‘Au Revoir’ to Summer 12 Week Certificate Class

Just said ‘au revoir’ to another group of 12 Week Certificate students who have truly put 110% into 12 full-on busy weeks here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. They came from all over the world, 12 nationalities this time. Some had never held a wooden spoon in their hands before, a few were chefs, others had a little experience in a café or restaurant kitchen, perhaps not even in the kitchen but in front of house or waiting on tables – all were united by a longing and determination to learn to cook. That’s all we need, passion, energy and curiosity.

Twelve weeks later, they leave us looking forward to their new adventure, go straight into restaurant kitchen either at home or abroad from London to San Francisco, to Copenhagen. They use their newly acquired skills in a myriad of ways – travelling, cooking on yachts, ski chalets in Winter, teaching, writing, food trucks, Farmers Markets….. Some will return to their former jobs having taken 12 short weeks off to learn a vital life skill. One girl wants to be a butcher, others will use their skills to smoke food, make cheese, forage, ferment even grow herbs and vegetables. On the summer certificate course which starts in May the students have the opportunity to have a raised bed on the farm, to sow seeds and grow vegetables. It’s one of many extra circular activities.

Several took up the option. It’s magic to plant seeds at this time of the year, everything grows so fast… They grew radishes, white turnips, carrots, onions and beetroot from seed and transplanted fennel, cabbage, marigolds, tomatoes, broad beans, lettuce, peas and sunflowers….

Can you imagine, they were beyond excited and I think we may just have given them a gift for life – a love for growing some of their own food.

On the very first day when they arrived they learned how to sow a seed and then planted a sweet corn plant, tucking a lollipop stick with their name on it into the ground so they can identify their very own plant. I know of no better way to give my students an understanding of how food is produced and how long it takes to grow and how much care it needs, than to plant it into the ground themselves and then wait for it to grow for a full three months.

Further more, it gives them a huge appreciation of those whose labor to grow nourishing wholesome food to keep us healthy and sated plus an understanding of the time and attention it takes – they will never complain about the price of organic vegetables and herbs again.

Each batch of students enrich our lives in so many ways and often share a favourite recipe with us. This time Martin, an engineer from Stockholm designed a brilliant BBQ which our local blacksmith made up. Much fun was had cooking on it while they were with us and now it will remind us of Martin and the summer 2016 group every time we see it. Sarah Cremona gave us her favourite recipe for macaroons which I like much more than my original one. Martin also gave us his favourite recipe for Swedish crispbread, Lindsay spent days testing a recipe for cinnamon buns and then shared the recipe.

Thinking of starting food business?
So many ideas but nowhere to experiment or test your product. Good news – Cork County Council have a new initiative. Cork Incubator Kitchens to assist emerging and established food businesses is now available to rent in Carrigaline. For further details contact Brendan Russell 087 6233088 or Mary Daly 087 919 8168. Email

Martin Gustafsson’s Swedish fröknäcke (Seed Crispbread)

You will soon become addicted to this seedy crispbread – delicious with cheese or dips or just to nibble as a snack.

Makes 2 trays

80 (3 1/4oz) pumpkin seeds
80 (3 1/4oz) sesame seeds
80 (3 1/4oz) sunflower seeds
80 (3 1/4oz) linseeds
100g (3 1/2oz) polenta flour or cornmeal
350ml (12fl oz) water
50ml (2fl oz) olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Pour in the boiling water and the olive oil. Mix well to dissolve any lumps. Divide equally and spread out the wet mixture on the baking trays. Make sure the thickness is even and as thin as possible without creating holes in the mixture. Sprinkle sea salt on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes. Every 15 minutes open the oven door to allow the steam to escape. After 60 minutes turn the crisp bread over and bake for the remaining 10 minutes.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Martin Gustafsson (12 Week April 2016)


Brioche Cinnamon Butter Buns

Makes 15-20

Brioche (see recipe)

Cinnamon Butter
150g (5oz/1 1/4 sticks) butter
250g (9oz/1 1/8 cup) pale brown sugar
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) Sri Lankan ground cinnamon

Egg Wash
1 – 2 beaten eggs

muffin tins

Make the brioche in the usual way. Cover and allow to rise overnight in a fridge.

Next day.
First make the Cinnamon Butter.
Cream the butter, sugar and cinnamon together and beat until light and fluffy.

Roll out the brioche dough into 1cm (1/2 inch) thick rectangle. Spread the cinnamon butter evenly over the surface with a palate knife, roll from the long side, cut into 5cm (2 inch) pieces. Pop each one into a well-buttered muffin tin. Cover and allow to rise to double in size. Egg wash gently.

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

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cook on a wire-rack


Brioche with Butter and Sugar

Serves 20 – 24

1 x brioche dough (see recipe)
110g (4oz/1/2 cup) granulated sugar
110g (4oz/1 stick) butter, cut into 5mm (1/4 inch dice)
Egg Wash

2 x Swiss roll tins – 33 x 20.5cm (12 x 8 inch)

Brush the Swiss roll tins with melted butter. Divide the brioche dough in half.
Roll each into a rectangle to fit the tins.
Egg wash and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours approximately.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. When the dough has risen, dot with the diced butter evenly over the top, sprinkle with granulated sugar.
Cook in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

Best eaten when freshly baked but also delicious next day.

Brioche is the richest of all yeast dough’s. It can often seem intimidating but this very easy version works well and we have written it so that the dough can rise overnight in the fridge and be shaped and baked the following morning.

We always serve them warm from the oven with butter and homemade strawberry jam.

Makes 15-20 individual brioches or 2 large ones

25g (1oz) yeast
50g (2oz/1/4 cup) castor sugar
65 ml (2 1/2fl oz/1/4 cup) tepid water
4 eggs
450g (1lb/4 cups) strong white flour
large pinch of salt
225g (8oz/2 sticks) soft butter

Sponge the yeast and sugar in the tepid water in the bowl of an electric mixer. Allow to stand for five minutes. Add the eggs, flour and salt and mix to a stiff dough with the dough hook.

When the mixture is smooth, beat in the soft butter in small pieces. Don’t add the next piece of butter until the previous piece has been completely absorbed. This kneading stage should take about half an hour.

The finished dough should have a silky appearance, it should come away from the sides of the bowl and when you touch the dough it should be damp but not sticky.
Place it in an oiled bowl, cover and rest it overnight in the fridge.


Sarah Cremona’s Chocolate Macaroons

Dare I say, a fool proof recipe for macaroons – one can of course vary the flavours.

Makes 30 macaroons depending on size

300g ground almonds
300g pure icing sugar
10g cocoa powder

110g egg whites

75g water
300g white sugar

Chocolate Ganache or Buttercream of your choice
Sieve the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl.

Pass the egg whites through a spotlessly clean and dry sieve so that they are the same consistency.

Add the sieved egg whites to the dry ingredients and mix to a smooth paste.
Keep aside.
Put the remaining 110g (4oz) clarified egg whites into the a food mixer.
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, stir to dissolve the sugar and boil until it reaches 118C/244F.

Gently pour the boiling syrup into the the bowl of the mixer. Whisk until light and fluffy to make Italian Meringue. Reduce the speed to medium and continue to whisk until the meringue is less than 35 degrees in temperature.

Gently fold the Italian meringue into the almond base.

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe into generous 2.5cm (1 inch) rounds with a round tip nozzle (size 11). Allow to rest for 10-20 min to allow a skin to form.

Meanwhile, preheat a fan oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until cooked, the macaroons will lift easily off the parchment easily.
Sandwich the macaroons together with chocolate ganache or butter cream of your choice.

Sarah Cremona (12 Week Summer 2016)

Oxford Symposium

I’ve just tasted meringue, macaroons and brownies made from fresh pigs blood, how macabre does that sound. Is there no end to what I’ll do in the name of food research?
The chocolate meringues and macaroons tasted great, in fact there’s no way I would have known they were anything but chocolate. The brownies, I didn’t love, they tasted very peculiar indeed.

Where you might ask did I taste these bites? It was at the Oxford Food Symposium and by the way Jennifer McLagan who read a paper on “Blood, not so simple”, can buy fresh blood any day of the week at her local butcher in Toronto. I spent the weekend surrounded by food historians, scholars, anthropologists, writers, chefs, enthusiastic amateurs and lots of offal nerds. Jennifer discovered that blood has the same whipping properties as egg whites.

The Oxford Food Symposium has been in existence since 1983. It was founded by Alan Davidson and co-chaired by pre-eminent food historian and author of The Oxford Companion to Food and Dr Theodore Zeldin, the celebrated social historian of France.

Despite initial scepticism in Oxford and some outright opposition, it was eventually accepted that Davidson’s proposed field of research – “Science in the kitchen from a historical perspective”, was a suitable subject for Oxford University. Several seminars were arranged, the initial gathering were around 20 people including such luminaries as Elizabeth David, Richard Olney, Ann Willan, Paul Levy, Jane Grigson, Sri Owen, Nicholas Kurti….

The success of these seminars showed that there was a great deal of interest in food history so Davidson and Zeldin created the first full scale symposium in 1981. Thirty five years later, it continues to gather momentum with delegates coming from 28 different countries this year to explore the topic of offal and explore it they did from numerous angles.

Key note speaker Professor Timothy Lang spoke about “Sustainable Diets: an offaly good idea but what will it take to get there?”
Paul Rozin in a riveting paper entitled “Disgust and Decay as Determinants of Dining” explored the disgust phenomena. Offal engenders a huge disgust level in many people. All the cuts come from the same animal so where is the logic? We are happy to eat a steak or chicken breast or a chop but present someone with a salad of gizzards and hearts or spleen sandwiches and they’d rather starve.

Yet they are the sort of titbits that many two and three star Michelin restaurants serve and guests are prepared to pay a ton of money for the pleasure –maybe because when it is super expensive they reckon it has to be good.

From Arundhatie Kundal, we heard about the tradition of eating barbequed chicken feet in the townships of Capetown but they are not allowed to sell them in the more genteel neighbourhoods.
Laura Fan talks about fishhead stew in Kuala Lumpar, I’ve had that too and delicious it was but it’s a whole lot of work for a few tasty nibbles.
Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir from Iceland delivered one of the most interesting papers on the role of offal in the diet of her country and how horse, seal and whale are still important foods. In former years a beached whale saved many communities from starvation but it is now remembered by many as the food of desperation.

Dried fish was and still is one of the main stays of the Icelandic cuisine, hundreds of names for all parts of the fish entrails and every scrap was eaten. Then Nanna passed around tastes of smoked horse tongue – that surely sorted out the ‘men from the boys’! – a double helping of disgust, offal and horse….

Others talked of caul fat, crepine, faggots, the Cypriot sheftalia (forcemeat wrapped in caulfat) and Turkish cocorette, chargrilled lamb intestine served with onion and tomato which I enjoyed in Istanbul. Sami Zubaida waxed lyrical about tripe ‘ pacha’ in Iraq. I was longing to tell them about Cork people’s traditional love for offal dating back to the time when Cork was a hugely important provisioning port for ships crossing the Atlantic. Many of those who were employed in the abattoirs were part-paid in offal hence the extra grá Cork people are said to have for offal to this very day.

This is borne out in the superb selection of offal in Cork’s English Market.
How ‘ate it like chocolate’. Sadly Regina Sexton couldn’t make to the symposium but she was sadly missed and hugely respected among her peers.

Wander through the lanes in the English Market and you’ll find tripe and drisheen the traditional blood pudding, skirt, kidneys and bodices and tongue, pigs, trotters, tails and ears, livers, hearts, kidney and sweetbreads in season. But as impressive as that sounds it’s only a fraction of the fifth quarter, the rest ends up in both human and animal feed and here’s another one. We’ll lap up cheap sausages, cured meats and pâtes and yet we turn our noses up at liver, kidneys, not to speak of a juicy bit of pig’s snout, the preferred piece of the Metanza butchers in Spain.

Well I love offal, in our house we didn’t look down on offal, we celebrated it like any other cut of meat. In London sweetbreads are now three times the price of steaks and quite right too. Here are a few of my favourite offal recipes. Liver wrapped in caul fat, Salad of Lamb’s Kidneys, chicken or duck hearts on pan grilled bread,
and just to cheer you up my favourite brownie recipe (sorry no blood) and it’s also gluten free.

Hot Tips
Garden Workshop: Autumn Harvest and Winter Crops
On Monday August 15th, head gardener at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Susan Turner will teach the necessary skills to develop sustainable organic growing techniques. Topics covered will include:
Harvesting & selecting varieties for next year, inter crops & filling the hungry gap, seasonal review & planning, winter soil management… for more information.

Simply Delicious Food for Family and Friends
Wednesday August 17th-Friday August 19th

So many of us are ‘time-poor’ – struggling to juggle careers with running our homes, doing our best to look after the important people in our lives – that we want to make sure that the food we are cooking is delicious, nourishing and healthy, simply oozing with TLC.
You will come away from this two-and-a-half day course armed with a repertoire of fuss-free, quick and tasty dishes – good, gutsy food with masses of flavour, guaranteed to gladden the hearts of your nearest and dearest. We’ll give you invaluable time-saving tips and a list of the essential ingredients you should have in your cupboard for those fraught occasions when you haven’t had a chance to do a ‘big shop’ and have very little time available to prepare something simple but delicious.
The course will include quick and easy breads, starters, main courses, salads and some scrumptious puddings.

Chicken or Duck Hearts on Chargrilled Bread

Serves 4

12-16 chicken or duck hearts
½ pint (10 fl oz) chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil or butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Thyme leaves or a little snipped tarragon

4 slices of sour dough bread

Preheat a pangrill.

Wash the hearts, put into a small saucepan and cover with chicken stock. Add a little salt and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.
Drain, cut some in half lengthwise, others into rounds.
Just before serving, heat a little butter or extra virgin olive oil in a pan. Toss in the hearts and cook until heated through and browning at the edges. Sprinkle with a little thyme or snipped tarragon and toss. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and tweak if necessary.

Chargrill the slices of bread on both sides. Put a slice on each of four plates. Divide the hearts between them and scatter a few thyme flowers over the top if available.

I sometimes add a little harissa or zhoug.

Lamb’s Liver wrapped in Caul Fat with Sage

Serves 4

1 lb (450 g) lamb’s liver
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-16 sage leaves
Pork caul fat

Watercress sprigs

Wash and dry the liver. Cut into 8 pieces. Season well with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Lay one or two sage leaves on top, wrap each piece loosely in caul fat. Chill or cook right away on barbeque or hot pan grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes on both sides until the fat renders out and become a rich golden colour.
Serve on hot plates with a few sprigs of watercress.

A Warm Salad of Lamb Kidneys with Oyster Mushrooms and Pink Peppercorns

Serves 4

2-3 lamb kidneys
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) oyster mushrooms
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped annual marjoram, optional
30 pink peppercorns
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of tomato concasse

Selection of lettuces and salads, ie. Butterhead, Iceberg, Raddichio, Chinese leaves, lambs lettuce or rocket leaves

Vinaigrette Dressing
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of arachide or sunflower oil
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) olive oil
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Remove the skin and fatty membrane from the centre of the kidneys, and cut the kidney into small cubes (1/2 inch) 1cm approx.

Trim the stalks from the mushrooms and slice lengthways. Wash lettuces and dry carefully. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan until it smokes, toss in the mushrooms, season and fry quickly for about 3-4 minutes, add the marjoram, remove to a hot plate add the kidneys to the pan and fry quickly for about 2 minutes. While the kidneys are cooking, toss lettuce in a little of the dressing, divide between the plates. Spoon the hot kidneys and the mushrooms over the salad immediately they are cooked and if liked, scatter salads with pink peppercorns or with tomato concasse and serve immediately.

Brownies with Bitter Chocolate Sauce

Makes 16

50g (2oz) best quality gluten – free dark chocolate
100g (3½oz) butter
200g (7oz) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free-range
½ teaspoon pure vanilla essence
75g (3oz) ground almonds
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
Pinch of salt
125g (4oz) chopped walnuts

1 x 20cm (8in) square tin lined with silicone paper

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

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl suspended over simmering water or in a low oven.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale, soft and light, then beat in the lightly whisked eggs, the vanilla essence and melted chocolate. Lastly stir in the ground almonds, gluten-free baking powder, salt and chopped nuts. Spread the mixture in the tin and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 30-35 minutes.
Cut into 5cm (2inch) squares for serving.

Serve with bitter chocolate sauce and crème fraîche. Sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts and dried rose petals.

Bitter Chocolate Sauce

125g (4oz) best quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids
25g (1oz) unsweetened chocolate
Approximately 175ml (6fl oz) stock syrup
Rum or vanilla extract, optional

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Gradually whisk in enough syrup to make a sauce of coating consistency. Serve hot or cold. Keeps well in a fridge. Stir before use.

Stock Syrup

Very useful to keep in the fridge as a base for homemade lemonade, sorbets, fruit salads etc. Keeps for 2-3 weeks.

125g (4oz) sugar
150ml (¼ pint) water

Dissolve the sugar in water and boil together for 2 minutes. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator until needed.


For Irish people particularly, Rome immediately conjures up images of the Vatican and St. Peter’s square…. Been there, done that, a long time ago so this time I had a two day stop over on the way to Sicily. There are seven hills in Rome, so we prepared for lots of steps, it’s an intriguing city and around every corner you are reminded of ancient history, the Trevi fountain, the Colosseum, the Spanish steps.

In Rome you still see priests and nuns in traditional garb hurrying through the streets. If you want to make the most of your time in Rome, hop on one of those sightseeing buses, it will get you orientated. The main focus of this visit was to visit the Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome and to taste one of my favourite pasta
dishes cacio e pepe at source. The latter wasn’t a great success, I tried several versions none of which were nearly as delicious as Rita Soda’s version I ate at Soda in Manhattan.

The American Academy was established at end of the 18 Century at the top of Janiculum Hill just behind the Fontanele, in the midst of beautiful gardens with mature trees, an olive grove, vegetable beds and an orchard of peaches, plums and apricots. The Sustainable Food Project at the Academy founded in 2007 under the guidance of Alice Waters from Chez Panisse, Berkeley in California. It provides the community of fellows and artists, writers, scholars, historians, architects, astronomers…… Passionate brilliant, intelligent people with seasonal nutritious and utterly delicious food.

This is all the more remarkable because up to the point where Alice became involved, the food was famously appalling described as a “lot like airplane food crossed with an elementary school lunch”. Now guided by the spirit of the Roman table and using home grown produce from the academy’s beautiful garden as well as nearby organic farms and food producers. It is fulfilling the Academy’s aim to provide a replicable model of simple sustainable food for other likeminded institutions. We’ve had a link with the American Academy for almost a decade but I’d never been there so it was especially nice to put a face to the name of the people I’d been corresponding with for years. Laura Offeddu , the manager and Chris Behr the chef who guides a whole team of interns, two of whom are past students from the Ballymaloe Cookery School, Clementine Hain Cole and Freddie Woodruff. We had a delicious lunch at the long table under the arches in the courtyard that seats close to a hundred people.

Simple delicious food, a cold zucchini soup, a salad, a pasta and a fresh cherry compote with housemade yoghurt. We stayed in a little hotel, Hotel Donna Camilla Savelli, in Travasera, in an old convent with a church off reception and a delightful little courtyard with lots of white hydrangeas and trees to shelter from the intense sun. It’s just minutes from the centre, so worth getting in your diary. Any guide book will tell you about the awe inspiring history, architecture and iconic buildings of Rome but here’s a cook’s tour of the Italian capital.

First stop a market – Campo de’Fiori is now a tourist hot spot although there are some food stalls, you are unlikely to find anything of real interest. Real farmers and food producers can’t afford to trade there so seek out other local markets to get a glimpse of how and what real Romans eat. I went to the market in Testaccio, it’s a permanent covered market with row after row of produce, butchers, fishmongers. It’s a real joy and education to watch Italian women shop and to observe how super fussy they are, they still shop for fresh produce every day. There were no big supermarkets in evidence although I did see a few small neighbourhood ones.

If you want to make the best of a foodie trip to Rome, contact Katie Parla, She whizzed us around to some of the very best food shops and cafes. She’s deeply knowledgeable on Roman history architecture and archaeology as well as the food scene.

La Tradizione, where I bought a superb Pecorino aged in the time honoured way in a timber box with aromatic herbs and also and tasted a variety of other Italian artisan cheeses. Then on to Pizzarium, Bonci on Via della Meloria where I tasted the very best pizza I have ever eaten anywhere in the world and that is quite a statement…..
The crust was crackly, the base crisp, the centre tender and flavourful and the topping super delicious. He does pizza by the slice and you pay by weight. At his bakery on Via Trionfale one can buy really good bread and food to go including this Roman chicken and chips which is bound to become your favourite comfort food. Bonci is a well-known TV chef in Italy who works with small producers and farmers who grow ancient cereals and grains.

We also loved the fantastic ice cream and granitas at Carapina. One can’t visit Rome without eating gelato and put Supplizio on your list also for the best suppli and arancini…I’ve ever eaten.


Transition Year Cookery Course
Doesn’t matter whether you wish to be an astronaut or a GP everyone needs to be able to cook. In response to numerous requests we plan to run two five day cookery courses for Transition Year students. Monday 25th July – Friday 29th July or Monday 1st August – Friday 5th August. Very limited numbers.

Kids in the Kitchen
Kids absolutely love to sieve, knead, roll, measure and mix. It’s hugely important to teach kids at this young age to develop a life-long love of food and cooking, to develop good eating habits in a fun and engaging way.
On Monday August 8th, we will teach the students to cook a range of simply delicious food for friends and family. They will spend a busy morning cooking, before enjoying a lunch of what they’ve made. After lunch we will feed the scraps to the hens, see the vegetables growing in the glasshouses. This is an action-packed day of delicious learning and fun.

The Fit Foodie
Derval O’ Rourke’s new book has just been published. Derval discovered the importance of nutrition as an elite athlete and believes eating well made all the difference to her form. The Fit Foodie is full of simple, delicious and totally doable recipes such as Laid Back Lamb Tagine, Mediterranean Salmon and Spaghetti, Butternut and Bean Stew, Chocolate Fondant Cake…..Derval also shares smart and inspiring advice on how to get organised so that good food and exercise is a seamless part of your life. Publised by Penguin Life

Date for your Diary
A Taste of West Cork Food Festival will run from 9th – 18th September 2016 in Skibbereen brings together a unique mix of food markets, demonstrations, cookery competitions, special dinners, brunches and banquets, food talks, tastings….and lots more.

Garden Café Pizza Dough

The beauty of this recipe is that it is so quick and easy, using this fast acting yeast does away with the first rising. By the time your tomato sauce is bubbling in the oven your pizza base will be ready for its topping!
Makes 8 x 25cm 10inch pizzas

680g (1 1/2lbs/6 cups) strong white flour or 600g (1 1/4lb/5 cups) strong white flour and 110g (4oz/1 cup) rye flour
50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter
1 packet fast acting yeast
2 level teaspoons salt
15g (1/2oz) sugar
2-4 tablespoons (2-4 American tablespoons + 2-4 teaspoons) olive oil
450 – 500ml (16-18 floz/2 – 2 1/4 cups) lukewarm water – more if needed

In a large wide mixing bowl sieve the flour and add in the salt, sugar, rub in the butter and fast acting yeast, mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the oil and most of the luke warm water. Mix to a loose dough. You can add more water or flour if needed.
Turn the dough on to a lightly floured work top, cover and leave to relax for about five minutes.

Then knead the dough for about ten minutes or until smooth and springy (if kneading in a food mixer with a dough hook, 5 minutes is usually long enough).
Leave the dough to relax again for about ten minutes. Shape and measure into 8 equal balls of dough each weighing approximately 150g (5oz). Lightly brush the balls of dough with olive oil.

If you have time, put the oiled balls of dough into a plastic bag and chill. The dough will be easier to handle when cold but it can be used immediately.

On a well floured work surface roll each ball in to about 25cm (10inch) disk. I find it convenient to pop a few rolled out uncooked pizza bases into the freezer. You can take one out, put the topping on and slide it straight into the oven. What could be easier!

This dough also makes delicious white yeast bread which we shape into rolls, loaves and plaits.

Gabriele Bonci’s Pizza with Squash Blossoms, Ricotta and Black Olives

10 oz (300 g) fresh sheep’s’ milk ricotta
7 oz (200 g) black olives, pitted and crushed
1 (12 oz/350g) ball white pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
9 oz (250 g) mozzarella
15 squash blossoms
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220-250C/ 450-475F

Mix the ricotta cheese and olives together to combine. Stretch out the dough and place it in a well oiled pan. Tear the mozzarella cheese into pieces and scatter about half of it over the dough. Dot the dough with the ricotta and olive mixture. Place the whole squash blossoms on top. Scatter the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the blossoms.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.

Gabriele Bonci’s Pizza with Tomato Sauce and Anchovies

1¾ lb (800 g) fresh anchovies
2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
500 ml (18 fl oz/2 cups) white wine vinegar
1 (12 oz/350 g) ball white pizza dough
18 oz (500 g/2 cups) canned peeled tomatoes
Fine sea salt, to taste
1 head garlic
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves, minced

Preheat the oven to 220°C-250°C (450°F-475°F).

Clean, butterfly and bone the anchovies. Arrange them in a non-reactive pan in a single layer. Zest ½ lemon and set aside for finishing the pizza. Juice both lemons, whisk the juice with a generous amount of oil and vinegar and pour the liquid over the fish. Cover and marinate until the flesh of the anchovies has turned white, about 20 minutes.

Stretch the dough out and place in a well-oiled pan. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes with some oil and salt. Spread the tomato mixture over the dough by hand, crushing the tomatoes between your fingers as you drop them into the dough. Break up the garlic and scatter the unpeeled cloves over the tomato sauce.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and arrange the anchovies on top. Season with pepper, the reserved lemon zest and a drizzle of oil and the parsley. Serve hot.

Gabriele Bonci’s Spicy Pizza with Eggplant and Burrata

1 (12 oz/350g) ball white pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (500 g) eggplant
Fine sea salt, to taste
10 oz (300 g) burrata, chopped
Red chilli flakes, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220°C-250°C/450°F-475°F.

Stretch out the dough and place in a well-oiled pan. Thinly slice the eggplant into rounds and toss them with a small amount of oil and salt. Arrange the eggplant rounds on top of the dough.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and arrange the cheese on top. Sprinkle with

Gabriele Bonci’s Pizza with Squash Blossoms, Ricotta and Black Olives

10 oz (300 g) fresh sheep’s’ milk ricotta
7 oz (200 g) black olives, pitted and crushed
1 (12 oz/350g) ball white pizza dough
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
9 oz (250 g) mozzarella
15 squash blossoms
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 220-250C/ 450-475F

Mix the ricotta cheese and olives together to combine. Stretch out the dough and place it in a well oiled pan. Tear the mozzarella cheese into pieces and scatter about half of it over the dough. Dot the dough with the ricotta and olive mixture. Place the whole squash blossoms on top. Scatter the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the blossoms.

Bake the pizza until golden brown and well risen, about 25 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little oil.

Roman Chicken and Chips

Serves 6-8

Chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings
8 large potatoes
Freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Season the chicken heavily with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put into a bowl and scatter with lots of thyme. Toss well.
Peel the potatoes, cut into thick chips. Dry and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper and thyme. Add to the chicken.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8.

Spread out onto a roasting tin.

Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the chips are crispy at the edges.

Serve with a good green salad and several vegetables of your choice.

Pistachio Honeycomb Ice-Cream

Serves 12-14

100g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar
220ml (8fl oz/1 cup) water
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1200ml (2 pints/5 cups) whipped cream
100-200g (3 1/2-7oz) Pistachio Honeycomb (see recipe)

To Serve
Pistachio nuts

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringue). Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, 106-113°C/223-236°F. It will look thick and syrupy; when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add vanilla essence and continue to whisk until it becomes a thick creamy white mousse. Fold the softly-whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze. After 1 hour fold roughly chopped pistachio honeycomb into the semi-frozen ice-cream. Freeze.

Serve with a little more pistachio honeycomb and coarsely chopped pistachio nuts scattered over the top.


Makes about 500 g (1lb 2oz)

Serves 30-40 as a petit four

85g (3 1/4oz) Duchy (or good quality local) honey
180g (6 1/4oz) liquid glucose
400g (14oz/1 3/4 cups) castor sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
15g (3/4oz) bicarbonate of soda

1 Swiss roll tin – 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch)
parchment paper or silpat mat

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

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

Pistachio Honeycomb/Praline
basic Honeycomb recipe (see above)
150g (5oz) pistachios, roughly chopped

Sprinkle half the pistachios over the bottom of the Swiss roll tin, pour the honeycomb over then sprinkle on the remaining pistachios. Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.


On our way to celebrate a very special anniversary with some friends in the foothills of Mount Etna, we snatched an extra few days to rediscover Sicily.
This time we didn’t get to see the Ballaro Street market in Pallermo but remember the vibrant, bustling, raucous, daily fruit and veg market from my last visit. It starts at 5am so get there early, gleaming fish and shellfish, don’t miss the sea urchins, sliced open and ready to eat or the raw shrimps with just a squeeze of lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and maybe a whisper of red pepper. Of course tons of fresh vegetables and perfectly ripe fruit to die for.

I also remember luscious fried artichokes and octopus and great Palermitan spleen sandwich cooked in lard and piled onto a soft bun with a sprinkling of parmesan, not everyone’s ‘must have’ but I’m a big offal fan so loved it.

We left the higgledy-piggledy sprawl of Palermo, and headed west for Regaleali, the countryside is breathtakingly beautiful, aromatic landscape, beautiful rolling countryside, huge wheat fields, olive groves, pencil thin Italian cypress, wildflower roadside verges, hilltop towns.

Overall the country roads with virtually no traffic are very good and the motorways on stilts provide a fantastic view of the countryside without disturbing farming or village life. More vineyards as we got closer to Vallelunga and Regaleali famous for vineyards.

Here Fabrizia Lanza followed in her mother Anna Tasca Lanza’s footsteps running the cookery school in the midst of her farm and organic gardens. Rachel Roddy and Luisa Weiss were facilitating a Food Writing course when we arrived. We participated in a pasta course the next day and also learned how to make a cherry and pistachio nut crostata. Fabrizia has a passion for the garden and brings seeds home from her travels to trial in the gardens.

Here for the first time I saw pistachios, capers and pink peppercorns growing but of course there were peaches, nectarines, cherry, figs and plums, almonds, walnuts….
Meals were all around the huge square in the dining room. An aperativo in the cobbled courtyard. I particularly remember the delicious rabbit cacciatori and the alarmed (actually horrified) look on an American lady’s face when she discovered she was eating rabbit…..

A soup of zucchini and the leaves was comforting and piqued my curiosity. The cucuzze variety is tender, delicious and flavourful and the leaves can also be cooked.
Pasta con sarde with sardines and wild fennel, raisins and pinenuts is one of Sicily’s best loved pastas. It’s made with the feathery wild fennel that grows throughout the countryside. We also visited a dairy sheep farmer who milks 350 sheep twice a day on his hillside farm. He made Tuma cheese and the best ricotta I have ever, ever tasted.

I’ll focus on the food – breakfast in Sicily – for most Sicilians like Italians breakfast is a cappuccino or a cup of espresso with a ubiquitous cornetto, a jam, chocolate or ricotta or almond filled croissant but I was intrigued to learn that the traditional summer breakfast is granita preferably almond or coffee and a brioche. The granita di mandorle with wild strawberries I enjoyed at Tre Contrade in Giarre was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

Here are just a few of the delicious foods I tasted in Sicily. Cassata, canoli and pasta sarde are all quintessentially Sicilian but not so easy to reproduce at home so try these other specialities.

Great Food, Quick
Time starved? Worn out by endless multi-tasking? Driven demented by traffic gridlock? Underwhelmed by the idea of buying convenience food? Don’t despair. In 2½ days, we’ll show you how to make delicious and nutritious everyday meals fast – heart-warming soups, simple starters, main courses, yummy desserts, homemade bread…. Super-fast actually, because in half an hour or less, from start to finish, you will be able to produce scrumptious dishes, all of which look good, taste good and are easy to prepare after even the most gruelling day.
Monday 25th July- Wednesday July 27th.

Coast with Rachel Allen and Ivan Whelan
This year Rachel took a tour of the “Wild Atlantic Way” visiting food producers, chefs and restaurants along the coast. A great TV Show and a book ‘Coast’ followed. In this course Rachel and her side kick Ivan will cook some favourite recipes from their trip using the very best of ingredients from the Atlantic Coast, artisan producers and farmers. Wednesday July 27th- Friday July 29th

Zucchini Blossoms with Tuma and Anchovies

Tuma is a fresh sheep’s milk cheese made by Sicilian shepherds.
Buffalo mozzarella would made a good substitute

Serves 6

12 freshly picked male zucchini blossoms
Tuma or mozzarella,
12 anchovies


175g (6 oz) Durum semolina flour.
350 ml (12 fl oz) beer
good pinch of salt
Olive oil for frying

Cut the cheese into little strips that will fit into the blossom, tuck an anchovy and a little strip of cheese into each flower,
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan of deep fry to 180C
Meanwhile, make a simple batter by whisking beer into the durum flour until it’s a light coating consistency. Add a good pinch of salt. When the oil is hot, dip one flower at a time into the batter twisting the ends as you slip it gently into the hot oil. Cook a few at a time turning over after a minute or two to crisp the other side, drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.


There are many versions of this Sicilian vegetable stew; this is one I particularly enjoy.

Serves 6-8
350g (12oz) celery, stringed and chopped in 5mm (¼in)dice
250g (9oz) onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
200ml (7fl.oz) approx.. extra virgin olive oil
1kg (2¼lb) aubergine, cut in 2.5cm (1in) chunks
1 tablespoon. capers, salted if possible (wash in cold water, drain and dry)
18 green olives, stoned
75g (3oz) homemade tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a 1.2L (2pint) saucepan of water to the boil, add 1 teaspoon salt, throw in the celery and onion. Bring back to the boil, cook for 3 minutes. Drain.
Heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a wide heavy frying pan, over a high heat, add about a quarter of the aubergines, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss until brown on all sides and almost soft in the centre.
Remove and continue with the remainder of the aubergine. You’ll need to add more olive oil. Then toss back in the rest, plus the onion and celery, olives, capers, vinegar, tomato puree and sugar.
Stir gently to combine evenly. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve warm cold or at room temperature.

Fabrizia Lanza’s Zucchini Soup with Tender Greens

In Sicily this soup is made with the cucuzze squash, long tender pale green zucchini and the leaves can also be used to flavour and add extra nourishment, a comforting delicious soup.

Serves 6-8

110 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 1½ cups canned Roma tomatoes, chopped
Fine sea salt and black pepper
2 cucuzze squash or 3 medium zucchini, peeled and chopped
3 bunches tender squash greens, chopped (Tenerumi)
1 small bunch celery leaves, chopped
3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups lukewarm water

Combine the olive oil, onion and garlic in a large, wide soup pot and cook over medium high heat until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rest of the vegetables and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the water, then simmer, covered until the vegetables are tender, 20-25 minutes.

Coming Home to Sicily, Fabrizia Lanza, published by Sterling Epicure

Spaghetti with Walnuts, Anchovies and Parsley.

Serves 6
450g spaghetti
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 anchovy fillets, coarsely
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts,
A small or large pinch of chilli flakes,
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
Flaky sea salt

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add salt. (1 tablespoon to 4.8L)
Add the pasta, stir, bring back to the boil and continue to cook until al dente, drain but save a little liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the sliced garlic and cook until very pale golden, add the coarsely chopped anchovies, mash into the oil, add the walnuts , chilli and parsley, stir and pull off the heat.
Drain the pasta, add to the pan, toss, add some cooking water to loosen the sauce. Taste and tweak if necessary, serve ASAP .

Pina’s Pistachio Cake

This gorgeous cake recipe was given to me by some friends, Jon and Marco in Sicily who serve it for breakfast. Pistachio flour is widely available but one can make pistachio flour in a food processor, use unsalted pistachio nuts. Sieve, so the pistachio mixture is fine.

Serves 10-12

130 g (4¾ oz) butter, melted and cooled
300 g (11 oz) caster sugar
3 organic eggs
200 g (7 oz) ‘OO’ flour
200 g (7 oz) pistachio flour
16 g (½-¾ oz) dried yeast
200 g (7 oz) natural yoghurt

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

Butter and flour a 26 cm (9 inch) Bundt tin or 8 inch (20.5cm) round.

Cream the butter, add the sugar and beat well until light and fluffy. Add a beaten egg, one at a time, beating well before adding the next egg.

Next add the flour and pistachio flour, yeast and yoghurt. Mix well.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until just firm to the touch.

Euro Toques Awards 2016

Members of Euro-Toques, The European Association of Chefs, which include some of Ireland’s greatest chefs, came recently to Ballymaloe House to honour founder member, Myrtle Allen on the 30th anniversary of the organisation. Mrs Allen also instituted the Euro-Toques EirGrid Food Awards over 12 years ago to recognise and promote Ireland’s unique food producers. The winners of these prestigious awards are nominated by the members of Euro-Toques and are completely independent.

The Ceremony was held in the Grainstore at Ballymaloe and several award winning Eurotoque chefs cooked one delicious course to create a celebration dinner at Ballymaloe House. Canapes were prepared by Irish Michelin-starred chef and Euro-Toques member Enda McEvoy of Loam in Galway. Other delicious courses were cooked by Graham Neville from Residence and Restaurant Forty One in Dublin, Feargal O’Donnell, The Fatted Calf in and local chef Kevin Aherne Sage in Midleton, and Rory O’Connell, Ballymaloe House and Bryan McCarthy Greene’s in Cork

This year’s the Eurotoque Eirgrid Food Award awards focused on the important yet challenged categories of raw milk cheese and free range pork, both of which have been shrinking year on year in the face of regulatory and economic barriers.

• Joint award for free range pork- Fergus & Sandra Dunne, Pigs on the Green, Offaly, and Dave & Diana Milestone, Andarl Farm, Co Mayo, both of whom work tirelessly for the welfare of their 100 heritage outdoor pigs to ensure the best quality and flavour for their outstanding range of products including handmade sausages, dry cured rashers, pork loins, chops and slippers of ham. –

• For excellence and innovation in dairy- Aisling and Michael Flanagan, Velvet Cloud Irish Sheep’s Milk Cheese, Co Mayo, – one of the most talked about new producers of the year and the only sheep’s milk yogurt produced in Ireland on the land that the family have farmed for generations. –

For raw milk and raw milk cheese- James Gannon, Cloonconra Cheese, Co Roscommon, who faces increasing challenges in today’s heavily regulated sector. James’s beautiful cheese uses raw milk from their pedigree herd of endangered native Irish Moiled cows. This breed has been a feature of Irish agriculture for thousands of years and was traditionally famous for the quality of its milk. They are the only farmers milking the Moiled Cow for cheese in Ireland today, which is an accolade in itself. www.

• For excellence in aquaculture- Hugh O’Malley, Achill Oysters, Co Mayo. Hugh is the fifth generation of his family to harvest oysters from the sea around Achill. The delicious briny oysters are the product of progressive sustainable aquaculture, making the most of the natural marine environment. www.

• For excellence in baking and collaboration to educate- The Founders of Real Bread Ireland. A very important initiative started in January 2015 by a handful of bakers who believe in the importance of real bread. They support and learn from each other and generously share their skills. Many of them actively teach consumers to bake, believing that it is a core skill and essential to healthy eating with which I fully concur. Real Bread Ireland is now a network of over 60 bakers. The founders of this inspirational organization were bakers Patrick Ryan of Firehouse Bakery, Declan Ryan of Arbutus, Thibault Peigne of Tartine, Joe Fitzmaurice of Riot Rye and Kemal Scarpello of Scarpello & Co, spearheaded by Keith Bohanna – a man known to many in the food industry for his talent and generosity.

Euro-Toques presented a Special Commendation to Colin and Kevin Jephson of Ardkeen Quality Food Store in Waterford. Inspirational independent food retailers who have been tremendous supporters of Irish artisans and Irish specialty food producers, since it was founded as a small grocery store in 1967. In the early 2000’s, finding themselves literally surrounded by international retail giants like Tesco and Lidl, they took the decision to become more specialised and concentrate on supporting local Irish producers with a total commitment to quality, an appreciation of provenance and good relationships with their suppliers. In 2015 they launched, bringing artisan foods to a much broader audience. The website boasts the world’s best selection of Irish artisan food with a product listing of over 1100 items, and growing.

There are currently over 3,500 small to medium sized food businesses operating in Ireland. Euro-Toques chefs work directly with the small producers and give credit this produce that comes through their kitchen doors every day with the success of their award-winning restaurants. Furthermore, supporting small local food businesses benefits the local economy too: A study by the New Economics Foundation in London found that every €14 spent at a local food business is worth €35 for the local area, compared with just €20 when the same amount is spent in a supermarket or wholesaler. Check out these website and seek out these exceptional Irish artisan products that we are all so proud of.


Get a few hens…..

It’s win, win all the way if you have a few hens. They can even be in a mobile chicken coop on your lawn. They will gobble up all your household waste; provide you with eggs and chicken manure in return. The latter will activate your compost and when well rotted can be returned to your vegetable patch to make the soil more fertile to grow beautiful healthy vegetables. Plus you don’t have to worry about bin charges…..
Contact: Johnstons of Mountnorris Hatchery in Armagh – – to order day old chicks or keep an eye out a local farmers market, eg Skibbereen.
Check out the Slow Food Ireland website for local suppliers

Second Nature Oils
I get lots of queries from fans of rapeseed oil who are anxious to find an organic source. My favourite comes from Drumeen Farm, in Co. Kilkenny, one of the oldest existing certified organic farms in Ireland where they grow, cold press and bottle a multi award winning 100% Irish extra virgin rapeseed oil and incidentally they have recently introduced a fresh cold pressed and unrefined freshly cold pressed organic flaxseed oil

Dynamic Vegetarian Cooking
At last vegetables are moving to the centre of the plate . There’s a growing realization worldwide that we would be altogether healthier eating lots more fresh vegetables and less but better quality meat. The gardens and greenhouses here at the school are bursting with beautiful produce at the moment so this 1½ day course will reignite your enthusiasm for vegetables, herbs and pulses. We long to share some of our favourites with you – small plates, starters and substantial main courses. We’ll also talk about juicing and have fun making some colourful salads with the spiralizer…this course includes a special guided walk through the vegetable and herb gardens and the greenhouses at Ballymaloe Cookery School and an opportunity to accompany the gardeners as they harvest the produce for the morning’s cooking.
Thursday July 21st and Friday July 22nd, for the details.

Graham Neville’s Organic Smoked Salmon, Clogherhead Crab, Granny Smith Apple

Per person
50g (2 ozs) picked crab meat
10g (½ oz) mayonnaise
5g (¼ oz) finely chopped pickled ginger
5g (¼ oz) pickled ginger juice
A squeeze of lemon
1 large slice of smoked salmon (about 40g/2¾ oz)
1 granny smith apple – cut into thick strips & dressed with a squeeze of lemon & a spoon of olive oil
1 egg, hard boiled – 8 min., cool, peel & sieve yolk & white separately
Finely diced onion – 1 spoon
1 teaspoon salmon eggs
Large caper berries

Lay the hardboiled egg (white and yellow), salmon eggs, diced onion, and caper berry in sequence around the perimeter of the plate.
Lay the salmon flat in the centre of the plate, positioning the crab on top of the salmon.
Lay thick strips of apple neatly on top of the crab.
Can be accompanied with brown bread or brioche

Kevin Aherne’s Blackened Carrot, Fermented Cabbage, Smoked Yolk, Lovage

4 servings

Kevin from Sage Restaurant in Midleton says this is a very simple dish to prepare, but you will have to think 2 weeks ahead to ferment your cabbage. Make a large batch so you can store it away for another day’s use. Note that carrots are only baby carrots twice a year so if out of season replace with celeriac or pumpkin!

For the cabbage
½ Dutch cabbage finely shredded
10g (½ oz) salt
500g (18 ozs) water
10g (½ oz) caraway seeds
12 sage flowers

For the carrots
8 new season baby carrots washed & peeled if necessary
10 g (½ oz) lemon thyme
10 g (½ oz) lemon verbena
50ml (2 fl oz) water
20 g (¾ oz) butter

For the yolk
4 organic eggs separated
Hay for smoking

For the emulsion
50 g (2 oz) lovage
1 egg yolk
30ml (1 fl oz) cider vinegar
100ml (3½ fl oz) rapeseed oil

For the cabbage – Mix the water, caraway & salt together. Immerse shredded cabbage in solution. Place in an airtight container and place in a warm dark area for 2 weeks. Remove from solution and place in an airtight container until needed.
For the emulsion- Place the lovage, vinegar & yolk in a food processor. Blend on high speed for 45 seconds. Then very slowly add the oil. Check for seasoning at the end if needed add a little salt. Store in a squeeze bottle
For the egg yolk- Place the egg yolks over a ban marie of hot water. Heat until 62 degrees. Then blend into a puree in a food processor. Smoke the puree in an old biscuit tin box with the hay. Store in a squeeze bottle
For the carrots – Place the carrots in a pot with the water, thyme, verbena & butter. Gently simmer for 6 minutes. Remove from the pot and char either on the BBQ or an open fire for 5-6 minutes. You might think this is a little odd but the citrus flavours from the herbs and char are magic together.

For assembly
You can serve the cabbage warm or cold your choice. Place just off centre on the plate. Place 2 charred carrots on top along with the Sage flowers. Then, a few dots of emulsion & a few dots of yolk purée.
Enjoy !

Eurotoque Celebration Lemon Cake with crystallized rose petals and lemon verbena

Head pastry chef JR Ryall, of Ballymaloe House made a large version of this cake for the Eurotoque chefs to present to Myrtle Allen in recognition of her legacy to the Irish food scene at the awards.

225 g (8 oz) caster sugar
225 g (8 oz) butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
225 g (8oz) plain white flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
zest 1 lemon

110 g (4oz) butter (room temperature)
225 g (8oz) icing sugar
zest 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon lemon curd, see recipe

2 x 7 inch round cake tins x 3 inch deep

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Line the base of the cake tin with non-stick baking parchment or a spare butter wrapper and brush the sides of the tin with melted butter and dust with flour.
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and light in texture. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add to the creamed butter and sugar, bit by bit, mixing well between each addition.
Sieve the flour with the baking powder. Gradually and gently fold the flour into the cake mixture until the mixture is an even consistency. transfer the mixture into the cake tin and smooth over the surface with a palate knife. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack and when cool carefully cut the cake in half.
To make the butter icing, cream the butter, sieved icing sugar, lemon zest and juice together until pale and light in texture. Spread on third of the icing onto the bottom half of the cake. Neatly spread the lemon curd on top of the butter icing before sandwiching with the top half of the cake. Using a palate knife spread the remaining icing over the top and down the sides of the cake and decorate with crystallised lemon verbena leaves and rose petals.

Pimentos de Padron

We love Padron peppers, but we’ve had to bring them in from Brindisa in London for our Tapas courses for many years . The good news, Padron peppers are now available in several of our top supermarkets and here in response to several requests is a recipe for the way the Spanish love to eat them.

Serves 2

Pimentos de Padron are small green peppers named after a town in Galicia where they have been grown for over 400 years. They are usually fried in olive oil, sprinkled with coarse sea salt and served as a tapa. They are so delicious and addictive. Eating them is like playing Russian roulette – once in a while you get a fiery one that tastes volcanic! Serve as a tapa or as a starter.

250g (1/2lb) fresh pimentos de Padron
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) Spanish extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the pimentos. Toss continually with a wooden spoon until they puff up or until lightly browned in spots. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and transfer to a hot plate. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and eat immediately.

Summer School Tour

We’re cruising through West Cork in the sunshine – Marguerite daisies, foxgloves, wild roses, ragged robin, buttercups by the roadside, honeysuckle tumbling through the hedgerows and the fuschia is just about to burst into flower. Oh how beautiful the countryside looks. e’re on our ‘school tour’.

Students from 13 countries made their way to the bus shortly after dawn. First we visited Bill Casey to learn the story of the Shanagarry Smoked Salmon, next a visit to Philip Dennhardt’s Pizza Palace where the Saturday Pizzas are cooked in a woodburning oven. This ‘field trip’ is not just a skite, the object of the exercise is to introduce the students to as many great food concepts as possible. These students who are with us from all over the world, at Gastro Boot Camp, for 12 weeks are looking out for ways to use their newly acquired skills to earn a living from their cooking.

It’s Thursday, so our next stop was Mahon Point Farmers Market, a positive ferment of brilliant ideas. I give each student a meal ticket so they can taste some of the delicious foods. Lauren’s steak sandwich with real Béarnaise Sauce, a BLT or Raclette. A brilliant Volcano pizza from Simon Mould’s woodburning oven, a whole grain or lentil salad drizzled with a spicy dahl from The Rocket Man or chicken tikka and other temptations from Green Saffron. I couldn’t resist some bone broth and Vietnamese pho from Rachel McCormack of Sonny’s Merchants of Broth.

There’s ice cream, sushi, hummus and pitta, seaweed, gorgeous cakes, great coffee, chocolates…….Customers are snapping up Tom Clancy’s beautiful plump chickens, duck eggs and little speckled quail eggs from his farm in Ballycotton. Always a queue at the fresh fish stalls, both for O’ Driscoll’s in Schull and Trevor McNamara in Ballycotton.

Other stalls have tantalizing vegan and gluten free food. Organic vegetables, freshly dug and still covered with soil, fruit, fresh herbs and plants. Arbutus Bakery have crusty artisan breads to tempt and inspire the students to bake and on and on….never enough time to explore but certainly enough to whet everyone’s appetite and fill their minds with ideas for great food.

Back onto the bus to head for West Cork and a visit to Gubbeen Farm just outside Schull. The students were blown away by this entrepreneurial farming family of ‘food makers’ who continue to inspire others to think outside the box. Tom’s herd of friesian cows produce the milk for Giana’s Gubbeen cheese. The whey gets fed to Fingal’s pigs which make the bacon and ever growing range of charcuterie. How on earth does Fingal get time to make handmade knives in the midst of it all. His sister Clovisse grows the organic herbs for the cures and a wonderful range of beautiful vegetables, fruit and salad leaves for local restaurants in summer.

One could spend the entire day there but onwards to Timoleague to visit another artisan producer. Anthony Creswell of Ummera who smokes chicken and duck as well as the Ummera smoked salmon. Anthony nudged on by his wife is a model of sustainability. The students were intrigued with Anthony’s brilliant vermaculture system to deal with waste.

A few miles away in Bandon we called into Urru, Ruth Healy’s food shop, delicatessen and café. An unbearably tempting shop for food lovers with maybe the best selection of cookbooks in the country. Ruth and Diane Curtin gave the students sage advice about how to overcome challenges in business.

By now it was late afternoon and our final stop was at Diva in Ballinspittle. Here Shannen Keane has a bakery and café which draws people from miles around to eat her eclectic food. Great menu and some irresistible cakes and great vegan choices as well as the American style cakes she herself loves.
A very full day and so many inspirational food entrepreneurs reflecting the dynamic food scene of Ireland today.

Check out Fingal Ferguson’s new fermented salamis from the Gubbeen Smokehouse – love at first nibble. Handmade knives need to be ordered ahead and unless I’m mistaken, these knives will become collectors’ items.

Oriel Sea Salt in Drogheda, Co Louth
John Delaney continues to innovate. Irish mineral sea salt kiln dried and whiskey smoked sea salt has just landed on my desk. This beautiful pure salt is worth keeping an eye out for.

Achill Oysters
The Euro-Toques EirGrid Food Awards were announced on Monday June 13th. The first seaweed producer to win an award was Hugh O Malley of Achill Oysters in County Mayo who described the history of his oyster farm as ‘achieving the dream’. His oysters have a unique flavour owing to the peat land sourrounding Hugh’s farm and the high level of salinity in the water.

Garden Workshop: Designing a Herbaceous Border
On Monday July 11th from 9am to 2pm, Susan Turner, Head Gardener at Ballymaloe will teach a half day garden workshop on how to design a herbaceous border. Susan will cover good plant choices for a long season of interest with vibrant colour combinations and contrasts in texture and form. Combining structural plants, under planting, extending the season with annuals, self-sowers and inter planting with bulbs. Seasonal maintenance to include pruning, dividing the plants, weeding techniques and tools, staking and mulching.
Light lunch included.

A Taste of Istanbul
Our ‘Taste Of’ series here at Ballymaloe Cookery School usually reflects my most recent culinary adventures. On my first trip to Turkey, I was absolutely enchanted by the flavours and diversity of the food in Istanbul and Cappadocia. I’ve been so fortunate to have a deeply knowledgeable guide who took me on a culinary walking tour of Istanbul and introduced me to the most notable restaurants, cafes and street foods.
Inspiring cooks and chefs shared their recipes and several cooking classes helped me to get to grips with the eclectic food. Istanbul straddles two continents, so the food reflects the tantalizing flavours from both Asia and Europe.
I can’t wait to share a selection of my favourite finds with you on this two and a half day course which also includes an optional evening presentation of my culinary adventures in Istanbul!
Tuesday July 19th – Thursday July 21st

Eat Yourself Well with Anti Inflammatory Nutrition Plan with nutritionist Debbie Shaw

Debbie Shaw, nutritionist will teach a one day course focusing on 3 lifestyle choices, bone broths and fermentation, anti- inflammatory foods and blood sugar balancing that are important for sustaining long-term health and vitality.
€165.00 includes light lunch, tastings, and delicious easy recipes.
Saturday July 9th , at the Castle Holistic Centre in Castlemartyr, 9.30am-4.30pm. Booking Essential – phone 086 7855868 or email

Smoked Ummera Chicken Salad with Ballyhoura Apples, Walnuts and Dried Cherries

A delicious summer salad to enjoy the produce of several artisan products at once

Serves 6

225g (8oz) boneless smoked turkey or chicken, cut in julienne
1 large Ballyhoura apple, peeled, cut in wide matchsticks and tossed with 1 dessert spoon lemon juice
1 small red onion, peeled, thinly sliced and macerated in 1 dessertspoon lemon or lime juice
3 tablespoons dried cherries, or a fistful of fresh cherries, stoned.
75g (3oz) shelled walnuts, lightly roasted
250g (9oz) baby salad leaves

Lemon Honey Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon runny honey
1/2 teaspoon Irish grainy mustard
6 scant tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare each item as above. Next make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Just before serving, toss the salad leaves in a little dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten. Divide between six deep plates, sprinkle some smoked turkey or chicken, apple julienne, onion rings, dried cherries and toasted walnuts on top, garnish with sprigs of flat parsley or chervil if available.

A Plate of Gubbeen Charcuterie

Thin slices of Gubbeen chorizo, Gubbeen ham, salami, coppa, chistora…… Add a few fresh radishes and some of Clovisse’s salad leaves with crusty country Arbutus breads, sourdough, yeast or Irish soda bread and a glass of red wine.
Arrange the meats on a large platter, open a good bottle of red and tuck in! Follow up with some Gubbeen cheese and crackers.

Smoked Irish Salmon with Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
Bill Casey stresses the importance of buying smoked Irish salmon rather than Irish smoked salmon which can be imported farmed salmon smoked in Ireland. Let’s support our local producers.

Serves 8

225-350g (8-12oz) smoked Irish salmon

Pickled cucumber strips, made from 1 cucumber, 2 teaspoons salt, 110g (4oz/1/2 cup) sugar, 75ml (3fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) cider vinegar

Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk, preferably free range
2 tablespoons French mustard
1 tablespoon white sugar
150ml ground nut or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dill, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

sprigs of dill
chive or wild garlic flowers
freshly cracked black pepper

On the day of serving: First make the cucumber pickle. Cut the cucumber in half, then cut into strips using a potato peeler. Put the cucumber into a deep bowl, add the sugar, salt and cider vinegar. Toss gently, leave to macerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise. Whisk the egg yolk with the mustard and sugar, drip in the oil drop by drop whisking all the time, then add the vinegar and fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Unwrap the smoked salmon, cut down to the skin in thin slices or into â…“ dice. Arrange the drained cucumber strips and the smoked salmon in a haphazard way on each serving plate. Drizzle with Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise. Garnish with tiny sprigs of dill and chive or wild garlic flowers.

Finally add a little freshly cracked black pepper over each serving. Serve with Arbutus Brown Yeast Bread.

Ummera Gravlax or Smoked Mackerel with Cucumber Ribbon Salad and Mustard and Dill Mayonnaise

Substitute Gravlax or Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel for smoked salmon and proceed as above.

Shannen Keane’s Diva Vegan Chocolate Layer Cake

350 g (12 oz/3 cups) flour
100 g (4 ozs/2/3 cups) cocoa
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
450 g (16 oz/2 cups) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt

450 ml (16 fl ozs/2 cups) cold water
100 ml (3½ fl ozs/½ cup) + 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

220 g (8 ozs/2 cups) pure soy, vegan butter
110 g (4 ozs/1 cup) vegan cream cheese
250 g (8 ozs/2 cups) icing sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
110 g (4 oz) good quality chocolate, 70%

Grease and line 3 x 9 inch cake tins with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3.

For the cake, mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together.

Next, mix the dry and wet ingredients together, pour through a strainer and beat again.

Divide the batter between the three tins. Bake in a moderate oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the frosting:- melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. Let cool slightly. Cream the vegan cream cheese and vegan butter. Mix the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Add icing sugar to blend, then the vanilla extract.

To assemble: – Place one cake on a serving plate. Spread the chocolate frosting around the base. Add another cake base, spread with more frosting. Top with the third cake base. Spread remaining frosting on top and around the sides of the cake.

Felicity Cloake A-Z

A for almond, B for blue cheese, C for caramel, D for dumplings, E for eggs, F for fat and so on. Felicity Cloake’s new book, The A-Z of Eating are all themed around Felicity’s favourite ingredients. A pretty novel approach at a time when it’s difficult to come up with something new and catchy but Felicity is definitely one to watch. She writes for the Daily Mail, the New Statesman and the Guardian, was named Food Journalist of the Year. She also carried off the New Media of the Year Award in 2011.

Each chapter opens with a fascinating introduction to the ingredient, blending history, food sciences, sharp insights and top tips. She assumes a certain basic knowledge. This book won’t teach you how to fry an egg or make hollandaise. “It’s for those brave souls who feel they have a fairly firm grasp on the basics, those who know it’s easier to make tomato sauce than to go out and buy a jar, for whom fish holds no fear and baking birthday cakes is a cause for celebration, not panic – in other words, people who can already cook”.

She encourages us to slip out of our well-worn culinary grooves and to cook beyond the most obvious possibilities for some of our favourite ingredients.

Apart from recipes to impress there are lots of tempting ideas to try for utterly delicious midweek suppers. Felicity also urges us cooks to make our lives easier by stocking our kitchens with a few bits of natty kitchen equipment.

Measuring spoons, cheap, last for ever and essential for accurate baking. She’s right, ordinary kitchen spoons vary widely in size.

A stick blender, less of an investment than a stand mixer and super useful for everything from homemade mayonnaise to soups, sauces, smoothies, whipping cream.

A cooking thermometer, Felicity poses the question – why faff about trying to guess the temperature of oil or caramel or whether your Sunday roast is rosy pink or well done in the centre. Digital varieties with a probe on a lead are most practical. I still like to teach people how to judge without any props but these inexpensive thermometers are brilliantly handy and eliminate the guesswork.

An oven thermometer is another must have, few ovens are the same temperature from top to bottom and cooks very often blame themselves for inconsistent results. This little gadget will take away the guilt and empower you to get the serviceman around.

Finally a decent food processor, they don’t come cheap but I certainly bless the person who invented this robust time saving gadget on a daily basis.

If you don’t yet have a food processor put it on your wish list, let it be known among family and friends.

Few bits of kitchen can transform your enjoyment of cooking like a food processor; laboursome tasks are literally done in seconds rather than minutes or even hours.

Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye in the A-Z of Eating by Felicity Cloake published by Penguin Random House.

Under Z for zest, I found peach and mozzarella salad with lemon zest and basil. Under U for umami, another little gem, courgette. T is for toast, lots of ideas here for our favourite comfort food, I choose salmon and coriander tartare and in the year that’s in it Tricolour jellies, a delicious green, white and gold jelly made with basil, mozzarella and tomatoes and finally under I for ices an easy-peasy banana and peanut butter ice. There’s tons more but I’m sure these ideas will whet your appetite



Felicity Cloake’s Salmon and Coriander Tartare with Avocado and Wasabi Cream on Toasted Rye


Serves 2


1 ripe Haas avocado

2 teaspoons wasabi paste

Juice of 1 lime

1 teaspoon soy sauce (preferably Japanese)

1 salmon fillet

A small bunch of coriander, chopped

A handful of pea shoots

1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

A dash of pumpkin seed, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

2 slices of dark rye bread


Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone, and then scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Add half the wasabi along with the lime juice and soy sauce. Whiz until smooth (or mash as best you can, if you don’t have a stick blender), then taste and season. I like to add the rest of the wasabi, but you may not.


Skin the salmon if necessary, and then cut into small dice. Put into a small bowl with the coriander, season well, and toss together with the pea shoots, pumpkin seeds and a dash of oil.

Toast the bread until crisp, then spread with the avocado and top with the salmon and pea shoots. Eat immediately.



Felicity Cloake’s Courgette Fritters with Bagna Cauda Hollandaise


Serves 4 with extra sauce


450 g courgettes

2 spring onions

50 g plain flour

50 g dried breadcrumbs, preferably panko

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

A whole nutmeg, to grate

1 egg

Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Oil, to fry


For the Sauce

3 fat garlic cloves

10 anchovies, rinsed if packed in salt

100 ml olive oil

3 egg yolks

150 g cold butter, cubed


Coarsely grate the courgettes into a colander in the sink. Salt lightly, toss and leave to weep while you make the sauce.

Roughly chop the garlic and anchovies and mash together into a smooth paste. Heat a splash of oil in a small frying pan over a lowish heat and gently fry the mixture until the garlic just smells cooked. Scoop out of the hot pan so it doesn’t continue cooking.

Heat the olive oil to warm. (I put the jug into a saucepan of hot water) and boil a small kettle of water. Put the egg yolks into a pan with 1 tablespoon of cold water and the butter and set over a low heat. Stir continually until the butter has melted and emulsified into a smooth, thickish sauce, then gradually but vigorously whisk in the warm olive oil. Turn up the heat slightly and whisk until thickened. If it threatens to separate, whisk in a little of the boiling water from the kettle, which should bring it back tougher. Once thickened, stir in the anchovy and garlic and set aside somewhere warm while you make the fritters, whisking it occasionally (I sit the pan in the larger pan of warm water previously occupied by the jug of oil).

Squeeze the courgettes well. Finely slice the spring onions, and then put in to a large bowl with the courgettes, flour, breadcrumbs, chilli flakes and a pinch of nutmeg. Briefly beat the egg and mix in along with the parsley.

Heat enough oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat to shallow fry – if you only grease the pan, your fritters will be soggy. Once the pan is hot enough that a courgette strand sizzles as it hits the oil, add the mixture in spoonfuls, flattening out as you do so, and fry in batches until golden brown on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper, then serve with the sauce.



Felicity Cloake’s Peach and Mozzarella Salad with Crispy Lemon Zest and Basil


Serves 2


1 large unwaxed lemon

6 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 fairly ripe peaches or nectarines

1 ball of buffalo mozzarella

4 sprigs of basil


Peel the zest from the lemon in strips, keeping them as thin as possible to avoid the bitter white pith. Scrape any pith off the peel with a sharp knife, then cut the strips into long thin lengths. Put a plate lined with kitchen  paper by the hob.


Heat the oil in a small frying pan and when hot fry the zest for about 30 seconds, until just beginning to crisp and colour. Use a slotted spoon to scoop on the paper to drain, and allow the oil in the pan to cool.


Juice the lemon and whisk the cooled oil into 2 tablespoons of the juice. Season to taste.


Slice the peaches and divide between two small plates in a circle. Sprinkle with a little dressing, then tear the mozzarella over the top. Spoon over a little more dressing, season and sprinkle with the lemon zest strips and torn basil leaves to serve



Felicity Cloake’s Tricolore Jellies


Makes 6


Familiar flavours – the tang of tomato, the creaminess of mozzarella the sweet pepperiness of basil – cast in a new and unexpected form: miniature jellies.


These can be made a couple of days in advance which is always handy – and though it looks like you’ve gone to great effort, the work involved is minimal and basic.


For the tomato jelly

600 g ripe tomatoes, halved or quartered

1 small garlic clove, crushed

100 ml tomato juice

¼ teaspoon sugar

2½ gelatine leaves

Neutral oil, to grease


For the Mozzarella panna cotta

1 burrata (you won’t need all of it)

100 ml whole milk

1 gelatine leaf


For the basil jelly

1 lemon

40 g fresh basil leaves, plus a few extra

1½ gelatine leaves


For the tomato jelly, whizz up the tomatoes and garlic with the juice, the sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Line a sieve with muslin or a clean tea towel, set it over a large bowl and pour in the tomatoes, then gather up the sides of the material over the tomatoes and secure the top of the bundle with an elastic band. Suspend this above the bowl and leave to drain for at least 3 hours, squeezing the bag occasionally to help it along.


Once you’ve drained off most of the tomato liquid (you should have about 300 ml – if it’s significantly less, top up with tomato juice; if more, make the excess into a Bloody Mary shot), soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water until soft and crunchable. Meanwhile, bring the juice to a simmer in  a small pan. Squeeze out the gelatine and stir into the warm juice until dissolved.


Grease six small dariole moulds, or small glass dishes if you don’t’ want to turn them out, and divide the tomato mixture between them. Chill until set.


When the tomato jelly is beginning to set, measure out 75 g of the burrata, making sure you get a good lot of the cream inside. Finely chop the solid skin. Put into a small pan with the milk and a generous pinch of salt and heat gently, stirring once warm to encourage the cheese to melt. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine in cold water until soft. Once the dairy mixture is smoothish, squeeze out the gelatine and stir into the milk, then allow to cool to warm room temperature, stirring occasionally. Pour over the back of a spoon on top of the set tomato jelly (to stop them merging) and refrigerate.

For the basil jelly, bring a small pan of salted water to the boil and prepare a large bowl of iced water with the juice of the lemon squeeze into it. Blanch the basil for 15 seconds, then scoop out into the iced water. Reserve 180 ml of the blanching water, and allow it to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, soak the gelatine as before. Stir it into the warm blanching water and allow to cool, stirring occasionally, then drain and roughly chop or coarsely puree the basil and stir it inot the gelatine mixture with a pinch of salt. Pour on top of the panna cotta and refrigerate until set.

Turn out onto plates if you’re feeling brave, or serve in the dishes, with a basil leaf on top, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some toasted ciabatta.




Felicity Cloake’s Simple Banana and Peanut Butter Ice


This is so unbelievably creamy that you won’t miss the dairy one bit – the peanut butter is optional and be left out or substituted with honey, chocolate spread or chips, nuts, spice, maple syrup….ideal for children and best eaten as soon as it’s made rather than frozen.

The bananas must be really ripe or they won’t be sweet enough


Serves 2-4

(2 greedily, 4 more moderately)

4 very ripe bananas

2 teaspoons peanut butter

Handful of salted roasted peanuts, to top (optional)


Peel the bananas, chop into even slices and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Put into a food processor and whiz until smooth and creamy (you’ll probably need to keep sticking a spatula in to stop it clumping into large frozen balls, but it will happen, I promise).

Add the peanut butter, or any other flavourings, and a pinch of salt and whiz to incorporate. Serve with a few roughly chopped peanuts scattered over the top, or indeed a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce.



Garden Workshop: Successional Sowings and Summer Harvesting


On Monday June 27th Susan Turner of Ballymaloe Cookery School gardens will teach a one day gardening course on successional sowings through the summer. Susan will cover organic year round crop rotation, crop management, feeding regimes and harvesting, best methods to attract beneficial insects and pest control…..9.30am-5pm

There will be coffee on arrival and light lunch included.


Discovering Tapas


Some of the most fashionable and hip tapas bars have popped up in LA, San Francisco, New York and London

Why? Because tapas offers a unique combination of taste and convenience making them perfect for home entertaining. There are literally hundreds of tapas and pinchos: classic tortilla a la patata, shavings of Serrano or lberico hams, chorizo with fino sherry, salt cod fritters with piquillo peppers, albondigas, bonita with anchovies, prawns with chilli and sea salt, pinchos moranos, queso con membrillo…….. On Wednesday June 29th, Darina Allen has chosen some of the favourite tapas collected during her visits to Spain over the years.


Summer Food Festivals are in full swing.

Catch the Westport Food Festival this weekend, one of the best. Mushroom foraging, a Food Village showcasing local products, hourly cookery demonstrations and family fun set against the backdrop of Croagh Patrick.


Become a BBQ Hero

Host a fun event this summer that also raises money for a great cause.

The Marie Keating Foundation needs you to host a fundraising BBQ this summer with your friends, family or workmates. It doesn’t matter when you host it, how many people you invite, or if you’re a good cook. All that matters is that you and your friends are coming together to help  a worthy cause. Register online to get your ‘starter pack’


Bountiful Season



For those of us who love to grow some of our own food this is the beginning of the bountiful season where each meal begins with a ‘oops’ in my tummy and a feeling of delight at the first radishes, first new potatoes, the first beets, the first fresh green peas, the first cucumbers and most amazing of all the first little cherry tomatoes, the earliest ever.

My fussy little grandchildren run in and out of the rows of peas and broad beans picking, choosing the fattest pods, the greenhouse is their greengrocer. This is where food comes from as far as they are concerned, not off a supermarket shelf. They pull the carrots out of the ground, run them under the tap and munch them, there and then. They show their friends excitedly how to pod the broad beans, pluck them out of their furry nests and nibble them fresh out of the pods. Every day is a new thrill for them.

The Cookery School students too are enchanted by the abundance of fresh produce. Several planted a little veg plot in a raised bed, 5 or 6 weeks ago and are astonished to be harvesting produce from them already. Others have box gardens with lettuce, little carrots, fresh herbs and radishes on the window sills of their cottages. It’s like magic and remember if you teach someone how to sow a seed to grow some of their own food, you change their life – and no you don’t need to live in the country or a farm or even have a garden. All you need is a container, could be a seed tray, an old box or even a drawer, a seed, light and water and hey presto you can grow on your window sill, balcony, roof, up walls, down walls, in your back yard……

In fact, it’s happening already everywhere. ‘Grow Food not Lawns’ is a big movement in the US now.

There’s a huge grass roots movement , an explosion,  urban farming and gardening from Manhattan to Tokyo. It’s literally a worldwide phenomenan, as more and more people want to take back a little control over the food they eat.  The call for a new type of agriculture and sustainable food production system grows ever louder.

We also had the first of the kohl rabi recently, they all seem to be ready at the same time, so we were frantically testing recipes so we wouldn’t waste a single scrap.

Not sure if you know them, they look like ‘sputnicks’ with stalks and leaves growing haphazardly from the sides. They too are edible. The kohl rabi itself tastes like a mild white turnip and is delicious either raw or cooked.

Here are two of the recipes we particularly enjoyed.

We also use both the stalks and the leaves of the young beets, they are so delicious, just chopped and cooked in boiling salted water. Stalks first for a few minutes, then add the leaves for a few a minute or two more.  Drain very well, then toss in butter or extra virgin olive oil. One of the best greens of all, but we also made a beetroot stalk soup and a separate beetroot leaf soup. One was a grey/green the other pinky red, both were so delicious we will definitely make them again.

For a little bit of fun, we poured some of each into a soup bowl so we had two distinct colours and an impressive cheffy presentation. But think of it, when you grow your own beets one has three vegetables rather than just the one. The beet greens and stalks are normally just chopped off and disregarded in the current retail system. Another compelling reason to have a go at growing your own.

Hedgerows all around the country have fluffy white elderflower and the green gooseberries are prefect to use so don’t miss the magical combination, delicious on their own or with panna cotta, ice cream, carrageen moss….a flavour combo made in heaven.

Another reason to give thanks to Mother Nature and the gardeners….


Kohlrabi or White Turnip and Coconut Curry


Serves 4-6


225g (8oz) onion, peeled and finely chopped

25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

700g (1 1/2lbs) kobhrabi or white turnip, peeled and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) dice

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

seeds from 8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

20g (3/4oz) fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

sea salt and black pepper

1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes

400ml (14fl oz/1 3/4 cup) vegetable stock or water

200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) coconut milk

handful fresh coriander leaves


Rice and Naan bread

Mint or coriander yoghurt


Melt the butter and the oil in a wok, add the onion and sweat over a gentle heat until soft and translucent.  Meanwhile, prepare the kohlrabi, add to the onion and cook uncovered for 3-4 minutes.


Stir in the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds and cook for 2 minutes, careful not to brown the seeds or they will become bitter.  Add the ground turmeric or coriander, crushed cardamom seeds, ginger, garlic and chillies and cook for 30 seconds.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the chopped tomatoes, stock or water. Bring to the boil and and simmer for 20 minutes, then add the coconut milk and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the kohlrabi is tender.  Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Pour into a hot serving bowl, scatter with coriander and serve with rice, naan bread and mint or coriander yoghurt.


 (Recipe adapted from


Kohlrabi, White Cabbage and Cranberry Slaw with Herbs and Sesame Seeds


Love this salad which we borrow from Yotam Ottolenghi – the pickled ginger provides a zesty burst of flavour.


Serves 4


3-4 kohlrabi bulbs

200g white cabbage

25g parsley, chopped

25g dill, chopped

25g tarragon, chopped

70g dried cranberries

2 teaspoons pickled ginger

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

120ml lemon juice

2 tablespoons honey

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame oil

4 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds

2 tablespoons nigella seeds

salt and black pepper


Peel the kohlrabi, slice thinly and cut them into matchsticks. Quarter, core and slice the cabbage across the grain as thinly as possible.


Put into a large bowl, add all of the other ingredients, mix well.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and tweak if necessary




Beetroot Soup with Chive Cream

Serves 8-10


In Season: Summer & Autumn


900g (2 lb) young beetroot

25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter

225g (1/2lb) onions

salt and freshly ground pepper

1.2L (2 pints/5 cups) homemade chicken or vegetable stock approx.

125ml (4fl oz/1/2 cup) creamy milk


Chive Cream

125ml (4 fl oz) sour cream or crème fraiche


Finely chopped chives

Wash the beetroot carefully under a cold tap. Don’t scrub, simply rub off the clay with your fingers. You won’t want to damage the skin or cut off the top or tails because it will ‘bleed’ in the cooking.  Put the beetroot into cold water, and simmer covered for anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size and age.

Meanwhile chop the onions, sweat carefully and gently in the butter until they are cooked.   The beetroot are cooked when the skins will rub off easily.

Chop the beetroot and add to the onions. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. * Put into a liquidiser with the hot chicken stock. Liquidise until quite smooth.  Reheat, add some creamy milk, taste and adjust the seasoning, it may be necessary to add a little more stock or creamy milk.

Serve garnished with little swirls of sour cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped chives.

Watchpoint: careful not to damage the beetroot during preparation or they will bleed


Golden Beetroot Soup

Use the golden Chioggia beetroot variety in the recipe above.


Chilled Beetroot Soup

Proceed as in the master recipe above to *. Liquidise with just enough stock to cover. The mixture should be smooth and silky. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fold in some cream and yoghurt.


Serve well chilled in small bowls with little swirls of yoghurt and finely chopped chives.


Elderflower Cake with Green Gooseberry Compote


12 ozs (350g) soft butter

12 ozs (350g) castor sugar

4 eggs, preferably free range

12 ozs (350g) self-raising flour


Elderflower Syrup

2 heads of elderflower

2oz (50g) castor sugar

¼ pint (150ml) water

zest and juice of one unwaxed lemon


We used a round tin with slightly sloping sides – 1½ (4cm) deep, bottom diameter 8½ in (21.5cm), 9½ (24cm) across top,  well greased, but a regular 9 in (23cm)  round cake tin will be fine.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4. Put the butter, castor sugar, eggs and self-raising flour into a food processor. Whizz for a few seconds to amalgamate. Spread evenly in the well buttered tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour approx. or until golden brown and well risen.

Meanwhile make the syrup.  Put the sugar and water into a saucepan over a medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, add the elderflowers, bring to the boil for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice.  Leave aside to cool.  Strain.

As soon as the cake is cooked, pour all the syrup over the top, leave to cool. (see note at end of recipe)

Remove the cake from the tin and serve with Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote and softly whipped cream for dessert.

A slice of the cake on its own with a cup of tea is also delicious.

Note: If you are serving the cake on its own, only pour half the syrup over it.



Green Gooseberry and Elderflower Compote


Serves 6-8


2 lbs (900g) green gooseberries

2 or 3 elderflower heads

1 pint (600ml) cold water

1 lb (450g) sugar


First top and tail the gooseberries. Tie 2 or 3 elderflower heads in a little square of muslin, put in a stainless steel or enamelled saucepan, add the sugar and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and continue to boil for 2 minutes. Add the gooseberries and simmer just until the fruit bursts. Allow to get cold. Serve in a pretty bowl and decorate with fresh elderflowers.


Hot Tips

Só Sligo Food Festival

If you are in the North West, don’t miss Só Sligo Food Festival. Lots of exciting things that include foraging walks, pizza making for the kids, Irish Stew Championship…one of the highlights is the

Irish Fermentation Festival as part of Só Sligo Food Festival.

On Sunday June 19th, at the Organic Centre in County Leitrim

from 2pm there will be cookery demonstrations, talks, tastings and make your own fermented foods. JP McMahon, Prannie Rhatigan, Gaby and Hans Wieland and many others are participating on the day. or tel: 071 985 4338

Slow Food Mayo

It’s all happening in the North West. Slow Food Mayo have a convivial day out on Thursday June 23rd beginning at 12.30pm with a tour of Mescan Brewery, a tasting lunch at The Tavern in Murrisk, Co Mayo and seaweed foraging along the coast of Clew Bay.

Tel: 098 64060

World of Coffee comes to Dublin, June 21st – 22nd 2016

The World of Coffee comes to Dublin featuring a coffee symposium, sustainability forum, world barista championship, educational and workshop seminars, world brewers cup…

Litfest 2016

They’ve all gone back to their respective countries now but it was such a buzz to have so many diverse top chefs from all over the world with us here at Ballymaloe for the Litfest.

Many like Frances Mallman, Eric Werner and Mya Henry from Mexico had never been to Ireland before. Neither had Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla from Bar Tartine in San Francisco. They are the pair who are passionate about fermented foods and have been rediscovering and experimenting since 2011. They gave a demonstration to a packed room of students eager to discover or to relearn the simple skills of one of the earth’s most natural processes. The interest in fermentation has become intense now that so many people have gut problems and realise that there is a connection between a healthy gut, the brain and our general wellbeing.

Katie Sanderson of the Dillisk Project also focused on fermented food.

She and Jasper O’ Connor  just two of the bright and brilliant new generation of young Ireland chefs who are passionate about fresh seasonable produce from the land, sea and the wild.

Ottolenghi was back this time with Ramael Scully, his business partner in the hugely successful NOPI restaurant in Warwick Street in London. They gave a super entertaining action, packed dem of recipes from their new book NOPI.

Claire Ptak, the gentle pastry queen from Violet Cakes in London’s Hackney enchanted her audience with a selection of the handmade cakes and cookies that make her little café famous. She used a variety of flours, spelt flour, oat flour, buckwheat flour, wholemeal spelt, kamut flour….. many suitable for those with a gluten intolerance. Her book published by Random House is called The Violet Bakery Cookbook.

Frances Mallman, the King of Fire from Argentina has a cult following all over the world ever since he appeared on The Chefs Table on Netflix. People flew in from Japan, Australia, the US, Spain the UK to see him. He cooked over ‘live fire’ in 5 different ways. Griddle, ashes, hung, iron cross, grill… He cooked dry aged ribs of beef from the farm, organic chickens, brined and stuffed with lemon and marjoram, a whole lamb, asador was also cooked to perfection. He went to the greenhouses and picked and collected a variety of fresh lettuce, vegetables spinach, swiss chard, kale, carrots and beetroot made them into a long roll and cooked them side by side with sweet breads on the plancha, an 8ft x 4ft metal plate. He told us it was his first time to try this vegetable roll but he was so moved by the beautiful fresh, new season’s vegetables that he wanted to cook them. The word had got out that he was starting at 4am so about 10or 12 enthusiasts turned up to watch him build the fires and start to get the lamb and joints of meats on cooking.

By noon, the  meats were cooked to perfection and I mean perfection, not an easy task but a skill honed over 30 years and Frances says he’s only beginning a journey of relearning how to cook over live fire as our ancestors did. He served several sauces to complement the meats, chimichurri, salsa criolla…

Frances loved the beautiful walk along the cliffs at Ballycotton, sea pinks and wild flowers in bloom and sky larks singing. He, like so many of the others long to return to Ireland.  We were so fortunate the sun shone, just two showers over the week end to remind us of what the weather could have been like. All the chefs and food writers were blown away and envious of the quality of the food from the land, sea and wild that we can produce in this country. They return to their country with a pen in their hand to spread the word of what’s happening on the food scene in Ireland.

Eric Werner and Mya Henry from Hartwood charmed their fans with the story of the restaurant they set up along a jungle road on the Carribbean sea in Tulum. The menu they write daily from the food of their gardens and neighbouring Mayan farms and the fish that is spearhunted by local fishermen. They consider sustainability first and foremost in their work and in every decision in the restaurant. Here again everything is cooked over wood fire and people travel from all over the world for the experience.


Hot Tips

East Cork Slow Food Event

Seventh generation miller, Robert Mosse from Kells Wholemeal will tell the story of their family mill in Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny and explain the process and tell us all about the grains and flours at a time when there is a growing interest in different types of flour. Lots of samples of baked goods to taste. Don’t miss this fascinating evening.

Wednesday June 15th at 7pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School

Tel: 021 4646785

Kaffir Lime Plants

Keen cooks should make a dash for Deelish Garden Centre outside Skibbereen. They have kaffir lime plants for sale as well as many other choice plants for adventurous chefs.

Tel: 028 21374

Charles Dowding of No Dig Gardening fame in Shepton Mallet, Somerset is coming to the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday June 18th.  I was so inspired by his garden in Alhampton when I visited last year that I invited Charles to teach a course here. We have been experimenting ever since with the No Dig method on the farm and in the gardens with very encouraging results.

In this one day workshop, Charles will share his skills, experience and passion for this alternative way of growing. Participants will also see a slide show of the spectacular results in his own garden which continues to be a work in progress.



Elderflower is in bloom all over the countryside, make syrups, fritters, cordial, elderflower champagne.



Francis Mallmann’s Whole Boneless Rib Eye with Chimichurri

Serves 20

I usually cook roasts on the bone because I like the way bones gently conduct heat into the meat. But when you slather a coating of chimichurri on a boneless rib roast, the result is the most heavenly crust you can imagine. Just keep an eye on the cooking time and the internal temperature. Since all ovens vary, the timings given below are just guidelines that you may need to adjust in your own oven.


1 boneless rib-eye roast, 6-10 lbs

Coarse salt

2 cups chimichurri, or more if desired (see recipe)

6 bay leaves


Preheat the oven to 450F, with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt and coat on all sides with half the chimichurri (reserve the rest for serving). Scatter the bay leaves over the meat. Place on a rack in  large roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350F and roast for approximately 10 minutes more per pound for rare (120F). transfer to a carving board and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Carve the beef and serve with the remaining chimichurri.


For the Salmuera


Makes about 2 cups


1 cup water

1 tablespoon coarse salt



1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

1 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves

1 cup fresh oregano leaves

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil


To make the salmuera, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the salt and stir until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Mince the garlic very fine and put in a medium bowl. Mince the parsley and oregano and add to the garlic, along with the red pepper flakes. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and then the olive oil. Whisk in the salmuera. Transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid, and keep in the refrigerator. Chimichurri is best prepared at least 1 day in advance, so that the flavours have a chance to blend. The chimichurri can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 to 3 weeks.


Bar Tartine’s Green Chili Fisherman’s Stew

Serves 4 to 6

55g (2oz/2 cups) packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves

2 litres (3½ pints/8 cups) fish stock

2 teaspoons filtered sunflower oil

2 small sweet white onions, thinly sliced

8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

115g (4oz) hen of the woods or oyster mushrooms, stemmed

1 x 225g (8oz) fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons Hatch or other green chile powder (any green chilli powder is fine)

450g (1lb) skinless sturgeon, carp, or catfish fillets, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) pieces – use Hake

115g (4oz) young collard greens, stemmed and torn into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces

60ml (2 1/2fl oz/1/4 cup) fish sauce

12 oil packed anchovy fillets, minced

1 lemon, halved

green onions, white and tender green parts, thinly sliced, for garnish

fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

freshly ground black pepper


In a blender or food processor, combine 40g (1 1/2oz) of the parsley leaves and 480ml (2 cups) of the stock and puree until smooth. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the remaining stock to a simmer. Heat a medium sauté pan over the medium heat until a drop of water flicked onto the surface sizzles gently on contact. Add the sunflower oil to the sauté pan and then immediately add the onions, garlic, mushrooms, fennel and 1tsp of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the chile powder and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the simmering stock along with the fish pieces, collard greens, fish sauce, anchovies, and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Simmer until the fish is cooked and the collards are tender, about 5 minutes. Note that the carp and catfish are more delicate than sturgeon. They will fall apart if cooked for more than 5 minutes or if stirred too vigorously. Stir in the pureed parsley mixture and remove from the heat.

Ladle the stew into individual bowls. Tear the remaining parsley leaves directly into each serving. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to each bowl and garnish with green onions, parsley and pepper. Leftover stew will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.


Katie Sanderson’s Peas, Summer Kale and Dashi Broth

I tend to use Dashi as the basis for stews and soups now over vegetable stock. I like the lightness and that I’m getting seaweed into my tummy.


2 onions

40g (1 3/4oz) ginger

2 cloves garlic

olive oil (a fair bit)

300g (10oz) Cavolo Nero – alternative is perfect

600g (1 1/4lb) peas (fresh or frozen)

1.2 litres (2 pints) Dashi (see recipe)

salt and pepper



pea shoots



Japanese Kombu, Irish Kelp, Alaria (Wakame)


dried Shitake (optional)

1 litre (1 3/4 pints) of water


First make the dashi.  Place the cut up seaweed in the cold water and allow to steep for half hour, place on a gentle heat for approx. 20 minutes not letting the temperature rise above 60˚C/140˚F.


Prepare dashi the night before by leaving seaweed in room temp water and allowing to steep overnight. This will keep in your fridge for 3-5 days.

Next, sweat your onions, garlic and ginger in your olive oil in a medium sized pot. Once the onions are translucent and cooked, add the kale and cook further for about a minute or so. Lastly add your peas and then dashi and leave on medium heat for about five minutes.

Season with lots of salt and pepper.

In a high speed blender whizz 3/4 of the mixture and pour back into your pot.

Grate some roasted walnuts on top (looks like Parmesan)

Serve warm with pea shoots.

Note: Dashi is a type of cooking stock that is sometimes considered the backbone of Japanese cuisine. I personally think it’s about time that we started incorporating it more into our diets too. It’s the simplest way of extracting the flavour of seaweed, an instant pick me up and a great source of iron and nutrients.

By cutting the seaweed up there is an increase of approximately 35per cent more umami and very obviously a greater tasting stock. Don’t wipe the white-ish powder off the seaweed. Seaweeds are a great source of Glutamic acid and thus naturally occurring MSG. (that’s what the white stuff is).

Japanese kelp is different to the types we have along our coastline, Dillisk is considered better alternative then Irish kelp for making broth BUT picking seaweed and using it in the kitchen is really an amazing experience. Tasting the Irish sea is always WIN.


Claire Ptak’s Rhubarb Roulade


Rhubarb is a great match for sweet meringue. This version is really easy and quick to make, as the meringue and rhubarb can be baked ahead.

For the meringue
4 egg whites
250g (9oz) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoon cornflour

For the rhubarb
500g (18oz) rhubarb, topped and tailed
1 vanilla pod
100g (3 1/2oz) caster sugar
zest of 1 orange
a splash of orange blossom water
500ml (18fl oz) double cream
2 teaspoons  caster sugar
2 tablespoons rhubarb syrup, from roasting

Heat your oven to 160ËšC/325ËšC/Gas Mark 3.

Butter and line a 20x30cm (8×11 inch) Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, so the paper is coming right up the sides.

Put the egg whites in a squeaky-clean mixing bowl and, using an electric whisk, beat into soft peaks. Add the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time with the whisk running, until all the sugar is incorporated and you have soft, glossy peaks. Fold in the vanilla extract, vinegar and cornflour. Spread into the lined tin, then bake for 30 minutes until it has formed a crust on the surface. Let it cool in the tin

Arrange the rhubarb in a baking dish, and top with the vanilla pod (seeds scraped), sugar and orange zest. Cover the dish with kitchen foil and roast for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and roast for a further 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the orange blossom water.

Separately, pour the cream into a large bowl and whisk until it is just thickening. Do not overwhip it, as it will continue to thicken as it rests. Add the sugar and 2 tablespoons roasting syrup from the rhubarb.

To assemble the roulade, transfer the meringue from the tin on to a work surface. Spread with the cream, leaving a small border around the edge. Top with the rhubarb, then roll tightly away from yourself. The edge of the meringue should be at the bottom of the roulade for a prettier finish.

Post Litfest

Well, I’ve just put my feet up for the first time in several days – the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine is over for another year. It was quite an event with thousands of people converging on East Cork for the weekend. Over 30 nationalities that we know of and as one hassled visitor complained to me ‘there wasn’t a bed between here and Cork’. Fortunately we found her one but the event certainly created a huge buzz and generated a lot of excitement in the greater area.

There were many highlights…. the thought provoking 15 minute talks in the Grainstore on a whole range of topics. Food in a Warzone with Kamal Mouzuwak from the Lebanon, Seaweeds eat them, meet them with Prannie Rhatigan, Ella McSweeney chaired a panel on Farming the Soil, Prue Leith founder of Leiths Cookery School in London spoke about her life in food. Elizabeth Luard, Sacred Food was also riveting but one of the most thought provoking of all was Professor Ted Dinan of UCC’s talk on the relationship between our gut and our psychological wellbeing. Ari Weinzweig from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor in Michigan’s talk was entitled ‘A Lapsed Anarchist’, his subject, how to create a successful business and a happy workforce. Many of these presentations will be up on the Litfest website within the next couple of weeks.

The Big Shed where the Fringe takes place was rocking.  The food stalls were specially selected for their ‘great food’.  ‘My Goodness’s Heavy Nettle shot and an Irish take on pupusas made with potato, charlock and wild garlic was a  huge hit as were Ivan Whelan’s sausage, egg and chips. Ivan had three fryers on the go, Choose Your Fat….

Pat Whelan’s dripping, fresh pork lard or sunflower oil for the vegetarians. The homemade sausages, Frankfurters, Bratwurst, and Boorwurst were made by Fingal Ferguson of Gubeen who was doing a beautiful Gubeen plate with  a selection of his cured meats. Back to Ivan, the artisan mustard came from Graham Kearns, Co Meath, the ketchup, sauces and salsas were handmade

The Bloody Mary and Bloody Shame (non alcoholic) made from homemade tomato ketchup caused quite a sensation….

Arun Kapil of Green Saffron also had long queues for Spicy John Dory and salmon with peas and coconut flakes as did The Rocket Man’s falafel pockets. Lolo had his entire family serving crêpes and many other good things. Joe and Sandra Burns Farm Vegetable Chips and much much more…….

The Ballymaloe gang did a brilliant job of giving chefs, speakers and guests a taste of the very best of Ireland. Can you imagine the sun shone on both days with only two thunder showers to remind us of how it could have been….but this column is about food and as ever there were many highlights among the cookery dems at the Cookery School and here are just a few, I’ll share some more with you all in the next couple of weeks.


Hot Tips

We discovered lots of new artisan products over the weekend. Graham’s Wholegrain Mustards from Co Meath are quite a find; they are made from a carefully selected brown and yellow mustard seeds and aged for 2½ months to let the flavours develop, the end result is really worth seeking out.

This is Seaweed

Paul O Connor’s little tins of dried seaweed also caught my eye, great to sprinkle over salads, soups, add to breads….check out his website for the story,

Burren Slow Food Festival, 28th and 29th May at the Pavillion, Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare

Many highlights include cookery demos with JP McMahon from Anair,  Oonagh O’ Dwyer, Evan Doyle will talk Wild and Slow,  Burren Slow Food Banquet, oyster, wine and stout tastings, whisky and chocolate, champagne and wild salmon and lots more… #burrenfoodfest



Ottolenghi’s Burnt Spring Onion Dip with Kale

Serves 6

Spring Onion Cream

1 head of garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

150g (5oz) spring onions (about 12-14), ends trimmed then sliced in half lengthways leaving 110g(4oz) in weight

1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil

150g (5oz) cream cheese

110g (4oz) soured cream

coarse sea salt and black pepper


90ml olive oil (3 1/3fl oz)

6 garlic cloves, thinly slices

3 large red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced

550g (20oz) curly kale, washed though stems removed, cut widthways into 3-4cm (1 1/4 – 1 1/2 inch) slices (450g/16oz)

2 tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7(200°C/400°F fan)

Slice the top quarter off the head of garlic, horizontally, and discard. Place the remaining garlic in the centre of a square of foil, with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Wrap up the garlic, place it on a baking tray and roast for 30 minutes until soft. Set aside and, when cool enough to touch, squeeze out the garlic cloves, discard the skin and, using the flat side of a sharp knife, crush to form a puree. Set aside until ready to use.

Place the spring onions in a bowl and brush with the sunflower oil. Sprinkle over 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Place a small griddle pan on a high heat and ventilate your kitchen. When the pan is smoking hot, add the spring onions and chargrill for 5-6 minutes, turning halfway through, until black and burnt all over. Set aside to cool, the finely chop. Transfer the spring onions to a bowl and add the cream cheese, soured cream, and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the roast garlic puree and the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside until ready to use.

Put the oil for the kale into a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chilli slices and fry for 4-6 minutes, stirring constantly, until crisp and golden-brown. Add the kale, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and cook for 3 minutes – you might need to do this in two or three batches – stirring often, until the kale is cooked but still retains a bite. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and serve warm, on a large platter or individual starter plates, with dollops of the spring onions dip spooned on top.


Ottolenghi’s Garlic Spiced Farinata with Whipped Butterbeans

Serves 4

Farinata is a flatbread made from chickpea flour, which makes it gluten-free as well as delicious. The edges are dry and crisp, whilst the centre is more soft and squidgy, allowing you to scoop up the topping when you eat it. Start with either tinned or dried butterbeans here, which you then cook. Both work just as well.

200g (7oz) flour (aka chickpea flour)

60ml (2 1/2fl oz) olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon sumac

1 teaspoon nigella seeds

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

flaky sea salt


Whipped Butterbeans

1 x 400g (14oz) tin cooked butterbeans, drained and rinsed (240g/8 3/4oz drained weight)

100g (3 1/2oz) cream cheese

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for drizzling

1 spring onion, thinly sliced

1 small preserved lemon (10g/1/2oz), flesh and skin finely chopped

Place the chickpea flour in a large bowl. Slowly add 450ml (16fl oz) of water, whisking constantly, until well combined. Set aside for 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 240°C/ 475°F.

Place all the ingredients for the whipped butterbeans in a food processor with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Blitz for 1-2 minutes, until completely smooth and aerated and then spoon into a small bowl. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and set aside.

Add the oil for the farinata to a large iron skillet which will retain the heat well (if you don’t have one use a heavy-based, ovenproof frying pan). Place on a medium-high heat. Add the garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes, until it starts to sizzle but doesn’t take on any colour. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic out of the oil to a small bowl. Add the sumac, nigella seeds and chilli to the garlic; mix together and set aside.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil left in the pan into the chickpea flour batter along with 1 teaspoon salt. Whisk well and set aside. Tip 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil in the pan out into a separate bowl, leaving 1 tablespoon left in the pan.

Return the frying pan to a high heat and, once the oil starts to smoke, pour in half of the batter, swirling the pan to form an even layer. Heat for 30 seconds, until the batter starts to bubble and then sprinkle over half of the garlic mix. Transfer the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, until cooked through and golden-brown. Use a spatula to remove the farinata from the pan and rest on a large plate. Keep warm (or you can return it to the oven for the last two minutes of cooking time for the next farinata) whilst you cook the second farinata in the same way, using the last tablespoon of garlic oil to do so. Slice into wedges and serve warm, with the whipped butterbeans alongside for spreading over.


Claire Ptak’s Rhubarb Ice-Cream

Acidic fruits, such as rhubarb, make great ice-cream flavours, because they stand up to the richness of a creamy custard. If you are making this ice-cream when the trees are still in blossom, throw in a few handfuls of petals (preferably not from the gutter) in place of the vanilla for a heady, honey-like hint. For best results, this should be made in an ice-cream maker. If you don’t have one, freeze the mixture until solid.

For the custard
350g (12oz) whole milk
150g (5oz) caster sugar
4 egg yolks
600ml (1 pint) double cream (a large pot)
1 vanilla pod
a squeeze of lemon juice (if needed)

For the rhubarb
1kg (2 1/4 lbs) rhubarb
180g (6 1/4oz) caster sugar
1 vanilla pod

In a heavy-based pan, warm the milk, caster sugar and vanilla pod, seeds scraped, until just beginning to bubble. This won’t take long, so while it’s heating up, put your egg yolks into a bowl and whisk. Pour the double cream into a large bowl with a sieve resting on top of it and set aside.

When the milk is ready, temper the yolks by pouring a little of the milk into them, whisking as you go. Now pour the tempered yolks back into the remaining warm milk in the pan. Stirring continuously, heat until the mixture starts to thicken at the bottom of the pan. Strain the custard mixture into the cold cream and whisk well to prevent the custard from cooking any further. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour to cool.

Heat your oven to 180ËšC/350ËšF/Gas Mark 4.

Cut the rhubarb into batons and lay in a baking dish. Coat with the 180g (6 1/4oz) caster sugar and add the vanilla pod, then cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil then roast for a further 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and falling apart. Allow to cool.

Blitz the rhubarb in a food processor, then stir into the ice-cream custard base. Taste the mixture and add a squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of sugar to adjust if needed. See tip about sweetness.

Pour into your ice-cream maker and churn for about 20 minutes, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for 1 hour before serving.


Claire Ptak’s Roasted Squash Cobbler

Serves 6

1 large butternut squash or other delicious pumpkin, such as crown prince (about 1.2kg/2 3/4 lbs)
1 red onion
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
6 sprigs thyme
salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 x 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes, drained
200g (7oz) single cream
10-12 stalks Cavolo Nero, leaves stripped and stalks discarded


For the biscuits
140g (4 3/4oz) plain flour
2 tablespoons wholemeal spelt flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
150g (5oz) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes
4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1 egg, beaten (for coating)


Peel the squash, slice it in half and scrape out the seeds and pulp. Lay the squash cut-side down and cut it into 1cm (1/2 inch) slices. Peel and cut the onion into eighths. Spread the squash and onion pieces out on a parchment-lined tray and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes, sprigs of thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the squash is tender and the onions are starting to caramelise.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the crushed garlic. Once it sizzles but before it goes brown, add the drained tomatoes and crush them up a little in the pan. Simmer for about 6-8 minutes, turning the heat down if it bubbles too ferociously. Whisk in the cream. Cut the Cavolo Nero into ribbons and mix it into the tomato sauce. Toss the roasted squash and onions into the tomatoey cream sauce. Turn off the heat and tip the mixture into a large round baking dish. Set it aside while you make the biscuit topping.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425ËšF/Gas Mark 7.

In a large bowl, whisk together the two flours, the baking powder and the salt. Use a fork or your fingertips to mix the butter into the flour mixture until it’s the size of peas. Stir in the yoghurt and pat the mixture into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle 1.5cm (3/4 inch) thick. Use a 6cm (2 1/2 inch) pastry cutter to cut out four or five biscuits and then gather the scraps to make one or two more biscuits so you have six in total. Place the biscuits on top of the cobbler and brush them with the egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the biscuits are puffed and golden and the cobbler is bubbling away. Serve with a little yoghurt if you wish and a green salad.


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