ArchiveDecember 1, 2012

Guilt Free Gourmet

Can you imagine that a book with recipes that don’t contain dairy, sugar or wheat, vaporised out of my ‘in tray’ in double quick time a few weeks ago and hasn’t been seen since.  Annoying as that may be, this is definitely a compliment to the authors of Guilt Free Gourmet and of course indicates a growing demand for ‘free from’ recipes – the biggest growth area in food.

I particularly wanted to browse through the book because it was written by a recent graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Jordan Bourke did a 12 Week Certificate Course with us here in April 2010. He was ‘properly’ interested in food and flavour and super fresh produce. After the course he was snapped up by Skye Gyngell at the Michelin starred Petersham Nurseries in London.

Jordan is originally from Dublin but has lived in London for almost 10 years now, his passion for healthy food runs in the family. His sister Jessica with whom he wrote this book is a much sought after nutritional therapist. Jordan cooks for private clients in London specialising in cooking food for optimum health, weight loss and nutrition.

Their first book was written in response to countless pleas from clients, friends and family for the recipes for the indulgent yet guilt free food they tasted. Where have we heard that before – all sounds a bit too good to be true? Well, I have to tell you that Jordan and Jessica are the real deal and the book delivers what it ‘says on the tin’

By the way, Jordan now also gives cooking classes in Clapham, London with Tara Wiggley another Ballymaloe Cookery School graduate who worked at Moro with Sam and Sam Clarke. She currently works at  Ottolenghi in London with Yotam and Sami developing and testing recipes.


Jordan and Tara’s next cookery class is on Friday 7th December for details visit


The Guilt Free Gourmet by Jordan and Jessica Bourke is published by Ryland, Peters & Small Ltd.


Jordan Bourke’s Beetroot Burgers with Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise


There is no question that reducing the amount of meat in your diet is not only good for your health but also for the planet. So before you go running for the hills at the mention of a ‘veggie’ burger, at least taste this one before you make any judgments. It is not an attempt to replicate a beef burger but it is very similar in texture, just as satisfying, and has gone down really well with my carnivore friends.


handful of fresh dill

handful of fresh parsley

leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme

350g (12oz) beetroot, grated

150g (5oz) carrot, finely grated

120g (4 ¾ oz) oatmeal

3 eggs

1 small red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

wheat-free bread rolls


cherry tomatoes, halved


Jordan’s Wholegrain Mustard Mayonnaise


300 ml good extra virgin olive oil

300ml (10fl oz) sunflower oil

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

squeeze of lemon juice

3 teaspoons wholegrain mustard



1⁄2 small celeriac, cut into thin matchsticks

1⁄2 red cabbage, very thinly sliced

2 carrots, shredded

1 red onion, thinly sliced

small handful of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley

2 eating apples

grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of 1⁄2


Makes about 10


Finely chop the herbs. Thoroughly combine with the beetroot, carrot, oatmeal, eggs, onion and garlic in a bowl, making sure the eggs and herbs are evenly distributed. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes.

To make the wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, you can use a food processor or an electric whisk. Either way, combine the oils in a jug. Put the egg yolks, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in the food processor bowl or a mixing bowl. As you start to process/whisk, very slowly feed in the oils a little at a time until the mixture begins to emulsify and come together. Once this happens you can add the oil a bit faster, but never be tempted to fire it all in otherwise the mayonnaise will split. I always have a little cup of boiling water ready, as a few drops added in when it is looking like it might split usually brings it back together. Once you have added all the oil, stir in the wholegrain mustard and refrigerate until needed.

To make the slaw, combine the celeriac, cabbage, carrots, onion, hazelnuts and most of the parsley in a bowl. When you are ready to serve the slaw, cut the apple into thin half-moon slices, getting rid of the core, and mix into the bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons of the wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon oil, the lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper and mix well with your hands. Taste and if necessary, add a little extra salt, olive oil or wholegrain mustard.

Preheat the oven to 180ËšC (350ËšF) Gas 4.

To make the burgers, form about 10 patties with your hands. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over low heat and fry the burgers until just browned – 2–3 minutes on each side. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Toast the bread rolls or pita bread, if you like. Cut them open and spread the wholegrain mustard mayonnaise on the inside. Add the rocket, some halved tomatoes, some slaw and a burger.


Jordan Bourke’s Polenta Pizza


Polenta can be served in soft and gloopy form, or it can be cooked a little further to dry it out and then grilled/broiled to achieve a firmer, ‘breadier’ base layer. Either way it can be dreadfully bland if it’s not seasoned generously. I love this grilled version, as it soaks up all the juices from the toppings served with it and it has a satisfying texture. Totally guilt free, as it is made from corn, this is a fantastic lunch or dinner dish to share with friends.


2 teaspoons bouillon stock powder

200g (7oz) polenta/yellow cornmeal

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 garlic cloves, crushed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1 head of rainbow or Swiss chard

extra virgin olive oil

200g (7oz) girolle/golden chanterelle mushrooms

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 egg

bunch of fresh marjoram

large baking sheet, oiled


Serves 6


Bring 1 litre water to the boil and add the bouillon powder. Reduce the heat and slowly pour in the polenta/cornmeal, whisking all the time until blended. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting, add half the lemon zest and juice, 4 of the crushed garlic cloves, the thyme and a good pinch of salt and pepper and gently cook, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until the polenta pulls away from the side of the pan and is very thick.

Meanwhile, bring another pan of water to the boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt and boil the chard for about 3–4 minutes until the thick part is just tender, but not limp. If the root end of the chard is very thick, separate it from the leaves and boil each part separately until just tender. Remove, drain and season with some salt and oil.

In the meantime, don’t forget to stir the polenta!

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another pan over medium–high heat. Fry the mushrooms for about 2 minutes or until just golden and tender. Add 1 of the crushed garlic cloves and stir for 30 seconds to release the garlic flavour, but don’t let it burn. Transfer to a bowl, toss with the parsley and season with salt, the remaining lemon zest and juice, and some olive oil.

When the polenta is ready, transfer to the prepared baking sheet and spread out to a thickness of about 2 cm. Allow to cool and firm up for 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill.

Scatter the mushrooms and chard over the top of the polenta. Crack an egg carefully into the middle and grill for about 4–5 minutes or until the egg is cooked.

Meanwhile, pull the leaves off the marjoram stalks and finely chop. Mix the chopped leaves with the last crushed garlic clove and mix with enough oil to form a loose marjoram oil.

Remove the polenta from the grill, slide onto a board and drizzle the marjoram oil over the top. Serve immediately.


Jordan Bourke’s Red Pepper & Smoked Paprika Soup with Basil Oil & Vegetable Crisps


I can’t tell you how comforting this soup is. The sweet smoked paprika and the gentle heat from the chilli warm up even the most wind-swept and bitterly cold winter days. The root vegetable crisps work very well with it, adding a lovely and satisfying crunch. Try and get the Spanish brands of sweet smoked paprika that come in little tins, as they have excellent flavour.


300g (10 ½ oz) baby plum tomatoes – as ripe and red as you can find

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 red onions, chopped

2 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 red peppers, seeded and chopped

1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes

700ml (1 ½ pints) vegetable stock

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

8–10 fresh basil leaves

vegetable crisps (you can get these in good supermarkets and any root vegetable will do, eg. parsnip, sweet potato or beetroot)


Serves 6–8


Preheat the oven to 180ËšC (350ËšF) Gas 4.

Toss the tomatoes in a little oil and salt on a baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until they have shrivelled up a bit and the skins have popped open.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat, add the onions, chillies and garlic and sweat out until the onions are translucent. Add 2 pinches of salt. Add the peppers and potato and cook over low–medium heat for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.

Add the roasted tomatoes and all the juices and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are completely soft. Using a food processor or blender, liquidize the soup until smooth. Return to the pan and add the paprika. Season to taste – it will need more salt and some pepper.

Finely chop the basil and mix together with tablespoons olive oil. Ladle the soup into bowls, then with a teaspoon swirl some of the basil oil over the top and lightly place a few vegetable crisps in the middle of the soup. Serve immediately.


Guilt-free because…

Red peppers are high in a number of important antioxidants. It is the combination of vitamins C, E and the carotenoids (alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin) that ensure they pack a strong nutritious punch. Zeaxanthin is found in high levels in the retina of the eye, which means red (bell) peppers should form part of any diet used to help those with macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are also known to improve the elasticity of the skin as well as a reduction in skin lipid oxidation, a common cause of skin aging.


Jordan Bourke’s Chocolate Tart


Convincing people that food, especially desserts, made without sugar, wheat and dairy can actually taste good, let alone delicious, is an almost impossible task, which is why I adore this chocolate tart. It will convert even the greatest cynics who protest that no dessert free of sugar, wheat and dairy could possibly taste as good as their more sinful cousins. After tasting this, I guarantee your family and friends will admit defeat and beg you for the recipe, as well as another slice!

sea salt

100 g (3 ½ oz) best-quality dark/bittersweet chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids



10 pitted dates

150 g (5oz) pecans, lightly roasted

125 g (4oz) Scottish oat cakes

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons agave syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil

3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder



3 avocados, not too firm

4 tablespoons coconut oil

6 tablespoons agave syrup

1 tablespoon carob powder

5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons date syrup


20-cm/8-inch spring form pan, base lined with parchment paper


Serves 10–12


To make the base, blitz the dates in a food processor, then add the rest of the ingredients and a pinch of salt and blitz until everything comes together into

a sticky ball.

Press into the baking pan so that you have an even and smooth base for the tart. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15 minutes until set.

To make the filling, cut the avocados in half, remove the stones and scoop the flesh into a food processor. Add 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, the remaining ingredients apart from the coconut oil, and blitz until smooth.

Melt the coconut oil in a pan over the lowest heat possible – this will only take a few moments. Turn on the food processor and pour the coconut oil into the mixture through the funnel. Once combined, pour the mixture onto the set tart base and smooth out the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or if you want it to set quickly, freeze it.

When you are ready to serve, warm the chocolate to just above room temperature to make it easier to grate. I find leaving it beside the oven when you are cooking for about 10 minutes does the trick. You want the chocolate to be just beginning to soften – not in any way gooey or melting, just not rock solid, so it grates easily in long strips.

Pop the tart out of the baking pan and transfer to a plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over, so it piles up high. The tart should be served fridge-cold so that it stays reasonably firm. It keeps wonderfully well and can easily be made a day in advance.


Guilt-free because…


Avocados are high in essential omega fats, which are food for the brain, nervous system, skin and hair. Contrary to popular belief, avocados do not make you fat! In fact, studies have shown that those who have high amounts of healthy fats like avocados (and indeed coconut oil) in their diet are more likely to be a healthy weight.


Hot Tips


Gloucester OId Spot Pork -two young lads aged 14 and 18 from Co Carlow bought their first pigs in 2008, they now have 40 pigs – wouldn’t one of those make a super Christmas pressie? – 059 9155058 –


Rocket Fuel – I love the way so many people are dreaming up new food products to sell. Possibly the best place to find innovation is at Farmer’s Markets. The Rocket Man aka Jack Crotty is now also doing a great granola and a drink labelled ‘Rocket Fuel’, a scary looking pink blueberry and ginger cordial that warms the cockles of your heart either hot or cold – so good – Jack Crotty – 086 822 9624


Free Range Birds for Christmas – Still time to order your free range Goose or a beautiful  Bronze Turkeys now from Dan and Ann Aherne from Ballysimon, Midleton, Co Cork or find them at Midleton Farmers Market very Saturday – 021 463 1058 – 086 165 9258.


Festive Wine Course with Colm McCan and Peter Corr at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday 13th December at 2:00pm to 5:30pm – €95.00 – 021 4646785 to book –


Darina’s Book of the Week – Ever wondered how some of the classic dishes got their name, Beef Wellington, Tarte Tatin even a Reuben sandwich, what has meringue with ice-cream got to do with Alaska? Does chicken Kiev come from Kiev? Who was Arnold Bennet who created that wonderful smoked haddock omelette. Who invented Oysters Rockefeller, was it the president himself or was it created in his honour? Well, ‘Who Put the Beef in ‘Wellington’’ by James Winter has all the answers – published by Kyle Books.



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