ArchiveMay 2013

More from Ballymaloe LitFest 2013

Last week, I promised that I would share some more of the gems cooked by the guest chefs at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 2013. This weekend I have chosen recipes from David Tanis, Skye Gyngel and Claire Ptak who did a cookery demonstration together. What a line up.

David Tanis worked as head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkley CA for over twenty years. He cooked for six months of the year and then had six months off, living the remainder of the time in Paris. He in tandem with all of the others is passionate about the quality of ingredients.

This was his first visit in Ireland and he is totally besotted.  He stayed on for an extra week with another friend who travelled from New York to the festival. They explored south and south west of Ireland and to visited some artisan producers, including the Ferguson family at Gubbeen.

David cooked several duck dishes with Nora Ahern’s and Robbie Fitzsimmon’s ducks.

David is the author of two modern classics A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes, chosen as one of the 50 best cookbooks ever by the Guardian/Observer (U.K.), and Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys, nominated for a James Beard Award.

Skye Gyngell has written three books; A Year in my Kitchen was named the Guild of Food Writers ‘Cookery Book of the Year’ in 2007 and ‘Best Food Book’ at Le Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards. The sequel, My Favourite Ingredients, was published in 2008, and the third, How I Cook, was published in Autumn 2010. Skye cooked the most beautiful food at a Literary Dinner in my house, fresh from the garden and local area. Try her asparagus with Romesco sauce and crème fraiche, I loved Skye’s food at Petersham Nurseries in Richmond and can’t wait to hear news of her new restaurant – not yet confirmed.

Claire Ptak of Violet Cakes in Hackney, London, is another of my favourite cooks. Her fans traipse all across London to get some of her delectable food and her wedding cakes are a ‘must have’ at the chicest weddings. Buckwheat butter cookies with a strawberry geranium fool were a huge hit over the LitFest weekend. Claire is also a food stylist and the author of three cookbooks: Leon: Baking & Puddings; The Whoopie Pie Book; and The Home-Made Sweet Shop. All of which I have in my library also. Each one of these cooks and chefs write such beautiful prose that it’s worth buying their books even if you never picked up a whisk or a wooden spoon.

Several past students of the Ballymaloe Cookery School shone at yet another cookery demonstration – Stevie Parle of the Dock Kitchen restaurant in London shared a platform with Thomasina Miers of Oaxaca restaurant fame and Rachel Allen.

Almost every chef mentioned how much they loved cooking with our Irish butter – wasn’t that nice to hear.

Next week I’ll include some recipes from Stevie Parle, Thomasina Miers and our own Rachel Allen.


David Tanis’s Duck Liver Toasts



These tasty toasts – the Italians call them crostini – perfectly complement the roast duck, or they can become a first course on their own.



700g (1 1/2lbs) duck or chicken livers

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

2 slices pancetta, in small slivers

2 large shallots, finely diced

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

a splash of dry sherry or sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 baguette, sliced and toasted


Trim the livers, blot on paper towels, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium flame.  When the oil is hot, add the pancetta and shallots and cook until the shallots are nicely browned.


Add the livers and turn up the flame.  Stir well and continue cooking, shaking the pan occasionally, until the livers are cooked through but still a little pink.  Slice one to check.  Add the thyme and sherry, and transfer the contents of the pan to a chopping board.  Let cool to room temperature.


With a large knife, chop the livers with the pancetta and shallots to a rough paste, then put the paste in a small mixing bowl.  Mash the butter into the paste with a wooden spoon.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Cover tightly with cling film and keep at cool room temperature until ready to serve (up to 2 hours), or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.


Spread on toasted baguette slices.



Skye Gyngel’s Asparagus with Romesco and Crème Fraîche


Serves 4


For the Romesco Sauce


12 blanched almonds

12 hazelnuts

2 tomatoes, peeled and ripe

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

1 whole red chilli (the ancho variety if you can get hold of one)

2 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon good-quality sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon sweet-smoked paprika (I prefer Spanish to Hungarian)

1 thick slice of chewy, peasant-style bread (such as ciabatta)

Sea salt


For the Asparagus

20 asparagus spears

a good pinch of sea salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

a few drops of lemon juice

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


To Serve

2 tablespoons crème fraîche


Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.


Place the nuts on a baking tray and roast on the middle shelf for 3 minutes to colour them slightly, then roughly pound to a paste.


Next, place the tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with a dash of olive oil. Place in the oven along with the whole chilli, and roast for 10 minutes. Remove and mix with the nuts. Add the garlic, sherry vinegar and paprika, and mix. Blitz the bread in a blender until you have crumbs, lay them on a baking tray and bake until golden. Add to the nut mixture, pour in the remaining olive oil and season. Stir well to combine.


Place a large pot of water on to boil and season liberally with salt. While the water is coming to the boil, prepare the asparagus by snapping off their woody ends. Plunge the vegetables into the water and cook until just tender when pierced with a knife. Cooking time will largely depend on the size and thickness of the spears, but as a general rule of thumb, it should take about 1 minute. Drain and dress with the olive oil and lemon and a little sea salt and pepper.


Divide among 4 plates or one large plate if you prefer.


Divide the crème fraîche between the plates and sprinkle the Romesco sauce over the top.


Serve immediately.



Claire Ptak’s Strawberry-Geranium Fool with Buckwheat Butter Cookies



Makes 6 fools


For the compote:

3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar

2 tablespoons water

4 geranium leaves, washed and dried or a drop or two of geranium essential oil

250-300g (9-10oz) ripe strawberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice


For the cream mixture:

2 large egg whites (save the yolks for the buckwheat biscuits)

100g (3 1/2oz) caster (superfine) sugar

1 teaspoon golden syrup

pinch salt

400ml (14fl oz) double (heavy) cream, cold

100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) plus 1 heaped tbsp. plain yogurt


In a small but heavy pot over a medium low heat, dissolve the sugar and water without stirring. Stirring can cause the mixture to crystalize.


Roughly tear up the washed and dried geranium leaves and place them in the bottom of a small bowl. When the sugar syrup has completely dissolved but before it starts to get any colour, remove it from the heat and pour over the torn leaves. Set aside.


Hull the strawberries to remove the calyx. I use a small teaspoon rather than a knife to avoid wasting too much of the berry. Depending on the size of the berries cut into quarters or eighths for small bite-sized pieces. Cover the berries with the lemon juice.


Once the sugar syrup has cooled, remove the geranium leaves and discard them. Tip the berries and any juice into the syrup and stir to combine. Now make the cream mixture.


In a heatproof bowl, place the egg whites, 100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar, golden syrup and salt. Place the bowl over a small pot of boiling water, whisking continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture starts to become frothy and opaque. If you have a candy thermometer, use it to bring the mixture up to 75°C/167°F. Remove from the heat and use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to make stiff peaks of meringue.


In a large clean bowl, whip the cold double cream and yogurt to soft peaks.


Fold in the meringue just to combine. Fold in the 2/3 strawberries (reserving some of the juices that have formed, stirring in some). Do not over mix. The fool should be marbled and have lots of different textures.


Divide the fool between 6 small bowls or glasses and chill for at least one hour. Just before serving, top the fools with the remaining strawberries and drizzle with the sauce.



Claire Ptak’s Buckwheat Butter Cookies


These cookies are gluten-free naturally because they are made with buckwheat flour.


150g (5oz) whole almonds with skins on, toasted and roughly chopped

150g (5oz) buckwheat flour

200g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened

100g (3 1/2oz) palm or coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

50g (2oz) candied grapefruit or cedro peel, chopped

2 medium egg yolks


Makes 24 cookies


In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped almonds, flour, and butter. Mix into a coarse meal. Add the sugar, salt and grapefruit peel. Mix well.


Add the egg yolks and mix just until the dough starts to come together.


Divide the dough into two pieces. Lay out two long pieces of cling film and shaping each ball of dough into a roughly 2.5cm (1 inch) log, lay down the middle of each piece of cling film. Roll up and shape into nice and even logs, twisting the ends to seal. Place the logs on a small cookie trays and place in the fridge for about an hour.


When ready to bake, heat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 and line two baking trays with parchment. Remove the cling film from the cookie logs and slice 5mm (1/4 inch) thick slices and place 3cm (1 1/2 inch) apart on the prepared tray.


Bake for 10-14 minutes until just starting to turn golden.






Wine Tasting Event at Ballymaloe House

Wine talk and wine tasting with two passionate and experienced wine experts – Eric Narioo, of Les Caves des Pyrène and Pascal Rossignol, of Le Caveau on ‘Real Wine – Celebrating the Artisan Grower’. Sunday 26th May, 6.30pm €15 (includes wine tasting of eight different wines) at The Grain Store, Ballymaloe House. To reserve a place email or phone 021-4652531.


Foynes Irish Coffee Festival – 31 May to 02 June 2013 – three days of free family entertainment with floats, food & craft fair, fireworks, regatta, pet farm, bands, carnival, children’s forest party, ceili, historical walks and the Powers Irish Coffee Making Championship at Foynes, Co. Limerick – Telephone: +353 (0) 69 65416


If you have always wanted to grow your own fresh herbs here is your chance to learn from one of the best – Garden Workshop: Designing a Herb Garden with Susan Turner at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Half Day Course on Monday 17th June 2013 9:00am to 2:00pm – €95.00 with lunch included Phone 021 4646785 to book or online

The Dust Settles after the First Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine 2013

We’re all still buzzing here since the Literary Festival of Food and Wine at Ballymaloe over the bank holiday weekend. The thrill of having some of the top food and wine writers and chefs from all over the world with us for the weekend was immense both for us and for the people who poured in to hear them speak, watch them cook, taste and learn about their wine, whiskey and fascinating craft beers.

It was such a joy for people to be able to meet and mingle with many of their food heroes as they wandered around Ballymaloe, the Big Shed and the Cookery School. For this weekend’s column, I have picked out just a few of the highlights from the guest chefs cookery demonstrations to share with you, there are so many that is was difficult to choose but more later.

From Madhur Jaffrey, Whole Roasted Masala Chicken, a perfect choice for Sunday lunch. Claudia Roden tantalised us with a delicious selection of dishes – you’ll love her chocolate and almond cake which has become her family’s favourite. Camilla Plum from Denmark whose name is not so well known to many, thrilled her large audience with her chic and simple dishes using an abundance of fresh herbs from the garden. Elderflowers are just coming into season so you might like to try this inspired combination of carrots, mint, lemon and elderflower.

David Thompson one of Asia’s most admired chefs and food writers make food that had people jotting down the details of his Nahm restaurant in Bangkok and if they couldn’t manage a trip at least dashing to buy his book Thai Food. Try the delicious recipe for scallops stir fried with spring onions; monkfish would also be good here.

Next week some gems from Skye Gyngel, Claire Ptak, Thomasina Miers, Stevie Parle and our own Rachel Allen.

A special thank you to all who attended the first ever Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine. For those who missed this year’s LitFest, don’t worry, we’ve already started to plan next year’s event.



David Thompson’s Scallops Stir-Fried with Spring Onions

hoi shenn pat dtom horm




1 tablespoon peeled garlic

pinch Sea salt


4 large scallops

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

cleaned spring onion, cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) lengths on a slight bias

a little chicken stock

3 – 4 tablespoons light soy sauce

pinch white sugar

pinch ground white pepper


Make a coarse paste with the peeled garlic and salt. Place to the side of the cleaned scallops.


Prepare and heat a well-seasoned wok. Add the oil then almost immediately the scallops and stir-fry for several moments before adding the garlic paste. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.


Add the spring onions (and perhaps a drizzle of additional oil) and continue to stir fry for a moment or two before moistening with the stock. Season with the soy, sugar and white pepper.


Camilla Plum’s Carrots with Mint, Lemon and Elderflower



Serves 4-6


1kg (2 1/4lb) new carrots, scraped

3 cloves garlic, peeled

50ml (2fl oz) olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

juice and zest from 1 lemon

150ml (5fl oz) elderflower cordial

generous bunch Moroccan mint

generous bunch flat leaved parsley

fresh elderflowers if available


Combine the carrots, garlic, oil, salt, freshly ground black pepper, zest and cordial in a skillet. Boil without a lid, until the carrots are cooked, but still a little crunchy. Remove, and reduce the sauce to a syrup. Pour over the carrots, and mix with coarsely chopped herbs, and elderflowers, when cooled a little. Adjust the seasoning, serve cooled, but not cold.


Madhur Jaffrey’s Whole Roasted Masala Chicken


Serves 4


For the Marinade


4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger

2 tablespoon finely chopped or crushed garlic

3 fresh hot green chilies, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon garam masala


1 3/4kg (3 1/2lb) chicken, skinned whole


1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


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


Place all the marinade ingredients in a blender and grind to a paste.


Using a sharp knife make two deep, diagonal cuts into each breast, going all the way to the bone. Make two equally deep slashes in the thighs and two in the drumsticks as well. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a roasting tray lined with enough foil to completely cover the chicken. Pour the paste over the chicken, rubbing it well into all the cuts. Leave aside for 30 minutes.


Sprinkle the chili powder and black pepper over the chicken evenly. Wrap up the chicken so it is completely covered, with the tightly-closed seam at the top. Bake the chicken in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. Unwrap, without letting the juices run out, and cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes, basting 2 or 3 times with the juices. Rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.



Claudia Roden’s Chocolate and Almond Cake

Pastel de Chocolate y Almendras


This is a moist cake that is good to serve as a dessert with cream.  The recipe comes from a little book that Carolina Zendrera, my Spanish publisher, gave me, entitled Recetas tradicionales: La ermitańa de la cocina, cocina burguesa del siglo XX (‘Traditional Recipes: The hermit in the kitchen – bourgeois cooking in the twentieth century’), published by Zendrera Zariquiey in 1999.  The recipes are those of Águeda Bienzobas, who cooked for Carolina Zendrera’s grandparents and family in Catalonia for fifty years.


Águeda was born in a village in Navarre in 1907 and went to work in the Martí-Codolars’ kitchen in Barcelona as a young girl.  The Martí-Codolars, Zendrera’s grandparents, were an illustrious family involved in shipping.  On their farm they kept rare animals, including an elephant that was later donated to Barcelona Zoo.  What Águeda learnt from the family cook, and what became her repertoire gathered over the years, which her husband wrote down, is a distinctive mix of Spanish and French haute cuisine.  A family friend of the Martí-Codolars called her ‘the hermit’ because she spent her time alone in the kitchen.


Serves 10

150g (5oz) dark bitter chocolate or baking chocolate such as the Menier Chocolat Patissier, broken into pieces

3 tablespoons water

150g (5oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 large eggs, separated

100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar

100g (3 1/2oz) ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons rum




50g (2oz) dark bitter chocolate, broken into pieces

2 tablespoons water

50g (2oz) caster sugar

25g (1oz) unsalted butter


butter, to grease the cake tin

flour, to dust the cake tin


Heat the chocolate with the water in a Pyrex bowl or small pan that is sitting on top of a pan containing water over a low heat so that the top pan or bowl does not touch the boiling water (this is a double boiler), until almost melted.  Add the butter and let them both melt.


In a bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and rum very well.  Add the melted chocolate and butter and mix vigorously.  Beat the egg whites until stiff with an electric mixer and fold them into the mixture.


Grease a spring-form cake tin about 23cm (9 inch) (in diameter (preferably non-stick) with butter and dust it with flour.  Pour in the cake mixture and bake in an oven preheated to 160°C/310°F/Gas Mark 3 for about 35 minutes until firm.  Turn out when it is cool.


For the optional topping, melt the chocolate with the water in the small bowl or pan over boiling water, as above.  Add the sugar and the butter, let them melt and mix well.  Spread over the cake.


Hot Tips



Wexford Food Festival – Friday the 24th May to Sunday 26 May 2013 – is spread out over 3 locations across the town this year including Selskar/Trimmers Lane, The Bull Ring Market and South Main Street.


Rory O’Connell’s much anticipated cookery book ‘Master It – How to Cook Today’ is available at the Farm Shop at Ballymaloe Cookery School – if you call ahead you can get a personally signed copy – 021 4646785. Available in all good book shops by the end of May.


Hard Currency – unusual gift tokens from Brown Envelope Seeds, ‘Seed Bank Notes’ in denominations of €5.00 (valid for two packets of heritage seeds) and up to €50.00 (for 20 packets of seeds) Perfect gift for any keen gardener – order online at or phone 00353(0)2838184.


The Glebe Garden Club near Baltimore in West Cork meets on the last Thursday of every month. Get access to the best of the gardens and experts in the surrounding area and a variety of presentations, workshops, and garden tours, Meetings at The Glebe will be accompanied by refreshments (prepared from the Glebe garden produce) There is a €10 registration fee  and members are entitled to a 10% discount on all Club events and advanced notice of all meetings, workshops and Club events. A full summer program will be available at the next meeting on Thursday 30th May where Rosari Kingston will give a talk on growing and using herbs – booking is advisable for this event. or phone 02820232.


An Update from San Francisco

A little update from San Francisco…

Every town has its ups and downs and San Francisco has had its fair share but boy, is it throbbing at present. I’m here for a few days to attend the IACP (International Association of Cooking Professionals) Conference and to catch up on food trends,

Every restaurant is turning over tables like you can’t imagine, Nopa , one of my favourites served over 7,000 meals last week and the food is still super delicious.

The hottest new place seems to be State Bird Provision on Fillmore, We managed to get two seats at the counter despite the message on the answering machine which says no chance of a table for six weeks, and here they do Mediterranean and Asian dim sum, a brilliant concept, why didn’t someone think of that before now. Lots of small plates with zany combinations most of which seem to work well. Among the many delicious things I ate was the State bird and Provisions , a deep fried quail with the crispest coating with fresh pea shoots on a bed of caramelized onion  and Peking duck …spiced confit leg, chive crepes, cloud ears and plum sauce. An oyster with a citrus dressing was also gorgeous as was ruby red grapefruit and lime granita, rhubarb and yoghurt.

Lots of new ice cream, granita, gelato and sorbet places around doing interesting combinations, Scream and ICI are two of the best in Berkley.

Out in Oakland, the Brooklyn of San Francisco, I popped into Market Hall Foods, a collective of food shops and met Julianna Uruburu whose particular passion is cheese, her fromage section was incredibly impressive. It’s rare to see so many American farmstead and international cheeses in great condition. She organised for me to have a mozzarella demonstration there and then, they made their own Mozzarella a couple of times a week from fresh Jersey curds they get from a cheese maker in Vermont.

House-made charcuterie and bacon is a definite trend and the good news is new butchers are opening again but this new generation are showcasing heritage breeds and are really concerned as are their customers about sustainability and animal welfare. I visited Fatted Calf on Fell St and Olivier in Dog Patch.

Piggy plates of mixed pates, terrines and salumi are a feature of many menus; I particularly loved this one at Nopa.

Bi rite, family owned, is the hippest supermarket in San Francisco,  According to my sources over here Wholefoods are on the wane, be that as it may I really admire their meat grading system which I really think all supermarket and butchers would do well to emulate. They clearly illustrate how the animals are reared and fed, whether they are raised in a feed lot or pasture raised, organic, free range or caged. The prices vary accordingly but the consumer can make a decision based on the unvarnished facts.

Still out in Oakland ( about an hour from San Francisco) we checked out Bakesale Betty’s , an iconic spot on the corner of Telegraph  Avenue. Betty who used to wear a blue wig was famous for her chicken sandwich and pot pies but now because it’s such a favourite she only does the sandwich. There’s pretty much always a line outside, at least 25 people and almost as many more sitting at tables on the sidewalk made of recycled ironing boards. Five or six people are going flat out inside the counter churning out crispy buttermilk fried chicken and coleslaw with jalapeños and herbs (no mayonnaise ) inside a roll. It looks so good but we decide to head for Charlie  Hallowell’s Pizzaiolo instead but guess what, they are closed for lunch so they send us off to their new cafe on Grand Ave called Boot and Shoe Service, it’s got the same industrial look that so many of the new hipster places have. We had a delicious lunch from the short menu, several bright little lettuce salads, one with thinly sliced fennel and shavings of Pecorino, another with this new watermelon radish that’s looks great but doesn’t have a lot of flavour,

We also had a meatball sandwich in a roll with a tomatoey sauce and a little bit of frizzy lettuce and finely grated cheese on top. Really good, meatballs are everywhere .they also do a couple of great wood fired Neopolitan pizzas every day, I had the home made sausage, cimi di rape and mozzarella.

They also did a fantastic chopped chicken sandwich with mayo, teency capers, tiny celery and red onion dice, a little parsley , tarragon and lemon juice on warm chargrilled bread with gorgeous extra virgin olive oil. It was served with a half semi-hardboiled egg and a little rocket salad on the side. The sweet girl who served us insisted we have the Jasmine pot de crème with rhubarb compote and pink peppercorn shortbread and it was indeed sublime.

Shortbread is everywhere, flavoured with all manner of flavourings from lavender to espresso coffee. Chad Robertson at Tartine and Bar Tartine is using many different flours including buckwheat and kamut to make his shortbread.

Here, I had another very interesting chicken sandwich, a Vietnamese chicken salad on a potato brioche bun with aioli and a little dish of pickles carrot and mushrooms on the side. At Bar Tartine everyone is crazy about fermentation and pickles. Courtney Burns showed me around and their fridges and larders were like an Aladdin’s cave with all manner of pickles, sodas, infusions, dried herbs piled to the ceiling.

They make their own yoghurt, cheese, kefir, buttermilk, cultured butter and cream, the whey is used for pickles and drinks, really interesting stuff.

The chocolate and coffee craze continues to become ever more purist and specialised.

Blue Bottle, Four Barrel and Ritual are three of my favourites. They all roast and grind their own beans and have cafes where the coffee is by far the most important element and the small selection of buns and cookies are secondary.

Food trucks are still very much in evidence but now a collection of trucks called Off the Grid move to different locations around the city every day, which keeps the bricks and mortar guys happier. Cocktails and craft beers are still huge.

That’s a taste of the food trends in California.


Olive Oil and Rosemary Shortbread

Taken from the Bluebottle Craft of Coffee Cookbook


Makes 35 shortbread cookies / hands on time 20 minutes / from start to finish 4 hours


8oz (227g) unsalted butter at room temperature

4oz (115g) powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary

1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

10oz (280g) all-purpose flour sifted

extra virgin olive oil for brushing


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on low speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary and salt and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the flour. Mix on low speed just until uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Gather the dough into a ball, transfer to a piece of plastic wrap and flatten to form a rectangle measuring 7 by 10 inches (18 by 25cm) and about ½ an inch (1.3cm) thick. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 5 days. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the dough into small rectangles measuring 1 by 2 inches (2.5cm by 5cm) and place the cookies on the lined baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch (2.5cm) apart. Bake for about 18 minutes, until golden around the edges, rotating the pan midway through the baking time.

Brush the tops with olive oil as soon as the cookies come out of the oven. Let cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing, and then cool completely before serving for optimal texture. Cooled completely and stored in an airtight container, the cookies will keep for up to 3 days.


Chad Robertson’s Nettle Fritatine


Serves 1 or 2


3 tablespoons olive oil

8oz (225g) approx. nettle leaves

Croutons (see recipe) made from 3 slices sough dough bread, crushed to make coarse bread crumbs

1 large egg

12oz (350g) home-made tomato sauce

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lemon wedge


Heat a heavy skillet over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the nettle leaves. Remove the pan from the heat and stir and toss the nettles for about 2 minutes as they continue cooking. When the nettles are completely wilted, remove them from the pan and chop roughly.

In a bowl, combine the nettles, coarse crumbs and egg. Stir well to coat the crumbs and nettles with the egg.

Heat a 6 – inch skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the nettle mixture and distribute evenly in the pan. Cook until the edges appear crisp, about 2 minutes. Fold the omelette in half and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.

Pour the tomato sauce into a skillet and heat over high heat. Carefully place the omelette in the sauce and simmer for about 30 seconds. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.




3 slices day-old bread, each 1 inch thick torn into 1 ½ inch chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil


½ teaspoon herbs de Provence (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6. In a bowl, toss the torn bread with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. If you are using the herbs, add them too. Spread the bread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Midway through the baking time, redistribute the croutons if they are colouring unevenly.


Bread Crumbs – use your hands or a rolling pin to crush the croutons to the desired consistency. For a superfine texture, sift the crumbs through a sieve.


Tomato Sauce


1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 x 3oz can tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 x 16 oz can whole tomatoes

red wine vinegar



To make the tomato sauce, heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté until the vegetables are soft about 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the paste turns a deep rusty red, 6 – 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook for two minutes. Add the whole tomatoes, raise the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, using a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes into chunks. Season with vinegar and salt.


Chad Robertson’s Kale Caesar


Serves 4 – 6


Caesar Dressing



2 lemons

3 cloves garlic

6 olive-oil packed anchovy fillets

1 large egg yolk


16fl oz (450ml) olive oil

2 lbs (900g) black kale, centre stems removed and torn

croutons made from 4 slices of sough dough bread (see recipe)

3 ½ oz (100g) grated or shaved aged Parmesan cheese



To make the dressing, grate the zest from 1 lemon. Cut both lemons in half. Place the garlic, anchovies and lemon zest in a mortar and pound with a pestle to make a thick paste. Add the egg yolk, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice and stir thoroughly to combine. Continuing to stir, pour in half of the oil drop by drop. The mixture should look smooth and creamy, a sign that you are building a stable emulsion. Continuing to stir, begin adding the oil in a slow stream. The dressing should thicken. Periodically stop pouring in the oil and add a squeeze of lemon. Taste the dressing and add more salt and lemon juice to taste. Add water, a small spoonful at a time, stirring to thin dressing to the constituency of heavy cream.

In a large bowl, combine the kale and croutons. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan, toss again and serve.


Hot Tips


Celebrate World Sherry Day on Sunday 26th May 2013 – Manning’s Emporium will be hosting a sherry tasting event in Ballylickey, West Cork from 1pm – 5pm. An opportunity to taste sherries from the finest bodegas in Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda, matched with best artisan food Cork has to offer –


The 7th annual Burren Slow Food Festival on 17th, 18th, & 19th May 2013

Sample local artisan foods, meet local producers and growers, engage with fellow foodies, and enjoy cookery demonstrations. Events to look out for include Burren Food Forum with Sally & John McKenna, Michael Moran, world champion oyster shucker, Suzanne Campbell writer and broadcaster on food, farming and countryside, Seaweed Foraging, Beer Tasting & Organic Salmon tasting –

Stress Free Dinner Party with Mary Risley

I’ve just learned the secret of how to give a totally stress free dinner party! So here’s how it’s done. On a recent trip to San Francisco Mary Risley invited eleven mutual friends around in my honour. It was to be an early dinner. The guests were invited for 6:30, I arrived in around 5:30, Mary was having tea – totally relaxed and there was absolutely no sign of any activity, not to mention food.

As six approached, I tentatively enquired whether I could help in any way, maybe lay the table, how about food! Mary remembered the Ballymaloe Bread with some of Bill Casey’s Shanagarry Smoked Salmon that I’d brought over – “let’s have that for starters.” I took the loaf out of the freezer and hastily popped it into the oven and as per instructions I laid the table, then ran out into the garden to pick a Meyer lemon from the tree (yes, literally!.) The doorbell rang and the guests started to arrive. Mary was totally unfazed, lots of hugging “The glasses are in the cupboard, here’s the bottle opener, Jim you open the wine”

By now the ingredients for the main course, a San Francisco Fishermen’s Stew, were on the island counter, not sure who got those out of the fridge, I was busy slicing salmon and buttering warm semi frozen bread one slice at a time then popping it back into the oven to thaw another few centimetres just enough to cut another slice.

“Paula, can you chop the onions and that fennel bulb and Kiki can you open that can of tomatoes?”  We all followed instructions, everyone was having a hilarious time plus an impromptu cooking lesson on how to make this classic San Francisco Fishermen’s Stew.

The onion, chilli, garlic, fennel, and fresh marjoram was bubbling away in a big Le Crueset Casserole. Not sure who got the job of cracking the crabs claws.

Everyone loved the smoked salmon, “Open another couple bottles of wine”, add the fish to the tomato, next the crab and clams. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Taste, maybe a bit more salt, “Who’s chopping the parsley; scatter it over the top of the pot!”

“Frances and Darina, you are in charge of the pudding – there’s a couple of (defrosted) discs of Lady Baltimore’s cakes and some raspberries over there, sandwich them together with cream and lemon curd.”

We did as we were bidden and produced an impressive looking confection in a couple of minutes, decorated with lemon balm from the garden and sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar.

By then the Cioppino was being ladled from the big red skillet into wide shallow bowls and we all tucked in, some of us even had second helpings. A green salad emerged from somewhere, not sure who or where that came from and then Frances and I produced our masterpiece to lots of appreciative noises. There was coffee, more wine and lots more convivial chat.

The washing up somehow seemed to be effortlessly done and a fantastic evening was had by all – so now we all know how to give a stress free dinner party – thank you Mary.


Mary Risley’s Cioppino


Every country has its version of a fishermen’s stew–I understand the origin of this recipe is Genoa – it’s a San Francisco tradition!


Serves 8-10


24 well-scrubbed live clams or cockles

extra virgin olive oil

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

2 onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 fennel bulb, chopped

1.1kg (2lbs 8ozs) fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

(or 3 x 400g (14oz) cans Italian plum tomatoes)

1 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

450ml (16floz) dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 3/4 tablespoons fresh marjoram, chopped

900g (2 lbs) fresh white fish (sea bass, rock cod, halibut or monkfish)

450g (1lb) sea scallops (optional)

450g (1lb) raw shrimp (or prawns), peeled

meat from 1 large cooked crab, (optional)

25g (1oz) fresh parsley, chopped


To Serve


Sourdough Bread
To steam the clams or cockles, place them in a heavy bottomed pot with 2.5cm (1 inch) of water.  Cover and cook over high heat, shaking occasionally, until the clams are open.  Keep covered until ready to use.


To make the soup base, put the onions with half a teaspoon of salt in a large casserole with a generous splash of olive oil and cook, stirring from time to time, until the onions are softened.  Stir in the garlic and continue to cook and stir another minute or two.  Stir in the fennel, then the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, red pepper flakes, and marjoram.  Then add the broth from the steamed clams leaving the last tablespoon in the pot since it probably has sand.  Bring this mixture to the boil, stirring, and let simmer gently for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, cut the white fish into large chunks, coat with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.


Remove the little tough part from each scallop.  Remove the shells from the shrimp.  Place these on another plate and coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


To make the cioppino, fifteen minutes before you are ready to serve, bring the soup base to the boil, stirring, and stir in the fish.  Cover and let simmer 5 minutes.  Next, stir in the scallops and the shrimp and let simmer another 5 minutes.  At this point stir in the steamed clams and the crab meat, if desired.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Cover and let sit a minute or two. Sprinkle with lots of fresh parsley and serve in warmed bowls with sourdough bread.



Mary Risley’s Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad


Serves 6


This salad is a contrast in colour and texture: the pears are sweet and soft, the cheese is soft and salty, and the walnuts are hard strongly flavoured when toasted. To decide whether or not to peel the pears, taste the skin to see if it is acceptable. The best pears for this salad are French Butter pear, d’Anjou, or Comice.

2 heads butter or leaf lettuce, or a mixture of red and green lettuces, washed, dried and torn into 1 inch pieces


4 pears, such as French butter pear, d’Anjou, or Comice, peeled and cut into ¼ inch wide slices

225g (8oz) Gorgonzola, broken into ½ inch chunks

55g (2 ½ oz) walnut pieces, lightly toasted

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon-style prepared mustard

125ml (4fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt

freshly ground pepper


Put lettuces in a large salad bowl. Add the pears, cheese and walnuts. To make the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard and salt in a measuring cup. Stir to dissolve the salt. Mix in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with a small spoon. To serve, mix the vinaigrette again and pour over the salad, tossing gently with your hands. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mound the lettuces in the centres of salad plates. With your hands arrange the pears, Gorgonzola and walnuts on top. Serve with French bread.


Lady Baltimore Cake with Raspberries and Lemon Curd


This is Mary, Frances and my adapted recipe for Lady Baltimore’s cake.


Yields two 8 inch cakes


200g (7oz) white flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch salt

110g (4oz) butter, softened

275g (10oz) caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

180ml (6fl oz) milk

3 egg whites


450g (1lb) raspberries

lemon curd (see recipe)


300ml (10fl oz) whipped cream

fresh mint or lemon balm leaves


2 x 8-inch round cake tins


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


Grease and flour two 8-inches round cake tins. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and sieve them together onto a piece of parchment paper.  Put the soft butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, and beat until smooth and well blended.

Stir the vanilla extract and the milk together and add to the butter-sugar mixture in two stages alternately with the flour mixture, beating until the batter is well blended and smooth after each addition.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are stiff but moist.

Gently stir one-third of the beaten whites into the batter, then scoop up the remaining beaten whites, drop them onto the batter, and fold them in.

Divide between the prepared cake tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick or straw inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in their tins for 5 minutes, then turn them out of the tins onto a rack to cool completely.

Spread a layer of lemon curd on each cake base, sandwich together with softly whipped cream and raspberries. Spread a little cream and lemon curd on top and pile on some fresh raspberries. Decorate with a few fresh lemon balm or mint leaves and dust with a little icing sugar.


Lemon Curd


110g (4 oz) castor sugar

50g (2oz) butter

finely grated rind and juice of 2 good lemons, preferably unwaxed organic

2 eggs and 1 egg yolk (keep white aside for meringue)


On a very low heat melt the butter, add castor sugar, lemon juice and rind and then stir in well beaten eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Draw off the heat and pour into a bowl (it will thicken as it cools.)




Today, tomorrow and Monday many of my food heroes will converge on Ballymaloe for the first ever Literary Festival of Food and Wine and the free fringe events in the Big Shed beside the Grainstore. Madhur Jaffrey, Claudia Roden, David Thompson, David Tanis, Thomasina Miers, Camilla Plum, Stevie Parle, Rachel Allen, Sandor Katz … will all do cookery demonstrations at Ballymaloe Cookery School. It’s being described as the Glastonbury of Food and Wine Festivals, let’s hope the weather’s better but actually it doesn’t matter because virtually all the events are indoors – apart from the treasure hunts and GIY gardens – check out


Charity Vintage Tea Rooms at Saint Mary’s Church of Ireland, Dungarvan, Co Waterford. Afternoon tea as it used to be, sipped out of antique tea cups with homemade cakes and dainty sandwiches to the sounds of Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole – and all for a good cause. Every Saturday from 2 – 5pm.  Email Ria


Polytunnel Gardening Course at The Hollies, Enniskeane, Co Cork. Learn how to get the most from your poly tunnel year round, grow summer crops including sweet corn, tomatoes and peppers and extend the growing season to have fresh greens even during the winter period.  Sunday 12th May 9.30-4.30. €60.00 lunch included – 023 88 47001 or 0860883116 –


Don’t miss Saturday Pizzas and Sunday Roasts at Ballymaloe Cookery School during the Literary Festival of Food and Wine 3rd – 6th May 2013



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