ArchiveApril 2001

The Green School

At last there seems to be a dawning realisation that we cannot go on treating ‘mother earth’ as though there was no tomorrow. The consequences of reckless pollution of our land, rivers and lakes are clear for even the most stubborn to see. All over the country communities are coming together to protest against proposed dumps or in some cases incinerators in their area. No one wants a dump in their back yard, yet, if we all accept that the huge mountains of rubbish that each of us contributes to on a daily basis, simply has to be disposed of, somewhere, somehow by someone, we can’t just wash our hands of the whole business, we have to recognise that we all have our part to play in finding a solution to this urgent problem. Out of that is emerging from the grass roots a waste disposal plan- long overdue. However, many complain that the County Councils are still lagging in setting up recycling systems to support community efforts. I recently spent a very exciting morning at St. Mary’s Secondary School in New Ross, which is part of an EU-Eco initiative. The European ‘Green Schools’ programme which now operates in 19 countries, encourages students to adopt good environmental practices in the hope of gaining a coveted ‘Green Flag’ for their school. Only 45 European Schools out of a total of 750, have succeeded in achieving the standard required for this prestigious award so far. When I arrived for the School’s Green Day, there were literally hundreds of teenagers dressed in green uniforms in a high state of excitement, crammed into the assembly hall. They were auctioning their teachers to raise money to buy picnic tables made by the Amish Community. The unfortunate teachers who took it all in great spirit, had agreed to wear the school uniform next day, even the gym master was planning to don a skirt! Each new bid was greeted by squeals of delight and ?1,800 was raised as a result. The live-wire behind this project is a willowy blonde Drama and English teacher called Anita Fennelly. She is passionate about the environment and her enthusiasm has been infectious. Her inspiration originally came from a chance meeting. She was strolling along the riverbank close to her home in Killowen near Dunganstown, Co Wexford, when she met a ‘strange looking’ but completely intriguing English man who invited her to taste his sloe gin. The bearded gentleman turned out to be John Seymour, author of ‘Self Sufficiency’ and environmental campaigner for over 60 years. Next step was to inquire into the waste management strategy of the South East, establish a link with An Taisce and Wexford County Council. Anita managed to persuade the somewhat sceptical school management to join the Green School scheme. Anita’s first step was to divide the school into green zones and to appoint ER’s (Environmental Representatives and deputies) for each zone. Green points are awarded at the end of every week. The response from the students to the whole project has surprised and delighted everyone concerned. Joe Morrissey the long-suffering school caretaker and Wexford County Council have been wonderfully supportive according to Anita. Carol Walsh of the County Council presents prizes to the class which gain the most coveted green points. The students are actively involved in a waste disposal and recycling scheme. They are involved in making compost which is at present used to enrich the fertility of the soil in the flower beds around the school. As part of the scheme, recycling is actively promoted within the school. Consequently, bottle, can and newspaper collection points are a part of most classrooms. There are composting containers, where students can throw their leftover lunches, fruit peelings and other organic waste.are a feature of most classrooms. Other initiatives include the design and manufacture of cloth shopping bags by First Year students as an alternative to plastic. The students have also made bird boxes and bird tables as well as planting flower beds and window boxes.  They have been encouraged by their teachers to be creative with recycled waste and had made the most amazing costumes to model futuristic fashions called ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Larger than Life’. Anita Fennelly is also excited that ‘Many of the things they learn here in school are also brought home with them, so the students are not just educating themselves, but also there is a social and community aspect to it. What the project is attempting to do is to revolutionise New Ross in a subtle way’. People stop her in the street and say in incredulous voices – Miss Fennelly ‘ you know you have me segregating bottles, glass , plastic…When I spoke to the students I suggested they extend their recycling to include some free range hens, the edible scraps left over from school lunches could be fed to the hens and come back as eggs a few days later. These I suggested could be used in Home Economics cooking classes or if there was a surplus they could be sold to raise money for other environmental projects within the school.  I also suggested that they use their compost not just for flower beds but to grow fresh herbs and vegetables in an edible school yard as has been done so successfully in schools in California. The students plant the seeds and plants as part of their curriculum, and watch the fruit, vegetables and herbs grow. They are then used for cooking classes and school meals. Anita and the students were very enthusiastic, particularly about the hens – lets hope it can become a reality. This, like waste management is an essential education for real life. As part of the day’s events I did a little cookery demonstration for the Transition Year Home Economics class. I showed them how to make tasty cheddar cheese scones and how white soda bread dough makes a delicious base for pizza, and being in the great fruit growing county of Wexford I showed them how quick it is to make Raspberry Jam.

Cheddar Cheese Scones

1 lb (450 g/31/4 cup) white flour, preferably unbleached
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) salt
1 level teaspoon (1/2 American teaspoon) breadsoda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
sour milk or buttermilk to mix – 12-13 fl oz (350-375 ml) approx. egg wash
4 oz (110 g) grated cheese, we use mature cheddar.
First fully preheat the oven to 230?C/450?F/regulo 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly for a second, just enough to tidy it up. Pat the dough into a square about 1 inch (2.5 cm) deep, brush with egg wash, cut into 12 square scones. Dip the top of each scone into the grated cheddar cheese, place on a baking sheet. Bake on a hot oven for 230?C/450?F/regulo 8 for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to 200?C/ 400?F/regulo 6, for 5-10 minutes or until cooked. Serve with soup as a snack.


Pizza – White Soda Bread Base

1 lb (450g/3* cups) flour
1 level teasp./* American teasp. sugar
1 level teasp./* American teasp. breadsoda (Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda)
1 level teasp./* American teasp. salt
Sour milk or butter milk to mix – 350-425mls/12-15 fl ozs/1*-2 scant cups approx.
First fully preheat your oven to 230C/450F/regulo 8.

Sieve the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre. Pour most of the milk in at once. Using one hand, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl, adding more milk if necessary. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky. When it all comes together, turn it out onto a floured board, knead lightly for a few seconds, just enough to tidy it up. Roll out thinly to fit a large swiss roll tin 10 x 15 inch (25.5 x 38cm) or divide into 6 equal sized pieces.
Cover the dough with fillings of your choice. Bake in a fully preheated oven for 25 minutes approx. For individual pizzas roll out each piece of dough into a 6 inch (15cm) round approx. Spread with 2 tablespoons of topping eg. Piperonata, then arrange 5 or 6 thin slices of Irish Whiskey Salami on top. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of grated Mozzarella cheese and bake in a fully heated convention hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until crisp underneath and golden and bubbly on top. (Careful to roll the dough out thinly or it will not cook properly.) Toppings can be varied – tomato fondue, crispy streaky rashers, mushroom a la creme, anchovies, black olives…..


Raspberry Jam

We used frozen raspberries, but do make it in the summer when the fresh raspberries are in season.
Makes 3 x 1 lb (450g) pots
Raspberry Jam is the easiest and quickest of all jams to make, and one of the most delicious.
2 lbs (900g/8 cups) fresh raspberries
2 lbs (900g/4* cups) white sugar (use * lb (225g) less if fruit is very sweet)
Wash, dry and sterilise the jars in a moderate oven 180*C/350*F/regulo 4, for 15 minutes. Heat the sugar in a moderate oven for 5-10 minutes. Put the raspberries into a wide stainless steel saucepan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the juice begins to run, then add the hot sugar and stir over a gentle heat until fully dissolved. Increase the heat and boil steadily for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Test for a set by putting about a teaspoon of jam on a cold plate, leaving it for a few minutes in a cool place. It should wrinkle when pressed with a finger. Remove from the heat immediately. Skim and pour into sterilised jam jars. Cover immediately.  Hide the jam in a cool place or else put on a shelf in your kitchen so you can feel great every time you look at it! Anyway, it will be so delicious it won’t last long!



Spring Lamb

We had the most sweet and succulent Spring Lamb for Easter from our local butcher Michael Cuddigan. Michael, a third generation butcher buys his meat on the hoof and keeps the animals on his own farm until such time as he judges they are ready. Some of his land has never been tilled in living memory – virgin soil, full of wild flowers and a wide variety of grasses and herbs. He knows the farmers who rear the animals and what they have been fed on, this is real traceability, local food for local people. Michael, and I completely agree with him, favours the traditional Irish breedfs, fed on grass, for premium flavour, Aberdeen Angus, or Aberdeen Angus crossed with Shorthorn or Pol Angus, or Hereford. Sadly, he can’t always get these breeds nowadays because of the general shift towards continental breeds.  Like many other local butchers, he kills maiden heifer grass fed beef and hangs it for about fourteen days. The result is worth every penny, tender, with a rich beefy flavour – delicious. His simple butcher’s shop is in Cloyne, Co Cork, close to the Cathedral and Round Tower. Like many family butchers he knows his customers and their needs, sometimes even what they want for dinner. One little lad ran into his shop the other day and just asked for chops for the dinner – Michael didn’t even hesitate, he took down a loin of lamb from the hook and cut the chops on the ancient wooden butcher’s block – he seemed to know how many would be for lunch, and exactly what type of chop they’d expect – now that’s service for you! I was calling to get some lambs livers and kidneys. At this time of the year, lambs liver, kidneys and sweetbreads are at their very best, so make the most of them. Incredible value, hugely versatile, full of vitamins and minerals and cooked in minutes Lamb sweetbreads are also delicious at the moment, so seek them out in the next few weeks while they are still young and sweet. Here’s a recipe I used to enjoy at Arbutus Lodge when Declan Ryan was chef.


A warm salad of sweetbreads and walnuts

Serves 4
4 lamb sweetbreads
1 small carrot
1 onion
2 sticks celery
bouquet garni
1 pint (600 ml chicken stock
seasoned flour
beaten egg
butter and oil for sauteeing
A selection of salad leaves eg. Iceberg, oakleaf, butterhead, raddichio, sorrel, endive, rocket, watercress, French beans, cut in julienne, blanched and refreshed

Walnut dressing:
1 tablesp. white wine vinegar
1 tablesp. arachide or sunflower oil
2 tablesp. walnut oil
1 teasp. Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
8 freshly shelled walnuts
Garnish: Chive flowers

Soak the sweetbreads in a bowl of cold water for 3 hours. Dice the carrot, onion and celery and sweat in butter, add bouquet garni. Bring the chicken stock to the boil, add the vegetables. Poach the sweetbreads gently for 20 minutes. approx. Remove the gelatinous membranes and any fatty bits carefully. Prepare the salad. Wash and dry the lettuces. Slice the sweetbreads into escalopes, dip in seasoned flour and then in beaten egg. Saute in a little foaming butter and oil in a heavy pan until golden on both sides.  Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Toss the salad leaves and walnuts in the walnut dressing, divide between four plates and lay the hot sweetbreads on top of the salad, sprinkle with chive flowers and serve immediately.

Lambs Liver with Caramelized Onion and Scallion Champ

Serves 4
4 pieces of lambs liver allow 5oz (140g) per person
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 onions, sliced
seasoned flour
1/2 – 1 oz 15-25g butter
2 tablesp.  olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Mashed potato or Scallion Champ

Melt the butter and olive oil on a hot pan, add the onions and cook until soft and slightly golden. Just before serving dip the liver in well seasoned flour. Shake off the excess. Melt a little butter in a pan, add the liver and cook for just a minute or two on each side. Transfer to a hot plate, add the onion to the pan, add a dash of balsamic vinegar and allow to bubble and heat through. Spoon onto the plate beside the liver. Serve with fluffy mashed potato or scallion champ.

Scallion Champ

Serves 4-6
A bowl of mashed potatoes flecked with green scallions and a blob of butter melting in the centre is ‘comfort’ food at its best.
3lb (1.5kg) 6-8 unpeeled ‘old’ potatoes e.g. Golden Wonders or Kerrs Pinks
4oz (110g) chopped scallions or spring onions (use the bulb and green stem) or 45g chopped chives
10-12 fl oz (350ml) milk
2-4oz (55-110g) butter
salt and freshly ground pepper

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

Lambs Kidneys on Rosemary Skewers

This is a delicious recipe for the barbecue, but it can also be cooked under a grill.
4 lambs kidneys
olive oil
fresh herbs, eg. rosemary, thyme, parsley or marjoram
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 rosemary sprigs about 6 inches (15cm) long
garlic and parsley butter- see below

Remove the fat and membrane from the kidneys. Open out flat into a ‘butterfly’ shape. Spear each kidney with a rosemary sprig, put them on a plate, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little chopped herbs. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Preheat a grill or better still pop them onto a barbecue. Sprinkle the kidneys with salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side depending on size. Serve immediately with a tiny blob of garlic and parsley butter melting into the centre of each.

Garlic and parsley butter

2 ozs (55g/4 level tablesp.) butter
4 teasp. finely chopped parsley
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

Cream the butter, stir in the parsley and a few drops of lemon juice at a time. Add the crushed garlic. Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.

Lambs Kidneys in Grainy Mustard Sauce

Serves 2 as a starter
4 lambs kidneys
a little butter
2 dessertsps. of Irish wholegrain mustard
150ml) full cream
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Remove the skin and membrane from the kidneys and cut into bite-sized pieces. Saute in a little butter on the pan, turn occasionally until nicely cooked, approx. 5 minutes on a medium heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the cream and mustard, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and correct seasoning. Serve immediately.

Liver with Dubonnet and Orange

Serves 4-6
1 tablesp. olive oil
1 oz. (15-30g) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lb (450g) lamb’s liver
seasoned flour
2 tablesp. fresh orange juice
8 tablesp. red Dubonnet
1 tablesp. finely chopped parsley
a little grated orange rind
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
Garnish: Flat parsley

Heat the olive oil and butter together in a deep frying pan, sweat the finely chopped onions and crushed garlic over a very low heat until soft but not coloured. Cut the liver into slices about * inch (1 cm) thick, coat with seasoned flour. When the onions are cooked, add the slices of liver to the pan in a single layer and continue to cook over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn the liver over, reduce the heat and cook for a slightly shorter time on the other side. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the liver as well as on personal taste, but don’t overcook it or it will be leathery. Transfer the liver and onions to a warm plate. Add the orange juice and Dubonnet to the juices left in the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for a couple of minutes until the sauce has reduced by almost half. Add the parsley, a little orange and lemon rind and give it a final stir and taste. Pour over the liver, garnish with flat parsley and serve immediately.


Hot Irishman

Almost every week new products are launched, restaurants are opened, bargain offers and press releases pour onto my desk – I can rarely attend and sometimes I scarcely manage to glance at the details, depending on how hectic things are. A recent press release from Bord Bia sent directly for my attention, announced that “The Hot Irishman scoops Gold in the ‘Oscars’ of the Airline and Catering Industry.”
For the first time an Irish company has just been awarded the much coveted Gold Mercury Award in the Food or Beverage Products category at the International Flight Catering Association Annual Conference and Trade Show (IFCA) in Barcelona for the Hot Irishman, an Irish coffee in a bottle. The Hot Irishman was one of six companies which exhibited under the Board Bia ‘Ireland The Food Island’ banner at IFCA.
This is the first time an Irish product is in receipt of the Gold Mercury Award, Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of Board Bia was understandably delighted. ‘This award is considered the most prestigious for innovation, quality of application and customer satisfaction. It is eagerly sought after by many of the best catering companies in the world.’  I vaguely glanced over the blurb, thought that’s terrific, sounds like another runner to join the prestigious Irish beverage stable and dumped it in the bin and promptly forgot about it. Just as I finished my cooking demonstration a few days later, I was told that Mr. Walsh who made the Hot Irishman was waiting to see me. Turns out he’s married to one of ‘my babies’ as I affectionately call my past students, but of course I hadn’t recognised the name because I knew her as Rosemary Mulhall and she has since become Rosemary Walsh.
The Hot Irishman is the brainchild of this creative couple. Basically, it’s a brilliantly simple concept – a blend of Irish Coffee in a bottle, that can be used to make a perfect hassle-free Irish Coffee anywhere in the world. Simple though it sounds it took several years of research to perfect the formula. Great care has been taken to use only the finest Colombian coffee, Irish whiskey and golden brown Irish sugar. The blending process used ensures that the cream will sit on top and the result is a luxurious Irish Coffee of consistent flavour and texture. According to Bernard they got their inspiration when Rosemary changed career from that of a software engineer in London to attend a 3-month course at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Since then Rosemary’s life has taken a whole new twist. With the help of the Cookery School Rosemary secured a “job” (in hindsight a holiday!) running a ski chalet in Meribel, France. It was here that Rosemary perfected the art of making Irish Coffees. Every night following a “Ballymaloe special” dinner, Rosemary would make Irish Coffee for all of her guests. It was her signature, and one the guests eagerly looked forward to. However, making 20 or 30 Irish Coffees at 11 o’clock at night was a challenge at the best of times. Just when the last morsel of food had been eaten and the kitchen was ship shape for the following day’s work, Rosemary just wanted to collapse into the couch. Making Irish Coffees can be fun but only if you have the right ingredients and a lot of patience.
To complicate matters even further, when Bernard helped out at weekends the guests commented that the Irish Coffee didn’t taste the same. At that point they recognised the opportunity to make a product to simplify the making of Irish Coffee. Back home in Carlow when her season in Meribel was finished, Rosemary produced the very first Hot Irishman in her home in Castlemore. Encouraged by these trials, the Walshs worked for nine months with an independent drinks’ laboratory in Dublin. Following endless days and nights of tasting many different whiskey, coffee and sugar combinations, they arrived at the perfect balance of a dark roasted Colombian coffee, a smooth single malt Irish Whiskey, and golden brown Carlow sugar. Before the recipe was finally accepted the Irish Coffee was tested by hundreds of people from over 31 countries. The naming of the product was just as much fun. Rather than pay thousands to some marketing company, Rosemary and Bernard involved a circle of 20 friends and family to brainstorm and after a long night of sampling! The Hot Irishman was born. The company was formed in June 1999 and Rosemary left her job to concentrate on building the family business. Meanwhile on the 31st of December 1999 her daughter Isobel was born. This was the catalyst, which convinced Bernard to give up his job on the international software market and return home to take responsibility for developing the markets for the Hot Irishman while Rosemary concentrated on the production and operations side of the business. They have never looked back since. So now isn’t that an exciting story. So where can you find it – well its already being served in over 200 outlets, hotels, restaurants, food led bars and getting a fantastic reaction.  Things are also happening in the US, UK and Spain which has the biggest consumption of Irish Coffee in Europe – Irish coffee is served in 70% of all café bars in major cities.  This recent Airline and Catering Industry Award has been a huge bonus. The product got a tremendous response from the airline industry because its one of the few after dinner drinks that most airlines would love to serve but could not. Traditionally there are five steps involved in making Irish Coffee on board, but that’s five steps too many for busy cabin crew, the Hot Irishman has reduced the process to one simple task similar to making tea or coffee. Trials are already taking place on some of the world’s largest carriers so look out for The Hot Irishman next time you are out on the town or airborne.

Irish Coffee Meringue

Serves 6-8
2 egg whites
41/2 ozs (125g\generous 1 cup) icing sugar
2 teasp. instant coffee powder (not granules)
1/2 pint (300ml\11/4 cups) whipped cream
2 tablesp. (2 American tablesp. + 2 teasp.) approx. Irish whiskey or Hot Irishman to taste.
Chocolate coffee beans
Silicone paper – Bakewell

Draw 2 x 71/2 inch (18cm) circles onto a sheet of silicone paper. Then turn them over so the pencil or pen doesn’t mark the meringue. Put the egg whites into a spotlessly clean and dry bowl. Add all the icing sugar except 2 tablespoons. Whisk until the mixture stands in firm dry peaks. It may take 10-15 minutes. Sieve the coffee with the remaining icing sugar together and fold in carefully. Spread the meringue carefully with a palette knife onto the circles on the silicone paper. Bake in a very low oven 150C\300F\regulo 2 for approx. 1 hour or until crisp. The discs should peel easily from the paper. Allow to get quite cold. Add the whiskey or Hot Irishman to the whipped cream. Sandwich the meringue discs together with Irish whiskey flavoured cream. Pipe 5 rosettes of cream on top. Decorate with chocolate coffee beans if available.


Irish Coffee Meringue Roulade

Ingredients as above
Swiss roll tin 12 inches x 8 inches (30.5cm x 20.5cm) lined with silicone paper
Make the meringue as above.
Meanwhile, line a swiss roll tin with tin foil, brush lightly with a non scented oil (eg. sunflower or arachide)
Spread the meringue gently over the tin with a palette knife, it ought to be quite thick and bouncy. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Put a sheet of tin foil on the work – top and turn the roulade onto it, remove the base tin foil and allow the meringue to cool.
To Assemble
Spread the whiskey cream over the meringue, roll up from the long side and carefully ease onto a serving plate. Pipe 6 –8 rosettes along the top of the roulade, decorate with chocolate coffee beans.
Serve, cut into slices about 1 inch (2.5cm) thick.



Easter Egg Hunt

I love hens, we’ve had hens as long as I can remember. In fact one of my very earliest memories was of going to feed the hens at the end of the paddock behind our house, clutching Betty’s hand tightly. She’d carry a big bucket of scraps and I’d have some little bread crusts and vegetable peelings in my little sand bucket to scatter out to them. When the hens eagerly ran towards us I was filled with a mixture of terror and delight. At that stage I wasn’t much taller than a hen!

Here at the Cookery School we have a wonderful flock of Speckledys and Hebden Blacks, happy, lazy, hens that feed on scraps, vegetable peelings and organic feed. They roam over the grass, scratch to their hearts’ content and have dust baths in the sun. They reward us with the most beautiful free range eggs.  The students love them – one American chap in particular Doug, loved to feed the hens. He just loved the way they all ran towards him eagerly. ‘They’re the only appreciative females I’ve ever met in my entire life.’, he explained in his inimitable wry way. ! He prophesied to younger chaps on the course they would never again meet such devotion!
Apart from the Speckledy and Hebden Blacks, we’ve got quite a collection of rare breeds which I’d love to add to even further – we have Silkies, Cochins, Buff Orpingtons, Marans, Pekin, Hamburgs, Anconas, Campinos, Welshrunner…. Some lay brown speckledy eggs, others like the anconas almost blue, so beautiful. In fact if I had to choose my last meal it would be a delicious boiled free-range egg with little soldiers of Timmy’s soda bread – a forgotten flavour for most people nowadays.
I was convinced that absolutely everyone knew about boiled eggs – to our astonishment this week, we met not one but two people who had never eaten a boiled egg before, so we delighted in introducing them to the most fundamental gourmet experience by collecting a few eggs from the nest underneath the rosemary bush outside my kitchen door. In many countries there is a tradition of dyeing and painting eggs to be given as presents, this is a tradition that we very much foster in our family and in fact our clever hens actually lay coloured eggs with childrens’ names on them on Easter Sunday!
The Easter bunny also makes nests all round the garden in clumps of daffodils and shrubs and lays chocolate eggs and baby chocolate bunnies. So after the children have eaten their very own boiled eggs for breakfast the doors burst open and they career in wild excitement around the garden searching for the Easter bunny’s hiding places – the result – deliriously happy children covered from head to toe in chocolate and a trampled garden!
Happy Easter.

Boiled Eggs and Dippies

Mothers all over the country cut up fingers of toast for children to dip into soft-boiled eggs. In my husband Tim’s family they were called soldiers, but we called them dippies.
2 fresh free range eggs
salt and freshly ground pepper
a few pats of butter
1 slice of fresh white pan loaf
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, bring the water back to the boil and simmer gently for 4-6 minutes, according to your taste. A four minute egg will be still quite soft, five minutes will almost set the white while the yolk will still be runny, 6 minutes will produce a boiled egg with a soft yolk and solid white.  Meanwhile toast the bread, cut off the crusts and spread with butter. Cut in fingers. Immediately the eggs are cooked, pop them into egg cups, put the dippies on the side and serve with a pepper mill, sea salt and a few pats of butter.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

How about a really luscious chocolate gateau for Easter.
Serves 10-12
If you use a really powerful mixer to beat the genoise, the mixture need not be whisked over hot water, this step cannot be eliminated however when using a small or hand-held mixer. Overall I find I get the best and most stable result when whisked over hot water.
31/2 ozs (100g/ two-third cup) flour
1 oz (30g/1/4 cup) cocoa powder (Dutch process)
1/2 level teasp. baking powder
2 ozs (55g/1/2 stick) butter (if you are using unsalted butter, use a pinch of salt also)
4 free-range eggs
5 ozs (140g/two-third cup) castor sugar
Chocolate Mousse
10 ozs (285g) best quality dark chocolate, chopped
6 free-range eggs, separated
6 ozs (170g/11/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Essence or 1 tablespoon (1 American tablespoon + 1 teaspoon) Grand Marnier liqueur
Chocolate Discs
6 ozs (170g) best quality dark chocolate
Chocolate Caraque
8 ozs (225g) best quality dark chocolate
Chantilly Cream
1 pint (570ml/21/2 cups) whipped cream
2 tablespoons (2 American tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) icing sugar
1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Essence
Speckled mini Chocolate eggs and yellow chicks to decorate
9 inch (23cm) diameter genoise tin or a round cake tin with 21/2 inch (6.5cm) sides
3 inch (7.5cm) diameter plain round cutter,
Pastry bag and medium star tube
Wire rack
Brush the inside of the cake tin with melted butter. As an extra precaution, line the base with a circle of greaseproof paper that exactly fits, and butter it also. Leave it for a few minutes and then sprinkle the tin with flour, discarding the excess. Sieve the flour with the cocoa, baking powder and salt. Clarify the butter by melting gently, allow to sit for a few minutes and then skim off the crusty top layer, the clarified butter is the clear butter. Discard the milky residue at the base also.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4. Put the eggs in a large pyrex bowl, gradually whisk in the castor sugar. Set the bowl in a saucepan over barely simmering water. Whisk until the mixture is light and thick enough to make a distinct figure of 8 when the whisk is lifted – about 8-10 minutes. Take the bowl from the heat, add the vanilla essence and continue beating until cooled. Sieve one third of the flour and cocoa over the mixture, folding in as lightly as possible with a wooden spatula or metal spoon, fold in another third in the same careful way and finally the remainder. Just after the last batch, pour the cool butter around the sides of the bowl and fold in gently and quickly because the whisked mixture quickly loses volume after the butter is added.  Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes approx. or until the cake shrinks slightly from the sides of the tin and the top springs back when lightly pressed in the centre with a finger.  Allow to sit in the tin for a minute or two, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  When the cake is completely cold it may be stored in an airtight cake tin for a few days or it may be frozen.
For the Chocolate Mousse
Melt the chocolate in a pyrex bowl over hot water or in a very cool oven, stir until smooth. Whisk the egg yolks one by one into the hot mixture so it thickens slightly. Whisk in the butter and vanilla essence or liqueur. Allow to cool slightly. Whip the egg whites until stiff, add the tepid chocolate mixture to them and fold the two together as lightly as possible, the warm mixture will lightly cook and stiffen the whites. Leave to cool at room temperature, not in the fridge, otherwise the mousse will harden and become difficult to spread.
Next make the chocolate discs. Melt 6 ozs (170g) of the chocolate in a pyrex bowl over hot water, stir until smooth. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Pour the chocolate onto a piece of greaseproof paper, spread into a thin even layer with a spatula, allow to cool until set. Use the 3 inch (7.5cm) cutter to make rounds of chocolate, then cut 3 almond shapes from each round – you will need about 30.

Chocolate Caraque

Melt the chocolate and spread it thinly with a palette knife onto a marble slab. Allow it to set almost completely and then with a sharp knife or a paint scraper, shave off long, thin scrolls. Use a slightly sawing movement and keep your hand upright. This is fun to do but there’s quite a lot of skill involved – you’ll get good at it with practice and you can always eat the rejects!

Chantilly Cream

Add the icing sugar and vanilla essence to the chilled whipped cream, stir gently, cover and chill until needed

To Assemble the Cake. With a very sharp long bladed knife, split the genoise carefully in 3 layers. Spread a generous layer of chocolate mousse on the bottom layer. Place the second layer of genoise on top and spread it with half of the Chantilly cream, reserving the remaining cream for decoration. Top with the third layer and spread the remaining mousse on the top and sides of the cake.
To Finish
Arrange the chocolate shapes around the edge, placing them at an angle. Pipe vertical ruffs of Chantilly cream between them. Scatter the long curls of chocolate caraque over the top and arrange them in a nest. Dust first with cocoa and then with icing sugar. Fill the nest with speckled mini chocolate eggs and put a few yellow chicks hatching on top. Serve on a glass cake stand if available.


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