ArchiveAugust 2017


It’s unbelievable how quickly fermentation and pickling have become mainstream. At a dinner recently I was sitting beside a teacher from a local school who was waxing lyrical about his jars of sauerkraut and kimchi and the health benefits. Readers will know I’m not a fan of sell by dates and best before dates for a variety of reasons not least the fact that they have inadvertently served to disempower us, as more and more shoppers have come to rely on them rather than their common sense to judge whether food is safe to eat. My advice used to be, examine it, smell it, taste it but you can hear it – throw it out – no longer the case now as our bottles and jars of fermented food bubble away in the pantry and Bubble Shed.
A few weekends ago our fermenting team including my daughter in law Penny Allen, our dairy queen Maria Walsh and some friends drove all the way to Rossinver in lovely Co Leitrim to attend a fermentation course. They are all fermenting nerds with quite a bit of practical experience under their belts but they returned on a bubble of excitement having spent the weekend at a brilliantly run and deeply informative event, a ‘Weekend of Fermentation Madness’. A Fermentation Dinner at Sweet Beat in Sligo kicked off the event organised by Gaby and Hans Wieland from the Organic Centre.
There is unusual agreement that our modern diet is causing many challenges not least the gut problems that so many people are troubled with these days, partly as a result of eating a cocktail of highly processed foods. Ted Dinan, Professor of Psychiatry and a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork, has done very interesting research on the connection between the gut biome and our mental health.
More recently, Dan Saladino of the BBC 4 Food Programme did two segments on the indigenous Hadza tribe who live in remotest Tanzania. They are virtually the last remaining hunter-gatherers on earth. They live on seasonal berries, roots, wild honey and the occasional feast of roast porcupine. Interestingly their gut biome on average is 40% richer than any of the rest of us. They grow no food, raise no livestock and live without calendars or rules. Their rich store of gut bacteria is of huge interest to the world of science and medicine. We can’t easily achieve that complexity on modern diets but we certainly can enhance our gut flora by changing our diet to predominately fresh naturally produced real food and include some fermented foods on a regular basis.
Sauerkraut is super easy to make as is this quick kimchi recipe given to me by David Tanis. There are several books to start you on your journey and watch out, you can get properly hooked on the ‘bubble thing’. Look out for Fermented by Charlotte Pike and more recently Ferment, Pickle, Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley which teaches you how to preserve foods using ancient methods of fermenting, pickling, drying and recipes to enjoy them in.

Quick Scallion Kimchee

Makes 2 cups

Although the classic long-fermented cabbage-based kimchee is fairly easy to make, it does take time. This version with scallions is ridiculously simple and ready in a day or two. I learned how to make it from my friend Russell, a Los Angeles–born cook whose Korean mother made it throughout his childhood. Russell serves it to accompany perfectly steamed rice and simple grilled fish, a lovely combination. I like it chopped and stirred into a bowl of brothy ramen-style noodles, or tucked into a ham sandwich.

4 bunches scallions
2 teaspoons salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) raw sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) toasted sesame oil
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) toasted sesame seeds
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) fish sauce
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) rice vinegar

Trim the scallions and cut into 7.5cm (3 inch) lengths. Put them in a glass or ceramic bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Mix together the garlic, sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, sesame seeds, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Add to the scallions and toss well to coat.

Lay a plate over the bowl and leave in a warm place (at least 21°C/70°F) for 24 hours. Or, for a stronger-tasting kimchee, let ripen for up to 72 hours. It will keep for a month, refrigerated.

“Excerpted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books).
Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.”

Penny’s (Sauerkraut) Kraut-Chi

At its basic sauerkraut is chopped or shredded cabbage that is salted and fermented in its own juice. It has existed in one form or another for thousands of years and sailors have carried it on ships to ward off scurvy because of its high Vitamin C content. The basic recipe for sauerkraut is 2 tsp of Maldon sea salt to 450g (1lb) of cabbage. Any other vegetables in season can be added once they are finely sliced or chopped. Avoid potatoes as they can become toxic when fermented. Weigh the vegetables after slicing and calculate the amount of salt needed. Below is a recipe we enjoy.

Makes 1 litre/900g (2lbs) approximately

500g (18oz) organic cabbage – red, green or a mixture, finely sliced
150g (5oz) onion, finely sliced
2 green peppers, finely sliced
150g (5oz) carrots, grated on a coarse grater
1 chilli, finely chopped
4 teaspoons Maldon (or similar) Seasalt

1 x 1.5 litre (2 1/2 pints) Kilner jar or crock

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pack into a large jar or crock. Pack a little at a time and press down hard using your fists, this packs the kraut tight and helps force water out of the vegetables.

Cover the kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the jar or crock. Place a clean weight on top (a jug or container filled with water works well). This weight is to force water out of the vegetables and keep them submerged under the brine. Cover the top with muslin or a light cloth to keep out flies and dust. Press down on the weight ever few hours to help extract more liquid from the vegetables. The liquid should rise above the vegetables. If the liquid doesn’t rise above the plate level by next day, add some salt water (a basic brine is 2 teaspoons of salt mixed in 600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups of water) to bring the level above the plate.

Place in a cool area and allow to ferment for 4-5 days. At this stage the kraut is ready to eat. As you eat the kraut make sure the remainder is well covered in brine by pushing the vegetables under the brine and sealing well. It will keep for months, the flavour develops and matures over time.

Charlotte Pike’s Homemade Coconut Milk Yoghurt

Makes 400 ml (approx.)

1 x 400 ml tin of full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons agar agar flakes

Digital Thermometer

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and warm over a very low heat until it reaches exactly 46ËšC. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the agar agar flakes over the surface and whisk in thoroughly. Continue to whisk over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until the agar agar flakes are dissolved. Set aside to cool.

After 30 minutes, whisk again vigorously to bring the yoghurt to a smooth, even texture, as lumps can form as it cools. An electric hand whisk or food processor is ideal to use here. Pour the mixture into a clean earthen ware or glass bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

Once the yoghurt has set, spoon it into clean glass, plastic to ceramic jar, put on the lid or cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge. Consume within 5 days.
Taken from Fermented by Charlotte Pike

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Whey Fermented Muesli

Prep Time 10 minutes
Ready 8-10 hours
Makes approx. 300 g (10½ oz)

3 tablespoons oats (rolled or porridge)
3 tablespoons millet flakes
3 tablespoons spelt flakes (rolled)
3 tablespoons quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons hazelnuts (whole or chopped into large chunks)
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon cranberries
1 tablespoon sultanas (golden raisins)
1 tablespoon flaked almonds
150 ml (5 fl oz/2/3 cup) whey

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl or a large 700 ml/24 fl oz jar. Add the whey, then cover the bowl or jar with kitchen paper, a lid or a plate.

Leave to soak for 8-10 hours or ideally overnight in the fridge. This muesli will keep for up to 24 hours.
Note: other ingredients can be added including roasted buckwheat or rye flakes, walnuts, sunflower seeds and raisins.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Baby Courgette Kimchi

Prep 20 minutes
Ready 3-4 days
Makes approx. 500 ml/18 fl oz jar

8-9 baby courgettes
60 g (2¼ oz/¼ cup) coarse sea salt

1½ bunches of spring onions or 1 leek, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cm (½ inch) piece of ginger, skin scraped off and grated (1 teaspoon)
7 tablespoons Korean chilli flakes or dried chilli flakes
1 -2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut the courgettes lengthways 3-4 times, but don’t cut them all the way through. Rub the salt into the cuts.

Place the courgettes in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover. Leave to soak for 1 hour, and then rinse them well.

Place all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl and mix with a fork.

Work the paste into the cuts in the courgettes, and then pack the courgettes upright in a large sterilised jar and seal with a lid.

Leave to stand at room temperature overnight, then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for 2-3 days before eating. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Water Kefir

With Water Kefir you can turn sugared water into one of the most vibrant, probiotic-rich drinks you can make at home!

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) water kefir grains
2-3 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 4 American tablespoons) organic raw cane sugar
4 unsulphered dried apricots or other dried fruit.
Approximately 1 litre (1 3/4 pints/scant 4 cups) of water – must be free of chemicals
Slice of unwaxed lemon

It is important not to use any metal utensils or brewing vessels while making Water Kefir.

Stir the sugar into approximately 250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) of hot water until it dissolves, then add remainder of cold water and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Place the water kefir grains into a 1 litre jar, pour in the cooled sugar water, and drop in the dried fruit.

Cover the jar loosely with a lid, or with a cloth secured with a rubber band to allow air in but to prevent stray debris from spoiling your water kefir. Allow the water kefir to ferment for 2 to 3 days. The longer it ferments, the drier and less sweet it will become.

When the water kefir acquires a flavor that suits you, strain it using a plastic strainer into a jug. Discard the dried fruit (or eat it) but reserve the water kefir grains which can be immediately reused or stored.

While the water kefir can be enjoyed as it is, after its initial fermentation, you can also ferment it a second time. Secondary fermentation allows you to flavor the water kefir, and the secondary fermentation process, which occurs in a tightly capped bottle allows carbon dioxide to develop, producing a fizzy water kefir.

Transfer the bottles of water kefir to the fridge to slow down fermentation and enjoy

Second Fermentation
After transferring you water kefir into a bottle add a handful of one of the following to your taste.

• fresh or frozen raspberries
• fresh or frozen strawberries
• several crushed mint leaves and juice of 1 lemon
• 10-12 dandelion flowers in full bloom
• 6-8 elderflowers or a large handful of elderberries

Leave to ferment for another 12 – 24 hours with a lid on. It’s a good idea to release pressure every so often particularly if your kitchen is warm as secondary ferments have been known to explode! Keep tasting to understand when your ferment is ready to your liking.

Caring for your Kefir Grains
Water Kefir grains are alive being a Scoby (Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts) and therefore require looking after to ensure they produce the best kefir for you.

Occasionally it is beneficial to give your grains a mineral feed.

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Fermented Hummus

Prep Time 15 minutes
Ready 10 hours
Makes 250 ml/9 fl oz jar approx.

250 g (9 oz/1½ cups) chickpeas, cooked
1 small garlic clove, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
60 ml (2¼ fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
150 ml (5 fl oz/2/3 cup) whey or water kefir

Blend all the ingredients, except the whey or kefir, in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Add the whey or kefir and mix well.

Cover and leave at room temperature for about 10 hours, then transfer to an airtight container and chill in the fridge.

Use within 3 days.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Hot Tips

We love West Cork Food. Walking Clonakilty Food Tour takes place every Friday from June – August, rain or shine, taking in some of the most iconic of local food producers in Clonakilty. The tour weaves a tale of history and tradition alongside innovation and community where good food is at the heart of the charming town. A chance to meet the producers in person, hear about their own personal food journey and taste their beautiful food. Cost is €45 per person. Book online
Yet another food festival – there are now so many it can be difficult to choose. The Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival, 4th, 5th and 6th August 2017 (August Bank Holiday Weekend). The Food and Craft element of the Festival takes place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August 2017.

Artisan Food, Craft & Beer Markets, Free Live Music, Family Fun and so much more.

Padella in London

At present, London is certainly one of the most exciting food towns on the planet. Last time I was over, even with so much choice I happily queued for lunch outside a restaurant called Padella on the edge of Borough Market. They don’t take bookings, yet people are prepared to stand in line each day and have done so for several years because the food is so, so good, simple and delicious. The queue moves pretty quickly and there’s a jolly camaraderie between the expectant diners. The food was absolutely worth the wait, no twiddles or foams or skid marks across the plate, just gorgeous simple Italian food made from exquisite ingredients.
This restaurant is owned by Tim Siadatan and is a sister restaurant of the slighter posher Trullo on Paul’s Road in Highbury East.
The young people who cook in these restaurants are super passionate about seasonality, quality products and provenance and they are not just talking the talk, they absolutely walk the walk.
It’s the kind of food I love to eat, so can you imagine how delighted I was to discover that Tim Siadatan has just published a cook book, simply called Trullo. I’m certainly not the only person who’s excited about this book. Jamie Oliver, Fergus and Margot Henderson of St John and Canteen, Sam Clarke of Moro, Anna Jones and Nigel Slater have all added their names and quotes to the back cover and that’s not a given, I can tell you……
Tim Siadatan influences are obvious in the food he serves proudly and enthusiastically. He spent time honing his skills in many of the kitchens of the above mentioned chefs plus at the River Café. All these places have the same ethos. They fully understand the importance of cooking according to the seasons, being sustainable, and really understanding where the produce comes from.
As I flicked through the pages of Trullo, lots of recipes made me want to dash into the kitchen….
I’ve chosen chilled almond and Charentais melon soup a riff on the Spanish classic Ajo Blanco, is a divine summer starter, cool and fresh – go easy on the vinegar…..
We recently reared a batch of our own organic chickens for the table so I used the plump legs in Tim’s recipe for roast chicken thighs and nduja with rosemary potatoes and anchovy mayonnaise.
Even if you can’t find or source nduja (try Fingal Ferugson of Gubbeen products,, the combination of crispy chicken and anchovy mayo is particularly appealing.
I regularly try delicious new ways to enjoy the bounty of green beans we have throughout the summer season. Loved this recipe for stewed bobby beans – see what you think.
A big roasting tin of potatoes, red pepper, anchovy, olive, chilli and rosemary also drew gasps of admiration when I took it out of the oven – a supper dish on its own but also irresistible with a fine roast or grill.
Affogato (vanilla bean ice cream with a shot of espresso) is one of the best things in the world but you have to try this raisin and Marsala version. If that doesn’t appeal, the Trullo book has several other sublime ice creams. Anyone for honeycomb and stem ginger, hazelnut or salted caramel ice cream….. Trullo published by Square Peg

Hot Tips
Grow your own Vegetables. During this intensive session Susan Turner, Ballymaloe Cookery School Head Gardener will cover compost making and soil management, crop rotations for weed control, disease prevention and soil management, vegetable varieties and successional crop production, saving your own vegetable seeds, harvest management -how to deal with gaps and gluts….
Monday August 14th 2017,

Eatyard, the permanent street food yard on South Richmond Street in Dublin, will once again pop up at Beatyard in Dun Laoghaire on August 5th and 6th, with over 100 food vendors, demos, food competitions, cooks and stands. Craft beer fans can get in the carnival spirit at Brewtonic Carnivale, and 10 cocktail and wine bars will also roll into Tippletown for the weekend.

Richie Scott Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition is at Ballymaloe House until end of summer. Each Tuesday and Thursday Richie will give a complimentary tour and tell you all about the sculptures and artists displayed in the open air on the grounds of Ballymaloe House. Meet at 6pm from the terrace at the front door – all welcome. Tel: 021 4652531 for further information.

Ballymaloe Grainstore presents a screening of the documentary film, Food Evolution, which explores the controversy surrounding genetically modified food on Sunday August 6th at 8pm followed by Q & A with the director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and Darina Allen. Tel: 021 4652531 for further details.

Trullo’s Roseval Potato, Red Pepper, Anchovy, Olive, Chilli and Rosemary Al Forno

The potatoes won’t get crispy because they absorb all of the flavours they’re hanging out with, but they do get wonderfully gooey and sticky.

Serves 4

2 red peppers
olive oil
6 Roseval red-skinned potatoes, skin-on and sliced 2cm thick
3 whole salted anchovies, washed and de-boned (or use 6 good-quality fillets)
24 green or purple olives, de-stoned
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
40g unsalted butter, cubed
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 190ËšC/gas mark 5.

Blister the peppers, ideally on a charcoal grill to get a smoky flavour, but if not, over a naked flame on a wire rack or using metal tongs – keep rolling them around until they’re blackened all over. Put in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film: it will inflate like a hot-air balloon. Wait until it deflates, then peel the peppers while they’re still warm (this makes it much easier). Discard the seeds and thinly slice. Put a glug of olive oil in a small saucepan and cook the peppers for 20 minutes on a low to medium heat.

Line a large, high-sided roasting tray with a thin layer of olive oil, then with parchment paper (the olive oil makes it stick down). Add all the ingredients (including the peppers), except the butter. Season with a big glug of olive oil, salt and a good smack of pepper, mix together and roast in the oven for 35 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the butter and roast for a further 5 minutes. The potatoes should have absorbed most of the liquid but have a shimmering viscous sauce.
Taken from Tim Siadatan, Trullo The Cookbook

Trullo’s Roast Chicken Thighs and Nduja with Rosemary Potatoes and Anchovy Mayonnaise

Serves 6

2 tablespoons nduja
8 Maris Piper potatoes cut into wedges
4 sprigs of rosemary
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Olive oil
18 chicken thighs (3 per person)

For the Anchovy Mayonnaise
2 free range or organic egg yolks
3 salted anchovy fillets, finely chopped
400 ml groundnut oil or other neutral oil
1 teaspoon red vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Put the nduja in a bowl, add a splash of hot water and mix to loosen.

Put the potatoes, rosemary and a sprinkle of salt in a pan and cover with water. Bring up to the boil then drain immediately. Let the potatoes completely steam dry then coat generously with olive oil and mix together. Heat an empty roasting tray (large enough to hold the potato wedges in a single layer) in the oven for 5 minutes, then take it out and add olive oil so that is about 3 cm deep. Add the potatoes, rosemary and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
Roast the potatoes on the top shelf of the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until crispy, stirring from time to time.

While your potatoes are roasting, heat a large frying pan on a low to medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and , working in batches, colour them in the pan until golden then transfer to the roasting tray.

Put the chicken on the lower shelf of the oven and roast for the remaining time of the potatoes (roughly 30 minutes). Add the nduja for the last 15 minutes of cooking and muddle it all around.
To make the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks and anchovies in a bowl and whisk. Slowly start pouring in the groundnut oil in a thin stream while whisking, continue until it has emulsified (all come together in a single mass) at which point you can start pouring a little faster – not too quickly though, otherwise it will split! Add the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the chicken and potatoes on platters in the middle of the table with a green salad.
Taken from Trullo The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan

Trullo’s Stewed Bobby Beans

Bobby beans are a fatter, more robust version of a fine green bean and grace us around the summer months. You could use fine green beans if you can’t get bobby beans.

Serves 4

A glug of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ red chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 anchovy fillets
2 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped and seeds discarded
2 kg bobby beans, stalks discarded

In a pan big enough to fit all the ingredients, heat a good glug of olive oil on a low heat. Add the garlic, chilli, oregano and anchovy and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue frying for 15 minutes until everything is broken up into a happy mush.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Add the beans, cook for 7 minutes and drain.

Add the beans to the mushy tomatoey goodness and stir. Cover with parchment paper or a lid and cook on a low heat for 35-40 minutes, stirring from time to time – add a splash of water to avoid it becoming too dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Taken from Trullo The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan

Trullo’s Marsala and Raisin Affogato

Serves 6

50 g raisins
100 ml Marsala, plus 50 ml for soaking the raisins, plus extra chilled in the freezer for serving (optional)
335 ml double cream
200 ml milk
1 vanilla pod, slit in half lengthways
8 free range or organic egg yolks
100 g caster sugar
6 espressos or strong filter coffee

Soak the raisins in 50 ml Marsala for at least 1 hour.

Put the cream, milk and vanilla pod in a pan and bring up to a simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and doubled in size (4-5 minutes). To temper the eggs, pour a small amount of the hot cream and milk mixture into the whisked eggs. Then pour this egg mixture back into the pan of hot milk and cream. Simmer on a low heat, stirring continuously for 5-6 minutes until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon without dripping off. Take care not to over heat the mixture and scramble the eggs. Add the Marsala and strain through a fine sieve into a chilled container (ideally set over ice) and cool and chill as quickly as possible.

Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. In the meantime, strain the raisins and squeeze out any excess liquid (this prevents the ice cream from going frosty) and fold them into the churned ice cream. This will keep in the freezer for 2 days.

Serve in ice cream bowls, with a shot of espresso poured over each portion – plus a little bit more chilled Marsala if you’re feeling fruity!

Taken from Trullo, The Cookbook by Tim Siadatan


There was a bit of a caffufle in the UK recently when a little five year old was left in tears after she was fined €150.00 for setting up a lemonade stand at the end of her street in East London. The plan was to sell little glasses of lemonade to people attending the Lovebox Festival in nearby Victoria Park. It brought a broad smile to the punters faces but after half an hour or so, not one but four over enthusiastic council enforcement officers approached her little table, accused her of trading without a licence and issued a fine to be paid wthin14 days. The poor little frightened mite and her dad packed up the stall and she sobbed all the way home.
However, her father while acknowledging that she possibly should have had a permit wrote about the incident in the Telegraph. Other papers picked it up, the fine was withdrawn and the council apologised for being too heavy handed – a happy outcome on this occasion, but one wonders how it would have panned out if Dad had not been a journalist…..
I’m all for encouraging young people or indeed anyone for that matter with a spark of entrepreneurial spirit to have a go. My children and now some of my grandchildren come up with bright ideas from time to time and it adds an element of fun during the long summer holidays.
Amelia, Jasper and India made some blackcurrant cordial to sell at a local Farmers Market, they not only learned how to make the cordial but also how to string black currants and sterilise the bottles. They also made and hand wrote the labels. Most of all they learned that it’s jolly hard work but they had so much fun and loved the praise and encouragement they got from the customers who so generously bought their delicious vitamin rich cordial. Wee buns or little cupcakes are always a sure seller. Start with a good recipe and of course use butter and other good ingredients so they taste delicious and are as nutritious as possible.
The old reliable choccie rice krispies are also a perennial favourite particularly when made with a good chocolate rather than the well-known brand of cooking chocolate; add a few raisins to boost the nutrients.
Popsicles are also super easy to make and both children and adults love them.
If you have a waffle iron, a bowl of batter can be made in minutes and customers can choose a range of toppings. Even easier are drop scones, this is a recipe everyone should have pasted to the inside of their kitchen cupboard. The batter can be whisked up in seconds and once again they can be embellished with sweet or savoury toppings and can be served hot off the pan but are also delicious cold.
Even if you don’t decide to set up a stall each of these recipes are little gems to add to your repertoire or to start a recipe folder.

Flowery British Queens
We are so fortunate to have a few dedicated potato farmers who still grow some of the traditional varieties, Home Guard, British Queens, Kerr’s Pinks, Golden Wonders. I picked up a bag of superb British Queens in Baltimore recently grown by Cha Holmes of Ballyalla near Skibbereen, “locally grown and seaweed fed”. Tel: 086 831 8609.

Irish Blueberries Now in Season
Juicy fat blueberries are now in season so be sure to check that you are buying Irish. I’ve got a few punnets of beautiful Derryvilla blueberries from Portarlington in Co Offaly but you’ll also find them from Rose Cottages at Midleton and Mahon Farmers Market and also at some West Cork Farmers Markets. Tel: 057 8642882.

Blackcurrant Cordial

This concentrated blackcurrant cordial, packed with vitamin C, is delicious diluted with sparkling or plain water or sparkling wine. It keeps for several months in a cool place.

1.1kg (21⁄2lb) organic blackcurrants
about (51⁄2lb) sugar
white wine vinegar

Boil the blackcurrants and 4 litres (7 pints) of water together in a stainless-steel saucepan for 15 minutes. Strain and add 13 parts of sugar to every 15 cups of liquid (we use a 225ml/8fl oz cup). Add 1 cup white vinegar and boil for 3 minutes. Pour into sterilised bottles and seal well. Dilute with water to taste.

Blackcurrant Popsicles

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

Makes 6

450g (1lb) blackcurrants
syrup (see below)

150ml (¼ pint) water

Pour the syrup over the blackcurrants and bring to the boil, cook for 3-5 minutes until the blackcurrants burst. Liquidise and sieve through a nylon sieve. Add 150ml (¼ pint) water. Allow to cool.
Pour into popsicle moulds, cover, insert a stick and freeze until needed. Best eaten within a few days.


275g (10oz) sugar
300ml (10fl.oz) water

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

Blueberry Muffins

Blanaid Bergin my sister makes the yummiest muffins – seemingly in minutes.

Makes 8

In season: year round

225g (8oz/2 cups) white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 level tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) baking powder
140g (5oz/1/2 cup) caster sugar
75g (3oz/3/4 stick) butter
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
170ml (6floz/3/4 cup) milk
110g (4oz/1 cup) blueberries or raspberries

1 muffin tray lined with muffin papers

Preheat the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 4-5. Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, vanilla extract and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Fold in the blueberries or raspberries gently. Spoon into the muffin cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.

Aunty Pam’s Krispie Buns or Mini Rice Krispie Cakes

Makes approximately 48 mini cakes or 12 – 15 large muffin size

100g (3 ½ oz) milk chocolate
75g (3oz) Kellogs Rice Krispies

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a saucepan of simmering but not boiling water. Gradually add the rice krispies careful not to break them up too much. Spoon a heaped teaspoon into mini muffin cases. While they are still soft, gently press in a Smartie or Jelly Tot. For an extra surprise, pop a Smartie or Jelly Tot in the bottom and fill with rice Krispie mixture. Chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours and serve on a pretty cake plate.

Mini muffin tray and mini muffin coloured cases.

Mary Jo’s Waffles

Makes 12

Mary Jo McMillan worked with us at the Cookery School on several occasions – she was a passionate and perceptive cook. This is her recipe for waffles which I enjoy much more than mine.

175g (6ozs/1 1/2 cups) white flour
15g (1/2oz) sugar
a pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

50g (2ozs/1/2 stick) butter, melted
350g (12ozs1 1/2 cups) milk, slightly warmed
2 eggs, free-range and organic if possible, separated

75g (3ozs/scant 1/2 cup) of batter for each waffle.

Preheat waffle iron. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a deep bowl. Make a well in the centre. Mix the warm milk, melted butter and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour the milk and egg yolk mixture into the well in the dry ingredients. Stir together to form a batter. Whip the eggs whites stifly and gently fold into the batter. Heat the waffle iron. Pour a 75g (3oz/scant 1/2 cup) ladle of batter onto the iron. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden on the outside.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve hot in a variety of ways both sweet and savoury.

Waffles with Fresh Fruit and Berries

Ripe berries of all kinds, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, boysenberries, sliced peaches, nectarines, apricots and bananas are all delicious with waffles. Pile the fruit on top of hot waffles, or serve it on the side of the plate. A blob of softly whipped cream doesn’t go amiss!

Waffles with Bananas, Toffee Sauce and Chopped Walnuts

2-3 sliced bananas
Toffee Sauce (see recipe)
110g (4oz) coarsely chopped walnuts

Toffee Sauce
110g (4oz/1 stick) butter
5oz (150g/scant 3/4 cup) dark soft brown Barbados sugar *
3oz (75g/scant 1/2 cup) granulated sugar *
225g (8oz) golden syrup *
225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the butter, sugars and golden syrup into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt gently on a low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and the vanilla extract. Put back on the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until the sauce is absolutely smooth.

Put some banana slices on top of the waffles, pour Toffee Sauce over and sprinkle with the coarsely chopped walnuts.

Top Tip

Toffee Sauce is also delicious with ice-cream. It will keep for several weeks stored in a screw-top jar in the fridge.

Good things to serve with waffles:
Crispy bacon and honey or maple syrup
Crispy bacon and slices of Gruyére or Emmental cheese
Crispy bacon with sliced banana
White peaches with raspberries


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