ArchiveApril 2017

School Tour

On each 12 Week Certificate, course we all pile into a bus to go a ‘foodie’ school tour. We brain storm about opportunities in food and visit some of the exemplars in the artisan and specialty food area. This Spring we started close to home with a visit to Shanagarry Smoke House to see the artisan process and taste Bill Casey’s delicious organic smoked Irish salmon. Then we headed to Mahon Point where the Thursday Farmers Market was already in full swing. What a market, a ton of brilliant ideas and cheery stallholders passionate about the quality of their product. My new big find this time was Irena Tammik from Estonia who was selling her handmade rye sourdough from the community stall which is available for someone with a ‘new’ product to showcase each week. The table was proudly and beautifully decorated with an embroidered family cloth. She was wearing the traditional dress of her village. The little loaves of rye sourdough bread were absolutely authentic and delicious. Those who know this style of bread made all over the Nordic region, Estonia and surrounding countries were thrilled to find this almost ‘forgotten flavour’. For many Irish people, more familiar with soft white bread this may be an unfamiliar flavour but I urge you to try it. One slice of this nutrient dense bread will keep you going till lunch time and remember to wrap and slice thinly – it keeps for weeks.

Drove towards West Cork over the River Lee to the little village of Toonsbridge where Toby Simmonds of the Olive Oil Company and Jenny Rose Clarke bought the local creamery in 2009 and started to make Mozzarella. They now make pecorina vincenzo, occupato, cacio cavallo, halloumi, ricotta, scamorza, kachkeval, burratta ( a cream filled mozzarella and fior de latte). When Toby and Jenny Rose moved to Toonsbridge, local people wanted to buy his cheese so they decided to open a ‘teeny weeny’ shop, packed with good things and a little café so people could relax and have a cup of coffee.

They expected it to be very quiet but the reality was different so now its become a destination, people drive and cycle from far and wide for espresso and their pizzas from the wood burning oven, topped with mozzarella from the creamery next door. Brings a new meaning to the word local. The Italian cheesemakers Franco, Guiseppe and Pierre from Campania gave us a demonstration of the intriguing process of mozzarella making. The renneting, the milking, the stretching and shaping must be done with exact precision. While we were enjoying our picnic, the gardener was putting a layer of rich compost on to Jenny Rose’s kitchen garden in front of the café where she grows lots of vegetables, fresh herbs and edible flowers for the café

Next stop, Macroom Oatmeal where Donal Creedon, fifth generation miller produces richly toasted stone ground oatmeal and Macroom wholemeal flour in the time honoured way, in the last stone grinding oat mill in Ireland. It is unquestionably a product of the utmost integrity – no better way to start your day.
Michael Twomey’s butcher shop was our next stop (on the Main Street). Michael who is super enthusiastic about his craft explained his Wagyu beef breeding program and the ethos behind his three butcher’s shops.

A quick stop, at the much loved Castle Hotel in Macroom to hear about the reality of running a busy hotel in a country town.
Our final stop was at Cronin’s in Crosshaven, an iconic pub which everyone associates with great fun and great food and great music.
Thecla and Sean and their children Denis and Joleen are constantly thinking outside the box, apart from the Mad Fish restaurant. They have a cinema club, Crafty Wednesday, Turf Thursday….Soul and Seafood. The Red Head festival which had been such a resounding success is on hold this year unless a red headed sponsor emerges. Thecla was one of the first students to come to our Pub Grub and Seafood courses in the early 1980s. They’ve also got a mind blowing whiskey list and a similarly impressive rum and gin selection. There’s an exhibition of Jolene’s picture of Camden Fort on the walls of the Mad Fish restaurant – an inspirational family working together to create a multi award winning business.

Thanks to each and everyone for sharing their knowledge and vision.

Denis’ Smoked Mackerel Pate with Melba Toast

This is Denis Cronin’s super taste twist on a smoked mackerel pate.

Serves 10 – 12

350g smoked mackerel, skinned
250g soft butter
10 g fresh dill or fennell

1 teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 soupspoon capers
Zest one lime

Lemon wedge, to serve

Set butter aside till softens, also keep aside capers till the end,

First remove the skin from the smoked mackerel. Add the mackerel and the rest of the ingredients to a blender with the soft butter and whizz until a smooth paste.

Wash and roughly chop the capers and fold through the pate. Put the pate in a service dish or in a small lined loaf tin. Serve with melba toast. Garnish with dill and lemon wedges.

Mad Fish Soup

We can all vouch for the deliciousness of this chunky fish chowder, no wonder it’s a famous speciality.

Serves 4 – 6 hungry people and tastes very good with homemade soda bread!

2 large onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large leeks, chopped
3 large potatoes, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
Glass of white wine
700ml fresh fish stock
50ml brandy
Tin of chopped tomatoes
300ml mussel stock
100ml cream
Fresh fish pieces such as cod, salmon, monkfish, mussels or whatever you fancy

First, sweat onions and garlic. Add the leeks and sweat for a further five minutes
Add potato, carrots and celery. Next add the wine. Boil up and cook for a few minutes until alcohol has evaporated. Now add the fish stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Add brandy, tomatoes, mussel stock and cream. Now is the time to add your fish. The type of fish you are using will determine at what point you add them to the soup. Mussels, monkfish and salmon have firm flesh, and can be added at this point, they also add extra flavour. All other fish, such as cod, haddock, whiting must be added just before serving to prevent falling apart in the soup. Simmer for a few minutes to cook the fish thoroughly.
Serve garnished with a wedge of lemon and with a slice of traditional soda bread.

from Cronin’s Pub & The Mad Fish Kitchen, Crosshaven –

Halloumi with Lemon Zest, Honey and Marjoram or Thyme

A delicious little snack or starter made in minutes

Serves 4

4 pieces of Halloumi
extra virgin olive oil
zest of 1 organic lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
honey – you’ll need about 4 teaspoons
2-3 teaspoons marjoram or thyme

Just before serving, slice the Halloumi into 7mm (1/3 inch) thick slices.

Heat a little oil in a pan or pan-grill. Season the cheese with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the Halloumi in a single layer on the pan and allow to sizzle for a couple of minutes on both sides. Sprinkle with coarsely chopped marjoram or thyme leaves. Transfer each piece onto a warm plate. Drizzle with a little honey, grate on some lemon zest. Sprinkle with a few fresh marjoram or thyme leaves and serve as soon as possible with crusty bread.

Toonsbridge Burrata or Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella with Anchovies

Serves 4

4 burrata or 4 buffalo mozzarella
12 best quality anchovies
extra virgin olive oil

Put a burrata or buffalo mozzarella on a plate, tear apart a little. Put 3 anchovies on top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve with chargrilled sour dough or crusty bread.

If the burrata is large, use a half cheese for each portion.

Hot Tips
Oh My Donut
John Downey, past 12 Week graduate has opened Oh My Donut on 23A Washington Street, Cork. Open Monday to Saturday from 10am – 8pm. Try Boston to Mallow, Lemon On, Smarty Pants…..

Estonia Bread at Mahon Farmers Market
Next time you are visiting the Mahon Farmers Market checkout Irena Tammik’s handmade rye sourdough. Tel: Irena Tammik, tel: 087 1169 637 Facebook:- northrye Instagram:- northryesourdough

Wild Food
The flowers of the blackthorn come before the leaves. The fruit are sloes, so make a note of where the profusion of white blossom is in your area so you’ll know where to gather the fruit to make sloe gin in Autumn.

Fit Foodie Workshop with Derval O’Rourke @ Ballymaloe Cookery School
This workshop is run by Derval O’Rourke former World athletics champion, 3 time Olympian and No. 1 bestselling cookbook author. Spend the afternoon , Saturday May 6th , learning how to balance food and fitness to live a healthier, happier life. During this workshop you will learn how to make great tasting, easy and healthy recipes that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The afternoon includes a fitness session in the grounds of the Cookery School, is suitable for everybody and will take people of all levels through a fun and motivating session that you can replicate at home. This workshop is perfect for anyone that is looking for simple ways to eat well and keep moving. for further information.

Spring Pop Up Dinner at the Ballymaloe Cookery School

The Hungry Gap is the expression that is used to describe the 6 to 8 weeks between the end of the winter produce and the beginning of the summer crops. Brussel sprouts, leeks, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes are all coming to the end of their season, not that you’d know if all your shopping is done in your local supermarket which manages to source fruit and vegetables all year round from one corner of the world or another.

But years ago, these few weeks, some of which also coincided with Lent were very lean ones, hence the importance of a wonderful perennial kale called, hungry gap, cottiers kale or cut and come. The latter was so called because the more you cut this tender green with the flavour of kale and the texture of spinach, the more it grew…….
Because it was propagated from slips (rather than seed) Cottiers kale was passed from one cottage garden to another and of course it filled the ‘hungry gap’ before the summer greens and new potatoes were ready to eat.

The botanical name is Brassica Olereaca and I’ve been fortunate to have a patch in my vegetable garden for years – mine came from Glin Castle gardens no less but theirs had come from their cooks, Nancy and May Liston’s cottage garden in Lower Athea in Co Limerick.
All of the above is by way of introduction to the main subject of this column, the Spring Pop Up dinner, organised by the 12-Week Certificate Course students to raise funds for the Slow Food Educational Project. Every term they plot and plan to create a special menu and vibe to celebrate their chosen theme. This year it was ‘Stepping into Spring – eating between the seasons’.

The students wanted to highlight the hungry gap between the seasons when fresh produce can be scare. With that in mind, they foraged around the farm and gardens for the end of the last seasons crops, wild foods and new shoots. They incorporated local lamb and the milk and cream from our small herd of Jersey cows. Students were also keen to encourage the guests to think about what they could grow themselves as the new season begins.

Planning started at the end of January. Phoebe, Shauna and Colm volunteered to be the event planners and together with their fellow students, they formed a creative team and divided themselves into small groups with responsibility for bread, canapes, starters, main course, desserts and petit four and dining room service…..

The creative team planned the décor to enhance the Garden Café at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. They spent several nights making pretty pom pom flowers from tissue paper to hang from the rafters, others cut out ‘Stepping into Spring’ in letters to loop across the huge demo mirror.

The menu was decided, Harry did the graphics and then they set out to harvest and forage. Where you and I might see weeds, they imagined a delicious dinner…..

Shauna and Phoebe led a team of helpers to sow pea shoots and now five weeks later, they were ready to harvest.

Fresh pollock from Ballycotton was cured with salt, sugar and dill while other students dug some fresh horseradish roots to grate into a bowl of rich Jersey cream to accompany the gravlax.
The starter was also made from scratch, homemade yoghurt was dripped for labneh then cold smoked.
Beetroot was dug out of the winter clamp and cooked two ways for the roasted and pureed beets to complete the starter plate of Roast Beetroot and Labneh with Sourdough Bread.
The enthusiastic breadmakers headed for the ‘Bread Shed’ to make and bake the natural sourdough bread, others went to the dairy to collect Jersey cream to make homemade butter.

For the next course guests were given a shot of flavoursome organic chicken broth sprinkled with foraged with wild garlic flowers.
The lamb from local butcher Frank Murphy was served three ways – crispy lamb cutlet, lamb breast stuffed with pearl barley and a mini lamb pie.
Haulie dug the leeks which were then seared and the plate was served with a wild salsa verde – lamb breast stuffed with pearl barley.

Other students were roasting new seasons rhubarb they has just pulled from the garden. Roasting is an easy and brilliant way to intensify the flavour.
Kate folded chopped stem ginger into the homemade ice cream – so delicious… This was served with one of Rory O’ Connell’s caramel and almond flats and chocolate soil.

Meanwhile another team were creating a sylvan setting in the Garden Room to hide petit fours so the guests could forage among the twigs and chocolate soil for white chocolate and orange truffles, little puff pastry apple bites….
They also had egg shells and tiny pots for guests to sow a seed to take home.

Louis Edmanson wrote a poem on ‘Stepping into Spring’ for the occasion and the gardeners played traditional music as the guests arrived.

Two of our grandchildren were commandeered to help to pass around the canapés, pollock gravlax with horseradish cream and crudités with anchoide and hummus all served with a glass of irresistible raspberry prosecco.

The guests hugely enjoyed the convivial Slow Food evening and delicious food. If you’d like to know about the next pop-up, email

Hot Tips
Ballycotton Island Lighthouse Tours
Have resumed again after the winter break. Join Jerry for a truly magical guided tour and hear about the life of the fishermen and the bounty of fish and shellfish in the seas around Ballycotton. Daily tours from 10.00am and take 90 minutes. Visit Ballycotton Island summit and explore the lighthouse. or phone 021 4646875

Ireland’s First Rooftop Cocktail Herb Bed at the Granville Hotel in Waterford is bursting with a beautiful assortment of herbs like chocolate mint, pineapple sage, lemon verbena, black peppermint together with the classics thyme, sage and rosemary…herbs are infused with fruits and botanicals to create special cocktails… Tel: 051 305555

East Cork Slow Food event
Bet you didn’t know that we now have several snail farms in Ireland.
Brian McDaid from the Irish Snail Farm in Carlow will give a fascinating talk about his snail farm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Thursday May 4th at 7pm. We’ll also taste the fruits of his labour.
Tel: 021 4646785

Pollock Gravadlax with Horseradish Cream on Croutini

This was a canape – a delicious combination.
People in Nordic countries use this basic pickling technique with several types of fish and create many exciting variations. Gravadlax is flavoured with beetroot, black peppers, mustard, even vodka. Fresh dill is essential.

Serves 12–16 as a starter

700g (11⁄2lb) tail piece of fresh pollock
1 heaped tablespoon sea salt
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped

Horseradish Cream
1 1/2-3 tablespoons grated horseradish
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
225ml (8fl oz) softly whipped cream

wood sorrel, wild garlic flowers and/or dill sprigs

Fillet the pollock and remove all the bones with a tweezers. Mix the salt, sugar, pepper and dill together in a bowl. Place the fish on a piece of clingfilm and scatter the mixture over the surface of the fish. Wrap the pollock tightly with the clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours.

Next make the croutini.

Preheat the oven to 150ËšC/300ËšF/Gas Mark 2.
Slice staleish baguette diagonally into the thinnest slices possible. Dry in a low oven until crisp and dry, about 15-20 minutes. Store in an air-tight tin box if necessary.

Next make the horseradish cream. Scrub the horseradish root well, peel and grate on a ‘slivery grater’. Put the grated horseradish into a bowl with the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Fold in the softly whipped cream but do not overmix or the sauce will curdle. There will be more than enough for this recipe, but save the rest for another dish. It keeps for 2-3 days: cover so that it doesn’t pick up flavours in the fridge.

To serve, wipe most of the dill mixture off the pollock and slice thinly.

Arrange a couple of slices of gravadlax on top of each croutini and add a blob of horseradish cream on top. Garnish with wood sorrel, wild garlic flowers and/or dill sprigs.

Stuffed Breast of Lamb with Salsa Verde

Serves 8-10

2 x breast of lamb, fat and bones removed

For stuffing
100g (3 1/2oz) pearl barley
50g (2oz) dried apricot, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 1/2 large garlic clove, crushed
1 lemon, zested and juiced
3 tablespoons pistachio, chopped
2 x shallots, chopped finely
15g (1/2oz) of curly or flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, wild garlic and mint, chopped

For braising
2 x medium onions, chopped
1 x large carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
6 bay leaves
1 x 400g (14oz) tin tomatoes, chopped and sieved
4 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
250ml (9fl oz) chicken stock
40ml (1 1/2fl oz) white wine

black pepper
a large oval casserole dish

Wash the pearl barley, put into a saucepan, cover with a little cold water and cook until tender, about 30 minutes, drain and cool. (Best cooked the day before.) Put into a bowl, add the apricots, brandy, garlic, lemon zest and juice, pistachio nuts, shallots and herbs. Season, taste and correct the seasoning.

Lay the well-trimmed lamb breast on a chopping board to form a rough rectangle. Spread the stuffing evenly over the lamb leaving 2.5cm (1 inch) border all the way around. Fold in the ends and then carefully ‘roll into a Swiss roll’. Tie individually with cotton string. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Render some crispy lamb fat in a wide sauté pan or heavy roasting tin over a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove the bits of lamb fat and discard (birds love it). Brown the meat in the rendered fat (alternatively you can use extra virgin olive oil) on all sides and remove to a plate. Add the chopped vegetables, garlic, bay and rosemary. Toss and cook for 4 or 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes (save the juice), season with salt, pepper and sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes or more. Return the lamb to the casserole. Add wine and stock to come 2/3 of the way up the meat.
Bring to a lively simmer on the top of the stove. Cover and transfer into the preheated oven at 250°C/500°F/Gas Mark 10 for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160°C/275°F/Gas Mark 2-3 and cook until completely tender – 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, serve in slices with potato gratin and salsa verde.

Stem Ginger Ice-Cream with Roast Rhubarb and Chocolate Soil

Really good cream makes really good ice-cream. This recipe is made on an egg-mousse base with softly whipped cream. It produces a deliciously rich ice cream with a smooth texture that does not need further whisking during the freezing period. This ice cream should not be served frozen hard; remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. You can add other flavourings to the basic recipe. The students added stem ginger and drizzled it with some of the syrup – the end result was totally delicious.

Serves 12–16

4 organic egg yolks
100g (3 1/2oz) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from 1/3 vanilla pod
1.2 litres (2 pints) softly whipped cream (measured after it is whipped, for accuracy)
6 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped plus 2 tablespoons of syrup from the jar

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues). Combine the sugar with 200ml (7fl oz) of water in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, about 106–113°C (223–235°F): it will look thick and syrupy, and 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 by hand. (If you are whisking the mousse in a food mixer, remove the bowl and whisk the boiling syrup in by hand; otherwise it will solidify on the sides of the bowl.)

Add the vanilla extract or vanilla seeds and continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.

After one hour, fold in the chopped stem ginger and syrup. Cover and return to the freezer and chill until firm.

The students served it with roast rhubarb and caramel and almond flats.

Roast Rhubarb

Roasting rhubarb is super-easy and really intensifies the flavour. The sugar content can vary depending on the variety of rhubarb – the end result can be used in a myriad of delicious ways. Try it with warm rice pudding and a blob of cream – OMG!

900g (2lb) rhubarb
200-250g (7-9oz) sugar

Preheat the oven to 200ËšC/400F/Gas Mark 6.

Slice the rhubarb into 2 1/2cm (1 inch) pieces and arrange in a single layer in a medium size oven proof dish. Scatter the sugar over the rhubarb and allow to macerate for 30 minutes. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes approximately depending on size, until the rhubarb is just tender.

Rhubarb Fizz
Purée the roast rhubarb, put 1-2 tablespoons in a glass, top up with Prosecco or Cava or sparkling water or soda water for a non-alcoholic fizz.

Rory O’Connell’s Caramel and Almond Flats

Makes about 60 biscuits

250g (9oz) plain flour
1/4 teaspoon bread soda/bicarbonate of soda
100g (3 1/2oz) butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons water
300g (10oz) soft, medium dark soft brown sugar
110g (4oz) flaked almonds, unskinned if possible

Sieve the flour and bread soda into a bowl. Melt the butter, cinnamon and water on a low heat until just melted. Do not allow to boil. Remove from the heat and add the sugar. Stir with the almonds into the flour mixture. Place the dough on a piece of strong plastic (not clingfilm) or parchment paper. Form this mixture into a neat rectangular slab, 23cm (9 inch) wide, 2.5cm (1 inch) thick, and 9cm (3 1/2 inch) long. I use the sides of a shallow baking tray to help me to achieve neat and straight edges. Freeze until set. Slice into about 3mm thick slices and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, allowing a little room between the raw biscuits for expansion during the cooking. Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C/350°FGas Mark 4 or until golden brown. Slide the biscuits still on the parchment paper on to a wire rack to cool. Store in an air tight box or tin.

Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Soil

45g (1 3/4oz) plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
40g (1 1/2oz) caster sugar
30g (1 1/4oz) cocoa powder
40g (1 1/2oz) unsalted butter, melted
coarse sea salt.

Heat the oven to 160ËšC/325Ëš/Gas Mark 3.

Put the flour, cornflour, sugar, cocoa powder and half tsp of salt. Mix, then slowly pour in the melted butter.

Using first a wooden spoon and then the tips of your fingers, mix until it resembled cookie crumble texture, then spread out on a parchment lined tray.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring and checking after 5 minutes until cookie crumble like. Remove and allow to cool. Break up once it has cooled and set.

White Chocolate and Orange Truffles

This delicious petit-four recipe was created by past student Sara Al-Faraj for the Student Pop-Up Dinner, ‘Stepping into Spring’ in early 2017.

Makes 24 truffles

225g (8oz) white chocolate, chopped (we use Valhrona)
50g (50g) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons of cream
110g (4oz) icing sugar

To coat the truffles:
finely chopped pistachios
desiccated coconut
icing sugar
unsweetened cocoa powder

Melt the butter and add the orange zest. Allow to bubble, stirring for 1 minute. Add the cream and continue to stir for a further 1 – 2 minutes or until bubbles appear around the side of the pan. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine sieve onto the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Allow to cool.
Cover the truffle mixture and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours or until the mixture is firm enough to handle

Shape into 24 balls and roll in the coating of your choice.
Chill on parchment paper for another hour.

Serve in little gold petit four cases.

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to you all, just one more day until you can break your fast and feel deeply virtuous, maybe you’ve given up ‘the drink’ or sweet things or sugar. That’s how I gave up sugar in my tea originally and I’ve always been grateful to the Dominican nuns in Wicklow who insisted we did proper penance during Lent. This Easter I thought I might dedicate this column to the magic and versatility of eggs in general. Easter eggs sometimes called Pascal eggs have always been associated with Easter not least because there’s usually a glut of eggs when people fasted during the Lenten period.

Numerous cultures use eggs in different ways in their Easter rituals and ceremonies. In Judaism, hard boiled eggs are an element of Passover Sedepr which coincides with Christian, Holy Week. Iranians paint eggs for the Spring Holiday of Nowruz.
For Christians, the custom of giving eggs for Easter is a symbol of Christ’s resurrection but it also dates back to the Pagan festival of Oestre.

The decoration of eggs is thought to date back to the 13th century but this has been one of the best loved and most enduring traditions. My grandchildren have hours of fun painting eggs every Easter and our clever hens lay eggs with the children’s name on them in the Palais des Poulets every Easter Sunday. Lovely Rosalie makes me an Easter tree and the Easter bunny hides chocolate eggs in tufts of daffodils around the Pond Garden.

From the cook’s perspective the egg is the quintessential fast food, cake bakers depend on it to create their magic and fancy chefs can create elaborate dishes, think Eggs Benedict and sauces like Hollandaise, Bernaise and Buerre blance. But it’s all about the quality of the egg, a beautiful egg, freshly laid by happy lazy hens that forage around your garden or are moved around your lawn in their arc is quite a different thing to an egg produced in an intensive system both in terms of flavour and nutritional content. I’m always encouraging anyone who will listen either in an urban or rural environment to consider getting a few hens. They will convert all your food scraps into delicious eggs a few days later, provide chicken manure to activate compost so you can grow lots of nourishing produce in your garden and a freshly boiled egg with soldiers will taste like a ‘forgotten flavour’.

We’ve been enjoying them with the first of the new season’s asparagus to use as dippers, utterly sublime and the earliest ever. I’ve included a recipe for Eggs Benedict but I have to tell you that Christine Crowley’s Egg Benedict at the Shanagarry Pottery Café is the best ever. We’ve also been serving them with some of the kale sprouts which cook to melting tenderness in boiling, well salted water.

I also love an egg fried in extra virgin olive oil with sage leaves or a deep fried egg all crispy on the outside and soft and gooey in the centre. Maybe drizzle it with a spicy tomato sauce or a little wild garlic pesto in season at present.
A little cheese soufflé is also impressive and super easy to make, a delicious little starter or a perfect main course.
Collect some wild garlic and make a wild garlic custard – silky and sophisticated and then of course there’s an Easter frittata to have for supper with a salad of organic leaves after an Easter Sunday roast lunch of spring lamb with mint sauce.


New Farmers Market
Has recently opened at the Ballyseedy Home & Garden in Carrigtwohill – Green Saffron, Rostellan Chocolate, , Annie’s Roasts, Joe’s Crisps, Ardsallagh Cheese, Arbutus Breads, Little Apple Juice, Ballintubber Fruit and Veg, Ballycotton Seafood and many more……It runs every Wednesday from 9am to 2pm. 021 488 1010

Easter Egg Trail at Fota House and Gardens on 14th and 15th April 2017. Discover clues amongst the trees and wildlife that will bring you to your own chocolate egg.
Staying with Fota House….the annual Plant and Garden Fair is on Sunday April 23rd from 11am-4.00pm and is recognised as the biggest Plant and Garden fair outside of Dublin. Many specialist nurseries with unusual and special plants. Admission is €8.00 part of which will be donated to Friends of Marymount Hospice. Phone Margaret Martin or Maura Geary on 021 481 5543 or for more information

Jeannie’s Chorizo Timbales with Rocket Mayonnaise

Serves 12

A perfect little starter, almost a soufflé, without flour so it is suitable for coeliacs.

275 g (10 oz) soft chorizo, peeled and chopped
6 eggs
500 ml (18 fl oz) cream
125 g (43/4 oz) mature Cheddar, plus extra for sprinkling on the top
Scant 1 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Rocket Mayonnaise
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
Black pepper
Dessertspoon white wine vinegar

4 fl oz olive oil
then 2 fl oz sunflower oil
100 g rocket, coarsely chopped

12 x 4 fl oz ramekins

Butter for greasing

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400F/gas mark 6.

Butter the ramekins well.

First make the rocket mayonnaise. Put the egg into a blender, add the mustard and white wine vinegar. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk and add the mixture of oils. Finally add the coarsely chopped rocket. Whizz for a second.
Turn into a bowl, taste and correct seasoning if necessary.

Next, peel and chop the chorizo and divide between the ramekins – a good tablespoonful in each.

Whisk the eggs and cream together, add 1 teaspoon of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper and the grated cheese.

Just before cooking, stir the batter and pour over the chorizo, sprinkle with grated cheese and pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
They will puff up and be nicely golden on top.

Turn out onto warm plates and serve with a dollop of rocket mayonnaise.

Eggs Benedict

This recipe is a combination of two, ‘forgotten skills’: poaching eggs and making Hollandaise sauce (which also involves eggs). It is the perfect breakfast for a lazy Easter weekend.

Serves 4 (or 2 if very hungry)

Hollandaise Sauce (see recipe)
4 organic eggs
4 slices good sourdough bread or 2 English muffins or 2 bagels
4 slices home-cooked ham or 8 rashers good bacon, cooked

First, make the Hollandaise sauce and keep it warm.
Next poach the eggs. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Reduce the heat, swirl the water, crack the egg into a tiny bowl and slip the egg gently into the whirlpool in the centre. This avoids getting the tips of your fingers burned as you drop the egg into the water. The water should not boil again but bubble very gently just below boiling point. Cook for about 3–4 minutes, until the white is set and the yolk is still soft and runny.
Meanwhile, toast or chargrill the bread, muffins or bagels. Slather a little butter on the hot bread and lay a slice of ham or freshly cooked crispy bacon on the base. Lift out the poached egg or eggs on a perforated spoon; drain and place on top of the toast. Coat generously with the Hollandaise Sauce and serve immediately.

Hollandaise Sauce

Serves 4–6

2 organic egg yolks
125g (5oz) butter, cut into dice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the egg yolks in a heavy, stainless-steel saucepan on a low heat or in a bowl over hot water. Add 2 teaspoons water and whisk thoroughly. Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next piece. The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or slightly scrambling, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water to cool it quickly. Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made. Finally add the lemon juice to taste.
If the sauce is slow to thicken it may be because you are excessively cautious and the heat is too low. Increase the heat slightly and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens to coating consistency.
It is important to remember that if you are making Hollandaise sauce in a saucepan directly over the heat, it should be possible to put your hand on the side of the saucepan at any stage. If the saucepan feels too hot for your hand, then it is also too hot for the sauce.
Another good tip if you are making Hollandaise sauce for the first time is to keep a bowl of cold water close by so you can plunge the base of the saucepan into it if becomes too hot.

Freshly Boiled Eggs and Asparagus Soldiers

Mothers all over the country cut up fingers of toast for children to dip into soft-boiled eggs. In our family we call them ‘dippies’.

2 fresh free range organic eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few pats of butter
1 slice of fresh best quality white loaf bread

6-8 spears fresh Irish asparagus

First prepare and cook the asparagus. Hold each spear of asparagus over your index finger down near the root end, it will snap at the point where it begins to get tough. Some people like to peel the asparagus but we rarely do.

Tie similar sized bundles of asparagus in bundles with raffia. Choose a tall saucepan.
Cook in about 2.5cm of boiling salted water (1 teaspoon salt to every 600ml) in an oval cast iron casserole. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes or until a knife tip will pierce the root end easily. Drain and serve immediately. If serving cold, refresh in cold water and drain again.

Next, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, bring the water back to the boil and simmer gently for 4-6 minutes, according to your taste. A four minute egg will be still quite soft, five minutes will almost set the white while the yolk will still be runny, 6 minutes will produce a boiled egg with a soft yolk and solid white.

Immediately the eggs are cooked, pop them into egg cups, put the asparagus soldiers on the side and serve with a pepper mill, sea salt and a few pats of butter.

Crispy Deep-fried Eggs

This technique takes a bit of practice but the crispy white is irresistible.

extra virgin olive oil, sunflower or peanut oil
really fresh organic eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper


Tomato and Chilli Jam (see recipe)
rocket leaves

Heat the oil in a deep sided frying pan. It should be really hot, test by dropping in a tiny cube of bread – it should brown in seconds.

Break an egg into the hot oil. Tilt the pan immediately so the egg slides down into a pool of oil. Use a tablespoon to lift the white over the yolk so the yolks is completely enclosed between two layers of white. This will prevent the yolk from overcooking and allow the white to get deliciously crisp and slightly golden. Cook for a minute or two more.

Lift the egg out of the oil with a perforated spoon, drain well on kitchen paper. Serve on warm crisp croutons with tomato and chilli jam and some rocket leaves.

Tomato and Chilli Jam

Makes: 2 large pot or 4 small pots

In season:

This zingy jam is great with everything from fried eggs to cold meat. Terrific on a piece of chicken breast or fish or spread on bruschetta with goat’s cheese and rocket leaves.

1kg (2 1/4lb) very ripe tomatoes
4-8 red chillies
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
about 5cm (2 inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
50ml (2 fl oz) fish sauce (Nam Pla)
500g (18oz) golden castor sugar
200ml (7fl oz) red wine vinegar

Peel the tomatoes and chop into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice. Purée the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce in a blender. Put the purée, sugar and vinegar into a stainless steel saucepan, add the tomatoes and bring to the boil slowly, stirring occasionally. Cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking.

When cooked pour into warmed, sterilized glass jars. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge.

Cheese Soufflé Omelette

A perfect soufflé omelette is a special treat and takes only a few minutes longer to make than a French omelette, but it is well worth the effort. This is definitely a forgotten skill, and Irish farmhouse cheeses in particular are utterly delicious in this recipe.

Serves 1–2

3 organic eggs, separated
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated cheese – Gruyère, Parmesan, Irish farmhouse cheese or a mixture
1 teaspoon finely chopped chives or spring onion tops (optional)
25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter

omelette pan, preferably non-stick, 23cm (9 inch) in diameter

Whisk the egg yolks until light. Season well with salt and pepper, and add the cheese and chives, if using.
Whisk the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak, stir a little of the whites into the yolks, then very lightly, very carefully fold in the rest with a metal spoon.

Melt the butter in the omelette pan, shaking it gently so that the sides are covered with butter, too, and as it foams turn in the egg mixture and level it off with a palette knife.

Cook the omelette very gently for about 3–4 minutes. The bottom should be golden when you lift the omelette with the palette knife to have a peek, and it should have started to fluff up. Then put the pan under a grill about 10cm (4 inch) from the element. Cook very gently for 3–4 minutes longer, until the omelette is well risen and just set. Remove at once, loosen the edges with the palette knife, and if you want to fold it over, first score it lightly across the centre. Then turn it out gently onto a hot plate and serve with a green salad.

Asparagus, Rocket and Wild Garlic Frittata

Asparagus is normally ready until May but we had a few spears at the beginning of April – another symptom of global warming.
The pan size is crucial here. If you don’t have the exact size, increase the eggs so the frittata is 4cm deep, otherwise the frittata is likely to be thin and tough. This is an example of how we incorporate seasonal ingredients into a frittata.
Serves 6
8 eggs, preferably free-range, organic
225g thin asparagus
1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground pepper
50g Parmesan, Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly grated, or a mixture
2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped wild garlic and rocket leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
wild garlic and rocket leaves and flowers

non-stick frying pan – 19cm bottom, 23cm top rim
Bring about 2.5cm of water to the boil in an oval casserole. Trim the tough ends of the asparagus, add salt to the water and blanch the spears until just tender for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain. Slice the end of the spears evenly at an angle keep 4cm at the top intact. Save for later.
Whisk the eggs together into a bowl. Add the blanched asparagus except the tops, most of the Parmesan and wild garlic leaves. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Heat the oil in the pan, add egg mixture and reduce the heat to the bare minimum – use a heat diffuser mat if necessary. Continue to cook over a gentle heat until just set – about 15 minutes. Alternatively after an initial 4 or 5 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven (and this is my preferred option), 170°C/Gas Mark 3 until just set 10-15 minutes. Arrange the asparagus tops over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Pop under a grill for a few minutes but make sure it is at least 5 inches from the element. It should be set and slightly golden. Turn out on a warm plate, cut into wedges and serve immediately with a salad of organic leaves, including wild garlic and rocket.
Garnish with wild garlic flowers

International Carrot Day

Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing as an International Carrot Day, well indeed there is. It is celebrated every year on April 4th, the day when virtues of the carrot are highlighted through Carrot Parties and Carrot related festivities around the world.
I’m completely baffled as to why this date was chosen considering most gardeners haven’t even sown the seed yet. We got our early crop into the soil in the greenhouse at the end of February but they are only just above the ground now.

Nonetheless, there are lots of fat crunchy carrots still around in the shops and greengrocers. They were piled high on Joseph Burns’ stall in the Midleton Farmers Market last Saturday, side by side with parsnips, freshly dug and still covered in earth. That’s the way I like to buy them, they keep better, taste better and ultimately I suppose have even more nutrients because the skin is not damaged in any way by washing.

Carrots are one of our four basic vegetables alongside onions, cabbage and potatoes. We pretty much take them for granted but let’s focus for a minute or two on their many attributes. They are a powerhouse of nutrients, can be eaten raw, they store for months and will keep for several weeks even in a home fridge. They are immensely versatile in the kitchen.

Carrots are one of the few vegetables that virtually every child will eat. In fact one of my grandchildren ate almost nothing but raw carrots for months on end when he was about 3. We had to save the end of a row of carrots in the garden to feed the ‘carrot-monster’ habit.

When children for local schools come to visit the farm and vegetable gardens during the seasons. We encourage them to pull a carrot from the ground, wash it under the tap in the greenhouse and then they munch it with relish. Many, in fact I would say most, have never seen a carrot growing; they presume they come already washed in a plastic bag from the supermarket. It’s a similar story for most other foods, milk, meat and some are disgusted by the thought of them coming from the ground and from an animal, such is the paranoia around hygiene and food safety. How scary is that….there’s a serious piece of education to be done and urgently. Carrots are a rich source of both alpha and beta carotene and also goodly amounts of Vitamin K and B6 and dietary fibre. They’ve also been associated with eye health but their impact on our night vision may be overestimated. Nonetheless they are super nutritious and because of their sweetness the cook can have fun using them in many sweet as well as savoury dishes. The tender young leaves can be used in carrot pesto or dipped in a batter and deep fried. Carrots were originally grown for their leaves and flowers. Wild carrots are thought to have originated in Central Asia, Persia (now part of Iran and Afghanistan).

They were bred selectively over the centuries to reduce the bitterness, increase sweetness and minimise the woody core and now we have carrots of many colours, red, white, yellow, purple, black and of course orange. There are sometimes long and tapered or more squat depending on the variety. Carrots are amazingly inexpensive considering they take an average of three months to grow from seed. We all know they are super versatile, include them in chunky or creamy soups, tagines, stews, as a vegetable, roast them. Boil them, grate them for salads, add to a carrot cake, transform them into carrot spaghetti with a spirlizer. Make carrot crisps, or make a surprisingly delicious jam or chutney and then there’s carrot juice….I love fresh carrot juice, maybe add some apple, a little ginger and a few leaves of fresh mint!

We’ve also been getting lots of compliments when we add carrot juice to a risotto – here’s the recipe we use plus some other favourite ways to enjoy this under appreciated vegetable and now how about a Carrot Party….

Hot Tips
The super popular Bunsen restaurant on Wexford Street and Temple Bar in Dublin has come to Cork – Tom Gleeson, past 12 Week graduate has recently opened his award winning ‘burger joint’ on 4 French Church Street in Cork. Check it out.
Tel: 021 239 0660

Cheese Lovers Time to Celebrate
The National Dairy Council recently announced a new recipe competition to celebrate cheese. Create an original recipe using cheese as the main ingredient. Two categories to choose from:- Passionate Cooks and Foodies – A delicious, healthy and nutritious family style recipe that you might cook mid-week.
Trainee Chefs/Culinary Students – A special occasion recipe that you might cook for a dinner party or celebratory occasion.
The judges for the competition include Irish Chef Clodagh McKenna, Irish Olympian and food author Derval O’Rourke and Vanessa Greenwood of Cooks Academy in Dublin. for details on how to enter

Carrot Halva

Serves 4

1 lb (450 g) carrots
1¼ pints (700 ml) milk
8 whole cardamom pods
5 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
5 tablespoons caster sugar
1-2 tablespoons sultanas
1 tablespoon shelled, unsalted pistachios, lightly crushed
10 fl ozs (275 ml) cream, optional

Peel the carrots and grate them either by hand or in a food processor. Put the grated carrots, milk, and cardamom pods in a heavy bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring now and then, until there is no liquid left. Adjust the heat, if you need to. This boiling down of milk will take at least half an hour or longer, depending on the width of the pot.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat. When hot, put in the carrot mixture. Stir and fry until the carrots no longer have a wet, milky look. They should turn a rich, reddish colour. This can take 10-15 minutes.
Add the sugar, sultanas and pistachios. Stir and fry for another 2 minutes.
This halva may be served warm or at room temperature. Serve the cream on the side.


A Carrot Risotto

Serves 4-6
This is super delicious, made with fresh carrot juice, you really have to try it, my grandchildren love it too. This risotto is soo good. We love it on its own or with a pan-grilled lamb chop and rocket salad.

425ml (15fl.oz) home made chicken stock
225ml (8fl.oz) fresh carrot juice, (4 medium carrots, weighing approx.. 400g/14oz)
25g (1oz) butter
50g (2oz) onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
200g (7oz) Basmati rice
50ml (2fl.oz) dry white wine

50g (2oz) finely grated Parmesan or Coolea cheese
2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Put the chicken stock, carrot juice and 450ml (16fl.oz) water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the chopped onion, cook gently until soft but not coloured, about 5 minutes. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Increase the heat, add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated and translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the wine, stir and cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes.
Add 125ml (4fl.oz) hot liquid, stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth, a small ladle at a time till it is all incorporated and the rice is tender and still a tiny bit al dente, 25-30 minutes. Stir in remaining 10g (½oz) butter and half the Parmesan. Taste, correct the seasoning, sprinkle with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan and serve immediately.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

In the Fez and Meknes area many meals start with an array of little ‘salads’, not greens doused in French Dressing but little dishes of spiced or sweetened raw or cooked vegetables to tempt the palate before the tagine arrives.

Serves 6-8

6 large carrots, scraped and grated
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 – 1 teaspoon of orange blossom water
pinch of salt

Mix the carrots with the sugar, lemon juice, orange-blossom water, and salt. Marinate 1 hour before serving. Taste and correct seasoning. Eat with Moroccan bread.

Julia Wight’s Carrot Cake

This recipe for carrot cake, by far the best one I know and was given to me by a dear friend. It keeps for ages.

7oz (200g) fine wholemeal or spelt flour
3 level teaspoons mixed spice
1 level teaspoon bread soda
3oz (75g) soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, preferably free range
1/4 pint (150 ml) sunflower oil
grated rind of 1 orange
7oz (200g) grated carrot
4oz (110g) sultanas
2oz (50g) dessicated coconut
2oz (50g walnuts, chopped

Cream Cheese Icing (see recipe)

juice of 1 small orange
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3oz (75g) soft brown sugar

Decoration (optional)
toasted flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds (crystallized – optional)

Loaf tin 9 inch (23 cm) x 5 inch (12.5 cm) x 2 inch (5 cm) lined with silicone paper

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

Put the flour, spice and breadsoda into a bowl and mix well. Whisk the eggs with the sugar and oil in another bowl until smooth. Stir in the dry ingredients, add the orange rind, grated carrot, sultanas, coconut and walnuts. Pour into the lined tin. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes until well risen and firm to the touch. Meanwhile make the glaze. Mix the sugar with the orange and lemon juice in a bowl. While the cake is still warm prick the top with a skewer, pour the glaze over the cake and leave in the tin to cool.

This cake can also be made in a round tin (7x 3inch/17.5 x 7.5cm deep) which needs to be lined and will only take 1hour in the oven.

Note: When this cake is made in a round tin, the cream cheese icing is very effective and is a very tasty finish.

Cream Cheese Icing

Do twice the icing to coat a round carrot cake.

3oz (75g) cream cheese
1 1/2oz (45g) icing sugar
1 1/2oz (45g) butter
grated rind on 1/2 orange

Mix all the ingredients together and spread over the top of the carrot cake. Sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds or pumpkin seeds, crystallized if you fancy.

Carrot Crisps

You can make vegetable crisps from a variety of different vegetables: parsley, celeriac, beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes of course. But you need to be careful with the ones that are very high in sugar, because they need to be cooked at a lower temperature, otherwise they’ll be dark and bitter. Serves about 8

a few raw carrots, small to medium-sized
oil in a deep-fat fryer

Use a vegetable peeler to peel the carrot. Then slice on a mandolin into paper-thin slices. Leave them to dry out on kitchen paper (this may take several hours). You want them to be dry, otherwise they’ll end up being soggy when you cook them.
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 140ºC (275ºF) and cook slowly, a few at a time. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt.

Gajar ka Halwa

Maunika Gowardhan’ Carrot Pudding with Cardamom, Pistachios and Raisin

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1kg (2 1/4lb) peeled and coarsely grated carrots
300ml (10fl oz) whole milk
200ml (7fl oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
handful of raisins
roughly chopped pistachios to garnish

To Serve
vanilla ice-cream

In a heavy bottom non-stick pan heat the butter and add grated carrots. Cook over medium heat and sauté till they have softened slightly and have changed in colour to a bright orange for about 30 mins or so, stirring continuously.

Add whole milk to the pan and reduce the heat to low cooking till the milk has dried out which will take about 15 minutes. Stir the pan well to avoid the mix from sticking or burning.

Add the condensed milk and cardamom powder. Stir through getting all the carrots to coat the condensed milk cooking on a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the raisins and some of the pistachio. The heat of the pudding will also puff up the raisins making them taste even better.

The consistency should be thick, making sure all the moisture has evaporated and the carrots have softened. Serve warm garnished with remaining pistachios alongside some ice cream.
Copyright Maunika Gowardhan

Angels Hair (Carrot Jam)

A blob of this carrot jam makes a super delicious starter with goat cheese, mozzarella and a few fresh rocket leaves.

600g (1 1/4lbs) carrots
500g (18oz/2 1/4 cups) caster sugar
zest of 2 large lemon, cut into strips
freshly squeezed juice of 2 large lemon
6 cardamom pods, split

Trim and scrape the carrots. Grate on a medium sized grater. Put into a pan with the sugar, lemon zest and juice and the cardamom pods. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then boil hard until the mixture is very thick.

Place into a warmed, sterilised jar and seal tightly.


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