Beach barbecues, picnics, sandcastles, ice-creams…

Don’t we have to pinch ourselves now that weeks have passed and the sun is still shining, hope it is still beaming on all of us by the time you read this piece. It’s heaven to be able to eat outside every evening. Lily white bodies that haven’t been exposed to the Irish sun for over 10 years are beginning to glow and the local beaches resemble the Mediterranean, everyone having a jolly time, beach barbeques, picnics, sandcastles, ice-creams. There’s been a mass exodus from the kitchen and some Irish firms are reporting a 70% increase in absenteeism…the lure of the beach and the sun lounger is irresistible and it’s difficult to spend too much time over a hot stove. Having said that, seaside restaurants, cafés and pubs are doing a brilliant trade, a little compensation for the past few years of dismal weather. Spare a thought for the cooks and chefs who are still rustling the pots and pans over hot stoves, a special little word of thanks sent into the kitchen can help to compensate and maybe ease the envious thought of pals frolicking on the beach.

We’ve been having lots of fun making homemade ice-pops or popsicles as they are called in the US. We’re smack in the middle of the soft fruit season so we’ve been experimenting with different combinations, strawberry and blackcurrant, strawberry and lemon verbena, blackcurrant and rosemary, green gooseberry and elderflower…except these ones are not just flavour they are real fruit ice and everyone is blown away by the intensity of the flavour. We also love to add some fresh herbs, mint, lemon verbena, sweet geranium, peach and raspberry also make a super popsicle – experiment, have fun!

This week, a few recipes for Summer days and picnics in the countryside or on the beach.



Salmon or Sea Bass with Hoisin Sauce


Tuna would also be good in this recipe as well as chicken breasts or lamb chops.

This dish is also good cold, perfect for picnics.  Leftovers may be added to rice or couscous salads.  Hoisin Sauce is a sweet bean paste available in ethnic shops and many supermarkets.


Serves 4


4 x 4ozs (110g) salmon fillets, about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick

2 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon pepper


Mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and pepper in a small bowl.   Pat fish (or chicken breasts) dry and coat with sauce.


Preheat the barbecue or pan-grill and cook fish for about 5 minutes each side.  You may also bake fish for 10-12 minutes in a preheated oven 220ºC/425°F/Gas Mark 7.

Serve with boiled potatoes and a good green salad.


Potato and Spring Onion Salad


The secret of a good potato salad is to use freshly cooked potatoes and then season and toss in French dressing while they are still warm. This simple trick makes a phenomenal difference to the flavour of the finished salad. I’ve had delicious results with both waxy (Pink Fir Apple or Sharpe’s Express) and floury (Golden Wonders) potatoes, though waxy are definitely easier to handle.


Serves 4–6


1.6kg (31⁄2lb) raw potatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

3 tablespoons chopped chives or spring onions

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

150ml (1⁄4 pint) French Dressing

150ml (1⁄4 pint) homemade Mayonnaise, thinned with a little water


Boil the potatoes in their jackets in a large amount of well-salted water. Peel and dice the potatoes while they are still hot and put into a large, wide dish. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle immediately with the chives or spring onions and the parsley. Drizzle over the French dressing and mix well. Leave to cool and then add the mayonnaise. Taste and correct seasoning.


Spatchcock Chicken with Rosemary and Chilli Oil 


Serves 6 or more


1 organic chicken – weight 1.8 – 2.2kg (4-5lb)



1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Green Salad

Wedges of Avocado – (you will need 2-3 avocadoes)

Wedges of Cucumber


To spatchcock the chicken


First remove the wishbone from the neck end (keep for the stockpot).

Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as possible.

Open the bird out as much as possible.


Mix the rosemary, garlic, pepper, chilli flakes, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.  Just before cooking, brush the chicken both inside and out with the marinade.  Put skin side up on the grill rack.  Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.


Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas mark 9.

Lay the chicken, skin side up on a rack. Roast for 30-45 minutes over a roasting tin.

Spatchcocking enables the bird to cook much faster, there will be lots of crispy skin and its really easy to carve.  All poultry can be cooked in this way, vary the seasoning and spices to give Mexican, Moroccan or Asian flavours.


Alternatively barbeque until cooked through, 20cm (8-9 inches) from the coals, turning over half way through cooking – about 30 minutes.  Make sure the chicken is fully cooked through before serving.


Serve with a good green salad and wedges of avocado.


Raspberry Fool with Shortbread Biscuits


This is one of those recipes that somehow is much greater than the sum of its parts. Three simple ingredients produce a rich and luscious result.

When in season I use fresh raspberries, but this fool is also excellent made with frozen berries – I haven’t quite decided if it is actually better with the latter. Soft fruit becomes more bitter when frozen but the flavour of the berries seems to be accentuated when frozen ones are used. Any leftover fool can be frozen to make ice cream.


Serves 8-10


450g (1lb) raspberries, fresh or frozen

150–225g (6–8oz) caster sugar

600ml (1 pint) whipped cream

shortbread biscuits (see recipe)


Lay the raspberries in a single layer on a dish. Sprinkle on the sugar and allow to macerate for 1 hour. If you are using frozen berries this should be long enough for them to defrost.


Purée the fruit in a liquidiser or blender then pass through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds. Gently fold in the whipped cream – go lightly if you want to create a ‘swirly’ effect. The fool is now ready to be served or can be chilled for serving later. Serve with shortbread biscuits.


Shortbread Biscuits

Everyone should have this biscuit recipe written up inside a kitchen cupboard door, actually it’s really easy to remember – just 2,4,6…


Makes 25


6 ozs (175g) white flour or Spelt

4 ozs (110g) butter

2 ozs (50g) caster sugar


Put the flour and sugar into a bowl; rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 1/4 inch (7mm) thick.  Cut into rounds with a 2 1/2 inch (6cm) cutter or into heart shapes.  Bake in a moderate oven 180°C/350ºF/regulo 4 to pale brown, 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the biscuits. Remove and cool on a rack.


Serve with fruit fools, compotes and ice creams.


Note: Watch these biscuits really carefully in the oven. Because of the high sugar content they burn easily. They should be a pale golden – darker will be more bitter.

However if they are too pale they will be undercooked and doughy.  Cool on a wire rack.


Blackcurrant Popsicles


We use all the summer fruits, raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants with combinations like blackberry and sweet geranium, redcurrant and strawberry, peach and raspberry, raspberry and basil.   In Winter we make a variety of citrus pops including blood orange and tangerine.   They are loved not just by children but people of all ages, and I particularly enjoy serving them at the end of a dinner party.


Makes 2


450g (1lb) fresh blackcurrants

225-300ml (8-10flozs) stock syrup


Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst.  Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve.  Allow to cool.  Add the syrup.  It needs to taste sweeter than you would like because the freezing dulls the sweetness.  Pour into popsicle moulds, cover, insert a stick and freeze until needed.  Best eaten within a few days.


Stock Syrup


Makes 825ml (28fl ozs)


450g (1lb) sugar

600ml (1 pint) water


To make the stock syrup: Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil.  Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed.


Rosemary Syrup


Add 1 – 2 sprigs of rosemary to the cold water and sugar and bring to the boil. Cool and use as above.



Homemade Lemonade


Serves 10-12


6 lemons

350ml (12fl oz) approx. syrup (see recipe for Stock Syrup)

1.4L (2 1/2 pint) approx. still water or better still sparkling water



sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm


Juice the lemons and mix with the stock syrup, add water to taste.  Add ice, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or lemon balm and serve.

Hot Tips

Knockdrinna Cheese Courses – Two one day cheese making courses Saturday 31st August and Saturday September 28th 11am to 3pm. Enjoy a day of learning how to make cheese using equipment that most people already have in their kitchen – no need to go out and spend a fortune on equipment.  €80 Euro includes tea/coffee and lunch and a tour of the Knockdrinna cheese factory in Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny – email to book –

On the Pigs Back -  around the back of St Patricks Woollen Mills in Douglas – has expanded its dining area, it’s a super food shop, Isabelle Sheridan chooses the produce with a keen eye for quality – try the salamis, varieties of sea salt and some French cheeses in superb condition alongside a well-chosen Irish farmhouse cheese selection. I bought a St Félicien from the Rhône-Alpes region of France –

Rory O’Connell’s new book Master It – How to Cook Today has garnered some rave reviews – he is teaching a two day practical cookery course based recipes from his book from Wednesday 4th to Friday 6th September at Ballymaloe Cookery School –

After the 12 Week Certificate Course – Some Ballymaloe Graduants

We’ve just said goodbye to our Summer batch of 12 Week Certificate Course students and I’ve just been paid perhaps the best compliment I’ve got when one chap told me ‘I have learned so much and had so much fun I feel I owe you money!’

There were lots of tears and hugging as students not only from Ireland but from all over the world (11 nationalities) said goodbye to each other before they wing their way home to all four corners of the globe.

Quite something because this course is unquestionably a big ask in terms of time and money but fortunately it is now looked on as an investment because at the end of 12 very intensive full-on weeks, students go straight into jobs in restaurant kitchens all over the world.

This group were aged between 18 and 60, some starting out on their careers others changing careers, had an exciting variety of plans.

Dan Morgenthau was off to Honey and Co in London. John Molony from Dublin was looking forward to working with Yannick Van Aeken and Louise Bannon at Nede the ‘hot’ new restaurant in Dublin.

Prue Campbell from NSW Australia will spend two months at Cappezzanna with Jean Charles and Rosalind Carrini in Tuscany. Jill Holmquist was off to work in the Rose Bakery in Paris. Michelle Rehme was going home to work in the Flagstone Pantry in Santa Barbara. Jessica Stewart-Fraser was heading to Portugal to open a boutique and B&B in the Algarve. Bernie ter Braak from Lithuania was heading home to Vilnius to his café, restaurant and tapas bar.

Not everyone wanted to go straight into a restaurant kitchen several had plans to get a stall in a Farmers Market so they could sell their pickles and preserves home baking or choccies.

Several others had plans to teach kids to cook or get involved in their local community and share their skills. A couple of semi-retired people had just taken time out to learn how to cook so they could at last enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and entertain their friends and business colleagues with ease and panache.

Having spent three months in the midst of a farm and gardens, they all have itchy green fingers and are determined to get a chicken coop and a few hens the moment it’s practical. Meanwhile they’ll be foraging for wild food to spice up their menus, fishing for summer mackerel and maybe even smoking them in a biscuit tin over the gas ring in the kitchen – a more elaborate smoker comes next – a cookery course can be life changing!


How to Smoke Mackerel, Chicken Breast or Duck Breast in a Simple Biscuit Tin Smoker


This is a simple Heath Robinson way to smoke small items of food. It may be frowned upon by serious smokers, but it is great for beginners because it gives such quick results. The fish, duck or chicken can be smoked without having been brined, but even a short salting or brining will improve flavour – 15–20 minutes should do it. Leave to dry for approximately 30 minutes before smoking.


mackerel or duck breast or organic chicken breast


1 shallow biscuit tin with tight-fitting lid

1 wire cake rack to fit inside

pure salt or 80 per cent brine


Place a sheet of tin foil in the base of the biscuit tin and sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of sawdust over it. Lay the fish or meat on the wire rack skin-side upwards, and then cover the tin with the lid.


Place the tin on a gas jet or other heat source on a medium heat. The sawdust will start to smoulder and produce warm smoke that in turn both cooks and smokes the food. Reduce the heat to low. Mackerel will take about 8–10 minutes. Duck or chicken breast will take 20 –30 minutes, depending on the size. Leave to rest before eating warm or at room temperature.


Alternatively, you could buy a simple smoking box from a fishing store or hot-smoke in a tightly covered wok over a gas jet in your own kitchen.


Smoky Tomato Coulee


Pamela Nelson-Munson, a student from Ashland, Oregon gave me this recipe after one of our smoking demonstrations – it’s destined to become a must have sauce in our repertoire.


This is an all-round terrific sauce with endless possibilities, and totally vegan! Of course it has endless possibilities in its seasoning, but it’s surprising how much natural flavour comes out with just these simple ingredients.


As a starter, I love to serve this sparingly in a shallow bowl with 1 large or 2-3 small and very fresh butter-poached scallops. Enjoy!


5-6 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half, spoon out seeds

3-4 smashed cloves of garlic, unpeeled

1 fresh clove garlic

50ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


Lay the halved Roma tomatoes (cut side down on rack) in a stove top smoker (medium heat as you see the smoke begin) for 20-30 minutes or until hot all the way through and soft but not mushy (This may take shorter or longer in your smoker).  Add smashed garlic (also on rack) for last 15 minutes.


Slip the tomato out of their skins and put in food processor or blender with peeled smoked garlic, a fresh garlic clove, and any accumulated juices.


When puréed, with processor still running, add olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Store in fridge.


Madhulika’s Grandmother’s Pork Masala


Madhulika Sundaram from Chennai cooked this pork masala while she was with us and sweetly shared the recipe. We’ve made it several times since and remember her as we enjoy it.


Serves 6


1kg (2 1/4lb) x 2.5cm (1 inch) pork cubes from shoulder of pork

100g (3 1/2oz) sunflower oil

25g (1oz) brown mustard seeds

1 rounded tablespoon cumin seeds

500g (18oz) onion, finely chopped

1 level teaspoon turmeric powder

100g (3 1/2oz) ginger, peeled and finely diced

100g (3 1/2oz) garlic, finely chopped

6-10 red chillies, sliced into rings

350 – 475ml (12-16fl oz) water


1 teaspoon soft brown sugar (optional)


Put the oil in a saucepan on a high heat, when it begins to bubble add the mustard seeds and cumin to it.  As soon as the mustard seeds pop, add the onions and cook until light brown.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the diced pork and the ginger, garlic, turmeric and chillies to the pan.  Stir well, cover and leave to cook on a medium heat for 15 minutes.


Add 350ml (12fl oz) water, season lightly with salt and stir.  Cover the pan and allow to cook gently for 40 minutes on a medium heat, stirring at regular intervals.  The water should be almost fully reduced at this stage.  Add half the sugar, stir well and add more if desired.


Serve in a warm bowl with rice and a fruit raita.



  • Reduce chillies if that amount is too terrifying.


Bernie ter Braak Lithuanian Honey Liqueur


Compiled and presented for your pleasure by Bernie Ter Braak.


Makes 4 – 6 pints.


2 tablespoon orange peel

1 tablespoon lemon peel

3 sticks cinnamon (break lightly)

4-5 pods of cardamom, lightly crushed

1 nutmeg, lightly crushed

3-5 cloves (leave whole)

1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

3-4 allspice, lightly crushed

1 teaspoon black pepper, lightly crushed

1 teaspoon white pepper, lightly crushed

3-4 thin slices white ginger

3-4 thin slices red ginger (if available)

1 tbsp or 3 sticks of vanilla

a pinch of saffron (for colour)

3lbs (1.3kgs) honey

1.2 litres (2 pints) water of water

750ml (1 ½ pints) vodka

Put the water into a large pot.  Simmer the dry spices until fragrant.  Add the moist spices.  When blended, add the honey, simmer but do not boil.  When the honey is dissolved, remove the spices (strainer).  Remove from any flame source and add the alcohol.  Allow to cool and bottle in sterilized containers.

Some people drink this right away, but it is highly recommended that you let it age in the bottle in a dark, cool place, for at least 6 months.  The longer it ages, the better it gets.

Hot Tips

The members of OOOBY (Out of Our Own Backyard) Shanagarry have some wonderful fresh produce from their gardens for sale on the wall outside the Shanagarry Design Centre from 10:30am to 12:30pm every Saturday. They also sell their home-baking, jams and pickles.

Silver Darlings – Irish Atlantic pickled and marinated herring products made by a Finnish native Kirsti O’Kelly. Kirsti learned to pickle herring from her mother and both of her grandmothers. It is not cooked but the process of preserving the fish dissolves all the nasty herring bones leaving the flesh meaty but soft and easy to eat. The family recipes were passed on the generations and now Kirsti with her husband Eoin continue the tradition on Corbally Road in Limerick.  Silver Darlings products are available at farmers markets at the Real Olive Company stalls, Toonsbridge Café, the English Market in Cork, Mortons in Ranelagh, Cake Café, Dublin and Kai Galway – 086-0661132


Come Home for your Cake Competition winners 2013

The revival of interest in baking has enticed people into the kitchens who might never have been seduced by a pot of stew or even a tagine. The Great British Bake Off had the whole country in a frenzy, apparently 14 million people watched one of the episodes, the biggest viewing figures after the royal wedding. Rachel’s Bake and Cake TV series too had very impressive viewing numbers and the accompanying books have been reprinted many times.  Farmers markets too have provided an outlet for home bakers to sell their creations and create some extra income and employment.

This coincides with a greater appreciation of homemade cakes rather than the perfect professional looking confections that look stunning but rarely deliver on flavour. Somehow, people now feel more confident if something doesn’t look too slick.

Recently, Rachel and I had a fun afternoon at the Kinsale Arts Festival. We were invited to judge the Come Home for your Cake competition. We had the enviable task of tasting the 30 entries that Maggie Hogan and Ruth MacDonald had laid out in a square on four tables. It was a real ‘wow’ moment. Some cakes were simple, others elaborately iced and decorated like the two crinoline doll cakes embellished with fondant icing and glitter.

There were several versions of lemon drizzle cake in a variety of shapes and sizes, one delicious version included blueberries and had been cooked in a Swiss roll tin with lemon icing drizzled over the top.

There was also a variety of cheese cakes, several gluten free cakes and a Tarte Tatin. It was a tough chore to judge; the standard was fantastically good overall. After the judging, there was a question and answer session on baking and then we announced the prize winners. We decided the winner was an orange chiffon cake, Karen Ferguson from Bandon, who was anxious that we should know that the recipe was given to her by Lily Perrot, made the delicious, feather-like cake with a light orange icing.

She and the other winners kindly agreed that I could share their winning recipes with Irish Examiner readers.

Rachel and I decided to give another prize of lunch and afternoon demonstration at the Ballymaloe Cookery School for two people in the coeliac section. There were three delicious cakes, Chocolate and raspberry, Carrot cake and a Lemon drizzle. When we announced the winners, we discovered that the first two cakes were made by two sisters Grace (aged 10) and Cathy Hynes (aged 11). The rise in the number of coeliacs and those with wheat intolerance is extraordinary so people are always on the lookout for delicious recipes. My book on Healthy Gluten Free Food written in conjunction with Rosemary Kearney is published by Kyle Books and is now in its eighth printing. All the recipes are of course gluten free and also suitable for those with a wheat allergy.

Congratulations to all the bakers and special thanks for sharing. Such generosity of spirit is so important and it’s always a delight to hear stories of people who not only share their recipes but also pass on their skills.


Gluten Free Chocolate and Raspberry Cake


10 year old Grace Hynes made this cake based on the original recipe for Chocolate Fudge Cake in Rachel Allen’s book ‘Cake’. She substituted ground almonds for flour and used 5 instead of 6 eggs and 200g instead of 250g of chocolate. The result was a moist and memorable gluten free chocolate cake. She decorated the top with fresh raspberries.


Serves 10 – 12


200g (7oz) dark chocolate in drops or broken into pieces

225g (8oz) butter, plus extra for greasing

325g (11 ½ oz) caster sugar

5 eggs separated

275g (10 oz) ground almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt


225g (8oz) fresh raspberries


For the Icing

275g (10oz) icing sugar

100g (3 1/2 oz) cocoa powder

125g (4 ½ oz) butter

175g (6oz) caster sugar


25cm (10in) diameter spring-form or loose bottomed cake tin with 6cm (2 ½ in) sides.


Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF, Gas 3, then butter the sides of the cake tin and line the base with a disc of baking parchment. If you’re using a spring-form tin, make sure the base is upside down, so there’s no lip and the cake can slide off easily when cooked. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave until just melted, stirring occasionally, then set aside.

Either in a large bowl using a wooden spoon or in the bowl of an electric mixer using the paddle beater, cream the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition. Mix in the ground almonds and the melted chocolate, followed by the baking powder and vanilla extract.

Tip the egg whites into a separate bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat until stiff but still smooth in appearance – do not over beat. Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for about 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean but moist. Leave in the tin for 20 minutes, then loosen the edges of the cake using a small, sharp knife and remove the sides of the tin before carefully transferring to a serving plate to cool down fully.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Place the butter, caster sugar and 100ml (3 ½fl oz) water in a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Stir all the ingredients together until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved, then pour into the dry ingredients and mix together well.

When the cake has cooled, pour over the icing, allowing it to drizzle down the sides.

Decorate with fresh raspberries.


Karen Ferguson’s Orange Chiffon Cake

Lilly Perrott shared this American favourite with Karen.


225g (8oz) white flour

350g (12oz) caster sugar

3 level teaspoons baking powder

1 level teaspoon salt

grated zest of 2 oranges

125ml (4fl oz) vegetable oil

7 egg yolks

50ml (2fl oz) orange juice, freshly squeezed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

225g (8oz) egg whites

½ teaspoon cream of tartar (Bextartar)

Orange Glaze

450 g (1lb) icing sugar

Grated zest of 2 oranges

Freshly squeezed orange juice

2 x 9inch Bundt tin (a circle with a hold in the centre)

Preheat oven to 325 F or 160 C or Gas 3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add in the oil, egg yolks, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract. Beat vigorously with a spoon or in a food mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Measure egg whites and cream of tartar into spotlessly clean and dry large mixing bowl. Beat until very stiff. Pour egg yolk mixture over the beaten egg whites, and whisk, use a wire whisk and fold together very carefully, take your time!

Pour into the UNGREASED  9 inch Bundt tins and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. When fully cooked invert over bottle until cold. When cold, loosen sides of cake with a knife or very small spatula and release clip or if it does not have a clip bang cake tin on edge of worktop until it frees itself keep hand under tin when banging as it can fall out suddenly!

To make the icing, put the sieved icing sugar into a bowl, add the orange zest and enough juice to make a softish icing. Careful not to make it too runny or it will run straight off the cake.

Put the cakes on cake rack and allow icing to drip onto plate underneath, then scrape up the icing and cover the gaps. Move to the serving plate before icing is set.


Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting


Serves 10


350 g (12 ozs) carrots, peeled and grated

55 g (2 oz) pecan nuts finely chopped

5 large eggs

220 g (7 ozs) pale brown sugar

250 g (9 ozs) ground almonds

1 heaped teaspoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger


Cream Cheese Frosting

250 g (9 ozs) cream cheese, at room temperature

50 g (2 oz) butter

100 g (3½ ozs) icing sugar

zest and juice of half a lemon, or to taste


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.


Grease two 20 cm (8 inch) cake tins or spring form pans


Put the grated carrot in a bowl, add the chopped pecan nuts. Whisk the eggs and add to the bowl with the brown sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Mix well.

Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the tin before removing.

To make the frosting.

Cream the butter and cheese in a bowl. Add the sieved icing sugar, zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice and continue to beat for another few minutes, until pale and fluffy.

When the cakes are cool – sandwich together and ice with frosting. Decorate with pecans or tiny marzipan carrots.



Jacques and Eithne Barry have extended the much loved Jacques Restaurant out onto Oliver Plunkett Street with a Tapas Bar serving delicious bites – (021) 427 7387 –

The Carlingford Oyster Festival Thursday 8th to Monday 12th August Carlingford, County Louth –

The first Ballymaloe Garden Festival is from 31st Aug to 1st Sep 2013 – some well-known speakers including Joy Larcom, Helen Dillon, Susan Turner, Alys Fowler, Brian Cross…will talk about garden design, seaside and urban gardening, restoration, composting, seed saving, unusual edibles, foraging and much more. Plant and food stalls and children’s education area. for a program of events.


Summer’s Bounty

For vegetable gardeners this time of the year can be immensely frustrating as well as rewarding. At last the seeds and seedlings planted in Spring and early Summer have sprung forth and are ready to harvest and enjoy. Sometimes everything seems to come together and now it seems like there are almost not enough meal times to enjoy the fruits of all that weeding, digging and watering.

The gardens and greenhouses at the Ballymaloe Cookery School are a real joy at present, a tribute to the gardeners’ hard work; I want to freeze the images in my mind’s eye so I can conjure them up once again in the drearier months of the year.

Every meal at the moment is a celebration of nature’s bounty, when the vegetables and fruit are fresh it’s so easy to create the ‘wow’ factor, ‘faits simple’ as the French say, no need for bells and whistles and twiddles and bows.

Picking, harvesting and preparing the produce yourself really adds to the enjoyment of the meal. It takes time which may not always be possible but when you grow something yourself, it adds a whole other dimension to the food. It’s quite a different experience than just slitting the top of a packet. You handle it with so much more care and respect and certainly won’t boil ‘the hell out of it’ in the kitchen.

It’s been an amazing year for elderflower blossom and there are still some elderflowers around, so make elderflower syrup to lay down for poaching fruit – pears or apricots or drizzling over carrageen moss or panna cotta.

We planted a couple of apricot and peach trees in the greenhouse a couple of years ago, no fruit at first but this year there’s an abundant crop, I can hardly bear to cook them but I love to make at least one apricot tart in the Summer.

Enjoy this menu for this weekend.


Zucchini Fritters with Tsatziki

These little zucchini fritters are simply grated zucchini bound with a little egg and flour. They taste quintessentially Italian, especially if you add Parmigiano. Mature Coolea cheese is also packed with flavour. They make delicious picnic food and are perfect for a lunch box.


1.3 kgs (3lbs) small zucchini a mixture of green and yellow looks great

2 teaspoons salt

2 fresh eggs


½ teaspoon pepper

1 bunch scallions, finely chopped

2 heaped tablespoons flour

½ cup finely grated Parmigiano or Mature Coolea

extra virgin olive oil for frying



Tsatziki (see recipe below)


Grate the zucchini on a box grater. Sprinkle with salt; allow to drain in colander for about 20 minutes. Squeeze out all the moisture in a clean tea towel. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the scallions, flour and pepper then add the grated zucchini and cheese. Mix well.

Pour about ¼ in of extra virgin olive oil into a frying pan over a medium heat. Drop tablespoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the pan and flatten them into approximately 2 inch rounds. Make three or four at a time, don’t overcrowd the pan. When golden on one side – 3 to 4 minutes – flip over and continue to cook on the other side. Watch them carefully, so they don’t overcook, drain on kitchen paper and serve with a bowl of tzatziki.



Serves 8 – 10 depending on how it is served.


This Greek speciality is a delicious cucumber and yoghurt mixture and can be served as an accompanying salad or as a sauce to serve with grilled fish or meat.  Greek yoghurt is often made with sheep’s milk and is wonderfully thick and creamy.


1 crisp Irish cucumber, peeled and diced into 1/4-1/2 inch (1/2 – 1cm) dice approx.

salt and freshly ground pepper

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 heaped tablespoon of freshly chopped mint

3/4 pint (450ml) Greek yoghurt or best quality natural yoghurt

4 tablespoons cream


Put the cucumber dice into a sieve and sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for about 30 minutes.  Dry the cucumber on kitchen paper, put into a bowl and mix with garlic, a dash of wine vinegar or lemon juice and the yoghurt and cream.  Stir in the mint and taste, it may need a little salt and freshly ground pepper, or even a pinch of sugar.


Roast Wild Salmon with Vietnamese Cucumbers


We’ve been so fortunate to get a few beautiful wild salmon from the Blackwater River, hurry the season is almost over.


Serves 6


a side of organic salmon (1.8kg/4lbs approximately)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil


To Serve

mint, coriander and basil sprigs

lime wedges

Vietnamese Cucumbers (see recipe)


Bring the salmon to room temperature.


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


Put the fish on a baking sheet, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the salmon and rub it into the flesh.


Bake in the preheated oven for 5-8 minutes, just until juices appear on the surface.  When probed with a fork at the thickest part, the salmon should be moist – cooked through, but barley.  Transfer the fish to a warmed platter, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.


To Serve

Arrange the mint, coriander, basil sprigs and lemon wedges around the salmon.  At the table, break the salmon into rough portions.  Pass the cucumbers around so each individual can spoon over the fish.


Vietnamese Cucumbers


This is also great with pan grilled mackerel should be lucky enough to catch or be given a present of some lovely fresh fish.


Serves 8-10


4 large cucumbers

salt and freshly ground black pepper

fish sauce (Nam pla)

2.5cm (1 inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne

2 tablespoons palm sugar

Serrano or Jalapeno or fresh Thai chillies

2 or 3 limes

mint sprigs

basil sprigs

thinly sliced scallions or onion


Peel the cucumbers, cut them lengthwise in half, and remove the seeds with a spoon if they are large.  Slice the cucumbers into thickish half-moons and put them in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle lightly with fish sauce, then add the ginger and palm sugar.  Toss well, and let the cucumbers sit for 5 minutes or so.


Add a good spoonful of the chopped Serrano or Jalapeno chillies (seeds removed, if desired) or finely slivered Thai chillies.  Squeeze over the juice of 2 limes and toss again, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serving.


Just before serving add a fistful of roughly chopped mint and basil leaves.  Taste and adjust the seasoning with lime juice as well as salt and pepper.  Garnish with thinly sliced scallions cut at an angle.


Honey and Lavender Ice-Cream


Honey and lavender is a particularly delicious marriage of flavours. We make this richly scented ice cream when the lavender flowers are in bloom in early Summer.  Lavender is at its most aromatic just before the flowers burst open.  Serve it totally alone on chilled plates and savour every mouthful.


Serves 8-10


250ml (9floz) milk

450ml (16floz) cream

40 sprigs of fresh lavender or less of dried (use the blossom end only)

6 organic egg yolks

175ml (6floz/3/4 cup) pure Irish honey, we use our own apple blossom honey, although Provencal lavender honey would also be wonderful



sprigs of lavender


Put the milk and cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the lavender sprigs, bring slowly to the boil and leave to infuse for 15-20 minutes. This will both flavour and perfume the cream deliciously.  Whisk the egg yolks, add a little of the lavender flavoured liquid and then mix the two together.  Cook over a low heat until the mixture barely thickens and lightly coats the back of a spoon (careful it doesn’t curdle).  Melt the honey gently, just to liquefy, whisk into the custard.  Strain out lavender heads.


Chill thoroughly and freeze, preferably in an ice-cream maker.


Serve garnished with sprigs of fresh or frozen lavender.


Rustic Apricot Tart


Serves 6-8



8 ozs (225g) plain white flour

1 tablespoon castor sugar

4 ozs (110 g) butter, cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice

cold water or cream to mix



3-4 ozs (75-110g) sugar

1 tablespoon corn flour

1lb (450g) ripe apricots, stoned and cut into quarters


apricot glaze


caster sugar for sprinkling, about 1 tablespoon



1 x 9 inch (23cm) pie plate or tart tin.


First make the pastry, put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the cold butter.  When the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add just enough water or cream to bind.  Knead lightly to get the mixture to come together.  Cover with wax or silicone paper and rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.


Roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 14 inch (35cm) round approximately. Sprinkle a little cornflour over the base leaving a 2 inch border around the edge. Transfer to a 23cm (9 inch) greased plate or baking sheet.


Just before filling the tart.


Arrange the apricot quarters skin side down in concentric circles until the entire centre is covered. Sprinkle with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Fold the overhanging edge to cover the outer portion of the filling, leaving a 6 inch opening of exposed fruit in the centre of the tart.  Brush the pastry with cream, sprinkle with a little sugar.


Bake the tart in a preheated oven 220°C/427°F/Gas Mark 7 for 8-10 minutes, lower the temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and bake for 30 to35 minutes longer or until the edges of the apricots are slightly caramelized. While still warm brush with a little apricot glaze.  Serve warm or at room temperature with softly whipped cream.


Peaches in Moscato di Asti

Serves 6 – 8

In Italy fresh fruit is usually served after dinner in some form or another. A favourite ritual is to slice a perfect peach into your glass of white wine, leave it to macerate for a few minutes, eat the peach slices with your fingers and then drink the wine.

6 perfect ripe peaches

300ml (10fl oz/1/2 pint) sweet Italian Moscato di Asti.


Put the peaches into a deep bowl, pour boiling water over them, leave for 20-30 seconds, drain and drop into iced water.  Pull off the peel, cut into 3 inch (5mm) slices. Cover with the Moscato di Asti. Chill in the refrigerator and allow to macerate for an hour.

Alternatively slice a ripe peach into a wine glass, cover with chilled Moscato di Asti and enjoy.


Hot Tips


Janey Mac’s is housed in one of Kinsale’s beautiful Georgian buildings on Main Street. They serve really good coffee, homemade lemonade and delicious sausage and black pudding rolls. Cakes and biscuits are baked every day – they bake little and often to ensure freshness. In the early evening there is a tapas and wine menu –


The Stuffed Olive in Bantry has recently reopened in their new premises in Bridge Street. Favourites like Stuffed Olive brown soda bread, savoury scones, sausage rolls, just like they used to serve in the previous shop. Owner, Trish’s daughter Sarah Messom spent 6 weeks at the Akademie Deutsches Bäckerhandwerk in Weinheim in Germany learning all about German breads, sourdoughs and desserts. They aim to use ingredients with a West Cork focus. The meat is from butcher Paddy O’Donoghue’s farm, fresh eggs from John O’Connor, vegetables from Michael Moore, savoury scones made with Durrus and Gubbeen cheeses, honey and jams from local Bantry suppliers. Heavenly Cakes of Bandon and River Lane of Ballineen will also supply cakes… 02755883 –the


Guest Chef Antony Worrall Thompson will be back at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Monday 29th July 2013 to teach a one day cookery course. We love his food and fun way of teaching. 9:30am to 5:00pm – €265.00 – phone 021 4646785 or

Rooftop Farming and Backyard Chickens

In the US something very interesting is happening, it’s virtually a grass roots revolution. However, it’s not just in the US, in cities all over the world people seem to feel a deep need to produce food locally once again. It would seem to be an international phenomenon – an eerie almost primeval reaction as if deep down people sense that there may be a shortage of food before too long.

In fact, rooftop farming including backyard chickens and rooftop apiaries are now a major international urban trend. From Detroit to Tokyo, Rotterdam to Hong Kong, Montreal to Brooklyn, there are urban farming projects.

I first noticed the guerrilla garden movement on a visit to San Francisco about five years ago. Virtually every patch of waste ground or disused parking lot had been commandeered by eager gardeners who planted vegetables, herbs and salad leaves. Some shared their surplus with local shelters and sold the remainder from farm stands on the edge of the plot.

Since then I have visited numerous projects particularly in the US. From the Edible Schoolyard in Berkley and the City Slicker Community Farms in Oakland California, to a two acre farm in the centre of Austin, Texas. Some projects are one man bands, others community based.

Recently, I went to New York to check out the urban farming movement. For the first time I began to get idea of the sheer scale, there are over 700 urban farms and gardens across New York City alone.

Last year, I visited Brooklyn Grange a two acre rooftop farm on top of a five story building on Northern Boulevard, New York, established in May 2010.

On a recent trip, I looked at a couple of other models, a branch of Brooklyn Grange at the Navy Yard, 65,000 square feet of vegetable beds on the top of an eleven story building. This project provides a livelihood for four people, employment for a further ten people and 30 apprentices plus a refugee training program. They sell their fresh produce from a farm stand outside the building and also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and make lots of jams, pickles, hot sauces and herb teas from the surpluses and gluts from the farm.

Anastasia Cole Plakias showed me around and explained how nowadays there is growing support at government level for initiatives that are helping to change the food system plus deliver environmental benefits.

Hurricane Sandy really spooked New Yorkers particularly those in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, some of whom were without power and water for over a week. So any initiative that contributes to storm water management (a buzz word) is welcomed and generously supported. Anastasia explained that the Navy Yard got a generous SARE (Sustainable Agriculture, Research and Education) grant from Mayor Bloomberg and Department of the Environmental Protection who see it as more efficient to invest in green roofs and infrastructure which creates jobs and has several extra benefits. Roof top farms and green roofs not only utilise space that would otherwise be empty and unused but they absorb rain and storm water run-off that would eventually end up polluting the East River.

They also absorb heat during the day and release it into the atmosphere at night plus decrease the heating and cooling needs of a building.

The Nave Yard Project also links up with GrowNYC on a composting program. Local residents collect their organic waste which when composted enriches the fertility of the soil, which is the biggest challenge for rooftop farms.

The Edible Schoolyard started by Alice Waters in Berkeley in California now has a branch in Brooklyn which partners with schools to build gardens and kitchen classrooms where children can engage in hands-on learning. They aim to provide students with the knowledge and skills and environment required to healthier choices and change the way they eat for life.

Top chefs are also frantically growing their own produce and linking in with local projects but there is a whole other article in that of which more anon. Meanwhile, those of you who have been growing will be enjoying the fruits of your labours. Here are a few ways I have been enjoying the bounty of our gardens and greenhouse and hedgerows over the past few weeks.


Elderflower Champagne


This magical recipe transforms perfectly ordinary ingredients into a delicious sparkling drink. The children make it religiously every year and then share the bubbly with their friends.


2 heads of elderflowers

560g (11/4lb) sugar

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4.5L (8pints) water

1 lemon


Remove the peel from the lemon with a swivel top peeler.  Pick the elderflowers in full bloom.  Put into a bowl with the lemon peel, lemon juice, sugar, vinegar and cold water.  Leave for 24 hours, then strain into strong screw top bottles.  Lay them on their sides in a cool place.  After 2 weeks it should be sparkling and ready to drink.  Despite the sparkle this drink is non-alcoholic.

Top Tip:

The bottles need to be strong and well-sealed; otherwise the Elderflower champagne will pop its cork.

Radish, Broad Bean and Preserved Lemon Salad


This Ottolenghi inspired recipe makes a delicious little starter salad on its own or with some buffalo mozzarella and pitta bread as an accompaniment.


Serves 4


500g (1lb 2oz) shelled broad beans fresh or frozen

450g (16oz) large radishes

1/2 red onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

30g (1 1/4oz) preserved lemon, finely chopped (optional)

freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons plus zest of 1 lemon if preserved lemons are unavailable

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly ground roast cumin


salt and black pepper

2 fresh Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella (optional)


4 fresh pitta breads


First cook the broad beans in boiling salted water (one teaspoon salt to a pint of water.) Simmer for 1 – 2 minutes, depending on size. Drain through a large colander and refresh in plenty of cold water. Slip the beans out of their skins by gently squeezing each one with your fingertips.


Cut each radish into 4 to 6 wedges depending on size. Mix with the broad beans, onion, fresh coriander leaves, diced preserved lemon or lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, extra virgin olive oil and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Taste and correct seasoning.


Serve soon on its own or with some buffalo mozzarella and some pitta bread as an accompaniment.



Double Lamb Chops with Sumac, Broad Beans, Melted Cherry Tomatoes and Coriander Flowers


Great with a green salad and some freekah.


Serves 8


8 double lamb chops with cutlet bones attached

2-3 tablespoons sumac

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil


225g (8oz) Broad Beans (see recipes)

Melted Cherry Tomatoes (see recipe)



fresh coriander flowers if available

a pinch of sumac

extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 230°C/450ºF/Gas Mark 8,


Score the fat of the chops.  Sprinkle each one with sumac rubbing it well into the fat and flesh.  Season with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Transfer to a roasting tin.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Roast for 15 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to rest.


Meanwhile cook the broad beans (see recipe). Just before serving make the melted cherry tomatoes (see recipe).


To Serve

Pop a double lamb chop on each hot plate.  Spoon some warm cherry tomatoes around the edge.  Sprinkle with broad beans and coriander flowers if available.  Alternatively use some shredded mint leaves. Sprinkle with a pinch of sumac and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Broad Beans

Freshness is vitally important with broad beans, both flavour and texture change within hours of picking. A little summer savoury added to the cooking water enormously enhances the flavour.


Serves 6


675g (1 1/2lbs) young broad beans, out of the pods

2-3 sprigs of summer savoury (optional)

15g (1/2oz) butter

salt and freshly ground pepper


Bring 600ml (1 pint) of water to the boil in a medium saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt and the summer savoury if using. Add the broad beans, bring back to the boil and cook for 2 -5 minutes depending on size and freshness.  When cooked, taste and drain quickly tossing in a little melted butter and lots of freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.
Note: If the broad beans are larger cook as above then drain and refresh under the cold tap until cool enough to handle.  Pop each bean out of its shell then toss in hot melted butter or extra virgin olive oil. Season and serve immediately.



Melted Cherry Tomatoes with Mint


Serves 8 people


40 ripe red firm sweet cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or more of butter

3-4 tablespoons fresh mint

1-2 tablespoons freshly chopped rosemary

salt, pepper and sugar


Scald the tomatoes for 10 seconds and peel carefully. Just before serving, heat the butter until it bubbles in a frying pan large enough to take all the tomatoes in a single layer. Toss in the tomatoes and roll gently over a medium heat until just warmed through. Sprinkle with the herbs and salt, pepper and sugar. Turn into a hot vegetable dish and serve at once.


Note: Great care must be taken when cooking the tomatoes; otherwise they will disintegrate into a mush.


Green Gooseberry Tartlets


JR Ryall who is head pastry chef at Ballymaloe House recently showed us how to make these delicious green gooseberry tarts. His pastry recipe is also amazing but you could use puff pastry instead.


Makes 36 tartlets approximately


1 quantity cold cream pastry (see recipe)

450g (1lb) green gooseberries (topped and tailed)

caster sugar


Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5.


Using plenty of flour roll the cold pastry to a thickness of 2mm (1/8 inch). Cut the pastry with a 7.5cm (3 inch) round cutter and use the disks of pastry to line a standard flat based bun tray.


Cut the gooseberries in half and arrange 6-7 halves on each disk of pastry. Place a rounded teaspoon of caster sugar on top of the fruit in each tartlet. Bake the tartlets for 15-20 minutes or until the sugar begins to caramelise and the pastry is a golden brown colour. Remove the tartlets from the bun tray while still hot – use a palette knife for this – and place on parchment paper which has been sprinkled with caster sugar.


These tartlets are best served warm.



Open Apple Tartlets: Replace the gooseberries with thinly sliced eating apple.

Open Rhubarb Tartlets: Replace the gooseberries with thinly sliced pink rhubarb.


Cream Pastry


This pastry keeps in the fridge for up to 6 days.


110g (4oz) cold salted butter

110g (4oz) plain flour

150ml (5fl oz) cold cream
Sieve the flour into the bowl of an electric food mixer. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the flour using the paddle attachment until the mixture forms a coarse texture (slow speed and then a little faster).  (DO NOT over mix, if you do the mixture will form a shortbread like ball! Pour the cold cream into the coarse mixture and mix on a low speed until a smooth pastry forms. Wrap the pastry in parchment paper and chill overnight.

Always roll cream pastry straight from the fridge. If the pastry comes to room temperature it will be too soft to handle!



Rory O’Connell’s Strawberries with Lemon Basil


Serve these little flavour bombs at the end of a meal and watch the reaction – a gem of a recipe.


fresh strawberries

fresh lemon basil leaves


Just before serving, insert one lemon basil leaf carefully into the slit on the top side of a beautiful fresh strawberry.  Repeat with the others.  Serve immediately – a sensational combination of flavours.



Artisan Cider – In 2005, Daniel Emerson was busy in Marketing and Communications when his father-in-law a viticulturist from the Loire Valley gave him an apple press, he hasn’t looked back since! Daniel and his wife Géraldine produce Stonewell Cider in Nohoval, Kinsale with apples sourced from orchards in Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford. They use traditional handmade methods and only use fresh apple juice – no concentrate here – to make their cider, devotees can really taste the difference. Telephone: +353 (0)86 869 1148 – for stockists visit –

A Long Table Dinner at Ballymaloe Cookery School  – Tickets have just gone on sale for this year’s Long Table Dinner hosted by Darina Allen in the greenhouse in the midst of the tomatoes and scarlet runner beans on Tuesday, 30th July 2013 (it’s been a sell out for the past 2 years).  Rory O’Connell will create the menu – a celebration of the produce of the organic farm and gardens and local area with fish and shellfish from nearby Ballycotton. Dinner is €120 per person Advanced booking essential – proceeds go to East Cork Slow Food Educational Project. Telephone: (021) 4646 785/ 

Darina and Rachel Allen cook together at the Grainstore, Ballymaloe House. A sell out when they performed their magic earlier this year, Darina and Rachel return with their entertaining cookery demonstration on Thursday 25th July at 8:00pm Tickets €25.00 – to book phone 021 4652531 or

Everybody loves a good barbeque, learn how to make really delicious sauces and marinades and a whole range of unusual recipes which demonstrate the unexpected thrills of the charcoal grill, including chicken paillarde with tomato and basil salsa, butterflied leg of lamb with fresh spices, barbecued salmon with hoisin sauce, Indonesian chicken satay and souvalakia kebabs – Barbeque Course – Saturday 20th July 9:30am to 5:00pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School – phone 021 4646785 or to book.

Cronut Frenzy in New York

I can’t believe I’m queuing in the rain with another hundred plus people to buy a ‘cronut’ at Dominique Ansel bakery in Spring Street in New York. This cronut which has been sending New Yorkers into a frenzy is a hybrid of a deep-fried croissant and doughnut.

It is 7. 35am and its pelting rain. Beside me there is a Japanese lady from Boston and a chap from UBS who has just come off a night shift, the line now stretches all along Sullivan Street, and it’s made up of mostly young people, hipster types – “They’ll be onto something new next week – that’s New York for you, everyone’s looking out for the next big thing,” says the cool lycra clad girl in a baseball hat beside me. She ‘in wine’ and has run from the other side of Central Park but her work doesn’t start till 11.30.  At the edge of the side walk a white van from the Avon Foundation for Women, emblazoned with “God’s Love We Deliver” is collecting food parcels to deliver to the needy. The irony is not lost on us, here are we standing in line for extra calories we don’t need!

The sleepy guy beside me tells me he’s a student doing an MBA in business and he’s only doing this because he’s in the ‘dog house’ with his girlfriend, he’s hoping to get two cronuts as a surprise for her, I don’t like to ask why. Some people are playing on their phones others are swapping “how crazy am I” stories. Some enterprising dudes have been queuing in line since 6am to buy the allocated two ‘cronuts’ per person, then they plan to sell them for 20 dollars each to supplement their welfare, it’s mad.

Dominique Ansel has trademarked the cronut, the demand is insane and so the challenge of copying it and coming up with a new name is exercising bakers all over New York and beyond. There are already some knock offs called ‘doissants’ and ‘croughnuts.’

A TV camera has just passed along and there’s a second, they are wanting to try to understand what the heck all the fuss is about, obviously a grey haired lady stands out from all the cool young things so they want to know why I’m there, when they hear I come from Ireland they are even more incredulous and want to know what flavour I’m queuing for, I didn’t even know there were different flavours!
At 8am the line starts to move around the corner, the door of the bakery on Spring Street has obviously opened, and then it moves ever so slowly. It’s still pouring rain and everyone in the queue has bonded and are having convivial chats. It’s now 8.15am and we are around the corner on to Spring Street. By now, passers-by going to work are bemused as they survey the long line. It’s after 8:30am we’re up to the door, they let in about 15 people at a time and then we queue along the counter. There are lots of other options, little boxes of madeleine’s are cooked to order, burnished canelles are being turned out of their copper moulds, a woman baker is dipping long slim éclairs in coffee fondant icing, six or seven people are serving behind the counter and they haven’t taken a breath since 8am. At 9.20am the queue outside finishes but people are still coming in in dribs and drabs so the queue at the counter never ends, it’s now quarter to 11 and there are still people in line, and of course disappointed because the ‘cronuts’ have been sold out since just before 9am but there are still lots of other beautiful patisserie to choose from.

I’ve been sitting at a little table by the window watching the action for several hours now; I ate my precious ‘cronut’ with a cup of coffee, it turned out to be a deep fried doughnut shaped ring tender yet light and crunchy, with a circle of lemon maple icing. It was definitely good but certainly on the sweet side, the DKA (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) is also delicious.

When I met Dominique he was so kind and gracious despite the queue of food writers and TV crews wanting a piece of him. The baker who has suddenly found himself the hottest thing on the Big Apple food scene seems shy and slightly shell shocked by all the attention. When he was 18 he landed a job at Fauchon in Paris, where he spent eight years and then went on to open all the bakeries for Fauchon around the world.

He caught the attention of Daniel Boulud who invited him to New York. While he was pastry chef at Daniel they were awarded three Michelin stars and four stars in the New York Times.

Just a year and half ago he started his own bakery on a small budget, in a tiny premises on Spring Street, and even painted the walls himself. When I enquired how the cronut came about, it was almost accidental – apparently he had been experimenting with various versions and when they got an A from their Health Inspector, he made this confection and celebrated with his staff. They loved it and thought it should be the new fun summer item. Someone posted a photo online, and it had 140,000 ‘likes’ within 24 hours – whoaaa!

It’s all happening for Dominique Ansel at present, he was recently presented with a James Beard award, well deserved.


Zucchini with Capers, Crumbled Pecorino, Toasted Almonds and Mint


Serves 4


young zucchini, 2 green and 2 gold 2 x 2 (if available) slice one type lengthwise 5mm (1/4 inch) thick and the other into rounds of a similar thickness

35 – 50g (1 1/2 – 2oz) crumbled Pecorino

1 dessertspoon of tiny capers

1 tablespoon almonds, unpeeled, sliced lengthwise and toasted

fresh mint sprigs

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Slice the zucchini lengthwise and into rounds. Put into a wide bowl, add a few tiny capers, some fresh mint sprigs and crumbled Pecorino.  Whisk the extra virgin olive oil with the freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle over the salad, toss and taste, correct seasoning and serve.


Razor Clams with Pickled Cucumber and Mustard Seeds


Serves 6


18 razor clams or less if they are very large


Cucumber and Mustard Seed Pickle (see recipe)


chervil sprigs or micro greens and wild garlic flowers



Cucumber and Mustard Seed Pickle


For this recipe I like to dice the cucumber very fine and put it into the pickle.


Serves 18


3 1/2 lbs (1.6kg) cucumbers, thinly sliced

1lb (450g) onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon salt



10oz (285g) sugar

1 1/2 oz (45g) mustard seed

1 teaspoon turmeric

a pinch mace

1 pint (600ml) white wine vinegar


First make the pickle.


Put the thinly sliced onion and the cucumbers into a bowl, add the salt, and mix well.  Put all the ingredients for the pickle into a saucepan.  Bring to the boil for 2 minutes.  Pour over the cucumbers and onions.  Stir well, allow to get cold.  Fill into sterilized jars.  Cover and seal.


Heat the grill pan. Wash the razor clams, put onto the hot grill cook for 3 – 4 minutes, depending on size, as soon as they open and change from transparent to opaque – remove and cool.  Fill a small pasta bowl with crushed ice – lay 3 razor clam shells on top, slice the razor clams into thin slices across the grain. Toss in some of the pickle juice.


Fill onto each shell with a little pickle on top and some tiny micro greens or sprigs of chervil and wild garlic flowers.


Franny’s Fava Beans and Pecorino


This is a classic take on the Ligurian salsa maro, which is made of crushed fava beans, mint, Pecorino and a little bit of garlic and a squeeze of lemon to brighten to the whole thing up. A mortar and pestle works beautifully here – you get a nice variation of texture, with some bigger pieces and smaller bits as well.


Serves 4


1 fat garlic clove, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon of pure salt, plus a large pinch

900g (2lb) peeled fava beans (see Andrew’s note below)

12 mint leaves, torn

4 teaspoons coarsely grated Pecorino Romano

2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

freshly cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

8 x 1cm (½ inch) thick slices Italian long bread


In a mortar, combine the garlic and a pinch of salt and pound together briefly with the pestle to break up the garlic. Add the fava beans and mint and pound until the mixture has a spreadable consistency. Stir in the Pecorino Romano and olive oil. Season with the ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste and the lemon juice.


Preheat the grill. Drizzle one side of the break slices with olive oil. Toast, oiled side up, until golden and crisp, 1 – 2 minutes. Spread the hot toasts with the fava mixture. Drizzle with more olive oil and serve.


Top tip:  If you want to use the food processor for this, go ahead but be careful to pulse the favas to get different sizes.


Andrew’s Note: To prepare fava beans, shell about 1 pound of them in the pod. Cook in 1.8l (3 pints) boiling water seasoned with ¼ cup kosher salt until tender, 1 – 2 minutes, depending on size. Drain and immediately plunge the favas into 850ml (1½ pints 2floz) of ice water seasoned with 2 tablespoons salt. Drain the beans; they should now slip easily from their skins.


Franny’s Melon in Lovage Syrup


Lovage is one of our favourite herbs. It’s fresh and a little grassy, but with a pronounced sweetness. Fleshy, fragrant melons at the peak of their season need very little help – it’s hard to improve upon their ambrosial qualities. But a dash of lovage syrup does just that, adding a layer on wild celery flavour. If you can find them, buy an assortment of different melons and let them ripen on the counter until they are intensely aromatic. Sliced, tossed with the syrup and chilled, then arranged on a platter, they make a gorgeous, unusual dessert that comes together in minutes.


Serves 4


About 445g (1 ¼lb) ripe summer melon (preferably a mix of varieties and colours) rind removed, seeded and sliced ¼ inch thick.

225ml (8floz) lovage syrup (see recipe)

2 tablespoons thinly sliced mint leaves

In a large bowl, toss the melon with the lovage syrup. Marinate, refrigerated for at least 3 hours, and up to 36 hours.

Toss the marinated melon with the mint leaves. Divide among four plates and serve immediately.


Franny’s Lovage Syrup


Makes 300ml (10fl oz)


225ml (8fl oz) sugar

225ml (8fl oz) water

25g (1oz) lovage leaves


In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Turn off the heat, add the lovage leaves, and allow to infuse for 3 hours.

Strain the syrup; discard the lovage.  Store in the fridge, in a tightly sealed jar, for up to 3 months.



Budding bakers everywhere are invited to submit entries for the Come Home for your Cake competition on Sunday 7th July at the Kinsale Arts Festival. The cakes will be judged by Darina and Rachel Allen. Join them both for afternoon tea at The Mill at 4pm. Email with the subject ‘Cake’ to register your interest. Visit for competition criteria.


Cookery Book of the Week

Franny’s in Brooklyn, New York is one of my favourite restaurants in the world, delicious food so beautiful in its simplicity, incredible pizzas, pasta, nothing eccentric or exotic here just lovely spanking fresh ingredients carefully and thoughtfully cooked and now at last there’s the book, Franny’s – Simple Seasonal – Italian was recently published by Artisan Books by Andrew Feinberg, Francine Stephens and Melissa Clark


The four day Carlingford Oyster Festival is on 8th to 11th August in
Carlingford, County Louth –


Date for your diary

The Irish Craft Beer Festival returns to RDS, Dublin from 7-9th September 2012. A celebration of Irish craft brewing, live music and artisan food stalls.



In Search of the Next Big Thing – New York

I’ve just spent a few days in New York on a reconnaissance trip to check out what’s happening on the food scene over there. As ever the answer is a lot. New Yorkers are always in search of the next big thing and the newest cult ingredient. Really big trends don’t emerge that often but one of the strongest I’ve seen in years is chefs embracing cooking over fire, or as they say over there ‘live fire’. It seems to be part of this enduring interest in hunter gatherer stuff and wild and foraged foods, not only on restaurant menus, but also at home, on the tables of the keen young food people.

Stalls at the Union Square Farmers Market are offering an ever expanding range of greens and wild foods, lots of nettles, garlic scapes, orache, lamb’s quarters, chickweed, miners lettuce, purslane… There was also a Finnish bread stall and an Ethiopian stall that sold a beautiful fermented flat bread called injera made from teff flour, which is also gluten free. The demand for ‘free from’ food continues to grow exponentially.

Do you have any food allergies? – is a standard question in all restaurants nowadays.

Many chefs have started herb and vegetable gardens, could be just a few boxes on a balcony or in a backyard or on window sills or just outside the restaurant on the pavements, like at the Spotted Pig, where there’s an eclectic collection of herbs and flowers and even a peach tree and some raspberries. Owner, chef April Bloomfield is still looking out for a farm upstate New York, I went out to West Chester and to Hudson and Catskills to see what is happening. The gentrification of the town and explosion of investment in land and farming is mind-blowing.

At Stone Barns, home of Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant, there are extensive gardens, greenhouses, orchards, free-range hens and chickens, pigs in the woods… They now have an educational centre with regular school visits and corporate on-farm events. I loved the idea of a Tisane garden with a collection of aromatic herbs just to make fresh herb teas.

In New York the hottest thing was a cronut, a hybrid of a croissant and a doughnut with icing on top. It’s such a hot item that hundreds of people are prepared to stand in line for hours to buy them (check out next week’s column to read what all the fuss is about)

Several bakeries were also doing a sweet buttery pastry with croissant dough based on the kouign amann a Brittany speciality. Irresistible, flaky Morning Glory buns are also being snapped up, they were originally made at Tartine in San Francisco to use up the end of the croissant dough.

There are tons of good restaurants. I had a delicious meal at I Sodi on Christopher Street, a sister restaurant of Buvette, on Grove Street, which I love. One of the highlights was spaghetti cacio e pepe made with Garofalo pasta, lots of black pepper and pecorino, followed by dry aged strip steak with arugula and sea salt. All the best beef at the top restaurants seemed to be coming from Pat LaFrieda, a butcher and wholesaler who dry ages his Black Angus beef for 7 – 8 weeks and mixes the beef cuts for the signature burgers in different establishments, like at Minetta Tavern where I had a burger. They use LaFrieda’s freshly minced Black Angus beef which has been hung for 42 days. The popularity of burger is enduring and one can easily pay in excess of US$20 for a burger in New York.

April Bloomfield’s burger with shoestring fries at the Spotted Pig on 134 W 11th Street is certainly one of the most delicious, I also enjoyed her devilled eggs, chicken liver toasts and lemon ricotta pancake with candied almonds.

Brooklyn aka hipster central and Harlem is where all the creative young people are setting up at present. Cafés, restaurants, coffee shops, butchers, kitchen shops, rooftop gardens and plus its home to Heritage Radio.

Smorgasburg is a Saturday food market of young start-ups on the DUMBO waterfront by the Tobacco Warehouse beside Brooklyn Bridge Park. This is not to be missed. The variety of foods made by these young entrepreneurs is nothing short of awesome, 75 stalls and delicious to a man.

Pickles and hot sauces are still huge. The legendary Mast chocolate is on 111 N 3rd Street, they start by conching the cocoa beans and then make chocolate bars that are truly memorable.

V for Vegan is all over menus as is tartare of beef, salmon and tuna. There is a particularly delicious version at Rizzoli in Mulberry Street. Uncle Boons on Spring Street owned by Per Se veterans Matt Danzer and Ann Redding is turning out authentic tasting Thai food that has New Yorkers in a frenzy at present.

Heritage beans, heirloom grains and chillies are popping up all over the place. I particularly remember delicious white bean puree at Romans in Brooklyn, another name to add to your New York list.

Here are some of the recipes that people queue around the corner for at the Spotted Pig in New York.


April Bloomfield’s Devilled Eggs


Devilled eggs, so 1980s, are having a real revival. Here is a recipe for the ones I enjoyed at the Spotted Pig, (taken from April’s book ‘A Girl and her Pig’ published by Canongate Books )

“I like my devilled eggs cold, cold, cold. They’re so refreshing that way. The key to the recipe is chilling the whites as well as the yolk mixture and making your own mayonnaise, which is much easier than you might think.”


makes 12 devilled eggs

6 large eggs, at room temperature

3 tablespoons homemade Mayonnaise, slightly chilled

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon crème fráiche

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Maldon or another flaky sea salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped chervil

Cayenne or paprika

Extra virgin olive oil (optional) for drizzling


Fill a medium pot at least halfway with water and bring to the boil over high heat.

Use a slotted spoon to gently put the eggs in the water, and cook them for 10 minutes (set a timer). Drain the eggs and put them in a big bowl of ice water until they’re fully cool. Lightly tap each egg against the counter to crack the shell all over, then peel them and pat them dry. Halve them lengthwise with a sharp knife. Press the yolks through a sieve into a small food processor. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar, crème fráiche, and mustard and process until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Have a taste and season with salt. For really pretty eggs, feed the mix into an icing bag (alternatively, you can jerry-rig one with a large resealable plastic bag; snip off a corner before piping). Pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes. Put the egg whites on a plate, cover with Clingfilm, and put them in the fridge as well. Pat the whites dry with a tea towel and pipe an equal amount of the yolk mixture into each white. Top each one off with a sprinkle of the chives and chervil and a dusting of cayenne or paprika. If you like, add a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and serve.


April Bloomfield’s Chopped Chicken Liver on Toast


“A staple at the Spotted Pig, this creamy, still slightly chunky mash of lovely, iron-y livers on toast makes a fine snack, but it’s substantial enough to hold you over while you wait for a friend or a table.  Just the thing, too, with a glass of wine. The liver mixture is a touch sweet from the port and the browned garlic and shallots, with a whisper of acidity from the Madeira. Best of all, it takes just a moment to make. Be sure you get a nice colour on the livers when you cook them. (I like them slightly pink on the inside for this dish; anyone who doesn’t can cook them a bit longer.) Be sure to take in the aroma as they cook – toasty browning liver is one of my favourite smells.”

makes 4 toasts

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

40g (1 ½ oz) finely chopped shallots

1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons dry Madeira

2 tablespoons ruby port

225g (8oz) chicken livers, trimmed and separated into lobes

Maldon or another flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

A small handful of small, delicate flat-leaf parsley sprigs

4 thick slices crusty bread, or 2 large slices, cut in half

Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large sauté pan and set it over high heat.

When it’s hot, turn the heat down to medium and add the shallots and garlic. Cook until they’re golden brown, about a minute. Add the Madeira and port to the pan and give it a good shake, then scrape the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Rinse the pan and wipe it out well with kitchen paper, then set it over high heat and add one tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil just begins to smoke, pat the livers dry and add them to the pan. Cook until the undersides are golden brown, 1½ minutes or so. Carefully turn them over and sprinkle on about 1 teaspoon salt, then give the pan a little shake. Cook the livers just until they feel bouncy, like little balloons, about 30 seconds more. You want them slightly pink inside, not rare. Turn off the heat and add the shallot mixture, liquid and all, to the pan.


Randal’s Buttermilk Ice Cream


Serves 6 – 8

1 pint (16floz) of double cream
225g (8oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
three inch strip of lemon peel
1/2 a vanilla bean split
8 free range egg yolks
1 pint (16floz) of buttermilk

In a high sided saucepan combine the double cream and 175g (6oz) of sugar, salt, lemon peel, and vanilla bean steep over low heat until sugar is dissolved.

In bowl of a standing mixer beat egg yolks and remaining (50g) 2oz of sugar.
Very slowly combine the two; by slowly adding the hot cream into the eggs whisking constantly taking care to not curdle the egg yolks.
Once the two are combined return to the saucepan and simmer over low heat until  thick.
Strain the mixture and beat in the buttermilk. Chill completely and then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.


Hot Tips


Learn how to propagate fruit trees on Saturday 20th July 1pm to 4pm at Irish Seed Savers in Scarriff, Co Clare. Participants will learn how to bud their own trees and take them home. After-care and maintenance of budded trees will also be covered. Phone 061921866 –


Home Preserving – Traditional and Modern Methods at The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co Leitrim with Hans Wieland on 6th July 2013 – €75.00. Learn about how to store and preserve the abundance of summer produce. Hans will demonstrate traditional and modern methods of storing, drying, lactic acid fermentation, sterilising and freezing. There will also be hands on session on sauerkraut making, pickling and preserving fruit without sugar.


Ever wanted to learn the hidden secrets of a professional kitchen? Well now is your chance, J P McMahon owner of Aniar, the Michelin starred restaurant in Galway – with a mission to support local food producers and foragers – is running a series of six week courses Understanding Food – the next one starts on 12th August, 2013. There are also one day workshops on such topics as ‘The Whole Loaf’, ‘The Whole Hog’ ‘The Whole Lamb’ ‘The Whole Fish’…see


Honor Moore

When I heard of Honor Moore’s recent passing I was deeply saddened. Somehow one felt that this doyenne of Irish food writers would always be with us. I didn’t know Honor very well but remember her support, when I started the Ballymaloe Cookery School and her encyclopaedic knowledge of traditional Irish food. I particularly remember a long conversation about boxty when I was doing research for my traditional food book.

Honor started to cook in an evacuee camp in the North of Ireland in the early 1940s under a chef from Gibraltar who by all accounts didn’t think much of her ability, apparently he advised her to give up all thoughts of being a chef and fortunately she didn’t heed him.

Soon after she started to write articles on food for the Belfast Newsletter under the nom de plume ‘Housekeeper’ and continued until 1968. She went on to write a weekly column in the RTE Guide for many years and also developed a loyal following as food editor of Woman’s Way magazine. She also did an occasional piece for the Farmer’s Journal and then started to work on a book about her life called A Cooks Tale.

Honor had many hats. When her husband Sam died suddenly in 1965, she had to take over the running of his PR (Public Relations) business. She knew nothing about PR but, through necessity, learned in double quick time. Within days, she was representing the interests of Marathon Oil, Irish Base Metals including the Tynagh Mine, Tara Exploration; The Irish Shoe Federation and many more.

Honor also made several appearances on TV with both Tom Doorley and on the Late Late Show.

As one of the founding members of the Irish Food Writers Guild she was highly respected by her journalistic colleagues. The Guild chose her as their President and she was re-elected every year since then, unopposed. In 2005, Eurotoques, the European Community of Chefs presented her with a special lifetime achievement award.

Throughout her 90 years she brought Irish people along with her as she introduced new ingredients and ideas and was always warm and supportive to young chefs, cooks restaurateurs and food producers.

Honor will be sadly missed and warmly remembered by all of us who knew her.


Honor Moore’s Smoked Fish Chowder with Carrageen


Serves 4


450g (1lb) smoked fish, cut in cubes

15g (3/4oz) butter

1 onion, chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced

600ml (1 pint) fish stock or water

300ml (10 floz) milk

good pinch carrageen

freshly ground black pepper


Garnish: Dried dillisk.


Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, potatoes, and leeks, cook over a low heat, stirring, well until softened. Add the stock and milk. Simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Season to taste; add the fish and the carrageen. Simmer gently for 7 to 10 minutes more, to cook the fish. Serve with toasted rolls.



Honor Moore’s Fougasse


Makes 2 loaves


500g (18oz) strong white flour

3 tsp dried yeast

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

sea salt

extra flour for kneading.


Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Dissolve the yeast in warm (not hot) water. Pour the mixture into the flour and add the olive oil using a wooden spoon.   Begin mixing in the lukewarm water and continue until the mixture forms a loose dough.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.   Add the salt and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.   Return the dough to the clean bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface.   Knead for a minute or two and divide in two and flatten them into two large ovals.   Transfer to a large baking sheet and using a pair of lightly floured scissors cut diagonal slashes right through the dough.   Using your fingers open up the slashes until they At least 2 ½ cm wide. Transfer to a baking sheet.   And Put the baking sheet into a warm place and leave to prove for 30 minutes.  Either drizzle little olive oil over the top and sprinkle with rock salt or scatter with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450ºF -230ºC – gas mark 8 for 15 to 20 minutes.  Wrap in a clean tea towel and serve.


Honor Moore’s Chocolate Orange Bread and Butter Pudding


Serves 6


Unsalted butter for greasing


10 thin slices of white bread, crusts removed

good quality chocolate spread

1 tsp grated orange rind




4 large eggs, beaten

3 tbsp golden caster sugar

3 tbsp cocoa

600ml (1 pint) whipping cream

300ml (10fl oz) sieved orange juice


To finish


1 tsp cocoa

1 tsp golden caster sugar

Grease a shallow ovenproof dish about 26cm by 18cm by 7cm.  Cut the bread into triangles and spread with butter and chocolate spread.   Arrange neatly in the prepared dish. To make the custard whisk the egg, cream cheese sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the white chocolate pieces and set aside.  Return to the dark chocolate mixture; whisk the caster sugar and eggs in another large bowl.   With the whisk still running, gently pour in the melted chocolate.   Carefully fold in the flour with a metal spoon. Pour half the dark chocolate mixture into the brownie tin, and then pour over the much runnier white mixture, dollop in the rest of the chocolate mix evenly over the top.  Using a wooden spoon handle lightly stir the contents of the tin, making large swirls


Bake for 35 minutes.   Cool and cut into squares.



Franny’s Pickled Ramps (Wild Garlic)


Makes 2 cups


450g (1lb) late season ramps (wild garlic) with well-developed bulbs

112mls (4fl oz) white wine vinegar

55ml (2fl oz) moscato vinegar or (see note)


Trim the hairy roots from the ramps. Separate the bulbs from the greens; reserve the greens for another use. Rinse the bulbs under warm running water and pat dry.

In a small saucepan, combine the vinegars, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the ramps, reduce the heat to low, and return the liquid to a simmer.

Let stand, stirring occasionally until cool.

Transfer the ramps and liquid to an airtight container; the pickles  will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Note: For a cheater’s moscato vinegar substitute, whisk together 112mls (4fl oz) apple cider vinegar, 2 ½ teaspoons honey and ¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar.


Hot Tips

Learn classic cooking techniques, over the years we’ve had many requests from busy people who want us to create a course to teach everything from basic knife skills,from  jointing a chicken to making the perfect salad dressing. During the two and half day course of three demonstrations and two hands on sessions, you will learn the essential skills that will make cooking easy and fun.  Classic Techniques – Wednesday, 24th to Friday 26th July 2013 Ballymaloe Cookery School – phone 021-4646785 to book a place.

Ross Golden-Bannon, busy editor of Food and Wine Magazine has been hatching up a fun new dining experience. He’s teamed up with chef Gareth Mullins of the Marker Hotel in Dublin to create a pop up restaurant in the Hibernian Club on St Stephen’s Green. The six course menu will celebrate the food of many fledgling artisan food producers, craft brewers and natural wine producers. The first dinner was yesterday, to catch the next one check out

Elderflowers are in full bloom along every lane and hedgerow in Ireland at present.  Pick them on a dry day and make elderflower syrups, cordials, granita and fritters. The season isn’t long, maybe another 2 or 3 weeks. Remember elderflowers grow on small trees and not by the road side and must not be confused with cow parsley or giant hog weed. You’ll find new seasons elderflower cordial at the Midleton farmers market very Saturday morning 9 – 2pm

Dates for your Diary

The 37th Kinsale Gourmet Festival tickets are now on sale with some events almost sold out already I’m told. The festival takes place in Kinsale 11 – 13 October – Tickets available for purchase from 021 4773571 and further information on

Kenmare, Co Kerry will hold its second annual Kenmare Food Carnival from 12th – 14th July 2013 – see

Bounty of the Good Earth

I’ve just been thanking the good Lord for the bounty of the earth; we’ve just had the first of the broad beans and new potatoes, such joy.  Several of the grandchildren helped to pick the beans, until we chased them away because they were eating more than they were picking. They love extracting them out of the long green pods, no two are the same but all are furry inside with a different number of beans in each one. They are sweet and juicy and the grandchildren are right, the French and Italians love them raw with just a little olive oil and sea salt and a little salty ricotta. Like asparagus and virtually every other vegetable the quicker you can get them into the kitchen and onto the table the more super delicious they will be.

The asparagus has been slow and late and sluggish this year, as has virtually everything else, all the farmers have had a challenging year and for some it has been terrifying as the stark reality of the effects of climate change on our crops really hits home. The reality that we may have to perhaps drastically change what can be grown in this country is now a distinct possibility as we grapple with the fact that these weather patterns may now be the norm rather than the exception.

It has certainly made many of us more aware of how much we depend on Mother Nature. Food is not something that just appears on supermarket shelves, someone has to grow, care for and harvest it. Animals need to fed and looked after 24/7 and with the relentless pressure to deliver cheap food to the consumer at any cost, those who produce it are rarely paid a fair price for their efforts.

Waste is still a huge problem at many stages in the food chain. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to grow even a few radishes or spring onions for ourselves, know the effort that goes into it and won’t waste a scrap.

Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School the students have the option to see our five Jersey cows being milked and to learn the skill. For many, it comes as a shock to realize that cows have to be milked twice a day every day, over weekends, bank holidays, Christmas day…

Blessed are the farmers, the fishermen, the cheese makers and all those who produce food that nourishes us. It’s time to sit down around the kitchen table once again and to give thanks and celebrate the new seasons produce and to make a wish that we’ll be as well this time next year (and not waste a scrap!)


Asparagus and Marjoram Frittata


Serves 6


8 eggs, preferably free-range (increase the eggs if your pan is bigger)

225g (8oz) thin asparagus

1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper

55g (2oz) Parmesan, Parmigano Reggiano, freshly grated


25g (1oz) Parmesan and 25g (1oz) Gruyere

2-3 tablespoons chopped marjoram

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


non stick frying pan – 7½ inch (19cm) bottom, 9 inch (23cm) top rim


Preheat the oven to 160˚C/320˚F/mark 3. Bring about 1 inch of water to the boil in an oval casserole.  Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears for 2 or 3 minutes.  Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 1½ inches at the top intact. Save for later.

Whisk the eggs together into a bowl.  Add the sliced asparagus, most of the grated Parmesan and chopped marjoram, reserving a little for the end.  Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in the pan over a medium heat, add egg mixture, cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Then transfer to the oven and continue to cook until just set – about 12 minutes.  Arrange the asparagus over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.  Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element.  It should be set but not brown.  Serve immediately, cut into wedges and follow with a green salad.


Farro with Broadbeans, Peas, Asparagus and Rocket


Serves 4


250gms (9ozs) of cooked farro

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

freshly squeezed juice of one lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

60gms (2 1/2ozs) of cooked broad beans (blanched and refreshed)

60gms (2 1/2ozs) of cooked peas

a fist of rocket leaves

8 x asparagus spears – quickly blanched

8 cherry tomatoes, cut in half


Put the farro, rocket leaves, peas, broad beans, asparagus and tomato halves into a bowl – dress with olive oil and lemon. Season with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss together lightly with your fingers.


Serve quickly while the flavours are fresh!


New Potatoes Cooked in Seawater


Of course one can cook new potatoes in well salted water but if you happen to be by the seaside, collect some seawater it will add immeasurably to the flavour.


Serves 4-5


2 lbs (900g) new potatoes e.g., Home Guard, British Queens (the variety we grow is Colleen)

2 pints (1.2 litres) seawater or 2 pints (1.2 litres) tap water plus 1 teaspoon salt

a sprig of seaweed if available

Bring the seawater to the boil. Scrub the potatoes. Add salt if using tap water and a sprig of seaweed to the water, and then add the potatoes. Cover the saucepan, bring back to the boil and cook for 15-25 minutes or until fully cooked depending on size.

Drain and serve immediately in a hot serving dish with good Irish butter.



It’s vitally important for flavour to add salt to the water when cooking potatoes.


Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet


Blackcurrant leaves have tons of flavour, we also use them syrup for homemade lemonade.

We also use this recipe to make an elderflower sorbet – substitute 4 or 5 elderflower heads in full bloom.


2 large handfuls of young blackcurrant leaves

225g (8ozs) sugar

600ml (1 pint) cold water

juice of 3 lemons

1 egg white (optional)


Crush the blackcurrant leaves tightly in your hand, put into a stainless steel saucepan with the cold water and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the sugar, bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Allow to cool completely.  Add the juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons.*


Strain and freeze for 20-25 minutes in an ice-cream maker or sorbetiere.  Serve in chilled glasses or chilled white china bowls or on pretty plates lined with fresh blackcurrant leaves.


Note: If you do not have a sorbetiere, simply freeze the sorbet in a dish in the freezer, when it is semi-frozen, whisk until smooth and return to the freezer again.  Whisk again when almost frozen and fold in one stiffly beaten egg white.  Keep in the freezer until needed.


If you have access to a food processor.  Freeze the sorbet completely in a tray, then break up and whizz for a few seconds in the processor, add 1 slightly beaten egg white, whizz and freeze again.  Serve.


Hot Tips

Newly re-opened Carewswood Garden Centre in Ladysbridge, East Cork has a terrific selection of scented geranium plants including pelargonium graveolens that we use to flavour syrups, sorbets and compotes. All are edible and each has its own individual taste. I was also tempted by their standard olive trees and a couple of kumquat plants and there is also a cute little café with enticing homemade cakes and scones – phone 021-2428494.

In just a few years Sushi has become a universal favourite. It gets the ‘thumbs up’ from cardiologists and nutritionists – not least because it is based mainly on fresh fish, seaweed, vegetables and rice, but it is also low in fat and high in minerals.

Sushi tastes great it’s healthy, nutritious and quick to prepare and great fun for home entertaining. Join the half-day course with Shermin Mustafa and Darina Allen on Wednesday 3rd July, 2013 at Ballymaloe Cookery School and you will learn how to make seven different types of sushi and can have optional hands-on practice plus the opportunity to taste all the sushi prepared during the course. Price: €125.00 – 021 4646785 to book.

Julian Castagna, of Castagna Wines, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia, will give a wine talk and wine tasting, in The Carrigaun Room of The GrainStore, at Ballymaloe House on Friday 21st June, at 7pm €10.00 – 021 4652531 or

Travel Classics International Writers Conference 2013

The Travel Classics International Writers conference has been held in Ireland several times over the past 19 years. Kenmare, Galway, Belfast, Dublin and this year it was held at Ballymaloe House and surrounding area. The delegates included some of the most prestigious food and travel editors and writers in the world. The weather was good, the country side looked beautiful and they really enjoyed the fresh food from the farm, gardens, local fishermen and artisan producers. They loved the freshly baked soda and brown yeast bread and the dark bitter marmalade and the lamb from Frank Murphy in Midleton and they loved the asparagus from the garden and Tim York in West Cork.   They couldn’t get enough of the rhubarb with the thick Jersey cream, slathered with unctuous yoghurt, the Irish butter, the farmhouse cheese, homemade praline ice cream…The simpler the food the more they liked it. At one lunch at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we served them a Good Food Ireland plate with accompaniments to give them a taste of the artisan producers and they were mightily impressed.

The plate included thinly sliced Ummera Smoked duck from Anthony Cresswell in Timoleague, West Cork, a little wedge of Jane Murphy’s Ardsallagh goat’s cheese from Carrigtwohill near Cork. Fifth generation family butchers Jack McCarthy, from Kanturk provided Guinness and cider spiced beef. They also loved Pat Mulcahy’s wild boar and venison salami from Ballinwillin House and Farm near Mitchelstown in Co Cork. Both Jane Murphy and Pat Mulcahy joined the writers for lunch and told their story. Wild boar had been extinct in Ireland since the 1600s until Pat reintroduced them onto his farm in 1990s. We also had air dried lamb from the innovative Oughterard butcher James McGeough.

Nora Egan also came all the way from Inch Country House in Co Tipperary; we served her old fashioned blood pudding with grainy mustard apple and cream.

Toonsbridge Mozzarella also held pride of place on the Good Food Ireland plate. We added some accompaniments, a devilled organic egg from our own free-range hens, and a beetroot relish from Janet Drew’s range from Co Wicklow.  We added a blob of our homemade mayonnaise and some horseradish sauce and cucumber pickle to compliment the spiced beef. We piled the table in the centre of the dining room with fresh produce from the garden. New seasons carrots, radishes, spring onions, and a great big bowl of fresh salad leaves. There were lots of freshly baked yeast, soda and sough dough breads with freshly churned Jersey butter, the writers and editors loved it, then there was rhubarb tart made from my mother’s recipe, served with softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar. No bells or whistles, just simple food, a real taste of Ireland and they couldn’t get enough of it – reminded me once again that visitors to Ireland are craving real food – we have it in spades, let’s have the confidence to leave it alone and serve it proudly.


Inch Black Pudding with Grainy Mustard and Sweet Apple Sauce

Serves 12 for canapés, 4-6 as a starter

Butter or extra virgin olive oil

6 slices best quality black pudding approx. 1cm (1/2 inch) thick and 6 slices of white pudding


Sweet Apple Sauce:

1 lb (450g) golden delicious or Cox’s orange pippins

1-2 dessertspoon water

2 ozs (55g) sugar, depending on how tart the apples are


Grainy Mustard Sauce: 

8 fl. oz (250ml) cream

2 tsp smooth mustard

2 tsp grainy mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Flat parsley or watercress


Make the apple sauce – Peel, quarter and core the apples. Cut the pieces into two and put in a stainless steel or cast iron saucepan with sugar and water. Cover and put over a low heat. As soon as the apple has broken down, beat into a puree, stir and taste for sweetness.

Make the mustard sauce – Put the cream and both mustards in a small pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally.  Taste and season if necessary.

Melt a very little butter in a frying pan and fry the pudding on both sides on a medium heat until cooked through. Remove the skin from the pudding.

Make a bed of apple sauce on the serving plate or plates.  Lay the pieces of hot pudding on top of the apple.  Spoon a little Mustard Sauce carefully over the top.

Garnish with flat parsley and serve immediately or pile it on top of a white soda bread scone.

A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats


One of my favourite easy entertaining tricks is to serve a selection of Irish artisan charcuterie from inspired producers like Fingal Ferguson from Gubbeen, West Cork and James McGeough from Oughterard, Co. Galway.  The quality is so wonderful that I’m always bursting with pride as I serve it.


A selection of cured meats:


smoked duck

air dried smoked Connemara lamb

smoked venison

wild boar and Venison Salami

spiced beef

West Cork chorizo


a selection of:

crusty country breads, sour dough, yeast and soda

tiny gherkins or cornichons

fresh radishes, just trimmed but with some green leaf attached

a good green salad of garden lettuce and salad leaves


Arrange the cured meats and salami on a large platter, Serve complementary accompaniments, eg. Horseradish, sauce, cucumber pickle, beetroot relish, homemade mayonnaise… Open a good bottle of red and tuck in!



Ardsallagh Goat Cheese Pots with Hot Beets and Croutes


Serves 1


Allow 60g (2 1/4oz) Ardsallagh goats cheese for each pot


scant 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

cooked beetroot (1-2 small beets per person) (see recipe)


Baguette Croutes (see recipe)

Extra virgin olive oil


1 x 75ml (3fl oz) ramekins


First cook the beetroot (see note below), when the skins will rub off easily and the beets are soft, cut into quarters – allow 6-8 quarters per person.


Mix the soft cheese with a spoonful of cream, some fresh thyme leaves.  Season with Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F.


Pop into the preheated oven and cook for 6 minutes or until hot and bubbly.


Meanwhile, cut the peeled hot beets into quarters, toss in extra virgin olive oil (if cold reheat in a saucepan or in the oven).


Serve a little pot of melted goat cheese with a bowl of beets and 3 or 4 baguette croutes (see recipe).


How to cook Beetroot


Leave 2 inch (5cm) of leaf stalks on top and the whole root on the beet. Hold it under a running tap and wash off the mud with the palms of your hands, so that you don’t damage the skin; otherwise the beetroot will bleed during cooking. Cover with cold water and add a little salt and sugar. Cover the pot, bring to the boil and simmer on top, or in an oven, for 1-2 hours depending on size. Beetroot are usually cooked if the skin rubs off easily and if they dent when pressed with a finger.  If in doubt test with a skewer or the tip of a knife.


Baguette or Focaccia Croutes


Serve with salads, soups, snacks or pates.


1 stalish baguette or focaccia


Cut 4 slices of very thin bread at an angle.  Bake in a low oven 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2 for 15-20 minutes or until crisp on both sides.  Store in an airtight box.


N.B. Fan oven at 20°C less is even better.


Mummy’s Rhubarb Pie


The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from ‘hot hands’ don’t have to worry about rubbing in the butter.


Serves 8-12



8 ozs (225g) butter

2 ozs (50g) castor sugar

2 eggs, preferably free range

12 ozs (300g) white flour, preferably unbleached



2lbs (900g) sliced red rhubarb (about 1/2 inch thick)

13 ozs (370g) -14ozs (400g) sugar.

2-3 cloves

egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk

castor sugar for sprinkling


To Serve

softly whipped cream

Barbados sugar


tin, 7 inches (18cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) deep


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


First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.


To make the tart

Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Place the sliced rhubarb into the tart, sprinkle with sugar and add the cloves. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and Barbados sugar.




Cooking for Baby – Natural and Wholesome Recipes Part 2, Friday 21st June, 2013 Ballymaloe Cookery School 2 – 5 pm. This invaluable half-day course covers everything to feed your baby – choosing the ingredients, recipes, preparation tips, menus, storage, health and nutrition – the lot.  Not only will it save you a small fortune but also it will be infinitely better for your baby – phone 021 4646785 to book.


Dates for your Diary


Dunmore East Festival of Food, Fish and Fun 21 – 23 June, 2013 –  or phone  (051) 383164


The Westport Festival of Music and Food 29-30 June, 2013 –


List of suppliers on Good Food Ireland Producer Plates.


Jack McCarthy’s of Kanturk Artisan Butchers –


Ummera Smoked Products Timoleague –


Inch House Black Pudding –


Ardsallagh Goat Farm -


McGeough’s Artisan Butcher –


Toonsbridge Dairy –


Ballinwillin House and Farm –


Janet’s Country Fayre –



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