AuthorDarina Allen

A visit to Montreal

Its about ten years since I’d last visited Montreal, my experience was clouded by my memories of a segregated city where two communities were divided by culture and the language they spoke. The French-Canadians resolutely refused to speak English and seemed not even to suffer inarticulate visitors gladly. The Anglophones seemed equally entrenched – it is unlikely to have been so polarized but that was certainly my impression on a brief visit.
Last January I received an invitation from Dr. Michael Kenneally of Concordia University in Montreal, to give the second annual St Patrick Society Lecture in Canadian Irish Studies this fall. This lecture was inaugurated in September 2006 by Dr. Garret Fitzgerald and aims to bring speakers to talk on topics of interest to both the university and wider communities. The Centre for Canadian Irish Studies offers study programmes that focus on the history and culture of Ireland and the experiences of the Irish in Canada. My topic was the History of Irish Food and I also covered the current food scene in Ireland, the emergence of Farmers Markets and the artisan food sector. Michael Kenneally himself originally hails from Youghal where his brother Tom is a vet. I was delighted to accept the invitation and was promised a tour of some of the culinary delights of Montreal including the markets, at their best at this time of year.
On my return visit I was thrilled to discover that the city had completely transformed itself. Montreal is possibly the most bilingual city in the world. The majority of citizens seem equally at home in French or English so many of the barriers seem to have melted away, allowing the inhabitants to come together and embrace each other’s culture – the result is an absolutely extraordinary city which is ‘food mad’. It seems that all the best aspects of the French, English, Italian, West Indian , Greek and Jewish traditions have contributed to make an intriguing melting pot – no wonder the markets are so rich and multi-cultural and the restaurants and cafes so deliciously varied. 
There are two fantastic markets in Montreal, Marché Jean Talon and Marché Atwater.
On my first morning I woke early and took a cab to Marché Atwater the smaller of the two main markets. By 7.30am row upon row of vegetable and fruit stalls were already piled high. Locals were filling their bags and I spotted a couple of local chefs doing their rounds, I was particularly intrigued by the delicious homemade pickles, ketchups and chutneys made by Serge Bourcier. Quebec with its long cold winters has a strong living tradition of preserving summer bounty and the season was in full swing. Everywhere people were carrying huge crates of red peppers and tomatoes to make purees and pickles for their Winter store-cupboard. I also wandered into several of the shops around the periphery of the market. William J Walters freshly made sausages and bacon are legendary among locals and visitors alike, La Fromagerie du Deuxième with its impressive cheese selection is definitely worth a visit also.
Having done my rounds I popped into a Première Moisson for a double expresso and an almond croissant. This small chain of câfe bakeries, the brainchild of the Colpron-Fiset family, is well above average chain quality and having found them I breakfasted in one every morning. Every city should have a Premier-Moisson.
Later I went to the St Denis area to the chic Arthur Quentin (No 3960) kitchen shop – another magnet for the cook is Quincaillerie Dante a hardware shop that sells kitchen gadgets at one side and guns at the other, if you are lucky you may catch one of the owners Elena Faita-Venditelli’s Italian cooking classes. The charming shop and tea room called Au Festin de Babette and offbeat La Witcha which sells fairy dust and herbal tea potions are also worth popping into. I then headed off to Laurier Ave E. to check out an artisan bakery, La Fromentier. They make the best bread in Montreal in a large open bakery with wood burning oven, which shares a space with a charcuterie and cheese shop. (Cheese buffs will also want to visit Yannick Fromagerie d’Exception, 1218 Bernard Street W. to taste cow and goat milk cheeses.)
I also loved two cafes nearby, Byblos and Café des Entretiens, but there’s lots more for foodies on this cool street.
Visitors to Montreal shouldn’t miss Schwartz, a humble café opened as a steakhouse by Romanian immigrant Reuben Schwartz in 1928. You can either eat at one of the communal tables or at the counter. You may have to queue a long time for a famous smoked beef brisket sandwich with mustard on old style rye bread, but both the flavour and atmosphere will be worth it. Don’t ask for lean, it will be too dry, medium is okay, but a toppling sandwich of fat brisket is deliciously, insanely juicy and succulent. Another ‘must not miss’ experience is a Montreal bagel, quite a different animal from the standard bagel. Opinions vary as to which are best but the Fairmont and St Viateur 24 hour neighbouring bakeries are both institutions. The hoops of dough are first boiled, then baked in a wood-fired oven which adds a smoky note to the flavour of the dough – don’t miss the Fairmont onion bagel.
As ever I ran out of mealtimes but greatly enjoyed Alexandre Loiseau’s food at Cocagne on St-Denis Street. He served one of Montreal’s landmark puddings Pouding Chomeur (unemployed man’s pudding) with spice ice-cream and was kind enough to share the recipe with me. Toque! on the edge of Vieux Montreal is a tonier spot where charming Normand Laprise and his team weave their magic with local ingredients in season. I also enjoyed the marginally chaotic Au Pied de Cochon, which was packed and bustling by 6pm. Plum tomatoes were piled high along the counter.
No toques here, the team of young chefs cooked in jeans and baseball hats. Owner Martin Picard is by all accounts a charismatic passionate foodie who has built up an enviable network of local Quebec artisan producers who supply the restaurant with superb meat, vegetables and fruit. The food is robust and gutsy with strong flavours and huge portions. Picard does all his own preserving and pickling and customers can take home either the preserves or the equipment to do it themselves. 
Last but not least you mustn’t leave Montreal without ordering Poutine, a mound of greasy chips sprinkled with cheddar curds doused in thick gravy – doesn’t sound very appetizing but you can’t imagine how good it can taste. It is served in cafes all over town but we were recommended to go to a hip little spot called La Banquise in the Plateau Montreal neighbourhood. I sat at the formica topped tables surrounded by groovy students with dreadlocks, tattoos and many piercings tucking in to the classic poutine. I couldn’t believe I was eating this bizarre concotion, forkful after forkful – I couldn’t resist, it was sooooo good and so cheap, and though its still on my hips three weeks later I don’t regret a single bite!

Tomato Tart

- from “Au Pied du Cochon – The Album”
Serves 6

Pie Dough
225g (8oz) cold butter
275g (10oz/1⅔ cups) all-purpose (plain) flour
70ml (⅓ cup) cold water
1 pinch fine salt


6 fresh ripe tomatoes
300ml (1¼ cups) béchamel sauce
300g (11oz) Gruyere cheese (grated)
5 sprigs fresh thyme (chopped)
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper


First make the pastry. Cut the butter into 2cm (1 inch) cubes. Mix the flour, salt and butter together by hand or with a food processor.
Some small pieces of butter, about 3mm (⅛in), should remain in the flour mixture. They will help the pastry cook to perfection.
Add water and form a dough roll without working the pastry too much. Leave to rest in the refrigerator at least 2 hours.


Roll out the pastry to a thickness of approx. 3mm (⅛ in), Cut out 6 rounds of 15cm (6in) in diameter.
Spread 50ml (¼ cup) of cold béchamel sauce onto each pastry round, along with a few dashes of Dijon mustard. Then add 50g (approx. 2oz) of Gruyere cheese.
Cover the tarts with 6 or 7 thin slices of tomato about 3mm (⅛ in) thick. Top with some fresh thyme. Sprinkle with salt.
Cook the tarts in the oven at 200C (400F) for approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Bechamel Sauce

1L (1¾ pint/4 cups) cold milk
70g (2¾ oz) butter
70g (2¾ oz) flour
1 pinch nutmeg (grated)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Mix in the flour. Cook over a low heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until golden.
Slowly whisk in the milk. Add the nutmeg and season to taste. Slowly bring to a boil and cook over low heat for approximately 1 minute. 


MAPLE “PUDDING CHÔMEUR”

from Alexandre Loiseau of Cocagne Restaurant
This recipe was written in American measurements which we have converted
1 egg
2¼ tablesp.(3 American tablesp) maple syrup 
10g/½ oz (1 American tablesp) butter, melted
4oz (110g/1 cup) plain flour
Pinch salt
1 heaped dessertspoon (1 American tablesp.) baking powder
1 pinch nutmeg
4fl.oz (125ml/½ cup) milk
7oz (200g/1 cup) maple sugar (you could also use brown sugar here)
12fl.oz (350ml/1½ cups) heavy or whipping cream

Preheat oven to 375˚F. 

Lightly grease a porcelain baking dish (a lasagne type dish would be fine) 30x10x7cm or a square 24x24cm dish., approximately 

Beat together the egg and maple syrup, then blend in the butter. 
In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg, then mix the dry ingredients into the egg mixture alternatively with the milk until you have a smooth batter. Spread evenly into the prepared the baking dish. Whisk together the maple sugar (or brown sugar) and cream, then pour over the batter. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the cake is firm and golden, and the syrup is thick and bubbly.

Off-to-Bed Butter Cookies

(from Gourmet Magazine)
Crumbly, delicate and glistening with golden sugar, these easy slice-and-bake cookies will quickly become one of your favourite standbys.

Makes about 4 dozen

6oz (175g/1½ cups) plain flour
¼ teasp. salt 
150g (5oz/¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened
100g (3½oz) granulated sugar 
2 teaspoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons Demerara sugar

2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Stir together the flour and sugar in a bowl. Beat together butter and granulated sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed in a large bowl until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, then add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing, and continue to mix until batter just comes together in clumps. Gather clumps to form a dough, then press dough with lightly floured hands into a smooth 1¼ in (3cm) thick log on a very lightly floured work surface. 
Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour.
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350F/180C/gas mark 5.
Cut chilled log crosswise into ¼ inch (5mm) thick slices and arrange slices about ½ inch (1cm) apart on baking sheets. Brush tops of cookies lightly with cream, then sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 12-15 minutes in total.
Cool on sheets on racks.

Note: Dough log can be chilled, wrapped well in plastic wrap, up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in plastic and foil, 1 month (thaw in refrigerator just until dough can be sliced).
Cookies will keep for 4days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Hot Tips 

BIM Seafood Circle – from Tide to Table 
This initiative recognizes and rewards the many shops, supermarkets, pubs and restaurants that push the limits to deliver excellent seafood and service to their customers. When buying fish or eating out look for the Seafood Circle symbol – www.seafoodcircle.ie 

Q82 Restaurant, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Celebrate their local producers with a Slow Food Dinner Menu designed around their spectacular produce on Wednesday October 17th at 6.30pm for 7pm
Enjoy the feast and meet the producers themselves. 
Booking essential – places limited – Tel Q82 on 058-244555 (quote Slow Food when booking) €55 for 6 courses (excluding wine) €48 for Slow Food members and students.

Cork City becomes a GM-free zone
Minister for Food and Horticulture backs move
Top chefs and restaurants welcome recipe to protect food quality and traditions
The City of Cork is now a GMO-free zone, following a recent motion by Cork City Council which declares the area off-limits to the release of genetically modified seeds and crops. The decision follows similar motions adopted by Bantry and Clonakilty last year.
The Minister of State for Food and Horticulture, Trevor Sargent, said the move will help to protect the economic interest of Ireland’s food and farming future as a clean green GM-free food island.

Claudia Roden Teaches at Ballymaloe

One of the great joys of owning a cookery school is that I have an excuse to indulge myself occasionally and invite some of my heroes to teach a guest chef class. Throughout the years there have been many, among them the late Jane Grigson, Marcella Hazan, Rose Grey and Ruth Rogers of the River Café, Diana Kennedy, Madhur Jaffrey, Frances Bissell, Sophie Grigson, Rick Stein, Rick Bayless, Nina Simonds, Peter Gordon, Ursula Ferrigno, Sam Clark, Antony Worrall Thompson, Deh-ta-Hsiung, Skye Gyngell, Alicia Rios, Alastair Little, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Maggie Beer, …. looking back, the long list reads like a who’s who of the culinary world.
Recently, Claudia Roden thrilled us with a glimpse into a world of food that I knew far too little about. Claudia has accepted an invitation to the school twice before but on this occasion on the suggestion of Rabbi Julia Neuberger she cooked not the Middle Eastern food for which she is perhaps best known, but Jewish food. We had a wonderful day where Claudia combined history and recipes with stories and personal anecdotes gleaned from the years of research that went into her Book of Jewish Food, published in 1997.
This marathon achievement told the history of the diaspora through its cuisine. The book’s recipes reflect the many cultures and regions of world, from the Jewish quarter of Cairo where Claudia spent her childhood to the kitchens of Asia, Europe and the Americas. To those of us less familiar with Judaism, she explained the dietary laws and intriguing culture of the Ashkenaz and Sephardi Jews. 
The Ashkenazim are the Jews whose origin lies in Western and Eastern Europe and Russia. Their culture developed in a Christian world. The Sephardi world stretched from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. With the exception of Christian Italy and Spain and parts of India, almost all the lands where the Sephardim lived before the seventeenth century were under Islamic rule. 
Food takes on enormous importance in Jewish households, it defines the identity of the family and is part of every ritual, festival and celebration. Many dishes are imbued with symbolism and tradition and for Orthodox Jews the food must be strictly Kosher.
Claudia hasn’t confined herself to Jewish or Middle Eastern food, Jane Kramer aptly described her in the New Yorker (September 3rd 2007), as “the youngest of a triumvirate of hungry, highly literate and ethnographically indefatigable women who helped transform how the British cooked”.
Beautiful and gentle, at 70 Claudia is still an indefatigable researcher and one of the most revered cookery writers of our time. At present she is finishing her long awaited 11th book on the Food of Spain to be published by Penguin/Michael Joseph.
During her day at the school she cooked a variety of mostly Sephardic dishes from many parts of the world, the flavours were delicious and intriguing. Each dish had a story, I’ve chosen a few recipes to whet your appetites – for almost 800 more you will have to seek out Claudia’s wonderful Book of Jewish Food (published by Alfred A. Knopf –New York 1997), which was awarded the Glenfiddich Cookbook of the Year, The Andre Simon Memorial Fund Food book, and the Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Book prize for non-fiction.

Roast Chicken with Onion Sauce and Couscous Stuffing

Most “Jewish” dishes are Sabbath (Saturday) dishes because the Sabbath was the only time during the week Jews prepared special dishes. They could be local dishes that they glamourised for the Sabbath. Stuffing a dish made it grand and there was always more stuffing on the side. Birds were often pot roasted because most people in Morocco did not have ovens. The onion sauce takes time because a large quantity of onions take about an hour to cook down.
Serves 6

1 large chicken
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Sauce
1kg (2 lb) onions, sliced 
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper
Pinch of saffron (powder or pistils)
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey

For the Couscous Stuffing
250g (9ozs) packet couscous
400ml (14fl ozs) chicken stock (you can use 1 stock cube)
Salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
100g (4ozs) blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
50g (2ozs) pistachios, coarsely chopped
50g (2ozs) pine nuts, toasted
50g (2ozs) raisins soaked in water for 30 minutes 

In a wide baking dish rub the chicken with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Put it breast-side down so that the fat runs down and prevents the breasts from drying out, and pour into the dish about a small teacup of water. 

Cook in an oven pre-heated to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 for 40 minutes per kilo. Turn the chicken breast-side up after about 50 minutes. Test to see that it is ready by cutting into a thigh with a pointed knife. The juices should run clear, not pink. 

For the onion sauce, put the onions in a wide pan with 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil, and cook, covered, over very low heat for 30 – 45 minutes until they are very soft, adding salt and pepper and stirring occasionally. They will stew in their own juice. Remove the lid and continue to stir occasionally until the onions are melting soft and golden. Add cinnamon, saffron, ginger and honey and cook for a few more minutes. In all it should take about 1 hour.
Put the couscous in a bowl. Warm the stock, adding a little salt (take into account the saltiness of the stock) and the cinnamon. Pour 300ml (10fl ozs) of the stock - the same measured volume as the couscous - over the couscous, mix very well and leave for 20 minutes until the couscous has absorbed the stock. Then stir in the oil and break up any lumps with a fork. Rub the grain between your hands, to air it and make it light and fluffy. Stir in the chopped almonds and pistachios (you can chop them in the food processor), the pine nuts and raisins, and mix well. Cover the dish with foil. All you will need is to heat it through for 20 minutes in a 200ºC/400°F/Gas Mark 6 oven before serving. Pour the remaining stock on top.

Cut the chicken into 6 serving pieces, remove the carcass arrange them in a wide serving dish and pour the onion sauce on top and let it mix with the gravy. Heat through at the same time as the couscous stuffing. 

Serve the two separately or the chicken and sauce on top of the couscous stuffing. 

Creamy Cheese Flan with Filo – Boghatcha

Few people know about this dish. The name means “drunkard” in Judeo – Spanish – perhaps because the pastry is soaked in milk. It is a curious and wonderful pie – a version of the Turkish sutlu borek. The filo pastry with a sharp cheese filling, baked in a light creamy custard, becomes soft, like sheets of ever-so-thin pasta.
250g (½ lb) filo – 7 sheets about 46cm x 32cm (18 by 12 ½ inches)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
500g (1lb) feta, mashed
350g (¾ lb) Gruyère cheese, grated
75g (3 ozs) grated Kashkaval or Parmesan 
6 eggs
1 pint (600ml) milk

For the filling, mix the feta, Gruyère, and about ¾ of the Kashkaval or Parmesan with 2 of the eggs.

Open out the sheets of filo, leaving them in a pile. Brush the top one with melted butter and put a line of filling about 1 inch (2 ½ cm) thick along one long side. Roll up, making a long thin roll, folding in the ends about halfway to stop the filling from oozing out. Crease the roll like an accordion by pushing the ends towards the centre with both hands. Place it in the middle of a round baking dish about 12 inches (30cm) in diameter, curving it like a snail. Do the same with the other sheets and place the rolls end to end to form a long coil like a snake. Lightly beat the remaining 4 eggs with the milk and pour over the cheese-filled coil (you do not need to add salt, because the feta cheese is very salty).

Sprinkle with the remaining Kashkaval or Parmesan and bake at 180°C (350°F/Gas Mark 4) for about 1 hour, or until the cream is absorbed and set and the top of the pastry is brown. Serve hot or cold, cut into wedges.

Burghul Pilav
Bulgar Wheat with Almonds, Raisins and Pine Nuts.
In many communities in the Arab and Ottoman worlds, cracked wheat is served as an alternative to rice and as a filling or accompaniment to poultry such as pigeons, chickens, and turkey. The raisins and nuts turn the grain into a festive dish. This way of preparing it is quick and easy. Serve with chicken or lamb.
1 litre (1¾ pints) stock or water
500g (18oz) coarse burghul (cracked wheat) 
About 1¼ teaspoons salt
Pepper
100g (3½ oz) blanched almonds
5 tablespoons sunflower or light vegetable oil
75g (3oz) pine nuts
50g (2oz) cup raisins, soaked in water for ½ hour

Bring the water or stock to the boil in a pan. Add the cracked wheat, salt and pepper and stir, then cook, covered on a very low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes or until the grain is tender. 

Fry the almonds in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring and turning them until beginning to colour. Add the pine nuts and stir until golden. Stir the nuts, the drained raisins and the remaining oil into the cracked wheat in the pan and heat through. 

Foolproof Food

Almond and Chocolate Cupcakes – Mustacchioni

These little Almond and Chocolate Cupcakes from Trieste were particularly delicious and have the added bonus of being gluten free.
They are extremely easy to make, with no melting of chocolate or separating of eggs. You just blend everything together in a food processor.

200g (7oz) dark, bittersweet chocolate broken into pieces
200g (7oz)) lightly roasted blanched almonds
3 eggs
(90g (3¼oz) sugar
2 tablespoons rum (optional)

Put everything into the food processor and blend to a soft, creamy paste. Drop into little paper cups by the heaping teaspoonful. Bake in a preheated 3500F (1800C) oven for 25 minutes, or until slightly firm. They are meant to be soft and moist.

Variation:

For a version from Padua, use only 50g (2oz) of chocolate and add 50g (2oz) of chopped candied citrus peel.


Hot Tips

Pig Out Day Courses with Frank Krawczyk
Frank, one of Ireland’s best known salami and sausage makers, will share the secrets of his art during a one-day action packed demonstration – he will use every single part of a pig to produce a huge range of pork delicacies – brawn, pate, sausages, bacon, salamis, speck, smoked ham and much, much more. Dates – October 19th and December 7th this year. Enquiries to Frank at Derreenatra, Schull, Co Cork, tel 028 28579 email- westcorksalamis@gmail.com  

Arun Kapil’s Green Saffron Spicy Granola is the newest and most sought after breakfast munch – www.greensaffron.com  Available at Green Saffron outlet at Stephen Pearce Gallery, Shanagarry and Mahon Point Farmers Market.

Blueberries are definitely the ‘new black’

Blueberries are definitely the ‘new black’ – seems like every magazine and cookery article I picked up for the last few weeks has an article extolling the virtues of this plump little berry – In season from May to October, we’re told they are packed with Vitamins C and E, manganese, dietary fibre, low in calories and virtually fat free. Research has shown that they come out tops in their capacity to destroy free radicals and are credited with helping to strengthen eyesight because of the substance called anthocyanin which they contain, they improve the support structures in the veins and entire vascular system and may help reduce cholesterol and provide protection against ovarian cancer. They also help prevent urinary tract infections. The US Department of Agriculture has claimed that they contain 50% more antioxidants than strawberries, 100% more than oranges and 400% more than broccoli and spinach.
Truly remarkable, even though I greatly enjoy blueberries I have to say that I am getting increasingly cynical about each new wonder food and while I love the juicy cultivated Irish berries, I still hanker for the tiny intensely flavoured wild bilberries which we call herts or fraughans (they are known as blaeberries in Scotland) . They are in season for a short time around the beginning of August and can be picked from the low growing bilberry bushes on hilltops and mountain ranges around the country. Because of their size they take ages to pick enough for a decent plateful, but the flavour is bittersweet and intense. You’ll need to wear thorn proof clothing to protect you from the scratchy bushes.
I wouldn’t dream of cooking fraughans. I’m convinced they taste best when lightly crushed with a sprinkling of sugar and then eaten with some rich pouring cream. Try to find the Glenilen traditional cream – divine – a forgotten flavour, like cream used to taste before the bottom line became more important than the flavour.
Ireland now grows about 20 tons of blueberries annually . A renowned Irish horticulturist Dr. Lamb established a 10-acre blueberry farm in near Portarlington, Co Offaly in 1965 after he recognized the commercial potential of growing American varieties in Irish bog-land. They love acid soil. A colleague John Seager became involved with the pioneering work in 1977 and took over the plantations in 1995, 20 acres of blueberries at Derryvilla now produce 70% of Irish blueberries. John still owns the plantation and is very involved and Nuala O’Donogue runs the operation on a day to day basis in Derryvilla. Nuala would like to let people know that they can come and pick their own blueberries on the farm every day, they hope to have blueberries up to mid-September. They also have some excellent quality early season frozen blueberries for sale. Our nearest source is Sunnyside Farm in Rathcormac, Co Cork where John Howard added sulphur to 2½ acres of his land to get rid of the lime and create the correct PH for blueberries to thrive. This year he produced about 3½ tons and will have frozen blueberries (as well as other berries) available from his shop every Saturday from 2-5 during the off-season.
This year the blueberries seem larger and plumper than ever before probably because of the abundance of rain throughout the summer months. The flavour seems less zingy but nonetheless delicious. I’ve been eating them in every possible way for the past few weeks but being passionate about local and seasonal I was shocked and distressed to find that the blueberries in the local Supervalu store in West Cork were from Poland, others come from Italy, at almost twice the price of the Irish ones in the middle of the season. Where’s our patriotic streak, its high time we made our voices heard and voiced our support for shops and supermarkets who sell local food in recognition of the local customers who support them and condemn those who sell imported produce in the midst of the Irish season. We need more cooperation between producers and retailers – a bond of trust and a fair price.
Even if you are vigilant its so easy to fall into the trap – I am passionate about buying Irish and local whenever possible but I was conned by O’Driscoll’s fresh raspberries in mid-season. With a name like that one would assume that they must come from West Cork or Ireland at least, but on closer examination of the small print I discovered the raspberries came from the US. How about that for carbon footprint and airmiles!
Could readers write or email me (darina@cookingisfun.ie) the names of local shops or supermarkets which highlight local foods and I will be happy to publish them for other readers.


Emer Fitzgerald’s Blueberry Scones

Makes 18-20 scones using a 72 cm (3inch) cutter
900g (2lb) plain white flour
170g (6oz) butter
110g (4oz) blueberries
3 free range eggs
pinch of salt
55g (2oz) castor sugar
3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
450ml (15floz) approx. milk to mix
For glaze:
egg wash (see below)
granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones

First preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas mark 9.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter. Add the blueberries. Make a well in the centre. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board. Knead lightly, just enough to shape into a round. Roll out to about 22cm (1inch) thick and cut or stamp into scones. Put onto a baking sheet – no need to grease. Brush the tops with egg wash and dip each one in granulated sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack.
Serve split in half with butter.
Egg wash:
Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This is brushed over the scones and pastry to help them to brown in the oven.


Warm duck breast salad with pine kernels and blueberries

Serves 4
a selection of lettuces and salad leaves eg. lollo rosso, frisse, butterhead and rocket
1 large duck 
Walnut dressing
3 tablesp. walnut oil
1 tablesp. wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper

2-3 pine kernels
4 tablesp. blueberries

Wash the salad leaves and dry well. Make the dressing and set aside. Score the skin of the duck breast, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook skin side down on a heavy pan for 10-15 minutes depending on size, turn over and continue to cook until cooked but still slightly pink in the centre.
Toast the pine kernels until golden, keep warm
To serve
Toss the lettuces and salad leaves in just enough dressing to make the leaves glisten, add the pine kernels and toss again. Divide between the four plates, slice the duck breast thinly, arrange 3 or 4 slices on top of the mound of salad. Scatter a tablespoon of blueberries over each plate. Serve immediately.

Blueberry and Apple Pie

The pastry is made by the creaming method so people who are convinced that they suffer from 'hot hands' don't have to worry about rubbing in the butter.
Serves 8-12

Pastry
8 ozs (225g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
12 ozs (340g) white flour, preferably unbleached

Filling
18oz (500g) Bramley Seedling cooking apples
6oz (175g) blueberries
5 ozs (140g) sugar
egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk
Castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve
Softly whipped cream
Barbados sugar

tin, 7 inches (18cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) deep

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

First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle. 
To make the tart
Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Peel, quarter and dice the apples into the tart, add the blueberries and sprinkle with sugar. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and barbados sugar. 

Mango, Blueberry, Pomegranate and Kiwi Salad

Serves 4
Great for breakfast or dessert.

2 mangoes
1 pomegranate
2 kiwis 
1/2 punnet of blueberries
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime

Peel and chop the mango into cubes, deseed the pomegranate and add to the mango in a bowl. Peel and dice the kiwi and add with the blueberries to the mango and pomegranate in the bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and the juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime. Toss gently and taste.

Banana and Blueberry Smoothie

Play around with whatever ingredients you have to hand
Serves 1-2

225ml (8fl oz) natural yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
110g (4oz) blueberries

Peel the banana, chop coarsely, add the blueberries and blend with other ingredients in a liquidizer until smooth.
Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Note: if you prefer you can leave out the banana and just use blueberries.

Blueberry and Lemon Passion

- from Mary Berry One Step Ahead
This luxurious dessert, which can be made with raspberries or blackberries instead of blueberries if you prefer, is very quick and easy to make, requiring only a few ingredients.

Serves 4-6

150g (5oz) fresh blueberries
200ml (7fl.oz) tub of half-fat crème fraîche
150ml (¼ pint) thick Greek-style yoghurt
3 good tablespoons luxury lemon curd
Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½
Icing sugar

You will need 4 wine glasses or shot glasses

Reserving 3 blueberries for the top of each glass, sprinkle the remaining blueberries in the bottom of each glass.
Stir the crème fraîche, yoghurt and lemon curd together, adding the lemon zest and juice. Taste the cream and, if you think it needs to be a little sharper, add more lemon juice.
Spoon the lemon mixture over the blueberries and smooth the tops. Chill for at least an hour or overnight.

• This can be made completely up to 48 hours ahead, then just top with the reserved blueberries and dust with icing sugar before serving. It is not suitable for freezing.

Decorate each glass with 3 blueberries and dust with icing sugar.

Ballymaloe Blueberry Muesli

Serves 8
This is a huge favourite with all our family and friends – its such a good recipe to know about because its made in minutes and so good. We vary the fruit through the seasons – strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, blueberries, and grated Cox’s Orange Pippin apples or Egremont Russet in the Autumn.

6 tablespoons rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)
8 tablespoons water
250g (8oz) fresh blueberries
2-4 teaspoons honey

Soak the oatmeal in the water for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, mash the blueberries roughly with a fork and mix with the oatmeal. Sweeten to taste with honey, a couple of teaspoons are usually enough but it depends on how sweet the blueberries are.
Serve with pouring cream and soft brown sugar.

The Cake Café

When I was in Dublin recently for a meeting I found another adorable little gem called The Cake Café.   Its tucked in behind the Daintree Paper Shop in Camden street (which is tempting enough in itself – a range of fine and hard paper and stationery).   The indoor and outdoor space was designed by Solearth Architects - there’s lots of steel and thick bamboo and cute little tables covered in check, flowery and spotted oil cloth, under the awning of the bicycle shed.

The crockery is charmingly mismatched and everything is simple and stylish.   The café itself is tiny – inside another 7 or 8 tables and a tall counter piled high with goodies with evocative names like hugs and kisses, and iced cookies, a few cake stands laden with cup cakes and crumbly scones.  There’s a tiny kitchen from which a team of passionate young people produce great bread and a variety of good things to eat.   There’s bunting hanging from the ceiling and there’s a little blackboard on the wall where the day’s specials are chalked up.

Always a soup, savoury tart, salad and terrine of the day and a cup cake of the day which of course I had to have – it came with scary blue icing and both looked and tasted divine.  I also had to have Portuguese sardines on toast which came with a little rocket, roasted red pepper and sunblush tomato salad.  I adore sardines but often forget about them for months on end, these were really good.  I wanted to taste just about everything on the short menu.   ‘Our very own Beans on Toast’, made from scratch with best cannelli beans, sausage and tomato, sounded irresistible, as did ‘Tasty Irish tapas with a twist’.

Must go back but I did order one of their sandwiches for the train.  It came bulging with organic leaves, Gubbeen salami, chilli jam and Cáis na Rí cheese.  When that was safely tucked in my briefcase I ordered a pot of tea and three tiny macaroons .  What joy, this sophisticated little café offers 20 beautiful handpicked teas, some from single estates like Darjeeling Castleton.  I love tea with a passion, not just Barry’s classic leaves, but the myriad of other teas like Gunpowder Temple of Heaven from the province of Zheijang, each single leaf is rolled into a shiny green pearl, reminiscent of gunpowder.   There was also a Moroccan Mint Tea, Indian Chai, Japan Gen Mia, Pai Mu Tan White Tea, Orange Rooibush Eucalyptus …. an unbearable choice.

I have to go back very soon, maybe for breakfast, to have Eggs and Soldiers, Toast and Brown Sugar Marmalade, a bowl of homemade Granola with seasonal fruit compote and Killowen natural yoghurt and a cup of  Ariosa coffee made from freshly roasted beans in Ashbourne, Co Meath

I rushed off to catch my train clutching an egg box full of tiny iced cup cakes and some melting macaroons.  

What a treat to find a café where the owner Michelle Darmody and her team are steeped in the Slow Food ethos, and are truly committed to using the ‘best quality possible ingredients supporting small Irish producers’.

Sadly, far too many chefs and cooks talk the talk but don’t actually deliver – hopefully the team at The Cake Café will continue to adhere to standards which have enchanted their customers thus far. 

www.thecakecafe.ie

The Daintree Building, Pleasants Place, Dublin 2 – behind Camden St, off Grantham St. (opposite O’Sullivan’s Graphics)  Monday to Friday 8am-5pm  Saturday 10am-6pm

Tel 01-4789394     - evening opening coming soon.

GRANOLA

1.5 kg porridge oats
500g shredded coconut

Mix until dissolved
150 ml honey
100 ml sunflower oil
300 ml water
2 tsp vanilla essence 

Add liquid mixture to mixed oats and coconut
Spread on to baking trays and leave to dry in a warm oven. It will take a few hours to dry out. Stir and break up larger chunks. 

Once dry stir through sultanas, chopped apricots, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.

Store in an air tight container.

CUPCAKES

500g butter
500g sugar
500g self raising flour
10 tbl sp milk
8 eggs
2 tsp vanilla or other flavour

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix milk, eggs and vanilla and add to butter n sugar. Add in flour.

Bake at 170 for 15 mins

We top the cup cakes with chocolate ganach which is made with 200g good quality chocolate melted and stirred into 200g cream.

TOMATO, CHICKPEA AND ORANGE SOUP

 Serves 4
 1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons oil

400g tomatoes

1 orange

75g chickpeas (soaked overnight and then simmered for 30-60 mins, or pre-cooked tinned)

300ml stock

 To serve:

Crème fraiche

Freshly chopped mint

 Chop the onion finely. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Fry on a gentle heat for 10 mins, until the onions have softened, but not coloured. Add the garlic to the onion. Finely grate the rind from the orange. Peel the orange and chop into small pieces. Add the orange rind and orange to the onions. Add the tomatoes and the stock. Bring to the boil, and then simmer gently for 20 mins until cooked through. After this time, add the chickpeas and simmer for a further 10 mins. Liquidise the soup.

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and a sprinkle of freshly chopped mint.

 Cooks Book

James Martin’s Desserts published by Quadrille.

Desserts is the eagerly-awaited book on sweet treats and puddings from one of the nation’s favourite chefs James Martin, and is the accompanying book to his BBC TV series Sweet Baby James, in which he travels Britain cooking up some truly irresistible dishes and looks at all aspects of sweet tasting treats, from the best puddings, to chocolate heaven and perfect melt in the mouth pastries, pies and tarts – Tarte Tatin, Pavlova and Chocolate Mousse, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Spicy Plum Crumble …..

Gooseberry crème fraiche tart

– from James Martin’s Desserts
 Try this with new season’s gooseberries.

 Serves 6-8

 Butter for greasing

200g sweet shortcrust pastry – see recipe below

Flour for rolling out

 Filling:

200ml crème fraiche

4 large egg yolks

1 whole egg

100g caster sugar

450g gooseberries, topped and tailed

 Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.  Lightly grease a 23cm,2.5cm deep, loose-bottomed tart tin.

Heat a baking tray in the oven while you roll out the pastry.  Roll the pastry on a floured surface so that it is larger than the diameter of the tin.   Line the tin with the pastry and prick the base all over with a fork.   Brush the base and sides with some of the egg white leftover from the eggs for the filling.  Place the pastry-lined tin on the hot baking tray (this will make the base cook.)

Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is just beginning to turn golden brown.   Then remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.  

To make the filling, whisk the crème fraiche, yolks, whole egg and sugar together.

Carefully arrange the gooseberries in the pastry case, pour the crème fraiche mixture over the top and return the tart to the oven for 40-50 minutes or until it’s a light golden brown.  Allow to cool before serving.

Rich Shortcrust Pastry

 James says the best way to make shortcrust with that crumble-in-the-mouth texture is to do it by hand rather than by machine, as a blender will overwork the gluten in the flour and cause the pastry to be springy and shrink when cooked.   In addition, resting the pastry in the fridge is important, as the high proportion of butter to flour makes it difficult to roll out when warm.  Any unused pastry can be frozen (freeze it rolled into a tin, rather than in a ball.)
 Makes 300g

 200g plain flour

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp icing sugar (if making sweet pastry)

100g cold unsalted butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp iced water

 Mix together the flour, salt and sugar (if making sweet pastry).  Add half the cubed butter to the flour.  Gently and swiftly rub the fat into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Add the rest of the butter and mix until it’s the size of small peas.  Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.

Mix the egg with the lemon juice and water and gradually pour into the well, a little at a time, rubbing it through your fingers, until it forms a  stiff dough (you may not need all the liquid.) Turn out onto a floured board and knead lightly until smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  

To line a tin or mould, roll the chilled pastry onto the rolling pin, then unroll over the tin, draping the pastry into the tin or mould.   Gently press it in place using your fingers.

 Foolproof Food

Fresh Strawberry Shortcake

 A real taste of Summer – make the most of fresh Irish strawberries
 Serves 6 – 8

 Shortbread

6 ozs (170g) flour

4 ozs (110g) butter

2 ozs (55g) castor sugar

 ½ lb (225g) strawberries

8 fl ozs (250ml) Chantilly cream - whipped sweetened cream

1 teaspoon icing sugar

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Garnish: 6 - 8 whole strawberries and fresh mint leaves

 Rub the butter into the flour and castor sugar as for shortcrust pastry.  Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Rest the dough for a few minutes if you have time.

  Roll out into 2 circles 7 inches (17.5cm) in diameter, ¼ inch (7mm) thick.  Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, 15 minutes approx or until pale golden.  Remove and cool on a rack.  One circle may be marked with a knife into wedges while still warm, to facilitate cutting later.

Shortly before serving sandwich with Chantilly cream and halved sugared strawberries. Sieve icing sugar over the top and decorate with rosettes of cream, whole strawberries and fresh mint leaves.

 Note: Individual strawberry shortcakes may be made with 3 inch (7.5cm) discs of shortbread.  Cut the strawberries lengthways and brush with red currant jelly if available.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce

Delicious with good vanilla ice-cream
 400g (14 ozs) strawberries

55g (2 ozs) icing sugar

Lemon juice

Garnish

Fresh mint leaves

  To make the strawberry sauce, clean and hull the strawberries, add to the blender with sugar and blend. Strain, taste and add lemon juice if necessary.   Serve with ice-cream or meringues with some fresh strawberries.

 Hot Tips

Panem Cafe

Another little gem in Dublin, Panem is a tiny café overlooking the river on the Lower Ormond Quay, across from Millenium Bridge.   They serve a limited menu sing really fine quality ingredients and bake cakes, brioches, breads and biscuits through the day in their tiny open kitchen.

I had a delicious chocolate chip brioche with an excellent double expresso followed by a glass of orange juice, freshly squeezed as I waited.   Why oh why can’t other people do this.   There were lots of other tempting things to try but I didn’t have time or space, but Panem could well become a regular haunt on trips to Dublin from now on – Simple and Delicious .   Panem, 21 Lr Ormond Quay, Dublin 1. Tel 01-8728510

Glebe Brethan farmhouse cheese wins Gold Medal

David and Mairead are intrigued by the cheesemaking process and to see the potential of Glebe Brethan named after Baothan or Brethan, founder of the fifth century monastery in what was known as Lannleire, now Dunleer.

David and Mairead Tiernan won several major awards for their Glebe Brethan farmhouse cheese, last year. In June they won a gold medal at the World Cheese Awards. They were thrilled and just recovering from the excitement when they scooped another gold medal for the Best New Cheese at the prestigious British Cheese Awards in August, the 2006 Eurotoques Cavan Crystal Award and the 2006 Bridgestone Guides Megabytes Award followed – not bad for a chap who would scarcely let a bit of cheese pass his lips 2 years earlier – it’s a great story. 
David and Mairead are fourth generation dairy farmers. They farm 100 acres near Dunleer in Co Louth. Originally they had Holstein/Friesian cows but in 1995 they became interested in the Montbeliarde breed from the Jura region in Eastern France, so they headed off to Besançon to visit a third level dairy college Ecole Nationale d’Industrie Laitiereet des Biotechnologies de Besançon, which teaches cheesemaking, butter making etc. They visited a local dairy farm and were welcomed into the farmhouse to share a family meal around the kitchen table with the Rognon family. Their hosts were warm and hospitable, the meal was followed by a cheese course - David hated cheese but rather than appear ungracious he nibbled a piece of the local Compté cheese, just one of the mountain cheeses made in that area. 
To his amazement he really enjoyed the experience. His hosts told him that the cheese was made in the time-honoured way by their son Cristel from the milk of the Montbeliarde cows which are looked after by his twin brother, and aged in the local caves on pine boards at exactly 12º. 

The farmers in that area move their cows up to the higher pastures in the Summer to feed on the wild herbs and grasses at the higher altitude. The cows were often milked in the fields and the cheese made on the spot. This type of cheese was traditionally made in big wheels. The milk is heated to 55º which produces a thermophilic cheese which ages beautifully to a rich sometimes nutty buttery flavour. David became fascinated. He was convinced that if he enjoyed this cheese so would 80% or more of the Irish people who, he believes, like himself enjoy plain food.

He and his wife Mairead chatted and the germ of an idea grew. Why not add extra value to his milk by making a farmhouse cheese – great idea but he hadn’t the first idea how to go about it. He contacted the Rognons in France again who put them in touch with a dairy student Julien, a friend of their son Cristel, he was looking for work on a farm making cheese, he helped them get started. Julien spent most of the summer on the farm, he helped them source secondhand equipment and moulds, not only was this cheaper but it was also impregnated with the exact bacteria needed for a Comté cheese. They made their first cheese in July 2004 and waited anxiously until the following Christmas to taste the results.

It takes 1,000 gallons of milk to produce two 50 kilo cheeses. Each day’s production is different, depending on the season, the pasture, the mood of the cows. David decided to make the cheese only from the Summer milk when the cows are grazing on lush grass, cheese made from cows fed on silage is nothing like so interesting or nutritionally complex. David has been greatly encouraged by the reaction to his cheese. He sells it to selected cheese shops, and has been sending some to Myrtle Allen for the cheeseboard in Ballymaloe House for since last Spring.

His biggest problem is to keep up with the demand. When he and Mairead came down to the Cookery School recently at my invitation to tell the story about their cheese, we tasted the very last piece of his mature cheese. We must now wait for another few weeks for some more.
David has noticed that he has two distinct markets for his cheese. One group loves the milder flavour of the younger cheese, others drool over the nutty flavour of the mature cheese. Both cheeses retail for €26 a kilo at the Farmers Markets.
David and Mairead are intrigued by the cheesemaking process and to see the potential of Glebe Brethan named after Baothan or Brethan, founder of the fifth century monastery in what was known as Lannleire, now Dunleer.

Cheese Souffle Tart with Summer Herbs

Serves 6-8
6oz (175g) approx. Shortcrust or flaky pastry 
Filling
1 oz (25g) butter
½ oz (15g) flour
5 fl.oz (150ml) milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1-2 teasp. freshly chopped herbs eg. chervil, thyme and parsley

3 ozs (85g) grated cheese, eg. 2 ozs (55g) gruyere and 1 oz (30g) parmesan or 3 ozs (85g) cheddar
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 egg whites

7 inch (18cm) flan ring

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/regulo 6. Line the flan ring with pastry. Bake blind for 20-25 minutes in a moderate oven until almost fully cooked.
Melt the butter and stir in the flour. Whisk in the milk and bring to the boil. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, a pinch of cayenne and the herbs. Cook gently for 4-5 minutes. Then stir in the grated cheese and beaten egg yolks. Allow the mixture to cool and then fold in 2 stiffly whipped egg whites, pour this mixture into the pastry case and bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and brown on top.
Serve immediately with a nice green salad or a tomato salad.

Coolea Cheese and Leek Fritters

Makes 25 approx. depending on size.
400g (14oz) leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
25g (1oz) butter
200g (7oz) flour
2 eggs, free-range and organic
250ml (scant 8 fl ozs) milk
200g (7oz) mature Coolea farmhouse cheese, freshly grated
salt and freshly ground pepper
chilli pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter, add the thinly sliced leeks, cover and sweat on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured, 5 minutes approx. Cool.
Put the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre, add in the eggs, break up with a whisk. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the time in a circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl. Add the cooled leeks and the grated cheese. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper, chilli pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Heat a frying pan, preferably non-stick, on a medium heat. Drop a small spoonful of the batter onto the pan, allow to cook until golden on one side, flip over onto the other and cook for a minute or two more. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. 
Cook the remainder in the same way. Serve hot on their own or with a little Tomato and Chilli Sauce or Tomato Fondue.

Macaroni Cheese

Serves 6
Macaroni cheese is one of my grandchildren's favourite supper dishes. We often add some cubes of cooked bacon or ham to the sauce with the cooked macaroni.

8 ozs (225g) macaroni
6 pints (3.4L) water
2 teaspoons salt

2 ozs (55g) butter
2 ozs (55g) white flour, preferably unbleached
1½ pints (850ml) boiling milk
 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley, (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ozs (145g) grated mature Cheddar 

1 x 2 pint (1.1L) capacity pie dish

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn't stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well. 
Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni, bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately. 
Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place, it is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.

Top Tip: Macaroni soaks up an enormous amount of sauce. Add more sauce if making ahead to reheat later.

Macaroni Cheese with Smoked Salmon
Add 4 ozs (110 g) of smoked salmon pieces to the macaroni cheese.

Macaroni Cheese with Mushrooms and Courgettes
Add 8 ozs (225 g) sliced sautéed mushrooms and 8 ozs (225 g) sliced courgettes cooked in olive oil with a little garlic and marjoram or basil and add to the Macaroni cheese. Toss gently, turn into a hot serving dish and scatter with grated cheese – delish.

Cooks Book
The Hairy Bikers Ride Again – published by Penguin Michael Joseph
Dave Myers and Si King are back, carving up the roads of the world on their motorbikes in search of adventurous food and foodie adventures. As usual, they take with them their unique blend of natural charm, northern humour and infectious enthusiasm for new countries, people and experiences and they cause much confusion and amusement wherever they go. This, their second book is full of their travelling tales, bizarre anecdotes and, of course, their wonderful laid back food. This is one of the recipes they came across in Belgium.
Buy this Book from
 

Cheese Croquettes

Makes 12 croquettes and serves 6
These are very similar to shrimp croquettes and sometimes at Belgian restaurants you can have one shrimp and one cheese instead of two of the same. The mixture has to sit in the fridge overnight so give yourself plenty of time. Great for vegetarians.

For the croquettes
75g unsalted butter
100g plain flour
350ml milk
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
100g Emmental, grated
100g Gruyere, grated
3 egg yolks 
½ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
A pinch of cayenne pepper

For the coating
3 egg whites
100g plain flour
100g dried white breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Lettuce leaves, to serve
Deep-fried curly parsley, to serve

Melt the the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the flour and mix like Fatboy Slim in the zone for a couple of minutes, keeping the mixture moving around the base of the pan. Whisk in the milk slowly and carry on whisking for 3 minutes until smooth and thick. Add the cheeses and stir continuously until it has become a great heavy cheese sauce.
Remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Stir in the egg yolks, one at a time, and then add the white pepper, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Taste before adding some salt, because, as we have observed before, cheese can be a salty beast.
Line a 23cm square cake tin with clingfilm and pour in the mixture, spreading it evenly. Refrigerate overnight to set.
Next day, cut out sausage-sized rectangles of the mixture and roll into cylinders. Lightly beat the egg whites until frothy in one bowl. Put the flour in another bowl and the breadcrumbs in another.
Heat the oil in a pan or deep-fat fryer to around 200C.
Dip the cylinders in the flour, then dip into the egg whites. Shake off the excess. Dredge in the breadcrumbs and deep-fry in batches for about 2-3 minutes till golden brown and crisp. Keep the croquettes warm in the oven while you do the rest.
Serve the croquettes on a bed of lettuce leaves with a heap of deep-fried curly parsley. (To deep fry the parsley, plunge it into the oil for 1-2 minutes, remove and drain on a piece of kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. It will be dark green, crispy and sort of delicious – it’s a Belgian thing!)



Foolproof Food

Cheese Sauce

1 pint (600ml) milk with a dash of cream

a slice of onion
3-4 slices of carrot
6 peppercorns
thyme or parsley
roux 
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ozs (110g) grated cheese, eg. Cheddar or a mixture of Gruyere, Parmesan and Cheddar
½ teasp. English or Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper

To make the cheese sauce. Put the cold milk into a saucepan with a slice of onion, 3-4 slices of carrot, 6 peppercorns and a sprig of thyme or parsley. Bring to the boil, simmer for 3-4 minutes, remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain out the vegetables, bring the milk back to the boil and thicken with roux to a light coating consistency. Add 4 ozs (110g) grated cheese and a little mustard. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, taste and correct the seasoning if necessary 

Roux 

4ozs (110 g) butter
4 ozs (110g) flour

Melt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.

Hot Tips

Glebe Brethan Cheese is available at The Pigs Back in Cork English Market, URRU in Bandon and Mallow, in Dublin at Cavistons of Glathule, Listons of Camden St., Fallon & Byrne in Exchequer St., Fothergills in Rathmines, Thomas Murphys in Foxrock, Olive in Skerries – at Farmleigh Market, Sonairte in Laytown, Castlewellan in Co Down – other outlets listed on www.glebebrethan.com 

Leitrim Organic Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd – Mobile Organic Butcher, now at Donnybrook Farmers’ Market, St Mary’s Church, Anglesea Road, Dublin 4
Every Thursday 10-4 selling full range of Irish Organic Meat – lamb, beef, poultry, organic pork to order – advance orders 071-9640868 www.leitrimorganic.com 

Greatfood.ie 
For great barbecue recipes and other foodie news info@greatfood.ie

A Weekend in London

I spent a few days in London recently, ostensibly the purpose of the trip was to work with my editor to finalise the revised edition of the Ballymaloe Cookery Course which hopefully should be in the shops by Christmas.

I so love London, its easy to get to, bouncing with energy, great exhibitions, shows and theatres. I love the parks, the secret town gardens, (I went to see the hidden town gardens behind Spenser House this time) and of course the food.
I always want to try the new ‘best thing’, but also want to pack in old favourites.
The deal this time was that we had to break for lunch and I even managed to nip out for breakfast on a couple of occasions and I tagged a weekend on as well for good measure.
Baker and Spice is one of my favourite breakfast spots, delicious crunchy granola, thick unctuous yoghurt, real handmade breads, brioche, croissants and Danish pastries, good butter in a slab, gorgeous jams and marmalades.
The same can be said for La Fromagerie, Patricia Michelson’s iconic cheese shop and grocery. You sit at a communal table and feast on whatever the kitchen has been moved to cook that day, depending on the season and availability.
Breakfast too is a feast. The damson jam and marmalade were sublime as was my neighbour’s freshly boiled egg and soldiers. The walk-in cheese room, cooled and humidified, has arguably the best selection of cheese in best condition in London.
Next door is the Ginger Pig where those who seek out superb quality meat reared responsibly do their shopping. The meat is dry aged, dark and properly hung, lots of rare breeds. It gives me great joy to see prime roasts of beef sitting on the counter at room temperature with a tag to tell you how long it has hung for, 2,3,4,5 weeks and you pay accordingly. There’s no point in whingeing that we can’t get well hung meat. It costs the butcher more to hang the meat for longer. We need to be prepared to pay more for better quality and traditional butchering and local meat reared and nurtured by local farmers. Those who rear animals for real flavour need to be appreciated and rewarded for their efforts. There must be a difference in return, otherwise why bother.
Londoners queue up at the Ginger Pig in Moxon Street and at Borough Market and pay up to three times our normal prices for prime meat, not just beef and lamb but prime pork from traditional breeds and proper dry cured bacon like it used to be, not luminous pink from nitrates but dark, firm and dry.
The quest for real food in London is gathering momentum. There are now at least fifteen Farmers Markets in the London area. By 10 o’clock on Saturday morning the afore-mentioned Borough Market is like Patrick Street on Christmas Eve. The choice is unbearable and one needs to plan one’s campaign with military precision to make the best use of time. Pop into Brindisa first to order a ration of pata negra, the exquisite cured ham made from the acorn fed Iberico pigs from the oak forests of Andalucia. It will knock you back £16.50 for 100grams, its all hand cut so you’ll need to come back in 20 or 30 minutes to collect your precious packet. Meanwhile pick up some pimentons de Padron, some smoked paprika, a piece of fig and almond wheel and some fine sherry vinegar. If you want to enjoy a famous Brindisa Chorizo and Rocket sandwich you ‘ll need to be fast, there’s normally a queue by 9am which will last virtually all day.
Brindisa Tapa Bar on Southwark St. serves both breakfast and lunch on Friday and Saturday from 8am. 
Just across the road is Neal’s Yard Dairy, Randolf Hodgson’s Emporium of British and Irish cheese and several delicious homemade butters, good milk and thick unctuous yoghurt. 
For those who fancy a little sweet nothing, Konditor & Cook do a range of yummy cookies, bikkies and tiny cakes decorated with rude or romantic messages. Shoppers are prepared to queue for half an hour for the Monmouth Coffee Shop which sources its beans directly from farmers where quality is a priority and workers are paid a living wage also. There are several other terrific little cafes on the periphery of the market and don’t miss Roast-to-go, where they sell ‘pigs in blankets’ and other yummy snacks.
Jane Scotter has the best biodynamic veg in the market, you can pick up some elephant garlic from the Isle of Wight garlic stall, another stall simply sells a variety of sea salt and peppercorns from, yet another specializes in teas. Flour Power City has its bread from around the world and famous chocolate brownies piled high. There’s fish, shellfish, cured meats, pates and terrines and rare breed meats, including Andrew Sharpe’s Herdwick and Swaledale lamb and mutton from the Cumbrian hills in the Lake District, another has goose, duck and traditional breed eggs- it’s a foodlovers delight. If you can’t make Borough on Saturday, Marleybone High Street market on Sunday morning is smaller but the quality is superb.
I also had a delicious lunch in Olivo in Elizabeth Street, freshly made pasta with grated bottago (dried mullet roe), and pizza with Mozzarella, bresaola and rocket. Otto Lenghi on Upper St in Islington was another find, a deliciously stylish food shop with a café behind, unbearingly tempting salads, gorgeous sweeties, huge fluffy meringues, coffee hazelnut, raspberry and rose petal and chocolate. Cup Cakes with a fresh cherry on top, fig and blackberry galette…
In a weekend of many highlights the experience that topped them all was lunch at Petersham Nurseries Café. The salad of green and white asparagus with sarais, ricotta, anchovy and mint dressing was delicious, but most memorable was the Guinea Fowl with
Farro and Rosemary Aoili and the slow cooked Milk fed Lamb with borlotti beans and lovage salsa verde. I’ve managed to persuade Skye Gyngell to come to teach a one-day Guest chef course at the school on Saturday 8th September 2007, her food is truly sublime and truly, truly delicious. I can’t wait! – here are a few more of Skye’s recipes from her book ‘A Year in my kitchen’ published by Quadrille.

Mackerel Fillets with roasted tomatoes and horseradish cream

– Skye Gyngell
Horseradish works well alongside oily fish. You really need to grate it freshly, though this may bring tears to your eyes! Mackerel needs to be exceptionally fresh to be delicious. Ask your fishmonger to fillet the fish for you – if the fillets are quite large, allow two per person, if small then you will need to allow three. Mackerel also tastes best when it is very hot, so don’t let it sit around before serving.
Serves 4

4-5 mackerel, filleted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
12 slow-roasted tomato halves

Horseradish cream:
200ml crème fraiche
1 tbsp. freshly grated horseradish
1½ tsp Dijon mustard

To serve
1 tbsp very finely chopped curly parsley
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle


Start by making the horseradish cream. Put the crème fraiche in a bowl and stir in the freshly grated horseradish and mustard. Season with a pinch of salt and a tiny amount of freshly ground pepper. (If making ahead, cover and refrigerate, but bring back to room temperature before serving.)
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Season the mackerel on both sides, but a little more generously on the skin side. Heat one large (or 2 smaller) non-stick ovenproof frying pans over a medium heat, then add the olive oil. When the pan is hot and lightly smoking, add the mackerel fillets, skin side down, and cook without turning or moving until the skin is golden and crunchy. Put the pan into the hot oven and cook for just under a minute, then remove.
To serve, layer the roasted tomato halves and mackerel fillets on warm serving plates, placing a dollop of horseradish cream on the bottom and top fillets. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil around the plate and serve immediately.

Slow-roasted Tomatoes
6 plum tomatoes
10g caster sugar
10g sea salt
10g freshly ground black pepper
Turn your oven on to its lowest possible setting – probably 100C/gas ¼. Halve the tomatoes lengthways and lay them, cut side up, in a single layer on a large baking tray. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt and pepper, then sprinkle all over the cut surface of the tomatoes. Roast, undisturbed, in the oven for 3-4 hours until they shrivel up – their pointy ends turning up like Turkish slippers. Remove and set aside until ready to use. Slow-roasting itensifies the flavour, giving the tomatoes a deliciously sweet, earthy taste.

Pan-roasted guinea fowl with parsley sauce – Skye Gyngell
Serves 6

6 guinea fowl supremes 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little light olive oil, for cooking

Parsley sauce
150g curly parsley, stems removed, plus extra to serve
500ml double cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
1½ tsp finely grated lemon zest, or to taste

First make the parsley sauce. Put a pan of well salted water on to boil (it should be as salty as the sea). Plunge the parsley leaves into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and refresh in iced water (to keep your parsley a beautiful, bright colour). Drain and set aside.
Pour the cream into a heavy-based pan and bring almost to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow to bubble to reduce by about a third, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Add the blanched parsley leaves and boil for a moment longer. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender until you have a beautiful fine texture.
Add a generous grating of nutmeg and the lemon zest, then season well with salt and a good grinding of pepper. Your sauce is now ready; keep it warm.

Preheat the oven to 220/Gas 7. Season the guinea fowl generously with salt and pepper all over. Place a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and heat until smoking. Pour in about 1 tbsp olive oil, then brown the guinea fowl in batches. Lay two supremes in the pan, skin side down, and leave to colour for 3 minutes – resist the temptation to play with them. Transfer to a baking tray (without turning) and brown the rest of the supremes in the same way.
Finish cooking the guinea fowl in the oven for 8 minutes or until the skin is crisp and crunchy and the breast meat is succulent, moist and cooked through. Leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
Arrange the guinea fowl supremes on warm plates, on a bed of swede puree if you like, and ladle the warm parsley sauce generously over the top. Scatter over chopped parsley and serve.

Strawberry Granita

- Skye Gyngell
Serves 6


125g caster sugar
250ml water 
375g Irish strawberries
Juice of ½ lemon
Pouring cream, to serve (optional)


To make the sugar syrup, put the sugar and water into a saucepan over a medium heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the sugar syrup has cooled.
Hull the strawberries and puree in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice. Pass through a sieve into a bowl. When the sugar syrup is completely cool, combine with the strawberry puree.
Pour the mixture into a shallow freezerproof container and place in the freezer for about 2 hours until partially frozen.
Remove from the freezer and stir up the mixture with a fork, dragging in the frozen granita from the sides. Don’t beat it as you would a sorbet – the texture of the granita is not the same, it is meant to be icy and crunchy. Return to the freezer until set.
To serve, scoop the granita into glasses. If you are feeling really decadent, you could add a drizzle of cream.

Pizza with Mozzarella, Bresaola and Rocket


Brush the pizza base with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Sprinkle with mozzarella, season with cracked pepper and salt.
Slide into the oven. Cook for 1½ - 8 minutes, depending on oven. Lay 5 pieces of Bresaola on top.
Put a medium bunch of fresh rocket in the middle and drizzle with olive oil.


Foolproof Food

Doune McKenzie’s Cheese Biscuits

A brilliant recipe for using up left over bits of cheese, add a little blue cheese if available.
Any bits of left over cheese eg. Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyere, Coolea, Cashel Blue … a little soft cheese may also be added but you will need some hard cheese to balance the flavour.
Weigh cheese then use equal amounts of butter and plain white flour.
Grate the cheese - rinds and all. Dice the butter. Cream the butter and stir in the flour and grated cheese and a little salt, form into a roll like a long sausage, about 1½ inches thick. Alternatively whizz in a food processor until it forms a dough, shape using a little flour if necessary. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 -2 hours until solid. 
Remove, unwrap, brush with egg wash and roll in sesame seeds, or a mixture of sesame and nigella seeds. Cover and chill again for another hour.
Slice into rounds - about one-third inch thick. Arrange on a baking tray, cook in a preheated oven 250ºC/475ºF/regulo 9 for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. 
Leave to cool for a couple of seconds then transfer to a wire rack. Best eaten on the day they are made as they soften quite quickly.
Serve them just as they are, or use them as a base for a variety of toppings – perhaps a sliver of cheddar and a dollop of Ballymaloe Country Relish or Ballymaloe Jalapeno Relish. Goats cheese and sundried tomatoes are also delicious, or simply top the goats cheese with a dab of pesto and a slice of cherry tomato. They are also yummy sandwiched together with cream cheese, chives and cucumber pickle.

Hot Tips

When in London don’t miss -

La Fromagerie – 2-4 Moxon St. London WIU 4EW Tel 020 7935 0341
Ginger Pig, 8-10 Moxon St. London W1U 4EW, Tel 020 7935 7788
Baker and Spice – 54-56 Elizabeth St. SW1W 9PB, Tel 020 7730 3033
Tapas Brindisa, 18-20 Southwark St. SE1 1DJ, Tel 0871 4263056
Ottolenghi – 1 Holland St. Kensington, W8 4NA Tel 020 7937 0003(also in Notting Hill and Islington)
Olivo – 21 Eccleston St. SW1W 9LX Tel 0871 0753940
Petersham Nurseries Café – Richmond, Surrey. Tel 020 8605 3627

Covent Garden – there are lots of wonderful tempting little shops tucked away in the streets around Covent Garden – at 28-32 Shelton Street, WC2H 9JE – Cath Kidston’s beautiful vintage inspired floral tableware and home accessories – oil cloth, fabric by the metre for curtains and tablecloths, clothing, aprons, picnic sets…..
www.cathkidston.co.uk  Tel 020 7836 4803 
Next door at 32 Shelton Street is the Pout Shop with their delicious award-winning cosmetics – much loved by celebrities - great gifts beautifully packaged. www.pout.co.uk  Tel 020 7379 0379
Neals Yard Remedies is also nearby at 15 Neal’s Yard with their range of organic skin care and natural remedies www.nealsyardremedies.com  Tel 020 73797222

Delicious Gourmet Food Store now open on Well Road, Douglas, Cork – www.delicious.ie . Free parking to rear of store. 
Prepared meals, starters and desserts, breads, cakes, jams, cheeses……specializing in gluten Free and wheat free products – Tel 021-4936846

Growing Awareness Events
The aim of Growing Awareness is to ensure that everyone has access to food grown and produced in a way that restores respect for the earth, respect for food and respect for farmers and growers – check out their forthcoming events on www.growingawareness.org

The 5 tier Food Pyramid

Just last week the Irish Heart Foundation issued a press release ‘reaffirming the established position that consistently eating a wide variety of fresh foods including lots of fruit and vegetables, regular consumption of fish and wholegrain foods and eating less fat, sugar and salt is the best nutritional approach for remaining heart healthy and keeping a healthy weight.’

Nutritionists urge us to use the 5 tier Food Pyramid to plan healthy meals, yet confusion abounds. The pyramid has colour photos of many highly processed foods which surely gives a mixed message. This was brought home to me the other day when my ten year old niece Fiadh who is very ‘real food’ aware contacted me to ask why the Food Pyramid was encouraging people to eat lots of obviously processed food.

Layer 5- The layer at the base indicates the foods that we can tuck into free of guilt, like bread, cereals and potatoes. Sliced bread is scarcely a healthy option to encourage people to eat in volume, nor are bought breakfast cereals which invariably contain high levels of salt and sugar. Potatoes can indeed be a healthy option, its best to buy unwashed Irish potatoes rather than washed imported potatoes. Check that they haven’t been grown with excessive nitrogen which dilutes the flavour and affects the keeping time. 

Layer 4 - On the green layer there are fruit and vegetables. When possible, buy organic produce. Fresh fruit and lots of vegetables are indisputably good for us but again there’s not much point in buying lots of jet lagged produce that has flown half way round the world and has residues of pesticides and herbicides. Freshly squeezed orange juice takes seconds to make and delivers infinitely more vitamins and minerals than the pasteurized concentrate sold in bottles and tetra packs.

Layer 3- The middle layer has milk, cheese and yogurt. We are urged to go easy on dairy products, just 3 portions a day, I’m sure that’s good advice but it also depends on the quality of the milk, cheese and yoghurt. I am a great believer in the value of unpasteurised milk from a clean herd that is guaranteed TB and brucellosis free. I feel fortunate that I was reared on raw milk and we now have a Jersey cow that we milk for the family, so that the children and grandchildren can have access to raw milk. A growing number of people both here and in the US are demanding unpasteurised and non-homogenised milk. Check out the Campaign for real (raw) milk on the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation – www.westonaprice.org. There ought to be freedom of choice as there is in so many countries. In London I bought fresh milk in bottles in the Pimlico Market from a farmer from Devon. In the centre of Paris there’s always a queue at the stall at the Sunday Market in rue Raspail selling unpasteurised organic milk, cream, yoghurt and crème fraiche. Live yoghurt is indeed a wonder food but that can scarcely be said for most commercial yoghurt made from skim milk powder and artificial sweetener and syrupy fruit purees. Look out for Glenilen Yoghurt or Ardsallagh Goats Milk Yoghurt or make your own, even a child can make it.

Seek out unprocessed cheese, a valuable, nutritious and delicious addition to our diet. 

Layer 2 - On the next layer of the pyramid, are eggs, fresh fish particularly oily fish, eg mackerel (in season in July, August and September) and meat.

The Irish Heart Foundation wisely urges us to eat less meat, keep it lean and think a pack of cards when we are choosing portion size – 2 ozs meat and 3 ozs fish. They may be right but most Irish men would give a ‘quare look’ at that much meat put down in front of them.

Again the quality of the meat and fish really matters from the point of view of nutrition and flavour. I personally find excessively lean meat dull, dry and flavourless – I far prefer to eat meat less often and to choose an organic bird or joint with a nice covering of fat. 

There are also ‘eggs and eggs’. I’m thrilled that the number of people keeping a few hens in their garden again is growing steadily. The quality of the eggs laid by genuine free range hens fed on scraps and organic meal, is quite different. According to research done in UCC among other places, they are significantly lower in cholesterol than intensively produced eggs.

Beans and pulses are also magical food, high in complex carbohydrates, low in fat, rich in minerals and an inexpensive source of protein and fibre, they also have a low glycemic index. Baked beans in tomato sauce are definitely nutritious but contain significant quantities of sugar and salt.

Layer 1 - And so we arrive at the top layer of the pyramid where we are rightly advised to go easy on cakes, biccies and high sugar drinks and snacks. We are urged to use low fat spreads, vegetable oils and very little butter. Surely, good Irish butter is more natural than margarine and spreads which are highly processed and made with addition of emulsifiers and preservatives and a containing a higher level of trans fats.

And while we are on the subject, why is no Irish dairy farmer making organic butter or cream. I really feel strongly about buying Irish and local and resent having to buy organic butter from Denmark. After all, we have the natural resources to produce the best dairy products in the world in Ireland, we can grow grass like nowhere else in the world.

Bought biscuits similar to those in the photo contain a long list of ingredients one wouldn’t normally have in the kitchen cupboard – emulsifiers and stabilizers…they contain high amounts of sugar, and sometimes chemically hardened fat, why aren’t we encouraging people to bake their own simple biscuits with wholesome ingredients - try these delicious flapjacks.

Oatmeal Biscuits

These nutritious biscuits keep very well in a tin. Children love to munch them with a banana. Don't compromise - make them with butter, because the flavour is immeasurably better.
Makes 24-32

1 lb (450g) rolled oatmeal (porridge oats)
12 ozs (340g) butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
8 ozs (225g) castor sugar

Swiss roll tin, 10 inches (25.5cm) x 15 inches (38cm)

Melt the butter, add the golden syrup and pure vanilla essence, stir in the castor sugar and oatmeal and mix well. Spread into a large Swiss roll tin and bake in a preheated moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, until golden and slightly caramelised - about 30 minutes. Cut into 24-32 squares while still warm.

Note: Make half the recipe if a 9 inch (23cm) x 13 inch (33cm) Swiss roll thin is used.

Variations
Chocolate Briskies
Cut the oatmeal biscuits into squares. When cool, dip diagonally into melted chocolate.

Coconut and Oatmeal Biscuits
Substitute ¾ oz of unsweetened desiccated coconut for 1 oz of oatmeal in the above recipe

Coconut and Chocolate or Raisin Biscuits
Add 1 oz chopped chocolate and or 1oz raisins to the above recipe. Reduce the oatmeal by 1 oz .

Oatmeal and Banana Crunch
For an instant pudding, cover an oatmeal biscuit with slices of banana, put a tiny dollop of cream on top and eat. Simply Delicious!

Oatmeal and Apple Crumble
Loose crumbs may be scattered over some stewed apple for an instant crumble.

Haricot or Flageolet Beans with Tomato and Rosemary

Serve as an accompaniment or as a vegetarian dish.
Serves 4-6

1 cup dried haricot beans or flageolet beans
Bouquet garni
1 onion
1 carrot
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 ozs (170g) chopped onion
4 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 x 14 oz (400g) tin tomatoes
1 large sprig rosemary chopped, approx 1 tablesp.
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, strain the beans and cover with fresh cold water, add a bouquet garni, carrot and onion, cover and simmer until the beans are soft but not mushy - anything from 30-60 minutes. Just before the end of cooking, add salt. Remove the bouquet garni and vegetables and discard. 

Meanwhile sweat the chopped onion gently in olive oil in a wide saucepan until soft but not coloured, approx. 7-8 minutes add the garlic and cook for another minute or two, add the chopped tomato and their juice, add the cooked beans, and chopped rosemary. Simmer for 10-15 minutes add some of the bean liquid if necessary and season well with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar.

Note: The mixture should be juicy but not swimming in liquid.

Gratin of Haricot Beans with Tomato and Rosemary

Put the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish. Scatter a mixture of buttered crumbs and grated cheese over the top and put into a hot oven or flash under a grill until crisp and golden on top.

Haricot or Flageolet Beans with Tomato and Rosemary with Chorizo

Add 1 chorizo, sliced, to the tomato base with the beans and rosemary.
Granola
A toasted grain cereal.
Serves 20

12 ozs (340g) honey
8 fl ozs (225g) oil eg. sunflower or arachide
1 lb 1 oz (370g) oat flakes
7 ozs (200g) barley flakes
7 ozs (200g) wheat flakes
3½ ozs (100g) rye flakes
5 ozs (140g) seedless raisins or sultanas
5 ozs (140g) peanuts/hazelnuts, or cashew nuts split and roasted
2¾ ozs (75g) wheatgerm and /or millet flakes
2 ozs (55g) chopped apricots, ½ cup chopped dates etc. are nice too

Mix oil and honey together in a saucepan, heat just enough to melt the honey. Mix well into the mixed flakes. Spread thinly on two baking sheets.

Bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 20-30 minutes, turning frequently, making sure the edges don't burn. It should be just golden and toasted, not roasted!

Allow to get cold. Mix in the raisins or sultanas, roasted nuts, toasted seeds, chopped dates, apricots and wheatgerm. Store in a screw top jar or a plastic box, keeps for 1-2 weeks.

Serve with sliced banana.

Crunchy Granola with Berries and Yoghurt Layered in a Glass

A cool way to serve breakfast in a glass – bursting with goodness and totally yummy.

Serves 2

250ml (8flozs) natural yoghurt (see recipe)
2 tablespoons honey
110g (4ozs) granola (see recipe)
110g (4ozs) blueberries, raspberries, frais du bois or even sliced banana

2 straight squat glasses, about 12.5cm (5 inches) tall

Mix the yoghurt and honey together. Divide about on third of the granola between the 2 glasses, top with on third of the yoghurt. Sprinkle half the berries over the top, then a layer of granola and finally yoghurt. 

Garnish with a few berries and perhaps a sprig of mint. Provide long-handled spoons

Divine Homemade Yoghurt


Makes 1.8 litres (3 pints)
Making one’s own yoghurt is very simple and satisfying thing to do.

2.4l (4 pint) full cream milk
150ml (1/4 pint) double cream
225g (8oz) live natural yoghurt

Place milk in large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and reduce by at least half, better still a third stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and pour the milk into a thick delph or pottery bowl. Add the cream and stir well. Allow to cool. When the milk has cooled to the point where you can hold your clean finger in it for a count of ten, add the yoghurt and stir well. If the milk is too hot when the yoghurt is added, it will kill the live bacteria. Cover with a tea towel or cling film. We leave it beside the Aga or put it in the cupboard over the boiler in the office. Sometimes it takes days to thicken. It will keep in the fridge for a week to ten days – Divine.

We serve this with apple blossom honey and toasted hazelnuts.
Tip: Don’t bother to make this with low fat milk
Foolproof Food

Beginners Wholemeal Bread

This is a more modern version of Soda Bread, couldn’t be simpler, just mix and pour into a well-greased tin.
This bread keeps very well for several days and is also great toasted.

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves

400g (14ozs) stone ground wholemeal flour
75g (3ozs) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 egg, preferably free range
1 tablespoon arachide or sunflower oil, unscented
1 teaspoon honey
425ml (15fl ozs) buttermilk or sourmilk approx. (put all the milk in)

Sunflower or sesame seeds optional
Loaf tin 23x12.5x5cm (9x5x2in)
Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.

Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey most of the buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approx, or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Health Bread
Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

Hot Tips 

The Irish Heart Foundation has linked up with the Restaurants Association of Ireland Panel of Chefs, and Euro-Toques who have provided tempting and easy to cook recipes which are available in a booklet free to the general public by calling 1850 364 364 

‘For a Happy Heart, portion size matters’ , is the theme once again for the Irish Heart Foundation annual ‘Happy Heart Eat Out’ campaign will take place for the month of June. We are focusing on portion size as its not just the quality and variety of food that’s important, but also how much we eat. The Irish Heart Foundation has also produced a colourful Eat Out pack available to eateries wishing to participate in the campaign www.irishheart.ie  or tel 01-6685001 or email jmorrissey@irishheart.ie

Blue Hill at Stone Barns

One of the most talked about restaurants in America today is in the centre of a working organic farm just 30 miles north of mid-town Manhattan up the Hudson River in the Pocantico Hills. Its called Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The farm is one of the many owned by the Rockefeller family. The beautiful Norman style stone barns were originally built in the 1930’s by John D. Rockefeller Junior as part of a vision of an economically sustainable family estate, and have been painstakingly renovated under the direction of David Rockefeller and Peggy Dulany.

The object of the exercise is to create a multi-purpose educational centre, restaurant and café so people can become more connected to the food they eat and learn about the reality of nature and food production. 

Locals can come and bring their kids to wander around the farms, watch the sheep and the happy lazy Berkshire pigs ranging freely. Kids who presume eggs come out of cardboard cartons are enchanted to watch the Rhode Island hens, Cornish White Chickens, Bourbon Red and Bronze turkeys scratching and foraging. They can peek into see where the eggs are laid in the nesting boxes at the back of the ‘egg mobile’ which moves around the fields after the sheep, to ensure that the poultry have a continuous supply of grass.

There’s also a herd of Finn Dorset sheep, rabbits and honey bees.

The educational centre runs regular classes in the vegetable garden and greenhouse. Locals can watch the sheep being shorn of their woolly winter coats and learn about spinning and curing the fleeces for sheepskin rugs.

The similarities between Stone Barns and the Ballymaloe Cookery School also set in the centre of an organic farm with pigs, Jersey cows, hens, geese, ducks and bees was uncanny.

I’d been looking forward to visiting ever since I met Adam Kaye in a chance encounter a few years ago. Dan Barber and his wife run the restaurant and café with a huge team of passionate young people. Can you imagine what a joy it is for a chef to have a restaurant in the middle of a farm with all that wonderful seasonal produce at his doorstep to cook with. Irene Hamburger showed me around the farm as the last of the snow was melting after the St Patrick’s weekend blizzards, and then Dan cooked me a Taste Menu which celebrates the season at Stone Barns. The restaurant is in the converted dairy. First we had two little tiny raw fresh carrots and two equally weeny bok choy to nibble on. This was followed by a plate of charcuterie, then came some sesame cardoon lollipops.

Dan is an enthusiastic proponent of sous-vide cooking, so the hake and coddled egg and the Berkshire pork that followed had been cooked in this way. Fans of this type of cooking which was invented in France about 30 years ago say that all the flavour is sealed inside the plastic bag in which it is cooked, usually immersed in lukewarm water. The texture stays soft and tender, the colour scarcely changes and despite all of that I don’t love the result.

I can see how sous vide is certainly convenient for chefs and many top chefs are now experimenting with it, but I find the texture very strange, fish feels and to my palate tastes on the wrong side of underdone, pork, duck and chicken the same. I’ve decided I miss the texture and the caramelisation of the juices that happens when food is grilled or roasted.

The Troisgros Brothers in Roanne in France have used this method to cook foie since the 1970’s and many other three-star chefs have used sous-vide very successfully in their kitchens, and it is widely used in industrial food production. Dan’s food was very interesting but I was somehow expecting something much simpler.

When I walked into the beautiful dining room I was delighted and amazed to find the original Shanagarry Pottery on the tables, it looked so beautiful on the linen runners on the oak and walnut tables. Irene told me they searched long and hard for something handmade, yet simple and sophisticated, so they chose the elegant original black and white and stone pottery designed by Philip Pearce in the 1960’s.

Stone Barn is just a 40 minute train ride from Grand Central Station in New York on the Metro North Hudson Line to Tarrytown, well worth a detour. For more information www.stonebarns.center.org  

Blue Hill at Stone Barns 630 Bedford Road Pocantico Hills, New York 10591
Telephone 001 914 366 9600 Fax 001 914 366 7020

Berries and Semolina Pudding

– 8 portions
Dan Barber – blue hill at stone barns

1 quart whole milk
1/2 orange – zest
1/2 lemon – zest
1 vanilla bean – split and pulp removed
1 cup semolina
5 farm fresh eggs - separated
1/4 lb butter
6 oz sugar
4 cups strawberries – quartered or any other seasonal berry found at the
farmers market

preheat oven to 325

1. in a medium saucepan and over low heat, combine milk, orange and lemon zest, and vanilla bean pulp, and bring to a boil
2. gradually whisk in semolina until mixture thickens
3. add yolks and butter. once butter has melted and is completely incorporated, remove from heat. transfer batter to a large mixing bowl
4. in a separate bowl, combine sugar and egg whites. whisk until soft peaks are formed
5. fold egg whites into semolina batter
6. butter a 9” x 13” bcking pan and dust with semolina. add pudding
7. bake for 30 minutes at 325
8. remove pudding from oven and cool until ready to serve
9. to serve: cut pudding into 8 portions and top with seasonal berries

Summer Salad

Dan Barber – blue hill at stone barns
6 farm fresh almond soft-fried eggs (recipe to follow) (or lightly poached)
3 cups mixed micro or baby greens – arugula, beets shoots, kale, whatever you can find at your farmers market

1 cup mixed herbs – parsley, tarragon, chervil, thyme, mint, cilantro, chives – again, whatever you can find at your farmers market
1/2 cup shelled and roasted pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup lemon vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
salt and peper
pepper

1. in a large bowl, toss together the baby fennel, pistachios, greens and herbs. add lemonette to taste and season with salt and pepper
2. to serve: divide salad into individual bowls and top with poached egg
lemon vinaigrette
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lemon oil (recipe below)
1/2 t dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1. in a medium bowl combine mustard and lemon juice. slowly whisk in lemon oil and olive oil.
season to taste.

lemon oil
1 qts canola oil
4 pc lemon zest
1/4 bunch lemon thyme
1/4 stick lemongrass
in a medium saucepan combine all ingredients. place over a very low heat for 1 hour. do not let
oil boil. remove from heat, cool and strain. refrigerate until ready to use.

Almond Soft-Fried Egg

6 large eggs
3/4 cup Panko style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely ground almonds
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable/Peanut oil for frying

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, gently add the eggs and cook for 6 minutes. Immediately remove the eggs and immerse in a bowl of ice water until cold: carefully peel and set aside.
In the first of three medium bowls, combine the Panko, almonds, parmesan, salt and pepper. In the second bowl, whip the eggs until smooth; in the third bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.
To coat the eggs; first roll the cold, soft cooked eggs in the flour, shaking to remove any excess.
Dip the eggs in the beaten egg mixture, then in the crumb mixture, rolling until completely coated.
Repeat with a second coating of beaten egg and crumb mixture. Using your hands, press the crumb mixture around the eggs to secure the coating. You can prepare the eggs to this stage and store refrigerated for up to 4 hours.
To cook the coated eggs; heat about 3 inches of oil to 350°F in a medium saucepan. Carefully add the eggs and cook, turning, until golden brown and heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately with greenhouse salad, fennel and apricots.

Pistou of Summer Vegetables

Serves 12
Ingredients
1/2 lb. Asparagus, cut into 1/2” pieces and blanched
1/2 lb. Fava beans, blanched and cleaned
1/4 lb. Peas, blanched
1 bunch Basil, cleaned and blanched
1 cup Olive oil
2 cups Vegetable stock
1 Shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup Chopped herbs

Procedures
1.Combine blanched vegetables. Place half of the vegetable in a blender with the blanched basil. Puree adding olive oil.
2. In a large saucepan, sweat shallots until translucent. Add blanched vegetables. Add puree of vegetables. Add vegetable stock until desired consistency. Season to taste.

Fettucine with Irish Asparagus

The season for fresh Irish asparagus is May and June so now is the time to make this deliciously rich recipe. Look out for it at your nearest Farmers Market or greengrocer. Don’t attempt to use out-of-season asparagus which has been flown around the globe.
Serves 4

225g (8oz) fettucine or fresh noodles
16 spears of fresh Irish asparagus, trimmed
250ml (8fl oz) cream
75g (3oz) butter, diced
150g (5oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano
Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper

First cook the pasta: Bring 4.8 litres (8 pints) water to the boil, add 2 tablespoons dairy salt or sea salt and tip the pasta in all at once and stir well to ensure the strands are separate, then cover the pan just long enough to bring the water back to the boil. Cook until al dente (fresh pasta 1-2 minutes, dried pasta see instructions on packet, but test 2-3 minutes before suggested time).

Drain the pasta immediately. Don’t overdrain. Fresh pasta and all long pasta, should still be wet and slippery. 

Meanwhile cook the asparagus in very little water for 4-5 minutes or until almost cooked when the tip of a knife pierces the root end easily. Drain.

Next make the sauce: Heat the cream in a wide saucepan or sauté pan, add the butter and simmer over a medium heat for a minute or two until the cream and butter are incorporated and slightly thickened. Add the cheese and lots of freshly ground pepper. Taste and add salt. Toss in the drained pasta.
Slice the still warm asparagus at an angle, keep the tip intact. Scatter over the top of the pasta, toss gently and serve immediately in hot pasta bowls. 

Foolproof Food

Crunchy Rhubarb Crumble

Crumbles are comfort food, vary the fruit according to the season. Now is the time to use lovely fresh Irish rhubarb.
Serves 6-8

1½ lbs (675g) rhubarb, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) lengths
1½ -2 ozs (45-55g) sugar

Crumble
4 ozs (110g) white flour, preferably unbleached
2 ozs (55g) butter
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar
2 ozs (55g) chopped or slivered unpeeled almonds
2 pint (1.1L) capacity pie dish

Stew the rhubarb gently with the sugar in a covered casserole or stainless steel saucepan until about half cooked. 

Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn into a pie dish. Allow to cool slightly while you make the crumble. 

Rub the butter into the flour just until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs, add the sugar and almonds. Sprinkle this mixture over the apple in the pie dish. Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 30-45 minutes or until the topping is cooked and golden. Serve with whipped cream and soft brown sugar.

Serve with cream or ice-cream.

Variation: Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble.

Stew two-thirds the amount of rhubarb with the sugar, stir in one-third sliced strawberries and proceed as above.

Hot Tips

Good Food Ireland Guide Book and map now available online and good bookshops-
Places to eat, stay or visit – www.goodfoodireland.ie  Tel 053 9158693 Email:reservations@goodfoodireland.ie  

Bewley’s launches exclusive Cup of Excellence coffees
Cup of Excellence coffees are some of the world’s finest and rarest coffees, which have at last arrived in Ireland, sourced and roasted exclusively by Bewleys in Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Nicaragua – available in extremely limited quantities. Each country’s individual Cup of Excellence coffee is now being featured at Bewley’s Grafton St. in Dublin. 

New Gubbeen Cheese Oatcakes

From grass to cattle to milk to cheese & biscuits. Over the past 30 years cheesemakers, Tom and Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen Farm Dairy, Schull, West Cork, have created their award winning cheeses. Now they have combined their skills with those of fellow artisan, Baker Robert Ditty in Northern Ireland – they are putting together the finest rolled oats from Co Armagh with Gubbeen Cheese and have produced delicious Cheese Oatcakes – available nationwide or call Giana at 028-28231 –overnight delivery available - cheese@gubbeen.com  www.gubbeen.com  

Learn How to Grow your own Organic Vegetables

Beginners Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables with Rupert Hugh Hones at Ballymaloe Cookery School on 8th & 14th May Tel 021-4646785 www.cookingisfun.ie 

The Greenbox, Ireland’s first ecotourism destination plans to host a series of events to celebrate International Biodiversity Day on May 22nd.

This year’s theme is biodiversity and climate change. To celebrate the day, the Greenbox ecotourism project, in conjunction with the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim, is organizing a series of awareness-raising events. 

Seminar on climate change and biodiversity in the Organic Centre 
Guided peatland walk in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark 
Screening of the film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (Academy Award winning documentary that has sparked a global debate about climate change) in Manorhamilton and a pub quiz. 
Contact: Ollie in the Greenbox office, Tel 071-9856898, info@greenbox.ie  or www.greenbox.ie

The irrepressible Antony-Worrall Thompson

We have just had the irrepressible Antony-Worrall Thompson here as our guest chef at the school. Antony has a loyal Irish following who came to see him demonstrate some of his latest recipes, including the secrets of GI food.
Well known from his many television programmes Antony is one of the few established chefs who ‘walk the walk’ as well
as ‘talking the talk’. Now owning five restaurants the Greyhound, the Lamb, Barnes Grill, Kew Grill and Notting Grill, he is also passionate about organic farming and rears his own middle white pigs at home in Henley-on-Thames and serves the pork in the restaurants. He also has an extensive vegetable garden producing a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs.

Antony presents six television programmes a week and had to rush back on Friday evening for his regular appearance on Saturday Kitchen in the morning which he has been presenting since 2003. He is the resident studio chef and main presenter for BBC2’s Food & Drink programme and also appears on the ever popular Ready Steady Cook. Earlier this year he was one of the favourite participants in the programme ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.

Antony has written several cookbooks including the more recent Healthy Eating for Diabetes, and Well Fed, Well Bred, Well Hung – how to buy and cook real meat. The Saturday Kitchen Cookbook, Barbecues and Grilling with Jane Suthering, and top 100 Beef Recipes are all hugely popular. He is currently working on a children’s cookbook and is increasingly in demand by broadcasters to comment on and discuss serious food issues such as diabetes, obesity, nutrition and the eating habits of children.

Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School we have a special ‘claim’ on Antony as his lovely wife Jay who hails from Dublin was a former pupil of ours who went to work for Antony in London on completion of the 12 week Certificate Course. They live with their two children and an assortment of animals in the countryside on the banks of the Thames. 

As well as his energetic professional lifestyle he manages to find time for his art, antiques, tennis and swimming (he swum the Channel when he was sixteen.) 

Have a look at www.awtonline.co.uk  to join the awt club or visit the awt shop and catch up with this busy chef at the various events he is involved in.

Spiced Lentil Salad with Prawns and Mint Yogurt
Serves 4
200g (7ozs) puy lentils, cooked until just tender, drained and kept warm
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
20 raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact 
2 handfuls (about 50g/2ozs) baby spinach leaves
100g (3 ½ ozs) green beans, blanched
freshly ground black pepper

Mint Yogurt Dip
2 x 150g (6ozs) tubs low fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons freshly chopped mint

In a bowl, mix the warm lentils, spring onions, vinegar, chilli, ground spices, coriander and 1 tablespoon oil. Add pepper and set aside.

Mix the remaining oil, turmeric and some pepper in another bowl and turn the prawns in the mixture to coat them. Preheat a non-stick frying pan. Cook the prawns for 3 minutes, turning once, until opaque. 

Mix the dip ingredients together.

Divide the spinach between four plates, top with the lentils, green beans and prawns and drizzle with the dip.

Almond and Apricot Pavlova Slice

Serves 8–10
3 tablespoons ground almonds
5 large egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
250g (9ozs) golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon natural almond extract
25g (1oz) amaretti biscuits, crushed
125g (4 ½ oz) ready-to-eat dried apricots, diced

Filling
300g (11ozs) low fat Greek yogurt
1 ripe peach, stoned and thinly sliced
1 medium mango, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large orange, segmented and all pith and membrane removed

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line a shallow 35cm x 25cm baking tray with non-stick baking parchment to come at least 3cm up the sides.

In a dry non-stick frying pan, toast the ground almonds over a medium heat, stirring all the time until golden.

Whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff then whisk in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until you have one spoonful left. Mix the cornflour into that and whisk into the egg whites until stiff and glossy. Whisk in the vinegar and almond extract and finally fold in the toasted almonds, amaretti and apricots.

Spread the mixture into the prepared baking tray and level the surface. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Cook for 25 minutes until pale golden and crisp on top. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and allow to cool.

Remove from the tray, trim the edges and cut across the shorter side to make 3 equal pieces. Spread each piece with yogurt and layer on the fruit. Sandwich together, press down gently, then cut in slices to serve.

Spicy Pork Ribs

Serves 4
1.5kg (3lbs 5ozs) trimmed pork spare rib chops
chicken stock to cover 
5 x 10p coin sized slices of fresh ginger
2 chillies sliced in half 
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 spring onions, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce 
180ml (6 ½fl ozs) ketchup manis
1 egg, beaten lightly
35g (1 ¼ozs) plain flour 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
125ml (4 fl ozs) rice wine 
115g (4 ozs) packed brown sugar 
50g (2 ozs) yellow mustard seeds
3 tablespoons loosely packed chopped fresh coriander 
3 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes 
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika pepper 

Place the ribs in a large saucepan with the ginger, chillies, garlic, spring onions and soy sauce. Cover with chicken stock and simmer for 1 and half hours or until the ribs are tender. Allow to cool in the stock. Drain and pat dry with kitchen towel. 

Blend 3 fl oz of the ketchup manis with the egg and flour in a large bowl. Add ribs; stir to coat in soy mixture. 
Heat oil in wok or large frying pan; stir fry the ribs in batches until browned all over. Remove and set aside. 

Cook remaining soy sauce and remaining ingredients in wok; stirring until sugar dissolves. Return ribs to wok; stir fry till heated though. 

Serve with steamed rice.

Mackerel or Seabass Flaked with Vegetables and Scrambled Egg

Serves 4
4 very fresh mackerel fillets, pin bones removed
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
4 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water, sliced
2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, peeled and grated 
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped 
2 tablespoons sake 
2 tablespoons caster sugar 
2 tablespoons mirin
5 tablespoons soy sauce 
4 free range eggs, beaten 
55g (2 ozs) mangetout blanched 
55g (2 ozs) extra fine beans, blanched 

Scrape the mackerel flesh from the skin with a spoon and chop roughly, set aside.

Heat three quarters of the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and carrot and cook without colour for 5 minutes. Add the shitake, ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the mackerel and cook for one minute until it turns opaque. Add half the sake, three quarters of the sugar, the mirin and soy sauce and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

Meanwhile beat the eggs with the remainder of the sake and the sugar, season. Heat a little oil in a wok until very hot, then pour in the eggs and cook very fast until set like scrambled eggs, add the beans and the mangetout. 

Place on a dish and top with the mackerel. Serve with rice if required. 

Asian Chicken and Lettuce Rolls

Serves 4
400g (14ozs) chicken mince 
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced 
2 spring onions, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, crushed 
1 teaspoon grated ginger 
1 teaspoon sesame oil 
25g (1oz) water chestnuts or beansprouts, chopped 
2 tablespoons chopped coriander 
2 tablespoons chopped cashew nuts 
1 carrot, finely diced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce 
2 teaspoons clear honey 
16–20 romaine or cos lettuce leaves 
200g (7ozs) brown basmati rice, cooked, to serve
lime wedges, to serve 

Mix the chicken mince with the chilli, spring onions, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and cook the mince mixture for about 5 minutes, breaking the meat up with the back of a fork until golden brown. 

Add the water chestnuts, coriander, cashews, carrot, oyster sauce and honey, stir to combine and continue to heat until the chicken is cooked through. 
Serve the mince with the lettuce leaves, cooked rice and lime wedges to squeeze. 

Prawns in Chilli Sauce

Serves 4
12 raw jumbo prawns, shell off, tail on 
4 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
2 tablespoons groundnut oil 
4 spring onions, half chopped, half shredded
1 chilli, seeded and cut in fine julienne 
1 tablespoon grated ginger
½ tablespoon grated garlic
1 tablespoon chilli jam or paste 
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
2 tablespoons cornflour, mixed with a little water

For the sauce 
200ml (⅓ pint) boiling chicken stock
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar 

Toss the prawns with the mirin, seasame oil, salt and pepper, marinate for 20 minutes. 
Combine the sauce ingredients. Place the shredded spring onions and the chilli in ice water. 

Heat a wok then add the groundnut oil, add the chopped spring onions the ginger and garlic and fry stirring continuously for 2 minutes to release the aromas. Add the chilli jam or paste and continue to combine. 

Now add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes, remove the prawns and keep warm. Add the sauce and bring to the boil add the coriander and cornflour paste and cook to thicken. Return the prawns to the pan and heat through. 

Serve immediately.

Spicy Sardines with Chickpea and Avocado Salad

Serves 4
For the Chickpea and Avocado Salad
yolk of 1 hard-boiled egg, sieved
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon small capers, drained and rinsed 
1 x 400g (14 ozs) tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped into chunky dice
salt and ground black pepper

For the Sardines
25g (1 oz) unsalted butter
1 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coriander, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a little salt
1 fresh red chilli, diced
2 shallots, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil + a little extra for drizzling
8 sardines, cleaned, flattened out and backbone removed and washed thoroughly
juice of 1 lemon

To make the salad place the egg yolk in a bowl, beat in the oil and vinegar and stir in the onion, garlic, parsley, capers, chickpeas and avocado. Season to taste.

To cook the sardines heat the butter in a small pan, add the chilli and shallots and cook until softened but not coloured. Fold in parsley, coriander, garlic, chilli, shallots, season with salt and ground black pepper, sprinkle with olive oil and spread over the flesh side of the fish.

Roll up the sardines and secure with wooden cocktail sticks, (ensure that you have soaked the cocktail sticks in water first, to stop them from burning).Place in a pre-heated oven 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and cook for 5-8 minutes. Place the sardines on to a plate and drizzle with oil and lemon juice. 
To serve, place a pile of avocado salad onto each serving plate and place two sardine rolls on top.

Foolproof Food

Baked Apples with Fruit and Nuts

Serves 4
4 large Bramley cooking apples
115g (4ozs) soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons sweet mincemeat
55g (2ozs) flaked almonds or chopped pecans
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins
25g (1oz) unsalted butter
apple juice for basting

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas mark 5.

Remove the centre core from the apples, leaving 5mm (¼ inch) uncut at the bottom. Run the tip of a sharp knife round the circumference of the apple, just to pierce the skin. This stops the apples bursting in the oven.

Combine the remaining ingredients except the butter and juice, and spoon it into the cavities of the apples, place any excess in the bottom of a buttered baking dish. Place the apples on the fruit in the dish, dot the top with butter and pop in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Every 10 minutes add two tablespoons of apple juice to the bottom of the dish and spoon the juices over the apples. 
Serve piping hot with double or clotted cream.

Hot Tips

Four Rivers Slow Food Convivium
Sunday Slow Food Lunch at Dunbrody, Campile, Co Wexford on 20th May
Wine reception at noon followed by relaxing lunch of local produce. Meet with local growers, farmers, meat producers and chefs from local restaurants. Children welcome. Booking essential. Contact Donal Lehane – lehane@iol.ie Tel 087-6780014, 051-396288

The Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co Cork
Has just celebrated 35 years in business – visit the shop for a terrific range of kitchen utensils, pottery, knitwear….. have coffee and cake or a tasty snack in The Café at the Back of the Shop – Tel 021-4652032

The Café at the Stephen Pearce Gallery– Tel 021-4646807
Another place for a treat in Shanagarry – morning coffee, delicious light lunches, afternoon tea – this busy little café is run by Maura Walsh and is highly popular with locals dropping in as well as pottery shoppers.

Clodagh McKenna, and the rise and rise of the Farmers Market

You all know how delighted I am by the rise and rise of the Farmers Market movement, not only in Ireland but all over the world – UK, US, Australia, New Zealand…… Everywhere there seems to be the same craving for fresh local food in season.

Ordinary food retail is static while the demand for artisan and specialist foods continues to escalate. There’s a growing awareness of food miles, animal welfare issues and the impact of our carbon footprint on the environment. There is substantial growth in the demand for organic produce and local is the sexiest word in food, from California to Auckland. 

The Country Market movement has been producing this kind of food for their many devotees for years, safeguarding the old food traditions of our country. In recent years the farmers markets have increased the number of options and added to the long established markets in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and of course the much-loved English Market in Cork City.

It’s now almost twelve years since I first visited the farmers market in a parking lot in San Francisco. I was so inspired, it seemed the perfect solution for local people desperate to source local food. The farmers and food producers can get the full price for their products which enables them to earn a sustainable living on the land when selling directly to their customers.

Inspired by Sybille Krauss’s San Francisco Market, my mother-in-law Myrtle Allen and Caroline Robinson (now chairman of the Irish Food Markets Traders Association), Frank Hederman of Belvelly Smokehouse, and a few other members of the Cork Free Choice Consumer Group, started Ireland’s first ‘new age’ farmers market on the Coal Quay in Cork in 1996. It was great fun and necessitated an early start, leaving Shanagarry at 6.30am in the morning. Caroline Robinson still trades there and has an ever-increasing band of loyal customers on Saturday morning for her beautiful produce. There are now over 115 farmers markets in Ireland. The Midleton Farmers Market which is celebrating its seventh birthday at the Whit Weekend, has now moved across the road into the Fair Green, a serviced paved area provided by the Town Council. 

Clodagh McKenna, acclaimed cook, presenter and food writer, did a 12 week Certificate Cookery course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in January 2000. She worked alongside Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House and became more and more passionate about good food and the Slow Food Movement. Her regular columns on food and her radio programmes, reflect her commitment. Over the past year Clodagh has travelled the length and breadth of the country, visiting farmers markets with David Hare’s ‘Inproduction’ television crew, meeting stallholders, producers and customers and generally recording the buzz and excitement that characterizes the farmers’ market scene. Fresh from the Farmers Market, the 8-part series sponsored by Bord Bia will start on Wednesday 25th April at 7.30pm on RTE 1, The Irish Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Clodagh McKenna, published by Collins to accompany the series, is already in the shops. The series was launched in Dublin recently by Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan who was fulsome in her praise and support for the Farmers Market initiative. 

Speaking at the event, Angela Kennedy, Chairman, Bord Bia, commented “The farmers market system benefits small food producers and farmers, providing unique direct access to consumers for their produce. The farmers market system also has strong potential to benefit a growing number of farmers who choose to sell direct to consumers and to retain profit within the farm gate.”

This new television series will give a great boost to the markets movement and here are some delicious recipes from Clodagh’s book.

Roast Asparagus, Knocklara and Mint Salad

Roasting the asparagus really intensifies and sweetens the flavour as it removes the natural moisture. Knocklara is a beautiful goat’s cheese, similar to feta, made by Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz in County Waterford.
Serves 4

850g (30 oz) asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
75g (2½ oz) hazelnuts, chopped
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Juice of 1lemon
Mixed salad leaves, (eg. rocket, cos, frisee or oak’s lettuce)
250g (9 oz) Knocklara (or feta), crumbled

Toss the asparagus and chopped hazelnuts in 2 tbsp olive oil. Salt lightly and place on a baking tray. Cook in a preheated oven at 200C/400F/gas mark 6 for 12-15 minutes. Remove and cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, pepper and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the green leaves together with the cooled asparagus and toss gently together. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle the cheese over the top and serve.

Mini Pavlovas with Sweet Geranium-Infused Rhubarb

Makes 4 small or 1 large
3 egg whites
175g (6oz) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Whipped cream

For the rhubarb:
150g (5oz) rhubarb, cut into 5cm (2in) sections
50g (2oz) caster sugar
2 sweet geranium leaves (see tip)
70ml (2½ fl.oz) water

Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean bowl until stiff, and then whisk in the sugar gradually until the egg whites have a glossy shine. Fold in the cornflour, vinegar and vanilla extract.

Divide the meringue mixture into 4 heaps on the baking paper and, with a spoon, shape and swirl each one into a circle, leaving a dip in the centre.

(Alternatively, you can make 1 pavlova by spooning the meringue onto the baking paper in one heap.) Cook in a preheated oven at 150C,300F. Gas Mark 2 for 40 minutes until the meringue is pale brown and dry on the outside but soft in the inside.

Meanwhile, stew the rhubarb gently with the sugar, sweet geranium leaves and water in a covered pan, until the rhubarb is cooked but not mushy. Leave to cool.

Arrange the individual pavlovas on 4 serving plates. Place a big dollop of whipped cream in the centre of each one and then arrange the rhubarb on top. Serve with the sweet stewing liquid.

Tip: If you don’t have any sweet geranium leaves you can use lemon balm leaves instead, but it’s well worth hunting them out or growing your own. Use any spare leaves as a decorative garnish.

Courgette and Lemon Salad

Every year there is a glut of courgettes at the market. This is a very simple but really delicious way to use them up. I particularly love eating this salad with roast chicken.
Serves 4

3 medium courgettes
Juice of 1 lemon
50ml (2 fl.oz) extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the courgettes very thinly, using a mandolin if you have one. Place a saucepan of water over a high heat, and when the water comes to the boil, drop in the courgettes and cook for about 1 minute (just to blanch them). Drain in a colander and wrap them in a clean tea towel to dry them off.

Arrange them on a serving dish, pour over a drizzle of olive oil and the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Cashel Blue, Caramelised Onion and Thyme Pizza

Once you’ve got over the scary thought of making your own pizza base, you’re free to experiment with all different types of toppings, such as classic fresh tomatoes with cheese or spicy chorizo and Parmesan. However, my favourite topping is this combination.
Makes 1 pizza, serves 2

6g (⅓ oz) fresh yeast
200ml (7 fl.oz) tepid water
100g (3½ oz) plain white flour
20g (¾ oz) butter
2 medium onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thinly
50ml (2 fl.oz) olive oil
150g (5oz) Cashel Blue cheese, or other strong blue cheese
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the fresh yeast into a small bowl and cover with 100ml of the water and leave to dissolve for 5 minutes. Place the flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre and pour the dissolved yeast into the centre. Then add a pinch of salt and mix in the flour from the sides. Add approximately 100ml of water and mix into a dough. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough by pushing the dough away from the back of your hand until you reach a light consistency. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and place in a warm place for approximately 3 hours to allow the dough to rise.

While the dough is rising you can get your toppings ready. Place a saucepan over a medium heat and add in the butter, when the butter has melted add in the onions, cover and leave to sweat for about 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, turn up the heat and stir the onions until they become lovely and brown. Tip the onions into a bowl and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. When the dough has risen tip out onto a floured board and roll out to make a circular pizza shape, I like my pizzas thin so I roll it to about 5mm (¼ in) thick. Then brush the pizza base with some olive oil, spread the onions out all over the base, crumble the blue cheese on top, and sprinkle over the finely chopped thyme. Season with salt and pepper, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

Mairead’s Sticky Toffee Pudding with Hazelnut Toffee Sauce

Clodagh’s sister Mairead gave her this recipe as she thought it would be a great seller at the market, and it was!
Serves 6

350g (12oz) fresh dates, stoned (use dried dates if you can’t find fresh)
300ml (10 fl.oz) boiling water
100g (3½ oz) butter
300g (10oz) dark brown sugar
3 medium eggs
400g (14oz) self-raising flour, sieved
½ tsp. bicarbonate of soda

For the hazelnut toffee sauce:
600ml (1 pint) double cream
250g (9oz) dark brown sugar
100g (3½ oz) butter
30g (1oz) hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Place the dates in a saucepan with the boiling water, and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes or until the dates are soft. Drain and then whiz the dates in a blender until they have a smooth consistency.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until creamy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the blended dates, then fold in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and mix well.

Grease a 20cm (8in ) spring form tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Pour in the mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 170C/325F/gas mark 3 for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Pour half of the cream into a saucepan and stir in the brown sugar and butter. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently. When the sauce looks golden, stir in the remaining cream and half of the hazelnuts.

Turn out the cooked sponge onto a serving dish. Pour over the hazelnut toffee sauce and sprinkle the remaining hazelnuts on top. Delicious served with cream or vanilla ice cream.

Roasted Aubergine Dip

Creamy and spicy, this aubergine dip is similar to the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush. It is fantastic served with toasted pitta bread.
Makes approx. 150ml (5 fl.oz)

1 large aubergine
50ml (2 fl.oz) olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 garlic clove, peeled
50g (2oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 black olives, pitted
Salt and freshly grated black pepper

Place the aubergine in a roasting pan and drizzle some olive oil on top. Use your hands to coat it in the oil. Cook in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool. Chop into large chunks.

In a frying pan, dry-roast the cumin for 2 minutes or until you can smell the aroma from the spice. Place the aubergine, garlic, grated Parmesan, olives, cumin seeds and a splash of olive oil in a blender, and blend to a smooth consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Foolproof Food

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

ny market you visit in Ireland will have this for sale. Its really easy to make, keeps well and, most importantly, tastes great with a cuppa.
Makes 9-12 depending on how big you cut your squares

175g (6oz) butter
2 tbsp. golden syrup
250g (9oz) dark chocolate (55-79% cocoa solids), cut into pieces
280g (10oz) rich tea biscuits
85g (3oz) raisins
85g (3oz) chopped roasted hazelnuts

Lightly grease a 23cm (9in) cake tin.

Melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave or in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a very low heat, then stir until smooth.

Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin, but leave some slightly larger chunks, and tip into the melted chocolate mixture with the raisins and hazelnuts. Stir well.

Spoon the chocolate mixture into the prepared tin, pressing it down well to get a smooth, even surface. When cool, chill in the fridge, then serve cut into squares.


Hot Tips

For further information on country markets and farmers markets near you visit
www.irelandmarkets.com  www.bordbia.ie  


Biodiversity Day at Irish Seedsavers, Scariff, Co Clare on 20th May 12-5
will be a celebration of the work at the ISSA, preserving native varieties of heritage fruit trees, grains and seeds.
Workshops will be running throughout the day on Native fruit varieties, 
vegetable seed processing, rare Irish grains, planting organic garden, 
bee keeping, rare poultry, horse ploughing, cob building, children's 
activities including nature walks, wildlife drawing and a puppet show. 
There will be live music and a full organic cafe and coffee shop open all day. This event will be advertised locally as well as nationally.
Shuttle buses from Scariff to the centre.
www.irishseedsavers.ie  
 

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