Darina’s Saturday Letter

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Comfort Eating

How quickly the evenings are closing in and now there’s a proper excuse to light a crackling fire, cuddle up in an armchair and tuck into a big bowl of comforting stew or colcannon with a nice lump of beautiful butter melting in the centre.

One doesn’t need a special reason to enjoy comfort food, we need it all the time but the term comfort food conjures up warm and fuzzy images of rich snooze inducing dishes. They certainly don’t have to be heavy or stodgy. We all have our own ideas of what constitutes comfort food. Risotto is high on my list and so is a super creamy mac and cheese or meat balls….chicken pilaff, a recipe I learned from Myrtle Allen when I came to Ballymaloe is another family favourite. It’s delicious, unctuous, creamy sauce flavours the pilaff rice to create one of the most comforting meals you can imagine. We used to make it from what we affectionately called an ‘old hen’, a bird of approximately two years which was coming to the end of its laying career with lots of flavour. We would give it an honourable end in a chicken pilaff and the French would have celebrated its life in a rich and flavoursome Coq au vin….

And then there’s broth – oh how I love broth, particularly in Winter, I often sneak into the larder in the Cookery School and fill myself a pint glass of chicken broth, I butter a slice of white yeast bread – must be white, slather it with butter and tear it into the glass – bet you are shocked but it is the best thing ever and so comforting, restorative and nutritious. One pot dishes also fit the bill and are so much less hassle to serve when you are whacked at the end of a busy day. Maybe it’s because we’re kinda sad that the summer is finally over that the craving for a big plate of comfort strikes more often.

Pasta too, particularly an unctuous one with a rich and creamy meat sauce has immense appeal. Here are a few suggestions to comfort you and all the family this week.


Macaroni with Cheddar Cheese

Serves 6

Macaroni cheese is one of our family’s favourite supper dishes, loved by everyone from the toddlers to Gran’s and Grandda’s. We love it just as it is but you can of course add whatever you fancy to the sauce….some cubes of cooked bacon, ham or chorizo, maybe some smoked fish or cauliflower florets with the cooked macaroni.

8 ozs (225g) macaroni
6 pints (3.4 litres/15 cups) water
2 teaspoons salt

2 ozs (50g/1/2 stick) butter
2 ozs (50g/1/2 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 1/2 pints (850ml/3 3/4 cups) boiling milk
1/4 teaspoon Dijon or English mustard
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped parsley, (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ozs (150g) grated mature Cheddar cheese (We love the mature Derg Cheddar from Co Tipperary)
1 oz (25g) grated Cheddar cheese for sprinkling on top

1 x 2 pint (1.1 litre) capacity pie dish

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the salt. Sprinkle in the macaroni and stir to make sure it doesn’t stick together. Cook until just soft, 10-15 minutes approx. drain well.

Meanwhile melt the butter, add in the flour and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the milk gradually; bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. Add the mustard, parsley if using and cheese, season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni, bring back to the boil, taste, correct seasoning and serve immediately.

Macaroni cheese reheats very successfully provided the pasta is not overcooked in the first place. Turn into a pie dish, sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Reheat in a preheated moderate oven – 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. It is very good served with cold meat particularly ham.

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

Macaroni Cheese with Smoked Salmon or Smoked Mackerel
Add 8 ozs (225 g) of smoked salmon or smoked mackerel dice to the macaroni cheese.

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

Macaroni Cheese with Chorizo
Add 8oz (225g) diced chorizo and lots of chopped parsley to the macaroni cheese as you put it into the dish.

Penne with Tomatoes, Spicy Sausage and Cream

Serves 6

1lb (450g) penne
8 pints (4 litres/20 cups) water
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) salt

6-8oz (175-225g) Chorizo or Kabanossi sausage
1oz (25g/1/4 stick) butter
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 1/2lb (675g) fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch (1cm) dice or 1 1/2 tins (400g/14oz tin) tomatoes, chopped
salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar
pinch of crushed chillies
6-10fl oz (175-300ml/3/4 cup – 1 1/4 cup) cream
2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) flat parsley, finely chopped
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)
lots of snipped flat parsley

Bring 8 pints (4 litres/20 cups) water to the boil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add 2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) of salt, then add the pasta. Stir well. Bring back to the boil for 4 minutes, cover, turn off the heat and allow the pasta to continue to cook in the covered saucepan until al dente – 9-12 minutes depending on the brand of pasta.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the chopped rosemary and diced tomatoes. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Cook until the tomatoes have just begun to soften into a sauce, about 5 minutes approx.

Peel the casing off the Chorizo or Kabanossi sausage if necessary and then half or quarter each round depending on size. Add to the pan with the crushed chillies, season lightly with salt (be careful not to overdo the salt as the sausage may be somewhat salty). Add the cream and chopped parsley, cook, stirring frequently until the cream comes to the boil. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked (it should be ‘al dente’), drain and toss with the sauce, add the grated Parmesan. Toss again, check the seasoning. Sprinkle with flat parsley and serve at once.

Note: Please omit chorizo for vegetarian option.

Chicken Broth with Julienne of Vegetables

1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints/6 1/4 cups) of well-flavoured homemade chicken stock (see recipe)

50g (2oz) carrots
50g (2oz) celery
50g (2oz) white turnip
50g (2oz) leeks

flat parsley
4 spring onions, cut at an angle

First julienne the vegetables.
Peel and cut the carrot, celery, turnip and leek into very thin strips

Heat the broth, add the julienne, bring back to the boil and simmer gently until the vegetables are just cooked, 5-6 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and scatter with parsley and spring onion.

Pilaff Rice

Although a risotto can be made in 20 minutes it entails 20 minutes pretty constant stirring which makes it feel rather laboursome. A pilaff on the other hand looks after itself once the initial cooking is underway. The pilaff is versatile – serve it as a staple or add whatever tasty bits you have to hand. Beware however of using pilaff as a dustbin, all additions should be carefully seasoned and balanced.

Serves 8

25g (1oz/1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) finely chopped onion or shallot
400g (14oz) long-grain rice (preferably Basmati)
975ml (32fl oz/4 cups) homemade chicken stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) freshly chopped herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives: optional

Melt the butter in a casserole, add the finely chopped onion and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and toss for a minute or two, just long enough for the grains to change colour. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and then simmer on top of the stove or in the oven 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 10 minutes approx. By then the rice should be just cooked and all the water absorbed. Just before serving stir in the fresh herbs if using.

Basmati rice cooks quite quickly; other types of rice may take up to 15 minutes.

Pilaff with Mussels and Prawns
1 x mushroom a la créme
450g (1lb) mussels
110g (4oz) cooked shrimps or prawns
1-2 tablespoons (1-2 American tablespoons + 1-2 teaspoons) freshly chopped herbs – e.g parsley, chives, thyme, fennel

Wash the mussels in several changes of cold water. Put the mussels into a wide frying or sauté pan on a medium heat. Cover with a lid or a folded tea towel. Just as soon as the mussels open, whip them out, remove the beards and discard the shells.

Heat the mushroom a la créme, stir in the mussels, shrimps. When the pilaff is cooked turn into a hot serving dish, spoon the mushroom and shellfish mixture on top, sprinkle with chopped herbs and serve immediately.

Other good things to add to pilaff
Fresh spices, cubes of cooked ham or bacon freshly cooked, chicken and sautéed mushrooms, Tomato Fondue and Parmesan and Basil leaves, Red and yellow pepper. Stew with Marjoram.

Dutch Apple Cake with Cinnamon Sugar

Serves 6

2 large eggs preferably free range and organic
225g (8ozs/1 cup) castor sugar
110g (4ozs/1 stick) butter
150ml (5fl oz/generous 1/2 cup) creamy milk
185g (6 1/2 ozs/generous 1 1/2 cups) plain flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3-4 Bramley cooking apples
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) sugar

Cinnamon Sugar
25g (1oz/1/8 cup) castor sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.

Grease and flour a 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch) roasting tin or lasagne dish.

Whisk the eggs and the castor sugar in a bowl until the mixture is really thick and fluffy. Bring the butter and milk to the boil in saucepan, and stir, still boiling, into the eggs and sugar. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. Pour the mixture into the prepared roasting tin. Peel and core the apples and cut into thin slices, arrange them overlapping on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4, for a further 20-25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut into slices. Serve with softly whipped cream.

Hot Tips
Remember Savour Kilkenny runs from 27th -30th October 2017.
Lots of exciting events, workshops and talks…..Join David Gillick, European Champion and Olympic sprinter at Savour Kilkenny for his One Pot Fits All cookery demonstration. David will show us how to make delicious and nutritious one pot dishes for busy parents and workers…..Saturday 28th October
Gill Meller will cook two seasonal recipes from his cookbook Gather on Saturday October 28th at Savour Kilkenny and of course our own Rory O’ Connell will cook some of his favourite dishes from his new book Cook Well, Eat Well the same afternoon. www.savourkilkenny.com

Fit Foodie Workshop with Derval O’ Rourke at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. In one afternoon you will learn how to make great tasting, easy and healthy recipes that the whole family can enjoy plus a Movement Hour that is suitable for all level of fitness. Saturday, November 4th 2017 www.cookingisfun.ie

Cook Well Eat Well

I love Rory O’ Connell’s new book, sounds a bit soppy but I‘m a big fan of my brother’s food, simple beautiful and delicious – Rory and I started the Ballymaloe Cookery School together in 1983 and his first book Master It published in 2013 was long overdue. Since then he has gained a loyal and growing fan base, both for his TV programmes and his much anticipated book number two Cook Well Eat Well.

I also love that now, that people religiously ask if I am Rory’s sister instead of the other way around – long, long, overdue recognition.
Rory is a natural teacher and everyone loves the way he takes the mystery out of cooking and gently nudges us all to be a little adventurous. This book answers a frequently asked question about how to put a nicely balanced meal together
“and what do I serve with what”?

Almost all the meals in Cook Well Eat Well are three courses. Rory sometimes suggests vegetables or a salad to serve with the meal, some of the recipes can be used over multiple seasons with a simple tweak of an ingredient to suit the time of the year you are cooking in.
Rory’s starting point is always the freshest local food in season; he reminds us that it’ll be at its best and least expensive then and much easier to transform into something yummy, delicious and properly nourishing. Rory has the added talent of being able to effortlessly make each and every plate look beautiful. Cook Well Eat Well is published by Gill Books; here are a few recipes to whet your appetite.

Hot Tips
Check out The Fumbally Stables calender of Autumn events. Their Eat:Ith workshops, talks and events with food producers, baristas, sommeliers, food writers…. www.eat-ith.com

Cook and Surf…..Love it that there are so many passionate passionate young chefs writing cookbooks not just for their ‘tribe’ but chock full of good things that are easy to cook or toss together. Properly deliciously and nourishing. Finn Ní Fhaoláin is one name to watch. I met her recently at the Theatre of Food, Electric Picnic and have just got her book Finn’s World. She’s lives, surfs and cooks in Bundoran. She is a coeliac herself so many of the recipes have the bonus of being coeliac friendly.

Take Five Essential Sauces
Knowing how to make a few classic sauces adds magic to many dishes. ‘Mother sauces’ in culinary jargon, are a vital tool in the kitchen and when you’ve mastered the basic techniques, you can do lots of creative variations on the theme…
Take Béchamel, Mushroom a la Crème, Hollandaise, Bernaise and Mayonnaise – none of these sauces are difficult or complicated to make. In just an afternoon we’ll share the techniques and show you how to serve and make delicious dishes with each one and share many suggestions for other delicious ways to serve them. Friday October 20th 2017, www.cookingisfun.ie

Slow Food Mushroom Hunt
Join Bill O’Dea’s Mushroom Hunt at the Park Hotel in Kenmare on October 21st. Bill will start at 1.30pm with a presentation on mushroom hunting followed by a forage and tasting of mushrooms including a wild mushroom soup. www.slowfoodireland.com or email wicklow@slowfoodireland.com for the details.

Rory O’ Connell’s Parsnip Soup with Harissa
Winter root vegetables like the parsnip are terrific value for money and packed full of flavour. They seem to yield the deep, comforting taste we long for at this time of year. I always buy my root vegetables unwashed – in other words, with some of
the soil they grew in still attached. They have a great deal more flavour than ones that have had their protective coat of earth scrubbed off and also keep much better and for longer than the cleaned ones. It is of course a little more work for you at home, but the difference in flavour and texture is enormous – quite simply, there is no comparison.

Serves 6–8

25g butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
500g parsnips, peeled and diced
100g potato, peeled and diced
100g white onion, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
sea salt and freshly ground
black pepper
750ml homemade chicken stock
splash of cream (optional)
2 tablespoons harissa, see recipe
best-quality extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium saucepan set over a medium heat until the butter foams. Add the prepared parsnips, potato, onion and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables and seasoning in the fat until well coated, then cover with a piece of parchment or greaseproof paper. Pop the lid on the saucepan and cook on a very gentle heat to sweat the vegetables. If the heat is too high the vegetables may stick to the bottom of the saucepan and burn. Cook for 15–20 minutes, until some of the vegetables are beginning to soften at the edges and collapse.
Add the stock and bring to a simmer again but don’t boil, as some of the stock may evaporate and the soup will be too thick. Cover with the lid and continue to cook on that gentle heat until the vegetables are completely tender. This will take about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup to a silky-smooth consistency. Taste and correct the seasoning. At this point I sometimes add a little more stock or a splash of cream to correct the consistency and the flavour.

Serve in hot bowls with a teaspoon of harissa and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil on each serving.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Harissa

I keep a jar of this hot and spicy North African inspired paste in the fridge most of the time. It is a really useful condiment for seasoning and marinating and for adding a little heat to certain dishes. I use with grilled lamb, pork and chicken, with oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, on hard boiled eggs and in an omelette and stirred through a mayonnaise as a sauce or through olive oil to make a slightly hot vinaigrette for crisp, cool salad leaves.

I use medium hot chillies such as cayenne, jalapeno or Serrano to give a level of heat that is obvious for not scorching.

Makes 1 small jar

6 medium hot red chillies, such as cayenne, jalapeno or Serrano
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste
1½ tablespoons tomato puree
3 teaspoons cumin seeds, roasted and ground
3 teaspoons coriander seeds, roasted and ground
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the chilies on a small roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. The skins will be blackening and blistering and coming away from the flesh. Place the roasted chillies in a bowl, seal tightly with cling film and allow to cool. When cool, peel off the skins and slit the chillies to remove the seeds. You just want the roasted flesh of the chilli for the harissa.
Place the chillies in a food processor or use a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, tomato puree and ground spices and process to a smooth-ish purée. Gradually add the oil and vinegar. Add the chopped coriander leaves and season to taste, adding a tiny pinch of sugar if you feel the flavour needs a lift. The taste should be strong, hot and pungent.
Stored in a covered container such as a jam jar in the fridge, the harissa will keep perfectly for several months.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Beetroot and Autumn Raspberries with Honey, Mint and Labneh

Beetroot and raspberries taste very good together and the labneh adds the savoury note. Labneh, a simple dripped yogurt cheese, is very easy to make, though you do need to start the process the previous day or at least early in the morning if you
are serving it for dinner. There are many uses for labneh, and once you make it for the first time you will probably wonder why you never made it before. Search out full-fat thick organic yogurt for a rich and creamy result.

Serves 4

2 medium beetroots, about 250g in total with tail and 3cm of stalk attached
Sea salt and freshly ground
Black pepper
Pinch of caster sugar
24 fresh raspberries
20 small fresh mint leaves

500g full-fat natural yogurt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey

To make the labneh, take a double thickness square of clean muslin or a fine linen glass cloth and place it over a sieve sitting over a bowl. Add the yogurt and olive oil and tie the four corners of the muslin to make a knot. Secure the knot with some string. You now need to hang the tied muslin bag by the string over the bowl to allow the whey in the yogurt to drip off for at least 8 hours, leaving you with a soft cheese. I hang the bag from a cup hook attached to a shelf and that works perfectly. If that
all sounds too complicated, just sit the muslin bag in a sieve over a deep bowl and that also will do the job quite successfully. When the whey has all dripped out, simply remove the muslin and chill the cheese, covered, until you are ready to serve it. It
will keep in the fridge for three or four days.

Rinse the beetroots under a cold running tap, being careful not to break off the little tail. Place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a pinch of salt and sugar to the water. Bring to a simmer, cover and continue to simmer until the skin rubs off the beetroots easily when pushed. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes for fresh new
season beetroots to 2 hours for older beets, so it is impossible to give an absolute time. The cooked beets should be very tender all the way through.

Peel off the skin and any remaining stalk and cut off the tail. The beets can be prepared up to this point hours ahead or even the previous day.

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, lemon
juice, honey and some salt and pepper together. Taste and correct the seasoning.

To assemble the salad, slice the beetroots very thinly (I use a mandolin for this) and divide between four serving plates (the salad can also be assembled family style on a large flat platter and brought to the table). Cut some of the raspberries in half lengthways and some in cross-section slices and scatter over the beetroots. Whisk the dressing well and spoon some of it on. Place a dessertspoon of labneh in the centre of each plate. Scatter on the mint leaves and a final drizzle of dressing and serve.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Grilled Duck Breast with a Salad of Oranges, Watercress and Radicchio

Duck and oranges are a classic combination of flavours, but here the emphasis is on a lighter result rather than the rich sauce one normally expects. Peppery watercress and bitter red-leaved radicchio are a lively foil for the richness of the meat. A selection of salad leaves could replace the ones I have suggested, but including some bitter leaves makes all the difference to the balance of the finished dish. The vinaigrette used to dress the salad leaves also becomes the sauce, so the overall effect is somewhat refreshing. I like to serve a crisp potato dish to accompany, such as a pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes. I think two large duck breasts, when being served with accompanying vegetables and potatoes, are sufficient for four people, but you will know what is needed at your table.

Serves 2–4

2 oranges
Pinch of caster sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large duck breasts
2 handfuls of watercress, washed and dried
2 handfuls of radicchio leaves, washed and dried

To Serve:
Pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes with balsamic butter

Preheat the oven to 100°C.

Zest one of the oranges with a Microplane or on a fine grater. Carefully segment both oranges and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. Mix the orange zest with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to make the vinaigrette. Taste and correct the
seasoning. Add the oranges to the vinaigrette and give them a gentle stir.

Place a cold grill pan on a medium heat and immediately put the duck breasts on the cold pan, skin side down. This seems like such an odd thing to do and contradicts most of the normal rules of grilling meat, but it works quite brilliantly,
as while the skin is slowly crisping, the liquid fat renders out of the duck. Save all that duck fat for roasting potatoes and vegetables – it will keep covered in the fridge for months. Cook the duck on that medium heat until the skin has become crispy
and a rich deep golden colour. This takes about 10 minutes. Turn over and finish cooking the duck on the other side for about 7 minutes more. By now the centres of the breasts should be pink, which is the way I like to serve them. I don’t like duck served rare as I find it to be tough. Rest the cooked duck breasts in the low oven for at least 5 minutes but up to 30 minutes – the juices will be more evenly distributed through the flesh after resting. I put a small plate upside down sitting on top of a
bigger plate and sit the breasts against the sloping edges of the upside-down plate. This way, any juices that run out of the duck breasts will be saved, and
equally importantly, the meat will not be stewing in its own juices.

When ready to serve, assemble the ingredients on a large hot serving dish or individual plates. Toss the leaves in just enough of the well-mixed vinaigrette
to make them glisten, then divide between the hot plates. Carve the duck breasts into neat slices and scatter through the leaves. Arrange the orange segments through the salad leaves and duck slices and drizzle on the remaining vinaigrette. I like to quickly reheat any of the cooking juices from the resting duck and add those as a final lick of flavour. Serve immediately with the pommes allumettes or rustic roast potatoes on the side.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

St Tola Goats’ Cheese with PX Raisins

Good shopping is crucial if you are to put delicious food on the table, and this dish perfectly illustrates how thoughtful shopping for just a few ingredients can yield the most delicious and sophisticated results with virtually no cooking involved.
We are so lucky in Ireland that over the last 20 years, a whole raft of committed food producers have been creating products that help us to achieve our daily goal of great-tasting and health-giving food. St Tola goats’ cheese made in County Clare is a shining and outstanding example of the quality of the world-class foods that we can now buy, take home, simply unwrap and eat.
In this very simple recipe, which I serve in this instance to finish this meal, the addition of the sweet sherry-soaked raisins gets over the problem of no dessert being served and they are terrific with the pleasantly salty cheese. I like to use the ash-covered log from St Tola for this dish. In another meal this dish would be perfect served as a starter. The sherry I use here, Pedro Ximénez San Emilio sherry
from Jerez in Spain, is super-sweet with a real depth of flavour and is a great aid to any cook. It also pairs brilliantly with blue cheese, chocolate desserts or chicken livers, either pan fried or in a pâté, and is a great drizzle for a vanilla, coffee or
caramel ice cream. Serve a crisp cracker or hot and crispy white bread with
this dish.

Serves 4

30g raisins
2 tablespoons Pedro Ximénez
(PX) sherry
4 slices of St Tola goats’ cheese ash log (approx. 100g)
16–20 small rocket leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
squeeze of lemon juice
sea salt and freshly cracked
black pepper
Place the raisins in a small saucepan and pour over the sherry. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a small container and leave to soak for 6 hours or overnight. The raisins will soak up some of the sherry and the remaining sherry will become syrupy.

Place a slice of cheese on each serving plate. Scatter the rocket leaves around the cheese, making sure that the beautiful black line of ash on the outside of the cheese is visible in its entirety. Drizzle the olive oil over the leaves and a little over the cheese, then squeeze a little lemon juice to follow the olive oil.

Carefully divide the sherry-soaked raisins and syrupy juices between the plates and finish each serving with a small twist of black pepper and a few grains of sea salt.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

Rory O’ Connell’s Winter Chocolate Apple Pudding
This is a variation of the classic apple betty, which is a simple pudding that I love. This combination of bitter cooking apple, chocolate and the flavours of Christmas mincemeat is also charming. This is an ideal vehicle for using up last year’s
mincemeat. The pudding needs to be served warm on hot plates with cold softly whipped cream on the side.

Serves 4

1kg Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
30g butter
2 tablespoons water

For the crumb layer
150g mincemeat
125g soft white breadcrumbs
75g light soft brown sugar
50g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
75g butter
3 tablespoons golden syrup

To serve
chilled softly whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Put the apples in a pan and toss with the butter and water over a gentle heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the apples start to soften and are collapsing just a little at the edges but still generally keeping their shape. Tip them into a 1.5-litre baking dish.

Mix together the mincemeat, breadcrumbs, sugar and chocolate and cover the apples loosely with this topping. Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a small saucepan and pour it over the crumbs, making certain to soak them all.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, until the apple is soft and the crumbs are golden and crisp. Allow to cool slightly, then serve in heated bowls with chilled softly whipped cream.

Taken from Rory O’ Connell’s Cook Well Eat Well published by Gill Books

College – Free at Last……

College Food:- Free at Last…..this week, many young people pack their bags with a mixture of excitement and apprehension as they leave home for the very first time to embark on their chosen path. For many, it’s a shock to the system, a moment of realisation when the penny drops that you are absolutely on your own – to get up on time, feed yourself, do your washing and the gizillion other little things we’ve become accustomed to others doing for us. It’s a wonderful adventure but definitely takes a bit of getting used to and adjustment.
I’ve had lots of requests for a kit of recipes for college kids cheap, cheerful, nourishing foods that are quick to put together.

So this week, I’m going to keep blurb to the minimum so that I can fit in as many recipes as possible. Let’s start with breakfast, make a fine pot of porridge, Macroom oatmeal is the best but Kilbeggan and Flahavans rolled oats are also delectable and can be if covered and refrigerated, reheated next day, if you have some left over. You can add all sorts of toppings – jam, berries, treacle, maple syrup, honeycomb…but my absolute favourite is soft dark brown sugar and cream or at least whole milk – certainly no low fat – you’ll need nourishment to help you concentrate and achieve. Nothing fancy but totally delicious and you won’t feel like reaching for a doughnut at 11am.

Bircher Muesli is another brilliant oat based cereal made in minutes and super delicious.
Fresh eggs also give so much bang for your buck. A couple of scrambled eggs with a few added bits and pieces from the fridge can make a nutritious and tasty brekkie, brunch, lunch or supper. An omelette is a 30 second job, a frittata takes a bit longer but it’a brilliant and versatile recipe to feed a crowd of pals. Once again there are numerous variations but for college kids, I suggest adding diced cooked potato and maybe some leek or pumpkin and a few cubes of chorizo which will add more nourishment and lots of flavour.

A cabbage is also another great buy, go along to Caroline Robinson on the Coal Quay Market on Saturday and buy a fine chemical-free Savoy cabbage. It’ll keep you going for days and is so versatile. Here’s one of the many cabbage salad recipe we enjoy.
I also love dahls, this is a super simple one that we love and can also be made in bigger quantities. It’s really worth investing in a few jars of spices and some chilli flakes, they’ll add zing to even the simplest pasta dish. How about Asian lettuce leaves cups with pork or chicken, easy nibbles that are quick to make and give you a host of proteins.
Many bedsits or student accommodation don’t have an oven so how about pancakes or crepes – WOW, will you have lots of friends or what…. – there is so much, I almost feel another book coming on!

Hot Tips

Irish Orchard Treacle
Another winner from Highbank Orchard’s. Seek out their latest product – a sweet and delicious organic treacle for meat glazes, marinades and baking….www.highbankorchards.com or Tel: 056 7729918

Date for the Diary
Savour Kilkenny from 27th – 30th October 2017, a weekend of jam packed activities, Savour Specials, Sip and Savour, Savour Kids, Savour Market…….find Pamela Black, Ballymaloe Cookery School teacher and our Cake Queen. Watch Pam at Savour, Saturday 28th at 5pm as she creates truly dramatic cake feasts for the eye…..

One Pot Wonders
There is something liberating about cooking in a single pot. It requires much less effort, the meal is complete (or close to complete) and the whole process is simple and uncomplicated. Many one pot wonders are relatively inexpensive to produce and there is the added advantage of having next to no washing up to do afterwards. In a nutshell you’ll learn how to make a dozen or more delicious dishes using only a single pot. Saturday October 14th , 2017 at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, www.cookingisfun.ie

Macroom Oatmeal Porridge with Dark Brown Sugar and Cream

Serves 4

Virtually every morning in Winter I start my day with a bowl of porridge. Search out Macroom stoneground oatmeal which has the most delicious toasted nutty flavour. It comes in a lovely old-fashioned red and yellow pack which I hope will never change.

155g (5 1/2ozs/scant 1 cup) Macroom oatmeal
1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) water
1 level teaspoon salt

Obligatory accompaniment……
Soft brown sugar

Bring 5 cups of water to the boil, sprinkle in the oatmeal gradually, whisking all the time. Put on a low heat and stir until the water comes to the boil.

Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salt and stir again. Serve with single cream or milk and soft brown sugar melting over the top.
Left over porridge can be stored in a covered container in the fridge – it will reheat perfectly the next day.

If the porridge is waiting, keep covered otherwise it will form a skin which is difficult to dissolve.

Bircher Apple Muesli

This is right up there with porridge as the best and most nourishing breakfast ever. It’s also super-delicious, can be made in minutes, even when you are semi-comatose in the morning. It has a low glycaemic index so you’ll be bouncing with energy and vitality right up to lunchtime, no need to grab a doughnut for elevenses.

This is also a great school lunch box suggestion

Serves 4

110g grated dessert apple (preferably Worcester Permain or Cox’s Orange Pippin) or fresh strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries – all are super delicious in this recipe.
3 heaped tablespoons organic rolled oatmeal (Quaker Oats)
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon or more of honey, depending on the tartness of the fruit
1 tablespoon of chopped almonds (peeled, optional)

Measure out the water into a bowl and sprinkle three tablespoons of oatmeal on top. Let the oatmeal soak up the water while you grate the apple. A stainless steel grater is best for this job, use the largest side and grate the apple coarsely, skin and all. I grate through the core, but watch your fingers when you are coming close to the end, pick out the pips and discard. Stir a tea spoonful of honey into the oatmeal and then stir in the grated apple, and almonds if using. Taste, if it needs a little more honey add it, this will depend on how much you heaped up the spoon earlier on and how sweet the fruit is.
Serve with cream and soft brown sugar.

Blackberry and Apple Muesli
A few blackberries are delicious added to the apple muesli in Autumn.

Scrambled Eggs with Many Good Things
Perfectly scrambled eggs are rare indeed, though people’s perception of ‘perfect’ varies wildly. However, for ideal scrambled eggs (in my case, soft and creamy), really fresh organic eggs are essential. Nowadays, it’s become common practice to put the eggs into a hot pan, which gives a tough curd if you’re not careful. I prefer the old-fashioned way that my mother taught me: putting the eggs into a cold saucepan, whereby they scramble gently and slowly, and yield a softer, creamier curd. Scrambled eggs should always be served on warm plates but beware – if the plates are too hot, the scrambled egg can overcook between the stove and the table.

Serves 2

4 fresh organic eggs
2 tablespoons full-cream milk
a knob of butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the whites and yolks are mixed well. Over a low heat, put a blob of butter into a
cold saucepan, pour in the egg mixture and stir continuously, preferably with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, until the eggs have scrambled into soft creamy curds.
Serve immediately on warm plates with lots of hot buttered toast or fresh soda bread.
Really great scrambled eggs need no further embellishment, except perhaps a slice of hot thin toast. Having said that, here are some great accompaniments:

Good things to serve with scrambled eggs:
• Chopped watercress or rocket leaves with a little grated cheese.
• Diced, cooked chorizo – add just at the end with some flat parsley.
• Crispy smoked bacon or a little cooked ham.
• For a Mexican flavour, add a little diced onion and chilli; then add diced tomato and lots of coriander at the end of cooking.
• A few cooked wild mushrooms, perfumed with a little tarragon or thyme leaves
• Smoked fish such as smoked salmon, mackerel
• Cooked shrimps.

A Basic Frittata and Tons of Variations

Serves 6-8

A frittata is an Italian omelette. Unlike its soft and creamy French cousin, a frittata is cooked slowly over a very low heat during which time you can be whipping up a delicious salad to accompany it! It is cooked on both sides and cut into wedges like a piece of cake. This basic recipe, flavoured with grated cheese and a generous sprinkling of herbs. Like the omelette, though, you may add almost anything that takes your fancy.

10 large eggs, preferably free range organic
1 teaspoon salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
75g (3oz) Gruyére cheese, grated
25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
25g (1oz) butter
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) basil or marjoram chopped

To Serve
Rocket leaves
Tomato and Coriander Salsa , see recipe

Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (10 inch) frying pan

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, grated cheese into the eggs. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs.

There are two cooking methods.
Turn down the heat, as low as it will go. Leave the eggs to cook gently for 12 minutes on a heat diffuser mat, or until the underneath is set. The top should still be slightly runny. Preheat a grill. Pop the pan under the grill for 1 minute to set but not brown the surface.

OR Alternatively after an initial 3 or 4 minutes on the stove one can transfer the pan to a preheated oven 170ºC/325ºF/Gas Mark 3 until just set 15-20 minutes. We prefer the latter method.

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.
Serve cut in wedges, arrange some rocket leaves on top of the frittata and top with a blob of tomato and coriander salsa or alternatively you can serve with a good green salad and perhaps a tomato salad.

Mushroom Frittata

450g (1lb) flat mushrooms – washed and sliced

Heat some olive oil in a hot pan, add the sliced mushrooms. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook over a high heat until just wilted, cool.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, chopped herbs, mushrooms and grated cheese into the egg mixture.

Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and continue to cook as in the master recipe.

Frittata Ranchero

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

25g (1oz) chopped sweated onion
1 small tomato cut into 5mm (1/4 inch) dice
1 teaspoon chopped chilli or more to taste
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) chopped coriander (instead of parsley or chives)

Smoked Salmon and Goats Cheese Frittata
Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

3 slices of smoked salmon diced
Substitute 1/2 the Gruyere with a mild goats cheese, and crumble into the mixture.

Frittata with Pea Shoots and Mint

Add to the basic egg mixture just before cooking.

1 – 2 cups of chopped pea shoots
2 – 3 tablespoons (2-3 American tablespoons + 2-3 teaspoons) of chopped fresh mint

Garnish with fresh pea shoots

Cabbage Salad with Raisins and Mint

Serves 8 approx.

If you are tiring of the ubiquitous coleslaw, then you might like to try this fresh tasting cabbage salad.

1/2 white cabbage with a good heart
2-3 large dessert apples, grated – we like Cox’s orange pippin
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) raisins
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) freshly chopped mint
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) freshly chopped chives
4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) pure Irish honey
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) white wine vinegar

Cut the cabbage into quarters. Wash it well and discard the coarse outer leaves. Cut away the stalks and shred the heart very finely with a very sharp knife. Put it into a bowl with the grated apple, raisins, freshly chopped mint and chives. Mix the honey and vinegar together. Toss the salad in the dressing until well coated. Taste and correct seasoning and serve soon.

Martha’s Orange Lentil Dahl

This super quick dahl is enhanced by the tempering of curry leaves and spices drizzled over the top.

Serves 6

225g orange lentils
400ml can of coconut milk plus 300ml water
1 teaspoon turmeric
scant 1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon garam masala

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6-8 fresh curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon coriander powder

6 slices onion, sautéed until golden
fresh coriander or mint leaves

Cook the lentils with the coconut milk and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the turmeric, bring to the boil and simmer for about 8-10 minutes by which time the lentils will be soft, almost mushy. When cooked turn off the heat, add salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice and garam masala.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the curry leaves followed by the cumin seeds, fry for 2 minutes and turn off the heat. Add the cayenne and coriander, stir and pour over the cooked lentils. Mix well and garnish with crispy onion and coriander of mint leaves. Serve with Basmati rice or any chutney you fancy, don’t forget Ballymaloe Relish.

Asian Pork or Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Cheap, cheerful, nourishing, quick and cool…..minced chicken is also delicious here.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sunflower oil
250g (9oz) pork mince (belly is good)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) fish sauce (nam pla)
1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) soy sauce
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) palm or soft brown sugar
5 spring onions, finely sliced at an angle
12 fresh mint leaves, roughly torn
a small handful of coriander, roughly torn

To Serve
12 leaves of iceberg or Baby Gem lettuces, separated into leaves
Thai sweet chilli sauce
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime

Heat the sunflower oil in a wide frying pan over a high heat, add the mince and fry for 2–3 minutes or until the pork is tender, breaking the mince up with a spoon to ensure even cooking.

Push the mince to the side of the pan. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further minute. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, stir and fry for another minute until just cooked.

Finally add half the spring onions, coriander, mint and the lime juice and fry for 1–2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.

Scoop 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of the aromatic pork into each lettuce leaf. Top with a drizzle of Thai sweet chilli sauce. Add a sprinkling with the remaining spring onions, coriander and mint.

Christian Puglisi’s Farm of Ideas in Denmark

53 years ago, in 1964, Myrtle Allen opened a restaurant in her own house in the wilds of East Cork to celebrate the connection between agriculture and gastronomy, uniting the pioneered a whole food movement of farm to fork eating which has inspired chefs and cooks not only in Ireland but all over the world.

Most recently we went to Denmark for the launch of Christian Puglisi Farm of Ideas and Seed Exchange Festival in Lejre – north of Copenhagen. Christian is one of the Nordic regions most inspirational chefs – his restaurant Relae is in the World’s Top 50 restaurants and he also owns Manfred and Baest. The latter is a pizzeria with a difference, where the mozzarella is made from the raw milk of the Jersey cows and the cured meats and salami are all handmade and cured in the kitchen.

He has a total commitment to sourcing the very best raw materials which becomes more and more challenging for restaurants. Consequently a growing number of young chefs are buying farms or entering into contract with farmers so they can grow their own produce, rear animals and poultry and produce milk to make homemade butter, cheese and yoghurts.
Equally important from Christian’s viewpoint is to connect his chefs with how flavourful and nourishing food is produced.

Christian’s chefs drive up from Copenhagen to the 27 acre farm on a rota basis each day to harvest and prepare freshly harvested produce for that days menu. This opens their eyes to the challenges of food production, how crops and yields are affected by the weather, pests and disease. The chefs and cooks become much less arrogant and appreciative as they begin to absorb the reality of nature.
Christian freely acknowledged how influenced he was by Myrtle’s philosophy and the organic gardens, micro dairy and farm animals reared on the organic farm surrounding the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Christian stated aim is to connect gastronomy with agriculture, an admirable and obviously badly needed initiative at a time in history where we are becoming more and more disconnected from the source of our food.
Recently, a chef in a top Irish restaurant was astonished to learn that if he picked all the runner bean flowers there would be no runner beans – it was news to him that the flowers turn into the beans……

Christian hopes that chefs from all over the world will gather at the Farm of Ideas to share knowledge and learn from each other. There were inspirational talks on the importance of seed saving and delegates had brought seeds from all over the world to swap with others or to contribute to the Danish Seed Bank. Carlo Petrini of Slow Food International came from Turin to give the keynote address and Sean Brock from Husk Restaurant, Charleston, USA were among the inspirational speakers who spoke passionately on the need for biodiversity, education and local seed banks at a time when the climate is obviously challenging and some crops are already failing as the temperatures change. If this is a subject that interests you look up and support the work of the Seed Savers, even if it’s only in a tiny way…

Hot Tips
Mizen Seed Project needs your support. In an effort to create wildlife friendly areas around the Mizen area, JP McCarthy is asking people to save seeds from their own gardens. He will provide paper envelopes for the seeds and ask you to return them to the Mizen Seed Project, c/o Nellie Cotter, Little Way Charity Shop, Main Street, Schull where they will stored safely over the winter and resown and planted on within the Mizen community. Tel: JP McCarthy 086 199 1334

For those of you, who are interested in knowing more about ancient grains, check out Amazing Grains published by Kyle Books. Lots of interesting information and some very tasty recipes.

Just Cook It
Join us here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Friday October 6th for an afternoon of hands on cooking. Delicious recipes using fresh produce from the farm and gardens. The afternoon starts with a short demonstration, then pop on your apron and into the kitchens to cook, one tutor with every six students. Then sit down together to enjoy a relaxed and delicious informal dinner. You will leave confident, inspired and with a selection of recipes that you can cook again and again at home for family and friends. www.cookingisfun.ie

Going Gluten Free
As anyone who is coeliac, or who cooks for someone who has a gluten intolerance, will testify, it can be challenging to produce really delicious, balanced meals. Finally, help is at hand – on Saturday October 7th, this intensive half day course is ideal for those on a gluten free diet who faces the dilemma of longing to taste ‘real’ food. You’ll learn about a whole range of tasty and easy to prepare dishes including gluten free sweet and savoury pastry, crackling salmon with coriander pesto and gluten free raspberry muffins. Advice on alternative ingredients and lots of baking tips will help take the mystery out of successful gluten free cooking. www.cookingisfun.ie

School Lunch Box Suggestion
Anzac Biscuits
Makes 30

4 ozs (110g) rolled oats
4 ozs (110g) sugar
4 ozs (110g) desiccated coconut
4 ozs (110g) plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 ozs (55g) ground almonds
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon golden syrup
4 ozs (110g butter
2 level teaspoons bread soda

Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/regulo 3. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Put the water, golden syrup and butter into small saucepan, bring to the boil and take off the heat, add the breadsoda and stir. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Roll the mixture into balls and place onto a greased baking tray (leaving room to spread out), flatten with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

Christian Puglisi’s Cooked Onions, Buttermilk and Nasturtium

Serves 6

Blanched Spring Onions
1 kg small white spring onions, peeled and halved lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fine grain salt

60 g Buttermilk and Crème Fraîche Dressing see recipe

2 bunches nasturtium, leaved picked and torn, stems cut into 1 cm lengths
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt

Buttermilk and Crème Fraîche Dressing
100 g crème fraîche
15 g freshly squeezed lemon juice
200 g buttermilk
Fine grain salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over a high heat. Add the onions to the boiling water and allow the pot to come back to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer until the onions are just cooked, but still slightly crunchy, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the onions to ice water to cool. Drain the onions in a colander and pick apart the onion shells, discarding the tougher outer layers. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and dress with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Next make the dressing. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the crème fraîche and the lemon juice to combine. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, continuing to whisk, until the mixture is slightly thickened, approximately 5 minutes. Season with salt.

For each serving, place a spoonful of the buttermilk and crème fraîche dressing in the centre of the plate. Place a torn nasturtium leaf inside each onion shell and place on top of the dressing. Starting from the left side, plate 10 to 12 onion shells, one behind the other, until the dressing is covered. Place 5 or 6 nasturtium stem pieces between the onions, slightly angled upward. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, 3 sprays of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt.

Taken from Christian Puglisi’s A Book of Ideas, published by Ten Speed Press, USA

Christian Puglisi’s Potato, Seaweed and Pecorino

Serves 6

Potato Noodles
1 kg large Marabel potatoes, peeled
1 kg 3% Salt Brine, see recipe
Clarified butter, see recipe, melted
40 g Gracilaria seaweed, washed and julienned
Sea salt

Pecorino Sauce
125 g Pecorino Romano cheese, cut into 3cm cubes
250 g water
Fine grain salt

Pickled Green Sea Lettuce
500 g water
250 g red wine vinegar
30 g fresh green sea lettuce, washed

Clarified seaweed butter
100 g clarified butter
5 g green sea lettuce powder, see recipe

Slice the potatoes on a Japanese turning vegetable slicer with the noodle attachment, making the longest noodle possible. As you cut the noodles, put them straight in a large bowl with the salt brine. Transfer the potatoes and the salt brine to a vacuum bag and vacuum seal it. Keep in the fridge overnight. The following day, drain the potatoes in a colander, discarding the brine. Pull out 8-10 long potato noodle strands, bunch them together into one long line and cut them into 50cm lengths. Place the long bunch on a work surface and fold it in half crosswise. Brush the potatoes with clarified butter and place 4 small bundles of the julienned seaweed on top in different places. Using long tweezers, pinch the folded end of the line of potato noodles and tightly roll the noodles into a small bundle, then coil the bundle into a tight oval shape. Place the potatoes on parchment paper in a bamboo steaming basket. Repeat this process until you have 18 potato bundles. Place the steaming basket over a saucepan of boiling water over high heat and steam until the potatoes are just cooked, but not soft, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt.

Next make the pecorino sauce: – combine the cheese and the water in a Thermomix, set it to 60°C (140°F) and puree for 5 minutes until smooth and well combined. Season with salt.
(note that this makes more pecorino sauce than you will need for this recipe).

Pickled Green Sea Lettuce:- preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F). Combine the water and red wine vinegar in a bowl. Dip the sea lettuce into the mixture for no more than 30 seconds, then place in a single layer on parchment paper. Place a baking sheet in the oven for 5-10 minutes, and then transfer the parchment paper onto the hot baking sheet to warm but not cook the sea lettuce, approximately 1 minute.

Clarified Seaweed Butter
In a small saucepan, warm the clarified butter, then stir in the green sea lettuce powder.
(note that this will make more butter than you need for this recipe)

For each serving, place 3 bundles of potato noodles on a plat and top with 3 spoonfuls of the warmed pecorino sauce. Place 3 or 4 pieces of the warmed pickled green sea lettuce around the bundles and on the sauce. Drizzle with warmed clarified seaweed butter.

Clarified Butter
500 g unsalted butter

Slowly melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Do not stir the butter or move the saucepan. After 10-12 minutes, the melted butter will separate into three layers: foam, fat and milk solids. Skim the foam from the surface of the melted butter and discard. Gently pour the fat into a heat resistant container, leaving the milk solids behind. Discard the milk solids. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Green Sea Lettuce Powder
250 g fresh green sea lettuce, washed

Place the sea lettuce in a single layer and dry overnight at 65C (150F) in the dehydrator. The following day, transfer to a Thermomix and process until it has become a fine powder. Sift the powder through a fine sieve set over a bowl.
(Note that this yields more Green Sea Lettuce Powder than you need for this recipe).

3% Salt Brine
1 kg water
30 g coarse grain salt

Combine the water and salt in a Thermomix and process until well combined. Store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Taken from Christian Puglisi’s A Book of Ideas, published by Ten Speed Press, USA

Christian Puglisi’s Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt, Radishes and Nasturtium

Serves 6

Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt Mousse
125 g heavy cream
200 g sheep’s milk yoghurt

Cooked Radishes
250 g different coloured small radishes, halved lengthwise
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Fine grain salt

2 bunches of nasturtium, separated into leaves with 3 cm of stem attached

Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

In a bowl, whisk together the cream and the sheep’s milk yoghurt. Pour into a siphon bottle and charge with one C02 cartridge. Shake the siphon bottle until the mousse is smooth and can hold stiff peaks.

Blanch the radishes in boiling salted water until just cooked, but still slightly crunchy, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on size. Transfer to ice water to cool. Drain in a colander. Season with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

For each serving, place the cooked radishes in a pile in the centre of the plate. Siphon enough sheep’s milk yoghurt moussed on top of the radishes to cover them. Place the nasturtium leaves, with stems facing out, on top of the mousse, covering it completely. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.

Taken from Christian Puglisi’s A Book of Ideas, published by Ten Speed Press, USA

Mandelmann Farm in Sweden

For me there are two kinds of holidays, a totally chilled, lying by the pool, soaking up the sun holiday and an ‘away from home’ break, where I visit lots of farms and food producers, craft brewers or distillers and check out new cafes, restaurants, Farmers Markets……you get the picture, a holiday but one where I get to keep in touch and learn lots more about the food scene in whatever country I’m visiting. Believe it or not I find the latter type of holiday much more relaxing.

I spent a few days in Denmark and Sweden recently. This is particularly easy, just fly into Copenhagen and whizz across the 16km Oresund Bridge and you’re in Sweden. I’ve been wanting to visit Skåne for years, an area that is often referred to as the bread basket of Sweden. We were on our way to visit Mandelmann, a traditional and virtually self-sufficient farm. Gustav spent years studying medicine and Marie studied art and sculpture at Academy of Arts. They eventually decided that they couldn’t stand another minute in the city, there had to be another way to live your life so they bought 100 hectares and a traditional Swedish farmhouse and went back to the land with their children, quite the adventure……They set about growing food, rearing cattle and pigs and chickens. There are lots of springs on the land so they created ponds and streams surrounded by bulrushes and willow, herb and meadowsweet, a haven for ducks and geese.

There are apricots and mulberries hanging from the trees and gardens full of vegetables intermingled with flowers and herbs. Allés of fruit trees, orchards of heirloom apples. They have built up a huge number of skills over the years.
Not surprisingly, Swedish TV discovered them and is now filming a second series which has been a smash hit among the many who have fantasies about moving to the country to grow some of their own food without realising the phenomenal amount of work it all entails, but life is a trade off.

When they shear their sheep they use some of the wool on paths to supress weeds and do a huge amount of preserving. There’s also a café. When I visited several local girls were in the kitchen of the café making halloumi cheese from the milk of the small Fgael white cows and another was stoning a huge basin of plums for jam.

The gardens and farm are open to the public and now there’s a café and several greenhouses packed with heirloom tomatoes, underplanted with grapes and pumpkin, basil and French marigolds even a Sichuan peppercorn tree. The staff party was on the night we visited, long tables under the grape vines and kiwi fruit in the greenhouses. Huge bowls of salads and the sweetest lamb from the farm. All these young people and there’s a long waiting list to apprentice, learning valuable skills. Such is the popularity of the farm that one has to book ahead to visit and tickets are limited to 400 a day….visiting traditional farms and agritainment and fast growing businesses in both the US and Australia. There’s also a cook book, Självhushållning På Djupadal, by Marie and Gustav Mandelmann but it is Swedish – thanks to Ted Berner for translating the recipes. Here are a few of my favourites, plus my lunch box suggestion of the week as promised.


Hot Tips
Bayin Peanut Oil
John and Katrina Crawford set up Bayin to bring a taste of Myanmar to our table. They import cold pressed, naturally produced sesame and peanut oil from Myanmar and recently won a Great Taste Award for their peanut oil. It was described as “lovely delicate colour with good clarity. It has a good nutty aroma and sweet taste.” http://www.bayin.ie/ Tel: Katrina 086 1522653

Toonsbridge Dairy Cheeses and Real Olive Company produce from the English Market can now be purchased online. Customers can have mozzarella delivered to their door anywhere in Ireland, fancy that. www.therealoliveco.com or email Jenny-Rose jenny@therealoliveco.com

Irish Plums are in season but hurry the season is almost over, next up damsons so keep an eye out at your local Farmers Market. Rose Cottage in Co Laois had an excellent crop of Victoria, Jubille, Opal and Hagenta varieties.
Tel: 057 8732666.

Irish Seed Savers, Scarriff, Co Clare have a range of workshops and events through Autumn and Winter months. Creating an Orchard, Permaculture, Winter Pruning in the Orchard, Organic Gardening plus craft and skills courses……www.irishseedsavers.ie Tel: 061 921 866

School Lunch Box Suggestion
Temari Sushi (Clingfilm) Sushi

Makes 20-30 pieces

sprig of dill or chervil or coriander
1/2 quantity prepared sushi rice
25g (1oz) smoked salmon, cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) squares
10 cooked prawns or shrimps
1/2 cucumber, sliced wafer thin and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
25g (1oz) rare roast beef, thinly sliced and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces
To Serve
wasabi paste
pickled ginger (optional)

Lay a piece of clingfilm, about 10cm (4inch) square, on a clean work surface and place a sprig of dill, chervil or coriander face down on the cling film and then a piece of cucumber or smoked salmon at the centre of it. Put a teaspoonful of sushi rice on top of it.

Pick up all four corners of the clingfilm and gather them in the middle. Twist the clingfilm to compact the rice and form a small ball. Repeat the process with the other toppings.

Keep each piece of sushi wrapped in the clingfilm until just before serving. You may want to put a dab of wasabi under the rice if the temari sushi is being served as finger food. For a starter arrange on a plate and serve with pickled ginger and a little wasabi and soy sauce.
Sushi Rice

450g (1lb) sushi rice “No 1 Extra Fancy”
600ml (1 pint) water

Vinegar Water
50ml (2fl oz) rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt

Rinse the rice for 10 minutes in a colander or sieve under cold running water or until the water becomes clear.

‘Wake up’ the rice by sitting it in 600ml (1pint) cold water for 30 to 45 minutes. In the same water, bring to the boil and then cook for 10 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Do not stir, do not even take off the lid. Turn up the heat for 10 seconds before turning the heat off. Remove the lid, place a tea towel over the rice, replace the lid and sit for 20 minutes.

Mix the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt together in a bowl until dissolved. Turn the rice out onto a big flat plate (preferably wooden). While the rice is still hot pour the vinegar solution over the rice and mix the rice and vinegar together in a slicing action with the aid of a wooden spoon. Don’t stir. You must do it quickly preferably fanning the rice with the fan. This is much easier if you have a helper. Allow to cool on the plate and cover with kitchen paper or a tea towel. (It will soak up the liquid as it cools.)

Plum and Apple Jam

Delicious on bread or toast but only good with cold pork or ham.

Makes 6 x 450g (1lb) jam jars

900g (2lb) blood plums
450g (1lb) bramley cooking apples
150ml (1/4 pint) water
1.1kg (2 1/2lb/5 cups) granulated sugar

Cut the plums in half and remove the pips, then cut each half into 4. Peel and core the apples and cut them into chunks. Put the plums and apples into a wide, stainless steel pan with the water. Cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes until the apples and plums are both soft.

Meanwhile heat the sugar in an oven. When the fruit is soft, add the warm sugar and cook, uncovered for about 8-10 minutes, until the jam is set.

Pour into hot, clean jars. Cover and store in a dry, airy cupboard.

Damson and Apple Jam
Substitute damsons for plums and proceed as above. Remember to skim off the stones and scum with a perforated spoon (this is time consuming but worth it) as they rise to the top. Pour into hot jars and cover. Store in a dry, airy cupboard.

Marie and Gustav Mandelmann’s Rhubarb Juice

2 kg rhubarb, washed and roughly cut
1.5 l water
600 g sugar per litre of rhubarb juice

Boil the rhubarb in the water for 15 minutes. Strain through muslin. Measure the juice and add the sugar. Boil up again until sugar is dissolved and bottle in clean bottles.

Taken from Självhushållning På Djupadal by Marie and Gustav Mandelmann
Marie and Gustav Mandelmann’s Rosehip Soup

700 g fresh rosehips
1.5 l water
130 g sugar
1.5 tablespoons potato starch
Lemon juice

Clean the rosehips well and remove any stems and remnant flower. Boil the rosehips in water for 20 minutes, stir and mash. Pour this through a sieve. With this liquid add the sugar. Add a little of water to the potato starch and whisk it down into a soup. Bring liquid, sugar and potato starch to the boil, dissolve the sugar and taste. It may need more sugar or lemon juice.

Taken from Självhushållning På Djupadal by Marie and Gustav Mandelmann

Marie and Gustav Mandelmann’s Green Tomato Marmalade with Chilli

1 kg green tomatoes
3 organic lemons
1 chilli
500 g sugar

Blend the tomatoes roughly, slice the lemons thinly and finely chop the chilli. Mix all the ingredients and stir in the sugar. leave overnight. The next day bring it to the boil until it is the perfect consistency, approximately 1 hour. Put into clean sterilise jars.

Taken from Självhushållning På Djupadal by Marie and Gustav Mandelmann

National Bread Week

National Bread Week is upon us and this gives me another opportunity to extol the importance of good bread and the magic of bread making.

You all know my opinion of the squishy sliced pan and how desperate I am to remind anyone who will listen that YOU, (YES YOU) can make a grand little loaf in the couple of minutes it takes to mix a few ingredients and pour them into a tin. Pop it into the preheated oven and hey presto you’ll have an irresistible loaf of bread in a little over half an hour – you certainly wouldn’t be back from the shops in the time it takes to make and bake a wholesome nourishing loaf that will delight your family, fill your kitchen with the warm aromas of baking plus give yourself a mighty feeling of satisfaction.

I’ve been baking since I was a child and all of my adult life and yet every time I also love the look of satisfaction on a student’s face when they bake their first loaf of bread and suddenly realise they CAN do it.

In fact if I could only teach one thing for the rest of my life, I would choose bread and I would never run out of options.  Think of the numerous types of breads made all over the world. Many, in the most primitive conditions without ovens, cooking simply on a griddle over the open fire or even in the embers as we saw in India. The dough was wrapped in the leaves of the Flame of the Forest tree and gently cooked in the embers of a dried cowpat fire. The leaves were peeled off and the bread was drizzled with ghee and believe me it was so delicious. If that sounds a tat ‘out there’, let’s get back to the kitchen where we have all the mod cons, calibrated ovens and no excuse not to whip up a loaf.

Soda breads are the breads of our country, made in minutes daily in virtually  every kitchen since bread soda (bicarbonate of soda) was introduced in the 1840’s.  It’s an alkali which reacts with the acid in the buttermilk or naturally soured milk if you have your own dairy herd.

Cultured buttermilk is available in virtually every shop in the country but it’s now totally low fat so if you want a beautiful loaf, add a couple of tablespoons of cream or rub in an ounce of butter into flour before you add the liquid.

Increasingly, I now seek out organic flour and flour made from heirloom varieties. Still a bit difficult to source but several small Irish millers are trialling old varieties of wheat and Shipton Mill, Doves and Marriages in the UK offer  a wide variety of ancient grain flours  – Einkorn , Emmer, Khorason, Spelt, Rye… On a recent trip to Denmark, I met Fintan Keenan, an Irish man working with Danish farmers Per and Gitte Grupe on Mordrupegard  who are growing 120 different types of heirloom grains on their farm. He himself is trialling 16, old Irish grains collected from seed banks both here in Ireland and abroad. The Nordic region has a particularly rich tradition and there is indeed a growing interest in these older varieties, now that gluten intolerance seems to have reached an all-time high. Here in the Bread Shed at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we also make a totally natural sour dough which is fermented for at least 48 hours and even longer at the weekend. It’s amazing how many people who cannot digest ‘ordinary’ bread can eat and enjoy these loaves.  A very limited number of loaves are available from the Farm Shop at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and we can do bespoke sourdough bread making courses for small groups on request.  Also check out Real Bread Ireland www.realbreadireland.org




Hot Tips

National Ploughing Championships, 19th-21st September 2017. Plan a skite to Tullamore, Co Offaly, of course for the ploughing competitions but also lots of cookery demonstrations, national brown bread baking competition, junior baker competition……www.npa.ie

Milkwood School in Victoria, Australia teach real skills for down to earth living.  There is a range of courses but the Milkwood Permaculture Design Certificate gives you the skills and knowledge to design and implement fundamental and life-changing resilience into your everyday home, community

There is a 2 week intensive course beginning on October 1st, 2017 that will arm you with the design thinking and skills to create resilient, synergistic systems for living, working and community. www.milkwood.net

ZEROKM at Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow.  Evan Doyle has worked tirelessly to bring us a new exciting Food Project called ZEROKM Dinner. On Thursday October 5th 2017, Evan and his team will cook that evening’s menu using ingredients that come from less than 1 kilometre from the Macreddin kitchens. Tickets are €125 and include a ZEROKM pre reception aperitif, a 12 course ZEROKM  tasting menu with wine and finish with ZEROKM aged cheeses and digestif.  Register your interest by email zerokm@macreddin.ie or through the website www.zerokm.com.

Ballyminane Flour comes from Uncle Aidan’s Authentic Stone Ground Flour which is ground at Ballyminane Mills, an authentic water mill located in Ballindaggin, Co. Wexford.

Telephone: (087) 6837789   Website: www.ballyminanemills.com

White Soda Bread and Scones

 Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30 – 40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my ‘great convertibles’. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses.  It’s also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.


1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon/1/2 American teaspoon breadsoda

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-14fl oz (350-400ml/1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups) approx.

First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.  Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface.  WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS.  Tidy it up and flip over gently.  Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.


Cheddar Cheese Soda Bread

Egg wash the surface of the bread, mark into 6-8 wedges.  Scatter with 4oz (110g) grated cheddar cheese and bake as above.

White Soda Scones

Make the dough as above but flatten the dough into a round 1 inch (2.5cm) deep approx. Cut into scones. Cook for 20 minutes approx. in a hot oven (see above).


Basic Brown Soda Bread

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

Makes 1 loaf or 3 small loaves


400g (14ozs/2 1/2 cups) Ballyminane stone ground wholemeal flour or a wholemeal flour of your choice

75g (3ozs/3/4 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) bread soda, sieved (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)

1 egg, preferably free range

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) arachide or sunflower oil, unscented

1 teaspoon honey or treacle

425ml (15fl ozs/scant 2 cups) buttermilk or sourmilk approx.


sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)


Loaf tin 23×12.5x5cm (9x5x2in) OR 3 small loaf tins 5.75 inches (14.6cm) x 3 inches (7.62cm)

Preheat oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6.


Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a large bowl, mix well. Whisk the egg, add the oil and honey and buttermilk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in all the liquid, mix well and add more buttermilk if necessary. The mixture should be soft and slightly sloppy, pour into an oiled tin or tins. Sprinkle some sunflower or sesame seeds on the top. Bake for 60 minutes approximately (45-50 minutes for small loaf tins), or until the bread is nice and crusty and sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

Seedy Bread

Add 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sunflower seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of pumpkin seeds, 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) of kibbled wheat to the dry ingredients. Keep a mixture to scatter over the top.

Note: Ballyminane flour comes from Uncle Aidan’s Authentic Stone Ground Flour which is ground at Ballyminane Mills, an authentic water mill located in Ballindaggin, Co. Wexford.

Telephone: (087) 6837789

Website: www.ballyminanemills.com


The quantity of buttermilk can vary depending on thickness.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of cream to low-fat buttermilk (optional).


Yufka – Turkish Flatbread

Bread is a staple in Turkey as in so many cultures.  According to the Koran, bread was sent to earth by God’s command, hence it is revered and not a crumb should be wasted.  There are many delicious ways to use up stale bread but I rarely have any over to experiment with.

Makes 8

110g (4oz/1 cup) strong white flour

110g (4oz/1 cup) plain white flour

50g (2oz/1/2 cup) wholemeal flour

1 scant teaspoon salt

200-225ml (7-8 fl oz/1 cup) warm water

Mix all the flours and the salt together in a bowl, add the warm water, mix to a dough and knead well for just a few minutes.  Shape into a roll, divide in 8 pieces, cover and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes – 45 would be better (however I sometimes cook it straight away).

Roll each piece of dough into a thin round, no more than 8mm (1/3 inch) in thickness.

Heat a griddle or large iron or non-stick frying pan.   Cook the Yufka quickly on both sides until just spotted.  Eat immediately or alternatively the Yufka can be stacked for several days, even weeks, in a dry place.

To reheat.

Before eating, sprinkle a Yufka with warm water, fold it in half, wrap it in a cloth and allow to soften for about 30 minutes.  Eat with cheese or butter and honey or fill with a chosen filling of roasted vegetables, cured meat, and salads.  They are then called dűrűm meaning ‘roll’.


9 ozs (250g/scant 2 cups) sieved wheatmeal flour plus extra for dusting

6 fl ozs (175ml/3/4 cup) water

Makes about 15

Put the flour in a bowl.  Slowly add the water, gathering the flour together as you do so, to form a soft dough.  Knead the dough for 6-8 minutes or until it is smooth.  Put the dough in a bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth and leave for half an hour.

Set an Indian tava or any other cast iron frying pan to heat over a medium-low flame for 10 minutes.  When it is very hot, turn the heat to low.

Knead the dough again and divide it, roughly, into 15 parts.  It will be fairly sticky, so rub your hands with a little flour when handling it.

Take one part of the dough and form a ball.  Flour your work surface generously and roll the ball in it.  Press down on the ball to make a patty.  Now roll this patty out, dusting it very frequently with flour, until it is about 5½ inches (14 cm) in diameter.  Pick up this chapati and pat it between your hands to shake off extra flour and then slap it on to the hot tava or frying pan.  Let it cook on low heat for about a minute.  Its underside should develop white spots.  Turn the chapati over (I use my hands to do this but you could use a pair of tongs) and cook for about half a minute on the second side.  Take the pan off the stove and put the chapati directly on top of the low flame.  It should puff up in seconds.

Turn the chapati over and let the second side sit on the flame for a few seconds.  Put the chapati in a deep plate lined with a large napkin.  Fold the napkin over the chapati.  Make all chapatis this way.

Ideally, chapatis should be eaten as soon as they are made.  But if you wish to eat them later, wrap the whole stack in aluminium foil and either refrigerate for a day or freeze.  The chapatis may be reheated, still wrapped in foil, in a gas mark 7, 220ºC/425ºF oven for 15-20 minutes.

From Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cookery

Ballymaloe Brown Yeast Bread with Rye

When making Ballymaloe brown yeast bread, remember that yeast is a living organism. In order to grow, it requires warmth, moisture and nourishment. The yeast feeds on the sugar and produces bubbles of carbon dioxide which causes the bread to rise. Heat of over 50˚C will kill yeast. Have the ingredients and equipment at blood heat. White or brown sugar, honey golden syrup, treacle or molasses may be used. Each will give a slightly different flavour to the bread. At Ballymaloe we use treacle. The dough rises more rapidly with 30g (1oz) yeast than with 25g (3/4oz) yeast.

We use a stone ground wholemeal. Different flours produce breads of different textures and flavour. The amount of natural moisture in the flour varies according to atmospheric conditions. The quantity of water should be altered accordingly. The dough should be just too wet to knead – in fact it does not require kneading. The main ingredients – wholemeal flour, treacle and yeast are highly nutritious.

Note: Dried yeast may be used instead of baker’s yeast. Follow the same method but use only half the weight given for fresh yeast. Allow longer to rise. Fast acting yeast may also be used, follow the instructions on the packet.


Makes 1 loaf


400g (14oz/3 1/2 cups) strong (stone-ground) wholemeal flour plus 50g (2oz/1/2 cup) rye flour

425ml (15floz/ scant 2 cups) water at blood heat

1 teaspoon black treacle or molasses

1 teaspoon salt

20g – 30g (3/4oz – 1oz) fresh non-GM yeast

sesame seeds – optional

1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5x8inch) approx.

sunflower oil

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8.

Mix the flour with the salt. The ingredients should all be at room temperature. In a small bowl or Pyrex jug, mix the treacle with some of the water, 150ml (5floz/generous 1/2 cup) for 1 loaf and crumble in the yeast.

Sit the bowl for a few minutes in a warm place to allow the yeast to start to work. Meanwhile check to see if the yeast is rising. After about 4 or 5 minutes it will have a creamy and slightly frothy appearance on top.

When ready, stir and pour it, with all the remaining water (10fl ozs/300ml), into the flour to make a loose-wet dough. The mixture should be too wet to knead.   Allow to sit in the bowl for 7-10 minutes (time varies depending on room temperature).   Meanwhile, brush the base and sides of the bread tins with a good sunflower oil.  Scoop the mixture into the greased tin. Sprinkle the top of the loaves with sesame seeds if you like. Put the tin in a warm place somewhere close to the cooker or near a radiator perhaps. Cover the tin with a tea towel to prevent a skin from forming. Just as the bread comes to the top of the tin, remove the tea towel and pop the loaves in the oven 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for another 40-50 minutes or until it looks nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. The bread will rise a little further in the oven. This is called “oven spring”. If however the bread rises to the top of the tin before it goes into the oven it will continue to rise and flow over the edges.

We usually remove the loaf from the tin about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and put them back into the oven to crisp all round, but if you like a softer crust there’s no need to do this.

Griddle Bread

This recipe is especially worth noting for students or those whose kitchens don’t have an oven, because all you need is a griddle or frying pan and a single gas ring. I’ve made this bread successfully in a campervan in New Zealand and on a riverbank in Spain. Serve warm, cut into pie-shaped pieces, with butter and jam, cheese, crispy bacon or cured meats. Serves 4–8


225g (8oz) plain white flour

1⁄2 level teaspoon salt

1⁄2 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

175ml (6fl oz) buttermilk

non-stick griddle or iron frying pan 25.5cm (10in) diameter


Preheat the griddle or a non-stick pan on a low heat. Sieve the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre. Pour in most of the buttermilk. Using one hand mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more buttermilk if necessary. The dough should be softish, and not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board and knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up.

Roll the bread into a round about 2.5cm (1in) thick. Put onto a hot griddle and cook on a medium-low heat for about 15 minutes on one side. When it has a nice firm crust, turn it over and continue to cook on the other side for a further 15 minutes, until nicely browned and cooked through.

Indian Paratha Bread

Makes 16

These roughly triangular breads get eaten all over India. Easy to make at home, all you need is a cast iron frying pan. In India ghee is used instead of oil.

175g (6oz/1 1/2 cups) sieved wholemeal flour (weigh the flour after sieving, add the bran to the remainder in the bag)

185g (6 1/2oz/1 1/2 cups) plain flour plus some extra for dusting

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) vegetable oil or clarified butter

200ml (7fl oz/1 cup) water

oil for frying and brushing


Put the wholemeal, white flour and salt into a bowl.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of oil over the top.  Rub the oil in with your fingertips. The mixture will resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water and gradually mix them together to form a softish ball of dough.

Knead on a clean work surface for about 10 minutes. Rub the ball with dough with a little oil put into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Heat a cast iron frying pan on a medium-low flame. Knead the dough again, shape into a roll and cut into 16 equal pieces.

Keep 15 pieces covered while you work with the 16th.  Flatten this ball and dust with a little plain flour.  Roll out, into a 15cm (6inch) round. Brush a little oil over the surface of the paratha, fold in half. Brush again with oil, then fold again to form a triangle.  Roll this triangle towards the point into a larger triangle with 18cm (7inch) sides approx.  Dust with flour if necessary.

Heat a frying pan (preferably iron) really hot and slap the paratha onto it.  Let the paratha cook for a minute or so. Brush the top generously with oil. Turn over and cook the second side for a minute or so.  Both sides should have brownish spots.  Move the paratha around as you cook so all ends are exposed evenly to the heat.

Keep warm in a tea towel or on a covered plate.  Cook all the parathas in the same way. Serve warm.

Paratha’s may be reheated wrapped in tin foil in a moderate oven 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 – they take 5-10 minutes.

School Lunch Box Suggestion

Egg and Scallion Mayonnaise in a Bap or Bla

2 baps or blas

2 hard-boiled eggs , cook for 9-10 mins.

2-3 tablespoons chopped spring onions

Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise

4 leaves Butterhead lettuce


Peel and coarsely mash the hard-boiled eggs with a fork.  Add the chopped spring onion and mayonnaise.  Season well with flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Split a bap, lay a leaf of lettuce on each buttered side.  Divide the mixture between each bap.  Top and wrap in parchment paper.

Alternatively, fill the egg mixture into a bowl or container, cover, accompany with a split and buttered bap and assemble just before eating.  Include a couple of radishes or cherry tomatoes in the box….

A little smoked fish, mackerel or a tiny dice of smoked salmon add extra flavour and nourishment here.


School Lunches

What a crazy busy week it has been for the mums (and dads) of Ireland who have been dashing around trying to get the kids organised for the big back to school adventure, a mixture of emotions…. For those whose littles dotes are going to school for the very first time, the whole experience is a major jolt for both the parents and child. For those with older children, it’s often a mixture of ‘glad and sorry’.  Back to the predictable routine of the school term has its advantages but then there’s the challenge of school lunches and the ever growing pressure to come up with healthy wholesome nourishing delicious food that they will actually eat rather than swapping with a classmate for a coke or junky bar.   Even more importantly food that’s cool but doesn’t make them appear nerdy….

Unquestionably school lunches have come a long way since a slice of Easy Singles in squishy sliced pan was the norm and tempting as it may be try to avoid that processed ham too.  I continue to check in with my grandchildren and their friends to find out about current trends and comforting favourites.

Without getting too technical about it, growing children need lots of variety – protein, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins, minerals and iron.  Boys particularly have an enormous appetites. The more biodiversity in their diet, the healthier their gut, flora and the brighter they’ll be……lots and lots of research is linking a healthy gut with our mental health and overall well-being.

Fingers of cheddar, carrot, cucumber, wedges of watermelon, apple, orange, nectarines….  Irish pears are in season now as are plums.  Fruit, particularly chemical free fruit, is expensive I know but so is a visit to your overworked GP so let’s focus on making sure every bit of food they eat is ‘medicine’.  As my mother regularly reminded us, if you don’t put the money and effort into putting pure nourishing food on the table, you’ll give it to the doctor or the chemist…..

Many children have become much more adventurous in their eating habits, their tastes are more eclectic and they tend to also enjoy spicy and robustly flavoured food.  Here are just a few ideas to whet their appetites but I’ve also decided to include one lunch box recipe in my column ever week between now and Christmas and I’d love your feedback.

Let’s begin by thinking beyond the standard sliced pan (my views on that are already well known).  A little loaf of soda bread, either brown or white could be mixed by a five year old, poured into a tin and baked but there’s a range of flat breads, tortillas and pittas on the shelves of virtually every shop to use for wraps, burritos, tacos, quesadillas and tostados.  Rolls and baps of every shape and form.  Try to find artisan bread, Arbutus Bakery now sell their extensive range of breads not just at a variety of Farmers Markets and small shops around Cork and county but are far away as Dublin.

A few ideas…..

Hoagies can be both veggie and non-veggie, Bowl food is all the rage, Invest in a bowl with a clip on lid, rice, bean, lentil or noddle bowls are super versatile and can include all the food groups.  Tacos are so hot now – a different filling for every day of the week.  Once you’ve made your first batch, sushi, particularly the cling film sushi or nori maki rolls are a doddle to make – tasty, nutritious and inexpensive.  A simple egg, mayo and chive or scallion salad is always a favourite and eggs are a powerhouse of nutrients.

So here are a few suggestions to get started.  Run them by your children and choose the ones that appeal.  Add some homemade lemonade or better still get them started on kombucha or water kefir.

A little White Soda Bread Loaf

You can make white soda bread in the round traditional way or like this in a loaf tin which is more convenient for slicing or sandwiches

450g (1lb) white flour, preferably unbleached

1 level teaspoon teaspoon salt

1 level teaspoon breadsoda

sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 425ml (15fl oz) approx

oatmeal, sesame seeds or kibbled wheat (optional)


1 loaf tin 13x20cm (5×8 inch) approx.

Sunflower oil to brush the sides and base of the tin


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

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.  Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, but not too wet. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well-floured worked surface.  Scoop it into the oiled tin, sprinkle with oatmeal and sesame or kibbled wheat seeds if you enjoy them. Place in the hot oven immediately turning down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 45 minutes. Remove from the tin and return the bread to the oven for a further 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked.  If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.


Italian Hoagies

A hoagie is also known in the US as a sub (submarine sandwich) a torpedo, a hero, a grinder or Italian sandwich.  It’s basically a long roll filled with a variety of cooked or cured meats, cheese, vegetables and sauces or relishes.  If pickled vegetables don’t appeal, then egg mayonnaise and chopped scallions or chives and maybe a few slices of beef tomato or cucumber would also hit the spot nicely, either way season it well.
Makes 2
7-8 tablespoons giardiniera (Italian pickled vegetables – see recipe)

2 soft sub rolls, split lengthwise

2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (see article Saturday, 4th June 2016)

2 large ripe tomatoes

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons approx, crisp lettuce, shredded

extra virgin olive oil


Chop the giardiniera and mix with the mayonnaise in a bowl.

To Assemble

Split the rolls lengthwise.  Spread a layer of the giardiniera mixture evenly over the base of each roll.  Top with a layer of thick juicy tomato slices.  Season with flaky salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.  Lay an even layer of shredded iceberg or little gem lettuce on top and sprinkle on a little of the giardiniera pickle juice and a drizzle of olive oil.  Press the other half piece of bread on top, tie with a piece of raffia – wrap tightly in parchment paper.


Makes 2 medium Kilner jars


140g (scant 5oz) dairy salt

cold water to cover

1 celery stalk, diced into 7mm (1/3 inch)

1 cup of tiny cauliflower florets

1 cup carrot, and diced into 7mm (1/3 inch)

1 red or green pepper, seeded and diced into 7mm (1/3 inch)

75g (3oz) green olives, stoned, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, chopped

2-4 jalapeno peppers (seeded and thinly sliced) OR1 teaspoon chilli flakes

225ml (8fl oz) white wine vinegar

225ml (8fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Day 1

Dissolve the salt in the water, add the diced celery, carrots, tiny cauliflower florets, pepper, olives and thinly sliced fresh chilli if using.  The vegetables should be covered in the brine.   Cover and refrigerate overnight.


Day 2

Drain and rinse the vegetables in cold water and drain again.  Mix the oil and vinegar with the chilli flakes (if using), marjoram and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer the vegetables into 1 or 2 sterilised Kilner jars.  Cover with the pickling liquid.  Allow to marinade at least overnight but the giardiniera will keep for weeks and get better and better.

Note – a cup measure equals 225ml (8fl oz)

A Rice Bowl with Avocado, Radishes, Spring Onions, toasted Almonds and Flat Parsley

This is a delicious combination but just a suggestion, the base can be well seasoned egg or rice noodles, lentils, beans, quinoa, orso , freekah depending on taste and the toppings a combination of what s in the fridge and in season


Makes 2
2 cups cooked Basmati or Jasmine rice



3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Flakey sea salt and freshly ground pepper


1 ripe avocado

4 radishes, sliced thinly

2 slim spring onions, thinly sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon toasted almonds or hazelnuts, halved or coarsely chopped

50g (2oz) cooked meat (optional)

flat parsley sprigs and a few tarragon leaves if available


Sprinkle the dressing over the rice, toss, taste and divide between two bowls. It should taste highly seasoned. Top with diced cold beef, lamb or chicken, or cooked or smoked fish, if using.


Then peel, half and slice the avocado, arrange on top of the bowls.  Sprinkle with the sliced radish, spring onion and meat or fish if it’s included. Drizzle with a little more dressing.  Scatter with toasted nuts, flat parsley and tarragon sprigs.  Taste and correct the seasoning, cover and keep cool until ready to eat.

Sweet Potato Wedges
Serves 4


2 sweet potatoes (approximately 450g/1lb in weight) (orange fleshed, if possible)

2 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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

Wash the sweet potatoes and cut them into quarters, put into a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and turn into a roasting tin.   Bake for 10-15 * or until just tender turning once until completely tender and lightly golden.


Yoghurt and Ballymaloe Relish Dip

To make a dip, mix some thick natural yoghurt with Ballymaloe relish and a little chopped parsley to dip wedges into – delicious!


Peanut Butter, Bacon and Banana Burrito

Sounds like an odd combination but it’s delicious and also nutritious.


Makes 1


1 wrap or flour tortilla

2-3 tablespoons organic peanut butter

2 crisp streaky rashers

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped, optional

a little honey

1 banana


Spread peanut butter over the tortilla.  Scatter with slivers of crisp streaky rashers and a little chopped parsley if you like. Drizzle with a little honey.  Peel a banana and lay on one side.  Tuck in the edges and tightly roll into a wrap.  Eat soon.  Alternatively, roll the wrap up loosely but peel and add banana just before eating.


Favourite London Eating Places

A reader texted me recently to ask for my ‘London List’. Another asked “Any chance you’d do another piece on your favourite London eating places”. I realised that its quite some time since I devoted a column to my new finds. We’re so fortunate to be so close to London – a mere 50 minutes hassle free hop from Cork or Dublin.

For those of us who are connected to the restaurant scene it’s a big bonus to be so close to one of the most exciting food capitals in the entire world. I pop backwards and forwards regularly for meetings and events so I use each of these opportunities to try out new places. Hence I’m regularly asked for my list of favourite cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars.

One of my most unexpected discoveries is called The Other Naughty Piglet. The name is super cute, not normally a good sign and then there’s the location, right in the centre of the Theatre District. The restaurant is upstairs above the lobby in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Palace Theatre on Shaftsbury Avenue in The City of Westminster.  While I was climbing the grim, blingy marble staircase I was convinced that what lay ahead would be disappointing. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

The original, Naughty Piglet, co-owned by Joe and  Margaux Aubry Sharratt  is a Brixton hotspot that serves seasonal and creative small plates alongside a great list of natural wines. It ticks all my boxes and  I particularly remember a Datterini tomato salad with frosted feta, micro greens and togarashi.  The latter is a Japanese condiment also known as Shichimi made up of seven spices. A typical blend might contain red chilli pepper flakes, Japanese peppers, roast orange peel, both black and white sesame seeds, hemp  and poppy seed, ground ginger and nori seaweed. If you haven’t already got it in your cupboard look out for it next time you go shopping.  You’ll find yourself reaching for it regularly to add oomph to grilled meats and seafood, noodles, salad dishes and even soups. At The Other Naughty Piglet, the chef sprinkled it over the tomato salad but the other bit of magic was the frozen feta grated on, at the last minute, altogether a delicious combination.  Burratta with chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream, crumbled honey comb and salted caramel were also particularly good. Pop this place on your London list and also check out Over Under Coffee in 181A Earls Court Road, a local community focused café that serves exceptional coffee and nutritious, simple and delicious food. Over Under Coffee are getting ready to open a second branch in October in the Ham Yard in Soho. Check out the breakfast sandwiches and avocado toast.

Bao started life in Netil Market close to the Broadway Market in Hackney serving fluffy white steamed buns filled with braised pork, sprinkled with peanut powder – you can’t imagine how delicious this Twainese street food tastes, always a long queue for Londons’ equivalent of David Chang’s Korean version of Momofuko which became a cult food item in New York.

It’s not that easy for market traders to make the transition from street stall to bricks and mortar. They often lack the staffing and accounting skills. The founders teamed up with Trishna and Gymkhana  (also add to your list) to launch the new establishment at 53 Lexington Street in Soho – can’t book but brave the queue and it can be an hour long but it’s worth it…..

In Shoreditch, out in Hackney, in East London there are several gems. Pidgin has been making waves serving a four course menu that changes every week, all the best places have an interesting natural wine list.

Many of the most exciting new restaurants are tiny – sometimes as few as 5 or 6 tables, owned by eager young chefs and cooks who are still fizzing with  enthusiasm and hungry for success. These are the ones I seek out but I often lose interest when I hear they have opened their third or fourth place.  Some succeed in keeping up the standard but they are few and far between. So you’ll need to travel out into the less gentrified suburbs where rents are lower to find the rising starts, check out Som Saa, Oklava, Kiln and Clipstone and another of my absolute favourites Padella.

Check out Legs– a tiny neighbourhood wine bar in Hackney, open just for dinner (and lunch on Saturday and Sunday) as I discovered after I’d schlepped the whole way out for lunch – simple beautiful British food, small plates, worth a detour and there’s more…..

Hot Tips
Ballymaloe Garden Festival
Get Gardening and Seed Saving

Don’t miss the Garden Festival at Ballymaloe from 2nd and 3rd September 2017. There will be a variety of talks, demonstrations, entertainment and shopping offers a bumper crop for garden lovers, seasoned experts, late bloomers, families and foodies. Entry fee is €8 and children under 12, go free.

FEAST Supper with Rory O’Connell at Ballymaloe House
Thursday 7 September – €75 pp
Rory O’Connell is hosting a special 4 course seasonal supper at Ballymaloe House as part of FEAST: Midleton Food & Drink Festival 2017. The evening will start with a cocktail designed by Irish award winning mixologist Andy Ferreria served in the Ballymaloe walled garden.

Taste of West Cork Festival
Don’t forget the Taste of West Cork Festival from 8th-17th September 2017. Check out Guest Chef Danni Barry from EIPIC in Belfast. Danni will cook dinner using the freshest and most seasonal produce at Glebe Gardens in Baltimore on Monday 11th September. €70 including wine pairings. Booking Essential. Tel: 028 20579.

Pilgrims Restaurant and Doswell Gallery join forces….begin the night with aperitifs, drinks and art at Doswell Gallery, then move to Pilgrims Restaurant for a five course tasting menu. Thursday 14th September. Tel: 023 8831796, booking essential.

A Date for your Diary:- Guest Chef Gillian Hegarty, past student and teacher at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and most recently Head Chef at Ballymaloe House will host a demonstration at Fernhill House, Clonakilty on how to prepare and use fresh herbs in canapés and cocktails. There will be a three course seasonal menu (waiting to find out if Gillian is involved with the dinner). Thursday 14th September, 023 8833258, booking essential

Home Butchery, Charcuterie and Sausage Making Demonstration with Philip Dennhardt
There’s a growing interest among chefs and enthusiastic amateurs for home-curing and sausage-making , a subject we’ve become more and more absorbed by in the past few years as we continue to learn and explore the rich traditions of many countries including – France, Spain , Italy, Germany, Poland …..During this one day course you will learn how to butcher a side of pork from nose to tail, identify the cuts and learn about the technique involved to dry, curing…. and learn how to make four different types of sausage and salami, chorizo, frankfurters, beerfest sausages, brawn………taste and enjoy
Saturday September 9th 2017, 9.30am-5pm, www.cookingisfun.ie

Labneh with melted red peppers, garlic, anchovy and sumac

Serves 4

8 tablespoons labneh
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tabs extra virgin olive oil garlic
2 large organic red peppers, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch strips
4-6 anchovies,
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A fistful of fresh mint leaves,

Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan, add the sliced garlic, stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sliced peppers, season with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Stir to coat, cover and cook on a gentle heat until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Taste, correct seasoning and transfer to a bowl. Fold in the halved and quartered anchovies if using,
To serve, Spoon two dollops of labneh into the centre of a medium sized plate to form a high mound, spoon a generous helping of the pepper mixture on top, sprinkle with fresh mint leaves and a generous dusting of sumac on top. Serve with grilled or fresh sourdough or a flatbread.

Datterini tomatoes with frosted feta, micro greens and torgorashi

A fresh and delicious inspired by a small plate I enjoyed at The other naughty piglet in London.

Serves 4

30 ripe but firm Datterini or other sweet cherry tomatoes,
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4ozs Feta cheese, frozen.
Extra virgin olive oil
Micro greens, both green and red,

Slice the tomatoes in half, both ways. Season with flakey sea salt and freshly cracked pepper,
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of freshly squeezed lemon juice, toss gently. taste and add a little sugar or honey if necessary. Arrange a little mound of tomatoes on a plate. Grate some frozen feta over the top, add a sprinkling of gorashi and top with some snipped micro greens. Serve ASAP.

Vanilla and Chocolate Ice Cream with Crumbled Honeycomb

Vanilla Ice Cream (see recipe that appeared on Saturday August 19th or on the website http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/foodanddrink/darina-allen-homemade-frozen-treats-457305.html

Chocolate Ice Cream, see recipe

4 tablespoons sugar
8fl oz (225ml) water
4 free range-egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints (1.1L) whipped cream
4oz (110g) plain chocolate
2oz (50g) unsweetened chocolate

Makes about 500 g (1lb 2oz)

85g (3 1/4oz) Duchy (or good quality local) honey
180g (6 1/4oz) liquid glucose
400g (14oz/1 3/4 cups) castor sugar
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) water
15g (3/4oz) bicarbonate of soda

1 Swiss roll tin – 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 inch)
parchment paper or silpat mat

First make the ice cream. Dissolve the sugar in the water, bring slowly to the boil and simmer until the syrup reaches the ‘thread stage’ (it will look thick and syrupy and when a metal spoon is dipped in, the last drops will form thin threads). Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks until white and fluffy, when the syrup is at the correct stage pour the boiling syrup gradually onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until the mixture is a thick white mousse – add the vanilla extract. Melt the two kinds of chocolate in a bowl over simmering water or in a very low oven. Cool slightly, add some of the mousse from one bowl to the chocolate and stir quickly, add more and then mix the two mixtures thoroughly, fold in the softly whipped cream. Pour into chocolate cases. Cover and freeze.

Next make the honeycomb. First loosen the honey and glucose syrup by dipping their containers in warm water, then weigh out into your saucepan. Then add the sugar and water and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually raise the temperature of the pan’s contents to 150°C (300°F).

Carefully sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the pan. The contents will fizz up like lava from the underworld, but don’t be alarmed, this is what puts the tiny air bubbles into the honeycomb. Stir the mixture to make sure all the powder is incorporated, then pour it out onto your silicone sheet (or baking tray). Leave to set for at least 30 minutes, then break the brittle mass into small pieces.
To serve:- remove the ice creams from the freezer at least 30 minutes ahead. Scoop out a quenelle of vanilla and another of chocolate ice cream and arrange side by side on a chilled plate. Crumble the honey comb over the top and serve immediately. Continue with the remainder of the plates.


Inis Meain Suites

Every now and then there’s a moment, a milestone which can indicate the end of an era…
For me a recent experience in a West Cork village was just that. I popped into the shop to buy a carton of buttermilk to make a loaf of soda bread, I searched the shelves to no avail and when I inquired at the till the lovely lady told me whimsically, “ah sure, there’s ‘no call’ for that, sure no one around here bakes a ‘cake of bread’ any longer.” It was just a small thing but I was always reassured by the presence of buttermilk in local shops, an indication that the tradition of baking a loaf of soda bread was alive and well in the parish. It’s a long time since one could buy an entire sack of flour in a village shop but it’s still possible in the one and only shop on Inis Meáin which hopefully indicates a rich baking tradition among the islanders. We certainly enjoyed Marie-Thérèse De Blacam’s  delicious brown soda bread at Inis Meáin Suites on a recent visit.
The food in the little restaurant there is pure and delicious, home grown vegetables, herbs and flowers from the garden, a taste of the produce of the island and the local coastline. The Inis Meáin Suites are booked up almost a year ahead but the good news is that the restaurant is now open to non-residents from Wednesday to Saturday. (www.inismeain.com ) Some of the stand out dishes on the menu during our recent stay were mackerel carpaccio with an Asian dressing, thinly sliced raw mackerel caught a few hours earlier in the crystal clear waters off the coast – utterly sublime. I can’t understand why we don’t see more fish crudo on our restaurant menus. The squid with black squid ink mayonnaise was also super delicious, as was the beetroot salad served three way and a plump tender lobster claw with aioli and rocket leaves. All simple, elemental cooking made with superb fresh produce – no foams, gels or skid marks on the plate – just beautiful fresh flavours and simple presentations, a breath of fresh air.
Well, back to bread, many of you already know how to bake but for those of you who don’t, let me tell you how easy it is to make a loaf of soda bread, made in minutes and out of the oven in little more than 30 minutes. So next time when you need bread, just turn on the oven. You wouldn’t have found your car keys and be back from the shops by the time its baked and cooling on a wire rack, filling your kitchen with the irresistible smell of crusty homemade bread that you can guarantee will nourish your family. I include treacle bread and white soda bread for you to try.

Hot Tips
Want to take the mystery out of cooking Seafood. Due to popular demand the seafood course for seafood lovers by covering all the basics: how to recognize really fresh fish, scaling, filleting, skinning, general preparation….
Using a variety of eclectic recipes we demonstrate how many of the best fish dishes can be cooked literally in minutes. Simple pan-grilling is an essential technique, while poaching, baking, deep-frying, steaming, salting and pickling all enhance the flavour. Sauces, salsas and flavoured butters, which subtly complement the fresh taste of fish, are an integral part of this course.
There are two practical sessions, which means you’ll have an opportunity to test out some of the recipes you have learned. Incidentally, the fish you’ll be using is really fresh. We buy from the boats at nearby Ballycotton Harbour as well as from Kenmare Bay. Whether cooking family meals or entertaining at home, this course will get you hooked on fish!
September 6th – 8th 2017, www.cookingisfun.ie
Indian Summer Supper Club at O’ Connell’s Restaurant in Donnybrook. If you are on a skite in Dublin today make sure you check out O’ Connell’s Restaurant. Alison O Reilly, Masterchef 2017 contestant has put together a 4 course menu inspired by fresh flavours and vibrant colours from the East. Dinner is €55 per person and include a raspberry and mint prosecco on arrival. Phone 01 269 6116 or follow the link for more information. http://oconnellsrestaurant.com/indian-summer/

Electric Picnic from 1st-3rd September 2017 in Stradbally, Co Laois.
Don’t miss Theatre of Food. Join the most talented food lovers in Ireland get all funky, all weekend long. From Assassination Custard to Rosanna Davison, from Finn Ní Fhaoláin to Fintan O’Toole, from drum supremo Ralph Rolle to sushi supremo Takashi Miyazaki, Theatre of Food presents a mind-expanding, mind-altering concept of what Irish food is all about. It’s all about fun, fantastic food and drool some drinks. Come along and meet Ballymaloe’s Rory O’Connell. Let April Danann of Rebel Foods and Dearbhla Reynolds of The Cultured Club expand your consciousness with their bubbling ferments. There will be music, there will be dancing and speed tasting of great wines of the world with Pascal Rossignol and Beverley Matthews of L’Atitude 51. Paul Flynn from The Tannery will be celebrating 20 years of Waterford’s most iconic restaurant, whilst Ivan Varian and Jonathan McCrea will show you once again just how strange the science of food can be…….lots lots more. www.electricpicnic.ie

Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites
Cáca Treacle (Treacle Bread)
Makes 2 x 1lb loaf tins
This is an adaptation of  Marie-Thérèse mother’s recipe.

160g self raising flour
320g wholemeal flour
40g wheatbran
40g mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower & linseed)
half teaspoon bread soda
pinch salt
1 egg
400ml buttermilk
1 dessertspoon treacle

Preheat oven to 210 degrees celcius and grease tins
Mix dry ingredients together by hand in big bowl and make well in centre
Mix egg, buttermilk and treacle together, pour half of liquid mix into dry ingredients and mix lightly by hand
Pour remainder of liquid in and mix very lightly by hand.
Put mixture into tins and bake in oven for 30/35mins turning midway for even baking. Tap bottom for hollow sound to test.
Turn out onto wire rack to cool
Copyright Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites

White Soda Bread
Soda bread only takes 2 or 3 minutes to make and 30 – 40 minutes to bake. It is certainly another of my ‘great convertibles’. We have had the greatest fun experimenting with different variations and uses. It’s also great with olives, sun dried tomatoes or caramelized onions added, so the possibilities are endless for the hitherto humble soda bread.

1 lb (450g/4 cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon breadsoda
sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-14fl oz (350-400ml) approx.

First fully preheat your oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a well floured worked surface. WASH AND DRY YOUR HANDS. Tidy it up and flip over gently. Pat the dough into a round about 1 1/2 inches (2.5cm) deep and cut a cross on it to let the fairies out! Let the cuts go over the sides of the bread to make sure of this. Bake in a hot oven, 230ºC/450ºF/Gas Mark 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas Mark 6 for 30 minutes or until cooked. If you are in doubt, tap the bottom of the bread: if it is cooked it will sound hollow.

Inis Meáin Squid Ink Mayonnaise
This is pictured with line-caught baby squid, grilled courgette from the garden, and wild and cultivated island flowers

Serves 12

1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 egg yolks
300ml sunflower oil
50ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
8 x 4g sachets of squid ink

Crush garlic and whisk together with the mustard and egg yolks. Combine the oils in a jug and slowly add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously to create an emulsion. When all of the oil has been added, whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt. Whisk in the squid ink until you get a jet black mayonnaise

Harvest Relish of Beetroot & Tomato
This is pictured with butter-steamed golden beets and rocket flowers from the garden with pantelleria capers. We make this large batch of this delicious relish with any beetroot and tomatoes left in the garden at the end of the season and preserve it in jars for the following season.

10kg beetroot
10kg tomatoes
20 sprigs of thyme
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1.5kg brown sugar
800ml red wine vinegar
200ml balsamic vinegar
10 red onions, chopped
2 sticks of horseradish, finely grated

Roast the beetroot in a large baking tray at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 1 hour until soft. When cold enough to handle, peel and coarsely blend in a magimix, and put into a large pot.
Half the tomatoes and place in a large bowl. Mix lightly with the thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper and roast on a large baking tray at 200 degrees Celsius for approximately 30 minutes. Coarsely blend in magimix.
Put all the pickle ingredients except for the horseradish in a large pot and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and mix in the tomatoes and horseradish.
Gradually add the tomato pickle to the beetroot until you get a consistency and flavour that you are happy with.
Jar up your beetroot relish and any excess tomato pickle and put away for the winter!

Inis Méain Vanilla Flapjacks (Flapóig Fanaile)

These flapjacks were thin and crisp and altogether were more delicious than the version I’ve been making myself for years. Thank you Marie-Thérèse and the Inis Meáin team for sharing.

Makes 48 flapjacks

650 g butter
2 dessertspoons golden syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
900 g jumbo oatmeal or gluten free oatmeal
450 g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Get two trays and a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter and golden syrup in a pot and add the vanilla extract. Mix the oatmeal and sugar together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the butter mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into the tin, spread evenly and use a fish slice to flatten the surface well.
Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, turning the tray after 10 minutes. Check every 2 minutes after 15 minutes as they can burn easily. Cook until golden brown. Remove from the oven; place the tray on a wire rack for 3-4 minutes to cool slightly. The flapjacks need to be tended to once they come out of the oven. Cut the biscuits in a grid of 6 by 4 within 5 minutes of coming out of the oven. After a further 5 minutes once the butter has solidified slightly more but not too much use a fish slice to place flapjacks on a wire rack to cool.
Once set place in a tin lined with a sheet of greaseproof paper to store.


It’s unbelievable how quickly fermentation and pickling have become mainstream. At a dinner recently I was sitting beside a teacher from a local school who was waxing lyrical about his jars of sauerkraut and kimchi and the health benefits. Readers will know I’m not a fan of sell by dates and best before dates for a variety of reasons not least the fact that they have inadvertently served to disempower us, as more and more shoppers have come to rely on them rather than their common sense to judge whether food is safe to eat. My advice used to be, examine it, smell it, taste it but you can hear it – throw it out – no longer the case now as our bottles and jars of fermented food bubble away in the pantry and Bubble Shed.
A few weekends ago our fermenting team including my daughter in law Penny Allen, our dairy queen Maria Walsh and some friends drove all the way to Rossinver in lovely Co Leitrim to attend a fermentation course. They are all fermenting nerds with quite a bit of practical experience under their belts but they returned on a bubble of excitement having spent the weekend at a brilliantly run and deeply informative event, a ‘Weekend of Fermentation Madness’. A Fermentation Dinner at Sweet Beat in Sligo kicked off the event organised by Gaby and Hans Wieland from the Organic Centre.
There is unusual agreement that our modern diet is causing many challenges not least the gut problems that so many people are troubled with these days, partly as a result of eating a cocktail of highly processed foods. Ted Dinan, Professor of Psychiatry and a Principal Investigator in the APC Microbiome Institute at University College Cork, has done very interesting research on the connection between the gut biome and our mental health.
More recently, Dan Saladino of the BBC 4 Food Programme did two segments on the indigenous Hadza tribe who live in remotest Tanzania. They are virtually the last remaining hunter-gatherers on earth. They live on seasonal berries, roots, wild honey and the occasional feast of roast porcupine. Interestingly their gut biome on average is 40% richer than any of the rest of us. They grow no food, raise no livestock and live without calendars or rules. Their rich store of gut bacteria is of huge interest to the world of science and medicine. We can’t easily achieve that complexity on modern diets but we certainly can enhance our gut flora by changing our diet to predominately fresh naturally produced real food and include some fermented foods on a regular basis.
Sauerkraut is super easy to make as is this quick kimchi recipe given to me by David Tanis. There are several books to start you on your journey and watch out, you can get properly hooked on the ‘bubble thing’. Look out for Fermented by Charlotte Pike and more recently Ferment, Pickle, Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska-Poffley which teaches you how to preserve foods using ancient methods of fermenting, pickling, drying and recipes to enjoy them in.

Quick Scallion Kimchee

Makes 2 cups

Although the classic long-fermented cabbage-based kimchee is fairly easy to make, it does take time. This version with scallions is ridiculously simple and ready in a day or two. I learned how to make it from my friend Russell, a Los Angeles–born cook whose Korean mother made it throughout his childhood. Russell serves it to accompany perfectly steamed rice and simple grilled fish, a lovely combination. I like it chopped and stirred into a bowl of brothy ramen-style noodles, or tucked into a ham sandwich.

4 bunches scallions
2 teaspoons salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) raw sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) toasted sesame oil
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) toasted sesame seeds
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) fish sauce
3/4 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon) rice vinegar

Trim the scallions and cut into 7.5cm (3 inch) lengths. Put them in a glass or ceramic bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Mix together the garlic, sugar, ginger, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, sesame seeds, fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Add to the scallions and toss well to coat.

Lay a plate over the bowl and leave in a warm place (at least 21°C/70°F) for 24 hours. Or, for a stronger-tasting kimchee, let ripen for up to 72 hours. It will keep for a month, refrigerated.

“Excerpted from One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan Books).
Copyright © 2013. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.”

Penny’s (Sauerkraut) Kraut-Chi

At its basic sauerkraut is chopped or shredded cabbage that is salted and fermented in its own juice. It has existed in one form or another for thousands of years and sailors have carried it on ships to ward off scurvy because of its high Vitamin C content. The basic recipe for sauerkraut is 2 tsp of Maldon sea salt to 450g (1lb) of cabbage. Any other vegetables in season can be added once they are finely sliced or chopped. Avoid potatoes as they can become toxic when fermented. Weigh the vegetables after slicing and calculate the amount of salt needed. Below is a recipe we enjoy.

Makes 1 litre/900g (2lbs) approximately

500g (18oz) organic cabbage – red, green or a mixture, finely sliced
150g (5oz) onion, finely sliced
2 green peppers, finely sliced
150g (5oz) carrots, grated on a coarse grater
1 chilli, finely chopped
4 teaspoons Maldon (or similar) Seasalt

1 x 1.5 litre (2 1/2 pints) Kilner jar or crock

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pack into a large jar or crock. Pack a little at a time and press down hard using your fists, this packs the kraut tight and helps force water out of the vegetables.

Cover the kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the jar or crock. Place a clean weight on top (a jug or container filled with water works well). This weight is to force water out of the vegetables and keep them submerged under the brine. Cover the top with muslin or a light cloth to keep out flies and dust. Press down on the weight ever few hours to help extract more liquid from the vegetables. The liquid should rise above the vegetables. If the liquid doesn’t rise above the plate level by next day, add some salt water (a basic brine is 2 teaspoons of salt mixed in 600ml/1 pint/2 1/2 cups of water) to bring the level above the plate.

Place in a cool area and allow to ferment for 4-5 days. At this stage the kraut is ready to eat. As you eat the kraut make sure the remainder is well covered in brine by pushing the vegetables under the brine and sealing well. It will keep for months, the flavour develops and matures over time.

Charlotte Pike’s Homemade Coconut Milk Yoghurt

Makes 400 ml (approx.)

1 x 400 ml tin of full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons agar agar flakes

Digital Thermometer

Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and warm over a very low heat until it reaches exactly 46˚C. Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle the agar agar flakes over the surface and whisk in thoroughly. Continue to whisk over a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes until the agar agar flakes are dissolved. Set aside to cool.

After 30 minutes, whisk again vigorously to bring the yoghurt to a smooth, even texture, as lumps can form as it cools. An electric hand whisk or food processor is ideal to use here. Pour the mixture into a clean earthen ware or glass bowl. Cover the bowl with clingfilm, allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.

Once the yoghurt has set, spoon it into clean glass, plastic to ceramic jar, put on the lid or cover with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge. Consume within 5 days.
Taken from Fermented by Charlotte Pike

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Whey Fermented Muesli

Prep Time 10 minutes
Ready 8-10 hours
Makes approx. 300 g (10½ oz)

3 tablespoons oats (rolled or porridge)
3 tablespoons millet flakes
3 tablespoons spelt flakes (rolled)
3 tablespoons quinoa flakes
2 tablespoons hazelnuts (whole or chopped into large chunks)
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon cranberries
1 tablespoon sultanas (golden raisins)
1 tablespoon flaked almonds
150 ml (5 fl oz/2/3 cup) whey

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl or a large 700 ml/24 fl oz jar. Add the whey, then cover the bowl or jar with kitchen paper, a lid or a plate.

Leave to soak for 8-10 hours or ideally overnight in the fridge. This muesli will keep for up to 24 hours.
Note: other ingredients can be added including roasted buckwheat or rye flakes, walnuts, sunflower seeds and raisins.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Baby Courgette Kimchi

Prep 20 minutes
Ready 3-4 days
Makes approx. 500 ml/18 fl oz jar

8-9 baby courgettes
60 g (2¼ oz/¼ cup) coarse sea salt

1½ bunches of spring onions or 1 leek, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 cm (½ inch) piece of ginger, skin scraped off and grated (1 teaspoon)
7 tablespoons Korean chilli flakes or dried chilli flakes
1 -2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Cut the courgettes lengthways 3-4 times, but don’t cut them all the way through. Rub the salt into the cuts.

Place the courgettes in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover. Leave to soak for 1 hour, and then rinse them well.

Place all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl and mix with a fork.

Work the paste into the cuts in the courgettes, and then pack the courgettes upright in a large sterilised jar and seal with a lid.

Leave to stand at room temperature overnight, then transfer to the fridge and leave to chill for 2-3 days before eating. This can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Water Kefir

With Water Kefir you can turn sugared water into one of the most vibrant, probiotic-rich drinks you can make at home!

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) water kefir grains
2-3 tablespoons (2 1/2 – 4 American tablespoons) organic raw cane sugar
4 unsulphered dried apricots or other dried fruit.
Approximately 1 litre (1 3/4 pints/scant 4 cups) of water – must be free of chemicals
Slice of unwaxed lemon

It is important not to use any metal utensils or brewing vessels while making Water Kefir.

Stir the sugar into approximately 250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) of hot water until it dissolves, then add remainder of cold water and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Place the water kefir grains into a 1 litre jar, pour in the cooled sugar water, and drop in the dried fruit.

Cover the jar loosely with a lid, or with a cloth secured with a rubber band to allow air in but to prevent stray debris from spoiling your water kefir. Allow the water kefir to ferment for 2 to 3 days. The longer it ferments, the drier and less sweet it will become.

When the water kefir acquires a flavor that suits you, strain it using a plastic strainer into a jug. Discard the dried fruit (or eat it) but reserve the water kefir grains which can be immediately reused or stored.

While the water kefir can be enjoyed as it is, after its initial fermentation, you can also ferment it a second time. Secondary fermentation allows you to flavor the water kefir, and the secondary fermentation process, which occurs in a tightly capped bottle allows carbon dioxide to develop, producing a fizzy water kefir.

Transfer the bottles of water kefir to the fridge to slow down fermentation and enjoy

Second Fermentation
After transferring you water kefir into a bottle add a handful of one of the following to your taste.

• fresh or frozen raspberries
• fresh or frozen strawberries
• several crushed mint leaves and juice of 1 lemon
• 10-12 dandelion flowers in full bloom
• 6-8 elderflowers or a large handful of elderberries

Leave to ferment for another 12 – 24 hours with a lid on. It’s a good idea to release pressure every so often particularly if your kitchen is warm as secondary ferments have been known to explode! Keep tasting to understand when your ferment is ready to your liking.

Caring for your Kefir Grains
Water Kefir grains are alive being a Scoby (Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts) and therefore require looking after to ensure they produce the best kefir for you.

Occasionally it is beneficial to give your grains a mineral feed.

Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley’s Fermented Hummus

Prep Time 15 minutes
Ready 10 hours
Makes 250 ml/9 fl oz jar approx.

250 g (9 oz/1½ cups) chickpeas, cooked
1 small garlic clove, sliced
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
60 ml (2¼ fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
150 ml (5 fl oz/2/3 cup) whey or water kefir

Blend all the ingredients, except the whey or kefir, in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Add the whey or kefir and mix well.

Cover and leave at room temperature for about 10 hours, then transfer to an airtight container and chill in the fridge.

Use within 3 days.

Taken from Ferment Pickle Dry by Simon Poffley and Gaba Smolinska Poffley

Hot Tips

We love West Cork Food. Walking Clonakilty Food Tour takes place every Friday from June – August, rain or shine, taking in some of the most iconic of local food producers in Clonakilty. The tour weaves a tale of history and tradition alongside innovation and community where good food is at the heart of the charming town. A chance to meet the producers in person, hear about their own personal food journey and taste their beautiful food. Cost is €45 per person. Book online www.flavour.ie
Yet another food festival – there are now so many it can be difficult to choose. The Enniscorthy Rockin’ Food Festival, 4th, 5th and 6th August 2017 (August Bank Holiday Weekend). The Food and Craft element of the Festival takes place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August 2017.

Artisan Food, Craft & Beer Markets, Free Live Music, Family Fun and so much more. http://www.enniscorthytourism.com


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