ArchiveOctober 2018

All set for Halloween

We’re all set for Halloween, squash, pumpkins and gourds of every size, shape and colour are piled precariously on the cookery school table tops, window ledges, in baskets and boxes, they look so beautiful. It has become a bit of a tradition now for children from the local schools to come to the farm to harvest the squash and pumpkin every Autumn. They have the best fun and are intrigued by the names, Hubbard,  Turks Turban, Little Gem, Delicata, Hokkaido, Crown Prince, Kobocha,  Cocozelle, Jack be Little, Red Kuri… Some are the size of a child’s fist, others so enormous that is takes two sturdy lads to carry them.

Everyone loves carving the pumpkins into scary faces for Halloween, the festival that apparently originated in Ireland over three thousand years ago when the pagan festival of Samhain  marked the end of the Celtic year and the beginning of the new year, the natural transition from lighter Summer to the darker Winter. At this time of the year it was believed that the division between this world and the other world was at its most fragile, allowing spirits to pass though. So as in the Mexican tradition of the ‘Day of the Dead ‘the spirits of the ancestors were invited back home and evil spirits were warded off. Bonfires, food, costumes and masks were all part of the festivities.

After the famine, the Irish carried their Halloween traditions to America where it is now one of the major holidays of the year. Similarly, here in Ireland where it is fast becoming as big as Christmas.  For several weeks now children have been whipped into a lather of excitement by all the Halloween temptations on TV and in the shops and the anticipation of dressing up as ghouls and witches to do the rounds of their neighbourhood for the annual ‘trick or treat’.

You may be amused to hear that we were inadvertently removed from the ‘must visit’ list a number of years ago when word spread among the ‘trick or treaters’ that Ballymaloe Cookery School was no good because you only got fruit and nuts.

The fact that they were home-grown apples and fresh hazelnuts, cobnuts and walnuts from the nut garden did not remotely impress the scary little dotes who were hoping for proper sugar laden treats. So I think we’ve been black-listed!!
The spider web cup-cakes did actually impress as did the ‘spooky puca’ meringues but they were scarcely worth the effort of schlepping up the long avenue for.

Here are a few more scary Halloween treats for you to have fun making with your children and their friends. YouTube  (I checked the spelling) is a brilliant source of ideas….



Devilled Spider Eggs

Serves 8

4 free-range eggs

3-4 tablespoons Homemade Mayonnaise (see below)

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chives

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

black olives, sliced or nigella seeds, enough for 16 or more scary eyes

long fresh chives

shredded lettuce or baby spinach leaves


For the egg mayonnaise, hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes in boiling water, drain and put immediately into a bowl of cold water. (Eggs with a black ring around the yolk have been overcooked). When cold, shell, slice in half lengthways and sieve the yolks, mix the sieved yolk with mayonnaise, season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill into a piping bag and pipe into the whites.


To assemble

Bend the chives for spider legs, four on each side. Use nigella seeds or slices of black olives for scary eyes.

Serve on a bed of shredded lettuce or baby spinach.



makes 250ml (9fl oz) approx.

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon French mustard

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

225ml (8fl oz) oil (sunflower or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 175ml (6fl oz) sunflower oil and 50ml (2fl oz) olive oil


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



Halloween Chocolate Pops

makes 25-30

225g (8oz) dark chocolate (we use Valrhona 52%), chopped

whole hazelnuts and almonds, toasted

whole pistachio nuts

yellow raisins

plump sultanas

freeze-dried raspberry



Chocolate Pop moulds

Put the chocolate into a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of hot water (the base of the bowl should not touch the water). When the water comes to the boil, turn off the heat and leave until the chocolate melts.

Spoon into the moulds.  Insert a lollipop stick into each one.

Tap the work top to smooth over the top.


Decorate each chocolate pop with freeze-dried raspberries, nuts, dried fruit or pipe white chocolate on to the set chocolate to make scary faces.


Allow to set.  Unmould.




Dracula’s Fangs

Makes about 9 x 50g cookies


110g (4ozs) butter

50g (2oz) brown sugar

60g (2½ oz) castor sugar

1 eggs preferably free range

½  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

175g (6oz) plain white flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

60g (2½ oz) chocolate chips

50g (2oz) chopped nuts – hazelnuts – optional


To decorate

Bloody butter cream:

60g (2½ oz) soft butter

150g (5oz) icing sugar

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

6-8 drops natural red colouring

white mini marshmallows


For the fangs:

3 – 4 almonds, peeled and slivered lengthways


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


Cream the butter add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg bit by bit, then the vanilla extract.  Mix the dry ingredients together and fold them in.  Lastly, add the chocolate chips and the chopped nuts.


Divide into 50g (2oz) pieces onto baking sheets. Remember to allow lots of room for spreading.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes, depending on size. Cool for a few minutes on the tray and then transfer to wire racks.

Meanwhile cream the soft butter and the sieved icing sugar, a few drops of natural vanilla extract and enough red colouring to make a blood red butter cream.


To assemble:

Cut the chocolate chip cookies in half, spread each semi- circle with a layer of blood red butter cream.

Arrange a layer of mini white marshmallows on one half. Top with the other, then insert the almond fangs on both sides allowing 4 mini marshmallows in the centre between the fangs. Fun for the Halloween Feast…..




Scary Strawberry Ghosts

Another super simple recipe to make with the kids for their Halloween altar.

makes 20

20 large strawberries

100g white chocolate

100g dark chocolate


Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a tray.

Put the white chocolate into a small pyrex bowl over a saucepan of cold water. Bring to the boil and turn off the heat immediately (the water should not touch the base of the bowl) Allow to sit until the chocolate melts.

Catch each strawberry by the calyx and dip in the melted chocolate until the fruit is almost fully submerged. Allow to develop a drip at the base, then lay each on its side on the parchment paper.

Meanwhile melt some dark chocolate also. Fill into a parchment piping bag and decorate each strawberry with eyes and a smile or a frown – Can be a happy, sad, or scary face, all part of the fun…..

Good to know, a toothpick dipped in the dark chocolate also works well.


Stephanie Alexander’s Spiced Pumpkin Cake

This pumpkin cake has a special place in my heart. The teachers and students at Collingwood College in Melbourne baked the cake from pumpkins they grew in the school gardens as a special treat for me, all part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation


Decorate with spooky spiders and ghouls


Serves 20 approximately


350 g (12 oz) pumpkin (skinned and de seeded)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1-2 tablespoons olive oil


Pumpkin Cake

180 g (6¼ oz) light soft brown sugar or dark soft brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

150 ml (5 fl oz) olive oil

250 g (9 oz) self raising flour

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon nutmeg


Lemon Glaze

250 g (9 oz) icing sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

Fresh thyme sprigs, (to serve)


2 x 1lb tin


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


Chop the pumpkin into 2 cm pieces. Place in a bowl with olive oil and cinnamon; give a good toss making sure all pieces are coated. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool, then blitz with a food stick blender or in a magimix.


Line the loaf pan with baking paper.


In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until  thick and combined. Pour in the olive oil and combine. Stir through the pureed pumpkin. Sieve over the flour and spices, stir together until all incorporated.


Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.


Meanwhile make the icing. Sieve the icing sugar into a medium bowl, gradually add the lemon juice until you have a thick runny consistency. Pour over the cake and decorate with fresh thyme sprigs.


Ballymaloe Halloween Barmbrack

This is a more modern version of barmbrack, now commonly called a ‘tea brack’ because the dried fruit is soaked in tea overnight to plump it up.  Even though it is a very rich bread, in Ireland it is traditionally served sliced and buttered.


Yields about 12 slices (eat the crusts, too!)


110g (4oz) sultanas

110g (4oz) raisins

110g (4oz) currants

50g (2oz) natural glace cherries, halved or quartered

300ml (10fl oz) hot tea

1 organic egg, whisked

175g (6oz) soft brown sugar

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon mixed spice

50g (2oz) homemade candied peel


ring, stick, pea, piece of cloth, all wrapped up in greaseproof paper


450g (1lb) loaf tin – 12.5 x 20cm (5 x 8in) OR 3 small loaf tins 15 x 7.5cm (6 x 3in)



Put the dried fruit and cherries into a bowl. Cover with hot tea and leave to plump up overnight.


Next day, line the loaf tin with parchment paper.


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


Add the whisked egg, soft brown sugar, flour and mixed spice to the fruit and tea mixture. Stir well. Put the mixture into the lined loaf tin. Tuck the various charms into the loaf.

Cook in for about 1 1/2hours or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Brush with a little ‘bun wash’


Keeps very well in an airtight tin.


Bun Wash

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon sugar

Heat the water and sugar in a tiny saucepan, boil for two minutes, allow to cool.

Terra Madre


Just back from Slow Food Terra Madre Salone Del Gusto 2018, the biggest international event, anywhere in the world, dedicated to food, 1.2 million people attended in 2016. Every two years a most intriguing mix of people from all over the world, farmers, fishermen, artisan food producers, transhumant shepherds, food scientists, chefs, food writers, activists, university professors, seeds savers, migrants and indigenous people descend on Turin, a beautiful small city in Piedmont. They come from all four corners of the earth to attend a massive 5 day artisan food fair and a variety of seminars on how to change our current fractured food system.

Carlo Petrini, the messianic president of Slow Food International,  who was named “one of the 50 people who could save the planet” by The Guardian, gave an impassioned speech about Food For Change – a global campaign aimed at educating all of us on the effect of our food choices have on climate change. Slow Food is committed to a food system that not only provides Good, Clean and Fair food for all but is also sustainable and positive for the planet,

Each and every one of us can and must make a difference by choosing food that doesn’t harm the environment though its production, its transportation or its disposal.

It comes as quite a shock to realise that we could reverse climate change by changing our diet. I attended a variety of intriguing sessions; one on natural ferments, the panel included one of my food heroes Sandor Katz, the king of Fermentation, and Venetia Villani, director of Cucina Naturale.


In another session on pesticides entitled The Poison in The Pot Miryam Kurganoff de Gorban from Argentina showed a heart rending video on the effect of glyphosate on farm workers in Argentina.

On a more positive note Earth markets are changing communities from Krakow to San Diego, Uganda to Turkey.

A  session on soil, ‘the Future is Under Our Feet’ included Arwyn Jones a soil scientist from the EU Soil Research Centre in Milan – he and his fellow speakers painted a grim picture of the effect of intensive chemical farming on the soil that feeds us and suggested many ways to rebuild the diminishing fertility.

I learned from chef Yuriy Pryiemskyi from Kiev that there are 76 different types of Bortsch. Imagine that, I thought there was just one.


Ireland was represented by the Raw Milk cheese producers – Italians were intrigued to taste Young Buck Mike Thompson. Long-time Slow Food member Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery in West Cork gave an engaging session to a packed audience on Ireland’s smokehouses and also demonstrated kedgeree and ceviche.


Feeding thousands of people every day is quite the mission but there are many options. The ‘street food’ area offered many intriguing dishes as did the ‘smoke food over fire’ and several others including Terra Madre Kitchen.


The Slow Food Youth area was buzzing with passionate young people from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo determined to make a difference. Slow Seeds, Slow Fish, Slow Insects, Slow Meat, and Slow Cheese all offered back to back sessions.

Slow Chickens were determined to put an end to caged birds.


Slow Food Terra Madre is quite simply a life changing event, thousands of inspirational people all helping to change, or wanting to change the fast food culture that has enveloped our lives and make a difference to the planet with how they spend their food euro.


Just by coincidence Joe Trivelli of the River Cafe in London’s new book The Modern Italian Cook has just arrived…. now this is a book I’ve been eagerly anticipating. Joe is the much loved co head chef at River Cafe and has worked there since 2001 but this book is packed with recipes for the food Joe likes to cook at home for his lovely wife and two children and his fortunate friends…..just the sort of comforting food I too love….

Here are a few recipes to tempt you – could be a delicious Christmas present for a food loving friend.





Focaccia di Recco

One of the stalls in the Slow Food Street Food area served thin crackly paper thin focaccia, oozing with Stracchino, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and lo and behold I have a recipe in Joe Trivelli’s book, The Modern Italian Cookbook.


Joe Trivelli’s Focaccia from Recco Focaccia Di Recco

Recco is a town on the Ligurian coast between Genova and Portofino. If you go there you can eat this on the street or at a focacceria, where it is treated more like a pizza. If you’d like to make a large one, it’s easier to do it with another pair of hands, stretching the dough very gently between you. The stretching of this dough requires a lightness of touch and a minimum of pulling.


If you’ve never had this before I think you should opt for the plain version, but you can also ‘pizzerise’ with a tomato and herb topping and a little oil before baking, if you like.


Serves 2


250g (9oz) organic ‘oo’ flour

125m1 (4fl oz) whole milk

200g (7oz) stracchino or crescenza cheese

sea salt

extra virgin olive oil.



Mix the flour and milk together until you have a dough, then transfer to a clean work surface for kneading. Lightly flour the bench if the dough is tacky. Knead it constantly, rotating it all the while, and flouring the worktop where necessary, for about 4 minutes or longer if your batch is bigger. It quickly feels very smooth on the outside and will bounce back when pressed with your fingertip.


When smooth to the touch, cover well and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 220°C/400°F/Mark 6 and oil a light, large non-stick baking tray.


Cut the dough into two roughly equal amounts, but make one slightly bigger than the other. Use the bigger one for the base. Roll it out into a rectangle as thinly as possible, to about 2mm. Keep the tray you are going to use beside you to help you gauge the size and begin to work with your hands.  The aim is to make something thinner than regular pasta, almost as thin as filo. The under sheet can be slightly thicker than the top but make sure that it doesn’t have any holes in it. The second will have holes made in it, so it’s not as much of a problem.


Work with your hands together as if you were praying but with the dough sheet draped over. Carefully move your hands apart, but do this very gently, almost as though trying not to stretch the dough. It will, however, do so. Hop the dough on your hands so that it turns around by 45 degrees at first and repeat. Pay particular attention to the edges of the dough, not the centre, which will naturally be pulled by the weight of the dough. Stretch the parts that are thicker and avoid those that look too thin.


When large enough to fit, place on the baking tray and dot with pieces of stracchino cheese. Stretch out a second piece of dough, ideally slightly thinner. Place on top of the cheese and cut around the edges with a knife. Crimp the border together and tear a few holes in the top. Lightly sprinkle with olive oil and salt before baking.


Bake for 8 minutes until golden and slightly bubbling through the holes. Eat immediately and make another straight away.



Joe Trivelli’s Tomato Frittata Ruthie Rogers Frittata Al Pomodoro Ruthie Rogers

This is straight from the boss, something she makes at home rather than serves in the restaurant. It’s evocative for me as we ate this all summer in between shooting her Classic Italian Cookbook in southern Tuscany with Rose Gray. It’s a dish without a time. Quick to prepare; quick to enjoy; fine to eat standing up but also great to linger over with a glass of wine.


I have tried hard not to be too specific with ingredients but here I must insist that this is made with only the very ripest and tastiest tomatoes at the height of summer and spanking-fresh eggs. This is because it’s what Ruthie would insist on when making it for us. It would be less than half the dish otherwise.


Add some cheese if that’s your thing but it’s not really necessary.


Serves 1


2 eggs

½ ripe oxheart tomato or 1 plum tomato, cut into 2cm slices

2 small basil sprigs

sea salt, black pepper

extra virgin olive oil



Break the eggs into a bowl, season and lightly mix with a fork,


Heat a 25cm trusty pan to smoking hot with oil just covering the bottom. Add the tomato and turn over with a spatula as soon as it is hot, i.e. quite quickly. You don’t really want to cook it, just heat up and scorch it a bit.


Add the basil and pour over the eggs, moving them a little after 20 seconds when the middle has started to cook so that that cooked egg is distributed throughout the pan. Position everything to look pretty, if you care about this sort of thing. Cook for minute.


Flip and cook for 1 minute more.




Barny Haughton’s Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

The sauce for this deeply delicious and simple dish has four basic ingredients: tomatoes, shallots, chilli and bacon. But there are some rules about the ingredients:

You really need to get the right bacon; the deep flavour of a good Amatriciana comes from the rendered-down fat. The best bacon cut is guanciale (pork cheek) but a good fatty unsmoked pancetta will do fine as well.

Bucatini, (like thick spaghetti) is best for the pasta but rigatoni or penne will also do well – but don’t use fresh pasta.

And finally: use pecorino not parmesan. The difference may not seem a big deal but what you get from pecorino (made from sheeps milk) is a sharpness which works brilliantly with the rich Amatriciana sauce. Parmesan (made from cows milk) is sweeter and less defined in its flavour


Serves 4 people


400g (14oz) guanciale or a piece of fatty pancetta

1 teaspoon chilli flakes

3 shallots very finely sliced

600g (1¼lb) ripe tomatoes – or a 380g tin of good quality chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

80g (3¼ oz) aged pecorino, grated

400g (14oz) bucatini

olive oil


You are going to make a passata out of the tomatoes. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4. Place the tomatoes on a roasting tray, toss them in a little olive oil and salt and bake them for about 45 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then pass through a mouli or sieve, leaving behind only the dry skin and seeds. You should end up with about Note: if you have lots and lots of ripe tomatoes, say, five kilos, you could do as above, then reheat the passata to simmering and transfer to sterilised jars, screw the lids on tight and keep in a cool place for up to three months until needed.


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


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


Meanwhile, add the rendered fat to the tomato sauce and have the crispy lardons ready in a warm place.


Now add the pasta and lardons to the sauce in the frying pan, simmer for 30 seconds and serve immediately with lots of grated pecorino.



Our fig trees in the glasshouse are giving us a second flush of fruit at present. The first plump fruit ripened in May but there’s an extra bonus in the Autumn so I was thrilled to find this recipe. Fingal Ferguson’s Gubbeen guanciale and pancetta are worth seeking out.


Joe Trivelli’s Rigatoni with Figs Al Fichi

This sounds like an unusual pairing but actually the faintly spicy figs with the rich cured meat is a delicious combination.


Serves 4


400g (14oz) rigatoni

150g (5oz) guanciale or pancetta, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

6 fresh figs, washed and sliced into three

100g (3½oz) grated mature pecorino, plus extra to serve

sea salt and  black pepper

extra virgin olive oil


Put a large pan of salted water on to heat. You can start cooking the pasta as soon as it boils as the sauce is that quick to make.


Fry the guanciale or pancetta in a large pan with a tablespoon of olive oil. When it is nice and crispy, and most of the fat has melted, acid the thyme and figs and toss quickly.


Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the other pan and toss everything together, adding the cheese and using the cooking water to emulsify the sauce as necessary. Add a good grind of pepper and salt to taste.


Serve with more cheese for grating at the table.



Joe Trivelli’s Ricotta Ice Cream Gelato Alla Ricotta

Super-easy, super-creamy, with figs, hazelnuts and chocolate, I’ve thrown all the good stuff at this.


Serves 6


100g (3½oz) dried figs

juice of  1 lemon

140g (4¼ oz) caster sugar

500g (18oz) ricotta

6 egg yolks

300g (10½oz) double cream

200ml (7fl oz) whole milk

70g (3oz) roasted hazelnuts, chopped into small pieces

80g (3¼ oz) dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces



Take the tips off the figs and cut into pieces. Put the lemon juice in a pan with log of the sugar and the figs. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat and leave to soften.


Pass the ricotta through a sieve and then do it again to make it creamy. Whisk the egg yolks with the rest of the sugar until pale then add the cream, milk and ricotta.


Churn in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Towards the end, stir through the nuts, chocolate and figs. Best eaten as soon as it’s scoopable, after about 3 hours in the freezer, but this ice cream will keep for a week.


Remove from the freezer well ahead of serving to soften once frozen solid.

The Humble Spud

This week’s column is a celebration of the potato – the super versatile, super nutritious and super cool tuber often referred to as the ‘humble spud’.

Somehow, despite its many virtues, the potato has managed to acquire a frumpy image. Several recent surveys indicate that potatoes sales are down whilst sales of rice pasta and noodles have risen significantly.

Millennials particularly are opting for microwavable options and see potatoes as a bit of a ‘faff to cook’. Many, it seems, prefer microwavable rice (although far more expensive) – I didn’t even know such a thing existed but apparently the market is now worth millions.

Well call me old fashioned but the potato is still my number one vegetable, it’s certainly not just ‘a bit on the side’. I’m still a dedicated aficionado for more reasons than I can mention, not least its nutrient density and flavour plus it’s naturally gluten free.

Recent research has also shown conclusively that potatoes contain blood pressure lowering compounds called kukoamines and a range of phytonutrients that act as antioxidants.

They are a rich source of vitamin B6, C and B1, both types of fibre and have more potassium than bananas – good for the brain, no fat, a brilliant source of energy, a slow release food and on and on it goes….

From the cooks point of view they are a blank canvas for all kinds of flavours. But there are spuds and spuds and variety really matters so try to find some of the old or what are now called heritage varieties in farmers markets and local greengrocers. I snap up local, organically grown potatoes whenever I can find them. At present we are enjoying (varieties on the off ask Eileen) and pink fir apple (a waxy fingerling type).

My favourite Winter varieties are Golden Wonders and Kerr’s Pinks which grow brilliantly in the soils around the Ballycotton area but also in pockets around the country so seek them out…..


Now I’m back in to the kitchen with bag of floury and a few waxy spuds. So what to do? There are so many delicious way to cook potatoes, they soak up a myriad of flavours, fresh herbs, spices…

The flavour of the East, Far East, Mexico, South America from whence they came. They are estimated to be well of over 4,000 native varieties still growing ‘in Peru. You can’t imagine how beautiful and diverse they are, every colour, shape, texture…like jewels.


Here in Ireland the most traditional way to cook potatoes is to boil them and I am rarely without a few left over boiled spuds in my fridge. They’re a brilliant standby and the basis of so many tasty filling supper dishes.

But a word about boiling potatoes, they can be bland and virtually tasteless or full of flavour depending on the variety and the way they are cooked…they need plenty of SALT in the water and cook them in their jackets. I add a tablespoon to 2 pints, better still use sea water….. If you happen to be near the coast or are out for a Sunday drive. Go for a paddle and bring back for a container of sea water with contains a host of other minerals and trace elements as well as salt.

As you stroll across the beach maybe pick up some kelp, add a piece to the pot for extra flavour and nutrients and bring a bag of mixed seaweed home to add to the soil in your garden. So here are some of my favourite ways to use up left over boiled potatoes.


Traditional Irish Jacket Potatoes


Here is the best way to cook old varieties, so they don’t dissolve into a mush before they are fully cooked. It’s not at all traditional, but a Chinese steamer over a wok, (with well-salted water underneath) works really well and the potatoes remain intact. Many people now peel potatoes before they boil them, however, it’s worth remembering that they have considerably more flavour if cook them in their jackets. Plus, there’s less waste, and most of the nutrients are just underneath the skin.


Serves 4


900g (2lb) ‘old’ potatoes such as Golden Wonders, Kerr’s Pink or Red Duke of York



3 teaspoons of salt to every

1.2 litres (2 pints) water


Put the potatoes in a deep saucepan, cover with fresh, cold water and add salt. Cover and bring to the boil and continue to cook over a medium heat about 15 minutes, until half-cooked. Pour off most of the water, leaving about 2.5cm (1 inch) liquid in the saucepan. Reduce the heat, cover and leave the potatoes to steam for the remainder of the cooking time, at least a further 15 minutes, until a skewer goes through the centre easily.


Put into a hot serving dish and serve with lots of good butter or a terrific olive oil (rather than on top) and some flaky sea salt.


Potatoes with Cumin and Ginger

Love the way the cayenne and spices can add oomph to leftover potatoes in this recipe. Enjoy them on their own or as a ‘ side’ with a couple of lamb chop


Serves 6


1kg (2¼lbs) potatoes, cooked in jackets in well salted water

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin, freshly roasted

3 teaspoons freshly ginger, grated

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

a generous pinch of cayenne

3 tablespoons freshly ground coriander


Peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) cubes.  Heat a wide frying pan.  Pour in the oil, and add the freshly ground cumin, ginger, salt, pepper and cayenne.  Stir and add the potatoes, toss gently and cook until the potatoes are hot and crusted with the spices.  Sprinkle with chopped coriander.  Taste. Correct seasoning.



Potato and Pecorino Frittata

I love the flavour of Pecorino with the eggs and new potatoes it gives the dish real depth of flavour.  However, Parmesan would be a good alternative.  The fritatta is great for a picnic or cut into neat squares and serve as a pre-dinner nibble or canapé.

Serves 4


450g/1lb new potatoes or left over potatoes

2 tablespoons light olive oil

1 small onion, finely sliced

6 free-range eggs

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

140g/5oz Pecorino finely grated,

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender to the point of a knife.  Allow to cool slightly, then cut into chunky slices.

Heat a heavy-based non-stick frying pan big enough to take all the ingredients.  Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft and beginning to brown.


Meanwhile whisk together the eggs and chives.  Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper then add the cheese and whisk again.

Heat the grill to moderately hot.

Add the potato slices to the onions and then pour over the egg mixture.  Cook over a low heat until the edges are beginning to firm up and the frittata is lightly set.  This may take up to ten minutes.

Finally place under the grill.  Don’t place the pan too close to the heat or it will burn on top before the centre is cooked.  Cook for 2-3 minutes until the eggs are set and the top is a lovely golden colour.

Serve hot or cold.  This would be delicious with a mixed leaf and tomato salad.


Note: Alternatively cook in a pre-heated at 160C for 10 to 12 minutes


Elizabeth’s Cheesy Potatoes

Serves 2-3

This was one of my sister Elizabeth’s favourite recipes when she was a penniless student but it continues to be one of our favourite recipes, loved by all the family of every age.


1lb (450g) left over boiled potatoes, peeled and dice into 1 inch (2cm) dice

1/3 pints (150ml) whole milk

4ozs (110g) Irish Cheddar cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground pepper


greased pie dish – 1 pint (600ml) – capacity


Put the diced potatoes into a saucepan, add the cold milk, season with freshly ground pepper and salt. Stir over a low heat until the potatoes have absorbed the milk, then add 3ozs (85g) grated cheese and stir gently, then turn into a pie dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1oz (30g) grated cheese over the top. Cook in a preheated oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, until nicely brown on top, approx. 20 minutes.

Note: Some potatoes will absorb more milk than others, if the mixture looks a little dry, add a little more milk. Delicious served with fish.


This recipe can be varied a little by adding some chopped cooked smoked ham or rasher, or a little sautéed onion.


Rustic Roast Potatoes with Sweet Chilli Sauce & Sour Cream

All the rage in Oz.


Serves 4


1½lbs (680g) rustic roast potatoes (see recipe)

Sweet Chilli Sauce *

Sour cream


To Serve

When the rustic roast potatoes are crisp and golden.  Drain on absorbent kitchen paper.  Season with salt.

Serve immediately in a deep bowl with a little bowl of sweet chilli sauce and sour cream on each plate.


Note: Deep-fried cooked potato may be used instead.

Rustic Roast Potatoes

Serves 4-6


These are my children’s favourite kind of roast spuds. They particularly love all the crusty skin.


6 large ‘old’ potatoes eg. Golden Wonder or Kerrs Pinks

Olive oil or beef dripping (unless for Vegetarians)-duck or goose fat are also delicious

Sea salt


Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8.   Scrub the potatoes well, cut into quarters lengthways or cut into thick rounds ¾ inch (2cm) approx.   Put into a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and toss so they are barely coated with olive oil.   Roast in a preheated oven for 30-45 minutes depending on size.  Sprinkle with sea salt and serve in a hot terracotta dish.

Rustic Roast Potatoes with Garlic Cloves

18 garlic cloves


Proceed as above, add the garlic after the potatoes have been cooking for 10 – 15 minutes. Toss in the oil.  Keep an eye on the garlic cloves, they will probably be cooked before the potatoes, if so remove and keep warm in a serving dish.

Press the soft sweet garlic out of the skins and eat with the crispy potatoes




Sauté Potatoes with Rosemary



Sounds so easy but it is surprisingly difficult to do perfect sauté potatoes – the secret is to allow to brown well on one side before turning over


900g (2lbs) potatoes

extra virgin olive oil

fresh rosemary sprigs

pepper and salt


Boil the potatoes in their jackets until just cooked. Peel and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) slices. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, scatter in some fresh rosemary. Cook the slices of potato over a medium heat until golden on one side, then turn over and cook until golden on the other side. Drain on kitchen paper and season with a little salt and freshly ground pepper before serving. Garnish with sprigs of fresh rosemary.


Sauté Potatoes with Sage Leaves

Substitute sage leaves for rosemary in the above recipe.


For garnish

Heat 2.5cm (1 inch) olive oil in a frying pan, deep fry sage leaves for a few seconds until crisp and frizzy, drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle over the sauté potatoes as garnish.


Potato Spring Onion Salad

Serves 4-6


900g (2lbs) freshly cooked potatoes – diced, allow about 1.1kg (2 1/2lbs) raw potatoes

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped chives or scallions or 2 teaspoons chopped onion

110ml (4fl oz) French Dressing

110ml (4fl oz) homemade Mayonnaise

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

lots of nasturtium leaves and red, orange and yellow nasturtium flowers (75-110g/3 – 4oz)


The potatoes should be boiled in their jackets and peeled, diced and measured while still hot. Mix immediately with onion, parsley, salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir in the French dressing, allow to cool and finally add the mayonnaise. Toss in the coarsely chopped nasturtium leaves and two thirds of the flowers.

Best served fresh but keeps well for about 2 days.


Note: This potato salad is also delicious without mayonnaise.   Potato salad may be used as a base for other salads, eg. add cubes of chorizo, cooked mussels or cockles or even diced cucumber.



Hot Potato Salad


Serves 4-6


Serve with sausages, boiled bacon, hot terrine, hot spiced beef or pate. Can be accompanied by red cabbage.


Ingredients as for potato salad above plus the following:

2 hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons chopped gherkins


Make as above, but omit the mayonnaise. Add the eggs cut in 5mm (1/4 inch) dice, gherkins and capers if used.



Piped Potato Salad


1 generous litre freshly mashed potato


Add French dressing, finely chopped parsley, chives and mayonnaise to the stiff potato to taste. Pipe onto individual leaves of lettuce or use to garnish starter salad or hors d’oevures.


Potato and Thyme Leaf Salad


Serves 6 approximately


Scant quart cooked potatoes peeled and cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice


110ml (4fl oz) fruity extra virgin olive oil

2-4 tablespoons thyme leaves and thyme flowers if available

sea salt and pepper to taste


Coat potatoes in a good extra virgin oil while still warm. Season to taste. Sprinkle liberally with fresh thyme leaves.  Garnish with lots of purple and mauve thyme flowers.

Twice Cooked Roasted Potatoes with Shallots and Thyme leaves

Serves 8-10

I love to cook potatoes and shallots (or baby onions) in the roasting tin after I’ve roasted a duck.  The fat and juices soak into the potato and shallots and give them a sublime flavour.


8-10 large potatoes cooked in their jackets in boiling salted water

24-30 shallots

Duck or goose fat or extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 tablespoons thyme leaves



Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8.  If the potatoes are new season, there’s no need to peel them, otherwise remove the skin.  Cut into approximately 2cm (3/4 inches) thick slices.  Peel the shallots and cut in half if large.  Heat 3 or 4 tablespoons of duck or goose fat in 1 or 2 roasting tins.  (Alternatively use extra virgin olive oil.)  Put in the potato slices and shallots.  Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and thyme leaves.  Toss gently to coat in the duck or goose fat.  Roast for 30-40 minutes in the preheated oven, turning regularly until the outsides are all crisp and golden.

Wild Foods

Wild foods have never been so much in vogue, they are all over restaurant menus and we love it…..

Foraging has virtually become a national sport, young and old are scurrying about in woodlands and along the hedgerows in search of nuts, berries and wild mushrooms. It’s been a fantastic year for fungi,  we got baskets and baskets of wild mushrooms, not just field mushrooms, but porcini, yellow legs, chanterelles and even a huge cauliflower mushroom proudly delivered by a particularly knowledgeable local forager. I’d never cooked one before so that was super exciting.

We used field mushrooms in every conceivable way, mushroom soup, mushrooms on toast, mushroom a la crème, mushroom risotto and we made mushroom ketchup for the first time in over a decade. Our farm around the Cookery School has been managed organically for over 20 years now and this year Mother Nature rewarded us with a bounty of field mushrooms. We couldn’t collect them fast enough, several of the fields were literally white with mushrooms.  we had such fun showing our grandchildren how to recognise and gather field mushrooms. For the first time in almost a decade the conditions were perfect – warm moist weather and chemical free fields.

There’s also a bumper crop of blackberries, not sure I’ve ever seen so many eager foragers scrabbling around in the brambles. Local children have been collecting the plump berries and we’re thrilled to buy them both for the Cookery School and the restaurant. There are a million delicious ways to use them. We all know that blackberry and Bramley apple is a winning combination on their own but add a few leaves of rose geranium and you have something sublime.

Earlier this year, 15 year old Simon Meehan from Ballincollig was declared Young Scientist of the Year for his discovery that blackberries contain a non-toxic, organic, original antibiotic which is effective in killing Staphylococcus aureus, a bug that infects humans and is increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment especially when it comes in the form of the common hospital acquired infection MRSA. So gorge yourself on blackberries while they last, they also contain loads of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, magnesium and calcium.

My youngest grandchild Jago, (2 years old), can’t get enough of them, he’s like a kid in a candy shop gobbling them up like smarties off the blackberry bushes, ignoring the prickles in an effort to reach every last one.

Maria Walsh’s Blackberry Tincture

Blackberries are a rich source of antioxidants. Tinctures are easy and convenient to use.


recycle an old jam jar – 290ml

Three quarter fill the jar with  wild blackberries, picked on a dry day.

Cover the berries with alcohol – vodka or brandy. For a non-alcoholic version use apple cider vinegar or kombucha vinegar.

Place the tincture in a dark cupboard.  Shake the jar once a day and leave for 6-8 weeks.

When ready, one could take a teaspoon every day or add to water, jazz up cocktails or add to water kefir.


Wild Mushroom a la Crème on toast

Mushroom à la crème is a fantastic all-purpose recipe, and if you’ve got a surplus of wild mushrooms, use those instead of cultivated ones. You can even use dried mushrooms. Mushroom à la crème keeps well in the fridge for 4–5 days and freezes perfectly.



Serves 8


50g (2oz) butter

175g (6oz) onion, finely chopped

450g (1lb) wild mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, ceps, false chanterelles or the common field mushroom), sliced

salt and freshly ground pepper

good squeeze of lemon juice

225ml (8fl oz) cream

freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)



Melt half the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the chopped onion, cover and sweat over a gentle heat for 5–10 minutes or until quite soft but not coloured; remove the onions to a bowl.


Meanwhile cook the sliced mushrooms in a hot frying pan in the remaining butter, in batches if necessary. Season each batch with salt, freshly ground pepper and a

tiny squeeze of lemon juice. Add the mushrooms to the onions in the saucepan, then add the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, and add the chopped herbs.


Toast or pan-grill the bread and pile the hot creamy mushroom mixture on top.

Enjoy immediately.



Grandpoppy’s Mushroom Ketchup


It only makes sense to make mushroom ketchup on the rare years when there’s a glut of wild mushrooms in the fields. This is becoming less and less common because of the level of pesticides used in conventional farming. Occasionally, though, when the weather at the end of the summer is warm and humid as it was this year, we get a flush of mushrooms, and we can’t bear to waste any of them. make a supply of mushroom ketchup, which keeps for years. You can dash it into game, beef, lamb and chicken stews and casseroles, shepherd’s pie, or just use it as you would soy sauce.


as many wild field mushrooms as you can gather



For each 1.2 litres (2 pints) of ketchup, use:

10g (1⁄2oz) whole peppercorns

7g (1⁄2oz) whole ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon mace

50ml (2fl oz) whiskey or, if you prefer, omit the whiskey and add 1 tablespoon of best brandy to each bottle before sealing


Put the mushrooms into a large basin. Sprinkle salt between each layer to extract juice. Steep for 24 hours, occasionally stirring and breaking the mushrooms. Allow to stand for a further 12 hours to settle the sediment.


Pour into another vessel, leaving behind the sediment. Measure, strain and to every 1.2 litres (2 pints) of ketchup add the above ingredients. Bottle and seal.


Mushroom ketchup keeps for years: I have some that is over 5 years old and is still perfect. The steeped mushrooms themselves can be composted or fed to the hens.



Wild Mushroom and Thyme Leaf Tart


Serves 6


A really flavoursome tart, one of the few that tastes super warm or cold. Use cream! Both the flavour and texture are quite different if you substitute milk. Flat cultivated mushrooms also work well when field mushrooms are not available


Rich Shortcrust Pastry

110g (4oz) plain white flour

50-75g (2-3oz) butter

water to bind or a mixture of water and beaten egg


225g (8oz) wild mushrooms, flats if possible

15g (½ oz) butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

225ml (8fl oz) cream

2 eggs and 1 egg yolk, free range if possible

50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese or preferably Parmigiano Reggiano

flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

a good pinch of cayenne


1 x 7 inch (18cm) flan ring or tin with pop up base (low sided)


Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way.


Sieve the flour, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop. Whisk the egg or egg yolk and add some water. Take a fork or knife, (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult -to-handle pastry will give a crispier shorter crust.


Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.


Allow to rest, line the flan ring and bake blind for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile chop the mushrooms finely, melt the butter, add the oil and fry the mushrooms on a very high heat. Add thyme leaves and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook until all the juice has evaporated and then allow to cool.


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.


Whisk the cream in a bowl with the eggs and the extra egg yolk, stir in the cool mushrooms and the Parmesan cheese. Taste, add the pinch of cayenne and more seasoning if necessary. Pour into the pre-baked pastry case.


Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the filling is set and the top delicately brown.


Serve with a good green salad


Note: Tiny mushroom quiches may be served straight from the oven as appetisers before dinner or for a drinks party.




Apple, Sloe and Sweet Geranium Jelly


This apple jelly recipe is the most brilliant mother recipe to add all sorts of flavours. If you have lots of sloes increase the quantity to half apples and sloes. Serve on scones, with game, pork, duck or guinea fowl.


Makes 6-7 pots


2.2kg crab apples or Bramley Seedlings

450g sloes

2.7 litres water

6-8 large sweet geranium leaves (Pelargonium Graveolens)

plus extra as needed.

2 lemons, unwaxed organic



Wash the apples and cut into quarters, no need to peel or core.  Windfalls may be used, but make sure to cut out the bruised parts.   Put the apples in a large saucepan with the sloes and geranium leaves, the water and the thinly pared rind of the lemons, cook until the apples and sloes dissolve into a ‘mush’, approx. 2 hours.

Turn the pulp into a jelly bag and allow to drip until all the juice has been extracted – usually overnight.  Measure the juice into a preserving pan, allow 450g sugar to each 600ml of juice.   Heat the sugar in a moderate oven 180C/Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes. Squeeze the lemons, strain the juice and add to the preserving pan, add a few more geranium leaves if the flavour is still very mild.   Bring to the boil and add the sugar.   Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved.   Increase the heat and boil rapidly without stirring for about 8-10 minutes.  Remove the geranium leaves.   Skim, test and then pour the jelly into sterilized jars, put a sweet geranium leaf in each jar.  Cover and seal immediately.




Blackberry and Lime Scones


For lime scones, just roll out the dough to 1 inch (2.5cm) thick and stamp or cut into scones and dip the egg – washed tops in lime sugar.


Makes 18-20 scones, using a 3 inch (71/2 cm) cutter


2lb (900g) plain white flour

6oz (175g) butter

pinch of salt

2oz (50g) castor sugar

3 heaped teaspoons baking powder

3 free-range eggs

15fl oz (450ml/) approx. full cream milk to mix (not low fat milk)


egg wash


Lime Sugar

2oz (50g) granulated or Demerara sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon lime zest for the top of scones


Lime Butter

150g (5oz) butter

250g (9oz) pale brown sugar

2 teaspoons lime zest


Preheat the oven 250ºC/475ºF/Gas Mark 9.


First make the Lime Butter.

Cream the butter, sugar and lime zest together and beat until light and fluffy.


Sieve the flour into a large wide bowl, add a pinch of salt, the baking powder and castor sugar.  Mix the dry ingredients with your hands, lift up to incorporate air and mix thoroughly.


Cut the butter into cubes, toss well in the flour and then with the tips of your fingers, rub in the butter until it resembles large flakes.  Make a well in the centre.  Whisk the eggs with the milk, pour all at once into the centre.  With the fingers of your ‘best

hand’ outstretched and stiff, mix in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl.  This takes just seconds and hey presto, the scone dough is made.  Sprinkle some flour on the work surface.  Turn out the dough onto the floured board.  Scrape the dough off your fingers and wash and dry your hands at this point.  Tidy around the edges, flip over and roll or pat gently into a rectangle about 3/4 inch (2cm) thick.


Spread the soft lime butter over the surface. Roll up lengthwise and cut into pieces about 2 inches (5cm) thick.


Brush the tops with egg wash (see below) and dip the tops only in lime sugar.  Put onto a baking sheet fairly close together.


Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on top.


Egg Wash

Whisk one egg thoroughly with about a dessertspoon of milk.  This is brushed over the scones to help them brown in the oven.



Darina Allen Simply Delicious The Classic Collection


Darina Allen Simply Delicious The Classic Collection has just landed on my desk and I couldn’t be more excited – 29 years after the original little paperback was published to accompany the television series of the same name- I had red glasses and brown hair at that time and little did I know how Simply Delicious would change the course of the rest of my life.

It was terribly scary making the programmes, I had never seen a TV camera and had no idea how to go about it at first. I almost didn’t….. I was so scared it would be a complete flop and sure I’d make a total fool of myself. I tossed the idea backwards and forwards in my head, a mixture of apprehension and excitement. After much toing and froing I decided it would be easier to live with the series not being a huge success than with the eternal question of ‘What if…..?’

After the first few programmes people poured into local bookshops to buy the little 78 page Simply Delicious paperback. For many, it was the first cookbook they ever owned, the recipes well-tested for the Ballymaloe Cookery School worked, so as the Gill & Macmillan representative put it one night after a book signing, the book was selling in ‘telephone numbers’ and shops quickly ran out of copies. It went into a second printing immediately and there was a paper shortage, so for several of the eight weeks the programme was on air there was hardly a copy of Simply Delicious to be had in the country. Furthermore, the success was fuelled by another unlikely element. RTE didn’t anticipate the appeal of this new cookery series and ran it opposite Coronation Street. This was at a time when most houses would have been proud to own just one television and long before any form of playback, so there was many a family ‘fracas’ about which programme to watch. Viewers wrote to RTE and rang into chat shows to complain that it was causing ‘strife’ within the family. The repeat was rescheduled…

Simply Delicious went on to make Irish publishing history, topping the best sellers for months in a row and selling more copies than any previously published cookbook in Ireland: 115,000 copies in the first year of publication.


I’ve often been told that ‘dog-eared’ copies of these books are treasured possessions in many households and have in many cases been passed on to the next generation.


The Simply Delicious books have been out of print for many years but people regularly ask where they can find a copy of one or another, so this edition is especially for you. I’m delighted to be republishing this collection of 100 classic recipes from Simply Delicious I and 2 and Simply Delicious Vegetables. Choosing the recipes was a fascinating experience, so many have stood the test of time and are still perennial favourites. Some we have tweaked over the past 30 years or added more contemporary garnishes or complementary spices as the range of ingredients available has expanded considerably in the time since the recipes were first published.


People regularly complain that a friend borrowed their copy of Simply Delicious and didn’t return it. Others bring me well worn, gravy splashed copies for signing that are obviously well used and loved.

Many of our happiest childhood memories are connected to food. I hope you will enjoy this selection of recipes. For me it’s such a joy to know that for many, these simply delicious dishes have become treasured favourites to share with family and friends around the table. And I’m hoping that many of these time-honoured recipes will still be relished and enjoyed in 30 years’ time…

A Warm Salad with Irish Blue Cheese


Some ripe, crumbly Cashel Blue cheese now made by Jane and Louis Grubb’s daughter Sarah would be wonderful for this salad.  A few little cubes of ripe pear are of course delicious here too.  We also love their Crozier Blue cheese.


Serves 4


A selection of organic salad leaves, eg watercress, radicchio, endive, rocket, oakleaf and butterhead

12 round croutons, 1/4inch (5mm) thick, cut form a thin French stick.

45g soft butter

A clove of garlic, peeled

140g smoked streaky bacon, cut into 5mm lardons

50g Irish farmhouse blue cheese


Vinaigrette Dressing

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon arachide or sunflower oil

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoon chopped chervil and 2 teaspoon chopped tarragon  or

4 teaspoon chopped parsley




1 heaped tablespoon of chervil sprigs or freshly chopped parsley


Whisk together the ingredients for the Vinaigrette Dressing.

Wash and dry the mixture of lettuces and salad leaves and tear into bite-sized pieces.

Spread both sides of the rounds of bread with softened butter.  Put onto a baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven, 180˚C/Gas Mark 4, until golden and crisp on both sides, 20 minutes approx.  Rub them with a clove of garlic and keep hot in a low oven with the door slightly open.

Blanch and refresh the bacon, dry well on kitchen paper.

Just before serving, sauté the bacon dice in a little extra virgin olive oil until golden.

To serve:

Dress the lettuces with some vinaigrette in a salad bowl.  Use just enough to make the leaves glisten. Crumble the cheese with a fork and add it to the salad, tossing them well together.  Divide between 4 plates.  Scatter the hot crispy bacon over the top, put 3 warm croutons on each plate and sprinkle sprigs of chervil or chopped parsley over the salad. Serve immediately.




Ballycotton Fish Pie


How fortunate are we to live close to the little fishing village of Ballycotton in East Cork.  Everyone loves fish pie, the combination depends on the fish catch. Omit mussels and shrimps if they are not available.



Serves 6–8


1.1kg (2½lb) cod, hake, haddock
or grey sea mullet fillets or a mixture

salt and freshly ground pepper

15g (½oz) butter

600ml (1 pint) milk

110g (4oz) cooked mussels, out of shells

110g (4oz) cooked and peeled shrimps

55g (2oz) roux, approx.

¼ teaspoon mustard, preferably Dijon

140–170g (5–6oz) grated Irish Cheddar cheese or 85g (3oz) grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

800g (1lb 2oz) fluffy mashed potato or champ (optional)



30g (1oz) butter

55g (2oz) soft white breadcrumbs


Skin the fish and cut into portions: 170g (6oz) for a main course, 85g (3oz) for a starter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay the pieces of fish in a lightly buttered sauté pan and cover with the cold milk. Bring to the boil, simmer for 4–5 minutes, or until the fish has changed colour. Remove the fish to a serving dish or dishes with a perforated spoon. Scatter the mussels and shrimps over the top.


Bring the milk back to the boil and thicken with roux to a light coating consistency. Add the mustard, two-thirds of the grated cheese and a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley. Keep the remainder of the cheese for sprinkling over the top. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.


Next make the breadcrumbs. Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. Remove from the heat immediately and allow to cool.


Coat the fish with the sauce. Mix the remaining grated cheese with the buttered crumbs and sprinkle over the top. Pipe a ruff of fluffy mashed potato or champ around the edge for a more substantial dish.


Cook in a preheated moderate oven (180°C/350°F/gas mark 4) for 15–20 minutes or until heated through and the top is golden brown and crispy. If necessary, place under the grill for a minute or two before you serve, to brown the edge of the potato.


Note: This dish may be served in individual dishes: scallop shells are particularly attractive, are completely ovenproof and may be used over and over again.




Chocolate Meringue Gateau

Serves 6


This recipe makes two layers of meringue but you can double the ingredients for a celebration cake or make individual little meringues.


2 egg whites

125 g (4½oz) icing sugar

2 rounded teaspoons cocoa powder, (we use Valrhona)


Chocolate and Rum Cream

30 g (1 oz) best quality dark chocolate

15 g (½ oz) unsweetened chocolate

1 tablespoon Jamaican rum

1 tablespoon cream

300 ml (½ pint) softly whipped cream


Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/regulo 2


Mark two 7½ inches (19 cm) circles on parchment paper.


Check that the bowl is dry, spotlessly clean and free of grease.  Put the egg whites into the bowl and add 110g (4oz) icing sugar all at once; whisk until the mixture forms stiff, dry peaks, 10 minutes approx.  Sieve together the cocoa and the remaining 15 g (½ oz) icing sugar and fold in very gently.  Spread and bake immediately in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until just crisp.  Allow to get completely cold then peel off the paper.

Meanwhile, very gently melt the chocolate with the rum, and 1 tablespoon of cream in a very cool oven, or in a bowl over simmering water.  Cool and add 2 tablespoon of cream into the chocolate. Mix well, then fold that into the remaining softly whipped cream to avoid a blockage; don’t stir too much or it may curdle.

Sandwich the two meringue discs together with Chocolate and Rum Cream and decorate with chocolate wafers.



Chocolate Wafers

55 g (2 ozs) best quality dark chocolate


Meanwhile make the chocolate wafers.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl over barely simmering water.  Stir until quite smooth.  Spread on a flan piece of heavy, white notepaper or light card.  Put into a cold place until stiff enough to cut in square or diamond shapes.


Good to know

The chocolate and rum cream can be tricky to make so stir well with the rum and cream, cool a little and fold in the softly whipped cream.



Lemon Fluff with Limoncello Cream


Serves 4-6


This is a gorgeous old-fashioned family pudding which separates into two quite distinct layers when it cooks; it has a fluffy top and a creamy lemon base, provided it is not overcooked.


40g (1½oz) butter

225g (8oz) castor sugar

3 organic free range eggs

75g (3oz/) plain flour

2 organic, unwaxed lemons

300ml (10fl oz) whole milk


icing sugar


To Serve

300ml softly whipped cream flavoured with Limoncello or crème fraiche


1 x 1.2L (2 pint) pie dish

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4,


Cream the butter until really soft, then add the castor sugar and beat well.

Separate the egg yolks and add whisk in one by one, then stir in the flour. Grate the rind of 2 lemons on the finest part of the grater. Squeeze and strain the juice and add the rind and the juice, then add the milk.


Whisk the egg whites stiffly in a bowl and fold gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into the pie dish, place in a bain-marie and bake in a moderate oven, 180ºC/Gas Mark 4,for 35-40 minutes approx.

Dredge with icing sugar.


Serve immediately alongside the softly whipped cream flavoured to taste with Limoncello, or some crème fraîche.



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