ArchiveFebruary 2013

This Could Change Your Life!

Safefood Ireland, recently commissioned a report on The Cost of Overweight and Obesity on the Island of Ireland. The report which was compiled with the help of the HSE (Health Service Executive) and NUI (National University of Ireland) Galway, DCU (Dublin City University), IPH (Institute of Public Health Ireland), National Cancer Registry Ireland, Queens University Belfast and Safe Food highlighted the lack of information to date. This comprehensive assessment of the cost of overweight and obesity in Ireland began in 2012 – the findings are quite simply shocking, 60% of Irish people are now overweight or obese and the cost to the exchequer read taxpayer is between 1 – 9 % of total healthcare.  That’s bad enough but indirect costs maybe as much again or even more.

Direct costs include In-Patient, Out-Patient, General Practice – drugs and prescription costs.

Indirect costs include lost productivity in the work place due to overweight and obesity related illness, premature mortality.

The list of chronic conditions associated with overweight and obesity is long and scary, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, clot on lung, back pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, asthma, gout, gallbladder disease, colon cancer, oesophageal cancer…

The chance of getting Type 2 diabetes increased by 140% in overweight men and 574% in men who are obese.

In women, it’s significantly higher 292% when overweight but a shocking increase of 1141% when obese. To see the whole report go to

So what to do, well I don’t have a magic bullet but this much I do know – we’ll all feel much better if we eliminate all processed foods from our diets.

  1. Buy only or mostly fresh food, in season with the exception of bananas and citrus and avoid anything that makes health claims.
  2. Find a butcher you can trust, learn about inexpensive cuts of meat and offal and find out how to cook them.
  3. Eliminate all fizzy drinks totally from your diet and all breakfast cereals, with the exception of porridge, muesli and granola.
  4. Eat lots of peas, beans, pulses and good grains – they are an easy inexpensive form of protein and are endlessly versatile.
  5. Don’t eat between meals, standing up or on the run. Sit down around a table, eat slowly, you’ll find that you are eating less and enjoying your food more.
  6. Grow some of your own food, something, anything, anywhere, in any container you can find – on the windowsill, balcony, back yard, haggard field, just do it.
  7. Get a few hens, you don’t need much space, if you put them in a roomy chicken coop and move them around your lawn. They must have fresh grass to healthy, otherwise forget about it and source the best you can from a local farmer country market or local shop. What kind of a country do live in where it is illegal for your local shop to sell local farmers eggs, unless they are registered (quite a mission)
  8. Mothers and fathers of Ireland rise up and insist that the supermarkets remove all sweets and bars away from the tills where you queue with your children and while you are at it ask for a crèche so you don’t have to bring your child into the supermarket at all. Don’t underestimate the effect of pester power.
  9. Whenever possible, support small local shops, it’s a different kind of shopping, more personal and you’ll find dirty carrots and potatoes, yippee!
  10. Avoid all light, low fat and diet foods and lets cut our sugar intake by half immediately.

Buy Michael Pollan’s book ‘Food Rules’ it only costs about €6.00 and it could change your life!


Potato and Wild Garlic Soup


There are two types, Wild garlic (Allium ursinum), which grows in shady places along the banks of streams and in undisturbed mossy woodland, and Snowbells (Allium triquetrum), these resemble white bluebells and usually grow along the sides of country lanes. It’s delicious in salads, pasta, sauces, soups and stews.

Serves 6


45g (1 1/2oz) butter

150g (5oz) peeled and chopped potatoes

110g (4oz) peeled and chopped onion

salt and freshly ground pepper

900ml (1 1/2 pint) water or home-made chicken stock or vegetable stock

300ml (1/2 pint) creamy milk

150g (5oz) chopped wild garlic leaves (Allium Ursinum)



wild garlic flowers


Melt the butter in heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile prepare the wild garlic leaves. When the vegetables are almost soft but not coloured add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the wild garlic and boil with the lid off for 4-5 minutes with the lid off approximately until the wild garlic is cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser or food processor. Taste and correct seasoning.  Serve sprinkled with a few wild garlic flowers.


West Cork Cheddar Cheese ‘Foccacia’



Soda Bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 20-30 minutes to bake.  It is best eaten on the day it is made but is still perfectly edible next day and is also very good toasted.  It is certainly another of the great convertibles.  We’ve had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses and now the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble Soda Bread.   Here we bake it flat with a bubbly Cheddar cheese topping.


1 lb (450g) plain white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon bread soda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 14 fl.ozs (400ml) approx.

4-6 ozs (110-175g) Irish mature Cheddar cheese


1 Swiss Roll tin 12 x 9 inches (31 x 23cm)


First fully preheat your oven to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8.


Sieve all the dry ingredients.   Make a well in the centre.  Pour all of the milk in at once.  Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky.  When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board.  Tidy it up, flip over and roll the dough into a rectangle, approx.12x 9 inches (31 x 23cm).   Brush the tin with extra virgin olive oil. Press the dough gently into the tin. Scatter the grated cheese evenly over the top.


Bake in a hot oven for 5 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6 for about 20-25 minutes or until just cooked. The cheese should be bubbly and golden on top.


Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Cut into squares and serve.


Other yummy toppings:

Tomato Fondue and Cheddar cheese

Piperonata and Pepperoni


Gratin of Cod with Leeks and Crunchy Buttered Crumbs



Fresh fish with a crunchy topping in a creamy sauce is always tempting. There is an added bonus with this recipe because one can do many variations, all of which are delicious.

Even without the leeks this is delicious.


Serves 6-8


2 1/4 lbs (1.1kg) hake, cod, ling, haddock, grey sea mullet or pollock

salt and freshly ground pepper

1lb (450g) leeks

1 oz (25g) butter


Mornay Sauce


1 pint (600ml) milk

a few slices of carrot and onion

3 or 4 peppercorns

a sprig of thyme and parsley

2 ozs (55g) approx. roux (1oz (25g) butter and 1oz (25g) flour)

5-6 ozs (140-170g) grated Cheddar or 3 ozs (75g) grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon mustard preferably Dijon

salt and freshly ground pepper


1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley (optional)

1/2 oz (15g) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper


Buttered Crumbs


1 ozs (25g) butter

2 ozs (50g) soft, white breadcrumbs


1 3/4 lbs (790g) Duchesse Potato


First make the Mornay sauce. Put the cold milk into a saucepan with a few slices of carrot and onion, 3 or 4 peppercorns and a sprig of thyme and parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4-5 minutes, and remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes if you have enough time.


Strain out the vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil and thicken with roux to a coating consistency.  Take off the heat, allow to cool for 1 minute then add the mustard and two thirds of the grated cheese, keep the remainder of the cheese for sprinkling over the top. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. Add the parsley if using.


Next make the buttered crumbs. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool.


Sweat 1lb (450g) finely sliced leeks in 1oz (25g) butter in a covered casserole over a gently heat – 5 – 6 minutes should be enough, they don’t need to be fully cooked.


Skin the fish and cut into portions: 6 ozs (175g) is good for a main course, 3 ozs (75g) for a starter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lightly butter the ovenproof dish, sprinkle the cooked leeks on the bottom, lay the fish on top and coat with the Mornay sauce. Mix the remaining grated cheese with the buttered crumbs and sprinkle over the top. Pipe a ruff of fluffy Duchesse Potato around the edge if you want to have a whole meal in one dish.


Cook in a moderate oven, 180ºC/350°F/gas mark 4, for 25-30 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and the top is golden brown and crispy. If necessary flash under the grill for a minute or two before you serve, to brown the edges of the potato.



Blood Orange Tart


Blood Oranges appear in our shops for just about 4 weeks from the end of January, so we use them in juices and cocktails, fruit salad and tarts.


Serves 8


175g (6ozs) white flour

1 tablespoon castor sugar

75g (3ozs) butter

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons orange juice or water approx.



1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks

100g (3 1/2ozs) castor sugar

75g (3ozs) butter

75g (3ozs) ground almonds

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier


6 blood oranges

4-6 tablespoons apricot glaze


10 inch (25.5cm) tart tin with removable base


Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the castor sugar.  Cut the cold butter into cubes, rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Mix the orange juice or water with the egg yolk and use to bind the pastry.  Add a little more water if necessary but don’t make it too sticky.  Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.  Roll out the pastry, line the tart tin. Fill with baking beans and bake blind for 20 – 25 minutes.


Meanwhile cream the butter, add the castor sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, beat well and then stir in the ground almonds and the liqueur.


When the tart is par-baked, allow to cool. Brush the base with apricot glaze and fill with the almond mixture, return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes approx. or until cooked and firm to the touch both in the centre as well as at the sides.  Meanwhile remove the peel and pith from the blood oranges and segment, drain and arrange in a pattern on top of the warm tart.  Alternatively slice the peeled oranges into thin rounds and arrange slightly over-lapping on top of the warm tart.  This looks prettiest but is slightly trickier to slice.  Either way paint evenly with apricot glaze.  Serve warm with a bowl of softly whipped cream.


Citrus Fruit Salad


In the winter when many fruits have abysmal flavour the citrus fruit are at their best, this delicious fresh tasting salad uses a wide variety of that ever expanding family.   It’s particularly good with blood oranges which appear in the shops for only a few weeks, so make the most of them.   Ugli fruit, Pomelo, Tangelos, Sweeties or any other members of the citrus family may be used in season.


Serves 6 approx.


1/2 lb (225g) Kumquats

12 fl ozs (350ml) water

7 ozs (200g) sugar

1 lime

1/2 lb (225g) Clementines

1/4-1/2 lb (110g-225g) Tangerines or Mandarins

2 blood oranges

1 pink grapefruit

lemon juice to taste if necessary


Slice the kumquats into 1/4 inch (5mm) rounds, remove pips. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat, add the sliced kumquats. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool. Remove the zest from the lime with a zester and add with the juice to the kumquats.  Meanwhile peel the tangerines and clementines and remove as much of the white pith and strings as possible. Slice into rounds of 1/4 inch (5mm) thickness, add to the syrup. Segment the pink grapefruit and blood oranges and add to the syrup also. Leave to macerate for at least an hour. Taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary. Serve chilled.


Almond and Orange Florentines


Makes about 20


vegetable oil for brushing

2 organic egg whites

100g (3 1/2oz) icing sugar

260g (9 1/2oz) flaked almonds

grated zest of 1 orange


Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2.


Line a heavy baking tray with greaseproof paper and lightly brush with vegetable oil. Next to you have a small bowl with some cold water.


In a mixing bowl place together the whites, sugar, almonds and zest. Mix them gently until blended. Dip your hand in the bowl of water and pick up portions of the mix to make little mounds on the lined tray, well-spaced apart.


Dip a fork in the water and flatten each biscuit very thinly. You want to make the biscuits as thin as possible without creating many gaps between the almond flakes.

Place the baking tray in the oven and bake approximately 12 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown. Check underneath one biscuit to make sure they are cooked through.


Allow to cool down well. Gently, using a palette knife, remove the biscuits from the baking sheet and into a sealed jar.


Hot Tips

We picked the first of the wild garlic (Allium ursinum) leaves or ransoms this week and added them to salads, soups, sauces…Wild garlic butter is delicious with a piece of pan grilled fish. The first wild garlic grows in slightly shaded places, in woods and on the edges of fields. Allium Triquetrum looks more like a whote blue bell and more likely to be found on roadsides but a little later. Make the most of wild garlic while it’s in season for the next month or so.


Alicia Joy O’Sullivan had her first outing of the Skibbereen Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago.  She was inspired to bake by Rachel’s TV program ‘Bake!’ A beautiful little array of buns, cake and tarts. Let’s support and encourage our young food entrepreneurs. When we met Alicia she sweetly gave me a slice of her special cake to bring home to Rachel, her food hero.

The Dublin food scene is really hopping seems a new restaurant or café is opening every couple of weeks; I still haven’t got to Dylan McGrath Fade St Social in Dublin 2, which I hear is an exciting edition to the Dublin dining scene  I did however get to Hatch and Son beside the Little Museum of Dublin on Stephens Green (not to be missed) by 7pm on Thursday evening they’d had such a busy day that they’d almost run out of food!  Find them at 15 St Stephen’s Green Dublin 2. Telephone +353 1 6610075 – Hugo Arnold and the Dominic and Peaches Kemp are behind this enterprise, cool space and a real emphasis on Irish artisan ingredients, what Hugo describes as ‘No fuss, just good, honest Irish food.’

The demand for places on the Transition Year Work Experience Program at Ballymaloe Cookery School  in recent years has been phenomenal. In response, three new One Week Transition Year Cookery Courses before Easter 2013, have been added to the course schedule. TY Students will learn a variety of skills and cover a range of topics both in demonstration and Hands-On sessions. In one busy week students will learn how to make homemade bread, jam, soups, yummy starters, main courses, desserts, biscuits and even a cake or two plus how to make butter and yoghurt from our own Jersey cow’s milk and cream. Please phone 021 4646785 to book. Dates of courses are 25th February  – 1st March and  4th to 8th March and 11th to 15th March 2013.

The Bowlers Meatball Book – Jez Felwick

Jez Felwick, lives my dream job I so want to have a food truck…ever since I saw the first food truck in California about 10 years ago I have longed to be 40 maybe 45 years younger and head off into the sunset with my Airstream, setting up here and there on street corners, at markets and festivals doing great food with local produce, pickles, relishes and crusty artisan bread. Who would have thought it!

Since it doesn’t look like it will become a reality for this aged hippie, I’ve been encouraging my students to consider it as an option and several have with considerable success.

The aforementioned, Jez Felwick AKA The Bowler – a spirited student who did the 12 Week Certificate Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School in April 2006 – has a food truck that has created a street food sensation in London.


The ‘Lawn Ranger’ – his grass covered street food van has been rolling out meat ball classics at various markets, Summer festivals and music events all over the UK. Classic combinations include Pork and Fennel Meatballs, Sweaty Balls – so hot they make you sweat – and the Popeye – packed with spinach and beef chuck. Jez has great fun creating unusual and pun-laden recipes, such as Bjorn Balls (a Scandinavian take on a classic meatball) and Balls Games – Game Balls (made with pheasant and bacon). And it’s not all meat; fish lovers adore Jez’s recipes for Wasabi Salmon & Sesame Seed Balls and Tuna and Ginger Balls, and veggies queue up for Brown Rice and Lentil Balls and Bean Balls.


So meatballs are all the rage. Grazia Magazine recently wrote ‘Who knew meatballs could be so hip?’ and meatballs have been buzzing on the US street food scene for a few years now – so it was only a matter of time before they reached our shores. Meatballs – whether they are made from meat, fish or veggies – are really good for and are also deeply comforting. They’re easy and fun to make whether you’re 8 or 80 and they’re also brilliant for using up ‘fridge odds and sods’.


I can’t image how Jez got time to write his first cook book – The Bowlers Meat Ball Cookbook published by Mitchell Beazley but he did and it’s full of great advice and exciting recipes for meatballs, fish balls and veggie balls, inexpensive comforting food. Who knew that meat balls could be so popular and that truck food could be such an exciting scene.


Vietnamese Noodle Soup with Pork Balls


Preparation time 40 minutes Cooking time 1 hour


Serves 4-6


Whenever I travel abroad now, I always try to factor in a visit to a local cooking class. It’s a great way to get an insight into the food culture of a country, find out about new ingredients and come away with a few handy tips. I went to Vietnam on my honeymoon and couldn’t move for pork balls, especially in soups, skewers and grilled. Here I have dropped some into a fairly traditional Vietnamese noodle soup that would be eaten day, night and even for breakfast.


The balls


1 large free-range egg

2 tablespoons plain flour

500g (18oz) pork shoulder, minced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

1 tablespoon chopped coriander

2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

3 tablespoons Nuoc Cham (see recipe)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2.5 litres chicken stock

1 stick of cinnamon

4 spring onions, sliced lengthways

1 x 5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 star anise

200–300g (70z – 10 ½ oz) rice vermicelli noodles (allow 50g (2oz) dried weight per person)

1 red Thai chilli, seeds removed and sliced

2 tablespoons soy sauce

3 shallots, thinly sliced

150g (5oz) beansprouts, blanched


Beat the egg with the plain flour in a large mixing bowl. Add the minced pork, spring onions, coriander, ginger and Nuoc Cham and mix with your hands until well combined.

Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers and fry until cooked. Taste to check the seasoning and add more if necessary. Form the mixture into 16–18 balls each 4cm in diameter, packing each one firmly.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan and add the balls in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Brown the balls for 3 minutes on each side then remove them from the pan and set aside. In a large pan, add the Chicken Stock, cinnamon, spring onions, fresh ginger, sugar, salt, fish sauce and star anise, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes to let the flavours infuse. Strain the broth into another pan and taste for flavour – you can add a little Nuoc Cham if it needs a boost. Turn the heat back on, drop in the pork balls and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the balls are cooked through. Meanwhile, drop the noodles into a pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then drain, refresh under cold water and drain again. Pour the soy sauce into a little dish and add the sliced chilli.

Drop the beansprouts into a saucepan of boiling water. Return to the boil and cook for 1 minute, then drain. Refresh in ice cold water and drain again.

Divide the noodles, shallots and beansprouts between your serving bowls, then pour over the broth and balls and garnish with coriander, basil and a wedge of lime. Serve the chilli soy sauce on the side to mix in if you require an extra flavour kick.


Nuoc Cham


Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time none


Makes 200 ml (7fl oz)


This sauce is a staple in Vietnam. Primarily a dipping sauce for just about everything,

it balances the sweet, sour, salty and spicy elements that make Asian cooking so good

and gives a nice flavour to the pork balls used in Vietnamese Noodle Soup.


125ml (4floz) water

50g (2oz) granulated sugar

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 small garlic cloves

2 red Thai chillies, seeds removed and finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons fish sauce


Put the water, sugar, lime juice and vinegar into a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste to check the balance of sweet and sour, making adjustments if necessary. Combine the garlic, chillies and salt, using a pestle and mortar to create a smooth paste. Mix the garlic paste with the liquid in the bowl and add the fish sauce. Stir and taste again, checking the balance of sour, sweet, salt and spice.



Beef & Chorizo Balls


Preparation time 20 minutes Cooking time 30 minutes


Serves 6–8


Chorizo is one of my favourite ingredients. I love it. Sweet, spicy and smoky. I will keep a cooking chorizo on hand to add to just about anything, in order to take it to the next level. A starter for ten is to finely slice or dice it, fry it until crispy and use it like a crouton on soups, salads and in sandwiches. It makes a great partner to beef, so it was thrown into the mixer for this recipe early on.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 large free-range egg

500g (18oz) beef chuck steak, minced

200g (7oz) cooking chorizo, sweet or spicy, finely diced

400g (14oz) white rice, cooked weight (100g uncooked)

200g (7oz) Manchego cheese, coarsely grated

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

100g (3 ½ oz) breadcrumbs

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons chopped parsley


Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF), Gas Mark 7 and line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking parchment.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the shallots and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and translucent. Beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the minced beef, shallots, garlic, chorizo, rice, cheese, smoked paprika, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, salt and parsley and mix with your hands until well combined.


Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers and fry until cooked. Taste to check the seasoning and add more if necessary. Form the mixture into 28–30 balls each about 5cm in diameter, packing each one firmly, and place them on the prepared baking trays.


Bake for 18–20 minutes, turning the trays halfway through – the balls should begin to brown on the top. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t get burnt underneath. I often serve these Bap ’n’ Ball style. Choose a bread roll of your choosing (I like a toasted ciabatta or brioche burger bun).


Great Balls of Fire


Preparation time 20 minutes Cooking time 35 minutes


Serves 4–6


This is the first ball I developed, and the first ball that I served to a member of the paying public. That was the moment when things really started to roll, with my cooking truly exposed and the adrenaline pumping. It felt good. This is a ball with plenty of flavour and texture, and I like to load up the chilli to increase the fire. The balls can take a good braise in any sauce, but I serve them in my spiced red onion and tomato version.


100g (3 ½ oz) ricotta cheese

2 free-range eggs

400g (14oz) pork shoulder, finely minced

200g (7oz) beef chuck steak, finely minced

100g (3 ½ oz) Japanese panko breadcrumbs or fresh breadcrumbs

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander stems, leaves reserved

2 teaspoons sea salt

½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 x recipe Spiced Red Onion & Tomato Sauce (see recipe)


Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF), Gas Mark 7 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment. Put the ricotta into a large bowl and fork through to break it up. Add the eggs and whisk together. Add the minced pork and beef, panko crumbs (or breadcrumbs), garlic, coriander stems, salt and chilli flakes, and mix with your hands until well combined. Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers and fry until cooked. Taste to check the seasoning and spice levels and add more salt and chilli flakes if necessary. Form the mixture into about 18 balls each 4–5cm in diameter, packing each one firmly, and place them on the prepared baking tray. Bake in the oven for 15–18 minutes, turning the tray round halfway through – the balls should begin to brown on the top. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t get burnt underneath. Meanwhile, heat the sauce in a large pan over a medium heat. When the balls are cooked, add them to the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with soured cream on the side and a few leaves of coriander scattered on top, and a baby spinach and rocket salad.


Spiced Red Onion & Tomato Sauce


Preparation time 10 minutes Cooking time 1 hour


Serves 4–6


When I’m asked what gives this sauce its flavour, I simply say, ‘I just get all the spices you can buy whole, toast them, grind them and put them into the sauce.’ Although this is a slight exaggeration, it’s pretty much the case. Be sure to take your time with this sauce, making sure the onions cook down slowly, then let the sauce reduce for a rich flavour.


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 onions, thinly sliced

1 x 5cm piece of fresh root ginger,

peeled and finely chopped

3 medium red chillies, seeds removed, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander stalks

2 tablespoons Bowler’s Dry Spice Blend (see recipe)

1 tablespoon tomato purée

2 x 400g (14oz) tins of Italian/quality chopped tomatoes

400ml (14fl oz) Chicken Stock

25g (1oz) soft light brown sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

75g (3oz) dried cranberries or sultanas/raisins

juice of 1 lime

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onions, stir, then cover the pan and leave to cook gently for 10 minutes, or until very soft, but not browned. At this stage, I would always add a few pinches of salt and several grinds of pepper so that the onions are seasoned from the start, meaning that you won’t have to add so much later in the recipe.

Add the ginger, chillies, garlic, coriander stalks and Bowler’s Dry Spice. Blend and stir for 4 minutes, or until the chillies start to soften, making sure nothing catches on the base of the pan and burns. Then stir in the tomato purée and cook for 3 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock and a few pinches of salt and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking. Add three-quarters of the sugar, the soy sauce and the dried fruit. Stir and simmer for a further 15 minutes, then taste. The sweetness of the sauce can vary depending on the flavour of the tomatoes, so add more sugar or soy sauce if necessary. Taste again and add some or all of the lime juice. You should now have a thick, rich sauce that has a deep, sweet and sour flavour with warmth from the chillies and spices. Best served with Great Balls of Fire.


The Bowler’s Dry Spice Blend


Preparation time 5 minutes Cooking time 10 minutes


Makes approximately 135g (5oz)


This is a great way to add some deep spice to your sauces and other cooking. It really pays to buy all these spices whole and toast them in a dry non-stick heavy-based pan. Once toasted, the spices can be ground in a pestle and mortar, coffee grinder or food processor. The flavour you get from whole spices is much more intense and fresh than that of their ready-ground brothers, which will lose flavour once they hit the packet and certainly once opened. Heat a heavy-based non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until it starts to smoke.


1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

½ a star anise

1 whole cardamom pod

1 dried bay leaf

1 x 4cm stick of cinnamon, broken

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seeds

½ teaspoon nigella seeds


Add all the ingredients to the dry pan except the mustard seeds and nigella seeds, and shake the pan every few seconds to keep the spices moving. After 1 minute add the mustard seeds and nigella seeds. After a further minute there will be a nutty, fragrant aroma coming off the pan and the coriander seeds and fennel seeds will start to turn a red-brown colour. Once this happens and the seeds begin to pop, remove the pan from the heat and tip the spices on to a plate to cool down. (If you leave them in the pan they will continue to cook and will quickly burn.) If using an electric grinder or processor, make sure the spices are cool to the touch before grinding in batches – if they are still hot they can give off a bit of moisture and stick to the sides of the machine. Alternatively use a pestle and mortar and grind the spices to a fine powder by hand. Once ground, you can keep this spice mix in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.


Green Chilli Chicken Balls


Preparation time 20 minutes Cooking time 25 minutes


Serves 4–6


I love these balls because you can really taste the green chilli in them – it adds a great freshness. I use chicken thighs here because they have much more flavour and the result is a lot moister compared to using breast meat, which can sometimes dry out too quickly.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

8 fresh green chillies, seeds removed, finely chopped

1 x 4cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

20 cashew nuts

3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander, plus extra leaves to garnish

2 free-range eggs

2 tablespoons milk

750g (1 ½ lbs + 2oz) boneless chicken thighs, minced

2 teaspoons Garam Masala

150g (5oz) breadcrumbs

2 teaspoons salt freshly ground black pepper


lime wedges, to serve


Preheat the oven to 220ºC (425ºF), Gas Mark 7 and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking parchment. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onion and cook on a low heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, chillies, ginger and cashew nuts and cook on a low heat for 3 more minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, then put into a food processor with the coriander and blitz to a rough paste. You might have to add a splash of olive oil or water to help it blend properly. Beat the eggs with the milk in a large bowl, then add the paste, minced chicken, garam masala, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and mix well. Heat a small frying pan over a high heat. Break off a small amount of the mixture, flatten between your fingers and fry until cooked. Taste to check the seasoning and add more salt and spices if necessary. Form the mixture into 20–22 meatballs about 5cm in diameter, packing each one firmly, and place them on the prepared baking tray. Bake for 15–18 minutes, turning the tray halfway through – the balls should begin to brown on the top. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t get burnt underneath.




Find of the Week – The Courgette and Ginger Jam I found in the Skibbereen Farmers Market is made on Loughbeg Farm near Schull in West Cork by Walter and Josphine Ryan-Purcell  – a completely delicious spread that was so good slathered on my morning toast. It’s also yummy with goat’s cheese, with black pudding, in a sponge cake…

Walter and Josephine Ryan-Purcell also run a residential course in April ‘The Good Life’ at Loughbeg Farm. Live for a week on a small working farm in West Cork. Learn how to grow vegetables, milk goats, make cheese, yoghurt, ice cream, chutneys, jams, and raise pigs, sheep, cattle, poultry, and look after horses. See for details – sounds idyllic. 00 353 (0) 86 819 7188 –


Food Writing Course with Clarissa Hyman – 1 Day Course on Saturday 23rd February 9:30am to 5:00pm – at Ballymaloe Cookery School – €175.00 lunch included. Clarissa Hyman is a multi-award winning writer and author. She writes for a wide range of newspapers, magazines and guides, and has published three books on food, cookery and culture: The Spanish Kitchen (2005), Cucina Siciliana (2002) and The Jewish Kitchen (2003). She also contributed to “How the British Fell   in Love with Food” (2010), and wrote a highly acclaimed column in Country Living magazine about British food. Phone 021 4646785 or online


My Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming up so if you haven’t popped a card into the post get onto it right away, all the youngsters are agog with excitement and don’t we all love a little romance in our lives.

Many restaurants are already booked out of ‘tables for two’ on the 14th  February but there is always the 13th and the 15th or you could cook a sizzling supper at home on St Valentine’s Day and really clock up brownie points. Try to ‘suss out’ favourite dishes ahead of time it’ll probably be comfort food maybe even the rice pudding Mummy used to make. Well if it is, so be it. The golden skin, an irresistible blob of softly whipped cream and some soft Barbados sugar on top transforms this simple pud into a feast. However if you wanted to make it more edgy, how about scattering a few pomegranate seeds and coarsely chopped pistachio nuts on top – or maybe add a few cardamom pods to the milk while cooking.

Blood oranges are in season just now, this little salad is fresh tasting and will flit across the lips and wake up the palette. I also love dips; they’re good for sharing and can be made well ahead. We love this new puréed beetroot and yoghurt with za’atar from Ottolenghi’ s last book Jerusalem. Serve it with some flat bread or toast.

A warm and comforting soup can also do the trick, we have tons of kale in the garden at present so we’ve been eating it in every possible way, this kale soup got an enthusiastic response recently but if you don’t love the sound of that substitute watercress or cabbage for the kale – still great but Curly Kale Soup really hits the spot.

I chose a tagine for main course, a Moroccan stew so easy to serve with couscous and a dollop of yogurt.

Follow it with a salad of winter leaves and whatever pud you fancy – it’s hard to beat a little choccie mousse and you could always put it in a heart shape dish – absolutely always a hit! And it might just bring on a proposal!

Curly Kale Soup

If you have curly kale, you usually have lots of it. One way to use it up is in this delicious soup. When I eat this, I feel like every mouthful is doing me good. Note that if this soup is to be reheated, just bring it to the boil and serve. Prolonged boiling spoils the colour and flavour of green soups.

Serves 6 

50g (2oz) butter

140g (5oz) potatoes, peeled and diced (7mm/1/3in)

110g (4oz) onions, peeled and diced (7mm/1/3in)

salt and freshly ground pepper

1.2 litres (2 pints) chicken stock or vegetable stock

250g (9oz) curly kale leaves, stalks removed and chopped

50–125ml (2 – 4fl oz) cream or full-cream milk


Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and

onions and turn them in the butter until well-coated. Sprinkle with salt and grind on some fresh black pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and boil gently, covered, until the potatoes are soft. Add the chopped kale and cook with the lid off, until the kale is cooked, about 5 minutes. Keep the lid off to retain the green colour. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose both their fresh flavour and colour. Purée the soup in a liquidiser or food processor. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the cream or creamy milk just before serving.


Ottolenghi’s Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar


Serves 6


900g (2lb) medium beetroots – (500g (18oz) after cooking and peeling)

2 garlic cloves – crushed

1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

250g (9oz) Greek yoghurt

1 ½ tablespoon olive oil, plus extra to finish the dish

1 tablespoon za’atar



To Garnish


2 spring onions, thinly sliced

15g (3 /4 oz) toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed

60g (2 ½ oz) soft goats cheese, crumbled


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6. Wash the beetroot and place in a roasting tin. Put them in the oven and cook, uncovered, until a knife slices easily into the centre, approximately 1 hour. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel and cut each into about 6 pieces. Allow to cool down.

Place the beetroot, garlic, chilli and yoghurt in a food processor bowl and blend to a smooth paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in the date syrup, olive oil, za’atar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Taste and add more salt if you like.

Transfer the mash onto a flat serving plate and use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture around the plate. Scatter the spring onion, hazelnut and cheese on top and finally drizzle with a bit of oil Serve at room temperature.


If the beetroot is watery and the dip ends up runny and doesn’t hold its shape, consider adding a little mashed potato to help thicken it.


Lamb Tagine with Jewelled Couscous with Pomegranates and Pistachio Nuts


Serves 4


1 kg lamb shoulder diced

2 tablespoons oil

30g (1 1/4 oz) butter

4 onions, chopped

2 celery stalks, sliced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon chilli powder

2 bay leaves

350g (12oz) stoned prunes, soaked in lots of water for at least an hour or overnight

175g (6oz) dried apricots

hot stock or water

chopped fresh coriander to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a high heat, brown the lamb on all sides in batches.

Heat another few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, add the onions and celery and stir and cook on a medium heat until soft and lightly coloured, about 8 -10 minutes.  Sprinkle in the garlic and cook for a minute or two. Add the spices begin to stir for 2 – 3 minutes until they release their aromas.

Add the bay leaves and dried fruit and pour over enough hot liquid to just cover.  Bring to the boil, then simmer very gently over a low heat until very tender – 1 ½ hours. Sprinkle with plenty of chopped coriander and serve with couscous.


Jewelled Couscous


Serves 8


350g (12oz) couscous, precooked

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

50g (2ozs) dried apricots, soaked in cold water

50g (2ozs) raisins

450ml (16fl oz) homemade chicken stock or water

salt and freshly ground pepper

pomegranate seeds from 1/2 pomegranate

50g (2oz) pistachio nuts (or toasted almonds) halved

2 tablespoons flat parsley leaves

2 tablespoons coriander leaves


Freshly squeezed lemon juice, if necessary


Put the couscous into a Pyrex bowl.  Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the couscous and rub with your hands.  Drain and chop the apricots and add with the raisins to the couscous.  Bring the stock to the boil, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pour over the couscous and dried fruit.  Allow to soak for 15 minutes, stir every now and then.  Cover the bowl, heat through in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 10 minutes.   We usually put the bowl into a Bain-Marie.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Add the pomegranate seeds, pistachio nuts and fresh herbs just before serving, taste and add a little freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary.



Valentine’s Day Rice Pudding


A creamy rice pudding is one of the most nostalgic comfort foods. You need to use short-grain rice, which plumps up as it cooks. This is definitely a forgotten pudding and it gets an unbelievable reaction every time!


Serves 6–8


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

50g (2oz) sugar

small knob of butter

1. 2 litres (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.


Three good things to serve with rice pudding:

•           Softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar (make a heart stencil to sprinkle the sugar over)

•           Compote of apricots and cardamom

•           Compote of sweet apples and rose geranium



Seems like it’s all happening in Ringsend and Stoneybatter – the Shoreditch and Hackney of Dublin. Recently I popped into Food Game on Lotts Road near the Aviva Stadium, a tiny, cute little café and foodstore with a signal red awning and a couple of tables on the pavement. The interior is hip and cool, the menu is short, simple and well-chosen and the home baking pretty damn delicious, try their choccie dipped oatcakes or bacon and egg pies. Bring along your special pet.

Winter Suppers – Michelle Darmody’s Cake Café in Dublin is offering another treat this year – Giles Clark whose impressive CV includes stints at Noma in Copenhagen, Alinea in Chicago and St Johns Bread and Wine in London – will cook a series of Winter Suppers on 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th February. Tickets cost €35.00 which includes a four course meal – you’ll need to book fast – 01- 4789394.

The buffaloes at Toonsbridge Dairy near Macroom, West Cork are milking again so we can look forward to Irish Mozzarella within the next few weeks. I recently picked up some plump Turkish figs and unsulphured apricots as well as olives from the Olive Stall close to the Midleton Farmers Market – 026 41471.

Come and make some noise at Ballymaloe Cookery School! East Cork Slow Food are having a Wassailing ceremony of eating, drinking and singing to scare away evil spirits and ensure a bountiful harvest of apples in the Autumn – today at 5.30pm in the orchard near the Shell House. Delicious free range pig on a spit and mulled apple juice with lots of dancing and singing around the bonfire, bring something to make music and noise and wear your wellies! Slow Food Members – €4.00 – Non Slow Food Members – €5.00. Pulled free range pork sandwich €10.000. Proceeds to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Enquiries 085-2295237.

Marvellous Marmalade

Marmalade seems to be a very personal taste. More than any other preserve it seems to evoke real passion. You don’t find people getting enthused in the same way about how they like their blackcurrant or raspberry jam. On the other hand a discussion on marmalade often elicits very firmly held view points and definite preferences. For some it must be totally traditional, made with Seville oranges and be dark and bitter. Others opt for fresh and fruity, some of us favour chunky peel, for others its slivery shreds. Another whole group hate any peel at all and just want bitter/sweet orange jelly to slather on their morning toast.

Marmalade is after all, mostly a breakfast thing – so it must be quite right at the time of the day when we are doing our best to wake up and come to terms with the world – one wrong note can upskuttle the whole day!

Marmalade making like barbequing and grilling, also appeals to guys, maybe it’s something to do with all that chopping, for some it brings back memories of childhood.

For whatever reason, marmalade definitely presses buttons for many, which may help to explain the extraordinary success of the annual Marmalade Festival launched in 2005 in Cumbria. The first Amateur Award had just 60 entries, in 2012, 1,800 jars were entered! The precious jars were posted from all over the world, including The British Virgin Islands, Japan, America, Canada, Spain, France, Gibraltar, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland, Alaska, Austria and South Africa.

This year there are eleven categories in the Amateur Awards and five in The Artisans’ Category – commercial marmalade makers who use the traditional open-pan method. There’s even a children’s competition and for home-bakers there is a new marmalade cake category.

This year for the first time there is a Marmalade Literary Competition so if you’d rather wield a pen than a chopping knife or wooden spoon that category might well appeal to you – you never know you might win a signed copy of a Paddington Bear book, children may also enter.

A few months ago I got a review copy of Marmalade – Sweet and Savoury Spreads for a Sophisticated Taste by Elizabeth Field published by Running Press.

I’ve been saving it until the marmalade oranges came into the shop so I could test some of the recipes.


Darina Allen’s Old Fashioned Seville Orange Marmalade


For those of you who are too busy to make marmalade at present, just buy the fruit and pop it in the freezer until you can snatch a few spare moments.

This is my classic marmalade recipe which I people repeatedly ask me for and the Seville Whole Orange Marmalade below. Seville and Malaga oranges come into the shops after Christmas and are around for 4-5 weeks, these bitter oranges are traditionally used for marmalade.


Makes approx. 7 lbs (3.2kg)


2 lbs (900g) Seville Oranges

4 pints (2.3L) water

1 lemon

4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar


Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips and tie them in a piece of muslin. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight.


Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it.


Add the warmed sugar and stir until all the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 220F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s done.


Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating.   Pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.


N.B. The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it.


Whiskey Marmalade


Add 6 tablespoons of whiskey to the cooking marmalade just before potting.


Seville Whole Orange Marmalade 


Most recipes require you to slice the orange peel first, but with this one you boil the oranges whole and then slice the cooked peel later. With any marmalade it is vital that the original liquid has reduced by half or, better still, two-thirds before the sugar is added; otherwise it takes ages to reach a set and both the flavour and colour will be spoiled. A wide, low-sided stainless-steel saucepan is best for this recipe, about 35.5cm (14 inches) deep and 40.5cm (16 inches) in diameter. If you don’t have one that big, then cook the marmalade in two batches.


Makes about 5.8–6.75kg (13–15lb)


2.25kg (4 1⁄2lb) Seville or Malaga oranges (organic if possible)

4kg (9lb/8 cups) sugar, warmed


Wash the oranges and put them in a stainless-steel saucepan with 5.2 litres (9 pints/22 1/2 cups) of water. Put a plate on top of the oranges to keep them under the surface of the water. Cover the saucepan, then simmer gently until the oranges are soft, about 2 hours. Cool and drain, reserving the water. (If more convenient, leave overnight and continue next day.)


Put a chopping board onto a large baking tray with sides so you won’t lose any juice. Then cut the oranges in half and scoop out the soft centre. Slice the peel finely and put the pips into a muslin bag.


Put the escaped juice, sliced oranges and the muslin bag of pips into a large, wide stainless-steel saucepan with the reserved cooking liquid. Bring to the boil, reduce by half or, better still, two-thirds. Add the warmed sugar and stir over a brisk heat until dissolved. Boil fast until setting point is reached. Pot in sterilised jars and cover immediately. Store in a dark, airy cupboard.

Bitter Orange, Rose Water and Almond Marmalade


Rose water varies in intensity; we found 2 tablespoons ample here and reduce the sugar by half or even one cup for a less sweet result.



Makes 5 jars



3 Seville oranges (about 675 g (1 ½ lbs) thinly sliced with seeds reserved

1 lemon, thinly sliced with seeds reserved

900g (2lb) granulated sugar

30ml (1 fl oz) rose water

35g (1 ½ oz) slivered almonds, toasted in a dry skillet until lightly golden



Put the orange and lemon slices in a medium bowl and cover with 1.5 litres of cold water. Put the seeds in a small bowl and cover with 237mls of water. Leave both to soak at room temperature overnight.


Transfer the citrus slices and their soaking water into a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan. Strain the soaking water from the seeds and add to the saucepan. Place the seeds on a 12 inch (30cm) square of double thickness cheesecloth. Gather up the corners and tie them shut with kitchen string. Add the bag to the saucepan.


Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and gently simmer the mixture for 1 ½ hours or until the citrus peel is tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat. Remove the bag of seeds and when cool enough to handle, squeeze to extract as much pectin into the saucepan as possible. Discard the bag.


Add the sugar and stir over a low heat to dissolve. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 104°C220°F. Use the ‘wrinkle test’ to double check for set. Skim off any scum or floating seeds. Stir in the rose water and almonds. Let stand in the saucepan for 5 minutes before ladling into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 6mm (1/4 inch) of headspace. Turn the jars upside down for a few minutes to ensure even distribution of the fruit. Process the jars in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. When thoroughly cool, label the jars. Store in a cool, dry place.


Blood Orange Marmalade


This recipe comes from the Marmalade Book by Elizabeth Field. We used 2 teaspoons of Campari which we felt was adequate, but you will want to add the liquor to taste or omit altogether.


Makes 4 jars


675g (1lb 6oz) blood oranges approximately, we used two

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime – we used 2

720g (1 1/2lbs/4 cups) granulated sugar, or more to taste

3-4 teaspoons Campari, Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional) (we used two teaspoons Campari)


Slice the tops and bottoms off each orange and discard.  Slice the oranges crosswise as thinly as possible, then cut each slice into four or six wedges.  Discard the seeds.  Place the orange wedges and 1.2 litres/5 cups  of water in a medium mixing bowl, cover, and let stand for 12-24 hours.


Transfer the mixture to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Bring quickly to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the peel is tender when pierced with a fork.  Stir in the lime juice and zest.


Measure out the cooked citrus and liquid: to every cup – measure 150g (3/4 cup) – 175g (1 cup) sugar, according to your preference of sweetness.  Transfer the mixture to a clean, heavy-bottomed saucepan, and add the sugar.  Over a low heat, stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat to medium-high and boil for 15-30 minutes or the mixture has thickened and a sugar thermometer reads 220°F/104°C.  Use the ‘wrinkle test’ to double-check for a firm set.  Stir in the Campari, Cointreau or Grand Marnier if you are using it.


Allow stand in the saucepan for 5 minutes before ladling into hot, sterilized jam jars leaving 5mm (1/4 inch) of headspace.  Seal.  Store in a cool, dark place.


Marmalade Cake with Honeycombed Filling


How delicious does this cake sound it comes from The Duchy Originals Cookbook by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler published by Kyle Books.


Makes a large cake – 16 slices approx.




Silicone sheet or baking tray lined with greaseproof paper

4 litre (7 pint) thick-bottomed saucepan

Sugar thermometer

Round Cake tin with removable base, 24 x 8cm (10x 3in)


For the honeycomb

75g (3oz) Duchy (or good quality local) honey

150ml (¼ pint) liquid glucose

400g (14oz) castor sugar

100ml (3½ fl.oz) water

15g (¾oz) bicarbonate of soda


For the Cake

250g (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature

250g (9oz) caster sugar

3 large eggs and 1 extra yolk (about 250g/9oz in total)

250g (9oz) flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

50g (2oz) ground almonds

150g (5½oz) Duchy Originals (or home-made) Seville orange marmalade, plus 2 extra tablespoons

100ml (3½ fl.oz) double cream

50ml (2fl.oz) crème fráiche or sour cream


Start with the honeycomb.  First loosen the honey and glucose syrup by dipping their containers in warm water, then weigh out into your saucepan.  Then add the sugar and water and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.   Gradually raise the temperature of the pan’s contents to 150C (300F).  Something dramatic is about to happen.

Carefully sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the pan.  The contents will fizz up like lava from the underworld, but don’t be alarmed; this is what puts the tiny air bubbles into the honeycomb.  Stir the mixture to make sure all the powder is incorporated, then pour it out onto your silicone sheet (or baking tray).  Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.

Then take 100g (3½ oz) of the honeycomb and blend it in a food processor.  Stir the remainder in an airtight jar – you will have more than you need  – and you are unlikely to regret it.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350G/gas mark 4.  Grease the cake tin with butter, and then shake a little flour over it to form a non-stick barrier.  Turn the tin upside down and pat it so that any excess flour falls off.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl for 3-5 minutes until pale, light and fluffy.   Lightly beat the eggs, and slowly add them to the butter and sugar, mixing them as you go.   If the mixture starts to curdle, beat a little flour into it to bring it back.

Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl and add the almonds.  Mix until the contents are smooth.  Fold in the marmalade with 4 swirls of the spoon to ensure that the cake is marbled.  Then gently pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven until cooked and firm (about 50 minutes).

Turn the cake onto a wire rack.  When it has cooled, cut it through the middle with a long serrated knife and lift off the top half.

Spread the bottom half of the cake with the 2 extra tablespoons of marmalade.  Then whip up the honeycomb with the cream and crème fraîche until stiff, and blob it over the marmalade.   Replace the top of the cake and leave it to set in a cool place for an hour.





Date for your diary

The Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine – Friday 3rd to Monday 6th May 2013 will bring some of the world’s best known chefs, critics, commentators, kitchen gardeners, foragers and wine experts to East Cork – Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School. The objective of the Festival of Food and Wine is to bring together a wide, varied and international group of cookery writers, journalists, bloggers and critics including Alice Waters, Stephanie Alexander, Claudia Roden, Matthew Fort, David Thompson, Ruth Rodgers, Madhur Jaffrey , Jancis Robinson, Nick Landers, Klaus Meyer…


Want to write a blog but don’t know where to start? Join Lucy Pearce at Ballymaloe Cookery School Saturday 2nd February 2013 from 9:30am to 1:00pm for ‘Get Blogging’ a fast-paced, information-rich course, in just 3 hours you’ll be fired up and ready to go. Take a whistle-stop tour of the food blogging world and see what’s hot and what’s not. Learn just how diverse food blogging is. or phone 021 4646785


O’Connells in Donnybrook – winners of the Best Casual Dining, Irish Restaurant Awards  2012 – News Years resolution for 2013 is to set themselves a mission to buy at least 65% of their core food produce from small Irish Artisan Food Producers. From Skeaganore West Cork Duck to Wexford Lamb and Sally Barnes Smoked Pollock to Free-Range Eggs from The Bergins in Co Laois… and lots of other delicious local food products on their menu. There is also an extensive coeliac menu. Tel (01) 269 6116 & 269 6125



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