ArchiveNovember 2022

Comforting Soups

It’s a soupy kind of day…I’m sitting by the fire listening to the horizontal rain pattering against the windowpane.  I’ve totally abandoned my plans for the afternoon…and I’ve decided to make a big pot of comforting soup instead.  Don’t we all love soup, I always have a few containers in the freezer – 2 portion pots that can be defrosted in just a few minutes in any emergency – a virtual hug in a bowl…

Everything from ‘chicken soup for the soul’ to Laksa, that Asian noodle soup you never knew you loved until you tasted it.   Slurpy noodles are super comforting too as is a ricey broth.  Just did a bit of research with Cully and Sully soups to check out what were their bestselling flavours – chicken and vegetable by a long mile, then vegetable soup followed closely by tomato – how perfect do they sound on a wet Sunday afternoon or evening after a stressful day at work…

To make really flavourful soup, you’re going to need good stock – chicken stock is my favourite  for making soups and broths but vegetarians and vegans will need to have a supply of rich vegetable stock.  Fresh ginger and lots of fresh herbs help to boost the flavour and if all else fails, there’s water but it’s difficult to compensate for the lack of a good base.  Nonetheless, Japanese dashi which forms the base of miso soup is really easy to make and accentuates the savoury umami flavour in many dishes.  Years ago when I first cooked in the kitchen at Ballymaloe House, Myrtle Allen showed me this brilliant formula used to make many of the delicious soups on the menu:

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped potatoes

3 cups of any vegetable of your choice or a mixture e.g. carrot, carrot, parsnip and celeriac…pea, bean and courgette…

5 cups stock or 4 stock + 1 cup creamy milk

This formula works brilliantly for a myriad of soups.  We’re in the midst of the root vegetable season now – Jerusalem artichokes are just coming on stream but it’s also great for greens – kale, chard, spinach, watercress, even the often-overlooked cabbage which makes one of my favourite soups of all.  These soups can be puréed or served in their brothy state, scattered with some freshly chopped herbs for extra zing. 

I also love to add a variety of seedy drizzles, a herb and chilli oil adds extra oomph and how about some tahini with sunflower, pumpkin and sesame on a squash soup to add a delicious cheffy touch. 

Soups provide the opportunity to be endlessly creative with ingredients you have close to hand, something to suit your every mood, light broths, purées, chunky vegetable soups, Asian, Mexican, Mediterranean.  Every country has its soup, enough to fill endless volumes.  But best of all in these challenging times – delicious, nourishing, wholesome soups can be made with a few inexpensive ingredients in minutes.  Involve the kids and turn up the music, get them chopping and having fun and then tuck into big bowls of delicious soup around the kitchen table.

Homemade Chicken Stock

This recipe is just a guideline. If you have just one carcass and can’t be bothered to make a small quantity of stock, why not freeze the carcass and save it up until you have six or seven carcasses and giblets, then you can make a really good-sized pot of stock and get the best value for your fuel.

Stock will keep for several days in the refrigerator. If you want to keep it for longer, boil it up again for 5 – 6 minutes every couple of days; allow it to get cold and refrigerate again. Stock also freezes perfectly. For cheap containers, use large yogurt cartons or plastic milk bottles, then you can cut them away from the frozen stock without a conscience if you need to defrost it in a hurry!

Makes about 3.5 litres (6 pints)

2–3 raw or cooked chicken carcasses or a mixture of both giblets from the chicken (neck, heart, gizzard – save the liver for a different dish)

1 onion, sliced

1 leek, split in two

2 outside celery stalks or 2 lovage leaves

1 carrot, cut into chunks

a few parsley stalks

sprig of thyme

6 peppercorns

Chop up the carcasses as much as possible. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cover with about 3.4 litres (7 pints) cold water. Bring to the boil. Skim the fat off the top with a tablespoon. Simmer very gently for 3–4 hours. Strain and remove any remaining fat. Do not add salt.

Homemade Tomato and Basil Soup

The simplest and most delicious tomato soup of all, the cream softens the soup and helps to absorb all the nutrients from the tomato.

Serves 8

25g (1oz) butter

175g (6oz) onion, diced

1.2 litres (2 pints) puréed tinned tomato (3 X 400g/14oz tins)

425 – 600ml (15fl oz – 1 pint) homemade chicken stock

small fistful fresh basil leaves

salt, freshly ground black pepper and sugar

300 – 425ml (10 – 15fl oz) cream

5 fresh basil leaves

Melt the butter and sweat the onion until soft. Add the tomato purée, stock, and a small fistful of basil leaves. Season well with salt, pepper and lots of sugar. Simmer for five minutes. Add cream and simmer for two minutes. Liquidise until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning and check consistency. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Savoy Cabbage Soup

Crispy seaweed can be fun to serve with this soup but in many ways it’s also perfect unadorned.

Serves 6

50g (2oz) butter

150g (5oz) peeled and chopped potatoes, one third inch dice

110g (4oz) peeled diced onions, one third inch dice

salt and freshly ground pepper

1.2 litres (scant 2 pints) light chicken stock or vegetable stock

250g (9oz) chopped Savoy cabbage leaves (stalks removed)

50 – 100ml (2 – 3 1/2fl oz) cream or creamy milk

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions, and turn them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Add the stock and boil until the potatoes are soft, then add the cabbage and cook with the lid off until the cabbage is cooked. Keep the lid off to retain the green colour. Do not overcook or the vegetables will lose both their fresh flavour and colour.  Puree the soup in a liquidiser or blender, taste and adjust seasoning. Add the cream or creamy milk before serving.

Useful tip: If this soup is to be reheated, just bring it to the boil and serve. Prolonged boiling spoils the colour and flavour of green soups.


Cabbage and Caraway Soup

Add 1 –2 teaspoons of freshly crushed caraway to the potato and onion base.

Crispy Cabbage aka Crispy Seaweed

A bit confusing but this is what Chinese restaurants serve as ‘crispy seaweed’.

Savoy cabbage



oil for frying

Remove the outer leaves from the cabbage, remove the stalks, roll the dry leaves into a cigar shape and slice into the thinnest possible shreds with a very sharp knife. 

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 180˚C/350˚F. Toss in some cabbage and cook for just a few seconds.  As soon as it starts to crisp, remove and drain on kitchen paper.  Sprinkle with salt and sugar.  Toss and serve as a garnish on Cabbage Soup or just nibble, it’s quite addictive – worse than peanuts or popcorn!

Chicken and Coconut Soup

Please, please make this soup – another really quick super, tasty soup.  All these ingredients can be easily found in Asian shops on most supermarket shelves and keep well in your pantry. 

Serves 4

900ml (1 1/2 pints) homemade chicken stock

1 x 400g (14oz) can coconut milk

8 thin slices of fresh ginger or galangal

2 lemongrass stalks

1 tablespoon red curry paste (we use Mae Ploy)

1 – 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2  onion (50g/2oz), thinly sliced

225g (8oz) crimini or brown mushrooms, thinly sliced and slivered if larger

5 tablespoons fish sauce

225g (8oz) chicken breast, very thinly sliced

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 limes, juiced (at least 50ml/2fl oz or more to taste)

1 tablespoon grated lime zest

20g (3/4oz) fresh basil leaves (use Thai basil if available)

110 – 225g (4 – 8oz) cooked white rice (optional)

To Serve

fresh basil leaves

Remove the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass, use only the pale tender portion, chop into 5cm (2 inch pieces) and slightly crush with the back of a knife.

Place the chicken stock, coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, curry paste, sugar and sliced onion in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add the mushroom and fish sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 4 minutes.

Add the shredded chicken, salt, lime juice, lime zest and basil.  Simmer for about 3 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through and changed from translucent to opaque – taste and add the rice if using.

Serve soup with a few fresh basil leaves.

Italian Sausage Soup with Kale

A gorgeous chunky soup – a meal in a bowl.

If you can buy fresh tortellini and Italian fennel sausages, this comes together in minutes but even with fresh mince, it’s very quick to make.

450g (1lb) mild Italian sausages

OR homemade sausages meat made from:

450g (1lb) pork mince

fennel seeds, roasted lightly and crushed

2 tablespoons fresh herbs, parsley, thyme, rosemary, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes

1 – 2 tablespoons tomato purée

900ml (1 1/2 pints) chicken stock

1/4 teaspoonred pepper flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

freshly ground pepper and sugar

1 x 300g (10oz) bag tortellini, fresh (not dried)

110 – 175g (4 – 6oz) kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped

225ml (8fl oz) heavy cream

To Serve

Parmesan cheese (optional)

If you can’t source Italian sausage.

Mix the pork mince, spices and herbs for the sausage together and season well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat.

Add the sausage meat, chopped onions and crushed garlic and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, chicken stock and red pepper flakes if desired.  Stir and bring to a boil, season well with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a good pinch of sugar, simmer for 12 – 15 minutes.

Add the tortellini and coarsely chopped kale and bring to the boil.  Pour in the cream.  Simmer for 3 – 5 minutes until the kale is wilted and the pasta is tender.

Serve with lots of Parmesan cheese.

GIY Diaries and Bake Cookbook

A new name has just burst into the Irish cookbook scene – a larger than life character known to many as the ‘cupcake bloke’ from his bakery in Dublin’s Rialto. I heard him speak for the first time recently at Food On The Edge and was enchanted by his enthusiasm for baking. He charmed the audience of top chefs and food writers from around the world with stories of learning how to bake at home from his Granny Flynn, Mammy, aunts and neighbours, all of whom love to bake and share.

Graham Herterich was brought up over his family’s butcher shop in Athy, Co. Kildare. Originally, he thought of following in the family tradition but then went on to study Culinary Arts at WIT in Waterford, spent several stints and ‘stages’ in many top restaurant kitchens and two years with a Carmelite Community. Although he greatly enjoyed the experience, Graham decided that religious life was not for him and after a period of travel and a spell in product development and food production, he decided with encouragement from friends and mentors to open his own business in 2018… 

The bakery in Rialto quickly became a much-loved part of the community. Graham specialises in taking classic Irish recipes, like soda bread, tarts, porter cake, barmbrack…and gives them a modern twist – how about panch phoran soda bread, West Indies porter cake or barmbrack with many toppings and flavoured butters. In his new book, ‘Bake’, every traditional Irish recipe is followed by a modern interpretation. I love how he evokes memories of our favourite bikkies – remember Mikado, bourbons, lemon puffs and had a Retro Biscuit League to discover his customers’ favourites. You’ll have fun with ‘Bake’, a perfect presume to get all your pals baking.

Michael Kelly of GIY on the other hand is very well known and much admired for the ground-breaking work he and his ace team have done and continue to do… 
Michael, charismatic founder in 2008 of GIY (Grow It Yourself), the social enterprise that encourages and teaches people to grow their own nutritious vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs. Well known to millions through his prime-time TV series and Amazon Prime, Michael and his team have taken the mystery out of starting a vegetable patch and shown us all the magic of sowing a seed and watching it grow into something delicious to eat.

For the wannabe gardeners in your life, seek out Michael’s latest book ‘The GIY Diaries – A Year of Growing and Cooking’ Michael’s passion for teaching leaps off every page as do Sarah Kilcoyne’s illustrations.

He shares his deep knowledge and experience in day by day lessons and encourages all of us to experience the joy of growing and the satisfaction of becoming at least somewhat self-sufficient.
Lots of brilliant practical suggestions on how we can do our bit to combat climate change, biodiversity loss, food security concerns and the rapidly rising cost of living.
Every month there are recipes to make the most of your seasonal harvest, how to use every scrap, store and preserve a glut…
So many practical tips to empower you to join the Grow-It-Yourself food revolution.

‘The GIY Diaries – A Year of Growing and Cooking’ by Michael Kelly published by Gill Books

‘Bake – Traditional Irish Baking with Modern Twists’ by Graham Herterich published by Nine Bean Rows

Graham Herterich’s Mammy Buns

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always referred to buns as ‘mammy buns’. That what our mammy made and if you went to a friend’s house as a kid and there were buns, you could be assured they were made by their mammy.

Makes 12 large cupcakes or 24 small traditional buns

165g (5 1/2oz) butter, very soft
165g (5 1/2oz) caster sugar
165g (5 1/2oz) self-raising flour
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To decorate (choose one):
jam and desiccated coconut
jam and buttercream frosting or whipped cream
buttercream frosting and sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan.
Like your cupcake or bun trays with paper cases (12 cupcake cases or 24 smaller bun cases).

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined, fluffy batter. This will take a minute or two.

Divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes for the larger cupcakes or 14-16 minutes for the smaller buns, until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely, then decorate as desired.

1. Spread a little jam across the top of each bun and roll in desiccated coconut.

2. Cut the top off each bun. Decorate with a little jam and frosting or freshly whipped cream. Cut the top in half and place back on the bun to look like butterfly wings.

3. Pipe on some buttercream frosting and decorate with sprinkles.

Buttercream Frosting
This is a simple frosting that’s perfect for decorating these buns. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, start on a slow speed (or you’ll have a big mess!) and beat 150g (5oz) very soft butter with 300g (10oz) icing sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Continue to beat for about 5 minutes, adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of milk if you would like to make the frosting a little softer.

Graham Herterich’s Tahini and Black Sesame Cupcakes

‘A lot of people know me as The Cupcake Bloke, the name of the business I started with my husband in 2012, so I couldn’t write this book without including at least one cupcake.’

Makes 12

165g (5 1/2oz) self-raising flour
165g (5 1/2oz) caster sugar
115g (scant 4 1/4oz) butter, very soft
50g (2oz) tahini
3 medium eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, plus extra to decorate (see note)

100g (3 1/2oz) butter, softened
50g (2oz) tahini
300g (10oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan.
Line your cupcake tray with paper cases.

Put all the ingredients except the black sesame seeds in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined, fluffy batter. This will take a minute or two. Gently fold in the black sesame seeds.

Divide the batter between the paper cases. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

To make the frosting, using an electric mixer or the stand mixer again, mix the softened butter with the tahini and icing sugar, starting slowly or you’ll have a big mess! Continue to whisk for about 5 minutes, adding a little milk if you would like to make the frosting a little softer.

Using either a piping bag, a palette knife or a spoon, divide the frosting between the cupcakes. To decorate, sprinkle with more black sesame seeds.

You can get black sesame seeds from Asian food shops.

Graham Herterich’s Pork and Fennel Rolls with Fennel and Apple Slaw

I adore the sweet, mild aniseed flavour that comes from fennel. It works really well in both sweet and savoury dishes, and pork with a mix of fresh fennel bulb and fennel seeds is a great combination.

Makes 6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
25g (1oz) butter
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced (keep any green fronds)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed, plus extra for sprinkling on top
600g (1lb 5oz) pork mince or sausage meat (I like to use a mix of both)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
plain flour, for dusting
1 medium egg, beaten

For the fennel and apple slaw:
6 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (keep any green fronds)
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into thin strips

Preheat the oven to 180˚C fan.
Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the sliced fennel bulb and cook for a further 10 minutes, adding the crushed fennel seeds just before you take the pan off the heat. Allow to cool.

Put the pork mince and/or sausage meat in a bowl (first removing the skins if using whole sausages) along with the cooled onion and fennel. Season with a little salt and pepper and mix well by hand.

Unroll the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut it lengthways into two long, even rectangles.

Divide the sausage filling in two. Roll half of the filling into a long sausage shape with your hands along the centre of each rectangle.

Brush the pastry on one side of the filling with the beaten egg, then fold the other side of the pastry over the filling, wrapping it inside. Turn so that the seal is on the bottom of the sausage roll. Cut each long roll into three and space them out on the lined baking trays.

Brush the top of each roll with the beaten egg and sprinkle on some extra fennel seeds. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until puffed up, golden and cooked through.

To make the slaw.

Mix the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice together in a large bowl, then season with salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Add the sliced fennel bulb, apple and any green fennel fronds and stir them into the sauce until evenly coated.

Serve the warm sausage rolls with the slaw on the side.

Michael Kelly’s Raw Kale Salad

This recipe will open your eyes to the potential of kale for salads. Massaging the kale with lemon juice and salt in effect cooks it and makes it far more palatable while retaining its nutrients. I was sceptical about the culinary merits of a kale salad until I tasted this – it’s delicious. It will keep for three days in the fridge.

Serves 4

250g (9oz) kale
juice of 1 lemon
2-3 pinches of salt
olive oil
1 small red onion, finely sliced
25g (1oz) dried cranberries, finely chopped
50g (2oz) cashew nuts, roasted and chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, finely chopped

Remove the stalks from the kale and chop the leaves into fine strips. Place in a large bowl with the lemon juice and salt until it starts to soften a little. Sprinkle with olive oil and leave it to sit for another 10 minutes. Add the red onion, cranberries, cashew nuts and celery and mix well. Later in the year you could add some cherry tomatoes or cucumber to this salad.

Michael Kelly’s Sausage and Beer Stew

So many of my recipes at this time of the year focus on the available root crops that I have either in the ground or in storage, such as carrots, parsnips, celeriac and beets. Don’t worry too much about sticking to the veg ingredients too rigidly – you could use celery instead of celeriac, swede instead of squash, etc.

Serves 4

olive oil
6-8 good-quality dinner sausages
2 onions, diced
1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1/2 celeriac, diced
1 x 330ml (11fl oz) bottle of beer
500ml (18fl oz) beef or chicken stock
400g (14oz) tin of tomatoes or 2 tablespoons tomato purée
2 tablespoons chopped herbs (parsley, rosemary and thyme)
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon mustard (I use Dijon)
1/4 squash or pumpkin, peeled and chopped into large chunks
salt and pepper

crusty bread or baked potatoes, to serve

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Cut the sausages into chunks and fry them for a minute or so on each side, until browned. In the same frying pan, fry the onions, leek, garlic, carrots and celeriac on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes, until soft. Transfer to a heavy saucepan or casserole.

Pour the bottle of beer into the frying pan to deglaze the pan, scraping any nice brown bits off the pan with a wooden spatula. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce down a little. Add it to the veg with the stock, tomatoes, herbs, bay leaf and mustard. Bring to the boil and then add the squash or pumpkin. Cook for 15 minutes with the lid on.

Add the sausages to the saucepan and cook for another 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Check the consistency – leave to simmer for another 10 minutes if it needs to be thickened or add a little boiling water if it’s too thick.

Serve with crusty bread or baked potatoes.


What is the world coming to…

It takes real courage to turn on the news these days – one crisis after another, the war in Ukraine shows little sign of abating, global warming, then there’s the escalating cost of living and energy crisis, biodiversity loss, food security issues, diminishing fertility of the soil resulting in the dramatic drop in nutrient density of foods..

In the midst of all of this, the farming community who feed us are also in turmoil – confusion reigns… 

I’m still reeling from the publication of the recent study conducted by UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science which found that one in every four Irish farmers are considered to be ‘at risk of suicide’ while over 50% experienced ‘moderate to extreme depression.  The key triggers appear to be Government policies to reduce climate change, concern about the economics and future of the farm, constant criticism from outsiders with little understanding of farming and the ever-increasing raft of new regulations and paperwork.

Farmers, having done exactly what they were advised to do for decades, now find themselves being lambasted by the press and they believe ‘unfairly’ blamed for disproportionately contributing to climate change despite the fact that the 2006 Livestock’s Long Shadow report which concluded that methane from cattle is the main problem has now been discredited.  However, it’s too late for many, the ‘genie’ is out of the ‘bottle’…The report was the main inspiration behind movements such as ‘Meatless Monday’.

The Government needs to be very conscious of farmers mental health when framing new legislation.  Despite the perception, the farming community in general is fully aware and anxious to implement measures to sequester carbon and reduce emissions.   They fully realise that ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option but they need support and knowledgeable advice to transition to regenerative farming, organic and biodynamic farming practices tick all the boxes.  A very difficult situation for all concerned.

Organic farmers are willing and happy to share their experience, more communication is needed between the sectors.  Resources need to be poured into research on organic farming production methods.  Heretofore, billions have been invested in research into intensive farming methods but little into non-chemical farming.  Costs of inputs for conventional farms – artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides have also skyrocketed adding to the challenge and despair of farmers. 

At the Farming for Nature Seminar and Awards held in Co. Clare recently.  Farmers were  not without their concerns but many with small holdings seemed happy and content with their lot, proud of their contribution to their natural environment, making a decent living producing nourishing wholesome food for their community.  Many were selling at least a portion of their produce direct online via box schemes, Farm Shops or at Farmers’ Markets adding to the viability of the farm.

Every one of our actions has environmental consequences, driving, flying, eating…so spare a thought for the farmers who are producing the food that sustains us.  Shop mindfully, support those who are farming sustainably and those who are in transition to regenerative farming.  It’s not an easy time for anyone but each and every one of us can do our little bit to ease the burden.

Now that the clocks have gone back, time for warming winter stews, casseroles and a big dish of roast Brambly apples. 

Pork and Green Tomato or Tomatillo Stew

Green tomatoes work brilliantly in this stew if you can’t find tomatillos.

It can be cooked ahead, refrigerated overnight and reheated gently. 

Serves 8 approx. 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

700g (1 1/2lbs) boneless pork shoulder or neck, cut into 3-inch chunks

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large celery sticks, finely diced

175g (6oz) red onion, finely diced

2 medium sized carrots (175g/6oz), peeled and chopped into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes

1 red chilli, seeded and finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons medium hot chilli powder

1 tablespoon roasted and ground cumin

1 tablespoon marjoram, chopped

450ml (16fl oz) homemade chicken stock

450g (1lb) potatoes, peeled and diced

1 x 400g (14oz) tin chopped tomatoes

450g (1lb) green tomatoes or tomatillos—husked, rinsed and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) dice

1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo, chopped

chopped coriander, for garnish

corn tortillas, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a medium casserole. Season the pork with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss the pork cubes in batches and cook over a high heat until browned all over.  Add the celery, onion and carrot and cook over a moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the diced chilli, garlic, chilli powder, cumin and marjoram.  Cook stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until both meat and potatoes are tender.  Add the chopped green tomatoes or tomatillos and chipotle en adobo. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is cooked through, 25 – 30 minutes.

Taste and correct the seasoning.  Ladle the stew into bowls.  Scatter with lots of coriander and serve with tortillas.

Ethiopian Spiced Lamb Stew – Awaze Tibs

Ethiopian food is becoming hugely popular.  We love this favourite Ethiopian home cooked stew.  

Made with tender, boneless shoulder of lamb, this quick-cooking

stew freezes and reheats perfectly.

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons red wine

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon berbere spice

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1.6kg (3 1/2lbs) boneless shoulder of lamb, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes

flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

50ml (2fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, halved and thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons, rosemary finely chopped

2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves

1/2 tin tomatoes (200g/7oz), diced

1 yellow pepper, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

Whisk the wine with the lemon juice, berbere, paprika and mustard in a small bowl.

Season the lamb with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the lamb in batches over a medium heat until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a casserole. Repeat with the remaining lamb.

Add the chopped onions, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bring to the boil and cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the lamb and any accumulated juices to the casserole along with the wine mixture, diced tomatoes, pepper, and shallot. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the pepper and tomatoes have softened and the lamb is just cooked through, about 30-40 minutes.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Serve with Injera or another flatbread, pitta, or naan.  Alternatively, serve with rice or potatoes.

Venison and Parsnip Stew

The flavour of this stew really improves if you cook it the day before and reheat it the next day – as well as improving the flavour, cooking the venison in advance ensures that it is meltingly tender. If ‘needs must’ and you are racing against the clock, just mix all the ingredients in the casserole, bring to the boil and simmer until cooked. Baked potatoes work brilliantly with venison stew, but a layer of potatoes on top provides a wonderfully comforting meal in one pot. Scatter lots of fresh parsley over the potatoes before tucking in.

Serves 8-12

1.3kg (3lbs) shoulder of venison, trimmed and cut into 4cm (1 1/2 inch) cubes

50g (2oz) plain flour, for dusting

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

225g (8oz) piece of fatty salted pork or green streaky bacon, cut into 4cm (1 1/2 inch) cubes

2 large onions, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

2 large parsnips, diced

1 large garlic clove, crushed

450ml (16fl oz) homemade beef stock

bouquet garni

8–12 medium potatoes, peeled (optional)

a squeeze of organic lemon juice

flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


300–350ml (10-12fl oz) gutsy red wine

1 medium onion, sliced

3 tablespoons brandy

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

bouquet garni

Horseradish Sauce (optional)

To Serve

lots of chopped flat-leaf parsley

green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, calabrese or cabbage

First marinate the meat. Season the cubes of venison with salt and pepper. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl, add the venison and set aside to marinate for at least 1 hour, or better still overnight.

Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

Drain the meat, reserving the marinade, and pat dry with kitchen paper. Tip the flour onto a plate and season well. Turn the cubes of venison in the seasoned flour to coat on all sides.

Heat the oil in a 25cm (10 inch)/3.2-litre (5 1/2 pints) casserole pan over a low heat, add the salted pork or bacon and cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring, until it starts to release its fat. Increase the heat to medium and fry the salted pork or bacon until golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the venison to the casserole in batches and fry over a medium heat until nicely coloured on all sides. Avoid the temptation to increase the temperature or the fat will burn. Remove and set the batch aside while you colour the rest.

Toss the vegetables in the casserole, stir in the garlic and then add the pork or bacon and venison.

Pour off any surplus fat from the casserole and remove the meat and veg and set aside. Deglaze the casserole by pouring in the strained marinade. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the crusty bits on the base, add the pork or bacon and vegetables back in.

Pour over enough stock to cover the meat and vegetables and put in the bouquet garni. Bring the casserole to a gentle simmer on the hob, then cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the casserole from the oven and cover the surface of the stew with the peeled whole medium potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the potatoes with a circle of greaseproof paper, and then the lid of saucepan. Return the casserole to the oven and cook for a further 1 hour or until both the venison and potatoes are cooked.

Season to taste. As well as adding salt and pepper, I find it often needs a bit of acidity in the form of lemon juice or crab apple jelly, if available.

Scatter with lots of freshly chopped parsley and serve with a nice big dish of Brussels sprouts, calabrese or cabbage and some homemade horseradish sauce.

Venison and Parsnip Pie

This makes a delicious pie. Fill the cooked stew into one or two pie dishes. Cover with a generous layer of mashed potato or puff pastry.

A Tray of Roast Apples

Don’t forget this simple recipe for a much-loved autumn or winter dessert – a great way to use up any last windfall cooking apples. I love to roast them in an enamel roasting tin. For a special dish, you could vary the fillings and allow your guests to select their favourite. Soft brown sugar and cream is a compulsory accompaniment. Nowadays, baked apples are often stuffed with ‘exciting’ mixtures which may include dried fruit, lemon rind, nuts and spices. This is nice occasionally, but my favourite is still the simple roast apple of my childhood. It’s important to note that the apples will cook much faster in the autumn than they will later on in the year, when they will have most probably come from a cold store.

Serves 9

9 large cooking apples, preferably Crimson Bramley

9 tablespoons granulated sugar

25g (1oz) butter

150ml (5fl oz) water

softly whipped cream and soft dark brown sugar, to serve

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

Core the apples and score the skin of each around the ‘equator’. Arrange the apples in a single layer in an ovenproof dish large enough to take the apples in a single layer, approx. 31 x 25 x 5cm (12.5 x 10 x 2 inch), and for the simplest but nonetheless totally delicious version, fill the centre of each one with 1 generously tablespoon sugar. Put a little dab of butter on top of each.

Pour a little water around the apples and roast in the oven for about 1 hour. They should be fluffy and burst slightly when they are fully cooked, but still be fat and puffy (not totally collapsed). Serve as soon as possible with softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar.


Roast Apples with Cinnamon Sugar

Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the granulated sugar.

Roast Apples with Sultanas and Hazelnuts

Add 1 scant teaspoon of sultanas and 1 teaspoon of coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts to the granulated sugar for each apple. Top each apple with a tiny blob of butter.

Marzipan Roast Apples

Fill the apple cavities with 225g (8oz) marzipan mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.

Roast Apples with Pedro Ximénez Raisins

Soak 110g (4oz) raisins in warm Pedro Ximénez sherry for at least 30 minutes, or better still overnight. Combine the raisins with 4 tablespoons of caster sugar and use to fill the apples. Top with butter and bake as above. Serve with 225ml (8fl oz) softly whipped cream mixed with 3 tablespoons of Pedro Ximénez.

Jeremy Lee’s ‘Cooking Simply and Well, For One or Many’

I love a long weekend in London, it’s so easy to pop over from Cork Airport, no queues, no hassle.  A chance to see a couple of exhibitions, maybe a play, stroll around several cool Farmers’ Markets and food shops, go to the theatre and do some yummy research on new openings and the current food scene.  I love to check out the latest restaurants and cafés but there’s one old favourite that I can’t resist returning to virtually every time I go to London – Quo Vadis in Dean Street in Soho.  I love Jeremy Lee’s food and always hope that this charismatic, bespectacled chef will come bouncing into the dining room with his usual exuberant welcome and generosity of spirit. 

Jeremy is one of those rare, seemingly egoless chefs whom everyone loves.  In Jay Rayners words, ‘one of those rare phenomena in the London food world – a chap everyone agrees is a good thing’.

He writes the menu every day.  At this time of the year, he cooks the sort of warm comforting food that we crave in Autumn and Winter, chunky soups, game pies, salad of bitter greens with perfectly ripe pears and chunks of Stichelton cheese….wild plums and caramelised apple tarts and when the weather get chillier, steamed puddings floating in homemade vanilla flecked custard with freshly churned ice cream and thick rich Jersey cream.  The dining room is small so you’ll need to book ahead…

His love for food was honed in the kitchen of his childhood in Dundee where both his Mum, a home economics teacher and his illustrator Dad loved to ‘read cook and eat’ and share good things around the table with family and friends. 

He came to London in the 1970’s when becoming a chef had little allure for middle class boys.  Back then the restaurant world was all about starched hats and Escoffier inspired hierarchical kitchens, but in the 80’s, interest in food gathered momentum, a whole new generation of great restaurants opened around the world.  Changes in produce and restaurant menus…cookbooks on every cuisine were rolling off the press.   He cooked with Simon Hopkinson at Bibendum, Alastair Little at Frith St, and manned the stoves at Boodles and the Blueprint Café.  In 2012 Jeremy joined forces with the Hart brothers, Sam and Eddie, the restaurateurs behind Barrafina and Quo Vadis in Soho.  He’s got a vast and much-loved library with Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson, Julia Child, Claudia Roden, Elizabeth Luard, Marian McNeill, Florence White and Eliza Acton were all powerful influences.

For years Jeremy’s many devotees have been longing for him to write a cookbook but it wasn’t until Quo Vadis was shuttered up during Covid that Jeremy began to jot down recipes for a combination of his favourite things to eat and favourite recipes from a lifetime spent in restaurant kitchens.  Warm comforting, nourishing dishes that he cooked during lockdown form the heart of the book.

The smoked eel and red onion sandwich so beloved of Quo Vadis guests is there, as is the baked salsify or asparagus in filo, chocolate, almond and marmalade tart as well as the classic pommes Anna and rumbledethumps – one of the many nods to his beloved Scottish ancestry.

Like many others, I predict that Jeremy’s cookbook will become a cherished classic.  I’ll leave you with a quote from the introduction. ‘The simple truth, I’ve learned from a lifetime of cooking, is that good food is honed from fine ingredients’ – how true is that…

Cooing Simply and Well, For One or Many by Jeremy Lee is published by 4th Estate.

Jeremy Lee’s Griddled Chicken Livers, Bacon and Sage

These are as pleasing as they are simple. Two each will serve well for a bite or buy and make more for a more substantial dish.
Made earlier in the day and refrigerated, they are a treat cooked swiftly on a grill, heaped on a dish and taken piping hot to the table.
When buying chicken livers, ensure they are dark in colour, firm and, above all, fresh. Wooden skewers are best here and soak them for 20 minutes before using.

Serves 6

150g (5oz) freshest chicken livers
12 rashers of streaky smoked bacon
24 sage leaves
2 soup spoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Trim the livers of all and any trace of gall, easily recognised by its green colour.

Cut the rashers of bacon in half. Lay these flat on a chopping board or baking tray. Lay a small sage leaf on each piece. Lay a piece of liver on top of each leaf. Thread a skewer securely through the bacon, liver and sage. Cover and refrigerate until required.

Place a skillet or griddle on a high heat. When ready to cook, have a dish beside you. Lay the skewers on the skillet or grill, season well with a pinch of each of salt and black pepper, then let cook until a fine-sounding sizzle is achieved after a minute or so. Turn the skewers and cook for a minute or two. Remove to the waiting dish, then mix together the oil and vinegar and lightly brush the meat. Serve swiftly.

Jeremy Lee’s Hake with Parsley, Dill and Anchovy Sauce

A striking dish with the pale green limpid sauce pooled in the plate, contrasting with the delicate slivered skin of the hake. Heaven with the first crop of new potatoes.

Serves 6

3 small shallots
1 clove of garlic
6 anchovy fillets
7 soup spoons olive oil
200ml (7fl oz) double cream
150g (5oz) picked flat-leaf parsley leaves
30g (1 1/4oz) picked dill leaves
6 fillets of hake, roughly 1kg (2 1/4lbs) in total

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

Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic. Place in a pan with the anchovies and olive oil. Sit this upon the gentlest heat and warm until the shallots have softened and the anchovies have melted. Pour in the cream. Bring to a simmer, then pour into a blender packed with the picked herbs. Render smooth and pour this through a fine sieve. Cool swiftly and refrigerate until required.

Place the fillets of hake in a deep ovenproof dish, lightly season with salt and white pepper and lightly dress with a soup spoon of olive oil. Pour in enough cold water to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover the dish and bake in a hot oven until done, say 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm. Any residual juices left in that dish can be added to the sauce.

Warm the sauce and pour on to a dish. Place the fillets of hake on the sauce and serve swiftly.

Jeremy Lee’s Apple Tarts

I first ate a ‘tarte fines aux pommes’ at the Peat Inn in Fife on the east coast of Scotland when still a young apprentice in the late seventies. It is a lovely pudding, timeless, elegant and delicious, simplicity itself, the very best recipe to withstand the vicissitudes of time.
I have made this tart with pears, peaches, apricots and plums and enjoyed them immensely, but there is just that something about apple to which this cook happily returns again and again.

For each person
50g (2oz) puff or rough puff or flaky pastry
1 apple, such as Egremont Russet or Cox’s Orange Pippin
a squeeze of lemon juice
15g (generous 1/2oz) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar

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

Roll the pastry out thinly on a lightly floured surface, roughly into a 12-13cm (4 3/4 – 5 1/4 inch) disc.
Place on a baking sheet and prick with a fork. Refrigerate.

Peel and core the apple, halve it, slice the halves thinly and toss in lemon juice. Lay these concentrically and fairly evenly over the pastry. Brush the apple with melted butter. Evenly sugar the apple slices. (These keep remarkably well in the fridge if necessary).

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until slightly risen and golden. Serve with very good cream. (If you make the tart in advance, warm it through before serving).

Jeremy Lee’s Custard

Makes 600ml (1 pint)

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500ml (18fl oz) whole milk
6 organic egg yolks
40g (1 1/2oz) caster sugar
140ml (scant 5fl oz) double cream

Place the vanilla pod and seeds in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the milk (if using vanilla extract, add this to the milk instead). Place over a gentle heat while the milk infuses, stirring from time to time.

In a bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar together. Just as the milk comes to the boil, pour half on to the egg mix, stirring all the while. Pour this back into the remaining milk in the saucepan, and return to a gentle heat, stirring until the custard thickens.

Remove from the heat and pour in the cold cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a waiting bowl and stir for a few minutes until the steam disperses. Cool and refrigerate until needed.


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