LitFest ’16

May 21st, 2016

After all the months of plotting and planning and the frenzy of excitement – today’s the day….Hope you are all heading to Shanagarry in East Cork for the fourth Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine or the Litfest as it is affectionately known – a mega two day celebration of food and drinks and food writing, participants and food lovers have been pouring in from all over the world to meet and hear their favourite cooks and chefs and authors. Others will want to meet icons of the beverage world – you can imagine the line-up. Check out

If you’re not already on your way you’ll have missed Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis in London and Eric Werner, Mya Henry from Hartwood in Mexico and Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully but there’s still time to catch the riveting Food Symposium in the Grainstore. This year this venue will be transformed into an exciting auditorium staging a thought provoking and inspiring series of short talks and presentations, giving us the most up to the minute news of what’s happening in the world of food and drinks. By gathering an interesting and dynamic pool of writers, experts, authorities and interested parties from at home and abroad, the festival will focus our minds and thoughts on the questions “Our food – what’s the story?”

It’s still not too late to try for tickets for some of tomorrow’s events. Check out Elisabeth Luard, an iconic food writer from London. How about Ari Weinzweig all the way from Zingermans in Michigan, a totally inspirational speaker – his topic ‘A lapsed anarchist’s approach to building a great business and a happy workforce’.

If you miss Natalie Wheen explaining “What makes a virgin an extra virgin” at 12pm today in the Grainstore, you have a second chance to attend the tutored olive oil tasting and discussion on Sunday at 2pm in the Carrigaun Room at the Grainstore. Natalie was an arts commentator on BBC Radio 4 but now focuses on her organic olive farm in Greece – AVLAKI.

There are lots of exciting new Irish voices in food. On Sunday morning Katie Sanderson of the Dillisk Project in Galway will give her eagerly anticipated demo at the BCS and Louise Bannon will join a Panel Discussion ‘Irish Women in Food’ this evening at 5pm in The Carrigaun Room at the Grainstore.

Catch Kamal Mouzawak from the Lebanon talking about his Favourite Middle Eastern Ingredients and Food from a War Zone on Sunday at 3.30pm in the Cookery School.

The Irish Food Writers Guild are there plus many of the country’s most exciting bloggers all sharing their insights and expertise.

The Big Shed will be buzzing again this year with delicious food and drinks from some of our favourite Irish artisan producers and all to a background of lovely gentle sounds and vibrant chatter. The free Fringe programme is over flowing with activities and events for #Litfest16 and promises to be a fun filled weekend for all ages.

The Family Corner in The Big Shed will be run and creatively curated by our crafty fun friend, Camilla Houston, swing by the Kerrygold Corner where there will be baking, face painting and of course butter making.

Pregnant mums and dads shouldn’t miss Kathy Whyte ‘Change for Health’ on Saturday at 11.30am The Garden Tent.

I’m also intrigued to hear Professor Ted Dinan from UCC discuss the relationship between our gut and our psychological wellbeing. Dr Alessandro Demaio, another huge highlight, ‘The Crossroads, Where Next?’ together with Danielle Nierenberg, Founder of Food Tank and Dr William Burke, Agricultural Economist at Stanford University, USA will bring people from far and wide.

If you weren’t one of the lucky ones to bag a ticket for Frances Mallmann dem today (It sold out faster than a U2 concert), don’t worry there’s another opportunity to hear him discuss The Joy of Fire at 3 o’ clock in the Grain Store on Sunday.

Sounds mesmerizing well, let me tell you it’s only  the ‘tip of the iceberg’. There are over 100 events in the jam packed programme. It kicked off last night in the Grain Store with a Welcome Party.

Don’t miss what Condé Naste Traveller has described as one of the top 10 ‘Best Festivals in the World’.


Hot Tips

Irish Food Festival in Kells

Don’t miss Sheridan’s Cheesemongers Irish Food Festival. It is unquestionably one of the very best showcases for Irish food and great craic. Kids workshops, foraging, walks and talks, Boyne Valley Food Marquee, lots of music, traditional games and lots more…

Sunday May 29th from 10am-6pm, Kells, Co Meath.


Sugar Campaign

Sweets Out for School campaign is attracting lots of attention at present. Concerned parents from a Kerry school are calling on the Minister of Education to remove vending sweet machines from secondary schools and call on teachers not to give sweets as rewards to primary school pupils.  I am 100% behind them, others please follow check out the Facebook campaign

Fermenters Alert…..

Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns from Bar Tartine in San Francisco are the reigning king and queen of funky fermentation. Don’t miss one and only opportunity here in Ireland to see them in action. Just a few places still available for their cookery demo tomorrow Sunday at 2pm. for more info.


Francis Mallmann’s Whole Boneless Rib Eye with Chimichurri

Serves 20


I usually cook roasts on the bone because I like the way bones gently conduct heat into the meat. But when you slather a coating of chimichurri on a boneless rib roast, the result is the most heavenly crust you can imagine. Just keep an eye on the cooking time and the internal temperature. Since all ovens vary, the timings given below are just guidelines that you may need to adjust in your own oven.


1 boneless rib-eye roast, 6-10 lbs

Coarse salt

2 cups chimichurri, or more if desired (see recipe)

6 bay leaves


Preheat the oven to 450F, with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.


Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with coarse salt and coat on all sides with half the chimichurri (reserve the rest for serving). Scatter the bay leaves over the meat. Place on a rack in  large roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.  Lower the heat to 350F and roast for approximately 10 minutes more per pound for rare (120F). transfer to a carving board and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

Carve the beef and serve with the remaining chimichurri.


For the Salmuera

Makes about 2 cups


1 cup water

1 tablespoon coarse salt

1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

1 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves

1 cup fresh oregano leaves

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil


To make the salmuera, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the salt and stir until it dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Mince the garlic very fine and put in a medium bowl. Mince the parsley and oregano and add to the garlic, along with the red pepper flakes. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and then the olive oil. Whisk in the salmuera. Transfer to a jar with a tight fitting lid, and keep in the refrigerator. Chimichurri is best prepared at least 1 day in advance, so that the flavours have a chance to blend. The chimichurri can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 to 3 weeks.

Francis Mallmann Seven Fires


NOPI’s Pearl Barley Risotto with Watercress, Asparagus and Pecorino


Serves 4


300 g pearl barley

2.4 litres vegetable stock

100 g baby spinach

200 g watercress

90 ml olive oil

120 g unsalted butter (80 g cut into 1 cm dice, 40 g left whole)

1 medium shallot, finely diced (70g)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

4 portobello mushrooms, stalk and cap thinly sliced (250g)

1 medium leek, green and white parts thinly sliced (180g)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Coarse sea salt and black pepper


Asparagus and Pecorino Salad

250g asparagus, woody stems trimmed

60 g pecorino

½ teaspoon olive oil

1½ teaspoons lemon juice


Place the barley in a medium saucepan and pour over 1.8 litres of stock. Bring to the boil on a high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30-35 minutes, uncovered, until cooked but still retaining a bite. Strain and set aside.

Wash out the saucepan and refill it with water. Bring to the boil, add the spinach and blanch for 30 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the leaves to a colander. Rinse well under cold water – this will prevent colour discolouration – then squeeze out the excess moisture and set aside. Keeping the pan of water on the boil, add the watercress and blanch for 30 seconds. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold water and squeeze out the moisture. Add to the spinach leaves, roughly chop and set aside.

Wipe out the saucepan and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the 40 g of un diced butter. Place on a medium heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring often, until soft but taking on no colour. Add the thyme and bay leaf, pour over the 400 ml of stock and bring to the boil on a high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, for the stock to reduce down to a quarter, so that you have about 100 ml left in the pan. Add the spinach and watercress leaves and cook for a final 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, lift out and discard the bay leaf and thyme, then, while still hot, carefully transfer to a blender with ½ teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Turn on the blender to blitz adding the diced butter a few cubes at a time, waiting until one batch has been incorporated before adding the next. Set aside.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Remove the mushrooms, along with any liquid in the pan and set aside. Return the large sauté pan to a medium high heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the leek and cook for 3 minutes, until softened but having taken on no colour. Leave in the pan and set aside.

To make the salad, run a vegetable peeler from the base to the tip of each asparagus stem to make long thin ribbons. Place them in a mixing bowl, and then do the same with the cheese, running the vegetable peeler along it to create thin ribbons. Add these to the asparagus, along with the olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a crack of black pepper. Use your hands to gently mix and set aside. Don’t make this salad too far in advance before serving; it won’t improve for sitting around.

When ready to serve, add the barley and mushrooms to the pan of leeks and pour over the remaining 200 ml of stock. Mix well, then place on a medium high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the watercress and spinach puree and stir through for a final minute or two, to warm through. Add the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and a grind of black pepper. Mix through and serve at once, with the asparagus and pecorino salad on top.

NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully



NOPI’s Chilli Jam

Makes 1 medium jar


500 ml sunflower oil

30 (200 g) Thai shallots, thinly sliced

24 (80 g) garlic cloves, thinly sliced

20 g galangal, peeled and thinly sliced

10 g long red dried chillies, de-seeded

50 g dried shrimp, rinsed and patted dry

100 g palm sugar, coarsely grated if starting with a block

1½ tablespoons fish sauce

80 ml tamarind pulp water


Put the sunflower oil into a large saucepan and place on a medium high heat. Add the shallots and fry gently for 6-7 minutes, until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots and transfer them to a kitchen paper lined plate while you continue frying.

Add the garlic and fry for 2 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a paper lined plate and add the galangal and chillies to the pan. Fry for just 1 minute, then remove.

Finish with the shrimps: these will need just 30 seconds in the oil before being removed.

Set everything aside to cool, then transfer to a food processor. Add 90ml of the frying oil and blitz well until a smooth paste is formed. Return the paste to a medium saucepan along with the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water.

Place on a low heat and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until a jam-like consistency is formed.

Cool before storing in a jar in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 3 months.

NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully


Courgette and Manouri Fritters

Makes 12 fritters, to serve 4, or 24 smaller fritters, to serve 8 as a snack


3 medium courgettes, trimmed and coarsely grated (580g)

2 small shallots, finely chopped (50g)

2 garlic cloves, crushed

finely grated zest of 2 limes

60g self-raising flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2½ tsp ground coriander

1½ tsp ground cardamom

150g manouri (or halloumi or feta), roughly broken into 1–2cm chunks

about 150ml sunflower oil, for frying

coarse sea salt and black pepper


Lime and cardamom soured cream

200ml soured cream

5g coriander, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime


Mix together all the ingredients for the soured cream sauce in a small bowl, along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a grind of black pepper. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

Place the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside for 10minutes, then squeeze them to remove most of the liquid: you want the courgettes to keep a little bit of moisture, so don’t squeeze them completely dry. Transfer to a large bowl and add the shallots, garlic, lime zest, flour, eggs, ground coriander, cardamom and a grind of black pepper. Mix well to form a uniform batter, then fold in the manouri cheese gently so it doesn’t break up much.

Pour enough oil into a large frying pan so it rises 2–3mm up the sides and place on a medium heat. Once hot, add 4 separate heaped dessertspoons of mixture to the pan, spacing them well apart and flattening each fritter slightly with the flat side of a slotted spoon as they cook. Cook for 6 minutes turning once halfway through, until golden and crisp on both sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate and keep somewhere warm while you continue with the remaining two batches.

Place 3 fritters on each plate and serve at once, with the sauce alongside or in a bowl on the side.


NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully



NOPI’s Coffee and Pecan Financiers


Makes 20 cakes, to serve 10



100 g pecans

150 g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice, plus extra for greasing the muffin trays

200 g icing sugar

100 g ground almonds

100 g plain flour

65 g malt powder (or Horlicks)

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground coffee beans

8 egg whites (300g)

2 shots of espresso (60ml)

Coarse sea salt


Pecan Coffee Cream

100 g pecans

3 shots of espresso (90 ml)

530 ml double cream

75 g light brown sugar


Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°F/gas mark 5.


Spread the pecans for both the financiers and the cream out on a parchment lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until they have taken on a bit of colour. Use the flat side of a large knife to lightly crush them. Set aside half of the pecans for the financiers and half for the cream.

To make the financiers, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once it starts to foam, cook for 3-4 minutes, until it turns golden brown and smells nutty. Strain through a muslin (or clean J-cloth) lined sieve and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.

Place the icing sugar in a large bowl with the ground almonds, flour, malt powder, baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt and ground coffee. Mix together and set aside. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to form soft peaks: this should take about 3 minutes if you are whisking by hand and just 1 minute with an electric whisk. Fold the whites into the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the espresso. Next pour in half the browned butter, continuing to fold by hand as you pour in the remaining butter. Finally, fold in the pecans. Set aside in the fridge – with some cling film placed on the surface to prevent it forming a skin – for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Next make the pecan coffee cream. Place the espresso in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and then cook for about 1½ minutes on a high heat, swirling the pan to reduce it by half. Add the pecans, cream and brown sugar and return to the boil. Cook for 4 minutes, for the cream to thicken, and then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool for at least 2 hours or overnight in the fridge. If you leave it overnight, the cream will thicken in the fridge so you will need to return it to a low heat in the saucepan for 1½ minutes, to loosen it up. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and set aside to cool. The nuts can be discarded at this stage (you can eat them if you like, but they don’t look attractive). Whisk the cream mixture for about 4 minutes with a hand held electric whisk, until thickened to soft peaks with the consistency of a soft mousse. It is very easy to over whip, so keep a close eye on it here. if you do over whip it, just add a little bit of milk to bring it back. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°F/gas mark 7.

Grease the moulds of two small muffin trays with moulds 5cm in diameter and line the bases with rounds of baking parchment. You will have enough to mix to make 20 financiers, so if you have 12 moulds in each tray, you can leave 4 ungreased. Spoon in the mix until three quarters full and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown on top and only just cooked through: a knife inserted should come out with a tiny amount of mix on it. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, before removing them from the tray. Serve warm or at room temperature with the pecan coffee cream alongside.


NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully



Spring Foraging

May 14th, 2016

At last the countryside is springing into life once again. Wild garlic is in full flush all along the roadside here in East Cork and in many other parts of the country. It looks like white bluebells but smells distinctly garlicky. This type is called Allium Triquetrum because of its three cornered stem but the other wild garlic which is sometimes called ramps or ransoms prefer the dappled shade of a woody area. The latter has broader leaves and a ‘pom pom’ flower which blooms a little later. The latter name is allium ursinum.

These are just two of the over 60 edible wild plants that we found on a recent Spring Forage. Pennyworth, little fleshy discs with a dimple in the centre were popping out of the stone walls asking to be picked and nibbled to quench the walker’s thirst or enliven salads.

Bitter cress, ground elder, dandelions, fat hen, good king henry, chickweed, sweet woodruff and several types of sorrel are all perfect at present to add to a forager’s soup or salad.

Fiddlehead ferns just ripe to be fiddled with and they are a fiddle to prepare…….

Comfrey can be made into fritters or added to a soup. Young nettles in profusion to be made into a predictable but delicious nettle soup or less predictable, nettle pesto or nettle champ. Emer Fitzgerald, in-house forager and fermenter here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School , made delicious nettle beer which nearly blew our socks off but so worth making.

Saturday Pizzas were also in a foraging mood; Philip Dennhardt made a delicious woodfired wild nettle, caramelised red onion, ricotta and pecorino pizza that had the punters begging for more. (Every Saturday 12.30-4pm at the Ballymaloe Cookery School).

There was tansy growing on the ditch perfect to add to your drisheen should you have a notion to make some.  Lots of salad burnet, silver leaf and sweet cicily, a sweet perennial that we particularity love with rhubarb.

On two local beaches we found rock samphire, limpets, periwinkles, wild mussels and many types of seaweed including laver, pepper dillisk and kelp, sea beet, sea kale and sea purslane along the coast.

On the way back along the little boreen, there was gorse in full bloom, young tender white thorn leaves, so good for your cardiovascular system. No flowers yet but the blackthorn is already covered in white blossom, harbinger of a good crop of sloes in the Autumn.

So make a mental note of where you saw them so you can make sloe gin or vodka for Christmas presents.

The alexander’s, the tall pale yellow green umbelliferous plant that grows by the roadside which we have been enjoying since the end of January are almost over by now but the angelica is perfect for candying as is lovage. The new season’s lovage is about 6 inches tall; I’ve just tasted some angelica and lovage gin that Emer made last year, both were good but the lovage gin was particularly good and worth making again.

There was so much more nasturtiums, sedum leaves, alchemilla (our lady’s mantle), tucked into the flower border, all edible and nutritious and edible.

These wild foods and so many more provide us with vital minerals, vitamins and trace elements at a time when the mainstream processed foods is becoming more and more nutritionally deficient.

However, tread carefully, don’t overdo it.  Introduce a little at a time so your system becomes accustomed to new flavours and nutrients.

Do a foraging course, equip yourself with a good foragers handbook, nowadays there many. Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School we do several foraging courses throughout the year , check out the website or enquire about a ‘bespoke course’ for a group of friends or colleagues. A walk in the countryside or on the seashore will never be the same again….


Hot Tips

Wow, it’s all happening in West Cork. Three different restaurants I ate in recently, Pilgrims in Roscarberry, the Glebe Café and The Mews in Baltimore, all had foraged foods interwoven through a variety of dishes on their menu. I particularly remember Macroom buffalo mozzarella beetroot, pickled fennel and hairy bitter cress and gorse ice cream at Pilgrims, John Dory on seabeet and wild cabbage served with mangalitsa pork from Nick Newham in Ballydehob. Loved the sound of potato and forest Kelp gratin as well as a spring foragers soup at Glebe as well. Both the Mews and Pilgrims had an interesting list of natural wines from Le Caveau in Kilkenny. Good Things Café recently moved into Skibbereen from Durrus is also making waves to add to the already exciting mix.

Cór Cois Farraige will hold their annual charity concert in aid of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association at the Garryvoe Hotel tomorrow night Sunday May 15th at 8pm. Tickets are €10.00 and available at the door.

Food for the Future

Kinsale College is hosting a one day conference on Friday May 27th , from 9.30am-5pm, with keynote speakers focusing on issues like food security, food waste and redistribution, the power of consumer choices, community food projects……For bookings and further information tel 021 477 2275 or email

Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine

This year, the flamboyant and fabulous Jeremy Lee of Quo Vadis, London will be giving a cookery demonstration. I love Jeremy’s simple but utterly delicious food, the sort of dishes you’ll really want to rush home to cook for your family and friends – on Saturday 21 May 2016 at 10am.



Pennyworth Fritters with Aoili


Serves 6


200 g (7 oz) white rice flour

20 g (¾ oz) cornflour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon cayenne

230 ml (8 fl oz) cold sparkling water

200 g (7 oz) pennyworth leaves, chopped


Aoili (garlic mayonnaise)


Deep Fry at 190°C/375°F

First make the batter. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in the sparkling water with a wooden spoon. Don’t over mix! Add in the chopped pennyworth leaves.

Spoon scant tablespoons of the mixture into the fryer. Turn half way and cook until lightly golden.

Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with a little salt.

Serve with aioli garlic mayonnaise or chilli sauce.

Alternatively, dip the whole pennyworth leaves in the batter and cook as above.


Lovage or Angelica Gin

We have so much fun infusing all kinds of aromatics in gin and vodka, try this – so light and herbaceous.  The lovage gin is particularly good, really, really worth making….


Makes 1L

1L gin

200g lovage or angelica stalks, with leaves

150g granulated sugar


Roughly chop the lovage or angelica.  Place in a large Kilner jar. Cover with sugar and gin.   Shake well. Leave in a cool place for six weeks, shaking regularly. Strain out the lovage or angelica.  Bottle. It will keep for a year or more, but why not enjoy earlier.

Foragers Soup

Throughout the seasons one can gather wild greens on a walk in the countryside – foraging soon becomes addictive.  Many greens are edible and some are immensely nutritious.  Arm yourself with a good well-illustrated guide and be sure to identify carefully and if in doubt – don’t risk it until you are quite confident.  Don’t overdo the very bitter herbs like dandelion.


Serves 6


50g (2ozs/1/2 stick) butter

110g (4ozs) diced onion

150g (5 ozs) diced potatoes

250g (9ozs) chopped greens – alexanders, nettles, wild sorrel, a few young dandelions, wild garlic, borage leaves, wild rocket, ground elder, beech leaves, chickweed, watercress

600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) light chicken stock

600ml (1 pint/2 1/2 cups) creamy milk

75g (3ozs) chorizo or lardons of streaky bacon

extra virgin olive oil

wild garlic flowers if available


Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add potatoes and onions and turn them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes. When the vegetables are almost soft but not coloured add the hot stock and boiling milk.  Bring back to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the greens and boil with the lid off for 2-3 minutes approx. until the greens are just cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Purée the soup in a liquidiser. Taste and correct seasoning.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan.  Add the diced chorizo or lardons of streaky bacon, cook over a medium heat until the fat starts to run and the bacon is crisp.  Drain on kitchen paper.  Sprinkle over the soup as you serve.  Use the chorizo oil to drizzle over the soup also and scatter a few wild garlic flowers over the top if available.


Roger’s Nettle Beer


This recipe comes from Roger Phillips’ excellent book, Wild Food. It makes delicious beer – sweet, fizzy, perfect for summertime.

Makes 12 litres


100 nettle stalks, with leaves

11 litres (3 gallons) water

1.3kg (3lb) granulated sugar

50g (2oz) cream of tartar

10g (1⁄2 oz) live yeast


Boil the nettles in the water for 10 minutes. Strain, and add the sugar and the cream of tartar. Heat and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave until tepid, then add the yeast and stir well. Cover with muslin and leave for several days.

Remove the scum and decant without disturbing the sediment. Bottle in secure ‘clip top’ bottles and drink.  This will be ready to drink in 2 days and will keep refrigerated for up to 3 months.  If too much gas builds up the bottles can explode so be careful. The bottles may need ‘burping’ every few days to release build-up of gas. Drink sooner rather than later.


Tansy Omelette

A little bit of tansy really wakes up an omelette and might be just the thing to cure a Sunday morning hangover!


Serves 1


2 eggs, preferably free range organic

1 dessertspoon water or milk

1 teaspoon tansy, finely chopped

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dessertspoon clarified butter or olive oil


omelette pan, preferably non-stick, 23cm (9-inch) diameter


Heat the omelette pan over a high heat.

Warm a plate in a low oven.  Whisk the eggs with the water or milk in a bowl with a fork or whisk, until thoroughly mixed but not too fluffy.  Add the finely chopped tansy. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Put the warm plate beside the cooker.  Have the filling also to hand, hot if necessary with a spoon at the ready.

Add the clarified butter to the hot pan, it should sizzle immediately.  Pour in the egg mixture.  It will start to cook instantly so quickly pull the edges of the omelette towards the centre with an egg slice or plastic spatula, tilting the pan so that the uncooked egg runs to the sides 4 maybe 5 times.  Continue until most of the egg is set and will not run any more, the centre will still be soft and uncooked at this point but will continue to cook on the plate.  If you are using a filling, spoon the hot mixture in a line across the centre at this point.

To fold the omelette.

Flip the edge just below the handle of the pan into the centre, change your grip on the handle so you can hold the pan almost perpendicular over the plate so that the omelette will flip over again. Finally, half roll, half slide the omelette onto the plate so that it lands folded in three.  (It should not take more than 30 seconds in all to make the omelette, perhaps 45 if you are adding a filling).  Serve immediately.


Rhubarb and Angelica Tart


Pluck some leaves from the angelica plant to decorate the serving plate for this creamy custard tart.

Serves 10-12



8 ozs (225g) plain flour

6 ozs (175g) butter

pinch of salt

1 dessertsp icing sugar

a little beaten egg or egg yolk and water to bind



450g (1lb) rhubarb cut into 1cm (½in) pieces

1/2 pint (300ml) cream

2 large or 3 small eggs

4 tablesp castor sugar

110g (4oz) finely chopped, candied angelica


1 x 30.5cm (12in) tart tin or 2 x 18cm (7 in) tart tins


Make the shortcrust pastry in the usual way (see recipe) and leave to relax in a fridge for 1 hour. Line a tart tin (or tins), with a removable base and chill for 10 minutes. Line with paper and fill with dried beans and bake blind in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans, paint the tart with a little egg wash and return to the oven for 3 or 4 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Place the sliced rhubarb evenly in the cooked pastry base, sprinkle with the finely chopped angelica.

Whisk the eggs well, with the sugar and vanilla extract, add the cream. Strain this mixture over the rhubarb, and bake at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, for 35 minutes, until the custard is set.

Serve with a bowl of whipped cream, best while still slightly warm.

Food Producers

May 7th, 2016

Asparagus with romesco sauce

We are in the midst of a real crisis in food production. Increasingly farmers and food producers are being paid well below an economic level for their produce and the general public seem totally unaware. Dairy farmers, encourage to increase their herd sizes and milk production are now getting 22 cents a litre from the farm – last time I checked it cost between 0.75c and 1.29 cents a litre in the supermarket. Where’s the fairness in that and what gives the rest of us the right to assume that cheap food at any cost is our right. The farmers and fishermen are caught in a helpless stranglehold in the battle between the multiples often having over borrowed to meet a promised demand. There are indeed many who cannot afford to spend any more than they do on their weekly food shopping but there are also many who knowing the situation would happily pay a little more if they were sure the money was going back to the food producer. I don’t know the answer – I wish I did but an answer we must find soon…….

I’m also amazed at the number of people who do not understand that ‘buy one get one free’ does not mean that the supermarket is providing the second item free, rather it is the producer who often has no option but to do so which further depresses their income even further.

At least, the conversation about food waste is gathering momentum. There are now many initiatives including Food Cloud, Bia Food, Stop Food Waste and Fruta Feia – Ugly Veg. In 2013 its founder Isabel Soares set up in Portugal an initiative to combat food waste by selling at bargain prices some of the perfectly edible fruit and vegetables that are not currently reaching the consumer for mere aesthetic reasons.

The project model works on a cooperative basis.  Every week, Fruta Feia buy misshapen fruit and vegetables directly from the farmers who cannot sell them on the regular market because of EU regulations and supermarket demands for uniformity. They, then sell at half the regular price of perfect produce, so the farmers see a much higher % of their crop and the general public are only too happy to buy the produce that the supermarket consider ‘garbage’. At present there are over 3,000 people on a waiting list for the Fruta Feia box scheme. They have just been awarded a European Commission grant of €300,600 to roll the model right across Portugal. This is music to my ears. After years of being outraged by the wanton waste created by the notion that undersized or oversized ‘uglier’ fruit and vegetables were less saleable  or nutritious or delicious.

There is another element I love about Fruta Feia, volunteers run workshops in primary schools to teach children about food waste and why they shouldn’t shun produce that looks less than perfect. Surprise, surprise, they find that children are very receptive to the message and think ugly fruits are funny and appealing….

This is timely at the start of the new growing season. We’ve been feasting on rhubarb over the past few weeks and I’ve just enjoyed the first of the seakale, asparagus and new potatoes. The latter were planted on December 22nd 2015 and are grown in the greenhouse. The new potato crop will be harvested out just in time to plant salad leaves.

I’m not a deeply religious person but each new year when I taste the first of these delicious crops, fresh from the farm and garden, I give thanks to the good Lord and Mother Nature for the earth’s bounty, but also to the farmers and food producers who work day in and day out to produce food to nourish and sustain us. They deserve to be appreciated and adequately paid for their efforts.


Hot Tips

Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016

Food Northern Ireland and Taste of Ulster have put together a  brilliant little handbook showcasing food producers, farmers, fishermen, breadmakers, fruit and vegetable growers, farmers markets…’s a revelation.


Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine

May 20th-22nd 2016

At this year’s Litfest, Canadian writer, Susan Musgrave, who has been described as everything from a standup comedian to an eco-feminist will be talking about her latest book and first cookbook, Taste of Haida Gwaii in the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Sunday May 22nd. Susan has received several awards in different categories of writing, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, personal essay, children’s writing and for her work as an editor. She has published close to 30 books. She lives on Haida Gwaii and teaches poetry at the University of British Columbia.


Flavours of Burma

A trip to Burma, now known as Myanmar, was one of my most intriguing adventures of 2015. Burmese food is virtually unknown outside the country, but word of its unique multi-ethnic cuisine is spreading throughout the culinary world.  Delicious salads, soups, dahls, curries, noodle and rice dishes with intriguing Thai, Indian and Chinese influences, reflecting its geographical location.  When I came home, we cooked many of the Burmese recipes I’d tasted and learned in the restaurants, cafes and tea-shops of Yangon, Heho, Lake Inle, Mandalay, and Bagan to a hugely enthusiastic response.

On Friday May 27th , we’ll teach a Flavours of Burma course, and introduce you to the essential elements of Burmese cooking and provide a repertoire of recipes that can be reproduced with ingredients, readily available from your nearest Asian shop.

This course includes an optional slide show of my Burmese adventure.


Asparagus and Spring Onion Tart

Serves 6


Shortcrust Pastry

110g (4ozs/scant 1 cup) white flour

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter

1 egg, preferably free-range



150g (5ozs) asparagus, trimmed and with ends peeled

15g (1/2oz) butter

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) olive oil

250g (9ozs) onion, finely chopped (we use about half spring onion complete with green tops and half ordinary onion)

110g (4ozs/1 cup) Irish Cheddar cheese, grated

3 eggs, preferably free-range

110ml (4fl ozs/1/2 cup) cream

salt and freshly ground pepper


1 x 18cm (7 inch) quiche tin or 1 x 18cm (7 inch) flan ring


First make the shortcrust pastry. 

Sieve the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Mix in the egg to bind the pastry.  Add a little water if necessary, but don’t make the pastry too sticky.  Chill for 15 minutes. Then roll out the pastry to line the quiche tin or flan ring to a thickness of 3mm (1/8 inch) approx.  Line with greaseproof paper and fill to the top with dried beans and bake blind for approximately 20 minutes in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.  Remove the beans, egg wash the base and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes. This seals the pastry and helps to avoid a ‘soggy bottom’.


Next make the filling.

Melt the butter, add the olive oil and onions; sweat the onions with a good pinch of salt until soft but not coloured.

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain.  When it is cool enough to handle, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) pieces.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl; add the cream, almost all the cheese, onion and the cooked asparagus.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Pour into the pastry case, sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top and bake in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, for 40-45 minutes.

NOPI’ s Chargrilled Asparagus with Romesco Sauce and Apple Balsamic


Serves 6


1 kg asparagus, woody bases trimmed (800g)

40 ml balsamic vinegar

60 ml apple juice

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

10 g flaked almonds, toasted

Coarse sea salt and black pepper


Romesco Sauce

1 dried ancho chilli (10g), soaked in water for 30 minutes, drained, de-seeded and roughly chopped

40 g whole almonds

50 g crustless sourdough bread, cut into 3cm cubes

3 medium plum tomatoes, cut into 1½ cm wedges (200g)

1 tablespoon good quality sherry vinegar

25 ml olive oil

1 medium red chilli, de-seeded and roughly chopped


Place all the ingredients for the Romesco sauce in a small bowl, along with 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Stir well, and then leave in the fridge to marinate for 4 hours or preferably overnight. Transfer to a food processor and blitz to form a paste. Place in a small pan and warm through just before serving.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the asparagus. Blanch for 1-2 minutes, until al dente, then strain and refresh under cold water. Set aside to dry.

Place the balsamic vinegar, apple juice and caster sugar in a small pan and place on a high heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until it has reduced by half and has a thick, sticky consistency.

Place a ridged griddled pan on a high heat. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt and put them on to the griddle pan. Chargrill for 2 minutes, turning halfway through so that both sides get scorched. Spread the Romesco sauce on individual plates and place the asparagus on top. Drizzle the balsamic reduction on top, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and serve.

NOPI, Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully



Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Hollandaise


Serves 2 lucky people, a last minute treat but so worth the wait.


10 spears of asparagus

2 beautiful fresh eggs


Hollandaise Sauce – (see recipe, p.00)


2 tablespoon of freshly grated Parmesan

Flaky sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper


2 slices sourdough bread



First make the Hollandaise sauce; keep warm

Then prepare the asparagus.

Put on two saucepans of water, one for the asparagus, and the other to poach the eggs.

Heat a grill pan on a high heat to sear the bread.  Cook the asparagus in 4cm (1½in) boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes, or until the tip of a knife will pierce the root end easily.  Drain.

Meanwhile crack an egg into a cup, then slide the egg into the other pot of barely simmering water.  Repeat with the second egg.  Cook gently for 3-4 minutes, or until the egg whites are set and the yolk is still soft.

Meanwhile grill the bread on the hot pan.


To serve:

Take two hot plates, slather the grilled bread with butter.  Remove the eggs one at a time with a slotted spoon.  Pop one on top of the bread, arrange five stalks of asparagus alongside and at an angle.  Drizzle with Hollandaise and sprinkle with finely grated Parmesan and a few flakes of sea salt.  Coarsely grind some black pepper on top, serve and enjoy ASAP.


Asparagus on Toast with Hollandaise Sauce


Serves 4


In season: late spring

This is a simple and gorgeous way to serve fresh Irish asparagus during its short season. We feast on it in every possible way for those precious weeks, roast, chargrilled, in soups, frittatas, quiches don’t forget to dip some freshly cooked spears in a soft boiled egg for a simple luxury. This was my father-in-law’s favourite way to eat Irish asparagus during its short season.


16-20 spears fresh green asparagus

Hollandaise sauce, (see recipe)

4 slices of homemade white yeast bread




sprigs of chervil


Hold each spear of asparagus over your index finger down near the root end, it will snap at the point where it begins to get tough. Some people like to peel the asparagus but we rarely do. Cook in about 2.5cm (1inch) of boiling salted water in an oval cast iron casserole. Cook for 4 or 8 minutes or until a knife tip will pierce the root end easily. Meanwhile make the toast, spread with butter and remove crusts. Place a piece of toast on a hot plate, put the asparagus on top and spoon a little Hollandaise sauce over. Garnish with a sprig of chervil and serve immediately.


Sea Kale on Toast


Serves 4-6

In season: late spring


Seakale is an exquisitely delicate vegetable much sought after vegetable in country house gardens in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is rarely if ever seen for sale in the shops but more adventurous garden centres now sell plants. It is relatively easy to grow, so is well worth cultivating. Replicas of the old seakale blanching pots with lids are now being reproduced, but a brick chimney liner covered by a slate works perfectly well. Even a black plastic bucket, though not aesthetically pleasing will suffice. Seakale thrives with a mulch of cinders.

Sow in spring and cover them with seakale pots or chimney liners and a slate to exclude the light in about November, then you will be rewarded with pale delicate shoots in early April. Seakale is perennial and visually it is altogether a beautiful plant with white flowers in summer and lots of bobbly seed heads in autumn.

Seakale is divine served with the first wild salmon or with some lobster or Dublin Bay prawns. One rarely has an abundance of seakale but one of our favourite ways to serve it at Ballymaloe is on toast with melted butter or hollandaise sauce.


600ml (1pint/2 1/2 cups) water

1 teaspoon salt

450g (1lb) seakale

55-85g (2-3oz/3/4 – 1 stick) butter


hollandaise sauce (see recipe) or melted butter


Wash the seakale gently and trim into manageable lengths – say 10cm (4inch) approx. Bring the water to a fast boil and add the salt. Add the seakale, cover and boil until tender – about 15 minutes. Just as soon as a knife will pierce the seakale easily, drain and serve on hot plates with a little hollandaise sauce or melted butter and lots of toast.



Seakale Tempura with Chervil Mayonnaise


Serves 6-8 as a starter

450g seakale


110g flour

2 tablesp cornflour

250ml iced water

225g chervil mayonnaise

Mix the cornflour into the water.  Put the flour into a bowl.  Add the water gradually, stirring with chopsticks, it will be a bit lumpy at first but a will eventually be a light creamy texture.  You may need to adjust the consistency by adding a drop more water or flour to get a thin even coating batter.

Heat the oil in a deep fry to 180C.

Trim the seakale and cut into pieces 10-11.5cm.   Dip one piece into the batter and fry for a couple of minutes or until crisp but not brown.  Taste for seasoning and adjust the batter if necessary.  Continue to cook the rest, drain on kitchen paper.

Thin the mayonnaise with a little water to a dip-like consistency.  Add lots of finely chopped chervil and a nice sprinkling of sea salt.

Serve the crisp tempura immediately with a little bowl of chervil mayonnaise.


Roast Rhubarb


Serves 6


I’ve become a huge fan of the sweet and intense flavour of roast rhubarb


900g (2lb) rhubarb

250-350g (9-12oz/generous 1 cup – 1 1/2 cups) sugar


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

Slice the rhubarb into 2 1/2cm (1 inch) pieces and arrange in a single layer in a medium size oven proof dish.  Scatter the sugar over the rhubarb and allow to macerate for 30 minutes.  Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes approximately depending on size, until the rhubarb is just tender.

Serve alone or with cream, ice-cream, panna cotta, labne……


Litfest 2016

April 30th, 2016

Things are really hotting up here at Litfest HQ, plans are romping ahead and bookings are pouring in for events at this years Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine which Condé Nast Traveller has described as one of the top 10 ‘Best Festivals in the World’.
In just four years this festival which Rory O’ Connell and Rebecca Cronin have skilfully and brilliantly curated has attracted participants and food lovers not just from these islands but from all over the world to come to Ireland to meet and watch their favourite cooks, chefs and food writers. Others are packing their bags to come to see their icons from the food and beverage world.
We’ve gathered together a dynamic pool of writers, chefs, cooks, foragers, many whom, we would never have the opportunity to see or hear unless we travelled thousands of miles to deepest Mexico to meet Eric Warner and Mya Henry from Hartwood to Argentina to meet a powerhouse like Frances Mallman – ‘King of Fire’ who is featured in the Netflix documentary The Chef’s Table.
For those who may not have been here before the events take place at Ballymaloe House, Ballymaloe Cookery School, The Grain Store at Ballymaloe, on the farm and in the gardens and of course the huge Fringe Festival and the Drinks Theatre will be rocking along simultaneously in the Big Shed.
In the midst of all the fun this year’s event will focus our minds and thoughts on the questions ‘Our Food – What’s the Story?’
The Grainstore will have a new setup to previous years and will bring a fast-paced, dynamic and enthusiastic edge to the festival. At Litfest16, The Grainstore will be transformed into an exciting auditorium staging a thought-provoking and inspiring series of short talks and presentations, giving us the most up to the minute news of what’s happening in the world of food and drinks.
But this is a cookery column so who are the exciting cooks and chefs giving cookery classes at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in the 2016 Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine.
Well, the guys from Hartwood, Yotam Ottolenghi of course but also Ramal Scully of NOPI have chosen some recipes from their new NOPI cookbook. The irrepressible Jeremy Lee from Quo Vadis in London will share some of the dishes that lure people back to his establishment in Soho over and over again. My favourite London baker Claire Ptak from Violet Cakes will be in the Dem Theatre at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on Sunday.
And guess what, the authors of my favourite book of 2015, Bar Tartine Techniques and Recipes, Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns will also be here. Those of you enchanted by preserving and fermentation must not miss these two alchemists from Bar Tartine in San Francisco. As ever there is a strong Irish presence and Katie Sanderson of the Dilisk Project in Galway, one of the most exciting new voices in food will give a cookery dem on Sunday.
Fans of Kamal Mouzawak from Beirut and he has many fans in Ireland will want to catch up with him at 3.30 on Sunday in the Blue Dining Room at the BCS.
Now this is just a taste of over 100 events on the weekend of 20-22 May 2016. So check out Some events are already sold out but there are still lots of good things to explore.
Here is a taste of what’s to come.

Ottolenghi’s Green Pancakes with Lime Butter

Serves 3-4

250 g spinach, washed
110 g self-raising flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 free range egg
50 g unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
150 ml milk
6 medium spring onions, (110 g in total), finely sliced
2 fresh green chillies, thinly sliced
1 free range egg white
Olive oil for frying

Lime Butter
100 g unsalted butter, softened
Grated zest of 1 lime
1½ tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon coriander, chopped
½ garlic clove, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes

First make the lime butter. Put the butter in a medium bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until it turns soft and creamy. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Tip onto a sheet of cling film and roll into a sausage shape. Twist the ends of the film to seal the flavoured butter. Chill until firm.

Wilt the spinach in a pan with a splash of water. Drain in a sieve and when cool, squeeze hard with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop and put aside.
For the pancake batter, put the flour, baking powder, whole egg, melted butter, salt,cumin and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the spring onions, chillies and spinach and mix with a fork. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold it into the batter.
Pour a small amount of olive oil into a frying pay and place on a medium heat. For each pancake, ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. You should get smallish pancakes, about 7cm in diameter and 1 cm thick. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until you get a good golden green colour. Transfer to kitchen paper and keep warm. Continue making pancakes, adding oil to the pan as needed until the batter is used up.
To serve, pile up three warm pancakes per person and place a slice of flavoured butter on top to melt.



NOPI’s Red Quinoa and Watercress Salad

If you can’t find red quinoa, the more widely available white quinoa can be used in this recipe. It will need a couple of minutes less cooking time than the red.

Serves 4

5 small shallots, sliced into pinwheels, 1 cm thick
½ teaspoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon sumac
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
200 g red quinoa, rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
150 g young watercress leaves, tough stalks removed
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

Place the shallots in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside for 5 minutes before adding the sugar, sumac and vinegar. Mix again and set aside for another 30 minutes.

Bring a small pan of water to the boil and add the quinoa. Return to the boil and then cook for 11 minutes. Drain, refresh well under cold water and then set aside until completely dry.

To make the dressing, place the lemon juice and mustard in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix continuously as you slowly add the olive oil.

Strain the shallots and put them into a large mixing bowl, along with 1 tablespoon of the pickling liquid. Add the quinoa and watercress, pour over the dressing. Combine everything gently and serve.


Hartwood’s Grapefruit, Mezcal and Burnt Honey Cake

Serves 8-10

For the Cake
3½ cups plain flour
¼ cup ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1½ cups of plain whole milk yoghurt
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dark honey
2 grapefruit, zest, segmented and juice

For the Caramel
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons mezcal
¼ cup dark honey
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan. Line with baking parchment and butter the parchment.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Next zest the grapefruit and segment the fruit. First, slice off the top and bottom of the grapefruit so that you can see two tiny circles of flesh. Slice off the skin, pith and outer membrane. Trim off any white patches left after you cut off all the peel. Holding the fruit in one hand and a sharp knife in the other, working over a small bowl, slice as close as possible to the membranes that separate the sections. Slice along one, then the other and flick the loosened segment into the bowl. When the entire fruit is segmented, squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes with your hand and reserve.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the yoghurt, sweetened condensed milk and ¾ cup of honey. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to over mix.

Arrange the grapefruit segments in concentric rings in the bottom of the cake pan. Pour the remaining ¼ cup of honey over the grapefruit. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool.

Next make the caramel. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan, bring to a simmer and simmer until the sugar melts and the caramel turns a dark amber colour. (be careful at the end – it can burn quickly). Add the reserved grapefruit juice, the caramel will bubble up and swirl to incorporate, then add the mescal and continue swirling until the caramel returns to an amber colour. Add the honey, grapefruit zest and butter, swirl to incorporate, then take off the heat.

To serve, turn the cake out on a cooling rack and remove the paper. Transfer to a serving plate and pour over the warm caramel. Dust with icing sugar.

Note: Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the Maguey plant native to Mexico. Tequila can be used as a substitute.


Hot Tips

Homemade Butter and Yoghurt

Wouldn’t you love to be able to make your own butter. We will teach you how and also make yoghurt, cottage cheese, labneh, paneer and a simple farmhouse cheese on Wednesday morning, May 5th at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. Students who would like to learn how to milk a cow can join us at 8.30am when we milk our Jersey cows and separate the milk and cream in our micro dairy for more info.

Slow Food East Cork Event
Hear the story of Irish tortillas. Blanco Nino is based in Clonmel, Co Tipperary producing all natural, authentic, naturally gluten free and all round awesome corn tortillas and tortilla chips. Philip Martin works with great, passionate and sustainability-focused farmers growing non-GM corn and he will be at the Cookery School on Thursday May 5th to tell us his story. for more information.

Have you ever tasted Dexter beef?
Slow Food North West
Slow Food North West will host a Dexter beef spring barbecue and beer tasting on Sunday May 8th in Hamilton Castle, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim from 1pm. Meet the charcoal maker, the farmer and the master brewer. Tel 083 486 9467 or for the details.

Claudia Roden

April 23rd, 2016

Scallops 0672 (1) p.52 (1) (1)


Claudia Roden, one of the world’s best known and best loved cookery writers has just celebrated her 80th birthday. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a wonderful party in Claudia’s honour during the Oxford Literary Festival at Oxford Brooks University recently. It was hosted by Donald Sloan, chair of Oxford Gastronomica and head of the specialist centre for the study of food, drink and culture at the university.

It was a splendid evening with so many food writers and cook book authors gathered together to pay homage to lovely Claudia who has contributed so much to our knowledge of so many diverse cuisines. Claudia was born and brought up in Cairo before moving to the UK to study art. She longed for the food of her homeland and collected recipes from the many who had to flee their war torn country. Her best seller, A Book of Middle Eastern Food published in 1968 revolutionised our attitude and knowledge of food of the Middle East, Claudia went on to write many other award winning cookbooks on the Food of Italy, Spain, the Mediterranean, a book on coffee, another on picnics and a hugely acclaimed book on Jewish Food.

Her writing is distinguished by her interest in the social and historical background to the food she writes about and has deservedly received tremendous critical acclaim worldwide. Claudia was one of the first guest chefs to teach at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and has returned to inspire us on several occasions including the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Litfest in 2014.

The meal was cooked by another of my favourite chefs, award winning José Pizzarro who came to London from Madrid to open José Tapas Bar in 2011 followed by Pizarro Restaurant and most recently a third restaurant in Broadgate Circle in the City.

His food is simple, honest and utterly delicious and he and his team of 7 chefs certainly didn’t disappoint.  Several little pica pica to nibble with drinks. Skewers of pata negra, croquettes and ???

Claudia’s grandson Caesar made the most delicious rum and raisin ice cream pops a truly delicious finale to a memorable meal.

José newest book Basque celebrates the food of his native region on the Spanish/French border – you’ll love his simple recipes – Here’s a taste.


Hot Tips

GIY Cottage Market is now being rolled out as a GIY initiative with three markets up and running in Ladysbridge, Co Cork, Drogheda, Co Louth and Headford in Co Galway. The ethos is homemade, homegrown and handcrafted

Mary Kay has an enticing selection of gluten free produce at her Ladsybridge Cottage Market stall. The gluten free brownies and biscuits are her best sellers. Tel Mary Kay on 086 8277117.

The Willow Food Company  focuses on fermented and cultured produce such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, grain and dairy free fruit breads…Lisa can be contacted at

The Ladysbridge Cottage Market is on every Sunday from 11am-1.30pm at The Old Cottage on the Ballymacoda Road or in the Community Hall on the Garryvoe Road, depending on the weather

Spring Woods and Hedgerow Foraging Day

Join Slow Food Mayo tomorrow, Sunday April 24th at 10.00am for a day of foraging. The group will meet at Murrisk Abbey carpark, near Westport. Families are welcome…followed by a foraged picnic.

Phone Suzanne for the details 087 917 0422 or

Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine,

May 20th-22nd 2016

The excitement is building here at Ballymaloe for this year’s Litfest, it’s difficult to imagine that the line-up for 2016 could top last year’s stellar cast but go on line and check it out. Yotam Ottolenghi is coming back. Francis Mallmann who is featured on The Chefs Table is coming all the way from Argentina. The theme this year is ‘Our Food – what’s the Story’? Events over at Ballymaloe House, the Cookery School, Grain Store and the Big Shed.  Book ahead to avoid disappointment, some are already booked out but there’s still lots and lots to choose from. Condé Nast Traveller List described the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food as ‘Best Festivals around the World’.


José Pizarro’s Walnut and Orange Blossom Honey Tart


This is a perfect tart to make in advance as it lasts for 2 or 3 days easily. I always make it with orange blossom honey to give a fruity, floral flavour to the tart. You could serve it with ice cream as dessert or on its own for tea.


Serves 8–10 (makes 1 x 23cm tart)


For the pastry

175g plain flour

pinch of salt

50g icing sugar

90g chilled butter, cut into small pieces

finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 medium egg yolk

1 tablespoon cold water


For the filling

75g unsalted butter

90g light muscovado sugar

125g orange blossom honey

150ml double cream

11/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 large egg, beaten

200g walnut halves


For the pastry, sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a food processor. Add the butter and lemon zest and process briefly until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg yolk briefly with the water. Tip the crumbed mixture into a bowl, stir in the egg yolk mixture and bring the dough together into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes, then remove from the fridge and thinly roll out into a disc and use to line 23cm, loose-based tart tin with sides 2.5cm deep. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Put a baking sheet on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat it to 200°C/gas mark 6. Line the pastry case with foil and a thin layer of baking beans and bake for 15–20 minutes until the edges are biscuit coloured. Remove the foil and beans and bake for another 5–7 minutes or until the base of the case is crisp and golden brown. Remove and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/gas mark 4.

For the filling, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat. Add the sugar and honey and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved. Then raise the heat and simmer vigorously for 4 minutes. Add the cream (be careful as it will splutter a little) and boil for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Remove from the heat and leave the mixture to cool until just warm, then stir in the beaten egg.

Arrange the walnut halves over the base of the pastry case in an even layer and pour over the honey and cream mixture. Bake for 30–35 minutes until the filling is set and golden brown. Serve warm, cut into wedges.


José Pizzaro Spanish Flavours


José Pizarro’s ‘Poor man’s potatoes’ with Onions, Peppers, Garlic and Thyme

This is traditionally fried in a large pan, but I find it easier to make in a large roasting tin. It is a great side dish with any roasted or barbecued meat. And for a quick supper this is wonderful topped with a couple of fried eggs. Why called poor man’s potatoes?


Serves 4

1kg waxy potatoes, such as Desirée, peeled

2 large red peppers

2 large green peppers

3 large red onions, cut into thin wedges

6 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced

6 fresh bay leaves

leaves from 4 large thyme sprigs

6 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 230°C/gas mark 8 and bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Cut the potatoes across into 7–8mm thick slices, drop them into the water, bring of a knife. Drain well.

Halve the red and green peppers and remove and discard the stalks and seeds. Cut them into 1cm wide strips. Put them into a large roasting tin (measuring about 30 x 40cm) with the potatoes, onions, garlic, bay leaves and thyme leaves. Season with 2 teaspoons of sea salt and plenty of black pepper, pour over 4 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil and toss well together. Spread everything out in a single even layer and drizzle over the rest of the olive oil.

Roast on the top shelf of the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the tin and turn the vegetables over. Return to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and the other vegetables are tender and nicely caramelized here and there. Serve straight away.


José Pizzaro Spanish Flavours


José Pizarro’s Flan de Naranja

I remember coming home when I was a child and going to the fridge and taking out a whole flan (crème caramel) and eating it all. At home, we don’t serve them individually but as a whole. I think it is even better with the addition of orange zest and this recipe is now top of my list of desserts and that’s why I serve it in my restaurant Pizarro.


Serves 8–10

175g caster sugar, plus 75g

1 litre whole milk

finely grated zest of 8 large oranges

6 large eggs

6 large egg yolks


Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3. Place a shallow 1.5 litre oval baking dish into the oven to warm. Put 175g of the sugar into a medium pan with 100ml cold water and leave it over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat and boil rapidly until the mixture has turned into a dark amber caramel. Remove from the heat and quickly pour he caramel into the warmed dish, tilting it forwards and backwards to cover the base and 1cm up the sides in a thin, even layer. Set aside.

Put the milk, remaining sugar and orange zest into a clean pan and bring to simmering point. Remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes.

Put the eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and whisk together lightly. Strain the orange-infused milk and whisk it into the eggs. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and put it into a small roasting tin. Pour hot (but not boiling) water into the tin until it comes half way up the sides of the dish. Bake in the oven for 45–50 minutes or until the mixture has just set but still has a slight wobble in the centre. It will continue to firm up as it cools. Remove the dish from the roasting tin and leave to cool, then chill for 6 hours or overnight.

To serve, run a round-bladed knife around the edge of the dish and invert onto a serving dish. Pour over the caramel juices and serve.


José Pizarro Spanish Flavours


José Pizarro’ s Beef Chuleton with Fried Green Peppers

When I was young I would regularly make myself a dish of potatoes and green peppers fried in olive oil, topped with a fried egg, especially mid-morning after a late night out. In the north of Spain chuleton, a large beef rib chop, is often served with fried pimientos de Padrón, those fiery little green peppers from Galicia, but these can be difficult to get hold of in the UK. Long thin Turkish green peppers work particularly well in this dish, or you can use ordinary green peppers, just cut them into quarters lengthways.


Serves 2–3

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped

8 long Turkish green peppers, deseeded and cut into 1cm wide strips

leaves from a 6cm rosemary sprig, finely chopped

large fore rib of beef on the bone

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat your barbecue to high or place a ridged cast-iron griddle over a high heat. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the green peppers and fry for 12–15 minutes, turning regularly, until they are soft and nicely coloured. Add the garlic and rosemary and fry for a further 1–2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside t o keep warm.

Manwhile, rub the forerib of beef with some oil and season well all over with salt and pepper. Barbecue or griddle the beef for about 6–7 minutes on each side for medium rare, or until the centre of the meat registers 65°C on a meat thermometer. Transfer it to a board, cover with foil and leave it to rest for 5 minutes, during which time the internal temperature will rise to 70°C.

To serve, cut the meat away from the bone and then diagonally, like a steak, into slices. Serve with the fried green peppers and some patatas fritas (chips).

José Pizarro Spanish Flavours


José Pizarro’s Griddled Scallops with Cauliflower Purée and Chorizo Oil

The north-western region of Galicia is bordered on two sides by the Atlantic ocean and so it is not surprising that the cuisine of the area is greatly influenced by the sea. The Rias Bajas provide the perfect conditions for farming scallops and produce some of the highest quality scallops in the world. The scallop shell is also the symbol of the town of Santiago de Compostella, the destination of pilgrims from around the world. Every year I promise myself I will make the effort to do the walk, but, as with the London marathon, I never quite get around to doing it! This dish is not traditional in the area, and some people might think it more French than Spanish, but I love this combination of flavours – the cauliflower and the spicy chorizo go so well with the sweetness of the caramelised scallops.


Serves 4

600ml whole milk

300g cauliflower florets (about 1/2 a medium cauliflower)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

50g cooking chorizo, skinned and finely chopped

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

12 large prepared scallops

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper


Bring the milk to the boil in a large pan. Add the cauliflower florets and 1 teaspoon of salt, return to the boil and cook for 7 minutes until tender. Drain well, reserving the milk. Put the cauliflower into a food processor with 3 tablespoons of the milk and 2 teaspoons of the oil and blend to a smooth purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a small pan and set aside over a low heat to warm through.

Heat 4 teaspoons of olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped chorizo and fry it gently for 1 minute until just golden brown. Stir in the vinegar, parsley and a pinch of sea salt. Keep warm.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Rub the scallops with the remaining oil, add them to the pan and sear for 2 minutes on each side, seasoning them as they cook.

To serve, spoon some of the cauliflower purée onto 4 warmed plates and arrange the scallops alongside. Spoon over some of the chorizo oil and serve.

José Pizarro Spanish Flavours



April 16th, 2016


‘Five star Michelin and no diarrhoea’ shouts the enthusiastic tout in Jemma al Fnad square in Marrakesh trying to out-yell his competitors to entice customers to eat in his stall. Its a crazy scene, everyone seems to be leaping around trying to sell somebody something….the square is relatively quiet during the day but by sunset it springs into a frenzy of activity, snake charmers  play their tunes and wrap snakes around the necks of hapless tourists. Women grab your hand in a vice like grip to entice you to have a henna tattoo painted on. Toy sellers stuff little drums into children’s hands as though it was a gift and then demand money when you try to prize it out of the confused child’s hands. NO is a word no one appears to understand or certainly ignores with a beaming smile.

On the left of the square, a row of colourful carts sell freshly squeezed orange juice for 4 dirhams a shot, but you need to be cautious, it can be diluted with tap water which can certainly result in the aforementioned affliction.

Belly dancers gyrate to a rhythmic beat, everyone is on the make and the energy level is off the scale. Row after row of stalls sell offal and sheep’s head soup.  Harira, the thick soup which Moroccans eat at sunset to break their fast during Ramadan is another popular offering. Snail sellers pass bowls of steaming molluscs in broth  to adventurous diners, I don’t love it, I prefer my sails smothered in garlic and parsley butter in the French tradition. We eventually relented and sat at one of the oilcloth covered tables to enter into the banter, lots of little dishes of mezze arrived, aubergine purée, harissa, fresh tomato purée, Moroccan salad and a basket of the flat bread. This was followed by Moroccan fish and chips, crispy little sole, squid and chunks of an eel like fish with lots of chips. It was all perfectly edible but not exactly a gastronomic experience. I also love the spicy merquez sausages stuffed into a roll and of course, Mechoi, the meltingly tender slow cooked, milk fed lamb that’s  served on a sheet of brown paper with salt and cumin. Seek out Meschoi Alley on the east side of the medina, Here, you can also order a tangia, a earthenware pot with a stew inside. This is a fascinating tradition, which has endured over many centuries, a poor person would own just one earthenware pot, shaped a bit like a jug without a handle or spout, they would walk around the market from stall to stall, getting a few bits of veg at one, small scraps of meat at another, a glut of olive oil , a few spices many a pinch of saffron, a bit of seasoning and then the pot would be covered with greaseproof and secured with string, this was buried in the embers at the Hamman and cooked slowly to melting tenderness.

The flavour is absolutely delicious. There are few really exciting restaurants in Marrakech perhaps with the exception of Al Fassia, a restaurant run entirely by women. The food is close to home cooking where unquestionably the best food in Morocca is to be found. Absolutely everything we ate there was delicious. We were a big family group so we had the opportunity to taste many dishes on their menu, in fact our lunch was so good that I returned for dinner. The mezze of 15 little salad dishes was superb and the pigeon bistylla in flakey, home made warka was worth travelling to Marrakech specially for. There was a choice of seven tagines, some sweet and others savoury. The chicken with lemon and green olives of course, another with shallots and almonds, We also tried two sweet ones, one with caramelised onions and raisins and another lamb tagine with tomato jam. Yet another with caramelized pumpkin. There were several others, I  particularly remember a lentil tagine and a wonderful vegetarian version.  Delicious date icecream for dessert and refreshing orange slices sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar were perfect after a rich tagine or cous cous. There were also Moroccan pastries of which there is a bewildering selection, but at Al Fassia they serve just one simple biscuit, delicious to dunk in mint tea.


Moroccan Harira Soup

In Morocco this soup is served as an important part of the festivities of Ramadan. It’s the traditional soup to break the fast.  My brother Rory O’Connell shared this particularly delicious version with us and everyone loves it.

Serves 6-8


110g (4oz) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained

110g (4oz) Puy lentils

450g (1lb) leg or shoulder of lamb, diced into 7mm (1/3 inch) cubes

175g (6oz) onion, chopped

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, saffron strands and paprika

salt and freshly ground pepper

50g (2oz/1/2 stick) butter

110g (4oz) long grain rice

4 large ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) chopped fresh coriander

4 tablespoons (5 American tablespoons) chopped flat leaf parsley

lemon quarters, to serve


Tip the chickpeas and lentils into a large saucepan. Add the lamb, onion, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, saffron strands and paprika, then pour in 1.5 litres (2 1/2 pints/6 1/4 cups) water. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bring to the boil, skimming all the froth from the surface as the water begins to bubble, then stir in half the butter. Turn down the heat and simmer the soup, covered, for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until the chickpeas are tender, adding a little more water from time to time as necessary – it can take up to 900ml (1 1/2 pints/3 3/4 cups ) more water or stock, it should be soupy in texture.

Towards the end of the cooking time, prepare the rice. Bring 850ml (scant 1 1/2 pints/3 1/4 cups) water to the boil in a saucepan, sprinkle in the rice, the rest of the butter and salt to taste. Cook until the rice is tender. Drain, reserving 3 tablespoons of the liquid.

To Finish

Cook the chopped tomato in the reserved rice cooking water, seasoning it with salt, pepper and sugar. It should take about 5 minutes or until the tomato is “melted”. Add this and the drained rice to the pot and simmer for a further 5 minutes to allow the flavours to mix. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper and perhaps a pinch of salt. Add the chopped herbs, stir once or twice and serve accompanied by lemon quarters.

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Tagine of Chicken with Green Olives and Preserved Lemon

Probably the best known and best loved of all Moroccan tagines


Serves 6


1 free range and organic chicken, jointed

2 onions chopped

2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons coriander leaves

1 small cinnamon stick

½ preserved lemon, cut into dice (optional, depending on size, leave whole)

175g (6oz) green olives, rinsed and stoned

Juice of 1/2 lemon



2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Pinch of saffron strands

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cumin, toasted and ground

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Coriander leaves

Cous cous

First prepare the marinade.  Mix the garlic, saffron, ginger, cumin, paprika, salt, freshly ground pepper and the olive oil in a bowl.  Spread over the chicken, transfer the meat to a shallow dish, cover with clingfilm and leave overnight to marinate in the fridge.

Next day, transfer the chicken and the marinade to a casserole.  Add the onions, parsley, coriander and cinnamon stick and half cover with water.  Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces frequently in the liquid.  Add more water if it starts to reduce.  Cook for a further 15 minutes, partly covered, until the chicken is tender and almost falls from the bone.  Add half the preserved lemon and the olives and continue cooking for a further 5-6 minutes so the flavours combine.

Transfer the chicken pieces, lemon and olives to a serving dish and cover to keep warm.  Remove and discard the cinnamon stick.  Reduce the sauce uncovered until it is about 250ml (9fl oz).  Add the lemon juice and season to taste with more salt and freshly ground pepper.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately with lots of fresh coriander and cous cous.

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Orange Salad with Cinnamon and Orange Water Blossom

This is a classic dessert in Moroccan restaurants. The combination is a perfect palate cleanser after a rich tagine or cous cous. One could also add a few fat deglet noor dates.

Serves 6


6 large oranges

4 teaspoons orange blossom water

4-6 teaspoons caster sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon

3-4 sprigs fresh mint


Peel the oranges and remove the pith with a sharp knife. Slice the oranges across the equator, flick out the pips and arrange the rounds, slightly overlapping on a circular plate.  Dot with cinnamon and caster sugar and drizzle with orange blossom water. Chill well before serving with shredded fresh mint or mint sprigs sprinkled over the top.

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Maronchinos – Claudia Roden’s Soft Almond Cookies

Makes about 30


400 g ground almonds

125-200g superfine sugar

2 or 3 drops of almond extract

2 tablespoons rose water

2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Icing sugar to sprinkle on

Mix the almonds and sugar. Add the extract, rose water, and egg whites and work to a smooth paste with your hand. Role into walnut- sized balls, flatten them slightly, and place in little paper cases or on greaseproof or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 oven for 25 minutes. Let them cool before dusting with icing sugar.


Cork Whiskey Festival

Don’t miss the first Cork Whiskey Festival. It runs from Thursday 14th – Sunday 17th April and  will take place  in various restaurants and pubs in Cork city. There will be lots of exciting whiskey tastings and talks.  Restaurants will offer whiskey and  food pairings on their menus. for the details


West Waterford Food Festival

Date for the diary:- once again the West Waterford Festival of Food is choc a bloc with walks, talks, demos, dinners, workshops and  masterclasses from 15th-17th April  –


Wild Garlic is in full season at present, both the broad leaved ramps or ramsons, (allium ursinum) and the allium triquetrum which grow along the edges of the roads and looks like white bluebells. The flowers are delicious scattered over salads and savoury plates. The wide leaves of ramps are also delicious in salads and wild garlic pesto but this woodland plant doesn’t flower until later and has a distinctive ‘pom pom’ flower – also edible of course. Make the most of both while in season.

Student Pop-Up Dinner

April 9th, 2016

Pop Up (1 of 2)

Here at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, we run 3 Three Month Certificate Courses every year for students who want to gain the skills to earn them a living from their cooking. They come from all over the world and knuckle down for 12 weeks to learn as much as they possibly can about how food is produced and where it comes from and how to cook it simply so there’s a ‘Wow’ factor on each plate.

Apart from all that, many are united with a passion to contribute to society in a meaningful way. A few weeks ago we met Suze Gibson who has volunteered for 6 months with Seva Mandir, an inspirational NGO based in Udaipur in India who work with tribals in remote villages in Rajasthan.

Others link with charities closer to home. Recently a group of Ballymaloe Cookery School students came together to do a Pop Up dinner here at the school to raise money for the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches local children in nine local schools how to grow and cook. It was a terrific event. The students liaised with several of our senior tutors. They choose the theme, designed the poster and the menu.

The starter was Ardsallagh goat cheese with beetroot and preserved lemon dressing. Everything was done from scratch so the student grew the pea shoots in seed trays, picked the wild garlic flowers and made the carrot jelly that decorated the plate from freshly juiced carrots. Others made the natural sourdough bread and ciabatta , a three day process. Not content with that, the Jersey butter was also  home made, shaped into candles and served along with little Ballymaloe match boxes full of sea salt.

The main course of Lamb breast with Gremolata stuffing was slowly braised.  The meat then shredded, seasoned and mixed with herbs and spices to make delicious little lamb rissole. This was served with a pearl barley, celeriac puree, purple sprouting broccoli and a gratin of potatoes. The students picked the little organic leaves for the green salad. The desert was new seasons’ rhubarb compote with cardamom and vanilla ricotta served with an almond and ginger tuile.

Some of the beautiful tender ricotta was homemade from the Jersey whey from our tiny herd, but most came from Macroom Cheese.

There was a competition for the petit fours at the end.  Tiny lavender cup cakes with a secret filling, chocolate truffles with a fresh raspberry inside and sugar coated choux puffs

How could one choose? Guests enjoyed those with a cup of coffee.

Oh, and I almost forgot the aperitifs, a rhubarb and strawberry cocktail to sip with anchovy straws, home grown radishes on a crostini with olive butter and last but not least, homemade cheese crackers with a few flakes of warm smoked cod with horseradish aioli.

They didn’t catch the fish but they did hot smoke it and made the  horseradish mayo and crisped the caper to sit on top.

The gardeners provided the music and another of the students played the guitar gently in the background. A wonderfully convivial and delicious evening. We were so proud of them all as the guests polished off their plates and showered them with richly deserved compliments.

They learned how to organise and pull off on an event down to the last detail including creating the recipes and sourcing the food. The theme was Masquerade so many of the guests arrived in masks and students who didn’t have a mask made their own from foraged leaves and feathers and decorated the dining room to the carnival theme.

If you wish you’d been there, contact us at and we’ll let you know the dates of the next event. Meanwhile here are some of the delicious dishes for you to create your own. ….


Hot Tips

Have you a block about making your own pastry?

Many, seem to have a ‘block’ about making our own pastry but it’s not difficult. On Monday April 18th 2016, for 2½ days, we will unlock the mystery and teach a few simple recipes. We will focus on the classic techniques of shortcrust pastry (both sweet and savoury), choux, hot water crust and the dreaded puff. We’ll even show you how to make a ‘break all the rules’ pastry, as well as the secret of Mrs. Allen’s featherlight Ballymaloe shortcrust pastry.  Think irresistible quiches,  a meat pie to melt-in-the-mouth,  chocolate, coffee and pistachio eclairs, featherlight feuillitees, vol-au-vents, tarte tatin…… for the details


Are spices a mystery –

Fresh spices add magic to your cooking. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, star anise, cinnamon, mustard seeds, turmeric, cloves…we adore them all. Learn how to combine spices to introduce the flavours of Thailand, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Morocco…

Each spice has up to five distinctly different flavours, depending on how you use it, so we will illustrate how to choose the most fragrant spices, how to dry, roast, grind, store and flavour a tarka. Dishes will also include fresh ginger, a variety of chillies, lemongrass and fresh lime leaves, curry leaves and galangal – flavours which soon become addictive! This course will take the mystery out of spices and change your cooking forevermore.

During this two and a half day course, beginning on Wednesday April 20th 2016, you will learn an exciting repertoire of starters, main courses and delicious desserts, as well as a gorgeous spicy cake to share with friends and family. Lunch is included each day.

Paul and Georgie Keane’s Inishbeg Organic lamb is now available at Walsh Butchers on Bridge Street, Skibbereen in West Cork. Tel: 028 21201

Pop Up (2 of 2)

Lamb Breast with Gremolata, Celeriac Puree and Pearl Barley Risotto


Serves 8

2  lamb breasts

Salt and pepper


Gremolata Stuffing

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 lemon, zest and juice

Handful of parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper


Pearl Barley Risotto

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

240 g pearl barely

1 litre hot chicken stock

Handful of parsley, finely chopped


Wild Garlic Salsa Verde

50 g wild garlic leaves, chopped

2 anchovy fillets, chopped

15 g flat leaf parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Olive oil, to loosen

Salt and pepper



1 pint chicken stock

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard


Salt and pepper



Purple Sprouting Broccoli


Preheat the oven to 160°C/300°F/gas mark 2.

Season lamb breasts generously on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Lay skin side up on an oven tray. Roast for 20 minutes and reduce to 120°C/250°F/mark 2 for 1½ hours by which time lamb will be tender and much of the fat will have rendered out. Pour all the juices and fat into a pyrex bowl, save and chill. Meanwhile make the gremolata stuffing. Heat 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan and sweat the diced onion and crushed garlic until soft but not coloured, 5-6 minutes.

Add the white breadcrumbs, chopped parsley lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cool, shape into two 1 inch rolls and wrap in cling film, twist the ends. Freeze.

When lamb is cooked remove the tough outer skin and bones or cartiledge. Shred the tender meat with the forks, chop finely on a timber board. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Lay a sheet of clingfilm on the worktop, spread the seasoned lamb evenly into a rectangle – a generous ½ inch thick.

Lay the rolls of frozen gremolata down the middle and then use the clingfilm to help wrap the lamb securely around the gremolata. Twist the ends tightly. Refrigerate overnight or even 2 days ahead.

On the day make the pearl barley risotto. In a hot frying pan, toast the pearl barley, tossing regularly over a high heat for 2-3 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan, add diced onion and carrot. Sweat for 4-5 minutes over a low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add toasted pearl barley and toss to coat each grain, stirring all the time. Slowly add hot chicken stock a ladle fill at a time stirring regularly until it’s cooked – approximately 40 minutes. Taste, correct seasoning and stir in lots of chopped parsley.

Next make celeriac puree and wild garlic salsa verde.

To make the wild garlic salsa verde. Whizz all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Add oil as if for pesto to loosen. Taste and correct seasoning.

Next make gravy. Lift off the layer of fat. Put the lamb juices into a saucepan, add 1 pint of chicken stock and ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Bring to a boil.  Whisk in a tiny bit of roux. Taste and correct seasoning.


Preheat oven to 160C. Remove lamb from fridge and unwrap. Cut the roll into 1 inch sheets. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until heated through. Spoon a little of the gravy over the top.

To Plate. Cook the purple sprouting broccoli in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes. Drain.

Put a dollop of celeriac puree onto each hot plate. Smear with a spoon, a generous portion of hot pearl barely risotto at a right angle. Pop two lamb breast rissoles down the side. Lay a few pieces of purple sprouting broccoli on top. Garnish with wild garlic flowers and put a few dots of salsa verde along the side.


Celeriac and Potato Puree


Serves 8-10


Great with game, turkey, chicken, duck or guinea fowl.


2 large celeriac, 700g (1½lb) approx.

225g (8oz) potatoes

110-170g (4-6oz) butter

2 fl oz (50 ml) cream

parsley, chervil,

salt and freshly ground pepper

lemon juice to taste


Quarter, peel and cut the celeriac into 2.5cm (1inch) cubes. Cook in boiling salted water for 15 minutes approx. or until tender, drain well,

Meanwhile, scrub and boil the potatoes. Peel and put into a food processor together with the celeriac. Add the butter, chopped herbs and cream. Season with salt and freshlly ground pepper. Taste and add a few drops of lemon juice if necessary.


Radish Crostini with Black Olive Butter

Makes 40 canapé


40 tiny crostini, cut from a skinny baguette

16-20 radishes, depending on size


Olive Butter

4 ozs (110 g) butter

3 ozs (75 g) (1 oz when stoned) Kalamata olives, stoned and finely chopped

Fresh ground pepper



Flaky sea salt


First make the olive butter. Cream the butter, add the finely chopped kalamata olives. Just before serving crisp the thinly sliced bread in the oven. Spread the olive butter over each. Top with two slices of crisp radish. Garnish each with a sprig of chervil and a flake of sea salt.


Diamond Crackers with Warm Smoked Cod and a Crispy Caper

Makes 70 approximately


Ballymaloe or Sheridan’s Crackers

Warm Smoked Cod (see recipe)

Horseradish Aioli (see recipe)



First make the crackers and stamp into 2cm (1 1/2 inch) diamonds (see recipe).

Heat 1cm (1/2 inch) of oil in a small frying pan. Drain and dry the capers. Toss a few at a time in the hot oil. The capers will open out like flowers, drain on kitchen paper.


To Assemble

Just before guests arrive, arrange the crackers on a platter. Put a couple of flakes of warm smoked fish on top of each one. Garnish with a tiny blob of Horseradish Aioli and a crispy caper – so delicious.


Mustard and Horseradish Mayonnaise

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

2 teaspoons crushed garlic

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 dessertspoon (2 American teaspoons) white wine vinegar

8fl oz (225ml/1 cup) oil (sunflower or olive oil or a mixture) – We use 6fl oz (175ml/3/4 cup) sunflower oil and 2fl oz (50ml/1/4 cup) olive oil, alternatively use 7/1

2 good teaspoon chopped parsley

2 good teaspoon chopped tarragon

2 tablespoons (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) grated fresh horseradish

1 teaspoon sugar


Put the egg yolks into a bowl with the crushed garlic, mustard, salt and the white wine vinegar (keep the whites to make meringues). Put the oil into a measure. Take a whisk in one hand and the oil in the other and drip the oil onto the egg yolks, drop by drop whisking at the same time. Within a minute you will notice that the mixture is beginning to thicken. When this happens you can add the oil a little faster, but don’t get too cheeky or it will suddenly curdle because the egg yolks can only absorb the oil at a certain pace. Finally add the chopped herbs, sugar and grated horseradish, taste and season if necessary.



If the Mayonnaise curdles it will suddenly become quite thin, and if left sitting the oil will start to float to the top of the sauce. If this happens you can quite easily rectify the situation by putting another egg yolk or 1-2 tablespoons of boiling water into a clean bowl, then whisk in the curdled Mayonnaise, a half teaspoon at a time until it emulsifies again.


How to hot smoke fish

You don’t need any special equipment – even a biscuit tin will do.

Lay the fish fillets flesh side up on a tray, sprinkle the unskinned Pollock with salt as though you were seasoning generously.

Leave for at least an hour but not more than 3 hours. Dry the fillets with kitchen paper, place on a wire rack and allow to dry in a cool, airy place for 30 minutes approximately. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sawdust (we use apple wood) on the base of a rectangular biscuit tin or smoking box ( Put a wire rack into the tin and lay the fish, flesh side up on top. Put the box on a gas jet over a high heat for a minute or so until the sawdust starts to smoulder. Cover the box. Reduce the heat and smoke for 6-7 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to sit unopened for 5 minutes.

Remove from the box and serve as you like.


Beetroot in Preserved Lemon Dressing, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese Mousse and Pea Shoot with a Spiced Carrot Jelly


Serves 4

250 g fresh beetroot

100 g goat cheese

1 tablespoon cream

Fresh pea shoots


Preserved Lemon Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

A good pinch of salt

½ preserved lemon, seeds removed and rind finely chopped


Spiced Carrot Jelly, optional

4 sheets gelatine

Carrot juice

Wild garlic flowers


Day before – make the spiced carrot jelly.

Cover the beetroot in cold water and cook the beets until tender, depending on size, 40 minutes to 1½ hours. The beets are cooked when the skin rubs off easily.

Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together. Add the diced preserved lemon.

Once tender, peel beetroots and cut into bite size wedges. Toss in dressing while still warm.

Whisk the goat cheese and cream together lightly.


To serve. Put 3 wedges of beetroot and 3 teaspoon-size quenelles of goat cheese on each plate. Top with a bunch of freshly harvested peashoots and add five,  ½ cm (¼ inch) of carrot jelly around the edge of the plate. Garnish with wild garlic flowers.



Irish Food Writers Guild Awards

April 2nd, 2016

Food Awards are ‘two a penny’ these days. Some carry more cachet that others, all thrill the winners and provide much appreciated exposure.

The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards, now in their 22nd year celebrate indigenous artisan food and drinks businesses that create high quality products from our beautiful Irish raw materials.

These awards are unique. No one can enter themselves or their product into the awards and no company knows it has been nominated or shortlisted for an award. So it’s a fantastic surprise.

The Guild is the sole nominating and decision-making body.

This year was particularly noteworthy and exciting because it showcased the new energy that is emerging from the Midlands of Ireland. There were six winners including the first ever award for Irish stout. The award ceremony was hosted at Michelin starred restaurant Patrick Guilbaud in Merrion Street, Dublin. Chef Guillaume Lebrun cooked a super delicious lunch using the prize winners produce.

Mossfield Organic Farm

Wild Irish Foragers

Silver Darlings

Riot Rye Bakehouse and Bread School

White Gypsy Imperial Stout

Highbank Organic Orchards

Mossfield Organic Milk, Co Offaly. Ralph Haslam has been an organic farmer, since 1999.  His Mossfield cheese is already well known but the award this year was for Mossfield organic milk – beautiful fresh milk straight from the family herd. Ralph has been reseeding his fields at the foot of the Slieve Bloom mountains with up to two dozen grasses and herbs. The biodiversity promotes both the health of the soil and animals and produces particularly rich milk (plus yoghurt and buttermilk). Unlike much of today’s commercially produced milk Ralph’s, Mossfield milk is not standardized, skimmed or homogenised to increase shelf life or to prevent the cream from separating, it is simply pasteurised and distributed nationwide in its fresh natural state…

Sharon and Gordon Greene of Wild Irish Foragers became entrepreneurs almost by accident. While they were walking on their fifth-generation midlands cattle farm just outside Birr, their daughter Emily pointed to a rosehip in the hedgerow and asked, ‘What’s that?’ Their journey to pass on and preserve almost forgotten knowledge and skills eventually led to the family creating a unique business as producers of artisan syrups, jellies, shrubs and sauces made from hand harvested wild ingredients based on traditional recipes discovered by ‘rooting around’ in rare old cookbooks.

They plan to renovate the old farmyard mill to facilitate foraging courses and events, thus creating sustainable employment opportunities for their family, neighbours and wider community.

Another of my favourites Silver Darling Herrings.

When Kirsti O’Kelly moved to Ireland from her native, Finland in 1999,  she craved the taste of Nordic pickled herring, so decided to start to produce her own according to family recipes passed down from her grandmother. Her friends loved them so was convinced that the Irish palate was ready for her traditional pickled herrings with a contemporary twist, so Silver Darlings was born.

With the help of BIM’s Seafood Development Centre in Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Silver Darlings was launched in March 2013 with six distinct flavours to its range – seek them out they are certainly one of the best new products to come on the market in several years. Available at many of the best  Farmers Markets, for other outlets contact

This is the first time an IFWG award has gone to an Irish beer – in fact a stout, White Gypsy’s Russian Imperial Stout is produced in a traditional style in Templemore, Co Tipperary by innovative brewer, Cuilan Loughnane. He brewed this beer with a non-traditional drinker in mind to be served in restaurants, as a local alternative to imported wine. Cuilan, described as the brewer’s, brewer, with 12 years of craft brewing under his belt, ages the stout in new oak barrels built and toasted to order by a French cooper. He has actively supported newcomers to the sector, has experimented with growing Irish hops for use in occasional brews and has worked closely with Kildare-based maltsters to develop a malt to craft beer specification.

The Special Contribution to Irish Food Award went to Joe Fitzmaurice of Riot Rye, Co. Tipperary, another worthy winner.

Joe Fitzmaurice is a man on a mission to teach everyone who would like to learn how to make bread without the use of industrial additives or chemicals – or ‘real bread’, as many devotees define it. You can contact Joe and his wife and business partner, Julie Lockett,  at their Riot Rye Bakehouse & Bread School in Cloughjordan.

Three times a week Joe fires up his wood fired oven and bakes 200 organic loaves for the local community in Cloughjordan Eco-Village and neighbouring towns and villages. The couple deliberately limit their production so they can also dedicate time to education. In 2015, he became one of the founding members of the Irish Real Bread network, which seeks to support professional craft bakers. Their enthusiasm is infectious, their bread delicious, check it out

The Environmental Award went to another of my favourite and certainly most entrepreneurial food producers, Rod and Julie Calder-Potts. In 2013, they won an IFWG Food Award for their Irish Orchard Syrup, pure concentrated essence of homegrown apples from their organic orchards at Highbank Farm in Co. Kilkenny. The orchards were originally planted by Rod and Julie in 1969 to complement the former hop gardens and converted to organic production in 1994. This began the process of returning the farm to a more environmentally inclusive husbandry. Over time, they have added two small lakes, woodlands and various wildlife habitats. No chemicals are sprayed on the apples, while herbicides, chemical fertilisers and manure from animals fed on GM food are strictly avoided.

The focus at Highbank is on maximising output as well as minimising input. A variety of apples are transformed into everything from organic apple juices and ciders to a range of apple-based spirits. Even the waste by-products from the distillery are put to good use, with the acetone going to Brooklodge Hotel in Co. Wicklow to be used as organic nail varnish remover. A shining and charismatic example of the energy in the Irish food scene at present.

Twitter: @foodguild  #IFWGfoodawards


Labneh with Radishes, Mint, Highbank Apple Syrup and Olive Oil

Serves 6


350g (12oz) labneh, (dripped natural yoghurt)

6 teaspoons Highbank Apple Syrup

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

12 radishes

12 mint leaves

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Allow 50g (2oz) of labneh per person and divide between 6 chilled plates.

Make a little indent with a teaspoon in each portion of labneh and pour in the apple syrup followed by the olive oil.  Place 2 radishes on each plate beside the labneh.  Break the mint leaves over the radishes.  Place two or 3 blue cheese Sheridan’s crackers on the plates and finish off with a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Riot Rye Sourdough Avocado Toasts with Lime and Coriander


Proper natural sourdough is a revelation in terms of flavour and texture not to mention nourishment. This simple recipe is much more than the sum of its parts!


Serves 4

2 ripe Hass avocados



2 tablespoons (2 1/2 American tablespoons) freshly squeezed lime juice

6 tablespoons (7 1/2 American tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil

4 slices of sourdough, toasted or pan-grilled



Maldon sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

a few pinches of chilli flakes

fresh coriander leaves


Whisk the lime juice and extra virgin olive oil together.


Just before serving.

Toast or grill the bread.

Stone and peel the avocado and slice into chunky segments.  Place the avocado on top of the toast – allow 1/2 per person.  Drizzle with the dressing.   Sprinkle with a few chilli flakes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and a few flakes of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper.


Imperial Stout Irish Cake


The porter plumps up the fruit and gives it a very distinctive taste. If you can manage to hide it away, this cake keeps really well. Serves about 20


225g (8oz) butter

225g (8oz) golden caster sugar

300ml (1⁄2 pint) Imperial stout

zest of 1 orange

225g (8oz) sultanas

225g (8oz) raisins

110g (4oz) mixed peel

450g (1lb) white flour

1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 teaspoons mixed spice

110g (4oz) cherries, halved

3 organic eggs


23cm (9in) round tin, lined with silicone paper


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

Melt the butter, caster sugar and stout in a saucepan. Add the orange zest and the fruit and peel (except the cherries). Bring the mixture to the boil for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until it is lukewarm.

Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and mixed spice into a mixing bowl. Add the fruit mixture to the flour and add the cherries. Whisk the eggs; add them gradually, mixing evenly through the mixture.

Bake in the oven for about 1 hour and 10 minutes. If you wish, when the cake is cooked, you can pour 4 tablespoons of stout over the top.  Keep  for 2–3 days before cutting.




Serves 4


100g buckwheat groats

200g baby potatoes

200g natural yogurt, plus extra to garnish

chopped fresh chives

freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

1 shallot, finely sliced

200g Silver Darlings Irish Herring with Fennel and Tarragon

fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, to garnish


for the green leek purée:

knob of butter

2 leeks, green part only, finely sliced

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 160°C. Scatter the buckwheat on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.

To make the green leek purée, melt the butter in a small pan and sweat the leeks. Season with salt and pepper, then blend in a liquidiser until smooth. Chill in the fridge until required.

Boil the baby potatoes until they are cooked through and tender. Drain well and return briefly to the pan to dry them out, then transfer to a bowl and gently crush them. Fold in the yogurt, some chopped chives and a squeeze of lemon juice, but be careful not to overwork the potato salad.

To serve, arrange three small quenelles of the potato salad on a cold plate and add dots of the leek purée and yogurt. Place a sliver of shallot on top of each quenelle, then add a piece of herring. Garnish with a parsley leaf and the toasted buckwheat.


Recipe created by Guillaume Lebrun  for the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards


Hot Tips

Raw Milk

Many readers will know that I fought long and hard to save people’s freedom of choice to have access to raw (unpasteurised) milk should they so choose. The Department of Agriculture has recently registered a number of farms around the country to sell raw milk directly to the public. The list includes our own Ballymaloe Cookery School organic farm here in Shanagarry to which people drive 50 and 60 miles to access our very limited supply of raw milk. However the good news is Dan and Anne Ahern will now sell organic raw milk from their stall at Mahon Farmers Market on Thursday and from the Midleton Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Tel:  086 – 1659258. For other suppliers nationally, check out and (Elisabeth Ryan confirmed these two links)


Cooking for Baby: Natural and Wholesome Recipes

The last course was oversubscribed with many people asking when  the next half day course is scheduled….so on Wednesday April 6th Darina Allen will pass on the tips and advice gleaned over years of feeding children and grandchilden totally without packets, cans or jars!

You’ll soon discover that making your own, nourishing baby food is quick, easy and surprisingly good fun. Not only will it save you a small fortune but also it will be infinitely better for your baby. Also, by giving your baby lots of variety you’ll ensure that as they grow up they don’t become fussy eaters. for more info.


Pickle in Dublin

Devotees of the multi award winning chef Sunil Ghai will be delighted to know that his much anticipated new restaurant has opened on Camden Street in Dublin. It’s called Pickle – definitely a name for your  Dublin dining list.

Easter Sunday Lunch

March 26th, 2016

Well, Lent is almost over and if you are one of those virtuous souls who have been abstaining for the past seven weeks now is the time to feast and savour the rewards of your fasting. Years ago there would be a surplus of eggs particularly as this is the time the hens go into overdrive and start to lay with gay abandon. They too are super excited that the winter is almost over; Eileen has hatched out a batch of chicks in the incubator just in time to thrill our grandchildren and visiting friends of all ages. They are the most photographed fluffy little chicks. Even Julia is busy baking Easter biscuits and Pam’s making the Simnel cake, Emer has a batch of hot cross buns rising and Haulie is picking bundles of gorgeous pink Spring rhubarb.
Back to the kitchen for Easter Sunday lunch. I ordered a Spring lamb a few weeks ago; we butcher it ourselves and share it between the family. Spring lambs are born before Christmas and because they are milk fed the flesh is pale and sweet and particularly succulent. I’ve kept a couple of shoulders for family lunch on Easter Sunday. A roast leg is wonderful of course but I find the shoulder with just a little more fat even more delicious and juicy and it has the bonus of being a little less expensive than leg.
Spring lamb is so delicate that I am reluctant to add any extra flavours other than a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt and some freshly cracked pepper. Cook it slowly at 160°C rather than 180°C; the skin will caramelise gently resulting in an unforgettable lunch. I’ll serve it with an old fashioned mint sauce made with the few sprigs of new season’s mint that I’ve managed to tease out of the ground by covering it with a cloche for this exceptionally early Easter. If however you’d rather do something more adventurous particularly if you have lamb rather than spring lamb score the skin and rub in a mixture of freshly roasted cumin and flaky sea salt for a Moroccan flavour. Alternatively, a spicy harissa would also do the trick, or a ‘Baharat’ spice rub from Green Saffron ( The gutsier herbs survived our atrocious Winter very well, so if you’d rather the taste of fresh herbs, tuck some little sprigs of rosemary or thyme into the skin at regular intervals and lay a sprig underneath to perfume the gravy and the joint as it roasts.
When Easter is late, we love to accompany Spring lamb with the first of the new potatoes and spring carrots but there’s no sign of either at present, so I’ll cook some purple sprouting broccoli and Rory O’ Connell’s chard gratin and we’ll have a feast and count our blessings. We’ve got an abundance of wild garlic at present so how about Wild Garlic soup, or if you’d like to use some of your freshly laid eggs how about delicate little wild garlic custards with fingers of toast. Both can be made ahead.
For pud, I’ll definitely bake a rhubarb tart. I particularly love the traditional tart my mother always made that has become known as Cullohill Rhubarb tart made with a pastry I’ve given you the recipe for several times (appeared in the Examiner 5th March 2013)
So to ring the changes, here is a rhubarb meringue tart recipe I ate at Shaun Hill’s restaurant The Walnut Tree in Abergavenny, Wales in September 2015 last year.
Remember rhubarb is very tart so this is a time when you’ll need to be a little generous with the sugar but not too much because the meringue is also super sweet….
Happy Easter to you all.

Hot Tips
Broth is having its moment once again. It’s easy to make your own from bones and carcass. It’s a totally magical food, so full of nourishment and flavour and particularly important for those who have been laid low by a dose of flu or an interminable chesty cold. Meanwhile, seek out Rachel McCormack’s Sonny’s Broth at Mahon Point Farmers Market on Thursday from 10am-2.00pm and Douglas on Saturday mornings 10.00am-2pm. Tel: 086 821 2741
Properly delicious broths to enjoy right there or to bring home to sip by the fire. Try the Phŏ Bò, an aromatic beef bone broth with rice noodles and fresh Asian herbs or Phŏ Gà spiced chicken broth also with rice, noodles and fresh Asian herbs – soo good.

More Irresistible Cakes from Cakeface
Laura Mead and Rory Gannon met at the Ballymaloe Cookery School on a 12 week Certificate course in April 2010. They particularly love to bake and travelled together to France to work at Roger Vergé three Michelin star restaurant Moulin des Mougins in Cannes. From there it was on to the Savoy and Connaught hotels in London to hone their patisserie skills. Now they are back in Ireland and have started Cakeface Pastry in Piltown selling their super professional cakes and tarts that look as though they popped straight out of a French pastry shop window.
Tel: 086 601 7045


Slow Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Cumin Seeds

Serves 8-10 approx.

A shoulder of lamb is much trickier to carve than a leg, but the flavour is so wonderfully sweet and juicy, it’s certainly worth the struggle particularly at home where perfect slices of meat are not obligatory. I sometimes put this into the low oven of the Aga in the morning. By 7.30 in the evening, it is beautifully cooked – how easy is that!

1 shoulder of lamb 3.3 – 3.6kg(7-8lb) on the bone
2 tablespoons approx. cumin seeds
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

600ml (1 pint) homemade lamb or chicken stock
1-2 teaspoon freshly roasted amdground cumin

Roux optional (see recipe)

Warm the cumin seeds slightly on a pan, crush them in a pestle and mortar. Score the skin of the meat in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper and cumin and drizzle with olive oil, roast in a low oven 140C/275F/gas mark 1 in the usual way for 6 – 7 hours – this gives a delicious juicy succulent texture. Alternatively cook in a moderate oven 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for 3 – 3½ hours. The cumin seeds give a delicious flavour to the meat. Carve it into thick slices so that everybody gets some cumin. Serve with a light gravy to which a little freshly ground cumin has been added.

To make the gravy: Spoon the fat off the roasting tin. Add the stock into the remaining cooking juices. Boil for a few minutes, stirring and scraping the pan well, to dissolve the caramelised meat juices (I find a small whisk ideal for this). Add the freshly ground cumin. Allow to thicken with a very little roux if you like.
Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary. Strain and serve the gravy separately in a gravy boat.
Serve with crusty roast potatoes.

4 ozs (110 g/1 stick) butter
4 ozs (110 g/scant 1 cup) flour

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

Mint Sauce

Traditional mint sauce, made with tender young shoots of fresh mint, takes only minutes to make. For those who are expecting a bright green jelly, real mint sauce has a slightly dull colour and watery texture.

Makes about 175ml (6fl oz/3/4 cup)
Serves about 6

25g (1oz) fresh mint, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sugar
110ml (4fl oz1/2 cup) boiling water
25ml (1fl oz/1/8 cup) white wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put the freshly chopped mint and sugar into a sauce boat. Add the boiling water and vinegar or lemon juice. Allow to infuse for 5–10 minutes, before serving.

Gratin of Chard and Gruyére

Big and leafy, looking like an exceptionally healthy leaf of spinach and with several colourful varieties, Chard is great. The most well-known variety with its thick white stalk and glossy leaves is sometimes called Swiss chard. The colourful members of the family are the red stemmed Ruby chard and the variety known as Bright Lights or Rainbow chard which has a range of multi coloured stems varying from white, yellow and orange to pink, purple and red. Generally, unless the leaves are tiny, the stalk is removed from the leaf and cooked separately. The cooked leaves and stalks can be served together or as individual dishes. The flavour of the leaf is similar to spinach, but somewhat stronger and earthier in flavour, though the two greens are pretty much interchangeable in any recipe. I like to cut out the stalks or stems from the leaves with a sharp knife to achieve a neat finish. This is another vegetable that needs to be well cooked and there is no flavour or texture advantage to having to chew it when eating it cooked. The tiniest leaves, no more than 8cm long and including the stems, colourful or otherwise sometimes end up in the salad bowl.

This recipe combines the vegetable with gruyere in a gratin and is finished with a crisp bread topping. This dish can be prepared ahead and reheated later. It will make a delicious vegetarian supper dish or to serve with a roast shoulder of lamb or a grilled lamb chop.

Serves 4-6

3 litres (5 1/4 pints/generous 6 cups) of water
3 teaspoons of salt
2 1/4lb (1kg) chard
30g (1 1/4oz/generous 1/4 stick) butter
30g (1 1/4oz/generous 1/4 cup) flour
300ml (10fl oz/1 1/4 cups) milk
100ml (3 1/2fl oz/scant 1/2 cup) cream
160g (Gruyére cheese, coarsely grated
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) marjoram leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g (2 1/2oz) coarse bread sour dough crumbs
3 tablespoons (4 American tablespoons) olive oil

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

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt. Remove the stalks from the chard with a sharp knife. Cut the stalks against the grain in 2cm (3/4 inch) pieces. Add the stalks to the boiling water and cook at a simmer for about 6 minutes or until nearly tender. Add the leaves to the pot and cook for a further 3 minutes until the leaves and the stalks are both cooked. Strain off all of the water and allow the chard to sit in the strainer to drain off the rest of the water.

Toss the bread crumbs in the olive oil and spread out on to a baking tray and place in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until toasted and golden. The crumbs tend to cook unevenly, so you will need to move them around on the tray a couple of times during the cooking. When ready, remove from the oven and reserve for later.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the flour and stir to mix. Cook on a gentle heat for about 3 minutes to cook the flour. You have just made a roux and this mixture will thicken the sauce. Add the milk and cream and bring the mixture to a boil while whisking constantly. The sauce will by now have thickened. Turn the heat down low and allow the sauce to simmer for a further 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Add the drained chard to the sauce with 110g (4oz) of the grated gruyére and the chopped marjoram and mix gently but thoroughly. Taste again and correct seasoning.

Place the mixture in an ovenproof gratin dish and sprinkle on the remaining gruyere and finally the roasted bread crumbs.

The gratin can be put aside for later or reheated now in a moderate oven, 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for about 15 to 20 minutes until bubbling and golden. If you are reheating it from cold it will need 30 minutes.

Wild Garlic Soup with Pesto and Flowers

We use the broad leaves of ramps or ramsons for this delicious spring soup.

11/2 ozs (45g/generous 1/4 stick) butter
5 ozs (140g/1 cup) peeled and chopped potatoes
4 ozs (110g/1 cup) peeled and chopped onion
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pint (900ml/3 3/4 cups) water or home-made chicken stock or vegetable stock
1/2 pint (300ml/1 1/4 cups) creamy milk
5 ozs (150g/3 cups) chopped wild garlic leaves

Garnish: Wild garlic flowers – use the flowers of which flourish along the roadside.

Melt the butter in heavy bottomed saucepan, when it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile chop the wild garlic leaves. When the vegetables are almost soft but not coloured add the stock and milk bring to the boil and cook until the potatoes and onions are fully cooked. Add the wild garlic and boil with the lid off for 3-4 minutes approx. until the wild garlic is cooked. Do not overcook or the soup will lose its fresh green colour. Puree the soup in a liquidiser or food processor. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve sprinkled with a few wild garlic flowers.


Rhubarb Meringue Tart

A lovely seasonal recipe from Shaun Hill who now has a restaurant called The Walnut Tree in Monmouthshire, Wales.

Serves 4

300g (11 oz) sweet shortcrust pastry

1 kg (2¼ lb) rhubarb, cut into 3cm lengths
3 egg yolks
120g (4 oz) sugar
2 tbsp. plain flour
3 egg whites
3 generous tablespoons caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6

Line a 26cm pastry case – preferably with a pop up base – with sweet pastry and bake blind.
The rhubarb goes in next. Then mix together the egg yolks, sugar and flour and spread this over the rhubarb.
Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes; this will start the rhubarb cooking.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until stiff. As they stiffen, trickle in the caster sugar.
Take the tart from the oven and spread the meringue on top.
Reduce the heat to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 and return the tart to the oven. Bake for a further 25 minutes.

Note: The egg whites must be completely free of imperfections – including yolk – if they are to be successfully whisked. The bowl used must be dry and clean also. Don’t add sugar too early; the whites should already form peaks before you start.


March 19th, 2016

Tamil Nadu in South India particularly the Chettinad area is a ‘road much less travelled’ than many of the trendier tourist destinations like Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala but intriguing, particularly for those who have a penchant for temples, architecture and of course food. I’m interested in all three but I have to say one can easily get ‘templed out’ in many parts of India.  Chettinad is particularly fascinating from the architecture perspective.

In the 1990’s,  pioneering lady Meenakshi Meyyappan from one of the most prominent Chettinar family was the first person to open one of her houses as a delightful heritage hotel. Just 4 simple rooms at first and a welcome as though one was a guest of the family. She served the fresh food of the Chettinad homes where everything was not just prepared and cooked ‘from scratch’ but grown in the gardens or produced on the family farm.

Since my last visit in 2011 the Bangala has expanded to 21 rooms, there’s a swimming pool and a cookery school where Meenaskshi chefs can pass on the secrets of the much requested Bangala recipes.  Freshly squeezed juices, watermelon or pineapple or dosa or breakfast with idli and sambar, rice…if that all seems too challenging there were of course masala omelettes and pancakes but for me lunch was the most exacting meal of the day, a wide variety of dishes served on a  banana leaf in the traditional way. Rice of course, then both a fish and meat dish, several vegetarian curry and stews fritters, a raita, several chutneys and a poppadums. The selection was different every day, cutlery is provided but one is encouraged to eat with one’s hands in the elegant Indian way. Dinner is a multi-ethnic affair with a mixture of Asian and Anglo Indian dishes but I don’t go to India for bread and butter pudding or crème caramel, no matter how delicious…..

The Bangala is heart of Karaikudi so one can comfortably wander around the colourful vegetable and fruit market and bazaar and the antique area, best in the early morning or evening when the temperature has dropped to the mid-twenties. The hardware and household utensil shops are also intriguing and I love the simple little tea shops where people congregate in the evenings to have a glass of a chai and a snack. I had some delicious plantain fritters  cooked in a lentil batter with a fresh coconut chutney served a square of banana leaf – for just 50 rupees.

Not everyone’s idea of ‘chilling out’ but I love to attend cooking classes when I’m on holidays to vamp up on the local food culture and ingredients and learn a few new dishes to pass on to my readers and students.

Here’s some of what I learned from Karuppiali, Chef at The Bangala, the ingredients are easy to find and techniques familiar to those who have already discovered the magic of spices.


Hot Tips

Green Saffron Pops Up in Paris

Arun Kapil from Green Saffron in Midleton is hosting a three week Green Saffron Pop UP in Paris from April 26th to May 14th 2016 in Alcazar restaurant in St Germain des Près.. Arun has created a spicy menu to entice the French people to enjoy spicier food and drinks.

Tel:  021 463 7960 or


Don’t forget to place an order for Spring Lamb from your butcher for Easter Sunday lunch – it’s a special treat so not available everywhere


Check out the Examiner website for the Ballymaloe Hot Cross Bun recipe


Date for the Diary

Pop-Ups Everywhere!

Michelle Darmody from The Cake Café in Dublin is hosting a Pop Up Café in The Projects Arts Centre in Temple Bar in Dublin in an effort to highlight the fact that asylum seekers living in direct provision are not able to cook for themselves. Don’t miss the two day Pop Up restaurant, on 5th and 6th April 2016 from 12pm-3pm where the menu will be devised and cooked by those in direct provision. Proceeds will go to the Refugee Council of Ireland

Tickets €15.00. Booking Essential. Phone Michelle Darmody 087 938 4455 for more details.

Good Things Cafe

Carmel Somers’s many fans will be delighted to hear that Good Things at Dillon’s Corner in Skibbereen is now up and running. Carmel is a beautiful cook who uses fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients to create delicious food for her growing number of devotees. For reservations Tel: 028 51948 or



Potato Karuvattu Poriyal

Don’t let this unprouncable title or long list of ingredients put you off trying this recipe – it was totally delicious.

Serves 4


Wet Paste

1½ teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 fresh green chillies

⅓ cup grated coconut

400 g (14 oz) potatoes, peeled, cut into wedges like potato chips

2 teaspoons salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon urad dal, hulled split

½ teaspoon fennel seeds

50g (4 oz) onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon garlic paste

½ heaping teaspoon ginger paste

10 curry leaves

1½ teaspoons red chilli powder, mild

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped


Grind cumin seeds, fennel seeds, green chillies and coconut in a blender with some water to make a wet paste. Set aside.

Pour enough water into a saucepan to cover the potatoes and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Slide in the potatoes and 2 teaspoons of salt. Let them boil, covered, till fork tender, 7-10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Add oil to a wok over a medium –high heat. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, slide in the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the urad dal and stir. Add the fennel seeds and onion, and sauté for 1 minute.

Add garlic and ginger followed by curry leaves, chilli powder and turmeric. Stir before adding the reserved wet paste. Continue to stir constantly.

When the oil has separated from the masala and the mixtures looks cooked, sprinkle with salt and then add the drained pototaes, mixing well. Sauté for 2-4 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the carmaelized bits of masala. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves.


From The Bangala Table Flavours and Recipes from Chettinad, Sumeet Nair, Meenakshi Meyyappan with Jill Donenfeld


Brussel Sprouts Masala Poriyal

Most of our international guests at The Bangala enjoy this masala poriyal. They are familiar with Brussel sprouts and like the masala presentation.


250 g (9 oz) brussel sprouts, cut in quarters if large

½ teaspoon salt

50 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) vegetable oil

100g (3½ oz) onion, peeled and finely chopped

½ teaspoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon garlic paste

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

2 teaspoons red chilli powder, mild preferably made from goondu milagai

½ cup fresh tomato puree

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, chopped


Pour 2 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Slide in the brussel sprouts and ½ teaspoon salt and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, till tender. Drain in a colander and set aside.

Add oil to a large wok over a high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, slide in the onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Follow by adding the ginger and garlic paste, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir once and add tomato puree and ½ teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, reducing the heat to low, stirring and scraping to ensure that nothing sticks to the bottom.

When the oil separates from the masala, add the drained Brussel sprouts to incorporate. Stir for 1-2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the wok. Remove from the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.


The Bangala Table Flavours and Recipes from Chettinad, Sumeet Nair, Meenakshi Neyyappan with Jill Donenfeld


Raisin and Cashew Nut Pulao

An aromatic pulao with flavours of whole spices, dry fruit and coconut milk. This is serves as‘main rice’ for dinner at The Bangala. Cooking the rice in coconut milk instead of just water adds depth and a lovely, flavourful creaminess to this dish.

Serves 4


300 g (11 oz/1½ cups) basmati rice

125 ml (4 fl oz/ ½ cup) vegetable oil

3 green cardamom pods

Once 3- inch piece cinnamon, broken in half

13 cloves

3 fresh green chillies slit at the base

60 g (2½ oz) onion, peeled and finely chopped

10 unsalted cashew nuts, broken

1½ tablespoons raisins

1½ teaspoons sea salt or to taste

350 ml (12 fl oz/1½ cups) thin coconut milk

¾ cup thick coconut milk


Place rice in a bowl and wash under running water, gently stirring and mixing the rice with your hands, draining each time the bowl fills up. Do this 2 or 3 times, till the water runs clear; then let soak in fresh water, covered for at least 30 minutes. Drain.

Pour oil into a large saucepan over high heat. When hot, add cardamom and cinnamon. Once the cardamoms have plumped up nicely, about 30 seconds add cloves and green chillies and stir. Next, slide onion into the pan and sauté till translucent, about 1 minute, before adding the cashew nuts and raisins.

Pour in 1½ cups water, salt and the thin coconut milk, mix to incorporate and cover to let simmer for 2 minutes before turning the heat to high. Add rice, stir and wait for it to come to the boil before reducing the heat. Let it cook, covered for about 10 minutes before adding the thick coconut milk. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked and liquid is absorbed. Grains should be separate and not too soft. Check seasoning. serve hot.


The Bangala Table Flavours and Recipes from Chettinad, Sumeet Nair, Meenakshi Neyyappan with Jill Donenfeld