3 tbsp good-quality red wine vinegar

4 tbsp chopped mint

salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Scatter the hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Let them cool down, then chop roughly. Combine the lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain in a sieve.

Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, cook the celeriac in plenty of boiling salted water for 8–12 minutes, or until just tender. Drain. In a large bowl mix the hot lentils (if they have cooled down they won’t soak up all the flavours) with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the hazelnut oil, the vinegar, some black pepper and plenty of salt. Add the celeriac and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning. To serve straight away, stir in half the mint and half the hazelnuts. Pile onto a serving dish or in a bowl and drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil on top. Garnish with the rest of the mint and hazelnuts. To serve cold, wait for the lentils and celeriac to cool down before finally adjusting the seasoning and possibly adding some more vinegar, if you like. Add hazelnut oil, mint and nuts in the same way as when serving hot.


Pheasant, Radicchio, Chestnut, Chicory and Pomegranate Salad


Serves 6


1 pheasant freshly roasted

sprig of thyme

½ oz (10g) butter


½ pomegranate

I head of chicory

½ to 1 head of radicchio

1 bunch watercress




1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

5 – 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6. Tuck a sprig of thyme into the cavity of the pheasant and slather the breast and legs of the bird with butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast for 35 minutes in the preheated oven add the quartered chestnut to the roasting tin, toss in the juices and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes.

Meanwhile remove the pomegranate seeds and save. Slice the radicchio and put into a large bowl. Add the sliced chicory and watercress sprigs. Next make the dressing, mix the pomegranate molasses or white wine vinegar, honey and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, whisk to emulsify. Carve the pheasant, divide the breast into 3 or 4 pieces, and separate the drum stick from the thigh. Put back into the roasting tin and toss gently in the cooking juices with the chestnuts.


To Serve


Shake the dressing once again, sprinkle over the salad, toss gently and turn out on a serving platter, distribute the pheasant and chestnuts over the top, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve as soon as possible, best while the pheasant is still warm.



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