ArchiveMarch 2001

St Patrick’s Day in The Big Apple

I’ve just stepped off a plane from New York armed with a bright green bagel to give my cookery students a real taste of St Patrick’s Day in The Big Apple. The purpose of this trip was, as ever was to promote Ireland and all things Irish and to dispel the myth once and for all, that we live solely on Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Stew. Not only that, but I like to spread the word about the exciting renaissance that is taking place on the Irish food scene, the quality of our produce, our meat fed on the lush green pastures, the fish from around our coast, the farmhouse cheese industry, and the emergence of a whole new generation of small artisanal food producers. I sing the praises of the creative cooks and chefs who at last realise the quality of our raw materials and reassure visitors that its no longer a case of coming to Ireland just for the scenery and friendly people, now they can taste delicious food also. This has been my message on many TV and chat shows for 10 or 12 years now. The message was gradually getting through but this year was quite a challenge. Its less than a year since I was last in New York, in that short time BSE and FMD have caused a sea change in the American perception of European food. Hitherto, we as Europeans were inclined to be sniffly about American food – all that fast food, hamburgers, bagels, diet sodas …. Europeans were not about to accept US beef with its supplements and growth promoters, causing a furore with the World Trade Organisation. Nor surprisingly, Foot and Mouth Disease, hot on the heels of BSE, has sent tremors of panic through Americans planning to travel to Europe. Every news bulletin over St Patricks’s weekend gave graphic description of the slaughter of animals in Britain , alongside the news that the parade in Dublin has been cancelled as a precautionary measure to keep Foot and Mouth at bay. Somehow the message got garbled in most peoples’ minds. Everyone I spoke to seems convinced that Ireland too was rife with Hoof and Mouth as they call it. I had several extraordinary conversations with well educated Americans which illustrate the confusion. On Wednesday I told the chef in the Sky Club in Manhattan how much I enjoyed the Liver with glazed onions and mash that he had cooked for me – I remarked that I hadn’t eaten liver for ages and had almost forgotten how delicious it was. He astonished me by saying in all seriousness – “Oh yes of course you can’t eat liver or meat in Ireland or Europe with BSE and Food and Mouth” – I was shocked and tried to set him straight but he was still sceptical. Next day I was chatting to the make-up girl at NBC as I waited to go on the Today Show, she confided that she was leaving New York soon to move with her boyfriend to London, “What fun, London’s a fantastic buzzy city – you’ll love it” I enthused – she seemed extraordinarily glum about the whole idea – When I inquired why she wasn’t thrilled, she told me in a deadly serious tone of voice, that she was really concerned that she was really interested in healthy food and what she “put into her body, ” consequently she was hugely concerned that she wouldn’t be able to find safe healthy food in the UK! I did my best to reassure her as I was called into the studio for my precious five minute segment, during which I had to make a Beef and Guinness Stew. I was so determined to tell all of America that there were no cases of Hoof and Mouth in Ireland (The Today Show has an estimated 4 million viewers and is shown right across the time zones.), that I forgot to add the mushrooms to the stew! Later that day I had lunch with Zanne Stewart, food editor of Gourmet magazine, the largest selling food and travel magazine in the US. She confirmed that the general perception was that it was no longer safe to eat European meat, worse still, an astonishing number of Americans believe that Ireland and Britain are all one place anyway. Don’t underestimate the impact this perception will have on our tourist industry, particularly now that Foot and Mouth has arrived in Ireland.

Irish Colcannon Soup

Serves 6
Colcannon is one of Irelands best loved traditional potato dishes. Fluffy mashed potato flecked with cooked cabbage or kale. This soup uses identical ingredients to make a delicious soup

55g (2oz) butter
425g (15oz) peeled diced potatoes
110g (4oz) diced onions
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1.1 litre (2pint) home-made chicken stock or vegetable stock
450g (1lb) cabbage
25g (1oz) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
130ml (4 fl oz) creamy milk

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them in the butter until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, add the stock and cook until the vegetables are soft.
Meanwhile make the buttered cabbage Remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Divide into four, cut out the stalks and then cut into fine shreds across the grain. Put 2-3 tablespoons of water into a wide saucepan with the butter and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, add the cabbage and toss constantly over a high heat, then cover for a few minutes. Toss again and add some more salt, freshly ground pepper and a knob of butter.
Add the cabbage to the soup, puree in a blender or food processor with the freshly chopped herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning. Thin with creamy milk to the required consistency.


Beef with Beamish, Murphy or Guinness

This was a big hit with the crew of the Today Show
Serves 6-8
2 lbs (900g) lean stewing beef, eg. Chuck
seasoned flour
3 tablespoons (45ml /4 American tablespoons) olive oil
2 thinly sliced onions
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) sugar
1 teaspoon dry English Mustard
1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon+ 1 teaspoon) concentrated tomato puree
1 strip of dried orange peel
a bouquet garni made up of 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 4 parsley stalks.
1/2 pint (300ml/11/4 cups) Beamish, Murphy or Guinness
1/2 pint (300ml/11/4 cups) beef stock
8 ozs (225g/4 cups) mushrooms
1/2 oz (15g/one-eighth stick) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

Cut the meat into 11/2 inch (4cm) cubes and toss in seasoned flour. Heat some oil in a hot pan and fry the meat in batches until it is brown on all sides. Transfer the meat into a casserole and add a little more oil to the pan. Fry the thinly-sliced onions until nicely browned ; deglaze with the stout. Transfer to the casserole, add the stock, sugar, mustard, tomato puree, orange rind and bouquet garni. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer in a very low heat, 150C/300f/ regulo 2, for 2-21/2 hours or until the meat is tender. Meanwhile wash and slice the mushrooms. Saute in a very little melted butter in a hot pan. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside. When the stew is cooked, add the mushrooms and simmer for 2-3 minutes, taste and correct the seasoning. Serve sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Note: This stew reheats well. You may need to add more sugar to the recipe if you find it a little bitter.

A Taste of the Ukraine

A few weeks ago an executive from the Farm Apprenticeship Board telephoned to ask whether we would have a place for a young Ukrainian girl to get work experience on the farm. She had been working on a dairy farm in the Midlands since her arrival in Ireland in November, milking 80 cows and was ready for a change of scene.

We arranged to meet, we chatted about the Ukraine, and her family. Her grandmother had a farm, but Elena herself had studied economics at the Agroecological University of Ukraine and is highly educated and eager to travel and improve her languages.
The Farm Apprenticeship Scheme gives her and many others like her this opportunity. When they come to Ireland, some get a warm welcome and are treated with respect and given comfortable accommodation and delicious food. Others are not so fortunate.
Elena loves working on the farm and in the gardens and loves the food. Nonetheless, like so many travellers she misses the food of her native country. For so many of us foods are inextricably linked with happy memories of childhood.
I’m always fascinated to learn about other food cultures. Elena described the food of her region Ukraine, and then offered to cook some of her favourite dishes for us.
She telephoned her mother and grandmother who really entered into the spirit, and not only gave her lots of advice but sent a huge tin of caviar for our aperitif, it was delicious. We were spreading it sparingly on some thinly sliced white bread, but Elena said ‘nonsense, we spread it like butter at home’. We invited some friends to join us and Elena cooked this delicious meal for us.


We started with Green Borshch Soup. This is usually served with Black Bread which is made from Rye and Wheat flour.

Green Borshch

300g (11 ozs approx.) beef (brisket, chuck, stewing steak or shin)
2 onions
1 large carrot
2 large potatoes
3 tablesp rice
2 eggs
3 tablesp. fresh chives
bunch parsley
big bunch of sorrel
5 tablesp. lettuce
4 peppercorns
3 tablesp. butter or vegetable oil

Boil the beef for about 1½-2 hours in 2 litres of water (about 3½ pints), skimming as necessary. Cut into neat chunks.
Meanwhile cut the onions into small pieces, put into a frying pan and fry for 2 minutes, add grated carrot and 5 tablesp. water from the boiling beef, stew for about 3-4 minutes and leave to stand.
Add chopped potatoes, rice and peppercorns, to the pot with the meat. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, then add the stewed onion and carrot mixture.
Add chopped chives, sorrel and lettuce and boil for one minute. Boil the eggs separately for 6 minutes, shell and chop into small pieces. Add to the cooked Borshch. Add salt to taste but be careful because sorrel is very sour. Do not serve the soup immediately, leave to stand for about 15 minutes, to allow all the ingredients absorb the stock.
Swirl a tablespoon of sour or double cream in each soup plate. Serve with Black Bread .


Olivier Salad

Olivier was a French chef who in the 1880’s opened a restaurant in Moscow called the Hermitage.
1 large smoked sausage
5 medium sized potatoes
1 large carrot
3 eggs, hard-boiled
1 apple (use a tart eating apple like a Granny Smith)
1 large tin of peas, drained
1 jar of pickled gherkins
For Dressing:
6 tablespoons mayonnaise

Boil the potatoes, peel when cooked. Cook the carrot and skin lightly when cooked.
Cut both into bite-sized cubes when cooled. Cut the sausage into similar sized cubes. Roughly chop the hard-boiled egg. Cut gherkin and apple into cubes also. Reserve a little of the chopped egg and gherkin for garnish. Mix all of these ingredients together and then add the peas. Finally add the mayonnaise and salt to taste.
Serve the Olivier Salad on a large plate, smoothing the sides with a knife and decorate with hard-boiled egg and gherkin.



These are tasty stuffed cabbage rolls.
Choose a large head of fresh Dutch or Savoy cabbage
500g (1lb approx.) beef or pork mince (not lamb)
90g (3oz) rice (uncooked weight)
1-2 tablesp. fresh or 1-2 teasp. dried herbs
salt and fine black pepper
400ml (14 fl.ozs) fresh cream
100ml (4 fl.ozs) tomato ketchup
Put the whole cabbage into well-salted boiling water for 3 minutes, leave it in the water for 15 minutes, then it will be more pliable. Remove from the water and gently separate the leaves.
Cook the rice in boiling water until almost cooked but not soft. Combine the minced meat, cooked rice and herbs, add salt and fine black pepper. Roll pieces of the mixture in the flat cabbage leaves tightly like a sausage, the leaf should be big enough to allow several turns. Place the rolls in an ovenproof dish.
Make the sauce by mixing the cream and tomato ketchup.
Cover the cabbage rolls with the sauce, they need to be fully covered with the liquid, if more is needed add some water. Cook in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes.


Fillet with Beetroot

500g (1lb approx.) fillet of beef or pork (not lamb)
2 onions
2 large beetroot
200g (7oz) cheddar cheese

Cut the fillet into flat pieces, not too thinly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Cut the raw beetroot into circles. Chop the onions. Place the circles of beetroot on a single layer in an ovenproof dish. Top with the pieces of meat, then the chopped onions. Cover with mayonnaise and grated cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 160C/325F/regulo 3.



This is a honey and poppy seed pudding.
400 ml measure of self-raising flour
4 tablesp. milk
1 egg
1 tablesp. honey
1 tablesp. poppy seeds
1 tablesp. melted butter
8 tablesp. poppy seeds (or more according to taste)
5 tablesp. honey
400ml (14 fl.ozs) warm milk

Beat the egg with the tablespoon of honey, add the flour, milk, poppy seeds and melted butter to make a soft dough. Roll out to 1-2cm thick using a little flour to prevent sticking.
Put on a greased baking sheet, prick with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C/350F/regulo 4.
When cool enough to handle break into smallish pieces.
Meanwhile put the warm milk in a deep bowl and mix in the honey. Break up the poppy seeds in a coffee grinder and add to the bowl. Add more honey or some sugar if you would like it sweeter.
Add the broken pieces of Schyliki and leave to soften for 15 minutes before serving in individual bowls as a pudding.

The Spicy Smell of India

For years I’ve longed to go to India, even the dire warnings of my friends and graphic descriptions of the misery of Delhi belly didn’t dampen my enthusiasm. Nonetheless it was with a certain trepidation that I recently embarked on a 10 day culinary tour of South India , Mumbai, Goa and Kerala.  Surprise, surprise, even though we ate for Ireland we didn’t have the slightest twinge of gippy tummy. Even more remarkable, no one of the entire group of 20 people was ill, although we ate food everywhere from street stalls, to local restaurants, plantation houses, to palatial hotels.  Even as we landed early in the morning at Mumbai Airport, we were aware of the characteristic spicy smell of India. The airport was a heaving mass of people, terrifying when one is bleary eyed after a long haul flight.  Fortunately we were rescued by the staff of the lovely Leela Kempinsky Hotel who came especially to meet us. The hotel is just five minutes from the airport and even at 4am we were warmly greeted with the traditional Indian welcome. Beautiful girls in saris put the bindi on our foreheads and slipped garlands of French marigolds and jasmine flowers over our weary heads – so beautiful we felt instantly revived.  After we had grabbed just a few hours sleep we donned our runners, joined our group and started to explore. Mumbai, the economic powerhouse of India, is an exhilarating city, home to approx. 18 million people, and the industrial hub of everything from textiles to petro-chemicals.  A city of extreme contrasts, from the glamour of the Bollywood film industry (the largest in the world) and cricket on the maidens at weekends, sacred cows wandering the streets, to Asia’s largest slums. Its relative prosperity has made it a magnet for India’s rural poor. Like many Asian cities it is fuelled by an amazing entrepreneurial energy at all levels.  The poor , of which there are millions, are endlessly creative in their pursuit of a livelihood or even mere existence. The culture shock is extreme and difficult for even seasoned travellers to cope with.  One of the most fascinating sights we saw on the first morning, was the Djobi Ghat, a unique and colourful laundry where men do all the washing in sinks and tubs in the open air, the clothes emerge miraculously clean and are delivered starched and ironed all over the city. One of the great landmarks, The Gateway of India, a honey coloured basalt arch of triumph, was originally built to commemorate the visit of George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Ironically it was from there that the last British regiment departed in 1948.  Nowadays, even though it has become a tourist spot, it is still a favourite meeting place for locals in the evening. Pedlars, snake charmers and balloon sellers all give it the excitement of a bazaar. You must see the Fort Area where most of the city’s impresive colonial buildings are situated and the Victoria Terminus where carvings of peacocks, gargoyles, monkeys, elephants and lions are perched among the turrets, buttresses, spires and stained glass windows.  There are wonderful views of the city and Arabian Sea from Malibar Hill.  Try to get to Mani Bhavan, a small museum dedicated to the life and works of Mahatma Ghandi, and if time allows the Prince of Wales museum to see the extensive collection of fascinating 18 & 19 Century miniature paintings, elegantly carved ivory artworks and a rich and gorgeous collection of Nepalese and Tibetan art.  But we were on a culinary tour so apart from all these delights the main focus was the food. Mumbai, meaning ‘good bay’ as Bombay is now called, has apparently the best selection of restaurants of any Indian city. The amazing variety of food reflects all Indian creeds and cultures and gives an insight into the history of the metropolis: Parsi Dhansak, Muslim kebabs, Mangalorean seafood, Gujarati thalis and of course Mombai’s great speciality the bhelpari. For that, go along to Chowpatty beach in the evening when darkness blots out the ugly surroundings and the grim waters of Back Bay.  The locals come with their kids to enjoy the amusements in the cool evening breeze. When we tumbled out of our bus at about 9 pm, the beach was throbbing with excitement, merry- go- rounds, monkey trainers, paan wallahs, mystics, card players, philosophers, con artists, boat trips, pony rides, … Several people were having vigorous massages on the beach.  There was row after row of food stalls with braziers and huge iron wok like pans and griddles selling Indian snacks, samosas, spicy potato cakes and the famous bhelpuri – delicious snacks of crisp noodles, puffed rice, spiced vegetables, crushed puri, chutney and chillies. Here too you can find some of the best kulfi in Mumbai. The best seafood we ate was at a city centre restaurant called Ttishna, next to the Commerce House in the Fort area. The food is a fusion of South Indian and Mangalore, a delicious fish called pumphry from the Indian Ocean, marinated in turmeric and lime and seasoned with freshly crushed black pepper and cooked in the tandoor oven. The steamed King crab served with melted butter was the most divine and succulent we ever tasted. Huge spicy prawns and Surmai tilski were also superb.  After lunch we explored the colourful indoor Crawford market, Bas reliefs by Rudyard Kipling’s father Lockwood Kipling adorn the Norman Gothic exterior and an ornate fountain he designed still stands, surrounded by old fruit boxes in the centre of the market. The animal market at the rear sells everything from dogs to cockatoos. The meat market is certainly not for the faint-hearted and would cause our environmental health officers to have apoplexy. Perhaps we should study this as many Indians certainly have antibodies and an immune system the envy of Europeans and Americans whose systems have recently been dumbed down by lack of challenge from bacteria now that so much food has been rendered almost sterile by processing.  Having said that, about 70% of Indians are vegetarians. Meat, when it is eaten is often cooked within hours of being killed, with a judicious mixture of spices, many of which have antiseptic qualities. It certainly didn’t deter me from trying everything that was put before me – some of the most exciting flavours I’ve ever tasted.

Indian Spiced Vegetable Pakoras with Mango Relish

Serves 4-6

1 thin aubergine cut into * inch (5mm) slices
1 teasp. salt
2 medium courgettes, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) slices, if they are very large cut into quarters
12 cauliflower florets
6 large mushrooms, cut in half
6 ozs (170g/1*) cups Chick pea or all-purpose flour
1 tablesp. (1 American tablesp. + 1 teasp.) chopped fresh coriander
1 scant teasp. salt
2 teasp. curry powder
1 tablesp. (1 American tablesp. + 1 teasp.) olive oil
1 tablesp. (1 American tablesp. + 1 teasp.) freshly squeezed lemon juice
6-8 fl ozs (175-250ml/*-1 cup) iced water
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Garnish: Lemon wedges and coriander or parsley

Put the aubergine slices into a colander, sprinkle with the salt, and let drain while preparing the other vegetables.  Blanch the courgettes and cauliflower florets separately in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, and dry well. Rinse the aubergine slices and pat dry.  Put the flour, coriander, salt and curry powder into a large bowl.  Gradually whisk in the oil, lemon juice and water until the batter is the consistency of thick cream.  Heat good quality oil to 180C in a deep fry. Lightly whisk the batter and dip the vegetables in batches of 5 or 6, slip them carefully into the hot oil. Fry the pakoras for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning them with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a moderate oven (uncovered) while you cook the remainder. Allow the oil to come back to 180C between batches. When all the vegetable fritters are ready, garnish with lemon wedges and fresh or deep fried coriander or parsley. Serve at once with Mango relish.


Mango Relish

2 fl ozs (50ml/* cup) medium sherry
2 fl ozs (50ml/* cup) water
2 fl ozs (50ml/* cup) white wine vinegar
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) sugar
cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1 teasp. salt
Pinch of ground mace
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablesp. (1 American tablesp. + 1 teasp.) lemon juice

Put the sherry, water, vinegar, sugar, cinnamon, star anise, salt and mace into a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the mango, pepper, and lemon juice, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Spoon into a screw top jar and refrigerate until required.


Tea Garden in Kerela

Can you believe it, we’re in a tea garden in Kerela, one of the most beautiful parts of South India – even more amazing – the plantation is called the Connemara Tea Company. Later I inquired from the manager of the plant Mr.Navaraj, if there was an Irish connection, he looked blankly and asked politely, where is Ireland? He pointed to the portraits on the wall, the last three generations of the family who owned the plantations – obviously Indian – I tried a few more questions but am still none the wiser. Nonetheless we managed to get access to the tea processing plant, something our guide couldn’t guarantee because of an element of secrecy around the method of production. The Connemara Tea is CTC which stands for Cut, Tear and Curl, exactly the process used for Barry’s Tea which we all know and love.  The tea bushes need direct sunlight and grow in tropical areas on the rolling hills. Teas grown at the highest altitudes, for example, mature slowly and have a lower yield, resulting in higher quality. In fact the best tea comes from North India – Darjeeling and Assam.  Tea grows on Camellia Sinensis which if left to mature can reach a height of 25 feet, but for tea production they are pruned to a height of about 21/2-3 feet, and after four years of constant picking they are kept manicured to the right height. – they continue to be productive for about 60 years.  Silver oak grow in lines through the tea gardens, this soft wood tree acts as a windbreak and absorbs moisture which helps to produce a better flavoured tea with a desirable crispness. The silver oak wood is used to make tea chests and for firewood to process the tea and to introduce a smoky flavour in varieties like Lapsang Souchong. Women in bright colourful clothes pick tea leaves at incredible speed, nipping off two tender leaves and one bud, they flick them into a little basket and then into a pannier on their backs. The way in which tea is harvested, dried and processed will affect the flavour of the brew – Indian tea tastes quite different to that from China or Ceylon, and teas from Assam in Northern India differ in flavour to those from Nilgiri in the south.  They harvest every 10 days for 10 months of the year. First the freshly picked leaves are put into long troughs for withering, cold air is blown through, this concentrates the cell sap, a chemical change takes place, and 20% of the moisture is removed. This process lasts for about a day and then the leaves are put into a hopper and a pre-conditioning machine which first crushes, then tears and finally curls the leaves. The sap is exposed to the air, the tea is then put into a fermenting drum for oxidation which causes the chemical polyphenynol to form and finally theoflavin which adds briskness to the liquor.  The Manager, Mr Navaraj explained that if fermentation is prolonged another chemical called theurubigin is formed which gives a good rich colour to the tea.  After 45 minutes to 1 hour, fermentation is arrested and the tea is put into a drying machine at 50C – the enzymes are killed – fermentation ceases. Finally the tea is put into a roaster or dryer for about 10 minutes and that ends the process. Most of the tea produced by the Connemara Tea Company was for home consumption but I bought a few packets to taste from the little shop by the entrance. Across the road, little stalls served hot sweet tea with milk for just a few rupees but the ironic thing was that when we asked for tea in the hotels where we stayed we were offered Tetleys’ Tea Bags – is it a case of ‘the faraway hills are green’! Locals clustered round and stared at us as we drank our tea at the stall, the children came running up to ask for ‘one peno’. Everywhere one goes in India the children look for pens as souvenirs, so if you plan a trip to this fascinating country, collect up all those stray biros and pencils from around the house, so you can enjoy the yelps of delight and huge smiles when you present them with a pen.

Lana Pringle’s Barm Brack

Lana Pringle from Shanagarry makes this moist fruity tea brack, it keeps wonderfully well in a tin and is traditionally served sliced and buttered.

14 ozs (400g/generous 2 cups) dried fruit, raisins and sultanas

2 ozs (55g/generous * cup) cherries

2 ozs (55g) chopped candied peel – see recipe

4 ozs (110g/generous * cup) soft brown sugar

4 ozs (110g/generous * cup) granulated sugar

15 fl. ozs (450ml/generous 1* cups) tea

14 ozs (400g/scant 3 cups) plain white flour

* teaspoon of baking powder

1 egg

3 tins 4 x 6* x 3 inches deep (10 x 15 x 7.5cm deep)

or 2 tins 5 x 8 x 2* inches deep ((25.5 x 38 x 6.5cm deep)

Put raisins and sultanas into a bowl, cover with tea (Lana occasionally uses a mixture of Indian and Lapsang Souchong, but any good strong tea will do) and leave overnight to allow the fruit to plump up. Next day add the halved cherries, chopped candied peel, sugar and egg and mix well. Sieve the flour and baking powder and stir in thoroughly. The mixture should be softish, add a little more tea if necessary (2 fl.ozs/50ml/* cup). Grease the tins with melted butter (Lana uses old tins, heavier gauge than are available nowadays, light modern tins may need to be lined with silicone paper for extra protection.) Divide the mixture between the three tins and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 40 minutes approx. Lana bakes her barmbracks in the Aga, after 40 minutes she turns the tins around and gives them a further 10 minutes approx.* Leave in the tins for about 10 minutes and then remove and cool on a wire rack. *If you are using two tins the barmbracks will take 1 hour approx.


Jasmine Tea and Lemon Parfait

Rory O’Connell makes this delicate parfait with Jasmine Tea at Ballymaloe House

Serves 10

150 g/5 ozs/3/4 cup sugar

100 ml/31/2 fl ozs water

1 tablespoon (1 American + 1 teaspoon) Jasmine tea leaves

6 egg yolks

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) lemon juice

450 ml/15 fl ozs whipping cream, whipped until thick

Grated zest of 1 lemon


Serve with a fruit salad using some exotic fruits.

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the tea leaves and stir, then cover and remove from the heat. Leave to marinade for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve into a clean pan and bring back to the boil and continue to cook until it reaches the thread stage. Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Pour in the boiling syrup in a thin stream, beating well. Then slowly pour in the lemon juice and continue beating until the mixture becomes white and fluffy. Beat until completely cool. Chill for 5 minutes. Fold the whipped cream and lemon zest into the mixture. Pour into a 25 x 10 cm/10 x 4 inch terrine mould or loaf pan lined with cling film (plastic wrap). Cover and freeze until set. To Serve: Cut 2 cm/3/4 inch slices of parfait and place in the centre of each plate. Serve with a fruit salad made some exotic fruits. This parfait will keep very well for a week or so in the freezer, cover well.


Agen Stuffed Prunes with Rosewater Cream


This ancient Arab Recipe from the Middle East will change your opinion of

prunes – a pretty and delicious dish.

Serves 6

450g (1 lb) Agen prunes, pitted

Same number of fresh walnut halves

150ml (1/4 pint/gen.1/2 cup) each water and red wine or more or 300ml (1/2

pint/11/4 cups) water or cold tea.

300ml (1/2 pint/11/2 cups) cream

2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) castor sugar

1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) rose blossom water


A few chopped walnuts

Rose petals – optional

We’ve experimented with taking out the stones from both soaked and dry prunes, unsoaked worked best. Use a small knife to cut out the stones and then stuff each with half a walnut. Arrange in a single layer in a saute pan. Cover with a mixture of wine and water, or cold tea. Put the lid on the pan and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add more liquid if they become a little dry. They should be plump and soft. Lift them gently onto a serving plate in a single layer and let them cool. .Whip the cream to soft peaks, add the castor sugar and rose blossom water. Spoon blobs over the prunes and chill well. Just before serving sprinkle with rose petals and a few chopped walnuts. Just before serving, scatter a few chopped walnuts over each blob of cream, sprinkle with rose petals and serve well chilled. This dessert tastes even better next day.



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