ArchiveDecember 31, 2023

Students Pop-Up Dinner

We’re just about to say Au revoir to another group of students, who have been with us here since September last. Fourteen nationalities this time, now winging the way back round the world to South Africa, Jordan, US, Panama, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Israel, Luxembourg, Norway, Netherlands, France, Portugal and of course Ireland and UK. They’ve absorbed the food culture and learned a multitude of culinary skills while they were here and leave with their heads swirling with ideas and  dreams, plus a determination to make a difference, not just in food but also in  environmental and regenerative farming, wherever they go.
 They are keenly aware that every bite of food we eat has consequences to our health and every euro we spend can make an impact for better or worse, depending on the decision we make….
They will be snapped up by restaurants, catering businesses, artisan bakers, cafés, gastro pubs, food magazines… Some will start their own business; one is determined to start a food truck. Another, a doctor will go back to their practice, determined to spread the word to their patients about the connection between nutrient dense food and health and the mantra that our food can be our medicine….
Several others are planning to develop food products and ferments. Many have a love of natural sourdough baking from their early morning forays into the Bread Shed.
We miss them all, we don’t say goodbye, we say Au Revoir until we meet again…
Just a few weeks ago all the students collaborated as they do on each Ballymaloe Cookery School 12 Week Course, to cook a Pop-Up dinner to showcase their skills. All the proceeds go to charity and the tickets sell out in a matter of hours.
Students plan and orchestrate the entire event with just a little guidance from a couple of senior teachers. First, they came up with the concept, this time, it was Food from Here, a celebration of the bounty of fresh produce in season at present on the organic farm, in the gardens, hedgerows, seas and coastline of the local area.
They designed the menu, tested and retested the recipes, created the artwork, designed the table settings, organised the playlist, collected the foliage and dried seed heads to embellish the dining rooms.


Sage and sweet potato rolls served with brown butter and fried sage leaves – the butter was hand churned from the organic Jersey cream on the farm to accompany the fluffy sweet potato and sage rolls.

Mussel Glas: Ballycotton mussels, kale, Ballymaloe cider broth, leeks and chervil.

Farm to Pork: Pressed Ballymaloe pork belly, ham hock pie, black pudding, pork and leek sausage, red wine sauce, kale purée, served with Bramley apple sauce.

Leek and potato gratin, bitter leaf salad.

Meringue with raspberry kombucha sorbet, crème anglaise and fig leaf oil.
When the guests arrived in all their glam, they were served a series of delicious little canapés to accompany their glass of fizz flavoured with homemade blackberry cordial.
Ticking boxes for the event went on for over five weeks. It’s a brilliant learning experience for the students who quickly realise just how much advance planning and sheer hard work is needed to achieve a really successful and memorable event.
We were super proud of our students and their tutors who got a spontaneous, standing ovation at the end of the meal from 70 plus guests. The students were thrilled with the response and justifiably proud of their achievement.
As an extra treat, several students designed and filled an edible goodie bag for each guest to take home as a memento of the evening.
They happily gave me permission to share the recipes with The Examiner readers – I hope you too will enjoy.

Christina Hotsko’s Sage and Sweet Potato Rolls with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Leaves


250g sweet potato 

a good fistful if sage leaves 

60-65g melted butter, cooled 

3 tbsp sage 

4 tsp honey

12g fresh yeast 

1 egg 

320g plain flour, sifted 

¾ teaspoon salt 

a rectangular ‘Swiss roll’ tin (30.5 x 20.5cm)

Add cold water to a small saucepan, just enough to cover the sweet potato, about 150ml. (You will want 120ml of the potato water once the potatoes have been boiled). 

Put plenty of sage into the saucepan with water and bring to the boil.  

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato and cut into 1cm size pieces. Add to the sage water and cook until very tender. Once cooked, remove the sage. Strain the potatoes and reserve 120ml of the cooking water for the yeast. 

Melt the butter in a saucepan with 3 tbsp of chopped sage. Can add more if desired. Allow to cool. 

When the potato water is lukewarm (45-50°C), add 1 teaspoon of honey and the yeast to 120ml potato water.  Allow to activate for 5-10 mins. 

Meanwhile, mash the sweet potato with a fork or masher. Whisk the egg and add to the sweet potato, along with the remaining 3 tsp of honey. Add most of the cooled melted butter and chopped sage, reserving a small amount for later to brush/coat the tin. Mix to combine. 

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add both the sweet potato and yeast mixtures. Mix together by hand. The mixture will be slightly wet but should still come together. 

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a food mixer with a dough hook, coat with a small amount of olive oil and shape into a round. Cover and allow to rise for 1 ½ – 2 hours, or until doubled in size. 

Once doubled, knock back the dough and mix together slightly. Cut into approximately 50g pieces and knead each piece of dough into a tight ball. Place on the lightly buttered tin. Allow to rise for another hour until doubled in size. Rolls will touch each other so they can be served as a tear and share later. Bake at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for 23-25 minutes.

Mussels Glas – Ballycotton Mussels, Kale, Ballymaloe Cider Broth, Leeks and Chervil

The wild mussels came from Ballycotton Seafood, Ballymaloe House Cider and organic apple juice from the Ballymaloe Cookery School orchards.

Serves 6

300g kale (de-stalked)

90g creamsalt
3 small leeks (120g approx.)

extra virgin olive oil
50g butter

4 garlic, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
40ml Ballymaloe House cider
60ml apple juice
36-40 mussels, cleaned and beards removed, discard any that are not tightly shut



Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3.

Begin by making kale and cream mixture. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the kale leaves until tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain cooked kale leaves in a colander. Purée the kale leaves with the cream until smooth consistency. Season with salt to taste.

Trim off the green leek tops, set aside. Lightly oil the leek stalk and place on a baking sheet. Season lightly with salt and roast in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes or until tender.

Melt the butter in a low sided saucepan when it foams add the sliced garlic and shallot. Sweat the mixture until tender, be careful not to brown. Add the cider and boil until the alcohol flavour cooks off, 5-7 minutes. Add the kale mixture and the apple juice to the saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes until all the flavours have combined. Check the seasoning, if it requires more acid, add a teaspoon of cider. If it requires more sweetness, add a tablespoon more apple juice.
Put the mixture into a cheesecloth on top of a fine mesh sieve. Squeeze the cheesecloth to ensure all the liquid has passed through. Return the green broth to a clean saucepan and keep it warm on a low simmer. Do not cover or the liquid will discolour.

Once the leeks are roasted. Removed to outer layers to expose the tender interior. Cut into 2cm medallions and add to the green broth.
Increase the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Next take the discarded outer leek layers and green leek tops and cut them into 1cm strips lengthwise. Coat lightly in olive oil and salt. These will be used as a crispy leek topping on the mussels. Distribute them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until crispy.

Meanwhile, put the mussels into a saucepan on a medium heat. Cook until they open, 2-3 minutes discarding any that do not. Pour mussel cooking liquid into green broth and stir.

To Serve
Divide the green broth, roasted leek medallions and mussels between bowls. Garnish with crispy leek tops and chervil and serve immediately.

A Trolley Tribute – Meringue with Raspberry Kombucha Sorbet, Crème Anglaise and Fig Leaf Oil

A delicious combination, lots of work to assemble the various components but so worth the effort for the final result.

Serves 14

1 x meringue (see recipe)
2-3 tsp fig leaf oil (see recipe)
2-3 tbsp crème anglaise (see recipe)
scoop of raspberry kombucha sorbet (see recipe)
1 tsp of (unsweetened) softly whipped cream

1 leaf of wood sorrel

Instructions to assemble:
Put 2-3 tablespoons of crème anglaise into a shallow bowl.
Drop 2-3 teaspoons of fig leaf oil into the crème anglaise to create a swirling effect. Place the meringue in the middle of the bowl, add a scoop or quenelle of sorbet on top of the meringue
Place the whipped cream next to the sorbet and garnish with the wood sorrel.


Makes 14 meringues

4 egg whites
220g caster sugar

1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch (cornflour)

Preheat your oven. If you have 2 ovens, preheat 2 ovens to 150°C/Gas Mark 2 (conventional). If you have 1 oven, preheat to 135°C/Gas Mark ½ (using fan setting).

Using a pencil, mark out the circumference of the meringues to bake. Use a circular shape, e.g. a bowl or wide glass, with a diameter of 6-7 cm. Mark 14 circles and leave approximately 2cm space between them, because the meringues expand slightly in the oven.

Whisk the egg whites in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer until they form stiff peaks, then gradually whisk in caster sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue looks glossy. Whisk in the vinegar and cornstarch.
Spread the meringue inside the circle, creating a crater by making the sides a little higher than the middle.
Turn the oven down to 110°C/Gas Mark ¼.
Bake for 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the meringues cool completely inside the oven.

Raspberry Kombucha Sorbet

We make raspberry kombucha at the Ballymaloe Cookery School Fermentation HQ but use the best you can find.

400ml raspberry kombucha

250g caster sugar
250g water
juice of ½ lemon

Prepare the sugar syrup by dissolving together equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan, boil for 2 minutes and allow to cool.

Put containers in the freezer to store the sorbet.

Blend the chilled sugar syrup, chilled kombucha and lemon juice and churn in an ice cream machine.
Put in the cold container, cover and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Crème Anglaise with Cream

400ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

4 egg yolks

40g (1 ½oz) caster sugar

400ml cream

Bring the milk almost to the boil with the vanilla extract.

In a Pyrex bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and light. Whisk in the hot milk in a slow and steady stream.
Replace in a clean saucepan and cook over very low heat, stirring constantly with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, until the custard thickens slightly. Your finger should leave a clear trail when drawn across the back of the spoon.
Remove from the heat at once and strain. Cool.
When completely cooled, mix in two-thirds of the unwhipped cream. Taste and check texture and add more cream if needed.

Note: The mixture is transferred to a clean saucepan to avoid the mixture catching on the bottom
of the pan).

Fig Leaf Oil

Makes 180ml approx.

15 medium sized fig leaves

200ml extra virgin olive oil

Bring a pot of water to the boil and prepare a bowl with ice and water.
Blanch the fig leaves in the boiling water for 20 seconds, to brighten up the colour. Remove the leaves from the pot and immediately drop them in the ice water. Using your hands, wring out all the excess water from the leaves. Add the leaves with the oil to a blender. Blend until completely smooth, approximately 2-3 minutes.

Pour the mixture in a sieve lined with a coffee filter or a muslin cloth. Let this drip overnight If stored airtight, the oil can be kept for up to 3 months.


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