ArchiveJuly 2012

Artisan Producers

Gastronomic science students doing a masters in marketing now have a list of evocative terms guaranteed to resonate with consumers who are seeking a more authentic wholesome product or eating experience – local artisan handmade, farmhouse, traditional, hand crafted… As a result there’s an epidemic of chefs and producers who are talking the talk but often with little understanding or respect for the real meaning of the word.

Evocative labels use the clever images and the jargon but often completely fail to deliver what that image promises. The menu of the CIE train promises ‘delicious, local, handmade sandwiches, hot snacks and pastries’ – I don’t think so – they are what they are but why try to pass them off as homemade. There are ‘Artisan’ restaurants and cafes without a single artisan item on the menu, artisan sweets and chocolates where as far as I can gather the only artisan element in the entire production system is to put the chocolates by hand into the moulded plastic trays in the slick packaging.

This ‘passing off’ is grossly unfair to the growing number of real artisan producers who has done so much to offer an alternative to mass produced option and to change the image of Irish food both at home and abroad.

Watertight definitions are notoriously difficult to nail down. Several of the farmhouse cheese makers and artisan producers – including Ballymaloe Country Relish – who started production on their kitchen tables has now morphed into a million euro businesses with a significant export market, no longer small but still with strong artisan values and philosophy – Cashel Blue Cheese and Glenilen in West Cork are brilliant examples. I asked John McKenna (Bridgestone Guides) what his definition of artisan might be – “a person who makes a product form beginning to end, and who makes it by hand, it’s easy to mechanise food production, artisans originate the product, produce it, and ideally sell it at market. Twenty years ago we came up with ‘The four ‘P’s’ person, place, (sense of place), product (original start from scratch) and passion and have found that has stood the test of time”

The  Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSA) are working on it but as yet there is still no legal definition of local or regional in the EU despite a recognition of the urgent need to define. In the US the word ‘house-made’ is now being substituted for hand-made which no longer had credibility. At present there are several court cases pending because of restaurants passing off an imported product, particularly goat cheese, as Irish. If you come across cases of blatant ‘passing off’ do please contact Slow Food Ireland or Cáis.


The Encarta dictionary definition of artisan: a person or company that makes a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand…


A Plate of McGeough’s Cured Meats


James McGeough is a second generation master butcher in Galway, Ireland. For the past number of years he’s been experimenting with curing and drying meats using traditional meats to produce dried, smoked meats and salami. I tasted them at the Food Village during the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway and was mightily impressed.

Telephone 353 (0) 91 552351 for stockists.


Serves 4


8 slices each of air dried beef, pork, lamb and ham

Cucumber pickle

Horseradish crème fraiche (see recipe)

a salad of rocket leaves and fresh herbs


Arrange 2 ruffled slices of each cured meat on each serving plate, add some cucumber pickle, horseradish crème fraiche and a little bouquet of rocket leaves and fresh herbs.


Horseradish Crème Fraiche


Horseradish grows wild in many parts of Ireland and looks like giant dock leaves.  If you can’t find it near you, plant some in your garden.  It is very prolific and the root which you grate can be dug up at any time of the year.


Serve with roast beef, smoked venison or smoked mackerel.


Serves 8 – 10


1 1/2-3 tablespoons grated horseradish

2 teaspoons wine vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

1 – 2 teaspoons sugar

8 fl ozs (250 ml) crème fraiche


Scrub the horseradish root well, peel and grate on a ‘slivery grater’.  Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.  Fold in the crème fraiche but do not overmix or the sauce will curdle.  It keeps for 2-3 days: cover so that it doesn’t pick up flavours in the fridge.


This is a fairly mild horseradish sauce.  If you want to really clear the sinuses increase the amount of horseradish!


Courgette Flower, St Tola Goats Cheese and Local Honey


Anyone who planted courgettes this year will have lots of courgette blossoms. Use the male flowers raw in salads or make them into fritters.


Serves 2

4 courgette blossoms

250g (9ozs) St Tola goats cheese (or other good quality goats/sheep cheese)

2 teaspoons thyme leaves

2 teaspoons Irish honey


Tempura Batter


200g (7ozs) rice flour

20g (3/4oz) corn flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

cold sparkling water


First make the batter.

Mix the flours with a little water, it should be of a thickish consistency and can be used immediately.


Mix the cheese with the thyme leaves. Half fill each courgette flower.  Twist the ends to seal.  Dip the courgette flowers into batter.  Deep-fry at 190°C/375°F for 1 minute.  Drizzle with honey and serve, immediately.


Genaro’s Crespelle con Ricotta e Rucola


Crespelle are the Italian equivalent of pancakes. Everything sounds better in Italian – a recipe from Gennaro Contaldo’s Easy Italian cookery book, published by Headline UK.


250g (9oz) plain flour

4 eggs

500ml (18fl oz)

40g (1 ½ oz) butter melted, plus extra for greasing and dotting

20g (3/4 oz) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

½ quantity of Tomato sauce, using onion (see recipe)



For the filling


300g (10 ½ oz) ricotta – we use Toonsbridge Ricotta

100g (3 ½ oz) rocket, finely chopped, plus some un-chopped for garnishing

50g (1 ¾ oz) Parmesan cheese freshly grated

salt and pepper


1 x 16cm ( 6 ¼ inch) non-stick frying pan


Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas 5.

Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl, add the eggs and stir. Gradually whisk in the milk, ensuring no lumps are formed, until you obtain a smooth runny batter, then stir in the melted butter.

Place the frying pan on the heat, grease with a little butter, then add a ladleful of the mixture in the centre of the pan. Swirl the pan around so that the mixture runs to all sides. Fry until the bottom is golden, then flip over to cook on the other side. Remove and set aside. Continue to do this until your mixture has finished – you should be able to make 8 pancakes.

To make the filling on to each pancake, then fold each one in half and half again, ending up with a triangle. Place on a greased ovenproof dish so that they slightly overlap each other, dot with knobs of butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove and top with a spoonful of tomato sauce on each pancake. Garnish with some rocket and serve.


Genaro’s Salsa di Pomodoro – Tomato Sauce


4 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or ½ medium onion, finely chopped

2 x 410g tins plum tomatoes, chopped

handful of fresh basil, finely chopped

salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sweat the garlic or onion over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and use immediately, or leave to cool and place in the fridge or freezer for later use.


Rose Cottage Strawberry Ice Cream


Rose Cottage Fruit Farm in Co Laois grows a variety of soft fruits and sells at Midleton, Mahon Point, Coal Quay and Douglas Farmers Markets – 0578732666



Serves 6-8


2 lbs (900g) very ripe strawberries

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange

8ozs (225gcastor sugar

300ml (300ml) water

150ml (5floz) whipped cream


Dissolve the sugar in the water; boil for 7-10 minutes, leave to cool. Purée the strawberries in a food processor or blender, sieve. Add the freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice to the cold syrup. Stir into the purée, fold in the whipped cream. Freeze immediately preferably in a sorbietere.  Store in a covered plastic box in the freezer. Store in a fridge.


Fresh Strawberry Sauce

400g (14 ozs) strawberries

50g (2 ozs) icing sugar

lemon juice



Fresh mint leaves


To make the strawberry sauce, clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary. Pour over scoops of strawberry gelato and garnish with some fresh mint leaves.

Hot Tips

Date for your diary.

The Slow Food event Terra Madre in Italy is a life changing event. This year’s theme is ‘The future of food is the future of the planet. Slow Food International Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre’  Five days of extraordinary diversity of food across all continents held in Turin, Italy from Thursday 25th to Monday 29th October 2012 – for full details of the rich program

Food Festival in Castlemartyr, East Cork. The Village Greengrocer Food Festival are preparing for their second annual festival. There will be lots of food stalls, a pig on the spit and live music on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th August – 021-4667655.

Great new food magazine ‘West Fork’ celebrates the wonderful diversity of ‘food production’ and ‘food culture’ in West Cork. Look out for it.

Darina’s Book of the Week

Picnics and Other Outdoor Feasts by Claudia Roden, The new edition of Picnics reveals a whole world of simply prepared delicious foods and whets our appetites and the imagination with tales from far and near. From the street food of the Middle East and Mediterranean, the festivals of the high grassy plains of Mexico to the English traditions of picnicing in parks, at Glyndebourne and shooting-lunches on the grouse moors. Something for every season and any climate, perfect for our Irish Summer. Published by Grubb Street Press.

Olympic Appetites

Sports lovers are in a frenzy of excitement at the prospect of a sports fest for the next couple of weeks. You’ll want to spend as much time as possible in front of the telly rooting for our national heroes. Even if sport is food and drink to you, some sustenance will improve your stamina and give you the energy to cheer even louder.

Interestingly this is the first Olympics that has had a food policy, Jan Whelan who is in charge of the initiative says “Sustain is very keen to ensure that Olympic food promotes health and sustainability, wins new business for sustainable producers, and creates a fabulous food legacy. We want London 2012 to showcase the very best of healthy, ethical and sustainable food and to communicate this to a local and global audience.

Sustain sees the London 2012 Games as a tremendous opportunity to help transform the food system.”

It’s worth cooking up a few filling, yummy and easy to eat dishes so you can relax and enjoy the spectacle. A frittata is a terrific idea, easy to make and a 10 inch one will feed 6 hungry lads or 8 less ravenous guys with a nice bowl of salad leaves and a few of the new season Irish cherry tomatoes. You can even pop it in the oven and dash back to the telly while it cooks at a gentle heat. Left overs make a great sandwich tucked into a crusty baguette with some rocket or watercress leaves.

A nice piece of cooked ham or a slab of good Irish bacon or kassler is a terrific standby, eat it hot or cold and any leftover scraps can be used to fill an omelette or tossed into a savoury tart or pasta sauce.

Better still buy a few ham hocks, they’ll only cost you a couple of euro. Put then into a deep saucepan, cover them entirely with warm water and boil gently for a couple of hours until the meat is almost falling off the bones. Then you can eat the meltingly tender meat in a variety of ways. On a chilly evening a ham hock would be fine and comforting on a bed of colcannon or champ with lots of parsley sauce or in a bean stew with a high tea salad.

If the weather suddenly turns summery, a roast chicken salad with lots of crusty bread will also have everyone smacking their lips, make a big bowl of mayonnaise and then flavour it in a couple of different ways. Handy to have in the fridge to make some sandwiches, get some decent bread in – maybe a few Arbutus loaves and make some pickled cucumbers.

A few smoked mackerel are a brilliant standby – I love the moist smokies from Frank Hederman’s Smoke House at Belvelly near Cobh and of course Bill Casey’s Shanagarry Organic Salmon, Then there’s Ummerra, Woodcock Smokery…all unique and delicious in their own way. A selection of artisan charcuterie is another must have for quick snacks, seek out Fingal Ferguson’s cured meat to perk up your sandwiches and baguettes, you could wash it all down with a few artisan beers, and there is such a choice from the Franciscan Brewery in Cork, the Dungarvan Brewery, Eight Degrees Brewery in Michelstown and Metalman Brewing in Waterford.


Smoked Mackerel, Leek and Dill Frittata


Serves 6-8


1 oz (25g) butter

2 medium leeks, thinly sliced

8 free range eggs

2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped dill

1 oz (25g) Gruyere cheese, grated

1 teaspoon salt

lots of freshly ground pepper

6-8 ozs (175-225g) smoked mackerel, cut into dice


1 “x 9” non-stick pan


Melt the butter in a sauté pan.  Add the finely sliced leeks, toss.  Cover and cook on a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and leave to continue cooking while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.


Whisk the eggs, add the chopped dill and grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the cooked leeks.  Melt a little more butter in the non-stick frying pan.  When it foams, add the egg mixture, reduce the heat to minimum.  Sprinkle the smoked mackerel over the top and allow to sink into the egg mixture.  Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes until almost cooked.


Meanwhile preheat the grill.  Flash under the grill until the top is puffed and golden.  Turn out onto a warm plate and serve hot, warm or at room temperature with a good green salad.


Ham Hocks with Haricot Bean and Tomato Stew


Visit the English market in Cork city to find ham hock they are delicious with so many things – a bean stew as well as cabbage and champ. They are also great on a bed of lentils or shredded into a broth with diced vegetables or in a split pea soup.

Serves 4


2 fresh or smoked ham hocks

1 onion

4 garlic cloves

1 carrot, thickly sliced

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon black peppercorns


Haricot Bean and Tomato Stew

This is great on its own or with a few chunks of chorizo, cabanossi or even breakfast sausages.


1 cup dried haricot beans

bouquet garni

1 onion

1 carrot

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 ozs (175g) chopped onion

4 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 x 14 oz (400g) tin tomatoes

1-2 tablespoons chopped rosemary

salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar



lots of flat parsley or rosemary


Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.


Next Day.

Cook the ham hocks. Put the ham hocks into a deep saucepan, add the vegetables and seasonings.  Cover well with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 – 21/2 hours or until the meat is virtually falling off the bones.


While the ham hocks are cooking, strain the beans and cover with fresh cold water, add a bouquet garni, carrot and onion, cover and simmer until the beans are soft but not mushy – anything from 30-60 minutes. Just before the end of cooking, add salt. Remove the bouquet garni (bunch of fresh herbs) and vegetables and discard.


Meanwhile sweat the chopped onion gently in olive oil in a wide saucepan until soft but not coloured, approx. 7-8 minutes add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, add the chopped tomato and their juice, cook for 6-8 minutes, add the cooked beans, and chopped rosemary and cook for a further 5 minutes.


Remove the meat from the ham hocks, include the skin.  Add to the bean stew.

Simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes, add some of the bean liquid if necessary and season well with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.  The mixture should be juicy but not swimming in liquid.

Sprinkle with lots of flat parsley and serve or alternatively for a more rustic presentation for hungry chaps, keep the ham hocks whole (you need to cook four).  Spoon some bean stew over and around the ham hocks.  Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Ham Hock and Bean Soup


Add 2 pints of chicken stock and some bean water to the stew – for a delicious robust soup.


Roast Chicken Salad with Avocado and Caesar Dressing


Crisp leaves of little Gem lettuce provide the perfect scoops for chunks of tender chicken drizzled with creamy Caesar dressing.  Everything can be prepared a little ahead to eat.


Serves 12


1 large or 2 smaller organic chickens

1 large or 2 small lemons

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 tablespoons clear honey

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Caesar Dressing

2 egg yolks, preferably free-range

2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 x 2 ozs (50g) tin anchovies

1 clove garlic, crushed

a generous pinch of English mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1/2-1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

6 fl ozs (175ml) sunflower oil

2 fl ozs (50ml) extra virgin olive oil

2 fl ozs (50ml) cold water


6 little Gem lettuces and lots of watercress

6 hass avocados


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


Season the inside of the chickens with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Prick the lemons all over with a skewer, then put inside each chicken.  Tie the legs together, place in separate roasting tins.  Drizzle each chicken with 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil.  Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in the preheated oven then brush the skin with honey and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Roast for a further 15 minutes or until the chickens are well-cooked and golden brown.  Remove from the roasting tin and allow to cool.  They can now be wrapped in tin foil and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours.


Meanwhile, make the dressing. I make it in a food processor but it can also be made very quickly by hand. Drain the anchovies and crush lightly with a fork. Put into a bowl with the egg yolks, add the garlic, lemon juice, mustard powder, salt, Worcester and Tabasco sauce. Whisk all the ingredients together.  As you whisk, add the oils slowly at first, then a little faster as the emulsion forms. Finally whisk in the water to make a spreadable consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning: this dressing should be highly flavoured.


To Serve

Separate the leaves from the lettuces, arrange the leaves over 2 platters.  Remove each breast coarsely from the chicken in one piece.  Pull the meat from the legs and wings and shred it.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cut each breast in to 6pieces each with a little skin attached.  Put a little brown meat in each lettuce leaf, then top with a slice of breast.

Half, stone, peel and quarter the avocados, tuck a few segments in between the leaves and sprinkle with Maldon seasalt.

Just before serving, drizzle a little dressing over each piece of chicken.  Garnish with watercress sprigs and marigold petals.

(Save the remainder of the dressing for another occasion. Refrigerate until needed).


Roast Kassler

That delicious German speciality, Kassler, is actually fresh loin of pork marinated with pepper, cloves and juniper berries for 12-24 hours and then oak-smoked for a further 12 hours.  It used to be quite difficult to find but is now becoming more widely available as many pork butchers produce their own.  It is best roasted rather than boiled.  It may be served hot, warm or cold.

1 x 5 lbs (2.25 kg) Kassler

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

Weigh the joint and calculate 20 minutes per 1 lb (450g).  Put the piece of Kassler onto a roasting tin; during cooking, baste once or twice with the fat which will render out.  Test the meat.  The juices should run clear.  When cooked, turn off the oven or set to a very low heat; leave the meat to relax for 20 minutes approx. before carving.  De-grease the pan and serve the sweet juices with the Kassler.  Keep the pork fat to roast or sauté potatoes.



Join Slow Food East Cork for a walk around Ballymaloe Cookery School Organic Farm and Gardens on Saturday 28th July, 2012 at 3:30pm to 5:30pm. Bring appropriate weather-proof clothing and footwear. Donations to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Booking is essential for this event, please phone 021 4646785 or email

Food Festival Dates for your diary

Achill Island Seafood Festival / Feile Bia Na Mara, Thursday 19th- Sunday 22nd July Doonbeg SeaFood Festival, Friday 20th – Sunday 22 July Schull Country Market at Schull Show, Sunday 29th July Ardmore Pattern Festival Food & Craft Fair , Friday 27th – Sunday 29th July Ardmore Farmers Market Food Fair Sunday 29th July Cork Gourmet Trail, Monday 30th July Westport Food Festival, Tuesday 31st July to Thursday 2nd August

Gubbeen Garden and Farmhouse Lunches – I was so excited to read that Clovisse Ferguson – who has created a little ‘Garden of Eden’ on the family farm just outside Schull, West Cork – is offering a morning tour of the farm, dairy, smokehouse and organic vegetable garden followed by lunch in the Gubbeen farmhouse kitchen, how enticing is that!

Summer Food

My editor asked me to write a piece on Summer food this week! What on earth am I supposed to write? This would normally be so easy, lots of salads, a few sizzling barbecue dishes, homemade ice creams, granitas, jugs of fresh lemonade and big bowls of Summer berries.

Maybe a picnic by the beach or in a wildflower meadow on the old tartan rug, what a lovely image that conjures up. The reality this year would probably be sodden food and a miserable picnic even for hardy adventurers like me who like to picnic though out the seasons.

Well nothing for it but to look on the bright side and you never know, perhaps the sun will be scorching the stones as you read this.

Even if it is drizzling you can light the barbecue in the garage doorway, hang up a bit of bunting, open some fizz and just have fun.

Here are some of my favourite Summer recipes for the barbie, a butterflied leg of lamb or a boned out shoulder (cheaper) doesn’t take more than 45 minutes to cook and will feed 12-15 people with lots of salads and a few tasty relishes. You can embellish it with generous quantities of gutsy fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary or anoint it with a spice mix and a generous drizzle of extra Virgin olive oil.

Lamb chops, ask for chump chops (they are meatier) chicken thighs (they are tastier) steaks (flank is both cheaper and tastier by far) and sausages all cook in minutes and can be tarted up with flavoured butters, mustards and a few complimentary sauces.

A good big gratin of potato is a brilliant idea for a barbecue; I particularly love a gratin of potato with some Ballyhoura mushrooms or this version with rosemary.

They both go brilliantly with grilled food and can be made the day before and reheated until the top is bubbly and golden.

Make a great big bowl of green salad and look out for those beautiful misshapen, multi-coloured heirloom tomatoes, make sure they are really ripe and then make a beautiful tomato and cucumber salad with lots of fresh mint or basil.

And for pudding- Summer fruit salad with sweet geranium leaves, It’s the perfect time of the year to make this when all the berries are ripe and blackcurrants and red currants just burst deliciously in your mouth. This recipe was in my very first Simply Delicious book when I had brown hair and red glasses, its ‘just as delicious as ever and one of our very favourite Summer puds, light and fruity, it will slip down perfectly after you’ve over indulged.


Mexican Spiced Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa


Serves 8


8 free-range and organic pork loin chops with a nice layer of fat (2.5cm (1 inch) thick)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon marjoram

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon runny honey

4 tablespoons olive oil


Salt, black pepper


Pineapple, Chilli and Lime Salsa (see recipe)


Mix the garlic, marjoram, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon, vinegar, orange juice, honey and olive oil together in a Pyrex measuring jug.  Pour mixture over chops, turning several times to coat thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Season the chops with salt. Grill pan or barbecue over medium-hot coals until fully cooked but still juicy, 8-10 minutes per side.  Season the chops with salt. Serve hot with Pineapple, Chilli and Lime salsa.


Pineapple, Chilli and Lime Salsa


Serves 8


1/2 fresh pineapple, cored and finely diced (use less canned if you are in a hurry)

1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped

1 red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander or mint

grated zest of 1 lime

3 tablespoons lime juice

salt and sugar


Mix the pineapple with the chilli, onion, coriander or mint, lime zest and lime juice in a bowl.  Add salt and sugar to taste.  Cover and let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavours to blend.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Gratin of Potatoes with Rosemary and Bay Leaves


Serves 4


about 300ml (10fl oz) each of single cream and milk

2 sprigs rosemary and a couple crushed bay leaves

900g (2lb) potatoes, peeled and fairly thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

salt and freshly ground black pepper


20cm (8in) square gratin dish


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


Put the milk and cream into a heavy saucepan, add the scrunched bay leaves, finely chopped rosemary and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to the shivery stage on a medium heat,  turn off the heat and allow to infuse.


Meanwhile peel and slice the potatoes into 3mm (1/8 inch) thick slices approximately.  Rinse the potato well to remove some starch, add to the herby infused liquid with the crushed garlic.  Bring to the boil on top of the stove (to take the rawness away).


Then pour into a buttered gratin dish, cover with parchment paper.


Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes. Uncover and brown before serving in a hot oven or under the grill.


Butterflied Leg or Shoulder of Lamb with Moroccan Flavours


We make this amazing recipe at the cookery school – this will feed 10 people easily, if they are having no other meat or fish.  But with a selection of accompaniments it would probably feed 25.  You can, of course, halve the recipe.  Leg or shoulder or pork works well for this too.


1 leg of lamb, about 3kg (6 3/4 lb) in weight, butterflied

Or a shoulder of lamb boned



2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

2 tablespoons harissa

1 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic or white wine vinegar

3 garlic cloves, grated or crushed


Cucumber and Radish Raita (see recipe)


Heat a pan.  Add the cumin seeds, and cook for a few seconds, then add the peppercorns and cardamom seeds.  Remove from the heat and crush coarsely.  Mix with all the other marinade ingredients.  Place the lamb in a large shallow dish or in a clear plastic bag.  Pour the marinade over and rub into the meat.  Leave for 24 hours if possible, rubbing the marinade into the meat every so often.


Drain the lamb from the marinade and place quite far (20cm (8in)) from the coals.  It will take about 55–60 minutes to cook.  Baste with the marinade a few times while it’s cooking.  Rest the meat for 10 minutes, then carve.  You can also roast this, in all its marinade, in an oven preheated to 200C/400F/gas 6.  It will take about 1–1½ hours.  Baste it with the marinade regularly.  Again, rest the meat before carving.


Cucumber  and Radish Raita


Makes 16fl oz (450ml)

10fl oz (300ml) yoghurt

½ cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

2 tbsp chopped coriander or mint

salt and pepper

6 – 8 sliced or quartered radish – depending on size.


Put the yoghurt into a bowl, add the cucumber, coriander and some salt and pepper to taste. Add the sliced radish and taste and correct seasoning


Note: You could also grate the whole cucumber for this, but first sprinkle it with a pinch of salt and let it drain sitting in a sieve over a bowl for 10 minutes to get rid of excess juices.




Bananas wrapped in Streaky Bacon


Kids love to make these and people of every age seem to enjoy them.



Thin streaky rashers.


Peel the bananas and cut into chunks about 2 – 2 1/2 inches (5cm – 6.5cm) long (depending on the width of the rasher).


Wrap each piece in bacon and secure with a ‘soaked’ cocktail stick, toss the bananas in fresh lemon juice if prepared ahead. Cook on a grid on the hinged barbecue 4 – 6 inches (10cm – 15cm) from the hot coals for 6-10 minutes depending on the size, serve immediately.


Summer Fruit Salad with Sweet Geranium Leaves


Sweet geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens) and many other varieties of scented geraniums are every present on our windowsills here at Ballymaloe.  We use the delicious lemon scented leaves in all sorts of ways, occasionally we use the pretty purple flowers also to enliven and add magic to otherwise simple dishes.  The crystallized leaves, all frosty and crinkly are wonderful with fresh cream cheese and fat juicy blackberries.

I discovered this recipe which has now become a perennial favourite quite by accident a few Summers ago as I raced to make a pudding in a hurry with the ingredients I had at that moment.


Serves 2-4


1 oz (30g) Raspberries

1oz (30g) Loganberries

1 oz (30g) Red currants

1 oz (30g) Black currants

1 oz (30g) small Strawberries

1 oz (30g) Blueberries

1 oz (30g) Fraises du bois or wild strawberries




14 oz (400g) sugar

16 fl oz (450ml) water

6-8 large sweet geranium leaves


Put all the freshly picked berries into a white china or glass bowl.  Put the sugar, water and sweet geranium leaves into a stainless steel saucepan and bring slowly to

the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Boil for just 2 minutes.   Cool for 4-5 minutes then pour the hot syrup over the fruit and allow to macerate for several hours.  Remove the geranium leaves.  Serve chilled, with softly-whipped cream or Vanilla Ice-cream or alone.  Garnish with a few fresh sweet geranium leaves.


Summer Berry Jelly with Sweet Geranium Leaves


Sometimes when we have a berry salad left over, particularly if there is more juice than fruit we make it into a jelly.  Use 1 teaspoons of gelatine to each 150ml/¼ pint of liquid.  Pour into glasses or white china bowls, serve with softly whipped cream and decorate with geranium leaves.




Don’t miss this Summer’s Long Table Dinner in the Ballymaloe Cookery School glasshouse on Thursday 2nd August (last year it was a sell-out) Hosted by Darina Allen and Mme.Véronique Guibert de La Vaissière of Mas de Daumas Gassac Wines. Menu from the organic farm and gardens by Rory O’Connell inspired by ‘Savours and Flavours of Mas de Daumas Gassac’ matched with the Grand Cru wines of Mas de Daumas Gassac. Proceeds will go to East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.  Advanced booking essential.

Kilcolman Rectory is a charming little Georgian B&B in Enniskeane West Cork, they do really good breakfast with homemade breads and preserves, fruit from the garden and locally sourced produce. If you are just passing through you can visit their gardens, they serve cream teas too – – +353 (0)23 – 8822913

Irish Examiner Food Festival – Darina Allen is doing a free cookery demonstration followed by a book signing in Fitzgeralds Park at 2:30pm on Saturday 21st July.

Foodie Tour of East Cork

Every term my 12 Week Cerificate cookery students and I pile into a bus and head off on our School Tour to visit food related businesses. Our day started at Mahon Point Farmers Market, plenty of inspiration there and good ideas to add value to produce – Una’s Pies, Annie’s Roast Chicken, Just Nuts, Volcano Woodfired Pizzas, Pure Sushi and Sashimi, Old Millbank Smokehouse Fish Cakes, Kinsale Crab Cakes, Lolo’s steak sandwiches, fresh spices and aromatic curries from Green Saffron,  Glan Gluten gluten free cakes and tarts, Glenilen farm butter, yoghurt and pasteurised milk in glass bottles, several cake and cookie businesses including Regale, fresh and smoked fish from Ballycotton and West Cork, Cork Coffee Roasters and Golden Bean coffee, Daunt’s organic fruit and vegetables, free range and organic fowl from Tom Clancy in Ballycotton and Dan Ahern in Midleton, on and on. It’s a cracker of a market, wonderful atmosphere everyone is having fun, chilling at the central tables, listening to the music from Sean and Colman Kelleher and filling their shopping bags with local produce.

From there we cruised along in the Shanagarry express to North Cork. Next stop – the little village of Toonsbridge, now firmly on the foodie map since Toby Simmonds and Sean Ferris started to make cheese from the beautiful rich milk of Johnny Lynch’s herd of water buffalo. What a surprise to see a herd of these beautiful docile animals grazing contentedly in a field in North Cork a million miles from in Italy.

Thousands of tonnes of Italian Mozzarella is imported into Ireland every year so the original plan was to make an Irish Mozzarella and to contribute to the economy with import substitution – however Toby and his wife Jenny Rose bought the old creamery in Toonsbridge, made a state-of-the-art dairy having spent some years in Italy learning their craft, the boys started to experiment – at first it was Mozzarella but now they also make a beautiful feta, a tender ricotta and a Grana type cheese to age. The cheese grates beautifully and can also be used in their homemade pesto to sell at Toby’s Real Olive Company stalls familiar to many farmers markets’ customers.

Recently they have opened up a little shop beside creamery and there are plans to open a café before too long. The shop sells the fresh cheese but also a range of beautiful cured meat relishes, oils and carefully selected delicatessen products, chic and stylish it wouldn’t be out of place in Knightsbridge.

The students were fascinated by the process and after they’d stocked up we sped off to Macroom to pay a surprise visit to fifth generation miller Donal Creedon in the last stone grinding mill in Ireland. Porridge made from his nutty stone ground Macroom oatmeal has delighted visitors to Ballymaloe House for over 40 years.

The Gaeltacht area of Ballyvourney was our next stop – Jimmy Allen and family and the many neighbours, friends and well-wishers were launching the traditional De Roiste black and white pudding in their new factory space in Ballyvourney.

Jimmy Allen and Anthony Staunton use fresh pigs blood to make their black pudding based on a recipe passed down through the De Roiste family, it’s very encouraging to see an increasing number of butchers going down this route rather than using imported dried blood

On the way home spirited shopkeeper, Ruth Healy of Urru in Bandon gave the students an insight into the challenges and rewards of running a food shop/deli in a country town, yet another option in the food business. Artisan producer, Frank Krawczyk was making a delivery of his sausages – now made in collaboration with local craft butcher Martin Carey – so he gave us an insight into the life of artisan producers. Lots of food for thought and just a taste of the huge variety of opportunities in the food business in Ireland today.


De Roiste Pudding with Glazed Apples and Grainy Mustard Sauce


Serves 4


Allow 3-4 x 1/2 inch (1cm) slices of De Roiste black pudding per person


Glazed Apples


2 dessert apples, Cox’s Orange Pippen or Golden Delicious

juice of 1/4-1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon castor sugar

1 oz (25g) butter


Mustard Sauce

8 fl ozs (250ml) of cream

1 dessertspoon of Lakeshore smooth mustard

1 tablespoon of Lakeshore Honey Mustard

salt and freshly ground pepper


Peel, core and neatly slice the apples into even 1/4 inch (5mm) slices.  Melt butter in a sauté pan and when it is foamy add the apple slices and coat in the butter.  Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook slowly for 5 minutes approx. until the apples are glazed in a shiny syrup.


To make the Mustard Sauce, simply place the cream and two mustards in a small saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Taste and season if necessary.


To assemble the dish.


Melt the butter in a sauté pan and sauté the puddings until heated through.  Don’t allow to get too crusty on the outside.  Arrange the warm apple slices on one large serving dish or individual plates.  Arrange the slices of black pudding on the apples and sauce carefully with the Mustard Sauce, garnish with flat parsley and serve immediately.



Skye Gyngell’s Nectarine and Tomato Salad with Parma Ham and Buffalo Mozzarella


Another one of my favourite Summer salads.  This recipe is taken from Skye’s book “My Favourite Ingredients”.


Serves 4


4 ripe nectarines

10 perfectly ripe and sweet cherry tomatoes

a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

extra virgin olive oil

we use a ‘biggie’ from Arbutus Artisan Bakery

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 balls of fresh buffalo mozzarella

12 purple basil leaves, shredded

8 fine slices of Parma ham

2 tablespoons basil oil

aged balsamic vinegar, to drizzle (optional)


Cut the nectarines in half along their natural division, remove the stones, then cut each half into 3 wedges.  Halve the tomatoes.  Place the nectarines and tomatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice.  Drizzle over the extra virgin olive oil and season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Tear the mozzarella balls in half with your fingers and lay 2 halves on each plate.  Now build your salad, alternating the nectarine slices and tomatoes with basil and Parma ham, spooning a little basil oil between the layers and seasoning delicately as you go.  Finish with a restrained drizzle of balsamic vinegar if you like.


Serve at once, preferably with some really good chewy peasant-style bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.


Basil Oil


Whiz the leaves from 3 large bunches of basil in a food processor with a 1 peeled garlic clove and a good pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper until the basil is finely chopped.  With the processor still running, slowly add in 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) extra virgin olive oil through the funnel and blend until you have a beautiful green purée.  Let stand for a few minutes, then taste and adjust the seasoning.  Store in a jar in the fridge – it will keep for up to a week.


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


A friend Barney Haughton shared this with us. Seek out Toonsbridge Ricotta for this delicious summery salad.


Serves 4 people


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

a little salt

juice of 1 lemon

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

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

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

a large handful of peashoots or rocket

100g (3 1/2oz) fresh ricotta

a little pepper



1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper



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


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


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


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


Macroom Oatmeal Crackers


Virtually every morning I start my day with a bowl of Macroom oatmeal porridge which has the most delicious toasted nutty flavour.  It comes in a lovely old-fashioned red and yellow pack which I hope they never change, with a brilliant recipe on the side. Here is another recipe using Macroom oatmeal which makes the most delicious biscuits to nibble with farmhouse cheese.



Makes 25-30 biscuits



1oz  (25g) Macroom oatmeal

75g (3oz) brown wholemeal flour

115g (4oz) white flour, preferably unbleached

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

25g (1oz) butter

5-6 tablespoons cream



Mix the oatmeal, brown and white flour together and add the salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter and moisten with cream, enough to make a firm dough.

Roll out very thinly – one-sixteenth inch thick approx.  Prick with a fork. Cut into 2 inch (5cm) squares.  Bake at 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned and quite crisp. Cool on a wire rack.




Learn how to make Homemade Butter, Yoghurt and Several Cheeses with Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen Cheese and Darina Allen on Friday 27th July 9:00am to 5:00pm – This busy one day course will take the mystery out of cheese making and introduce you to the magic of milk and the numerous possibilities. You will learn how to make a range of dairy products including homemade butter, yoghurt, cottage cheese, Labneh, paneer, and a couple of simple farmhouse cheeses. You’ll also discover how added flavour can be achieved with fresh herbs, fruit, spices and smoke. Phone 021 4646785 to book or online


Slow Food Farm Walk at Dan Ahern’s Born Free Organic Poultry Farm on Tuesday July 17th 2012 at 6:30pm – Meet the family and see the farm where our favourite organic chickens are reared. Bring appropriate weather-proof clothing and footwear – light refreshments. Contact Dan for directions to Ahern’s Farm, Ballysimon, Midleton, Co Cork

086 1659 258.  Donations to support the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project



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