Student’s Pop-Up Dinner


Last weekend on a balmy summer’s evening, we had a wonderfully convivial event here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

The Certificate Course students put on their fundraiser Pop-Up dinner.

This time the proceeds were divided between the Seva Mandir India Fund and The Marmalade Project, a charity launched by Belinda Davies, one of the current students whose Mum died tragically from a stroke a couple of years ago.

The Ballymaloe Cookery School students Pop-Up dinner occurs just three times a year, a delicious multi-ethnic event with a different theme each time.

On this occasion, it was Carpe Diem…live in the moment. A celebration of the bounty of beautiful fresh produce in season at present on the farm and in the gardens.

With a little guidance from Rory O’Connell, Pamela Black and Gary Masterson, the 3-month students planned and orchestrated the entire event.

They designed the menu, tested and retested recipes, created the artwork, designed the table setting, picked and arranged fresh flowers from the garden.

They churned the butter from the Jersey cream on the farm and added nasturtiums to make a fiesty butter to accompany the five freshly baked breads – rosemary and roasted garlic soda bread; potato and spring onion sourdough; turmeric and black pepper sourdough; caraway, nigella seed, fennel seed sourdough and a 3-day focaccia.

Other students designed and filled the goody bags for guests to take home as a memento of the evening.

Guests were greeted with a glass of elderflower fizz and some innovative canapés to nibble on.

Smoked cod gougère, chive, pickled cucumber

Beetroot, piccalilli, goat cheese

Summer roll, peanut satay

The starter was a fresh tasting salad of nectarine, buffalo mozzarella, anchovy, candied lemon

This was followed by a beetroot sorbet garnished with pretty pink elderflowers.

Organic harissa chicken, courgette, tabbouleh, Irish cherries, lemon yoghurt

The dandelion coffee panna cotta with nougatine biscuit and caramelised milk skins was quite the revelation.

Then to cap it all, a selection of four delicious petit fours, each created by a different student:

dark chocolate truffle, pistachio, fennel seed

almond, elderflower, gooseberry

fresh strawberry fool

raspberry macarons

Planning and ticking all the boxes went on for over five weeks.

It’s a brilliant learning experience for the students who quickly realise just how much advance planning needs to go into a successful event.

Another student, Fionn wrote a little poem for the menu, and two others, Luisa and Tyler provided the musical entertainment as guests made their way from the welcome marquee into the midsummer’s feast.

We were super proud of our students and lecturers who got a spontaneous standing ovation at the end of the meal from the 70 plus guests. The students (15 nationalities) were thrilled with the response. It’s worth noting that many scarcely had done little or no cooking nine weeks ago… a fantastic achievement.

They kindly shared the recipes for some of the dishes.

Heini Lanthaler’s Nectarine, Buffalo Mozzarella, Anchovy, Candied Lemon

Heini from Meran in Italy created this delicious summery starter – it got a rave review.

Serves 4

2 nectarines

2 buffalo mozzarella

10 anchovies, halved lengthwise

lemon zest

candied lemon peel (crunchy)

lemon oil made with 250ml olive oil, zest from 1 lemon and 3-4 lemon balm leaves (allow to marinate in the oil for 3 or 4 days before using)

a few mint leaves and corn flowers if available

Cut the unpeeled nectarines into 10 equal wedges.  Slice the mozzarella about 2cm thick.  Arrange the nectarine and mozzarella slices in a wheel pattern on a serving plate, lay an anchovy half over each piece of mozzarella.  Sprinkle with freshly grated lemon zest and candied lemon peel.  Drizzle with lemon oil and garnish with some fresh mint leaves or corn flowers if available.

Candied Lemon Peel

We always have lots of candied lemon, orange and lime peel in a jar to decorate tarts, scatter on mousses or just to nibble.


2 lemons

450ml cold water

Stock Syrup (dissolve 350g granulated sugar in 600ml water and bring to the boil for 2 minutes and allow to cool.  Store in the fridge until needed).


Peel 2 lemons very thinly with a swivel top peeler, be careful not to include the white pith.  Cut the strips into fine julienne.  Put into a saucepan with the cold water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, cover with fresh water and repeat the process

Put the julienne into a saucepan with the syrup and cook gently until the lemon julienne looks translucent or opaque.  Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on parchment paper or a cake rack.  When cold, toss in castor sugar and allow to dry in a cool, airy place. 

Can be stored in a jar or airtight tin for weeks or sometimes months.

Hilary Van Leeuwen & Eline Teunissen’s Beetroot Sorbet

Hilary from Australia and Eline from Rotterdam magicked up this fresh tasting sorbet with the beets from the farm.

Serves 10 as a palate cleanser

150g sugar

150ml water

440ml beetroot juice, from peeled beets

20ml lemon juice

60ml liquid glucose

2 gelatine leaves


pink elderflowers if available

sprigs of sweet cicely or mint

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan.  Stir over a medium heat to dissolve, boil into a syrup. Remove from the heat, allow to cool slightly. Add the sugar syrup to the beetroot juice, freshly squeezed lemon juice and liquid glucose.  It should be slightly sweeter than you would like it. (It will lose some of its sweetness during freezing).

Soften the gelatine leaves by soaking in cold water (3-4 minutes), squeeze out any excess water and add to the beetroot mix.

If the mixture is too cool to melt the gelatine, it can be warmed slightly on the stove. 

Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it is softly frozen then freeze.

To Serve

Scoop into individual bowls and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon and decorate with pink elderflowers if available and a sprig of sweet cicely or fresh mint.

Bryce Wyman’s Dandelion Coffee Panna Cotta, Nougatine Biscuit, Caramelised Milk Skins

Bryce comes from Alberta in Canada – the dandelion coffee panna cotta was a revelation.  Omit the caramelised milk skin if you are short on time.

Serves 8

panna cotta

600ml cream

50g sugar

50g dandelion coffee (roasted dandelion root – available to buy in health food shop, we sourced it from Well & Good in Midleton

pinch of salt

2 gelatine sheets

nougatine biscuits

87g mixed nuts

75g sugar

⅜ tsp apple pectin

67g butter

25g glucose syrup

1 tsp water

Irish coffee sauce

87g sugar

35ml water

115ml coffee

½ tbsp whiskey

caramelised milk skins

8 tbsp milk

pinch of salt

8 teacups

First make the panna cotta.

Put the cream, sugar, dandelion coffee and salt into a saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Soften the gelatine sheets in a little water, drain well and add to the saucepan.  Stir and pour into the moulds, cover and allow to set overnight.

To make the nougatine biscuits.

Chop the nuts to a semi-coarse texture.  Combine the remaining ingredients and cook on a low heat until the mixture is melted and smooth.  Add the nuts. 

Preheat the oven to 190°C and bake until golden caramel in colour (10 minutes approx.).  As the biscuits cool, cut into shards.

To make the coffee sauce.

Put the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir until the sugar dissolves and the water comes to the boil.  Remove the spoon and do not stir again until the syrup turns a pale golden caramel.  Then add the coffee and put back on the heat to dissolve.  Allow to cool and add the whiskey.

To make the milk skins.

Add enough milk to cover the bottom of a non-stick saucepan with a pinch of salt.  Allow to boil and bubble until it collapses (be patient).  Allow to caramelise on the bottom of the pan and peel off with a spatula while hot. 

To Serve

Pour 1 dessertspoon of Irish Coffee Sauce over the panna cotta.  Top with a little softly whipped cream, nougatine shard and milk skin. 

Noor ter Meer’s Dark Chocolate Truffles with Pistachio and Fennel

Noor from Amsterdam created this irresistible petit four to nibble with an espresso after dinner.

Makes approximately 25 truffles

225g dark chocolate (we use 62% chocolate)

225ml cream 

50g pistachios

5g fennel seeds 

First make the ganache.

Put the cream and chocolate in a Pyrex bowl, sit over a saucepan of water.  Bring to the boil, making sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl, turn off and remove the saucepan from the heat immediately. Allow the chocolate to melt over the residual heat. Remove the bowl from the pan and gently stir the chocolate mixture until smooth. Cool, then cover and chill until set.

Meanwhile, make the coating for the truffles.

Finely chop the pistachios. Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Grind the fennel seeds finely in a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. 

Combine the fennel and pistachio in a bowl and mix well. Scoop a teaspoon of ganache, roll the ganache into a ball with cool hands. Drop the truffle into the fennel and pistachio mixture to coat well. If the ganache becomes too warm to roll, put it in the freezer for a few minutes and proceed to roll the truffles in batches. 

The truffles are best eaten cold.

Fionn Corcoran’s Turkish Delight

This treat is full of exotic sweetness. Flavoured with rose water and vanilla, they will surely put a smile on your face when you try them! They also happen to be vegan. Fionn hails from Killarney in Kerry.

Makes 36 squares approx.

sugar syrup

600g caster sugar

270ml water

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

thickening paste

100g cornflour

540ml water

Turkish delight flavour

2 tbsp rose water

1 tsp vanilla extract 

red food colouring (enough to create a bright red colour)


approx. 80g of icing sugar and 40g cornflour

1 x 20cm square tin – base and sides lined with parchment paper and brushed with a little vegetable oil

Place sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan, stir to dissolve. Bring to the boil, stirring now and then simmer until mixture reaches between 112-115°C on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Mix the cornflour and water in a large saucepan, stir over a medium heat until no lumps remain and the mixture is a thick glue-like consistency.

Gradually, stir the sugar syrup into the cornflour mixture. When all the syrup has been added, stir constantly for 5 minutes over a low heat.

Now simmer the mixture, stirring frequently, for between 45-60 minutes, until mixture is lightly golden.

Next add the rose water, vanilla extract and a few drops of natural red food colouring.  Stir to combine.

Transfer the Turkish Delight mixture to the lined tin.

Smooth the surface with a palette knife.  Allow to set ideally overnight or up to 24 hours. 

Slice the Turkish Delight into small squares, pat them dry. Arrange on a wire rack to prevent them from sweating. Toss the squares in the cornflour and icing sugar several times to create a dry, almost crusty outer layer of sugar. They are better eaten sooner rather than later as sometimes they can absorb the icing sugar.

Best stored in a cool/dry place away from sunlight.

Stephanie Hughes’s Raspberry Macarons

A gorgeous petit four made from fresh summer raspberries by Stephanie from London. 

Makes 70 approx.

120g egg whites
25g caster sugar

a few drops of natural red food gel
200g icing sugar
125g ground almonds

190 salted butter
750g icing sugar

100g crushed raspberries (crush with a masher)
2 tbsp of milk

34 raspberries for decorating (a few packs)

baking tray or trays

large plain piping nozzle 

Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas mark 1. This recipe works best in a fan oven. 

Cover the baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

Whisk the egg whites and caster sugar until stiff.  Add a few drops of red food gel and continue whisking until the colour has been incorporated. 

Sieve the icing sugar twice into a bowl. Add the ground almonds to the icing sugar. Mix half the dry ingredients into the egg whites and then fold in the remainder.

Pipe into approx. 2.5cm rounds onto a baking tray. Bang the tray on a flat surface to remove air bubbles. Rest for 20 minutes, then bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the macarons lift easily off the paper. Cool on the tray.

To make the filling. 
Whisk the salted butter using an electric or stand whisk. Add 250g of icing sugar and whisk until absorbed. Add the crushed raspberries and 2 tablespoons of milk and whisk until fully combined, cleaning down the side of your bowl as you go. The mixture may look as though it is separating at this stage. Add the remaining icing sugar in batches whisking all the time.

To Decorate
Lay the half macaron on a flat surface.  Using an icing bag with a star nozzle, pipe the butter icing on the top of the macaroon. Put half a raspberry on top of the butter cream, facing cut side up.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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