The Brother Hubbard Cookbook

Just last week one of the most keenly anticipated cookbooks of the year landed on my desk and it was certainly worth waiting for – it’s The Brother Hubbard Cookbook – however I have to declare a special interest in the author. Garrett Fitzgerald is a past student and he has an exciting story to tell.

In 2012, in the depths of the recession he and his partner James had a ‘rush of blood’ to the head and decided to open a little restaurant on Dublin’s Capel Street, literally on a ‘wing and a prayer’. Well the fledgling café called Brother Hubbard more or less took off from day one and is now much more with a team dedicated to bringing the best of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and baking to its evergrowing community of customers. Sister Sadie opened in September 2014 to start her own culinary journey.

The customers eagerly embraced the fresh, exciting new flavours of Garrett and his partner James’ interpretation of Middle Eastern and Southern Mediterranean food.
The adventure began several years earlier in the heady Celtic Tiger era, Garrett and James enjoyed their jobs but often found themselves, day-dreaming about doing something else. It takes mega courage to chuck in a secure job but on a bleak January morning in 2007 after a few sunny weeks in Argentina and a baking course which helped Garrett to recognise his real passion, they decided to take the plunge.

By then, having turned 30, they were acutely aware that ‘life isn’t a dress rehearsal’. An article in The Guardian about the psychology of regret really resonated.
It spelled out loud and clear, a fundamental message – “better to have a go even if it fails rather than live one’s life pondering, What if”…
It was a eureka moment. Within a few weeks Garrett had reserved a place on the Ballymaloe Cookery School Certificate course and together “myself and James jumped off the cliff, (so to speak), packed in our jobs and hit out for adventure.

After the full-on Ballymaloe Cookery School experience they headed off for two years to see the world. After a year of wandering like nomads around the markets and stalls all across India, Nepal and South East Asia, they arrived in Melbourne, famous for its casual dining and coffee scene. Garrett found himself working with two amazing women in two amazing small owner owned businesses, a café and a little artisan bakery. Both businesses were committed to quality, creativity and doing their best for their customers. What an important experience that turned out to be.

At the end of Garrett’s time in Melbourne, he had firmly made up his mind that Middle Eastern cuisine was the type of food he loved and felt particularly passionate, about vivid, fresh, vegetarian-friendly, healthy food.

Four months, to discover the authentic flavours and histories of the food in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Palestine followed then back to find a devastated Ireland quite different to the one they had left during the Celtic Tiger era. What to do?

They looked around, people were still eating out but certainly seeking a more value driven experience, altogether now more careful with the €5 notes than they had been with their €50’s a few years earlier – diners wanted casual, affordable, delicious fresh tasting eclectic healthy food. The rest is history.

Can’t imagine where Garrett and James found time to write a cookbook but I’m so glad he did because here at last we now find the recipes for the favourite food from the much loved Brother Hubbard restaurant, the dishes that they get asked for over and over again, like Turkish Eggs Menemen, Moroccan Harira Soup, Middle Eastern Slaw, Harissa baked aubergine with roasted cashews and apriocts and tons more.

The book is written in a style that will inspire even the most reluctant cook to have fun and create a dish you’ll be super proud of and want to share with family and friends.
Here are just a few to whet your appetite but you may find yourself buying several copies to give to friends for Christmas – not all that far away now…

Hot Tips

Urban Co-Op, Limerick
Limerick’s first co-operative community grocery store has moved to new premises at Tait House, Roxboro Road Limerick. The Urban Co-Op supports sustainable, cooperative and social business principles. The Co-Op proudly supports local producers and currently stocks a range of organic fruit, vegetables, breads and tasty treats…. or Tel: 061 314707

Date for the Diary
Free from Ireland Intolerances Allergies & Wellbeing in Dublin October 15th & 16th and in Cork November 5th & 6th. Family oriented event with information and advice for those suffering with intolerances and allergies. Seminars, cookery demonstrations, talks, advice……

‘Saturday Pizza Masterclass’

Imagine,the perfect pizza. Its base is made from a delicious sourdough with a thin bottom and a crunchy crust. Its topping is homemade tomato sauce, the freshest buffalo mozzarella and a few leaves of basil or perhaps wild mushrooms, chorizo and homemade goat’s cheese, shrimps from Ballycotton……
In this three-hour masterclass, Philip Dennhardt of Saturday Pizzas will take you through all the basics (choosing ingredients, making dough, getting the best results from your oven and so forth) before explaining how to create both traditional and contemporary pizzas. We’re talking everything from the classics (Margherita, Pepperoni and Calzone) to modern gourmet masterpieces – think shrimp with watercress and dill-mayo and homemade cottage cheese with mint, caramelized red onion and salsa verde!
As Philip will, in essence, be cooking pizzas for the duration of the class, there will be lots to sample

Date for your Diary
Wild and Slow, November 12th & 13th 2016. The 5th Wild and Slow at Brooklodge, Macreddin Village in Co. Wicklow promises to be action packed with walks, talks, foraging, hunting, wild food dinner…watch the website for full details.

Apple Day at Borough Market
If you are in London on the weekend of 23rd October, go along to Borough Market to celebrate the huge varieties of apple, take part in the apple peeling competition and try your hand at apple pressing.

Brother Hubbard’s Yogurt, Tahini, Honey and Nuts

Ingredients per person
3–4 heaped tablespoons thick Greek yogurt
½ banana per person, chopped (or equivalent of other fruit, such as apple or melon)
½ tablespoon tahini
½ tablespoon honey
small handful of nuts, toasted and chopped
½ handful pomegranate seeds (optional)
a few fresh mint leaves

Place generous spoonfuls of the yogurt into an individual wide-bottomed bowl and add the chopped banana. Drizzle the tahini over the yogurt in a circular motion. Follow by drizzling over the honey, loosely tracing the path of the tahini. To finish, scatter the chopped nuts over the dish, then the pomegranate
seeds, if using. Finally, tear some fresh mint over it and serve.

Turkish Eggs Menemen

A vibrant, beautiful dish, this is ideal as a brunch or supper.
Serves 2 hungry people

Tomato and Roast Red Pepper Sauce (see recipe)

4 eggs
50ml cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
4 slices of good bread
knob of butter, softened
2 small handfuls of baby spinach leaves
6–8 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (optional)

Onion Chilli Herb Mix
½ small or medium red onion
1 medium red chilli
20g fresh mint
20g fresh parsley
10g fresh dill or coriander

Feta Yoghurt
50g feta cheese
100g plain yogurt

First make the tomato and roast red pepper sauce, see recipe. Then remove the
sauce from the heat and set aside – it’s best added to the dish when it’s
quite warm but not boiling. While the sauce is simmering away, cut the red onion into the finest dice you can manage – ideally about the size of the head of a match! Cut the top off the chilli, remove the seeds with a teaspoon and then
dice the chilli very finely too, similar in size to the onion. Finely chop the stems of the herbs (except the mint), then give the leafy bits a medium chop. Mix the onion, chilli and herbs together and set aside.
Make the feta yogurt by crumbling the feta into the yogurt and adding
some black pepper (you don’t need salt because the feta is already
quite salty).
Now you’re ready for the final steps. Crack the eggs into a bowl with the
cream. Whisk well and add a little salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s good and hot, add a dash of olive oil. You should be warming your plates and toasting your bread at this point too. Pour in the eggs and let them sit for about 20 seconds before stirring to scramble them. This dish is to be cooked very quickly, so keep scrambling. When they are nearly fully cooked but the egg is still glistening, add the tomato and pepper sauce, mixing well, and scramble further for another 20–30 seconds.
To serve, spread the toast with some butter or a drizzle of olive oil and put on each warm plate with a small handful of baby spinach leaves on top. Divide the scrambled eggs between each plate. Top with a dessertspoon of the feta yogurt, scatter over the sliced olives, if using, and finish with a few spoons of the onion chilli herb mix.

Brother Hubbard’s Beef Koftas

As with a lot of our dishes, these are full of herbs and flavour – please don’t be shy with the fresh herbs, as they make such a meaningful difference. The sauce packs a welcome punch to make these a wonderful lunch, dinner or supper. This recipe bulks up incredibly well if cooking for a larger group. It will take a bit more effort to hand-roll more koftas, but honestly, it’s worth it. In fact, this is one of my go-to recipes for entertaining at larger gatherings.

Serves 4
750g lean minced beef (rib mince is good)
150g feta cheese, crumbled
50g fresh parsley, chopped
50g fresh mint, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed (2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons dried mint
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
Tomato and Roast Red Pepper Sauce
olive oil
2 red peppers, diced into 1cm cubes
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or chopped
50ml apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoon ground star anise or fennel seeds
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
150ml water
2 tablespoon tomato purée
pinch of caster sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To Serve

To make the sauce, heat a little oil in a medium-sized pot. Sweat the
red peppers, red onion and garlic together, covered, until softened for 10–15 minutes on a low-medium heat should do it. You want them to be well softened without falling apart too much. Next add the cider vinegar and the ground star anise or fennel seeds (if you can’t get ground star anise, use two whole ones) and simmer for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure the dish doesn’t dry out. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, tomato purée, sugar and seasoning. Reduce to a quite thick sauce, like pasta sauce, stirring regularly to
prevent it from sticking. When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, remove from the heat and taste, adjusting the sauce with sugar, vinegar or seasoning as you see fit – you want a really fragrant sauce that’s full of flavour. If you’ve used whole star anise, take them out at this stage. Put to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 6.
To make the koftas, put all the kofta ingredients in a large bowl, reserving a quarter of the feta and a quarter of each of the fresh herbs to use later (don’t add salt, as the feta will bring saltiness to it all). Mix well with your hands until everything comes together as one, but don’t over mix or it will turn into a fine paste! When well combined, test the mix by frying a little bit in a pan with a little oil. Leave to cool for a moment and taste. This step is critical: decide if you need to add more pepper, garlic or spices if you
feel it’s needed. You can also add a little salt if you feel it’s necessary.
Adjust and repeat the tasting step if necessary until it’s just right. Using a kitchen scale, weigh out small 50g balls of the mixture – or just do one like this to get an approximate idea of how much you need, then shape the others to that size (about the size of a walnut in its shell). Form the balls into slightly oval shapes and place on a baking tray. If you’re not cooking these right away, they can be covered with cling film and refrigerated for cooking later.
To cook the koftas, we char them on a preheated griddle pan (at maximum heat) for 1–2 minutes on each side, making sure they are well browned on a few sides. A frying pan would be fine here, though you won’t get the char marks. This step sears the meat and adds additional flavour from caramelising (browning) the outside of the kofta, but see the tips and tricks for advice if you want to skip this step.
Transfer to a baking dish and pour the warm sauce over. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. If you have a thermometer probe, they should hit 71°C – if you’ve minced the meat yourself and are confident as to the quality, you may prefer them to be a little rarer. Bring the koftas to the table in the baking dish, with the remaining feta and herbs sprinkled over, for serving alongside any accompaniments (the wedding couscous, flatbread and perhaps some salad).

Otherwise, plate up the individual portions, sprinkle with the feta and herbs and
serve with the accompaniments.

Brother Hubbard’s Flourless Citrus and Coconut Cake

This is based on a recipe in one of my favourite books, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. This is an amazing but simple cake, lovely, soft and moist. It also just so happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free (though if you make the ganache topping, make sure your white chocolate is gluten-free). We make these as individual cupcakes.
Makes 12 individual cakes
2 oranges
1 lemon
360g caster sugar
130g coconut flour (or desiccated coconut blitzed to a fine powder)
100g fine polenta
85g ground almonds
50g desiccated coconut
5 eggs, whisked well
2 teaspoons orange blossom water (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten-free if you want the recipe to be gluten-free)
Sunflower oil, for greasing
Greek yogurt or crème fraîche, to serve

White Chocolate and Coconut Ganache
200ml coconut milk
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
toasted coconut flakes, to decorate

First boil the oranges and lemon. Put the fruit in a pot, cover with water and pop a lid on. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40–60 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure they remain just covered with water. Once they are completely soft, drain off the water and leave to cool.
Once they are cool enough to handle, cut the tips off each piece of fruit, then cut in half and remove the seeds. They should be a soft, pulpy mess inside. Place the fruit pulp and skins in a bowl and purée in a food processor or using a stick blender. You should have a fairly smooth purée. If doing by hand, put into a saucepan and go hell for leather with a potato masher – don’t worry if it isn’t a perfectly smooth purée, as a little chunkiness is no harm.
Next preheat your oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 6.
Put the purée in a big mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add all of the other ingredients and mix until everything is fully combined.
If using a silicone cupcake mould, brush each individual cup with a little sunflower oil. If using a metal tin, do the same or use paper cases. Spoon the batter into each cup until it’s just shy of the top by about 5mm. Pop in the oven, then immediately turn it down to 170°C and bake for 40 minutes. The cupcakes are done when you stick a clean skewer, cocktail stick or knife in the centre and it comes out clean, without any batter stuck to it. If they’re not yet at that point, pop them back into the oven and check again after 5–8 minutes. Leave to cool.
While the cakes are baking, you can make the white chocolate and coconut ganache. Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan. When it’s near the boiling point, remove the pan from the heat and add the roughly chopped white chocolate. Stir well until the chocolate is fully melted, then leave to cool.
Spoon the cooled ganache over the top of the cooled cupcakes, decorate with toasted coconut flakes and serve with a little Greek yogurt or crème fraîche.
Stored at room temperature in an airtight container or tin, these will remain absolutely perfect for 4–5 days. In fact, the flavours come out even better after a day.

Terra Madre Salone del Gusto

Just on my way home from the Slow Food Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre in Turin. It’s a biennial event that kicks off on Friday and finishes on Monday evening.
This year the President of Italy launched the event in the beautiful Carignano Theater. There were ministers and mayors and dignitaries galore but most of the guests needed to be reminded of the President’s name, Sergio Matarella, who doesn’t appear to have reached the notoriety of his predecessor, consequently his name was unknown to many of the 7,000 delegates who had come from 143 countries worldwide.

It’s the world’s biggest food event, over 900 exhibitors and 400 events and the majority of the stalls are small to medium sized artisan producers.
For the first time this year it was held out in the open across Turin’s beautiful parks, squares, markets, museums and along the banks of the River Po.
Carlo Petrini, the messianic President of Slow Food International gave an impassioned talk on respecting farmers all over the world who labor to produce the food that nourishes us. Slow Food launched an appeal on behalf of the inhabitants of Amatrice, the area just hours east of Rome recently devastated by earthquake. Amatrice is considered by many to be the birthplace of the best cooks in Italy.

Afterwards the colourful Terra Madre parade of farmers and food producers marched through Turin in their national dress proudly carrying their national flags. The theme of this year’s event was Loving the Earth.

Ireland was represented by the Irish Slow Food Raw Milk Presidium. They were inundated with people queuing 3-4 deep wanting to buy tasting plates of Irish raw cheeses. Maria Roeleveld represented the Slow Food Raw Milk Presidium. Other Irish delegates were Aidan Dunwoody from Comeragh Mountain Lamb, Joe Fitzmaurice of Riot Rye Bakehouse and Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery. Molly Garvey came from Slow Food Irish Youth, Aisling Stone from Slow Food North West, Pat Warner from The Harmony Farm.

We found many wonderful foods – white plums from Monreale in Sicily, Saffron from Jiloca, cured herrings from Norway, wild figs from Macedonia, Mangalica sausage from Macedonia, wild pepper from Madagascar, Argan oil and dates from Morocco, Ilo coffee from Mozambique, Bitta orange flower from Sardinia, beautiful hazelnuts from Piedmont….

There is a universal realisation that we can no longer go on treating the earth that feeds us in the cavalier way we have been. Farmers are increasingly concerned about the diminishing fertility of the soil as a direct result of the intensive farming method encouraged since the 1950’s. Even in Ireland over 50% of our land is phosphorous deficient and 10% of soils are selenium deficient. These are elements essential for life.

There are 12 Slow Food chapters here in Ireland and a huge network worldwide. The philosophy can be summed up in just three words – Good, Clean and Fair.

  • Good – food should be wholesome, nourishing, delicious and good for us as well as the environment.
  • Clean – safe to eat and produced in a clean environment.
  • Fair – the farmers, fishermen, food producers and farm workers should be paid a fair price.

Hot Tips
Get Blogging
Join pro-blogger, Lucy Pearce, on a whistle-stop tour of the blogging world and discover the ingredients for a successful blog. You’ll see just how diverse blogging is, and how to find your own niche. In just three hours you will be fired up and ready to take the online world by storm with your own blog! Lucy will compare the different blogging platforms, highlighting their pros and cons so that you can select the best one for your blog. Then the fun begins as she gives you a guided tour behind the scenes on a blog and shows you the most useful gadgets and gizmos to use. You’ll learn the basics of blog design, how to customise basic blogging templates, the secrets behind writing popular posts, how to spread the word about your blog, how to find and keep readers. You will leave with a comprehensive set of notes to refer back to as you establish your blog, confident to build, design and grow your blog. Saturday 15th October,

The Ballinspittle Beef, Bacon, Beer and Barbecue Battle

Ballinspittle, close to Kinsale will host a Barbecue Battle on October 22nd, 2016. There are three categories Low and Slow, Thrill of the Grill and Ethnic. Amateur and Professional entries welcome. Entry forms from Diva Café in Ballinspittle, closing date 10th October. Tel: 087 233 9434 or Tim on 087 975 0557

Taste of Cork Week, 10th-16th October
As part of Taste of Cork Week, Urru is hosting a Pop Up lunch on October 15th at No 7 Bridge Street in Barry’s Tea first premises. A long table lunch hosted by West Cork artisan producers.
For more details phone Ruth Healy at Urru on 023 885 4731 or

Spice Pop UP
Another pop up to celebrate Taste Cork Week, this time Arun Kapil from Green Saffron and Canice Sharkey, chef patron of Isaacs Restaurant in MacCurtain Street, Cork will host Spice Pop Up 5 course menu on Tuesday October 11th, 8pm. Tickets are €35 including aperitif on arrival. Booking or 021 450 3805


Hazelnuts are in season at present, go for a foraging walk on the hillsides around the country, delicious eaten fresh from the shells.

Roast Piedmont Peppers with Anchovies, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Flaky Sea Salt

Roasting large red or yellow peppers intensifies the sweetness and makes them far easier to peel. Choose fat fleshly organic peppers.

There are three ways to roast peppers
1. Preheat the grill or better still use a charcoal grill or barbecue. Grill the peppers on all sides, turning them when necessary – they can be quite charred, but check the flesh is also soft.
2. Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas mark 9. Put the peppers on a baking tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until the skin blisters and the flesh is soft.
3. Put a wire rack over a mild gas jet, roast the pepper on all sides. When the skin is charred and the flesh is soft, remove from the heat.

When roasted by whichever method you choose, put peppers into a bowl, cover the top tightly with cling film for a few minutes, this will make them much easier to peel. Pull the skin off the peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and discard – put in the hens bucket or the compost bin. Do not wash or you will loose the precious sweet juices. Divide each pepper into 2 or 3 pieces along the natural division. Put 1-3 pieces on a plate. Lay 2 beautiful anchovies on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt. Serve with freshly grilled sour dough bread. Simple but divine.

Barny Haughton’s Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

The sauce for this deeply delicious and simple dish has four basic ingredients: tomatoes, shallots, chilli and bacon. But there are some rules about the ingredients:
You really need to get the right bacon; the deep flavour of a good Amatriciana comes from the rendered-down fat. The best bacon cut is guanciale (pork cheek) but a good fatty unsmoked pancetta will do fine as well. Bucatini, (like thick spaghetti) is best for the pasta but rigatoni or penne will also do well – but don’t use fresh pasta.
And finally: use pecorino not parmesan. The difference may not seem a big deal but what you get from pecorino (made from sheep’s milk) is a sharpness which works brilliantly with the rich Amatriciana sauce. Parmesan (made from cow’s milk) is sweeter and less defined in its flavour

Serves 4 people

400g guanciale or a piece of fatty pancetta
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
3 shallots very finely sliced
600g ripe tomatoes – or a 380g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
80grms aged pecorino, grated
400g bucatini
olive oil

First make passata out of the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350/gas mark 4, place the tomatoes on a roasting tray, toss them in a little olive oil and salt and bake them for about 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then pass through a mouli or sieve, leaving behind only the dry skin and seeds. If you have lots and lots of ripe tomatoes, for example 5 kilos, you could do as above, then reheat the passata to simmering and transfer to sterilised jars, screw the lids on tight and keep in a cool place for up to three months until needed.

Slice the guanciale into thickish rashers and then into lardons about 1cm wide. Put a splash of olive oil in the bottom of a deep solid bottomed sauté or frying pan, bring to a medium heat and put the lardon in the pan. Once they have started to fry, turn the heat down and continue to fry gently. As the fat renders down, pour it off into a bowl. Continue doing this until the lardons become crispy. Drain the remaining fat off into the bowl; put the lardons to one side. In the same pan, fry the sliced shallots until soft but not brown. Add the chilli flakes, fry a little longer, and then add the passata, bay leaves and a few twists of black pepper. Simmer gently for 25 minutes and keep warm

Cook the pasta in the normal way but make sure you cook it to just before it’s al dente. This is because you are going to finish it in the sauce for a further 30 seconds or so. Drain, toss in olive oil and put to one side.

Meanwhile, add the rendered fat to the tomato sauce and have the crispy lardons ready in a warm place. Next, add the pasta and lardons to the sauce in the frying pan, simmer for 30 seconds and serve immediately with lots of grated pecorino

Crostini di Fegatini

Serves 10-20

Crostini simply means croutons, in Italy they are served with various toppings. Chicken liver crostini are the best loved in Tuscany. I particularly love this version which was given to me by Mimmo Baldi and is served at his restaurant Il Vescovino in Panzano in the Chianti. I like to drizzle a little Vin Santo over each each crostini just as soon as it is fried in olive oil. Serve immediately – you always know when they have been served to a table because conversation stops and all one can hear is mmm, mmm!

225g (9oz) fresh chicken livers – preferably organic

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
3 anchovy fillets
20g (¾oz) capers
20g (¾oz) gherkins
3 stalks of flat parsley
100ml (4floz) port or marsala or Vin Santo
100ml (4floz) good home-made chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
25-50g(1-2oz) freshly grated Parmesan

Vin Santo

15-20 slices of French bread 7 cm (2¾inch) approx. chargrilled, toasted or fried in olive oil until golden brown on each side.

Season the chicken livers with salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté the chicken livers in a little olive oil in a small sauté pan over a medium heat until they are just firm, remove from the pan and drain in a sieve or colander for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the vegetables. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the dice of carrot, onion and celery cover and cook until soft – about 5-6 minutes. Add the chicken livers and cook for about 10 minutes more, then let this mixture cool for 30 minutes.
Add the anchovies, capers, gherkins and parsley to the livers chop roughly, taste and correct the seasoning.
Reheat this mixture, add the port, marsala or Vin Santo and reduce until all the liquid has been absorbed, then add the chicken stock. The mixture should have a moist creamy consistency. Taste and correct seasoning.
Just as soon as the croutons are fried or toasted drizzle with Vin Santo, spread with a generous amount of the fegatini mixture and serve immediately.

Serving suggestion
To make a more substantial plate, add a few ruffles of freshly sliced Parma ham and some rocket leaves – one of my favourite starters.

Tira Misu

The name means pick-me-up and not surprising either considering the amount of booze! This is a fairly recent Italian pudding which seems to have originated in Venice but which is now served in restaurants all over Italy, and it always tastes different. We’ve had rave reviews for this version which is very easily put together. Mascarpone cheese, which is an essential ingredient, is now becoming more widely available.

Serves 8

38-40 Boudoir biscuits
12 fl oz (350 ml/1 1/2 cups) strong espresso coffee (if your freshly) made coffee is not strong enough, add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee)
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) brandy
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Jamaica rum
3 ozs (75g) dark chocolate
3 eggs, separated, preferably free range
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) castor sugar
9 ozs (255g/1 generous cup) Mascarpone cheese

Unsweetened Cocoa (Dutch process)

Dish 10 x 8 inches (25.5 x 20.5cm) with low sides or 1lb loaf tin (8 x 4 inches (20.5 x 10cm) lined with cling film

Mix the coffee with the brandy and rum. Roughly grate the chocolate (we do it in the food processor with the pulse button). Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it reaches the ‘ribbon’ stage and is light and fluffy, then fold in the Mascarpone a tablespoon at a time.

Whisk the egg whites stiffly and fold gently into the cheese mixture. Now you are ready to assemble the Tira Misu.

Dip each side of the boudoir biscuits one at a time into the coffee mixture and arrange side by side in the dish or tin. Spread half the Mascarpone mixture gently over the biscuits, sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the top, then another layer of soaked biscuits and finally the rest of the Mascarpone. Cover the whole bowl or loaf tin carefully with cling film or better still slide it into a plastic bag and twist the end. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours – I usually make it the day before I use it.

Just before serving scatter the remainder of the chocolate over the top and dredge with unsweetened cocoa.

Note: Tiramisu will keep for several days in a fridge, but make sure it is covered so that it doesn’t pick up ‘fridgie’ tastes.

*Mascarpone, a delicious rich creamy cheese which originated in Lodi in Lombardy is made by curdling cream with citric acid. It is often used instead of cream with fruit and pastries.

Fritto di Bosco Italian Fruit Salad

Serves 4-6

This recipe made in seconds makes a delicious fresh fruit salad. Use the best fruit you can find – the combination can vary. Marcella Hazan made it for me with wild berries from the woods and it was quite exquisite. She dressed it at the table just before we ate it.

4 ozs (110g/1 cup) blackberries
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) blueberries
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) wild strawberries (fraises du bois) or small strawberries
4 ozs (110g/ 1 cup) raspberries
1 or 2 peaches or nectarines
2-4 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 5 American tablespoons) golden caster sugar
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
lots of fresh mint leaves

Combine the berries and the sliced peaches or nectarines in a bowl. Sprinkle the sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice over the fruit, toss gently. Tear lots of fresh mint leaves into the fruit, stir gently, taste and add sugar or juice if necessary.
Serve immediately.

Sospiri di Monaca
Nuns’ Sighs

Makes 40

These delicious little hazelnut meringues are made all over Sicily. The myth of nuns being trapped inside the convent walls fantasizing about what they may be missing is popular in many parts of Italy and lots of confections are made, supposedly to cheer up the good sisters!

7 ozs (200g/scant 1½ cups) hazelnuts
4 egg whites, preferably free range
10 ozs (285g/2½ cups) icing sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4.
Spread the hazelnuts out on a baking tray and put into the preheated oven for 15 minutes approx. or until the skins loosen. Rub off the skins in a tea towel and chop the nuts as finely as possible.
Put the egg whites and the sieved icing sugar into a spotlessly clean bowl and whisk until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. Gently fold in the chopped hazelnuts and lemon zest. Spoon out the meringue in generous blobs with a teaspoon on to baking sheets lined with silicone paper or oiled tin foil. Tease the little blobs into tear shapes. Bake at 150C/300F/regulo 2 for 45 minutes. Allow to cool.
Serve with a cup of coffee. They are also wonderful with a few raspberries or a perfect peach and a blob of cream.
Note: Like all meringues Nuns’ Sighs will keep for ages in an airtight tin.

Taste of West Cork Festival

Just spent what I like to think are the last few days of summer in West Cork but of course in reality it’s most definitely Autumn no matter how hard I try to kid myself. My ‘last hurrah’ before I throw myself into the Autumn term co-incided with the Taste of West Cork festival, an extraordinary fortnight of random events dreamed up by a small committee of super charged individuals who are determined to celebrate and highlight what is unique about West Cork and lengthen the tourist season for as many people as possible in the greater area.

I’ve watched this festival develop gradually over the past 6 years, ebbing and flowing but this year there were 188 events taking place in 32 towns and villages and on eight islands, an inspired mix of themed dinners, cookery demonstrations, storytelling, foraging, cocktail making, Ilen River cruises with afternoon tea….You could roam with the buffalo on Johnny Lynch’s Farm near Macroom and taste the tender mozzarella, good enough to rival anything coming out of Italy. Learn how to smoke fish in Ummera or Union Hall smokehouse who scooped the top awards at the West Cork Artisan Food Awards. I learned how to save seeds with the seed saving hero Madeline McKeever of Brown Envelope Seeds.

Over 400 people turned up to St Patrick’s National School in Skibbereen to hear Mary Clear, the dynamic founder of the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden. I went along to visit and met Alan Foley and Brian Granaghan, the people behind the schools impressive and award winning garden.
There’s a Geodome, willow tunnel, amphitheatre, wormery, composting area, insect hotel, raised beds….

John Desmond of Island Cottage gave a demonstration of how to make a classic chocolate mousse on the pier on Heir Island.
The artisan food producers flung open their doors and travelled to share their stories and their produce with their many fans. There were cycles and walks on the wild side, golf events, kayaking and sailing all connected to food and the beautiful seafood of West Cork.

In the midst of it all the prestigious West Cork Artisan Food Awards winners included Gubbeen Farmhouse and Woodcock Smokery were joint overall winner of the Awards. Union Hall Smoked Fish took the top award, West Cork Pies were also award winners, Newcomer Award was West Cork Eggs, Mella’s Fudge, O’ Neill’s Allihies Sea Salt, Claire’s Hummus, Thornhill Organics, Tess and the Glebers at Glebe Gardens, John and Sarah Devoy, Rosscarbery….see for the full list.

Susan Holland and Ian Parr late of the Custom House in West Cork came back from France to cook a dinner at the Boat House at Inish Beg – a ‘sell out’ of course and a nostalgic trip down memory lane for their many fans. Glebe Café hosted Danni Barry from EIPIC in Belfast, loved the meal she cooked as a celebration of the food from Glebe Gardens and superb beef from Walsh’s butcher shop in Skibbereen.

Visitors flocked into the West Cork area. Many events were totally sold out, over 400 people turned up to a tour of the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen. ‘An Afternoon of Michael Collins’ included a demonstration of griddle baking over the open fire. Visits to farms – Glen Ilen and Devoys organic farm, fermentation and pickling workshops, beekeeping including an inspirational workshop at Gurranes with Trevor Dannann, a certified natural beekeeper at the age of 16 and owner of 12 hives.

Numerous cookery demonstrations and several food forums including attendees described as ‘life changing’. Our Farms, Our Food, Our Future organized by Majella O’ Neill. Among the speakers were Professor Ted Dinan of UCC who spoke about the connection between our gut flora and the brain.

Dr Don Huber award winning international scientist and Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, Indiana, USA, leading GM expert in the world who shared his research into the effects of glyphosate and GM on public health, all presentations were recorded and will be available.

So many brilliant events to choose from, impossible to get to more than 2 or 3 into a day. Every town from Clonakilty to Bantry, Rosscarbery to Sherkin Island, Castletownshend to Bandon and everywhere in between was ‘rocking’.

Skibbereen is on a roll, one can feel the energy and optimism. There was something happening in every parish, every pub, restaurant, café, farm and dairy. West Cork was bursting with pride and justifiably celebrating what is unique and magical about this extraordinary part of Ireland. There are food fairs, festivals and carnivals all over the country nowadays so it’s really tough to have a USP to attract an almost jaded public but the Taste of West Cork is certainly a model worth looking at. Congrats to each and everyone involved.

Hot Tips

Gluten Free Cooking
Can you imagine really delicious breads, cakes, pastries…
As anyone who is coeliac, or who cooks for someone who has gluten intolerance, will testify it can be challenging to produce really delicious, balanced meals. Finally, help is to hand – on Saturday October 8th this intensive half day course is ideal for those on a gluten-free diet who face the dilemma of longing to taste ‘real’ food. You’ll learn about a whole range of tasty and easy-to-prepare dishes including gluten-free sweet and savoury pastry, crackling salmon with coriander pesto and gluten free raspberry muffins. Suddenly, cooking for coeliacs will become a pleasure not a chore. Advice on alternative ingredients and lots of baking tips will help take the mystery out of successful gluten-free cooking.

Sunday Roasts
Is there anything more comforting than the perfect Sunday roast? The very words conjure up evocative images of family and friends gathered together around the kitchen or dining-room table with delicious aromas of roasties and gravy permeating the house. Every good cook takes pride in being able to produce a delicious roast dinner with all the trimmings, and it’s no mean feat!
On Friday 14th October, we will show you how to choose and turn the best cuts of beef, lamb, chicken and pork into the most impressive roast dishes; plus whip up gravies and sauces bursting with flavour; and hone your carving skills as well.
After the cooking session, we will all sit down together to enjoy the Sunday roasts with all the trimmings.

The Taste Magazine
Food lovers who want to keep on top of the Irish food scene check out The Taste which has won best digital food magazine at the Gourmand Awards 2016 and best online magazine at the Irish bloggers association awards 2016.

Danni Barry’s Beetroot Baked in Salt and Rye with Goat’s Curd and Toasted Seeds

Danni cooked a deliciously simple meal at Glebe Gardens during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival

Serves 4

2 large red beetroot
2 large golden beetroot
200g Leggygowan Farm goat’s curd

For the salt and rye crust
300g strong flour
200g rye flour
200g coarse sea salt
6 juniper berries
1 orange zest
200-250ml cold water

For the beetroot and raspberry dressing
120ml Broighter Gold rapeseed oil
30ml raspberry vinegar
50g red beetroot trim
Rainbow chard

For the toasted seeds
60g sunflower seeds
50g brown linseeds/flaxseed

Heat the oven to 200ËšC.

For the salt dough, crush the juniper seeds and add to the flours, salt and orange zest. Make a hole in the middle and add the water in three stages, mixing until a dough forms. Wrap in cling film and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Wash the beetroots and dry them thoroughly. Roll out the dough and wrap around each beetroot individually, place on a baking tray and put straight into the hot oven. (It is important not to leave the dough wrapped beetroots sitting for too long before baking, as the salt will start to draw out moisture from the beetroot and the dough will breakdown.)

After eight minutes, turn down the oven to 180ËšC and continue to cook for 40 minutes.

When ready, crack open the crust and peel the beetroots while still warm. Cut into five-inch discs and place 50g of the excess in a saucepan with the raspberry vinegar.

Warm gently for ten minutes and pass through a sieve. Mix with the rapeseed oil while warm to make the dressing.

Toast the seeds on a tray in the oven and season.

To assemble the plate, layer the beetroots and goats curd, and dress generously.

Wilt some rainbow chard in a hot pan with a little oil and dress with the raspberry vinegar. Place on top of the beetroots, then spoon over the toasted seeds.

Danni Barry from EIPIC Restaurant in Belfast


No Knead Bread

Susan has been making this bread, created by Jim Lahey from Sullivan St Bakery in New York, successfully for many years
The bread must be made the day before you need it.

430g of strong bread flour
345mls of water, Susan use’s spring water as tap water often has additives that inhibit the rise.
1/4 teaspoon of dried yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
extra flour or bran or semolina for dusting table top.
In a large mixing bowl add and mix all dry ingredients.

Add water and incorporate by hand or a wooden spoon or spatula for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Once it forms a ball cover the bowl with cling film and let the dough rise at room temperature (warmish) for 12 to 15 hours.
The very slow rise gives the bread its sour dough aspect, i.e., large holes, and it’s the slow rise that makes it not necessary to knead.

Remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. This should be done with a scraper on the work surface as the dough is very wet. Shape into a ball. Leave the dough to rest about 30 minutes.
Next preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.

Place an oven proof pot with lid in the oven to preheat. Susan uses a Le Creuset cast iron or Pyrex with lid (pot should have a capacity of 7 litres.)

Susan explains the reason for baking in a cast iron pot with lid, is that the covered pot traps humidity and forms the crust.

Once the dough has doubled in size (about 30 minutes) remove the pot from the oven and place dough in the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake 15 to 30 minutes uncovered until the loaf is nicely brown.
Susan slips the loaf onto a strip of parchment paper and put it into the pot on the paper. It makes it easier to handle.

Susan Holland’s Ceviche

This ceviche was one of the courses that Susan ‘cooked’ and served at Inish Beg during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival.

For a starter

100gs per person of VERY fresh lemon sole or brill, filleted and skinned and cut into thin strips.

Cover completely with fresh lime juice and leave in fridge for about 3 hours until the fish is “cooked”” i.e. opaque

Drain the fish, and assemble the plate.

Start with thin slices of avocado, then the fish, then very thin slices of celery for crunch, then strips of cucumber. Dress with good extra virgin olive oil and pinch of Maldon sea salt or equivalent.

Susan also likes to use fennel pollen when in season, in September. Or pink peppercorns or toasted sesame seeds.

Susan uses a mandolin for slicing the vegetables and a peeler for the cucumber.


Takashi Miyazaki’s Pan Fried Mackerel with Teriyaki Ginger Sauce

We greatly enjoyed Takashi’s simple Japanese cooking at the Riverside Café during the Taste of West Cork Food Festival.
Serve 1
Teriyaki Sauce
10ml mirin
10ml sake
30g brown sugar
50ml Kikkoman dark soy sauce
1 whole mackerel (fillet)
10ml oil
3g ginger (finely chopped)
50ml teriyaki sauce
1 pinch white sesame

Place mirin, sake, brown sugar and soy sauce into sauce pan and turn heat on until boiled.
Turn off the heat when the sauce boil and place sauce into container.
Heat the pan over medium high heat and pour oil on the pan.
Put mackerel fillet (skin side down) onto the pan and fry until skin gets crispy.
Flip mackerel over and turn heat down until cooked.
When mackerel cooked, pour teriyaki sauce over on mackerel and toss chopped ginger.
Cook as low heat until sauce gets thick.
Place mackerel on the plate and pour sauce over the mackerel, garnish with white sesame.

Takashi Miyazaki’s Miso soup

Serve 4
750ml water
5g Irish sugar kelp (dried)
100g miso paste
50g silken tofu (diced)
20g Atlantic dillisk
5g fresh chives, chopped

Place water and sugar kelp into the pot and bring to a boil.
Turn heat down to low when it reaches a boil, take sugar kelp out from pot (sugar kelp stock)
Add miso into sugar kelp dashi stock and mix with whisk until miso dissolved.
Add tofu and dillisk.
Pour miso soup into soup bowl and sprinkle freshly chopped chives on top.

Takashi Miyazaki’s Japanese Steamed Rice

Serve 3-4
2 cups Japanese rice
2¼ cups water
1 pinch black sesame
How to wash Japanese rice properly — it needs three steps!!
Rinsing: Place rice in a bowl; pour water quickly into bowl until it covers the rice completely. To wash the rice, use one hand to mix the rice around with brisk, light movements. Pour out all the water. Repeat this rinsing 3 times.

Polishing: With fingers curled as though holding a ball, insert your hand into the rice and, using a constant rhythm and pace, rub the grains of rice around several times.

Final Rinsing: add plenty of fresh water; mix again lightly and quickly drain it off. Repeat steps 4-5 until the water runs nearly clear.

Drain rice into sieve and leave for 30 minutes. Place rice and water into a heavy pot.

Cover the pot with lid and set over a high heat. When the water starts to boil to blow, turn heat down to low and cook about 12 minutes.

Turn off the heat and leave the pot in warm place, leave 10 minutes.

Turn over the rice thoroughly with a flat rice paddle or wooden spoon. Put the lid back on and 8 minutes.

Place rice into rice bowl and sprinkle black sesame on the top.

John Desmond’s Classic Chocolate Mousse

125 g dark chocolate
125 g milk chocolate
50 g unsalted butter
5 eggs yolks
8 egg whites
50 g sugar
1 espresso cup of strong coffee
Cleaning of Copper bowl
5 g salt
10 ml red wine vinegar

Break up 125 g dark chocolate and 125 g milk chocolate, put into large bowl with 50 g of unsalted butter, place over a larger bowl of boiling water. Separate 8 eggs, keeping 5 yolks and 8 whites for the mousse.
If using a copper bowl, thoroughly clean it with salt and vinegar, rinse and dry. Put 8 egg whites into whatever you are using and whisk until stiff, add 50 g sugar, keep whisking until sugar has dissolved.
Add espresso coffee and 5 egg yolks to chocolate mixture, gentle whisk until incorporated, then add a quarter of the beaten egg white mixture, whisk thoroughly, gently fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Put into a flat bottom container and refrigerate overnight. It can also be put into individual bowls. It will keep refrigerated for a few days.

Cheese Glorious Cheese

I’ve got a lovely friend in Dallas who also wears red glasses and makes amazing cheeses. She started the Mozzarella Company in 1982 and has been creating and producing award winning artisan chesses ever since for top restaurants, speciality cheese shops, delis and gourmet outlets all over America.

She also teaches cooking classes across the country and in Italy and France and in recent years has fallen in love with Ireland. She and Rob Kendall have been bringing groups of friends to Lismore Castle for a week long exploration of West Waterford and East Cork for several years now. They come here to the Cookery School for a private demonstration and then have fun cooking their dinner with food from the farm and gardens. Many are doctors, dentists, accountants, oil barons, philanthropists who have never cooked before but they love the experience – a change from their day job. They are as excited as kids in a candy shop when they take their first loaf of bread out of the oven and discover they can actually cook 7 or 8 dishes after one session in the kitchen.

They bring it all into the dining room and sit down together with a nice glass of wine to relish the fruits of their labours.
Paula and Rob bring them to visit the English Market where they enjoy a plate of mussels at Pat O’ Connell’s fish stall, washed down with a glass of Murphy’s before heading for St Finbarr’s Cathedral and Joseph Walsh’s furniture studio in Riverstick. They also visit many of the beautiful West Waterford houses that overlook the Blackwater River before coming back to Lismore Castle to enjoy Beth Anne Smith’s delicious food.

Paula fell in love with fresh mozzarella in Italy and decided to bring the art of cheese making home to Texas. Since 1982, her tiny downtown factory in Dallas has made award winning cheeses the old fashioned way. Even though, the Mozzarella Company now produces over 250,000 pounds and a variety of cheeses each year every cheese is still made completely by hand.

Not sure just how she managed it with Paula has also written a book, not surprisingly called “Cheese Glorious Cheese” with some of the most tempting recipes I’ve ever come across for cheese. It’s published by Mozzarella Company; here are a few of the recipes I really enjoyed. Here in Ireland we can use the fresh Irish Mozzarella from Toons Bridge Dairy and Macroom Mozzarella both from Macroom.

2016 is Northern Ireland Year of Food and to celebrate Belfast on a Plate, a beautiful new book with contributions from 20 Belfast chefs has just been launched. It is described as “A flavour of the city in recipes and stories” and it’s guaranteed to whet your appetite to make a foodie trip to Belfast, certainly on my list after I recently enjoyed Danni Barry’s food at Glebe Gardens during the Taste of West Cork.

Autumn Foraging
Join me for a one day foraging course in search of wild and foraged foods. You’ll be amazed at what can be found even within walking distance. In just one day, you’ll learn how to identify and use over forty wild food plants, flowers, seaweeds and shellfish in season: rosehips, blackberries, watercress, sloes, carrigeen, mussels, sweet chestnuts… and maybe a few edible mushrooms, depending on the weather. Depending on what we’ve gathered, we might make several delicious soups; tasty salads from autumn greens; jellies and jams from berries and fruit; not to mention rosehip syrup, carrigeen moss pudding, fritters and even sloe gin. You will have the opportunity to taste all the dishes prepared during the course. A walk in the countryside will never be the same again. Where you previously saw weeds, you’ll now see dinner! There are two dates – Friday 30th September or Saturday 1st October.

Hands on Lamb Butchery with Philip Dennhardt
Learn how easy it is to butcher your own lamb……In this afternoon class Philip, our resident butcher, will take a whole lamb and demonstrate how to butcher it into your favourite pieces of meat ready for the oven and the freezer. The course includes a 1/2 Lamb which you butcher and then take home to put in your freezer, so make sure there is room…..
You’ll also get a pack of 8 delicious recipes. Friday 30th September,

Paula Lambert’s Mozzarella Toasts with Anchovy Sauce

Makes ½ cup anchovy sauce

Serves 12 – 20 (makes 40 toasts)

Anchovy Sauce
1 x 2 oz tin anchovies, packed in olive oil
2 fl oz (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons drained capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fried Capers
2 tablespoons drained capers
4 fl oz (½ cup) vegetable oil

1 baguette
1 x 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of one lemon

First make the anchovy sauce. Combine the anchovies with their oil, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and capers in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the Fried Capers. Pat the capers dry and set aside on paper towels. Pour the oil into a small skillet and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the capers and fry until they burst open and are slightly browned and crisp. Be careful when adding the capers to the oil, because the splatter at first. Remove the capers with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Position an oven rack 23 inches below the heat source. Preheat the broiler on high.

Using a serrated knife, slice the baguette diagonally at an angle into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast until top of bread is lightly browned; turn the bread over and toasts the other side.

Remove the toasts from the oven but leave them on the baking sheet. Divide the fresh mozzarella among the toasts and return them to the oven. Heat only long enough for the cheese to soften and just begin to melt, about 2 – 3minutes. Remove from the oven and using a spoon drizzle the anchovy sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle the toasts with the fried capers, parsley and lemon zest.

Serve immediately while still warm.
Paula Lambert’s Cheese Glorious Cheese

Paula Lambert’s Gouda Bread Pudding

Serves 8

4 eggs
2 cups milk
4 ozs (110 g/½ cup) crème fraiche or sour cream
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 baguette
2 tablespoons butter
8 ozs (225 g/2 cups) Gouda

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, crème fraîche or sour cream, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined.

Cut the baguette in half, and then cut it into quarters and finally into 1 inch cubes. Add the bread to the egg mixture and toss to combine. Leave to soak up the liquid for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Generously butter an 8 -10 inch (20.5-25.5 cm) casserole or soufflé dish.

Transfer 1-3 of the soaked bread to the casserole and then sprinkle ¼ of the cheese on top. Repeat layering the bread and cheese until the casserole is filled. You should have 3 or 4 layers of bread and cheese. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese in a thick layer on top.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the bread pudding has puffed up in the centre and the top is crusty and golden brown. Serve hot.

Paula Lambert’s Crab-Avocado Tostadas with Queso Blanco

Serves 8

Salsa Verde
4 small tomatillos
½ avocado
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
½ clove garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
2 teaspoons lime juice
½ teaspoon salt

Pico de Gallo
½ ripe tomato, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) onion, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

8 corn tortillas
1 cup corn oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
6 ozs (175 g) fresh crabmeat
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) minced onion
1 oz (25 g/¼ cup) minced jicama
½ cup Salsa Verde
2 teaspoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ozs (3/4 cup) queso blanco, crumbled
Paprika to taste
½ tomato, diced, for garnish
8 sprigs fresh coriander, for garnish

First make the salsa verde. Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and wash the tomatillos with cold water. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp of the avocado skin. Place the tomatillos, avocado, onion, garlic, jalapeno, coriander and lime juice in a blender and process until completely smooth. Add salt to taste. Stir and adjust seasonings if necessary.

For the Pico de Gallo, combine the tomato, jalapeno, onion, coriander, lime juice and salt in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and fry the whole tortillas, turning as necessary until crisp and golden brown. Remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle them with sea salt.

Mix the crabmeat, onion, jimaca and salsa verde together in a small bowl. Add the lime juice and salt. Stir and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Preheat the broiler to high.

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet, then divide and mound the cheese on top. Transfer to the broiler and place about 3 inches beneath the heat source. Broil until the cheese melts, taking care not to let the tostadas get too brown. Remove from the oven and immediately mound the crabmeat mixture on the cheese.

To serve, garnish each tostada with a dollop of salsa verde and a spoonful of pico de gallo. Place the remaining salsa verde and pico de gallo in small bowls to pass at the table.

Serve the tostadas accompanied by Mexican rice and refried beans.

Paula Lambert’s Gingery Pear Cheesecake

Serves 12

1½ cups crushed gingersnap cookies
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3 pears, peeled, cored, cut into quarters
2 cups (16 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (4 oz) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
3 large eggs
11/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon Poire William or pear eau de vie brandy, optional

¾ cup (4 oz) candied ginger slices

Lightly butter the sides of a 10 inch by 3 inch (25.5 cm by 8 cm) spring form pan.

For the crust, combine the gingersnap crumbs and the butter in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until the gingersnaps resemble cornmeal in texture. Pour the crumbs into the pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan, about ¼ inch thick, and as far up the sides as possible. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil.

For the filling:- cut the pears into large chunks, place in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process to chop finely. Add the cream cheese and crème fraîche or sour cream. Process for about 1 minute until fluffy. While the processor is running, gradually pour in the vanilla and sugar through the tube feed. Add the eggs through the tube one at a time, beating all the while. Add the ginger and finally the Poire William. Turn off the processor and pour the batter into the springform pan on the chilled gingersnap crust. Tap the pan gently on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles.

Place the springform pan on the baking sheet, transfer the baking sheet with the pan on top to the oven and bake for 1 hour to 11/4 hours. The cheesecake should be slightly risen and still have a little liquid in the centre. Turn off the oven and prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon to allow the heat to escape. Leave the cake undisturbed in the oven for about 1 hour. It will finish cooking in the turned off oven. Don’t worry if it cracks.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cake rack to cool for one hour. Once the cake has cooled cut ¼ of the candied ginger into very thin slices to garnish the top of the cake.

Chop the remaining candied ginger into small pieces. Slide the cake onto a serving plate and spread the chopped ginger on the outer sides of the cake, allowing the excess to fall onto the serving plate around the base of the cake. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

To serve, slice the cheesecake with a sharp thin knife dipped in water and dried before each slice.

Serve chilled

Edible Flowers and Fresh Herbs

Edible flowers and of course fresh herbs are an integral part of our simple cooking style. I hadn’t realised what a wide variety we use until recently when I started to compile a list in response to several requests. What started a couple of decades ago with just a few nasturtium flowers scattered over a potato salad has now grown into a long list that keeps being added to.
Scattering gaily coloured flowers over our food to garnish and enhance the flavour may seem like a thoroughly modern trend but in fact using flowers in the kitchen can be traced back to the Roman era and was also part of Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian cultures.

In Victorian times, flower petals were considered particularly cutting edge. In recent years many innovative chefs and home cooks have been having fun adding extra colour and a touch of elegance to their dishes. It’s not just about appearance though; many flowers have considerable nutritional and medicinal value. As well as the nasturtiums, which are high in antioxidants, marigold petals (calendula), cornflowers, thyme, chives, wild garlic, society garlic and all the herb flowers are edible. We particularly love dill and fennel flowers with their liquorice and aniseed flavour are especially good for fish dishes. They add a delicious extra burst of excitement to a salad and make a pretty garnish.

Lavender, is not just for lavender bags and pot pourri. We love the buds in ice creams, syrups and even added to scones. Squash, pumpkin and zucchini are irresistible dipped in a tempura batter and fried until crisp just as they are or stuffed with some tasty morsels.

There are lots of ways to have fun with flowers apart from just scattering them into salads. Add one or several to butters, alone or in combination with fresh herbs to serve with vegetables, meat or fish. Use to flavour teas, punches or vinegars. Infuse in oils and syrups. Sprinkle over pasta or pancakes, add to soups and sandwiches. Candy or crystallise as in violets, rose petals, violas…. Use to decorate cakes and even buns and of course larger flowers can be stuffed and eaten raw or cooked.

Fragrant rose petals impart a wonderful scent to a cake when used to line the tin and of course it’s fun to pop edible flowers into the ice cubes to perk up lemonade and punches – just use your imagination and a measure of restraint….and of course flower petals are wonderful used as an alternative to confetti at weddings.

Before I whip up any more enthusiasm, a few cautionary words. Not all flowers are edible although I keep discovering new ones to add to my list so don‘t take risks until you are absolutely sure.
Avoid flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides or other chemicals.

Few, if any florists flowers are organic so harvest from your own flower bed or window sill.

Avoid flowers picked along the edge of a busy road where exhaust fumes and residues collect on plants.

Don’t OTT on flowers, an overdose could cause digestive problems. Here is a list of 60 edible flowers – many you may not have realised are edible. Alyssum flowers, Angelica, Anise hyssop, Apple blossom
Begonias, Borage, Calendula, California Poppies, Camomile,
Carnations, Cauliflower blooms, Chives, Chrysanthemums,
Clary sage, Clover, both white and red blossoms, Cornflowers
Cowslips, Daisy, Dandelions, Daisies, Day Lilies, Dianthus,Dill flowers, Elderflowers, Evening primrose, Fennel, Forget-me-nots
Freezias, Fuschia, Gladolia, Golden rod, Hibiscus, Hollyhock
Honeysuckle, Hyssop impatiens, Jasmine, Johnny jump ups, Lemon flowers, Lilac, Meadowsweet, Orange flowers, Pea flowers not sweet pea, Pansy, Peony, Poppy (corn or Flanders Poppy), Phlox, Primroses
Roses, Snap Dragons, Sunflower, Sweet Woodruff, Scented Geraniums, Scarlet runner bean, Sweet Cecily, Thyme flowers
Tulip flower, not bulbs, Violets, Violas, Yarrow, Zucchini.

Fumbally Fun, just love all the energetic young people at the Fumbally, all super passionate about food and determined to share their knowledge, skills and discoveries. Check out the Autumn series of lectures and works shop at
Music Brunch at Glebe Gardens, Baltimore
Treat yourself to brunch tomorrow with delicious pastries and bread produced in the Glebe bakery while you relax in the tranquility of Glebe Gardens. Booking Essential Tel: 028 0579

The Kitchen Miracle at Good Things Café, Skibbereen
From Sunday September 18th – Friday 23rd September Carmel Somers will teach a five and a half day demonstration and practical course. You will learn a whole repertoire of starters, main courses and puddings. Not to mention all those little extras that impress people; things like delicious home baked bread, home-made mayonnaise and great cakes, all in five and a half days. The class covers basic techniques that can then be readily adapted. For instance, how to sweat, sauté, pan fry, sear, make a basic soup and tart – skills which are applicable in a wide range of recipes. Essentially, you’ll come away from this course proficient and confident. Tel: 028 519 48

Snails in Carlow
The Irish Snail Farm in Co Carlow provides Irish grown snails and caviar for both restaurants and people who love Escargots. Snails are high in protein, low in fat and full of flavour. Eat them with lots of garlic butter.


Pangrilled Mackerel with Nasturtium Butter

Serves 4

8 fillets of very fresh mackerel (allow 170g fish for main course, 85g for a starter)
Seasoned flour
Small knob of butter

Nasturtium Butter
55g butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
Nasturtium leaves and lots of nasturtium flowers
Juice of ½ small lemon

Nasturtium flowers and little leaves
Segment of lime

First make the Nasturtium Butter. Cream the butter, stir in the parsley, roughly chopped nasturtium flowers and leaves, and a few drops of lemon juice at a time. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.
Heat the grill pan. Dip the fish fillets in flour which has been seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. Shake off the excess flour and then spread a little butter with a knife on the flesh side, as though you were buttering a slice of bread rather meanly. When the grill is quite hot but not smoking, place the fish fillets butter side down on the grill; the fish should sizzle as soon as they touch the pan. Turn down the heat slightly and let them cook for 4 or 5 minutes on that side before you turn them over. Continue to cook on the other side until crisp and golden. Serve on a hot plate with some slices of Nasturtium Butter and a segment of lime.
The butter may be served directly on the fish, or if you have a pretty shell, place it at the side of the plate as a container for the butter. Garnish with nasturtium flowers and tiny leaves, and a segment of lime.

Willowzina’s Super Quick Cake with Rose Petals and Pistachios

Serves 8

175g (6oz/1 1/2 sticks) soft butter
150g (5oz/generous 1/2 cup) castor sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

1 x 20.5cm (8 inch) sandwich tin, buttered and floured. Line the base of the tin with parchment paper.

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

Put the soft butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into the bowl of a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate and turn into the prepared tin – make a dip in the centre so it rises evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Cool in the tin for a few minutes, remove and cool on a wire rack.

Lemon Glacé Icing with Pistachio and Rose Petals
110g (4oz/scant 1 cup) icing sugar
finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ozs (50 g) pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon dried or crystallised rose petals

Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon rind and enough lemon juice to make a softish icing.
Decorate the cake while the icing is soft and wet. Garnish with chopped pistachios and rose petals.
Crystallized Rose Petals
rose petals (use the petals from fragrant ‘old roses’)
caster sugar
egg white
The caster sugar must be absolutely dry, one could dry it in a low oven for about 30 minutes.
Break up the egg white slightly in a little bowl with a fork. Using a child’s paintbrush, paint the egg white very carefully over each petal and into every crevice. Pour the caster sugar over the flower with a teaspoon. Arrange the crystallized flowers carefully on silicone paper so that they retain a good shape. Leave to dry overnight in a warm, dry place such as close to an Aga, over a radiator or in an airing cupboard. When properly crystallized, these flowers will last for months, even years, provided they are kept dry. We store them in a pottery jar or a tin box.

Lavender Syrup

Delicious over ice-cream or labneh, or as a base for a sparkly aperitif, also good in cakes or over sliced peaches or nectarines in Summer.

Makes 800ml

Lavender flowers gathered just before they open – use 2 heaped tablespoons
600ml water
400- 450g sugar
Very thin strips lemon peel from 1 unwaxed lemon

Put the cold water, sugar and lavender flowers into a saucepan, add a couple of very thin strips of lemon peel. Warm slowly on a medium heat, when the sugar is dissolved, bring to the boil for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse for about 30 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve. Pour into sterilized bottles, cover and store in a cool dry place or in the fridge if you have space.
Keeps for 3 months.

Marigold Biscuits

The marigold petals flavour and colour in shortbread in a most appealing way.

Makes 25

175g white flour or Spelt
110g butter
40g castor sugar
2 tablespoons of marigold (calendula) petals

Put the flour, sugar and marigold petals into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 7mm thick. Cut into rounds with a 6cm cutter or into heart shapes. Bake in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas Mark 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 and sprinkle fresh marigold petals over the top.

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.

Lavender Shortbread

For some reason it has become a tradition in Kinoith to always have shortbread in the Aga! Many years ago when I was attempting to hide the shortbread from the children who seemed to devour it as fast as it was made, I discovered quite by accident that it keeps beautifully for days in the coolest oven of our four door Aga. Now not only the children but all our friends know where to look!

Makes 24-32 depending on size

350g plain white flour
300g butter
110g castor sugar
75g ground rice
good pinch of salt
good pinch of baking powder
2-3 tablespoons dried lavender (unopened lavender flowers)

vanilla or castor sugar for sprinkling

Swiss roll tin 25 x 38cm

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the dried lavender. Cut the butter into cubes and rub in until the whole mixture comes together. (alternatively whizz everything together in the food processor) Spread evenly into the tin, roll flat.

Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours in a low oven, 140-150°C/Gas Mark 1-) or bake for 20-30 minutes in a moderate oven 180°C/Gas mark 4. It should be pale golden but fully cooked through. Cut into squares or fingers while still hot. Sprinkle with castor or vanilla sugar and allow to cool in the tin.

Blackberry Picking

I’m wandering along a narrow hilly boreen close to Lough Ine in West Cork. I’m making very slow progress because the tangled brambles in the hedgerows and along the stone walls are covered with blackberries, so tempting – looks like we’re going to have a bumper crop this year. There are also tons of rosehips and the promise of an abundant elderberry crop in a few weeks’ time.

Blackbirds and thrushes are eating so many blackberries at the moment that as I’ve just discovered, their droppings can actually stain clothes on a laundry line…a small price to pay for so much delicious free fruit, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and dietary fibres that are essential for optimum health. Blackberries are particularly rich in Vitamin C with adequate amounts of A, E and K and some B complex vitamins and for those who are concerned about these matters it’s good to know that they are low cal and considered by many to be a super food.

Altogether, enough good things to warrant arranging a blackberry picking expedition. Given half a chance they grow everywhere and anywhere in both urban and rural areas, from city parks and back gardens to country lane and mountain tops.

The sweet succulent berries are super versatile. Don’t just think jam and pies, use them in salads and sauces, autumn puddings, muffins, scones and cobblers, trifles, ice-creams, sorbets, scatter over breakfast cereals, add them to fools, crumbles and crisps. Make some wine, ratafias and cordials. Few fruits offer so many options. Blackberries also freeze brilliantly, if you have time and space, tray freeze first, spread them out on a tray in a single layer, when frozen solid toss into a plastic box or stout bag, cover and freeze immediately in usable quantities – just enough of a batch of jam, a pie, etc…when they are frozen and loose, it’s easy to take out a fistful at a time for a breakfast smoothie.

Cultivated blackberries also are big business with large quantities being flown in daily from North America and other temperate regions. They tend to be larger than the wild ones and unquestionably taste very good but I have to say it makes no kind of sense to me to pile your supermarket trolley high with imported blackberries during the Irish season.

Ironically, I overhead an extraordinary conversation in a supermarket queue just a few days ago. Although there are Irish commercial blackberries available, some customers were bemoaning the price of food and there in one of their trollies were two punnets of blackberries from North America, plus several other items that I seriously would be questioning the need for – none of my business and you’ll be glad to hear that I kept my thoughts severely to myself…..

Hot Tips
Celebrate the Autumn Harvest
Brooklodge and Macreddin Village are celebrating the Autumn Harvest. A delicious 9-course Autumn Harvest Tasting Menu in Ireland’s first certified Organic Restaurant – The Strawberry Tree in Brooklodge., Tel: 0402 36444

Taste of West Cork Food Festival Event
Dianne Curtin will host the round table ‘show and tell’ The Rare Cookery Books Workshop with a particular focus on Keith Floyd as part of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival.
Saturday 10th September at 4.30pm at Urru Culinary Store, Bandon. Booking is advised. €6 including light refreshment.
Phone: 023 885 4731

Sweet Woodruff
Also called wild baby’s breath can be found lying flat on the ground with strongly scented white petals. The scent increases on wilting and then persists on drying, and the dried plant is used in pot-pourri and as a moth deterrent. It is used mainly to flavour May wine (called “Maibowle” or “Maitrank” in German), sweet juice punch, syrup for beer, jam, ice cream, and herbal tea. Also very popular are flavoured jellies, with and without alcohol.

Not to be confused with dropwort, meadowsweet has a heavy fragrance and can be found along marshes, woods and meadows. The plant can be used to flavour wine, beer, and many vinegars. The flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, giving them a subtle almond flavor.

Blackberry Ice Cubes
Pop a fat juicy blackberry into each section of an ice cube tray, add a tiny sweet geranium or mint leaf if you have them to hand. Fill with cold water – freeze. Pop into a glass of dry white wine, homemade lemonade or champagne.

Blackberry or Raspberry and Sweet Geranium Sugar Squares

Another delicious way to use sweet geranium

Makes 24

175g soft butter
150g castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
175g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons freshly chopped sweet or rose geranium
225g blackberries or raspberries

50g castor sugar
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped rose geranium

25.5 x 18 cm Swiss roll tin, well-greased

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour and chopped sweet geranium into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well-buttered tin. Sprinkle the blackberries or raspberries as evenly as possible over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Allow to cool slightly, sprinkle with caster sugar whizzed with leaves of rose geranium. Serve in squares.

Crème de Mure (Blackberry Liquer)

Makes 2 litres (4 1/2 pints)

This recipe can also be made using blackcurrants in which case the name would change to ‘Crème de Cassis’.

Drink within 6 weeks.

1 1/2kg (3lb 5oz) ripe blackberries
2 litres (3 1/2 pints/8 3/4 cups) red wine
800g (1 3/4lbs/3 1/4 cups) granulated sugar, possibly more to taste
70cl (700ml/1 1/4 pints/generous 3 cups) brandy or vodka (unflavoured)

Pick over the blackberries, carefully removing bits of leaf or twig. Put into a stainless steel bowl.

Crush the fruit well with a potato masher. Pour on the red wine and stir well. Cover and leave to macerate for 48 hours, stirring from time to time.

Strain through a muslin bag into a stainless steel preserving pan. Squeeze the bag well to get the last of the liquid out.

Add the sugar and heat up gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is almost boiling. Simmer uncovered for about an hour until the liquid thickens and turns slightly syrupy. Stir occasionally.

Taste, and add a little more sugar if necessary. Allow to cool.

Add the spirit, stir well and pour into sterilised bottles. Seal and store in a cool place.

Serve well chilled in small glasses or with sparkling water and lots of ice.


Myrtle Allen’s Blackberry and Kirsch Soufflé Omelette

Ballymaloe guests loved this soufflé omelette which Myrtle put on the menu just a few times each year, during the blackberry season.

Serves 4

4 egg yolks
450g-680g caster sugar
Vanilla extract
6 egg whites
½ teaspoon butter
170 g soft fruit, blackberries
½ tablespoon kirsch
120 ml whipped cream
23cm non-stick pan

Whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold into the yolks (although I find it easier to fold the yolks into the whites). Heat the butter in a very clean non-stick pan. Pour in the egg mixture and cook over a low heat for 3 minutes. Do not stir. Finish cooking by putting the pan in a hot oven, 200°C/gas mark 6, for a further 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the fruit and 225 g sugar in a saucepan until just boiling. Remove from the heat and add the kirsch. Turn the omelette out onto parchment paper generously sprinkled with caster sugar. Spread with warm fruit and whipped cream. Quickly fold in two and slide onto a warm dish. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Rush to the table, it can deflate somewhat within a couple of minutes but still tastes wonderful.

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus)
When to Pick: late summer
All over the countryside every year, blackberries rot on the hedgerows. Think of all the wonderful jam that could be made – so full of vitamin C! This year, why not organise a blackberry-picking expedition and take a picnic. You’ll find it’s the greatest fun, and when you come home, one person could make a few scones while someone else is making the jam. The children could be kept out of mischief and gainfully employed drawing and painting homemade jam labels, with personal messages like ‘Amelia Peggy’s Jam – keep off!’, or ‘Grandma’s Blackberry Jam’. Then you can enjoy the results of your labours with a well-earned cup of tea.

Make sure you check the berries before you pop them into your mouth – if the core is discoloured rather than pale and unblemished, it usually means that the little crawly beasties have got there first, so it’s best to discard those. If you have the time and space, it’s really worth ‘tray freezing’ some of your harvest – that way all those little berries stay separate. A few small cartons close to the top of the freezer will come in handy to add to a sauce or gravy to partner a pheasant or a grouse later in the year.

Wild Blackberry, Apple and Rose Geranium Jam

Blackberries are famously low in pectin, so the tart apples help it to set and add extra flavour. Go foraging for blackberries in the early autumn before they’re over-ripe. Cultivated blackberries tend to be sweeter so you may need to reduce the sugar.

Makes about 10 x 450g (1lb) jars

900g (2lb) cooking apples (Bramley, or Grenadier in season) or crab apples
2.25kg (5lb) blackberries
1.8kg (4lb/8 cups) granulated sugar – since Ireland has gone over to cane sugar which appears to be more intensely sweet we reduced the sugar to 1.6kg/3 1/2lb. The intensity of sugar varies in different countries.
8 or more rose geranium leaves (Pelargonium graveolens)

Wash, peel, core and slice the apples. Stew them until soft in 225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) of water in a stainless-steel saucepan, then beat to a pulp.

Pick over the blackberries and put into a wide, stainless-steel saucepan or preserving pan and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the apple pulp and the heated sugar. Destalk and chop the geranium leaves and add. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring to the boil and cook steadily for about 15 minutes. Skim the jam, test it for a set and pot into warm, spotlessly clean jars. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.

Back to School

All the little dotes are back at school by now. Parents are breathing a sigh of relief, relishing a few peaceful hours to relax or to get on with a job that has been put on the long finger for several months but now instead there’s the daily school lunch challenge.

How to fill that box with exciting yet nourishing wholesome food that will be ‘acceptable’ to the kids themselves and not be ridiculed by their peers. Such a minefield – how can food have reached this stage? One ‘catty’ remark from an opionated friend can banish the raw carrots or crunchy radishes from the lunch box for ever.
90 plus % of kids want sandwiches, easy to pack, easy to eat but the quality of the daily bread is crucially important. The quality of most shop bought sliced bread both brown and white is worrying, squishy, doughy, fermented and in some cases under cooked with an interesting list of ingredients that one will certainly not find in the cupboard of any home baker. Believe me, bread is easy to make and it’s so important that the lunch box staple is nourishing of course. It’s best if it’s wholemeal loaf and this one, the recipe I’ve included here is a simple mix, pour and bake job.

However some kids simply won’t eat brown bread so here’s a white yeast bread loaf that’s mixed in minutes, allowed to rise for another quarter hour or so in a loaf tin and then baked in your oven for ? .

It doesn’t rise as high or feel as fluffy as the well-known brands but the flavour and texture will ‘blow your socks off’. It’s real bread made with just four ingredients, flour, salt, yeast and water, rather than a possible 15 that can be included in a commercial sliced pan.

Which brings me to Derval O’Rourke, our very own Cork World Champion. Derval not only knows a thing or two about keeping fit but also knows that winning is all about food. Our energy, vitality, ability to concentrate and perform depends so much on the food we choose to eat. Derval believes that the secret to being your healthiest happiest self is to eat well and keep moving. Derval discovered the importance of nutrition as an elite athlete. After a poor performance in the 2004 Olympics she learned about food, fell in love with cooking – and then won a world title in her sport, hurdling. She believes eating well made all the difference to her form. Now that Derval is retired from athletics and is a busy young mum, her focus is on fitting exercise and healthy, pleasurable eating into a hectic schedule. Derval’s second book, The Fit Foodie, the sequel to her bestselling Food in the Fast Lane has recently been published by Penguin to more critical acclaim.

It’s packed with simple, family recipes, the sort of food you’ll really want to cook and share with your family and friends like Five Minute Muesli, Quinoa Salad with toasted walnuts and blue cheese, Laid back lamb tagine, Fit foodie noodle pots….Trish Deseine’s chocolate fondant cake…I also love Derval’s sweet and chatty style, little nuggets of info and sage advice about everything from how to make a brilliant cup of coffee to her favourite workout or cooking, play lists – well now there’s a new one for a cook book and why not.

The Fit Foodie’s fundamentals at the end of the book is worth the price of the book alone – check it out and thank you Derval – I suspect this book will become a favourite on many people’s kitchen shelf and there are many other great suggestions suitable for lunch boxes.


Entertaining with Darina and Rory, Monday 5th September
Darina and her brother Rory O’ Connell will teach a 2½ day cookery course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School starting on Monday 5th September. Their ‘Simply Delicious Christmas’ shows which aired on RTE 1 in 2014 and 2015 were a huge success, and are a flavour of what can be expected on this course. We guarantee plenty of fun and, of course, a little sibling rivalry for good measure!

Long Table Dinner 2016
Ballymaloe Cookery School’s ‘Dinner in the Glasshouse’ is now an annual event, held under the canopy of our extensive glasshouses. Our culinary team dream up an inspiring menu based on seasonal, local, organic ingredients. One of the main purposes of this annual event is to give recognition and exposure to our own growers and also the many Irish artisan food producers, suppliers and chefs who are striving to provide us with the finest quality organic food products. Proceeds from the Glasshouse Dinner goes to Slow Food which helps with the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project.
Friday 9th September.

Feel Good Food, Let’s Cook with Debbie Shaw
Debbie Shaw is a nutritionist and teacher here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Debbie believes that whole, natural foods have the power to heal, boost energy, vitality, keep us youthful, healthy and happy….. In this 1½ day cookery course, Debbie will teach a wide range of recipes inspired from the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Irish and Asian influences for long term health including raw food, fermentation…
Midleton Food Festival, Summer Supper Club at Ballymaloe House
Louise Bannon, ex NOMA chef, will cook a pop up dinner at Ballymaloe House on Monday 5th September.
Cocktails in the Garden at 7pm followed by 3 course dinner with wine at 8pm. Tickets are €65.00, booking essential 021 4652 53.

A Taste of West Cork Food Festival
Foraging at Turk Head with Madeline McKeever and April Danann on Saturday 10th September at 2pm.
Meet the Producer: – Roaring Water Sea Vegetable Farm on Monday 12th September at 12pm. Peppermint Farm at 2pm.

Our Farms, Our Food, Our Future Forum …discussing the interdependence between modern farming, food production, practices and health…Monday 12th September 3pm at West Cork Hotel, Skibbereen

Mix and Bake Brown Loaf

Even if you never made a loaf in your life, you can make this , just mix and pour into a well-greased tin. This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

400g (14ozs/2 1/2 cups) Macroom stone ground wholemeal flour or a wholemeal flour of your choice
75g (3ozs/3/4 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 egg, preferably free range
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) arachide or sunflower oil, unscented
1 teaspoon honey or treacle
425ml (15fl ozs/scant 2 cups) buttermilk or sourmilk approx.

sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)

Loaf tin 23×12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey and buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approximately, or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Seedy Bread
Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

The quantity of buttermilk can vary depending on thickness. Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream to low-fat buttermilk (optional).

Ballymaloe Simple White Yeast Bread (One Rising)

There is no kneading involved in this recipe and only one rising so it is a brilliant introduction to using yeast.

When making yeast bread, remember that yeast is a living organism. In order to grow, it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide which expand in the heat oven the oven and rise the dough.

Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. Heat of over 50ËšC will kill yeast.

White or brown sugar, honey, golden syrup, treacle or molasses may be used. Each will give a slightly different flavour to the bread. At Ballymaloe we use treacle for Brown Yeast Bread and honey for this easy White Yeast Bread. The dough rises more rapidly with 15g (1/2oz) fresh yeast.

Different flours produce breads of different textures and flavour. The amount of natural moisture in the flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead – in fact it does not require kneading.

Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.

Makes 1 loaf

450g (1lb) strong white flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
15g (1/2oz) fresh non-GM yeast
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) water at blood heat

sesame seeds – optional

1 x 2lb (900g) loaf tin – well brushed with sunflower oil

In a wide, roomy bowl, mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the honey with the water, and crumble in the yeast.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place, (kitchen temperature fine) to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 3-4 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.

When ready, stir and pour it, into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be just too wet to knead.

Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tin with a good quality sunflower oil. Scoop the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming.

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

Just as the bread comes almost to the top of the tin, about 15-20 minutes, (time varies depending on room temperature). Remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for another 40-50 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges.

We usually remove the loaf from the tin about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there’s no need to do this.
Cool on a wire rack.

This bread doesn’t look like a pan-loaf, it will be relatively flat on top.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Five Minute Muesli

Shop bought muesli can be full of sugar and other additives, as well as being overpriced. Take five minutes to make a batch of this muesli instead. It’s delicious served with milk or as a topping for fruit and yoghurt. I love to eat it with whatever fresh berries are in season. When it’s winter, frozen berries are great – just remember to defrost from the night before. The chia seeds and goji berries are super foods that will help to support your immune system. And the oats will keep you full all morning. This muesli stores well in an airtight container for about a week.

Makes 7 big portions

350 g jumbo porridge oats
150 g chia seeds
150 g mixed seeds (pumpkin and sunflower work well)
90 g whole dried goji berries
90 g ground linseed

Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer the muesli to an airtight container.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Quinoa Salad with Toasted Nuts and Blue Cheese

Since my fridge is never without a big batch of cooked quinoa, I tend to eat quinoa based salads. I usually have a good stash of toasted nuts in the cupboard too. This means that I always have the basics at hand for interesting and nutritious lunches. Don’t be put off by the blue cheese in this recipe. Even if you think you don’t like it, you might be surprised at how well it complements the other flavours in this superfood salad.

Serves 2

125 g cooked quinoa
Handful of baby spinach
2 tablespoons toasted nuts (almonds, pinenuts, cashews work well)
2 tablespoons seeds (pumpkin and sunflower work well)
25 g blue cheese, crumbled
Handful of blueberries
½ pomegranate, seed only
Handful of mint leaves, chopped

For the dressing
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon natural yoghurt
Juice of ½ lime
Pinch of sea salt

Place the quinoa, spinach, nuts and seeds in a serving bowl and mix well.
Place all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar with a lid and shake to combine. Pour this dressing over the quinoa salad and toss well. Crumble over the blue cheese. Scatter over the blueberries, pomegranate seeds and mint. The salad is ready to serve.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Posh Nuts

Posh Nuts are one of my favourite evening treats. Their fiery and delicious and it takes less than 20 minutes to make a batch. You can leave these nuts to cool completely – but if you eat them when they’re still warm from the oven, they really hit the spot!

Serves 2

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup
150 g mixed nuts (Brazil, hazelnuts and pecans work well)
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary)
1 teaspoon chili flakes
½ teaspoon sea salt

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

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Stir in the agave syrup. Take the pan off the heat and toss in the nuts. Stir well to coat the nuts evenly. Sprinkle over the rosemary, chilli, salt and stir well. Spread the nuts on a baking tray. Roast for about 12 minutes, turning once. Leave the nuts to cool on the tray or serve them hot straightaway.

Derval O’ Rourke’s Booster Bars

Whether you go for a brisk walk, a jog or full on session at the gym, there’s nothing as tasty as a post workout treat that you’ve made yourself. These bars are particularly good for giving you a boost. The oats are full of fibre rich complex carbohydrates and the nuts are full of protein. These elements combine to keep you fuller for longer. These bars are far more economical than shop bought energy bars and they keep for several days in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to be really organised, you can bake a big batch and then wrap and freeze individual bars. Then just grab a bar from the freezer and bring it in your bag so that you have a health treat for later in the day.

Makes 12 bars

6 ripe bananas, mashed
120 ml agave syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
240 g porridge oats
100 g dried fruit (dates and apricots work well)
60 g ground flaxseed
60 g hazelnuts, chopped
60 g pecans, chopped
60 g pumpkin seeds
60 g sunflower seeds

Line a 33cm x 23 cm metal baking tin with parchment paper so that the paper overlaps the sides. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Use a food processor or whisk to mix the bananas, agave syrup and coconut oil. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking tin and spread out evenly, pressing down with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and firm. Remove from the oven and leave to cook for about 30 minutes. To remove from the tin, take hold of the parchment paper and simply lift out the slab. Cut the slab into bars and store in the fridge or freezer.

Any New Finds in London?

Any new finds in London? – a regular question from readers and friends. How lucky are we to live close to what may well be the most exciting food capital in the world, cosmopolitan and totally multi ethnic, it’s certainly up there with the best, so whether you feel like classic French or Ethiopian, Turkish or Sicilian, Basque, Lebanese, Tunisian, Moroccan, Burmese, Vietnamese, Thai, Uzbekistani, Russian, Roman, Scandinavian, Romanian…..Texas, BBQ or great modern British – it’s all there. Never enough meal slots to get to all the places on my ‘must try’ list.

On a recent visit I got to Palomar in Rupert Street in the heart of Theatreland. I’ve been wanting to go for ages but could never get a table. This time I just chipped up and scored a seat at the zinc counter with a brilliant view of the cocktail bar and the open kitchen.

Palomar serves the food of modern day Jerusalem, the menu is influence by the rich cultures of southern Spain, North Africa and the Levant but it’s not just the food that excites. The atmosphere is joyous and exhilarating. The chefs are really having fun and seem to be enjoying themselves hugely as they cook to the beat of the funky playlist. It’s loud, bustling and audacious and the enthusiasm is utterly infectious. Not the sort of place I might normally gravitate towards but I loved it.

Lots of small plates of irresistible food to choose from. Even though the portions are small, perfect for me, there’s a limit to what one can eat and there are many more tempting dishes to choose from.

I loved the Kubaneh – soft tender Yemeni bread served in a tin with tahini and a tomato, cumin and chilli dip.
Fattoush salad was made with challah croutons, tomato, cucumber, red onion, za’atar, sumac and brazil nuts on a bed of creamy labneh.

The chefs use a Josper grill and plancha for many of their dishes. Don’t miss the polenta Jerusalem style with mushroom ragu, parmesan and truffle oil. Shakshurkit, turned out to be a deconstructed kebab with super tasting mincemeat, yoghurt, tahini, several toppings and Yaeli’s pitta and I also fitted in roast octopus with chickpea msabacha and cherry tomato confit. Sounds like a lot of food but fortunately the dishes were small.
More unbearable choices for dessert, Malabi – rose scented milk pudding with fresh raspberry sauce, coconut meringue batons and kataifi.
Doesn’t that sound super delicious, well it was but so too was the orange blossom ice cream with the pistachio and crispy kataifi.

The Dairy in Clapham was also on my wish list for some time. Here Irish chef, Robin Gill has covered the roof of the old Victorian Dairy with a plastic crate garden that produces fresh herbs, vegetables and edible flowers for the kitchen. Gill’s wife Sarah looks after the front of the house. Robin worked with Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quate Saisons in Oxford and also did a stint at Noma. He was head chef at Almeida in Islington and Sauterelle in the city.

Again, many small plates of deliciousness from the Gardens, Sea and Land. We lunched outside overlooking Clapham Common and tasted over a dozen delicious little bites, starting with those gorgeous plump Nocellara del belice green olives, house cured meats and crusty sourdough bread. There was Cornish crab with potato crisps and wakame, bone marrow agnolotti, peas, girolles, and summer truffle, charred mackerel with wild garlic dashi, pickled cucumber and oyster leaves. Lady Hamilton’s Pollock, marsh samphire and brandade was also memorable. And there was much much more.

Robin is a seriously accomplished chef with a passion for flavour, the seasons, wild foods and roof top herbs. The Dairy is also definitely worth a detour.
Another two of my favourite London restaurants, Duck Soup in Soho and Raw Duck in Hackney have recently published a cookbook of their simple eminently do-able recipes. The sort of food that you just love to eat, cook and serve to your family and friends.

Some of the lively fresh tasting dishes don’t even need to be cooked…..a triumph of good ingredients judiciously combined. It’s called The Wisdom of Simple Cooking – Ducksoup Cookbook by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill -here’s a taste

Cucumber, Pomegranate, Tomato and Za’atar Fattoush with Labneh and Tahini

Can be served as a starter or main course. A delicious combination, but toss gently, otherwise the feta will break up, and the end result will look far from appetizing. I sprinkle blue cornflower petals over this salad in season, red, yellow and orange nasturtium flowers are also lovely.
This recipe is not carved in stone, add a few fresh radishes and some purslane if available. Many countries have a version of this salad, an ingenious way to use up stale bread – Tortilla salad in Mexico, Panzanella in Tuscany.

Serves 4

1 pitta bread, split in half – 100g approx. or 2 slices of challah
extra virgin olive oil
1 Little Gem lettuce
1 small or ½ large cucumber, split lengthwise and cut at an angle – 140g
3 ripe tomatoes, 150g different varieties
½ red onion, sliced
150g feta or bocconini
2 tablespoons chopped annual marjoram
2 tablespoons flat parsley, roughly chopped
2 teaspoon za’atar
1 teaspoon sumac
Pomegranate seeds, 4 tablespoons (about ½)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Good pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4

Brush the rounds of pitta or challah with extra virgin olive oil and toast until slightly golden, 10-12 minutes, break into bite-sized bits, 5-7mm- not too small.
Wash and dry the Little Gem leaves and slice into long strips. Split the cucumber lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and cut across the grain at an angle. Cut the tomatoes into different bite-sized shapes, wedges, chunks, slices, dice. Crumble the feta into largish pieces.
To serve:
Choose a wide bowl, put the pitta, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and sliced red onion into the bowl, sprinkle with the marjoram, parsley and za’atar, Whisk the dressing and pour over, toss gently, add a few cubes of feta. Taste and correct seasoning.
Spoon a generous tablespoon of soft labneh onto each shallow plate, top with a helping of Fattoush. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and remaining cubes of feta.
Alternatively serve on a large platter family style

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Crab Fettucine Tomato and Bush Basil

Serves 2

150 g datterini, cherry or plum tomatoes on the vine
2 tablespoons extra virgin oil plus extra for drizzling
1 clove garlic
80 g brown crab meat
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
160 g fresh fettucine, or used dreed
80 g white crab meat
Juice of half a lemon
Few bush basil sprigs (or regular basil torn)

Bring a large of salted water to the boil. Heat a frying pan until smoking, then add the tomatoes, drop of olive oil and pinch of salt.
Give the pan a little shake here and there and fry for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to blister and burn slightly.

Once amply blistered, pour onto the plate and set aside.

Gently heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Meanwhile thinly slice the garlic using mandolin slicer – using the guard – and add to the pan (or if you prefer you can slice the garlic by hand but as thinly as possible).

As soon as the garlic starts to turn golden, add the tomatoes and all the juice. Give them a quick stir and then add the brown crab meat and chilli flakes.

Stir together and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes.

While this is cooking add the fresh pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes (if using dried pasta, check the instruction on the packet) Drain the pasta, keeping a couple of tablespoons of pasta water, and add to the tomatoes and crab pasta with a little pasta water.

Season with salt, you don’t need pepper because of the chilli flakes). Add the white crab meat and use tongs to mound the pasta up towards you so that you thoroughly coat the pasta with the sauce. Squeeze in the lemon juice and divide between two plates.

To serve, sprinkle over the basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil.

Ducksoup Cookbook Clare Lattin and Tom Hill

Clare Lattin and Tom Hill’s Flat White Peach, Goat’s Curd and Purple Basil

This is sunshine on a plate! As long as you use the best ingredients you’ll immediately find yourself transported to summer sunshine – this is a dish that requires perfectly ripe peaches. Serve this dish with crusty bread to mop up the juices – you could even have a plate of prosciutto alongside to help it on its way. If you can’t find purple basil (which has a more interesting flavour) try bush basil or regular basil.

Serves 2

4 white peaches (we use flat variety also known as sauterne peaches)
Juice of half lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
120 g goat’s curd
8-10 basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Over a bowl, so that you can catch all the juices, tear the peaches in half and remove the stones, then roughly tear each half in two (or leave some whole if you want). Drop them into the bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil and a little pinch of salt and toss everything together.
Let it fall out of the bowl onto two plates, along with all the dressing. Add a spoon of goat’s curd to each plate and tear over the basil leaves. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper and a dash of olive oil.
Ducksoup Cookbook by Clare Lattin and Tom Hill


Robin Gill’s Garden Courgette with Smoked Buffalo Milk Curd and Roof Top Honey

Serves 4


4 courgettes with flowers
1 bunch fresh basil
1 clove garlic
20g aged Parmesan
10 g extra virgin olive oil
Fresh black pepper
10g toasted pumpkin seeds
5 Nocellara Del Belice olives
4 tablespoons of good quality honey

Smoked buffalo curd
500ml buffalo milk
25g double cream
10g buttermilk
Pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon

2g vegetable rennet
A hand full of dried hay

The first step is to make the curd, first place all ingredients apart from the hay and rennet into a container. Next toast the hay in a pre-heated oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 until it is an amber colour all over and has started to smoke, carefully remove the smoking hay from the oven and pour the mixed milk mix over the smoking hay and leave to infuse for 30 minutes, next strain the mix through a fine mix into a clean pot and add the rennet. Best place it over a low heat and bring the mix up to 36oC. (The mix should be just warm on the finger tip) transfer the mix into a suitable sized container and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Courgette and basil purée
Take 2 of the courgettes, cut into quarters and then slice across into thin fine pieces. Pick half a bunch of basil and reserve the best leaves for garnish later. Take a medium sized pan and add a good drissle of olive oil, add the garlic and follow quickly with the sliced courgette, stir and add a spoon of water and place a lid over the pan to help create steam, after 2 minutes add the basil and finally the grated Parmesan, place the mix into a blender and blend until smooth, place the mix in a bowl over iced water to cool quickly to keep the bright green colour.

Slice the remaining courgettes thinly lengthways, place in a bowl with the flowers torn into quarters season with salt, black pepper, lemon juice and olive oil to taste, spoon the courgette purée generously around each plate, scatter the courgettes and flowers alternatively around each plate, add a couple of olive pieces, a couple of spoons of the smoked curd, finish with fresh basil and a good spoon of your favourite honey.

Hot Tips
Taste of West Cork Food Festival runs from 9th-18th September and brings a unique mix of food markets, demonstrations, competitions, dinners, brunches and banquets, food-tastings, talks, exhibitions, children’s events….don’t miss Foraging at Glebe Gardens, Carmel Somers’ demonstration and much more….

Date for the Diary
Feast in the East Midleton Food and Drinks Festival, 4th 10th September 2016 – lots of exciting events planned. Details to follow on the web

Organic Growers in UK

It’s surely a decade and a half since we came over to the UK to visit organic growers, beautiful gardens, farm shops, Farmers Markets, farmhouse cheese makers…. Last time there was a tremendous air of optimism, demand for organic produce was growing, prices were more or less viable but now, 15 years later, in the wake of Brexit, there is quite a different mood tethering between despair and resignation.

There seems to be huge confusion amongst farmers about what on earth to grow or produce to actually manage to ‘earn a crust’

Helen Browning of Eastbook Farm in Wiltshire is the biggest organic pig farmer in the UK with 200 sows and their happy piglets chasing each other gleefully around the fields on her beautiful farm near Bishopstone close to Swindon.

Most of the pork goes into her range of juicy organic sausages and hotdogs and is also served on the menu at The Royal Oak, the pub she and her partner Tim Finney bought partly to revitalize the local village. This really resonated with me because for three days we’d been wending our way through beautiful Cotswold villages, all hollyhocks and roses with honey coloured granite houses and Farrow and Ball colours but often not a shop, pub or even a post office in sight.

Here in Ireland the decision to cap the size of retail outlets and not to allow large supermarkets to be built in green field sites, has, I wouldn’t quite say saved but at least protected the livelihood of many of our smaller shop keepers and kept many of our villages alive.

In Southrop, I stayed at Thyme, a beautiful country house with an excellent cooking school near the tiny village of Lechade. It too has a pub with excellent food, even plates of hand cut pasta negra. Not all pubs in the UK have good food but many have and occasionally a comfy, couple of reasonably priced rooms.

We also loved The Plough in Kingham where Emily Watkins’s food draws people from far and wide to yet another beautiful village with no shop. For breakfast, as well as homemade jams, marmalades and a generous fry of local bacon, handmade sausages, home grown tomatoes and good eggs, they serve sweet little drop scones.

In the UK baked beans are a favourite part of a breakfast fry. At Thyme they made their own with fat Judion beans cooked in tomato sauce served with a thick slice of their own hand cut ham and a fried egg. Another tasty brunch dish. I also enjoyed little dill crumpets with smoked salmon, crème fraiche and dill sprigs, a light and delicious start to the day.

Another cool idea for an ice cream combination, raspberry and beetroot, came from the ice cream booth at the super cool Jolly Nice Farm Shop not far from Stroud. Here two young chaps bought a disused gas station and built a covered Farm shop underneath the canopy selling fresh herbs, organic meat, spanking vegetables, fruit, local cheeses and a whole range of carefully chosen deli products as well as craft beers and natural wines. There was a takeout café with fresh edgy food to eat at picnic tables in the meadow behind the shop or in one of two super cool yurts with stoves in case it got chilly. What a super idea. Another of my favourites was the Roth Bar and Grill at Hauser & Wirth in Bruton for both art, sculpture and food lovers. This is definitely a place to add to your ‘must do’ list check out.

Among many good things, I particularly remember a lemon curd muffin that I enjoyed with a superb cup of coffee. There’s a Martin Creed exhibition on there at present as well as several spectacular sculptures by Subodh Gupta.
This is Somerset, deep in Cheddar country, iconic cheese makers like Montgomery and Keen’s are close by.
If you are in the area check out Westcombe Cheddar where I saw the world’s first Cheddar cheese turning robot in action, see timanddarina on Instagram.
You will also be close to the village Alhampton so vegetable, fruit and herb growers or wannabe growers may want to check whether Charles Dowding of ‘No Dig’ Gardening fame is giving a course.

Hot Tips

Date for your Diary
Don’t miss the fun at the fourth annual Ballymaloe Garden Festival which takes place on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 of September 2016 on the grounds of Ballymaloe House. The weekend will bloom with talks, walks, workshops, demonstrations, food and fun designed to stimulate and excite rookie and veteran gardeners alike. All events are included in the €8 admission, children under 16 go free.

The attributes of raw milk become increasingly evident as a growing body of research indicates the enhanced health benefits.
It can be difficult to find but the good news is Dan and Ann Aherne from Ballysimon utside Midleton now sell their beautiful organic raw cow’s milk in glass bottles from their stall at both Midleton Farmers Market, Saturdays 9am-2pm and Mahon Point Farmers Market on Thursday from 10am-3pm – get there early it sells out fast. Tel: 086 165 9258

Dill Pancakes with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche

Serves 8

Savoury Pancake

Makes 12 pancakes

110g (4ozs/1 cup) self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
110ml (4fl ozs/1/2 cup) milk
drop of sunflower oil, for greasing

2 tablespoons chopped dill
8 slices of smoked salmon
Crème fraiche
Dill sprigs

28cm (11in) frying pan

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the sugar and salt and stir to mix. Make a well in the centre, crack in the egg and whisk, gradually drawing in the flour from the edge. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the time, to form a smooth batter.

Lightly grease a frying pan and warm it over a moderate heat. Drop 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, keeping well apart so they don’t stick together. Cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface and begin to burst and the drop scones are golden underneath, then flip them over and cook on the other side for a minute or until golden on this side as well.

Remove from the pan and serve warm on a hot plate with a ruffle of thin slices of smoked salmon, a dollop of crème fraiche and a few sprigs of dill.

Roth Bar and Grill Lemon Curd Muffins

Makes 12

170 g (6 oz) unsalted butter

310 g (11 oz) castor sugar

4 organic eggs

600 g (1¼ lb) self raising flour

300 ml (½ pint) whole milk

a pinch of fine salt

Lemon Curd

Tangy delicious lemon curd can be made in a twinkling, smear it over a sponge or onto fresh bread, buttery scones or meringues. It is best eaten within a fortnight.

Makes 2 x 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) jars

2oz (50g/1/2 stick) butter
3 1/2oz (100g/scant 1/2 cup) caster sugar
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 organic eggs and 1 organic egg yolk whisked (keep white aside for meringue)

Grease and line a 12 muffin tin with greaseproof paper cups

Preheat the oven to 175ËšC/325ËšF/gas mark 3.

First make the muffins. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add a beaten egg, one a time until well incorporated into the butter/sugar mix. Gently mix in the flour and salt. Then add the milk, mix well.

Bake for 25-28 minutes in a fan oven. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Next make the lemon curd. Melt the butter on a very low heat. Add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice and then add the whisked eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat with a straight ended wooden spatula until the mixture coats the back it. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or sterilized jar (it will thicken further as it cools.)

Cut a hole on the top of each cooled muffin. Use a piping bag to pipe the lemon curd into each muffin until oozing out of the top. Delicious with a cup of good coffee!

Emily Watkin’s Dark Chocolate and Cherry Arctic Roll

Serves 6

Flourless Chocolate Sponge
5 egg yolks
85g caster sugar
10g cocoa powder
45g melted dark chocolate
3 egg whites

Cherry ice-cream
650g fresh cherry fruit puree
225g caster sugar
125ml double cream

For the flourless chocolate sponge
Pre heat the oven to 190C.

Line a large flat baking tray with baking parchment. Whisk the yolks and sugar to make a sabayon (pale and volumised). Sift the cocoa into the yolks and sugar. Add the chocolate. Whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Take a large spoon of the whites and mix into the chocolate base. Fold the whisked egg whites into the other ingredients. Pour onto the baking tray and bake for 6 minutes. Leave to cool.

For the Cherry Ice cream
First pit the cherries, blitz, then pass through a sieve.
Bring the sugar and cream to a simmer and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into the cherry puree. Churn in an ice cream maker or freeze in a bowl, stirring every half hour. (or you can freeze in ice cubes and then place in a food processor to blend into an ice cream).

To make the arctic roll
Place a roll of cling film on a chopping board. Carefully turn the chocolate sponge onto the cling film. Place the ice cream onto the cling film. Use the cling film to help roll the sponge and ice cream into a log. Tie the cling film at the ends. Place back in the freezer until needed.

To serve:
Cut the log into individual portions and dust with a little cocoa powder. Serve with fresh cherries.

Beetroot and Raspberry Ice-Cream

Serves 6

225g (8oz) fresh raspberries
225g (8oz) cooked ruby beetroot
175g (6oz / 3/4 cup) sugar
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) water
1 teaspoon gelatine
600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) whipped cream

fresh raspberries and fresh mint leaves

Puree and sieve the raspberries. Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil for 2 minutes, sponge the gelatine in 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) water and dissolve in a saucepan of simmering water. Puree the cooked beetroot with the syrup, allow to cool. Then add the raspberry purée, add a little to the gelatine and then mix the two together. Fold in whipped cream and freeze in a covered container.

To Serve
Scoop out the ice-cream, serve on chilled plates. Decorate with fresh raspberries and mint leaves.

Taste of Istanbul

I spent a few days recently on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, I taught a course here at the Cookery School entitled ‘A Taste of Istanbul’. Ironically it coincided with the coup and subsequent unrest in Turkey so for me it was a bitter sweet experience. The course was inspired by the delicious food we ate on our trip to Istanbul last year.
I longed to share my experience and favourite recipes and stories of the places we visited and the Turkish people we met. Everywhere I went people heard I was interested in the food they cooked for me and shared family recipes.

One guide in Cappadocia brought us home and cooked a delicious goat stew from his village and a bulgur pilaff from cracked wheat milled in the local water mill.
Another family brought out Granny to give me cooking classes, the flavour of the food still lingers in my memory as does the warmth and kindness of the Turkish people everywhere we went. I remember a gentle potter who made beautiful utilitarian pots including a vase like pot in which a mutton stew is traditionally cooked in the embers of a wood burning oven. The stew was brought to the dining room in the sealed pot by the cook who knocked the top off neatly with a hammer at the table and poured the intensely flavoured stew onto the plate. He also made unglazed pots specially for yoghurt, I bought one home and the yoghurt we make in this clay pot is quite exceptional.

The street food in Istanbul was intriguing, some like doner kebab, kokerec, barbequed sheep’s intestines is not easy to reproduce but we make a delicious lahmacun, a Turkish lamb pizza eaten with lots of flat parsley and lemon that everyone loves.
I brought back several bags of urfa biber, the red Turkish pepper that’s virtually an essential seasoning and that immediately gives a dish an authentic taste.
Istanbul on the Bosphorus straddles two continents so its food is a fascinating and delicious mix of European and Asian flavours and techniques.

I particularly remember the fishermen in anoraks and woolly hats with their long rods fishing over the Galata bridge and the delicious fresh fish sandwiches balik ekmek, literally ‘fish bread’ from the stalls the Karaköy edge of fish market on the Bosphorous.

We made a delicious variation with fresh Ballycotton mackerel that everyone loved. They also enjoyed the comforting mercimek, a simple rice and lentil soup that’s put together in minutes, kids love it too.

The markets in Istanbul are packed with spices, dried fruit, vegetables and herbs, candies, Turkish delight, halva, wild honey and baklava in very shape and form.
We cooked several sweet and savoury dishes with filo pastry and the related künefe a shredded filo pastry that cooks to a golden crunch.

Here’s a recipe for a terrific dinner party and a welcome change from Pavlova.

Hot Tips
Date for the Diary
Don’t miss the Taste of Donegal Food Festival which runs from August 26th for three days. Lots of cookery demonstrations, wine and beer tastings, meet local food producers and taste their produce….

Mehmet’s Cappadocian Goat or Lamb Stew

The goat meat s from Mehmet’s village was butchered by himself – the flavour was intense and delicious. Shoulder of lamb or mutton can be used if goat is not available.

Serves 4-6

800g (1 3/4lbs) goat’s meat or lamb, with lots of fat, cut into 2cm (¾ inch) cubes
350g (12oz) onions, finely chopped
5-7 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
a pinch of chilli powder, biber chilli
4 ripe tomatoes cut in segments
1 Hungarian red pepper, 2cm (3/4 inch) dice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of Kekik – a Cappadocian mountain herb, perhaps we could use thyme leaves

bulgar pilaf (see recipe)
a bowl of natural yoghurt

Cut the goat meat into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes.

Heat a saute pan or shallow wok (satita) over a medium heat.

First cook a few pieces of fat until it starts to render. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or so. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the diced pepper, cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the chopped onions and garlic cloves. Cook for another 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the tomatoes and a little chilli powder. Add a little kekik or maybe substitute thyme leaves (3 teaspoons).

Add 200ml (7floz/1 scant cup) hot water, to about half way up, cover the pan or wok and continue to cook for 30-40 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning.

Serve with bulgur pilaf and a bowl of natural yoghurt.

Bulgur pilaf
The bulgur that Mehmet used was home-grown and ground in a water powered mill.
Serves 4-6
45g (1½ oz) butter
450g (1lb) bulgur wheat
freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add bulgur and stir to coat. Then add salt and enough cold water to barely cover the top. Cover the saucepan and cook for five minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer into a hot serving dish.
Melt some butter in a separate pan, allow to brown. Pour over the bulgur and serve with goat stew.

Balik Ekmek (Mackerel Fish Bread)
At the Eminou end of the Galata bridge over the Bosphorus in Istanbul, you’ll find the Karaköy Fish Market and boats selling balik ekmek. The name literally means ‘fish bread’, a simple sandwich of freshly grilled fish seasoned with salt and Turkish red pepper, served with sliced onion, lettuce, maybe some tomato and or pepper salad and a wedge of lemon. The Turks love mackerel but other fresh fish can also be used.

Different vendors do variations on the theme, the secret is spanking fresh fish, freshly grilled.

Serves 6

6 fillets of super fresh mackerel
extra virgin olive oil
Turkish biber pepper or sumac
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Turkish Tomato Salad

Serves 6

1 small red onion
1-2 teaspoons sumac
6 very ripe tomatoes
flat parsley, coarsely chopped
1-2 tablespoons (1 1/4 – 2 1/2 American tablespoons) lemon juice
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

little Gem lettuce

Parsley, Caper and Spring Onion Mayonnaise (see recipe)

4 x 6 rolls or 4 x 15cm (6 inch) pieces of small baguette.

First make the mayonnaise (see recipe).

Season the fish with salt and sprinkle with biber pepper or sumac.

Next make the tomato salad.
Half the red onion,slice, sprinkle with salt and sumac and work well into the onion slices with your hands. Allow to sit while you chop the tomatoes coarsely. Add to the bowl with the roughly chopped parsley. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice. Toss, taste and correct the seasoning – you may need a pinch of sugar.

To serve
Heat the pan-grill on a high flame.

Split the bread in half and pan-grill on the crumb side.

Pan-grill the mackerel first, flesh-side down, turn over when nicely marked and golden and then cook on the skin-side until crisp.

Spread a little herb mayonnaise on the cut sides of the bread. Top with a piece of pan-grilled fish and a portion of tomato salad. Add a leaf or two of lettuce, either Little Gem or Lollo Rossa. Serve immediately on a little tray or a piece of brown or greaseproof paper.

Basic Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is what we call a ‘mother sauce’ in culinary jargon. In fact it is the ‘mother’ of all the cold emulsion sauces, so once you can make a Mayonnaise you can make any of the daughter sauces by just adding some extra ingredients.
I know it is very tempting to reach for the jar of ‘well-known brand’ but most people don’t seem to be aware that Mayonnaise can be made even with a hand whisk, in under five minutes, and if you use a food processor the technique is still the same but it is made in just a couple of minutes. The great secret is to have all your ingredients at room temperature and to drip the oil very slowly into the egg yolks at the beginning. The quality of your Mayonnaise will depend totally on the quality of your egg yolks, oil and vinegar and it’s perfectly possible to make a bland Mayonnaise if you use poor quality ingredients.

2 egg yolks, preferably free range
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of English mustard or 1/4 teaspoon French mustard
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) white wine vinegar
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) oil (sunflower or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 175ml (6fl oz3/4 cup) sunflower oil and 50ml (2fl oz1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

Serve with cold cooked meats, fowl, fish, eggs and vegetables.

Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the mustard, salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Taste and add a little more seasoning and vinegar if necessary.

If the Mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled Mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.

Parsley and Caper Spring Onion Mayonnaise
Add 1 tablespoon each of chopped parsley, spring onions and 1 teaspoon of chopped tiny capers and add to the basic homemade mayonnaise.

Sumac (Rhus corioria) – the sour berries of a shrub that grows wild throughout Anatolia. They may be steeped in water and the juice expressed, or ground and used to give a sour note to meat and vegetable dishes. Sumac can be bought in Middle Eastern shops, or use lemon juice as a substitute.

Red pepper (Biber) – an essential item in Turkish cooking. It is available powdered or coarsely ground and the taste is not as hot as cayenne nor as mild as paprika. A combination of the two may be used as a substitute. Red pepper appears on the table as a condiment instead of black or white pepper.

Merjemec Chorba

(rice, lentil and lemon soup)

Serves 4-6

1 medium onion.
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) olive oil.
1 cup red lentils
4oz (100g/1/2 cup) long grain rice.
2 1/2 – 3 1/4 pints (6-8 cups) cold water (vegetable or chicken stock)
1-2 lemons

Sweat the onion in the olive oil until soft.
Add lentils, rice, salt and water.

Simmer with a lid on for about 15 minutes until the rice and lentils are fully cooked. Add lemon juice to taste.

Note – we like to add a little biber pepper and some fresh herbs (1 heaped teaspoon each of marjoram and thyme leaves, chopped) but the basic soup is comforting and homely.
May require a little more chicken stock at the end.


These round, flatbread pizzas are much thinner and crispier than Pide. They become addictive, one never seems to be enough…….

Makes 4

7g (1/4oz) dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) warm water
500g (18oz/generous 4 cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
a little extra virgin olive oil
polenta, for dusting
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
110g (4oz) onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon (1 1/4 American tablespoons) marjoram, chopped
310g (10 1/2oz) finely minced lamb
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 – 1 teaspoon Kırmızı biber flakes
1 tablespoon (1 1/4 American tablespoons) flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

To serve
4 ripe tomatoes, freshly chopped
fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Kırmızı biber pepper flakes
lemon wedges

Put the yeast, sugar and half the warm water in a small bowl, stir well and leave for 5-8 minutes or until it becomes creamy. Sieve the flour and salt into another bowl, mix. Make a well in the centre, add in the yeast and the remaining warm water. Mix to a dough with your hands. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 8-10 minutes or for 5 minutes in a food mixer with a dough hook. Put into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise at room temperature until double in size – about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 240ËšC/Gas Mark 9.

Meanwhile make the topping, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, sauté the chopped onion, garlic and oregano for about 3–4 minutes or until the onion has softened. Transfer the mixture to a bowl – allow to cool. Add the lamb, paprika, biber pepper and parsley. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and chill until ready to use.

When the dough has risen, knock back lightly. Shape into a roll – 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, press it down with your hand. Roll into a round thin flatbread about 30cm wide, or as thin as you possibly can, turning the dough as you roll and pulling it with your hands.

Transfer to a pizza paddle sprinkled with polenta. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the base of the first lahmacun. Drizzle with a little olive oil and slide onto a preheated metal baking tray in the oven. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until the lahmacun is crispy and golden brown. Repeat the process with the remaining lahmacun.

Serve with a couple of lemon wedges, fresh tomato dice, lots of sprigs of flat parsley and if you like more Kırmızı biber flakes scattered over the top.

Claudia Roden’s Konafa with a Cream Filling

It is my mother’s recipe. In Lebanon it is called Osmaliyah. It is meant to be served hot but it is also good cold. You can buy the soft white vermicelli-like dough frozen in Lebanese, Turkish and Greek stores. In Lebanon, it is called knafe but in the UK it is sold by its Greek name kataifi in 400g packets; it should be defrosted for 3 hours. The quantities below will make one large pastry to serve 10 but you can also make two, half the size, one to serve fewer people and one to put in the freezer to bake at a later date. It freezes well uncooked.

Serves 10

For the syrup
12oz (350g/1 1/2 cups) sugar
9fl oz (250ml/generous 1 cup) water
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) orange blossom water

For the cream filling
4 1/2oz (125g) ground rice
950ml (approx. 1 3/4 pints/scant 4 1/2 cups) milk
4fl oz (110ml/1/2 cup) double cream
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) sugar

For the pastry
14oz (400g) kataifi (knafe) pastry, defrosted
7oz (200g/1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

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

Make the syrup first. Boil the sugar with the water and the lemon juice over a low heat for 510 minutes, until it is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Another way to test it is to pour a drop onto a cold plate and if it does not spread out like water, it is ready. Stir in the orange blossom water and cook a moment more. Let it cool then chill in the refrigerator. (If you have overcooked the syrup and it becomes too thick to pour when it is cold, you can rescue it by adding a little water and bringing it to the boil again.)

For the filling, mix the ground rice with enough of the cold milk to make a smooth creamy paste. Bring the rest of the milk with the cream to the boil. Add the ground rice paste, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Leave it on a very low heat and continue to stir constantly for 1520 minutes until the mixture thickens, being careful not to let it burn at the bottom. Then add the sugar and stir well.

Put the kataifi pastry in a large bowl. With your fingers, pull out and separate the strands as much as possible. Melt the butter and when it has cooled slightly, pour it over the pastry and work it in very thoroughly with your fingers, pulling out and separating the strands and turning them over so that they do not stick together, and are entirely coated with butter.

Spread half the pastry at the bottom of a large round pie pan, measuring 2830cm (11-12 inches) in diameter. Spread the cream filling over it evenly and cover with the rest of the pastry. Press down firmly and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for about 45 minutes. Some like to brown the bottom  which comes out on top when the pastry is turned out  by running it over heat on a hob for a brief moment only. Others prefer the pastry to remain pale.

Just before serving, run a sharp knife round the edges of the osmaliyah to loosen the sides, then turn it out onto a large serving dish. Pour the cold syrup all over the hot pastry and sprinkle the top lavishly with the chopped pistachios.

Alternatively, you can pour only half the syrup over the pastry and pass the rest around in a jug for everyone to help themselves to more if they wish.

Osmaliya with Cheese Filling
This is another wonderful dessert that I strongly recommend. It is quicker and easier to make than the previous one with cream. Make the pastry as above but instead of the cream filling, use 18oz (500g) mozzarella cheese CHOPPED OR GRATED in the food processor, mix with 9oz (250g) RICOTTA, 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) sugar and 2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) orange blossom water. Bake as above and pour the cold syrup over the hot pastry as it comes out of the oven, just before serving. Serve hot or at least warm while the cheese is soft.


Past Letters