Murray’s Cheese Shop at Grand Central

Grand Central Station Terminal in New York used to be so grotty, paint peeling from the ceiling, a few dingy shops, a 99cent store and a few basic services for commuters like shoe shine stands. Commuters hurried through on the way to the trains, no reason to dally, nothing to distract or amuse if one’s train was delayed.
All that changed radically when the station was painstakingly renovated in the mid-nineties When it reopened in 1998 it was a whole new scene, lots of ‘upscale’ retail outlets to tempt the semi-captive 700,000 commuters who pass through daily. They responded with enthusiasm . Travellers are now building in a little extra time to visit the restaurants and shops.

Murray’s Cheese Shop, Pescatore Seafood company and Koglein German Royal Hams are just three of the speciality food shops within an area called Grand Central Market. . New York cheese guru Rob Kaufeld who runs Murray’s Cheese Shop is one of 90 retailers, food merchants and restaurateurs who have been doing a brisk business at Grand Central Station since it reopened. My daughter Emily spent a Summer’s break ‘chopping cheese’ at Murray’s Cheese Shop. She loved the camaraderie between the stall holders and was greatly amused by the frenetic jewel encrusted New Yorkers dashing in to buy some low fat cheese on the way home – Murrays, quite rightly, didn’t sell any ‘low fat’ cheese so she encouraged them in her soft Irish lilt to buy some Irish farmhouse cheese, perhaps a deliciously pungent Ardrahan or a toothsome wedge of Cashel Blue. Philip Dennhardt worked on the German meat stall next door to Murrays and sold copious quantities of cured meat, sausages and German salad.

This area has become one of the hippest areas to do one’s food shopping in New York. Its so blindingly obvious to site artisan food shops in a busy transit hub. Retailers at Grand Central are delighted with their semi-captive audience. Annual return per square foot in Grand Central Market where rent costs about €200 per square foot is about $2000, as opposed to malls where the return might be $1400 or a shopping centre $500 - $800 per square foot. There are now 22 restaurants to choose from, kids spots like Junior’s Dishes to the recently opened Ciao Bella Gelateria in the lower dining concourse, most like Paninoteca who make great panini, offer take-out only.

The drawback for the traders at Grand Central is that business seems to be almost exclusively tied to office hours and schedules of urban commuters.

Jerry Bocchino of the Pescatore Seafood Company says that 80% of their business is done between 4.30pm and 8pm and weekends are still not where he’d like them to be.

Here are some typical New York recipes From The New York Cookbook by Molly O’Neill –published by Workman Publishing Co. New York. The recipes are written in American cup measurements – 1 cup = 8fl.oz

Eileen’s Honey Walnuts

Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, is a cookbook author and a cooking instructor at The China Institute in New York City – ‘In China, honey walnuts are served with cold platters or sometimes as complementary nibbles for cocktails – many people enjoy them with their afternoon tea.
350g(¾ lb) freshly shelled walnut halves
2 tablespoons sugar
700 – 900ml (24-32 fl.oz /3-4 cups) peanut oil

Bring 900ml-1.2L (1½ - 2pints/4 - 5 cups) of water to the boil in a wok or medium-size saucepan over high heat. Add the walnuts and boil for 5 minutes (to remove the bitter taste). Strain out the walnuts and then run cold water over them. Strain again then return the nuts to the wok.

Add (900ml/32fl.oz/4 cups) of fresh water and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Repeat the straining process. Set the nuts aside to drain.

Wash the wok. Then add 50ml(2fl.oz1/3 cups) of cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat. Add the sugar and boil, constantly stirring, for 1 minute. Add the walnuts. Stir and cook until the walnuts are coated with sugar and the remaining liquid has evaporated.

Remove the walnuts and set aside on a well-greased baking sheet. Wash the wok with extremely hot water to remove the sugar. Dry thoroughly.

Heat the of peanut oil in the wok over a high heat until very hot (you will see a wisp of white smoke). Carefully add the walnuts and fry until golden brown 2 to 3 minutes.

Mardee’s Yogurt Chutney

This chutney makes a great dip for cruditées, topping for rice or baked potatoes, or condiment for grilled meat or fish.
Serves 6

350ml (12fl.oz/1 ½ cups) plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped Scallion
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Cardamom seeds from 6 pods
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth. Stir in all of the rest of the ingredients, adding more of any to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavours develop.

Serve the chutney with grilled fish, chicken, or lamb, as a topping for potatoes or rice or as a spread inside a pita pocket. The chutney keeps for up to 2 weeks if covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator.

Grandma Dora’s Chopped Liver

The secret to this dish is boiling the livers and chopping each ingredient by hand in a wooden bowl or on a chopping board, best served on rye bread.
450g (1lb) chicken livers, cleaned and rinsed
1 white onion, finely chopped
6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
About 2 tablespoons melted butter (or rendered chicken fat)
Dash of paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

Immerse the livers in plenty of boiling water, cover and boil gently until the livers are firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Chill in the refrigerator for 40 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, chop the livers to a smooth paste. Using a wooden spoon, mix together half of the liver, onion, and eggs. Add the remaining liver, onion and eggs and stir to combine completely. Add enough of the melted butter to moisten and hold the liver together. Add the paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Zabar’s Scallion Cream Cheese Spread

The bagel is one of New York’s typical brunch favourites, this silky scallion cream cheese spread comes from Zabar’s , Manhattan’s Upper West Side’s famous food emporium. The spread is simple and addictive and can be used as a dip, a spread for croutons or crackers or on top of baked potatoes. Keeps well covered in the refrigerator.
450g (1lb) cream cheese, at room temperature 
125ml (4fl.oz/½ cup) of sour cream
Pinch of salt
Pinch of garlic powder 
75g (3oz/½ cup chopped scallions 

Combine the cream cheese, sour cream, salt and garlic powder in a large bowl and stir until well mixed and smooth. Stir in the scallions. Serve on crackers or toasted bagel rounds. 

Le Cirque’s Crème Brulee

Sirio Macciono of the famous Le Cirque Restaurant in New York adapted this crème brulee from a crema he ate in Spain in 1982, which had a caramelized sugar topping so thick that it had to be broken with a small hammer. This version has a thinner elegant caramel crackle and can be tapped with the most elegant silver spoon.
Serves 8

900ml (32 fl.oz/4 cups) double cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Pinch of salt 
8 large eggs
175g (6ozs (¾ cup plus 2 tablesp.) granulated sugar
8 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Place eight cup ramekins in roasting pan.

In a saucepan over low heat combine the cream, vanilla bean and salt. Warm for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Pour in the hot cream and stir gently to combine. Strain the custard into a jug and skim off any bubbles.

Pour the custard into the ramekins, filling them up to the rim. Place the roasting pan in the oven and carefully pour warm water in the pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with aluminium foil and bake until set, 1 ¾ hours.
Remove the ramekins from the water bath and allow to cool. Cover individually and refrigerate. For at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, preheat the grill.

Uncover the ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Top each with 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar and using a metal spatula or knife spread the sugar evenly over the custards. Grill the custards until the sugar caramelises, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is a great do-ahead dish for a crowd, keeps well and reheats like a dream.
Serves 4-6

1 tablesp. butter
1 tablesp. plain flour
725ml (24/fl.oz/3 cups) milk
1 teasp. salt
dash of freshly ground white pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
225g (8oz) grated Cheddar cheese
225g (8oz) elbow macaroni, fully cooked and drained
110g (4oz/½ cup) tinned tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teasp.sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Grease a 1½ quart baking dish.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, then add the milk, salt and both peppers. Stir almost constantly until the mixture thickens and is smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until it melts. Remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the macaroni and the sauce. Stir in the tomatoes and the sugar. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the greased baking dish. Bake until the surface browns, 30-40 minutes.

Sophie Grigson’s Ruggelach

At one time there were fine bakeries on every street corner in New York, not as many now, but there are still some traditional pastry shops selling handmade pastries like Ruggelach, but Sophie Grigson’s version is my favourite.
Makes 16

110g (4oz) cream cheese
110g (4oz) softened butter
150g (5oz) flour

50g (2oz) pale brown sugar
½ teasp. cinnamon
35g (1½oz) walnuts, finely chopped
25g (1oz) raisins, chopped

1 egg, beaten
castor sugar

Beat the cream cheese vigorously with the butter until well mixed and softened. Gradually beat in the flour. Gather up into a ball and wrap in foil or cling film. Chill for 30 minutes.

Mix the sugar with the cinnamon, walnuts and raisins. On a lightly floured board, roll the pastry out into a 33cm(12 inch) circle. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle the filling evenly over the pastry. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and run the rolling pin over it a couple of times to fix the filling firmly into the pastry. Lift off the paper.

Divide the circle up like a cake into 16 triangles. Roll up each one, starting with the wider end, as if you were making a croissant. Arrange on a baking sheet, brush with egg, and sprinkle with castor sugar. Bake at 200C/400F/gas 6 for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 

Foolproof Food

Blackberry, Apple and Sweet Geranium Jam

All over the countryside every year, blackberries rot on the hedgerows. Think of all the wonderful jam that could be made - so full of Vitamin C! This year organise a blackberry picking expedition while they are still on the brambles.
Blackberries are a bit low in pectin, so the apples help it to set as well as adding extra flavour. If you have some sweet geranium leaves they are a wonderful addition, but it is quite delicious without them.
Makes 9-10 x 450 g/1 lb jars approx.

2.3 kg (5 lbs) blackberries
900 g (2 lbs) cooking apples (Bramley, or Grenadier in season)
1.8 kg (4 lbs) sugar (use (225g) 2 lb less if blackberries are sweet)
150ml (5fl.oz) water
8-10 sweet geranium leaves - optional

Wash, peel and core and slice the apples. Stew them until soft with 150ml (5fl.oz) of water in a stainless steel saucepan; beat to a pulp. Warm the sugar. 

Pick over the blackberries, cook until soft, adding about 100ml (3½ fl.oz) water if the berries are dry. If you like, push them through a coarse sieve to remove seeds. Put the blackberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan with the apple pulp and the heated sugar. Destalk and chop sweet geranium leaves and add to the fruit. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. 

Boil steadily for about 15 minutes. Skim the jam, test it for a set and pot into warm spotlessly clean jars.

Hot Tips

Slow Food Cork Festival – Food Market in Patrick Street today 10-6 – don’t miss it.
More than 60 artisan food producers from all over Ireland.

Midleton Farmers Market – next Saturday 1st October, Gene Cunningham who sharpens knives will attend – so bring along your kitchen knives if they need sharpening.

Local Producers of Good Food in Cork by Myrtle Allen –

A revised edition of this invaluable little book published by Cork Free Choice Consumer Group is now available - €5 from Liam Ruiseal’s bookshop, Crawford Gallery Café, Ballymaloe Shop or by post from Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe House for €6 including postage. 

Cork Free Choice Consumer Group meets on the last Thursday of the Month at 7.30pm (excluding December, June, July & August) at the Crawford Gallery Café, admission €6 including tastings. Next meeting Thursday 29th September –Speaker Jean Perry of The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore on Winter Vegetable Gardening – make the most of your polytunnel or glasshouse, harvest and store your crops, saving your seeds and resting your garden until Spring.

Youghal Through the Ages running from 23 September till 2nd October – Heritage programme focussing on ‘the Life and Times of Sir Walter Raleigh’ will feature an Elizabethan Market at Barry’s Lane on Saturday 1st October from 10 – 3, with street entertainment. Programme from Youghal Tourist Office Tel 024-20170 or visit 

Green Festival in the Northwest – 16 - 25 September, celebrating our environment , heritage, culture, food and economy, on – tomorrow Sunday 25th there will be an Organic Fair at the Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim – Stalls of food, wines, crafts and much, much more - this is the single biggest organic event in the country and attracts hundred of visitors.  

Stone fruit – Peaches, Apricots, Nectarines

At Chez Panisse in Berkeley in California, Alice Waters has been known to serve just a perfect peach for dessert – the perfect end to a rich and satisfying meal. This passionate restaurateur has combed the Sacramento area, the Central Valley and the Sierra foothills to link in with organic farmers and growers who still cultivate the old varieties, some are heirlooms, others like the exquisite Elberta are only 140 years old.
Peach connoisseurs scour local Farmers Markets during the stone fruit season in July and August. Commercial varieties of peach are grown in thirty states in the US but two thirds of the annual aggregate production comes from the state of California. 
Nectarines were named after the nectar consumed by the Olympian gods, the smooth-skinned fruit are actually classified as a sub-species of peach – prunus persica var.nucipersica. Peach and nectarine trees are almost indistinguishable in leaf and flower, they are only one gene apart, the one that makes peaches fuzzy. Really ripe nectarines are quite simply divine.
Apricots are the third ‘stone fruit’ of Summer, a really good variety is a wonderful thing, but when have you last tasted a delicious fresh apricot, or peach, come to think of it, nectarines are still reasonably flavourful but I’m in despair. Those little plastic baskets full of indifferent fruit at various stages of ripeness are everywhere – supposedly a bargain at €3.49 – I’d far rather have one perfect peach and pay the farmer a fair and decent price for nurturing it for me throughout the year. Problem is we no longer have a choice. The multiples have forced the farmers to abandon any variety that doesn’t travel well or pass its shelf life test, hence many of the best cultivars have been grubbed out and are relegated to the few passionate hobby growers who can afford to grow for pleasure.
However, in little pockets around the world gardeners are seeking out the old varieties of fruit and vegetables and growing them themselves. In California there is a growing demand for forgotten flavours and keen young chefs are liaising with specialist growers and highlighting heirloom varieties on their menus. We’ve had two white peach trees on the south facing wall of the cookery school dining room for a number of years, they are amazingly productive though fragile. The white peach we have is Lord Napier and Peregrine is a good outdoor yellow variety
Although the crop is not so prolific this year there will be lots for desserts and pies, we use the slightly bruised ones to make delicious white peach juice for making home-made Bellini – almost as good as Harry’s Bar in Venice and one doesn’t have to take out a second mortgage. If you have a warm south-facing wall make a note now to remind yourself to plant a peach, apricot or nectarine in the Autumn. 
Recommended reading – 
Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book – Penguin
Chez Panisse Fruit – by Alice Waters – Harper Collins
Bob Flowerdew’s Complete Fruit Book - Kyle Cathie Ltd
And The Complete Book of Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit by Bob Flowerdew, Jekka McVicar and Matthew Biggs – Kyle Cathie Ltd.

Californian Three-stone Pie

This 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

Break all the rules pastry

350g (12oz) butter
75g (3oz) castor sugar
3 eggs, preferably free range
500g (18oz) white flour, preferably unbleached
1kg (2¼lb) stone fruit - apricots, peaches and nectarines, mixed
225g (8oz) sugar
3tablespoons flour or cornflour

Castor sugar for sprinkling

To Serve
Softly whipped cream or crème fraîche

tin, 10 inches (25.5cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x ½ inch (1cm) 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 a minute or two. Reduce speed to lowest setting 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 1 hour otherwise it is difficult to handle. 
To make the tart
Stone and slice the fruit into a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and flour and toss well.
Roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Fill the sugared fruit into the tart. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with peach shapes and pastry leaves. Egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the fruit is tender and juicy, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. 
When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Fresh Apricot Tart

This is my version of a tart I first tasted when I was a rather reluctant au pair in Besançon many years ago, its now one of our favourites. Apples, pears, gooseberries, rhubarb and plums are also good and the custard could be flavoured with a little cinnamon instead of vanilla if you wish to ring the changes.

Serves 10-12

225g (8oz) plain flour
175g (6oz) butter
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons icing sugar
A little beaten free-range egg or egg yolk and water to bind

Apricot Glaze
6 tablespoons Apricot jam
Freshly squeezed lemon juice

8-10 fresh apricots
300ml (½ pint) cream
2 large or 3 small eggs
2 tablespoons castor sugar 
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla essence 

1 x 12 inch (30 cm) diameter tart tin or 2 x 7 inch (18cm) tart tins with removable bases

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

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way and leave to relax in a refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll out the pastry and line a tart tin with a removable base. Chill for 10 minutes. Line with kitchen paper and fill with dried beans. Bake blind in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans. Paint the tart base with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes. Leave to cool.
In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the Apricot jam with a squeeze of lemon juice, push the hot jam through a sieve and then brush the base of the tart with a little of this glaze. 
Halve the apricots and remove the stones. Arrange one at a time cut side upwards inside the tart, the apricots should slightly overlap in the inside. 
Whisk the eggs well, with the sugar and Vanilla essence, then add the cream. Pour this mixture over the apricots and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes until the custard is set and the apricots are fully cooked. Brush generously with the Apricot glaze. Serve warm with a bowl of softly whipped cream.

Apricot Cobbler

Serves 6-8
1½ lb(700g) fresh apricots, or peaches or nectarines, or a mixture, stoned and cut into wedges (keep the juice)
5 tablesp. granulated sugar
1 tablesp. white flour
freshly grated rind of ½ lemon - optional

110g (4oz) white flour
¾ teasp. baking powder
¼ teasp. bread soda
1 tablesp. castor sugar
25g (1oz) butter, cut into cubes
125ml (4fl.oz) buttermilk
1 tablesp. granulated sugar

1 x pyrex pie dish, 1.2L (2pint) capacity

Put the sliced fruit in a bowl, add the sugar and flour, freshly grated lemon rind and a tablespoon of juice, toss well and fill into a pie dish.
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C/gas mark 6.
Next make the topping.
Sieve the flour, baking powder and bread soda into a bowl, add the castor sugar. Rub in the butter and bind with buttermilk until it just comes together. Drop tablespoons of the dough over the filling, doesn’t matter if there are spaces, the dough will expand as it cooks. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar.
Bake for 30-45 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Serve warm with crème fraîche or softly whipped cream.

Roasted Peaches with Honey
Gorgeous with home made Vanilla or Honey and Lavender Ice-cream
Serves 4

8 peaches
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
25g (1oz) butter

Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/gas 9

Halve the peaches and remove the stones. Melt the butter, add in the honey and lemon juice. Spoon over the peaches and roast them in a very hot oven for 8-10 minutes.
Serve the peaches warm with softly whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Spiced Peaches or Nectarines

Serve with glazed ham or bacon
10 peaches or nectarines
1 pint stock syrup
1 stick of cinnamon
1 chilli halved and seeded
1-inch piece of ginger sliced
6 cloves
2 slices of lemon 

Cook all the above ingredients together for 10 minutes. 
Add the peaches or nectarines sliced into segments and cook covered in an oven for a further 10 minutes.

Almond Tart or Tartlets with Peaches or Nectarines

Serves 12, makes 24 tartlets of 2 x 18cm (7inch) tarts or 72 petit fours
110g (4oz) butter
110g (4oz) castor sugar
110g (4oz) ground almonds
300ml (½ pint) whipped cream
Sliced fresh peaches or nectarines (you could also use fresh raspberries or loganberries, peeled and pipped grapes or kiwi fruit) 
Lemon balm or sweet geranium leaves

Cream butter, sugar and ground almonds together. Put a teaspoon of the mixture into 24 shallow patty tins or divide the mixture between 2 x 7 inch (18cm) sandwich tins. Bake at 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 20-30 minutes approx., or until golden brown. The tarts or tartlets will be too soft to turn out immediately, so cool for about 5 minutes before removing from tins. Do not allow to set hard or the butter will solidify and they will stick to the tins. If this happens, pop the tins back into the oven for a few minutes so the butter melts and then they will come out easily. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
Just before serving arrange the slices of peaches or nectarines on the base. Glaze with apricot glaze. (If using red fruit use red currant glaze). Decorate with rosettes of whipped cream and garnish with lemon balm or sweet geranium leaves.
Note: Use shallow tartlet tins and best quality ground almonds.

Apricot Glaze

350g (12oz) apricot jam
Juice of 3 lemon
2 tablesp. water

In a small stainless steel saucepan, melt the apricot jam with the juice of 3 lemon and 1-2 tablespoons water, enough to make a glaze that can be poured. Push the hot jam through a nylon sieve and store in a sterilised airtight jar. Reheat the glaze to melt it before using. The quantities given make a generous 300ml (½ pint) glaze.

Julia Wight’s Fresh Apricot Jam

Makes 2.7kg (6 lb) approx.
I love fresh apricot jam, it seems so luxurious to make it from the fresh fruit, this recipe was given to me by my friend Julia Wight.

1.57kg (3½ lb) whole fresh apricots to yield 1.35kg (3 lb) of fresh apricots when stoned 
1.35kg (3 lb) sugar
Juice of 2 unwaxed lemons

Halve the apricots and remove the stones, keep a few kernels to add to the finished jam.
In a large bowl layer the apricots and sugar, finishing with a layer of sugar. Leave in a cool place overnight.
Put the lemon juice in a large saucepan, add the fruit and sugar. (If the fruit is lacking in juice, you could add approx. 300ml (½ pint) water with the lemon juice). 
Bring to the boil very slowly. Make sure that the sugar has all dissolved, then simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Test for a set and allow the jam to cool slightly before potting. Add blanched and halved kernels half way through the simmering.

Foolproof food 

For your summer parties!

Peachy Fizz

300ml (10fl oz) freshly squeezed orange juice
150ml 95fl oz) Peach Schnapps
1 bottle sparkling wine
1 peach
a few raspberries
mint leaves

Mix the orange juice and peach schnapps together, add the sparkling wine at the last moment, add thin slices of peach, a few fresh raspberries and mint leaves. Pour into chilled glasses jugs, add ice if you wish.

Hot Tips

The Village Greengrocer, Castlemartyr, Co Cork – 
This shop on the N25 in Castlemartyr has now developed a cult following, Sean and Dorothy go to extraordinary lengths to provide their customers with a huge selection of local and exotic fruit and vegetables. They had Carolina nectarines and Rojo peaches – both Spanish varieties last week, and also have a new deli counter where you can buy salads, cooked meats or even have a plate made up to your choice. Tel 021- 4667655

The Apple Farm, Moorstown, Cahir, Co Tipperary – Farm shop – pick your own strawberries, apple juice, mixed strawberry and apple juice, strawberry jam, plum jam, apple jelly – all made with their own fruits and also bag in box juice. 

Forthcoming Summer Festivals with food markets–

Bray Town Festival 15-17th July – live events – free music, fireworks and a Summerfest Food Market opening on Friday – 60 stalls with something for everyone. 

JFK Dunbrody Festival – New Ross – 22-24th July
Lovely event with Food Market along quayside in New Ross with French and Irish traders. 

Mitchelstown Good Food Festival 14th August
This will be the third year of this festival which will be opened by Derek Davis – marquees with food producers, and others with food demonstrations, craft displays and children’s theatre. For information on taking a food stall contact Bill Power on 087-813611

I loved Dallas

I never imagined for one moment that I would love Dallas, in fact everything I ever heard about Dallas reinforced my gut feeling that I didn’t ever need to go there. Well, as luck would have it I was invited to speak on the influence of the Irish Diaspora at the IACP Conference on Culture and Cuisine in downtown Dallas just a few weeks ago.

IACP which stands for International Association of Culinary Professionals, is a not for profit professional association which provides ongoing education for its members, all of whom are engaged in the food business. The membership encompasses 35 countries and is literally a ‘Who’s who’ of the gastronomic world.

It was originally started as an Association of Cookery Schools in 1978 but less than ten years later its membership had broadened to include food writers, cookbook authors, food stylists and chefs. 

In 1987 the name was changed to IACP and in the past 15 years the membership has risen from 1,100 to over 4,000 – the IACP is now poised to become the pre-eminent professional culinary group in the world.

The four day conference included tours and day trips exploring the distinctive cuisine and culture of Texas, over 60 educational sessions on topics ranging from sustainable aquaculture and obesity to traditional and indigenous foods.

The conference culminated in a huge IACP Awards ceremony and a Denim to Diamonds Texas barbecue.

I had neither denim nor diamonds so I wore my ‘posh frock’ because I was shortlisted for the Cookery Teacher of the Year Award and guess what, I won – what an honour. I was up against Rick Bayless and Andrew Schloss, two of the most highly respected cooking school teachers in America, so it was a huge surprise but nonetheless a real thrill to win what is certainly the equivalent of an Oscar in the culinary world complete with breathtaking suspense and musical crescendos.

I have much to be grateful to the IACP for, I’ve been a member of almost 20 years and have learned an enormous amount at conferences throughout the years as well as making many lifelong friends and business contacts.

In Dallas I learned all about Texas barbecue, something I was blissfully ignorant about before this trip. Well, a Texas barbecue is nothing like our barbecue which they refer to as grilling, it’s a whole different thing, its all about ribs, succulent juicy smoked ribs, brisket and smoked sausage. Brisket is big in Dallas, it pops up all over the place. We had delicious brisket tacos in Mattito’s Tex Mex Restaurant, having waited ‘in line’ for over 30 minutes.

The best barbecue we had was at Sammy’s Barbeque, a legendary neighbourhood spot in downtown Leonard Street, grey cement floors, old brick walls, heavy timber counters, lots of neon and no nonsense. It was full of locals who were there for their regular fix and knew exactly what they wanted. We dithered at the counter while the Mexican cooks waited to know if we wanted Sliced Beef and barbecue sauce, or Sausage and barbecue sauce, or Ribs and barbecue sauce, all those came with ‘two sides’ of your choice, coleslaw, potato salad, Mexican beans, Caesar salad, Spinach and carrot salad, or a delicious Baked potato casserole, oozing with sour cream, scallions, crispy bacon and grated red cheddar.

There was also pulled pork or brisket in soft squishy buns. The old wooden tables were covered with a fancy green check oil cloth and lots of bottles of hot sauce, mustard and ketchup. We ate outside at wire tables, amongst the hay bales and geraniums and relished every morsel – it was a serious calorie fest but every morsel was delicious, the owner showed me his smoker which he himself designed 13 years ago. He marinates the brisket overnight and then cooks and smokes 20 at a time. He wraps them while they are still warm to keep them ‘real tender’ and they really were succulent and lip-smackingly good.

Dessert was Apple pie, Pecan pie, Lemon bars, Brownies or whole pies. The menu clearly stated ‘prices subject to change without notice’ but it was very reasonable.

The other big discovery on this trip was the new Whole Foods in Austin. According to Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times, everyone in Austin is talking about Whole Foods – it’s the new hot topic of conversation, like real estate in LA, Whole Foods is a chain of ‘organic’ supermarkets which originated in Austin. However, the new venture which has everyone buzzing, is being hailed as the yardstick by which supermarkets will be measured in the future. Whole Foods have wisely capitalized on changing attitudes to food – they’ve managed to commodify authenticity, and they’ve connected into the fun thing. The cool crowd are riding their bikes to Whole Foods on a Saturday, it’s the place to see and been seen ‘not the way I remember the rock and roll crowd’ quipped Russ Parsons. People are now using a trip to Whole Foods as a social connection. There are little groceries within the shop, back to the old values, cheese and cured meats are cut to order, all labels are hand written. Its all about food with a story, the name of the farmer where it was grown – Alleluia! – hope it catches on here as we all gallop headlong in the other direction despite my best efforts to encourage everyone to buy local food and serve it proudly.

Acme Chophouse Beef Short Ribs

Peggy Knickerbocker, a journalist and cookbook author from San Francisco who visited the school recently, shared this delicious recipe with us.
These short ribs are meltingly tender and packed with flavour, their meat falling off the bone. 

Here, each person gets two ribs bones. Start the dish a day or two in advance as the flavors improve as a result of overnight marinating and slow cooking. At Acme Chophouse in San Francisco the short ribs are accompanied by roasted cippolini onions and baby heirloom carrots. You could serve the meat and their luscious juices over a slice of crisp garlic rubbed toast, to sop up the juices.

Since the meat is a fatty cut, it benefits from being placed in the refrigerator after cooking, so the fat can rise to the surface and be removed. This is a great party dish as it can be made ahead of time and gently reheated.

Serves 6 plus

5 pounds beef short ribs cut into pieces, 2 - to 3 inches long

For marinating: 

1 bottle full-bodied red wine
1 - 2 yellow onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced
6 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh thyme

For braising:

2fl. ozs (50ml), extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 quarts chicken or beef stock

For serving

4 slices toasted country bread
1 clove garlic
5 chives, finely chopped, or a handful of chopped parsley

Put the meat in a large bowl that will not react with wine. Lay the vegetables and aromatics over the top and cover with the wine. If you need a little more wine to cover, add it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the meat from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F/160C/ gas3. Lift the meat out of the marinade and pat dry with paper towels, put on a large platter. Mix the flour together with a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the meat, on all sides.

Heat two large shallow heavy casseroles over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to each. Shaking any excess flour off of the short ribs, add them, one by one, to the pans, do not crowd. Season each side of the short ribs with salt and pepper again. Turning them with tongs, brown them on all sides to a deep mahogany, about 10 minutes all together. Transfer to a deep heavy baking dish or roasting pan with a lid.

Strain off the wine and the vegetables into a bowl. Return one of the pans to the top of the stove over medium heat. Pour in the retained wine/vegetables and stir up the crispy bits from having browned the meat. Allow the wine to reduce and the vegetables to become tender at the edges, about 15 minutes. Pour the vegetables, aromatics, and wine on top of the browned ribs. Pour on the stock. Cut a piece of parchment to fit on top of the ribs; then cover with the lid of the pan.

Place in the oven and cook until the meat falls off the bone, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. When done, allow the meat to cool in its juices. Transfer the ribs to another fairly deep baking dish. Strain the vegetables and aromatics and discard, retaining the cooking juices. Place the juices in a bowl in the refrigerator, allowing the fat to rise to the surface, for at least an hour. Scoop off and discard the fat. Return the cooking liquid to a pot and reduce again for about 15 minutes. Pour it over the ribs. The dish can be cooled and refrigerated at this point for a day or two. To serve, bring the meat to room temperature and warm it over medium low heat. Serve in a shallow bowl with a slice of toasted country bread, rubbed with a clove of garlic. Scatter chopped chives over the top.

Whole Rib Eye

From Texas Hot Chefs, Bill Cauble and Cliff Teinert’s new cookbook ‘Barbecue, Biscuits and Beans.
Serves 15-20

1 whole rib eye with lip on (14-15lbs/6.00- 6.6 kg
4 tablesp. freshly ground black pepper
2 quantities brisket rub (see below)

Brisket Rub:

2 tablesp. Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablesp. sea salt
1 teasp. garlic powder
1 teasp. onion powder
1 teasp. dried parsley
1 tablesp. chilli powder
1 teasp. oregano
1 teasp. sugar

In a pan large enough to hold the rib eye, place it fat side down. Coat generously with brisket rub and freshly ground black pepper. Roll meat and coat fat side. Pat rub and pepper onto the ends.

Preheat oven to 350F/ 180C/regulo 4. Roast for 3 ½ - 4 hours.

Cut lip off before serving. Slice into ¾ inch slices and serve.

You could also cook on the barbecue – place over medium-hot coals, 30-32 inches above the coals. Using clean gloves or thick cloth, turn rib eye once or twice, never cooking it very long with the fat side down. When cooking Whole Rib Eyes, you may use a large fork, but only pierce the fatty lip with the fork – never the meat. Allow 4 hours for medium rare (140F) and 4½ hours for medium (160F)

When meat has reached desired temperature, take off coals and let rest 10 minutes. Slice as above.

Chicken –Fried steak with Gravy – from ‘Barbecues, Biscuits and Beans.’

Serves 12-14

7-8 lb (3.2-3.6kg) cubed steak or lean round steak, cut into hand-sized pieces
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
1 teasp. salt
2 tablesp. pepper
4 cups vegetable oil
¼ cup flour
4 cups milk
1 teasp. fresh ground pepper

Beat eggs, mix with milk in 3 inch deep round pan. Place flour in similar pan.

Season meat with salt and pepper; place 4 to 5 pieces in milk mixture and allow to stand while heating 1½ - 2 inches of oil in large iron casserole. Heat oil to 350F. Dredge meat in flour one piece at a time, back in milk, and again in flour. Place in hot oil and cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning once. Drain on paper towels.

While first batch is cooking, prepare next batch of steaks to be dipped just as previous batch is removed from frying pan.
Save browned bits in oil for making Steak Gravy.

Steak Gravy

Leave about ¼ cup oil and browned bits in skillet. Add enough flour to absorb oil, approximately ¼ cup.
Stirring constantly, add milk, about 4 cups, and continue stirring until gravy reaches a smooth consistency. Thicker is usually preferred.

Add 1 teasp. freshly ground pepper. Remove from heat and serve, or keep warm and stir again before serving.

These recipes are written in American cup measurements – 1 cup = 8 fl.ozs/ 225ml

Luscious Lemon Bars

Makes 24
Biscuit base

180gm (6½ oz) plain white flour
50gm (2 oz ) icing sugar
225gm (8 oz ) unsalted butter


4 free range eggs
450gms (1lb ) castor sugar
200mls (7 fl oz) of freshly squeezed lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
and rind of 3 lemons
4 level tablesp. of plain white flour
½ teaspoon. baking powder

Icing sugar

1 Swissroll tin 32cm.x 22cm. (13"x9") 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4

Mix the flour and icing sugar together in a bowl, rub in the butter. Scatter onto the tin, cover with cling film, roll flat with a rolling pin. Remove the cling film and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes approx. or until pale golden.

Meanwhile make the topping. 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl; add the sugar and lemon rind and juice, then whisk in the flour and baking powder. Pour over the hot base. Continue to bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the surface is golden and set. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or fingers. Dredge with icing sugar and serve.

Texas Pecan Pie

Serves 8-10
4 ozs (110g) butter
8 ozs (225g) golden syrup 
7 ozs (200g) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, preferably free-range, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
72 ozs (215g) fresh Pecan halves
Pinch of salt

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

6 ozs (170g) plain white flour
3 ozs (85g) butter
12 ozs (45g) castor sugar
1 large egg, beaten and a little water if necessary
9 inch (23 cm) unbaked pie shell made with sweet short-crust pastry (see recipe)

Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way. Cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator. Line the flan ring. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/regulo 7.

Brown the butter until golden, be careful not to burn it, allow to cool. In a bowl add the other ingredients in the order listed. Stir, blend in the nuts and browned butter. Pour into the tart shell and bake at 220C/425F/regulo 7 for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160C/325F/regulo 3 for 50 minutes more, until set in the centre.

Serve warm or cold with softly whipped cream.

Foolproof Food

Broadway Coleslaw

Serves 10
12 ozs (340 g) red cabbage, diced into ¼ inch dice
12 ozs (340 g) green cabbage, diced into ¼ inch dice
2½ ozs (70 g) red onion, diced into ¼ inch dice, rinsed under cold water
½-2 cucumber diced into ¼ inch dice
1-2 apples, diced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped mint
4 fl ozs (110 g) Ballymaloe Cookery School Dressing (see recipe)
Salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss in dressing. Taste and correct seasoning. This salad often needs a good pinch of sugar.

Ballymaloe Cookery School Dressing

This dressing may also be used to toss green salad.
4fl ozs (125ml/½ cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp English mustard powder OR
½ tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground pepper and Maldon sea salt

Put all the ingredients into a small bowl or jam jar. Whisk with a fork until the dressing has emulsified.
Whisk well before use.

Hot Tips

Dallas - If you do manage to get to Dallas, spare some time to visit the Nasher Sculpture Centre on 2001 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201. Tel 214 242 5100 

If you make it before the end of May, don’t miss the Splendors of China’s Forbidden City at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Garryvoe Hotel have recently opened their very stylish new extension – reception area, bar and restaurant – wishing them continued success.
353 (0) 21 464 6718  
Garryvoe Hotel

Ballymaloe House has just won the Restaurant of the Year Award, sponsored by Bushmills – congratulations to all concerned.

Fabulous Food Fair in Co Tipperary Sunday 3rd July 12-6– Tipp FM is delighted to offer all quality food providers a unique forum in which to display and sell their quality food. To book a stand contact Noreen Condon 087-2795900 or Geraldine Henchion 087-2523215.

Just back from another trip to New York

Just back from another trip to New York – I don’t usually whizz in and out of the Big Apple twice within a month but I was on my way to Dallas to the IACP Conference so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to take up Arlene Feltman’s invitation to teach a class at her cooking school – De Gustibus in Macys.
I brought some of Bill Casey’s Shanagarry smoked salmon which fortunately the terrifying sniffer dogs at Newark Airport didn’t seem at all interested in. Arlene’s classes are very civilized, guests arrive a 5pm and are greeted and treated to a glass of cool sparkling wine to soothe their frazzled nerves having battled through rush hour in Manhattan.
I made a few loaves of Ballymaloe Brown Bread, spread them proudly with Kerrygold butter and topped the slices with juicy salmon – everyone loved it. We were off to a good start. Arlene invites chefs from all over the world to teach at her school as well as hot New York and other US chefs.
I chose a simple menu, perfect for an early Spring dinner to showcase fresh seasonal ingredients and a few simple techniques. I really wanted people to be able to cook all the dishes after the class. The Potato, chorizo and flat parsley soup demonstrated the basic soup technique. US potatoes in general aren’t a patch on good Irish potatoes, but a variety called Yukon Gold works well. When I’m teaching I try to encourage people to really think about the provenance of their food when they shop and no matter how busy to try to source really top quality, fresh local food in season, organic if at all possible.
Local is not always easy in New York, but nonetheless superb produce can be bought at the green market in Union Square, right down in Greenwich Village,- one can get free range eggs, delicious organic chickens, gorgeous organic salad leaves and micro greens for a green salad. ….. I used some verjuice in the dressing -verjuice, made from unripe grapes or apples, is having a revival. This product was widely used in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance but its popularity waned when lemons began to be more widely used.
The lamb came from Jamison farm in Pennsylvania, John and Sukey Jamison raise sheep and allow them to range freely on their organic pasture. The resulting lamb is much sweeter and more succulent than most US lamb, but scarcely as good as the lamb you’d get from Irish family butchers who know the farmers who rear the animals - how fortunate we are to still have so many local butchers, a source of real envy to many of my US foodie friends. 
This time of the year is referred to as ‘the hungry gap’ for fresh vegetables, most of the winter greens are finished or the crop is running to seed – the new season’s vegetables really don’t come on stream until Whit, hence the spiced aubergine recipe. However, we do have lots of rhubarb, how gorgeous does that taste after a long Winter – you just know its doing you good, clearing the blood and providing us with lots of calcium, potassium, manganese and some vitamins A & C. Arthritis sufferers however, should desist as rhubarb is reported to aggravate that condition. I made a Roscommon rhubarb pie (see article of 12th March) from my Irish Traditional Food book with the first of the new season’s rhubarb in New York. This was originally baked in a bastible over the open fire but it also works very well and tastes delicious when its baked in an ordinary oven. 
This, and champ with a lump of butter melting in the centre is real comfort food which brought nostalgic whimpers from the Irish in the audience. 
I rounded off the meal with some superb Irish farmhouse cheeses from Murray’s Cheese Shop. Rob Kaufelt selected Cashel Blue, Crozier Blue and a gorgeous pungent Ardrahan.
Rob has now got a cult following and recently moved into much larger premises across the road from his original shop in Bleecker Street and his cheese shop in Grand Central Station is also bursting at the seams. Farmhouse or farmstead cheese as they are called in the US, are the hottest food items on restaurant menus and delis, in a country where the majority of people would hardly let a bit of cheese pass their lips up to a few years ago.
I told the class all about the Irish farmhouse cheese industry and the close bond between many of our cheesemakers and their counterparts in the US, who have invited their Irish heroes to come and help them with their cheesemaking techniques.
By the time the class was over, Arlene had poured two other wines to complement the meal and I’d managed to dispel the myth of Ireland as the land of corned beef and cabbage, and whip everyone into a frenzy of excitement about Ireland and Irish food and they couldn’t wait to rush out to the nearest Fairways food shop to buy some rich Irish butter to slather on their bread.

Potato, Chorizo and Parsley Soup

Most people would have potatoes and onions in the house even if the cupboard was otherwise bare so one could make this simply delicious soup at a moment's notice. While the vegetables are sweating, pop a few white soda scones or cheddar cheese scones into the oven and wow won't they be impressed.
We love Fingal Ferguson's Gubbeen chorizo, so much that we dream up all sorts of ways of using it. The strong hot spicy taste adds lots of oomph to the silky potato soup.
Serves 6

55g (2oz) butter
425g (15oz) peeled diced potatoes, one-third inch dice
110g (4oz) diced onions, one-third inch dice
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
900ml (1½pints) home-made chicken stock or vegetable stock
120ml (4fl oz) creamy milk
18 slices of chorizo

snipped flat parsley sprigs

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes approx. Meanwhile bring the stock to the boil, when the vegetables are soft but not coloured add the stock and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft. Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning. Thin with creamy milk to the required consistency. 
Just before serving cook the slices of chorizo for a minute or two on each side on a non stick pan, oil will render out of the chorizo.
Serve three slices of chorizo on top of each bowl, sprinkle a few flat parsley sprigs on top, drizzle a little chorizo oil haphazardly over the soup and serve immediately.

Green Salad with Verjuice Dressing

Green Salad has been included in all my books because we serve it with every lunch and dinner, varying the dressing to suit the menu.

A selection of lettuces and salad leaves eg. Butterhead, Iceberg, Cos, Oakleaf, (green or bronze), Chinese leaves, Lollo rosso, Raddichio trevisano, Rocket, Salad burnet, Golden marjoram or edible Chrysanthemum leaves and edible flowers.

Verjuice and Honey Dressing

2fl oz (50ml) verjuice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6fl oz (175ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
salt, freshly ground pepper

Wash and dry very well carefully the lettuces, salad leaves and flowers. Tear into bite-sized pieces and put into a deep salad bowl. Cover with cling-film and refrigerate, if not to be served immediately.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Mix all the ingredients together, whisking well before use. Just before serving, toss the leaves with a little dressing – just enough to make the leaves glisten. Serve immediately.
Note: Green Salad must not be dressed until just before serving, otherwise it will look tired and unappetising.

Lamb Roast with Coriander Seeds and Spiced Aubergine

A shoulder of lamb is much trickier to carve but the flavour is so wonderfully sweet and juicy, its certainly worth the struggle, particularly at home where perfect slices of meat are not obligatory.
Serves 8-10 approx.

1 leg of lamb
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons approx. coriander seeds
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

8-10 medium-sized potatoes
1 tablespoon fresh ground coriander, if available
450ml (¾ pint) Home-made Lamb or Chicken Stock 

Ask your butcher to trim the knuckle end and to remove the aitch bone for ease of carving.
Warm the coriander seeds slightly on a pan, crush them in a pestle and mortar. Cut the peeled cloves of garlic in strips. Make a few incisions with the point of a sharp knife in the leg of lamb and insert a piece of garlic and some crushed coriander into each hole. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, roast in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 in the usual way. Add some medium sized potatoes to the dish half way through cooking. The coriander seeds give a delicious flavour to the meat. Carve it into thick slices so that everybody gets some coriander. Serve with a light gravy to which a little freshly ground coriander has been added. The meat should be moist and tender.
Lamb Roast with Cumin
Substitute freshly ground cumin for coriander in the recipe above. Alternatively mix cumin and coriander.

Spiced Aubergine

Serves 6
1 inch (2.5cm) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely crushed
50ml (2 fl ozs) water

800g (1¾ lbs) aubergines
250ml (8 fl ozs) approximate vegetable oil (we use Arachide) 
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
350g (¾ lb) very ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped or 1 x 400g (14ozs) tin tomatoes + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric 
a teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like) 
Sea Salt
55g (2ozs) raisins

Cut the aubergine into ¾ inch (2cm) thick slices. Heat 175ml (6 fl ozs) of oil in a deep 10-12 inch (25-30cm) frying pan. When hot, almost smoking, add a few aubergine slices and cook until golden and tender on both sides. Remove and drain on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Repeat with the remainder of the aubergines, adding more oil if necessary. 
Put the ginger, garlic and water into a blender. Blend until fairly smooth. 

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan. When hot, add the fennel and cumin seeds, (careful not to let them burn). Stir for just a few seconds then put in the chopped tomato, the ginger-garlic mixture, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the spice mixture thickens slightly, 5-6 minutes. 
Add the fried aubergine slices and raisins, and coat gently with the spicy sauce. Cover the pan, turn the heat to very low and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve warm.
The spiced aubergine mixture is also good served cold or at room temperature as an accompaniment to hot or cold lamb or pork. 

Scallion Champ

A bowl of mashed potatoes flecked with green scallions and a blob of butter melting in the centre is ‘comfort’ food at its best.
Serves 4-6

1.5kg (3lb) 6-8 unpeeled 'old' potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders, Kerrs Pinks 
110g (4oz) chopped scallions or spring onions (use the bulb and green stem) or 45g
chopped chives
350ml (10-12fl oz) milk
55-110g (2-4oz) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Scrub the potatoes and boil them in their jackets.

Chop finely the scallions or spring onions or chopped chives. Cover with cold milk and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for about 3-4 minutes, turn off the heat and leave to infuse. Peel and mash the freshly boiled potatoes and while hot, mix with the boiling milk and onions, beat in the butter. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve in 1 large or 6 individual bowls with a knob of butte melting in the centre. Scallion mash may be put aside and reheated later in a moderate oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4. Cover with tin foil while it reheats so that it doesn’t get a skin. 

Scallion and Potato Cakes
Shape leftover scallion mash into potato cakes, cook until golden on both sides in clarified butter or butter and oil. Serve piping hot.

Wild Garlic Mash

Wild garlic is now prolific in the hedgerows and woods
Add 50-85g (2-3oz) roughly chopped wild garlic leaves to the milk just as it comes to the boil. Continue as above.

Foolproof Food

Crunchy Apple or Rhubarb Crumble Tart

Serves 8
6 ozs (170g) plain white flour 
3 ozs (85g) butter 
1 dessertspoon castor sugar 
1 beaten egg, approx.

5-6 stalks of red rhubarb or
5-6 well flavoured eating apples, Coxs Orange Pippin or Golden Delicious 
3 ozs (85g) unsalted butter
3 ozs (85g) plain white flour
6 ozs (170g) granulated sugar from the vanilla pod jar
3 ozs (85g) chopped almonds (unpeeled)
3 teasp. cinnamon 

9 - 10 inch (23-25.5cm) tart tin

First make the pastry.
Sieve the flour and sugar into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible, if the fat is allowed to melt the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop.
Whisk the egg. Take a fork or knife (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect the pastry into a ball with your hands. This way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although slightly damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. 
The drier and more difficult-to-handle pastry will give a crisper, 'shorter' crust. Cover and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Line the tart tin with pastry. 
Fill with chopped rhubarb or peeled and chopped dessert apples.
Next make the crumble. 
Rub the butter into the flour and sugar to make a coarse crumble. Add the ground cinnamon and chopped almonds. Spread the crumble over the top of the fruit.
Bake in a preheated oven 190C/375F/regulo 5 until fully cooked - 35-40 minutes.
Serve warm or cold with a bowl of softly whipped cream.

Hot Tips 

New weekly news series on food traceability on RTE Radio 1
Consumed • Mondays at 8pm from 11 April to 30 May
Expect to hear discussions of GM animal feed and food on the new weekly RTE Radio 1 programme Consumed, which traces everyday food products from retail outlets, not only back to the farm of origin, but to the origin of the commodities used in the production process. Presented by Tommy Standún. 
You can listen to the show later at  
Tommy Standun would love to have a live viewer call-in discussion of GM issues as the final programme in the series. He recommends you ask RTE to provide this service by sending an email request to the show’s producers at 

Farmers Market at Farmleigh in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, this Sunday 1st May from 10am – 6pm and on the First Sunday in June, July and August. 

Relaunch of Docklands Market at The IFSC on Excise Walk every Thursday from May 5th 10.00am – 3.00pm

Cornucopia of Culinary Talent at Tasting Australia 2005.
This major event on the world’s gastronomic calendar takes place in Adelaide, South Australia from 21-30 October 2005. Full details at 

The Belly Rebellion

On International Women’s Day 8th March 2005, 600 women from all walks of life turned up at a hip new conference centre in called Base Camp in Copenhagen for the launch of a new food revolution called Belly Rebellion. If this new grass roots movement gathers momentum it could well change the way we look on food in Europe and the Western World. Just like the International Slow food Movement it was born out of outrage.

So what was the spark that ignited and united over 600 women to rally to the cause – well it appears that last November a group of Nordic chefs had a huge conference on the future of Nordic food. Chefs from all the Nordic countries headed up the prestigious panel of chefs from Norway, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland and Finland.. The conference was sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, who as one of its primary roles, has equality between the sexes.

Camilla Plum and Katrine Klinken were among the 20 delegates at the conference. – suddenly the penny dropped, there were no women chefs – why were there no women chefs? The response was swift and spontaneous – no women chefs were good enough to join this auspicious group to discuss the future of gastronomy in the Nordic region. ‘They must be joking ‘– the male chefs were unrepentant. Nor surprisingly there was incredulity at the audacity of the response, followed by fury – hell hath no wrath like a woman chef scorned!. The Danish Council and the Nordic Council blushed in shame.

Letters to the papers, telephone calls to radio and television stations, eventually the idea for an alternative conference was born and the term Belly Rebellion was coined.

Sponsors vied to support the event, women chefs, caterers, food companies, food producers, activists and farmers, immediately wanted to be involved. The delegates were an extraordinary cross-section of women mostly from Denmark, with a smattering of people from the Nordic countries, England and Germany, and mise from Ireland.

I was invited to speak about food and our families and the Farmers Market Movement. The main issue that seemed to unite all the women in the room was the concern about the quality of food in Denmark and the difficulty of finding good quality food in a country where the retail food market is dominated by supermarkets and the local shops are no longer independent.

Consequently it is almost impossible to find fresh naturally produced food in season. There are a few organic ‘box schemes’ and a smattering of farmers markets but for the majority of busy people who don’t have time to visit the few farmers markets- the reality is that fresh naturally produced local food in season is simply unobtainable, mass produced food is the only option.

At present Danes spend 9.5% of their income on food, the lowest in Europe. Here in Ireland we spend 20.3% in comparison to 22.7% in 1994/5 so we have no reason to feel smug.

The reality is that nowadays few people connect the food they eat with how they feel. Few people in the Western world really understand a basic fact which is blatantly obvious to our Asian friends – ‘Our food should be our medicine’. Nonetheless, this issue has certainly stimulated debate in Denmark. The many speakers at the day-long conference to launch the Belly Rebellion addressed the problems and helped to heighten awareness about the health crisis that is emerging because so much of the mass produced denatured food that people have easy access to, is in fact nutritionally deficient. There were calls for better food in hospitals, school, canteens, cooking and gardening classes for children and the establishment of school gardens.

Mae Wan Ho, director of the Institute of Science in Society in London, spoke about genetically modified food.

Other speakers spoke about the European food monopolies who decide all about the food we eat, about food in hospitals and kindergartens, about ecology and local food production. Workshops on a variety of food related subjects in the afternoon. There were lovely long coffee, lunch and dinner breaks to give people opportunity to chat and brain storm. This was the girls’ day, not a chap in sight, no male journalists or photographers. Sanne Salmonsen, Denmark’s queen of Rock and Roll, performed for free to show her support, as did the cool all-girl band called the Cookies – the Gipsy Mystique dancers, danced and swirled to wild and wonderful music. Danish grande dame Jytte Abildstrom, 70 year old red-haired comedienne had everyone in stitches, she too volunteered her services as did another famous Danish rock and roll lassie called Pernille Hojmark, who had everyone out dancing, or at least tapping their feet.

The day eventually wound down about 12.30 with people resolved to continue the debate and to suggest initiatives on the internet – you too can get involved – its not necessary to speak Danish, most Danes speak perfect English.

Camilla’s Roasted Fennell, Potatoes, Pickled Lemon, Saffron and Yoghurt

Camilla roasted a spatchcock on a grid on top, only flavoured with garlic, salt and pepper. The cooking juices dripped onto the roast vegetables during cooking.
Serves 8 

4 fennell bulbs
4 pickled lemons (see recipe)
8-24 potatoes, depending on size
1 teasp saffron
4 pods cardamon
salt and freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
20fl oz (1 pint) natural yoghurt
Preheat the oven to 250°C/500°F. 

Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters through the root. Cut the pickled lemons in half. If the potatoes are large, cut into chunks (the size of a small potato). Arrange all the vegetables in a roasting tin, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove the seeds from the cardamom, discard the pod, crush in a pestle and mortar. Add freshly crushed spice and a good pinch of saffron to the yoghurt. Mix well, pour over the vegetables. Roast in a preheated oven for 30-45 minutes. Serve.

Camilla Plum’s Cardamon and Vanilla Ice-cream

Serves 6-8
7 cardamon pods
1 vanilla pod
5 free-range organic egg yolks
5oz (150g) castor sugar
24fl oz (725ml) cream

baked apples (optional)

Crush the cardamon pods, remove the seeds and crush in a pestle and mortar.

Put into a large bowl. Split a vanilla pod in half, scrape out the seeds and add to the cardamon. Add the egg yolks and castor sugar and whisk well then add in the cream and mix again.
Pour into an ice-cream machine and freeze for about 20 minutes. Serve with baked apples.

Camilla Plum’s Fried Soused Herring

For 4 Persons
8 fat herrings, boned, but in one piece
8 tbsp. ryeflour
50 g butter
1 onion in rings

300ml (10fl.oz) cider vinegar
150ml light cane sugar
1 tbsp coarse salt
20 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves

Coat the double herring filets in rye flour, spiced with a little salt and pepper. Fry the fish in browned butter till the flesh whitens, no more. Put the fish in a deep dish with the onion. Boil the marinade together for a few minutes, and let it cool till lukewarm. Cover the fish with the marinade, and cool completely, but do not put it in the fridge. It takes away the flavour. Eat on buttered rye bread with lots of fresh onion rings.

Eggs in mustard sauce with herb salad

For 4 persons
4 boiled eggs, Yolk just stiff

25 g butter
2 tbsp flour
400ml (14fl.oz) whole milk
4 tbsp coarse French mustard
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. traditional coarse mustard

Herb salad: 
2 handfuls very small dandelion leaves 
2 handfuls lambs' lettuce
Bunch of rocket
Small crunchy head of lettuce
Bunch chives
Handful of salsify leaves
Bunch of chervil
Small bunch dill
50ml (2fl.oz) virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Clean the leaves in plenty of cold water, make sure there is no crunch between the teeth. Dry completely on a towel. Melt the butter in a small pan, without colouring, whisk in the flour, and then the milk, a little at a time. Let it bubble for five minutes. If it becomes very thick, use a little more milk. Take it off the heat and whisk in the different mustards. Spice with salt and pepper. The sauce must not boil again, or the mustard becomes flat. Mix the leaves with the oil, salt and pepper and arrange on 4 plates. Peel the eggs and cut in half. Spoon the sauce beside the salad and arrange the eggs on top, cut side up.

Eat with cured, pickled or smoked fish, or on its own with rye bread.

Lemon mousse

for 4 persons
3 eggs
100 g (3½ oz) light cane sugar
3 big lemons
3 sheets of gelatine (here we use 12 sheets to jelly a litre of liquid)
200ml (7 fl.oz) whipping cream

Whip yolks and sugar till light and fluffy, and the sugar is completely dissolved.

Scrape the zest of the lemon into the yolks. Soak the gelatine in cold water for five minutes. Squeeze and melt in a small pan, take it of the heat. Mix in the juice from the lemons until the gelatine is completely dissolved, no lumps. Mix with the yolks and mix well, or there will be gluey stripes. Whisk the egg whites till stiff, and whisk the cream till stiff. Mix both into the yolks. Put the mousse in tall glasses and let it cool in the fridge. Eat with thin wafers and candied lemon peel on top.

Foolproof Food

Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding

We’ve been having fun ringing the changes with our recipe. Bread and Butter Pudding is also delicious with apple and cinnamon or even mixed spice. I can’t wait to try gooseberry and elderflower as soon as they come back into season.
Serves 6-8

12 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed 
55g (2oz) butter, preferably unsalted
450g (1 lb) red rhubarb
450ml (16 fl oz) cream
230ml (8 fl oz) milk
4 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
175g (6oz) sugar
1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of the pudding

Softly-whipped cream
1 x 8 inches (20.5cm) square pottery or china dish 

Slice the rhubarb in pieces, put into a dish and sprinkle with sugar leave to macerate for an hour.

Butter the bread and arrange 4 slices, buttered side down, in one layer in the buttered dish. Sprinkle the bread with half the rhubarb, arrange another layer of bread, buttered side down, over the rhubarb. Cover with the remaining bread, buttered side down.

In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla essence and sugar. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve over the bread. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and let the mixture stand, covered loosely, for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

Bake in a bain-marie - the water should be half way up the sides of the baking dish. Bake the pudding in the middle of a preheated oven, 180C/350F/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.

Hot tips

The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim, now celebrating its 10th anniversary 

Has a range of courses on offer and is also open for visits between April 1st and September 30th. Just some of the courses on offer in April – Grains, Bread and Sourdough, Organic gardening for Beginners, Goatkeeping Workshop, Cooking for Children, Ecolandscaping for new sites – there is much, much more on offer right through to October – Tel 071-98 54338. 

Earth Day 2005 – 22nd April. - GM-free Ireland Network cordially invites you to collaborate in launching 1,000 local GMO-free zones throughout Ireland at 2pm on 22 April. Their objective is for organic and conventional farmers, hotels. Restaurants, pubs, retailers, schools and homes North and South of the border to display GMO-free zone signs and simultaneously declare their lands and premises GMO-free. Full details on

International Gastronomy Summit, Madrid Fusion 2005

I’ve just spent a mind blowing three days in Spain at the third International Gastronomy Summit, Madrid Fusion 2005. The theme of this year’s event was the meeting of East and West.
What an extravaganza – the latest techniques, culinary creations and ideas were presented by inspirational avant-garde chefs from East and West, under the umbrella of culinary fusion. 

Spain is in the vanguard of a culinary revolution. This movement is spearheaded by the energetic alchemist Ferran Adria, at his legendary restaurant El Bulli on the west coast of Spain. Adria may just be to the 20th Century what Escoffier was to former generations. He is a technological innovator, a truly brilliant chef who has succeeded in applying many industrial techniques to restaurant production in a revolutionary way. Many of his creations have not immediate connection to the type of food we do, but nonetheless it was intriguing. Restaurants must continue to innovate, otherwise they stagnate and both customers and chefs get jaded and bored. 

No fear of that at the famous El Bulli, and people are flocking to worship at the shrine from all over the world. The restaurant which is open from March to October, gets hundreds of thousands of requests for a table each year, but can only accept 8,000. At Madrid Fusion Adria demonstrated some of his new cocktails- passion fruit, mint and whiskey and hot gin fizz. For some he dispensed with the glasses and served the cocktail in a little bar of ice, others were served in spoons. 

Over a three day period I watched one excellent frenzied chef after the other do wild and exotic things.

Angel Leon from Casa del Temple Restaurant in Toledo in the heart of La Mancha is intrigued by fish. He originally came from Cadiz and still catches fish for his restaurant. For the past few years he has been studying the chemical and organic composition of fish. Apparently fish eyes have an amazing flavour, he cuts fish eyes open with a surgeon’s scalpel, he told us that seven eyes yielded enough for a delicious sauce to serve with one of his fish dishes. He then went on to make a stone soup for which one needs a rock from the bottom of the sea, he was quite specific, 35-40 metres below sea level – apparently there’s no pollution at that depth.

We didn’t get to taste the soup but by all accounts it was delicious.

Daniel Garcia and Paco Roncero did magic with olive oil, Daniel uses liquid nitrogen or what we call dry ice bowl (15 degrees below). He poured olive oil onto the dry ice through a strainer, the result resembled cous cous – hey presto! He added a little sprinkle of salt – now one can eat olive oil – he chooses the variety of olive oil meticulously , this one was made from the Arbequina olives. It enhances the flavour, melts in your mouth, delicious with a little bread, and garlic flakes for breakfast.

Next came popcorn made from olive oil. Daniel sprayed the oil from a foam container into the liquid nitrogen in a polystyrene box, the result was olive oil popcorn which he served with a dice of tomato, tiny croutons and micro greens – looked and I bet tasted delicious. For his next trick he put a stainless steel dish on top of the liquid nitrogen and poured extra virgin olive oil made from Piqual olives onto the tray. It froze into a sheet and then cracked into flakes which looked like white chocolate wafers. So now we have olive oil wafers. These were served with slices of apple, lychee puree and violet flowers, anchovies on carpaccio with flakes of olive oil.

As if this wasn’t dazzling enough, he then went on to make olive oil butter and emphasised that this technique reinforces the flavour, otherwise he wouldn’t bother doing it.

Paco Roncero from El Casino in Madrid has also been experimenting with olive oil. He commenced his presentation by making a hot mayonnaise with an emulsifier called santan rubber. He then went on to make spaghetti with olive oil, through a syringe into iced water. Next came ravioli made from olive oil which doesn’t melt. He filled it with a cauliflower puree and browned it with a blow torch and served it with salmon caviar on spoons. Finally, he added honey water to the olive oil, whizzed it in the Theromix and hey presto there were gum drops which he coated with citrus zest and sugar. By now I was deeply sceptical but Paco had made one for everyone in the audience, both texture and flavour were absolutely delicious. 

Senen Gonzalez the brilliant young chef from Sideria Sagartoki in Vitoria has revolutionised miniature cuisine and has made a name for himself with his revolutionary use of the grill and hot coals.

These chefs and at least another 20 who had participated in this event are in the vanguard of an exciting new food movement. Weird and strange as it may seem now, I have a deep conviction that at least some of their experiments and techniques will become mainstream within a few years, but somehow I hope we are spared the fish eyes.

It eventually occurred to me that there was only one woman chef – Elena Arsack, daughter of the much loved Basque chef Jean Mari Arzak. It was all very macho stuff, I wondered if this type of cooking was less appealing to women. Boys with their toys – Bamix, Theromix, Pacojet, siphons, syringes, eye droppers, misters, liquid nitrogen…….Many of these chefs have followed Ferran Adria’s lead and now have a laboratory beside their kitchens where they experiment with flavour combinations and textures and special effects. They have stretched the boundaries of ‘accepted’ gastronomy, forcing us to let go of our preconceived notions. In the process they have come up with some astonishing, startling and fun result. Sweet and or savoury dishes, ice-cold on the outside, hot in the centre. Combinations of sweet and savoury flavours hitherto unheard of. 

Having watched Andreas Madrigal, a crazy young chef from Madrid, career his way through 7 or 8 revolutionary tapas in half an hour demonstration. He sweetly described the best tapa as being like a good hug. I was so excited by his food and creativity that I mitched the lunch and took a 20 minute taxi ride to Balsac in Moreto, one of two restaurants he owns in Madrid. The food was sensational, combinations I would never try – I particularly remember a delicious anchovy ice-cream, served as part of a mixed tapa, also an unctuous sherry vinegar ice-cream. For interested food lovers, Spain is definitely where its at at present.

Olla Valenciana – (Cocido Mediterraneo) Valencian Stew

This delicious dish would be excellent for a large party.
Serves 10-12

500g (18oz) chick peas 
500g (18oz) chicken or turkey
500g (18oz) black pudding
250g (9oz) fatty bacon – unsmoked streaky
250g (9oz) lean pork
4 leeks
4 carrots
4 potatoes
4 white turnips
4 pears
½ white cabbage
4 sweet potatoes, optional

For the meatballs:
1 chicken liver
100g (3½oz) ground almonds
100g (3½ oz) lean pork, minced
white breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
pine kernels, toasted and chopped
1 clove

Soak the chickpeas overnight in boiling water. (Always use boiling water for chickpeas.)

The following day strain the water off the peas. Fill a large pan with plenty of fresh water and bring to the boil. Put the chickpeas into a bag, add to the pot when the water boils. The chickpeas must not be taken from the heat before they are cooked, nor must the temperature of the liquid drop, otherwise the chickpeas will be hard. If more liquid is needed, ensure it is boiling. After a while, add the meats and bacon, followed by the vegetables. Cook the cabbage separately in some of the liquid from the chickpeas. (it is important to cook the cabbage separately to keep the flavours separate.)

To make the meatballs:
Mince the chicken livers finely. Remove a chunk of bacon from the pot, chop it up and mix it thoroughly with the liver. Soak the bread in the chickpea stock, drain it and add to the mixture. Grind the pine kernels in the mortar along with the lemon zest, spices and salt. Mix with the other ingredients and the ground almonds. Mince the pork and mix in along with the egg. Mix everything together thoroughly, then wrap the mixture in a single large cabbage leaf to form a parcel, or in smaller leaves to form little balls. Add to the stew.

To serve:
Group the ingredients on the plate in the following way: meats, vegetables, balls and chickpeas together at one end of the plate. If one large ball or parcel has been made, cut into 1cm slices.

Use the stock to make a soup by adding some noodles. Serve everything at the same time.

Ajoblanco with Apple – Ajoblanca de Almendras con Manzana

Also called Gazpacho Blanco
Many people are familiar with the tomato version of Gazpacho but this white version comes from Cordoba and is very nutritious.
Serves 4-6

250g (9oz) blanched, peeled almonds
4 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
4 slices of stale bread with the crusts removed
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 apples (or 1 bunch white grapes, or 2 slices of melon)

Mash the garlic and salt in a mortar, gradually adding the almonds until a smooth paste is attained. This can be done much more easily in a food processor. Soak the bread in water and mix into the paste along with the oil and vinegar.

Mix everything thoroughly, then add four cups of cold water. The soup should have a thick, smooth consistency. Add ice cubes if desired. The fruit should be added just before serving. Apple or melon should be diced and grapes should be whole.

The proportions of garlic, olive oil and vinegar are entirely a matter of taste. This will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.

Carne con Salsa de Pinones Y Aceitunas

Beef with Pine Kernel and Olive Sauce
Serves 4

500g (18oz) beef, cut into 4-5cm chunks
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
50g (2oz) pine kernels, toasted and chopped
4 sprigs of parsley
100ml (3½ fl.ozs) olive oil
1 hard boiled egg
400ml (14 fl.oz) water or stock
1 teasp. sweet Spanish paprika
100g (3½ oz) pitted green olives 

Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the beef until it starts to brown, then remove from the pan to put to one side.

Using the same oil, lightly fry the chopped onion, then add the paprika, followed by the water, fried beef, olives and some salt. 

Cover the pan and cook over a low heat until the meat is tender (45mins-1 hour in a casserole, 30 mins in a pressure cooker).

Meanwhile heat the tomatoes and garlic, unpeeled, in a non-stick pan, turning them frequently, until the tomatoes are softish and the garlic slightly roasted. When they are ready, peel the cloves of garlic, and peel and remove the seeds from the tomatoes. In a mortar, mash the pine kernels, parsley, garlic and tomato flesh, then add the mixture to the meat when it is cooked.

Lastly, finely chop the hard boiled egg and sprinkle it over the other ingredients. Boil for five minutes and serve.

Tortada de Almendras – Almond Meringue

500g (18oz) peeled, toasted almonds
12 eggs
575g (1lb 5oz) castor sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 teasp. ground cinnamon
150g (5oz) white flour

1 teasp. ground cinnamon
50g (2oz) icing sugar

Finely grind the almonds in a mixer or food processor and set aside.

Beat the yolks of the eggs with the sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon until everything is thoroughly mixed. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then add the almonds as slowly as possible. Then add the flour and stir very lightly, otherwise the egg whites will fall. Finally add the eggs and sugar. Beat everything together very quickly.

Take a circular mould with quite high sides and grease with butter, then sprinkle with sugar to prevent sticking. Put the mixture into the mould and bake in an oven, preheated to 225C/425F/gas 7, for about 15 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool. Meanwhile, mix the icing sugar and cinnamon together and then sprinkle over the cake using a shaker, or cut a pattern out of a piece of paper, place over the cake, then shake the cinnamon and sugar over it separately to create a two colour effect.

Foolproof food

Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

This is a fresh tangy light ice cream, easy peasy to make and a delight to eat at the end of any meal winter or summer.
Serves 4

1 free range egg
250ml (9 fl oz) milk
130g (5oz) castor sugar
Zest and juice of 1 good lemon

Fresh Mint leaves and Borage flowers

Separate the egg, whisk the yolk with the milk and keep the white aside. Gradually mix in the sugar. Carefully grate the zest from the lemon on the finest part of a stainless steel grater. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add with the zest to the liquid. Whisk the egg white until quite stiff and fold into the other ingredients. Freeze in a sorbetiere according to the manufacturer’s instructions or put in a freezer in a covered plastic container. 

When the mixture starts to freeze, remove from the freezer and whisk again, or break up in a food processor. Then put it back in the freezer until it is frozen completely. Meanwhile, chill the serving plates.

To Serve
Scoop the ice cream into curls, arrange on chilled plates or in pretty frosted glass dishes. Decorate with borage flowers and fresh mint leaves if you have them.

Hot Tips

This afternoon at 2pm at Ballymaloe Cookery School - Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Smokehouse will do a pork workshop at Ballymaloe Cookery School – curing ham and bacon, air drying, making sausages, salami, chorizo, pates, terrines – using the pig from snout to tail! 2.00-4.30pm €50 tel. 021-4646785 to book.

Diploma in Speciality Food Production – this is a new course commencing in University College, Cork - 11 April – 19 May. 
This course is intended for those who are interested in the prospect of developing speciality foods as a commercial venture or as a way of adding value to agricultural commodities. Would suit those currently in the speciality food sector as well as suppliers, buyers and retailers. For details contact Mary McCarthy-Buckley or Michele Daly, Food Industry Training Unit, Faculty of Food Science and Technology, University College, Cork. Tel -021-4903178 
Congratulations to UCC for taking the initiative in this area. 

Second National Food Fair 2005 – 8,9,10th April, Main Hall, RDS
This exhibition will be a showcase for food producers in Ireland and abroad with Food Village, Wine Depot, Super Theatre and Cookery Demonstrations with some of Ireland’s top chefs. To book a space – contact S&L Promotions – Tel 01-6761811  

Before Christmas there were two wonderful Farmers Markets and Craft Fairs in Athy, Co Kildare. The success of these has prompted a new weekly Sunday market 10am - 3pm in Emily Square, Athy, Co. Kildare - right by the Heritage Centre in the centre of town. Contact: Bernadette McHugh, 086 9191680 

Molly Malones Fresh Fish Market seafood stall, much loved by patrons of Carlow Market, can now be found in Tullamore square outside Bank of Ireland, Thurles Parnell St Car Park on Thursday, Port Laoise Leicester Square outside AIB Bank, and Market Square Tipperary and Clonmel on Friday. Also Bagnelstown Thursday morning and Bunclody Thursday afternoon. More details of other venues and freezer delivery call 053 42592, 087 4128046 or 087 2314752 (mention Ireland Markets please!)

Kuala Lumpur, the sophisticated capital of Malaysia

Doesn’t matter how much you psyche yourself up for a long haul flight to Australia or New Zealand, it really plays havoc with your equilibrium. One has to break the journey somewhere. I’ve had pleasurable pit stops in Hong Kong and did my bit to liven up my wardrobe at Shanghai Tang. Singapore, the Garden City also has its charms but last time I embarked on that journey I chose to stop off in Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur, the sophisticated capital of Malaysia, affectionately referred to as KL by the locals, offers much more that diversion and respite from long haul languor. In most senses it is a thoroughly modern multi-cultural city dominated by the Petronas twin towers, until recently the tallest buildings in the world (Taiwan’s Tapei 101 now holds the title), but it hasn’t yet been subjected to the kind of homogenisation that has robbed Singapore of much of its overt charm.

After the gruelling flight you may want to crash out for a few hours at the Pan Pacific Hotel which is part of the airport complex. Rooms can be hired by the hour – a godsend for weary travellers. If time is limited you could have a relaxing chair massage, practise your putting technique or simply meditate or shop till you drop.

I had a 12 hour transfer so I was determined to ignore the jet lag and explore.

The brilliant new non-stop Kliaekspres train takes just 28 minutes to whiz you past the palms and banana groves into the city centre, so its perfectly possible to zip into K L for even a few hours.

From a cook’s point of view, K L is a glorious melting pot. Hawker food is central to the experience of eating in Malaysia. It is sold from food carts that each specialise in one type of food. Originally the hawker stands were to be found in alleyways and around street corners but now many have been moved into hawker centres and food courts, although these have little of the charm of the originals, the food is still varied and delicious and for the most part very cheap.

There are lots of centres to chose from, I made for Suria Klec, the mall nestled at the base of the Petronas Twin Towers which also includes one of the best food halls in the country, I couldn’t wait to have a comforting plate of chicken rice and a bowl of broth, plus some nasi lemak and a martabak and laksa and a satay. Its agonisingly difficult to know when to stop when faced with so many temptations side by side.

A restorative glass of carrot juice with condensed milk provided the energy to make my way by underground to Chinatown in Jalan Petaling market. Before I explored the wet market I was anxious to visit the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple near the junction of Jalan Tun H shee (open 8-6 daily).

The tiered gateway to the temple is ornate, it seems incongruous in this Chinese setting. Outside, stalls sell fragrant garlands of jasmine and orchid flowers, buy one and drape it around your neck, the heady fragrance will revitalise you and banish any weariness. If you decide to enter the temple don’t forget to remove your footwear and give a little offering as you retrieve them later.

Further down along the road there is the Persatuan Kwong Siew Chinese Temple (7am-5pm) – truly beautiful, I spent a wonderful interlude discreetly watching the devotees reverently make incense offerings as they moved from one incense shrine to the next one and carefully assemble brightly coloured prayer sheet bundles to intercede with their Gods for many intentions. Here also it is much appreciated if you leave a small offering. The kaleidoscopic nature of Kuala Lumpur Society has resulted in a variety of social and religious mores. This multicultural city are Malays with smaller groups of Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, Portuguese and many of mixed race. All these groups are centred around certain neighbourhoods.

Chinatown is concentrated in Jalan Petaling, the character changes through the day. In the early morning people arrive in hordes and throng the dim sum restaurant for breakfast. The wet market bustles through the morning as housewives pick up their fresh produce. Freshness is incredibly important to the Chinese. Fish is often filleted live by women fish mongers, meat is butchered very fresh and all kinds of unmentionable bits are offered for sale and relished. An intriguing variety of chicken awaited their fate in cages. I watched an old Chinese lady carefully chose a plump chicken. Its neck was pulled on the spot, then dipped into a bath of boiling water, plucked, gutted and chopped into pieces to her instructions. Other stalls sold vegetables, chillies, noodles, these were interspersed with stalls selling medicinal dried herbs and roots and other less identifiable products. There were fortune tellers, palm readers, tea shops, coffin makers, pet shops, flower sellers, cooking utensils, cheap clothing, knick knacks. This is a living bustling market, fascinating for the cook or tourist, but so frustrating if you are just in transit and be warned, don’t under any circumstance try to bring any food or plant into Australia or New Zealand. Both countries quite rightly have very stringent rules to protect their countries from plant and animal diseases. If you’re feeling peckish order a bowl of soupy rice noodles or some pan – Chinese dumplings, or bak-cut-the, a fragrant pork and herb stew.

In the afternoon there’s a slight lull in Chinatown but in the evening everything springs to life once more with numerous stalls catering for after office hour crowds. Some stalls even stay open to cater for bleary eyed clubbers – I couldn’t wait to see the action ‘cos I had to make my way back to the airport in time to catch a quick massage before hopping on board Air Malaysia for another 11 hours to Auckland.

Apparently the Malay and Indian neighbourhoods are also a feast for the senses, but that will have to wait for another time.

Malaysian Fragrant Prawns/Shrimp -Udang Wangi

Madhur Jaffrey demonstrated this delicious recipe when she demonstrated at the Ballymaloe Cookery School a few years ago.
Serves 4

2 tbsp/30ml dried prawns
3 tbsp/45ml vegetable oil
2oz/60g 6-8 shallots, peeled and finely chopped (use onion as a substitute)
1 inch/2½cm cube of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
6-8 whole “birds’ eye” chillies or else fresh, hot green chillies
1 tbsp/15ml yellow bean sauce, finely chopped
1 tsp/5ml curry powder
leaves from 2 full stalks of fresh curry leaves (15 dried curry leaves may be substituted)
1 lb (450g) prawns/shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp/5ml oyster sauce
1 tsp/5ml Chinese dark soy sauce
½ tsp/2½ml sugar
2 tsp/10ml chinese rice wine (use dry sherry as a substitute)
a little salt, if needed

Wash the dried prawns and soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Lift them out of the water and either pound them in a mortar or else whiz them in a blender for a few seconds or until they are powdery.

Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in the shallots, ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for a minute. Put in the whole chillies and dried shrimp. Stir once. Put in the yellow bean paste. Stir once. Put in the curry powder and stir once. Throw in the curry leaves and prawns/shrimp. Stir once. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce and 4 tablespoons water. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the prawns/shrimp are just cooked through. Uncover and put in the sugar and wine. Turn heat to high and stir for a few seconds. Taste, adding a little salt only if needed. Serve with plain rice or Jasmine rice and assorted salads or vegetables.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

From Makah-lah! - The true taste of Malaysia – by Carol Selva Rajah.
This is an entire meal in itself – the rice is cooked in chicken fat then boiled in chicken stock, while the soup made from the stock is served with chicken pieces and chilli sauce.

Although the preparation is lengthy, the result is worth the effort. 

300g (10½ oz) long-grained rice
1½kg (3lb) chicken with skin
2 teasp. sesame oil
2 star anise
3cm (1in) length ginger, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1.25l (40fl.oz) chicken stock
3 stalks spring onions (scallions) chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 teasp. salted turnip (tung chye) or pickled radish (tangchai)
1 teasp. sesame oil 
1 tablesp.dark soy sauce
salt, extra to taste
2 tablesp. salted turnip (tung chye), extra or 2 tablesp. sliced tomatoes
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
spring onions (scallions)

125ml (4 fl.oz) chilli garlic sauce or 50ml (2fl.oz) sambal oelek
2 tablesp. vinegar
2 cloves garlic
2cm (¾) length ginger

Wash the rice in water until the water runs clear. Spread the rice on a tea towel (dish towel) in the sun and leave to dry.

Clean the chicken by removing the fat from under the skin and around the back. (You need about 50g/2oz) of chicken fat). Dice the fat and render (melt) in a wok on high heat until the oil is released.

Drain the fat into the dry rice. Heat the sesame oil on medium-high in a wok and fry the rice and fat until aromatic, about 4 minutes.

Blend the star anise, ginger and garlic together in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Rub the chicken inside and out with this mixture.

Place the chicken stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the chicken to the saucepan with the spring onions (scallions), salt and pepper and salted turnip. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is just cooked, but not overcooked, approximately 3-4 minutes. The chicken meat should run red if pierced with a metal skewer. If preferred, the chicken can be coated with 2-3 tablesp. of soy sauce and lightly grilled on medium heat for 15 minutes until the skin turns dark and aromatic.

Remove the chicken from the stock. Skim off some of the ‘scum’ that will have formed on the stock – this is used for the sauce, to give a chicken aroma. Reserve the stock for soup and for cooking the rice.

Rub the extra sesame oil and dark soy sauce over the chicken and cool on a rack. Cut the warm chicken into serving-sized pieces just prior to serving.

Cook the rice in a saucepan or rice cooker with 3 cups of the stock and salt to taste. The liquid should be about 3.5centimetres (1¼ in) above the rice. Cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water, approx. 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and fork through any remaining sesame oil. Cover and keep the rice hot.

Reboil the remaining soup with the extra salted turnip. Serve in small bowls with the rice.

Mix the chilli garlic sauce with the vinegar. Pound the garlic and ginger together. Gradually add to the soup scum. Place in bowls to be served on the side.

To serve:
Serve the pieces of chicken on the rice with the bowls of sauce and soup. Garnish with sliced cucumber and shredded spring onions (scallions).

Naranjan’s Lemongrass and Palm Sugar Cake
Naranjan Kaur McCormack comes from Malaysia and fell in love with an Irishman, hence the surname. She now lives in Fermoy, Co Cork and delights our students with tastes of her native food, this is her recipe.
Although lemongrass is not as yet usually associated with sweets and desserts, it is actually fairly widely used in sweet and savoury dishes in the East! This is a recipe that I have adapted from a Malay version that my friend Aminah binte Ismail used to make when we used to have tea together on my visits home. 

Serve it at teatime with a lemon water icing, or make a lemongrass syrup, pour it over the cake while it is still hot and cut it up into diamonds or squares and pour condensed milk over each slice just before serving it as a pudding.

Serves 8-10

12 ozs (340 g) unsalted butter, softened
12 ozs (340 g) palm sugar
5-6 eggs, separated
6 ozs ( 170 g) self raising flour
A pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
8 ozs ( 220 g) desiccated coconut
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3-4 stalks fresh lemongrass – cut up very finely so that the pieces resemble grains of sugar

Grease a 15 cm/6 inch round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Sieve together the self-raising flour, salt, baking powder and the desiccated coconut. 
Cream the butter and the palm sugar together in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then fold in the dry ingredients. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then fold into the cake mixture, together with the lemon juice and the finely chopped lemongrass. Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake in a preheated oven at 170C/325F/regulo 3 for about 1½ hours or until a fine skewer inserted into the middle of the cake will come out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before removing it. 

Foolproof Food

February Citrus fruit Salad

In the winter when many fruits have abysmal flavour the citrus fruit are at their best, this delicious fresh tasting salad uses a wide variety of that ever expanding family. Its particularly good with blood oranges which appear in the shops for only a few weeks, so make the most of them. Ugli fruit, Pomelo, Tangelos, Sweeties or any other members of the citrus family may be used in season.
Serves 6 approx.

½lb (225g) Kumquats
12 fl ozs (350ml) water
7 ozs (200g) sugar
1 lime
½ lb (225g) Clementines
¼-½ lb (110g-225g) Tangerines or Mandarins
2 blood oranges
1 pink grapefruit
lemon juice to taste if necessary

Slice the kumquats into ¼ inch (5mm) rounds, remove pips. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat, add the sliced kumquats. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool. Remove the zest from the lime with a zester and add with the juice to the kumquats. Meanwhile peel the tangerines and clementines and remove as much of the white pith and strings as possible. Slice into rounds of ¼ inch (5mm) thickness, add to the syrup. Segment the pink grapefruit and blood oranges and add to the syrup also. Leave to macerate for at least an hour. Taste and add a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary. Serve chilled. 

Top Tips

Brown Envelope Seeds
Madeleine McKeever is growing a variety of seeds for sale, many are heirloom varieties, others more modern. All certified organic and registered with Dept. of Agriculture. List available from Madeleine McKeever, Ardagh, Church Cross, Skibbereen, Co Cork Tel 028-38184

Growing Awareness is holding a 'Seasonal Vegetable Garden Course' at 
Glebe Gardens, Baltimore on Sunday February 6th. 11am - 4-30pm. Cost €25 
Contact Jean Perry on 028 20232 or email to 

Café Glucksman – the newest café to light up Cork’s Culinary Scene
Set inside the old gates of UCC in the modern surroundings of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery. Contemporary Irish cuisine with a twist – simple dishes bursting with flavour.
Run by Pamela Black- formerly of Ballymaloe Cookery School. 
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10-4 Thursday 10-8 Sunday 12-4
Tel 021-4901848 

The Good Things Café Cookery School – Spring Programme 2005 by Carmel Somers - Cookery Courses starting first week in February – Ring Carmel at 027-61426,

Terra Madre

The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer  published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Italian Cheese - A guide to their discovery and appreciation – Slow Food Editore
I’ve just been to the most extraordinary event – it was held in Turin in Northern Italy in the last week in October. Terra Madre, meaning Mother Earth, was billed as the world’s first meeting of food communities. This event initiated by Slow Food was the brainchild of Carlo Petrini founder of Slow Food, the environmentalist food movement. It was held over 4 days in the enormous Palazza del Lavoro in Turin, there were 4,300 participants representing about 1,000 food communities from 130 countries. Terra Madre provided a meeting place and a forum for people from around the world - for farmers, artisans, food producers, seed-savers, fishermen, distributors, cooks, cheese-makers, fish smokers, cured meat producers, bakers, merchants … to come together to exchange ideas, share diverse experiences and to try to find solutions to similar problems.

This event was supported by the Italian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the President of Piedmont Regional Authority and the Mayor of Turin, Coldiretti - Piedmont National Farmers Federation, CRT Foundation and New Holland, the agricultural machinery manufacturer and many other sponsors.

Early this year Slow Food sent out a call to their convivium leaders around the world to identify food communities in each country who were involved in sustainable agriculture.

Sixty five participants came from Ireland. The 4,300 delegates who were chosen were hosted by B&B’s, monasteries, farmers, hostels and entire villages which enabled the visitors to interact and exchange ideas with local farmers and food producers.

At the opening session on Wednesday Carlo Petrini set out his agenda to protect the rights of the small farmer and promote sustainable agriculture. It was also a call to unite against the growing domination of the multinationals and large corporations, ‘alone and divided communities can not react against violence’, Petrini told the enthusiastic if jet-lagged assembly, a vast gathering of food producers who had converged on Turin from all corners of the earth. Some had never before strayed from their villages, not to mention travelled on trains or planes. They came, each food heroes in their own way, each with an amazing story to tell, some clutching precious seeds, others with grains, all with a deep knowledge of their own food culture. Many were dressed in their colourful traditional clothes, distinctive headdress – from Indian feathers to cowboy hats, sombreros, head scarves…

From the several keynote addresses translated into seven official languages, it was clear that politics not just pleasure would dominate the two days of workshops.

Indian activist Vandana Shiva accused decision makers of being out of touch with farmers, ‘the earth’s caretakers’.

Speaker after speaker from the Minister for Agriculture Giovanni Alemanno, to Alice Waters from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, stressed the need for bio-diversity, lashed out against transgenic crops, illustrated how globalization is causing the erosion of rural communities, how the indiscriminate use of pesticides and antibiotics is destroying the land and how the WTO organization accords affect farmers and food producers.

Never before has such a diverse group of like-minded people come together for a common purpose. Where else would Masai peasants meet Afghan raisin farmers, or American maple syrup producers meet yak herders and cheesemakers from Kyrayzstan, or wild Irish salmon smokers meet Ghanaian fishermen.

Over a period of two days there were 67 Earth workshops on a huge variety of topics, many were brilliant, others were a little chaotic when occasionally desperate delegates from indigenous communities elbowed their way onto any forum to tell their story.

The story was always fascinating but not always relevant to the topic. On a panel that I spoke on there were 5 official speakers, thirteen turned up to speak! 

Dolores Godeffroy from Swaziland had fought for years to open the first African restaurant in her country. An old Russian woman spoke passionately about a local grain. Members of the Tohona O’dan tribe in Arizona came determined to spread the word about the tepary bean, a valuable traditional food they were reintroducing to try to reduce obesity and diabetes in their population.

Slow Food, since its inception in 1986 has already battled and successfully saved a growing number of foods and drinks threatened with extinction. It defends our right as consumers to free choice. It could be described as the Greenpeace of gastronomy.

Prince Charles, an organic farmer himself, addressed the closing session. In his speech to the conference, the Prince highlighted the huge social and environmental costs of cheap ‘fast food’. His Royal Highness said: ‘Any analysis of the real costs would have to look at such things as the rise in food-borne illnesses, the advent of new pathogens such as E.Coli 0157, antibiotic resistance from the overuse of drugs in animal feed, extensive water pollution from intensive agricultural systems, and many other factors. These costs are not reflected in the price of fast food, but that doesn’t mean that our society isn’t paying them.’

Terra Madre preceded the Salone del Gusto, the biggest artisanal food fair in the world by a couple of days – there, hundreds of producers sold their products to a public increasingly craving forgotten flavours. Ireland was well represented by Bord Bia who proudly displayed the food of our artisan producers - Fingal Ferguson’s ham, Con Traas Apple Juice, Carlow Brewing, Connemara Smokehouse, Crossogue Preserves, Milleeven, and a huge variety of Irish farmhouse cheeses.

The response was overwhelming but the most sought after item was Oliver Beaujouan’s seaweed tapenade and dilisk collected and prepared by the dedicated seaweed collector.

Further down the aisle the Irish raw milk cheese and Wild Irish Salmon presidia were getting a tremendous response. Irish Cheesemakers and fish smokers who manned the stalls were astonished by the positive response to the product.

It was more than evident to everyone who travelled to Turin that there is a deep craving and a growing market for artisan and specialist food products. Over 140,000 people visited in three days – its over for this year, mark October 2006 in your diary – its an event no food lover should miss. October 2005 will bring the Cheese Festival in Bra. 

Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork with Fennel Seeds

Shoulder of pork is best for this long slow cooking method, the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away. We also slow roast shoulder of lamb which is succulent and juicy.
Serves 8 – 10

1 whole shoulder of pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25 kg (7-8 lb) in weight
8 garlic cloves, peeled
30 g (1 oz) fennel seeds
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, optional

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8. 

Using a small sharp knife, (a Stanley knife if best), score the rind of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5 mm (1/4’’) wide.

Peel and crush the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Push this mixture into the cuts, over the rind and on the surface of the meat. Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to blister and brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/325ºF/Gas 3, and leave the meat to roast for 5-6 hours or more until

it is completely soft under the crisp skin. The meat will give way and will almost fall off the bone. Serve each person some crisp skin and some chunks of meat cut from different parts of the shoulder. Serve with soft fluffy mashed potato.
Loin and streaky pork is also delicious cooked in this way.

Irish Apple Cake

We are always being asked for this delicious traditional recipe
It would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates. These are much better than ovenproof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily - worth remembering, as a tart with a soggy base is not attractive! 
Serves 6 approx.

8 ozs (225g) flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
4 ozs (110g) butter
42 ozs (125g) castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free-range
2-4 fl. ozs (50-120ml) milk, approx.
1-2 cooking apples - we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
2-3 cloves (optional)
egg wash
Ovenproof plate 

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs, add 3 ozs (85g) castor sugar, make a well in the centre and mix to a soft dough with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half onto a greased ovenproof plate and pat out to cover. Peel, core and chop up the apples, place them on the dough and add 12 ozs (45g) sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit on top, this is easier said than done as this 'pastry' is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 40 minutes approx. or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with castor sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

Ballymaloe Irish Stew

Serves 4-6

2½ - 3 lbs (1.35kg) lamb chops (gigot or rack chops) not less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick
8 medium or 12 baby carrots
8 medium or 12 baby onions
8 -12 potatoes, or more if you like
salt and freshly ground pepper
1½-1¾ pints stock (lamb stock if possible) or water
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablesp. roux, optional – see recipe

1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley
1 tablesp. freshly chopped chives

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

Cut the chops in half and trim off some of the excess fat. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces).

Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young you could leave some of the green stalk on the onion and carrot). Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are small leave them whole. If the onions are large, cut them into quarters through the root, if they are small they are best left whole.

Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with freshly ground pepper and salt. De-glaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1-1½ hours approx, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or hogget.

When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease and reheat in another saucepan. Slightly thicken by whisking in a little roux if you like. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve from the pot or in a large pottery dish.

4 ozs (110g) butter
4 ozs (110g) flour
elt 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.
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Irish Stew with Pearl Barley
Add 1-2 tablespoons pearl barley with the vegetables.
Increase the stock to 2 pints (1.2L) as the pearl barley soaks up lots of liquid.

Yum, Yum Pigs Bum

This soup recipe of Giana Ferguson’s comes from ‘The Pleasures of Slow Food’ by Corby Kummer, published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Serves 4-6 as a main course

12 ozs (175g) dark green kale, such as dinosaur or lacinato
6 cups (48 fl.oz/scant 1½ litres) water
salt to taste
1 lb (450g) russet potatoes, (eg Rooster), peeled and cut into ½ inch dice.
2fl.ozs (50ml) extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ozs (110g) smoked garlic sausage, cut into ½ inch dice or smoked bacon, cut into ¼ inch crosswise slices.

Strip the cabbage leaves from their stems and cut away the tough mid-ribs of any large leaves. Roll the leaves tightly into cigars and, using a sharp knife, cut them into shreds. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add salt. Add the potatoes and cook until soft and beginning to fall apart, about 8-10 minutes. Using a potato masher, smash them into a puree. Adjust the heat so that the soup simmers gently. Add the cabbage, olive oil and salt and black pepper, keeping in mind that the sausage or bacon may be salty. Simmer until the cabbage is tender, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage or bacon in a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat until crisp and golden brown. Drain the fat and set the meat aside.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Divide the sausage or bacon among the bowls.

Foolproof Food

Nutella Pannini

Serves 1
1 Pannini
Nutella or Green & Black’s organic chocolate hazelnut spread.

Split the pannini in half. Spread generously with Nutella or chocolate spread. Pan-grill or toast on both sides. Serve immediately. Watch out, it can be very hot!

Hot Tips

Slow Food Books – The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer  published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Italian Cheese - A guide to their discovery and appreciation – Slow Food Editore

Geese and Free range bronze Turkeys for Christmas - order now - contact Noirin Buckley at 021-7331119

Lettercollum Kitchen Project – Cooking Classes, Gourmet Catering, Cooking Holidays  Lettercollum House, Timoleague, Co Cork, Tel 023-46251

Alastair Sawday Special Places to Stay – hundreds of properties throughout Europe – check out the Alastair Sawday Guides or visit  – now introducing their Fine Breakfast Scheme in Ireland – B&B owners can sign up to pledge their commitment to the scheme to serve breakfasts of only the finest and best available ingredients. Alastair Sawday Publishing, the Home Farm Stables, Barrow Court Lane, Barrow Gurney, Bristol BS48 3RW. Tel 00 44 1275 464891

The Borough Market

Every now and then I need to pop over to London for a meeting so I use it as an excuse to check out the food scene, perhaps catch a show or maybe visit an exhibition. This time I spent a happy few hours meandering through the Augustus and Gwen John exhibition at the Tate but neither love nor money could secure tickets for David Hall’s play ?? at the National Theatre on Saturday night. The whole run is booked out but it is occasionally possible to get returns if one is prepared to queue at the ticket booth in Leicester Square on the day.
Food lovers who find themselves in London on Saturday morning should don a pair of runners, grab a couple of stout shopping bags and head over the river at London Bridge for the Borough Market. Unless you want to beat your way through crowds, comparable to Patrick Street on Christmas Eve, you’ll need to drag yourself out of bed early. We got there at 11.15am by which time the market was thronged with eager, almost frenzied shoppers, tourists and two rival television crews. I bumped into several friends including a past student dressed in motorbike leathers who was on a mission to pick up a variety of offal for an offal feast he and his pals were cooking that night.

Stalls were piled high with vegetables, autumn fruit, wild mushrooms and fresh herbs. Jocular butchers vied to outsell each other with their selection of meat from rare breeds, organic, free-range, well hung and dry aged, Cured meats, salamis, dry-cured bacon, prosciutto….. At Brindisa, Serrano ham and Pata Negra were being sliced off the hoof. Two people worked unceasingly yet couldn’t keep up with the demand. We ordered and paid for 100g of Pata Negra and the sensational Spanish cured ham of the black pigs fattened on acorns in the woods of Aracena in Andalusia. We were told to come back in 30 minutes to collect it. I bought some pimento de padron, the little green peppers from Galicia which are almost impossible to come by outside Spain - fried in oil and sprinkled with coarse salt they are one of my favourite Spanish foods.

By now a queue of about 20 people had formed around the corner of the stall for the Chorizo sandwiches, a soft chewy bap split in half lengthwise was filled with a sizzling chorizo, some rocket leaves and a few pieces of piquillo pepper – an irresistible combination. Other stalls were groaning with farmhouse cheese, mouthwatering cakes and cookies and fresh fish. Oliver Beaujouan was over in London for the Selfridges promotion during 6-17 October, highlighting the best produce from South West Ireland, so he was selling his pickled sea weeds and sea weed tapenade to a rapturous public. His assistant sold Silke Cropp’s Corleggy and Drumlin cheeses. When I visited Selfridges to meet some of the Irish artisan producers Tristan Hugh- Jones was opening Irish oysters at the fish counter and Richard Corrigan, the hugely acclaimed Irish chef of Lindsay House was having no difficultly enticing people to taste Irish beef with a Bearnaise sauce made from Kerrygold butter, or an Irish seaweed tapenade.

After the market we stopped at the Monmouth Coffee Shop for a reviving cup of freshly ground Fair Trade coffee and some great bread and jam – seek it out, some of the very best coffee in London. Coffee lovers may also want to make a trip to the Algerian Coffee Shop in Old Compton Street. Around the corner – a mecca for cheese lovers - Randolf Hodgson’s Neal’s Yard Dairy has the best selection of British and Irish farmhouse cheese in superb condition in theses islands.
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We had lunch in Brindisa’s new tapas bar, the food was REALLY good, every morsel delicious. We fought over deep fried Monte Enebro cheese with orange blossom honey. Farmhouse Mahon with tomato marmalade and a chicory salad with 

Cabrales cheese and walnut vinaigrette. Other memorable meals were a breakfast at Baker and Spice in Denver Street (get there early, there was a queue at 9.30 on Sunday morning). Dinner at St Jean Fergus Hendersons’s simple almost Spartan restaurant in a converted Smithfield smoke house is a mecca for passionate meat eaters and offal fiends.

There is a now a St John Bread and Wine in Commercial St which boasts a full working bakery and a bistro style modern British menu. I also swung by Babes ‘n Burgers to check out the newest concept in kids food. Owners William and Sam Sarne and their contemporaries now have kids so they want to provide the kind of fast casual restaurant and healthy fast food that they want their kids to eat and really enjoy. They are attracting a new kind of fashionable punter who doesn’t care much about swanky table service but wants more than a mystery meat burger, preferably organic. There’s a nursery room at the back with low tables, easy wipe banquette seats and lots of toys and puzzles. Sam has plans for a Saturday club for dads who can chat and chill while the kids eat cruditees or chicken fingers coated in spelt flour; or great little organic burgers served with Maris Piper chips. Sticky fingers in Phillimore Gardens in Kensington, is another fun restaurant to check out if you are bringing the kids to London.

We also had a delicious dinner at Kensington Place, Rowley Leigh’s ever popular eatery on Kensington Church St. Starters and puds were best. If you are there at lunch time don’t miss Sally Clarke’s food shop and bakery across the road.

Both Rowley Leigh and Fergus Henderson have published cookbooks – see Hot Tips – here are some of their recipes.

Devilled Kidneys

 from ‘ Nose to Tail Eating’ by Fergus Henderson
Serves 2

6 lamb’s kidneys, suet and membrane removed and slit in half lengthwise, retaining the kidney shape
3 tbsp. plain flour
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp dry English mustard
sea salt and pepper
a big knob of butter
Worcester sauce
A healthy splash of chicken stock
2 pieces of toast (white or brown, up to you, though – just an observation – white seems to sup up the juices better)

Nip out the white fatty gristle of the kidneys with a knife or scissors. Mix together the flour, cayenne pepper, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl.

Get a frying pan very hot, throw in a knob of butter, and as this melts roll your kidneys in your spiced flour, then shake them in a sieve to remove excess. Place them in a sizzling pan, cook for 2 minutes each side, add a hearty splash of Worcester sauce and the chicken stock, and let all the ingredients get to know each other. Remove the kidneys to your two waiting bits of toast, let the sauce reduce and emulsify in the pan (do not let it disappear) and pour over the kidneys and toast. 

Brined Pork Belly

 from ‘Nose to Tail Eating’ by Fergus Henderson
Serves 4

Brine – see recipe
2kg piece of pork belly, with skin and bones on
2 onions, peeled and chopped
a miniscule splash of olive oil
a pinch of coarse sea salt

Brine your pork belly for 3 days, rinse, then score the skin gently with a sharp knife, a Stanley knife is excellent for this purpose.

Place the onions on the base of a roasting tray (their purpose is, as well as flavour, to stop the belly sticking.) Lay the belly on top. Rub the skin with a little oil and then the salt. Place in a medium to hot oven for approximately 1½ - 2 hours, keep an eye on it so it does not burn. If you’re anxious that the skin is not crisping up, you start or finish the belly under the grill.

When cooked you should have crispy skin on top of soft and giving fatty flesh. Lift off the onions and serve.


Makes 4 litres
You can use this brine to preserve other meats, eg beef brisket or silverside or ox tongue.

400g caster sugar
600g sea salt
12 juniper berries
12 cloves 
12 black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
4 litres water

Bring all the brine ingredients together in a pot, and bring to the boil so the sugar and salt melt. Decant into a container and allow to cool. When cold add to your meat, and leave it in the brine for the number of days required for your recipe.

Griddled Scallops with Pea Puree and Mint Vinaigrette

‘There’s no place like home by Rowley Leigh’.
Serves 2

2 spring onions
the outside leaves of a lettuce
150g fresh shelled or frozen peas
1 bunch of mint
½ glass of white wine
75ml double cream
lemon juice
50ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
125ml sunflower oil
8 scallops, shucked, rinsed and cut in half if very large

Although you will not need so much mint vinaigrette, it is difficult to make in smaller quantity and keeps well in the fridge, to accompany some lamb chops on another occasion.

To make the puree, slice the spring onions and stew them in a little butter. Finely shred the lettuce leaves and add to the pan, then stir in the peas. Add three or four leaves of mint, a small pinch of nutmeg, a good pinch of sugar and some salt and pepper. Add the white wine and then stew, covered on a low heat for half an hour. When the peas are very tender and swollen, add the cream and simmer briskly to reduce, until it is in danger of catching on the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender until very smooth. Sharpen the seasoning with a little squeeze of lemon and more salt and pepper if it needs it. Put the puree in a small saucepan and keep warm.

To make the vinaigrette, pick six or seven sprigs of mint, chop the leaves very roughly and put them in a blender. Add a teaspoon of sugar and a big pinch of salt. Bring the vinegar up to the boil and pour over the mint. Switch on the blender and add the oil in a steady trickle. Check the seasoning and adjust with lemon, salt and pepper if necessary.

To cook the scallops, salt them lightly, leave for ten minutes and then pat them dry with kitchen paper. Lightly brush them with a little sunflower oil. Get a heavy, dry frying pan or a griddle very hot and put the scallops on it one by one. Do not move them for a couple of minutes but let them brown well. Turn and cook for another two minutes, then remove. They should be just hot in the middle, but very moist.

To serve, arrange the scallops around a mound of the pea puree on each plate and drizzle the vinaigrette between them. Do not drown the scallops.

Tarte Tatin

There are tatins of everything under the sun these days, but this was the first and remains the best. A really heavy pan (preferably made or iron or copper), about 22-24cm in diameter, with straight or almost straight sides is pretty well essential for its successful execution. Cox’s are certainly the ideal apple, partly because they have the necessary acidity and depth of flavour to cope well with all that sugar and partly because they do not fall apart during cooking.
2 lemons
2kg Cox’s apples
125g unsalted butter, slightly softened
125g caster sugar
200g puff pastry

Squeeze the juice of the lemons and put it in a large pudding basin or similar shaped bowl with a couple of tablespoons of water. Peel and halve the apples, remove the cores with a teaspoon and roll the halves in the juice.

Smear the butter generously all over the base and sides of the cold pan. Sprinkle the sugar on top and give the pan a shake to ensure it is evenly distributed. Drain the apples of any lemon juice and arrange them, standing on their sides, in concentric circles, embedding them in the butter/sugar mix. Pack them in as tightly as you can, then put the pan on the fiercest heat you have.

While keeping a beady eye on pan, roll out the puff pastry into a disc about 2cm wider than the rim of the pan and leave it to rest on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a plate in the fridge. Watch the sides of the pan very closely. You are looking for a good, rich caramel colour to develop. Move the pan around on the heat to ensure the mixture caramelises evenly. It needs a certain courage to keep going in order to get a rich, deep toffee colour. This whole process can take ten to twenty minutes, depending on the pan and the strength of the flame. When it is done, transfer to a heatproof surface or a pot rest.

After five minutes or so, when the pan has cooled a little, drop the disc of pastry on to the apples and let the edges hang over the sides of the pan. Place the pan in an oven preheated to 220C/gas mark 7 and bake for fifteen minutes, or until the pastry is nicely risen.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a minute.

The moment of truth has arrived: place an inverted plate, slightly bigger than the pan, over the top. With one hand firmly in place over the plate, grip the handle equally firmly with your other hand and a cloth and, with a determined turn of the wrist, flip the pan over on to the plate. Lower the plate on to a surface, pause a moment and then lift off the pan. Behold, one hopes, a perfect golden circle of apples. If things are not as perfect as they might be, do not despair, but grab a palette knife and shape the apples into place. This might include a bit of scraping around in the pan, gathering up some residual bits of apple and caramel.

Serve warm with a bit of double cream.

Foolproof Food

Rowley Leigh’s Parsnip, Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac or swede mash.

All of these roots gain body and substance from the tolerant spud. Being low in starch, they also help to alleviate the glue problem.

Simply cook an equal amount of the root vegetable, cut the same size, with the potato. Although the roots will cook faster than the potato, they are more fibrous and need breaking down more to make a smooth mash. Drain extremely well and take care to dry the mixture thoroughly in the pan before adding the milk. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to parsnip mash to give a sharper, stronger flavour of parsnip.

Hot Tips

Time Out London Eating and Drinking Guide – the brand new edition of this guide has just been published. With more than 1,200 reviews of the best restaurants, gastropubs, cafes and bars plus a new section covering party venues and entertainment, food and drink shops, cookery and wine courses, this is still the biggest and best guide to London eating and drinking you’ll find. Available from for £8.99 or £10.99 at good bookshops.

Monmouth Coffee Company, 27 Monmouth St, London WC2 Tel 020 7 836 5272
Algerian Coffee Store, 52 Old Compton St. London W1. Tel 020 7 437 2480
Neals Yard Dairy, 17 Short’s Garden, London WC2 Tel 020 7 379 7646
Brindisa, 3 Riverside Workshops, 28 Park St, London SE1. Tel 020 7 403 0282
Lindsay House, 21 Romilly Street, W1D 5AFl Tel 020 7 439 0450 

St John, 26 John St, London EC1M 4AY Tel 020 7 251 0848 

St John Bread & Wine, 94-96 Commercial St. London E1 Tel 020 7 247 8724  

Kensington Place, 201 Kensington Church St. London W8 7LX Tel 020 7 727 3184 

Clarke’s, 124 Kensington Church St, London W8 4BH Tel 020 7 221 9225 

Babes ‘n Burgers, 275 Portobello Road, London W11 Tel 020 7 727 4163

Sticky Fingers, 1A Phillimore Gardens, W8 7QB London, Tel 020 7 938 5338 

Books – Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson, published by Macmillan, London

No Place Like Home by Rowley Leigh published by Fourth Estate, London.

Birr Market – Special Halloween Market today 23rd October

The Olympic flame in Athens rekindled a passion for all things Greek

When the Olympic flame was lit in Athens at the start of the games it rekindled a passion for all things Greek from Nana Mouskouri to Telly Savalas.

The spectacular opening ceremony drew gasps of admiration from viewers all over the globe as they focused in on Greece – the Olympic Games had come home. 

For me, interested in gastronomy more than sport, memories of my last trip to Greece came flooding back – thick ewe’s milk yogurt, drizzled with local honey for breakfast at the Hotel Maronika in the little fishing village of Epidavros. In Ampeloesa Taverna across the quay I ate Octopus with lemon and rigani, Skordalia, Melanzana Salata, a delicious salad of black-eyed beans with finely sliced scallion and dill, drizzled with Greek Extra Virgin Olive oil and lemon and of course the ubiquitous Taramasalata. After the simple feast, my new Greek friends Georges, Dimitri, Charles and Andreas jumped up and spontaneously started to dance to the CD in the juke box, with their arms linked they stepped lightly and swirled gracefully, they knew all the words of the songs – sad songs, rebel songs, love songs and there was a wonderful easy camaraderie between them. They danced and sang for sheer joy long after I’d headed for my comfy bed overlooking the harbour.

Now that we’re in the Greek spirit, why not recreate the atmosphere of a Greek taverna –think whitewashed walls and blue paintwork, check table cloths- set the table with white utilitarian style plates and glasses, a bowl of fresh lemons as a centrepiece and maybe a few branches of olive or bay leaves. Greek food is all about conviviality and communal pleasure and taverna style dining is marked by its simplicity and generosity, dishes of food on the table for guests to share. Try to find some ouzo and retsina, the Aleppo pine flavoured wine to serve with the mezze.

Its easy to recreate Greek flavours if not the climate, think olives, lemons, feta, lamb, cod’s roe, dried figs, walnuts, pistachios, honey, vine leaves, saffron, yogurt, capers, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, strong coffee ……. Plan your menu, ring up the pals, whip up a Greek Village Salad, snatch a few minutes of the Olympics. Find a CD of Greek music to get you into the spirit. Demis Roussos or the theme music from Zorba the Greek would be terrific– you may want to dance after all that ouzo!.

Aubergine Puree with Olive Oil and Lemon

Serves 6 approx.
This is one of my absolute favourite ways to eat aubergine. It is served all through the southern Mediterranean, there are many delicious variations and it is often included in a plate of Mezze.

4 large aubergines
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, optional
Roast or grill the aubergines depending on the flavour you like.

Prick the aubergines in a few places. Roast whole in a hot oven for about 30 minutes, turning over from time to time – they will collapse and soften. To grill, prick them as for roasting, put on a wire rack under the grill and turn them regularly until the skin is black and charred.

Allow to cool. Peel the aubergines thinly, careful to get every little morsel of flesh. Discard the skin and drain the flesh in a sieve or colander. Transfer to a bowl, mash the puree with a fork or chop with a knife depending on the texture you like. Add extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

1. Freshly crushed garlic may also be added.
2. In Turkey some thick Greek yoghurt is often added, about 5-6 tablespoons for this quantity of aubergine puree, reduce the olive oil by half.
Mixed with ricotta and freshly chopped herbs eg. marjoram this makes a delicious 'sauce' for pasta.

Squid with Olive Oil, Fresh herbs and Garlic

Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main course
2 medium-sized squid
4 tablesp extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek – Mani would be good
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tablesp. parsley, chopped
1 -2 tablesp. oregano or dill, chopped
Segments of lemon

First prepare the squid. .
Cut off the tentacles just in front of the eyes and remove the beak. Pull the entrails out of the sac and discard. Catch the tip of the quill and pull it out of the sac. (Now you know why the squid is called the scribe of the sea.) Pull off the wings and scrape the purplish membrane off them and the sac. Wash the sac, wings and tentacles well.

Cut the sac into ¼ inch (5 mm) rings, the tentacles into 2 inch (5 cm) strips and the wings into ¼ inch (5 mm) strips across the grain.

Just before serving, heat 4 plates. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, stir, (careful not to burn, toss in the squid (do it in two batches if necessary). Toss around for 30-60 seconds or until the pieces turn from opaque to white. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the herbs, taste. Serve instantly on hot plates with a segment of lemon on each.


This Greek speciality is a delicious cucumber and yoghurt mixture. It can be served as an accompanying salad or as a sauce to serve with grilled fish or meat. Greek yoghurt is most often made with sheep's milk and is wonderfully thick and creamy.
1 crisp Irish cucumber, peeled and diced into c-3 inch dice approx.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tablesp. of freshly chopped mint
1 pint (450ml) Greek yoghurt or best quality natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons cream

If time allows, put the cucumber dice into a sieve and sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for about 30 minutes. Dry the cucumber on kitchen paper, put into a bowl and mix with garlic, a dash of wine vinegar or lemon juice and the yoghurt and cream. Stir in the mint and taste, it may need a little salt and freshly ground pepper, or even a pinch of sugar.

Baklavas – Honey and Almond Cakes

From ‘Greek Food’ by Rena Salaman
This is a sumptuous cake, suitable for a large gathering and not difficult to make. Left covered at room temperature, it will keep for days even if it does become a little drier. This quantity will make approximately sixteen medium-sized pieces. Allow two per person

450g (1lb) walnut, coarsely chopped
55g (2oz) sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

225g (8oz) caster sugar
300ml (½ pint) water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablesp. lemon juice
some lemon peel
2 tablesp. Greek honey

450g (1lb) fyllo (filo) pastry
170g (6oz) unsalted butter, melted

Mix all the filling ingredients in a bowl.

Liberally butter the base and sides of an elongated or round, as is more familiar in Greece, baking dish. Measure the length of the fyllo against the baking dish roughly and, allowing 2cm (1in) extra approximately for shrinkage, cut to length with a sharp knife.

Brush each layer of fyllo with melted butter and spread over the base of the container as evenly as possible. (A few folds here and there will not mean the end of the world or your cooking career!) Once you have used 5 layers of pastry, sprinkle a thin layer of filling all over the surface and add 3 more layers. Sprinkle a thin layer of filling and place 2 more sheets of fyllo on top. Sprinkle on the remaining filling, spreading it evenly, and cover with 7-8 more layers of fyllo, brushing individually with butter. Fold any excess pastry on either of the sides over the filling and brush it with butter.

(Alternatively, spread 8-9 sheets of pastry on the base and sprinkle all the filling evenly on it. Cover with 7-8 sheets of pastry).

Brush the top layer liberally with butter in order to get it crisp and golden. Trim any excess pastry with a sharp knife, keeping in mind that it will also shrink. Cut the top layers of fyllo carefully, either diagonally into diamond shapes or straight, which will result in square or elongated pieces. Be careful not to cut right down to the base, but only the top layers. This is done in order to make cutting and lifting the pieces out, once it is cooked, much easier and efficient.

Using the tips of your fingers, sprinkle drops of water all over the surface, in order to prevent the pastry from curling up, and cook it in a pre-heated over, gas no. 5 (375F/190C) for 15 minutes; lower the heat to gas no.4 (350F/180C) and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Burgi Blaüel’s Moussaka

Serves about 16
4 tablesp. Mani extra virgin olive oil,
3 large onions, chopped
300-350ml (10-12flozs) red wine – preferably Greek
salt and freshly ground pepper
1-3 teasp. ground cinnamon to taste
3kg (6lb 10oz) aubergines or
1½ kg (3lb 5oz) aubergines and 1½ kg (3lb 5oz) zucchini (courgettes)
3kg (6lb 10z) potatoes, cooked, peeled and sliced
1½ kg (3lb 5oz) beef, lamb or pork, freshly minced
1kg (23 lb) of passata

Béchamel Sauce:
1 litre (1¾ pints) milk
250g (9oz) flour
1 teasp. nutmeg
5 free range eggs, whisked

Parmesan cheese 

2 x 25.5 x 21.5cm (10x 8½ inch) lasagne dishes

Slice the aubergines and zucchini into 1cm (½ inch) slices. Score the flesh with a sharp knife and sprinkle with salt. Leave for half an hour.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat, add the chopped onion and sweat for 4-5 minutes, add the mince and wine. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, a little ground cinnamon and the passatta.
Stir and bring to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Rinse and wipe the aubergines and zucchini dry. Heat a little olive oil in a pan grill until hot. Cook the aubergines on both sides until golden. Brush the zucchini with olive oil, pan grill until light golden on each side. 

Heat the milk, whisk in the flour, add the whisked eggs. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and nutmeg.

To assemble:
Arrange a layer of sliced aubergine on the base of the dishes, followed by a layer of sliced zucchini and then a layer of potato. Season well between each layer, add a layer of meat sauce. Cover with a layer of Béchamel and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven 180C/350F/gas 4 for 30-35 minutes or until golden on top and bubbly at the edges. Rest for 10 minutes, serve.

Foolproof food

Traditional Greek Village Salad with Marinated Feta Cheese

This salad is served in virtually every taverna in Greece and is delicious when made with really fresh ingredients and eaten immediately. We use our local Knockalara ewe's milk cheese instead of Feta which is seldom in the condition that the Greeks intended by the time it reaches us!
Serves 6

3 oz (85 g) cubed Knockalara ewe’s milk cheese*or Fresh Feta
1-2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon marjoram
2-1 crisp cucumber
6 very ripe tomatoes
6 scallions or 1-2 red onions
12-18 Kalamati olives
2 tablespoons approx. chopped fresh Annual Marjoram
3 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil (We use Mani, organic Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt, freshly cracked pepper and sugar

Sprigs of flat parsley

Cut the cheese into 1 inch (2 cm) cubes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and some marjoram.
Just before serving
Halve the cucumber lengthwise and cut into chunks. Slice the red onions or chop coarsely the green and white parts of the scallions. Core the tomatoes and cut into wedges. Mix the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, olives and marjoram in a bowl. 

Sprinkle with olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt, freshly cracked pepper and sugar and toss well. Sprinkle with cubes of cheese and sprigs of flat parsley. Serve at once.
Note: Slices of red pepper may be included or cubed avocado or chunks of water melon.

Greek Salad in Pitta Bread
Split a Pitta bread in half across or lengthwise. Fill with drained Greek salad, shredded lettuce and serve immediately.

NB: Filling should be spooned into Pita bread just before it is to be eaten, otherwise it will go soggy.

Greek Salad Kebabs

Another speedy nibble to add to your Greek theme.
Thread a piece of cucumber ,tomato, olive, scallion, and a chunk of feta onto one end of a satay stick. Arrange on a round plate with the salad towards the centre. Just before serving whisk the dressing , sprinkle over each kebab and serve immediately.

Top Tips

Real Greek and Mezedopolio Restaurant in 15 Hoxton Market, London N1, Tel 00 44 207 739 8212 –
If you can’t get to the Real Greek you can recreate the food at home from Chef Theodore Kyriakou’s cookbook ‘Real Greek Food’ published by Harper Collins.

Rupert Hugh Jones sells adorable little olive trees at the Farmers Market in Midleton and Douglas on Saturdays from 9-1. You’re unlikely to produce enough olives for olive oil but they’ll look great on your table surrounded by mezze for a Greek lunch.

Charles Byrne will bring groups to Greece for the Olive Harvest between November and January, this year promises to be a good one. Contact Charles at 087-6482415 

Savour Kerry – a directory of small local producers of good food from all over the Kingdom – this great little guide has been written by Sarah Caridia and produced with the support of the Kerry County Enterprise Board – ‘a reference guide to those who add so much to the flavour that is Kerry’ with particular emphasis on the artisan producers and their speciality foods which thrive outside the mainstream of mass production.


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