ArchiveSeptember 2013

30 Year Celebrations at Ballymaloe Cookery School

We recently celebrated 30 Years of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The last three decades since we first opened our doors in 1983, seemed to have whizzed by in a blur. My brother Rory O’Connell and I started the cookery school together and welcomed the first Certificate Course students in September of that year. Since then students from over 40 countries have joined us and many of those returned from far and wide to celebrate the Ballymaloe Cookery School Gathering with us.

We started with one employee in 1983 and now thirty years later the enterprise in the midst of our organic farm and gardens now employs more than fifty people.

It was a joy to welcome so many past students from all over the world some of whom hadn’t been back to the school for over 25 years. They were gobsmacked by the changes not just in the school which moved into the old Apple Barn in 1989 from the initial farm building in the courtyard but also the farm and gardens – now organic, they loved the heritage pigs, chickens and our little herd of six Jersey cows. The dairy too was new as was the Shell House and Petal Folly in the maze. We did things very gradually but for those who haven’t had the opportunity to revisit there’s much to see and explore. It was a wonderful day with much hugging and reminiscing and catching up on the fascinating stories of how each student has used their cooking skills since they graduated.

There were literally hundreds of extraordinary tales, Siv Svolsbru from Norway told us about the bakery she has established in Porsgrunn where people queue around the corner for her breads, she brought one of her delicious Nordic loaves for us to taste.

Susan Leigh from Chicago told us about the impact of her project Fox Valley Food for Health which teaches troubled and disadvantaged teenagers how to cook delicious nourishing food which is then delivered to cancer patients in the area.

We set up seven stalls on the lawn between the Palais des Poulets and the vegetable garden. Many of our past students and teachers who do Farmers Markets or food trucks catered the event. Jack Crotty aka Rocket Man produced several beautiful salads and Arun and Olive Kapil of Green Saffron with their beautiful curries were also there. Friend and gardener Laurent Catinot’s stand Boeuf a Lolo did his legendary steak sandwich with béarnaise sauce.

Mark Kingston of Golden Bean coffee also had a constant queue for his freshly roasted coffee.

Debbie Shaw, Robert Cullinane and Seamus McGrath manned the wine, craft beer and homemade lemonade stall – there was also lots of chilled elderflower cordial.

Tracy Daly, Finola Roche and Niamh Switzer were in charge of the puddings, homemade praline ice cream, meringues, yogurt and cardamom creams, poached plums, fresh fruit popsicles and blackcurrant fool with shortbread hearts and stars.

Philip Dennhardt’s delicious strawberry, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes were piled high on a three tier cake stand.

Florrie Cullinane, Pam Black and Sue Cullinane tempted guests to freshly smoked mackerel still warm from our smoker, smoked salmon from Bill Casey, fresh shrimps from Ballycotton with homemade mayonnaise and fresh salads from the produce of our garden and greenhouses.

Emer Fitzgerald, served our slow roasted heritage pulled pork, with Bramley apple sauce and cucumber pickle, on freshly baked Arbutus ciabatta rolls. Annette Roche and Sorcha Moynihan grilled thick slices of sour dough bread on a barbecue, drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil and served them with delicious toppings.

Rupert Hugh-Jones and brothers, Sean and Col Kelleher sat on straw bales under the sycamore tree and played wonderful traditional and hip hop music – it was all magical.

The local GAA lent us their huge marquee to shelter the tables from the wind and rain that was forecast but somehow managed to avoid Shanagarry all afternoon. The long tables were decorated by Rory O’Connell and his team with apple branches, rosehips, pots of lavender and grapes.

The uralies were filled with huge organic cabbages which have since been made into sauerkraut and meanwhile graffiti artist Adam O’Connor painted a huge cockerel onto the door of the chicken shed.

Many past students stayed over for the week end. The Blackbird Pub in Ballycotton arranged a welcome back party for the students and we all joined up for a farewell breakfast on Sunday morning.  A week-end full of happy memories to cherish and lots more hugging.


Grilled Sourdough Bread with Garlic, Tomato and Basil


Grilled bread can be a revelation.  Sourdough Bread, olive oil, garlic and sea salt are all that are needed for the simplest version of this dish. However, the quality of each of these four ingredients must be beyond reproach if you are to have one of “those”, food moments. Add fresh ripe tomatoes and basil and it’s delicious.


Serves 4


4 slices of best quality sour dough bread

extra virgin olive oil, best quality

1 clove of peeled garlic, cut in half

sea salt

1 tomato, cut in half

2 ripe tomatoes chopped

a little lemon juice

freshly cracked black pepper

fresh basil leaves



Choose a heavy cast iron grill-pan to cook the bread on. Heat the grill-pan until very hot and grill the bread on both sides, allowing lots of richly toasted colour to develop.

Remove the bread from the pan and rub one side with the garlic, no more than a couple of gentle swipes. Season with a little Maldon sea salt. Rub the halved tomato onto the bread, squeezing gently to release the tomato juice to be soaked into the bread. Chop the remaining two tomatoes and add extra virgin olive oil, Maldon sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and torn pieces of fresh basil. Taste and correct seasoning, spoon the tomato mixture onto each slice of grilled bread. Drizzle generously with olive oil and cut the bread into manageable sized pieces, making sure each piece of bread has a generous piece of the crust attached. Serve immediately.


The Rocket Man’s Beetroot and Farro Salad with Caramelised Onion

Past student Jack Crotty shared this recipe with us.


Serves 6-8


1kg (2 ½ lbs) fresh raw beetroot


For the caramelised red onion;


2 red onions – peeled and sliced into .5mm Rings

100mls (3fl oz) balsamic vinegar

40g (1 ½ oz) sugar

50mls (2floz) olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper


500g (18oz) farro (pearled spelt) preferably Irish. We use Dunany Farro.




3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sherry vinegar (optional)

1 tbsp of chopped preserved lemon

1 tsp of Dijon mustard

sea salt and pepper


2 large handfuls of red veined sorrel or any other salad leaves with punch, like rocket or mizuna.


Tabasco and Lime Yoghurt



500mls (18fl oz) natural Greek style yoghurt

2 limes – zest and juice

2 splashes of tabasco to taste

a dash of extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper



Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ Mark 4. Roast onions with balsamic vinegar, sugar and generous pinch of sea salt and pepper for 40 minutes or until they taste sweet and glisten.


Wash and roast beets in tin foil until they fall off a skewer. Peel by rubbing skins. Wear gloves to avoid stained hands.  Chop and while warm add to roasted onions.


Wash farro well and bring to the boil in plenty of cold water. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the grain swells and retains a bite. Strain.


Combine dressing ingredients and pulse to emulsify. Add to warm farro. Once beets and farro are cool, combine and add dressed greens to garnish.


Drizzle the tabasco and lime yoghurt over the salad and serve,


Pulled Pork Sandwiches in Baps with Rocket Leaves and Cucumber Pickle


2.2-2.6kg (5-6lbs) shoulder of free-range range

Sea salt

a little fennel seeds, lightly crushed


To Serve

fresh baps

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rocket leaves

Cucumber Pickle

Bramley Apple Sauce (see recipe)


Score the skin of a shoulder of free range, preferably heritage pork, Rub lots of salt and a little crushed fennel seed into the cuts. Roast for 18 hours at 90°C/194°F, the meat should be almost falling off the bones and the skin crackly. Remove the crackling, preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F, put the crackling on a tray and cook for a few minutes until bubbly and crisp.
To Serve

Split the fresh baps, pull the warm meat off the bone, season with Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, add any meat juices, maybe a few chilli flakes, taste. Fill the warm baps with a few rocket leaves or a mixture of salad leaves, some pulled pork, and a few pieces of crunchy crackling, cucumber pickle, and a dollop of Bramley sauce.


Serve immediately.

Bramley Apple Sauce

The secret of really good apple sauce is to use a heavy-based saucepan and very little water. The apples should break down into a fluff during the cooking.


450g (1lb) bramley cooking apples

2 teaspoons water

50g (2oz) sugar, or more depending on tartness of the apples


Peel, quarter and core the apples, then cut the quarters in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast iron saucepan. Add the sugar and water, cover and cook over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, stir so it’s a uniform texture and

taste for sweetness. Serve warm.


Yoghurt and Cardamon Cream with Poached Plums


Serves 8-10


425ml (15 fl ozs) natural yoghurt

230ml (8 fl ozs) milk

200ml (7 fl ozs) cream

175g (6 ozs) castor sugar (could be reduced to 5oz)

1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds, freshly ground – you’ll need about 8-10 green cardamom pods depending on size

3 rounded teaspoons powdered gelatin


Poached Plums (see recipe)



Sweet geranium or mint leaves


Ring mould or 8-10 individual bowls.


Remove the seeds from 8-10 green cardamom pods, crush in a pestle and mortar.


Put the milk, sugar and cream into a stainless steel saucepan with the ground cardamom, stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.  Remove from the heat and leave to infuse while you dissolve the gelatin.


Put 3 tablespoons of cold water into a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, allow to ‘sponge’ for a few minutes.  Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water until the gelatin has melted and is completely clear.  Add a little of the cardamom infused milk mixture, stir well and then mix this into the rest.  Whisk the yoghurt lightly until smooth and creamy, stir into the cardamom mixture.


Pour into a wide serving dish or a lightly oiled ring mould, or individual bowls or glasses and allow to set for several hours, preferably overnight.


Serve with chilled poached plums.


Compote of Plums – Poached Plums


Poach the plums whole, they’ll taste better but quite apart from that you’ll have the fun of playing – He loves me – he loves me not!  You could just fix it by making sure you take an uneven number!  Greengages are delicious cooked in this way also.


Serves 4


400g (14ozs) sugar

450ml (16 fl ozs) cold water

900g (2 lbs) fresh Plums, Victoria, Opal or those dark Italian plums that come into the shops in Autumn


Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil. Tip in the plums and poach, cover the saucepan and simmer until they begin to burst.  Turn into a bowl, serve warm with a blob of softly whipped cream.  Divine!


*The poached plums keep very well in the fridge and are delicious for breakfast without the cream!


Note: If plums are sweet use less sugar in syrup

Hot Tips

Urru Culinary Store in Bandon, West Cork celebrates its 10th Anniversary with their Irish Food Producers’ Limited Edition Food Hamper. A celebration of 10 years of food collaboration between Urru and Irish food producers, emerging and award winning producers including Patisserie Regale Crackers (Clonakilty), Seymour’s Fine Foods Cookies (Bandon), Big Red Kitchen Preserves & Chutneys (Meath), Lorge Chocolates (Kenmare), Green Saffron Spices (Midleton), Ballyhoura Apple Farm (Ballyhoura), Filligans (Donegal), Peppermint Farm Tea (Bantry), Mc Cabes Coffee (Wicklow), Ummera Smoked West Cork Garlic (Timoleague/ Dunmanway) and more. The anniversary hamper is beautifully presented and shows off the creative skills of our Irish food producers.

Available to order from 1st October and for collection/ delivery between 21st October and 30th December 2013

Highbank Orchard Harvest Picnic and Artisan Food Market is on tomorrow, pack a picnic lunch or graze your way through the artisan food stalls, enjoy a butter and jam making demonstration and witness the first ever National Onion Hanking Competition – Sunday 29th September -10am to 6pm at Highbank Organic Farm, Cuffesgrange, Kilkenny – 056 7729918

Coinciding with the UK Fungus Day 2013 the International Mushroom Festival 2013 will bring together mushroom experts and mushroom lovers from all over the world to the beautiful, centuries-old, Killegar Estate in County Leitrim to exchange scientific knowledge and celebrate our natural environment. Phone

Extreme Greens – Sally McKenna

Sally McKenna has just published a book that really needed to be written, it’s called Extreme Greens and it’s all about seaweed and sea vegetables, how to find them, how to identify, how to harvest sustainably, how to cook, how to preserve, it’s great…

Now that the changed economic climate has, among other things, prompted us to reflect on the wild and free foods around us, both in the countryside and along the seashore, there is a hunger for knowledge and urge to relearn the forgotten skill of how to identify food in the wild, so Sally’s book is certainly timely. Seaweed has been a part of the Irish diet right back to prehistoric times, nowadays we are discovering through research what our ancestors knew through experience. “Seaweed is a superfood that can regulate our metabolism and with it our energy levels; it cleanses the blood, and stimulates our immune system.

Seaweed has both prebiotics and probiotics and helps calm the digestive tract. It protects against bacterial and viral infection and brings with it a punch of natural antibiotics. It maintains a healthy cellular function both within the body and on the skin, where it also protects and soothes. Even just taking a bath in seaweed brings all these benefits. Eating it even more so.”

So why are we not eating more seaweed and how can we get our children excited about it?

Our own children and many of the grandchildren have been weaned on to Carrageen moss pudding but Sally has made a brilliant discovery “Seaweed in a powdered form can take on the flavour of anything you put it with, so a tablespoon of dilisk in a casserole, or even a cake, will not be taste detected by a fussy child. The benefits of seaweed are long term and that’s how they should be considered. The secret is to take small amounts, regularly.”

The first 30 pages give details and instructions on how to recognise and harvest the many edible sea weeds around the coast so now I’m off down to Shanagarry Strand to see what I can find.

Extreme Greens, Understanding Seaweeds is published by Estragon Press.


Sally McKenna’s Gubbeen and Wild Sea Beet Pizza with Sea Grass


This recipe is directly inspired by the pizza cooked in Good Things Café, in Durrus, in West Cork. Sally McKenna has done some seaweed demonstrations at Carmel Somers’ cookery school at the café, and it was during one of these that they discovered how delicious sea grass is as a topping for pizza and cheese.


pizza dough

500g strong white flour

10g dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

350ml water

2 tablespoons olive oil



Olive oil, sea beet leaves, Gubbeen cheese (you can also use Durrus, or any of the other semi-soft cheeses), nutmeg and sea grass.

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Mix in the water, and bring together to make a dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. This kneading can be done in various mixers, processors or in a bread machine.

Allow the dough to rise for about 2 hours, then shape into 6 balls of dough.

Preheat the oven to its hottest temperature.

Take each ball at a time and first press into a circle, then roll out thinly. Using a pizza peel, or your fingers, place on a hot oven tray. Rub the surface quickly with a little olive oil and scatter over the raw sea beet leaves (you can substitute spinach if unable to gather sea beet). Top with slices of cheese, and then sprinkle over the sea grass, and a generous grating of nutmeg.

Cook in a hot oven (as hot as it will go) for approximately 5-7 minutes. Serve straight from the oven.


Sally McKenna’s Channelled Wrack and Ginger Miso Slaw


1 head red cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips

¼ red onion, peeled and grated

salt and pepper

handful channelled wrack

tablespoon sesame seeds




¼ cup white miso

3 tablespoons rice syrup (or other natural sweetener)

¼ cup mirin

3 tablespoons sesame oil

juice of half a lemon

knob of grated ginger


Mix together the cabbage, carrot and onion in a large bowl. Season. Toss well to evenly distribute the onion.

Blend the dressing ingredients together until smooth. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Put a saucepan of water on to boil and simmer the channelled wrack for approximately five minutes. Chop the seaweed into bite-size lengths.

Toss the cabbage mixture in approximately half of the dressing (save the remainder in the fridge for another salad).

Stir in the seaweed, and scatter over the sesame seeds.


Sally McKenna’s Seaweed Crackers


230g plain/spelt flour

20g rye flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

40g butter

150ml milk

1 cup finely ground seaweed

sesame seeds / fennel seeds (optional)


Measure out the flour, salt, sugar and butter into a bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.


Measure out the milk, put it into the bowl and gather the mixture together with your hands.


Knead and put it in the fridge to rest for 2 hours. Lightly grease a tray and set the oven to 180ºC.

Flour a large workspace.


Cut the dough into 6 equal-sized pieces.

Press lightly on the piece of dough. Sprinkle on the seaweed and seeds and press again. Examples of combinations might be sea grass and fennel, or dried seaweed salad with sesame seeds.


Put through a pasta machine on the widest setting.


Lightly press in some more seeds or seaweed and roll again. Continue until the second last setting on the machine.


Cut into approximate squares, and place onto a tray, using a spatula to lift the delicate pieces.


Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, until light brown. Cool on a wire tray.



Sally McKenna’s Dilisk and Rosemary Lemonade


1 litre water

handful of dilisk

3 sprigs rosemary

500g sugar



sparkling water or boiling water


Make a dilisk dashi by bringing the water and dilisk slowly to the boil. Remove the seaweed the moment the water comes to the boil (consign the boiled dilisk to the compost heap).

Add the rosemary and sugar to the seaweed water and once again bring very slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Take off the heat once it comes to the boil, and leave to go cold and then strain. This syrup forms the base of your drink. You can store it for a few days in the fridge and add the lemon juice and water as needed.

To make the lemonade, pour a little of the syrup into a glass. Add approximately half a lemon per glass and fill up with chilled sparkling water, or boiling water to taste. The proportions are approximately five to one water to syrup, or to taste.



Hot Tips

The 59th Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival is on 26th – 29th September 2013 -  seafood trails, oyster hot spots, oyster opening (shucking) championships including the Oyster ‘Olympics’ or World Oyster Opening Championship, foodie talks and tasting events, food producer tours, an intimate Food village at The Festival Marquee, a Mardi Gras style Gala Event through the streets of Galway…for full program visit

Macroom’s inaugural Food festival will take place from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th of September, 2013 – see for program.

An Afternoon of Knife Skills at Ballymaloe Cookery School – Knife skills are essential, not just for professionals but for anyone who wishes to learn how to cook really well.  Use your newfound skills to cook under the guidance of the teachers and then sit down to enjoy a light supper at the end of the afternoon – Friday 27th September 2 – 5:30pm – to book.

East Cork Slow Food  Event – Want to know more about the GM issue – Josef Finke from Ballybrado Organic Farm will talk on GM technology and the implications for the food sector. Tuesday September 24th at 7pm at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Proceeds to raise funds for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project Field Kitchen. €6.00 Slow Food members €8.00 non-members – tea/coffee and a homemade biscuit from 6:30pm – phone 021 4646785

GUTS at the MAD Symposium 2013 – Copenhagen

The theme of this year’s MAD Symposium held in a red circus tent in Copenhagen, was GUTS – this was interpreted in a variety of ways from intestines to raw courage by the speakers.

The symposium was launched on a stage that represented a Danish forest  woodland scene – trees and logs and a carpet of grass and wild plants. A whole carcass of a Gloucester Old Spot pig, dangled by the back legs from a chain in the centre of the stage, which gave us a hint that this year’s MAD Symposium was going to be a visceral two days of raw emotions and painful honesty.

I was almost the only white haired woman there that is apart from Diana Kennedy, the feisty 90 year old, cookbook author and noted environmentalist who gave a spirited talk about her life collecting and documenting recipes around remote villages in Mexico for 60 years. Virtually everyone else were young, brilliantly crazy people, chefs, farmers, journalists, politicians, scientists, food writers, some of the brightest minds all united by a love and passion for food and food issues.

David Chang from Momofuko in New York who co-curated the event with René Redzepi and his team, launched the event by telling us about his gutsy decision to open Momofuko in 2004. He introduced Dario Cecchini, the legendary Tuscan butcher famous for being able to recite Dante spontaneously as he butchers his carcass like poetry. He strode onto the stage dressed in red, green and white, knife in hand, with his wife Kim and told us the story of his family who have been butchers for over 250 years. He started to learn his trade at the age of 18 and didn’t get a taste of beef a la fiorentina until he was 18, butcher’s families and children traditionally ate the offal and less expensive cuts. He spoke dreamily of the peasant dishes his mother and grandmother used to make and as he did so, he gently slit the stomach of the pig and the guts tumbled out in a neat bundle.  He transferred them to the butchers block then removed the liver, the heart and the kidneys, all the while talking about the noble craft, the importance of rearing, feeding and treating the animal humanely and being grateful for the gift. All of this in front of an audience of over 600 people. It may sound macabre but it was really beautiful, one felt that the pig was having an honourable end and was being treated with respect.

MAD translates to food in Danish, there were many other dramatic moments; all were meant to promote conscious carnivorism and respect for animals.

Over two riveting days different speakers (more than two dozen in all) explored the meaning of GUTS.  Margot Henderson from Rochelle Canteen in London and Barbara Lynch chef-owner of eight successful restaurants in Boston spoke of the guts and courage it took to establish themselves as female chefs in a largely male dominated culinary climate, that Fergus Henderson (Margot’s husband  and beloved chef owner of St John Restaurant) refers to as ‘blokedom.’ They both got a standing ovation as did Indian activist Vandana Shiva who has for many years been a stalwart champion of biodiversity, conservation and of small farmers around the world. As ever, she spoke eloquently and passionately about the myth of the ‘green revolution’ and “the dangers of a world where five companies control all life on earth.” She reminded us that the meaning of seed in virtually every language is to renew so in that sense GM (Genetically Modified) seeds are not seeds at all because they are manufactured to deconstruct at the end of every growing season to prevent seed saving, so that the companies can sell the seeds to the farmers and create a system of dependence. She spoke of the re-colonisation that’s happening in Africa at the hands of the biotech companies and the 250,000 farmer suicides in India that have been the result of these policies.

When ten year old Martha Payne, walked on stage the audience went wild, so much so that she was almost overwhelmed. She started writing her blog ‘NeverSeconds’ when she was just nine years old and gained instant notoriety and started a school lunch revolution. Her Dad, a sheep farmer from Scotland delivered her presentation as she stood shyly by his side, beautiful powerful stuff. When her head mistress banned her from blogging, her farewell post got over 11,000 emails of support in response. Her chosen charity Mary’s Meals has raised over €74,000 for kids in African villages.

And there was so much more…


Noreen Conroy’s Homemade Sausages


Noreen Conroy is a local pig farmer who, along with her husband, Martin, rears rare-breed pigs. They grow their own grain, turnips and kale to feed the pigs, and the meat is wonderful. Noreen and Martin came to the Cookery School to demonstrate how to make sausages.


Makes about 32 sausages


2kg (4lb 8oz) freshly minced organic pork from the belly and shoulder

100g (31⁄2oz) dry breadcrumbs

4 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

good pinch of cayenne

oil, for frying

200g (7oz) natural sheep casings


Put the meat into a large bowl, sprinkle the other ingredients evenly on top and mix very thoroughly with clean hands. Fry off a little morsel in a frying pan to taste the seasoning.

Load the casing onto the nozzle of a sausage fille and fill the length of the casing, twisting it every 71⁄2–10cm (3–4in), depending on the size you want. Store in a fridge and eat within two days.

If you don’t have a filler, roll into skinless sausages using about 25g (1oz) of the mixture per sausage. Store in a fridge and use within a day or two.

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan on a moderate heat and cook the sausages until golden on all sides and cooked through to the centre.


Noma’s Sweet Shrimp from Smögen, Frozen Red Currant Juice

Taken from NOMA Cookbook by Rene Redzepi published by Phaidon Press.

These beautiful shrimps are all around the Irish coast and we get ours directly off the fishing boats in Ballycotton.


20 raw shrimp

200g red currant juice

240g dill

180g grapeseed oil

45g cream

25g milk

70g dill oil

40g white bread

butter for frying

1 small bunch dill




Shell the shrimp carefully, starting at the tail end and working towards the head. Line up the shelled shrimp on a plate and refrigerate.

Red Currant Granita

Add water to the red currant juice until the sugar content reaches 12Ëš on a refractometer. Freeze in containers, and when frozen scrape to a powder with a fork.

Dill Oil

Pick the dill leaves off the stems and blanch for 5 minutes in salted water. Cool in ice water and dry completely on paper. Add the oil and process in a Thermomix at 80ºC -180ºF. If you don’t have a Thermomix just use a blender.

Cream and Dill Oil

Mix all the ingredients and keep in the refrigerator until five minutes before serving.


Reduce the bread to small crumbs, fry in butter and cool. Pick the herbs into ice water, tehn dry.


Take the cold plate of shrimp out of the refrigerator as late as possible. Sprinkle the herbs and fried breadcrumbs on top, then add the cream and dill oil and the granita. Finally sprinkle salt over the granita and prawns.


Camilla Plum’s Preserved Tomatoes

Makes 2 Kilner jars


675g (1lb 8ozs) approximately very ripe tomatoes

5-6 basil leaves

3-4 tablespoons (4-5 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of Maldon sea salt

2-3 cloves of garlic


2 x 2 pint sterilised Kilner glass jars with lids.


Cut the big tomatoes – leave small ones whole. Stuff them in the Kilner jars and press tight. Add the extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon herb or Maldon sea salt, cloves of garlic and a sprig of basil. Close and seal the jars and bake at 110ºC/225°F/Gas Mark 1/4 until tomatoes are soft (3-4 hours) or until the tomatoes have softened and are cooked.

Keeps forever!


Camilla Plum’s Verbena, Chilli, Ginger and Lemon Thyme Sugar


1 handful Moroccan mint

3 big handfuls fresh lemon verbena, leaves stripped off the stalks

1 inch knob of ginger chopped

2 tablespoons lemon thyme

2-3 Kaffir lime leaves if available

1/2 chilli

1 fistful of lemon basil

250-450g (9oz) sugar


Put the leaves into the food processor; add ginger and lemon thyme leaves plus a couple of kaffir lime leaves if you have them. Add 110g (4oz) of sugar, whizz until blended, add rest of sugar and whizz another second, one can add less or more sugar.


Spread out on a tray or platter.  Leave to dry for 5-6 days even a week or use immediately.


For a hot drink

Pour boiling water over about a tablespoon of the Verbena Sugar in a glass, add lemon juice to taste.


For a cold drink.

Add flat or sparkling water and lemon juice, add some rum if you fancy.



Slow Food Apple and Craft Cider Festival 2013 Friday to Sunday 22nd September 2013.

This year there will be twelve Irish producers making more than twenty craft ciders. Apple-pressing and cider-making demonstrations, juice bar and family barbecues, spit-roasts and tapíní (that’s tapas Irish style!)… Children can catch The Orchard Special a train around the Apple Farm At the Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary –


Catch the last two days of the Waterford Harvest Festival today and tomorrow. The local Slow food movement will operate an indoor producers market at 44 Merchants Quay with lots of interesting exhibits e.g. milking goats, traditional cream separator, farmhouse butter churn. Visitors can look forward to great bargains, wonderful tastes and interesting demonstrations like soap making or how to make your own chocolate truffles. Each day there are Slow food guided tours to local artisan food producers where you can learn their story and the provenance of these very special foods. Book your seat early as seats are limited. Information and booking on


The 2013 GIY Gathering takes place during the Waterford Harvest Festival today at 10am to 5pm and tomorrow from 10:30am to 3:30pm at the Tower Hotel in Waterford and brings together some of the world’s leading food growing advocates, experts and writers for two days of inspiring and practical debate, discussion, talks and workshops. Speakers include Foodopoly author Wenonah Hauter, ‘no-dig’ guru Charles Dowding, River Cottagers Mark Diacono and Steve Lamb, BBC presenter Alys Fowler, Guardian food writer Tom Maggoch, author Joy Larkcom, Darina Allen, RTE TV growing gurus Ella McSweeney, Fiann O’Nuallain and Kitty Scully, and John and Sally McKenna. The theme of this year’s GIY Gathering is “Food Empathy”, that is, the deeper understanding of food, where it comes from, how it is produced, and the time and effort required, that arises when people grow some of their own food.

National Potato Day 2013

National Potato Day was on 23rd August and even though I missed it this year I really want to dedicate my column this week to the sometimes glorious spud. It’s all about the variety and how they are grown.

For the past few weeks we’ve been eating the most beautiful floury British Queens and Sharpes Express. Soon we’ll have Ratte and Pink Fir Apple. The latter are a delicious fingerling potato but definitely susceptible to blight which hasn’t been much of a problem this year but was a nightmare last season. We all know that the potato is a wonderfully nourishing food yet most Irish families now reach for bag of pasta rather than boil a few new potatoes which take a very similar length of time to cook.

There are few things so thrilling as digging potatoes you planted a few months earlier. Where you planted a single potato you’ll find anything from 5 to 10 potatoes hidden in the soil. Doesn’t matter whether you are a farmer or a scientist or a hedge fund manager, you can’t help being touched by the miracle of nature. I’m delighted to see that so many more people, plus schools are planting potatoes again. I can’t tell you how many people have said how wildly excited they were to be growing a few potatoes, for the first time, suddenly they realise how delicious simply boiled potatoes can be with a few flakes of sea salt and a nice little chunk of butter melting over the top. Freshness really matters.

I’m a big fan of the old varieties and have very little ‘meas’ on Roosters, the all-purpose variety developed a number of years ago, for me it doesn’t hold a candle to the Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pink. Fortunately, potatoes are set to follow the heirloom tomato route – the more tasteless the generic varieties become the greater the demand for a potato with real flavour. So far country markets, farmers markets and independent shops are probably the best source of local potatoes, note the variety and the grower.

The Teagasc research station in Oakpark in Co Carlow has been conducting trails on GM (genetically modified) resistant potatoes since 2010. At first the trials were in the lab but last year permission was granted to plant the potato in the open close to the research station in Co Carlow. The duration for the consent is for four years, from 2012 to 2016 (inclusive) with post-trial monitoring continuing until 2020. Planting will not exceed two hectares in area.

This is of particular concern to those who feel strongly that Ireland should remain GM free and safeguard our clean green image so vital for the marketing of Irish food in the future. As organic farmers we grow blight resistant varieties with considerable success. In 1998 when protein scientist Professor Arpad Pusztai fed GM potatoes to rats in a study at the Rowett Institute. Twelve feeding experiments were conducted, ten short-term (10 days) and two long-term (110 days). Rats fed raw or cooked potato modified with the GNA gene showed statistically significant thickening of the stomach mucosa compared to rats fed the unmodified potato. As these effects were not observed in rats fed control potatoes injected with GNA protein, Pusztai concluded that the differences were a result of the transformation procedure. He found that he incurred the full wrath of the pro GM lobby and his research was discredited  – interestingly several other research projects have come up with similar conclusions since then…

The Keogh family who instigated National Potato Day in 2011 have started a national campaign to designate the potato as our national vegetable – a splendid idea but will a GM potato have the same appeal who exactly will be clamouring to buy Genetically Modified potatoes.


Madhur Jaffrey’s Cauliflower with Potatoes (Aloo Gobi)

From Gurbax Kaur in Bradford


Serves 6


600g (1lb 5oz) cauliflower, cut into florets 5x5cm (2 x 2 inches), plus 1 handful of medium diced stalk and leaves

450g (1lb) potato, peeled and cut into fat chips, 5cm x 2cm (2 x 3/4 inches)

oil for deep frying

2 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon freshly grated or mashed garlic

1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger

1 medium tomato, finely diced

3-4 green chilies, chopped

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves

3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped


Pour the oil for deep-frying into a wok or Indian karhai and set on a medium-high heat. Wait for it to get very hot. Fry the cauliflower in two batches, about 2 minutes a batch, or until light brown all over. Remove and drain on kitchen towels. Ensure the oil has time to reheat between batches. Add all the potatoes to the oil and fry for 5- 6 minutes or till golden all over. Remove and drain on kitchen towels. (Strain the oil and save it for future use.)


Set a clean wok or heavy based pan, about 20cm (8 inches) in diameter, on a medium heat. Pour in the oil and when hot, add the onions. Sauté them for 2 minutes. Add the cumin seeds. Stir and fry for 3 – 5 minutes or until the onions are light brown. Spoon in the garlic and ginger. Continue to stir for 2 minutes, adding a splash of hot water if the mixture starts to stick. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes or until they have completely integrated. Sprinkle in the chilies and salt and stir for 1 minute. Add the fenugreek leaves, stirring again for 1 minute. Spoon in the turmeric powder and mix well. Add another splash of water if necessary and then tip in the cauliflower stems and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes or until soft. Add a little water if the wok seems to dry out. Now put in the cauliflower, potatoes and coriander, mix gently and cook for 2 more minutes.


Mallika’s Punjabi Potato Cakes


Serves 6

6 potatoes (boiled, peeled and mashed)
110g (4oz) green peas (boiled and mashed coarsely)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 small or 1 medium carrot (grated from the thicker side of the grater and squeezed to get rid of excess water)
1 green chilli (deseeded and finely chopped)
2 heaped tablespoon coriander chopped
50g (2oz) bread crumbs (to bind)
salt and pepper (as per taste)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

sunflower oil (to fry)

To Serve
Tamarind Chutney
Banana and Yoghurt Raita
In a mixing bowl mix together all the ingredients except the oil and knead and bind it all to form a ball.  If there is some trouble in bringing it all together then you can add more breadcrumbs.
Let the mixture stand for ten minutes.

Meanwhile heat some oil in a deep fryer at 180°C/350°F.

Now form small balls of equal size from the potato mixture and flatten it between your palms to form cakes.
Deep fry them until crispy and golden on the outside. Alternatively you can also shallow fry them on a griddle or a non-stick pan.  Serve with accompanying chutneys.

Buttermilk Smashed Potatoes


Serves 8


1.8kg (4lb) potatoes (Golden Wonders or Kerr Pinks)

425-600ml (15-20fl oz) buttermilk, if low fat use 25-50ml (1-2fl oz) cream

salt and freshly ground pepper

25-50g (1-2 oz) butter

4 scallions, optional


Scrub the potatoes really well, put into a saucepan.  Cover with cold water, add salt, bring to the boil, cover and cook until almost tender.  Pour off most of the water.  Cover the saucepan and steam until fully cooked.  Drain off any remaining water.  Mash the potatoes coarsely with a potato masher; add some buttermilk, a large lump of butter, lots of salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add the finely sliced scallions, if using.  Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.


Camilla Plum’s Gravad Fish with Dill Creamed Potatoes

This classic Scandinavian dish works perfectly with all kinds of fatty fish, including salmon, herrings, mackerel, whitefish and Greenland halibut. If possible, use whole fish with just the head and bones removed; the skin must be left on. It is of course, as with sushi, absolutely essential to use very fresh fish.

1.25kg (3lb) fatty fish fillets of your choice (skin on)

For the Spice Rub

4 tablespoons coarse Sea salt

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper or even better, Garins of Paradise.

1 teaspoon roasted caraway seeds

handful sweet cicely leaves,

40ml (1 1/2fl oz) Schnapps


Smother the skin side of the fish in the spice rub, cover with cling film and put something heavy on top, to press it slightly. Put the fish in the fridge for 24 hours, turning the fish a couple of times.


Take it out, but leave the spices on, slice very thinly, serve with dill creamed potatoes.



Dill Creamed Potatoes


1kg (2 1/4lb) waxy potatoes, boiled for 8 minutes in salted water

400ml (14fl oz) full cream

salt and coarsely ground black pepper

big bunch dill, chopped, with stalks


Cut potatoes in quarters, and put in a sauté pan with the cream, salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, and the cream reduced to a negligee covering the potatoes, adjust seasoning and add dill at the last moment of the heat.


Patatas Bravas (Potatoes in Tomato Sauce)


Serves 4


3 tbsp olive oil

1¼lb (600g) potatoes cut into 2cm cubes

1 small onion, grated

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp fino sherry

4½ozs (125g) canned chopped tomatoes

½ tsp dried chilli flakes, well crushed

½ tsp freshly grated orange zest

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp freshly chopped flat leaf parsley

1 fresh bay leaf


Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan, add the potatoes and mix well.  Cook for 15 minutes until golden brown.


Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in another frying pan, add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sherry, and then simmer for 1 minute to burn off the alcohol.  Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes, chilli, orange zest, sugar, parsley and bay leaf.  Cook for 10 minutes – add the water to stop the mixture thickening too much.


Transfer the cooked potatoes to a serving bowl, pour over the tomato sauce and mix well.  This can be made a day in advance and reheated before serving.


Hot Tips


A feast in the East! The tenth Midleton Food and Drink Festival – Saturday 14th September with over 60 stalls this year in the open air food and drink market. Enjoy the carnival atmosphere with street performance artists, craft exhibitions, whiskey and wine tastings and a full programme of food and cookery demonstrations. Little ones will love The Decorate a Cupcake Challenge!


Highbank Orchard is celebrating the harvest with a gathering of all Kilkenny Trails for a Harvest Picnic, Food and Craft Fair on Sunday 29th September. They are inviting genuine Irish Food and Craft Producers to take part. There is a limited space for stalls so if you are interested please contact Highbank Organic Farm +353 (0)56 7729918


Rachel Allen has a delicious range of ready baked cakes in a box, dark chocolate brownie cake, toffee apple and ginger cake, orange and almond drizzle cake. They make a nice change to giving a bottle of wine at a dinner party and only take a minute to heat up and serve with a little softly whipped cream


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